Thread: Why Atheism?
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Old 12-19-2006, 05:36 AM   #93
Spider AL
A well-spoken villain...
 
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Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: Help, help, I'm stapled to my workstation.
Posts: 2,162
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mace MacLeod:

Now, here's the problem I have with that. It's the supposition that god or gods being unproven relegating them to effective nonexistence. It doesn't leave open the possibility ...
I'm going to unceremoniously halt the quote there, because of course it leaves open the "possibility" of error. In theory, even the existence of the sentient slices of cheese is a possibility. In rational terms.

But because something (that has no evidence to suggest that it exists) may possibly exist, does one say "it exists"? No, one doesn't. One says that it doesn't exist. One says that it doesn't exist, until such time as some small shred of evidence is put forward that suggests that it DOES exist.

I could say "there's an invisible elephant sitting on your head" and sure enough, there's a remote possibility that my statement is correct. But until I put forward some evidence to support my ludicrous assertion, the elephant does not exist. The cheese-slices do not exist. And gods do not exist.

This isn't just a question of terminology, either. It's a question of rational use of language.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ray Jones:

I wonder if the cheese monster is ever afraid of getting possibly eaten by a starving worshipper.
Why, you heretic! There is more than one cheese-monster, as I've previously stated.

Looks like the new religion has undergone its first schism. Perhaps we can organise a small holy war at some point to settle the issue.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by tk102:

Surely you've heard of Richard Dawkins of Flying-Spaghetti-Monster fame. (Not really fair perhaps to Dawkins, he's not in a position to restrict free speech, though he would happily support atheism in Congress.)
Dawkins is not an opponent of free speech. Quite the reverse.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

Actually, it has everything to do with my intent. How can you possibly separate my intent from my message? You are making incorrect assumptions and reading something into my statements that I never said or meant. Or are you doing this just to make fun of me?
How can I separate your intent from your message? I would ask, how can I possibly LINK the two? I don't know what's going through your head when you type what you type. I just READ what you type. The text. Not your mindset when typing. That's not something I can read.

And frankly, you yourself have admitted to typing things you did not mean (As I'm sure we all have done at some time or another.) in past threads. The (quite understandable) reason you cited at the time was fatigue. But I am not psychic. I cannot know what you MEAN to type, only what you ACTUALLY type.

Intent is an irrelevance. I do not care about your intent. I do not expect others to care about MY intent. I care about the text of others. I expect others to care about MY text.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

Your assumption that I find logic somehow 'unattractive'.
First, I give you credit for finally addressing specific points in this paragraph. I never said this specifically, but nonetheless it is essentially true. Let me explain why:

1. Part of your original question amounted to "why do atheists find atheism attractive?"
2. Atheism is pure rationality. It's a rational, logical position.
3. Therefore your question could be legitimately interpreted as: "why do you logical people find logic attractive in this area?"
4. Since you are by your own admission a religious person, this means that your thought is illogical in this respect. (The theistic respect.)
5. You quite literally wished to KNOW why these logical people find their logical "worldview" attractive, AND you are religious, therefore you necessarily do not find logic as attractive as atheists find it.
6. If you were "attracted" to logic to the same degree as atheists are, you would BE an atheist.

QED.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

Your assumption that because I, in your view, lack logic on this matter, I must therefore lack logic on all matters.
I never said this, or anything close to this.

I stated once that if someone is capable of ignoring rationality in one area of their life, their lack of rationality is unlikely to be limited to that one area. Which is a statement that would seem axiomatic to me, and which I stand by.

That is however a far cry from "religious folk lack logic in ALL MATTERS".

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

Your assumption that I must be unable to grasp truth simply because I ask why atheists/agnostics choose individually to believe in this worldview.
I never said you were "unable" to grasp any truth.

I DID point out the obvious, that if you have to ask:

"What I don't get to see from that is why atheists/agnostics like to believe in atheism/agnosticism (for lack of better phrasing at the moment). What is it that is attractive about this particular worldview?"

Then you clearly haven't grasped the basic truth that atheism is simply rationality, and that religion is irrational and ludicrous. Otherwise you would be an atheist. I didn't say you were incapable of grasping this truth, however. For all I know you might be an atheist in five years' time for this very reason.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

Your assumption that all atheists choose to embrace this worldview based solely on logic when there may be other factors--hatred of the Church from a very bad experience with it and thus turning away from God, embracing atheism/agnosticism because parents were atheist/agnostic, disliking religious hypocrisy, embracing the philosophy because they admired someone influential who was agnostic/atheist, and a host of other reasons that are not necessarily logic based.

Logic may be the reason for you to be atheist, but it is not necessarily everyone else's reason.
It is the only valid reason. In fact, logical reasons are the only valid reasons for doing ANYTHING.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

Did you really have to make that last statement? That sort of dig is meant solely to cause pain.
I stated:

"Sure I would. [Want to be on the receiving end of the attitude I myself take] I have no problem with logical debate and utilitarian attitudes to debate. It would make something of a change, in fact."

And I stand by every single word. There are no "digs", only plain, verifiable statements. Do you know how long it is since I have debated in the Senate with someone who opposes my views with logical arguments? The last time was in October. I was debating the nature of morality with Edlib in the thread on Moral Relativism.

Do you dispute this statement? You certainly don't have a leg to stand on in the matter, because you yourself are quite literally REFUSING to debate with me in a rational, logical manner... until I am arbitrarily "nice" enough for your liking.

So yes, some logical debate WOULD make something of a change. I stand by that, it is literally true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

It is not the facts that bother me, nor your message of your interpretation of facts that lead you to the atheist worldview. I treasure all my atheist and agnostic friends and respect their beliefs, and they respect mine. They may consider my thoughts on religion misguided, but they still treat _me_ with respect.
Yes, they treat YOU with respect, because they're your friends. But if they were really atheists, I find it hard to believe that they would "respect your beliefs". They might respect your right to hold such beliefs... as I do.

But I certainly don't "respect your beliefs". I think they're irrational and invalid. I don't see how any rational atheist could feel differently if they were thinking logically.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

I didn't ask you to gloss over the truth. However, there are ways to present 'truth' that are better/more effective than others. Your message is getting lost in your style of delivery, and your sarcastic and belittling style is what I find so upsetting. In fact, your style of delivery is detracting tremendously from your message.

...
I'm actually somewhat flattered by this statement, because many many great rational thinkers have this same criticism thrown at them all the time. Richard Dawkins for instance is almost constantly accused of "losing his message in his delivery" by people of various types. Chomsky is accused of this regularly. (Not that I am REMOTELY putting myself on the same intellectual level as these giants, these brilliantly shining lights of intelligence and reason, by the way.)

But of course, the criticism is an irrelevance when it's levelled at them, and it's an irrelevance now that you're levelling it at me. Because in virtually all cases, this criticism is a REPLACEMENT for a valid counter-argument. You're not making any secret that you're unwilling to even address my arguments. And regardless of the subjective emotional reasons you cite for your failure to address the arguments, in a debate the important things are the arguments.

And you're just avoiding them. Which is telling.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

Rules of debate also include respect for your opponent, even if you disagree completely.
No they don't. I don't know where you get this from. A valid debate is a debate in which two or more people work through a series of logical arguments, and challenge each other's assertions with logical and tangible evidence.

They don't have to respect each other. They don't have to like each other, they don't even have to be "nice" to each other.

They DO have to conform to the- rather universal- rules of rational debate: That is, no personal attacks, no logical fallacies and no irrelevant non-sequiturs. And then they'll have a valid debate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

You've got the logic down pat, but you lack the respect
Thanks for the compliment. But as for lacking respect... I don't HAVE any respect for irrational beliefs, be they conventionally political, dogmatic, theistic or amoral. So of course I lack "the respect". And that's not a problem for me or my arguments.

Do you want me to lie to you, Jae? Do you want me to tell you it's "okay that you believe what you do"? Do you want me to tell you "I respect your beliefs"?

1. I won't, 2. It isn't and 3. I don't.

If my honesty in this respect offends, that's unfortunate. But this honesty is morally necessary, so if it offends... That also is necessary.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

Just because you have the right to do that doesn't mean you should. Just because I think something uncharitable doesn't mean I have to say it.
Actually having the right to do something means that- morally speaking- you can morally do it. This idea that "just because you have a right doesn't mean you should exercise it" is a classic fallacy- curiously enough often employed by governments who are trying to institute a totalitarian regime. (No, before you say it, I'm not comparing you to any totalitarian figure, merely making a (true) observation.)

Once you start putting subjective restrictions onto a right, it is no longer a "right".

And if whatever uncharitable thing that you're thinking is rationally true, then YES, of COURSE you have to say it, morally speaking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

"How to Win Friends and Influence People" is a classic. If you've read it, review it. You may not want to win friends here, but I can tell that you do want very badly to influence people.
If you seriously believe that I'm remotely concerned with influencing anyone else with my arguments, you haven't been reading what I've been posting. I've stated on many many occasions that debates are NOT about convincing ANYONE of ANYTHING. Debates are about truth and searching for the truth. I debate to search for the truth for myself, and to speak the truth because it's moral to do so.

I don't debate to convince you of the truth. It's up to you to convince yourself of truths.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

It would be irrational if I had said that, but I have not, and this is an assumption on your part.
No it isn't, I never said you "said" it. I stated that it was a recurring theme in your posts, and I stand by that. It was the same thing in the previous Iraq-related threads, no doubt it'll be the same thing in future threads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

The topic is why people choose to embrace atheism on a personal level. You stated it's logic for you. That's the answer I was looking for, not a discussion of my level of intelligence/sanity/etc. for not embracing that philosophy.
No, it's a discussion topic and that topic is: "Why Atheism?" Just because one starts a thread, doesn't mean one gets to dictate what course a debate takes, provided it remains pertinent to the stated topic.

And I've never questioned your intelligence or your sanity, you're just grossly misrepresenting now. I have and DO question your rationality when it comes to the topic of theism vs. atheism. But that's nothing personal, I question the rationality of ALL religious folk.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jae Onasi:

I would if I had the emotional resources to deal with the highly probable likelihood that I'll get flamed/semantic of your choice because I have a couple questions and points.
Hey, then don't post in the thing. Just read through it. It's fascinating stuff, it was a very enjoyable and instructive debate for me. I particularly enjoyed the exchange with Edlib.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by SkinWalker:

Spider Al,

I agree with all of your points. But Jae's criticism of your delivery is spot on. We'll be more effective at conveying reason if more care is taken to avoid condescension, though I'm probably guilty of it too. I admit, it is very hard *not* to sound condescending to believers when you argue with them that their beliefs are deluded, however, there are some choice words here and there in your posts that could have been omitted or re-worded that would have made your point in such a way as to not bait your opposition.
You've been saying this for some time, Skin. And I'll respond in the same way that I always respond:

There is nothing condescending about my posts. If I appear condescending, it is because I always choose to debate with people I consider to be touting irrational arguments / holding irrational beliefs. And pointing out their irrationality (as you noted in the above paragraph) is hard to do WITHOUT sounding condescending to some people. (Mainly them.)

I reject utterly the notion that my arguments and the delivery of my arguments are two separate, easily delineated things. If you give me an example of an argument of mine which has been re-worded to make it "inoffensive", I will show you how the argument has effectively been neutered by the attempt to make it more "palatable". Every single word in my posts I deem necessary to make the points that I'm trying to make.

And you know, often I feel as though I should be harsher in my criticisms than I currently am. But I gladly sacrifice purity of argument to abide by the forum rules. But to ask one to sacrifice MORE of that purity than is absolutely necessary... I don't think that's a useful request.

Furthermore if the worst anyone can say about my posts is: "All your arguments are correct and logical... but I don't like your presentation", then frankly I'm doing a pretty good job.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SkinWalker:

I say this not just as a moderator (perhaps not as a moderator at all), but rather, as one who agrees with your points and would like to see them understood and even mulled over. I've known many who have been swayed over time by reason and logic. I've even witnessed a hard-core theist become an atheist in another forum I moderate. But regardless of whether Nancy or Jae are convinced by your arguments, there will always be those that lurk and never post who are truly undecided, and it might be your words that convince them one way or the other.
And I'd agree with you, if I believed that my arguments would influence anyone one way or another.

I've been debating on these and similar topics for years and years now. Much longer than merely in the Senate. Much longer than I've been on teh internets. And not once have I convinced any irrational person of anything rational. And not once have I SEEN an irrational person convinced of the rational.

Your personal anecdote notwithstanding, it's clear to me from personal experience that any such occurances are aberrations, hardly worth worrying over. Call me cynical, but I believe- from active observation- that people are either-or. Either you're rational, or irrational. Moral, or amoral. Right, or wrong. Sad, but true. People gravitate towards the truth if they're going to gravitate towards it, WHATEVER I say. But if they're not going to gravitate towards it... they won't. Whatever I say.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by jmac7142:

Yeah, but you mentioned moral responsibility before - I wouldn't call it morally responsible to just allow someone to go about thinking that three and five are seven when everyone else thinks they're equal to eight and will think he/she is an invalid for thinking otherwise.
Let's invert your assertion for a moment: If everyone else thought three and five was SEVEN, i.e: If the general consensus was incorrect but socially acceptable, would it be moral for a teacher to go along with this, and teach inaccurate things to a child to make them more socially well-adjusted?

Of course it wouldn't be moral. Because it's the moral duty of a teacher to teach what is rationally correct. And it's doing a disservice to one's pupils to teach anything but what is right. The social implications are negligible by comparison, morally speaking.

Quote:
Originally Posted by jmac7142:

By the way, and this has been kind of bugging me for a while, instead of quoting people by adding italicized letters inside the quote tag, you can simply use
Yeah J, I'm fully aware of that. I've created my own quote tags because my own quote tags save space on my screen when the post is sent, and are- in my personal opinion- better suited to the task of organising my (often unusually large) posts.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nancy Allen``:

There's something called 'freedom of religion', if Atheists seek to abolish the faith people who follow religion have then that's a direct violation of that right.
As Razaki has said, atheists point out logical flaws in religious belief. To say that because of this they are "seeking to abolish faiths" is inaccurate. It's arguable that the reverse is true, however: That various religions are actively seeking to "abolish" atheism through legislation and active campaigning.

As stated before, if logic causes someone to lose their religious belief... that's not the atheist's problem. And it wouldn't be a bad thing, either.

You persistently use the term "convert people to atheism". But this is strictly speaking an inappropriate term. People are "converted" from one religion to another. But atheism is an absence of delusion. So to say one can be "converted to atheism" is somewhat redundant.

And also... Answer the cheese question.


[FW] Spider AL
--
Hewwo, meesa Jar-Jar Binks. Yeah. Excusing me, but me needs to go bust meesa head in with dissa claw-hammer, because yousa have stripped away meesa will to living.
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