Atheism - A clearer understanding
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03-11-2012, 11:36 AM
Atheism - A clearer understanding
When one has been associated with a title, there are often misconceptions that stubbornly tend to hang on these titles, especially titles pertaining to a large belief system (eg; Christianity, Islam, Mormonism).

An example of a misconception for Christianity would be something like "Christians are trying to get to heaven by doing good works" or "Christians have something against everyone that isn't a Christian" or what have you.

There are also misconceptions on Atheism, and I would like to discuss those misconceptions.

One that I know many Atheists would agree upon is the misconception of what Atheism is and what it is not.
Special emphasis has been on Atheism being a "belief" and Atheists countering this idea heavily.


Just to get this started, I want to explain to the best of my ability what I have observed on this issue.
Firstly, when an Atheist calls himself/herself an Atheist, I will follow through and call him/her an Atheist as well. The reason is because it is commonly understood that when someone attaches the title of "Atheist" onto himself/herself they are implying that they don't believe in the existence of a deity.
This being where many Atheists say I'm incorrect in that they ,simply lack a belief in a deity.
So here we have one of many misconceptions, right?
If so, I want to know more about this misconception and I want to see if we can clear this misconception up.

In the answer given by the Atheist "simply a lack of belief" I'm inclined to see an avoidance of an imaginary consequence. Perhaps that consequence being that if said Atheist were to admit that he/she actually believes that a deity does not exist, he/she would be subjecting them self to a heavy counter by the Theist in which the Atheist would find difficult to defend against.
I want to put that aside and I honestly would love to know what Atheism actually is. The answer may come around and be that Atheism is different for every Atheist, and that is fine. I, however, still see a problem; What is Atheism?

If Atheism is not a "belief" that a deity does not exist, and instead a "lack of belief" in a deity, what is the difference?
If the difference is that the Atheist is passive in that he/she lacks in belief, then I would say that person is not an Atheist - they are just a person without a view on the matter. I would probably identify that person in more of a class of "secularism" rather than "Atheism".
If the difference is that Atheism is not a religious system, then the term "belief" is possibly being misunderstood by either the Atheist or Theist.
As far as I can understand there are actually more than one ways to understand the term "belief". One can say "I have a belief that the weather will change dramatically in the western hemisphere because of such and such past weather patterns" and that is simply an empirical observation. Then one could say "I have a belief that God does exist and He is the Christian view of God" and that would be a religious view - only because it is based on a particular religions (Christianity) view of God.
Lastly, one can say "I have a belief that a deity possibly exists" and that would not be a religious view but rather an observation on philosophy and perhaps other systems of thought or patterns.

The point is, just because a definition says that Atheism is the "belief" that a deity does not exist, does not necessarily indicate that it is hinting that Atheism is a "belief" in the same way that Christianity or Islam is a "belief".

Anyways, that is my view on one particular item that many Atheists consider a misconception and I am sure there are plenty more to talk about. The point of this Thread (And where it will hopefully lead) is to have a better understanding of Atheism and to clear up some of the misconceptions that derive from various sources throughout time.

I hope this turns out well Smile

-Paul

“What you believe to be true will control you, whether it’s true or not.”

—Jeremy LaBorde
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03-11-2012, 12:14 PM
Re: RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
(03-11-2012 11:36 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  When one has been associated with a title, there are often misconceptions that stubbornly tend to hang on these titles, especially titles pertaining to a large belief system (eg; Christianity, Islam, Mormonism).

An example of a misconception for Christianity would be something like "Christians are trying to get to heaven by doing good works" or "Christians have something against everyone that isn't a Christian" or what have you.

There are also misconceptions on Atheism, and I would like to discuss those misconceptions.

One that I know many Atheists would agree upon is the misconception of what Atheism is and what it is not.
Special emphasis has been on Atheism being a "belief" and Atheists countering this idea heavily.


Just to get this started, I want to explain to the best of my ability what I have observed on this issue.
Firstly, when an Atheist calls himself/herself an Atheist, I will follow through and call him/her an Atheist as well. The reason is because it is commonly understood that when someone attaches the title of "Atheist" onto himself/herself they are implying that they don't believe in the existence of a deity.
This being where many Atheists say I'm incorrect in that they ,simply lack a belief in a deity.
So here we have one of many misconceptions, right?
If so, I want to know more about this misconception and I want to see if we can clear this misconception up.

In the answer given by the Atheist "simply a lack of belief" I'm inclined to see an avoidance of an imaginary consequence. Perhaps that consequence being that if said Atheist were to admit that he/she actually believes that a deity does not exist, he/she would be subjecting them self to a heavy counter by the Theist in which the Atheist would find difficult to defend against.
I want to put that aside and I honestly would love to know what Atheism actually is. The answer may come around and be that Atheism is different for every Atheist, and that is fine. I, however, still see a problem; What is Atheism?

If Atheism is not a "belief" that a deity does not exist, and instead a "lack of belief" in a deity, what is the difference?
If the difference is that the Atheist is passive in that he/she lacks in belief, then I would say that person is not an Atheist - they are just a person without a view on the matter. I would probably identify that person in more of a class of "secularism" rather than "Atheism".
If the difference is that Atheism is not a religious system, then the term "belief" is possibly being misunderstood by either the Atheist or Theist.
As far as I can understand there are actually more than one ways to understand the term "belief". One can say "I have a belief that the weather will change dramatically in the western hemisphere because of such and such past weather patterns" and that is simply an empirical observation. Then one could say "I have a belief that God does exist and He is the Christian view of God" and that would be a religious view - only because it is based on a particular religions (Christianity) view of God.
Lastly, one can say "I have a belief that a deity possibly exists" and that would not be a religious view but rather an observation on philosophy and perhaps other systems of thought or patterns.

The point is, just because a definition says that Atheism is the "belief" that a deity does not exist, does not necessarily indicate that it is hinting that Atheism is a "belief" in the same way that Christianity or Islam is a "belief".

Anyways, that is my view on one particular item that many Atheists consider a misconception and I am sure there are plenty more to talk about. The point of this Thread (And where it will hopefully lead) is to have a better understanding of Atheism and to clear up some of the misconceptions that derive from various sources throughout time.

I hope this turns out well Smile

-Paul

We know that. Nobody I know says atheists is a term equal with Christian/Islam belief. Those indicate more than theism with philosophical connotations.

Atheist is just equal to in that essence to theist... It doesn't need to mean anything else. You don't need to tell people parts of your philosophy or viewpoint via a labeled term.

Why would you want to?

"Love is hot, Truth is molten!"
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03-11-2012, 12:33 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
(03-11-2012 11:36 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  I hope this turns out well Smile

So do I.

You show a desire for knowledge. I like that.

Polite too. I like that even more.

I'll go for the near-cliché response...

Atheism = the TV off-switch
Atheism = the "bald" hair-colour.

Good luck with your search.

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03-11-2012, 12:49 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
(03-11-2012 11:36 AM)ideasonscribe Wrote:  In the answer given by the Atheist "simply a lack of belief" I'm inclined to see an avoidance of an imaginary consequence.

If the difference is that the Atheist is passive in that he/she lacks in belief, then I would say that person is not an Atheist - they are just a person without a view on the matter.

It ain't no misconception that the theist loves to be condescending and to place people into imaginary boxes of their own making. What's to discuss? Dodgy

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03-11-2012, 01:03 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
Means different things to different people. No point in too much trying to nail down definitions.

Think of it like stats.

H1: There exists a seriously messed up man in the sky who watches my every move and will punish me when I die.
H0: No such man exists.

H0 is the null hypothesis. Now we need to do a test to establish whether there is statistically significant evidence for the alternate hypothesis H1.

Atheism is basically the stance that H0 is correct, based largely on the fact that the 'evidence' presented for H1 has so far completely failed to measure up.

PS: Anyone with stats knowledge, have I correctly stated the hypotheses ? I worry about these things.
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03-11-2012, 01:18 PM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2012 01:22 PM by Phaedrus.)
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
It's semantics.

"Don't believe" can mean either "disbelieve" or "have no belief", which are two different concepts. Disbelief is active, not having a belief is passive.

You can safely assume than an atheist, as the very least, lacks a belief. Some of them may go farther to say that they disbelieve in the existence of a deity, but not all do.

It also varies depending on how you are defining "god".

If you use god to mean a supernatural entity that created the universe, I would lack a belief in that entity.

If you use god to mean the god of the bible, Jehovah, who created the universe, inspired/authored the bible, impregnated a woman magically so she could give birth to himself so he could preach to a bunch of greek-speaking Jews in the middle east 2000 years ago then be crucified and resurrected to forgive everyone of their sins, including the original sin which was arbitrarily placed on humanity *so that* this god could forgive it to prove hi s mercy, and that he will come again to bring the Kingdom of Heaven... If that's what you mean by god, then I actively disbelieve in that ridiculous horse shit.





How about, instead of trying to force one definition to fit every single person who calls themselves an atheist, how about you just ask and find out what their beliefs actually are instead? That comes across as much less douchey and more interested in discussion. There's few things more frustrating than telling someone what their own beliefs are. Don't be that guy.

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2 K(s) + 2 H2O(l) → 2 KOH(aq) + H2 (g) + 196 kJ/mol
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03-11-2012, 01:20 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
Yes, Atheism is different for every Atheist, and as you said, that is fine.
Atheism is an umbrella term, much the way philosophy is an umbrella term for the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence. A lot of ground is covered in numerous areas; there are many facets to every idea.
It is all so sordid. Dodgy (caution: that was a sarcastic remark)

***
There is not "belief" when there is nothing to believe.

Do you "believe" in Spock? I can show you pictures of him. I can quote a shit load of stuff he said that I admire. I can even love him more than I love (like) Kirk (but not as much as I love the fuck out of Bones!)... but none of that makes me "believe" in Spock. I know a few Trekkies who all love Spock and will endlessly debate with anyone upon his life and philosophy. Not one of them confuses anything about that Trek world with this world, by believing in it. I even know one Trekkie who goes to Renaissance festivals AS someone who has "beamed down" to an Elizabethan Earth to commune with the rest of her anachronistic cohorts... and not ONE of them "believes" in any of that shit.

You can love it all you want, admire it all you want, you can even live by what you've learned from it... that doesn't make it real.

***

You stated: One can say "I have a belief that the weather will change dramatically in the western hemisphere because of such and such past weather patterns" and that is simply an empirical observation.

I would say that would be an educated guess, rather than an "empirical observation"... but then, I'm not a meteorologist... nor am I into predicting the future.

Maybe try exchanging the word "believe" for the word think. I think or don't think... rather than I believe or don't believe... It might help in your quest for understanding. Shy

Believing and thinking are very different things.
Belief and thought are very different things.

For me, thought puts me closer to the knowledge of reality than belief does. Knowledge of reality is what I need to live.

I hope it turns out well, too.

I think in the end, I just feel like I'm a secular person who has a skeptical eye toward any extraordinary claim, carefully examining any extraordinary evidence before jumping to conclusions. ~ Eric ~ My friend ... who figured it out.
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03-11-2012, 01:27 PM (This post was last modified: 03-11-2012 01:32 PM by morondog.)
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
(03-11-2012 01:18 PM)Phaedrus Wrote:  There's few things more frustrating than telling someone what their own beliefs are.

This is where people like The Theist fall down. It's not frustrating for them. For the being-told-what-my-beliefs-are-ee it tends to make us rage...
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03-11-2012, 02:00 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
Very simple for me. I don't believe anything. Either I know it or I don't.

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Science is the process we've designed to be responsible for generating our best guess as to what the fuck is going on. Girly Man
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03-11-2012, 03:12 PM
RE: Atheism - A clearer understanding
This reminds me of Gallagher's rant on being asked whether he preferred sitting in the smoking section or the non-smoking section: "Why do I have to be defined by something I do not do?"

We have enough youth. How about looking for the Fountain of Smart?
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