I can't really stand it when Tom discusses atheism/agnosticism

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No religious beliefs define atheism—no religious dogma, no religious practice, no religious rituals, no metaphysical claims. That's why it isn't A RELIGION. Why this is so difficult for some people, I don't know.

Last night, I said to my son, who is a software engineer (logic, Antifascist), "So, Steve, do you think atheism is a religion?" Without hesitation, he answered, "Of course not." I mean, it's a no-brainer to most people.

Incidentally, I am not an atheist, nor a theist. I can say that because I know what those two words mean.

Zenzoe
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him think [sic].

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Antifascist
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Yes I have heard it a thousand times and the rddle of how non belief is not a belief will continue to escape me. Again please explain how to differentiate between the agnostic, who relaizes there are rational metaphysical questions which seem to rise from some rational capacity within us, and that they, the agnostic, recognize the questions are at best unanswerable.

So from my perspective if the atheist is to be contrasted from the agnostic, the distinction between the two needs to be based in their approach to such questions.

Most atheists really to seem have no interest in thisrational couching of the first belief system to somehow avoid analytic critique of any manner becauuse there is no there there to criticize, and often are more reationary than they are purely evolved logicians.

Sorry but the rise of atheism can be attributed as much to an alienated, if not nihlistic culture, as much as it can be seen as one raising the banner of scientific insight

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Semi permeable ...
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Yes, to mentally masturbate, or to merely masturbate, that is your question Semi...

Zenzoe
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Think about this: How many "isms" among this long list (and that's only the first page, the first starting with "A.") are religions?

Zenzoe
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Quote Semi permeable memebrain:

Good to see some folks questioning the beliefs behind atheism. I agree that the stamp analogy is clearly a false analogy. Atheism is not simply not collecting stamps, it is making a metaphysical claim about the ultimate nature of stamps

In case it has not been mentioned here so far, those who believe in a determined universe that can be explained entirely by matter and scientific laws run into a problem over the question of free-will. Suprisingly most of them do not even understand the contradiction until it is explained to them

Semi:

I'd be interested in your brief summary of the intersection of free will and determined universe/scientific laws.

I may not get to read it too soon, I have 40 people coming over to my house today. My wife would kill me if she saw me goofin' off at the computer.

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Laborisgood
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Quote Laborisgood:
Quote Semi permeable memebrain:

Good to see some folks questioning the beliefs behind atheism. I agree that the stamp analogy is clearly a false analogy. Atheism is not simply not collecting stamps, it is making a metaphysical claim about the ultimate nature of stamps

In case it has not been mentioned here so far, those who believe in a determined universe that can be explained entirely by matter and scientific laws run into a problem over the question of free-will. Suprisingly most of them do not even understand the contradiction until it is explained to them

Semi:

I'd be interested in your brief summary of the intersection of free will and determined universe/scientific laws.

I may not get to read it too soon, I have 40 people coming over to my house today. My wife would kill me if she saw me goofin' off at the computer.

Wise woman. She has something actual to think about today. "Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine." —Shunryu Suzuki

Zenzoe
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Zenzoe- It is of course a little difficult to carry any real conversaion with answers such as your last. In general you seem to emphasze makng clever insults as opposed to real discusson. All I can say is that your construction of atheism seems to suggest that many of the questions which have been generally attributed as the mainstays of philosophy are no more than mental masturbation. Such a view reinforces my view that your position is beyond analysis and questioning.

Laborisgood- I will try to dig up one of my old posts here on the question of free-will

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Semi permeable ...
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Quote Semipermeablemembrain:

Zenzoe- It is of course a little difficult to carry any real conversaion with answers such as your last. In general you seem to emphasze makng clever insults as opposed to real discusson. All I can say is that your construction of atheism seems to suggest that many of the questions which have been generally attributed as the mainstays of philosophy are no more than mental masturbation. Such a view reinforces my view that your position is beyond analysis and questioning.

Semi, if you want to equate the institution formed to express belief in a supernatural power ("a religion") and philosophy in general, which your sentence, "All I can say is that your construction of atheism seems to suggest that many of the questions which have been generally attributed as the mainstays of philosophy are no more than mental masturbation" does, all I can say is we'll never be on the same page, and you will never get my position. Atheists may reject the philosophical constructs behind religion, but that does not mean they promote a contrary but equal-in-character religion. To disbelieve in the supernatural is not to establish a religion, in my opinion.

My position is that because the statement "atheism is not a religion" is self-evident, I see no sensible value in discussing it. Philosophers love to exercise their very brilliant minds on any and all questions the human mind is capable of entertaining, often without ever coming to agreement; the joy of the mental exercise is the point, not truth. That's why I refer to it as mental masturbation.

I'm sure you're familiar with the classic joke about philosophy:

The First Law of Philosophy: For every philosopher, there exists an equal and opposite philosopher.

The Second Law of Philosophy: They're both wrong.

As a woman I constantly have to struggle against the fear that arises, when I stand up for my views. If I seem contrary and argumentative, I'm sorry, but I don't see a value in backing down or disappearing. Perhaps you also saw Gloria Feldt's Keynote Speech at the 2010 Bioneers Conference on Free Speech TV? If not, here is an excerpt, where she speaks of women facing the fear of confrontation and controversy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AWg-O-D_bjU I take heart in this.

Zenzoe
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

While it is quite possible to be an athiest and be religious at the same time (for example Bhuddists), many people would interpret being religious as having a complex system of belief based entirely on faith and having no basis in reason, observation or science. In this way of thinking religion is much the same as superstition and being accused of being religious is something of an insult.

I suspect this is not an uncommon outlook among athiests and this accounts for the reaction you find odd. In any event, athiests generally feel they have come to their belief through reason, not through the kind of childhood indoctrination that is the usual path people take to religion.

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PensiveLiberal
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Quote Semi permeable memebrain:

In case it has not been mentioned here so far, those who believe in a determined universe that can be explained entirely by matter and scientific laws run into a problem over the question of free-will. Suprisingly most of them do not even understand the contradiction until it is explained to them

Being an atheist does not require believing in a "determined universe that can be explained entirely by matter and scientific laws". When you get down to the fundamental philosophical questions and paradoxes you find that there is a broad spectrum of possible associations and rationalizations which are used to make them cohere. For example, one may be a materialist philosophically and still believe in free will. You don't have to be able to explain free will to believe in it, you just have to observe it or consider what you have observed of the behavior of sentient beings to be able to be explained in a valid logical manner by the concept of "free will."

Also, an atheist is not necessarilly either someone who believes that they have all the answers so to speak. So the broad categories of atheist and agnostic are really not all that useful. Sticking to the definition of religion which I gave in my previous comment, an atheist could well be someone who rejects religion as well as one who does not believe in a deity or deities but yet regards metaphysical questions as the domain of mystery or the object of further investigation. So getting back to fundamental philosophical questions and paradoxes (since I think the term "metaphysics" carries too many connotations), an atheist is often quite willing to acknowledge the contributions which religious thinkers have made in discussing those problems. But there is a historical revolution in philosophy revolving around dissociating the analysis of these questions from the notion of a supreme being and instead discovering newer ways of comprehending the totality of existence in a scientific and philosphical manner when doing so is part of the process of discovery and growth in understanding. This process would not be possible without for example setting aside, at least temporarilly, the paradoxes which lull us into complacency with the excuse that the human mind is limited in its ability to comprehend reality and truth. Developing new ways of more successfully gaining information and knowledge is often a fortuitous endeavor of pursuing one train of thought only to discover another. Quantum physics for example would not have been developed if physicists had not pursued experiments and investigations based upon the assumptions of atomism. The assumption of atomism was that atoms were the smallest component of reality, and so it was thought that if one could understand what energy was (instead of the "soul" or "spirit") then one could understand how the processes and phenomenon of the material world. The relationship between matter and energy turned out to be more intricate than these 19th century physicisits had guessed. Although I suspect that Neils Bohr and Ernst Mach had some intimation or premonition of what Einstein and Heisenberg would elaborate upon.

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Laborisgood I just wrote a bit on free will and the post somehow evaporated, so I am too frustrated to try another major effort . i assume you understand the basic idea that scientific or mechanist notion that the universe is made of definable matter and solid state rules which govern that matter tends to lead to a vision of deterministic universe So if indeed our minds are governed by those rules then in fact we do not make any choices in the true sense of the word.

Nimble- Yes we went through this back when I was Bad Company a few months back. I am not completley clear on your points in your opening paragraph. I am aware of the claims by some philosophers that determinism and free will are not actually contradictory, but i find such explanations bizzare and as not resonating with the majority of the public. Perhaps that is not what you are alluding to. i am not saying that it is impossible for some atheists to believe in free will, but in general it seems to be associated with the kind of magical thinking which many atheists reference as not consistent with known scientific facts.

As to your second paragraph, I think i agree with your basic idea, but i have run out of time tonight and perhaps will give it a better look tommorow.

I do want to be clear that i do not necessarily see the free will question as a gotcha ya type issue, but i do think it is a problem for a lot of folks who just kind of casually accept the general mechanist view without considering all of the implications imbedded in the notion

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Buddhism does not believe in a creator or judgmental authoritarian figure as Abrahamic religion does. Some sects add on.

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jbpdx
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I admit there is a common association between atheism and a view of the universe at-large as being governed by laws pertaining to inanimate matter. Consider that the different disciplines of natural history/biology and physics and chemistry were and have been maintained seperately out of necessity- While biology awaits insights gained by developments in physics and chemistry, philosophy does not wait upon biology to develop a notion of free-will which is applicable to sentient beings. Thus the paradox of free-will has survived mainly unchanged throughout the different revolutions in thought throughout history. As you are already familiar with the questions and problems which frame this paradox I won't elaborate opon them. Is it necessary to believe in a "soul" in order to believe in free-will, or will quantum physics and so forth provide a new context for understanding the process of decision making and volition?

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nimblecivet
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An extremely dogmatic religious person once wrote...

No religious beliefs define atheism—no religious dogma, no religious practice, no religious rituals, no metaphysical claims.

If atheists are not religious, and Buddhist are atheists, then I guess Buddhist are not religious by your argument. That conclusion seems to me to be false. I guess if your son answered you question faster, his answer would be truer. What is an “ism”? The Greek root “ism’ means any action, or practice, state or condition, principles, doctrines, a usage or characteristic, devotion or adherence. But what would make such behavior religious? Tillich argues that all such doctrines have in common an “ultimate concern.” That ultimate concern can be truth, or reality, or even non-truth or non-reality. For if anyone says that a certain proposition, or belief, existence or non-existence of an entity, or doctrine is true, or even false... as in the case of anti-intellectualism: they are postulating that reality is structured a certain way and not another—that is an “ism.” That is why Tillich says, “He is a theologian in the degree to which his existential situation, and his ultimate concern shape his intuition of the universal logos of the structure of reality as a whole is formed by a particular logos which appears to him on his particular place and reveals to him the meaning of the whole. And he is a theologian in the degree to which the particular logos is a matter of active commitment within a special community.”

Tillich wrote, “There is hardly a historically significant philosopher who does not show the marks of a theologian. He wants to serve the universal logos.” Issac Newton viewed himself as more a theologian than a scientist. This is because any “ism” is saying that the world is one way and not another, that a certain practice is compatible and corresponds with the structure of the world rather than not. In this sense, Tillich says, they are religious. The word “Religion” comes from "re-ligare", means "to tie back, tie fast, tie up" meaning to connect to truth, the actual state of affairs, and not error.

The problem occurs when the “ism” becomes ideological dogmatism. Eric Hoffer writes about this in his book “The True Believer.” When an “ism” predefines the world in a certain way, experience no longer counts—dogmatic orthodoxy defines science as one thing and religion as something else so that "atheism is not a religion" becomes a ‘self-evident’ truth when it is only an ideological definition and then becomes a tautology. It is easy to argue a tautology like “the truth is true” or “reality is real,” “religion is religious belief” ect., and then the apologist starts to think they are a genius and actually know something.

Today, there is a special kind of scientific dogmatism called “scientism” that is really naive realism that is blind to the complexity of scientific theory, epistemology, ontologies, and metaphysics which all schools of science commit themselves whether they admit it or not. Ultimately, all “isms,” scientific or non-scientific, are based on faith. These believers in scientism are as dogmatic and intolerant as any religious cult that you can imagine since for them truth is “self evident."

Zenzoe wrote....

Last night, I said to my son, who is a software engineer (logic, Antifascist).... Philosophers love to exercise their very brilliant minds on any and all questions the human mind is capable of entertaining, often without ever coming to agreement; the joy of the mental exercise is the point, not truth. That's why I refer to it as mental masturbation.

And speaking of logic and mental exercise. I find this attitude toward philosophy very common and yet these same person claim some degree of respect for logic and science. This contradiction is typical of scientism.

Take logic for example...that takes a lot of a mental exercise by the philosopher. Take the logician philosopher Wittgenstein. This “masturbator,” to use your term Zenzoe, developed much of modern logic on which computer are based—namely, logical truth tables. (post #403). Also, he spent a lot of mental energy on seemingly absurdly simple positions like this one: 1.21 Each item can be the case or not the case while everything else remains the same. Which I don’t think anyone ever tried to symbolize in logical form. Here is my effort. (post #474).

(∀x)[(x :/: y){Ix-->(Ix v ~Ix)}--> Ry]

Your ignorance of philosophy and logic is astounding, but it is your arrogance that is most offensive.

Wittgenstein said: 'I am not a religious man but I cannot help seeing every problem from a religious point of view.'

Wittgenstein believed that “the concepts of knowledge and certainty have no application to one's own sensations. (see Philosophical Investigations, § 246).” Norman Malcolm. Ludwig Wittgenstein: A Memoir (Oxford Paperbacks) (Kindle Location 358).

Now this is a problem if anyone claims the certainty of “self evident” truths.

There is a tendency to think of knowledge as a mental state. Now I am supposed to know my own mental states. If I say I have a certain mental state and do not have it, then I have told a lie. But I can say that I know so & so, and it can turn out that so & so is false; but it doesn't follow that I lied. Therefore, knowing is not a mental state....(Kindle Locations 940-943).

...Certain propositions belong to my 'frame of reference'. If I had to give them up, I shouldn't be able to judge anything. Take the example of the earth's having existed for many years before I was born. What evidence against it could there be? A document? Doubt, belief, certainty-like feelings, emotions, pain, etc.- have characteristic facial expressions. Knowledge does not have a characteristic facial expression. There is a tone of doubt, and a tone of conviction, but no tone of knowledge'. Ibid., (Kindle Locations 997-999).

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Antifascist
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Quote Zenzoe:
Quote Laborisgood:
Quote Semi permeable memebrain:

Good to see some folks questioning the beliefs behind atheism. I agree that the stamp analogy is clearly a false analogy. Atheism is not simply not collecting stamps, it is making a metaphysical claim about the ultimate nature of stamps

In case it has not been mentioned here so far, those who believe in a determined universe that can be explained entirely by matter and scientific laws run into a problem over the question of free-will. Suprisingly most of them do not even understand the contradiction until it is explained to them

Semi:

I'd be interested in your brief summary of the intersection of free will and determined universe/scientific laws.

I may not get to read it too soon, I have 40 people coming over to my house today. My wife would kill me if she saw me goofin' off at the computer.

Wise woman. She has something actual to think about today. "Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine." —Shunryu Suzuki

Zenzoe:

I spite of her lapse in judgement on marrying me, my wife is the wisest woman I know. It was wise of me to avoid the computer yesterday or run the risk of my wife unleashing her free will on my ass.

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Laborisgood
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Quote Antifascist:
Quote Zenzoe:

No religious beliefs define atheism—no religious dogma, no religious practice, no religious rituals, no metaphysical claims.

If atheists are not religious, and Buddhist are atheists, then I guess Buddhist are not religious by your argument. That conclusion seems to me to be false.

First, not all Buddhists are a-theistic: "In Buddhism, the deities perform different types of functions for the practitioner. They may be a focus or aid to individual meditation and transformation, in which case they are called yidams, or they may function as a protector of the dharma and/or of an entire class of being. It is important to understand that the precise meaning varies according to the view of a particular school and/or lineage. In all cases, deities are understood as means for liberation and the enlightenment of all.

For example, although a female deity such as Ushnishavijaya is known as a bestower of longevity, her purpose is not simply as a personal protector, but as a way to liberate numberless individuals via the extended life of just one." http://www.khandro.net/deities.htm

Second, you take ONE aspect of religion, from among the MANY aspects, to deny my statement? If that isn't the fallacy of composition, it certainly is dirty pool. But no, Antifascist can do no wrong. That he continues to attack me personally —"Your ignorance of philosophy and logic is astounding, but it is your arrogance that is most offensive."— is not an Ad Hominem logical fallacy. That he accuses me of arrogance is not projection on his part. No, Antifascist is perfect in all ways.

Go play with Nimblecivet, if you want a challenge to your position. At least he is a philosopher who is more interested in truth for truth's sake, than in verbal sparring for the sake of showing off, and he has an interest in the discussion you wish to have.

You don't have to like my opinion, but it stands: Atheism is not a religion. You can insult this stance as "arrogant," but try to imagine how little I care what you think of it. It is no more arrogant than to say a dog is not a table, or a car is not a tree, or a pumpkin is not a peacock, but I'm sure, in your enthusiasm for Proof by Verbosity and Appeal to Authority, you can find twisted, nonsensical arguments to deny those truths too.

Zenzoe
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
First, not all Buddhists are a-theistic:
I only need one counter example of an atheistic Buddhist to show your logic is absurd. If one says “All swans are white” only one black swans shows the proposition is false. The point wasn’t the percentage of Buddhists that are atheist, but that there are some—straw man argument on your part.

Second, you take ONE aspect of religion, from among the MANY aspects, to deny my statement? If that isn't the fallacy of composition, it certainly is dirty pool

—your right, it’s not the fallacy of composition. Maybe I should let you debate and lose to yourself.

But no, Antifascist can do no wrong.
That is a false statement.

That he continues to attack me personally —"Your ignorance of philosophy and logic is astounding, but it is your arrogance that is most offensive."— is not an Ad Hominem logical fallacy.

That isn’t what the Ad Hominem fallacy means: you are not wrong because you are an idiot; You are an idiot because you are wrong. Figure it out.

No, Antifascist is perfect in all ways.

Another empirically false statement.

Go play with Nimblecivet

Nimbelecivet is too smart to argue your absurd positions.

You don't have to like my opinion, but it stands: Atheism is not a religion.

Read Plato, opinion is not knowledge. No one can argue against a tautology (All unmarried males are bachelors)—but only show that it is a tautology.

My goodness....

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Antifascist
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Quote Zenzoe:

Go play with Nimblecivet, if you want a challenge to your position. At least he is a philosopher who is more interested in truth for truth's sake, than in verbal sparring for the sake of showing off, and he has an interest in the discussion you wish to have.

Or, if you like group action, try

http://www.ilovephilosophy.com/index.php

All I can say at this point it that the likes of Daniel Dennet, Chalmers, etc. are far below on my to-read list under Hegel and Wittgenstein. That being said there are two types of mental activity which philosophy, to my knowledge, has yet to incorporate.

The first is the physiological process. My guess based on superficial impressions is that anti has less use for Quine than Wittgenstein, nothwithstanding that both concerned themselves with the logical foundation of computation. Whether my guess is correct or not, I mention this to point out that I am not aware that either were concerning themselves with the physiological process of the brain through their endeavors. Yet clearly the question of empirical verification must be considered inclusive of the empirical analysis of cognition, that is an investigation of the physiological processes which occur in tandem with the perception of the object on the part of the subject. This is why quotes such as the one above are of so little use to me. It is impossible to undertand what Wittgenstein meant by "mental state" without a comprehensive understanding of his philosophy. Are error and truth merely matters of faith and thus each no more than a "mental state" without deriving their nature as "truth" and "error" from the objects to which they apply as judement? Obviously not, as this would make a mockery out of the notion of thinking which logical thought recognizes. Human beings do not create truth in the way that God was said to, that is arbitrarily.

This brings me to the second type of mental activity which philosophy has left to psychology, which is the development of the ability to think logically. Philosophers have tended to assume that all philosophy, theology, etc. which they deign to acknowledge is of a logically valid nature, that is if not purely logical in character properly deferential to the demands of logic insofar as these demands are understood and qualified as deemed necessary. But faith is not logical, as has so often been pointed out. A psychological analysis reveals that faith is based upon what a person desires to be true, not on a rational judgement of the facts. To use the term "faith" in respect to scientific knowledge is to exploit the relevance of the concepts of uncertainty, scepticism, and lack of absolute necessity in determination of applicability of paradigm. This conflates several types of judgements and their specific types of formation and relation to each other into the term "knowledge" in order to equivocate between knowledge and faith. This does not mean that philosophical and theological questions are not interrelated or don't overlap. But it is not difficult to observe that faith in the religios sense involves maintaining a belief system even when the evidence contradicts it. If a fact challenges a faith-based belief system the response of the person who bases their faith upon some inscrutable faculty (the inscrutability of which should produce caution rather than increased certainty) is to create a rationalization as to why the offending fact does not contradict the premises of their faith. For example, God loves us but he must have sent the terrible plague because the King got a divorce, or my magical charm to protect me from the flu didn't work not because magical charms have no discernable properties that would prevent the flu but because a malevolent sorcerer got some of my hair from my comb and (pretended to believe that he) cast a spell on me.

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nimblecivet
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Let me, for the sake of argument, agree: I am an idiot, know-nothing person, and you are the great professor of all things great and small in the realm of formal logic. But what does that make you, in the end, if you are superior in these things and choose to insult and humiliate your "inferior?" —a bully. But I'm guessing that would be a compliment to you, yes?

However, while I am not a philosopher, nor am I thoroughly schooled in the rules formal logic, I am nevertheless a logical person, a person of excellent common sense. Thus, all the formal-logic argumentation and twistings in the world will not alter the fact —not opinion— that atheism is not a religion. I don't have to engage with a bully to prove that statement; it is true on its face. If you cannot see its truth, I'd say that is proof enough of your own stupidity, regardless of your convoluted, egotistical protestations to the contrary.

Any argument that arrives at the conclusion that atheism is a religion has to be fallacious. Period. You can certainly come to that conclusion, but only by misconstruing and twisting the meaning and definitions of both atheism and religion can you do that. Accuse me all day long of yet another "logical fallacy," it won't change the truth.

But where are my allies? Has Antifascist terrorized you all into silence?

Zenzoe
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Semi permeable memebrain:

Laborisgood I just wrote a bit on free will and the post somehow evaporated, so I am too frustrated to try another major effort . i assume you understand the basic idea that scientific or mechanist notion that the universe is made of definable matter and solid state rules which govern that matter tends to lead to a vision of deterministic universe So if indeed our minds are governed by those rules then in fact we do not make any choices in the true sense of the word.

Nimble- Yes we went through this back when I was Bad Company a few months back. I am not completley clear on your points in your opening paragraph. I am aware of the claims by some philosophers that determinism and free will are not actually contradictory, but i find such explanations bizzare and as not resonating with the majority of the public. Perhaps that is not what you are alluding to. i am not saying that it is impossible for some atheists to believe in free will, but in general it seems to be associated with the kind of magical thinking which many atheists reference as not consistent with known scientific facts.

As to your second paragraph, I think i agree with your basic idea, but i have run out of time tonight and perhaps will give it a better look tommorow.

I do want to be clear that i do not necessarily see the free will question as a gotcha ya type issue, but i do think it is a problem for a lot of folks who just kind of casually accept the general mechanist view without considering all of the implications imbedded in the notion

My previous experience with free will is largely dominated by the Erasmus vs Luther religious argument for and against free will as a means of achieving eternal salvation. Their argument may have some validity to this discussion, but they were purely concerned with salvation and the means of achieving it. I'm sure my many years of being beaten over the head with Lutheran doctrine clouds my view of free will outside of that religious context.

The existence of a higher power is well within the bounds of rational discussion, but arguing the specific attributes and actions of the higher power (i.e. salvation, purgatory, etc) is purely an exercise in fighting over which specific religion is the one and only "correct" path with no means of ever proving it. I suppose an atheistic viewpoint skews the discussion to one end of the spectrum just as specific claims to the correct path to eternal salvation skew it in the other direction.

I have an engineering degree, so all the science and math related to this discussion have been beaten into my head just as successfully as Lutheran doctrine has. I've always concluded from the Luther vs Erasmus argument that their concern with salvation (and whose path is correct) kept the earthly notion of free will from being properly addressed. To be honest, I've never really given much thought to determinism and free will in the context which it has been brought up here. I've never been much into philosophy either, so determinism is uncharted territory for me. Uncertainty and quantum physics is something I'm familiar with, but it might as well be philosophy in terms of it keeping my interest. Newton's Laws serve me best.

Somewhere in the past I was exposed to a free will concept that has stuck with me. I do not remember if it was more of a philosophical source or religious (it's likely religious). The concept was that free will can an ambiguous gray area that humans operate within and therefore have no concerns for the actions of the free will (if my memory and paraphrasing serves me well). My theistically influenced perspective arrived at my construct of free will: Humans most certainly have free will, but the choices are always limited to 2 categories. The choice of good (G-d's will) or bad (that opposed to G-d's will). There is no ambiguous middle ground where your actions do nothing. Every single decisive action of free will is either for good or bad. This is where I would conflate a Newtonian action-reaction into my concept of free will.

I'm certain that my definition of free will is influenced by Luther, but my definition contradicts his premise of no free will while maintaining the regimented order of a higher power. I'm not sure if that makes me a bad Lutheran, a bad philosopher or just a bad engineer. Perhaps all three. I'm not so certain that my definition fits into the determinism discussion very well. I've always had trouble separating the physical world from the spiritual world. To me they are inseparable. They are like a fibrous mesh that is tightly woven together. It is possible for someone to be completely devoted to only the physical or only the spiritual while not having much concern for the other. Right or wrong, I am forever conflating the two.

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I will stipulate that atheism is not "a religion," but that it has dynamics and functions that are religious, but not as they define "religion." I believe that many atheists believe they are rejecting religion and not just theism. I think they have personal reasons for conflating the two, religion and theism, not the least of which is the current religious business practice of selling God and denominational brands instead of "faith." I think most atheists take on that identity in the process of "developing faith," as they go from Belief to Doubt in a correct piety response to the God Who is the Author of All Truth.

What they find is that the dogma of the church is not friendly to doubt because the dogma is easier to manage and dependent and managable congregations led by authority figures are stable. Doubt and Imagination have been exiled from church cultures for the most part, and inquiring minds tend to be told to go off to college or the services until they come back with kids. Between 18 and 30, young adults who are not parents have been missing from church cultures. They do not miss the dogma, but some of them got more than that and they might come to miss the soul part.

Don't get me wrong. I do not see the "unchurched" and "unbeliever" folk to be the problem. They could use some more support from a real "faith community," but it is the churches lacking their input who are the real victims here.

I am not a defender of religion so much as warning that it is hard to get away from and is better recognized and dealt with, even embraced at times, than ignored or denied. I would like to have atheists move beyond what I see as an early developmental crisis and a relatively trivial question: The Existence of God, particularly as defined by theism. Denying the existence of the sacred and the embrace of the secular is not the answer. The point is that Reality is composed of both halves of this duality. Secular and sacred imply and need each other to make sense apart. Otherwise we are talking about reality as a whole and using whatever different heuristic slice, dice or other models to imagine what might be.

When we accept "economic reality" as the "bottom line" for the analysis of social policies or business practices, we are also invoking the power and authority of our Economic God, Reality, to determine what is good and evil or who wins and loses with full moral authority. When "money trumps peace," Mars has been paid His tribute by we devotees. Recognizing religion is a good thing, and were atheists the most critical examiners of false gods and idolatry around, they would be playing a great role in the sharing of gifts. But, bless his late heart, Chris Hitchens and some other public debaters have been really bad on the issue of religion. Making the incredibility of theism the reason to treat religion as superstition, magic and nonsense is intellectually inadequate as well as blind. There is plenty of supertition, magic and nonsense to criticize; but there is a whole lot more that needs to be part of the discourse and work of progressive politics and culture.

I think churches have fallen down badly in their calling. The Right has been making it look like charity was the work of the church rather than the state or city, and this has been both an insult and a serious problem for real inner city and rural ministries where social services are delivered by "faith based institutions." The are separated into non-profit agencies to use public money and are not putting religion into the services they provide. Having these rules abridged only allows abuse of taxpayer dollars for religious conversion and does not help churches partner with taxpayer supported institutions to see that people are cared for.

OWS and a re-awakening of the call to serve could bring back a new politics from liberal churches. Those involved in Stone Soup feeding would also mobilize around food stamp and other hunger issues to get things done politically. Habitat for Humanity would be both an example of volunteer and personalized help and a reason for volunteers to get involved in local politics around affordable housing and ending homelessness. Everywhere there are people in need, churches could provide immediate human relief while also becoming the political organizing and information base for serious political change. Occupy the Beatitudes!

Where is the secular "church" that does this work? If you want an atheistic faith community where your humanity is connected to the humanity of others in a direct and immediate body of relationships, Unitarians often provide it or the next best thing. I would like to see others follow suit as their own traditions help the change. Most of all I want to encourage atheists to keep growing in faith, intellectual and moral integrity, that is. I want you to be grounded in the reality of love and the necessity for justice, but with gladness, joy and love instead of bitterness about the world. For the real question that matters is not God's existence, but rather the power of love and necessity for justice in our understanding or ourselves and the world. I believe in both unconditionally, but not as simplistic ideals. I think this goes to the guts of reality and what it means to be human.

DRC's picture
DRC
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Zenzoe:

But where are my allies? Has Antifascist terrorized you all into silence?

I'm not sure if I could be called an ally in this matter Zenzoe, but silence was never my strong suit.

My simpleton's view tells me atheism is not a religion, but my previous posts within this thread clearly attest to my lack of expertise on such matters. If I spend the time mulling through all the available data here, I could not argue against atheism being classified as a religion. More importantly, I'm not offended by someone classifying atheism as a religion, nor am I offended by someone who insists atheism cannot be classified as a religion. It simply doesn't show up on my radar.

My unwillingness to pick a lane on the "atheism as religion" debate could be considered waffling or avoidance of conflict. As true as that may be, it's a battle I feel no need to fight. Zenzoe and myself do not see eye to eye on religion or abortion, but some loose threads are best not to be pulled on. I'm sure Zenzoe and others may well view me as a little crazy due to my being involved in organized religion, but that's no concern of mine. I always try to focus on that which unites us as opposed to divides us.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I see good sense and eloquence in both DRC and Laborisgood's comments. I especially liked DRC's, "Occupy the Beatitudes!" And Laborisgood, I don't view the involvement in organized religion as crazy at all. Truth be told, my sensibility has religion and faith as valid additions to a rich emotional and spiritual life. I agree with Chris Hedges, where he wrote, "Religion and art are both ways of grappling with those nonrational forces of love, beauty, truth, grief, and meaning that make one a whole individual." I don't reject organized religion as a good, potentially; I reject what I've found so far about it, since I haven't been able to find one that isn't either hierarchical, sexist, cliquish, or bent on the belief in magical thinking and the supernatural. If you know of one I can fit into, let me know.

I also like this from Chris Hedges: "We have forgotten who we were meant to be, who we were created to be, because we have forgotten that we find God not in ourselves, finally, but in our care for our neighbor, in the stranger, including those outside the nation and the faith. The religious life is not designed to make you happy, or safe and content; it is not designed to make you whole or complete, to free you from anxieties and fear; it is designed to save you from yourself, to make possible human community, to lead you to understand that the greatest force in life is not power or reason but love." And there, I do believe he points to the main problem with atheism, which is where it makes a god of reason. This, however, does not make atheism a religion, just because some atheists exalt reason at the expense of other valid aspects of human existence and reality.

My stance, however, refuses to budge. Call me stubborn and simpleminded, but atheism is still not a religion. And I don't feel required to wax philosophical —go on about "limbs and outward flourishes"— about it.

Quote Shakespeare:

This business is well ended.
My liege, and madam, to expostulate
What majesty should be, what duty is,
Why day is day, night night, and time is time.
Were nothing but to waste night, day, and time.
Therefore, since brevity is the soul of wit
And tediousness the limbs and outward flourishes,
I will be brief. Your noble son is mad.
Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad?

Zenzoe
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Zenzoe dug the following hole...

Let me, for the sake of argument, agree: I am an idiot, know-nothing person, and you are the great professor of all things great and small in the realm of formal logic. But what does that make you, in the end, if you are superior in these things and choose to insult and humiliate your "inferior?" —a bully.

Enthymeme (Greek: ἐνθύμημα, enthumēma) is the Greek word for a thought, piece of reasoning, argument. However, it is a particular kind of argument in which the argument is missing a premise in the syllogism. For example:

1.) If I am an Idiot and you are a great Professor and inSult me, then you are a Bully.

2.) missing premise.

3.) Therefore: You are a Bully.

This is a modus ponens argument with a missing premise. We can logically symbolize its logical form:

1.) If (I * P * S) > B

2.) missing premise

3.) Therefore, B

(I*P*S) This is the antecedent composed of three conjunctions ( and is symbolized as *).

B is the consequent of a conditional statement (If, then is symbolized by >).

In order to validly get the conclusion B, we have to have all three of the conjuncts of the antecedent to be true because if only one of the conjuncts is false, then the entire conjunction is false. Here is the definition of the conjunction *.

Given I and P as variables and both are true in line one.

(I * P)

T T= T

T F= F

F T= F

F F =F

This means that you must be an idiot, and I must be a great professor, and you must be insulted. If any of the conjuncts are false the entire conjunctions is false. You have admitted to being an idiot so the first conjunct is true. It seems your mental state is that of being insulted that would make the second conjunct true. Am I a great professor? No, I am not a professor at all. So we cannot supply the missing premise 2 to complete the valid argument form of modus ponens:

1.) If (I * P * S) > B

2.)(I * P * S)

3.) Therefore, B (1, 2, MP)

Zenzoe, you failed again. The only way to get premise 2 is to assume it, and that make an ass out of u and me. You are in the middle of a revolution. It's no more Mr. Nice Guy.

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Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

There's a difference between 'G'od and gods. Buddhism believes in gods. That's a huge difference. Buddhism is atheist because it does not believe in a creator. I am a confirmed Zen Buddhist. I do not believe in a creator, and in that respect I consider myself atheist.

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jbpdx
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Zenzoe:

My sentiments, exactly.

But Thom doesn't get it, so we'll just have to accept this as his atheist delusion.

I

As a conservative, I like Thom. I would rather watch five hours of Thom than five minutes of Hannity. The problem I see with athiests is they are so damned sensitive. They get their feelings hurt and become defensive at the slightest hint of religion. A little tolerance might be in order.

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rigel1
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Jan. 31, 2011 6:49 am

Very much agree with the original post, Thom makes some ridiculous logical leaps when it comes to discussing atheism. Atheism is absolutely not a religion in any way, shape or form, and the idea of "evangelical atheists" is laughable. Some people speak openly about their atheism, but evangelizing? Come on.

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ATD
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Jan. 19, 2011 7:54 pm

You're so cute when you're mad, Antifascist. "Mad call I it; for, to define true madness,
What is't but to be nothing else but mad?"

Quote ATD:

Very much agree with the original post, Thom makes some ridiculous logical leaps when it comes to discussing atheism. Atheism is absolutely not a religion in any way, shape or form, and the idea of "evangelical atheists" is laughable. Some people speak openly about their atheism, but evangelizing? Come on.

Ah, the voice of sanity, at last!

Zenzoe
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Zenzoe wrote,

You're so cute when you're mad, Antifascist

Now that is nice: a sign of intellectual rigor--a good quality. My wife says the same thing.

Antifascist's picture
Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote rigel1:
Quote Zenzoe:

My sentiments, exactly.

But Thom doesn't get it, so we'll just have to accept this as his atheist delusion.

As a conservative, I like Thom. I would rather watch five hours of Thom than five minutes of Hannity. The problem I see with athiests is they are so damned sensitive. They get their feelings hurt and become defensive at the slightest hint of religion. A little tolerance might be in order.

I'd prefer to NOT agree with you Rigel, but I must.

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Hello ladies and gentlemen! I'm sorry I have not had the time to play with you all recently. I'm on a business trip and on my ipad... so I can't attempt to 'type' anything over 2 sentences before losing my mind and giving up.

But before I leave, I wanted to post a link that relates to what my original post was about. (If you go back and re-read it, you'll notice that it was not about "atheism is a religion/atheism is not a religion").

http://edge.org/conversation/the-bright-stuff

When I return to Cali, I will continue with my thoughts on why atheism is NOT a religion.

-Ceci

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CeciAtea
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Oct. 28, 2011 3:16 pm

Hello Ceci,

No hurry. Zenzoe exhausted me. Thanks for the link. I will read it. It sounds interesting. I do respect Dr. Dennett.

Antifascist's picture
Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Atheism isn't really a religion, but in some forms it is a cult. Militant atheism specifically is a cult or nearly so, at least an obsession with many people. I know some of these people personally and they are definitely obsessed, far more than most "religious" people are with their religion. These militant atheists want to convert believers to atheism and they are guilty of all the things you accuse Hartmann of being: mocking, dismissive, and more, such as intellectually superior. They are just as annoying to me as evangelical Christians.

That said, Hartmann seems to commisserate and identify with atheists far more than is normal for anyone who calls themself a Christian, and he does call himself that, on occasion, so in fact I think Hartmann panders to atheists more than he should. And I know this because I listen to the show every day. He has gone from being an unapologetic Christian to a very apologetic one.

Personally I don't think anyone should either apologize for their beliefs (that including atheism) or try to convert anyone to their beliefs (and that also includes atheism).

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ShellyT
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Atheists have no faith in anything, at least nothing supernatural. That is the definition as I understand it. All faiths, including Buddhism, believe in something supernatural, so you probably aren't a real atheist. If you want to call yourself an atheist, why not get rid of all your faith in everything? Atheists are nothing if not completely faithless.

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ShellyT
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Surely you have heard the definition of religion as Hartmann presents it. That is the basis of his calling atheism a religion, not your definition.

And no it's not a "no brainer" to most people. Many types of fanaticism or cult-like thinking can be considered a type of religion as I define religion, and some forms of atheism falls into that category.

At the very least -- anyone who is 100% certain about the existance of god or lack of god is delusional.

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ShellyT
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Thank you Shelly for your thoughts, but I think you're getting atheism confused with anti-religion (or militant atheist). No worries, most people get the two mixed up (even atheists). Anti-religionists may be atheists, and they may be militant (if they are active at trying to suppress certain rights). Anti-religion is either: 1) opposition to organized religion and institutions and/or 2) opposition of others to believe in the supernatural.

I, for one, have no problem with an individual's right to believe. Atheism alone doesn't deal with what others can and cannot (or should and should not) do. As a matter of fact, my job has allowed me to 'fight' alongside theists for their freedom to practice their religion (christians and muslims). I am a human advocate, and that includes the right of individuals to do and think as they please, as long as they are not infringing on the right of others.

And yes, my definition of atheism is correct. Look it up. Atheism = the rejection of belief in the supernatural. It is in fact, a belief and you're right, it is not a religion, but it does require some amount of faith, just not supernatural kind of faith (as theism does). I may believe (have faith) that OJ Simpson is guilty, based on all the facts, but it is unknowable for sure. Now, you may be thinking to yourselves that I've just described agnosticism, but hear me out.

Agnosticism is the act of suspending overall judgement (belief) because the answer is unknowable.

Whether atheists like to admit it or not, atheists ARE agnostics, but not all agnostics are atheist. Atheism is agnosticism (with a twist), because we all know the answer is unknowable (see below for further explanation), but the difference is that atheism adds belief into the equation, because it infers from evidence and reasoning. A scientific inclination. A agnostic chooses to remain neutral. Let me add to what I mean by unknowable. Evolution is a fact. We see it happening in front of our eyes every single day. You can use insecticide to kill those nasty cockroaches today, but that bottle won't work tomorrow. Why? Their environment changed and the few that were able to survive (variation) the massacre passed on that gene, and the next generations have built up an immunity against it. Ta-Dah! Also, look up Franz Boas (the little guy on my avatar). He was an evolutionary anthropologist and has conducted several studies on human evolution (craniums) and race. In the end, human evolution is unknowable because in order to be 100% sure, once needs to record it, study it and test it. That's impossible because in order to do so, someone needs to look at a few hundred (or more) generations (now i wish i were a vampire). That is what I mean by unknowable. But, is it illogical to infer that humans evolved? Of course not. It is a belief. It is a faith based on observable data. It may not be direct evidence, but it is still enough evidence (99%). Not to be confused with supernatural faith or religious (theistic) faith.

I see no point in discussing your view that atheism is a cult, because I've already explained that you're referring to anti-religion, not atheism, when you talk about militant atheists. Atheism alone is not militant. Once again, a person that is anti-religious may also be atheism, but an atheist does not have to be anti-religion. An atheist could agree with an anti-religious person on the fact that religion has been used to justify horrendous acts, but an atheists per se, does not oppose religion (theism) altogether.

[this was tough on my ipad, but i just had to respond to you shelly.]

CeciAtea's picture
CeciAtea
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Oct. 28, 2011 3:16 pm
Quote DRC:

...

I am not a defender of religion so much as warning that it is hard to get away from and is better recognized and dealt with, even embraced at times, than ignored or denied. I would like to have atheists move beyond what I see as an early developmental crisis and a relatively trivial question: The Existence of God, particularly as defined by theism. Denying the existence of the sacred and the embrace of the secular is not the answer. The point is that Reality is composed of both halves of this duality. Secular and sacred imply and need each other to make sense apart. Otherwise we are talking about reality as a whole and using whatever different heuristic slice, dice or other models to imagine what might be.

As Slovoj Zizek notes when discussing the work "Eminence Gris", a person can have a sense of the sacred and still be a monster. So religion I suppose I would concede could be a way of cultivating a sense of the sacred with the right moral perspective. I would also want to explore the idea that the sacred is something which has to be approached like art rather than science, as something which should be recognized by philosophy and science but which in the end escapes words and can only be perceived in a manner unique to the individual's experience.

Quote DRC:

...

I think churches have fallen down badly in their calling. The Right has been making it look like charity was the work of the church rather than the state or city, and this has been both an insult and a serious problem for real inner city and rural ministries where social services are delivered by "faith based institutions." The are separated into non-profit agencies to use public money and are not putting religion into the services they provide. Having these rules abridged only allows abuse of taxpayer dollars for religious conversion and does not help churches partner with taxpayer supported institutions to see that people are cared for.

Well, there is no "atheistic church that does this work" but secular programs like food stamps have their merits. On the other hand secular government often reflects a faux-scientific attitude towards the religious non-profits that provide services. The attitude is that what these churches represent has to be "regulated" so it doesn't challenge the healthy function of the market. But that market is controlled by those who limit giving and sharing deliberately by making sure these churches etc. can't provide as much as they would without government preventing them from doing so in the name of motivating people to work. Which is really just a way of limiting work to those who are submissive enough to embrace the program.

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nimblecivet
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Nimblecivet said

Is it necessary to believe in a "soul" in order to believe in free-will

Well by defenition it cannot be explained by predicted by matter or the rules that govern it. now you may disagree with this and use a different definiton of free-will. So at a minmum it must be immaterial. So in some ways this one of the points that I wanted to make that free-will is not in the same category as unicorns and the like since it seems to resonate with something rational.

While I am on the tangent I understand the dilema for those of us who want to present a metapysical argument for the existence something spiritual in that we, by definiton, cannot point to anything material in trying to make our case. In other words those supporting spiritual , in the true sense of existent spirit, could never point to any thing in the brain as supporting the existence of spirit. and yes that perspective, which at times is an argument I support, is indeed nonsensical and does strike me that there is something wrong with the nature of the debate about duality.

So apparently we are stuck with the situation that the mechanist need only explain the brain in a material way with corresponding rules for material behavior through the thoroughness of material analysis and the explanatory rules which guide it. so from this frame the immaterialist only seeming argument is to hope science can never come up with a completly adequate explanation.I might add that the glial cells which make up most of the brain are basically a mysterty, but my real point is that I am not completley satisfied with the idea that for immaterilists are to have a rational argument then we need science to fail in some way.

From my way of thinking, the completion of the scientific project will never overcome the basic riddle of duality which is that even if you have a completley understood brain in its relation to mental states and consciousness, you will still have two distinct things that are supposedly the same thing- a brain and a mental state.

I should add that I think there are difficulties to calim a soul would have volition or to be a causitive agent, but i do find the idea that a passive experiencer of the material world a little more logically tenable. This spiritual concept is usually referred to "the watcher". So ironically even while free-will may seem llike the best argument of a soul, the best argument for a soul excludes the idea of free-will

I guess Zenzoe could score points on the dea ths is all mental maturbation, but on the other hand what else do we do here

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Semi permeable ...
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Nov. 10, 2011 7:36 am

Hey, CeciAtea,

Well, there is nothing in your post from your ipad (post #88) that I can disagree with. That was pretty darn good! Now, I would go a step further about the supernatural. (post #78 in anticipation of your good response and Dr. Dennett's views).

I liked in particular:

Whether atheists like to admit it or not, atheists ARE agnostics, but not all agnostics are atheist. Atheism is agnosticism (with a twist), because we all know the answer is unknowable (see below for further explanation), but the difference is that atheism adds belief into the equation, because it infers from evidence and reasoning. A scientific inclination. A agnostic chooses to remain neutral. Let me add to what I mean by unknowable.

and the comment about faith and the objects of faith:

But, is it illogical to infer that humans evolved? Of course not. It is a belief. It is a faith based on observable data. It may not be direct evidence, but it is still enough evidence (99%). Not to be confused with supernatural faith or religious (theistic) faith.

I hope that you don't mind that I steal a copy of your post for my own library.

Antifascist's picture
Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote nimblecivet:
Quote DRC:

...

Denying the existence of the sacred and the embrace of the secular is not the answer. The point is that Reality is composed of both halves of this duality. Secular and sacred imply and need each other to make sense apart.

So religion I suppose I would concede could be a way of cultivating a sense of the sacred with the right moral perspective. I would also want to explore the idea that the sacred is something which has to be approached like art rather than science, as something which should be recognized by philosophy and science but which in the end escapes words and can only be perceived in a manner unique to the individual's experience.

A successful project requires using the right tools for the job. The secular hammer is not a good substitute for the sacred scalpel. Some people may be better at using one tool or the other and therefore rely too much on the one they are most comfortable with. Look no further than those who deny all the physical evidence of evolution and the age of our planet in lieu of that which fits neatly with their preferred version from their sacred writings. They are refusing to use their hammer at all. But, aren't those insistant upon using their hammer at all times, also hampering the project?

The science (secular) vs art (sacred) analogy is quite useful. When you look at a statue, you can see a piece of stone and envision all the intricate measurements, cuts and polishing required to create an inanimate engineered copy of something. Or you can see the beauty and emotion captured within the work as it transends it's physical construction and captures something animate or beyond. The successful sculptor is both scientist and artist.

Classifying religion as science is clearly wrong, but can religion be classified as art? Should a non-religious person who can appreciate art, be able to equally appreciate religion. Certainly, non-scientific persons can appreciate science even if they don't completely understand the nuts and bolts of science. Or is religion completely unrelated to art and therefore not subject to such criteria that would normally be applied to art?

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm
Quote Antifascist:
Quote Zenzoe:

You're so cute when you're mad, Antifascist

Now that is nice: a sign of intellectual rigor--a good quality. My wife says the same thing.

So now madness = "intellectual rigor?" ;-) But no, you are not insane. It's clear to me you're an educated, highly talented writer and thinker. And no sarcasm implied there. However, Dear Antifascist, you do me wrong in your relentless attacks against my comments, by using your knowledge of formal logic against me in what I believe is a discriminatory way—that is, I don't see you doing this to others who make similar comments or voice similar opinions. It is as though —and this is a feeling, so don't subject it to logical analysis, please— with me alone, you become the forum carpenter whose only tool is the hammer of formal logic, and thus you see everything I say as something to be pounded. But it is not that I make no sense, that I am incoherent, it is simply that I haven't conformed to your demand that I discuss the issues here in a philosophical manner. Isn't that it, the main problem? You may see your attitude as "intellectual rigor;" I do not, for it is unfair. Anyone who knows me knows I am coherent in all my writings. But if I choose not to discuss at length, that is my right.

I am glad to see Ceci return, and for her to say, for the record, atheism is not a religion. It isn't so important to me, however, how she arrived at her conclusion, given that, in my opinion, the statement is self-evident.

Zenzoe
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Very interesting conversation and questions about the duality of sacred, secure, science, religion and art.

Zenzoe. I apologized for being too harsh. My faults are extreme sarcasm, and my responses-and not always clear-are meant to be rhetorical, and not personal.

The discussion board gets rough sometimes and this is because we have paid trolls over the years that visit sometimes, and I don't always distinguish them correctly. But the whole point of the question about religion and atheism is to stimulate thought about this issue. It is much more complex than one would normally think.

I like what the Iroquois Indians used to do: state one’s case and then let the other person speak their mind. No one can force another person to change their mind and who would want to anyway?

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Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I'm always amazed that I don't get hammered upon relentlessly for the same crimes Zenzoe feels she has been wrongfully accused of.

My ability and willingness to smash together disparate pieces of science, religion, philosophy or whatever half-baked thought floating through my head is certainly worthy of some derision, is it not?

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Laborisgood
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

I think any valid counter-argument would apply universally to the same, or variations of the same, position whoever held to them.

And there is another more complex reason.

The great logician and teacher of Wittgenstein, Friedrich Ludwig Gottlob Frege (b. 1848, d. 1925), said that it is “necessary to distinguish a proposition from its sense, thus opening up the possibility that two propositions could have the same sense and yet differ in the ideas associated with them.” Wittgenstein wrote that "The actual sense of a proposition is the same for everybody; but the ideas which a person associates with the proposition belong to him alone...No one can have another’s ideas.” I think propositions using the term “atheism” are a good case of this distinction. It is clear that “atheism” has ideas associated to it that are different than mine, yours, Zenzoe, and CeciAtea.

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Antifascist
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Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Quote Antifascist:

Zenzoe. I apologized for being too harsh. My faults are extreme sarcasm, and my responses-and not always clear-are meant to be rhetorical, and not personal.

The discussion board gets rough sometimes and this is because we have paid trolls over the years that visit sometimes, and I don't always distinguish them correctly. But the whole point of the question about religion and atheism is to stimulate thought about this issue. It is much more complex than one would normally think.

Thanks. But how could you possibly think I am a troll? And where were you all these many months, where I posted blogs posing lots of good questions and thoughts, when stimulating thought was the whole point? For example here: http://www.thomhartmann.com/users/zenzoe/blog/2011/08/slouching-toward-extinction-now-waking-wise-tomorrow (note how that post was way before the OWS movement got started and certainly presaged it.) Perhaps it lacked the "intellectual rigor" you're interested in? But such is not my aim. It's not my style to be dry and abstract. ( I realize I'm making assumptions, btw.)

Well, one doesn't always feel like responding. That's okay with me. And, please understand: I don't really have a problem with philosophical discussions, as long as the text is coherent, as opposed to full of abstract hot-air, jargon and/or nonsensical BS.

Happy Christmas, everyone.

Zenzoe
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Back to my mishmash of philosophy and religion as related to free will.

Disclaimer: My perspective of free will is hopelessly biased towards the religious (courtesy of too much Luther) and woefully ignorant of the philosophical. Concepts such as Determinist, Mechanist or other philosophical terms may well apply to my view of free will, but I've never spent much time pondering all the nuance.

I believe free will allows people to choose a given action at any time from an unlimited choice of actions. However, those actions are either good actions or bad. Once you set in motion an action, it will set in motion a series of reactions. (This is a classic example of my misapplication of Newtonian Physics into places it shouldn't be. I often do this with economics as well.) Good actions will tend to bring good reactions while bad brings bad. This can be viewed as some spiritual-karma device that clicks the cosmic tumblers in a given direction or as a sky-daddy behind the curtain pulling the levers that make things happen. Of course a non-spiritual, non-religious version of events is equally acceptable. Don't good actions ultimately create good reactions, even if not immediately so? Free will, to me, is not capable of randomness and ambiguity. We make specific choices and we live with the specific consequences.

Does my convoluted view of free will somehow fit into any sort of classical philosophical framework? Perhaps I am a Mechanist or a Determinist and I don't even know it. Is it possible I am a Fatalist?

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Laborisgood
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm

Atheism is a belief, protected by the first ammendment, regarding a religious topic, but is not a religion. It's also not a spiritual belief. It is simply the name we've given healthy scepticism toward supernatural claims.

Religion is to spirituality what a full page ad for an expensive perfume is to the actual scent of the perfume. It is not a substitute for the product, it is merely a way of selling it. And, like advertising, religion is a giant lie, by its nature. The real product, spirituality, no more requires religion to work for people than a perfume wearer needs a subscription to the magazine in which it is advertised.

Spirituality is real-and only works in reality. Religion is the theater of spiritually motivated actors.

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D_NATURED
Joined:
Oct. 20, 2010 7:47 pm
Quote rigel1:
Quote Zenzoe:

My sentiments, exactly.

But Thom doesn't get it, so we'll just have to accept this as his atheist delusion.

I

As a conservative, I like Thom. I would rather watch five hours of Thom than five minutes of Hannity. The problem I see with athiests is they are so damned sensitive. They get their feelings hurt and become defensive at the slightest hint of religion. A little tolerance might be in order.

It's deeper than that. I belong to a group called DAFT (Denver Atheists and Free Thinkers). We meet at a Chinese restaurant once a month to hang out with people like ourselves. There have been places that have rejected our business because of why we meet... because of our "religious" beliefs. How should that upset me less than it would a Christian, rejected for the same reason?

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D_NATURED
Joined:
Oct. 20, 2010 7:47 pm

D-Natured:

Do you say that religion, as a whole, is absolutely incapable of achieving spirituality? I don't disagree that organized religion often misses the boat or has salesman selling something other than spirituality, but would you go so far as to say that religion and spirituality are 100% mutually exclusive? Do you believe there has never been one person in the history of civilization who has successfully achieved spirituality through religion. Seems like a tall order, wouldn't you say.

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Laborisgood
Joined:
Jul. 31, 2007 3:01 pm