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  1. #1
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Default Atheist but not humanist

    If the trajectory of our cultures is progressing along the lines of becoming secular and atheist but not humanist then what are the consequences?

    I looked at a book of essays by theorists, including Dawkins, recently which was titled something along the lines of "What's your dangerous idea?". Now it did strike me as confirmation that a lot of these theorists in my opinion crave attention and must court controversy but what was more significant was that a lot of the essays seemed to seek to reintroduce or revitalise a lot of social darwinist thinking.

    I mean that fundamentally people are not equal, not born equal, not of equal worth. Now I did not read enough to discover if there were any ethnic or other criteria for judging this but even if there were not I still find that a little disconcerting.

    I'll qualify this by saying that I'm one of the few people perhaps who hasnt ever been that thrilled about the idea of meritocracy, I do think learning and appitude and adaptability are vitally important and rewards reflecting that can be a good thing but I dont htink that people have no worth if they fail meritocratically. I put this down to what I consider to be humanistic beliefs which are derivative from religion.

    None of these other thinkers seem to have that, they are atheist and dont believe in either God or man and have no obligations to either. I'm not sure that the ascendency of these ideas or norms is a good thing.

  2. #2
    Senior Member ZPowers's Avatar
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    Atheism is not connected to any particular morality nor does it determine what value you put upon other people's lives. You don't need religion to consider all human life inherently valuable. Hell, more atheistic peoples and countries are more likely to oppose the death penalty, so they must have some regard for even the worst of human life. More atheistic countries also tend to have lower crime (including murder rates) and provide healthcare for all. Not to say the lack of faith is the CAUSE of these good things. More extensive education also has links to both atheism and progressive ideologies, so it could be the result of education, but there's no reason to assume atheists for some reason think human life is valueless because it doesn't have God behind it.

    To me, human life can be valuable on its own merit. It doesn't need God, because it's already worth caring about without a third party reminding you that it is worth caring about.

    But I'm certain there are some atheists who don't care about human life at all. I'd say there are some people like that in every single religion, socio-economic status, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity and gender. I would assume the two are generally unconnected, because if you cut your post by 98%, it does sum up the entirety of what atheism is "don't believe in ... God." Done.

    What you're talking about is a moral issue, not a religious one.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    I just realized where you and I differ Lark! I think you see humanist values as tending to come primarily from spirituality (which I agree with to some extent). But I see the spiritual as metaphor for the emotional experience of being a baby and not having the tools (neurological development? Language?) To codify these experiences and relate them to others. So to me atheists/agnostics raised in a emotionally supportive manner tend not to encounter the pitfalls of those that are not raised in such an environment (namely infps in my mind)
    For all that we have done, as a civilization, as individuals, the universe is not stable, and nor is any single thing within it. Stars consume themselves, the universe itself rushes apart, and we ourselves are composed of matter in constant flux. Colonies of cells in temporary alliance, replicating and decaying and housed within, an incandescent cloud of electrical impulses. This is reality, this is self knowledge, and the perception of it will, of course, make you dizzy.

  4. #4
    Starcrossed Seafarer Aquarelle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I'll qualify this by saying that I'm one of the few people perhaps who hasnt ever been that thrilled about the idea of meritocracy, I do think learning and appitude and adaptability are vitally important and rewards reflecting that can be a good thing but I dont htink that people have no worth if they fail meritocratically. I put this down to what I consider to be humanistic beliefs which are derivative from religion.
    I agree with you about human value, but I would suggest that perhaps religion, fundamentally, derives from humanistic values, not the opposite.
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  5. #5
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    whenever i am interacting with someone religious, i always have the question in the back of my head - are they behaving as decent people because they are, or because they are egoistically terrified that god would smite them or that they'll go to hell... is that all that's stopping them from raping, pillaging and murdering?

    so answer me this @Lark :
    if god, heaven and hell wasn't part of your world view, would you become a complete asshole?
    there would be no empathy stopping you from causing pain and suffering to those around you?
    would you be incapable of respecting those around you as you want for yourself if they weren't created by god?

    if the answers are no, you have nothing to worry about.

    if the answer is yes *shifty eyes*

  6. #6
    Senior Member ZPowers's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mane View Post
    whenever i am interacting with someone religious, i always have the question in the back of my head - are they behaving as decent people because they are, or because they are egoistically terrified that god would smite them or that they'll go to hell... is that all that's stopping them from raping, pillaging and murdering?

    so answer me this @Lark :
    if god, heaven and hell wasn't part of your world view, would you become a complete asshole?
    there would be no empathy stopping you from causing pain and suffering to those around you?
    would you be incapable of respecting those around you as you want for yourself if they weren't created by god?

    if the answers are no, you have nothing to worry about.

    if the answer is yes *shifty eyes*

    Yes, this reminds me of a quote I from Einstein:

    A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

    - Albert Einstein
    Does he want a pillow for his head?

  7. #7
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by UniqueMixture View Post
    I just realized where you and I differ Lark! I think you see humanist values as tending to come primarily from spirituality (which I agree with to some extent). But I see the spiritual as metaphor for the emotional experience of being a baby and not having the tools (neurological development? Language?) To codify these experiences and relate them to others. So to me atheists/agnostics raised in a emotionally supportive manner tend not to encounter the pitfalls of those that are not raised in such an environment (namely infps in my mind)
    I'm glad we differ that way.

    If I were you I'd read that post again and think about it.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aquarelle View Post
    I agree with you about human value, but I would suggest that perhaps religion, fundamentally, derives from humanistic values, not the opposite.
    That is what Feurbach and Erich Fromm (possibly even, arguably, Karl Marx and Freud) thought, although Fromm was the most insistent in suggesting that all religions have as their foundation an unconscious humanism. Perhaps you are right.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mane View Post
    whenever i am interacting with someone religious, i always have the question in the back of my head - are they behaving as decent people because they are, or because they are egoistically terrified that god would smite them or that they'll go to hell... is that all that's stopping them from raping, pillaging and murdering?

    so answer me this @Lark :
    if god, heaven and hell wasn't part of your world view, would you become a complete asshole?
    there would be no empathy stopping you from causing pain and suffering to those around you?
    would you be incapable of respecting those around you as you want for yourself if they weren't created by god?

    if the answers are no, you have nothing to worry about.

    if the answer is yes *shifty eyes*
    I'm not sure I should take that question seriously and respond given that its based upon such a reductionist and prejorative understanding of religion and religious thinking.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ZPowers View Post
    Yes, this reminds me of a quote I from Einstein:

    A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.

    - Albert Einstein
    It is not necessary but it could still be beneficial. I agree that man would indeed be in a poor way if he was restrained only by fear of punish and hope of reward, whether that's before or after death, that would not be a man but a utilitarian-rational calculator from the labs of the chicago school of economics, a machine, an automaton robot.

    I agree that man's ethical behaviour should be based upon those criteria and religion has as much of value to say about that as philosophy.

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