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Ask an atheist

Discussion in 'Off-Topic' started by Askthepizzaguy, May 7, 2011.

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  1. Askthepizzaguy

    Askthepizzaguy Know the Dark Side

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    Posted with permission.

    I noted that there were other "Ask a...." threads, most devoted to religion, a few were unrelated to such questions, but there was no thread dedicated to non-belief. As atheists and agnostics are a small minority of folks, there is in my opinion a lot of misinformation out there regarding non-believers, or simple lack of information.

    I pondered whether or not to start a thread on this topic, as I have noted previously that other than a lack of belief in certain supernatural things, there is nothing that identifies or unites non-believers. There is no culture, no book of laws, no group identity really. I cannot claim to speak on behalf of atheists, I can only claim to speak on my own behalf.

    As some prominent authors have noted, we are not so different, this group of non-believers and those who believe. Rare is the person who believes in everything. There are things you do not believe in.

    If you believe in Allah, you probably do not believe in Zeus.
    If you believe in Vishnu, you probably do not believe in Thor.
    If you believe in Jehovah, you probably do not believe in Xenu.
    It's a fair bet you don't believe in sprites or faeries or other mythological creatures.

    There are any number of fantastic beings you don't believe are seriously real. And, as such, you and I agree on most everything already. So we have lots of common ground. In a list of a billion deities, you won't believe in almost all of them, and I will not believe in any of them. We really are not that far apart. I simply believe in one less god than you do.

    And, if you do not believe in Zeus, you are among the majority on the planet who do not. Do you think of yourself as a Non-Zeusian? No, you probably do not. You and any other non-believer in Zeus have nothing in common, most likely. You would scratch your head and maybe even be a little perplexed if someone referred to you as a Non-Zeusian.

    It's not even something that occurs to you. You certainly don't identify yourself as such. There's nothing at all special about non-belief in Zeus. There's no specific ideology involved, no conscious thought required. It certainly takes no effort to be a Non-Zeusian. As such, we are all atheists, just to varying degrees. If there is a god you do not believe is real, we have something in common. And yet, we have no natural affinity for one another just because we don't believe in Zeus.

    Atheists are often mistaken for a movement or a group of people. We're not. I can't tell if someone is an atheist unless I get to know them. I don't have meetings, there is no church. There may be atheist groups out there, but I do not belong to any of them. I'm just a dude, living my life, for as long as I have to live it.

    So I wondered if it was even appropriate to open an Ask An Atheist thread. My responses could be quite different from other folks of similar persuasion. However, if you have serious or even semi-serious questions and would like to satiate your curiosity, I am here.

    Other confirmed atheists may feel free to speak for themselves. If you have a question to pose to any atheist who might feel like responding, just post a question, and someone will answer. If no one does, I'll do my best to answer it myself. If you would like to speak only to a specific atheist, please address them by their handle, preferably in bold at the beginning of your post, for easier skimming.

    I will make it clear, being atheist does not mean that you have a specific opinion on politics, ethics, philosophy, morality, or anything of the sort. Questions that stray from the topic of atheism, belief, or related opinions may be ignored at my discretion.
     
  2. Skwink

    Skwink FRIIIIIIIIIITZ

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    Why did you make a thread for this when 3/4 of us OTers are atheist? I might as well go into any topic.
     
  3. Japanrocks12

    Japanrocks12 tired of being a man

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    What makes you think you can speak for all of us? :p

    Seriously though, how would you respond to the counterargument in the OP that belief in a deity (doesn't have to be the deity being believed in by the person making this argument) is better than belief in no deity, since the principle of faith is common to all religions?
     
  4. Askthepizzaguy

    Askthepizzaguy Know the Dark Side

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    Other threads have a specified topic of discussion which is not "Ask an atheist".

    Example, "Ask a Protestant Christian" is not the same thing as "Ask an atheist", and so therefore posing questions to atheists or discussing atheism rather than asking a protestant Christian or discussing Christianity, would be rude.

    Other threads, such as "Osama Bin Laden killed", etc, have absolutely nothing to do with atheism, and it is therefore even more inappropriate and even off-topic to be asking atheists about their atheism.

    This topic is "Ask an atheist" and as I stated in the OP, the purpose of the thread is to ask an atheist, and that IS the topic. This is the appropriate forum to discuss atheism and ask questions about atheism, especially if you're not atheist.

    If 9/10 people in the forum were atheist, that 1 in ten people who might have a question to ask about atheism would still find such a thread useful. I also don't believe atheists are in the majority even on this forum, which I admit has a higher percentage of atheists than most places I could mention.
     
  5. Truronian

    Truronian Quite unfamiliar Retired Moderator

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    Better than Ask a Man.
     
  6. Askthepizzaguy

    Askthepizzaguy Know the Dark Side

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    You'd have to flesh out that argument a bit more before I could respond. Are you suggesting that there is an argument wherein belief in any deity is better than none, because faith is inherently good?

    You wish me to counter that argument?

    Well, it's not really an argument, it's an opinion with no underlying reasoning, or at least none mentioned. I could state that I think oranges are better than pears, but without any underlying reasoning to debate, there's not much meat there for discussion. You either agree, disagree, or have no opinion.

    Folks' personal opinion that faith is inherently good is their own business, but without some reasons why, I couldn't begin to respond to that. It's not suitable for debate in that form.

    My opinion is that faith is not inherently good, as I could name examples of faith in certain things leading to disastrous consequences, which sort of proves that faith in anything at all is not necessarily good, and so therefore you're left with the idea that only faith in certain things is good, or faith in nothing is good.
     
  7. Skwink

    Skwink FRIIIIIIIIIITZ

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    We wouldn't need to ask a question. We are surrounded by atheists here all the time. we learn your views over a few threads.
     
  8. Askthepizzaguy

    Askthepizzaguy Know the Dark Side

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    So you're saying that you have no personal use for this thread? Very well. You're not required to participate.

    There may be other members who do have questions they wish to pose specifically to an atheist, regarding his or her atheism. They will find this thread useful. It's not required that every member finds this thread useful.
     
  9. Japanrocks12

    Japanrocks12 tired of being a man

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    Well this is a counterrargument that I've seen to the exact argument of "I'm just an atheist about one more god than you believers are" in your OP, so I was just putting it forth to see how you'd handle it. I'm atheist myself, I wouldn't put forth this argument.

    Also, the religions that correspond to all of the figures that you listed don't regard those gods in an equal way -- Hindu believers, for example, believe in this vague concept of God that permeates all of us and only takes on aspects like "Vishnu" and "Saraswati" in devotional movements and mythology. Whereas the ancient Greeks pretty much viewed all of their Gods as separate entities in need of separate sacrifices and separate devotions. Both of which are different still from how Christians regard their God, who they sometimes relate to personally and sometimes relate to as the God that's in their Bible with all of his listed characteristics there. What I'm getting at is that I can see a Hindu responding to the argument in the OP with "well, Christians are basically us in that their God is just a manifestation of our vague concept of God, except they have this story about him that we don't necessarily buy. We aren't so different after all, so I'm not really atheist with respect to the Christian God."
     
  10. Askthepizzaguy

    Askthepizzaguy Know the Dark Side

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    I would need to see this argument, perhaps posed by someone who would put forth such an argument. I'm sure there's something there, but I'm not personally familiar with it so I'd need to see the genuine article before I could personally respond.


    Perhaps it can be argued that way. Indeed, believers in Judaism and Islam believe in the same (Abrahamic) god, they just have different opinions on this "One" God. If any religion believes in a supreme, singular, deity above all others, regardless of their belief in other supernatural beings such as lesser deities or angels, those belief systems could be classified in a similar way.

    That said, even if you take that point, there is a counter-response. Some believe there is a singular, opposing, evil force which is like an anti-God. Some call this being Satan, others have different views. And yet, some belief systems do not incorporate a "god of evil" opposing the "good god", or they don't believe that a Satan or other supreme evil being is even on the same level as the supreme good being.

    If someone does not believe in a supreme evil being that opposes another supreme being, that is one god that they don't believe in. Perhaps the supernatural being in question does not even have to be a god, it could simply be a fantastic creature like a giant fire-breathing dragon or a leprechaun. Those are at least somewhat specific creatures, which are not included in every belief system. If you don't believe in those, then those are some supernatural beings that you and I both do not believe in.

    As for Hinduism being possibly compatible with the Christian god, yes, perhaps it can be explained that way; however, I doubt there is a corresponding god in Hinduism for each member of the greek pantheon. There isn't, according to what I've learned. Therefore, there will be gods in the pantheon that Hindu people won't believe in. Those are gods I also do not believe in.

    There are folks out there who believe in many gods, and perhaps folks who would seek to worship every god in the pantheon. My point in this case would be, the possible pantheon is infinite. You simply cannot worship every possible god individually, because there have been countless belief systems and yet more are being discovered. And there are countless hypothetical deities which have yet to 'reveal' themselves to people. You'd have to include those if you wish to pray or worship all possible gods.

    Because it isn't practical to worship, believe in, or even be aware of all the possible gods, there WILL be gods that people do not believe in. And so, the main point of my OP argument is valid; if there's stuff you do not believe in, and there is, then we have a common point of reference. I simply feel the way I feel about Zeus as I feel about all other supernatural beings.

    The purpose of that point is to show that, far from being a sign of disrespect or active hatred of your god of choice, it doesn't even occur to me to disrespect your god or gods. When I wake up in the morning, my first thought is not "hmm.... how can I blaspheme the Lord today?"

    I no more have an agenda against God than I have an agenda against dragons. If I have an agenda, it is for my atheism to be considered unremarkable and normal, and for folks who believe it's impossible to be moral and ethical without their personal God to reconsider that belief, because it is unfounded. I have come across that attitude before, and it's one of the many things I'd address given the chance to. Again I can only speak for myself in that regard, but it's what I think about when I consider my atheism.
     
  11. schlaufuchs

    schlaufuchs La Femme Moderne

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    How do I know I can trust you? You are one of dem god hatin, Darwin worshipping atheists, after all.
     
  12. Askthepizzaguy

    Askthepizzaguy Know the Dark Side

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    Do you hate Santa Claus? (Supernatural North Pole-dweller, not Saint Nicholas) If you do, I would ask why. If you do not, it's either because you don't feel he's worthy of hatred, or you don't believe he's real. You don't hate things you don't believe in.

    I also don't worship people, including Darwin. I think he's noteworthy in that his theories helped advance the cause of science, but otherwise he was just a guy.

    I don't believe you can know if you can trust me. That seems contradictory. If you knew, trust wouldn't be a requirement. Trust is a leap of faith, it does not involve knowing.
     
  13. holy king

    holy king Deity

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    are you looking forward to hell?
     
  14. Ziggy Stardust

    Ziggy Stardust New Englander

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    I'm planning to go to Heaven actually. And I have it on good authority I'm well on my way :)


    Link to video.
     
  15. Kerozine

    Kerozine Deity

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    What do you put under 'religion' when you fill out census questionnaires? :p
     
  16. Algeroth

    Algeroth 8 and 1/2

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    What the hell is "the cause of science"?
     
  17. Loppan Torkel

    Loppan Torkel Deity

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    How can religions be attributed so many faults in society throughout history, yet when separated and scrutinized, they are lumpes together into a single religious entity? Don't you think that the various religious beliefs affect the moral and cultural outcome in society the same way that political views do?
    Do most atheists feel superior over religious people? (Serious question - if you're an atheist, can you honestly say you don't?)
     
  18. Leoreth

    Leoreth Friend Next Door Moderator

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    How would you counter Pascal's Wager?
     
  19. Cheetah

    Cheetah Deity

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    Why do you feel the need to label yourself with something that isn't?
     
  20. Truronian

    Truronian Quite unfamiliar Retired Moderator

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    Pascal's wager assumes that the possible god rewards worship; it does not consider the possibility of a god existing who punishes belief.
     
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