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Old 04-20-2014, 08:24 AM
 
181 posts, read 177,086 times
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As the posts have explained above, I think Atheism relies on quite a few assumptions:

- Atheism must start as a belief. The belief is that there are no deities.
- Atheism must distinguish "supernatural" and "natural".
- Atheism must reject the supernatural, assuming that the supernatural has been defined and can be recognized as "supernatural". Therefore, Atheism is not only a rejection or disbelief in deities, but also a rejection or disbelief in the supernatural.
- Atheism by itself is not an ethical philosophy. So, many atheists rely heavily on the principles of Rationalism, Empiricism, and Secular Humanism. In other words, atheists must use reason and empirical evidence, as opposed to the supernatural, to explain ethics and decision-making. In any case, atheists must seek ethical philosophies that defines the nature of reality in such a way to explain and hold values, and these values are factored in the decision-making and ethical reasoning. Of course, atheists may also incorporate religious philosophy and ethics. Some do. Non-theist Quakers (Friends) is one good example. Atheist Hindus (they do exist) still hold onto the Hindu value system and worldview as a part of their culture, but do not believe in or worship deities. Many people in the Sinitic world hold onto the Confucian filial piety.

So, if anybody tells me that they are secular humanist or atheist, that is meaningless to me as to what values they hold. They may say "human values", but that completely misses the point of my question, because the question is addressing what particular ethical philosophy or philosophies that embody that person's values.

Many secular humanists, I have observed, value mutual consent. The ability to give consent depends on the belief that free will or free choice (however you call it) exists. Therefore, they most likely believe in free will.

Many American secular humanists may also believe in the values embodied in the American Constitution. They believe that everyone is inherently equal. No one is born better than others. Any violation of this fundamental equality is a violation of human rights and thus would make the happy human into a sad human.

Last edited by McDweller; 04-20-2014 at 08:44 AM..
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:41 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
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You're making this way too complicated. A person who believes that there is no god (or gods) is, by definition, an atheist. If you're not sure, or if you think there can be no answer, then other terms apply. You can go to any church you want, but, if you believe there are no gods and you just go to please the spouse, then you're still an atheist. See how simple this is?
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:48 AM
 
Location: The backwoods of Pennsylvania ... unfortunately.
5,846 posts, read 3,358,289 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
- Atheism must start as a belief. The belief is that there are no deities.
Whether or not atheism is a "belief" or not depends on how big of a special dispensation you're willing to give to religious claims. There are many things we can confidently claim we KNOW do not exist without calling it a "belief." Since there is no more evidence for deities than there are for these other things, calling atheism a "belief" is merely playing into a religious conceit which believes that religious claims are somehow more credible than mundane claims that also have no evidence to support them.

Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
- Atheism must distinguish "supernatural" and "natural".
In a nutshell, the supernatural is simply a catch-all term for things that have no explanation within the natural world. Yet.

However, some things are so outlandish as to make them instantly dismissable given what we know about how the universe works. For instance, no species has ever evolved "superpowers" such as teleportation or shooting lasers out of its eyes, so it can be assumed that a deity that can magically create universes is next to impossible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
- Atheism must reject the supernatural, assuming that the supernatural has been defined and can be recognized as "supernatural". Therefore, Atheism is not only a rejection or disbelief in deities, but also a rejection or disbelief in the supernatural.
Actually, it doesn't. Atheism only rejects the existence of deities. Sure, a lot of atheists do reject supernatural claims just like most atheists accept evolution - but neither are "tenets" of atheism.

I'm an atheist, but I am rather open-minded about phenomenon such as ghosts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
- Atheism by itself is not an ethical philosophy. So, many atheists rely heavily on the principles of Rationalism, Empiricism, and Secular Humanism. In other words, atheists must use reason and empirical evidence, as opposed to the supernatural, to explain ethics and decision-making. In any case, atheists must seek an ethical philosophy that defines the nature of reality in such a way to explain and hold values. Of course, atheists may also incorporate religious philosophy and ethics. Some do. Non-theist Quakers (Friends) is one good example. Atheist Hindus (they do exist) still hold onto the Hindu value system and worldview as a part of their culture, but do not believe in or worship deities.
Atheists quite often use empathy to develop a moral and ethical framework. The Golden Rule is applicable here, and the Bible merely stole it from earlier philosophies.
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Old 04-20-2014, 08:54 AM
 
12,540 posts, read 12,536,658 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
This is why I did say that people need to define "belief". According to Wikipedia, a belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true. In this case, the conjecture or premise is that there are no deities. Do atheists generally hold this to be true? Yes. Therefore, that is a inherently a belief. It is not a religious belief, but it is a belief nevertheless.

Many people seem to believe that a person is an atheist, because he believes there are no deities. Therefore, atheists do not worship deities.

However, what about the reverse statement? That a person is an atheist, because he does not worship deities. Therefore, he believes there are no deities [that should be worshiped].

My point is, why should atheism be based on belief and not behavior?

I think you're playing with semantics. If you don't believe a deity exists, you are an atheist. There are plenty of closeted atheists who go to church. Their behavior is that of a believer, but they are still atheists. The reverse can be true, too, that some who claim the title atheist secretly believe in a deity.

Your actions mean nothing. It's what's in your head that counts.
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:35 AM
 
181 posts, read 177,086 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilac110 View Post
Your actions mean nothing. It's what's in your head that counts.
No, I am determining the underlying values behind the explicit beliefs. Anyway, you are saying that the underlying value is that belief is more important than behavior. Behavior does not count; only belief does.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shirina View Post
Whether or not atheism is a "belief" or not depends on how big of a special dispensation you're willing to give to religious claims. There are many things we can confidently claim we KNOW do not exist without calling it a "belief." Since there is no more evidence for deities than there are for these other things, calling atheism a "belief" is merely playing into a religious conceit which believes that religious claims are somehow more credible than mundane claims that also have no evidence to support them.
Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true. Using the word "belief" in this sense, an atheist believes that the statement "There are no deities" is a true or valid statement about the nature of reality. I am not sure what definition you are using, but I am using a widely accepted definition of "belief".

Quote:
In a nutshell, the supernatural is simply a catch-all term for things that have no explanation within the natural world. Yet.
Okay. So, that is a blend of rationalism, empiricism, and naturalism.

Quote:
However, some things are so outlandish as to make them instantly dismissable given what we know about how the universe works. For instance, no species has ever evolved "superpowers" such as teleportation or shooting lasers out of its eyes, so it can be assumed that a deity that can magically create universes is next to impossible.
Okay. So, the underlying value here is naturalism.

Quote:
Actually, it doesn't. Atheism only rejects the existence of deities.
Indeed. That's atheism by itself. But many atheists also accept rationalism, empiricism, and naturalism, which stress the natural over the supernatural.

Quote:
I'm an atheist, but I am rather open-minded about phenomenon such as ghosts.
You are open-minded about ghosts. How is that different from the Holy Ghost?

Quote:
Atheists quite often use empathy to develop a moral and ethical framework. The Golden Rule is applicable here, and the Bible merely stole it from earlier philosophies.
There is scientific evidence for empathy and empathetic behavior in humans, such as mirror neurons. However, science is not an ethical philosophy. That said, most normal and sane people are empathetic and use empathy in their ethical reasonings. People are highly cultural beings and learn from their environment. They may hold cultural values that emphasize the notion that everyone is equal and has free will. This belief inevitably may influence the person's reasoning of what is ethical and what is unethical (in the sense that it is a violation or inconsistency of the values of equality and free will).
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:41 AM
 
12,540 posts, read 12,536,658 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
No, I am determining the underlying values behind the explicit beliefs. Anyway, you are saying that the underlying value is that belief is more important than behavior. Behavior does not count; only belief does.
Or lack thereof. Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. You either believe a deity exists or you don't, or you're not sure (in which case, you'd be an agnostic). That's all there is to it.
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Old 04-20-2014, 09:52 AM
 
181 posts, read 177,086 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lilac110 View Post
Or lack thereof. Yes, that is exactly what I'm saying. You either believe a deity exists or you don't, or you're not sure (in which case, you'd be an agnostic). That's all there is to it.
If a person agrees with the statement "I believe in no deities", then that is a belief. The belief is that the person does not believe in deities. The sentence can be rephrased as:

"I do not believe in deities."
"I believe in the non-existence of deities."
"I do not believe in the existence of deities."

They all mean the same thing, because they all talk about what a person believes in - whether it is the acceptance of the non-existence of deities or the rejection of the existence of deities.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:06 AM
 
Location: WV and Eastport, ME
11,195 posts, read 11,008,541 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
If a person agrees with the statement "I believe in no deities", then that is a belief. The belief is that the person does not believe in deities. The sentence can be rephrased as:

"I do not believe in deities."
"I believe in the non-existence of deities."
"I do not believe in the existence of deities."

They all mean the same thing, because they all talk about what a person believes in - whether it is the acceptance of the non-existence of deities or the rejection of the existence of deities.
What a load of garbage! You provide evidence, or you believe in something that is stated positively. Non-belief is not a belief. If you say you believe in something, that is a belief. If you say you don't, that is not a belief.
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Old 04-20-2014, 10:52 AM
 
39,174 posts, read 10,872,385 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
As the posts have explained above, I think Atheism relies on quite a few assumptions:

- Atheism must start as a belief. The belief is that there are no deities.
- Atheism must distinguish "supernatural" and "natural".
- Atheism must reject the supernatural, assuming that the supernatural has been defined and can be recognized as "supernatural". Therefore, Atheism is not only a rejection or disbelief in deities, but also a rejection or disbelief in the supernatural.
- Atheism by itself is not an ethical philosophy. So, many atheists rely heavily on the principles of Rationalism, Empiricism, and Secular Humanism. In other words, atheists must use reason and empirical evidence, as opposed to the supernatural, to explain ethics and decision-making. In any case, atheists must seek ethical philosophies that defines the nature of reality in such a way to explain and hold values, and these values are factored in the decision-making and ethical reasoning. Of course, atheists may also incorporate religious philosophy and ethics. Some do. Non-theist Quakers (Friends) is one good example. Atheist Hindus (they do exist) still hold onto the Hindu value system and worldview as a part of their culture, but do not believe in or worship deities. Many people in the Sinitic world hold onto the Confucian filial piety.

So, if anybody tells me that they are secular humanist or atheist, that is meaningless to me as to what values they hold. They may say "human values", but that completely misses the point of my question, because the question is addressing what particular ethical philosophy or philosophies that embody that person's values.

Many secular humanists, I have observed, value mutual consent. The ability to give consent depends on the belief that free will or free choice (however you call it) exists. Therefore, they most likely believe in free will.

Many American secular humanists may also believe in the values embodied in the American Constitution. They believe that everyone is inherently equal. No one is born better than others. Any violation of this fundamental equality is a violation of human rights and thus would make the happy human into a sad human.
Atheism is about not having a belief in what has no good evidence for it. This has been described as a belief or claim, but it is neither.

Atheism is not a belief, nor a claim, nor a religion, nor a dogma nor a philosophy. But it can look like one because, given the only basis for atheism - that there is no good reason to believe that a god exists- it means that some philosophic, moral and religious claims become more or less valid. Given that one does not believe in a god, it follows that the moral directives issued by such a god are without particular authority. They must make their own case against a number of other moral codes. This virtually guarantees that the atheist will embrace a humanist moral code.

You could guess at what values as atheist holds, but it is not an atheist Dogma in the sense of a book of moral behaviour every time one declared alliegance to the dark legions of Athe by the unnatural glow of balestar fire.

Atheism has nothing to say about the supernatural per se. Atheism is a rational and and rationalist viewpoint applied to a singlesubject: the god -claim. One would expect them to apply the rationalist view to any other subject, but strictly speaking,they are not doing it from an atheist point of view but (probably) as a rationalist.

We would certainly (given disbelief in God -given morals) believe in the capacity of human to make choices (or free Will, as it is called), but would probably have acquired with the realization of atheistic non-belief in a god, a sense of individual responsibility for our future and welfare as a species.
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Old 04-20-2014, 11:00 AM
 
39,174 posts, read 10,872,385 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
If a person agrees with the statement "I believe in no deities", then that is a belief. The belief is that the person does not believe in deities. The sentence can be rephrased as:

"I do not believe in deities."
"I believe in the non-existence of deities."
"I do not believe in the existence of deities."

They all mean the same thing, because they all talk about what a person believes in - whether it is the acceptance of the non-existence of deities or the rejection of the existence of deities.
At the risk of boring the butt off Troutdude there is a subtle but important difference between not believing that something is so (because we don't know whether it is so or not) and believing that it is NOT so,when we don't know.

To understand the difference, imagine being asked questions about what is in a closed box, apples or oranges or what.

Normally, of course, such subtleties would not matter, but it is made to matter because on such subtleties can pivot theist attempts to try to prove (by misrepresenting the logical basis) that atheism is logically unsound or untenable. So we have to be aware of such logical traps.
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