A Request Directed to Sciforums' "Atheists"

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Tiassa, Mar 21, 2014.

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  1. Bells Staff Member

    What do you want 'atheists' to offer exactly?

    It isn't a movement or an ideology. It's just a lack of belief in God and it is based on each individual's beliefs or lack of belief.

    There are numerous secular and atheist charity organisations and groups around the world. Such as UNICEF, Médecins Sans Frontières , Red Cross, etc.. Donations from such groups are not dependent on the receiver of said charities complying to any religious or non-religious ideology.

    Is that what you mean by offer?
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  3. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Most of us aren't offering anything. Evangelizing atheism is a useless crusade, since the vast majority of religionists become incapable of logical thought when the subject of discourse begins to get close to their sacred, irrational, childish beliefs.
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  5. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    I would say that's not true. Many people are now coming out as having no religious affiliation due to the influence of the internet. I've heard many conversion stories, so it's not at all useless.
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  7. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Atheism is a family of beliefs about religion, even if atheist beliefs aren't typically religious beliefs, per-se. Belief in the non-existence of supernatural deities, especially the Judeo-Christian-Islamic 'God' character, is kind of definitive of what modern-day atheism is.

    A more realistic and better justifiable vision of the universe, arguably.

    To me, the main interest in atheist-theist arguments is philosophical.

    What do theists mean when they say that they 'believe in God'? What are they claiming exists when they say that 'God exists'? What justification do they have for asserting the existence of whatever supernatural and divine reality they believe in?

    Inquiries like that help me better understand what theists are up to. And what's more, they typically introduce important epistemological issues concerning what kinds of knowing and what kinds of objects of knowing are possible for human beings.
  8. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    I think that in some cases it is.

    That's just it. Real-life expressions of atheism often expand into all kind of quasi-political positions regarding a whole variety of different social issues. When that happens, atheists can become very ideological.
  9. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    I'm not sure what you're saying here. Most people have ideological positions, and some are religionists and some are atheists. The former group sometimes decide to adopt positions dictated by their faith, such as trying to deny minorities their basic human rights. The second group will have positions much as sîdergoat describes, not derived at all from 2000 yro or 1400yro stories but which are relevant to modern society, and which they have thought about and decided are correct. What is your problem with a rational discussion about that?
  10. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

    As I said, atheists and atheist movements can be ideological, but atheism itself isn't.
  11. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    Yazata: From your Post #224
    Posters keep making claims that atheism is some form of belief. It is a term created due to theistic beliefs, without which it would not exist.

    The following are the standard definitions:

    Theist: A believer in a god or gods.
    Atheist: A person who does not believe in any god or gods.
    Agnostic: A person who claims that he cannot decide whether or not any god exists.​

    Every time a discussion of any of the above terms is started, there are those who make up their own definitions of one or more of the terms:

    Weak or strong atheist
    Agnostic atheist
    Agnostic deist
    What ever.​

    Those who are not content with the standard dictionary definitions should describe their point of view, instead of making up what they think is commonly understood terminology.
  12. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    Yeah right. I think most could care less about it. As I told the Mormons who knocked on my door: Do you really care? I just don't see them flogging atheist in my part of the world. Of course, most don't wear it on their sleeve. I think that would be a great experiment, wearing a shirt with "Atheist" printed on it, just to see the outcome

    Also, the suffix at the end seems to suggest an ideology.
  13. Balerion Banned Banned

    Is theism an ideology?
  14. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    There's no middle ground with extremists. What "ism" allows for secularism and religious faith? Or is that possible?
  15. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member

    From Google: the body of doctrine, myth, belief, etc., that guides an individual, social movement, institution, class, or large group. 2. such a body of doctrine, myth, etc., with ...
  16. Bowser Namaste Valued Senior Member


    Thanks for the link. Yes, that's what I'm talking about.
  17. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member


    Atheist Shoes, a company based out of Berlin that sells shoes with the phrases “Ich Bin Athiest” and “Darwin Loves” stamped into the soles, recently conducted an informal study that yielded some disturbing results. The company sent two packages using the United States Postal Service to the same address, one sealed with atheist-branded packing tape and the other without. They did this with 178 packages sent to 49 states. According to Atheist Shoes, the packages with the branded-tape took on average three days longer to arrive than packages with plain tape, and were ten times more likely to disappear.


    Bullied for Not Believing in God
  18. Yazata Valued Senior Member

    Atheists make statements. Presumably they believe that what they say is true.

    Belief that supernatural deities, especially the Judeo-Christian-Islamic 'God' character, don't exist in anything more than a fictional sense, is more or less definitive of what modern-day atheism is.

    In most cases there's a larger body of belief accompanying that ontological core. There's typically an accompanying idea that theistic belief in the existence of 'God' is unfounded and unjustifiable. (That introduces the epistemological issues.) Sometimes (though not always) there's a further feeling that theistic belief is not only factually false, it's wrong in some moral sense as well. It's a belief that people should not embrace. (That introduces ethical questions about belief.) Sometimes (again not always) atheists seem to have a very dim and hostile view of human religiosity in general. (That raises questions about the nature and definition of religion more broadly and cross-culturally.)

    Yes, that's probably true. That's why I think that the word 'atheism' typically serves to label vaguely-defined clouds of beliefs about religion, even if atheism isn't itself a religious belief, per-se. It typically centers on disbelief in whatever theistic deities are widely embraced in the atheist's own culture (that's what fixes use of the term) and then typically expands outwards from there in ways that are often idiosyncratic, personal to individual atheists.
  19. Sorcerer Put a Spell on you Registered Senior Member

    Interesting. I wouldn't use the word 'belief' in this context because it conflates it with belief in a god of whatever kind. Rather, having reviewed the evidence you come to the conclusion that god doesn't exist.

    'There's typically an accompanying idea that theistic belief in the existence of 'God' is unfounded and unjustifiable'. That's the same thing.

    'Sometimes (though not always) there's a further feeling that theistic belief is not only factually false, it's wrong in some moral sense as well. It's a belief that people should not embrace'; Two things here: provided people keep the stuff to themselves then I don't care what they believe. Imo it becomes immoral when they try and inluence public policy in a way that I would view as such, like taking away people's rights.

    'Sometimes (again not always) atheists seem to have a very dim and hostile view of human religiosity in general.' Really the same as the above point: they tend to interfere where they should not.

    I think I covered your last point already. It's not disbelief but a review of the evidence, and by the way it is not related to one's own culture: none of the gods are remotely plausible.

    (I hope no one minds that I quoted the stuff the way I did.)
  20. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    On Solidarity and Patina

    An Overdue Appearance

    Really, I didn't want to interfere with the wonderfully diverse discussion that grew in the wake of that topic post.

    At this point, I would look at an exchange between Bowser, Bells, and then Fraggle Rocker:

    Bowser: Atheist have nothing more to offer other than simply a denial of religion?

    Bells: What do you want 'atheists' to offer exactly?

    Fraggle Rocker: Most of us aren't offering anything. Evangelizing atheism is a useless crusade, since the vast majority of religionists become incapable of logical thought when the subject of discourse begins to get close to their sacred, irrational, childish beliefs.

    This describes the whole of the problem.

    To answer Bowser: Of course they do ... er ... um ... in theory.

    And Bells: Consistency.

    And Fraggle Rocker: The causation you describe is not the exclusive source of the effect.

    Minor details. That's all.

    Large implications.

    What is the common aspect of atheism by which it has any value as an identity politic or label? "I am an atheist". Okay. That tells me something. "We are atheists." That tells me nothing, and here's why.

    One common behavior among atheists in the public discussion of atheism is that they have worked very hard to rhetorically seal themselves off from any real accountability as political or philosophical players; this is generally accidental, but it is a striking result. For instance, in the past I have inquired about what happens when a religionist converts to atheism; the inability of atheists to answer a central question—the resolution of which would actually help them communicate the problems of theism—often ends up in what looks very much like a refusal. This refusal is problematic for diverse reasons.

    In the first place is the superficial arrogance. In the second, such a refusal really does appear to support that stupid religionistic assertion that there is no morality without God; or, at least, it makes the question of right and wrong seem very, very arbitrary. And in the third, it does nothing to facilitate understanding among theists.

    The lack of pathos is striking. When a theist abandons God, the linchpin of their moral structure disappears, leaving their sense of right and wrong a house of cards susceptible to the slightest disturbance. I've asked identifying atheists before to describe what they would offer that theist in order to help him through this transition. And the answer is always the same, that atheism isn't about ideology.

    Which is fine. For any given atheist.

    But it's also a really cheap answer. It suggests that the atheist doesn't give a damn about the theist except to have someone to complain about.

    Additionally, there are those who will respond to discussion of atheism as a movement or cause that there is no movement or cause. This despite the fact of having formed a theistic religion for atheists, relying on common identification in order to show religious discrimination and injustice in courts, and even forming congregations and raising funds for further congregational growth.

    Okay, fine. There is no cause or movement.

    Then there is no common identification.

    This is a logical consequence. If there is no solidarity, then there is no solidarity. We cannot speak of atheists or atheism as a movement. The only plural acceptable, then, is atheists as a collection of individuals, much like you might notice bleach blondes, or people in leather jackets. Aside from the superficial commonality, there is no connection aside from the most apparent categories or classifications.

    But neither do I really think this is a result people deliberately calculate.

    To consider this community as an example, atheism seems to be an identity politic asserted for the specific purpose of throwing stones.

    Furthermore, consider the functional complaint so many people have about religion. Watching their conduct, you wonder which side of that religion they're on. But they do think themselves pious and righteous regardless of whatever version of reality happens to accurately describe them. When it comes to politicians in the U.S. arguing that it is un-Christian to feed the hungry—yes, that has happened in recent months—and in issues of gay rights we might appeal to their faith, or we might criticize their hypocrisy and frailty.

    Criticizing the hypocrisy and frailty is one thing, but look at the niche our atheists here at Sciforums have carved out. It would appear they're trying to insulate themselves against the sort of slings and arrows they prefer to wield. And that is what it is; it is up to each individual atheist—after all, some do put their philosophy front and center. Bells, for instance, doesn't tack atheism onto every moral assertion she makes, but her moral logic is anything but hidden in diverse discussions around Sciforums. And Fraggle Rocker, despite the occasional harsh statement such that we're all prone to making from time to time, leaves no mystery about the logical structures of his moral outlook. That's part of the reason I'm happy to use that exchange as a springboard.

    But I can say without any doubt that odd topic post was a brief tantrum in the wake of watching some of our most vocal atheistic advocates rolling out an amazing amount of tinfoil; it would seem that in this way they expect to be insulated, as well—since atheism is simply an identity politic based on the irrationality of any proposition of God, there is no further obligation to be rational beyond that. It's pretty cush work if you can get it.

    And, really, when it comes to the challenges facing the human endeavor as a result of genuine religious irrationality, it's not helpful. For instance, if the issue is other people causing harm through reckless belief structures, is it that one finds that condition problematic, or that they want to claim that empowerment for their own privilege? It's not always clear, according to some individuals' conduct and arguments, whether relief or attainment is the goal. If atheists as individuals want the empowerment of solidarity between them, they also must account for those factions of irrationality and bigotry; discussing them as logical processes is one thing, but that's not going to happen as long as the focus is on the most superficial, lazy aspects of alleged religious faith.

    As Bells noted, "It isn't a movement or an ideology. It's just a lack of belief in God and it is based on each individual's beliefs or lack of belief."

    But if an individual's beliefs are irrational or arbitrary, that particular person's atheism becomes a distinction without a difference.

    And, yes, people do get to account for it. If we count UNICEF, MSF, and other such groups as "atheist" for the lack of any specific religious declaration or affiliation, then, yes, the crooks and morons of the world who happen to be godless are similarly "atheist".

    And those who would work to insulate atheism from any critical examination? That, too, is similarly "atheist".

    And individuals who identify as atheist ranting like the most hypernoiac pseudo-religious wingnuts out there are also similarly "atheist".

    Which, to bring us 'round the mulberry bush. Prominent atheistic voices pitching paranoid tinfoil tantrums really makes "atheism" look bad. Poe's law applies to you, too. Please stop slowing progress.
  21. Balerion Banned Banned

    Can you offer anything more than this ambiguous, insulting drivel above? I mean, we get it, you don't like atheists. But surely there's more to the story than this vague diatribe, no?
  22. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    In response to your comment to Bowser: In theory people who are atheists offer more, but not by dint of their atheism, but of whatever else they may adhere to or not.

    To your comment to Bells: The only consistency you will find across all atheists is their lack of belief in God. Do you think this make the label less meaningful?

    And as for your comment to Fraggle Rocker: does it need to be exclusive to be worthy?
  23. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Like "biochemist" and "violinist"?

    Which is the tack I usually take in a place of science like this forum. The fundamental premise upon which the entire scientific method is predicated is: the natural universe is a closed system whose behavior can be predicted by empirical observation of its present and past behavior. This premise has been tested intensively, and often with great hostility, for half a millennium and has never come close to being falsified.

    To claim that it is false (i.e. that an invisible, illogical supernatural universe exists from which incredible forces and fantastic creatures emerge at random intervals for the express purpose of fucking up the behavior of the natural universe) then becomes an extraordinary assertion subject to the Rule of Laplace: Extraordinary assertions must be supported by extraordinary evidence before anyone is obliged to treat them with respect.

    The religionists have no extraordinary evidence... the best they have ever presented was a tortilla, out of hundreds of millions fried every year, with a scorch mark that was said to be the image of a person mentioned in the Bible, of whom no portraits exist against which to compare it.

    But even worse, they don't even have any ordinary evidence. They insist that their belief requires only irrational faith in something which, specifically, has no evidence.

    This places religion in the realm of childish foolishness. What is there to distinguish faith in God from faith in Santa Claus, save the fact that your parents never bothered to tell you the truth about God? To the contrary, for several years they took elaborate measures in order to provide counterfeit evidence for the existence of Santa!

    No. But it's more than enough. Why attempt to argue logically with someone who loses his logical abilities when the subject in question is broached?

    Of course there are, for example, brilliant Jesuits who give an argument along the lines of, "If there is no God there's still nothing wrong with believing in him, but if there is one and you don't believe in him, you're in deep shit." My problem with this argument is that it could be used to support any kind of woo-woo.

    In my case the reason I can't answer the question is that in 70 years I've never met a religionist who gave up his supernatural beliefs. I know plenty who stopped going to church and no longer argue the existence of God, but that's not the same as not believing in him.

    Occasionally a theist-turned-atheist pops up on SciForums, but not often enough to generalize. The last one, as I recall, was more worried about the impact on his family than the philosophical issues.

    That's easy to rebut. Just look at the front page of any newspaper and see what outrages the devout have committed in the last 24 hours.

    As I've often made clear, I don't go around trying to convert religionists. In the urban regions of the USA, most churchgoers are more interested in the sense of community than in the doctrine, and their preachers collaborate by seldom injecting fire and brimstone into their sermons. The way they use the Bible, it doesn't really matter that all of its stories are metaphors rather than history. Metaphors are powerful! I have absolutely no quarrel with these people, and they have none with me.

    But that's what metaphor is all about! It's a distillation of the experiences of our species, streamlined to make the morality clearer. You get the same thing from legends about King Arthur, Robin Hood and Paul Bunyan. You get the same things from our modern "legends" about Winnie the Pooh, Frodo Baggins and Kermit the Frog.

    How many people have you interviewed who actually reported that phenomenon? When they give up their religion their goal is to get away from the notion that everything is either true or false because there's no such thing as metaphor. The lessons they learned are still valid, but no longer carry the burden of belief in preposterous bullshit.

    On a forum like this one, it's important to relate this to science. Religion is antiscience because there is no rational search for the truth. Reason is our species's most important resource. To abandon it is to revert to the Stone Age, except even those people used rationality to solve their problems.
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