ISF Logo   IS Forum
Forum Index Register Members List Events Mark Forums Read Help

Go Back   International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy
 


Welcome to the International Skeptics Forum, where we discuss skepticism, critical thinking, the paranormal and science in a friendly but lively way. You are currently viewing the forum as a guest, which means you are missing out on discussing matters that are of interest to you. Please consider registering so you can gain full use of the forum features and interact with other Members. Registration is simple, fast and free! Click here to register today.
Tags atheism

Reply
Old 6th November 2019, 08:41 AM   #1001
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
You can go analyzing the differences in characteristics assigned to entities like gods (or spirits or...). But in the end it is as useful as looking at the differences between the Hulk and Spiderman. It may be fun, but ultimately, in the final characteristic that really matters, they are the same. They don't exist.
Ask a sociologist of religions if it is useless to distinguish a god from a comic hero. He'll be amazed.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th November 2019, 08:46 AM   #1002
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
I disagree. I think it's because they don't believe he exists.
And since they do not believe that it exists, they do not believe that it promises eternal punishments, promulgates commandments, cults, etc. In other words, all the characteristics that are usually associated with a god and not a comic hero.
That's why the concept of god is different from that of a comic hero. And this matters to atheist.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th November 2019, 08:50 AM   #1003
Jack by the hedge
Safely Ignored
 
Jack by the hedge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 9,749
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
You can't say you're an a-calandrajoist because you don't know what that is.
I can't categorise myself as disbelieving in a concept I never heard of, but other people who have heard of it may choose to categorise people as belonging to one group who believe in the concept and everyone else who does not, either because they never heard of it, or because they heard of it and rejected it as imaginary or because they heard of it, rejected it and declared to anyone who would listen that they thought it was nonsense.

If you need a range of terms to precisely delineate each type of person in the latter group then by all means have a try and they might catch on, but language rarely does as it's told.
Jack by the hedge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th November 2019, 08:57 AM   #1004
Jack by the hedge
Safely Ignored
 
Jack by the hedge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 9,749
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
And since they do not believe that it exists, they do not believe that it promises eternal punishments, promulgates commandments, cults, etc. In other words, all the characteristics that are usually associated with a god and not a comic hero.
That's why the concept of god is different from that of a comic hero. And this matters to atheist.
Why are you fixating on the imagined characteristics of Gods as a special case?

I literally gave you an example of a bad thing a Superman believer might do which has nothing whatever to do with Superman promising eternal punishment. Commandments and cults are produced by believers not by the imaginary things they believe in, so there's no reason Superman believers couldn't do likewise.

Are you seriously arguing the only reason anyone would worry about an imaginary creature they believe in is if its powers include eternal damnation?
Jack by the hedge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th November 2019, 08:59 AM   #1005
Jack by the hedge
Safely Ignored
 
Jack by the hedge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 9,749
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Ask a sociologist of religions if it is useless to distinguish a god from a comic hero. He'll be amazed.
Yeah, but why will he be amazed?

When there are Norse Gods who are comic heroes, that's clearly not the distinction. Hint: it's believers and what they do.
Jack by the hedge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th November 2019, 12:30 PM   #1006
JesseCuster
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 1,014
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
You can see that names have not any importance if we discuss concepts.
Sometimes the concepts don't have any importance, like the rather pointless hairsplitting between different types of atheist - agnostics, strong atheists, weak atheists, agnostic atheists, gnostic atheists, etc.

It seems like a lot of pointless words debating the exact extent to which people don't believe in a thing that doesn't exist.
JesseCuster is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th November 2019, 12:59 PM   #1007
Lithrael
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,625
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
What I mean is that you can't get rid of a concept you don't know.
To speak of someone who lives on a planet where there is no war, I cannot call him a pacifist or a warmonger. These names suppose an opposition between two poles in relation to a defined line that is the war. It would be necessary to invent a new concept for someone who ignores what a war is and cannot be somewhere along that line.
Ah, I think I see how you are thinking of this concept, but I just do not agree.

Imagine a guy on this planet without war.
Test him with a novel situation where there is a need to take up arms against his fellow man.
If he will not fight, he is a pacifist. And he was a pacifist before you tested him. He just hadn’t had the opportunity to show it. His position did not change, so why should the word that describes his position change?

It seems the problem in communication here is that you consider ‘atheism’ to be a word that describes a relationship to gods, rather than a word that describes simply not having any beliefs in gods.

To me, someone who has never heard of any gods, does not have belief in any gods, and is an atheist.
To you, someone who has never heard of any gods, does not have belief in any gods, and is a ???

Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
I can't categorise myself as disbelieving in a concept I never heard of, but other people who have heard of it may choose to categorise people as belonging to one group who believe in the concept and everyone else who does not, either because they never heard of it, or because they heard of it and rejected it as imaginary or because they heard of it, rejected it and declared to anyone who would listen that they thought it was nonsense.

If you need a range of terms to precisely delineate each type of person in the latter group then by all means have a try and they might catch on, but language rarely does as it's told.
I agree.

Last edited by Lithrael; 6th November 2019 at 01:01 PM.
Lithrael is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 6th November 2019, 11:56 PM   #1008
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
I can't categorise myself as disbelieving in a concept I never heard of, but other people who have heard of it may choose to categorise people as belonging to one group who believe in the concept and everyone else who does not, either because they never heard of it, or because they heard of it and rejected it as imaginary or because they heard of it, rejected it and declared to anyone who would listen that they thought it was nonsense.

If you need a range of terms to precisely delineate each type of person in the latter group then by all means have a try and they might catch on, but language rarely does as it's told.
Because you maintain that the behavior of believers has nothing to do with their beliefs. That doesn't make sense. You invented as a proof a case that is totally imaginary or can happen only among millions. You invented a madman who believes Superman exists. I am not talking about madmen, but believers like those who are hundreds of millions. When a terrorist organization that prays to Superman exist we talk.

Furthermore, note that to adjust your example you had to change the beliefs of a Superman fan to make him a terrorist. That is an example of you think really that ideas cause the behaviour of believers. Do you want to be able to explain why a terrorist blew up a train bomb regardless of his beliefs? So why do you say yourself that the one that put a bomb in an airplane was because he believed Superman would save the plane? You contradict yourself.

Last edited by David Mo; 7th November 2019 at 12:39 AM.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 12:08 AM   #1009
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
Yeah, but why will he be amazed?


When there are Norse Gods who are comic heroes, that's clearly not the distinction. Hint: it's believers and what they do.
An anthropologist would be hallucinating with this discussion.Because the anthropology of religions studies these by differentiating them from what is not religion. There is a controversy over whether magic is religion or not, but no one thinks of bringing Superman into the subject, except to explain the differences with a religion with a comparison.

Thor appears in Marvel comics as an imaginary hero. If you want to talk about the religion of Walhalla, we talk.

Last edited by David Mo; 7th November 2019 at 12:35 AM.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 12:11 AM   #1010
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by JesseCuster View Post
Sometimes the concepts don't have any importance, like the rather pointless hairsplitting between different types of atheist - agnostics, strong atheists, weak atheists, agnostic atheists, gnostic atheists, etc.

It seems like a lot of pointless words debating the exact extent to which people don't believe in a thing that doesn't exist.
Concepts matter, the words that designate them don't always. Only if someone plays with words.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 12:26 AM   #1011
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Lithrael View Post
Ah, I think I see how you are thinking of this concept, but I just do not agree.

Imagine a guy on this planet without war.
Test him with a novel situation where there is a need to take up arms against his fellow man.
If he will not fight, he is a pacifist. And he was a pacifist before you tested him. He just hadn’t had the opportunity to show it. His position did not change, so why should the word that describes his position change?

It seems the problem in communication here is that you consider ‘atheism’ to be a word that describes a relationship to gods, rather than a word that describes simply not having any beliefs in gods.

To me, someone who has never heard of any gods, does not have belief in any gods, and is an atheist.
To you, someone who has never heard of any gods, does not have belief in any gods, and is a ???
If you introduce the war on the planet where there are no wars it is no longer the planet where there are no wars. You denaturalize the example.

I don't define atheism in relation to gods, but in relation to the idea of god, which is something very different.

I'm not interested in what we call the inhabitants of the planet without wars. You can call him Pepito. It was an example that you have not assimilated. You have tried to change it to fit your belief instead of understanding it.

I'm interested in the difference between different kinds of beliefs or non-beliefs on this planet we're on. And I think it's absurd for someone to say he doesn't believe in gods if hey doesn't have in his head an idea of what the word "god" means. Among other things because on this planet everyone has heard of gods. Even those who refrain from believing in them.

I think you are trying to deny the obvious because you are afraid that the obvious is against your atheism. False idea. The obvious is against atheists that hidden themselves when a problem is posed to them.

Last edited by David Mo; 7th November 2019 at 12:42 AM.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 01:07 AM   #1012
BadBoy
Graduate Poster
 
BadBoy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,484
Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
You can go analyzing the differences in characteristics assigned to entities like gods (or spirits or...). But in the end it is as useful as looking at the differences between the Hulk and Spiderman. It may be fun, but ultimately, in the final characteristic that really matters, they are the same. They don't exist.
well obviously not the hulk, as that's silly. But spidey man, I've seen him for gods sake?
__________________
Go sell crazy someplace else we're all stocked up here
BadBoy is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 01:14 AM   #1013
BadBoy
Graduate Poster
 
BadBoy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 1,484
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
In academic terminology since the 18th century what you call "atheist" is called "incredulous" or "non-believer" and is divided into two subgroups: those who claim that God does not exist (they are called atheists) and those who abstain from judging (they are called agnostics). In your terminology, atheists would be Gnostic atheists and agnostics would be agnostic atheists.


100% certainty is almost impossible. In general, one considers oneself an atheist (gnostic atheist) because one considers it highly unlikely that God exists, while the agnostic (agnostic atheist) does not manifest certainty in one sense or the other. He is about halfway between the theist and the atheist (agnostic atheist).

You can see that names have not any importance if we discuss concepts.
Yes, I think it was Hitch that said that he was dismayed by Thomas Henry Huxley for coining that phrase (paraphrased).

"It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe." - Huxley

However, when one rejects the god claims without sufficient evidence, one is then an Atheist.
__________________
Go sell crazy someplace else we're all stocked up here
BadBoy is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 02:40 AM   #1014
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by BadBoy View Post
However, when one rejects the god claims without sufficient evidence, one is then an Atheist.
This is Huxley's opinion. I disagree.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 08:09 AM   #1015
Jack by the hedge
Safely Ignored
 
Jack by the hedge's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 9,749
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Because you maintain that the behavior of believers has nothing to do with their beliefs.
No. That's clearly not what I think. It's not that the behaviour of believers has nothing to do with their beliefs, on the contrary it is that their beliefs are entirely self-created and have nothing to do with the thing in which they believe, since it does not in fact exist. That I chose Superman as an absurd example should not distract you.

I am entirely unafraid that the volcano God is angry.
I am however somewhat anxious that the volcano has begun smoking.
I am seriously worried that the islanders will decide the sacrifice of an unbeliever may appease the volcano God.
Jack by the hedge is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 11:20 AM   #1016
JesseCuster
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 1,014
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Concepts matter
Depends on the concept.
JesseCuster is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 03:47 PM   #1017
Robin
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 10,902
This is the problem with labels in general.

Alice calls herself a Shrdluist meaning that she believes X,Y and Z

Bob uses the term Shrdulist to mean someone who believe W,X,Y and Z

Bob asks Alice to justify belief W Alice says "I don't believe W". Bob says, "I thought you were a Shrdluist", Alice says "I am"

Bob and Alice spend the next few years arguing about what a Shrdluist believes and neither W, X,Y or Z get discussed.

But there is no objective fact of the matter about what a word means.

Bob and Alice would be better to ditch the term "Shrdluist" and discuss their respective positions on W,X,Y and Z directly.
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 03:55 PM   #1018
Robin
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 10,902
The matter of whether or not we should try to analyse the reasons for the behaviour of believers seems to be a new branch in this discussion.

I know lots of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs etc and I get along with them fine, I don't have to psychoanalyse them any more than they have to psychoanalyse me.

It might be useful to enquire into the psychological underpinnings of religious fanaticism of various types, but I am sure that I would not be up to that task without undertaking a degree and PhD in psychology.

In any case I am sure that nearly every person is a different case. I don't think the Anglican priest I follow on Twitter has the same motivations as, say, Franklin Graham. For a start the priest likes to tweet funny stories about his husband and I doubt that Franklin Graham does that.

I am not sure that Franklin Graham even has a husband. Maybe I could google it.
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 7th November 2019, 05:05 PM   #1019
Lithrael
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,625
Ah, well, then perhaps for the purposes of the thread we can attack the question without using the contentious term!

A) Are people who once had god beliefs, and have shed them, inevitably pessimists?
A1) if they shed them primarily due to disillusionment?
A2) if they shed them primarily due to further consideration of facts/history?

B) Are people who have considered god beliefs and figured they don’t represent any truths about real gods, inevitably pessimists?
B1) if they were free to consider the question without much outside influence?
B2) if they considered the question in an environment of social expectation that they at least pay lip service to god beliefs?

C) Are people who have never considered any god beliefs, inevitably pessimists?
Lithrael is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 12:03 AM   #1020
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Jack by the hedge View Post
No. That's clearly not what I think. It's not that the behaviour of believers has nothing to do with their beliefs, on the contrary it is that their beliefs are entirely self-created and have nothing to do with the thing in which they believe, since it does not in fact exist. That I chose Superman as an absurd example should not distract you.

I am entirely unafraid that the volcano God is angry.
I am however somewhat anxious that the volcano has begun smoking.
I am seriously worried that the islanders will decide the sacrifice of an unbeliever may appease the volcano God.
I beg your pardon but you are interpreting badly my comments. I am not saying that "the thing" God causes believers' behaviour. It is the idea they have of a non-existent thing. It is this false idea that lead them to don't eat pig meal, confess their sins or attack infidels. I don't think that you can deny that their ideas about what God wants make them do these things.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 12:04 AM   #1021
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by JesseCuster View Post
Depends on the concept.
Of course.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 12:10 AM   #1022
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
The matter of whether or not we should try to analyse the reasons for the behaviour of believers seems to be a new branch in this discussion.

I know lots of Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs etc and I get along with them fine, I don't have to psychoanalyse them any more than they have to psychoanalyse me.

It might be useful to enquire into the psychological underpinnings of religious fanaticism of various types, but I am sure that I would not be up to that task without undertaking a degree and PhD in psychology.

In any case I am sure that nearly every person is a different case. I don't think the Anglican priest I follow on Twitter has the same motivations as, say, Franklin Graham. For a start the priest likes to tweet funny stories about his husband and I doubt that Franklin Graham does that.

I am not sure that Franklin Graham even has a husband. Maybe I could google it.
I'm not trying to investigate the causes of religious beliefs now. I am interested in the definition of God because it is important to define atheism. Some in this forum have argued that the definition of atheism is impossible because there is no definition of "god. That is why we have addressed the issue.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 12:55 AM   #1023
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Lithrael View Post
Ah, well, then perhaps for the purposes of the thread we can attack the question without using the contentious term!

A) Are people who once had god beliefs, and have shed them, inevitably pessimists?
A1) if they shed them primarily due to disillusionment?
A2) if they shed them primarily due to further consideration of facts/history?

B) Are people who have considered god beliefs and figured they don’t represent any truths about real gods, inevitably pessimists?
B1) if they were free to consider the question without much outside influence?
B2) if they considered the question in an environment of social expectation that they at least pay lip service to god beliefs?

C) Are people who have never considered any god beliefs, inevitably pessimists?
These and many other nuances would surely arise in a discussion of pessimism and atheism. They are actually assumed in the present debate and can be summed up in a simpler question (intentionally avoiding cursed words):

Should someone who does not believe in gods be pessimistic?

In my opinion the question is confusing because it includes an ambiguous word: pessimistic. Pessimism can refer to many things, so we should begin to say what we mean. That is why I proposed that the situation faced by those who do not believe in God can be called rather dramatic or concerning.

Last edited by David Mo; 8th November 2019 at 12:59 AM.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 01:38 AM   #1024
erwinl
Master Poster
 
erwinl's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 2,376
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
These and many other nuances would surely arise in a discussion of pessimism and atheism. They are actually assumed in the present debate and can be summed up in a simpler question (intentionally avoiding cursed words):

Should someone who does not believe in gods be pessimistic?

In my opinion the question is confusing because it includes an ambiguous word: pessimistic. Pessimism can refer to many things, so we should begin to say what we mean. That is why I proposed that the situation faced by those who do not believe in God can be called rather dramatic or concerning.
If you go that way, there's still a lot of ambiguous in your proposal.

Like what is meant with dramatic or with concerning? Please define this properly.
And moreover. Which god(s)? One in particular? Or all of them?
__________________
Bow before your king
Member of the "Zombie Misheard Lyrics Support Group"
erwinl is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 04:58 AM   #1025
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by erwinl View Post
If you go that way, there's still a lot of ambiguous in your proposal.

Like what is meant with dramatic or with concerning? Please define this properly.
And moreover. Which god(s)? One in particular? Or all of them?
God: the unbeliever is regarding the gods he has heard about and makes an inductive generalization from this knowledge. In my case...

"God" means: supernatural entity that is the creator and/or sustainer of the universe and is a superhuman power with respect to knowledge, power and moral perfection. It orders (directly or through authorized persons) specific behaviours that are the condition for a special reward (in another world usually) or punishment.

"Dramatic" means that by not accepting gods, the unbeliever has to face an essential question that is not easy to answer: What can I do? In other words: What moral principles are ?

Last edited by David Mo; 8th November 2019 at 05:35 AM.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 06:16 AM   #1026
Robin
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 10,902
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
"Dramatic" means that by not accepting gods, the unbeliever has to face an essential question that is not easy to answer: What can I do? In other words: What moral principles are ?
Everyone has that same question whether they believe in some supernatural entity or not.

I know that you think believers should be given a free pass on the Euthyphro dilemma - to say "not my department" with respect to morals and ethics, but I am not buying it.

This would imply that if God were to command that raping children was good (as some believers do indeed believe) then we should just accept that, for them, raping children is good.

The "Something becomes good by being commanded by God" attitude is not by any means a universal attitude from believers. C.S. Lewis, for example, felt it was a revolting position.

I don't think I have come across a believer who thinks that "good" means nothing else than "commanded by God".

So the questions of "what can I do?" and "What are moral principles?" are universal ones, not restricted to atheists.
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"

Last edited by Robin; 8th November 2019 at 06:26 AM.
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 06:25 AM   #1027
Robin
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 10,902
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I'm not trying to investigate the causes of religious beliefs now. I am interested in the definition of God because it is important to define atheism.
I didn't say anything about addressing the causes of religious beliefs.

I said "The matter of whether or not we should try to analyse the reasons for the behaviour of believers seems to be a new branch in this discussion." I was addressing this statement from you before
Quote:
I believe a very simple thing that I don't know why it is being debated here (there seems to be a mania to debate everything): That ideas that people have in their heads influence the way they behave, whether they are false or true. If we want to explain the behavior of believers we have to analyze their beliefs.
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 06:28 AM   #1028
Robin
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 10,902
To paraphrase Socrates (or rather Plato), when people say "Something good is what God commands", they are not telling me what "good" is, they are just telling me something that happened to it - that God commanded it.
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 07:03 AM   #1029
Robin
Penultimate Amazing
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 10,902
And again

Bob: "What is Shrdlu?"
Alice : "What do you mean by Shrdlu?"
Bob : "That is just what I asked you"

Bob : "What are the moral principles?"
Alice; "What.do you mean by 'moral principles''
Bob: "That is just what I asked you"
__________________
The non-theoretical character of metaphysics would not be in itself a defect; all arts have this non-theoretical character without thereby losing their high value for personal as well as for social life. The danger lies in the deceptive character of metaphysics; it gives the illusion of knowledge without actually giving any knowledge. This is the reason why we reject it. - Rudolf Carnap "Philosophy and Logical Syntax"
Robin is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 08:40 AM   #1030
Lithrael
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,625
I completely agree with Robin here; it’s one of the things I was trying to say earlier.

Originally Posted by Robin View Post
Everyone has that same question whether they believe in some supernatural entity or not.

I know that you think believers should be given a free pass on the Euthyphro dilemma - to say "not my department" with respect to morals and ethics, but I am not buying it.

This would imply that if God were to command that raping children was good (as some believers do indeed believe) then we should just accept that, for them, raping children is good.

The "Something becomes good by being commanded by God" attitude is not by any means a universal attitude from believers. C.S. Lewis, for example, felt it was a revolting position.

I don't think I have come across a believer who thinks that "good" means nothing else than "commanded by God".

So the questions of "what can I do?" and "What are moral principles?" are universal ones, not restricted to atheists.
The first four pages of the thread hummed along quite nicely before we all stopped to figure out what Mo means by “dramatic” and “nausea” and to argue about the characterization of all atheism as an abandonment of religion for like two weeks.

Now it sounds like it’s finally shaken out that he thinks the religious are, in principle if not in real life, inherently more settled, in the feeling that they have a superfather taking care of the question of the basic morals of life on their behalf. The atheists come face to face with the idea that morality/what to do with your life is an important question they have to look at for themselves.

Despite the ongoing disagreement about the way he’s characterized things, he does go on to say that at the end of the day the religious are not necessarily inherently any more or less pessimistic than everybody else. He just thinks it’s because of things like the Problem of Evil rather than that, as I think, the religious do not typically actually get a significant amount of moral certitude from their religion.

Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
Of course, atheism implies some dramatic question. You cannot abandon religion and continue to live like nothing has happen. This is the existential "nausea" that every one copes as he can. There are lucid ways and illusory ways.

But for all I know religious people are not free of this kind of nausea. They rationalize it in other ways like doubt, God's silence and distressing mystery of a terrible god.

I think that religious people are more prone to illusory ways that atheist. It seems more consolatory, in principle. But it is ironic that this illusory consolation leads them to new anguishes that come from a dependence of a terrible father. How do you be calm with an incomprehensible and violent father? It is useless that I constantly repeat that my Father loves me if I see how He treat his creatures.

That is why that questioning about the advantages or disadvantages of religion is an useless question. Be lucid and search your way. There is not other that is valid for you.
Lithrael is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 8th November 2019, 12:29 PM   #1031
Darat
Lackey
Administrator
 
Darat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: South East, UK
Posts: 88,030
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
And again

Bob: "What is Shrdlu?"
Alice : "What do you mean by Shrdlu?"
Bob : "That is just what I asked you"

Bob : "What are the moral principles?"
Alice; "What.do you mean by 'moral principles''
Bob: "That is just what I asked you"
Which is why I think a better working definition of "atheist" is someone who, when asked which God they believe in, answers with "none". Disbelief is not an active behaviour but belief is.
__________________
I wish I knew how to quit you
Darat is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2019, 12:46 AM   #1032
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Robin View Post
Everyone has that same question whether they believe in some supernatural entity or not.

I know that you think believers should be given a free pass on the Euthyphro dilemma - to say "not my department" with respect to morals and ethics, but I am not buying it.

This would imply that if God were to command that raping children was good (as some believers do indeed believe) then we should just accept that, for them, raping children is good.

The "Something becomes good by being commanded by God" attitude is not by any means a universal attitude from believers. C.S. Lewis, for example, felt it was a revolting position.

I don't think I have come across a believer who thinks that "good" means nothing else than "commanded by God".

So the questions of "what can I do?" and "What are moral principles?" are universal ones, not restricted to atheists.
I'm with you. Everyone has to ask himself what to do and nothing can stop him from asking it. The difference is that the believer hides his responsibility under submission to God and the unbeliever has to face his responsibility in deciding what is good. This is a problem of bad faith and courage also.

Theology is proof that a responsible and true believer (let's put aside indifferent or conventional believers) also has to face dramatic problems. For example, modern ethical sensitivity to the barbarian god of the Bible, the loving Father and the eternal pains in hell, etc.

But theologians or not, orthodox or heretics, every believer who hears the voice of God has to set aside his personal opinions about good and obey. Otherwise it would be the agonizing soul of Ivan Karamazov or Satan the Rebel. And these are not very Christian examples.

Or to stop believing in God, which is not easy either.

I don't know what that Lewis you quote would say. I don't know him.

Note: the Euphron referring to Christianity is a source of monumental paradoxes that theologians do not want to see because it would be too much for them. But I think commenting on this would take us very far from the subject.

Last edited by David Mo; 9th November 2019 at 01:08 AM.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2019, 01:04 AM   #1033
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Lithrael View Post
I completely agree with Robin here; it’s one of the things I was trying to say earlier.



The first four pages of the thread hummed along quite nicely before we all stopped to figure out what Mo means by “dramatic” and “nausea” and to argue about the characterization of all atheism as an abandonment of religion for like two weeks.

Now it sounds like it’s finally shaken out that he thinks the religious are, in principle if not in real life, inherently more settled, in the feeling that they have a superfather taking care of the question of the basic morals of life on their behalf. The atheists come face to face with the idea that morality/what to do with your life is an important question they have to look at for themselves.

Despite the ongoing disagreement about the way he’s characterized things, he does go on to say that at the end of the day the religious are not necessarily inherently any more or less pessimistic than everybody else. He just thinks it’s because of things like the Problem of Evil rather than that, as I think, the religious do not typically actually get a significant amount of moral certitude from their religion.
Thank you for quoting me. I think that if people had read carefully my comment, maybe the following (too long) debate would not have taken place.

I was not justifying the position of the believer. Nor I was defending any atheistic position. I was pointing out a responsibility that all believers hide and some atheists also: I and I alone am responsible for my moral values. Neither God, nature, the working class nor any other entity can justify me.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2019, 09:46 AM   #1034
Gord_in_Toronto
Penultimate Amazing
 
Gord_in_Toronto's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 18,787
Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I'm with you. Everyone has to ask himself what to do and nothing can stop him from asking it. The difference is that the believer hides his responsibility under submission to God and the unbeliever has to face his responsibility in deciding what is good. This is a problem of bad faith and courage also.

Theology is proof that a responsible and true believer (let's put aside indifferent or conventional believers) also has to face dramatic problems. For example, modern ethical sensitivity to the barbarian god of the Bible, the loving Father and the eternal pains in hell, etc.

But theologians or not, orthodox or heretics, every believer who hears the voice of God has to set aside his personal opinions about good and obey. Otherwise it would be the agonizing soul of Ivan Karamazov or Satan the Rebel. And these are not very Christian examples.

Or to stop believing in God, which is not easy either.

I don't know what that Lewis you quote would say. I don't know him.

Note: the Euphron referring to Christianity is a source of monumental paradoxes that theologians do not want to see because it would be too much for them. But I think commenting on this would take us very far from the subject.
This ignores the possibility that, surprisingly, God's voice often tells the believer exactly what the believer already believes.
__________________
"Reality is what's left when you cease to believe." Philip K. Dick
Gord_in_Toronto is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 9th November 2019, 11:37 PM   #1035
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Gord_in_Toronto View Post
This ignores the possibility that, surprisingly, God's voice often tells the believer exactly what the believer already believes.
I don't ignore it. I imagine this is more common when the believer literally hears voices. Joan of Arc or Paul of Tarsus, for example. But a conflict with God and the believer's desires is relatively common when God is interpreted by a representative. The believer is not alone here and his personal interests may intersect with those of the priest.

But this is an assumption. I know some cases in every sense and it should not be disdained that the voices he hears represent internal conflicts of the believer.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th November 2019, 10:16 AM   #1036
Lithrael
Graduate Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,625
To the extent that this is true, that believers just assume the morals of the local religion they’re participating in and don’t spend the energy to face moral questions themselves, I think it’s got a lot to do with the part of human nature where we just roll along and try to cope using whatever tools we’ve internalized without really examining things as much as we could or should.

I’ve heard several anecdotes about, for example, mothers in communities where there’s a lot of anti-gay stuff going around, who regret the way they initially reacted to a child coming out to them, even though they were never trying to be the ‘get out of my house’ worst case scenario. Parents who regret that their very first response was anything other than “I love you no matter what.” Who regret that their first response was to try to cope with something terrible, and that reaction pushed their child away. These parents who characterize the experience this way, changed their minds about all these particular moral boundaries basically right after they were seriously challenged. They only assumed what people told them about what God thinks about it was what they ought to think about it when... well, when they didn’t have to think about it. They kept that toolset with them, and the first time they used it, the tool hurt the things they cared about. So they threw that particular tool away, and started work on repairing their relationship with their kid.

Other tools work fine whether you’re challenged to think more deeply about them or not. Don’t steal, and especially don’t steal your neighbor’s cow. So you keep those and assume the rest are for some good reason too. Until you’re challenged by something more serious than ‘but what if I really want that cow?’ And then - well you don’t even re-evaluate. You evaluate for the first time. Before that it was just coasting.

But really, I think the same is true for people who are irreligious. They’re still going to pick up moral norms from their surroundings. I think the difference is that whenever they’re challenged to think about the real applications of those morals, it’s more just the feeling of challenging their own assumptions or challenging the status quo than the feeling of challenging god-given rules.

Last edited by Lithrael; 10th November 2019 at 11:02 AM.
Lithrael is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 10th November 2019, 11:33 PM   #1037
David Mo
Illuminator
 
David Mo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2012
Location: Somewhere on the Greenwich meridian
Posts: 4,696
Originally Posted by Lithrael View Post
To the extent that this is true, that believers just assume the morals of the local religion they’re participating in and don’t spend the energy to face moral questions themselves, (...)
But really, I think the same is true for people who are irreligious. They’re still going to pick up moral norms from their surroundings.
I don't know how many believers and non-believers pick up their morals from the environment. In a way, everyone collects their ideas from the environment. Except for a few geniuses, our creativity is limited. We take our ideas from the social milieu and fuse them personally, at best. But many people are more gregarious than others. Their morality is only based on "what a decent person has to do". Their moral problems consist only of what neighbours might think of this. But sometimes doubt arises and it is not possible to avoid thinking for oneself. This can be the open door to a genuine moral attitude. And this genuine moral attitude is the one I was talking about before. Moral robots are another matter. A sociological and political question rather than a moral one.
David Mo is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th November 2019, 01:37 PM   #1038
Cris
Banned
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Portugal/Brazil
Posts: 123
i know very pessimistic theist
Cris is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th November 2019, 06:06 PM   #1039
Cris
Banned
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Location: Portugal/Brazil
Posts: 123
atheists say that if god exists he will be detected by the great hadron collider.
Cris is offline   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Old 11th November 2019, 06:10 PM   #1040
xterra
So far, so good...
 
xterra's Avatar
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: On the outskirts of Nowhere; the middle was too crowded
Posts: 3,325
Originally Posted by Cris View Post
atheists say that if god exists he will be detected by the great hadron collider.

Please provide a link to a quotation to back up that statement.
__________________
Over we go....
xterra is online now   Quote this post in a PM   Nominate this post for this month's language award Copy a direct link to this post Reply With Quote Back to Top
Reply

International Skeptics Forum » General Topics » Religion and Philosophy

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 11:04 AM.
Powered by vBulletin. Copyright ©2000 - 2019, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.

This forum began as part of the James Randi Education Foundation (JREF). However, the forum now exists as
an independent entity with no affiliation with or endorsement by the JREF, including the section in reference to "JREF" topics.

Disclaimer: Messages posted in the Forum are solely the opinion of their authors.