Atheist Assumptions (because a subject field is required)

Adroit
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Atheist Assumptions (because a subject field is required)

Since im new here and freshly atheist i consider myself in the learning phase, but i think its time i contribute an idea. Relatively small and simple, but something i think i can relate to more than most people here.

Sometimes in the atheist vs theist forums I see some stuff i dont really agree with. 1 it feels like we are using this place as a sanctuary where now we have the upper hand and can gang up on the minority of theists.

That doesn't bother me much though and it could be arguably a good formula for deconversion.

The main thing i was bothered by seeing us make assumptions about them. Assuming that they believe in God out of fear is something ive seen at least 2 times.

As corny cliche irrational and silly as it sounds, i loved God and i based a lot of my belief on that gooey feeling. and it was corny cliche irrational and silly. But i didn't see it that way and fear not a major compelling factor. I know that i would be very defensive if i heard that, not because it was true, but because it wasn't. A vast majority may believe out of fear. But we can't stereotype them all.

In my mind:
an atheists assuming a christian believes out of fear is like a christian assuming an atheist is possesed by the devil.

My thoughts, and i could be wrong.


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Well, first thing I have to

Well, first thing I have to ask you here is: What makes you think that's an assumption?

http://www.psych.ubc.ca/~ihansen/JOBSEARCH/religiondeath.htm

 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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I too have seen some

I too have seen some assumptions here that I don't agree with, such as the omnipotence straw man.  The buybull compares gods power to that of a unicorn, and constantly shows how incompetent he is, yet atheists here continually try to make christians answer for a literally all powerful all knowing god.  To be fair, many theists do consider their god to be omnipontent, but not all do.

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hazindu wrote:I too have

hazindu wrote:

I too have seen some assumptions here that I don't agree with, such as the omnipotence straw man.  The buybull compares gods power to that of a unicorn, and constantly shows how incompetent he is, yet atheists here continually try to make christians answer for a literally all powerful all knowing god.  To be fair, many theists do consider their god to be omnipontent, but not all do.

That's fine.  I'm sure most posters here understand that not all theists believe in omni-trait gods.  (Before I go further, you realize that all powerful is omnipotence and all knowing is omniscience and neither is dependent on the other: "...such as the omnipotence straw man ...answer for a literally all powerful all knowing god." ) Omnipotence is not a straw man argument; if there are people who believe their god(s) to be omnipotent (as you say), and there are, it can't be a straw man to ask them to answer for it.  The problem you see is mostly that people are not either forthcoming with their own definition of their god(s) or divulge incomplete definitions.  If people would describe their gods better we wouldn't have to argue based on any assumptions.  A problem there is that it is often not possible to describe gods well in the first place (especially when they're described by meaningless terms and broken concepts like omni-traits).  There are arguments against all manner of gods besides, so if it happens in retrospect that arguments against omni-traits (or specifically omnipotence) fail against a certain god-concept, it can still be easily refuted.

 

 

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I've discussed God with

I've discussed God with several theists who flatly refused to define their conception of God. One merely said "God is God," (and tautologies are tautological).

It's not actually necessary to refute any specific definition of God.  Making assumptions about someone's beliefs is a failure on our part, not the only valid path left by evasive theists.  If someone refuses to say what they mean by the word "God", the valid path left is "Well, it sounds like you have no idea what you're talking about.  Come back and try to convert me again when you figure out what you believe in."

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Thomathy wrote:big snip...

Thomathy wrote:
big snip... Before I go further, you realize that all powerful is omnipotence and all knowing is omniscience and neither is dependent on the other: " more snip
I'm well aware of the definitions, but how do you propose that one could be all powerful without being all knowing?  How could one have absolute control over something you don't have knowledge of?  (not to imply that omnipotence isn't a paradox unto itself)


 

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If god can do anything, can he make a hot dog so big even he can't eat all of it?


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Kavis wrote:I've discussed

Kavis wrote:

I've discussed God with several theists who flatly refused to define their conception of God. One merely said "God is God," (and tautologies are tautological).

Yeah, that seems to be one of the biggest problems when talking to many theists.

"I've yet to witness circumstance successfully manipulated through the babbling of ritualistic nonsense to an imaginary deity." -- me (josh)

If god can do anything, can he make a hot dog so big even he can't eat all of it?


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I think I understand the

I think I understand the spirit of your concern. In a perfect world we should like to treat each theist like they were the first one we ever encountered. With infinite patience we should work with each one to help them come to something close to a definition of what they believe. It is at this point we would begin the conversation.

The reality is that there is no way to get the truth of things out of every theist. God depends on the inability of its worhispers to describe it. If there were a good way to define god it'd be a part of the material world and immediately cease to be a figmant of their imagination. I do not have the patience or, quite frankly, the interest to find out the inner workings of every theists mind.

Another thing, as a general rule you will find that the moment a theist has defined a part of their belief they will either refuse to talk about it (reasonably) or they will change what they believe. Watch, this is almost always the case.

If I go to a xian board and start talking to them I will need to make this effort to some degree. It is, after all, their turf and I am coming into their community to disagree with them. That is just a matter of courtesy that I would (should I feel the need to frequent places like that) try to extend.

Adroit wrote:

In my mind:
an atheists assuming a christian believes out of fear is like a christian assuming an atheist is possesed by the devil

I disagree completely.

Christianity, as with all mono-theisms, is centered around the belief that the god is uber-powerful. The god is powerful enough that its wrath would be beyond description. The texts surrounding these warm and fuzzy gods gives ample reason to be terrified of the cruel bastards. If one believes that god has any power whatsoever over reality one would have to come to terms with the fact that this god is a violent psycopath bent on the destruction of mankind.

There is nothing about "atheist" that, in any way, suggests it is a philosophy having ANYTHING to do with devils or the like. A theist assuming otherwise is really just another reason to suggest that they have their heads up their asses.

 


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In discussions with theists

In discussions with theists I've not often come across fear being the reason for belief, as per pascal's wager, but I have found fear to be more tied in with their reasons for behaving in a moral manner.

Good luck pinning one of them down with that though "Don't think of it as fear of hell, man... think of it as love of heaven"


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hazindu wrote:Thomathy

hazindu wrote:

Thomathy wrote:
big snip... Before I go further, you realize that all powerful is omnipotence and all knowing is omniscience and neither is dependent on the other: " more snip
I'm well aware of the definitions, but how do you propose that one could be all powerful without being all knowing?  How could one have absolute control over something you don't have knowledge of?  (not to imply that omnipotence isn't a paradox unto itself)

 

 

Well, the paradox of those qualities is what I was getting at.  I didn't mean to come off as I did.  You're right of course, I should have said that omniscience is not conditional on omnipotence.  Omnipotence entails omniscience, I guess... but that's where things can get paradoxical.  Which is why it's not really worth considering.  Omni-traits are broken.


 

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To me it is clear that

To me it is clear that credulous belief is based on fear, specifically fear of the unknown. That's the whole idea of faith. I don't know, but I'm too afraid of not knowing, so I use this as justification for pretending that I really do know.

Whittle down their arguments and you'll end up at a core of fear. Fear of asking questions. Fear of examining the possibility that they could be wrong. Fear of what will happen after death. Fear of being alone or abandoned. Etc. The 'love' that is felt is incidental, it is a product of self-deception. But the root of self-deception is denial, and denial is a fear-based process. The love is really just disguised fear.

This is not to say that atheists are not often motivated to believe things out of fear, just that theists definitely do, regarding their god-belief.

Adroit, are you saying that losing your god-belief was as simple as considering a new argument and suddenly realizing you were mistaken, or was it more like this: "What? No, of course god exists. My parents believe and they wouldn't lie to me." Etc. etc. All these rationalizations are based on the fear of the unknown (that your assumed knowledge is not really good knowledge after all). The reason it takes so long for most people to deconvert is that they cling to their comforting beliefs out of fear.

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JillSwift wrote:Well, first

JillSwift wrote:

Well, first thing I have to ask you here is: What makes you think that's an assumption?

http://www.psych.ubc.ca/~ihansen/JOBSEARCH/religiondeath.htm

 

it is an assumption that the one person you are talking to believes out of fear. But it is not an assumption that many christians believe out of fear, there is a lot of evidence towards that.

natural wrote:

Adroit, are you saying that losing your god-belief was as simple as considering a new argument and suddenly realizing you were mistaken, or was it more like this: "What? No, of course god exists. My parents believe and they wouldn't lie to me." Etc. etc. All these rationalizations are based on the fear of the unknown (that your assumed knowledge is not really good knowledge after all). The reason it takes so long for most people to deconvert is that they cling to their comforting beliefs out of fear.

I was not like that, and im not trying to sound special, or smart. I'm actually admitting to being stupid. I thought i had concrete logical arguments for God. I never considered myself to have "faith" in God. I believed in God and I knew God was real. I was wrong. Yes when i figured it out that my logical arguments were bullshit it was not as simple as accepting the new belief. This is when the fear kicked in. If you remember my post a few months ago I was scared shitless, but not while i knew god existed. While i knew God existed I wasn't afraid.

marcusfish wrote:

I disagree completely.

Christianity, as with all mono-theisms, is centered around the belief that the god is uber-powerful. The god is powerful enough that its wrath would be beyond description. The texts surrounding these warm and fuzzy gods gives ample reason to be terrified of the cruel bastards. If one believes that god has any power whatsoever over reality one would have to come to terms with the fact that this god is a violent psycopath bent on the destruction of mankind.

There is nothing about "atheist" that, in any way, suggests it is a philosophy having ANYTHING to do with devils or the like. A theist assuming otherwise is really just another reason to suggest that they have their heads up their asses.

Point taken, and i take the comparison back.


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Adroit wrote:it is an

Adroit wrote:
it is an assumption that the one person you are talking to believes out of fear. But it is not an assumption that many christians believe out of fear, there is a lot of evidence towards that.
Still isn't an assumption, it's an educated guess.

Which is necessary as one thing that's ubiquitous amongst these micro-debates is a terrible lack of clarity. No one starts off with a description of their condition and reasons for belief, they lack the necessary personal awareness for it. So one has to make a guess or two at it to get them talking.

 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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JillSwift wrote:Adroit

JillSwift wrote:

Adroit wrote:
it is an assumption that the one person you are talking to believes out of fear. But it is not an assumption that many christians believe out of fear, there is a lot of evidence towards that.
Still isn't an assumption, it's an educated guess.

Which is necessary as one thing that's ubiquitous amongst these micro-debates is a terrible lack of clarity. No one starts off with a description of their condition and reasons for belief, they lack the necessary personal awareness for it. So one has to make a guess or two at it to get them talking.

 

OK, you are right it is an educated guess.

Edit: The definition I found says "to take for granted or without proof" I agree that making an educated guess is what you are doing, but an educated guess can be an assumption based on this definition.

but that is just getting into the correct usage of the word. Instead let me say this. Your guess that the person is believing out of fear could be wrong.

I don't know so much if making that guess is a bad thing anymore. As I said before, I could be wrong.

anyway I gotta head to a TF2 scrim

then i gotta do homework, i'll respond again tomorrow


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Adroit wrote:OK, I think I

Adroit wrote:
OK, I think I get it, I used the word assumption incorrectly, and you are right.

Edit: The definition I found says "to take for granted or without proof" I agree that making an educated guess is what you are doing, but an educated guess can be an assumption based on this definition.

but this is turning into if im using the word right. Instead let me say this. Your guess that the person is believing out of fear could be wrong.

Read what I wrote again. Now consider the subtle difference between an assumption (takes for granted) and an educated guess (we know it's likely but also know it's not absolute).

It's a guess, based on evidence. Yes, it could be wrong and that's the point of making the guess. The guess is nessesary to get a debate rolling, since motive is part of faith, and since people rarely question thier own motives.

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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ok im just defending myself

ok im just defending myself on my use of the word now. I underlined the part i was pointing out, and you took the other half :S. Before I posted this i didnt understand the use of making this educated guess. Now I understand and I don't think its a bad thing. All im trying to say now is that an assumption CAN be an educated guess. I never said they were the same thing. like a rectangle can be a square. I used a more vague term (assume) to describe something more specific (an educated guess). That wasn't a good idea on my part, but not incorrect.

 


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Adroit wrote:ok im just

Adroit wrote:
ok im just defending myself on my use of the word now. I underlined the part i was pointing out, and you took the other half :S. Before I posted this i didnt understand the use of making this educated guess. Now I understand and I don't think its a bad thing. All im trying to say now is that an assumption CAN be an educated guess. I never said they were the same thing. like a rectangle can be a square. I used a more vague term (assume) to describe something more specific (an educated guess). That wasn't a good idea on my part, but not incorrect.
Kid, I never said you were wrong, I'm just being more specific.


 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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Adroit wrote:natural

Adroit wrote:

natural wrote:

Adroit, are you saying that losing your god-belief was as simple as considering a new argument and suddenly realizing you were mistaken, or was it more like this: "What? No, of course god exists. My parents believe and they wouldn't lie to me." Etc. etc. All these rationalizations are based on the fear of the unknown (that your assumed knowledge is not really good knowledge after all). The reason it takes so long for most people to deconvert is that they cling to their comforting beliefs out of fear.

I was not like that, and im not trying to sound special, or smart. I'm actually admitting to being stupid. I thought i had concrete logical arguments for God. I never considered myself to have "faith" in God. I believed in God and I knew God was real. I was wrong. Yes when i figured it out that my logical arguments were bullshit it was not as simple as accepting the new belief. This is when the fear kicked in. If you remember my post a few months ago I was scared shitless, but not while i knew god existed. While i knew God existed I wasn't afraid.

Forgive me if this sounds callous, but it sounds like someone who's got arachnophobia saying that it wasn't fear-based because while he was away from spiders, he wasn't afraid. Of course religion is comforting. So is denial and self-delusion. They keep the fear at bay. But the fear is what sets up the barrier for honest self-reflection. The fear is what keeps the belief alive even in the face of contrary evidence.


 

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hazindu wrote:I'm well aware

hazindu wrote:

I'm well aware of the definitions, but how do you propose that one could be all powerful without being all knowing?  How could one have absolute control over something you don't have knowledge of?

To use a little bit of fantasy to make the point...

Remember those absent minded Arch-Mages, that could basically destroy cities with a single word... but FORGET the word?

Just because you have the power, doesnt mean your know how to use it (or even that you have it >.<  )

 

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Adroit, one of the things

Adroit, one of the things you're going to figure out as you move away from theism is that the fallacious thinking necessary for belief has infiltrated your thought processes much more than you believe now.  That is, the logic you used to believe in God has proved wrong, but you're going to discover remnants of the same kinds of arguments in other areas of your mind.

I'd like you to take an emotional step back and think about the practice of making guesses, educated guesses, assumptions, and so forth.  Why do you think it's wrong?  If you don't think it's always wrong, why do you think it's wrong in this instance?

Answering these questions may be harder than you think.  Realize that conclusions need true premises that connect with each other appropriately.  If you say that when we make a guess about a theist's motivation, we might be wrong, and so we shouldn't do it, you're skipping a step.  Why does the possibility of being wrong preclude making a guess?  Along with the possibility of being wrong is a possibility of being right.  Stereotypes don't exist because a group of elitist intellectuals got together in a secret room and decided, "Today, gentlemen, we shall start a vicious rumour that hispanic people standing outside of Home Depot are illegal immigrants."  Stereotypes exist because they're at least based on a kernel of truth.

Suppose that you were to go to a costume store, buy a lab coat, make yourself a nice shiny badge, and walk around with a clipboard outside of a hospital for an hour.  Would it be wrong for people to guess that you were in the medical profession?  Of course not.  They'd be making an educated guess based on the fact that most people wearing similar outfits in hospitals really are in the medical profession.  They would be wrong in this instance, but why in the world would you fault them for making the educated guess?

Now, think about this another way.  Suppose you were a scientist studying the behavior of chimps in the wild.  For months, you recorded their every action, studied the patterns, and began making predictions about their behavior based on your research.  Most of the time, your predictions would be pretty accurate, right?  Sometimes, the chimps would surprise you, and you'd make notes in your journal so that later, you could figure out what was different about the chimps, or the situation, or the action.  Does any of this sound out of the ordinary to you?  Of course not.  It's the way we learn about the world.  So, why does it offend your sensibilities when someone applies the same kind of methodology to humans?

When I was a Christian, I laboured under the delusion that people were different from animals.  We had souls, and free will, and a divine mandate.  Each person was a unique individual, loved personally by the creator of the universe.  It would be horrible for me to make any assumption about anyone else because only God can see into the hearts of men, and we are instructed not to judge, lest we be judged ourselves.

Once I left religion, I learned that humans are just smart primates, and they can be studied and predicted just like any other animal.  Sometimes they're harder to predict than other animals because of the immense amount of information they can store in their brains.  It's much harder to know exactly what's going on in a given situation because there are so many more possibilities with humans than chimps.  However, some things are still really easy to guess.  Suppose you're sitting at a bar, and you see a guy approach a pretty girl.  He talks to her for a minute, orders a drink for her, and she motions for him to sit.  He sits, talks with her more, and after a few minutes, tentatively touches her arm.  A few minutes later, he tentatively puts his hand on her knee.

What's going on?  He's trying to get laid.  Duh.  Not rocket science.  It's remotely possible that something entirely different is going on, but if we see that scene a hundred times, probably in 99 or 100 of them, the guy's trying to get laid.  In all cases, it's an educated guess, but human behavior isn't that hard to predict.  Humans go to bars to drink so they are brave enough to talk to other humans and ask them to have sex.  It's an expression of our nature.

In the same way, humans are motivated strongly by fear.  Christianity, as I'm sure you've come to realize, is really good at selling fear.  Believe in Jesus or YOU BURN IN HELL FOREVER!!!!!!  Don't drink because then you'll be A SINNER!@!!  Don't have premarital sex because GOD WILL BE REALLY FUCKING MAD!!!

Having recognized the emphasis on fear inherent in Christianity, why is it wrong for an atheist to make an educated guess that a particular theist is in some way motivated by fear?  There's a really good chance that it's a correct guess.  If it happens to be wrong, and we've stumbled upon one of the theists for whom fear has never entered into the equation, does it make everything we believe wrong?  Of course not!  It just means we found an exception to a general rule.  Will that theist's life be ruined because we guessed wrong?  No...  Will our life be ruined?  No....

In fact, what bad thing could possibly result from making an educated guess and being wrong?  The theists will think we're arrogant pricks?  Sorry, dude.  They already do.  It doesn't matter whether we're right or wrong on any issue.  They already think we're wrong on the big issue.

Anyway, I hope I've given you a different perspective from which to view this, or at least given you a couple of things to ponder. 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Hambydammit wrote: When I

Hambydammit wrote:

 

When I was a Christian, I laboured under the delusion that people were different from animals.  We had souls, and free will, and a divine mandate.  

 

Interesting fact:  Hamby was also British, or at least from a Commonwealth state, when he was a Christian.  I don't envy him all that labouring.  You can work up a pretty nasty odour as I understand it.  

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I must confess to one

I must confess to one assumption on my part, and one which has taken a very long time to train myself out of making.

 

It's not quite what you're talking about. Almost the opposite in fact. But for a long time I tended to make the completely false assumption that every time I met a person who was erudite, apparently rational and even more apparently curious about life, then I was speaking to an atheist.

 

I now make the educated guess that they are either atheists or potential atheists. More importantly, if I like them I now avoid the subject of religion entirely - at least for a very long time. When and if we do finally get around to it my educated guess is normally borne out to have been right. But the friendship of people with kindred minds and attitudes outweighs in importance all the divisive crap religion can potentially throw up so I find myself even purposefully steering conversations away from it these days.

 

Unless they push the topic of course, in which case I feel obliged to assist them in bringing out their potential!

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What are you talkin about

What are you talkin about homie??? Do you believe in ape stories??? How bout a big bang??? Talk about "kid" stories! Why aren't we turning into something if we are "Still evolving"???


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Why is sanctuary bad? Name

Why is sanctuary bad? Name me one human of the 6 billion that does not seek refuge in some way from things they don't agree with by seeking out like minded people?

It would be "ganging up" on theists if atheists were using government law to force theists to post here. When atheists go to theists websites they are outnumbered as well. I don't think either the atheist or theist should bitch about their treatment on privately owned websites. I think any human has the right to bitch when their government demands their silence.

This is an atheist house. It welcomes theists, but they should not expect kid gloves, other than the "kill em with kindness section".

I cant stand it when an atheist comes back from a theist website and bitches about their treatment anymore than I can stand it when a theist comes here and bitches about their treatment. If you jump into the ring, expect to get punched. What matters to me, when people scold my position, isn't that they are harsh to me, but WHY they say what they say, not the fact they say it.

Human empathy isn't about a utopia where we demand kid gloves all the time. Human empathy is accepting that we all want to hang out with like minded people, and we all like to bitch about things we disagree with. What should be important, isn't placating others sensitivities, but the common empathy that we should be aloud to bitch with the understanding that bitching doesn't have to end up in physical blows.

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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