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let me be Frank

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Frank 013
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Re: let me be Frank

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Can't forget... too funny
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Frank 013: Illogical here is referring to the personification of something in the lack of understanding.Ah, gotcha. Thanks for clearing up what you meant.This is the same thinking I apply to questions like, the creation of the universe, and why we are here at all.No, you get to a point where cosmological answers no longer suffice, and any answer that posits what we would recognize as "natural" is clearly cosmological rather than ontological. This is a confusion that permeates the large bulk of common thinking about metaphysics and ontology -- the tendency to apply cosmological thought as though it were ontology and cosmology were interchangeable. Cosmology assumes the existence of something, and is therefore incapable of addressing a question like, why is there something rather than nothing, without resorting to its basic tautological assumption that there is something simply because there is something.I will admit science does not hold the answers, but just because we do not understand it completely does not make it the product of a thinking being.Fair enough. I think the most appropriate response that any theist could offer is that we cognize God as a "thinking being" only because we we have difficulty thinking of God as anything else. A notion like God is ultimately only approachable through symbols, and the symbols that we in the Judeo-Christian tradition have taken for God are almost all anthropomorphic. That isn't to say that the Judeo-Christian God is thus limited, and there has been a very explicit effort on the part of theologians in the tradition to reduce the tendency towards a limiting anthropomorphism; eg. the ban on iconography.Religion is a good example of this I do not know where the happy vibes are coming from in the faithful, I think it comes from their own emotional state, but I can never be 100% sure about it.I think it may also be a mistake to reduce the psychological appeal of religion to "happy vibes". There's also a distinct element of dread in religion, and it would appear that this element is historically more common and original than the "happy vibes" that you see espoused in the feel-good religion that predominate in our culture.The point I was trying to make here was; if the objects that the faithful say bring them so much peace, comfort and protection/happiness/understanding does not work on someone who was objective about religion, then it should be clear that it holds no special powers or meaning.Only if those objects are taken to be invariably efficacious, which they aren't. You can say that many people aren't capable of embracing atheism, regardless of whether or not it's true. The same may be claimed of all other religions. You should guard against taking the fact that you believe or disbelieve something as evidence that it must be correct.My argument is this, if man cannot come to the same conclusions when he looks for God, can there really be a universal God? I will agree that yes could be the answer, but if I weigh the evidence equally think the real chances are slight to impossible.If we take it as given -- and most religions do -- that God is something that our mental apparatus is capable of framing only in bits and pieces, then it only makes sense that different interpretations of God would arise. I'd say it's part and parcel of the concept of God that no particular person is capable of seeing the whole truth about God, and it seems to follow that any given sampling of people are likely to draw different conclusions about God. Either way, I'm not sure that this implies anything about the likelihood or unlikelihood that God exists. Put five people together in a room and ask them to describe the taste of a Cabernet-Franc; the fact that you get five variant descriptions doesn't mean that the Cab-Franc has no taste.This is where I guess we will have to agree to disagree. I see absolutely no reason to call out the God card in the absence of understanding.Okay, a) no offense, but I hate the idea of "agreeing to disagree" -- not because I want to preserve the conflict or force anyone to see my way, but only because we're going to disagree whether we agree to do so or not, and b) I'm not calling the God card in the absence of understanding, I'm calling it because the only way to logically preserve causality without devolving into the paradox of infinite regress is to assume the existence of something which can cause without itself needing a cause. And that thing, I'm naming God. Doing so implies almost nothing about the character of said God.This mentality has been used to justify the gods of rivers, droughts, weather anomalies, diseases, astronomy, the wind, and human emotion.My study leads me to suspect that the explanation of religion that posits that myth is the attempt to explain the unexplained by attributing it to supernatural forces is fallicious. That is to say, I seriously doubt that religion got its start when someone decided that the only way to explain lightning was to say it came from the hand of a giant man in the heavens. That's a point of view that's satisfying mostly because it highlights our own superior reasonableness, but I see no particular evidence that it's true, and plenty of evidence that the original religious innovators had social and cultural reasons for inventing and adhering to their myths.Atheism is an equal opportunity belief system, it is actually the default position that every person starts out at.A study of childhood development might lead you to conclude otherwise. That's not to say that all people are inherently and originally religious, but until you can frame a concept like God, you can't really be said to reject it or provide an alternative.
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Frank 013
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[Mad: You can say that many people aren't capable of embracing atheism, regardless of whether or not it's true. The same may be claimed of all other religions. You should guard against taking the fact that you believe or disbelieve something as evidence that it must be correct.]My observance here is not really evidence per say, it is more of a rebuttal to Theists who claim that if you read the Bible and go to church that you will "see the light". Many theists really cannot believe that the objects of their faith have no power over some people. Many theists are genuinely confused when we do not suddenly jump up as born again after reading the Bible. There are exceptions, but many of thr religious do accept the Bible as factual. In the atheists defense the evidence put forward is rarely expected to convert or change someone's mind. We know that some people are so closed minded by faith that they simply will not believe the simplest of factual data. In other words we do not ask someone to read a book on evolution and than get upset that they simply don't stop believing in god.[Mad: If we take it as given -- and most religions do -- that God is something that our mental apparatus is capable of framing only in bits and pieces, then it only makes sense that different interpretations of God would arise.]Of course this could also be attributed to the possibility that God/gods are man made. As a skeptic I find this far more likely. [Mad: That is to say, I seriously doubt that religion got its start when someone decided that the only way to explain lightning was to say it came from the hand of a giant man in the heavens.]You are most likely correct about religions not getting their start like this, at least not the being worship religions. But remember that the black plague in Europe was attributed to sin, it was believed that sneezing was caused by demons forcing their way out of your system (hence the term God bless you) you did not want the demons getting back in. some ancient societies did believe that the river had a spirit and it had to be appeased with sacrifice so it did not flood their villages. Apollo was the sun traveling across the sky. These are just a few examples. This is not to say that the earliest religions did not have other reasons for beginning as well but you just cannot discount the relevance of religions attempting to explain the workings of nature. [Mad: A study of childhood development might lead you to conclude otherwise.] We are born without any beliefs in gods. We are born Atheistic. That is why theism goes to work on young children to make them believers before they become critical thinkers - to establish a pattern of gullibility.It is important to note that the gullibility of a child may be an evolutionary survival skill. It was important for children to trust everything their parents said in the hunter/gatherer stage of our human development. The child had to trust the parent about poisonous plants and dangerous animals. This survivor gullibility persists today when we tell our children that something is hot and not to touch it or that something will bite them. Our gullibility may very well be biologic and a survival skill
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Re: let me be Frank

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Quote:Those two statements are not equivalent. We're born without any opinion on the matter. But it doesn't seem to me that Atheism is a simple lack of opinion. It's a bit like saying that we're capitalists by default unless we happen to grow up to embrace communism. Until we know what either is, we're not, by nature, either.This comes down to a misunderstanding of the basic terms. An "atheist" is "one who lacks belief in a god or gods." It is NOT "one who believes..." Atheism may be listed as a belief in various dictionaries, but the etymology of the word AND the way almost all atheists use the word is VERY different.There is an umbrella definition for "atheist." The only thing we "know" about all atheists is that they lack the belief in a god or gods, but we don't know WHY.There are implicit and explicit atheists. If you were born on an island all by yourself with no exposure to the god concept you would certainly lack the belief in a god or gods. Your atheism is implied by your lack of exposure to the concept. But you wouldn't actually 'believe' a god or gods do not exist.What Frank is saying is correct. You and I am even the Pope were born lacking the belief in a god or gods. Once these concepts were introduced we were afforded the opportunity to accept or reject them. If you rejected the god belief you were still an atheist, but now you could be further classified. If you accepted you became a theist.There are tons of types or subgroups of atheists. But the fact remains that all humans are born without knowledge of any god myths. So they obviously don't enter the world with a god belief.The word "atheism" only exists because the existence of a deity is a huge deal to most people. Few people are walking around wondering whether or not Xigglydoops exist. If there was a huge controversy at some point the term "Axigglydoop" might be created to identify those that don't believe. And in this case ALL humans would be born as Axigglydoops. Once they are introduced to the concept of a Xigglydoop they can believe or not believe. But they are born without the belief.So, all humans are also born as Acapitalists. We all lack the belief that capitalism exists (or is the best system.) Once we're exposed we make the decision.Most theists cannot stand the notion that they once were atheists. I can't help them. Edited by: Chris OConnor  at: 1/30/06 10:43 pm
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Frank 013: My observance here is not really evidence per say, it is more of a rebuttal to Theists who claim that if you read the Bible and go to church that you will "see the light". Many theists really cannot believe that the objects of their faith have no power over some people.Very true. It's a mistaken that you seem to have taken care not to repeat -- they assume that whatever particular appeal it had to them must be universal without ever suspecting that what made their religion so inviting in the first place was something specific to their experience.Of course this could also be attributed to the possibility that God/gods are man made. As a skeptic I find this far more likely.I'd say it's pretty much obvious. But the fact that we "make" our gods is not proof that they don't exist. Our sciences are man-made as well, and I don't think many people recognize how artificial they are. That doesn't make them false, though. It's just a matter of correspondence. I have no problem with the idea that God, as we conceive God, is a man-made symbol; the same is true of the atom, of gravity, of evolution.But remember that the black plague in Europe was attributed to sin, it was believed that sneezing was caused by demons forcing their way out of your system (hence the term God bless you) you did not want the demons getting back in.It's difficult to assess what belief of this sort really entails. Did the medieval believe that plague was caused by sin to the exclusion of all other explanations? It doesn't appear so. For that matter, the ancient Greek seems to have maintained his belief in the gods but to have simultaneously embraced naturalistic explanations of the universe. Only insistence that the two are mutually exclusive makes them so -- it would seem that humans are quite capable of holding quite contradictory beliefs but of applying the beliefs in their proper context, provided that they put some effort into it.The so-called religious explanations for natural phenomenon are not, I think, explanations at all, and there is anthropological and historical evidence to the effect that the same societies who claimed to have descended from kangaroos were also capable of devising and embracing more naturalistic explanations, even of preferring those explanations when it was practical to do so. This seems like pretty clear-cut logic to me, but to understand the question, you have to understand that the idea that myths are explanations of natural phenomenon is not something that comes from myth itself -- it's an explanation given by the critics of myth. Even an African myth that begins with a question like, How did the elephant get its trunk, isn't as straightforward as all that; there is, after all, a great deal of humor and playfulness in such mid-wife stories, that betray and underlying sense of reality.Here's the difference between the way that I look at religion and the way that a lot of classical critics of myth look at it. We both see a discrepency: ancient Greeks were just as rational as we are, even if they didn't have the methodology of modern science at their disposal, so how is it that myths persisted if their function is to explain phenomenon that could be better explained along naturalistic lines? Now the classical critic is likely to assume that the fault lies in the ancient Greeks -- they weren't very good at reason, or they preferred silly explanations, or modern man is inherently more intelligent. Those are, themselves, a sort of explanatory myth. I think the better way of handling the discrepency is to question whether or not we're really sure of our definitions. And if you look hard at the evidence, it becomes difficult to maintain the idea that myth is as clear-cut as the "natural explanation" theory would like it to be. And it seems to me that myth is very rarely concerned with explaining the natural world at all.The etiological myths aren't explanations -- they're ways of integrating symbols taken from the natural world as modes of cultural organization. Thus the Australian aboriginal myths of relationship to an animal or half-animal Ancestor only really make sense in the context of the organization of society. Greco-Roman myths about the rape of Demeter, to give another example, provide symbols for the intergration of agriculture as a cultural mode. It's likely that an classical Greek youth hearing the myth for the nth time was just as prone to respond, "But why do plants really grow as they did?" and the adult just as likely to give as much of a naturalistic response as they knew how. We do the same thing all the time.Getting back to your plague example, the myth about the plague being caused by sin probably wasn't intended to explain the plague at all. It's emphasis is on sin, on the social order, and the way in which the culture arranges itself and the individual fits into that social order. There were, of course, individuals in medieval society who spoke of infection along perfectly rational lines. And some of those commentators could at the same time maintain the myth as well. The two explanations weren't in conflict, because they were aimed at achieving different things.We are born without any beliefs in gods. We are born Atheistic.Those two statements are not equivalent. We're born without any opinion on the matter. But it doesn't seem to me that Atheism is a simple lack of opinion. It's a bit like saying that we're capitalists by default unless we happen to grow up to embrace communism. Until we know what either is, we're not, by nature, either.Our gullibility may very well be biologic and a survival skill
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[Mad: But the fact that we "make" our gods is not proof that they don't exist.]It does not provide evidence to the positive either. Like I said before I do not have proof, I can only go with likelihood. In other words I have not been convinced that a god exists, I am not claiming the negative, but the positive has not been shown to me in a rational way.[Our sciences are man-made as well, God, is a man-made symbol; the same is true of the atom, of gravity, of evolution.]Yes, the terms are man made, but the atom has been observed, the force of Gravity has elements that we can detect and study, evolution has support through fossil records and observance of the natural world. We named these things but we did not create them. What does God represent in our physical reality? [Mad: it would seem that humans are quite capable of holding quite contradictory beliefs and of applying the beliefs in their proper context, provided that they put some effort into it.]This may be so, but I find that the vast majority do not put forth the effort.[Mad: Those two statements are not equivalent. We're born without any opinion on the matter. But it doesn't seem to me that Atheism is a simple lack of opinion.]My understanding of the term atheist is the lack of belief of gods. Because there is no knowledge of gods until taught, a child cannot believe in said gods. Wall-ah atheist![Mad: No, our primitive "gullibility" is what makes possible culture. Otherwise, from an evolutionary point of view, it's not terribly useful.]I think we are saying the same thing here, when we are children our gullibility allows for learning. We trust enough as to not challenge the things that are basic for our survival. Babies do have a rudimentary instinct, they will not crawl over a black spot, AKA not crawl into a hole, things of that nature. But because we are a social creature we learn from each other and gullibility allows for learning without much challenge. The question is weather the ideas passed along are valid. [Mad: most, I would say -- of our cultural institutions are premised on religion.]I would not dispute this point, but it does not add any weight to a god argument. I don't think I have to tell you this, but just because the masses believe something, says nothing about how true it is.Later
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Chris OConnor: This comes down to a misunderstanding of the basic terms. An "atheist" is "one who lacks belief in a god or gods." It is NOT "one who believes..."I've never met anyone who self applied the label "atheist" who didn't do so in reaction to established belief. Theists may fancy that they'd hold the same position whether or not they'd ever heard of religion, but I doubt that's the case.If you were born on an island all by yourself with no exposure to the god concept you would certainly lack the belief in a god or gods. Your atheism is implied by your lack of exposure to the concept.As a stance, it can't be implied that way. A person raised on a desert island might, if given an unbiased presentation of a given religious doctrine, buy into it right away. They might well devise their own gods, without the pattern of other religions. Either lacking belief is, itself, an explicit form of atheism, or atheism must be consciously expressed to be atheism at all. I don't see much between space. It doesn't makes sense to say that a person who doesn't oppose a presidential candidate -- because they're not a citizen of that country, and don't know the candidates -- therefore supports that candidate, even implicitly.What Frank is saying is correct. You and I am even the Pope were born lacking the belief in a god or gods. Once these concepts were introduced we were afforded the opportunity to accept or reject them.Absolutely, and my contention is that, to say that a person is atheist or otherwise prior to that opportunity, is meaningless, save as a rhetorical feint. The implication is that atheism is a natural state to which we may return to, which points to the whole naturalistic fallacy, that anything which is deemed natural is therefore better. By the same token, we could say that an oyster is better off than the Pope, because the oyster has retained its natural atheism. The oyster hasn't done that at all -- it's merely not capable of addressing the question, and the same is true of newborn child.But the fact remains that all humans are born without knowledge of any god myths. So they obviously don't enter the world with a god belief.What's interesting is that nearly all children develop myths on their own. As far as I can tell, the development of adult atheism is achieved only by a struggle which assumes a cultural background of religious belief against which one stakes a denial. That isn't to say that religious belief is more natural than atheism -- I think it happens as a result of the very much artificial fact of one's having been born in a culture. But to say that deliberate indoctrination is the only way in which children come to adopt myths runs contrary to the work of psychologists and sociologists, like Jean Piaget, for instance, who have observed the creative mythological impulse in children.Frank 013: It does not provide evidence to the positive either.Nope, and I wouldn't claim that it did.Like I said before I do not have proof, I can only go with likelihood.How is the one more likely than the other? This is what I don't get. If you say that, looking at it from an unbiased point of view, you can find no evidence either for or against the existence of God, and that logic is incapable of settling the question, then what determines the conclusion that a godless universe is more likely? It would seem to me that, from an unbiased point of view, you would have to conclude that a godless universe and one in which a God does exist are equally likely or unlikely. And if that's the case, then there's no reason to be either atheist or theist. Agnosticism is the best you can shoot for. But you've identified yourself as an atheist, so the question that presents itself is, what made the one more likely than the other?Yes, the terms are man made, but the atom has been observed, the force of Gravity has elements that we can detect and study, evolution has support through fossil records and observance of the natural world. We named these things but we did not create them.In a sense, we did. A contemplative scientists will admit that these things are convenient fictions. One of Darwin's more startling assertions is that there is essentially no difference between a variation and a species as a category -- we maintain the convenient fiction of the species only by dint of effort, and the confusion over certain taxonomic definitions is due almost entirely to the limitations of those fictions. We have observed atoms because we assumed their existence before hand, and subsequently found something to which we might append the name. The more we look at them, the less capable we are of determining just what they are or what they do. That may all sound very luddite and backwards to you. All I'm saying is that we understand the world through symbols that never perfectly correspond to the things they signify. The same is as true of physics as it is of history, as true of mathematics as it is of jurisprudence.What does God represent in our physical reality?Nothing; that's just about the whole point of the Judeo-Christian monotheistic Creator God -- that God logically precedes the physical world.I think we are saying the same thing here, when we are children our gullibility allows for learning.Perhaps, but where we differ is that I think the word "gullibility" is entirely inadequate for what we're talking about. If nothing else, it's an emotionally loaded term.I would not dispute this point, but it does not add any weight to a god argument.No; and as I've said, I'm not arguing for the existence of God. But the point does, I think, entail some rather daunting consequences for any atheist who is serious about establishing civilization on purely rational grounds. And it strikes me that very few atheists have made much headway in dealing with those consequences. If, for example, the patterns of narrative structure are nearly all related to patterns of religious ritual, how do you go about establishing a genuinely atheist literature or theater? Most atheists, I think, would reject the question -- they'd say it's unnecessary to dispense with the old form, that it's possible to adapt it to atheist needs. I don't think it's that simple. Religious ritual is nothing more than doing because it patterns our behavior according to a fixed scheme -- it need not be explicitly connected to a communicated doctrine in order to be efficacious. It need not even be efficacious the majority of the time in order to convey a religious experience at some later time. In fact, I'd say both of those are the normative state. Why any staunch atheist would want to keep all of that intact is beyond me.
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[Mad: How is the one more likely than the other?]Asking me to believe in defined God/gods you are asking me to accept the fantastic.[Mad: This is what I don't get. If you say that, looking at it from an unbiased point of view, you can find no evidence either for or against the existence of God.]I would never dispute the possibility of an undefined god, so in that sense I am agnostic. What I find to be unverified are the god myths of organized religion. [Mad: Nothing; that's just about the whole point of the Judeo-Christian monotheistic Creator God -- that God logically precedes the physical world.]I cannot detect it with any sensory organ, any piece of equipment, any rational mental thinking, I have never seen a miracle; I have not seen the faithful favored over the non faithful in any extraordinary way, I have not been touched by the spirit, why would I just believe? I have said multiple times I do not discount the possibility of a god, but by every definition I have been given gods do not appear to exist.Just because I can't disprove that unicorns live on Venus does not automatically follow that I should give equal weight to the possibility that they do. Gods fall into this category, to me god is a Venus unicorn, and until someone can show me some evidence to the contrary I feel just fine concluding that god, in all probability, does not exist. [Mad: But the point does, I think, entail some rather daunting consequences for any atheist who is serious about establishing civilization on purely rational grounds.]I do not know of any atheists that are attempting such a thing, they may exist but I do not know any of them.Like I said before I do not go to atheist club meetings, I do not need for people to believe as I do, I just want them to keep their stupid rules to themselves. As for the history of culture; I personally love history, culture and myth. If the roots of my language are based off of religious scripture, so what? I really do not see the relevance of such a question. When I write I may still use some of the same structure of old text but does that make it religious? No of course not.[Mad: If, for example, the patterns of narrative structure are nearly all related to patterns of religious ritual, how do you go about establishing a genuinely atheist literature or theater?]Remove the God element. Again the history is of little importance.If the history of ritual were important to humans, Christmas would be celebrated in April, there would be no Christmas trees and Santa would be thin.In short we can take what we like from old ritual and discard the holy aspects of it.Later
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[Mad: I think, entail some rather daunting consequences for any atheist who is serious about establishing civilization on purely rational grounds.]I could be wrong but I think you might be misreading the goal of most atheists. I can only really speak for myself but I think most atheists just want to be free of religious bias. I do not think that most atheists want a separate original, rational society. Later
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[Mad: What's interesting is that nearly all children develop myths on their own. As far as I can tell, the development of adult atheism is achieved only by a struggle which assumes a cultural background of religious belief against which one stakes a denial.]Not a denial, a conclusion. For me there was no struggle just curiosity, I wanted to see what all the hoopla was about. I do not have children but I was one once, I agree that children create mythology, but when I did this as a child (and I was extremely imaginative) I did not believe what I made up, and I did not expect others to either. In my child mind I ran from King Kong, fought with Jason and his Argonauts, assaulted the Death Star and much more. But I did not believe any of it was real. Later
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