Are we born atheists?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by aaqucnaona, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

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    "Most inclusively, atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist."

    "The term atheism originated from the Greek ἄθεος (atheos), meaning "without god""

    Ask yourself whether these definitions apply to a newborn?
     
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  3. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    With this derailment into problems of slavery, agricultural machinery and whatnot, you are simply detracting from the original point:
    that modern Western civilization is racing into a social, economical and environmental abyss, with the way it abuses natural resources.

    Somehow, ancient people were able to live for thousands of years without seriously affecting the environment they depended on.
    Modern people can't say that for themselves.
     
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  5. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

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    So are we to believe that an ant queen doesn't possess consciouness? Why do people hold consciouness up so high. Does the double slit experiment seem to reveal awareness? Does a biochemical system that defends its boundaries not exert awareness of incursion?

    I would say that definitely all mammals are conscious. Where does the boundary lie? Lizards seem conscious? Do the crocodiles in the river know what they do, or are they simply following genetic programming? Aren't humans simply following genetic programming. Are flowers biochemically aware that they need to form certain structures? Is it degrees of consciouness that is more relevant, if there is such a thing?

    Why do we try to separate ourselves from the universe?
     
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  7. universaldistress Extravagantly Introverted ... Valued Senior Member

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    It's simply a matter of numbers. The inventions highlighted allowed people to become so very dominant within the world.
    Can you imagine how the West would look if we still adopted centuries old attitudes to war and trade? As we encroach more and more upon each others space we have and will have to become more tolerant (this applies to the environment too). Small town mentality is inherently more racist than multicultural city mentality.

    It's numbers that cause environmental issues. Ancients would be more destructive than us given the power. Environmental morality, in any large-scale and meaningful sense is a modern development.

    To say that a sparsely populated earth, populated by murderous ideologies was somehow better than the modern world is ridiculous.

    We will learn and evolve our way around all problems, or we will perish.
     
    Last edited: Apr 20, 2012
  8. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Gee, that's soothing. :bugeye:
     
  9. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    That's a good question!
     
  10. aaqucnaona This sentence is a lie Valued Senior Member

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    I kinda agree with you there, Wynn. We are like a child who has been given a years pocketmoney and he is buying 10 kilos of candy with it. We gotta change our habits.
     
  11. spidergoat Liddle' Dick Tater Valued Senior Member

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    It's because western mythology separates us from the world. We don't return to the world in death, we go to a land of pie in the sky. We don't come from the world, the world was made for us and then we were placed in it. Eastern religions are much different in this respect.
     
  12. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    Sure. I nonetheless find it to be an interesting challenge to acknowledge that there are indeed many things that are mysterious about existence, but then to call upon science and philosophy to balance out our natural predisposition to invoke agency to account for it all. As Andy Thomson has remarked, Atheism tends to be a cognitively more difficult position to reach because we are, to an extent, working in opposition to instincts which have been shaped by evolution. But if we'd never decided to try to do that, we would never have learned so many wonderful things about how the world really works. The scientific method is most definitely a path to truth about the nature of reality. Perhaps not the ultimate truth (although I certainly wouldn't discount the possibility), but truth nonetheless. The history of science clearly demonstrates that relentlessly tackling elusive problems leads to explanations, so what real reason is there to assume that the nature of consciousness is beyond it's scope? Of course the answer is obvious. Because some people want it to be.

    Anyway, the point is that discussions with the theistically inclined provide an opportunity for me to refine and expand my perspective on the issue to some extent. Further, although wynn certainly seems single-minded in her pursuit of theological truths, she definitely seems agnostic about a lot the secondary considerations, so I feel certain that she gains perspective from such discussions as well.

    If by natural explanation we mean something that doesn't include unphysical links somewhere along the chain of cause and effect, then sure, I don't really think there can be any other kind. Not until someone figures out how to solve the problem of causal interaction anyway, which I tend to think is not, even in principle, one that can be solved. I feel that everything that exists (or at least everything that is causally related) necessarily needs to be part of the same class of phenomena.
     
  13. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    I say the following in all seriousness and honesty: the more I learn about the nature of the consciousness, and the nature of the universe itself, the more I get the sense that everything is more intimately related than it initially appeared to be. In fact it's obvious really. I guess what I really mean is that I view it all with a greater humility, a greater reverence, and I feel a greater sense of oneness with it all.

    The great American physicist Richard Feynman once said in an interview:

     
  14. Balerion Banned Banned

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    I would only disagree on the point that atheism goes against our natural instinct. I would emphatically agree that it is a more difficult position to reach, but only because it requires a certain level of education. I don't mean that in the schoolhouse sense, just that one cannot take the intellectual position of atheism without the knowledge of some vital truths, such as the history of the major religious texts (I've heard it said that it's impossible to come out of Seminary school as anything but an atheist

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    ) and that magic does not exist, etc..

    I don't think we're so much predisposed to attribute agency to everything, as agency is simply the first good explanation for the unknown. It's like the old Creationist questionnaire: "Have you ever seen a watch that did not require a watchmaker..." With such a limited understanding of the universe, agency made sense. This is of course strictly from a philosophical standpoint; otherwise intelligent people can delude themselves into the belief that their faith and their modern understanding are reconcilable.

    She's a kind of Buddhist, from what I gather, so no, she's certainly not a run-of-the-mill Christian apologist, and does not subscribe to that image of God or spirituality, but ultimately her tactics are evasive and annoying. But if it helps you, go for it!

    You may very well be right, and I'm in no position to argue. It goes without saying that I'm just riffing here.
     
  15. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    ??
    I'd say that atheism is in roundabout the default for run-of-the-mill people.
    I think theism is far more difficult to reach, in fact, I find it impossible to arrive at theism simply by speculation.

    Speculation can produce natural theology. But in comparison to revealed religion, natural theology is merely a shadow.

    It's not clear how Thomson and the like arrive at the conclusion that people are naturally theistically inclined.
    It seems that they are working with very primitive notions of theism, if they conclude that it is widely spread.


    I don't think so at all - at least in the sense that relentlessly tackling elusive problems would lead to comprehensive explanations.
    If anyhting, relentlessly tackling elusive problems seems to lead to frustration, frustration narrows our scope, and thus creates an illusion of certainty.


    To go with your line of reasoning: Why do some people want the nature of consciousness to be beyond empiricist science?


    I and "theistically inclined"? Then I think you, too, have a rather naive understanding of theism.
     
  16. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    But so does Western atheism and science, with their ideas about how "humans transcend nature" or how we are "insignificant in the Universe."
     
  17. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Have you noticed that you are not being payed for being my PR guy?
     
  18. Grumpy Curmudgeon of Lucidity Valued Senior Member

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    wynn

    The evidence of history is littered with the wreckage of civilizations who used up the natural resources of their territories and then collapsed due to starvation, ancient men were, if anything, worse stewards of the Earth largely because they didn't understand the science of agriculture. Modern Western civilization is better able to sustain our current standards of wellbeing for the individual, ancient men would consider the plight of the least of our citizens as being as good as royalty received in their own time. When the upper limit of your population is largely determined by the number of people who didn't starve in a year it is called "Subsistence Farming", and when not starving consumes most of the labor and resources, you have little left with which to worry about being civilized, except for the very few at the top of the pecking order, the ones who have time and resources to be educated and the ones writing the history of that time. Mankind survived the starvation, or at least the more fortunate and wealthy did. But they did so on the labor and deaths of vast numbers who's lives were short, brutal and controlled by the church/state with promises of a better afterlife if they obeyed in the present one(or if that failed, there's a club). Western Civilization has many problems but as individuals and as a society we are better than any previous civilization at dealing with them, that includes in dealing with our resources in a sustainable way.

    Grumpy

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  19. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

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    The myth of the noble savage and warm, fuzzy accounts of past cultures got a boost in the 20th century from various offspring-ing trends of postmodern thought. Science readers at least got treated to a bit of balanced historic reality by New World and Australian aborigines contributing in significant ways to animal extinctions; Incan priests buying young children whose heads got bashed-in as sacrifices, and an Aztec bloodfest of heart-rippings at the top of a temple that numbered in the tens of thousands of war/etc prisoners.
     
  20. Balerion Banned Banned

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    Hey! I never said I was doing this pro bono!
     
  21. Rav Valued Senior Member

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    I didn't actually say that Andy Thomson claimed that people are naturally theistically inclined. I was clearly contrasting atheism with the tendency to invoke agency to account for the unknown. There's a difference. Of course I believe that our tendency to invoke agency is one of the factors (among many) that leads to the development of conceptions of gods, but the point is that I didn't use the phrase theistically inclined until I was referencing people like you.

    And you know what? You are theistically inclined. In other words, you quite obviously lean towards:

    theism

    Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.


    Perhaps you'd like to explain how your more sophisticated notions of theism somehow demonstrate that you're not actually inclined towards any sort of theism at all.
     
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    We're not talking about the myth of the noble savage, but about things like this:

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    The ancient people were not able to produce such things.
     
  23. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

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    Someone said that the difference between a philosopher and a religious man is that the philosopher deals in expendable theories, and the religious man puts his life on the line.

    In this sense, I am merely a philosopher.

    Also note that there is no theist that I know of who considers me a theist or theistically inclined.
    It is only some atheists and agnostics who consider me so.

    Theism is foreign to me, a mystery. Sure, I can present many arguments in line with natural theology, and also argue some from actual religions - but this is not theism. It's just an abstract intellectual capacity that I have, nothing more.

    Actual theism requires that one put one's life on the line in the name of one's theistic beliefs.
    And I clearly don't do that.
     

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