Talk:Atheism/Archive1

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Undergoing MAJOR revisions and additions. Thanks for your patience and (hopefully) assistance. --PalMD-yada yada 17:42, 2 June 2007 (CDT)

Jtl, I did a revision for you.--PalMD-yada yada 18:22, 2 June 2007 (CDT)
Thanks! I dunno why that phrase amuses me so, but it does. --jtltalk 19:07, 2 June 2007 (CDT)

Quotes[edit]

Didn't George W. Bush essentially repudiate his father on this subject? I mean, I can't stand the guy for many reasons, but fair's fair -- when he gets something right, we should note it. I can't find the quote now, though. --jtltalk 14:55, 3 June 2007 (CDT)

Knowing GHWBs history, I pretty much assume that it was a political remark rather than a comment of true belief. I don't know if GWB repudiated it, but it is something I see him believing.--PalMD-yada yada 14:57, 3 June 2007 (CDT)

Oh yeah, the GHWB quote, I don't understand why he wasn't impeached for this, it's on the same level as anti-semitism and if a blow-job qualifies as a valid reason for impeachment, then this certainly does too. MiddleMan 15:42, 3 June 2007 (CDT)

A wild guess: Because atheists are a small minority, and the Jesus Party hates them? --67.102.192.7 19:16, 27 August 2007 (CDT)

Why is there a link to Conservapedia that cannot be removed? If this is something to do with "seeing from anouther perspective, I want to point out that they do not offer the same courtesy by linking to RationalWiki's article. — Unsigned, by: 90.199.141.249 / talk / contribs

I would venture to guess that it's because a big part of our membership's reason for being here is to point out the problems that CP has. PFoster 22:11, 8 January 2008 (EST)

I see, good idea.

Justification[edit]

It would seem to many of us that there would be no need to have a real article on Atheism, as it should be the "default" belief state. That being said, we obviously need it, given the overwhelming influence of religion (at least on my side of the pond). I think it is in general useful to examine the structure of atheism, and "critique the critique". For instance, many of the theoretical arguments, such as the contradictory powers of God, are not all that relevant despite their popularity, as theists can simply dismiss them as rhetoric/sophistry. Anyway, talking to much now...got to see a friend about a goat.--PalMD-yada yada 12:53, 4 June 2007 (CDT)

Catch-22[edit]

There's a section of Catch-22 I'd like to include here, but I can't find my copy. Anyone have it handy? Yossarian and Major Major's wife are arguing about what kind of God they don't believe in -- the wife doesn't believe in a kind benevolent God, while Yossarian doesn't believe in a cruel damning God. --jtltalk 22:34, 7 July 2007 (CDT)

Is there an online edition? Mine is a few moves back.--PalMD-Goatspeed! 22:42, 7 July 2007 (CDT)
OK, I love the idea, to but to do it, I have to read the whole damn book again? Not that I'd mind, but really... Can I just watch the movie? How about both? Ah, good times... humanbe in 22:44, 7 July 2007 (CDT)
I think it's at Thanksgiving time, while Yossarian's in training to march properly. But with the non-linearality, knowing that doesn't help finding it much, I know. I haven't ever seen the movie (afraid it can't live up to the book), so don't know if it's there or not. --jtltalk 23:07, 7 July 2007 (CDT)

me me me[edit]

I want to add a link to atheist but see no obvious, subtle way to do so. Helpies pleez? humanbe in 21:30, 10 August 2007 (CDT)

My Hovercraft is Full of Eels![edit]

I notice you did not use the definition of atheism that encyclopedias of philosophy use like conservapedia does. No surprising since RationalWiki is not known for its scholarship but more for its obscurity. Also, I think you should put some Dr. Paul Vitz material regarding the psychology of atheism like I put in Conservapedia today. Newton 19:07, 27 August 2007 (CDT)

I giggled at the way you used "control group". tmtoulouse oppress 19:08, 27 August 2007 (CDT)
Newton: a little hint, RW doesn't claim to be an encyclopedia. Nice troll try though. St. CЯacke® 19:25, 27 August 2007 (CDT)
I wasn't EVEN aware that ALL philosophy encyclopedias adhered to one standard definition of "Atheism". Is that an ANSI standard, or an ISO one? --67.102.192.7 19:29, 27 August 2007 (CDT)

Newton, grow up. And stop being so stupid as to attempt to compare CP to an actual encyclopedia. DogP 19:31, 27 August 2007 (CDT)

He thinks Creationism is science, TK is fair, and CP is an encyclopedia. By extrapolation, his next step will be to decide that up is down, and then to float off into the stratosphere, presumably, this is how The Rupture will start. --67.102.192.7 19:36, 27 August 2007 (CDT)
Have you also noticed that we don't care much what you think, based on reading your oeuvre? Anyway, we don't reed boox, we'z ritin' one! It's betta four lerning that way. humanbe in 19:48, 27 August 2007 (CDT)

Nation article[edit]

Interesting piece here that includes a lot that should be integrated into this article. tmtoulouse oppress 13:52, 3 September 2007 (CDT)

History of disbelief[edit]

I think I've mentioned this before, but if you can watch the History of Disbelief[1] it is quite useful material. One site for viewing it can be found at veoh. --Shagie 14:36, 3 September 2007 (CDT)

Intro sentence needs correcting[edit]

"absence of a belief in god" would better stated as "belief that there are no gods", to distinguish atheism from agnosticism (which is closer to the "absence of belief"). Basically Atheism is more emphatic and decisive than agnosticism. I'll change this if no-one objects, and if they do I'll twat them one with make considered reference to my dictionary of philosophy. Totnesmartin 06:51, 15 November 2007 (EST)

Isn't it better seen as strong ("belief in no gods") vs. weak ("absence of belief") atheism? Agnosticism is more a question, or rather a rejection, of the possibility of answering such questions at all. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 07:05, 15 November 2007 (EST)
You seem to be right aboout agnosticism, but atheism, like God, is a bit of a slippery fish. there are many concepts of God ranging from "A man in the sky who does magic tricks" to "the ultimate stuff of the universe" (something like the logos of classical times). So it depends what god you don't believe in. Shall we go with your distinction of weak and strong atheism then? Totnesmartin 07:36, 15 November 2007 (EST)
The article already makes mention of this distinction later on. I would say (without reference to your dictionary of philosophy) that "absence of a belief in god" would describe all types of atheism, whereas the explicit statement "belief that there are no gods" refers to one type of atheism. I also disagree that "absence of a belief in god" necessarily describes agnosticism.--Bobbing up 12:55, 15 November 2007 (EST)
If I might intrude, I suggest it be "absence of a belief in gods" plural. I don't believe in any of them, not just one. And there are thousands to not believe in. humanUser talk:Human 13:00, 15 November 2007 (EST)
Good point.--Bobbing up 13:01, 15 November 2007 (EST)
Oh wait, haha, that's what it already says. Just the quote above is singular. humanUser talk:Human 13:05, 15 November 2007 (EST)

From Talk:Homophobia[edit]

"In short, the bigot believes that he is right and everyone else is wrong."
"...God (who doesn't even exist)"

In short, the atheist believes he is right and everyone else is wrong.

Note that I'm a non-believer myself, but frankly I find the attitude of certain atheists, which can be summarized as "Believers think they're right, therefore they're wrong. Moreover, I'm right", quite disgusting (and blatantly irrational). Just as a fierce anti-homosexual attitude may be a symptom of insecurity about one's own gender identity, a fierce anti-deist attitude (for which no scientific proof exists, either way) raises some questions about the true beliefs (or lack thereof; note that atheism, as opposed to agnosticism, is a belief, albeit not a religious one) of its perpetrators. --77.10.63.248 08:04, 23 November 2007 (EST)

I might be a fool for taking this on

as I'm not a great logician but: Atheism is a belief? I don't see that a lack of belief in something can be called belief; I also don't believe in leprachauns or mermaids (or teapots drifting in space!) - how is that a belief? I do however believe that belief in god or gods is a criminal waste of human intelligence and resources and should be opposed vigorously whenever possible. Susan... miaow ... 09:27, 23 November 2007 (EST)

There is an obvious difference between not believing (i.e. lack of faith) in god (but acknowledging that one cannot disprove his existence either), and positively believing (positive act of faith) in the non-existence of god (which cannot be proved scientifically, thus it is a belief). The same is actually true for leprachauns, mermaids and drifting teapots. I consider it unlikely that they exist, and if in doubt I will act on the assumption that they do not exist (as long as I don't encounter one), but there simply is no way for me to be 100% sure that they do not exist. In other words, I know that I know nothing.
Besides, it's really sad how there is so much hate on both sides of the fence. Faith a crime? Do you want to lock up two billion Christians around the world, not counting the other theistic religions, just for believing in something that you cannot disprove?
Also, the point made above stands: if aggressive anti-homosexual behaviour is interpreted as an indicator of hidden homosexuality, what are we to deduce from aggressive anti-religious behaviour? --76.24.95.155 10:28, 23 November 2007 (EST)
I dispute your logic: a positive disbelief = belief? Until anyone can show me anything to support the existence of an intangible and undetectable thing, I don't see that disbelief is in any way a belief. The comparison with homophobia is nonsense - its target does exist. It must be very nice to believe in a saving being that can right the wrongs of humanity (or be blamed for their failings) but it's a good cop-out to avoid man's responsibility. In an ideal world religion would not be a crime as it would be non-existant. As it is I deprecate any public subsidy or legal support for religion. Sorry if that's a bit disjointed but that's me. Susan... miaow ... 10:49, 23 November 2007 (EST)

This is RationalWiki, right? Can we agree that elementary logic applies here, or is this just CP in reverse? The fact that there is no proof for the statement "X exists" does obviously not imply "X does not exists". Only if you have a positive proof that the first statement is false, can you deduce that the second statement is true. It is logically equivalent to prove the second statement or to disprove the first one. Without a proof, you can't establish the validity of either statement.

So, as long as there is no positive proof, and as long as we stick to logic, the only possible statement is "we don't know if god exists". Anything that goes beyond that is faith, or call it something else if you wish, but it has no logical foundation. --85.214.73.63 11:23, 23 November 2007 (EST)

So disbelief in "Smergleherp" is also non logical? (no, I don't have to define it)
If there is no reason to believe in something then disbelief cannot be a belief - it's not an absence of proof - it's an absence of any evidence whatsoever. I did say that I'm no logician - just a reasoning person who uses common sense.
btw: I have come up against homophobes - (actually women "lesbophobes" (?) - most men think they are lesbophiles) who were definitely repressing. Susan... miaow ... 11:48, 23 November 2007 (EST)

See, that's where you're wrong. We can't prove that there exists a being so infinitely more powerful than us that we might call it god. What we can prove that each and every instance where the so-called "gods" of the non-extinct religions are said to have had a consequential impact on the world, each and every claimed impact is false. What you're left with is the possibility of a God whose motivations are obscure to us, and has no consequential impact on our lives. In short, a god we can pretty much ignore.
What we're reasonably certain of is that the creation myths of all the religions that have ever been are false. We're also reasonably certain there is nothing that could be described as a "soul", our conciousness is inextricably linked with our bodies and brains, and when they die nothing of ourselves carries on living. These bits of information alone basically prove beyond reasonable doubt that none of the Gods of theistic religion exist. --JeɚvsYour signature makes me horny 11:53, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Yes, there is a such thing as a soul. 75.89.112.146 11:59, 23 November 2007 (EST)

Err ... Bollocks? (now that's logic!) Susan... miaow ... 12:10, 23 November 2007 (EST)


No there is not. tmtoulouse oppress 12:06, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Yes there is. 75.89.112.146 12:19, 23 November 2007 (EST)

Care to supply some evidence that there is a soul? For my part, I'd submit that simple observation shows that what we know as ourselves is little more than a collection of memories. There have been people whose brains have been damaged such that while they are still rational, intelligent people afterwards, they will no longer acknowledge that the person they were before the damage occurred is the same person they are now. Since it is possible to damage the body such that we become a different person, when the body dies we are either simply no-person, or somebody completely different. Personally, I couldn't care less about either possibility. --JeɚvsYour signature makes me horny 12:23, 23 November 2007 (EST)

It's just fascinating how much you know. You know that "we can prove that each and every instance where the so-called "gods" of the non-extinct religions are said to have had a consequential impact on the world, each and every claimed impact is false." So you know the entire history of the past millennia. Even better, you can prove every bit of it. I stand in awe. --89.150.202.174 14:07, 23 November 2007 (EST)
It is possible that some of our contributers are a little too dogmatic. Nevertheless, can you provide any evidence for the existence of souls, gods or fairies?--Bobbing up 14:16, 23 November 2007 (EST)
First of all, I consider myself a non-believer, in the sense of agnosticism, so I really don't have to prove anything. My answer is just "I can't prove it either way, so I don't know." But if someone claims that (s)he positively knows that $whatever does not exist, then I consider it legitimate do ask for a proof. If you forgo logic to the extent of claiming that the absence of proof for $any_statement constitutes a proof of the falseness of $any_statement, I wonder what the "rational" in RW stands for, other than Schlafly-type "I'm right and you're not" "logic". --66.16.63.7 14:46, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Then we are probably going in the same direction. I would point out however that there are many things whose existence cannot be conclusively proven one way or the other. Fairies would be a good example. How would one prove conclusively that invisible fairies don't exist? It would be difficult. I would however suggest that the possibility of invisible fairies existing is rather small - much less than 50-50 and in fact so small that I can (in practical terms) deny their existence. From your comments I think it is possible that we are already in agreement over this. As far as the "Schlafly-type" debate is concerned - well, we're all individuals. Different people express their opinions in different ways. I can really only speak for myself, and you are most welcome to criticize any articles you chose. :-) --Bobbing up 14:58, 23 November 2007 (EST)

dear IP:
No no no! The point is that the totally unsuppored statement i.e. "there is a god" needs some back up to be even considered worthy of disproof. As it stands there is no reason to take any such assertion seriously. Merely to say "you can't disprove it" doesn't mean that it's worthy of attempts to disprove it. Susan... miaow ... 15:07, 23 November 2007 (EST)

It's remarkable how dropping a single word from your selective quoting of me changes the entire meaning of what I said, and then you can ridicule me for something I didn't say. See, what I said was: "What we can prove..." Drop that one word, and it's an assertion that we can do something, but with that one word it's a strategy for disproving the existence of the current breed of gods.
To be clear, I'm not claiming that I personally can prove that none of the gods that are imagined today exist. What I'm saying is that for each and every supernatural claim theists put forward, we can falsify them, and if what is claimed of the god isn't true then the god doesn't really exist does it? As a side note, you do realise a millenium is only a thousand years, right? Funnily enough, the last thousand years has been relatively quiet on the supernatural events front, but extremely heavy on the documented history front. Do you think these two things are somehow correlated? Also, register and log in if you're going to have a protracted discussion... I'm not sure if I'm talking to one person or five here. --JeɚvsYour signature makes me horny 15:49, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Granted, if a god exists, then he has no penchant for Hollywoodean effects. But how do you know that he is not, let's say, somehow inspiring people? Can you falsify that? The fact that he doesn't seem to be talking to you and me, does it rule out the possibility of an interaction with everyone else? Are we positively sure that all those people are just mentally disturbed? (maybe I'll sign up if the discussion continues) --85.25.141.60 16:17, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Again my Bayesian neurons are twitching. There are a lot of reasons to expect people to report supernatural causation where non exits. This self-report, anecdotal evidence is predictable by both hypotheses. However, the total lack of non-anecdotal evidence seems well in favor of "non-existence" and you add to it that I think the priors for non-existence are higher than existence, I just don't see any reason for belief or even agnosticism. tmtoulouse oppress 16:23, 23 November 2007 (EST)
We certainly couldn't falsify that God is "somehow inspiring people". But that's not the issue. We're back to faeries again. I can't falsify the invisible faeries. But that does not increase their probability of existing. I could imagine a zillion improbable unfalsifiable things - but wouldn't mean they were likely to exist. The question is what is the evidence for it? --Bobbing up 16:27, 23 November 2007 (EST)
If I had strong evidence, I'd probably be a believer and not an agnostic. The question that I was interested in earlier is why some people are so vehemently opposing religion. If I don't believe in a given religion, but it doesn't directly contradict my world view, why should I actively oppose it? Of course, if a certain religious view contradicts e.g. physical evidence, I'll probably rather trust my senses and thus oppose that particular religious view. If a religion commands its followers to kill the infidels, I'll most certainly oppose it as it openly conflicts with my moral standpoint. Also, I generally do not agree with imposing a religion on others (or atheism, for that matter). But other than that, why do some people so aggressively oppose religion? It puzzles me. --98.197.211.96 16:50, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Well the major religions are all about imposing their belief structure through violence, fiat, or whatever. Being opposed to religions that attempt insert themselves as the guiding force in public discourse pretty much means your automatically opposed to most religions. The other problem is that most people who embrace a positive belief in the super natural also embrace a dangerous credulity. I don't "oppose" them as much as I am not willing to pull punches only in order to respect their point of view. Irrationality, credulity, and a lack of critical thinking is a very dangerous thing in and of itself. I am far more apt to spend my time fighting proactive manifestations of credulity such as homeopathy and creationism and will not go out of my way to engage or argue with someone who really is "hands off" with their beliefs. But I will also firmly defend by disbelief when asked and will engage in argument/discussion if it emerges. tmtoulouse oppress 16:57, 23 November 2007 (EST)

I wonder if it's really part of the Christian creed to impose it on other people, though I certainly agree that many seem to interpret it that way. But I've also known several Christians whom I highly respect (and many whom I do not), because I've never seen them trying to impose their religion on others, though being themselves firmly rooted in their belief. In fact I wonder if that might be the reason. If someone firmly believes in his views, he can withstand questioning of those views. I wouldn't be surprised if many of those who aggressively impose their religious (or atheistic) views on everyone were really doubters themselves. Obviously this is just a conjecture... --82.67.62.239 17:33, 23 November 2007 (EST)

If we regard religions as memes then it is in their fundamental nature to proselytize. Meme theory would suggest that the most effective religions would be those which include within themselves instructions like. "Believe this or you will suffer forever. Make others believe this by whatever means possible." Whether the world's most successful religions have historically included instructions of this type is an interesting question.--Bobbing up 04:58, 24 November 2007 (EST)

Disproving gods, faeries and the soul[edit]

The most important thing to figure out is the expected interaction of these entities with reality. If you take something like Spinoza's God or some hands off deism where the supernatural entity has absolutely no detectable interaction with reality and as such offers no way to measure, quantify, or predict then it is impossible to disprove. You want to believe in something like that fine, you want to believe something like that might exist fine...but neither of those two positions is somehow superior to not believing in any of it. Your not on some higher rational ground because your agnostic towards something totally unfalsifiable and I don't believe in it. I would argue that concepts such as pragmatism and occam's razor actually but me on a higher rational ground, but it is splitting philosophical hairs.

Now on the other hand if you want to say these entities some how interact in the world in a detectable manner (such as the Christian god) that's a whole other story. When a god is proposed that is proactive the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. Since there is a complete lack of evidence in support for meddling deities or souls then the hypothesis that has by far the more support is that they do not exist. Therefore, your agnosticism is most assuredly not on some higher rational plan. All in all an appeal to anecdotal historical evidence and an argument from the negative is not very impressive. tmtoulouse oppress 15:22, 23 November 2007 (EST)

An interesting point in the first half of your second paragraph TM.--Bobbing up 15:27, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Well, lots of people claim to somehow communicate with god (and also lots of other entities, including dead people and extraterrestians). Considering how little we positively know about ourselves, including the question about free will (which some scientists deny, though I haven't seen any proof so far that I'd deem really conclusive, either way), can we safely exclude god (or invisible fairies, for that matter) interacting with humans? Granted, he ain't talking to me (or at least I don't hear him), but how would I know about others?
I find the question about the possibility of, let's say, non-physical entities interacting with the physical world quite interesting. I think that if you want to rule it out completely, you have to assume a completely deterministic world, which would not only contradict our perception of ourselves (think free will - which might be an illusion, though that would overthrow pretty much all our ideas about ourselves as individual entities), but also some arguably reasonably well established parts of science (think quantum mechanics: \Delta x \, \Delta p \ge \hbar/2 ).
I am a Bayesian so I don't through out hypotheses rather I assign them relative probabilities. In this particular discussion there are probably almost an infinite number of hypotheses that could be formulated about the question so the only way to analyze it is essentially the odds form of Bayes' equation. So you assign your priors to "there is a super natural world that interacts with reality" and "there is not a super natural world that interacts with reality" personally I would assign much lower priors to the first point than the second...but for the sake of argument lets assign uniform priors to both hypotheses. So then we look at the data, essentially you have two data points, all the times that the supernatural world fails to show any effect on reality, and any of the times it seems to show an effect. If there was strong evidence for the second point then this would be a moot discussion. But there is not. So really the evidence is "all the times the super natural has failed to manifest itself" and "all the times that someone claims, with no conclusive evidence, that it did." The first type of evidence favors the hypothesis that there is not a supernatural world interacting with reality. But the hypothesis that there is does support that sometimes it might not. The second piece of evidence is also supported by both hypotheses. There are many reasons we would expect people to report "super natural" causes to things even if there were none. The shear amount of evidence of no interaction, and the weakness of the evidence that their is an interaction would make the odds come out well in favor of there being no supernatural entities that interact with the world. You never toss out any hypothesis in Bayesian approaches, but eventually the relative probabilities become so different that really it only makes sense to assume one over the other. tmtoulouse oppress 16:09, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Problem is: Probability is basically about large numbers, but we're talking of (possibly) one god. Winning 1M$ at the lottery is highly unlikely. But the outcome, after the numbers are drawn, may be just that. Same here: we may be able to prove (but not in a couple paragraphs) that the existence of god is highly unlikely. And yet, when we die, we might find ourselves standing in front of him. Don't get me wrong, I'm not really contradicting you here (I think): simply I find that there is not much of a difference between "I don't know" and "I don't know, but it's statistically unlikely" - you still don't know. --67.18.176.114 16:27, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Aye, but there are degrees of "its unlikely but I don't know." For example in science statistical significance is reached often with a 1/20 chance that it didn't happen the way thought. Really a 1/20 chance is friggin' huge. What happens when the odds become 1/100000000 then 1/1000000000000 and 1/1000000000000000000......equivocating all of these as "It's unlikely, but I don't know" seems to be leaving out some major information. Eventually the statement "I don't know but its is really, really, really, really, really, really unlikely" becomes all but "I do not believe it." Yea there is a bit of wiggle room, and in the ultimate sense of the word I am agnostic about various supernatural things....but my relativity probabilities are sooooo different that for all intents and purposes I am an atheist. tmtoulouse oppress 16:32, 23 November 2007 (EST)
Fine with me (and winning 1M$ at the lottery is much less probable than 1/20) :) --68.229.103.156 16:38, 23 November 2007 (EST)
What is this doing on Talk:Homophobia? --Signed by Elassint the Great Hi! 16:10, 23 November 2007 (EST)
I dunno.......but debate happens where debate happens I guess. :) tmtoulouse oppress 16:12, 23 November 2007 (EST)

There is a such thing as a soul. After all, what happens when we die? We have to go somewhere, right? As for gods and faeries, i'm not sure. 75.89.112.146 16:15, 23 November 2007 (EST)

Or we don't go anywhere, if consciousness is just a product of our brain than when our brain stops working "we" disappear. tmtoulouse oppress 16:16, 23 November 2007 (EST)
We have all experinced a period of non-living before, who is to say that post death will be any different the pre birth mr. IP? - Icewedge 16:30, 23 November 2007 (EST)

As well ask what happens toa program when the chip is recycled. Susan... miaow ... 16:32, 23 November 2007 (EST)

Dynamic IP. Yes the probability of winning the lottery is less than 1/20. In the UK the national lottery (classic version) winning has a probability of 1 in about 14 million. Out of an estimated 60 million people, some of whom do not participate and others who make multiple entries the probability of someone winning every week is almost 1:1. Now if all those people, let's say 14 million active participants, prayed to their God to let it be their turn to win are we supposed to believe the one person who won and said it was thanks to God? Millions upon millions of believers have visited Lourdes hoping for a miracle and yet the Vatican has officially only ratified a handful. People have had spontaneous remissions from cancer without religious interference. You would think that an active deity might like to give a bit more reward to those devoted followers rather than just standing back and "inspiring" the likes of Mother Theresa, Andrew Schlafly, and Padre Pio (the one who faked his stigmata). The real odds for the existence of the supernatural are actually very small, otherwise in a global population of 6 billion we would be seeing a lot more evidence. Genghis Khant 08:26, 24 November 2007 (EST)

Atheists' morals[edit]

Atheists' morals are not absolute. They do not have a set of moral laws from an absolute God by which right and wrong are judged. But, they do live in societies that have legal systems with a codified set of laws. This would be the closest thing to moral absolutes for atheists. However, since the legal system changes the morals in a society can still change and their morals along with it. At best, these codified morals are "temporary absolutes." In one century abortion is wrong. In another, it is right. So, if we ask if it is or isn't it right, the atheist can only tell us his opinion.

If there is a God, killing the unborn is wrong. If there is no God, then who cares? If it serves the best interest of society and the individual, then kill. 203.121.66.253 17:33, 23 November 2007 (EST)

Here's a link to a full essay on the subject: http://www.carm.org/atheism/atheistandethics.htm

On the contrary, YHWH(assuming he exists) approves of abortion and in fact has laid down laws regarding giving abortions(such as those in the Bible), and in fact gives them regularly through miscarriages. Utilitarianism is a more advanced form of morality than "A wizard said it, so it must be right,"anyway. --128.61.125.74 (talk) 22:09, 28 January 2010 (UTC)


Are you suggesting adopting religion even if one doesn't believe in it, in order to have absolute morals? Wouldn't that be quite hypocritical? Or was it an attempt to prove that religion (which one?) is right and atheism/agnosticism is not? --195.71.90.10 17:38, 23 November 2007 (EST)

The main precept of my life is "do unto others etc...." With the corollary "don't do to others what you wouldn't like them to do to you." I believe this suffices. Incidentally, as the only thing which I uniquely own is my life I consider the removal of it the highest wrong & consequently the killing of anyone the worst offence. Whether you want to consider a nonviable embryo a person is up to you. You're beginning to read more & more like a trolling godbotherer with each post. Susan... miaow ... 17:51, 23 November 2007 (EST)

In the case of a masochist, "do unto others etc...." would be somewhat problematic... XD --194.6.222.38 17:55, 23 November 2007 (EST)

Christians' Morals[edit]

Do Christians really have a set of absolute morals which work for all time and tell them what is right and wrong? Some pretty horrible things were done during the Spanish inquisition for example. I've seen the torture instruments which are still held here in Spain and they are quite horrible things. Looking back with the benefit of today's moral codes it is easy to say they were wrong - but they were certainly believed to be right at the time. This is just one example of Christian morality changing over time, but it would be easy to come up with others. This being the case I would like to change the opening question to "At best, these codified morals are "temporary absolutes." In one century torture is wrong. In another, it is right. So, if we ask if it is or isn't it right, the Christian can only tell us his opinion.--Bobbing up 04:36, 24 November 2007 (EST)

Regarding the above discussion[edit]

wp:Hermeneutics. Cheers. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 05:42, 24 November 2007 (EST)

cover story[edit]

Please do not archive this section

Indeed, I feel as though this article is a good cover story nominee. ŖєuĻєReuleauxTriangle.pnguxsay wнäτ? 13:14, 28 January 2008 (EST)

I agree. humanUser talk:Human 14:01, 28 January 2008 (EST)
I second third. --e|m|c [TALK] 00:16, 17 February 2008 (EST)
Yep, this is good enough to run. DogP 20:54, 2 April 2008 (EDT)

I'll edit the template now. humanUser talk:Human 20:57, 2 April 2008 (EDT)

Continued from Conservapedia Talk: WIGOACP?[edit]

PJR losing his grip?[edit]

Now atheism is a religion! Bondurant 07:56, 14 February 2008 (EST)

There is a delicious irony in his atttempt to malign atheism as irrational because it is the result of religious blind faith. PoorEd 10:37, 14 February 2008 (EST)
I don't see him maligning it as irrational religious blind faith in that sentence. I see him characterizing the belief as religion without judging it for its religious nature. Ungtss 11:34, 14 February 2008 (EST)
You obviously haven't been paying attention. The Biblical literalists like to portray atheism as a religion because atheists "believe" there is no god. It is all part of the their straw man argument tactics. In much the same way evolution is called Darwinism, so that Darwin's "mistakes" can be used to undermine modern evolutionary theory, and promoting (un)intelligent design as "teaching the controversy" where no controversy exists. Of course, to a rational person it's all utter bullshit but when the majority of people are so gullible in the first place it means that a lot of dumb fish get caught in their net of deceit. Jollyfish.gifGenghis Marauding 11:38, 14 February 2008 (EST)
I'm afraid I'm one of those gullible people. I define "religion" as "unfalsifiable beliefs relating to human identity, ethics, and relationship with the universe." Atheism falls within that definition. But I don't think it's a bad thing to be religious. And I don't think PJR does either. Don't load your negative feelings about religion into PJR's categorization of atheism as religion. That is to say, "PJ says atheists are religious and Ghengis says religion is bad; therefore PJ says atheists are bad." He has no such negative feelings about religion. Neither do I. Ungtss 11:57, 14 February 2008 (EST)

CP religious fanatics have for some time maintained that atheism is an irrational belief system (thus a religion) without the support of that incontrovertibly infallible document handed down by the one true god: The Bible. That simple fact is that atheism is a belief system that depends on religious beliefs for neither its moral precepts nor its understanding of the physical laws of the universe. PoorEd 12:40, 14 February 2008 (EST)

While I'm a CP refugee myself and agree that the views dominant on CP are nonsense in nearly all respects, I don't think that in this specific case PJR meant to say that "atheism is an irrational belief system (thus a religion)." He said that atheism is a religion. But he didn't say that religion is irrational. That's RW adding an additional premise to his argument, based on RW's own biases. He may think that atheism is irrational, but certainly not because it is a religion. Ungtss 12:57, 14 February 2008 (EST)
I could well be misunderstanding where PJR is coming from, but I would probably have the odds on my side if I assumed his logic was not internally consistent. He and Andy have been harping on the distinction between the materialism of atheists and that it is the je ne se quois of Christianity that allows them to feel love, be virtuous, be CP sysops etc. My impression is that PJR is trying to have his cake and eat it too by arguing on one hand that atheists are materialists and on the other that they are irrational believers in an empty religion. PoorEd 13:56, 14 February 2008 (EST)
PJR is as daft as the rest of them. The only difference is that he is polite. He will quite happilly debate and make an utter plonker of himself so long as you debate with him politely. No blocks for 90/10 or any other excuses to put an end to the avalanche of evidence against him. He is probably the only one there who has anything approaching Christian decency. Auld Nick 14:11, 14 February 2008 (EST)
Yes, PJR is a decent bloke, for an misguided idiot (I've waded in slack-jawed disbelief through his endless attempts to prove that the earth is only 6,000 years old and there is no evidence for evolution). But I have to take issue with the notion expressed above that atheism is an unfalsifiable belief, and therefore qualifies as a religion. The notion that there is a supernatural being that has the power to make us miserable or grant us joy, is not a falsifiable belief. To reject that belief on those grounds is not an unfalsifiable belief. PoorEd 14:27, 14 February 2008 (EST)
Well, I'd say that agnosticism is the reasonable, minimal "belief" position. Atheism does go one step further and make an unfalsifiable assertion ("I deny the existence of that imaginary entity which you claim exists") But, other than that distinction, atheism really doesn't qualify as a "religion". humanUser talk:Human 14:34, 14 February 2008 (EST)

I see your point, Human. And we Aliens agree that it takes more than a single assertion that something doesn't exist to make a religion. If I say loudly in public that poltergeists don't exist, that certainly doesn't mean I've founded a new religion. Or have I? PoorEd 14:44, 14 February 2008 (EST)

First off, let me agree with AuldNick, PJR is probably the only sysop whom I would regard as a "decent" Christian. Secondly, my use of the word gullible was not directed at religious people (although I think most of them are) I was referring to those who cannot see through the specious arguments of the thought manipulators. Our own AKjeldsen is a Christian but I regard him as far from gullible. Those who categorize atheism as a religion seek to contain it, stereotype it and then demonize it. In short they can use the same tools against it as they can against Islamic fundamentalism or other extremism. CP does this all the time. Just see what happens whenever a self-professed liberal tries to define what a liberal is. The same goes for atheism. CP's article actually tells us nothing about atheists it just demonizes them. Atheism is not a religion because it does not impose any constraints on how a person lives their life. The only single common strand between all atheists is not comitting to the belief in a supernatural power. In The God Delusion Dawkins presents a scale of atheism from 1 to 7; where 7 is the outright rejection of even the possibility of the existence of a God (he puts himself at 6 where he is willing to accept the existence of God if the right sort of evidence comes along, but until then carrying on as if he doesn't exist because there is no good reason to do otherwise). I dispute the assertion that atheism is the the denial of god, it is being without a god, and it suits the religious to define it as the most extreme point of view. However, not believing in god as opposed to disbelieving in god - and you need to be smarter than the average to appreciate that there actually is a distinction - has no bearing on the how one conducts one's life. It comes with no baggage for social ethics, morals, animal rights, sexual orientation, tolerance, bigotry, gun control etc. As the Christian Right like to point out, Stalin was an atheist but that doesn't mean every atheist has the same beliefs. Some atheists are racist, neo-nazi homophobes while others are as if Jesus incarnate (apart from the god bit) - and the same goes for so-called religious people; some I wouldn't mind living next door to and would call my friend while others I would run a mile from. Religion is all about control, atheism actually gives you freedom. Jollyfish.gifGenghis Marauding 15:07, 14 February 2008 (EST)
Atheism is a religion the same way 'bald' is a hair color (or, to be nastier, the way 'good health' is a medical condition). --Gulik 15:27, 14 February 2008 (EST)
Interesting thoughts all, and good food for thought. I'm sure we could debate all day about what the definition of "religion" is -- is it belief in flying spagetti monsters, or systems of thought regarding the fundamental questions of human existence? Ultimately you can't prove any definition right or wrong, because WE are the ones assigning the word to the concept. I'd just like to reiterate that PJR uses the same definition of religion as I do -- the one I described above. When reading what he writes, however, it's important to keep in mind what definition he's using. When he calls atheism a religion, he's not calling it an irrational belief system. That's what RW writers would mean if they called something a religion. He means it's a belief system about the fundamental questions of human life like identity, ethics, and relationship.
As to Ghengis' comments, there are also multiple definitions of atheism, and we can argue all day about which is the "true" definition. Is atheism the explicit denial of the existence of God, or the absence of any such belief? I tried to write articles on CP on this topic (Weak atheism and strong atheism, as well as dead-in-the-water efforts to bring some reason to their atheism article) back in the day, but the fascist mafia shut me down.
Religion is all about control, atheism actually gives you freedom.
This comment is loaded with questions. What definition of religion are you using? Does atheism truly affirm unconstrained human behavior? What definition of freedom are you using? Ungtss 15:41, 14 February 2008 (EST)
Perhaps we could continue the discussion at Atheism. It could stand more fleshing out certainly. User:PalMD

Quick note: Ungstt said: "That's RW adding an additional premise to his argument, based on RW's own biases." By definition, RW now includes our new contributor Ungstt. So, Ungstt, you might want to say "some RW editors", or some such. Especially considering that there is actually a fairly diverse range of thought represented by editors on RW. humanUser talk:Human 16:44, 14 February 2008 (EST)

Point taken. On the other hand, I think it's safe to say that despite my presence, the bulk of RW's articles still reflect a particular set of biases, values, and assumptions, and will continue to do so. Wouldn't have it any other way. Ungtss 16:50, 14 February 2008 (EST)


Atheism is not necessarily about freedom or anything else other than a diregard for the notion of the existence of a deity. Atheists are free to invent a totalitarian or libertarian system of society, ethics, philosophy or anything else they want. While atheism could be practiced as a religion if it was the basis for every decision made during a person's life, it is not necessarily, nor is it usually, anything resembling a religion. PoorEd 16:49, 14 February 2008 (EST)


Ungtss:"I define 'religion' as 'unfalsifiable beliefs relating to human identity, ethics, and relationship with the universe.' Atheism falls within that definition."
I could go along with that except that atheism positively doesn't seek to explain anything whereas religion does. Saying "atheism isn't falsifiable" assumes it should be. CЯacke® 17:01, 14 February 2008 (EST)

I'm not really sure what an "unfalsifiable belief" is. However, as the root of the word religion is the Latin religio, "reverence for God or the gods" - by definition atheism cannot be a religion. It seems that it is other religious people who define atheism as a religion, not atheists defining themselves. I haven't come across many Christians who would blindly accept my definition of what a Christian should be rather than what they think themselves. Now when I say that atheism gives me freedom, I mean that it frees me of the constraints imposed by a religion. All religion imposes some constraints in behaviour or belief. I don't claim that I am completely free to do whatever I want, I am not. But those constraints are not imposed by my non-belief in a deity. There are social and indeed inherited religious ethics and mores that affect my behaviour and outlook. However, I do not accept that it is religion per se that has ordained these rules of behaviour. Of the Eleven Commandments (I know there are ten but they get group differently under different ideologies):
1 You shall have no other gods before me
2 You shall not make for yourself an idol
3 You shall not make wrongful use of the name of your God
4 Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy
Well these are all ground rules for the religion rather than prescribing any special moral behavior for me as an atheist. Mind, you I will go along with the idol bit and specifying that you should have at least one day a week off prevents unscrupulous employers from exploiting their staff.
5 Honor your Father and Mother
6 You shall not kill
7 You shall not commit adultery
8 You shall not steal
9 You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor
10 You shall not covet your neighbor's house
11 You shall not covet your neighbor's wife
These are all conducive to a civilized society. Small itinerant groups of nomads may have been able to ignore some of these with regards to other other groups but once people actually started living in cities then you need to protect property rights (including that of you and your family's bodies) otherwise there is anarchy and thuggery. All societies have evolved rules for getting along in groups and honoring your ma and pa is a way of ensuring you don't also get cast on the dung heap when you get too old. So belief in a supreme being does not make me behave in any particular way, it is mainly not doing things to other people which you would not like done to yourself. Jollyfish.gifGenghis Marauding 18:15, 14 February 2008 (EST)
Along similar lines, I think Christianity has tried to define atheism in terms of 'rebellion against god', and that is probably where the CP religious nuts are coming from. They can't wrap their heads around the fact that in some conversations God is irrelevant. They want to believe that God is always on the atheist's mind, whereas unless religious fanatics are constantly interrupting the conversation, that is the farthest thing from the atheist's mind. PoorEd 19:48, 14 February 2008 (EST)
There are certainly some atheists who seem that way... --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 06:25, 15 February 2008 (EST)
I agree with PoorEd. In my interactions with Christians in real life and observations of PJR and co., they clearly are incapable of comprehending that people can have no belief in God. Hence, they use terminology like "denial in the existence of God" as if us atheists are just being a bunch of naughty boys and girls, putting our hands over our ears and closing our eyes and singing "Lalala, I can't hear you!"
Odd in way; as Richard Dawkins would say, we are all disbelievers to one degree or another, it's just that atheists choose to go one god further.Bondurant 07:01, 15 February 2008 (EST)
All it takes is one atheist who thinks that way to give the lie to the contention that atheism is a religion. PoorEd 08:39, 15 February 2008 (EST)
As a brief response to the point made further up, many Apologists do in fact argue that belief in God is inherently rational, and un-belief is inherently irrational (i can dig up a linky if y'll need it). User:PalMD

apatheism[edit]

I have removed this line: "And because it is not worth the bother to spend time thinking and arguing about something so obviously absurd and irrelevant." partly because I don't like the way it reads and partly because I think it's talking about apatheism. I'll add something about apatheism now.Bobbing up 17:26, 21 April 2008 (EDT)

The view that discussions about god are a waste of time has nothing to do with apathy. In fact, I'd argue that choosing to argue that everything is the work of god or gods is the lazy way out. Science and rational thought is a lot more work than that. I suggest the line be restored. Rational Edevidence 19:18, 21 April 2008 (EDT)
Lazy way out? You should take a look at Karl Barth's Church Dogmatics sometime. --AKjeldsenGodspeed! 19:44, 21 April 2008 (EDT)
The line certainly reads badly. What was it trying to say? humanUser talk:Human 00:38, 22 April 2008 (EDT)

from article to discuss[edit]

Lyra added:

"Moreover, as per tabula rasa, all assertations of the existence of said supernatural entities are a form of unnatural control."

At the end of the intro paragraph, and I'm not sure it really "flows" logically. How do we get from "blank slate" to "unnatural control"? ħψAnarchy dd00dd.pngUser talk:Human 20:17, 22 May 2008 (EDT)

Well, how do you get from "default state" to "no evidence?" Lyra § talk 23:17, 23 May 2008 (EDT)
That doesn't exactly explain the quote above. ħψɱAnarchy dd00dd.pngUser talk:Human 23:19, 23 May 2008 (EDT)
Ah, I see. You are arguing with the previous sentence, "Atheism is logically the default state for any human being as there is no evidence of the existence of any supernatural entities." Which makes sense. Without any evidence there is no logical reason to "believe" in supernatural entities. I still have no idea what the sentence you added means, do you care to clarify? ħψɱAnarchy dd00dd.pngUser talk:Human 23:26, 23 May 2008 (EDT)
Means nothing.
One. If a black market dealer with dubious sources offered you answers to fundamental questions, would you take it? Most of mankind did, with theism and God. Atheism could never provide answers, even if the black market dealer had dubious sources. That's the default state, not "no evidence." Humanity wanted answers, not evidence against the answers. Lyra § talk 23:35, 23 May 2008 (EDT)
I agree with Lyra (I think). Religion is a philosophical pursuit, not a scientific argument -- nothing to do with evidence. And surely the "default state" would be agnosticism? ~ Jellyfish! (TalkContribsLogs) 23:43, 23 May 2008 (EDT)
Well, then, let's discuss the intro. I suspect Lyra of "drive by" arguing by editing. Which is no big deal, except this is a front page article. Can we, shall we, rewrite that sentence? Or do we mean it to be provocative, ie, atheism is the only sensible default in the absence of evidence? I agree, basically, that agnosticism might be the better default - but that is only in response to god-believers. IE, the difference between agnosticism and atheism is mostly an issue of arguing with supernaturalists. Many thoughts from other editors? ħψɱAnarchy dd00dd.pngUser talk:Human 02:30, 24 May 2008 (EDT)
It seems to me that difference between non-assertive (or weak) athiesm and agnosticism is not that great. The first says "There is no evidence for this so I don't accept it." the second says "There is not evidence for either possibility so I don't know." (I know that I am oversimplifying.) As for Lyra's quote, I don't understand it. Having read the explanation I still don't understand it. Could we have some expansion on the significance of: as per tabula rasa and unnatural control ?--Bobbing up 03:45, 24 May 2008 (EDT)
I think Lyra just wrote that sentence to point out the flaws in the text around it. And agnosticism is more correctly defined as the belief that there can be no absolute proof of the existence (or nonexistence) of God. Your usage is possibly more common, but this one is older and helpfully seperated from atheism. ~ Jellyfish! (TalkContribsLogs) 04:37, 24 May 2008 (EDT)

Ok - let's look at the context. Sentence one : Atheism is logically the default state for any human being as there is no evidence of the existence of any supernatural entities. Addition: Moreover, as per tabula rasa, all assertations of the existence of said supernatural entities are a form of unnatural control. Even looking at the previous sentence to which it is claimed to refer I don't understand it. Could you (or anybody) explain the significance of: as per tabula rasa and unnatural control and how these two are connected? It is highly likely that I am being dim here, but if the meaning escapes me it is likely to confuse others who are equally intellectually challenged.--Bobbing up 05:11, 24 May 2008 (EDT)

I'm not certain either, but I'll hazard a guess. :) Lyra seems to be arguing that if atheism was the default state of a human being, beliefs regarding the supernatural would be counterproductive and harmful to their natural intellectual growth. But I'm fairly sure she doesn't actually want that in the article -- she's just criticising the implication that religion is illogical. ~ Jellyfish! (TalkContribsLogs) 05:33, 24 May 2008 (EDT)
Going back to a question she asked, "Well, how do you get from "default state" to "no evidence?"", my answer is that the sentence runs the other way - its structure indicates that "no evidence" is the antecedent and "default state" is the consequent. Basically, I think we are writing an atheism-friendly article here, so we make a logical assertion like that. And the claim does not say anything about the ancient past - it is time-neutral, so I tend to interpret as meaning "now", not "before we knew what made lightning (or rain)", that is, it's not necessarily true in a world that is only understood to be magical or miraculous in its operations. Just a thought. And, Bob, she said above that her edit didn't mean anything - she was, in a rather circuitous way, I guess, trying to critique the sentence before it. ħψɱAnarchy dd00dd.pngUser talk:Human 17:27, 24 May 2008 (EDT)
Possibly an excessively subtle addition in that case.:-) --Bobbing up 18:17, 24 May 2008 (EDT)

Interesting?[edit]

[2] SusanG  ContribsTalk 18:45, 5 July 2008 (EDT)

Yes... ħumanUser talk:Human 19:54, 5 July 2008 (EDT)

Caption[edit]

I changed it because I thought the lead of the article should present the outline of its contents cleanly and without humor, Human. I still think that way, actually. Maybe a third opinion would help?

"Some people think this is the symbol for atheists. Looks more like the logo for the "Annapolis nukes" triple-A baseball team..."
or
"Some people think this is the symbol for atheists. It's not. There is no agreed-upon symbol for atheists."

Opinions?--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 04:54, 19 August 2008 (EDT)

Well, mine is that it's funny. The symbol came from CP. I agree "there is no symbol" or standard. But "without humor"!@?!?!?!?!?!?!?!!? Why not? Let us have a chuckle. Perhaps we should link part of the caption to where I grabbed it? Otherwise, anyway, et cetera, I really do stand by my caption. Does it not make sense? No, it is not the universal atheism symbol - and, yeah, it looks like a triple-A baseball team logo. ħumanUser talk:Human 05:25, 19 August 2008 (EDT)
I understand it and I get the joke, I just feel the first paragraph (and accompanying picture) should be clarion. We just have different approaches, so a third opinion is probably necessary.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 05:27, 19 August 2008 (EDT)
I agree, and that the joke might be lost on some. But - to speak for myself - when I come across such things, I do like the laugh along with the "without humor". Actually, the "without humor" part ruins most on-line atheist writings for me. You? (And we await third/fourth/etc input, of course) ħumanUser talk:Human 05:30, 19 August 2008 (EDT)
I'm afraid I don't really read anything about atheism online. I never found web philosophy very useful. I arrived at my conclusions about religion after reading Russell's A History of Philosophy and accompanying primary texts. You could be right about this article from such a perspective... does making the lead entirely serious detract from it? I admit to ignorance about it, and was only going on my own perceptions.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 05:42, 19 August 2008 (EDT)
I'm cool with where you are coming from (I think). Yeah we have to be funny, otherwise "we" are stuck being boring. Let us allow ourselves every version of atheism we can express (IPU, FSM, etc....) and let ourselves have a laugh in doing so? ħumanUser talk:Human 06:10, 19 August 2008 (EDT)
It would be helpful if someone provided a third perspective. I won't change it again until someone does so.--Tom Moorefiat justitia ruat coelum 23:08, 19 August 2008 (EDT)
Yes, more input would be nice. I am open to having my awesome joke get the goat if others don't approve. I appreciate your letting the quasi-stalemate rest at the status quo for now, by the way. ħumanUser talk:Human 03:30, 20 August 2008 (EDT)