History UsefulNotes / Atheism

3rd Dec '16 3:16:39 PM Fireblood
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It's also important to note that such skepticism of religion was by no means a Western phenomenon. Buddhism and Jainism, for instance, are philosophies without a deity figure, though other sects approached something resembling monotheism later on. Hinduism had materialist schools such as the Carvaka, Samkhya and Mimamsa. In China, Confucius developed a philosophy of education, curiosity, and learning that explicitly distanced itself from metaphysical and spiritual questions, noting that such concepts, even if true, were generally available and valuable to the very few, and that society as a whole should be considered with materially improving TheNeedsOfTheMany. Likewise, Charles Darwin, in describing his voyages to South America, stated that some native tribes did not even have a word for god and organized their society without any identifiable religion (and therefore cannot explicitly be called atheists, since they never believed in god to start with), noting that it refuted the idea that religion or belief was intrinsic or heritable, rather than cultural and acquired. During the golden age of the Arab world, several writers such as Omar Khayyam, Averroes, Ibn al-Rawandi and Abu Bakr al-Razi expressed ideas that stressed education, materialism, criticized infallibility of religious truths, expressing a naturalistic worldview that would supersede religious explanations. The freethinker Al-Maʿarri likewise regarded religion as a "fable invented by the ancients". Even in the Catholic Church, Saint Augustine, a former Manichaean (an African heretical sect), stated that he considered the Bible's fantastic stories to be largely embellished to be accessible to the common man. He dismissed literal interpretations of the Bible's account for creation, noting that as and when science advanced with superior explanations, it should supplant existing Biblical interpretations. This was the defense which Galileo (who was a religious man) used—unsuccessfully—in his trial argument for heliocentrism (the dispute there being over whether heliocentrism ''was'' a better explanation-most scientists at the time didn't think so).

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It's also important to note that such skepticism of religion was by no means a Western phenomenon. Buddhism and Jainism, for instance, are philosophies without a deity figure, though other sects approached something resembling monotheism later on. Hinduism had materialist schools such as the Carvaka, Samkhya and Mimamsa. In China, Confucius developed a philosophy of education, curiosity, and learning that explicitly distanced itself from metaphysical and spiritual questions, noting that such concepts, even if true, were generally available and valuable to the very few, and that society as a whole should be considered with materially improving TheNeedsOfTheMany.[[TheNeedsOfTheMany society as a whole]]. Likewise, Charles Darwin, in describing his voyages to South America, stated that some native tribes did not even have a word for god and organized their society without any identifiable religion (and therefore cannot explicitly be called atheists, since they never believed in god to start with), noting that it refuted the idea that religion or belief was intrinsic or heritable, rather than cultural and acquired. During the golden age of the Arab world, several writers such as Omar Khayyam, Averroes, Ibn al-Rawandi and Abu Bakr al-Razi expressed ideas that stressed education, materialism, criticized infallibility of religious truths, expressing a naturalistic worldview that would supersede religious explanations. The freethinker Al-Maʿarri likewise regarded religion as a "fable invented by the ancients". Even in the Catholic Church, Saint Augustine, a former Manichaean (an African heretical sect), stated that he considered the Bible's fantastic stories to be largely embellished to be accessible to the common man. He dismissed literal interpretations of the Bible's account for creation, noting that as and when science advanced with superior explanations, it should supplant existing Biblical interpretations. This was the defense which Galileo (who was a religious man) used—unsuccessfully—in his trial argument for heliocentrism (the dispute there being over whether heliocentrism ''was'' a better explanation-most scientists at the time didn't think so).



** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism Utilitarianism]] (in a nutshell, happiness good, suffering bad).
*** Contrasted with [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kantianism Kantianism above]]. Kantianism, in contrast to utilitarianism, justifies rights such as private property in spite of the happiness/suffering of others. Consider for example that you currently have two kidneys. Someone in the world is surely and currently in the need of one of the kidneys you can provide right now and will only suffer and be less happy without it. Under utilitarianism, ANY action that promotes happiness and limits suffering is morally good, therefore under some interpretations there is an obligation on your part to give up your kidney by a nominally painless surgical procedure.[[note]] Most modern utilitarians reject such reasoning on the basis that, generally speaking, forcing people to give up organs makes them unhappy, and knowing a society has authorized such an invasive violation of the individual leads to less happiness overall. They would have far less problem with mandating that organs be harvested from people that have died (with allowances for those with religious objections, say) a policy countries like Australia have already.[[/note]] Under Kantianism, you're only obligated to act on a rule that you yourself would want to be generally applied to society. Because a society where people are forced to give up body parts isn't ideal, nor exercises good will, you are under no obligation to render your meat stuff to the sick (and therefore have a right to your private property). Kantianism is independent of the consequential suffering of others and thereby Negative Responsibility. For example, say an armed gunman takes you and five other people hostage. The gunman says he'll shoot all of the other hostages except if you kill one of them yourself. As a consequence, utilitarianism might dictate that you kill one of your fellow hostages else you'll be morally wrong for letting all of the hostages die (more suffering, less happiness). Kantianism considers that the decisions of your actions and the gunman's actions are two separate entities, i.e. you're only responsible for your own actions and the gunman for his/her own. Therefore, you're under no moral obligation to murder at gunpoint, and it is the gunman who's at fault if he therefore murders the other hostages when you refuse to accept this {{sadistic choice}}.

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** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism Utilitarianism]] (in a nutshell, [[ForHappiness happiness good, suffering bad).
bad. More specifically, they advocate the greatest good for the greatest number).
*** Contrasted with [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kantianism Kantianism above]]. Kantianism, in contrast to utilitarianism, justifies rights such as private property in spite of the happiness/suffering of others. Consider for example that you currently have two kidneys. Someone in the world is surely and currently in the need of one of the kidneys you can provide right now and will only suffer and be less happy without it. Under utilitarianism, ANY action that promotes happiness and limits suffering is morally good, therefore under some interpretations there is an [[TheNeedsOfTheMany obligation on your part to give up your kidney kidney]] by a nominally painless surgical procedure.[[note]] Most modern utilitarians reject such reasoning on the basis that, generally speaking, [[CaptainObvious forcing people to give up organs makes them unhappy, unhappy]], and knowing a society has authorized such an invasive violation of the individual leads to less happiness overall. They would have far less problem with mandating that organs be harvested from people that have died (with allowances for those with religious objections, say) a policy countries like Australia have already.[[/note]] Under Kantianism, you're only obligated to act on a rule that you yourself would want to be generally applied to society. Because a society where people are forced to give up body parts isn't ideal, nor exercises good will, you are under no obligation to render your meat stuff to the sick (and therefore have a right to your private property). Kantianism is independent of the consequential suffering of others and thereby Negative Responsibility.negative responsibility. For example, say an armed gunman takes you and five other people hostage. The gunman says he'll shoot all of the other hostages except if you kill one of them yourself. As a consequence, utilitarianism might dictate that you kill one of your fellow hostages or else you'll you'd be morally wrong for letting all of the hostages die (more suffering, less happiness). Kantianism considers that the decisions of your actions and the gunman's actions are two separate entities, i.e. you're only responsible for your own actions and the gunman for his/her own. Therefore, you're under no moral obligation to murder at gunpoint, and it is the gunman who's at fault if he therefore murders the other hostages when you refuse to accept this {{sadistic choice}}.
3rd Dec '16 4:07:48 AM Vampyricon
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* An atheist might view the idea that the fear of hell would be "necessary" to act morally as rather flattering: aren't they amazing, managing it without such fear? Or more critically, they might say that one should do good because virtue is it's own reward, it's just the right thing to do, or it would be for the greatest benefit, not because of fear of punishment (this is the lowest on the Kolhberg scale of moral development).

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* An atheist might view the idea that the fear of hell would be "necessary" to act morally as rather flattering: aren't they amazing, managing it without such fear? Or more critically, they might say that one should do good because virtue is it's its own reward, it's just the right thing to do, or it would be for the greatest benefit, not because of fear of punishment (this is the lowest on the Kolhberg scale of moral development).
22nd Oct '16 3:30:28 PM Tdarcos
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Added DiffLines:

The general rule of atheists themselves divides atheism into two classes, "hard" atheism and "soft" atheism. A hard atheist believes that there is no god or gods. A soft atheist simply lacks belief in a god or gods. There is a difference; the former has a positive belief in the lack of a deity, while the latter have not rejected the existence in one, they just don't believe that it/they exist, because no evidence of their existence has been provided.
1st Oct '16 6:42:04 PM trumpetmarietta
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* Atheists are more concerned with the literal, extremist religious fringe, who do more harm to society. And those are who they address. This is particularly aggravating because the two sides are often political allies, for example in defending the separation of church and state.

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* Atheists are more concerned with the literal, extremist religious fringe, who do more harm to society. And those are who whom they address. This is particularly aggravating because the two sides are often political allies, for example in defending the separation of church and state.
21st Aug '16 9:48:37 AM Eagal
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* Most atheists believe that the scientific method is a valid and valuable means of learning about nature, and many are in line with the ScienceIsGood view. Many also feel that religious claims are contradicted by science in one sense or another, either because they lack proof, or they have been ''dis''proven, or they should be ruled out ''a priori'' for reasons of scientific philosophy. However, the question of whether science and religion are "incompatible" (and what that question means, exactly) is contentious, and is one of the things that separates "new atheists" and "accomodationists". Many theists and some atheists agree that religion deals with separate issues or questions than science (so that, e.g., it doesn't make sense to ask for scientific proof of a miracle) while some atheists argue that they do in fact deal with the same issues, and religions simply have it all wrong. Some theists argue, conversely, that science can give evidence ''for'' miracles.

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* Most atheists believe that the scientific method is a valid and valuable means of learning about nature, and many are in line with the ScienceIsGood view.view that science is good. Many also feel that religious claims are contradicted by science in one sense or another, either because they lack proof, or they have been ''dis''proven, or they should be ruled out ''a priori'' for reasons of scientific philosophy. However, the question of whether science and religion are "incompatible" (and what that question means, exactly) is contentious, and is one of the things that separates "new atheists" and "accomodationists". Many theists and some atheists agree that religion deals with separate issues or questions than science (so that, e.g., it doesn't make sense to ask for scientific proof of a miracle) while some atheists argue that they do in fact deal with the same issues, and religions simply have it all wrong. Some theists argue, conversely, that science can give evidence ''for'' miracles.
21st Aug '16 9:47:09 AM Eagal
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* There's also a strain in atheism, what is regarded as being its secular strain, at least among some European writers, where it is a sentiment that doesn't come from opposition or hostility to religion. These writers will admit that religion has moments of beauty and truth, and admit that the negative aspects of Christianity can't be regarded as its core tenets. Their critique is simply: what can Christianity, even the beautiful nice kind, provide to people who live in the modern world?

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* There's also a strain in atheism, what is regarded as being its secular strain, at least among some European writers, where it is a sentiment that doesn't come from opposition or hostility to religion. These writers will admit that religion has moments of beauty and truth, and admit that the negative aspects of Christianity can't be regarded as its core tenets. Their critique is simply: what can Christianity, even the beautiful beautiful, nice kind, provide to people who live in the modern world?
21st Aug '16 9:44:44 AM Eagal
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*** Bear in mind that even the strongest anti-theist or anti-religious persons don't necessarily hate the members of that religion, commonly stating things such as 'you are better than your god', as they attempt to explain how the religious person is moral even in the face of a god they claim is evil. It is quite similar, perhaps ironically, to the Christian principle of "love the sinner, hate the sin. Other than that, athiests who believe that religious belief stems from childhood indoctrination tend to go to the logical conclusion that religious people never made any choice to be religious, and cannot hate them or despise them because of their unchosen beliefs."

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*** Bear in mind that even the strongest anti-theist or anti-religious persons don't necessarily hate the members of that religion, commonly stating things such as 'you are better than your god', as they attempt to explain how the religious person is moral even in the face of a god they claim is evil. It is quite similar, perhaps ironically, to the Christian principle of "love the sinner, hate the sin. " Other than that, athiests atheists who believe that religious belief stems from childhood indoctrination tend to go to the logical conclusion that religious people never made any choice to be religious, and cannot hate them or despise them because of their unchosen beliefs."
21st Aug '16 8:50:36 AM LoutishGoose
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*** Bear in mind that even the strongest anti-theist or anti-religious persons don't necessarily hate the members of that religion, commonly stating things such as 'you are better than your god', as they attempt to explain how the religious person is moral even in the face of a god they claim is evil. It is quite similar, perhaps ironically, to the Christian principle of "love the sinner, hate the sin."

to:

*** Bear in mind that even the strongest anti-theist or anti-religious persons don't necessarily hate the members of that religion, commonly stating things such as 'you are better than your god', as they attempt to explain how the religious person is moral even in the face of a god they claim is evil. It is quite similar, perhaps ironically, to the Christian principle of "love the sinner, hate the sin. Other than that, athiests who believe that religious belief stems from childhood indoctrination tend to go to the logical conclusion that religious people never made any choice to be religious, and cannot hate them or despise them because of their unchosen beliefs."
8th Apr '16 8:11:18 PM Fireblood
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** The person who coined this term ''{{Absurdism}}'', Albert Camus, did a significant body of work writing about this idea. The term 'absurdism' comes from the idea that the conflict between the impermanence of life and human actions is a paradox and, well, absurd. To quote TheOtherWiki on this: ''We value our lives and existence so greatly, but at the same time we know we will eventually die, and ultimately our endeavors are meaningless. While we can live with a dualism (I can accept periods of unhappiness, because I know I will also experience happiness to come), we cannot live with the paradox (I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless).'' Camus' writings were based around the theme that the paradox, the absurd, showed that the universe was meaningless-but that human endeavors could still create meaning. Basically, that we live in a CosmicHorrorStory, where the StrawNihilist is right…but that we still, despite that, create meaning.

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** The person who coined this the term ''{{Absurdism}}'', Albert Camus, Creator/AlbertCamus, did a significant body of work writing about this idea. The term 'absurdism' "absurdism" comes from the idea that the conflict between the impermanence of life and human actions is a paradox and, well, absurd. To quote TheOtherWiki on this: ''We value our lives and existence so greatly, but at the same time we know we will eventually die, and ultimately our endeavors are meaningless. While we can live with a dualism (I can accept periods of unhappiness, because I know I will also experience happiness to come), we cannot live with the paradox (I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless).'' Camus' writings were based around the theme that the paradox, the absurd, showed that the universe was meaningless-but that human endeavors could still create meaning. Basically, that we live in a CosmicHorrorStory, where the StrawNihilist is right…but that we still, despite that, create meaning.
8th Apr '16 7:50:16 PM Fireblood
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* Actual bona-fide miracles occurring (e.g. raising the dead, "impossible" healing of sickness or injury, etc.) would not be automatic proof that the Christian god is "real" in the Biblical sense. Assuming for the moment that such miracles occur, it's also possible that they are unusual, yet natural happenings in our universe propelled by a mechanism we do not yet understand, or that the beings that style themselves as gods are another kind of life form that chooses to interact with us by posing as gods for some reason. There are also all those thousands of ''other gods'' people worship or have worshiped to consider.
** Interestingly, for a long period of history, the investigation of so called "miracles" and the discovery of naturalist explanations for the phenomena was considered an ''affirmation'' of faith (as in, "Hey, look how God made this amazing thing we thought was impossible actually happen without leaving any direct fingerprints")

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* Actual bona-fide miracles occurring (e.g. raising the dead, "impossible" healing of sickness or injury, etc.) would not be automatic proof that the Christian god is "real" in the Biblical sense. Assuming for the moment that such miracles occur, it's also possible that they are unusual, unusual yet natural happenings in our universe propelled by a mechanism we do not yet understand, or that the beings that style themselves as gods are another kind of life form that chooses to interact with us by posing as gods for some reason. There are also all those thousands of ''other gods'' people worship or have worshiped to consider.
** Interestingly, for a long period of history, the investigation of so called "miracles" and the discovery of naturalist natural explanations for the these phenomena was considered an ''affirmation'' of faith (as in, "Hey, look how God made this amazing thing we thought was impossible actually happen without leaving any direct fingerprints")fingerprints").



* Atheism does not prescribe a system of morality or code of behavior. There is no built-in system of reward for good acts and punishment for evil ones. While some religious people would expect this to lead atheists to become {{Straw Nihilist}}s, atheists form moral codes as they grow up, through their education, culture and personal reflection, like everyone else. That is not an explicitly self-imposed limitation, it is the natural way things happen in a normal, sane, developing human brain[[note]]Science has theories like ''kin selection'' and ''reciprocal altruism'' to explain how things like empathy, a sense of right and wrong, and self sacrificing behavior could have evolved.[[/note]]. And it's for their benefit too, of course, as GoodFeelsGood, and [[SanityHasAdvantages sanity is its own advantage]].

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* Atheism does not prescribe a system of morality or code of behavior. There is no built-in system of reward for good acts and punishment for evil ones. While some religious people would expect this to lead atheists to become {{Straw Nihilist}}s, atheists form moral codes as they grow up, up through their education, culture and personal reflection, reflection like everyone else. That is not an explicitly self-imposed limitation, it is the natural way things happen in a normal, sane, developing human brain[[note]]Science brain.[[note]]Science has theories like ''kin selection'' and ''reciprocal altruism'' to explain how things like empathy, a sense of right and wrong, and self sacrificing behavior could have evolved.[[/note]]. [[/note]] And it's for their benefit too, of course, as GoodFeelsGood, GoodFeelsGood and [[SanityHasAdvantages sanity is its own advantage]].



** The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rule Golden Rule]] "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself" (a concept which has existed since at least as early as 1780 B.C.) usually comes up.

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** The [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_rule Golden Rule]] Rule]], "One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself" (a concept which has existed since at least as early as 1780 B.C.) ), usually comes up.



*** Contrasted with [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kantianism Kantianism]]. Kantianism, unlike utilitarianism, justifies rights such as private property in spite of the happiness/suffering of others. Consider for example that you currently have two kidneys. Someone in the world is surely and currently in the need of one of the kidneys you can provide right now and will only suffer and be less happy without it. Under utilitarianism, ANY action that promotes happiness and limits suffering is morally good, therefore under some interpretations there is an obligation on your part to give up your kidney by a nominally painless surgical procedure[[note]] Most modern utilitarians reject such reasoning on the basis that, generally speaking, forcing people to give up organs makes them unhappy, and knowing a society has authorized such an invasive violation of the individual leads to less happiness overall. They would have far less problem with mandating that organs be harvested from people that have died (with allowances for those with religious objections, say) a policy countries like Australia have already[[/note]]. Under Kantianism, you're only obligated to act on a rule that you yourself would want to be generally applied to society. Because a society where people are forced to give up body parts isn't ideal, nor exercises good will, you are under no obligation to render your meat stuff to the sick (and therefore have a right to your private property). Kantianism is independent of the consequential suffering of others and thereby Negative Responsibility. For example, say an armed gunman takes you and five other people hostage. The gunman says he'll shoot all of the other hostages except if you kill one of them yourself. As a consequence, utilitarianism might dictate that you kill one of your fellow hostages else you'll be morally wrong for letting all of the hostages die (more suffering, less happiness). Kantianism considers that the decisions of your actions and the gunman's actions are two separate entities, i.e. you're only responsible for your own actions and the gunman for his/her own. Therefore, you're under no moral obligation to murder at gunpoint, and it is the gunman who's at fault if he therefore murders the other hostages when you refuse to accept this {{sadistic choice}}.

to:

*** Contrasted with [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kantianism Kantianism]]. Kantianism above]]. Kantianism, unlike in contrast to utilitarianism, justifies rights such as private property in spite of the happiness/suffering of others. Consider for example that you currently have two kidneys. Someone in the world is surely and currently in the need of one of the kidneys you can provide right now and will only suffer and be less happy without it. Under utilitarianism, ANY action that promotes happiness and limits suffering is morally good, therefore under some interpretations there is an obligation on your part to give up your kidney by a nominally painless surgical procedure[[note]] procedure.[[note]] Most modern utilitarians reject such reasoning on the basis that, generally speaking, forcing people to give up organs makes them unhappy, and knowing a society has authorized such an invasive violation of the individual leads to less happiness overall. They would have far less problem with mandating that organs be harvested from people that have died (with allowances for those with religious objections, say) a policy countries like Australia have already[[/note]]. already.[[/note]] Under Kantianism, you're only obligated to act on a rule that you yourself would want to be generally applied to society. Because a society where people are forced to give up body parts isn't ideal, nor exercises good will, you are under no obligation to render your meat stuff to the sick (and therefore have a right to your private property). Kantianism is independent of the consequential suffering of others and thereby Negative Responsibility. For example, say an armed gunman takes you and five other people hostage. The gunman says he'll shoot all of the other hostages except if you kill one of them yourself. As a consequence, utilitarianism might dictate that you kill one of your fellow hostages else you'll be morally wrong for letting all of the hostages die (more suffering, less happiness). Kantianism considers that the decisions of your actions and the gunman's actions are two separate entities, i.e. you're only responsible for your own actions and the gunman for his/her own. Therefore, you're under no moral obligation to murder at gunpoint, and it is the gunman who's at fault if he therefore murders the other hostages when you refuse to accept this {{sadistic choice}}.
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