In regards to atheism.

Discussion in 'Religion' started by garbonzo, Oct 15, 2015.

  1. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Which would you say dominates in your family, introversion or extroversion?
    Seeing as Western culture favors extroversion and Eastern favors introversion, I wonder how the theists/atheists shake out in each culture?
    I don't think it has anything to do with rate of progress. Just the recognition that, given enough time, progress is ultimately unlimited...even for humans. That seems to imply a pinnacle of being. Not a compelling implication...just an implication.
    Is pride an inherent emotion, or a response to the idea of social approval? Satisfaction may be a natural reaction to a goal accomplished, but pride seems to denote a sense of self-worth derived from the possible admiration of others. Pride is something to display and trumpet. So the admonition against pride may help to ground self-worth internally rather than externally.
    Yeah, happier people may just generally be more optimistic and accepting of possibilities, where the less happy may be more pessimistic that new possibilities may lead to good things. Although I'd expect a larger intersection of theists with belief in ghosts, aliens, etc. if that were all. What makes sense is largely subjective, with theists believing in god and many atheists believing in aliens....even though neither provide compelling evidence.
    Routledge explains that those who believe in aliens have a common thread: they’re non-religious or out-right atheists. Routledge goes on to ponder the strange significance of this finding:

    “If atheists reject a belief in God, why would they, or at least some of them, believe that there are intelligent alien beings monitoring the lives of humans (these are the types of paranormal ETI [extraterrestrial intelligence] beliefs we measured)? In this research we looked at the motive to perceive life as meaningful. We found support for a model in which low religiosity (and atheism) were associated with low perceptions of meaning and a high desire to find meaning (what is called search for meaning), and this desire for meaning in turn predicted ETI belief. In other words, people who were not getting meaning from religion were vulnerable to deficits in meaning and these deficits inclined them to search for non-traditional sources of meaning.”
    I would think theists would be more contemplative of consequences. Conscience may be more subjectively malleable among atheists. More justification after the fact than weighing the consequences beforehand?
    So physical connection alone? If your mind is all you can know exists, and solipsism were true, how could others (or even the physical connection) be anything but imagination?
    ...solipsism holds that knowledge of anything outside one's own mind is unsure; the external world and other minds cannot be known and might not exist outside the mind. As a metaphysical position, solipsism goes further to the conclusion that the world and other minds do not exist.
    On the other hand, if others are already part of the same being (your "mind", just currently inaccessible to you), even solipsism doesn't detract from their identity.
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  3. Ted Grant II Registered Senior Member

    Newton's fame has reached dizzy heights, albeit, tempered by 20th century discoveries. It is well to remember that he spent more time thinking about myths than science.
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  5. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Introversion, with some exceptions. But religiosity cuts through both. Little correlation in my own family, for sure. I'm introverted and atheist, my father similarly introvert but religious. And my brother extrovert and religious.
    From what I can find the pervading view in the west used to be that introverts tended more to religiosity, but that this is coming under some question, not that I can find much at all. There's an article on wiki about religiosity and personality, which I'll try to digest at some point. I think it's likely to be predominantly western-biased though.
    That seems a rather anthropecentric view, don't you think? Given lack of evidence of other similar intelligences, given our rather low sample of one life-sustaining planet, I see it more as a question of the nature of intelligence itself, rather than human intelligence per se. i.e. what limits intelligence in a given species, and what implication does that have for others.
    Also, is it not questionable that we, as a species, are actually progressing? Yes, we're more technologically advanced, but we are a tchnologically cumulative species, building on the achievements of our ancestors rather than continually reinventing and then exceeding. Are we happier as a species? Are we safer? To what are we actually progressing toward, in your view?
    Sure, when pride spills over and becomes excessive and/or outwardly focused. But I would classify even self-satisfaction as pride, seeing pride as satisfaction at one's own accomplishment, and a sense of ownership of them even, rather than satisfaction through situation.
    But if we're talking about the ego-driven sense of one's own value or achievement in conjunction with interaction with others, then I'd agree.
    I've never thought of looking at that correlation, and that quote certainly makes sense.
    So what is it that makes people want to perceive life as meaningful? And what is it that separates those that find meaning in God and/or religion and those that find it in the paranormal?
    On what basis do you think this? You may be right but I don't recognise it. I would have thought the weighing of consequences would be independent of belief, albeit that one's view of what the consequences might be would differ.
    A more malleable conscience? Possibly. However, would not an atheist who has had to construct his own moral code be more consistent with it than a theist who has been given one to live by and thus might struggle with it? Both would seemingly be just as open to justification after the fact, whereas one might be more willing to consider the justification as a permanent change?
    In my own experience I see a greater correlation of contemplation of consequence with introverts than with extroverts.
    Okay, but I'm not sure I could take solipsism as a metaphysical position, and would only ever be agnostic on the matter.

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    So if the question was assuming metaphysical solipsism, as in only the mind is real and the rest doesn't exist, is true then unless one can control the others' apparent existence freely I do not see that my relationship with them would change. They would be just as inaccessible as they are now, only knowable in the same way they are now. That they are part of my mind or not seems irrelevant to that, unless being part of my own mind gives me some control over them that I wouldn't otherwise have.
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  7. Syne Sine qua non Valued Senior Member

    Given no other example of a pinnacle of being, an anthropocentric view would seem to be the null hypothesis.
    I'm not sure why progress shouldn't be cumulative. We are indeed happier, healthier, and safer by any measure of the past.
    All progress is toward some ideal state...but unlimited progress would mean no such state is attainable. It's the journey that matters.
    I think all intelligence seeks understanding. Coupled with emotion, that becomes meaning. Seems a natural consequence.
    The generally paranormal makes no moral obligation on the individual, where a god/religion does. If both provide some sense of meaning, that would seem to be the single greatest difference. What do you think?
    An individual always has an easier time lying to themselves, especially where justifying their own actions is concerned.
    A theist differs in that it is not his own reasoning alone that constructs or polices his moral code. A theist has also cultivated an objective, god's eye view. The idea that someone external is observing and judging you at all times. It can be difficult to recognize our own bias when judging our own actions, but as social animals, the idea of an outside observer's judgement may be easier to maintain. I'm not sure if there's anything similar for an atheist....aside from those few suffering paranoid delusions of "being watched".
    In my experience, theists tend to follow varying degrees of ideal observer theory, divine command theory, and moral realism...the only overarching theme being universalism. Those hewing closer to straight divine command theory may very well struggle with it, but also seem to consider the challenge itself a vehicle for growth. Actually, I'd hazard to say that if you don't struggle with your moral code, to some extent, it may only be a code of convenience.
    I would agree that introverts are generally more contemplative of consequences.
    Solipsism itself is ultimately everything but one's own thoughts. IMO, beliefs that diverge from solipsism must make choices not wholly justifiable as knowledge (epistemological solipsism).
    Either way, the apparent lack of control is ultimately nothing but a self-imposed choice. Regaining the ability to control others would reveal them imaginary in one case and individual in the other.
    Nothing compelling there, but I thinking anything compelling subverts free will.
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I haven't read this thread for about 2 months now. It comes as no real surprise to see that it hasn't progressed since I last looked at it. Jan Ardena is still refusing to admit that he believes in God for what are, in the end, irrational reasons. He continues to refuse to admit the logical possibility that there is no God for atheists to be "without". And he continues to conflate objective and subjective notions, which I can only assume is a deliberate ploy given the abundance of discussion on the distinction in the thread.

    Allow me to quote myself from 800 posts or so before the current one:

    And this, from 200 or so posts before that:
    I could dredge up dozens of posts that all make the same points. Jan's argument, as weak and question-begging as it is, hasn't changed in the last two months, and is unlikely to do so, I think.

    Still, there might be a few tidbits worth examining here, just for fun.
  9. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    Theism, atheism, polytheism, etc.....
    Are personal choices.
    As such, there is no prerequisite for rationality in those choices.

    Perhaps, within irrationality may be found the key to wisdom?
    (world of the nagual, bubble of the tonal) etc........
    Perhaps the tao can be found by no longer following paths of our, and society's own creation.
    Or, perhaps each of those created paths is but one path of the true path, and by following all we arrive at the same place?
  10. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    One point possibly worth addressing is Jan Ardena's claim that atheists can't "comprehend" God. What might this mean?

    On the one hand, Jan might mean that atheists lack the intellectual capacity to understand what God is supposed to be, or how God is supposed to work, or whatever. If so, then Jan is merely directing a cheap insult at atheists, particularly as Jan himself admits that even children have the intellectual capacity to comprehend God in the requisite way.

    A more likely interpretation is that Jan means to say that atheists don't have the magical knowing about God that theists like him supposedly have. That is, atheists lack that special connection to the deity that believers feel "in the heart". And without that special feeling of knowing and being known by the divine, atheists miss the core of the experience of the believer.

    I suppose this is a bit like like telling somebody who has never been on a roller coaster that they can't comprehend what it's like. Or, perhaps a closer analogy might be trying to tell somebody about tripping on LSD, when they have never taken the drug themselves.

    It is worth pondering to what extent this kind of "lack of comprehension" might be accurate.

    It is also worth considering whether not having had a particular emotional or imaginative experience makes a person incapable of accepting the reality of the experience for those who have had it. I don't think it does. But perhaps more importantly, if I were to trip on LSD and see a herd of technicolor elephants, would that mean that a herd of technicolor elephants exists in reality, or only in my head?

    Jan wishes that atheists could be "aware" of God, like he thinks he is. It's a bit like somebody wanting to share his LSD experience, but feeling that telling others about it just won't be the same unless they actually take the drug themselves. And no doubt there's truth in that.

    One thing that Jan forgets, of course, is that many atheists are former theists. They have been on the trip. Yet Jan will insist that it wasn't the proper trip that they took, or they wouldn't have ever wanted to get off. Clearly they didn't do it right. Clearly they were not real Scotsmen. And so, their testimony doesn't count in the same way that his does.
  11. sculptor Valued Senior Member

    (I maintain that the above only seems like gobbledygook to the uneducated)
  12. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Really? That's what you gathered from following "most of this thread"? I think you should go back and read through it again, and properly this time. None of the atheists participating here have made any attempt to prove that there is no God.

    No argument from me there. You're essentially admitting that theistic belief is irrational.
  13. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    This thread hasn't been a defence of atheism. We haven't even got to the point of agreeing on a basic definition of atheism, because Jan insists that to be an atheist requires that God exists and that atheists deny God.

    Many prominent atheists have, of course, tried to justify atheism as soundly as they can, often at book length. There's a large literature out there.

    Also, once we've decided we don't believe in God, the next question is: what follows from that?

    What do we have to say about morality, for instance? Or how to live a good life? Or why we should bother getting up in the morning? How do we deal with death? And so on and so forth.

    It turns out that many atheists (but by no means all) share similar views on many of these kinds of issues, partly because we are all operating with similar foundational ideas about what is true and what matters.

    However, no atheist is required to adhere to any particular dogma, and in a sense all of these additional matters are peripheral to the definition of "atheist".
  14. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    I agree. Although, I would say that, in principle, I'm always open to being convinced to change my mind about things, if a persuasive enough argument can be made. I don't enter discussions like this one expecting to have a major shift in worldview, though, and I similarly expect it will be a rare occasion indeed when I am a catalyst for a change in somebody else's core beliefs.

    I don't really understand the reticence that some people have about opening up about what they really think about things. When it comes to religion, I guess some people feel that it is a very private matter, so they are only willing to go so far when discussing it on a forum like this. And probably on a forum like this people are also worried that their beliefs or reasons for belief might be held up to ridicule if they reveal them. And so, they try to make themselves small targets, even at the expense of being unable to put their best argument.
  15. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Here are some snippets from Jan's recent posts that I find moderately diverting:
    First, given the ostensible thread topic, I find it interesting that Jan demands that atheists accept his concept of atheism, and his concept of the atheist idea of God, and yet he will not bend on his own concept of God.

    Second, I wonder what the alternative is to God's objective existence. Surely it can only be that God exists purely subjectively, if he does not exist objectively. And in that case, God exists only in our individual minds. This suggests to me that God is indistinguishable from a daydream or a fantasy. God is a concept, but not a reality. But I don't for a moment think that this is what Jan actually believes.
    This is all well and good, but how can Jan know that God neither comes into, nor goes out of existence? This is just a claim about God's characteristics without evidentiary support of any kind. Or else it is a part of Jan's definition of God, in which case the question of whether the described being exists remains unexamined.

    Children (and adults) are agent-seekers. As human beings, we have a tendency to assume that conscious, personal, agents are the causes of unexplained (to us) phenomena. The research shows no more than that. it does not prove that there is a God.

    So everything that makes God God is non-physical? Does God only act in the non-physical world, then? This is not what the "scriptures" teach.
  16. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Sagan is talking about physical existence, not existence as a concept. Algebraic rings and other mathematical concepts (e.g. the "perfect" triangle) exist only as concepts in our heads. They have no physical reality. In fact, many of our concepts are archetypes: all ducks are different from one another, yet nevertheless we recognise "duck" as a useful label.

    God is claimed by theists to interact directly with the physical world. Any such interaction ought to leave physical evidence perceivable, at least in principle, by our senses.

    Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But we are concerned with whether it is reasonable to draw the conclusion that X exists, even in the absence of any physical evidence for X. In the present context, X might be something like "a God who from time to time miraculously heals some of those who are ill", to pick an example at random.

    Yes, that's exactly what Sagan was arguing for with that example. He was saying we shouldn't believe something unless there is some objective evidence for it. He was essentially arguing for scientific skepticism.

    You are correct when you say that if the dragon doesn't interact with our senses then it is unknowable as to whether it exists or not - that is pure agnosticism. Atheism is the next step: asking whether, given the lack of evidence, it is reasonable to believe that the dragon exists.
    Last edited: Jun 25, 2017

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