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View Diary: Atheist Digest '10, The believers' path to Atheism (212 comments)

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  •  Very Nice Diary (5+ / 0-)

    "The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower." -- Robert M. Pirsig

    One very small point: if words mean anything, then 'atheism' is not an 'absence of the belief in gods;' it is rather the belief in the absence of gods. Like theism, atheism is an assertion, just at the other end of the teeter-totter.

    Non-theism, as you describe the Buddhists, is probably closer to the fulcrum.

    •  The prefix 'a' means "without" (7+ / 0-)

      not "against."  I belief in the absence of gods is how most thesists want to paint atheists as a vehicle to insist that they have an antithetical but just as faith based "belief structure" to theists.  It just isn't the case.  We don't have to have faith in anything.  We are open to new evidence of the existence of a god but, absent any, do not establish a belief in one.

      "Religion allows people by the millions to believe things, that only a crazy person could believe on their own." -Sam Harris

      by XNeeOhCon on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:31:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This reminds me of a Clarke story: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader

      "The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of the mountain, or in the petals of a flower." -- Robert M. Pirsig

      Read, if you haven't, The Nine Billion Names of God.

      "Certainly the game is rigged. Don't let that stop you; if you don't bet, you can't win." Lazarus Long

      by rfall on Sun Aug 22, 2010 at 09:34:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "If words mean anything"? (4+ / 0-)

      Please.

      I wrote a diary in this very series addressing this very point. As I wrote in my introduction:

      What is an "atheist"? What's an "agnostic"? Why are non-believers so adamant about these words and what they do or don't mean? These are the kinds of issues that need to be hashed out at the beginning of any in-depth discussion of non-believers and our ideas. The idea is to head off a number of disputes that constantly bedevil public discussion of atheism and related concepts; the disputes in question are based on common misconceptions regarding what "atheism," among related terms, even means.

      So, if you're tempted to respond to any diary in this series by pointing out, say, that atheism requires just as much of a "leap of faith" as belief in God does, please read this diary first. It is very likely that you are operating from an understanding of the term "atheism" that conflicts severely with the widespread consensus, among self-declared atheists, regarding what that term means. At the very least, you need to be aware of that conflict.

      Apparently my attempt to "head off" stuff like this hasn't been so successful.

      Wading into a series like this one waving sentences such as "Like theism, atheism is an assertion, just at the other end of the teeter-totter" is just a very bad idea. Please look before you leap.

    •  Do you believe in the absence of the Tooth Fairy? (3+ / 0-)

      Or do you simply lack a belief in the Tooth Fairy?

      Atheism is a belief like not collecting stamps is a hobby.

      Theism posits the existence of a supernatural intelligence. That is an extraordinary claim, requiring extraordinary evidence (personaly, I'd settle for ordinary evidence - hell, any evidence at all).

      The default position is not to arbitrarily believe in extraordinary claims absent corresponding evidence. No faith is required not to have faith.

      Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

      by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 01:18:11 AM PDT

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    •  Wrong (0+ / 0-)

      Atheism is not the "belief in the absence of god(s)," it is the lack of belief in the existence of god(s).

      Moreover, one could argue that atheism is a rejection of the concept of faith.

      "Give to every other human being every right that you claim for yourself." - Robert G. Ingersoll

      by Apost8 on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 07:14:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Huh? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      RandomActsOfReason

      If words mean anything?

      a- simply means "without". Why do you think atheism cannot mean absence of belief?

      I think most atheists would find this to be a distinction with a difference. Do I not believe there is a Tooth Fairy, or do I believe there is no Tooth Fairy? I don't care. I'm not a philosopher, just a person speaking English, and these two things basically say the same thing. Why? - because only in a hair-splitting debate about epistemology - which I have no interest in having - would I entertain the possibility that there is a Tooth Fairy.

      The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. --Bertrand Russell

      by denise b on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 11:25:47 PM PDT

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      •  As usual, we will get no response from (0+ / 0-)

        the asserter, indicating in any way, shape or form, the possibility of acknowledging error, or, heaven forbid (pun intended), an expression of delight at learning something new.

        No, we'll likely get crickets, or the doubling-down of faith in the rejection of all contrary evidence.

        Always make new mistakes - Esther Dyson

        by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Aug 23, 2010 at 11:47:29 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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