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Atheists versus theists


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#1    Ludwik

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 06:00 PM

My theist-atheist article appears in the April 2012 Issue of

American Atheist Magazine. The link is:


http://csam.montclai...eo/atheist.html


Comments will be appreciated.


Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)

Autobiography, “Diary of a Former Communist: Thoughts, Feelings, Reality,” is at:
http://csam.montclai...life/intro.html
Based on a diary kept between 1946 and 2004 (in the USSR, Poland, France and the USA.  
Please share this link to a FREE ON-LINE BOOK with others. Thank you in advance.
Ludwik Kowalski, Professor Emeritus, Montclair State University, NJ, USA

#2    Leonardo

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 07:24 PM

It's a good read, Ludwik.

I agree that the realms of science and theism do not overlap. However, I do not get the impression that much of the disagreement between atheists and theists stems from science, although certainly some does. It has been my experience that most of the more heated disagreement derives from the different approaches to applying Law to society.

You deliberately chose to not include religion in your article, and that was a reasonable decision given it's brevity. It is religion, however, with it's inherent codification of behaviours (laws) which is the target of most of the atheistic aggression. By it's nature the Law inherent to religion cannot change, as it is divinely mandated, but society is not static and so laws must change to accommodate that evolution.

In an ideal secular society this would not be an issue, but religions are comprised of people and in a democracy those people are voters. Not all may vote based on their religious outlook, but enough do to make the religion a political force and politicians are loath to confront the influence religion has in 'secular' politics.

Edited by Leonardo, 06 June 2012 - 07:25 PM.

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them."  - J. Robert Oppenheimer; Scientific Director; The Manhattan Project

"talking bull**** is not a victimless crime" - Marina Hyde, author.

#3    rfj1

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Posted 06 June 2012 - 07:57 PM

I would agree with some of Ludwik's hypothesis when it relates to "Any" invented, out of thin air , "Mythology's that are presented as "Real" for those who possess common sense. (Lets how they can determind the difference)
The issue I believe he should address, is, removing "All" labels related to all and any belief systems because they simply don't (nor have never) existed.
What our ancient forebear's provided for the uneducated masses was their very own depiction of how things should be and why you should follow those rules or laws or what ever because you would be damned to some location where you would suffer for what they said would be an eternity.
If you "Remove" the lables you remove the "LIE".
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#4    Dash--

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Posted 08 June 2012 - 02:22 AM

Great article Ludwik! You should be very proud.
While I agree with points being made about non-overlapping of science and theism,I must also be truthful and say that I do believe theism and atheism debates do have value.When presented respectfully from both parties.
As i see it each sides take their hits,dust off and come back fighting harder.Much can be gained by such transactions.It teaches us to reach farther and search harder for answers to our questions.

It is only when one side or the other strives for a personal victory that the cause is lost and discussion ends.Most find the way of ad hom attacks and fallacies thrown around a'plenty.lol
But,every once in a while, a pearl of wisdom is discovered that could be for mutual gain.After all,we're all seeking the same goal.Truth

We live in a sunlit world of what we believe to be reality,but...

#5    Sir Wearer of Hats

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Posted 09 June 2012 - 11:53 PM

The way we teach it here (that being in the Catholic school system in Australia) is that religon answers the "why" questions and science answer the "how" questions. You ask a piest if you want to know why the world exists, but a aicentist if you want to know how it came to be - that sort of thng.

I must not fear. Fear is the Mind-Killer. It is the little death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and to move through me. And when it is gone I will turn the inner eye to see it's path.
When the fear is gone, there will be nothing. Only I will remain.

You may think you're cool, but you'll never be as cool as Peter Capaldi with an electric guitar, on a tank, playing the Doctor Who theme.

#6    libstaK

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 12:50 AM

An interesting and well thought out article.

I agree the material realm and the spiritual are two separate dichotomies and the psuedo battleground between science and theology is futile and distracting from the true aims of both parties.

"I warn you, whoever you are, oh you who wish to probe the arcanes of nature, if you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither shall you find it outside.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house, how do you intend to find other excellencies?
In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

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#7    Leonardo

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 07:58 AM

View PostlibstaK, on 10 June 2012 - 12:50 AM, said:

An interesting and well thought out article.

I agree the material realm and the spiritual are two separate dichotomies and the psuedo battleground between science and theology is futile and distracting from the true aims of both parties.

But what is the "spiritual realm"?

It seems to me that this is where the clash [between religion and 'science'] is taking place. That which was once thought to be the preserve of 'spirit' has become 'despiritualised' through both scientific discovery and other fields of knowledge such as psychology. This does not sit well with religious people who rely on 'inerrant, divinely-inspired texts' to mandate to them what constitutes the realm of the spirit/divine.

Edited by Leonardo, 10 June 2012 - 07:58 AM.

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them."  - J. Robert Oppenheimer; Scientific Director; The Manhattan Project

"talking bull**** is not a victimless crime" - Marina Hyde, author.

#8    libstaK

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 09:06 AM

View PostLeonardo, on 10 June 2012 - 07:58 AM, said:

But what is the "spiritual realm"?

It seems to me that this is where the clash [between religion and 'science'] is taking place. That which was once thought to be the preserve of 'spirit' has become 'despiritualised' through both scientific discovery and other fields of knowledge such as psychology. This does not sit well with religious people who rely on 'inerrant, divinely-inspired texts' to mandate to them what constitutes the realm of the spirit/divine.
There is no "clash".  What it seems to you is based only on trying to logically apply material knowledge in a material fashion.

Spirituality incorporates a journey into alternate realms of personal epithany and experience through visions, synchronicities for some and altered states as per meditation.  Science can see what occurs in the brain when these states occur and recognise chemical processes taking place but it does not inform as to the intimate significance of the experiences on the individual nor can it account for the deep seated knowledge which is the outcome of some of these experiences, although it posits and theorises based on the chemical processes and material changes that take place.

It simply offers it's results to those who pursue the journey, intellectualising does not apply any level of true comprehension.  That is lacking to someone reading this but unavoidable in it's intrinsic nature - I have tried both paths btw and on applying myself steadily to the meditative experience was astounded at the results

And then there is the other experiences which I spent many a year reasoning away until the body of personal evidence just failed to allow any room to do that any further.

"I warn you, whoever you are, oh you who wish to probe the arcanes of nature, if you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither shall you find it outside.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house, how do you intend to find other excellencies?
In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

Inscription - Temple of Delphi

#9    White Crane Feather

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 09:51 AM

View PostlibstaK, on 10 June 2012 - 09:06 AM, said:


There is no "clash".  What it seems to you is based only on trying to logically apply material knowledge in a material fashion.

Spirituality incorporates a journey into alternate realms of personal epithany and experience through visions, synchronicities for some and altered states as per meditation.  Science can see what occurs in the brain when these states occur and recognise chemical processes taking place but it does not inform as to the intimate significance of the experiences on the individual nor can it account for the deep seated knowledge which is the outcome of some of these experiences, although it posits and theorises based on the chemical processes and material changes that take place.

It simply offers it's results to those who pursue the journey, intellectualising does not apply any level of true comprehension.  That is lacking to someone reading this but unavoidable in it's intrinsic nature - I have tried both paths btw and on applying myself steadily to the meditative experience was astounded at the results

And then there is the other experiences which I spent many a year reasoning away until the body of personal evidence just failed to allow any room to do that any further.
Sorry on my iPhone I don't really know how to use most emoticons  so; ( clap clap clap).... I'm claping.

"I wish neither to possess, Nor to be possessed. I no longer covet paradise, more important, I no longer fear hell. The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the very beginning, but I did not take it. My ailment came from within myself, But I did not observe it until this moment. Now I see that I will never find the light.  Unless, like the candle, I am my own fuel, Consuming myself. "
Bruce Lee-

#10    Leonardo

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 08:27 PM

View PostlibstaK, on 10 June 2012 - 09:06 AM, said:

Spirituality incorporates a journey into alternate realms of personal epithany and experience through visions, synchronicities for some and altered states as per meditation.  Science can see what occurs in the brain when these states occur and recognise chemical processes taking place but it does not inform as to the intimate significance of the experiences on the individual nor can it account for the deep seated knowledge which is the outcome of some of these experiences, although it posits and theorises based on the chemical processes and material changes that take place.

And if we can 'see', through science, the activity that happens in the brain when people report being in a 'spiritual state', then who is to say there is anything more to that 'spiritual state' than brain activity? Couple this with psychology, and there is no reasonable cause to claim religiousity/spirituality happens anywhere except in our brains.

This is where science and religion (and spirituality) clashes. People claim there is more to the religious/spiritual experience than brain activity. Science, of course, cannot measure peoples beliefs - but add psychology into the mix and we have an explanation that contradicts the thousands of years of cultural conditioning.

There are, of course, 'real things' that exist, yet are not measurable by scientific enquiry. Abstracts such as Law, Art, Philosophy, etc. While these things are 'real' and exist in a sense, they are entirely products of our imaginations. Everything that doesn't exist in our imagination is concrete, and so measurable through science, this is how we discover the universe. Unless we are arguing that the 'spiritual realm' is within our imaginations (i.e. is an abstract concept, rather than a concrete 'thing'), then science precludes this 'realm' from existing in the universe.

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them."  - J. Robert Oppenheimer; Scientific Director; The Manhattan Project

"talking bull**** is not a victimless crime" - Marina Hyde, author.

#11    Viral

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 08:44 PM

I personally feel that clashes between Atheists and Theists tend to more center around Theist's abuse of religion as justification for any slack-jawed belief they choose to construct. Be it homophobic, creationistic, etc... The problem is that Atheists are far too quick to not just see these are people that would find any excuse for these behaviours and they're far more socially grounded than religious, the same goes for religion. I personally believe that the social construct of religion is almost all we're left with in Western countries, the level of cherry-picking and lack of reading the material has left us where saying one is a 'Christian' is more-or-less the same as 'Atheist' as it's likely the two have no issue beyond God, they both behave, act and treat others the same way. I know many, many Christians and they are good friends of mine, sometimes we debate God but only jovially, one even took me on a pilgrimage with her. I have no issue with Christians by-and-large however I take issue with social positions held with many Christians who believe there book to be justification for any number of ridiculous ideas.

That is when Atheists and Theists clash the most, in discussions wherein religion or anti-religion is used in matters scientific, somewhere they don't honestly belong. Atheistic principles when it comes to homophobia (for instance) are based on logic and reasoning, there is nothing wrong with homosexuality and as far as the validity of it as genetic is contended the alternate option of it being psychological (and in turn, heterosexuality being psychological) does not give reason to distinguish and impede their rights. On the other hand somereligious people take what they think they know of the bible and what their pastor says as law and wont budge even in the face of contrary proof. This leads to Atheists having very negative opinions of Theists and it's purely due to the fact that one does not argue with logical and reasoned theists, only those who hold alternative viewpoints.

It's a simple case of tarring all theists with the same brush.

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#12    Vatic

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 08:54 PM

View PostLeonardo, on 06 June 2012 - 07:24 PM, said:

It's a good read, Ludwik.

I agree that the realms of science and theism do not overlap. However, I do not get the impression that much of the disagreement between atheists and theists stems from science, although certainly some does. It has been my experience that most of the more heated disagreement derives from the different approaches to applying Law to society.


I have to agree with you Leonardo. Science vs. Religion is this big strawman thing that doesn't face the real issue. My experiences in the debates has led me to conclude it is a matter of applying Law as well. I'll get even more specific. When I encounter atheist and we discourse a long time and get past all the strawman issues, I have consistently found that at the root of their objections to religion is really about sexual prohibitions. The other aspects of the debate end up being facades on the part of atheist proponanants. You strip away at the facades and you end up with a person who has a burr under their saddle about religion being against their pet sexual agenda. This may sound too simple, but I have consistently found that it distills down to this. It is religion vis a vis social law.

It's kind of a revelation to not find an intellectual foundation atheism that can stand upon. For all the pretense and bluster, the sophistry only frustrates the simple. But by not allowing atheist to lead the topic around in circles, and to focus on any point with tanacity, the atheist intellectual facade just crumbles and you find the real agenda was about sex all along.

Edited by Vatic, 10 June 2012 - 09:18 PM.


#13    Leonardo

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 09:12 PM

View PostVatic, on 10 June 2012 - 08:54 PM, said:

It's kind of a revelation to not find an intellectual foundation atheism that can stand upon. For all the pretense and bluster, the sophistry only frustrates the simple. But by not allowing atheist to lead the topic around in circles, and to focus on any point with tanacity, the atheist intellectual facade just crumbles and you find the real agenda was about sex all along.

It's common that people confuse, or associate, science with atheism. I understand why, given there is no room in science for 'matters spiritual' and, as science is our tool for discovering the universe, the supernatural is excluded from being part of 'our universe' by science.

However, atheism is a belief regarding the supernatural (at least, the divine aspect of the supernatural) whereas in science, anything involving discussion of 'the supernatural' is simply irrelevant.

To your point on the clash in Law being based in sexual mores, however. I am not in total agreement on that. There are many cultural/societal aspects where religious law and secular law clash, and sexual mores are just one of those areas. We also have; the definition of human life; freedom of personal lifestyle; moral and ethical relativity vs absolutism; freedom of religion; dietary law; equality law; to name a few.

In the book of life, the answers aren't in the back. - Charlie Brown

"It is a profound and necessary truth that the deep things in science are not found because they are useful; they are found because it was possible to find them."  - J. Robert Oppenheimer; Scientific Director; The Manhattan Project

"talking bull**** is not a victimless crime" - Marina Hyde, author.

#14    markdohle

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Posted 10 June 2012 - 09:48 PM

View PostLudwik, on 06 June 2012 - 06:00 PM, said:


My theist-atheist article appears in the April 2012 Issue of

American Atheist Magazine. The link is:


http://csam.montclai...eo/atheist.html


Comments will be appreciated.


Ludwik Kowalski (see Wikipedia)

I must admit I was surprised by your post, well done, thoughtful.

peace
mark


#15    libstaK

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Posted 11 June 2012 - 12:27 AM

View PostLeonardo, on 10 June 2012 - 08:27 PM, said:

And if we can 'see', through science, the activity that happens in the brain when people report being in a 'spiritual state', then who is to say there is anything more to that 'spiritual state' than brain activity? Couple this with psychology, and there is no reasonable cause to claim religiousity/spirituality happens anywhere except in our brains.

This is where science and religion (and spirituality) clashes. People claim there is more to the religious/spiritual experience than brain activity. Science, of course, cannot measure peoples beliefs - but add psychology into the mix and we have an explanation that contradicts the thousands of years of cultural conditioning.

There are, of course, 'real things' that exist, yet are not measurable by scientific enquiry. Abstracts such as Law, Art, Philosophy, etc. While these things are 'real' and exist in a sense, they are entirely products of our imaginations. Everything that doesn't exist in our imagination is concrete, and so measurable through science, this is how we discover the universe. Unless we are arguing that the 'spiritual realm' is within our imaginations (i.e. is an abstract concept, rather than a concrete 'thing'), then science precludes this 'realm' from existing in the universe.
We have theories from science and psychologists NOT explanations, Leonardo.  You ask how can we know there is more to the spiritual state than "brain activity"?  Brain activity is an indicator that something is going on not WHAT is going on.  I already explained that personal evidence is the only means by which one can truly know what that brain activity denotes is occurring.

You are locked into material explanations and posits about what is going on here due to a lack of experience in the arena that is perfectly understandable.  It does not, however, provide a position from which to comprehend what is going on in this sphere.  Psychology, like science seeks a "mechanical mind" type universal explanation for human experiences, it groups them and labels them but not from a position of experiential data just 3rd party observer data, it is hardly a definitive area of science and it's capacity to do real harm to the mental conditions of it's patients precedes it abundantly - not unlike many "dogmas".

As advised, no "mechanical" discussion or debate of words can offer the explanation - every word/idea has it's refutable opposite, personal experience for those that have taken the journey is what provides the evidence.  I truly believe this "inadequacy to explain" is there for a very good reason, the "intellectualisation" of the spiritual experience is intrinsically counter to it's purpose and nature.

"I warn you, whoever you are, oh you who wish to probe the arcanes of nature, if you do not find within yourself that which you seek, neither shall you find it outside.
If you ignore the excellencies of your own house, how do you intend to find other excellencies?
In you is hidden the treasure of treasures, Oh man, know thyself and you shall know the Universe and the Gods."

Inscription - Temple of Delphi




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