Author Topic: Is atheism the default position?  (Read 22082 times)

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Offline John 3 16

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #87 on: August 02, 2011, 08:04:23 PM »
Jetson
"Humans become theists by force, guilt, shame, fear, or just plain old social coercion.  The ones who claim to arrive at their "beliefs" by choice, are actually deluded.
Do you have evidence to back that statement up?
Or are you just saying "Let's just uncritically believe stuff." wait, isn't that what Screwtape said?

And you said "all gods are imaginary", what difference does it make when I say "remember Jesus died for you"

Now it's your turn to prove your statement with evidence.
Are you a hatheist?  (hey-thee-ist)

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Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #88 on: August 02, 2011, 08:19:21 PM »
Quote
There's nothing confusing about that quote beyond your lack of understanding of the language.

You're embarrassing yourself, again.
yah yah
Embarrassed pony, embezzled puny, ambassadory horny....
who cares man?

Perfect summation of your contribution here, and, seemingly, everywhere else.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 08:21:16 PM by Ambassador Pony »
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

Offline John 3 16

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #89 on: August 02, 2011, 08:30:04 PM »
Pony
Like I said "who cares?"
Just get over it man.
Besides, somebody should plant your butt right into this forum's Emergency Room board for posting such empty drivel.
Are you a hatheist?  (hey-thee-ist)

A person who vocally hates on religious individuals, often criticizing such persons for being uneducated hillbillies.

Offline jetson

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #90 on: August 02, 2011, 09:00:53 PM »
Jetson
"Humans become theists by force, guilt, shame, fear, or just plain old social coercion.  The ones who claim to arrive at their "beliefs" by choice, are actually deluded.
Do you have evidence to back that statement up?
Or are you just saying "Let's just uncritically believe stuff." wait, isn't that what Screwtape said?

And you said "all gods are imaginary", what difference does it make when I say "remember Jesus died for you"

Now it's your turn to prove your statement with evidence.

I don't really need any evidence.  The theist assertions have been made for centuries, with absolutely nothing to show for it, nothing.  There is no reason at all to believe that any god assertion is true.  None.  Nada.  Zip.  Empty.

All I am actually doing is calling out the emptiness, and showing that it still lacks even the slightest hint of fact or evidence to support it.  Unless, of course, you are the one who will finally bring it?  Yes?

Offline wright

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #91 on: August 02, 2011, 09:47:39 PM »
Now it's your turn to prove your statement with evidence.

On the contrary, it's up to theists to provide evidence for their position. If you actually have an argument to make, make it. Otherwise you're just trolling and wasting your time here.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #92 on: August 02, 2011, 09:52:23 PM »
This is drifting a little off-topic...
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Offline wright

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #93 on: August 02, 2011, 10:00:18 PM »
This is drifting a little off-topic...

Apologies for troll-feeding, all.
Live a good life... If there are no gods, then you will be gone, but will have lived a noble life that will live on in the memories of your loved ones. I am not afraid.
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Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #94 on: August 02, 2011, 10:05:59 PM »
^ me too.
You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #95 on: August 02, 2011, 10:19:46 PM »
The problem with definitions of this sort is that none go so far as to define "why" any given person is or is not an atheist.  Definitions for such things are so frickin' generic that they barely apply. It's no wonder that even we atheists disagree about the specifics.

For me it's simple. Is there a god? Nope. I was told there was a god when I was little, and I decided otherwise when I was twelve.  Had I never been told of such things, and if I lived in a world where nobody else believed in gods either, then I would not be an atheist because the word would not be necessary. In this world, it is, and the specifics of why any given person says that they are or are not an atheist in itself defines how important the word is to them. I use it only to define my position for others.  I don't often think of myself as an atheist otherwise.  Being one has little effect on my day-to-day existence, and hence the definition is only important as a gross generalization.

Speaking of gross, who the f**k is this Toilet 3 16 guy and why does he think so highly of himself?  Are we the first providers of feedback for this guy or something?  I go away for a couple of months and come back to find that our ban on twerps has been lifted?  Disappointing.

Disbelieve on, my friends. Any way you want..

Not everyone is entitled to their opinion. They're all entitled to mine though.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #96 on: August 03, 2011, 05:26:13 AM »
Anfaulir. Here are my answers

Thank you.  Would have been good if they had answered the questions, but still....I've QFT'd my questions back in - I was originally going to split it into four topics, but after drafting my response felt that really there is only one point at issue.  I've therefore added that at the base of this post, so feel free to just quote the summary when you respond, if you wish.

1) "newborns have the lack of concept of gods", I have to agree to that but how would you explain almost every culture in history of mankind, there is some sort of religious back ground.(theism) where did all these come from?
Newborns also have no concept of dragons - yet every culture in the history of mankind has some kind of dragon - therefore dragons MUST exist.  Is that your argument?
1) Just like Santa Claus.  No interaction with believers.

Ah - so your assertion is not so much that there are shared supernatural myths around the world, but that most (dragons, Santa, etc) can be discounted as unreal because there is no interaction with believers, unlike (you allege) religious beliefs.  Sorry, but if that is your argument, then you need to demonstrate a number of things.

Firstly, that any belief requires that there be interaction as a necessary component.

And secondly, that interaction can both be demonstrated to take place outside the believer's mind, and that such interaction does indeed come from the professed object of that belief.  Taking your use of Santa as an example, my four year-old has a firm belief that Santa brings him presents, and he can point to the physical evidence.  I'm sure you could easily disprove the physical aspects, but what if he claimed that the fairies in the garden "make him happy"?   


How would you explain millions of believers' experience, healing, touching, comforting.
Indeed, many millions of Hindus and Muslims have these experiences.  Therefore their god/s are real.  Is that your argument?
We were just debating on atheism vs theism. Remember I wouldn't even go further on this, because I know you won't believe.
Ah, but that's the point: if (particular god) really exists and is CAUSING those experiences, then believers of (other god) would simply not have those experiences.  The fact that they DO have them while worshipping (other god) suggests that those experiences are internally generated rather than coming from an external source - and hence there is no reason to suppose that the experiences of believers in (particular god) are not similarly generated.

Are you going to tell them those are delusional, fake, just because you didn't experienced it?
Nope.  Their experience of pain as if coming from the missing limb is quite real.  Doesn't mean the limb is still there though.
3)Mine, and millions of others experience with god is quite real too.  You just can't see it just like phantom pain.
And we are at the same point again.  Just because you have an internal experience does not automatically mean that there was an external source.  In the same way an amputee feels pain from a limb that is not there, you will need to demonstrate that the believers' experiences are not similarly internally generated.


Are religions just delusions? Fakes?  Then that's one heck a lot of delusions.  Percentage of theist 88% world wide, and 95% in America (I just google it)

I see.  So whatever a lot of people believe is therefore by definition true.  Is that your argument?

In the year 50BC, the vast majority of the world believed in either Roman gods, pagan gods, Norse gods, Aztec gods.....and so on, and so forth.  Barely 1% of the world believed in the god of the Bible - and NOBODY believed in Jesus.  99% of the world's population believed that Jayweh was a false god - if they even knew of him at all.

That's one heck of a lot of delusions, wouldn't you say?  Too many really - so they MUST have been right in their belief that Yahweh did not exist.

Is THAT your argument?
I wasn't saying "you should believe, because millions of people believes" I was saying you should start considering when there is millions of people out there experiencing something that you are denying.
besides, how can one deny it or say it's fake when one has not experienced or has no knowledge of it?

Millions of Americans believe there are aliens that abduct them.  Millions of people around the world believe - variously - in crystal healing, in chi, in ghosts, leprechauns, Bigfoot, ESP, poltergeists….I could go on, but I think you get the picture.  Point being, just because large numbers of people CLAIM that something exists, should that necessarily mean I should consider it?  Actually, to an extent, I should - or, rather, I should (and do) accept that they BELIEVE something is happening, and should enquire of them what evidence they actually have.

So….

(SUMMARY).  People believe all kinds of weird things - often in large numbers.  When what they believe is a subjective experience or feeling, there is no way of knowing whether the feeling is internally generated or externally induced - whether the effect is down to the actual existence of the object of their belief, or caused by their belief in the object (regardless of its actual existence).  If you have a suggestion as to how one can reliably tell the difference, I would be delighted to hear it.

We should also be generally open to looking at demonstrable evidence of any claim - and this is where I will pose my specific question.  You say I cannot judge because "how can one deny it or say it's fake when one has not experienced".  Okay, fair enough. 

So tell me John: specifically.  What do I need to do to have such an experience?  What will the experience feel like?  When will I have it?

You see, if these experiences ARE cause by an external force, then if I follow the same steps, I will have the same experience….will I not?  After all, " millions of people out there (are) experiencing something" so it must be pretty straightforward, n'est pas?

Over to you John.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #97 on: August 03, 2011, 06:02:25 AM »
The problem with definitions of this sort is that none go so far as to define "why" any given person is or is not an atheist.  Definitions for such things are so frickin' generic that they barely apply. It's no wonder that even we atheists disagree about the specifics.
I see the present problem as the opposite. It is not possible to define, say, mathematician, by why people become mathematicians.

Azdgari explains one side of the discussion,
Quote
In the latest of those other threads [edit: earlier threads], it was grudgingly accepted that infants lacked theism, and that they could be described as atheists on that basis.  However, they should be called "incapable atheists" or "ignorant atheists" for clarity (depending on their level of development).  There was a discussion of how atheism could result from many different paths, and that one's atheism for reason X may have nothing to do with another's atheism for reason Y.

In this thread, though, folks are rejecting that atheism can be defined as a lack of theism.  It has to be an actual choice.  An adult with no concept of gods is someone I would define as an atheist.  Not so with some of the folks around here, apparently.

Screwtape jaimehlers, Anfauglir, and I, and may be others have varying degrees of sympathy for the view that there is a difference between a person who has no concept of gods and a person who has that concept but rejects gods for whatever reason; only the latter is an atheist. Anfauglir, introduced a useful concept of the “Blank” – the mind of the neonate – to cover those who never had a concept of gods. Azdgari, and posters in earlier threads, broadly say that all that is required to qualify as an atheist is that there is a lack of belief in gods.

Azdgari would be best to put his side, but I see his view as describing a flower-pot as an amputee because it has no limbs. At the same time, he cogently adds that all that is required to qualify as an atheist is that, regardless of having a concept of gods, gods are not accepted.

This then, to my mind at least, boils down to “Are theism and atheism conscious states that have been arrived at or are absence and rejection equal?”

Azdgari looks to the etymology

atheist 1570s, from Fr. athéiste (16c.), from Gk. atheos "without god, denying the gods; abandoned of the gods; godless, ungodly," from a- "without" + theos "a god" (see Thea).

But this was at a time when the belief was that we were all born as sons of god and all had a Christian soul

Others look to the present definition
Atheist: noun, a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings. (It is useful to see the definition of belief: 2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof.)

I don’t think that anyone has suggested that neonates have a concept of god, therefore the default state is that gods are absent in the same way that limbs, in my earlier analogy with a flowerpot, are absent.

I see some merit in infants (as decided above) as, they should be called "incapable atheists" or "ignorant atheists" for clarity (depending on their level of development). but Anfauglir’s “Blanks” seems more appropriate.

Quote
Speaking of gross, who the f**k is this Toilet 3 16 guy and why does he think so highly of himself?
Ha! He is our resident godbotherer, who is needed to prevent WWGHA becoming a backslapping party where minor points take on a huge importance.
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Offline gonegolfing

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #98 on: August 03, 2011, 07:51:05 AM »
No one here said that newborns are atheists simply because of lack of belief. If you would have read my post properly, you would have seen that it is indeed about choice, cognitive choice to be exact, and that a newborn cannot make that choice and so the default atheistic position is automatic. Some day the position, whether it be atheist or theist, will actually be a cognitive choice, but until the power to do that is there, it's default atheist due to the lack of information and experience of the concept of gods.
No, it's a default blank slate, just like a newborn's language is a default blank slate.  Someone with no information on a subject cannot properly fall into either category, atheist or theist, until they have enough information for one of those categories to apply.

And I beg to differ, despite your statement about it not being about lack of belief, others in this thread have made that very argument, that newborns lack belief and thus are default atheists.  Just to pick one: 
but the definition i go by is a lack of belief in a god.   it is not a belief in and of itself.    so, if a baby doesn't understand the concept of a god, of course the baby can't believe in it.   so it lacks belief in a god, thus is is atheist.

For christ sakes !  :o  Did your mother drop you on your head as an infant ?  ;D

Look, I'm sorry you can't understand the argument going on here, but it is what it is. Play word games if you like to mask that, or to be willfully stubborn and dogmatic about your opinions, but the plain fact is that all newborns are "without beliefs in gods", thus atheists.

The term "lack of belief" actually doesn't apply here. Newborns are not lacking or deficient in god beliefs. They don't need them therefore do not lack them. They are simply without them... a-theist.

The prefix a- : meaning, without; not having: ....a-theist, a-causal, a-caulescent, a-cephalous, a-phasia, a-sexual ...et cetera...... all words describing something as not having or without.

All newborns do not have and are without belief in gods. Therefore are default atheists.

You may not have the guts or intelligence to assign newborns that label, but that's irrelevant anyways, as the biological processes of nature unkowingly and automatically assigns them to the position. No permission necessary, especially from you  ;)

Your wrong, so stop with the semantics, and being so god damned stubborn about it.
"I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism"....Penn Jillette.

Offline Omen

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #99 on: August 03, 2011, 09:11:26 AM »
Just curious, but why do you think that atheism is the default position for humans?

Its a bit of a misnomer, but I agree with Jetson in principle.  Atheism is, as far as logic is concerned, a type of meaningless position defined by its lack of belief in another position.  We do not engage in any other kind of polemical discussion about any other type of subject, such as belief in unicorns vs a non-belief in unicorns.  We don't label those who don't believe in unicorns, yet everyone around is a true non-believer in unicorns like any atheist is a true non-believer in a god(s).  The burden of proof is instantly placed upon the person claiming there is a unicorn, nothing is expected of the one that doesn't believe and the same applies to atheism.

I'll never have to disprove what cannot be proven.  That being said, I can offer disproofs of anything that has a contradictory context, regardless if it is proven or not proven to exist.

Quote
However, that suggests that theism may be the default position for humans

Natural behavior isn't contiguous with 'default' logical positions., its natural behavior for humans to make things up to explain reality, but logically no amount of what is made up is the default position for anything.
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Offline Omen

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #100 on: August 03, 2011, 09:17:06 AM »
Jetson
"Humans become theists by force, guilt, shame, fear, or just plain old social coercion.  The ones who claim to arrive at their "beliefs" by choice, are actually deluded." 
Do you have evidence to back that statement up?

Of course, one only need to go as far as your own proselytizing on this forum, after avoiding discussions that require you to demonstrate the validity and authenticity of your claims .. you fall back on emotional rhetoric.  You use platitudes in place of arguing in the affirmative for your claims, trying to describe it as a 'choice' to believe in crap no one has reason to believe in the first place.

Most evangelical apologetics also function in the same manner; by trying to impose guilty or concentrating on fear as a reason to believe.  One only need to go as far as pascals wager or any christian platitude that invokes guilt,"Jesus died for you!"

Not to mention such condemnation as science, education, and the concentration on preying upon children.  Surely you've heard,"Get them while they're young!", that is before they go to college and realize that much of their emotional dependencies tied to religion are meaningless.
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Offline relativetruth

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #101 on: August 03, 2011, 10:15:01 AM »
Assigning a default position on a newborn regarding theism is totally meaningless.

At best the theistic state of the little human is undefined, not even blank because it is possible that the genes of the infant may predetermine a tendency towards theism or whatever.

Only after the toddler becomes more aware of its environment can it make up its own mind.

If you wish to use the word 'default' it only makes sense when you consider the child's environment.
A child brought up with a theist background is likely to be theist.
The thinking of a child brought up by wolves is undefined until the child meets humanity.
Having said that I do understand the sentiments of Richard Dawkins when he reacts to people talking of the 'Catholic child' or the 'Muslim child'.

I try not to get too hung up about the semantics of words because I believe that ALL human languages evolve and individual words taken on slightly different meanings as time goes on. So there never can be any overall authority for any word. It just takes one stand-up comedian and youTube, Twitter, Facebook to add a new meaning.

Even if the word 'atheist' came about by just adding the 'a' to mean the opposite it is the way the word has been used by the majority of English speakers which counts for its most common meaning. So that if your meaning is in the minority you should be qualifying the context when you use it depending on your company at the time.   



God(s) exist and are imaginary

Offline Karl

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #102 on: August 03, 2011, 11:49:56 AM »
Well, you sort of do, in that you know of concepts of gods.  I was referring to an adult who had never been exposed to the concept in any way, shape or form.
You're right. I should have said that I do not accept any concept of god. I goes beyond that. I understand that people are looking for a holdfast in order to get a grip on their lives. However I have no idea why they believe this god thing in so many different ways, all of them delusional. I simply don't understand that. Especially as there are no results, never have been and never will be. That's for a different thread I guess.

Online jaimehlers

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #103 on: August 03, 2011, 12:24:25 PM »
I am not sure that a word-definition and a scientific theory can be compared for "robustness", since one is a subjectively-selected tool to convey thoughts, and the other attempts to describe the objective universe.  I meant that the broader usage of the word is less dependent on knowing peoples' (and others') thoughts, and so is more useful as a label.  It means less.  That's not a bad thing.
What I was referring to was the tendency of certain kinds of people to generalize the meaning of the word 'theory' to the more common layman's definition of it, even when the scientific meaning is what's intended (a favorite tactic of many creationists, and one I loathe).  I agree that a broader meaning is not necessarily a bad thing, but it's possible for it to be too broad - for people with a vested interest in one meaning to emphasize that meaning and pretend the others don't exist.

The reason that definitions of atheism that mean more are better enablers of bigotry, is that they make atheism more important.[1]  Atheism isn't important, or at least, it shouldn't be.  Atheism does not define my identity except in relation to theism.  I would prefer it if atheism never came up at all in life.  It should not be an issue.  But it is, and those of us who are atheistic can become primarily identified as such to other people (mainly theists).
 1. Note that I wasn't calling you a bigot.  That also wasn't the content of my speculation re: your motives.  The speculation was that since you are not an atheist (by any of the mentioned definitions), you may be less sensitized or caring about the ramifications, to atheists, of your preferred definition.
I don't disagree with the gist of this statement.  What I'm unclear on is how giving something a broader meaning makes the word mean less.

Jaimehlers, you're a heretic with respect to a lot of peoples' beliefs.  What if your primary identity in the eyes of the majority of the population was "Heretic"?  You might not mind all that much...or you might.  I don't know you, so I won't speculate there.  But being identified in that way is a dangerous potential precursor to discrimination based on that label.  A difference that's seen as significant is more likely to earn discrimination by "normal" people without that difference.
Well, I can see what you mean, at least.  In another country, in another time, being called a heretic would be actively dangerous.  It's a lot harder to justify that kind of accusation here and now, though, but I suspect it's not far dissimilar from the way atheists are treated by too many Americans today.

By the way, "definitely not having a belief" is not how Graybeard has been defining "atheism".  And definite to whom?  Is the state of being an atheist a subjective one?
All I meant by that was someone who doesn't have a religious belief - i.e., a belief in a god or gods, whether it was a simple lack of belief or an active disbelief.  Though...come to think of it, I lack belief in the Hindu gods, but that's not the same as saying I actively disbelieve in them.  Their existence, or lack thereof, is unimportant to me and doesn't matter at all to me, but I don't go and tell Hindus that their gods don't exist, either.  So maybe lack of belief and disbelief aren't the same and shouldn't be defined as such, as I was doing.

Quote
fishjie:  Being able to believe in a concept requires being able to understand it (i.e, have an understanding of it, even if not a perfect one).  If you don't have the latter, then the former is meaningless.

I'm not quite sure what you are referring to here with "the former".  Do you mean the idea of "lack of belief"?  Because that's not meaningless - it's trivial.  I for one am okay with it having a trivial meaning in those cases.  Atheism should be trivial.
"The latter" is the ability to understand a concept, "the former" is the ability to believe in a concept.  Does that explain it better.

Regarding our 'misunderstanding' - if, as you say (and I agree), you can judge based on their behaviour that animals lack theistic religious beliefs, how is it then unreasonable in your eyes to conclude - albeit weakly - that they lack theistic religious beliefs?

If we can come to that conclusion for humans and call them atheistic, then it seems a strange double-standard to refrain from doing so for animals.  It is only the deliberate-communication thing?  Why is that so important?
Animals do not act in a way that is consistent with what we recognize as theistic behavior, so we have to conclude that they don't have theistic beliefs - and probably don't understand what theistic beliefs are.  So it isn't that it's unreasonable to conclude that they lack religious beliefs, it's that I don't think it's appropriate to use the same terminology for something that doesn't understand what religious beliefs are as for someone who does but doesn't accept them.

I am all for using precise language.  There are modifiers that one can use to identify precisely what kind of atheist one is talking about.  Nowhere in this thread (or others, as far as I know) have I advocated the use of vague language.
I wasn't trying to suggest that you were advocating vague language.  My problem is as I stated in my previous paragraph, that I don't think the terminology 'atheist' should apply to something that has no understanding of what a religious belief is.

For christ sakes !  :o  Did your mother drop you on your head as an infant ?  ;D

Look, I'm sorry you can't understand the argument going on here, but it is what it is. Play word games if you like to mask that, or to be willfully stubborn and dogmatic about your opinions, but the plain fact is that all newborns are "without beliefs in gods", thus atheists.
What purpose does it serve to suggest that I got dropped on my head as an infant, or that I can't understand the argument, or that I'm playing word games to 'mask' it, as you put it?  If it was intended jokingly, it was in poor taste.

As for your "plain fact", I explained my reasoning above.  I don't think it's appropriate to use the same terminology for something that doesn't understand what religious beliefs are as for someone who does but doesn't accept them.

The term "lack of belief" actually doesn't apply here. Newborns are not lacking or deficient in god beliefs. They don't need them therefore do not lack them. They are simply without them... a-theist.
Indeed, they don't understand what religious beliefs are.  However, your statement that "they don't need them" is immaterial to the discussion[2].  They do not know what they are, therefore 'need' and 'not-need' are both beside the point.  There is also a distinct difference between someone who can knowingly choose to not have a belief, and someone (such as a newborn) who doesn't even understand the concept of a belief.  I do not think the same term should be used to refer to both.

The prefix a- : meaning, without; not having: ....a-theist, a-causal, a-caulescent, a-cephalous, a-phasia, a-sexual ...et cetera...... all words describing something as not having or without.

All newborns do not have and are without belief in gods. Therefore are default atheists.
You accused me of playing word games earlier, yet you are doing exactly the same thing in order to prove your point.  So why is it okay for you to play word games, despite your criticism earlier?

You may not have the guts or intelligence to assign newborns that label,
Ad hominem/personal attack.  As such, inappropriate to the discussion.

but that's irrelevant anyways, as the biological processes of nature unkowingly and automatically assigns them to the position. No permission necessary, especially from you  ;)

Your wrong, so stop with the semantics, and being so god damned stubborn about it.
You're arguing just as much based on semantics, yet it's wrong for me to argue my point based on semantics?  Since when do you get to arbitrate what is and isn't appropriate about semantics?
 2. By the same token, stating that "they need them" would also be immaterial.

Offline gonegolfing

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #104 on: August 03, 2011, 01:43:32 PM »


Quote
Quote
For christ sakes !  :o  Did your mother drop you on your head as an infant ?  ;D

Look, I'm sorry you can't understand the argument going on here, but it is what it is. Play word games if you like to mask that, or to be willfully stubborn and dogmatic about your opinions, but the plain fact is that all newborns are "without beliefs in gods", thus atheists.
Quote
What purpose does it serve to suggest that I got dropped on my head as an infant, or that I can't understand the argument, or that I'm playing word games to 'mask' it, as you put it?  If it was intended jokingly, it was in poor taste.

As for your "plain fact", I explained my reasoning above.  I don't think it's appropriate to use the same terminology for something that doesn't understand what religious beliefs are as for someone who does but doesn't accept them.

Only a person who has been dropped on their head numerous times would think I was being serious about that question  ;)

Yes, and your reasoning is wrong. Appropriate to you or not, means nothing to the fact. There's no offence to the newborn in calling it what it is.... a-theist.

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The term "lack of belief" actually doesn't apply here. Newborns are not lacking or deficient in god beliefs. They don't need them therefore do not lack them. They are simply without them... a-theist.
Indeed, they don't understand what religious beliefs are.  However, your statement that "they don't need them" is immaterial to the discussion[1].  They do not know what they are, therefore 'need' and 'not-need' are both beside the point.  There is also a distinct difference between someone who can knowingly choose to not have a belief, and someone (such as a newborn) who doesn't even understand the concept of a belief.  I do not think the same term should be used to refer to both.
 1. By the same token, stating that "they need them" would also be immaterial.

You're hopelessly lost in the abyss that is your argument. Start over again.

Quote
The prefix a- : meaning, without; not having: ....a-theist, a-causal, a-caulescent, a-cephalous, a-phasia, a-sexual ...et cetera...... all words describing something as not having or without.

All newborns do not have and are without belief in gods. Therefore are default atheists.
You accused me of playing word games earlier, yet you are doing exactly the same thing in order to prove your point.  So why is it okay for you to play word games, despite your criticism earlier?

Stop whining ! I'm explaining word structure to disprove your point, not prove mine. Get serious would you please ?

Quote
You may not have the guts or intelligence to assign newborns that label,
Ad hominem/personal attack.  As such, inappropriate to the discussion.

I said may not. I did not say do not. A tad speculative maybe, but I am still curious. Regardless, your still whining. If you keep that up you'll lose credibility fast around here. Toughen up.

Quote
but that's irrelevant anyways, as the biological processes of nature unknowingly and automatically assigns them to the position. No permission necessary, especially from you  ;)

Your wrong, so stop with the semantics, and being so god damned stubborn about it.
You're arguing just as much based on semantics, yet it's wrong for me to argue my point based on semantics?  Since when do you get to arbitrate what is and isn't appropriate about semantics?

Your hopeless. There's only one meaning for the word a-theist. Without belief in gods. No mental and semantical acrobatics needed. Yes it is wrong for you, as you're the one trying to disprove a truth by using lexical word games and petty rubbish arguments. You can do better...No ?

Remember your original question ?
Quote
Is atheism the default position?

Taken at face value, the answer is unequivocally, Yes. And you have no argument to refute that.

Cheers
"I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism"....Penn Jillette.

Offline relativetruth

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #105 on: August 03, 2011, 02:02:32 PM »


 There's only one meaning for the word a-theist. Without belief in gods. No mental and semantical acrobatics needed.
Remember the original question ?
Quote
Is atheism the default position?

Taken at face value, the answer is unequivocally, Yes. And you have no argument to refute that.

Cheers

Gonegolfing ,

could you address the points I raised in my last post?
can you be assured that your definition of 'atheist' is that of the majority in the English speaking world?
Assigning a default position on a newborn regarding theism is totally meaningless.

At best the theistic state of the little human is undefined, not even blank because it is possible that the genes of the infant may predetermine a tendency towards theism or whatever.

Only after the toddler becomes more aware of its environment can it make up its own mind.

If you wish to use the word 'default' it only makes sense when you consider the child's environment.
A child brought up with a theist background is likely to be theist.
The thinking of a child brought up by wolves is undefined until the child meets humanity.
Having said that I do understand the sentiments of Richard Dawkins when he reacts to people talking of the 'Catholic child' or the 'Muslim child'.

I try not to get too hung up about the semantics of words because I believe that ALL human languages evolve and individual words taken on slightly different meanings as time goes on. So there never can be any overall authority for any word. It just takes one stand-up comedian and youTube, Twitter, Facebook to add a new meaning.

Even if the word 'atheist' came about by just adding the 'a' to mean the opposite it is the way the word has been used by the majority of English speakers which counts for its most common meaning. So that if your meaning is in the minority you should be qualifying the context when you use it depending on your company at the time.   




God(s) exist and are imaginary

Offline fishjie

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #106 on: August 03, 2011, 03:13:00 PM »
While the semantic argument is interesting, I think the relevant point here is what position a child eventually chooses is based entirely upon their religious upbringing.   They've got a blank slate, and whatever ideas they get filled with, no matter how flawed, will tend to stick.

In my case, my parents were atheist, but a christian church did outreach and got me while i was young, and not old enough to reason critically.    My dad, who survived the Cultural Revolution in China, had remarked that the whole concept of Jesus reminded him of the whole cult of personality of Mao.   People who believed in Mao did not think critically and just accepted Mao's authority on faith.   They practically deified the chairman.    My dad was old enough to know better than to buy into christianity; I was not.    He figured it'd be a good way for me to make friends, so he encouraged me to go to church anyway.

If a child grows up without religious influences in their life, there is little reason for them to choose religion.   True adult conversions typically come about because of some emotional trauma or suffering.   Example a drug addict frustrated with life turns to God and gains comfort as a result.    Otherwise, the only other reason would be because of social pressure.   For example, lots of people in the South go to church, because you are looked down upon if you don't.   Most don't believe in the stuff in the Bible though, so they don't really count as conversions per se.    I've been considering paying a visit to my first church, just because I have many fond memories there, and care about all the members there, and its a laid back environment, more like a social club.   Do I believe any of that shit?   Hell no.

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #107 on: August 03, 2011, 03:15:36 PM »
fishjie:  Good points in your most recent post.  I think I can agree that many people, though not all, make the decision based on their upbringing as a child.

Only a person who has been dropped on their head numerous times would think I was being serious about that question  ;)

Yes, and your reasoning is wrong. Appropriate to you or not, means nothing to the fact. There's no offence to the newborn in calling it what it is.... a-theist.
As I said, insinuating that someone got dropped on their head is in poor taste.

And who cares about offense?  This isn't about whether the newborn is offended by such a term, this is about whether the term is accurate.  If it is not accurate, it is not appropriate to use, and that is my point.  And I still do not accept that it is appropriate to use; whether you talk about an atheist or a theist, both suggest that the person has an understanding of what theism is.

Quote
The term "lack of belief" actually doesn't apply here. Newborns are not lacking or deficient in god beliefs. They don't need them therefore do not lack them. They are simply without them... a-theist.
Indeed, they don't understand what religious beliefs are.  However, your statement that "they don't need them" is immaterial to the discussion.  They do not know what they are, therefore 'need' and 'not-need' are both beside the point.  There is also a distinct difference between someone who can knowingly choose to not have a belief, and someone (such as a newborn) who doesn't even understand the concept of a belief.  I do not think the same term should be used to refer to both.

You're hopelessly lost in the abyss that is your argument. Start over again.
Kindly illustrate how I am "lost in the abyss", then.  If I truly am, then it should not be difficult to actually show this, rather than just saying it.

Stop whining ! I'm explaining word structure to disprove your point, not prove mine. Get serious would you please ?
I'm completely serious.  Also, it's 'whining' for me to ask why it's appropriate for you to use semantics in your argument (to prove I'm wrong), but it's not appropriate for me to use semantics in my argument (to prove my point)?  It doesn't work that way.  You don't have the right to tell me that I should stop with the semantics, in any case.

Quote
You may not have the guts or intelligence to assign newborns that label,
Ad hominem/personal attack.  As such, inappropriate to the discussion.
I said may not. I did not say do not. A tad speculative maybe, but I am still curious. Regardless, your still whining. If you keep that up you'll lose credibility fast around here. Toughen up.
There is not enough difference between calling someone's guts and intelligence into question and saying that they don't have enough guts or intelligence for this to not be a personal attack.

Second, to put it bluntly, I am not willing to blithely ignore personal attacks directed at me.  I can and will call people on them, because they are logical fallacies and should not be used in arguments.  It has nothing to do with whining, nor does it have anything to do with "toughening up".

Your hopeless. There's only one meaning for the word a-theist. Without belief in gods. No mental and semantical acrobatics needed. Yes it is wrong for you, as you're the one trying to disprove a truth by using lexical word games and petty rubbish arguments. You can do better...No ?
I don't accept that there is only one meaning.  For one thing, there is a difference between having a lack of belief in a deity or deities and actively disbelieving in them.  For another, having or lacking belief presupposes the ability to believe in the first place.  Stating that something which cannot believe in a deity (due to lacking the capability for belief) is an atheist (as the decision not to believe in a deity, for whatever reason, is an actual choice that requires the capacity to believe) makes no sense.

Also:  So it's right for you to use semantics to prove your case, but it's wrong for me to use semantics to prove my case (or as you say, "trying to disprove a truth").  Just making sure I know where you stand.

Remember your original question ?
Quote
Is atheism the default position?

Taken at face value, the answer is unequivocally, Yes. And you have no argument to refute that.

Cheers
The person who I asked that question of (jetson) later conceded that the default position was not 'atheism', described as a conscious lack of belief.  That is, in large part, the basis of my argument - that the state of newborns differs significantly enough from a conscious lack of belief that it cannot accurately be described with the same term.  Disagreeing with me is your prerogative, but don't claim that I have no argument at all.

Offline Omen

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #108 on: August 03, 2011, 03:27:02 PM »
Screwtape jaimehlers, Anfauglir, and I, and may be others have varying degrees of sympathy for the view that there is a difference between a person who has no concept of gods and a person who has that concept but rejects gods for whatever reason; only the latter is an atheist. Anfauglir, introduced a useful concept of the “Blank” – the mind of the neonate – to cover those who never had a concept of gods. Azdgari, and posters in earlier threads, broadly say that all that is required to qualify as an atheist is that there is a lack of belief in gods.

Can you name any other claim/position that is treated in the exact same way as 'god' belief?

Meaning a label for non-belief in that position vs a label for belief in that position.

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Offline Emergence

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #109 on: August 03, 2011, 04:05:41 PM »
`scuse my following rant, but after having read and even participated in more than one such threads and or discussions (see examples of July 2009 and July 2010[1]) I have come to a very simple conclusion: The whole discussion is a large steaming heap of bullshit.  8)

And here is why: Language is a tool for communication and not an end in itself. When someone says that babies are "atheists" it is of course clear that this is an instance of the broadest possible use of the word. Same would go for babies are "non-theists", "non-believers", "without beliefs", "a-religious" or what ever term you may want to use. All this indicate one simple thing: babies hold no beliefs whatsoever, because they have not developed a concept of beliefs yet. Why? Simply because babies are without knowledge or simply 'ignorant' in the broadest sense of the word.

The word "atheism" is neither needed, nor the only possible word to be used to indicate that babies have no concept of and thus no belief in god(s). It also is possibly not the best word. The best word to describe this fact might be - brace yourself - "BABY"!!!

But why is this simple fact even worth discussing? I plead guilty finding it worth of discussion myself, in the past. But really what for? Trivial fact is: Babies do not hold any kind of "god belief" just as they do not speak a particular language. That means that the potential for belief is innate, but content belief isn't. And that is - in my opinion - the only point worth noting here.

Whether or not babies can or should be called "atheists" is a non issue as no side of the "clash of worldviews" is any the wiser from it. Considering that the original human developmental default is 'ignorance' (not in the sense of "blank slate" but in the sense of "lacking reasoned opinion") why would i as "atheist by reasoning" want to have a large cohort of "default ignoramusses" backing up "our ranks"?

I don't care whether or not babies can legitimately be called "atheists" as long as it is universally conceded that they are surely not "theists". Period. :police:
 1. These discussions seem to have a periodicity of 1/a. Cool.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2011, 04:15:49 PM by Emergence »
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Online jaimehlers

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #110 on: August 03, 2011, 04:16:34 PM »
I have to say that after Emergence's post...

/thread

Offline gonegolfing

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #111 on: August 04, 2011, 08:33:54 AM »
We're you addressing me with that post ? Sorry for the delay if so ;)

Quote
Assigning a default position on a newborn regarding theism is totally meaningless.

Regarding theism, yes it is meaningless, as newborns have no awareness of god concepts yet. Regarding a-theism no it is not, as all newborns have default positions at birth, not just the "without belief in gods" position. However the issue at hand is the atheist position and as I've said all along, technically speaking we are fully right to apply that label to a newborn as it is in the atheist position by the most widely accepted logical definition of the word.

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At best the theistic state of the little human is undefined, not even blank because it is possible that the genes of the infant may predetermine a tendency towards theism or whatever.

Oooops, that an assumption mate. Not applicable to the discussion

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Only after the toddler becomes more aware of its environment can it make up its own mind.

No question there. Absolutely true.

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If you wish to use the word 'default' it only makes sense when you consider the child's environment.
A child brought up with a theist background is likely to be theist.
The thinking of a child brought up by wolves is undefined until the child meets humanity.
Having said that I do understand the sentiments of Richard Dawkins when he reacts to people talking of the 'Catholic child' or the 'Muslim child'.

Just like a computer gets shipped to you with certain default positions, so does a newborn. Without belief in gods is one of them, and remember, technically speaking, that puts them into the atheistic position.  ;)

Quote
I try not to get too hung up about the semantics of words because I believe that ALL human languages evolve and individual words taken on slightly different meanings as time goes on. So there never can be any overall authority for any word. It just takes one stand-up comedian and youTube, Twitter, Facebook to add a new meaning.

I don't either. But the word atheist, which I broke down in a previous post, has no wiggle room for multiple meanings and definitions. Athiest, is a word you can trust to have a clear meaning. The application of a word is of course a different matter, but that doesn't change its general meaning. So it is with the word atheist, as it has a very specific unalterable meaning which can be applied in a technical sense to the topic at hand...newborns.

Quote
Even if the word 'atheist' came about by just adding the 'a' to mean the opposite it is the way the word has been used by the majority of English speakers which counts for its most common meaning. So that if your meaning is in the minority you should be qualifying the context when you use it depending on your company at the time.
The definition I use is irrefutable as it is. It's not my definition. It's the combination of a prefix with a specific unalterable meaning and a noun with a specific unalterable meaning.

The difference of opinion in this thread is a result of those who are choosing to use logical semantics on the meaning of the word atheist, making it an action or belief word , and those of us who are properly, for this instance, using lexical semantics on the meaning of the word atheist to prove that it is definitely a word about position, which in the case of a newborn, is by default.

jaimehlers, still has his knickers in a knot(as you can see in his latest respone to me) based on his personal feelings about the topic and has failed to accept the exact meaning of the word atheist and how it is to be applied from a technical standpoint. His objection that "You can't do that to a newborn!! It's inappropriate !!" doesn't change the facts about the meaning of the word and how it is, and can be, applied.

As a matter of fact, all newborns are in the agnostic position as well. Not only are they without god beliefs, but they are also without the knowledge of god concepts, and therefore could be said to be in the agnostic/atheist position at birth as well.


jaimehlers was, by default, born a male with a penis. He had no choice in the matter. He doesn't know at that point he's a male with a penis. As a matter of fact he has no idea of what he is and what that thing is between his legs. But it doesn't matter, as he has been assigned a definition of what he is with a word that matches and best describes that fact that he has a penis and is definitely.."without a vagina", which of course makes him a male. We can't change that fact and try to avoid labeling him what, by default, he truly is. We can't say "Hold on now !! we can't call him a male until he decides to call himself a male first!!" It doesn't work that way, but that about sums up what jaimehlers is trying to do here.

Cheers mate





« Last Edit: August 04, 2011, 08:37:07 AM by gonegolfing »
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Offline gonegolfing

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #112 on: August 04, 2011, 08:52:19 AM »

Quote
I don't care whether or not babies can legitimately be called "atheists" as long as it is universally conceded that they are surely not "theists". Period. :police:

Nor do I  ;)

I'm not about to walk into a birthing room and say "My what a lovely baby! And isn't it fabulous that it's an atheist to boot !!"...That's not my style  ;)

However, jaimehlers OP not only deserved addressing, but needed addressing, as I could see the direction that he was more than likely to take it in. Which of course he did, and that direction needed to be challenged.

Cheers mate
"I believe that there is no God. I'm beyond atheism"....Penn Jillette.

Offline John 3 16

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #113 on: August 04, 2011, 10:00:51 AM »
I have to say Gonegolfing is RIGHT this time.
Even biblically correct.

I don't know if you guys count enemy's vote though ;)
Are you a hatheist?  (hey-thee-ist)

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Offline Omen

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #114 on: August 04, 2011, 10:52:51 AM »
I don't know if you guys count enemy's vote though ;)

I do not have an ideological belief system that defines people who do not believe as I do the enemy.

That would be your ideology, that defines everyone who doesn't believe as the enemy and predictably condemns them using every hateful accusation feasible.  Fools, liars, beasts, dogs, swine, and none shall do good.
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Offline John 3 16

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #115 on: August 04, 2011, 11:35:02 AM »
I am glad you don't have THAT ideological belief system.

believe or not, neither do I, and if any of my actions in my posts appeared offensive to you.
I apologize.

I am no longer in my emotional stage, I just read Jetson's comment "Humans become theists by force, guilt, shame, fear, or just plain old social coercion.  The ones who claim to arrive at their "beliefs" by choice, are actually deluded."
To me it sounded like bunch of personal opinion without any evidence. that's all. 
Are you a hatheist?  (hey-thee-ist)

A person who vocally hates on religious individuals, often criticizing such persons for being uneducated hillbillies.