Scientists discover that atheists might not exist, and that’s not a joke

Discussion in 'Religion' started by Jan Ardena, Apr 8, 2018.

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  1. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    No need to bring religion into it, as not all religions are essentially theistic. Even though they claim to be. There are such things as atheist priests, or pastors who use an idea of God, to rip people off, or other nasty activities.

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    Jan.
     
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  3. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    People will try to wish the opposition away.
     
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  5. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    I think the much rarer would the priest who actually believes in God.
     
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  7. Jan Ardena Valued Senior Member

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    Which is why we don't need to bring religion into it.

    Jan.
     
  8. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    Really? Why is that particular scam off the table?
     
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

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    While I don't agree with the author on all points, most of what is said in the article about how the human mind works is uncontroversial to me. I don't think it all adds up to the scare-quote headline that "atheists might not exist", though.

    Many people are apparently willing to declare themselves atheist but "spiritual". I think those people haven't properly grasped what atheism really means. If you declare that you don't believe in the gods of standard religions, yet you still believe in a vague "higher spiritual power", then you're probably not really an atheist, even if you think that you are. Or, perhaps you're only an atheist in the narrowest sense of being a disbeliever in gods. But that just means you probably haven't thought things through completely, and - let's face it - lots of people don't devote a lot of thought to their religious views.

    Here's another snippet from the article (linked in the opening post):
    If the last sentence is supposed to imply that theists are somehow "more aware" than atheists, then I would dispute that. In fact, as a general comment, my impression is that the author has a pro-theism bias; parts of the article read almost like a defence of theistic thinking.

    Recently I have been reading Michael Shermer's The Believing Brain, and I mostly agree with his general thesis that we all tend to believe first, and only go looking for reasons for our beliefs later. Smart people can believe a lot of dumb things because they do not arrive at those beliefs through a process of reasoning in the first place. Rather, they just start to believe because it fits in with personal or more general human biases of thought. But once they have a belief, smart people are great at finding arguments to defend those beliefs. And most people, most of the time, are resistant to changing their minds, especially about long-standing and deep-seated beliefs they have adopted.

    So, as the article says, we do create realities for ourselves. We invent nice comfortable bubbles around our core beliefs, and we often have good self-protection mechanisms that tend to lead us to ignore or minimise or discount disconfirming evidence for our beliefs.

    The article in the opening post touches on one major reason why people believe in gods. We are indeed pattern seekers, and we're so good at it that we have a tendency to find patterns even where none exist. So, for example, we have a tendency to attribute random occurences and coincidences to the intentional actions of unseen agents. We're primed for belief in gods and spirits - and also for belief in UFOs, conspiracy theories, paranormal powers, astrology, and much else besides.

    Of course, pointing out that human beings are predisposed to believe in the supernatural is very different from establishing that the supernatural is in any way real. The fact that the vast majority of human beings believe in supernatural gods and forces in no way proves the existence of such gods or forces.
     
  10. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    "many people"
     
  11. Capracus Valued Senior Member

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    Apparently many people across the board tend not to correctly self identify their respective belief systems.

    Although the literal definition of “atheist” is “a person who does not believe in the existence of a god or any gods,” according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, 8% of those who call themselves atheists also say they believe in God or a universal spirit. Indeed, 2% say they are “absolutely certain” about the existence of God or a universal spirit. Alternatively, there are many people who fit the dictionary definition of “atheist” but do not call themselves atheists. About three times as many Americans say they do not believe in God or a universal spirit (9%) as say they are atheists (3%).

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2016/06/01/10-facts-about-atheists/
     
  12. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    "Atheist" is such a terribly hard word to parse out, I'm not surprised religious people get discombobulated over it.
     
  13. Baldeee Valued Senior Member

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    Your conclusion does not follow.
    One does not need to be a believer in God to "have a better insight to those things".
    Afterall, the atheist may have the right insight, and theists simply have it wrong.

    Do you think that those who have the better insight into unicorns are those that believe unicorns to exist?
    Or perhaps it is those that have the better insight that do not believe, precisely because of that better insight?

    Of course, as a theist yourself, you would want to think that the theist insight is superior, and that since you hold belief in God you would like to think it means you have a better understanding, and because you have a better understanding you believe in God etc.
    All very circular of you.
    And they are wrong: there are some among us who simply hold no belief in an "unmoved transcendental cause of all cause", sentient or otherwise.
     
  14. sideshowbob Sorry, wrong number. Valued Senior Member

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    Speaking for myself, I grew up as a theist more or less by default. The idea that my parents' beliefs might be unfounded didn't occur to me until I was a teenager.

    The notion of an "unmoved transcendental cause of all cause" is something I didn't hear until much later - and it still seems to me as a made-up excuse for all of the problems with the gods that people have invented.
     
  15. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

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    I have a friend who claims that the huge majority who believe in the existence of one or more deities is evidence for their existence.

    One of my favorite fictional characters is the Master of Sinanju who said
    I tell friends
     
  16. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    Argument from popularity is one of the primary fallacies, Dinosaur.
     
  17. exchemist Valued Senior Member

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    What evidence do you have that Dawkins believes in that Tegmark/Shapiro crap?
     
  18. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    He said he was "sure", what more do you need?

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  19. iceaura Valued Senior Member

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    The article implies that if you redefine deity to include whatever is implied by any metaphysical belief, then there is no atheist position held by human beings.
    The study reported in that article did not test for that particular belief, or measure it. One wonders if any such research could.
    Many professed and accepted theists, even, hold no such belief as that.
    Many people who do accept that as a meaningfully suggestive description by metaphor, rather than a literally oxymoronic confusion of terminology, also regard themselves as atheistic - and are regarded as atheistic by others, and have in fact no nameable God or anything deity-like that can be assigned a noun.

    The "No True Scotsman" argument against the existence of atheism depends, crucially, on flexibility in one's conception of deity. Plant it firmly like that, and true atheists pop up all over the place.
     
  20. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    First , to call Tegmarks work "crap" seems a little premature. There are plenty of serious scientists who are fascinated by Tegmark's proposition.

    Secondly, it was in response to Jan Ardena's OP post # 1
    But I must admit I was making a leap by comparing Tegmark's Mathematical Universe to a form of an abstract non-sentient mathematical Pseudo-Intelligence running the universe. Either way this would of course rule out a "sentient metaphysical Creator, which would support Dawkins' atheist viewpoint and vice versa.

    IMO, there are two choices of an "a priori causality" for the emergence of our Universe.
    a) a sentient motivated creator (Theism)
    b) a non-sentient mathematical function (Atheism)

    Being that Dawkins is a hard Atheist (99.9 % sure), it stands to reason that in principle his viewpoint is compatible with Tegmark's viewpoint.

    But I will admit that I have no direct evidence that Dawkins is a supporter of Tegmark's work.
     
  21. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    This sad old bullshit again? "You're really a theist because if you weren't then my own position would be on very thin ground!" Which fallacy it that, again?
     
  22. Write4U Valued Senior Member

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    If I understand you, IMO, the fallacy that the universe was created by a supernatural sentient being which has declared that humans shall "dominate" the Earth, which believe is pure BS.

    An ironic monologue by George Carlin about "Saving the Planet" and "Sanctity of life.

     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2018
  23. Gawdzilla Sama Valued Senior Member

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    What you said sounds true, but not remotely like what I said.
     
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