December 26, 2014

"Why is it assumed that atheists need to fill a void that religion somehow answers?"

"I find this column, and the many like it which the Times has published over the years, to be more than a little bit mystifying.... I feel no such void, and I rather doubt that many other atheists do, either. It has always seemed to me that the question should be reversed: why do religionists need to fill a perceived void that the rest of us don't feel? This life, this world, the values I hold, are quite sufficient for me; I feel no need to turn to some community professing belief in the supernatural to find meaning in life. I respect those who feel differently, but I do wonder why those professing belief need such an external reassurance of their own worth."

Top-rated comment at a NYT column "Religion Without God," by Stanford anthroprof T. M. Luhrmann. Let me extract from the column what I think answers the commenter's question:
[T]he British Humanist Association... sponsors a good deal of anti-religious political activity. They want to stop faith-based schools from receiving state funding and to remove the rights of Church of England bishops to sit in the House of Lords. They also perform funerals, weddings and namings. In 2011, members conducted 9,000 of these rituals.
So there are 2 (entirely divergent) needs : 1. anti-religion political activism, 2. rituals.

ADDED: I think many of the people who don't believe but want ritual in their lives simply continue to attend a traditional house of worship, perhaps keeping within the religious sect of their parents or grandparents or moving into the sect of their spouse. One might also enter a traditional place of worship that is nearby and seems beautiful in some way, perhaps because of the liturgy or the music, perhaps because of an eloquent minister and a compelling congregration.

And people with political needs also choose traditional religion without necessarily believing the metaphysical aspects. President Obama is the best example of that. As I wrote a few years ago, citing "Dreams from My Father," chapter 14:
While working as a community organizer, Obama was told that it would "help [his] mission if [he] had a church home" and that Jeremiah Wright "might be worth talking to" because "his message seemed to appeal to young people like [him]." Obama wrote that "not all of what these people [who went to Trinity] sought was strictly religious... it wasn't just Jesus they were coming home to." He was told that "if you joined the church you could help us start a community program," and he didn't want to "confess that [he] could no longer distinguish between faith and mere folly." He was, he writes, "a reluctant skeptic." Thereafter, he attends a church service and hears Wright give a sermon titled "The Audacity of Hope" (which would, of course, be the title of Obama's second book). He describes how moved he was by the service, but what moves him is the others around him as they respond to a sermon about black culture and history. He never says he felt the presence of God or accepted Jesus as his savior or anything that suggests he let go of his skepticism. Obama's own book makes him look like an agnostic (or an atheist). He respects religion because he responds to the people who believe, and he seems oriented toward leveraging the religious beliefs of the people for worldly, political ends.
Of course, if your political agenda is anti-religion, you're not going to take this path. And you're not going to get elected to much of anything.

275 comments:

1 – 200 of 275   Newer›   Newest»
David Hampton said...

I generally find religious folks more fun and happy to be around. Atheists, etc. in their demeanor usually appear to be quietly desperate and defensive.j If our religion offends them because we lead by example to help them obtain the level of happiness we enjoy that is their choice.

Humperdink said...

Not only did I have voids in my life, I had doubts as well. Maybe Christians are unique like that.

I sure can't speak for anyone else, but the Lord liberated me from the doubts and fears about the future. And of course the bondage of alcohol, cigarettes and a hosts of things that were destroying me.

biff jupiter said...

I'm agnostic at best, but always mystified by the anger of many atheists. Something is bothering these people and I am forced to conclude they long for something.

Hammond X. Gritzkofe said...

So there are 2 (entirely divergent) needs : 1. anti-religion political activism, 2. rituals.

I would posit anti-religion political activism as being a ritual.

Eleanor said...

I'm an atheist. I'm not unhappy. I don't long for anything. I'm not quietly desperate nor am I defensive. I keep my lack of belief to myself unless I'm insulted by someone who believes in sky fairies. Ritual can be a source of comfort for many people, but it is also a a way to condition people to a certain mindset. It's not unreasonable for someone to ask you why a church would feel the need to repeat the same ritual week after week. Eventually, people can just go through the motions without having to think. Which is what a church is trying to do - to get you to stop thinking.

Quayle said...

It is my observation, and I would suggest, that everyone innately knows there is a right and a wrong, and furthermore, that everyone innately knows what is right and what is wrong.

I don't believe it is even a close question.

I further believe that, try as they have, anti-religious atheists have failed to meet their burden to disprove the above.

Trying to rid themselves of the above, is what is so vexing to atheists, Biff Jupiter.

nina said...

Let me suggest that most atheists are not politically active (and indeed, you'll never hear them talking about religion or their lack of it), they do not have a need to participate in church functions and they do not feel a void. They go about their business as any other, respecting religion for those who participate in it (so long as the religious don't go to war over it or abuse the innocent within their fold), but find it impossible to buy into the belief systems that lie at the foundation of it. Period.

Shouting Thomas said...

This is precisely the reason I seldom read your site or comment any more.

You've filled that void up with pettifogging every custom, every moment of our lives. You are the oppressor.

I stopped arguing with you once I realized that I was buying into your assumption that every aspect of life must be lawyered and subject to the tyranny of your intellect. To discuss anything with you is to accept your assumption that everything, down to whether people are entitled to modesty when they go to the toilet, must be torn apart, analyzed and subject to a court battle.

You are determined to destroy every custom and tradition of our fathers. You are an intensely destructive woman.

The only way to deal with your desire to destroy the rituals, customs and traditions of my father is to stay the hell away from you and attempt to rebuild those things in a community of sane people who are not dedicated to nihilism and destrution, as you are.

You are an incredibly oppressive, destructive woman. Everything is for you. You will not humble yourself before the wisdom of our fathers. You are Exhibit A in why intellectual, white woman are to be avoided at all costs.

Bob Boyd said...

"I feel no need to turn to some community professing belief in the supernatural to find meaning in life."

When a finger points to the moon, the imbecile looks at the finger.

Shouting Thomas said...

My best to you and your husband.

You are my enemy and oppressor, but I try to heed the words of Christ... that we must love our enemies.

The best way to do that is to not pay attention to you and to refuse to engage you in the pettifogging tactic. It's a very clever tactic, indeed.

Ann Althouse said...

"I generally find religious folks more fun and happy to be around. Atheists, etc. in their demeanor usually appear to be quietly desperate and defensive."

You're not seeing the atheists who are camouflaged all around you. I assume the majority of atheists choose not to proselytize and go with the flow and even respect and admire the good they see in those who really believe or try to believe in religion.

And I think there are at least as many desperate and defensive religionists as there are desperate and defensive atheists.

Jesus said: "You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you?"

He wasn't talking about avowed atheists!

Roger Sweeny said...

Robert Heinlein used to say that a "sect" was any religion you weren't born into. Lots of people stayed in a religion out of inertia and the network of friends and acquaintances there. However, joining another religion meant you had to think about and affirmatively accept their beliefs, all of which he considered to be ridiculous.

Many people have pointed out how often environmentalism or "social justice" seems to serve as a substitute for religion among those who consider themselves non-religious.

Ann Althouse said...

"Many people have pointed out how often environmentalism or "social justice" seems to serve as a substitute for religion among those who consider themselves non-religious."

Click my "religion substitutes" tag. I've got lots in the archive on this subject, one of my favorites.

I wrote an exam for my Religion and the Constitution class once that had a public school doing environmentalist ceremonies in a way that corresponded to the kind of religious practices that clearly violate Establishment Clause doctrine.

Ann Althouse said...

I wrote my 7:58 comment before reading what Eleanor and Nina wrote, and, clearly, they are the kind of people I am talking about.

CStanley said...

The author of the comment should speak for himself. The article itself presents evidence that other atheists demonstrate a need to fill this void. And it is perfectly logical to ask atheists what the point of this void is, if not to respond to the call of the Creator.

Once again, the topic begs a shout out to Jonathan Haidt. Even if some people don't feel the void, they should recognize that it is a real phenomenon and not a foible.

Ann Althouse said...

And I wrote my 7:58 comment before reading what Shouting Thomas wrote, and he is the other kind of person I was writing about... the part where I said "there are at least as many desperate and defensive religionists."

I invite David Hampton to come back and say whether he'd have more fun and happiness with Nina and Eleanor or with Shouting Thomas.

I expect him to say: "Hey, I said 'generally'!"

tim in vermont said...

As an atheist, I almost never bring it up. Except in anonymous conversations like this. But one thing that always struck me is the anger behind the terms "sky fairies" and "flying spaghetti monster," etc. What is that about? What harm do religious people do to deserve that kind of derision.

The universe is chaotic, human nature is built on surfing that chaos and is in no way fully consistent to any set of humanly comprehensible rules so we deal with it, even us atheists, with stories we tell ourselves and simple sets of rules that help us get by from day to day. How they differ from religion in any serious fundamental way is beyond me.

One example is feminism, which takes as an article of faith that a random universe following certain organizing laws, such as evolution, created men and women with the same needs and abilities and somehow imposed fairness on that universe, only to be denied by the males of our species.

Such a position is more laughable than the belief in "sky fairies."

CStanley said...

I wrote my 7:58 comment before reading what Eleanor and Nina wrote, and, clearly, they are the kind of people I am talking about.

12/26/14, 8:04 AM


I would suggest that what Nina wrote applies generally to agnostics, not atheists. If someone is truly atheist I think they feel a need to proselytize against the belief in God.

Eleanor's comment borders on that, and ignores the vast amount of encouragement to think about matters of moral philosophy that exists in the history of the Catholic Church.

Laslo Spatula said...

Althouse said:

"...whether he'd have more fun and happiness with Nina and Eleanor..."

From what they have written I'd probably enjoy a conversation with Nina. Eleanor, though...
Eleanor said:
"....unless I'm insulted by someone who believes in sky fairies..."

"...Which is what a church is trying to do - to get you to stop thinking."

...which I find elitist and dismissive, which usually leaves a conversation short.

I am one lock of hair away from completing my Taylor Swift Shrine, so who am I to judge?


I am Laslo.

Michael said...

Eleanor is not angry in the least. Nor discontent.
You can tell that because she uses the cheery term "sky fairies." You can actually picture her clenched jaw. The vein throbbing at the temple.

Oh, and the insightful. Yea sophomoric, observation that church ritual is meant to stop the congregation from thinking.

You can be sure she is neither unhappy nor defensive

CStanley said...

As for the political arena- like Nina asserts for atheism (though again I think she's talking about agnosticism), most religious people also want to simple have the freedom to go about their lives as they see fit. The political fights come about because the default in our country involved a lot of religious expression in the public sphere, and now that atheists are pushing back religious people feel that their freedom is under attack.

I guess on both sides though, people feel, "Hey, I didn't start this, I'm just responding to what those other guys say and do."

tim in vermont said...

If someone is truly atheist I think they feel a need to proselytize against the belief in God.

Nope.

And what Laslo said.

Humperdink said...

Eleanor said: "... It's not unreasonable for someone to ask you why a church would feel the need to repeat the same ritual week after week. Eventually, people can just go through the motions without having to think. Which is what a church is trying to do - to get you to stop thinking."

You apparently haven't visited many full gospel churches. Your comment reminds me of people who expound on (read: mock) the Bible having never read the book in it's full context.

PS: Stop thinking? Think about this. What would the Bible have four gospels and not just one?

James Pawlak said...

James J. Kaufman
VS
Gary R. McCaughtey, et. al.
7th US Court Of Appeals
#04-1914
Decided Aug. 19, 2005.

"Atheism" as a religion protected by the First Amendment.

CStanley said...

Ha, I see others have noticed that Eleanor and Nina's comments are not of a kind.

Defensiveness is a function of the security one feels in one's beliefs. There are insecure people among religious and non-religious.

tim in vermont said...

And it is perfectly logical to ask atheists what the point of this void is, if not to respond to the call of the Creator.

A successful evolutionary adaptation, would be my answer. But, like I said, that is as much a "just so" story as is Genesis.

mtrobertsattorney said...

The "church is trying...to get you to stop thinking."

The bedrock belief of atheism is this: "If you can't measure it, it doesn't exist."

All the atheists I have meet have stopped thinking about whether this belief is true.

Roger Sweeny said...

"Many people have pointed out how often environmentalism or "social justice" seems to serve as a substitute for religion among those who consider themselves non-religious."

An interesting recent article is Joseph Bottum's "The Spiritual Shape of Political Ideas." The man (a believing Christian) has a way with words.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/spiritual-shape-political-ideas_819707.html

Lucien said...

timinvermont:"What harm do religious people do to deserve that kind of derision"?

Really? Read the paper. Schoolchildren slaughtered, reporters' heads cut off, doctor's assassinated because they perform abortions, women with their clitorises cut off and their vaginas sewn up,women forbidden to drive, to go to school, to dress as they please, to ride on the same bus as men, or to socialize with them-- where's the harm in that?

Do you think it is the non-religious Israelis who insist on building more "settlements" on the West Bank? Do non-religious folks care much about who is gay, or whether people should be allowed to drink alcohol (or caffeine)?

And that's just our current times, leaving out human sacrifice, witch burning, stoning, burning "heretics" at the stake, torture to force conversions, etc.

And if you can find Eric Hoffer's book "The True Believer" it offers the observation that the more people feel the need to fill a void in themselves with passionate and unwavering belief in something larger than themselves, the more those of them who are not religious will find communism, fascism, or some other totalitarian system. These have don some harm, too, though it is often ascribed to supposed atheism of the actors involved.

To talk of sky fairies and flying spaghetti monsters, and to draw pictures of Mohamed with a bomb in his turban and the like is to make fun of people who would cut your head off or burn you at the stake for making fun of their deities. But it is ridicule that they deserve.

Basil said...

Christians are so happy about their relationship with God through Christ that they want to share it with others. Atheists want to destroy all religions, but mostly Christianity because, well, why really? Because they are unhappy people who hate seeing someone else being happy? Because they are narcissists who can only see the world through their own personal thoughts? I have never met an atheist who was not, at least, a huge egotist. It's all about them, can't you see that?

hombre said...

Eleanor: "I'm an atheist. I'm not unhappy. I don't long for anything. I'm not quietly desperate nor am I defensive. I keep my lack of belief to myself unless I'm insulted by someone who believes in sky fairies. Ritual can be a source of comfort for many people, but it is also a a way to condition people to ... get you to stop thinking."

Bwa-ha-ha. The insightful atheist speaks.h

damikesc said...

EVERYBODY needs faith.

Atheists are just as, if not more, dogmatic than the most fundamentalist Christian/Jew/Muslim/ etc.

They just target such unscientific nonsense as "climate change", the "Social Justice Warrior" movement, modern laughable feminism (as opposed to equality feminism which is out of vogue at college), etc.

They are just as religious as the "rubes" who believe in God --- and few things are sadder than rubes who don't know they are rubes.

Shouting Thomas said...

I refuse to be angry with you, Althouse.

I refuse the pettifogging battle.

You are stupid with pride in self, intellect and ego.

You will have to find your own way out of that stupidity. I'm focusing on my children and grandchildren, and trying to instruct and love them in a way that prevents them from taking your path.

That is all I can do.

traditionalguy said...

Many of my best friends are atheists. That includes the athiest disguise that they only will stoop to a belief all religions are seeking the same god.

But there is a problem. Although free thought and free expression is a more perfect place it must be affirmatively protected from religious traditions, and it must share the USA with worshiping groups that demand from their members' orthodox thoughts and expressions.

That perfect place is not easy to find, although it is attainable in a free society defended by a strong military tradition and courts with a literal reading of the First Amendment. That freedom is such a unique American creation that it alone has made 90% of the rest of the world's societies fear and hate us.


So atheists are fine. But atheists can easily lapse into worship of clever untruths to adapt to a secular authority group's demands. An example is Eco-Communists that require beliefs in man's collectivised powers over the earth's weather. That is a newly morphed, UN created, world religion that demands unified thought controls enforced by heresy executions.

hombre said...

Lucien: "And that's just our current times, leaving out human sacrifice, witch burning, stoning, burning "heretics" at the stake, torture to force conversions, etc."

Yeah, just look at the millions slaughtered in the 20th century by the murderous religious regimes of Stalin and Mao to get people to toe the line.

Methodists, weren't they?

PB said...

the prevalence of religion among humans would seem to indicate that it is an evolutionary-favored trait. So given we have evolved to need/want religion, it follows that those that reject existing religions would satisfy that need with some other set of beliefs.

Beliefs and faith provide heuristics for decision making that frees up time and mental capacity for other things. That may be the benefit favored by evolution.

Original Mike said...

"I feel no such void, and I rather doubt that many other atheists do, either."

Yes. I am voidless.

CStanley said...

Tim in Vermont: If someone is truly atheist I think they feel a need to proselytize against the belief in God.

Nope.


Depends on how you define atheism. I'm using the term in accordance with C S Lewis's logic. If a person really believes that the idea of God is false than it follows that religious practice is harmful and should be fought against.

Basil said...

Lucien, those things are done by Islamofascists who use religion as a political tool. This is not religion and it certainly is not Christianity. It is a political system to control power, much like national socialism. We Christians are being murdered by these people, please do not lump us in with them. If you cannot see the difference, then you are beyond reasoning with.

tim in vermont said...

Lucien, the majority of the atrocities you point out, the vast majority, point to one religion, Islam. There are billions of peaceful religions people in this world.

Leftist beliefs like Fascism and Communism have killed many more people, caused much more suffering on a world-wide scale. I assume you hold the same disapproval of them.

tim in vermont said...

@CStanley

It doesn't follow at all, unless there are other, so far unacknowledged pieces of his argument.

Bruce Hayden said...

Maybe it is the season, but I ran into an article last week (don't remember if it was online or TV) that talked about a god gene. Some people are driven to believe in a god, or whatever, and some aren't. There may be a tie to hormone receptors, or something like that - just like with seem, you can get an endorphin rush through religious experiences. The thing though is, that believers tend to be notably happier and more successful. The idea being,maybe, that the survival of this "god" gene may be tied to this evolutionary advantage.

Laslo Spatula said...

CStanley said...
"Ha, I see others have noticed that Eleanor and Nina's comments are not of a kind."

I find it interesting that Althouse thought these two comments of a piece worth conjoining, and did not see the vector distinctions between them.

Perhaps Eleanor's comments did not trigger critical thinking because to Althouse they seem innocuous and moderate in relation to her outlook.

I am Laslo.

furious_a said...

Which is what a church is trying to do - to get you to stop thinking.

Eleanor almost made it through her comment without letting the mask drop.

tim in vermont said...

As Basil said, Islam is a system of politics, like Communism and Fascism.

Ann Althouse said...

"If someone is truly atheist I think they feel a need to proselytize against the belief in God."

I guess that depends on what you mean by "truly." Is this a "no true Scotsman" argument?

There are many things that other people believe in that as a person who utterly lacks that belief, you still have no interest in talking about.

For example, look at the 9/11 truthers. These people have badgered me for years to debate them or otherwise interact with them. My refusal to give them any time has nothing to do with my thinking they might be right.

Also, when I hear someone express belief in fortune-telling (e.g., astrology), I simply say to myself that they are dumb/pathetic/boring. I don't want to have a discussion with them. My silence doesn't mean I'm not sure they are wrong. I absolutely am.

Original Mike said...

"You're not seeing the atheists who are camouflaged all around you. I assume the majority of atheists choose not to proselytize and go with the flow and even respect and admire the good they see in those who really believe or try to believe in religion "

Yes, that's me. I respect the values of religions, and believe that if humanity followed them the world would be a better place. But that doesn't mean I believe. I can't. It is obvious to me that their descriptions of the universe are wrong.

Ann Althouse said...

Eleanor's tone is hard to discern, but I think if you give her a sympathetic reading, she's not "desperate and defensive." I can imagine it said in a snotty tone, but what does that kind of reading say about the reader?

Nina's tone is much more clearly controlled by her choice of words and cannot be misread (except by active misreaders).

furious_a said...

Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Mengistu, etc. needed only 70 years or so to pile up a stack of corpses rivaling Christendom's wars of rectification.

Original Mike said...

"If someone is truly atheist I think they feel a need to proselytize against the belief in God."

Why do you believe that? Perhaps because the only atheists you see are the proselytizers. I feel no need to change your mind about God.

JAORE said...

I am an agnostic, to the great distress of my Christian wife. Can't jump into a believer status because, well, I don't believe. Can't jump into atheism because I'm not (quite) smart enough to believe I know al the truths of the universe.

My neighbor, an otherwise good and generous fellow is horribly offended by any displays of religion. So much so that he attacks, verbally, Christians, or others with a religious foundation. He has even chosen to do so when other neighbors are morning the loss of loved ones. There are a LOT of those type out there. I once accused him of wearing a white shirt, narrow tie and riding his bike door to door spreading the word of nothingness.
Perhaps Ann does not see so many examples because a liberal college setting is one where religion disappears to a greater extent than in much of the country.

tim in vermont said...

@furios_a

No history if leftist atrocities is complete without mentioning Hitler.

Somehow leftist think that since he was a national socialist rather than an international socialist, that makes him a free market, free speech, individual liberties kind of guy.

CStanley said...

I don't think Eleanor is necessarily desperate (I have no reason to think so, and the word itself is disparaging so I would not use it.) but defensiveness is noted in the way she chose to be disparaging toward me as a believer. There really is no other way to read "sky fairies", and her comment about the purpose of ritual.

Laslo Spatula said...

Althouse said:
"Eleanor's tone is hard to discern, but I think if you give her a sympathetic reading, she's not "desperate and defensive."

It is hard to give a sympathetic reading to something that is so sure of itself that it believes it needs no sympathies.

I stand by my 8:17 reading -- "elitist and dismissive, and my 8:48 observation: "Perhaps Eleanor's comments did not trigger critical thinking because to Althouse they seem innocuous and moderate in relation to her outlook."

I also stand by my 8:17 comment "I am one lock of hair away from completing my Taylor Swift Shrine, so who am I to judge?" except I forgot I also need a pair of Taylor's panties.

I am Laslo.

Laslo Spatula said...

Althouse said:
"I can imagine it said in a snotty tone.."
I have a hard time imaging hearing "sky fairies" in a tone that isn't synonymous with "snotty". I am open to alternative readings of the phrase.

See: 'bitter clingers'.

I am Laslo.

Shouting Thomas said...

What is the purpose of ritual observance?

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

I'll return to leaving you alone. Peace be with you.

Michael said...

Elenor's viewpoint about ritual is what one would expect from a high school sophomore getting their debate legs.

Insipid.

Ann Althouse said...

"I stand by my 8:17 reading -- "elitist and dismissive, and my 8:48 observation: "Perhaps Eleanor's comments did not trigger critical thinking because to Althouse they seem innocuous and moderate in relation to her outlook.""

I'm inclined to give other people their space when it comes to their own religion. That sounds like what Eleanor was saying, with the addition that if people poke at her, she'll poke back.

CStanley said...

@Tim, Althouse, Original Mike:

It's been a while since I've read C S Lewis- I think this mainly comes from his essay "Man or Rabbit" but the idea is that being fully human means that we seek to orient our lives toward the truth of the universe. Some people, of course, haven't fully thought out their beliefs....but if you've examined them, you have attempted to reconcile your own intuitions with the truth. If you've done that and ascertained that you believe there is no God, then you will necessarily believe that certain practices of those who believe are contrary to the laws of truth that you believe.

I suppose there is a gradient there similar to the way Prof Althouse describes her neutral reaction to people who believe in astrology- it just doesn't seem to matter very much. But for people who feel strongly that there is a certainly that God does not exist, I don't think it is possible to peacefully coexist with people for whom religious belief is a strong and prominent component of their lives, there are too many moral questions that cross over into politics, for example- so the atheists has to attempt to discredit religious thinking since it leads to views that's aren't compatible with his own. This is especially true when majorities of your culture hold beliefs that contradict your own and obfuscate political results that you would like to see.

Roger Sweeny said...

from Razib Khan's blog:

"Merry Christmas! No one in my family is Christian (inclusive of first degree in-laws) so there’s no explicit religious content in the celebration of the holiday, but it’s still a big deal. I think that a mid-winter holiday is a pretty straightforward aspect of “evoked culture” in the temperate climes. That is, it was bound to arise, and it is no surprise that modern Christmas was unable to slough off the many strands of European pagan custom and belief which threaded these mid-winter festivals together."

CStanley said...

with the addition that if people poke at her, she'll poke back

Who poked her? Did I miss something?

Ralph Hyatt said...

"Eventually, people can just go through the motions without having to think. Which is what a church is trying to do - to get you to stop thinking."

Atheists all seem to believe this. And perhaps some churches are. But it is a belief based on the assumption that "if they were thinking, they would agree with me, cause I'm smart."

Personally, I came to be an atheist at around 12 and I can't say I gave the decision any thought at all. It was as an adult, after reading a lot of philosophy, history, and theology that I came to believe in God.

Beaver7216 said...

Being raised as a Unitarian gave me a unique perspective here. Most in the US, atheists or not, follow judeo Christian definitions here and fail to understand that a religion is simply a value system held to by faith. No belief in a god is required (Unitarians, Juche, and Buddhists don't have to believe in gods but at least Unitarians claim to be a religion). So, yes, Environmentalism and Social Justice and British Humanism are religions. Some atheists are religious-they are the one's not camouflaged and like to proselytize and belong, in spirit at least, to American Atheists or such. They, the religious atheists, have a need to belong to a faith based organization. I suspect that most atheists are not religious-they are apathetic on the matter.

Robert Cook said...

"No history if leftist atrocities is complete without mentioning Hitler.

"Somehow leftist think that since he was a national socialist rather than an international socialist, that makes him a free market, free speech, individual liberties kind of guy."


Hitler, of course, was not a leftist, no matter how many times the minority of those who hold this daft belief repeat it. Moreover, anyone who thinks leftists perceive Hitler as a "free market, free speech, individual liberties kind of guy," ( or that "rightists" are always-or even often-holders of such beliefs) is self-deluded beyond remedy or reason.

CStanley said...

I like Ralph Hyatt's comment and I think it happens that way for a lot of people- especially if raised with a rote religion. Intellectual maturity almost demands rejection of that, and some people stop there and never take a second look. If you delve deeper, though, IMO nothing else better explains human nature and purpose than Christianity. And it is certainly not illogical (I e, not akin to belief in fairies) to assume that there is a Creator because nothing in our experience can be observed to come from nothing.

hoyden said...

Feeling a sense of inner peace I feel neither the need to defend my experience nor attack another's.


America is a rather unique place and time that holds this diversity.


Thank you for hosting this fascinating and illuminitive discussion.

Original Mike said...

"Some people, of course, haven't fully thought out their beliefs....but if you've examined them, you have attempted to reconcile your own intuitions with the truth."

I think about our origin all the time. I have an intense interest in cosmology, the universe, and the natural world. I was raised Catholic, but my understanding of the natural world is much more in tune with my intuition than is the story I was raised with.

"If you've done that and ascertained that you believe there is no God, then you will necessarily believe that certain practices of those who believe are contrary to the laws of truth that you believe."

Contrary to the laws of truth I believe? They're not laws. They are just the conclusions I've come to regarding the universe I find myself in.

"But for people who feel strongly that there is a certainly that God does not exist, I don't think it is possible to peacefully coexist with people for whom religious belief is a strong and prominent component of their lives, "

I think you're wrong. I can peacefully coexist with you. But I guess you're telling me you can't do the same.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

This is alll covered by the subtext of the movie Big Eyes, and you might be surprised by which side wins, in the end.

Original Mike said...

"nothing in our experience can be observed to come from nothing."

Happens all the time at the quantum level.

Paco Wové said...

A somewhat a propos link:
Passenger loses it over 'Merry Christmas' greeting, gets thrown off plane, report says

Robert Cook said...

As for the harm religionists can do, even without the extremes of fanaticism that result in the killing of others, there is the damage done to a rational society when religious beliefs impede action that a rational appraisal of factual information may otherwise demand. (Look at a Senator James Inhof as an appalling example.) There is the damage done to people made to feel sick or perverted because religious dogma deems them do, to the extent their believing families may ostracize them.

CStanley said...

Original Mike- what in your your Catholic teaching is incompatible with your current understanding of the natural world?

Contrary to the laws of truth I believe? They're not laws. They are just the conclusions I've come to regarding the universe I find myself in.

"But for people who feel strongly that there is a certainly that God does not exist, I don't think it is possible to peacefully coexist with people for whom religious belief is a strong and prominent component of their lives, "

I think you're wrong. I can peacefully coexist with you. But I guess you're telling me you can't do the same.


It depends on what you mean by coexisting. I am. It willing to stop asserting my beliefs, and I find that some atheists wish for me to do so.

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Ann Althouse said...
Jesus said: "You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you?"


The proper attribution is "Jesus is said to have said"

But then, that kind of honesty undercuts the words --- doesn't it.

Mark Caplan said...

Philosophically untutored people think that morality comes from God, so atheists must be evil and a godless society must be profoundly wicked.

Birches said...

Thanks Original Mike and TiminVermont.

I know there are atheists like you out there, but it's so hard to see with all the blowhards out there.

Tom Gallagher said...

Being offended and stamping out any significant symbol or tradition of religion seems to be the epitomy of self-righteousness and the aim of atheism. Labeling people of faith as "religionists" is a great way to rationalize intolerant behavior.

Fernandinande said...

I'm an atheist and have never believed in god(s) at any point in my life.

I don't feel a void, never once thought about "god" when I thought I might die.

Other peoples' religious beliefs don't make me angry; they make me curious about why any educated person would or could believe such obvious nonsense.

tim in vermont said...
But one thing that always struck me is the anger behind the terms "sky fairies" and "flying spaghetti monster," etc. What is that about?*


Why would you hate someone who believes in haunted houses, fairies, pixies or elves? Feel sorry for them, maybe, and wonder why they believe in those things, perhaps make fun of them, but why hate them?

Being hypocrites, we had a Christmas tree and lights without believing in Santa Claus!

*"My Invisible Monster can beat up your Invisible Monster."

Dr Weevil said...

Eleanor (5th comment) seems to think that Christian ritual is exactly the same every week, as some kind of plot by the church "to get you to stop thinking". There are two problems with this assumption:

1. It's not true. I'm no expert, but I do know this: not only does the sermon change every week (obviously) - every day if you go every day - but so does much of the ritual. Catholics and Episcopalians at least have a schedule of daily readings that covers most books of the Bible. Here are today's readings for Catholics: a First Lesson, a Responsorial Psalm, an Alleluia, and a Gospel, 448 words in all. Quite a lot to chew over. To put it another way, they're not exactly chanting "Namyo ho renge kyo" over and over and over, like the 'Buddhists' I went to college with.

2. If much of the ritual is the same every time, so what? Does repetition cause one to think less, or more? I've been trying to memorize some poems of Horace and Catullus on my daily exercise walks (I'm a Latin teacher) and have noticed all kinds of interesting things about them I'd never noticed before, including a few things the authors of the various commentaries don't seem to have noticed. Slow reading and repetition work for me, and for Latin. Familiarity need not lead to contempt: often it leads to deeper understanding. Of course, you have to respect what you're reading to get anything out of it.

Original Mike said...

"what in your your Catholic teaching is incompatible with your current understanding of the natural world?"

Genesis.

"It willing to stop asserting my beliefs, and I find that some atheists wish for me to do so."

I'm assuming you meant "unwilling". As you said: Some. It is not a property of atheism. Some people on both sides find it important that others believe as they do. I don't understand it, but it is obviously the case.

Fernandinande said...

Paco Wové said...
A somewhat a propos link:
Passenger loses it over 'Merry Christmas' greeting, gets thrown off plane, report says


Betcha a dime the guy was a muslim, not an atheist.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

Whether you get it or not is dependent on grace. When you get it, you can generally tell if others have it but you can have it and still get "out of tune" or "off the beam" and still become crazy as hell.

It's a big mystery why some get it and others don't but it's none of my business. But, because I am sick as hell, a hopeless sinner, and I am sort of the opposite of a co-dependent, I actually get perverse pleasure watching those who are lost as a goose, thrashing around and trying to justify their self-importance and unbelief. I did this until I was about 37 years old and still get confused and self-absorbed almost daily. I'm a Christian but a bad Christian (I guess).

Ralph Hyatt said...

Also, most protestant churches these days are non-liturgical, and therefore there is little ritual to dull your senses and transform you into an unthinking zombie. And the churches that are liturgical usually stress that worship shouldn't degenerate into an empty ritual. Hell, the Old Testament prophets speak about that.

Next we will hear about how the religious blindly follow the teachings of their pastors.

Anonymous said...

I'd say my current thinking aligns most closely to Original Mike's comments on this thread. Thanks for articulating your thoughts so clearly.

My father was a law professor, and I was often around them while growing up. I frequently observed keen intelligence and developed analytical rigor along with a lot of competitiveness and healthy ego-development.

Applying logic to human affairs makes, frankly, usually makes for some seriously shrewd people, many charged in dealing with how people actually behave and having to make hard decisions as a result.

Original Mike said...

"Look at a Senator James Inhof as an appalling example."

You're going to have to explain that.

Anonymous said...

I still, really use could a good editor.

mccullough said...

Atheists who believe in free will are the problem. They ar annoying.

mccullough said...

The NFL is our national religion.

Anglelyne said...

"I find this column, and the many like it which the Times has published over the years, to be more than a little bit mystifying.... I feel no such void, and I rather doubt that many other atheists do, either. It has always seemed to me that the question should be reversed: why do religionists need to fill a perceived void that the rest of us don't feel?

I think it's useful to make a distinction between atheists and sperg-atheists, like this commenter. There are atheists who are normal mature adults who've arrived at their position like normal mature adults do. (People like me, of course.) Then there are sperg-atheists (Eleanor reads that way) who are essentially just the counterparts of stupid religious people. They're not the deepest thinkers in the world and always come across as emotionally retarded, with zero real intellectual curiosity about the subject.

Like the quoted commenter, it's always reduced to "Let's talk about me and how my materialist world view provides my sperg self with a perfectly satisfactory framework for living. I'm far too much of a sperg solipsist to notice that most other human beings aren't like that, or indeed that even other spergs are always trying rather comically to recreate the lost rituals that gesture to transcendent purpose [which, uh, was what the article was about, not some individual's personal lack of encounter with the void] and anyway enough about other people, have I told you more how terribly brave I am to face life without the crutch of religion and oh the terrible persecutions I endure at the hands of rampaging suburban religionists?"

Fernandinande said...

Lucien said...
timinvermont:"What harm do religious people do to deserve that kind of derision"?

Really? Read the paper. Schoolchildren slaughtered, reporters' heads cut off, ...


Don't forget the All-American Aztecs! They had some very uplifting spiritual rituals. For sadists.

As you point out, Christianity went through the same phase, but now, as far as I can tell, nearly all Christians are hypocritical enough that they ignore the uncivilized portions of their bible, e.g.:

"He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death."

"If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."

Any Christians here think those people should be killed? If not, why not?

Lisa Graas said...

Human-beings are hard-wired to worship. Some worship God or a "god." Some worship other human beings. Some self-worship.

Bob Boyd said...

"Any Christians here think those people should be killed? If not, why not?"

Well for one thing it would ruin the Althouse comments section.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"have I told you more how terribly brave I am to face life without the crutch of religion and oh the terrible persecutions I endure at the hands of rampaging suburban religionists?"

Also, "my family often expresses concern for the state of my immortal soul, causing me to make holidays uncomfortable for them when I rant about how religion is a crutch and there is no after-life. I especially like telling that to my 97 year old grandmother."

When I was an atheist I didn't try to convince anyone else there was no God. What would be the point? When there were public prayers I bowed my head. I didn't try to destroy group comity by bitching about my belief that there is no God.

A lot of atheists are Heinlein fans. Well I've read every thing he ever wrote, including his first novel that wasn't published until after his death, cause it stunk. And in addition to espousing atheism, he also advised obeying tribal customs for politeness sake and not trying to teach pigs to sing.

hombre said...

@Mark Caplan (9:43 AM): Philosophically tutored people discern between ethics and metaethics and know that atheists need not be evil and that godless societies derive their morals from the preferences of godless people and may or may not be wicked depending on which way the wind is blowing.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"Any Christians here think those people should be killed? If not, why not?"

No, cause Christians are not under any obligation to follow Jewish law. A large portion of the New Testament is about that.

CStanley said...

Any Christians here think those people should be killed? If not, why not?

In part, the answer is that death means the death of our immortal souls, not physical death.

Wish I had time to engage this and other points but we are heading out for a hike on a glorious day!

Dr Weevil said...

Ferdinandinande calls Christians "hypocrites" for not following "their bible" (why no capital?) without noticing that both his quotations are from the Old Testament. Apparently he's unaware that the New Testament explicitly modifies and supercedes the teachings of the Old Testament. If Christians didn't believe that, they'd be Jews. If Ferdinandinande doesn't even know that, he's far too ignorant to debate religion, and should probably just stop before embarrassing himself again.

Meade said...

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...
Ann Althouse said...
Jesus said: "You unbelieving and perverse generation! How much longer must I be with you?"

The proper attribution is "Jesus is said to have said"


Okay, let me start again:

SomeoneHasToSayIt is said to have said...
Ann Althouse is said to have said...
Jesus is said to have said...

Hmm... now I forget what I wanted to say.

Dr Weevil said...

Ralph Hyatt put my point more succinctly while I was composing my last comment.

Dr Weevil said...

Meade:
Are you sure you didn't just forget what you wanted to be said to have said?

mccullough said...

I think we can all agree that Obama belongs to the annoying atheist group. He tells other people what to do and tries to force his groundless morality on the taxpayers. Who cares if people die because they don't have healthcare? Things can't be other than what they are.

Meade said...

Oh yeah. I just wanted to say it's been nice being with you all but it's now time for me to go.

Try to be perfect. And if you can't be perfect, at least try to be good.

A quantum level of goodness might suffice.

Good good good — good vibrations.

Ralph Hyatt said...

Christians are primarily charged with loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. Secondarily, and as an expression of are love for God, we are charged with loving our fellow humans, to treat them as we would like to be treated.

Original Mike said...

I'm worried for Meade.

Original Mike said...

Althouse isn't here to keep her eye on him.

Ralph Hyatt said...

Sometimes expressing that love for fellow humans may require us telling them that they are doing something that is harmful to their soul and they should stop.

Usually that's when the whole "I was hated by the world and you will be hated by the world" thing kicks in.

YoungHegelian said...

How does one know that one is an atheist?

I'm not asking that question rhetorically. For all 5000 years of human recorded history, religious thought has permeated every category of human existence. To think that if one denies a personal belief in a deity means that one has magically jumped outside of history seems to me extremely naive. Rather, it means that one uses theological concepts all the time without realizing that they are theological categories (e.g. "person", in its legal, psychological, & epistemological senses).

Do no atheists read Nietzsche anymore? He considers Christianity Platonism for the masses, and thinks that scientific positivism is every bit as naive as Christian faith.

If Hegel can rejoice that the Concept is the Christian faith brought to full actuality, and if Nietzsche & Heidegger can bewail the fundamental infection of Western thought by Christian concepts, it looks to me like "atheism" may be a much more difficult state of mind to achieve than commonly thought.

Terry said...

There is some irony at play here. Atheists, some of them anyhow, claim that they are moral and fulfilled in a Christian way. They feel no void of spiritual emptiness -- just like Christians! They have values and know right from wrong -- just like Christians!
A real atheist wouldn't give a damn if his values were Christian values.

SteveR said...

The tendency of people to put Hitler to the right (or left), is two dimensional thinking in a three dimensional (actually four dimensional) world. I understand why but its lazy.

Ralph Hyatt said...

@YoungHegelian

The assumption seems to be that absent religion a society pretty much like the one we have now, Western Civilization that is, would exist with the same regards for rights, liberty, inviolability of the person, equality under the law, etc. The only difference is we would be rational, that is, make decisions based on cold reason alone.

But what makes those values rational? Isaac Asimov wrote a short story set in the 20th century where Christianity did not conquer the Roman Empire and that Empire went on to control the whole world. In that universe slavery still existed and no one questioned it. The philosophical framework to do so just did not exist. And I would remind everyone, Asimov was an atheist. But, apparently a thoughtful one.

tim in vermont said...

Hitler, of course, was not a leftist, no matter how many times the minority of those who hold this daft belief repeat it. Moreover, anyone who thinks leftists perceive Hitler as a "free market, free speech, individual liberties kind of guy," ( or that "rightists" are always-or even often-holders of such beliefs) is self-deluded beyond remedy or reason. - Robert Cook

Read that to yourself slowly a few times Robert, with the idea in your head that it is possible for even you, Robert to be wrong occasionally.

n.n said...

Religion and faith are separable. Religion is a philosophy of morality, a set of principles that require voluntary adoption. Faith refers to affirmative statements about universal and extra-universal phenomenon, or generally outside of the scientific domain (i.e. constrained in time and space). Everyone has a faith. Even people who restrict themselves to the so-called "scientific domain", must acknowledge that while a chaotic process has semi-stable states, it can diverge suddenly and wildly.

Theism is faith-based, and is often accompanied by its own religion. Atheism is faith-based, and is often accompanied by its own religion. Agnosticism is purportedly limited to the scientific domain, and is often accompanied by its own religion. Whether the philosopher is divine, mortal, or merely a despot, every society has a state established church (i.e. "executive"), religion (i.e. "legislative"), and priesthood (i.e. "judiciary").

The problem with atheism, is that it lends itself to foster narcissism. This is why left-wing ideologues tend to be atheist or apostates of another faith. The greatest violations of human rights have been committed by Islamic imperialism and the ensemble of Marxist religions. Today, an unprecedented violation of human rights takes place in the sanctuaries of abortion clinics, where women participate in planned parenthood rituals to commit premeditated murder of several million wholly innocent human lives annually. All for the cause of money, sex, ego, and convenience. While the state's compelling interest is to secure taxable assets, purchase democratic leverage, and reduce the problem set.

Contrary to Marx's belief, the opiate of the masses is not traditional religions. Certainly not Judeo-Christian religion, which is characterized by a philosophy that requires self-moderating, responsible behavior, and only promises a judgment in the post-mortem. The opiate of the masses and elites alike is dissociation of risk. This is why people will choose mortal gods (e.g. communists, socialists, fascists) who will promise them a material return and rationalize their commission of premeditated murder.

Anglelyne said...

Lucien: Do non-religious folks care much about who is gay, or whether people should be allowed to drink alcohol (or caffeine)?

Oh, there are quite a few secular folks running around who care very much about all sorts of things that they shouldn't be poking their noses into. Control-freaks gonna control-freak, and they don't need religion to do it.

And if you can find Eric Hoffer's book "The True Believer" it offers the observation that the more people feel the need to fill a void in themselves with passionate and unwavering belief in something larger than themselves, the more those of them who are not religious will find communism, fascism, or some other totalitarian system.

Well, uh, yeah. And you're going to root out that totalitarian impulse by...what?

I once observed an exchange that had me rolling my eyes, between two otherwise highly intelligent men. One was an atheist who had had very bad experience of organized religion in childhood and youth, and understandably had a very hostile attitude toward all religion. The other was someone who had experienced all the horrors of a Soviet era Eastern bloc police state, and so had, also understandably, tremendous fear of and cynicism toward secular states based on strictly earth-bound ideologies.

They went 'round and 'round: "Religion is evil! Look at the terrible evils perpetrated by believers when they get power!" "Secular states and atheists are evil! Look at the tyrannical behavior and all the horrors unleashed when they get power!" One gently pointed out to no avail that the common factors were "human beings" and "power".

Original Mike said...

"A real atheist wouldn't give a damn if his values were Christian values."

My values are Christian values. This is hardly surprising.

tim in vermont said...

I would be very interested in an enumeration of the fundamental differences between Fascism and Communism.

I will spot you that one believes in blood and soil socialism and the other in international socialism.

Now list some important differences.

SteveR said...

I'm ok being wrong on the side that's not Richard Dawkins and Bill Mahar. It really doesn't matter what I believe or describe as my beliefs, its how I treat others and the world around me. Yeah I'm stupid but you're a jerk.

YoungHegelian said...

@RH,

The assumption seems to be that absent religion a society pretty much like the one we have now, Western Civilization that is, would exist with the same regards for rights, liberty, inviolability of the person, equality under the law, etc. The only difference is we would be rational, that is, make decisions based on cold reason alone.

Yes, I agree with what you said above.

I find that PoV astounding. Of all the cultures in the history of mankind, one of them --- European Christian culture from the late Medieval to the early modern --- develops both the practice & methodology of empirical science. While it's impossible to test historical counterfactuals, it strikes me as quite likely given that historical fact, that the basic concepts of empirical science have a good dose of Christian theological assumptions at their foundation.

Michael K said...

I think atheists feel a need to declare their opposition to the concept of God. Agnostics like me don't know and can't work up enough enthusiasm to spend the energy arguing about it. Atheism is pretty much a religion substitute. So are Global Warming and Social Justice, for those of other urgencies.

tim in vermont said...

Believers talking about Atheists sound a lot like leftists talking about people who don't believe in leftism.

They can't imagine that there are those who don't believe that all power rightly resides in the state, so they assume that everybody believes that. In this case, it looks to people, like Robert Cook, for example, that there are only two choices, Right socialism (Fascism) and Left socialism (Communism), and those who believe in liberty and freedom from state oppression don't really exist. The Left is your morass Robert, Nazism, Fascism, they are one and the same.

Gays for a long time fervently believed that bisexuals didn't exist too.

Fernandinande said...

Dr Weevil said...
If Christians didn't believe that, they'd be Jews.


So Jews would agree to killing those people? I know plenty of Jews and none have ever said anything remotely like that.

Some Christians still believe those things, or slightly modified versions - is homosexuality commonly considered a sin, or not?

Christians commonly acted on old testament statements long after 0AD; were they all, including the Popes, ignorant?

Where do the European witch-hunts of about 1300AD to 1700AD come in?

It must be that burning heretics and witches at the stake is somewhere in the new testament. Correct? Why did people finally stop doing it - a New Testament 2.0?

If Ferdinandinande doesn't even know that, he's far too ignorant to debate religion, and should probably just stop before embarrassing himself again.

It's complete trivia as far as I'm concerned, like baseball scores from 1949. Can't talk about sports unless you know the baseball scores from 1949, because your hobby is baseball scores from 1949. Of course.

So, how's your knowledge of non-Christian religions, or do you consider "religion = Christianity", as most Christians seem to think?

How many Aztec gods can you name? Is Huitzilopochtli a good guy or not? What do practitioners of Shinto believe? What's the difference between Gautama Buddha and the Laughing Buddha?

Ralph Hyatt said...

And it turns out, in our brave new secular world, also being tossed out the window along with prohibitions against homosexuality are presumption of innocence, equality under the law, and free speech.

Terry said...

Tim in Vermont wrote:
"I would be very interested in an enumeration of the fundamental differences between Fascism and Communism."

If you look specifically at nazism vs stalinism, the nazis directed their rage to non-Germans. Before the second world war, the nazis executed thousands. The Soviets executed millions.
A more interesting difference is that the nazis had principles. Their could be no nazis w/o the German people. The nazis were justified by the German people, everything they did was (supposedly) for the German people.
The Stalinists recognized no limits to their power at all. They were justified by history, and they controlled history. Orwell could not have written Nineteen Eighty-Four about the nazis.

Ralph Hyatt said...

And its official Fernandinande has perused a Atheist web site or two.

Yes, I admit it. Christians have done wrong things. Or at least people purporting to be Christians have. In any event, I am sure that they believed themselves to be Christians.

But tell me, how does that disprove the existence of God and the truth of the Gospel?

Anthony said...

I think many of the people who don't believe but want ritual in their lives simply continue to attend a traditional house of worship, perhaps keeping within the religious sect of their parents or grandparents. . .

There's definitely something to that, or related. I was born and raised Catholic, but once I hit college I didn't attend Mass except sporadically for probably 20 years. I "came back" in a way after getting married in the Church in 2004 when my heathen Spousal Unit had/decided to convert so we could get married in the Church. She didn't have any kind of family tradition of going to any church, so after all that she hasn't set foot in a church since.

Meanwhile, due to some combination of mid-life crisis/unemployment/general malaise I really started attending again a few years ago. Part/much/most? of it was because I desperately needed to get my head straightened out, but I also recognized that much of it was nostalgia, in the deeper sense of the term. I wanted to get back to something of the. . .safety I guess, or security of how I felt as a kid attending Mass with my family every week.

The Spousal Unit didn't have that childhood background so, absent true belief or some other perceived need, she hasn't bothered.

Ralph Hyatt said...

"Christians commonly acted on old testament statements long after 0AD; were they all, including the Popes, ignorant?"

Since at least one Pope was an avowed atheist, I'd say yes.

Terry said...

Atheists tend to be ignorant about religion. Many believe that all Christians are biblical literalists. I suppose that's because pop-culture teaches that. You know, the stereotype of the preacher thundering out passages from the Bible while he looks accusingly at the crowd around him.
Catholics depend more on doctrine (derived by reason) than on a literal reading of scripture.
I am a Lutheran. Lutherans criticize specific aspects of Catholic doctrine, but they aren't fundamentalists or Biblical literalists. Well, I'm not, anyhow.

Fernandinande said...

Terry said...
There is some irony at play here. Atheists, some of them anyhow, claim that they are moral and fulfilled in a Christian way. They feel no void of spiritual emptiness -- just like Christians!


One problem: nobody said that.

For all I know it's the religious people who have spiritual voids, and that why they're religious. I don't worry about it as long as they're not intrusive.

I have two legs...just like Christians!

And even though Terry implies that Christians are special, I have two legs and no spiritual void...just like Buddhists! And just like Animists! And just like other atheists!

Therefore....what?

n.n said...

Ralph Hyatt:

A philosophy only guides, but cannot determine an outcome. It should be judged by the principles it engenders, rather than the individuals who purport its adoption.

Christians are mortal and thus imperfect. Human consciousness is limited, which ensures imperfect foresight. It may be overwhelmed by the ego (e.g. narcissism), as well as circumstances. It's a degenerate religion that judges individuals by the actions of others, rather than personal actions, or on commonly held principles.

As for God, an extra-universal entity or phenomenon, he exists outside of the scientific domain. Any affirmative statements about universal and extra-universal phenomenon are articles of faith. The neutral position is agnostic, neither rejecting nor accepting an article faith.

It's better to acknowledge faith and a secular order separately. It's ironic that people who are purportedly "secular", are less likely to acknowledge their faith and constrain their beliefs to a secular order. They routinely conflate their faith or philosophy with science, which serves to corrupt and obstruct development of the latter. The most notorious example is, of course, spontaneous conception, that rationalizes committing premeditated abortion.

tim in vermont said...

What you see in Ferdinandine or however you spell it, is displacement of his fear of Islam for a less fearsome Christianity. He gets to loathe Christians without the fear of retaliation and social disapproval he would get by being an "Islamophobe."

Quayle said...

There is no space without a God, and this forum merely adds to the evidence that proves it.

We live between dipoles. There is opposition - or opposites - in all things.

If we didn't there would be no life or consciousness - all would be dead. All would be a compound in one, and would have no life because there could be no movement.

There can be no life is the space that is limited to a single point - limited to the origin of every axis.

If you claim to be a progressive, you surely must believe in a supreme being, otherwise there would be no "pro" [in the Latin meaning] possible to give space for to your motion.

Now, what that supreme being is we can discuss. But it can't be and isn't a debate whether or not you believe in one.

Fernandinande said...

tim in vermont said...
What you see in Ferdinandine or however you spell it, is displacement of his fear of Islam for a less fearsome Christianity. He gets to loathe Christians without the fear of retaliation and social disapproval he would get by being an "Islamophobe."


Complete nonsense; probably some sort of psychological projection.

Beside the fact that I don't loathe Christians (can't say the same about muslims, however), I've previously posted here that I wouldn't knowingly do business with muslims because they claim I should be killed. En masse, muslims are primitive assholes who should be relegated to the little Shitistans they created until they...repent. Then they can come out and play with civilized people.

n.n said...

YoungHegelian:

I think separation of a faith-based and secular order form the foundation of Judeo-Christian philosophy. Jews and Christians believe that God established the underlying order of the universe and provided a moral philosophy to guide human development. The Garden of Eden was an oasis that existed within but apart from the universal order. However, after leaving Eden, it is now humanity's burden to understand and exploit the universal order in order to elevate our station. This thought process is perfectly compatible with a scientific model that is constrained in time and space.

God only intervenes implicitly through his established order. Supposedly, his religion or moral philosophy, enables people to navigate this order and a conscious order (i.e. humanity). As well as to face a trial in our post-mortem. The latter, however, whether it is true or not, does not diminish the value of the former.

I think people who criticize faith and religion are judging these concepts with the wrong criteria. While denying and substituting, perhaps blindly, their own faith and religion, which is often characterized by narcissism and libertinism.

Fernandinande said...

Terry said...
Atheists tend to be ignorant about religion.


There's a faith-based belief for ya: "faith-based" being politespeak for "wrong".

"Who Knows What About Religion"

Who knows the most:
1 - Atheists
2 - Jews
3 - Mormons
...
Last - Catholics
Dead last - Hispanic Catholics.

Obviously there's a big difference between knowledge of religion in general and knowledge of one's own religion.

Fernandinande said...

Some town in Northern California was planning to put up a bronze statue of Cheech Marin, but was having trouble finding someone to make it because...let he who is without sin cast the first stoner.

chickelit said...

Don't put people in boxes.

damikesc said...

Hitler, of course, was not a leftist, no matter how many times the minority of those who hold this daft belief repeat it. Moreover, anyone who thinks leftists perceive Hitler as a "free market, free speech, individual liberties kind of guy," ( or that "rightists" are always-or even often-holders of such beliefs) is self-deluded beyond remedy or reason.

He sought to overthrow the government.

In what way is that conservative?

Ann Althouse said...

"I suppose there is a gradient there similar to the way Prof Althouse describes her neutral reaction to people who believe in astrology- it just doesn't seem to matter very much."

No, that's not what I meant. It matters that people believe stupid things, but I don't want to get into a discussion with them. I'm not going to put my time into riling people up if that's what they are into, and I'm not into being pedantic with those who are exhibiting their poor thinking skills. It's toleration, a very important part of social life.

Dr Weevil said...

Is Ferdinandinande (11:16) trying to disgrace himself, or does it just come naturally?

He could easily find out for himself that many Christians (e.g. the Pope) do indeed consider homosexual acts (but not tendencies) sinful. So what? Criticizing gays instead of killing them hardly counts as a "slightly modified version" of Leviticus, and the difference is hardly trivial. We'd all be very grateful if (e.g.) the Iranian regigme switched over to disapproving of gays instead of hanging them from cranes.

If he wants to call people "hypocrites" for not following instructions found in Exodus and Leviticus, he needs to aim the insult at the "plenty of Jews" he claims to know. Good luck with that.

I am of course aware that religion and Christianity are not coextensive, and I don't see why he assumes I must be a Christian - you needn't be one to know more about them than he does.

I could go on, but my previous (10:35) point stands: he's still "far too ignorant to debate religion". Too bad he was unwilling to "stop before embarrassing himself again".

Anglelyne said...

Fernandinande: ...let he who is without sin cast the first stoner.

snork

I love bad puns.

Terry said...

Ferdinande wrote:
Terry said...
Atheists tend to be ignorant about religion.

There's a faith-based belief for ya: "faith-based" being politespeak for "wrong".

"Who Knows What About Religion"

Who knows the most:
1 - Atheists
2 - Jews
3 - Mormons
...
Last - Catholics
Dead last - Hispanic Catholics."

Yet, Fernandinande, you seem to believe that all Christians are bound to obey the literal word of the old testament. It was you who wrote, out of ignorance,

As you point out, Christianity went through the same phase, but now, as far as I can tell, nearly all Christians are hypocritical enough that they ignore the uncivilized portions of their bible, e.g.:

"He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death."

"If a man lies with a male as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall surely be put to death; their blood is upon them."

Any Christians here think those people should be killed? If not, why not?

SomeoneHasToSayIt said...

Ann Althouse said...
It matters that people believe stupid things, but I don't want to get into a discussion with them


How convenient! Rather than getting beat in an argument in which you can't defend yourself against the superior points of the other side, (see, for reference, many of my points on any number of issues) you just declare the other side 'stupid', and then ignore.

I suppose under the idea that "You can't lose a battle you refuse to engage in." Ah, the benefits of tenure.

Brilliant!

tim maguire said...

Atheists are as religious as anybody, they just don't have a god. Which makes their religiosity rather pointless.

I suspect they sense that, which is why studies consistently show that people who are religious in the traditional sense of having a god are happier.

Ralph Hyatt said...

@Dr Weevil

When someone states that the fact that Christians don't follow Jewish law is "trivial" I have to assume that they aren't arguing in good faith.

Fernandinande has his talking points. Discussion of actual Christian theology risks losing the rhetorical battle. Best to trivialize it.

Dr Weevil said...

Ferdy links to a poll purporting to prove that Catholics are ignorant of religion. In fact, it shows that Hispanic Catholics are the most ignorant, while white Catholics are less ignorant than the average. It is only by lumping the two together that he can claim that "Catholics" are the second most ignorant.

There are other problems with the poll. It claims to adjust for education, but says nothing about adjusting for income. Not surprisingly, the more knowledgeable groups are exactly the ones that are higher-income and send their kids to better schools, and vice versa. The poll proves nothing about the effect of religious beliefs or upbringing on knowledge of other religions.

Michael K said...

"Hitler, of course, was not a leftist, no matter how many times the minority of those who hold this daft belief repeat it. "

Says the angry leftist atheist. You are so sure of what you think you know, I get tired just reading your rants.You might have a future as a token leftist on Fox News if your government job ever gets eliminated.

Rusty said...

Meh.
God is god.
Who the fuck are you?

Anonymous said...

Young Hegelian:

Atheism is an even harder road if you take Hegel's historicism on board, Im guessing.

Jupiter said...

Fernandinande comes closest to my own views. It seems extremely unlikely to me that there is a Creator in whose image man, but not the other primates, was created. But I like Christians just fine, and prefer to live among them, as long as they are not too censorious. It is evident that our civilization bears the strong stamp of Christianity, and far from evident that it can survive without that faith.

I have friends who are Christian, and I try not to argue with them, because I am good at arguing, and I don't want to injure the faith that gives them strength and happiness. But I could no more believe that the New Testament is an accurate description of real events than I could believe that the Devil is standing behind me as I type this.

Incidentally, it is likely true that humans have evolved to be religious. Which carries the additional implication, that humans are the medium in which religions evolve. That is, just as organisms compete for carbon, religions compete for adherents. And those Muslims worry me. Or more precisely, those Christians, who are not worried about those Muslims, worry me.

Left Bank of the Charles said...

It's boxing day at the Church of Althouse.

So far the atheists are winning, but how do we know that they are sincerely atheistic?

I was involved in a court case this year where one of the jurors was dismissed by the judge after she professed that she wouldn't be able to follow the instructions of the judge if they conflicted with God's law.

When you have a system that is atheist-qualified, some people are going to lie and say they are atheists when they aren't.

Here in Cambridge, Massachusetts, we play that little game with something called the Christmas Revels in Celebration of the Winter Solstice. Plausible deniability all around.


Anglelyne said...

AA: I'm not going to put my time into riling people up if that's what they are into, and I'm not into being pedantic with those who are exhibiting their poor thinking skills. It's toleration, a very important part of social life.

Droll, Professor A, very droll.

Fernandinande said...

Ralph Hyatt said...
And its official Fernandinande has perused a Atheist web site or two.


Yet another ESP failure alert! Tell me which website(s) and then we'll both know.

E.g., as far as I'm concerned Dawkins (etc) is a biologist and author of "The Selfish Gene", and I have no knowledge about his statements regarding religion except that he wanted to coin the term "brights" for atheists, which sounded as corny as "gay" for homosexuals. Most - all? - of the "skeptic" websites I've seen, long ago, are about religion and/or ghosts and such ("The Amazing Randy"), which I find completely boring - if I want skepticism, I want skepticism about socialism and statism in general. I don't peruse unicorn-skeptic websites either, and don't spend any time trying to disprove the existence of unicorns, or of Santa Claus.

But tell me, how does that disprove the existence of God and the truth of the Gospel?

Since "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and religions make very extraordinary claims with approximately zero evidence, there's quite literally nothing to disprove. So, feel free to believe whatever weird things you want as long as you don't try to impose them on me (or make false 'n' silly "official" statements about me).

Original Mike said...

"God is god.
Who the fuck are you?"


Hey! At least I exist.

Doug said...

I am agnostic. I used to be atheist ... but they didn't have any holidays.

Jupiter said...

When I was a TA in Molecular genetics, I had occasion to "create" colonies of bacteria, in Petri dishes. I had a purpose in mind, involving demonstrating the presence of certain mutations in their DNA. But I doubt that those bacteria could understand that purpose. Nor can I see why, if they did understand it, they should share it.

Doug said...

C'mon, Shout ... tell us how you REALLY feel about Althouse.

Kieth Nissen said...

"when I was a young man I believed in God but I was dismissive of organized religion. At age sixty I no longer believe in God but I do believe in organized religion" It's mostly a question of utility.

Mark said...

A major factor in not every case, but in a great many cases, is that the atheist is arguing against a strawman god. And of course such an entity does not exist. But no one, apart from atheists arguing against it, professes that such a strawman god exists, much less the mock god that the Eleanor types argue against.

But a great many of those same atheists will profess a belief in the attributes that do exist in the true God. The problem is, for whatever reason -- a wholly inward-looking, closed-minded aspect or whatever -- they do not or will not connect the dots or otherwise be willing to entertain the existence of God as He truly is.

In any event, the very fact that they proclaim themselves "atheists" demonstrates that they do, or at one time did, have a "void" that needs filling. That void is the great questions of: What does it all mean? Is there something apart from, greater than myself? If they did not have that void, they never would have gotten around to the God question.

But back to that question -- to answer it properly, to answer the question of whether God exists, one must first understand who and what God is. Your typical atheist gets the latter questions wrong, so they invariably get the first one wrong too.

Ralph Hyatt said...

""extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence"

Why?

Carl Sagan made that up, but I am unaware of any rule in logic that states it.

As for my "weird" beliefs, I am a Lutheran. Statistically speaking you are the outlier.

And its not ESP, I was once where you are now.

I must agree with you about the term bright however.

Fernandinande said...

Dr Weevil said...
Criticizing gays instead of killing them hardly counts as a "slightly modified version" of Leviticus, and the difference is hardly trivial.


Your sphere of thought seems to be constrained to the US at the current time. Until - what 40? - years ago in the US they were arrested and locked in cages, which is rather severe criticism, wouldn't you say?

Previously but post-new-testament in the European world of Christians:
++
"Pope Gregory IX starts the Inquisition in the Italian City-States. Some cities called for banishment and/or amputation as punishments for 1st- and 2nd-offending sodomites and burning for the 3rd or habitual offenders."

"1532 – Holy Roman Empire makes sodomy punishable by death."

"1836 – The last known execution for homosexuality in Great Britain."

++ Plenty more: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_LGBT_history

Maybe someone shoulda told those Holy Roman Empire guys that they were getting it wrong cuz they weren't experts on their own religion and didn't know about the "new covenant" and all that good stuff, especially those infallible Popes.

Elsewhere in the current world of Christians:
"A special motion to introduce the [kill homosexuals] legislation was passed a month after a two-day conference was held in which three American Christians asserted that homosexuality is a direct threat to the cohesion of African families."

So like I said, *most* *modern* Christians are hypocritical about the uncivilized tenants of their religion, and ignore them, which is good. And it clearly has nothing to do with new vs old testament.

Original Mike said...

"In any event, the very fact that they proclaim themselves "atheists" demonstrates that they do, or at one time did, have a "void" that needs filling. That void is the great questions of: What does it all mean? Is there something apart from, greater than myself? If they did not have that void, they never would have gotten around to the God question. "

Ridiculous. Of course I mull over the question. That does not mean there is a void.

Mark said...

Why are you mulling over the question?

Jupiter said...

Blogger Mark said...

"In any event, the very fact that they proclaim themselves "atheists" demonstrates that they do, or at one time did, have a "void" that needs filling."

Well, no. In my case, it demonstrates that I went to Sunday School when I was little. Although I certainly possess my share of "voids". I suppose one of them might be God-shaped.


"But back to that question -- to answer it properly, to answer the question of whether God exists, one must first understand who and what God is. Your typical atheist gets the latter questions wrong, so they invariably get the first one wrong too."

Well, OK. If God is the feeling I get when I look at my son sleeping, then God exists. So I am not an atheist. Or maybe God is a parking ticket. Those exist also.

I am reminded of the story of the two atheists who were discussing atheism. At first they were substantially in agreement. But after a while, one said to the other, "I'm sorry, but the God you don't believe in is not the God I don't believe in."

Original Mike said...

Really, Mark? For 59 years I've been told, forcefully and incessantly, that there is a God. Any inquisitive mind would mull it over.

Bring better questions.

Dr Weevil said...

Poor Ferdy can't seem to comprehend that killing gays is not in fact a tenet (much less a "tenant") of Christianity. Christians have never been under any obligation to kill gays, though plenty of Christians or supposed Christians have done so of their own free will.

Did Christian societies often kill gays? Duh! Everyone knows that. Did they kill them because they had to, because Leviticus told them to, or because most societies through history - with the very large exception of the ancient Greeks - have condemned homosexual acts and often punished them severely? Muslims certainly do to this day. How about Buddhists? Someone asked the Dalai Lama about homosexuality and his reply was quite simple: "Wrong hole." (Condemnation but not persecution, in that case.) Have atheist regimes like Stalin's USSR persecuted gays? (Hint: yes.) Look up how Castro's Cuba treated Reinaldo Arenas. Everyone knows that Hitler killed gays, and it certainly wasn't because the Jewish scriptures told him to. Who's ignorant of history? Looks like Ferdy to me.

hombre said...

Tim in Vermont wrote:
"I would be very interested in an enumeration of the fundamental differences between Fascism and Communism."

The most fundamental difference is that fascism is a political system while communism is an economic system.

Mark said...

So you have an "inquisitive mind." OK. That would mean, I assume, that you have a desire to know. Perhaps we might even say you have a hunger for truth. You mull over the question because you want to know the answer. Whatever the answer is, you want to know. Simple as that. Nothing to argue over here.

Well, whatever the answer is, God or not-God, the desire to know is there. That is to say, there is a certain gap in your current knowledge, in your understanding of reality. Nothing to be ashamed of here -- we can't always and instantaneously know everything. We wonder, we ask, we mull. We do these things because we do not already know for sure, because there is a void in our knowledge and understanding.

That's it. That's all. No big conspiracy here to get you to commit to anything. No "gotcha." So this defensiveness over whether there is a "void" or not is rather pointless.

roger said...

Who knows the most:
1 - Atheists
2 - Jews
3 - Mormons
...
Last - Catholics
Dead last - Hispanic Catholics.

Obviously there's a big difference between knowledge of religion in general and knowledge of one's own religion.


Except Mormons are indeed Christians. And the breakout of Mormons from Christians Churches in particular and Christianity in general demonstrates lack of knowledge of religion. Which itself is the subject of the article.

I am somewhat amused.

Roger

Fernandinande said...

Ralph Hyatt said...
Statistically speaking you are the outlier.


Thank god for that! I'm also an outlier at math - should I feel badly that I'm very good at it?

And its not ESP, I was once where you are now.

You were completely incorrect about where I am now, so no, you've never been there; another ESP failure on your part.

Are you skeptical about rainbow unicorns? Not me!

Just as I'm not skeptical about rainbow unicorns, I've never been skeptical about religion, just curious about why so many people - some quite intelligent - fall for it.

hombre said...

Fernandinande: "So like I said, *most* *modern* Christians are hypocritical about the uncivilized tenants of their religion, and ignore them, which is good. And it clearly has nothing to do with new vs old testament."

Really? Who knew? And here I thought it had to do with the "New Covenant" or some such thing.

Fernandinande said...

roger said...
Except Mormons are indeed Christians. And the breakout of Mormons from Christians Churches in particular and Christianity in general demonstrates lack of knowledge of religion. Which itself is the subject of the article.


Mormons are listed there as a sub-set of Christians, as are Catholics and Protestants. Your error demonstrates lack of knowledge of reading simple charts.

I am somewhat amused.

Of course you are.

Andy Krause said...

Happens all the time at the quantum level.

"It" only happens at the quantum level if you are looking at it.

Michael K said...

" I've never been skeptical about religion, just curious about why so many people - some quite intelligent - fall for it."

I wonder the same thing about global warming.

It takes a certain arrogance to assert atheism. I am agnostic but have seen a few odd things. I had a kid as a patient who suffered a terrible head injury. We thought he would never be salvageable mentally and sent him to a state institution without an effort at rehab.

A few months later, the medial director called me and suggested we give some more thought to rehab. He was feeding the pigeons from his wheelchair.

We brought him back to do more rehab and I learned he had had an interesting experience. It was probably a hallucination but he described seeing us working on him in the trauma room. In addition, he told her that his best friend, the son of a friend of mine who had died several years before of cancer, came to him and told him to tell his mother that he was "OK" and not to mourn anymore. His description to his mother of the trauma room, which neither of them had seen, was quite accurate.

Like I said, it was probably a hallucination but it did make me wonder. That's why I am agnostic.

mtrobertsattorney said...

If it is true that in quantum physics something comes from nothing "all the time", then quantum physics is ultimately based on magic, and not science at all.

Rusty said...

Original Mike said...
"God is god.
Who the fuck are you?"

Hey! At least I exist.

Just because I can read you on the internet doesn't mean your human;)

Original Mike said...

"The problem is, for whatever reason -- a wholly inward-looking, closed-minded aspect or whatever -- they do not or will not connect the dots or otherwise be willing to entertain the existence of God as He truly is."

Yeah, Mark, why would we ever feel defensive?

Michael said...

Would atheists be happier If there were no cathedrals, no Bach, no Raphael no Augustine? I believe many would. I believe many see in Christianity in particular a culture that infuses the west, explains the west, in a way that makes the lack of advancement in most other parts of the world a puzzle they do not want to solve.

Original Mike said...

I understand, Rusty, that you do not have proof of my existence.

Jupiter said...

hombre said...
"The most fundamental difference is that fascism is a political system while communism is an economic system."

Capital-C Communism is a political movement, as is fascism. The chief difference is that Communism aspires to State ownership of the means of production, whereas fascism, like all forms of Socialism, allows the means of production to remain in private hands, but under stringent State control.

Original Mike said...

"Would atheists be happier If there were no cathedrals, no Bach, no Raphael no Augustine? I believe many would."

What makes you believe that?

Fernandinande said...

Jupiter said...
Blogger Mark said...
"In any event, the very fact that they proclaim themselves "atheists" demonstrates that they do, or at one time did, have a "void" that needs filling."

Well, no. In my case, it demonstrates that I went to Sunday School when I was little.


If there were a word for not believing in rainbow unicorns, I'd be one of those, too, so I must have a void that can only be filled by rainbow unicorns.

"I'm sorry, but the God you don't believe in is not the God I don't believe in."

Q: Did you hear about the the evangelical atheist?
A: She went door to door with a book full of blank pages.


One day the zoo-keeper noticed that the orangutan was reading two books - the Bible and Darwin's Origin of Species. Surprised, he asked the ape, "Why are you reading both those books?"
"Well," said the orangutan, "I just wanted to know if I was my brother's keeper, or my keeper's brother."

mrs.e said...

Also, when I hear someone express belief in fortune-telling (e.g., astrology), I simply say to myself that they are dumb/pathetic/boring. I don't want to have a discussion with them. My silence doesn't mean I'm not sure they are wrong. I absolutely am.

See, that's not me at all. People have all kinds of belief systems to get them through their days. If I'm declaring theirs (even if just to myself) is dumb/pathetic/boring or whatever - that's a cue to me to check my motives. I mean really, what difference does it make to me? The answer is always, "None". My belief is that they'll be taken care of and I leave it there.

Terry said...

The architect of the politics of fascism was Mussolini. He famously wrote "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state."
Both socialism and fascism were responses to history as it had unfolded in the West by the 1920. Both sought to address the issue of class conflict by making the state the only arbiter of political and social issues. The fscists allowed some businesses to remain in private hands, but there was never any doubt that they were only permitted as long as the goals of the businesses were the goals of the state.

Michael said...

Original Mike

If you believe that Christianity is a load of crap why would you want the buildings, music, art and philosophy that represent that load of crap, that foist it on a stupid peasantry? Look instead to the great architecture and art of the non believers. The fine sharp angled and poorly constructed buildings of the soviet, or their beautiful art and music.

Michael said...

Original Mike

Or look to the advancement of those societies which were free of religion altogether. How have they made out?

Original Mike said...

"If you believe that Christianity is a load of crap why would you want the buildings, music, art and philosophy that represent that load of crap, "

I do not believe that "Christianity is a load of crap" (those are your words), but even if I did I would still think a cathedral is a beautiful building, etc.

Terry said...

"If there were a word for not believing in rainbow unicorns, I'd be one of those, too, so I must have a void that can only be filled by rainbow unicorns."
I've always thought that most atheists suffered from a lack of imagination.
Tolkien once wrote (in "The Monsters and the Critics", I believe) that the adjective was man's greatest creation.

Original Mike said...

"Or look to the advancement of those societies which were free of religion altogether. How have they made out?"

Have you read my comments in this thread (not just the most recent ones)? I am not arguing "against" Christianity.

Jupiter said...

Michael said...

"Or look to the advancement of those societies which were free of religion altogether. How have they made out?"

This is a variant of an argument I encounter fairly often; basically, "Religion is good for you".

I can see that this could easily be the case. It seems to be good for many people. But that does not compel my belief. It is possible for religious belief to be beneficial without being correct. But I do not have the ability to believe whatever I decide to believe. Do others?

Jupiter said...

So, Fernandinande,

You really never believed in God? Even as a child? Did you not receive any religious instruction?

Fernandinande said...

Michael said...
Or look to the advancement of those societies which were free of religion altogether. How have they made out?


There aren't any. But -

"The 10 (technically 11, seeing as four nations tied one another) countries, in order of most non-believing are: China, Japan, Czech Republic, France, South Korea, Germany, Netherlands, Austria, Iceland, Australia and Ireland. [Note the large spread between them in the chart]
...
On the flip side, the world’s most religious countries are also worth examining. Ghana, Nigeria, Armenia, Fiji and Macedonia lead the list. Brazil, which comes in 10th, still has a population of belief that comes in at 85 percent."

Fernandinande said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

The interesting thing about astrology, is that we know for a fact that massive objects effect physical phenomenon (e.g. moon and tides). We know that light affects human psychology or mental state. What we do not know is the limits of that influence and if it is propagated with an emergent, if perhaps subtle, effect.

I Have Misplaced My Pants said...

I have friends who are Christian, and I try not to argue with them, because I am good at arguing, and I don't want to injure the faith that gives them strength and happiness.

While I agree with the choice to not argue, I find it both amusing and a bit pitiable that you are so enamored with your Mad Arguing Skillz that you assume that if you just open your super mouth their faith will crumble in the face of your Awesome Superior Knowledge.

I have Reddit Army atheist friends, and I try not to share any of the theological and philosophical insight gained by some of the best minds in Christendom under the blessing of the Holy Roman Catholic Church in the last two thousand years, because I would hate to rob them of their ignorant smugness.

You know your friends better than I, but you don't have much respect for the depth of their understanding and belief, do you?

MrCharlie2 said...

Quayle: "It is my observation, and I would suggest, that everyone innately knows there is a right and a wrong"

That's almost true, and it's one of the reasons I'm an atheist. I don't need to make up a god to tell me what's right or wrong.

My doubt about the statement is that I know there are some among us who do not know right from wrong, and I admit that it is nice that religion sometimes keeps those guys under control. Not sure that benefit (and many others) outweighs the harm done by religion.

Nina's got it right

Terry said...

Re: Mussolini. He was at one time a socialist, but supposedly came to believe that issues like social class were so firmly embedded in the creature called Man that the only way a stable, thriving people could exist was to build on their existing identity as Italians, Poles, Germans, etc., and make their primary allegiance to the state that represented the people -- that was the people's only legitimate means of expression of their nationhood.
Political scientists sometimes differentiate between fascism and marxism by saying that fascists believe in an atavistic past, while marxists believe in a utopian future. They are just different aspects of the same thing, both are works of imagination. A state built on the concept of a nation has to create a myth of an atavistic past, while a state built on the concept of man as he has never been has to create a myth of a utopian future.

Roger Zimmerman said...

@original mike

Cook probably attributes Inhofe's opposition to CAGW alarmism, carbon taxes, and UN/NGO-backed anti-capitalism to his religious beliefs. I think Inhofe may have made comments along the line of "God determines the climate, not man", in some context. My understanding is that Inhofe probably knows slightly more about the GCMs than does the average congress-critter, which is to say not much at all.*

However, since climate science, such as it is, has morphed into a political crusade, we are left with such unqualified individuals to save us from the true catastrophe of increasing government control of technology and business, so for that I am thankful. I understand that Cook may not be.

*I on the other hand know lots about large-scale statistical modeling and the testing thereof, and can say with great confidence that the current models - which are the basis for all alarmism, have not demonstrated any proficiency at predicting future climate, and therefore are not valid supports for any policy, whatsoever.

Also, more pertinent to this thread, I'm a (non-proseltyzing) atheist.

Fernandinande said...

Jupiter said ...
That is, just as organisms compete for carbon, religions compete for adherents.


Hence "meme", from "The Selfish Gene".

So, Fernandinande,
You really never believed in God? Even as a child? Did you not receive any religious instruction?


Never.
My Dad was an atheist but not my Mom, who dragged me to church - literally, sometimes - as a little kid, but it always seemed weird and pointless, but I went through the motions until about age 8 or 10 to avoid arguments with the Big People Who Provided Food and Shelter. I've never had any "reject god/religion" moment, unless it was birth.

I remember asking my Dad "Why are there so many different churches for different religions?" He said "Because they believe different things."
Me: "So which one is right?"
He: "You tell me."

Corollary: they can't all be right, but they can all be wrong.

Original Mike said...

"Cook probably attributes Inhofe's opposition to CAGW alarmism, carbon taxes, and UN/NGO-backed anti-capitalism to his religious beliefs."

I figured as much as well, and wanted to hear him defend the proposition, but he skedaddled.

Terry said...

MrCharlie2 wrote:
"I don't need to make up a god to tell me what's right or wrong."
I don't either! But I have wondered if what I believe to right and wrong was taught to me by others, and where they got theer information about what is right and what is wrong. Much of what we think of as common morality is based on the Christian belief that our natural instincts and observing the world can lead us to moral error. Why not steal when you know you can get away with it? Why doesn't might make right? Why should I care if what I do is harming people I don't know? Much of morality is about choosing not to do what our inclination is to do.

Original Mike said...

"I remember asking my Dad "Why are there so many different churches for different religions?" He said "Because they believe different things."
Me: "So which one is right?"
He: "You tell me.""


I asked the same question and was told "our's is". This seemed dubious.

ken in tx said...

Nazis and Communists are different because the Nazis had real cool looking uniforms. Commies not so much. Everybody knows that. That's why they keep making Nazi movies. It gives Hollywood people a chance strut around and be mean in cool uniforms.

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 275   Newer› Newest»