Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
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23-10-2014, 12:13 PM
Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
Hello, all! I am new to this forum. I only deconverted from Christianity this past year, solely as part of a journey to in-depth study "the other side" (science and evolution, biblical criticism, etc). I still have much to think about and study in terms of beginning to formulate my own ideas on a variety of other issues.

So my question, as simply as it sounds, is: what is the best way to explain atheism (the lack of belief in theism) to the average person? I guess my thoughts would be formulated in at least two very basic arguments: (1) Theists argue that intelligence requires a designer. Yet they fail to adequately grapple with the question: then where did the intelligence come from to explain the origins of the intelligent designer? (2) the burden of proof rests on those who'd say there is a spiritual realm...that spirits like God exist. The burden of proof is on the theists to prove their assertion that there is a God.

I'm not a philosopher, so I know I didn't formulate those points very well...but again, I'm asking about how you would talk to the average theist. Any helps in reformulating those points or adding other basic arguments you'd tell the average theist would be helpful! Thank you!

EDIT: one further argument would be that I have found no convincing argument for the existence of a god.
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23-10-2014, 12:19 PM
RE: Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
(23-10-2014 12:13 PM)Learner Wrote:  Hello, all! I am new to this forum. I only deconverted from Christianity this past year, solely as part of a journey to in-depth study "the other side" (science and evolution, biblical criticism, etc). I still have much to think about and study in terms of beginning to formulate my own ideas on a variety of other issues.

So my question, as simply as it sounds, is: what is the best way to explain atheism (the lack of belief in theism) to the average person? I guess my thoughts would be formulated in at least two very basic arguments: (1) Theists argue that intelligence requires a designer. Yet they fail to adequately grapple with the question: then where did the intelligence come from to explain the origins of the intelligent designer? (2) the burden of proof rests on those who'd say there is a spiritual realm...that spirits like God exist. The burden of proof is on the theists to prove their assertion that there is a God.

I'm not a philosopher, so I know I didn't formulate those points very well...but again, I'm asking about how you would talk to the average theist. Any helps in reformulating those points or adding other basic arguments you'd tell the average theist would be helpful! Thank you!

EDIT: one further argument would be that I have found no convincing argument for the existence of a god.

Welcome.

There is insufficient evidence for the existence of any gods.

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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23-10-2014, 12:41 PM
RE: Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
If you care if your beliefs are true or not, then you need a way to figure out if your beliefs are true or not.
If you don't care, then there is no point in continuing a conversation.

If you truly care whether your beliefs are true then you need to justify why you believe what you believe.
You need solid rational evidence to back up what you believe.
In the absence of evidence for a claim, it's best to not believe that claim.

What can be the result in believing a claim when there is no evidence ?
The result is that people will blindly trust what others say and not question any requests made from those people.
Blind loyalty to someone can result in the following....

You are requested to give your money away.
You are requested to perform work without pay.
You are requested to protect a building by killing anyone that tries to enter.
You are requested to give your life without question.

In other words, you become someone who is controlled, manipulated and made into a puppet.
All because you believe everything you are told and question nothing.

That is dangerous.
Critical thinking helps keep you from committing immoral acts on the behalf of a fantasy imaginary figure in your mind.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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23-10-2014, 12:47 PM
RE: Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
OP try to think critically about atheism
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23-10-2014, 12:50 PM
RE: Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
(23-10-2014 12:47 PM)dimaniac Wrote:  OP try to think critically about atheism

Or, you know, about every religion. Yes

Welcome, Learner!
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23-10-2014, 01:24 PM
RE: Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
(23-10-2014 12:50 PM)Kaepora Gaebora Wrote:  
(23-10-2014 12:47 PM)dimaniac Wrote:  OP try to think critically about atheism
Or, you know, about every religion. Yes

Or like, about everything in life! Tongue

Welcome learner! Big Grin

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Life is a flash of light between two eternities of darkness.
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23-10-2014, 01:29 PM
RE: Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
(23-10-2014 12:47 PM)dimaniac Wrote:  OP try to think critically about atheism

Actually, agreed. DO think critically about atheism.

And also every other possible position on religious topics.

Or any topics.

The critical point with atheism is that it's about not believing that the gods you're being sold actually exist. Other topics, like materialism versus spiritualism, the epistemology of science versus faith, origins of life, etc, tend to get tangled up into it, but focus on that one point. You don't believe that the god exists. Whether spirits exist is a question separate from (but possibly, in your case, related to) atheism. Same for questions about origins, morality, et al.

Want to think critically about atheism? Contemplate the opposite position and look for reasons to adopt it. Examine as many myths about gods as you can, and ask yourself if there's compelling reasons to believe any of them. (It helps to start with gods that you didn't originally believe in... less sentimentality getting in the way). Then spin out a few scenarios of your own. If after that you've got nothing, then not believing that those gods exist is a perfectly reasonable position.
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23-10-2014, 02:18 PM
RE: Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
(23-10-2014 12:13 PM)Learner Wrote:  So my question, as simply as it sounds, is: what is the best way to explain atheism (the lack of belief in theism) to the average person? I guess my thoughts would be formulated in at least two very basic arguments: (1) Theists argue that intelligence requires a designer. Yet they fail to adequately grapple with the question: then where did the intelligence come from to explain the origins of the intelligent designer? (2) the burden of proof rests on those who'd say there is a spiritual realm...that spirits like God exist. The burden of proof is on the theists to prove their assertion that there is a God.
Item 1. There is an abundance of evidence and a detailed account on how life has evolved from simple single cell structures to more complex creatures such as humans. All animals exhibit degrees of intelligence and evolution can account for how advancing intelligence can have provided a higher fitness profile for some lineages of life (a.k.a. homosapiens).

Item 2. Item 1 is supported by much evidence encapsulated by a falsifiable and detailed scientific theory. The god alternative has yet to present evidence or a falsifiable theory matching the evidence.
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23-10-2014, 03:02 PM
RE: Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
Welcome

(23-10-2014 12:13 PM)Learner Wrote:  So my question, as simply as it sounds, is: what is the best way to explain atheism (the lack of belief in theism) to the average person?
There are a lot of ways the conversation can go, and I tend to tailor my description based on what the person is asking. If they ask what an atheist is, I usually respond with something like "broadly speaking, an atheist is just someone who doesn't believe in God(s)." Then I'll respond to follow-up questions. I don't bother getting into definitions of "God" or the various sub-types of atheism and agnosticism, or what atheists believe in instead of God, etc., unless it's related to what they ask.


(23-10-2014 12:13 PM)Learner Wrote:  I guess my thoughts would be formulated in at least two very basic arguments: (1) Theists argue that intelligence requires a designer. Yet they fail to adequately grapple with the question: then where did the intelligence come from to explain the origins of the intelligent designer?
Yep. I usually phrase it this way: if a human mind is something that is so complex that it can't arise as a product of slow, unguided natural processes, why is it easier to believe that a perfect, all-knowing mind simply exists without a cause?

(23-10-2014 12:13 PM)Learner Wrote:  (2) the burden of proof rests on those who'd say there is a spiritual realm...that spirits like God exist. The burden of proof is on the theists to prove their assertion that there is a God.
The way I see it, the person making the positive claim has the burden of proof. If someone is saying that there is a God, they need to back that up or else they can be ignored. If I say that there is no God, I need to back up that claim. Or if I say that metaphysical naturalism is true. So it's not always a clear-cut situation where the theists always has the burden and the atheist never has it; it depends on what either side is claiming.

I'm just thinking out loud.
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24-10-2014, 05:36 AM
RE: Atheism/Naturalism in a nutshell
(23-10-2014 01:29 PM)Reltzik Wrote:  
(23-10-2014 12:47 PM)dimaniac Wrote:  OP try to think critically about atheism

Actually, agreed. DO think critically about atheism

Yes. If you allow yourself to think critically of it, you might come to different conclusions than dimaniac. Yes
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