Author Topic: Features of Atheist worldview  (Read 81 times)

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Online dennis

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Features of Atheist worldview
« on: Yesterday at 07:29:26 PM »
(Giving the 'Shelter' a crack - not sure if it will be boring :))

I am really interested in understanding 'where you are coming from.
Just learned on main board that atheists (and the like) don't believe evil exists, for instance. Never knew that.

What I have learned so far and what I assume of your worldview (and or consequences of adopting a materialist/naturalist mindset) is that its features are:

<> There is no objective meaning to life (create your own).
<> Evil does not exists (just a version of bad)
<> Life events are driven completely by chance
<> Morality is subjective
<> Everything is comprised of matter
<> Laws of nature (physics) are just so

and so on.
I am keen to add to the list and/or to be corrected - even nuances - so that I can understand your POV better.

Thx




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Offline Ataraxia

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #1 on: Yesterday at 08:00:22 PM »
There is no reason to believe there is an objective meaning to life.
There is no reason to believe evil exists.
There is not enough information to say conclusively that events are driven completely by chance.
There is no reason to believe that morality is anything but subjective.
There is no reason to believe that there is anything else but nature to be "just so".

Fixed those for you. Notice how your list turned negatives into positive assertions? Sorry, but I've seen through this transparency all too often.
If you keep on living your life as though your purpose is to be saved and go to heaven, you are missing the heaven that you are living in right now.

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #2 on: Yesterday at 08:24:54 PM »
(Giving the 'Shelter' a crack - not sure if it will be boring :))

I am really interested in understanding 'where you are coming from.
Just learned on main board that atheists (and the like) don't believe evil exists, for instance. Never knew that.

Well, this particular atheist believes evil exists; it's just that I recognize my definition of "evil" is subjective.

Quote
What I have learned so far and what I assume of your worldview (and or consequences of adopting a materialist/naturalist mindset) is that its features are:

<> There is no objective meaning to life (create your own).

Pretty much. That doesn't happen in a moral / social vacuum, of course. Our social and cultural upbringing generally has a heavy influence on such things.

Quote
<> Evil does not exists (just a version of bad)

See above.

Quote
<> Life events are driven completely by chance

It's not entirely clear what you mean here, but I'll assume (unless corrected) that you mean most atheists don't believe in an intelligent agency behind ordinary events. That is, we believe that Hurricane Katrina devastating New Orleans happened because of certain natural conditions, not because of some god's "plan". If so, yeah.

Quote
<> Morality is subjective

People's morality tends to be influenced by the prevailing cultural and social norms, so yeah.

Quote
<> Everything is comprised of matter

Those bits that aren't energy, sure.

Quote
<> Laws of nature (physics) are just so

Again, I'm not sure what you mean by this. Do you mean, as opposed to the Fine-tuned Universe argument?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe

If so, then yes.

Quote
and so on.
I am keen to add to the list and/or to be corrected - even nuances - so that I can understand your POV better.

Thx

Sure thing. Just keep in mind I'm not (for the most part) claiming to speak for any atheist but myself. We're a pretty varied bunch, as I hope you're starting to see.
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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Online dennis

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #3 on: Yesterday at 09:18:37 PM »
There is no reason to believe there is an objective meaning to life.
There is no reason to believe evil exists.
There is not enough information to say conclusively that events are driven completely by chance.
There is no reason to believe that morality is anything but subjective.
There is no reason to believe that there is anything else but nature to be "just so".

Fixed those for you. Notice how your list turned negatives into positive assertions? Sorry, but I've seen through this transparency all too often.

I really don't understand what you are referring too (wrt transparency')?

I don't think it is an unreasonable question to ask what it is that you ACTUALLY believe (as opposed to not believe.)

I don't believe Unicorns existed is different to I believe in unicorns existed.
The first says almost nothing and the latter says something specific.

What I am trying to understand is the ACTUAL things that make up your belief system

It is frustrating to debate with people who simply say 'I don't believe in...' - so I am trying to understand what it is you believe in.

God loves atheists more than many christians.
Revelations 3:16
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Online dennis

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #4 on: Yesterday at 09:28:21 PM »
@wright
Sorry screwed up the quoting but:

Quote
<> Everything is comprised of matter
Those bits that aren't energy, sure.


So energy is NOT matter as in it is not made up of anything at all, is that right?


Quote
<> Laws of nature (physics) are just so

Again, I'm not sure what you mean by this. Do you mean, as opposed to the Fine-tuned Universe argument?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe

If so, then yes.

Actually that is not what I mean.
I am trying to understand why you think there are laws. e.g. the first law of thermodynamics.
I want to know, in your opinion, how come there is such a law?
God loves atheists more than many christians.
Revelations 3:16
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Offline ParkingPlaces

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #5 on: Yesterday at 09:50:26 PM »
Dennis. This is a real question.

I'm 6'2" tall. Do you think that my height plays an important role in my "worldview"? That is, when confronted with reality in some way, do you imagine that I say "Hey, I'm sort of tall, I should react accordingly!"? Or do you understand that my height is normally irrelevant unless the situation involved bumping my head or ducking gunfire?

I ask because that is how relevant my atheism is to my every day life. I have merely removed the concept of god from my world and I look at it assuming there isn't one. But that assumption is not an active part of my thought process. I don't need it for anything unless I'm discussing the issue. It is a given, just like needing to breathe air, knowing that pigs don't fly and/or understanding the ineffectiveness of mistletoe when it comes to getting my ugly mug kissed. The information is there in the background, and available to me if I need it, but I don't confront the good, the bad or the ugly by remembering I'm an atheist before doing something ungodly.

When a tsunami kills thousands, I recognize that our planet can do some amazing and, in cases such as these, terrible things. I see the deaths as in inevitable by-product of such natural power, combined with everything from ineffective warning systems to people just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. I don't assign any evil the the tragedy. I see only unfortunate circumstances.

A school shooting, on the other hand, is a human being doing something to other human beings for reasons I simply can't comprehend. Yet any "evil" I assign to the act is merely me recognizing that the bad people involved were selfish SOB's with various mental and social problems that could perhaps have been addressed before the tragedy, thereby saving lives. So I see it as evil in the sense that someone was the opposite of good, but not evil in the sense that satan or original sin was involved.

No, life has no meaning. Other than what we humans assign to it. For our convenience or comfort. I've certainly done my share of assigning some sort of meaning to my life and the lives around me, but I don't for a second assume my POV to be absolutely accurate. It is part of the story I tell myself about living on earth. I'll get back to the story thing shortly.

Life events are indeed driven by chance, overall. Each of us are very lucky to be here, because it would have taken so little for any of us to not be born in the first place. Any change in history a few days or earlier prior to our conception would have either halted said conception or resulted, at best, in another combination go sperm and egg and we wouldn't be us. Right now I'm reading a history book about WWII, which took place before I was born. There were several instances where major naval attacks were planned but as the ships got ready to leave, people realized that it was Friday the 13th, and sailors consider it bad luck to embark on that date. So the ships left a day later, to avoid bad luck, and hence the battles ended differently. Victory might have gone to the other side, certainly different men would have died, and the whole course of history would have been changed enough that by 1950, when I was conceived, the odds of that specific egg and sperm getting together would have been unestimateably low. Since there is no god to know everything, my existence, and yours, was far from a given, even a few days before conception. Yet alone years before. If there is anything besides chance (and biology and a few other minor players), we don't know about it yet, and it probably isn't a major influence on existence. Things like gravity and the speed of light might have been influenced by factors other than chance, but once life got involved, chance indeed started to rule the day.

Morality is subjective. I wish it wasn't. I hope we can find a way to universalize and humanize morality so that young black men don't get shot and slaves don't get owned and soldiers stop killing, but there is a factor involved that prevents such an ideal world. And that is the humans that live in it, none of whom live by the same rules all the time. Stories are involved with here as well. Again, I'll get back to the stories in a minute.

I don't know that everything is comprised of matter (and energy, which is the same thing in a different form), but so far, it kind of looks that way. However, stories about gods and magic and wonders beyond all imagination have been a part of our human story for tens of thousands of years. This brings us back to stories. Which I shall now discuss.

All humans require stories. There is no way to exist on this planet and not have story after story in our heads explaining various aspects of reality. There is no requirement that any of these stories be accurate. They only need to be functional.

For instance, I have my own story about how American government works. It is simplistic, naïve, and inaccurate. I have never had access to good information about what goes on behind closed doors, about how big money influences politics, about what inspires a person to be a politician, about the general realities involved with governing millions of people, etc. But I've swallowed enough of the propaganda (democracy is the best way to run the world, we are a democracy, we are free, our country is great, etc.) and combined that with my own story and poof, I have ended up as a fairly decent, fairly well behaved citizen of my country, based almost entirely upon my acceptance of, and my manipulation of, a story that is totally bullshit.

And that's how humans operate. We tell ourselves stories about marriage and driving cars and the importance of our job and the relevance of entertainment and we put it all together with us inside it and poof, things seem to make sense. Even when they don't, in any accurate sense of the word.

And one of those stories often relied on is religion. Which is a story the provides a simplified view of reality, easily accepted, by the ignorant and the educated alike, so long as it matches their other stories, or influences their other stories, enough to seem plausible.

Little accuracy is available for any of our stories. No matter how much a realist a person is, they simply don't have enough information to ditch the stories and replace them with some accurate representation of reality. From time to time we have to face reality, like when a loved one dies or a partner wants a divorce or something, but most of the time we are all floating around in our individual fantasy lands, blatantly aware that our own story beats the crap out of most of the other stories, and humming along, erroneously thinking that we have our shit together.

I try to avoid the stories that are too obviously stories. Hence I'm not religious. That makes me an atheist. And I'm just as wrong as everyone else about everything else. But not about religion.

Everyone's worldview sucks. Most of them work. We would be better served if we all took it upon ourselves to add accuracy to all of our stories. We won't. And in the meantime, the religious want to stress the importance of their particular inaccuracies a bit more than I like.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Jesus, the cracker flavored treat!

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #6 on: Yesterday at 09:52:29 PM »
@wright
Sorry screwed up the quoting but:

So energy is NOT matter as in it is not made up of anything at all, is that right?

I'm just an interested layman, but this distinction seems serviceable:
Quote
In physics, energy is a property of objects, transferable among them via fundamental interactions, which can be converted into different forms but not created or destroyed.

From the wiki:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy

Maybe a more accurate way would be to say the universe is entirely material, and that matter just resides at varying levels of energy? Perhaps someone more knowledgeable will chime in.

Quote
<> Laws of nature (physics) are just so

Quote
Again, I'm not sure what you mean by this. Do you mean, as opposed to the Fine-tuned Universe argument?http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fine-tuned_Universe

If so, then yes.

Actually that is not what I mean.
I am trying to understand why you think there are laws. e.g. the first law of thermodynamics.
I want to know, in your opinion, how come there is such a law?

Ah, thanks for the clarification. Why are there such laws, or as Sagan said, patterns of nature? I haven't the foggiest idea.
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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Online dennis

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #7 on: Yesterday at 10:11:54 PM »
Got that @Wright thanks
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Online dennis

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 10:33:52 PM »
Dennis. This is a real question.

I'm 6'2" tall. Do you think that my height plays an important role in my "worldview"? That is, when confronted with reality in some way, do you imagine that I say "Hey, I'm sort of tall, I should react accordingly!"? Or do you understand that my height is normally irrelevant unless the situation involved bumping my head or ducking gunfire?
I know this is an analogy to make the point and they tend to break when stretched. But I think it is a good one and I think I can make a point by continuing it.

I believe that your height actually does influence you - albeit in ways you don't recognise.

You are less afraid of other people. People treate you differently. You are more likely to assume authority in a situation. You are a different person you would have been at 5'6".

Whilst your height IS irrelevant to the extent that you don't think about it when going about your life, it is NOT irrelevant to the decisions you make.


Quote
<...>

All humans require stories. There is no way to exist on this planet and not have story after story in our heads explaining various aspects of reality. There is no requirement that any of these stories be accurate. They only need to be functional.


All true. But in addition we also want our our stories to have meaning.
Now one of two things can happen, you can create the meaning - as you do - or you seek objective, transcendent meaning. The fact that most people instinctively search for it is evidence that it is the way we are made (and not evidence of that it exists).

But here is the thing. If you go and search for it, you actually can find it. The only evidence for that is a your personal experience of that meaningfulness.

Quote
<...>
And one of those stories often relied on is religion. Which is a story the provides a simplified view of reality, easily accepted, by the ignorant and the educated alike, so long as it matches their other stories, or influences their other stories, enough to seem plausible.

Little accuracy is available for any of our stories. No matter how much a realist a person is, they simply don't have enough information to ditch the stories and replace them with some accurate representation of reality. From time to time we have to face reality, like when a loved one dies or a partner wants a divorce or something, but most of the time we are all floating around in our individual fantasy lands, blatantly aware that our own story beats the crap out of most of the other stories, and humming along, erroneously thinking that we have our shit together.

I try to avoid the stories that are too obviously stories. Hence I'm not religious. That makes me an atheist. And I'm just as wrong as everyone else about everything else. But not about religion.

I think the idea of 'story' shouldn't be equated to fiction.

In this example we are both talking about the narratives and the meaning and purpose and values we seek as we make sense of the world. We 'organise' these ideas into a cohesive narrative and call it a story. But it is not a story in the same sense as a bedtime story or a movie story.

I agree with the points about accuracy etc. But the fact that we don't understand completely does not mean it is not essentially true.

It is not a bad thing if cobble together the stories to make a whole; a worldview should be cohesive and have explanatory power otherwise it is a useless diversion.

You acknowledge that we all have stories (some better/worse etc) but still we have them as part of the human condition.

Does it therefore not stand to reason that (at least) one of those narratives of our lives will end up being the true one?

Quote
Everyone's worldview sucks. Most of them work. We would be better served if we all took it upon ourselves to add accuracy to all of our stories. We won't. And in the meantime, the religious want to stress the importance of their particular inaccuracies a bit more than I like.

That's my story, and I'm sticking to it.

Whilst I responded to your comments, I don't particularly want to debate each element (yet) of the respective stories - I am trying to compile a list that will give me a framework for understanding the non-theistic view better.

Is there anything you want to add to the original list?

So far I have only received agreement/ explanation, but nothing new - and that is what I would like to learn more about.

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #9 on: Today at 03:24:00 AM »
There is no atheist (note the lowercase "a") worldview. There are worldviews (note the plural; no two atheists are alike) held by atheists, and nothing more. Atheism says one thing and only one thing about someone: that they don't believe in any deities.
The truth is absolute. Life forms are specks of specks (...) of specks of dust in the universe.
Why settle for normal, when you can be so much more? Why settle for something, when you can have everything?
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Offline Ataraxia

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #10 on: Today at 03:34:13 AM »
There is no reason to believe there is an objective meaning to life.
There is no reason to believe evil exists.
There is not enough information to say conclusively that events are driven completely by chance.
There is no reason to believe that morality is anything but subjective.
There is no reason to believe that there is anything else but nature to be "just so".

Fixed those for you. Notice how your list turned negatives into positive assertions? Sorry, but I've seen through this transparency all too often.

I really don't understand what you are referring too (wrt transparency')?

I don't think it is an unreasonable question to ask what it is that you ACTUALLY believe (as opposed to not believe.)

I don't believe Unicorns existed is different to I believe in unicorns existed.
The first says almost nothing and the latter says something specific.

What I am trying to understand is the ACTUAL things that make up your belief system

It is frustrating to debate with people who simply say 'I don't believe in...' - so I am trying to understand what it is you believe in.

I've seen the ploy too many times where positive assertions are attributed to someone (I'm talking in general here and not about theism and atheism) in order to catch them out in some way so that they would be in a position to justify their assertions, when in reality, they actually hold a position of non belief. If you're not doing that, that's fine and I retract the veiled accusation.

Regardless of that, I hope I managed to make a generalised correction of the statements you made in order to ease your understanding. Now I'm not saying it's all universally applicable to all atheists, because they can apply to some theists and not to some atheists.

Personally, I don't look in introspection and make a list of the things I believe in to form a worldview. I could, and it's a conversation I could have, but I don't know what that would achieve. The view of the world I have changes with every passing moment, so I struggle to see what it is I'm supposed to try and pin down with regards to a worldview when the view I have isn't static, but in constant flux.
If you keep on living your life as though your purpose is to be saved and go to heaven, you are missing the heaven that you are living in right now.

Online dennis

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #11 on: Today at 04:23:21 AM »
artaraxia

would you then say 'relativism' is part of your view, or maybe 'non_absolutism'?
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Offline Ataraxia

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Re: Features of Atheist worldview
« Reply #12 on: Today at 04:33:20 AM »
Dunno. Perhaps some of the time they are, and at other times not. If you want to try and attach a label, try AtaraxiaWiki.
If you keep on living your life as though your purpose is to be saved and go to heaven, you are missing the heaven that you are living in right now.