Bored at work, Ask an Atheist


#21

Anything that manifests in reality has a science behind it. So it sounds like you’re asking about one of the softer sciences of sociology, anthropology, psychology, etc.

Animals do display communal senses of justice, fairness, kindness, punishment for bad behavior, etc. Just that they don’t speak our languages, so we just go off their behaviors. As I understand it, higher intelligent social creatures like elephants, primates, whales, dolphins, birds, dogs, etc. all display these qualities.

Where we are now as a species and what we’ve evolved to promote has come from multiple generations of social development that has been promoted through evolutionary breeding for people that have more of a natural tendency to social involvement. That’s how I understand it. The people that were more naturally genetically predisposed to social and group behavior breed more than the people that were not as much so. And over generations, that level of desire for societal collaboration became more and more pronounced. This is one reason why we go crazy when placed in long term isolation. We are no longer physically able to live in isolation.

It began with someone noticing that “fire - hot - bad” and then once in a social group, learning that empathy and promotion of the group’s well-being saved on the amount of energy it took to survive, leaving more time for breeding and ability to collect enough resources for healthy youths to group up safely.

It’s been my observation that religious people want moral absolutes for subjective issues. I liken it to Nutrition. Is it objectively true to eat an apple instead of a pear? Both are fine paths to nutrition, but it is objectively bad to drink acid. This is a good analogy for “human well-being”. There are many subjective pathways to promote human well-being, but we do know some objectively bad ways to hinder this. Like the stockpiling of resources to the detriment of another group, slavery, prison isolation, etc.


#22

Agnostic is about knowledge, Atheism is about what you’ve been convinced to be true or not.

IE: Say your in a court case as a jury person. You have to decide if you are convinced if the person is guilty or not guilty of X.
-Important note here: You are not here to determine their innocence, only guilt.

So the person still could have done the crime, but if the prosecution can not convince you that they did, then you are not convinced that the defendant did - Not guilty. That is all.
The defendant still could have actually performed the crime, but you don’t know that.

So you are agnostic about whether the person actually did the crime, but you are atheist in the idea that you are not convinced that they performed the crime based on everyone’s attempt to convince you that the defendant did it.

So in the trial where god is accused of existing, I’m concluding that I find god not guilty of existing. It still could exist, but the defense has not put forth any convincing arguments for me yet.


#23

Atheism is a position on one question - do you think the supernatural exists? No - no I do not. That is all.

It’s the same thing as if you told someone that you met bob yesterday and they don’t believe that you did. That’s it.

You can’t get from that to any sort of political ideology, social bent, understanding about how that person thinks or processes the world, etc. You have to ask them that. There is no leaderships in atheism, manifesto, books on Do’s and Do Not’s, creeds, etc.


#24

Anything that manifests in reality has a science that looks at it. Just that there are hard and soft sciences. The social sciences are the ones that fall in the soft sciences because of its subjective nature, in my opinion.
It’s like trying to study “human well-being through nutrition”. It’s subjective to say only eat apples instead of pears because both promote a nutritious diet. But it is objective to not drink acid.
So these social scientists can come to objective truths for ethics and morals when referencing human well being. How a social group advances for everyone’s betterment, every normal, non-psychopathic people, is observable through social sciences. Scientists are just people and as such they still have the ethics and morals of their community and culture. So through that filter, they will determine which parts of science to explore and for how far. Also, if you dig back to the funding for research that appears as unethical, you’ll find a politician that is funding it. Scientists do try to remove their own bias’s so that that way they can run an experiment as it would naturally occur without the scientist’s interference. That’s where they come across as cold in my opinion when running certain experiments.


#25

Good start with the topic. What is your position on the difference between the two; instead of using my definition. It appears that you believe that it is a revealing bias when someone uses religion instead of cult as a way to minimize that group. So it’s more an attempt to minimize their group’s impact in their society.


#26

I believe that is true for you and you did experience something as you described it. If I experienced that I do not believe I would have concluded to what the cause was for that than what you did. So how could we tell the difference between both explanations to the same event to know what actually happened though?
[/quote]


#27

Would you agree that agnosticism equates ‘weak atheism’?

I’m not sure how a person can be absolutely convinced that the unseen does not actually exist. For example, in the womb you had no idea that your mother of which housed you actually existed, not to mention the world/universe outside said womb.

That said, some hardliners like Dawkins seem to be absolutely convinced.

I was a non believer into my late twenties, but always referred to myself as agnostic as I knew there was always the possibility of a unseen, unmoved-mover that ignited all of this…


#28

No I would not agree with agnosticism equates to weak atheism. You can be an agnostic spiritual person as well. The faith that its there without knowing that its there.

I draw a hard line between the two topics of:
I know this to be true vs. I have been convinced that this is true.
The first holds first hand experience, the other is second hand and not had the direct first hand experience.

Dawkins is not absolutely convinced. He’s as sure as he is about the supernatural as he can be about fairies and any other mythical creature from literature. But he’s not 100% certain about the topic. He gives a scale and he never lands on the 100% absolute. He’s 6.9 out of 7. It’s easy enough to look up and find a video of him stating this.

The fetus may not know where to even look or be aware enough to discover more about it’s environment. You seem to touch on the idea of absolute knowledge as an argument here. We can only investigate what we can know to investigate and only with the tools that we can currently use. So we can logically conclude to go look for what happened before the big bang, but since we do not have the tools to run that experiment, we can’t so we don’t make any more justified claims about that unknown that we should.

Once again, you can logically conclude that A comes before B. However what you know about A is limited by what you understand about reality. So until you can run an experiment about the A concept, you can be logically correct that there must be an A there, but factually wrong about how that A manifests in reality because you still can not study it at all.


#29

that’s a good question question. I am of the opinion that if everything is just based on simple science and evolutionary biology then a lot of human emotions simply don’t make sense. There is no evolutionary benefit to a lot of human emotions which seems to get left out of the argument from a lot of non-believers. Let me, ask you a question (to the OP) as a Christian what is the first cost?


#30

I wouldn’t equate the amount of resources, time, struggle that the entire human race has come to learn about reality as simple. That process is science. Science is the process of understanding reality. That’s how I understand it. So everything that we’ve learned, accomplished, etc. wasn’t something simple.

What emotions get left out of the argument? Any experience that manifests in reality is something that is studiable by science and has an entire category of science looking at it to understand it.

What do you mean by first cost?


#31

Agreed. Religion in our day and age has a neutral or even positive connotation. Nobody is ashamed (normally anyway) of saying they are religious. But no one will admit to being part of a cult. :slight_smile:

Also, one’s bias depends a lot on one’s own belief systems. For example, some protestants believe Catholicism is a cult. Things that specifically lead them to that conclusion is our veneration of the saints and Mary in particular. Some reject the doctrine of transubstantiation, calling us bread worshipers. But they do so because they believe Catholicism is violating a key tenant of their faith. Other protestants have no qualms about allowing that Catholicism is part of mainstream Christianity because they are not threatened in any way by Catholic doctrines and practices. Perhaps they are mildly annoyed and disagree with certain claims, but they are not so important to them that they will want to vilify and demonize the other.

Communism in its most destructive incarnations became very intolerant, labeling non-believers are bourgeois. They were the great enemy. Liberals like to vilify conservatives as intolerant.

For my own part, I believe there is something like a natural law common to all societies. And that the main stream can sometimes fall on the wrong side of that law just as easily as a so called cult.

God bless,
Ut


#32

Well I find that the argument between conservatives and liberals where the label of intolerant comes into place is when one group’s personal life choices are being legally legislated into the law of the land, so essentially legalizing one person’s private life choices onto the majority. One person’s approach to living a good life may not be another’s and as such this conversation needs to take place as to where the line needs to be drawn. I side on where social sciences have concluded on issues that they’ve studied. That way it removes personal bias towards what I am comfortable with. What has been making my life easier may have had consequences on someone else that I was dismissing or not acknowledging my impact on their struggles through life.

I find that it’s tribal nature in our race to want to maximize the flurishment of our group at the detriment of the other. Its easier to have an enemy to point at for problems instead of acknowledging that our own group is creating problems.


#33

Good point about spiritual agnostics…I suppose their are varying degrees of agnosticism as well.

Other valid points made here as well. We know a ‘big bang’ of such occurred as we can observe the universe continue to expand. What I find interesting is how chaos(a big bang) managed to ‘create’ order. Planet earth being precisely where it needs to be in order to sustain life and seemingly everything here serving some sort of purpose. Truly miraculous no matter how you believe it took place.


#34

Agreed. A lot of thought has to go into where to draw the line.

I side on where social sciences have concluded on issues that they’ve studied. That way it removes personal bias towards what I am comfortable with. What has been making my life easier may have had consequences on someone else that I was dismissing or not acknowledging my impact on their struggles through life.

Is there a social science consensus on anything? :slight_smile: But this looks like an appeal to authority. I think it comes down to the details and competing philosophies. Natural law theory has ancient roots in Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, and so on. There are other theories, to be sure.

I find that it’s tribal nature in our race to want to maximize the flourishment of our group at the detriment of the other. Its easier to have an enemy to point at for problems instead of acknowledging that our own group is creating problems.

Agreed.

God bless,
Ut


#35

[quote=Russell_SA;14321877
]

Even the voice that spoke to me at Eucharistic adoration is studiable and has an entire category of science looking at it to understand it? WOW!
[/quote]


#36

How do you imagine the experience of having strong faith in God?


#37

When I was growing up my grandmother (and other adults) told me stories of things that had happened to them. For example she was very sick one time as a young mother and she heard a noise, some knocking sound under or around her house. She sent her husband, my grandfather to look for the sound, the noise, the knocking but he found nothing. The next day her 4 yr old daughter died…

My aunt lost her husband and he was a rounder, not the best role model for his children…and he was a heavy smoker. She sat praying to God to let her know that her husband was ok… (he had made a confession and received the last rites) but she was frantically praying. Suddenly the big green ashtray on the coffee table broke in half… it didn’t drop, nothing hit it… She took this as a sign that he was ok…

I tell you these things and you may poo-poo them. That is your privilege. But when I hear these and other stories from people I trust it makes me wonder about a supernatural life. It’s doesn’t make me believe right out, it makes me open to believe… Then when things happen in my own life, it’s like the light is turned on for my faith.

I wish you had someone you really trusted and believed would not lie to you to tell you things that have happened to them just so you could become open to the POSSIBILITY of the supernatural. That’s why I’m praying for you. The Supreme Being is real and he loves you with an everlasting love. YOU are not an accident…


#38

Yes, I’ve had sociology, psychology and philosophy courses. :smiley:

When not grounded in an objective morality, the subjectivity is by nature lacking in morals and ethics to me, and I think it actually makes people mad to not be grounded in an objective morality. Mad as in causing mental health issues.

I stopped trying to keep up with what American society views as ethical and moral as it changes every time someone starts a new “movement”.


#39

Hi Russell :slight_smile:

I always thought a cult was a religion or some other group that once someone joined, they were not allowed to leave.

Thank you for reading
Josh


#40

The problem of consciousness and its unique properties (not traceable to any other animals) is so hard to atheists that they found a very “simple” argument.

They don’t only say that God does not exist but the very consciousness does not exist too!

That’s called eliminative materialism.

en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliminative_materialism

But to our atheist friend here every animal has all the properties of human mind. :shrug:


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