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Rhys Cordelle
10-25-2009, 03:32 AM
Hi all.

I'm working on a fantasy novel and one of the central themes is around religious conflict. An "atheist" noble woman manages to rise to power in a city that is highly controlled by the church, because her predecessor was a strong believer. So within this city there is a sort of power struggle between believers and non believers, while northward there is another major city where eight different gods (including the god worshipped down south) are treated as a pantheon, and all are free to worship as they please. Regardless of who wins the power struggle in the south, they will be at odds with the religious teachings of the northern city.

Basically wanting to explore non belief, monotheistic and pantheistic religions in a non earth setting so that I don't feel restricted by not wanting to offend people of particular religions, or feeling like there's something that just can't be said.

I am an atheist but I am very interested in religious thinking and practices. My question here, for those of you who write fiction with religion and/or atheism as a theme, is how do you control your personal bias? How can I avoid "preaching" about atheism?

Paul
10-25-2009, 03:37 AM
wow.
Don't envy you on that one.
But maybe viewing Atheism as another religion - as in it has a set of beliefs maybe?
Think Southpark did a fairly good job on that once, starting with Cartman waiting for the new Wii. (Ah, Cartman, one of the greatest comic figures ever...)

Brutal Mustang
10-25-2009, 03:42 AM
Atheism is a religion--a set of beliefs, if you will. How does an atheist know for sure there is no God, any more than a religious person knows there is a God? Anyhow, as for bias, I just let mine fly. I don't try and control them. They are part of what gives me my voice.

veinglory
10-25-2009, 03:45 AM
So long as he protagonist doesn't prevail *because* she is athiest, the preaching-potential is fairly low IMHO.

Rhys Cordelle
10-25-2009, 10:37 AM
I probably should ignore that comment but atheism is not based on faith. Strong atheism (which I, and most other atheists do not support) is the form of atheism which states that there definitely is no god. I would agree with you that there is no evidence to support that viewpoint. But don't tar us all with the same brush please.

Melisande
10-27-2009, 11:17 AM
I am an atheist but I am very interested in religious thinking and practices. My question here, for those of you who write fiction with religion and/or atheism as a theme, is how do you control your personal bias? How can I avoid "preaching" about atheism?

By not 'preaching'!

Atheism (as I perceive the concept) is the notion that there are no gods; that the whole religious concept is not for me, and what I (maybe falsely) imagine to be the same sentiment as my peers. Why argue about it?

Your idea of;



An "atheist" noble woman manages to rise to power in a city that is highly controlled by the church, because her predecessor was a strong believer.

sounds fake to me. Why 'Athist' in brackets? Why does she manage to rise to power 'because' her predecessor was a strong believer? Why not from her own merits? How could she even rise into power if considered an atheist in a city where the church has a stronghold?

Melisande
10-27-2009, 11:34 AM
Atheism is a religion

No, that would be one of the more cherished misconceptions in the religious realm. Atheism is really the absence of religion.


How does an atheist know for sure there is no God, any more than a religious person knows there is a God?

A true non-believer -or atheist as some prefer to call us - is actually convinced that the 'god'-concept has been invented by man.

Ruv Draba
10-27-2009, 12:04 PM
Basically wanting to explore non belief, monotheistic and pantheistic religions in a non earth setting so that I don't feel restricted by not wanting to offend people of particular religions, or feeling like there's something that just can't be said.

I am an atheist but I am very interested in religious thinking and practices. My question here, for those of you who write fiction with religion and/or atheism as a theme, is how do you control your personal bias? How can I avoid "preaching" about atheism?

I have several suggestions. Hopefully one may meet your needs.

Answer 1: Don't flinch from your values.

By definition, religious literature endorses its own values. The 'comfort' factor built into religious myth frequently requires that hard questions have answers agreeable to people of that faith. Atheists can find that position intrinsically preachy. (I've helped Christian friends edit and polish their writing for example, but have to set aside my views about the message to do so.)

Conversely, if as an atheist, you believe that hard questions don't always have agreeable answers, and if that view finds its way into your writing then your writing may intrinsically challenge religious thought. Readers who don't welcome that challenge may also find it preachy. There's nothing to be done about that. Recognise that you'll probably alienate some readers.

Likewise, your idea of an agreeable answer may simply be different because of your values. Again, there's nothing to be done about that. Christian literature doesn't necessarily appeal to Buddhists; stories written by atheists won't necessarily appeal to theists.

Answer 2: Beware the 'single story'.

No culture is homogeneous. There is a huge range of diversity in every population. But humans have a tendency to only recognise diversity in their own tribe, and to simplify every other tribe to a single stereotype. It's bad writing and sloppy thinking, and no writer should do it. Whatever faith you write about, tell more than one story about it. Let the characters, not the dogma, be the story -- that way you'll write fiction and not simply propaganda.

Answer 3: Let the story follow the conflict; let the conflict follow the characters.

Every character can't be broad-minded, tolerant, adaptible and insightful or there would be no conflict. It's the bigotry, intolerance, rigidity and stupidity of humanity that creates the stories we want to read. Ultimately, conflict takes root in the flaws of our characters. So you need to let them be flawed.

Let the flaws be surprising, interesting, understandable -- if not always sympathetic. Give your characters a mixture of sympathetic and unsympathetic and they'll be balanced, credible and interesting. Add diversity as well, and readers will see the balance and the humanity in your writing. It still may not appeal to everyone, but you won't give readers cause to see your writing as dismissive, shallow or bigoted.

Hope that helps.

Ruv Draba
10-27-2009, 02:30 PM
Answer 4: Don't fear the unfamiliar

The stories that change us aren't the ones we've heard time and again; they're the new stories, with new and sometimes controversial perspectives. Writing-as-entertainment thrives on the familiar, the safely novel; but writing-as-art thrives on challenging and provoking us.

Historically, religious literature has had thousands of years to establish and mature its mythology, including its mythology about non-belief. For much of that period there were few or no stories in which religious disbelief was represented as having any sort of social value. Even now, when posters here ask about atheistic fiction it's rather hard to nail down any that everyone has read. On the other hand, ask for religious fiction and everyone -- even atheists -- can cite hundreds of famous tales.

Ask an average person in the street what sort of person an atheist is and you may hear that they're hedonistic, communistic, arrogant, amoral and selfish. Certainly, some atheists might be some or all of those things. But what about the atheists who sacrifice for their religious friends? What about the ones who co-exist peacefully with folk of many different faiths? Who contribute to charities? Who suffer for reasons of conscience? Who tells their stories?

Here's a hint: it probably won't be theistic authors of religious fiction, any time soon.

Added: Here's a very inspirational address (http://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story.ht ml) from African author Chimimanda Adichie on the danger of the single story. Thanks to Williebee for originally furnishing this link.

Ruv Draba
10-27-2009, 04:00 PM
Answer 5: Sometimes, religion may be the right answer.

Ursula Le Guin is an atheist writer who enjoys writing about gods. I've also written a story where to me, the right answer for one character (a child born of two ethnicities, suffering bigotry from both) was to get pious and join a Christian monastery. We may be atheistic in our own outlook, but there's nothing to stop us from writing religion sympathetically and positively if it's right for the character in that situation.

(Curiously, that tale was the one story that really offended my Christian friends -- because my character also subscribed to a famous mediaeval heresy; but that too was right for the character, or so I felt.)

Rhys Cordelle
10-27-2009, 05:43 PM
il say more later as typing on a psp now and its slow going. i said "atheist" because the character doesnt identify as an atheist because the term doesnt exist in this setting. That sentence about her predecessor was poorly written. I meant the predecessor gave power to the church by obeying church leaders. The woman gains power because the church does not have authority to decide who rules

Sarpedon
10-29-2009, 11:04 PM
I've been trying to avoid it, myself.

When I first wrote my opening to my WIP, I had it start with a murder in a temple, but found a number of things creeping in. So I changed it to a bath house.

I now more or less intend to treat religion as primarily a ritual thing in the story. Various people hold various religious views, but there's never any talk about it beyond how these rituals relate to the story. If there's anything atheistic about my story, it is that the characters have no way of knowing whether or not there are any gods, and what those gods may want, just as in real life. So they more or less go through the motions and keep their own opinions, just as in real life.

DeleyanLee
10-29-2009, 11:24 PM
I am an atheist but I am very interested in religious thinking and practices. My question here, for those of you who write fiction with religion and/or atheism as a theme, is how do you control your personal bias? How can I avoid "preaching" about atheism?

There's a couple of ways you avoid any preaching of theme by being honest with your exploration of it.

While your "good guys" can agree with you, don't paint your non-good guys with stereotypical viewpoints. Just because you have a bias against people who believe, I'm sure you know good people who hold such beliefs. Use them as models for those characters as you explore how your theme impacts their society and the story. Just don't paint everyone in your book with one brush. The details make all the difference.

I'm not an atheist, I'm non-Christian, but since I write a lot of historically set stories, the vast majority of my characters are. Just because I can't agree with their belief systems doesn't mean that I can't put my religious passion into their belief system and strengthen their conviction on paper. Religious exploration--what is right, what is moral, why people believe what they believe--is a reoccuring theme or sub-theme in my work as well, so I know the challenge you're talking about.

I treat themes like this like a many-faceted jewel. Each character is a different facet, a slightly different viewpoint/stance on the social/moral scale I'm discussing in the novel. Some I think are inherently better than others, but they're all valid, real and meaningful to those characters. Just remembering that the characters are the reader's main vehicle into the story helps keep me focus and honest with the theme.

Hope that helps.

zornhau
11-06-2009, 12:26 AM
Make their atheism real for that world: why is she an atheist? Does it stem from some wider world view?

Takign me as an example. I am an atheist because I am a rationalist*. That rationalism pervades most of my life to the extent that you could probably predict my atheism from my general approach to life, e.g. an insistence on evidence before I believe something, and acceptance that "should" is not the same as "is".

*I don't see rationalism as a faith, since everybody has to embrace a rational, evidence-based approach to the world in order to survive in it. Religious people set aside an area of their world view in which rationalism does not apply.

Rhys Cordelle
11-07-2009, 04:18 PM
On reflection this was a silly question to ask. I guess I was just concerned about coming across as "preachy" (if one can be said to preach atheism...).

The funny thing is none of my characters exactly share my views on religion, and the particular "atheist" in question is more like an anti theist. She doesn't agree with the church teachings and doesn't want them to hold power over the masses, but she hasn't come to an informed decision that she is an atheist.

Salis
11-12-2009, 11:16 AM
One really interesting thing you can do with Atheists in fantasy settings is make them aggressive and meaningful. What I mean by that is... in the real world, atheists really just exist as a reaction to belief, and mock it.

One (fun) model is where Gods actually require belief to survive (or grow stronger). Atheists in that model can actually commit guerrilla warfare (and other Gods can undermine each other) by converting people to their cause. You could even have a subplot where the Atheists are the catspaw of some God who is trying to rise to prominence by erasing the rest.

That may be a little too fantasy for you, though, if you're going for a purely realistic exploration of theistic themes.

SLake
11-20-2009, 05:34 AM
I liked Ruv Draba's answers, probably sold by the wolf pic too, but I appreciated all the input in this thread because many facets were explored which gave me lots to think about. Thanks y'all!

My initial problems with religion / non religion was similar to Rhys' but I was writing historically - character driven, so religion; non, even anti figured. Then other factors like love, hate and murder.

So from another perspective entirely - would you be uncomfortable to be seen to have an "opinion" on murder? Well probably not, but rather it's what a character does and it's part of the story. (Not saying murder's part of your story, Rhys, just using murder as an altered perspective).

In that sense my characters have varied religious opinions - those that I've noticed people projecting, I guess: the zealot; the pro religious; anti religious; everyday religious and the apathetic.

My opinions I keep separate because the story isn't about me. My characters' beliefs like those of other people contain many more nuances
of reasons and personal history than I couldn't fully appreciate, I think.

Though what I have enjoyed is characters with two entirely opposite opinions on the same subject, each as passionate and convincing. That's conflict, I guess. Maybe I like it because I get the chance to argue I'm right twice over :D

I dunno, maybe you are preaching, but don't want to admit it to yourself? Sorry, just a suggestion - writing can get deep so that I find myself asking myself all sorts of awkward questions. Questions I'd rather avoid, but ones that must be answered, and when they are answered my stories feel more real, more credible.

But placing myself aside it becomes easier when my pov is from the character in question. IE: in the altered world of my story, me as character X, what do I feel given myself, my history and what is around me?

Doing this takes the pressure off me the writer. Immersed in a character I can be a zealot or apathetic or even a killer. The more I believe I am the character and understand their reasons, the more convincing the character can become. The beauty is that afterwards I can switch off the word processor and relax with my beloved family.

Hittman
11-20-2009, 09:43 AM
J. Michael Straczynski and Joss Whedon are both atheists who write beautifully about religious characters. One of the primary themes of Babylon 5 was how the religious beliefs of various races affected them, and everything else in the universe. He did it without ever being condescending or dismissive.

My WIP has a born-again Christian the other characters don't like. That dislike is exacerbated when, because of his religion, he messes up everything and creates a huge setback. But toward the end of the story he, and only he, can save the day, because he's a BAC. I'm having to work extra hard on the character, because I don't like him and I'm afraid I've made him a bit too stereotypical in the first draft. For the second draft I need get inside his head more and flesh him out.

fullbookjacket
11-26-2009, 07:12 PM
Interesting stuff.

My suggestion would be to simply write the first draft and put in everything and anything you want to say about religion, and don't worry about how it sounds. Then put it aside for a month and read it straight through. You should be able to identify by tone anything that sounds preachy and then rework it to fit more into the flow of the story or the characters' voices and thoughts.

Most importantly, remember that it's your voice and your idea. If it must be said, don't censor it.

To the poster that claims that atheism is a religion, I recommend a basic amount of homework. Atheism could be considered a religion in only the loosest and laziest of terms. It has no church, no myths, no protocols, no symbols, no organization, no rituals, no absolute statements.

Rhys Cordelle
11-27-2009, 02:50 AM
Atheism could be considered a religion in only the loosest and laziest of terms.

Indeed, to the point where 'religion' would be a useless term.

Thanks for the advice re the first draft. I'll do that.

Mr Flibble
11-27-2009, 03:01 AM
I am an atheist but I am very interested in religious thinking and practices. My question here, for those of you who write fiction with religion and/or atheism as a theme, is how do you control your personal bias? How can I avoid "preaching" about atheism?


I had a very similar problem.

I solved it by having my character suffer from the 'what would happen if you took that tenet, the most basic one of my religion', and warped it.

What I believe may or may not be apparent in my writing. I'd hope not, but some is bound to leak out

Don't send a message. Tell a story. If parts of that story support what you believe, fine. But parts won't ( because of the conflict) and you have to write those just as convincingly.

Your character has attributes, use them. Don't be afraid to show the failts and flaws of every view, along with the pluses. While your worldview will leak in, try and be objective as possible and think only about what your characters would do.

What you believe is immaterial ( unless you're writing a sermon :D) - it's the story that matters

However you write it - People will take their own message from it - this is from one who for too long believed LOTR was a book about her religion, not Christianity, because I saw different symbols ( or interpreted them differently) that Tolkien

Brutal Mustang
11-27-2009, 03:37 AM
To the poster that claims that atheism is a religion, I recommend a basic amount of homework. Atheism could be considered a religion in only the loosest and laziest of terms. It has no church, no myths, no protocols, no symbols, no organization, no rituals, no absolute statements.

One of the definitions of religion in my old Webster dictionary is this: something which has a powerful hold on a person's way of thinking, interests, etc.

Under this definition, yes, atheism is a religion. Atheism affects a person's beliefs and ways of thinking, just as a Buddism, or Christianity, etc. may affect another person's thinking and beliefs.

Simple logic.

Hittman
11-27-2009, 08:21 AM
Atheism affects a person's beliefs and ways of thinking, just as a Buddism, or Christianity, etc. may affect another person's thinking and beliefs.

I'm guessing you don't believe in Zeus or Baal. How deeply that that affect your thinking and beliefs?

zornhau
11-27-2009, 05:41 PM
One of the definitions of religion in my old Webster dictionary is this: something which has a powerful hold on a person's way of thinking, interests, etc.

Under this definition, yes, atheism is a religion. Atheism affects a person's beliefs and ways of thinking, just as a Buddism, or Christianity, etc. may affect another person's thinking and beliefs.

Simple logic.

Not if your atheism is a product of your rationalism.

Think of it this way: your disbelief in Thor is a product of your Christianity.

So, yes, call Rationalism a religion. I can see advantages to that.

fullbookjacket
11-27-2009, 05:55 PM
One of the definitions of religion in my old Webster dictionary is this: something which has a powerful hold on a person's way of thinking, interests, etc.

Under this definition, yes, atheism is a religion. Atheism affects a person's beliefs and ways of thinking, just as a Buddism, or Christianity, etc. may affect another person's thinking and beliefs.

Simple logic.

I'm aware of that definition, which is the loosest and laziest of them all. My point exactly.

It's like saying my love for Gator football, which has a powerful hold on my way of thinking and interests, is therefore my religion. It's more of a rhetorical device than anything based in the common definition of "religion."

Hittman
11-27-2009, 08:12 PM
God and religion is such a huge part of some people's lives that they can't imagine anyone thinking differently. Their god is so real to them, and their dogma such a driving force in their lives, that they can't even conceive that someone really truly doesn't believe in any gods or need a religion to guide them. So the conclude that atheists hate god, or that something else is their god, because after all, everyone must have a god of some sort to drive them. The need atheism to be a religion, so they insist that it is, even if that requires redefining the word.

Ruv Draba
11-27-2009, 11:43 PM
One of the definitions of religion in my old Webster dictionary is this: something which has a powerful hold on a person's way of thinking, interests, etc.

Under this definition, yes, atheism is a religion. Atheism affects a person's beliefs and ways of thinking, just as a Buddism, or Christianity, etc. may affect another person's thinking and beliefs.
Since atheism can include utter indifference to theism and theistic rituals (so there's nothing to actually think about), I think that 'powerful hold' may be a stretch. For the historical meaning of the term religion, please see below:



religion (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=religion) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=religion)c.1200, "state of life bound by monastic vows," also "conduct indicating a belief in a divine power," from Anglo-Fr. religiun (11c.), from O.Fr. religion "religious community," from L. religionem (nom. religio) "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods," in L.L. "monastic life" (5c.); according to Cicero, derived from relegare "go through again, read again," from re- "again" + legere "read" (see lecture (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=lecture)). However, popular etymology among the later ancients (and many modern writers) connects it with religare "to bind fast" (see rely (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=rely)), via notion of "place an obligation on," or "bond between humans and gods." Another possible origin is religiens "careful," opposite of negligens. Meaning "particular system of faith" is recorded from c.1300.
"To hold, therefore, that there is no difference in matters of religion between forms that are unlike each other, and even contrary to each other, most clearly leads in the end to the rejection of all religion in both theory and practice. And this is the same thing as atheism, however it may differ from it in name." [Pope Leo XIII, Immortale Dei, 1885]Modern sense of "recognition of, obedience to, and worship of a higher, unseen power" is from 1530s. Religious is first recorded early 13c. Transfered sense of "scrupulous, exact" is recorded from 1590s.An old friend would sometimes put forward the quote that atheism is no more a religion than baldness is a hair-style.

veinglory
11-28-2009, 12:04 AM
Under that broadly defined approach gender would be a religion, as would nationality, the scientific method, musical interests and age.

I think it is theo-centric to equate any strong and important beleif with religion. I have many beleifs, philosophies, interests and personality traits. But I have no religion.

SLake
11-28-2009, 02:47 AM
As with Rhys I think fullbookjacket got it right for me by saying something like: put the writing aside after a month and reread, which probably most of us do as routine.

The atheist thing is probably slightly off-topic, although it is a consideration for Rhys, inasmuch it seems to me -atheist = religion / not a religion- is an ongoing etymological problem that hasn't been solved, or probably 'clarified' which appears to be in evidence here, with arguments (or questions) going both ways.

So I think etymologies need to be clarified and updated. Having written a good deal about it -unpublished- here's my style of approach which I hope is useful:

Do religious folk have traits that can be recognized in all peoples worldwide, even atheists? I think so, so step one is probably: do you believe that your beliefs are right?

Presuming your answer is yes, then whatever you believe is a belief. Sure there are shades of belief, I'm not questioning that, only that you have belief. Whether it's strong, weak or middling - backed by proof; logical deduction; or an Almighty is not in question either. So sure, 'there are shades of belief,' but the question is: do you have belief? I could refine that, but I hope you see what I mean.

Probably: of course you have belief. I think belief is a human trait. But, whether the belief is strong, weak middling would be a secondary categorization. And whether it's right or wrong belief is whole other category...

So I'd say there are two ways to approach the atheist is religious / not religious question which is why confusion arises. There's the bones of my position, which is human have traits, belief is one of them. Then there's studies of the etymologies we already have, which is another approach.

Concluding I'd say both were correct: 1/ Yes humanity has common and indeed variable traits. 2/ Yes we have recorded etymologies. However I think that etymologies are based on actual human traits, and I think those need updating and clarifying.

Updating and clarifying etymologies would be useful in separating the obviously controversial I'm right, you're wrong position from human's have traits.

Is dogma, for example, (...principles laid down by an authority incontrovertible -UED 11thED) a worldwide human trait?

I'd say dogma is a common human trait. Even if it's only that many people are tightwads with money and their incontrovertible authority is their upbringing. They absolutely will not phone for a pizza because... Oh but puleez, pretty puleez?
No, no and absolutely no!

There are many reasons for absolutely no, but again they are not in question, only the stance which cannot be reasoned with, or is: incontrovertible according to some authority or other, maybe only the nay pizza sayer themselves.

So again, rights and wrongs of the stance aren't questioned only the root etymology, which as I've said I think is vague. In this day and age etymologies should be updated, so that more refined conclusions could be achieved rather than the school yard 'I'm right, you're wrong,' or the grown up version, war.

Ruv Draba
11-28-2009, 06:15 AM
it seems to me -atheist = religion / not a religion- is an ongoing etymological problem that hasn't been solved, or probably 'clarified' which appears to be in evidence here, with arguments (or questions) going both ways.Historically, the people who invented the language for classifying belief were primarily Christian drawing from classical thought and this continues to skew our thinking.

Atheism for example, is a term coined by 16th century Christians* to describe heresies that rejected God. In consequence the term has only ever been meaningful from a theocentric viewpoint. Ask what Christian believes and you'll have a fair idea, but asking what an atheist believes is fraught with the same ignorance as asking what coloured people eat. Atheism is not a single belief any more than 'coloured' is a single culture. But to theists it can look like a single belief because they don't bother to understand what atheists actually think.

* Borrowed from the ancient Greeks in fact, from the word atheos meaning 'godless'. The Greeks equated rejecting state gods with a kind of sedition against the state, and it was the charge of atheism that saw Socrates killed off in around 399BCE.

Atheist beliefs are very diverse. Some don't believe in the supernatural; others do, but don't believe in gods. Some believe in gods but reject them. Others believe that the questions are meaningless or refuse to entertain theistic claims for a wealth of other reasons... So we can't call atheism a religion because it's not even a single belief.

The same sort of theocentric thinking has underpinned our definition of religion, by the way. Historically, 'religion' has been held to mean any code of belief or practice that looks much like Christianity -- with worship and rituals and belief in the supernatural... But this gives sociologists and anthropologists headaches because (for example) some forms of Buddhism class as religion, while others don't. So over time, scientists have been moving away from Eurocentric and theocentric definitions, and trying to grapple with what else religion might mean.

On the anthropological front, two fairly foundational descriptions of religion come from Clifford Geertz (1966) and Anthony Wallace (undated, but post 1950)


Religion is "(1) a system of symbols which acts to (2) establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic



Individualistic: most basic; simplest. Example: vision quest.
Shamanistic: part-time religious practitioner, uses religion to heal, to divine, usually on the behalf of a client. The Tillamook have four categories of shaman. Examples of shamans: spiritualists, faith healers, palm readers. One who has acquired religious authority through one's own means.
Communal: elaborate set of beliefs and practices; group of people arranged in clans by lineage, age group, or some religious societies; people take on roles based on knowledge, and ancestral worship.
Ecclesiastical: Most complex. Incorporates elements of the previous three.


If we ask 'is atheism a religion' the answer is clearly no, for the same reason that a waste-paper bin is not a filing cabinet. But if we ask, 'could an atheist be religious' then I think that the answer can be yes... Rejection of deities does not preclude religious involvement by either definition above.

So linking this back to Rhys' question... atheism has no signature bias in the way that (say) Christianity has a signature bias. But atheists can have individual beliefs which may or may not offend and alienate others. Every culture has dominant views, and heresy against those views risks offence, as Socrates discovered.

Rhys Cordelle
11-28-2009, 02:24 PM
I'm guessing you don't believe in Zeus or Baal. How deeply that that affect your thinking and beliefs?


Not if your atheism is a product of your rationalism.

Think of it this way: your disbelief in Thor is a product of your Christianity.

So, yes, call Rationalism a religion. I can see advantages to that.

Agreed.

Any definition of religion that would accurately apply to atheists would be too broad to be a useful term.

DrZoidberg
11-28-2009, 02:40 PM
I am an atheist but I am very interested in religious thinking and practices. My question here, for those of you who write fiction with religion and/or atheism as a theme, is how do you control your personal bias? How can I avoid "preaching" about atheism?

I don't think you can pull it off and keep it believable. If you can, you'd be a genius. Stuff like this always comes across as preachy, IMHO. I suggest finding a person who holds this other position and have them teach theirs to you, and just uncritically write it in the book, but translate it to "alieny". I studied the Bible together with a well educated Jehovah's witness for three months, just to get inside his head. I'm not remotely Christian... I have never been. Never been even slightly tempted. When I studied the Bible with him, I politely sat down and turned off all critical thoughts and only asked questions a person who honestly wants to learn more would ask. It worked out great. That writing project is still maturing (indefinitely :) ) but I think it's a solid piece.

I think your only two options is either giving them a fair hearing, and doing your best to avoid preaching, and count on sneaking it in subconsciously. Or go all the way, and just let your atheism hang out. Both can be just as enjoyable to read.

Zadie Smith in White Teeth does something like what you're describing. She doesn't defend Islam or Jehova's witnesses, but she does explain why ordinary and reasonable people would hold those beliefs... which IMHO, is the interesting thing to explore about faiths. Just to hide her bias, she has twins who each chose a different path, atheist and Muslim... and her atheism still shines like a beacon off the pages. It's damn hard to hide.

Hittman
11-28-2009, 07:24 PM
An old friend would sometimes put forward the quote that atheism is no more a religion than baldness is a hair-style.

I always liked "if atheism is a religion than not collecting stamps is a hobby."


asking what an atheist believes is fraught with the same ignorance as asking what coloured people eat.

Great line.


So we can't call atheism a religion because it's not even a single belief.

I have to disagree with you here. Atheism is a single belief, just one – there are no gods. That's it. There's nothing else, and that confuses the hell out of people who think it's a religion. Religions provide a plethora of beliefs, rules and rituals. Atheism has one belief and no rituals and no rules.


But if we ask, 'could an atheist be religious' then I think that the answer can be yes

You'll find some atheists at Unitarian churches and synagogues, looking to enjoy the fellowship and/or the rituals. I know a very, very few atheists who have mystical ideas. But we're getting back to definitions here. I celebrate Christmas, but it's just for fun – there is no Christ in my Christmas. Does that make me religious? I don't think so. I'm just in it for the presents and the lights and the decorations and having fun with the family.

You'll also hear some atheists describe themselves as "spiritual." I hate that word – it's so imprecise and fuzzy it can mean anything. Is experiencing a sense of awe while watching a stunning sunset or smoking a great cigar (or doing both at the same time) a spiritual experience? Is music that involves you enough to put you in a trance spiritual? Is dealing with something emotionally instead of rationally spiritual? How about falling in love? Bleah, give me a word that has at least a solid center, some core meaning. "Spiritual" is a bead of clay surrounded by fluff. Anyone can give it any shape or structure or meaning they want, which makes it a useless word.


I don't think you can pull it off and keep it believable. If you can, you'd be a genius.

Is J. Michael Straczynski a genius? (Yeah, probably.) Babylon 5 was full of religion. It was about half the show, and it never got preachy or disrespectful. It was very detailed, often very subtle, and beautifully done. JMS is an atheist.


"I think it behooves us to treat our characters' beliefs with some measure of respect, whatever he believes in.
I mean I'm an atheist myself, but I don't have to believe in Minbarri to write about Minbarri. I think if that person is a religious character, then you have to treat them with integrity and deal with them properly. As a result, this show is very popular with a lot of religious folks."
- JMS


I studied the Bible together with a well educated Jehovah's witness for three months, just to get inside his head.

That's a dangerous place to be. Their entire goal is to for you to get into their mindset and lock you in so thoroughly there's no way out.

Ruv Draba
11-28-2009, 11:06 PM
I have to disagree with you here. Atheism is a single belief, just one – there are no gods.What is a god, and how do you know it's that? If two atheists can't agree on definition of a god or why they think there aren't any, then I'd suggest that atheism is not a single belief.

I think 'atheistic' is a description of disbelief, not belief.

Rhys Cordelle
11-29-2009, 05:17 AM
Yeah spiritual is vague. I usually ask people to explain what they mean. Generally it seems to mean belief in an afterlife of some kind.

benbradley
11-29-2009, 06:06 AM
What is a god, and how do you know it's that? If two atheists can't agree on definition of a god or why they think there aren't any, then I'd suggest that atheism is not a single belief.

I think 'atheistic' is a description of disbelief, not belief.
Even there, there's the "negative/weak" atheism, claiming a simple lack of belief, "I do not believe there is a god" versus the "positive/strong" atheism stating a firm belief in the nonexistence of (any) god, "I DO believe there is NOT a god."

I've seen other posts on AW reacting negatively to this distinction, but it seems clear and logical to me. Someone who has never heard of leprechauns would OF COURSE not believe in them, and be a "leprechaun atheist" in the first sense. Someone from Irish culture who knew those who believed in the existence of leprechauns but despite others' claims choose not to believe could positively, after hearing about leprechauns all his life, state "I do NOT believe there are ANY leprechauns."

One might argue that to be a negative/weak atheist one would have to have gone one's whole life without hearing of the concept of god, in which case one could say all atheists are of the positive/strong type.

benbradley
11-29-2009, 06:12 AM
Yeah spiritual is vague. I usually ask people to explain what they mean. Generally it seems to mean belief in an afterlife of some kind.
Interestingly, an afterlife is not a part of Alcoholics Anonymous, but members are always talking about how it's a spiritual (especially "spiritual, not religious") program. There is indeed great emphasis on "turning one's will and life over to God (as we understood Him)."

AA itself may be an abberation in its internal meaning of spiritual, but I do believe it (and the many other "anonymous" and "Anon" programs based on its 12 steps) has had an influence on the use of the word spiritual to mean something separate from religion: religious being "organized religion," a group of people getting together to honor or praise God (and a man-made group at that - many in AA, ironically, are biased against "organized religion"), and spiritual, meaning an individual's personal connection or relationship with God.

2Wheels
11-29-2009, 06:31 AM
As to the original question:
Even though I now (apparently) should describe myself as a mostly agnostic semi-theist, religion and it's derivative belief structure does play a role in my trilogy. My own beliefs (or lack thereof) impact it from the standpoint that I sympathise with the characters religious belief, because I think religion is fundamental (and necessary) to human nature. And yes, I write about humans, even though the genre is fantasy. They believe what they believe in the absence of other knowledge.

benbradley
11-29-2009, 08:21 AM
And for what it's worth, I'm writing my (effectively first, as in the previous two years I only wrote a couple thousand words) NaNoWriMo novel, and in recent weeks and days my MC is waxing poetical about his belief or lack thereof (his beliefs and experiences seem quite remarkably similar to mine - perhaps I should call him "Ben Sue"), mostly to his teenage son to whom he hadn't opened up about religion until now. His wife had taken the son to church regularly but is in long-term hospital care. What prompted all this is the devoted-Christian wife asked the son to go to church on his own while she remains in the hospital, and with that coming up the MC found this a convenient time to "dump it all out" on his son while the wife is away.

I'm enjoying "not controlling my bias" - maybe I'll get some of "it" (the tendency to "preach atheism" in my writing) out of my system, but I'm sure I'll come back to the topic of religion in later writings. It was a big part of my life, as it is in so many people's lives.

But as discussed in another thread, sometimes religion is "avoided" in novels for the same reasons bathing or getting dressed or cutting tonails is/are avoided - there are many, many parts to life, and only so many of them can be included in a novel of reasonable length.

Rhys Cordelle
11-29-2009, 11:10 AM
As to the original question:
Even though I now (apparently) should describe myself as a mostly agnostic semi-theist, religion and it's derivative belief structure does play a role in my trilogy. My own beliefs (or lack thereof) impact it from the standpoint that I sympathise with the characters religious belief, because I think religion is fundamental (and necessary) to human nature. And yes, I write about humans, even though the genre is fantasy. They believe what they believe in the absence of other knowledge.

If it's necessary to human nature then how do non believers function?

Ruv Draba
11-29-2009, 06:19 PM
Even there, there's the "negative/weak" atheism, claiming a simple lack of belief, "I do not believe there is a god" versus the "positive/strong" atheism stating a firm belief in the nonexistence of (any) god, "I DO believe there is NOT a god."The first version seems meaningful to me, but I'm not sure what the second could possibly mean: what is this god which we believe is not, and why must it be that?

Shadow_Ferret
11-29-2009, 06:36 PM
What is a god, and how do you know it's that? If two atheists can't agree on definition of a god or why they think there aren't any, then I'd suggest that atheism is not a single belief.

I think 'atheistic' is a description of disbelief, not belief.

I'd even say "disbelief" is too active. I prefer non-belief. I have no belief and I don't think about it at all. It doesn't occupy any of my time during the day unless I enter a discussion like this.

Ruv Draba
11-29-2009, 11:49 PM
I'd even say "disbelief" is too active. I prefer non-belief. I have no belief and I don't think about it at all. It doesn't occupy any of my time during the day unless I enter a discussion like this.Indeed. I only feel atheistic when someone's religious belief enters my purview -- in which case my nonbelief switches to disbelief. But 'atheism' is a theistic construct. On a planet where nobody believed in deities they'd never invent the word. It's my disbelief then that makes me an atheist; I see my nonbelief is entirely unremarkable. :)

But I think you highlighted a key to Rhys' problem, O Mustelid of the Umbra... If we write about nonbelief we're not presenting atheism at all; if we write about disbelief, we are.

I'm not sure that 'presenting' is 'preaching', but literarily, disbelief requires explanation while nonbelief doesn't.

2Wheels
12-01-2009, 03:15 AM
If it's necessary to human nature then how do non believers function?
Now that could be a subject for a whole other thread ... ;)

Hittman
12-01-2009, 08:06 PM
What is a god, and how do you know it's that? If two atheists can't agree on definition of a god or why they think there aren't any, then I'd suggest that atheism is not a single belief.

A god is a spirit of some sort. Beyond that there are thousands of definitions and descriptions.


I think 'atheistic' is a description of disbelief, not belief.

You're right, that's more accurate, although Strong Atheism could be classified as a belief.


I've seen other posts on AW reacting negatively to this distinction, but it seems clear and logical to me.

It is, but it's also trivial. I've never known an atheist who cares about it.


If it's necessary to human nature then how do non believers function?

Horribly. We eat babies, squirt heroin into our eyeballs, burn down our neighbors houses, dance naked in the streets, rob, steal, rape, murder, and that's just our day to day existence. On special occasions we really go nuts.

In reality, though, here's a interesting statistic that says a lot about atheism: Percentage of US citizens who are atheists: about 10%. Percentage of prisoners who are atheists: .2%.



I'd even say "disbelief" is too active. I prefer non-belief. I have no belief and I don't think about it at all. It doesn't occupy any of my time during the day unless I enter a discussion like this.

That's a key point lots of believers can't get their heads around. It's trivial. It has very very little to do with who we are and how we behave. It's no more important than our favorite breakfast cereal. The only reason it's an issue is because we're surrounded by religion.

Rhys Cordelle
12-02-2009, 10:42 AM
Horribly. We eat babies, squirt heroin into our eyeballs, burn down our neighbors houses, dance naked in the streets, rob, steal, rape, murder, and that's just our day to day existence. On special occasions we really go nuts.

In reality, though, here's a interesting statistic that says a lot about atheism: Percentage of US citizens who are atheists: about 10%. Percentage of prisoners who are atheists: .2%.

That's just because we're better at being evil and don't easily get caught ^^

Ruv Draba
12-04-2009, 04:14 AM
That's just because we're better at being evil and don't easily get caught ^^Yep... So evil are atheists that we manage to hide our witch-burnings, stonings, crushings, rackings, drownings, defenestrations, persecutions and genocides far better than any other ideology. :)

DrZoidberg
12-05-2009, 12:14 AM
You guys should come to Sweden. At my job, (a standard middle-class kind of place) nobody would ever reveal being religious. It's kept very secret. If they would tell anyone we'd all talk slowly and loudly, and use simple words. Sweden is a very atheistic country. Not atheistic as in rejecting belief in God, but more like, rejecting having a strong opinion about it. Anybody with strong faith in anything metaphysical is treated like a complete moron. It's a cultural trait of sorts. We're very accepting of apatheism, but intolerant about nearly any other position. If people visiting here, wouldn't have pointed it out, I would never have understood. It's really quite subtle.

Swedes who say they tolerate other religions, tend to be racist. They accept that lesser races hold stupid and backward beliefs. Which in my opinion, isn't a particularly virtuous position....or tolerant. Swedes tend to think Americans are naturally dumb, and therefore accept Americans being religious. I find that quite offensive, but over here nobody really reflects about it... which I think is really weird. Once one starts pressing the point it really becomes apparent.

So basically... if you're an atheist, you'll be most welcome here. If nothing else, you can get a taste of being a majority oppressing a religious minority :)

Brutal Mustang
12-05-2009, 12:48 AM
Not if your atheism is a product of your rationalism.

Think of it this way: your disbelief in Thor is a product of your Christianity.

So, yes, call Rationalism a religion. I can see advantages to that.

Many people who are rational believe logic points to a higher power, so I don't see how rationalism can be a religion. But a set of beliefs certainly can be a religion, even the simple silly stuff, like what some people have mentioned in this thread. Religion is broad and blurry. And quite frankly, there should not be sharp lines drawn between human beings, like what some are trying to do here. Whenever atheists get the intolerant "us and them" mentality, they are no different than the religious fundamentalist sectors in humanity they scorn. They become just another judgmental group in the mix of humanity, causing friction and suffering among people.

Brutal Mustang
12-05-2009, 12:53 AM
You guys should come to Sweden. At my job, (a standard middle-class kind of place) nobody would ever reveal being religious. It's kept very secret.

Sounds awkward! True acceptance of others is not colorblind, but rather a place where color is just a color, and people can talk about it openly and comfortably.

Ruv Draba
12-05-2009, 12:58 AM
You guys should come to Sweden. At my job, (a standard middle-class kind of place) nobody would ever reveal being religious. It's kept very secret.That sometimes happens in Australian workplaces too -- it depends on the workplace.

I took a look at Swedish demographics... about 95.2% of the population were baptised into Church of Sweden in 1972, fallen to 72.9% in 2008, but only 4% of members attend service in an average week and 2% attend regularly. At one time baptism in the Church of Sweden was mandatory, but that ceased and the Church ceased to be a state religion in 2000 (so Sweden has only been a secular state for 9 years). Women were ordained as priests in 1958. Same-sex church weddings were approved this year (congratulations!). About one fifth of Swedes profess belief in God -- so dropping the Church of Sweden as a state religion will probably see baptisms drop to around 20% over time. Curiously, around 9 in 10 Swedes have Christian burials, and about half Swedish weddings take place in a church.


Not atheistic as in rejecting belief in God, but more like, rejecting having a strong opinion about it. Anybody with strong faith in anything metaphysical is treated like a complete moron.Liberal societies tend to fret about supremacist faith (sometimes euphemised as 'strong' faith), but that's not the same as rejecting faith.

For instance, Sweden has been a refuge for Islam since the 18th century when Sweden formed an alliance with the Ottoman empire. Muslims have had freedom to worship in Sweden since that time. Muslims still flee to Sweden to escape religious persecution and estimates put faithful Muslims at around 2% of Sweden's population (about half the ethnic Muslims there). Islam by the way, is a growing religion in Sweden.

I'd describe Sweden as a liberal post-Christian country, rather than an atheistic country.


So basically... if you're an atheist, you'll be most welcome here.I believe you.


If nothing else, you can get a taste of being a majority oppressing a religious minority :)I think that if religious people are fleeing to your country to escape persecution, you're probably not persecuting that religious belief. On the other hand, you're probably not accepting supremacist nonsense from them either.

Mr Flibble
12-05-2009, 01:08 AM
You guys should come to Sweden. At my job, (a standard middle-class kind of place) nobody would ever reveal being religious. It's kept very secret.

It's not something anyone talks about much here in the UK, as a general rule. If you are religious, fine, no need to boast about it, is the sort of attitude. It's a personal thing, and should stay that way. It does get discussed sometimes, but not often and usually in a more general way rather than 'Hey look at me, I'm a XX'. From what I gather, many people are agnostic or as you say, apathetic. Even people who say they're Christians, many don't go to church.

Put it like this, I've been married twelve years and I only found out my MIL is a Christian last year. Who knew?

zornhau
12-07-2009, 01:40 PM
Many people who are rational believe logic points to a higher power, so I don't see how rationalism can be a religion. But a set of beliefs certainly can be a religion, even the simple silly stuff, like what some people have mentioned in this thread. Religion is broad and blurry. And quite frankly, there should not be sharp lines drawn between human beings, like what some are trying to do here. Whenever atheists get the intolerant "us and them" mentality, they are no different than the religious fundamentalist sectors in humanity they scorn. They become just another judgmental group in the mix of humanity, causing friction and suffering among people.

Rational arguments for religion, on closer examination, always collapse into either rhetoric, or appeals to personal revelation.

As for judging: I'm quite happy to judge since there are practical implications to being around people who listen to their invisible friend before they listen to their humanity.

This is a meme war. There is no objective or fair place in which to stand. So - myself - I'm unconcerned with controlling my bias, since my bias is really a world view, which of course will be represented in my fiction.

Rhys Cordelle
12-08-2009, 05:38 PM
Rational arguments for religion, on closer examination, always collapse into either rhetoric, or appeals to personal revelation.

As for judging: I'm quite happy to judge since there are practical implications to being around people who listen to their invisible friend before they listen to their humanity.

This is a meme war. There is no objective or fair place in which to stand. So - myself - I'm unconcerned with controlling my bias, since my bias is really a world view, which of course will be represented in my fiction.


Good point.

Ruv Draba
12-09-2009, 11:57 AM
As for judging: I'm quite happy to judge since there are practical implications to being around people who listen to their invisible friend before they listen to their humanity.Gah. There's a whole discussion that belongs somewhere under this topic... But I think it's not 'invisible friend vs humanity'; it's 'ideology vs humanity'...

I'd love to participate in that discussion but I haven't got the first clue on how to kick that off... I bet AMC knows how though.

AMCrenshaw
12-09-2009, 12:24 PM
Say what?




AMC




eta:

workin' on it. :D

SLake
12-09-2009, 08:44 PM
My, my the debate has moved along apace, but still running with the underlying schoolyard thing: "I'm right because I'm logical but you're wrong because you believe in invisible friends," or visa-versa, it hardly matters.

Disappointing either way.

Can't get at Ruv Draba with the beautiful looking wolf avatar for missing my point slightly, no, you all missed my point.

The world has 8 billion people or so, each with slightly different opinions, some more divergent than others. The consequence of that schoolyard is war - big boys and girls, each telling their children that they are right, and peace and love are the way to go, whilst blowing the crap out of other mothers, fathers, boys and girls. It's a job some of them say.

And here we are at the heart, or near enough, of that nitpicking intelligentsia.

Religion isn't perfect, surprise, surprise, what is? Yep in England and much of Europe, religion is pretty much a non-issue and the result is that those continents have bright and happy peoples? Haha, total fail.

Countries devoted to religions? Well, cynical laughter at their similar failures isn't PC, so I won't do that.

I was saying (and here, trying to make my point more simple stupid) - that certain concepts are consistent world wide, regardless of the names pinned to them, such as religion and atheism.

I asked essentially: do atheists have belief? Do religious people have belief? That is: placing aside the schoolyard bickering that: you're right because you're logical, OR, you're right because you know God - I was saying: is the concept belief consistent in all peoples world wide?

Belief as a concept, do you understand what I mean by that? A concept is [CoD 11th edition]: "an idea or mental picture of a group or class of objects, formed by combining all their aspects." Or a concept is, "an abstract idea."

Belief according to CoD 11th edition is: "1/ an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially without proof. A firmly held opinion or conviction. A religious conviction. 2/ trust or confidence in." It's from, "believe: 3/ have confidence in. 4/ think or suppose: I believe we've already met. (believe in) think that (something) is right or acceptable."

Therefore humanity has much in common. Similarities make humanity a place of sisters and brothers, but names and languages cloud the etymologies, which, as I've said: should be rethought. Nature has difference, it has summer and winter, and humanity has parallel differences.

Although I guess none of it really matters, does it, nah. You, none of you really care about your similarities, neither in the East, West, nor North or South.

That belief is something that all hold true, even like love, betrayal, faithfulness and endearments doesn't matter either. Religious, atheist, it's only the schoolyard thing you really like - it's the last man standing thing of I'm right, na na na.

Having said this, it's not really you guys who annoy me. The epitaph of the human race has long been written, yours are merely footnotes.

Ruv Draba
12-09-2009, 11:25 PM
I asked essentially: do atheists have belief?Some do and some don't. For instance, my mother is an atheist who believes that God doesn't exist, but I'm an atheist who doesn't accept that there's a topic to discuss.

Atheism is a word religious people use to describe 'non-belief', but it doesn't really mean anything outside some religion's view of what it means to reject their theology.


I was saying: is the concept belief consistent in all peoples world wide?I don't think so. Some people seek unifying principles to make their life make sense; others don't. Some people make some beliefs sacred; other people have no sacred beliefs.

All people may believe things (even if they are not sacred things), but so what? How does that contribute to a decision to work toward common welfare? Some commonality does: e.g. all people have lungs so we're all concerned about the air we breathe. All people have beliefs, but most of us don't need all the beliefs we have, so how does that make us want to help each other?

My personal view is that all of us need reliable facts, so I like to try and seek those and protect them. As for beliefs, I care about peoples' right to inquire and form views, but I certainly don't care to defend others' beliefs -- especially if I think that those beliefs might cloud truth. To me, beliefs aren't sacred things. They're transient confusion while we try to find facts.


Having said this, it's not really you guys who annoy me. The epitaph of the human race has long been written, yours are merely footnotes.You seem to be throwing stones at people who are saying 'I'm right and you're wrong' -- but in throwing stones, aren't you doing the same?

AMCrenshaw
12-09-2009, 11:36 PM
You seem to be throwing stones at people who are saying 'I'm right and you're wrong' -- but in throwing stones, aren't you doing the same?

And how bravely!




AMC

SLake
12-10-2009, 02:42 AM
No [religious] topic to discuss, you say, 'person with superb avatar?' Au contraire, but you have said: I took a look at Swedish demographics... about 95.2% of the population were baptised into Church of Sweden in 1972, fallen to 72.9% in 2008, but only 4% of members attend service in an average week and 2% attend regularly. At one time baptism in the Church of Sweden was mandatory, but that ceased and the Church ceased to be a state religion in 2000 (so Sweden has only been a secular state for 9 years). Women were ordained as priests in 1958

But indeed as you say and if that's what I think that you're inclining (and I could be wrong) the subject religion throughout history been well discussed, which obviously includes yourself.

Your mother, as you say yourself, she believes.

Ruv Draba: Atheism is a word religious people use to describe 'non-belief', but it doesn't really mean anything outside some religion's view of what it means to reject their theology.

You use Atheist(ism) above to describe yourself and your mother, so it's a functioning concept. I guess I don't see your point there.

slake: is the concept belief consistent in all peoples world wide?
Ruv Draba: I don't think so. Some people seek unifying principles to make their life make sense; others don't. Some people make some beliefs sacred; other people have no sacred beliefs.

Ok, I should clarify what I mean precisely and I used the OED for that reason. The OED offers narrow variations, but I think you're straying beyond the minor into wider territories, or sub categories. I agree, it can be said there are sacred beliefs and non sacred beliefs. Others may seek GUTs perhaps to cement their beliefs. But at the core is the believer, or one who hopes to believe more. I hope that makes my point clearer.

Ruv Draba: All people may believe things (even if they are not sacred things), but so what? How does that contribute to a decision to work toward common welfare? Some commonality does: e.g. all people have lungs so we're all concerned about the air we breathe. All people have beliefs, but most of us don't need all the beliefs we have, so how does that make us want to help each other?

Help each other or a common welfare. On the contrary I suggested humanity en masse hasn't the capability of achieving such, in fact that's what I meant by referencing epitaph. Sure people try, seems they always have. I think nearly everyone wants what's right including yourself, but as you incline, and I agree with,right is the crux of the problem. Re-identifying etymologies I think would clarify that humanity adopts similar stances whether they are tagged with atheist, religious or otherwise. In this sense kinship occurred to me in parallel with your example: lungs. Sure yes, humanity en masse understands the need for clean air. And various books and films have thrown combatants of different races and even species together attempting to show the possibility of kinship, which I'm trying to point out but in a more factual sense.

Ruv Draba: My personal view is that all of us need reliable facts, so I like to try and seek those and protect them. As for beliefs, I care about peoples' right to inquire and form views, but I certainly don't care to defend others' beliefs -- especially if I think that those beliefs might cloud truth. To me, beliefs aren't sacred things. They're transient confusion while we try to find facts.

I guess I answered that above, and latterly of your statement above, I respect your right to make such declarations. For you, beliefs are transient confusion, as you say. Yes, for other people, beliefs can be sacred I suppose. Perhaps if we look at the core of sacred, maybe you'll agree that what you've said is a kind of mission statement that holds a certain amount of sacredness for you. Not sacred in the metaphysical sense, but more in the sense, you value your statement deeply (I presume). Sacred has religious overtones, but that's why I think etymologies should be rethought and subsequently brought to a more neutral arena.

slake: Having said this, it's not really you guys who annoy me. The epitaph of the human race has long been written, yours are merely footnotes.

Ruv Draba: You seem to be throwing stones at people who are saying 'I'm right and you're wrong' -- but in throwing stones, aren't you doing the same?


AMCrenshaw: how bravely!

Seem to be throwing stones? I thought I was saying that we essentially all think alike except for etymological confusion which should be clarified in today's sense, so that many worn out arguments that result in childish dramas, such as war, could be put aside for more sophisticated pursuits, and the intelligence that's claimed can be exhibited without the need for the usual barbed wire, guns and surveillance.

2Wheels
12-10-2009, 04:41 AM
I thought I was saying that we essentially all think alike except for etymological confusion which should be clarified in today's sense, so that many worn out arguments that result in childish dramas, such as war, could be put aside for more sophisticated pursuits, and the intelligence that's claimed can be exhibited without the need for the usual barbed wire, guns and surveillance.

Yeah, but then we wouldn't be human any more. :tongue

AMCrenshaw
12-10-2009, 04:42 AM
I guess I answered that above, and latterly of your statement above, I respect your right to make such declarations. For you, beliefs are transient confusion, as you say. Yes, for other people, beliefs can be sacred I suppose. Perhaps if we look at the core of sacred, maybe you'll agree that what you've said is a kind of mission statement that holds a certain amount of sacredness for you. Not sacred in the metaphysical sense, but more in the sense, you value your statement deeply (I presume). Sacred has religious overtones, but that's why I think etymologies should be rethought and subsequently brought to a more neutral arena.


I won't speak for the wolf avatar, but I personally doubt Ruv values his statement to such an extent it would cloud his sense of what is true and what is not true, and I also imagine that if his statement were to prove false he would abandon it for a better one. I think there is a fairly significant difference between saying something is sacred and saying that something is beneficial or important because of its benefits. Sacred has a religious overtone because its very word refers to a sense of holiness.

Now, the other thing that I disagree with is that we essentially all think alike. There's another thread about this called "Fundamental Likenesses", or something, and I'm not sure I have anything to add from there.



AMC

Ruv Draba
12-10-2009, 05:17 PM
You use Atheist(ism) above to describe yourself and your mother, so it's a functioning concept. I guess I don't see your point there.I actually don't use atheism to describe myself to anyone but strangers. Strangers (sorta) understand what atheism is because of the culture we live in; but friends get a story that starts with what's important to me; not what's not.


Help each other or a common welfare. On the contrary I suggested humanity en masse hasn't the capability of achieving such, in fact that's what I meant by referencing epitaph.Why aren't humans capable of caring about common concerns? And if they're not then why are they doomed now rather than in their two million or so years of prior history?


Perhaps if we look at the core of sacred, maybe you'll agree that what you've said is a kind of mission statement that holds a certain amount of sacredness for you.To me, sacred means an ideal surrounded by a taboo. I have ideals, but I don't have many taboos so not much is sacred to me. My beliefs about the world certainly are not sacred; neither is whatever sense of purpose I may from time to time marshall.


I thought I was saying that we essentially all think alike except for etymological confusion which should be clarified in today's senseYou've pointed out (by assertion) that people are trivially identical. Odd that they hadn't realised it before, but assuming so, where to now?

Rhys Cordelle
12-10-2009, 05:32 PM
SLake, that was one hell of a long way of saying "can't we all just get along?" :P

SLake
12-11-2009, 01:42 AM
SLake, that was one hell of a long way of saying "can't we all just get along?" :P

If only, xd. S'like, where's common-sense these days?! The update, you like? ^^


I actually don't use atheism to describe myself to anyone but strangers. Strangers (sorta) understand what atheism is because of the culture we live in; but friends get a story that starts with what's important to me; not what's not.

I'll go along with that, thanks.


Why aren't humans capable of caring about common concerns? And if they're not then why are they doomed now rather than in their two million or so years of prior history?

Timing, yeah, I was going to say something about that in the above post but it was moving into theology, a subject you'll realize I've been trying to sideline even along with science, as an entity. Well my personal view inclines towards geological concepts of now, those being considerably longer than human perceptions of now. Although my epitaph thing I'll agree was indicative of immediacy, which of course one feels at times with one's pet subject.


me, sacred means an ideal surrounded by a taboo. I have ideals, but I don't have many taboos so not much is sacred to me. My beliefs about the world certainly are not sacred; neither is whatever sense of purpose I may from time to time marshall.

Just a posit and yes I think the concept sacred should be modified, essentially to something like what one holds dear. In my opinion, and I hope I don't offend anyone unnecessarily, I think the concept sacred in the religious sense has moved into the area of, traditional historical, so we value it immensely. I've only looked briefly into religious origins of sacred, so essentially I'm guessing, but even so, I'm trying to categorize today rather than justify remnants of yesterday.


pointed out (by assertion) that people are trivially identical. Odd that they hadn't realised it before, but assuming so, where to now?

Trivially identical - I'll take that as compliment, but well yes ok, you're stating a fact. It is odd as you say that people haven't realized it before, something like the obvious multi strata make up of earth, visible in one way or another to just about everyone since humanity began.

If you can answer why strata hasn't been recorded as being noticed then you will have answered a ton of sociological questions about humanity, I think. It kinda hints the question: were people like Galileo Galilei exceptions through the ages or were there many who were overlooked, and for multitudes of reasons? I'm not placing myself with him or other greats, even if you'd let me try, but if you accept there is a future then there will probably be changes which result from realizations, currently unrealized.

Where to now with this etymology thing? Shall I be facetious and say it's in God's hands, or maybe not :)

Etymology, a branch of linguistics and there's semiotics and finer subdivisions or fields, the list of which kinda do the dry butterless toast banquet on a hot day during a water shortage thing for most people, but they involve the basis of all human thought, rather than what people think. The latter of the sentence: an important point.

Lost in that tangle of specialties is: {item, and / or, system} = {concept (or idea)} = {spoken word, its sign(s) and its symbol(s)}. Meaning that our mind is structured so that collections of items and systems have words etc assigned. That's the basis of human thought. Theoretically, for example: there's no reason to suppose time alters the concept belief, or that culture to culture the concept belief could be different but it is, which the many fields of linguistics examine to the nth degree, the frequent result being the burnt bread banquet.

I'm not proposing the studies are overlooked just refined to offer -most certainly school kids- a succinct overview of thought first before the more advanced and frequently conflict inducing, what they think.

The current approach to thought is often abstract to the point of metaphysics, even if it's taught by people who wouldn't give the subject a second glance. Not knowing the nature of thought, abstraction occurs, so that although the same language is spoken, the possibilities of derivatives can become horrendous. Knowing the structure would highlight divisions in language even from town to town, but actually knowing there are divisions offers a distinct advantage. Further they highlight pronenesses and consequently differences from individual to individual.

What do you think? would become a more complex question certainly, but then the human is supposed be intelligent.

I hope this post makes some sense - I've cut it down a fair bit - essentially advocating looking at thought first before thinking about thinking! I hope the post also contributes to this thread, controlling bias.

Ruv Draba
12-11-2009, 04:45 PM
It is odd as you say that people haven't realized it before, something like the obvious multi strata make up of earth, visible in one way or another to just about everyone since humanity began.Or it might not be true. Language and meaning might not be the only differences. Mere assertion doesn't make it so. Perhaps personalities, values, knowledge, belief and tribal identity might sometimes make us work as though we're multiple species.


Theoretically, for example: there's no reason to suppose time alters the concept belief, or that culture to culture the concept belief could be different but it isI'm not at all confident about definitions of knowledge and belief, and I used to work in those fields. My biggest problem is that they're properties of mind rather than brain, and mind can't see itself very well.

Linguistics offer some insights -- but only for those things we easily express in language; and there's a lot that we don't. And even if 'belief' meant the same thing linguistically, who's to say that it means the same thing functionally in all respects? I wouldn't put even a dollar on that proposition... not when we have neurological evidence that a lot of times brains do stuff then justify it afterward. Are my beliefs anything more than some narrative I invent to explain my impulses?

zornhau
12-11-2009, 07:00 PM
My, my the debate has moved along apace, but still running with the underlying schoolyard thing: "I'm right because I'm logical but you're wrong because you believe in invisible friends," or visa-versa, it hardly matters.


Since people of faith make decisions for themselves and other people depending on what their invisible friend tells them. (Or their reading of e.g. the Communist Manifesto.) So if they're wrong when they burn books or people, force their daughters to give birth to unplanned children when they themselves are children and so on, then that matters.

Regarding your other points; of course atheism is a "belief" since it refers to a certain belief about the way the world works. However, this doesn't make it a religion any more than belief in transubstantiation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transubstantiation) is a religion.

Is the materialist world view from which atheism stems a religion? No, because (1) it doesn't involve gods, and (2) religion is an extension (or add-on) to the materialist world view. You can still be an electrical engineer and believe in God, but believing in God doesn't enable you to build a circuit board.

Shadow_Ferret
12-11-2009, 07:17 PM
I asked essentially: do atheists have belief? Do religious people have belief?

Um.
Religious people and atheists are exactly the same except that religious people have this extra belief about God.

zornhau
12-11-2009, 09:30 PM
Um.
Religious people and atheists are exactly the same except that religious people have this extra belief about God.

Exactly.

In day-to-day life we use the same standard of proof, expect and work with the same material world, tap our feet to the same rythms... how are we different?

SLake
12-11-2009, 11:02 PM
Fascinating replies.

Good luck with the them vs us thing, I think I'm with going with epitaph.

veinglory
12-11-2009, 11:07 PM
Um.
Religious people and atheists are exactly the same except that religious people have this extra belief about God.

QFT. As Dawkins would say, Christians just believe in one more God than I do.

zornhau
12-12-2009, 10:02 PM
Fascinating replies.

Good luck with the them vs us thing, I think I'm with going with epitaph.

I hope it will be an epitaph.

It has always been them versus us. Nowadays they can't torture us or persecute us, so are in "Wah wah lets have a dialogue and respect each other's belief" mode. Personally, I want to kick them while they're down so hard they never get up and take over the aparatus of government - as they seems to be trying to do in the states.

Ruv Draba
12-13-2009, 12:57 AM
I want to kick them while they're down so hard they never get up and take over the aparatus of government - as they seems to be trying to do in the states.I see no need to dismantle religion -- and no way to do it even if one wanted to.

I see need and means to dismantle religious supremacism though. It doesn't involve kicking anyone, but it does involve feeding and educating them and keeping them safe.

zornhau
12-13-2009, 01:28 AM
I see no need to dismantle religion -- and no way to do it even if one wanted to.

I see need and means to dismantle religious supremacism though. It doesn't involve kicking anyone, but it does involve feeding and educating them and keeping them safe.

You cannot dismantle the supremacism without dismantling the certainty, and certainty is part of the structure of religion.

Ruv Draba
12-13-2009, 10:53 AM
You cannot dismantle the supremacism without dismantling the certainty, and certainty is part of the structure of religion.Not all -- just the ones that believe in tribal superiority or a punitive afterlife.

maxmordon
12-13-2009, 11:25 AM
Well, in keeping things balanced I try to keep things balanced while writing, or what I shall refer as the Disney agnostic approach.

I like fantasy, but I deeply dislike magic since it always seems like a shorthand for real problem solving. So, MC is trapped in a mountain range and suddenly her boyfriend arrive to save her and she realises that's the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. Divine intervention or mere fortune and proper timing with some hormones thrown in? I write, YOU decide.

About people with different beliefs, well, in my opinion, everyone's a potential bastard; no matter what that person do on Sundays.

Earlier, I was reading about this Buñuel film, Nazarín, in which Buñuel, following his bile obsession with the Catholic Church, critices faith not by showing a corrupt church nor a foolish clergy but a nigh perfect priest, who is devout without being unscientific, humble without fetishing penitence and yet he fails to do something long lasting because of his lack of relevance with the world around him. He prays for an ill boy and he gets better and two women follow him around as groupies learning nothing from the things that he says and disdaining anything except for him. He gives a poor man some fruit, and other poor men come close and ask him for fruit and they stop caring about him when he doesn't have more food to give. Quite a fascinating point of view.


In short, if an agnostic wrote A Man For All The Seasons and The Mission, and gay Marxist Atheist wrote and directed The Gospel According to St. Matthew which is considered as the best representation of Jesus' life, controlling biases can be reached.

Ruv Draba
12-14-2009, 03:01 AM
In short, if an agnostic wrote A Man For All The Seasons and The Mission, and gay Marxist Atheist wrote and directed The Gospel According to St. Matthew which is considered as the best representation of Jesus' life, controlling biases can be reached.
It's a good point, Max. Atheism doesn't describe what one believes -- it just describes what one doesn't. There's a big distance between not accepting a religion and being unable to write about its practitioners sympathetically.

MGraybosch
01-01-2010, 06:31 AM
My question here, for those of you who write fiction with religion and/or atheism as a theme, is how do you control your personal bias? How can I avoid "preaching" about atheism?

I just keep in mind that my characters are not me, and that they should have beliefs that are fundamentally compatible with their personalities. If it makes sense for a character to be devout, then I owe it to myself to portray that character and his beliefs in a manner that doesn't betray the character -- or my plot.

Brutal Mustang
01-05-2010, 04:48 PM
I hope it will be an epitaph.

It has always been them versus us. Nowadays they can't torture us or persecute us, so are in "Wah wah lets have a dialogue and respect each other's belief" mode.

Oh geeze. So you would judge the younger generation of religious people for the sins of their predecessors? What an immature post.

You know, sometime in the next few millenia, it could easily turn into atheists leading a crusade against religious people (not possible in primitive times because atheism wasn't viable among the masses without science to explain stuff). Religion in of itself is not evil. In fact, it brought to humanity concepts like no killing, no stealing, no lying--a whole framework of ethics people today often take for granted. No, it's humankind who is at fault. Human's will use whatever office is in power to their own advantage, be it a religious office or secular office.

Brutal Mustang
01-05-2010, 04:54 PM
Rational arguments for religion, on closer examination, always collapse into either rhetoric, or appeals to personal revelation.


In your view....

zornhau
01-06-2010, 01:53 PM
A quick response to demonstrate that my opinions are the result of mature consideration. I'm happy and interested to debate and discuss, but we should probably do that in one of the other forums.


Oh geeze. So you would judge the younger generation of religious people for the sins of their predecessors? What an immature post.


I regret that I gave that impression. One of my best friends is an Orthodox Deacon. I'm also a god parent for the child of a mate who is Church of Scotland. Most of my heroes were Catholic. There are, and always have been, some lovely, honourable and decent religious people.

I am in fact judging religion as a meme, rather than all religious people.

I believe that religion itself is dangerous because - like certain political ideologies - it easily lends itself to irreducible certainty and puts a huge amount of power into those who can claim to speak for/to the divine. It also validates wishful thinking and gesture politics.

It's also worth noting that some religious people do try to throw their weight around, e.g. imposing censorship or trying to bypass or hijack the political system for particular agendas. For all the nice Christians, the Inquisition and the Stern Men With Beards and Certainty are still waiting in the wings.



You know, sometime in the next few millennia, it could easily turn into atheists leading a crusade against religious people (not possible in primitive times because atheism wasn't viable among the masses without science to explain stuff).


If you mean a proper pogrom, not atheists themselves since we have no "we" except when attacked, but certainly atheist ideologies have a tendency to take on their rivals.

If you mean a point in the future when rationalism becomes the dominant way of viewing the world, and religious people become socially, politically and professionally marginalised... where's my time machine?






Religion in of itself is not evil. In fact, it brought to humanity concepts like no killing, no stealing, no lying--a whole framework of ethics people today often take for granted. No, it's humankind who is at fault. Humans will use whatever office is in power to their own advantage, be it a religious office or secular office.

Religion expresses humanity, not the other way around. But yes, a general sense of shared humanity seems to be something that Christianity has contributed to the world - albeit via a literally tortuous route, and arriving very late indeed.

To reiterate, I think religion is dangerous rather than evil.

Regarding the possibility of rational proof of the existence of God. You can certainly construct a rational system based on the existence of God, but for a proof, you would need evidence.

Ruv Draba
01-06-2010, 04:34 PM
sometime in the next few millenia, it could easily turn into atheists leading a crusade against religious peopleTwo points, Mustang:

1) It wouldn't be a 'crusade'. A 'crusade' is what Christians did to eradicate the 'evil' of another faith.

2) Atheism is not an ideology requiring hatred of religion. In fact, atheism is not an ideology at all. It's just an idea. Some atheists hate religion; some don't.


you would judge the younger generation of religious people for the sins of their predecessors?I think it's fair to evaluate the worth of religion by its history, including its contemporary history, but to be fair one can only do it from a humanitarian basis, and one can't treat every religious claim as factual without independent corroborating evidence. For example while the Old Testament has injunctions against killing, can you demonstrate independently of Biblical evidence that they were the first injunctions? Because there's plenty of historical evidence to show that people who'd never heard of the Bible also had injunctions against killing -- traditions that go back tens of thousands of years.

While it's true that religious inspiration has given us some things of value (religious art, for instance), it hasn't brought nearly as much morality as its devotees claim. Moreover, much of what we now call morality (for example, notions of equality, the rights of women and children, the right to social mobility, innocence until proven guilty, the right to trial by peer and to face one's accusers, the right to worship as one sees fit, the right to associate with whomever one wishes, the right to express one's views regardless of tribal custom, the right to consentual sex with adults regardless of traditions, innocence by reason of youth or impairment, our responsibility toward the environment) are not established in traditional religious thought. Rather, they came from prolonged secular discussions -- discussions that traditional religious folk frequently resisted.

Roger J Carlson
01-07-2010, 05:55 PM
Two points, Mustang:

1) It wouldn't be a 'crusade'. A 'crusade' is what Christians did to eradicate the 'evil' of another faith.

2) Atheism is not an ideology requiring hatred of religion. In fact, atheism is not an ideology at all. It's just an idea. Some atheists hate religion; some don't.Two points, Ruv:

1) "crusade" (small c) is a generic term which means "a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm". It is not limited to any idiology or religion. So we now have the Crusade Against Cruelty (http://www.aspca.org/news/aspca-action/ascpcaactionwinter08.pdf) and the Crusade Against Evolution (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/evolution.html).

Capitalized, it means "any of the military expeditions undertaken by Christian powers in the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries to win the Holy Land from the Muslims". Also, the purpose of the various Crusades was not to "eradicate" the "evil" of Islam, but to drive Muslims from the Israel. While we now consider this wrong, it is a different thing than trying to eradicate another faith.

Still, it is not incorrect to use the word in the sense that Mustang did, even though that's where the word was originally derived.

2) Mustang didn't say "atheism" could lead a crusade against religious people. He said "atheists" could. This is not far-fetched since it's already happened in Communist China. Now, that's not to say that Atheism led a crusade against religious people, but the people doing it were certainly atheists, which is what Mustang actually said.

knight_tour
01-07-2010, 07:25 PM
I am an agnostic (which many people wrongly call 'fence sitters', a notion I find highly offensive). In my latest story, a group of agnostic and atheist scientists arrive at another habitable planet only to have all of their notions of the universe challenged, because that planet has animal and plantlife all but identical to earth. They 'know' that evolution can't bring this about, so they have to consider the idea that there is some plan at work. I'm not highlighting this too heavily in the work, but it is a fun element.

Ruv Draba
01-08-2010, 03:31 AM
1) "crusade" (small c) is a generic term which means "a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm". It is not limited to any idiology or religion. So we now have the Crusade Against Cruelty (http://www.aspca.org/news/aspca-action/ascpcaactionwinter08.pdf) and the Crusade Against Evolution (http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/12.10/evolution.html).

From etymology online (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=crusade&searchmode=none):
crusade (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=crusade) http://www.etymonline.com/graphics/dictionary.gif (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=crusade)
1706, respelling of croisade (1577), from M.Fr. croisade, Sp. cruzada, both from M.L. cruciata, pp. of cruciare "to mark with a cross," from L. crux (gen. crucis) "cross." Figurative sense of "campaign against a public evil" is from 1786.Apparently its a monotheistic foible to conflate zealotry, xenophobia and persecution with campaigns for public good. Atheists have never needed to invent a term for that particular confused idea. Why bother when there are terms like 'crusade' and 'jihad' ready to borrow?


While we now consider this wrong, it is a different thing than trying to eradicate another faith.Eradicate simply means 'root out'. It doesn't mean 'exterminate'.

But are you arguing that forcible displacement of a culture from its holy sites is not an attack on the culture itself? Israel might not agree with you there, nor the indigenes of Australia. But then if we don't consider 'inferior' cultures to be worthy of respect in the first place, then of course we needn't consider any pogrom to be a deliberate attack on the culture. Were the Muslims just in the wrong place at the wrong time perhaps? On nine separate occasions? When was 'liberating the Holy lands' the cause, and when did it become the excuse?


Mustang didn't say "atheism" could lead a crusade against religious people. He said "atheists" could.
Here's the real problem, Roger: when they're not seeing it as an evangelical opportunity, religious zealots can't see dissent or difference as anything but affront and personal threat. When people undertake ideological pogroms, they do it from ideology. Atheism is not an ideology so it cannot alone motivate a pogrom. Other than its obvious xenophobic bigotry, Mustang's statement is superficial and meaningless -- like saying that bald people might one day persecute people with hair.


This is not far-fetched since it's already happened in Communist China.
The USSR and China both launched pogroms against religion. They also are or were Communist, embraced atheism and totalitarianism. Which of these do you think drove the pogroms?

Here are the clues...

During its pogroms, the USSR targeted not only Christians and Jews, but also intellectuals, other dissidents and ethnic minorities. So the objectives were not simply antireligious but an attack on dissidence and difference.

When the USSR collapsed, numerous priests in places like Poland, Hungary and East Germany were reviled and ostracised from their communities for collaborating with secret police, so the oppressors weren't only atheists. Moreover, the same cultures (including the oppressors and the oppressed) re-embraced their traditional religions the moment the sanctions were lifted. So how can we call them atheists at all?

If we want to label these people by creed then I think the right label is 'Totalitarians and terrified Neototalitarians' -- a creed that I think has little to do with religion, and a lot to do with greed, power and survival.

But wait... were the Christian crusaders also terrified neototalitarians?

No, they were imperialists: volunteers and zealots acting from greed, self-importance and fired up by words lifted straight from Deuteronomy, emulating deeds exemplified by Christian heroes like Moses, and using words that apparently are still an acceptable part of Christian teachings today.

Henotheists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henotheism) don't need to invent a word like 'crusade', Roger. Pagans don't invent such words. Atheists and agnostics don't. It's the monotheists who do. Not all of them, thankfully. But enough that when monotheist supremacism dominates a region, it quickly becomes moral totalitarianism, creating misery for anyone with different ideas.

If it's wrong to practice that sort of bigotry, then it's wrong to teach it. If it's wrong to teach it, then it's wrong to keep bigoted claims and admonishments in one's holy texts. Until supremacist teachings are gone from religion in both practice and thought, and religious (and any other kind of) zealotry is curbed by humanitarian restraint, this same conversation will just keep getting recycled.

fullbookjacket
01-08-2010, 03:37 AM
In fact, (religion) brought to humanity concepts like no killing, no stealing, no lying--a whole framework of ethics people today often take for granted.

That's not really a fact at all, but an opinion. No one has (or can) establish where those concepts originated.

In my view, religion is not required at all for one to establish ethical and moral behaviors. If a cargo of toddlers were deposited on a deserted island (or planet...or alternate universe...), and they had no concept of religion, I have no doubt that they would develop a framework of ethics that frowned upon killing, stealing, and lying.

It requires no abstract myths. If I punched you in the nose, you wouldn't like it. You would know that a wrong had been done to you. Therefore, by intuition or internalizing the feeling, you would know that it would be wrong to inflict the same wrong on someone else. Presto! Ethics is born.

Roger J Carlson
01-08-2010, 07:04 PM
From etymology online (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?search=crusade&searchmode=none): I never disputed the etymology of the word crusade. My contention is, however, that it's orgins does not limit it's modern usage. There are innumerable examples of it's use in strictly non-Christian contexts. It is perfectly acceptable to use it when referring to a possible campaign against religion.


Apparently its a monotheistic foible to conflate zealotry, xenophobia and persecution with campaigns for public good. Atheists have never needed to invent a term for that particular confused idea. Why bother when there are terms like 'crusade' and 'jihad' ready to borrow? Really? What about The Great Purge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge), The Great Leap Forward (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward), or the Cultural Revolution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge)? I think they qualify as zealotry, xenophobia, and persecution with campaigns for public good. They were not monotheistic in origin.


Eradicate simply means 'root out'. It doesn't mean 'exterminate'.

But are you arguing that forcible displacement of a culture from its holy sites is not an attack on the culture itself? Israel might not agree with you there, nor the indigenes of Australia. But then if we don't consider 'inferior' cultures to be worthy of respect in the first place, then of course we needn't consider any pogrom to be a deliberate attack on the culture. Were the Muslims just in the wrong place at the wrong time perhaps? On nine separate occasions? When was 'liberating the Holy lands' the cause, and when did it become the excuse?
I'm not apologizing for the Crusades. I was just pointing out that the purpose of the Crusades was not to eliminate Islam, but to re-capture the Holy Lands. Yes, re-capture. Christianity in general does not see itself as a different religion from Judaism, but its completion. I know that Jews don't believe that, but in general, Christian do.

By the logic of that time, the Crusades were righting a wrong, that is the Muslim occupation of the land of Israel -- for themselves certainly, not for the Jews.


Here's the real problem, Roger: when they're not seeing it as an evangelical opportunity, religious zealots can't see dissent or difference as anything but affront and personal threat. When people undertake ideological pogroms, they do it from ideology. Atheism is not an ideology so it cannot alone motivate a pogrom. Other than its obvious xenophobic bigotry, Mustang's statement is superficial and meaningless -- like saying that bald people might one day persecute people with hair.

You've made this contention before, that atheism is not an ideology because because they don't have a single belief, but I think it's nonsensical and self-serving. Religions don't have a single belief either. Each religion has various sects, which believe differently and sometimes persecute the others. But even within sect and individual congregations (for lack of a better word) people believe differently.

So Religion is not an ideology, but a spectrum of ideologies. Likewise, Atheism is not a single ideology, but a spectrum -- from passive to active.

I think the Dawkins brand of militant atheism (http://edition.cnn.com/2009/OPINION/11/23/dawkins.darwin.atheism/index.html) qualifies as an ideology (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ideology). Not only that, but it sees itself as righteous and its antagonist (religion) as dangerous. Dawkins says that atheists should be forceful in opposing religion. It's not too far a leap to go from forceful with words to physical force. Every crusade took that exact path.

Atheist should look very carefully at this lest they become the very people they oppose.


The USSR and China both launched pogroms against religion. They also are or were Communist, embraced atheism and totalitarianism. Which of these do you think drove the pogroms?

Here are the clues...

During its pogroms, the USSR targeted not only Christians and Jews, but also intellectuals, other dissidents and ethnic minorities. So the objectives were not simply anti religious but an attack on dissidence and difference.

When the USSR collapsed, numerous priests in places like Poland, Hungary and East Germany were reviled and ostracised from their communities for collaborating with secret police, so the oppressors weren't only atheists. Moreover, the same cultures (including the oppressors and the oppressed) re-embraced their traditional religions the moment the sanctions were lifted. So how can we call them atheists at all?

If we want to label these people by creed then I think the right label is 'Totalitarians and terrified Neototalitarians' -- a creed that I think has little to do with religion, and a lot to do with greed, power and survival.

But wait... were the Christian crusaders also terrified neototalitarians?

No, they were imperialists: volunteers and zealots acting from greed, self-importance and fired up by words lifted straight from Deuteronomy, emulating deeds exemplified by Christian heroes like Moses, and using words that apparently are still an acceptable part of Christian teachings today.

Henotheists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henotheism) don't need to invent a word like 'crusade', Roger. Pagans don't invent such words. Atheists and agnostics don't. It's the monotheists who do. Not all of them, thankfully. But enough that when monotheist supremacism dominates a region, it quickly becomes moral totalitarianism, creating misery for anyone with different ideas.

You're using a double standard to evaluate the two groups. Communist oppression was the result of evil individuals that happened to be atheist, but religious oppression is the fault of the ideology, not just evil individuals abusing it. You can't have it both ways.

In fact, the Crusades were more about power, secular and theocratic, than they were about religion. They were created to deflect public opinion from internal problems to external enemies (something which is still common today), or power-plays within the Church hierarchy. Basically evil men using religion to further their own selfish ends.


If it's wrong to practice that sort of bigotry, then it's wrong to teach it. If it's wrong to teach it, then it's wrong to keep bigoted claims and admonishments in one's holy texts. Until supremacist teachings are gone from religion in both practice and thought, and religious (and any other kind of) zealotry is curbed by humanitarian restraint, this same conversation will just keep getting recycled.Do you mean supremacist texts such as The God Delusion (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion)? Because if not, you're using a double standard. The God Delusion goes beyond simply defending atheism to opposing religion. Religion, according to Dawkins, is dangerous and parents teaching their children religion equivalent to mental abuse. I believe it is clearly supremacist in the way you are using the term.

Ruv Draba
01-08-2010, 11:13 PM
I never disputed the etymology of the word crusade. My contention is, however, that it's orgins does not limit it's modern usage....among a largely Christian population, and especially in America.

One of the entitlements of cultural dominance is that the dominant culture decides how words get used. In a culture dominated by hundreds of years of Christian bigotry and entitlement, it can seem entirely sensible that every campaign for public good is a Christian activity, that every Christian campaign is just, and that using a word for 'campaign for good' which has its roots in the persecution of other faiths is normal and acceptable -- because Christians have decided what is normal and acceptable for hundreds of years.

Yet the world does not agree. When Bush said in 2001 'This crusade, this war on terrorism is going to take a while', he was roundly criticised in Europe and the Middle East for his language.

I invite you to consider whether a culture in which Christians were a minority would have used the word 'crusade' in just that way. If it wouldn't, then what we have is a word carrying a weight of cultural entitlement and bias.

Now consider where you and Mustang are posting. This is not a Christian-normative forum. In this forum, that language may be seen as offensive. Indeed, using Christian supremacist language to impute Christian supremacist motives to atheists, many of whom have been on the receiving end of Christian supremacism all their lives might be just way out of fucking line.

I'll leave the rest of this foray into tolerance and mutual understanding as an exercise to the intelligent, compassionate reader, except to respond to the following:


Really? What about The Great Purge (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge), The Great Leap Forward (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Leap_Forward), or the Cultural Revolution (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Purge)? I think they qualify as zealotry, xenophobia, and persecution with campaigns for public good. They were not monotheistic in origin.All true. But they were secular in origin, not sectarian. You need to understand the difference between 'secular' and 'atheist', because it's a big one. Secular means 'unrelated to religion'; atheist means 'rejecting gods'. Atheism isn't a religion but it is a religious term -- a term invented by the religious for people who reject gods. It is not a secular term.

There are many atheists, including myself, who worry about antitheistic zealotry (please note language). Indeed, I think that concern motivated this thread in the first place.

If Mustang or you Roger, want to talk about worries about antitheism then I think you'll find some atheists here who'll be right behind you. I'd be among them.

But you need to understand that a common atheist experience is not that antitheism is much of a problem -- but that theosupremacism is a pain in the butt. And you will have to watch your language and your biases.

Ruv Draba
01-08-2010, 11:55 PM
I am an agnostic (which many people wrongly call 'fence sitters', a notion I find highly offensive). In my latest story, a group of agnostic and atheist scientists arrive at another habitable planet only to have all of their notions of the universe challenged, because that planet has animal and plantlife all but identical to earth. They 'know' that evolution can't bring this about, so they have to consider the idea that there is some plan at work. I'm not highlighting this too heavily in the work, but it is a fun element.
Hi Knight...

I don't think that agnosticism is a weak or ambivalent position at all. I think it says something very strong about what humans can and can't know.

I like your story idea too... In some ways, every scientific endeavour is an act of faith. Scientists trust that the universe will continue to behave in an orderly and predictable fashion. And that's what it's always done as far as we can tell -- but why should it?

Roger J Carlson
01-08-2010, 11:55 PM
Now consider where you and Mustang are posting. This is not a Christian-normative forum. In this forum, that language may be seen as offensive. Indeed, using Christian supremacist language to impute Christian supremacist motives to atheists, many of whom have been on the receiving end of Christian supremacism all their lives might be just way out of fucking line.There are many words in English with Christian-derived origins which are no longer used in a strictly Christian sense. "Crusade" is one of them. If you Google the phrase "Crusade against", you'll find innumerable uses of the word, with both positive and negative connotations.

I only responded to that because your response (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4453194&postcount=82)seemed to imply that a crusade is only something a Christian can do, and I don't think that's true. While derived from "the Crusades", a crusade can be any (as one dictionary put it) "a remedial enterprise undertaken with zeal and enthusiasm".

Mustang was cautioning against a possible persecution of Christians by atheists. He didn't say it was happening, but that it could happen in the same spirit of the Crusades. In that sense, I think the word is apt.

ETA: If you feel the language is out of line, perhaps you should appeal to the moderator. I will happily abide by her decision.

Ruv Draba
01-09-2010, 12:07 AM
There are many words in English with Christian-derived origins which are no longer used in a strictly Christian sense. "Crusade" is one of them. If you Google the phrase "Crusade against", you'll find innumerable uses of the word, with both positive and negative connotations.I'm aware, but that doesn't make it appropriate in this context.


I only responded to that because your response (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showpost.php?p=4453194&postcount=82)seemed to imply that a crusade is only something a Christian can doNo; I was pointing out how ludicrous it would be for an atheist to call an anti-Christian campaign a 'crusade' -- and by implication just how bigotedly stupid the original accusation was.


Mustang was cautioning against a possible persecution of Christians by atheists. He didn't say it was happening, but that it could happen in the same spirit of the Crusades. In that sense, I think the word is apt.The whole concept is ludicrous. Why narrow persecution of Christians to just atheists? Why not include agnostics and animists? And while we're at it, why not include Christians persecuting Christians -- because they've done it far more than any other faith.

It's a 'Chinese might outbreed us' or 'Black men might take over one day' argument. It's petty, xenophobic and demonstrates a profound ignorance of Christian history, secular history and atheistic thought. I'm surprised that you bought in as you did.

ETA: If you feel the language is out of line, perhaps you should appeal to the moderator. I will happily abide by her decision.The language is offensive and out of line, but I'd rather fix the stupid than call the cops. If I see the same poster using it the same way here then I shall certainly make a complaint.

Roger J Carlson
01-09-2010, 12:16 AM
No; I was pointing out how ludicrous it would be for an atheist to call an anti-Christian campaign a 'crusade' -- and by implication just how bigotedly stupid the original accusation was.Quite the contrary. One of the powerful things about the English language is its ability to juxtapose conflicting ideas. Using "crusade" to describe to describe "anti-christian zealotry" uses that juxtaposition to add punch to the rhetoric. It should make you step back and ponder if, perhaps, such zealotry isn't very much like that of the Crusades. You admit some concern in that area, so the idea is not that far fetched.

Ruv Draba
01-09-2010, 12:37 AM
Quite the contrary. One of the powerful things about the English language is its ability to juxtapose conflicting ideas. Using "crusade" to describe to describe "anti-christian zealotry" uses that juxtaposition to add punch to the rhetoric.You want a harness out there on that limb, Mr C, or shall I just wait at the bottom with a shovel and a blanket? :tongue

Lyv
01-09-2010, 01:13 AM
Atheist should look very carefully at this lest they become the very people they oppose.
I'm an atheist. Who is it that I oppose now?

Ruv Draba
01-09-2010, 01:38 AM
I'm an atheist. Who is it that I oppose now?Not to pick on Roger himself, but this argument is that of the recidivist wife-beater cautioning the wife against retalitatory violence. It's a fair point, but the recidivist wife-beater is not the one to make it. Especially not in between beatings.

Roger J Carlson
01-10-2010, 12:24 AM
I'm an atheist. Who is it that I oppose now?I have no idea.

My quote in context:

Dawkins says that atheists should be forceful in opposing religion. It's not too far a leap to go from forceful with words to physical force. Every crusade took that exact path.

Atheist should look very carefully at this lest they become the very people they oppose.

I was referring to those atheists who follow Dawkins suggestion to be forceful in opposing religion.

Roger J Carlson
01-10-2010, 12:28 AM
Not to pick on Roger himself, but this argument is that of the recidivist wife-beater cautioning the wife against retalitatory violence. It's a fair point, but the recidivist wife-beater is not the one to make it. Especially not in between beatings.Oddly enough, I have never beaten my wife, although I am a man. Does the fact that I am a man, and some men are wife-beaters, forever preclude me from cautioning beaten wives from retaliating and becoming the very thing they hate?

MGraybosch
01-10-2010, 12:29 AM
I'm an atheist. Who is it that I oppose now?

As an atheist, I'll oppose anybody who gets in my way. I don't want much from the world: liberty, peace, solitude, an audience for my writing are all I demand from the human race, but any who would deny me the first three of these these utterly reasonable requests is my enemy -- and so are their gods.

MGraybosch
01-10-2010, 12:30 AM
Oddly enough, I have never beaten my wife.

Neither have I.

Ruv Draba
01-10-2010, 12:53 AM
Oddly enough, I have never beaten my wife, although I am a man. Does the fact that I am a man, and some men are wife-beaters, forever preclude me from cautioning beaten wives from retaliating and becoming the very thing they hate?Roger, I know you to be a decent and compassionate man of integrity. I'll happily pay attention to anything you say when your own faith is not involved, including any political matter on which we may differ.

If you were also a feller who outright said that much of Deutoronomy is Stalin-like barbarism and should be excised from Biblical teaching then as an atheist with strong humanitarian sympathies, your words about how atheists should behave would carry great weight with me.

Instead, I see you condemning Stalin for a cruel, vicious atheist (and I concur) while never condemning Moses for being a Stalinesque Israelite whose example has led far too many Christians astray. Which I'm sorry to say, in my eyes and on this topic only, makes you the man who doesn't beat his wife, but still hangs the wife-beating stick in his broom-cupboard, just to remind her.

Lyv
01-10-2010, 02:25 AM
I have no idea.

My quote in context:


I was referring to those atheists who follow Dawkins suggestion to be forceful in opposing religion.
Opposing religion isn't the same as opposing people (I think MGraybosch and I are on the same page or at least in the same chapter--I oppose those who would take away my rights and the rights of others...religion may be the reason for their actions, but the reason isn't my problem). The distinction may be subtle, but there is a difference.

I'm fine with religion and religious people except when it and they affect me and other people. There's no chance an atheist could win a high elected office in this country at this time. That's a problem, and it's based on misconceptions of both atheists and the religious. My finally identifying as an atheist is part of my effort to dispel the myths about and biases against atheists. I've heard more than once, "But you're too good a person to be an atheist." That's a problem. It supposes a belief in God makes a person better, more moral, more worthy of trust. That idea has caused people to trust religious people simply because they are religious and we can all probably think of instances when this has been a monumentally bad idea.

Roger, I'll say this much. if I spoke of Christianity the way you speak of atheism, you'd protest. Actually, I've spoken of Christianity more respectfully and more accurately and you've protested. If I tried to tell you your religion isn't actually a religion, I can only imagine the response. Atheism isn't a religion. It's only the lack of belief in deities. That's it.

Ruv Draba
01-10-2010, 04:18 AM
And because atheists have no common ideology they can't be an ideological tribe. For instance, I've never met an atheist who has any regard for Stalin. His atheism creates no sense of common bond, no shared values. I feel no need to defend his views, nor do I see those views as springing from atheism -- rather I think that he arrived at atheism from a very different set of views and values than I hold.

Stalin and I share no creed in common. We have no common ideology. We have no shared holy text to quote from.

So my issue is not just language. When a Christian voices the idea that I or any of my atheist friends could one day become like Stalin he's demonstrating ignorance of secular history, atheism, and Christian history. He's also being outright offensive, because he's suggesting that my atheism might have bearing on my moral values -- which it doesn't. Rather, my moral values have bearing on my atheism and that I think is Lyv's point too. Atheism is a metaphysical position, not a religion. It doesn't shape one's moral values. An atheist's moral values are shaped elswhere.

That Dawkins could become Stalin, I think ludicrous. But Dawkins could inspire a Stalin and that is a concern I share with Roger, and perhaps Mustang too. I'd just phrase that concern very differently to the way they did. Given the common experiences of atheists, I would also strongly suggest that anyone of Christian faith at least first acknowledge the historical and continuing supremacism, entitlement, bigotry and humanitarian abuses by their own faith in the main, before bringing polemics against the potential abuses of atheism in this forum.

And if you don't believe that it's historical and continuing, then perhaps you ought to come ask questions before voicing opinions.

MGraybosch
01-10-2010, 04:50 AM
And because atheists have no common ideology they can't be an ideological tribe. For instance, I've never met an atheist who has any regard for Stalin.

Stalin was no atheist; the State was his god, and I'd pay dearly to piss on his grave.

Ruv Draba
01-10-2010, 05:12 AM
Stalin was no atheist; the State was his god, and I'd pay dearly to piss on his grave.Atheists aren't necessarily free from ideals and zealotry, but I'd join the queue with you on the latter. :)

fullbookjacket
01-10-2010, 05:12 AM
Religious conservatives ALWAYS get around to throwing Stalin in your face when they find out you're an atheist. As if somehow you approve of Stalin's murderous ways. If you counter with Hitler's Christianity, they claim that he, too, was an atheist. In spite of his many proclamations of religious faith.

You can't win. I could list dozens of religious, mass-murdering dictators, but it wouldn't matter. The religious faithful would just say that those guys (and gals) weren't REALLY Christians.

The fact of the matter is this: no one knows fully what is in the heart and mind of another. How do I really know that Hitler was a Christian? I don't. Likewise, how does anyone really know that Stalin was NOT a Christian? Maybe deep down he was devoted to Christ or Moses or Buddha or Allah, and only used atheism as a means to rise to power in the Soviet Union.

The problem with despots is a totalitarian mindset, not a particular religious outlook. These monsters are sociopaths with little or no regard for fellow human beings.

Ruv Draba
01-10-2010, 05:15 AM
The problem with despots is a totalitarian mindset, not a particular religious outlook. These monsters are sociopaths with little or no regard for fellow human beings.The irony of the current squabbling is that this thread is about how to not be a totalitarian zealot. So the theistic finger-wagging is a bit late to the party, no?

fullbookjacket
01-10-2010, 05:16 AM
Another thing that irks me...you always hear about atheist Communists. As though one requires the other. Not so. Lots of Communists believe in gods. The Sandinistas actively embraced Christianity and the Catholic Church.

MGraybosch
01-10-2010, 07:59 AM
Atheists aren't necessarily free from ideals and zealotry

No shit. I happen to lean towards individualist anarchism, myself. I avoid zealotry by remembering that it's the means that justify the end, not the end that justify the means. Use methods that violate individual rights, and you blacken your cause.

maxmordon
01-10-2010, 08:09 AM
Another thing that irks me...you always hear about atheist Communists. As though one requires the other. Not so. Lots of Communists believe in gods. The Sandinistas actively embraced Christianity and the Catholic Church.

The Liberation Theology, is what you're refering which was quite popular among young priests in Latin America during the 70's (especially Jesuits). It's also worth to point out the Muslim Communists, as seen ruling until recently in Turkmenistan, for example.

Ruv Draba
01-10-2010, 11:20 AM
There's an argument (levelled by the last Pope for instance, but he wasn't the first to make it) that atheism leads to materialism, and that materialism leads to communism, hedonism, nihilism and amorality... I don't know about that causality, but it's true that communists, hedonists, nihilists and the amoral have sometimes used materialism to justify their positions. Yet as Max and Jacket pointed out, a person of any faith can be a communist and so too anyone can be a materialist -- whether they believe in an afterlife or not (what else are deathbed repentences about?)

Atheists certainly don't hold a monopoly on materialism, and I'd argue that there are far more Christian materialists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_materialism) (say) in countries like the US and Australia than atheist materialists, and that's probably been true in the wealthier countries since Constantine I first converted. (I'd also question how the head of a private organisation worth billions could dare accuse anyone else of materialism, but that's another matter.)

Neither is every atheist preoccupied with just tangibles. The fact that there are no gods does not presume to say what is important to an atheist. Many atheists are spiritual folk, with concerns about intangibles like morality, ethics, peace, respect, community, fulfillment, purpose -- the same concerns that interest Christians, Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, say. That's one reason atheists contribute to this forum.

knight_tour
01-10-2010, 02:54 PM
And because atheists have no common ideology they can't be an ideological tribe.

This, IMO, is a key problem for us here on earth. I think that humans crave a sort of spirituality on some level. The problem is that only religions are provided to fill this void. We need an alternative, some means of people being able to come together and feel the energy/love/whatever without it having to be based upon make-believe. It sounds weird, but in a way we would be better off over time if we DID develop groups of agnostics (I prefer this to atheism, as I consider it more accurate) who got together to fulfill this very human need. Give humans a means of getting the spirituality they need without it having to be dishonest, and maybe we can finally evolve away from religion. It won't happen any time soon, of course.

Ruv Draba
01-10-2010, 03:39 PM
This, IMO, is a key problem for us here on earth. I think that humans crave a sort of spirituality on some level.I think it's more complicated, KT. Some humans are concerned about just getting by; some are concerned about meaning and direction; some want tribe and belonging; some prefer not and some don't care either way.


The problem is that only religions are provided to fill this void.Not really true. There's certainly a lot of spirituality around that is non-theistic. Some sects of Buddhism, Taoism, along with secular humanism all qualify. In terms of tribe, one can have religious and non-religious tribes -- and some faiths are more or less tribal.


We need an alternative, some means of people being able to come together and feel the energy/love/whatever without it having to be based upon make-believe.I've seen this occur in sporting events, and I get a lot of hugs and good will at karaoke. :)


It sounds weird, but in a way we would be better off over time if we DID develop groups of agnostics (I prefer this to atheism, as I consider it more accurate)A good collective term is non-theist. Atheists aren't agnostics; agnostics aren't atheists.

Give humans a means of getting the spirituality they need without it having to be dishonest, and maybe we can finally evolve away from religion. It won't happen any time soon, of course.While I consider theistic metaphysics to be flawed, I don't see any path by which humanity can develop away from it. We're hard-wired to see faces in clouds. Some people need to know that there's a story making their lives sensible. The intersection of the two gives some people a strong need for theism. If they didn't have it, I reckon they'd rediscover it. :)

This reconnects (finally) with the subject of this thread though. If some people have a genuine need for theistic religion -- if lack of such a thing would make them anxious and miserable -- then I think compassion dictates that non-theistic authors realise this somehow.

Kitty
01-10-2010, 03:50 PM
While I consider theistic metaphysics to be flawed, I don't see any path by which humanity can develop away from it. We're hard-wired to see faces in clouds. Some people need to know that there's a story making their lives sensible. The intersection of the two gives some people a strong need for theism. If they didn't have it, I reckon they'd rediscover it. :)

This reconnects (finally) with the subject of this thread though. If some people have a genuine need for theistic religion -- if lack of such a thing would make them anxious and miserable -- then I think compassion dictates that non-theistic authors realise this somehow.

You'll have to excuse me for only half reading but this stood out.

It reminded me of Marism (before it became adulterated) and how he believed humans were unable to escape the grasp of theism. He believed that it became an immoveable force in which governments as well as religious organisations controlled the population - it could by hypothesised, through keeping the population ignorant.

I don't believed we are wired to view our environment this way. By lessening the impact of learnt behaviour, we break the mould we're conditioned to accept.

Breaking our bias in religious matters comes from standing back from not only the context of the said belief but also our emotional attachment to our beliefs. Viewing another's belief shouldn't contain any form of emotional attachment because to do so, would be to pass judgement on how they are interpreting their belief. Being atheist, we aren't in a position to truly appreciate how a theist interacts and negotiates with their chosen faith.

*hoping that made sense*

Ruv Draba
01-10-2010, 04:24 PM
I don't believed we are wired to view our environment this way.It's not very intuitive because many people do not perceive faces as being special. However, recent research shows that facial recognition occurs at birth -- before many other forms of recognition -- so something interesting is going on there. E.g, this is from Science Daily (http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2005/01/050104114623.htm):


December 2004 -- A study publishing in the recent issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science reports that infants are highly sensitive to the shape and structure of the human face from birth, but not the human body. Recognition of the shape and structure of the human body does not occur until sometime in the second year of life.In support of that, I notice empirically that my more mystically-minded friends seem to see faces in more abstract shapes than my more rationally-minded friends.

By lessening the impact of learnt behaviour, we break the mould we're conditioned to accept.I've come to disbelieve that all human minds are the same, differentiated only by what they've learned. There's no real evidence to support that, and plenty of evidence to refute it. If gayness, say, can be an innate predisposition (and it seems to be), then why not mysticism? Moreover, there's a strong link between Myers-Briggs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator) personality types, the way they go about processing info and making decisions, and the reasons people will come to certain beliefs. But M-B types appear don't much seem to be shaped by education -- rather, education appears to be selected by personality type.

Based on all that, I don't believe that rationalists can conform other people to be rational. And more than that, there are so many weaknesses in the way rationals acquire information and make decisions in certain domains (e.g. social and emotional domains) that I believe they probably shouldn't try. :)

MGraybosch
01-10-2010, 06:10 PM
There's an argument (levelled by the last Pope for instance, but he wasn't the first to make it) that atheism leads to materialism, and that materialism leads to communism, hedonism, nihilism and amorality...

What are monasteries and convents if not small-scale implementations of communism?

Kitty
01-10-2010, 06:46 PM
It reminded me of Marism (before it became adulterated) and how he believed humans were unable to escape the grasp of theism. He believed that it became an immoveable force in which governments as well as religious organisations controlled the population - it could by hypothesised, through keeping the population ignorant.

I don't believed we are wired to view our environment this way. By lessening the impact of learnt behaviour, we break the mould we're conditioned to accept.



It's not very intuitive because many people do not perceive faces as being special. However, recent research shows that facial recognition occurs at birth -- before many other forms of recognition -- so something interesting is going on there.

Based on all that, I don't believe that rationalists can conform other people to be rational. And more than that, there are so many weaknesses in the way rationals acquire information and make decisions in certain domains (e.g. social and emotional domains) that I believe they probably shouldn't try. :)

Not quite my point. By stating that we are wired by our environment, I meant to imply that by our interactions with our habitus and social sphere, we are moulded to a particular standard - what is socially acceptable, etc. This includes religions as well. A predominant Christian environment will cater to specific social norms which would be different to a Shinto or Taoist sphere.

Part of the programming I mentioned as well. It's wiring. Religions continue due to this and other reasons. But mainly, it comes down to conditioning.

knight_tour
01-10-2010, 07:21 PM
A good collective term is non-theist. Atheists aren't agnostics; agnostics aren't atheists.

I am aware of that, though many of my friends who call themselves atheists are actually agnostics and are simply mislabeling themselves. I consider agnosticism correct because it stops where we should be stopping - where we simply admit that humans do not know the truth behind our universe - and leaves it at that (in other words, get on with living life the best that you can and stop pretending that you know 'truths' that cannot be known). Atheists, at least all that I have met, try to go beyond this and posit that there is no god (or gods). That is making a decision based upon no evidence, which is exactly what atheists keep trying to ding the religious folks for.

They then like to say that one should not even need to consider an idea for which there is no evidence. I think this is wrong for the simple reason that there is evidence that higher intelligence can exist in the universe. WE are a higher intelligence. The very fact of our existence is enough to prove that higher intelligence can exist, and perhaps there can be an intelligence higher enough than us that some here on earth might consider it a 'god' if encountered. My friends who have scoffed at this have generally done so because they take only the more recent, narrow idea of 'gods' seriously, rather than the broader definitions that existed before the monotheistic religions came to power.

(Please don't paste in definitions of agnosticism from a dictionary. I am well aware of them. It should be understood that if enough people misuse a word for long enough, the dictionary folks end up sticking that definition in the dictionary as a usage, never mind that it is inaccurate. You see that with quite a number of words, sadly.)

fullbookjacket
01-10-2010, 09:36 PM
Some not-so-random contributions to the recent posts:

1. "Atheist" vs. "agnostic." I think of myself as an atheist because I don't believe that what persons typically refer to as gods exist. I don't claim to KNOW for certain that no such animal exists, so someone could label me an agnostic. Whatever. The labels don't interest me all that much.

An argument could be made that I believe in God depending on how you define "God." Physics proves that there's an interconnectivity between every particle in the Universe. If someone wants to call that "God", then I guess that makes me a devout believer.

2. Atheism and religion are not mutually exclusive. Atheism itself is not a religion (despite what the religious say), but there are atheist (or at least, nontheistic) religions. Buddhism, for example.

3. The ardent atheist Sam Harris argues vehemently for spirituality in his book, The End of Faith. Harris feels that spirituality is part of our makeup. Transcendental Meditation and similar spiritual practices are very good for one's health and peace of mind. It's the attachment of spiritualism to mythical beings that he objects to.

4. Ruv is correct...we are hardwired to see faces in our environment. I believe we're also hardwired for religion, ironically, as an evolutionary response to a harsh, violent world. Our hominid ancestors found that anything that would promote "community" tended to upgrade our chances of survival as a species.

I use the word "hardwired" with some trepidation. It tends to imply that some intelligent design made us this way, because hardwiring is something that humans do. Evolution has developed this response in us over countless generations.

knight_tour
01-10-2010, 09:43 PM
An argument could be made that I believe in God depending on how you define "God." Physics proves that there's an interconnectivity between every particle in the Universe. If someone wants to call that "God", then I guess that makes me a devout believer.

Great post. I especially like this part I quoted here, as I have used this a lot in my writing. In my fantasy, this 'energy' that interconnects everything represents both the 'magic' of my created world and the 'spirituality' of the men who arrive on the world from earth.

Ruv Draba
01-10-2010, 11:14 PM
Not quite my point. By stating that we are wired by our environment, I meant to imply that by our interactions with our habitus and social sphere, we are moulded to a particular standard - what is socially acceptable, etc. This includes religions as well. A predominant Christian environment will cater to specific social norms which would be different to a Shinto or Taoist sphere. I agree. It's recognised that Christian families tend to raise more Christians than Jainists, for instance. :)

But from a rationalist perspective that's not terribly relevant. What's relevant is whether rationalism can be nurtured in everyone, and past a certain point I think it can't. There have been two big social experiments to eradicate magical thinking. Both were communist -- the USSR's and China's. Both were utterly and unforgivably brutal. Both have failed.

Christians may raise Christians, but rationalists it seems, do not always raise rationalists. Bear in mind that Plato was taught by Socrates and not vice-versa.

So I'm a rationalist, in the sense that rational, objective thinking is not only best for me, I find it almost impossible to avoid. But I'm not a rational supremacist. I don't believe in a manifest destiny for rational ideology. I'm very well aware of just how much good it's done humanity, but unlike Dawkins say, I don't believe that creates a moral mandate for it to become the only thought that humanity thinks, and I don't believe that pragmatically it can ever reach that state.

Ruv Draba
01-10-2010, 11:24 PM
I consider agnosticism correct because it stops where we should be stopping - where we simply admit that humans do not know the truth behind our universe - and leaves it at thatActually, agnosticism may aso take a stronger position: that humans can't know metaphysical truths. In common usage it may also take a weaker position: that a human hasn't thought about this stuff at all. Sometimes agnosticism is seen as a middle ground between atheism and theism, but I think that skepticism occupies that ground. So agnosticism doesn't describe just one position, but several possible positions -- most of them quite interesting.

The term was coined by TH Huxley in the 19th century.


They were quite sure that they had attained a certain "gnosis" -- had more or less successfully solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble.

(A link to the Skeptic's Dictionary (http://skepdic.com/agnosticism.html), from which I glommed the quote.)

Ruv Draba
01-11-2010, 12:09 AM
Just conversationally, I'm atheistic for two reasons, a philosophical reason and a moral one. The philosophical reason is a position that I don't need to even entertain the possible existence of gods outside of fiction until I either see one, or a proponent for their existence meets a certain minimum standard for logic and evidence -- the sort of standard that lets me agree that a 'spoon' say, exists. No proponent has ever yet met that standard.

The moral reason is that I have a strong, faith-based conviction that even if the Universe has a creator, and supernatural creatures (whatever that means) exist, that's not a good reason to worship them.

Metaphysically, I'm indifferently agnostic. I don't know where everything came from, or what keeps it all consistent. I'm not sure that I can ever know, or that I need to care. Unless reality changes on us, it's speculative entertainment, is all.

Roger J Carlson
01-11-2010, 12:17 AM
Roger, I'll say this much. if I spoke of Christianity the way you speak of atheism, you'd protest. Actually, I've spoken of Christianity more respectfully and more accurately and you've protested. Citation? I'd sure like to know when you've spoken respectfully about religion and I've protested. For that matter, I'd like to know when I have spoken disrespectfully of atheism.
If I tried to tell you your religion isn't actually a religion, I can only imagine the response. Atheism isn't a religion. It's only the lack of belief in deities. That's it.You'd be quite surprised by what I'd say.

Ruv Draba
01-11-2010, 12:35 AM
Citation? I'd sure like to know when you've spoken respectfully about religion and I've protested.Sometimes respect means different things to different people.

It's very easy for outsiders to cross lines of taboo which they don't even see, but which shock and offend insiders. I've done this by accident with ethnic groups (e.g. while I was travelling in Japan, and once politely tried to help my neighbour in a hotel open his stuck front door -- he leapt back from me in terror and his wife literally hissed at me), and sometimes with religious groups (e.g. when I asked in AW's Christian writers forum to what degree Christianity is immune to, hostile to, or vulnerable to fascism).

For that matter, I'd like to know when I have spoken disrespectfully of atheism.You're always civil, but not always respectful. For instance in the past I've seen you argue that religion is the sole source of morality. That has strong implications for what you think of atheist morality and understanding of their own morality. As a person who counts his moral conscience as important -- and who likes to keep track of the sources of his ideas -- I was certainly offended. On another occasion you told me that I wanted to take control of your kids' education -- which is absolutely untrue, and says more about what you think of atheists than what you know of me. Links if you want them.


You'd be quite surprised by what I'd say.What you say is always interesting. I'd be glad to hear if you think that there are religions which are not religions, and why not. Perhaps not in this thread though. :)

Roger J Carlson
01-11-2010, 02:36 AM
Well, I was going to delete my last post, as it's really immaterial and boils down to "Yes you did, no I didn't", and I'm not really interested in continuing that argument. Unfortunately, I have family over and got called away. Since you've quoted it, there's no point.

Lyv, please disregard my call for a citation. I'll take it on faith that I have protested when you believe you have spoken respectfully, although I have no memory of doing so. If I have spoken disrespectfully about athiests, I apologize. It was not my intent.



You're always civil, but not always respectful. For instance in the past I've seen you argue that religion is the sole source of morality...On another occasion you told me that I wanted to take control of your kids' education -- which is absolutely untrue, and says more about what you think of atheists than what you know of me. Links if you want them. Although you may believe I said both of these things, I really did not. What you believe I said was not what I meant. I recall going around and around trying to explain, but apparently I did not succeed. As such, it would probably be futile to drag the arguments back to this thread.

For the record, I do not think religion is the sole source of morality. I certainly don't think you are trying to take over my kids' education.


What you say is always interesting. I'd be glad to hear if you think that there are religions which are not religions, and why not. Perhaps not in this thread though. :)You may be interested, but I don't get the feeling that anyone else is particularly. My intent has always been to participate in a conversation, not to belittle, dismiss, or proseltyze. That I am constantly misunderstood is likely due to my inablility to communicate what I mean accurately.

Therefore, it is probably best if I bow out of this conversation and forum. My apologies to all for intruding.

Ruv Draba
01-11-2010, 02:48 AM
Therefore, it is probably best if I bow out of this conversation and forum. My apologies to all for intruding.You are not intruding! I've just written Roger a passionate plea to stay and if he won't listen then I'll bloody-well post it here, publicly.

knight_tour
01-11-2010, 12:19 PM
The moral reason is that I have a strong, faith-based conviction that even if the Universe has a creator, and supernatural creatures (whatever that means) exist, that's not a good reason to worship them.

Yeah, this has never made any sense to me. If a creator makes
something, why would they then want to insist that its creations worship/adore it? If I create, say, an ant colony, I just want to kick back and see what they do with their lives. I would consider it awfully boring, and a bit weird, if the ants spent all their time adoring me. To require such obeisance is a human frailty, not consistent with what I expect from a higher intelligence.

I assume that the human need to have people worship them that we see from kings and dictators must just be taken as a given by many religious folks that a god would want the same thing.

Ruv Draba
01-11-2010, 02:50 PM
If a creator makes
something, why would they then want to insist that its creations worship/adore it?Regardless, people only ever worship because they want to, or because they're afraid. But if you don't want to and you're not afraid, why bother?

MGraybosch
01-11-2010, 04:12 PM
Yeah, this has never made any sense to me. If a creator makes
something, why would they then want to insist that its creations worship/adore it?

Because it's insecure? Personally, I always thought that this constant demand for worship was proof that humans not only created gods in their own images, but created these gods in the images of their vilest and most cruel impulses. "Adore me or suffer eternally" isn't something a truly good god would say; it's the words of a bully and a tyrant.

Kitty
01-12-2010, 03:59 AM
Regardless, people only ever worship because they want to, or because they're afraid. But if you don't want to and you're not afraid, why bother?[/FONT][/COLOR]

...because it isn't always about fear.

You forget that most religions were formed as a means to dictate moral and ethical codes to the population and to control abhorrent behaviour - in other words, to civilise them.

Yes, fear is a great strategy but as people evolved, so did religion to become more the 'fuzzy' kind of gods that people would now relate to.

You look at pre-Christianity. Marduk...? Mardok...? Oh hell... I can't remember his name but he was the precursor to what they call Jehovah now. Even the OT God is different to the one taught today.

Fear is still taught because it works - guilt works and works well on those who are influenced by their own sense of morality and conscienceless. But if that were all it were about, then a lot of the sub-religions wouldn't have come into existence.

fullbookjacket
01-12-2010, 04:05 AM
...because it isn't always about fear.

You forget that most religions were formed as a means to dictate moral and ethical codes to the population and to control abhorrent behaviour - in other words, to civilise them.

Yes, fear is a great strategy but as people evolved, so did religion to become more the 'fuzzy' kind of gods that people would now relate to.

You look at pre-Christianity. Marduk...? Mardok...? Oh hell... I can't remember his name but he was the precursor to what they call Jehovah now. Even the OT God is different to the one taught today.

Fear is still taught because it works - guilt works and works well on those who are influenced by their own sense of morality and conscienceless. But if that were all it were about, then a lot of the sub-religions wouldn't have come into existence.

It's classic carrot-and-stick psychology. You're given a choice between eternal bliss and eternal suffering. Very effective in controlling people.

Kitty
01-12-2010, 04:11 AM
It's classic carrot-and-stick psychology. You're given a choice between eternal bliss and eternal suffering. Very effective in controlling people.

True... and for a vast majority, it'd work.

But even beliefs like Buddhism and Shinto have undergone large changes from when they first emerged. Granted Shinto became split into two forms but it was (is?) acknowledged as a form of ancestral/ natural worship not unlike a lot of native cultures across the world.

They aren't formed from fear but instead from a respect of their environment and as means to explain/ understand why it is the way it is.

Ruv Draba
01-12-2010, 05:11 AM
You forget that most religions were formed as a means to dictate moral and ethical codes to the population and to control abhorrent behaviour - in other words, to civilise them.Formed by whom? Based on what evidence? And how does one manipulate a people to become 'civilised' without first knowing what civilisation is?

I don't personally believe it.

When I consider how new religions form today, I see two kinds: those formed by charlatans for their own benefit, and those formed by idealists who genuinely want to help people. It seems reasonable to think that this is what has happened in the past too.

In mysticism I see people who are afraid of the supernatural world, and people who want to leverage it for their own development.

My personal view is that the supernatural either doesn't exist or is largely ineffective, in comparison to other more scientific methods. Which makes it nothing to court and nothing to fear.

As for conscience, morality etc... I see nothing supernatural in it. People are empathic by nature, so they can become compassionate as they grow wiser and more knowledgable. Or they can switch their empathy off and become indifferent.

Kitty
01-12-2010, 05:31 AM
Formed by whom? Based on what evidence? And how does one manipulate a people to become 'civilised' without first knowing what civilisation is?

For the bulk of that, I'm going to ignore simply because it is an opinion.

To become civilised is an expression coined by modern society as a means to separate modern standards to ancient. You're just being pedantic.

If you have done any study into sociology and religion, the evidence is blatantly clear that it has been manipulated in order to create a society that is in accordance to what the powers would like it to be. Initially, religious powers, then State before the two battle amongst themselves. It is a game of chess.

If you're really interested in understanding how this evolved, I suggest you look into Moore and Habel, who go extensively into the classifications/evolution of religion; M Eliade, who has been in the field for quite some time and has written countless articles and books on the sacred and profane; Durkheim and Marx who both go into the sociological and philosophical applications of religion upon modern society.

There are others but the choice is yours.

Ruv Draba
01-12-2010, 06:41 AM
For the bulk of that, I'm going to ignore simply because it is an opinion.An interesting way to engage a discussion. :)

If you're really interested in understanding how this evolved, I suggest you look into Moore and Habel, who go extensively into the classifications/evolution of religionIs that opinion too, and should I therefore ignore it? :tongue

Kitty
01-12-2010, 06:45 AM
Your language suggested that you believed those things as an absolute. Considering the discussion overall, is about how to rise above bias, I don't see the point in trying to convince you that your views are on the narrow sided line of things.

Whether you choose to read up on the matter or not is entirely your choice. I do believe I said that ;)

But if you hold these opinions due to ignorance, then perhaps it is best to further research the matter....?

Ruv Draba
01-12-2010, 09:38 AM
Your language suggested that you believed those things as an absolute. Considering the discussion overall, is about how to rise above bias, I don't see the point in trying to convince you that your views are on the narrow sided line of things.Kitty, you're making no sense. You claimed that all religion is to control people -- that's an absolute, and narrower than my own view since I think that religions may sometimes control people and sometimes seek to help people. Neither did I say at any time that religion was all about fear -- but rather fear and desire, so I have no idea why you're arguing with me on this in the first place. You've made oblique mention to sources you seem to think of as authoritative but haven't mentioned what they contain or explained why they should be seen as authoritative.

You're also being rude and condescending.

Sorry, but if this is all you're bringing to the discussion then it's not worth playing.

Kitty
01-12-2010, 09:05 PM
Kitty, you're making no sense. You claimed that all religion is to control people -- that's an absolute, and narrower than my own view since I think that religions may sometimes control people and sometimes seek to help people. Neither did I say at any time that religion was all about fear -- but rather fear and desire, so I have no idea why you're arguing with me on this in the first place. You've made oblique mention to sources you seem to think of as authoritative but haven't mentioned what they contain or explained why they should be seen as authoritative.

You're also being rude and condescending.

Sorry, but if this is all you're bringing to the discussion then it's not worth playing.

I bow respectfully in your direction n give a fond 'whatever'. You have obviously decided on a certain way of things. And after this, you can go back to whatever it was you were doing and I shall leave you be, 'cause honestly, I don't care enough to go into with you.

One can be pointed to where knowledge lies but it's up to the individual whether or not they choose to ingest it. After all, knowledge needs to be chased, not hand delivered.

Ruv Draba
01-13-2010, 12:03 AM
After all, knowledge needs to be chased, not hand delivered.A curious belief for an author, that almost kept you off my ignore list.

Hittman
01-13-2010, 02:15 AM
Communist oppression was the result of evil individuals that happened to be atheist, but religious oppression is the fault of the ideology, not just evil individuals abusing it. You can't have it both ways. What in atheism says "kill people who believe differently?"

Religions, OTOH, almost always have that as part of their theology.


I was referring to those atheists who follow Dawkins suggestion to be forceful in opposing religion. A better word would be "adamant". While godders frequently (usually?) force religion on others, atheists don't want to use force – but logic and reason - to persuade people.


There's an argument (levelled by the last Pope for instance, but he wasn't the first to make it) that atheism leads to materialism, and that materialism leads to communism, hedonism, nihilism and amorality Those statemsets coming from a pope are quite amusing, when he's living in a city where the decorations on any given door could feed a starving nation for a year.


Being atheist, we aren't in a position to truly appreciate how a theist interacts and negotiates with their chosen faith. That depends on your background. Many atheists, myself included, grew up in excessively zealous religions. We're very familiar with how theists think, because we used to use to think the same way.


They then like to say that one should not even need to consider an idea for which there is no evidence. I think this is wrong for the simple reason that there is evidence that higher intelligence can exist in the universe. WE are a higher intelligence.
There have been two big social experiments to eradicate magical thinking. Both were communist -- the USSR's and China's. Both were utterly and unforgivably brutal. Both have failed. Perhaps it's the brutality that made them fail. Or the fact that they completely ignored some of the most basic desires of human nature.

Humans want to own things, and to see results from their hard work. If you deny that to them they've got no incentive to work hard. That has nothing to do with atheism/religion, and is one of the biggest reasons socialism/communism always fails.


Christians may raise Christians, but rationalists it seems, do not always raise rationalists. Bear in mind that Plato was taught by Socrates and not vice-versa. Hard core Christians raise a lot of atheists. Religions plagued with excessive rules and baggage inspire people to do more research and study which often leads to atheism. People raised in more moderate religions are, I think, more likely to accept them without as much scrutiny and keep religion as part of their lives.

Ruv Draba
01-13-2010, 02:31 AM
What in atheism says "kill people who believe differently?"

Religions, OTOH, almost always have that as part of their theology.Monotheistic religions find it hard to tolerate heresy, and conservative monotheism is especially known for its persecutions. Pagan and henotheistic religions are far less xenophobic, but they do sometimes kill their heretics, as Socrates could attest.


While godders frequently (usually?) force religion on others, atheists don't want to use force – but logic and reason - to persuade people.There's nothing in atheism to require enforced conversions, but equally there's nothing in atheism to prevent them either.

Atheism can't be used as a moral code in society because it isn't a moral position, but a metaphysical one. I believe that any atheistic society has to adopt some moral code in addition. The moral codes adopted by the USSR and Communist China are not ones I favour -- but they can hardly be slated against atheism either.


Perhaps it's the brutality that made them fail. Or the fact that they completely ignored some of the most basic desires of human nature.I favour the latter, though I agree that brutality tends to entrench people in their beliefs too.


Religions plagued with excessive rules and baggage inspire people to do more research and study which often leads to atheism.Historically, the thing that most seems to lead to atheism is a strong secular education. I think that religious people sometimes see secular education as anti-religious. I see it though as being areligious. If people want to add religious education on top they can. If they're silly enough to teach contradictory messages as part of that religious education then I don't see it as the fault of secular education that they do.


People raised in more moderate religions are, I think, more likely to accept them without as much scrutiny and keep religion as part of their lives.I suspect that the less religion tries to tell us about the physical world, the less it demands us to be intolerant, and the more it tries to help us, the more successful it will be in a well-educated, pluralistic society.

I for one would be very happy with that. I know that religion is not for me, but I'm happy for it to be good for other people as long as it doesn't lead others into gross stupidity and xenophobia.

cethklein
01-05-2011, 07:20 AM
No, that would be one of the more cherished misconceptions in the religious realm. Atheism is really the absence of religion.



A true non-believer -or atheist as some prefer to call us - is actually convinced that the 'god'-concept has been invented by man.

And a person of faith is "convinced" there is divine power. See, the original statement couldn't be more true. no atheist can prove there is no god any more than a person of religion can prove there is one. No matter one's viewpoint, it all comes down to believing in something without total scientific evidence.

richcapo
01-09-2011, 12:27 AM
How can I avoid "preaching" about atheism?When you find yourself preaching about atheism, stop it and preach about sex instead, or better yet, preach about nothing at all.

Just be cognizant of what you're doing and muster the self control you need to not push your opinions down other people's throats.

_Richard, a fellow atheist.

SLake
01-09-2011, 02:46 AM
When you find yourself preaching about atheism, stop it and preach about sex instead, or better yet, preach about nothing at all.

Just be cognizant of what you're doing and muster the self control you need to not push your opinions down other people's throats.

_Richard, a fellow atheist.

Woo, an idealist, the human race ceasing its preaching. Surely the chance of that is between fat chance and no chance, or traditionally: between the devil and the deep blue sea.

but cethklein said (sry, I dunno how to quote quote): "it all comes down to believing in something without total scientific evidence."

Well "total scientific evidence" almost like a magic wand in the minds of many, and often that wand is waved when 'total' scientific evidence is far from total. Pity I think these subjects are so emotive. Myself I only believe what I have seen and what I personally can prove to be real.

Sure human history has had religious wars, but supposing there was no religion I don't think history'd be any different. Persecution would be about something else, so I think blaming religions is naive. Indeed the God question is not about persecuting the opposition, it's primarily about love. In this sense, in my opinion, most religions have failed. Well isn't love supposed to be all-forgiving?!

That those who claim to be of 'the sciences' have derided me personally (not on AW but a variety Sci sites) because I have asked what I consider rational questions - so their claims to rationalism, 'evidence' etc, I cannot take seriously. Seems if you question science's 'company line' you mark yourself as their enemy.

In this sense I have no bias but I see hot air that fades, strengthens or weakens, generation to generation. Essentially to me humanity is no less barbaric than ever it was. Names and titles - science, religion, Atheism, like politics, etc, pish, because I've been persecuted by them all and doubtless will be again.

As for preaching, getting a word in edge-wise is difficult.

whacko
01-09-2011, 03:19 AM
Hey SL,

I think richcapo was more addressing Rhys's dilemma, in a very fair manner, than life in general.

But pish, great word.

Regards

Whacko

richcapo
01-09-2011, 04:31 AM
Woo, an idealist, the human race ceasing its preaching. Surely the chance of that is between fat chance and no chance, or traditionally: between the devil and the deep blue sea.

but cethklein said (sry, I dunno how to quote quote): "it all comes down to believing in something without total scientific evidence."

Well "total scientific evidence" almost like a magic wand in the minds of many, and often that wand is waved when 'total' scientific evidence is far from total. Pity I think these subjects are so emotive. Myself I only believe what I have seen and what I personally can prove to be real.

Sure human history has had religious wars, but supposing there was no religion I don't think history'd be any different. Persecution would be about something else, so I think blaming religions is naive. Indeed the God question is not about persecuting the opposition, it's primarily about love. In this sense, in my opinion, most religions have failed. Well isn't love supposed to be all-forgiving?!

That those who claim to be of 'the sciences' have derided me personally (not on AW but a variety Sci sites) because I have asked what I consider rational questions - so their claims to rationalism, 'evidence' etc, I cannot take seriously. Seems if you question science's 'company line' you mark yourself as their enemy.

In this sense I have no bias but I see hot air that fades, strengthens or weakens, generation to generation. Essentially to me humanity is no less barbaric than ever it was. Names and titles - science, religion, Atheism, like politics, etc, pish, because I've been persecuted by them all and doubtless will be again.

As for preaching, getting a word in edge-wise is difficult.What Whacko said.

_Richard

SLake
01-09-2011, 06:29 AM
What Whacko said.

_Richard

Too general, sigh.

You wanna convince people to Atheism without being too obvious, well ok, persuasion, I'll be more specific.

The extreme of persuasion well, Adolf turned many people to National Socialism, many loved him - youth likes pop music, so Christians became 'cool' pop musicians, etc, etc Presidents, leader, dictators...

Charisma, the key, because if history says anything it's if you have charisma, you can convince the world to do anything, any darn thing at all. And then what about glorious logic, reason - again, pish.

As to 'general' well I implied I suffered many boring hours of preachers and was afflicted... 'Tis a long list beginning with school teachers shoving stuff down my throat, most of which retrospectively was useless. Religious preaching the least of it. And the main complaint of kids against parents? Well, preaching.

So... preaching, to me it's a pain. But that was yesterday, preachers are a lesser thing. Today it's selling, but not just ordinary selling, it's done with charisma!

So how's that done?

Read a sales manual.

richcapo
01-09-2011, 04:28 PM
What Whacko said: I was only talking about the OP's dilemma. Not the real world. I have no interest in convincing anyone of anything, just answering the OP's question on how he can stop promoting atheism in his writing. Go on with your argument, though. I'm sure someone will jump in to debate your points.

_Richard

RavenMoon
03-01-2011, 09:37 PM
One really interesting thing you can do with Atheists in fantasy settings is make them aggressive and meaningful. What I mean by that is... in the real world, atheists really just exist as a reaction to belief, and mock it.

One (fun) model is where Gods actually require belief to survive (or grow stronger). Atheists in that model can actually commit guerrilla warfare (and other Gods can undermine each other) by converting people to their cause. You could even have a subplot where the Atheists are the catspaw of some God who is trying to rise to prominence by erasing the rest.

That may be a little too fantasy for you, though, if you're going for a purely realistic exploration of theistic themes.

My novel plays on the fun model. Without the faith of the people who worship them the gods get sick, and will eventually die if no one worships them anymore. I think that's where I understand when Christians and Muslims say their god is the 'living God', because they still believe and worship him. Whereas Zeus and Thor and the lot are , to paraphrase Sam Harris 'in a massive graveyard called mythology.'

The Unseen Moon
07-14-2011, 09:33 PM
No. Atheism is not the notion that there is no Gods, it is a lack of belief in the existence of Gods. Start there first.

It's like how some people can't believe in the existence of Unicorns, Dragons, or Santa Clause.

However, like any belief, when any belief is believed in so strongly that there absolutely zero room for growth, change or compromise of any sort, it is then no different than a religion.

It doesn't matter if it's atheism or some other ideology. It might as well be a religion.

Maxx
07-14-2011, 10:22 PM
It doesn't matter if it's atheism or some other ideology. It might as well be a religion.

So if I strongly believe the sun will come
up tomorrow, then I have no room for mental growth?

veinglory
07-14-2011, 10:25 PM
Please familiarize yourself with the sticky post in this forum if you have not already done so. This is a forum primarily about writing of an atheist nature. Some of y'all may be seeking the comparative religion forum.