How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
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04-04-2013, 03:36 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
Not totally in the know about Atheism+, but wondering if that's part of its purpose?
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04-04-2013, 03:49 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(02-04-2013 08:19 PM)TheGulegon Wrote:  In a Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, Daniel Dennet round table discussion, Sam Harris made the point that science doesn't really tackle, all too well, the "spiritual" aspects of the human experience. Now there's nothing about the concept that love, relief (etc...) is nothing more than a bunch of endorphines getting dumped in amongst our neurons that would cheapen the way I feel those emotions, but for some it would. First loves, first time a person is accepted by a large group of friendly people; there simply MUST be more to it than that for them. I'm an athiest, but even I think to take an awe inspiring, life changing moment and reduce it to a measured, clinical calculation takes something away from it. I don't know what that "it" is; just feels like somethings missing. That all being said, I guess I'm asking is there a way to meld the scientific, and the spiritual? If all the organized religions of the world were to disappear tommorrow, a new one would pop up the day after, and I doubt science could fill the void!
Suggestions/Thought?

So you have no problem with emotions and experience in general being the result of the states of specific parts of the brain, but you think there must be more to it then that? My experience is defined by my brain. If I'm happy, something in my brain is the cause (unless you jump back to what caused that state but I'm not going to overcomplicate it), I have no problem with that understanding.

Why is this a problem? Laying with and looking into the eyes of the one you love might be a very stimulating experience, a very enjoyable experience, but it's not mystical. It's a part of the physical reality. The realization of the root of these experiences makes my experience more positive (mostly) not less.

Is there a way to meld science and spirituality?

Well first we can throw out the word spirituality. Then replace it with the mind. Spirituality for all I can see is the minds awe of the experiences ticking by. Whether you want to call it your attachment to the experiences, or to the universe, whatever. What were talking about here is like a subjective science. I imagine if our race lives long enough we will develop accurate methods of testing such things, but as for now science can only study the objective; the stuff repeatable by others plus being falsifiable.

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04-04-2013, 10:11 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
We aren't even close to being able to scratch the surface of every bit of how the mind and consciousness works. Thing is... this is after we know a LOT of shit already. We live in the age of technology. We learn things at an exponential pace right now. Technology advances extremely fast.

We are in this interesting time where we are moving rapidly in knowledge and understanding. I think for many, the knowledge base is moving faster than the generations are capable of letting go of superstition. So here we are... mankind... holding on to superstitious things. Things that make us feel bubbly, warm, fuzzy and things that feel "mystical" or "supernatural" or "spiritual"... all words we use to explain things we do not understand. Things that cannot be proven or explained. But here we are slowly explaining things. People are in this odd place where we want to still feel all that fuzzy and bubbly space that makes us feel comfortable or explain the unexplainable as if there is something else there that helps us understand it... and on the contrary side we have things slowly (or rapidly) explaining it.

What exactly IS "spirituality" what is a spirit? How does a person even know they have one? We haven't even addressed such a thing scientifically and yet people want this interesting bend between the sciences and a "belief" or "hope" or semi-wishy washy wishful thinking system.

I can tell you that as an atheist, there is some part of my human experience that from time to time still floats towards things that "sound kind of good" - look at buddhism... out of every ideology or religion (and I've tried to study several, just so I understand people better)... buddhism probably reaches out and bites at me more than anything. But there are things that make me go "What are they even talking about?" and others that make me go, "Why would someone NEED this part of it?" and then other things I go, "yeah I can totally agree with that" or "I'm totally on board with that." Some would argue it's a philosophy and not a religion. A way and not a defining pattern. But the rational skeptic in me says, "Read it, study it, think, but do it skeptically of course."

One could also argue... "Who doesn't want to be 'enlightened?'..." in the sense that who wouldn't want to be wise, aware or understanding about the world?

I greatly enjoy philosophy, but the more I study it, the more I just see a lot of people who want to deeply understand EVERYTHING and I see even more people who start explaining things in ways that seem... well... unnecessary. Then we start calling it a "spiritual experience" or this "higher sense."

Facts are pretty amazing. Life is pretty amazing. Humans want to feel good. Who doesn't? We want to be smart, wise, aware... etc...

Now the question is: Do you NEED a philosophy, belief system, wishful thinking, floaty and bubbly outlook or some sort of "extra" to get there? Or is there simply an approach to get there? Do we make it more complex than we need to?

When we look at life from a gigantic perspective... things can be complicated to understand. But when we break things down, they can sometimes be really easy to understand. Look at the human body... try and describe how it all works and you could go on for hours. If someone asks what it's made out of, we can get as simple as "atoms and energy" - and atoms are easy to describe. Energy. Atoms... When we look at space and try and understand the universe, you could go on for hours about that as well... but you can still break things down to a simple understanding... planets... asteroids... stars... gas clouds... matter... atoms... energy.

So do we need a complex way of looking at life? Or is there a more simple, easier way to break things down? Or does it need to be complex?

Or is it that we want it to be more complex that we look for such things?
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04-04-2013, 10:35 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(04-04-2013 10:11 PM)Logisch Wrote:  What exactly IS "spirituality" what is a spirit? How does a person even know they have one? We haven't even addressed such a thing scientifically and yet people want this interesting bend between the sciences and a "belief" or "hope" or semi-wishy washy wishful thinking system.

This.

All I can figure is all this talk has to do with people wanting their warm fuzzy feelings they once had in church to be "something more" than "just chemicals." As others have said, that doesn't cheapen warm fuzzy feelings for me, at all. I don't need to explain happiness, love, and feelings of community by injecting them with a good dose of woo woo.

Another thing I don't get: many people can accept the idea that things like depression and schizophrenia may be caused by chemicals, etc going wrong in the brain. The same people who think chemicals can make you feel bad oftentimes don't accept that chemicals can also make you feel good. (As a former heavy drug user, I certainly understand that chemicals can impact your thinking and feelings in a profound way.) While some might also say demons cause bad feelings, many of the saner-sounding ones only want to involve woo and mystery when good feelings are concerned. They value feelings like love so much that they dislike the idea of it being chemically-based.

Personally, I just do not see any need at all to get woo involved. Even if we have little specific understanding of certain things, why say feelings have anything to do with "spirituality?" I see no connection, except that people correlate them because they get warm fuzzy feelings in church or while praying.

For me, it's like when people say atheism makes life meaningless, because it means we probably weren't created especially for this planet by an all knowing creator who watches us masturbate. Those people say that this can't be "all there is" to reality. Likewise, people say chemicals/brain function can't be "all there is" to feelings like love, as if that somehow cheapens it.

As for alternatives to make you feel all warm and fuzzy, I'd say that many people feel that way outside of church.

"I wouldn't recommend sex, drugs or insanity for everyone, but they've always worked for me." - Hunter S. Thompson

Watch footage of old Beatles concerts and look at the girls screaming and crying. Same for Bowie's Ziggy Stardust the motion picture. It's just like church for some people: emotions, crowd, a sort of group hypnosis brought on by loud music. Unfortunately, there aren't many good bands around these days. People cry while watching TV shows and movies, they get emotionally involved. People can feel a sense of awe looking at nature, animals, the stars. I swear I've had feelings about math before. And so on. I dismiss the whole argument that, if you erase religion from your life, all the joy goes out of it and you're missing some profound shit. I mean, hell, I don't even accept that "spirituality" is a thing. It seems to me that people use this world to describe their warm fuzzy feelings, to somehow elevate these feelings and make them seem more mysterious.
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04-04-2013, 11:03 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
My contention is, yeah I understand that my experience here is the product of physical processes interpreted by my brain as my existence. That's actually pretty cool to know that it can be understood as well as it is and will probably be mapped out in better detail in the future. Doesn't cheapen the experience one bit.

You can call it spiritual, profound, love, chemical, emotional, etc, I don't really care. I know what I enjoy and makes me happy, and I know what sucks balls. I will continue to learn as much as I can about my existence while thoroughly enjoying it as much as possible. I'm interested in the details, but not concerned enough to let it ruin the ride.

I only get one ride, and I intend to make the most of it.

But now I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.

~ Umberto Eco
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05-04-2013, 07:55 AM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
As far as I'm concerned, atheists don't have to provide an "alternative"

Atheism deals only with with whether or not there is/is not gods, and whether or not you do or don't believe in them
That's it.

Whatever else you make of life beyond that is not within the scope of atheism.
Much in the same way the big bang/origin of the universe has absolutely nothing to do with evolution.

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05-04-2013, 09:16 AM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
Does anyone think that emotions are not always necessary? It seems to me that people tend to be more biased when there are emotions involved. Consider
However, being emotionally, we are more open to suggestions and maybe could understand things more clearly. But do we understand our emotions?

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Benjamin Franklin
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05-04-2013, 09:26 AM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(05-04-2013 09:16 AM)Chaos Wrote:  Does anyone think that emotions are not always necessary?

No.

I had to appear cold and indifferent to events that must have wrung the heart of anyone possessed of human feelings. I might not even look away when afraid lest my natural emotions got the upper hand. I had to watch coldly, while the mothers of laughing or crying children went to the gas chambers. On one occasion two small children were so absorbed in some game that they refused to let their mother tear them away from it. Even the Jews of the Special Detachment were reluctant to pick the children up. The imploring look in the eyes of the mother, who certainly knew what was happening is something I shall never forget. The people were already in the gas chamber and becoming restive and I had to act. Everyone was looking at me. I nodded to the junior noncommissioned officer on duty and he picked up the screaming struggling children in his arms and carried them to the gas chamber, accompanied by their mother who was weeping in the most heart rending fashion. My pity was so great that I longed to vanish from the scene; yet I might not show the slightest trace of emotion.”, Rudolf Höss

That's what happens if there are no emotions. Emotions are an inseparable part of who we are. How we act upon then is a whole other story, of course.

Quote: But do we understand our emotions?

Don't know about anyone else, but I understand mine pretty well. Too well at times. As well as those of a lot of people. Not everybody and not all the time, but most of it, most of the time.

If you meant whether we understand them as a biological process, the answer is, again: yes, we do.

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05-04-2013, 09:45 AM (This post was last modified: 05-04-2013 09:48 AM by Chaos.)
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(05-04-2013 09:26 AM)Vera Wrote:  No.

I had to appear cold and indifferent to events that must have wrung the heart of anyone possessed of human feelings. I might not even look away when afraid lest my natural emotions got the upper hand. I had to watch coldly, while the mothers of laughing or crying children went to the gas chambers. On one occasion two small children were so absorbed in some game that they refused to let their mother tear them away from it. Even the Jews of the Special Detachment were reluctant to pick the children up. The imploring look in the eyes of the mother, who certainly knew what was happening is something I shall never forget. The people were already in the gas chamber and becoming restive and I had to act. Everyone was looking at me. I nodded to the junior noncommissioned officer on duty and he picked up the screaming struggling children in his arms and carried them to the gas chamber, accompanied by their mother who was weeping in the most heart rending fashion. My pity was so great that I longed to vanish from the scene; yet I might not show the slightest trace of emotion.”, Rudolf Höss

That's what happens if there are no emotions. Emotions are an inseparable part of who we are. How we act upon then is a whole other story, of course.

Don't know about anyone else, but I understand mine pretty well. Too well at times. As well as those of a lot of people. Not everybody and not all the time, but most of it, most of the time.

If you meant whether we understand them as a biological process, the answer is, again: yes, we do.

Emotions are not always constructive. Some people might feel different than me and you. Some might find pleasure in pain or things that we don't like or disagree with. So, here's a dissonance. I wonder if there could be other tools to help to understand reality more accurate without becoming too emotional? I guess rationality is a part of our emotions too. Consider

I wouldn't be so sure of my emotions...

"The way to see by faith is to shut the eye of reason." - Benjamin Franklin
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05-04-2013, 05:03 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(05-04-2013 07:55 AM)LostLocke Wrote:  As far as I'm concerned, atheists don't have to provide an "alternative"

Atheism deals only with with whether or not there is/is not gods, and whether or not you do or don't believe in them
That's it.

Whatever else you make of life beyond that is not within the scope of atheism.
Much in the same way the big bang/origin of the universe has absolutely nothing to do with evolution.

Exactly,spot on. Just set a good moral example do not make an ass of yourself while spouting off like your the official spokes person for atheism. PLEASE

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