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Passions in Poetry

calling all atheists?

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serenity blaze
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0 posted 03-14-2004 07:09 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

I'm not even sure how to form this question, but it's been bugging me, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I'm very curious as to everybody's personal beliefs here, but I'm not sure if personal questions are proper.

I once thought philosophy was about finding answers, but I can see now where it's more a discipline of the mind--so if this should be deemed more suitable in another forum, then yes, it's fine with me. And I'm certainly not intending to single any one out--and nope--that's not exactly true. Although it's presumptuous of me to assume to know anyone's beliefs,& although I'm actually hoping to hear from all of you, I confess I hope to hear most specificaly from Brad, because if I'm not mistaken Brad? you are an atheist? (If I'm mistaken, I still feel confident you will clear that up.) And no, not picking on you--if you can stand a bit of shmooze, I like you Brad.

But what I'm wondering here, is how an atheist copes.

I have read the arguments that salvation is a comfortable delusion, convenient to the mind, (even a virus) and I have argued for the favor of delusions, wondering what is the harm of that?

My general philosophy regarding personal beliefs/religions has been this:

"If it gives a person comfort, and helps them to be a better person? Then why not?"

The end justifies the means.

But I have a bit of a split mind, and I assume most do; I have a bit of the scientist in me that wants things proven. So I find myself sympathetic toward the agnostic/atheist.

Consider it a crisis of faith if need be, but what I really want to know is this--

Does denying the existance of God mean the denial of the existance of the soul?

If it does?

Does the acknowledgment of that premise preclude the possibility of life after death?

I have trouble with that.

So I'm sitting here wondering--I concede that logic might dictate endings, and yet I can't conceive of them.

I'm wondering too, on a personal level, that if the atheist believes (what? tell me) that "this" is all there is, what is there to give a person hope--or even define moral distinctions?

How do you personally come to terms with the loss of loved ones if this is all that is?

How do you deal with the fact that there is no just reward for just living "right"? "Why bother?" comes to mind...

sigh. I hope you all know what I'm asking better than I do.

?


Opeth
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1 posted 03-14-2004 08:33 AM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Serenity,

I am much delighted that you are mainly directing this post towards Brad because now I hear a certain melody playing in my head... and it goes like this...

Shave-and-a-hair-cut...

serenity blaze
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2 posted 03-14-2004 08:44 AM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Opeth? I directed it mainly at Brad because I thought he might be kind to me. (He has been in the past so I thought he might be a good person to ask.)

But you are welcome, if not MOST welcome--and I apologize if that seemed like an exclusion to you.

I'm just not in the mood to toss down a gauntlet, honestly.

So come back you. Tell me what you think?
Essorant
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3 posted 03-14-2004 07:00 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Something may not be believed in or not believed in unless it exists.
Brad
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4 posted 03-14-2004 07:17 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

quote:
I once thought philosophy was about finding answers, but I can see now where it's more a discipline of the mind--so if this should be deemed more suitable in another forum, then yes, it's fine with me.


To me, philosophy is about dialogue.  Religion is a lecture.

quote:
And I'm certainly not intending to single any one out--and nope--that's not exactly true. Although it's presumptuous of me to assume to know anyone's beliefs,& although I'm actually hoping to hear from all of you, I confess I hope to hear most specificaly from Brad, because if I'm not mistaken Brad? you are an atheist? (If I'm mistaken, I still feel confident you will clear that up.) And no, not picking on you--if you can stand a bit of shmooze, I like you Brad.


I like shmooze.   But, yes, I'm an atheist. Metaphysically, I'm more of an agnostic I suppose, but I live my life as if there were no God.

quote:
But what I'm wondering here, is how an atheist copes.


Copes with what? Life is hard with or without God. One's self? I make plenty of mistakes, I am petty, can be jealous and foolish, and many more things that I don't particular like. I try to get better, step by step.

quote:
I have read the arguments that salvation is a comfortable delusion, convenient to the mind, (even a virus) and I have argued for the favor of delusions, wondering what is the harm of that?


For most people, I suspect there is no harm. For some, the world doesn't fit their belief so they ignore the world, they see the world as less than it is for something more than it is. As far as I can tell, what they want is a photograph.

quote:
My general philosophy regarding personal beliefs/religions has been this:

"If it gives a person comfort, and helps them to be a better person? Then why not?"


Because it also leads to bad things happening.

quote:
The end justifies the means.


That's the problem. The end, in this case, is the end of the world, the conversion or death of people who think differently than you do (Sometimes, it's just a slightly different belief), or the withholding of material things (things like medicine) for the proof of belief.

quote:
But I have a bit of a split mind, and I assume most do; I have a bit of the scientist in me that wants things proven. So I find myself sympathetic toward the agnostic/atheist.


Actually, that's still the theist in you. Empirical sciences don't 'prove' anything, they look for descriptions that describe what they see. They then test those descriptions again and again. It's the uncertainty that makes them successful. Perhaps the hardest thing to understand is that you can't be right if you can't be wrong. In other words, you can't win the game if you don't play it or play it by the rules.

quote:
Consider it a crisis of faith if need be, but what I really want to know is this--

Does denying the existance of God mean the denial of the existance of the soul?


For me, yes. Or rather, I don't understand any description of the soul.

quote:
If it does?

Does the acknowledgment of that premise preclude the possibility of life after death?

I have trouble with that.


Yes, but I think it's true that we can't imagine our own death. Not in any real sense. Have you ever fallen asleep for a moment, woke up, and then realized that it was six hours later? Death is when you don't wake up. This is really a complex thing, however, for, in a certain sense, if this description is correct, then there is no experience of death.  

quote:
I'm wondering too, on a personal level, that if the atheist believes (what? tell me) that "this" is all there is, what is there to give a person hope--or even define moral distinctions?


"That 'this' is all there is" is, to my way of thinking, the result of belief in something more. If that's how you're thinking, then you just haven't really looked at 'this' yet. Moral distinctions are made in the same way they always have been. We still have to choose between "God told me to kill my parents" and "God told me to honor my parents." I don't see what that "God told me to" really adds.

quote:
How do you personally come to terms with the loss of loved ones if this is all that is?


Honor their memory. Write poems about them. Counter-factuals are still useful tools here. What do you think they would want you to do, if they were still alive? What would you want others to do, if you died?

Have you seen "AI"? I found it a deeply disturbing movie. A thousand years under the water looking at a blue faerie. That's not love and that's certainly not human. In the back of my head, I kept thinking, "Is this what some people actually want?"

quote:
How do you deal with the fact that there is no just reward for just living "right"? "Why bother?" comes to mind...


The reason to live 'right' is caring about other people, or perhaps living 'right' is to care about other people. You bother for the same reason.

Local Rebel
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5 posted 03-14-2004 07:45 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Of course you realize that you're asking for an essay.  (Well, whether or not you're asking for one I'm working on one... )  

mo later
Essorant
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6 posted 03-14-2004 09:22 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

If one disbelieve in Jove, that is once an atheist.  If one disbelieve in Jove, and Ra, that is twice an atheist, if one disbelieve in Jove, Ra, and Shiva, that is thrice an atheist, if one disbelieve in Jove, Ra, and Shiva, and Odin, that is four times an atheist...
serenity blaze
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7 posted 03-14-2004 11:59 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Thank you very much, and Reb? I look forward to the essay too.

Now I believe I'll try to sleep a bit.

Maybe I'll be able to think a little more clearly after I "back-up" a few mental files.

Nite, all. And thanks again, Brad. But yes, I'll be back.  

[This message has been edited by serenity blaze (03-15-2004 12:01 AM).]

Essorant
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8 posted 03-15-2004 12:23 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Good night Serenity
Susan Caldwell
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9 posted 03-15-2004 11:28 AM       View Profile for Susan Caldwell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Susan Caldwell

I wasn't going to get into this however *frown*  what the heck does this (below) mean??


"If one disbelieve in Jove, that is once an atheist.  If one disbelieve in Jove, and Ra, that is twice an atheist, if one disbelieve in Jove, Ra, and Shiva, that is thrice an atheist, if one disbelieve in Jove, Ra, and Shiva, and Odin, that is four times an atheist..."
jbouder
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10 posted 03-15-2004 12:01 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

Susan:

I think it's the neo-pagan viewpoint that all world religions (past and present) lead to the same truth, only from different directions.  By token of this view, adherents to Jewish, Christian, Moslem orthodoxy, or any other monotheistic view that rejects the notion that all roads lead to God, are one step from complete atheism.

I could be wrong.  Neo-paganism is far from being my forte.

Jim
Essorant
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11 posted 03-15-2004 12:19 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Atheism  


"Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods"

(From dictionary.com)
Susan Caldwell
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12 posted 03-15-2004 12:33 PM       View Profile for Susan Caldwell   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Susan Caldwell

Does this imply there are degrees to being atheist?  

I always believed an atheist was pretty much what the dictionary said.  An agnostic was/is someone that believes there may be an higher power but is not sure what or who it may be.  

To me...once..twice, and so on, the atheist implies degrees....

Maybe I am not understanding this...
serenity blaze
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13 posted 03-15-2004 12:39 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

ah, thank you Ess, for clearing that up. You have a gentle way of making your points that I appreciate very much.

Now that I've gotten some sleep (yes, Cap, good to go for another week as you say) I'm re-reading this, and I realized something about myself--and it's just this:

Whenever I ask a bunch of questions, you can bet on the fact, that there is just one that I'm trying not to ask. It's not a nice question either, which is why I had problems with it to begin with. It's just that--even with a strong faith, I find it difficult at best to understand (or yes, Brad--rationalize) what the "point" of life might be. It was then that I thought that if I didn't have a strong moral rationale to cling to, I would have "checked" myself out of the library a long time ago. So logically, I had to question what keeps the atheist going. I also discussed with another Pipster this unfathomable "will to live". I told him (hey Ringo! ) that I didn't think that the desire to live was a conscious decision--if it were I would "allow myself" a ticket out everytime I fell ill. (Which is less often of late, thankfully)

So that's what I was getting at--I just thought it was a whole lot nicer to dance around it than to just blurt--"What prevents you from committing an act of suicide?" (mea culpa)

(I'm working on diplomacy, folks.)

But anyhoo, that's what I was thinking about, and I hope that didn't screw up Arnies essay either, I'm still looking forward to that.

[This message has been edited by serenity blaze (03-16-2004 10:19 PM).]

jbouder
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14 posted 03-15-2004 12:54 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

I think there are some general categories of atheism and agnosticism.  Some I've read about are:

1. Atheists - deny the existence of God or the existence of gods

2. Hard Agnostics - one cannot know whether or not God exists

3. Soft Agnostics - do not know whether or not God exists

The words tend to lose their precise meanings if we broaden them to encompass more (for example, by saying a monotheist is atheistic as to polytheism gets a little confusing).

JMO.

Jim
Essorant
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15 posted 03-15-2004 03:10 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

If people believe and choose to call gods false and nonexistant, then they are worthy of the same names that go around to people who see one God as false and disbelieve in Him (if we are going to continue name calling that is); but rightly, if we  segregate "theism" as "monotheism" and "polytheism" I suppose monotheists should actually be called polyatheists.

Opeth
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16 posted 03-15-2004 03:33 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

"I have read the arguments that salvation is a comfortable delusion, convenient to the mind, (even a virus) and I have argued for the favor of delusions, wondering what is the harm of that?"

~ One such harm I can fathom about the delusion is if it takes over the "self" so much that it causes the person to proclaim his/her delusion as truth; subsequently forcing that "truth" onto others who don't want or need it. The harm is dealt onto others, not necessarily the self.

"If it gives a person comfort, and helps them to be a better person? Then why not?"

~ I don't see any problem with a such a delussion if it gives a person comfort and helps to make them a better person.

"Does denying the existance of God mean the denial of the existance of the soul?"

~ I guess it comes down to how one interprets "soul."  The Egyptians belief in the soul continues on in mainstream christianity and other religions too. Myself being an agnostic, I believe the possibility of a spirit or soul if you will could exist after death. If God does not exist, then I believe that once one dies that is it... and I have no heartburn with that.

"How do you personally come to terms with the loss of loved ones if this is all that is?"

~ Brad, put it rather well.

"How do you deal with the fact that there is no just reward for just living "right"?"

~ Why should there be a reward? Why not just live your life to the best of your ability?

"Why bother?" comes to mind..."

~ Why bother with living "right?" Well, let's ask those who bombed the towers, if we could... they believed they did the right thing and hoped that the future of their people would have a better chance for a better place to live.

~ btw, Serenity, I took no negative meaning in your original post. That is why I added the  

Cool post.


"You sleep in the night yet the night and the silent water still so dark."
serenity blaze
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17 posted 03-15-2004 03:40 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Thanks Opeth. I worry about offending, because well, I seem to be quite good at it, even accidentally!

And does "right" living have to be rewarded?

sigh. I think I'm just looking for a little parity at this point in time. And being curious, I was wondering if somebody had a better answer to "coping" than I.

Smile.

Methinks everybody has better coping mechanisms than I...

Hugs you.
Opeth
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18 posted 03-15-2004 03:56 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Your welcome, Serenity.

In my mind, the question always ends up at which right? What might be right to some may be wrong to others. It all depends on various factors such as one's culture, faith, nation, etc.

For example, the bombings of the twin towers in NY was abominable to me, but I can empathize with those who commited the act. To them, it was the right thing to do... and I understand that and if I were one of them I may very well have done the same thing. Of course, there are many rights and wrongs which are regarding to be so by the vast majority of all who walk the earth, but there are other rights and wrongs which can only be labeled as such depending on those previous mentioned factors.

And I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the phsyiological, psychological and socialogical factors which pertain to any particular human being.

"You sleep in the night yet the night and the silent water still so dark."

Opeth
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19 posted 03-15-2004 04:11 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

"But what I'm wondering here, is how an atheist copes."

~ As an agnostic, I don't ever look at it as coping. In fact, it is just the opposite of those who have faith in a particular god - they are the ones who are coping with life as they lean on their crutch to get them by. I don't cope. I merely live my life as I see fit.


"You sleep in the night yet the night and the silent water still so dark."

serenity blaze
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20 posted 03-15-2004 04:42 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

Opeth? nodding but laughing too.

Now you just reminded me that I'd asked that "coping" question of one of my real life friends. She told me that I'd been coping my entire life.

OH.

"izzat what you call it?"

sheesh.



And I'm still committed to a belief system that is sort of a mix of everything, but on this side of the screen, black and white logic was looking purty good...

I think I'll go write something now.

Thanks again everybody. (and Reb, I'm still waiting--and Brad, especially, thank you for being so nice to me after I'd spent a couple of years of being a "brat" to YOU! You've been a gentleman and I thank you.)
jbouder
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21 posted 03-15-2004 04:55 PM       View Profile for jbouder   Email jbouder   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for jbouder

quote:
In fact, it is just the opposite of those who have faith in a particular god - they are the ones who are coping with life as they lean on their crutch to get them by.


That is assuming, of course, that the most believers are capable of accomplishing by leaning on their so-called "crutch" is "getting by."  But I just don't see history and experience bearing this out ... if I and my colleagues take great risks because of our shared belief in God's faithful providence and blessing on our good work, and attribute the resultant great achievements to God's concurrent providence, how is this "crutch" something to be ashamed of?

Jim

Opeth
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22 posted 03-15-2004 06:52 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

"That is assuming, of course, that the most believers are capable of accomplishing by leaning on their so-called "crutch" is "getting by."

~ You are assuming correctly.

"But I just don't see history and experience bearing this out ..."

~ Whose experience, not mine.... and on which historical facts? The facts of ancient Egyptian religion and how they are so similiar to Judaism, which in turn is so similiar to Christianity?

"... if I and my colleagues take great risks because of our shared belief in God's faithful providence"

~ Great risks? Who? This country is a foundry for christianity. I, on the other hand (and please spare me that I am feeling sorry for myself because I am not, I am merely expressing a point), have had to forfeit my naval future, among other aspects of my life, because of my beliefs... if only I were able to just say, "baaah" and become a sheep, I would of done much better in my life, not only socially, but professionally. Have you laid down all of your possesiions to the poor and truly picked up your cross as your saviour would have you? I don't think so.

"...and blessing on our good work, and attribute the resultant great achievements to God's concurrent providence,"

~ So, only through God's concurrent providence good works shall arise? Give me a break. I know about good works.

"...how is this "crutch" something to be ashamed of?"

~ Who said you should be ashamed of your crutch? Not I. Pick up you crutch and carry on. Some of us don't need crutches, that is all.




"You sleep in the night yet the night and the silent water still so dark."
Brad
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23 posted 03-15-2004 07:24 PM       View Profile for Brad   Email Brad   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Brad

I'm looking forward to LR's essay as well.

If you're an aetheist, how does one keep from self-termination?

Uh, because it would hurt?

Opeth gets it right, I think, when he says I live my life as I see fit. I don't want to advocate aetheism as such. If you believe in God, then believe in God, I have nothing to offer in its place. But I don't accept questions like, "What is the point?" As if a single answer suffices. I've written poems about milk, ants, and changing diapers. To me, all of these were points.

Religion sets up the question so it can answer it. Stop asking it and you'll see, I don't know, that the reason for living is really nothing more than a good cup of coffee in the morning, reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in translation no less), watching your kids grow up, being amazed at 5,000 or more birds perch in front of your house, arguing evolution with Stephan, worrying about skin cancer, arguing with your spouse, thinking that Rupert didn't win Survivor was wrong, crying after 911, learning a second and then a third language, loving more than one person, realizing that Derrida is hard but not impossible, playing barbies with your daughter, and what the hell is going to happen next.  

One point? Give me a break.

    

[This message has been edited by Brad (03-16-2004 11:55 PM).]

serenity blaze
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24 posted 03-15-2004 07:36 PM       View Profile for serenity blaze   Email serenity blaze   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for serenity blaze

On a good day, I believe all of this:

"Religion sets up the question so it can answer it. Stop asking it and you'll see, I don't know, that the reason for living is really nothing more than a good cup of coffee in the morning, reading Gabriel Garcia Marquez (in translation no less), watching your kids grow up, being amazed at 5,000 or more birds perch in front of your house, arguing evolution with Stephan, worrying about skin cancer, arguing with your spouse, thinking that Rupert didn't win Survivor was wrong, crying after 911, learning a second and then a third language, loving more than one person, realizing that Derrida is hard but not impossible, playing barbies with your daughter, and what the hell is going to happen next."

On a bad day I don't. When bad days start piling up, one up the other--and the days turn out to be a year, sometimes more?I think a bullet in the head wouldn't hurt.

not an invitation for sympathy, we all have our moments. But what gets me through mine is a firm spiritual foundation. I was genuinely puzzled as to how someone can do without that during the times we all have that can only be termed as "hopelessness."

I thank you again for your patience.

And you want a break? Granted.   I think I'll give myself one while I'm at it.

And yes, chuckle, I know I ask for a lot. But if you're gonna ask for a little, you might as well ask for it all.



we aren't so different, you and I.

A non-philosophic hug to ya Brad.

  


 
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