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When you break it down: is atheism unappealing?

rousseau

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I'm going to preface this thread with the fact that these comments aren't an attack on atheism. Whenever something looking like a critique of atheism is presented at this forum, we seem to get a few defensive responses. So to be clear this thread isn't intended to promote religiosity by any means. It's just a quick thought experiment for your consideration.

A few months ago I was reading a title called The Sociobiological Imagination which discussed, in part, why the field of Sociology was hesitant to integrate hard evolutionary theory into it's own theories. I found the answer interesting, and I think it is very relevant to why religiosity survives in our world:

The argument went something like this:

Acceptance of evolutionary theory
  • The world and your life is intrinsically meaningless other than what you assign to it
  • Anything negative that happens to you is primarily random and indifferent
  • Your well-being is entirely up to you, and if you fail it's because you failed / aren't skilled enough
  • When you die you will cease to exist. When your friends die they will cease to exist
Belief in God
  • Everything you see and feel was designed / has purpose
  • Anything negative that happens to you happened for a reason and can be justified
  • Your well-being is in someone else's hands, and failure is ok
  • You'll never lose your life or friends and family
Although a little more nuanced, that was it in a nutshell. Between the two worldviews it's obvious which one would appeal to more people. So as Atheists, we're all obviously invested in the lack of God because it appeals to us, but when you break the problem down to it's basic elements we're trying to sell the religious a bit of a shithole. Their religion shields them from what is a cruel and indifferent world, they do not want to accept materialism because it isn't much of a cakewalk.
 

Elixir

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There IS a flipside, at least IME.
If there is a God, evolution is that God's greatest creation. The sheer power and elegance of the process leaves me wonderstruck, even as its simplicity humbles me.
It was nice being in bed this morning. I wanted to stay there with the cat purring on my legs, but the horse needed to be fed. I was glad I got up when I went to see him; the greeting was warm and pleasant. Amazing how such diverse species can exist in physical and emotional symbiosis. My apologies to someone else's God, if He feels left out. But tough shit.
 

rousseau

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There IS a flipside, at least IME.
If there is a God, evolution is that God's greatest creation. The sheer power and elegance of the process leaves me wonderstruck, even as its simplicity humbles me.
It was nice being in bed this morning. I wanted to stay there with the cat purring on my legs, but the horse needed to be fed. I was glad I got up when I went to see him; the greeting was warm and pleasant. Amazing how such diverse species can exist in physical and emotional symbiosis. My apologies to someone else's God, if He feels left out. But tough shit.

Life is a dream for the wise, a game for the fool, a comedy for the rich, a tragedy for the poor.


This line felt relevant.

I absolutely love the materialist worldview, but also expect a long, secure, and prosperous life.
 

steve_bank

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.
 

bilby

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Why does it matter what's appealing? What's important, if your goal is to improve your life and those of your family and friends, is to not be wildly wrong about how to achieve your goal.

If you are wildly wrong, then you could waste your one and only life preparing for an afterlife that doesn't exist. That would be a total disaster.

It would be really lovely if someone were looking out for me, helping me through the bad times and making sure that those bad times were few and far between. But wishing won't make it so.

Atheists might well see that the world sucks, and that could be depressing. But the first step to a solution is to admit that there's a problem.

Simply saying "The world doesn't suck, it's all a oerfect and benevolent plan, and I just haven't the ability to understand how useful and important this suckiness is to the bigger picture" might make you feel a teeny bit less awful, but it not only fixes nothing, it actively entrenches whatever was making life suck to begin with, because it discourages any attempt to change anything.
 

rousseau

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Why does it matter what's appealing? What's important, if your goal is to improve your life and those of your family and friends, is to not be wildly wrong about how to achieve your goal.

If you are wildly wrong, then you could waste your one and only life preparing for an afterlife that doesn't exist. That would be a total disaster.

It would be really lovely if someone were looking out for me, helping me through the bad times and making sure that those bad times were few and far between. But wishing won't make it so.

Atheists might well see that the world sucks, and that could be depressing. But the first step to a solution is to admit that there's a problem.

Simply saying "The world doesn't suck, it's all a oerfect and benevolent plan, and I just haven't the ability to understand how useful and important this suckiness is to the bigger picture" might make you feel a teeny bit less awful, but it not only fixes nothing, it actively entrenches whatever was making life suck to begin with, because it discourages any attempt to change anything.

If your goal is to improve your life, do you think faith might sometimes provide the resilience and optimism in the face of adversity, so one can persevere in tackling their real problems?
 

bilby

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Why does it matter what's appealing? What's important, if your goal is to improve your life and those of your family and friends, is to not be wildly wrong about how to achieve your goal.

If you are wildly wrong, then you could waste your one and only life preparing for an afterlife that doesn't exist. That would be a total disaster.

It would be really lovely if someone were looking out for me, helping me through the bad times and making sure that those bad times were few and far between. But wishing won't make it so.

Atheists might well see that the world sucks, and that could be depressing. But the first step to a solution is to admit that there's a problem.

Simply saying "The world doesn't suck, it's all a oerfect and benevolent plan, and I just haven't the ability to understand how useful and important this suckiness is to the bigger picture" might make you feel a teeny bit less awful, but it not only fixes nothing, it actively entrenches whatever was making life suck to begin with, because it discourages any attempt to change anything.

If your goal is to improve your life, do you think faith might sometimes provide the resilience and optimism in the face of adversity, so one can persevere in tackling their real problems?
Me?

No.

But that shouldn't surprise anyone.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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If your goal is to improve your life, do you think faith might sometimes provide the resilience and optimism in the face of adversity, so one can persevere in tackling their real problems?
Absolutely. I call that pretending, suspending disbelief or belief, whichever fits. It takes many forms but pretending is escapism and we know it can have seriously great benefits. Watch a movie where the monster bad guys get theirs in the end. It's a typical movie plot, create a monster then slay the monster, sometimes violently and brutally and with great satisfaction. But it's just a movie.

Religion is escapism for many people. Maybe they know it and maybe they don't.
 

rousseau

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
 

skepticalbip

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
That is odd. It seems to assume that atheism is some sort of organized belief system like Christianity or Hinduism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. Like my lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster, the lack of belief does not guide my reasoning but is one result of reasoning.
 

rousseau

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
That is odd. It seems to assume that atheism is some sort of organized belief system like Christianity or Hinduism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. Like my lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster, the lack of belief does not guide my reasoning but is one result of reasoning.

Not an organized belief system, but it typically does come with a cascade of corollaries.
 

atrib

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
Atheism is a lack of belief in god claims. It is statement of fact about our personal reality. It is not meant to be appealing or bring comfort or serve as a guide to life. Any more than gravity or the germ theory of disease or the water heater in your home is meant to do any of those things. It is inappropriate to attribute any meaning or characteristics to atheism other than a statement of skepticism regarding certain claims.

If you want to find meaning, go read a book, take a class on a subject you would like to learn more about, listen to music, make friends and have discussions with them. Because atheism is not a replacement for any of those things.
 

skepticalbip

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
That is odd. It seems to assume that atheism is some sort of organized belief system like Christianity or Hinduism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. Like my lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster, the lack of belief does not guide my reasoning but is one result of reasoning.

Not an organized belief system, but it typically does come with a cascade of corollaries.
Really? What corollaries? I can think of none other than an absence of belief in claims of divine actions. It could be correctly said that not believing in miracles would lead one to different conclusions than someone who relied on miracles to explain reality... but that is very different than 'corollaries'.
 

atrib

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Between the two worldviews it's obvious which one would appeal to more people. So as Atheists, we're all obviously invested in the lack of God because it appeals to us,
I'm an atheist because I see no good reason to believe that gods exist. Atheism does not appeal to me, any more than my lack of belief in the tooth fairy appeals to me. I am not invested in my skepticism, it is simply how I think. If convincing evidence were provided to demonstrate that gods exist, I would likely change my mind.


but when you break the problem down to it's basic elements we're trying to sell the religious a bit of a shithole. Their religion shields them from what is a cruel and indifferent world, they do not want to accept materialism because it isn't much of a cakewalk.
I prefer to know the truth. Whether that truth makes me feel good or not. The world can be cruel and indifferent if you see it that way. I don't. I see the world as full of wonder, and I am grateful that I have the opportunity to live in it and experience it and learn more about it.
 

rousseau

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
Atheism is a lack of belief in god claims. It is statement of fact about our personal reality. It is not meant to be appealing or bring comfort or serve as a guide to life. Any more than gravity or the germ theory of disease or the water heater in your home is meant to do any of those things. It is inappropriate to attribute any meaning or characteristics to atheism other than a statement of skepticism regarding certain claims.

If you want to find meaning, go read a book, take a class on a subject you would like to learn more about, listen to music, make friends and have discussions with them. Because atheism is not a replacement for any of those things.

My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
That is odd. It seems to assume that atheism is some sort of organized belief system like Christianity or Hinduism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. Like my lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster, the lack of belief does not guide my reasoning but is one result of reasoning.

Not an organized belief system, but it typically does come with a cascade of corollaries.
Really? What corollaries? I can think of none other than an absence of belief in claims of divine actions. It could be correctly said that not believing in miracles would lead one to different conclusions than someone who relied on miracles to explain reality... but that is very different than 'corollaries'.

From a religious perspective, you can't dissociate atheism from materialism and science, which also aren't an ontology in of themselves, but represent a very different way of viewing the world. I used the word 'atheism' in the thread title, but perhaps I should have used the word 'materialism'. To the religious, it's a package deal that many don't want to accept.

You can call these things neutral 'facts', but to many people they clearly have very real connotations and implications.
 

Jarhyn

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
That is odd. It seems to assume that atheism is some sort of organized belief system like Christianity or Hinduism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. Like my lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster, the lack of belief does not guide my reasoning but is one result of reasoning.

Not an organized belief system, but it typically does come with a cascade of corollaries.
Really? What corollaries? I can think of none other than an absence of belief in claims of divine actions. It could be correctly said that not believing in miracles would lead one to different conclusions than someone who relied on miracles to explain reality... but that is very different than 'corollaries'.

From a religious perspective, you can't dissociate atheism from materialism and science, which also aren't an ontology in of themselves, but represent a very different way of viewing the world. I used the word 'atheism' in the thread title, but perhaps I should have used the word 'materialism'. To the religious, it's a package deal that many don't want to accept.

You can call these things neutral 'facts', but to many people they clearly have very real connotations and implications.
Well, one of my hopes in taking a slightly more critical-rather-than-skeptical materialist view of these discussions is to see if there are materialist terms that say the same things as religious terms, but allow the materialist to tease out the conflations and the supernatural claims and to treat the real mechanisms and processes being recognized like mature, rational, and oftentimes cleverly engineering, adults.

As much as I talk about what would be allowed, likely, or unimportant in the simulation case I very much do my best to also see material mechanisms behind the "supernatural" because I find the simulation case implausible in the absence of solid evidence.

Even so, we can recognize that we will be survived of our memories by others. In their stories and minds, we will be in some heaven or hell, their empathetic version of us.

This will in turn influence how our stories are told (or are forgotten) by those who survive us, and whether empathy towards our lives creates in others an empathetic reproduction of some part of ourselves in them, but either as a villain to oppose, or as some thing to emulate unto replication, or with any other useful intent.

It pays in fact to see replication and reproduction as more than a simple act of biological division: the described process can happen across widely disparate people. I do not expect that this act of empathetic replication must even terminate across boundaries of species or even boundaries of whole life processes. Rather, I expect empathetic reproduction is entirely possible by Silicon based minds of carbon chemistries, and visa versa.

To lack empathy is then to shut oneself off from this process with relation to those one lacks empathy for. It is to deny not just community but immortality of thought forms through empathetic reproduction.

Even so, some of that empathy places the learned thought-form in a very confined place where it gets no agency. Regardless of what you want to call it, the thought of it is rather hell-like.

So, there's also that.

So there are definitely reasons, if only for empathy towards the memory of you in others, and the effects those memories have and the elements of your personality they will retain, that you live a decent life: so that people will want to be like you, rather than use you as an example of who not to be like or of behavior they only learned the model of which as an idea to defeat.

This is, to me, a suitable reason to not be a bastard even if my immediate experience merely ends at my death.

Even so, it also stands out as a reason to tell a story, write a book, and perhaps allow some of my thought forms to be reborn not as a villain but as a person to emulate.

But moreover, regardless of how you judge the above, it is apparent to me that this is not exactly how the religious understand the concepts of afterlife. I would rather expect some dim or perhaps clear but later or even immediately corrupted understanding of that to have metamorphosed into the "supernatural" religious concepts that are in the common understanding, a truth viewed only through a dim and clouded lens.

The problem here is that when you can convince people that heaven and the afterlife isn't a metaphorical understanding for the memories and empathetic reproductions of your thought-forms among the living but a place some material piece of you detaches from your body, and transitions to through some manner of spatial transit or a host universe reproduction in perfect form then, you can convince people to do some crazy shit like sacrifice the whole planet to a doomsday cult's desire for an apocalypse.

I would much rather use some "spiritual" language, but elucidate the material explanation in the margins, footnotes, or even the fore-matter.
 

abaddon

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perhaps I should have used the word 'materialism'
Or naturalism maybe? Some naturalists have embraced "spirituality" in the sense of making a point of reveling in nature's wonder. They don't treat the human response to "the facts" as a side-note that gets mentioned in passing on rare occasion, like you're likely to see in the context of atheists telling about science.

If either materialism or naturalism are a hard sell, maybe it's the focus on how it's not religion. IOW, in a context like the one here, there'll be an emphasis on what's NOT there in nature. So the effect of this repeated emphasis makes it look like nature's a lot of lack.

(Or all the science lectures make nature, and atheists, seem boring.)
 
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skepticalbip

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
Atheism is a lack of belief in god claims. It is statement of fact about our personal reality. It is not meant to be appealing or bring comfort or serve as a guide to life. Any more than gravity or the germ theory of disease or the water heater in your home is meant to do any of those things. It is inappropriate to attribute any meaning or characteristics to atheism other than a statement of skepticism regarding certain claims.

If you want to find meaning, go read a book, take a class on a subject you would like to learn more about, listen to music, make friends and have discussions with them. Because atheism is not a replacement for any of those things.

My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
That is odd. It seems to assume that atheism is some sort of organized belief system like Christianity or Hinduism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. Like my lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster, the lack of belief does not guide my reasoning but is one result of reasoning.

Not an organized belief system, but it typically does come with a cascade of corollaries.
Really? What corollaries? I can think of none other than an absence of belief in claims of divine actions. It could be correctly said that not believing in miracles would lead one to different conclusions than someone who relied on miracles to explain reality... but that is very different than 'corollaries'.

From a religious perspective, you can't dissociate atheism from materialism and science, which also aren't an ontology in of themselves, but represent a very different way of viewing the world. I used the word 'atheism' in the thread title, but perhaps I should have used the word 'materialism'. To the religious, it's a package deal that many don't want to accept.

You can call these things neutral 'facts', but to many people they clearly have very real connotations and implications.
Religious peoples misconceptions of what atheism is, is a very different discussion than what atheists actually are.
 

rousseau

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perhaps I should have used the word 'materialism'
Or naturalism maybe? Some naturalists have embraced "spirituality" in the sense of making a point of reveling in nature's wonder. They don't treat the human response to "the facts" as a side-note that gets mentioned in passing on rare occasion, like you're likely to see in the context of atheists telling about science.

If either materialism or naturalism are a hard sell, maybe it's the focus on how it's not religion. IOW, in a context like the one here, there'll be an emphasis on what's NOT there in nature. So the effect of this repeated emphasis makes it look like nature's a lot of lack.

(Or all the science lectures make nature, and atheists, seem boring.)

I've half-seriously thought about writing a book on naturalistic spirituality, but then I'd end up wasting a few years of my life, and nobody would read it.

Maybe the issue is that charismatic spiritual leaders are usually nuts.
 

Jarhyn

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Is religion appealing? Is atheism unappealing? Seems to me that the answer depends almost entirely on who you ask, and when.
I'll say as much that I was disappointed that my learned concepts of god, ethics, morality, and afterlife were factually incorrect, and to learn this at the end of my teen years, detached as it were at the very entry into ostensible "adulthood".

It was made worse by the fact that while I had discovered I was wrong about it, that there were elements of what I had learned that would reprise in different forms in my matured worldview.

I didn't like where I had been, though. I was just there because I liked standing on that mess of confused religious bullshit even less, once I saw it as such.

As it is, I don't strictly know whether people hear my materialist understandings of commonly claimed "supernatural" phenomena and hear anything beyond the religious understandings they already had owing to confirmation bias. Or if they do, those who do are rare..

Worse, for others, often it is heard as a complete falsification rather than materialist mutation of spiritual terms.

and of course, materialism is boring and dry unless you put just the right spin on it: spiritualism has had millions of years to evolve as a presentation of nature and materialism has barely had a second in comparison to all that to get it's sales pitch nailed.
 

Hermit

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The chief attraction of religion, at least its main stream Abrahamic varieties, is the prospect of life after death. Atheism precludes that possibility.
 

rousseau

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
Atheism is a lack of belief in god claims. It is statement of fact about our personal reality. It is not meant to be appealing or bring comfort or serve as a guide to life. Any more than gravity or the germ theory of disease or the water heater in your home is meant to do any of those things. It is inappropriate to attribute any meaning or characteristics to atheism other than a statement of skepticism regarding certain claims.

If you want to find meaning, go read a book, take a class on a subject you would like to learn more about, listen to music, make friends and have discussions with them. Because atheism is not a replacement for any of those things.

My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
That is odd. It seems to assume that atheism is some sort of organized belief system like Christianity or Hinduism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. Like my lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster, the lack of belief does not guide my reasoning but is one result of reasoning.

Not an organized belief system, but it typically does come with a cascade of corollaries.
Really? What corollaries? I can think of none other than an absence of belief in claims of divine actions. It could be correctly said that not believing in miracles would lead one to different conclusions than someone who relied on miracles to explain reality... but that is very different than 'corollaries'.

From a religious perspective, you can't dissociate atheism from materialism and science, which also aren't an ontology in of themselves, but represent a very different way of viewing the world. I used the word 'atheism' in the thread title, but perhaps I should have used the word 'materialism'. To the religious, it's a package deal that many don't want to accept.

You can call these things neutral 'facts', but to many people they clearly have very real connotations and implications.
Religious peoples misconceptions of what atheism is, is a very different discussion than what atheists actually are.

So you don't think that atheism has a somewhat tight coupling with science and materialism? It's just a religious misconception?
 

skepticalbip

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
That is odd. It seems to assume that atheism is some sort of organized belief system like Christianity or Hinduism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. Like my lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster, the lack of belief does not guide my reasoning but is one result of reasoning.

Not an organized belief system, but it typically does come with a cascade of corollaries.
Really? What corollaries? I can think of none other than an absence of belief in claims of divine actions. It could be correctly said that not believing in miracles would lead one to different conclusions than someone who relied on miracles to explain reality... but that is very different than 'corollaries'.

From a religious perspective, you can't dissociate atheism from materialism and science, which also aren't an ontology in of themselves, but represent a very different way of viewing the world. I used the word 'atheism' in the thread title, but perhaps I should have used the word 'materialism'. To the religious, it's a package deal that many don't want to accept.

You can call these things neutral 'facts', but to many people they clearly have very real connotations and implications.
Religious peoples misconceptions of what atheism is, is a very different discussion than what atheists actually are.

So you don't think that atheism has a somewhat tight coupling with science and materialism? It's just a religious misconception?
There are atheists with all sort of ways of thinking about reality. So sure there are some that are into science, some into materialism, some into yoga, etc. (just as there are some religious people that are into these things). There are even atheists who are into mysticism or atheists that don't really try to understand the nature of reality and just accept that that it is. Not believing there are gods has nothing to do with someone's view of reality other than that a god doesn't control it.

Your assumption that atheists are materialists is similar to assuming that all religious people accept the Dahlia Lama as their religious leader... Certainly there are some that do but that assumption would show a serious misunderstanding of what religious people, in general, believe.

About the only thing that can be said about atheists in general is that they don't believe in gods. After that, an assertion about their mindset would have to be about a specific atheist.
 
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atrib

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The chief attraction of religion, at least its main stream Abrahamic varieties, is the prospect of life after death. Atheism precludes that possibility.
Not necessarily. One can still believe in some form of an afterlife that is not related to any gods.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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The chief attraction of religion, at least its main stream Abrahamic varieties, is the prospect of life after death. Atheism precludes that possibility.
Not necessarily. One can still believe in some form of an afterlife that is not related to any gods.
This is quite true. Frankly I am smitten by the fact that every bit of me is eternal, you might as well say immortal. I may go to pieces but I'll never go away.
 

abaddon

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The argument went something like this:

Acceptance of evolutionary theory
[*]The world and your life is intrinsically meaningless other than what you assign to it
Ironically when I read books to find meaning is exactly when I feel the most meaningless. When I stop abstracting about it like that, then I find intrinsic meaning is "just there" when I put the books aside and engage the world with focus. It's a feeling not a formula, so it's not something you "assign" to anything as if "it" is something you can make happen or share in words with others.

To me, a "sense of meaningfulness in life" is simply the experience of not lacking it. It's there, unbidden, in attentive experience so it's "intrinsic", not contrived.

[*]Anything negative that happens to you is primarily random and indifferent
That's a vast improvement over "it's your fault that your leg got cut off in the accident. That happened because God thinks you're an asshole".

[*]Your well-being is entirely up to you, and if you fail it's because you failed / aren't skilled enough
Hm. That sounds more like a political ideology than a consequence of evolutionary thought.

It completely leaves out the inter-relational nature of human cultures and life on earth. Evolution as a "dog eat dog" worldview is antiquated stuff. That it shows we're kindred with the rest of life is a more apt description of what it means for humanity.

[*]When you die you will cease to exist. When your friends die they will cease to exist
If one identifies less with the "me" and more with the ecological cycle, death's less an 'affront' against their person and more a feature of the biospheric process.

Thomas Clark at naturalism.org wrote a deeply insightful essay. It's an elaboration of Epicurus's "where I am death is not, where death is I am not". The gist is you cannot experience death, so the fear of personal death (as "non-existence") is based on imagining a view of your own death from outside of yourself.

Also there's the fantasy of "being dead"; we imagine a "long sleep" or a "black void" that lasts forever. Again, this is people pretending there's a POV outside themselves that stays true for them even after they're dead!

Actually "ceasing to exist" is no more able to be experienced than "coming into existence" was. The beginning of one's time and the end of it aren't there in the firstperson POV, which leaves only the middle -- the state of being alive. To think otherwise is, again, to imagine that other people's POV ("by golly he's dead!") matter more than your own in this.

There are 2 points to this long post. 1) That^^^ is the sort of stuff I'm thinking of whenever I say the word "spirituality". I'm not looking for ways to make words like 'spirit' or 'gods' go on being meaningful to materialists and naturalists. Nor is it about self-deluding to shelter against a "cruel world". I'm thinking science focuses on description, religion on dogma, philosophy on ivory tower conjectures... but my interest is transforming experience so it both reflects reality AND has a self-improvement effect at the same time.

2) The other point is, the argument that evolutionary thought makes it a bleak world is false. Or, rather, is true only if you want it to be.
 
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T.G.G. Moogly

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And materialism is not boring. Maybe what's boring are those who say that materialism is boring. Naturalism is a seriously awesome trip through reality.
 

abaddon

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And materialism is not boring. Maybe what's boring are those who say that materialism is boring. Naturalism is a seriously awesome trip through reality.
Yes I agree. Unfortunately it SEEMS boring to many people though.

I'm intrigued that many humans seem to need things to be more fantastical than our earthly reality. I've imagined a landscape with elves and trolls and other fantastic beasts in it, and it's fun. The fairy tales about such worlds are fun. It'd be a deeply enchanting world. But... more-so than the trees and birds and foxes and other fantastic beasts that are actual?

Why would a world with spirits be a more enchanted world rather than just a differently enchanted world? It's like there's a 'reducing valve' in people's heads.
 

rousseau

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And materialism is not boring. Maybe what's boring are those who say that materialism is boring. Naturalism is a seriously awesome trip through reality.
Yes I agree. Unfortunately it SEEMS boring to many people though.

I'm intrigued that many humans seem to need things to be more fantastical than our earthly reality. I've imagined a landscape with elves and trolls and other fantastic beasts in it, and it's fun. The fairy tales about such worlds are fun. It'd be a deeply enchanting world. But... more-so than the trees and birds and foxes and other fantastic beasts that are actual?

Why would a world with spirits be a more enchanted world rather than just a differently enchanted world? It's like there's a 'reducing valve' in people's heads.

It's an interesting question. I wonder if many people are religious in ontology, but expert materialists in practice. When it comes to everyday life we intuitively accept the physical world and basic cause/effect, but adding an additional layer (religion) makes the whole experience more interesting.

In practice, because we spend so much time in the real, actual world, doing actual things, it becomes mundane and we never develop any type of curiosity about it. It just doesn't seem that important. And in reality - when the goal of a human life is to build relationships and have fun - maybe there is a kind of logic in a lack of curiosity, and propensity to focus on friends/partners/experiences.

I've noticed that many who end up finding philosophies like Zen and Advaita are typically actualized, experienced, and looking for something more than everyday concerns. Maybe it's that the awe-inspiring nature of the real world isn't really attainable or relevant to us, until the practical world of relationships stops being interesting. Until then, that world is enough for most people, and there is no incentive to look more deeply.
 

rousseau

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My stock response is atheism is not monolithic in what atheists do believe.

Religion is not the only path to finding meaning.

Organized atheism provides community and meaning just like organized religion.

I think when it comes to evolution, sociology, and culture it can open a can of worms of political correctness.

No disagreement there. The argument wasn't so much that Atheism is never appealing, or valueless in of itself. It was that it's internal logic isn't appealing to many people, which is why we see so many people gravitate to religious answers.

If someone does find atheism appealing, that's fine.
That is odd. It seems to assume that atheism is some sort of organized belief system like Christianity or Hinduism. Atheism is not a belief system. Atheism is just the lack of belief in gods. Like my lack of belief in the Loch Ness monster, the lack of belief does not guide my reasoning but is one result of reasoning.

Not an organized belief system, but it typically does come with a cascade of corollaries.
Really? What corollaries? I can think of none other than an absence of belief in claims of divine actions. It could be correctly said that not believing in miracles would lead one to different conclusions than someone who relied on miracles to explain reality... but that is very different than 'corollaries'.

From a religious perspective, you can't dissociate atheism from materialism and science, which also aren't an ontology in of themselves, but represent a very different way of viewing the world. I used the word 'atheism' in the thread title, but perhaps I should have used the word 'materialism'. To the religious, it's a package deal that many don't want to accept.

You can call these things neutral 'facts', but to many people they clearly have very real connotations and implications.
Religious peoples misconceptions of what atheism is, is a very different discussion than what atheists actually are.

So you don't think that atheism has a somewhat tight coupling with science and materialism? It's just a religious misconception?
There are atheists with all sort of ways of thinking about reality. So sure there are some that are into science, some into materialism, some into yoga, etc. (just as there are some religious people that are into these things). There are even atheists who are into mysticism or atheists that don't really try to understand the nature of reality and just accept that that it is. Not believing there are gods has nothing to do with someone's view of reality other than that a god doesn't control it.

Your assumption that atheists are materialists is similar to assuming that all religious people accept the Dahlia Lama as their religious leader... Certainly there are some that do but that assumption would show a serious misunderstanding of what religious people, in general, believe.

About the only thing that can be said about atheists in general is that they don't believe in gods. After that, an assertion about their mindset would have to be about a specific atheist.

Fair enough. I guess I always just thought of atheism/materialism as two sides of the same coin, each implies the other.
 

rousseau

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The other point is, the argument that evolutionary thought makes it a bleak world is false. Or, rather, is true only if you want it to be.

I don't have the time to respond to your whole post, but I agree with this. I don't think the implications of evolution necessarily make it a bleak world, in my own view I wouldn't have it any other way.

But I think to the religious mind it's a much harder sell compared to the fantastic answers derived from religion.
 

steve_bank

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It's an interesting question. I wonder if many people are religious in ontology, but expert materialists in practice. When it comes to everyday life we intuitively accept the physical world and basic cause/effect, but adding an additional layer (religion) makes the whole experience more interesting.

I think that is it.
 

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The chief attraction of religion, at least its main stream Abrahamic varieties, is the prospect of life after death.
is it though? like, for real?

i have known a lot of atheists and a lot of deeply religious people in my life, and without exception every atheist i've ever met faces the death of a loved one with the range of emotions you'd expect - grief, sorrow, resigned indignation, missing them, mourning them, etc etc.
this reaction tracks with the view that the person you knew is gone, simply gone, and you will miss them in your life.

every religious person i have known when confronted with the death of a loved one embarks on this wild dramatic wailing and gnashing of teeth and incoherent sobbing, and blubbering on and on about "oh lawd why you gotta take dem away from me" and this absolute inability to accept that death as a natural part of life.

i think this is the secret portal into religious thinking... they don't actually believe in life after death, their behavior gives them away.
if one believed in life after death, the physical death of someone would be meaningless - it just means they're going on vacation for a bit and you won't see them for a couple years.
the way religious people absolutely lose their shit over someone dying shows that they *don't* believe there's a life after death, and that the whole thing is a lie they know they're trying to sell themselves but can't manage to pull off.

Atheism precludes that possibility.
how so?
atheism precludes the claims that life after death has a specific set of characteristics as espoused by any given religion, but it doesn't preclude something else existing.
 

prideandfall

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Although a little more nuanced, that was it in a nutshell. Between the two worldviews it's obvious which one would appeal to more people.
but why?

maybe someone religious can answer this because i've asked dozens of people in my life and nobody can explain it to me:
why does the idea that your life is a marionette show appeal to you?
why is the thought that if something bad happens to you, it's punishment for something you did, sound good?
why is all of this being a skin flick for some sky fairy sound more appealing than "it happens because it gets to happen"?

i get the argument in terms of grammar, i just don't understand it philosophically or rationally.
why is that line of thought appealing to people?

So as Atheists, we're all obviously invested in the lack of God because it appeals to us
i mean, the idea of a lack of god doesn't appeal to me per se, but i guess i'm not technically an atheist so maybe that's why.
but, none of the atheists i know are invested in a lack of god either.

however, both myself and every atheist i've ever known are most certainly invested in the lack of *religion* - but religion and god are absolutely not the same thing.

but when you break the problem down to it's basic elements we're trying to sell the religious a bit of a shithole. Their religion shields them from what is a cruel and indifferent world, they do not want to accept materialism because it isn't much of a cakewalk.
hard disagree on both points and i don't understand how that argument can even be made.
the human experience of life is what it is either way, in one version things happen because they get to happen. in the other version, things happen because some unknowable inscrutable screenplay has been written for all of existence and you're locked into a path you have no way of diverting from or even being aware of.

i don't think religion is a shield against that, and i think the behavior of religious people completely defy any attempt to classify it as such.
like so many things dealing with religious/conservative thinking, there is nothing about saving or bettering themselves that is the part that appeals to them... it's about punishment and degradation for other people that appeals to them.

they don't buy into religion with the hope to go to heaven, they buy into it for the promise that other people are going to hell.
 

zorq

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I am having a little trouble following the example beliefs in this thread. Specifically the ones related to fatalism/free will and blame/consequence. While I think I understand how each poster is sorting these beliefs into the Theist or Materialist box it isn't entirely obvious to me because I think these concepts aren't monopolized by either camp, and I think we should remember that.

Not every theist is a Calvinist who believes in a strict plan for the universe. Some materialists have a fatalistic belief in the vein of Hari Seldon's  psychohistory that the universe is a stack of dominoes falling exactly how they must fall. But others see it from a different angle and take note of just how much a determined individual can bend the world to his own fickle will.

To point out another sort of outlier in the assumptions being made in this thread, I must confess that I sometimes feel like an Atheist in ontology and a spiritualist in practice. Ask me on any day of the week if I believe in God or supernatural phenomena of any sort and I will give you a firm "No." But when I think about a choice that is in front of me, I often consider "karma" as if it were a real factor to help me make the choice. I don't actually believe in cosmic justice or universal balance, but the ideas are appealing and useful in my every day life. It just sort of feels right. ... So I use it... without believing in it.. (IKR?)

Oh, and I like some simple superstitions too. I indulge in silly superstitions that I know have no affect on the world around me beyond just making me feel good. I'm often laughing at myself while I perform the ritual, but it brings me comfort.

Anyways, all I'm trying to say here is what other people are saying. Atheism doesn't really come bundled with any other specific beliefs, and neither does theism.
 

steve_bank

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The chief attraction of religion, at least its main stream Abrahamic varieties, is the prospect of life after death.
is it though? like, for real?

i have known a lot of atheists and a lot of deeply religious people in my life, and without exception every atheist i've ever met faces the death of a loved one with the range of emotions you'd expect - grief, sorrow, resigned indignation, missing them, mourning them, etc etc.
this reaction tracks with the view that the person you knew is gone, simply gone, and you will miss them in your life.

every religious person i have known when confronted with the death of a loved one embarks on this wild dramatic wailing and gnashing of teeth and incoherent sobbing, and blubbering on and on about "oh lawd why you gotta take dem away from me" and this absolute inability to accept that death as a natural part of life.

i think this is the secret portal into religious thinking... they don't actually believe in life after death, their behavior gives them away.
if one believed in life after death, the physical death of someone would be meaningless - it just means they're going on vacation for a bit and you won't see them for a couple years.
the way religious people absolutely lose their shit over someone dying shows that they *don't* believe there's a life after death, and that the whole thing is a lie they know they're trying to sell themselves but can't manage to pull off.

Atheism precludes that possibility.
how so?
atheism precludes the claims that life after death has a specific set of characteristics as espoused by any given religion, but it doesn't preclude something else existing.
Well Prideandfall, I guess not everyone has a Vulcan's ability to suppress feelings.

I do not begrudge anyone's using religion to cope with problems. I am 70 and went through a long hospital stay plus a nursing home and assisted living before getting back out in the world.

I knew and know people with serious medical probables who's faith gives them comfort. Terminal cancer. Death of family and friends. Four people I knew in my senior housing have died. One guy who lived across from me coped using heavy alcohol and pot. I called 911 for him a few time, he had a trach and could not talk. The last time he was dobuled over in pain in his wheelchair.

People cope in different ways when facing death.
 

prideandfall

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Well Prideandfall, I guess not everyone has a Vulcan's ability to suppress feelings.
what on earth does that have to do with anything? that is such a bizarre non-sequitur i can't possibly imagine what you think the point is.
neither group i was referring to suppressed any feelings whatsoever, what are you trying to say here?

I do not begrudge anyone's using religion to cope with problems.
good for you? i mean, cool... but what does that have to do with anything?

though on that subject, i've never observed religion helping anyone to cope with anything - every depressed christian i've ever met was just depressed as every depressed atheist i ever met, they just get stuck being depressed over slightly different philosophical quandaries, or are depressed over their lives with slightly different ways of thinking about it.

People cope in different ways when facing death.
yes they do, and religion isn't any better at that coping than anything else is, so trying to justify its existence because it 'brings comfort' is about as valid as saying we should all be heroin addicts because heroin brings comfort too.

which is all well and good if religion is your bag, to each their own and all of that, but it's a very weak point to try to make to prop up the idea of religion as being advantageous in any way over being not-religious when it comes to dealing with life's problems.
 

steve_bank

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You mocked peole suffering loss and calling on god. While I am atheist and debate relgion here I would never mock someone in that manner. eEcognizing I am not an all powefull god it is not for me to make such a judgment on people. That would make me an atheist version of the ranting Evangelicals.

I am not justifying anything. Religion like most most human behavior is not a simple black and white dichotomy.

Considering what is going on today and the turn culture has taken religion is at the bottom of my harmful list.
 

prideandfall

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You mocked peole suffering loss and calling on god.
did i?
i said that they respond very negatively to the death of loved ones which i find shows the lie behind their claim to believe in eternal existence after death, since truly believing that would make death immaterial.
if pointing out that contradiction in behavior vs. proclaimed faith is mockery, then i suppose i mocked them... but honestly, they started it.

Considering what is going on today and the turn culture has taken religion is at the bottom of my harmful list.
yes well you have a very strident track record on these forums for being dead wrong on social issues, so that doesn't surprise me.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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It's an interesting question. I wonder if many people are religious in ontology, but expert materialists in practice. When it comes to everyday life we intuitively accept the physical world and basic cause/effect, but adding an additional layer (religion) makes the whole experience more interesting.

I think that is it.
As children do with Santa Claus.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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i think this is the secret portal into religious thinking... they don't actually believe in life after death, their behavior gives them away.
if one believed in life after death, the physical death of someone would be meaningless - it just means they're going on vacation for a bit and you won't see them for a couple years.
the way religious people absolutely lose their shit over someone dying shows that they *don't* believe there's a life after death, and that the whole thing is a lie they know they're trying to sell themselves but can't manage to pull off.
We've been walking around this point quite a bit.

It is entirely possible and in my opinion likely that persons ascribing to religious afterlives and otherworldly realities have in fact declared their outright fear of the reality they live in and sense everyday. This decision is subconscious but obviously natural and selected for. Couple this with the fact that scientific thought and appreciation is relatively difficult compared to believing in childish tall tales. I was really happy as a kid and adulthood is a struggle in comparison. My scientific curiosity has saved me many times because it gave me the knowledge to understand how something unpleasant can happen. That is the essential transition from childhood to adulthood.
 

rousseau

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Although a little more nuanced, that was it in a nutshell. Between the two worldviews it's obvious which one would appeal to more people.
but why?

maybe someone religious can answer this because i've asked dozens of people in my life and nobody can explain it to me:
why does the idea that your life is a marionette show appeal to you?
why is the thought that if something bad happens to you, it's punishment for something you did, sound good?
why is all of this being a skin flick for some sky fairy sound more appealing than "it happens because it gets to happen"?

i get the argument in terms of grammar, i just don't understand it philosophically or rationally.
why is that line of thought appealing to people?

So as Atheists, we're all obviously invested in the lack of God because it appeals to us
i mean, the idea of a lack of god doesn't appeal to me per se, but i guess i'm not technically an atheist so maybe that's why.
but, none of the atheists i know are invested in a lack of god either.

however, both myself and every atheist i've ever known are most certainly invested in the lack of *religion* - but religion and god are absolutely not the same thing.

but when you break the problem down to it's basic elements we're trying to sell the religious a bit of a shithole. Their religion shields them from what is a cruel and indifferent world, they do not want to accept materialism because it isn't much of a cakewalk.
hard disagree on both points and i don't understand how that argument can even be made.
the human experience of life is what it is either way, in one version things happen because they get to happen. in the other version, things happen because some unknowable inscrutable screenplay has been written for all of existence and you're locked into a path you have no way of diverting from or even being aware of.

i don't think religion is a shield against that, and i think the behavior of religious people completely defy any attempt to classify it as such.
like so many things dealing with religious/conservative thinking, there is nothing about saving or bettering themselves that is the part that appeals to them... it's about punishment and degradation for other people that appeals to them.

they don't buy into religion with the hope to go to heaven, they buy into it for the promise that other people are going to hell.

I think the catch here is that atheists tend to think about faith far more stridently and deeply than those of actual faith. That may not always be the case, but is usually true. When you really look at it, religion usually ends up being a minor component of most people's lives. A nice, comforting idea that is nice to hold on to, while the other ninety-nine percent of the time they're living the same lives as atheists.

Religious thinking isn't something that many sit down and write a bunch of bullet-points about, it's just a pervasive, normalized, and attractive part of many cultures, and many people are positively incentivized to follow it.

Maybe that's, strictly speaking, irrational. But humans are irrational, so where are we going with that accusation?

If it weren't for religious ideas encroaching on public policy, most atheists would be completely indifferent to the religious. In Canada, religion is essentially neutral, nobody talks about it, nobody asks, for the most part nobody cares. It's just not that important here.
 

steve_bank

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You mocked peole suffering loss and calling on god.
did i?
i said that they respond very negatively to the death of loved ones which i find shows the lie behind their claim to believe in eternal existence after death, since truly believing that would make death immaterial.
if pointing out that contradiction in behavior vs. proclaimed faith is mockery, then i suppose i mocked them... but honestly, they started it.

Considering what is going on today and the turn culture has taken religion is at the bottom of my harmful list.
yes well you have a very strident track record on these forums for being dead wrong on social issues, so that doesn't surprise me.
I am an armchair liberal's worse nightmare. I am a centrist pragmatic observer who is not racist or biased and who has gone out of his way throughout life to get to know regular people of all kinds. I am noy boid as much as I am abnle by any ideologigy. I am a regular person who feels no superiotty over anyone, even the religions.

From my experience people like you base views on generalizations and stereotypes without really getting to know people you malign. That you have never observed people benefiting from religion meansou have never really known rebellious people.

Hee re on the forum we tend to emphasize the negatives of religion. Atheists can be just as narrow mnided as the religious can be.

I can get into a conversation on a bus or a street corner. It is how I leaned about other people.

every religious person i have known when confronted with the death of a loved one embarks on this wild dramatic wailing and gnashing of teeth and incoherent sobbing, and blubbering on and on about "oh lawd why you gotta take dem away from me" and this absolute inability to accept that death as a natural part of

That is mocking. Atheits are emotional but not like religious who need to call on a deit?. I don't see how you can prove that
all atheists' cope without relying o a crutch when in distress.

You are arguing an atheist supriorty without any proof much like theists argue faith.

Such is the pragmatic view from the center.

I identify as atheist on the forum because it is convenient. However I reject both sides as equally nonsensical. The word atheist itself has no real meaning as it does not represent any affirmative belief. As such making an argument about atheism is just as meaningless as arguing theism.

Agruing for atheim is a means of finding meanign, community, and idenity as is theism.
 

abaddon

Veteran Member
Joined
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Messages
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If it weren't for religious ideas encroaching on public policy, most atheists would be completely indifferent to the religious.
Atheists often say that and frankly I think it's not quite true. We could talk in nonpolitical terms (to keep it relevant to GR instead of PD) about how religion [sometimes] causes people to be jerks in politics but mostly IIDBers don't focus on that. Instead it's a battle of worldviews, like materialism vs "ghosts". The main theme is obviating all possibility that there's "mind" anywhere in the universe. Some folk even try to strike it from humans and render us into biological robots.

So, talk about materialism being a hard sell... If the hardline version of it is true, if it's all mindless machinery, then life's idiotic and absurd. If materialists find wonder in some bits of nature sometimes, it's a failure to be true to that ontology, similar to what people say about the religious not living strictly by theirs.

Why does religion seem to materialists like it can't be about anything except "comfort"? Because at some level they must know their view on reality is HORRIFIC.

I'm technically atheist for applying my agnosticism to theism and thus "lacking belief". The only big "Ism" word that's attractive to me is naturalism. NOT materialism.

I'm also not anti-religious. I want to be clear, to help destroy* the idea of atheism as a materialist ontology that's anti-religious (*as if that's got any chance in hell). Being religious doesn't mean you're ignorant and destructive; being a secularist who likes science doesn't mean you're not. Religion isn't the reason for the ecological catastrophes. Humans trying hard at 'technical efficiency' for "the progress of Humanity" are a big part of the problem there. We're severely ignorant (a little insane even) animals wielding more and more power; and "throw more technology at it, that'll fix it" seems to me a manic degree of excess technological optimism.

So I'm hopeful for a paradigm shift away from the money-making technical efficiency that, IMV, is at the heart of the current paradigm. In that paradigm, all nature is mindless stuff so nothing can justify any ethical qualms about using it as resources for human use, to make themselves safe from that uncomfortable ("cruel" even) thing called Nature. I've seen the phrase "nature's trying to kill you!" about 100 times in IIDB over the years in the context of how wonderful that applied science/technology is.

Is this picture of reality true? Maybe partly... but if you fully "buy" the current paradigm of materialism then it'll give you an exaggerated sense that nature is dumb objects, a machine with only instrumental value to humans. There's a huge input of values and agenda there... it's not straight up science.

Maybe religion, if re-visioned to be less otherworldly, would be helpful to save the earth from the manic "turn it all into stuff for sale" people? Religions are going through changes. To keep harping about fundies as if they represent all religions makes it falsely seem like it's nothing but BAD. Some secularists hate the idea of the changes; they seem to view them as not "ideologically pure" (very like how religious fundies see them, fascinatingly). But nevertheless there is a "greening" of religions. There are more neo-animists, neo-pagans, environmentalist Buddhists, "green" Christians, religious naturalists, et al, than there used to be. Yeah it's small and hopeless to slow down the destruction of the biosphere. But still it'd be highly unintelligent to resist the change, to revile is as "not the truth". IMV it's not clear that there isn't truth there.

So, tldr version: Atheism does not necessarily entail advocating materialism nor being anti-religious. I stand behind only naturalism because 1) the ecosphere matters more than anything else including humans; 2) naturalism is a big tent that doesn't try to keep the religious out (or "get rid of religion") and thereby 'cut off its nose to spite its face'.
 
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T.G.G. Moogly

Traditional Atheist
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Messages
9,041
Location
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Basic Beliefs
egalitarian
If it weren't for religious ideas encroaching on public policy, most atheists would be completely indifferent to the religious.
Atheists often say that and frankly I think it's not quite true. We could talk in nonpolitical terms (to keep it relevant to GR instead of PD) about how religion [sometimes] causes people to be jerks in politics but mostly IIDBers don't focus on that. Instead it's a battle of worldviews, like materialism vs "ghosts". The main theme is obviating all possibility that there's "mind" anywhere in the universe. Some folk even try to strike it from humans and render us into biological robots.

So, talk about materialism being a hard sell... If the hardline version of it is true, if it's all mindless machinery, then life's idiotic and absurd. If materialists find wonder in some bits of nature sometimes, it's a failure to be true to that ontology, similar to what people say about the religious not living strictly by theirs.

Why does religion seem to materialists like it can't be about anything except "comfort"? Because at some level they must know their view on reality is HORRIFIC.

I'm technically atheist for applying my agnosticism to theism and thus "lacking belief". The only big "Ism" word that's attractive to me is naturalism. NOT materialism.

I'm also not anti-religious. I want to be clear, to help destroy* the idea of atheism as a materialist ontology that's anti-religious (*as if that's got any chance in hell). Being religious doesn't mean you're ignorant and destructive; being a secularist who likes science doesn't mean you're not (which is an idea that's been presented a few times in this thread). Religion isn't the reason for the ecological catastrophes. Humans trying hard at 'technical efficiency' for "the progress of Humanity" are a big part of the problem there. We're severely ignorant (a little insane even) animals wielding more and more power; and "throw more technology at it, that'll fix it" seems to me a manic degree of excess technological optimism.

So I'm hopeful for a paradigm shift away from the money-making technical efficiency that, IMV, is at the heart of the current paradigm. All nature is mindless stuff so nothing could justify any ethical qualms about using it as resources for human use so that they can makes themselves safe from that uncomfortable ("cruel" even) thing called Nature. I've seen the phrase "nature's trying to kill you!" about 100 times in IIDB over the years in the context of how wonderful that applied science/technology is.

Is this picture of reality true? Maybe partly... but if you fully "buy" the current paradigm of materialism then it'll give you an exaggerated sense that nature is dumb objects, a machine with only instrumental value to humans. There's a huge input of values there... it's not straight up science.

Maybe religion, if revisioned to be less otherworldly, would be helpful to save the earth from the manic "turn it all into stuff" people? Religions are going through changes. To keep harping about fundies as if they represent all religions makes it falsely seem like it's nothing but BAD. Some secularists HATE the idea of the changes; they seem to view them as not "ideologically pure" in the same way religious fundies see them. But nevertheless there is a "greening" of religions. There are more neo-animists, neo-pagans, environmentalist Buddhists, "green" Christians, religious naturalists, et al, than there used to be. Yeah it's small and hopeless to slow down the destruction of the biosphere. IMV it'd be highly unintelligent to resist the change, to revile is as "not the truth". Frankly, to me, it's not 100% clear that there isn't truth there.

So, tldr version: Atheism does not necessarily entail advocating materialism nor being anti-religious. I stand behind only naturalism because 1) the ecosphere matters more than anything else including humans; 2) naturalism is a big tent that doesn't try to keep the religious out and thereby 'cut off its nose to spite its face'.
Speaking for myself, to be mindful has everything to do with materialism. If nothing else, mindfulness is an emergent property of materialism. Even if I think I'm a ghost that is going to mindlessly fly away when my material body is dead to answer to some master ghost in the sky I've just entered into another material world. Non-materialism is only possible because we have materialism front and center. Non-materialists live a 100% material existence and pretend in a non-material existence. Their lives are 100% atheistic until we find those ghosty souls of Bigfoot and Nessie. If I continue to pretend in non-materialism as an adult, a behavior that came naturally in childhood, then I have to look for a scientific explanation, not a religious proclamation. That's just dragging childhood into adulthood.

In the end theism is one example of pretending, and it's quite popular. And it carries into adulthood. What causes that to happen when other childhood fantasies fade away? If I appreciate scientific investigation the answer is obvious. If I don't the answer is hidden.
 

abaddon

Veteran Member
Joined
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Messages
2,145
Speaking for myself, to be mindful has everything to do with materialism. If nothing else, mindfulness is an emergent property of materialism. Even if I think I'm a ghost that is going to mindlessly fly away when my material body is dead to answer to some master ghost in the sky I've just entered into another material world. Non-materialism is only possible because we have materialism front and center. Non-materialists live a 100% material existence and pretend in a non-material existence. Their lives are 100% atheistic until we find those ghosty souls of Bigfoot and Nessie. If I continue to pretend in non-materialism as an adult, a behavior that came naturally in childhood, then I have to look for a scientific explanation, not a religious proclamation. That's just dragging childhood into adulthood.

In the end theism is one example of pretending, and it's quite popular. And it carries into adulthood. What causes that to happen when other childhood fantasies fade away? If I appreciate scientific investigation the answer is obvious. If I don't the answer is hidden.
Do you mean matter is hard and that's why things look and feel solid to you? And that's why it's obviously material and not mental?

Do you say "ghosts" because you imagine them to be airy insubstantial things? Therefore a mental world must be airy and without a substantial feel?
 
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