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Old 01-13-2011, 01:09 PM   #31
thomastwo
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No doubt, some atheists have similar views on different issues. However, the only thing that all atheists have in common is the lack of belief in god(s). But what is it that you feel all atheists agree on other than this? I'm dying to know.
I understand the definition of atheism and I'm not saying that I think *all* atheists agree on anything else. After all some Buddhists are atheists while still believing in the supernatural. It's a broad Church.

However, I do think there are a grouping of Western atheists, typical of those found in this forum. I think they typically share the following philosophical assumptions
1) beliefs are only justified to the extent that they are supported by empirical evidence
2) a belief that religion is not only unjustified but has negative social and personal consequences in general. Even a belief that a world without religion would be a better world.
3) a belief that those who are religious are in some sense less intelligent or less rational. The belief that religious belief is irrational.
4) rejection of the existence of the supernatural



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'Evidence' must be verifiable and demonstrable. This is a requirement for rational people, not atheists.
See above! Perhaps you can start by providing verifiable and demonstrable reasons why "evidence must be verifiable and demonstrable".
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:11 PM   #32
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I understand the definition of atheism and I'm not saying that I think *all* atheists agree on anything else. After all some Buddhists are atheists while still believing in the supernatural. It's a broad Church.

However, I do think there are a grouping of Western atheists, typical of those found in this forum. I think they typically share the following philosophical assumptions
1) beliefs are only justified to the extent that they are supported by empirical evidence
2) a belief that religion is not only unjustified but has negative social and personal consequences in general. Even a belief that a world without religion would be a better world.
3) a belief that those who are religious are in some sense less intelligent or less rational. The belief that religious belief is irrational.
4) rejection of the existence of the supernatural
What do you know, I don't agree with 2) or 3).

Do I have to turn in my Western Atheist card? Will I be ex-communicated?

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:14 PM   #33
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Faith implies doubt and/or inadequate knowledge but its effect on the faithful is to deny that doubt or lack of information. Doubt and questioning is seen as a weakness in one's faith that is so strong it is taken as a substitute for valid information.
I can see why it might look like that to you. But I think those people are actually considering other types of evidence (personal experiences etc) that you just don't happen to accept.

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We see people under the shield of faith deny that any information at all could change their belief in Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
I'm not one of those people, although it is true that social and cultural factors along with confirmation bias surely make any such change really difficult.

How about you? Is there any evidence that could lead you to believe that the supernatural existed? What would that evidence look like?
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:37 PM   #34
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[quote=nkb;626340]What do you know, I don't agree with 2) or 3).

On 2 - I think I've seen you argue in support of the increased scope of separation of church and state in the US?

On 3 -
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As crazy and irrational as religious beliefs usually are,


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Do I have to turn in my Western Atheist card? Will I be ex-communicated?
I'm pretty sure you're good. And regardless even 1 and 4 provide some basis for the claim of a worldview that is distinct from the narrow claim of atheism.
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:41 PM   #35
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It might, except that every item in that number contradicts all the rest. You speak of "the supernatural" but everyone who believes in a supernatural believes in a different supernatural from everyone else. That carries through to the ten thousand-plus greater and lesser gods, including Jehovah, YHWH and Allah, three distinct different and incompatible gods.

Three different "One True Gods" would have been sufficient to my argument but the ten thousand figure is far from trivial. It makes the question of which god statistically significant.

A sincere and good believer in god should expect to have chosen the wrong god and, for that misdirected belief, go to some other one true god's hell-equivalent just on the probability of making the wrong choice.

One in ten thousand is not good odds when there are no discernible characteristics on which to base an informed choice from among the various gods. In fact, we very probably do not even know the name or anything about the real one true god.

With all those gods, all you have to go by is propaganda. None of the gods shows any attributes that are beyond the imagination of (ancient and very stupid) man to have produced.

The huge number of equally valid gods is strong evidence that man makes god, not the reverse.
This may be an argument as to why it's difficult to choose one description of the supernatural from another. But it doesn't change fact that choosing no supernatural possibility over there being some supernatural possibility is a distinctly different notion. That's why I think the idea that I just believe in one more God than you do is flawed.
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:48 PM   #36
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The one philosophical assumption is that reality can be perceived as being regular and thus, in principle, discoverable and understandable. That implies that whatever we have collected as knowledge is the ultimate basis for whatever further knowledge can be obtained.
It's a pragmatic assumption that underpins the scientific method but not one that can ever be empirically verified.

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That the natural laws have not been verifiably broken even once in some 11.4 Billion years (light-radius of the observable universe) is strong evidence against the miracles that many people cite in support of religious/supernatural/superstitious notions.
Perhaps taking the 150 years of scientific experiment as evidence against 11.4 Billion years of existence is too small a sample to inspire confidence?

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The proposition that nothing should be accepted as real which has no supporting real evidence might be considered an assumption by some but others know that rational thought is not possible about the world if that regularity is not true.
What do you mean by real?
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Old 01-13-2011, 01:53 PM   #37
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To people who can't fathom not having a belief system. Other people's misconceptions aren't my fault.
Perhaps it is a misconception. Are you saying there is nothing to the notion of "New Atheism"? Is there no common thread to the book buying masses who are attracted to the arguments of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
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Most religious people can't understand having morals without religion, so they see atheists as either immoral or amoral. Is that a valid view in your opinion?
It depends what you mean by morals. If you ascribe to an objective morality then I would want to know the common basis that you think applies for that morality. If you ascribe to a relative morality based on your own personal preferences then I think that at root even you think that atheists (and everybody else) are essentially amoral.

In my objective view of morality then, yes, atheists can behave morally or immorally. As can everybody else.
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:06 PM   #38
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On 2 - I think I've seen you argue in support of the increased scope of separation of church and state in the US?
Yes, I have, and still do. What does that have to do with what you wrote?
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On 3 -
But I don't believe that religious people are less intelligent. Neither do I believe that they are generally less rational, unless the subject is their specific religion.
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I'm pretty sure you're good.
But not all Western Atheist Church members share the "rejection of the existence of the supernatural". It all depends on the individual's flavor of non-belief (weak, strong, militant, etc). Believe it or not, all of these exist in the Western world.
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And regardless even 1 and 4 provide some basis for the claim of a worldview that is distinct from the narrow claim of atheism.
Whoop-de-doo! So, you've identified a significant sub-group of non-believers among Western Atheists, and even under your definitions, they don't all apply to this sub-group.

What about all the Western Atheists that don't fall into your definition? Are they not True Western Atheists?

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
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Old 01-13-2011, 02:35 PM   #39
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Perhaps it is a misconception. Are you saying there is nothing to the notion of "New Atheism"? Is there no common thread to the book buying masses who are attracted to the arguments of Dawkins, Hitchens and Harris?
The common thread is a general argument against theism, with less fear of speaking out against the majority than in the past.

If you have read comments on the web, there are many atheists who disagree with their approach. Are these atheists excluded from the Western Atheists?
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It depends what you mean by morals.
Society's morals, the general stuff that most everyone (who is not a sociopath) in our society agrees on, like not killing people, or stealing from them, not raping little kids, etc.
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In my objective view of morality then, yes, atheists can behave morally or immorally. As can everybody else.
So, the view of many religious people that atheists can't be moral, since they have no divine instruction, is a misconception, and can be rejected, right?

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:08 PM   #40
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The common thread is a general argument against theism, with less fear of speaking out against the majority than in the past.

If you have read comments on the web, there are many atheists who disagree with their approach. Are these atheists excluded from the Western Atheists?
I think the existence of an atheist group that is defined in terms of it's opposition to a more militant atheism is itself an evidence of the existence of the other group. Otherwise what is the object of their opposition?

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Society's morals, the general stuff that most everyone (who is not a sociopath) in our society agrees on, like not killing people, or stealing from them, not raping little kids, etc.
There is definitely such a thing as a generally accepted societal moral. Although if you look more closely you will see that no one individual could tell you what exactly constitutes that morality. I don't necessarily think that the current US societal morality is moral in all aspects.

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So, the view of many religious people that atheists can't be moral, since they have no divine instruction, is a misconception, and can be rejected, right?
If there are any religious people who hold such a view for that reason then I think they are wrong. Christians believe that nobody can be completely moral. We are all a jumble of moral and immoral actions.
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:25 PM   #41
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I think the existence of an atheist group that is defined in terms of it's opposition to a more militant atheism is itself an evidence of the existence of the other group. Otherwise what is the object of their opposition?
Yet they are all part of this Western Atheist group you keep referring to, that has a common belief system. My point exactly.
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There is definitely such a thing as a generally accepted societal moral. Although if you look more closely you will see that no one individual could tell you what exactly constitutes that morality. I don't necessarily think that the current US societal morality is moral in all aspects.
We're going off on a tangent here. The only point to bringing up that atheists can be moral (based on general societal morals) is to refute the misconception that a lot of Christians have about atheists being immoral or amoral, due to the lack of divine guidance (and you agree).

This is no different of a misconception from the one you mentioned, that atheists share a belief system (even the Western Atheist sub-group). Just because Christians view it that way, doesn't mean it's true (and, in both of these cases, it isn't).
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If there are any religious people who hold such a view for that reason then I think they are wrong. Christians believe that nobody can be completely moral. We are all a jumble of moral and immoral actions.
Yeah, that's quite an evasive "answer". We aren't talking about being "completely moral", are we?

Christians, in general, view themselves as more moral than atheists. Would you agree with that generalization?

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one."
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:52 PM   #42
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2) a belief that religion is not only unjustified but has negative social and personal consequences in general. Even a belief that a world without religion would be a better world.
I disagree. Religion is not unjustified.
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Old 01-13-2011, 03:53 PM   #43
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See above! Perhaps you can start by providing verifiable and demonstrable reasons why "evidence must be verifiable and demonstrable".
My evidence is not evidence unless I can prove that it's actual evidence.
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:22 PM   #44
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My evidence is not evidence unless I can prove that it's actual evidence.
What? A is not A unless it is A? Is that meant to be demonstrable and verifiable evidence?
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Old 01-13-2011, 04:24 PM   #45
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I disagree. Religion is not unjustified.
You think religion is a justified belief?
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