History UsefulNotes / Atheism

17th Apr '17 11:54:32 AM JulianLapostat
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In terms of atheism as it means today—''i.e.'', a system of ethics and philosophy drawn from science and empiricism which is non-supernatural—the Greek Sophists and Atomists were more important. They were the ones who started criticizing Greek myths as merely elaborate fabrications of Kings and Emperors raised to Gods. They also started describing the natural world using language stripped of metaphors. To them, Greek myths and its multiple gods were merely anthropomorphized representations of natural phenomena and fancy metaphors. The philosopher Theodoros of Cyrene even exposed the Elusinian MysteryCult and criticized religion as largely a money-making scam in terms that are fairly modern. This more skeptical worldview can also be seen in the plays of Creator/{{Euripides}}, roughly contemporary to these changes. He was often accused by critics of lacking in piety; in his plays, gods and Greek heroes are often depicted in down-to-earth fashion, speaking everyday language, as opposed to the more religious plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles. Epicurus, who was inspired by these writers, charted out the first coherent materialist ideology. Although Epicurus acknowledged the existence of gods, by describing the problem of evil, he stated that if the Gods existed, then it was unlikely that human suffering mattered to such beings, and that it made little sense organizing life and ethics [[BlueAndOrangeMorality based on a morality]] alien to humanity. He also denied the existence of an afterlife and stressed the importance and vitality of the visible world.

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In terms of atheism as it means today—''i.e.'', a system of ethics and philosophy drawn from science and empiricism which is non-supernatural—the Greek Sophists and Atomists were more important. They were the ones who started criticizing Greek myths as merely elaborate fabrications of Kings and Emperors raised to Gods. They also started describing the natural world using language stripped of metaphors. To them, Greek myths and its multiple gods were merely anthropomorphized representations of natural phenomena and fancy metaphors. The philosopher Theodoros of Cyrene even exposed the Elusinian MysteryCult and criticized religion as largely a money-making scam in terms that are fairly modern. This more skeptical worldview can also be seen in the plays of Creator/{{Euripides}}, roughly contemporary to these changes. He was often accused by critics of lacking in piety; in his plays, gods and Greek heroes are often depicted in down-to-earth fashion, speaking everyday language, as opposed to the more religious plays of Aeschylus and Sophocles. Epicurus, who was inspired by these writers, charted out [[UsefulNotes/{{Epicureanism}} the first coherent materialist ideology.ideology]]. Although Epicurus acknowledged the existence of gods, by describing the problem of evil, he stated that if the Gods existed, then it was unlikely that human suffering mattered to such beings, and that it made little sense organizing life and ethics [[BlueAndOrangeMorality based on a morality]] alien to humanity. He also denied the existence of an afterlife and stressed the importance and vitality of the visible world.
26th Mar '17 5:21:20 AM Fallingwater
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** In a similar vein, most atheists will not make a conscious effort to avoid religious exclamations that have long been a cultural norm, such as "oh my god!", "hell no", et cetera.
26th Mar '17 5:15:16 AM Fallingwater
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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.

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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 worshipped to consider.



** And some also assert that proving any kind of god wouldn't mean automatic conversion, as there are still the questions like: "Is this god worthy of worship?" Is (s)he [[GodIsGood good]], or [[GodIsEvil some of]] the [[TheGodsMustBeLazy other alternatives]]? "Does (s)he even [[StopWorshippingMe want]] to be worshiped?" etc.

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** And some also assert that proving any kind of god wouldn't mean automatic conversion, as there are still the questions like: "Is this god worthy of worship?" Is (s)he [[GodIsGood good]], or [[GodIsEvil some of]] the [[TheGodsMustBeLazy other alternatives]]? "Does (s)he even [[StopWorshippingMe want]] to be worshiped?" worshipped?" etc.
26th Mar '17 5:01:28 AM Fallingwater
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** People with problems in modern society, even ones who call themselves believers, will necessarily consult therapists or psychologists, family and friends, form communities based on shared interests. Charitable works and political causes, as well as human rights problems, are the domain of government watch-dogs, rights group, UN and [=NGOs=]. Art and architecture are no longer patronized by the Church. This argument essentially sees religion in need of solving existential questions to justify its function, rather than atheists having to do so. Its become possible in developed European nations to go through life without really thinking deeply or meaningful about religion, to the point that citizens don't even feel the need to call themselves "atheist" since the word only has force in a context of inter-faith disputes, which have little value when the believers are so few.

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** People with problems in modern society, even ones who call themselves believers, will necessarily consult therapists or psychologists, family and friends, form communities based on shared interests. Charitable works and political causes, as well as human rights problems, are the domain of government watch-dogs, rights group, UN and [=NGOs=]. Art and architecture are no longer patronized by the Church. This argument essentially sees religion in need of solving existential questions to justify its function, rather than atheists having to do so. Its It has become possible in developed European nations to go through life without really thinking deeply or meaningful meaningfully about religion, to the point that citizens some don't even feel the need to call define themselves "atheist" as atheists since the word only has force in a context of inter-faith disputes, which have little value when the believers are so few.
30th Jan '17 9:15:05 PM DigaagWaRiz
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** [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Utilitarianism Utilitarianism]] (in a nutshell, [[ForHappiness happiness good, suffering bad. More specifically, they advocate the greatest good for the greatest number).

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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).
17th Jan '17 7:20:17 AM TheWhistleTropes
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** Second, "atheism" is more on the level of "monotheism" or "polytheism" than "Christian" or "Sikh". It tells you how many gods the person believes in (zero) without telling you anything about what they precisely believe about the world or which rules they live by beyond that.

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** Second, "atheism" is more on the level of "monotheism" or "polytheism" than "Christian" or "Muslim", or "Hindu" or "Sikh". It tells you how many gods the person believes in (zero) without telling you anything about what they precisely believe about the world or which rules they live by beyond that.
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.
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