Senate Atheism 5.0 - Is Atheism a belief?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by SuperWatto, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. FatBurt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 21, 2003
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    Atheism is an absence of belief

    If you don't believe in Thor or Odin or any one of the other 3000 odd deities this world has had at one point or another you are therefore an atheist.

    It may be a sematics point but a "pure" atheist believes in no gods, everyone else just disbelieves in the majority of them.
  2. Rogue_Ten Chosen One

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    Aug 18, 2002
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    im speaking mostly from an anthropological perspective, in terms of the social and psychosocial space that atheistic belief and debate occupies. atheism, by its bare coexistence with religious belief, gets placed dialectical opposite to religious belief and thus incurs some of its characteristics. this is why many people, including some people who, like myself, are functionally atheist, find atheism -- as a concept people debate, make decisions around, and incorporate into their identity -- to feel suspiciously a bit like religious belief, even though, on a rational level, as divorced as possible from human context, it is simply the position least contradicted by the evidence (or lack thereof)

    again, this is a function of the existence in the social space of religious belief - if there was no religious belief, atheism wouldnt resemble it. atheism wouldnt be a facet of identity. it wouldnt serve a social function oddly parallel to religious belief. it would just be an observable fact, like "there are no unicorns"
    Last edited by Rogue_Ten, Feb 27, 2013
  3. SuperWatto Manager Emeritus

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    Can't deny any of that, though I must say it irks me to an extent. I guess it comes with the territory old time religions are forced to give up.

    Fatburt, are you Stephen F Roberts? :eek:
  4. Alexrd Force Ghost

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    Jul 7, 2009
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    I completely agree with your post. And as a side effect, you can encounter many cases of atheistic fanaticism.
  5. FatBurt Force Ghost

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    Jul 21, 2003
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    No I'm not Roberts but I've seen his quote many times and it just resonates with me.

    I've popped it into my own words though
  6. Mortimer Snerd Force Ghost

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    Dec 27, 2012
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    FatBurt stated the simplest and most obvious answer to the title of this thread. As Occam's Razor says, the simplest explanation tends to be the correct one. I didn't mean for that to sound condescending to FatBurt, quite the opposite.

    I know these are cliches, but calling atheism a religion is calling bald a hair color and abstinence a sex position.

    Atheists...true atheists, not agnostics, are without theism. That's what makes them atheists. That isn't to say they're without a sense of spirituality, but they're without theism. There's a difference. A person can acknowledge their spiritual side and still maintain that there's no "god" of any kind directing and controlling the Universe with some kind of agenda at play. I would say that as a human being, it is essential to acknowledge and at least make some sort of modest effort to embrace that side of one's self. Not for moral purposes (you can grasp those with innate common sense) but for the betterment of society. When people open themselves up to the idea of "something" (not a god) greater than themselves, the humility tends to direct the mind towards things like...oh, I dunno...peaceful resolution of conflict. Religion has a tendency to justify horribly non-peaceful action for whatever anyone is brooding about.

    Does that make sense?

    TL;DR: Spirituality good, religion bad. Just one man's opinion.
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  7. Ghost Chosen One

    Member Since:
    Oct 13, 2003
    star 6
    Why does it matter if atheism is technically a "belief" or not?

    It's one of the most pointless, so-called "serious" arguments.



    And if we want to get into semantics, usually when people ask "what do you believe?" they're really asking "what is your stance on religion?"
    "I'm _______ [Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Atheist]." are all valid answers.
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Feb 27, 2013
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  8. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    Apr 17, 2006
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    Incorrect. It is a *lack* of belief in the existence of God. "I don't believe in X" is different than "I believe X doesn't exist."

    Mainly because it assumes that not believing in God first requires attacking the question of "Does God exist?" What happens when a group of people have never heard of your deity? They can't "believe in the non-existance of god" because they don't know of God. But they're still atheists because they don't believe in or worship God.
  9. Mortimer Snerd Force Ghost

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    Dec 27, 2012
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    I would say because people who openly identify themselves as "atheists" are often vilified and judged to be "satan-worshipers" or "heathens" or "deviant" especially in the United States, where people seem to embrace ignorance a lot. I think discussions like these are necessary given the climate of religious fervor that is slowly...too slowly imo...losing control of the minds of the people it intends to control. Atheists need to stand up for their beliefs, or lack thereof, based simply on the fact that challenging the status quo is a path to societal progress. They need to stop being bullied by members of organized religion because they they don't "step in line" and point out logical fallacies when they arise. In any situation. In any argument. In any discussion. Again, this has nothing to do with morals or spirituality...it has to do with having or not having a theistic dictation of what one feels they need to adhere to.
    Last edited by Mortimer Snerd, Feb 27, 2013
  10. Blue_Lightsaber42 Jedi Master

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    Dec 7, 2007
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    I agree with what a few people have been saying, that atheism is a conscious choice to not believe in a god, whereas agnosticism is more of not having an opinion about the subject. Usually when people say they're atheist it's because they've decided that they don't believe as opposed to just not knowing what to think.
  11. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    Apr 17, 2006
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    Agnosticism has nothing to do with what yochoose to have an opinion on. It has a specific philosophical definition which deals with ones position on what can be known by humans.

    I'll ask everyone here who thinks atheism is a conscious choice to not believe in gods: what are we going to call atheists who are atheist because they've never heard of the concept of deities?
  12. Mortimer Snerd Force Ghost

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  13. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    I always frame this in the context that I'm an agnostic atheist. The two terms are, broadly speaking, relating to different questions. To start with the second first.... the question of if I believe in any gods must have an answer. It is either that I do, or I don't. In that sense, one must be either an atheist or a theist. Either you do have the positive belief in a god, or you don't. The related question is more about knowledge, and if the question of any gods or not is answerable. For me, I don't have any reason to believe in any gods, but given how nebulous that term is, I don't think it can be fully knowable. However, I do think that to any useful approximation, the question has been ruled out at least as it relates to the more common interventionist gods. But I don't have ability to do something like disprove, say, a god as it is viewed deists as starting the universe and then not doing any sorts of intervention. But at that point, if there's no functional effect from the existence of that god or not, I don't really care.

    There are some people that take the nonexistence of god as something they believe and so they have a belief that involves atheism, just as there are groups that I think would qualify as religions that are atheistic, like Buddhism, Raelism, and Scientology, but that isn't because atheism represents a belief, but that it is an attribute held by some religions.
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  14. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Jun 2, 2007
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    Imagine that every belief is like a TV channel. There's the Christian channel, the Hindu channel, the Muslim channel, the Jewish channel, etc. Every believer has their favorite.

    Atheism, on the other hand, is like turning the TV off. They're not watching the TV at all. So no, atheism is not a belief.
  15. DT421 Force Ghost

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    Nov 6, 2003
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    For me, until I hear a coherent, rational definition as to what is meant when someone talks of "God" to me, I can't believe, or place any "blind faith" into it. The whole thing is a non-starter. I simply understand that many have placed their belief, or "blind faith" in such a concept and leave them to it, until it begins to infringe upon my rights.
  16. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    Jul 4, 1999
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    when you term atheism as a "religious belief", do you mean to equate it to a belief in god? and if so, and in doing so, are you promoting or denouncing it?
  17. Fire_Ice_Death Chosen One

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    Feb 15, 2001
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    The problem with 'faith' in the modern era is that it's not so much about 'faith' as it is about certainty these days. It's no longer, 'God might or might not exist, but I'm going to believe in it anyway,' but it's, 'I know that god exists and if you think otherwise then you're scum so believe as I do.' And I think that's what turns most Atheists off and turns them into what militant Christians call 'militants', but I've not met an Atheist that is totally hostile to religion, sure, some will be vehemently against faith of any sort, but militancy to me is more about actually lobbing bombs at people. Or at least collecting a lot of guns (another past time that Christians are fond of).

    For me I fall more along the lines of what Lowie was talking about, Agnostic Atheism. I'm not so blinded by lack of religious belief that I wouldn't accept any proof of a deity, but I haven't seen any proof that one exists. Physical evidence is what actually would convince me, but even with the quasi-physical evidence that has been given thus far has been debunked.
    Last edited by Fire_Ice_Death, Feb 28, 2013
  18. DT421 Force Ghost

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    Nov 6, 2003
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    Well, kind of along those lines, if someone finally gives my a coherent, rational definition as to what is meant when someone speaks of "God", then I'll naturally require proof that this "God" exists. I feel that the onus of proof lies with the person making the positive truth claim. But then having to actually provide that proof would challenge "blind faith" ("Undermines") - so I've been told - and I feel that that is merely an excuse to provide nothing. I'll then I feel as though I'd be right back to square one on the whole subject.
    Last edited by DT421, Feb 28, 2013
  19. EHT New Films Manager

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    Sep 13, 2007
    star 6
    Yes, that's kind of what I was getting at with this:



    I still come back to my original answer on this, I think: it's just what the name literally means: NOT believing in a god. That's not quite the same as believing that god does not exist.
  20. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    This is not a very useful definition of "religious belief." I'm not Jewish, but I believe many Jews will celebrate Passover in late March. I also believe that I'll be invited by some of my Jewish friends to celebrate with them and that I'll get to do some of the readings.

    There. That's a religious belief. Because it is a belief about a religious topic.

    I'd say a discriminatory disbelief in one or more religions because of a positive belief in another religion is a religious belief.

    But a non-discriminatory disbelief in all religions that rely on the occurrence of supernatural events is clearly not a religious belief, even though I agree with Rogue_Ten that atheism tends to reflect whatever religion it happens to be standing next to - in the case of western atheists that's Catholic and Protestant Christianity for the most part.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Feb 28, 2013
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  21. Piltdown Force Ghost

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    May 3, 2002
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    Not it isn't. You're just twisting logic using indirect references. It is a belief about how you and some other people are going to spend their time. Just because "I believe I'll see my neighbors packing their family into a van this Sunday, because they are going to church" doesn't mean it has anything to do with church or religion. The same observation could be made not knowing what they were going to do with their time. I could rephrase it to: "I believe I'll see my neighbors packing their kids into a van this Sunday, because they almost always do".

    Plus, the dates for Passover are determinate. Regardless of how much you believe the events of the Exodus are true, and how much you care about the origin of the festival, Passover exists. You don't get to choose believe in it - only whether or not you celebrate it. Just like I don't get to choose to believe in Tuesday. They are dates set by metrics - words to define a period of time.
  22. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    I'm not the one who defined religious belief as a belief "about a religious topic." How am I supposed to know which beliefs about which religious topics are excluded?
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Feb 28, 2013
  23. Asterix_of_Gaul Force Ghost

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    Sep 13, 2007
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    See, I've always taken that as an agnostic Atheist rather than a pure atheist. My take: An agnostic Atheist doesn't believe in God, doesn't know if God exists, but assumes such a deity probably does not. An atheist believes there is no God.

    Maybe we're just mincing words, but there are definitely "Atheists" who believe there is no God as opposed to those who simply view such a possibility as highly improbable according to what they know--maybe they need their own label aside from "Atheist".
    Last edited by Asterix_of_Gaul, Feb 28, 2013
  24. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Jun 28, 2006
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    Asterix, I've only ever known of one atheist to have taken that hardline of a stance, although username escapes me for time being. What I'd ask about there, though, is the way that functions in structure. You said, in two consecutive sentences, that an atheist doesn't believe in gods or know if they exist, but then also that an atheist believes that there is no god. Those contrary stances should exist just from the adding of an adjective, imo, and seems to come from omitting that an atheist just needs to not believe in a god, but that can then be divided into two kinds of atheists, rather than acting as though agnostic atheists aren't atheists.
  25. Asterix_of_Gaul Force Ghost

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    Sep 13, 2007
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    Did you mean: "Those contrary stances shouldn't exist just from adding "Agnostic?" Otherwise, I'm not sure I follow. Also I'm not sure "should" is the right word there--I'm confused by your justification for it. If you want to feel that "agnostic" is not a necessary adjective to use for the classification of some Atheists, that's up to you, though that seems subjective to me.

    All I'm saying is I have met and encountered many "Atheists" who do not think about the existence of God from an evidential point of view, but rather believe such a being does not exist. There is a reason why many others will claim this about Atheists and with respect, it's not because there is only one such person out there despite your own personal experience.

    I would venture to say, it is a fact that such Atheists exist and do they deserve a separate title from perhaps what you would consider a typical Atheist i.e. my idea of an agnostic atheist?
    Last edited by Asterix_of_Gaul, Feb 28, 2013