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BS: New things about atheism

Mrrzy 28 Mar 07 - 09:49 PM
Midchuck 28 Mar 07 - 09:57 PM
Rapparee 28 Mar 07 - 10:04 PM
Mrrzy 28 Mar 07 - 10:04 PM
Mrrzy 28 Mar 07 - 10:07 PM
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Joe Offer 29 Mar 07 - 02:47 AM
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mack/misophist 29 Mar 07 - 11:21 AM
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Wolfgang 29 Mar 07 - 11:42 AM
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Subject: BS: Lefties to Gays to Atheists...
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 09:49 PM

Has anyone else heard atheists being described as "the new gays?" On the one hand, many of us *are* closeted, and I, who am not, have lost at least one job I'd have kept else; on the other hand, homosexuality is, in my experience, way more acceptable these days than atheism is; on the gripping hand, wouldn't it be interesting if it were the growth of atheism that finally puts the kibbosh on homophobia? I mean, nothing unites humans like a common enemy; perhaps the religious revivalism in the US will end up being what makes being gay acceptable (how ironic, when they {the churches} are spearheading the fight against it {being gay} now!) because, after all, as long as you're a Christian you'll be OK! Being as against homophobia as I am (reminds me of the old superstitions against left-handedness, now seen as a normal rare variant which is, after all, what homosexuality is) I'm all for *something* finally getting it as acceptable as being left-handed is today (mom went through 2 grades with her left hand tied behind her back so she'd stop trying to use it)...
But accepting the possibility of being without religion seems a much greater leap.
Any thoughts or am I rambling?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Midchuck
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 09:57 PM

An atheist is not "without religion."

Confirmed atheists and devout fundamentalist religious believers are pretty much the same, from an agnostic's viewpoint - they both Know the Truth.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Rapparee
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 10:04 PM

If they fire you for atheism, sue them for religious discrimination. They can no more legally discriminate against you for a lack of religious belief than they can discriminate against you because of them. Tell them you celebrate Ralph Ingersoll's birthday as one of the High Holy Days of atheism and can't work that day and see what happens.


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Subject: Lefties to Gays to Atheists...
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 10:04 PM

That is a separate quibble. Atheism means no god beliefs, and some of us grew up without religion. Most left whatever religion they were born into, but I got lucky there.

(OK, I'll quibble a little: Atheism contains no element of *faith* in its beliefs. In contrast, religion does. Atheism is thus the complement of religion - you can either believe in something supernatural, beyond the natural world (be religious) or believe only in the natural world (be atheistic). For instance, I believe in Australia, though I've never been there, and nobody would say that was faith. Thus those who claim atheism is a religion are misusing both terms. Shall we start a different thread for this?) (joe clone maybe change this thread title to "Lefties to Gays to Atheists..." which is what I've been putting as a better title for the discussion I meant to start...
But I really enjoy the one Peter sparked!)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 10:07 PM

I *love* Ralph Ingersoll! And they didn't SAY that was what it was, although it was what it was, if you follow, plus this is a Right to Work state which is newspeak for We Can Get Rid Of You Whenever For No Reason. I wanted to, though...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Rapparee
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 10:14 PM

"Right To Work" states, such as the four I've worked in and the one I currently work in, in NO WAY means that you can be fired for any reason at all. It means that you can't be forced to join a Union to work for an employer.

You're confusing it with "Employment At Will." Which means that if the employer does discriminate and you can prove it you can still sue the shit out of him.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 10:18 PM

I liked it better when it was Commies. At least they had a capitol.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 10:35 PM

We have both, I think, and I could easily be confusing them.

But has anybody heard atheism being compared to homosexuality in terms of the way it is considered?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Rapparee
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 11:08 PM

No.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 11:17 PM

I have heard the two evils being condemned in one breath by those who stand firmly against godless, commie pinko faggot atheist bastards. Associates in evil, as it were, but not with any rational discourse.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,282RA
Date: 28 Mar 07 - 11:45 PM

>>Tell them you celebrate Ralph Ingersoll's birthday as one of the High Holy Days of atheism and can't work that day and see what happens.<<

Do you mean Robert Green Ingersoll?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Donuel
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 12:04 AM

As an athiest I entitle myself to use "God" at my metaphorical pleasure. So don't tell me that I as an athiest can not belive in my interpretation of the word god. That being said...

My God smiles on diversity and frowns on conformity.
The Evangelical god hates diversity and insists upon conformity.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Donuel
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 12:32 AM

We chose a pastor for our wedding carefully. His mother, a famous athiest, was murdered for her beliefs.

The Fundamentalist Evangelical Jews* across the street are not shy about their intolerence. The father told me the only enemy is tolerence and that I would know this if my children were bludgeoned to death because I would no longer be tolerent.

The guy says that his family is being attacked by homosexuals so I said where are they? is your family OK? Hoo boy was he peeved.

*I swear that is what they call themselves.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 01:36 AM

It depends where you are living I guess, Mrrzy. Being an atheist in Canada would not present much problems.

By the way, I do think that atheists have faith in various things. Just not in things like "God" or reincarnation or life after death or angels. Like most people, they take their more bizarre leaps of faith so much for granted that they aren't even aware they have them. Only someone who believes differently from them will notice.

Some people have a lot of faith in eternal things, with others it's more in temporary things...like youth, good looks, money, popularity, possessions, you know...the worldly stuff.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 02:47 AM

I suppose if you're aggressive or combative in your atheism, if you're out to prove religious people wrong, you could find yourself unwelcome. Same could be with aggressive or strident homosexual-rights people, or with aggressive fundamentalist religious people.

I'm a religious person, a left-of-center Catholic. I think I'm a person of faith, but there's a certain foggy uncertainty to my faith that doesn't fit the stereotype of religion. I feel very comfortable with agnostics - but I have to say that I sometimes encounter atheists and fundamentalist Christians who seem to be out to prove that I'm an awful person because of my beliefs (or because of my fogginess). They seem to have no ability to question themselves or their beliefs (or lack of beliefs). Yeah, people like that make me uncomfortable. They want to pick a fight, and I don't like being drawn into fights. And I certainly don't want to fight about things that are sacred to me.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 03:42 AM

There were no beliefs until theism developed (in all the various forms, based on whatever was made up over tens of thousands of years by the various factions). The theists tried to spread their message. Those who rejected theist doctrine became known as "atheist" - having the Greek "a" added to "theist" to make a new word to mark the fact of being "not at all theist in any way, shape or form".

Unfortunately, the popular view among theists is that atheists are as Joe describes i.e. agressive in their non-belief, desperate to prove that the theists are wrong etc etc blah blah. The fact of the matter is that true atheists simply have no interest in theist issues. "Aggressive atheists" - I would guess a tiny minority - have some other agenda altogether, and may well be known as "anti-theist", rather than "a-theist".

I think the reason atheists (or antitheists) get a bit short with theists is because it seems that all the world's problems seem to be based on religious differences. My view is if I'm going to be made to suffer in some way, I don't want it to be because the imaginary friend of the society I live in is different from - therefore deemed invalid to - the imaginary friend of some other people in a different society.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 09:21 AM

The atheist is certain the proposition of God is false. The agnostic is smart enough to realize there is a lot he doesn't know.

It could be said the atheist is extrapolating from his experience and taking a leap of faith that it extrapolates consistentyl to the very ends of existence.

I think this is a sort of hubris; but it is understandable, given some of the silly notions about God, that the atheist should firmly reject some of the more cartoonish versions -- the white bearded "man-on-a-cloud who is terribly interested in what you do with your peepee" parody of Godhood which is sometimes taught by the ignorant to the young is a kind of blasphemy, IMHO.



A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Scoville
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 09:51 AM

I don't see why it's hubris any more than believing in God. You know there's a God? Based on what? Four thousand years of mythology?

It seems there are "degrees" of believers, from people who believe in an amorphous "higher power" to people who believe in a literal, humanoid God. Why can't there be degrees of atheism? I don't believe in God in any form but I don't want to be pushy about it. I don't want to debate believers for the sake of picking apart their beliefs. I just want to be left alone to disbelieve in peace and not be attacked as unAmerican or have my everyday life run into the ground by other peoples' religious agendas.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:00 AM

(Re: Amos's post). But I think that is exactly what most atheists DO reject. I don't think that the term atheism necessarily implies the rejection of ANY notion of spirituality, divine force, the supernatural. To my mind, it implies the rejection of the concept of "God". Beyond that, an atheist can anything from an extreme rationalist to someone who has foggy apprehensions of spiritual existence but who, again, rejects the notion of a "God". To my mind.

An agnostic, on the other hand, I've always understood to be someone who merely rejects organized religion, not necessarily someone who rejects the idea of the white-bearded Man on a cloud ...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:00 AM

Sco:

It's not hubris to not believe in God. It is the absolute assertion of not-God that strikes me a little bit whiff. I salute you as an American, and hope you prosper and flourish.   I think religious agendas should be firmly left out of the commons.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:17 AM

From a Dick Cavett column:

"I'm not an atheist exactly, but remain what you might call "suggestible." (Is there a category of almost-atheist? A person who does not have the courage of his nonconvictions? I guess Woody Allen has, as so often, had the ultimate comic word on the subject. "You cannot prove the nonexistence of God; you just have to take it on faith.")
"


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:58 AM

RELIGION

Religion is a way of walking, not a way of talking.

            Dean William R. Inge


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 11:19 AM

The buzz word I've heard for Atheists is "Brights." Maybe they've figured out we're smarter than everybody else.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: mack/misophist
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 11:21 AM

To answer Mrrzy's question, the phrase "atheists are the new homosexuals" appeared in an op-ed piece a while back; I can't remember exactly where. The point was that there seems to be a '10% of the population' point at which popular movements start picking up momentum. Gays were used as the main example. The occasion for the article was a survey that said 10% of the US population is decidedly secular. The hope, of course was that it becomes politically acceptable.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 11:25 AM

Ah, but Amos, to admit to agnosticism is to be called wishy-washy by all comers. Nevertheless, it seems the most correct stance for me, seeing no hard evidence one way or the other. I lean hard on the atheism side, though, and that includes all forms of spirituality ( a word as fuzzy as the word god).


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Wolfgang
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 11:42 AM

That must be a particular US problem. In Germany, atheists are a large proportion of the population and unless it is a job paid for by the church noone would have any disadvantages by admitting to lack of faith. I'm sure, a German would easier tell about being atheist than being homosexual. I'd like to hear from other Europeans about their countries.

Amos, an atheist is not necessarily certain that the proposition of a God or gods is wrong, (s)he just doesn't live with such a belief. The refusal to belief is not identical with a certainty that there is no god(s).


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Scoville
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 11:47 AM

It is the absolute assertion of not-God that strikes me a little bit whiff.

What I was asking is: Is this any more hubris than the absolute assertion of God?

Really, I don't see the difference, but it's a lot more acceptable these days to cram one's belief down other's throats than it is to mention one's unbelief even non-confrontationally.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 11:55 AM

Sco:

No, I agree absolutely that asserting knowledge of God and asserting knowledge of Not-God are both extreme, and probably light on evidentiary support. I recommend you have the courage of your convictions and let the chips fallw here they may. There is a whole slew of new books out supporting the non-theist principle of public conduct, such as "Letter to a Christian Nation" and these:

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins
The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason by Sam Harris
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon by Daniel C. Dennett
God: The Failed Hypothesis. How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist by Victor J Stenger
Atheist Universe: The Thinking Person's Answer to Christian Fundamentalism by David Mills


Enjoy.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Wesley S
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 12:10 PM

In my opinion – gays made a great leap forward when they decided to stop thinking that they were victims. The mind is a powerful tool after all. What I perceive is the problem that many atheists { esp here at the Mudcat } suffer from is that they think they are victims. They think – therefore they are. Or on the other hand they feel they are vastly superior to the rest of the population. And sometimes they hold BOTH points of view. "Woe is me – I'm being persecuted because I'm so wise".

Things will only get better once we decide that being an atheist or a believer holds an equal weight to a preference to blue cars over red cars. Paper or plastic. Booth or table. YMMV.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 12:53 PM

Interesting.
Yes, this is largely an American issue.
Atheists don't believe any gods are real.
Agnostics neither believe nor disbelieve - they just aren't sure.
But atheists do not have faith in there being no gods - they have usually concluded it, like Dawkins in The God Delusion.

Some of us are becoming fundamentalist atheists - insisting that the atheist point of view be given as much respect as any theistic point of view. That is what is getting harder and harder in the US - the Bush agenda includes making this into a Christian nation that puts up with other monotheists. That would be a great tragedy and a huge step backwards for humanity, IMHO.

Some of us are becoming evangelical atheists - who try to convince believers not to believe any more. Now, that can be FUN, if done right.

Europe and Canada are pretty much post-religious - now if we can drag the US into the post-modern world!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 01:06 PM

"asserting knowledge of God and asserting knowledge of Not-God are both extreme" -

It is no more extreme to assert that God does not exist than to assert (apologies to believers) that leprechauns and goblins do not exist. Really. And you don't hear people in mainstream America getting snarky when someone says there are no such things as leprechauns.

I'm not trying to mock anyone's faith here. I'm just trying to make the point that for non-believers, there is no particular reason to recognize a possibility that there is a God, anymore than to recognize the possibility that there are other types of supernatural beings, or space aliens. Some people feel certain that there are no such things, and there's no reason other than tact for them not to say so.

And yes, this seems to be an issue unique to the USA and several Islamic theocracies.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 01:09 PM

Well put, Guest-meself.
Atheists and monotheists have a lot in common. Both think all other gods are mere mythology - the atheist just goes one god further.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 03:02 PM

Atheists can only induce a limited amount of evidence to support the notion that there certainly is not any infinite spiritual force. Typically the scope of such evidence is limited to space-time and things of energy and matter, and further constrained by those matters and energies he has found data on first- or second-hand. However, he must take (a) the rest of all the physical universe and (b) any other universe or continuum and extend the concept of no-God on faith that these principles will scale appropriately.

This is very different than asserting little leprechauns on Earth do not exist because (a) their realm of attribution is purely Earthian and (b) they are postulated entities within corporeal existence and therefore MORE LIKELY to not exist by the known patterns of material existence and probability.

However the various forms of "godness" include, among others, having NO material form, and being "not of space or energy". It is therefore much more a matter of faith to assume that the evidential trends of local space and time will extend into those realms. (If indeed such realms exist, which cannot be estimated based on local knowledge of the physical nature of this continuum for obvious reasons).

The possibility of a third dimension cannot be excluded on the basis of two-dimensional experience (see "Flatland").

However, a good survey of two dimensional space-time can lead one to assessing with a good probability that while many dots exist, small green ones do not.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 04:24 PM

Interesting. However:

1) I don't think an atheist necessarily denies the existence of ANY kind of "infinite spiritual force", although obviously some do. To my mind, an atheist specifically denies the existence of a "Supreme Being", which is a different matter.

2)You've taken my example of leprechauns too literally. I might as easily have used a less earth-bound example such as, "invisible elephants that live in a third dimension". Certainly their non-existence cannot be proven, but it generally would not be considered extreme in any way to deny their existence. By the same token, an emphatic denial of the existence of God does not seem extreme to me. HOWEVER: if by "God", you mean any sort of spiritual force whatsoever, then I - well, I'm still not sure I would call the denial of it "extreme", but it does strike me as somewhat narrow-minded.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 04:45 PM

There seems to be an erroneous idea that atheists and fundamentalist religious people are the same. It's not true. Atheism will always mean the lack of interest or investment in religion. I don't think that atheists claim to know any absolute truths because they base their judgements on science which is always changing and as a result the atheist must change their "truths" with new information. A devout fundamentalist doesn't really change their "Truth" regardless of what new developments occur in science.

There are those who feel that organized religion has done more harm than good.
There is some evidence for this. Personally I think it comes down to the people. There are religious people who have done both and atheists as well. The institution of religion can be a problem for those who use it to defend destructive behavior as in wars or violence against others.

But there is no institution of atheism. Atheists can disagree on many levels but in my experience (Joe Stalin and Pol Pot aside) atheists tend to be moral people particularly if they are secular humanists who care about the human condition and want to alleviate injustice and suffering in this lifetime. This is not a religion, this is just common sense.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 04:49 PM

Atheists are the new outcasts" Article


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 04:55 PM

"I don't think that atheists claim to know any absolute truths because they base their judgements on science which is always changing and as a result the atheist must change their "truths" with new information."

I think you give atheists too much credit, Frank. I doubt they are any smarter on average than the general population from which they come.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 08:24 PM

"Atheism will always mean the lack of interest or investment in religion."

Not so. Richard Dawkins, notably, has built a flourishing second career as a best-selling author (The God Delusion) on the basis of an extremely strong interest in religion, as a proselytising atheist.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 08:57 PM

Ha! Right on. Dawkins is deeply interested in religion. He's obsessed with it. It is the windmill in his Don Quixote obsessive style of existence. If religion wasn't around, he'd have to find something else to prosyletize against instead.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 09:45 PM

Why wouldn't someone who heard all the same things as a believer, but came to the rational conclusion that god stories are just like other fairy, not be smarter on average than those who can't see past doctrine to data, Peace?
If religion weren't around there wouldn't be a need to proselytize [the third spelling I tried made it past Word's editor] against it! Then people like Dawkins could go on to the next greatest enemy of knowledge and self-determination.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 09:48 PM

I direct you to this site where intelligence seems listed as the second greatest force against religion historically.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 09:52 PM

Oh, so YOUR suggestion is that atheists are smarter than people who aren't atheists? I would like to see something other than anecdotal stuff on that. For instance is not proof.

You may be right. But there is no way to tell. I don't care about either religions or atheism to be quite frank. So it's a non-issue to me.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: bobad
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 09:56 PM

From Peace's link:

"Countries regarded as secular or whose populations have by choice abandoned religion have been compared with those who are considered religious. Studies have demonstrated that when one measures life expectancy, literacy, income and education, nations whose populations are religious do poorly as compared to the more nonreligious ones. In addition, studies of non-African countries reveal that nations with the highest rate of homicide are religious."


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:20 PM

There is a world of difference between the individual's sense of spiritual being and the faith he has in it, and religiosity as a cultural headlock.

Being forced to agree with arbitrary or authoritarian data makes people stupid and chills expolration, promotes mindless adhesion to the group and dimnishes individual thought as a value.

Havfing a personal sense of one's own spiritual existence, which is a very different thing, tends to make individuals more alert and confident and better at the game. But that has nothing to do with the kind of religiosity that Dawkins and Sam Harris are protesting against, which is more on the lines of rote surrender of cogntive self-determination .

Just MHO.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:30 PM

The fundies are only out of control in the Middle East - and in the USA.

Peace - I directed you to that particular site because it's fairly funny - it's an off-the-wall British antireligious site that really pulls no punches and goes out on all kinds of limbs. I thought it was funny, sorry!

Atheists have a spiritual life, they just don't include any imaginary friends. Spirit, after all, means Breath. Does anybody know the root of the word Soul?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:32 PM

Sorry, Mrrzy. I'm a little slow on the uptake.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:34 PM

Glad you came back to the thread, Peace!

Slight digression - apparently soul is "from O.E. sawol "spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence," from P.Gmc. *saiwalo (cf. O.S. seola, O.N. sala, O.Fris. sele, M.Du. siele, Du. ziel, O.H.G. seula, Ger. Seele, Goth. saiwala), of uncertain origin."   Ferry interestink!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheismsoul (1)
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:38 PM

soul (1)
O.E. sawol "spiritual and emotional part of a person, animate existence," from P.Gmc. *saiwalo (cf. O.S. seola, O.N. sala, O.Fris. sele, M.Du. siele, Du. ziel, O.H.G. seula, Ger. Seele, Goth. saiwala), of uncertain origin. Sometimes said to mean originally "coming from or belonging to the sea," because that was supposed to be the stopping place of the soul before birth or after death. Hence, from P.Gmc. *saiwaz (see sea). Meaning "spirit of a deceased person" is attested in O.E. from 971. As a synonym for "person, individual" (e.g. every living soul) it dates from c.1320.




Some complicated philosophical books insist there is a soul separate from the spirit and the body, but I think that just muddies the water.

"The spiritual component of the human being. According to Plato, the soul is a spiritual principle of thought that should govern human choice and action. According to Aristotle, each living thing is composed of "matter and form," the soul is the human "form," the organizing principle that shapes the chaos of matter into a human creature rather than some other kind. ..."

alpha.fdu.edu/~jbecker/nature/natureglossary.html


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: mack/misophist
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:38 PM

That last post contained a phrase that means nothing to me. What in the world is "the individual's sense of spiritual being"? I'm curious.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:40 PM

Mack:

Some people have a strong sense of being more than the body-mind complex, a sense of themselves as spiritual. Some have no sense of themselves as anything beyond the bag of skin. YMMV.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:47 PM

You folks are forgetting the group of people who REALLY get it between the eyes in terms of discrimination, vile expletives and down-right hostile reactions: Satanists. You want to get your co-workers in a tither, tell them you worship the Devil.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:48 PM

"For the folk of evil I am employed,
They let me go, right away, they were very paranoid."

Gospel of Bob.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:50 PM

PS

The first time I saw the term "Gospel of Bob" was in a post by Little Hawk. I like its utility so I use it whenever I quote, well, Bob. Thanks, LH.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Mar 07 - 10:53 PM

I'm trying to remember how I explained this to my kid. Something like, life is biochemical, consciousness is electrochemical, no that wasn't it. It was brain is body and mind is brain, but what you do with your mind is spirit.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 01:31 AM

You're welcome, Peace. ;-)

I think it's like this, Mrzzy: Compare a human being to a radio-controlled airplane. The human body is the physical airplane. The human brain is the radio transmitter. The thoughts that emanate from the brain and cause the human body to act are like the radio signals that go to the radio receiver in the plane and activate the servos and controls in the plane. The higher mind that operates through the mechanism of the brain to the mechanism of the body is like the person who controls the radio, works it, and flies the plane. The even higher mind which came up with the whole idea of creating radios and airplanes and radio-controlled planes in the first place is like the collective oversoul mind of the whole human race. Some people term that collective oversoul as "God". In this way they personalize the collective higher intelligence potential that is in all of us. Some don't personalize it that way. Buddists don't, for example. They don't see the need for a personalized God, but they are spiritual. Taoist are also spiritual, but without creating personalized deities. Hindus appear to worship deities, but if you go deeper into Hinduism, you find out that those deities are meant as symbols of various archetypes, not as literal beings. God, in the Hindu system of beliefs, is ultimately inexpressible, and cannot be reduced to an identifiable or definable super-entity of some kind. Everything that exists is seen to be simply an aspect of the limitless Divine...like a wave that ripples briefly on a limitless ocean.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 02:46 AM

Taking that analogy a little further, do committed aeromodellers think that non-aeromodellers are bad people, and totally wrong in all their thinking? Do they think that non-aeromodellers are a specific group of people connected by a single philosophy - the determination to prove that aeromodelling is wrong?

No, they accept that some people are interested in model aeroplanes but others are not. If only theists could have a similar view of non-theists.

Some posters here are still very confused about what atheist means. First you have to know what theist means.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 03:07 AM

Theist means someone else is boss. Non-theist means someone else isn't boss.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 09:19 AM

"do committed aeromodellers think that non-aeromodellers are bad people, and totally wrong in all their thinking?" - no; what the aeromodellers think is silly is the people thinking that the plane is flying them.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 09:30 AM

"Do committed aeromodellers think that non-aeromodellers are bad people, and totally wrong in all their thinking?"

No........but a few of them assume that they are way "cooler" than people who don't aeromodell. There are a few pompous assholes in every broad category of people... ;-)

An atheist is someone who doesn't believe in a "God" or "Gods". (theos = god)

A theist is someone who does believe in a "God" or "Gods".

However, it doesn't just stop there, because there are an infinite number of ways of defining "God", and some of those ways would make God enough like a Universal Principle or a Natural Order of Things that it would be hard for even the strictest atheist to reject them out of hand....IF he understood them in the first place...which he probably doesn't...because he's never really given it much thought.

Atheist, in other words, don't really object to ALL possible definitions of "God" (in my opinion), they just object to the simpler and more traditional and literal definitions of God which they have encountered generally and are familiar with.

They object, generally speaking, to "God" as God is superficially presented to them by the conventional churches and outwardly religious people in their own society. The "God" that's most noticeable, in other words.

It's kind of like Americans objecting to "socialism", although they barely even have any idea what it is. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 09:52 AM

An atheist is someone who believes there is no God. This is slightly different than someone who does not believe in God. An agnostic does not believe in God, or believe there is no God; he believes he doesn't know. A Buddhist does not believe in God but is not, necessarily, an atheist.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: John Hardly
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 10:02 AM

The mudcat agnostic is one who isn't sure if there is a god, but is very sure that you don't know either.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 10:16 AM

LOL, John. Gets teejious, dunnit?


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 11:21 AM

Clearly there are some differing and somewhat contradictory understandings of the terms "atheist" and "agnostic" here, which is leading the discussion to become pretty unwieldy ...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 12:32 PM

The self-described "Atheists" that I have known tended to have more of a problem with the Christian Religion, as they have experienced it, rather than with anything else.

The things that they had a problem with broadly, tended to be:

A) Hypocrisy--the apparent conflict between professed values and real life conduct

B) Self-Justification-the practice of using the Bible and the Name of the Higher Authority to exempt "believers" from accountability

C)Authoritarianism--Use of worldly power and wealth to impose social conformity

D) Compulsory Oaths--The requirement that people publicly avow a certain dogma, and submit to the judgment of the church on their adherence that dogma.

E) Exclusion, sanction, and Persecution of those that don't adhere to the dogma.


Whether God exists or not is a moot point--talk about it as much as you want, it won't change anything-but these other things are real and legitimate issues.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 12:47 PM

Incidentally, there are a whole parcel of atheistic philosophies in the Hindu tradition -- Check this Wikipedia entry:Atheism in Hinduism, but use it as the beginning, rather than the end of your inquiries.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 12:55 PM

Those are legitimate things to object to, M. Ted. Mind you, hypocrisy, self-justification, authoritarianism, compulsory oaths, and exclusion, sanction, and persecution of those that don't adhere to the dogma are all problems that can and DO arise in a great many other hierarchical systems...NOT just in the religious ones.

Therefore, is the aggressive atheist's (like Mr Dawkins) attack on religion really as altruistic as he thinks it is? Or does he have a special ax to grind. I would suggest the latter.

You can just as well attack a great many political systems, educational systems, military systems, and other hierarchical orders on the basis of their hypocrisy, self-justification, authoritarianism, compulsory oaths, and exclusion, sanction, and persecution of those that don't adhere to the dogma.

The more aggressive atheist's real objection to religion, like the Republican's objection to the Democrats (or vice versa) or the Baptist's objection to the Muslim or vice versa is primarily this: it's a different set of assumptions than the set he has chosen to espouse. That offends him. It must be wrong! He didn't think of it, so it must also be stupid! Better yet, it must be evil, pernicious, and wholly to be opposed and argued down at every opportunity, because it is a threat to the entire world!!!

Awww...go take a hike, I say.

A good spiritual principle to follow in life is this: Be happy in your own beliefs, and leave others to be happy in theirs.

Aggressive atheist prosyletizers and aggressive religious prosyletizers would both do well to heed it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 01:05 PM

Well, there are basic defining elements to the word. The prefix "a" means 'without any" or "not". But hell, de gustibus non disputandum.

Ted, hear hear. The place where the plow comes to earth is the most important point of all.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 01:40 PM

Children are born without beliefs - they have "beliefs" thrust upon them by theists, i the name of education. It can be quite difficult to withdraw from the brainwashing.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 02:03 PM

Let's jusst use atheist as I meant it in my original question - someone who does not believe in any god (includes all supernatural "forces" or "superior beings") or gods.
Children are born with very strong beliefs, including the belief in what the adults around them are saying... the tabula rasa has fallen by the wayside. You get your adults' religion(s) the same way you get their language - absorbed like a sponge.
And it's the withdrawal from the brainwashing that makes those who transcend it appear smarter.
Leaving others to be happy in their beliefs is a lousy spiritual principle for the society - would you mean don't speak out against racism, sexism, and other well-held beliefs? I think not.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Midchuck
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 02:13 PM

Leaving others to be happy in their beliefs is a lousy spiritual principle for the society - would you mean don't speak out against racism, sexism, and other well-held beliefs? I think not.

You're confusing beliefs with actions based on those beliefs.

I strongly support the right of a person to believe any damn thing he/she chooses, no matter how evil or stupid I personally consider it. I also support the right of society to limit actions harmful to others or to society as a whole - even if those actions are based on a belief that they are mandated by God's Law.

How are you going to regulate beliefs, anyway, unless you can read minds and are a superb hypnotist? At best, you can force people to lie about what they believe.

Peter.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 03:29 PM

Mrzzy--Reading your last post, I thought of nothing other than this, from the Immortal
Bob"--In a soldier's stance, I aimed my lance at the mongrel dogs who teach, fearing not I'd become my enemy in the instant that I preach"--

You've become the enemy--


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 04:36 PM

Whose enemy?
But good words!
Of course they can believe anything they want - what I'm talking about is behavior, including speech. The behavior I'd like see the thinking world think is, well, silly if not intolerable, is the behavior of acting as if any god were actually real, that any supernatural force exist in the natural world, that natural powers can be effectively petitioned, that you survive your death, and so on.
Note that racism and sexism are bad examples of this kind of wish-it-were-intolerable behavior. A better example would be a grownup who insists on the actual reality of leprechauns, or goblins, or any such silliness. It's just silly for a grown person to still believe in fairy tales.
And the parallels with racism and sexism and other intolerables appear when faith is applied - that is, when the differences in fairy tales translate into kill the people who believe in different fairy tales, or don't hire the person if they don't at least believe in some fairy tale, or into the Kansas and Dover PA debacles of whether science can actually be taught in a science class! The damage is intolerable! It should be, at least, OK, I'm climbing back down off my high soapbox.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 04:41 PM

Who was it said Lord, protect me from Your followers?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 04:47 PM

To be more direct--You've decided that it is bad for society that certain people believe what you claim they believe, and that you are entitled, and even obliged, to act against them for the good of society.

That's the justification for religious persecution--people who think like that, far from being "bright", are narrow minded and intolerant.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST, Eb
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 04:52 PM

M'sieu Ted's post back a ways made me think of taking an oath in court to speak the truth.

Due to their interpretation of biblical injunction, the Amish and some other 'plain' people refuse to swear to anything. They instead 'affirm' that they will speak only truth.

Question: Do atheists (and agnostics) also refuse to take an oath?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: bobad
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 05:03 PM

Being tolerant of everyone's beliefs is an ideal, the problems arise when politicians make legislation in accordance with their beliefs.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 05:28 PM

Yes, we affirm instead of swearing. And the Constitution says No religious test for office - but try to get elected after people find out you'd be affirming instead. Y'all hear about that US Senator of 35 years who's come out as an atheist? Goes to church every Sunday, though!
And I reiterate - they can *think* whatever they want. What they shouldn't be allowed to do is make anyone else act as if it were true, just because they believe it.

No followers of different religions, even those who follow the same god but a different prophet, believe the other religion is true. (Note that the prophet, the human interpreter, is always necessary since the god isn't *really* there.) My hypothetical followers put up with each other, usually, until someone starts telling the other's children that their own interpretation is more true than the children's parents' own interpretation.

And it's having my kids in public US schools that's got my dander up. Or is that knickers in a twist? Anyway, I've lived in or had family live in Eastern (pre- and post-communist) and Western Europe, West, Central and South Africa, and Eastern Asia, and nobody's public school system taught religious doctrine (what I call mythology) as if it were reality the way they are trying, and sometimes succeeding (GO, Dover!)in doing here. My old ex-French colony in West African school (that the Ivorian rebels burned down a couple of years ago, remember?) took off for the Catholic and Moslem holidays, since adults weren't expected to be working, but we bloody well learned science in science class- and religion in philosophy class. The harm! It's the harm!

So again - this is a US rant, and I guess a Middle East rant too... Although I don't know if everybody would prefer their children learn reality (I do *not* call it "the truth") rather than mythology in public schools purporting to be teaching reality, but I think that as an American, with all that founded-to-keep-the-church-out-of-the-government and all, that *my* kids have lucked into actually legally having that right. Of course I think it's everybody's human right, but if individuals choose not to avail themselves of that privilege, that is their right too.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 05:34 PM

Missed Bobad's comment - it isn't just legislation. Just came back from attending the city school chorus recital - 6 out of 10 songs were invocations to a single god or "greater" "superior" whatever "force" or whatever [no paganism, polytheism etc), of which 4 were of Christian origin (no Moslem or Jewish], of which 2 were actually Praise Jesus songs. And that is against the law. And I've been complaining about it since they were in kindergarten - they're in 6th grade now. *sigh*
My one hope is that we now have an elected school board. And I live in one of the most aggressively liberal cities in a mostly conservative buckle-on-the-Bible-belt states... we actually had *3* Iraq War 4th Anniversary commemorations...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST, Ebbie
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 06:01 PM

Mrrzy, this is not meant as an 'attack' on you but your speaking of a commemoration makes me smile in remembering your posts from several years ago when, as I recall, you lamented that there is no Christmas that is non-religious.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 06:26 PM

I remember that! We've taken to celebrating the solstice - we just do it AT Christmas because that is when people have off.

But my extended family no longer supports my efforts away from the term "christmas" for our midwinter celebration, in that my greatest supporter, the rabid fundamentalist Jewish nephew, is now living in Israel and they don't have to accommodate his not wanting to bathe in Christianity either. Again - belief in a different mythology is OK but belief in none isn't? And the funny thing is, we all grew up without religion and all my sisters and all of the rest of my niblings are atheists, so it's funny, to me, their insisting on calling what we celebrate, which is 100% secular, Christmas. So even within atheism there is antiatheist (there has to be a better term - prodeist?) bias! Funny!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 06:31 PM

"but try to get elected after people find out you'd be affirming instead."

I'd have thought that quoting from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) would shut the critics up pretty sharpish:

...it was said in old times, "Do not take false oaths, but give effect to your oaths to the Lord". But I say to you, take no oaths at all - not by the heaven, because it is the seat of God, or by the earth, because it is the resting-place for his foot, or by Jerusalem, because it is the town of the great King. You may not take an oath by your head, because you are not able to make one hair white or black. But let your words be simply, Yes or No: and whatever is more than these is of the Evil One.

If it's ghood enough for Jesus, it ought to be good enough for those self-styled Christians...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 06:36 PM

" ... my greatest supporter, the rabid fundamentalist ... " -

Does that give you pause for thought?

" ... all my sisters and all of the rest of my niblings are atheists, so it's funny, to me, their insisting on calling what we celebrate, which is 100% secular, Christmas ... " -

And so - does that give you pause for thought?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 07:01 PM

"nibling" - that's a pleasant term. I've never really liked "siblings" for some odd reason.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 07:05 PM

Are you saying you don't believe in Goblins, Mrzzzy?????


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 07:06 PM

Yes! But I've got hiiiiiiiiiiigh hopes (hey, this is a music forum)...
Or maybe the thought I'm having (having a rabid adherent of one religion help take that particular religion out of the celebration of human accomplishment we prefer is strange bedfellows, but I was *his* strongest supporter in trying to avoid Christianity too. The only difference was, I would have tried to avoid the Judaism too, had it been cocooning me. He was avoiding the one religion that there was in the way. I was avoiding all religions, but only that one was in the way, so you couldn't tell the difference) isn't the thought you were thinking I might pause for?
Glad you like "nibling" - sibling's child. Totally gender-neutral.

Anyway, I wanted to apologize for the thread creep. The issue isn't how to live a secular life; it's whether atheists


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 07:15 PM

Sorry, Little Hawk! Cross-posted again - the Yes was to Guest-meself, who'd been making some great points all along.

My shrink once told me that while I didn't believe in god, I apparently did believe in the devil! I tell my kids that the embodiments of the powers I find in human life are Mother Nature, Lady Luck - and Coyote. He's the Trickster from Navajo mythology, Finagle's Law (the perversity of the universe tends to a maximum) - the way the gremlins hide your car keys just when you need them most, etc. All of these powers are deaf to human voices (you can't entreat them - well, you can entreat, but you can't expect it to listen).
Wonder with whom *this* post will cross?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 07:58 PM

It is interesting that we have people our universe with agents of great good and agents of great harm, and then set about courting the one and resisting the other. From one point of view the Gremlins, kobolds, djinns and devilets are just confused, disoriented, woebegone beings in the universe, just as much as, say, homeless people or Republicans are. In a similar vein they act out their own horrors, hatreds, despairs and angers without much regard for intelligent applicability and context. But they can be forgiven.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 08:51 PM

ANd from anothe rpoint of view they are (many of them, anyway) just a crowd of mocked-up imaginary playmates running slightly amok. This calls for a stilling of the divisions within one's own soul, more than a conquering of some exterior evil.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 09:29 PM

Forgiven, perhaps - but they're still silly, and I don't want my kids to have to take them seriously *in the way we're being made to* here.
I used to be closeted. I came out after 9/11.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 09:39 PM

I'm very familiar with the Trickster Coyote, Mrzzy, and I think he's a neat teacher. ;-) I also like Lady Luck and Mother Nature just fine as grand archetypes. My approach to religions is to be pretty much agreeable and open to all of them, assuming that they all offer an interesting and possibly useful way of looking at creation. I consider them all symbolic, just like Lady Luck, Mother Nature, and Trickster Coyote. They are aspects of the life we experience.

Satan is a symbol too, as is hell, and heaven. They're all symbols.

Try reading some books on Taoism. It's wonderfully sensible and practical in a very non-authoritarian way. There are no rules, just some common sense guidelines.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Donuel
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 09:44 PM

The clever comparison of fundamentalists and athiests sharing absolute certainhood was cute.

I have the perspective that subdividing athiests into agnostic, spiritual, naturist camps - ad infinitutm - is needless.

Due to the profound predjudice and violence by theists, it seems to me that athiests were able to find shelter as an agnostic. As long as they were seen as sitting on the fence they weren't entirely athiest.

IN other words, agnostics are just chicken shit athiests.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 10:09 PM

Oh, piffle. Having never once been forced to go to church or to believe in any God of any sort when I was a kid, I guess that's why as an adult I don't feel I have to fight a continual war with organized religion.

It's a good thing too, because I have to spend a lot of energy already on the things I DO have a chip on my shoulder about, which are mostly political things.    ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 30 Mar 07 - 10:40 PM

Well, just as the words Republican and Liberal have been melodramatcally redefined to support the PR goals of one or another side, so you can wrench these words around to be something they never were originally.

AGNOSTIC: A word first used by Professor Huxley, to indicate one who believes nothing which cannot be demonstrated by the senses.
www.theosociety.org/pasadena/key/key-glos.htm

An Agnostic [1] [noun] [OW] embraces a worldview in which the existence of deity is unknown or unknowable. Derives from the Greek agnostos, a = without, gnostos = known or knowledge. "Agnostic[ism] [CE] was coined by Professor TH Huxley in 1869 to describe the mental attitude of one who regarded as futile all attempts to know the reality corresponding to our ultimate scientific, philosophic, and religious ideas."
members.aol.com/porchnus/dict01.htm

one who believes that the evidence for and against the existence of God is inconclusive. (agnosticism)
www.summit.org/resource/dictionary/

Agnostic: one who questions religious or spiritual beliefs, and who may choose not to claim any system of knowledge.
iamuniversity.org/glossary/cv_glossarylist.php

One who holds the theory that God is unknown or unknowable
www.innvista.com/culture/religion/diction.htm


ATHEIST:someone who denies the existence of god
wordnet.princeton.edu/perl/webwn

Atheism is the state either of being without theistic beliefs, or of actively disbelieving in the existence of deities. In antiquity, Epicureanism incorporated aspects of atheism, but it disappeared from the philosophy of the Greek and Roman traditions as Christianity gained influence. ...
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheist

one who believes that there is no God. (atheism)
www.summit.org/resource/dictionary/

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 07:45 AM

"IN other words, agnostics are just chicken shit athiests. " - Donuel

Cute, and perhaps somewhat true where atheism is frowned upon as severely as it appears to be in the US and certain Islamic states (although I suppose agnosticism doesn't go over too well there, either), but in countries like Canada, I think it really is a valid personal POV, held sincerely by people like myself who do not think we are omniscient. By some measures, I am an atheist; there are many gods in whom I don't believe, including the warrior god of Abraham, but I'm not able to state with absolute certainty that no deity exists: I don't know.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 11:06 AM

I would submit that many theists who wave their arms wirh assertions about their anthropomorphic version of the deity are plain evidence that for them, the nature of God is unknowable since they can only offer bizarre authoritartian cartoons as a substitute. One point of view holds that awareness of the "God" presence cannot even begin until one has cleared up his own confusions as a spiritual entity. This is an interesting if somewhat demanding view, I think.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 11:43 AM

Peace,
One area where I don't agree with Dawkins or Sam Harris is in the usage of the term "Bright". I think there are religious people with a great degree of intelligence.

However, the atheists I know tend to think in terms of the value of science and are more interested in that then the cop-out moderate religionists that I've encountered who are so easy in dismissing questions of existence, soul, god, or what-have-you in nebulous theological fog instead of allowing their views to be subjected to the rigors of science.

I have read Dawkins and have not noticed his wanting to attack people on a personal level.
His view of religion is consistent in that he believes that there are good people who "believe" but that the institution itself has been corrupted by a denial of anything that doesn't conform or accept its premises. He allows for the beauty of art that has been inspired by religious people without accepting their religious views. I don't get the feeling of intolerance here but a sensible re-ordering of the priorities that people have in determining what is moral or right and wrong.

I believe his point is that if you preach tolerance you have to be prepared to evaluate religious beliefs or any other for that matter as to whether they purport to claim value for the good of society. Clearly, religious practices over the years have included egregious intolerance that harm society. I really think that this is the focus of Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, not a proselytizing for any intellectual or philosophical "belief" as they have been accused of by defensive religionists. They are trapped by their own inability to see anything that isn't prescribed by a religious conviction.

Tolerance doesn't mean a tacit acceptance of beliefs that deny logic or reality. That's not tolerance but acquiesence. I think Dawkins is extremely tolerant in his book and is not attacking in the way that is maintained by rabid talk show hosts or defensive religionists.
There is nothing "fundamentalist" in his approach and he would be the first to acknowlege a change of opinion if there were any real scientific basis whatever to a religious conviction.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 11:44 AM

Good point, Amos--and I have always suspected (and have evidence to support) that the ranks of Christian clergy are filled with atheists--

from a philosophical point of view, the idea of God as Genie of some sort who grants wishes and must be occasionally appeased with worship and adulation has been gone from Christian thought for nearly a thousand years, as the clergy know--a lot of the believers don't, and no one goes to any pains to straighten them out--in fact, many, who know better, play to the misconceptions--


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 12:18 PM

Don't you think your generalizing a little broadly, M.Ted? There is Christian thought and then there is Christian thought ...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Leadfingers
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 12:33 PM

I dont believe any of you !


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Leadfingers
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 12:34 PM

100 !!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 01:01 PM

Wisely writ, Frank and M. Ted.

Of course, there are as many variants of Christianity, or of Buddhism, or of Zorastrianism, as there are adherents to these brands. Each of has some kind of perspective on the infinite and whatever spiritual power lies in it, whether we paper it with creeds and slogans, or whether we paint it black, or leave it bare to quietly inform our inner lives with whatever whispers reach us through our mental clutter.

As with any subject, each of us has his own kind and degree of confusion and insight, neatly blended through our language machines to try and sound coherent.

But in truth, I don't think there is a single clear description in any language of what goes on in that sphere. Not that it is literally unknowable, but it surely is indescribable, if not unspeakable.

But that could be just me. ;>)


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 01:59 PM

Actually, my experience with Moslems (where I grew up was about 1/3 moslem 1/3 christian 1/3 animists) is that atheism is preferred to following the wrong god(s). In the US, in contrast, you're OK as long as you believe in SOME god(s) or other, but atheism is unconscionable.
Nobody cares about agnostics...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 02:03 PM

"the wrong God"   Oh, horrors! LOL!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 05:04 PM

MeSelf--St. Thomas is pretty much the foundation of all Christianity philosophy that followed--
A quick reading of the estimable St. Tommy(as if such a thing was possible) shows that understanding God, Christ, and all was important for moral, ethical, and spiritual development--Christ was here to help Mankind--not that we had to to appease God--


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 05:42 PM

Of course, you have to ask what sort of personal spiritual bent would postulate a God in need of appeasement. I sppose one deep in personal guilt.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 05:47 PM

M.Ted: I take your point. My point is that there seem to be a whole lot of Bible-thumping preachers out there who don't buy into St. Tom - if they ever heard of him.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 05:49 PM

Got that right, Amos. The thing that most repells me about the more troublesome aspects of Christianity is the enormous guilt trip that is laid on people. This God who is in need of appeasement is at the heart of the Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faiths. It's not a healthy idea at all, in my opinion.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 05:57 PM

LH,

Many of the Christian religions in their attempts to expiate "sins" buy into the "descent or fall of man". This idea seems to be built-in to Christianity. So the myth of Satan is created to keep the faithful in line.

Many moderate Christians still buy into the notion of a Manichean god who punishes those who transgress through "sin" although they reinterpret it to mean those who may be socially irresponsible. Many moderate Christians cling to an incoherent and restrictive document called the bible. They cherry-pick what they want from it.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 06:06 PM

Has any one of you ever considered that the 'myths' of Zeus and Athena and all of those may be factual? Huh? Huh? And you know how rational they are.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 08:38 PM

I for one never have, Ebbie; at least not literally so. There may be some sort of actuality far behind these stories, for which they serve as diluted versions or metaphors or something. But who knows.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 08:58 PM

I do. I spoke with Zeus in the 1960s. I can't really remember what he said, but it was along the lines of 'Prunes to the others as they send wooden prunes to you.' He was a very strange guy.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 09:45 PM

I met the same guy around 1970, Peace, only he told me something profound about the cat, and then crashed for two days on my couch. And there was something important about orange tapioca...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 09:47 PM

HEY, maybe that's the same guy. Spoke Greek, right?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 09:54 PM

Looked like this but his nose was in better shape.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 10:14 PM

So true, Frank, but I do not consider the Christian religion to be a legitimate representative of either Jesus or of his actual teachings. If he were here now, I believe he would disassociate himself from the Christian churches that use his name largely in vain...that being almost all of them!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 10:30 PM

Peace, that's him! But he said he was a potter from New Mexico.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: bobad
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 10:37 PM

"f he were here now, I believe he would disassociate himself from the Christian churches that use his name largely in vain...that being almost all of them!"

If he were here now I bet he would be an atheist.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 10:41 PM

Why do you figure that? Maybe God doesn't like the Christian religion any better than you do.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: bobad
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 10:50 PM

I just like the idea of Jesus being an atheist, it's very Dada.

God and my toothbrush are Dada, and New Yorkers can be Dada too, if they are not already. (Tristan Tzara)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Peace
Date: 31 Mar 07 - 10:55 PM

"Peace, that's him! But he said he was a potter from New Mexico. "

Bee, you may have misunderstood. He had some new pot from Mexico.


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Subject: Samaritan style phone service for aethiests
From: julian morbihan
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 04:48 AM

Did you know that British Telecom are launching a new service based on the Samaritans for aethiests.

You dial a number and nobody answers


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 05:39 AM

I am English and fascinated and intrigued by the premise of this thread. By and large, in England, we are apathetic about religion (there are, of course, some exceptions). Religion is treated rather like a harmless hobby most of the time: I do music in my spare time, you do God. The idea that it is a social *expectation* that one is a theist and subscribes, presumably, to a branch of evangelical Christianity (is that the expectation?), sounds really outlandish to someone from England.

Having said that, huge numbers of people in England call themselves nominally Christian but are fairly clueless about theology and do not attend church. It was summed up well by a Sydney Carter song in the 1960s: "I love the merry organ and the bells across the snow; I love the Church of England although I never go." Experience has taught me that in England, when people *like this* say they are Christian, they are *often* really expressing the idea that they have a white identity. They talk about "our religion", meaning Christianity (of which they are not, in reality, a part), as opposed to "their religion", by which they mean the religion of anyone who is non-white, which in their minds = non-Christian. It is a way of setting up racial barricades based, superficially, on religion, but a different set of problems to the USA, it seems.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 01:16 PM

LH,
I go with Einstein (Spinoza's god) or Carl Sagan who says that the Christian god is "too small".

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 01:30 PM

So do I, Frank. ;-) The Christian God is WAY too small. That also goes for the Muslim God and the Jewish God (which are really just slightly different versions of the Christian God).

The idea of a God that is exclusively masculine, for one thing, is ludicrous, laughable, and damnable, in my opinion. And that's just the beginning of the problems.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 01:36 PM

"The Christian God is WAY too small"

On the other hand - or maybe on the same hand - I'm listening to a radio show on Rumi, and the presenter says that the Sufis regarded the outer world as the MICRO and the inner world as the MACRO. Course, that doesn't contradict anything Jesus said, I don't think.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 01:39 PM

That sounds about right to me.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: 282RA
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 01:52 PM

As an atheist, I don't take a tack or refuting the existence of god or the absence of some type of hereafter ot reincarnation.

Any argument you can advance that you feel PROVES the existence of god, I can disprove.

That's it. That's my atheism--the whole ball o' wax.

What arguments do I offer to prove there is no god? None. I'm not out to prove there is no god, but I can show you why your arguments in favor of god's existence are flawed.

Afterlife? Hell, I don't know and I don't care. That's another argument.

A smart atheist knows how to serve the ball back to the other court and wait for the opponent to return it. In this way, the atheist avoids dogmatism. By insisting there is no god or no afterlife etc. such a person is a kind of materialist. Materialism is fine if it floats your boat but it's not atheism. It is dogmatism.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 01:56 PM

A Song For Mudcat

"Anything you can prove I can prove better.
I can prove anything better than you.
(No you can't!) Yes I can! (No you can't!) Yes I can!
(No you can't, no you can't, no you can't!)
....
(YES I CAN!!!)

Nyahh! Nyahh! Nyahh! Yes I can!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 02:04 PM

It's Carl Sagan who was way too small. God is the " first cause, itself uncaused " (primum movens immobile) and as such existent only in act (actu), that is pure actuality without potentiality and, therefore, without corporeality. I don't see how you can get any bigger than that--


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 02:18 PM

So ... God is or was an action, the Mother of all Big Bangs? Why is that something to worship (if it is)?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 02:19 PM

Well, sure...but for all you know that primum movens might have BEEN Carl Sagan in an earlier lifetime!! :>)


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 02:32 PM

naawww...any earlier incarnation of Carl would have smugly kept creation to himself! *grin*


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 03:25 PM

Why would you assume that God needs to be worshipped?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 03:32 PM

M.Ted, let's see you prove your assertions scientifically.

I think if there was a First Cause, I'd prefer it to be Carl Sagan.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 08:03 PM

Actually, the moslem and the christian god are variations on the jewish god.
282RA - bang on - except that I can no longer respect that the assumption that the persistent belief in the face of all those arguments should nonetheless be respected... I think it should be thought of as silly, as if they still believed in leprechauns.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 08:22 PM

In a way, Frank, this was a set-up--I was citing St. Thomas definition of God, from the Summa Theologica, and the proofs are there--check this: Five Proofs of the Existance of God--it can be argued, that, essentially, St. Thomas, with his reconcilliation of Aristotilian thought with faith, was the first cause to Carl Sagan, and all of modern science.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 08:27 PM

And, 282RA, your refutation of St. Tommy is due at your earliest convenience;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: 282RA
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 08:54 PM

What are they? Someone posted a link entitled 5 proofs of the existence of god to a website that offered no such thing.

Anyway, it's not necessary to know what Aquinas proofs are. I can disprove without every hearing a one of them.

Here's the secret to disproving any and all pro-god arguments:

They ALL require that the existence of god be presupposed somewhere in the premise of the argument. In effect, such arguments are loaded. The more sophisticated arguments merely find ways to disguise the presupposition of god's existence. Paolo Dezza is an expert at producing such arguments but, in the end, they all fall down.

So, if you doubt what I have asserted, give me your favorite pro-god argument and I'll show you where its weak spot is. Don't make it too easy. Find an argument that disguises that weak spot as much as possible. The standard arguments are pretty boring these days since I've been shredding them for years. I'd like to hear some new ones.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 08:59 PM

(yawn) And after you disprove God's existence, what new and glorious project awaits?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: 282RA
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 09:04 PM

>>God is the " first cause, itself uncaused " (primum movens immobile) and as such existent only in act (actu), that is pure actuality without potentiality and, therefore, without corporeality.<<

Here's one example. This one is easy to shred:

1. There is no such thing as a first cause in our experience so it is useless to apply to prove god's existence. By our experience, cause is an endless chain. A first cause actually violates everything we know about causality. An uncaused cause is, in fact, a contradiction. It is, by nature, acausal since it came into existence acausally. If if is acausal (and it is) then it likewise cannot cause anything to happen. No first cause.

2. The very wording presupposes god's existence. Notice no proof of god's existence is actually offered in the argument. It simply takes for granted that since god exists, god is the uncaused First Cause. A step or two was conveniently skipped over. FIRST prove god's existence, THEN tell me what god's nature is based on that proof.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: 282RA
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 09:09 PM

>>(yawn) And after you disprove God's existence, what new and glorious project awaits?<<

Our resident True Believer who hides behind the "spiritual" badge demonstrates why he is what I just said he is.

I made clear that I had no interest in disproving god's existence. I have NEVER disproved it and I never will. What I disprove are the ARGUMENTS supporting the existence of god. There is a universe of difference between the two. God COULD exist but not the way theists believe.

Instead of whining and ho-humming, a theist would be wise to go back to the drawing board and use his brain to come up with something worth believing in. If he can't, then admit defeat or at least admit the argument is wrong but you're going to come up with a sound one sooner or later. My reply is that I'll be here.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 10:09 PM

Actually, the five proofs are about half way down the page--AR--evidence, I suppose, that you're eyesight isn't as good as you think. And you did say that you could prove several things:

"Anyway, it's not necessary to know what Aquinas proofs are. I can disprove without every hearing a one of them"

"Any argument you can advance that you feel PROVES the existence of god, I can disprove"

Your "proof" actually proves that you use faulty logic when coming to conclusions. Your first assertion,"There is no such thing as a first cause in our experience" is demonstrably false--to wit--The Big Bang Theory--the rest your arguement is circular logic, and a vague recapitulation of the "chicken and the egg", and, in case you missed it, the egg won--having pre-existed chickens in the reproductive evolution by millions of years--

So, what we've established is that you tend not to use reason and logic when coming to conclusions--therefore, you atheism is irrational--


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 10:16 PM

OK - read the 5 reasons for god, and they aren't. The fact that there is motion does not mean there has to be god; the fact that things are does not mean they were created; the existence of things does not mean they had to exist; the fact that some things are better than others does not mean there has to be god; and the fact that things work doesn't mean there is god. Again, what there seems to be is a lack of understanding of basic science.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 10:42 PM

You don't get it, Mrzzy, "The fact that there is motion does not mean there has to be god"--isn't a refutation--you have to explain why you think that St. Thomas is wrong--And careful readers will note the similarity between the language of this proof and the language of Newton's Law's of Motion--particularly the first one--
St. Tommy says"Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act."

ewton's first law of motion is often stated as"An object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force."

Tread carefully, because if you disprove this--the foundations of modern science will crumble and fall into the sea.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 01 Apr 07 - 10:56 PM

The classic refutation of First Cause is what or who caused god? And so on ad infinitum.

The Teleological argument is refuted becaue if you observe many species, there is no real intelligent design. It's not random either because all life .

The Ontological argument goes back to DeCarte's "Humunculous" somehow located in the pituatary gland connecting the soul and the body. The "soul" is not measurable by scientific means.

In discovering new galaxies, we find that there may be more than one "big bang".

As Dawkins has pointed out, we are only just beginning to discover the world from a macro and micro view. Our perceptions are limited but are expanding as new scientific breakthroughs occur such as "string theory", "branes", "field theory" etc. We are like the trapped women in the burqua who can only see through the slits.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 12:48 AM

I don't think you have the slightest idea what I believe in, 282. Why don't you tell me how you define the word "God", and we'll see if I believe in anything that meets your definition. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 01:18 AM

"The classic refutation of First Cause is what or who caused god? And so on ad infinitum."

If you are a THINKING "believer", I would suppose that it is that very mystery that inspires your awe, and the contemplation of that mystery that feeds your spiritual sense. Perhaps it is this unknowable and incomprehensible "cause" that Thomas actually meant by First Cause, rather than a kind of cosmic superman, who, as above, would require a further cause. If you acknowledge existence, you must acknowledge the illogicality of the fact of existence. There is no conceivable reason for ANYTHING to exist, including "God", yet things do exist. Why? Perhaps the name "God" meant to Thomas the unknowable, irrational, impossible answer to that question ...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 01:43 AM

It is a bit presumptuous to assume that our small minds, and the meager tools that they've created are able to perceive the nature of the totality, much less to understand it.

An important idea that St. Thomas presented has to do with reason and faith--something approximating the idea that what we cannot understand through reason, we must accept through faith.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 02:00 AM

Exactly. It's more than a BIT presumptuous. It is vain in the extreme. And that's why I take issue with it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Bardan
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 08:26 AM

What I find interesting about the semitic religions is the insistence on a 'good' God. Where did that come from? The ancient polytheistic religions feature deities that can have darker sides as does hinduism I believe. (Which arguably is an ancient polytheistic religion, although that feels a bit simplistic to me.) Buddhism doesn't even have a god as such. I just find the idea of a 'Good' God creating a world with pain suffering, evil etc bizarre. And you can ascribe these things to the fall of man or satan or whatever, but all of these reasons emmanate from God anyway. He is meant to have created satan and the fruit etc. (It couldn't have been a mistake either, since he apparently knows everything that will happen, thus the results of all his actions.)
The 'good' 'merciful' God idea must be a more recent development as well since the god in the old testament does vicious things to people for ridiculous reasons (eg in some sort of penis measuring contest with satan (Job).) Bit of a thread creep. Sorry.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 08:37 AM

A lovely nun I once knew told me that she had come to the conclusion that philosophy is the most interesting useless thing you can do. Her point was that you can waste endless amounts of enjoyable time debating things that no one knows and no one can prove; but the point of life, she said, is to *do*. To put it in philosophical jargon, she was more interested in theopraxis (acting in the world out of beliefs about God) than theology (debating abstract ideas about God). I think she had it right.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 09:14 AM

Please explain what I didn't get... here is the 1st argument in its entirety (anything not in italics is me):
The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.
Now, why does there "have" to be "a" "mover?"


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 09:30 AM

There doesn't have to be. It is a specious assumption that since in physical trains of causality phenomena all go back to a prior cause, and that such trains just "can't" go on forever, there must be a starting point of a cause that was itself not caused. You can sort of appreciate the impulse to decry infinite regression as unacceptable, but there are too many un-reasoned leaps in the series to make it robust. For one thing, the blind assumption that "all" must have "one" cause; for another, the blind assumption that prior cause must end in an entity. "This everyone understands to be..." is almost a dead giveaway that someone put their thinking on auto.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Donuel
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 09:31 AM

For any potentiality or motion or comparable change to exist you need at least 2 things. We need at least two things to show the relative difference between them.

For example the big bang concept has given over to the theory that there was a collision of two seperate (mem) branes of existence which has all the appearence of what we used to call the explosion of a big bang singularity.

ergo: there are TWO GODS.

kinda like us when we have a baby huh?

Isn't it wierd that our magor religions never got this quite right, Hindu has hundreds, The Greeks had dozens, The Jews had one, The Christians had THREE....

Jeez Louise you'd think that someone would have guessed TWO !!

Its as plain as the nose* on your face that God comes in two parts.
Yeah there is dualism but I've never heard of a practising dualist.




*with 2 nostrils of course.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Bardan
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 09:50 AM

But dualism isn't about having two gods. It's about either good and evil in everything and everyone, or two planes, worlds, areas, call them what you will, (generally physical and mental or spiritual) a la platonic dualism. The first could be expressed as a good and an evil deity (or maybe the chaos and order of some creation stories) but neither has to involve any gods at all.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 09:54 AM

There have been several religous or mythical traditions in which the two-terminal generation of existence, modeled on human biology, explained the creation of at least some layer of reality. It seems to me, though, they are mostly secondary myth systems, largely forgotten -- at least I can't recall which ones I am thinking of..

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 10:27 AM

Amos,

You said:

"It is a specious assumption that since in physical trains of causality phenomena all go back to a prior cause, and that such trains just "can't" go on forever, there must be a starting point of a cause that was itself not caused"

Why is this specious?

As to the question, "Why does there have to be a "mover"? It is because our direct experience is that without a "mover", there is no motion.

This is basic stuff Mrzzy--why haven't you worked it out already?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 10:48 AM

It is specious because this sort of view of cause leading to effect is learned from the material universe at the macro level of the ordinary space-time continuum.

Suppose we postulate that for every dream there must be a dreamer, right? Extrapolating from that that since we all dream in similar ways, there must be some Super-Dreamer, and all our dreams are actually from Him, is a fallacious leap in logic. It is just as possible that the commonality is simply an averaging of illusion stemming from trillions of different unique dreamers.

For another thing, the order of thought that wrestles with issues like the origins of existence is not likely to be the same order of thought that requires unidirectional continuity in time. The notion that time is inelucctably moving from the past toward the future, resulting in an endless series of blips of "present", is kinda local, if you see what I mean. And it may be completely cockeyed when compared to the kind of factors in play around the actual question of existence itself. But the "prior cause" argument only holds within a structure of such unidirectional time.

The metaphor comes to mind of a bunch of pool balls discussing where they came from and how they came into existence. Their arguments would include that every poolball who ever appears anywhere is moved there by a prior strike from another ball or from the cueball or from a cue. This is the whole frame of their experience. The idea that an entirely different sort of game might be involved -- the leisure game industry and its factories -- escapes their discussion all together.

The metaphor, of course, fails on the flaw that it is entirely within space-time constructs. But I think you can get the point. Extrapolating from Newtonian spacetime rules to describe non-physical events and sequences is childish at best.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 12:33 PM

I think that your examples go to reinforcing rather than refuting St. Thomas' point--he was talking about the same physical universe that Newton was, after all--

In the pool ball example, the pool cue initiates the movement, and the movement of the cue is driven by a hand driven by a mind(The Hand of God!)--the will of the mind being the first cause--so it is a particularly apt example of the idea.

As to validity of our observations, and the models, like cause and effect, that we create, based on them, you are exactly right, they are more reflective of our perspective than of universal truth--St. Thomas was very clear on the idea that our intellect and it's attendent devices had limits--


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,82RA
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 12:58 PM

>>Your "proof" actually proves that you use faulty logic when coming to conclusions. Your first assertion,"There is no such thing as a first cause in our experience" is demonstrably false--to wit--The Big Bang Theory<<

Are you saying that astrophysicists the Big Bang is an uncaused cause?? Could you provide a staement from a reputable scientist? I know of no quallified person claiming any such thing. Most believe it is not even the beginning of the universe: "...when the universe was between 10^-35 and 10^-33 seconds old, it underwent an exponential expansion, increasing its radius by a fantastic 10^50 amount. This 'inflation' phase happened just before and was even more rapid than the standard Big Bang phase." --Beyond Einstein, Michio Kaku, p.139

>>--the rest your arguement is circular logic, and a vague recapitulation of the "chicken and the egg", and, in case you missed it, the egg won--having pre-existed chickens in the reproductive evolution by millions of years--<<

You'll need to explain this so that it has some relevance to the discussion. It's nothing more than a subjective statement as it sits. Logic, man, logic.

>>So, what we've established is that you tend not to use reason and logic when coming to conclusions--therefore, you atheism is irrational--<<

What we've established is that you do not even know your science much less what is rational or irrational.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,282RA
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 01:05 PM

>>St. Tommy says"Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act."<<

Haha! This actually refutes your uncaused cause. Nothing can be in motion except something external to it put it in motion. That's standard causality which does not allow for a first cause.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,282RA
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 01:07 PM

>>I don't think you have the slightest idea what I believe in, 282. Why don't you tell me how you define the word "God", and we'll see if I believe in anything that meets your definition. ;-)<<

One more time: I do not seek to define god or to deny it, I seek only to destroy any argument that attempts either.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,282RA
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 01:09 PM

>>It is a bit presumptuous to assume that our small minds, and the meager tools that they've created are able to perceive the nature of the totality, much less to understand it.<<

Yet you offer the Big Bang as proof of an uncaused cause as though there can be no arguing it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 01:13 PM

As I said the pool ball metaphor is weak on the fact that it is drawn inside the universe in which chain causality obtains. But the point of it though is that the poolballs are missing a whole other scene outside their frame of experience and reference.

We are seriously addicted to space-time sensory patterns of viewing and it is a bit of a shame, as it clamps down on the imagination and on the ability to envision links and patterns other than "normal" ones, which makes it ridiculous to discuss the notion of some infinite spiritual power with any clarity or real meaning.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 02:11 PM

"I do not seek to define god or to deny it,I seek only to destroy any argument that attempts either."

What a vain seeking! ;-) Why don't you do something more useful, like try and invent a better mousetrap? Or wash the car. Anything.

I'll tell you something, 282. I don't seek to define God or deny it either. Such seeking is utterly futile, as I'm sure you would agree. I don't mind speculating about the Infinite and our place in the Infinite though, and I don't have to belong to some organized religion to do that, do I? No. And I don't. Nor do I have any objection to those who do. That's their business, not mine. And their definition of God is their business too.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 03:23 PM

Amos--you are right--but you don't go far enough--iwhat you say also precludes definitive "scientific knowledge"--

AR--I wasn't there, so I can't tell you anything about the Big Bang, just something I pulled out of the air as an easy to understand example first cause--Amos' pool game is really better, partly because pool is a much more reputable occupation than physics--I have know a lot of physicists, and they can be very dangerous, both to themselves and others--


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 03:25 PM

LOL, Ted!! A good physicist is a sure sign of a mis-spent childhood, eh?


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 03:35 PM

Buckminster Fuller once pointed out that, more than 400 years after we discovered that it wasn't true, we still talk about the sun rising and setting.

Several days ago, I was standing on the edge of a lacrosse field, with the sun at the horizon and a half moon shining directly above me--I realized that, at that moment,that, given that the sun , apparently at the horizon, was actually "up" , I was standing at a 90° angle to it--literally sideways. I became suddenly nauseous--

There are some things that it is better not to understand.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 03:45 PM

You must have experience an acute sense of vertigo.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: 282RA
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 05:16 PM

>>What a vain seeking! ;-) Why don't you do something more useful, like try and invent a better mousetrap? Or wash the car. Anything.<<

As you're so fond of pointing out--we're all into our own thing and none is better than the others.

>>I'll tell you something, 282. I don't seek to define God or deny it either. Such seeking is utterly futile, as I'm sure you would agree. I don't mind speculating about the Infinite and our place in the Infinite though, and I don't have to belong to some organized religion to do that, do I? No. And I don't. Nor do I have any objection to those who do. That's their business, not mine. And their definition of God is their business too.<<

It's my business once they try to force it on me in the public setting.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 05:17 PM

Vertigo, yes--and I feel like the man who knew to much as well--


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 05:20 PM

Ah! So you feel that someone is trying to force God down your throat, do you? Well, then, I can see why you're bothered about it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 06:44 PM

It is because our direct experience is that without a "mover", there is no motion.

This is basic stuff Mrzzy--why haven't you worked it out already?


Ummm - if everything has a cause, then there cannot be a first cause, is basic logic. I worked that one out a long time ago.

What you seem to be arguing is analogous to Because there is time, there must have been a time before time. Does not make sense to me at all.

282, that is exactly my issue. I don't see why I should act as if such beliefs were reasonable, when they aren't. I think they should be treated as the silliness they are. One of my friends thought a long time ago that the only way towards a secular society would be through ridicule, but I didn't think he was right.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: 282RA
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 07:38 PM

>>Ah! So you feel that someone is trying to force God down your throat, do you? Well, then, I can see why you're bothered about it.<<

Yeah, he's in the Oval Office.

>>I don't see why I should act as if such beliefs were reasonable, when they aren't. I think they should be treated as the silliness they are. One of my friends thought a long time ago that the only way towards a secular society would be through ridicule, but I didn't think he was right.<<

Ridicule is not my bag. I just don't believe that people trying to legislate their god beliefs into my life should be spared an unpleasant jab of truth. Surely they expect resistance from people who don't agree with them but you'd never guess it from that bullshit "we're-so-persecuted" act they put on.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 09:32 PM

Now I get the drift of your argument. I guess if I was in the USA right now I would worry about this a lot more than I do.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 09:57 PM

I meant there to be a smiley face after that question. My point in all of this is not a religious or philosophical point--I want people to remember that they need to respect one another, even when they don't put much stock in one another's beliefs.

I


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 10:00 PM

But *why* should we respect foolishness?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 02 Apr 07 - 10:15 PM

Who says you need to respect foolishness? Just respect people in a general sense, that's all, and pardon them their foolishness. We are ALL foolish in some respect or another. Hang around someone, anyone long enough and you will see that they are foolish in some respects. I guarantee it. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 03 Apr 07 - 09:09 AM

I respect *thinking* people. I have a hard time respecting the foolish, especially the determinedly and deliberately foolish. And when they thrust their foolishness into my life and that of my children (we are in the US, remember) *and* require me to act as if it weren't foolish, then it is too dangerous to respect.
It's the harm. I keep saying that. It's the harm. Look at what it's doing to our school system... look at what it's doing to international relations...
If I weren't so lazy I'd emigrate. But I *like* the rich living of the States - so I'd rather fight the foolishness and stay here.
Hey - maybe I'm not all that lazy after all!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 03 Apr 07 - 02:49 PM

Well, I find fundamentalists darned annoying too, so I get where you're coming from. I don't have to deal with that much in Canada. We have never had a government which pushed that kind of attitude.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 03 Apr 07 - 03:54 PM

M.Ted, I agree with you wholeheartedly.

Richard Dawkins presents that view eloquently in his book "The God Delusion" and in his dealing with "believers" he always points out that he respects those believers as people ahead of their beliefs.

I think that most atheists are pretty broad-minded on this issue. I have not heard of any atheist murdering any "believer" because of their belief but there have been incidents of "believers" murdering atheists because of theirs.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 03 Apr 07 - 04:55 PM

Little Hawk - if we really get global warming, wonder how many frileux atheist americans will move north? Yikes!

Well-put, Stringsinger (love your handle, btw).


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 03 Apr 07 - 06:31 PM

"Believers" far more often have murdered other believers (whose belief differs in some way from their own) than they have murdered atheists. Catholics murder Protestants, and vice versa. Sunnis murder Shiites. Jews and Muslims murder one another. The slaughter of believers BY believers is far more common than the slaughter of atheists by believers.

As for the slaughter of believers by atheists!!!...just go to grotesque examples of that like Mao's China, Stalin's Russia, and Pol Pot's Cambodia, and the numbers of believers slain by the official atheists in power goes into the millions.

No one has a monopoly on either virtue or victimhood when it comes to this subject, neither the believers nor the atheists. Both are capable of good works, bad works, and terrible atrocities.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 03 Apr 07 - 11:30 PM

Yes, millions of people whether they had faith or not, by about 3-5 atheists. In contrast to similar millions who had a different faith or none, by millions of believers.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Bardan
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 06:00 AM

Erm, no. There was a whole massive party system backing up those dictators. It was a lot more than 3 or 5 people. Now, you could argue that it wasn't really about religion. That they were simply people who weren't sufficiently controlled for the party's tastes, who resisted and were therefore seen as a threat. But they were killed by large organised systems involving lots of people.

In connection with the 'uncaused causer' idea, again it's mainly a peculiarity of the semitic religions to encourage a straight line view of time with a beginning and an end. The old systems in Europe and Eastern thought as a whole seem far more into a cyclical model. I think I'm right in saying that some scientists still believe in a big bang going to big crunch and starting up again sort of idea.

As far as I'm concerned, the idea of matter/the universe/ whatever always being there is no more ridiculous than the idea of it being created out of nothing.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Bardan
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 06:12 AM

What I mean is the argument of the believers seems to be that that nothing happens without a cause so the universe can't have always been there or just happened spontaneously. It must have been caused/created by God. Who has always existed or maybe just sprang into being spontaneously.

I've just realised I'm pretty much repeating a previous post, but what the hell, it's a good enough point to bear repeating.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 11:12 AM

OK, this came to me in a pm signed Mrrzy, although it was addressed to me, not written by me. I'm responding here out of fear that others have similarly misunderstood what I meant. Italics are theirs. Plain text is mine. Again, I hope I get all the italicizing done right.
So...you don't regard an officially atheist military dictatorship type of administration with a gigantic atheist army and governmental apparatus at its command as dangerous, Mrzzy????? Sure, any military dictatorship is dangerous, as is any gigantic army and governmental apparatus. What I was saying was there were very few of them, especially compared to the number of military dictatorships nad governmental apparati which are *not* atheistic.
Mao and Stalin and Pol Pot did not act alone as a handful of individuals. They had millions of compliant and often fanatical followers, faithful atheist
(or who said they were out of fear) political party machines, armies, propaganda ministers. They killed anyone who was openly religious or different in any way from their party line. Right - they were terrible and I'm not defending them. There were, nonetheless, fewer of them than there are theistic mass murderers for cause. Remember the Crusades? The Nazis? Ever lost anyone to Al Quaeda, or Hezbollah, or the United States Gubmint's jackbooted thugs? The trick is, atheists are much harder to rally behind unreasonable causes than are the faithful, who have already given themselves over to another authority.
What the fuck is it? You think that only "religious" people who don't share your bitter dislike of organized religion are capable of doing great evil things in this world??????
No. I think that all the evil done in the name of religion requires religion to justify it, whereas none of the good does. And I am not against organized religion; I am against discarding reality to cling to mythology.
Take the damn knee jerk chip off your shoulder for a change and try to be half objective, Mrzzy.
Hey, I *earned* that chip (*G*). And I *am* objective - I am dealing with data and reality, not myth and superstition. There are good people and bad people among both the religious and the non-religious, always have been, and always will be. Religion in itself is not the problem in this world. It is people who MISUSE religion to hurt people who are the problem, and people who MISUSE anti-religion to hurt people are just as much the problem. People who won't leave other people ALONE in peace to be who they are, are the problem. Right - why won't they leave me to be an atheist in peace? Instead, I am forced, and my children are forced, to act as if faith were reasonable. (Which it isn't - it's faith. If it were reasonable, it wouldn't require faith, it could be demonstrated.) The questions here isn't, do you go to church; it's what church do you go to. Parents who won't let their kids play with mine when they find out the answer is None. And so on.
Until you stop pissing on religious people as though they were "all the same" (which they sure as hell are not), don't expect anyone else to stop pissing on you. You don't deserve what you aren't willing to extend: mutual respect and tolerance...until you extend it to people yourself.
But that is exactly my point! The faith-based here (and I have said over and over again that this is a US -and middle eastern- issue - Canadians and Europeans don't have this problem. But we do) will not respect any non-faith view. Until they do, I am forced to fight back, with argument and data, because I don't believe that punching them in the nose would be a good answer.
And, I might remind you, I belong to no organized religion myself, don't wish to or need to, but, boy does it disgust me to hear the sort of chauvinistic hateful crap that some people come up with around subjects like religion. You think you're better than all religious people? You think you're smarter than all religious people? You think they should all be brought up to your higher level of awareness and "saved" from their sad life of illusions by you? If so, you've got hell of a lot of nerve.
Well, there is something here - I do think that questioning data is a good thing, but once the data have withstood the questioning, I think it's unintelligent to then discard the data because it conflicts with your beautiful theory. Beautiful theories are supposed to be slain by ugly facts, not invulnerable to them because the theory was written down in some holy book. Remember - all these holy books were written by humans.
Some of the finest people I have ever known in my life were deeply religious people. And some of the wisest too. They can be found in any religion, not just in Christianity. They can also be found quite readily among the non-religious. I know that. That's why I fully respect both ways of being, and I don't make the mistake of consigning one of them to a sort of figurative "hell" which is what you appear to be doing, as far as I can see.
Sure, there can be wise fools, and wise sages, in and out of various religions. However, faith is not reasonable, and I don't see why I should have to pretend it is, especially with my children's education at stake.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 11:23 AM

Mrzzy, Communism (of the Marxist/Leninist/Maoist variety) is an avowedly atheist social philosophy--many millions of people were murdered in the name of Communism. Did "atheism", and the rejection of Christian moral and ethical values that comes with it, make it possible for Stalin and company to make mass murder a legitimate social institution?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 12:04 PM

Mass murder has been a legitimate social institution ever since war and dictators and oppressors of all sorts came into being. People who fight wars and who oppress others will always cynically use religion (or the hatred of religion) as am emotional motivator for their troops. That is not an indictment of religion itself, it's an indictment of war and oppression.

Religion is just one of many common excuses used to camouflage an unholy desire to rob and destroy people. Other common excuses often used are "patriotism", "defence", "manifest destiny", the "white man's burden", economics, race, etc...

While I sympathize with your difficulties with the Bush administration and its pandering to the "Christian" lobby, Mrzzy, I hardly see that religion itself is the problem here.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 01:33 PM

I have nothing against religion as a private set of convictions, and I do not know who was beleaguering Mrrzy with the shades of Pol Pot and the like, but it brings up a very important distinction.

The mad militants with large armies are dangerous NOT because they do not have a religion but because they have no sense of ethics.

The failure of ethics is a failure in human rationality and imagination, not a failing in worship or dogma.

It is the abuse of an inherent human potential to think through courses of action and sort them on the basis of the widest benefit.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with religious belief.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Donuel
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 01:35 PM

Are religionists sick?
Are Atheists sick?

You are only as sick as your secrets!











thats why there are few sick souls on mudcat.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 03:43 PM

SOUL

For the soul is the beginning of all things.
It is the soul that lends all things movement.

             Plotinus


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 04:09 PM

"While I sympathize with your difficulties with the Bush administration and its pandering to the "Christian" lobby, Mrzzy, I hardly see that religion itself is the problem here."

       The way I think religion is the problem here is like this: people who I know who go to church, and with whom I have to do business, will happily screw you to death on Friday, then go down to the church and roll around on the floor until god forgives them.
       And then on Monday morning they emerge back in public to gleefully screw somebody else.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 06:07 PM

Again, my issue is not with religion. My issue is with denial of reality when it conflicts with faith, instead of adjusting your faith to fit reality. As in, calling evolution a theory but not gravity or plate tectonics. As in, putting In God We Trust on our money and our schools. As in, when my kid joins a public school chorus, he sings hymns and psalms and gospel, but nothing about, say, Emmet Till or something actually educational. There are a lot of ways to teach 4-part harmony - they don't need to be singing Praise Jesus to learn that.

And Amos' point is extremely well-taken, M. Ted - Stalin was not murdering people in the name of atheism. In the name of communism, which is atheistic, sure. But not in the name of atheism. I can't think of one single atheist who killed one single human being just for believing in something supernatural. But I can think of loads of believers who have killed believers in something different.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 08:38 PM

In science, there is a problem with the word "creation". Evolution is not creation but a genetic process. If there were a designer who made the evolutionary "mistakes" along the way, he might be fired for incompetency. :)

Pol Pot, Mao, Stalin and Hitler are used to justify the argument that atheism is somehow "evil". It could be argued I think that Communism has a religious component. It's a dogma not unlike many of the religious dogmas. Stalin, however, perverted Communism to suit his own ends. Hitler was not an atheist and stated that atheists should be killed.

I think the point is valid that no one view has a monopoly on dictatorship which in my view is more of a psychological disturbance than a legitimate "world view".

"In God We Trust" on our currency is a recent development procured by a minister. It did not appear at the inception of our coinage or paper.

Dogma is dogma and it belongs in the dogma house. And it deserves a leash law. (Separation of Church and State)

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 08:50 PM

Believers in communism were killing non-believers in communism, Mrrzy. As simple as that. Communism WAS, in fact, a state religion...but just not a religion based on a deity, that's all. It was a religion based on a set of beliefs about society and humanity. It's usually about core beliefs that people make war on other people...or it's about money, land, and resources...or all of those things wrapped up together.

The core beliefs do not necessarily have to be beliefs about God. Americans have a state religion all their own. It is called "The American Way". Its sacred symbols are the flag, the US dollar, the Liberty Bell, the Pyramid and the All-seeing Eye (and some other masonic symbols), the Fasces, the American Eagle, the Statue of Liberty, the Washington monument, the White House and Congress, the Constitution, and a long tradition of battles and heroes. In the name of this state religion, taught in every American primary school, Americans have gone forth for generations and fought wars all over the globe and extended corporate control over societies and resources all over the place. They have unwittingly caused suffering to uncountable millions of non-Americans in the process. Like Communism, the American Way is a state political religion. Unlike Communism, it also often claims to represent God's will and to indeed be the finest example of God's plan on this Earth. That is a profoundly disturbing phenomenon to those of us who don't buy it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 04 Apr 07 - 10:54 PM

Mrrzy, if I knew where you live I have forgotten it, but it seems to me that it must be in the American south. That is the only region even remotely like what you describe. I live in the American west- first in Oregon and now in Alaska. I have to say that I have NEVER heard of anyone acting or reacting as you say they do.

"As in, when my kid joins a public school chorus, he sings hymns and psalms and gospel, but nothing about, say, Emmet Till or something actually educational. There are a lot of ways to teach 4-part harmony - they don't need to be singing Praise Jesus to learn that."

Huh? In the West children are not even ALLOWED to sing psalms and hymns in public schools. So where are your children that that is what they sing? If you enrolled them in a parochial school that bespeaks a fierce aggressiveness that is bound to bring grief and contention to you, and to them.

In the west, I don't know - and have never known - people who kept my daughter from playing with theirs because she didn't go to church. And she was little a generation ago, when one might safely expect a more aggressively devout community.Where the heck do you live? It seems to me - and freely admitting that I don't know this to be true - that you may be perceived as doing your own version of proselytizing.

I know many religious people- and many of them are good, wholesome people. I know many non-religious people - and many of them are good, wholesome people. In my experience you tend to get back what you give.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 09:29 AM

Central Virginia, USA. Public school. Amazing to normal people, isn't it? And Charlottesville is a bastion of democratic thinkers in this sea of republicans. You should see our voting record, normally.

Little Hawk - "Believers in communism were killing non-believers in communism, Mrrzy." - sure. But again, it wasn't atheists killing believers in gods *just for* believing in those gods. I repeat, I know of 0, no, documented cases where an atheist killed a believer only for believing.

Also, and this isn't just for you, but when *I* say Religion, I do not mean any world view or ethos or something like The American Way, in your example. I mean a system regulating worship of a deity or their prophet(s). Even those of us red-blooded Amurricans, no matter how patriotic, do not *worship* the Flag, or the Bill of Rights. I admire the Bill of Rights greatly; I do not worship it.

Lessee - begging the question - when I say Worship I mean Pay homage to in the expectation of getting something out of it, like salvation, eternal life, life after death, better weather, what have you.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 12:18 PM

I think I'd move!

I lived in Virginia in my teens, between Staunton and Waynesboro, 28 miles from Charlottesville, in the early 50s. I remember that it seemed like everybody went to church- it didn't necessarily mean that everybody was good people (far from it!); it was just the thing one did, the seemly thing.

I don't know what the experiences were/are of people who don't go to church in Virginia. I was growing up in a family that went to church.

All that said, these days I love to visit Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland... There is a warmth there that has tremendous resonance.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Leadfingers
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 01:05 PM

200 !!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 03:35 PM

I'm trying very hard not to have to move. I like everything ELSE about living here - very liberal, very international, very educated, very diverse... so I am fighting a rearguard action instead to bring us back to the original american ideal - where the gubmint has no say in religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 05:20 PM

Oh, well, I think you guys worship your flag, Mrrzy. ;-) But it's a matter of opinion, isn't it? I've never seen a nation of people so obsessed with their damn flag as Americans are. Do you think we Canadians fixate on our national flag to that degree? Not a chance. We sort of like the fact that it's our flag, but that's about as far as it goes.

Believers kill non-believers. Doesn't matter much what they believe in. It's not the believing that's wrong, it's the habit of killing FOR their belief that's wrong.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 05:55 PM

"very liberal," ? Doesn't seem to follow.

Little Hawk, if the USA had an acorn, say, on its flag we might not find it so soul-stirring, either. *G*


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 06:01 PM

Yeah... ;-) But what is so soul-stirring about a bunch of danged red and white stripes, a blue square, and a sprinkling of white stars? Looks like a design for Dagwood's pajamas to me.

I don't find the Maple Leaf flag very stirring at all, Ebbie. I liked our previous flag, the Red Ensign, much better, but they replaced it with the Maple Leaf flag in the early 60's.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 06:04 PM

There's nothing soul-stirring about the flag, LH. There is smething soul-stirring about the great democratic experriment it represents. I wish people both inside the country and outside would get back on track with that! :D


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 06:07 PM

Yeah, me too.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 06:09 PM

LH, I agree with pretty much everything you've said. There are those of us Americans, though, who are trying to bring Democracy back to our country. The Grinch in the Executive branch stole it from us.

There are those of us who don't worship the flag. Some of us even burn it to make a statement. (Not me, but there are those who are angry at what our country has become).

Fortunately, America still has diversity in its idea of what America stands for. You can't tell that by our corporate-controlled news media today but we are there. We believe in the Constitution as a noble document that had a kind of idealism that is a good guide. We don't burn candles to it, however, nor do we pranam to the altar of political priests.

Speaking of priests and preachers, has anyone had the temerity to discuss "child abuse" in religion? It is rampant.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 06:12 PM

That depends which religion you mean (about the child abuse). I prefer eastern religions like Buddhism on the whole. They're less aggressive and more reasonable than the Judeo-Christian-Muslim triumvirate.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 05 Apr 07 - 09:16 PM

I wasn't sad to see the Red Ensign go. I like Britain, but saw no reason to keep the Union Jack on the Canadian flag - like wearing your grandmother's hat or something, sentimental and a little childish.

Although having to keep reminding Americans at sports events to carry it with the Leaf's pointy bits up is a pain. ;-D


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 12:55 AM

I don't revere the US flag but seeing it held high as people come together in grief or in gratitude is soul stirring to me.

I'm not a liturgical person but I suspect that people who are, people who respond to pomp and ritual and repetition, also have the same focused feeling.

When I am in Washington DC I get somewhat the same feeling, marred only by the acid knowledge that currently we have thugs in the White House. The feeling has to do with the hope and aspirations this country was born with and tried to bring to fruition.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Apr 07 - 03:25 PM

Well, Bee, I just find the Red Ensign more aesthetically appealing. It's got a deeper, stronger red in it, and a better combination of colors. It also has symbols for the English, the Scots, the French, and the Irish, which is pretty neat. The new flag looks like a gas station logo to me.

"Maple Leaf Gas - Fill'er up right here, eh?"

Still, it could be worse. They could've put a set of moose antlers on it, after all... ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 07 Apr 07 - 10:00 PM

I remember the "sorry, eh?" episode too, Bee!

Americans are, in general and certainly in the gubmint, kinda nuts about their flag. I was speaking for myself and my family, Little Hawk; my dad, having been brought up Quaker, wouldn't let me pledge allegiance to the flag the 2 school years I was in the US system, so the fact that they wouldn't have let me say Under God didn't even come up. I have not gone so far as to forbid my kids from saying the pledge but they skip the Under God part.

One new thing about atheism seems to be that people are actually noticing the writers like Harris and Dawkins - if EJ Dionne is writing an *answer* to the atheists, then he's heard the question at least, and that is great news.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 12 Apr 07 - 04:25 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 15 Apr 07 - 10:45 AM

"One new thing about atheism seems to be that people are actually noticing the writers like Harris and Dawkins - if EJ Dionne is writing an *answer* to the atheists, then he's heard the question at least, and that is great news."


          Daniel Dennett is another writer worth reading--"Breaking the Spell." But it can get to be kind of slow slogging.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 15 Apr 07 - 12:46 PM

Yeah, I bet... ;-)

It's as easy to point out the inconsistencies of conventional religion as it is to point out that wet paint can stick to your clothes...but the slaggers never even bother to take a serious look at the deeper levels of spiritual philosopy that are found underlying most conventional religions. They don't look beyond the metaphors and the outer symbols. They, like most conventional churchgoers, barely scratch the surface.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 15 Apr 07 - 01:38 PM

...which is understandable, because in many sects all that is wanted from parishioners is an amiable perpetuation of surface. Follow the forms, perpetuate the nouns, hand off the metaphors as fact, and never mind the probing questions.

Not all religions are like this of course, but the ones that are the most organized seem to have the most invested in not letting their rituals be shaken by deeper questions or discussion.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 10:16 AM

"They, like most conventional churchgoers, barely scratch the surface."

            Still, it seems like there should be something to be gained by looking into it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 10:41 AM

Actually, many of us "neo-atheists" as Dionne put it, actually do delve below the shiny surface to the hidden depths of this metaphor... that is why we are so annoying to the believers!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 11:02 AM

Amos, you're right...that IS all that's wanted in most of those churches and organizations... "an amiable perpetuation of surface. Follow the forms, perpetuate the nouns, hand off the metaphors as fact, and never mind the probing questions."


It's also all that's wanted in political parties, corporations, the military, and large organizations of every type throughout society. ;-) Ever notice that? The rank and file of the members are expected to be full of enthusiasm, loyal, ill-informed, and barely aware of what's really going on. The less they know, the less likely they are to question authority.

The funny thing about non-theists is they seem to only be inclined to notice that kind of phenomenon when it's found happening in "religion". This is a case of finding perfidy wherever you look for it, and not finding it wherever you don't.

A self-fulfilling prophecy?

The highest form of spirituality is that which leads a person to look deeply into and question everything...every form of conventionality and lazy thinking...not just the conventionality and lazy thinking found in organized religion. Spirituality asks the great questions and the small ones. It questions every "rule" and re-examines it. It questions every role and re-examines it. It looks beyond the surface. It questions self as well as questioning others. It unites all the disciplines...science, philosophy, art, commerc. It does not divide and separate...(you don't look suddenly shaplier? Heh!)...it unifies the apparent opposites.

In all the debates here I see people trying to divide and separate: "My way good...your way bad. My way right...your way wrong." That, ultimately, does not lead anywhere useful. It just leads to division and warfare (on some level or another).


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 11:17 AM

The highest form of spirituality is that which leads a person to look deeply into and question everything...every form of conventionality and lazy thinking...not just the conventionality and lazy thinking found in organized religion. Spirituality asks the great questions and the small ones. It questions every "rule" and re-examines it. It questions every role and re-examines it. It looks beyond the surface. It questions self as well as questioning others. It unites all the disciplines...science, philosophy, art, commerc. It does not divide and separate...(you don't look suddenly shaplier? Heh!)...it unifies the apparent opposites.

In all the debates here I see people trying to divide and separate: "My way good...your way bad. My way right...your way wrong." That, ultimately, does not lead anywhere useful. It just leads to division and warfare (on some level or another).


Clearly, then, the highest goal of agnosticism is the complete re-integration of consciousness. This of course will put the agnostics out of a job, but it will be worth it.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 11:41 AM

Absolutely. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 11:45 AM

RE-integration of consciousness is what atheists and freethinkers are all about.
Their consciouness is predicated on reality, not some metaphysical mist.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 11:59 AM

Grr! Snarl!   I think I see a chip showing on your shoulder...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 12:20 PM

"The highest form of spirituality is that which leads a person to look deeply into and question everything...every form of conventionality and lazy thinking...not just the conventionality and lazy thinking found in organized religion. Spirituality asks the great questions and the small ones. It questions every "rule" and re-examines it. It questions every role and re-examines it. It looks beyond the surface. It questions self as well as questioning others. It unites all the disciplines...science, philosophy, art, commerc. It does not divide and separate...(you don't look suddenly shaplier? Heh!)...it unifies the apparent opposites." - Little Hawk

From where do you get this broad definition of 'spirituality'? Spirit and spiritual are examples of words with multiple definitions, including ones which conclude that they describe imaginary concepts. The above makes it sound like the Universal Solvent.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 01:36 PM

I get if from a lifetime of personal experience...as a free thinker who does not belong to any group, cult, religion, or political party...but is willing to take a look at all the possibilities. I question every human custom. I question every creed. I find some good in most, if not all of them...I find that none of them has all the answers. The members of almost any group (religious or otherwise) tend to be a bit chauvinistic about other groups in the same field of interest. I question that also. I have a natural tendency to resist being pressured to conform to other people's expectations.

Of course there are different interpretations of words like "spiritual" or "spirit". I was just giving you my interpretation of it, that's all.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 01:50 PM

LH, not at all. No chip from me. You can believe whatever you want. It's your right to believe in unicorns if you want to.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 04:15 PM

And who says I do?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 04:23 PM

Well, Bee, how's this for a hypothesis: Spirituality IS the universal solvent because it (the spiritual part of the human makeup) is the source of (a) live communication/understanding and (b) all ability to intend or put forth a decision about how things will go. In this respect, all problems are essentially an insufficiency of spirituality, whereby people become stimulus-response entities rather than understanding, communicating, intending and acting. Huh?

That's my story, and I'm stickin' to it.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 05:17 PM

You are so right, Amos. I can see how one day you may actually merit an honorary promotion to the Order of Shatner...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 16 Apr 07 - 08:50 PM

Thanks, pal, but the Buddha teaches us not to succumb to the temptation to abhor.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 17 Apr 07 - 01:58 PM

Little Hawk, to what questions are you still seeking answers?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 17 Apr 07 - 03:13 PM

IF he has an answer to that question, does that disqualify him?

:D

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 17 Apr 07 - 04:39 PM

"Thanks, pal, but the Buddha teaches us not to succumb to the temptation to abhor."

          How can the Buddha teach. I thought he was addicted to some ancient superstition or another.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 12:48 PM

Little Hawk?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 02:19 PM

Huh??? There must be a million questions I would like answers to. Like anyone else, Mrrzy, I am curious and I want to know as things as I can about life, existence, the world around me, and so. There are a great many things I don't know. I have questions regarding all of them.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 02:29 PM

What questions do you still have after reading what you know about reality, though? You said earlier "I find that none of them [human creeds] has all the answers. " - I didn't want to assume that I knew the questions. If you're thinking Why are we here? We know that. If you're thinking How did we get here? We know that too. So I am still wondering what you don't know, given the state of knowledge today...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Apr 07 - 02:39 PM

Mrrzy, as I said, the number of philosophical questions I have about life is simply endless. I find that my spiritual studies help me to answer them more effectively than most other lines of investigation, science included.

You say, "Why are we here? We know that. If you're thinking How did we get here? We know that too."

Oh yeah???????? Really? ;-) My goodness!

I don't think most of us have any idea why we're here...although we do have numerous interesting theories about it. I don't think most of us have any idea how humans got here in the first place either...but we do have interesting theories about that too. Evolution is just one of them, and it happens to be the most popular one right now. It may yet be replaced by a more popular one. Wait and see. ;-)

In totally prosaic terms, I am here because my mother and father conceived me through a sexual act and I was born here. Was that what you meant? If so...(yawn)...yeah, I know that, but that's not what I have questions about.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 11:36 AM

So come on, give me *one* nice philosophical question that hasn't been answered by science. We *do* know "why" we're here - it just happened that way, nobody "intended" it to happen. I do understand people like Joe Offer who WISH there were a reason, but I don't get people who still think there HAS TO BE a reason.
Before the evolution of human intelligence, what was the meaning of life? And why would the evolution of human intelligence change that?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 11:42 AM

A far more interesting question, also very UNanswered, is "Why is "here" here?".



A

(Some wiseguy is going to answer by saying "Hear, hear!" I just know it.)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 12:54 PM

LOL! Because it is there?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 01:01 PM

LOL, Mrz!

The idea is actually quite germane.   The purely materialistic version of atheism has no answer, because the question comes from outside the box of its boundaries.

However there is plenty of play for spiritual atheism -- the belief in a very large population of spiritual beings, at play in the frame of limitation known as the physical universe, but not of it. "Here", under these conditions, could easily be an evolved average of illusion, for example, gradually subscribed to more and more adhesively, the way kids gradually agree to all kinds of rules and entities and forces that they dream up in a sandbox game.

The answer to why there is a "here" here then becomes, "because we said so".

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 01:03 PM

I haven't even had even one philosophical question EVER that's been answered by science. ;-) I've had other questions that have been answered by science (plenty of them), but not the philosophical ones.

Okay, Mrrzy, tell me then. From your scientific point of view. Why are we here?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,282RA
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 01:16 PM

The reason I won't call myself "spiritual" is because the word has no meaning.

Most Americans look at it from a Christianized viewpoint. To them, spirituality is synonymous with "transcendant morality." But I see no evidence that being "spiritual" makes you automatically moral much less transcendant.

You could be highly spiritual AND highly immoral.

I simply think there is level of reality we cannot perceive by our present experience except under certain extraordinary circumstances. I think there is some form of reincarnation but I have no idea how it really works or precisely what is reincarnated.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 01:25 PM

I would assume you would want a clear definition before you put a word to work for you. Otherwise, why, it could take its pay and then run off and mean just about anything. Why, anybody you like could come along and tell it what to mean, and it would set about meaning it!!

No, sir, prudent business practice requires a clear contract, where that word sigs up for the meaning you mean it to have. Then you know you're safe. And, you've got legal recourse if things go wrong between you.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 02:09 PM

Amos, that's exactly how I feel about the word 'spiritual'. 'Soul' is another word that lounges about getting in the way, eating more than its fair share of people's mental and emotional resources, and never really gets anything done.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 02:38 PM

Little Hawk, we did not become human *for a reason* - it just happened. That has been determined through genomics.

A more sensible question philosophical question in my mind could be, now that we ARE here, what should we do? And the answer to that is up to us to determine - it isn't handed down by some supernatural entity or force. Personally, I vote for "be kind and appreciate beauty" along with "don't neglect your responsibilities while pursuing your freedoms" or something like that.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 06:28 PM

Now, I am a lenient employer of words...I believe left to their own devices they will flourish and produce maximum productivity, mostly, unless you get unlucky and employ some of those lower-class words who are positively semiotically promiscuous.

But I have well-drawn limits, yo know, so they all know where the line in the cognosphere is drawn.

Soul means, very simply,   You   before you started trucking with identities.

Spiritual means relating to that.

Simple, and once you make things clear, why those little words go out and do their best for you.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 07:05 PM

"Little Hawk, we did not become human *for a reason* - it just happened. That has been determined through genomics."

It has most certainly not been determined. It has been suggested.

"A more sensible question philosophical question in my mind could be, now that we ARE here, what should we do? And the answer to that is up to us to determine - it isn't handed down by some supernatural entity or force. Personally, I vote for "be kind and appreciate beauty" along with "don't neglect your responsibilities while pursuing your freedoms" or something like that."

Sounds good to me. I'll go along with that.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 07:22 PM

The only purpose we can have that makes sense to me is to evolve an interesting destiny. That means a material destiny, a mental destiny, and yes, a spiritual destiny.

At present we seem, as a species, to have totallyy fucked up the first and third, and only managed to cvultivate a few small corners where the mental side seems to be making some sort of progress in spite of heavy counter efforts in other corners.

It wuld an interestin exercise, I think, to imagine an ideal scene physically for the whole planet including those living on it. Then, to envision an intellectual destiny worth pursuing--if we had the freedom to work out any problems, or intellectual frameworks, where should we go with that freedom?

And finally to figure out what a genuine spiritual destiny, uncluttered by arbitrary figments or authoritarian overlays, would be like.

Somewhere in the process would evolve the remedy for the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual causes of stupidity and neurosis.

I think this makes a very interesting road map, if it could ever build up a consensus.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Apr 07 - 09:25 PM

Suggested is like saying evolution is a theory. When all the data point in the same direction it isn't a suggestion any more.

I really think that having evolved the sensibilities we have, we have a duty to do sensible things, like appreciate beauty.

Ever read anything of the Navajo Way?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 12:37 PM

The most important branch of philosophy in my opinion is Ethics. Epistemology is sometimes useful too.

But most philosophical meandering is the gerbil on the treadmill.

Science does answer questions that need to be answered.

"Spiritual" is one of those vague words that have so many different interpretations that a point of discussion goes nowhere. Its intimation is that it is non-material therefore in a reality-based scientific context, it doesn't exist.

Einstein had something to say about Spinoza's "god" which was more pantheistic than the monotheistic dictator that many worship today. Carl Sagan made the point that most "gods" today are too small. I don't think you have to believe in any god or spirit to appreciate with wonder the macrocosmic or the microcosmic world and it has no bearing on how the human species ethically should conduct themselves.

Einstein made it very clear that he did not believe in a personal god. He thought that naive.

In my opinion, floating around on an imaginary cloud of "spirituality" will not make for a peaceful or better world.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 01:35 PM

Well, perhaps so, Frank. But an absence of all consideration of the spiritual side of things leaves you in a Camusian existential rut, sometimes. I think there is an inherent human need to plumb the mysteries of the viewpoint that is more than the body, that has a certain timelessness and meta-nature to it. If you don't like the word spiritual, which I can well understand given the amount of Victorian baggage it has been laden with, try some other word that describes where you go when your imagination catches fire.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 01:49 PM

I think there is an inherent human need to plumb the mysteries of the viewpoint that is more than the body, that has a certain timelessness and meta-nature to it. Wouldn't it make more sense to wonder if there *were* anything other than nature, that would be timeless and all that? I mean now, rather than back when we initially evolved intelligence and noticed nature for the first time? Remember, that initial noticing *brought with it* the (mis)understanding that everything that *was* noticed, happened through the directed action of *something* (whence was born our ancient belief that some supernatural direction of nature must exist).


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 02:25 PM

"Suggested is like saying evolution is a theory."

Correct. It is a theory. It may well be partially correct. It may well be partially in error. It may be largely in error. It may yet be succeeded by a more convincing scientific theory. There's been a lot of precedent for that sort of thing in the world of science, if you look at the past few hundred years. ;-) All you're doing is putting absolute faith in the present scientific orthodoxy...the way religious people put faith in religious orthodoxies.

"When all the data point in the same direction it isn't a suggestion any more."

When people are already inclined to only look in one direction, it's surprising how all the evidence seems to point that way. They find exactly what they go looking for. The same is true of people who think the Bible is the literal word of God. They think that all the evidence points in the same direction too...they direction THEY want it to. ;-)

You, like they, are an absolutist who thinks he knows THE ONE AND ONLY TRUTH, and that's all there is to it. You, like they, are probably quite wrong in that assumption.

I bet you that in a hundred years from now science will have greatly modified or even superseded the theory of evolution with a brand new one, and some self-important fellows like you will be quite sure that the new theory is "absolutely beyond question".

Why not admit that maybe you don't know for sure how human life developed on this planet, and that no one else does either? Would that hurt too much?

I admit that I don't know for sure, and it doesn't hurt a bit. I am not afraid to admit that I don't know. We have theories. We will continue to have theories. Lazy thinkers will continue to cling to those theories with the absolute faith of a religious fanatic. It has ever been so. People are deeply afraid to admit how little they know...so they just parrot stuff someone else, someone in authority, has told them with utter and absolute assurance. ("Daddy" must know best, right?)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 02:51 PM

There are fundemental errors in the above, Little Hawk, that surprise me in you, I wouldn't have thought you'd stoop to such silly semantic arguments, even should you run out of sensible ones.

The definition of theory is NOT something which isn't known for certain, for starters. It's the same thing as Model, or Framework, or "way of putting all existing data into a coherent sentence humans can understand." You see colors because of electromagnetic theory. Gravity (as in, the theory of gravity) is a fundemental fact, not something we aren't sure is happening. Plate tectonics is the theory which explains earthquakes and volcanoes. 2+2=4 is an element of mathematical theory. Again, all scientists are discussing is how the theories work, not whether they are true or not. All of these, including evolution, and well-established facts of nature. Using Theory with evolution but not with anything else that is physical fact, is a propagandic trick of the anti-reality part of the religious right and I am surprised by you using it.

"When all the data point in the same direction it isn't a suggestion any more."

When people are already inclined to only look in one direction, it's surprising how all the evidence seems to point that way. They find exactly what they go looking for. The same is true of people who think the Bible is the literal word of God. They think that all the evidence points in the same direction too...they direction THEY want it to. ;-) Again - this just as much misuse of the word Evidence as of the word Theory, above, and it is beneath you, I would have thought. You know perfectly well that there are no scientific data, actual physical evidence, empirical data, facts, that are better explained by invoking the supernanatural (whether the biblical explanation or other) rather than the natural<.b> laws explained by physics, chemistry, and psychology.

Fossils are not equally well explained by the Biblical account of the Flood than by the paleoscientists' theories.

Again, my conclusion that if there are supernatural forces they are not involved in nature is based on reason, and I am completely open to the idea that there may well BE supernatural forces/entities outside of nature, but I live in the natural world where there aren't any. I agree with you that it's a fun philosophical question, what is outside/beyond the time and space in which we do live, but there really is no need of that hypothesis within the natural world.
It may not be a Truth, but it's Reality, and I think it's time people learned to deal with it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 02:55 PM

No principle is absolutely beyond question, LH, and any scientist worth his salt will say so outright.

But when a sufficient amount of evidence accumulates to indicate something happened and little or no contrary or incompatible evidence survives, then in scientific terminology it is considered a fact. Even facts are not irreversible, but they have a very, very high order of probability of persisting as true. Gravitty -- the mutual attraction of masses -- is not a theory, and neither is evolution. In both cases the suppporting information is consistent enough to warrant considering them both "facts" That's just the way the word is used in science. A theory that attracts enough supporting data gets pormoted to fact-hood, and evolution has long since passed this test at the macro, micro and nano-levels.

If someday it turns out that the apparent mutual attraction of masses porportionate to the inverse of the distance between them, squared, turns out to have actually been caused by a transient belch from the innards of a cosmic-scale dragon who lives inside a black hole at the center of the Universe, and all the proofs line up around this new discovery, the fact will be re-worded to account for it.

Not much probability, though.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,282RA
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 03:14 PM

>>There are fundemental errors in the above, Little Hawk, that surprise me in you<<

Why? That's typical of him, if you ask me. He wants to turn science into another religion--no differently than a fundamentalist does--in order to promote some agenda he won't quite come out and cop to. He accuses you of some kind of dogmatism simply because you accept evolution for ther flimsiest of reasons: it fits what we have observed simply we built it out of what we have observed. How he calls this dogma is never explained--not by him at any rate.

Yet he has many times pronounced himself "spiritual" without ever offering any explanation or definition of the word. Yet it is you who are the blind believer and not him.

This has been his line since I've been here and yet somehow people here will vociferously defend him as a liberal thinker if you challenge him on it--as I have found out first hand.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 03:56 PM

Well, 282RA, if you don't understand what he means by spiritual, you are welcome to use the definitions I posted up thread to clarify the point. I think he'll allow them as close enough.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 05:49 PM

There is nothing so vain as the talking human brain.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 06:22 PM

282, you seem to be rather het up about something. Why not PM me about it? I prefer to be known neither as a liberal or a conservative, because they are both pretty useless labels...designed not to enlighten, but to condemn.

I do NOT regard science as a religion. I regard science's less self-aware and more vociferously close-minded aherents as being religious about science. Their attitude about it is religious. There's a difference. You can be religious about any damn thing you want to be religious about. My dog is religious about food... Food is not a religion. It's a material thing. Science is a material discipline based on observation of the material world, and using experimentation with and upon the material world. It works fine within its own perameters. I have no argument with science, and have never disbelieved IN science or the scientific method. I respect science entirely.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 06:31 PM

LH,

"I regard science's less self-aware and more vociferously close-minded aherents as being religious about science. Their attitude about it is religious."

If you are referring to non-belief then you are missing the whole point. You can't be religious about science because it is ever changing without fixed principles. In a religion, there are absolutes. Religious belief does not change with new information. Science is in constant motion and scientists do not approach it with religious awe. They know that today's theory might be obsolete with new information.

If you were to poll the top scientists in the country you would find that the majority of good ones are non-believers.
Einstein was one of them.

It is not close-minded to expect that absolute statements should be backed up by evidence.

Close-mindedness is a product of denying that new information exists. Non-believers do not do this. Most agnostics and atheists are open to new information when it is credible and not based on someone's untested "experience".

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 06:57 PM

No, I'm referring to their rock-like faith in the scientific status quo they take for granted. I am referring to the absolutely rigid adherence that so many science's followers give to the scientific view they take for granted at any one moment in history...as if it were gospel and the final word on the matter. It almost never is. If you study the history of science, you will see that the status quo has been overturned again and again by new scientific discoveries...yet at any moment along the chain most of the followers of the status quo insisted that anyone who questioned it was a raving loony....or a fool...or a charlatan.

Their insistence is similar to the blind faith in basic assumptions that is so often demonstrated by religious people.

They will not admit that they don't know for sure. Such an admission is more than they can handle, it seems.

As for "non-belief" in this or that...well there are times when it seems justifiable to me not to believe, and there are other times when it seems foolish or close-minded....but there are simply millions of different possibilities when it comes to that. It depends what the subject is.

There is a lot of stuff none of us believe in the present day. I doubt that anyone here believes the Earth is flat. Fine. There is other stuff we may differ on, for a variety of reasons. In regards to that other stuff...an open mind is more reasonable than a closed one. But an open mind has to admit that it doesn't know for sure.

That's where people won't bend. They inSIST that they know. Well, if they've had direct experience of something...then they know. If not, they don't, and they had best admit that they don't.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 21 Apr 07 - 11:07 PM

It isn't rocklike faith, it's an acceptance of the lack of opposing *data* (I'm giving up on html bolding after the above post...). There are no reproducible facts that supports anything supernatural, and the theories we've developed have so far explained all the facts of life.
No, we don't know yet *how* biochemical electrical patterns in the brain become what we experience as "thought" but now we got fMRI... I SO wish that had been around when I was in grad school! Anyway, we'll probably figure it out someday (no faith, see - hope, yes, but not faith), and I doubt it will involve anything other than physics and chemistry. See, we do know *that* consciousness in the mind comes from bioelectricity in the brain.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 12:04 AM

We won't figure it all out someday, Mrrzy, and we don't have all the answers now. We have some of the answers. There will always be further questions. There will always be stuff you cannot possibly duplicate in a lab...because it is not physical, measurable, or empirical...but it's still something that people really do experience. As such, there are many things science cannot and does not deal with. Those things fall in the realm of spirituality, philosophy, pschologhy art, ethics, and all such nebulous and extremely interesting subjects...without which we would not be fully human.

And they are the subjects I love. Always did. Science is great, but it doesn't talk to me about many of the things I most care about, and I don't expect it to. That's not the job of science.

I cannot live by science alone. If you can, fine with me.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 09:21 AM

"And they are the subjects I love. Always did. Science is great, but it doesn't talk to me about many of the things I most care about, and I don't expect it to. That's not the job of science."


          There seems to be a growing pool of academics who profess to be able to apply the "scientific method" to prove anything. All of the recent scientific developments feed their energy, and they seem to think, over time, anything can be explained.

          The problem they seem to have is, they start out with a concept they want to prove, and then take all the evidence that proves it, and discard anything that does not. In much the same way that the Bush administration proved the necessity of invading Iraq.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 10:10 AM

I think the ESSENCE of scientific method can be applied to naything, providing you recognize where the differences in application are required. Data is data, and it makes sense or it doesn't. ANd if you ain't got a datum, you create 'em. :)


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 10:28 AM

LH,


I know of no legitimate scientists that have a rock-like faith in anything. Faith is the opposite of scientific evidence. Again, I know of no legitimate scientist that has faith in any scientific view. The nature of science is always to test and question.

The history of science is that the biggest challenge to any science did not come from scientists but from religionists. This "blind faith" you talk about can't apply to the subject of science because science is not "blind faith" but a continual testing and questioning of hypotheses. Now when someone says that gravity can be repealed, there will be resistance on the part of those scientists who have done considerable study on the subject, testing it, questioning it and spending years of their lives on it. Then someone invents an airplane or a gas balloon. But the questioning goes on. There simply is no "blind faith" here.
Any respectable scientist will deal in relativity in that there are no complete answers, only verifiable tested conclusions.

As to non-belief, we are discussing theology or religion. I don't see it being foolish or close-minded to reject constructions that impact negatively on society, cause wars, create authoritarian hierarchies or simply talk about ephemeral or vague notions of spirit or metaphysical ramblings.

In science, there are no absolutes. The "blind faith" doesn't apply.

"Direct experience" of an individual to be accepted has to be tested for its grounding in reality. George W Bush has waged pre-emptive war on his divine "experience" in conversing with a god.

I think it's ok to hypothesize but testing it is way to prove it is real.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 11:34 AM

Hmmm...Frank, an admirable position, and clearly writ, too.

That last sentence is a doozy, though.

By "real", in this context, I assume you mean consistent with and measurable within the normal bounds of space and time, and repeatable in that framework so that any one repeaating the conditions will also get a repetitiion of the result as measured? That's good scientific protocol.

But when you start talking about the dynamics of thought itself, the continuum suddenly looks full of holes, and the core character of "real" versus "unreal" gets a lot mre nebulous. This is sometimes frustrating and grounds for washing your hands of the whole business because it is obviously imaginary.

But that is exactly the question. What are the laws, or at least patterns, behind the realm of imagination, intention, aspiration, and those non-tangible aspects of experience which seem to play so large a part in individual well-being?

The question also raises the issue of what is "legitimate", as you use the word, when applied to the unknown lands behind the ordinary material frame of operation?

Trying to reduce this entire spectrum of things down to purely functional and bio-mechanicaql elements does not seem to me to work very well. If these matters were understood there would be far more efficacious remedies, for example, for people like bitter young Cho of VT fame, because the workings (and restoration) of happiness and sanity would be accessible.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 01:10 PM

Hi Amos,

These are good questions you ask.

"But that is exactly the question. What are the laws, or at least patterns, behind the realm of imagination, intention, aspiration, and those non-tangible aspects of experience which seem to play so large a part in individual well-being?"

I agree that these are yet to be determined. But I think that if they emanate from the brain, there is to be biological explanation in the future. Dawkins mentions "memes" to describe some of the results of these "non-tangibles".

"The question also raises the issue of what is "legitimate", as you use the word, when applied to the unknown lands behind the ordinary material frame of operation?"

Science is the map by which we are guided into the unknown lands. The question becomes can we validate any "non-material" references without testing them?

"Trying to reduce this entire spectrum of things down to purely functional and bio-mechanicaql elements does not seem to me to work very well."

It works only as well as our understanding at the moment of what we can verify.
You can say reasonably that science, like democracy, doesn't work very well at times but better than any other method of operation including religion and metaphysics. Being unverifiable except for opinion or "experience", the latter don't work at all.

" If these matters were understood there would be far more efficacious remedies, for example, for people like bitter young Cho of VT fame, because the workings (and restoration) of happiness and sanity would be accessible."

It is my opinion that there are efficacious remedies but they are resisted precisely by those who hold to dogmatic creeds or pooh pooh the role of science. Psychology is an infant science and as we know more about it we see a progression of knowledge that is applicable to social engineering. Cho obviously could have used some help in this area.

I don't see that religion or abstract philosophy is particularly helpful here. I see that the US today has an environment that is conducive to this kind of malady. It is the cancer of violence that has been exemplified from the top down by our present government representatives in the White House. The reliance on religion is apparently not working at all at the State level.

"Faith" will not solve the problem of a Cho. It would be interesting to know the background of Cho. Was he religious? Chances are that he wasn't a freethinking,secular humanist.

As to the question of happiness or sanity, I don't think it requires any religious conviction or an injection of a vague "spirit" to acquire this. Most of the religious people I know are pretty much not that happy because they are guilt-wracked and concerned about their mortality. Many attend their churches out of a duty very much like Sysiphus's (sp?) rock pushing.

No science doesn't always work that well but when it does....................

Frank





A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 01:24 PM

There will always be stuff you cannot possibly duplicate in a lab...because it is not physical, measurable, or empirical...but it's still something that people really do experience. - if it can't be duplicated, and it isn't physical, measurable, or empirical, then it isn't data. People do all kinds of things inside their minds *which then become their experience* - doesn't make it any less a figment of their imagination.
Take the "voices" heard by schizophrenics and the odd manic-depressive - they are real *to the person experiencing them* but they are, nonetheless, figments of their imagination *in the real world*. If we didn't know what we do know from scientific exploration of brain and mind, we might think the people who hear the voice of god are actually hearing the voice of god.
Take the wonderful mystical experiences that lead "victims" of right-temporal lobe epilepsy to refuse treatment, as they'd rather have the wonderful mystical experience and fall down, drool and quiver, than not have the wonderful mystical experience and not fall down, drool nor quiver.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 01:29 PM

"But when you start talking about the dynamics of thought itself, the continuum suddenly looks full of holes, and the core character of "real" versus "unreal" gets a lot mre nebulous. This is sometimes frustrating and grounds for washing your hands of the whole business because it is obviously imaginary.

But that is exactly the question. What are the laws, or at least patterns, behind the realm of imagination, intention, aspiration, and those non-tangible aspects of experience which seem to play so large a part in individual well-being?
" Amos

But those are among the multitude of things that science is attempting to decipher, Amos, and I think it is likely that they will be gradually understood as research continues and tools improve.

I think the workings of the human mind are marvelous and complicated, but I don't see them as eternally inexplicable. Already, a great deal of the way people think, and why, is at least tentatively understood. Some of the newer neurological research is poised, I think, to cast a bright light on thought.

I think some people are afraid that if we can understand, on a physical level, thought, imagination, aspiration, etc., that we are somehow reduced to robots, but that's just not true. Understanding how nerve, muscle and blood function does not make an outstanding athlete less admirable, or less accomplished. Understanding how thought and creativity arise will not make a great thinker or talented writer less, either.

The brain is a marvellous organ, and its interdependency with the rest of the body is astounding, and the variety of human minds, imaginations, revelations, and relationships that stem from that juicy bit of meat are a wonder of the universe, IMO. But I don't think it's inexplicable forever.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 01:45 PM

Frank, you said "I know of no legitimate scientists that have a rock-like faith in anything."

Fine. I am not complaining about legitimate scientists! I am complaining about ordinary armchair idle computer key tappers from the general public who happen to be on this forum, who are not professional scientists, and who yet have an unfounded faith in the scientific status quo and seem to regard it as gospel, and think it explains everything. They are the ones who strike me as having a rock-like faith in their assumptions.

I don't know any legitimate scientists, and I doubt that I have heard from any yet on this forum. (I may have heard from one or two. Perhaps Wolfgang is a legitimate scientist.)

I am also talking about some people who may have have some unfortunate childhood experiences with organized religion, and have since set themselves on a course where they automatically attack and disparage anything mystical or "unusual" that they think might possibly have anything to do with something like religion, and they blame religion for most of the world's ills. As such, they are fanatics...they are as bad as religious fanatics, as deeply prejudiced and unreasonable, and they should get that monkey off their shoulders.


Mrrzy - "if it can't be duplicated, and it isn't physical, measurable, or empirical, then it isn't data."

Fine. I don't give a hoot if it isn't data! I don't care. There are a lot of things I am interested in that will probably never be data, and I am not trying to prove them to anyone.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 04:00 PM

Bee:

Pardon me if I don't jump onto the thought-from-meat bandwagon. Material science loves taking apart the sections of the brain and observing that doing so interrupts certain behavors, or watching various significance light up different parts of the brain. What these actually show is that the brain is an intermediary between thought and activity. What they would like to tell you it shows is that the brain is the source of thought and action. These are very, very different conclusions and the broader one is an assumption of faith that there will always be a material explanation for everything including consciousness.

Why so much faith should be placed in something as mindless and inert as molecules is a little biut beyond me, really. But ther eis such a glaring gap between all th eknown capabilities of brain-ware, and the known high-end capabilities of thought, that I think conflating them is just ...unthoughtful.. :D

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 04:08 PM

There are ways to measure and experience thoought. One way is to use various kinds of meterts to detect indirect effects. ANother is to carefully observe the individual. These aren't direct measurements. But if you're talking about individual thought, you won' find the core meanings comparable even when you take high-end MRI images and compare them, if I understand that subject correctly.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Crystal without a cookie
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 06:44 PM

Hi LH,
I'm not sure if I am quite a "legitamate scientist" yet, but I am a PhD student in my third year with an honours degree in molecular genetics (from the University of Dundee) studying Breast Cancer and Nutrition.
I'm not sure if I have faith in the scientific status quo (three stories about HRT being bad, then good, then bad in a year will do that). However I definatly do not believe in a god figure either, in a research group of 7 people only one guy has any sort of religous belief at all.
I wouldn't describe myself as an athiest though!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 11:47 PM

Little Hawk, you said above that "The same is true of people who think the Bible is the literal word of God. They think that all the evidence points in the same direction too...they direction THEY want it to. ;-) - but when it's pointed out to you that they *have no actual evidence...

But then you say you don't give a hoot if it's data or not (rubbing hands with glee and chortling)...

Resolution, please? Or as a Star Trek fan might exclaim, Norman, coordinate!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 22 Apr 07 - 11:52 PM

Oh, yeah, and I have many degrees, including a PhD in a science, and am eligible to teach several sciences and languages at the secondary and tertiary levels.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 02:31 AM

Mrrzy, I totally respect data and evidence wherever they can be brought to bear. They cannot be brought to bear in regards to certain spiritual matters which are of great interest to me, that's all.

I am in no way scorning empirical evidence where it can be found and where it is useful.

Please don't read silly things that I don't mean into what I am saying to you. I am no sillier than you. I grew up on the scientific, logical, rational, empirical view of life, and I fully believed that there was no God and no soul and nothing at all like that...probably for the same reasons that you do.

Congratulations on your degrees.

I would frankly rather talk to you about it in PMs, because other people jump in and the conversation gets pulled in some other direction and it gets all screwed up in the process.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 02:52 AM

Crystal, if you don't believe in a God figure, that's fine with me. I only believe absolutely in things that I have directly experienced myself, and I have not yet directly experienced any conscious encounter with "a God figure". Therefore, I have no final opinion about it, although I regard it as a bit unlikely. I think of "God" in much less anthropomorphic terms than would be implied by the phrase "a God figure". Again, congratulations on your scholastic accomplishments.


Oh, Mrrzy...what I meant about people who use the Bible as authority was this: They DO think the Bible is evidence. They think it is unquestionable evidence, because they have total confidence in every word it. I don't. Okay? I also don't have total confidence in the science community's present view of evolution (or a number of other things), and I regard it as a theory which may have a good deal of merit, but may also be partially or even largely in error. I have no final opinion about it. Okay?

I neither deny it nor do I totally accept it and take it for granted...which is what I see most modern people doing...just like their ancestors took for granted a lot of previous scientific (and/or religious) ideas which were later changed greatly or completely discarded.

I have a lower regard for most people's powers of objectivity than you do, perhaps....they are very quick to adopt whatever they have heard others say, whatever is the commonly held viewpoint...and from then on it is gospel to them, and they are inclined to ridicule anyone who doesn't step into line and agree with them. It is that rather common chauvinistic attitude of ridicule that I object to, not the difference of opinion itself. A respectful difference of opinion is not a problem.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 11:09 AM

But some opinions do not deserve respect. We don't tolerate racist or sexist or bigoted opinions, for example. Why not? Because they are harmful to society. Well, some argue that faith is harmful to society too, and for that reason deserves no more respect than other separationist views. Especially since those with the separationist views usually consider the opposing or inclusive view to be detrimental to society. Which is where I came in.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 12:27 PM

Wal, there's faith, and then there's faith.

I have faith that life will spring back when suppressed, up to a point, and that if allowed to, things will get better. Call it an optimistic extrapolation. I have no faith in specific entities said to exercise magic powers of much greater breadth and efficacy than the individual human can.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 12:59 PM

"But some opinions do not deserve respect."

REALLY???? And which Big Brother or Fuhrer or Grand High Inquisitor gets to decide which opinions those are?

And how would you feel if the force of their disrespect was brought down to bear on your opinions?

"We don't tolerate racist or sexist or bigoted opinions, for example."

Ach, NEIN! As a matter of fect, vee do not tolerate qvite a broad RRRange uff zees kind uff un-accEPTable opinions zat vee, in our visdom, haff decided ARE unaccEPTable! Ze list of zem grows daily, in order to make society safer for decent people.   Und vee haff vays of dealink viss people who are foolish enuff to express zem (ze bad opinions) in public. Ya! Zere is alvays ze ruination uff ze carreer und ze possibility uff legal achsuns und even imprisonment! Zo you bedder keep your bad, bad opinons strictly behind a closed set of lips, mein herr.

Chust buy our liddle official rule book. In it iss a list uff all ze opinions vich are not to be respected...or permitted. Vee haff vays to shut you up. Bedder believe it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 01:24 PM

Rather unfair, Little Hawk. It's a long way from not respecting an opinion that is racist, sexist, or just plain ignorant, and not allowing such opinions to be held at all. Also, one can respect an individual without respecting every opinion or belief they hold.

My grandmother believed that a dream about a red-haired man foretold a death in the family. Did the rest of us believe that, or respect her many superstitious ideas? No, we did not, but we respected her for her generousity, her hard work, her sense of humour and other good qualities.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 01:44 PM

Yes, BEE, but I am merely making a point by answering an unscrupulous and unfair stretching of a previous statement I made with a similarly unscrupulous and unfair stetching of Mrrzy's statement in response to it....

Tit for tat. Satire.

I find a certain dark humor in that.

You see, it is always possible to totally fuck with a reasonable argument by stretching the interpretation of it to an absolutely unreasonable position. Mrrzy did that to my argument when I said that any opinion deserves respect, so it seems only just that I return the favor by doing the same back to him.

To draw an analogy between opinions embodying "faith" (a tremendously broad general subject) and opinions that are bigotted, racist, and sexist is such an unscrupulous and manipulative stretch of hyperbole, that it amazes me that someone could have the gall to even do it, at least not without blushing while he did so... ;-)

What I clearly meant was this: Any opinion that is expressed in a respectful manner deserves to be responded to in a respectvul manner.

Opinions that are racist, sexist, and bigotted are, by definition...NOT respectful. Therefore we do not respect them. DUH!!! If I have an opinion, however, that people have souls (for example), or that we reincarnate (for another example), there is no disprespect intended or given to anyone when I express such opinions.

Mrrzy's response therefore was inappropriate, misleading, and unjustified. It showed no respect for what I had said. No desire to really listen in a fair fashion. It showed only a desire to score a debating point (in an unscrupulous manner). Therefore I did not respect it in return....as a demonstration of what had just been done to me.

Do you get that? If not, well I guess we'll probably both forget it in a week or two... Hopefully.

I wish I could forget how to log in to this place. Seriously.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 04:35 PM

Little Hawk, perhaps you misinterpreted Mrrzy's comment - I'll leave that to him.

However, you have several times inferred, by my interpretation that people who are materialists like myself, and who believe there is available a physical, rational explanation for everything (given enough time, knowledge, and research, even if the answer is hundreds of years away), are somehow lacking, are stunted in some mysterious manner. For example, this comes from one of your responses to Mrrzy, I think, but you include enough generalisations to point at myself and others: see bolded:

"You, like they, are an absolutist who thinks he knows THE ONE AND ONLY TRUTH, and that's all there is to it. You, like they, are probably quite wrong in that assumption.

I bet you that in a hundred years from now science will have greatly modified or even superseded the theory of evolution with a brand new one, and some self-important fellows like you will be quite sure that the new theory is "absolutely beyond question".

Why not admit that maybe you don't know for sure how human life developed on this planet, and that no one else does either? Would that hurt too much?

I admit that I don't know for sure, and it doesn't hurt a bit. I am not afraid to admit that I don't know. We have theories. We will continue to have theories. Lazy thinkers will continue to cling to those theories with the absolute faith of a religious fanatic. It has ever been so. People are deeply afraid to admit how little they know...so they just parrot stuff someone else, someone in authority, has told them with utter and absolute assurance. ("Daddy" must know best, right?)"
- Little Hawk

Some of us 'lazy thinkers' have spent a great deal of time researching these subjects, for the pure joy of learning. It is neither faith nor fanaticism that leads most of us to the conclusions we draw regarding, for instance, evolution, but study and reason.

However, I usually read those parts of your comments, when they seem a touch insulting, as a little heated hyperbole, and therefore don't let them bother me. Especially as there are plenty of issues on which we likely agree.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 05:26 PM

I did not infer it, I implied it... ;-)

But, yes, my remarks are, as you say, mostly a bit of heated hyperbole. Anyway, when I am complaining about people in the world who are dogmatic...and there are plenty of them, both religious and not...why would you have to assume that it is you I'm referring to?

But we probably all do things like that, and react defensively like that. I know I do, often as not.

Communicating with people over a keyboard is just not the best way to do it. We'd be better off discussing things in real 3-D life, so we could see facial expressions, hear tone of voice, and remember not to be totally rude to one another.

The Internet can be a not very nice place...and the trouble is, it's so damned easy! That's what sucks people in. They don't even have to get out of their chair. Like watching TV only you get to make your own input too...so it's even more addictive.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 05:32 PM

I suspect that Little Hawk would be the first to admit that when he rants about dogmatism in others, it is a projection of his own desire to be a lecturer in matters both philosophical and even dogmatic. Just a different dogma, chasing a different karma.

'Course the problem with a dogma that chases karmas is, what will he do when he catches one?


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 05:41 PM

I admit to most of the common human foibles. ;-) The only reason I express myself, Amos, is simply that I like to express myself. It makes me feel realer than sitting silently in a corner and never daring to speak, lest someone might disagree with me.

I suspect most others here feel the same. They like to speak their thoughts. Why else would they post?

I certainly am not here to convert anyone. I just want to express who and what I am. Period. Without fear. Everyone wants to express who and what they are, and be accepted as what they are.

I don't want to have a single "dogma". I want to be able to freely consider and discuss the merits of all interesting dogmas and to do so without fear. I want all dogmas to be given some calm consideration by people, some benefit of the doubt, not instantly rejected out of hand due to an established mental habit.

I want to see a world made richer by many ways of thinking, not dominated by one.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 06:20 PM

Huzzah, Little Hawk.

You know I love ya, doncha?

Lemme know if you catch that karma, though. Slippery little devils. :D


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: frogprince
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 06:40 PM

Dogma-gone it, you guys, now I have to make myself as new tee shirt one of these days:
"My Dogma got run over by somebody's Karma".


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 07:42 PM

Just for the record- and for the facilitation of communication, Little Hawk - unless I'm greatly mistaken, Mrrzy is not a him but a young woman who grew up in Africa; she has twin boys and lives in a southern state.

This statement of mine doesn't belong in this subject, I suppose, but whenever people heatedly claim certain things it pushes buttons of mine. So, here goes:

Mrrzy, it's kind of a long story but while I was 'living in' as an aide to a stroke-handicapped widower I slept in the bedroom that he and his wife had shared before her death 12 years before. Because of his crippled condition his family had built him a bedroom out of the attached garage.

One night in the king-size bed I was reading late when I became aware that a 'form' was across the room on the other side of the bed. "She", because it was unmistakably female, moved silently around the bed and then stopped at the foot of the bed, looking at me.

Knowing that they'd had a happy marriage I just smiled at her then turned off the light and went to sleep.

I did NOT tell either the widower or his girlfriend what I had "seen".

Time went on, the patient became better and I moved out but continued to return three times a week. In the meantime, his girlfriend's 16-year-old son moved in and he took the bedroom I had had.

One Monday morning when I rang the doorbell there was no answer. I knew that the patient and his girlfriend had gone to the Oregon coast for the weekend but they were supposed to return on Sunday evening. Rather miffed I took my leave.

That evening the girlfriend called me. She said that they were late in returning and her son was supposed to have let me in so I could wait for them.

The reason, she said, that the son was not in the house was because the previous night a woman had appeared to him in his bedroom and stared at him. It freaked him out so bad that he grabbed his clothes and left the house. He spent the rent of the night sleeping in his VW bug.

These experiences are most definitely not repeatable - but they are also most definitely true.

Ebbie/Elva Bontrager


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 08:04 PM

THe independent verification of the son's expeirence kinda puts it in an almost scientific light, even though no ghost with any self respect will start doing handsprings because a physicist wants a repeatable outcome. That's the problem with trying to capture life force in a bottle. It always slips out through the interstices -- the ones you ddn't even think were there. :D


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 09:51 PM

A respectful difference of opinion is not a problem.
What I clearly meant was this: Any opinion that is expressed in a respectful manner deserves to be responded to in a respectful manner.

Little Hawk, you're right, I misunderstood your usage of respect.
But when I say Don't deserve to be respected, mein herr, I didn't mean it would be up to any government to decide what not to respect. I meant for individuals.
But again, if someone is completely politely and courteously explaining why (fill in your ethnic group here) just isn't the same as (fill in the speaker's different ethnic group here), I again don't think I should just say Yes, I can see how that is reasonable, I just don't agree.
So I still don't agree with your point that people ought to respect others' opinions if they are courteously expressed. I think that thinking grownups have a responsibility to correct such misguided notions.
And I also think that the harm done by faith far outweighs the good, especially since all the good can be done withou faith, whereas most of the harm requires faith for its propagation.
I also think that after 9/11, most rationalists, if that is the term, think the same, but aren't brave enough to speak out.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 09:57 PM

There's many different kinds of stuff that gets folded under that label of faith, but I can only assume, knowing you to be a keenly analytical person, that you mean the sort which substitutes sme kind of blind acceptance, usually iconfied, as a substitute for reason. I think Joe will agree with me that this is not the only cognitive event-class that sometimes gets called "faith", however.

I think you will agree that there is a wide difference and a lot of bandwidth between the two extremes "I must accept datum X because it is part of my decreed faith and the Great So-and-So said it..." and "I have faith in the ability of the human mind to sort out the mystery of the human mind...". Just as a sort of off-the-cuff example.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 11:03 PM

To be religiously or mystically inclined does not necessarily require blind faith, Mrrzy...it just requires an interest in certain possibilties, that's all...a curiosity regarding certain aspects of life that are not physical or quantifiable, but nevertheless still affect many people. There are millions of things to have faith in, and only a few of them are religious matters.

I define the word "faith" less narrowly than you do, Mrrzy.

I was unaware you were a female...so thanks, Ebbie, for that info. I assumed Mrrzy was male for no particular reason.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 23 Apr 07 - 11:43 PM

Most males are, LH, at least until they reach a certain age...


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 09:17 AM

*sigh* but why have faith in *anything* when you can draw intelligent conclusions? Isn't thought preferable to acceptance without thought?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 09:44 AM

Because, perhaps, there are orders of knowing that are not what you would normaly describe as thought, using data.

Or because, perhaps, there is faith required in order to commit an act of creation and the certainty that one's acts of creation are good is, largely, an assumption taken on faith.

I am not at all in favor of blind faith about data, especially data that leads one into some sort of authoritarian construct. But I think there is as sort of high creative confidence that could well be called faith, a certainty about the flow of things in the absence of sufficient data.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 11:48 AM

"One night in the king-size bed I was reading late when I became aware that a 'form' was across the room on the other side of the bed. "She", because it was unmistakably female, moved silently around the bed and then stopped at the foot of the bed, looking at me.",/i> - Ebbie

Not doubting your experience, Ebbie (I've had a couple of 'ghostly' experiences, though I'm satisfied they weren't actual independent visitors), but could you give us some details about the appearance of the form, what it looked like (solid, transparent, shadowy?), how it moved (as a person walking, a floating object?) and as to 'looking', were you able to see a face, (features, eyes, mouth, hair?). Was it clothed, (could you describe clothing, shoes?), had it visible hands, did it move them normally as a walking person?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 12:22 PM

"Not doubting your experience, Ebbie (I've had a couple of 'ghostly' experiences, though I'm satisfied they weren't actual independent visitors), but could you give us some details about the appearance of the form, what it looked like (solid, transparent, shadowy?), how it moved (as a person walking, a floating object?) and as to 'looking', were you able to see a face, (features, eyes, mouth, hair?). Was it clothed, (could you describe clothing, shoes?), had it visible hands, did it move them normally as a walking person?"

Thanks for asking. What I "saw" was more a massed form than an articulated human form. More solid than a cloud (I hate to use the term "force field" but if pinned down that is how I might describe it), it moved (floated?) smoothly around the bed at the height of a walking person. I did not see a face or arms or even color. The question of whether the form was clothed wasn't pertinent.

I would say that I did not see it with my physical eyes so much as a sensing. (I should add, as a disclaimer, that it was not the first or only time I have 'seen' things.)

What the boy saw- and by the way, I didn't/don't know him - as recounted by his mother, was a thin, tall woman ("taller than you, Mom!) in a print dress of some sort. In other words, he saw the phenomenon with his physical eyes.

This is just one of a number of things on which I agree with Little Hawk. The things you yourself have seen, you know. This, however, is one of the few things I have seen that were independently corroborated.

(I could add here a thought that is rather disturbing to me: If I were to try to explain the presence and behavior of the 'ghostly being' I'd say that she was wondering where her husband was and who it was in her bed, that she was not aware that he was downstairs in the old garage. That implies a lack of knowledge of those 'on the other side' that is not how I prefer to think of them.)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 01:03 PM

Mrrzy - "but why have faith in *anything* when you can draw intelligent conclusions? Isn't thought preferable to acceptance without thought?"

Mrrzy, you are again totally misconstruing my meaning. The FIRST thing I do and always have done IS to draw intelligent conclusions (on the basis of direct observation and logical deduction and rational processes). That is the first thing that any reasonably sentient being does. It's basic to existence.

I do not accept anything without thought.

I begin to have faith in something or someone AFTER doing all of the the above. First I observe, I gather all the information I can, then I think about it all thoroughly, then I may move to a level which can be termed "having faith".


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 01:51 PM

AHA! Mrrzy, I see that you posted this on another thread:

"I used to be an adjunct at PVCC and was fired for coming out as an atheist."

Okay. That gives me some insight into why you may be so concerned with the specific issues you are raising on this thread, and why you have such a negative attitude toward the concept of "faith" (as you define it). I can hardly conceive of someone being fired from a teaching job for "coming out as an atheist". Where the heck do you live?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 02:34 PM

Thank you, Ebbie. I ask because it is always interesting to hear details.

"(I could add here a thought that is rather disturbing to me: If I were to try to explain the presence and behavior of the 'ghostly being' I'd say that she was wondering where her husband was and who it was in her bed, that she was not aware that he was downstairs in the old garage. That implies a lack of knowledge of those 'on the other side' that is not how I prefer to think of them.)" - Ebbie

I have a vague (very vague!) theory that ghost phenomena are not in any way sentient or aware, or even there. Many ghost stories seem to be old events replayed, as if recorded, and I suspect that is what they are, a kind of natural but rare 'recording' or perhaps a quick glimpse through time. Most of the time, people who see ghosts have no communication with them, which makes sense if there's no conscious creature present.

So perhaps what you 'saw' was an impression/recording of an event that happened many times over - a woman walking around the bed to join her husband -so there was no personality to wonder why things had changed. This image might continue to play in that spot long after the house is gone and trees have grown where the bed stood.

Obviously, I'm pretty convinced that there is no 'other side', but that doesn't mean I don't think there's a lot about the nature of time and matter and energy that we don't yet know.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 02:55 PM

That's an interesting theory, Bee. I've wondered about that possibility myself. Here are 2 family anecdotes I can offer.

My mother and I had the experience of seeing the ghost of a cat...one day after the cat died. He looked and acted much like usual, just walked out of some bushes and meowed at us, then turned around and walked back into the bushes. It was definitely the same cat. Even his distinct tone of voice was totally recognizable (he had a rather low and scratchy sounding meow...quite charateristic). My mother was just momentarily frozen on the spot, because she knew the cat had died and been buried the day before. I didn't. Then she said, "Look for him!" and we did look very thoroughly through the bushes, but no cat was to be found.

My mother insisted that my father dig up the grave, thinking maybe the cat had revived and dug his way out. My father very skeptically went out back and dug up the grave...and we watched...and voila! There was the dead body of the cat.

So we saw a cat's ghost, and it spoke to us. Interesting, eh?

My father later had an unexpected experience when he was confronted by his brother's ghost several months after the brother had died, and his brother spoke to him (asking him what was happening with the inheritance money to his children...my father being the executor of the will). It was a brief manifestation. My father didn't believe in the least in stuff like that....but he could not deny having had the experience when it happened. (and it made sense, knowing his brother)

I might add that my mother and father were atheistic humanists at the time both these events occurred. They had no explanation for the events other than...well, they did happen.

You don't deny your own personal experiences when they do happen...unless of course you are technically insane, I suppose, in which case you can deny anything if you want to. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 03:24 PM

Under the buckle on the bible belt, little hawk!
My dead dad visited both his eldest daughter, and his namesake grandchild, after his death. I don't disbelieve either occurrence - I just think the experience came from the heads of my sisters rather than From Beyond.
Also, LH, you say "The FIRST thing I do and always have done IS to draw intelligent conclusions...I begin to have faith in something or someone AFTER doing all of the the above. First I observe, I gather all the information I can, then I think about it all thoroughly, then I may move to a level which can be termed "having faith". - again - use the dictionary if you have to- if it's a rational conclusion then *it* *is* *not* *faith* and so I am not arguing against it.
But it wasn't my losing my teaching job (and another job, actually, I have lost 2 to coming out) that gets my goat - it's the way that religion has pervaded the American school system so that it's practically (I mean practically, not almost) impossible to raise freethinking children.
What I mind about the faith thing is people claiming to have rational reasons for their faith. Again, if it's a conclusion, it isn't faith. It bugs me especially that many people THINK they are drawing conclusion from evidence, when they aren't. They are instead concluding *from something that isn't evidence* --and so they are back to taking whatever it was, on faith. I don't mind people with faith admitting that there is no rational reason for their beliefs. I mind them claiming that there ARE rational reasons that are based on evidence, when no such actual evidence exists.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 03:40 PM

I concur completely with your distaste for people asserting that a reasoning process supports what is actually a clump of dogma painted green, Mrrz.

There is a gray area, of course, which arises in the frequent situation when an individual does not have enough data to do a rigorous deduction. He therefore has to induce, and estimate probabilities, based on a higher order of generalization or a higher principle of some kind. He has to guess where the final dots are going to be when he runs out of known dots to connect. The reasons for his doing so will always have some element of subjectivity in them. Trying to objectify the decisions supporting extrapolation of this kind (unless it is a purely mathematical graph extrapolation) leads you around and around in circles.

Another gray area is the inclination toward optimism and hope in predicting futures when there are too many variables to deduce precise outcomes. Or pessimism, for that matter.

Another gray area is when one is consciously creating data from whole cloth, which usually occurs in the arts rather than the sciences, I would hope. There's an element of faith in the forward projection of one's creative impulse that could be called faith-based.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 05:08 PM

Mrrzy - I am repelled by the kind of thoughtless religiosity you describe just as much as you are, and I always have been. I want no part of it. I do not ascribe the problem to "faith", however, I ascribe the problem to small-mindedness and chauvinism in people. People who have faith in positive concepts (such as respecting everyone, hurting no one, treating people in an equal fashion, respecting others' beliefs)...those people are no problem. People who have faith in negative concepts (such as condeming those of different belief, rejecting all ways other than their own, thinking their group is the only one that will "get to heaven" and God will punish the others, having NO respect for others' beliefs)....THOSE people are the problem in the world! It isn't faith itself that is the problem. It's faith in extremely bad, destructive ideas that is the problem.

I have faith, Mrrzy, in things and people I have confidence in...based directly on my past experience with those things and people. A faithless lover, Mrrzy, is one who betrays you (not one who doesn't believe in God). A faithless business partner is one who cheats you (not one who doesn't go to church). Faith is a concept that applies to far more in this life than religious beliefs. To have faith can also mean to have full confidence and trust in the goodness and reliability of someone or something...BASED DIRECTLY on your past experience with them and your expectations of their further behaviour.

Evidently, that kind of faith is not what you mean when you use the word "faith". You use it in only one very specific way. I don't. Do you have a partner? If so, do you have faith in your partner? And if you do, why would that have to have anything to do with religious beliefs?

My condolences on your experiences in the bible belt. If you were living almost anywhere in Canada, you could freely express your atheist views and not lose your job over it...unless, I guess, if you were working for a reigious school or something like that. There are a few such schools here. There is usually a Catholic schools, for example, in any larger community. I doubt that they would want a teacher who openly professed atheism...! (grin) But why would you go to work there in the first place if you weren't a practicing Catholic?

Why did you feel you wanted to make a point of it on your job, and officially "come out"? Did it occur to you that it might arouse confrontation? If so, were you ready to deal with that? Were you seeking to make a stand for freedom of thought? I assume so. I can't fault you for that if that was the case.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 07:51 PM

Positive concepts (such as respecting everyone, hurting no one, treating people in an equal fashion, respecting others' beliefs) aren't a matter for faith. Those are behaviors which can be chosen, principles, whatnot - but again, that's not faith. That's the golden rule. It doesn't take faith to make good moral choices. And I guess we're arguing about whether the golden rule applies to respecting beliefs you consider harmful...

My way of "coming out" has been that, whenever anybody mentions their religion, to mention my lack of it and then continue the conversation so the poor pole-axed shocked other person has some time to rrecover (and yes, there is a very strong reaction). For instance, when asked "can we get our kids together after church?" I might answer "We are atheists so anytime Sunday is fine with us. Would your kids like to stay to dinner, or should they be home earlier?"

Or, if it's someone I already know well (but not with strangers) I'd correct usages of Thank God that followed praise of humans. As in, the doctors saved his life, thank god, I might say I'm so glad, but I'd thank the doctors.

The problem as a teacher came up because I taught psychology, so the first few chapters deal with the evolution of the human mind... and I would not discuss non-evidence.

And if we're going to argue constructively (that's not an argument! Yes it is! - Monty Python reference) then let's agree on terms, and not use faith to mean anything other than belief in the absence of supporting evidence (which is highly akin to dogma's definition) and/or the continued belief in the presence of counter-evidence. Not being nice to people, not believing in something that's been demonstrated, just belief without evidence or in denial of the evidence that there is.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 08:38 PM

"the first few chapters deal with the evolution of the human mind... and I would not discuss non-evidence."

Please explain that. Look, if you are not willing to even discuss someone else's chosen beliefs or interests, why expect them to be willing to discuss yours? Respect has to go in both directions, Mrrzy, meaning this: They don't get to determine your agenda. Neither do you get to determine theirs. One might best be willing to discuss everything if one is going to discuss at all.

Positive aspects are absolutely a matter of faith...as are negative aspects. It's which ones you choose to base your faith on that is the vital matter. Hardcore Nazis (who were following a very mystical political religion with a holy book..."Mein Kampf") had FAITH that they were doing the right thing to beat up, arrest, and kill Jews. That belief was a belief in the rightness of deeply negative behaviour. Mother Teresa, who brought help to thousands and thousands of poor people, had faith in what she was doing too...and she was using more positive aspects.

My way of "coming out" has been that, whenever anybody mentions their religion, to mention my lack of it and then continue the conversation so the poor pole-axed shocked other person has some time to rrecover (and yes, there is a very strong reaction). For instance, when asked "can we get our kids together after church?" I might answer "We are atheists so anytime Sunday is fine with us. Would your kids like to stay to dinner, or should they be home earlier?"

Why? Why do you deliberately seek to confront people by emphasizing differences? When someone mentions their religion to me (whatever the heck their religion is) I don't inform that I am NOT of their religion...as if it mattered. I ask them some questions about it. I am curious to know what their ideas are. In this way I find out some more interesting stuff about humanity. I may mention some of my own ideas too, if they show any interest. If not, I let them be. If someone says to you "Can we get our kids together after church?", the sensible thing to do is say something like "Sure. That would be nice." THEIR kids are available after church, okay? If yours are available at that time of day also, and your kids get along with their kids...then WHAT is the problem???

You don't have to use every occasion to alert other people to the fact that "I'm not LIKE you." (with the strong implication in your statement that says "And boy, am I glad that I'm not like you..."

People don't like it when other people do that. It's not polite. Neither is it wise.

You don't have to pretend you are a churchgoer and compromise yourself in any way. You don't have to pointedly say you're not either, every time the opportunity arises, and to do so is to be unnecessarily confrontational. It's basically nobody's business whether you are religious or you aren't...and you don't have to tell them. Why should you tell them? You're not under some kind of obligation to.

I think that you are having trouble with religious folks mainly because your own defensive behaviour is setting you up for trouble with them. It's like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Regarding the word "faith". I define "religious faith" the way you define "faith". Religious faith is simply one among many types of faith. Does your dog have faith in you? I bet he does. ;-) (assuming you have a dog...) Do your kids have faith in you? I bet they do.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 09:06 PM

Say....I just had a GREAT idea, Mrrzy! Since it is clearly quite important for you to let all other people know where you stand, and that you don't believe what they believe, why not do this: Get one of those sandwich boards for advertising and wear it whenever you go out of the house. Have on one side in big letters: "I AM AN ATHEIST - AND PROUD OF IT"   Have on the other side: "THERE IS NO GOD" Walk around town. Let them ALL know.

This will really help you make it totally clear to everyone in your community exactly where you stand. ;-) It will be a blow in defence of truth, logic, and rationality. It may succeed in converting some of the poor deluded souls who are presently mired in religious idiocy to the real truth of life. Maybe you can even get a film crew to make a documentary about it and help raise more sympathy and support for atheism nationwide.

Go to it, girl! You may achieve fame. You may achieve martyrdom. Either way, at least you will be remembered, and that's more than a lot of people can say.


(Heh! You could do it in Canada, no problem, and people would just look at you kind of weird...and probably keep a little distance away in case you were dangerous. Unless it was dowtown Toronto. People there are too busy to even care or notice, and they've already seen everything anyway. You do it where you live....hmmmm...that would be interesting. I'd love to do a film about it.)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 09:58 PM

Look, if you are not willing to even discuss someone else's chosen beliefs or interests, why expect them to be willing to discuss yours? - It wasn't a discussion and I wasn't talking about beliefs - it was a science class and I was explaining the facts of life. I was the professor and it wasn't a religion class. If they wanted to argue scientifically, fine - and there were those who did. But waste class time on whether it contradicted somebody's holy book? Not a chance. Not with so much actual material to cover.

And I have a great T-shirt that says Friendly Neighborhood Atheist I wear frequently. I also have a Freedom From Religion pin I wear almost daily. I usually get favorable comments, or none.

And Little Hawk, if I read another sexist crack like that from you, I will lose all respect for you. Which nothing in your opinions has caused me to do.

The issue is not to tell people where *I* stand. It is to remind - or tell- people that there are people who don't believe in their gods and they (the people, not the gods, of course!) should remember that.
And again, if you insist on using the word faith to mean things other than what I'm discussing, after several clarifications, don't blame me when you feel misunderstood. I only mean what I've said I meant. I am not arguing about trust, or fidelity, or anything other than what I've stated - faith being the one-syllable term for "belief without or in contradiction to evidence." If you want to argue side-issues, fine, but they are as the French would say hors-sujet. You could write the greatest essay and get 0/20 if you were hors-sujet.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 10:10 PM

Why do I mention my non-religion casually when they mention theirs? Why in the world wouldn't I?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Donuel
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 10:28 PM

oooo do I detect a sarcasm tantrum lh?

My dad used to go to atheist meetings. Whats the big deal?

..........................................

When my neighbor directly across the street told me his family was being attacked he got my attention.
I asked When who how!
He said the queers gays and faggots are attacking evangelicals.
Inside part of me was relieved and part of me revulsed.

When I told him that I thought that preaching that kind of hate was the limit of ignorance and needless hate.

He simmered for 3 weeks until he invited me in his foyer one day, told me to stand in one spot and not move while he blocked the door with has hand on the knob while lecturing me on the need to attack tolerence - the true enemy of God.

I did not challenge his holding me captive but let him relax a bit and then took my leave.

Its sad that perfectly good neighbors are soured by something as stupid as a gospel of hate.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 10:38 PM

No big deal at all, Donuel. I have no problem with people being either atheist or religious. I have a problem with chauvinism on the part of either toward the other. I would prefer a multiplicity of views living in harmony rather than a battle to achieve supremacy of one view over all others.

I have PM'd Mrrzy regarding (some of) her concerns.

The internet is a sad, sad place, and getting sadder. I think people are losing their minds out there sometimes.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 10:55 PM

You know, Little Hawk, I regret having corrected you as to Mrrzy's sex. I've never thought of you as sexist - and still don't - but it's hard to imagine you would say 'You go to it, boy' or even, 'You go to it, young man'.

As I said, I don't think of you as sexist, but many men are, whether consciously so or not. Many a debate and argument has derailed because of it.

So, Mrrzy, I apologize.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 10:55 PM

Say, that's the first time in my 57-year lifetime I have ever been accused by anyone of being "sexist". Holy shit. Quite a surprise.

I have to remember, though, that it happened on the Internet and the Internet is like an opium dream in bedlam on a bad day. If I had any real self-control, I would disconnect my computer from it and get on with something a whole lot healthier than this.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 11:08 PM

Ebbie, have you not heard many, many women, including many women on this forum say "You go, girl!" to another woman as an encouragement? Is it intended to demean? They don't say, "You go, woman!" because it simply doesn't roll off the tongue as well.

You know me reasonably well by now, and I hope to God (or whatever.) that you realize I am not sexist. Fer Chrissake, I think women are on average more mature and responsible THAN most of their male counterparts. I have always thought so. I never went through that little boy thing where I thought girls were "icky" or had "cooties". I always respected them fully, and I admired them in a general sense more than I did males (not talking about sexual attraction type of admiration). The term "girl" is constantly used toward adult women in this society BY adult women as well as by men. More often by adult women, in fact (I guess they're not afraid of being taken the wrong way). The term "boy" is seldom used toward men by either gender, but sometimes it is in certain situations, and without offence. That depends on the situation, the tone of voice, the intent, etc.

This is just another example of the Internet setting people at each other's throats because it is such a lousy, indirect method of communication. It's one-sided isolation. That doesn't work well.

And why am I wasting my time hoping that my feeble efforts here can turn back the tide... (sigh)

Because it's an addiction, that's why. I need to either take a 12-step course to end my computer addiction or move somewhere where there is simply no Internet. Like the moon...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 11:19 PM

Little Hawk, don't blame the internet when you're caught with your pants down, metaphorically. It's a fair cop, whether you like it or not
But please, PLEASE, let's NOT digress into sexism. Both of you, and me too, take it outside.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 11:22 PM

Little Hawk, smooth your feathers. Your remark simply reminded me of the fact that many men give the opinions of women less weight than they do that of men. I love the Mudcat, but I have seen that phenomenon in action here many times.

Of *course* I'm familiar with 'you go, girl' but you used it right after deriding the discussion.

For the record, I agree with you that Mrrzy's method(s) are unnecessarily confrontational. For instance, I don't go to church, don't belong to a church, don't know of any church with a stance I could support. This is true even though I work as secretary for a church. When the subject comes up, I simply - breezily - say that No, I don't go to church. I have NEVER been given grief about it. I don't, as some people do, remark that "the roof would fall in on any church if I walked through the door". That gives the subject far more importance than I allow it.

I must add, hwoever, that the American west and the American north have a very different take on the role of church in people's lives.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Apr 07 - 11:24 PM

So, back to the thread.
Little Hawk, you say you have a problem with chauvinism on the part of either toward the other and prefer a multiplicity of views living in harmony rather than a battle to achieve supremacy of one view over all others - would you say that if they were teaching in the cities that believing in unicorns was as rational as believing in horses? I just want to classify all mythologies, including the various forms of monotheism and paganism popular today, asmythologies. The unicorn is a mythical beast, wrote James Thurber, and nobody said in school Oh, we can't teach that, it might not be respectful of some people's beliefs.
I know, I know... (*BG*) here I go taking things to extremes again...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 12:21 AM

What city says that about unicorns, Mrrzy? Please use a real example of something a city says, and I can respond to it. The example about unicorns is unnecessarily odd and extreme, as you said, because no one believes in unicorns...at least, no one that I have spoken to yet, and I have spoken to many, many people. ;-)

In a general sense, I will go in accord with a household that I visit...or a community that I visit, if I know its rules. If I am in a Muslim town, I will not do things which would offend them. If I am aware that someone doesn't want to be called by any particular label...I won't call him or her by that label. When I am in my own house, I will do as I would normally do...but when I'm visiting in another, I will shape my behaviour as merits that setting...if I know what is considered proper there. "When in Rome, do as the Romans do." This is a fairly good guide to human behaviour. There isn't one only right way of living. There are many right ways of living. Most of us agree that the more extreme choices (which might damage) are to be avoided.

I simply have a problem with chauvinism, as I said, and prefer the tolerance of many views. As such, I have studied most of the great religions, as well as having a good grounding in science, logic, and rationality, and I see no reason to draw battle lines between them.

One must remember in life that one can control oneself...and is wise to do so...but one surely will be disappointed again and again if one tries to control others...specially ALL others. I can't make everyone believe what I believe, and I don't wish to. It would make trouble for them, and the trouble would rebound on me.

There are no PERFECT answers. There are just better and worse approaches. I'd recommend a middle path between extremes.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 09:31 AM

When I tourist in moslem places, I wear a headscarf too. (Of course I wear hats anyway, but that's beside the point).
My example of unicorns was just an example - but to me, it is just plain silly to "respect" someone's belief in the supernatural - whether it be a unicorn or a deity. They are all myths. As various people have pointed out, nobody takes belief in Thor, or Ra, or Zeus, seriously. Why should belief in the monotheistic God of Abraham be any different?

In my city I run into things like, during Black History Month (now there's a racist concept), my kids coming home with literature that says This african civilization existed decades before the birth of Christ. Excuse me - Christ means the son of God, and is not a HISTORICAL figure. Even if they'd said the birth of Jesus I would have minded (but not so much) - why not say for millennia? Why relate it to Christianity at all - why not the birth of the Buddha, or Mohammed, when it's an historical date? Especially since I don't think that Egypt, for example, was only civilized "decades" before the Common Era.

Lessee - one of my kids is in the public school chorus - why are they singing Praise Jesus songs?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 09:45 AM

Mrrzy, you should consider immigrating to Canada. While I talk religion and atheism on the internet, the subject never comes up in real life, except for scads of people (including the religious) who've noted that they find Steven Harper's 'God bless Canada' rather creepy ('course, Stevie's a little creepy anyway). Certainly employers would never ask, and people do not talk about religion at work, nor do they ordinarily assume you go to church.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 10:06 AM

Mrrzy:

There is a wide spread convention of dating things as before and after the Christian era -- BC and AD (the string of years of our lord). It is a silly, superstitious convention, but certainly well-established in the vernacular. Its use as a point of reference does not mean the writer is covertly promoting CHristianity.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 10:48 AM

Yeah, you'd like Canada way better, Mrrzy. At least half the young people I grew up with here were atheists. Maybe more than half. Heck, I was an atheist then too. It's not at all unusual here, and it carries no stigma.

Look, you can't control other people in a society around you and make them as you would like them to be, so why be in combat with all this stuff? Why not just happily be what you are and ignore the stuff that you choose not to be?

(I do appreciate your concern about school pressure on your children, though....when I was about 6 my mother sent me off to the local Sunday school. We were atheists, but she is the kind of person who is quite insecure and deeply afraid that her neighbours might be offended if she doesn't do what everyone else is doing, and all the other kids were going to Sunday school, right? Heh! Well, I went, and I was shocked at the Bible stories they were telling, because it went totally against anything believable as far as I was concerned. I'd already read some scientific stuff, and I believed in evolution. So I went home and complained to my mother, "They're telling these incredible fairy tales about Bible stuff that can't possibly be real! I don't want to go there!" She never asked me to go there again.)

As for respecting other people's "myths"...well, yes, I think it would be wise to at least show outward respect for their myths in a general sense (depending on the situation). I do. That doesn't mean I subscribe to their myths, it just means that I respect their right to subscribe to those myths if they want to. If it makes them happy. I don't bother them about it.

If I cannot disprove a "myth", then I have no business hassling people about it.

And to them, it's not a myth. It's 100% real to them, and absolutely precious to them. So if you show lack of respect for what is sacred to them, they are definitely going to be disturbed and offended. And so would you be in their place.

If, on the other hand, you are teaching a science course...then I agree that (most) Bible stories are not appropriate for people to interject into the discussions there....they have no place in a science course.

I agree wholeheartedly that Black History Month is a racist concept. However, there are probably some people (black, white, or otherwise) who think it's a wonderfully progressive and terrific idea that helps black people. I can't change that. Neither can you. My reaction would be just not to pay any attention to it (shrug), and instead to focus on something I like.

Egypt, as you say, was civilized one hell of a long time before the Common Era. So was China. And India. The only reason our timelines are dated in reference to Jesus' birth is that a tremendously powerful Christian church arose in Rome and Byzantium. They were professing to represent Jesus' life and his teachings (A presumption on their part which I question!)...and that church dominated the culture and civilization out of which arose the European and English-speaking worlds...out of which North America as we know it now is an aftereffect.

So people are used to a calendar built around Jesus. It's a custom, a tradition. One that was put in place by the military and trade prowess of the European civilization over a period of a couple of thousand years. To try to alter that calendar habit now is to try to change the established mindset and unconsciously automatic habits of more than a billion people. Good luck. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 10:53 AM

I have to ask, LH -- do you talk like this in ordinary life? :D


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 11:02 AM

Do I talk like what? ;-) Give me an example.

Anyway, look, Amos, I've been wondering the same thing about you for years now...I've seen you come up with sentences that could choke a thesaurus and silence the Oracle of Delphi.

No, flipface! In real life I talk like Shane McBride. What did ya think, eh?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 11:09 AM

Shane who? Is he one of your flipping chimpanzees, you double-thumbed hoser? Sheeshe. Yeah, I talk like I write, but I write faster, because I don't have to smile and nod.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 11:23 AM

And to them, it's not a myth. It's 100% real to them, and absolutely precious to them. So if you show lack of respect for what is sacred to them, they are definitely going to be disturbed and offended. And so would you be in their place.
That is exactly what I argue against - it IS a myth, and if you can't accept that reality, move to a theocracy or take a time machine to the Dark Ages. The harm done far outweighs any benefits. Not to mention that if people don't respect MY beliefs, since they (my beliefs) aren't based in faith, we can argue about them quite intelligently. It's not like I never learn anything new from people.

And Little Hawk, you missed the point about dating from Christ's birth - Christ is a mythical figure, and only "existed" according to Christian myth. The jews and moslems believe in the same god, they just don't think Christ has been born yet. That is why I objected - it was OVERT Christianity masquarading as reality. I *did* say that had they said the birth of Jesus, it wouldn't have been so objectionable. That would have simply been in keeping with the BCE / CE calendar (which I rationalize using by thinking well, 1,500,002,007 rounds quite nicely to 2007).

I've considered emigrating to a lot of more reasonable places - France in particular- but I like living in America, I like Charlottesville, and I'd rather stay here and fight for my RIGHT to be an atheist, and to raise freethinking children.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 11:33 AM

(which I rationalize using by thinking well, 1,500,002,007 rounds quite nicely to 2007).

I've considered emigrating to a lot of more reasonable places - France in particular- but I like living in America, I like Charlottesville, and I'd rather stay here and fight for my RIGHT to be an atheist, and to raise freethinking children.



Applause on both points, Mrrz!! Even though I am contemplating France as a possible destination, it's not to avoid fighting for your right to be an atheist, a theist, a polytheist, an exo-theist or an endotheist.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 01:24 PM

L.H., just wanted to respond to one thing you said because I think it's important.
You said:
"And to them, it's not a myth. It's 100% real to them, and absolutely precious to them. So if you show lack of respect for what is sacred to them, they are definitely going to be disturbed and offended. And so would you be in their place."

I would argue that if they really believed in what they professed, they wouldn't allow any criticism to offend them. The same is true with most atheists I've met. They aren't offended by Christian attacks but they sort of laugh them off which I think is an appropriate reaction.

Bart Ehrman expresses the myth of Jesus in this way. No one was around to record anything of Jesus. Everything written about him was well after his death and much of it contradictory.

The Dead Sea Scrolls mention nothing about him. There is in fact no evidence that he ever existed. There is no written record available from the time that he was supposed to have lived that mentions him.

there is no point in going over this but it should be mentioned that certain assumptions are made that really need to be questioned. The existence of Jesus is one.

I recommend Bart Ehrman, professor of theology at NC, his books are informative.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 01:59 PM

Myths are usually based on something real. They arise out of something real and they soon get put into highly symbolic terms (probably so that the ordinary people in the street at the time can relate to them better).

Zeus, for instance, was a mythical figure who was symbolic of the planet Jupiter. As Jupiter is the largest planet, he was made "king of the gods". He was turned into a human-like figure because ordinary people in ancient Greece could probably relate to that a lot better than they could relate to a planet that is so far away that people can't really see it with the naked eye and realize what it is. They just see it as another "star". But the wise and learned men in Greece and ancient Egypt were well aware that the physical planets existed out there in space, and they named various of the "gods" after them...such as Mars, Jupiter (Zeus), Saturn, Venus, Mercury, Neptune, Pluto, etc...

Thus the "myth" that was adopted was a set of symbols, metaphors, and symbolic tales which arose out of some very observant people's awareness of something real. The symbolic tales were given to the common people.

The same is true in the case of Jesus and the entire Christian story...it arose out of something real, namely the preachings and activities of some Jewish prophet who eventually got crucified near Jerusalem. Evidently, his teachings were powerful enough that they stuck in the minds of some very motivated people at the time and they soon got turned into a new religion by those motivated people. You can disagree with the religion if you want to, but to say that the man the stories were based on never even existed is a leap of faith on your part that in my opinion equals the faith of the staunchest Bible thumper that ever walked or drew breath.

Religions don't arise out of nothing. They arise out of the lives and doings of very remarkable, charismatic individuals who had a huge effect on other people at the time when they were alive. Those other people then build a new religion around what they remember of the remarkable person who inspired them. The Bahai faith, for example, arose out of the teachings of Baha 'Ullah, a historical figure who was executed by the Islamic authorities in the 1800's. Same deal. You had to have the man Baha 'Ullah or it never would have happened. It's now a world religion. Without the man Jesus...the real, physical man, Christianity would never even have happened. I'm not saying he was "the Son of God", I'm just saying it wouldn't have happened had he never existed. Further religions will arise in the same fashion. It is still happening now. I mean RIGHT now. Some remarkable man or woman will give teachings, attract followers, and those followers will, after the death of that person, attempt to start another religion. If they fail to get very far with it then it will be known simply as "a cult", if it is known at all. If they succeed bigtime, however, it will soon be known officially as another religion. Live long enough, and you will see it happen. I guarantee it.

The same, I am sure, is true of Krishna, although Krishna lived in such an ancient time that we have no way of knowing much about those events now.

Why would you accept that Buddha was a real historical person, but not Jesus? Is it because you aren't engaged in a struggle against a surrounding society of Buddhists, but you are engaged in a struggle with Christians?

You are quite right that "the Christ" is a concept that can be seen (by many) to go beyond the man Jesus himself. Some religions feel that there have been a long series of "Christs", and that Buddha, Jesus, and Krishna were all incarnations of what can be termed "the Christ"...and further to that, that "the Christ Consciousness" is a quality that lies dormant in all human beings, waiting to awaken...therefore it is not limited to historical personages such as Jesus or Buddha.

That's what enlightenment is about: waking in yourself the Christ consciousness. You don't need to follow any particular religion in order to do that, nor do you have to believe any particular dogma or myth. You just have to totally still and then take control of your own mind...rather than letting it run wild like an untamed horse.

To start a calendar at any specific date (saying that "year 1" began on whatever...) is an arbitrary act that arise out of a cultural decision. The Japanese have their own unique ancient calendar. So do many other cultures. The Mayans had another one. So what? What difference does it make? It's all just been made up by someone.

Why do I talk about this stuff? Because I find it interesting. Period.


Strinsinger: I understand your points, but I think it very probable that Jesus the man did exist. I realize there is no confirming physical or Roman historical evidence. There is simply massive circumstantial evidence, namely, the religion that arose about him. You can't jumpstart a brand new religion on the basis of a nonexistent person. NO ONE would have cared enough at the time to bother doing so.

I've seen a number of small religious groups that coalesced around an inspiring teacher, and the pattern is always the same. First you have the actual person...their doings...their teachings...the unusual example that they set, which attracts others. Then you have the followers. The followers later build it into a religion. After the original person who inspired it dies, it tends to keep changing some. Eventually it may deviate far, far astray from what the original teacher ever intended...or it may stay quite close. Depends on a number of factors.

Some teachers, needless to say, have a better approach than others. Some are dangerous. Some are people of the highest and best character. One has to judge that for oneself.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 02:12 PM

This is off topic, but both Mrrzy and Little Hawk have said they think Black History Month is a racist idea. I can, just, see how it can be construed that way, but I'd like to toss in my experience, in Nova Scotia, with BHM.

I worked nearly thirty years with children, more than half of them Black, many from inter racial families. Black people in Nova Scotia have had a long tough history, with some very notable bright spots in terms of remarkable individuals and remarkable communities. Children watch a lot of television, and what they see in terms of famous Black people tends to be sports heros, rap artists, and a few movie stars. That's a limited array of role models, and it is a fact that children tend to admire famous people who look like them, or to whom they can relate in some obvious manner. Children are also accustomed to schools presenting information in time limited 'themes' (you can argue this is wrong, but this is what children get right now), so a 'theme' around the history of Black people doesn't seem awkward to them, and as one white kid matter of factly remarked "every month is white history month, we're always learning stuff about the ancient(sic) white people".

I have seen kids get really enthusiastic about Black History Month, and seen them learn a lot about Black Nova Scotians who were opera stars, doctors, war heros, politicians, womens' rights workers, seamen, engineers, inventors, civil servants, and more. I've seen them amazed that their history in this province is traceable way back, that people who lived here 200 years ago and were real pioneers, have the same last names as they do. I've listened to them talk about what they might like to do when they grow up, and for sure, having a little buzz every year about Black history seems to me to have the effect of broadening their horizons as well as increasing everybody's knowledge.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 02:18 PM

Yes, Bee, I thought that was how a lot of people would see it. That's why my reaction is not to oppose it in any way, but simply leave it to be enjoyed by those who find a good meaning in it...while I focus, instead, on something I like and believe in.

If everyone did that, we'd all be a lot happier, wouldn't we?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 02:27 PM

No doubt, but it pains me a little to see something that has proven in some small way good and useful dismissed out of hand. Perhaps you feel the same way about your spirituality, and you are an adult.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 02:59 PM

Yes, we all hate seeing something we really value dismissed out of hand. No doubt about that whatsoever. If children like something and value it, I would not be inclined to rain on their parade.

That goes for Black History Month, Bible stories, AND atheism. Whichever a child shows a natural liking for, that's fine with me. When I was a child I had a natural liking for dinosaurs, fossils, and stuff like that...which tended to lead strongly toward modern scientific views of the ancient past.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 03:07 PM

Bee, in light of your comments about the good effects you've seen from Black History Month in Nova Scotia...I withdraw my remark about it being a "racist" concept. I should not have been that judgemental. Sorry about that.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 03:23 PM

In its context, it is a good thing and has done much to raise the dignity of people who have had theirs stripped from them in many ways.

In the final analysis, I guess, it could be said to contribute in a way to the dichotomization which underlies prejudice.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 03:56 PM

Thanks, Little Hawk. I also view anything that appears to benefit children learning and becoming more self confident as having at least some merit. I imagine it also depends on how any subject (be it history, archaeology, biology or religion) is approached, and to what end. I suppose in some schools BHM is just a rote listing of events, in which case it might not be very useful.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 06:24 PM

Myths are usually based on something real. No, I think what you're thinking of is the legend, where a real person blows up into something mythicalesque. Myths are ways of explaining natural phenomena when you have no ken of the world beyond your senses but a burgeoning intelligence, as of a child who thinks that, because they have just realized that they are DOING things, conclude (it's called the personification fallacy, I think) all things that happen, are caused. Sounds familiar...

Also, the Romans actually kept very good written records, and we've uncovered tons of lists of executed and crucified people, and they never mentioned anything about anybody specially threatening...

Also, Christianity was a great invention for the Roman slaves - it made everything their masters did (that was forbidden to the slaves) into a SIN - gluttony, lust, homosexuality, all the stuff the Romans were big into - hey, it would have been totally popular if instead of resenting their lack of freedom they could feel all virtuous for their restraint!

What about the people who focus, instead, on something I like and believe in - some people like and believe in killing people who don't share their superstitions. So, no, I don't agree that If everyone did that, we'd all be a lot happier, wouldn't we. Islamic radicals have been slaughtering Americans wholesale overseas for decades, and recently here too. They've gone after infidels in the Pacific, the Far East, Europe. They're killing each other in the middle East and across North Africa. I'm not talking about the Crusades, here. I'm talking about current events. Christians are taking over medical decisions. The Supreme Court has actually ruled that the judicial branch has more say over a pregnancy than the medical profession.
As I keep saying, it's the harm, it's the harm. It is no longer reasonable to treat it as a viable alternative interpretation of reality. It just doesn't hold up to scrutiny and that fact should no longer be hushed out of "respect" for something that is fundementally silly anyway, no matter how precious it is to those of whom I speak, who do not accept reality.
I really feel that it is becoming the *duty* of freethinkers everywhere to stop pretending to respect silly statements of actual, adult, belief in the supernatural. Like the duty to vote. We can, and there are those who have died trying.
Little Hawk, have you ever been a parent? Whatever the child likes is fine with you? Ever read Lord of the Flies? It's the adults' job to make sure that children aren't allowed to follow their natural impulses. It's called civilization, or rearing, and yes, I'm being saracastic by now, but people who leave it up to the kids are seriously shirking their responsibility.
Although check out Deep Springs College, where the students do pick the curriculum and hire the faculty...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 07:32 PM

Jesus was no threat whatsoever to the Romans, Mrrzy. That is made quite clear in all the stories we have about him. He was a threat to the established Jewish church at the time, and they were the ones who wanted him dead. The Romans had no reason to be concerned about him or to take any particular note of his execution. There were many people being executed. He was just one more nobody, from the point of view of the Roman power structure.

Yes, I've read Lord of the Flies. It's a very dark book. It tells a story that might happen...or might not. It's a fictional story. Such stories are written for many different reasons.

No, I've not been a parent in this lifetime.

I believe it is best that parents give their children plenty of guidance and establish guidelines, but also take care to allow the children to voice their own likes and dislikes and take those strongly into account, and assist the child in finding constructive things to do that the child naturally has a liking for (and that means: providing those things are not harmful). Everything in life involves compromise.

I should not have to even state such simple and obvious things, but your standard arguing technique is to take any statement of mine and stretch it off to some horrible, negative extreme example to prove it must be wrong.

That is not a responsible or useful way of debating. Please stop doing it. If you cannot debate in anything but extremes, then we cannot discuss anthing in a fair or rational manner.

You're doing the old "straw man" thing on me over and over again...pretending that I am in favor of some very extreme thing which I am not in favor of at all. It would be convenient for you if I were that totally irrational...as to believe that even terrorists and murderers are covered under my wish that everyone should "do what they like"....but for Christ's (a cultural expression) sake!!!!   How could I be in favour of that???? How can you possibly read such an intention into my statement? Must I attach an itemized subscript to every statement, like a lawyer, which covers every possible exception which could occur and every possible extreme and abnormality that your mind can concoct to attack that statement?

I haven't the time to type that much verbiage and small print, and why should I?

It's un-fucking-believable. I speak in favour of tolerance and you think I want to tolerate terrorists and people who murder in the name of religion???????

I've been a freethinker all my life, Mrrzy. All my life. Ever since day 1.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 08:08 PM

Oh sure, they can VOICE them, absolutely. But the choice should not be theirs unless it's safe, which is why you offer children lots of choices.
Little Hawk, I'm not extreme. People *are* slaughtering people wholesale for believing in different mythologies.
I am not saying you are in favor of anything. eek gotta go conference call back ltr


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 08:10 PM

Shades of A.S. Neal and Summerhill!! Did anyone ever do a follow up on that experiment?


Mrzzy, I like your spark!!


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 25 Apr 07 - 08:41 PM

I once heard Edgar Friedenberg (education theorist) talk on Summerhill. I also audited, out of interest, a course he gave to education students back around 1971. He didn't have a lot of respect for them. I remember him intoning dryly "you people... could not pass... a basal metabolism test."

It was rather distressing to see some people writing it down in their notes, apparently thinking "Oh no! Another test!"


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 09:45 AM

LOL!! Bee, that is terribly funny. "What? There's a test? Which chapter is the basal metabolism in?" LOL!


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 12:05 PM

I did not know Edgar F. well, but had a few encounters with him in more social settings around the early seventies. I think he only began to relax after spending several years in Nova Scotia. He had a small, lovely ultra modern home outside of Halifax. Grant you I was a sheltered rural girl, but his home was the first place I ever saw a microwave oven, a steel fronted fridge, hundred-year-old eggs, and various other interesting and unusual edibles. I was there for a winter weekend once, and watched the snow pile up against his glass doors. It was a lovely spot.

I read several of his books before ending up working with kids, and they certainly influenced my methods. An interesting man, and often dryly funny in person, in my limited experience.

And I'm way off topic, sorry guys.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Apr 07 - 01:42 PM

Sorry about the bolding again - I really should stick to the little stars instead!
And Little Hawk, I find it odd that you call my arguments straw men when so many times you've argued about what I was not saying, like all the ways you use the word "faith" when I've already delineated what I was talking about...
But yes, you speak of tolerance for people's supernatural beliefs. I speak of not tolerating it any more because of the harm it does - and then I give an example of the harm, which is extreme. Not the example - the harm.
I am trying to convince people that some beliefs should no longer BE tolerated.
And one can't be a freethinker from day 1 - try from the age of 6 or so, hee hee!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: dianavan
Date: 04 May 07 - 06:04 AM

"...it arose out of something real, namely the preachings and activities of some Jewish prophet who eventually got crucified near Jerusalem." - LH

"Christianity was a great invention for the Roman slaves..."

You're both wrong. The Christ myth was around a long time before the Jews or the Romans. It is the myth of the dying and rising God of many ancient belief systems that coincided with seasonal cycles. Its older than agricultural societies and we know it also existed amongst wandering herdsmen and possibly before that.

Zoroastrianism may have arisen from a hunting and gathering stage. The ritual of jumping through the flames mimics the herding of animals between two fires to cleanse them of vermin when returning from pasture for winter. Its disputable but Judaism may have followed Zoraostrianism during the wandering herdsmen stage. Often the Christ figure(philosopher/warrior/king) was united with an Earth Goddess in a fertility belief system. This indicates that this belief system probably arose during the agricultural era. Any excuse for a festival or ritual to unite the tribe! Songs, stories and theater arose from the festivals as a form of entertainment.

Everything that came after was an attempt to control, through the power of the word (the book), various tribes of people throughout the world. Before there were Kings and Queens, etc. there were holy men, wizards, shamans etc. that actually were the most powerful people in any given tribe. The holy book made it possible to condense a belief system as a series of stories that were previously transmitted through oral language. It served to unite a great number of people by using a common belief system.

The questions that have been presented in this thread are the very same that humans have been asking since the beginning of time. What is it that makes the sun come up and go down. Why do seasons have cycles, etc. Why do the stars shine at night"

Who was the philosopher who said, "If you can conceive of God, God is born"? God began in the minds of men. The Goddess began in the minds of women.

I believe that babies are all-knowing beings and that growing is a process of forgetting. Does that make me an atheist or an agnostic?

I also believe that where science ends, faith begins.

Having said that, I actually believe that there is a good reason to teach children some of the stories in the Bible. Most of our literature is based on a basic understanding of references to the bible. If you don't know those stories, the literature is sometimes difficult to understand and very difficult to comprehend.

I, too, am disgusted when school children are forced to sing Christmas carols or when Christianity is presented as historical truth but maybe for different reasons. I think that its just plain boring for children who do not have the background knowlege.

Ex.- After returning from carolling with my predominately ESL class, I could see they had no idea what the singing was about. Next day I brought a little wooden nativity and got down on the carpet and started telling stories that explained the songs (I called Christ a great teacher). The English speaking students helped me with the story telling. It was very sweet and innocent but I was scared to death that a parent, a teacher or the principal would walk through the door. How would I explain myself? My students loved it and when we went carolling the next day, they gave me knowing smiles when they recognized a word. They were able to follow the story.

I'm not Christian. I just wanted the words to have some relevance for my students. If I had a choice, there would be no carolling in the halls but ... if it had to be, I was going to make the best of it.

That sort of sums up my relationship to Christ. Whether I believe it or not. He is definitely a presence in North America. I might as well be friends with him. He's not a bad guy but the Goddess has more relevence to me. I, too, would like to run up and down the aisles of a church proclaiming that it was all a big lie but thats psychotic and I'm not looking for trouble. (Be Here Now)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 May 07 - 09:47 AM

Dianavan, you can't call all rebirth myths "Christ" myths. The videa of Christ is the myth that the One God of Abraham will have/has had a son by a human mother - the idea that he was killed and rose again is the only part that was taken from the older rebirth myths. All temperate-climate religions have a rebirth myth - to explains the seasons to people who don't know they live on a tilted planet. Completely unnecessary now. But it's the other teachings of christianity (like the 7 deadly sins etc) that I was talking about when I said it was a perfect invention for slaves.

Your goddess, as with all mythological creatures, came from the minds of people. You can't seriously think that males invented monotheism with a male god and women invented monotheism with a female deity. The notion of the deity as female is much older than the idea of it being male, but women haven't been around longer than men (although Mitichondrial Eve is thousands of years older than y-chromosomal Adam, so...)

And there are lots of things that have definite presences in North America - like racism, anti-semitism, anti-Catholicism, mysogyny, homophobia - that is no excuse for putting up with them. And certainly no excuse for being friends with them. Thinking of mythology as reality as more dangerous to human society and enlightenment than the other nastiness I mention because it is supported by society. Racists pretty much have to pretend not to be racist nowadays, to succeed. I'd like to see faith in the supernatural relegated to the same shameful, beneath human dignity, box.

Of course children should learn the bible stories, just as they should learn the ancient greek myths - to provide cultural literacy. But they should be taught as mythology, not history.

Be here now, exactly! Not in some fairy-tale world where nature cares about humans more than other species, or can be petitioned by human voices.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 04 May 07 - 10:21 AM

"I also believe that where science ends, faith begins."


                That's probably true for folks who rely on faith, but science is always expanding so faith must be continually shrinking.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Wesley S
Date: 04 May 07 - 10:39 AM

"That's probably true for folks who rely on faith, but science is always expanding so faith must be continually shrinking."

Well that's pretty silly. Neither faith nor science are forced into little finite boxes. Both can expand exponentiality.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 04 May 07 - 11:38 AM

I would prefer to say that it is a gradient condition: the less hard data you have, the more you depend on extrapolation and interpreted probabilities to fill in the missing data. As data approaches zero, interpretation expands exponentially. As this occurs, the number of opportunities to diverge into an alternate reality not particularly connected with this one also increase.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: dianavan
Date: 04 May 07 - 03:05 PM

Thanks, Amos. Thats it exactly. Of course neither reason or faith are finite. As science expands, so too, do our unanswered questions.

Mrrzy - "The videa of Christ is the myth that the One God of Abraham will have/has had a son by a human mother..."

I disagree. What you say is true about Jesus the Christ but the idea of Christ was present before the story of Jesus. There have been many Christs (maybe annually) and there is reason to believe that sacrifice was the ritualization of the concept. What made Jesus so popular was the written word.

Yes, the idea of a female diety is much older than the male myth. I didn't say they were simultaneous. Matriarchy preceded patriarchy because women held the secrets of life in their bodies. Christianity tried to incorporate the mother Goddess (Mary) with the philosopher/warrior/king myth (patriarchy) of the Jews and other wandering tribesman. Call it the messiah or the Christ or whatever. The living/dying, philosopher/warrior/king is the Christ concept that preceded Jesus and arose from poety, song and myth. You can't take that away from anyone.

As to denying humanity the right to think creatively, I think you're asking a bit too much. If you expect people to live in a world of facts and figures (history) you are asking that they believe in another set of lies that are also subject to change as time goes on.

I, too, do not believe that humans are greater than other living beings or that you have a right to ask for more than what you already have. I do believe in love, inspiration and creativity: none of which can be explained by science or history. To ask others to believe what you believe is no different than what Evangelicals
try to do everyday.

Let me try again. Once you conceive of an idea, you are able to give birth to the idea in a variety of ways. Birth follows conception. Whether or not the life is allowed to flourish, depends upon a number of factors but the power of the word certainly helps to disseminate the idea - so do icons. Belief is a choice and when a number of people begin to believe the same thing, others can control the masses by controlling ritual.

As to living in Virginia, for the sake of your children, help them to incorporate the beliefs of others into your own belief system.    Most kids just want to be like everyone else. Children do not appreciate parents that force them to become strong individuals before their time. Thats your issue, not theirs.

We are all individuals and so we are entitled to believe what we choose to believe. Allow your children to explore and discover the wonderful world of storytelling and turn your energy inward to find a belief system of your own. Nobody lives by bread alone.

I'm not an atheist, in fact, I believe that even inanimate objects contain a spirit. I also believe in a Goddess because I am female. Do I believe in Abraham's God? No. But I do believe he existed for Abraham. Whatever you want to call it, you cannot deny that the idea of spirit exists in the minds of most people. Its called inspiration.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 May 07 - 05:04 PM

*sigh* Why on earth do people think I am against creativity, or that science can't address it?

We are absolutely not, as members of a society, entitled to choose what we believe. If people were entitled to choose what they believed, schooling would not be compulsory, and racism would not be discouraged. And if we were so entitled, then others in the society would be even more entitled -if not duty-bound- to tell us when what we believe is wrong or has been proven untrue.

The whole point of civilizing is to prevent people from believing stupid things that are bad for the civilization and to teach them smart things that are good for the society. It's also called rearing children.

And believing in mythology today, when there is no earthly reason to, is harmful to society and to its members, and should not be supported. It's the harm, people. It's the harm. I keep saying that but I keep reading arguments like If you have to deal with facts you stifle creativity. Puh-leeze. (Not just you, Dianavan, it keeps coming up. You just put it well *BG*.)

If you expect people to live in a world of facts and figures (history) you are asking that they believe in another set of lies that are also subject to change as time goes on. - excuse me? You are equating mythology with history and scientific knowledge? You have got to be kidding. Sure, history books are often written by the victors - but they aren't fairy tales. And look at American history books now - they aren't about how we inherited this land from a band of naked savages any more. We no longer allow that kind of slanted, pseudohistory (of course, in theocracies, that is exactly the kind of lies that get told - try checking out an Iranian "history" text) because we know better.

Well, we know better than to believe in fairy tales. (Or at least, we should.) And of course scientific knowledge changes - it's supposed to. That's how science advances. Just as history changes with greater knowledge of the present.

My kids have been taught all the common mythologies - norse, greek, hindu, egyptian, and monotheism (be it one god or one goddess). As a result, my kids actually think, rather than turning to authority for answers. They ask - but then they discuss, argue, and ask follow-up questions. They are great story tellers and they know the difference between a story and a fact. I wish I could say the same for all their schoolmates.

The last thing I would want is for my twins to incorporate any myths into their knowledge base, as if they were reality. And they argue theology with their friends - the ones who *think* stay their friends, and the unquestioning faithful don't, and that is fine with me too. Why would any intelligent person want to hang out with a sheep?

Being female has nothing to do with the particular deity in which you place your faith, and I think it surprisingly sexist of you to think it would. I know a lot of male Wiccans who would object to that characterization - and rightly so. Why not believe in your goddess because it makes sense to, instead? (Oops - that's right. It doesn't make sense, does it.)

And of course the God of Abraham, being mythological, didn't exist for Abraham. He (Abraham) may have thought it did, but that doesn't make it REAL. You actually believe that he believed in it, not that it *existed* for him - since you don't believe in it. Why aren't you willing to say so? Nobody here would be offended...

The idea of spirit in the sense of "more than /other than what we perceive" is quite alive and well in me, too. (I do not believe that inanimate objects perceive, nor that many other animals perceive their perceptions, which is what it takes to have Spirit in that sense. Maybe elephants, maybe dolphins - but not even the other great apes.) It just doesn't have anything to do with mythology. Inspiration is a mental process, and therefore is a brain process. It has nothing to do with mythology, any more than creativity does. It's a mental, human, ability. We evolved it, we can do it, and there are no gods or unicorns or leprechauns or goblins involved.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 04 May 07 - 05:30 PM

It is absolutely vital that individuals are allowed to select their own beliefs. There are always consequences to such selection, which is why engineers get paid better than peopel who write bad poetry or lead small religious cults. You takes your choices and chances. But the right to one's own sanity is a sovereign right. The notion that the space we seem to occupy is the absolute and common ruling domain of all belief is actually oppressive when it is enfiorced.

The whole point of civilization is not prevention of belief, but enabling the individual to choose them well, with discernment AND creativity, and perhaps even come up with new improved ones.

To enforce beliefs -- even ones that seem obvious to you -- is a slippery slope to hell. And also an unkind act. None of which gaqinsays the value of education on what epople have believed and why. But the choice must be left to the sovereign individual.




A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: dianavan
Date: 04 May 07 - 06:37 PM

"Being female has nothing to do with the particular deity in which you place your faith" - Mrrzy

For me it does. If a male wants to believe in a Goddess, thats his choice and vice versa. What I am saying that is that the Goddess was a product of a Matriarchal society and that what remains of her in our myths and stories are vestiges of what was once a widely held belief system. As time changes and others come into power, the belief systems generally change as well. Because I am female, I can relate to a female diety easier than an all powerful, male diety.

"You are equating mythology with history and scientific knowledge?" - Mrrzy

No, I am saying that mythology was an attempt by earlier people to make sense of the world in which they lived. In that way it is no different than history or scientific knowledge. Besides that, they are all subject to change. In fact, mythology seems to be more resistant to change than either history or science. At least vestiges of old beliefs remain in the stories of today. Do you still believe that Indians are savages or that matter exists? If so, you are still stuck in a previous system of beliefs.

"The last thing I would want is for my twins to incorporate any myths into their knowledge base, as if they were reality." - Mrzzy

Are you saying that you deny them their sense of wonder? Isn't it better to introduce all myths and religious ideas and allow them to choose their own belief system? Not all people believe in dogma but they can still incorporate the mythology in their knowlege base. I think what you are afraid of is dogma. Dogma is to me, very ignorant, but I certainly understand those that need authoritarian guidance.

Children who have to live in a world of adult facts, science and history are living in deprivation as far as I'm concerned. Our world is much more colourful and diverse than that. Most of all, we need tolerance. Teach your children to be tolerant and respect the beliefs of others. Who knows, some of it may rub off and they might, in fact, be better for it. The worst you can do is try to control your children and the world they live in. Let them live their own lives. Allow them open their minds and explore all of the possibilities.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 04 May 07 - 06:45 PM

"It is absolutely vital that individuals are allowed to select their own beliefs."


                And often, when they select beliefs that are obviously wrong, they become a threat to everybody on the face of the planet.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 04 May 07 - 07:56 PM

The error, though is not in the freedom to choose. "Obviously wrong" will prove itself in the marketplace of ideas. And there are safeguards against wrong action, and causing harm to others; but even if it were possible to put an electronic filter on someone's brain so he could only have "approved" beliefs, it would be deeply reprehensible to do so.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 04 May 07 - 08:51 PM

I am saying that mythology was an attempt by earlier people to make sense of the world in which they lived. In that way it is no different than history or scientific knowledge. Besides that, they are all subject to change. In fact, mythology seems to be more resistant to change than either history or science. - bingo - that is why it should now be discounted. Yes, before actual knowledge, we invented mythology. But now we have actual knowledge. It's time to give up mythology.

And why would freethinking children have any less of a sense of wonder? I *did* introduce all myths and religious ideas, AS myths and religious ideas. And as a parent, of course I don't allow them to choose their own belief system - I reared them, I did not let them grow up to be natural - they are civilized. They have manners. They make puns and tell jokes. And they are sensible atheists.

And mythology HAS been proven to be wrong. The marketplace of ideas, though, insists that saying that is disrespectful to those who insist on believing in SOME mythology, being monotheism, in the presence of counter-evidence, or in the absence of evidence, which is dogmatic by definition. I say, and many agree with me, that it's time to stop respecting something so obviously wrong, and start actually educating people.

I have said before - I have no objection to people who take faith on faith. What I mind is people deluded into believing that there is actual empirical evidence that supports their faith. And society supports that delusion, and I think it's too dangerous to allow any more. Take the idea that Bush is about to veto a law that would add homophobia to the list of hate crime motives, because that might interfere with religious bigotry.

It's the harm, it's the harm, it's the harm.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 04 May 07 - 08:56 PM

Mythology as such is not a harm. Mrzzy. In fact, it is a very rich and human way of communicating complex views and ideals. I am thinking of the wonderful legacy, for example, of the tales of the Norse gods, or the myths of Minerva, Zeus, and and Hera at play in the fields of immortality. The harms arrive when an individual makes the mistake of asking the myths into the real world, and using them as answers in the wrong domain, or substitutes for seeing and dealing with real factors. In their own domain, good myths are priceless.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: dianavan
Date: 05 May 07 - 03:26 AM

Mrrzy - I agree with most of what you say but I do not believe that we have the right to demand that others believe "actual knowledge", whatever that means. The only thing we know for sure is that which we know by experience. Most "actual knowledge" is second-hand information and even if its hard science its subject to change. The same goes for history.

In other words, Mrrzy, you do not have access to universal truth - nobody does. The only truth you know is what is true to you. As far as handing down your beliefs to your children, thats what all parents do (or should do). Thats why you have no right to tell others what they can or cannot believe. My dad used to say that the only freedom left was the freedom to raise your children as you see fit. That has since changed but still holds true for loving parents.

If, however, you want your children to be successful, they must also be socially successful. Twins are unique in that they have each other but most kids are on their own in the social world of school. For most that means learning to tolerate those who may not be as 'enlightened' and accepting that not everyone perceives the world in the same way.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 05 May 07 - 08:36 AM

"For most that means learning to tolerate those who may not be as 'enlightened' and accepting that not everyone perceives the world in the same way."


             Until they start flying airliners into buildings, aye what?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: frogprince
Date: 05 May 07 - 10:24 AM

A substantial part of the strictist "Christian" fundamentalist community insists that tolerance of any non-Christian belief is evil in itself, totally unnacceptable. We have posters here saying the same thing about tolerance of any and all religous belief.
The more of our population that migrates to either of these extreme polarities, the less chance we have of mantaining a livable society.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 May 07 - 10:35 AM

I'm noty talking about universal truth. I'm talking about facts versus myths.
And no, mythology isn't what is harmful; what is harmful is thinking that it's fact.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 05 May 07 - 10:55 AM

It is a VERY fine practice to sort out the data of time place and event from judgements about that data.

I think we have reached a singularity of concordance, Mrrz!!!


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 27 Jun 07 - 11:22 PM

BIG conference coming up - Dawkins and Dennett and Harris, O My!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 07:43 PM

"The End of Faith," this could be the start of something big!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 07:51 PM

"Until they start flying airliners into buildings, aye what?"

"Shock and Awe" provides a more effective way of killing large numbers of people.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Gza
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 09:01 PM

Longtime experience has shown that governments and developers of military technology are far better at killing large numbers of people than a few religious fanatics could ever be...whether or not they stoop to using religious notions to motivate their soldiers.

They all fall back on various mythology to justify their actions. It may or may not qualify as religious mythology. It may be cultural or political or racial mythology, with no basis in any religion. They all think that the facts support their viewpoint. This is easily done. You just find those facts that appear to offer you support and ignore or discount those that don't.

You give importance to facts that help you. You give no importance to facts that don't.

It's so easy and natural to do this that every fool has done it since the world began...including those fools whose particular hobby horse is belly-aching about the perniciousness of "religion" all the livelong day.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 10:14 PM

Did anyone but me see the debate between Christopher Hitchens and Al Sharpton on "Hardball" tonight? WHY can't intelligent, well-intentioned 'atheists' like Hitchens do a better job of combating some of the simplistic arguments of guys like Sharpton?...And why do guys like Hitchens have to be so obnoxious and sarcastic when they DO have a good point? You don't win many converts...ummm...points by insulting your target audience - even when they seem to deserve it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 10:38 PM

"...governments and developers of military technology are far better at killing large numbers of people than a few religious fanatics could ever be..."

             Governments and developers of military technology are usually supported by unthinking religious zealots.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 10:59 PM

Bill, right; I'm with you there. It's sad atheist folks like that can't be more respectful of seriously held points of view. --- As I am sure I've mentioned, religion and faith, for me, just seems to come down to wishful thinking. And the idea that there is no such thing as an atheist in a foxhole, just comes up when an up against the odds traumatized victim feels the need to cover his bets/butt----much like the deathbed conversion can be likened to desperate fear prompted last minute cramming for finals.

Art


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Gza
Date: 28 Jun 07 - 11:03 PM

Yes, and governments and developers of military technology are also usually supported by unthinking industrial, corporate, and political zealots of every kind too. ;-D Heh! Birds of a feather flock together, don't they?

Religion has been used by every unscrupulous government in history (except *** the officially atheistic unscrupulous ones, that is) to cover the real purposes of conquest which are: to take over someone else's land and steal valuable things that don't belong to you.

***The officially atheist unscrupulous governments I refer to would include most of the Communist regimes since the Russian Revolution, namely: the Bolshevikes under Lenin, the Stalinists, the Red Chinese, and the Khymer Rouge.....all of whom made much capital out of opposing religion on principle.) Of these, very few have equalled their record in causing the deaths of innocent people.

Unscrupulous governments can be just as dangerous when they oppose religion as when they espouse it. Two sides of the same ugly coin, in fact...the one is as bad as the other.

This seems to escape those who only want to see evil on one side of the coin. Why? Well, it doesn't suit their favorite argument, so they'd rather not focus on it. They don't find it emotionally satisfying to be even-handed in their criticism.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 08:31 AM

"Unscrupulous governments can be just as dangerous when they oppose religion as when they espouse it."

            It would seem to follow from that, that religion doesn't impact government in any way--good or bad. It could therefore be descrived as simply a useless appendage.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 11:12 AM

Ummm - does anybody want to go to the conference? It sounds absolutely fascinating... to me...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Kipp
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 11:34 AM

Religiondoes not efect government what about the American revelution the English civil war the American Civil War Religious values certainly had an efect of the people which had an efect on government. Both good and bad the list could go on and on civil rights laws against child labor.
Kipp


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Gza
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 01:32 PM

"It could therefore be descrived as simply a useless appendage."

In some cases, yes, Rinslinger. In others, no. It would all depend on which government you were talking about, and in which time period.

My point was that people find evil ways to justify their attacks on other people with or without the aid of religion, and have done so ever since Og clubbed Mog and dragged Mog's woman off.

Likewise, people have done many good and noble things both with and without the aid of religion too. And they continue to do so.

You can tell in which way people are prejudiced about it by which side they consistently attack, and which side they consistently blame for everything, as well as by which side's excesses they conveniently turn a blind eye to. If they are not unreasonably prejudiced, then they will see both good and evil in people's use of religion down through the ages, and therefore they will not condemn religion merely because it is not something they themselves subscribe to.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 01:42 PM

Still, if it has no value, why drag it along?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 01:56 PM

"...if it has no value, why drag it along?"

well, most of those who do the dragging wouldn't admit....or can't even comprehend the possibility of it having no value.

And, I submit that, whether true or false, religion DOES have some value as long as so many people seem to need a comforting 'answer' to the "why is there pain & suffering" and "why must we die?" questions.

I would be terribly afraid of the result if there were some way to suddenly 'prove' that religion is false....

Perhaps in a few thousand years, if we don't kill each other off fighting wars about God, we will come to terms with the universe as it is.....or *grin*...perhaps "God" will shout down some unambiguous instructions.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 02:27 PM

Bill D. - It doesn't look to me like we've got a few thousand years.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 02:38 PM

Yeah...I know. My 'if' was there on purpose.

Somehow Pete Seeger's "Waist Deep in the Big Muddy" keeps buzzing in my head.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 03:18 PM

Makes perfectly good sense to me!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Gza
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 03:22 PM

Everything has value, Rinslinger, to someone, and religion clearly has value to many people. If it doesn't to you...well, so what? You are free, as is anyone else, to choose what to value in your life, and you wouldn't like it if other people implied that you were a fool or an idiot for valuing whatever it is that you value, would you?

Religion can play anything from a major role to a minor role to no role at all in the conduct of a government. You could say that about a number of other things too, but to say it has nothing to do with either condemning or praising religion...as it can be used either well or badly.

You could say the same of anything else. All things can be used either well or badly. That's what makes it a subtle business assessing human behavior.

Since most people would rather not bother with subtleties, they prefer to just think in cardboard stereotypes and divide the world up into "good and evil". That is the thinking seen in both of the following cases:

1. The religious fanatic who condemns all people outside his own religion.

2. The anti-religious fanatic who condemns all religious people simply for being religious.

And I say that such fanatical, prejudiced people richly deserve each other. Pity they couldn't all move to some other planet and fight their wars over there instead of here.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 04:33 PM

Frankly, I think it would be more productive to develop a twelve-step program to help people to recover to their addiction to religion.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 06:07 PM

If you are interested in what atheism actually is, come to the conference. It's a great opportunity. There will be serious thinkers and writers there to speak their thoughts, and to have them discussed.
(ducking and running already so this is said kind of over my shoulder) It's a lot more fun to talk about the failings or strengths of individual atheists and religious individuals on and off this Forum, but atheism itself is worthy of exploration by virtue of its inherent reasonableness, no?)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 06:22 PM

Mrrzy - I guess I always figured that if you found yourself unable to swallow the whoppers generated by religion, you were just naturally an atheist by default.

             I'd have to think there was any organized structure to it, I'd have to find something else to call myself.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Gza
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 06:24 PM

Yeah, Rinslinger? Well, nothing's stopping you. Go out and start organizing such a program right now. ;-D You never know, this could be your ticket to your own personal five minutes of fame...

As for attending a conference on atheism, Mrrzy...(yawn)...naw, I don't think so. It would be almost as tiresome as attending a baptist revival meeting or a gathering of people whose favorite pastime is discussing their ant farm. For me, I mean. Maybe not for you. We all find different things fascinating.
    Please remember to use a consistent name when you post. Messages with the "from" space blank, risk being deleted.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 29 Jun 07 - 06:33 PM

Right. I meant people who were interested in atheism.

And Riginslnger, I figure if enough people use the word atheism for "no god beliefs" on a regular basis, it'll take the hoodoo off the word. You're right that if it were organized according to its beliefs then I'd agree, but this is more of an organized event about something that isn't organized in that way, than an organization of atheism or atheists.

(Waiting for the other shoe to drop)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 08:40 AM

"Well, nothing's stopping you. Go out and start organizing such a program right now. ;-D"

             D - I was hoping if I came up with the concept, somebody else would pick up the ball and run with it. Besides, I don't know what you'd do when you got to the part about "identifying a force stronger than yourself." What would that be, the Red Chinese Arm, Haliburton, the Mexican American Legal Defense Fund? I guess the list is endless.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 08:45 AM

"I figure if enough people use the word atheism for "no god beliefs" on a regular basis..."

    Mrrzy - I think you're on to something there. One of the things I find extremely irritating are religious types who continually try to make the case that "secular humanism" is a religion.
             They make the accusation, and then when you try to reason with them, they spout scripture at you. It's terribly frustrating. I've seen mules who are more articulate.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 04:06 PM

That's why I'm not calling it anything else, and I'm not trying to organize it, just raise awareness of its existence and normality. Remember, I live in Central Virginia where the assumption is of Xianity unless you're wearing Islamic dress (girls) or a yarmulke (boys).
I am reminded of "grenaiums (blue) and delphinium (red)" - anybody know that reference?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 05:58 PM

Anyone thinking they are going to 'convert' people out of religious belief makes me smile. It is not a new effort.

I just dug out the May 21 issue of 'The New Yorker'. It has a great article in it on atheism and the folks who have espoused it over the ages from Hitchens, Dennett, Dawkins and Harris (2007) to Bertrand Russell (1930)to David Hume (1779) to Voltaire (1759) back to Celsus (178 AD).

Quote from the article by author Anthony Gottlieb (curious coincidence of a name):

"In the second century it was Christians who were called 'atheists', because they failed to worship the accepted gods."

Who are your gods? *G*


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 09:55 PM

My metaphorical personifications are Mother Nature, Lady Luck, and Coyote, hee hee! The first two are deaf to human voices and the third is not on our side.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 10:30 PM

Matriarchal, eh? What role does Father play? *g*


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 10:50 PM

Peace, you said:

"I think you give atheists too much credit, Frank. I doubt they are any smarter on average than the general population from which they come."

I never said that. You have misinterpreted me.

What I think is this, there are different forms of intelligence. There is social intelligence, intellectual intelligence, musical intelligence, business intelligence, mechanical and scientific intelligence etc. "Smarter" indicates that you think I have identified a specific type of intelligence but I haven't.

On the other hand, atheists don't appear to be part of the general population. It's not that they are necessarilly more intelligent than others but they do have a unique perspective which is usually interpreted as some form of hostility. They are not always hostile to religion but as in my own case I don't really count religion as being important in my life except when I am attacked for not accepting it.

The problem with this whole discussion is about "labels". Dawkins refers to himself as a "spiritual atheist". Einstein's "god" was not a personal one and it's not clear how he defined it. Whenever the label "atheist" is mentioned, it's a hot button kind of like "terrorist" or "communist". Or "democrat" or "republican".

I try to get along with everyone whether they are religious or not. In defense of Dawkins, he clearly separates the belief system from his respect for that of the individual and this is what gives his position weight. He does not present "ad hominum" arguments. (BTW, this is a misued term. It means "to the man". The correct term is "contra hominum"...against the man.)

I don't care for the label "Bright". Here's where I part company from Dawkins and Dennett.
I have found that there are many forms of being bright and they don't come in one package.

I don't even like divisive terms to describe anyone. There are too many labels being used as weapons today and that's the problem with all the names that are bandied about.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 10:55 PM

i worship the apple gods of cider..


no i don't.. of course i don't..


that would be silly..



but i do believe next week won't bring in any more profound answers
than the week before..




but.. in the meantime..


the apple gods of cider are probably as good a religious basis
for denial of hard cold harsh reality
as most..


fall to your knees and grovel in worship
over the toilet bowl alter of truth..

expurge your demons and flush them away..

so sayeth the apple god of wretching bowel churning wrath..


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 11:03 PM

Great lyrics!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 30 Jun 07 - 11:15 PM

"In the second century it was Christians who were called 'atheists', because they failed to worship the accepted gods."

It was just a matter of luck that Mithras, as god of Ahura Mazda, didn't become the god of choice in Rome.....well, as matter of fact he did for many years. Constantine sorta tipped the scales in favor of Christianity.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 11:32 AM

"It was just a matter of luck that Mithras, as god of Ahura Mazda, didn't become the god of choice in Rome..."


            Good luck, or bad luck?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: JennyO
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 11:49 AM

Good luck! 400!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 11:54 AM

Jenny...for SHAME....just because *I* got #18,000 in MOAB!

"Good luck, or bad luck?"

I guess it depends on your viewpoint. I can't say I would have preferred Mithras to what I see around me, but there are days it's a toss-up.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: JennyO
Date: 01 Jul 07 - 11:57 AM

MWUHAHAHA! All's fair in love and Mudcat :-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 08:28 AM

On the other hand, atheists don't appear to be part of the general population. It's not that they are necessarilly more intelligent than others but they do have a unique perspective which is usually interpreted as some form of hostility.
Atheists ARE a part of the general population. If that were more clearly understood, then their perspective wouldn't BE interpreted as some form of hostility. That is EXACTLY the point.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 01:40 PM

Mrrzy your point is:

"Atheists ARE a part of the general population. If that were more clearly understood, then their perspective wouldn't BE interpreted as some form of hostility. That is EXACTLY the point."

The general population can be defined as being predominantly religious. If atheists were a part of the general population and not isolated by the religious then there would be no problem. Of course the problem is how do you define the "general population"? Is this the majority of people living in the US?

As long as religious people feel that their views are not being accepted by atheists, there will continue to be hostile reactions because they will feel attacked by those who don't agree with them.

Basically, the problem is one of intolerance for views that don't match your own.
I have no problem accepting the fact that religious people believe a certain way and I don't have to share their belief. But I don't think that the majority of Americans or perhaps any other countries are atheists. Therefore the general population as I understand it are religious.

I fervently wish that intolerance by religious people was not directed toward atheists but unfortunately this isn't the reality.

i believe in tolerance. If someone wants to believe something that doesn't hurt others or impinge upon their civil rights, then that's OK by me.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 01:44 PM

The most important thing about intolerance is that it feeds on anger. Religious anger can trigger a reaction from some atheists which is not necessary. If you don't believe, you don't believe. It should not provoke anger in anyone but unfortunately it does in some.

Non-belief doesn't even need a label. As Jonathan Miller has pointed out, you don't have to define a non-belief in witches or goblins.

To me this is the point about new "atheism". It doesn't need a label to exist.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 01:46 PM

"i believe in tolerance. If someone wants to believe something that doesn't hurt others or impinge upon their civil rights, then that's OK by me."


                  And we tax everybody else, so we ought to tax churches.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 02:38 PM

I don't agree with taxing churches, per se. The people who donated their money to their churches have already paid twice: not only have they been taxed on that money, they also are doing without it. Why should it be in the negative column a third time?

On the other hand, it seems to me that the businesses the churches engage in should be fully taxable: the rentals, the clinics, the restaurants, the concerts and the myriads of other enterprises.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 07:40 PM

The general population can be defined as being predominantly religious. If atheists were a part of the general population and not isolated by the religious then there would be no problem. Of course the problem is how do you define the "general population"? Is this the majority of people living in the US?
No, as everybo0dy in the world. Yes, more people are religious than not. My point is, the nonreligious are just as much people as anybody else.
And it isn't just the atheists who don't accept religious points of view, it's other religious points of view as well. And data don't support any of'm.
Someone once said, there is really only a very small difference between adherents to one religion and atheists; the former think all points of view but theirs are wrong, and the atheist just goes one point of view farther.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 07:54 PM

"I don't agree with taxing churches, per se. The people who donated their money to their churches have already paid twice: not only have they been taxed on that money, they also are doing without it."


             The same thing can be said about somebody who goes to a bar and gets plastered. He's taxed on the money he earned and he goes home without the money he spent in the bar. But then the bar has to turn around and pay taxes on the money they got from the customer.
             In view of the fact that bars and churches to basically the same things, why is it fair that the bar pays taxes and the church does not?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST, Ebbie
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 07:59 PM

Ha, I say. Notice I said that I think that churches should pay taxes on their revenue gathering?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 08:35 PM

It's been said that atheism is the application of Occam's Razor to agnosticism. Makes sense to me.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 02 Jul 07 - 11:59 PM

"Ha, I say. Notice I said that I think that churches should pay taxes on their revenue gathering?"


                   Okay! I would extend that to include property taxes and payroll taxes.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 03:03 AM

"Okay! I would extend that to include property taxes and payroll taxes." Riginsling

They most definitely do pay payroll taxes. I work for a church.

As for property taxes, perhaps the reasoning is that churches, et al, serve the community in somewhat the same way as the arts community, the governments and the state bodies.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 11:25 AM

"As for property taxes, perhaps the reasoning is that churches, et al, serve the community..."

    Actually, they make things worse for the community. Under the guise of "good deeds" they are actively trying to increase the size of their constituency, but in the end they encourage people to fly airplanes into buildings and support degenerative politicians like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 12:56 PM

" Under the guise of "good deeds" they are actively trying to increase the size of their constituency, ..."

Well, 'guise' is not exactly the word I'd use. There's no particular onus in making good deeds part of one's life. IF one does believe in the details of the Christian religion, doing good deeds is part of the manual....as is evangelism. If you do a search for the phrase "fishers of men" it will be obvious just how thoroughly the idea of recruiting is embedded in the history of the church and the practice of the religion.

Some sects do it with more...ummmm...'fervor' than others, including knocking on your door....others, perhaps recognizing the negative reactions to overt evangelism, stick mostly to setting a good example and hoping to attract followers that way..(along with 'educating' their children).

So here we have the dilemma...at least in the US. We have a constitution that allows 'freedom of religion', yet officially does not endorse any particular one...even though a Christian 'God' is stuck into the Pledge of Allegience, onto the money and into prayers at the beginning of meetings and sports events..etc.

We allow freedom of religion, and de facto favor one which exhorts its followers to "fish for men"...while telling folks they are not required to belong....just don't try to run for president UNLESS you belong, no matter how competent and smart you are or how many good deeds you do.

I do not know how to make the point that being religious or not should NOT be a matter of majority rule, and that "freedom OF religion" must include "freedom FROM religion" for those who wish it....This is America, and if there were only 27 Christians in the whole country, they should be allowed to practice and pray freely...and run for office if they wish. But if there were only 27 atheists, THEY should be left alone and not be subject to evangelism, and should be considered for office without regard to their religion of lack therof.
   Do I think any of these ideals are likely? HA! I am a pragmitist, and we tend no to be too optimistic about that kind of thing.

When you give freedom to a religion- one of whose core beliefs is that they are the 'correct' one, and should actively recruit others, you set up the awkward situation we have here.

The ONLY real answer is to convince 'believers' to adopt a personal policy of not pushing the issue, and hope the concept takes hold. Yelling at them and insulting them only hardens their conviction that you ...ummm...'need' saving.

I personally know devout Christians who do NOT attempt to change me...and thus, I am able to respect their practices, whether or not I agree with their beliefs of logic....and many of them DO a lot of good thru their churches.
If asked, I will explain why I am not religious...and if MY lifestyle and non-belief is challenged, I may explain without being asked.

We have to ,at a minimum, co-exist.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 01:54 PM

"Yelling at them and insulting them only hardens their conviction that you ...ummm...'need' saving."


             Bill - I suppose you're right about that. Maybe I got a little carried away.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 02:14 PM

I am totally against the added line in the pledge of allegiance. It wasn't put in until 1953, at the height of the Red Scare so I was well out of elementary school before it came along.

It should be taken out- I think the pledge alone is bad enough.

However, the line "one nation, under God", imo needn't be taken as referring to a "Christian God". I should think that most thinking people accept that Great Spirit, Yahweh and Allah all refer to one God.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Stringsinger
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 02:45 PM

"My point is, the nonreligious are just as much people as anybody else.
And it isn't just the atheists who don't accept religious points of view, it's other religious points of view as well. And data don't support any of'm.
Someone once said, there is really only a very small difference between adherents to one religion and atheists; the former think all points of view but theirs are wrong, and the atheist just goes one point of view farther."

When you start to use words like "right" and "wrong" you run the risk of intolerance. The question remains, that when you use these terms, the debate is open for judgement and criticism. As a non-believer, I don't think there's a right and a wrong here. I think the behavior is more to the point than the belief system. I can handle someone having a personal belief that doesn't concur with my own. When the behavior is such that the personal belief of the other attacks my own, then I think we can use such words as "right" and "wrong". (IE: it's wrong to attack someone elses views if they're not hurting anyone) I tend to take a relativist view of the subject. As long as your religion doesn't get in my way, you are welcome to it. I don't want to be lumped into the category of a freethinker who says others are wrong.

The non-believers are now in the minority. I hope that this will change. The general US population supports believers over non-believers and that is reflected in our political system. Atheists don't get elected. They are virtually second-class citizens. Bush would like to physically do away with them and he and his father have stated this.

"Right" and "wrong" as relativistic terms are benign and when applied as absolutes they become dangerous. The problem is that non-believers are usually not accepted as people by the "general population". This has to change. In the meantime, the Christian Dominionist Taliban is becoming more potent and those who are inclined toward religiousity often enable these extremists by going after atheists and freethinkers.

Ergo, atheists are not accepted as part of the "general population" by the general population.

The role of a "new atheism" in my view should be toward more tolerance and less anger although it's appropriate to protest when religious views are inflicted on young children who have not the capacity as of yet to make up their own minds or when my tax money goes to support "faith-based iniatives" that I disagree with totally. I also have the right to protest when the walls of Separation of Church and State are ignored and reviled. But these are positions of my ideology and don't reflect negatively on the beliefs of others who are rational and tolerant.

Frank


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,michaelr
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 03:23 PM

If evolution is outlawed, only outlaws will evolve.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 04:08 PM

lol


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Roughyed
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 04:25 PM

Ebbie, I probably shouldn't interfere in a US debate but God may well be interpreted as including 'Great Spirit, Yahweh and Allah' but that doesnt help followers of non-theist religions such as Buddhism and Taoism or indeed atheists and agnostics.

In England we have the oddly opposite situation where we have a head of state who is head of the established religion - i.e. Church of England - but where the majority of people have no real concept or knowledge of religion and there are no particular sanctions to being a declared atheist. In fact Blair is seen as a little wierd over here because he actually brings his 'religion' into his politics. It's been 'don't ask and we won't lie' for decades in England.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 04:33 PM

I agree, Roughyed, but of course I was speaking to the christian part of the phrase. I think we would all agree that it is religious, just not necessarily Christian.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Roughyed
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 05:15 PM

Yes indeed it is wider than just Christian, you are quite right and I respect all religions. As a friend of mine just put it 'It's not what you do within your church/temple/mosque, it's what you do outside that counts.

I still find it quite fascinating seeing the difference between the US and England when it comes to religion. We have a pop star over here called Cliff Richard who is overtly Christian but is considered a bit odd for saying so. I don't think he would have raised an eyebrow in the US (except for his lousy music!). It makes me feel very European!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 05:41 PM

I wonder...if we'd had a thousand years of religious wars over here, maybe we'd be a bit tired of it all and more suspicious of religious claims. As it is, some of our founders were pretty strong religious fundamentalists, and they still have serious influence here.

I can see that having Muslim fundamentalists as a growing issue in the UK, as well as other European countries, is a tricky issue to cope with. If religion has NOT been a major deal for decades, it seems to be now....even though it is not Christianity.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 05:57 PM

You know, Bill, that could go pretty far in explaining the difference between the nations' views. We are one step, or more, removed from the Crusades and the numbteen wars with their banner waving.

Otherwise, it does seem odd to me that there is such a great difference. It seems that in the UK and in Europe churches have become cathedrals on tourist display rather than places of worship.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 07:11 PM

I think what happened in America was, major capital players wanted to change the way things were done here, but they didn't have the political clout to pull it off. They discovered if they could just get the Christian community to go along with them, they could get things change, so they back Ronald Reagan--or groomed him, might be a better way to say it--and with the whakked out religious right, they were able to get the changes they wanted.
            The US and Europe started in different directions when Reagan came to power.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 07:34 PM

Yes, it's Robert Ingersoll, not Ralph.

Other good works:

"Why I Am Not a Christian" by Bertrand Russell.

"The Age of Reason" by Thomas Paine.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 03 Jul 07 - 07:45 PM

Tom Paine makes for interesting reading. Here's a quote from his book "The Age of Reason":

"As several of my colleagues and others of my fellow-citizens of France have given me the example of making their voluntary and individual profession of faith, I also will make mine; and I do this with all that sincerity and frankness with which the mind of man communicates with itself.

I believe in one God, and no more; and I hope for happiness beyond this life.

I believe in the equality of man; and I believe that religious duties consist in doing justice, loving mercy, and endeavoring to make our fellow-creatures happy.

But, lest it should be supposed that I believe in many other things in addition to these, I shall, in the progress of this work, declare the things I do not believe, and my reasons for not believing them.

I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church.

All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

I do not mean by this declaration to condemn those who believe otherwise; they have the same right to their belief as I have to mine. But it is necessary to the happiness of man, that he be mentally faithful to himself. Infidelity does not consist in believing, or in disbelieving; it consists in professing to believe what he does not believe."



Pretty good stuff. I find myself much in sympathy with Mr Paine. He is not at odds with God or with the concept of God...he is at odds with human duplicity and power seeking in all its nasty guises, and we find much human duplicity and power seeking in people's uses of organized religion.

I would echo his statement: "My own mind is my own church." Amen to that.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 09:11 AM

What is he talking about when he mentions the Turkish Church. Is that Islam, or were they some kind of Eastern Orthodox at that time?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 02:20 PM

I think he is probably referring to the Eastern Orthodox wing of Christianity, the Byzantine Church. I doubt that he would have given much thought to Islam, because the Islamic world would hardly have impinged on North American society at all at that point in history.

Anyway, I like how he words it. I feel much the same way as what he expresses. I have a certain mystical sense that my life is part of some greater spiritual existence all around me (and within me), but I have no interest in adopting any existing religious creed or being a part of some church hierarchy. Life itself is sacred, and I'm a part of life, as is everyone else. So to me, life = God. That doesn't mean that God is an individual, does it? It doesn't mean that God judges, condemns, or demands anything of anyone. It means that God is a totality of existence, and all that lives is part of that totality.

Belonging to no creed, I am a free thinker, as was Tom Paine.

You see, you don't have to not believe in "God" to be a free thinker. You just have to not believe in the established religious creeds and all the complex rules and restrictions that go with belonging to them. You have to trust your own judgement rather than someone else's. You have to trust your own mind, rather than letting a "holy" book or a Pope or a man in a robe make your decisions for you.

(And by the way, if you move that same argument into a political context, then to be a free thinker politically means....to be free of party affiliation. I have never belonged to any political party either. For the same basic reason. I wish to be free and independent in my thinking.)

Mind you, I'm always willing to listen to someone else's viewpoint....and then make my own decision according to my own best judgement. Other people's viewpoints can be quite useful, specially if their experience is greater than one's own.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 04:18 PM

"(And by the way, if you move that same argument into a political context, then to be a free thinker politically means....to be free of party affiliation."

            A agree completely with your message here, but in the US, a man without a party is virtually a man without a voice. Even the larger minor parties don't get much press. So in the political context, if you have to way to address and influence people, it doesn't seem like there would be much of a future for you.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 04:53 PM

Yeah. ;-) That's one of the really serious problems with the political situation in the USA. It's a phony 2-party monopoly, controlled by Big Money, and sustained by Big Media. A choice between those parties is not much of a choice at all. I think even a fair number of Americans are beginning to realize it.

I don't expect to see any good solution for it in my lifetime, but at least I can still remain free in my own being...by not believing the mythologies that the $ySStem would foist upon me.

This is the same in the political arena as it is in the religious arena. Don't let others do your thinking for you. Don't follow the herd as they march in lockstep toward the cliff, the corral or the slaughterhouse.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 07:09 PM

On the other hand, I keep seeing the talking heads on television telling the public that a third party has never been sucessul in America, but the last time I went to the polls I didn't see any Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, or Whigs on the ballot.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 08:11 PM

Kids in American society are brought up to believe that all you need to have real democracy is to arbitrarily divide a society up into 2 competitive political parties, trot out 2 sets of stuffed dummies at regular intervals, and pick the dummy of your choice. I remember how it was set up in our student council elections (when I was living in New York state)...a carbon copy of the 2-party system...and about equally stupid. We were being primed to go out as adults and naively vote for Republicans or Democrats.

What good does it do when the same huge vested corporate interests fund and own both those parties, as well as funding and owning the few huge media chains that dominate TV?

It's almost meaningless...although it is still true that one party's candidate may be somewhat preferable to the other party's candidate at any given moment (sigh).

But in the end it makes about as much difference as choosing between a liberal communist and a conservative communist candidate in the old Soviet system. The $ySStem still rules, regardless. Only the curtains get changed on the windows.

It's called "divide and conquer". If you can fool one half of the people into fighting with the other half over which set of curtains gets put on the windows, you've got them distracted enough that they won't notice what you're really up to, which is robbing them of their country.

The political infighting between different religious groups within Christianity or within Islam (Shiites and Sunnis) is similarly divisive, similarly pointless, and similarly effective in keeping their general public distracted and caught up in endlessly fighting with one another to their mutual detriment, instead of questioning the whole basic premise.

What needs to be done is to question the whole basic premise. It's a false premise. This is true of most organized religion and it's true of our mainstream political systems as well. It's also true of the economic systems we are presently accustomed to. We live on a planet that is drunk on its own mythologies...and not just the religious ones. There is mythology at every level.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 08:19 PM

I think it'd be pretty certain that when Tom Paine wrote about the Turkish church he'd have been referring to Islam, the religion of the mighty Ottoman Empire The Turks still loomed pretty large in European consciousness in Tom Paine's day, and remember Tom Paine was a European, not an American.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 08:41 PM

Hmm. Well, you may be right about that, McGrath. I guess some further reading of Tom Paine could probably clear it up. True enough, the Ottoman Empire was a powerful player at that time, and right up until the end of WWI.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 09:19 PM

"We live on a planet that is drunk on its own mythologies ...and..."

                     Yeah, I would agree. The current economic values are maybe as scary as the religious ones, if not more so.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 02:46 PM

Umm - to an earlier comment - why not call it "wrong" when it's demonstrably false, as are many myths?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 03:49 PM

I don't see any objection to calling a demonstrably false thing "wrong". But in regards to what, for example?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 04:31 PM

I prefer to point out the incongruities and inconsistencies in various religious claims and note that they cannot ALL be correct, and that therefore I choose not to accept ANY of them.....it is a mere side issue that I 'suspect' that none of them are correct about most claims.

It 'is' possible that some claim of some particular church **might** be correct, and I am aware that peer pressure, wishful thinking and history make it very hard for some to even consider doubting, so I tend to stick to pointing out bad logic and egregious behavior.

It is very hard to explain how a belief is 'demonstrably false' when that is usually reserved for syllogisms and laws of math & physics.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 04:43 PM

Yeah, that's what I was thinking too, Bill. How would one, for example, go about proving that a belief in the immortal soul is "demonstrably false". ;-)

I see no particular reason to accept ANY religious creed as being right about everything...but then, I wasn't raised in any religious creed, so why would I? When people are raised with a given set of ideas around them which are accepted by their family and community, they usually tend to take them for granted. That's natural.

American Indians, for example, took it for granted that there were powerful Nature Spirits of various kinds around them, and that one had to avoid offending them. How would one go about proving that their belief in those Nature Spirits was "demonstrably false"? One can believe something like that or not believe it, but there's no way of either proving or disproving it in any material fashion. It remains a matter of opinion, a matter of personal faith.

If such faith is useful to a people in guiding their lives, and it doesn't harm me, why would I go and tell them it's "wrong"? I don't, in point of fact, know that it is wrong, I just know it's different from what I believe.

The Christian missionaries made a point of telling the Indians that everything they believed was wrong! And the Indians didn't like that, specially since their approach to new religious ideas was usually open-minded curiosity rather than hostile rejection. This led to violent acts being committed against some of those Christian missionaries, and I'd have to say they probably had it coming. They were arrogant in the extreme in assuming that their way was "the only way".

I don't much like it when anyone insists that their way is "the only way". What business do they have doing other people's thinking for them?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 06:39 PM

The line was, When you start to use words like "right" and "wrong" you run the risk of intolerance. - but i have re-read what I was about to post, and it would not do justice to the tone of this discussion, so, kind of, never mind.

Suffice it to say that there is a lot of "respect" being paid to the teaching of mythology as science in this country, which does, actually and demonstrably, do harm.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 06:47 PM

Which is very different, indeed, from what you said before, Mrrzy.

I'm curious. Were your parents as wedded to the material as you? That's an actual question, by the way. I'm just wondering how a person gets to be as sure as you are.

Darn. It sounds like I'm calling you on something- and I'm not.

Eb


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 08:30 PM

My father was a man utterly wedded to the material...even when confronted with things that did not fit his viewpoint. He was a mechanical engineer with a Phd in Thermodynamics. He had no interest in things that cannot be materially proven and dealt with. Nonetheless, he reportedly saw men's souls leaving their bodies during combat situations in WWII. Did this stir any interest in him regarding possibilities of an afterlife? Goodness sakes, no! (grin) He said he figured that their souls, which he had clearly seen when they died right in front of him, probably just "dispersed and vanished after a few seconds".

He also saw and had a brief conversation with his dead brother a few months after the brother's death. The conversation made sense. It was regarding the brother's concern about his will and his children. Did this stir any interest in my father regarding the possiblity of an afterlife? No.

My father simply did not want to think about anything that isn't materially based in the here and now, no matter what he was confronted with. He had no intention of wasting any valuable time thinking about things he couldn't touch.

So he didn't. He passed away last year at age 82. I wonder if he found out anything new in the process...or did he just "disperse and vanish after a few seconds". We'll probably never know.

The mythology that is being taught in the USA that worries me the most is their political mythology.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bee
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 09:27 PM

"The mythology that is being taught in the USA that worries me the most is their political mythology. " - Little Hawk

I think I can agree with you on that, LH. Over the last few years I've read extensively on the larger American political forums, left and right, and there is an overwhelming amount of mythologising going on. I found it amazing how information was manipulated until it was impossible to tell what was actually true, what was a lie, or what was wishful thinking. Political figures on both sides are described as saints or demons, with as much religious fervour as the most passionate bible waving fundamentalist.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 09:32 PM

There is unfortunately no "demonstrably false" value in the individual viewpoint -- only in the commonly shared one which generates the space-time structure. Where individuals are concerned with their own perceptions, a different set of mechanics is in play, to a large degree.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 09:42 PM

Good man, Amos. ;-) Confuse 'em till they don't know whether they're up, down, or sideways! (I agree with you, by the way.)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 10:33 PM

"...there is a lot of "respect" being paid to the teaching of mythology as science in this country, which does, actually and demonstrably, do harm."

The thing is Mrrzy, most of those who disagree with your viewpoint are quite sincere and convinced that they are justified in their beliefs. Thus, when *I* 'pay respect', it is to the person, not the belief, per se. There is much in organized religion, some in general, but more in particular, that does little or no demonstrable harm. I have worked for many years to keep all this in perspective, and to clarify the point for 'believers', not just to those in the choir *I* preach to...*wry grin*.

Some aspects of organized religion, especially as practiced seem to me to indeed cross the line into harmful activity, and those should be watched and called to account. But, being ever the pragmitist, I see no win in screamimg at them, like Lucy Van Pelt in "Peanuts"..."Change your mind! Change your mind, I say!"...she walks away mumbling, "I wonder why it's so hard to get people to change their minds?"
I find it easier to lay out better ways of thinking and hope they eventually DO change their minds, feeling like it was their own idea.

   In the meantime, I staunchly resist attempts BY religion or religious cause supporters to gain any more control of me, my mind, my community, my country or my pocketbook.

**IF** they are gonna be around for awhile...and it sure does seem like it...we gotta find ways to coexist that are the least hassle to both camps....neither one will be totally happy, but maybe we can avoid all-out war.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 11:35 PM

What did I say that was different? Not feeling called on, just clarification please.
And I can back up my convictions with data - they aren't just "beliefs."
And it is exactly to avoid van-pelting them (great allusion, that!) that I just casually mention my atheism whenever their religion comes up in casual conversation. Then I go on with the conversation to ensure that it remains a casual mention. No one should feel pelted.
So on the one hand, I am for atheists coming out of the closet and not being afraid to call themselves what they are, out of misplaced respect for the god-fearing, or the believers of non-facts, or whatever your term de pr&eaiguf&eaigurence.
But on the other hand, I also think that the threat (in the sense of threat assessment) from religion by now so far outweighs any good that can't be accomplished without religion that it's time not to respect the outward manifestation of belief in the supernatural. What you believe in your core is your issue; if you talk about your mythology as if it were reality, uncloseted atheists everywhere would just laugh at how absurd and silly that is- which to me is the sensible, rational, normal response anyway.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 11:36 PM

That was supposed to be preference with accents aigus on the e's. é?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 11:53 PM

Hey, Bill, to paraphrase what you said...I staunchly resist attempts by ANYONE to gain any more control of me, my mind, my community, my country or my pocketbook. That would include all political groups, individuals, commercial groups, other special interest groups, and religious groups of the more aggressive type.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 03:51 PM

Little Hawk - what is education but the attempt to control the minds of young'uns? Isn't that what civilization is all about?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 03:59 PM

Is long as we emphasise the word "attempt."


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 04:30 PM

Too true, Mrzzy. That's why I, as a rather well-read young child, rejected the Bible stories told to me in my first Sunday School class as totally unrealistic, and refused to go back. It's also why I rejected the notion that a healthy democracy can be achieved by choosing between the Democrats and Republicans! Talk about a failed concept... ;-)

Two ridiculous sets of mythology, as far as I could see.

Look, there are very few people who are inclined to doubt or question the things they know are fact, based on direct observation...such as our knowledge of math, chemistry, physics, natural history, geography, geometry, etc...

We all agree on that stuff as long as we know about it, and most of us do know about it. I never had any trouble believing things for which there is known empirical evidence. Most people don't have any trouble believing things like that. They take such things for granted.

On top of that, however, people are usually interested in all sorts of non-material stuff for which empirical evidence is not necessarily available...and that's what they get into loggerheads with other people over. Their religious beliefs, romantic concepts, philosophy, political notions, cultural notions, gender role notions, racial notions, notions of "good taste" and "bad taste", notions of what's funny or entertaining or offensive...all these are subjective matters, open to individual interpretation.

You can't just nail down your whole life and avoid all those non-material things in order to achieve a sense of "certainty". Or can you? ;-) Well, I doubt it.

I know you're objecting to the primitive Christian fundamentalism which is foisted on a lot of kids where you are living. I get that. Okay. No problem. I don't like it any better than you do.

But I don't feel the least bit insecure about it where I live. There is no closet here that an atheist or agnostic has to come out of. It's not a stigma to be known as an atheist or agnostic around here...or to be known as religious either. It's not an issue...except in the minds of a few cranks who have a real big chip on their shoulder about it. Such people are not fun to be around.

As far as I can see, you're reacting to your local social situation, which is very different from the one I grew up in and am living in. So our way of reacting to this issue is different, because of that.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 06 Jul 07 - 10:00 PM

Education in its richest sense means a drawing out of the abilities. (e-ducere, Latin, to lead out). The control of a mind by an educator is not bad for the mind's owner, anymore than the control of an intersection by a traffic light is. A good educator demonstrates the necessary control and then returns control to the owner, in the process drawing out and clarifying the individual's own abilitiy to reason about a subject.

This is a world away from the authoritarian version of schooling, which is to shove data into a mind as though into some box, and grade it on its ability to spout out the same information.

The word control is over-burdened with baggage to the point where all control seems wicked or invasive. But good control, such as (for example) a doctor prescribing a full and effective course of antibiotics, is not harmful, when it is subscribed to freely.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 12:24 AM

Well said, Amos.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 07 Jul 07 - 10:48 PM

"But good control, such as (for example) a doctor prescribing a full and effective course of antibiotics, is not harmful, when it is subscribed to freely."

             I found it very dissapointing to discover that the people behind the latest boming scare in the UK were, in fact, doctors. Not only would one expect them to be men of science, but what happened to the oath--"do no harm?"


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Ebbie
Date: 08 Jul 07 - 02:41 PM

Those doctors' beliefs were not necessarily inculcated in the western world. I don't know how it is universally but I do know that an accredited doctor from another country does not have to take the entire study over again in order to be accredited here.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 08:25 AM

It seems as though they should have to demonstrate that they understand the science, which, one would think, would mediate any extreme religious beliefs. In addition to which, planting bombs would seem to work against the basic life purpose of a healer.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 04:43 PM

At mudcat thread: What scientists think about

From: JohnInKansas - PM
Date: 22 Jun 07 - 01:03 PM
Evolution, Religion and Free Will?

The post gives a brief description of an article appearing recently in American Scientist.

There is a link there for those who would like to see the full article. Charts and diagrams in the full article do make it much easier to understand.

The article addresses, within a limited area, just how "common" religious belief and non-belief may be within literate subcultures in the US, and may be of interest to those debating the "everybody believes in MY GOD" argument.

(If a few actual facts won't impede the discussion too much.)

John


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 06:18 PM

I could go along with the folks who think religion was part of the evolutionary process, but now that we've outgrown it, it's time to move on.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 06:53 PM

What about folks who have no problem at all with the theory of evolution, but see it as part of a spiritually functioning Universe? Many of the Eastern religions see it that way, because they believe that evolution occurs both in spirit and in the worlds of physicality. In other words: the soul evolves/the bodies of creatures evolve/their intelligence evolves...both when in the body and when in spirit. Natural evolution = spiritual evolution (as seen evidencing itself in Nature). As above, so below.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 07:25 PM

Religion wasn't what evolved - but faith certainly was. I'm with the Time to outgrow it faction.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 09 Jul 07 - 07:57 PM

Everything evolves. Animals, plants, political ideas, philosophical notions, relationships, philosophy, faith, religion, everything...

Or else it devolves. ;-)

"Evolution" is a word which refers to the observable process of change, and everything changes as time goes by, quite aside from the normal process of change we refer to as "aging".

Religious fundamentalists are the people who most vigorously resist the forces of change (evolution) in religion. As such, they are opposed to evolution both as a scientific concept AND as a religious process. This makes them a pain in the butt, to use the common vernacular.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 26 Jul 07 - 07:38 PM

Conference> completely sold out - before I, the avid fan, could get a ticket! Merde, alors! But at least people are going... Any of y'all? Can I be your date for anything? I dress up nice...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Sep 07 - 10:27 AM

Cross-reference to great thread on this topic.

Meanwhile, the conference is ongoing - will report back.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 18 Sep 07 - 10:46 AM

In the world of the commons we object to invasive forces backed by authority, such as having our houses searched without grounds, or seized by eminent domain, or having inoculations forced on our children, sometimes, or seeing someone buy the political pull to ruin the neighborhood with a high-rise. Enforcement backed by authority is not our preferred model of the social contract and we only fall back on it when criminal acts occur beyond the pale of ordinary management.

In spiritual matters the same condition runs true. No-one wants to be pressured, wheedled, or forced into beliefs he or she does not see clearly as his own. The tendency of the Christian right to do this, one way or another, is what makes them so unpopular. They needle, wheedle, or melodramatically demand agreement. They refuse discussion on issues of pure opinion or fantasy, asserting them as untouchable fact. They assert as objectively true things which when looked for are not found to exist. This is a maddening style of dialogue, and it is understandable that folks who value their own self-determined sanity would tend to erect shields or find means of evasion in the face of such assertions.

It may be an error, though, to go so far in the opposite direction as to subscribe entirely to the "existence as mechansim" school of thought, failing to confront the world of thought and spiritual phenomena squarely because it seems too imponderable, too ambiguous, or too volatile to measure and calculate on.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Sep 07 - 12:59 PM

Has that horse shown any life yet?




















Didn't think so...


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 18 Sep 07 - 01:15 PM

Actually is has. We're calling it a unicorn.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 02:09 PM

The key refutation of "pure materialism" in the sense that asserts reality is wholly measurable and knowable in material terms was estabslihed by Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason" several centuries ago.

The CSM has an axcellent article summarizing the impact of that refutation. It says, among other things:

"Kant erected a sturdy intellectual bulwark against atheism that hasn't been breached since. His defense doesn't draw on sacred texts or any other sources of authority to which people of faith might naturally and rightfully turn when confronted with atheist arguments. Instead, it relies on the only framework that today's atheist proselytizers say is valid: reason. The Fallacy of the Enlightenment is the glib assumption that there is only one limit to what human beings can know – reality itself. This view says we can find out more and more until eventually there is nothing more to discover. It holds that human reason and science can, in principle, unmask the whole of reality.

In his 1781 "Critique of Pure Reason," Kant showed that this premise is false. In fact, he argued, there is a much greater limit to what human beings can know. Kant showed that human knowledge is constrained not merely by the unlimited magnitude of reality but also by a limited sensory apparatus of perception.

Consider a tape recorder. It captures only one mode of reality, namely sound. Thus all aspects of reality that cannot be captured in sound are beyond its reach. The same, Kant would argue, is true of human beings. The only way we apprehend empirical reality is through our five senses. But why should we believe, Kant asked, that this five-mode instrument is sufficient? What makes us think that there is no reality that lies beyond sensory perception?

Moreover, the reality we apprehend is not reality in itself. It is merely our experience or "take" on it. Kant's startling claim is that we have no basis for assuming that a material perception of reality ever resembles reality itself. I can tell if my daughter's drawing of her teacher looks like the teacher by placing the portrait alongside the person. With my eyes, I compare the copy with the original. Kant points out, however, that comparing our experience of reality to reality itself is impossible. We have representations only, never the originals. So we have no basis for presuming that the two are even comparable. When we equate experience and reality, we are making an unjustified leap.

It is essential to recognize that Kant isn't diminishing the importance of experience. It is entirely rational for us to use science and reason to discover the operating principles of the world of experience. This world, however, is not the only one there is. Kant contended that while science and reason apply to the world of sensory phenomena, of things as they are experienced by us, science and reason cannot penetrate what Kant termed the noumena – things as they are in themselves. "

Of interest to those who cared about this ancient, sturdy horse.


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 02:26 PM

And they named him that because he Can't fig'er out nothin'?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 03:49 PM

Here's another new thing about atheism: it has been discovered that 99 out of 100 pipe wrenches are extremely sceptical about the existence of "soft-life", that being biological forms of life that are not made out of metal and which have a limited lifespan of less than, say 500 years under rusty conditions. The general consensus in the pipe wrench community is that "soft-life" is a myth promulgated by New Age wrenches who have tightened way too many left hand threads and lost their grip long ago.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 04:51 PM

Sigh...

Rigin, do you have anything more discerning to offer?

Little Hawk, is a retreat into obsessive creativity your only response?


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 05:09 PM

No, Amos. ;-) I also sit in the corner, suck my thumb, hum pointless little ditties, and draw rude pictures on the wall of you engaging in acts of fornication with farm animals. I recommend these practices for reducing tension and increasing longevity.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Jeri
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 05:28 PM

"...engaging in acts of fornication with farm animals. I recommend these practices for reducing tension and increasing longevity."

There are some things about your lifestyle you'd be better off not sharing!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 06:06 PM

Well, yes, Jeri, but I only do it because I know I am among a supportive community of like minds here, friends and comrades, people who can be trusted to never do or say anything hurtful or take advantage of another's weaknesses... (smile)

Besides, I was recommending drawing the pictures of Amos doing the fornicating with farm animals, not recommending actually doing the fornicating with farm animals oneself! Indeed, too much fornication with the "wrong" farm animals can have really quite horrendous results upon the mentality and the constitution as time goes by, and I think if you want evidence of that you might observe Amos closely...watch for the symptoms...but don't get too close!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 06:56 PM

Or at least we would.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 07:14 PM

Actually, it sounds like Kant had a hard time dealing with reality when he was in his manic state.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Nickhere
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 07:51 PM

Amos,

I'd have to add one to that book list:

Why Y2K? - What the Millennium is REALLY all about. (by John Blanchard) ISBN 0 85234 433 3

Regrards,

The Usual Suspect!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 08:41 PM

By the way, Amos, I agree very much with Kant's "Critique of Pure Reason", and I think he has hit the nail right on the head, as the saying goes.

None of my foregoing comments were in any way connected to your post about Kant's critique.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 08:47 PM

Rigin:

So you think his proposition about the bounding of the perceivable universe was hallucinatory? And conversely that there must not be any reality outside the limits of those bounds?


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Neil D
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 09:00 PM

Amos, I think I'm following Kant's argument thusly: Since there may be reality beyond the perception of our five senses, there may exist a deity that we would not be aware of. Of course there may not be a deity but since we can't be sure one way or another atheism becomes illogical.
   Does his theory mean that agnosticism is the most logical position regarding the existence of God(s)?
   I personally think his argument supports my own theory of Irrelevantism (my own word). If a deity may or may not exist in a dimmension that we cannot perceive, then what possible relevance could said deity have for us, especially in the practicality of our day-to-day existence.
   I used to like telling evangellical types that I was an atheist just for the shock value, but it wasn't really true. Now I just say I'm a Secular Humanist. They hate that just as much.
                                                   Neil


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 09:32 PM

"So you think his proposition about the bounding of the perceivable universe was hallucinatory?"

             Of course there are things man has not discovered, but that doesn't mean they are not discoverable.

             I think Kant was desparately trying to make sense of the world he lived in. He went as far as he could with it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 09:45 PM

Everyone with a questioning mind desperately tries to make sense of the Universe around him... ;-) It's normal to do that. It indicates curiosity and imagination.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Riginslinger
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 10:02 PM

Well, I guess we can all agree that Immanuel Kant was a pretty smart guy.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 17 Oct 07 - 10:52 PM

No doubt, Rig!!

I'm a secular humanist as well. I just leak a little on the spiritual side.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 01:58 PM

Neil D- indeed.
Also, Kant's Critique predated a lot of technology that has allowed us to examine all kinds of things that we can't directly perceive with our 5 senses. Look at dark matter (well, not literally look at, exactly, but you know what I mean!), and relativity, and quantum physics.

And let's take a deeper look at this paragraph: The Fallacy of the Enlightenment is the glib assumption that there is only one limit to what human beings can know – reality itself. This view says we can find out more and more until eventually there is nothing more to discover. It holds that human reason and science can, in principle, unmask the whole of reality.
1) Fallacy: calling it that begs the question, no?
2) How is it an assumption that reality is limited by reality? For it to BE an assumption presupposes that reality is NOT all there is, i.e. that the supernatural is real. Again, begs the question.
3) How does reality being the only reality mean that we could ever run out of questions? You can always ask another question, so there will always be things to be found out. Especially if you allow technology into the equation.
4) Even if human reason and science COULD unmask the whole of reality, what would be the problem with that? let's say we COULD actually understand ALL of physics and chemistry etc, we would still have chaos theory preventing us from, say, predicting the weather more than a few days in advance (which was discovered by human research, of course), and even if we could, how would this mean that reality ISN'T all there is? Unless you are coming from the assumption that it isn't, of course, as was Kant.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Donuel
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 02:04 PM

Proof of the afterlife was submitted by the Catholic Church yesterday in the form of a photo of flames in the shape of the late Pope John Paul.

Pope Ratslinger said it was indeed a picture of his holiness.

I only aks why flames? Do you suspect that John Paul did not get through the pearly gates?

This just in...

Famed author Hitchens was struck and killed by a bus while pushing a 80 year old nun out of harms way.
THe Catholic Church claims to have proof that Hitchens went to hell by submitting a picture of Hitchens in the shape of clouds and cherubims.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 02:44 PM

It is important to separate what Kant said from that attempt to draw too many implications from Kant's premises.

As stated, the 'refutation' is not much more than a complex, erudite tautology. Kant begins with a statement that "all knowlege begins with experience", and yes, does go on to suggest that we have no other input other than our experience, and thus cannot be sure that we can 'know' all reality this way.....but David Hume begins with a similar statement, and draws VERY different conclusions from it.

It is hardly a "bulwark against atheism" to show that 'we only know what we know'. This hardly implies that what we DON'T know is likely to exist somewhere in reality.

   Kant was, indeed, pretty smart...smart enough to not be lured by his own logic into specious claims about it's implications....unlike that author in the CSM.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: robomatic
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 07:49 PM

I like the following definition:

Tongue in cheek:
Atheist: "One with no invisible means of support."

from my father:
"Religion is the awe in which we hold our ignorance."


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 08:07 PM

Well, since I seem to have inherited the role here of Angel's Advocate, the presumed tautology is not as presented. He argues that because our methods of knowing are bounded by our ability to perceive, experience and know, and that those methods are in turn defined by the organic means of acquiring data (bodily perceptic channels) that we are in a self-proving tautological loop if we say that by this means we can someday parse all of reality.

But Mrrzy's point is a strong one -- chaos theory was not derived from sesory observation, so much as theoretical analysis, the patterning of mental constructs to solve mathematics that have some time back taken departure from the purely sensory channels of perception and wandered into the manipulation of ideational forms.

What he is saying is not that "reality is bounded by reality" but that reasons based wholly on organic channels of awareness will be unable to acquire data concerning reality outside that boundary. NOT material reality but other "existence" if you prefer.

This does not assert that other realities such as deity do exist, but that they should not be dismissed on the basis of materialistic method.

I have made the same argument a number of times -- measuring and computing on ideational structures born from bodily perceptic channels is a closed system of perception and reality.

This observation does not make an assertions about what previously unmeasured reality might have in it, if our means of acquiring data were able to operate on those "bands", to use a material term.

A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 08:25 PM

I concur with Amos on all of that. Every lifeform has its own presumptions about what is real and what isn't, based exclusively on its natural abilities and powers of observation. Most dogs, for example, are keen observers when it comes to auditory and olfactory data...not quite so keen when it comes to visual data...but the vast majority of them are completely unable to recognize 2-dimensional visual data in the form of a painting, a drawing, or a video screen.

Still, there is the rare dog who can recognize things in a film on a video screen. I've seen direct evidence of that in the case of 1 specific dog we owned over the years. While most of them completely ignored images on a video screen, this one did recognize animals and people in videos. It was unconcerned about the people...but very concerned about the animals...even if they were cartoon animals! It knew that a cartoon animal was a representation OF an animal.

That particular dog had an unusual gift of observation which most dogs seem to be quite incapable of...though they never miss indentifying a sound that comes from a TV or radio, providing it's a sound of something that concerns them, such as a cat or another dog or some kind of animal.

It's all a matter of perception. Human beings are also generally limited in their perceptions, but some humans show unusual abilities to perceive what many cannot. Part of the point of spiritual disciplines in a variety of cultures is to stir latent human abilities to perceive things which the average person doesn't perceive.

The spiritual search does NOT require belief in a deity. It does not require a deity at all. It simply requires a recognition that there is much yet to be discovered about existence, and that some of it will not necessarily be discoverable through means which are physically verifiable in a lab. Some experiences are inner not outer. Therefore they can only BE experienced by the person who is having the experience. That is not to say that they aren't real. They just aren't physical, that's all.

Science is concerned with physical things, energy, and observable phenomena. Spirituality is concerned with meaning and with inner experience.

Science looks at the objective. Spirituality looks at the subjective. Anyone who IS genuinely spiritual and at all well educated is perfectly happy to trust science to deal with the objective world...I know I am. Let science do what it is designed to do, because it's very good at that. Let spirituality impart meaning to the world of objectivity, because that's what it is designed to do.

As for doctrinaire religions...well, I'm not much interested in them, but they serve some people fine, and that's okay with me.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: M.Ted
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 10:20 PM

Kant's message conveys the idea that we are not as smart as we think we are, and that we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 18 Oct 07 - 10:24 PM

So true.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 11:40 AM

Little Hawk, Interesting analogy of the dog who had the awareness to show interest to animals on a TV screen. But here is another way to look at it. I once own a beagle, a breed known above all else for it's sense of smell. I noticed that he never paid attention to animals on a television with this one exception: if a dog barked or wolf howled in the distance on a show, a distance that would normally be out of the range of his nose in real life, his ears would perk up the same as if it was outside somewhere. Anything else he totally ignored. My theory was that because he relied on his smell more than any other sense he instinctively knew that what he could see on TV wasn't real.(I watcehed him track a rabbit once and he followed every zig and zag of the rabbit even though it was clearly visible 20 feet in front of him in a straight line. He never looked up but kept his nose an inch off the ground.)
    Not to denigrate your dog but is it possible that showing interest in animals on television could have been from a defficiency in its sense of smell as much as from heightened vision or even both?
It is common in animals and humans that a defficiency of one sense is compensated by a strengthening of others.
    I'm not sure what implication this has regarding our discussion of Kant, except that maybe people who are not as rooted in our five sensory reality are more spiritual. Perhaps this is why seers and shamans commonly use hallucinogenic drugs in seeking revelation.
    The fact that Joan of Arc was spoken to by a Christian God and Native Americans of the southwest see Mescalito when ingesting peyote and other peoples percieve deities from their own belief system when seeking visions, might speak to the relativist nature of even heightened awareness.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 01:09 PM

Oh, well, this poodle knew that the animals on the TV weren't real...in the sense of actually being in the room physically, I mean...but she knew also that they were depictions or projections of real animals. This was evidenced by the fact that she attempted neither to approach nor to flee from animals she would normally have approached or fled from, but she got very excited about them.

She knew she was safe, accordingly, but she could not help commenting on a matter of interest by barking and carrying on about it.

Now, all of our other dogs reacted only to sounds from the TV, not to pictures. She was the only one who saw the projected image for what it was. The others saw simply a meaningless, flickering box.

It was not heightened vision that enabled the poodle to correctly interpret the images, in my opinion, it was a heightened ability in her to interpret the visual input. People from certain tribal cultures have great difficulty interpreting 2 dimensional art. For instance, when T.E. Lawrence sketched pictures while sitting at a campfire with Bedouins they could not see anything intelligible in the drawings, even when he explained each part to them. They saw only meaningless marks on paper (and Lawrence's drawing were quite clear to anyone familiar with visual realistic art). The reason the Bedouins could not "see" the pictures Lawrence drew had nothing to do with their eyesight. It had to do with how their minds interpreted what they were looking at. They were completely unfamiliar with such pictures, and did not have the mental "software" to decode them, though they certainly had the hardware.

In similar fashion, many of the Natives who first saw the Conquistadors ships offshore were at first completely unable to comprehend...or in some cases even to see those ships. They later developed the ability to see them, no problem, after they developed some familiarity with the sight and could relate to and interpret it correctly.

Mind is the king of perception. The hardware is useless if the software is not there to guide it.

What people in advanced spiritual disciplines do is, they learn new and more advanced mental software. That enables them to perceive what many people cannot...but they cannot prove it to someone else who can't even perceive it...nor would they generally feel impelled to.

Proving things is only important to people who have something to prove, if you know what I mean... ;-)

I've never met a disbeliever in anything somewhat unusual who didn't act like he had something to prove...mainly that his way of seeing things is the ONLY right way there is to see things. That would be highly unlikely.

The reason that people in different cultures see different forms of sacred visions, and usually forms that suit their culture, is simple:

The Sacred is a form of highly intelligent energy. It's not limited to any physical structure or any fixed image. It is interpreted by the person who sees the vision strictly through the person's own available software. Thus one person sees a Christian saint or Angel, another sees a Buddhist saint, another sees a Nature Spirit...whatever...they are all essentially seeing varieties of much the same thing, but they're translating it with the only language they know...their own stored mental images. Their mental images arise spontaneously and clothe that which is beyond descibing into something they can describe. And that's perfectly natural.

I'm sure that if rabbits had religious visions, they'd mostly see rabbit gods and sacred beings...they might see a "wolf" devil...and for them, that would be absolutely right. They would simply be seeing a higher expression of what they themselves are or what they deal with in life, and that's what people do. They see the representation of their ideal or their deepest love or their deepest fear. Their mind shapes it that way.

What is the Divine? It's simply the highest expression(s) of what we are. It's our full potential in manifestation. It's pure thought, prior to physical manifestation, and it's the original and limitless source of all physicality.

If you don't believe in it or see it...no problem. You've obviously got other work to do instead, and that's okay. Everyone (hopefully) does what suits them.

In Joan of Arc's case, it would have been completely useless to her mission if she had seen Mescalito! Or Krishna. Or Buddha. Or Zoroaster. ;-) No one in her society could have related to that, herself included, and it would probably have gotten her accused of witchcraft before liberating France, not afterward! She needed to see her visions in a way that would be relevant and useful to a peasant girl in a Christian nation in the 1400's. So she saw Saint Michael, and later Saint Catherine and Saint Margaret. That was powerfully useful to the nation of France. It accomplished full-blown miracles, in fact, considering the political and military situation at the time. It was so incredible that it stands almost alone in human chronicles to this day as about the most unselfish and courageous act imaginable by a young person in a society where only men were expected to go to war.

The mind must try to interpret what it sees, and it does so as best it can through prior experience and memory gleaned in this lifetime...through its available stored software, in other words. That's all a mind can do.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 01:18 PM

Religions, by the way, all start out as local and regional attempts by people to describe something divine in terms they can relate to. They attempt to define the indefinable, thus making it comprehensible to at least some degree. They must do that in order to relate to it.

So how do you know that Saint Michael, Krishna, Thor, Quetzalcoatl, and Mescalito are not all actually the same thing or a very closely related thing, just interpreted through a different set of cultural expectations?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 02:14 PM

I believe that they are all actually the same thing, a thing that exists WITHIN the mind of the one perceiving them. Call it an idea, an ideal, a vision or an hallucination. It is the thing itself being shaped by cultural expectations, not just the interpretation of it.
   Religions do start out as local and regional and primitive attempts to come to terms with fear of the unknown as well as reverance for their dead.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 02:30 PM

Yes. That it (the religious vision) is essentially the same thing in most cases, but clothed in different cultural clothing, is clear. The only question is whether its reality is limited to being only within the mind of the beholder of the vision or whether the beholder is tapping into a much larger reality that is, in fact, universally present...and potentially available therefore to all people. Spirituality usually assumes the latter, materialism assumes the former.

And neither you nor I is in a position to prove that one way or another. We simply have our opinions (or our best guesses) about it, and our opinions are based on our own subjective nature, the people and books we've been influenced by, and how we perceive life and our place in it.

And that's fine with me. I don't have to prove it one way or another, and I KNOW I can't prove it one way or another, nor can anyone else, except to themselves, and then only through direct personal experience. Other people are usually not too inclined to give credence to someone's direct personal experience if it doesn't already match their own chosen assumptions quite closely. ;-) This is as true of atheists as it is of spiritually-minded or religious people.

It's people who try to convert everyone else who are the plague on this Earth, and I think that is just as true of aggressive atheists as it is of aggressive religious prosyletizers. They both are arrogant enough to imagine that they have the right, even the moral imperative to dominate and control somebody else's basic way of thinking. They don't.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 03:08 PM

someone is asleep....500th post


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 03:14 PM

and I'm trying to think how to explain my claim that Kant's position on this really says and/or clarifies very little about what can or can't be said about Reality and possibility.

When someone, like the author in CSM, makes a broad assertion about implications, it often takes 5 times as much nit-picking care to refute it as he took to make it.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 03:21 PM

Yeah, I saw # 500 open, Bill, but I figured...aww...let Chongo have it this time. Then it turns he got distracted by something and missed it. Oh, well...

You said "it often takes 5 times as much nit-picking care to refute it as he took to make it".

In that case, why even bother? ;-) I mean, it's not like you're getting paid or anything... ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 03:32 PM

It's people who try to convert everyone else who are the plague on this Earth, and I think that is just as true of aggressive atheists as it is of aggressive religious prosyletizers. They both are arrogant enough to imagine that they have the right, even the moral imperative to dominate and control somebody else's basic way of thinking. They don't.

   I agree entirely.
   George Carlin compared religion to lifts for your shoes. They may help you walk taller and straighter, but that doesn't give you the right to nail them on other peoples feet. The same applies to confrontational or institutional atheists who would try to forcefully remove them.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 04:32 PM

"In that case, why even bother? ;-) "

Oft do I ask myself that....but I could ask others the same. ;>)

(alternate line.."You mean YOU'RE not getting paid, too?")

I guess it's like the remark I read years ago, which originally referred to manual tasks..

"The hardest thing in the world - to know how to do something - to watch others doing it wrong - and to refrain from comment."


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 04:34 PM

Well, let's put it this way, Bill...I'm not getting paid nearly what I am worth. ;-)


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Amos
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 05:06 PM

The hard part of your metaphor, good Mr D, is deeply embedded in the use of the word "wrong".


A


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Donuel
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 05:27 PM

what are you worth?


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Bill D
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 10:40 PM

Oh, it's embedded all right! Right up to the metaphorical eyeballs.

But it still resonates with subjective recognition of eternal verities!


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Little Hawk
Date: 19 Oct 07 - 11:25 PM

I think that $30 an hour would entirely satisfy me, Donuel.


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Subject: RE: BS: New things about atheism
From: Mrrzy
Date: 20 Oct 07 - 01:05 PM

robomatic - your dad had it bang on!


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