Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
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17-10-2014, 05:39 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
(17-10-2014 05:30 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  "Well I don't have a stance on theism because I don't know what you mean by "god""....you find this to be useful?

I find talk of God to be premature. For those religions which promise a postmortem preservation of identity the first order of business is to posit a plausible mechanism of action for dualism. Many have tried. All have failed. Dunno what that makes me, a pretheist maybe?

#sigh
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17-10-2014, 05:47 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
(17-10-2014 03:12 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  
(17-10-2014 02:48 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  No one can define what a god is. I may reject the concept if I ever hear a coherent one, meanwhile I'm a Igtheist.
Nevermind what I said before.

Igtheism is the one that bugs me, not apatheism. Although Apatheism is annoying. Igtheism is playing a game, pure and simple.

It is not.
There is no coherent definition of a god, therefore there is no reason I need to take a stand with respect to a concept that is not defined.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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17-10-2014, 05:49 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
(17-10-2014 05:39 PM)GirlyMan Wrote:  
(17-10-2014 05:30 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  "Well I don't have a stance on theism because I don't know what you mean by "god""....you find this to be useful?

I find talk of God to be premature. For those religions which promise a postmortem preservation of identity the first order of business is to posit a plausible mechanism of action for dualism. Many have tried. All have failed. Dunno what that makes me, a pretheist maybe?
If by dualism you mean spirit/body, then I'd say that the plausibility depends on the audience.

I don't understand how a guess, such as the existence of deities and their role in creation and order, can be premature. It's an unfounded guess. What timeline is such a guess be confined to make it premature?

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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17-10-2014, 05:50 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
(17-10-2014 11:13 AM)Dark Phoenix Wrote:  It seems to me that the term "Atheism" has been a source of confusion and controversy for a lot of people in this argument, especially religious people who have never heard of Atheism before. I have always felt something about the term that I couldn't really explain up until now. I think I have a grasp now of what it is that bothers me. This is an explanation of my personal position as well as my thoughts on the Atheist community or movement today.

It is important to me that any readers are aware that I don't speak for all Atheists. The only person I speak for is myself. I wouldn't be surprised if many Atheists disagree with me on this subject and I would be glad to read their comments.

I think the very first confusion for so many people is in the very definition of an Atheist. Here are a few of the most common misconceptions.

1. Atheism is always defined at the positive claim that no gods exist.

Here is a workable definition of Atheism. This one is from Wikipedia.

"Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities. In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities. Most inclusively, atheism is the absence of belief that any deities exist."

Before you balk at the obvious conflict between that definition and what I called a misconception, let me explain. This definition is one of the best I have seen because it defines Atheism inclusive of both Weak Atheism and Strong Atheism. Strong or explicit Atheism is the one defined "in a narrower sense" and it is a positive claim with all the requirements of the burden of proof to bear. Weak or implicit Atheism is merely the absence of belief in gods, or what is sometimes called "the null position".

That may not seem like much of a distinction, but it makes a world of difference when it comes to the burden of proof. Making positive claims requires evidence. Disbelieving a positive claim doesn't. The misconception is in the assumption that all Atheists you might encounter are explicit or strong atheists, when it is just as likely they are weak or implicit atheists.

It is my opinion based on my experience that weak Atheism is more common than strong Atheism. I am a weak Atheist myself. I don't know if any gods exist so I don't believe in any. If it is a matter of probability, I am convinced that a godless universe is more likely, and I can give an explanation of that to anyone who asks. I think that the so called "New Atheist Movement" inspired largely by 9/11 and the "4 horsemen of the anti-apocalypse", is largely made up of weak Atheists.

2. Atheism, in and of itself, is a belief system or a religion if its own.

I feel as though I have been responding to this idea for as long as I have been an unbeliever, which I think illustrates the failure of the term "Atheist" as a descriptive and informative label or title. Given the definition of Atheism above, Atheism is not a doctrine or a belief system. The term "Atheist" does not include any information about any positive beliefs or even a moral compass. The only thing I can know about someone who claims to be an Atheist is that they don't believe in gods. It is really that simple.

I think the label fails to provide some of the most basic and vital information about me, which if known and understood by believers and outsiders, would dispel many of the common misconceptions about Atheists. I wish to be known as a moral person. I wish to be known as an unbridled thinker who isn't bound by any dogmas or belief systems. I wish to be known as a positive person who is happy with my life. I wish to be known as a person of honesty. I wish to be known as a student with a passion for Science and discovery. The label "Atheism" doesn't automatically denote any of these desired attributes. It is impotent to represent my humanity as well as what beliefs I do hold.

You will notice that I still call myself an Atheist anyway. I don't feel the need to abandon the term completely for two main reasons. First, it is perfectly adequate to denote my disbelief in gods. Why fix what isn't broken? Second, it seems to be somewhat necessary. So many people in my country believe in gods and are religious that I need a simple and direct way to denote my religious abstinence and disbelief. The concept of an unbeliever is sometimes so foreign to people in my country that they assume without the slightest controversy of thought, that you are at the very least "spiritual", if not religious. The fact that you might not believe in god doesn't enter into their minds at all. The bold and bright term "Atheist" cuts through that sort of naivety like butter.

I have found a part of the solution for myself, but not all of it. Atheism alone is not enough for me, because there is so much more to my life than disbelief in one specific positive claim.

I am...

1. A Freethinker

Belief systems have always required beliefs and prohibited beliefs. Free thought is without such constraints. It is not bound by authority or emotion. It is not ruled by social norms or cultural preferences. Free thought and free inquiry transcends the taboo and the sacred. It is freedom of the mind and heart. It is the denunciation of dogma and tradition for its own sake. It is sometimes freedom from a history of self doubt, self loathing, guilt, or pain. Belief systems impose a great deal of emotional duress on people, which they then learn to impose on themselves.

2. A Humanist

Contrary to common misconceptions, I consider it the responsibility and privilege of humanity to improve itself through kindness, compassion, generosity, and morality. Finding ourselves without an ultimate just and benevolent authority, my fellow Humanists and I have concluded that we must do everything we can to help each other, since we are the only hope of those who suffer. It is no longer acceptable to privately assume all will be well. It is just as important to cast aside laws and regulations which are designed to honor deities, and put into place those designed to perform a useful and positive purpose for men and women.

Equality and respect for sexes, races, cultures, sexualities, and all people is a value worth having. The injustices of the past will fade all the more quickly without faith in ancient bigoted texts. Feminism, Anti-Racism, Multiculturalism, and a Promotion of marriage and sexual rights for all orientations all play their part in making a happier world.

3. A Skeptic

For me, skepticism is a recognition of the inconsistencies and imperfections of human inquiry. We are fallible and it shows. To combat this, skepticism is without equal. Standards of evidence, reason, and logic help people abandon those propositions and claims which are without foundation in reality. Contrary to popular misconceptions, it embodies a spirit of perfect open mindedness in being open to hearing and considering claims without necessarily believing them. There is never any fear in considering or hearing an opposing viewpoint because it has yet to be criticized and examined.

It is a strong foundation for the methods of Science, which through basic and consistent rules, help discover the mysteries in the universe. Technology and innovation thrive off an atmosphere of constant self correction and striving for something better than what was understood yesterday.

Where is religion in all of this? Suffice it to say that whenever thought and inquiry are limited, demonized, or replaced by indoctrination, whenever immoral policies are made systematic and unchangeable, whenever dogma and blind faith rule over evidence and reason, you will find religion at the heart of it. You will also find that throughout history, it has been loathe to surrender its power, and will maintain it by any means necessary, however depraved.

I consider myself a proud part of a movement based in enlightenment values, and one with consistent political and social goals:

1. To humanize Atheism as a movement acceptable and normal in society and to remove negative stigmas.
2. To promote a separation of church and state and to prevent the favoring of any one religion over another in government and education.
3. To promote freedom of and thus from religion, and to promote the multicultural values of secular government.
4. To promote Science and reason in government and education.
5. To promote morality based in human rights and needs, while denouncing policies based in supernatural rights and needs.

There may be more, but I think that is a great beginning. It is important to me that as a movement we find a way to present ourselves not only as Atheists, but as Humanists, Freethinkers, students and promoters of Science, and Skeptics. For that to be the case, I think we need one label that can encompass all of those positions.

What would it be? I have no idea. I have heard that some of us have nominated ourselves to be called "Brights" which I dislike because it seems pretentious. That is the only serious suggestion I have heard. I have not thought of one of my own yet, but I am thinking about it all the time. I would be happy to hear if anyone on the forum has thought of something.

I hope this clears up a few things for anyone who might be confused. I know it isn't a simple subject, but I appreciate the efforts of anyone attempting to learn about Atheism rather than merely assuming things about us or believing what the preachers might say without investigating.

I would love to read any thoughts from other Atheists. How do you feel about the term "Atheist"? Do you call yourself something else?

Great post!

How about the term "Realist"?

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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17-10-2014, 05:51 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
(17-10-2014 05:30 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  
(17-10-2014 05:26 PM)cjlr Wrote:  Calling inadequately defined and incoherent concepts inadequately defined and incoherent is a game, now?

Since when?
It's playing semantics (which I know is a popular debate strategy, one which I hate) when the words have generally understood definitions.

"Well I don't have a stance on theism because I don't know what you mean by "god""....you find this to be useful?

There can be no discussion without some agreement on terminology. I do not see how you can fail to accept this and ever expect to meaningfully discuss anything.

The process of agreeing on terminology is a part of that which we call semantics. That it is the habit of the disingenuous to cry "but that's semantics" with nearly the frequency with which they cry "but that's ad hominem" is not of any particular import (notwithstanding that it is so much less often any such thing). The necessity for making clear just what the hell we're talking about is more important. At least so far as I see things.

If someone proposing an idea or concept cannot satisfactorily or coherently define it... then what? Just what the hell is there to discuss? Vacuous appeal to "generally understood definitions" is not helpful, any more than facetiously naive appeals to "common sense" or "intuition" suffice in any scientific discussion (of, i.e., cosmology, etc).

And so, to circle back around - I find wanting, in all commonly "accepted" claims of "God", any real coherence or relevance...

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17-10-2014, 05:52 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
(17-10-2014 05:47 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  It is not.
There is no coherent definition of a god, therefore there is no reason I need to take a stand with respect to a concept that is not defined.
I would think that for 90+% of the people who you might talk to in your day to day life, if you mention the word "god", you have pretty close to the same concept in your head.

And I agree that the definition is not coherent, because the qualities are inconsistent with reality. But the definition is there.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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17-10-2014, 05:54 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
(17-10-2014 05:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  
(17-10-2014 05:30 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  It's playing semantics (which I know is a popular debate strategy, one which I hate) when the words have generally understood definitions.

"Well I don't have a stance on theism because I don't know what you mean by "god""....you find this to be useful?

There can be no discussion without some agreement on terminology. I do not see how you can fail to accept this and ever expect to meaningfully discuss anything.

The process of agreeing on terminology is a part of that which we call semantics. That it is the habit of the disingenuous to cry "but that's semantics" with nearly the frequency with which they cry "but that's ad hominem" is not of any particular import (notwithstanding that it is so much less often any such thing). The necessity for making clear just what the hell we're talking about is more important. At least so far as I see things.

If someone proposing an idea or concept cannot satisfactorily or coherently define it... then what? Just what the hell is there to discuss? Vacuous appeal to "generally understood definitions" is not helpful, any more than facetiously naive appeals to "common sense" or "intuition" suffice in any scientific discussion (of, i.e., cosmology, etc).

And so, to circle back around - I find wanting, in all commonly "accepted" claims of "God", any real coherence or relevance...
Arguing that you don't know what somebody means by the word "god" seems to be the more disingenuous approach.

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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17-10-2014, 05:56 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
(17-10-2014 05:52 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  
(17-10-2014 05:47 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  It is not.
There is no coherent definition of a god, therefore there is no reason I need to take a stand with respect to a concept that is not defined.
I would think that for 90+% of the people who you might talk to in your day to day life, if you mention the word "god", you have pretty close to the same concept in your head.

And I agree that the definition is not coherent, because the qualities are inconsistent with reality. But the definition is there.

I disagree. Even within mainstream Christianity there is not even close to unanimous understanding of what "God" means. I've said before that I see it as a content-free syllable serving merely as a shibboleth.

That most people do not bother to make clear what they mean by the term and concept is all that allows them to carry on believing others feel as they do.

For instance, right now I am still totally unsure of what you mean by "the definition". Whose? And what is it?

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17-10-2014, 05:58 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
(17-10-2014 05:54 PM)Adrianime Wrote:  
(17-10-2014 05:51 PM)cjlr Wrote:  There can be no discussion without some agreement on terminology. I do not see how you can fail to accept this and ever expect to meaningfully discuss anything.

The process of agreeing on terminology is a part of that which we call semantics. That it is the habit of the disingenuous to cry "but that's semantics" with nearly the frequency with which they cry "but that's ad hominem" is not of any particular import (notwithstanding that it is so much less often any such thing). The necessity for making clear just what the hell we're talking about is more important. At least so far as I see things.

If someone proposing an idea or concept cannot satisfactorily or coherently define it... then what? Just what the hell is there to discuss? Vacuous appeal to "generally understood definitions" is not helpful, any more than facetiously naive appeals to "common sense" or "intuition" suffice in any scientific discussion (of, i.e., cosmology, etc).

And so, to circle back around - I find wanting, in all commonly "accepted" claims of "God", any real coherence or relevance...
Arguing that you don't know what somebody means by the word "god" seems to be the more disingenuous approach.

The thing is, I don't know. So there's that.

The statement "I believe in God" is, without a great deal of further elaboration and explanation, meaningless. It means millions of different things to millions of different believers.

There is absolutely nothing disingenuous in clearly stating an honest appraisal.

I'm afraid I must persist in completely failing to understand what, if any, point you're getting at.

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17-10-2014, 06:02 PM
RE: Beyond Belief- Beyond Atheism
Are you talking about the specifics of what the god does, or what an actual deity is?

I prefer fantasy, but I have to live in reality.
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