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Offline penfold

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Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« on: June 06, 2013, 09:29:33 AM »
Browsing through the topics on this forum I have been struck by how many take the form of ‘challenges’ to religion. All of these threads, rely on a certain assumption, an assumption that seems central to many, if not most, atheist critiques of religion. This assumption is that religion can be reduced to a set of propositions. Some of the most commonly addressed of these include:

God exists.
Scripture is historically/scientifically accurate.
Miracles occur.
Humans have immortal souls.
God is required to justify morality.
etc…

The obvious reason for reducing religion to these kinds of propositions is that they can be easily undermined through argument. We can show that there is no basis for the claim God exits or that we can in fact justify morality without reference to God (a forteriori we can even point out that the concept of God fails to justify morality in the first place!)

All of this is great; in fact a nice little industry of atheist advocates (Dawkins, Harris, Dennet et al.) has been given life. Similarly an industry of theist apologists has emerged (Lane Craig, DeSouza etc…) who spend time trying to defend the propositional truth claims of religion.

However for most religious people this debate seems to have little impact. Put bluntly the project of atheist advocates like Dawkins seems to be changing relatively few minds (though it has been a notable number of ‘closet atheists’ who now feel emboldened to ‘come out’ – and for this Dawkins and co should be applauded). Yet in general religion has been largely unaffected.

What is going on? It seems that there are a few options. Either:

(a)   Religious people are inherently stupid and cannot understand argument.
(b)   Religious people are burying their heads in the sand or simply have not heard the arguments.
(c)   People’s religious belief is not propositional; and the undermining of propositions like “God exits” is insufficient to undermine religion.

Now probably all three are true of some people. Doubtless we can find examples of religious people who lack the mental capacity to understand argument – though we could also find atheists who are equally stupid; as far as I am aware there is no evidence linking religion to lower IQ – certainly in my own experience I have found no reason to link religiousness with stupidity. Similarly we can probably find many religious people who are unaware of sceptical argument; my guess is that in nations where education is sporadic and underfunded this may be true of many people.

However my suspicion is that for most theists option (c) is the reason that atheist critiques have little impact. In fact this should not surprise us. If we look at the life of religious people we find, in most cases, that those of a religious persuasion were brought up in that religion. In many cases this is augmented by religious experiences of one kind or another. Even more significant is that fact that religion is primarily about praxis; it is about ritual activity – worship, prayer, meditation, charitable works, ethical problem solving etc… Finally religion is re-enforced by strong community activity and cohesion.

Let us imagine a Christian, for the sake of argument let us make her a university graduate. This morning she got up and prayed which made her feel peaceful. She then had breakfast with her family whom she loves and who love her and are also Christian. She sees a homeless man on the way to work and recalling the story of the Good Samaritan buys him a coffee which gives her a wonderful sense of having done good. At work she is irritated by a college but remembering Jesus’ teaching of love is able to suppress her anger and in doing so manages to resolve the problem well. On her way home the light striking the summer leaves gives her a sense of the numinous beauty of God’s creation. Before bed she logs onto WWGHA and reads a thread about how the teleological hypothesis - that the universe is designed - is unjustified.

It seems to me naïve in the extreme to suppose that her faith would be substantially affected; even if she saw that the argument against the teleological hypothesis was correct.

It seems to me that if we really want to advocate atheism (for the record I am not wholly convinced we should be); the kind of rational attacks on the propositional aspect of religion is completely insufficient. Religion is not merely a set of beliefs it is far more integral to a person’s experience, their ‘way of being in the world’.

Much affection as I have for this forum I suspect a lot of the atheist advocacy on here is a waste of time…
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline screwtape

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2013, 09:42:58 AM »
What is going on? It seems that there are a few options. Either:

(a)   Religious people are inherently stupid and cannot understand argument.
(b)   Religious people are burying their heads in the sand or simply have not heard the arguments.
(c)   People’s religious belief is not propositional; and the undermining of propositions like “God exits” is insufficient to undermine religion.
...
However my suspicion is that for most theists option (c) is the reason that atheist critiques have little impact.

I think that is close, but not quite it.  I think it has a lot more to do with how the human brain works.  It makes decisions emotionally and post hoc justifies them. Once it has a belief, it does not look for ways to that it could be wrong, but rather does everything it can to justify it. 

Much affection as I have for this forum I suspect a lot of the atheist advocacy on here is a waste of time…

I totally agree.
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Offline penfold

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2013, 10:08:23 AM »

I think that is close, but not quite it.  I think it has a lot more to do with how the human brain works.  It makes decisions emotionally and post hoc justifies them. Once it has a belief, it does not look for ways to that it could be wrong, but rather does everything it can to justify it. 

Agreed; Russell in his radio debate with Coplestone makes this point very well. Of course there is a darkness here; if we accept that this is true of religious belief, what about other - apparently rational - beliefs?

There is a disquieting study on patients (ref New Scientist issue 2917- Liar, Liar Clare Wilson) who have had the two halves of their brain surgically disconnected (an extreme treatment for severe and debilitating forms of epilepsy). The patient's left eye was shown a picture of snow and their right eye a picture of chickens. They were then asked to select an object from a group. Most patients selected the snow-shovel - a physical right-brain activity. They were then asked why;  the patients process that verbal request with the left half of the brain which is unaware of the picture of snow; and instead come up with some elaborate narrative about shoveling chicken mess! Most worryingly the patients themselves were absolutely confident in their own reasoning...

It may well be most, or even all, of our reasoning is post hoc!
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline neopagan

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2013, 11:05:36 AM »

However my suspicion is that for most theists option (c) is the reason that atheist critiques have little impact. In fact this should not surprise us. If we look at the life of religious people we find, in most cases, that those of a religious persuasion were brought up in that religion. In many cases this is augmented by religious experiences of one kind or another. Even more significant is that fact that religion is primarily about praxis; it is about ritual activity – worship, prayer, meditation, charitable works, ethical problem solving etc… Finally religion is re-enforced by strong community activity and cohesion.

Excellent post and I especially think you are onto something here.  In much the same way we have archetypes of the caring grandmother, the hard-working dad, etc we have this soft spot for religion and the orthopraxy involved with it that makes it hard to overcome something so ingrained in your life, even if illogical.  i.e. try to stop saying "bless you" when someone sneezes or anthropomorphizing your pets.

Quote


Much affection as I have for this forum I suspect a lot of the atheist advocacy on here is a waste of time…

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2013, 11:28:59 AM »
I consider this forum, along with others like it, as part of atheism's rising profile. The site and it's various threads certainly aren't deconverting theists in droves, but we participants are a reflection of the growing interest in atheism (by supporters and detractors). We're also a support group for those that feel at odds with others on this topic, as neopagan points out.

I would argue that we are making an impact just by being visible and vocal, atheists and theists here alike. The overall trend would / will roll along without us, true. But it all adds up, however incrementally.
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Offline screwtape

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2013, 12:11:33 PM »
Agreed; Russell in his radio debate with Coplestone makes this point very well. Of course there is a darkness here; if we accept that this is true of religious belief, what about other - apparently rational - beliefs?

I accept it is true about beliefs in general. 

I was an atheist before I came here. I knew a few more things about the bible than your average churchgoer and I had a pretty solid understanding of eastern religions.  So what I got from this forum[1] was a much more skeptical outlook and an awareness of my own magical thinking.  It helped me be open to the fact that I hold some stupid ideas which do not correlate to reality.  It helped me identify a few of them and honestly confront them, even though in all cases, I did not want to.  I wanted my beliefs to be true.  Now, I want to believe what is true.

This is not to say that I am free of magical thinking or stupid ideas.  Just that I am aware that they exist and I think I am more likely to confront them.  I think it is a skill, which with practice, people can get better at doing.

It may well be most, or even all, of our reasoning is post hoc!

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 1. besides a broader and deeper understanding of xianity and how it is wrong
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Offline neopagan

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2013, 12:25:11 PM »
Atheism is fighting a huge uphill battle but theism is struggling under the weight of the numerous divergences of belief.

Look at the thousands of denominations and the church-hopping that goes on with xians, just so "their church" will have the right view of wine or grape juice, soccer on sundays, a republican/xian president, etc.

As an insider, I can tell you the church is very concerned about their birthrates, for instance.  If you do the math (and they have - see the likes of Vodie Baucham) it wont be too long before xianity as we know it today is gone... at least as a majority - maybe replaced by Islam or something equally lousy.  The "quiver full" movement is a sad response to this phenomenon.

I still have "faith" there are enough xians out there, like I once was, who finally start to explore, as opposed to ignore, those nagging questions in their brain.  Yes, it is great to just bask in the community of believers, all talking the same talk, etc. but that empty feeling after a few years, half a dozen churches and no logical answers starts to have an impact.

I assumed atheist meant all the negative stereotypes you hear - selfish, god hater, mean, baby eater, etc that a lot of xians still ignorantly hold. Once I looked, wow, what a thrill to see it was about rationality, freethought and logic.

There is a glimmer of hope and baby steps are frustrating, I am sure to the folks who have  had the same arguments  here for years... but I think it is working. 
If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline Truth OT

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2013, 01:44:21 PM »
With most religious people, their faith is founded upon and subsequently set up to support their feelings. It's hard to use facts to fight fellings that were not acquired by any logical means beyond a feeling that prompts religious proponents to "know in their hearts." One thing the Bible got right in my opinion is that the heart is deceitul above all things.  As human beings we constantly both consciously and subconsciously spend time rationalizing our feelings and perspectives to justify our outlooks and behaviors.
I am willing to bet that religion would all but disappear if it were truly deity-centric as opposed to being human ego-centric. We create gods to in effect deify ourselves and give value to our norms, mores, ideals, and perspectives. Our gods tend to know and care for us individually giving the individual a sense of being special and intrically connected to a grand plan designed by the master of the universe. Gods are almost always advertised as beings that will bless those who adhere to certain rules and buy into certain outlooks. If the notions of being known, blessed, predestined, and favored by a powerful deity were removed, I doubt there would be many religious practicioners.

Offline screwtape

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Offline penfold

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2013, 02:52:41 AM »
Agreed; Russell in his radio debate with Coplestone makes this point very well. Of course there is a darkness here; if we accept that this is true of religious belief, what about other - apparently rational - beliefs?

I accept it is true about beliefs in general. 

If this is the case then why engage in rational argument at all? The implication is that my beliefs cannot be directly affected by conscious deliberation.

If the theory that all conscious reasoning is post hoc is true then surely the magical thinker and non-magical thinker are equally deluded!
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline penfold

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2013, 05:18:13 AM »
I consider this forum, along with others like it, as part of atheism's rising profile. The site and it's various threads certainly aren't deconverting theists in droves, but we participants are a reflection of the growing interest in atheism (by supporters and detractors). We're also a support group for those that feel at odds with others on this topic, as neopagan points out.

I would argue that we are making an impact just by being visible and vocal, atheists and theists here alike. The overall trend would / will roll along without us, true. But it all adds up, however incrementally.

I agree with this, and I think forums like this are important places. However my feeling is that it is the community aspect of this forum which really gives it value.

What I find less convincing is those who see the job of this forum to try and convince people to abandon their religion. While there may be some examples of forums like this achieving that, I would guess that it is rare when compared with the number of posts with that as an aim.

I suppose that insofar as I am advocating anything it is this; we should recognise that this forum is primarily a place for like-minded people to meet and exchange ideas rather than a challenge to the faithful. Perhaps it would be productive to aim for a more collaborative and less combative tone.

(Though I would, of course, acknowledge that I am only one voice, and I don't think anyone should be too prescriptive about what the aims of this forum are!)

« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 05:29:02 AM by penfold »
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Offline kin hell

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2013, 05:35:29 AM »
bm
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2013, 07:10:22 AM »
I agree with this, and I think forums like this are important places. However my feeling is that it is the community aspect of this forum which really gives it value.

What I find less convincing is those who see the job of this forum to try and convince people to abandon their religion. While there may be some examples of forums like this achieving that, I would guess that it is rare when compared with the number of posts with that as an aim.

I suppose that insofar as I am advocating anything it is this; we should recognise that this forum is primarily a place for like-minded people to meet and exchange ideas rather than a challenge to the faithful. Perhaps it would be productive to aim for a more collaborative and less combative tone.

(Though I would, of course, acknowledge that I am only one voice, and I don't think anyone should be too prescriptive about what the aims of this forum are!)

Collaborate on what? The truth of the matter is we dont know much about the believers that come here outside of what they tell us. Deconversion rate is unknown and unknowable. A message forum is built to discuss. When people discuss varying opinions there will be disagreements and then we need to be able to determine where the truth lies. I dont know if anything can be done about a combative tone, and typically discussions dont start off combative, they end up that way because one participant typically stops discussing (which requires considering what the other person is saying).

I guess I just dont understand what you are getting at. Please clarify what you want us to collaborate on.

Offline junebug72

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2013, 07:30:47 AM »
Atheism is fighting a huge uphill battle but theism is struggling under the weight of the numerous divergences of belief.

Look at the thousands of denominations and the church-hopping that goes on with xians, just so "their church" will have the right view of wine or grape juice, soccer on sundays, a republican/xian president, etc.

As an insider, I can tell you the church is very concerned about their birthrates, for instance.  If you do the math (and they have - see the likes of Vodie Baucham) it wont be too long before xianity as we know it today is gone... at least as a majority - maybe replaced by Islam or something equally lousy.  The "quiver full" movement is a sad response to this phenomenon.

I still have "faith" there are enough xians out there, like I once was, who finally start to explore, as opposed to ignore, those nagging questions in their brain.  Yes, it is great to just bask in the community of believers, all talking the same talk, etc. but that empty feeling after a few years, half a dozen churches and no logical answers starts to have an impact.

I assumed atheist meant all the negative stereotypes you hear - selfish, god hater, mean, baby eater, etc that a lot of xians still ignorantly hold. Once I looked, wow, what a thrill to see it was about rationality, freethought and logic.

There is a glimmer of hope and baby steps are frustrating, I am sure to the folks who have  had the same arguments  here for years... but I think it is working.

Neo as much as I respect your opinion I think the population is leaning towards spirituality not atheism, not religion.  It frees your mind to be open to science and spirit. 

Here's a link: http://news.uchicago.edu/article/2009/10/23/growth-secular-attitudes-leaves-americans-room-belief-god
Another: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spiritual_But_Not_Religious
Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
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Offline junebug72

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2013, 08:07:40 AM »
I'm going to offer some insight into the mind of a believer and why this site has not convinced me they know the truth.  It has been the focus on religion and not so much Intelligent Creation.  I have already determined that religion is not for me.  I can't get around the intelligence part. I honestly believe that there is a higher form of "intelligence" involved in our existence that the big bang does not explain.  As I go through the facts I think intelligence, intelligence, intelligence.  I also think patience.

I can feel my spirit.  Maybe it's something else but I don't think so.  It's like this energy inside me that feels bound by the flesh that surrounds it.   That is why it makes sense to me that there is a God and the spirit I feel is part of God.  It's a lot like your story about the Christian lady.  When you feel and experience spiritual things it's hard to be convinced that they are not real.   

Belief in a cruel God makes a cruel man.
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Offline The Gawd

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2013, 08:26:23 AM »
I'm going to offer some insight into the mind of a believer and why this site has not convinced me they know the truth.  It has been the focus on religion and not so much Intelligent Creation.  I have already determined that religion is not for me.  I can't get around the intelligence part. I honestly believe that there is a higher form of "intelligence" involved in our existence that the big bang does not explain.  As I go through the facts I think intelligence, intelligence, intelligence.  I also think patience.

I can feel my spirit.  Maybe it's something else but I don't think so.  It's like this energy inside me that feels bound by the flesh that surrounds it.   That is why it makes sense to me that there is a God and the spirit I feel is part of God.  It's a lot like your story about the Christian lady.  When you feel and experience spiritual things it's hard to be convinced that they are not real.
The reason is because you refuse to take facts for what they are and then instead assert a fictitious being for which there is LITERALLY zero evidence for. Your idea of intelligent is absurd because there is nothing intelligent about it. This video from Eddie Current is one of my favorite ones



You ignore all the facts and put your fingers in your ears while screaming "la la la la I cant hear you" just to keep your unsubstantiated belief system (religion) in tact.

Offline Mrjason

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2013, 08:35:31 AM »
I'm going to offer some insight into the mind of a believer and why this site has not convinced me they know the truth.  It has been the focus on religion and not so much Intelligent Creation.  I have already determined that religion is not for me.  I can't get around the intelligence part. I honestly believe that there is a higher form of "intelligence" involved in our existence that the big bang does not explain.  As I go through the facts I think intelligence, intelligence, intelligence.  I also think patience.

I can feel my spirit.  Maybe it's something else but I don't think so.  It's like this energy inside me that feels bound by the flesh that surrounds it.   That is why it makes sense to me that there is a God and the spirit I feel is part of God.  It's a lot like your story about the Christian lady.  When you feel and experience spiritual things it's hard to be convinced that they are not real.

I'm picking C;   
Quote
People’s religious belief is not propositional; and the undermining of propositions like “God exits” is insufficient to undermine religion.

Offline penfold

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2013, 08:38:48 AM »
I'm going to offer some insight into the mind of a believer...

You ignore all the facts and put your fingers in your ears while screaming "la la la la I cant hear you" just to keep your unsubstantiated belief system (religion) in tact.

Guys, is there any chance you could find another thread for this discussion? I would like, as far as possible, to keep this thread on the topic outlined in the OP. Thanks  :)

I guess I just dont understand what you are getting at. Please clarify what you want us to collaborate on.

I suppose my point is this; I find threads in which people share experiences & information, or offer each other advice on how to deal with difficulties arising from their lack of faith far more productive than the 'here's why theism is stupid' threads.

Of course there is room for both; and of course there is room for robust discussion and disagreement. Some of the best threads on WWGHA are where atheists thrash out legitimate disagreements between themselves.

However take you last post to junebug72; telling someone they are stupid and ignoring reality is, for the reasons I outline in my OP hardly likely to yield a positive result. In fact at a neurological level it is likely to do the opposite. When reading that post Junebug72 will most likely have experience an adrenaline surge which makes him less likely to rationally engage with the material you offer and gives him further emotional attachment to his own view. I am not suggesting for a moment you are wrong, or don't have the right to express yourself freely, you absolutely do, I am just unclear on what you think it will achieve.
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline Mrjason

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2013, 08:46:33 AM »
I suppose my point is this; I find threads in which people share experiences & information, or offer each other advice on how to deal with difficulties arising from their lack of faith far more productive than the 'here's why theism is stupid' threads.

Do you think that coming to a site that logically deconstructs theism may be what the agnostic atheist is looking for in order to validate their own beliefs?

Offline penfold

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2013, 09:01:35 AM »

Do you think that coming to a site that logically deconstructs theism may be what the agnostic atheist is looking for in order to validate their own beliefs?

Fair point, there may well be some, and for them rational attacks on propositional belief will indeed serve a purpose. Though it is noticeable how few threads are asking those kinds of questions more usually it is either a theist saying "Here's why God definitely exists" or atheists saying "here's why such and such belief is stupid".

Perhaps it would be a good question to poll though? It would be interesting to find out how many people come here looking for answers and how many come here already certain of their positions.

"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away." - P.K.D.

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2013, 09:19:52 AM »
I suppose my point is this; I find threads in which people share experiences & information, or offer each other advice on how to deal with difficulties arising from their lack of faith far more productive than the 'here's why theism is stupid' threads.

Of course there is room for both; and of course there is room for robust discussion and disagreement. Some of the best threads on WWGHA are where atheists thrash out legitimate disagreements between themselves.

However take you last post to junebug72; telling someone they are stupid and ignoring reality is, for the reasons I outline in my OP hardly likely to yield a positive result. In fact at a neurological level it is likely to do the opposite. When reading that post Junebug72 will most likely have experience an adrenaline surge which makes him less likely to rationally engage with the material you offer and gives him further emotional attachment to his own view. I am not suggesting for a moment you are wrong, or don't have the right to express yourself freely, you absolutely do, I am just unclear on what you think it will achieve.
I did not call her stupid. I said she ignores facts. Which is a fact. Youre talking about 2 sides of the same coin, or three sides of the same triangle, or whatever analogy you wish to use. We have to deconstruct the superstition and propose a solution in order solve the problems we are faced with. If not, then instead of doing something to actually help whatever the problem may be, we will have people praying instead. Imagine of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., actually just prayed instead of doing stuff. I may still be legally a "2nd class citizen" imagine if instead of me working at work to help people in Oklahoma find temporary housing, contractors, and paying them money to do repairs I just sat at my desk and prayed, imagine how much wouldnt get done.

We need to inform people that A) their prayer is worthless, and B) to instead actually do stuff. Furthermore we need to inform and show them that doing stuff works.

Offline Mrjason

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2013, 09:43:00 AM »

Do you think that coming to a site that logically deconstructs theism may be what the agnostic atheist is looking for in order to validate their own beliefs?

Fair point, there may well be some, and for them rational attacks on propositional belief will indeed serve a purpose. Though it is noticeable how few threads are asking those kinds of questions more usually it is either a theist saying "Here's why God definitely exists" or atheists saying "here's why such and such belief is stupid".

Perhaps it would be a good question to poll though? It would be interesting to find out how many people come here looking for answers and how many come here already certain of their positions.

There has been a poll on "what is your position" (or something along those lines). Most responders were agnostic atheist.
They are fairly certain of their position but are still not wholly convinced by it.
As a fair few posters are from a theist background this website forms a sounding board for their ideas. Hence the plethora of "here's why such and such belief is stupid" threads.

This is, in my opinion, clearly an attempt to seek the validation of other like minded people that they were mistaken in their previous belief.
That  support for atheists is in my view a worth while reason to participate in a forum.

Thats just me though. Some people do just enjoy an argument for the sake of it ;)

edit here's the poll
[/i]
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 09:47:01 AM by Mrjason »

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2013, 10:03:09 AM »
@Mr. Jason

I think its fun to read religious books and point out the absurdity of them actually being real. I dont know if most posters are seeking validation, rather a community that doesnt feel like the twilight zone. Theres some many pages in the bible that it is impossible to really know it all, but a group of us finds different stuff and shares with the group and we all share a good laugh.

Offline Mrjason

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #23 on: June 07, 2013, 10:07:05 AM »
@Mr. Jason

I think its fun to read religious books and point out the absurdity of them actually being real. I dont know if most posters are seeking validation, rather a community that doesnt feel like the twilight zone. Theres some many pages in the bible that it is impossible to really know it all, but a group of us finds different stuff and shares with the group and we all share a good laugh.
All of this is seeking validation of your religious position.

edit or at least affirming your position
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 10:12:30 AM by Mrjason »

Offline The Gawd

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #24 on: June 07, 2013, 10:27:30 AM »
All of this is seeking validation of your religious position.
edit or at least affirming your position
You think so? I disagree. If I go to a high school football website to discuss high school football it has nothing to do with validation of my like for high school football. Its because I like to discuss high school football. If I go to a hip hop website its because I like to discuss hip hop, not because I am seeking validation. Maybe everyone around me enjoys metal or country, and that is twilight zonish to me as well.

I think there are some that are seeking validation, but I think they express that. Some are here because they like to debate the topics. Some are here as an escape from the non-sense in their real lives. and whatever other reasons people are here.

Offline kin hell

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #25 on: June 07, 2013, 10:33:35 AM »
The perennial discussions re: the purpose and style of this forum have, in my experience, caused more long term, valued members to officially[1] leave this site than any other topic.

That's not to say the topic is unworthy, just that it is problematic.

Each and every individual will bring individual position and preference.
Any discussions that point however vaguely at regulating input, for whatever good intent, in essence inevitably mean, in real terms, that limitations needs be written in as laws.

So sure enough some will find their interaction with the forum further limited by new strategies and rules.

This is hardly an expansive process. It is not even a process that maintains the status quo, it is a process that further defines the ever narrowing field of what is deemed acceptable behaviour.

That curmudgeon part of me just thinks fuck that PC banality, and the sad civilised monkey fears that require such safety and regulated blancmange.

Robust vigour doesn't come from group think, it comes from recognising that tooth and claw have every bit as much legitimacy in this red raw world as conciliation and niceness.
Just the same, thoughtful dialogue and people sharing insights experiences and information, is wonderful stuff, and the more of it the better. I just respectfully suggest that those who feel so strongly enamoured with that style of discourse should do more of it if they want more of it.

Lead by example, ....................but leave the rest of it alone.

The site is called wwgha for god's sake, it was never meant to be a non-confrontational temple of nice.

It's not as if the shelter doesn't already exist for the fragile, and it's not as if this site is not self regulating enough already.

penfold, I hope you recognise that this is not aimed at you personally in any way whatsoever.

 1. as opposed to just drifting off
« Last Edit: June 07, 2013, 10:53:45 AM by kin hell »
"...but on a lighter note, demons were driven from a pig today in Gloucester."  Bill Bailey

all edits are for spelling or grammar unless specified otherwise

Offline neopagan

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #26 on: June 07, 2013, 11:02:32 AM »
There are countless sites out there where the theistically inclined can go to make nice-nice with one another and speak all the same sky god mantras.

While athiesm and its like are not new and in some sense is having a bit of a minor growth spurt (at tleast in the US), there are far fewer sites where one of that stripe can go to hash out those ideas. 

Although I'm newly free of the theistic worldview, I welcome a site like this where open debate occurs and BS is called what it is opposed to painting turds gold so as not to offend...

Theism is a massive circle jerk - been there and done that.  At least if folks here want to form a circle, there's at least a few who call them out for it or at least make you prove it's a circle and not a square.




If xian hell really exists, the stench of the burning billions of us should be a constant, putrid reminder to the handful of heavenward xians how loving your god is.  - neopagan

Offline screwtape

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #27 on: June 07, 2013, 11:46:03 AM »
If this is the case then why engage in rational argument at all? The implication is that my beliefs cannot be directly affected by conscious deliberation.

If the theory that all conscious reasoning is post hoc is true then surely the magical thinker and non-magical thinker are equally deluded!

Then I do not agree, at least not entirely.  I do not think it is all post hoc.  I believe our first impulses are...poor.  But I believe they can be influenced.  For example, we have the scientific method to overcome those first, primitive impulses.  And to a degree it works.  However, Max Planck once said, "A scientific truth does not triumph by convincing its opponents and making them see the light, but rather because its opponents eventually die and a new generation grows up that is familiar with it."  So, maybe I'm wrong.

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What's true is already so. Owning up to it does not make it worse.

Offline Mrjason

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Re: Advocating atheism and challenges to religion
« Reply #28 on: June 08, 2013, 04:36:53 AM »
All of this is seeking validation of your religious position.
edit or at least affirming your position
You think so? I disagree. If I go to a high school football website to discuss high school football it has nothing to do with validation of my like for high school football. Its because I like to discuss high school football. If I go to a hip hop website its because I like to discuss hip hop, not because I am seeking validation. Maybe everyone around me enjoys metal or country, and that is twilight zonish to me as well.

I think there are some that are seeking validation, but I think they express that. Some are here because they like to debate the topics. Some are here as an escape from the non-sense in their real lives. and whatever other reasons people are here.
I do think so. Any discussion seeks to affirm or validate a position. If you are discussing which artist/football team is good or better than another one you will research this and cite your reasons why i.e. better coach, lyrics...etc
This is the nature of debate, if everyone agreed on everything there would be no debate and to have a debate you must have a position which can be challenged.
I agree that this is also an escape from the daily grind though