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-   -   why does this forum care so much about religion (http://archives1.twoplustwo.com/showthread.php?t=521521)

tame_deuces 10-17-2007 08:58 PM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
An agnostic theist would simply say 'I believe there definitely is a god, but I can't know'. Not all accept that this is a possible belief (some theists would claim the person is doubtful of god, militant atheists would call his belief irrational).

In very short and very simplified way agnosticism is the rejection of belief in absolute truths, based on the conclusion that as of yet there are certain things you simply can't know. Agnostic theists who take this belief to heart would claim there are things you can believe, even if you can't know them.

mbillie1 10-17-2007 09:12 PM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
http://www.howtocheatinphotoshop.com...copy2-copy.jpg

edit: rabble rabble rabble rabble religion rabble rabble atheism rabble rabble rabble fifty pages of [censored] rabble rabble

vhawk01 10-17-2007 09:17 PM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
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Is our existence pointless and random without God? Yeah, I think it is.

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Without intention, it is per se, you don't have to 'think' that it is. If you fling a 6 deck shoe of cards out a 10 story window, and on the ground you see that 40 or 50 cards have, by outrageous chance, formed a little house of cards, does that house of cards have any purpose or a point?

The mystery to me is - where they hell did the cards come from? Will we ever know for certain?

I think most people have some kind of feeling, or 'sense' that existence is not pointless. What ever this 'feeling' is, it has manifested itself through the eons as 'faith' in something 'behind' existence, informing existence. Of course humans being what they are, imperfect, have used this faith, like fire, to varying degrees of both good and bad ends.

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Humans may very well have this "sense," whatever it is. I just have no reason why you'd think that means anything. Humans have a sense that objects moving towards them are dangerous until proven otherwise. This is a survival mechanism, and it is often wrong. Humans have a sense that those blotchy eraser marks on the chalkboard kind of look like a man's face. This is because facial recognition, as part of our general pattern recognition, is very important. But the eraser marks are NOT a face. IOW, human beings have a whole lot of senses that are just adaptations, general rules of thumb that are often wrong but that solve certain types of problems.

It takes very little imagination to think of reasons we might all have a sense that we are fundamentally important in the universe.

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I don't recall stating that I thought it 'meant' something. However, while I'm also inclined to think that it is probably just adaptation with regard to evolutionary biology, I'm not prepared to say I'm certain of it.

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I didn't say you did. If we are going to be nitty, I just said I don't understand why you WOULD say that. If you did. [img]/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img] But I was making a more general point that arguments from obviousness or whatever the opposite of the argument from incredulity (and actually its just a different form of the argument from incredulity) are very common and very fallacious. Many people will take your observation and then conclude that this "sense" or "feeling" cant just be random and that it must mean something. Which of course it probably does, just not what they want it to.

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OK. I'm just sensitive because it seems, sometimes, the 'strawman tactic' is a favorite of some of the various interlocutors on here!

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I'm not going to claim I'm never guilty of it, but I'd like to think that when I do it it is a result of an honest misunderstanding. It is sometimes difficult to get tone and intent across on an internet message board, and I am sometimes left to guess at what someone REALLY means. Which I then base on past experience and that sometimes leads to error.

vhawk01 10-17-2007 09:35 PM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
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I think you can say "there definitely isn't God X" depending on the characteristics ascribed to God X. If he is a logical contradiction, it makes sense to say he definitely does not exist. But I think it is obviously stupid to say "any type of god cannot possibly exist." And of course, no one says this. Some people sloppily or lazily say "LOL God doesn't exist dummy" or something like that in response to some monotheist, but they PROBABLY just mean "no reason to think God exists and only a fool takes a policy of believing in things UNTIL they are proven false." Sort of like how I say unicorns don't exist, ya know? I'm not positive of this. It would be idiotic to claim that unicorns definitely don't exist. But I don't feel the slightest bit remorseful when I say it.

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thanks for the feedback man.

So atheism isnt necessarily the belief that there is no god? By that, do you mean atheism is a result of the creation of these god x's ie. christian god, muslim god, etc. and is simply the rejection of those beliefs? Would that by definition make a muslim an athiest of the christian god? And if so, what would you call someone who believes there is/are no god(s)?

I ask these questions because i am genuinely trying to understand, not because i'm trying to passive agressively attack what you said. I am 20 yrs old so im still wet behind the ears. Please forgive any flaws in my logic and feel free to correct any of them.

Also i think the unicorn analogy maybe off (im sure it came from off the top of your head.) As a human I can feel, taste, see, smell, and hear the universe and know it exists. I draw the conclusion, from the fact that the universe exists, that something created the universe. I come to this conclusion based on my experience that every and anything i have encountered in the universe is an effect of some cause, be it man, force, or w/e.

I think stone henge is a perfect example of what i am trying to say. People speculate many different theories on who or what constructed it (and they'll probably never know exactly) but they can draw the conclusion that some force that existed/exists constructed it. They can draw this conclusion from the mere fact that it exists.

Correct away, scorcher863

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Ok, you are asking all the right questions, and you are already ahead of the game because you don't pretend like you know all the answers to questions that have been asked and remain contentious for hundreds (and hundreds) of years. All good things. Atheism, in the strictest sense, is simply a LACK of a belief in God. It is not necessarily a firm, confident positive claim that no God could ever exist. For instance, I think it is certainly POSSIBLE for an infinite number of possible Gods to exist. And I think its impossible for us to ever find out one way or another. This makes me agnostic, of course, but it ALSO makes me an atheist. The two are not mutually exclusive. The type of atheist you are referring to above, the one who has a firm belief in the impossibility or non-existence of god, is a gnostic atheist. Gnostic simply means "one who knows" or something very similar to that. I am agnostic because I do not know and furthermore think that we cannot know. The cannot part isn't strictly necessary, and so I am agnostic on a whole host of topics. I am agnostic about unicorns, to keep the same example running. I do not have a belief that they exist, but I cannot say they are impossible. I am an agnostic a-unicornist.

You make a good point about the difference between atheism and a-unicornism. That is, basically, only little girls believe in unicorns. A whole bunch of people believe in God. And you hit the nail right on the head for why this is. God seems to answer a lot of questions and fill a lot of needs. Just as, for the little girl, the unicorn answers some questions and fills some needs, i.e. the need for some magical, beautiful wonderful creature to exist. Once the little girl gets over this need, or finds something else to fill it, she can accept the overwhelming likelihood that these unicorns do not exist. This cannot be PROVEN, of course, but it doesn't seem worth devoting much time to worrying about it.

Your stonehenge question is sort of a rephrasing of Paley's watchmaker problem. You walk along a beach and you see a watch, you don't know who owns the watch but you know damn well that some intelligent force made that watch. Its a fascinating problem. For most of human history, we've considered human beings, dogs, plants, all of these to be different examples of the watch. It was simply impossible to look at a human being, with all its complexity, and think that there was no intelligent designer. But it turns out we were wrong. There really is no intelligent designer. A great amount of complexity CAN arise out of mindless processes. Darwin more or less solved that for us, and although it is STILL incredibly counterintuitive to most people, something as amazing and complex and beautiful as a human being really did come about through random mutations differentially selected and inherited.

How does this apply to your specific question about the beauty of the universe? Well, the short answer is that it doesn't. The universe is still awaiting its Darwin. Maybe its Darwin will never come. Maybe the universe really IS a watch. I do not know for sure. What I learned from the parable of evolution (awesome, LOL) is that my wonderment and my lack of imagination and my "sense" that something must be designed or here for a reason misleads. It is imperfect. It exists for a reason, and that reason is to get me safely through childhood, into adulthood and eventually to parenthood. I do not have this sense as some sort of Ultimate Truth Divining Rod. It is fallible and fallible in predictable ways.

Of course, if you want to listen to all that and then still say that the universe still IS a watch, I have no convincing arguments to sway you. You might even be right. There are some atheists who will say, with far too much confidence, that the universe is here for no reason and that it had no beginning or some other explanation. As far as I know, they are more or less making things up. I think they'd be better off saying "I don't know but past experience has led me to refrain from just making up stories and calling them God."

And of course, going from this potential watchmaker god, who created the universe, to some sort of God that cares about who I marry or what I do on Sundays or intends to send me to burn for eternity is a HUGE step based on nothing. Absolutely nothing. That the universe appears designed is NO ARGUMENT WHATSOEVER for any specific designer. Its not even a great argument for a designer of ANY stripe.

vhawk01 10-17-2007 09:38 PM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
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thanks for explaining that to me. So as an example, would that make jhawk a weak atheist (sorry to single you out) according to this statement [ QUOTE ]
But I think it is obviously stupid to say "any type of god cannot possibly exist."

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Also could you explain how a person could be religious and agnostic at the same time? It seems like one says there definetely is a god (or else whats the point of being religious) and one says i cannot draw any conclusion.

Forgive me again if my logic is off

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Yeah, I am a weak atheist, or another way of saying it is agnostic atheist. An agnostic theist is someone who thinks there is a god but does not know for sure and thinks that it is probably impossible to know for sure. This isn't QUITE the same thing as someone who knows there is "something" but just doesn't have any particular religion. That person isn't really agnostic, they are a full-fledged theist, they just are a-religious or non-sectarian or something. I know a few agnostic theists but most people, in the US at least, are gnostic theists.

hexag1 10-17-2007 10:17 PM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
we care so much because its the oldest philosophical debate.
reason vs unreason
knowledge vs faith
we care so much because its on everyones mind, thrust into the foreground by geopolitical events.

tpir 10-18-2007 11:50 AM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
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Ok, you are asking all the right questions, and you are already ahead of the game because you don't pretend like you know all the answers to questions that have been asked and remain contentious for hundreds (and hundreds) of years. All good things. Atheism, in the strictest sense, is simply a LACK of a belief in God. It is not necessarily a firm, confident positive claim that no God could ever exist. For instance, I think it is certainly POSSIBLE for an infinite number of possible Gods to exist. And I think its impossible for us to ever find out one way or another. This makes me agnostic, of course, but it ALSO makes me an atheist. The two are not mutually exclusive. The type of atheist you are referring to above, the one who has a firm belief in the impossibility or non-existence of god, is a gnostic atheist. Gnostic simply means "one who knows" or something very similar to that. I am agnostic because I do not know and furthermore think that we cannot know. The cannot part isn't strictly necessary, and so I am agnostic on a whole host of topics. I am agnostic about unicorns, to keep the same example running. I do not have a belief that they exist, but I cannot say they are impossible. I am an agnostic a-unicornist.

You make a good point about the difference between atheism and a-unicornism. That is, basically, only little girls believe in unicorns. A whole bunch of people believe in God. And you hit the nail right on the head for why this is. God seems to answer a lot of questions and fill a lot of needs. Just as, for the little girl, the unicorn answers some questions and fills some needs, i.e. the need for some magical, beautiful wonderful creature to exist. Once the little girl gets over this need, or finds something else to fill it, she can accept the overwhelming likelihood that these unicorns do not exist. This cannot be PROVEN, of course, but it doesn't seem worth devoting much time to worrying about it.

Your stonehenge question is sort of a rephrasing of Paley's watchmaker problem. You walk along a beach and you see a watch, you don't know who owns the watch but you know damn well that some intelligent force made that watch. Its a fascinating problem. For most of human history, we've considered human beings, dogs, plants, all of these to be different examples of the watch. It was simply impossible to look at a human being, with all its complexity, and think that there was no intelligent designer. But it turns out we were wrong. There really is no intelligent designer. A great amount of complexity CAN arise out of mindless processes. Darwin more or less solved that for us, and although it is STILL incredibly counterintuitive to most people, something as amazing and complex and beautiful as a human being really did come about through random mutations differentially selected and inherited.

How does this apply to your specific question about the beauty of the universe? Well, the short answer is that it doesn't. The universe is still awaiting its Darwin. Maybe its Darwin will never come. Maybe the universe really IS a watch. I do not know for sure. What I learned from the parable of evolution (awesome, LOL) is that my wonderment and my lack of imagination and my "sense" that something must be designed or here for a reason misleads. It is imperfect. It exists for a reason, and that reason is to get me safely through childhood, into adulthood and eventually to parenthood. I do not have this sense as some sort of Ultimate Truth Divining Rod. It is fallible and fallible in predictable ways.

Of course, if you want to listen to all that and then still say that the universe still IS a watch, I have no convincing arguments to sway you. You might even be right. There are some atheists who will say, with far too much confidence, that the universe is here for no reason and that it had no beginning or some other explanation. As far as I know, they are more or less making things up. I think they'd be better off saying "I don't know but past experience has led me to refrain from just making up stories and calling them God."

And of course, going from this potential watchmaker god, who created the universe, to some sort of God that cares about who I marry or what I do on Sundays or intends to send me to burn for eternity is a HUGE step based on nothing. Absolutely nothing. That the universe appears designed is NO ARGUMENT WHATSOEVER for any specific designer. Its not even a great argument for a designer of ANY stripe.

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I just wanted to say this is a sick awesome post and I will not be posting in SMP about religion/atheism anymore because this covers everything. Seriously. gg.

scorcher863 10-18-2007 03:05 PM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
Thanks vhawk, i appreciate all the valuable information. It helped me to better understand my beliefs. I feel like i should pay you lol.
Your teaching style is extremely effective, especially the a-unicornism analogy. At first, an agnostic theist seemed like a contradiction. Now, i think i understand how the two are not mutually exclusive (its funny cause i just learned this concept a few weeks ago in intro to statistics and was just tested wednesday on it.)
Prior to reading this post, i was under the presumption that all atheists are the same and they believe there is no god. I think it's obvious i was only exposed to one side of the story. Thanks again for the clarification.

I heard of the watch analogy while listening to an audiobook of Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis uses a house and a painting as examples. I like stone henge becauseit is a real life example.

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What I learned from the parable of evolution (awesome, LOL) is that my wonderment and my lack of imagination and my "sense" that something must be designed or here for a reason misleads. It is imperfect. It exists for a reason, and that reason is to get me safely through childhood, into adulthood and eventually to parenthood. I do not have this sense as some sort of Ultimate Truth Divining Rod. It is fallible and fallible in predictable ways.

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This would explain why C.S. lewis came up with the idea that because we "thirst" for a god, there must be a god that exists (based on our thirst for water and food.)

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to some sort of God that cares about who I marry or what I do on Sundays or intends to send me to burn for eternity is a HUGE step based on nothing.

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This is reminds me alot of ppl nowadays. It's kinda like on of those chicken/egg/ conundrums, they have these beliefs which are drawn from their god, who is affected by their beliefs, which are affected by their god and so on and so on.

Thanks again for the lengthy response. I read it over a few times so i would grasp everything.

scorcher863 10-18-2007 03:16 PM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
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Also you got some semantic issues - most atheists would not refer to their reasoning as 'belief there is no god', they would call 'having no belief there is a god', this point is often important to them as they don't want to come of as 'believers' in something.

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Sadly, i think this is the common belief among otherwise ignorant people. Usually you hear the word atheist used (in a negative connotation) as some kind of anti-religion. I now understand that atheism isn't the opposite of religion, it's more like the abscence of religion. Thanks for the wisdom dueces.

Schmitty 87 10-18-2007 04:07 PM

Re: why does this forum care so much about religion
 
It's quite ridiculous to see atheists telling theists what theists believe. God forbid that people, yes theists too, actually think and think differently about things.

Just a question. How many of you (meaning luckyme, vhawk, midge, chrisv, whoever) have read any of the following:

1. Dynamics of Faith by Paul Tillich
2. On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers by Friedrich Schleiermacher
3. The Divine Milieu by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
4. The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy
5. Philosophical Fragments by Soren Kierkegaard

I will list more if desired.


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