Senate Atheism 5.0 - Is Atheism a belief?

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

  1. Armenian_Jedi Force Ghost

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    any particular reason why you think that?


    EDIT: posted this pretty much at the same time as your last post. blah
    Last edited by Armenian_Jedi, Apr 14, 2013
  2. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    When did I do that? I said from the beginning that my definition of a practicing atheistic Jew was one who practiced her religion while believing that all the supernatural events of the Torah, including the existence of a deity, are merely allegorical. And that this belief is widespread and widely accepted among Jewish congregations.

    Please review my opening statement. Jabba-wocky's opening statement:

    I proved the religion's tolerance for atheism. And Jabba-wocky has demonstrated with his latest link that conservative Judaism does not require an "affirmative belief in an omnipotent deity."
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Apr 14, 2013
  3. Emperor_Billy_Bob Chosen One

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    But the point is that you are doing it based on a false model.

    First, this was in response to the notion that we can create some working definition of the minimum requirements of a religion by appeal to consensus among the different subsects. I am much less interested in the specific topic of Jabbadabbado's heretical/non-heretical beliefs.

    The idea does not work because the more conservative/authoritarian groups become, the more stringent their requirements usually become and the more brash and willing to declare heresy they also become. In short, to hold Reform Jews or Protestants as legitimate partial interpreters of the Jewish or Christian religion is to beg the question under discussion.





    (I don't know why this is dark and bold like this). This is an attack on IQ testing, not the factual statement I made. What testing has been done backs up my assertion.



    This is too speculative to even really discuss. The fact is, we don't know how often, throughout history, high levels of intelligence has correlated to lower levels of religious adherance (because there was significant social pressure against open displays of non-belief), but off the top of my head, even in the works of polymaths like da Vinci, Shakespeare, John Milton, etc. in societies drenched in Christianity, they displayed a willingness to vary from Orthodoxy, even when their society did not usually include the option of atheism within its realm of memes.
    Last edited by Emperor_Billy_Bob, Apr 14, 2013
  4. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Why not? When people make some story up and then try to pass it off as the ultimate truth without having any evidence whatsoever, why shouldn't I despise it? Why shouldn't any rational thinking human being despise it? Because that's all religion is: a 100% fictional story that has zero proven facts.
  5. Ghost Chosen One

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    Do you despise everything that you don't understand? Evangelical Christians and Fundamentalist Muslims don't understand Atheism... is it right for them to despise the phenomenon of atheism then? If not, then why is it alright for you to despise the phenomenon of faith without objective proof?

    Do you despise Star Wars? That's a made-up story that tries to convey truths about mortality, morality, a fall from grace, and redemption.

    Is the origin story in Genesis completely literal? No. It wasn't meant to be. But it still can convey ultimate truths about who we are.

    There are stories in the Bible with more historical basis too. It is not a "100% fictional story with zero proven facts." That is a fact.

    But anyways, the only story that really matters, in the Christian perspective, is the story of Jesus.

    Religion contains faith, but it's not just about faith. It's about teaching Moral Values too... like to love your enemy, to turn the other cheek, to forgive others, to take care of the poor, etc. What evidence do you need? Don't these values speak for themselves? (And in my view, the moral values part is more essential than the faith part)

    If you want evidence for the resurrection of Jesus... what evidence would convince you?



    Also, not all religions claim to have sole knowledge of the ultimate truth. There are even Christians and Muslims who believe that. But this is even more apparent in Eastern religions. The Buddha himself said to test his methods, and if they do not work, then to find something that does. Sikhs and Catholics both believe there are other ways to God (but of course they believe their way is the most assured). Not all religions are mirror-images of each other, it's not like you can just substitute Jesus for Mohammed or Buddha or Confucius and it's the exact same thing.
  6. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    The only things worth believing in are those which can be proven.
  7. Arawn_Fenn Chosen One

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    What is so hard to understand about atheism? A-theism. The name is the definition.
  8. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Summer Dreamer, however, the justification for those moral values is not a philosophical construct, it's the element of faith. One of those other moral values that shows up is that homosexuality is morally wrong, or the subjugation of women, or killing as a punishment for killing. And unlike building moral values off of an underlying set of philosophical principles that can be challenged, these generally become fixed positions because they are not reasoned conclusions, they are statements that have been given as valid based on faith. It's far more rigid, and I think it questions what sort of morals are really being taught. To go with the example I know best, the Bible has plenty of horrible moral values in it. That doesn't mean it has no good ones, but when the way for learning moral values is faith, then there is not a tool to separate out the reprehensible lessons from the noble ones.
  9. Ghost Chosen One

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    I just don't agree with that at all. What about love? What about goodness in other people?

    And how do you know we're not living in some kind of Matrix-style artificial reality right now?

    Well, I could get into a religious argument about some of those moral values (some of which even Jesus explicitly rejected), but that's for another thread.

    I don't think these are fixed positions that can't be challenged... Catholics and Protestants do re-evaluate positions and interpretations. Faith with Reason. (Biblical literalism is a relatively new phenomenon, I think it's almost a form of idol worship.) And you know me, I do treat it as building off a set of underlying moral principles, and that's how I evaluate things.

    As I said, religion is not just about faith, but also teaching moral values. In my view, those values are more essential than the faith component. This was in response to timmoishere saying that religion is a 100% fictional story and nothing more.
    Last edited by Summer Dreamer, Apr 14, 2013
  10. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    Jabba, I find your statements about Judiasm quite curious. Mostly because I have no idea how you developed these beliefs aside from having some Jewish friends. Because as a Jew, I can say with pretty good confidence that you got some stuff wrong.

    I, too, have friends who identify as culturally Jewish without believing in god. They go to their families' seders, they attend Yom Kippur services, they light hanukiot, they went to Hebrew school--some even went on Birthright. They marry outside the tribe, and they let their kids have Christmas trees. These people are generally young, American Jews who celebrate their culture and their family traditions. They identify themselves as Jewish.

    But as a whole, Jews believe in god. The religion was built on the belief of one god. Even the URJ doesn't accept this. The other sects certainly don't; Reform Judiasm isn't even widely accepted outside the U.S. (and certainly not in Israel). You say you've been to a seder (which is great; those are pretty fun. I recommend staying away from the wine if your friends buy Manischewitz). Go to a Yom Kippur service this year. Heck, go to a Shabbat service. God is everywhere. If you do go to a service, I recommend Reform. Conservative is all in Hebrew. Orthodox is all in Hebrew and takes even longer.

    Jews are the Chosen people because they were chosen by god. We don't proselytize. Why should we? We were chosen; others weren't, too bad. But our numbers are dropping. We never recovered from the Holocaust, and Jews of my generation (and even my parents') are moving away from traditional beliefs and practices. We're secularizing, at least in the States, which has put us at odds with many, particularly those in Israel.

    This is a very long-winded way of saying the fact that some younger members in a popular sect in a progressive country don't believe but continue to practice doesn't mean that the religion as a whole is accepting of that. As the links above say. Judiasm itself is not agnostic or atheistic; it does not encourage or accept that as part of itself. Including the Reform movement, which is basically the hippie movement of Judiasm. For the record, I'm Reform; I have a lifelong experience with these matters, my own personal struggles, and no ties to other religions (aka am not an "ex-Christian).



    EDIT: And the topic that drew me to the thread to begin with ... :p It seems that atheism (without theism) is by definition the lack of belief in the absence of a god, not the believe that there is none.
    Last edited by NYCitygurl, Apr 14, 2013
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  11. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

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    >definition the lack of belief in the absence of a god

    might want to rephrase. I think you mean either lack of belief in god or belief in the absence of god.
    NYCitygurl likes this.
  12. Jabba-wocky Chosen One

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    You are trying to elide the difference between taking a less literal view of God and the view that there is no God at all. I don't think that's really appropriate or doable, and neither do most people. Earlier in the thread you leaned heavily on trying to claim people's own understanding of what they are doing should take precedence. If that's so, then you should understand that the people you now claim to be describing would not characterize themselves as atheists. Whereas actual atheists would not agree with even the statements about God in the Conservative declaration of belief. If we are taking people at their word, atheism and Conservative Judaism (as well as broader Jewish religion, as NYCGirl points out) are not really compatible with one another, contrary to what you said.

    Please review my opening statement. Jabba-wocky's opening statement:

    You didn't. You simply keep asserting it, without ever exactly explaining why no one will just come out and say that it's okay to be atheist, let alone the official statements we find rejecting it.

    I think this model is a bit too simplistic, and ignores some important dynamics. As a result, you're essentially overstating the case. I've not got a lot invested here though. I'll happily concede that we "can't" create a list of minimum acceptable beliefs by this method. However, by asking the same question about one specific doctrinal question to all groups, we can find out how universally held that idea is. That's really all we wanted or needed to do in order to objectively test the other Jabba's claims.
  13. NYCitygurl NSWFF Manager

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    :oops: Yeah, I meant lack of belief in god 8-}
  14. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    There are many things that can't be proven, but are still worthwhile. They cover a wide spectrum of topics and fields.

    For example, you cannot prove any emotions. It's impossible to prove that your parents love you (as opposed to them faking it out of a sense of obligation).

    There are also many historical events that we cannot prove, and yet we still accept as true. For example, while we have historical accounts that claim that the Mongols rode horses, it wasn't until about 1990 that they found any Hun horse bones that dated back to the times of the Mongol empire. Did that mean it wasn't worth believing in until 1990? (After all, the historical accounts could have been faked. History is written by the victors.) There are numerous historical figures that we don't have any direct physical evidence of their existence, and in some cases the written accounts of their existence date from decades or centuries after they died.

    The simple fact is that, especially when you start dealing with events that happened in the past, there are many things that simply cannot be proven, because much (if not all) of the evidence has been destroyed over time. That's why fields like history and even "scientific" fields like paleontology or archeology can involve a lot of guesswork. It used to be believed that Apatosaurus (Brontosaurus) preferred to live in marshlands, to use the water to support some of its weight. However, now, it is believed that they preferred dry floodplains. Ultimately, without some sort of time machine to travel back and see for ourselves, we can't definitively answer that debate. We simply don't have enough data to prove it one way or the other.

    But does that mean that it's not worth learning or studying?
  15. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    Jun 2, 2007
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    Yes, it is worth learning all we can about history, biology, the nature of the universe, etc. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. But making stuff up and trying to pass it off as truth is a terrible thing. And that's where gods come in. There is zero evidence for the existence of any gods whatsoever. If one is discovered in the future, great.
  16. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    But much of the "knowledge" that we have about those subjects is actually nothing more than a "best guess" about what happened. In many cases, that "best guess" can't be proven one way or the other.

    By your previous statement, because that "knowledge" in history, biology, etc can't be proven, it isn't worth believing in.

    The truth is that life is never that simple, and you can never prove everything completely. There are some things that you do have to take on faith (i.e. believing something without proof) until something better comes along.
  17. Jabbadabbado Manager Emeritus

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    Mar 19, 1999
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    lol. You're trying to alter my argument to avoid admitting that I'm right. First, I said that atheism/and agnosticism was widely accepted in synagogues across the country. The Washington Post article acknowledges as much, giving independent confirmation of obvervations through my own experience. And the statement of conservative articles of faith you linked to recognizes the wide divergences of opinion about God, acknowledging a wide range of beliefs, including belief in a God that is not just "less literal" but completely allegorical.

    Then you should understand that the people you now claim to be describing would not characterize themselves as atheists.

    In my experience that is incorrect. They describe themselves as practitioners of the Jewish religion who do not believe in any supernatural entity, which you insisted on as the definition of God in your opening post. I was clear from the outset how I was defining Jewish atheism/agnosticism as a belief in God as an allegory for the establishment of Jewish culture.
    Last edited by Jabbadabbado, Apr 15, 2013
  18. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

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    Kimball, did you seriously relegate all of science to 'best guess' status? You should know that the rigor in reaching scientific theory is far, far above 'guessing.'
    timmoishere likes this.
  19. timmoishere Force Ghost

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    If science is a "best guess," then God is a "worst guess." At least science has evidence to back its claims up. What does God have?
  20. Mortimer Snerd Force Ghost

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    Fervent throngs of devotees ready to fight.
  21. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    Nice try to twist my words.

    Notice the fields of "science" I was referring to, and how they are largely history based or in the social sciences. In those fields, there are many things that are unprovable, because the evidence that would prove things one way or the other simply did not survive the passage of time (or at least, if it has we haven't found it). We can find written records, but those do not physically prove anything (any more than a book of historical fiction could be said to prove anything). All they do is provide what someone else claims happened.

    In those fields, you can't simply run a repeatable experiment to test theories. You can only interpret what evidence can be found, and nothing more. Many times, that does boil down to a "best guess".

    I didn't say anything about the "hard" sciences, which is where the scientific method is of far greater utility, largely because you can perform those repeatable experiments.

    Just because we call a wide range of fields "science" doesn't mean that they all work the same way.
  22. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

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    KK, two of the fields you responded to were "biology" and "nature of the universe." You'd agree that those two fall under the purview of hard science, no?
  23. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    The only ones I specifically mentioned were history and biology, and even biology has elements that cannot be proven experimentally (particularly when you are looking at incomplete fossil records). Anything beyond that is you extrapolating what I said, not my own words.

    I specifically didn't respond to the "nature of the universe" because that's a very nebulous term.

    So please, stop putting words into my mouth.
  24. Lord Vivec Force Ghost

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    Apr 17, 2006
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    1) What exactly does an incomplete fossil record stop from being experimentally verified (better term than proven)?
    2) No one is putting words in your mouth. You used the term "those subjects" and put an "etc" at the end of biology and history.
  25. Kimball_Kinnison Force Ghost

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    It is a true principle that if you examine what anyone writes under a microscope, you can find flaws or imprecisions in it.

    If you look at the full context of the discussion, the list of subjects was given by @timmoishere in response to my citing the fields of history, paleontology, and archeology. Rather than assume that he was taking my argument (pointing out that some fields of science have significant components that cannot be proven) and trying to apply it to all science in general. I interpreted his statement of "history, biology, the nature of the universe, etc" to be a summarizing of what I referred to. When I then referred to "history, biology, etc", I was similarly referring back to the previous posts, and I was attempting to clarify that there are some aspects of the sciences that are inherently unprovable, largely when you are dealing with events that occurred in the past that cannot be exactly duplicated today.

    You jumped immediately from that context to claiming that I was relegating "all of science" to being merely a "best guess". When I tried to clarify that, you are again reading into my statements things that I did not say.

    In other words, you are trying to nitpick what I said because I refused to nitpick what he said, and instead gave his comments the benefit of the doubt.

    To clearly state my argument: note the word that I bolded above: some. There are some things that we are incapable of proving one way or the other. We cannot simply go back in time to observe how dinosaurs lived, nor what color they were, or similar aspects of their lives. Even for relatively recent historical events, we have very little physical proof (if any), and have to rely on second- or third-hand sources to know what "actually" happened.

    The fact that those things cannot be proven does not make them worthless (as @timmoishere claimed).

    One of the most important things to recognize in any inquiry is exactly what your limits are. The scientific method is a tool designed for use in things that can be verified through experimentation, but it is inadequate when applied outside that context. Not everything that is worthwhile or useful can be proven, nor is everything that can be proven worthwhile or useful.