Gary Labyrinthitis

Gary Labyrinthitis
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"The best way to predict the future is to invent it." - Alan Kay ______________________________ Centrist and Atheist. My preferred method of offending people is by advocating that we work together and not succumb to ideological extremism. ______________________________ I've been through times with money and times with no money. And you know what? Money is better! ______________________________ "Life isn't just one damn thing after another...it's the same damn thing over and over and over again." -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

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Salon.com
JULY 26, 2013 12:32PM

Why does it bother me when someone promotes Atheism?

Rate: 17 Flag

Some people are disturbed and even shocked when there is a discussion about religion, and someone mentions that he or she is an atheist.  It catches people off guard.  After all, conventional wisdom has it that good people are religious and bad people are not.  Those who don’t fully engage with religion typically apologize for not attending church services and giving religion much thought.  Sometimes they say “I need to make my faith stronger.”

So it’s unexpected when a person pipes up and unabashedly states that he or she is an atheist.  Even people who consider themselves tolerant may be surprised that they reflexively think of the person in a negative way.  A normally enlightened person may push equality for minorities, women, the poor, old, fat, ugly and gay people, and even people of religions other than their own.  But an avowed atheist – that sets off the alarm bells!

OK, so people don’t like it when atheists talk about atheism.  But does that mean that they shouldn’t talk about it?  Should they keep their beliefs to themselves?  We know the answer to that here in America, the land of free speech and religious tolerance.  Freedom of religion allows everyone to openly practice and promote a religion of choice.  And promote it they do! 

Religions organize by creating memberships for church groups.  They construct large and ostentatious buildings.  They have a hierarchy of dedicated and often full-time people who run the show.  Priests and ministers have jobs that consist of staging get-togethers at least once a week, during which they promote the religion. Many organizations have additional people who travel around proselytizing – attempting to convince people to convert to their religion.  In addition, the more avid members evangelize – promote their religion - with friends and strangers alike.  Many now also use the Internet for that purpose.

How do atheists promote their own ‘life view’?  Well, other than casual conversations, there is almost no promotion.  There are a few casual atheist and ‘humanist’ organizations, but the vast majority of atheists don’t belong to them.  There are no ministers of atheism, few towns have a building of any sort dedicated to atheism, and there are no full-time missionaries travelling around proselytizing.  Atheism is a grass roots movement, and it's only method of promotion has been that an atheist participates when someone discusses religion.

It is surprising then that atheism is growing.  Something has happened lately to spark an atheist renaissance.  I think it is this:  The introduction of Internet web sites and forums brought together normally anonymous, reticent and isolated non-believers.  They began describing their ideas with others, and those ideas began reverberating all over the web.  This information coalesced into a sounder and more comprehensive case for atheism.  As they found kindred spirits, atheists became more comfortable with their life view, and became less apprehensive about expressing it when they encountered religious discussions. 

As the Internet sparked interest in atheism, authors compiled current thinking into books, some of which became best sellers. Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Victor Stenger wrote influential books that reached the public in a way not seen before.

The situation today is that most atheists still do not often initiate discussions about atheism when talking to people or posting to forums.  But more and more are less hesitant to join a discussion in which religion is brought up, and to state a case that is clearly having an effect on others.  Some people write articles and post them on general discussion forums. 

Some atheists are going a step further and are promoting atheism, as religious people promote religions.  There are several reasons for this.  One reason is that they have become convinced that religions are not as benevolent as its adherents claim.  Members of religions often discriminate and use passive aggressive tactics against people of other religions and atheists.  Religions continually attempt to gain political power, and use it to force their views on everyone in a society.  Science is often a victim of religious obstruction, from the beginning of the scientific revolution when the Catholic Church threatened to burn to death Galileo for the ‘heresy’ that the Earth revolved around the Sun, to the U.S. Bush administration that prevented scientists from doing stem cell research.  Religions spawn a certain percentage of fanatics who cause serious problems, killing people, becoming terrorists, or trying to turn a religious leader into a political leader in order to create a religious state and force their religion on everybody.

Mostly though, atheists have the view that we are much better off living in the real world, one without any make-believe Gods.  Knowledge is based on truth.  Progress requires it.  Life is better when the philosophy of life is based on reality.  Governments can’t convince people to start wars, obstruct science or pass anti-something legislation based on convenient interpretations of religious beliefs.  The corrosive ‘us versus them’ attitude based on religious tribalism disappears.

Yes, a majority of people feel more uncomfortable when a person promotes atheism than they do when a person promotes religion.  It's not possible for a religious person to merely nod his or her head and agree with whatever is said.  But it's the kind of uncomfortable feeling that occurs when you think objectively.  Atheists are good people who are brave enough to speak up despite the intolerance against them. 

So why does it bother you when someone promotes atheism?  It's because your religion has told you that atheists are evil, of course.  But it is also because of the uncomfortable realization that what he or she says might make sense to you.  Then you will have to reevaluate your belief in a God objectively, based on evidence and reason.  It's hard to think for yourself rather than obediently accepting what you were told, and it's unsettling to consider that what you were told as a child and believed for so long might not be true.  Abandoning the religion that you grew up with might disrupt your life, so you are afraid that if you talk to an atheist, you might become an atheist too. 

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I am always grateful when an atheist stands up to be counted. The far right is so scary and powerful that we need all the balance we can get. I am an agnostic which people always say is a cope out. I just can't make that final leap. I want an afterlife that is like the Second Life site on the internet where I can be any shape and teleport to different locations. My energy is me. Your energy is you. Religion just gets in the way.
Zanelle, in the context of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and the Pastafarians, you are 'Pastnostic'. Glad you read the post!
May I? I posted about this issue from a Reform Jewish standpoint once. My problem is that a lotnofnyour generalizations about religion don't apply to all of them, including mine.

http://open.salon.com/blog/koshersalaami/2012/09/17/in_defense_of_my_having_a_religion
Anything to get folks to live in the real world is alright with me.

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kosher, I read your post "in defense of my having a religion". It sounds like you personally aren't using religion to hurt people, at least not overtly. But of course when the Jewish religion is mentioned, it's hard to ignore the fact that they attacked and invaded Palestine, took most of their land and pushed the Palestinians into a small area. The result is perpetual hatred by the Arabs because of this, and continued fighting in the Middle East.

The Catholics and Muslims fought the Crusades. There is plenty of distrust and enmity between people of various religions. The reason is that when there is a large population of people of one religion in an area, they usually try to gain political power over the whole country and take away rights of people of other religions and atheists. Turkey and India are examples. Also, dare we even think about attempts by the religious conservatives in the United States to make this a Christian state, with talk of the founding fathers intentions etc. to justify it? Pretty scary.

That's why atheists feel the need to speak up. Religious people might help people in their own local group and religion, but they can really hurt people outside their groups.
Seer, why do you think a person shouldn't promote his/her beliefs? I look at it as a form of advertising, and as a way to start discussions that can be beneficial because it spreads information and makes people think. And as I said in the post, many atheist want the world to be a better place, and that atheism will do that. People don't know what they're missing if we all decide to keep everything bottled up for some reason.

Wouldn't you know it, last Saturday I was in my driveway picking a few peppers from potted plants when a pair of Jehovah's Witnesses approached me. We talked for about 20 minutes, and it was actually pleasant. I talked about why I was an atheist, and I think they were sort of boggled by it. I listened to what they said too, without interrupting all of the time. Very satisfying.
The Jehovah's Witnesses are pretty good at doing what you're talking about -- having discussions without losing composure and getting nasty. I know what you're talking about though. I haven't had too many religious discussions in person, but have had discussions on the Internet, and it's not uncommon for someone to start with the insults and name-calling.

Despite the bad actors, I still consider having discussions with a variety of people to be worthwhile. You've got to much around in the dirt a bit if you're going to find diamonds! And anyway, it's just human nature for people to vent emotions when discussing things that matter to them.

Promotion is a numbers game. If you talk to 100 people and a single person is receptive, it's a success. That's how all of the cults, including Christianity and Islam upped their membership. Then once you hit critical mass, it steamrolls.
Not to be flippant, but let me try this on you. If I happen to say that unicorns do not exist, am I promoting a-unicornism?

Atheism, as Hitchens said, is something of a misnomer. We don't name things based upon what they are not, or in the mind of the "atheist", of something that does not exist.

I certainly can't speak for all atheists, and I do not even call myself one, except when I want to use shorthand in a culture that bases so much on the certainty o the existence of god. {Sneeze!} God bless you. What? Goodbye (God by you). What? Goddamit! What? So much in our culture is based upon the unquestioned existence of something unmeasured, unseen, and unknown. No other thing gets done, evaluated, understood, or communicated with an unknowable thing as an essential element.

At one point, civilization invented the concept of nothing, and represented it with a zero in the number line. We placed it between 1 and -1. That is rational. Our ability to compute expanded with the invention of zero. What if someone else came along and invented a number, say, between 3 and 4. It has no value, but gets used in all sorts of calculations. No one can agree on its value or purpose. Soon all calcualtion is infected with unreason. It turns to gibberish. There are no integers between 3 and 4. Placing one there will not guide anyone into battle, or thru the valley of death. It will only confuse everyone.
Zanelle & Seer,

No, agnosticism is not a cop out; but it is based on an erroneous assumption. Basically the position of most agnostics is that neither the religionist nor the atheist can "prove" that their belief in the existence or non-existence of a God. They then give equal status to both as being unproven opinions, and they sit on the fence, so to speak.

However atheism is NOT a belief that there is not a God. It is a lack of belief that there is a God. Lack of belief is NOT identical to a different belief.

The atheist says, "If you claim that there is a God, you must offer proof of your claim." The atheist reserves the right to "not believe" until sufficient acceptable proof is put before him. Just as you would do if asked to "believe" in Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy. You don't take it upon yourself to "prove" such claims wrong; you demand that the maker of such claims offer you adequate proof of their claim. If they fail to do so, you retain your lack of belief - you DO NOT create a belief that they are wrong - you simply retain a lack of belief that they are right.

You can see now that agnosticism is actually founded upon a belief that atheism is, like religion, a belief. This is not so. It is a lack of belief. Quite a different thing, wouldn't you say?

.
"Religions continually attempt to gain political power, and use it to force their views on everyone in a society."

What is your view of the Soviet Union and other countries that practiced state atheism? Often these countries were extremely repressive and violent, destroying churches, synagogues, sacred art, and religious artifacts. They also murdered and exiled priests and other clergy, closed church schools, and banned religious education. Religious people don't exactly have the repression market cornered.
They don't have the market cornered, but they are damned close to it.
No they don't. Nothing in the PRC is based on religion except as persecution victims, not perpretrators. Nor was much in the Soviet Union.
Regarding Palestine,
Not exactly, though this is a tangent. When a Dutch cartographer did a census of Palestine about 400 years ago, he counted Jews as outnumbering Christians by a little and Muslims by a lot, though Bedouins were hard to count. An article I read in the New Republic in the 1970’s which I can no linger fine says that according to census figures early in the twentieth century (before WWI), Jews outnumbered Muslims then too. In modern times, this wasn't about an invasion. Not all the Jews were immigrants and not all the Muslims weren't - many came from Syria in search of jobs created by the Jewish influx.

Then, of course, there's the fact that almost all Jewish land acquired in Israel before independence was acquired by purchase, not conquest.

If you're going to talk about Jewish roles in Israeli history, learn some of the history. I'm not making a case for complete Jewish innocence, but Palestine is in no way analogous to what happened in the Americas. The Jews were an indigenous population.
@Seer,
Yes, I see the semantic difficulty. I have this particular problem sorted out this way: If you make a claim, it is incumbent on you to offer evidence to support that claim. If I doubt your claim, it is NOT incumbent on me to prove you wrong. This is the standard academic and scientific procedure used world wide.

If you chose to 'believe' any claim until you have, or find, proof that it is in error, then you'll find yourself believing a lot of really silly nonsense - such as in Santa and the Tooth Fairy.

In the course of our human existence, mankind has held beliefs in over 50,000 'gods'. Do you accept all of them until it is proven that they do not exist? If not, then why not? They have certainly never been proven to not exist.

Try also to separate 'belief' from 'acceptance.' I see no problem with you believing anything you wish to believe but I cannot accept that your belief represents truth without seeing some reasonable evidence to support it. And truth, in the end, is what it's all about. I doubt that holding a belief that you don't see as truthful, would be of much value to you in life; do you?

Yet if you have real evidence that something is actually true, then you need not believe in it. The proof of its validity is the evidence supporting it. It can be accepted as fact for all practical purposes unless and until it is prove to be in error.

The big problem with belief is that once something is believed, we tend to stop evaluating it in light of any evidence that contradicts it. We just ignore all such evidence so that we can maintain our beliefs. Doing this may provide some degree of comfort to the believer but it wreaks havoc on that thing called truth.

But this is for each individual to decide: Do you go with unprovable beliefs or do you seek truth that is supported by evidence? It's your option.

.
Since I have been an atheist since I was about 4 years old and could figure out what was silly and what was not I have had a lot of discussions with other four year olds about religious beliefs. I am now quite a bit older and have never found much use in trying to get other people (no matter how old they are)to think about what is silly and what is not. Just look at the damned mess the world is in. If people knew how to think things would be a hell of a lot better.

It's not worth the trouble.
I prefer agnostics. I had a weird experience where 4 people who professed to be atheists acted in godless ways. There is something to be said about being god fearing, Sociopaths often hide under religion too but I have a hard time understanding atheism . it seems as if the person can't admit that they are unsure.
Nobody lives by proofs. We all live by probabilities if we are intent on surviving. An agnostic wants proofs to disbelieve in a god. If a god or The God appeared and so declared itself how would you know it wasn't some kidder just off a flying saucer from a highly advanced civilization. You wouldn't and couldn't.

You can't know if there is a tiger in your bedroom closet or if a meteor might hit you in the next five minutes or if your mate is a zombie or if the entrance to Hell is in a trapdoor in your basement. But you don't put much in those strange ideas because you have to figure probabilities and those ideas have negligible probabilities. That's what it means to live a sane life and agnostics refuse to accept that.
@Seer,
The only person you "need to provide proof" to is yourself. It has become increasingly clear that you are having difficulty with doing that. I am somewhat familiar with your nihilist philosophy though. It is rather surprising to see it mixed with religious belief, for religious belief is the ultimate belief in a definite future (actually the option between at least two futures in christianity).

Still, just the fact that you engaged in this series of comments belies your claim of not caring. I can see that you cared up until you couldn't make sense - even to yourself - of your own arguments; then you opted to declare your lack of interest, justified by a nihilist philosophical stance.

Thus it ever is with religionists.


@fernsy,
It is not that we atheists "can't admit that we're unsure", it's that we have no reason to be unsure. If you put forward an idea that you have no evidence to support (which is what a belief is), we simply don't join you in your belief. What is "unsure" about that?

I would do the same thing if you claimed that you went to Mars and back yesterday. If anyone choose to believe you, I would not join them. I would, as I do with religious claims, ask for acceptable proof of your claim. Until I saw that proof, I'd not be one of those who believed you.

As to your mention that four atheists (or people claiming to be atheists) have done you a dirty, I suspect that this is perfectly true. Some atheists act like that in this dog-eat-dog society we've created here in North Amerika.

May I ask if you've realized that, aside from that four, EVERY last person who has mistreated or cheated you is, by elimination, a non-atheist; i.e. religious? Yet you mention only the atheists. Take a good look at your fellow believers; most of the time it is, in our society, good ol' christians who stick it to us the most - by far!
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Seer, the main point of the post is that I'd like to see atheists be comfortable talking about atheism, and I'd like to see religionists accept their discussions the same way they do discussions by religionists. I think discussions about atheism and religions are worthwhile with one caveat. Some religious discussions get bogged down into tedious and time-consuming readings of the Bible or other holy books. That's beside the point when an atheist has stated that he doesn't believe in a God. It's sort of like white noise.

Fernsy, there are both atheists and agnostics, and they are both sincere. Speaking for myself as an atheist, the reason I am certain there is no God is because I look back at history at how religions developed and evolved. I see why people wanted Gods. I also see that they persist because of cultural pressure. The notion of an invisible magic man in the sky is so ridiculous to me that I personally don't have any notions that a God exists. Someone who is an agnostic has something else going on in his or her head.
"I'd like to see atheists be comfortable talking about atheism..."


Ain't gonna happen... at least as long as there are fundie proselytizers.

A great example of that is on Margaret F's post. People offered an legitimate atheistic based alternative and the fundie xians immediately started in with the insults and insisted that they go away immediately. (that they acted like trolls while screaming "LOOK! A troll!!!" was just the norm).
Amy, I think that soon there will be atheist organizations similar to the social organizations of religious organizations. Everyone will be welcome, not just atheists, but they won't allow any type of religious expression. People will know that they exist as a place that atheists, agnostics can go, and also people who just don't give a flip about religion.

These organizations will do some work in society, such as charity work and helping people in various ways. That will give atheists a good kind of visibility, power and respect. I think we're moving gradually in that direction. We just need a person with a lot of energy and charisma who commits to making it happen.
sky: I did look around and it just turned out that the more spiritual agnostics were less evil, in that span of time. I now have a phobia of atheists. I'm not smart enough(yet) to wrap my head around the logic behind atheism. Agnosticism ,with intermittent but very profound seeming conviction ,that there is a force of good that monitors the universe, is what I rely on for now. I need it and I make no bones about needing something to survive. I have never had a fundie friend, and I don't associate with any religious people(not due to any choice just circumstance) and so I can't speak to that. I do know that Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy strongly believed in god in their later years. It's not just dummies, is my point. To each his own though- especially when it comes to believing in god, or not.
Bill Beck, You hit on something important. The reason that religions exist is because people needed several things -- a framework for viewing life, a social support group, etc. If atheism is to grow and become accepted, it needs to provide those things. Atheism will replace Gods with reality, reason and science. Maybe we need some positive books that provide that. It can form organizations for social support. There is more. It's a work in progress at this point.
GaryL: As long as they are sincere and say the Atheist doesn't think that a non existent god gives them license to hurt and destroy.... not my business. I don't see a man in the sky. I see a force that monitors the universe somehow. I do believe in "the there are no atheists in foxholes, " saw but at the same time-- I saw a documentary about a guy who was in a foxhole(not literally) and he swore he never once turned to god. So... who knows. I'll take a sincere religious fanatic over an insincere sociopathic atheist. I don't think atheists are all sociopathic, of course, but I am wary of those that don't believe in karma, at least. I have been BURNED by an atheist who doesn't think that her actions have any consequence, on earth or elsewhere. She now rather than being prosecuted is being celebrated as "Tig Notaro brave cancer survivor." Whatta neverending story.
Fernsy, I can understand where you're coming from. It sounds like you've had uncomfortable relationships with some people who were atheists, but I don't think you want to fall into the trap of projecting your feelings for a few people you don't like onto all of the atheists in the world.

I've never been able to figure out why some people claim that atheists are not 'sincere'. Why would anyone claim to be something that they are not? Why wouldn't they advocate for what they actually believe? I certainly wouldn't waste time stating that I believe one thing when I actually believe something else. All I can say is that indeed there are atheists, just as there are agnostics and religionists. If an atheist hedges, he joins the agnostics. If a religionist hedges, he/she.... well, I guess he/she inches closer to agnosticism.

I think your point of "a force that monitors the universe" is significant. People who are firmly atheists tend to view the universe and everything in it in scientific terms. Physics describes it. No beings of any sort intervene to make something happen that wouldn't ordinarily have happened.
Spiritualism/faith is nothing more nor less than “Do you respect the being that you see when you look into a mirror?” Religion on, the other hand, is looking over someone else's shoulder into a mirror , and mistaking his face for your own.

“Christ” is no more nor less than what you know you should be. It is direct. It is Personal. it is experiential. You can't “Know it”, you must DO it- “Know it”-in the Biblical sense ( as one must know his life partner)

(Religious )Law is thousands of people looking over the shoulder s of some very wise, some very egotistical, some Barking Mad “Prophets, and trying to judge their actions by the judgment of someone else's life. Often, this is good, and gives perspective on ones own life. Often it is not, for no one can live your life for you. You must always remember that Law is NEVER “Justice'- Justice is of your own personal feeling of rightness. Your conscience. It is YOUR life you must control, and respect- not seek the “respect” of others in order to deny the lack of respect you feel for yourself.

Our Founding Fathers understood this as a very basic and fundamental truth. They always had a mind to what they personally saw in the mirror. Hence, they were largely men of integrity and honor.

The problem with “Humanism” is that it tells us there is nothing in the mirror, all is the external properties and “objectivity” of others, wiser, more powerful, richer, men than you. ) They say the image in the mirror is an “illusion”. There is no “Justice”, only “Legal Mechanizations”

Hence, neither Lawyers, Politicians , nor Vampires are able to see themselves in a mirror. They are totally dependent on the life force of others, for they have none of their own.

I'll fill this out into a post, I believe- “Dexter Morgan's Code- Sociopaths, Psychopaths and Christians, a richly complex programming environment for M.U.D. s ( Multi-User-Dungeons) “
"The problem with “Humanism” is that it tells us there is nothing in the mirror, all is the external properties and “objectivity” of others, wiser, more powerful, richer, men than you. ) They say the image in the mirror is an “illusion”. There is no “Justice”, only “Legal Mechanizations” "

This portion of HRdR's comment more accurately applies to religion than reason. It is the belief in an omnipresent, omniscient god that obscures the view in the mirror. Also, disconnecting oneself from the source of good or evil effectively offloads responsibility in some magical way, and makes the rational process of doing good that much more complicated.

Let's see, what else here? The founding fathers were men of "integrity"? Many of them were slave owners, and this came at a time when slavery was frowned upon in pany parts of the world. They wrote into the Constitution a means by which their electoral system could be managed without giving full credit for some humans to be humans. That is integrity? It should also be noted that a good many of them were also lawyers.

If you smear belief on anything, it all makes sense. It is solipsistic. But if you apply simple reason to it, it is clear that slavery is not an institution condoned by anyone with integrity under any circumstances. A lawyer can't be "a man of integrity" at one moment, and then by definition lacking integrity the next. And recognition of Christ's virtue as an authentic human, andman of priciple does not require belief in his status as a deity. Stating, living by, and being willing to die for a principle is what made Jesus an important person. Those are things that people can emulate. Walking on water, or trying to turn a few fish into thousands has no practical use or benefit for humanity.
So. beck- what do you see in the mirror?
It cannot be said that I have much in common with either Safe_Bet's Amy or Bill Beck. Yet they have both contributed greatly to this discussion; each in his own way.

We can see that neither agnostics (who are merely believers awaiting proof), believers, nor atheists are any less certain of their own positions though.

As to fernsy's description of a universal "something" that she refuses to call a god...... well, if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck.....

In the end where you stand ought to enhance your ability to live a decent life among your fellow man or it is of no value to you. When I judge atheism by that standard, I seldom find it wanting; when I judge believers - both agnostics and outright religionists - by that standard I usually find serious problems in even understanding what the heck it's al about. Blind, unthinking belief is the norm, not the exception. Much that has been written here is by people who have some ability to think - and that includes the religious as well as the atheists. But those few who comment here and who are already blind believers show us the dangers inherent in blind belief. It always tries to bring a halt to any questioning and opposing points of view..... always. It cannot stand up to being questioned, even by its adherents who don't often raise the hard questions at all.

.
Wow, Rude...

Way to COMPLETELY misrepresent the precepts of Humanism.

The difference is, unlike you fundies who enjoy swapping lies and made up myths, you don't get to get away with it here.

The TRUTH is (oh, I forgot... you've got "faith so you don't use truth, do ya?) Humanism is a world view that incorporates many of the same moralistic and incusive believes that you thiest SAY you believe in. The difference is we don't believe that there is some big Sky Daddy to excuse us our "sins"... we have to own them!

Also I love how, like every fundie xian I've ever met, you start with the insults and slurs. Guess thats is cuz you have no realistic leg to stand on other than "you just HAVE TO believe!" (and no... I don't).

BTW, your closing insult about the "Lawyers, Politicians , nor Vampires"??? Isn't it interesting that almost every one of the lawyers and politicians in Congress is a xian? I can't speak for the vamps because, they are just make believe... sorta like that bibble babble book you keep referring to.
Depend on what you mean by "promotes" atheism.

If it's a discussion between adults, no problem. If it's used to interfere or cancel a tradition that many children look forward to (without necessarily knowing the history or meaning behind it), then I would have a problem with "promoting" atheism.

Children of atheists (or atheists who are minors) can certainly opt-out of a holiday if they are bothered by the historical origins. But a minority making an issue out of something that may have its historical roots in a religious event but no longer is used to "recruit" converts to a religion is just wrong, in my opinion.

No christmas tree at the holiday band/chorus recital at the elementary school because of aggressive atheists? Come on, really?
@Skypixie0

My question of faith is "Do you believe in external laws ( Religious or secular) or do you believe in your onboard "GPS" for your sense of what is Right- what is JUST. I find that you and I disagree on very little, usually, but it always comes down to a question of word definitions and semantics.

I am always RIGHT( just)- You are always RIGHT( just) , because when we feel something is wrong, we express the wrongness, and attempt to become RIGHT, without having to consult the Supreme Court,President, Pope, etc.

You strive to be honost and honorable, and that makes you moral. I respect that even when we disagree. I don't ask that someone be true to my conception of MY self. I ask only that he be true to HIS conception of his self.
This presumes he has such a conception. The Christian Religion calls that conception "Christ". Freudian Psychology calls it "Superego"
AA calls it "Higher Power".

I feel safe in saying you do have such a conception and strive to fulfill it. I'd think you see yourself pretty clearly in your mirror
To skypixie,

Do you believe that there are dimensions of reality presently undetectable to humans based on our level of current technology?

If yes, there goes the bulk of your argument.

If no, well, then you must agree with your ancestors who believed that the world was flat and/or that the universe revolved around the Earth.

Afterall, they deduced their beliefs based on the current level of technology at the time (visual observation).

Your argument holds up only if current technology can detect (or refute) all possibilities.
@Amy

just doing for it what you do for christianity- rturnabout fair play and all that.....Humanists are like christians, some are people of conscience and honor, some are not.
HRdR,

To your question, I see in the mirror what anyone else would see in the mirror.

And about your question, that is a shift to make the subject about me, and away from the subject. What I see in the mirror, whether literally or as a metaphor is not relevant. It is also not your concern.

One aspect of religiosity when it goes wrong is one person's concern for what another sees "in the mirror." Spirituality means to look within oneself. Jesus said to pray in private. If you were to ask Jesus that question, he would likely say, what business is that of yours? Look in your own mirror.
@Gary,
It seems that you are unaware that there are already a good many atheist organizations dedicated to "good works" (as christians call them). There are atheist charities, food banks, soup kitchens, housing for abused spouses, help for neglected children, veterans help societies, and discussion groups aplenty. Heck there are even children's summer camps sponsored and run by atheists.

You might put Mr. Google to work. He can find many, many atheist organizations for you to look into.

Then there are those atheists who contribute to non-atheist organizations that they see as doing good work. I have personally contributed to a YMCA sponsored program to help parents whose children abuse them. I also manage a few bucks to Doctors Without Borders on a regular basis. This is normal for a great many atheists who are both aware of atheist charities and who are not. Our concern is usually has less to do with a charity expressing atheist philosophy than with it serving people well.
.
"But a minority making an issue out of something that may have its historical roots in a religious event but no longer is used to "recruit" converts to a religion is just wrong..."


SUUUURE! That quote exemplifies why you are such a hater and bigot, dude.

By that thinking, rape, incest, murdering homosexuals and enslaving people of color are all cool because they are all "historic religious events" (as cited in the bibble babble)...

Ought OH! Better lookout! So is stoning adulterers, dude! You'd be a goner for sure!
@Bill
Which, Bill, leads to the question of why bother to address me in the first place? I'm comfortable with what I see in the mirror- By times, I enjoy tweaking people who tweak me, but it's not a fault I stay up nights worryoing about. On the other hand, angry hostility seems to be your main rreaction to anyone who disagrees with you. What's up with that? ( Not that it's really any of my business, except you seem puzzled when you get back what you give out.
QED is an a-theistic precept, HRdR. You are not just dancing on the edge of a volcano, you are diving in and climbing out again.
..and doing so with utter impunity, Bill
As a mostly buddhist, often Quaker person, who lives with an atheist, and who recognizes His Noodly Appendage in the pantheon, the question is not really about what you believe. It is really about what you think others should be doing with respect to your belief- and how you go about life acting on your beliefs. I know plenty of people who are avowed atheists, and pro science, who don't understand that "scientism" is another form of religion, with the obvious changes that go with presuming that their version of direct experience is the only useful way to experience life.
The most important aspect of knowledge and experience is direct experience. For most people, seeing bacteria under a microscope does nothing to make them feel better about their tonsillitis. One does not have to understand or even believe in germ theory in order to feel ill or want to get well. Similarly, most people who drive cars or go up the elevator in tall buildings or fly planes will never get any of the technology that put it there. Planes, cars, and buildings would be empty and useless without them, though.
Like any belief system, atheism (not believing in a god form who controls our existence) is useful mostly to the person not believing in it, so they can experience life in a more meaningful way. My experience of what I think "god" may amount to has nothing to do with religion, or anyone else's belief about what god is, should be doing, etc. Like with politics, when we fiercely hold on to our world view as the one world view, it's a shame and causes harm to others. Science and technology without ethics is not a good place to go, and ethics and morals are often shaped by religion (and honed by personal experience). I have met a lot of close minded scientists (not a good premise for open inquiry, which is the first state of scientific method) and I have met a lot of kind and giving "religious" people.
What we believe actually does shape our mind and our reality, literally bathing our nervous and endocrine system in different chemicals that set us along different paths in life. Sadly, religions often promote fear and judgmentalism to control people, setting them up for a life misery or cruelty. It would be silly to think atheists are any different, they just aren't going to use their religion as an excuse for their behavior.
@Joisey,

As usual you post such a muddled comment in your attempt to be clever that you've hoist yourself by your own petard..... again!

First, I do not believe any thing. I define belief as accepting as true something for which there is, in my view, insufficient evidence. So there goes your question about whether I believe this or that idea as expressed by you.

Second, you only offer two options for me to "believe" rather than allow me to find and express any other option that I might see as more reasonable than your two options.

Third, Your attempt to claim that a choice for your second option carries with it a ridiculous belief that was held by our ancestors is a childish argument. It carries no such thing. Not that I agree with it, but just that it is unwarranted to assume one belief on the part of a person given a different belief.

If you've taken the time to read carefully the comments presented here today, you could only come up with such a silly comment if you have failed to understand what you've read. In which case you are out of your league and in waaaay over your head.

Sit back, read, try to learn something. Sometimes it's better to keep your trap shut and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and prove it. Some of the people here passed your level when they were very young; you've some serious catching up to do.

.
First, HRdR, there is no hostility on my part. I know that because I only want to discuss the issue, not the person, as you are doing with mirros and such. Second, I am not addressing you as much as addressing your point. That is the difference of a comment thread from a person to person conversation. This thread is read mostly by people who know neither of us. Presumably it will last for a very long time. I made a counterpoint to your point. Your name attached connects it in context. As, like I said earlier, I made no attemt to conect it to a condiction of your soul, your conduct, or your person, other than to say who said it, I am remaining within the subject only. I get how you see it personally, but it is not personal. It is only about the subject. My comment started, "this portion of HRdR's comment..." It was about the comment.
@Oryoki Bowl

Very well put.
I'm actually pretty sure that if I explicated my beliefs to the people in the Methodist congregation to which I belong, I'd be denounced by some as an "unbeliever" Fortunately, the vast majority don't care about the "Laws" of faith, but are rather, a community of compassionate people, which is why I joined them.

Actually, my "Faith" is an extension of my training in Judo- and is probably closest to Zen- the base precept is that spirituality cannot tbe learned, it must be experienced.

I find no difficulty in using the symbology of the christian church in communicating with my community, and it is no more heretical than that I should converse with them in French, rather than English- ( of course, god is german, because the bible is written in german.)

It's kind of fun, kind of disappointing to find that some people here cannot grasp that I can identify as Christian ( because I understand it) Zen ( because I feel it) and Secular Humanist ( Because I enjoy the manipulation of symbols in the M.U.D in which we are interacting) at the same time.

They insist that "If I'm a Christian" I MUST be thus and such, all the while not having any idea what I'm talking about or what the meaning of christian symbology IS. They will either try to understand, or not. Attempting to communicate ( Latin- Fortify Together) is an amusing way to pass a life.
Herr Rudo- what an amazing Vortex you have created for yourself! What shimmering vibrations you have manifested in your consciousness! (I just did a post on subjective vs objective reality). I think the worst bit- atheist or religious zealot- is the inability to use critical thinking to examine the presumptions of what we present as belief systems- including the supposition of critical thinking because it is pro-science. Hahahahah.
@Bill

So let's get this straight, you don't speak as a living breathing person of experiences and passions, you speak as a robotic object who has no feelings or prejudices, and is totally objective? Talk about voices from the DEAD. As I said, you probably don't see yourself when you look in the mirror. That is the condition of a varmint- a lake of self recognition. Dogs don't see themselves in a mirror. Apes and People do- elephants do. Without self reflection, your opinion is valueless to me, and so long as you don't seek to impose your laws on me, we'll do fine.

When you start to tell me that I must do thus and such because you've made a law, then it is my option to deal with you like any other varmint, as sporting equipment.

I'm perfectly happy to mind my own business bill, so long as you ( ie government/ church/ co-ercive force of society) stay out of it.

If you reject the validity of my feelings and judgements out of hand, we will cease to have community, and return to the law of the jungle- ie, payback. Your choice.
Don't get it confused, HRdR. No one referred to what anyone else believes until you questioned what one sees in a mirror. Personally, I find that entirely irrrelevant to spirituality. As I said ealier, it is a look within oneself. You have on several occasions asked others what their personal condition of soul was, in one way or another. Remember your "Are You Moral" post? That has been your style.

That is what many find problematic about religiosity. These conditions of soul are to be determined by the soul in question. Even if one believes in a "higher power", that question would be between that soul and that power. At no time is it the business of another soul to instruct or opine about the other, unless that particular soul invites one to do so.
uh bill? this whole post is about "what anyone else believes".
The post is not about you having the moral authority to judge what I believe. That is where you make the wrong turn. Like both Sky and SBA have or will say, we dont share much in common, but we do share the notion that you do not have moral authority over anyone but yourself.

The post, as I see it, discusses competing views of the world and/or metaphysical questions. That is not the same as judging a competing position on metaphysics from your own, and certainly and absolutely not judging another person from your metaphysical viewpoint.
Great discussions, and I think it shows that discussing atheism shouldn't be any different than discussing religions. And also that atheists and religionists are the same mix of personalities, but with different 'life views'. Hearing someone promote atheism or religion shouldn't be an uncomfortable experience for anyone.

This also shows that the best discussions are among people who respect each other, and don't resort to personal attacks and insults. The most substantial ideas are tossed about when the goal is to express your ideas well, without feeling the need to 'win' any argument, or anger if someone disagrees. People usually think about what they discuss and form conclusions later. So it pays to be civil.
Bill

let's talk real world here for awhile-

I make a moral judgement about the integrity and trustworthyness, and intentions of anyone I've ever dealt with, humans and otherwise. My dealings with them are based on whether I expect them to do what they say they will do, or whether they are causing me danger.

I shot and killed a lot of woodchucks when I was a kid. I made a "Moral Jugement" upon each of them. They were harmful varmints, ruining crops and digging holes for livestock to step in.

I have and feed a lot of cats these days. That also is a moral judgement.

I generally tend toward the moral judgement that most of gods creatures are not "varmints", but I every day make moral judgement. So do you.

The "We ALL approve the undertaking" attitude to collective morality is just BS.
And and is provably so, so long as I don't agree to participate.
WE don't
QED
"So let's get this straight, you don't speak as a living breathing person of experiences and passions, you speak as a robotic object who has no feelings or prejudices, and is totally objective? Talk about voices from the DEAD. As I said, you probably don't see yourself when you look in the mirror. That is the condition of a varmint- a lake of self recognition..." Herr Rude der Blah Blah

Now this quite is hostility, HRdR. I don't speak as a robot. I never said such. I don't even understand how you come to such a conclusion.

Trying to be reasonable does not mean that one lacks emotions. It just means that one applies the appropriate tool to the appropriate task. It would not occur to me to say that you lack emotions or the ability to reason. Your doing so is a straw man. It is ad hominem. And it is not reasonable.

There are many ways to use reason to show compassion, Rude. They are not mutually exclusive. If a child start crying in bed and says that he fears monsters hidden underneath, and a father comes in, turns on the light, and says, look, no monsters..." That is a rational approach designed to remove anxiety, and in a compassionate way. They are not mutually exclusive. Your assault on the value of reason as being de facto lacking emotions is simply not logical.
Oryoki, about your words:
"Sadly, religions often promote fear and judgmentalism to control people, setting them up for a life misery or cruelty. It would be silly to think atheists are any different, they just aren't going to use their religion as an excuse for their behavior."

We're veered somewhat off-topic, but so what! I had a similar thought. As you say, religions aren't the only ideology that determines a persons views. Liberal and conservative ideologies probably have more of an influence on people than religion and atheism. Also, my guess is that people act the way they're going to regardless of religious or political ideologies. It's just that sometimes they latch onto them in order to justify however they are already going to act.
HRdR, the argument you cited is not about an attitude of "collective morality." The statement is about collective participation in a global economy, and in so doing, all have a bit of moral culpability. That is about individual conduct, and individual responsibility for something that we all collectively do. One can't draw a distinction between themselves and others morally, while doing the same things for which there are ethical choices. In other words, one should not hold oneself up morally above another. There is no value in it. One should just do what one thinks is right. We are responsible individually, but we are connected by our similar or identical choices. You never understood that point. The point is, you are not above anyone. You can't be.
@Bill

Look up the meaning of "Objective", as in "Object" vs Subjective- You claim objectivity?
You claim to be DEAD.
I'll believe it if you do
I only communicate with spirits who KNOW that they are dead.
In Washington, DC is an organization called the Washington Ethical Society, I believe headquartered on 16th St. NW. They function very much like a church, with presentations and discussions on the weekends concerning various moral issues. As Sky said, there are already organizations of atheists that fill some of the functions that religion does. I think I went to one of their services when I was in my twenties - they've been around for a long time.

My own personal problem with discussions of atheism and religion is that mine gets stuck in a dichotomy where it doesn't entirely belong. Amy made a reference to owning our sins. That's very much how Judaism works - on the Day of Atonement, the officiating rabbi will often say something like: "For sins against God, God forgives, but for sins against Man, God does not forgive." The idea here is that we're suppposed to seek forgiveness from those we've hurt and make things right. Or, to put it in her terms, own it.

When it comes to that principle, when it comes to not evangelizing, these aren't just characteristics of Reform Judaism, they're characteristics of all of it.

I certainly agree with Gary that atheists should feel free to allude to their atheism without people making visible assumptions about their morality. Religion is certainly not the only current source of morality. Nor, however, is all religion the source of evil. Gary doesn't like atheistic generalizations made about him. I don't like religious generalizations made about religions such as mine where they don't all apply.

HRdR,
One of these days you'll get around to understanding how Bill works. You think it's personal. It hardly ever is.
I think you are misunderstanding the meaning of the word objective.

(First, I should say that I do not recall, nor can I find the use of the word "objective", in this conversation. Why I would need to defend it, or why you feel that you can make the charge about what I feel, when I have not even used the term is beyond me. But, I'll play along since this is not burning any paper.)

Objective does not mean dead. That is a weird twist on the leaning of objectivity. Objectivity means considering (a question) without consideration of independent existence. That is not an assertion of non existence, but rather an attempt to not be biased by personal experience. Trying to call it becoming an object is reductive, false, a red herring, and a silly piece of sophistry. "Objectivity" is not a controversial concept with regard to interpersonal communications, thought, law, or conduct. It is fairly standard and widely accepted as having a value. The notion that it means being "dead" is...foolishness.
Kosher

My insistance on the preconditions of "community" with any being is that the being play by their own rules- not object to be treated as my neighbor as my self. Consitancy. Integrity ( one ness with the higher self, in as much as possible- or at least striving for it.)

@Kosher
I don't take Bill personally, I simply don't allow him to impose his own PERSONAL definitions upon a discussion because he claims he HAS no personal feelings and agenda, when like everyone else, he obviously does.

I say Toe may tah
He INSISTS that is Toe ma TOE-
I respond by throwing ones at him, so that he may experience the reality of his personal realty.
Not personal, good clean fun.
There is nothing Zen about throwing tomatoes unless one has an odd karmic desire to be the target of thrown tomatoes.

There is nothing wrong with attempting to be objective. I've watched Bill for quite a while now. He expends quite a bit of energy on sticking to his analysis which, incidentally, he's damned good at. (Analyzing, I mean.)

And he's right about robotic. Trying to keep one's emotions from interfering with one's analysis is not robotic; actually, it's a pretty good definition of intellectual integrity.
HRdR, I have never claimed to have no personal feelings. You always claim that for me, over my objections. You get confused in believing the falsehoods that you invent. I have never said that I have no personal feelings. I have said that when discussing subject, particularly difficult ones like religion, etc, leaving ad hominem out of it is preferable. No one claims to have no feelings. You are the one raising the "robot" nonsense. This is how you always do it. You create a straw man, then knock it down. That is not a honest or reasonable way to discuss.

When you said, what do you see when you look in the mirror, my answer was, that is not your concern. That is not saying, "I see nothing. I see a robot. I have no feelings...", etc.

How about this, HRdR. Let's discuss the subject, and stop stating how I feel about myself or anything else. That is certainly not what the post is about. It is not honest either.
@skypixie

It's really a simple question. I'll forego the conclusions based on your answer, so let's just address the question.

Do you believe that there are dimensions of reality that our current technology is unable to detect?

It's a simple yes or no question. And I won't follow-up with the implications of your answer. Just answer the question.
Joisey, I am butting in here, but you pose a fascinating question. The answer is undoubtedly, yes. I'll get out of the way of your question, but I have to say that it raises one of my favorite theories of the the deity and the universe.

I think that the mere presence of the universe refutes all that is not within it. In order to be, it must be. So, if it is outside of the universe, in order to be undetected, then is it not subordinate to the universe and its ability to detect whatever is within it. On the other hand, if it is within the universe, but makes itself undetectable, is that not still the status of being subordinate to the inviolate ability of the state of being...being ultimately detectable? If it is mearly a measure of our technology, say, then its status of undetectability is temporary. On the other hand, if it is permanently undetectable, what is the point of being detectable, undetectable, or knowledge, or science?

I think existence does not co-exist with non existence. I think existence refutes non existence.
OK,
So where is the burden of proof?

That's part of the issue here. I would answer that question as follows:

The burden of proof rests with whomever is making the case.

If you evangelize, you have the burden of proof.

If you say "The notion of God is ridiculous" and it is not an answer to theistic evangelism, then you have the burden of proof, and the trouble with having that burden of proof is exactly what Joisey Shore says. We've spent part of the last century learning the Impossible.

Definitively proving God is miserably difficult, but so is definitively proving Not God.

Now, just in case anyone misconstrues my meaning here, which a number of people on OS are extremely prone to doing, that doesn't mean that we should be teaching religion in school, or that the proposition from a scientific standpoint that God exists, particularly based on a Biblical model, has equal scientific validity to the proposition that God does not exist based on a Biblical model. What we teach in school, by which I mean Public school, is based on scientific information we've been able to deduce so far based on current and past technologies. So, I am not claiming that "creation science" is actually science. It isn't. And what should be taught in public schools, at least as far as I'm concerned, is science.
Gary, thank you for this fascinating post, and this fascinating thread.

Kosh, this may seem like a small point, but it is as big as all outdoors.

"We've spent part of the last century learning the Impossible. "--K.S.

No, what we have done in this time is learning that which is possible. The impossibility was merely perception. We have not learned the impossible, and that is the point.

If you posit that the universe is finite, then there is a limit to that which can be learned. All possible is within. All impossible is without. Probable, likely, or imminent are entirely different matters.
We've spent part of the last century learning the "Impossible."

That's why I capitalized it. I sometimes capitalize in lieu of quotes.
Ah, makes sense. With the radical capitalization that goes on here, I just took it as a typo. I should have known better.
"The burden of proof rests with whomever is making the case."


Bull.

You know as well as I that you can NOT prove a negative.

I'm an atheist. I don't believe in a higher power in any way, shape or form.

It is impossible for me to "prove" what I don't believe in "DOESN'T" exist.

I can't PROVE Santa and the freakin easter bunny don't exist, either, but that sure as hell doesn't mean I have the "burden of prove" to show that they don't.

Athiests are the ones who are saying "you just gotta have faith" as an excuse. We are the ones who are saying "freakin prove it!".
* Athiests AREN'T the ones who are saying...
Amy,
Of course you can't prove a negative. That's exactly why atheists shouldn't go after the faith of those who are not proseletyzing.

If I say to you: Believe!
Excuse me, given what just occurred a couple of comments ago:
"Believe!"
Then it makes perfect sense for you to say:
"Prove that I should."
After all, I'm the one who wants a change from you in that case.

But if I don't say that, if I don't try to lead you down whatever path I'm on, and you were to hypothetically say to me:
"Don't Believe!"
Then it makes perfect sense for me to say
"Prove that I shouldn't."
After all, you're the one who wants a change from me in that case.

I'm not crazy enough to say that to you and I assume you're not crazy enough to say that to me,

So I will assume it's a moot point.
Nah.

That's just another version of "why don't you people just be quiet and stay in the closet."

Using your proposed actions we would never be able to explain what we "don't" believe in to anyone who didn't aggressively pursue the point.

There is a HUGE difference between making the information available & explaining a world view out to those who CHOOSE to hear it and the evangelical proselytizing that goes on, btw. (after all, it ain't us atheists who are going door to door to "sell the faith", either. I'll leave that for the fundie xians).
Amy,
I'm not asking atheists to stay in the closet any more than Jews stay in the closet.

I'll explain what we believe all the time. I've posted on that topic at least a couple of times, but it's information, not an attempt at conversion. This is what we believe. Maybe, sometimes, And this is why we believe it.

No closet. No burden of proof because no pushing of the viewpoint, just teaching about the viewpoint.

As you point out, there's a difference.
I don't use the word "atheist" much as a description, but since I'm a non-believer, that must be what I am. I don't follow a religion but I do follow a code of ethics handed down to me by generations of good people. Some where Catholic, some were Lutheran, some were Presbyterians, some were Methodists, some were non-denominational, and some were non-believers. We are who we are because of factors that have nothing to do with religion.

I can look at the Ten Commandments and understand the reasoning behind them without first having to read the bible. I know what it takes to live in a civilized society and I try to live by the Golden Rule--a rule with a context that can be fully understood outside of any religion.

The writers of the bible didn't invent societal rules, they were developed, even through pagan times, because we came to recognize that in order to live together peacefully we had to see one another as human beings with the same needs, the same hopes, the same goals. We needed to protect our societies from each other.

We don't always do a good job of protecting societal mores but to say that it couldn't happen without religion just isn't so. Non-believers throughout history have acted the same as religious folk--some good, some bad--and in that respect, there is no difference.

I don't push my non-belief and I don't accept anyone else pushing their religion on me. These are such private beliefs, built on years of study or indoctrination or need, that none of us should be judging anyone else for where their beliefs take them. Unless, of course, their beliefs take them over on our side of the fence where they weren't invited and they're not wanted.

A "Godless Atheist" isn't an immoral Atheist, anymore than a "God-fearing Christian" is a moral example for the rest of us.
Ramona,
That's not at issue here. I don't think anyone in this thread thinks that atheists are intrinsically immoral or that all morality comes from religion.
@Joisey,
Sorry I didn't answer your setting-you-up question so as to allow you to actually set me up.

Let's see if I can explain my position in terms that even you can understand:

I have NO beliefs.

There, is that simple enough for you?

I cannot answer which of your silly propositions I "believe". I do not "believe" either of them. And if I ever did decide to "believe" anything it probably wouldn't be anything like the beliefs you've offered. Until then, just accept that I tell you true when I say....

I HAVE NO BELIEFS.
.
Kosher

The "zen " method of tossing back "TUH may Tuhs" at the person who first throws a "Toe ma toe" at you, and then focuses on the pronunciation of the label of what is being thrown, rather than the experience of being hit by it and the request he stop throwing it, is to fire back such a deluge of whatever is being exchanged so hard and so fast that he agrees that we are in fact discussing a physical interaction and not playing word games.

As an installer of county government computer software, I often found myself as a tranlator ( cross carrier) between Geeks and Lawyers - ( two of the most LAW conscious groups in the world)

I always checked whjat was being said and found, ah! here's the MISUNDERSTANDING - and explained to each what the other was saying, usually so that each believed he had been vindicated, was in fact RIGHT- but that his notion of being right was NOT in conflict with the other sides notion of right, and here's how we can both be right and take care of the problem.

Some people insist not only that hey be Right, but that the other person admit that they are Wrong.

You will note on your keyboard that you have both a "Typewriter Return" Key marked labeled"Enter" and a numeric keypad key marked Enter. I recall a computer program in which both keys had exactly the same function and our geeks did an update that gave each a seperate and completely differnt function. Work in the offices ground to a halt. The data enterers learned the new system, work picked back up to a greater pace because of the update.

One Clerk of Court insisted that the program be changed back to the way it had been, his " girls" couldn't be bothered to learn the new way. Our geeks insisted that they couldn't do that without losing the whole upgrade function. I got to explain one group to the other, what each side wanted. The Clerk of Court primarily wanted our programmers to back down and admit they were wrong. Our programmers weren't about to do the extra work without pay. Our salesman primarily wanted to make money and keep the customer.

The programmers never admitted they were wrong to anyone and changed it back. I admitted to the Clerk of Courrt we had been wrong. The salesman charged him a whole bunch more money for the cutom upgrade. I got paid. The programmers got paid. the Clerk got to be Right. His constituents paid for it all. Everyone was happy.

I don't get paid to make people happy here. Bill reminds me of that clerk of court- he isn't so much interested in reaching an understanding and working things out, as being right and ALSO having the otherf party admit they are "Wrong".

I don't get paid to put up with that anymore. Bill is welcome to be "Right" wherever he wants, as long as he doesn't insist on bothering me with it. One of these days he will learn that slinging a "Toe Mah Toe" at me gets him a "Tuh may tuh" back.

Bill, I've got other things to do than play word games with you, especially since you seem to take it personally- again- don't dish out ( insisting on YOUR definiitions) if you don't want it back.

It doesn't matter to me what you "see in the mirror", what matters is that you claim to not see anything, and therefore state that there is nothing to see. Live long and prosper- as long as you don't pester me.
HRdR, you are in a public comment thread. The point of addressing your fallacious comment was not to be instructive to you as much as it was to anyone who might be influenced by a silly thought like the founding fathers were "men of integrity", but lawyers are not. It is not personal to say that both of those generalizations are ridiculous, but when they are put together they are downright ludicrous.

If you don't want to be bothered, by all means, do not read it. I might suggest catching up on some history, the founding fathers, perhaps. In the meantime, the now public discussion is for those who dont have a kitty hissy. Nothing personal.
Bill

You didn't address the thread, you addressed me- no problem, address me whenever you like.

In your case, I simply don't give a damn about your opinions.
You've amply shown you don't give a damn about mine.

My point is that you've proven to me that your opinion is worthless, so I feel free to make use of you as sporting equipment rather than taking you seriously, whenever you DO address me. Otherwise, there's no point in bothering with you.

You don't like the way I think of you? Convince me that you're trying to reach an understanding and not just insisting that you are right-
which doesn't bother me either-

Where we run into problems is when you say you assume MY authority to answer ( as in we ALL approve-) when you chose to speak as a "Voice of Governance".

That's a non starter. You don't have my authority to speak any opinion for me. As I believe I've said before, just government and authority requires the consent of the governed- I've withdrawn whatever consent you may have assumed, for you to govern or speak for me in any way.

As for you and your mirror, that's between you and your mirror.
You say there is no one there, and I believe you.
I find it interesting that you direct your disagreement and disagreeableness toward me, when basically several others are of the same opinion. My opinion meshes with SBA, Skypixe0, Kosher, and to some degree Joisey's. But if it makes you feel good, place my name on it. It is not personal, HRdR. And I even think you realize that you agree with me too, which is why you never return to the charred remains of your strawmen. Calling the founding fathers "men of integrity and honor" as a blanket generalization is a dumb as saying that lawyers are unable to "see themselves in mirrors." That is a bunch of overly dramatic nonsense, and even you agree.
As an apatheticarian, I feel left out of this. I don't think either belief is worth examining, even superficially. Woe unto those who like arguing the point in exhaustive detail of no details that lead to other details detailing the original positions. That seems like no result at all. At least chasing a tiger around a tree can make butter. That's a nice, almost white butter, for those who would intentionally misconstrue.

It is possible to say one has no belief, whether writing or speaking. However, if rules are made to be followed, the proper phrasing is: "I believe I have no belief," which, by perhaps some sort of linguistic algebra, and certainly by all rules of clarity and logic, is self-disproving and null, therefore simply not believable.

That's my belief. Believe it or not.
Bill

Why is it again that I care what you think?
Oh, yeah.
You are so easily baited.
Don't be a hockey puck
If you don't want to be used as sporting equipment, don't go out for it, sport.
That coming from the guy who's 0 - 987 at the Home Run Derby.
@Seer,

Every time I see one of your comments I'm reminded at how ill chosen your OS "name" is.

After reading through your repetitious blather, I've decided that only one sentence in it even comes near to making sense. It is this one:

""I do wonder though Sky, how your "I have no beliefs" measures any different from my "I have beliefs"?""

Is there any possible way in which no beliefs equates to beliefs? That seems to be what you are implying and I've never heard such balderdash in my life!

Are you next going to tell me that not having having life is the same as having life? That being tall is the same as being short? That being is the same as not being?

Let me take one minute more to correct you on something. You speak of our five senses as though you know something about our senses. Did you not know that recent research has revealed that we have as many as nineteen senses?

But aside from you - and a couple of others here - no one has made the statement that atheists think that only that which is readily to our un-enhanced senses is the sum total of real.

We will usually acknowledge such things as radio waves as being real. And we usually will allow that there are parts of the universe that we've not experienced with our senses. Are we then to accept subject matter (god) of the nonsensical blatherings of religionists as representing reality?

Since you ARE a "believer" in such a critter does that mean that you also accept as real all the other approximately 50,000 other gods men have believed in? May I safely assume that your willingness to believe in things for which there is no evidence, also means that you believe in fairies and gnomes, etc.?

And what kind of a "seer" would try such a puerile argument? I haven't fallen for that one since I was eleven years old and a priest used it on me. For pete's sake get a new line, will'ya. I am so tired of you religionists coming at me with the same tired, old, nonsensical arguments.

To make it clear. No Seer, your beliefs do not equal my lack of beliefs. My lack of such beliefs is reason based and your beliefs are contradictory to reason.

Can you reason well enough to see the difference?

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Keep the faith, HRdR. You are a fine example.
Oh shit! Another one!

Paul, what fucking rules are you talking about? Did you just make that one up on the spur of the moment?

I said, "I HAVE NO BELIEFS". Take my word for it man, I did not mean anything other than what I said. If I had wanted to say, "I believe ....etc., then that is what I'd have said.

You and Seer and a few others keep on trying to paraphrase what some of us have said in order to slither through the cracks in YOUR way of saying things that don't exist in our ways of saying things.

That's the second oldest trick in the book and, so far, not one of us has fallen for it. Are you few so enamoured of your self-believed cleverness in using such ancient, illogic that you just can't help yourselves?

.
I love the Sikhs- they stood up to the bogus and brutal caste system, saying NO ONE is untouchable. Heroes hundreds of years ago.

Christians I just don't know what to say to: the evidence Constantine put the Bible together in the 4th Century is indisputable, the Church itself recorded the Council at Nicea!!! Any belief in anything else is an absolute Fairy Tale. Attempts to claim the early Church fathers were somehow off base is ridicules, they were setting up the rules according to the new Emperor of a united East and Western Empire desires, so obvious.

"Religion is about authority and control."

Signed, Stephen Hawking

I don't need to hear it from anyone else.
Well, sky,
You're the one who makes up the idea you can have no belief without believing that to be true.

Me? I'm just adhering to the English language, the meaning of belief and poking fun at somebody who presents the idea one can have no belief and not think that isn't a belief.

You should craft another response, as that one doesn't make sense. There's no supporting argument for not having a belief not being a belief that isn't similarly gibberish. It doesn't matter if you are an irreligious atheist, the point is you'll not advance any idea if you're a raging anti-semantic.
I just read your response to seer. Yup, like I said...gibberish. However, if that doesn't sound so good, we can call it a logically unsupportable claim. Maybe amateurish intellectualism. Perhaps kamikaze argumentation. Or suicidal sophistry. You might have been inspired by Jabberwocky in some way.
It may be that you honestly don't believe what you say and, in that case, the implication that you don't satisfies what was an apparent contradiction.

Language--Use It, Don't Abuse It.

This public service announcement was brought to you by Merriam Webster.
Are you sure people don't like it when atheists talk about atheism? Your post seems to contradict that statement.

This is quite a rousing discussion you've got going here! I don't understand why a profession of atheism would bother someone else. The greatest and by far most appealing thing to me about being an atheist as opposed to a member of any religion is that there is only one tenet, which is: THERE'S NO GOD. That's it.
Nothing to memorize. No special days of observation. No snoozefests to attend on Sundays (usually). No foods are off-limits; conversely no fasting is required and the best thing - no guilt.

But seriously - organized religion is far different from simply believing in a creator. I agree that religious affiliations can do more harm than good although I consider myself a Catholic. But belief in God or in a higher entity can for many make the difference between viewing the world as a hopeful and beautiful place despite its flaws - or as a desolate and worthless wasteland.
@Paul,

It's becoming very hard to take you at all seriously.

Apparently your need to believe that I have a belief is so desperate that you will make yourself look foolish in the attempt to make of disbelief a belief!

Are you seriously proposing that the statement, "I have no beliefs" actually means, "I have a belief?"

Geeze, with that kind of 'logic' going for you, you'll have no trouble believing anything! Anything at all!

So why don't you just believe that I have no beliefs? That way you'll be happy in your belief and I'll be relieved of trying to think of you as a rational person.

I see no reason at all why I have to believe that I have no beliefs. Belief is merely the acceptance of something as true without sufficient evidence that it is. I have sufficient evidence to conclude that I have no beliefs; therefore I need not rely upon a belief that such is true. I have factual evidence. Evidence obviates the need for belief.

You, on the other hand, are so locked in to your belief that a non-believer must be, like you, a believer, that you'll happily twist words into pretzels to exhibit your puerile notion of intelligence.

If you can show me where Merriam-Webster says that non-belief is belief, I'll apologize to you and kiss your ass in the bargain. On the other hand, if you can't show me that, you can kiss my fat ass and I'll fart in your face as I leave you here to babble to yourself.
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@Margaret,

You are making the classic error of the religionist; you offer only two options - the world as a beautiful place and the world as a desolate wasteland. Neither - or perhaps both - are true. To some degree.

If religion makes some people walk around wearing rose-coloured glasses, as pleasant as that is, it is unrealistic. If lack of religion makes one think of the world as a desert wasteland, then that too is unrealistic.

Why limit yourself to two unreal options? Look around you and see what there is to see. You can do this either as a believer or as an atheist. Or even a someone who is neither. When you do it honestly you'll see pretty much the same thing from every point of view. It has beauty and it has wastelands. It isn't perfect and it isn't horrible. It is what it is.

It's called reality.
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ah yes, PJ enters....

So now the post has both bill, the most easily baited, and PJ, the master baiter. You guys are a match made in heaven. Why don't you two get together and be as fruitful and multiply as two of a kind can- Hopefully you will define each other in to (or out of) a real existence.
Margaret, people who "believe" in religion and god are the ones who are MUCH more likely to turn the world into a "desolate and worthless wasteland".

"In the name of god" has been on the lips of most every world leader as they perpetrated their atrocities, every terrorist who blew up a building, every good 'ol boy who burned a cross and every whacko who shoots up a school.

Do you know why "you never see an atheist in a foxhole"? Its because the vast majority of us abhor violence and WON'T go to war to protect some cockamamie beliefs.
Isn't there a big difference between religiosity and say "spirituality." You can lose track of all the religious teachings, and still feel faith. I can't seem to get rid of my faith though such faith often feels illogical or unrealistic. If Atheists don't feel this way, why would they just not feel it. Why name it? Why join groups dedicated to non-belief? Why give any less sure human - grief?
Why anyone would get hostile about anyone's faith is crazy. If that "faith" appears as judgemental and cruel(Homophobia, racism etc) then it really is about lousy people trying to use religion to feel superior. Some of the smartest people have expressed belief in higher powers. It really shouldn't be a topic for argument, unless it is the Atheist's belief that asserting their Atheism is beneficial to society, or something.

Using the bible to substantiate prejudice seems a whole other issue, and one that would bring out hostility.
Sky,
The easiest way for you to avoid the blunder of saying you have no belief, but don't believe that to be true, is to qualify the non-belief.

Examples:
I have no belief in God.
I have no belief in Satan.
I have no belief in the meaning of words.
I have no belief in logical consistency.

You:
"That being tall is the same as being short?"

"Tall" and "short" are opposing descriptions.

"Belief," standing unqualified, leaves meaning ambiguous, at best, where your argument is concerned. This wide opening is easy to stroll through if one wishes to poke some fun at somebody who thinks his perceived truth is untrue. Because the word has varied use and connotative meaning, the intelligent user will make the context clear by attaching the object of disbelief.

However, I see the usefulness of unqualified "belief" if one believes they have some heretofore undiscovered, brilliantly crafted and logically consistent dissection of meaning and use. The problem is you don't, and the nature of the word defeats your premise.

Obviously others have pointed out your claim is impossible.

Time for that old Persian saying (or close enough to it):

If 1 person calls you a horse, ignore them.

If 2 call you a horse, consider it.

If 3 call you a horse, it's time to buy a saddle.

To avoid an expansive argument that has zero hope of prevailing, qualify the use of "belief." I believe that to be the easiest way you can avoid discrediting your ability to think well enough to clearly express your belief. Or you can buy a saddle.
But that's the thing, Fernsy... Atheism WOULD BE beneficial to society, IMO. It would eliminate the excuse of "religious beliefs" as grounds for murder and abuse. If you take heaven and 72 virgins away from a jihadist there wouldn't be too many of them would there? If you too away "religion" as the shiled of those good 'ol boys in congress you wouldn't have the abuses of human, LGBTQ and women's rights they are attempting to enforce.

I also disagree that athiests are the only ones who "need to be quiet and stay in the closet". We, as a group do NOT proselytize. We do'nt condemn "faggots" and we don't knock on your door to teach you "the word!". What we do do, is stand up for our ideals and not let the fundies (or the spiritualists, for that matter, cuz they are the same thing really) dictate what we believe.
O'Rourke, are you planning on adding anything to this discussion or are you just here to be a punk ass, know-it-all-wannabe?
I worship Marley's ghost

Bob Marley's that is... makes as much sense as anything else.
Never promote it though. I get enough eyerolls already when I open my mouth.

Christianity in particular bugs me. Fundamentals of any stripe though, doing evil in the name of this and that god, and people lining up to applaud . . uh

I'm jammin' mon (my typed imitation of Bob)
SBA, I hear what you are saying. I think though it gets lost since faith and religiosity are maybe different things. I believe we must have the decent people party vs. the rest. I have come to loathe us vs. them dom. Too much labels and partisanship. You likely are coming across fundies more than I. And, you appear to much more politically active(which is truly admirable, as you know) I'm a semi hermit, who has slowly but surely, devised ways to avoid as many awful people, as possible.
The Soviet Union was atheistic. China at its most repressive was atheistic. I'm not saying that atheism had much to do with their behaviors but don't be too quick to assume the moral superiority of atheists on the grounds that they're atheists.
Bull.

The Soviet Union and China repressed religion for political power reasons. It had nothing to do with their "belief in a higher power". Stop with the straw men already, okay?
I'm telling you. The decent people party is where it's at. All races, religions, belief systems welcome. Even Canadian Wiccans can join!
Quite instructive is the fun-making of Rastafarianism when a cursory review shows a much more likely direct lineage to apostolistic succession through Abyssinia then the absolute lies of 'Christian' Rome- not to mention the obvious parallel between Moses' group and the Jamaicans: it is quite worth a look and consideration, though there WILL not be any actual burning bushes involved ... ooops, well maybe there will. COPTIC MON!
Oahu.. I was serious mon
T- I did have one religious experience: when Bob played Maui in the 70s! Now there is a day I'd like to have over again out of all my amazing memories, thank 'God' for dreams, and thank the 70s for the flashbacks that make me write sometimes. We gonna chase dem crazy bunkheads out of toooowwwwn!

Build your penitentiary, we build your schools,
Brainwash education to make us the fools.
Hate is your reward for our love,
Telling us of your God above.

Yes, T, Bob is Da Savior.
Kosher, I never, ever thought I would see the day that this would be necessary, but SBA is right and you are wrong regarding the Soviets and China, and atheism.

A person, standing independent from religion is vastly different from a nation making religion illegal. Come on, Kosh, you are smarter than that. Just like SBA said, China and the Soviets did not want any power to compete with their own. That is purely a political motivation. Lenin took what Marx said about religion and adapted it to a way of creating what he called a "Vanguard Party." Conversely, and borrowing from the Rush lyrics to Tom Sawyer, "though his mind is not for rent, don't put him down as arrogant. His reserve a quiet defense. Riding out the days events..." From an individual perspective, atheism is utterly different from state atheism.
Paul,
You haven't yet earned the privilege of asking me to define my use of the word belief, let alone the right to demand that I chose one of your definitions.

I see that you couldn't find anything in Merriam-Webster to verify your nonsense claim. That ends the discussion.

Go masturbate - no one here will let you fuck with them.
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@Kosh,
Gotta go with Bill and SBA on this one. There is indeed a vast difference between state atheism and personal atheism - just as there is between state religion and personal beliefs.

Those who were in power in the USSR and in China have acted as people infected by the power virus. It had nothing at all to do with religion or atheism with the possible exception that such people did not want a competing philosophy to challenge their right to rule.
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Margaret: Your words "I agree that religious affiliations can do more harm than good although I consider myself a Catholic. But belief in God or in a higher entity can for many make the difference between viewing the world as a hopeful and beautiful place despite its flaws - or as a desolate and worthless wasteland."

It's not necessary to believe in a God to view the world as a hopeful and beautiful place. As a matter of fact, you will find that scientists use words like 'beauty', 'elegance', 'fascinating' etc. to describe the world. Atheists have relationships as satisfying as religionists, and they are as fulfilled in the same ways. I can't think of any atheists who walk around moping because there is no God.

A proper way to find out about how atheists see those things might be to ask a lot of them. It's like a scientific experiment: You first come up with a theory, maybe based on what you've been told, or a hunch. You can't stop there. Then you have to prove it. Take a poll or perform an experiment to get the facts that prove or disprove your original theory.
Sky, I have to agree with you. A state religion or state atheism is bad. People should not be forced by a government to subscribe to either a religion or to atheism. It leads to nasty business -- the Catholic church and its Inquisitions, the Protestant witch hunts, the brutal Muslim attacks against its own people for various infractions, the Taliban, and the repression of Chinese and Russian people who wish to practice a religion.

The fact that some countries have forced religion or atheism on its people has no relationship to the merits of the various religions or of atheism.
Gary,

How about we simply start teaching the actual history, not just of the 1st Century Middle East, but of Egypt, Persia, Greece, India and China? How about we start with a chart of how 're-birth and resurrection' are the obvious descriptions of the Sun's transit from Summer to Winter, the "re-birth" resulting in the harvest?, and how every primitive religion, from Osiris to Yeshua, merely, and very, very obviously, appropriate all this. And how about we have a MANDATORY study of the 1st Century, how the Romans sacked the Temple in 70AD, what Revelation actually refers to (Nero) and so forth? I mean, we're studying the Herstory of the World, N'est ce pas?
Bill,
I hesitate to answer just because you now have the joy of a new experience. Not that my answer would necessarily change things.

Bill, Amy, Sky,

The question is whether we'd be better off with atheists than with people of religion, which was Amy's contention. The additional question y'all have raised has to do with individual vs. religion (or lack thereof) of the State. The US not having a state religion, I guess that's a moot point, but still, atheism is far from a guarantee of morality, which was my point. It isn't.

Now, would we be better off here with atheists than with people with religion? It depends on which religion(s). If you're comparing atheists with the religions of the majority in the House, let's say, and probably even Congress in general, Probably. However, that's not the only alternative, being as we're dealing with theoreticals here. Would atheism be preferable to a mixture of, say, Unitarian, Reform Jewish, Quaker, Sufi, and Buddhist? Probably not. In that case, there probably wouldn't be an appreciable difference, though I don't know the statistics so that's nothing but an educated guess.

My point here, which is a point I've posted about, is that the dichotomy of religious/atheistic as typically portrayed is a false one because of who is typically represented by the Religious category. Yes, I know that, for example, there are a lot of Church-based people fighting LGBT rights but I also know that there are a lot of congregation-based people, including my own congregation and many churches in my geographic area, who have fought For LGBT rights. Opposition to Amendment One, the State amendment here that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, was pretty heavy among local clergy, and the opposition was politically active. In many cases, including my congregation, we're also active on womens' rights.

Yes, religion has been used heavily to deny LBGT rights and womens' rights. However, that's mainly because my fellow liberals are, by and large, stupid in that they are so afraid of being perceived as not respecting the separation of Church and State that they abdicate any religion-based politics, leaving the publically stated Voice of God to Conservatives. The trouble is that their use of the Voice of God isn't generally consistent with, not to put too fine a point on it, the Voice of God. They're picking and choosing. I look at what's going on in my state and I would call what's happened recently very anti-religious but by a lot of people who would tell you they're religious. Walk into a hotel room, take a Gideon Bible out of the drawer, open it to a random page, and check if you find a reference to helping the poor or giving justice to the dispossessed within ten pages of the page you opened. Chances are you'll find both. Try that with homosexuality; there are very few references in either testament to homosexuality (and one of the biggest ones, Sodom and Gomorrah, isn't about homosexuality at all, it's about homosexual rape, which is a completely different issue). Don't bother trying it with lesbianism; at least in the Old Testament, no actual prohibition exists. Don't try it with abortion either; I don't think that one's mentioned at all. And yet my legislators think they're being religious by attacking abortions and gay marriage while also cutting back on unemployment benefits and Medicaid (or is it Medicare? I confuse them) benefits, harming the poor, and instituting the most draconian voter ID laws in the country, dispossessing those who have the least access to justice when there isn't an appreciable problem of voter fraud to begin with.

Is atheism superior in these respects to all religions? I don't think so. The use of the term "religion" is a gross generalization, and I find that most of the time the generalizations don't include mine, particularly my movement/sect (Reform), so I object to being painted repeatedly by that brush.

And that is a legitimate objection.
Kosh,
You went to great lengths to clarify how religions differ and how the christian bible is interpreted - and often ignored - by politicians seeking to present themselves as 'religious' to potential voters.

What you did not do was the same sort of evaluation of atheists. It is a serious error to think that there is any kind of an 'atheist philosophy' that all, or most, atheists adhere to. Basically all we have in common is that we cannot find sufficient evidence to support the contention that there is a deity so therefor we do not believe there is one.

While some might expect that an atheist, due to apparently placing more value on reason and logic than his religious counterparts are given credit for doing, would apply such reasoning and logic to his duties while in public office, I see no evidence that this is so.

Even in light-hearted discussions such as this, I see some atheists claiming to 'believe' that there is no god. Perhaps they do indeed believe that. If so they are simply trading one belief for another. These are likely the people whom we find to later change their position when someone manages to change their 'belief.'

It is not my intention to argue here the different kinds of atheists and which is 'better' than which. I just want to point out that there are differences in thought among atheists and because of that, one cannot determine 'what atheists will do' in a given situation. Just as with religionists, some will do one thing and some another.

Offhand, I can think of no atheist who has been any kind of a shining example of how much better an atheist governs than how anyone else governs. Power corrupts atheists just as surely as it does religionists.

But you have shifted the question slightly, haven't you? The question was not about whether atheists govern better than religionists, it was about the difference between state religion or state atheism being directly similar, or dissimilar, to personal religion or personal atheism.

Perhaps you'd care to speak to that proposition now that you've given us the benefits of your thoughts on the altered version you broached here.
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Sky,
I actually didn't shift the question. Amy's statement, the one I addressed initially, was about us being better off with more atheists in politics.

As to whether it makes a difference whether one gets their atheism from the State, I have no idea. Atheism is not, after all, analogous to religion, so I won't try to analyze it that way.
Kosher, you're running away from that straw man as fast as your feet will carry you, huh? Don't blame you. It was lame.

Now you're try to redefine what was said.

I didn't say politics at all. What I said was, "Atheism WOULD BE beneficial to society..." and THAT is within the context of the discussion I was having with Fernsy. (not you.)
The certainty that must, by definition, accompany atheism, seems as much a poverty of imagination as exists in the certainty accompanying theism.
I'll say this for Kosh. He thinks like an atheist. He is essentially uncorrupted by ideology. Even is moniker his rather unorthodox literally and figuratively. He is not an atheist, and it does not matter. It shouldn;t just like it should not matter is someone is Shia, or Sunni, or Presbyterian, or Zoroastrian.

I'll go out on a limb here and say that there is a tradition within Judaism that is quite rational. Various branches of other religions have their more rational elements. Jesuits have an old tradition of reason which separates them quite substantially from, say, Dominicans or Franciscans. And of course these are not all rules...maybe even stereotypes, but we do know that Jesuits helped to save Western Civilization when barbarians were destroying libraries...and other Christians.

So, Kosher is not so bad. Just....no Methodists.
Bill,
Thank you

Amy,
Which straw man? You're right about the society/politics gaffe. Careless of me.

However, let's talk for a minute about atheism eliminating the motivation for certain crimes on religious grounds, which is the point I was trying to address with the Communist reference. Of those crimes you listed, there are also existing religions, some of which I named, that don't justify those crimes on religious grounds.

So, I guess it depends on what you're saying. There are two ways to interpret that. One is that atheism is in this respect superior to religions in general, and I don't think that's a valid generalization, which is my point. The other is that an increase in the percentage of atheists in the population would be better in this respect than the current religious mix. That's probably true.

Which did you mean?
Excellent topic and thread! Rated!

Of the 50,000 plus gods who have been and are worshiped, we are all atheist when it comes to most all of them, except the one or two to whom individual people profess allegiance. In the words of Richard Dawkins: “I just go one god further.” It’s comical that Christians and Muslims (mostly) ridicule atheists for their disbelief when they themselves disbelieve all other gods and “faiths” with easy disdain.

Sky is right on the mark. Well stated--all.

Christopher Hitchens has said that he is not really Atheist, as there is no way to disprove god, but that he was merely Anti-theist, because if god does exist, he is a jealous, petty, arrogant, vindictive, childish, envious asshole who needs to be worshiped or he will punish you, destroy you—not once, but for ever and ever in a constant burning frenzy of fire (paraphrased).

One does not need a religious backdrop to live a moral life. We are all born Atheist—with a clear mind. Who can refute that we adopt teachings and beliefs of our parents, for the most part. Jew babies become Jewish practitioners, Christian babies become Christians and Muslims become Muslims Muslims however are murdered if they ever try to leave. Christians merely go to Hell. No wonder they stay faithful by the masses.

To Gary’s point about declaring one’s Atheism, I will say that this has historically been taboo. I remember thinking that Madalyn Murray O’Hair was evil back when I was a devout Christian. I was very judgmental of Atheists as Satanic. I am embarrassed to say that I once had the missionary zeal of the Pope, to convert the world to faith in god. Now that I have escaped the grasp of the cognitive dissonance and religious belief which held me bound, I find myself possessing the same missionary zeal to de-convert the duped, and to save them from the life not lived, which I experienced. As Gary pointed out, Atheists have this right to speak out. This does not however negate the obligation in our society to present arguments in a polite and diplomatic manner.

Belief clearly stems from the evolution of man’s ego and the sense of purpose we feel in our existence. Michael Shermer, in his book The Believing Brain presents very good examples of this evolution. Of all the species, we are most capable of arrogance. We go beyond the innate instincts of survival, to compete not just for food and procreation rights, but to control the minds and destiny of our fellow man. We go beyond the Alpha Dog behavior.

Some suggest that there is no harm in belief, and that Atheists are out of line for calling out believers to provide evidence. As Gary eloquently stated, there is no harm in dialogue—this is how humanity learns and evolves. Humanity should be free to believe in whatever silly nonsense they desire, be it Unicorns, Leprechauns, Tooth Fairies, Santa Clause, etc., but other humans have the right to laugh at, ridicule, debate, counter, and offer alternative thought to the magical make believe, superstitious and supernatural ideas that have been postulated, and promoted since man was confused about fire, rain, lightning and earthquakes. We have learned that sacrificing first, babies, then goats, and now 10% of our income in tithes and offerings, doesn't keep god at bay. In fact, it doesn't now nor ever has made a damn bit of difference in keeping cancer out of your body or a lightning bolt from hitting your house.

The reason Atheists are exercising their voice, is because they are the people who were never religious, or they are those who were religious and have escaped (the most vocal), and they see how believers impact society adversely.

Believers are passionate about their gods and their plans for humanity. They are annoyed at the sinful progress of nonbelievers (the gay movement, the godless humanists, the abortionists, the cloners and geneticists who pretend they are god, the school prayer naysayers, the 10 commandment removers, etc.). When believers make policy on women’s issues, stem cell technology, abortion, crime, and Middle East diplomacy, it affects us all. When the lines of what is considered criminal and what is sin are blurred by religious ideology, people suffer. When M.E. Diplomacy is based on Armageddon prophecy of the Bible, we are all impacted, and some much more than others. Religious belief has done much more harm than good in the history of man. Religious people would be good people without religion—all the same. I would contend they would be better without it, because they would be less judgmental and less hypocritical.

Thanks to the internet, parishioners of all faiths can now question the doctrines and actually get answers that aren't filtered at the pulpit. The Internet is where religions go to die! Cell towers and the Internet is bringing freedom and enlightenment to the masses who have been held down by centuries of dogma, ceremony, and obligation. People are freeing themselves of guilt through research and study, the study of how they have been duped. Atheists have the right to profess, and advertise their insights the same as Coca Cola does.

When Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness, or Baptist missionaries come to my door, I don’t get annoyed. They are exercising their right of free expression. I simply counter with the same right and they usually never return, after I have shaken their faith to its very core with my kind questioning and dialogue. I share my experiences and my evidence. That is the beauty of freedom and cordial dialogue of the issues that affect our world. We all get to have experiences interacting and we learn from each other and hopefully advance in the long run. Pardon my waxing into a Kumbayah motif.

As Sky highlighted: believe what you want, but be prepared to defend with evidence. Faith is called “faith,” because it has no evidence. Atheism is not a religion or a belief. It is an absence of belief. As someone who has been a devout believer and now an un-equivocating non believer, a skeptic and questioner, I have not adopted a stance of impossibility of existence of a power, or an afterlife. I am simply waiting for the evidence to be presented and eagerly await new possibilities to explore and examine, or evidence to test. It has simply become abundantly clear that no current religious ideology has a shred of probability based on evidence. Most Atheists I know are of the same mindset. There is still great beauty in the world. Religion doesn't own beauty, morality, wonder, and certainly not knowledge.

Oryoki Bowl said she has “met a lot of close minded scientists.” Most scientists only seem close minded when presented with nonsense because they see no evidence to support the myriad of superstitious and supernatural claims. They listen…and reject; and this rejection appears arrogant and close minded. These scientists are simply waiting for evidence which seems to be ever elusive.
The probabilities of a god, simply fall into the ranks of leprechauns and unicorns when put up against all we now know of our world and universe. Most people are still thinking in terms of their grandfather’s science books. They are way behind, as are those who constantly quote from the Bronze Age blathering of the Bible. Hype is the worst four letter word in language, and the masses, over the centuries, have merely propagated these delusions via deference to familial word of mouth, and with the help of those in power who seize the opportunity to exploit the lazy who do not question or seek answers.
Unbelievably well thought out and in-depth comments! Some could be posted articles. It's going to take me a while to absorb them.
@Jonathan,

Your failure to understand the nature of atheism is evident in your attempt to make it fit your concept of it so that you can foolishly try to belittle and demean it by comparing it to religious beliefs.

Let me straighten you out a bit....
The certainty that accompanies atheism is NOT certainty that no god exists as much as it is certainty that no solid evidence of such a being has ever been presented to us for examination.

My personal certainty that no god exists stems from the ancient philosophical concept that says that one cannot prove a negative (a falsehood); which implies that one CAN prove a positive (truth).

Believers claim that there is a god. If this is a positive (truthful) statement then they ought to have no trouble providing concrete evidence of this claim. The complete lack of any such evidence indicates that this is a negative statement, i.e. false.

This is made even more striking when one consider that claims of the existence of a god or gods have been made for thousands of years. In all that time a great many very serious people have searched high and low for any shred of evidence that they can put up to prove their claims. All to no avail. Not a jot nor a tittle of solid evidence has ever been found to support such a claim.

That provides me with sufficient certainty that there is no god for me to accept that as true and accurate. Others might require more - or less- evidence in order to have the same certainty that I have. That is up to them.
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In short:
The lack of evidence proving that there is a god is evidence that proves there is not one.
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god-no god......w-ever.....he/it leaves me alone....i'll do same...
If you must play with definitions instead of experience:

God is defined as the Supreme Being
I am
I am a Being
If no other being is greater than I
Then I am the Supreme Being
Why I keep you guys around
is a mystery
QED
Aren't word games fun?

God is not a definition
God must be experience
I don't believe IT
I am IT
tat tvam asi
@Rudy,

Oh yeah?!

Well I'm a Supreme Being too!

And I'm a Supremer Being than you are. So there!

And my father is Supremer than your father!

And ....and...... and yer mother wears army boots!

Na. Na. Na, na, na..........

(~grin~)
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So are you guys gonna sing a chorus of Stop! In the Name of Love now?
@Sky

You don't remember being litter mates? (- playing in the same litter box.) As I remember it, your father smelled of elderberries.......
:-)

@Kosher

No, rather Jimi Hendrix "Are you Experienced"
What fun would this place be if everybody loved everybody else? Sheeesh.....
Tell me you didn't miss the Supremes reference
Kosher

uuuuh- so much for omniscient, i 've never been very musical. Me and sky never claimesd to be THE Supremes, just a couple of ordinary supremes.

At any rate, one of us is the supreme being, by definition. Until we get a ruling from the supremes, I'm asserting my claims of supremecy