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Author Topic: Respect my ass  (Read 40441 times)
Simon K
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #105 on: August 07, 2007, 01:17:45 pm »

Because there is no argument in the first place because there is no conclusive evidence of God not existing or existing, like I said, no amount of discussion on these boards will ever change that.

You're absolutely right. However, there's also no conclusive evidence that Santa Claus doesn't run a secret underground toy and thermonuclear weapon construction facility, manned by elven slave labour, hidden under the icy wastes of the North Pole. There's also no conclusive evidence against roaming gangs of tooth fairies running an underworld black market economy of children's teeth, or that the British Parliament is in fact being mind-controlled by an all-seeing tin of baked beans in orbit around Saturn.

No sane person believes in either of these, not because of evidence that they don't exist, but because of the absence of evidence that they do exist. Why should we believe in Yahweh, the deity of middle-eastern bronze age shepherds, any more than we should believe in Odin, Athena, Quetzalcoatl or Ba'al?

The major reason why I personally believe that the concept of God is beneficial, is that Humans have something to humble themselves to.
Humbling oneself before a fiction is not humility, it is humiliation.

I personally feel humble when reflecting on that when all comes to all, I am nothing more than a carbon-based lifeform living on a pale blue dot in orbit around an insignificant little yellow star, in a nondescript spiral arm of one of billions of galaxies -- a simple descendant of plains hunter-gatherers, pondering his place in an unimaginably vast universe. It seems to me that when my own spot in the universe is so tiny, it is entirely up to me to give my brief stay in existence meaning, and to make it as good as I possibly can.

Without the concept of a being that is higher than you, power would be the alternative "religion" anyone who had power would as such have no consequence to use it for his own will. With the ideas of a God that will punish you for your sins, people who might behave like this won't due to said force.

In that case, religion has failed miserably. The abuses of power conducted by the Catholic Church in medieval times are well-documented, and modern-day powerful believers frequently engage in quite immoral acts. Much more so than the relatively individualist Christianity, Islam is founded on the premise that humans should humble themselves before God -- even the word "Islam" literally translates to "Submission". One look at the Middle East, with Shi'ites and Sunnites horrifically slaughtering and torturing each other, should show that religion does not stop people from immoral behaviour.
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #106 on: August 07, 2007, 03:45:12 pm »

British Parliament is in fact being mind-controlled by an all-seeing tin of baked beans in orbit around Saturn.
Blasphemer! Everyone knows it's a teapot.

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Why should we believe in Yahweh, the deity of middle-eastern bronze age shepherds, any more than we should believe in Odin, Athena, Quetzalcoatl or Ba'al?
Exactly, the major problem with religions is that there are so many to believe in! From a scientific and philosophical point of view, monotheism has at least one thing going for it: it cuts the amount of gods down to a minimum. The part I don't quite get is why an omnipotent and omniscient being has such a hard time getting people to behave the way He wants.

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modern-day powerful believers frequently engage in quite immoral acts.
More to the point, the powerful beliefs don't need to be religious in nature; for horrifying atheist fanatics, check out the Soviet Union under Stalin.
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #107 on: August 07, 2007, 04:41:24 pm »


Exactly, the major problem with religions is that there are so many to believe in! From a scientific and philosophical point of view, monotheism has at least one thing going for it: it cuts the amount of gods down to a minimum.

Actually, atheism is one god better at that than monotheism. :-)
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #108 on: August 07, 2007, 05:02:21 pm »

Because there is no argument in the first place because there is no conclusive evidence of God not existing or existing, like I said, no amount of discussion on these boards will ever change that.

But there's no need for evidence of God not existing, for the same reason there's no need for evidence that flying tomatoes or Remultap the Fashionably Excellent Djinn do not exist: because there's no reason to believe they do exist in the first place.

Also, how do you disprove God's existence? I think a true believer would argue it's impossible to do so (which brings us back to the last point of my last message).

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The major reason why I personally believe that the concept of God is beneficial, is that Humans have something to humble themselves to. Without the concept of a being that is higher than you, power would be the alternative "religion" anyone who had power would as such have no consequence to use it for his own will. With the ideas of a God that will punish you for your sins, people who might behave like this won't due to said force.

That didn't prevent priests from molesting children. And what about Islamists who think their purpose in life is killing people? My point is, there are moral and immoral people on both sides. There's no proof that religious people behave better than secular ones.

You have a good point with the first statement, although the theory of a supernatural being or somesuch goes so far back in our evolution, it's been entwined in most of our cultures.

Indeed. The thing is that Main stream religion is corrupt, simply because it's written by man, and it's run by man. Corruption amongst humanity is ever present, on both sides of the coin. Scientists aren't flawless themselves, and neither were Priests and so on. The thing is, to have something that puts you in an unrivaled amount of power (Such as being that one person who has "connections" with a God, or being the Scientist with too much praise) will most likely cause some people to become corrupt in their roles. Personaly, I disagree with the ideas of a Priest or the certain person you "need" to get in touch with in order to become closer to God (if in existance), there aren't any quick fixes in life, you have to guide yourself most of time, so the idea of that someone who can instantly forgive your sins seems fishy to me.

One question though for the Atheists here, even though you do not believe in a supernatural being (unless it can be proven), do some of you still believe in some form of Afterlife, be it off of this world, or reincarnation?
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #109 on: August 07, 2007, 05:11:18 pm »

While I can't answer for all the atheists here, I personally believe that after this life, I will most likely be eaten by worms. My conscious self, an emergent property of the complexity of my brain, will be gone when my brain has ceased functioning.

It is technically possible to be an atheist and believe in the supernatural (such as an immaterial soul) -- as long as supernatural phenomena or entities are not considered divine. However, many atheists (myself included) are also naturalists, meaning we believe that anything that has an observable effect on this universe has a natural cause.
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #110 on: August 08, 2007, 04:37:17 am »

I believe people like the idea of the afterlife because of fear of death. We are programmed to be disgusted with the thought of losing our consciousness. You can't imagine yourself in a situation where you are no longer thinking, and that is unacceptable for many people.

I think it is easiest to understand death by thinking of it as going to sleep without dreaming or waking up.


By the way, I really dislike the term "atheist". First, because I don't like being labelled, and second, because one of its possible meanings is "one who believes God does not exist". That's not what describes me best; why would I be thinking anything about the existence of God without any data about it?

If I must be labelled, I'd rather be called an agnostic.
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #111 on: August 08, 2007, 11:25:19 am »

The reason I prefer "atheist" to "agnostic" is because deities have no special place in my universe. I also have no data to disprove the existence of invisible Irish Leprechauns, and yet, I don't regard the question of Irish Leprechauns as a deep mystery I cannot know anything about. With no observable evidence for their existence, it is reasonable to assume that they do not exist.

I believe it was Douglas Adams who coined the term "tooth fairy agnostic" -- he considered himself agnostic about God in the same way as most adults are agnostic about the tooth fairy.

As for death, Epicurius said it best: "Why fear death? Where death is, I am not. Where I am, death is not. Why should I fear that which cannot be where I am?"
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #112 on: August 08, 2007, 12:24:19 pm »

The reason I prefer "atheist" to "agnostic" is because deities have no special place in my universe.

They all the more have no special place in an agnostic's universe: an agnostic refuses to even discuss them and their existence, which I think is a better attitude. It's like ignoring instead of arguing.

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I also have no data to disprove the existence of invisible Irish Leprechauns, and yet, I don't regard the question of Irish Leprechauns as a deep mystery I cannot know anything about. With no observable evidence for their existence, it is reasonable to assume that they do not exist.

I completely agree when the analogy is for a "religious god", with all the specific manmade details. But the definition I mentioned was "one who believes God does not exist", i.e. any kind of god. Since the very existence of the universe makes no sense scientifically, there might as well be a creator. Who knows? Could we ever find out? I don't pretend to know such things, nor do I care about them. That's agnosticism and I love it. Cheesy
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #113 on: August 08, 2007, 01:01:11 pm »

I don't pretend to know such things, nor do I care about them. That's agnosticism and I love it. Cheesy
I guess that makes you an apathetic agnostic.
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #114 on: August 08, 2007, 01:14:22 pm »

Consider the following, which I shall call Serge's Salvation through Satan:
  • a good god, being good, might forgive you for the evil things you did
  • an evil god, being evil, is unlikely to tolerate your good acts
So if you assume that there is a god, and that it's either good or evil, your best chance is doing evil things.

Fortunately, I don't take this whole god thing very seriously, nor do I recognise the existance of such a thing as absolute good and evil.
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #115 on: August 08, 2007, 02:04:40 pm »

Ack! It's like Pascal's Wager in reverse! Grin
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #116 on: August 08, 2007, 05:45:50 pm »

I don't pretend to know such things, nor do I care about them. That's agnosticism and I love it. Cheesy
I guess that makes you an apathetic agnostic.
Undecided I dislike this fragmentation of agnosticism. It's like the crazy amount of Linux distributions. One cannot see the wood for the trees.

I don't think I'm apathetic any more than any other agnostic should be. I mean, all agnostics say we don't know anything about the existence or non-existence of deities. So why would they care about something they know nothing about? It's only natural not to care.
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #117 on: August 08, 2007, 06:13:56 pm »

I don't think I'm apathetic any more than any other agnostic should be. I mean, all agnostics say we don't know anything about the existence or non-existence of deities. So why would they care about something they know nothing about? It's only natural not to care.

Because agnosticism also represents a stance on the religious questions. Agnosticism doesn't just mean "not knowing" or "not caring" about religious questions, it means the stance that religious questions are unknowable. Many agnostics (including most agnostic philosophers) defend this stance with just as much zeal as religious thinkers and atheists defend theirs.
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #118 on: August 09, 2007, 02:26:07 am »

Although now that we're speaking about labels and the Judean People's Front vs. the People's Front of Judea, I suppose I am more accurately described as an antitheist rather than an atheist. Not only do I not believe in gods, I find that belief in gods is an actively destructive and dangerous force, not unlike a socially sanctioned mass psychosis, and a force which has proven itself to be inimical to free thought and reason. I view it as my intellectual duty to oppose it.
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Re: Respect my ass
« Reply #119 on: August 09, 2007, 06:43:13 am »

Although now that we're speaking about labels and the Judean People's Front vs. the People's Front of Judea, I suppose I am more accurately described as an antitheist rather than an atheist. Not only do I not believe in gods, I find that belief in gods is an actively destructive and dangerous force, not unlike a socially sanctioned mass psychosis, and a force which has proven itself to be inimical to free thought and reason. I view it as my intellectual duty to oppose it.

I agree with this notion. Let's start a new movement. Tongue

I still dislike "Xtheist", though, for semantic reasons. I prefer "antireligious". I really prefer no label at all, because there's nothing special about us. We're natural thinkers.

About agnosticism, it does make perfect sense to me to say religious matters are unknowable. Even if miracles start happening tomorrow, maybe it's some amazingly advanced alien race? Maybe it's the operator of the Matrix? It's just a reasonable trail of thought. I think that saying "I believe that God does not exist" is more of a stance.
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