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When you break it down: is atheism unappealing?

bilby

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bilby

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I recognize that atheism is the most likely correct answer.

I also recognize that there's no way to prove that, only to disprove it.
That depends on your standard of proof.

Philosophers will (correctly) point out that “you can’t prove a negative”, but in doing so they are talking about absolute proof, of the kind beloved of mathematicians.

But most of human existence is predicated on the much less demanding “proof beyond a reasonable doubt”. It is this second, much lesser kind of “proof” that we use when we cease to gaze at our navels; And it’s good enough for negative claims such as “The Moon is not made from cheese”.

The existence of gods, based on our observations of reality, falls somewhere below the Selenotyroic Hypothesis in terms of plausibility.

That is to say, if your response to “The Moon is made of cheese” is to say “No it’s not, that’s ridiculous, we have proven it to be false”, then as it is even better evidenced that gods don’t exist, than it is that cheese isn’t a major component of lunar structure, it’s even more ridiculous to respond to the god claim as though it were worthy of consideration, than it would be to respond to the Selenotyroic Hypothesis with ‘I am agnostic on this question’.

You can’t “prove the negative” that the Moon doesn’t contain cheese as a major component. You are still batshit crazy if you are agnostic on this question, though.
 

bilby

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I'm not an atheist because I find it appealing. It is just what makes sense to me based on everything I have learned and experienced in this world.
Exactly. It's like any other lesson learned based on observation and experience. It's not a big deal, except to religious people who think they have a god.

My observation and experience led me to atheism, but my experience of the world is, viscerally, very similar to those who believe in God. I know the world around me is material and can be mathematically modeled, but I don't feel like it's intrinsically empty of meaning, just an arbitrary 'nothing' which we assign whatever we want to.

You'll scoff, but that's what we call directly experiencing the divine. If you don't see it, that's fine.

But what I'm getting at is that there is a kind of logic and correctness to God belief. That doesn't mean there literally needs to be a guy with a beard, just people with a vague perception of the mystery of the world around them. For them it's easier to understand the mystery by giving it a concrete label and ontological system.

If you want to talk about hard material facts and why, mechanically, a God can't exist, you're missing the point entirely, imo.
I may be missing *your* point, but that doesn't bother me.

If there actually exists *intrinsic meaning* as you suggest then an atheist might wonder from where this intrinsic meaning arises and what is meant by "meaning" if it is used in a non-subjective manner.

In case it wasn't clear, I was replying to T.G.G. Moogly, and not you.

But sure, you can still explore that meaning, and maybe if we take this logic to it's conclusion we decide that the universe is an arbitrary nothing. And that's fine. But what I'm getting at, is that the logical conclusion of reason isn't really nihilism, it's positivism, and the recognition that the world and our lives are ultimately a mystery tied up with a good amount of beauty, joy, and pleasure.

Those who are religious have a sense of this, but they give it concrete labels. Buddhists / Non-Dual Hindus experience it directly.

What I'm getting at is that by attacking theism, we're attacking an arbitrary label that is actually a placeholder for a real, human experience. To the hard atheist it's a cold game of logic, while missing the forest for the trees.
On the contrary, theism attempts to hijack a response that’s both enjoyable and wonderful, and at the same time has exactly fuck-all to do with their claims.

“Without religion you cannot have meaning or a sense of wonder” makes exactly as much sense as “Of course there’s a silicon heaven. Where else would the calculators go?”.

We don’t need any baggage tied to our placeholders for inexplicable awe. It detracts from the reality, it doesn’t add to it.
 

bilby

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But religious experiences are generally self-induced and filtered. Any natural experience in the world or event is feng shui, our literally reaction to our environment, without filters. That is real.

Religious experiences are tainted with presumption or desperation. Religious experiences have to be explained after the fact. It reminds me of "footprints in the sand". Your footprints were gone... oh no... I was carrying you. No... you wear flip flops those weren't flip flop prints!

Sure, but that people don't think clearly is likely a feature of our nature, not a bug. Basically you can choose to denigrate and invalidate the experience these people are having, or not. Personally, I prefer to validate than spend my life complaining about how 'irrational' everyone is.

It's a bit tangential, but I have a young sister-in-law who isn't great at thinking for herself. Not necessarily religious, but clearly living a life that is clouded in illusion. Years ago I decided that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, and to go where she is, versus trying to make her go where I am. Personally, I've found that approach a lot more fulfilling.

Which I think comes back to the point that if politics and religion were completely separated, nobody would rightly care what others believed. It just wouldn't matter, and it would be a lot easier to passively accept.
Sure, but they aren’t.

So it becomes our social and political duty to refuse to give any respect to religion and religious belief, unless and until those beliefs are completely removed from the political arena.

Belief isn’t worthy of respect. People are, but (despite the claims of the major religions), people are not their beliefs, and nonsensical beliefs are not harmless.
 

rousseau

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But religious experiences are generally self-induced and filtered. Any natural experience in the world or event is feng shui, our literally reaction to our environment, without filters. That is real.

Religious experiences are tainted with presumption or desperation. Religious experiences have to be explained after the fact. It reminds me of "footprints in the sand". Your footprints were gone... oh no... I was carrying you. No... you wear flip flops those weren't flip flop prints!

Sure, but that people don't think clearly is likely a feature of our nature, not a bug. Basically you can choose to denigrate and invalidate the experience these people are having, or not. Personally, I prefer to validate than spend my life complaining about how 'irrational' everyone is.

It's a bit tangential, but I have a young sister-in-law who isn't great at thinking for herself. Not necessarily religious, but clearly living a life that is clouded in illusion. Years ago I decided that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with that, and to go where she is, versus trying to make her go where I am. Personally, I've found that approach a lot more fulfilling.

Which I think comes back to the point that if politics and religion were completely separated, nobody would rightly care what others believed. It just wouldn't matter, and it would be a lot easier to passively accept.
Sure, but they aren’t.

So it becomes our social and political duty to refuse to give any respect to religion and religious belief, unless and until those beliefs are completely removed from the political arena.

Belief isn’t worthy of respect. People are, but (despite the claims of the major religions), people are not their beliefs, and nonsensical beliefs are not harmless.

I think's that's why we see so many Americans bent out of shape about it. I get it, but the experience of having to fight religious dogma is completely foreign to me.

In Canada, most hot-button religious issues are non-starters politically, even our Conservatives won't touch them.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I've always likened being raised in a religious home to being in kindergarten or first grade. You learn structure that carries along all these cultural values that are the important things you learn. Naturally when you get older structure and organization are still important components of your life but you hardly need kindergarten structure everyday or ever again. You've grown up. Be an adult. Do you still venerate Santa and await his return on the winter solstice? No. Many of us still would if it was popular with adults because that's how we're wired.

In the end atheism is freedom and many people are afraid of freedom. They need structure imposed upon them. Maybe agnosticism is pretending there is still a kindergarten kind of structure ordering your life. It's just warm and comfy with good memories. and that freedom that is having no personal responsibility for anything. It's not the same as outright theism but retains a bit of theism.
 

Rhea

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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
  • 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

It s interesting to start off the thought exercise knowing that there’s an imbalance in the equations. I felt as I read this that the lsit of the “aceptance of evolution” was the straw man of it that religionists believe that we believe - not what we really believe.

To wit:

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

These are incompatible. First they say it’s randome then they say we blame ourselfs. But I don’t agree that atheists think that. It’s what religionists feel, not what atheists feel. When random things happen to us, WE know they are random. We get that. We don’t immediately launch self blame. Sometimes random bad obstacles happen. We don’t move to guilt and self doubt. Fixing random bad things is up to us if we can or want to. But they are not our fault.

So atheism is of course unappealing to the people who are fed a doctrine that atheism is unappealing; wouldn’t we all agree with that?

But **atheism** is not unappealing. The religious straw man of atheism is unappealing.
(By design)

Sure, but that people don't think clearly is likely a feature of our nature, not a bug. Basically you can choose to denigrate and invalidate the experience these people are having, or not. Personally, I prefer to validate than spend my life complaining about how 'irrational' everyone is.

That is some you can do without negative consequence when….

I think's that's why we see so many Americans bent out of shape about it. I get it, but the experience of having to fight religious dogma is completely foreign to me.

In Canada, most hot-button religious issues are non-starters politically, even our Conservatives won't touch them.

So it costs you nothing to “ validate than spend my life complaining about how 'irrational' everyone is.”
Wait till they start passing laws that outlaw you.

You may find yourself refusing to validate.
 

rousseau

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So it costs you nothing to “ validate than spend my life complaining about how 'irrational' everyone is.”
Wait till they start passing laws that outlaw you.

You may find yourself refusing to validate.

Maybe 'bent out of shape' was poor phrasing. Like I said.. I get where Americans are coming from, but I do try not to overstate how important discussion at IIDB is. Sometimes it's nice to just have a pleasant conversation about an interesting topic, without the pretense of 'change'.

And in the original post I'm pretty clear that I'm not attempting to validate the religious mindset. The post you're referring is more about intrinsic respect, than anything else.
 

Rhea

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I do get that, and I apologize for the detour - I don’t want to derail a conversation. But I was interested in it evven more with a level playing field for the premise. :)
 

rousseau

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It s interesting to start off the thought exercise knowing that there’s an imbalance in the equations. I felt as I read this that the lsit of the “aceptance of evolution” was the straw man of it that religionists believe that we believe - not what we really believe.

To wit:

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

These are incompatible. First they say it’s randome then they say we blame ourselfs. But I don’t agree that atheists think that. It’s what religionists feel, not what atheists feel. When random things happen to us, WE know they are random. We get that. We don’t immediately launch self blame. Sometimes random bad obstacles happen. We don’t move to guilt and self doubt. Fixing random bad things is up to us if we can or want to. But they are not our fault.

I think it's more of a question of the religious ideology in opposition to the lack of one. God belief provides a type of psychological cover that's not available to the atheist. We have our own hacks too, but religion is a pretty available, and immediately obvious solution to hardship. Where the lack of religion just looks like a competitive, lonely struggle to a lot of people.

That doesn't mean you're wrong about the Atheist position, but I think that's largely how it appears to believers. Which explains why religion is such a comfort, why so many turn to it when they face problems, and why it appeals.

For example, I have a younger cousin whose life is an absolute mess. Both of his parents are alcoholics, he has fetal alcohol syndrome, and his employability has been borderline his whole life. At one point a few years ago he turned to, and found a lot of comfort in, Christianity. Somehow this made his life acceptable. Right or wrong, I can't envision trying to convince him that he shouldn't hold on to those beliefs. There is no other real comfort in his life.
 

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I always thought that the Bible god didn't want humans to taste the "tree of knowledge". In other words, if you learn too much and think too much, the concept of an all powerful god who loves his creation is stupid. When I told my church friends that we had been deceived by the teachings of the church, one said to me, "You think too much. Don't think so much about it". That's religion to me. The more you think about it, the nuttier it seems. It's sort of like the Wizard of Oz. People thought he was all powerful, and then they discovered the wizard was just a man selling an idea.

I never try to convince anyone to give up their beliefs, if they find comfort in them. I don't understand why people believe such nonsense but whatever helps one navigate life, as long as it doesn't harm others, is fine with me. My neighbor burns a candle to bring love and peace. It's never seemed to work, but it seems to comfort her. There is no harm in burning a candle that helps you cope.
It s interesting to start off the thought exercise knowing that there’s an imbalance in the equations. I felt as I read this that the lsit of the “aceptance of evolution” was the straw man of it that religionists believe that we believe - not what we really believe.

To wit:

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

These are incompatible. First they say it’s randome then they say we blame ourselfs. But I don’t agree that atheists think that. It’s what religionists feel, not what atheists feel. When random things happen to us, WE know they are random. We get that. We don’t immediately launch self blame. Sometimes random bad obstacles happen. We don’t move to guilt and self doubt. Fixing random bad things is up to us if we can or want to. But they are not our fault.

I think it's more of a question of the religious ideology in opposition to the lack of one. God belief provides a type of psychological cover that's not available to the atheist. We have our own hacks too, but religion is a pretty available, and immediately obvious solution to hardship. Where the lack of religion just looks like a competitive, lonely struggle to a lot of people.

That doesn't mean you're wrong about the Atheist position, but I think that's largely how it appears to believers. Which explains why religion is such a comfort, why so many turn to it when they face problems, and why it appeals.

For example, I have a younger cousin whose life is an absolute mess. Both of his parents are alcoholics, he has fetal alcohol syndrome, and his employability has been borderline his whole life. At one point a few years ago he turned to, and found a lot of comfort in, Christianity. Somehow this made his life acceptable. Right or wrong, I can't envision trying to convince him that he shouldn't hold on to those beliefs. There is no other real comfort in his life.
I agree that religion does comfort some people, but it causes a lot of distress for some people too. For example, conservative Christians usually believe that those outside their version of Christianity are headed for hell. Some Catholics hold similar views. I used to feel sorry for my mother because according to her religion, I'm going to hell to be tortured. However, she grew wise with age. She told my husband when she was in her early 80s that there was no way she could believe that I was going to hell. I felt good for her.

I can't imagine believing such nonsense, but if I did, it would be painful to think that friends and family members would be punished eternally for not sharing my beliefs. That's an element of the beauty of atheism. We don't see other people as headed for some terrible punishment due to their beliefs.

Religion is often like a crutch that some need to help them navigate the difficulties of life. Some are just drawn to mythology and others need a community of like minded people. And, sometimes religion provides an organized outlet to do charitable works. I accept that religion can be helpful or destructive, depending on the nature of the mythology.

The only thing that I might miss is having a community. I think having a community of like minded people probably keeps some Christians in the fold. I've been a member of many atheist or humanist groups in real life, but we aren't very good at keeping the cats herded, so I've seen some of my groups fade away.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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I think of the convocation before the Indy 500, a light religious prayer asking for god to protect the drivers. When in fact, God has been hit or miss over the years. That in fact, it was science and engineering that saved the lives of Tom Sneva and Kevin Cogan (specifically at Indy), and prevented greater injury to so many other drivers. Eddie Sachs, Gordon Smiley, Scott Brayton weren't as lucky though.

But every year, they keep asking for God's protection. No thought or thanks to those who put in the Safer Barrier, designed the cockpit (Grosjean's life was saved because of all sorts of tech in his F1 crash), fire suits, etc...
What's the takeaway lesson? For me it's that people are superstitious and still like to believe in magic. Asking a magic creature to protect me from danger is evidence enough. It just feels good I suppose, like when I feel good watching a movie or reading a book. But I can feel good without living my life as if the magic is real. I can switch modes. Some people cannot.

In the case mentioned earlier by rousseau it would be interesting to ask such a person if he really believes in all the magic or is just finding comfort in the community and the act of pretending.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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It's pretty obvious that there is a lot of projecting on the part of believers. How else would they know their god's thoughts and motivations? I'd be ashamed to think that the only thing keeping me from murder, rape, theft, etc. was belief in a magic spaceman.
 

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That's the trouble. God is given credit for other people's hard work, and a pass when stuff goes horribly wrong. People pray to God, looking for answers, stuff, guidance, assurance... and pretty much regardless of the outcome, they'll pray again. As if the act of prayer is what they need to get that level of comfort that they aren't a meaningless speck in a universe that will never know they existed in a tiny amount of galactic time.

And I'm fine with that. We all need our comforts.

But it is when that transitions to moral crusades because their god said some shit 2700 years ago to a guy from Ur... need to press pause.
 

skepticalbip

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That's the trouble. God is given credit for other people's hard work, and a pass when stuff goes horribly wrong. People pray to God, looking for answers, stuff, guidance, assurance... and pretty much regardless of the outcome, they'll pray again. As if the act of prayer is what they need to get that level of comfort that they aren't a meaningless speck in a universe that will never know they existed in a tiny amount of galactic time.

And I'm fine with that. We all need our comforts.

But it is when that transitions to moral crusades because their god said some shit 2700 years ago to a guy from Ur... need to press pause.
👍

Yup. And some people rely on their lucky penny. I find it an odd quirk of humanity how much faith some put in their particular talisman be it a god, a penny, or any other magic charm. Most are harmless to others but for some reason some of those with a god fetish want to impose their belief on others. I have not yet encountered anyone with a 'lucky penny' that tried to convince me to also believe in its magic powers.
 

Jimmy Higgins

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That's the trouble. God is given credit for other people's hard work, and a pass when stuff goes horribly wrong. People pray to God, looking for answers, stuff, guidance, assurance... and pretty much regardless of the outcome, they'll pray again. As if the act of prayer is what they need to get that level of comfort that they aren't a meaningless speck in a universe that will never know they existed in a tiny amount of galactic time.

And I'm fine with that. We all need our comforts.

But it is when that transitions to moral crusades because their god said some shit 2700 years ago to a guy from Ur... need to press pause.
👍

Yup. And some people rely on their lucky penny. I find it an odd quirk of humanity how much faith some put in their particular talisman be it a god, a penny, or any other magic charm. Most are harmless to others but for some reason some of those with a god fetish want to impose their belief on others. I have not yet encountered anyone with a 'lucky penny' that tried to convince me to also believe in its magic powers.
skepticalbip: What is that?
someone else: My lucky penny.
skepticalbip: Heh.
someone else: I worship it.
skepticalbip: ???
someone else: It told a person 2700 years ago that gay sex was an abomination.
skepticalbip: Really? That US currency penny existed 2700 years ago and said gay sex was an abomination?
someone else: And eating pork!
skepticalbip: *gets up to leave*
 

Jimmy Higgins

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But atheism provides nothing to find appealing, being merely a binary switch. Much like theism (does that even exist) doesn't either. It is the rules or guidance that matters.

While I wasn't on a road of chaos without religion before being a teenager, reading the Tao Te Ching and Eightfold Path helped provide a guidance about how naturalism can have an order and meaning without supernaturalism. That was an important find for me. Buddhism (well maybe not only Buddhism) creates a non-arbitrary moral code that is free of bias that expands merely beyond a bare tribute to arbitrary set of rules (from food, beverages, genders, etc...), but an understanding of how all of ones life can impact others, and you don't need reincarnation for that to make sense.

Perhaps the question is better asked, can the lack of theism and all of its empty promises be appealing? The answer for me is yes, but it isn't a defaulted answer. Understanding life and meaning or how there can be meaning without supernatural meaning (or how things can matter when they don't actually matter in the end) isn't as simple as just being an atheist.
 

ramoss

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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.
This is what I prefer to believe, AKA faith based beliefs.

Living things are animated by a little spark of the Divine. That's the difference between a living thing and a non-living thing. Including the difference between a living human being and their corpse. While we're alive we're a combination of the material(our bodies) and the spiritual(our spirit or soul).
So, how does that work? This would imply that our awakened self is the spirit, but when the meat (brain) gets seriously injured, a person can change greatly (completely). So this would imply the meat defines who we are and the spirit is just a fancy thing with absolutely no meaning or purpose.
The term 'spirit' seems vague. It seems to me that the term spirit is metaphysical, and has no real definition. Its just chemistry.
 

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I have no problem with Jesus as a messiah. If he returns and wants to get into politics, then let him win a democratic election and receive a time in office subject to term limits as we would require of any politician.
 

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I have no problem with Jesus as a messiah. If he returns and wants to get into politics, then let him win a democratic election and receive a time in office subject to term limits as we would require of any politician.
He better damn well have ID that proves he’s a ‘Murkin.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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TomC

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I have no problem with Jesus as a messiah.
Nor do I.
I'm pretty sure Jesus got executed by the Romans because He was a Messiah.

The Messiah is a Jewish warrior king, Anointed by God, to overthrow pagan oppression and return the Jews to their rightful place as a world power. Even the Romans knew that. So they treated Him like the violent terrorist/freedom fighter He was. Crucifixion.
Romans did that a lot. And there were lots of Messiahs back then. At least a few of them must have been named Jesus.

There you have it. Jesus the Messiah. Eventually a legend of The Christ built up. Paul added a bunch of paganism, like demigod and the pantheon of The Trinity. It became very popular, amongst the pagans. Amongst Jews, unsurprisingly, not so much. Because they both knew what a Messiah is and also that Jesus came nowhere close.
Tom
 

ramoss

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The term 'spirit' seems vague. It seems to me that the term spirit is metaphysical, and has no real definition. Its just chemistry.
How is it "chemistry?"

LIfe is nothing but chemical reactions. Interrupted the chain of chemical reactions, no more life.
Right, I get that. "Spirit" would seem to be something less than chemistry unless you're just talking neural chemistry.
What, exactly do you mean when you say 'spirit'
 

1Heidegger1!

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I have no problem with Jesus as a messiah.
Nor do I.
I'm pretty sure Jesus got executed by the Romans because He was a Messiah.

The Messiah is a Jewish warrior king, Anointed by God, to overthrow pagan oppression and return the Jews to their rightful place as a world power. Even the Romans knew that. So they treated Him like the violent terrorist/freedom fighter He was. Crucifixion.
Romans did that a lot. And there were lots of Messiahs back then. At least a few of them must have been named Jesus.

There you have it. Jesus the Messiah. Eventually a legend of The Christ built up. Paul added a bunch of paganism, like demigod and the pantheon of The Trinity. It became very popular, amongst the pagans. Amongst Jews, unsurprisingly, not so much. Because they both knew what a Messiah is and also that Jesus came nowhere close.
Tom

Jesus was apocalyptic. He was a messiah in the sense that he thought he and the twelve would rule over the Kingdom of God once it arrived on earth. He didn't think it in the sense that he would raise an army and overthrow the Romans. See Ehrman here: https://ehrmanblog.org/jesus-claim-to-be-the-messiah/
 

bilby

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The term 'spirit' seems vague. It seems to me that the term spirit is metaphysical, and has no real definition. Its just chemistry.
How is it "chemistry?"

LIfe is nothing but chemical reactions. Interrupted the chain of chemical reactions, no more life.
Right, I get that. "Spirit" would seem to be something less than chemistry unless you're just talking neural chemistry.
Spirits are typically around 40% C2H5OH, with most of the remaining 60% being plain old H2O.
 

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The term 'spirit' seems vague. It seems to me that the term spirit is metaphysical, and has no real definition. Its just chemistry.
How is it "chemistry?"

LIfe is nothing but chemical reactions. Interrupted the chain of chemical reactions, no more life.
Right, I get that. "Spirit" would seem to be something less than chemistry unless you're just talking neural chemistry.
Spirits are typically around 40% C2H5OH, with most of the remaining 60% being plain old H2O.
That's the best kind of spirit, but that is using an alternate definition from the topic.
 

skepticalbip

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The term 'spirit' seems vague. It seems to me that the term spirit is metaphysical, and has no real definition. Its just chemistry.
How is it "chemistry?"

LIfe is nothing but chemical reactions. Interrupted the chain of chemical reactions, no more life.
Right, I get that. "Spirit" would seem to be something less than chemistry unless you're just talking neural chemistry.
What, exactly do you mean when you say 'spirit'
The word 'spirit' has several meanings. Some like describing alcohol or a group's enthusiasm make sense. However, for those who mean some 'essential' or conscious part of themselves that continues on after they die, it is a word describing the hope that they rely on to ease their fear of death.
 

ramoss

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The term 'spirit' seems vague. It seems to me that the term spirit is metaphysical, and has no real definition. Its just chemistry.
How is it "chemistry?"

LIfe is nothing but chemical reactions. Interrupted the chain of chemical reactions, no more life.
Right, I get that. "Spirit" would seem to be something less than chemistry unless you're just talking neural chemistry.
What, exactly do you mean when you say 'spirit'
The word 'spirit' has several meanings. Some like describing alcohol or a group's enthusiasm make sense. However, for those who mean some 'essential' or conscious part of themselves that continues on after they die, it is a word describing the hope that they rely on to ease their fear of death.
In other words, a metaphysical concept that they can not accurately define, or show exists.
 

skepticalbip

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The term 'spirit' seems vague. It seems to me that the term spirit is metaphysical, and has no real definition. Its just chemistry.
How is it "chemistry?"

LIfe is nothing but chemical reactions. Interrupted the chain of chemical reactions, no more life.
Right, I get that. "Spirit" would seem to be something less than chemistry unless you're just talking neural chemistry.
What, exactly do you mean when you say 'spirit'
The word 'spirit' has several meanings. Some like describing alcohol or a group's enthusiasm make sense. However, for those who mean some 'essential' or conscious part of themselves that continues on after they die, it is a word describing the hope that they rely on to ease their fear of death.
In other words, a metaphysical concept that they can not accurately define, or show exists.
Not only can't define or show exists but have no rational reason to believe exists, only they really, really hope that it does. it's sorta like they believe that if they say it enough times it will come true.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Not only can't define or show exists but have no rational reason to believe exists, only they really, really hope that it does. it's sorta like they believe that if they say it enough times it will come true.
Right. At best it is an abstraction. Lots of spooky woo, at least in that religious sense. It's a ghost and ghosts aren't real.
 

southernhybrid

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You really don't understand the spirit? Aretha knew what spirit meant.
https://genius.com/Aretha-franklin-spirit-in-the-dark-lyrics
I-i'm getting the spirit in the dark
(Um-hum-hum)
I'm getting the spirit in the dark
(um-hum-hum)
People moving oh and they grooving
Just getting the spirit
(Um-hum-hum) in the dark
Tell me, sister, how do ya feel?
Tell me my brother-brother-brother
How do you feel?
A do you feel like dancing?
Get up and let's start dancing
Start getting the spirit
(Start getting in the spirit)
Spirit in the dark
(In the dark)

The spirit is the emotional side of life. It's what makes us wanna get up and start dancing. If anybody knew the spirit, it was Aretha.
 

T.G.G. Moogly

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Understanding what is being meant when people discuss Spirit, a pre-scientific term for to describe a very complicated concept, requires quite a lot of work.

There is a very complicated structure of communications, infrastructural systems, images, image interpreters, and other less easily comprehensible things like "stories" and "neural structures that exist in common configurations regularly impacted by such stories".

If you can look at the language of spirit, and then carefully, gingerly overlay your materialism to translate the words of the mystic into the words of an academic, it might dawn on more folks that there is an available compatibilism, assuming that the spiritualist can accept the slight 'offense' of being so crass as to say a fairy is a semi-shared hallucination generated by madness and stories and subtext between communications about it rather than a flesh and blood thing separate from and independent of humans who walks the world unseen, and would even were we no more
Not to mention the fact that it apparently doesn't stop at spirit 1. I would think that people who claim to have spirits must need to think about those spirits and whether they also have spirits to give their mundane spirit life some reality. Don't spirits ask "Is this all there is?" That's the logical progression anyway.
 

Jarhyn

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Understanding what is being meant when people discuss Spirit, a pre-scientific term for to describe a very complicated concept, requires quite a lot of work.

There is a very complicated structure of communications, infrastructural systems, images, image interpreters, and other less easily comprehensible things like "stories" and "neural structures that exist in common configurations regularly impacted by such stories".

If you can look at the language of spirit, and then carefully, gingerly overlay your materialism to translate the words of the mystic into the words of an academic, it might dawn on more folks that there is an available compatibilism, assuming that the spiritualist can accept the slight 'offense' of being so crass as to say a fairy is a semi-shared hallucination generated by madness and stories and subtext between communications about it rather than a flesh and blood thing separate from and independent of humans who walks the world unseen, and would even were we no more
Not to mention the fact that it apparently doesn't stop at spirit 1. I would think that people who claim to have spirits must need to think about those spirits and whether they also have spirits to give their mundane spirit life some reality. Don't spirits ask "Is this all there is?" That's the logical progression anyway.
So, imagine for a moment that "you" are going to be represented by a class structure, a software object.

Clearly you are not the whole thing as far as "awareness" goes. There are parts of you which you are not physically conscious of.

You are really a child class of the whole, with sibling classes within the parent. Some are more or less "friend" classes with accessible linkage between them but some are wholely private to one another, protected as it were by an absence of connection where it would need to exist.

You might expect most such things to be simple entities, like an shifter or an adder, or a simple transform.

Sometimes they are an idea of a whole person being inflated by your own capability of empathy into a personality that you can communicate with, talk to, and which thinks about things through a different physical structural "process" than the one that you experience as yourself.

Sometimes, that capability of empathy is for some fictional entity of formal description. When it is, it's called by those who use spiritualistic and mystic language as "fairy", or "angel" or "demon" or whatever else they may call the thing.

I call it as much only because "social/communication induced hallucinations" and "personality fragments" are a bit vague and don't really capture the significance of such experiences.
 

Rhea

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re-opening
 
Last edited:

Rhea

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Thread re-opened. Please cosider if you have a tangent topic to start a new thread for it.
 

Corona688

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Not an organized belief system, but it typically does come with a cascade of corollaries.
It's not consistent at all. It's often perceived as such but really isn't. The inverse set of "believes in god" is quite large and diverse (and leaves room for plenty of woo woo other than god...)
 

rousseau

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Thinking about this a little more, maybe there's also a reverse side to it: many find belief more fun.

Even for the secular it seems like we need some fantasy to airbrush a world that's actually pretty dull. Sports, music, film, art, collecting, drugs, sex, all things to distract from an otherwise not that interesting life. Maybe this speaks to why world religions have done such a great job at surviving, the storytelling is pretty appealing, almost magical.

There's a lot of toxicity involved, but I have to think there's many people who essentially prefer a story to the lack of one.
 

Jarhyn

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Thinking about this a little more, maybe there's also a reverse side to it: many find belief more fun.

Even for the secular it seems like we need some fantasy to airbrush a world that's actually pretty dull. Sports, music, film, art, collecting, drugs, sex, all things to distract from an otherwise not that interesting life. Maybe this speaks to why world religions have done such a great job at surviving, the storytelling is pretty appealing, almost magical.

There's a lot of toxicity involved, but I have to think there's many people who essentially prefer a story to the lack of one.
That's the thing though... You can have the fun and the story without the belief.

I've been doing it as much as possible all my life and things have gotten more fun, not less.

There is magic in there, and wonder, but it's all got to function in the space of the stuff we have, nonetheless.

I didn't need religion or belief to look at a tree in a garden and make a nice stick that I like walking with a lot... but people ask me if I am a wizard on occasion, and say they really like my stick and imply if I leave it laying around where they can see it that they will steal it.

The fact is I have no right to ask most people to believe me. I can't spend the time on most people to do it justice, so I don't tilt at those windmills.

At other times I stand as a windmill who is entirely myself such as to be tilted at by the incorrigible, mostly for amusement purposes.

I think we can take back fun from the lands of "belief" using the lever of materialist acknowledgement of neural entities.

Maybe then I might actually be able to discuss [redacted] in open forums with people who aren't going to go off the deep end and lie their asses off sewing disinformation rather than discussing how to test hypotheses, thinking that's what all the cool kids are doing.
 

rousseau

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Thinking about this a little more, maybe there's also a reverse side to it: many find belief more fun.

Even for the secular it seems like we need some fantasy to airbrush a world that's actually pretty dull. Sports, music, film, art, collecting, drugs, sex, all things to distract from an otherwise not that interesting life. Maybe this speaks to why world religions have done such a great job at surviving, the storytelling is pretty appealing, almost magical.

There's a lot of toxicity involved, but I have to think there's many people who essentially prefer a story to the lack of one.
That's the thing though... You can have the fun and the story without the belief.

I've been doing it as much as possible all my life and things have gotten more fun, not less.

Maybe for many the fun comes from both places, enjoying the fruits of science while also having a pleasant story on the side. Double the benefit.

I'm mainly thinking about the why, not the ought.
 

Jimmy Higgins

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Thinking about this a little more, maybe there's also a reverse side to it: many find belief more fun.
At a funeral the believe can offer statements about the decedent being in a better place etc.

The atheist saying, "When you die you rot won't cut it."
Or maybe more aptly, Theists can pretend that the loved one is still currently around and they can be happy with what remains to be, where as the Atheist must accept the impermanence of life and be content with what was.
 

Jarhyn

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Thinking about this a little more, maybe there's also a reverse side to it: many find belief more fun.

Even for the secular it seems like we need some fantasy to airbrush a world that's actually pretty dull. Sports, music, film, art, collecting, drugs, sex, all things to distract from an otherwise not that interesting life. Maybe this speaks to why world religions have done such a great job at surviving, the storytelling is pretty appealing, almost magical.

There's a lot of toxicity involved, but I have to think there's many people who essentially prefer a story to the lack of one.
That's the thing though... You can have the fun and the story without the belief.

I've been doing it as much as possible all my life and things have gotten more fun, not less.

Maybe for many the fun comes from both places, enjoying the fruits of science while also having a pleasant story on the side. Double the benefit.

I'm mainly thinking about the why, not the ought.
Well, I can't say exactly why human brains grow off the vine umbilical with nodes that are highly compatible with "fairy ideation", and which, when presented stories about fairies, readily empathize those personalities into existence inside themselves.

I've seen a couple people who are properly Infested with a practical  swarm of fairies, for example.

They're absolutely real things: interactions between nodes of their very human brain and stories that they have heard and tell to others and themselves.

But if you exist as nerves in your head and as nerves in your head have access to the power of reification through action, these things can in fact have real power within that landscape of control over who you are and what you think.

Someone could even potentially sell themselves to such a structure, until who they were once is now equivalent enough to being the subordinate party in an anglerfish relationship (see also:  simp).

Not all these stories are pleasant and fun, after all. Some can be terrifying.

We can call these "neurosis" or "psychosis", but really that fails to capture the full depth of the reality in any useful way as to allow someone to navigate that bizarre battle of wills within their own mind, and the various forms people have tried to discuss across the eons. Really, neurosis describes the character of the "hole" that is being filled in the human mind but it fails to capture the various things that hole can be filled with, sometimes with gnostic intent.

We know that the things we can cram into those cracks in our minds are often recorded of in stories, like DNA sitting in a cell waiting for the protein of the human mind to start transcribing it into new chunks of that selfsame protein's structure.

Even so, this ideation is literally dependent on the aptly named "Tinkerbell principle" with regards to fairies: disbelief, or at least a lack of caring and thus a guaranteed lack of contribution to their activity within the network, causes atrophy and eventual pruning of such systems.

Thinking about this a little more, maybe there's also a reverse side to it: many find belief more fun.
At a funeral the believe can offer statements about the decedent being in a better place etc.

The atheist saying, "When you die you rot won't cut it."
How about "when you die, the enduring pieces of yourself that you have infected others with via the open channel of their freely offered empathy will survive, to be seen and treated as they saw you in life. To some you were a villain. To others you might have been a hero. To many more you were a mere cardboard cutout placed on the street. Some day someone may even tell the stories that allow such empathetic constructs to propagate to someone who has the same core neural structures which originated the wave, and thus cause partial re-instantiations of relationships that were originally unique in you while you lived."

It's all material.

Of course there COULD be some kind of "exit interview", assuming that the universe is a research project, but that's unlikely and unimportant. That other thing I mentioned, the propagation of bits of your (soul?) Through empathy and stories being told? That's quite real, and trivially so.
 

rousseau

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Thinking about this a little more, maybe there's also a reverse side to it: many find belief more fun.

Even for the secular it seems like we need some fantasy to airbrush a world that's actually pretty dull. Sports, music, film, art, collecting, drugs, sex, all things to distract from an otherwise not that interesting life. Maybe this speaks to why world religions have done such a great job at surviving, the storytelling is pretty appealing, almost magical.

There's a lot of toxicity involved, but I have to think there's many people who essentially prefer a story to the lack of one.
That's the thing though... You can have the fun and the story without the belief.

I've been doing it as much as possible all my life and things have gotten more fun, not less.

Maybe for many the fun comes from both places, enjoying the fruits of science while also having a pleasant story on the side. Double the benefit.

I'm mainly thinking about the why, not the ought.
Well, I can't say exactly why human brains grow off the vine umbilical with nodes that are highly compatible with "fairy ideation", and which, when presented stories about fairies, readily empathize those personalities into existence inside themselves.

I read a bit of Buddhism from a number of centuries ago recently, and the frankness was interesting to read. Basically, respect those who get it, feel sorry for those who don't. The assumption being that the Buddhist stream of thought actually gets you to the logical conclusion of understanding.

We're all trying to figure it out, some are able to move at a faster pace. Some stop because they like the view. Personally, I wouldn't call any type of belief a neuroses. It's just a thing that happens in the minds of people who don't think super clearly, and there may be some logic to not thinking clearly.

We all have a bias here because we're largely on the edge of the bell curve, but we're really the outliers.
 

Jarhyn

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Thinking about this a little more, maybe there's also a reverse side to it: many find belief more fun.

Even for the secular it seems like we need some fantasy to airbrush a world that's actually pretty dull. Sports, music, film, art, collecting, drugs, sex, all things to distract from an otherwise not that interesting life. Maybe this speaks to why world religions have done such a great job at surviving, the storytelling is pretty appealing, almost magical.

There's a lot of toxicity involved, but I have to think there's many people who essentially prefer a story to the lack of one.
That's the thing though... You can have the fun and the story without the belief.

I've been doing it as much as possible all my life and things have gotten more fun, not less.

Maybe for many the fun comes from both places, enjoying the fruits of science while also having a pleasant story on the side. Double the benefit.

I'm mainly thinking about the why, not the ought.
Well, I can't say exactly why human brains grow off the vine umbilical with nodes that are highly compatible with "fairy ideation", and which, when presented stories about fairies, readily empathize those personalities into existence inside themselves.

I read a bit of Buddhism from a number of centuries ago recently, and the frankness was interesting to read. Basically, respect those who get it, feel sorry for those who don't. The assumption being that the Buddhist stream of thought actually gets you to the logical conclusion of understanding.

We're all trying to figure it out, some are able to move at a faster pace. Some stop because they like the view. Personally, I wouldn't call any type of belief a neuroses. It's just a thing that happens in the minds of people who don't think super clearly, and there may be some logic to not thinking clearly.

We all have a bias here because we're largely on the edge of the bell curve, but we're really the outliers.
Well, it's not about belief being the neurosis read my post again and let me know where you think I'm calling the nerurosis a belief per se, and we can look closer at that
 

Wiploc

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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.
That's not a description of an atheist worldview. It's a theistic fantasy of an atheistic worldview.

If you're saying that religion survives in part because theists lie about atheists, then I agree with you.
 
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