Fanatical atheism?

I Have A Clever Name
Posts: 1
Joined: 2007-01-12
User is offlineOffline
Fanatical atheism?

I've taken a cursory look around this forum and I have to say that I'm a little concerned. A lot of what has been said on these forums is derogatory and patronising rather than constructive and insightful. It seems to me a lot of you guys have abandoned one form of fanaticism and adopted another school of faith-based belief - secular humanism. The belief that dropping religion and looking to the future with nothing to guide us but reason will solve this worlds problems is essentially an article of faith. Almost humans have a tendency to devote themselves to a particular cause in order to derive a sense of solidarity or meaning, or else do so in the belief that the said cause will create a better world. Bertrand Russell defined fanaticism as believing one matter or cause to be pre-eminent among all others in one's life. I think to a large extent this is whats happening here with certain posters.

Now, I understand that in the USA secularists are under intensive pressure from bigots ignorant of everything but biblical learning. However, for the purposes of your cause don't you think your image is a little counter-productive, perhaps even hypocritical? This gung-ho attitude seems obnoxious to an outsider. In your disdain for theists and whomever else you decide to brand as 'irrational' you are in many respects mirroring the aloof attitude taken by religious fundamentalists. In many ways you are attempting to shove a message down unwilling throats and flaunt the superiority of your belief system over others. Take your the usage of your term 'mind disorder' in your site banner as an example. That implies that any who hold a religious belief do so because they are mentally unwell and are therefore inferior as human beings. Calling a person psychologically unstable simply because they hold a different opinion or think differently about a certain matter is pretty damn scary. If you're hoping to convince others they aren't going to respond very kindly to that kind of sentiment - imagine if you saw a site banner that read 'fighting to free humanity from the mind disorder known as atheism'. As I said, a little scary, and not very endearing. And yet given the history of human civilisation its arguably a claim with more weight behind it - assuming that we base what is 'natural' on what is the most prevalent.

Polite, intelligent and moderate debate is the best way of sorting through conflicting ideas and beliefs. Calmly explain your position, and the ellucidate reasoning behind it - don't try and force it on others. Respect is integral to this process. Try and show it to others even if it isn't reciprocrated. I guess what I'm trying to say is that despite the apparent sound reasoning and supportive evidence behind your beliefs, your attitude to others is something you really need to take into consideration. The last thing you want to do is adopt the attitude and approach of a hardcore evangelist - try not to fight fire with fire! Atheism may be very the metaphysical foundation upon which you choose to live your life, but don't let atheism itself become the focal point of it. Just like religion, socialism, fascism, patriotism etc. secularism can to some extent become an all-consuming ideology rather than merely an accepted truth. I'm interested to hear your thoughts, will check back later.


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10549
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
Being polite and debating

Being polite hasn't accomplished anything so far, and people have been trying for thousands of years. Time for something else.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
And secularism is not in any

And secularism is not in any sense based on faith.


Zhwazi
Zhwazi's picture
Posts: 459
Joined: 2006-10-06
User is offlineOffline
MattShizzle wrote: And

MattShizzle wrote:
And secularism is not in any sense based on faith.

In a sense it's based on negative faith, aka doubt. Negative faith doesn't have the same ignorant drawbacks as positive faith. So theists recognize a kind of "faith" in atheists, they misidentify it.


Vanguard
Vanguard's picture
Posts: 44
Joined: 2007-02-01
User is offlineOffline
I do agree that we should

I do agree that we should be less antagonistic in our approach and to be more constructive. In order to spread our rationale and critique of faith we must be more tactical. Soceity is plagued by egotistical debate rather than constructive conversation. We really need to embrace the latter. In doing so we are far more likely to be successful.

 

"It seems to me a lot of you guys have abandoned one form of fanaticism and adopted another school of faith-based belief - secular humanism. The belief that dropping religion and looking to the future with nothing to guide us but reason will solve this worlds problems is essentially an article of faith"

How exactly you concluded secular humanism to be "faith-based belief" is rather puzzling. I think you are really underestimating the virtuous power of reason here also. Do you propose that continuing with religion as a guide is a better path? And again, how this is an "article of faith" is extremely puzzling.

 

"We must question the story logic of having an all-knowing all-powerful God, who creates faulty Humans, and then blames them for his own mistakes."
- Gene Roddenberry


Iruka Naminori
atheist
Iruka Naminori's picture
Posts: 1955
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline
I've been trying to get a

I've been trying to get a handle on extremism because I've seen first-hand what extremism can do. For the past twenty years I've been on a path of discovery. The first twenty years of my life were so riddled with indoctrination I didn't know who I was, let alone what I believed. Therefore, I tread with care.

It is possible that what someone may see as atheistic extremism is simply atheists questioning a societal norm: Faith is sacred.

It's become taboo to question another person's faith, no matter how whacky or detrimental to mental and societal health it is. If a person says, "Hitler won World War II," he or she is going to get called on it. If a person says, "The word 'us' is nominative," he or she is going to get called on it. If a person says Pythagoras totally screwed up his theorem concerning right triangles, he or she is going to get called on it. If a person says, "I don't exist," he or she is going to get called on it.

If, however, a person says, "I'm going to heaven because I believe in Jesus," that person gets a pass because talking honestly about religion has become taboo. What he or she is saying is just as ridiculous as the items I listed above, but it is not subject to normal debate, so the belief lingers on. I would argue that faith is not only illogical, but destructive, but that's for another thread. Eye-wink

Books on atheism, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


Andygal
Posts: 2
Joined: 2007-02-17
User is offlineOffline
If I said that there was

If I said that there was a  pink elephant in the sky that talked to me I would. quite rightly, be deeemed insane. Yet people who claim that God talks to them are consindered preferectly reasonable. I do not see why this should be.

 Richard Dawkins put a quote in "The God Delusion" which is quite pertinenet. I don't remember the exact quote but it was something along the lines of "If one person has an irrational belief it is called insanity, if many people have an irrational bellief it is called Religion".

 The difference between me and a good portion of North America is that said portion of North America sees a difference between pink sky elephants and the Christian God and I do not. They are both equalily non-exsistent as far as I can tell. I cannot prove it, but I've yet to see any evidence that supports either pink sky elephants or God, and I've seen quite a lot of evidence that the Bible is wrong and that the scientific viewpoint explains the way the world really works. This is not "faith" this is si simply my judgement based on the evidence. If somebody can produce legitimate evidence that God exists then I will concede the issue. I've yet to see any such evidence.


hello
Posts: 179
Joined: 2006-12-20
User is offlineOffline
to say humans have some kind

to say humans have some kind of value worth preserving is to take on an assumption with faith.


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2650
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
hello wrote: to say humans

hello wrote:
to say humans have some kind of value worth preserving is to take on an assumption with faith.

I disagree. I don't have faith in just base humanity, but evidence for its progression in our success so far as a species and civilization.

I do see an intrinsic value in every person's life simply because in some small way it affects my own. Would I understand my emotions if there weren't others to elicit them from me?

And that leads us to the first post. Obviously, I Have A Clever Name, has seen something that elicited a response from him/her. For some of us, the degree of response depends upon the degree that we are acted upon. The more obnoxious the idea seems, the more obnoxious people become. It isn't necessarily irrational, but a symptom of being human.

With that said, there is a line. People know where it is. I know where it is. Sometimes crossing it feels good. That makes us human. If we were forced to suppress that then it would be a 'cult'. Just by the very fact that accusations of 'cult-like behavior' and 'irrational behavior' remain and are responded to should be enough evidence against it.

However, some people just don't get it and never will. It doesn't mean they're 'hated', but rather reviled and eventually avoided. 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


hello
Posts: 179
Joined: 2006-12-20
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh wrote: With

darth_josh wrote:

With that said, there is a line. People know where it is. I know where it is. Sometimes crossing it feels good. That makes us human. If we were forced to suppress that then it would be a 'cult'. Just by the very fact that accusations of 'cult-like behavior' and 'irrational behavior' remain and are responded to should be enough evidence against it.

However, some people just don't get it and never will. It doesn't mean they're 'hated', but rather reviled and eventually avoided.


I got lost a bit here. what does 'it' refer too?


Sapient
High Level DonorRRS CO-FOUNDERRRS Core MemberWebsite Admin
Sapient's picture
Posts: 7522
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
I Have A Clever Name

I Have A Clever Name wrote:
It seems to me a lot of you guys have abandoned one form of fanaticism and adopted another school of faith-based belief - secular humanism.
I don't agree, but if I had to be called fanatical then let it be calling me a fanatic for logic, reason, and science. 
Quote:
 The belief that dropping religion and looking to the future with nothing to guide us but reason will solve this worlds problems is essentially an article of faith.
 We don't claim that as a statement of absolute fact.  We think it's worth seeing how much better this world will be without religion and instead embracing principles of logic and critical thinking, we have no reason to believe the world won’t be abundantly more enjoyable as a byproduct.  
Quote:
Now, I understand that in the USA secularists are under intensive pressure from bigots ignorant of everything but biblical learning. However, for the purposes of your cause don't you think your image is a little counter-productive, perhaps even hypocritical?
No and no.  We get this hypocrisy claim from time to time, and nobody has managed to show us just how we are hypocrites.  Feel free to show us.  Generally it seems that people calling us hypocrites ascribe to us some sort of set of beliefs that aren't ours to then in turn say we act differently than our stated beliefs.  It's likely that you merely misunderstand what we hold to be our value system and then in turn think we are being hypocritical to those values. 
Quote:
This gung-ho attitude seems obnoxious to an outsider. In your disdain for theists and whomever else you decide to brand as 'irrational' you are in many respects mirroring the aloof attitude taken by religious fundamentalists.
I wouldn't have called fundies aloof, nor would I have called us aloof.
Quote:
In many ways you are attempting to shove a message down unwilling throats and flaunt the superiority of your belief system over others.
This term, "shove down throats" is so vague, and metaphorical I worry it now has no real meaning.  I would classify "shove down throats" as a belief or system in which someone has no choice but to recognize it.  For example "In God We Trust" on our money was not only "shoved down our throats" but was put on our money as a violation of our Constitutional rights.  However, a Jehovahs Witness knocking on my door, a person praying on a street corner, and Christians visiting our website I would not consider as something being shoved down my throat.  I have no problem with people speaking out about what they believe, it is our right, and in fact it's very human.  You in fact in this email have set out to convince us of what you believe.  In the same way a Christian would knock on the door of my house to proselytize to me, you in fact have done the exact same thing.  And this is the risk you run with terminology like "shove down your throat."  If you meant that one goes out and tells the world how they perceive it, and seeks to convince others of their own perceptions, than you have just done this yourself.  Furthermore, you have done it in my home (this site) and I haven't sought you out on your turf. For future reference this is what it looks like to have a belief shoved down your throat:

Quote:
Take your the usage of your term 'mind disorder' in your site banner as an example. That implies that any who hold a religious belief do so because they are mentally unwell and are therefore inferior as human beings.
They are mentally unwell, and I never implied they were inferior, that is your own poor assumption  
Quote:
Calling a person psychologically unstable simply because they hold a different opinion or think differently about a certain matter is pretty damn scary.
I'd never call someone psychologically unstable for merely holding a different opinion; I'd call them unstable for being unstable.  I have disagreements with mentally fit people all the time.   
Quote:
 If you're hoping to convince others they aren't going to respond very kindly to that kind of sentiment
Fine, they can go to another website.  This site isn't for theists, it's to unite atheists who agree with us, and so we can affect change elsewhere in the world.  
Quote:
- imagine if you saw a site banner that read 'fighting to free humanity from the mind disorder known as atheism'.
 It wouldn't bother me. 
Quote:
 As I said, a little scary, and not very endearing. And yet given the history of human civilisation its arguably a claim with more weight behind it - assuming that we base what is 'natural' on what is the most prevalent.
Let's not assume, and let's not succumb to logical fallacies like argumentum ad populum if we do. 
Quote:
Polite, intelligent and moderate debate is the best way of sorting through conflicting ideas and beliefs.
It's certainly a very desirable way, and I'm glad there are plenty of websites doing that today. Feel free to find one, or are you more interested in "shoving your beliefs down our throats" on this board? Eye-wink   
Quote:
Calmly explain your position, and the ellucidate reasoning behind it - don't try and force it on others.
Now I see the problem, you think that not being calm equates to forcing a belief on someone, I find this to be severely inaccurate.  Forcing a belief on someone is when they have no choice, against their will to accept a belief that is to govern their life.  In order for me to survive in this country I have no choice but to use money that says I trust in god, this belief was literally forced upon me.  However the beliefs that RRS brings to the table are forced on nobody.   
Quote:
Respect is integral to this process.
1. Respect is earned2. Don't respect things unworthy of respect3. It is because I respect the believer, that I'm willing to speak so negatively of their beliefs, they need to be shaken up.  The polite way hasn't worked for thousands of years.  
Quote:
Try and show it to others even if it isn't reciprocrated.
Personally I think I'm abundantly more respectful to theists then the "nice guy atheist" counterpart.  I think we already do this.  Treating theistic belief as if it deserves respect is one of the most disrespectful things someone can do when engaging in a discussion about religion. 
Quote:
I guess what I'm trying to say is that despite the apparent sound reasoning and supportive evidence behind your beliefs, your attitude to others is something you really need to take into consideration.
Thanks, good advice.  We've done that.  Our attitude has been formed over time by a core team that has well over 100+ collective years of experience addressing religion.   
Quote:
The last thing you want to do is adopt the attitude and approach of a hardcore evangelist - try not to fight fire with fire!
I think I've addressed this point already, and have established that there are certain things evangelists do that we all do.  I wont fight fire with fire by trying to convince people of beliefs I cant prove, however I might fight fire with fire by speaking up about my beliefs in whatever forum necessary (just as you've done). 
Quote:
 Atheism may be very the metaphysical foundation upon which you choose to live your life, but don't let atheism itself become the focal point of it.
I couldn't care less about atheism.  Atheism isn't listed in our motto, it's not listed as a core foundation of our site, it's not on a list of rules, it just happens to be the word that describes us once we are honest enough to abandon theism.  I care more about being free of theism than I care for the word that describes e once I have. 

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.


hello
Posts: 179
Joined: 2006-12-20
User is offlineOffline
geez sapient, that visual

geez sapient, that visual wasn't necessary to get your point across.


Sapient
High Level DonorRRS CO-FOUNDERRRS Core MemberWebsite Admin
Sapient's picture
Posts: 7522
Joined: 2006-04-18
User is offlineOffline
hello wrote: geez sapient,

hello wrote:
geez sapient, that visual wasn't necessary to get your point across.
I'm just really tired of the lame metaphor "shove down your throat."  To this point in my life I have never actually seen a belief shoved down someones throat, and it seems that every person who rails against such acts is doing exactly what they are railing against.  The fact is (and no offense to him/her) the original poster thinks people shouldn't "shove their beliefs down others throats" while telling us what he/she believes on our website.  It would seem to be an ironic hypocrisy indeed.

 

- Brian Sapient


Buy popular atheist books and support the Rational Response Squad at the same time on Amazon.


hello
Posts: 179
Joined: 2006-12-20
User is offlineOffline
i understand your point i

i understand your point i think, i'm saying that the image didn't help me understand your point better, it just made me want to look away from the thread.


Vastet
atheistBloggerHigh Level ModeratorSuperfan
Vastet's picture
Posts: 10549
Joined: 2006-12-25
User is offlineOffline
Good. Maybe it will allow

It did me to. But then most religious acts do. Taken in this context, maybe you'll see why we despise it so.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.


Iconoclastithon
Posts: 12
Joined: 2007-02-21
User is offlineOffline
Absolutism SUCKS!

Fanatical Thiesm, monotheism, Fanatical Atheism, Fanatical Deism, Fanatical anything, any form of ABSOLUTISM is a poison to the human race and all other species and the planet and nature we inhabit!

In Reason: 

The reasonable Deist:

Iconoclastithon

"There is no greater weapon against errors of any kind than REASON, I have never used any other and I trust I never shall"-Thomas Paine

"God is the power of first cause, nature is the law, and matter is the subject acted upon"-Thomas Paine


jmm
Theist
jmm's picture
Posts: 837
Joined: 2007-03-03
User is offlineOffline
sure, atheism requires

sure, atheism requires faith (especially the strong atheism of the RRS), but i don't think that faith is the issue at hand, i think it's the object of faith. 

all my life i've heard half-witted christians rail on atheists with the tried and true "atheism requires just as much faith as christianity" schitck, and it misses the point completely, i think.  obviously an atheist is more comfortable putting his faith in the idea that there is no god than the idea that there is a god, and vice versa for the christian.  sure, they are both matters of faith, but the point is how convinced you are of what it is you're putting your faith in.  

"faith" is becoming one of those vague throwaway words like "soul" that have come to mean absolutely nothing.   


DoubleB
RRS local affiliate
Posts: 34
Joined: 2006-12-17
User is offlineOffline
jmm wrote: sure, atheism

jmm wrote:

sure, atheism requires faith (especially the strong atheism of the RRS), but i don't think that faith is the issue at hand, i think it's the object of faith. 

all my life i've heard half-witted christians rail on atheists with the tried and true "atheism requires just as much faith as christianity" schitck, and it misses the point completely, i think.  obviously an atheist is more comfortable putting his faith in the idea that there is no god than the idea that there is a god, and vice versa for the christian.  sure, they are both matters of faith, but the point is how convinced you are of what it is you're putting your faith in.  

"faith" is becoming one of those vague throwaway words like "soul" that have come to mean absolutely nothing.   

Well said.

BB

 


mouse
Posts: 129
Joined: 2007-02-21
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh wrote:

darth_josh wrote:

hello wrote:
to say humans have some kind of value worth preserving is to take on an assumption with faith.

I disagree. I don't have faith in just base humanity, but evidence for its progression in our success so far as a species and civilization.

I do see an intrinsic value in every person's life simply because in some small way it affects my own. Would I understand my emotions if there weren't others to elicit them from me?

that our progression/success as a species or civilization is a good thing or that it makes you happy, is a belief we take on that cannot be judged with evidence. it's just an implicit assumption we carry on in our day to day lives when we decide life is worth living and things are worth doing. (this is what humanism means)

Ethics and aesthetics are one
-Wittgenstein


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2650
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
hello/mouse wrote: that our

hello/mouse wrote:
that our progression/success as a species or civilization is a good thing or that it makes you happy, is a belief we take on that cannot be judged with evidence. it's just an implicit assumption we carry on in our day to day lives when we decide life is worth living and things are worth doing. (this is what humanism means)

Breakthroughs in medicine = not a belief

Equality = progression

Those two items are pretty evidentiary supporting human improvement. 

Humanism has more pieces that make it dogmatic. I don't ascribe that label to myself. Atheism is nothing more than a 'lack of belief in any deity' ergo it requires no faith.

The assumption that anyone is a strong atheist needs to be clarified. One could be considered a strong teapot atheist but a weak atheist with regard to a god they know very little about. Atheism is just atheism. 

There is also no faith involved with not having faith. 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


jmm
Theist
jmm's picture
Posts: 837
Joined: 2007-03-03
User is offlineOffline
Ever since I watched the

Ever since I watched the show with Ergun Caner, I've gotten a very fanatical, church-type vibe from the RRS. 

For instance, before the show even started, Brian, Rook and Kelly were sitting around talking, ironing out technical issues, etc., and I noticed some very interesting things:

1)  RRS apparently has a record label of some sort, or at least a select few hip-hop artists that record custom-tailored songs to fit their agenda.  I know for a fact that i heard the phrase "Rational Responders" more than once during the course of the playlist.  I was instantly reminded of christian hip-hop artists such as T-Bone, Gritz, and KJ-52.  Very generic structure to the beats, very lame, cheesy, overly atheistic lyrics.  Sapient was presenting the songs as though they represented a new day rising in the world of music.  Ha.  

2)  The RRS members were wearing matching, custom-made hooded sweatshirts.  Very "youth group"-esque.

3)  The personality structure seemed to fit that of comparable radical christian ministries:  the relatively level-headed but nonetheless fanatically devoted spokesperson and leader (Sapient); the fiery, angry chick with a bottle of hair dye (Kelly); the young scholar hell-bent on unearthing 100% definitive proof of his agenda through textual study (Rook); the older, wiser sage making cameo appearances from afar (Flemming).  

The bottom line is this:  it's just as irrational to believe that God doesn't exist as it is to believe that God exists.  No empirical proof exists for or agaist God.  Sure, empirical proof exists for a host of mindblowingly complex scientific processes, but this neither confirms nor denies God in any way.  

Atheists are making knowledge claims about the same realm as theists:  God doesn't exist vs. God does exist.  We're both making irrational assertions.  The difference between theists and atheists, though, is that I'm fully aware that my conclusions are illogical and irrational, and I'm okay with that because I believe that there is more than one way to acquire knowledge, and more than one type of knowledge.  On the other hand, atheists (at least the ones on this site) arrive at similarly illogical and irrational conclusions, but operate under the assumption that they've been completely logical and completely rational throughout the whole process.  

All in all, I see just as much if not more blind, misguided, narrow-minded fanaticism from atheists as I've seen from fundamentalist christians.  The construct is the same, just insert a different ideology.

This has been kind of disappointing if I may say so.  I came here hoping to gain some enlightenment from the atheists, and all I got was more blind, vitriolic ideology - vomited forth in the same spirit as the fundamentalist churches I've encountered in my life. 

I hear talk of free thinkers, but I've yet to see one here.  Instead I see people just as tied to their atheistic ideologies as most christians are to their theistic ideologies.  

Please, change my mind, I really want you to.  But until then, I'll just conclude that atheism is just as much a religion as fundamental christianity - possibly moreso.   


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
Can't y'all get this through

Can't y'all get this through your thick heads that evidence against isn't required? Do you have evidence dragons don't exist? What about aliens living on the sun? Fairies? Bertrand Russel's teapot?

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


jmm
Theist
jmm's picture
Posts: 837
Joined: 2007-03-03
User is offlineOffline
MattShizzle wrote:

MattShizzle wrote:
Can't y'all get this through your thick heads that evidence against isn't required? Do you have evidence dragons don't exist? What about aliens living on the sun? Fairies? Bertrand Russel's teapot?

But why isn't evidence against God required? You say that as though it's just common knowledge, but I'm asking - why is this the case? What makes this necessary?

Dragons, aliens living on the sun, fairies, and Bertrand Russell's teapot all have something in common - they all have absolutely no relevance to anything whatsoever. The existence of God, however, potentially has a maximum amount of relevance on everything - he is the potential metaphysical underpinning of the whole thing.

And that's what you guys have consistently neglected - the metaphysical underpinning. I'm just as fascinated by science as any of you, but I understand at the end of the day that the deepest scientific analysis still doesn't reveal a metaphysical underpinning, or a basic, fundamental origin. And if you're content with that, that's fine, that's your business. Myself, on the other hand, I'm not satisfied. I want to go deeper. Empirical experience can only truly yield one type of knowledge - empirical. It may, however, help to implicitly point to other types of knowledge (mystical), but it cannot truly give the deepest answers, and most importantly, it does not truly yield the conclusions that many of you have seemingly arrived at - that God does not exist.

You guys, like myself, are giving a non-empirical answer to an empirical question. It's just as much of a leap for me to say that God exists as it is for you to say that God does not exist. The difference between us is that I acknowledge this and attempt to parse out different types of knowledge and knowledge acquisition, whereas you guys do not acknowledge the problem with your conclusions, and insist upon continually giving equally non-empirical answers to empirical questions. The thing is, your conclusions are only problematic when viewed through the lense of your own narrow ideology.

I really had hoped to establish an intelligent, level-headed, enlightening, exhilarating dialog, but you guys are just as far gone as any of the fundamentalist christians I know.

 


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
OK, I propose there is a

OK, I propose there is a genie living 2 miles under the ice in Antarctica. Anyone who directly comes in contact with it will have any wish he or she wishes granted. Clearly this would have a profound impact on everything if it were true. Can you prove this false?

I also propose I created the universe an hour ago. All your memories and anything that indicates this isn't true I planted to test your faith. This would have relevance on everything. Can you prove that not true?

Learn basic logic.

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


jmm
Theist
jmm's picture
Posts: 837
Joined: 2007-03-03
User is offlineOffline
MattShizzle wrote: OK, I

MattShizzle wrote:

OK, I propose there is a genie living 2 miles under the ice in Antarctica. Anyone who directly comes in contact with it will have any wish he or she wishes granted. Clearly this would have a profound impact on everything if it were true. Can you prove this false?

I also propose I created the universe an hour ago. All your memories and anything that indicates this isn't true I planted to test your faith. This would have relevance on everything. Can you prove that not true?

Learn basic logic.

My God, again with the Cartesian bullshit.  You guys are as chuffed with Descartes as some christians are with Blaise Pascal and C.S. Lewis.  

A genie living 2 miles beneath the ice in Antarctica has nothing to do with anything.  It's something that you just created in your mind a few minutes ago.  I'm not talking about a genie or a magic lamp or a dragon or a fairy.  I'm talking about the genuine metaphysical underpinning of existence.  Something that people have been searching for and writing about for literally thousands of years.  Huge difference.

And as far as you proposing that you created the universe an hour ago, that's one of the countless variations on Descartes' "Evil Genius".  I'm telling you, the farther you go into Descartes, the farther you disappear up your own ass.  It's exponential.  


MattShizzle
Posts: 7966
Joined: 2006-03-31
User is offlineOffline
I've actually never even

I've actually never even read Descartes, I just made them up. You can't just say an argument only works for God. A very basic rule of logic is you assume something doesn't exist unless there is evidence that it does. Just because it would be important if it existed doesn't change that.

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


darth_josh
High Level DonorHigh Level ModeratorGold Member
darth_josh's picture
Posts: 2650
Joined: 2006-02-27
User is offlineOffline
jmm wrote: MattShizzle

jmm wrote:

MattShizzle wrote:
Can't y'all get this through your thick heads that evidence against isn't required? Do you have evidence dragons don't exist? What about aliens living on the sun? Fairies? Bertrand Russel's teapot?

But why isn't evidence against God required? You say that as though it's just common knowledge, but I'm asking - why is this the case? What makes this necessary?

In order to present evidence 'against' something then there should be evidence 'for' it in the first place. I can't just 'take your word' for something allegedly as important as a deity. It actually is common knowledge. We want proof not to spend our existences gathering 'un-proofs'. We also don't want to be victimized by people that presuppose something exists and fail on a continual basis to provide said proof supporting their claims.

Quote:
Dragons, aliens living on the sun, fairies, and Bertrand Russell's teapot all have something in common - they all have absolutely no relevance to anything whatsoever. The existence of God, however, potentially has a maximum amount of relevance on everything - he is the potential metaphysical underpinning of the whole thing.

Yet again, you allege that god has more merit than all of these other things without a shred of evidence. You are ascribing characteristics to a god that you cannot even believe in on a rational basis.

Quote:
And that's what you guys have consistently neglected - the metaphysical underpinning.

In your opinion. In my subjectively metaphysical opinion, I have merely chosen not to believe in things without evidence. If there is a 'metaphysical underpinning' then its lack of a valid explanation provided by you or any other theist should be able to point out that it is only an hypothesis.

Quote:
I'm just as fascinated by science as any of you, but I understand at the end of the day that the deepest scientific analysis still doesn't reveal a metaphysical underpinning, or a basic, fundamental origin. And if you're content with that, that's fine, that's your business. Myself, on the other hand, I'm not satisfied. I want to go deeper. Empirical experience can only truly yield one type of knowledge - empirical. It may, however, help to implicitly point to other types of knowledge (mystical), but it cannot truly give the deepest answers, and most importantly, it does not truly yield the conclusions that many of you have seemingly arrived at - that God does not exist.

'implicitly' requires trust or faith by assumption. I'm afraid that you have a better chance of selling refrigerators to eskimos than you do of selling a 'metaphysical underpinning' to a bunch of skeptics.

Since you so openly acknowledged that empirical evidence cannot point to the existence of god(s) then what was your sermon about again? Proof or the lack thereof?

Quote:
You guys, like myself, are giving a non-empirical answer to an empirical question. It's just as much of a leap for me to say that God exists as it is for you to say that God does not exist. The difference between us is that I acknowledge this and attempt to parse out different types of knowledge and knowledge acquisition, whereas you guys do not acknowledge the problem with your conclusions, and insist upon continually giving equally non-empirical answers to empirical questions. The thing is, your conclusions are only problematic when viewed through the lense of your own narrow ideology.

Yeah Yeah Yeah. You're better than us because you believe that you see everything. Oh thank you mighty holier than thou seer of all that I do not. Bless me with more baseless accusations and flood me with assertions until I cannot stand it. Oh thank you for being theist #349712 to tell me that I am blind for not seeing what isn't there.

I'm afraid that I do not concur with your assertion that it requires more 'faith' to say either one of those things. However, it does require infinitely more faith to believe in a deity without evidence.

Quote:
I really had hoped to establish an intelligent, level-headed, enlightening, exhilarating dialog, but you guys are just as far gone as any of the fundamentalist christians I know.

[dripping sarcasm]Oh yeah. Because we just so twisted your arm to come here and make baseless accusations concerning our knowledge, dress habits, and quest for knowledge. You're so right.[end sarcasm]

Honestly, if you don't see that Matt has already engaged you in level-headed discussion then how are we supposed to 'implicitly' take your assumptions? For someone who claims to see more than we, you have poorly tried to see our side of the issue at hand.

 

Atheist Books, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server, which houses Celebrity Atheists.


Iruka Naminori
atheist
Iruka Naminori's picture
Posts: 1955
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline
Just because a ridiculous

Just because a ridiculous argument is popular--god exists, for example--doesn't make it true. What you are saying is a logical fallacy: Appeal to Popularity.

The Christian religion is just as ridiculous as Scientology. The only reason it isn't derided as thoroughly as Scientology is that it became an official religion due to a decision by Constantine. Christianity and Christians weren't terribly popular when the religion first appeared. In a couple hundred years Scientology may actually be respected. I hope not. I would like to see the beginning of the end of religion in my lifetime.

Do I need to explain to the theists in this thread why belief in god and non-belief in god are not on equal footing when it comes to probability?  It's a pretty simple explanation, but I'd rather not type more than I have to. Smiling 

Books on atheism, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


Iruka Naminori
atheist
Iruka Naminori's picture
Posts: 1955
Joined: 2006-11-21
User is offlineOffline
Vanguard wrote: I do agree

Vanguard wrote:

I do agree that we should be less antagonistic in our approach and to be more constructive. In order to spread our rationale and critique of faith we must be more tactical. Soceity is plagued by egotistical debate rather than constructive conversation. We really need to embrace the latter. In doing so we are far more likely to be successful. 

Yeah, you're correct.  I was actually pretty impressed with the cordiality of the discourse between Ergun Caner and the RRS.  What the RRS has to say may be controversial, but how they try to express it is actually congenial most of the time.  I've seen various squad members get angry at times, but hey, they're human.

I've found their patience instructive and will strive to be less antagonistic on the forum.  

Note that what I say may be offensive to believers, but I am going to try very hard to never bring it down to a personal level.  I can't guarantee I'll never sink to ad hom attacks, but I'm going to do my dead-level best. 

I think a lot of what people perceive as "antagonistic" is the RRS's position that religion is irrational and dangerous.  This is not a popular or politically correct position.  They may incorrectly infer that certain members are also being personally obnoxious. 

Books on atheism, purchases on Amazon support the Rational Response Squad server.


RationalSchema
RationalSchema's picture
Posts: 358
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
For the Original Post: I

For the Original Post:

I think you intention is good, but you have not fully evaluated this site and you make a lot of assumptions. Yes, we always need to be careful of cults and fanaticism. However, this is why science, reason and logic are not susceptable to moving towards cult-like behaviors. Here is why?

All three demand skepticism, questioning, and new ideas. In Science we constantly demand evidence, knowledge, and studies of rigor. Althought theories are supported and endorsed by multiple sources we speak in likelihoods and probabilities, not absolutes. The idea is to grow through reason. In religion, nothing grows, nothing is questioned, things are stale and stagnant.

This can relate to your difficulties with the term "Mind disorder".  Psychologically disordered individuals usually have difficulties changing their beliefs and rules about the world. They tend to hold these beliefs rigidly and attempt to fit themselves and the rest of the world into their preconceived ideas. Does this sound familiar?? Yes, religion does the same thing and despite the evidence religion continues. Also, similar is that individuals who have psychological struggles learn their beliefs about themselves and the world at young ages from parents, family, and their culture. Again, does this sound familiar?? At what age is religion taught?? What if reasoning skills were taught instead? What if we taught children to test out things they are told and to ask questions about the world?? Interestingly this is what you do in empirically supported psychotherapy. The therapist gets the client to test out their rigid beliefs and to constantly question their own thinking. By doing this the client feels better and behaves in a more effective manner. As long as the ideas on this site are questioned, there is no need to be scared. Of course, by nature there will be questions.

 

"Those who think they know don't know. Those that know they don't know, know."


mouse
Posts: 129
Joined: 2007-02-21
User is offlineOffline
darth_josh

darth_josh wrote:

 

Breakthroughs in medicine = not a belief

Equality = progression

Those two items are pretty evidentiary supporting human improvement.

breakthroughs in medicine are means to an end, that is the survival of a human or humanity. why preserve humanity?

progression defined by whom?

 that these statements support human improvement i am not doubting. rather it is that curious phrase you use..."human improvement"

why should humans improve?  

Ethics and aesthetics are one
-Wittgenstein


RationalSchema
RationalSchema's picture
Posts: 358
Joined: 2007-02-12
User is offlineOffline
Why would we want to stay

Why would we want to stay the same?


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
jmm wrote: MattShizzle

jmm wrote:

MattShizzle wrote:
Can't y'all get this through your thick heads that evidence against isn't required? Do you have evidence dragons don't exist? What about aliens living on the sun? Fairies? Bertrand Russel's teapot?

But why isn't evidence against God required? You say that as though it's just common knowledge, but I'm asking - why is this the case? What makes this necessary?

Pragmatism. If we required evidence against unsupported claims to reject them, we could never reject any unfalsifiable claims. There are an infinite number of possible unfalsifiable claims. Therefore, we would have to believe them all. This is simply not practical. Our brains are only so big, we are limited in our understanding, so we cannot afford to believe every claim ever made. We must decide which claims to reject and which to believe. Since unfalsifiable claims cannot lead to any useful knowledge, there is absolutely no reason to believe any of them. Thus, by rejecting unfalsifiable claims, we eliminate the problem of having to believe useless things that waste space in our brains. 

Quote:
Dragons, aliens living on the sun, fairies, and Bertrand Russell's teapot all have something in common - they all have absolutely no relevance to anything whatsoever. The existence of God, however, potentially has a maximum amount of relevance on everything - he is the potential metaphysical underpinning of the whole thing.

You are using God as a catch-all concept for 'everything we don't know', or The Unknown, aka the God of the Gaps. Where did the universe come from? Unknown. Therefore God did it! How did life begin? Unknown. Therefore God did it!

You cannot get to a known (God) from an unknown without evidence.

If you want relevance, you just have to be a bit more creative in the examples. The aliens in the sun are responsible for the life-giving light energy given off by the sun. Without them, there could be no life on Earth! Plants need light, and we need plants, so the aliens in the sun are VERY relevant to your life. Now, do you believe they exist? 

Quote:
And that's what you guys have consistently neglected - the metaphysical underpinning.

We don't neglect it, we just realize that we don't know the answer, so instead of making up an answer, or borrowing one from an unreliable book, we just say "I don't know". God, the catch-all Unknown, is not an answer, because you can't answer a mystery with another mystery.

Quote:
It may, however, help to implicitly point to other types of knowledge (mystical)

Give an example of 'mystical knowledge' and show how it is actually knowledge (can be demonstrated to be true). My guess is that you cannot, because mystical knowledge is not knowledge at all, but wishful thinking.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


Wonderist
atheist
Wonderist's picture
Posts: 2479
Joined: 2006-03-19
User is offlineOffline
jmm wrote: A genie living 2

jmm wrote:
A genie living 2 miles beneath the ice in Antarctica has nothing to do with anything. It's something that you just created in your mind a few minutes ago. I'm not talking about a genie or a magic lamp or a dragon or a fairy. I'm talking about the genuine metaphysical underpinning of existence. Something that people have been searching for and writing about for literally thousands of years. Huge difference.

Actually, it's not much different at all. He made the genie up a few hours ago, and the Jews made Jesus up 2000 years ago. Both claims are equally made up.

The point is that these are unknowns, and you can't just put in your Big Unknown to answer some question. You cannot demonstrate ANY knowledge of the 'metaphysical underpinning', so why should we pick your answer over any other? Maybe the aliens-in-the-sun also created the universe so that they could have somewhere nice and cozy (our sun) to hang out in. This answer is just as good as your answer that the creator is Yahweh.

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


jmm
Theist
jmm's picture
Posts: 837
Joined: 2007-03-03
User is offlineOffline
natural wrote: jmm

natural wrote:
jmm wrote:

MattShizzle wrote:
Can't y'all get this through your thick heads that evidence against isn't required? Do you have evidence dragons don't exist? What about aliens living on the sun? Fairies? Bertrand Russel's teapot?

But why isn't evidence against God required? You say that as though it's just common knowledge, but I'm asking - why is this the case? What makes this necessary?

Pragmatism. If we required evidence against unsupported claims to reject them, we could never reject any unfalsifiable claims. There are an infinite number of possible unfalsifiable claims. Therefore, we would have to believe them all. This is simply not practical. Our brains are only so big, we are limited in our understanding, so we cannot afford to believe every claim ever made. We must decide which claims to reject and which to believe. Since unfalsifiable claims cannot lead to any useful knowledge, there is absolutely no reason to believe any of them. Thus, by rejecting unfalsifiable claims, we eliminate the problem of having to believe useless things that waste space in our brains.

I'm not particularly sure how you arrived at the conclusion that requiring evidence against unsupported claims would also require us to equally believe every claim ever made. We're not talking about any and every claim, we're talking about the specific claim that God doesn't exist vs. God exists.

Besides, the conclusion "God does not exist" is just as unfalsifiable as the conclusion "God exists". They are both equally non-empirical answers to the same empirical question.

natural wrote:

jmm wrote:
Dragons, aliens living on the sun, fairies, and Bertrand Russell's teapot all have something in common - they all have absolutely no relevance to anything whatsoever. The existence of God, however, potentially has a maximum amount of relevance on everything - he is the potential metaphysical underpinning of the whole thing.

You are using God as a catch-all concept for 'everything we don't know', or The Unknown, aka the God of the Gaps. Where did the universe come from? Unknown. Therefore God did it! How did life begin? Unknown. Therefore God did it!

It's a tad more complex than that. I don't advocate using God as a crutch to fill in the unknowns. I'm open to all there is to know in the world, which is more than can be said for many of the "freethinkers" here.

But there are some very simple questions that I've yet to receive a coherent "atheistic" answer to, such as: What is the origin of matter? I went straight to the source, straight to your leader, if you will - Sapient - and all he could muster was "Matter has always existed." Doesn't sound very rational to me. I'm certainly not satisifed.

I'm not saying that we should just fill in the unknowns with "God did it!", but I think that it is very rational to consider other forms of knowledge acquisition beyond that of human rationality and logic when we run into brick walls such as these. But this is of course when things get paradoxical, even scary - when the next logical step is abandoning logic, if only partially or temporarily. Leaving very fundamental and vitally important empirical questions such as "What is the origin of matter?" largely unexplored is not only irresponsible, but highly irrational as well.

natural wrote:
You cannot get to a known (God) from an unknown without evidence.

Agreed. If we stick to the schema of relying purely on human rationality and logic to find evidence, then we have a problem. If, however, we are willing to expand the possibilities of knowledge acquisition (and distinguish different kinds of knowledge altogether), then we admittedly still have a problem, but indeed a much smaller one.

natural wrote:
If you want relevance, you just have to be a bit more creative in the examples. The aliens in the sun are responsible for the life-giving light energy given off by the sun. Without them, there could be no life on Earth! Plants need light, and we need plants, so the aliens in the sun are VERY relevant to your life. Now, do you believe they exist?

I don't want relevance, I just want to know what there is to know, and I don't think that this can be achieved through the narrow means that you suggest.

The aliens on the sun example is not only a piss-take, but it's wholly irrelevant to the conversation at hand. I'm not suggesting anything particular here; I'm not even suggesting Jesus or the Judeo-Christian God yet for that matter; I'm merely suggesting a metaphysical underpinning, a basic origin and driving mechanism - not a conclusion, but merely a starting point.

natural wrote:
jmm wrote:
And that's what you guys have consistently neglected - the metaphysical underpinning.

We don't neglect it, we just realize that we don't know the answer, so instead of making up an answer, or borrowing one from an unreliable book, we just say "I don't know". God, the catch-all Unknown, is not an answer, because you can't answer a mystery with another mystery.

I'm not asking you to make up an answer. I never suggested that, and I don't advocate that under any circumstance. And I'm certainly not asking you to so much as open the bible, let alone borrow any answers from it. I'm instead asking you to go deeper into the questioning process when faced with the difficult questions, to not be satisfied with "I don't know" as a conclusion, especially when you pride yourselves on being especially rational, logical, intelligent human beings. What this displays is a lack of curiosity and a fear of the unknown - 2 hallmarks of dogmatic groups, theistic and atheistic alike.

Above all I'm asking you to consider other methods of knowledge acquisition besides human rationality and logic.

natural wrote:
jmm wrote:
It may, however, help to implicitly point to other types of knowledge (mystical)

Give an example of 'mystical knowledge' and show how it is actually knowledge (can be demonstrated to be true). My guess is that you cannot, because mystical knowledge is not knowledge at all, but wishful thinking.

I cannot demonstrate mystical knowledge to you rationally, logically, or empirically (in their traditional senses). That would be illogical (traditionally).

To say that mystical knowledge is not actually knowledge is selling your mind short.

natural wrote:
jmm wrote:
A genie living 2 miles beneath the ice in Antarctica has nothing to do with anything. It's something that you just created in your mind a few minutes ago. I'm not talking about a genie or a magic lamp or a dragon or a fairy. I'm talking about the genuine metaphysical underpinning of existence. Something that people have been searching for and writing about for literally thousands of years. Huge difference.

Actually, it's not much different at all. He made the genie up a few hours ago, and the Jews made Jesus up 2000 years ago. Both claims are equally made up.

The point is that these are unknowns, and you can't just put in your Big Unknown to answer some question. You cannot demonstrate ANY knowledge of the 'metaphysical underpinning', so why should we pick your answer over any other? Maybe the aliens-in-the-sun also created the universe so that they could have somewhere nice and cozy (our sun) to hang out in. This answer is just as good as your answer that the creator is Yahweh.

I'm not even talking about Jesus. Jesus is a separate issue altogether from "God in general". But just for kicks, let's go with that example for a minute. There's a hell of a lot more historical evidence that backs the existence (and even resurrection) of Jesus Christ than there is that backs the existence of genies beneath Antarctica or aliens on the sun.

The interesting thing with examples such as genies beneath Antarctica, aliens on the sun, and yes, even Bertrand Russell's teapot is that they immediately bring a great deal of absurdity to the table, and the placement of this absurdity is certainly no accident - it serves the purpose of creating a diversion to avoid answering the very hard questions (i.e. What is the origin of matter?). Sleight-of-mind, if you will.

I'm not suggesting anything this particular, this defined, and certainly nothing this absurd. I'm merely suggesting that a non-empirical source lies behind our seemingly unanswerable questions, which is really what the genies, the aliens, and the teapots are themselves offering - beneath all the nonsense (if you should ever happen to find the bottom).

 

 

 

 


GreyhoundMama
GreyhoundMama's picture
Posts: 76
Joined: 2007-03-09
User is offlineOffline
The only faith I have ...

I think the only faith I have is the faith that none of us has all the answers. The world is too huge, too amazing, too bizarre, for any of us to have figured it all out yet. Maybe we never will. Look at all the new inventions, and theories proved wrong, and changing concepts in the sciences.

And that includes me. I may happen to believe that there isn't a god as I've heard it described by others. But I don't pretend to be absolutely certain, and have no intention of insisting that I'm right. I can believe that many belief systems are absurd, but I have no evidence of that, just as there is no real evidence that their god exists. I can't prove a negative, just as them pointing to a human-written book doesn't prove their beliefs. I have my own feelings about it, but as far as science is concerned, I think we all have to admit that science hasn't yet advanced enough to explain the entire universe and our existence. Wink

Karen and her hounds
creating art ~ creating a new life


Edger
Posts: 104
Joined: 2007-01-14
User is offlineOffline
"I think I'm Clever" (hope

"I think I'm Clever" (hope I got that right) wrote-

" Polite, intelligent and moderate debate is the best way of sorting through conflicting ideas and beliefs."

I couldn't agree more. It's too bad the countless victims of Christian intolerance throughout the blood soaked history of Christianity were never afforded this consideration.