Statesboro, GA, USA
This reminds me of the use of 'selfish'. You can, of course, argue that any human action is selfish (Ross did it to Pheobe in Friends if I recall), but if you accept that argument, then you have to start saying things like a good kind of selfish and a bad kind of selfish.
Why not reject the definition and use the word the way we've always used it?
I'm agreeing with you here. That's always been the problem with egoism, all the way from Hume to Ayn Rand. lt involves a much too arbitary shift of language, based on dubious philosophy, while sweeping under the rug the insights of the past which don't happen to fit the philosophy.
None of these answer the question people seem to want to know:
I'm pretty sure none of the above can answer that question. We choose to be satisfied by any particular answer and we shrug off the rest.
But why are you a priori, ruling out communication of a consciousness that created the universe? And if you say you're not, what about your demands about what shape that communication should take? If the communication is not exhaustive, leaving some mystery ("the rest"), are you left unsatisfied merely because it is not exhaustive? The question just interests me, since you seem to be saying, "if I can't understand as God, I'll not believe in God". But from a scriptural point of view, this was the problem with sin from the beginning ... a desire, a need for a knowledge which puts God in dock, and we ourselves on the bench. "Eve, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God".
If there's any insight to aetheism, it's that metaphysical questions and answers don't matter that much to our day to day lives.
Why should they?
That's not exactly so. An awareness of "God" (even if and when particular expressions of it have been faulty), has been basic to humanity for a very long time. Paganism itself attests to it. The persistence of such a belief, despite the scientific age, attests to it. Therefore it's much easier to view atheism as a kind of metaphysical realization of it's own. Many other atheist thinkers have expressed it in such terms. Consider Nietzsche when he wrote:
"...we philosophers and 'free spirits' feel ourselves irradiated as by a new dawn by the report that the 'old God is dead'; our hearts overflow with gratitude, astonishment, presentiment, and expectation. At last the horizon seems open once more, granting even that it is not bright; our ships can at last put out to sea in face of every danger; every hazard is again permitted to the discerner; the sea, our sea, again lies open before us; perhaps never before did such an 'open sea' exist." (from "The Joyful Wisdom").
And many other thinkers have expressed the same kind of thought, even if less animated that Fred's description.
The same goes for the assertion that metaphysical insights (whether positive or negative), do not matter when it comes to day to day living. Not all atheists have shared your view. I thought that Aldous Huxley was being very transparent when he wrote the following:
"I had motive for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics, he is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. … For myself, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation, sexual and political."(from "Ends and Means")
So at least some atheists ... probably more than some, have seen this essentially negative metaphyscial assertion, as something which can positively be acted upon. In that sense, if it is not a 'religion' per se, it is at least a religious type of belief, a kind of metanarrative which may give a more comfortable latitude, to determine one's own ethical choices, without the bothersome questions of sin or righteousness.
Admittedly, Nietzsche and Huxley aren't much like your description of atheism. But even you Brad, do not stop at a personal agnosticism, in most of your posts, though I see you try to hold that tone. Your assertion that metaphysical claims are ultimately irrelevant to life, is itself a metaphysical assertion that you obviously feel frees people from some kind of misconception, or illusion, about reality. It doesn't matter that you are not overtly passionate about spreading that kind of knowledge, you nonetheless hold a stoic consistency about it, and offer plenty of reasoning toward that end. You repudiate anyone saying any world-view is "superior" to another, but basically imply that those like Ron, myself, Jim, are believing in something that is meaningless and irrelevant to daily life. I'm not insulted at that, as much as I am interested in the fact that you tend to camoflage the fact, that what you are doing is claiming to know a metaphysical, universal, truth, albeit a naturalistic one. I would tend to say you are mistaken in your assertion, rather that chiding you from doing what is more compatible with my world-view ... namely saying, "I'm right about this, and this is why I think so."
Good decisions are easy to make in hindsight, when we're not blinded by the emotions of day-to-day life. Philosophy, religion, metaphysics, good literature, these are all attempts to find answers before we're faced with the really tough questions.
Ron, I really agree with you. But three out of the four you mentioned, aren't necessarily religious in any sense, yet they still attempt to "find answers" beyond the short-term. Brad is essentially asking, if this tendency can be found in a naturalistic schema, why is the Christian faith necessary, or better? Why accept anything beyond space-time, to find such answers? (I'm of course putting questions in Brad's mouth, but I'm interested in how you would answer this). I'll reserve my answer for later.
But what I don't agree with is forcing the paranoia on people that things that they refer to don't exist or aren't real.
I think Hush has got you there Ess ... I would call someone who believes in a 'Spaghetti Monster' paranoid, not the person who insists that it isn't real. The last time I heard someone seriously saying something like that, they were in 4-point restraints.