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Not Another Religious Debate (Organized Atheism and Other Things)

YannYann Registered User regular
edited December 2008 in Debate and/or Discourse
Here's something I've been thinking about lately, most likely brought on by the latest bout of fundamentalist violence/the Atheists and Offensiveness thread/reading God is not great.

I don't intend for this to turn into a pro/anti religious debate, there have been plenty of those already and frankly, they seldom lead anywhere new. In fact, if you are not already an atheist (agnostic, anti-theist, whatever), this thread is probably not for you.

Rather, I would like to discuss what we as non-believers, who have become pretty damn sick of religious nutjobs making policy, hurting, and killing innocent people, can actually do.

I don't have the latest numbers, but i do believe that religion is in a decline in the US today. This is definitely not the case worldwide though, and fundamentalist violence is extremely real. Add to that the indirect damage of religious policy, such as banning contraceptives, denying vaccinations and suppressing science and you can clearly see that religion is in direct opposition to a rational society.

There are individuals, such as Dawkins and Hitchens, who have been very successful speaking out about atheism. However, it is still extremely difficult to criticize religion without being labeled as discriminating, or even threatened with violence.

Something I would also like to discuss is organized atheism. There have been attempts at making a atheist movement, but it has never taken of. Many people are wary of this, for in my opinion good reasons. Being an atheist is choosing to not be a part of a group. There is also the issue of polarizing the debate.

I do believe that all people, in time, will "come to their senses" and stop basing their lives on myths. But, I don't want to stand by the sidelines and just wait while people are mislead, hurt and killed in the name of fictional stories. How should I, as a hopefully moral and rational being, act here?

Yann on
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Posts

  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I think organized atheism groups, something like Unitarianism but without the veneer of religiosity, would be fine. Religion is a pretty big protective factor in terms of health and well being, mental as well as physical. Some of that, I'd think, comes from the confirmation that there are people like you and they're going to be supportive.

    I didn't become an atheist because I hate organizing. I became one because I was never convinced of the probable existence of any god, much less the specific one that was being preached.

    durandal4532 on
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  • Salvation122Salvation122 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I really hope this happens.

    And then they file for tax exemption.

    That would be the very best thing

    Salvation122 on
  • FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Wow.. that's... you're just special.

    Hint: Many religious people are also sick of religious nutjobs trying to gain a significant voice in government and so on. Basically, you're just continuing the "Hurrr religion is dumm!" and trying to cover by saying that's what you don't want in the thread. Well screw you and get off your high horse. Just because someone is religious, doesn't mean they're stupid.

    Edit: I consider Dawkins to be excessively acerbic when it comes to the subject of religion. But I give him a pass, because a whole lot of whackjobs treat him like crap, and so that's his main exposure to religion. I give a few people this pass, but it really isn't an acceptable model for discourse.

    Fencingsax on
  • ubernekouberneko Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I don't know what it is about Dawkins but all the atheists I know that have read "The God Delusion" are huge assholes, which leads me to believe they are only atheists because it is sort of a fad in some places.

    Also, I await the day that we get an atheist president.

    uberneko on
  • FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    uberneko wrote: »
    I don't know what it is about Dawkins but all the atheists I know that have read "The God Delusion" are huge assholes, which leads me to believe they are only atheists because it is sort of a fad in some places.

    Also, I await the day that we get an atheist president.
    Let me put it this way. You know how all the racists were saying "we aren't ready for a BLACK president!"? There are even more religious morons who think "We aren't ready for an ATHEIST!!!! president!" Atheists are the least trusted subgroup in the United States.

    Fencingsax on
  • ubernekouberneko Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    uberneko wrote: »
    I don't know what it is about Dawkins but all the atheists I know that have read "The God Delusion" are huge assholes, which leads me to believe they are only atheists because it is sort of a fad in some places.

    Also, I await the day that we get an atheist president.
    Let me put it this way. You know how all the racists were saying "we aren't ready for a BLACK president!"? There are even more religious morons who think "We aren't ready for an ATHEIST!!!! president!" Atheists are the least trusted subgroup in the United States.

    I know, but with atheism becoming more mainstream with books like The God Delusion and movies like Religulous, maybe in our life time we'll get to see an atheist president 8)

    uberneko on
  • YannYann Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Wow.. that's... you're just special.

    Hint: Many religious people are also sick of religious nutjobs trying to gain a significant voice in government and so on. Basically, you're just continuing the "Hurrr religion is dumm!" and trying to cover by saying that's what you don't want in the thread. Well screw you and get off your high horse. Just because someone is religious, doesn't mean they're stupid.

    Edit: I consider Dawkins to be excessively acerbic when it comes to the subject of religion. But I give him a pass, because a whole lot of whackjobs treat him like crap, and so that's his main exposure to religion. I give a few people this pass, but it really isn't an acceptable model for discourse.

    I don't think I said that I think all religious people are stupid. But I am an atheist. I do believe that it is fabrication, and that it doesn't hold up to rational thought. I believe every rational mind will come to that conclusion.

    Now, I know that isn't everyones opinion, but I'm certainly not alone in having it. I don't have any numbers, but I'm certain that there is a sizable percentage of this forum that thinks in the same way, for example.

    Yann on
  • TevekTevek Registered User new member
    edited December 2008
    Other than rail against religion, what exactly do athiest groups do?

    I mean, religious groups get together to worship. Do athiest organizations get together to...not...worship? What's the point?

    If a group of athiests decided to hold a bake sale to help the homeless or something, would they deny believers from participating? It'd be a charity birthed by a group's collective lack of belief in something?

    My point is, organized atheism seems to have no purpose other than to get people to drop religion. To try and stamp out people's most cherished beliefs on the basis of "lol, that's silly". How exactly is that supposed to work? You can't reason someone out of their faith. Faith isn't about reason. Faith is belief without proof. People believe because they choose to, not because they're stupid.

    Tevek on
  • TarranonTarranon Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Wow.. that's... you're just special.

    Hint: Many religious people are also sick of religious nutjobs trying to gain a significant voice in government and so on. Basically, you're just continuing the "Hurrr religion is dumm!" and trying to cover by saying that's what you don't want in the thread. Well screw you and get off your high horse. Just because someone is religious, doesn't mean they're stupid.

    Edit: I consider Dawkins to be excessively acerbic when it comes to the subject of religion. But I give him a pass, because a whole lot of whackjobs treat him like crap, and so that's his main exposure to religion. I give a few people this pass, but it really isn't an acceptable model for discourse.

    Have you ever actually read The God Delusion? Because I used to subscribe to your idea on him, about how sure atheism is fine but man, some people. And then I read it and felt like I owed him an apology.

    And for that comment to mean anything, I hope you don't perceive me as a hateful person.

    To wit, there's a reason the nutter butters consider him too coddling when it comes to dealing with religion.

    Tarranon on
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  • CodeCode Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Organized atheism? Sort of like Spiritual Humanism? Because there is a group that specifically does NOT believe in the existence of god, or anything that cannot be scientifically proven. Or is that regarded as a way to become a legally ordained minister without going through a "real" religion (because that is what I used it for )

    Code on
  • DuffelDuffel jacobkosh Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    The problem with "criticising religion" is that I don't think people who are not religious themselves understand how condescending it can come across.

    I'm always reminded of how white American Protestants treated indigenous religions in the 19th and 20th centuries. Clearly the Lakota should be forbidden from practicing the Sun Dance, they said; they saw it as a vicious, barbaric heathen ritual, where a man had hooks placed in his flesh while attached to a pole with a length of rope. Acts like this, according to them, needed to be wiped out; they were violent and uncivilized, and resulted in the degradation of society.

    Obviously the Lakota saw things very differently. To them, the Sun Dance was one of the foundations of society; to borrow language, it was comparable to a sacrament. To stop the Sun Dance would have been equivalent to telling a Catholic they could no longer receive communion, or telling a Muslim they were no longer allowed to pray. It was a crucial part of their culture, which would be damaged by its absence. Which is, of course, what the WASP forefathers tried to do.

    Of course, you could make the argument that this is another example of the failures of religion (it was done at least nominally for religious reasons, although really it was more a way of trying to destroy Lakota culture in general), and that argument is a valid one. However, it is more importantly an example of one group, believing its way of life to be naturally superior and advantageous over another, declaring another group's beliefs and culture to be inferior and out of place in modern society.

    While fundamentalism and the violence it brings is a problem growing daily in its urgency, I don't feel like organized atheism is the solution, or at least the entire solution. The best solution would be to focus on education and the inculcation of human rights from a young age. Anything else becomes dangerously close to ethnocentrism and the ivory tower.

    Duffel on
  • BamaBama Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Tevek wrote: »
    I mean, religious groups get together to worship.
    In my experience, this is far from the only reason religious groups gather. Hell, how much actual worship happens in an average church service?

    I think secular groups, rather than specifically atheist groups, are what we should be shooting for. However, that doesn't do anything to cause more awareness of atheism, so it seems tricky.

    Bama on
  • TevekTevek Registered User new member
    edited December 2008
    Bama wrote: »
    Tevek wrote: »
    I mean, religious groups get together to worship.
    In my experience, this is far from the only reason religious groups gather. Hell, how much actual worship happens in an average church service?

    I think secular groups, rather than specifically atheist groups, are what we should be shooting for. However, that doesn't do anything to cause more awareness of atheism, so it seems tricky.

    Certainly it's not their only reason for organizing. It is, however, their primary reason. It's the unifying reason. It's how all those random people found each other in the first place. And while they may not explicitly worship in the sense that they all get down on their knees and pray for the duration of a gathering (though some probably do), they worship in the sense that they live their lives (or at least attempt to live their lives) in accordance with whatever religious frame work they've established. They obey their god. They have that in common.

    Athiests have nothing in common (save through happenstance) but a general disbelief in any god.

    I do not understand what you mean by it seeming tricky that secular groups do nothing to increase awareness of atheism though. Do you mean that religious organizations may not be aware that their activities are offensive/harmful to athiests?

    Tevek on
  • FencingsaxFencingsax It is difficult to get a man to understand, when his salary depends upon his not understanding GNU Terry PratchettRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Tarranon wrote: »
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    Wow.. that's... you're just special.

    Hint: Many religious people are also sick of religious nutjobs trying to gain a significant voice in government and so on. Basically, you're just continuing the "Hurrr religion is dumm!" and trying to cover by saying that's what you don't want in the thread. Well screw you and get off your high horse. Just because someone is religious, doesn't mean they're stupid.

    Edit: I consider Dawkins to be excessively acerbic when it comes to the subject of religion. But I give him a pass, because a whole lot of whackjobs treat him like crap, and so that's his main exposure to religion. I give a few people this pass, but it really isn't an acceptable model for discourse.

    Have you ever actually read The God Delusion? Because I used to subscribe to your idea on him, about how sure atheism is fine but man, some people. And then I read it and felt like I owed him an apology.

    And for that comment to mean anything, I hope you don't perceive me as a hateful person.

    To wit, there's a reason the nutter butters consider him too coddling when it comes to dealing with religion.
    Well yeah, I'm aware that there are people who are even worse, I'm just saying there are certain people I give a pass on being vocally and vehemently atheist, and Dawkins is one of them.

    Fencingsax on
  • theclamtheclam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    There need to be more atheists in the public sphere who will present their views without the arrogance and condescension of people like Dawkins and Hitchens. A lot of people have never met an atheist (that they knew was an atheist) and stereotype them based upon the assholes they see on TV.

    Also, I believe that it is extremely important to prevent religions from having the moral high ground. I don't know how many times I see religious figures being asked moral questions as if they had superior insight solely because of their occupation.

    edit: For example, I see pastors in the media talking about moral and ethical issues much more often than I see ethicists and philosophers.

    theclam on
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  • TrowizillaTrowizilla Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Dawkins isn't even condescending, especially compared to, say, basically any religious leader. Religious people just get oversensitive whenever any sort of anti-religious idea is presented, and especially whenever it's presented without extensive softening.

    Trowizilla on
  • XenosX_XenosX_ Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Tevek wrote: »
    Certainly it's not their only reason for organizing. It is, however, their primary reason. It's the unifying reason. It's how all those random people found each other in the first place. And while they may not explicitly worship in the sense that they all get down on their knees and pray for the duration of a gathering (though some probably do), they worship in the sense that they live their lives (or at least attempt to live their lives) in accordance with whatever religious frame work they've established. They obey their god. They have that in common.

    Athiests have nothing in common (save through happenstance) but a general disbelief in any god.

    So, atheists cannot get together and 'live their lives in accordance with' whatever framework they have established? There are some deeply philosophical roots to atheist belief, and conceivably, atheism as a religion could be helpful. The same way bible study groups get together to discuss ethical issues from a theistic view, atheist groups could get together to discuss these issues from an atheistic view.

    I actually wrote an essay of sorts about this very thing. It's not very good. But maybe some of you will find it interesting.
    The main disagreement between theists and atheists is not truly over the existence of God. God is indeed representative of the underlying argument in some form, but religious differences are not legitimately based on His existence specifically. Moreover, the difference is one of faith. Most believe that faith is the quintessential manifestation of God, but this belief appears only through the cultural impression of God. In reality, the opposite is true; God is the semiotic embodiment of faith, and that makes any contention concern faith explicitly, not God. This is what makes religious difference so entirely irreconcilable. Faith demands the abandonment of traditional logical argument, and so, it is impossible to logically disprove God, because His very reality denies the validity of logic. Thus, the respective arguments of logic and faith among theists and atheists are inherently incompatible. Both are views are justifiably right in their own sense of determining what is right, which means that arguing the matter of God’s existence is futile.

    However, this does not extricate the possibility of meaningful discussion on the nature of God. If anything, the clarification of this religious contradiction augments the value of such a discussion. Neither party could reasonably expect to convince their respective opponents using the traditional justifications for each system of beliefs. The rational skeptic and the faithful believer must agree, however, that despite what anyone chooses to believe, nobody truly knows anything. This agnostic sentiment reflects the apparent paradox that both sides are right from their own perspective. After all, two contradictory ideas, such as ‘God exists’ and ‘God does not exist’ cannot conceivably both be true. One must be true, and one must be false; God either exists or does not exist. But from a human point of view, what is actually true does not matter because it is impossible to judge which is true. Aside from the fact that the faculties of the human mind are insufficient to make reliable judgments about its environment, the idea of logic leads to an epistemological regression of justifications: every rational justification must be supported logically by another justification. As Bertrand Russell might say, it’s “turtles all the way down”. Nothing is self-evident, except that which we present from our own beliefs. So, even science must inexorably hold axiomatic beliefs, and therefore, it is a convoluted representation of faith. Due to the immense utility of science and its amazing internal coherence, we tend to separate it from religion. But aside from this pragmatic perspective, both the belief God exists and the belief God does not exist are inherently views of faith. It seems that this would imply that no one should have any beliefs, as nothing they believe can be justified at all. So why then, do people choose a certain set of beliefs over another, or choose to believe anything at all?

    Aside from those beliefs conditioned into someone from youth, or a misunderstanding about truth and faith in general, choice in beliefs is nothing more than aesthetics. Belief in God as opposed to science or perhaps another set of alternate beliefs only differs in its semantic value, not in fact. Despite the protests of scientists or priests who believe they know ultimate truths, beliefs are chosen because they feel comfortable and are practical for the person who holds them. Most atheists take comfort in that their beliefs have the apparent ability to predict nature to a terrifyingly large extent. Most theists take comfort in that they are guided by God’s benevolent plan and that they receive His divine help in their lives, or that when they die, if they had been morally righteous (another term which merits discussion, but not here), they would live forever in heaven, or variants thereof. Since comfort is essentially an opinion, no argument is correct, even if you hold it up to logical standards. Still, the merits of each belief are worth reflecting on, since a little analysis reveals that none of the aforementioned reasons used to justify them are especially good.

    The immediate impression is that theism is far and above more comfortable than atheism. Eternal existence in paradise and a grand creator who has a plan for all life (the prototypical theistic view) seems like the zenith of human belief, especially compared to the idea that consciousness ends in death, and eventually all information decays beyond memory (the prototypical atheistic view). But are the benefits of God’s plan all they are believed to be, regardless of his existence? His ‘plan’ imbues a kind of caring design to everything that exists, especially things of natural beauty such as snowflakes, rainbows, and of course, life. But is it really more beautiful to think of snowflakes as meticulously chiseled artifacts of divine work? Design heralds the devaluation of beauty; the idea of spontaneous formation of beauty through individual microscopic physical governances, that is, random meaningless acts, that coalesce into a single work of art is much more beautiful than a vague notion of a larger concept by a single conscious figure, or at the very least, more intricate. It seems odd that the cause of something beautiful can be attributed to events that lack meaning or purpose, but this is actually what gives the end product its beauty. Anything that is a creation of another entity cannot sustain its own identity. Marveling at the beauty of snowflakes made by God is really just appreciating the beauty of God, because the snowflakes are simply extensions of His ability. And, if this idea is extended to include life and humanity as a creation of God, these too lose their identities, as well as the things they create, and become meaningless extensions of God. Attributing every instance of beauty created by mankind to God seems to be the strict opposite of the path to meaning in human life; how can there be meaning in art or science if man cannot truly create? Instead of a single origin of beauty, atheism recognizes a variety of paths that lead to aesthetic concepts, sometimes intertwining in unexpected ways, which is more beautiful than a single cause for everything in existence. Even while these paths are devoid of purpose or intention, their resulting creations truly have identities, and their beauty can be appreciated justly.

    Still, the devaluation of beauty seems to be a small price to pay for the safety inherent in eternal life. Many theists have a difficult time confronting the possibility that the universe does not care whether they live or die, and that hypothetically, a bizarre accident could blow them into a fine mist of blood and viscera at any moment, ending the fine beauty of the conscious mind with a single felt swoop, and earning them a mere few thousand years of human interest until they are utterly forgotten. To them, the instability and unpredictability of a world without a divine purpose is unheimlich (uncanny), so they believe in God for the comfort of feeling safe. But what is the value of life if it lasts forever? Another indicator of value, tangible or not, is scarcity. The implied immortality in theism would produce an eternity of boredom and insignificance. One can only appreciate life in comparison to death; to quote Vanilla Sky, “the sweet is never as sweet without the sour”. Additionally, the idea of God’s plan giving meaning to life is contradictory. Meaning in life is based on achievement, and one can only achieve if there is the possibility of failure. To say meaningful happiness is inevitable is to make the possibility of failure moot, and is to dispel any notion of achievement, which makes happiness and meaning impossible. For example, the modern school of ethics claims it is better to legitimately fail at something than to cheat and succeed. Only through truly risking failure can satisfaction be gained. In a sense, the certainty of God’s help is ‘cheating’. So even if the traditional idea of ‘meaning’ decomposes for the individual after his death in atheism, at least this meaning exists for a short time until it disappears.

    Beauty and meaning are not as cut and dry as they appear to be, and their relation to religion and spirituality must oblige second thoughts.

    XenosX_ on
  • oneeyedjack909oneeyedjack909 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    It seems your calling for a religious organization format for atheists. To me that just seems to defeat the purpose. Atheism to me is about not subscribing to the follies that plague religion. Fundamentalism in any religion stems from a 'us and them' mentality that groups tend to develop.

    I think atheism should take a better stance than the one it seems the mainstream has adopted. Namely there is no 'us and them", we're human beings and as humanity we are in this together. I don't give a shit what your religion is lets try to leave this world a better place than we found it and quit worrying about which god we go to when we do leave. This would seem the most logical to me and in a movement that seems to be all about logic it doesn't seem that locking horns with the religious is logical.

    There have been a lot of atheist movements that have ended with disastrous results. Notably the Nazi movement and Soviet style communism. Remember its just 'opium for the masses' so its ok to kill them. Maybe instead of organizing into some kind of group atheists should just keep hanging out and continue to provide an alternative for religion rather than start some kind of campaign, Historically it didn't work out so good.

    oneeyedjack909 on
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  • ubernekouberneko Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    It's not so much a religious format as I think it is more of a communal one.

    uberneko on
  • theclamtheclam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Creating a club for atheists is about as silly as creating a club for people who don't watch football or people don't knit.

    theclam on
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  • StarcrossStarcross Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    There have been a lot of atheist movements that have ended with disastrous results. Notably the Nazi movement and Soviet style communism. Remember its just 'opium for the masses' so its ok to kill them. Maybe instead of organizing into some kind of group atheists should just keep hanging out and continue to provide an alternative for religion rather than start some kind of campaign, Historically it didn't work out so good.

    Naziism was not an atheistic movement. Soviet communism yes, but not naziism. Hitler was a religious man himslef and made many religious statements in his speeches.

    Starcross on
  • HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    It seems your calling for a religious organization format for atheists. To me that just seems to defeat the purpose. Atheism to me is about not subscribing to the follies that plague religion. Fundamentalism in any religion stems from a 'us and them' mentality that groups tend to develop.

    Have you ever heard of Unitarians? Or Quakers? You're conflating religion with fundamentalism, and also I think drastically oversimplifying the causes of fundamentalism.
    There have been a lot of atheist movements that have ended with disastrous results. Notably the Nazi movement and Soviet style communism. Remember its just 'opium for the masses' so its ok to kill them.

    This really shows an astonishing ignorance of history. The Nazis were hostile to atheism. And describing communism as an "atheist movement" is kind of like describing churches as "bake sale organizers" -- sure, that's part of it, but it really misses the point.

    Hachface on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    It seems your calling for a religious organization format for atheists. To me that just seems to defeat the purpose. Atheism to me is about not subscribing to the follies that plague religion. Fundamentalism in any religion stems from a 'us and them' mentality that groups tend to develop.

    I think atheism should take a better stance than the one it seems the mainstream has adopted. Namely there is no 'us and them", we're human beings and as humanity we are in this together. I don't give a shit what your religion is lets try to leave this world a better place than we found it and quit worrying about which god we go to when we do leave. This would seem the most logical to me and in a movement that seems to be all about logic it doesn't seem that locking horns with the religious is logical.

    There have been a lot of atheist movements that have ended with disastrous results. Notably the Nazi movement and Soviet style communism. Remember its just 'opium for the masses' so its ok to kill them. Maybe instead of organizing into some kind of group atheists should just keep hanging out and continue to provide an alternative for religion rather than start some kind of campaign, Historically it didn't work out so good.
    Atheism is not the equal and opposite of religion.

    I didn't stop going to church because I hated the organizing and meeting with people part, I stopped going because I didn't believe anything the person at the pulpit said about the structure of the universe.

    durandal4532 on
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  • TarranonTarranon Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Other than their shared skepticism, I don't think atheists share anything in common with one another other than being a minority view point. At least, in America.

    I don't think either are meaningful points to organize around. A broader theme that incorporates atheism would probably be more beneficial. Maybe form utilitarian communities, groups or some such.

    Something that is opposed to religious fundamentalism, does not promote religious thought, but at the same time does not discriminate against religious people would be the ideal.

    Tarranon on
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  • oneeyedjack909oneeyedjack909 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Hachface wrote: »
    It seems your calling for a religious organization format for atheists. To me that just seems to defeat the purpose. Atheism to me is about not subscribing to the follies that plague religion. Fundamentalism in any religion stems from a 'us and them' mentality that groups tend to develop.

    Have you ever heard of Unitarians? Or Quakers? You're conflating religion with fundamentalism, and also I think drastically oversimplifying the causes of fundamentalism.
    There have been a lot of atheist movements that have ended with disastrous results. Notably the Nazi movement and Soviet style communism. Remember its just 'opium for the masses' so its ok to kill them.

    This really shows an astonishing ignorance of history. The Nazis were hostile to atheism. And describing communism as an "atheist movement" is kind of like describing churches as "bake sale organizers" -- sure, that's part of it, but it really misses the point.

    Edit; fucked up the button pushing. my bad

    I'm speaking more on the point that creating an us vs them mentality would not be a beneficial belief to adopt and no Hitler was not a religious person. He made religious statements in his speeches because he was a great politician and public speaker and his audience was religious. His referances were more to 'divine right' and 'providence' more along the lines of manifest destiny than actual religious statements. And 'Godless Communism' has been a rallying cry for almost any group that opposed the soviet union.

    But this isn't a political debate. I think taking a more passive stance in politics than creating an atheist movement would better benefit to atheists as a whole.

    oneeyedjack909 on
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  • TevekTevek Registered User new member
    edited December 2008
    XenosX_ wrote: »
    Tevek wrote: »
    Certainly it's not their only reason for organizing. It is, however, their primary reason. It's the unifying reason. It's how all those random people found each other in the first place. And while they may not explicitly worship in the sense that they all get down on their knees and pray for the duration of a gathering (though some probably do), they worship in the sense that they live their lives (or at least attempt to live their lives) in accordance with whatever religious frame work they've established. They obey their god. They have that in common.

    Athiests have nothing in common (save through happenstance) but a general disbelief in any god.

    So, atheists cannot get together and 'live their lives in accordance with' whatever framework they have established? There are some deeply philosophical roots to atheist belief, and conceivably, atheism as a religion could be helpful. The same way bible study groups get together to discuss ethical issues from a theistic view, atheist groups could get together to discuss these issues from an atheistic view.

    I actually wrote an essay of sorts about this very thing. It's not very good. But maybe some of you will find it interesting.

    Sure, a group of atheists could get together and establish a framework for how to live their lives if they so chose. They can also get together and discuss the beauty of nature and the meaning of life.

    The difference is, atheists who do not share that particular world-view are still atheists. They're not defined by what they believe. They're defined by what they don't believe.

    Tevek on
  • durandal4532durandal4532 Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Edit; fucked up the button pushing. my bad

    I'm speaking more on the point that creating an us vs them mentality would not be a beneficial belief to adopt and no Hitler was not a religious person. He made religious statements in his speeches because he was a great politician and public speaker and his audience was religious. His referances were more to 'divine right' and 'providence' more along the lines of manifest destiny than actual religious statements. And 'Godless Communism' has been a rallying cry for almost any group that opposed the soviet union.

    But this isn't a political debate. I think taking a more passive stance in politics than creating an atheist movement would better benefit to atheists as a whole.
    Yeah but you know, Hitler also ordered Atheists into death camps.

    I think what I am saying is that Hitler would not have been invited to an Atheist Club Meeting.

    I agree that making the "us vs. them" mentality more prevalent is a bad idea, but the "us exists" mentality isn't necessarily damaging. Yes, atheists aren't a very homogeneous minority, but they are a minority and it might be nice to have some sort of official club where you know that the first dozen responses to news of your car accident won't be "god works in mysterious ways".

    Edit: Sure, they're defined by non-belief.

    But I will guarantee you that 90% of the atheists in the US will have similar experiences to draw upon, simply because they're in a certain culture during a certain period and hold a certain non-belief.

    It's not like you actually go out and grab atheists, and force them to join the One True Atheist Church. You don't need an Anti-Pope issuing edicts to non-Christians and Buddhists alike.

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  • HachfaceHachface Not the Minister Farrakhan you're thinking of Dammit, Shepard!Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Tevek wrote: »

    The difference is, athiests who do not share that particular world-view are still athiests. They're not defined by what they believe. They're defined by what they don't believe.

    That really is the crux of it. Atheism is just a reaction to theism. However, some kind of humanist community organization that includes atheism as one plank in a platform of beliefs concerning the value of reason sounds like a fine idea to me. Again, look to the Unitarians for your model. Unitarians are essentially agnostic; their central belief system is not theological, but based on human dignity and respect for all people. Still, they fill much the same role in people's lives as other churches do, and in my purely anecdotal experience Unitarians are on average far more committed to church activities than most other churchgoers. I don't see how a similar organization that simply goes a step further and embraces total atheism couldn't be successful.

    Hachface on
  • theclamtheclam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Hachface wrote: »
    Tevek wrote: »

    The difference is, athiests who do not share that particular world-view are still athiests. They're not defined by what they believe. They're defined by what they don't believe.

    That really is the crux of it. Atheism is just a reaction to theism. However, some kind of humanist community organization that includes atheism as one plank in a platform of beliefs concerning the value of reason sounds like a fine idea to me. Again, look to the Unitarians for your model. Unitarians are essentially agnostic; their central belief system is not theological, but based on human dignity and respect for all people. Still, they fill much the same role in people's lives as other churches do, and in my purely anecdotal experience Unitarians are on average far more committed to church activities than most other churchgoers. I don't see how a similar organization that simply goes a step further and embraces total atheism couldn't be successful.

    That kind of organization would probably be beneficial. However, I reject the notion that atheism is just a reaction to theism. Atheism is different than anti-theism. Personally, I came to my atheism before I had any exposure to a religious community. Atheism is a natural set of affairs.

    theclam on
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  • GoodOmensGoodOmens Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    uberneko wrote: »
    Also, I await the day that we get an atheist president.

    You'll be waiting a long time, I think. I recall reading one poll (and no, I don't have a cite) which found that slightly less than half the US population would even CONSIDER voting for an atheist.

    We will have a woman president, a Jewish president and an openly gay president before an atheist.

    [EDIT]Not...you know...at the same time. Though that would be awesome.

    GoodOmens on
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  • zeenyzeeny Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I do believe that all people, in time, will "come to their senses" and stop basing their lives on myths.

    I don't and I see no problem with diversity. Having irrational beliefs or thoughts is perfectly fine as long as those aren't bringing any actual real world harm to individuals or society. Religion is not really an enemy by itself and basing parts of one's life on it is something nobody should have a problem with.
    But, I don't want to stand by the sidelines and just wait while people are mislead, hurt and killed in the name of fictional stories. How should I, as a hopefully moral and rational being, act here?

    My honest opinion is that atheism needs no "priests" other than progress and that the "religion kills" argument, while having some small merits is one pretty big cum hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy.
    I do not know a single "converted" atheist . By the definition of the world, most agnostics(which in my friends are just atheists who don't want to join religious discussions) or atheists reach their conclusions about faith on their own.
    If you need to act in order to fix the world, there are probably better causes you could join.

    zeeny on
  • ElitistbElitistb Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I'm not certain that soviet style communism was "atheist". They forced atheism down people's throats, yes, but that is because they were destroying any other political structure that might have stood against them. And typically religions are political structures, especially those like the catholic church, and DEFINITELY the churches in that location at that time.

    In short, it looks to me like they made the country atheist because it was convenient for their power schemes, not out of any actual ideology.

    I'll have to read up on it more. This is a somewhat uneducated opinion.

    Elitistb on
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  • TamTam Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    I always found British secularism curious. From what I understand, it's has a relatively high non-religious population, and yet Britain has a national Church.
    According to this, of the church attending population, it's likely that many go for cultural identity rather than religious belief and worship.

    How did this develop and why didn't it happen in the U.S.?

    Tam on
  • OatsOats Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Elitistb wrote: »
    I'm not certain that soviet style communism was "atheist". They forced atheism down people's throats, yes, but that is because they were destroying any other political structure that might have stood against them. And typically religions are political structures, especially those like the catholic church, and DEFINITELY the churches in that location at that time.

    In short, it looks to me like they made the country atheist because it was convenient for their power schemes, not out of any actual ideology.

    I'll have to read up on it more. This is a somewhat uneducated opinion.

    The Russian Orthodox Church had (and to some degree still has) a rather privileged position in Russia/the USSR. They were tolerated and to some extent even permitted. Any kind of civil society was often infiltrated and demoralized or just straight up repressed though, including religious ones.

    I'd like to see some kind of Athiest movement, but I do think it is exceptionally unfeasable. The most poignant commonality is that we/they do not believe, which makes for an awkward rallying point.

    I think a better means of positive change would be a secular movement, making the organization with indifference to religion and going from there.

    Oats on
  • QuothQuoth the Raven Miami, FL FOR REALRegistered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Personally, I try to live a good life and be nice to people and if they ask then I tell them I'm an atheist. Maybe it's not a sufficiently proactive approach, but hopefully it helps combat any negative atheist stereotypes just a little bit.

    Quoth on
  • TubularLuggageTubularLuggage Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Bama wrote: »
    Tevek wrote: »
    I mean, religious groups get together to worship.
    In my experience, this is far from the only reason religious groups gather. Hell, how much actual worship happens in an average church service?

    What kind of church services have you been to?
    I'm Catholic. A typical mass from my experience is made up of a few things (and I've been to Catholic masses in many different places, so it's not a local thing).

    - Songs of a worshiping nature.
    - Prayers (very worship-y).
    - Readings (from religious texts).
    - Homily by the priest. (Usually applies to one of the readings, but doesn't have to. Can consist of anecdotes, life lessons, etc).
    - Communion (again, very worship-y).

    Aside from some of the homily sometimes, I'm hard pressed to think of something in the mass that isn't about worship, and the homily is typically very worship oriented.

    Anyway, if Atheists want to form their own organization, power to them. It's just not clear what any group, atheists included, that are united in not doing something, would do.

    TubularLuggage on
  • electricitylikesmeelectricitylikesme Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Atheist organizations only ever exist to operate in adversity to religion, because it's not exactly a tight-knit group of people and they are likely to have vastly different ideas about the appropriate moral code for society and the like.

    However, it is necessary for these organizations to exist at a time when ensuring freedom of religion for all...well let's face it, it's never unimportant and that's generally what atheists will accomplish. You're right to not believe and be treated equally for not believing in a Christian god equally ensures that you can believe in any other god as well.

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  • MuragoMurago Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Albert Einstein believed in a God...though his interpretation was much different than what most religions believe.

    All i'm saying is that I pretty much believe anything and everything he ever said. Yes, even if he was wrong.

    =)

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  • DanHibikiDanHibiki Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    Murago wrote: »
    Albert Einstein believed in a God...though his interpretation was much different than what most religions believe.

    All i'm saying is that I pretty much believe anything and everything he ever said. Yes, even if he was wrong.

    =)

    well yes, he used "God" as a metaphor for nature.

    You know it helps to understand what he said, before you dedicate yourself to believe it.

    DanHibiki on
  • MrMisterMrMister Jesus dying on the cross in pain? Morally better than us. One has to go "all in".Registered User regular
    edited December 2008
    zeeny wrote: »
    I do not know a single "converted" atheist . By the definition of the world, most agnostics(which in my friends are just atheists who don't want to join religious discussions) or atheists reach their conclusions about faith on their own.

    Actually, my dad abandoned Catholicism at least in part because of reading Bertrand Russel. I'm pretty sure that he's been a big influence on the people who've read him. So no.

    MrMister on
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