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  •  Actually... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lightiris

    why do you care so much? Is there something about the idea that there can be (and are) fundamentalist atheists bug you?

    Actually, the broader question is whether atheism is a belief system. Yes, it does bug me when people misdefine atheism. Why? Because the truth is easy to find and understand, but for some reason non-atheists insist that they already know all they need and, in fact, understand atheism better than atheists do.

    Funny, but I'm pretty sure I've read where Christians get annoyed at atheists who act like they understand Christianity better than Christians do...

    I am also bothered — and perhaps more so — but the apparent inclination to equate fundamentalism with everything bad. That misdefines and misrepresents fundamentalism grossly.

    Both of the above errors ultimately lead to sloppy thinking and prevents people from dealing with the real issues in a substantive manner.

    I don't know that you are one of them, though your string of denials do suggest a tendency in that direction.

    I've provided links and arguments explaining why atheism isn't a belief system; none of which you have substantively addressed. Let's assume that you are correct, however: once again we find you defining fundamentalism in a negative fashion.

    But does the existence of some fundamentalists compromise the larger group? Or is that inevitable?

    Once again we have a negative image of fundamentalism. No, I don't think that fundamentalists compromise a larger group because I don't regard fundamentalism as inherently bad. I've encountered far more annoying fundamentalists than pleasant ones, but that doesn't change the fact that fundamentalism is a neutral category about a certain type of belief system and a way those beliefs are held.

    •  fundamentalism is bad (0+ / 0-)

      it always leads to folks with the inability to understand others.

      (yeah i know i said i was leaving, but stupid me checked in one last time.  won't be able to address everything though).

      take your post.  Apparently you think that I don't understand atheism because I cannot relate.  But then, anyone who knows me well would have laughed their asses off at that.  Like many people, my views and faith has evolved.  I used to agree wth a lot of what you are saying, but since I have been able to step back and take a more objective look.  

      These days I'm a recovering Catholic, but for years I rejected christianity and the idea that there could be a God.  I've also been involved in a number of socialmovements and have observed a lot of personal dynamics and interactions.

      Of course there is gray in the definition of any belief system.  I realize it is hard for true believers to conceive that the belief in an absence of something is a belief system, but it is.  In fact, the fact that you would want so badly for it not to be says a lot about your belief system itself.  And I can relate.  Debating with you is simply challening myself at a different time, so it is easy to understand where you are coming from.  

      There is most definitely some merit in what you believe.  I'm not going to try and change that.  But sociologically, denying the existence of a belief system and sects of fundamentalism i have trouble with.  It is the belief in infallability that disturbs me in Christians and Atheists alike.

      •  sigh... (0+ / 0-)

        fundamentalism is bad it always leads to folks with the inability to understand others.

        OK, prove it — but without assuming the truth of your definition of fundamentalism as necessarily bad, for that would be a logical fallacy.

        Apparently you think that I don't understand atheism because I cannot relate.

        No, that's incorrect. I don't know whether you can "understand" atheism or not (though there's no reason why you shouldn't because it's such a simple concept) and I have no thoughts on whether you can "relate." The idea of "relating" never occurred to me. I'm simply pointing out to you that you have made an error and that you define atheism incorrectly.

        I used to agree wth a lot of what you are saying, but since I have been able to step back and take a more objective look.  

        Oh? I'd be curious to learn what of the things I am saying — things I have actually said here — which you used to agree with but don't anymore.

        These days I'm a recovering Catholic, but for years I rejected christianity and the idea that there could be a God.

        I should point out that I haven't said anything about Catholicism, Christianity, or the existence of gods here.

        I realize it is hard for true believers to conceive that the belief in an absence of something is a belief system, but it is.

        You still don't get it. Atheism isn't the belief in the absence of something, it the absence of a belief in something. There is a difference.

        I do not currently have the belief that you are wearing a green shirt. I do not, however, believe that you aren't wearing a green shirt. I do not currently believe that you do own a Honda. I do not, however, believe that you don't own a Honda.

        In fact, the fact that you would want so badly for it not to be says a lot about your belief system itself.

        Oh, I have a belief system. Atheism, however, is not that belief system. I have challenged you to explain what "belief system" — a system of multiple, interrelated beliefs — is shared by all atheists. The fact that you have not done so speaks volumes; the fact that you haven't even tried says even more. If you were serious about making a case for your proposition that atheism is a belief system, you would have at least tried to explain what the relevant beliefs are, how they constitute a system, and how it is that atheists with such divergent and even contradictory beliefs can all adhere to it.

        Debating with you is simply challening myself at a different time, so it is easy to understand where you are coming from.

        Don't you suspect that maybe it's a bit arrogant for you to assume that you know me and were once like me? You have never met me and simply don't know me well enough to make such an assertion. I will further insist that it's wrong for you to do so because by imaging that I am now like you once were, you commit two errors: first, you adopt an arrogant attitude that imagines yourself as being more "advanced" than me and, second, it prevents you from dealing with me as me — you just keep seeing yourself and as a consequence fail to realize that I am my own person with very different experiences, history, and ideas from you.

        I used to be Christian myself, but I don't presume to look at Christians like you as if you are just an earlier version of myself that I've moved beyond. I'll thank you to treat me with that same respect and consideration, if you can.

        There is most definitely some merit in what you believe.

        You don't know what I believe, you just presume to know — that's one of the errors involved with assuming that I am now like you once were. You seem to keep thinking of what you used to believe and then attribute those beliefs to me.

        You're not having this discussion with yourself, you're having it with me.

        But sociologically, denying the existence of a belief system and sects of fundamentalism i have trouble with.

        Sociologically, misusing the term "fundamentalism" and applying it willy-nilly is something I have trouble with.

        It is the belief in infallability that disturbs me in Christians and Atheists alike.

        The belief that one is infallible is not a marker of fundamentalism — at least, not any scholarly or academic examination of fundamentalism. Perhaps it's a marker commonly used by people who simply use the label "fundamentalism" for anything they don't like, but I'm not such a person. I prefer to deal with people and belief systems on their own terms rather than invest their terminology with my own prejudices and assumptions about them.

        Try it some time.

        •  i really need to stop reading these posts (0+ / 0-)

          You keep arguing the same nonsensical things:

          1. that atheism is something than what it is (trying to have the best of both worlds - basically you don't like to be categorized)
          1. that for there to be a belief system, all atheists have to agree on what that system is even though no other such group with a belief system meets that criteria
          1. that you haven't said that things you've said
          1. that you cannot have multiple belief systems (a belief system that is atheistic, a belief system that is something else).

          Infallibility is not what makes someone fundamentalist, but it is a common sympton of fundamentalism.  Do you understand a little better?

          This conversation is typical of all conversations with fundamentalists.  The unwillingness to look critically, or even objectively, at your own belief system is typical.  I understand why you are defensive, and drew the assumptions about me and others that disagree with you that you did.  But don't pawn off you insecurity off as someone elses problem.

          •  No, You Need to Make an Argument, Not Just Claims (0+ / 0-)

            1.  that atheism is something than what it is (trying to have the best of both worlds - basically you don't like to be categorized)

            Well, at least you finally acknowledge that I have been arguing this instead of simply asserting it. The problem is, you haven't addressed by my argument and you haven't offered any argument for why I am wrong.

            that for there to be a belief system, all atheists have to agree on what that system is even though no other such group with a belief system meets that criteria

            I didn't say that all atheists have to agree on what it is — not all Christians agree on what Christianity is. However, there is a belief system which we can all Christainity and point out the interrelated beliefs which Christians have in common. If you can't do the same for atheism, you have no right to insist that it is a belief system.

            Or to put it another way: you have made the claim that atheism is a belief system, but you haven't even tried to make an argument in defense of that claim. You haven't cited what these beliefs are or how they are a system, much less that atheists all share it.

            that you haven't said that things you've said

            This sounds very much like an accusation that I have lied about what I have said. That's a serious charge to make and I think you should have the decency of backing it up with specific citations or apologize and withdraw it.

            that you cannot have multiple belief systems (a belief system that is atheistic, a belief system that is something else).

            I never said that. Of course you can have multiple belief systems, though I don't think that you can have multiple belief systems unless those belief systems share a few things in common. At the very least they must be compatible, but sharing a few elements makes compatibility easier.

            Infallibility is not what makes someone fundamentalist, but it is a common sympton of fundamentalism.

            Is it? Can you prove this?

            This conversation is typical of all conversations with fundamentalists.

            Now you are coming the fallacy of Begging the Question — and in multiple ways, which is quite a feat. You are begging the question about the definition of atheism (I can't count the number of times I have asked you to support it), you are begging the question about the definition of fundamentalism (also thus far unsupported) and you are begging the question that you know anything about me.

            Here we can finally see why your misdefinition of fundamentalism leads to sloppy thinking: by defining it way that makes it necessarily negative, it allows you to attach it as a smear to anyone who disagrees with your or whom you simply find disagreeable. No longer is "fundamentalism" a label which actually informs us about what a person believes; instead, it's just a smear that informs about your perception of that person.

            Actually, your use of "fundamentalism" shares a lot in common with how some conservatives use the label "godless" to apply to any liberals they don't like.

            The unwillingness to look critically, or even objectively, at your own belief system is typical.

            We haven't discussed my belief system yet.

            But don't pawn off you insecurity off as someone elses problem.

            Poisoning the Well fallacy. It's not a sign of "insecurity" to persist in disagreeing with you and, what's more, having the temerity to point out that you have thus far not actually offered any arguments on behalf of your claims. You've made assertions about the nature of concepts without supporting those assertions. You've made quite a few personal insults without those insults having anything to do with the subject. More than once you've made inappropriate assumptions about me despite the fact that this isn't about me, but about ideas.

            I'd be curious to learn if you even understand what an argument really is? This isn't a Monty Python sketch, you know.

            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 10:18:52 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  One more thing... (0+ / 0-)

            I should have commented on this...

            basically you don't like to be categorized

            That is absolutely not true — I have no problem with categorization so long as the categories are accurate. I'm an atheist because I don't happen to believe in any gods. I'm an agnostic because I don't claim to know for sure whether any gods definitely do or do not exist. For varying reasons, I can also be categorized as: freethinker, liberal, secular humanist, skeptic, male, American, computer literate, Pennsylvanian, Mac user, cat owner, etc.

            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 10:29:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  yes...a buch of typical fundamentalists (0+ / 0-)

              1.  that atheism is something than what it is (trying to have the best of both worlds - basically you don't like to be categorized)

            Atheists don't mind being categorized in some logically consistent fashion. The category is of people who do not have a belief in god(s). They may have beliefs too, but that is irrelevant to the broader category. They might be fundamentalists in those beliefs, but that is irrelevant to the broader category. Nothing you have said explains how you can be a 'fundamentalist' without some reference point.

              2. that for there to be a belief system, all atheists have to agree on what that system is even though no other such group with a belief system meets that criteria

            No group with a belief system agrees on what the belief system is?  You have defined "groups with a belief system" in a way that is not very useful to the discussion of fundamentalism, because it would be impossible to distinguish between fundamentalists and others within the group. If two people do things in ways that have no shared positive characteristics at all, to say that they share a "system" is at best confusing since it implies consistency by definition.

            ..i'll ignore the claim that AG is 'in denial'

              4. that you cannot have multiple belief systems (a belief system that is atheistic, a belief system that is something else).

            'Atheist' is a dichotomous concept, in this case a residual category. Within that category, obviously, infinite comptatible belief systems may be present (which, you guessed it, may be actually have tenets and fundamentalism). I'm not aware of any claim to the contrary. I certainly did not see such a claim in AG's comments.

            •  And thank you, (0+ / 0-)

              marvinolasky, for your contributions here, as well.  Both you and AtheismGuide have done a wonderful job debunking the ill-conceived notions and misconceptions that swirl around atheism whenever it is discussed.  Terrific stuff!

              It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

              by lightiris on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 12:21:16 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you thank you. (0+ / 0-)

          Your comments on this thread are a breath of fresh air.  You have articulated these points so clearly and so succinctly, that I feel compelled to bookmark this diary for future reference.  Bravo/a!  

          It's all fun and games until the Vice President shoots someone in the face.

          by lightiris on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 12:19:18 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

            You have articulated these points so clearly and so succinctly, that I feel compelled to bookmark this diary for future reference.

            At this point, I can't tell what post is responding to what other post — it's all on the same level. Just in case you're responding to me, since I wrote so many of the posts at this level... thanks! You'll find regular writings of the same sort on my site, too.

            If you weren't addressing me... oops. Sorry. Just ignore me.

            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 12:22:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  You wrote, (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lightiris

        "I realize it is hard for true believers to conceive that the belief in an absence of something is a belief system, but it is." Atheism is the absence of belief, not the belief in absence. There is a distinction.

        •  that is not true (0+ / 0-)

          Believing that there is not Gods is a belief.  Just as I don't believe there are fairies is a belief.

          The problem with the definition that you want to attribute to atheists is that not all people who have an absence of belief are atheists.  In fact, most aren't.  What sets aside atheists is that they believe in the absence of God or Gods.  If you don't believe in that absence you are not an atheist.

          Basically, the distinction you are trying to draw is a false distinction.

          •  Are You a Fundamentalist? (0+ / 0-)

            Believing that there is not Gods is a belief.

            You're right, that is a belief. However:

            • It is not a belief system
            • It is not a belief shared by all atheists.

            The problem with the definition that you want to attribute to atheists is that not all people who have an absence of belief are atheists.

            It's not generally an "absence of belief" which marks one as an atheist (not that such a state sounds possible), it's an absence of belief in gods which marks one as an atheist. If it is your assertion that there are people who lack a belief in gods and who aren't atheists, please explain how and cite examples.

            Before you go much further, though, you might want to consider the fact that most dictionaries and other specialized references define atheism in the broad manner that I an other atheists do.

            What sets aside atheists is that they believe in the absence of God or Gods.

            Why do you think you understand atheism better than atheists? You act like you are "infallible" with regards to the definition of atheism — a problem you assert is characteristic of fundamentalists.

            Are you a fundamentalist?

            "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

            by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 10:24:29 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  probably (0+ / 0-)

              the most ridiculous part of this whole discussion is that your "definition" link references atheism as a belief system.  oops.

              •  Definitely (0+ / 0-)

                the most ridiculous part of this whole discussion is that your "definition" link references atheism as a belief system.  oops.

                No, it doesn't.

                I'm not honestly sure what the most ridiculous part of this discussion is. Could it be your apparent presumption that you understand atheism better than atheists? Or maybe it's your insistence on continually repeating the same assertions without every even trying to support them — and despite significant evidence to the contrary of what you claim?

                Perhaps it's just the fact that you have adopted an ad hoc definition of fundamentalism for the purpose of attacking fundamentalists and, in the end, it turns out that it applies to you as much as anyone.

                "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 02:59:46 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  btw (0+ / 0-)

              i don't pretend to understand atheism better.  I pretend to understand definitions are not subjective terms that you change at will to fit your need not to be categorized.  None of us likes to be categorized and I've been in many debates where I have resisted categorization just like you are.

              •  sheesh (0+ / 0-)

                i don't pretend to understand atheism better. I pretend to understand definitions are not subjective terms that you change at will to fit your need not to be categorized.

                First, it's incorrect that I have a need not to be categorized. I've already written a post to you refuting that bit of arrogant arm-chair psychologizing.

                Second, I didn't provide a subjective definition that I change at will. I provided a definition which is supported by most comprehensive dictionaries. Even that aside, it's the definition you'll consistently find atheists using to describe themselves — and so long as you insist that atheists are wrong in how they define atheism, you are effectively pretending that you understand atheism better than atheistgs.

                None of us likes to be categorized and I've been in many debates where I have resisted categorization just like you are.

                So, it appears that your presumption that I don't like to be categorized is, once again, merely an example of you seeing yourself rather than seeing me. That's why I told you it's wrong to do this: you end up making one mistake after another. Stop trying to have conversations with yourself and instead approach others as their own, independent selves.

                "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 03:03:21 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  go and read your 'definition' that you cited (0+ / 0-)

                  it comes down to a disbelief in Gods (with lots of attempts to project and define theists subjectively).

                  The categorization comment comes from reading the definition you cite.  It spends paragraphs and paragraphs trying to explain why there should be a broader definition, only to allow what the dictionaries already state - that what makes atheists atheists is that they do not believe in God or Gods (note that the writer acknowledges that absence of belief is not what defines an atheist).

                  It also comes from observations of social groups and education.  This includes observation of myself - it is not based solely on my experience.  I'm using myself as an example to make it clear that we all do this ( I still do it) and it is not unusual or something to be defensive about.

                  •  Uhh.... I wrote it (0+ / 0-)

                    go and read your 'definition' that you cited it comes down to a disbelief in Gods

                    Yes, atheism is disbelief in gods. Go read the cited dictionary definitions on the meaning of disbelief. And "gods" should be lowercase, by the way.

                    with lots of attempts to project and define theists subjectively.

                    No, theism is defined objectively as belief in the existence of some god or gods.

                    The categorization comment comes from reading the definition you cite. It spends paragraphs and paragraphs trying to explain why there should be a broader definition, only to allow what the dictionaries already state - that what makes atheists atheists is that they do not believe in God or Gods (note that the writer acknowledges that absence of belief is not what defines an atheist).

                    As the writer in question, I can categorically state that you are wrong that the writer does not acknowledge that the absence of belief is not what defines an atheism. Yes, dictionaries state that "what makes atheists atheists is that they do not believe in God or Gods," but "do not believe in gods" is not the same as "deny that gods exist."

                    The failure to accept the truth of a proposition is not the same as the denial of that proposition. Thus, the failure of a person to accept the truth of the proposition "god exists" makes them an atheist, but it does not mean that they deny the proposition "god exists" — which would entail asserting the truth of the proposition "god does not exist."

                    To put it in more formal logic terms,  ~(believe P) =! believe (~P)

                    I'm using myself as an example to make it clear that we all do this ( I still do it) and it is not unusual or something to be defensive about.

                    I don't care whether you do it or not. I already posted on the fact that there are a great many categories which I accept without hesitation as being true about myself. For some reason, you appear to suffer from an inability to believe what others tell you about themselves when what they say isn't true about yourself. I don't understand that.

                    "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                    by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 03:22:04 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

          •  Whatever man, (0+ / 0-)

            I drive a porche. So there.

          •  fairies (0+ / 0-)

            I don't believe there are fairies is a belief.

            this does not follow. you're equating belief as an action with that as an externally imposed category. take a hypothetical society who does not speculate on the supernatural. then imagine that some people in that society choose one day to believe in fairies. By your reasoning, all others are automatically then adherents of the "i-don't-believe-in-fairies" belief. If that is the case, you are a member of infinite 'beliefs' defined by other's choices. What does the term 'belief' mean at that point?

            •  no (0+ / 0-)

              My not believing in fairies is MY non-belief.  I have heard of fairies.  I've read books about fairies.

              In your hypothetical situation, those folks would neither be believers or non-believers but folks absent belief.  That does not make them a sort of atheist but simply folks who haven't discerned yet what to believe.

              •  Yes (0+ / 0-)

                In your hypothetical situation, those folks would neither be believers or non-believers but folks absent belief.

                I'm guessing that this is news to you, but the prefix a means "without, absence of, not." Atheism is thus "without theism" or "absence of theism" or "not theism."

                That does not make them a sort of atheist but simply folks who haven't discerned yet what to believe.

                Perhaps they haven't discerned yet what to believe, but it's a fact that they lack belief in fairies. If they aren't fariy-ists, then what are they if not a-fairy-ists?

                "If you do the right thing for the wrong reasons, the work becomes corrupted, impure, and ultimately self-destructive."

                by AtheismGuide on Sat Jul 29, 2006 at 03:05:57 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  fairies (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            lightiris

               I don't believe there are fairies is a belief.

            this does not follow. you're equating belief as an action with that as an externally imposed category. Take a hypothetical society who does not speculate on the supernatural. then imagine that some people in that society choose one day to believe in fairies. By your reasoning, all others are automatically then adherents of the "i-don't-believe-in-fairies" belief. If that is the case, you are a member of infinite 'beliefs' defined by other's choices. What does the term 'belief' mean at that point?

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