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  1. #1
    royal member Rasofy's Avatar
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    Default [Non Spiritual Atheists] Your beliefs and the rest of the world.

    The question is directed towards a very specific demographic. That said, if you're not part of that demography, try to keep your posts pertinent to the subject or create another thread.

    This thread can potentially sound pretentious. It's not the intent, but that isn't unexpected.



    Questions:


    -Do you think people who don't have the same belief that you hold would somehow be better off recognizing and dealing with the fact that there's no God & no afterlife?


    -Do you try to convince religious/spiritual people that they're wrong? Why/Why not? How much you care about them does affect the decision?

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    Stephen Hawking is a non-spiritual atheist who has some good points on the idea of a creator.
    6.The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started -- it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator? [Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 140-41.]
    source - http://atheism.about.com/library/quo...q_SHawking.htm

  3. #3
    Senior Member ptgatsby's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasofy View Post
    -Do you think people who don't have the same belief that you hold would somehow be better off recognizing and dealing with the fact that there's no God & no afterlife?
    I don't think they are individually any better off believing that there is no God and no afterlife. I mean, no one can actually answer those two questions meaningfully. However, I think they are better off not basing their lives around assumptions that are not meaningfully answered.

    I use food (and the worship of purity of food, a recent trend in western culture). A lot of people think organic is better for you; often it isn't. Sometimes locally grown is often better due to depletion issues. Frozen vegetables are often better than fresh... a lot of variations. Believing that organic food is good for you isn't strictly harmful - it can make you eat better, care about what you eat and so forth. I'm not terribly critical of these beliefs, anymore than I am for regligious charitable organisations (or those based on those beliefs).

    However, I believe it is strictly better to know the answers so that you can maximise your gain, regardless of what aspect of life we talk about. Attitudes carried from assumptions in God are not aligned with this attitude. Better is too subjective; perhaps some simply aren't suited to approaching life that way.

    (An important note is that I don't pick on individual examples: I would consider myself "creationist" or "ID" on different grounds than someone religious. It's notable that I cannot have a conversation with a religious person about this because the belief is entrenched in a completely different decision space than mine. That's the kind of absolute cost I am referring to.)


    -Do you try to convince religious/spiritual people that they're wrong? Why/Why not? How much you care about them does affect the decision?
    Not really. I'm mostly curious why people believe that. I find most beliefs lie between "so teeth numbingly bad" and "too entrenched to change", religious or not, and nowhere between those two is there a rewarding place to debate.

    I also have a bayesian view of knowledge. Saying God does or does not exist is an undefined problem - a lack of information means a lack of probability to even begin a discussion (except about the information, that can be interesting...) My viewpoint on knowledge makes all of the aesoteric conversations boring. The other side of that is that I won't accept mis-applications of high probability information, and on that I will say they are (probably wrong). Being outcome based, regardless of the truth of the matter, I still judge the probability of my success of changing someone's opinion. So, like above, even then I find it rare that I will debate many issues; but at least on the tangible stuff, I will.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Survive & Stay Free's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasofy View Post
    -Do you think people who don't have the same belief that you hold would somehow be better off recognizing and dealing with the fact that there's no God & no afterlife?


    -Do you try to convince religious/spiritual people that they're wrong? Why/Why not? How much you care about them does affect the decision?
    Good question, I've experienced as much evangelism for atheism as I have for anything else.

    Personally I think that theists and atheists alike should instead orientate themselves to discussions of ethics and life. There should be more that unites than divides on that topic and what does divide would probably prove illuminating.

  5. #5
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasofy View Post
    -Do you think people who don't have the same belief that you hold would somehow be better off recognizing and dealing with the fact that there's no God & no afterlife?
    It depends. Yes, overall, but in some cases, no. It also makes a big difference how that belief is changed and where their original beliefs came from. I think using force/persuasion to change people's minds is likely to do more harm than good (as well as not working) but I think increased numbers of atheists in the world would correlate with an increased respect for science, which in my view is a good thing.
    -Do you try to convince religious/spiritual people that they're wrong? Why/Why not? How much you care about them does affect the decision?
    No. I think it's a personal decision. However if we're arguing about it, I will explain why I believe what I do, and point out any logical inconsistencies that exist in their views, as they will for mine. That's different from persuasion, which IMO is a far more active process, like walking up to someone out of nowhere and attacking their religious views.
    -end of thread-

  6. #6
    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    Do I think theists would be better off without their believes... That a very open ended question and as Lark suggested, not necessarily very productive. I'll go as far as to say that I think some of them would be better of without certain facets of their faith and leave it at that.

    I rarely bother talking about religion. If someone believes, then that's their business, not mine. I dislike the idea of impossing my ideas upon someone else, especially when what they are doing has no impact on my life unless I stick my head where it's not wanted. It's like wandering up to a complete stranger and spitting in their face, then being puzzled when they get upset with you.

    Where I live, we often get people jogging around the town centre, playing instruments and singing. Judging from the orange robs, I think they're buddists. That's fair enough. It's not like they are creating a huge problem and at least they smile a lot. I don't demand that they only practice their faith in a locked basement. It kind of irritates me when some asshole starts pestering me about god in the street. It seems like the height of rudeness. I give them the space to believe what they like, but they won't return the favour? Such encounters leave me thinking that perhaps the militant atheists who want to crush all religion might be on to something.
    Don't make whine out of sour grapes.

  7. #7
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    Not necessarily, if it makes them happy and improves their lives, all power to them.

    No, there is no point in doing that. What true purpose what it serve? Furthermore, it honestly doesn't bother me when people tell me about their religious beliefs...even if I disagree. If their close friends and family I love them regardless unless they try to "save me" and then I go ballistic.

  8. #8
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    I think people who sincerely believe in religion and spirituality do have some problems they'd be better off without. They are essentially investing their confidence in things that won't help them. They're counting on things that will never come, and possibly even going so far as to diminish their investments in real, practical answers so that they can further invest them into useless things. Granted, religious and spiritual people do sometimes seem to have a benefit from the positivity of their beliefs, but that's basically saying they're gaining bliss from ignorance, and that's an approach I've never trusted. I tend to think that eventually your ignorance will open you up to a problem severe enough to shatter all of that and leave you worse off than if you were never ignorant. Some are lucky enough to not have to face that.

    On the other hand, even the whole ignorant bliss thing doesn't always pan out. I've heard from so many people who struggle with their lives, and they ask why God has forsaken them, and it's really a horrible thing to hear. There are people who live in fear of hell. There are people who take their losses as some kind of punishment for inadequacy. A statement that really stands out to me in this regard is that of a chronically sick woman who asked "If I can't believe enough to be healthy, how can I believe enough for salvation?" Think about that.

    This might be straying a bit outside of your question, but I definitely think that it's better for other people when person isn't religious or spiritual, and in the big picture all of us (including them) would benefit as a result of everyone shedding such beliefs.

    That being said, I rarely try to change the minds of religious people. In most cases that it has happened, the issue was pushed by the religious person and not myself. The reason for this is that I simply doubt my ability to change their minds, and the process of trying tends to be turbulent. I think the conflict often ends up being costly for all concerned, but since they rarely ever change their minds, nothing is gained for that cost.

    The amount I care about someone makes me more likely to try. Obviously, since I think it's better to not be religious or spiritual, it's partly compelled by my desire to want something better for someone I care about. There are other factors, though. I try to maintain relationships with people I care about, and the more time I spend with someone or the more personal the level of interaction becomes, the more problematic our different philosophies become, so it just follows that attempts to change their mind will be more likely.
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  9. #9
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    1) No. No one likes an elitist.


    2) Very subtly. I prefer the Socratic Method, comparing/contrasting ideas, and other assorted approaches to building a shared database of knowledge between myself and the person who's beliefs I am encroaching upon. For example, I have two Jehovah's Witnesses that stop by my house about once a month to talk about Buddhism. We oft liken him to Jesus and other assorted themes, but I don't mind the expansion of understanding we share.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rasofy View Post
    Questions:


    -Do you think people who don't have the same belief that you hold would somehow be better off recognizing and dealing with the fact that there's no God & no afterlife?


    -Do you try to convince religious/spiritual people that they're wrong? Why/Why not? How much you care about them does affect the decision?
    1) I think it would make things easier for everyone to trust in science rather than religion. Religion just has so many faith components that I find to be unnerving/dangerous/vile. So, pretty much yes. I was a church yesterday against my will (once every few years kind of thing...) and reaffirmed my beliefs on these things.

    2) No. If they bring it up (You wanna go to church? etc.) I just tell them I don't and that I am an atheist. If they go beyond that I am open to talk about it. I will not try to convince them most likely. I just assume they will either come to it through questions their faith can't answer or they will not. Either way their kids are more likely to.
    Dirt Farmer

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