Definition of Atheism

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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by hogleg » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:24 pm

Winton wrote:I am almost finished teaching through the Proverbs. It is amazing how many times fools come up and how many ways they can mess up.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sun Oct 12, 2014 2:51 pm

hogleg wrote:
Winton wrote:I am almost finished teaching through the Proverbs. It is amazing how many times fools come up and how many ways they can mess up.
Proverbs 26:11
Oh Lord, how I used to delight to quote that one!
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:05 pm

Rusty wrote:
Onyx wrote:Rusty, I think you overstate the definition of atheism, which is literally, without God. I understand that to mean living without reference to God. The dogmatic assertion that no God exists is a step further.

It's true that atheists generally hold many beliefs. Some may "believe" that the universe came about in a particular way, but others may simply not try to explain it. These beliefs may follow from atheism for some, but atheism itself is not belief. Definitions... I think.

Also, I agree that secular society has many gaps that religion fills. At our family dinner table tonight we talked about the role of thankfulness and forgiveness in mental health. Church-goers think talk about this stuff every week... Or even every time they pray.
The definition has a cultural context and it of course depends upon who is defining it. The impression is that atheism is a deficiency. That fellow lacks God! It seems to me to be biased as definitions go. It doesn't matter what you believe but rather what you don't believe. Atheism doesn't occur naturally with any culture of which I'm aware. It has occurred in opposition to religious or supernatural beliefs in specific cultures. But to think that these folks are just missing the religion or God organ is really underplaying it. It's not an absence of anything but rather a different worldview. Perhaps the problem is that we're discussing it in a Christian forum. I think they see it as a deficiency.

The alternative is fascinating. Perhaps they lack any curiosity and couldn't care less. Or do you think atheists are just willfully disobedient? Perhaps they're just folks that lost their faith and no longer believe? This would certainly fit the Christian concern about it. In which case the folks opposed to faith who advocate a different worldview are what?

Does your definition fit you? You simply are without God?
I have a very hard time understanding that someone lacks God. For me they simply have a different point of view. I would think the pov is first and the conclusion that God is a story is secondary. Hostility to God, as a motivation for atheism, is also interesting and I think there are logical problems with that one. If one criticizes the story that is a little different.

"Rusty, you're a pretty smart guy. When are you going to believe in God?" - Del
This is true. He really did send me a PM that with roughly those words.

How about this? Atheism is not a belief but what replaces the Christian view of the world is a belief because these questions cannot be settled.
My definition is more general. So yes, it does fit me, but does not describe much except to set a contrast with theism. You're right that there is plenty more to be said about social context and what I have reacted "against".

You may not recall, but I joined CPS as a Christian believer. I had been in a narrow sect which was given to slinging dirt at all the other Christian groups. So CPS allowed me to hear from some others outside my little circle. I soon realised that Christians really can't tell you who God is or what is His will without other Christians lining up to contradict that view. When people now ask me why I reject God, I ask, "which one?" As best I can tell, there's no coherent view of God to either believe or reject.

As best as I understand what happened, I didn't decide not to believe in God... rather, any coherent view of God just seemed to evaporate. Personally, I had held fast to the belief that if we ask of God, he won't shaft us.
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
However, contrary to this, my search led me into a cult in which I spent decades barking up a pretty wonderful, awesome, insipiring tree. I'm pretty sure that I understand the analogy, because as a father, I wouldn't dupe my son like that. So if there was any God, He certainly didn't give me the bread I hoped for... I got the scorpion. (Incidentally, I'm pretty well versed in all the techniques of blaming my own lack of faith, lack of patience, asking amiss, missing the true markers... and all the other stuff about God using different experiences to teach, His ways are higher than our ways, we don't see everything...Satan tricking... all that stuff I've been through. But I'm not big on excuses. Bottom line is failure to deliver as promised.)

So in reference to the OP... no, atheism is not:
The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason creating everything; and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self replicating bits which then turned into the world that we see around us today.

For me, atheism is the absence of God.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Thunktank » Sun Oct 12, 2014 6:26 pm

Onyx wrote:
Rusty wrote:
Onyx wrote:Rusty, I think you overstate the definition of atheism, which is literally, without God. I understand that to mean living without reference to God. The dogmatic assertion that no God exists is a step further.

It's true that atheists generally hold many beliefs. Some may "believe" that the universe came about in a particular way, but others may simply not try to explain it. These beliefs may follow from atheism for some, but atheism itself is not belief. Definitions... I think.

Also, I agree that secular society has many gaps that religion fills. At our family dinner table tonight we talked about the role of thankfulness and forgiveness in mental health. Church-goers think talk about this stuff every week... Or even every time they pray.
The definition has a cultural context and it of course depends upon who is defining it. The impression is that atheism is a deficiency. That fellow lacks God! It seems to me to be biased as definitions go. It doesn't matter what you believe but rather what you don't believe. Atheism doesn't occur naturally with any culture of which I'm aware. It has occurred in opposition to religious or supernatural beliefs in specific cultures. But to think that these folks are just missing the religion or God organ is really underplaying it. It's not an absence of anything but rather a different worldview. Perhaps the problem is that we're discussing it in a Christian forum. I think they see it as a deficiency.

The alternative is fascinating. Perhaps they lack any curiosity and couldn't care less. Or do you think atheists are just willfully disobedient? Perhaps they're just folks that lost their faith and no longer believe? This would certainly fit the Christian concern about it. In which case the folks opposed to faith who advocate a different worldview are what?

Does your definition fit you? You simply are without God?
I have a very hard time understanding that someone lacks God. For me they simply have a different point of view. I would think the pov is first and the conclusion that God is a story is secondary. Hostility to God, as a motivation for atheism, is also interesting and I think there are logical problems with that one. If one criticizes the story that is a little different.

"Rusty, you're a pretty smart guy. When are you going to believe in God?" - Del
This is true. He really did send me a PM that with roughly those words.

How about this? Atheism is not a belief but what replaces the Christian view of the world is a belief because these questions cannot be settled.
My definition is more general. So yes, it does fit me, but does not describe much except to set a contrast with theism. You're right that there is plenty more to be said about social context and what I have reacted "against".

You may not recall, but I joined CPS as a Christian believer. I had been in a narrow sect which was given to slinging dirt at all the other Christian groups. So CPS allowed me to hear from some others outside my little circle. I soon realised that Christians really can't tell you who God is or what is His will without other Christians lining up to contradict that view. When people now ask me why I reject God, I ask, "which one?" As best I can tell, there's no coherent view of God to either believe or reject.

As best as I understand what happened, I didn't decide not to believe in God... rather, any coherent view of God just seemed to evaporate. Personally, I had held fast to the belief that if we ask of God, he won't shaft us.
And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
However, contrary to this, my search led me into a cult in which I spent decades barking up a pretty wonderful, awesome, insipiring tree. I'm pretty sure that I understand the analogy, because as a father, I wouldn't dupe my son like that. So if there was any God, He certainly didn't give me the bread I hoped for... I got the scorpion. (Incidentally, I'm pretty well versed in all the techniques of blaming my own lack of faith, lack of patience, asking amiss, missing the true markers... and all the other stuff about God using different experiences to teach, His ways are higher than our ways, we don't see everything...Satan tricking... all that stuff I've been through. But I'm not big on excuses. Bottom line is failure to deliver as promised.)

So in reference to the OP... no, atheism is not:
The belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason creating everything; and then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason whatsoever into self replicating bits which then turned into the world that we see around us today.

For me, atheism is the absence of God.
What sort of God is absent?

Just as atheism is hard to define, so has been God. I think atheism is often a reaction against theism, the theism an atheist is most familiar with. Which for westerners is likely a monotheistic God that is omniscience and omnipresent who knows your first and last name as well as that of your mother.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:22 pm

Thunktank wrote: What sort of God is absent?

Just as atheism is hard to define, so has been God. I think atheism is often a reaction against theism, the theism an atheist is most familiar with. Which for westerners is likely a monotheistic God that is omniscience and omnipresent who knows your first and last name as well as that of your mother.
It seems to me that it's not for the atheist to say what's not there. But for starters, I'd say that a God who makes himself clear is not there.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Thunktank » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:27 pm

Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote: What sort of God is absent?

Just as atheism is hard to define, so has been God. I think atheism is often a reaction against theism, the theism an atheist is most familiar with. Which for westerners is likely a monotheistic God that is omniscience and omnipresent who knows your first and last name as well as that of your mother.
It seems to me that it's not for the atheist to say what's not there. But for starters, I'd say that a God who makes himself clear is not there.
So basically, you see no evidence for a God who makes itself clear. 8)

Does this mean that you believe another sort of god could possibly exist?
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:40 pm

Thunktank wrote:
Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote: What sort of God is absent?

Just as atheism is hard to define, so has been God. I think atheism is often a reaction against theism, the theism an atheist is most familiar with. Which for westerners is likely a monotheistic God that is omniscience and omnipresent who knows your first and last name as well as that of your mother.
It seems to me that it's not for the atheist to say what's not there. But for starters, I'd say that a God who makes himself clear is not there.
So basically, you see no evidence for a God who makes itself clear. 8)

Does this mean that you believe another sort of god could possibly exist?
Sure. But if He honestly expects anything akin to worship, obedience or loyalty, then He's gonna need to do a better job on the clarity front.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Thunktank » Sun Oct 12, 2014 7:54 pm

Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote: What sort of God is absent?

Just as atheism is hard to define, so has been God. I think atheism is often a reaction against theism, the theism an atheist is most familiar with. Which for westerners is likely a monotheistic God that is omniscience and omnipresent who knows your first and last name as well as that of your mother.
It seems to me that it's not for the atheist to say what's not there. But for starters, I'd say that a God who makes himself clear is not there.
So basically, you see no evidence for a God who makes itself clear. 8)

Does this mean that you believe another sort of god could possibly exist?
Sure. But if He honestly expects anything akin to worship, obedience or loyalty, then He's gonna need to do a better job on the clarity front.
Gotcha. So the fact that you're here isn't clear enough for you? The fact that the universe is here isn't clear enough? You see, for the theist, these first causes for our very existence begs worship. So finding God or God finding us is of utmost importance because if we are aware of ourselves then God must be aware of us. What do you say to that?
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Skip » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:00 pm

Wow. Should've stumbled across this thread earlier.

But I'm not going interrupt an obviously sparkling conversation. Carry on...
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:12 pm

Thunktank wrote:
Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote: What sort of God is absent?

Just as atheism is hard to define, so has been God. I think atheism is often a reaction against theism, the theism an atheist is most familiar with. Which for westerners is likely a monotheistic God that is omniscience and omnipresent who knows your first and last name as well as that of your mother.
It seems to me that it's not for the atheist to say what's not there. But for starters, I'd say that a God who makes himself clear is not there.
So basically, you see no evidence for a God who makes itself clear. 8)

Does this mean that you believe another sort of god could possibly exist?
Sure. But if He honestly expects anything akin to worship, obedience or loyalty, then He's gonna need to do a better job on the clarity front.
Gotcha. So the fact that you're here isn't clear enough for you? The fact that the universe is here isn't clear enough? You see, for the theist, these first causes for our very existence begs worship. So finding God or God finding us is of utmost importance because if we are aware of ourselves then God must be aware of us. What do you say to that?
It's unclear. :lol:

The fact we are here is amazing. But it doesn't preference any one creation story above another. (Although, if any creation story actually got the chronology right, that might be a clue.) The whole "first cause" thing is nonsense. Why is the first cause exempt from needing a first cause? If something (like God) can be exempt from needing a first cause, then why can't the universe be exempt from needing a first cause? It saves a step.

I could worship the universe, but that seems silly since the universe shows no indication that it gives a hoot about me. It would just as happily smash my planet with an asteroid or feed me ebola.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by CaptainBlack » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:23 pm

I don't have enough faith to be an atheist

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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:28 pm

CaptainBlack wrote:I don't have enough faith to be an atheist
Oh Lord.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Thunktank » Sun Oct 12, 2014 9:42 pm

Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote: What sort of God is absent?

Just as atheism is hard to define, so has been God. I think atheism is often a reaction against theism, the theism an atheist is most familiar with. Which for westerners is likely a monotheistic God that is omniscience and omnipresent who knows your first and last name as well as that of your mother.
It seems to me that it's not for the atheist to say what's not there. But for starters, I'd say that a God who makes himself clear is not there.
So basically, you see no evidence for a God who makes itself clear. 8)

Does this mean that you believe another sort of god could possibly exist?
Sure. But if He honestly expects anything akin to worship, obedience or loyalty, then He's gonna need to do a better job on the clarity front.
Gotcha. So the fact that you're here isn't clear enough for you? The fact that the universe is here isn't clear enough? You see, for the theist, these first causes for our very existence begs worship. So finding God or God finding us is of utmost importance because if we are aware of ourselves then God must be aware of us. What do you say to that?
It's unclear. :lol:

The fact we are here is amazing. But it doesn't preference any one creation story above another. (Although, if any creation story actually got the chronology right, that might be a clue.) The whole "first cause" thing is nonsense. Why is the first cause exempt from needing a first cause? If something (like God) can be exempt from needing a first cause, then why can't the universe be exempt from needing a first cause? It saves a step.
Because God is as good an answer as any other and possibly better. What's an alternative answer? Sure, cosmologists might like to create models of possible explanations but they're probably rather unconvincing to nearly everyone including the bloke who made the model. So, we're left with this hole of mystery to be filled by some unknown number with unknown value or God with whom we can define with whatever values we think we know he or she has. Which is where I believe the real debate is. It's easier to pick apart the likelihood of a particular belief about God than to debate the existence of a God at all.
I could worship the universe, but that seems silly since the universe shows no indication that it gives a hoot about me. It would just as happily smash my planet with an asteroid or feed me ebola.
Maybe some, like pantheists, worship the universe for their benefit and not the universe's benefit. Maybe they understand the human condition that inclines us to be religious. That through it, we come to a greater awe and understanding of ourselves.

I do believe a certain amount of faith is required for atheists to be atheists too.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Onyx » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:00 pm

Thunktank wrote:
I do believe a certain amount of faith is required for atheists to be atheists too.
Of course it totally depends on what you mean by faith. If you mean faith in the sense of "trust", then I suppose, yes, we need to trust ourselves, our own assessment and view of things rather than our priest's. Some might call that a sort of faith. I don't.

But I think of faith as "belief". When you consider "belief" itself to be a thing of value, a virtue, a basis for living and purpose, then I just don't accept that atheism requires that. I "trust" the best stuff I have. Most of it is pretty far from perfect. I have my own judgement and experience (plus a healthy awareness of some of my own cognitive biases). I trust proven experts as appropriate (like when I take my car to be serviced or my colon to be checked). I figure the smartest cosmologists might be right some of the time. That is not "faith" as a deliberate virtue of itself to be fostered, wished for, and perhaps rewarded. Rather, it is "trust" as a reasonable response to the best evidence I have been able to process.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Rusty » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:14 pm

Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
I do believe a certain amount of faith is required for atheists to be atheists too.
Of course it totally depends on what you mean by faith. If you mean faith in the sense of "trust", then I suppose, yes, we need to trust ourselves, our own assessment and view of things rather than our priest's. Some might call that a sort of faith. I don't.

But I think of faith as "belief". When you consider "belief" itself to be a thing of value, a virtue, a basis for living and purpose, then I just don't accept that atheism requires that. I "trust" the best stuff I have. Most of it is pretty far from perfect. I have my own judgement and experience (plus a healthy awareness of some of my own cognitive biases). I trust proven experts as appropriate (like when I take my car to be serviced or my colon to be checked). I figure the smartest cosmologists might be right some of the time. That is not "faith" as a deliberate virtue of itself to be fostered, wished for, and perhaps rewarded. Rather, it is "trust" as a reasonable response to the best evidence I have been able to process.
Yes, And there are some keywords in your reply that distinguish 'belief', 'faith', and fear from their religious connotations.

Trust. our own assessments, our own judgment, our experience, evidence, etc. This is a very different worldview from the religious.
Fundamentally, folks that reply this way believe we have each other but otherwise we are independent of any supernatural influence or deity. Whether they exist or not is unknown but we behave as if they're not a reliable entity. So they are not consulted nor do we owe them anything.
Last edited by Rusty on Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Thunktank » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:22 pm

Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
I do believe a certain amount of faith is required for atheists to be atheists too.
Of course it totally depends on what you mean by faith. If you mean faith in the sense of "trust", then I suppose, yes, we need to trust ourselves, our own assessment and view of things rather than our priest's. Some might call that a sort of faith. I don't.

But I think of faith as "belief". When you consider "belief" itself to be a thing of value, a virtue, a basis for living and purpose, then I just don't accept that atheism requires that. I "trust" the best stuff I have. Most of it is pretty far from perfect. I have my own judgement and experience (plus a healthy awareness of some of my own cognitive biases). I trust proven experts as appropriate (like when I take my car to be serviced or my colon to be checked). I figure the smartest cosmologists might be right some of the time. That is not "faith" as a deliberate virtue of itself to be fostered, wished for, and perhaps rewarded. Rather, it is "trust" as a reasonable response to the best evidence I have been able to process.
Ok, good. I understand what you are saying and I hope the captain does too. Ultimately though, a choice is made to trust something then begin acting with it. Or at least attempting to. Atheism itself may or may not depend upon action, but I think practically speaking, atheists often do supplement their atheism with something else. In the case of New Atheists this often means an evangelical like fervor to win converts to their hodgepodge of various values and judgements. It's no wonder to me that many believers think atheism is a religious faith of it's own!
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Thunktank » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:38 pm

Rusty wrote:
Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
I do believe a certain amount of faith is required for atheists to be atheists too.
Of course it totally depends on what you mean by faith. If you mean faith in the sense of "trust", then I suppose, yes, we need to trust ourselves, our own assessment and view of things rather than our priest's. Some might call that a sort of faith. I don't.

But I think of faith as "belief". When you consider "belief" itself to be a thing of value, a virtue, a basis for living and purpose, then I just don't accept that atheism requires that. I "trust" the best stuff I have. Most of it is pretty far from perfect. I have my own judgement and experience (plus a healthy awareness of some of my own cognitive biases). I trust proven experts as appropriate (like when I take my car to be serviced or my colon to be checked). I figure the smartest cosmologists might be right some of the time. That is not "faith" as a deliberate virtue of itself to be fostered, wished for, and perhaps rewarded. Rather, it is "trust" as a reasonable response to the best evidence I have been able to process.
Yes, And there are some keywords in your reply that distinguish 'belief', 'faith', and fear from their religious connotations.

Trust. our own assessments, our own judgment, our experience, evidence, etc. This is a very different worldview from the religious.
Fundamentally, folks that reply this way believe we have each other but otherwise we are independent of any supernatural influence or deity. Whether they exist or not is unknown but we behave as if they're not a reliable entity. So they are not consulted nor do we owe them anything.
It can't be under estimated how much many religious have in trusting their own experience though. When a person experiences God, it's very "real" to that person. Entire philosophies and theologies support those experiences that are had. So when a religious person says it takes faith to be an atheist. His meaning may not be as alien to atheist as they may think. Only the trust in types of experience and the type of evidence differs.
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by Rusty » Sun Oct 12, 2014 10:41 pm

Thunktank wrote:
Onyx wrote:
Thunktank wrote:
I do believe a certain amount of faith is required for atheists to be atheists too.
Of course it totally depends on what you mean by faith. If you mean faith in the sense of "trust", then I suppose, yes, we need to trust ourselves, our own assessment and view of things rather than our priest's. Some might call that a sort of faith. I don't.

But I think of faith as "belief". When you consider "belief" itself to be a thing of value, a virtue, a basis for living and purpose, then I just don't accept that atheism requires that. I "trust" the best stuff I have. Most of it is pretty far from perfect. I have my own judgement and experience (plus a healthy awareness of some of my own cognitive biases). I trust proven experts as appropriate (like when I take my car to be serviced or my colon to be checked). I figure the smartest cosmologists might be right some of the time. That is not "faith" as a deliberate virtue of itself to be fostered, wished for, and perhaps rewarded. Rather, it is "trust" as a reasonable response to the best evidence I have been able to process.
Ok, good. I understand what you are saying and I hope the captain does too. Ultimately though, a choice is made to trust something then begin acting with it. Or at least attempting to. Atheism itself may or may not depend upon action, but I think practically speaking, atheists often do supplement their atheism with something else. In the case of New Atheists this often means an evangelical like fervor to win converts to their hodgepodge of various values and judgements. It's no wonder to me that many believers think atheism is a religious faith of it's own!
I think it's a typically tribal thing to want others to think as we do and even be willing to compel them to think like us. It's not a very good strategy always. Sometimes people who have a different pov have interesting advice and their solutions are different than ours. We all face decisions and choices with a condition of imperfect knowledge. Having someone brow-beat us about the fundamentals of our worldview is entirely peripheral to choices and decisions. The way we decide is contingent on our worldview and the worldview must change first before any brow-beating has any influence on our decisions. And I think going after other people's worldview is really presumptuous and filled with unspecified problems for anyone who is willing to turf their worldview so easily. OTOH maybe folks that have changed their worldview need to explore it and this is done in discussion and even argument.
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You're out of the night
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UncleBob
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by UncleBob » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:01 am

"One man's theology is another man's belly laugh." - Robert A. Heinlein

"Many of the points here, taken to their logical conclusions, don't hold up to logic; they're simply Godded-up ways of saying "I don't like that." - Skip

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AFRS
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Re: Definition of Atheism

Post by AFRS » Thu Dec 01, 2016 11:51 am

Onyx wrote:
CaptainBlack wrote:I don't have enough faith to be an atheist
Oh Lord.
I don't think CB is Lord but if that works for you...

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