Theists and atheists: Reluctant bedfellows

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by lightgigantic, Mar 25, 2009.

  1. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    This could perhaps be slotted in the religious sub forum but I put it here because its probably a better medium to discuss it what the "full implication of a/theism" would entail.

    Interesting article about how, if a person fully implemented their stance on a/theism, there would be no argument.
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  3. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    I agree with that statement wholeheartedly.

    But you'll notice that that statement also covers many different subjects, not just religious beliefs. I think the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is one such international subject where the same would be true.

    Baron Max
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  5. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member


    Certainly an interesting article.
    Thanks for the post.

    Given what's written here, sure. It does, in a limited sense, dissolve the harsh divisive walls between the two positions. I say limited because this maneuver only (and specifically) works on the nature of the dialectic, and not on the epistemic differences.

    I also disagree with the entirety of the 3rd paragraph (of the material you quoted). The author is reducing the disagreement into a political one (which, again, I think is skirting the real issue at hand).

    And (since it's mentioned in the quoted material), Lacan couldn't have been more wrong.

    Still, cool stuff.

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  7. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    perhaps because I omitted the 2nd paragraph of the article

    I'm not sure what you are addressing as specifically political, much less what the "real issue" is
    wrong about the connection between "anything is permitted" and neurosis or wrong about how the full application of atheism requires "anything to be permitted"?
  8. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member


    Snipped from the quoted material:

    "?Atheism, when argued against theism, becomes not merely a belief, but a cause."

    Note the usage of the term "cause".
    In that very line, he recomposes the issue to be a political one.

    The real issue of course, being an epistemic one.

    Lacan erroneously dissociated ethical behaviour from atheism.
    Or, if you prefer, necessarily related ethical behaviour with theism.

    Of course, in this, he was just as silly as Dostoevsky.

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  9. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    probably because I omitted some of the paragraphs that present the idea of atheism being required to be a "cause" because there are some inherent problems in the application of it.

    The author establishes that a key hierarchical difference between a/theism is given at the end

    "either somebody is up there watching, or not, and both are quite unsettling."

    Its hard to understand how these views of universal order don't infringe on ethical issues.
  10. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member


    Fair enough.
    Admittedly, any given ideologically-applicable philosophical stance could lead to political behaviour, but not necessarily so....

    Personally, I only find the former to be unsettling.

    I can't understand how they could (not that I accept that these views represent a notion of 'universal order'...).

    Alas, the nature of Ethics isn't quite germane to this discussion... so I'll curtail making any more comments along this line of thought.
  11. swarm Registered Senior Member

    I find it an existential question and not yet an epistemic one.

    There must be something to know before you can judge how well you know it.
  12. CheskiChips Banned Banned

    In Hebrew there is no word for religion. Only words for the philosophies, deeds, behaviors and actions. "Jewish" comes from "Judah", meaning 'from the tribe of Judah'...which very few know what tribe they are from except Levi.

    In general what many atheists would comment as "religious behavior" I would deem "Common sense". One they would deem "repetitious mindless behavior" I call "Tried and true methods".
  13. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    But ideally, theists are neither merely lawyers or merely philosophers, no?

    But religion has an aim, namely true love of God.
    The aim of religion isn't simply to make others believe what you believe, so that then you yourself can feel better (although this can be a part of a religious person's motivations and actions too).

    I don't see how that follows?

    Normally people warn a person when they see this person is going toward something that is dangerous, but seems unaware of it.
    The more important the danger, the more adamant the warning.

    That is like saying that all the great religious, political, social etc. leaders that have ever lived could not fully accept the validity of their own positions.

    In fact, the same goes for the writer of that article I am quoting.

    Why do people talk?
    Is self-preservation (as we usually know it, ie. fighting for the recognition of your person among others, without any reference to a higher goal or instance that obligates all) truly the highest humans are capable of?
  14. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member

    I agree, contingent upon how one chooses to catregorize existential problems.
    In my mind, existential problems are either epistemic, or ontological.
  15. Roman Banned Banned

    I find that much atheism-theism debating is largely political, as Glaucon points out. Shouldn't be much of a surprise, though, as most ramifications of religion manifest as political (and most atheists, being human, are also inherently political).
  16. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    I think the author was making a distinction between knowledge (philosophy) and some particular end that manipulates knowledge to suit an agenda (aka lawyer).
    Ideally, theism is a knowledge based claim, so it belongs to the former (or at the very least, religion without philosophy simply makes for fanaticism .... at best)

    but a precursor to loving god is knowing god

    Even in ordinary dealings, when another speaks in an irreverent manner of one's beloved it does tend to warrant a response ... of course we generally don't experience the irreverence of disbelief in existence ... hence the absurd example of the chair

    what is it exactly that one is capable of "saving" another from?

    There was an argument posed by Paul (I think?). It was a criticism of persons who worship god by providing small little offerings of food etc. Basically his argument boiled down to "what need does god have for accepting food?". Ironically, taking that argument to its logical conclusion, one could also challenge Paul "what need does god have for you speaking on his behalf?".

    I bring this point up, not to suggest that the pinnacle of religious perfection is to do nothing, but rather, to hint at what it is exactly that god is "accepting" from one's service. He is not looking out for a material remuneration, but rather the sincerity behind our endeavours. IOW, from god's perspective, there is absolutely no difference between a food offering and a philosophical treatise, since god ultimately has no requirement for either.

    BTW, just to clarify, acting on the platform of "religious argument" is not a fall down. At the risk of getting technical, some commentaries on the vedas make reference to three classes of practitioners.
    The first is basically your "place-of-worship" visiting fanatic who is neither particularly skilled at dealing with other practitioners or people in general and whose "religiosity" is by and large limited to the physical perimeter of the place of worship.
    The second is a person who treats the innocent with compassion, is friendly towards the other practitioners, displays love towards god and avoids the envious. (IOW there is a marked introduction of applied philosophy which results in knowledge of god).
    The third having perfected their knowledge of god, sees that god is in control of every aspect of the universe and that everything is "running to plan", despite what externally might appear like chaos between the extremes of living and dying. From such a position there is "no preaching", although they may come down to the second platform simply to instruct others ... kind of like a parent may participate in the games of a child for the sake of the child (IOW they recognize the need and validity of persons to be on the second platfrom).

    Even though there is reference to these stages, to be situated rightly in the second stage is sufficient to grant perfection (freedom from the clutches of nescience) ... generally of course you see large numbers of the first category, quite a few of the second variety, while those of the third stage are quite rare indeed, and tend to be only noted if they re-establish religious principles by coming down to the second platform. IOW, while there might be a numerical/population requirement for those of the first and second stage to have a visible presence in this world, there is none for the third.

    how so?
    not all political/philosophical agendas culminate in a holistic view

    fighting for that goal has value because it strengthens one's own values. It is at least my personal experience that the time I am engaged in religious debate may or may not be of benefit to others, but it is certainly of benefit to me.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2009
  17. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    probably because you call on some sort of means to divert the final call , namely "anything is permitted", which would distinguish you from a "complete" atheist.
    If you have a philosophical authority that places one's individual self at the top of the moral hierarchy, obligations of responsibility ensue, hence "anything is permissible".
  18. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member


    If there's any means by which I avoid asserting that "anything is permitted" I would have to say I'm not sure about that. I do think that 'anything is permitted'. However, there are consequences to choosing to do 'anything'.
    That's why we have laws.

    In any case, I'm interested to hear why you think this distinguishes me from a 'complete' atheist (not that I disagree with you..).

    Interesting. I would tend to say that the exact opposite would result form such a placement.
  19. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    So if you don't get caught, no problem.

    aka "tolerant hedonist"
    I guess first we would have to agree about what the world view "anything is permissible" entails.

    a responsibility to one's own personal agenda still remains a responsibility
  20. glaucon tending tangentially Registered Senior Member


    If you wish...
    I prefer 'moral relativist'.

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    Very true.
    I think we are forced to assume (given the context of the article) that what is meant here is that there can be no contraventions of an ethical and/or moral code.

    Let me know how you feel on this.
    Realistically, I suppose we could start a new thread on this line of thought...

    Exactly what I was thinking.
    Even if you are atop the system, you're not beyond it.
    Your very situation is entirely contingent upon that of all others. So, it behooves you to tread carefully...
  21. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    you say "tomartows" I say "tomaytoes"

    we'll see how it goes for a post or two
    I was thinking that it suggests since the common thread between the different types of ethical outlooks one could vouch for are determined by one's "tolerance" as a hedonist (or "relativity" as a moralist), the quality of values can vacillate greatly(how's that for a mixed metaphor?).
    IOW if one hold's that it is most despicable to perform X, there is no reason why X can not be held as the most beneficial act tomorrow.
    Hence the suggestion that a complete lack of reference points for the navigation of moral agendas = neurotic

    Occupying the top of the moral hierarchy shares no parallel with the hierarchy of potency or power in this world.
  22. wynn ˙ Valued Senior Member

    I got the impression that the author of the article assumed that philosophy is neutral and superior to both theism and atheism. He says, among other things: A philosopher, however, should attempt to undermine the debate itself; to show where both sides are wrong. How can a philosopher know where either side is wrong, unless he actually practices each side and gains the realizations that come with the practice?
    Surely, there are some arguments in a theist/atheist debate that a philosopher can show are 'wrong' - but according to what standard of philosophy are they wrong? The 'neutral philosopher's standards'?
    Take for example some philosophers at this forum who like to point out that reference to scripture is a fallacy of appealing to authority. Is referencing to scripture really a fallacy? Anyway, I'm not asking this question here, just giving an example.

    Of course. Blind surrender cannot last.

    Left to themselves, one person cannot really save another from anything. But even in worldly culture, the point is made that people need leaders, someone to inspire them, to teach them - this is why we have schools, governments, committees and such. Scriptures point out the importance and power of a spiritual teacher. So qualified individuals are generally deemed to play an important role in how a person's life will unfold, both materially and spiritually.

    I think I understand what you are saying here.

    However, the article keeps saying how there should actually be no theist/atheist debate and how the mark of the one who truly believes is that he feels no urge to convince, for to convince others is again merely the avoidance of convincing yourself.
    I thought about what the writer's stance on absolute truth might be, and I suspect it is that either there is no absolute truth; or that if there is an absolute truth, it cannot be communicated.
    So I suspect that his reason for why there should be or is no theist/atheist debate is not 'Everything is running according to God's plan, therefeore there is no debate, not much to say',
    but 'There is no absolute truth / absolute truth cannot be communicated, therefeore there is no debate, not much to say'.
    I think it makes a lot of difference what your reasons for not engaging in debate are.

    I agree that not all political/philosophical agendas culminate in a holistic view.
    My point is that the writer of the article put forward the notion that the only reason why anyone would engage in debate is that they are uncertain of and have not fully accepted the validity of their own position. And for a 'neutral philosopher', this is probably how it is - for someone who assumes to be devoid of ethics, or has the stance that knowledge of truth carries no ethical imperative (but given that philosophers like to proselytize in the name of philosophy, they apparently do feel some ethical imperative), or who has the stance that knowledge of the absolute is impersonal somehow, independent of individuals, and invites passivity.

    Last edited: Mar 28, 2009
  23. Twine Registered Senior Member

    Just a response to parts of the first post:

    I disagree that a theist or atheist would only argue against the other side because they don't truly believe in their own position/don't accept it as obvious. A theist would be inclined to convince an atheist for religious reasons, saving the person's soul, recovering dignity, and bringing people closer to god. An atheist would be inclined to argue against a theist to show off fallacy in the theist's arguments, poke fun at the theist, save the resources and time of those who work for religious purposes, or try to avoid (violent) conflicts that arise because of religion by removing the belief in it.

    It's like if you have a person with an imaginary friend. You might want to poke fun at the guy with an imaginary friend as a form of bullying. You don't know that the person's imaginary friend won't "tell him" to murder his son as a sacrifice to him, and might argue that the imaginary friend doesn't exist out of the interest of protecting others. If there are several million people killing each other because one side believes one inobservable object exists and the other side believes a different inobservable object exists, a third party might be inclined to convince both sides that neither of their objects exist in order to keep the peace. Or they might be inclined to convince them before a conflict occurs in order to prevent it.

    Even if something is obvious for you, there can be reasons to explain to someone else why it is true.

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