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Labelling Atheism

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Grinch
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0 posted 01-25-2006 06:52 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Is Atheism generally good?

This stems from a conversation about the pros and cons of religion in which a friend remarked, ďReligion is generally goodĒ. It would seem logical that if religion is generally good the lack of religion has obviously got to be bad.

Any thoughts?
Huan Yi
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1 posted 01-25-2006 07:33 PM       View Profile for Huan Yi   Email Huan Yi   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Huan Yi


Otto Rank labeled psychology  as pseudo  religion.
Most people will believe in something, even if professed as nothing.

Christopher
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2 posted 01-25-2006 08:19 PM       View Profile for Christopher   Email Christopher   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Christopher

I would disagree with the concept that being an atheist means you can't be religious. Religion isn't necessarily about God or gods. One's morals, beliefs, and disbeliefs even, can be a part of a personal religion.
Local Rebel
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3 posted 01-25-2006 10:40 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

A prime example of that would be Confucianism Chris, as it was founded to be an ethical paradigm and without a deity.

I don't think Atheism and Deity worship are necessarily polar opposites.  Both assume absolute positions.  There IS a god.  There IS NOT a god.  The opposite of either though would seem more to be, I know no god.
hush
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4 posted 01-26-2006 12:04 AM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

I don't think that either religion or atheism are generally "good" or "bad." I think it depends on how you apply them. There is a difference between someone simply accepting religion as a part of life because their parents took them to church and someone exploring their religion and believing in it fully, just as their is a difference between applying atheism toward a cynical worldview versus self-assuredness, or whatever. I'm neither (I'm just LR's definition of opposite ) so I'm not trying to apply stereotypes to either- just a sort of general example.
littlewing
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5 posted 01-26-2006 11:53 AM       View Profile for littlewing   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for littlewing

I don't believe that ANY belief, religion, practice, whatever it may be named, is inherently bad - it is moreso the person practicing it where the battle between good vs. evil may lie.

Spirituality comes from within.  It is a personal quest for each individual.  
Stephanos
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6 posted 01-26-2006 04:53 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

quote:
I would disagree with the concept that being an atheist means you can't be religious. Religion isn't necessarily about God or gods. One's morals, beliefs, and disbeliefs even, can be a part of a personal religion.

Chris,

Can I quote you, when someone tries to tell me, simplistically, that atheism is not "religious" in nature?  You've confirmed something I've seen all along, and you're right.  Atheism is simply another way to "stack the facts", a metaphysical presupposition, that ends up attributing personal god-like qualities to whichever first principles it lands on ... particularly nature itself.  


Though I've always felt it required a bit too much "faith" for me.           


I think the better question, is whether Atheism or any particular religious belief is true.  Because what is judged "good" is not bare philosophical atheism, but the deeds of atheists.  And Christians, for example, would have no problem conceding that Atheists do "good" things ... moral and all the rest.  Christians would only try to point out, that the whole idea of goodness is really out of sync with the atheistic framework, and that at their best atheists are inconsistently philanthropic ... being made in the image of God, with a moral awareness, and with fascinating personal abilities.  Of course that doesn't mean that they are "righteous" in spite of themselves, for the Bible talks about a necessary righteousness that comes only from God, in a more passive and direct way.  But that's a whole other thread.    


Stephen.
Essorant
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7 posted 01-27-2006 12:47 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Try explaining atheism without referring to God, gods, or theism.  I doubt you can.  Hardly an "independently viable alternative theory" to theism.  Must be related to ID
Grinch
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8 posted 01-27-2006 03:23 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


Essorant,

ďTry explaining atheism without referring to God, gods, or theism.  I doubt you can.Ē

I honestly couldnít, but then again Iím not trying to explain a viable alternative theory like ID.

I agree Atheism is Ďlikeí ID in one respect Ė it is after all based solely on disbelief, but Atheists, unlike the proponents of ID, arenít trying to find an alternative theory, they donít think thereís a need for a supernatural entity in the first place let alone something to replace it. Atheism doesnít pretend to have an alternative they simply are by default the alternative to a belief in god.

You canít preach or teach Atheism to gain disbelievers, its followers donít actively seek converts like most religious groups, you either believe or disbelieve in god. If you believe youíre religious and if you donít youíre an Atheist anyone sitting on the fence is Agnostic (theyíre arguably Atheists too in the purest sense).

Atheism is Ďlikeí a religion in the same way that Atheism is Ďlikeí ID  Ė superficially - it has followers or believers (or disbelievers to be more precise) but it has no priests, no holy book or spiritual texts, no symbolism, no chants and no discernable or rigid moral framework. It has none of the trappings of a recognisable religion, so can it really be classed as a religion? It doesnít after all rely on a belief in anything so much as pure disbelief when it comes to one thing in particular Ė itís wholly based on an argument against the existence of god and wouldnít exist without it.

Another thought Ė would Agnosticism be a religion using such an open definition, what about followers of bowling or wrestling? Would being a member of a fan club automatically make you religious? All these things are like a religion in some small respects but are they religions? I donít think so but Iím willing to be coverted.


Essorant
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9 posted 01-27-2006 05:04 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Grinch

"...they donít think thereís a need for a supernatural entity in the first place let alone something to replace it"


I don't think every atheist makes his hallway so narrow.  Just because one disbelieves in God, doesn't mean he must disbelieve anything at all is a supernatural entity.  For example, you may disbelieve in God, but still believe that Nature or a part of Nature, humans, or other beings, or even objects are supernatural.  How is right to force the stipulation "no supernature" on a word that only literally expresses "no god" and on people that may not believe in a God or a god but still believe in a supernatural entity in Nature nevertheless?


"Atheism doesnít pretend to have an alternative they simply are by default the alternative to a belief in god."


I may agree.  But how do they say their belief makes sense when they must point at and refer to the selfsame entity or entities they say is/are not there to begin with?   If it is not there then how and why are they pointing and referring at it in the first place?  If you point at yourself in the mirror, and expect something more, if that something more is not there, that doesn't remove your existance.  Instead I think it just means you are expecting too much, or something that presently doesn't belong to you and something that perhaps may never belong to you.  There's no nonexistance in that equation to me.  It is only an expectation of something to be something else, or have something else than it is or has.  Everything still exists.  

"It doesnít after all rely on a belief in anything so much as pure disbelief when it comes to one thing in particular Ė itís wholly based on an argument against the existence of god and wouldnít exist without it."

I must disagree.
I think atheism inevitablly relies on theism.  Without theism and the belief in God what does Atheism have to negate and contradict?  To me it seems that negation and contradiction of theism is what makes it what it is to begin with.  Without theism, it has nothing to naysay.

Most horseriders ride a horse because they believe in the horse they ride.  Atheism, though, rides a horse it doesn't believe in: theism, backwards.  But no matter how much it disbelieves though, the horse still pulls thro and moves on.  That doesn't betoken weakness to me, but rather truth and strength.


[This message has been edited by Essorant (01-27-2006 08:47 PM).]

Katerie
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10 posted 01-27-2006 07:51 PM       View Profile for Katerie   Email Katerie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Katerie

Religion is good if the decision to accept said beliefs are thought through thouroughly, and not simply accepted for the sake of tradition.  As displayed in many great works of literature, including Fahrenheit 451, and The Fountainhead, the acceptance of ideas without proper thought lead to ignorance rather than "strength in numbers."  Atheism and religion can only be labeled negatively by those not on a single given term's side.  If you are a religious person, and are essentially devout, then I'm sure you'll say that to believe there is no god is foolish.  As an Atheist, one would argue that the possibility of such higher power existing is simply not present.  It depends on your experiences, quite frankly.

Like a ship blown from it's mooring by a wind off the sea...

Local Rebel
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11 posted 01-27-2006 07:53 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Well Ess, here's the thing.  I have often said that I am an agnostic Christian.  What does that mean?  It means that my ethical system is derived from the Christian heritage that surrounds me -- but that I don't adhere to, or require any supernatural belief in order to enact that ethos.

Think of it like this, there are John 3:16 Christians -- who would dwell on the deity of Jesus.

I am a Matthew 25:31-46 agnostic Christian -- here's what Matthew says;

quote:

The Sheep and the Goats

    31"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

    34"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

    37"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

    40"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'

    41"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'

    44"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'

    45"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'

    46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."




Of course I take the eternal punishment and reward part as metaphorical -- but find there to be little reason to be concerned about the deity of God or Jesus and moreso about my own behaviour towards my human family.

That same ethos can be extended into the ecological backdrop that enables and empowers us (while threatening and constraining us) still without regard to supernatural beings or forces.
Stephanos
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12 posted 01-28-2006 05:35 PM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

Reb:
quote:
Well Ess, here's the thing.  I have often said that I am an agnostic Christian.  What does that mean?  It means that my ethical system is derived from the Christian heritage that surrounds me -- but that I don't adhere to, or require any supernatural belief in order to enact that ethos.

Think of it like this, there are John 3:16 Christians -- who would dwell on the deity of Jesus.

I am a Matthew 25:31-46 agnostic Christian

Yeah, what does that mean?          


I think you would do better to merely say "I'm not a Christian.  But I'm a moral person", than to reconstruct the meaning of the word "Christian".  Of course the word has already been stretched (extra-Biblically) to mean many things, but your statement goes beyond even these.


Following an ethos that merely "surrounds" you, is not necessarily a virtuous claim.  It does fit the egoistic "contract theory" of Lock and others, but doesn't deserve the epithet "Christian".  Besides, Jesus did not exactly establish any new ethos at all.  The ethical insight of Pagan philosophers, and religions, before him, had the right ethos.  If anything he only amplified the signal ... widening the jurisdiction of the law, rather than changing it's personality.  Just read the appendix in C.S. Lewis' "Abolition of Man", where Lewis presents a basic harmonization of ethical systems, to show that they are more alike (and have always been so) than people admit.  So is the approval, and sporadic practice of a prevailing ethical system "enough" to call yourself Christian?  There are some things Guatama said that I respect, recognize as truth, and practice, but I don't call myself a "Christian Buddhist".  I am a Christian.  You are an agnostic.  


The thing is, is that Jesus himself never made a distinction between any "kinds" of Christians.  John 3:16 and Matthew 25:31-46 give us elements of the same whole.  The agnosticism of Matthew 25 is not about who Jesus himself is, (those being judged call him 'Lord'), but of the nature of the forgotten recipients of their kindnesses.  The agnosticism that is illustrated, is of the organic connection between their good works to the "common" needy people in life, and the God that they worship who is anything but common.  This is seen elsewhere in Jesus' teaching where he said "don't let your left hand know what your right hand does" (Matthew 6:3).  That can't be interpreted as, "it's not necessary that both hands serve God".


So on scripture's own terms, in context, this is not the definition of a "Christian".  Who Jesus is is always central to that definition.  Without it, you have an ethos which is neither new, or greatly different from what has always been.  There have always been moralizers.  Now whether those moralizers have had a rational reason behind their morals beyond social contracts and egoism, is another question.  Without God, I don't think so.  For true morals will always, at some points, contradict self interest, and the "crowd" mentality.  It will cause you to deny both yourself and the mob.  And without an ultimate judge, who represents more than human subjectivism, all ethical systems are doubtful.  


Stephen.      
Local Rebel
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13 posted 01-28-2006 05:50 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

I do know one thing that is not new, and that is for Christians to be trying to tell me who I am or what I am -- or more importantly that I'm not one of them.  Don't worry -- I'm not one of you.

The reason I use the term Agnostic Christian is for the same one that Einstien described himself as an 'Agnostic Jew'.  The cultures that produce us are important to identify so that our thought processes and biases are understood.

I'm not an agnostic Jew.  I'm not an agnostic Hindu.  I'm not an agnostic Zoroastrian.  I'm an agnostic Christian.

The point that you missed in your last post though is what DID differentiate the Christian ethos.  Love your enemy.
Stephanos
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14 posted 01-29-2006 09:08 AM       View Profile for Stephanos   Email Stephanos   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Stephanos's Home Page   View IP for Stephanos

LR,

Einstein was geneologically Jewish, hence the name.  So I would naturally understand his self-identifying statement to mean: "in my physical heritage I am Jewish, in my religious views, I am agnostic".  I would feel perfectly comfortable calling him an agnostic Jew, for that reason. However, I would ask you, did he try to expound on Jewish scripture and reinterpret it according to his own agnosticism?  If so, religious Jews would be apt to point out that his religious views were anything but "Jewish".  And they would be right.  However, even the religious Jews would have no problem (that I can see) identifying him as "Jewish" by birth.


Your identification with "Christian" doesn't have the advantage of physical descent ... to really substantiate your use of the term.  The only way you can really use the term, is in a religious sense.  This is evident by your usage of the scripture in Matthew ... setting it over and against the scripture in John.  You really shouldn't be surprised when a Christian points out what he perceives to be a serious interpretive problem.  Because it seems you have, in your self-identification, sought to remake what "Christian" means ... on the basis of misinterpreting what Jesus said in his own context.  


If you're admitting that you're disregarding the context in order to describe your own position ... okay.  Then scripture becomes an artistic vehicle for you, rather than an expression of religious truth.  I simply wanted to point that out.  You can't be too hard on me for doing so, seeing that I feel that people's perceptions about what "Christianity" is, is extremely important, can you?  You certainly aren't my enemy, on that account.  


Stephen.    
Ron
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15 posted 01-29-2006 11:15 AM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

Who gets to define Christianity? Who gets to say, "You are, but you aren't?"


Grinch
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Essorant,

ďJust because one disbelieves in God, doesn't mean he must disbelieve anything at all is a supernatural entity.  For example, you may disbelieve in God, but still believe that Nature or a part of Nature, humans, or other beings, or even objects are supernatural.Ē

I donít believe in any supernatural entity, if it exists it is natural if itís supernatural it doesnít exist.

ďBut how do they say their belief makes sense when they must point at and refer to the selfsame entity or entities they say is/are not there to begin with? ď

You seem to be stuck on the idea that Atheism is an alternative choice, a different kind of belief Ė it isnít. I didnít wake up one day and decide I was going to be an Atheist I was just labelled as one because I donít believe in God(s).

Think of it this way:

If you take part in a race and win youíre called a winner, if you take part but donít win youíre labelled a loser. Nobody sets out to be a loser they just are based on the fact theyíre not in the set labelled winner. Now apply that to how I became an atheist.

I studied the worldís religions and found no evidence to suggest that God(s) existed; my disbelief means I canít be included in the set labelled religious so I have to be in the set labelled atheist. I didnít actively set out to be an atheist; Iím just labelled as one due to my disbelief.

ďI think atheism inevitablly relies on theism.  Without theism and the belief in God what does Atheism have to negate and contradict?  To me it seems that negation and contradiction of theism is what makes it what it is to begin with.  Without theism, it has nothing to naysay.Ē

I agree 100%, you canít be taught atheism in the same way you canít be taught IDT, both arenít arguments FOR an alternative theyíre just disbelief in the alternative(s) on offer. Where IDT falls down is that it purports to be an alternative.

LR,

Iím an atheist atheist by your definition

Through a series of flukes I managed to avoid religion to a great extent until I was 14, being introduced to it at that age and devoid of any ingrained preconceptions was a bit of a shock and an eye opener. In my first Religious Education lesson at school the teacher may just as well have been trying to convince me that Father Christmas or the Tooth Fairy existed. I devoured the bible though, I even bought one with my pocket money convinced that the teacher had just failed to state the evidence clearly enough but wherever I looked the evidence was conspicuous by itís absence.

When it comes to ethics I donít feel religion in any shape or form is necessary, social interaction naturally leads to a workable system regardless of any underlying religious preference.

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." -Steven Weinberg

Essorant
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17 posted 01-29-2006 11:33 AM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Stephanos,

Dictionary.com includes both what you are expressing as Christian and what Local Rebel seems to be expressing:


Christian

1. One who professes belief in Jesus as Christ or follows the religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus.
2. One who lives according to the teachings of Jesus.

Local Rebel
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18 posted 01-29-2006 11:54 AM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

No Stephan, I wasn't implying that we're enemies -- I only wanted to point out that there is a clear difference in the Christian ethos (or is supposed to be).  

Matthew 25 presents a complication to the simplicity of John 3:16.  I understand why my bringing it up is a hot button.

quote:

When it comes to ethics I donít feel religion in any shape or form is necessary, social interaction naturally leads to a workable system regardless of any underlying religious preference.



Anthropologically speaking I don't think it's so easy to separate religion from collective human bahavior.  The establishment of cultures/governments was congruent to religion.  Whether we're discussing Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese, Indian -- whatever culture West or East civilization formed in conjunction with the religious mind.

As a cooperative species we have a mechanism that allows us to percieve who is cooperating more than others.  Some would call this a sense of justice.  Whatever we want to call it there is a means by which we can determine who is playing by the rules and who isn't -- rules are really just an established agreement (or terms of cooperation).  The development of a sense of 'sacred' with regard to the rules over time is understandable -- as well as a need to have a final 'judgement'.

Essorant
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19 posted 01-29-2006 12:29 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

Grinch

"I donít believe in any supernatural entity, if it exists it is natural if itís supernatural it doesnít exist."

I respect that.  
I was just trying to emphasize that your athiesm that includes "no supernature" isn't necessary every atheist's athiesm.  Many people and groups of people may disbelieve in God or a god, but still believe someone or something is supernatural in one way or another.

"You seem to be stuck on the idea that Atheism is an alternative choice, a different kind of belief  it isnít. I didnít wake up one day and decide I was going to be an Atheist I was just labelled as one because I donít believe in God(s)."

No one is forcing you to express your belief with negations (no, not, never, nonexisting, nothing etc) and then apply those to the God/gods that others believe in.  That is your choice and expression.  You aren't giving us anything else, so how may we intepret or refer to it otherwise?  

"I studied the worldís religions and found no evidence to suggest that God(s) existed;"

Yes, but if you will make that out as evidence for the nonexistance of God/gods--and also treat it as if it empties everyone elses claim to positive evidence--how may I refer to that as anything but atheism or a disbelief in God/gods?  

Grinch
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20 posted 01-29-2006 12:56 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


LR,

ďAnthropologically speaking I don't think it's so easy to separate religion from collective human bahavior.  The establishment of cultures/governments was congruent to religion.  Whether we're discussing Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese, Indian -- whatever culture West or East civilization formed in conjunction with the religious mind.Ē

I agree, separating religion from cultural development isnít easy, almost every culture has invented or adopted a religion but if one were to be found in some far-flung outpost I suspect an ethical framework would still be evident.

Your earlier posts seemed to infer that a personís ethics were solely a construct of religious influence, I may have misunderstood but that seems to suggest that religion or religious teaching is the only source of a viable ethical framework.

ďAs a cooperative species we have a mechanism that allows us to percieve who is cooperating more than others.  Some would call this a sense of justice.  Whatever we want to call it there is a means by which we can determine who is playing by the rules and who isn't -- rules are really just an established agreement (or terms of cooperation).Ē

See this is how Iíd define an ethical framework without reference to religion.


ď The development of a sense of 'sacred' with regard to the rules over time is understandable -- as well as a need to have a final 'judgement'.Ē

And this is why religions are invented but you seem to tie the two together but in reverse order.

Religion leads to an constructed ethical framework instead of an ethical framework leads to a constructed religion.

Essorant,

ďNo one is forcing you to express your belief with negations (no, not, never, nonexisting, nothing etc) and then apply those to the God/gods that others believe in.  That is your choice and expression.  You aren't giving us anything else, so how may we intepret or refer to it otherwise? ď

Youíll have to excuse me Iím obviously not explaining myself clearly.

I am not arguing for atheism, that isnít possible, as you and I have already pointed out, atheism is not an alternative to religion itís a statement of disbelief with regard to god(s).

I donít know any way of stating that disbelief without Ďnegationsí or without mentioning the thing I disbelieve, if you know of a way Iíd be happy to hear it.

Essorant
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21 posted 01-29-2006 02:15 PM       View Profile for Essorant   Email Essorant   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Essorant's Home Page   View IP for Essorant

It is not absence of evidence that makes an approach or expression, "atheism"  But rather treating that absence as if it is the evidence, and furthermore as if it is evidence of universal absence of God/gods just because some people didn't find what they were looking for in the way they wanted it to be.

When one refers to what he didn't find and then makes that absence out as if it is the evidence of a universal absence, and/or also against the evidence that other people find, I think it does include choices, arguments and belief.  The more you use that approach the more you are known for it and known for its expressions, just as the more you use the expression, argument or belief that there is positive evidence, you are known for that belief.  

[This message has been edited by Essorant (01-29-2006 03:27 PM).]

Local Rebel
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22 posted 01-29-2006 02:22 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

quote:

And this is why religions are invented but you seem to tie the two together but in reverse order.

Religion leads to an constructed ethical framework instead of an ethical framework leads to a constructed religion.



Chicken or egg?  

The reverse is indicated.  Take the aforementioned example of Confucianism.  But, what religion does is add language to the sense of justice.  It injects narrative and 'authority'.  It tells a story about the rules and then asks us to beleive it.
Local Rebel
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since 12-21-1999
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Southern Abstentia


23 posted 01-29-2006 02:52 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Let's be clear also about the complexity of the genesis of religion.  There are other mental forces at work besides the justice/cooperative human trait.  Another survival mechanism is the ability to understand the physical world and the need to explain events.  We pick up a rock.  We throw it at a bird.  We kill the bird.

The same logical powers we use to explain these simple cause and effect relationships can lead to belief in supernatural forces as well when other naturalistic explanations aren't available.  Which is the true irony.  Our 'naturalistic' urge to understand our environment ushers us to supernatural explanations.  

Whether a system of ethics, a form of government, or an explanation of environment; religion held families, tribes, and nations together to fend off enemies and predators.  Generally good.  But, then, the same is generally bad if you're on the losing side.

If atheism threatened the unity of the tribe then it can be seen to be interpreted as generally bad.  Without  another unifying force atheism posed a threat to primitive cultures.  
Grinch
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Whoville


24 posted 01-29-2006 03:47 PM       View Profile for Grinch   Email Grinch   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Grinch


LR,

As for which came first ethics or religion Iím still convinced it was ethics Ė and by a long margin.

How old is the oldest religion and does it compare with social (ethical) interactions in hominids?

Of course itís impossible to know for sure whether or not a religion of sorts existed in early hominid society but we can draw parallels from modern social animals that donít require religion to construct primitive ethical frameworks.

I think the answer is in the questions:

Can ethics exist without religion and can religion exist without ethics.

Essorant,

ďIt is not absence of evidence that makes an approach or expression, "atheism"  But rather treating that absence as if it is the evidence, and furthermore as if it is evidence of universal absence of God/gods just because people didn't find what they were looking for in the way they wanted it to be.Ē

I understand what youíre saying (I think ) it goes something like this:

I canít find any evidence that god(s) exist but Iím treating the absence of evidence as evidence that they donít actually exist and thatís wrong because my lack of evidence doesnít mean they donít exist it just means I havenít got evidence that they do.

Is that about right?

Doesnít that mean Iíd have to allow anything and everything to exist including dragons, fairies and unicorns? Isnít it possible that a lack of evidence strongly suggests that they donít in fact actually exist? Iíd go even further isnít it reasonable to believe they donít exist if proof of their existence isnít found?

What happens if you apply this to religion?

I canít find any evidence that god(s) exist but Iím treating the absence of evidence as evidence that they do actually exist and thatís wrong because my lack of evidence doesnít mean they do exist it just means I havenít got evidence that they donít.

There is no evidence that fairies exist and no evidence that they donít exist, you either believe that they do or you believe that they donít Ė Do you believe fairies exist?

 
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