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Offline penfold

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How atheists should live.
« on: May 22, 2014, 04:21:57 AM »
I am aware that the title of this post may immediately raise hackles. Many atheists, with some justification, feel that a lack of belief should not define them; so to write about how atheists should live is absurd and patronising. This absurdity would be obvious if I replaced the word “atheist” with another form of skepticism, say “How tooth-fairy skeptics should live”.

I agree with this analysis to a certain extent; in particular I would not dare to propose a single type of politics or morality which atheists should conform to. However I do think that atheism has implications about the more general question of how we should live; what might be called a way-of-being. More than that I think that there is a particular way-of-being which atheists should adopt.

There is a difference between atheism and other forms of skepticism; which is this: atheists reject the notion that the universe is in possession of inherent meaning or purpose[1]. The atheist is marked out as being someone who thinks that the only source of meaning and purpose are minds like ours. It is important to note that this view, historically, is quite extraordinary; even great skeptics like Voltaire who denied that the universe was about humanity, still thought that the universe contained intelligent purpose. The evidence for it was everywhere: Teeth were good for eating, eyes for seeing, guts for digesting etc… It has always seemed obvious to all that the universe operated in some intelligent, purposeful fashion. Atheism rejects this analysis. This is why atheism, in the history human thought, is really, profoundly, radical.

There is a corollary to this; if the only source of purpose and meaning are our minds, which themselves emerge from the purposeless and meaningless universe, we are not afforded a naturalistic account about value[2]. We cannot use the universe to justify a claim that humans should be like this or that or should behave in particular ways. We cannot even appeal to rationality because the universe gives us no basis for the truth of the claim that "rationality is good"; that is a decision we have made, and it rests on our judgement alone.

If the universe cannot provide us with a should what is left? There is only one answer, ourselves.

How should an atheist live? In awareness of the responsibility that while facts are the universe’s business, value is ours. We should take responsibility as meaning-makers, we should not evade or reject this responsibility. We should recognise that we have taken on the role of God, we make all meaning, and we do so on our own authority alone. We should be responsible for the outcomes. Finally the atheist should be responsible for the world they live in, after all, there is no one else to blame.
 1. If there is anyone here who claims they are both an atheist and that the universe possesses inherent purpose I would love to hear from you.
 2. ie We cannot reduce ethical value terms like "good" to things in the universe.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 04:24:01 AM by penfold »
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Online One Above All

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2014, 04:27:19 AM »
As soon as I read your title, I was going to post here about what atheism is, but I decided to give you the benefit of the doubt and read your entire post. My mind has not changed. Atheism implies and infers nothing beyond a lack of belief in deities.

There are atheists who believe in objective morality. There are atheists who believe in the intrinsic value of things. There are irrational atheists. There are dumb atheists. There are religious atheists. There are immoral atheists. There are (...).

Whatever people (atheists included) associate with atheism, other than lack of belief in deities, is wrong, plain and simple.
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Offline penfold

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2014, 04:28:34 AM »
Whatever people (atheists included) associate with atheism, other than lack of belief in deities, is wrong, plain and simple.

Would you care to explain why my analysis is wrong, or are you going to leave it at an assertion?
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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2014, 04:30:46 AM »
Would you care to explain why my analysis is wrong, or are you going to leave it at an assertion?

It's part of the definition of "atheist". Atheism is a lack of belief in deities. No more, no less. It's not a belief in the lack of deities. It's not a belief in science. It's not a belief in rationality. It's not nihilism. It's not a belief in the lack of intrinsic value. It's not a belief in being your own god. It's not (...).
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?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline penfold

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2014, 04:36:04 AM »
Would you care to explain why my analysis is wrong, or are you going to leave it at an assertion?

It's part of the definition of "atheist". Atheism is a lack of belief in deities. No more, no less. It's not a belief in the lack of deities. It's not a belief in science. It's not a belief in rationality. It's not nihilism. It's not a belief in the lack of intrinsic value. It's not a belief in being your own god. It's not (...).

I am sorry but a definition is not an argument.

I am not saying what all atheists are but what they should be; all of which follows, in my understanding, from what atheism logically entails.

Are you saying that atheism is compatible with the idea of a meaningful universe? If you are I strong disagree, it strikes me that this is simply a type of theos, thus theism. If, however, you agree that atheism precludes the notion that the universe has meaning then I contest that what follows in my argument is valid.
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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2014, 04:45:49 AM »
I am sorry but a definition is not an argument.

I am not saying what all atheists are but what they should be; all of which follows, in my understanding, from what atheism logically entails.

Atheism entails lack of belief in deities and nothing more. Whatever you conclude from this point on is you projecting yourself onto atheists. Don't.

Are you saying that atheism is compatible with the idea of a meaningful universe?

Sure. It would just be the old "simulation" thing. No evidence (and therefore no proof), but it's compatible. Atheism doesn't require/make you to be rational or even smart.

If you are I strong disagree, it strikes me that this is simply a type of theos, thus theism. If, however, you agree that atheism precludes the notion that the universe has meaning then I contest that what follows in my argument is valid.

Seeing as how I just told you one way in which atheism is compatible with a meaningful universe, do you then contest that what follows in your argument is not valid?
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?
We choose our own gods.

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #6 on: May 22, 2014, 04:47:42 AM »
I am an atheist but i am unsure of the meaning of the universe but i still love it. nearly every theist i have ever talked to can not tell me the meaning of the universe either. they can not even tell me the meaning or purpose of creation but most love it.
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Offline penfold

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #7 on: May 22, 2014, 04:56:56 AM »
I am sorry but a definition is not an argument.

I am not saying what all atheists are but what they should be; all of which follows, in my understanding, from what atheism logically entails.

Atheism entails lack of belief in deities and nothing more. Whatever you conclude from this point on is you projecting yourself onto atheists. Don't.

Again, this is not an argument, but a dogmatic (dare I say, faith based) assertion.

Quote
Are you saying that atheism is compatible with the idea of a meaningful universe?

Sure. It would just be the old "simulation" thing. No evidence (and therefore no proof), but it's compatible. Atheism doesn't require/make you to be rational or even smart.

If you are I strong disagree, it strikes me that this is simply a type of theos, thus theism. If, however, you agree that atheism precludes the notion that the universe has meaning then I contest that what follows in my argument is valid.

Seeing as how I just told you one way in which atheism is compatible with a meaningful universe, do you then contest that what follows in your argument is not valid?

Really interesting idea about the "simulation argument" but I discount it on three grounds:

First is its remoteness as a serious hypothesis about the universe, no one seriously believes it an so should not be taken seriously[1].

Secondly, and more importantly, because it only pushes the question back a stage; the 'level zero' world, that is the non-simulated one, which is relevant to my argument, and purpose/meaning in this one is theism.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the simulation paradigm gives the universe purpose in a narrower sense than needed for meaningfulness and value; it does not help with the kind of questions my argument addresses.

So I don't think it does affect my analysis.
 1. Dan Dennett has a really interesting piece on why we should reject the simulation argument and other implausible sketpical 'bogeymen' - see Elbow Room Ch1
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 04:59:57 AM by penfold »
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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #8 on: May 22, 2014, 05:05:34 AM »
Again, this is not an argument, but a dogmatic (dare I say, faith based) assertion.

If you want to redefine atheism, be my guest. Just don't expect atheists or theists to take it well. Well, atheists anyway. I'm sure theists would rejoice over the idea that atheists are, in fact, all the same.
Tell me, if you met a homosexual who dressed, looked, and acted like you would expect a heterosexual, would you tell him/her that he/she should dress and/or talk and/or act differently because of his/her sexuality? No, because homosexuality entails nothing beyond attraction to the same gender as oneself. So why don't you apply this same logic to atheism?

Really interesting idea about the "simulation argument" but I discount it on three grounds:

The argument is idiotic, I agree. But there are those who accept it. Some of them are atheists, even.

First is its remoteness as a serious hypothesis about the universe, no one seriously believes it an so should not be taken seriously[1].
 1. Dan Dennett has a really interesting piece on why we should reject the simulation argument and other implausible sketpical 'bogeymen' - see Elbow Room Ch1

You're wrong about two things: there are those who accept it, but, even if nobody did, it doesn't mean the idea shouldn't be taken seriously.

Secondly, and more importantly, because it only pushes the question back a stage; the 'level zero' world, that is the non-simulated one, which is relevant to my argument, and purpose in this one is theism.

But, under the assumption that we're in a simulation, we wouldn't be in that universe, would be? Not really. We wouldn't be able to interact with it in any way. It would be the same as if it didn't exist.

Thirdly, and most importantly, the simulation paradigm gives the universe purpose in a narrower sense than needed for meaningfulness and value; it does not help with the kind of questions my argument addresses.

I was just showing you that atheism is compatible with a meaningful universe, which is what you asked. In fact, atheism is compatible with all beliefs except the belief in deities.

So I don't think it does affect my analysis.

I think it does.
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?
We choose our own gods.

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Online Mrjason

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #9 on: May 22, 2014, 06:25:31 AM »
I think the title of the thread is misleading. It would make more sense to me if it said  "how humanists should live." But then it has already answered it's self.

Offline Anfauglir

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #10 on: May 22, 2014, 06:57:58 AM »
We should recognise that we have taken on the role of God....

I think you'll find that this is where the disconnect comes.  You have an inherent assumption that SOMEONE "should" be making rules and decisions on how things "ought" to be, and project that onto "atheists".

But as has been said, the atheist has no belief in god.  It does NOT automatically follow from that that therefore "we" should be making rules, its a fallacy based on the assumption that there are rules that need to be there.

Your analogy seems similar to "there is no referee provided for our game - we must therefore elect a referee from our number".  Yes, makes sense.....IF you agree that there need to be rules in the first place.  And that is NOT, necessarily, something that atheists will agree. 

That some rules are necessary for the protection of others, maybe.  That there MUST be rules made to instil "values" in people, no.

I personally feel that people should take responsibility for the world, because as you say, if we don't, who will?  But "you can't get an ought from an is", as the saying goes, and it does not therefore follow that we MUST do so, or have any obligation to do so.

Indeed....if there is NO external objective force to bestow an obligation, and such obligation is a personal choice, which could go either way.

Like I said at the start, where you go wrong is the assertion that
We should recognise that we have taken on the role of God....
We shouldn't recognise that.  Because there was no "role of God" in the first place to take on.
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Offline YRM_DM

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #11 on: May 22, 2014, 08:59:14 AM »
I agree that we are responsible for the bad things we do and we can take some credit for the good things we do.

And knowing that there is a strong possibility that "this" is "all there is" for us... most likely our chemical reactions stop and that's all there is too it and we're just gone... we should take the logical leap from that that life is precious and it's immoral to harm someone else's life or quality of life if it can possibly be avoided.

If you have empathy, it should, in theory, be easier to put a strong value on other people's lives.
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #12 on: May 22, 2014, 09:48:26 AM »
It's part of the definition of "atheist". Atheism is a lack of belief in deities. No more, no less. It's not a belief in the lack of deities. It's not a belief in science. It's not a belief in rationality. It's not nihilism. It's not a belief in the lack of intrinsic value. It's not a belief in being your own god. It's not (...).
Now I'm starting to figure out why I've been finding myself disgruntled with you recently.  It's because of precisely this attitude - the idea that you, or anyone, has the right to decide what being an atheist means for everyone, as opposed to what the general concept of atheism means.  This comes across very clearly when you start acting as if you can define your way to victory in any discussion or debate; not just define your way to victory, but have already won because of a definition you hold to be true, so all that remains is going through the motions of getting other people to recognize that you were right all along.

As such, to you, any discussion about atheism or atheists ultimately is a discussion about what the definition of the word should be, rather than about the people who make it more than just a word.  You base the arguments you make on that point alone and generally don't even touch on anything else that might be involved.  This wouldn't be so bad in and of itself, except that you don't do just that.  You also go after people who even so much as hint that there might be something more to being an atheist than simply not believing in a god and attempt to argue them down based on what amounts to semantics - that atheist can only mean "does not believe in a god", and therefore any argument that suggests otherwise is completely wrong by default.

The problem with this attitude is that there is no reason that atheist must only mean "lacks believe in a god or gods".  That is to say, there is no reason to conclude atheists cannot come up with other meanings for being an atheist besides the one I already mentioned, such as philosophical ones.  That is the actual point that penfold was trying to make - that the meaning of atheism extends beyond the lack of belief in entities called gods.  It also connotes a lack of belief in anthropomorphism[1].  Indeed, gods are very clearly a manifestation of the anthropomorphic tendency.

What I am trying to get at is that atheism shouldn't just be about lacking belief in gods that are already believed in.  It should also be about not anthropomorphizing things into gods (a necessary precondition for believing in those gods), which means not giving things human characteristics that they do not actually have.  Such as the idea of the universe having a 'purpose' that penfold referred to.  That implies that the universe is "going somewhere", for a reason, when in all likelihood, things that happen in the universe just happen[2].  If we treat the universe like it has a purpose, does that not presuppose that it has some way of knowing what that purpose is, and some way of making sure that its purpose is fulfilled?  Isn't that essentially what a god is, if you disregard the anthropomorphic part?
 1. giving human characteristics to something that is not human
 2. deterministically, for the most part, but there isn't a 'purpose' to them

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #13 on: May 22, 2014, 12:45:01 PM »
Now I'm starting to figure out why I've been finding myself disgruntled with you recently.

You should've mentioned it before, IMO, even if only by PM.

It's because of precisely this attitude - the idea that you, or anyone, has the right to decide what being an atheist means for everyone, as opposed to what the general concept of atheism means.

I don't see how that's what I'm doing. People can ascribe all the meaning they want to the term "atheist". Doesn't change the fact that the only thing all atheists have in common is lack of belief in deities, which I've explained here. We have religious atheists, agnostic atheists, gnostic atheists, "objective morality" atheists, "free will" atheists, "deterministic" atheists, "stochastic" atheists, nihilist atheists, "purposeful universe" atheists, "simulation" atheists, science-rejecting atheists, science-embracing atheists, rational atheists, irrational atheists, emotional atheists, psychopathic atheists, sociopathic atheists, altruist atheists, cynical atheists, and so on.

This comes across very clearly when you start acting as if you can define your way to victory in any discussion or debate; not just define your way to victory, but have already won because of a definition you hold to be true, so all that remains is going through the motions of getting other people to recognize that you were right all along.

I debated with Lukvance regarding the definition only after it was set. True, I declared victory prior to the debate, but that's because I had been reading his posts and knew he didn't disagree with my definition of "god"[1]. The only definitions we had to set were for "existence" and "real". Afterward, the debate was won. Even when he changed definitions mid-debate[2], he still lost. What I asked for (with my definition of "god", which is the most common one, as far as I can tell) cannot be done. Period.
This is the most recent and only example I can think of where I argued using definitions alone in the last several months. Aside from this thread, of course. EDIT: I recalled another time I argued definitions (with Lukvance), but that's all there was to argue. His argument was that an omnipotent god chose not to intervene because of free will. Mine was that an omnipotent god could interfere without affecting free will, as per the definition of "omnipotence".

As such, to you, any discussion about atheism or atheists ultimately is a discussion about what the definition of the word should be, rather than about the people who make it more than just a word.  You base the arguments you make on that point alone and generally don't even touch on anything else that might be involved.  This wouldn't be so bad in and of itself, except that you don't do just that.  You also go after people who even so much as hint that there might be something more to being an atheist than simply not believing in a god and attempt to argue them down based on what amounts to semantics - that atheist can only mean "does not believe in a god", and therefore any argument that suggests otherwise is completely wrong by default.

The people who make it more than just a word are so diverse that it's pointless to stereotype. I gave you several examples in the second section of this very post and a few others to penfold in another post.

The problem with this attitude is that there is no reason that atheist must only mean "lacks believe in a god or gods".  That is to say, there is no reason to conclude atheists cannot come up with other meanings for being an atheist besides the one I already mentioned, such as philosophical ones.

So let me get this straight: you don't want me telling people what atheism (as it's currently defined) is, but atheists can just toss that definition out the window and make several hundred[3] new ones, even if they will never fit with all (maybe not even most) atheists?

That is the actual point that penfold was trying to make - that the meaning of atheism extends beyond the lack of belief in entities called gods.  It also connotes a lack of belief in anthropomorphism[4].  Indeed, gods are very clearly a manifestation of the anthropomorphic tendency.
 4. giving human characteristics to something that is not human

It only connotes something beyond lack of belief in deities if you're willing to project your own opinions onto other atheists. At best you could say "atheists tend to (...)".

What I am trying to get at is that atheism shouldn't just be about lacking belief in gods that are already believed in.  It should also be about not anthropomorphizing things into gods (a necessary precondition for believing in those gods), which means not giving things human characteristics that they do not actually have.

Why should it? Because that's your opinion? Why do you get to define what atheism means for all atheists, but not me[5]? You can't have it both ways.

Such as the idea of the universe having a 'purpose' that penfold referred to.  That implies that the universe is "going somewhere", for a reason, when in all likelihood, things that happen in the universe just happen[6].  If we treat the universe like it has a purpose, does that not presuppose that it has some way of knowing what that purpose is, and some way of making sure that its purpose is fulfilled?  Isn't that essentially what a god is, if you disregard the anthropomorphic part?
 6. deterministically, for the most part, but there isn't a 'purpose' to them

The Universe[7] doesn't need to be sentient in order to go somewhere. Evolution is about adaptation, right? Its "purpose" is to make populations better suited to live in their respective habitats. Yet it is not sentient. It's a semi-random process that just happens to go in that direction. I also want to note that the "for a reason" could be the simulation scenario I told penfold about, ridiculous as it may be.
 1. Sort of. Halfway through the debate or so, I recalled he went with the whole "God is love" thing, which does not fit with my (or Lukvance's other) definition.
 2. Which he explained as being because he didn't agree with my definitions for the two terms I mentioned. I doubt this is the case, but it was irrelevant, in the end.
 3. I originally wrote "billion" as a hyperbole, but then I thought I shouldn't use hyperbole in this case. The current number is a gross understatement, IMO, but it should give you an idea of why it shouldn't be done.
 5. Even though my definition rests on the one thing all atheists have in common, while yours appears to be you projecting yourself onto others, even if they don't fit your definition.
 7. Off-topic: is "Universe" capitalized when referring to our universe, is it always capitalized, or is it never capitalized? I've been capitalizing it when referring to our universe, but I've seen others either capitalizing it all the time or never.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 01:19:18 PM by One Above All »
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #14 on: May 22, 2014, 01:06:21 PM »
Penfold, what do we do with the understanding that even a universe created with a creator's purpose in mind, still only has subjective purpose?  That is to say, its purposes still only exist subjectively within the mind of the creator and any other beings with subjective opinions of purpose.
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Offline shnozzola

Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #15 on: May 22, 2014, 06:47:28 PM »
We should recognise that we have taken on the role of God, we make all meaning, and we do so on our own authority alone. We should be responsible for the outcomes. Finally the atheist should be responsible for the world they live in, after all, there is no one else to blame.

   In Habenae Est Dominatus' thread,  he is also arguing about authority.  It is also an interesting argument.  IMO, in it's purest form, everything humanity holds dear is indeed meaningless in the universe.   And I think that is the truth.   But, the evolution that humanity is a part of drives us to continue our survival, like a respect for what has happened on our little planet - almost in honor of it.   Knowing we are meaningless but wanting to excel and do what we collectively consider to be the right thing - knowing the right thing also changes.

   Take curiosity.  Take the idea of flight.  Airplanes to space ships.  Whether atheist or theist, we strive to do and improve this type of thing, balancing this progress with what we need to continue our survival.

   And that is why normal people, atheist and theist, must fight fundamentalism  (Racism, bigotry, ethnic hatred, Taliban, Boko Haram, Westboro Baptists, etc.)  that threaten progress and tolerance. 

   Overall, Penfold, hopefully more people than we think feel the responsibility you are talking about.
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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #16 on: May 22, 2014, 07:41:49 PM »
Words must mean something consistently or all communication is hopeless.

atheists can be whatever they want but if you believe in god/s you are NOT an atheist anymore than you can be a theist and claim no belief in god/s.

hopefully god/s does not need defining here.


if we just make our own words up then black can mean white and in can mean out and on can mean off.......
« Last Edit: May 22, 2014, 07:43:59 PM by eh! »
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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #17 on: May 22, 2014, 10:37:12 PM »
An atheist can live any way they want, given their culture, laws and upbringing. Just without belief in any gods.

If you are going to propose that there is a good way for a human being to live, regardless of religious belief, you might get more traction. That might be a humanist lifestyle, or a rational, science-based lifestyle as opposed to a lifestyle based on rules from some sacred text.

I have a lot of ideas about how a person can live a good, meaningful life, without relying on religion. But there is no reason (heh) why an atheist would automatically listen to me just because they don't believe in any gods. An atheist could be an ignorant, thoughtless a$$hole who does not care a flip about living a good, meaningful life. I would want to have nothing to do with such a person.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #18 on: May 23, 2014, 12:15:16 AM »
You should've mentioned it before, IMO, even if only by PM.
It was only something I just became aware of, but it explains a couple of things that happened previously.

Quote from: One Above All
I don't see how that's what I'm doing. People can ascribe all the meaning they want to the term "atheist". Doesn't change the fact that the only thing all atheists have in common is lack of belief in deities, which I've explained here. We have religious atheists, agnostic atheists, gnostic atheists, "objective morality" atheists, "free will" atheists, "deterministic" atheists, "stochastic" atheists, nihilist atheists, "purposeful universe" atheists, "simulation" atheists, science-rejecting atheists, science-embracing atheists, rational atheists, irrational atheists, emotional atheists, psychopathic atheists, sociopathic atheists, altruist atheists, cynical atheists, and so on.
Except what you actually said was that if an atheist associated anything with atheism except what you specifically said it meant, they were wrong.  Indeed, you bolded "wrong" for emphasis, and when penfold asked you if you cared to explain rather than assert, you declared that it was defined that way, and gave the impression that that should have been the end of the discussion.

That is not what you said here, which is that atheists can ascribe meanings of their own to what atheism means to them and that the only thing that atheists have in common is lack of belief.  Frankly, if that had been your original statement, rather than what you wrote, I probably wouldn't even have commented.

Quote from: One Above All
This is the most recent and only example I can think of where I argued using definitions alone in the last several months.
That's probably why I got disgruntled, though I didn't recognize it as such at first.  It's only when it came up again that I realized why; sometimes it takes seeing a common thread in otherwise unrelated situations to pick up on that.

Quote from: One Above All
The people who make it more than just a word are so diverse that it's pointless to stereotype. I gave you several examples in the second section of this very post and a few others to penfold in another post.
Indeed, they are diverse.  But you were implying that unless they believed as you did, they were simply wrong.

Quote from: One Above All
So let me get this straight: you don't want me telling people what atheism (as it's currently defined) is, but atheists can just toss that definition out the window and make several hundred[1] new ones, even if they will never fit with all (maybe not even most) atheists?
 1. I originally wrote "billion" as a hyperbole, but then I thought I shouldn't use hyperbole in this case. The current number is a gross understatement, IMO, but it should give you an idea of why it shouldn't be done.
Who said anything about tossing it out the window?  The definition you used is not wrong, but that doesn't mean it's the last word on the subject.

Quote from: One Above All
It only connotes something beyond lack of belief in deities if you're willing to project your own opinions onto other atheists. At best you could say "atheists tend to (...)".
What are deities, if not anthropomorphized concepts of entities with presumed dominance over something (or everything) in the natural world?  I admit, it's much shorter and easier to say deities, but that doesn't make what I said false.  In short, my statement is an expansion of what atheism means.  And in my opinion at least, a necessary one; although it would be silly to expect people not to anthropomorphize, it only matters if they center their lives around it, the way theists do around deities.  Also, thinking of it in these terms will help to counteract the creation of new deities through anthropomorphism.

Quote from: One Above All
Why should it? Because that's your opinion? Why do you get to define what atheism means for all atheists, but not me[2]? You can't have it both ways.
 2. Even though my definition rests on the one thing all atheists have in common, while yours appears to be you projecting yourself onto others, even if they don't fit your definition.
The thing is, my definition is simply an expansion on how atheism is generally defined, because deities are anthropomorphic entities that are believed to really exist.  It doesn't change the definition of atheism, it simply expands and elaborates on the concept of deities.

Quote from: One Above All
The Universe[3] doesn't need to be sentient in order to go somewhere. Evolution is about adaptation, right? Its "purpose" is to make populations better suited to live in their respective habitats. Yet it is not sentient. It's a semi-random process that just happens to go in that direction. I also want to note that the "for a reason" could be the simulation scenario I told penfold about, ridiculous as it may be.
 3. Off-topic: is "Universe" capitalized when referring to our universe, is it always capitalized, or is it never capitalized? I've been capitalizing it when referring to our universe, but I've seen others either capitalizing it all the time or never.
Whether universe is capitalized or not depends on whether it is used as a proper noun or not.  As I never use it as a proper noun, I never capitalize it.

That aside, I think we need to distinguish between the idea that the universe is going somewhere (which determinism establishes) and the idea that in going somewhere, it has a purpose.  I do not see evolution having a purpose, for example, because a purpose is the reason for doing something.  Evolution does not have a reason for happening; it simply happens due to the way natural selection works.  It is not the same as an animal purposely hunting for food, or a human purposefully building something; an action taken for a specific reason.  It does not require intelligence, but it does require the ability to intentionally act.  Compare this to a planet orbiting a star, or gravity attracting mass.  What reason do those happen for?  Not what causes them, but why that cause does what it does.

Note that this does not mean there is not a purpose for things which do not seem to have a purpose.  It simply means that, at the moment, all we can do is explain the mechanics of why they happen.

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #19 on: May 23, 2014, 12:38:40 AM »
I don't have time to reply to your entire post at the moment, so I'll just reply to this bit.

That is not what you said here, which is that atheists can ascribe meanings of their own to what atheism means to them and that the only thing that atheists have in common is lack of belief.  Frankly, if that had been your original statement, rather than what you wrote, I probably wouldn't even have commented.

By "the only thing atheists have in common (...)" I meant to imply that that should be (and is) the definition of "atheist". Atheists can say "Oh, I'm an atheist, so I like to abort babies", or "I'm an atheist, so I only eat vegetables and fruit", or "I'm an atheist, so science is all that guides me", but that doesn't change the fact that that's not what atheism is. If atheists associate other aspects of their personality and beliefs, aside from lack of belief in deities, with ("blame them[1] on", if you will) their atheism, it's their choice, but that doesn't mean they are, in fact, atheists because of those things. They are atheists for their lack of belief in deities. What penfold suggests is an open door to "No true Scotsman" bullshit "arguments" that theists toss around every day. "You're an atheist? Oh, but do you make jokes about eating babies? No? Then you're not a true atheist!", or "You're an atheist? Do you believe yourself to having become your own god? Then you're not a true atheist!", or "You're an atheist? Do you lack a belief in the anthropomorphization of anything that doesn't have human characteristics? Then you're not a true atheist!".
See where I'm going? It's stereotyping based on the conclusions oneself has reached.
 1. The other aspects of their personality.
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?
We choose our own gods.

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Offline jdawg70

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #20 on: May 23, 2014, 09:15:29 AM »
An atheist could be an ignorant, thoughtless a$$hole who does not care a flip about living a good, meaningful life. I would want to have nothing to do with such a person.
Yup:
"When we landed on the moon, that was the point where god should have come up and said 'hello'. Because if you invent some creatures, put them on the blue one and they make it to the grey one, you f**king turn up and say 'well done'."
- Eddie Izzard

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #21 on: May 23, 2014, 10:04:31 AM »
^^^^I was thinking of using something like that as the title of my atheist book-- damn her! I suppose I could still use Losing My Religion and if she sues me, revel in the publicity.  ;D

If she thinks that the US media is eliminating Christianity, I have to agree.  :?

Entire tv networks are devoted to promoting Zoroastrianism 24-7-- whenever I get my hair done, I have to endure an hour of Ahura Mazda. Sports figures going on and on about how Buddha or Durga helped them win the game. Awards programs where the celebrities thank rational thinking, and their mother and best friends and agent, for helping them through hard times. All those Ramadan holiday specials crowding out any mention of Christmas.... &)
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

Offline jaimehlers

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #22 on: May 23, 2014, 11:23:53 AM »
See where I'm going? It's stereotyping based on the conclusions oneself has reached.
Honestly, I think you're reaching quite a bit with that reasoning.

Look at the very first thing that penfold posted:  "Many atheists, with some justification, feel that a lack of belief should not define them; so to write about how atheists should live is absurd and patronising."  Would you want to be defined solely by your lack of belief in a god and nothing else?  I can't imagine that too many people (atheists or not) would want to be defined by something they don't have or that they aren't, and certainly not if they've actually experienced it.

His post has nothing to do with establishing any justification for arbitrarily declaring whether or not such and such a person is an atheist.  I'm guessing that the reason you came to this conclusion is when he said "atheists reject the notion that the universe is in possession of inherent meaning or purpose", because you came into the post with the first impression that he was trying to redefine atheism and saw nothing to change your mind about it.  You should note that he asked to hear from people who are atheists and believe that the universe has inherent purpose - meaning he likely could not imagine that a person who lacked belief in gods would ascribe any sort of inherent purpose to the universe or things inside the universe.  In short, that not ascribing purpose to the universe was a necessary consequence of lacking belief in gods.

Part of the problem is also the fact that English tends to be somewhat sloppy with words.  Just look at the 'theory' mess - what most people mean by theory is not what scientists mean by it.  The same thing is true of 'purpose' - its basic meaning is just the reason something exists, but to a lot of people that means "why it was made"; as in, it carries the implication that the universe was made, by something or someone, for a particular reason.

Offline Jesuis

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #23 on: May 23, 2014, 03:59:17 PM »
The atheists of the day should live a life according to the theists of the day.
The highest moral human authority is copied by our Gandhi neurons through observation.
Our right conduct, right behaviour, right language. Our thoughts words and deeds should be pure.

Only the living can teach the living and lead by example on how to live.
A liar, a murderer, a thief, an adulterer, a molester, an egotist, cannot be held up to society as the best example to follow.
Only the living theist can.
 
At the moment the ones who call themselves atheists are leaderless.
With each following the dictates of his own mind and desires.
That ignorance is what leads the worst atheist to commit more and more atrocities unto others.

One cannot learn conscious awareness and morality from an atheist that is copied from the theists, from master to disciple.
What is written is a historical record, a guide for the child humanity, but it does not carry the same weight in Gandhi neuron technology where leadership is taught by example. Blessed are those that have heard and believe, but for those that have seen and heard and learned the path will surely find the truth.

Theists know God and teach atheist how to find same. It is the human beings birth right to know God. Live a life of love and God will find you. Live a life of selfishness, ego, anger, greed, and God cannot interfere with the process you want to experience. Such a path only brings more and more suffering.
According to Theists: Theists know God, Atheists don't.

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2014, 04:10:17 PM »
I am an atheist but i am unsure of the meaning of the universe but i still love it. nearly every theist i have ever talked to can not tell me the meaning of the universe either. they can not even tell me the meaning or purpose of creation but most love it.
What do you mean by you love it even though you do not know what it is? Isn't that the same mentality of the people who say they love God?
According to Theists: Theists know God, Atheists don't.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #25 on: May 23, 2014, 05:42:19 PM »
The atheists of the day should live a life according to the theists of the day.
The highest moral human authority is copied by our Gandhi neurons through observation.
Our right conduct, right behaviour, right language. Our thoughts words and deeds should be pure.

^^ This is generated by some sort of automated program, right?
The highest moral human authority is copied by our Gandhi neurons through observation.

Offline nogodsforme

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #26 on: May 23, 2014, 05:55:47 PM »
That's why I put Jesuis on ignore. If I want word salad, there are far more entertaining ways. Like the site that will put any name into travolta.
Extraordinary claims of the bible don't even have ordinary evidence.

Kids aren't paying attention most of the time in science classes so it seems silly to get worked up over ID being taught in schools.

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #27 on: May 23, 2014, 06:07:30 PM »
Jesuis i know what the universe is in good detail. there is a difference in knowing what something is and knowing its purpose if it actually even has a purpose or meaning.

please do tell me the meaning of the universe and the purpose if creation.
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Offline eh!

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Re: How atheists should live.
« Reply #28 on: May 23, 2014, 06:08:50 PM »
Oh and wtf is a ghandi neuron - a medical reference please or a you just making shit up.... again.
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