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  1. #1
    Senior Member burymecloser's Avatar
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    Default atheist guilt and nihilism

    Read a stupid blog post and need to Ti-vent... the author has got to be an immature Fi-dom, right?

    I fall on the atheism side of the fence [but] I like to call myself a naturalist. It feels more comfortable ... Smug atheism makes me cringe. I have a set of beliefs that I feel very strongly about, and I can back them up because I believe that they can be proven. Others have a set of beliefs that they feel very strongly about, and they can back them up because they believe they don’t need to be proven. Neither system is inherently better than the other ... the truth of the matter is that nothing is really knowable, and the fact that I know that the earth revolves around the sun doesn’t mean that it actually does — it just means that that’s as much as we’ve been able to prove given what we know and understand about the laws of physics (i.e., according to my belief system, it is true). When I think about that, that is not really different from somebody else knowing that Jesus came back from the dead.
    There is a substantial body of proof to support the idea that the earth revolves around the sun. Without getting into whether we believe Jesus came back from the dead, it's clearly a separate idea, ultimately a matter of faith. That's why we often use the terms religion and faith interchangeably. You can't posit those views as equally valid.

    Many people believe that Jesus rose from the dead, and that's great. But everyone believes the earth revolves around the sun, including those who celebrate Easter. The two views are not mutually exclusive, but one of them merely acknowledges reality -- everything we know to be true about the physical laws that govern the universe -- and the other is a leap of faith which speaks to many people but not to everyone.

    I am a pacifist, and I really, really hate the idea of people hurting in the name of religion. But if “religion” were replaced with “children,” what would we think? ... If science were at risk — if the government decided to strike all science from the books and teach children nothing about the natural world, and instead, only religious stories to explain everything — I can’t say that I would kill, but I would absolutely condemn. Science is dear to me.
    IOW... Killing in the name of religion is probably bad. But what if “religion” were replaced with “bacon”?!?!?!? If bacon were at risk — if the government decided to outlaw all pork products...
    I guess you see where I'm going. This "let's replace one word with another that's totally unrelated" game doesn't work.

    The author is now defending murdering for one's religious beliefs. This argument isn't about smug atheists any more, it's just a blank check for religious extremism (really for all extremism, if we're playing the "substitute children game"). We can't know which belief system is best, so anything done in the name of religion is valid. What a dangerous theory. Not all dichotomies present equally valid choices, and the author clearly doesn't realise that.

    The thing that a lot of atheists forget is that atheism is also a belief system.
    Believing in gravity and believing that God wants you to kill people are both beliefs, too.

    Atheists who go out of their ways shit on the beliefs that are important to other people are being dicks. But that does not mean that all beliefs -- religious and otherwise -- are equally valid. They're clearly not.

    I don't consider myself an atheist, and I do consider myself thoughtful and open-minded, but this post is absurd. We can't know anything for certain (including that the earth revolves around the sun), so everything is okay, because it might be. Right. The author is a nihilist, not a naturalist.
    i just want to be a sweetheart

  2. #2
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    What an annoying blog post. It was so...mindless that it gave me anxiety just reading it.
    Artes, Scientia, Veritasiness

  3. #3
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Roughly put, sounds like the argument "you should be nice to racists and homophobes and not boycott their businesses or tell them they are wrong because I believe in respect for all people and if you aren't nice to everyone then you can't expect them to be nice to you".



    Basically, it's being a universal moralist to the nth degree. "Everyone is right. No one is wrong. All beliefs are opinions and all opinions are the same".

    I mean, I'm a moral relativist, but c'mon. Gettouttaheeeere.
    “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” ― Oscar Wilde

    "I'm outtie 5000" ― Romulux

    Johari/Nohari

  4. #4
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CzeCze View Post
    Roughly put, sounds like the argument "you should be nice to racists and homophobes and not boycott their businesses or tell them they are wrong because I believe in respect for all people and if you aren't nice to everyone then you can't expect them to be nice to you".



    Basically, it's being a universal moralist to the nth degree. "Everyone is right. No one is wrong. All beliefs are opinions and all opinions are the same".

    I mean, I'm a moral relativist, but c'mon. Gettouttaheeeere.
    Very post modern.

  5. #5
    Senior Member reason's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by burymecloser View Post
    There is a substantial body of proof to support the idea that the earth revolves around the sun.
    There is also a substantial 'body of proof' that the sun revolves around the earth. To paraphrase Wittgenstein, while it may seem obvious to a 20th Century naturalist that the earth revolves around the sun, what would it have looked like if instead the sun revolved around the earth?

    The vast majority of evidence--and probably all evidence gleaned from your own meagre terrestrial vantage--is consistent with both interpretations, and so it is also "proof" of neither. Your 'body of proof' is likely nothing but secondhand reports from scientific authorities.

    Let us also not forget that 'proof' does not exist in science, at least outside of purely formal derivations from hypotheses. In science, even the most well-established hypotheses may be overturned in the future. However much 'proof' you throw around, none of it will stick.

    In the sense of justified true belief, scientific hypotheses really aren't knowledge.

    Without getting into whether we believe Jesus came back from the dead, it's clearly a separate idea, ultimately a matter of faith.
    Why is it anymore a 'matter of faith' than that the earth revolves around the sun? In abstract, 'Jesus came back from the dead' is a proposition. It my be true or false. There is nothing intrinsic to such a claim that means it must be 'a matter of faith'.

    The reasons why and how people come to believe such propositions is not dictated by the proposition itself. One person might believe it while full of questions and doubt, while another believes it with an unshakable conviction. One may come to believe it because that's what his parents taught him, while and another might do the same by considered and rational argument.

    That's why we often use the terms religion and faith interchangeably.
    No, tha's not why we use 'religion' and 'faith' interchangeably. That might be why you do, but I would say it's just a sloppy equivocation.

    You can't posit those views as equally valid.
    No, you can, and she did. What you offer here is not an explanation of why she is wrong but just the bald assertion thereof. Why are those views not equally valid, according to what criteria, and why should we care?

    Personally, I like the post. Many (though not all) of its criticisms of atheists and naturalists were right on target. The author's occasional descent into relativism was only partly mistaken.
    A criticism that can be brought against everything ought not to be brought against anything.

  6. #6
    RETIRED CzeCze's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Very post modern.
    Whoops, I meant "moral relativist"
    “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they'll kill you.” ― Oscar Wilde

    "I'm outtie 5000" ― Romulux

    Johari/Nohari

  7. #7

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    That blog post was all over the goddamn place. And her constant reiterating of "I think this is ridiculous but only because it is not my belief system" was irritating. You're not arguing anything with that, you're just being vague and wishy-washy.

    And that whole business of it being unethical for a father to NOT teach his daughter his beliefs, regardless of what they are, was weird and confusing. What kind of point is that? Where did it comes from? Like I said, all over the place.

    Bah...I'd go on, but everyone's summed up the blog's faults pretty well here already.

  8. #8
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    There's a few different kinds of atheist.

    Two of them are (there are more but I'm listing two)

    The type that actually don't have a belief. This is like a strong version of agnosticism.

    The other kind are the ones that have negated belief. This means that a statement can take the form of "I believe x"

    Why are these different? One actually has a belief, and the other doesn't.

    People concentrate too much on what is or isn't being believed rather than belief vs not belief, but there really is a difference between "I don't believe" and "I believe"

    "I don't believe" is clearly an expression of lack of belief, and is an entirely different predicate from "I believe." They do not say the same thing.

    You can clearly see this if you use a different predicate. One example would be "I eat cheese" vs "I don't eat cheese"

    Given that, though, how does one say that they are convinced that there is no god? It's actually very simple. This is achieved by adding a negation "I believe that there is no god."

  9. #9
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    There's nothing that I can add other than a few snide comments, because as @funkadelik stated, everything that needs to be said probably already has.

    edit: wait, there's something to be said about the whole "science" thing. I might get to that later
    Quote Originally Posted by burymecloser View Post
    Neither system is inherently better than the other ... the truth of the matter is that nothing is really knowable
    [...]
    Believing in gravity and believing that God wants you to kill people are both beliefs, too.

    Atheists who go out of their ways shit on the beliefs that are important to other people are being dicks. But that does not mean that all beliefs -- religious and otherwise -- are equally valid. They're clearly not.
    Yeah, I'm not a big fan of the whole

    "Welp, we can't know anything; therefore, we shouldn't make any highly educated guesses or useful models or assumptions; we should instead just shrug our shoulders and say 'screw the whole damn enterprise'"

    mentality, myself.

    --

    One of my favorite parts are the comments. Everyone takes a paragraph to describe the nuances of their own religious views in order to give 'proper context' to their sentence-long statements.

    "Well, I was brought up in church by God-fearing parents in a Jewish neighborhood, way down in the barrows of the Bronx. Raised Catholic, went to a Catholic school for most of my life. I then spent a year in Tibet and trained with monks.. some nice folks there; I really developed a good understanding of Eastern philosophy from them. When I came back to the states, I followed Christ with a new calling and a more complete understanding. So, I am by no means an atheist, but I've developed some naturalist in me. That said, I agree with the author."

  10. #10
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    Red face

    I really, really hate the idea of people hurting in the name of religion. But if “religion” were replaced with “children,” what would we think?
    Victor, is that you?

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