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onlookerofmayhem

Ask an Atheist.

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eight bits
4 minutes ago, onlookerofmayhem said:

OP as in me? Or whom @Imaginarynumber1 was talking to?

Yes, as in you, but IN1 raised the issue of meaning directly in his conversation with Eon, so he was the one I quoted. Plus, I don't think IN1 lives anywhere near the "quad point" :P but you might, for all I know.

7 minutes ago, onlookerofmayhem said:

I'd like to be as clear and unfuzzy as possible. So if you are referring to me, is there anything I can do to clarify myself?

Probably not. There's an inherent fuzziness in all useful categories, the "borderline" cases that are hard because there is no line. plus even away from the borders, people can be subtler than categories.

The proverb says there is no arguing about definitions (no doubt said by somebody who never visited an internet forum), but what that means is people accept a definition for whatever purpose or walk away. The purpose of this thread is Q&A and you have defined the scope of the questions you're willing to field.

You've been clear about that, no worries. Like everybody else in the thread, I accept your definition for the Q&A purpose, but neither I nor anybody else need accept its connection with the term atheism for other purposes, like describing their own beliefs.

Speaking of Q&A, and since I don't know this about you, and regardless of whether or not it is a "defintion of atheism":

Do you personally believe there is no god, and if so with what level of confidence?

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Solipsi Rai
1 hour ago, onlookerofmayhem said:

@Solipsi Rai

Thanks for the questions.

I'm not a physicist, so I'm afraid my answer might be lacking. 

As far as I can tell that is a simpler answer than attributing the cause of the beginning to a deity. 

There is the issue of infinite regression. 

Did the universe actually start or has there always been something, in one form or another?

I'm open to anything that can be evidenced by science/scientists. Though I'm not sure how they would go about proving the causing force to be an outside entity. 

I watch 1970s-80s "In Search of" documentaries and 2010s "Ancient Aliens" on the History Channel with their theories of space aliens created humanity and the universe, therefore ALIENS! could be gods, but the likes of scientist Erich Von Daniken tends to give out theories that are disrespectful to religions and accomplishments of non-European civilizations, indigenous peoples and different cultures, he claims Aliens made these things (i.e. not the Celts in Britain, the Inca in the Andes and Ancient Egypt or China), not the very people themselves.

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and then
3 hours ago, Imaginarynumber1 said:

If it works for them, so be it.

Couldn't have expressed it better myself.  EVERYONE should have the freedom to choose and to not be vilified or punished for their choice.  Same for Atheists as for people of faith.

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danydandan

@Imaginarynumber1 & @Eon

The default position is ignorance, isn't it, especially if you are taking a position from birth?

Everything else is then a belief based on consideration, regardless of your stance on the topic.

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danydandan
4 hours ago, onlookerofmayhem said:

Instead of the usual meandering threads I wanted to created something a bit more straightforward. 

Ask me any question(s) regarding atheism and I will reply with as concise an answer as I possibly can.

That being said, all answers will be from my perspective since I don't contend to speak for all atheists.

To preemptively clarify, my definition/usage of atheist is :

One who is absent of the belief in the existence of any deities. 

I look forward to your questions.

Thank you in advance for staying on topic and focusing on the questions and answers as opposed to the rabbit holes some of the questions or answers may lead down.

Do you have a background in science or have you had any critical thinking training?

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psyche101
4 hours ago, Eon said:

no proof to either side to either existence or non-existence, it's unknown, the agnostic mindset

What they are pointing out to you is an infant isn't born with a concept of God. That's usually chosen for them by parents. Islam, Christianity, Hindu, whatever. Parent often remove that choice (if one chooses to believe in a god or not at all) before one has the ability to make it. An infant can't believe in God basically. That information isn't there to evaluate at birth. It's indoctrinated at a later state. As such, they are by default atheist. It's just a short lived state.

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Mr Walker
4 hours ago, Imaginarynumber1 said:

Agnosticism implys consideration. Do you really think an infant give a **** about the christian god?

I ignored your first comment but basically you have restated it again;  and it is absolutely false . 

We KNOW from research that the default position of the human mind (once it begins to process data and think,)    especially in children, who lack knowledge and experience, is belief 

Belief is the evolved default position which belter ensures human survival 

(I wont go into detail but a little research by you will confirm this )

The nature or form of belief may be influenced by others once a child has the language skills to learn form others, so in a christian society a child is likely to be  christian.

BUT, before the child can learn beliefs from others, it is already constructing quite complex ones in its own mind to explain the things it is observing.

  Children identify agents of change,  and attribute purpose to them from observation  of the world around them Thus, to them, everything is caused by  self   directed agents ( like a human being but sometimes "invisible" to the child 

The proof of this is that children of atheists  just as often  create beliefs like those of theists.

Parenting makes no difference initially, although it can influence the child as it develops language skills, and learns the beliefs  of those around it   

This explains why less than10% of modern humans, including well educated western ones, are atheists.

All the rest have a belief in something bigger than themselves or spiritual rather than material 

The experts agree that this is BECAUSE we have an evolved predisposition to/  default position of , belief,  which is very hard to overcome 

 

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danydandan
5 minutes ago, psyche101 said:

What they are pointing out to you is an infant isn't born with a concept of God. That's usually chosen for them by parents. Islam, Christianity, Hindu, whatever. Parent often remove that choice (if one chooses to believe in a god or not at all) before one has the ability to make it. An infant can't believe in God basically. That information isn't there to evaluate at birth. It's indoctrinated at a later state. As such, they are by default atheist. It's just a short lived state.

I think I disagree, I do not know if that can be described as Atheism.

I think being an Atheist, like every other belief, is a choice. The the stance of an infant is just ignorance, maybe? They do not have the information to make such a choice. 

Edited by danydandan
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psyche101
3 hours ago, Orphalesion said:

Do you think there was ever a time in the last 2000+ years when the majority of people sincerely held unquestioning religious faith, or do you think people are just more outspoken about religious scepticism these days because the social stigma (let alone any sort of persecution or inquisition) associated with atheism is rapidly disappearing? 

More that we have more knowledge and the internet spreads it. There are better answers that we have seen in nature than the man made philosophies regarding life the universe and everything. Science is basically a report of what we observe in nature. Religion is man made philosophy. 

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Mr Walker
5 hours ago, onlookerofmayhem said:

Instead of the usual meandering threads I wanted to created something a bit more straightforward. 

Ask me any question(s) regarding atheism and I will reply with as concise an answer as I possibly can.

That being said, all answers will be from my perspective since I don't contend to speak for all atheists.

To preemptively clarify, my definition/usage of atheist is :

One who is absent of the belief in the existence of any deities. 

I look forward to your questions.

Thank you in advance for staying on topic and focusing on the questions and answers as opposed to the rabbit holes some of the questions or answers may lead down.

My question is this 

For you, is atheism a conscious structured disbelief in gods OR  a simple lack of belief?

 (if the latter  how do you think a human mind can ever really never think about, form the question,   or form a belief/disbelief in gods) 

Your op suggests absence is enough, but that makes a rock an atheist or a dog an atheist  (as the y both   are absent a belief in deities)

IMO only humans can be theists and atheists, and it requires a conscious choice  to be either 

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psyche101
11 minutes ago, danydandan said:

I think I disagree, I do not know if that can be described as Atheism.

I think being an Atheist, like every other belief, is a choice. The the stance of an infant is just ignorance, maybe? They do not have the information to make such a choice. 

We also don't have the information to consider a god concept. 

Well to be agnostic toward anything, one has to be introduced to said concept to consider it at all. I can't see how a newborn isn't athiest by definition. I.E. no belief in a god. When the concept is introduced, is when I think agnosticism would become an option. Human hardship had had a lot to do with the adherence to religion. I'm just not sure today's world need a God so to speak. 

 

ETA it's ignorance for sure, I'd agree with that, but that's what makes it atheism. We have to offer a concept to allow that decision to exist at all. 

Edited by psyche101
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Mr Walker
5 minutes ago, psyche101 said:

We also don't have the information to consider a god concept. 

Well to be agnostic toward anything, one has to be introduced to said concept to consider it at all. I can't see how a newborn isn't athiest by definition. I.E. no belief in a god. When the concept is introduced, is when I think agnosticism would become an option. Human hardship had had a lot to do with the adherence to religion. I'm just not sure today's world need a God so to speak. 

Nup 

atheism is NOT simply the absence of belief.  it is a disbelief in the presence of gods  

quote 

“Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/

So of course new born children lack any real cognitive abilty, but  tha t doesn't make them atheists, any more than a dog or a rock  is an atheist 

To be an atheist you MUST have decided there are no gods 

Children initially all decide there  are lots of "gods,"  and only get the information to decide there may not be, as they get older 

Yes there is debate  about this, known as implicit vs explicit atheism. 

but when/if we are speaking about a belief construct like theism, then only a conflicting construct can be atheism, not the absence of any construct a t all ,

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psyche101
Just now, Mr Walker said:

Nup 

atheism is NOT simply the absence of belief.  it is a disbelief in the presence of gods  

quote 

“Atheism” is typically defined in terms of “theism”. Theism, in turn, is best understood as a proposition—something that is either true or false. It is often defined as “the belief that God exists”, but here “belief” means “something believed”. It refers to the propositional content of belief, not to the attitude or psychological state of believing. This is why it makes sense to say that theism is true or false and to argue for or against theism. If, however, “atheism” is defined in terms of theism and theism is the proposition that God exists and not the psychological condition of believing that there is a God, then it follows that atheism is not the absence of the psychological condition of believing that God exists (more on this below). The “a-” in “atheism” must be understood as negation instead of absence, as “not” instead of “without”. Therefore, in philosophy at least, atheism should be construed as the proposition that God does not exist (or, more broadly, the proposition that there are no gods).

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheism-agnosticism/

So of course new born children lack any real cognitive abilty, but  tha t doesn't make them atheists, any more than a dog or a rock  is an atheist 

To be an atheist you MUST have decided there are no gods 

Children initially all decide there  are lots of "gods,"  and only get the information to decide there may not be, as they get older 

Yes there is debate  about this, known as implicit vs explicit atheism. 

but when/if we are speaking about a belief construct like theism, then only a conflicting construct can be atheism, not the absence of any construct a t all ,

Why do you think I would respond to you, or why do you think anyone will care what you think?

There's an unexplained mystery deserving of this site. You should start a thread on it! 

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Mr Walker
6 minutes ago, psyche101 said:

Why do you think I would respond to you, or why do you think anyone will care what you think?

There's an unexplained mystery deserving of this site. You should start a thread on it! 

Oh dear, no need to feel inadequate .   Either refute me or ignore me.

who cares :)

 ps here is a free dictionary definition just for you .  

 

atheism

[ ey-thee-iz-uhm ]SHOW IPA

SEE SYNONYMS FOR atheism ON THESAURUS.COM

noun

the doctrine or belief that there is no God.

disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Note that disbelief is NOT a lack of belief  or an absence of belief.  It is a positive belief position  that gods do not exist :) 

 

There is another reason why babies can't be atheists or agnostics. Everything we know from science shows that supernaturalism comes naturally to children. It is not just that they believe much of what their parents and the surrounding societies tell them: they show a preference for remembering and transmitting stories that defy scientific rationality. So do we all, unless we train ourselves out of it.

To reach the state where you can really reflect critically on your own beliefs – rather than simply understanding that your parents are deluded old fools – takes a long time if it ever happens at all. As Bertrand Russell observed, many people would rather die than think and most of them do. And that is why no one can really be called an atheist or an agnostic until they have grown up.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jun/12/atheist-baby-richard-dawkins-babies-atheism

 

Edited by Mr Walker

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Horta
4 hours ago, Eon said:

what does agnostic mean then?

It means to be without knowledge (of god in this instance). All atheists are agnostic, many believers are to. It was common in the ancient pagan world to believe in gods, while also believing knowledge of them was forbidden to humans. This is agnostic.

Agnosticism pertains to knowledge, not belief.

It has been used (correctly) by various scientists, who aren't so much interested in belief as knowledge, to state their position on god. Usually it's used this way to explain they have no knowledge indicating the existence of a god, nor do they have any knowledge indicating non existence. Thus they haven't formed an opinion.

Though as others have correctly pointed out, the same thing applies to leprechauns. 

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psyche101
5 minutes ago, Mr Walker said:

Oh dear, no need to feel inadequate .   Either refute me or ignore me.

who cares :)

 ps here is a free dictionary definition just for you .  

 

atheism

[ ey-thee-iz-uhm ]SHOW IPA

SEE SYNONYMS FOR atheism ON THESAURUS.COM

noun

the doctrine or belief that there is no God.

disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Note that disbelief is NOT a lack of belief  or an absence of belief.  It is a positive belief position  that gods do not exist :) 

I don't like you. You're a dishonest poster and I've already explained that you have lost the privilege of discussion with me. 

No go back to pooping on chessboard's. Or start that thread as I suggested. 

Bye now! 

Edited by psyche101
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Mr Walker
3 minutes ago, Horta said:

It means to be without knowledge (of god in this instance). All atheists are agnostic, many believers are to. It was common in the ancient pagan world to believe in gods, while also believing knowledge of them was forbidden to humans. This is agnostic.

Agnosticism pertains to knowledge, not belief.

It has been used (correctly) by various scientists, who aren't so much interested in belief as knowledge, to state their position on god. Usually it's used this way to explain they have no knowledge indicating the existence of a god, nor do they have any knowledge indicating non existence. Thus they haven't formed an opinion.

Though as others have correctly pointed out, the same thing applies to leprechauns. 

Interesting and highly unusual perspective 

Basically, to me, agnosticism is the conscious choice to suspend both belief and disbelief ie to construct neither form  of belief position, but to say " I dont know, and I will wait until i do know , rather  than choose between belief and disbelief when i have no/inadequate evidences 

 So some  of what you say is correct but atheists have a positive disbelief in the existence of gods and theists have a positive belief in the existence of gods.

  So no, they cant be agnostic 

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Mr Walker
4 hours ago, Imaginarynumber1 said:

An agnostic is someone who believes there is not enough evidence one way or another to make a judgement on the belief of a god(s).

People are not born with the concept of a god(s). It is taught. 

No it is learned from  internal cognitive process.  Our minds evolved this tendency /predisposition because,  when combined with similar cognitive predispositions, it promoted survival, thus those who believed propagated and prospered.  Those who did not, died out 

Once a species reaches a certain level of self  aware consciousness, it begins asking questions, to which the only available answers  are the ones  it's mind makes up for it.

  And thus beliefs, and later, religions began.

Children of atheist parents demonstrate identical belief formation to those of theists, until the y are old enough to be influenced by their parents. 

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Horta
1 minute ago, Mr Walker said:

 

 So some  of what you say is correct but atheists have a positive disbelief in the existence of gods and theists have a positive belief in the existence of gods.

I consider myself an atheist. Yet I would never claim a belief that there are no gods. Thats logically absurd IMO.

Though there are some versions of god which appear obviously human made myths. It's worth noting that believers (such as christians) who worship their own "one true god" do the very same thing to countless versions of god themselves.

So I would think that your version of atheism might be true for some atheists. But it doesn't define the word, and I imagine it would be rare. I view that as anti-theism.

There are many possible versions of god. Someone running a simulation, some form of advanced intelligence...who knows? So I can't and certainly don't discount the possibility that something that could be described as a "god" exists. I see no reason as yet to believe it does though.

 

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Orphalesion
3 hours ago, psyche101 said:

More that we have more knowledge and the internet spreads it. There are better answers that we have seen in nature than the man made philosophies regarding life the universe and everything. Science is basically a report of what we observe in nature. Religion is man made philosophy. 

My question was stirred mostly by things like Dante using parts of the Devine Comedy to justify/defend faith and dispense copious amounts of Apologetics (especially during part of his conversations in the Empyrean iirc), Medieval Bestiaries latching onto the Salamander as "proof" that souls could stay intact forever in the fire of damnation,  or that there were punishments for turning from the gods in Ancient Greece. It seems to me those things would have been unnecessary if there hadn't always been critics of religion. 

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XenoFish

Atheism: No god/s

Theism: Is a god/s

Agnosticism: I don't know if there is/n't a god.

Ignosticism: The question of god/s existence is meaningless.

Apatheism: Meh.

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RAyMO

as an atheist do you believe in an afterlife?

If you don't, do you believe this short life is it?

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RAyMO

If you don't believe in a god - where do you believe we should take our moral direction from, if anywhere. 

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RAyMO
4 hours ago, and then said:

Couldn't have expressed it better myself.  EVERYONE should have the freedom to choose and to not be vilified or punished for their choice.  Same for Atheists as for people of faith.

There you @and thensomething we can 100% agree on. 

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joc
9 hours ago, Imaginarynumber1 said:

Atheism is the default position of humanity. Some have chosen to believe in fairy tales. If it works for them, so be it. 

Actually that is not true.  The default position of humanity is to believe in Deities.  This can be rather simply illustrated by the high number of humans who believe in Deities in every place on Earth where Humans are found.  From the Congo to the shores of the Gitche Gumee...in every single civilization humans through out the span of our entire existence have defaulted to a belief in Deities.  No doubt because the evolutionary neocortex created questions beyond the experience of the earliest humans.  The answers to these questions by practically all was...Deity!   It has been the default position for so long it is in our dna memory.  To be an atheist one has to intellectually conclude by some sort of thought process that there are no Deities.

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