A question to theists without prejudice

Nordmann
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A question to theists without prejudice

A question to god-believers (and I'm genuinely interested in the answer you give).

 

If a definitive incontrovertible proof should force you to abandon your belief in a deity what do you reckon you would lack which you presently have? (Or more importantly "miss"?).

 

I ask as a person who only experiences huge benefit from a rational conviction that your blind faith in other people's wild assertions is actually a handicap to achieving happiness, happiness being a concept I closely identify with the superiority of knowledge over assumption. Personally, I experience proofs daily that the reversal of this stance leads to terrible problems for the individual bordering sometimes on psychiatric illness in its effect and intensity. I promise not to gainsay or treat with disrespect your assertions - I am really curious as to what they are founded on.

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Wonderist
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theacrobat wrote:I don't

theacrobat wrote:

I don't typically respond to people who read what's written, and make assumption that are way out the ball park from them. Some how from what I've written you've gathered that I'm trying to give everyone a great moral lesson, win over converts to Christianity, project myself as the picture of morality and love, and that I hate atheist. Good for you. 

Now, I can sit here and go over every one of these weirdly erroneous assumptions of yours, but why bother? You'll just continue to make them, and waste my time in the process. I understand, I have some sympathy, you've been butt hurt by some Christian dude somewhere, so anytime a theist pops up somewhere you foam at the mouth, and can barely think straight. There, there, I'll leave you alone. 

The irony is delicious. You don't even see yourself in what you accuse of others.

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Nordmann
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It's always a little

It's always a little tempting to get into a tit-for-tat argument with someone over the relative merits of each other's subjective beliefs. But when I do so I like to think I am being listened to as well.

 

However when fairly innocuous and easy to understand points - such as the one I made about Norwegian history for example - are ignored, gainsaid gratuitously, disbelieved or have proved too difficult for one's interlocutor to comprehend, I have learnt to take these things as a sign that the debate, for what it was worth, is over.

 

But I am grateful to theacrobat for his input. He has made a bigger effort than others to describe exactly what he would classify as something "lost" to him should his theism be categorically refuted and invalidated. It's a shame this got swamped in amongst all the other stuff.

 

Incidentally a faith in the concept that "love conquers all" is equally irrational to faith in a god figure. Neither are supported by observation. But as a concept it is not in itself a religious one, simply a strongly held aspiration being imbued with rather more purpose and meaning than the evidence can support. But it does neatly illustrate how the removal of religion from the equation does not inhibit some people's inclination to "believe" in the unsupportable in any case. I feel this is important to remember, especially when arguing on behalf of rationality in the mistaken assumption that a victory for the argument in terms of logic could ever translate into a universal application of that logic, and I am therefore grateful to theacrobat for providing such a vivid illustration of this antipathy to reason on the part of many people in actual practise.

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Nordmann wrote:However when

Nordmann wrote:

However when fairly innocuous and easy to understand points - such as the one I made about Norwegian history for example - are ignored, gainsaid gratuitously, disbelieved or have proved too difficult for one's interlocutor to comprehend, I have learnt to take these things as a sign that the debate, for what it was worth, is over.

I had responded to a secondary post of yours, and I had overlooked the previous ones. Most of the point were still covered, but this one wasn't:

Quote:
PS: Norwegian propensity to altruism, just like its atheism, is born out of an historically lengthy period of often abject poverty (wealth only came to Norway in the 1980s) coupled with a healthy dose of realism engendered by its political unwillingness to kowtow to aggressive neighbors who controlled it for centuries, or for that matter kowtow to a state religion which attempted to extract tithes and obligations from what it thought was a captive clientele without giving anything in return except the advice that they should be happy with their impoverished lot. It is most definitely not a "luxury" enjoyed by privileged people. It is in essence an extension of its people's practicality and an aspect to the country's character which its people are rightly proud of since they know how long it took to be in a position to be altruistic in a meaningful and practical way.

Claiming Norwegian history, as atheistic one is a misnomer. Norwegian atheism wasn't born out of of abject poverty, but rather prosperity. Atheism didn't get Norway to where it's at, but rather when Norway got to where it's at, atheism arose. Countries were abject poverty remains the norm religiosity remains high. 

The fact is Norway's history is a religious one, in fact a Lutheran one for the past 500 years. No one aware of this basic fact could claim Norway's history as a godless one, but your irrational reading of history sure allows you to doesn't it? 

If wealth only came to Norway in the 1980s, this would also be where we would find the real rise in atheism not prior. Atheism has historically been shown to be on the rise when people become self-sufficient, less dependent on communities, reliant more so on government, than everyday people, and such nations that can afford to do so, are prosperous ones, not ones in throws of abject poverty.

And secondly, protest against a state sponsored religion for enforcing tithes and obligations, is not a sign of irreligiousilosity in the protesters, anymore so than those ancient world Jews who protested against the harsh demands of the pharisees were less religious than them. The Jesus movement was founded on a protest against the religious leaders of the time for having exacting demands on the poor, and the early followers were far from irreligious or even less religious than the leaders they protested against. Most theist, even the most religious ones would be opposed to forced payment of tithes mandated by the state, but such a position says very little about how religious they are.

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Incidentally a faith in the concept that "love conquers all" is equally irrational to faith in a god figure. Neither are supported by observation.

Actually it's only irrational for atheist to believe it, it is as nonsensical as an atheist who says he doesn't believe in God, but believes organic life has an inherent sense of intelligent design behind it, or that he doesn't believe in God, but believes in heaven, and Satan. 

My belief in "love conquers all" is born out by observation and experience, is was an encounter with a pervading and visceral sense of love that led me to theism, and Jesus Christ as the image of that love, as the living embodiment of what it means to me, that makes me a Christian. Love has continually reigned triumphant in my life, even against its odd, even in the face of my skepticism, and indifference that battles to pervade. 

For black slaves who believed in "loves triumph", in the hymn of we shall overcome, that one day they would have their freedom, even when there was no reason to believe they would, saw it in their eventual freedom. The Black Civil Rights Movement was founded on a such a belief, in a motto of only "love can", and very few would call that movement anything less than triumphant. 

The belief that love will reign triumphant in the end, that to love cannot be in vain, even when we can't contemplate the outcome, even if we die for such a belief may be wrong, but it's far from irrational to hold, only by atheist.

I sincerely doubt that anyone here can show how my belief in love, is irrational, they can make claims for why they believe it to be wrong, but I'd wager they won't be able to demonstrate why it's irrational to hold. 

Quote:
But as a concept it is not in itself a religious one, simply a strongly held aspiration being imbued with rather more purpose and meaning than the evidence can support.

You my friend seem to have no idea what a religious worldview is. A worldview the confers a sense of inherent meaning and purpose to existence, particularly a transcendent one, which a belief such a love conquers all, or lov will reign in the end is, is a religious one. There's no if ands or buts about that. No play on words needed to justify it. 

Quote:
theacrobat for providing such a vivid illustration of this antipathy to reason on the part of many people in actual practise.

Well my friend, if you think i have antipathy to reason you sure don't know me. A keen sense of self awareness doesn't allow me to have such antipathy, and a deep desire for learning about our minds, religion, human nature, etc, leaves very few to claim themselves as more reflective on my beliefs than me. This sort of condition led me to disbelief at a young age, well into my adult hood. I wasn't led by a passionate distaste for everything religious, but I lost faith even thought i had no animosity towards it, even when I was fond of it in the faith of my poor mother. 

It wasn't because I saw my "atheism" as an alluring badge of honor, or felt the need to evangelize disbelief, or to make friends, or to look cool, it wasn't out of a desire to be there, or even not to be there, but rather it's were my own reflection and thoughts led me to. Very few here could claim their disbelief is more reflected on than me. I'm a man of doubt, but serious ones, not the trivial ones you all make a circus out of.

I always thought that i would be the last person to ever believe in God again, in fact, most people i knew, theist and atheist alike would say the same, but here I am, a believer, out of the same reason and reflection that once led me to disbelief.

Most of you don't even have a clue about religion, or belief at all, you're too deluded by your passions to see straight. You're views are far from informed by understanding the psychology of the religious mind, or even informed by science, rather the lot of you seem so deluded by your atheism, which you percieve as supreme. 

So save your allegations of irrationality for another day when you can show it in me. I would love to see someone try and claim they are more reflective on their atheism than I was, or understand far more about my religion, and worldview than I do. 


 

 

 


Nordmann
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Your assumptions regarding

Your assumptions regarding my character and what I know are redolent of those you accuse others of with regard to your own. Forgive me if I disregard therefore either your assumptions or your disclaimers (or both) as a trite disingenuous.

 

You have missed the point of Norwegian atheism in an historical context, seeming to think it arose in the 1980s. You apparently know nothing for example of Arnulf Øverland, or indeed the support for his views back in 1933, not to mention the rationalist tradition he represented or its prevalence in Norwegian society. You seem to think that the Lutheran church imposed on Norway by Danish rulers was something Norwegians once cherished and/or believed in with an enthusiasm equal to their Danish colonists. You have seen the membership numbers, but know nothing about committment to that membership on the part of the enforced members.

 

Again, thank you for your input which is now beginning to reach such a level of subjectivity, personal assertion, and reference to yourself alone that it must make terribly interesting reading to its writer but is now frankly nothing less than a derailment of the topic under discussion. You did provide an answer to the question I asked and for that I am grateful, but that was several posts in the past and I am beginning to get the impression that your long derailments subsequently which deflect others from the original point of this thread are intentional.

 

Forgive me if I am wrong. I assume however your next post will confirm or refute my suspicion.

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Nordmann wrote:

You have missed the point of Norwegian atheism in an historical context, seeming to think it arose in the 1980s. You apparently know nothing for example of Arnulf Øverland, or indeed the support for his views back in 1933, not to mention the rationalist tradition he represented or its prevalence in Norwegian society. You seem to think that the Lutheran church imposed on Norway by Danish rulers was something Norwegians once cherished and/or believed in with an enthusiasm equal to their Danish colonists. You have seen the membership numbers, but know nothing about committment to that membership on the part of the enforced members.

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No, you made a claim you still haven't supported. This is what you claimed: " atheism, is born out of an historically lengthy period of often abject poverty (wealth only came to Norway in the 1980s)".And what I claimed counter to this was: "If wealth only came to Norway in the 1980s, this would also be where we would find the real rise in atheism not prior."

Atheism didn't rise out the mire of abject poverty in Norway, it rose out its period of wealth, which you yourself claimed it came in 1980s. Then you tried to refute this by refering to the atheist poet Arnulf Overland, of course he didn't come out of the mire of abject poverty, but rather during the 1900s when Norway was already a prosperous nation.

And I never claimed that Norwegians were in perfectr harmony with the state sponsored lutheran church, but rather i claimed that regardless if they were or not, Norweigners were dominataly religious individuals for much of their history. Those periods of abject poverty would be marked by a high degree of religious belief, not atheism.


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Quote:... during the 1900s

Quote:

... during the 1900s when Norway was already a prosperous nation ...

 

Norway in 1933 was not a prosperous nation by any means, and nor had it been since its subsumation into the Danish hegemony, through its later existence as "Sweden's western coast" for a hundred years, and then a painful transition to independence which saw what was left of its national assets blatantly stripped by its two ex-colonial rulers. It went in 1905 from being a country which periodically created wealth for foreign owners to one which found it difficult to create wealth at all.

 

Quote:

... Norweigners were dominataly religious individuals for much of their history

 

Says who? The church? I recommend you read Finn Wiig Sjursen's "Den Haugianske Periode 1796-1850" which documents three initiatives by the Lutheran state church, then recently taken over by Sweden, to address the problem of "heathenism" in Norway. In the country's first census after independence in 1905 only 60% admitted to an affiliation with the church (in a land where 100% affiliation was guaranteed through legislation) and an impressive 35% entered "menneskekjærlighetiske" as their religion - a charming word which literally translates as "lover of humans" and which today is replaced by "humanistisk", the ethic of choice for 73% of the population in the last census. This trend away from a belief in god may coincide in the last thirty years with an increase in affluence but it is no way attributable to it, having long predated it and with roots in a cultural attitude unrelated completely to wealth but related completely to having arrived in the christian fold late and under duress. Norway's enforced poverty subsequently served to reinforce the Norwegian view that religion was manifestly a political tool of oppression and its dogmas maleable and opportunistically applied con-tricks. Try reading Arne Amundsen and Henning Laugerud's "Norsk Fritenkerhistorie 1500-1850" before you attempt to aver otherwise again.

 

The truth is, theacrobat, that you have made a counterpoint to mine which is founded in inaccuracy and a completely wrong version of historical events. You adhere to this essentially ignorant stand out of vanity, not out of any adherence to the value of veracity. If you cannot cede that your misinterpretation of readily available data is self-serving and untrue then you simply invalidate all further assertions you make. If you have no regard for the truth except those portions which support your bias then you may as well continue inventing facts - there is no difference between such a policy and blatant lying.

 

But intentional or unintentional, your lies are derailing my thread. If you do reply again, please post to a new thread dedicated to Norwegian atheism, thanks.

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Nordmann wrote:The truth is,

Nordmann wrote:

The truth is, the acrobat, that you have made a counterpoint to mine which is founded in inaccuracy and a completely wrong version of historical events. You adhere to this essentially ignorant stand out of vanity, not out of any adherence to the value of veracity. If you cannot cede that your misinterpretation of readily available data is self-serving and untrue then you simply invalidate all further assertions you make. If you have no regard for the truth except those portions which support your bias then you may as well continue inventing facts - there is no difference between such a policy and blatant lying.


Well, you sure don't know how to make a character assessment do you? Listen buddy, I have no qualms about being wrong in my views here, in fact I'll readily admit to being no expert on Norwegian history. Your view may just as well be right, but you just haven't made a sound case for it. When you do present a case, it seems mired in confusing cause with causation, and when I point this out to you, you ignore my objections. When I claimed that an individuals gripes with a state sponsored church, is not a sign of being irreligious, you ignore it, and then keep harping on about peoples gripes with the state church to support your case. 

I humbly ask that you apologize for letting your passions get the best of you in accusing me of blatantly lying. We hold positions that may in the end be wrong, even your position may be wrong don't you agree? That doesn't mean that we were blatantly lying when we held them. I've taken on nearly every one of your claims, while you've ignored nearly every rebuttal, so you tell me whose giving the impression of being devious here? 

Somehow you believe you made a compelling argument, but rather than seeing that half the time it's incoherent, and trips over it self. 

Like in this instance where you claimed: "atheism, is born out of an historically lengthy period of often abject poverty (wealth only came to Norway in the 1980s)". Notice you were the one that marked when the lengthy period of abject poverty ended in Norway, as the 1980, that is what you yourself claimed!

Then when I claimed that the real rise in Atheism in Norway would have occurred when Norway came upon wealth in the 1980s, not out during the period of abject poverty,  you went back on yourself in the last post and claimed that Norway had difficulty creating wealth during this period. 

Than I'm accused of being a blatant liar because you don't know how to coherently make your case?

Quote:
In the country's first census after independence in 1905 only 60% admitted to an affiliation with the church (in a land where 100% affiliation was guaranteed through legislation) and an impressive 35% entered "menneskekjærlighetiske" as their religion - a charming word which literally translates as "lover of humans" and which today is replaced by "humanistisk", the ethic of choice for 73% of the population in the last census.

Ah, this may be so, but would you happen to know the break down of these percentages? if they35% belonged to the wealthy and prosperous class? I'd bet you'd find a clear discrepancy in these numbers based on those living  in abject poverty and the wealthy. 

But let's get a few things straight, the claim you're making is a sociological one, that Norwegian prosperity, it's status of being a welfare state, is brought on by it's atheism, that when nations becomes less religious they become welfare states. rather than the other way around. 

And you accuse me of ignoring the facts? Sociological studies on this matter beg otherwise, as this recent WSJ journal article reveals: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB123690880933515111.html

Quote:
Norway's enforced poverty subsequently served to reinforce the Norwegian view that religion was manifestly a political tool of oppression and its dogmas maleable and opportunistically applied con-tricks. Try reading Arne Amundsen and Henning Laugerud's "Norsk Fritenkerhistorie 1500-1850" before you attempt to aver otherwise again.

Notice again, if we look at the history of such a view of religion (notice I didn't say the church) the view that religion is manifestly a political tool of oppression and dogma is not the view of the oppressed, but rather the well off. African Slaves who were actually forced into Christianity, still didn't believe  that this new found religion (even if they found there master's church to be oppressive, but the church is not religion) to be oppressive, in fact their hymns and their spirit of hope celebrated it, linking their plight with that of the ancient Hebrews, and Exodus, and the suffering Christ. Why do you think this was so? Why didn't they find the religion that was in fact imposed on them to be oppressive? Why did they found it liberating instead? Do you even have a clue as to how to answer this question? 

If anyone fails to have a sociological grasp of history it's not me, it's you, who can't seem to get yourself to understand this basic fact. It takes a real order of mental gymnastics to claim that the Gospel, and the sense of religion that's promoted within the pages is designed to be a political tool. 

If there is one thing we do know that rose from abject poverty it is those thoughts. This is why oppressed people every where, regardless if they are Christian or not, have a sense of affinity for Jesus (even if they don't believe him to be the son of God), from Muslims, to Buddhist, to Hindus, and etc....

You're right people who view religion (not the church) as a tool of oppression are inclined to be atheist, but your wrong in believing that such people rose out of mire of poverty, rather than prosperity and wealth. 


Nordmann
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You're right. Your grasp of

You're right. Your grasp of Norwegian history is poor, extremely poor in fact. Just as your attempt at a sociological assessment of its people today is rather crap too. Start a thread about it if you want to discuss it further, but I would think you better employed actually reading about the subject if you really want to divest yourself of your ignorance in the matter. You seem to have a problem grasping what others tell you, but it's worth a try.

 

End of derailment.

 

 

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Nordmann wrote:You're right.

Nordmann wrote:

You're right. Your grasp of Norwegian history is poor, extremely poor in fact. Just as your attempt at a sociological assessment of its people today is rather crap too. Start a thread about it if you want to discuss it further, but I would think you better employed actually reading about the subject if you really want to divest yourself of your ignorance in the matter. You seem to have a problem grasping what others tell you, but it's worth a try.

 

End of derailment.

Whatever floats your boat dude. You can believe in whatever fairy tale you want about the rise of atheism in Norway, of Atheism as that night and shining armor that saved it's civilization from moral decay and oppression. You got it, that's your religion, you can believe it all you want, just don't expect me to buy it on faith alone, or on a suggestion that I need to invest in a book to believe in your silly claims. 

 

 

 

 

 


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I never made that claim, no

I never made that claim, no matter how many times you aver that I did. Might I suggest you get that trait of failing to distinguish between fantasy and fact seen to?

It might explain a lot of other mistakes you've made in your life, ... dude.

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Nordmann,I truly do hope you

Nordmann,

I truly do hope you start a thread about the Norwegian history of atheism in your country. I'm a bit of a history nut- just any time period, if I'm learning about it, I love it. So, if/when you do start it, I'd like to know.

Also: this isn't exactly what you asked for in your OP, but I can answer with the hindsight that comes after not being Christian for almost ten years now.

When I was Christian, I believed that all other moral and ethical systems were forerunners of Christian morality/ethics. I did not believe, as some do, that such similarities came from the Devil (in fact, as time went on, I started to think of the Devil more in Judaic terms- that he can't really do anything more than give a few hints, that he couldn't just completely sway people to his side; so the Devil, for me, was never really a factor; I just saw the Devil as an excuse for any sort of religious retaliation). Yes, this did mean I was looking down my nose at the people who didn't quite 'get it right' (IE- anyone pre-Jesus, anybody not Christian after Jesus). I was, not surprisingly, widely ignorant of how much Christianity had changed over time, and just how different my sect's Christianity was ('free' LOL Baptists) was from others.

What happened to me was this: I started actually learning history. Not *ahem* 'official' Christian histories, not apologetics, but actual history. And I saw how much was just taken, wholesale, and just how much earlier these stories were around. Then I started thinking (always a good start, yes?): Why did God wait so long to 'reveal' himself? There were, after all, NO monotheists, at all, until at least the 6th/7th century BCE- and considering all the icons and evidence of non-Yahweh sacrifices and offerings, even in 'the' Temple, that's pretty debatable as well.

I also asked: If the covenant between 'the' God and the Jews was supposed to last until the end of time, why did God see fit to change it? How does it make any sense? Here I'm thinking God is immutable, does not change- only our perceptions or beliefs about him change- and God's out and out changing. I also wondered: What about the people who came before Jesus' time, or couldn't hear Jesus' message (IE- the vast majority of the world, during or after Jesus' supposed lifetime)? THAT'S something that'll really fuck you up, if you're A) Paying attention, B) Not an eyes-for-Jesus-only selfish prick, C) Have even a tiny sense of justice or fairness.

Add in a dash of 'That's not what Isiah's talking about!!!' and BOOM: My deconversion.

Now at that point, I'd already realized that the morality that Christians claimed to have invented wasn't even close to new. Though they did ramp up the guilt and talk about sins; the degree was new. Though the later Stoics did come close.... I didn't learn about that till later, but if anyone's reading this, it's something to bring up to your Christian acquaintances/friends/relations.

So, what I did was realize that I didn't need God to be good (I'd sort of guessed that at that point- considering all the really awful things I'd seen Christians do, 'in the name of Christ,' no less, that God didn't make people better, or really even give them any 'spiritual gifts' - but I couldn't admit that God wasn't necessary for years.) Then I simply took out the (unreflected upon) air of superiority (no, I don't buy this whole 'oh, but we're all sinners and blah blah blah'- no; the air of superiority thoroughly comes off Christians in WAVES), dumped the bullshit about women and homosexuals, cast aside (FINALLY) my YEC bullcrap indoctrination, and was pretty much where I am today.

Basically, I did what a lot of 'progressive' Christians do (follow current changes in Western morality, see the Bible as a bunch of [really shitty, authoritarian...*hem* excuse me] stories, ignore the huge chunks that fly in the face of decency, kindness and scientific evidence) but I dropped God. For a while I tried to be a polytheist (which, I think, makes *more* sense than monotheism; not terribly provable either way, but more sensible to think there are a bunch of gods that keep fucking with each others' work than one god that can't get its shit together), looked into the Mesopotamian pantheons (I still really like what they thought of the afterlife), but after a while... didn't really see any strong evidence for any sort of god.

Which brings me to where I am now: I believe- well, I should say, I know- that men create gods. It's not the other way around. This is not to say that such mental constructs don't have an enormous effect on us- quite the opposite. I just don't think they live much far beyond some sort of consensus about what 'they' are.

As to my morality: Well, there are few really *hard* hard-coded behaviors in human brains. Certainly parent/child incest is a HUGE 'hell fucking no.' Possibly cannibalism- well, not ritual cannibalism, but a far more theoretical type where you just sort of take a chunk out of someone and eat it raw. Though even that gets... bent sometimes; there are rumors that such behavior was used as a terror tactic during the last Congolese civil war.

Even so, getting a society to work involves consensus with regards to morality. It's not always precise, by any means (until just a few decades ago, almost everyone *knew* that women and black people were inferior to white men, for instance) but we all do the best we can. And with the help of science, we can excise the unnecessary or just plain harmful from our ethics/morality.

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If you don't believe your non-belief then you don't believe and you must not be an atheist.