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Old 2012-09-24, 03:00   #1
jasong
 
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Default A theism, a theism, my kingdom for a theism

A lot of times on this forum, people want to argue about morals or about whether there's a God. I'm hoping(and I'll even do my best to control my own urge to preach morality) we can have a thread where people can have more of understanding when someone says they're an atheist.

Going by my church's definition of god(lowercase, as opposed to God the Father, or Allah for Muslims), your god is whatever exerts the most control over you. So, by that definition, some people serve money, their wives, their country, their drug dealer, their gang, Jesus, Allah, their political party, etc.

Obviously, when people talk about atheism, they're talking about something different. I've come up with 2 possibilities, these are probably not the only ones, and of course these two can be combined and both believed. The first is the belief that there are is no intelligent being or beings that watch the human race and are able to intervene at any moment. So this could be a creation god, or maybe super-powerful aliens that have an interest, positive or possibly negative, in our development.

The second belief, and again these 2 beliefs could be considered true together or separately, is that there's no absolute morality. This includes people who think there's a god, but that he changes his mind about stuff. It can also include people who think the only absolutes are physics. So, to them, their main consideration would be survival and maybe respect for people's dignity, their rules would tend to be more pragmatic than someone who believed in an intelligent being.

Off-topic: the reason I started this topic is because of how the marriage debate is seen so totally different by each party. On one side it's considered a civil rights issue, and on the other it's considered a moral issue.
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Old 2012-09-24, 03:09   #2
Dubslow
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
Going by my church's definition of god(lowercase, as opposed to God the Father, or Allah for Muslims), your god is whatever exerts the most control over you. So, by that definition, some people serve money, their wives, their country, their drug dealer, their gang, Jesus, Allah, their political party, etc.
That's not a very common or widely assumed definition of God, though it doesn't seem to have much bearing on your definitions of atheism (which are much better, IMO).
Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
Obviously, when people talk about atheism, they're talking about something different. I've come up with 2 possibilities, these are probably not the only ones, and of course these two can be combined and both believed. The first is the belief that there are is no intelligent being or beings that watch the human race and are able to intervene at any moment. So this could be a creation god, or maybe super-powerful aliens that have an interest, positive or possibly negative, in our development.

The second belief, and again these 2 beliefs could be considered true together or separately, is that there's no absolute morality. This includes people who think there's a god, but that he changes his mind about stuff. It can also include people who think the only absolutes are physics. So, to them, their main consideration would be survival and maybe respect for people's dignity, their rules would tend to be more pragmatic than someone who believed in an intelligent being.
When people say atheist, they generally mean the former, i.e. a-theist i.e. without god. In the commonly accepted and assumed definition of god, that means no omnipotent or omniscient being, perhaps with the power or will to intervene, and perhaps who created {everything, the world, universe, humanity, etc.}.

The second topic is, in my experience, largely separate from atheism, though there is a stronger correlation between atheism and no-morality than between average-person-off-the-street and no-morality, though I think that it's for different reasons than lack of belief in {a,the} god. What makes something "moral" or "right" is a question that hasn't really been answered properly, simply because (for the current era, at any rate) we can't.
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Old 2012-09-24, 03:19   #3
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@jasong:

Do you need to be religious to be a person with good morals?
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Old 2012-09-24, 03:21   #4
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Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
@jasong:

Do you need to be religious to be a person with good morals?
That's the question, isn't it? Or, in slightly different terms, are morals something we can define strictly based on our experience of "reality", or are morals something that only makes sense if given to us/defined by some sort of a higher power? That's one argument for god -- atheists generally can't explain what makes "fundamental human rights" fundamental. (I, for one, despite the lack of explanation for it, just go with it. I find the arguments against god to be somewhat more convincing. [To be clear, I'm agnostic, and what part of the spectrum I'm on depends on the day, time of day, and mood, but I'm never at either end {i.e. devoutly theistic or strictly atheistic}.])

In a sort-of related link, I random'd into this one:
http://www.smbc-comics.com/?db=comics&id=2481#comic

Last fiddled with by Dubslow on 2012-09-24 at 03:24 Reason: rephrasing the question
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Old 2012-09-24, 04:29   #5
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We are atheists.

We cannot prove that a god does not exist but we also cannot prove that a purple unicorn does not exist.

We have no use for either.

Our path in life has been convoluted and we are a product of our environment.

Who we are today is greatly different that who we were twenty years ago. We are ashamed of who we used to be.

Life has taught us a lot of lessons, the hard way.

We use the entire following document as our guide, and article 1 sums things up well:

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a1

But perhaps we are willfully naïve.

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Old 2012-09-24, 07:56   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xyzzy View Post
We are atheists.

We cannot prove that a god does not exist but we also cannot prove that a purple unicorn does not exist.

We have no use for either.

Our path in life has been convoluted and we are a product of our environment.

Who we are today is greatly different that who we were twenty years ago. We are ashamed of who we used to be.

Life has taught us a lot of lessons, the hard way.

We use the entire following document as our guide, and article 1 sums things up well:

http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml#a1

But perhaps we are willfully naïve.


You forgot to photoshop the picture: me an atheist -> us atheists.
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Old 2012-09-24, 08:08   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
we can have a thread where people can have more of understanding when someone says they're an atheist.
What is it that you want to understand?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jasong View Post
Off-topic: the reason I started this topic is because of how the marriage debate is seen so totally different by each party. On one side it's considered a civil rights issue, and on the other it's considered a moral issue.
Have you considered that civil rights issue _is_ a moral issue -- as in, denying other people's civil rights is immoral?
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Old 2012-09-24, 08:51   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dubslow View Post
[...]though there is a stronger correlation between atheism and no-morality than between average-person-off-the-street and no-morality[...]
Can you justify this statement?
I doubt its veracity, unless "no-morality" is defined (partly or wholly) in terms of lack of religion, in which case the statement is trivially true.
But I'm interested in the question and very willing to have my opinion on the subject altered if you can direct me to any well designed and well conducted study supporting your statement.
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Old 2012-09-24, 09:08   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
Can you justify this statement?
I doubt its veracity, unless "no-morality" is defined (partly or wholly) in terms of lack of religion, in which case the statement is trivially true.
I would be ready to believe* the statement with "no-morality" defined as "no moral at all". If "no-morality" is the same as "immorality", then with the set of moral acts I have in mind I would not easily buy that claim.

*Note that I do not consider being religious to be immoral. Otherwise the statement with this interpretation would be again trivially false.
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Old 2012-09-24, 14:49   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian-E View Post
Can you justify this statement?
I doubt its veracity, unless "no-morality" is defined (partly or wholly) in terms of lack of religion, in which case the statement is trivially true.
But I'm interested in the question and very willing to have my opinion on the subject altered if you can direct me to any well designed and well conducted study supporting your statement.
Quote:
Originally Posted by rajula View Post
I would be ready to believe* the statement with "no-morality" defined as "no moral at all". If "no-morality" is the same as "immorality", then with the set of moral acts I have in mind I would not easily buy that claim.

*Note that I do not consider being religious to be immoral. Otherwise the statement with this interpretation would be again trivially false.
By "no-morality" I meant "there is no absolute morality" and "we can't say for sure what's moral and what isn't", and what jasong meant in his second statement about atheism. My point is that (I would think) many atheists can't prove that one morality is better than any other, and at least are willing to acknowledge that fact. Perhaps I'm right, perhaps I'm wrong, but that's been my experience (but then, it also very well could be my personal bias in terms of the people I've known).
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Old 2012-09-24, 16:46   #11
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Why should morality be considered solely the province of religion?
Considering that (IMO) every religion gets morality wrong, wouldn't
that be a good reason to look elsewhere for guidance as to
purposes and right and wrong? Isn't it possible to define a
rational, non-supernaturally-based set of principles of ethics?
How can you start with un-reason of (IMO all) religion and expect
any religious philosophy to produce a rational ethics?
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