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Old 04-19-2014, 10:54 PM
 
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Atheism is (1) the absence of belief in deities or (2) the rejection of belief in deities. Either way, it involves some sort of belief, which then confuses me, because then I don't know what counts as a "belief" and what counts as "existence". So, a surefire way to know that I am an atheist is that I do not worship deities, and I do not pray to deities, because my parents never raised me that way or taught me how to pray or worship. I tried mimicking the praying hands behavior, simply because I thought it was cool. Because I do not worship/pray/communicate to deities, won't I be an atheist? Or does atheism have to be personal belief rather than a behavior?
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Old 04-19-2014, 11:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
Atheism is (1) the absence of belief in deities or (2) the rejection of belief in deities. Either way, it involves some sort of belief, which then confuses me, because then I don't know what counts as a "belief" and what counts as "existence". So, a surefire way to know that I am an atheist is that I do not worship deities, and I do not pray to deities, because my parents never raised me that way or taught me how to pray or worship. I tried mimicking the praying hands behavior, simply because I thought it was cool. Because I do not worship/pray/communicate to deities, won't I be an atheist? Or does atheism have to be personal belief rather than a behavior?
None of this makes sense to me.

The absence of a belief is not a belief.

The rejection of a belief is not a belief.

If you do not believe a deity exists, you are an atheist. That's it.
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Old 04-20-2014, 03:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
Atheism is (1) the absence of belief in deities or (2) the rejection of belief in deities. Either way, it involves some sort of belief, which then confuses me, because then I don't know what counts as a "belief" and what counts as "existence". So, a surefire way to know that I am an atheist is that I do not worship deities, and I do not pray to deities, because my parents never raised me that way or taught me how to pray or worship. I tried mimicking the praying hands behavior, simply because I thought it was cool. Because I do not worship/pray/communicate to deities, won't I be an atheist? Or does atheism have to be personal belief rather than a behavior?
Atheism is about belief, not behaviour. If you believe that gods exist, then you are not an atheist, even if you do not pray to them. Similarly, if you do not believe that a god exists, you are an atheist, even if you pretend to pray to it in order to keep your job.

If you believe that a god (or gods) exists, but you do not believe in any organized religion,then you are an irreligious theist. If you do belong to a religion that does not believe in gods,then you are a religious atheist belonging (for some reason) to an atheistic religion. Jainism is the only example I can think of.

If you follow a religion that does believe in gods but does not regard them as important for obtaining some advantage in this world (and the next - possibly) through some means we would call 'supernatural', but something else, like Karma, or Thetans , is, then you have a religion with a Quasi - god belief, like Buddhism or Scientology.

Hope that clarifies matters.
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Old 04-20-2014, 03:58 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Lilac110 View Post
None of this makes sense to me.

The absence of a belief is not a belief.

The rejection of a belief is not a belief.

If you do not believe a deity exists, you are an atheist. That's it.
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?
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Old 04-20-2014, 04:06 AM
 
181 posts, read 176,904 times
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Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
Atheism is about belief, not behaviour. If you believe that gods exist, then you are not an atheist, even if you do not pray to them. Similarly, if you do not believe that a god exists, you are an atheist, even if you pretend to pray to it in order to keep your job.

If you believe that a god (or gods) exists, but you do not believe in any organized religion,then you are an irreligious theist. If you do belong to a religion that does not believe in gods,then you are a religious atheist belonging (for some reason) to an atheistic religion. Jainism is the only example I can think of.

If you follow a religion that does believe in gods but does not regard them as important for obtaining some advantage in this world (and the next - possibly) through some means we would call 'supernatural', but something else, like Karma, or Thetans , is, then you have a religion with a Quasi - god belief, like Buddhism or Scientology.

Hope that clarifies matters.
The problem is understanding what counts as "God", what counts as "supernatural", what counts as "religious belief", and what counts as "prayer".
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Old 04-20-2014, 04:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Lilac110 View Post
None of this makes sense to me.

The absence of a belief is not a belief.

The rejection of a belief is not a belief.

If you do not believe a deity exists, you are an atheist. That's it.
The problem is that 'belief' covers a number of ideas. Belief - thinking that something is so, real,or true, is the same. The basis for thinking something is so, real,or true, may be valid or invalid. It is still a belief, but based on reasoning or evidence or not.

If it is based on the evidence, then it is not a religious -type faith - belief, which typically features believing something based on little evidence and a lot of supposition.

Christianity, for example, is based on a lot of evidence, but the acceptance of that evidence requires a lot of faith is what we would normally consider dubious anecdotes: Eden, the Flood, the parting of the Red sea, the star of the nativity,the walking on water and the bodily resurrection.

The ongoing debate is largely about whether these things really happened or are just tall tales. If they can be given a degree of credibility - say we round a wall-painting in an Egyptian tomb showing the events of exodus, I would have to totally reconsider my view that it never happened.

If (as occurs during these ongoing debates) the reliability of the Bible -stories is shown to be virtually Nil, then Faith takes over. Belief in spite of the lack of evidence or even contrary evidence is what we have, and that is what we atheists call Faith with a capital "F" or'blind' faith.

And curiously Believers seem to find it even more spiritually purified to believe regarding the facts than merely to believe on evidence, like those scientists do.

This business of evidence -based faith raises the problem of whether believing something on evidence negates believing something on faith. If believing (on Faith) that Jesus rose from the dead is required to get into heaven (or whatever Christians have these days) then is believing it on evidence a negation of that faith?

Nevertheless,the need to validate beliefs through evidence is a strong one and much of the debate is about the validity of evidence one way or the other, and indeed questioning the validity of the evidence that we atheists use as the basis for what we believe.
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Old 04-20-2014, 04:24 AM
 
181 posts, read 176,904 times
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Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
The problem is that 'belief' covers a number of ideas. Belief - thinking that something is so, real,or true, is the same. The basis for thinking something is so, real,or true, may be valid or invalid. It is still a belief, but based on reasoning or evidence or not.

If it is based on the evidence, then it is not a religious -type faith - belief, which typically features believing something based on little evidence and a lot of supposition.

Christianity, for example, is based on a lot of evidence, but the acceptance of that evidence requires a lot of faith is what we would normally consider dubious anecdotes: Eden, the Flood, the parting of the Red sea, the star of the nativity,the walking on water and the bodily resurrection.

The ongoing debate is largely about whether these things really happened or are just tall tales. If they can be given a degree of credibility - say we round a wall-painting in an Egyptian tomb showing the events of exodus, I would have to totally reconsider my view that it never happened.

If (as occurs during these ongoing debates) the reliability of the Bible -stories is shown to be virtually Nil, then Faith takes over. Belief in spite of the lack of evidence or even contrary evidence is what we have, and that is what we atheists call Faith with a capital "F" or'blind' faith.

And curiously Believers seem to find it even more spiritually purified to believe regarding the facts than merely to believe on evidence, like those scientists do.

This business of evidence -based faith raises the problem of whether believing something on evidence negates believing something on faith. If believing (on Faith) that Jesus rose from the dead is required to get into heaven (or whatever Christians have these days) then is believing it on evidence a negation of that faith?

Nevertheless,the need to validate beliefs through evidence is a strong one and much of the debate is about the validity of evidence one way or the other, and indeed questioning the validity of the evidence that we atheists use as the basis for what we believe.
If you have read Buddhism for Dummies, then you would get a plausible reason as to why Westerners were attracted to Buddhism when Buddhism began to spread to the West in the late part of the 20th century. Before that time period, Westerners knew very little about Buddhism and had very few resources on the topic, besides the information provided in the most obscure place in the Asian section of the library. The authors claim that Buddhism appeals to the Western post-Enlightenment spirit of empiricism, and jokingly suggests that Buddhism can be a good religion for atheists. Although it does hold claims on the nature of reality, that is not suggestive that Buddhism is theistic. Karma is NOT a god or demigod. It is a claim on the nature of reality. Calling it a god or demigod is misleading, because people certainly don't worship karma or Buddha. Calling karma a god or demigod would probably be like calling the Christian concept of Heaven a god or demigod. It is a claim on the nature of reality.
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:38 AM
 
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Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
The problem is understanding what counts as "God", what counts as "supernatural", what counts as "religious belief", and what counts as "prayer".
You are right. Meditation with the intent of affecting the mind and body is the nearest thing to non religious praying. To do exactly the same thing with the intent of gaining some supernatural benefit is religious praying - simply because the beliefs behind it are religious.

Religious belief has a lot of grey areas, but 'belief in a god or gods' is too simple, for the reasons yougave. Therefore I have devised my own definition, which Dictionaries are free to use without charge or even acknowledgement

'Religion - practices intended to obtain benefits in this life and a possible next life by propitiating and influencing a divine or quasi -divide (see 'Karma') entity.'

The supernatural is effectively areas which science cannot reach and therefore often ignores. It covers, but is not limited to, divine or spirit entities. It tends to include stuff like alternate archeology, Bigfoot, UFOs and Lake-monsters. It has been well observed that, as soon as something Supernatural becomes explained, understood or even just accepted by science, it becomes scienfific and natural.

It is understandably annoying for the theists and cultists that they are left only the unexplained and unaccepted claims. As soon as they become 'explained' with a degree of scientific credibility, science snatches it away. How annoying for them.

What counts as 'God'. Ha A contentious issue indeed. Our pals Mystic phd and Boxcar perhaps focussed attention on the essential limits of what we could call 'gods'.

The natural workings of physics,atomic physics and biological physics are not 'God'. The natural laws that have matter combining according to innate properties of matter, or developing evolved forms through understood unplanned changes is not 'God' nor evidence for a god.

An intelligence outside of human agency that is or has planned and executed all this, that is 'God'. It is the aspect of 'Forward planning' in the way nature and reality is, that is needed before we can call it 'God'. If we believe that it no longer intervenes or even if it is still running things but not talking to the top of its creation, then......

I have to admit that in finding the dividing line between deist-god and a personal god -I find it impossible. The Founding Deists, like Jefferson, believed that God made everything but presumably it now ran like a perpetual motion machine -without needing a spin from invisible hands to keep it turning. If he believed that God had sent Jesus, that would make him a Theist. If he thought of him (Jesus) as just another moral teacher, then he would still be a Deist.

If you believe that a god is sending storms and floods to 'let us know he is there' or saving the odd airplane or getting a few people out of a disaster, then you are a Theist. If you believe that you are in personal communication with a god, then absolutely you are a theist.

Now, it is possible to argue that a race of aliens might have evolved so much that -as in the A.C Clarke phrase, it is technology so advanced as to be indistinguishable from magic. Boxcar's idea goes further - to its logical conclusion. Any evolution to a point where the species can bring about real and lasting physical effects through a mere act of will has become Magic. In effect, they are gods.

The Aliens of Von Daniken only looked like gods to the people with whom they interacted. They used machines, not magic. A being that could work magic could turn up and claim to be God and we would not know that it wasn't.

Kirk asked 'God' 'Why would God need a starship?' This 'God' wouldn't need one.

However,rather fortunately, there is not evidence that any such entities are here with us and, if they exist, they exist in a distant galaxy far,far away and we know nothing about them and they are utterly irrelevant to us, just as the 'Have you looked everywhere in the Universe?'-god. The only one that really makes us theist is one here,with us. To believe (on statistical balance) that there must be such a race of beings (if the rival god -gangs haven't wiped each out in a battle of Wills) would make one an agnostic deist, I suppose.

Any questions?

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 04-20-2014 at 06:00 AM..
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Old 04-20-2014, 05:43 AM
 
39,041 posts, read 10,831,421 times
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Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
If you have read Buddhism for Dummies, then you would get a plausible reason as to why Westerners were attracted to Buddhism when Buddhism began to spread to the West in the late part of the 20th century. Before that time period, Westerners knew very little about Buddhism and had very few resources on the topic, besides the information provided in the most obscure place in the Asian section of the library. The authors claim that Buddhism appeals to the Western post-Enlightenment spirit of empiricism, and jokingly suggests that Buddhism can be a good religion for atheists. Although it does hold claims on the nature of reality, that is not suggestive that Buddhism is theistic. Karma is NOT a god or demigod. It is a claim on the nature of reality. Calling it a god or demigod is misleading, because people certainly don't worship karma or Buddha. Calling karma a god or demigod would probably be like calling the Christian concept of Heaven a god or demigod. It is a claim on the nature of reality.
You are right. Buddhism did indeed appeal to God -doubting westerners, including myself. I would agree that calling Karma a god or demigod is misleading, mainly because they are different things. I call Karma a quasi -divine entity or quasi god, for one reason: I cannot see how it could work unless it had a degree of discriminatory intelligence. It has to know what are good or bad deeds -apart from what the doer of them might think about it. If that doesn't make it a god, it is only because Buddhist gods (and demi -gods, too) are something different.
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Old 04-20-2014, 06:36 AM
 
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Originally Posted by McDweller View Post
Atheism is (1) the absence of belief in deities or (2) the rejection of belief in deities. Either way, it involves some sort of belief, which then confuses me, because then I don't know what counts as a "belief" and what counts as "existence". So, a surefire way to know that I am an atheist is that I do not worship deities, and I do not pray to deities, because my parents never raised me that way or taught me how to pray or worship. I tried mimicking the praying hands behavior, simply because I thought it was cool. Because I do not worship/pray/communicate to deities, won't I be an atheist? Or does atheism have to be personal belief rather than a behavior?
A god could exist and not be worshipped by you. If you think that there are extant god/s but choose not to worship them, you're a theist, not an atheist.
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