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  1. #11
    philosopher wood nymph greenfairy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    If religion is secondary to those things and still emerged I would question how or why it emerged and endured, it had to have corresponded to some human needs, Fromm would suggest the need for an object of devotion and frame of orientation. He has suggested that humanism underlies and underpins all the world religions, its a bit of a sweeping statement but logical when you consider the argument that it is a by product of humanity itself.

    If religion has been a purely utilitarian vehicle for the channelling of other more basic human needs, easily displaced with and without positive legacies wouldnt the consequences be similar to those of a patient who has received electro convulsive therapy to eradicate memory?

    If spirituality is individual contra the collectivist religiosity then does that not further mandate the sorts of things I mentioned before? The elimination of problem behaviour and families by extreme measures, either sterilisation or execution as a social cleansing? An individual spirituality would presumably eminate from the self and individual and have no logical connectivity towards the "other"?

    Thanks to both of you for posting, this has been very interesting.
    I'm not really understanding your arguments. How do your conclusions follow from your premises?

  2. #12
    philosopher wood nymph greenfairy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Interesting, you dont consider that by that measure there will instead be further fragmentation and conflict?
    Fragmentation and conflict are inherent in any human interaction. They don't tend to produce results which are beneficial for us until we resolve them. In this resolving of conflict we find the nature of wisdom.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Why would atheism recommend delayed gratification? If there is only the uncertain immediate and unforseen tommorrow and the a yesterday to be forgotten wouldnt the natural consequence be to become the most extreme objectivist there is.
    I only understand the first half of your argument here. How does atheism lead to uncertainty of consequences and forgetting of the past, and how does this lead to any sort of objectivism, and what does this objectivism relate to?

    But to the first part, atheism recommends delayed gratification because it is compatible with reason. We observe that we are in a world containing other beings, we observe that each of these beings has desires, and that these desires occasionally conflict; also we observe that actions have consequences, some more beneficial than others. This is completely independent of religion.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    If people have no moral worthy as posited by any belief system other than atheism would it not make as much sense to allow "perishers" to meet the fate which is contingent upon their actions and choices or even simply eliminate them? I mean besides the possible trauma suffered by the individuals doing the eliminating, which can be off set by medals, awards, ideology, would there not be greater benefit for everyone else, I mean given that everyone has only one life to live and nothing to look forward to but oblivion?
    I don't understand this argument. Atheism does not automatically exclude a belief in reincarnation or some kind of an afterlife if one chooses to have one. I personally believe in both, and that some people can choose to dissolve their essence back into nature after death.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I understand arguments of reciprocity and empathy but they are not the exclusively conclusion, it is just as rational to suppose that if everyone has only one life to live then no one has the time to wait upon natural consequences working themselves out and the impact of poor or outright depraved choices working themselves out, less so does any sort of social intervention recommend itself, other than a defensive one or exercise in damage limitation to others who are not generating a problem either directly or indirectly/consequently.

    Its not what the selfish gene would suggest, even considering the caveat that nationalism or tribalism may produce altruism, it remains fairly limited in its extention to complete strangers or those who are definitively different from the self.
    The bolded is pretty much the essence of the purpose of ethical behavior, and empathy is the psychological motivation.

    But the higher purpose of both, in terms of more general and holistic truth, is that the "selfish gene" is contained within a system of interconnection. Without this system, we would not exist. Therefore, no being can be truly selfish and survive, just as no being can be truly altruistic at all times and survive. We live in an ecosystem, we depend on the health of the planet for out health, and we are social animals who need human connection in order to survive. Actions have consequences, and those of each person must be balanced against those of each other person for optimal consequences for all. Being balanced between selfish and unselfish behavior is less of a choice than a recognition of the underlying truth of the reality of human existence. (Once again independent of religion, but religion attempts to influence things to this end by influencing collective social behavior and thought; spirituality does the same with the individual; and atheism does this through rationality.)

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenfairy View Post
    I'm not really understanding your arguments. How do your conclusions follow from your premises?
    The conclusions I have reached are based upon my knowledge of all the new atheist writers who are a source of inspiration for most atheists generally, Dawkins hasnt just written about belief in God being a delusion or the harm he feels religion has wrought, he has also written about the legitimacy of selfishness and even suggested it is genetically explicable, the only exception being nationalism or tribalism (how surprising, already sounds like another author) and in another book asking What's Your Dangerous Idea? And I think written after the dismissal of an academic associated with the discover of DNA who asserted that there are racially inequality is factual and genetically coded.

    I can understand why those writers reach thos conclusions or why Peter Singer feels that euthenasia, abortion, designer babies are all fine or that human life has the same moral equalivence as animal life, ie terminating human babies is less of an issue than great apes having still births as a result of human encroachments on their environments or being hunted for bush meat.

    I see it as a perfectly logical and rational working out from the first principles of religion being in ever respect erronious and villified. Social darwinism needed Darwinism as a precursor in thought.

    Its something which is not thought about much by many of the athiests I know in person. This hasnt been a stunt or something though, I'm genuinely interested in how people would seek to assail these things if the religious models are abscent because I think that slowly this is happening, I believe that the "God is dead" thesis is correct as a sociological observation rather than a matter of fact, that's significant because as I say I dont believe adjustments or anything like the structural or institutional sources of community, norms etc. exist within secularism and atheism as they have emerged.

  4. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by greenfairy View Post
    Fragmentation and conflict are inherent in any human interaction. They don't tend to produce results which are beneficial for us until we resolve them. In this resolving of conflict we find the nature of wisdom.


    I only understand the first half of your argument here. How does atheism lead to uncertainty of consequences and forgetting of the past, and how does this lead to any sort of objectivism, and what does this objectivism relate to?

    But to the first part, atheism recommends delayed gratification because it is compatible with reason. We observe that we are in a world containing other beings, we observe that each of these beings has desires, and that these desires occasionally conflict; also we observe that actions have consequences, some more beneficial than others. This is completely independent of religion.


    I don't understand this argument. Atheism does not automatically exclude a belief in reincarnation or some kind of an afterlife if one chooses to have one. I personally believe in both, and that some people can choose to dissolve their essence back into nature after death.



    The bolded is pretty much the essence of the purpose of ethical behavior, and empathy is the psychological motivation.

    But the higher purpose of both, in terms of more general and holistic truth, is that the "selfish gene" is contained within a system of interconnection. Without this system, we would not exist. Therefore, no being can be truly selfish and survive, just as no being can be truly altruistic at all times and survive. We live in an ecosystem, we depend on the health of the planet for out health, and we are social animals who need human connection in order to survive. Actions have consequences, and those of each person must be balanced against those of each other person for optimal consequences for all. Being balanced between selfish and unselfish behavior is less of a choice than a recognition of the underlying truth of the reality of human existence. (Once again independent of religion, but religion attempts to influence things to this end by influencing collective social behavior and thought; spirituality does the same with the individual; and atheism does this through rationality.)
    OK, if a communitarian and reciprocity exists rooted in empathy there are those, in fact many of them, who appear to be exceptions to the rule.

    Now lets have a thought experiment, its the old west, a small interdependent community of selfish genesters has set up a frontier community. Into town roll a transiant family, they dont share the norms of our frontier town and set about raping, molesting the kids, using intimidation and generally behaving anti-social. The earlier posts appear to me to be suggesting that in time this family will learn that their anti-social ways are not the way to get their needs met and will change their ways to reflect those of the other interdependent selfish genesters if they only interact with them kindly.

    From the perspective that life is short, there is only one, the void is what awaits after death, no reward, no punishment and there are no ultimate consequences it makes as much sense, better sense, for our frontier settlement to have no qualms about eliminating our transients, perhaps using the nearest tree and some borrowed rope.

    The ecological perspective is a good one, I like it and I do believe in interdependence, reciprocity and empathy, however, I to believe in the sanctity of human life more than other life, I think human kind should check itself but I'd never consider some, I hope I dont sound facetious, like a one child policy to save pandas, you know?

  5. #15
    philosopher wood nymph greenfairy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Now lets have a thought experiment, its the old west, a small interdependent community of selfish genesters has set up a frontier community. Into town roll a transiant family, they dont share the norms of our frontier town and set about raping, molesting the kids, using intimidation and generally behaving anti-social. The earlier posts appear to me to be suggesting that in time this family will learn that their anti-social ways are not the way to get their needs met and will change their ways to reflect those of the other interdependent selfish genesters if they only interact with them kindly.
    I don't believe this was the suggestion of the previous posts. We were talking about the bigger picture, that this is true for humanity as a whole. When an individual does realize that it is beneficial to act in balance with her or his environment (which includes people and other beings), s/he does so for the reasons I outlined. Of course, many will never realize this, and neither religion nor reason will persuade them. In which case we come to your second point.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    From the perspective that life is short, there is only one, the void is what awaits after death, no reward, no punishment and there are no ultimate consequences it makes as much sense, better sense, for our frontier settlement to have no qualms about eliminating our transients, perhaps using the nearest tree and some borrowed rope.
    Yes, I have no qualms about this either, either from the perspective of atheism or spirituality. Eliminating dangers to your fellow humans is consistent with both reason and ethics. This is the process of creating and restoring balance; sometimes there is no "good" way to do it, and the only way to resolve conflict is to eliminate the source.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    The ecological perspective is a good one, I like it and I do believe in interdependence, reciprocity and empathy, however, I to believe in the sanctity of human life more than other life, I think human kind should check itself but I'd never consider some, I hope I dont sound facetious, like a one child policy to save pandas, you know?
    I generally think it makes sense to give priority to our own species, but not in a way which throws off the balance. We should consider the nature of the needs we are balancing- are we giving priority to our sense of convenience over the survival of animals? This is not an equal situation. If it was a situation in which we needed to kill an animal because our survival was at stake, this would be an equal situation with equal needs. But I think our race and global society has gone far beyond this; we have removed ourselves from our natural environment to the extent that we are manipulating our natural environment for secondary needs rather than existing in harmony with it for primary needs. One may make the excuse that this situation allows more humans to survive, but I would respond that this very fact is imbalanced with nature. The planet is not meant to support so many humans, and consequently, despite there being more lives, the quality of each life on average is lower. Overpopulation of other species in nature can be observed to have the same results.

  6. #16
    philosopher wood nymph greenfairy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    The conclusions I have reached are based upon my knowledge of all the new atheist writers who are a source of inspiration for most atheists generally, Dawkins hasnt just written about belief in God being a delusion or the harm he feels religion has wrought, he has also written about the legitimacy of selfishness and even suggested it is genetically explicable, the only exception being nationalism or tribalism (how surprising, already sounds like another author) and in another book asking What's Your Dangerous Idea? And I think written after the dismissal of an academic associated with the discover of DNA who asserted that there are racially inequality is factual and genetically coded.

    I can understand why those writers reach thos conclusions or why Peter Singer feels that euthenasia, abortion, designer babies are all fine or that human life has the same moral equalivence as animal life, ie terminating human babies is less of an issue than great apes having still births as a result of human encroachments on their environments or being hunted for bush meat.

    I see it as a perfectly logical and rational working out from the first principles of religion being in ever respect erronious and villified. Social darwinism needed Darwinism as a precursor in thought.

    Its something which is not thought about much by many of the athiests I know in person. This hasnt been a stunt or something though, I'm genuinely interested in how people would seek to assail these things if the religious models are abscent because I think that slowly this is happening, I believe that the "God is dead" thesis is correct as a sociological observation rather than a matter of fact, that's significant because as I say I dont believe adjustments or anything like the structural or institutional sources of community, norms etc. exist within secularism and atheism as they have emerged.
    I was specifically referring to the arguments I quoted; I fail to see how those conclusions followed from the previous parts of the paragraphs.

    I think you are over-generalizing based on some things you have read, and this cannot accurately be applied to individual atheists, or even groups of them; or to countries since these countries are made up of groups of individuals. One or 2 works dealing with atheism cannot possibly have this kind of widespread effect. Also you fail to take into account that most atheists are so because of *Ti types of thinking rather than Te- that is to say they go through an internal process of questioning assumptions and finding answers rather than an external process of evaluating information from external sources. Many use science (Te as external empirical validation) as their basis, but ultimately the process of one becoming an atheist comes from within.

    *This is not of course to say anything about users of Ti or Te and atheism; I am simply using the functions to describe the thought processes. And I am also insinuating that you prefer a Te style of thinking because you are Te dominant, and this is why you fail to see the distinction.

  7. #17
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    I'd like to talk about this, I'm not wanting an argument about the rightness or wrongness of atheism itself or belief in God, that's for another thread.

    I'd like to dialogue on the practical and institutional changes from earlier societies that an atheist or predominantly atheist society will create, what will be the mediating norms and values in the abscence of those provided by religion?
    Couple things

    1) Religion and Atheism are not mutually exclusive terms. Many Buddhists and Taoists are atheists. Atheism means you don't believe in a supernatural deity, no more or less. If you are assigning any further meaning to it then thats entirely your doing.

    2) The norms will be based on whatever the culture has produced. American society, for all of its saber-rattling about being Christian in origin, is today a largely secular society and from what I understand European society is much less religious than the society that exists in the states. It seems to me a culture is going to produce its own flavor of norms and values

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    All religions, I believe, could be defined as Fromm defined them as providing an object of devotion and a frame of orientation, ie ethics, norms, codes of conduct. Does atheism have is sort of character?
    The question is flawed because it presupposes that atheism is a philosophy in and of itself and that it attempts to fill some spot that religion claims to full. It's not. There are numerous different philosophies and forms of spirituality independent of god belief.

    That being said... to actually try and answer the question: it already has. Our modern culture has already produced new gods and goddesses that have taken the place of what God used to do a thousand years ago.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    For the sake of argument the atheist society has no religious character or positive religious legacies
    Just so we're clear, your starting your argument on something that doesn't actually exist and can not exist. ALL societies have religious legacies, good and bad. It's because of the legacies of the theistic religions that atheism exists in the first place.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    , the reason I choose to set that precondition on the dialogue is because most of the atheist writers which I am familiar with, Dawkins, Grayling, Dennett, do not believe that religion and religious traditions have any positive legacies and see no benefice steming from them. That is different from for instance Erich Fromm who whilst not believing in God or the afterlife, at least in any sense of a transcendent order or being, repeatedly affirmed a kind of spirituality and religious traditions.
    Why I do feel like you're misrepresenting the above mentioned authors...

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    So, what are the sources of community, shared identity, motivations to service or sacrifice, motivations to abstain, refrain, cope with temptations, does anyone defer gratification?
    None of these things require religion in order to exist or to have value. Empathy is can easily be enough reason to do the first half of this sentence and common sense the latter.


    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Considering welfare pluralism is a central plank of social policy irrespective of political trends but especially in capitalist camps who see informal, market and non-governmental organisations unfunded by taxation as the alternative to tax funded social and health services.
    .....I'm really not seeing what atheism has anything to do with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    Finally, do you think about any of this when you fill out your census information? When it is collected it is used by politicians to make certain decisions and for think tanks to recommend certain courses of action, it is not an enquiry about what way your private conscience moves you or what your existential priorities are, at least not simply, its not simply demographics either.
    Never filled one out.
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
    ― Woodrow Wilson

  8. #18
    Senior Member UniqueMixture's Avatar
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    I think this is more a matter of cohesive identity than finding cohesion through religion/spirituality. That only comes through shared experience. So, imo what will be needed is a way to efficiently transmit the vast variance in human sensory experience perhaps by means of technology.
    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.

  9. #19
    Supreme High Commander Andy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jennifer View Post
    @Andy: can you more specifically define "liberal religion"? Liberal is a term tossed around so much by the conservative elements that it's not clear exactly what you are referring to, and in especially in context of this discussion in the United States, it's the "politically liberal" that often seem to embody the more human and compassionate side of human nature versus the self-branded faithful which tend to depict the more autonomy "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" and "hardline" end of things. So this is all seeming to contradict with the thought undergirding this thread -- where lack of explicit religion is supposedly going to contribute to the fracturing and downfall of society.
    lol, well there are many people who think a lack of religion will destroy society. Lark may infact number amongst them, but he did at least leave the opening post open enough not to mandate that outcome as the conclusion. All he asked is what would hold society together if religion vanished. I tried to answer that rather broad question.

    What do I mean by liberal religion? Liberal is a rather board term, I agree, but that in many ways is the essense of liberalism - it allows for many things. So by liberal religion, I guess I mean one that was few central dictates about what is right and wrong or expected, with the individual being left to make up their own mind. Does that help?
    Don't make whine out of sour grapes.

  10. #20
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lark View Post
    The conclusions I have reached are based upon my knowledge of all the new atheist writers who are a source of inspiration for most atheists generally, Dawkins hasnt just written about belief in God being a delusion or the harm he feels religion has wrought, he has also written about the legitimacy of selfishness and even suggested it is genetically explicable, the only exception being nationalism or tribalism (how surprising, already sounds like another author) and in another book asking What's Your Dangerous Idea? And I think written after the dismissal of an academic associated with the discover of DNA who asserted that there are racially inequality is factual and genetically coded.

    I can understand why those writers reach thos conclusions or why Peter Singer feels that euthenasia, abortion, designer babies are all fine or that human life has the same moral equalivence as animal life, ie terminating human babies is less of an issue than great apes having still births as a result of human encroachments on their environments or being hunted for bush meat.

    I see it as a perfectly logical and rational working out from the first principles of religion being in ever respect erronious and villified. Social darwinism needed Darwinism as a precursor in thought.

    Its something which is not thought about much by many of the athiests I know in person. This hasnt been a stunt or something though, I'm genuinely interested in how people would seek to assail these things if the religious models are abscent because I think that slowly this is happening, I believe that the "God is dead" thesis is correct as a sociological observation rather than a matter of fact, that's significant because as I say I dont believe adjustments or anything like the structural or institutional sources of community, norms etc. exist within secularism and atheism as they have emerged.
    I wonder what percentage of atheists do use Dawkins and Singer as models of inspiration. I certainly do not. I have leanings in the direction of Buddhism as a philosophy which currently has more influence than the two highly vocal atheists you mention. Not all atheists are vocal, and there are plenty who people don't even realize are atheists. I'm not certain of your premise that social darwinism required Darwin as a precursor because Darwin is often misunderstood.
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
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    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

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