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RobinZimm
topic
10:37:37 AM Jun 16th 2014
edited by 96.255.225.223
I had an idea to rewrite the beginning using responses to the God-question as a conceit; any reactions to the following?

(Note: the note says, "According to Vivekananda, the attainment of moksha—salvation—does not actually require belief in a God at all, but it is usually regarded as making the process easier, particularly in the beginning.")


To begin with common usage, the 1913 edition of Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary defines 'atheist' as "One who disbelieves or denies the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being." Definitions of this kind are generally accepted, with one important caveat: that 'disbelief' be read as the absence of a positive belief, not the presence of the negative belief. In other words, by this definition, an atheist is anyone whose answer to "Does at least one god exist?" is not "yes". For example, atheists may include:

  • People who have never been exposed to theistic ideas (for example, infants). The "I've never heard of those" position accords well with the etymology of the word—'a-theism', 'without god'—but isn't what people usually talk about when they say 'atheist'. The technical term for this is 'implicit' atheism.
  • People who have heard of gods without believing they exist ('explicit' atheists), and who actually deny their existence. These people—the ones who would say, "No, there aren't any gods"—are called 'strong' or 'positive' atheists.
  • People who have heard of gods but are undecided whether they exist. These who would say, "Gods may exist, but they may not" are called 'weak' or 'negative' atheists.
  • People who disbelieve the existence of gods, but prefer other labels. The best known of these is 'agnostic' (roughly, "I don't know if they exist or not"), but others include 'apatheist' ("I don't care if they exist"), 'antitheist' ("Gods don't exist, and believing in them is harmful"), 'theological noncognitivist' ("Words like 'God' don't mean anything"), and 'non-religious' (which is a label used by people all over the spectrum, including some theists).
  • People who adhere to any of the several religions whose tenets include no gods (for example, Buddhism and Jainism), or a religion that openly allows for atheistic practitioners (for example, Hinduism).note  Depending on your definition, pantheism ("There is one God, and that is the entire Universe") can also be theology held by atheists; certainly some atheists revere the natural world in a religious sense of the word.
Eagal
09:53:13 PM Jun 16th 2014
Regarding etymology, etymonline sez: from French athéisme, from Greek atheos, from a- ‘without’ + theos ‘god.’

Strong/Weak/Positive/Negative Atheism sounds like elitist douchebaggery.

Overall seems like mostly wording changes. Can't say I'm particularly for or against it. Don't see anything wrong with the way it is now, but if you wanna change it I won't stop you.
Eagal
topic
12:22:37 PM Dec 29th 2013
edited by 71.97.59.41
  • Statler: Do you believe that God exists?
    Waldorf: Yes I do. Trouble is, I sometimes wonder if he believes any of us exist.
    Statler: Do you really think he would WANT to?
    Both: Do-ho-ho-ho-hoh!

I pulled this before and brought it up in the Statler and Waldorf discussion page. maybe it will fare better here.

The joke has nothing to do with Atheism. If the page must be ruined by this meme, can it at least be relevant to the subject? Can we not come up with a "clever" joke regarding Atheism?

P.S. Crazy coincidence, it was almost exactly a year ago that I pulled it before. What are the odds?

petrus4
topic
07:03:53 AM Jun 3rd 2013
This article is extremely sympathetic, to the point where I would consider it biased.

I take particular exception to the repeated insistence that the sole definition of atheism is a lack of positive belief in deities. The reality is that in many cases, particularly online, atheism is a subculture as much as any other, and has a tendency to cluster with other specific political and economic positions, accordingly.
RobinZimm
12:38:42 PM Jun 3rd 2013
The point about the Internet atheist subculture is a very good one — I wouldn't propose changing the definition, but there are a lot of Useful Notes that could go in a section discussing the particular ... foibles of that Vocal Minority.
editerguy
08:22:48 PM Jul 25th 2013
So you think it should be unsympathetic? Should we make the useful notes on religion unsympatheti too, to avoid bias? This is really a meaningless argument in my view.
Rahkshi500
03:36:04 PM Aug 6th 2013
edited by 216.99.32.42
The point is that it's shows some favoritism towards this article, and if not, it still looks like it. This article on atheism still has a section of Myths & Misconceptions about atheists that it tries to refute and to this day it gets an update or two, yet other articles, like the Christianity article for example had a Myths & Misconception section as well that refutes many misconceptions thrown at Christians and are still throw at Christians from people outside of TV Tropes, but for a long time the Myths & Misconception section for the Christianity article had been removed for no rhyme or reasons.

Does this mean that someone here who is sympathetic and supportive of this Atheist article is responsible for that? Of course not. But it does entail that this site, which is suppose to be sympathetic, supportive, and informative of the Useful Notes articles is not living up to what it's suppose to be doing.
jate88
topic
11:07:05 AM Mar 5th 2013
edited by jate88
On the other wiki. It says that when evolutionary supporters are presented with the claim that evolution is a religion they point out that this is an argument by analogy and having one or a couple things in common doesn't make them the same.

Evolutionary supporters also point out that creationists are equivocating between the strict definition and colloquial definitions of religion and that religion isn't defined by how dogmatic or zealous one is but by spiritual or supernatural beliefs.

Can parallels be drawn to atheism?

RobinZimm
02:51:35 PM Mar 5th 2013
I'm not sure what kind of an edit you're proposing.
RobinZimm
topic
08:43:29 PM Jul 28th 2012
edited by RobinZimm
Samadhir brings up a really good point about the current introduction to the definition with regards to that Pew survey with the 21% of God-believing atheists:

So, we're supposed to let atheists speak for and define themselves, but not when it conflicts with what a "true atheist" should be?

Right now? My answer is no. But I think the reason for that requires that the section be edited. So: Samadhir, others, what do you think of the following to replace that paragraph?

The laziest possible definition would be to say that "atheists are people who declare themselves to be atheists", and there is a lot to recommend that definition — but that definition is inadequate in a number of major ways. The most important of these is reflected in the Pew survey which found 21% of atheists believe in God. Thus, to say an atheist is all those and only those who identify as atheists, while valid from a social perspective, is profoundly unsatisfying even from an etymological viewpointnote , much less a philosophical one.

(Note reads: a = "not", theist = "god-affiliated".)
Madcapunlimited
topic
11:29:47 AM Apr 13th 2012
Left brain bias in atheists not mentioned?
Madcapunlimited
11:30:48 AM Apr 13th 2012
The more I look around the more I see there are dogmas and enforced ideologies on this site— even if in only a subtle manner. Gross.
RobinZimm
09:51:52 PM Apr 13th 2012
I'm not familiar with the left brain bias that you mention — could you elaborate on the subject, and on why knowledge of it might be useful to readers?

As for "dogmas and enforced ideologies" ... could you elaborate on those as well? It would be better for the article to hew more closely to verifiable truth where possible, and I know that my own perspective is quite limited.
jate88
07:25:32 PM Apr 27th 2012
I have gotten the impression this site leans to the left on the political spectrum. Maybe that's what they're talking about.
RobinZimm
09:11:41 PM Apr 27th 2012
Possibly - that doesn't tell me what to change, though.
LordGro
11:39:25 PM Apr 27th 2012
@Madcapunlimitied & jate88: TV Tropes is not a political site. It doesn't lean anywhere.
RobinZimm
08:44:09 PM Apr 28th 2012
@Lord Gro: Officially, no. In practice? Everyone writes from some set of basic assumptions, and anyone who disagrees with an assumption made by the writers of a page is going to say it leans.

Which nevertheless does not tell me what to change. Or if it even needs changing.
LordGro
08:41:52 AM Apr 29th 2012
edited by LordGro
To be absolutely precise: TV Tropes officially takes certain political stances. Like, say, "no racism". Or abstinence from endorsing any religion. That's political, though I wonder into which direction such policies "lean" (left or right). But there you have it.

Apart from that: If you think something on the wiki has a bias of any sort (political or not), you can always take initiative to get it removed or changed yourself. Options:
  • Rewrite it and leave an edit reason.
  • Make a TRS.
  • Make a forum thread.
  • Make a query on Ask The Tropers.
  • Or state your criticism on the discussion page to see what others think. But for that to have any sense, you will have to phrase your criticism in a specific (what exactly is wrong?) and constructive (what should be done?) way.

Accusing this site of "dogmas and enforced ideologies" either means that someone cannot identify with TV Tropes official stances like those I named above; OR is testament to the misconception that TV Tropes has some kind of hidden government with a secret agenda that monitors every line of the wiki daily.

However, the content of the wiki is provided by contributors, who may or may not be subject to bias, and if something on the wiki is biased, then it most likely represents the bias of the specific contributor who wrote it.

Accusing "the wiki" of "bias", "dogmas and enforced ideologies" is just ridiculous and childish. If Madcapunlimited would have the page changed, he would either make these changes himself, or actually say what is (in his eyes) wrong. As he does neither (and I bet he won't), there's nothing to discuss.
RobinZimm
10:27:30 AM Apr 29th 2012
Agreed.
Stoogebie
topic
08:26:47 AM Apr 5th 2012
edited by Stoogebie
"...the Pew survey which found 21% of atheists believe in God".

Well...then how the hell are they even atheists?

EDIT: I read the above entry post, but it still confuses me. The term "atheist" means "one who does not believe in a God" ("a" meaning "no" or "lack", "theos" meaning "deity"). Wouldn't it be easier to call these "atheists who believe in God" agnostic; as in, they're at least "pretty sure" there's a Supreme/higher being, but they can't pinpoint who or what, or maybe just don't want to bother paying tribute to one.
Blork
09:13:26 AM Apr 5th 2012
Any survey like this has some danger of attracting a) idiots who don't read the questions properly, and b) trolls who give deliberately stupid answers. 21% still seems a bit high for this though, so I suspect the most likely explanation is that they're using some rather dubious personal definition of "atheist", maybe deciding that since they believe in a god but don't follow any specific religion that makes them an atheist.

This sort of thing does tend to happen with people holding on to labels without really thinking about them - looking at the other side, the Richard Dawkins Foundation recently did a survey of people who called themselves Christian in the 2011 UK census and got results such as 12% don't consider themselves religious at all, 6% don't belive in god (plus another 32% with a fairly woolly definition of "god"), only 44% believe Jesus was the son of god, and only 28% said they called themselves Christian because they believed in the teachings of the religion.
SquigPie
10:46:26 AM Aug 29th 2012
Those sound like some seriously stupid surveys.
RobinZimm
topic
09:25:10 AM Feb 1st 2012
edited by RobinZimm
I've been having a discussion with jate88 over PM about which definition of "atheism" should be endorsed by the page, and this got me thinking about rewriting the introduction of the article a bit. Does anyone have comments on the following introduction? (Most of the text of the current introduction would be preserved — this goes in front.)


The first question to be resolved when discussing atheism is the basic one: what is an atheist?

This is actually a bit trickier than you might suppose. The laziest possible definition would be to say that "an atheist is someone who declares themself to be an atheist", and there is a lot to recommend that definition, but that definition is inadequate in a number of major ways. The most important of these is reflected in the Pew survey which found 21% of atheists believe in God. We could go on and claim that 23% of virgins have had sex and 21% of dead people are still alive, but it seems wiser to consider other possibilities.

The second-laziest option is to check a dictionary. The 1913 edition of Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary offers this: "One who disbelieves or denies the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being." Again, this is a definition with much to recommend it — but it excludes quite a lot of professed atheists, and not just from the 10% that pray at least once a week, but people like Richard Dawkins.

The third-laziest option is to ask members of the atheist community. This has problems of its own, but it shares the advantages of both the previous methods: we are still allowing atheists to define themselves, but with the caveat that the definition must be in some sense rational. The only major disadvantage to keep in mind is that the definition they have come up with is fairly broad, and a goodly number of those included in its span would object to being called "atheists".
jate88
02:36:53 PM Feb 1st 2012
Works for me.
jate88
topic
01:28:21 AM Dec 8th 2011
edited by jate88
Atheists will often point out that we each build our own morality regardless of our religious standings. This can be argued on two points:

Wouldn't a third point be that even if theists do prove a moral code needs to be biult into the physics of the universe they're still just guessing if holy books and hearsay are all they're going by?
jate88
topic
11:22:41 PM Dec 5th 2011
(It must be noted, of course, that the idea that the religious act out of a fear of hell is largely a strawman — in most cases, like atheists, religious people will do moral acts simply because it's the "right" thing to do.)

While this is true once religious people make this reply they're probably still not going to understand how an atheist can have a moral code.
AsteroftheGruntled
topic
11:43:20 PM Dec 2nd 2011
As an Agnostic, I would prefer not to be characterized, as this page does, as a Soft Athiest. My position on diety and the supernatural, that the existence of same is unknown and may be unknowable, is not the same as a lack of belief, any more than it is the same as a belief. It's hardly fair to take such a broad and intellectually legitimate world view (more especially, this wiki has only a short, perfunctory page on Agnosticism) and treat it as nothing more than Atheism's "little, redheaded stepbrother".
jate88
11:21:04 PM Dec 5th 2011
edited by jate88
You're right. Those aren't same thing but they're not mutually exclusive either. Just like it's possible for someone to be both your brother and a red head you can be both an atheist and an agnostic.

As for why the agnosticism page is so short I think it's because that page is plagued with edit wars
Azkyroth
topic
12:33:01 AM Nov 25th 2011
"Liberal theologians often complain that atheists don't talk about their religion - that atheists instead mock a caricature based on a shallow understanding of their holy texts."

...worth noting, I think, that when atheists do take liberal theologians to task directly, they often get called out for being jerkasses to people who are basically in moral agreement with them, and told they should focus on people whose beliefs are more overtly harmful instead. Damned if you do, damned if you don't....
Samadhir
09:14:41 PM Jun 28th 2012
edited by Samadhir
Yes, those rascally religionists are such a nuisance, aren't they?
MajinGojira
topic
09:00:44 AM Nov 17th 2011
edited by MajinGojira
Alright, this thread is for the discussion of Creationist-like concepts withing the umbrella of Atheism.

Given it's broad nature, Atheism can include subsets of both Buddhism, Chinese ancestor Worship, and Alien belief systems. Just as the word "Theism" covers all religions that believe in a god or gods. It is within these subsets, some of which are defined as their own religions, that such concepts exist. They believe in spirits or other skyward entities which act as the supernatural agents defined as Gods in other religions. They also often believe in a form of life after death, making them more religious.

The short thing is: it's a complex issue, but it's better covered under their own headings rather than here.

Further, conflating these ideas with Panspermia and similar ideas is intellectually dishonest.
RobinZimm
09:59:53 AM Nov 17th 2011
That's a strong point.
RobinZimm
topic
08:52:20 PM Apr 18th 2011
edited by RobinZimm
I have excised the following bullet point from the main page:

  • There is the belief that atheism is indeed a religion, a religion that there is no god. This is based on the fact that atheists center their world view around the concept of no god (the same as theists place their values around god) as well as how atheists practice, express and defend their beliefs with all the fervor of those who do attend places of worship, which is a definition so worthless as to encompass any hardcore fan of any fandom as a religious person. Religion is not defined by fanaticism.

The problem with this point in the current page is that the page asserts that atheism constitutes the absence of one belief — not an entire belief system. There are atheist religions — the page mentions these — and there are evangelical, affirmative, positive atheists in the Western Enlightenment tradition — the page mentions these as well — but there is no canon of belief which constitutes such a label. The Daniel Smartt article linked does not change these facts.

An enlargement on secular humanism would be appropriate, of course. But let's not confuse labels.
thedragoness
09:34:36 PM Apr 18th 2011
What's being said here is that atheism, the concept that there is no god, is very similar to religion in how atheists center their morals and beliefs around no god, the same as theists base it around their chosen deity. This is not a bad thing, I stress, simply addressing how the two are Not So Different and is something I would very much like expressed on the page in some way.
SchizoTechnician
07:52:45 AM Apr 19th 2011
edited by SchizoTechnician
As the page says, atheism is a religion in the same way that theism is a religion. Saying Atheism is a single school of thought is like saying Catholicism and Aztec Huizilpoctli Worship are the same religion.
Malchus
08:21:22 AM Apr 19th 2011
edited by Malchus
Quoted from thedragoness: What's being said here is that atheism, the concept that there is no god, is very similar to religion in how atheists center their morals and beliefs around no god, the same as theists base it around their chosen deity.

No they do not. The concept that there is no god is the primary feature of atheism, but atheistic morals and beliefs are not centered around that feature. They are often based on ethical and philosophical systems that exist apart from atheism. Secular humanism, for example, is not atheism. There are plenty of religious, agnostic, and atheistic people who subscribe to secular humanism since—if you'll note the features of it that were listed down—secular humanism says nothing about the existence of god. It merely espouses the need to test beliefs, and testing their own beliefs is hardly a purely atheist trait.

Theism does because, often, the central deity in theism proclaims some sort of moral code its followers are supposed to follow. Abrahamic religions, for example, have the Word of God as encoded in religious texts. It's a central tenet that those words, while written by people, are divine in origin.

But in atheism, there is no central deity. There's nothing to giving them instructions. So how can they base their beliefs on something that isn't there?
thedragoness
09:36:33 PM Apr 19th 2011
So saying that religion and atheism are Not So Different carries about as much weight as saying religion is responsible for all the problems in the world?
Malchus
05:20:42 AM Apr 21st 2011
edited by 112.202.27.133
You can say that certain people themselves may be Not So Different, whatever they do or do not believe in. To make a sweeping generalization of atheism and religion being exactly similar except in that one has a god and one doesn't, however, is as faulty as a lot of sweeping generalizations are.
SuiCaedere
05:23:16 PM Jul 19th 2011
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and moral values. Atheism is simply the absence of belief that any deities exist. And yet again we go, "calling atheism a religion is like calling bald a hair color", etc.
nuclearneo577
topic
08:02:50 PM Mar 27th 2011
This is unlocked? Oh my god...
Malchus
06:22:25 AM Apr 11th 2011
Yeah. Here's hoping nothing happens that results in this page getting re-locked.
KrisMahai
01:35:13 PM Apr 11th 2011
It's been fine so far, and it's been unlocked at least two or so weeks.
nuclearneo577
10:44:52 AM Apr 19th 2011
If its been fine for a few weeks, it should stay fine.
RobinZimm
topic
08:31:12 AM Dec 25th 2010
Atheism Myths has been edited, all have been folderized. Comments welcome.
MajinGojira
06:57:01 AM Dec 26th 2010
I think it's an improvement.
zorbik
11:15:10 PM Jun 8th 2011
Still pretty snarky.
66Scorpio
topic
06:43:51 PM Dec 24th 2010
edited by 66Scorpio
A decent article but it runs into definitional problems within the first few paragraphs. Atheism, is "literally" and not "broadly" defined as a lack of belief in gods. The catch phrase "a lack of belief" has its own bit of intellectual mischief as some people try to improperly blur the difference between the passive from the active, ambivalence and choice. Similarly, there is a difference between knowing, not knowing and not caring, but that is not given a balanced consideration.

Someone who "knows" or "believes" that there is no God and no gods is definitely an atheist proper. Those who don't know are - literally - agnostic. Those who don't care are not merely atheistic, but aphilosophical or ametaphysical, and to claim to care about philosophical questions while not caring about the question of god is simply inconsistent or incoherent. "Weak atheism" is effectively agnosticism.

As a matter of pure semantics, many atheists are in fact agnostics as are many people that self-described atheists describe, in turn, as atheists. "Implicit atheists" is used but the more proper term is "Inferred Atheists" because babies and space aliens can't imply anything if they have no knowledge of the concept under consideration; observers infer it from their behaviour. Oddly, inferential reasoning is not much appreciated in some circles.

On a more practical level - more "broadly" speaking - the literal definition of atheism is not that instructive because, as pointed out, Buddhists and other religious groups meet that literal definition, but no reasonable person would describe them as atheists, nor would they describe themselves as such.

The reality is that most self-described atheists are metaphysical naturalists and by the definitions of their own world view, there can be no "gods".

Where the paradox and cognitive dissonance comes up is that procedural naturalism assumes that there is only the material world and only natural explanations for all observed phenomena. That is the basis of science, and it has worked out pretty good overall. The difference is that metaphysical naturalism is not merely an assumption, but a belief that science can explain everything; and consequently, anything not explained scientifically is either wrong or irrelevant.

The thing is, the existence of God is not a scientific proposition but rather a metaphysical proposition, the truth of which can neither be proved or disproved by imperical inquiry. Science has nothing to say on the existence of God, although a lack of scientific proof is what many atheists (Ricky Gervais recently) cite as their reason. That is not, strictly, logical.

Either you believe there is a god or you believe there is no god. If you have no belief, you are more properly an agnostic, not an atheist. Similarly, people who don't care are not atheists. Religious beliefs that do not include gods are not atheistic in any practical sense. It has been pointed out that atheism is not a religion, but then those people who obviously form a religion can't be called atheists.

That's why in objective polls only a few percentage points of the population are counted as atheists while in other polls they can juice the numbers up to 10%, 20% or more.

It's all fine and well, but you really have to figure out what you belive in, if anything, before you attach labels to yourself and others.
MajinGojira
07:44:05 PM Dec 24th 2010
edited by MajinGojira
I think that's an interesting tidbit, but they are still considered different religions (in that they deal with continuation of the consciousness after death), while Atheism is not. I'll bring up a quote from Aron Ra's excellent "Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism" series:

"A religion is not just any ol’ thing you happen to believe, and its not just anything you believe strongly either. Every belief-system which is commonly accepted as a religion by both its adherents and its critics -is a doctrine of ritual traditions, ceremonies, mythology, and the associated dogma of faith-based belief systems which all include the idea that some element of ‘self’ (be it a soul or portion of consciousness, or memories, etc.) may, in some sense, continue beyond the death of the physical being. This applies to every religion and only to religion, but doesn’t apply to evolution or atheists either, unless they happen to be Druids or Shaman or one of those other religions which don’t happen to include gods.

"Some Buddhists believe in a god and some don’t. Some traditional Chinese beliefs are the same way. Not all religions have creative deities, but every religion must propose something paranormal, beyond tangible existence which they believe we’ll experience after we die. You can’t posit something like that without faith, and if you don’t have faith, you can’t have religion.

"And when creationists complain about atheists, they’re not talking about Buddhists or Shaman. They’re referring to material empirical rationalists, people they know don’t have any faith in anything supernatural at all –which only makes their lie [that evolution is the religion of Atheism] that much more brazen."

And that's what this article primarily deals with.

I'll also say this: If it is a part of this universe, it is by that definition a natural phenomenon and subject to scientific inquiry. God or gods presumably interact with this universe (based on what information is given about them) and thus, are part of it and thus natural.

As far as Atheism is concerned there are no metaphysics to deal with. It is interacts meaningfully at all with this universe it is subject to study.

Further, Atheism's system of belief's is as set as Theism's set of beliefs. It has one or two defining traits and that's it. Many different philosophies have been taken up by Atheists to guide how they deal with life—Secular Humanist, Absurdist, etc. And even getting a group of atheists to agree is akin to herding cats. They tend to be ones to make their own decisions about everything and they don't always agree.
RobinZimm
08:02:47 PM Dec 24th 2010
edited by RobinZimm
I've just edited the introduction — please give your opinion on that. I think I have a number of disagreements with you, however:

  • If you ask communities of atheists, or prominent atheist intellectuals like Richard Dawkins, I think you'll find that "atheism" is taken in the sense described on this page: lack of belief. Agnosticism is orthogonal to atheism — I've met agnostic theists online, and gnostic atheists.

  • The fact that a Buddhist would not say, "Hi, I'm an atheist" is as relevant as the fact that a Christian will not say, "Hi, I'm a monotheist." Atheism is a class of religious belief systems, not a religious belief system.

  • Whether the existence of God is a metaphysical question or not doesn't bother a lot of atheists.

    People who base their beliefs on evidence generally don't mind being proven wrong, and will be the first to admit their ignorance, but extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If you make a convincing argument for the universe having a "first cause", an atheist would ask you how you know that that cause was intelligent, that it still exists now, and so on. Declaring that something is beyond the reach of science is not only obscenely arrogant (just because you can't think of a way to test it...), it disarms you of almost every argument that an atheist would consider relevant.

  • If I said, "Either you believe my middle name is Hamilton or you believe it is not Hamilton", would you agree? Of course not! You have no way of knowing if that is my middle name, and until you find out, you are rightly unsure. The same with the existence of gods.

Edit: Ninja'd — thanks, Majin Gojira!
zorbik
10:56:47 PM Dec 24th 2010
Much better. I'd still like to see "Atheism Myths" go, though - with the clarified introduction it's even more redundant now - and the rest should still be folderized.
66Scorpio
06:17:15 AM Dec 25th 2010
edited by 66Scorpio
The edit is good but the primary thrust of my post was to point out that many self-described atheists and many described by self-described atheists are agnostic rather than atheists.

Richard Dawkins is an excellent scientist but, and maybe there is a trope for this, he fails logic completely and fails philosophy completely. Hitchens is much more readable and Dennett has a better, less cartoonish, argument to make.

But this is the problem that I wanted to address: the way atheists describe themselves and classify others is not supportable semantically nor philosophically. There may be some political motivation (I recall reading a libertarian website where they claimed that some unreasonable percentage of the population were libertarians based on their own survey). There might also be personal issues to redefine terms so that 20% rather than 1% of the rest of humanity are in the same boat. The term "agnostic" can be taken in terms of any lack of knowledge on any subject. An "agnostic theist" believes in gods but doesn't have their issues sorted out about which gods they believe in. And the term "gnostic" has a whole new set of meanings that we have not touched on.

Yes, technically, you have theists and atheists, monotheists and polytheists, and then guys like Buddhists in contrast to those who describe themselves as atheists. The taxonomy is intricately related to the semantics. For me it is more important to respect how terms are used - or misused - in everyday language. I find that self-described atheists tend to misuse language for collateral purposes.

Regarding "evidence" and such, you seem to miss the point. There is a massive body of evidence for the supernatural, but none that is accepted by "science". Law, for instance, is not scientific at its core. It relies primarily on the evience of people and their observations. It is not "obscenely arrogant" to say that "something is beyond the reach of science" but rather the reverse: it is rather arrogant to think that science can answer all questions.

I am agnostic rather than "anominal" regarding your middle name. I have no opinon regading your middle name, but I have no rational basis to say that middle names do not exist. The same rules should apply with gods and people should be honest in that they are agnostic rather than atheist.

There is the universe and then there is reality. What is subject to scientific inquiry might - but probably not - encompass the universe but it certainly does not encompasss all of reality.

BTW: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

PS: I'm not religious
MajinGojira
06:39:25 AM Dec 25th 2010
There is a massive body of evidence for the supernatural, but none that is accepted by "science". Law, for instance, is not scientific at its core.

And Law varies from culture to culture while science does not waver as greatly (not as little as math wavers, mind you), making it the more universal than any argument based on law. I mean, hell, in Law, eyewitness testimony is important whilst in scientific circles, it is considered the least reliable to the point where Scientists have conducted experiments pointing out its unreliability over time.

That you drop the second part of what science does is extremely telling. It experiments and thus rules out any personal bias by telling others "this is how I reached that conclusion—don't believe me? Try it yourself and see that I'm right".

And a scientist needs that to survive the hellish Peer Review process.

It relies primarily on the evi[d]ence of people and their observations. It is not "obscenely arrogant" to say that "something is beyond the reach of science" but rather the reverse: it is rather arrogant to think that science can answer all questions.

The thing is—it DOESN'T. Science is just a method of trying to understand this world. It's given us some really good answers, but not all of them and we KNOW this. You seem to be operating under the mistaken impression that science is an answer. It's is a questioning methodology that gives us some hard to refute answers.

If science had all the answers it would quite frankly stop.
66Scorpio
06:45:43 AM Dec 25th 2010
Faith, morality and such are very personal - and non-scientiic - things.

The biggest fault with science is that it cannot measure a "should". It can give us information about how the physical world acts and reacts but it provides absolutely no guidance as to how humans can best use that knowledge.
MajinGojira
07:11:16 AM Dec 25th 2010
edited by MajinGojira
Nice goal-post moving there. That you go on about morality after effectively lying is the height of irony.

You'd be surprised what psychologists, evolutionary psychologists (as flimsy as those two fields of science are) and neuro-chemists have discovered about morality and the nature of faith within the brain.

But, indeed, science doesn't directly address morality and such, which is why many atheists adopt different, already mentioned philosophies such as Humanism, Absurdism and Existentialism, which do say what a human "should" do.

What else you got?
66Scorpio
07:15:55 AM Dec 25th 2010
edited by 66Scorpio
So how did I move the goal posts?

Scientists are still trapped within their own paradigm.

And I do have a somewhat specious yet otherwise irrefutable hypothesis that the existence of God is 63.212% likely.
MajinGojira
08:06:37 AM Dec 25th 2010
You went from trying to say that the evidence for the supernatural went unnoticed by science to saying that Faith and Morality were beyond the notice of science after I refuted the former.

And the rest of your latest post exposes you for the Troll you are.

Goodbye Troll.
66Scorpio
10:30:18 PM Dec 25th 2010
You didn't refute anything and that is not what I said. Sayonara
MajinGojira
06:54:42 AM Dec 26th 2010
edited by MajinGojira
Doesn't matter if you think I didn't refute with my counter argument, you did not provide a counter to what I provided and moved on like nothing happened. You conceded the arguments with your silence and failure to counter or even mention by token instance that you displeased with the counters.

You really have no idea how to argue at all.
66Scorpio
01:29:23 AM Dec 31st 2010
Yes, science does not really vary from culture to culture, but that misses my point. Law is not totally scientific but neither is theololgy or metaphysics or whatever parts of philosophy are left over from those. Since "natural philosophy" went its own way and became what we now call "science", philosophy has been largely a non-scientific endeavor.

I happen to be quite aware that eyewitness testimony is pretty wonky. They call it "anecdotal evidence" and science, including harder, right-leaning social sciences, don't accept it.

But getting back to transcendental revalation: it isn't something that can be repeated with scientific precision.

And yes, science does not explain everything. By your own words it is a method of trying to understand this world. That is procedural naturalism. It is a method. If you actually think it is all there is, then you are into metaphysical naturalism.

My friend, it isn't me that has to look at what I am saying but you, as you seem to agree with me on every substantial point but then disagree in the result.

The nitty gritty of science is the scientific method which requires repeatable results and deductive reasoning. The earlier processes include observation and inductive reasoning and the creation of hypothesis. These are all done in other forms of philosophy but they cannot follow through with the latter stages that science do because the questions do not concern physical properties, or else it is terribly impractical or ghastly immoral to do so.

To rehash, inductive reasoning is not conclusive to scientific principles, anecdotal evidence is not scientifically acceptable unless repeatable.

But the biggest thing is that scientists always want to know more and either assume or believe a natural cause for all phenomena.

If I say that this girl has a beautiful face there will be many scientists that will take measurements of my brain and her face to try and figure out why I said that. Some will merely assume that there is a scientific explanation because that assumption has worked in the past, but some will truly believe that science and only science can provide an explanation for that.

There is a difference.

And I certainly know how to argue better than you, or most people for that matter.

RobinZimm
05:48:18 AM Dec 31st 2010
Do you guys want to start a forum thread or something? This doesn't look to me like it will immediately lead to a revision of the page.
Drolyt
10:48:22 PM Jan 4th 2011
On the definition of atheism: there is actually some controversy here. Atheists and theists (and agnostics I suppose) respectively cherry pick definitions to suit their needs. For what it is worth, philosophers generally define the various terms thusly (can't promise I haven't made any mistakes, but I believe I am correct): atheism is the lack of belief in a deity. Although many stretch this into a skeptical anti-religion view, the strictest definition is simply not believing in a god, and you could be otherwise religious (Buddhist for example) and believe all sorts of crazy things. There is generally a distinction between weak atheism, which is simply not believing in a god without any conviction that there isn't one, and strong atheism, where you actively believe god does not exist. Agnosticism is the claim that you do not know whether god exists. Again, strong and weak. Weak is when you claim that you yourself do not know, where strong agnosticism says no one can know. You can be an agnostic atheist or theist, or you might believe that you have evidence one way or the other. As for the limits of science, I've expressed my opinion there already. The existence of god is the realm of philosophy, and questions concerning gods nature should he exist are the realm of theology. Science simply doesn't cover such questions.
MajinGojira
06:40:40 AM Jan 5th 2011
edited by MajinGojira
The only change I'd offer to your definition, Drolyt is "belief in a god or gods" just to be totally clear and cover things like Shinto and other shamanistic practices, which has spirits in pretty much everything.

Since science deals with real world analysis, and various religions make claims that effect the real world, there should be evidence for a god or gods that can be analyzed in a scientific sense. Miracles (IE: Magic) are fundamental parts of religious practices (not based on Aliens, mind you), and if it exists at all in this world then it falls under the philosophy of science.

That's the rub of it, really. If events akin to those which occurred in The Exorsist, Ghost Busters or any other supernatural movie, TV show or book occurred in reality, the events within would easily fall within the purview of science. Ready to analyze, study and deduce what the hell just happened.

"Back off man, I'm a scientist" indeed.

If a philosophy steps into the material world, it steps into science. This is simply unavoidable. There's a reason why most philosophies that survive deal with mental constructs such as morality, sociology, philosophy itself (oh, Meta!) and other behaviors (which in and of themselves actually have material basis for some of their functionality).

Besides, Gods, spirits and the like DON'T CLAIM to exists in the realm of Philosophy. That is modern apologetics at work. Their religious texts and doctrines all claim real world influences and effects, so to claim otherwise is dishonest. The beliefs of the practitioners may now claim such as a form of goal post moving in light of progress in many areas, but the core tenants and sacred texts have not been drastically altered for several hundred years (I'd say for thousands of years, but Typeos do add up over time). To claim otherwise is dishonest.
Drolyt
05:47:31 PM Jan 8th 2011
I agree that any claims of divine intervention in the material world are susceptible to scientific inquiry, and indeed the idea of miracles has been more or less thoroughly disproven: prayer for one has been statistically shown to do nothing. This isn't surprising though, if there were miracles one would expect them to be rare, one time events, not reproducible and consequently not easily testable. Regardless, I only claim that the existence of supernatural beings is beyond scientific falsification, not their supposed interactions with the real world. That is true regardless of whether religious texts claim it to be so.
MajinGojira
07:01:29 PM Jan 8th 2011
Then we run into the Invisible Pink Unicorn problem. If by all means we can't tell it exists, then why even bother with it?
Drolyt
12:03:43 AM Jan 10th 2011
Who knows? Perhaps people are more comfortable believing in a God than not. Perhaps there is some evidence we do not possess that others do, like some sort of divine revelation, that makes people believe. By the same token, perhaps people who believe in God think there is evidence when there is not. I figure it is mostly harmless, except when you get zealots, though on the whole I don't find zealots more annoying than atheists who use their atheism as a badge of superiority. Religious zealots do seem to have a worse track record as far as killing people goes, but that is only true if a) you ignore the fact that throughout history theists have outnumbered atheists and b) don't count communists (who were largely politically motivated, but atheism is a big part of their ideology).
MajinGojira
09:02:48 AM Jan 10th 2011
That first part sounds more like a personal problem.

But on the Killing track record, even slicing things up between numbers killed religious philosophies which committed crimes against humanity and atheist philosophies which did the same you'll find an uneven distribution. The only real "large" Religion of Peace is Jainism (when they get fundamentalist and crazy, they make sure they don't step on insects), and the only real horrific Atheist institution falls under Communist Atheist. You have to look at the sources of the actions (IE: the philosophies) as well to draw any meaningful conclusions.
Drolyt
04:11:54 PM Jan 11th 2011
"You have to look at the sources of the actions (IE: the philosophies) as well to draw any meaningful conclusions." Well, so far as I know pretty much every major philosophy, religious or otherwise, tends to promote peace. Pretty much every major religion has a no killing commandment, and communism originated as a humanist philosophy, so I guess my personal take is people, not belief systems, kill other people.
MajinGojira
04:39:35 PM Jan 11th 2011
Double check those philosophies and see which of those have rules regarding war or have capital punishment as part of their moral laws/codes and explore the reasoning behind them.

It's a fascinating subject, actually. Well worth exploring.
zorbik
topic
11:42:20 AM Dec 10th 2010
Is the "Atheism Myths" section really necessary? The examples are either ridiculous ("Atheist's don't worship Satan") or over-generalizations ("Atheists aren't evangelical"). I can see why this page turned into an edit war.
RobinZimm
12:09:29 PM Dec 10th 2010
It could be compressed behind a folder, but I'd rather keep it. Many of them are very common misconceptions which it would be informative to dispell.
zorbik
02:57:36 PM Dec 14th 2010
But not all of them (who the hell thinks Athiests worship Satan?), and the page is locked.
RobinZimm
03:21:41 PM Dec 14th 2010
It has happened. It probably isn't all that common these days, being as anti-Satanism isn't all that common, but it's not a strawman.
zorbik
05:54:36 PM Dec 23rd 2010
I'd say it is a strawman. I've heard "Atheists are the tools of Satan", but not "Atheists worship Satan directly." Furthermore, claiming "Atheists do not have a bitter disposition," etc. is a ridiculous blanket statement.
SomeGuy
08:00:08 PM Dec 23rd 2010
I've put a petition on Trope Repair Shop requesting this page be unlocked. The Barack Obama page is doing fairly well, so there might be decent precedent to allow the common wiki to edit it again.
AsteroftheGruntled
11:35:21 PM Dec 2nd 2011
There are influencial Theists both in this troper's own part of the world and on the intarwebz generally who put forth *exactly* the premise that "Athiests (and Agnostics)worship Satan", and, moreover, that "Athiests and Agnostics only pretend they don't believe in God, because they are actually Satanists, doing the devil's agenda through stealth by spreading doubt among believers". Read a Chick tract. Those are not marginal points of view, either, they represent a significant ideological stream within the more Evangelical and Charismatic denominations of Christianity.
XiVXaV
topic
09:37:28 AM Nov 5th 2010
Just a quick note on a likely typo to whoever has the power to edit the page. In the "Atheism in the media" section, the point on Dawkins and such not being official representatives of atheism has a double negative, "aside from that lack of belief there's not really not much else that all atheists have in common".
67.234.22.77
topic
11:29:08 AM Nov 4th 2010
edited by 67.234.22.77
Contrary to popular opinion, atheists do not: Worship Satan: Atheists do not believe in Satan any more than they believe in God. Therefore, they cannot worship either. (Note, though, that many proclaimed "Satanists" are actually atheists, and take the label for other reasons.)

Is it worth mentioning that simply being an atheist doesn't entail lack of belief in Satan unless your definition of Satan includes that he's a god? Though most atheists don't believe in Satan either.

SchizoTechnician
11:48:33 AM Nov 4th 2010
Yes it is; there are too many religious nutjobs who equate "does not actively worship Jehova" with "worships Teh Devil!!1".
67.234.22.77
12:13:21 PM Nov 4th 2010
So it is worth mentioning or is the paragraph fine as is?
SchizoTechnician
02:26:29 PM Nov 4th 2010
Ah, misread your remark it appears . The most important part of that point is that atheists don't worship or believe in anything, and Satan is as much a thing of belief as Jehova, and it gets that across. If an "atheist" defined Satan as God and beleived in it, that person wouldn't be an a-theist but rather a theist.
67.234.22.77
06:34:51 PM Nov 4th 2010
The atheist vs theist debate and the naturalist vs supernaturalist debates are two different debates. Atheism is compatible with both naturalism and supernaturalism. Though I guess the general public probably isn't very familiar with the naturalism vs supernaturalism debate so there isn't much need to clear up any misunderstandings about it.
AsteroftheGruntled
11:27:46 PM Dec 2nd 2011
re:67.234.22.77, especially the statement: "the general public probably isn't very familiar with the naturalism vs supernaturalism debate so there isn't much need to clear up any misunderstandings about it". I would humbly suggest that that is *exactly* the reason why such misunderstandings should be clarified. Isn't the whole reason behind such an article as this to give as accurate and comprehensive a description of its subject matter (atheism) as possible?
70.166.206.135
topic
08:45:19 PM Oct 4th 2010
I am not really sure about the whole sentence "Even so, the association of Communism with irreligion is hardly perfect, as both North Korea and modern China demonstrate." I assume North Korea is refering to the cult of personality, so I get where that is coming from, but I don't entirely understand the inclusion of China. It is true that many of the common citizens are embracing religion there, but the same is true of capitalism, so I don't think they are entirely indicative of communism. Yes, now some people in the Party practice religion (though this against the Party's official stance), and in the same vein people can now have various private property rights. In fact, the growing leniency by those in power to religion mirrors the leniency toward capitalist ideas. The association between increasing religion and decreasing dogmatic communism says more about the evolution of the policies of the PRC than it does communist policies.

Moreover, I think the inclusion of China demonstrates a double standard. I hardly think that if both the Democratic and Republican Parties in the US officially considered atheism incompatible with their party, and the US government only tolerated five atheists groups (though still forbiding even them and their members from advocating for atheism), imprisoned and even tortured (sometimes to death) atheists for belonging to any other atheists groups, that atheists would give the US as a counter example to the stance that capitalism is associated with religion. Yet China has that stance towards religions and here it is as a counter example for an association between communism and irreligion.
Drolyt
topic
03:33:04 PM Sep 7th 2010
"Declaring that something is beyond the reach of science is not only obscenely arrogant (just because you can't think of a way to test it...), it disarms you of almost every argument that an atheist would consider relevant." Um, unfalsifiable philosophical questions ARE beyond the reach of Science. This is a feature of Science, not a flaw. Science is an empirical study of the natural world, and it has nothing to say on religion, metaphysics, epistemology, ethics, etc. A claim such as "there is a god" is by definition unfalsifiable and untestable, it has nothing to do with being creative and coming up with a way to test it.
173.178.246.158
03:47:11 PM Sep 7th 2010
edited by 173.178.246.158
A claim such as "there is a god" can include a generic god who doesn't want to be worshiped, or a blind idiot god who craps out universes for no reason, but that's not the kind of god that's implied whenever someone says "you can't prove God doesn't exist". They usually mean a personal god who grants wishes, and that's a testable claim. You don't get to decide where the natural world ends.
Drolyt
03:54:28 PM Sep 7th 2010
edited by Drolyt
No, the existence of a personal god that grants wishes is unfalsifiable. So is the existence of a flying spaghetti monster. By definition a claim that something exists is unfalsifiable, you could always just be looking in the wrong place. It's not about where the natural world ends, it is about where empiricism ends.
SchizoTechnician
03:57:54 PM Sep 7th 2010
Technically speaking, many gods, such as the God of the Bible are falsifiable, in that certain claims are made by their followers that can be tested. They may exist regardless, but the fact that a formal claim is disproven is usually a point against. For instance, Judaism officially claims that God punishes those who do not honor their mother and father with a shortened lifespan, something testable by measuring lifespans over a wide group and comparing respect for parental figures among the tested.
173.178.246.158
03:58:23 PM Sep 7th 2010
edited by 173.178.246.158
Have you seen this? I would consider that a fair scientific test of a religious claim.

Drolyt
04:04:10 PM Sep 7th 2010
edited by Drolyt
@Schizo Technician That is true, but does not invalidate my point. The existence, or lack thereof, of a deity is the realm of philosophy, not science. Scientific evidence may lead us one way or the other, but it cannot test the existence of a deity directly. Proving that said divinity doesn't punish people only disproves (or at least weakens the argument for) a given conception of that deity.
Drolyt
04:41:44 PM Sep 7th 2010
@173.178.246.158 That is good (but not conclusive) evidence that prayer doesn't help avoid complications associated with a specific surgery. That has no bearing on the existence of a divine being.
173.178.246.158
04:57:53 PM Sep 7th 2010
Do you believe in Russell's teapot?
Drolyt
05:02:33 PM Sep 7th 2010
@173.178.246.158 I don't claim belief in anything. I admit that I cannot prove Russell's teapot does not exist, though there are several reasons for me to suppose it does not.
173.178.246.158
05:12:49 PM Sep 7th 2010
Then what kind of "divine being" exactly are you claiming is unfalsifiable?
Drolyt
05:20:47 PM Sep 7th 2010
@173.178.246.158 What does it matter? Russell's teapot and a given divinity are equally unfalsifiable. There may be good reasons for me to suppose that they don't exist, but that doesn't change the fact that science is not equipped to answer the question definitively.
173.178.246.158
05:45:16 PM Sep 7th 2010
It matters because you want to delete the whole paragraph when a minor correction would suffice.
Drolyt
05:47:13 PM Sep 7th 2010
@173.178.246.158 What correction do you suggest?
RobinZimm
05:54:33 PM Sep 7th 2010
edited by RobinZimm
If an entity is beyond the reach of science, no evidence can adequately show that it exists. If evidence could adequately show that it existed, it would not be beyond the reach of science. And when no evidence can adequately show that it exists, atheists, by Occam's Razor, do not believe that it exists. They might not believe that it does not exist, but they will refuse to lend it credence.

There are philosophical questions outside the scope of science, but these are rare, and do not relate to the existence or nonexistence of beings. "Do numbers exist?" Sure, philosophical question, outside the scope of science. "Do fairies exist?" Within the scope of science.

Edit: I don't even see the necessity of an edit, frankly.
173.178.246.158
06:22:53 PM Sep 7th 2010
I think it's fine as it is, but if other tropers agree that it's a problem, I would only delete the last sentence. Well, that and add a pedantic little disclaimer saying you can believe in all kinds of things and still technically be an atheist.

My impression of that paragraph is that it was made to address the claim that atheists are closed-minded. We are in fact willing to consider the possibility that an unexplained phenomenon could be a god, but unwilling to jump to that conclusion, because there may be other possibilities we didn't expect. I would even go so far as to say that it's impossible to confirm a supernatural cause without having perfect knowledge of all natural causes.

This is my last post on this page. Please discuss your edit with an admin.
Drolyt
07:40:15 PM Sep 7th 2010
@Robin Zimm If an atheist refuses to believe in anything that does not have evidence, there is an awful lot they must not believe in, for example morality (quote Hume "Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger"). Believing in a divinity may be arbitrary, but Occam's Razor is equally arbitrary, and is certainly not derivable from pure reason. Can you prove to me that the simpler solution is more likely to be correct? How are we even defining simple? I mean I really don't see your point, if you don't want to believe in something you don't have evidence for that is your prerogative, the problem with the offending passage is that it suggests that matters of religion and metaphysics are within the bounds of science when they are not. This isn't a matter up for debate, ask a philosopher of science, most of whom are atheists, and they will agree science isn't meant to answer those questions. I don't know why you think you know better than them. @173.178.246.158 My impression of that paragraph was that it was condescending towards theists, as well as technically inaccurate. Also, it is technically impossible to confirm anything without perfect knowledge of all natural causes.

I'm leaving this discussion at that. I'm not going to force a change if no one agrees with me.
Ronfar
10:41:55 PM Sep 7th 2010
Interestingly, Occam's Razor does have a mathematical formulation: it's called Solomonoff induction, and defines "simpler" in terms of something called Kolmogorov complexity: a hypothesis is simpler if it can be simulated using a smaller computer program.
MajinGojira
07:02:15 AM Sep 8th 2010
Drolyt, you're showing a fundemental misunderstanding about what occam's razor does. Simple is well defined within it, and Hume's thesis is not that well supported in light of...reality.

This Explination is one of my favorites on the subject of Occam's razor.

Further, appeals to authority without citation or quotation is not exactly the strongest argument to make. In fact, it's a logical fallacy.

Finally, we don't need perfect knowledge, we just need working knowledge until more, better information comes along so we can improve our working knowledge.
RobinZimm
09:11:57 AM Sep 8th 2010
Drolyt: You are arguing that the position of atheists is incoherent or wrong, not that the text of the page is an incorrect depiction of their position. Given how many people are stepping up to defend the former, I don't think you have much grounds for denying the latter, and it is the latter which is relevant to including the passage on the page.

If you want to argue about the "obscenely", you may, but otherwise I can't see that you have any ground to stand on. Particularly since religion is disprovable.
Drolyt
10:02:54 AM Sep 8th 2010
edited by Drolyt
Perhaps my understanding of Occam's razor is shaky, I will check out those links. As for appeals to authority, you are right, but I see no other way to go about it. The definition and limits of science are man made, and since I don't particularly care to explain all the reasoning that has gone into the philosophy of science, I figure it is best to redirect you to an expert. My contention that science is evidence based and theory based, not even trying to discern ultimate truth, and therefore has nothing to say on metaphysics and religion, is simply put not up for debate. Also, it isn't that Hume's thesis isn't supported in the light of reality so much as reality isn't supported in light of Hume's thesis. We have no way of knowing that reality is correct. @Robin Zimm No, no I am not. I am claiming 2 things only: 1. the tone of that passage is confrontational and offensive to theists (removing the "obscenely" would certainly help with that) and 2. religion cannot be proven or disproven by science. If anyone took anything else from my arguments, that means only that I am bad at debate. Edit: Also, unless I am missing something big, that link doesn't really present an argument for religion being disprovable, it just kind of states it in a matter of fact way.
RobinZimm
11:13:36 AM Sep 8th 2010
Question: does anyone object to deleting "obscenely" in the relevant sentence?
anon0794
09:39:29 PM Sep 29th 2010
1. Theists, are, generally speaking, offended by anything remotely approaching a defense of atheism. (For instance, "offensive" was precisely the term used by Hillary Clinton to describe the idea that the government should not promote anti-atheist bigotry.) If we are to eliminate everything that offends theists, it would be a rather small article. As for "confrontational", isn't the very purpose of that portion of the article to, you know, CONFRONT myths about atheists?

2. As has already been pointed out, even though there are particular religious claims that are unfalsifiable, there are also religious claims that are falsifiable (and the vast majority of them have been falsified). So, then, religion consists of two types of claims: false claims, and claims deliberately designed to escape scientific inquiry. And, somehow, atheists are "close minded" for rejecting religion. I do not consider the term "obscene" to be out of line.
Drolyt
10:31:02 PM Jan 4th 2011
@anon0794 This conversation is quite old, but I never noticed this response. Anyways, 1. I am a an agnostic theist but I am not offended by defenses of atheism. Aside from this one issue I had I like the atheism page, at least insofar as it provides good information. 2. I never claimed atheists were close minded. I challenge the idea that atheists are in general more intelligent or open minded than theists, of the atheists I know personally (that is, those I know for a fact are atheists) only one is exceptionally intelligent, he is a skeptic who believes it is impossible to know anything for certain and also believes that the evidence is heavily stacked against religion, but he has no problem with religious people in general. He is probably one of the most open minded people I know. I still dislike the term obscene, and I still think there is a misunderstanding about the boundaries and limits of scientific inquiry, but I no longer see it as a big issue.
JusticeZero
topic
12:53:42 AM Aug 26th 2010
Regarding "Conversely, atheists complain that liberal theologians ignore the obvious meaning of their holy texts, and will even be heard to offer (left-handed) compliments to fundamentalists for their willingness to stand by a literal reading of the text. This is particularly aggravating because liberal theists and atheists often agree on moral and political issues, such as the separation of church and state."

The reason for this is that many atheists find philosophical and ethical hypocrisy infuriating, generally because a substantial portion of the behaviors which may irk them are in fact veiled in interpretations and rationalizations they find hypocritical. To encounter a religious person who does in fact take pains to literally follow the directives they espouse is generally a breath of fresh air, as they are then dealing with a person with a reasoned out and internally consistent worldview. While the worldview of a literalist fundamentalist is alien, it is also consistent and logical. The liberal theologians, on the other hand, are often thought to be attempting to affix religious doctrine to the beliefs they hold independent of religion, and that they are doing so in a very inconsistent way. As such, the mindset of the fundamentalist literalist is very close in certain ways to that of a scientist or scholar, and the mindset of the liberal theologians which share the general views of the average atheist is that of a chaotic, inconsistant cloudcucoolander who acts on their whimsy without any basis, and simply asserts that an all-powerful god agrees with them without justification - a very Nightmare Fuel viewpoint.
RobinZimm
07:46:55 AM Aug 26th 2010
As the writer of the section, I think I can see your point — how would you suggest that the text be edited to reflect this?
JusticeZero
08:39:04 PM Aug 26th 2010
edited by JusticeZero
Well, this might be a bit long, but..

Liberal theologians of various religions often complain that atheists do not address their religion, preferring to mock a caricature thereof based on a shallow reading of their holy texts. Conversely, atheists complain that liberal theologians ignore the obvious meaning of their holy texts, and will even be heard to offer compliments to fundamentalists for their willingness to stand by a literal reading of the text. This is particularly aggravating to the liberal theists, as atheists often agree with them on moral and political issues, such as the separation of church and state.

This is typically because atheists in general have no reason not to take the book literally. Many such holy books state explicitly that they purport to be the exact literal truth and must be accepted or rejected all of a piece, and for millenia of history, almost all believers did just that. Their interest is usually in three things: First, checking if the account is factually correct; second, judging the religion described in a given holy text; and finally, attempting to reconcile the actions and views of the religion as presented with the actions and views of the religion as dictated by their holy text. None of these motives provides a reason to interpret an account as myth, parable, or poem save where the text makes this explicit.

Atheists often claim that liberal theology calls upon sources outside their primary religious texts to form its attitudes, then imposes those attitudes on their books. These atheists find this tendency to be particularly highlighted by inconsistent treatment of different passages within the holy book; given two passages which dictate actions which many people would find cruel or bizarre, many liberal theologians will defend one of the two, or defend an unusual reading of the passage which justifies their views, then dismiss the other passage as irrelevant or only intended to apply to the time period in which the holy book was authored.

This has two important implications: First, at this point, atheists will often feel that once the views of the liberal theologists have adjusted to outside influences to such a degree, the holy book in question's necessity and relevance is in question. Second, many atheists are uncomfortable with the implication that the liberal theologists may be, in effect, creating their ethical frameworks from whole cloth, then simply asserting that their deity agrees with them, therefore creating a situation where the liberal theologist is defining “Good” and “Right” actions as logically equal to “Whatever I want to do, so long as I can twist some selected out of context sentences out of a very long and diverse holy text to justify it”.

In comparison, many atheists find many fundamentalists to be much more rigorous about attempting to follow and interpret their holy texts as written, as many take care to follow unusual, inconvenient, or seemingly outdated dictates within their holy text. This makes other actions they may seek to do which they show some justification within their texts seem much more rational and carefully considered, even if the viewpoint may seem alien to common society. As such, many atheists consider many liberal theologists (those who put inconsistant but heavy stock in selections of their holy book) to be in danger of slipping into Beyond Good and Evil with shades of A God Am I, while the fundamentalist merely possesses an easily researched form of Blue and Orange Morality. Other liberal theologians who treat their entire holy book in a more advisory fashion are considered reasonable, with the caveat that their need for the holy book is unclear.
RobinZimm
05:48:38 AM Aug 27th 2010
Hmm ... I'm not sure of the last two paragraphs — after all, just because fundamentalist believers claim to read the book literally doesn't mean they actually do so.

What do you think of the following in place of your last para?
The net result of this is that many atheists find less of a gap between themselves and literalists than they do between themselves and liberal theologians. In the former case, the object-level disagreements (e.g. about the morality of homosexuality) seem to arise from, if not rational, at least comprehensible grounds: after all, were a holy book authoritative, it would be reasonable to defer to it. In the latter case, however, what object-level agreements exist seem to be asserted either based on incomprehensible reasoning or entirely independently from their supposed source. In the former case, how can one depend on it? In the latter case, why read the book?
JusticeZero
06:52:45 PM Aug 27th 2010
Works fine by me.
anon0794
12:34:10 AM Aug 29th 2010
Some issues: "Conversely, atheists complain that liberal theologians ignore the obvious meaning of their holy texts". Maybe I'm just slow, but it took me several readings to realize that "their holy texts" refers to "holy texts of liberal theologians", rather than "holy texts of atheists". How about just "holy texts" instead of "their holy texts"?

"This is particularly aggravating to the liberal theists, as atheists often agree with them on moral and political issues, such as the separation of church and state." This suggests that there is a liberal theist position, and atheists often agree with it. It would be more accurate to say that there is an atheist position, and liberal theists often agree with it (atheists don't have one single position, but they are much more consistent than liberal theists). I think it should be "This is particularly aggravating to the liberal theists, as they often agree with atheists on moral and political issues, such as the separation of church and state."

"This is typically because atheists in general have no reason not to take the book literally. Many such holy books state explicitly that they purport to be the exact literal truth and must be accepted or rejected all of a piece, and for millenia of history, almost all believers did just that." Absurd. Christians, for millenia, refrained from doing work on Saturday?

"Their interest is usually in three things: First, checking if the account is factually correct; second, judging the religion described in a given holy text; and finally, attempting to reconcile the actions and views of the religion as presented with the actions and views of the religion as dictated by their holy text." "Their interest"? Who is "they"? Atheists, or believers? If the former is meant, there shouldn't be a sentence in between the antecedent and the pronoun.
RobinZimm
07:35:36 AM Aug 29th 2010
edited by RobinZimm
Thanks for the input, anon0794! I've gone through making edits at those places, and some further of my own; let me know if the following works for you all.
Liberal theologians of various religions often complain that atheists do not address their religion, that atheists instead mock a caricature thereof based on a shallow reading of the holy texts. Conversely, atheists complain that liberal theologians ignore the obvious meanings of the same texts, and will even be heard to offer (left-handed) compliments to fundamentalists for their willingness to stand by a literal reading. This is particularly aggravating to the liberal theists because they often agree with atheists on moral and political issues like the separation of church and state.

However, atheists usually have no reason not to take holy books literally. It is not like this is in conflict with the behavior of adherents: for much of history, extending into the Renaissance, passages describing matters of ordinary truth were taken literally even while they were being used allegorically. Remember, too, that atheists read these books for three reasons: first, to check if the account is factually correct; second, to judge the religion described in a given holy text; and third, to compare the beliefs and behavior of adherents with the pronouncements and prescriptions of their holy texts. None of these motives provides a reason to interpret an account as purely myth, parable, or poem save where the text makes this explicit.

Having employed this methodology, many atheists claim that liberal theology calls upon sources outside their primary religious texts to form its attitudes, then imposes those attitudes on the texts. These atheists will cite as evidence of this inconsistent treatment of different passages within the holy book: given passages which dictate actions which many people would find cruel or bizarre, many liberal theologians will defend some as they stand, defend others via unusual readings which justifies their views, and dismiss the rest as irrelevant or only intended to apply to the time period in which the holy book was authored.

This has two important implications: First, at this point, atheists will often feel that once the views of the liberal theologists have adjusted to outside influences to such a degree, the holy book in question's necessity and relevance is in question. Second, many atheists are uncomfortable with the implication that the liberal theologists may be, in effect, creating their ethical frameworks from whole cloth, then simply asserting that their deity agrees with them — a situation where the liberal theologist is defining "Good" and "Right" as logically equal to "Whatever I want to be good and right, so long as I can twist some selected out of context sentences out of a very long and diverse holy text to justify it".

The net result of this is that many atheists find less of a gap between themselves and literalists than they do between themselves and liberal theologians. In the former case, the object-level disagreements (e.g. about the morality of homosexuality) seem to arise from, if not rational, at least comprehensible grounds: after all, were a holy book authoritative, it would be reasonable to defer to it. In the latter case, however, what object-level agreements exist seem to be asserted either based on incomprehensible reasoning or entirely independently from their supposed source. In the former case, how can one depend on it? In the latter case, why read the book?
75.135.145.202
10:09:09 PM Aug 29th 2010
Hmm, I know this isn't Wikipedia, but do we have a source on any of this? Again, I know we don't necessarily have any rules on neutrality here, but this seems kind of one sided. I could make a compelling argument on how interpreting some portions of (insert religious text here) is not only consistent, but more so than assuming the whole thing to be literal. Just because the average atheist or fundamentalist hasn't been exposed to all the reasoning doesn't mean it isn't there.
SchizoTechnician
10:19:52 PM Aug 29th 2010
edited by SchizoTechnician
And a person interpreting (insert religious text here) in a not literal fashion consistent with current science is still obviously wrong, because that view still contradicts a not-literal interpretation consistent with modern science of (insert religious text from a different religion here). If we start talking about how (insert religion of troper here) is obviously the most scientifically plausible, we'll be knee-deep in Flame War shitstorm before you can say "cosmological uncertainty", and we'll end up with a "my religion is better!" page rather than an atheism one.

On a less ranty note, we don't put talk about how theism is scientifically implausible all over the pages on religion, so I see no reason why we should put talk about so-called theistic plausibility in the atheist page.
RobinZimm
04:31:12 AM Aug 30th 2010
edited by RobinZimm
AT 75.135.145.202: I found an article on the history of the interpretation of the Bible on Google — that's about it. Are there other parts you find questionable?

Edit: Also, re Schizo Technician's points, the purpose of this Useful Notes is to inform people about typical modern atheists. If you have a good counterargument for the Literalism section, mention it to atheists you meet — most of the ones I've met haven't heard any.
70.166.206.135
06:14:39 AM Sep 29th 2010
This article makes it sound like virtually everyone that a literalist in the past (in fact using the words, "almost all believers"). But the question of what parts of scripture are literal and what parts are figurative has been controversial in the Church since before the bible was even compiled (for example that was on of the main points of the School of Alexandria considered many parts of the Bible allegories (a little background is in this book). And in fact, Jews have had different interpretations of the literalism of their works since before Christians even existed. Yes Bible literalism came into fashion, just like in physical science, Aristotle's belief belief in "infinitely divisible" matter surpassed Democritus' theory of discrete atoms, that doesn't mean that reading parts of the Bible non-historically become irrelevent. And similarly the return of people who believe in non-historical readings of parts the Bible now because of theological developments shouldn't be more discounted than the return of people who believe in atoms now because of developments in physical sciences, simply because most people at some point in the past didn't share their beliefs (for most of the past two millennia in both cases). (Yes I understand as atheists, you won't agree with the theology behind it, but that is not the point.) I understand this is supposed to be a pro-atheist page, but I treating an entire movement as inconsequential in order to support your point across still shouldn't happen. Yes, I understand that atheists do commonly make this point, but the article should express that its not as cut-and-dry as it is typically portrayed and non-literalists are an important and ancient part of tradition (including one of the church fathers in the case of Christianity).
RobinZimm
12:46:34 PM Sep 29th 2010
edited by RobinZimm
AT 70.166.206.135: I'm not going to deny you have a point, but I think it's fair to say as a matter of historical fact that literal reading is and has been a common feature of religious sects.

That said, some rewriting is in order anyway, and there's no need to overstate the claim, if that is what we are doing; the passage is no less strong with the lessened force. Any reactions to the following?

Edit 1: Adding italics to first sentence as per Ronfar; "a selection of passages that contradict"; "many sects of these religions have endorsed".


Liberal theologians often complain that atheists don't talk about their religion - that atheists instead mock a caricature based on a shallow understanding of their holy texts. Conversely, atheists complain that liberal theologians ignore the obvious meanings of the same texts, and will even be heard to offer (left-handed) compliments to fundamentalists for their willingness to stand by a literal reading. This is particularly aggravating because the two sides are often political allies, for example in defending the separation of church and state.

However, atheists usually have no reason not to take holy books literally. First, many sects of these religions have endorsed this same approach, both at present and historically. Second, much of the material is written in the same language as historical accounts — written as if it were meant to be taken literally. Third, the atheists involved in this debate generally read these books for three reasons: to check if the account is factually correct; to judge the religion described in a given holy text; and to compare the beliefs and behavior of adherents with the pronouncements and prescriptions of their holy texts. None of these motives provides a reason to interpret an account as purely myth, parable, or poem save where the text makes this explicit.

Having read the book this way, atheists often conclude that liberal theology takes attitudes from sources outside the canon of its religion and imposes them on its texts. These atheists will cite as evidence of this inconsistent treatment of different passages within the holy book: given a selection of passages that contradict current knowledge or moral sensibilities, many liberal theologians will defend some as they stand, defend others via unusual readings which justifies their views, and dismiss the rest as irrelevant or only intended to apply to the time period in which the holy book was authored. An atheist might be forgiven for drawing the implication that liberal theologists first create their ethical frameworks from whole cloth, then simply assert that their deity agrees with them — in essence, defining "Good" and "Right" as "Whatever I decide is good and right, so long as I can twist some selected out of context sentences out of a very long and diverse holy text to justify it".

The net result of this is that many atheists find less of a gap between themselves and literalists than they do between themselves and liberal theologians. In the former case, the object-level disagreements (e.g. about the morality of homosexuality) seem to arise from, if not rational, at least comprehensible grounds: after all, were a holy book authoritative, it would be reasonable to defer to it. In the latter case, however, what object-level agreements exist seem to be asserted either based on incomprehensible reasoning or entirely independently from their supposed source. In the former case, how can one depend on it? In the latter case, why worship the book?
Ronfar
01:11:28 PM Sep 29th 2010
edited by Ronfar
I like it.

I'd put the word "their" in the first sentence in italics, though, but that's just me.
70.166.206.135
11:55:56 AM Sep 30th 2010
I agree with Ronfar ^
JusticeZero
11:32:20 AM Jan 17th 2011
Regarding the debate regarding whether literalists are in fact more accurate at the end of the section above: The assumption I often hear is this: If the literalist has been shown sacrificing their own freedom and convenience by piling lots of obvious negative repercussions of being TheFettered onto themself, their credibility regarding what the fetters ARE increases.
RobinZimm
06:57:50 PM Jan 17th 2011
If they are willing to sacrifice to stand up for what they believe, then they are sincere — that doesn't make them correct.
166.205.138.17
02:16:06 PM Feb 8th 2011
edited by 166.205.138.17
As an atheist with a scientific background, I think this whole section deeply misrepresents the stances of atheists. Some atheists, especially young atheists, Objectivist atheists, and atheists who have the luxury to deal with purely theoretical debates, see the supposed consistency of literalists as a "breath of fresh air" and clarity. Some people like sharp, extreme views, because they make the arguments more fun and "fact-based." if an atheist argues with a literalist, they can deal with certainty and argue whether or not certain things really happened. They might even identify with that lack of "fuzzy thinking."

But this is NOT a majority stance among atheists, and I know a lot of atheists. It certainly isn't my stance. Eventually, the fact that a literalist may be CONSISTENT counts for a lot less than the impossibility of arguing practical social issues without running into a brick wall.

Between a literalist and a liberal theist, I identify more with the one who's willing to view a text as potentially distorted by centuries of copying and translation, not to mention the ambiguity inherent in historical choices of canonicity. The "cafeteria theologist" who just picks the convenient parts may exist, but is mostly made of straw; perhaps I am giving the religious too much credit, but isn't there a long history of interpretation and moral debate to consider here? For that matter, even literalists, if they are intellectually honest, have to deal with cases where the text is genuinely ambiguous.

I'd go so far as to say that the whole section is based on a false dichotomy! EITHER, it implies, you follow the word of your scripture literally and exactly, treating your interpretation as absolute and perfect, OR you are just getting your cultural morality from elsewhere and twisting your religion to fit. This is not nuanced reasoning. It sees a fundamental contradiction that isn't there.

Cultural norms inform the way people read their scriptures, and, conversely, religious views influence cultural norms. Even if you believe that a work is the word of God, it is the word dictated to a certain people, at a certain time, in a certain place. It may be hard to reconcile, say, the massacre of the Canaanites with anything resembling human rights... but I identify more with someone who sees a PROBLEM there than someone who is certain of its rightness!
RobinZimm
05:12:46 PM Feb 8th 2011
Valid criticisms — I would not mind aiding a rewrite which expands on these issues in a more informed fashion. I do think several of the points in the section in the current form are helpful (at the very least, a theist ought to be aware of these ideas), but false dichotomies should certainly be punctured where possible.
Sines
07:33:27 PM Mar 27th 2011
Long topic, so I haven't checked out everything, but there's a handy little metaphor if someone hasn't brought it up already. It's said that in writing, you can get a person to believe one big lie, if everything else behaves consistently from there. For example, we accept the Time-Traveling Delorean because Marty and Doc Brown behave at least somewhat realistically, and the rest of the world acts as we would expect it.

Likewise, the atheist sees the big lie as "There is a god and this book is what he wants you to do," and a biblical literalist behaves rationally from that point. A person who takes things non-literally is not behaving as one would expect based on the real world plus that big lie. Effectively, it can break an atheists suspension of disbelief, and make them wonder if the liberal theist really believes what they claim, because if they did, they should act differently.

That's the gist of it anyway...
DJMarred
topic
03:32:38 AM Aug 5th 2010
There is a reason why many religious people are refusing to acknowledge the possibility of there being no God(s). Humans naturally fear death (this is perfectly logical; we all know that we'll die one day), and religion gives them an escape from death, a hope for a life in the next. And people are afraid to give up religion, because to accept that there is no God(s) is to accept your own mortality, and so the person in context will often block out the ideas of others. And being an Atheist is to admit that we are mortal, that our life is the only life we've got.
Tomwithnonumbers
11:49:35 AM May 24th 2011
And there is a reason why many atheists refuse to admit the existence of a God. Acknowledging a God involves submitting yourself and not seeking out self-gratification and ultimate realising you aren't the most important thing in the universe. Atheists reject God because they can't stand the idea of authority. Being religious means you understand that service is better than your own pleasure and you realise the right that a creator deserves.

...

Yeah it cuts both ways. Neither reason is right and both devalue the complexity of the decision and both devalue a significant portion of people in the world. Saying either helps no-one really and I think it's important we try to talk about things like this on a level where it is a talk, and not a lecture. That's the problem most people have with evangelicals
Millstone
05:31:12 AM Nov 19th 2011
edited by Millstone
Saying that religions are built on a promise of eternal life isn't the same as saying that atheists are anarchistic hedonistic megalomaniacs.
AsteroftheGruntled
11:19:20 PM Dec 2nd 2011
I agree with Millstone. Specifically, Tomwithnonumbers writes above: "Atheists reject God because they can't stand the idea of authority". The article itself goes to great lengths to demolish this very argument. It's nothing more than the typical strawman that closed minded religious followers always trot out to condemn anyone who doesn't agree with their supernatural beliefs. All of the statements made along those lines are couched as vast generalisations, if not universalisations. What constitutes "many" atheists? I have never met even one who has said, "I don't believe in a god, or gods, because I am the most important thing in the universe, and my self gratification is all that matters," or anything remotely like it. This argument, as an argument countering the affirmation of diety/denial of morality equivalence, should be sent to the Wizard of Oz page; its confreres are the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.
Ckuckoo
04:42:12 AM Dec 8th 2011
Tomwithnonumbers argument presumes that authoritarian atheists do not exist. This is an absurd premise, as atheistic communist societies rely on authoritarian atheist followers. While no longer truly communist, modern China has long encouraged submissive atheism, and is notable in overall maintaining its power based on this and other principles. Furthermore, to stoop to DND terms, I have an atheist friend who is basically Lawful Good, and I am somewhat similar if more inclined to pragmatism. Many atheists truly believe in just authority, and obedience to moral laws as an embodiment of 'right behaviour'.
Rahkshi500
04:42:17 PM Jul 1st 2013
None of you are getting the point of what Tomwithnonumbers is saying. He's not advocating a strawman argument for real-life atheists, nor do I think he really believes in that argument. He's using a strawman argument to point out the offensive absurdity of the strawman argument that DJ Marred was using. The fact that you got a knee-jerk reaction to Tom only proves his point; you don't like your atheism and your reasons for your atheism being strawmanned? Well now you know how religious people don't like how you strawman their religion. And the fact that you all only focus on Tom and didn't called DJ Marred out either suggests some double-standards.
StudiodeKadent
topic
05:09:03 AM Jul 18th 2010
I'm an atheist so I agree with this page. However, may I suggest that the reference to Objectivism under the subheading "Adhere To Communism" be linked to the Useful Notes article we have on Objectivism? We reference the philosophy, so we might as well put a link there.
RobinZimm
09:21:03 PM Jul 18th 2010
Agreed.
76.174.158.188
topic
03:27:54 PM Jun 16th 2010
Might a catagorey for common atheist arguments against deities (Such as problem of evil, scriptural incosistancies, etc...) be warranted? Most atheists share a few certain arguments as to why religion in general fails, and those might be worth using. Needless to say, any specific arguments (such as one against christianity in particular) should be left out, both for clutter and avoiding flamebait.
MajinGojira
06:50:48 PM Jun 16th 2010
Good idea, but I'm uncertain as to whether or not that would be enough to avoid flamebait.
anon0794
09:40:12 PM Aug 4th 2010
Perhaps one can avoid getting too specific, but one has to narrow the field down somewhat, since very strong atheism only makes sense with respect to a specific God (I can say with certainty that the Christian God does not exist, but I can't really argue against someone who claims that the Invisible Pink Unicorn exists). I don't think that we should structure our article around pleasing fanatics; cautious editing is one thing, but bowing to censorship is another.
Sines
07:28:15 PM Mar 27th 2011
So, is that a yes or a no on a section concerning common arguments? The Problem of Evil applies to any sufficiently powerful god. That anything believed to be supernatural or in the hands of the gods was later found to have a naturalistic explanation, and never vice versa. The diversity and geographical dependance of religion (If there is on ultimate truth, why do beliefs depend more heavily on where the person was born than on the claim itself?). Etc... these provide generalized arguments (with the problem of evil not applying to some, so maybe it can be removed).

They're not "This specifically doesn't exist because it's contradictory," but instead, "If gods existed, we would expect to see this, but we don't." Explanations as to why atheists find evidence lacking, rather than why they might deny specific gods.
AsteroftheGruntled
11:08:20 PM Dec 2nd 2011
Not certain about the reasoning behind the whole "avoiding flamebait" argument. While it would certainly be preferable to not have either the page or the site consumed in an inferno of invective, really, shouldn't the germane question be "do the arguments against dieties, and the worship thereof, constitute an important or even necessary and integral part of understanding atheism as a world view"? After all, isn't this article supposed to offer an accurate and reasonably complete description of athiesm, not a description only complete so far as possible while remaining able to sweep the most controversial aspects under the cyber-rug?
202.175.128.39
topic
07:16:46 PM Jun 13th 2010
edited by 202.175.128.39
"Further, since atheists believe that we humans have only ourselves to rely on when it comes to moral guidance, the apparent fact that most societies grow more compassionate and egalitarian over time suggests that human nature is pretty virtuous."

Where did this come from? Just because western society has rolled a string of double sixes over the last 500 years, doesn't mean that it's going to keep heading that way. In fact, probably at least half of us would describe the last century as a downhill descent into a crapsack world, in moral/ethical terms if not technological. And all the technological gains have done is ruled out, forever, any chance of an actual revolution ever succeeding (it would be detected well before it had a significant number of members, and crushed easily).

I can't name a single other culture that got "more compassionate and egalitarian" as time went by. Perhaps someone else can?
66.130.75.94
12:50:48 PM Jun 14th 2010
Why are you counting "western society" as one culture?
Suggested edit: "Further, since atheists believe that we humans have only ourselves to rely on when it comes to moral guidance, the apparent fact that alledgedly secular societies tend to be nicer places to live in than theocracies suggests that human nature is pretty virtuous."
76.174.158.188
03:32:49 PM Jun 16th 2010
Western society is a number of cultures that has had a number of seperate advances in ethics for each culture. One might also say that if a society that promotes these values succeeds so much, 'rolling a string of double sixes' as you say, perhaps it's that the nations that promote those values are using weighted dice, that goodness correlates to success in other areas. Correlation does not imply causation, but it's the thing that first catches a persons eye, and this would be a short version of the claim. Some people do go into greater detail to elaborate on this, but this is hardly the place. Just make sure the article represents that this is the atheists opinion.
anon0794
09:34:09 PM Aug 4th 2010
It would be better to put it as an argument rather than a fact ("Some atheists argue that...") Also, there is no "d" in "allege".
DJMarred
01:26:26 PM Aug 5th 2010
But at the same time, we are progressing socially in other areas. Today, we have better care and more respect for the disabled, as well as less racism and sexism. We also have the UN to help keep the peace between countries, so there probably won't be a World War III. And people are aware of the damage being done to our planet, and are looking for ways to halt, and possibly repair, the damage.
Tomwithnonumbers
11:45:31 AM May 24th 2011
I'd prefer some ambiguity, since it's a bit of a strawman argument that only reflects on a very very recent time period.

Colonial Britain is recent, China, Russia, WWII, Hiroshima, North Korea and so on... and enlightened cultures 2000 years ago didn't seem to last. I just think it's not something so simple to be presented as anything but one side of an argument.

Heck, an argument for no current world war is the fact we designed killing-innocent-civilain weapons so powerful we're just scared because we don't doubt other people would use them. Necessary? Could be, virtuous? Heck no
Tomwithnonumbers
11:45:33 AM May 24th 2011
I'd prefer some ambiguity, since it's a bit of a strawman argument that only reflects on a very very recent time period.

Colonial Britain is recent, China, Russia, WWII, Hiroshima, North Korea and so on... and enlightened cultures 2000 years ago didn't seem to last. I just think it's not something so simple to be presented as anything but one side of an argument.

Heck, an argument for no current world war is the fact we designed killing-innocent-civilain weapons so powerful we're just scared because we don't doubt other people would use them. Necessary? Could be, virtuous? Heck no
callista
04:56:57 PM Nov 16th 2011
Society progressing to something better (if that is indeed true) doesn't necessarily mean that human nature is "pretty virtuous" - and I think that actually sounds a bit condescending since virtue is usually has religious connotations - it can just as well mean that human nature is geared towards survival of the species and that we therefore have developed a society where we learn morals that tell us to treat each other nicely.
Quatic
topic
05:39:22 PM Jun 10th 2010
edited by Quatic
There should be <s>a link</s> <u>links</u> in here to deism <u>and pantheism</u> (which <s>is</s> <u>are both</u> on the page) and <s>a page</s> <u>pages</u> on deism <u>and pantheism</u> too.
RobinZimm
06:26:53 PM Jun 10th 2010
I think the proper order of procedure is to write the new pages, then link to them. There may be an exception for non-potholed work titles, but perhaps not.

p.s. Text Formatting Rules has the breakdown on formatting - e.g. the codes for [[strike:strikethrough] and ''italics'' (underlines are not supported) are listed there.
JorWat
topic
09:26:31 AM Jun 8th 2010
Can someone who has the power to change this page change the pound signs in the section about the Atheist Bus Campaign, as they are appearing like this (£) instead of this (£)?
Ronfar
12:40:12 PM Jun 8th 2010
Tv Tropes as a whole seems to have character set issues; some pages are in Unicode and some in Western ISO-8859-1.
82.26.246.218
topic
08:22:45 PM Jun 2nd 2010
Brilliant Article!
Ardiente
08:09:49 AM May 24th 2011
Indeed, old chap! A riveting tale for sure! I shall reer to it everytime such discussions arise!
RobinZimm
topic
07:01:15 PM May 31st 2010
Quick question: is this page locked? It would be nice to be notified in the Discussion page, if it were.
Ronfar
09:32:33 PM May 31st 2010
Yeah, it seems to be locked. Adding it to the Locked Pages list.
RobinZimm
05:47:48 AM Jun 1st 2010
Thanks! (Adding Locked Pages to watchlist.)
raithe
05:15:18 PM Jul 13th 2011
No longer locked.
Reflections
topic
04:10:02 PM May 31st 2010
First, I would like to say that this is a great article. Second, is that note about Family Guy really necessary? The article does not list every atheist who is a jerk, so does it have to list this one? I have not watched the episode, but is it really that bad?
RobinZimm
06:58:00 PM May 31st 2010
Unless the episode shows truly egregious Jerkassery, I would agree — kill the reference.
Blork
05:43:16 AM Jun 10th 2010
That episode has an absurd level of Hatedom on this wiki (basically, it had a moral of "trying to run someone out of town because they don't follow your religion is a bad thing", but the bad guys were Christians which is completely unacceptable). Kill the reference.
Game_Fan
05:46:15 PM Jun 10th 2010
The moral of that episode is "becoming a Christian instantly makes you an asshole".
SchizoTechnician
05:49:04 PM Jun 10th 2010
Did it specify that it was christianity, and make it clear that all religious persons exhibited the behavior, or was it a single group of religious people with the christianity being incidental?
163.191.202.2
10:33:11 AM Jul 29th 2010
It was a specific religious person: Kirk Cameron. His effect on Meg, who was in a rather emotionally vulnerable state due to being really ill and whatnot, led her down the path of book-burning zealotry, which prompted Brian to point out the Argument From Evil to her in rather personal terms at the end of the episode. It was this last bit that people dubbed a Dethroning Moment of Suck, which suggests to me that they are Missing The Point

Honestly, it wasn't all that bad a representation of the kind of thing I've seen certain atheists go through in real life.

Kill the reference.
anon0794
09:29:43 PM Aug 4th 2010
"but the bad guys were Christians which is completely unacceptable)"

Am I missing a note of sarcasm, or does Blork seriously think that having Christians as villains is unacceptable?
SchizoTechnician
09:31:08 PM Aug 4th 2010
Yah, that looks to be sarcasm. Strawmanning, not seriousness.
Drolyt
10:14:39 PM Jan 4th 2011
I think the issue with that episode is that while nothing is sacred on Family Fuy, aside from this episode they have always stuck to making fun of things, and they make fun of everything equally, while in this episode they actually attack Christianity as a religion. The episode does seem to be aimed at all Christians rather than just a few, so yeah I'd say it was quite offensive. That said I don't think it should be on the atheism page, it isn't important enough of an example, I just felt maybe someone reading this discussion would like to know why some people find the episode offensive.
tenderlumpling
topic
06:53:14 PM Apr 29th 2010
Something else that should be pointed out: Atheists are not "angry" at God, and anger at a god or gods very rarely plays a part in the deconversion. How common is this belief? Common enough so that I, who became an atheist at the age of 16 (and had been doubting the existence of a god since I was 12), have been accused of "being angry at God" by at least ten different people.
Game_Fan
07:06:48 PM Apr 29th 2010
That's already in the description.
back to UsefulNotes/Atheism

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