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Subject: My Atheism rss

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Kelsey Rinella
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I'm working on a relatively concise statement of my position, which I would call atheist (and agnostic). My intent is to avoid those common arguments which do not apply, while inviting criticism along those lines which do apply. Here's my first draft:

I regard it as epistemically irresponsible for a person with subjective experiences like mine to assert the existence of a supernatural entity with the power to perform miracles or of anything which does not affect the physical universe.

Thoughts?
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Marshall P.
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Define supernatural devil
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It seems very wordy and complex for what is basically a pretty simple thing.

Of course, now I'll have to take a shot at it.
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Ordinary Evidence
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I like Sam Harris's take on atheism from 2007:
"Attaching a label to something carries real liabilities, especially if the thing you are naming isn't really a thing at all. And atheism, I would argue, is not a thing. It is not a philosophy, just as "non-racism" is not one. Atheism is not a worldview—and yet most people imagine it to be one and attack it as such. We who do not believe in God are collaborating in this misunderstanding by consenting to be named and by even naming ourselves."

However, I think he would concede that the term is here to stay, at least for a while longer.

It would be nice if the definition included an emphasis on reason and critical thinking skills.
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Non-racism is definitely a philosophy.

Pretty damn good one too.
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Ordinary Evidence
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Here's a link to Sam Harris's speech "The Problem with Atheism"

http://richarddawkins.net/articles/1702-the-problem-with-ath...
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Yeah, I've read/seen it before.

I can see the point he's making, and some of it's true. Atheism certainly isn't a worldview. But then neither is theism. It's just a position on one particular topic, and anyone who can build a worldview on just one position on one very vague topic has a crappy worldview.

On the other hand I dislike this lumping together of this one position with so many extras, particularly the whole rationality angle.

Don't get me wrong, I do think atheism is the most rational position to take on that topic. But there are plenty of stupid irrational reasons to be an atheist, and there are plenty of theists that have better reasons for what they believe than many atheists.

What I particularly dislike about this trend is that is seems to be directly trying to make atheism into a worldview.

I like rationality, and the world could sure use more of it. But atheism is a poor foundation to build a new world of rationality on.
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Mac Mcleod
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rinelk wrote:
I'm working on a relatively concise statement of my position, which I would call atheist (and agnostic). My intent is to avoid those common arguments which do not apply, while inviting criticism along those lines which do apply. Here's my first draft:

I regard it as epistemically irresponsible for a person with subjective experiences like mine to assert the existence of a supernatural entity with the power to perform miracles or of anything which does not affect the physical universe.

Thoughts?


Epistemic "relates to the gathering of knowledge".

Are you saying:
It's irresponsble with regard to knowledge gathering for a person with your subjective experiences to assert: a supernatural diety capable of performing miracles or changing the physical universe.

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Mac Mcleod
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Dolphinandrew wrote:
I like rationality, and the world could sure use more of it. But atheism is a poor foundation to build a new world of rationality on.


Atheism and Theism are both foundation neutral.

Example:

There are no gods.

There are one or more gods.

---

Note:

Neither says it's good or bad to solicit for your sister, that's not nice (unless you get a good percentage of the price).

Neither says it is good or bad to murder another human.

---
So then we get to the moral statements
There are no gods and you should not murder people.

There are one or more gods and you should not murder people.
---
Still no morality.

---
There are no gods and you should not murder people.

There are one or more gods and they SAY you should not murder people.

A minimal morality. However note-- religions have allowed this statement in the past.

There are one or more gods and they SAY it's OKAY to murder people under certain conditions (usually not part of your group)

Iterate this over time and the second society may kill the first and thus show it has the blessing of the gods and cause religious beliefs to dominate the culture.

---
There are no gods and you should not murder people.

There are one or more gods and they SAY you should not murder people and they will PUNISH you if you murder.

Now we have a statement- which if communicated to children before they are rational- will probably result in less murder in their society.

Iterate this over time and the second society may out perform the first and thus show it has the blessing of the gods and cause religious beliefs to dominate the culture.

---

Returning to the stark statements:


There are no gods.

There are one or more gods.

mean nothing and have no impact on the foundation of a society.

I would also say that a religious society would basically have a "checksum" against turning bad. It's still subject to the absolute corruption of power (which absolutely rocks if you have power) but it might resist it or be nicer longer or more often than a non religous society.
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Randy N
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rinelk wrote:
I'm working on a relatively concise statement of my position, which I would call atheist (and agnostic). My intent is to avoid those common arguments which do not apply, while inviting criticism along those lines which do apply. Here's my first draft:

I regard it as epistemically irresponsible for a person with subjective experiences like mine to assert the existence of a supernatural entity with the power to perform miracles or of anything which does not affect the physical universe.

Thoughts?


When there are uncertain starting points for moral philosophers to moralize, error compounds itself.If the universe caused itself then it did not communicate morality, there is left only an eerie silence.

A man said to the Universe,
Sir, I exist!
Nevertheless, replied the Universe,
That fact has not created in me
The slightest feeling of obligation.


Stephen Crane

From a naturalistic framework, there is no demand from, nor an obligation to the universe.
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maxo-texas wrote:
I would also say that a religious society would basically have a "checksum" against turning bad. It's still subject to the absolute corruption of power (which absolutely rocks if you have power) but it might resist it or be nicer longer or more often than a non religous society.


Or equally, it might have a checksum actively keeping it bad, depending on exactly what has been established as God's will, as you mention.

But in practise, it's all a big muddle. The growth of some moral system in a society and the growth in it's beliefs about God(s)/religion have always been pretty intertwined, and it's only relatively recently that people have begun to see them as in any way distinct.

Now, if we were building our own society and could program these things in, it's an interesting thing to consider. But that's not going to happen any time soon.
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Nezran wrote:
When there are uncertain starting points for moral philosophers to moralize, error compounds itself.


Perhaps. But how would we know? There are no certain points in morality to compare with.
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Dolphinandrew wrote:
Nezran wrote:
When there are uncertain starting points for moral philosophers to moralize, error compounds itself.


Perhaps. But how would we know? There are no certain points in morality to compare with.


I think we need to define what morality is, more to the point whose it is. We tend to talk in terms of "my morality" or "your morality" as if they belonged to an individual. I would argue that if God doesn't exist, then morality doesn't exist either. Morality is the signature of God. Therefore you can choose to abide by his moral code or not. What you cannot do is lay claim to certain morals being your own. When we say morals what we really mean is "values". Values change, morals don't. What board game I value today, I may not tomorrow. What spouse I value today, I may not tomorrow. etc, etc. We have replaced morals with values and that slippery slope has led us to where we are today. Allow me to quote Robert Fitch and see if it applies:

Ours is an age where ethics has become obsolete. It is superseded by science, deleted by philosophy and dismissed as emotive by psychology. It is drowned in compassion, evaporates into aesthetics and retreats before relativism. The usual moral distinctions between good and bad are simply drowned in a maudlin emotion in which we feel more sympathy for the murderer than for the murdered, for the adulterer than for the betrayed, and in which we have actually begun to believe that the real guilty party, the one who somehow caused it all, is the victim, and not the perpetrator of the crime.
 
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Mac Mcleod
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Morality is a random trait like any other which contributes to the health of a group creatures.

If the morality is bad under the current environmental constraints then the group will suffer and perhaps go extinct. (see utopian 18th century communes who successfully suppressed sexual intercourse... and died).

If morality is good under the current constraints, then the group will prosper.

It is not a signature of god. But if a group prospers because it believes in a god, then god can be a signature of morality.
 
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Kelsey Rinella
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OrdinaryEvidence wrote:
It would be nice if the definition included an emphasis on reason and critical thinking skills.


Not for my position. In my experience, those who most loudly and frequently proclaim their own rationality have not surpassed those who don't.

I have found teaching critical thinking to be rewarding and worth doing, however, so I'm certainly down with that as a goal.

mdp4828 wrote:
Define supernatural devil


Not subject to natural laws. Put another way, I think all things are subject to the same natural laws.

maxo-texas wrote:

Epistemic "relates to the gathering of knowledge".

Are you saying:
It's irresponsble with regard to knowledge gathering for a person with your subjective experiences to assert: a supernatural diety capable of performing miracles or changing the physical universe.


Yes. To motivate my concern with responsible epistemic behavior, I regard the Iraq war as having been the result of epistemic irresponsibility. So, from my perspective, believing responsibly has substantial moral overtones, insofar as beliefs have consequences and those consequences can include morally weighty outcomes.

Nezran wrote:
From a naturalistic framework, there is no demand from, nor an obligation to the universe.


It is an error to infer from this that a naturalistic framework has no tools from which to build a moral system beyond whim or pure subjectivity. I have hope for a grounding of morality in necessary qualities of free beings, or perhaps in common traits of humans. This would leave us with something which isn't totally objective in the sense of written into the universe, for we might have been different or never have existed (thus removing the foundation), but it's also not relativist in the usual sense because it would be the same for everybody.

To suggest that ethics has been deleted by philosophy seems either shockingly ignorant of what philosophers do, or to engage in irksome lexicographic imperialism.
 
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Nezran wrote:
I would argue that if God doesn't exist, then morality doesn't exist either. Morality is the signature of God.

On the other hand, with God as our moral guide we fly fully loaded passenger aircraft into buildings. So he could perhaps work on it a bit more.
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My atheism: I'm pretty sure there isn't a god; be excellent to each other.
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sbszine wrote:
My atheism: I'm pretty sure there isn't a god; be excellent to each other.


Dude.

cool

Darilian
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Nezran wrote:
Morality is the signature of God. Therefore you can choose to abide by his moral code or not. What you cannot do is lay claim to certain morals being your own.


If you define morality in terms of God, then yes there's no morals without God.

But the existence of God only provides another possible source of morality. Sources of morality are ten a penny, easy to find.

The difficultly with taking any objectively existing object that acts as a source of morality is going from "this source of moral rules says X" to "it is right to do X". For example, there's a clear gap between "God says it is wrong to eat cheese" and "it is wrong to eat cheese".

That step is always assumptive. Always a choice. That doesn't change, whether the source is God, some philosophical set of axioms, a political party, your whims, laws written on some rock you find or your good friend Bill.

Now, I'm certainly not saying all these sources are equal, just that you can't go from any of their moralities stated moralities to rules that should govern your behaviour without making some moral assumption along the way. And that moral assumption, whatever it is, is ultimately a choice. It can be an informed choice, but it can't be not a choice.



Nezran wrote:
Ours is an age where ethics has become obsolete. It is superseded by science, deleted by philosophy and dismissed as emotive by psychology.


Saying ethics has been deleted by philosophy is just plain nonsense. Ethics is practically all philosophy talks about nowadays.


Nezran wrote:
The usual moral distinctions between good and bad are simply drowned in a maudlin emotion in which we feel more sympathy for the murderer than for the murdered, for the adulterer than for the betrayed, and in which we have actually begun to believe that the real guilty party, the one who somehow caused it all, is the victim, and not the perpetrator of the crime.


And this is just political posturing (as well as a big helping of strawmanning). Now, ethics is of course relevant to politics, but "if you had morality, you'd agree politically with me, therefore you must have no morality" it a pretty nasty bit of rhetoric, even if it's common.
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My Agnostic/Atheism. the universe is an uncaring, disinterested cold place, that has no love of concern for me as a person or spiritually. Thus if god exists so is he. Thus if he exists he is unlike any god proposed by all modern (and most ancient) religions, thus their god does not exist, and most likely none do.
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Jonathan Leech
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Nezran wrote:
Dolphinandrew wrote:
Nezran wrote:
When there are uncertain starting points for moral philosophers to moralize, error compounds itself.


Perhaps. But how would we know? There are no certain points in morality to compare with.


I think we need to define what morality is, more to the point whose it is. We tend to talk in terms of "my morality" or "your morality" as if they belonged to an individual. I would argue that if God doesn't exist, then morality doesn't exist either. Morality is the signature of God. Therefore you can choose to abide by his moral code or not. What you cannot do is lay claim to certain morals being your own. When we say morals what we really mean is "values". Values change, morals don't. What board game I value today, I may not tomorrow. What spouse I value today, I may not tomorrow. etc, etc. We have replaced morals with values and that slippery slope has led us to where we are today.

I don't believe morality is the signature of god, at least not the god of the christian bible. Even most christians are not following the morals of the bible but are applying their own moral filters to the book. These morals are their own and not gods.

As a basic and often used example slavery was condoned in the bible and I don't believe the practice of one human owning another was ever moral. The changing of values or ethics doesn't come into it, some things are and always will be moral and some things won't.

There are other issues which are often quoted as moral issues, for example homosexuality, and I don't believe they ever were but were always value judgments.
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rinelk wrote:

Not subject to natural laws. Put another way, I think all things are subject to the same natural laws.


"My" God only operates within natural laws. It's only our limited understanding of those laws that make things seem supernatural.

In my view, God is observable and measurable. We're just not good enough at it yet to do it reproduceably.

Not believing in the 'supernatural' doesn't preclude belief in religion or God in my books.
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Kelsey Rinella
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neoshmengi wrote:
rinelk wrote:

Not subject to natural laws. Put another way, I think all things are subject to the same natural laws.


"My" God only operates within natural laws. It's only our limited understanding of those laws that make things seem supernatural.

In my view, God is observable and measurable. We're just not good enough at it yet to do it reproduceably.

Not believing in the 'supernatural' doesn't preclude belief in religion or God in my books.


This is the kind of position I tend to view with interested uncertainty, rather than confidence that it ought not be asserted. I should like my concise statement of atheism not to preclude it, which is why I feel the need for such a statement rather than simply going with "atheist". There are some concepts of god/God on which I have no position.
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[q="rinelk"]I'm working on a relatively concise statement of my position [q]

What was the problem with this?

Pronunciation:/ˈeɪθɪɪz(ə)m/noun
[mass noun]
disbelief in the existence of God or gods.
 
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Kelsey Rinella
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[q="hammurabi70"][q="rinelk"]I'm working on a relatively concise statement of my position
Quote:


What was the problem with this?

Pronunciation:/ˈeɪθɪɪz(ə)m/noun
[mass noun]
disbelief in the existence of God or gods.


Not only do I disbelieve, I think other people with subjective evidence relevantly like my own ought not believe. It's important to me to introduce the concept of believing responsibly early in the conversation. Some people use the word "God" to refer to something to which I have no pre-existing objection. For example, a friend of mine used to say that God is the set of all good things. I'm basically apathetic about the metaphysical status of sets; whether they genuinely exist or are simply mathematical fictions doesn't seem to matter much. So I have no position on whether or not his idea of God exists or not, and it just doesn't interest me.

Of course, the further step to inferring that it's worth praying to or worshipping that set strikes me as profoundly ill-motivated, but it might well work out to be a simply more ritualized way of encouraging oneself to admire goodness and thus to develop one's tendency to do good, I could dig that. Ritual doesn't seem to do much for me, but it obviously brings comfort and a sense of order to many.

It sounds like Neoshmengi is another example of someone with a God-concept with which I have no problem.
 
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