Skip to main content

In a recent diary, someone made the statement that von Brunn was an atheist as evidence that "dogmatic atheism" is just as dangerous as dogmatic christianity, or something along those lines.

The comments were loaded with people talking about the von Brunn and atheism, but the comments were flooded with incorrect assumptions about atheism and atheists.

So if you are curious about atheism, or if you think you fully understand atheism but want to double check yourslf, or maybe you are an atheist and want to expand/argue what I write below: have at it.

The first incorrect assumption I would like to address is the topic of "belief":

Atheism is a belief system.

Atheism is not a belief system because there isn't anything we are "believing" that could be considered a "system."  Atheism doesn't join people together in a common ideology like religions do because atheists share nothing in common, except their lack of belief in 1 specific thing.  Imagine trying to label other groups based on their lack of belief in 1 specific thing.  You'd have the "Non-bigfoot-believers" and the "Non-mermaid-believers" and the "Non-magic-believers".  These groups wouldn't share anything you could call a belief system.  Same with atheists.

In a way, people will get into a discussion of semantics of whether atheism is a "belief" or not, but really that is only because it is possible to state the any negative belief as a belief in the negative, which kinda works in english even if it doesn't exactly convey the position.

Some definitions of atheism will even say something along the lines of "belief there is no god" but really the issue here, from my perspective, is that there are a finite number of things I believe.  I believe gravity makes things fall, I believe I am losing my hair in the back, I believe my favorite team just lost their 3rd game in a row etc.

But the things I don't believe are infinite.  You could come up with an infinite number of things I don't believe in.  In fact, I could come up with an infinite number of things YOU don't believe in that all deal with pink unicorns!

Don't believe me?  
Do you believe that there is a pink unicorn in front of you right now?
Do you believe that there are 2 pink unicorns in front of you right now?
Do you believe that there are 3 pink unicorns .... forever.

So you could turn ALL of those infinite "lack of beliefs" into "beliefs" by stating the negatives, but none of those define the persons actual finite beliefs.

So, if someone asked me "Do you believe there is no god?" I would probably simply respond "Yes" but really the correct response to convey my position is "I don't believe that there is a god."

Whether or not atheism is a "belief" really isn't a giant deal, but it kinda leads into the next issue which is a big deal:

Atheists require faith to believe there is no god.

It takes more faith to be an atheist than to believe in god.

How can atheists be sure there is no god when they have no proof?

Atheists are arrogant in thinking they know there is no god when really they don't know.

Atheists claim to know what cannot be known.  

These statements are all inaccurate.  

This is where "belief" (or our lack of it) comes in to the real discussion.  99.9% of atheists won't claim (with the certainty that religious folks do to the contrary) that they know there isn't a god.

Now, once again, if someone asked me "Is there a god?" I'd probably just say "No", but the full answer would really be something like "I think the chance that there is a god is extremely small."  

Most atheists don't usually respond with the fully qualified answer, which I think leads to people to make the assumption that atheists are 100% sure that god doesn't exist.

This is not the case.  We don't KNOW that god doesn't exist.  I am totally open to the possibility of god existing, (and bigfoot, alien abductions, the lock ness monster, and holistic medicine) and as soon as there is evidence to support any of it, I will reevaluate my position.

So you see, (virtually all) atheists leave open the possibility for god existing.  Some people refer to this view as "weak atheism".  A "strong atheist" on the other hand (of which there are very few) would say "I know there is no god."  These people do in fact require faith to make such a statement because they can't have proof that god doesn't exist (because it's impossible to prove), but the 99.9% of us atheists who leave open that possibility of god don't require any "faith" to hold our position any more than it takes "faith" to not believe in Santa Claus.  You don't have proof that he isn't real, but the odds are pretty low.

If you aren't sure if god is real or not you aren't an atheist, you are really an agnostic and not an atheist.

In some respects this is true, but I still consider myself an atheist, and maybe after reading this some agnostics will consider themselves atheists too.

One definition for agnostic is:
One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

By this definition, I am an agnostic.  
But let me pose a question:  

On the topic of leprechauns, do you know they exist or not for certain?

While some would just jump to saying they are sure leprechauns don't exist, the reality is that no one can really be 100% sure that leprechauns or (insert any mythical magical made up thing here) don't exist.  It's impossible to prove.  So, by strict definitions, on the topic of leprechauns, you are all agnostics.  

But that really doesn't accurately describe your position on leprechauns does it?  No, you really don't think leprechauns exist... you aren't really "on the fence" about the issue.  Same for most atheists.  Yes, by leaving open the possibility that god could exist, by definition, we are agnostic, but for all intents and purposes, we are atheists.

Pol Pot and Stalin were atheists and they murdered tons of people.

This may be true, but they also both didn't believe in the flying spaghetti monster.  Neither of these lack of beliefs directed them to do what they did.   Their lack of blief wasn't the reason they murdered people.  They were sociopaths.

Based on sheer numbers, Christians must be committing murders all the time in the US.  But, usually not because of their religion.  I'm not going to blame christianity or any other religion for something one of it's followers do, unless they are acting based on their religion.

So von Braunn might have been atheist, as one person suggested, but he didn't go to the museum to kill because he was atheist, he went because he was racist.  Scott Roeder on the other hand, killed George Tiller because, in his religious beliefs, Tiller was a mass murderer who had to be stopped.

How can atheists be moral if they don't believe in the bible which teaches what is right and wrong?

Someone could write an entire book on this topic, but I'll just say that morality is something we have evolved as a trait to help us survive.  Tribes of humans who helped each other out were more likely to survive than those that didn't.  

You'll find that most atheists have a very strong sense of morality, but it isn't dictated to them by a holy book.  

I'd also argue that the 3 main holy books are loaded with immoral lessons.  Genocide, slaughtering women and children, beating slaves to a pulp, rape, sacrificing your own children etc.  Sure there are positive moral stories too, but these books are far from quality lessons on morality in today's society.

Why does it matter if people are religious or not?  Can't you just leave them alone?

At the most basic level it matters to me because the truth matters to me.  I want to have the most accurate view of the world possible, and that means trying to believe as many true things as possible, and trying to NOT believe as many false things as possible.  And if there isn't evidence for something, I don't think it should be believed.

On a DK level, religion stands in the way of a lot of progressive goals either directly or indirectly.

It directly impacts things like:
-abortion rights
-gay marriage
-stem cell research
-sex education
-AIDS funding in Africa
-science education in school
-middle east relations
-global warming and environmental efforts

But it indirectly impacts EVERYTHING we fight for on this site, because if religion were not allowed into the equation when elections came around, the country would be much farther to the left on issues that have nothing to do with religion (like health care or taxation).

Without religion, Bush would have never won election.  It wouldn't have been close.  How many GOP senators and congressmen have won election in part due to their strong religious positions?  How many "Republicans" do you know who are only Republicans because of their religious beliefs and vote a straight republican ticket because they think its the right thing to do from a religious perspective, even if they know (or don't know) that they are voting against their own self interest?

People will vote for a guy who promises to fight to allow prayer in school, but when elected what he is really doing is voting to kill health care reform, voting in favor of tax breaks for the rich, voting against CAFE standards... none of this has anything to do with religion, but it is religion that put him there.

Also, if you look around the world at countries that have a high level of atheism (where religion is not oppressed by an authoritarian government) you will find they are some of the most progressive, successful, and "happy" places to live.  So I think you could make the case that if the US were to move more in that direction in terms of religion, it would result in good things for the country as a whole.

In summary:
-Atheism is a lack of a specific belief, not a belief system.
-Atheists don't KNOW that there isn't a god.
-Atheists don't need faith to be atheists.
-Atheist murderers don't kill in the name of atheism.

Originally posted to snkscore on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 07:59 AM PDT.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (520+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RepackRider, gong, chase, Randy, Lupin, JekyllnHyde, ljb, Alfred E Newman, xlation, raboof, ryeland, Asak, comrade, DavidSewell, murphy, dabize, copymark, GOTV, XOVER, AaronInSanDiego, Detlef, Alan in Phoenix, Raybin, Pandora, peglyn, mem from somerville, mycr0ft, Shockwave, Arnie, LynChi, scorponic, Old Timer, ETinKC, LuvSet, Byron from Denver, ChurchofBruce, strandedlad, islanddave, mslat27, xynz, freelunch, spud, WI Deadhead, Mumon, frisco, ZAPatty, lesliet, Matilda, object16, musicsleuth, bumblebums, nightsweat, marge, Jerome a Paris, Christopher Day, Heart of the Rockies, DemInGeorgia, chaboard, Hatu, BlackGriffen, Shadan7, juniper, prius04, MD patriot, Ian S, pdrap, CoolOnion, KMc, M a l c o l m, otto, lorikay4, taonow, jeijei, josephk, Random Excess, kitebro, soudesuyone, bustacap, admiralh, sidnora, Boris Godunov, RayKCMO, ends with space, mswaine, wader, Quege, Embee, tcorse, dejavu, psnyder, Dallasdoc, Urizen, pat bunny, sympa, gmb, Bailey Savings and Loan, exiledfromTN, Guinho, peterborocanuck, ohiolibrarian, Steveningen, The Walrus, porsupah, Democratic Hawk, dkmich, frostieb, pdxRita, Needa Bigger Pretzel, Nelsons, Marcus L Salyer, activated, Aug6PDB, sweettp2063, valadon, Sceadugenga, greeseyparrot, Big Tex, nehark, vcmvo2, A Citizen, Desert Rose, historys mysteries, sandblaster, radarlady, rstnfld, greycat, blueyedace2, gerard w, David R, SherwoodB, Tonedevil, Philoguy, keepwe, Dianora, Clem Yeobright, 1Nic Ven, Brooke In Seattle, chidmf, devadatta, FutureNow, boofdah, eru, Chaoslillith, jon the antizionist jew, flo58, pasadena beggar, EvilPaula, lcbo, jpk, SheriffBart, rb608, AnotherMassachusettsLiberal, HiBob, The Raven, Shotput8, Ginny in CO, zinger99, Pluto, playtonjr, Arsenic, Trakker, terjeanderson, ThatBritGuy, simplicio, Asinus Asinum Fricat, begone, mariva, third Party please, sideboth, Dolphin99, gwilson, kumaneko, CParis, Orinoco, The Sinistral, ainwa, Morlock, DrSpalding, Sam Berdoux, tung sol, Opakapaka, quotemstr, garykephart, Arclite, Arabiflora, InsultComicDog, AoT, Catesby, dougymi, droopyd, Triscula, NNadir, FunkyMonkey, balancedscales, VictorLaszlo, Grrrowler, mcartri, Son of a Cat, fou, kck, tecampbell, cats in the curry, NCJan, stunspot, DSPS owl, Iranaqamuk, Derfel, FireCrow, NearlyNormal, plf515, armadillo, dilireus, Demena, bunk, AndyS In Colorado, myrealname, Dinclusin, dirkster42, JugOPunch, CA Nana, Clive all hat no horse Rodeo, WarrenS, Spongebob76, mr science, Cartoon Messiah, Pandoras Box, Sapere aude, dov12348, lightfoot, Cali Techie, jessical, SomeStones, Old Gardener, Loudoun County Dem, randorider, oscarsmom, leema, jetskreemr, bfbenn, gtghawaii, rgjdmls, Kodiak54, Hafez of Shiraz, wildweasels, gustynpip, flumptytail, Jimdotz, DWG, aliasalias, Window, Swill to Power, dconrad, NoMoJoe, jayden, GMFORD, yulooloo, st minutia, letsgetreal, dryfoo, Moderation, rogereaton, Rumarhazzit, idahojim, fallina7, electric meatball, KJC MD, LWelsch, i like bbq, Desa, rf7777, keikekaze, cacamp, Jahiz, Chicagoa, craiger, on the cusp, Me Again, my homeo, Flit, Michael91, mconvente, Scioto, Argyrios, HobbyWizard, ChocolateChris, greenalley, mn humanist, zerone, Ponder Stibbons, indyada, steverino247, megaera, BenMac84, NuclearJo, Akonitum, robroser, senilebiker, Haplogroup V, MrJayTee, TH Seed, Snarky McAngus, rubine, envwq, mofembot, noddem, Chimpolitic, Kathy S, kyril, makettle, rich1107, James Kresnik, BYw, never24, billybam, sydneyluv, revelwoodie, rhutcheson, vintagejulie, statsone, Wordsinthewind, fayea, maxcat06, LaFeminista, satanicpanic, nojonojo, IvoryWine, Rei, SgtRocky1, MsMadrigal, gooners, Turn Left, Rhysling, artmartin, Florene, J Ash Bowie, cybrestrike, Sportin Life, WSComn, RNinOR, Mech0T1, StuckInGA, tnacn4pz, radmul, rockwilder, imisa, WereBear, Boudicia Dark, thomasjefferson33, ryan81, i know, h bridges, rini6, Carakav, babajimbob, Mercuriousss, beijingbetty, zbbrox, VT ConQuest, anim8sit, Angry Mouse, glitterlust, sricki, degreesofgray, MrBold, IreGyre, dalfireplug, XNeeOhCon, Thutmose V, Adzam13, MichiganChet, pruple, vadasz, romwriter, Malumaureus, A Voice, nicweb, shiner36, Dichro Gal, beeninthewoods, Leftcandid, lh114, ruscle, Amber6541, Lazar, BigVegan, Its the Supreme Court Stupid, js62, mamamorgaine, Alec82, possodent, NMDad, drache, David PA, JamesEB, ArtSchmart, McWaffle, Vacationland, LaughingPlanet, Yumn, weebo, cindiloohoo, green minute, teachme2night, Hoosier Al, Big Danny, CS in AZ, chrome327, filibusted, Capostrophe, revwkm, Ronald Singleterry, jqjacobs, Lost and Found, atxcats, Anak, Eddie L, MelKnee, Arenosa, k8dd8d, IndependentVet4Obama, Blue Michael in a Red State, I Lurked For Years, sullivanst, SoCalHobbit, Benintn, ebbv, juturna, tellinya, ulookarmless, dant, Faire Elinor, ThirtyFiveUp, debbieleft, wewhodream, damned if you do, mytrinkets, Quote Me, jms263, vodkis, andycon, JanG, burndtdan, cpm78, Rockpopple, ribofunk, JMA, ocliberal, caypee, Wltdnfaded, dmet, whoisjohngalt, kerflooey, sethyeah, Front Toward Enemy, SuperBowlXX, annominous, DParker, Plox, sndcj1, Im a frayed knot, StateofEuphoria, Montreal Progressive, JFactor, sfcouple, implicate order, deathrattle, cjinca, Cintimcmomma, Amayi, m00finsan, AtomikNY, nefrocatracho, Mistral Wind, thaddeus74, beaky, stonedoubt, Arizona Mike, Coilette, Nicci August, Civil Writes Activist, smallgal, DawnoftheRedSun, mydailydrunk, Ms Bluezone, PedalingPete, godlessheathen, MissMimi, webspinner, va soccer mom, burana, Cinnamon Rollover, Element 61, gater2112, I said GOOD DAY sir, dle2GA, Slow Dawn, elusive muse, JJ Bogans, impygirl, elite user, enhydra lutris, gnbhull, Canuck in Ohio, Edgewater, corvaire, Daulphin, VTCC73, Strange New World, Archie2227, Spudnic, skeptiq, whitewash, Rip Van Mongo, blackjackal, johnva, CallieDog71, BioHazzard, Ezekial 23 20, iris blue, Aurelia
    •  A thousand recs. (110+ / 0-)

      I've been waiting for DKos to have this conversation, and as an atheist I eagerly await dialogue with theist Kossacks. Hopefully we can arrive at some greater understanding of each other and I will no longer see such ill-informed slurs against atheists.

      We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

      by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:29:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You've been waiting? Seriously? (28+ / 0-)

        You must only come around these parts infrequently, because judging by your UID, we've had this conversation about twenty five times since you joined.  I mean, we've re-sawed this sawdust so many times it's pretty fine dust by now.

        Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow

        by peterborocanuck on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:48:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

          •  And it was the best job I've seen so far. (46+ / 0-)

            Even better than my attempt.

            "The first reaction of a progressive should be not to look at who is the target of hate, but to reject the hate first." -RandomActsOfReason

            by XNeeOhCon on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:54:45 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

              •  What we believe is a bias against the alternative (10+ / 0-)

                To have faith in something makes impossible the testable hypothesis and thus precludes all scientific analysis.

                Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

                by rktect on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:00:56 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Correction to second diary link (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                sricki, m00finsan

                "We make our world significant by the courage of our questions and by the depth of our answers." Carl Sagan

                by John3 on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:09:43 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Sorry, diarist... (6+ / 0-)

                  We don't KNOW that god doesn't exist.

                  This is the basis of being "Agnostic" -- not Atheist.

                  And I am a proud agnostic.

                  The reason I am not an "Atheist" is because "I don't know" if God exists.  If there is one, I can surely believe that it is outside of my realm of comprehension.

                  It peeves me when Atheists confuse themselves with being "Agnostic".

                  There IS a difference.

                  THANK YOU FOR NOT IMPEACHING PROSECUTING THE TERRORIST ENABLERS. I look forward to the next generation of American war criminals!

                  by STOP George on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:08:31 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Did you read the whole diary, or just that (13+ / 0-)

                    one line?  

                    The reason I tend to see for most people not getting the non-mutual exclusivity of atheism and agnosticism is that those who don't see it are coming from a theistic frame.  That is, even those who don't think a god exists can still take a non-skeptical view of the possibility and/or recognize the human need for some order to the universe.  Those comfortable with the concept of God come by this comfort many different ways, but most see atheism as those who are so arrogant to think they know god doesn't exist.  A stance, if it were true (it's only really true for a very small minority of atheists) would make the atheist no less reliant on faith then the most devout religious people.  This dichotomy of perspective is the gap we must bridge if ever we are to show the theist framed people our true perspective.  How to do that?  I don't know.  Does that make me an agnostic?

                    "The first reaction of a progressive should be not to look at who is the target of hate, but to reject the hate first." -RandomActsOfReason

                    by XNeeOhCon on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:13:39 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  That one line is what's wrong. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      STOP George, bvig

                      The rest of the diary can argue that it isn't wrong - it still is wrong.

                      Being sure that there is no supernatural agency in the universe = Atheism.

                      Not being sure if there is or is not a supernatural agency = Agnosticism.

                      Being sure that there is an intentional supernatural agency = Theism.

                      Period.

                      "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

                      by jbeach on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:53:00 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Atheism, by definition, (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Pozzo, Tonedevil, bvig

                      is the position that no god exists.  Period.  There are no "degrees" of atheism as you put it and I take issue with that.

                      Again, if you take the position that "you don't know" whether a god exists, simply because of the notion that even the awareness of a god is beyond our perceptions -- then you take the stance of an agnostic.

                      Atheism is, indeed, an arrogance in my opinion.  It is an arrogance that I am more comfortable with than one who is a theist.  But it is a form of arrogance, nonetheless.  Be truthful.

                      THANK YOU FOR NOT IMPEACHING PROSECUTING THE TERRORIST ENABLERS. I look forward to the next generation of American war criminals!

                      by STOP George on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 12:06:29 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Well. (12+ / 0-)

                        In modern philosophy god beliefs are analyzed from two directions.

                        Theism
                          :  the belief in a deity.
                        A-theism :  the absence of belief in a deity.

                        Gnosticism
                          :  the knowledge of deities.
                        A-gnosticism :  the absence of knowledge of deities.

                        I am an agnostic atheist, and the terms are not mutually exclusive.

                        We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                        by Chicagoa on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 12:12:49 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I disagree (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          bvig

                          "Agnosticism" relies on the notion that a deity cannot be proved or disproved through reason.  

                          "Atheism" relies on the notion that a deity can be disproved through reason.

                          So, yes -- they ARE mutually exclusive.

                          THANK YOU FOR NOT IMPEACHING PROSECUTING THE TERRORIST ENABLERS. I look forward to the next generation of American war criminals!

                          by STOP George on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 12:34:43 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Once again you are wrong (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KMc, Chicagoa, BYw

                            Not a theist then you are an atheist.

                            Simple as that.

                          •  You're arguing over definitions... (0+ / 0-)

                            Different sources will give different definitions of terms such as "atheism," "agnosticism," etc. They don't mean the same things to everyone. So whether a given individual is an atheist, an agnostic, both, or neither, may depend on which definitions he or she prefers.

                          •  I don't care what different sources say (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BYw

                            most the dictionaries were written from a theistic frame.

                            It's really simple. Theism is the additional property, Atheism just denotes those who aren't theists. If theists were minority we wouldn't even need the word atheist.

                            Essentually many people try to over expand the term in order to confuse the issue and discredit one side of the argument.

                            There are only two position wrt the existence of deities just as there are only two positions wrt to the existence of the tooth fairy. You either believe or you don't you're a theist our you are an atheist.

                            It really is that simple.

                          •  "should be defined" =/= "IS defined" (0+ / 0-)

                            It doesn't matter, in real terms, if the dictionaries were written from a Britney-Spears worshipping framework. Dictionaries set down the agreed-upon common usages of the culture.

                            And the common consensus definition of "Atheist" is "one who believes there is no God". No matter whether we think it "should be" different. Just as the common definition of "door", "Democrat", or "colon" mean specific things, no matter what else we may prefer them to mean.

                            All words have slightly different meaning to each of us - but for us to communicate usefully, there is a common consensus definition that we work from.

                            "Think. It ain't illegal yet." - George Clinton

                            by jbeach on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 04:39:45 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  We have different definitions of (0+ / 0-)

                            what an atheist is.

                            In a strict philosophical sense -- an atheist does more than just "not believe".  They ARGUE that a god does not exist.

                            THANK YOU FOR NOT IMPEACHING PROSECUTING THE TERRORIST ENABLERS. I look forward to the next generation of American war criminals!

                            by STOP George on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:02:53 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It's basic english (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BYw

                            The use of the A pre-fix simply denotes the lack of the property that follows it. Any other definition is needlessly complicated and is unneeded.

                            If you wish to further clarify the position you use modifiers as in 'weak' vs 'strong' atheism.

                            And no in general atheists do not argue that god does not exist they merely point out that god that is being proposed by the theist does not exist.

                            See with out the presentation of the god concept from the theist to begin with their is no argument.

                            It basically comes down to this. The theist says "God exists" the atheist says "prove it" Theist says "god exists because of some such nonsense" the atheists ponits out that that is nonsense. Theist attacks atheist atheist points out to theist that they are a twit. Theist then tells atheist that they hate god atheist throws hands up in the air and goes out for a drink.

                            And that's where it would end save that the theist then tries to pass the laws enforcing all the nonsense that that they've built up around their belief in this imaginary construct that they generally can't even define. Which quite frankly pisses us off. Especially when they do things like say we can't go buy booze on Sunday because their imaginary construct decided to take a day off sometime in prehistory.

                          •  No. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            jbeach

                            It basically comes down to this. The theist says "God exists" the atheist says "prove it"

                            NO.

                            The atheist says, "God does NOT exist." and, if a good philosopher -- explains why.

                            THANK YOU FOR NOT IMPEACHING PROSECUTING THE TERRORIST ENABLERS. I look forward to the next generation of American war criminals!

                            by STOP George on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 07:47:19 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, you are still wrong (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KMc, jbeach

                            and wrong headed I might add.

                            let me break it down for you one more time.

                            The use of the "A" prefix denotes a lack of the property that follows it. As in Amoral asymmetrical, asexual, apolitical.

                            So atheism is simply a lack of theism. Attempts to define it as anything more are intellectually dishonest One would not for example claim that describing an object that lack symmetry as asymmetrical would be inaccurate so why do so with the simple descriptor of atheism.

                            There is no need to further define the term beyond simply one who lacks theism.

                            Why is it so important to you to define the term more narrowly?

                          •  You may choose to (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KMc

                            disagree with dictionary definitions.

                            If you choose to have your own personal definitions, that's your choice, but your definition can be applied only to you, not the larger population.

                            theist: belief in the existence of a god or gods.

                            atheist: a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

                            gnostic: possessing knowledge, esp. esoteric knowledge of spiritual matters.

                            agnostic: a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.

                            Get your DemocracyFest tickets, today! http://www.democracyfest.net

                            by mataliandy on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:59:47 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Look... (6+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mataliandy, KMc, Chicagoa, BYw, MikeNH, Theston

                            If you're not an atheist, stop trying to tell us who is and isn't.  It's arrogant and condescending.

                            "Atheism" is "a-theism" -- that is, without theism. I don't have a religion, I don't believe there's a god. That makes me an atheist. "Proof" is for mathematicians and whiskey.

                        •  it's a semantic difference (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          KMc

                          what you see as a-theism, many people of faith perceive as athe-ism.  what you see as "non-godism" we see as "nongod-ism".  surely, you can admit that atheists exist who are not agnostic, who claim to know that God does not exist, and who are actually just as strident and faith-based and annoying as jerry falwell.

                          if you define yourself as agnostic, then whether or not you further define yourself as atheist is, frankly, irrelevant to me.  you've already admitted that you don't know, that you're open-minded to the possibility of the existence of God.  whether or not you think God exists doesn't matter in the larger sense, because you've already admitted that you could be wrong.

                          semantically, why should it matter what you think when you've already admitted you don't know?

                          WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                          by the disinfector on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:50:07 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I think it's hinges on (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KMc, Chicagoa, MikeNH

                            the evidentiary standard:

                            An atheist, based on the total lack of evidence, anticipates such a low probability of existence, that the probability may as well be zero (thus they have complete lack of belief). An atheist will not change their level of acceptance until the entity makes itself apparent via human-testable, repeatable mechanisms.

                            A non-atheistic agnostic believes that the probability is enough greater than zero as to be likely, and thus doesn't dismiss the concept out of hand. A non-atheistic agnostic (there are plenty of people who believe there' some kind of metaphysical spiritual entity, but do not believe in any of the extant religion's deities) may change their level of acceptance if someone comes up with a hypothesis that meets some implicit or explicit criteria. No testability or repeatability is necessary.

                            Get your DemocracyFest tickets, today! http://www.democracyfest.net

                            by mataliandy on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:14:15 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  i think it's more fundamental (0+ / 0-)

                            testability and repeatability only apply to observable phenomena in the natural world.

                            the supernatural world is utterly divorced from logic, reason, and science.  any attempt to use tools of the natural world to deal with the supernatural world will... i want to say fail, but fail is the wrong word because even failing is returning a zero.  applying reason and logic to the supernatural will only return an empty set.  N/A.  divide by zero error.  those are the best analogies i can make.

                            the existence and inexistence of anything supernatural are equally unprovable, and equally faith-based.  if you want to believe that God does not exist, that's fine with me, but it's still a belief.  not only is it equally unsupported, it's equally unsupportable.  it's supernatural.  it doesn't make sense.

                            (also, lack of belief and disbelief are two different things)

                            WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                            by the disinfector on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:24:50 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Which is why (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BYw

                            An atheist has a much higher level of certainty that there is no god, than an agnostic who is not an atheist.

                            The likelihood of a deity's existence being testable is virtually zero, thus the probability of acceptable proof of a deity's existence is also virtually zero.

                            Perhaps it's easier to just say that an atheist believes only in provable phenomena of the natural world.

                            Get your DemocracyFest tickets, today! http://www.democracyfest.net

                            by mataliandy on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:39:27 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  sadly, i disagree (0+ / 0-)

                            Perhaps it's easier to just say that an atheist believes only in provable phenomena of the natural world.

                            but to say "believes only" implies disbelief in any supernatural world or phenomena.  such disbelief, in the absence of proof or even provability, can only be seen as a statement of faith.

                            WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                            by the disinfector on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:50:38 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I am an a-pink-unicornist. (0+ / 0-)

                            Does this mean I have faith in the non-existence of pink unicorns? No, it means that no unicorn has ever presented itself to humans in a form that enables us to verify its existence.

                            If a pink unicorn was suddenly born somewhere, and could be verified not to have been faked by clever use of hair dye and super-glue, or human genetic engineering, I'd believe in one. I simply have certainty that it has never been demonstrated. I also have certainty that it's so improbable that it won't be demonstrated.

                            That's entirely different from having faith that it could never be demonstrated.

                            I'm simply not going to bother believing in it until its existence is demonstrated.

                            Get your DemocracyFest tickets, today! http://www.democracyfest.net

                            by mataliandy on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 03:16:41 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  still the fundamental disconnect (0+ / 0-)

                            mythical and supernatural are not the same thing.

                            i agree with you regarding pink unicorns because they have never been posited to be supernatural beings.

                            now, if billions of people had claimed to have had personal contact with a pink unicorn, and further claimed that this pink unicorn created the universe, then your eminently logical reasoning would no longer suffice to deal with it.

                            i doubt we'll ever see eye to eye on this, but i do appreciate the honest and polite discussion.

                            WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                            by the disinfector on Tue Jun 16, 2009 at 06:15:05 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  Gravity and no-God (5+ / 0-)

                        Gravity is a theory that I believe in.  There is a very small chance that gravity will cease to be, but for now it defines many aspects of my life, such as whether I will leave my eighth floor apartment via the window or the elevator.  The fact that the theory of gravity might be wrong and we might all start floating does not make me agnostic to gravity.

                        No-god is another theory I believe in.  Again, there is a very small chance that it will be proven untrue, but so far, there is no evidence supporting the existence of a God, despite the actions of millions throughout history to prove otherwise.  Stories about God(S) are simply stories made up by people hundreds of years ago who didn't understand how their world worked.  The fact that each different culture arrived at very different theological stories is very strong evidence of their pure invention.  

                        On the front lines of the energy crisis.
                        Peak Oil Hawaii

                        by Arclite on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 06:09:06 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                    •  May I add... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      bvig

                      Your "unicorn" and "leprechaun" analogy is not a good one.

                      A "god" involves an "a priori" concept which involves the ideas of"omnipotence" and "omniscience".  When we get down to it, a "god" is defined in "a priori" terms.  A triangle has the same "a priori" definition.

                      A "unicorn" or a "leprechan" is not defined in a priori terms.  

                      Believing in unicorns is believing in your own fantasy created by the imagination of others.  The concept of god is not such a frivolous idea.  

                      THANK YOU FOR NOT IMPEACHING PROSECUTING THE TERRORIST ENABLERS. I look forward to the next generation of American war criminals!

                      by STOP George on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 12:23:22 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Yes it is. (12+ / 0-)

                        "Believing in unicorns is believing in your own fantasy created by the imagination of others."

                        What a load of crap. We all know, from common knowledge, what a unicorn is and what a leprechaun is -- they aren't born of our own fantasies. Nobody has fantasies of what these creatures are. Every one of us knows they are horseshit.

                        Triangles exist. Unicorns don't.

                        Believing in nonsense is believing in nonsense.

                        •  Hey, ya know... (4+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Arclite, Cartoon Messiah, BYw, XNeeOhCon

                          I think I'm an atheist...

                          I don't believe gods, fairy creatures, astrology, talismans, etc.  

                          I do believe in science... Some of which I take on faith as I'm unable to follow the proofs. So... I have faith in science.

                          The interesting bit about religion is the bible was written like 2,000 years ago when people were REALLY stupid. How stupid? Well, more stupid than we were 200 years ago when we were burning witches... That's  gotta be too stupid to take their word for anything, unless you're like 2,000 years ago stupid... then it's smart, hip, and trendy.

                          Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

                          by SoCalHobbit on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 03:31:57 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  The bible was written 2000 years ago? (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Pozzo, i like bbq

                            Most of the New Testament was written pretty close to 2000 years ago, but the New Testament is not "the bible."

                            Also, people were not necessarily more stupid 2000 years ago.  I'd bet the farm that Aristotle (about 2500 years ago) was way smarter than you, and I'm basing that on having read his stuff and having read your comment.

                            When did Fox News become a parody of The Colbert Report?

                            by Endangered Alaskan Dem on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 04:58:15 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That's it? (0+ / 0-)

                            Quibble over "like 2,000" and come up with one guy with a brain?

                            People back then were superstitious in part because of their lack of understanding of the nature of their environment. So much was a mystery then, which isn't today. Compare Aristotle to Einstein. Aristotle's ignorant, and yet wise in his day...  

                            If people believed in witches two centuries ago, what kind of stupid crap did they believe two millenia ago?

                            Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

                            by SoCalHobbit on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 07:52:51 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  People weren't "stupid" 2,000 years ago. (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            mataliandy, Pozzo, BYw, SoCalHobbit

                            They were ignorant. As ignorant as any of us would be if there weren't widespread literacy, public education that is (theoretically) free of religious influence, and various forms of media.

                            In fact, quite a few people today are pretty ignorant and stupid, and they have the benefits of all or most of those things. What does that say about them, in comparison to someone who lived two millennia ago?

                            And, finally, as was already said, "the Bible" != "the New Testament." The Hebrew bible, a/k/a the "Old Testament," is considerably older than that.

                          •  Ignorant not stupid (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BYw

                            Granted.

                            And it wasn't just lack of education etc. We've made great strides in science with which we now understand our environment. We have lots of common knowledge today that just didn't exist in the first millennium BC.

                            I'm sure even today's HS dropouts know lots of things that we take for granted as common that would shock and amaze the world of the first millennium BC, if they were even able to accept it;  The nature of earthquakes, weather, illness, etc.

                            Is the Old Testament much older? The farther back you go, the more ignorant and superstitious the people would have been at the time. Like I said, we were burning witches 200 years ago... How ignorant/crazy were they 2,000 plus years ago?  

                            Free University and Health Care for all, now. -8.88, -7.13

                            by SoCalHobbit on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:52:58 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  my point (0+ / 0-)

                          seemed to completely fly over your head.

                          Oh well.

                          THANK YOU FOR NOT IMPEACHING PROSECUTING THE TERRORIST ENABLERS. I look forward to the next generation of American war criminals!

                          by STOP George on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 07:43:55 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                      •  Historically incorrect. (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        KMc, i like bbq, BYw

                        Virtually no "gods" of history were considered to be either omnipotent or omniscient. (The Bible implies neither for Yahweh until relatively late in the book, and the early stories are entirely inconsistent with those powers.)

                        Simply asserting "our idea of a god is more serious than e.g. the Norse god Thor, because we have applied to Yahweh the concepts of omnipotence and omniscience" does not a serious argument make. The Flying Spaghetti Monster is omnipotent and omniscient. Does that make it non-frivolous?

                    •  For me (0+ / 0-)

                      it is more that it doesn't matter.  The existence or non existence of god should not alter your behaviour one iota.  So it is irrelevant.

                      Best Wishes, Demena Left/Right: -8.38; Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.36

                      by Demena on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 05:01:52 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  By this definition, 99% of theists are agnostic (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    i like bbq

                    Since at one time or other almost all people believing in God(s) have doubts about His (Her, Their) existence.

                    On the front lines of the energy crisis.
                    Peak Oil Hawaii

                    by Arclite on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 05:54:30 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  not really (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      the disinfector

                      It's the difference on what position you take.  Theists say we "believe" there is a God - can't prove it but believe it to be so

                      Atheists say we "believe" that there isn't a God - can't prove it but that's what we believe

                      Agnostics say we don't know and can't know so we don't care to take a position

                      Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                      by bvig on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 06:06:20 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Do you believe the sun will rise tomorrow? (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        KMc, i like bbq

                        Despite the fact that there is a slight chance that it won't?  Does that make you agnostic on sunrises?

                        Of course it doesn't.  The definition of an agnostic is, "someone who is doubtful or noncommittal about something."  Atheists are hardly noncommittal, despite the scientific claim that that's what they believe based on the (lack of) evidence despite there being a small chance they are wrong or that new evidence will appear overturning their belief.

                        Agnosticism is 50/50, not 99/1.

                        On the front lines of the energy crisis.
                        Peak Oil Hawaii

                        by Arclite on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 06:18:40 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  I'm not sure what your position is (0+ / 0-)

                          I think we're mainly in agreement though.  

                          I don't see where we disagree . . .

                          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                          by bvig on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 07:35:05 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Sorry, that's not right (0+ / 0-)

                          Please check your definitions before spouting them.

                          Agnostic describes someone who doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study. This is a much more specific statement than your definition.

                          Agnosticism is the belief that the question of the existence of god(s) is unknowable, meaning that existence of god(s) is impossible to either prove or disprove.

                          I can be both an agnostic and an atheist ("I don't believe in God, but I can never prove that God doesn't exist.") I can also be both an agnostic and a theist ("I believe in God, but I can never prove that God exists.")

                          Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

                          by admiralh on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:56:17 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  what you don't understand (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            bvig

                            and many others also don't, is that the laws of science, reason, logic, and proof are good only for dealing with natural phenomena.

                            God is a supernatural phenomena.  existing outside the natural universe completely.

                            yes, for some this is a maddening concept.  if you don't believe in a supernatural world, fine.  don't believe it.

                            but to even try to put "prove" and "God" in the same sentence is just trying to hammer a square peg in a round hole.  God's existence and inexistence are equally unprovable, and belief in either one is just that - belief.

                            as a Christian, i would never claim that my faith is provable.  i would ask the same of atheists.

                            WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                            by the disinfector on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:15:09 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I just provided definitions (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KMc, BYw

                            You're the one who got all hung up over the word "prove."

                            Sorry, but there are plenty of Christians who have tried to prove the existence of God. (See this article from philosopher.org.uk for examples.)

                            OK, you would never make the claim that your faith is provable. However, others have, which was my point of highlighting these definitions.

                            Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

                            by admiralh on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:27:25 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  sure (0+ / 0-)

                            there have been both Christians and atheists who claimed that their supernatural belief system was, in fact, natural, testable, and satisfactorily proven.

                            shall we both agree that neither of us make such claims?

                            WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                            by the disinfector on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:34:56 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Um, (0+ / 0-)

                            I. Never. Made. That. Claim.

                            I was just providing definitions. Sheesh.

                            Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

                            by admiralh on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:40:46 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  my mistake [nt] (0+ / 0-)

                            WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                            by the disinfector on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:41:50 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  No the atheists says (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        BYw

                        we don't believe in any god concept that has to date been presented to us.

                        That's it we're atheistic towards Yaweh in the same way the Christian is atheistis towards Zues or Thor.

                        There is no action involved in not believing. It's not like we have to say "I disbeleive in you Yaweh" if no for all the crazies around us who do believe in invisible sky daddy's we wouldn't ever even discuss it.

                        Agnosticisim is a very specific position regarding the existence of deities. If one wants to get downright technical as how the terms originator intended it it means that one holds the position that knowledge of the existence of deities is imposible.

                        Most atheists do not hold the position that we "know" no gods exist we simply lack belief in any of them. We may be wrong we just don't think it's very likely.

                        •  I agree with most of what you say (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          STOP George

                          I think our definitions of agnostistic is fairly similar.  

                          I disagree however, that there is no action in not believing.  Once an idea has been presented before you there is always action.  Accepting it (at least for the most part), rejecting it (at least for the most part), or deciding this question is way to big for you to make any judgement on.  Those are all decisions.  So unless you have someone who has never heard or been exposed to religion then atheism is very much an action.  

                          Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                          by bvig on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 07:38:49 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You are somewhat correct (0+ / 0-)

                            in that once a god concept has been presented that there is some mental action in discounting it. However it is a very minor amount of effort far less than I think most of the religious think.

                            But it's also irrelevant. If someone by some imaginary circumstances were to grow up in a way that they were never presented with the concept of god(s) they would still be atheists from our frame of reference.

                            As I've said before the only reason we even have the word is because theist are the majority. If they weren't then we would just assume anyone who didn't define themselves as theists weren't theists.

                            After all we don't define Jews as Achristians.

                        •  well, let me take this oppotunity (0+ / 0-)

                          as a Christian, i am indeed atheistic toward Zeus and Thor.  i believe that they do not exist.  i believe that there is zero possibility that i am wrong about this.

                          also, i can never prove this.  this isn't me knowing that they don't exist, it's me believing they don't exist.  i will never be able to prove their existence or nonexistence.  still, this isn't agnosticism, because i am unwilling to admit my possibility of error.

                          i am atheist toward Zeus and Thor.  and this is a statement of faith, not of fact, as all supernatural belief and disbelief must equally be.

                          WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                          by the disinfector on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:30:28 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  But you just admited (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BYw

                            it posible that you are in error thereby invalidating your own point.

                            Still I feel pretty much the same way about your Christian god as you do about Zues and Thor which is why I'm perfectly content to say I'm an atheist.

                    •  not permanently (0+ / 0-)

                      as somebody who is now a Christian, i spent much of my life as an agnostic.  what i believe now doesn't change what i thought then.

                      yes, all people of faith have moments of doubt.  if you want to call them "agnostic moments" that's fine.

                      WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                      by the disinfector on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:56:36 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  You are incorrect (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    KMc, XNeeOhCon

                    The "A" prefix at the begining of a word denotes the lack of the following property as in Amoral (lacking morals

                    So atheism is quite litterally a lack of theism. So if one is not a theist (as in holding an active belief in the existence of a specific god concept) then one is by default an atheist.

                    Agnosticism is a different question entirely. Agnosticism deals with knowledge specifically regarding the existence of deities it is the position that it is not possible to know whether or not something defined as a god exists. It says nothing about ones belief in the existence/non-existence of said deities only one possition about the posibility of knowing about said existence.

                    If you do not hold an active affirmative believe in the existence of something that can be defined as a deity to the point where one can accurately be described as a theist then you are an atheist end of story end of debate.

                    It is a binary position you either believe or you do not there is no wishy washy middle ground on this question.

                    •  An true atheist (0+ / 0-)

                      ARGUES that there is NO god.

                      A true agnostic argues that it is impossible to know if there is a god.

                      There seems to be a difference with semantics in this thread.  You think that "Atheism simply is based on "non-belief".  I think it's more than that.  

                      THANK YOU FOR NOT IMPEACHING PROSECUTING THE TERRORIST ENABLERS. I look forward to the next generation of American war criminals!

                      by STOP George on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 07:58:40 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  In the alt.atheism model ... (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        KMc, BYw

                        there is a difference between a "strong" and "weak" atheist.

                        Strong atheist: "I know there is no God."

                        Weak atheist: "I believe there is no God."

                        Agnostic: "My belief is unimportant. It is impossible to know whether God exists or not."

                        I really cringe at something being described as "true" (true atheist, true Christian, etc.) since it reeks of the No True Scotsman fallacy.

                        Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

                        by admiralh on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:00:43 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  wow (0+ / 0-)

                          hopefully many other have already suggested that new words be invented to describe those categories.  if not, then let me be the first.

                          in my opinion, the difference between those who think God/nonGod is knowable and those who think it's just believable (the strong and weak atheist positions) is just as huge as the difference between theists and atheists of either stripe to begin with.

                          WARNING: THIS COMMENT MAY OR MAY NOT CONTAIN SARCASM.

                          by the disinfector on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:56:18 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  You are correct ... (0+ / 0-)

                            that the difference between "strong" and "weak" atheists is just as big as between atheists and theists. At least that was the consensus opinion on alt.atheism, back when I participated (pre-WWW days).

                            In that newsgroup (this was USENET, please go to Google Groups now), the majority of atheists posting were of the "weak" variety. However, as in most areas when you have extremists, the "strong" atheists were the ones that got the most press, for example, Madelyn Murray O'Hair

                            Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

                            by admiralh on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:45:21 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  What now we have to be (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        BYw

                        true non-believers?

                        What non-sense.

                        Atheism

                        Lacking theism.

                        End of story.

              •  I wrote my first atheist diary about a month ago (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Chicagoa, BYw, XNeeOhCon

                that got some pretty good press on DKos.  Check 'er out here:

                http://www.dailykos.com/...

                •  I really enjoyed that one. Maybe we should form (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  SuperBowlXX

                  an atheist diarists club.  Every one of these diaries is very well trafficed here, even if they don't make the rec list.  Maybe this way we can tackle very specific aspects of the argument one at a time in a series and some of those that are confused may eventually understand where we are coming from.

                  "The first reaction of a progressive should be not to look at who is the target of hate, but to reject the hate first." -RandomActsOfReason

                  by XNeeOhCon on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:35:51 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Thanks for linking to those... (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                ZAPatty, BYw

                ...classic diaries.

                Freedom isn't "on the march." Freedom dances.

                by WarrenS on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:10:19 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  why do people need to be understood? (4+ / 0-)
          •  No one wants to have a conversation with... (0+ / 0-)

            ...a bullshitter.  First you say you've been waiting for DKos to have this conversation and then the minute someone points out that this is hardly the first time this conversation has been discussed here, you back up to how it can't happen often enough and how you are still seeing such incredible misunderstanding. So you knew full well that this conversation has been had ad nauseum.

            Trying to have a conversation with you would be a waste of time. You are completely insincere, willing to say whatever merely for dramatic effect.

          •  I've only just opened this diary now (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BYw, teachme2night, Theston

            but, given the size of the comment thread, I imagine that there's quite a bit of "incredible misunderstanding" therein by theists who can't stand to be called on their own prejudices, or the demand that their own POV to be treated with kid gloves. "Respect," they call it. Uh-huh.

        •  Why? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gustynpip

          do you need to make this comment? Comments like this are why the "internets" and people on them frequently annoy me. Nitpicking nonsense...though my commenting on your annoying comment is annoying in itself...

          •  It was a fair comment (0+ / 0-)

            Given the number of times it has supposedly come up, it makes sense to point out that the poster is mistaken.

          •  Glad to make your acquaintance. nt (0+ / 0-)

            Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow

            by peterborocanuck on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:15:36 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Do you mind if I ask (0+ / 0-)

            what you found annoying about my comment?  Do you not agree that this type of discussion occurs with great, some might even say annoying regularity here?  More likely you don't  care for my tone, or something.  I'm actually curious about this.

            Where the brook puts out of the roots of the old tree and flows to the meadow

            by peterborocanuck on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:19:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Annoying (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Hatu, greeseyparrot, gustynpip

              there's a certain inane quality to your comment. It's hard to nail down the formula that makes it annoying...je ne sais quoi as the frenchies say. Seriously, fine, there have been diaries on this subject. Got it. BUT, does it warrant a somewhat snarky "Seriously?!" in reference to, get this, not the diarly per se but to a COMMENT about the diary. That warrants a "Seriously?!"? Seriously? It just seems like you're laying in to someone just because you can...and in an amateurish John Stewart sort of way...but again, I'm reading too much in to it just as you did in the first place so here we go again:)

      •  I believe the scripture is 100% allegory (22+ / 0-)

        ancient man passed on a verbal history, and part of the verbal historical culture was an understanding of the human spirit.
        I read the book "Who told you that you were naked"  which explains the whole thing, and that "God" is just a symbol for the spirit.  Spirituality is what makes a person have progressive beliefs.  Atheism aligns that person with the teachings of Jesus Christ (believe it or not), much more strongly that the fundamentalist churchgoer.

        •  The teachings of Jesus Christ are okay. (42+ / 0-)

          They were a little too Zen for my tastes, lacking in substance. I prefer Voltaire, or even Diderot for a really striking analysis of human morality.

          And on the scriptures, I find them to be 5% amusing fable, 95% vile tribal superstitious militaristic fear-laced poorly-written bunk.

          We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

          by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:12:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  agree partially... (58+ / 0-)

          I do think it's allegory.  This part, though, I disagree with:

          Spirituality is what makes a person have progressive beliefs.

          Ummm, no.  I have strong progressive values, but I'm not spiritual at all.  I think spirituality is silly.  And it's definitely not a requirement for seeking justice and equality among people.  For me it's sociological, and in no way spiritual.

          "Glenn Beck ends up looking like a fat, stupid child. His face should be wearing a chef's hat on the side of a box of eclairs. " - Doug Stanhope

          by Front Toward Enemy on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:22:42 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Great comment. (7+ / 0-)

            I agree completely.

            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:24:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You can call it what you want, but (4+ / 0-)

            Humans are spiritual people because they have empathy and they consider the plight of the other person.  That is why I get mad that the right wingers grab the "values" flag for themselves, whereas it is people like Obama that exude spirituality, but never proclaim it.  That is what is meant in the Bible that you are to pray in a closet, and then come out as if nothing happened.  You call it sociological, but if you study the meaning of the word spiritual you will discover that you are not informed.

            •  What does having empathy have to do (30+ / 0-)

              with spirituality?

              If you consider the plight of others and the impact that your actions have on others, then you are ethical.

              If you believe in spirits, then you are spiritual.

              How does believing in spirits affect one's empathy for other human beings?

              You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

              by Opakapaka on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:38:16 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You did not look up the meaning of the word (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Tempus Figits, MnplsLiberal

                spiritual.  You have created a strawman to try to win a losing argument.  I suggest you read and learn, that is the key to winning elections for our side, the Democratic Progressive side that Christ would have campaigned for.  People like you have been responsible for Democrats losing election after election.
                http://www.keeneonline.com/...

                •  So, let's look up the word "spiritual" (18+ / 0-)

                  in Merriam-Webster for object16's sake:

                  1. of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit
                  1. of or relating to supernatural beings or phenomena

                  Of or relating to the spirit. What's the definition of a spirit?

                  1. a supernatural being or essence

                  You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

                  by Opakapaka on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:45:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Oh perfect: (7+ / 0-)

                    You "cherry picked" the meaning you wanted, knowing full well that is not what I am talking about.  Now you are being dishonest as well.  Notice your dictionary has 5 meanings, and you only chose to publish 2 of them.
                    5.
                    a. The part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings: Though unable to join us today, they are with us in spirit.
                    b. The essential nature of a person or group.

                    1. A person as characterized by a stated quality: He is a proud spirit.

                    Read and learn, your intellect is lacking.

                    "The part of a human"
                    means it is part of all of us, unless you now tell me you are not human.

                    •  And by extension, (5+ / 0-)

                      referring to someone as "inhumane" connotes lacking that essense - the part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings.  I suggest you study this because even McCain got 47% of the vote, because us progressives get tarred and feathered as being not spiritual, when the opposite is true, whether you like it or not, and whether you admit it or not.
                      You are just playing with words, and show a closed mind, unwilling to learn.  that is what loses elections for our side.

                    •  Your favored definitions of the word "spirit" are (20+ / 0-)

                      5 a: the activating or essential principle influencing a person <acted in a spirit of helpfulness>

                      6 a: a special attitude or frame of mind <the money-making spirit was for a time driven back — J. A. Froude> b: the feeling, quality, or disposition characterizing something <undertaken in a spirit of fun>

                      These definitions are inapplicable to the term "spirituality." You can't say that someone who "acted in a spirit of helpfulness" is "spiritual," nor can you say that someone who has the "money-making spirit" is spiritual.

                      You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

                      by Opakapaka on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:02:16 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Now you are just trolling (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Tempus Figits, MnplsLiberal

                        Definition:
                        The part of a human associated with the mind, will, and feelings.
                        What can be more clear??? Can you not read either???
                        You insist on being unwilling to learn, you have some kind of ignorant axe to grind, that will guarantee election loss after election loss.  Fortunately some of us as not stuck in your rut and do not troll other progressives.

                        •  "Though unable to join us today, (14+ / 0-)

                          they are with us in spirit."

                          So if I say "he's in our thoughts," then that means that I'm spiritual? How does my thinking of someone make me spiritual, or imply a belief in the existence of non-physical spirits?

                          Spiritual at root implies "non-physical." To me, non-physical is equivalent to supernatural.

                          If you're not saying this, then I agree with you--one must be capable of thinking and feeling in order to be ethical and feel empathy.

                          You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

                          by Opakapaka on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:19:35 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Exactly right, we've hammered it out. (4+ / 0-)

                            Spirit is just that part of us that loves and forgives, because we can, and because we have a desire for kindness, and possibly because someone has also shown us that kindness.  In case no one has, Jesus wanted to set the example, die on the cross in our name - yeah that's pretty radical, but he was a radical kind of a guy.
                            Yet you cannot touch that part, you cannot show me on your body where is that thing that loves and forgives.
                            That is the part that the allegorical God (exists only as a concept, cannot be touched or photographed), breathed into the allegorical animal (the clay).  The stories have been rewritten and perverted for the use of the Church, in order to wage war and condemn man.  Which is why Jesus predicted that:
                            I will turn son against father, father against son, and brother against brother.  Because it was obvious that he was dealing with "fire", just like Prometheus, and very soon the monied interests would buy it and create a franchise out of it, and eventually create evil empires out of it.

                          •  The part that loves and forgives... (19+ / 0-)

                            ... is the brain. I could in theory touch it - neurosurgeons regularly do - but I choose not to because of the gooky stuff all over it.

                            Seriously though, fuzzy stuff and pleasant emotions like love don't need a special descriptor. they com from evolutionary psychology the way rape and greed do.

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:08:22 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Damn, I've been with you all through this thread (4+ / 0-)

                            but you had to go and mention evo-psych.

                          •  :) (0+ / 0-)

                            What's your objection?

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:18:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I'm not sure I want to argue it here (3+ / 0-)

                            Suffice it to say that I find the vast majority of publicized evo-psych research a (very) thinly-disguised cover for reactionary sexism of the worst sort. Much of the less-publicized stuff is less bad from a moral standpoint, but I still often find it to be very poor science.

                            (I'm not a psychologist, just a physics student, but as I understand it we're all supposed to abide by the same rules)

                          •  I wasn't referencing the field of... (8+ / 0-)

                            ... evo-psych.

                            Simply pointing to the evolutionary origins of the human psyche.

                            We love because we have evolved to love - as social creatures love and understanding allow us to create more cohesive and efficient groups, and give an advantage in natural selection.

                            That's all I meant.

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:29:49 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Alright :) (5+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            gmb, Chicagoa, BYw, RandomActsOfReason, cgirard

                            Then I'm still with you.

                          •  Awesome. (10+ / 0-)

                            It always baffles me that people will say things like:

                            "Love is mysterious, how do you explain that, huh?"

                            When there are perfectly good biological explanations for human emotion and behavior.

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:34:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  They used to say that about chess-playing. (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AaronInSanDiego, Chicagoa, kyril

                            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:10:09 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  But animals too (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            kyril
                          •  Kyril, if you and Chicagoa (0+ / 0-)

                            could start a diary/chat about evolutionary psychology, I think I would pay money to read it . . .

                          •  No you can't. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            Go to a monkey brain and touch it.  There is no spirit there, that is what makes us human.  A monkey brain and a human brain is identical down to 99% of the DNA.  You keep confusing two different things.

                          •  I can definitely touch monkey brains. (16+ / 0-)

                            People actually used to eat them!

                            And I take very serious issue with your statement. I suggest you read up on the Great Ape Project, because sentience is not limited to humans.

                            I'm not confusing two different things, you're just talking about something unrelated.

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:31:49 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Touch an automobile engine (11+ / 0-)

                            there is no "travel" there, either.

                            You are making statements of pure faith, not fact. There is no evidence to support your assertions which essentially posit a "soul" distinct from the physical body.

                            There is no more evidence of a soul than there is of a god. It is sheer belief.

                            You are entitled to that belief - but please label it honestly as a belief, do not pretend it is fact - and, most of all, do not insist that we all believe as you do, even when we state that we do not. Don't redefine terms in order to "prove" that we are all believers.

                            You need to spend some time contemplating the gap between the morality you no doubt revere, and the way you practice your communications with others.

                            Don't start a conversation with rationalists by claiming we are, in fact, spiritualists. That is offensive bullshit.

                            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:13:47 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You're running hot tonight. (4+ / 0-)

                            You're definitely rocking this thread with excellent posts.

                            I would advise toning the aggressive tone back to 75% but keep the excellent rational commentary coming.

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:18:28 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yet we all have brains and we are no all capable (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            of love and forgiveness, so your evidence is lacking.

                          •  LOL (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AaronInSanDiego, Cartoon Messiah, BYw

                            And yet when people have emotional issues the cause is: imbalances/abnormalities in the brain!

                            You seriously need to educate yourself on biology and neuroscience. Here's a good start.

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:42:47 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You still haven't proven that the brain is where (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            love and forgiveness comes, not at all. You have been insulting and arrogant but not proven your assertion. Emotional issues as you call them have nothing to do with what we are talking about, nice try. Wiki schmiki.

                          •  I don't have the time to educate you now. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cartoon Messiah, BYw

                            Try this.

                            Or this.

                            Or this.

                            And if you still don't accept Wikipedia as a valid source I suggest you also study that.

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 03:33:41 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You are talking about sexual attraction (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            not even remotely the same thing. Thats OK I still stand in awe of your towering intellect.

                          •  Did you actually read the articles I linked? (4+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KMc, misreal, BYw, Glacial Erratic

                            Some of the articles mentioned familial love, which is very different from sexual attraction.

                            There are hundreds of articles - written by teams of scientific professionals from around the world - that offer biological and evolutionary explanations for human behavior and emotion. This is something people have researched for a long time, and there is a great deal that has been learned.

                            What is it that you want?

                            Do you want all of that science to just go away?

                            Why do you refuse to educate yourself on these elementary scientific principles?

                            Why do you continue to vehemently insist that the broadly supported evolutionary explanations are invalid?

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:02:13 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Please DO NOT make assumptions (0+ / 0-)

                            there is more than familial love too. Not everything can be explained, at least not today. Example, the "gay gene" I have never ever doubted gay is from BEFORE birth there is no choice at all. It hasn't been proven but doesn't mean it isn't true. Somethings we may never be able to prove scientifically I'm just not bothered by it. You also assume I think that I link religion to love and forgiveness, I don't, religion has nothing to do with it. In fact I would say religious beliefs very often get in the way of us listening to our better selves.

                          •  Science doesn't prove things (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KMc, Chicagoa, Zulia

                            That's not what it does. Science disproves things and what ever is left is what is accepted as real.

                            That's why the term falsifiable is tossed about and why Intellegent design is not a scientific theory.

                            For a theory in science to be valid it must be posible to show that it's not true.

                            In general in the end it comes to probability and confidence levels. While we can not say with absolute certitude that all human emotion comes from the brain we can say with a high level of confidence that the preponderance of the evidence suggests exactly that. Further there is no competing theory that matches the known facts.

                            We know for instance with a high level of confinence (to the point that we proscribe drugs to treat them) that certain emotions have chemical triggers in the brain.

                            Just as we know that memory is a function of the physical structure of the brain. We know this because of studying those people who have experienced damage to their brains through accidents and strokes.

                            Further our understanding of these realities is accelerating now that we have magnetic imagining technology capable of viewing brain activity while people process information in real time.

                            We can see the physical manifestation of these emotions you try to ascribe to the supernatural in these MRI's.

                            That's reality that's science that's what we known with a high level of confidence and none of it even thinks about suggesting any sort of spirit or soul.

                          •  love and forgiveness (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            greeseyparrot, Cartoon Messiah, BYw

                            have nothing to do with emotional issues? I suspect most psychotherapists would disagree with you.

                            Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
                            A yam.
                            What a Yam!
                            And that's all that - A yam.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:47:30 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Teo different things, but thanks for playing (0+ / 0-)
                          •  What do you mean? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BYw

                            Two different things? Which two different things?

                            Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
                            A yam.
                            What a Yam!
                            And that's all that - A yam.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:18:56 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sexual attraction is not love and certainly (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            not the love I'm talking about.

                          •  I didn't say anything about (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KMc

                            sexual attraction, at least not in this diary.

                            Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
                            A yam.
                            What a Yam!
                            And that's all that - A yam.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:42:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Sorry, emotional problems have nothing (0+ / 0-)

                            to do with the love and forgiveness I am talking about.

                          •  Why not? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            KMc

                            How is the love and forgiveness you are talking about different?

                            Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
                            A yam.
                            What a Yam!
                            And that's all that - A yam.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 07:48:32 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Some of us are blind or deaf too (6+ / 0-)

                            that doesn't mean vision and hearing aren't processed in the brain.

                            Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
                            A yam.
                            What a Yam!
                            And that's all that - A yam.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:21:22 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Many recs. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            AaronInSanDiego, Cartoon Messiah

                            An excellent comment.

                            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:42:15 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  thanks (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Chicagoa

                            so was yours.

                            Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
                            A yam.
                            What a Yam!
                            And that's all that - A yam.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:52:40 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I think you just killed your own argument (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Cartoon Messiah, BYw, Skex

                            In the christian world, isn't the "essence of god" in all of us? Isn't this your point about spirituality?  The fact that we all have brains and are not all capable of love is a perfect example of how anatomy, physiology, endocrinology, and chemical imbalances affect the brain--or was god just imparting a special burden upon those people for them to overcome?

                          •  That's fine, (8+ / 0-)

                            call it what you want, spirituality, whatever,

                            but when the word is associated with flying airplanes into buildings in order to do Giant Spirit Man's bidding, I'd prefer another term.

                            I also prefer to say "that was very self-congratulatory" rather than "that was very masturbatory."

                            No reason really, I mean, perhaps you find "masturbation" a perfectly happy term to use among strangers in describing behavior. Just engaged in a little public masturbatory speech?

                            If people want to get hung up on the more awkward connotations of the word masturbation, that's their issue?

                            cuz I know what I mean when I say Masturbation.

                            openthevein.blogspot.com

                            by danceattakjg on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:17:20 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  your attitude will turn off all of the (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            right wingers that turn out 100% to vote Bush/Cheney, and they carry their churches in with them 100%.
                            Your post is insulting, and frankly jeuvenile.
                            When the right wing talk about "values" they mean "spiritual values".  When you tell them they are masturbating, and there is no such thing as spiritual value, then they know you are wrong, because you are wrong,  and you are guaranteed to lose the election.  Nice going, loser.

                          •  EWW, not THAT kind of MASTURBATION (8+ / 0-)

                            I'm not talking about masturbating. EWW! you thought I was talking about masturbation - like that kind of masturbation?

                            EWW

                            I was talking about, you know, self-congratulatory speech, like tooting ones own horn, of course!

                            So, what have we learned?

                            Perhaps that your idea that "Spirituality" is whatever you personally want it to mean, as in

                            Humans are spiritual people because they have empathy and they consider the plight of the other person.

                            or

                            A person as characterized by a stated quality: He is a proud spirit.

                            When really, Spirituality can be taken to mean what MOST people think it means, which generally is the FIRST thing listed in the dictionary,

                            of, relating to, consisting of, or affecting the spirit

                            and to use it as a progressive banner, to think that you can define it in a non-supernatural term, as in "empathy," or "human-ness" is complete and utter bullshit. IT would be tantamount to me using the word MASTURBATION to mean Tooting my own horn, and not that horn. Really, the first definition is the generally understood meaning for the term:

                            manual stimulation of the genital organs (of yourself or another) for sexual pleasure

                            and to not understand that most people will interpret the word in this fashion is an error by ME, the person using the terms,

                            just like it's an error for YOU to believe we aught to accept your definition of spiritual.

                            openthevein.blogspot.com

                            by danceattakjg on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:46:29 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Pro-choice also turns off 100% of the right winge (7+ / 0-)

                            that turn out to over Bush/Cheney.

                            So do a lot of progressive positions.

                            I'm curious - which progressive values, besides secularism and free speech (in the form of your desire to muzzle atheist rational sentiments) and science (in the form of your insistence on the existence of a spiritual soul absent any evidence), would you like us to abandon, at least publicly, in order to magically attract or convert those 100% hard-core Bush-Cheney voters - and why would you want to, anyway?

                            Surely those voters are more threatened by the majority that supports a woman's right to choose, than by the tiny minority of atheists in America - are aren't all Democrats by a long shot, incidentally.

                            Your arguments grow more and more desperate, illogical and hasty, as you flail about trying to justify your lack of respect for non-magical beliefs and for the right to freely express and debate them.

                            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:18:31 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If you think (9+ / 0-)

                            you're going to win over right wingers by talking about "spirituality" you're seriously deluding yourself.  One thing I've noticed in my anthropological forays into wingnuttia is that they have as much disdain for references to "spirituality" as they have for leftism generally.  This is because they associate the term with new age wishy washiness and associate new age worldviews with hippies.  I've never once heard a wingnut describe his religious beliefs as "spiritual", though I've often heard them mock the term.  I confess that on this one point, and this point alone, I'm pretty sympathetic to the wingnuts.  I find the new agers pretty irritating as well.

                          •  This is not Giant Spirit Man's bidding. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            You are as lacking in insight as Nicodemus was in the Bible.
                            Planes into buildings is man stealing "spiritual value" and calling it religion, so he can control man with an organized Church.  The two are opposite and diametric.  In fact, the allegorical antiChrist actually sits in Tehran and the Vatican (two competing franchises).  When Jesus gave his sermon on the mount, there was no Church structure there.  However the Spirit of God was there.  When the Pope give a service, the building is there, but the Spirit of God is not there, just "false idols", and the wolf in sheep's clothing.  the sooner you understand this, the sooner you can head into southern gospel right wing territory and garner votes for Obama.  Obama know this, and that why he is always speaking about the Lord.
                            If you are familiar with Jesus, you will recognize his words in Obama's speeches all the time.  Because this is a universal Truth, that belongs to no one, cannot be touched or seen.
                            The constitution framers knew this when they said :  we hold these truths to be self evident.

                          •  Object, (9+ / 0-)

                            I'm disappointed in this discussion, because I feel that you really think that my lack of belief in your set of beliefs is due to my personal lack of experience or blindness.

                            Now, I'm not a fucking idiot.

                            I'm not having a discussion with a southern baptist for political persuasion. I have a letter on my word processor to be sent to my in laws, independent fundmaentalist baptists in the south, regarding health care reform, and the importance of health care reform, and you would find it so warm and fuzzy and laced with religious words and sentiment it would do you better than homemade chicken noodle soup.

                            Again, I'm not a fucking idiot.

                            If you want to argue that we should talk in terms of spirituality for political gain, like Obama does, than I agree, to an extent. fantastic. But here we are, on a website, having a discussion about the problems between religion and atheism, and unless you are a baptist in the south who I'm trying to convince to vote democratic, I'll just have the discussion about religion and atheism. I'm pretty sure those people you are concerned about me turning off are not here, and that's not what this is about.

                            I'm not as lacking in insight as you may think, and you aught not write me off so easily.

                            Your discussion of the bible and what it's REALLY supposed to say is intellectually tiresome. You state a bunch of things without any evidence whatsoever, and that's fine, I don't care, but I hope you know it doesn't make any logical sense, and it's not because I'm not religiously schooled, and it's not because I'm a fucking idiot.

                            Planes into buildings is man stealing "spiritual value" and calling it religion, so he can control man with an organized Church.

                            This is your opinion, and I disagree staunchly. 9-11 was the greatest act of personal faith I've witnessed in my life. I do not have faith great enough to die for my beliefs. Perhaps you do. They did. Faith is Dangerous.

                            The two are opposite and diametric.

                            In your opinion.

                            In fact, the allegorical antiChrist actually sits in Tehran and the Vatican (two competing franchises).

                            In your opinion? What does this have to do with reality?

                            When Jesus gave his sermon on the mount, there was no Church structure there.  However the Spirit of God was there.

                            So if I go to church outside is that better than inside? Is the problem the building? Is that the difference?

                            When the Pope give a service, the building is there, but the Spirit of God is not there, just "false idols", and the wolf in sheep's clothing.

                            in your opinion.

                            the sooner you understand this, the sooner you can head into southern gospel right wing territory and garner votes for Obama.  Obama know this, and that why he is always speaking about the Lord.

                            The sooner I understand what, that uneducated southerners believe the earth is 6000 years old and must have a dose of magic with all their discussions? I understand this pretty well. My extended family is of the variety of the Duggar family on 18 kids and counting.

                            i also understand that obama understands this, which is why I believe it is as likely that he is an atheist as he is a christian as he is a muslim. Doesn't matter to me, he's smart. I'd be more surprised if he's really a theist than if he is an atheist.

                            "If you are familiar with Jesus, you will recognize his words in Obama's speeches all the time.  Because this is a universal Truth, that belongs to no one, cannot be touched or seen. "

                            Perhaps you mean, if I am familiar with the bible and all great literature, I may recognize it in Obama's speech all the time. I am familiar, and I enjoy his speeches as I enjoy the bible for literature purposes. This is not because of universal truth, but because of good words. You know what else has good words? The Koran, and Chuck Palahniuk, author of fight club. Definitely good words. Not definitely universal truth.

                            The constitution framers knew this when they said :  we hold these truths to be self evident.

                            I don't understand what you are talking about here. Truth about Jesus? The bible? All men created equal?

                            openthevein.blogspot.com

                            by danceattakjg on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:06:09 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Flying planes into building is an act of war. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            snackdoodle, MnplsLiberal

                            These are brave men in those planes, fighting a war started by Wall Street, and waged on the Middle East, and have nothing to do with  Mohammed, Jesus, Buddha, Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr, or any other progressivist you wish to name.I have been doing my own reading:
                            http://www.keeneonline.com/...
                            he has a free chapter that doesn't cost you anything to read.
                            I'm not saying Nicodemus was an idiot, in fact Jesus was arguing with learned scholars and Pharisees.
                            If you would like to get ur southern Baptist family to vote democratic, buy the book, read it and you will see where i am coming from.  You will be able to take on your relatives on their own ground and win.  Because their point of view is lack of thought, and repetition of dogma.  this right now is an internet discussion which summarized a book of about 90 pages, based on the author's 20 years of intensive study of literature and philosophy.
                            The problem with going into a Church, is the people have a closed mind and have been told how to think.  That is why the scripture says when two people get together in the name of the Lord, that constitutes a Church.  For matters of the spirit, get the Hell away from the Church.
                            Things that you state as simply "my opinion" also show up independently in the writings of scholars.  And I recognized them as true, because I had concluded the same thing, independently, with no prior knowledge.  That is why the constitution can say things like "self evident".  I am entitled to have an opinion, and I am entitled to speak it, and to be proud of it, if it is based on logical deduction and conclusion.  You are not a fucking idiot, you are just arguing the Law, just like Nicodemus and the Pharisees did 2000 years ago.  I prefer to argue from the point of view of a Spiritual leader, and the one I am most familiar with is JC, so I just use him as an EXAMPLE only.  This argument is going on all the time, and it is in the interest of the Church to make sure that writings like these are burned and kept away from public view.

                          •  "...we interrupt this thread (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            gustynpip

                            with the following paid announcement...

                            _______________

                            Don't confuse them with facts. They have stereotypes on their side. (rserven)

                            by dadanation on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:42:14 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Ah yes, thanks for chiming in old timer. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            I see ur UID is just about the same as mine, so we joined just about the same time.  These debates have been going on for ages. FINALLY I have been able to extricate myself from my professional life in order to learn a thing or two, and instead of being on the receiving end of lectures, I can come up with something of use that WILL held Democrats get elected, and retake the
                            "moral values" argument back to where it belongs, here.
                            Of course the right can use the bogey-man "Godless Liberals", so I attack the "strength", and say, no, actually God lives and prospers in liberals.  All the time I am arguing allegory, but I do not tell them that.  Very soon the wingers come to realize - hey that lefty sure knows a lot about the Lord, maybe we can consider voting that way.  Or at least the uncommited or undecided.

                          •  that you have extricated yourself is great (0+ / 0-)

                            i suppose

                            but dropping adverts into diaries like this (this isn't the only time you have promoted this book by way of a masqueraded comment) just feels so exploitative.

                            _______________

                            Don't confuse them with facts. They have stereotypes on their side. (rserven)

                            by dadanation on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:10:46 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  It's not my book, I don't own any royalties, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            but it really is excellent, and the author is a progressive activist.  I just got the book yesterday, and finished reading it.  The book has a free chapter, so people can judge for themselves without cost, and this is not a corporation or any big business or anything, just a small time author who believes in going beyond yourself, and entering into activism, and since I believe it to be a really great help in anyone wanting to arm themselves and WIN back church goers to the Democratic tent, that's why I feel no shame in promoting it, in this little sub thread.  It IS highly relevant to the topic, and it would be WRONG on my part to not promote it.

                          •  noted. n/t (0+ / 0-)

                            _______________

                            Don't confuse them with facts. They have stereotypes on their side. (rserven)

                            by dadanation on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 07:34:07 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  young punks lol n/t (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            object16, dadanation

                            Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
                            A yam.
                            What a Yam!
                            And that's all that - A yam.

                            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:26:35 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  you've just jumped off into the deep end (0+ / 0-)

                            with this post. I've been disagreeing with everything you've said up until now, but at least found it relatively sane.

                            "Barack Obama must be a Dadaist because cow." --Bill in Portland, Maine

                            by ubertar on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:41:21 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  If planes into building is (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            misreal, BYw

                            "man stealing "spiritual value" and calling it religion, so he can controal man with an organized Church, then organizedreligion has not been doing a very good job at its "real" mission, since so much hijacking of it seems to occur to satisfy greed, violence, hate and ignorance.

                            As Gandhi noted, while expressing admiration for Christ, Christians seem not at all like Christ.

                            Perhaps, given organized religion's failure over thousands of years to get rid of those negative tendencies, and given its continued vulnerability to abuse, perhaps it makes sense to try a different way.

                            Like critical thinking, rational thinking and freethought, based on science and logic and empirical evidence and common sense.

                            Who knows, maybe it will work better than believing things for which there is no evidence and deferring blindly and unquestioningly to idiosyncratic interpretations of ancient texts.

                            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:23:11 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  These statements are exactly the reason that (5+ / 0-)

                            athiests have a hard time with religion.  You are making statements of which you have no first hand knowledge.  Religious people will jump through all kinds of twisted hoops in order to make their position sound rational...

                            "Planes into buildings is man stealing "spiritual value" and calling it religion, so he can control man with an organized Church."  NO!  This is what they believe their god is dictating for them to do through their radical interpretation of the Koran.  They did this because of their religious ideology--the are not "stealing 'spiritual value'"--although that probably makes you feel better about religion.

                            "When Jesus gave his sermon on the mount, there was no Church structure there.  However the Spirit of God was there."  And you know this because...it was written about 45 years after jesus died?  All 4 books of the gospel written by the same author?

                            "When the Popes give a service, the building is there, but the Spirit of God is not there, just "false idols", and the wolf in sheep's clothing."  I'm afraid the catholic church would beg to differ.  The fact that you claim to know whether the spirit of god is there is an absurd assumption. Something you cannot know.

                            "If you are familiar with Jesus, you will recognize his words in Obama's speeches all the time.  Because this is a universal Truth, that belongs to no one, cannot be touched or seen"

                            It's just particularly gulling to have someone make statements of which they have no proof, empirical evidence or observable data, use "truths" based on a text which is full of fallacy and hypocrisy and then act as if athiests can't see the logical reality in front of them.  You might as well say..."some cats are blue, flowers can pink therefore I'm right"  It makes no sense whatsoever.  And to act as if others just can't see the truth in what you say given the basis of religious "truths"...arg,  makes me want to say "Ramen".

                            btw...
                            I imagine most athiests are quite familiar with the words of jesus.  Been there, done that. I can take you through a roller coaster ride of bible absurdity.  I am quite familiar with Obama's overt and covert use of christian beliefs in his speeches--he's no dummie.

                          •  Well then to state that (5+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Philoguy, ubertar, BYw, snackdoodle, cgirard

                            spirituality (the part of us that loves and forgives, in your words) is related to empathy is a statement of the obvious. The word spirituality as you're using it is completely divorced from religion and the supernatural. So let's be clear, you are saying that empathy and feeling, love and forgiveness are concepts that are in no way dependent upon the non-physical or supernatural for their existence.

                            You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

                            by Opakapaka on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:39:43 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Yes that is very clear and simple. (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            snackdoodle, MnplsLiberal

                            Religion turns it into the supernatural, so it can control men to do evil.  Adam and Eve eating the apple is just the same as what you and I do when we come of age.  This is not "the fall"- the "fall" is just what religion wants you to believe.
                            There is no "original sin", and Jesus did not die for "original sin".  These are all delusions of the Church, that tempt us like a child in a candy store for the "great prize", "21 virgins" etc.  We already have everything, even the love of a woman (which in those days was considered ultimate, because you needed a woman to start a clan).  For us to aspire to hope for something more, in an afterlife "kingdom of heaven" is an insult to the concept of God, and if there even was a real physical God, He would also be insulted, that the church goers are talking about going to heaven.  He would say: did I not already give you Dominion over my creation, and plants and animals to be used by meat, and even created a woman for you?  And did I not even give you a thinking mind? that could understand things?  like WTF???  you want even MORE????

                          •  where does that leave me? (0+ / 0-)

                            as a gay man?

                            _______________

                            Don't confuse them with facts. They have stereotypes on their side. (rserven)

                            by dadanation on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:43:02 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  You are equal to each of us (0+ / 0-)
                          •  then why this? (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BYw

                            We already have everything, even the love of a woman (which in those days was considered ultimate, because you needed a woman to start a clan).

                            _______________

                            Don't confuse them with facts. They have stereotypes on their side. (rserven)

                            by dadanation on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:06:28 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  That is about what the church taught, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            MnplsLiberal

                            societal expectations and if you think about it, it makes sense, no one really thought about sexuality in the beginning. Tribes and clans and perpetuation of the family was the most important thing.  Homosexuality has always been part of human kind, but understanding, acknowledging, being able to act upon those feelings in a loving open official way, is all pretty recent. Even in Greece when homosexuality openly accepted, those men married and had families because it was expected of them, required. There is actually nothing in the teachings of Jesus that says anymore than giving us the most important commandment to love one another as ourselves, no exclusions. I have a good friend who is an Anglican Bishop, he says it wouldn't be a commandment if it was easy and he's right. Think of how the world would change if we could live by the golden rule.

                          •  no it is not what the church taught (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Chicagoa
                            Since you are answering in someone else's stead, tbe least you could do is make sure you know what you're talking about.

                            The comment I quoted was not "church teaching" at all. It was that person's mythos and it was all about a heterocentric, child-bearing power dynamic.

                            In that dynamic as is still the case.now, since I am not cleaving to a woman I am off the ranch.

                            Funny, the same outcome happens with your revisionistic recapitulation of that post.

                            Until such time that we discover Christ speaking about homosexuality, we dare blasphemy positing his opinion.

                            So the only culture to accept homosexuality was the greeks - but even they expected heterosexualoty out of their men, eh?

                            Sex is not and has not only been about procreation. You betray a deep bias with your insistence on breeding being central to our "religious" understanding of  the human condition.

                            _______________

                            Don't confuse them with facts. They have stereotypes on their side. (rserven)

                            by dadanation on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:59:16 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I believe I did say in the BEGINNING (0+ / 0-)

                            meaning before the church. The church reinforced it and continues to use it to control people, make them feel sex is dirty, pile on the guilt and make your life less. Jesus said nothing negative about homosexuality, said nothing at all beyond the most important commandment. Hell, he may have been gay, who cares?  Breeding IS part of what the church pushes, go forth and multiple etc. Christian churches DO push it, that is a fact, not that I believe it, jeesh!

                          •  your belief that (0+ / 0-)

                            no one really thought about sexuality in the beginning.

                            can you corroborate this point?

                            strikes me that there was a whole lot of erotic art way way way back when...

                            and btw, when christ directs his APOSTLES to "go forth and multiply" he is not directing them to make a lot of babies.  he is talking about the apostles taking his message to those who have not heard it so that they too can know him and find salvation through him.

                            one last thing.  when you wrote this:

                            Jesus said nothing negative about homosexuality

                            you could have and should have been more precise.  the way it reads now is that perhaps jesus said something about homosexuality.  in fact he said not a thing, nothing positive, nothing negative.  for that matter, he said nothing positive or negative about heterosexuality.  

                            _______________

                            Don't confuse them with facts. They have stereotypes on their side. (rserven)

                            by dadanation on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 04:06:04 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Isn't the word "spirituality" redundant (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Philoguy, Opakapaka, BYw

                            and unnecessary then? Why not just say empathy if you mean empathy?

                            "Barack Obama must be a Dadaist because cow." --Bill in Portland, Maine

                            by ubertar on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:46:27 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  How do you know? (5+ / 0-)

                            There is no "original sin", and Jesus did not die for "original sin".  These are all delusions of the Church,

                            Whence comes your absolute authority to contradict every religious authority in the world and state, categorically, what is and is not true in the world?

                            You deny science and reason on the one hand, deny religious authority on the other, abrogate to yourself exclusively definitive statements on the nature of reality, the will of a supposed "God", and the meaning of "spirituality".

                            Where does this arrogant assertion of absolute certainty come from?

                            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:26:01 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  apples are NOT an indigenous plant in that area.. (0+ / 0-)

                            without the ants the rainforest dies

                            by aliasalias on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:30:44 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Unsubstantiated dogmatic assertions (9+ / 0-)

                            ou cannot touch that part, you cannot show me on your body where is that thing that loves and forgives.

                            Actually, that's not correct. Just because you are apparently ignorant of the past few decades of brain research, does not mean such research did not occur.

                            See, that's the thing about reality - it's kind of like the law - ignorance is no defense.

                            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:09:13 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Wow, your "spiritualism" has clearly made you (5+ / 0-)

                          a better, kinder, more tolerance and respectful person, less inclined to make sweeping statements dismissing the legitimacy of the beliefs of an entire class of people merely because they don't fid your narrow dogmatic worldview.

                          Yay, "spiritualism"!

                          One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                          by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:07:39 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Oh my lord! You're actually suggesting that (0+ / 0-)

                          someone refusing to accept your definition of the word spiritual means we're going to lose elections????  My friend, you need to be a little less emotional, if not less spiritual, and get a grip.

                          "If you trust you are not critical; if you are critical you do not trust" by our own Dauphin

                          by gustynpip on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:51:57 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  Using your definition, can you elaborate? (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Cartoon Messiah, BYw

                      In your original paragraph you said:  "Humans are spiritual people because they have empathy and they consider the plight of the other person."  To apply your usage of the world are you saying

                      1.  Humans have a mind, will and feelings because they have empathy and consider the plight of the other person.

                      or

                      1. Humans have an essential nature because they have empathy and they consider the plight of the other person?

                      or

                      1.  Humans are characterized by a stated quality because they have empathy and they consider the plight of the other person?

                      just curious.

            •  No, you call it what you want, in order to defend (8+ / 0-)

              your irrational beliefs with rhetorical trickery.

              For you to claim that my progressivism is the result of "spirituality, or to insist to appropriate my right to self-determination and insist that I am, in fact, "spiritual" or even that my atheism is a "belief", is dishonest, arrogant, and profoundly illiberal, anti-progressive and anti-democratic.

              Imagine if I stated that your spiritualism is a sham, that, in fact, you are cynically and rationally pretending to believe things, but that in fact you do not.

              That is essentially what you are doing when you deny a rational thinker their rationalism.

              You can call it what you want, but your assertions are profoundly disrespectful and even bigoted.

              Don't presume to redefine terms to suit you, don't deny others the sincerity of their convictions.

              By all means, engage in a vigorous intellectual debate about the merit of those beliefs; by all means, challenge the rational rejection of the spiritual realm.

              But don't fucking tell me I don't mean what I mean when I describe myself.

              One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

              by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:05:14 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  What is spirituality?? (5+ / 0-)

            If it sort of means the feeling you get when you love and are loved when you look at an amazing landscape or inspiring work of art or listening to an amazing piece of music or suddenly understanding how something works or gaining an insight on what works or how to help make things better for people... then they kind of work with, aid and abet progressive beliefs.
            Feeling part of the universe, a group of people, being at peace with yourself and others or working to make that happen more often for more people... that is sort of a spiritual thing... and very progressive....

            So if it is a feeling linked to all of that... it can be non-religious or religious alongside or independent of in one person or not the next. For one person to say they have not felt something spiritual and therefore does not understand what another person feels when they speak of spirituality means they may have a faulty understanding of the concept. The same areas of the brain are active with the same brain chemicals expressed in all people.. what they link it to externally may be different and the words or labels used may make them sound different...

            Not spiritual at all... only emotional defectives with flat affect or Blunted affect  could be perhaps said to be without some form or understanding of spirituality. People who would not feel a rush standing in a Redwood grove or on the edge of the Grand Canyon or hearing an amazing concert in an amazing venue or seeing the stars out in the desert away from towns and cities do not have spirituality in it's wider sense. The feelings people get in uplifting circumstances will be the same in religious persons and non religious persons but the believers will identify it as being the same as what they call religious feelings/sprituality and link it in some way to their personal beliefs unlike a non believer.

            Wikipedia, along with the religious connotations and definitions also says.:

            A sense of connection is central of spirituality — connection to a reality greater than the physical world and oneself, which may include an emotional experience of awe and reverence.....
            ...
            an important distinction exists between spirituality in religion and spirituality outside of religion. In recent[update] years, spirituality outside of religion often carries connotations of a believer having a faith more personal, less dogmatic, more open to new ideas and myriad influences, and more pluralistic than the doctrinal/dogmatic faiths of mature religions....

            Those who speak of spirituality outside of religion often identify themselves as "spiritual but not religious" and generally believe in the existence of many "spiritual paths" and deny that there is an objectively definable best path to follow. Such people often emphasize the importance of finding one's individual path to the divine. Some 24% of the United States population identifies itself as spiritual but not religious.[3] Secular spirituality is consistent with holding any supernatural belief, or with holding none.

            People of a more New-Age disposition tend to regard spirituality not as religion per se, but as the active and vital connection to a force/power/energy, spirit, or sense of the deep self. As cultural historian and yogi William Irwin Thompson (1938 - ) put it, "Religion is not identical with spirituality; rather religion is the form spirituality takes in civilization.

            So a person who has the same emotional feelings and responses to certain stimuli or ideas/experiences as a "religiously spiritual" person and deny that what they feel is spiritual or prefer to call it something else and leave spirituality to be defined solely as being connected to religion seems like a form of denial... for what ever reason .... perhaps being discomforted by the idea of having the same physical and biological responses and experiences as a "Religious" person even though for reasons not connected to any religious beliefs. Many very religious people have the same problem with non believers feeling anything ecstatic or uplifting outside of an organized religious setting (particularly THEIR organized religion...) That's why non religious music, dancing, alcohol bright colors, and other things have been banned by many religions in many times and places. Not allowed to feel those things except in a prescribed religious setting... no competition allowed...

            Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

            by IreGyre on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:48:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't buy it (14+ / 0-)

              I don't believe in spirits or a spirit world. I am not "spiritual." The emotional reaction I may or may not experience under various stimuli is completely irrelevant to the question of whether or not I believe in spirits or a spirit world.

              And no matter how many apologetics you surround it with, this is the core of the definition:

              connection to a reality greater than the physical world

              I don't believe there is a reality "greater than the physical world." Therefore, I don't feel "connected" to any such thing. Period.

              •  To me, this is the key. (11+ / 0-)

                Spirituality is some vague way of saying that you believe that the world has some sort of non-physical extra dimension that to you provides depth and meaning.

                I agree, this is a form of belief in something that is unproven, and impossible to prove. It is a diluted, informal, nonstandard religious belief. It is a belief in a concept that I choose to reject until there is evidence to substantiate its existence.

                You cannot depend upon American institutions to function without pressure. --MLK Jr.

                by Opakapaka on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:47:10 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  nah that's your definition of sprituality... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  misreal, cgirard

                  not mine and probably not someone else's definition... it seems like a limited thing to allege that an extended more inclusive definition is some sort of vague thing hankering after a spirit world...  Spock and you can have a nice discussion on the non merits of feelings... live long and prosper...

                  Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                  by IreGyre on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:28:22 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Words have meanings (9+ / 0-)

                    If we start accepting each and every person's personal definition of every word, the entire structure and purpose of language breaks down. Words have - and must have - commonly-accepted meanings. You're attempting to define all the meaning out of the word to the point that it applies to everyone...and, having seen this tactic before, I strongly suspect that once someone falls for your trap and "admits" to being spiritual under your definition, you're going to go back to the real definition of the word and try to make the case that they possess attributes of someone who's actually spiritual.

                    This is a pretty common method of deceptive/fallacious argument. See here.

                    •  not a tactic... that says more about you.... (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      MnplsLiberal

                      not a trap... I do not go around suspecting people of setting traps and using tactics... and words evolve and change all the time. Some authorities try and ordain what the inflexible and unchanging definition of words are... and think they succeed for a while but it never work for long, even the simplest words accrue connotations and shades that come and go and eventually move the word into new territory if not obsolescence. Written language and dictionaries have made a difference but they still cannot pin words down immutably... So no, I don't have a secret real definition of spirituality or any other word to spring on anyone... sheesh...

                      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                      by IreGyre on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 03:42:46 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  lack of spirituality (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dallasdoc, Philoguy, kyril, BYw, teachme2night

                    does not equal lack of feelings. Another straw man bites the dust.

                    "Barack Obama must be a Dadaist because cow." --Bill in Portland, Maine

                    by ubertar on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:49:08 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I bet you are spiritual all the time... (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      greeseyparrot, MnplsLiberal

                      in a non religious way of course... and use a different word to describe the experience...

                      And it's very easy to proclaim straw man when you make up the phrase that is supposed to be it...

                      I don't think people who say they are not spiritual or experience spirituality do not have feelings... just that they avoid using those words and the extended meanings which are widely accepted... they want to avoid being associated in any way with words linked to the same feelings that they share with self labeled "spiritual" people... even though biologically and chemically the same stuff is going on and it feels the same...

                      Words.....

                      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                      by IreGyre on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 03:52:53 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                  •  Expression of prejudice (10+ / 0-)

                    You are implying that rational thinkers have no feelings, or deny the merit of feelings.

                    That is an expression of bigotry intended to denigrate an entire class of people purely based on their worldview.

                    It is inappropriate and contrary to the "spirit" [pun intended] of progressive thought.

                    As is your insistence on defining atheists as "spiritual".

                    I realize the notion that people can be different than you can be very threatening - in particular, the notion that people can be good without requiring any mystical beliefs or "spiritual" dimensions; but that is really not my problem, it is yours.

                    Learn to accept it. I accept that people believe in God, even as I disagree and argue it is a false belief. But I would never have the sheer hubris or meanspiritedness to assert that they don't actually believe.

                    For you to insist I am spiritual is like me insisting that you have no feelings, that you are just pretending to believe whatever you believe.

                    It is astonishing the level of intolerance there is among faith-based thinkers towards rational thinkers - to the extent of engaging in Orwellian efforts to redefine terms and deny people their own thoughts.

                    One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                    by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:31:48 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  "implying that rational thinkers have no feelings (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      misreal, MnplsLiberal

                      No, but if you prefer to think that's what I'm trying to get across... that's up to you.

                      And of course that phrase also implies that I must consider myself a non-rational thinker.....

                      or at least that you are implying that that I am....

                      Did I say that atheists were spiritual, that they are some sort of in denial closet case believers...? that too is a stretch... since I did no such thing. And you can't have it both ways... alleging that I said that they have no feelings and were also spiritual... I did neither and as I am not religious I don't know why you assume that I am...  "Faith based thinker"? where did you get that from? I do not insist that you are "spiritual" in the narrow definition of that word that you seem absolutely wedded to. Do you denounce other rational thinkers because they use some words in ways you find disagreeable? Do they forfeit the title of "rational thinker" at your whim?

                      Everyone feels and experiences things with the same physical mechanisms whether they are believers or not believers. The same brain centers generate the same things chemically and electrically in everyone but people characterize and describe their experiences and reactions using different words and ideas... It is true that some people feel some things more intensely and that some take this as religious or spiritual feelings... but there are plenty of others who choose to label it differently and are not religious but the feeling and experience are identical even though it does not involve associations with supernatural beings or magic whatsoever.....

                      So why are some rational thinkers agitated that someone alleges that they might share a parallel experience of the world that feels the same as those who need some sort of non-rational explanation for things... and further why should a generic non religious extended definition of "spirituality" or "spiritual" be so repugnant or scary to otherwise rational thinking non religious people... have they had too many Jehovah's witnesses or Mormons at the door? Are they are just more sales resistant to the holy roller sellers? I don't like them around any more that any other non believers do and I certainly fear for any country that has hateful religious loons trying to gain and or maintain political control.

                      Hey, Spiritual is just a word and nobody is trying to do anything with it here except maybe comment that there is an extended definition that makes sense to at least some other "Rational" thinkers... and that the word police should lighten up a bit... and not cast aspersions on someone who uses a word in a way they don't like..

                      Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                      by IreGyre on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 04:31:09 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Is it possible to disagree with you (8+ / 0-)

                        without being "scared", "agitated", or presumed to have psychological trauma or other disordered, or all the other personal epithets you feel the need to throw around in every comment?

                        The reason I don't assume you are a rational thinker is because your comments are profoundly irrational.

                        Your entire argument is emotional and inconsistent, and made up almost entirely of straw men, followed by personal insults on the character, intent and motivation of those who disagree with you.

                        Reason is judged by results. Your actions are not rational, and neither is your argument. Calling on everyone else to "lighten up" after many have pointed out your rude, disrespectful and hostile manner is not a sign of a rational mind.

                        It is quite possible to simply, intellectually, disagree with your assertions, without being as emotionally entangled with them as you apparently are.

                        Stop talking about people's motivations and feelings, and stick to the substantive issues.

                        One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                        by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:49:15 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  It would seem words must be chosen VERY carefully (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          misreal

                          in your presence... otherwise the following sorts of retorts might ensue for reasons that are mystifying to me...

                          profoundly irrational.
                          rude, disrespectful and hostile manner....
                          Your entire argument is emotional and inconsistent, and made up almost entirely of straw men, followed by personal insults on the character, intent and motivation of those who disagree with you.

                          are the reactions they might elicit...
                          taking a deep breath and treading on egg shells, I venture to say this is a subject you take very seriously to the point where my mild verbiage has resulted in me being compared to raving disparagers of the worst sort. Not really sure why....

                          Stick to substantive issues

                          ... methinks the commenter protesteth too much... as for my use of

                          "personal epithets"

                          still looking for where those might have been in my comments...

                          Epithet: a descriptive word or phrase accompanying or occurring in place of the name of a person or thing, which has become a fixed formula. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and biological nomenclature....

                          the rest of the definition of epithet is interesting and only reveals that it is a somewhat misused word these days whose meaning has acquired an

                          Alternative contemporary usage

                          In contemporary usage, epithet is sometimes used to refer to an abusive or defamatory phrase, such as a racial epithet. This euphemistic use is discredited by Martin Manser and other prescriptive linguists.[7]

                          So even the "alternative contemporary usage" is not quite the definition I'm guessing you intended.
                          Words do evolve so perhaps the linguists should update their info... and not everyone likes where they seem to be moving or having them applied to themselves with connotations they don't agree with... so while I see your spirited disagreement with the ahem, word, I am circumlocuting here and respectfully disagree with and call you on a possible misuse of the word "Epithet"...
                          ____________________________________________

                          And besides all the side issues you have chosen to focus on there is still the main point that I was attempting to make about studies of brain function that relate to perceptions and feelings that people tend to use the word "spiritual" to describe.
                          Brain stimulant - Religious pill

                          Do SSRI's have the capacity to amp up feelings of supernaturalism as a result of their capacity to increase 5-ht1a activation? My guess is that they might. However SSRI's can also have a negative impact on dopaminergic functioning especially in the prefrontal cortex due to their non-selective effect on other 5-ht receptors. This can often leave a person more apathetic, demotivated and having a reduced sense of joy for life. I would imagine killing your dopaminergic functioning is scarcely a recipe for spiritual motivation.

                          And we all seem to be hardwired to trend to some sort of religious-like thinking which we apparently have to think our way past... but it is still there coloring our thinking... but that does not provide any kind of proof for actual religious beliefs, only what they feel like only why they seem to be linked to religion in so many people.

                          Born believers: How your brain creates God
                          Even so, religion is an inescapable artefact of the wiring in our brain, says Bloom. "All humans possess the brain circuitry and that never goes away." Petrovich adds that even adults who describe themselves as atheists and agnostics are prone to supernatural thinking. Bering has seen this too. When one of his students carried out interviews with atheists, it became clear that they often tacitly attribute purpose to significant or traumatic moments in their lives, as if some agency were intervening to make it happen. "They don't completely exorcise the ghost of god - they just muzzle it," Bering says.

                          That is not to say that they are religious only that they share some hardwired tendencies that can be mostly set aside in a rational way. Scientists have traced some of the main activity to the temporal lobe as well as some activity in the amygdala and the limbic system.

                          Searching for God in the Brain
                          To seal the case for the temporal lobe’s involvement, Michael Persinger of Laurentian University in Ontario sought to artificially re-create religious feelings by electrically stimulating that large subdivision of the brain. So Persinger created the "God helmet," which generates weak electromagnetic fields and focuses them on particular regions of the brain’s surface.

                          In a series of studies conducted over the past several decades, Persinger and his team have trained their device on the temporal lobes of hundreds of people. In doing so, the researchers induced in most of them the experience of a sensed presence—a feeling that someone (or a spirit) is in the room when no one, in fact, is—or of a profound state of cosmic bliss that reveals a universal truth. During the three-minute bursts of stimulation, the affected subjects translated this perception of the divine into their own cultural and religious language—terming it God, Buddha, a benevolent presence or the wonder of the universe.

                          Persinger thus argues that religious experience and belief in God are merely the results of electrical anomalies in the human brain

                          So that's the kind of stuff I had in mind when I opined that we all share this type of experience which some use the word Spirituality to describe...
                          The feelings at root derive from the same brain structures and the same neurotransmitters such as serotonin and while the functioning and balance of these may vary the experience between different people plus the personal interpretation and naming of it they feel pretty much the same... or so it would seem from reading about it now and then and reflecting about it over a number of years.

                          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                          by IreGyre on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 06:23:28 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  I get those symptoms (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            IreGyre

                            In a series of studies conducted over the past several decades...the researchers induced in most of them the experience of a sensed presence—a feeling that someone (or a spirit) is in the room when no one, in fact, is

                            I have a form of narcolepsy, and this is a very common symptom.

                            I know religious people, when experiencing an attack for the first time being convinced it was an angel.

                            Myself, I thought my house was being burgled.

                          •  TLE temperal lobe Epilepsy also... (0+ / 0-)

                            And as you may have heard some religious figures in history had "trance" like states that may have been TLE... amazing that just a few people with that may have had enormous influence on the history of the world. Auras, lights, out body, voices, presences (burning bush even..) powerful stuff ... if a person doesn't know what it is.

                            Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                            by IreGyre on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:51:06 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Now that you responded substantively (0+ / 0-)

                            without the gratuitous personal remarks (ignoring the ones you couldn't resist at the beginning of your otherwise substantive comment), I think you'll find that 90% of the people you were alternatively mocking or attempting to discredit are actually in violent agreement with you.

                            For example, I have made substantively the same point you seem to be making, on several thread in this diary.

                            You'll note that others are responding favorably as well to this comment, unlike previous comments you've made.

                            Final point: the "walking on eggshells" comment was an unnecessary personal dig, again seeking to discredit others rather than take personal responsibility for how you communicate. Your substance would have done fine without that gratuitous bit of hostility. In fact, what you did differently was not "walk on eggshells", but simply stick to the issues.

                            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:59:26 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                      •  I've had experiences that most people (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        kyril, BYw

                        would label as "spiritual", but I choose not to use that word because of its associations to the supernatural. So I agree with your broader point but disagree with your insistence on your use of that word. And you're being a bit disingenuous about not calling people who are not spiritual lacking in the feelings department. I quote: "Spock and you can have a nice discussion on the non merits of feelings". What alternative interpretation could we have of that statement?

                        "Barack Obama must be a Dadaist because cow." --Bill in Portland, Maine

                        by ubertar on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:50:41 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  About the Spock thing... no disrespect (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          misreal, createpeace

                          I was attempting to draw a parallel with the fictitious character who had an emotional side that he preferred to mostly set aside the better to think more logically. My understanding of this is that he did not hate or fear emotion or deny that he still had some, he merely distrusted it and avoided it so it would not cloud his thinking. He was not dishonest with himself about it. And I appreciate your own take on the subject.

                          Spock avoided emotional expression and or giving into an excess of feeling and the fictitious Vulcan culture seems to have felt that anything more than very minor emotional behavior was a bit vulgar and to allege that someone was emotional was a bit of an insult... even though the Vulcan race was perfectly capable of emotional acts and thinking at rare moments... though perhaps not to the degree that half human Spock was...

                          So the same thing could be said for those who distrusted one element of our own human emotional selves... the so-called spiritual feelings for want of a better word. So I don't Dis Mr Spock and his choice to try and set aside his emotions just as I don't have any quarrel with those who attempt to break their hardwired tendencies to religious thinking or feelings... see the note to "random Acts..." which quotes a sampling of research into this fascinating area.

                          Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                          by IreGyre on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 06:40:47 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  God is (0+ / 0-)

                  Love. That is all you need to know.

                  No matter what religion or non religion.

                  Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. MLK

                  by createpeace on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:40:51 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  connection to a reality greater than (6+ / 0-)

                the physical world is magical thinking to me,  My issue with magical thinking taken seriously is that is diverts attention from man being able to explore, understand and respect all the wondrous elements of life.

              •  Stick to your definition... in case the (5+ / 0-)

                the religious cooties get on ya... I am not religious by the way... (who said anything about spirits or the spirit world?? wasn't me...) You don't buy it?? I'm not selling...

                Sure, why not let very religious people claim a lock on feeling "spiritual"... and continue to try  and put your definition in the mouths of people who do not see the word the way you limit it.

                Words mean different things to different people... And some try to limit some definitions for their own reasons...you do feel things the same as other people, that is a provable fact of physical reality... and feelings of oneness with an entirely physical universe are defined by many people as being spiritual... no "reality greater" kind of thing at all here.... just the totality of reality being breathtaking... or is that really something that you will not admit to...

                No spirits involved here... and anyway spirit has other meanings totally divorced from ghosts or supposed no-corporeal beings or super beings...

                Teen spirit...
                School Spirit,
                "She has Spirit"
                Spirit of 76,
                Spirited defense,
                Spirited away...
                spirit... as in alcohol, a distilled spirit...
                as in an essence of something, comprehending something such an essential understanding of something scientific... Even Einstein who was not a believer got off on the wonder of the universe etc.

                Does the general combination of letters s-p-i-r-i-t..etc... scare you off? Do you allow these meanings and shadings to inhabit your awareness? ....or are you afraid of admitting to certain feelings and/or linking them to a scary word that for some subconscious reason could lead to be defenseless to a slippery slope that will lead to worshiping idols, burning incense, waving feathers or running around with holy books communing with spirits... don't worry, it's perfectly safe to admit to "spiritoid" feelings that are completely Religion-null... it's not infectious or anything.

                Or you can continue to cling to a narrow safe definition of spiritual... and argue everything from that carefully limited point of view and of course it will be entirely internally consistent and locked down. I don't think there is anything or anyone who can say or do anything that might induce you to budge... the "I don't buy it" kind of people will never budge on a definition or shade of meaning for anyone or anything... A bit like very religious people... once defined things are kept that way...

                Easier than admitting that words are more nuanced and slippery not to mention evolving...

                Or is it that us non religious, but at least part time spiritual people with no unseen stuff involved that is not scientifically verifiable (other than electromagnetic waves and sub atomic stuff) are some how deceiving ourselves and are somehow subconsciously religious but are not honest enough with ourselves to admit it and cling to imagined spiritual feelings as a way of dealing with it.... ... Naaahhhh.

                ok I admit you are purer and more free of the taint of "Religion" than the rest of us who just can't let go of that last little thing... feeling

                but also you sound more rigid and less likely to see a connection with what you think and feel with what others do... so maybe you are less "spiritual" or whatever...

                Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                by IreGyre on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 01:10:36 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I'm not afraid of enything (4+ / 0-)

                  but you are clearly trying to sell something. In response to our collective objections, you've slowly diluted your definition of " spiritual" down until it has no effective meaning whatsoever, in your effort to get us to label ourselves with it.

                  Now, I have no particular objection to it as you have re-re-defined it, but I'm not convinced that that's actually what it means to you, and I'm quite certain that that's not what it means to the vast majority of people. Therefore, since I find your re-re-definition meaningless, and I don't consider the commonly-accepted definition to apply to me, I will continue to refuse to apply the term to myself. I am not spiritual. Why does that offend you?

                •  And why do you feel the need to insult me? (4+ / 0-)

                  but also you sound more rigid and less likely to see a connection with what you think and feel with what others do

                  Is it my writing style that bothers you? I do tend to write formally when I'm making an argument because it lessens the chances that I will be misunderstood. If we had a conversation that didn't begin with you asserting that I am something I'm not, you might have a different impression of me.

                  That being said, I find the above quote a bit rude.

                  •  Geez lighten up everyone... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    misreal

                    anyone can use any definition they want and believe that it is more correct than others...... but I still seem to detect some very sharp either-or, no gray areas allowed on the definition of one word which has many shades for many people both non-religious and the rest...

                    As for selling something... I wonder what I'm supposed to be selling? Am I being really definite about anything? Or am I selling vagueness, didn't think I was...is that bad...? I don't want to cause unrest.. I am just curious about people who are defensive about loosening up on certain fixed ideas... maybe I seem to see an inflexibility that I've seen before elsewhere in other people. Even agreeing to disagree is disagreeable to some people... and I perhaps like to learn more of what some people think and why they think that. But that may be prying... some people do not like to reveal much about what makes them tick... even to themselves... and some are easily insulted and more apt to see insults when none are meant... or they just seem to attract them and don't understand why...

                    Your feelings, that I'm sure you have, are the same as everyone else, and involve the same biological mechanisms. When you have emotions linked to certain perceptions... what you choose to label these experience and the way you think of them might be different and use different words and that is cool... I choose to call some of these a type of spirituality that is not connected to unverifiable myths and superstitions just as many others do... you obviously choose to use different words but whatever you choose to call those experiences and ideas they most likely feel the same to others regardless of word choice.

                    I assume that some aspects of your existence transcend the day to day.... for me the birth of my kids, reaching the summit of a mountain, watching a full solar eclipse on a hill in France and a bunch of other things that I enjoyed in a spiritual (my definition) kinda way... even really good music can do that...pleasure center ramped up, adrenaline up, other mood and cogitation chemical messengers up as well, and lots of good mental associations and ideas... feeling good in a special way... I mean Tantric sex is supposedly spiritual... Whirling dervishes and meditating types get off in a similar way it feels the same... they did some experiments with magnetic fields on the human brain and found that focusing on certain centers in the brain gave people "religious" or spiritual feelings... I wonder what you would feel in the same situation? I is all quantifiable and traceable and grounded in the physical..

                    There are joyless sorts who make almost a religion of denial of pleasure or anything uplifting for themselves, but I can't imagine that anyone here is that extreme. I suppose It's possible for some humans to be some sort of killjoy who not only gets some sort of reward for living a colorless life and if not ensuring that others live similar lives, that these sorts (and I do not include anyone reading this...) might take additional "pleasure" feeling better to those who are too weak to get rid of the crutch of needing events or experience that gets too close to some sort of "spirituality" even the non supernatural kind...

                    So don't think I am trying to take away your personal views on a certain word's definition... how could I? your choice is yours... it's not under attack just because I wonder about it... your reasons are your own and perhaps if I had led a similar life to yours I would have the same view as you and not the one I have with what I know for my reasons.

                    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                    by IreGyre on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 03:35:37 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  Why do you deny others their right to define them (6+ / 0-)

                  themselves?

                  Why do you insist on insulting people who don't accept your definition of them?

                  Why can you not accept that others have different worldviews than your own?

                  You continuously cross the line from debating beliefs to attacking the person.

                  Why?

                  One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                  by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:34:22 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  sounds like you have issues with other (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    MnplsLiberal

                    people in your life and for some reason need to extend it to me... If you perceive others denying your right to define yourself when they are not, I can only think you are defending against wrongs done to you in your past and cannot help but suspect more of the same from others...

                    A world view is different from basic emotions and feelings. We all have the same palette of responses and needs and the definitions and labels we use vary considerably. Just because 2 people who see the same amazing sunset have the same feelings does not mean that because one might be some sort of believer and the other a person who does not want or need any religion does not mean that different things are going on at a biochemical level in their brains... the same neuro-chemicals are triggering the same patterns...

                    But a higher conscious level they trigger different memories and associations and some different labels and meaning and words. If I use the same word to describe the feelings these 2 people have it does not mean that I think they have the same world view or that they should. And I don't think people need to decide that I am trying to insult people or deny them the right to anything. There is no hidden agenda no judgment no attempt to make anyone use any word in any way that does not make sense for them. Just to talk about an extended meaning of a word that I and many others WHO ARE NOT RELIGIOUS choose to use to describe some responses and feelings to certain events and situations. Agree, disagree fine, that's all it was...

                    Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                    by IreGyre on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 04:49:52 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Disingenuous, straw men, and personal attacks (5+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      gustynpip, kyril, BYw, Glacial Erratic, MikeNH

                      Stick to your definition... in case the the religious cooties get on ya..

                      Does the general combination of letters s-p-i-r-i-t..etc... scare you off? Do you allow these meanings and shadings to inhabit your awareness? ....or are you afraid of admitting to certain feelings and/or linking them to a scary word that for some subconscious reason could lead to be defenseless to a slippery slope that will lead to worshiping idols, burning incense, waving feathers or running around with holy books communing with spirits... don't worry, it's perfectly safe to admit to "spiritoid" feelings that are completely Religion-null... it's not infectious or anything.

                      you can continue to cling to a narrow safe definition of spiritual... and argue everything from that carefully limited point of view and of course it will be entirely internally consistent and locked down. I don't think there is anything or anyone who can say or do anything that might induce you to budge... the "I don't buy it" kind of people will never budge on a definition or shade of meaning for anyone or anything... A bit like very religious people... once defined things are kept that way...

                      I admit you are purer and more free of the taint of "Religion" than the rest of us who just can't let go of that last little thing... feeling

                      but also you sound more rigid and less likely to see a connection with what you think and feel with what others do... so maybe you are less "spiritual" or whatever...

                      These are all attacks on the character and credibility of the commenter, rather than substantive responses to content.

                      Now, in your response to me, you engage in more insulting pseudo-psychoanalysis in an attempt to discredit the messenger rather than engage the message.

                      I am not the only commenter here who has noted your tendencies to personally insult and engage in childish vendettas against individuals, rather than engage in honest intellectual debate.

                      It is unnecessary, and does your position no credit.

                      Your inability to admit error and apologize further discredits your argument.

                      One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                      by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:42:46 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  You do not engage in honest intellectual debate (3+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        misreal, IreGyre, createpeace

                        You are merely argumentative and legalistic. You employ semantic dodges and games. Your arguments are fundamentally dishonest and facile. There is no there there, just an ever shifting screed of hate.

                        •  It's unfortunate you feel that way (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          KMc, teachme2night

                          And even more unfortunate that you feel the need to post such an ugly personal assault - and to thrust it into an exchange that doesn't even involve you.

                          In point of fact, this particular thread began when an atheist posted gratuitous personal insults against a theist. I, an atheist myself, defended the target of the attacks and attempted to get the attacker to back off and to constrain his remarks to substantive issues.

                          I made no personal attacks myself, and quoted extensively from the attacker's comment to demonstrate precisely how he or she unnecessarily personalized the comments.

                          In point of fact, elsewhere in this diary, the same commenter dialed it back a little, and posted a substantive comment, which was met with substantive and constructive response.

                          That is the way to conduct oneself in honest intellectual debate.

                          Surely you see that your angry insults do not promote constructive and substantive dialog.

                          Since your comment is of the "when did you stop beating your wife" type, there is no substantive response I can give. Describing my comments as a "screed of hate" is so absurd, it is hard to take it seriously. One thing is certain, however; this comment of yours is certainly not an admirable example of how to conduct oneself here.

                          One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                          by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:27:10 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                        •  Given your hateful, dishonest, paranoid (0+ / 0-)

                          rantings in this thread, you're the last person on earth to be passing judgment.

                          But that's why you're funny, and that's why we always look forward to your posts.

                      •  Dear RandomA... Your comments are noted... (0+ / 0-)

                        I am not the only commenter here who has noted your tendencies to personally insult and engage in childish vendettas against individuals, rather than engage in honest intellectual debate.

                        It is unnecessary, and does your position no credit.

                        Your inability to admit error and apologize further discredits your argument.

                        golly....
                        (Childish vendettas??)
                        I was unaware of any need to apologize or apologize further... as far as that goes, I will take a wild guess that you rarely apologize for your own words when they are out of proportion to a discussion. Some people take offense easily and read ill intent into others words. I can only go by what you have written here which is admittedly an incomplete way to understand someone in a short time. But so far I can only surmise that this is not the only, less than cheerful, disagreement you have had on this site... certainly this topic has inspired you to contribute a sizable number of other comments to this diary and its many other comments.

                        You may have stronger opinions on some things than I do, but I rarely get into many disagreements with people on this site, maybe none... I've only been here maybe a couple of years, lurking for a few months and as a member but this is definitely a first for me. I have not until now been the subject of anyone's ire or discontent or creative characterizations at least not this much... It's a novel experience. Judging by the number of doughnuts you get; only 17 comments out of over 6000 in 2 years had hide ratings and they seem to have been rescued very consistently as well, so it's not all deserved and you obviously avoid the more egregious reasons for them. I have only produced a bit over 2000 comments in 2 years and still waiting for that first donut... I suppose that means I either don't stick my neck out very often and you are more forthright and outspoken and naturally might rub a few people the wrong way from time to time... or, that I may normally be a bit more congenial. Who can say.

                        Would I be wrong to suppose that you do not suffer fools gladly? And would I also be even more wrong to suppose that you are able to detect fools more easily and therefore seem to find them wherever you go in life at least a bit more than the average person and further feel obligated to call them on their misguided or misinformed notions? With only a small sample of your writing I will say that you seem to value logic... hence your handle here... which I take to be an amusing alternate to "Random acts of kindness". Am I right in assuming that for you, random acts of reason are more beneficial than the do-gooderness implied by the original phrase? And as always, it is better to give than to receive... but I wonder if the lucky recipients of the random acts whatever they are are not the final arbiters of how welcome the not so random bestowal is?

                        I perused the titles of a few hundred of your top rated comments just to get a general overall impression... seem to be generally of similar views/topics of interest as myself but the Didactic nature of many of them seemed to stand out. Impossible to say what inspired the relatively "in their face" titles,  a good few of them amounted to verbal slaps, and of course they may have been more than justified. But the sheer number of words that directly challenged the diarist or commenter in question as being ignorant or illogical or misguided was revelatory. I did see sprinkled throughout a fair number of kudos in the more positive titles, so it seems you are strict but fair and even magnanimous and will give credit where credit is due...

                        If you cared to comment, what do you think Dkos readers who find value in your words would identify as your greatest strength or contribution? a
                        and what do those who perhaps disagree with you are more likely to say was a failing or downside to your approach and contributions? I would not be surprised to to hear it might range from Fair and logical to, pompous and arrogant... from abrupt, abrasive and overbearing to loyal and insightful and who knows what else. You know better that I. I would assume that reactions would range widely and not just be in the bland middle.... If I bump into your comments in future I will take care and try and measure up to your debate standards...

                        Pogo & Murphy's Law, every time. Also "Trust but verify" - St. Ronnie

                        by IreGyre on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:58:15 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't believe that spirituality has much to do (20+ / 0-)

          with religion.  Religion is a man made  construct to control people.  Spirituality ia man's volunatary relationship with his universe and life long struggle to  find his place in the scheme of things.

          Sort of like Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, part comedy, part tragedy and whole heap of randomness.

        •  link to reference (0+ / 0-)

          http://www.keeneonline.com/...

          I actually bought the book, and it is highly recommended to
          the Atheist who is interested in political activism, because it teaches you to crush the right winger bullshit "values" arguments, and you will win any argument about - abortion, gay rights, name any hot button wedge issue.

        •  Try reading it literally in the original language (13+ / 0-)

          The old testament is anything but monotheistic.

          Read the Pentateuch without the religious gloss and you get a very different story than what passes for scripture today.

          The names for god in the Old testament refer to Yahwah (power of the air), el shaddai (lord of the land or earth), moloch ( the power of fire) and el roi the lord of the well or water), el, al, iah, lah, elim, allah collectively as male and female plurals.

          Thats not paganism but natural philosophy.

          The covenants with the various deities often as not refer to the consorts, sons, and other relations of principle deities with their attributes.

          How the various people of the book deal with prophets, saints, relics, the sacred and the profane, demons, cherubim, angels, and pantheons of deities ought to make anyone taking religion on faith raise a few questions just out of historical interest in the process of the transformation of scripture from what it said originally to what it says now.

          Live Free or Die --- Investigate, Incarcerate

          by rktect on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:12:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sounds like a much more interesting religion (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rktect, ubertar, kyril, cgirard

            Not necessarily a nicer one, but more interesting.

            I made a project of reading Milton's "Paradise Lost" a number of years ago.  I found the subversive elements in the poem very interesting:  Satan being the most interesting character; a sort of pre-existing fundamental structure of the universe (The existence of the Pit); the powers of Chaos and Old Night as other entities apart from God and His Creation.

        •  I am not spiritual at all. (0+ / 0-)

          Yet I am a progressive.

          You're confusing humanistic beliefs with a belief in the supernatural.

      •  Do you know what I'm waiting for? (8+ / 0-)

        For an atheist defending his beliefs (because that's what they are, whether you like it or not) to figure out it's incredibly irritating and offensive to say "I don't want you misunderstanding what I believe, and nothing anybody who believes the same way does has anything to do with me, and by the way, your beliefs are the cause of everything wrong with the world, and look at how these other people who sort of believe the same things are behaving, and your beliefs are complete and total nonsense--why are you so intolerant."  :)

        If you're going to say this guy's strongly anti-christian views had NOTHING to do with his murderous behavior, you really come across as a jerk when you assume religious people who kill would have been perfectly fine if they just hadn't been religious.

        It's not what you believe, but how you believe it--and how much you respect the choices of others to believe differently.  And in the case of many atheists, there is a total lack of appreciation--a sense that everybody else is crazy.  And there's no dialogue that can fix that.  You have to rid yourselves of the notion that you have the answer.  Because if everybody was an atheist, there would still be homophobia, racism, and other fanatical irrational points of view, and it gets a bit silly to say Pol Pot and Stalin and Mao had NOTHING to do with atheism.  

        Show respect for the beliefs of others--that's where it starts.   Not with saying "Well, let's have a dialogue, but remember everything you believe is crazy, and I'm perfectly sane."

        :D

        •  Yeah. (17+ / 0-)

          I don't believe almost any of the things you ascribe to me. If you want to have a serious dialogue about our beliefs I am happy to do so.

          However, I will not give automatic respect to any idea. Ideas earn respect based on their merit and they are all open to criticism - even mine, especially mine.

          If you care to discuss it, feel free to ask me any specific question about my beliefs - I always appreciate the learning experience of having to defend my ideas. Or you can state what you believe and why. Either way I think we'll learn more about the ideas discussed.

          Peace

          We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

          by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:56:00 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Notice that I have offered... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Cartoon Messiah, BYw, teachme2night

            ... to have an open and honest discussion with everyone who recc'd the comment above, and they have all declined - while continuing to post small-minded jabs against non-believers throughout the thread.

            My offer still stands if anyone want to have a mature and thoughtful discussion.

            We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

            by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:37:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  So what are your beliefs? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Chicagoa
              •  Thank you for responding. (0+ / 0-)

                I am glad you are interested in discussing ideas, I genuinely appreciate your response.

                I suppose I must answer your question with a question of my own: about what?

                I have many beliefs on many different issues, and I would be happy to discuss any and all of them. If you ask a specific question I will gladly answer. :)

                Thanks again for your reply.

                We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:47:58 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  How about the price of wheat in China? (0+ / 0-)

                  Or maybe the topic of this diary.

                  I'm not interested in playing hide and seek though.

                  •  You want my beliefs on whether or not atheism... (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    KMc, misreal, BYw

                    ... is a belief system?

                    I would agree with the diarist, I believe that most self-described atheists use the philosophical definition:

                    Lacking belief in a deity.

                    That's all it takes to be an atheist. There can be atheists who believe in astrology, libertarianism, or anything that they choose. There is no unifying set of principles for atheists, and they can and will vehemently disagree on fundamental ideas.

                    We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                    by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:59:05 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  What is "deity"? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Chicagoa

                      A force that is greater than oneself?

                      •  Good question. (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        misreal, BYw

                        I think we would have to say that based upon the usage "deity" refers to a supernatural being. There are people who believe in supernatural forces that still call themselves atheists, though they are unusual.

                        We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                        by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:10:35 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  The Theists define that term (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        BYw

                        An Atheist is simply one who is not a theist.

                        I do not get bogged down on individual god concepts it's part of why I don't call myself either a "weak" lack of belief in vs. "strong" belief in a lack of god(s) atheist.

                        Some god concepts are specific enough and can be logicaly or otherwise diproven in such cases I am a strong atheist believing in a lack of that specific god concept. ( the vengeful Yaweh from the Christian bible for instance or Zues)

                        Some god concepts are vague enough to not be easily dismissed outright such as the hands off Deistic god. Or some pantheistic concepts.

                        Others are so abstract as to make consideration of their existence/lack there of to be unworthy of further attention. As in some concepts of pantheism, spinoza's god and other hands off abstract conceptualizations who's existence lack there of would have no effect on reality one way or the other and as such aren't really worthy of belief or lack their off.

                        So once again I fall back on atheist as not a theist.

            •  reply was non-responsive (0+ / 0-)

              to the original post on any of its relevant points. That is probably why there wasn't much follow up.

              Either that or you were way to reasonable and that just doesn't cut it when you are trying to get a reaction. A few more outrageous claims would have increased the response tremendously.

              The point I got from the original post you replied to was that most people, including athiests, are intolerant of other people's beliefs. He seemed to be focusing on intolerant athiests but in my experience there is more than enough intolerance to go around from pretty much everyone.

        •  Oh please (17+ / 0-)

          The voice of privilege. Liberal Christians think they couldn't possibly be part of the problem, could they? Look, I tend to keep to myself what I think of religious belief. You know why? a) it might be considered rude, and b) IT MIGHT NOT BE SAFE.

          You're worried about whether I "respect" your beliefs - I have to concern myself as to who at work I can trust and what my bosses might think. I never know who is going to reject me out of hand because of what I don't believe.  Whining from the people who dominate society just makes me roll my eyes.

          Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

          by tcorse on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:10:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Straw man (8+ / 0-)

          You've set up a terrible straw man argument by ascribing undesirable traits to an entire group, e.g. "a total lack of appreciation". As such, your argument is pointless.

          But I will say this. A big issue in the atheist/theist views of the world is epistemology: how do we judge what is true? In general, I suspect that most atheists insist on evidence-based data and reason for their often tentative and evolving beliefs as regards the workings of the world.

          Many (certainly not all) theists are satisfied with interpretations of "revealed" scripture for their often rigid and unchanging views of reality.

          The first method has resulted in modern medicine, cosmology, physics, chemistry, and a host of inventions and technologies that potentially increase our knowledge and improve our quality of life. In other words, it has an incredible success record.

          The other method has produced none of these things. In fact, it has only retreated into the "gaps" where science has yet to explain adequately. And again and again the first method disproves the theories that the second method has insisted upon (e.g. Earth being at the center of the universe or being 6000 years old).

          Considering this, it makes psychological sense that some atheists would have contempt for the second method, not only for its poor track record of offering accurate and testable beliefs about the world, but for its often unjust political conclusions (e.g. those regarding women, gays, etc).

          You are probably right that things like homophobia and racism would still exist if "everyone were an atheist", since those have more to do with education than religion...but based on the first method, there is reason to believe that it would be far reduced.

          Lakoff: progressivism = empathy, responsibility, and improvement

          by J Ash Bowie on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:54:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  This is exactly right (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          createpeace

          "It's not what you believe, but how you believe it"

          Not for atheists. For them it's the opposite. What one believes is of primary importance. One must hold the right beliefs, SCIENCE! Other than that anything goes. Any behavior online is accepted no matter how vile. Publishing people personal info, any and all manner of personal attack is A OK with them.

          "You have to rid yourselves of the notion that you have the answer."

          But atheists honestly believe that they and they alone posses the truth. It's science or math, there is no other truth for them. Culture is just pretty pictures and pretty words. That entire dimension is lacking for them.

          "Show respect for the beliefs of others--that's where it starts."

          This they will never do. Everyone who does not believe like them is WRONG. How can you respect someone who believes in a lie?

          •  None of what you say is true (6+ / 0-)

            of atheists in general. I don't know why I shouldn't be offended by this sort of slander.

            Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
            A yam.
            What a Yam!
            And that's all that - A yam.

            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:49:46 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  It's how I feel (0+ / 0-)

              Especially after today.

              Today I got angry and said some hurtful things. Then I tried to apologize but apparently my capitulation was not total enough.

              In my experience, only confirmed after today, atheists do not give a fuck how you feel. They attack and attack and attack and attack and attack. They want nothing but your complete abject submission.

              I feel completely alienated from a large portion of DKos here. I wish I had a kill file so that I would never ever see certain people here ever again.

              •  I care about how people feel (5+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                KMc, Sychotic1, misreal, Chicagoa, BYw

                But you are not expressing hurt feelings, you are saying things that aren't true. When you say "atheists do not give a fuck how you feel," that doesn't tell me that you felt hurt when someone said something in particular. Instead I feel hurt and perceive that because I'm an atheist, you think I don't care about anything. I too have felt alienated here from time to time, as I'm sure others have, but for different reasons. As an atheist, I feel alienated in the world at large on a daily basis. I try to be civil to people in either case.

                Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
                A yam.
                What a Yam!
                And that's all that - A yam.

                by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:25:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  I agree with Aaron. (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Sychotic1, BYw, teachme2night

                I don't see anyone being cruel or mean to you, attacking you, or saying the things you claim they said about you.

                You continue to ascribe personality traits to atheists and make generalizations about what we believe, and when we point out that that your stereotypes are inaccurate representations of real people - you act like we're insulting you personally.

                We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:33:42 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I feel personally insulted (0+ / 0-)

                  Feelings are not rational, you can't control them. At least I can't. And I get "hijacked" by me feelings. They completely overwhelm me and I am no longer me, I'm someone else. I know why, there is a reason, but I'd rather not discuss it.

                  It would be nice if I could always be calm cool and collected. That just doesn't seem to happen though.

                  •  Why? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Sychotic1, BYw

                    Why do you feel personally insulted when someone disagrees with you?

                    We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                    by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:41:08 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Not always (0+ / 0-)

                      Just with some things. Some issues are a part of who I am. So it feels that when some people mock and deride those beliefs they are mocking me. I know I am not supposed to feel that way but I do and I don't seem to be able to divorce myself from certain beliefs.

                      •  Then why not defend the ideas? (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        BYw

                        If you identify strongly with particular ideas you may be able to learn a lot from discussing and defending them. it will probably help you feel better too, whereas ad hominem attacks on those who disagree just exacerbates the situation.

                        Wouldn't you agree?

                        We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

                        by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:48:55 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  I understand that (0+ / 0-)

                    many of us have emotional difficulties of one form or another. For some of us it is easier in a way, because these difficulties don't manifest themselves in an outwardly disruptive way. But that doesn't mean we don't have problems with real consequences.

                    I'm in no position to give advice. All I can do is tell you how I feel and think about things. I think I've already said that I felt hurt and insulted after reading some of what you wrote, just as you felt hurt and insulted after reading things. In any case, I have no ill will toward you or any other religious person. Not sure what else to say, so I'll leave it at that.

                    Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
                    A yam.
                    What a Yam!
                    And that's all that - A yam.

                    by AaronInSanDiego on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 08:30:20 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Stat. (0+ / 0-)

                    I get "hijacked" by me feelings. They completely overwhelm me and I am no longer me, I'm someone else.

                    No, you are yourself. Someone gave you the word "hijacked" yesterday in another thread and you seized upon it instantly as a way of absolving yourself of responsibility for the hateful shit you said in this thread about Aspies and atheists.

                    I know why, there is a reason, but I'd rather not discuss it.

                    You've mentioned it elsewhere. But taking responsibility for what you do is still what adults learn to do.

              •  Hi! You did not apologize. You didn't even (0+ / 0-)

                apologize to Aspies -- the people you most insanely slandered.

                And after your non-apology, you came back to this thread and started all over again.

                The point is, you have no regard for other people's feelings and no control over your own. You are driven by uncontrollable rage (by your own admission) -- yet you see yourself as a victim.

            •  I agree but (0+ / 0-)

              an in-your-face "evangelical" athiest is every bit as annoying as a bible thumping repent-or-burn-in-hell christian out witnessing to the heathen. Luckily most people, irrespective of their belief or non-belief in God, aren't so annoying and I don't have a problem with them.

              A lot of the pushback against the diary is basically the idea that boorish behavior by athiests is no better than boorish behavior by Christians.

          •  Dude, you're losing ity again. (0+ / 0-)

            atheists honestly believe that they and they alone posses the truth. It's science or math, there is no other truth for them. Culture is just pretty pictures and pretty words. That entire dimension is lacking for them.

            You're back on that same rant about your insane Atheist=Aspie < Human obsession.

            You will wind up banned if you can't control this hateful nonsense.

        •  I'm starting to wonder if these atheists (0+ / 0-)

          who are doing the thing you're saying are really really young. Certainly their rhetoric lacks polish, and the logic that they claim to hold so dear.

      •  I don't know who slurs atheists. Yet, the attacks (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        sam storm

        I pay attention to are the ones that ignore our collective foundation found in the 'Bill of Rights' and 'The Constitution of the United States of America', which, I think cover, the right to one's beliefs short of maiming, killing, and lesser bullshit.

        "They pour syrup on shit and tell us it's hotcakes." Meteor Blades

        by JugOPunch on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 05:30:56 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you Dr. Frist for your diagnosis (9+ / 0-)

      You say, Re Pol Pot and Stalin:

      Their lack of blief wasn't the reason they murdered people.  They were sociopaths.

      Scott Roeder on the other hand, killed George Tiller because, in his religious beliefs

      You don't know why these people did what they did. You certainly cannot know tha one crazed killer acted on his beliefs while another was a sociopath.

      You are entitled to your opinion, but it is unsubstantiated.

      "It's the planet, stupid."

      by FishOutofWater on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:29:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I am a Tip Jar atheist (10+ / 0-)

      I think they are lame and I never post them in my diary, and I never before have "tipped" anyone.  But I did this time.  Great article.  Now I just hope that some people actually read it with an open mind and learn something.  Though I'm afraid it will result in mostly preaching to the choir.

    •  I Don't Believe in This Diary (0+ / 0-)

      Why should I?

    •  Thank you for clarifying my views on this for me! (13+ / 0-)

      Very well written & explained.
      I guess I'm a 'soft' atheist.
      I'm not opposed to the idea of there being a 'god', I'm opposed to anyone telling others what their thoughts on 'god' should be. To me, it's all about person choice/belief. I prefer choosing not to believe.

      Peace - Is it really too much to work for?

      by BigVegan on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:00:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I feel that the belief in God (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Hyuga, sandblaster, rgjdmls, Amber6541, cgirard

      stems from our inability to comprehend the fact that the universe, in one form or another, has always existed. Infinity into the future is a concept that is far easier to get our heads around than infinity into the past. In our "world", all things began at some point. It is easier to comprehend a spiritual (and magical) being always existing than it is to do the same for all matter never having been created. That is my take on it.
      Besides, I think my atheism is all part God's plan! ;-)

      Today's GOP - If You Don't Like Someone, Kill Them. It's OK By Us!

      by kitebro on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:13:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  if you are interested you should read (7+ / 0-)

        joseph campbell's work on comparitive religions.  there are very clear evolutionary biological and anthropological foundations for the propensity for humankind to 'believe'.  we are also hard wired to be critical rational thinkers.  the question is in a modern society with a very thorough understanding of the natural world do we still need to be beholdent to the more primitive lack of knowledge leads to fear leads to necessary supernatural/anthropomorphic explanation paradigm or can we dispense with this and move forward as an adult and evolved species where we are capable of dealing with uncertainty with a drive to discover evidence based truth instead of fear and a need to 'explain' with mythology at all costs?

        No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith. - Thomas Paine (-5.75, -4.65)

        by whoisjohngalt on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:26:27 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm interested. (0+ / 0-)

          Which of his books do you recommend? Thanks.

          •  well.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            cgirard

            the hero with a thousand faces is a good one book introduction to his basic comparative mythological premises.  if you find that interesting you can read his 4 volume work The Masks Of God which covers everything from the beginnings of primitive mythologies to both eastern and western religions and their interactions/common roots.  it is more scholarly but very very important to understanding the common threads and evolution of religious systems.

            No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith. - Thomas Paine (-5.75, -4.65)

            by whoisjohngalt on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:53:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  With respect to Campbell, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bvig, MPociask

          he's an interesting philosopher with interesting ideas, but you should not represent him as a scientific authority on human evolution.

          Asserting that humans are "hard-wired" for anything is essentially an unscientific argument of human exceptionalism. it is also absurd on its face. All available evidence suggests that humans, like all other living things on Earth, evolved from earlier life forms. Unless you are positing that the brain structures that enable critical thinking in humans are present, in atavistic form, in lesser ancestors - which is empirically false, given current scientific knowledge.

          Campbell's work preceded the bulk of modern cognitive science. It is like the work of insightful philosophers prior to Darwin, or Newton - limited by what was known at the time.

          Furthermore, the very premise of evolutionary psychology is dubious, and not at all the matter of scientific consensus. Far from it.

          Finally, the existence, throughout recorded history, of atheists, disproves the notion that belief in god is in any way either "necessary" or "essential" or "hard-wired" into human cognition.

          Campbell is interesting, but like many in his field, he tends to see everything through the narrow lens of his pet theories. That is one of the key differentiators between empirical, hard science, and soft scientific disciplines -  hard science is driven uncompromisingly by evidence, and it is considered illegitimate to make bold assertions or extrapolations unsubstantiated by evidence.

          There is, in fact, little evidence that belief in a god is any more prevalent or persistence than many other false beliefs and misunderstandings humans have about the physical world.

          One bit of empirical evidence we do have, is that, the more individuals know about the workings of the natural world, the less they tend to believe in a god. For example, among leading scientists, theism is quite rare; among leading physicists, chemists and biologists, rarer than among economists, philosophers or computer engineers; among Nobel Laureates, rarest of all.

          It turns out that, once one is sufficiently up to date with today's scientific knowledge, the god hypothesis, to paraphrase Laplace, is not necessary.

          There is a reason organized religion is so uneasy about scientific progress. The march of science sounds the death-knell of religion.

          One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

          by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 03:18:26 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  uh. that was a nice long rant in (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MPociask

            response to none of what i was saying.  i did not represent him as an expert on human evolution i represented him as an expert on the evolution of human belief, religion, mythology and culture.  

            the fact is there are some very sound reasons that a propensity for credulousness and anthropomorphic belief might have been selected for in early cognitive beings, evolutionarily speaking.  

            once the early human brain gained sufficient size and complexity it was faced with a different interaction with the natural world than perhaps previous non "higher reasoning" animals would have had.

            admittedly there is still much research to be done into the hard science but anthropology and comparative religion isn't exactly "astrology".  like i stated it is a "soft science" and it has contributed much to our understanding of role that belief systems and their attendant social and ritualistic aspects have played on the development and stabilization of pre-scientific human civilization.

            and while increased scientific understanding of the world does tend to increase the likelihood of non belief, the skepticism that is part of the scientific mindset being closely linked with incredulity, it is not always sufficient to deter such. some display a curious ability to both be highly rational and scientific but also able to compartmentalize an irrationality that allows for a fervent belief in religion.  this is what i think is so fascinating.  some people seem to be more inclined to disbelief even before they have a thorough understanding of the natural world (myself for instance) tied perhaps to a more inquisitive and skeptical nature (which might also lead one to fulfill such a nature by persuing answers in a scientific manner more aligned with said nature) and there seem to be those that are inclined towards maintaining an suspension of rationality (either in whole or part) necessary for belief in religion even with a very deep scientific understanding of the natural world. i would suspect that there is some underlying neurological difference between these two scenarios (and there is preliminary cognitive studies that show different brain development patterns in those inclined and not inclined towards religiosity.

            i do agree of course that either way external influences can play a big role in overcoming any propensity one might have and thus the way forward to form an entirely rational secular society finally free from the superstition of religion would be to do as much as possible to increase scientific methodology, understanding and learning of in its citizenry.  

            No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith. - Thomas Paine (-5.75, -4.65)

            by whoisjohngalt on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 06:46:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Evolutionary psychology is a controversial (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pasadena beggar

              subject, and is rejected by many as a legitimate field of scientific study.

              the fact is there are some very sound reasons that a propensity for credulousness and anthropomorphic belief might have been selected for in early cognitive beings, evolutionarily speaking.

              Actually, there are strong reasons to be skeptical that the processes governing natural selection would come into play so specifically over the course of the relatively short period of time since the human cerebral cortex evolved, and the even shorter time since modern consciousness and language, which many believe is essential for the development of concepts such as "god", emerged. Most particularly, the structures in the brain and the particular type of neurons and neuronal clusters that the latest research suggests is most responsible for the sense of self, evolved latest of all - in evolutionary times, too recently for concepts like religiosity to be effected by natural selection.

              It is questionable whether "early cognitive beings" had anything like "credulousness and anthropomorphic belief". It is questionable whether any animals other than human beings have them today, even animals with a cerebral cortex and clear manifestations of consciousness.

              Like tools use, it is more likely that religious concepts are a spandrel of modern brains, not a cause of their evolution. The imperfections of natural selection produced brains that are vulnerable to misfirings and alteration by chemicals and stress, inducing hallucinatory feelings which we came to interpret as "religious", using the language and civilization which were very late manifestations of our evolutionary history.

              I personally doubt that evolutionary psychology, as currently practiced, has much to contribute in our understanding of human behavior. Rather, I think it is founded on an unscientific premise and consists mostly of post hoc rationalizations, rather than illuminating new understanding. YMMV.

              One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

              by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:12:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  One thing I always found interesting (0+ / 0-)

            about scientists and theistic beliefs is that the more abstract the field the more likely a sceitiest to be a theist. So you will find very few theistic physisists or biologists but more than a few mathmaticians who are theistic.

    •  That's a pretty accurate summation of where I'm (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChurchofBruce, gmb, kyril, Amber6541, cgirard

      at as well as most of the atheists I know personally. Well done.

      Kelly McCullough - WebMage, Cybermancy, CodeSpell, and MythOS available from ACE books (Penguin)

      by KMc on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:27:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thank you (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ChurchofBruce, gmb, Hyuga, rgjdmls, kyril, cgirard

      What a great diary. I have never used the term atheist to describe myself I guess I felt it was too strong. However, after reading this I know now that is exactly what I am. Thank you.

      The christian right, is neither.

      by JanG on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:36:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This atheist here wholly approves. (14+ / 0-)

      Atheists pay taxes, as I do, atheists love their children, as I do, atheists care about their fellow men & women, as I do, atheists wish ALL would be equal, as I do.

      I'm half the twitter I used to be!

      by Asinus Asinum Fricat on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:40:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  One more thing: according to the tenets of (20+ / 0-)

      argumentation, the burden of proof is on believers to prove that there is a god, not on atheists to prove that there isn't.

      If I claim that there's a pink elephant in my living room, it's up to me to prove that there is, not up to you to prove that there isn't. For atheists, a god is no more real than a pink elephant in a living room.

      •  good point. eom (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mariva, kyril
      •  More specifically... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gmb, kyril, cgirard, annominous

        The person asserting a claim has the burden of proof.  So as a strong-ish atheist, I do have to prove my claim that there is no god.  A weak atheist, on the other hand, has nothing to prove.

        [Kind of off-topic, but let me qualify "strong-ish atheist":  Given overwhelming evidence for some sort of god I would believe it, once I've ascertained that I'm not dreaming, hallucinating, schizophrenic, or otherwise being duped.  But I do believe that such a thing is incredibly unlikely and not the least bit necessary to exist.  And while I don't think I can prove that, I do admit that it's up to me to convince others of this.]

        •  Most people who claim to believe, really don't. (0+ / 0-)

          Your post touches on a point I've pondered before. Here is my roundabout proof that even self-proclaimed believers in god really don't believe:

          People who suffer from schizophrenia hear voices in their heads (poor things). They believe the god(s) are talking to them. As an atheist, I doubt that is possible; however, believers in god should conversely admit that it is a possiblility. Nevertheless it is ordinary (and humane) for these folks to be treated medically for mental illness, with the goal of quietening the voices.

          If the majority of people really believed in the existence of god(s), the schizophrenics would be labeled instead as mystics, and left in peace to commune with their god(s).

          I've never heard any self-proclaimed believer protest the medical treatment of schizophrenics on the basis that their communications with god should not be interrupted.

        •  And of course (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, cgirard

          even if you can show all those things - how do we know it's not just really, really advanced aliens? But I fully agree - the "necessity" point is spot on.

          Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

          by tcorse on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:30:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I believe in electromagnetic energy (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      I can prove that exists.  Beyond that ... who knows?

      Rocket science is easy. Keeping house is hard.

      by Im a frayed knot on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:05:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Is that really a "belief"? If one (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, cgirard

        can prove the existence of something, accepting its existence is not really a belief in the sense of believing in something that cannot be proven.  Belief in the religious sense is about having faith instead of proof.  In other words, I would say I accept that electromagnetic energy exists contingent on future research to confirm or deny its existence.  

        I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had. - Margaret Mead

        by fayea on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:23:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kyril, cgirard

          I would say technically yes. It is a belief in empiricism as the best route to knowledge about the natural world. However, given the preponderance of evidence of the efficacy of empiricism, it's a premise that rests on pretty solid ground. Anything that replaces empiricism would have to explain why empiricism seems to works so well (in the sense that relativity allows for Newtonian physics to appear correct on the scale of day-to-day human life).

          Conservatives believe evil comes from violating rules. Liberals believe evil comes from violating each other.

          by tcorse on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:35:35 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ironic concept: to believe in empiricism. (0+ / 0-)

            It seems a sort of sacrilege - but using that word is even more ironic.

            I was wise enough to never grow up while fooling most people into believing I had. - Margaret Mead

            by fayea on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:39:37 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  while I understand what you're saying... (6+ / 0-)

      ...I find that atheists (at least the ones I've experienced here) often fall into the same intellectual trap:  That because they don't have a belief system, they aren't susceptible to some of the ills that plague religions.  Some mistakenly believe that because they use reason to form their judgements about God and/or lack thereof, that people who are religious do not and are by extension, unreasonable or irrational.  This way of thinking can lead to all manner of logical fallacies that, as an outside observer of both sides of the argument, appear to mirror each other.  Hence the perception of Dogma.

      Each side uses it's belief that they are right (not to be confused with belief in God or no belief in God), to completly discount and ignore the arguments of the other side without recognizing the possibility that both sides may be right or wrong.  This is anthema to reason.  You can only judge your own experiences, you cannot judge the experiences of others becuase you did not experience them.  If someone claims to have had a profound spiritual or divine experience, who are any of us to judge the right or wrong of it?

      Rather than trying to argue that people are right or wrong, reasonable or irrational, rather than making judgements about PEOPLE, we should be focusing on the results of one's actions, beliefs or thought processes.

      It doesn't matter if someone thinks Jesus saved them (or whatever other profound spiritual experience in their life), what matters is what they do with that belief.  Do they use it to do good in the world?  To better themselves?  To condemn others?  to harm or kill others?  That is what we should all be focusing on.

      This whole "I'm right, you're wrong" argument is bullshit becuase the answer can never been truely known by anyone!

      You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

      by DawnG on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:28:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  my response (10+ / 0-)

        I think, objectively, religious people are irrational, and I think if I were to personally have a religious experience that I couldn't deny, I would have to admit that I myself was irrational to believe it, even if I couldn't convince myself otherwise.

        Believing in anything that doesn't manifest itself in our reality is not rational.  Period.

        It doesn't matter if someone thinks Jesus saved them (or whatever other profound spiritual experience in their life), what matters is what they do with that belief.

        That's a cop out because do you know anyone who claims they were saved by Jesus but doesn't act on that belief?  No of course not, that's the whole point.  

        And, I wouldn't care at all if someone believed that, if not for the fact that they are going to push that viewpoint on others, including their children, and the rest of us are going to have to fight for scientists to have the right to use stem cells, or for women to have reproductive rights, or for ID to not be taught as science in our schools.

        •  But that is the key right there: (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          amsterdam, MPociask

          Believing in anything that doesn't manifest itself in our reality is not rational.

          If a tree falls in the forest and you're the only one to hear it, how do you REALLY know it made a sound?  Or ever that it fell at all?

          We depend on our senses to tell us what is real and what is not.  If you're going to go about denying what other people have experienced as real, then how do you know your own senses are not fooling you?  If that is so, we can't even prove anything exists outside of our own minds.  We could all be brains in a jar and reality couold be nothing more than an induced simulation for all we know.

          If trusting what your sense tell you is real is rational, then why is someone else trusting what their senses tell them is real is irrational?

          You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

          by DawnG on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:26:29 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've always found "the tree falling did it make a (9+ / 0-)

            sound" argument to be a fallacy.

            It is usually stated as "if a tree falls in the forest (but it could be anywhere) and there is no one to hear it, did it make a sound?".

            The question isn't: Did the tree fall? We're agreed from the problem statement that there was a tree and that it fell.

            This is a physics problem: Given there was air in the forest (ok, given), the tree's fall would have created sound waves. The real question is: If there is no one with ears to detect the sound waves given off when the tree fell, did the tree's fall make a sound?

            Now you have to ask: Must the ears be human ears? Would a wood-tick's ears do? Is there a real forest that could have no wood ticks? What about bark beetles?

            The question revolves around the presence or absence of a receptor for the sound waves, which seems kind of arrogant, from the point of view of the tree. Well, you see this can go on in a very silly manner indefinitely, and it is no way to approach the problem.

            This is why scientists like plenty of carefully selected monitoring instruments, with data loggers and telemetry.

            •  Umm...well.. (0+ / 0-)

              ...that's not the actual question I used as a comparison for a reason.

              If you want to explain how the original is incorrect that's fine, but it's not what I was talking about.

              You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

              by DawnG on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 07:34:17 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I thought you were using that analogy to support (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pasadena beggar, BYw

                your point. I wanted to discuss that "tree falling in the woods" analogy that you used, in the context that sound can't be confirmed without a sensor. This is actually a standard problem in physics, and not an obscure philosophical mystery, though it is sometimes applied philosophically, as you did.

                Your main point, to paraphrase your posts as I understand them, is that subjective reality, as experienced by participants, trumps objective reality. You seemed to be saying that objective reality doesn't have any verifiable existence outside of the subjective experiences of the participants.

                If I'm correct in this paraphrase, then I think I did address your original point when I stated:

                This is why scientists like plenty of carefully selected monitoring instruments, with data loggers and telemetry.

                Please correct me if I'm wrong.

                Personally, I don't think we are brains in jars. Furthermore, if/when we get delusional, someone eventually tells us. Absent someone sharing a very unwelcome diagnosis with us, it is wisest to apply Occam's Razor and assume we are not delusional, and we are not brains in jars.

                In the physical sciences, we believe in objective reality, and we try to measure it in our experiments. That's our job.

                The elimination of subjective bias is addressed during the experiment design stage. We follow standard practice, unless our experiment is so new that there is no established standard.

                If the experiment isn't designed right, it's usually discovered in the data analysis phase, and is rectified after the fact, if possible. If the error isn't caught until peer review, well ... it's a career breaker. That's one good reason that most science is done on the buddy system, in teams.

                Perhaps the same practices are not true in the social sciences. I can't speak for them

          •  anti-scientific rhetoric (9+ / 0-)

            If a tree falls in the forest and you're the only one to hear it, how do you REALLY know it made a sound?  Or ever that it fell at all?

            Whether or not anyone is there to hear it, the motion of the tree through the air displaces a volume of air which, in turn, propagates motion out in a wave form which is all "sound" is. Perception of sound, which is the result of sound waves impinging on a device that translates that sound into a form our brains can interpret, is not the same as the acoustic physical reality of sound.

            If you're going to go about denying what other people have experienced as real, then how do you know your own senses are not fooling you?

            You are confusing the reality of a phenomena, with the subjectivity of its interpretation.

            If I create a crop circle in a field, and you see it later and believe it was created by aliens, is your belief correct, merely because you believe it?

            No matter what you believe, there is still the reality that I created the crop circle. Your belief is based on a misinterpretation of the phenomena.

            So, when I challenge your belief and present evidence to support that challenge, I am not denying the reality of your "experience"; I am merely pointing out the error of your interpretation.

            If you deny the legitimacy of that basic form of human logic, then all bet are off, and we cannot discuss anything.

            Clearly, you do not actually believe that all claims are equal, that nothing another person believes can be challenged. Your very sig line contradicts your comments.

            If trusting what your sense tell you is real is rational, then why is someone else trusting what their senses tell them is real is irrational?

            A rational thinker most definitely does not trust their senses. Everyone knows that our senses can fool us. That is the whole reason behind the scientific method - to reduce and filter out individual perception errors and ensure that we separate perceived experience from reality.

            Trusting what one's senses tell one is a pre-scientific worldview. Abandoning that fiction has been the basis of all human progress over the past couple of hundred years. I doubt even you would like to wipe that all out and return to an era where we had no way to distinguish between illusion and reality.

            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 03:50:45 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  My point is... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              MPociask

              ...that your senses are what tells you happening in the world around you.  You talk about "reality" as if it were completely knowable and self evident, and yet a hundred people can see the same event and all of them differently.

              "reality" is not completely knowable anymore than the universe is completely knowable.  We are bound by the limitations of what our senses say is real.  It's ridiculous to make judgements about whether other people's experiences are real or not real when your own perception is no more perfect than theirs.

              You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

              by DawnG on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 07:38:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Your point is a statement of faith, not fact (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                pasadena beggar, BYw, Skex

                You talk about "reality" as if it were completely knowable and self evident, and yet a hundred people can see the same event and all of them differently.

                It doesn't matter if a hundred people see a Madonna "weeping", that doesn't make it a miraculous occurrence. If the "weeping" has a natural explanation (as all of these alleged "miracles" turn out to have), such as accumulating rainwater seeping out through a crack in the stone, then that is what it is.

                Was the Earth flat when most people believed it was? Were people with dark skin inferior and was slavery a natural part of the order of things back when most people held that belief? Were women incapable of voting or working out of the home when that was widely believed?

                If enough people believe that 2 + 2 is 5, will that become true?

                Your statement is contradicted by all evidence. Reality is what it is, independent of belief.

                Since our senses are known to be unreliable, we have devised instruments to measure things our senses cannot be relied upon by themselves. We devise experiments that can be reproduced by others at will, to ensure that our experience was not idiosyncratic.

                If you believe that what is real depends on what you believe, try believing really, really have that you can fly, and then jump out of a tall building. I assure you your body will obey the consistent laws of physics, not the laws of your wishful thinking.

                It is not ridiculous to say that you are wrong when you claim you can jump out of a window and fall up. It is not ridiculous to say you are wrong if you insist that pi equals exactly three.

                That does not depend on individual perception at all.

                One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:26:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  Plus... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              pasadena beggar

              ...I get the sense you're arguing something completely different than me when you talk about the scientific method.

              Obviously the scientific method is important for allowing us to better have an understsanding of the universe, but you can't use it to invalidate other people's experiences.  They happened in the past and circumstances cannot be perfectly reproduced.

              I have driven through through the end of a rainbow.  Everyone I tell that to tells me that's utterly and completely impossible.  And yet it happened and witnessed by at least one other person who was in the car with me (my mother).  That is reality.  You can spend hours explaining that rainbows are illusions that exists in relation to the viewer and as the viewer moves, the rainbow moves and yadda yadda yadda.

              But it happened.  And I'm just using that as one example.  People's lives are FULL of extraordinary experiences that cannot be explained.  Not illusions, not halucinations, not dreams, phenomenon that exist in the real world.  It's a convenient crutch to dismiss them as "not real", but often you don't have any basis to make that judgement except your own preconceived notions.

              You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

              by DawnG on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 07:47:56 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  That is simply incorrect (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Catesby, BYw, annominous

                You wake up at night and believe a monster is in your room. I turn on the light and show you that, in fact, it is a shirt draped over a chair, being blown by the wind coming in through the open window. I turn the light back off so you can see that what you interpreted as a monster is, in fact, the shirt on the chair. If you insist that it is not, I can further provide evidence by showing you that, when I close the window, the figure in the dark stops moving.

                That is an example of a simple use of the scientific method to prove that your perception was false.

                You claim that disease is caused by demons, and that you can "pray" them out, and that modern medicine is a sham and that it makes you sicker. You furthermore insist that you have had the experience of praying for someone and they have been miraculously, even instantaneously, cured.

                There are many experiments, as well as logical analysis of past circumstances, that can be applied to demonstrate, empirically, the falseness of your assertion - no matter how real it seems to you, and how much you believe it.

                You claim that people's lives are "FULL of extraordinary experiences that cannot be explained". Since you insist that one cannot know what another experienced, that one can only rely on one's senses, then you actually have no basis for making this statement. It is a faith-based statement you make, in order to defend your own extraordinary beliefs. It makes you seem more credible if you claim that you are not alone. That shows, implicitly, that you accept at least one tool of the scientific method's toolbox, the need for logical consistency.

                Then, you insist that these experiences - which you say cannot be explained - are nontheless "not illusions, not hallucinations, not dreams, phenomenon that exist in the real world". I wonder how you know that - if they are not explained, how do you know they are not any of those things. If they "cannot" be explained, they must not have any measurable effect on the physical world - there is no evidence ever of anything that can be measured that inherently "cannot" be explained by application of the scientific method.

                The fact that you need to assert that they have a physical reality in the world, rather undermines your resistance to my assertion that there is such a thing as physical reality, independent of one's sensory perception! And, again, it shows your desire for the credibility of science (which demands that things have a measurable "physical reality" in order to be considered) even in defense of utterly unscientific claims.

                Finally, you state,

                It's a convenient crutch to dismiss them as "not real", but often you don't have any basis to make that judgement except your own preconceived notions.

                And what is your basis for insisting that they "are real"?

                By the way, no one is dismissing the experiences as not real, but rather the extraordinary interpretation of them as incorrect.

                No one is stating that crop circles aren't real, merely that asserting that they are the product of alien civilizations is incorrect. You would apparently argue that we "cannot know" - particularly if someone claimed they saw a flying saucer in the sky over that field.

                And, if the very human creators of the crop circle were to come forth and demonstrate how they create it, you might dismiss them as being narrow minded scientifically oriented people who can't invalidate other people's experiences.

                And you'd be wrong.

                One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:43:14 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I am saying... (0+ / 0-)

                  ...you cannot use the scientific method to invalidate other people's experiences and you make a comparison by which you use the scientific method to invalidate your OWN experiences.

                  Obviously you can do that because you're present in the moment and can evaluate it yourself.  But again, that's not what I said.  Thank you again for refuting a point I didn't make.

                  You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

                  by DawnG on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:04:26 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Actually, my whole comment was about other people (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BYw

                    experiences, and how a second party can use the scientific method to reveal errors in interpretation by the first party.

                    I gave several examples of one person misinterpreting an experience, and another person correcting it.

                    One need not be "present in the moment"; one can apply reason after the fact. For example, you can tell me you had a visit from Santa Claus. I don't need to have been there physically at the time of the visit, in order to explain that your interpretation is in error.

                    Are you saying that, because you weren't present when Newton had the insight about gravity, that you can't be sure it exists? That, because you see other things fall when you drop them, that you can't conclude that you will fall if you jump out of a window?

                    Extrapolation is a key everyday skill we use every moment of our waking lives. To say that one can only rely on experiences one has personally experienced - and, even then, only in that one instance under those exact circumstances, doesn't make sense.

                    One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                    by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:43:56 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  mea culpa. (0+ / 0-)

                      You are correct.  You did try to demonstrate that and I misread it.

                      But it still requires you to be present at the moment of the experiences.

                      You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

                      by DawnG on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:56:50 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  So let's not go around in circles (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        BYw, XNeeOhCon

                        The main statements you made that I disagreed with were:

                        1. there are things science CANNOT know;
                        1. it doesn't matter what anyone else says, if I say I experienced something, that's all that matters.

                        I responded to #1 by asking for examples. I am still waiting for some, so I can respond further. Unless you can provide an example of something science not only doesn't yet, but CANNOT know, then your statement is a pure matter of faith, not fact.

                        I responded to #2 by providing examples where people commonly misinterpret experiences, drawing erroneous conclusions, and where someone who was not present can still correct those erroneous conclusions based on known facts.

                        In fact, I've pointed out that we all do that all the time, and could not function otherwise. If we all needed to be killed by a fall from a window to know that we shouldn't jump out of one, we'd all be dead. More realistically, we'd be incapable of functioning, because everything we do every day, and every technological tool we use every day, relies on the experience of others.

                        That is why we need a means to distinguish between valid and invalid interpretations of experience. The scientific is the only, sole and solitary means humans have yet devised, which can reliably help us distinguish between real and unreal, between valid interpretations and invalid ones, between true and false.

                        Personal interpretation of personal experience has proven to be a very poor method to determine truth, because of the very limitations of individual human bodies and brains to which you allude. Science provides us with the means to transcend individual experience and interpretation, and to expand our senses beyond our own - in a reliable, replicable, useful way that anyone can rely on without requiring faith.

                        One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                        by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:07:15 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  no, that is actually not what I am saying (0+ / 0-)
                          1. There are things people cannot know.  

                          Science is not some independant entity capable of cognitive thought. It is a method of gaining information but it does not in and of itself KNOW things.  If if the scientific method were to explain every single facet of the universe, that knowledge couldn't possibly be contained in it's entirety by any one person.  It is not possible for one person to KNOW EVERYTHING.

                          1. It doesn't matter if a person's beliefs are true or not.  

                          I am not arguing that a person's beliefs are true simply because they experienced them or say they experienced them, becuase that is not something that can be known by anyone.  You can make a judgement, you can use conjecture, but you can't prove the truth or falsehood of a person's experiences.  And you shouldn't try.  It doesn't matter.  What matters is the result of the belief, not the belief itself.

                          I don't know why I keep having to repeat this over and over and over again.  Nothing I say makes a difference.  You keep thinking I'm saying, what I'm not saying.

                          You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

                          by DawnG on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:38:29 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Actions are based on beliefs, so beliefs matter (3+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            BYw, XNeeOhCon, johnva

                            There are things people cannot know.

                             

                            Please provide an example of such a thing.

                            It doesn't matter if a person's beliefs are true or not.

                            It certainly does, because all beliefs have consequences. Our actions are based on our beliefs. False beliefs lead to actions that are in conflict with reality, which has consequences.

                            If a person believe immunizations are a bad thing, because of a false belief that they cause autism, they will not have their children immunized. That not only places those children in danger, it places other people's children in danger. It has negative effects on the entire society.

                            If a person believes that sex with a virgin protects one from AIDS, they will be inclined, in an act of desperation as people die from AIDS all around them, to rape a child or even an infant in order to gain that magical immunity. That is a false belief, and it has consequences. Educating about the falseness of that belief, and about the truth of how the AIDS virus is transmitted, matters.

                            I can't think of an instance of a belief that does not lead to any action or have any consequences, but if there were one, I would not concern myself with it, so the argument is moot.

                            You started this entire argument with the following comment:

                            I find that atheists (at least the ones I've experienced here) often fall into the same intellectual trap:  That because they don't have a belief system, they aren't susceptible to some of the ills that plague religions.  Some mistakenly believe that because they use reason to form their judgements about God and/or lack thereof, that people who are religious do not and are by extension, unreasonable or irrational.  This way of thinking can lead to all manner of logical fallacies that, as an outside observer of both sides of the argument, appear to mirror each other.  Hence the perception of Dogma.

                            Each side uses it's belief that they are right (not to be confused with belief in God or no belief in God), to completly discount and ignore the arguments of the other side without recognizing the possibility that both sides may be right or wrong.  This is anthema to reason.  You can only judge your own experiences, you cannot judge the experiences of others becuase you did not experience them.  If someone claims to have had a profound spiritual or divine experience, who are any of us to judge the right or wrong of it?

                            Rather than trying to argue that people are right or wrong, reasonable or irrational, rather than making judgements about PEOPLE, we should be focusing on the results of one's actions, beliefs or thought processes.

                            It doesn't matter if someone thinks Jesus saved them (or whatever other profound spiritual experience in their life), what matters is what they do with that belief.  Do they use it to do good in the world?  To better themselves?  To condemn others?  to harm or kill others?  That is what we should all be focusing on.

                            This whole "I'm right, you're wrong" argument is bullshit becuase the answer can never been truely known by anyone!

                            The statement, "immunizations cause autism" is wrong. The statement, "raping a virgin infant will grant immunity from AIDS" is wrong. There are no two ways about it - assertions of this sort are either right or wrong. Whether or not you know the answer does not change the reality. The Earth is not flat. It wasn't flat even when everyone believed it was. That is not a matter of belief, it is a matter of reality.

                            Which is the basis of my entire argument - there is a difference between belief, which ignores evidence, and knowledge based on evidence.

                            Rational thinkers are not merely the mirror image of fundamentalists, they are the diametric opposites. And the way one approaches understanding - whether view the scientific method, aka critical thinking, based on evidence, on the one hand, or via belief, magic, wishful thinking or whatever you want to call it, independent of evidence, on the other hand - does have consequences to others and to all human society.

                            Belief does matter, because actions are based upon belief.

                            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                            by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 11:30:32 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

            •  i'm not sure you're right (0+ / 0-)

              on the sound wave - it makes a wave but does it make a sound.  That's the point of the riddle, is the broad definition of sound.

              Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

              by bvig on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 06:25:59 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Regarding being saved (7+ / 0-)

        I was... when I was 10.  And it was in the deep, rural south and I was surrounded by a bunch of extremists who were whipping the children up into a frenzy with all their ... well... I hardly know what to call it.  But it was akin to madness.

        By the time 3 years had passed, I had asked enough questions and seen enough hate from these people. (Some of them arguing that the bible called for slavery and that's why, at the very least, segregation was supposed to be. ) It lead to me asking questions that were answered with so much nonsense that I had to admit that I no longer believed.  

        By 13 I was an atheist.  

        But the "experience" I thought I had had -- which seemed meaningful at the time -- was really just an emotional reaction to the hyperventilating around me.  

           

      •  Straw men, false equivalency (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dallasdoc, gmb, Philoguy, Catesby
        1. arguments based on evidence are not equivalence to arguments that ignore evidence.

        Assertions that Obama is a covert Muslim are not equivalent to arguments that he is not.

        1. I have never heard an atheist here argue, ever, that, because they are an atheist, they are not, by virtue of their atheism, susceptible to moral failings or irrational beliefs. That is simply a straw man.

        3)

        Each side uses it's belief that they are right (not to be confused with belief in God or no belief in God), to completly discount and ignore the arguments of the other side without recognizing the possibility that both sides may be right or wrong.  This is anthema to reason.  You can only judge your own experiences, you cannot judge the experiences of others becuase you did not experience them.  If someone claims to have had a profound spiritual or divine experience, who are any of us to judge the right or wrong of it?

        This entire paragraph is full of false claims, inaccuracies and logical contradictions.

        There is no evidence to support claims that there is more than one reality - all evidence points to the fact that things either are, or their aren't. It is not possible, for example, that there simultaneously is and is not a god. One of those statements is true, one of them is false. Not subjectively, objectively.

        Claims are not inherently and automatically true merely because they are believed. If that were the case, there would be nothing for us to talk about on this site, on any topic.

        If someone claims their spiritual or divine experience tells them that people with dark skin are inferior and should be enslaved, would you respond "who are any of us to judge the right or wrong of it"?

        It is a very dangerous rhetorical framing you seek to erect here. Basically, it would allow any idea to be promoted and claim immunity from criticism, merely by cloaking itself in the mantle of "religious belief".

        Who are we to judge the right or wrong of  the murder of an abortion doctor by someone who claims to have had a profound spiritual or divine experience that compelled him to perform his heinous act as a matter of divine imperative?

        Clearly, we make those judgments all the time as a society, and we make them based on rational, logical, empirical, secular bases - otherwise, we could never agree on right or wrong and could never promulgate a single law.

        As for judging one's own experience or the experience of others, the entire foundation for modern science, and by extension the modern world we live in, is premised on the fact that we cannot, in fact, rely on our personal perceptions of our own experiences, because our senses are flawed, our brains vulnerable to misinterpretation and illusion, and that, in fact,  the only way to determine what is real, and what is not, is to evaluate physical evidence independent of personal opinion and feelings.

        4)

        It doesn't matter if someone thinks Jesus saved them (or whatever other profound spiritual experience in their life), what matters is what they do with that belief.  Do they use it to do good in the world?  To better themselves?  To condemn others?  to harm or kill others?  That is what we should all be focusing on.

        And, based on the empirical evidence, it seems clear that, overall, belief in organized religion has done more harm than good in the world, and that the less religious a society is, the healthier it is by a whole array of measures of societal well=being.

        At the very least, it is clear that being religious is not a good correlative measure of virtue. Given all the manifest drawbacks of organized religion, and given the evidence that people without religion are no less moral, no more violent and no less productive than religious believers, there is a rational, empirical argument that we'd be better off without it.

        This whole "I'm right, you're wrong" argument is bullshit becuase the answer can never been truely known by anyone!

        That is an assertion of pure faith, not backed up by evidence. We have no evidence of any question that is inherently not resolvable, and we have no evidence of statements that are inherently neither true nor false (excluding deliberately meaningless tautologies and paradoxes such as "this sentence is false", which are fun and intriguing but don't really have any relevance to this discussion).

        Final point, and it is the most telling of all, in my opinion:

        Rather than trying to argue that people are right or wrong, reasonable or irrational, rather than making judgements about PEOPLE, we should be focusing on the results of one's actions, beliefs or thought processes.

        Arguing about whether someone's assertion is right or wrong is NOT "making judgments about PEOPLE". It is making judgments about ideas.

        Critical distinction. If you truly believed that any time you challenge a belief, you are attacking all people who hold that belief, you would not be able to engage in any political discussion on this site.

        One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

        by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 03:39:43 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You are not understanding what I'm saying. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bvig

          I am not arguing that there is more than one reality.  I am arguing that human beings are not equipped to fully KNOW what reality is.  We are bound by the limitations of our senses and by perspective.

          You are refuting a points I never made and completely misreading the points I DID make.

          As I said before, it doesn't matter what people believe, what matters is what they do with their beliefs.  To use your hypothetical, if someone believes God tells them people with dark skin are inferior, I am not endowed with the sufficient knowledge of the universe to know if it's true or if it's false, and I can't substitute my own biases to "fill in the blanks" of what I can't possibly know, and still claim to be rationable or reasonable.

          What I can do, however, is evaluate the ultimate consequences of that belief.  It sows negativity, suffering, subjucation of others.  I can make a decision that THAT is unacceptable.  Whether the belief is true or not, doesn't matter.

          And as I said before, that is what is hanging people up in the converstion.  All sides of the argument are convinced they are the only ones with the correct understanding of what is true and what is not true.  The universe is too vast for the human mind to possibly comprehend in it's entirety.  And ultimately, it doesn't matter.  What ultimately matters is what is the result.  If someone's belief in God makes them a better person, why does it matter if it's true or not?  If someone believes God doens't exist and uses that to live their life to it's fullest, why does it matter if it's true or not?  It either is or it is not and it's likely not possible to KNOW one way or the other if it's true.  So why does it matter?

          You use "empirical evidence" as if it were complete.  There is so much that you do NOT know about the universe.  There is so much that you CAN NOT know about the universe.  It's fine for you to make a judgement based on what you do know, but that doesn't give you license to look down on other people's conclusions based on what THEY know.  It doesn't matter who's right and who's wrong.  What matters is what are the consequences (for yourself and others) of your conclusions or beliefs.  That is the only thing that can be reasonably evaluated.  Everything else is subject to preconceived notions.  It can't be avoided.  

          You can spout scientific method all you want, but how you perceive the world around you is still influenced by your preconceived notions.

          I do hope that clears things up, but I'm not really going to bet on it.

          You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

          by DawnG on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:09:24 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  How do you know what "CAN NOT" be known (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            pasadena beggar, BYw

            about the universe?

            How do you know that "human beings are not equipped to fully KNOW what reality is"?

            How do you know that " The universe is too vast for the human mind to possibly comprehend in it's entirety"?

            You make all these absolute pronouncements about reality and the universe and human abilities and comprehension and perception - ironically, all while condemning me for supposedly doing the same thing (excpect that my pronouncements are based on evidence).

            What is your basis for these pronouncements?

            They are purely matters of faith. You have erected a tautology: science is incapable of explaining things you believe, because you believe that science is incapable of explaining them.

            There is no basis for your assertion of the limits of human abilities.

            Everything you state is based on unsupported expressions of pure faith.

            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:53:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think you're missing the point (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DawnG, misreal

              unless something drastically changes humans don't have the ability to acquire absolute knowledge. Humans experiment. Experimentation provides us with evidence that something happened
              under certain conditions and thus a probability but not proof of that
              something happening again in the future.  science does not provide proofs but theories
              that have a higher than average probability or being true.

              Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

              by bvig on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 06:38:31 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Thank you. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bvig

                That is exactly what I'm saying.

                You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

                by DawnG on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:05:32 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Relevance? (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                BYw

                Theories in science are not just loose guesses, they are pretty firm conclusions, and our entire edifice of modern life is based on their reliability. For all intents and purposes, gravity is a fact, even though it is technically a "theory".

                The distinction really only matters to those engaged in semantic games to discredit science, not to people in their daily lives using the theory of combustion to power their automobiles, which are held together by the theories of the weak and strong forces, and kept from floating away into outer speace by the theoretical force of gravity, en route to the doctor to get antibiotics based on the theory of bacterial cause of certain diseases.

                It's not relevant in the context of this debate, where DawnG insists that she drove through the "end of a rainbow", and "doesn't care" what science says or what anybody thinks. It also isn't relevant in the context of the assertions I questioned in this particular comment, that there are "certain things that science CANNOT know".

                That was not a statement about theory, that was a statement about an alleged inherent barrier across which science cannot cross at all - the assertion that certain things are beyond the reach of the scientific method.

                I have repeatedly asked for an example of something that cannot be examined via the scientific method, and have not been presented by any examples by anyone.

                The assertion is merely repeated - science is limited, human brains are limited, there are things beyond our understanding which we CANNOT [sic] know.

                There is, in fact, no evidence to support this claim, it is a matter of pure irrational faith.

                "Absolute knowledge" is not necessary in order to rely on the effects of gravity. It's taken us to the Moon and taken our crafts beyond the Solar System.

                That is not at all the same as claiming, arbitrarily, that we "CANNOT know" certain things.

                It is also not the same as claiming that we cannot determine anything beyond our personal perception, that we cannot question any belief by anyone else, and that we have no way of verifying the veracity of a claim. That is sheer nonsense, and, again, pure faith-based assertion, devoid of evidence.

                BTW, the scientific method is not limited to experimentation alone. We also apply logic and reason to understand things beyond physical experimentation. We derive knowledge from mathematical proofs, for example. We also learn from observation, for example monitoring the radiation background of the universe. We have the ability to extrapolate and to extend our knowledge far beyond our five physical senses.

                There is no evidence of any built-in limits to human knowledge, that is built-in in the sense of the universe's physical laws constraining us eternally from knowing certain things.

                There are no demonstrated limits to the scientific method. If you disagree with that empirical observation, kindly present evidence of an inherent, insurmountable limit.

                The only reason we don't know x is because we haven't gotten there yet; the moden scientific method has only been in existence for a couple hundred years - but, already it has revealed to us more about the world than thousands of years of magic and religion.

                One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:37:42 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  hmmm (0+ / 0-)

                  Gravity as Newton understood it is quite disproven, it’s not semantics or a game to discredit science, these "semantics" provide our ability to go farther.  Here’s an explanation about gravity http://www.pbs.org/... .  The point isn’t semantics, and whether or not gravity is real, the point is acknowledging the limits of "scientific proof" and realize that our understanding of these ‘proven’ concepts change.  Scientific understanding is constantly evolving and disproving itself all the time.  It’s not about absolutism in science, those are the people who push the boundaries, who take what’s ‘proven’ and call bullshit and show an example of how it can be false.  
                  I’m not sure what you’re rambling about with weak and strong forces and antibiotics and rainbows or how they tie in with what we’re talking about . . . but feel free to explain
                  Nothing can be proven.  Except our perception of history.  
                  A)      An observation is different than the theory that explains that
                  observation.  A ball falling to earth is the observation.  The
                  theories to explain why it falls to earth could potentially be
                  gravity, magnetism, God's invisible hands reaching out to grab it,
                  other things that I'm not creative enough to think of.  Observations
                  can include subjective experiences because they are phenomenon that
                  also need explaining, whether the theories are the person is a liar
                  liar pants on fire, their brain chemicals started firing weird, or
                  they actually encountered something not yet accounted for in science
                  B)      Experiments can be done to test whichever hypothesis or eliminate
                  other hypotheses.  These experiments form the evidence for and against
                  different theories and thus the more times an experiment has been
                  repeated and doing various experiences increases the probability that
                  the hypothesis being tested is true.
                  C)      Absolute knowledge would be required to eliminate other potential
                  explanations for the experiments and thus absolute proof cannot be
                  obtained.  What we are left with is different quantities of evidence
                  for different hypotheses.
                  What in the future can be proven?  Is it not just a high probability of occurrence and not proof?
                  And it’s true we rely on history for how the world works, and it serves us well to understand the workings of the world and gets us to the moon and coming up with theories that probably are right – but again just cause something works doesn’t mean you have the theory exactly right – and it’s a necessary respect for that that enables people to be scientists.

                  We can extrapolate things beyond our five senses but the evidence for it comes from our senses

                  Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                  by bvig on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:13:09 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  We're in violent agreement (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    BYw

                    Your comment would seem to agree more with my position nad less with the position that I am debating.

                    A) An observation is different than the theory that explains that
                    observation

                    That is precisely the point I have been making. And explanations (theory is not the right term to use here, in the scientific sense, a theory is more than an explanation for an observation) can be verified - they can be proven right or wrong (as you yourself acknowledge in your opening statement, when you state that "Gravity as Newton understood it is quite disproven".

                    B)      Experiments can be done to test whichever hypothesis or eliminate
                    other hypotheses.  These experiments form the evidence for and against
                    different theories and thus the more times an experiment has been
                    repeated and doing various experiences increases the probability that
                    the hypothesis being tested is true.

                    Again, this is precisely the point I have repeatedly made in my comments.

                    C)      Absolute knowledge would be required to eliminate other potential
                    explanations for the experiments and thus absolute proof cannot be
                    obtained.  What we are left with is different quantities of evidence
                    for different hypotheses.

                    I have no debate with that statement. That is quite different from the statements I have been debating, which say, "there are some things science CANNOT know", because of inherent limits on human cognition, because of the size of the universe, etc., or which say, it doesnt' matter what anyone else says, I saw what I saw, and science can't invalidate that, and that we can't learn anything from other people's experiences, only our own.

                    Other than some sophistry, in real life those statements have no veracity to them.

                    The issue isn't "absolute knowledge", the issue is useful knowledge. Just because we can't rule out 100% the possibility that the humans who created the crop circles weren't implanted a false memory by aliens who did create them, doesn't mean that is a reasonable theory.

                    If we don't rule out anything, we can't function in the real world.

                    In sum, I'm not sure why you think you are debating me, when you are saying essentially the same thing I am saying in respond to DawnG's very different, even opposite, statements.

                    One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                    by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 10:35:37 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  I think the difference is (0+ / 0-)

                      I don’t think anything can be proven, and I think both of you are in agreement there, which I wasn’t sure about at first, I thought you were arguing that science is fact, which is not really a reasonable argument to make, so that was my biggest reason for having a beef, but I must have misunderstood.  The difference then seems to be whether belief in God is irrational.  You seem to think there’s no evidence for existence and she thinks there is evidence, so it comes down to who’s perception of reality to go with.   You think that the only things worth thinking about are those with testable hypotheses using the scientific method and she’s saying there’s some things outside the scope of testable hypotheses that are still worth thinking about and having a position on.  I agree with her.  Here’s an example – if you take the second law of thermodynamics, entropy should be increasing in the world as it goes on, but  the opposite seems to be happening  - what’s the cause of this.  Many think there’s a different type of energy in existence, no way to test it right now, perhaps there will be in the future, and there’s interesting side notes that supports them, but definitely no more than observational evidence.  It’s still worth considering, because something is in existence that explains this phenomenon.  Same thing with the concept of infinity and common morality, what people use to explain it isn’t exactly testable, but it doesn’t mean it’s without evidence.  

                      Man's capacity for justice makes democracy possible, but man's inclination to injustice makes democracy necessary. ~ Reinhold Niebuhr

                      by bvig on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 11:29:20 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Your restatement of our positions is not accurate (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        BYw

                        I prefer to quote actual statements made by actual commenters. We can only rely on what other people say; we shouldn't be expected to magically reach through the ether and understand what they meant to say between the lines.

                        DawnG has stated that:

                        There are things people cannot know.

                        I have asked for examples.

                        She stated:

                        It doesn't matter if a person's beliefs are true or not.

                        I presented numerous examples of how it does matter. Actions are guided by beliefs. False beliefs lead to actions that are in contradiction with reality, which is generally harmful.

                        She stated:

                        you cannot use the scientific method to invalidate other people's experiences

                        I provided examples to show that that is precisely what the scientific method is useful for, and that we could not function if we did not rely on precisely that ability.

                        She stated:

                        People's lives are FULL of extraordinary experiences that cannot be explained.  Not illusions, not halucinations, not dreams, phenomenon that exist in the real world.  It's a convenient crutch to dismiss them as "not real", but often you don't have any basis to make that judgement except your own preconceived notions.

                        I asked for examples. She claimed that:

                        I have driven through through the end of a rainbow.  Everyone I tell that to tells me that's utterly and completely impossible.  And yet it happened and witnessed by at least one other person who was in the car with me (my mother).  That is reality.  You can spend hours explaining that rainbows are illusions that exists in relation to the viewer and as the viewer moves, the rainbow moves and yadda yadda yadda.

                        But it happened.

                        That is a classic dismissal of the scientific method by anecdote. Do I really need to explain why that is a fallacy?

                        I provided numerous examples of how interpretation of experience can be flawed, and how the scientific method can be used - and is used daily, including by those who inveigh against "science" - to disprove false interpretations.

                        (By the way, I repeatedly pointed out the distinction between an experience, and the interpretation of that experience, and that is the interpretation that is the issue here.)

                        She stated that:

                        If trusting what your sense tell you is real is rational, then why is someone else trusting what their senses tell them is real is irrational?

                        I pointed out that a rational thinker most definitely does not trust their own senses, that the scientific method has taught us that our senses can be deceived, and that, in fact, the entire purpose of the scientific method is to reduce errors of misperception and misinterpretation of reality.

                        I have never stated that the science is "done", that there are no new things to discover, or that science is never in error. On the contrary, science has built in corrective mechanisms, which have proven effective in correcting past errors - and that would not be necessary if there was no possibility of error in the first place.

                        Inerrance is a religious claim, it is never a scientific claim. Nor is absolute knowledge.

                        In sum, I have attempted to substantively and directly respond to the actual, quoted statements made by DawnG. The response has been a combination of denying making statements made, accusing me of misunderstanding, saying they didn't really mean wha they typed, shifting the subject of the discussion, ignoring substantive responses, and further personal attacks. Most of all, challenged statements are met with simple restratement of the original assertion, with no reference to the substance of the challenge. Merely repeating unsubstantiated assertions is not an argument, it is a mantra.

                        This is unfortunate, but I can't control the responses of another person. I can only continue to attempt to answer in good faith [no pun intended], based on the actual words that appear on my screen.

                        I look forward to at least one instance in which at least one direct rebuttal to at least one actual typed statement is responded to, substantively, without personal attacks or accusations of any kind.

                        That would constitute real progress.

                        One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

                        by RandomActsOfReason on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 11:47:59 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

        •  And my I also add... (0+ / 0-)

          ...you are always doing that to me.  Anytime I make a point you always come back with this very long winded refutation of an assertion I never made in the first place and it drives me crazy!  It's a perfect example of what I mean when I say your preconceived notions color your perception of the world.

          It's like (and by that I mean this is a analogy.  Just in case that wasn't clear) if I made the comment "The sun rises every morning", you coming along and saying I'm stupid and irrational for believing the Earth is a static object and that the sun revolves around it when I never said any such thing!

          The sun rises every morning.  That is a true statement.  It doesn't make any comment on WHY the sun rises every morning, and yet that is exactly what you inject into my commentary.  You inject meaning that is completely missing in the original comments.  And the most aggrivating thing is you don't even realize you're doing it!  And yet you still spout off as if you're somehow better equipped to judge what is real than myself or (presumably) anyone else.

          WTF?

          You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

          by DawnG on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:28:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I have responded substantively (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            BYw

            to what you have stated. I have not made this personal, as you are now trying to do. I have not made any efforts to interpret between the lines, or to put words in your mouth that you have not said. On the contrary, virtually every response I make is FULL of blockquotes containing the exact words that you wrote in the comment to which I am responding.

            I respond respectfully and precisely to exactly what you state.

            Don't try to change the subject by making this a personal thing. It has nothing to do with you or me, and everything to do with the actual words in the actual comments.

            There is no competition about qualifications or who is better equipped. I simply respond substantively and directly to the assertions you make.

            You can choose to make this personal, but that is a choice you make. Don't try to put that on me, I'm here to debate the issues.

            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:59:00 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  No you haven't. (0+ / 0-)

              You have responded substantially to what I have not stated.  You make assumptions on the context of my statements that are consistantly false.

              I'm not even making it personal.  I'm pointing out that this is not the first time you've done this.  I am coming to the realization that I can't have a discussion with you because no matter how often or carefully I clarify what I'm saying, you keep refuting points I don't make.  And no matter what I do you can't get past it.

              It's not personal. It just is what it is.

              Have a good day.

              You are entitled to express your opinion. But you are NOT entitled to agreement.

              by DawnG on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 09:00:39 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  No, it wasn't (8+ / 0-)

      [Pol Pot and Stalin] also both didn't believe in the flying spaghetti monster.  Neither of these lack of beliefs directed them to do what they did.   Their lack of belief wasn't the reason they murdered people.  They were sociopaths.

      Nicely said.  Good diary, making some important distinctions.

      But, I believe that, out of respect, "Flying Spaghetti Monster" should be capitalized.  (Something about an expression of the Holy Grated Cheese that surrounds it, I think.)

      Apocalypse? I'd prefer Wax Lips.

      by dryfoo on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:45:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  unfortunately (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cgirard

      you've made the most annoying move from my position as an agnostic, the attempt to "convince" agnostics that they are really atheists.

      We are not. There is a difference between saying I have no clue and probably neither does anyone else, and saying I know for sure, or even I am 99.9% sure one way or the other.

      •  I agree to an extent (0+ / 0-)

        I consider myself agnostic but it is annoying when agnostics are claimed as atheists. Dawkins does something similar in The God Delusion. On the other hand, while I genuinely don't know, I'd also say that the existence of God is pretty unlikely.

        One perspective that I've felt for a long time that doesn't get discussed is the question of whether God ever existed. Did God exist and then cease or was there never a God to begin with? Thanks to a dairy recently I discovered that some of the founding fathers also had this question. I believe they were called "Deists".

        It's an important question, I feel, because there's probably a case for the existence of God at the start of the universe although most religions don't seem to make a distinction

      •  Are you a theist? (0+ / 0-)

        If not you are an atheist.

        Be anoyed all you want it's a binary position.

        •  the only binary position (0+ / 0-)

          is the difference between saying you know and saying you don't know.

          So if you want to create a binary position, that would lump atheists and theists together as both purporting to know about the existence of God, with agnostics who purport not to know.

          So I will continue to be "anoyed."

          •  if you are not a theist (0+ / 0-)

            once again you an an atheist

            I don't understand why people keep trying to make this so fucking complicated.

            If you don't know then most probably you don't hold an affirmative believe in the exist of a deity.

            Further generally theists are not talking about some abstract wishy washy god concept when they say they believe in God they are talking about a specific entity with defined characteristics. And if don't hold an affirmative believe such a thing you are an atheist. Any attempt to hold some sort of imaginary middle ground is simply rank sophistry.

            •  its fucking complicated (0+ / 0-)

              because folks like you make it so.

              I'm not an atheist so I must be a theist then using your logic.

              I dont know means I dont know, which even you seem to at least dimly understand by your placing in the word "probably" into that sentence.

              There is nothing "imaginary" about saying I dont know.

              If I say I dont know if a species of animal exists, I am not saying I dont believe it exists because I dont have an affirmative belief that it does.

              If I say that I dont know if string theory is correct or not, does not mean that because I dont have an affirmative belief that string theory is correct, therefore I dont believe in string theory.

              I dont understand why some folks, usually atheists, make that so fucking complicated to use your language.

              •  You are making it more complicated than it is. (0+ / 0-)

                It really is not as complicated as you are trying to make it. The only reason it gets complicated is because people are trying to win rhetorical debate points rather than cutting through to the actual chase of the question.

                You either hold an affirmative belief in the existence of a specific god concept (theist) or you do not (atheist).

                There is no know involved. You don't have to know that no gods exist to be an atheist you simply have to lack belief in any one.

                Your arguments are nothing but sophistry designed to confuse an otherwise simple question.

                In the end you and those other who insist on this nonsense that atheism requires a denial of the existence of gods, keep trying to define atheism as more than it is.

                It is not a specific term unlike agnosticism which is far more specific if you want to be damned right technical, agnosticism isn't simply that one does not know but rather the position that the answer to the question is inherently unknowable.

                This is one of the things I find most annoying about these conversations. Huxley didn't define agnosticism as this bastardized wishy washy concept people keep pretending it is. He meant something very specific I happen to believe he was wrong and that the concept that the answer to any question worth asking is somehow inherently unknowable for perpetuity is just asinine. After all we don't know what sorts of tests might become available in 100 or 1000 or even 10000 years we might damned well be able test for the existence of a god being. Hell in Huxley's time they were still limited to Newtonian physics.  

                I say its simple because it is simple. Atheism is defined by theism it is simply a lack of theism nothing more nothing less any attempts to define it more specifically are intellectually dishonest.

            •  here let me help you (0+ / 0-)

              http://en.wikipedia.org/...
              http://en.wikipedia.org/...
              http://en.wikipedia.org/...

              There is more to thought than your simple bi-polar view.

              •  I fail to see how this helps your argument (0+ / 0-)

                Of course if you add additional descriptors you can achieve more precision. Just as adding the descriptors of weak and strong atheism can more specifically characterize the position of a specific atheist.

                My argument was never that agnostics must be atheists only that most who use the term happen to be agnostics since generally agnostic theists simply describe themselves as what ever flavor of theism they are agnostic about from a practical standpoint.

                It does not change the basic reality that anyone who is not a theist is by definition an atheist.

                •  shouldn't have posted that so late (0+ / 0-)

                  The second paragraph should have said that most people who use the term agnostic happen to be atheists.

                •  yes that is the whole point (0+ / 0-)

                  there is a lot more precision and complexity than you appear to want to admit.

                  I love when folks like you tell folks that what they think, really isn't what they think, because YOU think it's "sophistry" which is a word clearly you've fallen in love with.

                  And it is a word which means deceiving someone intentionally which is again ridiculous, and wrong.

                  What I find again ridiculous is your continual hedging. Paragraph two is that agnostics aren't necessarily atheist, but then paragraph three is well if you aren't a theist, then you are an atheist.

                  You can't even be consistent in your consistency.

                  Your second paragraph really outlines that you don't really even have a clue what agnosticism is.

                  But I can play the same game as you. Because I can easily argue, that folks who say they are weak atheist are really agnostics, and the only true athiests are the ones who say they know there isn't a God just like the only true theist are the ones who say they know there is a God.

                  Leaving everyone else an agnostic (both those who say they have no idea, along with those who haven't made up their mind, those who've never even thought about the question, and those who think probably not but wont rule it out ("weak" atheists).

                  Of course, unlike you, I don't try to define what anyone other than myself is. I don't go around telling folks or even thinking that if they don't place the same definitions I do that they are doing so because they are intentionally deceiving people.

                  (To what end I have no clue but I'm sure you have a theory).

                  Atheism has SEVERAL definitions in fact, and "absence of belief" is merely one. ACTIVE disbelief, whether you like it or not, is another and a primary definition. In fact, the two definitions in Merriam Webster are not merely, "lack of a belief" but a "disbelief" which is a "mental rejection of something that is not true"

                  So forgive me if I don't take your definitions over both more logical and precise ones, and more authoritarian ones.

    •  From a former fundamentalist (10+ / 0-)
      From a former fundamentalist (not Christian fundamentalism however) I can still somewhat relate to the religious mind.

      A couple of quick responses:
      --Morality never comes from a book, be it the bible or anything else.  People develop a subjective morality and then justify it based on the book, not the other way around.  

      --It is hard for a theist to understand how irrelevant the idea of God is to the mind of an athiest.  If I want to understand the language of the universe, I look to science.  The amount we know about the world and our place in it is staggering (although not nearly as staggering as the amount we don't know).  To me, asking me to prove I don't really believe in God is like asking me to prove I don't really believe in Harry Potter.  They are both fictional characters from books to me, so the question is just silly.

      --I find the universe to be a wondrous, fantastic, spiritual place and existence to be a miracle beyond imagining.  There is no need for a personal God in my worldview to feel these things.  In fact, believing in God would diminish the wonders of the universe for me.  It would diminish, not enhance, the mystery of creation.

    •  Good diary. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misreal, cgirard

      I agree with almost everything, but there are some muddy areas.

      I think the chance that there is a god is extremely small

      I am pretty sure that is belief. I think this is where a lot get tripped up. The entire argument hinges on the definitions of "knowledge", "belief", and "faith".

      Why does it matter that atheists believe something? If you did not believe some things, you would probably die from the inability to act. The focus should be on the criteria for a sound belief as opposed to a fancy. What does it take for you to believe something? We know for a fact that some beliefs in the past are wrong. But we also know some past beliefs have been right.

      Once that you establish that there are true beliefs and false beliefs, why does it matter that atheists believe or that atheism is a belief system.

      Which brings up another mudder. There seems to be a misunderstanding that an atheist is someone who does not believe in the Christian god, GOD. (You know, the guy with his name on our money who we simply don't trust at all. Look at the size of our military.)

      Atheists do not believe there are gods at all, nor should there be. We recognize that gods and religions are the creation of wily men in search of power.

      Some religions are silly and are fine if ignored. But the religion that worships the Super-man is dangerous. The Christian god, GOD, is an all powerful male humanoid that demands human blood to limit the number of humans he kills when he destroys the earth.

      There are just some bad beliefs. And that is that.

      Nice read.

      As if things could get worse without getting better.

      by A Voice on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 02:28:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Too Broad a Brush (0+ / 0-)

        Atheists do not believe there are gods at all, nor should there be. We recognize that gods and religions are the creation of wily men in search of power.

        Some people believe with all of their heart that their mysticism is true.  Since each person's mysticism is slightly different then I think it can be said that each person creates their own religion.  Some people are more willing than others to have their mysticism dictated to them, some are not, thus people change religions once it becomes obvious to them that their religion and their mysticism clash beyond reasonable tolerances( as opposed to just tossing mysticism altogether ).

        Which reminds me of one of my favorite arguments for Atheism which goes as follows:  God has given you free will.  If you can't get a believer to agree to that statement then you can ask them if they have known people that have changed their religion.  They should be able to grant you that since they may be trying to recruit you into theirs.  If God has given you a free will then is stands to reason that God has also given you the ability to define Him.  Does it make sense that an omnipotent being would give such power over Himself to a mere mortal?  Not to me.  But even if it makes sense to your debate opponent, you can say that an omnipotent being that does not care how he's defined is not interested in being worshiped either.

        God gave us logic so that we wouldn't have to rely on Him.

        I voted for change.

        by Dotty Gale on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 05:32:11 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Why ignore the problem of evil? (0+ / 0-)
      You could just as well say we don't "KNOW" that the earth goes around the sun and not the other way around.  If you introduce epicycles you can save the earth-centered system.  Reasonable people see that as an ridiculous just to save one cherished hypothesis.  

      Well, I see religious responses to the existence of evil the same way.  They'll say anything to save the hypothesis of theism but ultimately it's just epicylces.  If there is an omniscient, omnipotent, and benevolent God then there should be far less evil in the world.  Apologetics are epicycles.  The prevalence of evil in the world is pretty good evidence against the existence of God.

      Of course, the tri-omni God is a philosopher's conception.  Yahweh, the God of the OT and NT, is clearly not according to the myth the tri-omni God.  Yahweh is petty, vindictive, perverse, angry, vengeful, etc.  But I also think I can know that Yahweh does not exist.  How?  Well, we can and do know a whole lot about human culture and the invention of mythologies.  I know that Yahweh was invented just as well as I know that Zeus was invented.  Indeed, the fact of the matter is that atheists just believe in one less God than Christians, Jews, and Muslims.  

      Passive renunciation is not the whole of wisdom.

      by play jurist on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 07:23:40 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Thanks for this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      misreal, BYw

       

      How can atheists be moral if they don't believe in the bible which teaches what is right and wrong?

      Someone could write an entire book on this topic, but I'll just say that morality is something we have evolved as a trait to help us survive.  Tribes of humans who helped each other out were more likely to survive than those that didn't.  

      You'll find that most atheists have a very strong sense of morality, but it isn't dictated to them by a holy book.  

      Some like to think that religion invented morality. Religion may have canonized it, written it down, but morality is in fact present in the animal kingdom, known better in biological circles as altruism. One individual helps another, by giving up a meal for example, with the expectation/knowledge that the individual he helps will in turn help him at a later date. This development can be explained by evolution. The cost of helping is lower than the benefit of receiving the help.

      If you are planning simultaneous tea bagging all around the country, you're going to need a Dick Armey. - David Shuster

      by Big Danny on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:34:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I disagree with your definition. (11+ / 0-)

    Agnostics are uncertain about the existence of god.  Atheists aren't.

    They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

    by Kaili Joy Gray on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:17:45 AM PDT

    •  We are we are we are! (31+ / 0-)

      As absolutely uncertain as one can possibly get!

      Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

      by Clem Yeobright on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:24:58 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  That's always been my understanding too (31+ / 0-)

      Speaking purely in terms of definition.  However, I do think the actual use of the word muddies that distinction a bit.

      I don't mind being labeled an atheist or an agnostic--I "believe" there is no God, however, I'd never claim to KNOW there is no God.

      Save the parrots: Drink shade-grown coffee!

      by oscarsmom on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:25:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  True, it can become a semantic argument. (19+ / 0-)

        I've never met an atheist who would say, "I know for a fact there is no god."  But the distinction, as I see it, is that agnostics are kind of on the fence about it, and atheists aren't.  And it does seem like a rather minor distinction to say, "I don't think there's a god" versus "I don't know if there's a god."

        But speaking for myself, I don't have any of those "what if" doubts.  My mind is pretty clear on the issue.  So I guess the part of the diary that I don't agree with is the suggestion that atheists aren't clear on the issue.

        That said, the diary still makes some good points.  

        They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

        by Kaili Joy Gray on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:29:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  'Can become'? Hint: It is ALL semantics. (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          denise b, Chicagoa, XNeeOhCon, cgirard

          Ignorance isn't exactly bliss but some things are better known when they are unknown to start with and pieced together on the way. - WineRev

          by Clem Yeobright on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:34:51 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Not sitting on a fence at all (24+ / 0-)

          Agnostics (at least in the alt.atheism model) do have a very specific belief that it is not possible by any human means to prove the existence or lack thereof of a god.  I (as a "weak atheist") aren't sitting on the fence about this any more than I am about whether there's a snowflake containing exactly 10^13 molecules of water somewhere in Antarctica.  It simply doesn't affect me in any way that I can detect, there's no evidence that it affects anyone or anything else in any detectable way, and as such I simply don't care.

          •  I like your last point. (9+ / 0-)

            Ultimately, for non-believers, it doesn't really matter what words or definitions we use, does it?  That's kind of the opposite of religion, which does force you to become defensive about what your exact set of beliefs are.  But an absence of beliefs means that it doesn't really matter what other people think you believe or don't believe.

            That's not to say atheists and agnostics don't get defensive about it, but it's not like there's a requirement of that non-belief that we must protect the principles of our non-belief.

            In the end, it doesn't matter and we shouldn't care.  Leave the semantic arguments to the believers.

            They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

            by Kaili Joy Gray on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:52:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Yep - that's pretty much where I'm at too (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            misreal, cgirard

            I can't prove or disprove the existence of a supreme and singular entity of some sort that created the universe.

            That's pretty much where I leave it.  I have no idea if there is such a being, no one can provide real data one way or the other and so, for me, it's a moot point I just couldn't care less about.

            No amount of conversation about the topic is going to produce evidence one way or the other so in my mind it's silly to debate whether there is a god or not.  It isn't a real debate because no one can produce any real facts that support or disprove such a notion.

            Talking about the effects that organized religion has is a different topic and one which has more merit IMO.  

            "The time for justice is always right now!" - Samantha Booke, Wiley College debate team, 1935

            by Edgewater on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:41:13 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Well, that was me for a lot of years (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Amber6541, cgirard

          I've never met an atheist who would say, "I know for a fact there is no god."

          I would declare quite vehemently that I know there is no god - indeed I was what one could only call evangelical on the subject.

          That may well have put me in the minority of atheists, but the diarist is wrong to assert that atheists by definition don't have a "belief system."  I definitely did.

          (I've mellowed quite a bit in later years.)

          "I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

          by jrooth on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:51:01 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  In the alt.atheism model ... (5+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            islanddave, gmb, quotemstr, misreal, cgirard

            you were a "strong atheist."

            Hopelessly pedantic since 1963.

            by admiralh on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:03:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  You had a belief, but that (7+ / 0-)

            particular belief did not unite you with other atheists in a belief "system". I don't think the diarist is asserting that atheists don't have belief systems, just that atheism in and of itself is not a belief system.

            Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
            A yam.
            What a Yam!
            And that's all that - A yam.

            by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:12:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  I think his point was that atheists don't have (5+ / 0-)

            an agreed upon belief system they all use to substitute for religious dogma.

            I am one who really resents the notion that atheists don't have some kind of moral system of values. Per Ralph Waldo Emerson, I have my own bible that is a work in progress. I have distilled lessons and insights learned from journaling, authors, religions of all kinds, great quotes, and great thinkers. I read it every week when I am refocusing on what I have a accompished and what needs to be prioritized. On average, it gets a major overhaul about every 5 years. Just moving the new pieces from the margins into the written text and linking any new material where it needs a reference.

            Included in the bible is a laminated sheet I developed based on Ayn Rand's work and my own understanding of the mind and law. Rand's basic morality:

            Happiness is the achievement of ones values.

            Values are what we act to gain and keep through virtues.

            I also believe in many of Jesus' teachings, most of which are found in other religions. Based on how the brain is divided and functions differently between the left and right cortexes, I use Jesus' ideas for right brain decisions and Rand for left brain. Each side has a virtue associated with attaining the value, and a 'sin'. The left brain sins are errors of comission, the right of omission. Initially, they may be the actions/inactions we use until we figure out what the right action is.
            These are the column headers.

            Left brain sin   Left brain virtue    Value    Right brain virtue   Right brain sin

            Suggestion, put Truth under value (or any other you prefer) and try to fill in the others. Keep in mind, the left brain uses symbols and thinks with  linear relationships. The right brain has a vocabulary of about 200 words, it is uses metaphors, visualization and intuition to think.
             
            The point of the list is to understand that when I am having a problem deciding what is a morally correct action, it is usually because I have not reconciled the left and right brain differences. They can be, you just have to learn how to focus on the value issues and which virtues are in play. Some situations have more than one value involved.

            Another aspect of choosing the best action is whether you are doing the right thing for the right reasons. If you are doing it for the wrong reasons, the next time you face a similar situation, you might repeat the earlier action thinking it was correct. Except for different reasons the correct action is different.

            This was partly developed from a Unitarian Universalist sermon on the question of degrees of morality. The example was concerning the UU principle of:

            Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

            The conundrum is just how far do we have to go to be moral? Do we have to recycle everything, only buy organic food, buy an electric car or only ride a bike? The answer was, do as much as you reasonably can.

            I'm with Joseph Campbell, the Sarah Lawrence U professor of comparative religion that Bill Moyers did one of his signature series with. We need a new mythology to explain morality in ways that work for our modern world.

            Those who want to pursue this kind of self styled morality, check out the UU church. There is no dogma, just the seven principles and many enquiring, searching minds who like to discuss what is important on earth, not whatever may or may not follow. To take responsibility for our own actions and inactions, using our own conscience. There are two principles that cover this:

            Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;

            A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;

            There are more than a few UUs who can't give all seven of them off the top of our heads (parroting is not a UU value :).  Almost without exception we know the first one we affirm and promote.

            The inherent worth and dignity of every person;

            May the Force be with you.

            Too much sanity may be madness. The maddest of all is to see the world as it is and not as it should be. Don Quixote "Man of La Mancha"

            by Ginny in CO on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:04:48 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Interesting (0+ / 0-)

              I guess we each have our own way of navigating ethics and morality in the world. Your approach doesn't strike me as any more or less rational or valid than the approaches used by many religious or spiritual people. It wouldn't work for me, but that doesn't make it any less valuable for you.

              Economic Left/Right: -4.00 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -6.82
              A yam.
              What a Yam!
              And that's all that - A yam.

              by AaronInSanDiego on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 11:28:48 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Exactly the point of the UU denomination. (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jayden, misreal

                This is too personal and individual a part of our lives to be dictated by someone else. It must come from within our own conscience. We have many sources to draw on, it does not involve reinventing fire or the wheel. Just finding what form works for you.

                In 32 years as an RN, in critical and home care primarily, I have one conviction about this that has not changed in decades. Some belief system has been shown to be of great benefit in life, especially in healing and recovery. The experiences I had that would qualify as medical miracles (highly improbable results) were with a Native American (with Native American beliefs) and a Catholic turned Buddhist.

                My conviction is that it doesn't matter what you believe, but that you believe.
                That what ever you have chosen as your moral guide, it has worked for you and the lesson has been to proactively rely on it.

                Too much sanity may be madness. The maddest of all is to see the world as it is and not as it should be. Don Quixote "Man of La Mancha"

                by Ginny in CO on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 12:21:22 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Actually, there is a defensible rational argument (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            misreal, Chicagoa

            against the existence of a god that is neither dogmatic nor arbitrary.

            There are a whole array of philosophical arguments all across the spectrum of beliefs. They should be respectfully argued on their merits, not arbitrarily and summarily dismissed because of cultural taboos.

            Asserting that there is no god is not necessarily a "belief", anymore than asserting there is no pink unicorn in Carl Sagan's former garage is a "belief".

            One day posterity will remember, this strange era, these strange times, when ordinary common honesty was called courage. -- Yevgeny Yevtushenko

            by RandomActsOfReason on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 04:01:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  There is a difference between (0+ / 0-)

            asserting that individual atheists don't have belief systems and asserting that atheism in itself isn't a belief system.

            Many atheists have belief systems some belief systems are even atheistic. however that still doesn't mean that atheism itself is a belief system.

            Many theists have belief systems and many belief systems are theistic that does not mean that theism itself is a belief system.

            It is no more accurate to claim that all atheist hold all the same beliefs as it is to make the same claim that all theists hold the same beliefs.

            Both Secular Humanism and Objectivism are atheistic belief systems yet save for the lack of beleif in a diety (theism) those belief systems have virtually nothing in common.

            Both Cristianity and Hinduism are theistic belief systems yet save for their beleif in deities they have very little in common.

            This is where I think many theists get into intelectual trouble in these discussions. They forget that atheism doesn't just reflect a lack of belief in their specific god but rather in all god concepts. Further their hubris makes them forget that they are not the only types of theists.

        •  But I have said... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          islanddave, RandomActsOfReason

          "I know for a fact that 'your' God does not exist."  As soon as a believer defines what thier God does, or presents evidence for existance, that stuff is pretty easy to debunk.

          You can't support the GOP and the Constitution at the same time!

          by Arsenic on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:11:40 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  As an athiest, I hope there is no God. (6+ / 0-)

          Perhaps the distinction between atheists and agnostics can be articulated by whether or not a non-believer actually hopes there is a God.  

          If there is a God, I want nothing to do with him.  At best, God is a negligent parent; at worst, God is a sadistic tyrant.  If there was a just God, children wouldn't be suffering from terminal diseases.

          As a normative question, there should NOT be a God.

          •  As an atheist, I hope there is a god... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            gmb, Jacob Bartle, northLondonLiberal

            Certainly not the God of the Bible, as you're talking about.  That guy's a total dick.

            But I do wish there were some kind of omnibenevolent god who grants people immortal life after death.  That would be superb.  Alas, there's no good reason to believe that such an absurd notion is true, and I don't waste a moment on the assumption that it is.

            •  Agree (0+ / 0-)

              It never ceases to amaze me how many theists assume I don't believe in their god because I don't want to.

              Frankly I'd love to believe. My non-existence scares the shit out of me (i know it's kind of silly not like I'll be around to experience it or anything) but there it is.

              But the absolute lack of any supporting evidence for the existence of god(s) or an afterlife and hte abunance of evidence that indicates that all cognitive functions are in fact rooted in the physical brain makes such a belief athema to my personal desire to be honest in all things even to myself.

        •  i have always thought that agnostics (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          lesliet, misreal

          were those that A. don't find enough compelling evidence to believe in a god but are not prepared to make such a bold claim in the face of societal, historical and familial pressures or B. only have a vague "this really does seem like nonsense" inclination towards religion but have not done the proper amount of historical, comparitive religion or scientific study to have formed a solid and robust counter vision of reality.

          at least that is my take on it ... i just call agnostic spineless wishy washy wannabe atheists =)

          No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith. - Thomas Paine (-5.75, -4.65)

          by whoisjohngalt on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 09:29:55 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Agnosticism / Athiesm (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dabize, misreal

            These labels are making two separate claims and both descriptors need to be applied to a person to pigeon hole their beliefs (or lack there of).

            Gnosticism is a claim of knowledge. A Gnostic Theist believes in God(s) because they have personal knowledge of it (/ them).  An Agnostic Theist believes in God(s) but claim faith instead of direct knowledge.  An Agnostic Atheist does not believe in God(s) but will not claim direct knowledge of it (/ them).  A Gnostic Atheist claims direct knowledge of the non-existence of God(s).

            This is not always what the words mean in conversation, in fact when someone is talking about Gnostics, they are usually referring to a heretical Judeo-Christian sect that believed that the God of the Bible was manifestly an evil monster, the real God was above that guy somewhere and was much more benevolent than the God of the Bible.

            Evreything Right is Wrong Again - TMBG (lyrics)

            by GreenPA on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:52:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  true ... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              misreal

              those are the literal meanings but i was mostly speaking of the colloquial meanings of atheist and agnostic ... i think in common parlance it mostly comes down to ... even in a 'mild' or 'timid' unbeliever that "atheist" has a bad connotation and there is a fear to label oneself as such where as "agnostic" seems a bit more of a safe thing to claim oneself to be in a hyper-religious society like ours but it isn't until those of us reality/reason based citizens are willing to stand up and clearly stand against "faith", and anti-reason and anti-science that are corollaries of such, that we can begin to truly form a lasting progressive liberal democratic society.

              No falsehood is so fatal as that which is made an article of faith. - Thomas Paine (-5.75, -4.65)

              by whoisjohngalt on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 10:59:47 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  Incorrect. (7+ / 0-)

      Theism   : the belief in a deity.
      A-theism : the absence of belief in a deity.

      Gnosticism  : knowledge of deities.
      A-gnosticism : the absence of knowledge of deities.

      Take a modern philosophy class before you tell us what we believe. Gnosticism and theism are carefully defined words with specific meanings. Atheism and agnosticism are NOT mutually exclusive, no matter how hard you mongoloids try to ruin the English language.

      We have weapons of mass destruction we have to address here at home. Poverty and homelessness are weapons of mass destruction. - Denny K

      by Chicagoa on Sun Jun 14, 2009 at 08:32:25 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]