How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
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08-04-2013, 02:47 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(08-04-2013 02:37 PM)kim Wrote:  
(08-04-2013 12:10 AM)Ghost Wrote:  If science cannot answer every question, then it does a disservice to humanity if it tries to pretend it can.

I don't think science pretends it can answer every question. Science observes so it can provide verifiable resources which can help to discover some answers to some questions. Just by doing that, science asks more questions than it ever answers.

I always thought it was religion and other forms of woo that pretend to have answers for every question. It's science that is able to say "we don't know yet." On the other hand, religion tries to answer the question of our origins by saying an invisible skydaddy made us, because the bible was written before we we knew anything about fossils and evolution. Primitive people wondered if people still exist somewhere else after we die (and there are good books and talks as to why people believe this), so woo tells us we live forever and meet up with dead loved one to eat crumpets and drink tea with a good looking hippie that washes on a cloud in the sky. This is probably more wishful thinking than merely lack of scientific method, though,but it still is an example of people plugging in "god" or "woo" everywhere they don't understand something. On the other hand, science evolves, corrects itself, and grows. Religion says it doesn't need to grow, it already has all the answers, because if you believe a book is divinely inspired, it wouldn't need corrections or additions.
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08-04-2013, 02:55 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(08-04-2013 02:01 PM)TheGulegon Wrote:  Luminion. What I want to ask? I guess the most naked, unashamed way to say it is:

How do we destroy humankind's need for religion?
I want to know, because I want to watch all faith based religions on planet Earth die off, either naturally like the dodo, or aided a bit like smallpox.
In asking for an alternative I reveal my fear.
I assume the dodo was given millions of years of a chance, and failed. But I don't have a million years. It only took from the late 1950's to the report/study in 1980 that humanity had rid itself of a terrible plague, to destroy smallpox!
If we teach children something as a fact, they keep it as a fact even if they learn critical thinking later. Very few people dig back in memories and examine their old beliefs.
Jacque Fresco would say, we need RBE for material security, so people aren't materially dependent on family or church. Secondly, education. We educate them out of it. It can't be through force, it would just go underground.
If children are taught the cathegory of make-believe (for adults) and/or about many other similarly mythical religions, they don't tend to grow up as believers.

I'd agree, because religion is more like tribalism than actual caring what's in Bible. People have a great capacity to think and believe and if they don't use it, culture (religion) fills it for them with bullshit. Education must teach people to use all their capacity, to think with all their mind, to learn about themselves and examine their personality, to use their talents. Religion is like a mold, it thrives in dark places.

But for now, I'd say it would be easier to spread tolerance by example. Try to find areas where we agree. If you disagree with the means, try to ask careful questions. Say often that you don't know or don't understand instead of saying "that's wrong" or "you're full of crap" Wink And try to ask someone who actually lives in fundieland. I've met relatively few religious people.
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08-04-2013, 03:04 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(08-04-2013 12:10 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Prometheus.

Enjoy the view from high up that wall, the rest of us will be down here knowing exactly what we're talking about, wondering what you're doing up there.

Science is NOT the study of everything in the universe. It is the study of the interaction of matter and energy and nothing else and cannot offer any comment on that which is not that, nor on that which does not offer empirical evidence.

You're actually re-defining science when you say it's the study of "everything in the universe". You can't just define the arts, the fine arts and the humanities out of existence because you want to.

Philosophy is science? Astrology is science? Poetry is science? Theology is science??? This is news to me.

I have a friend doing her PhD in poetry and she can pretty much guarantee you that poetry is not a science.

You can't apply the scientific method to literature because you can't. Not because there's no need. If you could apply it to everything, restaurants would never fail. Films would never flop. Stand up comics would never get heckled off the stage. All they'd have to do is plug values into a formula and they'd get perfection. Because nobody dislikes formulaic art, right?

You know who says science has limits? Scientists.

If you want to reduce my commentary to a "type" of comment", you know, an off the shelf one that you've heard a million times, you better bring a better argument than "nuh-uh".

The issue is not whether or not we NEED science to do something, it's whether it CAN do something. Your argument is akin to me saying, sure, I could swim across that lake, but I don't NEED to, when I know damn well I'd drown.

I'm not saying that science is bad. And as a social scientist, I actually have to fight to have my work recognised as science. But science has distinct limits that are easily identifiable. I don't see what's so hard about admitting that.

If science cannot answer every question, then it does a disservice to humanity if it tries to pretend it can. That sort of thing stifles inquiry and exploration of other aspects of our humanity. On the most basic level, science is literal. It is not emotional, poetical, abstract, spiritual, dramaturgical, intuitive, creative, or lyrical. We need to explore those things just as much as we need to cure cancer and put a man on the moon.

Just don't start your post off talking about me in the third person and telling me that I don't know what I'm talking about. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that'll piss a guy right off.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

You should try the atheism plus forums. I hear they take on a lot of social justice issues and have a lot to do with your social constuctivism philosophy.

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08-04-2013, 03:12 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
I have had some time to reflect on the question.

I think if you want to provide an alternative first you have to study psychology, religion, and then write a secular system that would provide for the same need that religion provides.

After that you let it into the wild. To let people tear it apart and then revise rework and try again.

Personally I don't need an alternative. The point of my first post was that there is a wonderful freedom in thought once you leave religion. To form your own ideas and check facts. For those who like to think and think for themselves, will provide themselves with their own alternatives if they desire them.

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09-04-2013, 06:57 AM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(08-04-2013 01:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  
(08-04-2013 05:55 AM)MuffinPuffin Wrote:  I don't understand why people have such a great need for there to be "more" all the time.

Why can't it just be what it is?
It's like people saying, that has to exist, because when you die, you can't just be dead and that is it. There need to be something more.

Also, why does "more" always only apply to humans. If there really were more to love, then what science tells us, then why would that only apply to humans, and not cows, fish or any other living being.

the same thing goes for stuff like, say Karma. Why does it only apply to humans?

On topic - I would say the best alternative to spirituality, would be learning to simply accepting there is nothing more, and learn to be happy without the constant need for there to be more.
Like, you say there has to be something more to love, than a "bunch of endorphins". But why? Would it really change anything, if there was nothing more to it?

And again, no other animal seems to have a problem with there being nothing more to love, than what it is.
Animals are such well-adjusted beings. Most of what they need they find in their genes. They grow to be a properly fluffy red fox, a properly singing songbird, a properly toothy crocodile...
But who can say what is a proper human expression? Where are human limits? We are unfinished. We are amazing pieces of capacity and capability walking around, unlike animals. It's our great weakness yet a great strength as well. We can't help it but change and improve, it's either improve or stay helpless. And once we start with education and other kinds of progress, who are we to draw a line? Who is there to say, now I am educated enough and I don't need to learn anything new ever?

The persistent desire for more may seem like a curse at first. We need to control the base urge for endless material wealth and transform it into desire for non-material treasures. From relationships and knowledge to more subtle experiences like inspiration and other kinds of expression. There are many areas of expression, because human society is very complex. We can't succeed in all of them in a lifetime. But the things we learn well, we can upload and share them online Wink

Karma applies to humans... does it? Does anyone here actually believe it? Well, just in case you're interested...
Theosophists say humans have "soul" (a superconsciousness) that can express itself through just one person, it's individualized. With animals, one monad (something like a soul) ensouls whole species and animals have just very general groups with collective karma, or even there's just the karma of animal kingdom as a whole.
If you care about the topic (which I think you probably don't) you're welcome to read up on the reincarnation and karma.


Karma, ensoulment, reincarnation. Just more made-up shit.Drinking Beverage

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Science is not a subject, but a method.
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09-04-2013, 07:59 AM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(08-04-2013 02:01 PM)TheGulegon Wrote:  How do we destroy humankind's need for religion?

Separation of faith from religion. Religion can go the way of the dinosaur, but faith is an inherent condition brought about by simulation of future.

And the problem is, many don't wanna do the deep thinking. God becomes something to attack, something to follow; but rarely, something to define at the personal level. The "common man" has a deep desire for predictability, for unchanging moral law, for a cross-cultural paradigm. Proselytizers take advantage of this need, and continually spin up new gods.

All in all, it is responding to evolutionary drive. So, no. "Ain't gonna happen" is the simple answer. The more complex, long term answer is dependent on emergent technology, social and environmental awareness, and the realization that any god predicated by humans, is gonna be human.

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11-04-2013, 01:15 AM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(08-04-2013 03:12 PM)fstratzero Wrote:  I have had some time to reflect on the question.

I think if you want to provide an alternative first you have to study psychology, religion, and then write a secular system that would provide for the same need that religion provides.

That requires explicitly defining this "need." And like I said, social groups, family, hobbies seem to fill the same need for community and shared interests. If there is still a need that remains for some people, I'd suppose it has something to do with anxiety over death, and if a person has been indoctrinated to believe in life after death, and told over and over again that people "need" to believe in life after death and that justice will be meted out by a supreme being, then that could well be the most difficult part for people already indoctrinated; I doubt it would work well or often. I'd suppose that children who have not been indoctrinated would need no such thing; they'd be content with friends and hobbies. They wouldn't have been told there is a necessity for woo woo in their lives.

Quote:Separation of faith from religion. Religion can go the way of the dinosaur, but faith is an inherent condition brought about by simulation of future.
Faith in what? I don't think you need belief in spite of lack of evidence to survive. In fact, to me, this seems a bit contrary to sanity. Predictability is usually based on evidence. We assume the sun will come up every day because it's done do every day of our lives, and for a damn long time before we were born. We assume a lot of things, and people are prone to cognitive errors, but I don't think any of that is a "need" for "faith."
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11-04-2013, 06:49 AM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
Hey, Amy.

Strictly speaking, the need is sharing. In the cultural sense.

We're genetically designed to live in society. We're memetically designed to live in society.

Small band tribes with populations below the Dunbar number use kin selection as their basis of interaction. Once we surpass the Dunbar number and head into hierarchy territory, kin selection is supplanted by virtue of the sheer number of social connections one must maintain. You need new bonds like religion, race, nationhood, or something like subculture. These things bring people together. As divisive as religion may be externally, internally it deftly brings people together.

The alternative we're talking about is simply a social mechanism that brings people together in community. That's all.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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11-04-2013, 03:06 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
(09-04-2013 06:57 AM)Chas Wrote:  
(08-04-2013 01:37 PM)Luminon Wrote:  Animals are such well-adjusted beings. Most of what they need they find in their genes. They grow to be a properly fluffy red fox, a properly singing songbird, a properly toothy crocodile...
But who can say what is a proper human expression? Where are human limits? We are unfinished. We are amazing pieces of capacity and capability walking around, unlike animals. It's our great weakness yet a great strength as well. We can't help it but change and improve, it's either improve or stay helpless. And once we start with education and other kinds of progress, who are we to draw a line? Who is there to say, now I am educated enough and I don't need to learn anything new ever?

The persistent desire for more may seem like a curse at first. We need to control the base urge for endless material wealth and transform it into desire for non-material treasures. From relationships and knowledge to more subtle experiences like inspiration and other kinds of expression. There are many areas of expression, because human society is very complex. We can't succeed in all of them in a lifetime. But the things we learn well, we can upload and share them online Wink

Karma applies to humans... does it? Does anyone here actually believe it? Well, just in case you're interested...
Theosophists say humans have "soul" (a superconsciousness) that can express itself through just one person, it's individualized. With animals, one monad (something like a soul) ensouls whole species and animals have just very general groups with collective karma, or even there's just the karma of animal kingdom as a whole.
If you care about the topic (which I think you probably don't) you're welcome to read up on the reincarnation and karma.


Karma, ensoulment, reincarnation. Just more made-up shit.Drinking Beverage

Fellow athiest here. Come on, man! You know why people want "more"! Because we don't want to die! I've read where some athiests post that they have no fear of death, but I'm not going to play that game. I am an athiest, but I fear death!. I don't want to go. I might even be willing to make a deal with the devil and float above the living and take notes, for god, to keep my heart pumping and keep the experience of life coming! We both know that's not going to happen. But I understand the fear. I am an athiest who doesn't want to die.
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11-04-2013, 10:12 PM
RE: How can we Atheists provide an alternative?
^I think, among the indoctrinated, a lot of people value comfort over fact, yes. And if you were told you'll never die, you'll hang out with Jesus on a cloud and listen to angels playing shitty harp music for eternity, then you might want to hang on to this comforting, "death doesn't exist" fantasy no matter what.

But still, if a child was never indoctrinated, was never told he was immortal in a sense, he wouldn't believe that. He'd grow up understanding that death happens, EVEN IF he feared it and didn't want it to happen. He would have no comforting fantasy repeated to him over and over by authority figures and his peers, he would accept reality. And I don't think it would be all that traumatic (on the other hand, deconversion can be traumatic to some for this reason).

@Ghost: religion isn't the only thing that gives people a sense of community though. It's true that it does, but so do other things. People would bond with each other over other things. Certainly, people tend to act in tribalistic sorts of ways, in-group/out-group, and so on, but since religion isn't the only thing bonding people together, getting rid of it wouldn't matter much.
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