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RichardGarfinkle
07-07-2015, 07:42 PM
Ran into this on the Huffington Post.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/07/si-robertson-atheists_n_7741006.html

It's about one of the Duck Dynasty people saying that there are no atheists. The evidence consists of the fact that we use a calendar that has year numbers based from the birth of Jesus. Of course by that reasoning everyone is really worshiping Roman and Norse gods given the names of the months and the days.

And, of course, there are no atheists in fox holes which is apparently the theme of a movie this guy was in.

Yeesh, what a load of ------- unthinking stereotypes and mindlessly clever bits.

veinglory
07-07-2015, 07:47 PM
It just goes to show that having a platform is not the same as having a brain.

Introversion
07-07-2015, 08:07 PM
It's a variant of a tired argument I often see online: That atheism is just another unprovable belief set, therefore, it's really a religion.

Um, sure, if "not stamp collecting" is really just another hobby. :tongue

Some believers seem to have a really visceral reaction to the idea that, no, honestly, some people just don't believe in any gods, or subscribe to any religious beliefs. I guess if I'm a believer in Norse gods, then I can be Just Wrong, but it must not feel like the ultimate repudiation of the Duck Dynasty guy's core beliefs?

I pay no attention to idiots like the Duck Dynasty guy, except where he tries to impose his religious beliefs on the rest of us, particularly through our laws. On the bright side, I've met plenty of believers who accept that atheism is a real thing, and don't seem threatened by it. I'm certainly fine with their beliefs, since they don't try to crowbar them onto me.

thethinker42
07-07-2015, 08:10 PM
It just goes to show that having a platform is not the same as having a brain.

Amen to that.

Corsairs
07-07-2015, 10:41 PM
Amen to that.
Oooh, delicious irony! :tongue

Maryn
07-07-2015, 10:42 PM
What saddens me most is that anyone gives any credence to anything the Duck Dynasty cast might say or think.

Maryn, thinking there's got to be a better world someplace

Introversion
07-08-2015, 03:12 AM
It's a variant of a tired argument I often see online: That atheism is just another unprovable belief set, therefore, it's really a religion.

For example, this, which for some reason just popped up on FaceBook for me even though it's from a 2006 interview:

Margaret Atwood & Martin Amis on Faith & Reason (http://billmoyers.com/content/margaret-atwood-martin-amis-on-faith-reason/)



BILL MOYERS: Not an atheist?

MARGARET ATWOOD: No, atheism-

BILL MOYERS: What’s the difference?

MARGARET ATWOOD: — is a religion.

BILL MOYERS: Atheism is a religion?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: You mean it’s dogmatic?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Absolutely dogmatic.

BILL MOYERS: How so?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Well it makes an absolute stand about something that cannot be proven.

BILL MOYERS: There is no God.

MARGARET ATWOOD: You can’t prove that.

Oy! <smacks forehead 10 times>

kuwisdelu
07-08-2015, 03:30 AM
Isn't he going further and saying non-Christians don't exist except possibly for Hellenistic pagans?

Teinz
07-08-2015, 05:10 PM
And, of course, there are no atheists in fox holes which is apparently the theme of a movie this guy was in.


I always understood this as: Atheists are far less likely to fall for the old adage "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori." Or pro deus for that matter.

Seems I have been mistaken.

I still like my interpretation better.

Max Vaehling
07-08-2015, 08:06 PM
Isn't he going further and saying non-Christians don't exist except possibly for Hellenistic pagans?

He should. It's the only logical conclusion. If you start with the premise that the Christian calendar (or, more precisely, the year numbering in it) is any kind of guide to deciding who exists or not, then only Christians exist. No Jews, no Muslims, no Buddhists (although they might be okay with it),

I couldn't care less about that Duck guy,, but this is so wrong-headed, it merits its own logic bubble. It's worse than saying Atheism can't be proven, btw. That, one can argue with.

ETA: Okay, couldn't resist but click on that link. So apparently, non-existence only begets you when you use that calendar. Its existence by itself doesn't do that. So I guess the Muslims are safe, as long as they're not living in the West.

Jamesaritchie
07-08-2015, 08:56 PM
It just goes to show that having a platform is not the same as having a brain.

No, it doesn't mean that at all. Being witty is not an argument, and has nothing to do with truth or facts.

Jamesaritchie
07-08-2015, 09:00 PM
Ran into this on the Huffington Post.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/07/07/si-robertson-atheists_n_7741006.html

It's about one of the Duck Dynasty people saying that there are no atheists. The evidence consists of the fact that we use a calendar that has year numbers based from the birth of Jesus. Of course by that reasoning everyone is really worshiping Roman and Norse gods given the names of the months and the days.

And, of course, there are no atheists in fox holes which is apparently the theme of a movie this guy was in.

Yeesh, what a load of ------- unthinking stereotypes and mindlessly clever bits.

Atheists may exist, but this much I know. Every case of atheism is temporary. Atheists all make the same mistake of thinking they believe one thing, and Christians believe another. This is thoughtless, and not the case at all. God exists, and this is not my belief, and more than the fact that the computer I'm using is not a belief. God is as solid, as real, as present, as this computer. Considerably more real and solid than anything or anyone on the internet.

Every atheist will meet God face to face.

And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?

Marian Perera
07-08-2015, 09:19 PM
Atheists may exist, but this much I know. Every case of atheism is temporary. Atheists all make the same mistake of thinking they believe one thing, and Christians believe another. This is thoughtless, and not the case at all. God exists, and this is not my belief, and more than the fact that the computer I'm using is not a belief. God is as solid, as real, as present, as this computer. Considerably more real and solid than anything or anyone on the internet.

Every atheist will meet God face to face.

And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?

I thought one of the guidelines of this sub-forum (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?110350-About-This-Forum&p=2627248&viewfull=1#post2627248) was :


...discussions may be assumed to be secular in nature and the basic validity of A&NT perspective is a starting assumption. Comparison might be made on 'safe rooms' on university campuses that exclude anti-homosexual and sexist conduct of any kind and thus allow members of these groups to relax and get on with their work.

asroc
07-08-2015, 09:21 PM
Atheists may exist, but this much I know. Every case of atheism is temporary. Atheists all make the same mistake of thinking they believe one thing, and Christians believe another. This is thoughtless, and not the case at all. God exists, and this is not my belief, and more than the fact that the computer I'm using is not a belief. God is as solid, as real, as present, as this computer. Considerably more real and solid than anything or anyone on the internet.

Every atheist will meet God face to face.

And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?

Poe's law...

rugcat
07-08-2015, 09:38 PM
I thought one of the guidelines of this sub-forum (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?110350-About-This-Forum&p=2627248&viewfull=1#post2627248) was :These guidelines only apply if there's an actual discussion.

There are occasional posters on AW who post their beliefs in a forceful manner as if they were fact, and then never, ever reply to any challenge of those opinions.

This applies not only to religious ideas, but to politics and writing as well. They have not the slightest interest in participating in a discussion about anything; they are desirous only of having a platform to express their own immutable beliefs.

Viridian
07-08-2015, 09:43 PM
Atheists may exist, but this much I know. Every case of atheism is temporary. Atheists all make the same mistake of thinking they believe one thing, and Christians believe another. This is thoughtless, and not the case at all. God exists, and this is not my belief, and more than the fact that the computer I'm using is not a belief. God is as solid, as real, as present, as this computer. Considerably more real and solid than anything or anyone on the internet.

Every atheist will meet God face to face.

And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?
If you disagree with atheists, that's fine.

But telling atheists what they believe? That's not beneficial to discussion.

Marian Perera
07-08-2015, 09:46 PM
There are occasional posters on AW who post their beliefs in a forceful manner as if they were fact, and then never, ever reply to any challenge of those opinions.

This applies not only to religious ideas, but to politics and writing as well. They have not the slightest interest in participating in a discussion about anything; they are desirous only of having a platform to express their own immutable beliefs.

Of course. I understand now. Thanks for setting me straight, rugcat. :)

It reminds me of when I went to college and had to pass by the street preachers who held Bibles and screamed at any girls who were wearing pants. The preachers were so strident and clearly uninterested in doing anything but hectoring us that I don't think they saved anyone, but perhaps their performance made them feel a little better.

thethinker42
07-08-2015, 09:54 PM
And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?

A good friend of mine narrowly escaped a rocket that killed two of his buddies. Then he and the rest of his unit took fire for what he describes as "too fucking long."

He was an atheist before, an atheist during, and remains an atheist today. The only difference is he has two fewer friends, 20% hearing loss, a scar he doesn't like talking about, and serious PTSD.

There are atheists in foxholes. There are atheists on AW. There are atheists everywhere, and I assure you, many of us have thought it through. I for one fought it for a long time before I realized that no matter how much I wanted it to be untrue, there are no gods.

But go ahead and maintain your ideas about what we believe. You're wrong, but who am I to tell you you're wrong about MY beliefs?

Roxxsmom
07-08-2015, 10:02 PM
I don't believe that Duck Dynasty exists. How could a bunch of guys who don't follow their own holy scriptures be so pedantic and narrow about what those scriptures actually say, and why would anyone give such ignoramuses a platform? And why would anyone watch a show with a bunch of guys who look like ZZ top and aren't even remotely as entertaining?

As for the atheists in foxholes thing, seeing a friend's head explode would pretty much purge me of any lingering belief I might have in a benevolent, caring god.

There is at least one foxhole graduate who is also an atheist.

http://americanhumanist.org/humanism/I_Was_an_Atheist_in_a_Foxhole

The great thing about telling someone else what they believe, though, is that your assertion is completely and utterly non-falsifiable. There is nothing they can say that will convince you that they aren't lying, or deluded. So you can keep making the same argument over and over again, and no matter how many times people tell you that their experiences have been different from yours, you can clamp your hands over your ears, say, "Lalalala," and refuse to acknowledge it.

Dennis E. Taylor
07-08-2015, 10:05 PM
This brings to mind the comments I made before, in another thread. If you bring it up for discussion...

Sadly, this is too often the "argument" that theists use. Simply assert something again and again and again, with no proof, no logical argument, until your opponents give up in disgust, then declare victory.

James, if your definition of "victory" is that low, go for it. Myself, I prefer actually winning arguments by persuasion, but hey, YMMV.

veinglory
07-08-2015, 10:05 PM
If you cannot respect the atheist identity, do not comment in this subforum. This is a longstanding rule of the subforum.

asroc
07-08-2015, 10:11 PM
And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?

Assuming this isn't a satirical post, there's, for example, my father and my husband. Also these fine people. (http://militaryatheists.org/atheists-in-foxholes/) And while it wasn't in a foxhole, I've crouched next to people, including children, torn apart by explosions, car accidents, gun shots, structure fires, and never once has my atheism wavered for one second. At this point I feel it's pretty safe to say it's permanent.

Viridian
07-08-2015, 10:18 PM
I've never understood the "there are no atheists in foxholes" argument.

I mean, what is it supposed to prove? When people are in a calm and rational, they choose atheism, but when they're afraid, they believe in God? People who experience trauma often find comfort in religion? People near death like the idea of an afterlife?

Honestly, it sounds like an argument against religion, not for it.

Introversion
07-08-2015, 10:21 PM
God exists, and this is not my belief

Sure it is. If it were fact, not belief, we'd have hard verifiable evidence, not scriptures and myths.

The only difference between atheists and Christians (or Mormons, or Muslims) is the former believes in one fewer gods than the latter.

Marian Perera
07-08-2015, 10:21 PM
People who experience trauma often find comfort in religion? I have no idea.

Yeah, isn't it usually the other way around? As in: the stereotypical atheist is someone who suffered a shattering loss, at which point he dropped to his knees, screamed "NOOOOOO!" at the uncaring sky, and was a non-believer from that moment on.

Viridian
07-08-2015, 10:30 PM
Yeah, isn't it usually the other way around? As in: the stereotypical atheist is someone who suffered a shattering loss, at which point he dropped to his knees, screamed "NOOOOOO!" at the uncaring sky, and was a non-believer from that moment on.
Huh! I never considered that. Funny how stereotypes so often contradict each other.

thethinker42
07-08-2015, 10:32 PM
I've never understood the "there are no atheists in foxholes" argument.

I mean, what is it supposed to prove? When people are in a calm and rational, they choose atheism, but when they're afraid, they believe in God? People who experience trauma often find comfort in religion? People near death like the idea of an afterlife?

Honestly, it sounds like an argument against religion, not for it.

It's the idea that if an atheist is scared enough, they'll pray because they knew all along that God is real, and will admit it now that they're desperate.

Nonsense, of course, but persistent nonsense.

RichardGarfinkle
07-09-2015, 12:06 AM
The no atheists in foxholes myth betrays a common human error: universalizing an individual's reaction. Where one person will find religion, another will lose it, one will have pre-existing religion confirmed, another will see confirmation that religion is useless for them. Many people are curiously unwilling to accept that there is no single possible response to a situation.

It's even harder for people to accept that this is a good thing. I tend to look at the varieties of human ways of thought as a form of biodiversity. Humanity overall benefits from different people approaching and reacting to the same situation in different ways and sharing person to person their experiences therein.

Roxxsmom
07-09-2015, 12:19 AM
While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, the general process, when you're trying to use rationality to provide evidence for something, is that the one who claims something exists is the one who is expected to provide evidence. Non falsifiable statements don't fly if you're trying to get everyone else to accept your hypothesis.

And the more extraordinary the claim, the more extraordinary the evidence you will need to convince others of your position.

This is how it works with science and the empirical world, of course. Religion and statements about the nature and existence of supernatural beings are another matter, and that's fine. But that's why we call it a belief. That's why people don't all agree about which ones, if any, are real and true. And that's why we have to agree to disagree and give each other the benefit of the doubt about the sincerity of our belief (or non belief).

DancingMaenid
07-09-2015, 07:28 AM
Yeah, isn't it usually the other way around? As in: the stereotypical atheist is someone who suffered a shattering loss, at which point he dropped to his knees, screamed "NOOOOOO!" at the uncaring sky, and was a non-believer from that moment on.

I've seen that a lot, too. I think stereotypes on both extremes (atheists finding religion in dire circumstances and atheists becoming nonbelievers after suffering a loss) are huge oversimplifications of real human emotion and reaction. There seems to be a prevalent idea that the beliefs of atheists and agnostics are built on very shaky ground, which is rather insulting. It's an idea that assumes that theism (often Christianity in particular) is obviously correct, so anyone who feels differently must not have thought too carefully about it.

I attribute my loss/change of faith to my father's death, but it wasn't a dramatic rejection, and I wasn't angry at God. It was a process over a few years where I started to evaluate my faith more and realized, in the light of what I had experienced, that my old beliefs didn't make sense to me anymore and that my faith had not been as sincere or well-thought-out as I had thought. It was a gradual process that involved a lot of soul-searching and thought.

CassandraW
07-09-2015, 07:31 AM
Atheists may exist, but this much I know. Every case of atheism is temporary. Atheists all make the same mistake of thinking they believe one thing, and Christians believe another. This is thoughtless, and not the case at all. God exists, and this is not my belief, and more than the fact that the computer I'm using is not a belief. God is as solid, as real, as present, as this computer. Considerably more real and solid than anything or anyone on the internet.

Every atheist will meet God face to face.

And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?

Are you for real with this?

Tazlima
07-09-2015, 07:46 AM
I've never understood the "there are no atheists in foxholes" argument.

I mean, what is it supposed to prove? When people are in a calm and rational, they choose atheism, but when they're afraid, they believe in God? ...

Honestly, it sounds like an argument against religion, not for it.

I never thought about it, but that's a good point.

Also, I now have an infomercial-type voice in my mind staying: "Stuck in a terrifying situation? Looking for a straw to grasp at? Try God! He's better than nothing."

Albedo
07-09-2015, 07:48 AM
Are you for real with this?
Yeah, I'ma go with Rugcat's assessment on that.

CassandraW
07-09-2015, 07:48 AM
I kind of want a "try god! He's better than nothing!" t-shirt.

CassandraW
07-09-2015, 07:49 AM
Yeah, im'a go with Rugcat's assessment on that.

Yeah, I think rugcat called it. Still, I am boggled.

Treehouseman
07-09-2015, 07:56 AM
After several years of trying, I was having trouble getting pregnant and had been diagnosed with infertility.

"There's no atheists in foxholes!" said my friend, who proceeded to unwrap with great solemnity a Polynesian Fertility Idol with a very large wooden penis.

I was pregnant within 2 weeks.

He gave the Idol to another older woman who was also infertile, same thing (you had to keep the Idol wrapped up,) he said (too powerful).

I am still an atheist. Mind you, if God looks like the Polynesian Fertility Idol, that will also be worth the surprise.

(This is a true story. I am not making anything up.)

frimble3
07-09-2015, 08:32 AM
I never thought about it, but that's a good point.

Also, I now have an infomercial-type voice in my mind staying: "Stuck in a terrifying situation? Looking for a straw to grasp at? Try God! He's better than nothing."
And a mighty short straw at that.
It provides a really nasty answer to questions like: 'Why does God let bad things happen?' and 'How could God let an innocent person suffer like that?'
God makes terrifying situations, and causes extreme pain, physical and mental, in order to get converts. Simple, isn't it.
It's as though God looked at various marketing tactics: benevolence, authoritatianism, big prizes, and decided that, yeah, terrorism was the most effective way to proceed.
I may be damned for not bowing down to a god like that, but I'll be damned if I'm bowing down to a god like that.

*Fortunately, I don't (and never did, as far as I can recall) believe in God or gods, so I have no conflict or turmoil about this. Although my last thought may be 'Oops'.

Marian Perera
07-09-2015, 09:14 AM
It's as though God looked at various marketing tactics: benevolence, authoritatianism, big prizes, and decided that, yeah, terrorism was the most effective way to proceed.
I may be damned for not bowing down to a god like that, but I'll be damned if I'm bowing down to a god like that.

This is the reason why "Atheists will come face to face with God one day" fails to have any effect on me.

Right now I believe Pol Pot existed. I also believe he was a vicious, despicable person.

If, in the future, I'm presented with incontrovertible proof that an omnipotent god exists, I will believe he exists. Likewise, I will also believe he's a vicious, despicable person. So how is this at all a victory for that god or its supporters?

It's like that god is similar to the one in the Terry Pratchett book - he's not all-powerful until everyone believes in him, therefore atheists cannot exist.

rugcat
07-09-2015, 09:50 AM
To be fair, there are more ways than one experiencing what truth is and what things are "real."

We in the Western world especially put a premium on the scientific method evidence gained from experimentation that is repeatable. Along with conclusions that arrive from unassailable logic without contradictions or gaps.

But this type of knowledge is not applicable when dealing with religious or mystical truths. Whether you call it experiencing God, or having a mystical revelation where you are one with the universe, it is a type of knowledge that is qualitatively different than what we usually experience. It's something that can be hyper-real -- such a perception of reality that is so strong and overwhelming that the normal reality of man-made logic and experimentation fade into the significance beside it.

For those who experience God in this fashion, no amount of logical contradiction will resonate or convince one to deny the experience. Once you personally experience the divine, you know that it is real, know it with a depth of certainty that makes it easy to conclude that those who have never seen it are simply unaware of its reality.

This type of spiritual experience has nothing to do with the rantings of a preacher on the corner. But I think we tend to be a bit too quick to denigrate this type of knowledge as inferior or less worthwhile then what we have come to commonly accept as "knowledge."

From the beginning of recorded history, and probably even further back, individuals have experienced states of higher consciousness and mystical experiences from which they have gained great insight.

"The universe is not only queerer than we imagine,it is queerer than we can imagine."
-- JBS Haldane

I know that all life on this planet is one trees and horseshoe crabs and people and bacteria are merely the various manifestations that have developed from primal life. Or as Lauren Eisley puts it, if you go far enough back in time you will reach a place where cat and man and weasel leap into a single shape.

I believe this to be true from the scientific record and the power of the theory of evolution.

But I know it in a deeper and to me more meaningful way, because I've "seen" it. It is a different way of knowing things, but does not lack its own form of validity.

DancingMaenid
07-09-2015, 11:00 AM
This is the reason why "Atheists will come face to face with God one day" fails to have any effect on me.

Right now I believe Pol Pot existed. I also believe he was a vicious, despicable person.

If, in the future, I'm presented with incontrovertible proof that an omnipotent god exists, I will believe he exists. Likewise, I will also believe he's a vicious, despicable person. So how is this at all a victory for that god or its supporters?

I feel similarly. I can conceive of the possibility that there's a good god. But the type of god that some people believe in (a god that will punish anyone who doesn't believe the "right" thing and who bestows favors only on those who please it) is not the type of deity I would want to worship. The way I figure it, if the Christian God exists, or if Jesus really was the Messiah, neither of them are likely to care or be offended that I had doubts and followed my own instincts and conscience when it comes to faith. I don't want to worship a higher power that cares so much about people having blind faith.

Max Vaehling
07-09-2015, 01:28 PM
God exists, and this is not my belief, and more than the fact that the computer I'm using is not a belief. God is as solid, as real, as present, as this computer. Considerably more real and solid than anything or anyone on the internet.

Every atheist will meet God face to face.

Or maybe we'll all meet your computer.

But this is not a thread about the non-existence of God (or your computer), it's about the nonexistence of us Atheists. Which actually is a falsifiable claim. All you need is one atheist. Or an atheist in a foxhole. Which still should be easier to present than God.

Dennis E. Taylor
07-09-2015, 07:03 PM
But I think we tend to be a bit too quick to denigrate this type of knowledge as inferior or less worthwhile then what we have come to commonly accept as "knowledge."


While we're being fair, the types of "denigration" that happen in situations like this thread right now, happen because a theist has climbed up on the soapbox, made one or more imperative statements (often involving threats of hellfire if you don't get with the program) based on nothing but their own belief. As I keep saying, when you bring your beliefs into an argument, you make them fair game. When you do so in a way that is so blatantly fallacious, you kind of have to expect a shitstorm of rebuttal.

TL;DR version: theists often bring about this situation by demanding that we take their word for it, not only in complete absence of proof, but in the face of pervasive proof to the contrary.

Amadan
07-09-2015, 07:18 PM
And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?


Have you? Don't front like you're a hard man if you can't back it up.

"No atheists in foxholes" has been disproven many times. Probably as many men came home from war having lost their faith in God as having turned to him in terror.

Ravioli
07-09-2015, 07:55 PM
It's not their fault they were too slippery to get caught by those coat hangers.

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 12:08 AM
If atheists don't exist, does that mean ya'll are spooky ghosts?

Ahhh! Ghosts!

Wait... do ghosts exist?

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 12:09 AM
Yeah, isn't it usually the other way around? As in: the stereotypical atheist is someone who suffered a shattering loss, at which point he dropped to his knees, screamed "NOOOOOO!" at the uncaring sky, and was a non-believer from that moment on.

No, you're thinking of Darth Vader.

Maryn
07-10-2015, 01:10 AM
I'm a ghost. Yeah, that's the ticket!

Dennis E. Taylor
07-10-2015, 02:03 AM
Does this mean I don't have to pay my mortgage any more?

Ravioli
07-10-2015, 02:16 AM
Does this mean I don't have to pay my mortgage any more?
With your nonexistence, you'll lose the house though... Non-existing people have no right to property...

Tazlima
07-10-2015, 03:37 AM
With your nonexistence, you'll lose the house though... Non-existing people have no right to property...

Yeah, but they're a bugger to evict.

Ghosts...the ultimate squatters.

shakeysix
07-10-2015, 04:03 AM
If god is a computer then satan must be a virus? But, no, a virus is robotic, satan has to be a troll because a troll has free will. Whoa, this too deep for me. I do exist though, and although I am an atheist Ido believe in ghosts. Makes sense to me. Don't try to reason with me and I won't try to reason with you. I'll respect whatever you believe because I am no troll.--s6

JimmyB27
07-10-2015, 12:38 PM
To be fair, there are more ways than one experiencing what truth is and what things are "real."

We in the Western world especially put a premium on the scientific method evidence gained from experimentation that is repeatable. Along with conclusions that arrive from unassailable logic without contradictions or gaps.
Well, yeah, because it demonstrably works.

But this type of knowledge is not applicable when dealing with religious or mystical truths. Why not? Whether you call it experiencing God, or having a mystical revelation where you are one with the universe, it is a type of knowledge that is qualitatively different than what we usually experience. Qualitatively different is one way of putting it, I suppose... It's something that can be hyper-real -- such a perception of reality that is so strong and overwhelming that the normal reality of man-made logic and experimentation fade into the significance beside it. It may feel real to the one person experiencing it, but what goes on in one person's head has no bearing on actual reality.

For those who experience God in this fashion, no amount of logical contradiction will resonate or convince one to deny the experience. Once you personally experience the divine, you know that it is real, know it with a depth of certainty that makes it easy to conclude that those who have never seen it are simply unaware of its reality. It may feel real to the one person experiencing it, but what goes on in one person's head has no bearing on actual reality.

If all this spiritual 'truth' is just as real as the knowledge we gain from scientific enquiry, why are there so many versions of it? A person can tell me they've had a special revelation all they want, but if I ask them to show it to me, all I get is something like JAR's "I just know it, alright?" or Ken Ham's "I've got this book". I ask a scientist to show me his discovery and I'll get something like "Sure, it we found out that x, y and z are true, and here's how we proved it, and here are the papers by Tom, Dick and Harry confirming our findings. Incidentally, I can also show you some evidence that if you have this illness over here and you apply the knowledge we discovered, your chances of survival go from 1/10 to 9/10".

But don't listen to me, I don't exist. ;)

JimmyB27
07-10-2015, 12:42 PM
If god is a computer then satan must be a virus? But, no, a virus is robotic, satan has to be a troll because a troll has free will. Whoa, this too deep for me. I do exist though, and although I am an atheist Ido believe in ghosts. Makes sense to me. Don't try to reason with me and I won't try to reason with you. I'll respect whatever you believe because I am no troll.--s6
Free will is an illusion. ;)

shakeysix
07-10-2015, 05:43 PM
Trolls are the Iagos of the internet--s6

Amadan
07-10-2015, 06:11 PM
If all this spiritual 'truth' is just as real as the knowledge we gain from scientific enquiry, why are there so many versions of it? A person can tell me they've had a special revelation all they want, but if I ask them to show it to me, all I get is something like JAR's "I just know it, alright?" or Ken Ham's "I've got this book". I ask a scientist to show me his discovery and I'll get something like "Sure, it we found out that x, y and z are true, and here's how we proved it, and here are the papers by Tom, Dick and Harry confirming our findings. Incidentally, I can also show you some evidence that if you have this illness over here and you apply the knowledge we discovered, your chances of survival go from 1/10 to 9/10".



I agree. I hate the argument that "spiritual truth is just another kind of truth." No. Objective reality exists. Our tools and perceptions may be inadequate, so maybe someone has had some sort of "divine experience" that exposed them to a reality that others cannot perceive, but if that's the case, it is functionally the same as if they are hallucinating, since if it cannot be experienced or perceived by any other means than some supernatural force using magic to bestow it on you, then it does not exist for anyone who hasn't had that experience.

RichardGarfinkle
07-10-2015, 06:30 PM
I agree. I hate the argument that "spiritual truth is just another kind of truth." No. Objective reality exists. Our tools and perceptions may be inadequate, so maybe someone has had some sort of "divine experience" that exposed them to a reality that others cannot perceive, but if that's the case, it is functionally the same as if they are hallucinating, since if it cannot be experienced or perceived by any other means than some supernatural force using magic to bestow it on you, then it does not exist for anyone who hasn't had that experience.

I don't tend to hold to the idea of spiritual truth. I do hold with spiritual practice. There are mental and physical disciplines that various religions have developed over time that are useful regardless of whether or not one adheres to the religion. To me that's the major benefit of religious diversity: people digging deep into their own minds to try to get a grip on what is happening and to use it better.

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 09:29 PM
If all this spiritual 'truth' is just as real as the knowledge we gain from scientific enquiry, why are there so many versions of it?

Why should there only be one version of the truth?

It makes sense to me that each person's experience of reality is true, and therefore a legitimate version of the truth.

But simply because something is true for me, that does not mean it must be true for you, too.

Amadan
07-10-2015, 09:51 PM
Why should there only be one version of the truth?


If you believe in objective reality, then this is tautological. If you don't, then sure, it's possible that everyone lives in their own universe.

Ravioli
07-10-2015, 09:51 PM
To be honest, I did lose my faith in God when he left me to beg, scream, and cry over my dying kitten when I was 17, and did nothing other than let his suffering continue for another hour after he'd let him suffer an incurable disease for most of his life, when he could've just let us find a vet who'd find out early on that there is no hope and the poor thing, born in my closet, can be spared another half year of suffering and being too weak to play and explore with his siblings.

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 10:00 PM
If you believe in objective reality, then this is tautological.

Why can't I believe in both an objective, scientific world and a spirit world?

Why does it have to be either-or?

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 10:02 PM
Trolls are the Iagos of the internet--s6

I love Iago.

Dennis E. Taylor
07-10-2015, 10:07 PM
Why can't I believe in both an objective, scientific world and a spirit world?

Why does it have to be either-or?

You can. The problem is the loosy-goosey use of the word "truth" to apply to both areas in the same way. Science is by nature objective, based on provable/falsifiable theories and testable/reproducible results. Spirituality is about personal, internal events and states. No one is saying you can't have both. The problem arises when someone tries to present an internal spiritual state as being "real" in the same way that gravity is real. Gravity will smack you to the ground whether you believe in it or not. But despite any number of atheists double-damn-daring God to smite them for their unbelief, nada.

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 10:11 PM
You can. The problem is the loosy-goosey use of the word "truth" to apply to both areas in the same way. Science is by nature objective, based on provable/falsifiable theories and testable/reproducible results. Spirituality is about personal, internal events and states. No one is saying you can't have both. The problem arises when someone tries to present an internal spiritual state as being "real" in the same way that gravity is real. Gravity will smack you to the ground whether you believe in it or not. But despite any number of atheists double-damn-daring God to smite them for their unbelief, nada.

And if I ever try to convert you to Zuni, then you can certainly use that argument against me. But I'm only describing what I believe. Not what I think anyone else should. I use "truth" for both, because it applies to both, for me, and because I expect people to respect that. I don't ask that they believe it themselves.

Though I disagree that spirituality is entirely about personal, internal events. Religion typically arises out of a communal need, after all, rather than a strictly personal one, and often deals with communal, external events as much as the internal ones.

Amadan
07-10-2015, 10:18 PM
Why can't I believe in both an objective, scientific world and a spirit world?

Why does it have to be either-or?


You can believe in anything you like. That doesn't make what you believe true.

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 10:44 PM
You can believe in anything you like. That doesn't make what you believe true.

It does. It just doesn't make it true for you.

Amadan
07-10-2015, 10:53 PM
It does. It just doesn't make it true for you.

If your beliefs are true, yes. This is also tautological. If I'm right, you're wrong.

shakeysix
07-10-2015, 10:57 PM
There is subjective truth and objective truth. I believe in ghosts because I have seen ghosts but I would never try to convince anyone of the existence of ghosts because it is a subjective truth, my truth based on personal experience. It is almost impossible to prove a subjective truth but it is also almost impossible to dissuade a person from a long held subjective truth. Dissing someone's cherished but subjective truth is, of course, the worst way to begin a persuasive argument. That atheists in foxholes rag always chaps my fanny--my subjective fanny, of course--s6

RichardGarfinkle
07-10-2015, 10:59 PM
You guys are having a semantic argument about what the true meaning of truth is. Any more recursion and this thread will spawn its own Julia Set. (https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julia_set)

Come on, how about coining some technical terminology so the discussion can be carried on.

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 11:02 PM
If your beliefs are true, yes. This is also tautological. If I'm right, you're wrong.

Conversely, if I'm right, then you can also be right. Ain't that neat?

Amadan
07-10-2015, 11:16 PM
Conversely, if I'm right, then you can also be right. Ain't that neat?

Nope. If you're right, I'm wrong.

I realize this is very epistemological and shit, and I admit I have very little patience for philosophizing about the nature of reality and truth. Believing in infinite truths and subjective reality and whatever is essentially harmless, and I'm not about to try to argue you into not believing, any more than I try to convince Christians to stop believing in God. But "My spirit world is real" differs from "God is real and boy are you atheists in for a surprise" only in tone.

Roxxsmom
07-10-2015, 11:22 PM
And if I ever try to convert you to Zuni, then you can certainly use that argument against me. But I'm only describing what I believe. Not what I think anyone else should. I use "truth" for both, because it applies to both, for me, and because I expect people to respect that. I don't ask that they believe it themselves.

This is exactly it, and what I tried to say up thread (obviously did a bad job of it).

Objective truth, the kind we can arrive at with observation and experimentation, can be agreed upon. These are the basis of science, both theoretical and applied.

Spiritual truths are personal and non falsifiable. Therefore we can't expect others to agree about them and should allow each their own there. Problems arise when someone insists that their spiritual truth is objectively true and expects everyone else to follow it.

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 11:24 PM
Nope. If you're right, I'm wrong.

I realize this is very epistemological and shit, and I admit I have very little patience for philosophizing about the nature of reality and truth. Believing in infinite truths and subjective reality and whatever is essentially harmless, and I'm not about to try to argue you into not believing, any more than I try to convince Christians to stop believing in God. But "My spirit world is real" differs from "God is real and boy are you atheists in for a surprise" only in tone.

We'll have to agree to disagree. I've made my peace by believing everyone else is also right. You've made yours by deciding everyone else is wrong.

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 11:25 PM
Spiritual truths are personal and non falsifiable. Therefore we can't expect others to agree about them and should allow each their own there. Problems arise when someone insists that their spiritual truth is objectively true and expects everyone else to follow it.

I don't think spiritual truths are only personal. They can be communal.

Roxxsmom
07-10-2015, 11:27 PM
I don't think spiritual truths are only personal. They can be communal.

Right, if the consent is mutual. It can be hard, though, to be a member of a community that is defined by its spiritual beliefs when you don't share the same.

Maybe I should rephrase: Problems arise when a community that shares a spiritual truth by their mutual consent insists that others, both individuals and communities, accept the same.

Diana Hignutt
07-10-2015, 11:28 PM
Atheists may exist, but this much I know. Every case of atheism is temporary. Atheists all make the same mistake of thinking they believe one thing, and Christians believe another. This is thoughtless, and not the case at all. God exists, and this is not my belief, and more than the fact that the computer I'm using is not a belief. God is as solid, as real, as present, as this computer. Considerably more real and solid than anything or anyone on the internet.

Every atheist will meet God face to face.

And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?

WTF? Okay, if God is a fact, and is all-powerful, it shouldn't be any problem for you to have him pop by this thread and prove it.

Amadan
07-10-2015, 11:29 PM
We'll have to agree to disagree. I've made my peace by believing everyone else is also right. You've made yours by deciding everyone else is wrong.

I don't think everyone else is wrong.

So, you believe the monotheists who believe you're going to go to hell for not worshiping their god are also right?

RichardGarfinkle
07-10-2015, 11:30 PM
I don't think spiritual truths are only personal. They can be communal.

This is one of those interesting fuzzy areas. A spiritual idea can be shared as can a spiritual story or practice and multiple people can take part in the same ritual or event. But each person's experience of those things is subjective and personal. So is the spiritual truth shared or is it multiple individual spiritual understandings?

kuwisdelu
07-10-2015, 11:58 PM
I don't think everyone else is wrong.

So, you believe the monotheists who believe you're going to go to hell for not worshiping their god are also right?

Well, "everyone" was a rhetorical exaggeration. Sorry if that wasn't understood.

I do think some believers of some religions have interpreted their religion more appropriately than others.

I could expand on my beliefs regarding the truth if other religions, but I'm not sure if you'd actually care or if you're just interested in rhetorical gotchas.


This is one of those interesting fuzzy areas. A spiritual idea can be shared as can a spiritual story or practice and multiple people can take part in the same ritual or event. But each person's experience of those things is subjective and personal. So is the spiritual truth shared or is it multiple individual spiritual understandings?

I think it's shared as much as any experience can be shared. So the question is really to what extent can any experience be communal or shared, regardless of whether it's spiritual in nature or not.

RichardGarfinkle
07-11-2015, 12:11 AM
Well, "everyone" was a rhetorical exaggeration. Sorry if that wasn't understood.

I do think some believers of some religions have interpreted their religion more appropriately than others.

I could expand on my beliefs regarding the truth if other religions, but I'm not sure if you'd actually care or if you're just interested in rhetorical gotchas.



I think it's shared as much as any experience can be shared. So the question is really to what extent can any experience be communal or shared, regardless of whether it's spiritual in nature or not.

And I think we have something of an answer to that. We know from everyday experience the diversity of views people have when they have read the samr book or seen the same movie or heard the same music. Subjective experience is highly personal. One person's ecstaric revelation is another's meh-who-cares is another's degrading pit of yuck.

Part of the tricky aspect of explicitly spiritual communal experiences is that there is a social pressure against saying either of the latter two opinions out loud. As a result spiritual communal experiences are rarely gven bad reviews. People who don't fit the communal view often suffer in silence, drift away or think that there must be something wrong with them.

kuwisdelu
07-11-2015, 12:42 AM
And I think we have something of an answer to that. We know from everyday experience the diversity of views people have when they have read the samr book or seen the same movie or heard the same music. Subjective experience is highly personal. One person's ecstaric revelation is another's meh-who-cares is another's degrading pit of yuck.

But once again, I have to protest against the idea that these sorts of things must be either-or, and not both-and.

I don't think an experience being personal and individual negates it from also being shared and communal.

RichardGarfinkle
07-11-2015, 01:06 AM
But once again, I have to protest against the idea that these sorts of things must be either-or, and not both-and.

I don't think an experience being personal and individual negates it from also being shared and communal.

But what do you mean by communal at this point? I pointed out that what we know about communal experience is that it produces divided audiences. Some will get something from it, some will not, some will suffer from it.

Furthermore, I think that you are using a less beneficial version of communal experience. I've been thinking about this since it's part of my new WIP. I would argue that what makes a communal experience really communal is the sharing of individual experiences. People talking about something bring far more perspectives and ways of thought to a subject than a single shared POV.

So I would argue that something that is directly communal (i.e. all involved experience the same thing in the same way) is not as useful as something that is indirectly communal (that is each person has their own perspective on and understanding of the experience and discusses it with the others perhaps offering ideas and ways of seeing that they did not have).

But the latter is not something separate from the individual experiences, it is built out of it the way the playing of a symphony is built out of the shared playing of instruments.

kuwisdelu
07-11-2015, 01:29 AM
But what do you mean by communal at this point? I pointed out that what we know about communal experience is that it produces divided audiences. Some will get something from it, some will not, some will suffer from it.

Furthermore, I think that you are using a less beneficial version of communal experience. I've been thinking about this since it's part of my new WIP. I would argue that what makes a communal experience really communal is the sharing of individual experiences. People talking about something bring far more perspectives and ways of thought to a subject than a single shared POV.

So I would argue that something that is directly communal (i.e. all involved experience the same thing in the same way) is not as useful as something that is indirectly communal (that is each person has their own perspective on and understanding of the experience and discusses it with the others perhaps offering ideas and ways of seeing that they did not have).

But the latter is not something separate from the individual experiences, it is built out of it the way the playing of a symphony is built out of the shared playing of instruments.

I think part of the disconnect may be between the role of religious ceremony and ritual in my culture and in yours.

In Zuni, religious rituals, ceremonies, and dances are not really things we discuss, talk about, or interpret. Disregarding their literal religious purposes for a moment (bringing rain, seeds, good harvest, a new year, etc.), they're primarily a means of bringing us together as a community, and connecting us with our ancestors. The kachina dancers are themselves incarnations of our ancestors.

In many ways, it's the antithesis of a collection of individual experiences. The true meaning arises from its purpose as a communal experience.

We have very few — if any — rituals or practices that can be truly done in isolation, away from the village and the people. They must be communal experiences, and are in fact tied to the land as well, and the land itself is part of that community. This is a very difficult idea to get across to many Westerners who are often used to being able to practice their religious events almost anywhere. That is impossible for us.

So for us, meaning arises from the community, not the individual.

RichardGarfinkle
07-11-2015, 01:39 AM
Nothing wrong with that. I'm aware of communal experiences (they don't work for me, but I'm aware of them). You can and (it sounds like) have offered the opinion that communal experience exists as something that is not an aggregate of individual experience. Unfortunately, you may be talking to the wrong audience since this is the Atheism forum.

If you want to start a thread about this in Comparative Religion, go ahead.

kuwisdelu
07-11-2015, 01:43 AM
Nothing wrong with that. I'm aware of communal experiences (they don't work for me, but I'm aware of them). You can and (it sounds like) have offered the opinion that communal experience exists as something that is not an aggregate of individual experience. Unfortunately, you may be talking to the wrong audience since this is the Atheism forum.

If you want to start a thread about this in Comparative Religion, go ahead.

I only elaborated because you asked.

I only pointed it out in the first place, because some posters characterized spiritual truths as being personal and individual, which I think is an unnecessarily limiting definition.

That being said, I don't think this only applies to spiritual experiences. I've reacted to secular experiences the same way, too, so I don't think this is a strictly theist/non-theist thing at all.

For example, I only really enjoy watching sports as a communal experience.

RichardGarfinkle
07-11-2015, 01:50 AM
I only elaborated because you asked.

I only pointed it out in the first place, because some posters characterized spiritual truths as being personal and individual, which I think is an unnecessarily limiting definition.

That being said, I don't think this only applies to spiritual experiences. I've reacted to secular experiences the same way, too, so I don't think this is a strictly theist/non-theist thing at all.

For example, I only really enjoy watching sports as a communal experience.

There are clearly people who enjoy things more with other people around them. The question of whether that is anything but the human experience of sharing is hard to say. I, personally, can't stand crowds (as in they make me claustrophobic) and I've nearly always found them enervating. I think that this is a matter of personal variation. Some people get a lot out of communal experiences, some don't. I don't know if that has anything to it beyond yet another subjective experience.

kuwisdelu
07-11-2015, 01:53 AM
There are clearly people who enjoy things more with other people around them. The question of whether that is anything but the human experience of sharing is hard to say. I, personally, can't stand crowds (as in they make me claustrophobic) and I've nearly always found them enervating. I think that this is a matter of personal variation. Some people get a lot out of communal experiences, some don't. I don't know if that has anything to it beyond yet another subjective experience.

I hate crowds, too. I'm okay with friends and family.

Roxxsmom
07-11-2015, 02:20 AM
For example, I only really enjoy watching sports as a communal experience.

That's an interesting analogy, and I actually share this for the most part, at least regards to the popular team sports that are part of the collective US culture (as much as anything is). I do enjoy watching horse sports, dog agility, and fencing on my own, however (these are sports I've actually done with some seriousness, so that might be part of the reason). But football is something I only enjoy if I go to a game with friends.

I'm sort of fermenting an idea about the importance of collective spiritual experiences in different cultures, though I'm afraid of framing it in a way that's problematic.

I'm wondering if the increasing importance of individual spiritual/cultural experiences in western European-derived cultures (instead of community-level ritual) might be a consequence of the fact that "white people" have been culturally dominant for so long. Our norms and rituals are so pervasive and widespread that we don't tend to think of any particular activity as central to it (or in danger of dying out if it's not preserved at the level of an entire community). We have the luxury of not thinking about our culture if we don't want to, because we take it so for granted.

In this sense, being completely non religious is a luxury we have because we don't have any anxiety about the history (and secularized rituals) associated with our culture's dominant religion disappearing. Not dissing non theism, as I mostly identify with that world view myself (I consider myself a secular humanist). But my ability to be such might be a consequence of my own membership in a privileged group and as a way of asserting my individuality in the face of its rather pervasive culture.

Max Vaehling
07-11-2015, 02:32 PM
Why should there only be one version of the truth?

It makes sense to me that each person's experience of reality is true, and therefore a legitimate version of the truth.

I tried that line of reasoning with Christians, esoterics and materialists. Didn't fly. Coming from social constructivism myself, I see revealed truths as very relative claims that are completely meaningless and inconsequential to anybody who's not in on the revelation. More relative viewpoints than objective facts. (And that's what I call them: Vewpoints. Opinions. Ideologies. Quirks. Traditions.) If there is such a thing as a communal truth that deserves that name (by virtue of being objective, which in sociological terms means something like "accepted as true across perspectives or ideologies"), it's both a framework for and a result of communication, education and communal re-assertion. And it changes with every generation because every generation brings new perspectives to the game.

But True Believers can't accept that because the whole idea and claim of "The Truth" is that it transcends individuality and relativism and that what is revealed to be true can't be not true for anybody, or it wouldn't truly be true, just ... sort of right-ish? It's like the boy says in The Incredibles: If everybody's special, then nobody is. It's why it's referred to as "The Truth", not "a truth".

You can have your own beliefs and traditions and not expect anybody to follow you there. Most superstitions seem work that way - I know a lot of people who maintain their fear of walking under ladders or of Friday 13th but admit that it's ridiculous and would never expect everybody to avoid ladders or claim there's a natural law that makes Friday 13th doomsday. But once you've seen any revelation as The Truth, it gets difficult to look around.

frimble3
07-12-2015, 12:21 PM
I've reacted to secular experiences the same way, too, so I don't think this is a strictly theist/non-theist thing at all.

For example, I only really enjoy watching sports as a communal experience.
I've heard similar about live music, as well. People swear to me that a live concert is infinitely more rewarding than listening to a recording on one's own. Something about 'electricity' and 'vibe', the crowd generating energy, which feeds the band, which gives it back to the crowd, etc.
I couldn't say.
But, I can see that with a good preacher/speaker, a church service could do similar.

I couldn't say. (About either.)

Amadan
07-12-2015, 07:21 PM
In this sense, being completely non religious is a luxury we have because we don't have any anxiety about the history (and secularized rituals) associated with our culture's dominant religion disappearing. Not dissing non theism, as I mostly identify with that world view myself (I consider myself a secular humanist). But my ability to be such might be a consequence of my own membership in a privileged group and as a way of asserting my individuality in the face of its rather pervasive culture.

Are you actually arguing that being an atheist is an assertion of white privilege?

RichardGarfinkle
07-12-2015, 08:08 PM
I have to second Amadan's question.

I'd also like to point out the fact that not everyone thinks alike and that some of us simply get nothing from collective experience. Whether it's religious, sports, music, or theater my experience is always purely personal. Being part of a crowd never adds to things for me. At best it's neutral, most of the time being with others for experiences is a drawback. The only shared experiences that work for me are the multi-sided, multi-perspective, mutualistic ones (like love), not the everyone going through the same thing together ones.

Not everyone thinks alike, and mental differences don't all have cultural explanations. Human minds are diverse and we're better as a species for that.

kuwisdelu
07-12-2015, 11:15 PM
Are you actually arguing that being an atheist is an assertion of white privilege?

You can't be privileged if you don't exist.

...can you?

Amadan
07-13-2015, 12:33 AM
What?

buz
07-13-2015, 12:39 AM
Look, people who don't exist are way more privileged than people who exist.

People who don't exist are exempt from violence, debt, poverty, shopping carts with wheels that are stuck and won't turn properly, Chagas disease, unemployment, kuru, anxiety disorders, losing their socks, creeping eruptions, cats urinating on the carpet, shark attacks, running out of graham crackers and chocolate before you run out of marshmallows and thus being left with a bunch of useless marshmallows, and all manner of other sufferings that come of existence.

Amadan
07-13-2015, 12:46 AM
I look forward to being accused of existential privilege.

Roxxsmom
07-13-2015, 12:52 AM
Are you actually arguing that being an atheist is an assertion of white privilege?

Not white privilege, necessarily, but maybe Christian (or Protestant) privilege? I was never baptized, and we didn't go to Church growing up, but my family history is very mainstream protestant--Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and so on. But we still celebrated Christmas, had egg hunts on Easter, said a Pledge of Allegiance in school with an "under God" in it where the "god" mentioned is widely understood to be the Biblical one, and all the official holidays meshed with the ones my family celebrated. And the alternatives to Evolution still being proposed for our public schools, and the national-level objections to feminism, LGBT rights, abortion, contraceptive coverage for workers and so on are nearly always Biblical in nature.

At some point, a person of European background might start thinking about what all this means and whether or not they believe in it. If they decide they don't, they might be a bit too removed from whatever ancestral religion Europeans practiced before Christianity, so non religion might feel like the best option.

If someone is not of European descent, however, that could factor in. Christianity is a religion that was introduced to people of Africa, Asia, Australia and The Americas by Europeans for the most part (at least initially), and it was done much more recently. Many converted voluntarily (and follow Christianity with great fervor--one of my cousins by marriage is half Navajo and she is an evangelical Christian who absolutely repudiates traditional Navajo beliefs), but in at least some cases, people didn't have a lot of choice about converting (or their parents or grandparents didn't). So it's hardly surprising that white privilege and Christian privilege might be intermingled.

So maybe a person who has decided not to practice society's default Christianity because they associate it with an external culture that came in and converted their people forcefully might be more likely to return to their traditional religion than they are to embrace atheism. And the communal practices will likely be meaningful on a different level than my decision to shrug and go to Church when we visit my MiL at Christmas time, because it's important to her, and anyway, Methodists have really nice Christmas music, and so far my skeptical and unbaptized butt hasn't left scorch marks on their pews.

Argh! I know this is disorganized and not very clear. I hope it's not stupidly "whitesplainy."

Robert Dawson
07-13-2015, 12:53 AM
God is as solid, as real, as present, as this computer. Considerably more real and solid than anything or anyone on the internet.

You keep using this word "solid". I do not think it means what you think it means. (Unless of course "omnipresent" doesn't mean what I think it means?)

Amadan
07-13-2015, 01:00 AM
Not white privilege, necessarily, but maybe Christian (or Protestant) privilege?

I disagree with you, strongly.

The ability to express one's atheism may indeed be privilege (I have no doubt that atheists exist in Muslim countries, but you don't hear about them for good reason). The ability to question one's upbringing and culture may also be privilege. But atheism, as a position arrived at through questioning and reason, is simply a truth statement (right or wrong).

Your formulation sounds very close to the way some Christians characterize atheism, as little more than a rebellious posture.

RichardGarfinkle
07-13-2015, 01:17 AM
Roxxsmom. I'm sorry, but you are being theistsplainy. You are assuming that atheism is a result of disaffection with the way people think, not itself a way people think. To explain atheism as a result of cultural change is to assume that it is not the natural way some of us see and live in the world.

We aren't cultural artifacts. We're people who simply do not think the way other people do. It is no more mysterious than that.

It is true that we are a lot more visible and audible than we used to be. But for many cultures and times, atheism was a crime, sometimes a capital crime.

But atheism is not a modern concept, nor a wholly European one. The Wikipedia article on this is tolerable as an introduction.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_atheism

asroc
07-13-2015, 01:23 AM
Not white privilege, necessarily, but maybe Christian (or Protestant) privilege? I was never baptized, and we didn't go to Church growing up, but my family history is very mainstream protestant--Episcopalians, Lutherans, Methodists and so on. But we still celebrated Christmas, had egg hunts on Easter, said a Pledge of Allegiance in school with an "under God" in it where the "god" mentioned is widely understood to be the Biblical one, and all the official holidays meshed with the ones my family celebrated. And the alternatives to Evolution still being proposed for our public schools, and the national-level objections to feminism, LGBT rights, abortion, contraceptive coverage for workers and so on are nearly always Biblical in nature.

At some point, a person of European background might start thinking about what all this means and whether or not they believe in it. If they decide they don't, they might be a bit too removed from whatever ancestral religion Europeans practiced before Christianity, so non religion might feel like the best option.

If someone is not of European descent, however, that will factor in. Christianity is a religion that was introduced to people of Africa, Asia, Australia and The Americas by Europeans for the most part (at least initially), and it was done much more recently. Many converted voluntarily (and follow Christianity with great fervor--one of my cousins is half Navajo and she is an evangelical Christian who absolutely repudiates traditional Navajo beliefs), but in at least some cases, people didn't have a lot of choice about converting (or their parents or grandparents didn't). So it's hardly surprising that white privilege and Christian privilege might be intermingled.

So maybe a person who has decided not to practice society's default Christianity because they associate it with an external culture that came in and converted their people forcefully might be more likely to return to their traditional religion than they are to embrace atheism. And the communal practices will likely be meaningful on a different level than my decision to shrug and go to Church when we visit my MiL at Christmas time, because it's important to her, and anyway, Methodists have really nice Christmas music, and so far my skeptical and unbaptized butt hasn't left scorch marks on their pews.

Argh! I know this is disorganized and not very clear. I hope it's not stupidly "whitesplainy."

I don't think I understand. Do you think that people who start questioning their current religion are likely to go back to whichever religion their ancestors practiced? Atheism isn't about dissatisfaction with Christianity, it's about whether or not you believe in God. Any god. The Christian God doesn't exist any more than whatever my ancestors worshiped before Saint Patrick came around exists. If you're an atheist, none of it is real. But that's a personal conclusion, reached on an individual level. Whether your ancestors became Christians a thousand years ago or a hundred years ago doesn't make a difference; it's you, in the here and now, realizing that you personally don't believe it. And I don't see why that thought process should be more difficult for someone not of European descent.

Roxxsmom
07-13-2015, 01:50 AM
Sorry if I mangled that. What I meant to say is that atheism can be something people choose when they're disaffected with their own religion and they don't see an appealing alternative, though this is certainly not always the case, and I know that atheism is a philosophy that goes back a long way and has cropped up in different cultures. But thinking on it, what I described might be more likely to lead to a more nebulous state of non theism than conscious atheism.

I failed to differentiate atheism as a philosophy from more generic state of being non religious, and I should have known better. The number of people who don't identify with a given religion, who don't derive satisfaction from engagement in a religious community, seems to be growing in the US, but I don't think the number of avowed atheists is. So I did a poor job of articulating my point.

I would be interested to know whether there are differences in the rates of either atheism or non affiliation in people from different cultural and racial backgrounds in the US and elsewhere. I know that non religion and atheism both correlate positively with socioeconomic status and education, but I've no idea if anyone's controlled for cultural and racial background as well.

I still wonder if it would be harder to doubt or deny the existence of a god or gods that you associate very strongly with your cultural identity in the here and now and with communal activities that you find pleasurable and meaningful.

RichardGarfinkle
07-13-2015, 02:06 AM
Your last question has at least one example. There are a number of people who are atheistic in view and Jewish in culture. The awareness of history, the carrying out of ritual activities and the cultural identity are not seen as incompatible with atheism and/or agnosticism. Not all Jews agree with this, but that applies to any issue the human mind could conceive of.

But more broadly I think you're missing one crucial factor: visibility of disaffection. We don't know how much disaffection has grown because we can't easily tell the difference between growth of disaffection and growth of willingness/safety of expressing disaffection.

There's also the fact that visibility of alternatives makes people less likely to think there's something wrong with them if they don't fit the religious norm.

People who find out that others who share their views and ways of thinking are people rather than demonic creatures spawned from Satan's lymphatic discharge may be more willing to accept themselves rather than try to force their minds into incomptible ways of thinking and/or bodily fluids.

Amadan
07-13-2015, 02:23 AM
I still wonder if it would be harder to doubt or deny the existence of a god or gods that you associate very strongly with your cultural identity in the here and now and with communal activities that you find pleasurable and meaningful.

I don't see how this would be different for Christians than for followers of any other religion. I think I see where you are coming from: you are only familiar with the sort of tepid white Protestantism that represents much of mainstream American religious practice. (I am from the same background, having grown up Methodist.) So you kind of see "white" religion as a bland social activity people engage in by default rather than out of conviction or pleasure or strong cultural identity. But that's certainly not the case for all Christians.

Roxxsmom
07-13-2015, 02:24 AM
And I'd guess that there are some people who go to Church and are members of congregations, even though they are atheists. Some may do it to keep the peace in their families, but others may feel like they get something out of the experience on a communal level. But while being Jewish is seen as a cultural identity or ethnicity as well as a religion in the US, being Christian isn't. Is that because Christians are in the majority in most western countries (and have had such a huge influence globally)? Or is it simply because Christianity itself is such a large and diverse religion that has been very evangelical historically, so it exists in so many flavors and has incorporated people from so many cultures, that it's impossible to point to a common denominator?

Conversely, I know some people who don't go to Church and never have. They don't say grace at meals, or wear crosses or read the Bible (or any other religious text) or engage in any rituals associated with any particular religion. They don't have any problems with unmarried sex, divorce, or other behaviors prohibited by many religions. But they believe in a being they identify as "God" and can be quite shocked if they discover that a friend of theirs is an atheist, and they get very angry if someone wants to remove "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance.


So you kind of see "white" religion as a bland social activity people engage in by default rather than out of conviction or pleasure or strong cultural identity. But that's certainly not the case for all Christians.

No it certainly isn't, and I wonder if this is the reason that people who belong to the less mainstream (at least until recently) versions of Christianity seem to be the ones who practice it most consciously. The members of my once non-religious family who "returned" to religion have joined rather evangelical churches, not traditional protestant ones.

Likewise, there are atheists who have deliberately left tight-knit religious communities to become very outspoken, even evangelical, as members of the skeptical community.

RichardGarfinkle
07-13-2015, 02:32 AM
For some people and some places in the US, Christian is part of cultural identity. There are places where "What church do you go to?" is a standard question in meeting new people. For many people whole social network is centered around their co-religionists. To leave the church is to leave the people.

Roxxsmom
07-13-2015, 02:41 AM
For some people and some places in the US, Christian is part of cultural identity. There are places where "What church do you go to?" is a standard question in meeting new people. For many people whole social network is centered around their co-religionists. To leave the church is to leave the people.

This is also very true. And one explanation for the rising number of the un-churched, if I remember correctly, is that technology gives people access to a wider range of communities and networks outside of religious communities, even in smaller towns and so on.

But again, I don't think anyone has refuted my assertion that for someone in my situation (upper middle class, educated, living most of my life in suburban and urban areas with a ton of recreational, cultural, and social opportunities, and having enough money to utilize them), the decision to be nebulously non religious could be an expression of a type of privilege that stems from that background.

RichardGarfinkle
07-13-2015, 02:48 AM
This is also very true. And one explanation for the rising number of the un-churched, if I remember correctly, is that technology gives people access to a wider range of communities and networks outside of religious communities, even in smaller towns and so on.

Which points toward the likelihood of there always having been people who did not belong in those churchs but stayed because they had no idea there were any other possible ways of living.

Amadan
07-13-2015, 02:59 AM
But again, I don't think anyone has refuted my assertion that for someone in my situation (upper middle class, educated, living most of my life in suburban and urban areas with a ton of recreational, cultural, and social opportunities, and having enough money to utilize them), the decision to be nebulously non religious could be an expression of a type of privilege that stems from that background.

For someone in your situation, the decision to be anything is a type of privilege, isn't it?

I really don't see how being an atheist is particularly an act of "privilege" unless it is, in fact, just a posture you adopt to express your uniqueness.

rugcat
07-13-2015, 03:25 AM
For some people and some places in the US, Christian is part of cultural identity. There are places where "What church do you go to?" is a standard question in meeting new people. For many people whole social network is centered around their co-religionists. To leave the church is to leave the people.This is particularly true in Utah with the LDS church. Being Mormon is a strong cultural identity, as much a way of life and social network as a religion. So many things revolve around the church from school on into later life, that leaving the church can be a traumatic experience even if one has lost one's faith or never had that much of it in the first place.

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 04:02 AM
I can kind of identify with what Roxxsmom is saying. When I was younger, I never gave much thought to religion, except thinking that evangelical Christians were very strange. When I lost touch with my heritage for a while as an undergraduate, I thought of myself as an agnostic. Now I consider myself Zuni.

I've heard some people say of themselves or their children to "choose the religion that makes sense to [them]" but I admit I have never really understood this. If I weren't Zuni, I could never choose a religion based on "what makes sense to me," whatever that means, and I'd probably have stayed agnostic, or even atheist.

I believe what I do now because it's in my bones and my blood. Sense and logic don't matter. I know it's what my ancestors believed, it's where they came from, so it's where I come from. I tend to assume the same of other religions although I should know better which is why I believe most religions are true. It's part of you and where you came from, a kind of cultural DNA, regardless of its sense, logic, or factualness. Religious truth, like culture and heritage, transcend those things.

But like I said, I should know better, because many people don't belong to ethnoreligous groups like I do. But that personal background still leads me to often view attacks on religion as attacks on race.

But I do think if I'd been raised white and Christian, I'd either be an atheist by now, or at least agnostic.

Amadan
07-13-2015, 06:00 AM
Yeah, that literally makes no sense to me.

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 06:44 AM
Yeah, that literally makes no sense to me.

You're too literal anyway.

Does it figuratively make sense to you?

Roxxsmom
07-13-2015, 06:52 AM
For someone in your situation, the decision to be anything is a type of privilege, isn't it?

I really don't see how being an atheist is particularly an act of "privilege" unless it is, in fact, just a posture you adopt to express your uniqueness.

It could be a result of privilege if your social class, wealth and education give you access to the ideas and the people who share them in the first place. If you live in a small town where everyone is the same religion and you're raised to believe that people who are different are scary and strange, maybe even evil, you're less likely to become an atheist (or change religions) than if you're raised in a big city or university town and have a family that reads tons of books, watches a lot of PBS and has friends of a variety of religions and beliefs from all over the world.

This doesn't mean you will become an atheist (or even nebulously non religious), but it means you will be exposed to people who are and their ideas and will likely feel more comfortable adopting them if they resonates with you.

It's a rare person who invents a philosophy or religion completely from scratch and in isolation from other ideas.

Amadan
07-13-2015, 06:55 AM
It could be an act of privilege if you never had contact with or access to people who thought that way or the ability to appreciate and understand the arguments in favor of it without your background and education. It's a rare person who invents a philosophy or religion completely from scratch.

Atheism is an invented philosophy or religion?

You really seem to regard atheism pretty much the same way a certain strain of Christian does.

What about people who simply decide whatever package of supernatural/spiritual beliefs has been handed to them by their culture does not make sense to them?

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 07:03 AM
What about people who simply decide whatever package of supernatural/spiritual beliefs has been handed to them by their culture does not make sense to them?

I would tell them they're missing the point.

Edit: Since this is a writing forum, I could as easily ask "What about students who simply decide whatever novel/story/poem has been handed to them by their teacher/professor does not make sense to them?"

I think it's fine not to believe in religion or spirituality, as I think it's fine to dislike classic literature, but I think to simply dismiss it as nonsensical is intellectual laziness.

CassandraW
07-13-2015, 07:04 AM
I didn't know a single atheist when I became one at the age of 12. Nearly everyone I knew was Catholic, with a couple of Protestants thrown in. Everyone was horrified. I don't think I met another atheist until college. It happens.

And yeah, basically I decided that the package of spiritual beliefs I'd been handed made no sense to me.

Roxxsmom
07-13-2015, 07:48 AM
Atheism is an invented philosophy or religion?

You really seem to regard atheism pretty much the same way a certain strain of Christian does.

You'll have to elaborate what you mean by that, as I don't in any way feel hostile or critical towards atheism. I probably come closer to being an agnostic myself that an atheist, but I certainly understand the argument behind atheism--that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and theists have not provided that evidence. I am also sympathetic to the view that people can have experiences or feel things spritually that are not replicable or provable, but they are nonetheless very meaningful, real, and important to them.

I was taken to task for being sloppy with my definition of atheism earlier and conflating it with being non religious (many non religious people are still theists), so I'm trying to be careful to differentiate between an atheist--someone who is certain that no god exists--and someone who doesn't know or care (an agnostic), or someone who possibly thinks a god exists but doesn't participate in organized religion.


What about people who simply decide whatever package of supernatural/spiritual beliefs has been handed to them by their culture does not make sense to them?

Some people in the latter situation will continue to go along with their cultural default because of what Richard said--leaving their religion means leaving their family and community and cultural identity. Some may find a new religion, if they have access to one that appeals to them. Some will become agnostic or vaguely theistic but not practice organized religion or think about it much (if this is something that is acceptable in the time and place in which they live), and some will become atheists. The latter, I think, is more likely to happen if one has had contact with actual atheists, or at least with their ideas and arguments. Atheists are still one of the least trusted groups in America overall (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/in-atheists-we-distrust/).

Only a small percentage of Americans (2.4%) self-identify as atheists, and they tend to be wealthier and better educated than the average American. Some studies suggest they also have a higher IQ (http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/08/12/researchers-aggregate-63-studies-and-find-significant-negative-association-between-intelligence-and-religiosity/), though that whole IQ thing is really problematic and hard to separate from education and wealth. It gets a bit strange defining what atheism really is, though, because a small percentage of people who call themselves atheists say they do believe in a god or universal spirit, and there is a higher percentage of Americans (7%) who say they definitely don't believe in a god or universal spirit yet don't call themselves atheists.

http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/23/5-facts-about-atheists/

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 07:55 AM
and there is a higher percentage of Americans (7%) who say they definitely don't believe in a god or universal spirit yet don't call themselves atheists.

Heck, I might say no to that just because I'd get hung up on the singular.

Roxxsmom
07-13-2015, 08:03 AM
The wording in polls can indeed affect how people respond, so I take numbers with a grain of salt.

For instance, there was one that was giving me fits once, because it asked me if I "believed in" evolution. No, I don't "believe" in evolution, because one doesn't "believe in" scientific theories or models. One either rejects them or provisionally accepts them based on available evidence. But it was pretty clear what the poll was trying to determine--which percentage of people are creationists, which I most assuredly am not.

RichardGarfinkle
07-13-2015, 10:15 AM
I would tell them they're missing the point.

Edit: Since this is a writing forum, I could as easily ask "What about students who simply decide whatever novel/story/poem has been handed to them by their teacher/professor does not make sense to them?"

I think it's fine not to believe in religion or spirituality, as I think it's fine to dislike classic literature, but I think to simply dismiss it as nonsensical is intellectual laziness.

That's bordering on insulting and erroneous.

Consider, please that most spiritual and religious systems present themselves as assertions about reality. It isn't lazy to look at them from the perspective they themselves demand and say that they not only haven't proven themselves, but they have little to no evidence to back up their claims.

Given that, a person is under no obligation to dig deeper past the outward claims they are making to find a utility or cultural value beneath.

If every book claimed to be non-fiction, it would not be intellectually lazy to stop reading when one realized that the claims in a book did not, in fact, conform to reality, even if that book might be a beautiful experience to read if presented as fiction.

Amadan
07-13-2015, 03:31 PM
I would tell them they're missing the point.

Would you now.


Edit: Since this is a writing forum, I could as easily ask "What about students who simply decide whatever novel/story/poem has been handed to them by their teacher/professor does not make sense to them?"

Look, if your religion is "Everyone should be nice to each other, and it's important to be a vegetarian," that's not a true/false model of reality, that's just how you live your life. No one can tell you it's "wrong," only that they don't choose to follow that practice.

If your religion is "Everyone should be nice to each other, and it's important to be a vegetarian, and also all of our people emerged from the sky god's navel 10,000 years ago," the latter statement is certainly one to which an "atheist" might reasonably say "No, that doesn't make sense, I don't think that is true."

Saying it's metaphorical or figurative or not meant to be taken literally is still asking people to pretend it's a meaningful model of the universe, and I imagine even among Native Americans and other spiritual groups, there have always been individuals who (maybe silently) rolled their eyes at the supernatural tales. Maybe they "missed the point," but that's what Christians say about people who don't believe Jesus was the Son of God and died for your sins.


I think it's fine not to believe in religion or spirituality, as I think it's fine to dislike classic literature, but I think to simply dismiss it as nonsensical is intellectual laziness.

Depends what you mean by "nonsensical." Obviously it has a great deal of meaning, both historically and to its practitioners. And not every single thing about a religion is necessarily illogical or meaningless. ("Do unto others," etc.) But those are beliefs that do not require an accompanying belief in supernatural entities.

If you're saying it's intellectually lazy to dismiss belief in things that are in the realm of the supernatural, I am forced to wonder why someone who would be bristling if I came into the POC or LBGT forum and argued about whether your identity makes sense thinks it's okay to tell atheists here that they are "intellectually lazy."

Amadan
07-13-2015, 03:39 PM
You'll have to elaborate what you mean by that, as I don't in any way feel hostile or critical towards atheism. I probably come closer to being an agnostic myself that an atheist, but I certainly understand the argument behind atheism--that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and theists have not provided that evidence. I am also sympathetic to the view that people can have experiences or feel things spritually that are not replicable or provable, but they are nonetheless very meaningful, real, and important to them.

But you seem insistent that atheism is some fashionable posture adopted by privileged people who have the luxury of not going along with the dominant religion, and that they do it as some expression of individuality or rebellion, rather than because they arrived at the position by investigation and thought and it was simply the only one that made sense to them.


I was taken to task for being sloppy with my definition of atheism earlier and conflating it with being non religious (many non religious people are still theists), so I'm trying to be careful to differentiate between an atheist--someone who is certain that no god exists--and someone who doesn't know or care (an agnostic), or someone who possibly thinks a god exists but doesn't participate in organized religion.

The definition of "atheist" is not exactly set in stone, though, and people will argue vehemently over where the dividing line is between atheist and agnostic, for example. I consider myself an atheist, but I would not actually say I am "certain that no god exists" - I would say I have seen no evidence that gives me any reason to believe any god exists.

Albedo
07-13-2015, 04:16 PM
^^^ I'm an atheist because I don't believe in a God, not because I'm certain there's no God. Sure, I think it's pretty unlikely, but certainty's for mathematicians. Some people call that agnosticism, but I think that's not really accurate.

Regarding 'truths', I don't think it's the case that all spiritual truths are making claims about physical reality that can be falsified. I think most Christians would agree that "God is love" is an essential truth in Christianity. Good luck showing that's not true, for whatever values of God and whatever values of love. You could try, but it would be kind of missing the point, IMO.

JimmyB27
07-13-2015, 04:51 PM
The definition of "atheist" is not exactly set in stone, though, and people will argue vehemently over where the dividing line is between atheist and agnostic, for example. I consider myself an atheist, but I would not actually say I am "certain that no god exists" - I would say I have seen no evidence that gives me any reason to believe any god exists.
Indeed, I consider myself an agnostic atheist - I have no knowledge of god (agnostic), and therefore, no belief in god (atheist).

RichardGarfinkle
07-13-2015, 04:52 PM
^^^ I'm an atheist because I don't believe in a God, not because I'm certain there's no God. Sure, I think it's pretty unlikely, but certainty's for mathematicians. Some people call that agnosticism, but I think that's not really accurate.

Regarding 'truths', I don't think it's the case that all spiritual truths are making claims about physical reality that can be falsified. I think most Christians would agree that "God is love" is an essential truth in Christianity. Good luck showing that's not true, for whatever values of God and whatever values of love. You could try, but it would be kind of missing the point, IMO.

To my mind, it isn't a question of whether all spiritual truths are a matter of physical reality. Nor is it a matter of trying to prove a falsehood. The intellectual burden is on the one making the assertion. It isn't intellectually lazy to not accept an assertion just because it was asserted.

But let's just go with the example you stated. As a mental awareness on the part of people who experience God and Love in a certain way it is a fine private statement. But to claim that it is a universal truth rather than a personal awareness is to place it in the realm of logic and understanding. That's what putting something into the realm of the intellect is, rather than keeping it in the realm of the personal.

To make the impersonal statement that God is Love is to claim that two ideas (God and Love) are identical. To be identical they must share all characteristics in common. Therefore, to assert that claim it must be demonstrated that God and Love share all the characteristics of both and neither has an unshared characteristic. If someone wishes to do that, let them do the work. It isn't my job to spend my time and intellectual effort taking down unsupported assertions.

If someone says to me that to them personally God is Love, I'll think that they probably have a pretty nice worldview and hope that it suffices for them. It's only if they demand I accept this idea that I have problems with them.

Right now, personally, I'm contemplating a model of human thought that combines the Buddhist Eightfold Path with concepts from Chaos Theory. I'm using this model to help me design characters for a new book. I regard this as a personally useful mental tool, but I don't think it's a worthwhile idea to share since I know it's idiosyncratic and it's only a tool I'm using at the moment, rather than a belief that it's a universal truth.

To me, religious ideas are mental tools, nothing more and nothing less. I'll pick them up and use them, combining with others as works with what I have and what I'm working on. I understand that this view is uncommon, and I'm willing to discuss it with anyone interested. I'll also use it as a basis for fiction I write, but that's because I use my ideas in my books, just like any other writer. I'm not barging into other people's discussions and yelling it at them. I'm also not dismissing them as intellectually lazy if they don't agree with my view.

I've studied various religions for almost my entire life. I haven't found any that seem to me anything more than possibly useful collections of tools.

I've also been through a number of communal experiences (including Passover Seders, Quaker meetings, weddings in a variety of traditions, and Temple and Church services of various kinds, not to mention concerts and sporting events). None of them has had the effect on me that those who can benefit from the communal describe. I regard this as nothing more than a difference in ways of thinking. My mind is not communal in that sense, others are. I think this is fine and shows a useful mental diversity.

The problem I have is the rejection of diversity that comes from people belittling this point of view as privileged or anti-intellectual.

I started this thread because someone with an audience asserted my non-existence. I find that rather bothersome and felt it should be pointed out because his is not an isolated viewpoint.

There is a term for this attitude, erasure. I'm shocked that some of the people who have directly experienced this are arguing for it in this context.

JimmyB27
07-13-2015, 05:43 PM
If God is love, does that mean that I God my parents?

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 06:06 PM
That's bordering on insulting and erroneous.

Consider, please that most spiritual and religious systems present themselves as assertions about reality. It isn't lazy to look at them from the perspective they themselves demand and say that they not only haven't proven themselves, but they have little to no evidence to back up their claims.

Saying you don't believe in a religion because it's not factual is completely different from saying you don't believe in a religion because it's nonsensical. I was only talking about the latter.

Introversion
07-13-2015, 06:08 PM
^^^ I'm an atheist because I don't believe in a God, not because I'm certain there's no God. Sure, I think it's pretty unlikely, but certainty's for mathematicians. Some people call that agnosticism, but I think that's not really accurate.

If mankind were presented with verifiable, incontrovertible proof of a God, then I'd have to believe in it. Until then, I'm quite comfortable saying "It doesn't exist" as shorthand for, "There's zero evidence for, no way to test the existence of, all the various religions are inconsistent (even self-inconsistent) in their proclamations for, etc etc."

Agnosticism, OTOH, I think is when you're genuinely not sure if you believe or not. I'm sure that I don't believe. That's atheism in my dictionary.

Amadan
07-13-2015, 06:11 PM
Saying you don't believe in a religion because it's not factual is completely different from saying you don't believe in a religion because it's nonsensical. I was only talking about the latter.

Now you're the one being too literal.

Saying a religion is nonsensical does not mean there isn't a single thing in it that makes sense.

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 06:14 PM
If you're saying it's intellectually lazy to dismiss belief in things that are in the realm of the supernatural

I wasn't. As I pointed out above, I don't think it makes sense to expect the supernatural to make immediate sense, so I don't think it's a good reason to dismiss it.

Dismissing it for lack of evidence makes more sense.

Deciding you don't believe or accept something just because it doesn't make sense implies an atheist might suddenly find a religion that "makes sense" and accept it without any factual-based evidence for it.

- - - Updated - - -


Now you're the one being too literal.

Saying a religion is nonsensical does not mean there isn't a single thing in it that makes sense.

Huh? That's not what I was saying. Maybe the above post explains better.

Amadan
07-13-2015, 06:17 PM
I wasn't. As I pointed out above, I don't think it makes sense to expect the supernatural to make immediate sense, so I don't think it's a good reason to dismiss it.

That sounds like a version of the Courtier's Reply (http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Courtier%27s_Reply).



Deciding you don't believe or accept something just because it doesn't make sense implies an atheist might suddenly find a religion that "makes sense" and accept it without any factual-based evidence for it.

Some factual-based evidence is a prerequisite to making sense to me.

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 06:34 PM
Some factual-based evidence is a prerequisite to making sense to me.

Fair enough. I've often heard people say they or their children should "choose a religion that makes sense to them", and I doubt everyone who has done so and remained theist did so on the basis of fact-based evidence, so I was speaking with that in mind.

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 06:38 PM
Agnosticism, OTOH, I think is when you're genuinely not sure if you believe or not.

Not all agnosticism. Some agnosticism asserts it's impossible to know.

Introversion
07-13-2015, 07:01 PM
Not all agnosticism. Some agnosticism asserts it's impossible to know.

Yes, but that's a pretty pedantic definition of "know".

It's also impossible to know whether a little invisible tea pot orbits the planet Mercury. Within this tea pot lives a society of microscopic unicorns who fart Zen koans and eat sunshine and pure love. Non-believers can never see them, you understand; our unbelief offends their delicate sense of smell.

The implausibility of that tea pot is high enough that I'm perfectly comfortable saying that it doesn't exist, and specifically that people who say otherwise need to show me some proof, or I'll treat it as fiction.

RichardGarfinkle
07-13-2015, 07:09 PM
Fair enough. I've often heard people say they or their children should "choose a religion that makes sense to them", and I doubt everyone who has done so and remained theist did so on the basis of fact-based evidence, so I was speaking with that in mind.

Oddly enough this does make some sense to me, but again I think of religion as a set of tools for the mind. I can see people picking religions based on what in them works with how they think. If someone asks me what religion I think is true, I'd say none of them. If they asked what religions I've found most useful that would be Buddhism and Taoism. A number of practices in those religions work with how I think. But I mix those tools with mathematical methods and programming methods and things from various philosophies as needed.

It could also be argued given what you've said that you made a choice between Zuni and agnosticism and/or atheism because it made sense to you that the religion/culture of your ancestors should be your religion/culture. Not everyone in your position would make or does make that decision, so in some sense you did it because it made sense to you.

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 07:12 PM
Yes, but that's a pretty pedantic definition of "know".

As a former agnostic, it's still an important distinction to me.

Actually, I think my online dating profile still says "Agnostic, and very serious about it," under "Religion".

Maybe that's why I don't get more dates.

Amadan
07-13-2015, 07:13 PM
As a former agnostic, it's still an important distinction to me.

Actually, I think my online dating profile still says "Agnostic, and very serious about it," under "Religion".

Maybe that's why I don't get more dates.

Try listing your IQ score.

/threadtangent

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 07:18 PM
Oddly enough this does make some sense to me, but again I think of religion as a set of tools for the mind. I can see people picking religions based on what in them works with how they think. If someone asks me what religion I think is true, I'd say none of them. If they asked what religions I've found most useful that would be Buddhism and Taoism. A number of practices in those religions work with how I think. But I mix those tools with mathematical methods and programming methods and things from various philosophies as needed.

Well, I can understand that, too, but I can't quite grasp going from that to true believer based only on rational appeal and usefulness.


It could also be argued given what you've said that you made a choice between Zuni and agnosticism and/or atheism because it made sense to you that the religion/culture of your ancestors should be your religion/culture. Not everyone in your position would make or does make that decision, so in some sense you did it because it made sense to you.

To me, putting it that way implies it was a rational decision rather than an emotional/spiritual one.

I suppose you could say it made sense in my heart, but my head had nothing to do with it.

RichardGarfinkle
07-13-2015, 07:44 PM
Well, I can understand that, too, but I can't quite grasp going from that to true believer based only on rational appeal and usefulness.



To me, putting it that way implies it was a rational decision rather than an emotional/spiritual one.

I suppose you could say it made sense in my heart, but my head had nothing to do with it.

I think you may be being pedantic on what makes sense means. The idea you quoted was of parents letting their children choose religion based on what makes sense to them. The same would apply to parents suggesting children choose a college major or a job based on what makes sense. Those would not be purely rational decisions, but ones based on what fits the child's life and way of thinking.

Makes sense is not only a matter of rationality. Sense is not objective it's relative to the mind seeing it. The same idea presented one way might make sense to a person, but presented another way it might be nothing but gibberish (e.g. data versus function versus graph). Sense by its nature is subjective relative to the mind that is perceiving and trying to comprehend.

kuwisdelu
07-13-2015, 08:13 PM
Heh. I sometimes tell high school students and undergrads that it's not always best to choose a major or career based on what makes the most sense. Sometimes you have to listen to what feels right and do what you want to do.

What makes sense isn't always what will make you happiest, I tell them.

Edit: You're probably right, but I've always understood the phrase to imply rational sense.

Roxxsmom
07-14-2015, 01:51 AM
The definition of "atheist" is not exactly set in stone, though, and people will argue vehemently over where the dividing line is between atheist and agnostic, for example. I consider myself an atheist, but I would not actually say I am "certain that no god exists" - I would say I have seen no evidence that gives me any reason to believe any god exists.

I tried to address the wobble in the definitions when I talked about the poll results. There is indeed a blurry line between atheism and agnosticism, because I'd say my feelings come close to what you describe--I've seen no evidence that gives me reason to believe any god exists--yet I define myself as an agnostic.

As for the privilege thing, I am not saying that all atheists (or agnostics) have the same degree of privilege or come from extremely privileged backgrounds. I know people who rejected their religions and came to atheism even though they grew up in very poor, insular communities and never met an atheist until they left the same. Cassandra said as much up thread. I was merely speculating about a possible reason for the positive correlation between income level and education level and atheism, in US society at least. I could be completely wrong, but even if it's correct, it's almost certainly not the only reason.

It's also possible that the set of neurological or physiological traits that predispose someone to be a skeptic about religion in any time or place also predisposes a person to educational and monetary success in modern US society.

Note that I am not saying atheism or agnosticism would be bad or frivolous things, even if privilege sometimes does make it easier to adopt them. But I can't help wondering what my beliefs would be if I'd grown up in a different time, place or family and had never had any access to the kinds of books, media, and ideas that I did.

I don't know how one could really test any hypothesis about the reasons for non-theistic beliefs. It's really hard to get at the actual numbers of non theists in any time and place in history, of course, so it's hard to know whether the numbers are a sort of constant that might represent a fixed percentage of natural skeptics in the human population at large (people who are wired up to be skeptical), and how much might result from culture. Even today people mean different things by the different terms/categories (as we already discussed), and if there's a strong stigma associated with non-theism, or if there aren't any words available to even define such skepticism, a large number of people may never admit to or articulate their feelings.

RichardGarfinkle
07-14-2015, 02:33 AM
I'm still troubled by why non-theistic views wold require explanation.

Why is it so hard to accept the idea that there is a range of human ways of thinking?

Amadan
07-14-2015, 02:51 AM
It also strikes me that many of the correlations Roxxmom is pointing out would also apply to homosexuals and transgendered persons. But no one would argue that being gay or trans is an "expression of privilege."

(Yes, I know atheism is not precisely the same as sexual orientation or identity..)

RichardGarfinkle
07-14-2015, 03:00 AM
It also strikes me that many of the correlations Roxxmom is pointing out would also apply to homosexuals and transgendered persons. But no one would argue that being gay or trans is an "expression of privilege."

(Yes, I know atheism is not precisely the same as sexual orientation or identity..)

The principle is the same as is the demand for explanation. To take a better sexual identity equivalent, atheism is more like asexuality.

I'm riffing off a thread my daughter started a while ago in QUILTBAG.
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?307619-Asexuality-and-the-language-barrier

The whole theism thing might be theoretically interesting, and we might be able to appreciate the beauty of some of the ideas, but it's not part of our ways of thinking or dealing with the world.

The idea that an atheist hasn't found the right religion is also analogous to the idea that an asexual just hasn't met the right person or is frigid or sexually dysfunctional.

There's also the fact that in a less free society asexuality is deemed irrelevant. You will marry; you will have children is similar to you will go to Church, you will follow the commandments, etc.

Dawnstorm
07-14-2015, 03:01 AM
...the reasons for non-theistic beliefs.

I have a degree in sociology. The way you phrase your "research problem" is problematic in the first place, if your data is about "people who self-identify as atheists".

The question you pose is a subset of the question why people believe what they do. This is a question that's separate from why people choose one or another label to name their identity: A person who identifies as atheist does not have to hold any non-theistic beliefs. The requirement is a negative one: one of absence rather than presence.

The way to phrase the research problem would be "reasons why people do not hold theistic beliefs." But once you phrase it like that, "reasons why people hold theistic" believes becomes an important question, and that is a question that makes many believers uncomfortable, because science explains things without any access to the divine/supernatural. And if you can explain why people belief in deities without recourse to the actual existance of deities...

As a social relativist, I'm quite comfortable with the question why I believe what I believe (though I'm unsure what I actually do believe, or what sort of cognitive activity believing actually is).

I like the narrative that I've never believed in God. I often tell people that I thought grown-ups were playing pretend-games, when they talked about God; you know, like the Easter Bunny. I'm not sure that's 100 % true, but there's a demand for narrative, and that's the best I can come up with. It feels sort-of true. I certainly don't remember ever converting, but I do remember angsting about telling my parents that I don't believe.

One of the things I've always experienced is that other people tend to exhibit an inner certainty that I could never match. And sometimes that inner certainty expresses itself as a peculiar sort of blindness, as the "You're not really an atheist," that triggered this thread. And in a sense that's actually true: Being an atheist isn't about what you are; it's about what you are not. Being an atheist is a tedious necessity. I'm lucky that I don't have to outline a belief-system to be one. If that's ever a requirement, I'm out.

In my experience, being an atheist is a lot more like being, say, a feminist than it is like being a Christian. It's not about what you believe in; it's about practical problems you face because of default assumptions and social orders that hurt you. When you're talking about what you believe in, you tend to use more precise philosophical terms (such as existentialist, phenomenologist, materialist...).

kuwisdelu
07-14-2015, 03:39 AM
I often tell people that I thought grown-ups were playing pretend-games, when they talked about God; you know, like the Easter Bunny.

Are you implying the Easter Bunny isn't real?

Ken
07-14-2015, 03:41 AM
It's about one of the Duck Dynasty people saying that there are no atheists. The evidence consists of the fact that we use a calendar that has year numbers based from the birth of Jesus.

... along with photos of bikini clad women for each month, in the pinup calendars.

Dawnstorm
07-14-2015, 04:02 AM
Are you implying the Easter Bunny isn't real?

No, I'm merely saying that I was aware my parents didn't believe, while pretending to. (I am an a-easter-bunnyist, though.)

Roxxsmom
07-14-2015, 04:04 AM
The principle is the same as is the demand for explanation. To take a better sexual identity equivalent, atheism is more like asexuality.

Well, the analogy holds up better if one's religious beliefs or lack thereof were innate. But few would argue that being a Muslim, Catholic, or atheist for that matter, is biological. It's possible that the way one feels about the religion one was raised with, or whether or not one is likely to become dissatisfied with it and seek a new one, could stem from biology.

And I think there are a variety of reasons one might be an atheist besides simply an inability to be moved by religion or a god or gods. Atheism is more of an intellectual position than a feeling (or lack of one), isn't it? Though it could start with a feeling.

Or maybe this is where we're not connecting? You look at it as something that's very much like asexuality, an innate or inborn feeling that one simply doesn't feel or connect with something something most people feel and connect with, while I look self identification as an atheist as a conscious decision people make that could result from a slew of different experiences, emotions, and intellectual processes in different individuals.

I am not in any way saying that atheism is not real or valid, however.

As per the analogy that asexuality could be an expression of privilege, however, no, I don't think so. It seems to simply be how some people are. It's not a choice or something someone ever decides on via logic or after reading the arguments for and against it and deciding that a desire for sex isn't needed and doesn't make any sense and no one has been able to make an argument that convinces them otherwise, so darn it, they don't need sex anymore. Some people choose to embrace celibacy for logical or philosophical reasons, but celibacy =/= asexuality.

But consciously self identifying as asexual (which requires having a word to describe it), and being able to connect with a community of people who share one's experience, and being able to live a life where one's desire to forego sex (and relationships where sex is expected) is honored and respected? That shouldn't be something that comes from privilege, but I'm guessing that it has been at many times and places in history.

I'm not saying some people aren't atheists because of an innate feeling, but I happen to know some who've arrived at the decision to become such for intellectual reasons.

Maybe we're arguing apples and oranges here, because I'm talking about atheism as a philosophy that's arrived at after thought and analysis (like a decision to embrace a celibate life) and other people are talking about it more as an orientation (like being asexual)? I don't see a reason why it couldn't be either or both in different people.

Amadan
07-14-2015, 05:39 AM
Yes, I know atheism is not innate, which is why I said it's not precisely the same thing.


And I think there are a variety of reasons one might be an atheist besides simply an inability to be moved by religion or a god or gods. Atheism is more of an intellectual position than a feeling (or lack of one), isn't it? Though it could start with a feeling.

Or it could start with a lack of one. Do you think no one was ever an atheist (i.e., did not believe in God or gods) before "atheism" became a formal term with schools of thought?


Or maybe this is where we're not connecting? You look at it as something that's very much like asexuality, an innate or inborn feeling that one simply doesn't feel or connect with something something most people feel and connect with, while I look self identification as an atheist as a conscious decision people make that could result from a slew of different experiences, emotions, and intellectual processes in different individuals.

Which, I would argue, is also true for many people of different sexual orientations and identities.


But consciously self identifying as asexual (which requires having a word to describe it), and being able to connect with a community of people who share one's experience, and being able to live a life where one's desire to forego sex (and relationships where sex is expected) is honored and respected? That shouldn't be something that comes from privilege, but I'm guessing that it has been at many times and places in history.

But consciously self-identifying as atheist and having that honored and respected does/should come from privilege?


I'm not saying some people aren't atheists because of an innate feeling, but I happen to know some who've arrived at the decision to become such for intellectual reasons.

So?

Roxxsmom
07-14-2015, 06:06 AM
But consciously self-identifying as atheist and having that honored and respected does/should come from privilege?


No, I don't think it should stem from privilege, but I think it often does.

As for the so? I was just positing that there may be different paths to atheism and all are equally real or valid. I've always thought of it as a conscious choice people make based on arguments they've heard (or perhaps the ones they haven't heard) in support of a deity or deities and their analysis of the contradictions and inconsistencies inherent in organized religion, as this is where my own doubts about the existence of deities stem from and my contact with atheists have mostly been with people who move in fairly academic circles.

But I was acknowledging that other people might have different experiences, since Richard and Dawnstorm have said things that make it sound like they arrived at their atheism in a different way and for different reasons, and I got the impression I was being a jerk by overstating my own experiences as if I thought they were the only ones that existed.

I think I'm being very offensive and disrespectful of atheism, and this wasn't my intent at all, and I should probably just shut up now.

RichardGarfinkle
07-14-2015, 06:28 AM
I don't see the sharp dichotomy between the innate feeling and the intellectual analysis. The concepts of theism are not obvious ones even though we are culturally immersed in them. The idea of God or gods is an extraordinarily vague one. People are acculturated to religious thought and action and often made to take part in ceremony and prayer and so on. They are taught to speak words to unperceivable beings and often told to take on faith the idea that they are listened to.

Those of theist mind talk about response to this, of direct experience and inner stirrings etc. But for those of us who have no such experience the entire structure becomes intellectual. Examined on purely intellectual grounds and with no inner stirrings in those directions, the theist structure loses a lot of appeal.

The metaphor with asexuality can be made vivid if one considers how just plain odd sex must seem to those who have no erotic feelings.

kuwisdelu
07-14-2015, 08:51 AM
The concepts of theism are not obvious ones even though we are culturally immersed in them.

Hmm. I'm not so sure about that. After all, many children "play pretend" in which "imaginary" beings or situations are treated as real. And in fact, many children treat their imaginary play as real, and are upset when adults don't comply.

I should note that despite my argument, theism did not in fact come naturally to me at first. Though I enjoyed imaginary play, I was an ardently scientific child. In fact, I wouldn't say I was culturally immersed in theistic concepts at all.

I got in trouble many times as a child for my questioning of theist concepts.

Roxxsmom
07-14-2015, 09:32 AM
Those of theist mind talk about response to this, of direct experience and inner stirrings etc. But for those of us who have no such experience the entire structure becomes intellectual. Examined on purely intellectual grounds and with no inner stirrings in those directions, the theist structure loses a lot of appeal.

The metaphor with asexuality can be made vivid if one considers how just plain odd sex must seem to those who have no erotic feelings.

This is a good analogy, and I can certainly relate to the there's something that seems very important to a lot of people, but I don't seem to feel it the same way" situation. And I've always been good at getting myself into trouble and offending people because I discuss things logically that are emotional for most people.

One thing the asexuality analogy can't explain is the people who have switched from being very religious to being atheists and vice versa. So whatever it is that leads someone to become an atheist might not always be innate in the same way that the trait that makes someone asexual is. My understanding is that asexual people are usually that way all their lives.

RichardGarfinkle
07-14-2015, 11:01 AM
Hmm. I'm not so sure about that. After all, many children "play pretend" in which "imaginary" beings or situations are treated as real. And in fact, many children treat their imaginary play as real, and are upset when adults don't comply.

I should note that despite my argument, theism did not in fact come naturally to me at first. Though I enjoyed imaginary play, I was an ardently scientific child. In fact, I wouldn't say I was culturally immersed in theistic concepts at all.

I got in trouble many times as a child for my questioning of theist concepts.

There seems to be some distinction between the theist mindset and having imaginary friends or even conceiving of imaginary worlds and treating them as real. I too did a lot of the latter (not uncommon for future SF and fantasy writers), but it didn't help in accepting theism.

Now, you've got me wondering about this. Hmm. I don't know.

RichardGarfinkle
07-14-2015, 11:06 AM
This is a good analogy, and I can certainly relate to the there's something that seems very important to a lot of people, but I don't seem to feel it the same way" situation. And I've always been good at getting myself into trouble and offending people because I discuss things logically that are emotional for most people.

One thing the asexuality analogy can't explain is the people who have switched from being very religious to being atheists and vice versa. So whatever it is that leads someone to become an atheist might not always be innate in the same way that the trait that makes someone asexual is. My understanding is that asexual people are usually that way all their lives.

I don't think the analogy is perfect for every atheist, but I think it works for many of us. There are clearly some people who give up theism out of a sense that it failed them or a growing awareness that it doesn't fit the facts of their lives or from a crisis of some kind or out of contemplation of the Problem of Evil or some such.

But if you have a look at the threads in this board about why people are atheists you'll see a lot more born this ways than went through dramas.

http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?100206-Why-am-I-an-atheist
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?108088-When-did-you-become-an-atheist

buz
07-14-2015, 03:20 PM
I don't see the sharp dichotomy between the innate feeling and the intellectual analysis. The concepts of theism are not obvious ones even though we are culturally immersed in them. The idea of God or gods is an extraordinarily vague one. People are acculturated to religious thought and action and often made to take part in ceremony and prayer and so on. They are taught to speak words to unperceivable beings and often told to take on faith the idea that they are listened to.

I don't know--concepts of gods are and have been quite diverse, and to say that they are vague ideas or that the beings thought of as gods are unperceivable discounts a lot of faiths historical and not and depends on a narrowed view, IMO. Many forms of theism have taken the view that god or gods or even supernatural beings not quite called "gods" is/are quite perceivable and not vague at all.

If you see something happen, one "obvious" impulse is to try to explain the cause, I think. I mean, it's not an absolute, but I don't think it's unusual, and I don't think it requires external teaching. How one chooses to explain it can depend on a variety of things: knowledge and beliefs a person already has, other people's knowledge available to the person, sensory input, nebulous innate qualities I don't understand, and, yes, imagination, as a philosopher might use to try to understand how the mind works or how it comes out of the brain or what the self is, or somesuch. I don't think coming up with "force I can't directly see doing these things" is too un-obvious, and I don't think that ascribing a consciousness (of some sort) to that force is too far away, if being a god even requires consciousness. Using your imagination to come up with things you know to be fictional is a bit different, I think, than using your imagination to come up with ideas about things that you don't understand in order to make them more understandable, but it's something that can be used to different ends.

The rituals you are talking about, those require teaching--but I'm not convinced the "idea of god" is all that hard to arrive at, if you strip away other things. Likewise, I don't think the idea of no god is that hard to arrive at either. I think it depends on those variables...

Of course, I can't say for certain, because I don't know anyone who was born in a bubble with no ideas inside to influence them ;) And it's possible you are just talking about the modern world, rather than generalized discussion of theism from all time, and stuff. But it *seems* to me like, in general, theism wouldn't be that hard to arrive at, nor atheism.

As far as asexuality/atheism/privilege...I don't know if privilege is the right word for it. But certainly, before I was aware asexuality was a thing, I just sort of thought it was a symptom of how fucked up and dysfunctional I was. (Which, um, I still can't rule out, but it seems easier and healthier to call myself asexual.) My access to internet, general literacy, and freedom to not get married if I don't wanna allowed me to call myself asexual and live as I want in that respect. Likewise, I do not have to participate in religious rituals or live by theocratic law, and I am not shunned by society and disowned by my family if I say I don't believe in god. I am, however, sort of seen as a negative person by a certain set of society around me, and would be seen as a hellbound weirdo by some extended family members, but eh. I think I get what R is driving at with this, though I don't know if the semantics are correct ;)

Cathy C
07-14-2015, 04:00 PM
I just tend to say I'm agnostic. I live in the hook of the buckle of the bible belt and it makes life a little easier since it leaves open all possibilities. Either that, or I say I was "raised Lutheran", which is absolutely true. It simply leaves out my present views. :ROFL:

Max Vaehling
07-15-2015, 03:42 AM
I can see the point about privilege, from a somewhat Maslowian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs) perspective. It's a luxury topic to think about. Social pressure aside, for a lot of atheists the question of God is not the most important question in the world, after all. It can be a fun intellectual exercise, but not an existential one because from the position of not believing, there's nothing at stake. This, btw, isn't a matter of what religion you're deviating from, it's a matter of how strict and socially binding the religious culture around you is.

Full disclosure: I grew up in Northern Germany where religion just isn't that big a deal. We get the same indoctrinations you get everywhere in Christian societies, but it tends to wear off if you're not actively seeking that kind of fix. Which I didn't and nobody pressured me, so I kinda naturally gravitated towards agnosticism, after about a decade of not thinking much about religion at all. Atheism was more of a conscious, deliberate and, to a degree, political choice, later.

buz
07-15-2015, 03:59 AM
I can see the point about privilege, from a somewhat Maslowian (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs) perspective. It's a luxury topic to think about. Social pressure aside, for a lot of atheists the question of God is not the most important question in the world, after all. It can be a fun intellectual exercise, but not an existential one because from the position of not believing, there's nothing at stake.

Social pressure aside, even, I can say this has not been my experience; I have felt something was "at stake." But then, I'm still kinda agnostic, so maybe therein lies the difference...

Or, I'm weird, also. That could have something to do with it :D

King Neptune
07-15-2015, 04:06 AM
I think that article was a stronger statement that there is a great lack of logic in America. Logic should be taught starting in the earliest grades.

Manuel Royal
07-15-2015, 04:33 AM
I'm honestly not sure whether the Duck Dynasty guy is for real. (Guess to be fair we should use his actual name, but I'll have to look it up ... okay, Si Robertson.) I mean, I know they're fake to some extent: until a few years ago they were middle-class suburbanites; rednecks, but polo shirt-wearing, golf-playing rednecks. They created their patriarch-bearded backwoodsmen personas for tv.

So possibly Robertson is just doing a character and doesn't believe the nonsense he spouts. (I've long suspected that about Ann Coulter.)


I think that article was a stronger statement that there is a great lack of logic in America. Logic should be taught starting in the earliest grades.God, yes. ("God" as a figure of speech. I don't know what I'd do if I couldn't express emotion through references to religious concepts I don't believe.)

King Neptune
07-15-2015, 04:59 PM
I'm honestly not sure whether the Duck Dynasty guy is for real. (Guess to be fair we should use his actual name, but I'll have to look it up ... okay, Si Robertson.) I mean, I know they're fake to some extent: until a few years ago they were middle-class suburbanites; rednecks, but polo shirt-wearing, golf-playing rednecks. They created their patriarch-bearded backwoodsmen personas for tv.

So possibly Robertson is just doing a character and doesn't believe the nonsense he spouts. (I've long suspected that about Ann Coulter.)


I have also wondered that about Ann Coulter and a few others who sometimes are mentioned in the news, but I'm not really familiar with the Duck Dynasty, because I seldome watch TV.

nighttimer
07-16-2015, 05:12 PM
Atheists may exist, but this much I know. Every case of atheism is temporary. Atheists all make the same mistake of thinking they believe one thing, and Christians believe another. This is thoughtless, and not the case at all. God exists, and this is not my belief, and more than the fact that the computer I'm using is not a belief. God is as solid, as real, as present, as this computer. Considerably more real and solid than anything or anyone on the internet.

Every atheist will meet God face to face.

Should they wear a tie? :Huh:

Anyone who says with 100 percent complete certainty they know what will happen based upon their religious faith is someone to be regarded skeptically and not taken all that seriously.

I don't believe in Duck Dynasty and I don't believe in Jamesaritchie either. I believe in myself.


And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?

No, but tell me all about it. I love hearing war stories.

JimmyB27
07-16-2015, 06:19 PM
And have you ever been in a foxhole, crouching next to a buddy who just had his head explode?

No, but tell me all about it. I love hearing war stories.
The no atheists in foxholes argument in particularly ridiculous. Even if it is true (which it probably isn't), it says a whole lot about human psychology, but bugger all about the existence of god.

veinglory
07-16-2015, 06:32 PM
Hi guys, as this is circling around one response I am going to close it for a while. I would encourage those who came in to represent their atheism to start new threads in this area about how this identity effects your as a writer or your writing.