ATHEIST definition changed
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10-06-2017, 11:46 AM (This post was last modified: 10-06-2017 11:57 AM by Robvalue.)
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
(10-06-2017 07:05 AM)SYZ Wrote:  
(10-06-2017 05:59 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  My wife is an atheist, but certainly not a skeptic. She believes in ghosts, for starters.

Interesting. I've not heard of that apparent self-contradictory stance before.

Gods and ghosts are both defined universally as paranormal entities. Why then does she accept the existence of one but not the other? Part of her dismissal of gods is based on a lack of supporting empirical evidence, and as she also has no empirical evidence supporting ghosts, she must be undergoing some sort of suspension of disbelief to believe in them. Dunno why really.

I know why, it's because her parents passed on all their superstitions to her. I don't think they intended to, but it was more like subliminal indoctrination because they talk about them so much. God belief wasn't one of them, so her mind is much clearer on that subject. The emotional beliefs trump logic when it comes to ghosts and some other things.

I agree that it's hard to fathom how a mind can reject one fantastical claim but not another. But such people exist, so if the definition of atheist needs to include consistently applied scepticism then my wife wouldn't be one. She wouldn't be a theist either, so she'd get lost in the abyss somewhere. This is why I think it's best to keep it as simple as possible and let each person tell you their reasoning, and what other stuff they do and don't believe in.

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10-06-2017, 11:51 AM (This post was last modified: 10-06-2017 12:00 PM by Robvalue.)
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
Another thing that bothers me a lot is about all this "supernatural" nonsense. The problem is that it's usually just semantic games and equivocations.

So my question is this: what does "natural" mean in the first place, in this context? Until that is clearly defined, it's a waste of time to talk about what is "supernatural". I've found that people who believe in the latter have real trouble defining the former in an objective way. There are things that exist. Why this arbitrary divide? We already know different laws apply to different things in different ways.

(PS: someone once tried to define "natural" as "not supernatural". Jesus fuck.)

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10-06-2017, 12:05 PM
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
(10-06-2017 11:51 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Another thing that bothers me a lot is about all this "supernatural" nonsense. The problem is that it's usually just semantic games and equivocations.

So my question is this: what does "natural" mean in the first place, in this context? Until that is clearly defined, it's a waste of time to talk about what is "supernatural". I've found that people who believe in the latter have real trouble defining the former in an objective way. There are things that exist. Why this arbitrary divide? We already know different laws apply to different things in different ways.

(PS: someone once tried to define "natural" as "not supernatural". Jesus fuck.)

> Practically speaking, the "supernatural" should be more correctly referred to as the "unnatural." Consider
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10-06-2017, 01:16 PM
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
(10-06-2017 11:46 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  
(10-06-2017 07:05 AM)SYZ Wrote:  Interesting. I've not heard of that apparent self-contradictory stance before.

Gods and ghosts are both defined universally as paranormal entities. Why then does she accept the existence of one but not the other? Part of her dismissal of gods is based on a lack of supporting empirical evidence, and as she also has no empirical evidence supporting ghosts, she must be undergoing some sort of suspension of disbelief to believe in them. Dunno why really.

I know why, it's because her parents passed on all their superstitions to her. I don't think they intended to, but it was more like subliminal indoctrination because they talk about them so much. God belief wasn't one of them, so her mind is much clearer on that subject. The emotional beliefs trump logic when it comes to ghosts and some other things.

I agree that it's hard to fathom how a mind can reject one fantastical claim but not another. But such people exist, so if the definition of atheist needs to include consistently applied scepticism then my wife wouldn't be one. She wouldn't be a theist either, so she'd get lost in the abyss somewhere. This is why I think it's best to keep it as simple as possible and let each person tell you their reasoning, and what other stuff they do and don't believe in.

why are people's wacky beliefs always put on somebody else? when do we say its the person's responsibility?
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10-06-2017, 03:30 PM
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
(10-06-2017 05:59 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  My wife is an atheist, but certainly not a sceptic. She believes in ghosts, for starters.
Yeah same here ... in my wife's case I just think it's somewhat unexamined. The most contact she had with religion as a child, was a UU church, which doesn't really count. Her mother took her there, and her Mom died when my wife was 9. My wife is just one of those people who just couldn't ever credit that religious people SERIOUSLY believe the stuff they claim to at first.

She's no skeptic because she speaks of things being [not] meant to be, etc., so she thinks some sort of indifferent deist-style deity is way more possible than I do.
(10-06-2017 05:59 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I don't think I've ever heard anyone claim to be a sceptic and be a theist.
Depends on what they are being a skeptic about. A lot of them are skeptical of science in those areas, like the TOE, where it disagrees with a literal interpretation of scripture. Ironically it appears one can be skeptical and credulous in opposite sides of any discussion. That begs the question of whether atheists are being credulous about the no-god claim. However of course the difference is that observable reality points toward an indifferent, absent, or non-existent deity. So I think most thoughtful atheists who have worked it fully out (in other words, not our wives, for example) are skeptical about the existence of deities without also being credulous about their non-existence. That is why I am so careful to avoid the knowledge claim, "there is no god", even though it's a technical position
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10-06-2017, 06:43 PM
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
its actually quite explainable. she does not lack belief in anything and everything. But I can see how some some atheists think that they have worked out the truth. we see it in all religious people that think they have the real truth and anything that doesn't fit their belief statement is dismissed, ignored, or as we see in this site, flat out changed to meet a personal need.
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10-06-2017, 08:29 PM
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
(10-06-2017 03:30 PM)mordant Wrote:  
(10-06-2017 05:59 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  My wife is an atheist, but certainly not a sceptic. She believes in ghosts, for starters.
Yeah same here ... in my wife's case I just think it's somewhat unexamined. The most contact she had with religion as a child, was a UU church, which doesn't really count. Her mother took her there, and her Mom died when my wife was 9. My wife is just one of those people who just couldn't ever credit that religious people SERIOUSLY believe the stuff they claim to at first.

She's no skeptic because she speaks of things being [not] meant to be, etc., so she thinks some sort of indifferent deist-style deity is way more possible than I do.
(10-06-2017 05:59 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  I don't think I've ever heard anyone claim to be a sceptic and be a theist.
Depends on what they are being a skeptic about. A lot of them are skeptical of science in those areas, like the TOE, where it disagrees with a literal interpretation of scripture. Ironically it appears one can be skeptical and credulous in opposite sides of any discussion. That begs the question of whether atheists are being credulous about the no-god claim. However of course the difference is that observable reality points toward an indifferent, absent, or non-existent deity. So I think most thoughtful atheists who have worked it fully out (in other words, not our wives, for example) are skeptical about the existence of deities without also being credulous about their non-existence. That is why I am so careful to avoid the knowledge claim, "there is no god", even though it's a technical position

You're quite right. My wife doesn't want to examine her beliefs about certain things. She refuses to talk about them if I ever start trying to apply critical thinking.

Haha, yes. I've often said before that theists can have infinite scepticism when considering the TOE and zero scepticism when reading their favourite fairy tale. The fact that they cannot recognize what they are doing, even when this is pointed out, shows how astonishingly well the brain can compartmentalise. To me, scepticism is about trying to apply the same standard to everything.

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11-06-2017, 02:24 AM
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
(10-06-2017 12:05 PM)Gwaithmir Wrote:  
(10-06-2017 11:51 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Another thing that bothers me a lot is about all this "supernatural" nonsense. The problem is that it's usually just semantic games and equivocations.

So my question is this: what does "natural" mean in the first place, in this context? Until that is clearly defined, it's a waste of time to talk about what is "supernatural". I've found that people who believe in the latter have real trouble defining the former in an objective way. There are things that exist. Why this arbitrary divide? We already know different laws apply to different things in different ways.

(PS: someone once tried to define "natural" as "not supernatural". Jesus fuck.)

> Practically speaking, the "supernatural" should be more correctly referred to as the "unnatural." Consider

Yes, that would make more sense.

Someone also tried to define nature as "the things that obey the laws of nature". Again, when you're trying to leave this void open to stick all your magic shit in, you end up being circular.

The other usual attempt (from theists) is to define nature in terms of science. This is also pretty pointless because what science can measure or understand changes with time, and no one can know that any particular thing won't ever be available to science to study. Also, by hiding the super/unnatural from science, they reduce their position to nonsense because these things become invisible to us in every respect. Of course, they then have these special ways of knowing they are there. But you can't possibly know, if there is no way to distinguish them from nothing, which is what the claim states. Such people don't understand what science is, of course.

On some level I wonder if these people know that they are arguing for the imaginary/conceptual. Conflation with abstract concepts, frequently mathematics, further cements this point.

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11-06-2017, 02:40 AM
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
(10-06-2017 01:16 PM)AB517 Wrote:  why are people's wacky beliefs always put on somebody else? when do we say its the person's responsibility?

Because we don't live in an Ayn Rand fantasy world where self-determination holds primacy and causality is an urban legend?

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11-06-2017, 06:21 AM
RE: ATHEIST definition changed
(10-06-2017 08:29 PM)Robvalue Wrote:  To me, scepticism is about trying to apply the same standard to everything.
I would go so far as to say that if you don't apply it to everything you're not really a skeptic. However ... I would also say that no one is 100% perfectly consistent and logical in all things at all times, so everyone's skepticism is imperfect.

The closer we get to consistently applying it to everything, the better.

I have been reading (and it's turned into a real slog) Solve For Happy, the latest in a recent spate of self-help books written by extremely wealthy Silicon Valley elites who have been sullied by personal tragedy. It is a pastiche of useful mind tricks (be always in the present moment, let go of expectations) but concludes with an argument in favor of some generic form of eternal life based pretty much on an argument from incredulity and an argument for design. Compartmentalization again ... he applies engineering discipline to the human condition -- until he doesn't.

In his case, the reason is that he can't accept that he'll never see his son again. His son is presented as almost a Jesus-figure, preternaturally spiritual and mature, who was simply too good for this world. I do not burden my son's memory with such projections, and don't expect to see him again. Nor would it give me hope to believe that I would. It would make it all about me, and my need to believe what I want to believe, instead of about what actually IS. I suppose it would be harder if my son was younger, better-launched, mentally well, and not suffering. But that would not change reality either. I would have to question his immortality anyway. I would have to question the existence of design, direction or destiny in an attempt to "explain" random events, too.

Intelligent design, intentionality or consciousness of reality, and eternal life invariably "vanish in a puff of logic" when logic is applied to them. Our willingness to forego seeming but short-term transient comfort in favor of logic is a test of our commitment to skepticism and empiricism and rationalism.

Also in my case it honors my son's deeply held convictions about what is the better explanation for experienced reality, which we shared together. He arrived at his convictions independently. In the case of the author of this book, he shared with his son a more gauzy idealized notion of reality so it is not that he is of weak intellect so much as that he's too invested in his own (and his son's) narratives.

Dog save us from our own narratives!
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