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I Don't Understand This Atheist Vs. Religion Argument

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Tck13, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. Tck13

    Tck13 Well-Known Member

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    I'm curious about the comparison between what "damage" has been done by the Religious and Religion compared to what has been done by Atheists throughout history. I am wondering if some could share some light on this argument? The argument by theists or creationists always seems to be that Pol Pot, Stalin, etc... have done more damage in the name of Atheism. Atheists point the finger at the Crusades, Inquisition, Aztec Rituals, etc. and say that Religion has been the cause of more damage / deaths. This is way to simplistic and doesn't make any sense to me and I'm not even sure that all of these things are even comparable. I'm not even sure really what the argument is. I guess that's what I'm trying to figure out. Does it just boil down to human nature using a vehicle for insanity, disturbing philosophies, destruction, etc.? It's also hard to pin Atheism since it's not a philosophy. As I said, I'm confused. Here's an example of what I'm trying to say. It's Dawkins on Bill O'reilly's show a year or two ago. What I'm talking about starts at 3:00.
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  2. Gibonius

    Gibonius Well-Known Member

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    Dawkins is deliberately inflammatory, just gets his name out there so people will buy his books. I doubt he really believes the level of rhetoric he spews, he's basically a real life troll who sells books. I wouldn't think too much about it beyond that.

    Most of the atheists online who spout that type of rhetoric are just angry about their religious upbringing and are trying to find ways to justify their angry after the fact. If you came to your atheism through a reasoned process, rather than anger, there's really no reason to go attacking religion. It won't accomplish anything.

    Really it's a stupid "debate" from both sides, and fairly few rational atheists would indulge in it. The religious side is basically trying to discredit atheism, but they're speaking only to a religious audience.
     
  3. Lord-Barrington

    Lord-Barrington Well-Known Member

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    If a debate is populated by morons and blowhards on both sides, it's usually a good indication that you shouldn't pay it much mind.
     
  4. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Well-Known Member

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    For the love of God, or his absence, please don't start this debate again.
     
  5. suited

    suited Well-Known Member

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    In the history of the internet there hasn't been one person converted to the other side on the issue of religion, politics or gun control.
     
  6. Tck13

    Tck13 Well-Known Member

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    I knew this was a stupid idea.
     
  7. Jekyll

    Jekyll Well-Known Member

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    Polarization.
    If a debate is populated by morons and blowhards on both sides, it's usually a good indication that you shouldn't pay it much mind.
    Well...the thing is, these conflicts by their very nature have the ability to turn a perfectly reasonable human into a moronic blowhard. [​IMG]
     
  8. tagutcow

    tagutcow Well-Known Member

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    Argument through ad hominem is unpersuasive anyway. Even if it could be proven that religion is universally harmful, this wouldn't convince believers that God doesn't exist, and even if it could be proven that religion is universally beneficial, it wouldn't convince atheists that He does. So the entire issue of the alleged harm/benefit of atheism/religion is contingent and secondary to begin with.
     
  9. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Well-Known Member

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    Argument through ad hominem is unpersuasive anyway. Even if it could be proven that religion is universally harmful, this wouldn't convince believers that God doesn't exist, and even if it could be proven that religion is universally beneficial, it wouldn't convince atheists that He does. So the entire issue of the alleged harm/benefit of atheism/religion is contingent and secondary to begin with.

    It's not just secondary, but it distracts from the real argument (belief vs. nonbelief, or whatever words we want to use to characterize the sides of the discussion). The question of whether religion is net-harmful or net-helpful (or even net-necessary or net-inevitable) does not hinge on whether religion is true or false, and as such, should really be treated as a separate discussion altogether. Unfortunately, 99% of people -- including some very smart people -- tend to conflate the two topics: some by accident and some by design.
     
  10. Master-Classter

    Master-Classter Well-Known Member

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    ^^^ yes, conflation is the right term. The point of that particular argument is to answer the question, ultimately would we as a civilization/society be better off or worse as a result of following one of these philosophies. The question that's also being addressed is which philosophy is "better" morally. Ie theists tend to believe that morality was explained by religion / given by god, so if someone doesn't believe in god then they don't have morals. The atheists believe that morality (as well as religion) are man made anyway, we've always known and had a sense for these ideas, and it simple makes more rational sense to follow those rules instead of doing it for a reason like 'because god said so'. you also have to deal with teh consequences in real life instead of just confessing your way out of it. Why it doesn't make sense as a point to argue is that as Dawkins points out, what makes for a nice happy world isn't actually the point of this process. The point is to understand what the 'truth' is about the nature and purpose of life. Now we may decide as a social group to adhere to certain principles/laws, but we do it for a practical reason, not for an imaginary one, and we also recognize that it may or not be relevant to the truth. For example, maybe there is no purpose to our existance. we can still choose to be happy and live together though. And, even within that argument, it doesn't really yield meaningful results. As Dawkins points out, it's not like any Atheists in history were actually acting that way because they were atheists, they're just people doing what people do. now we could also make the same case for the bad historical eventy committed by religious groups, but i don't actually buy it. I think people went out and converted or killed. I also want to point out that atheism is a relatively new school of thought, so it's not like they've had a while to go out and convert or kill people based on what they believe.
     
  11. otc

    otc Well-Known Member

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    lolz

    It is comical that Billy puts up the title "Athiest" under his name. I would imagine every other news network would stick with "author" or one of his professorial qualifications...
     
  12. Tck13

    Tck13 Well-Known Member

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    ^^^ yes, conflation is the right term. The point of that particular argument is to answer the question, ultimately would we as a civilization/society be better off or worse as a result of following one of these philosophies.


    The question that's also being addressed is which philosophy is "better" morally. Ie theists tend to believe that morality was explained by religion / given by god, so if someone doesn't believe in god then they don't have morals. The atheists believe that morality (as well as religion) are man made anyway, we've always known and had a sense for these ideas, and it simple makes more rational sense to follow those rules instead of doing it for a reason like 'because god said so'. you also have to deal with teh consequences in real life instead of just confessing your way out of it.

    Why it doesn't make sense as a point to argue is that as Dawkins points out, what makes for a nice happy world isn't actually the point of this process. The point is to understand what the 'truth' is about the nature and purpose of life. Now we may decide as a social group to adhere to certain principles/laws, but we do it for a practical reason, not for an imaginary one, and we also recognize that it may or not be relevant to the truth. For example, maybe there is no purpose to our existance. we can still choose to be happy and live together though.

    And, even within that argument, it doesn't really yield meaningful results. As Dawkins points out, it's not like any Atheists in history were actually acting that way because they were atheists, they're just people doing what people do. now we could also make the same case for the bad historical eventy committed by religious groups, but i don't actually buy it. I think people went out and converted or killed. I also want to point out that atheism is a relatively new school of thought, so it's not like they've had a while to go out and convert or kill people based on what they believe.


    Thanks for your post.
     
  13. scientific

    scientific Well-Known Member

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    it's ok, god believes in you
     
  14. tagutcow

    tagutcow Well-Known Member

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    ^^^ yes, conflation is the right term. The point of that particular argument is to answer the question, ultimately would we as a civilization/society be better off or worse as a result of following one of these philosophies.

    The question that's also being addressed is which philosophy is "better" morally. Ie theists tend to believe that morality was explained by religion / given by god, so if someone doesn't believe in god then they don't have morals. The atheists believe that morality (as well as religion) are man made anyway, we've always known and had a sense for these ideas, and it simple makes more rational sense to follow those rules instead of doing it for a reason like 'because god said so'. you also have to deal with teh consequences in real life instead of just confessing your way out of it.


    Here's another error. Atheists, by definition, don't really have to believe anything, whether it's naturalism, rashunalitee, !!!SCYUNCE!!, or gauzy humanistic formulations about the inherent goodness of mankind (geez, how much empirical evidence to the contrary do you need?) All an atheist need do to qualify as an atheist is not believe-- more to the point, to not believe in God. That's it.

    An atheist doesn't even need to disbelieve in the supernatural. More Britons believe in ghosts than in God, so obviously there's a disunion between the sets of atheists and scientific naturalists. When atheists talk about atheists, they're usually bringing in a set of implicit assumptions that need to be unpacked separately.

    But yes, any flattering self-perceptions of the adherents of a belief system are built to be knocked down. Just as it's easy to find evidence of Christians acting in an un-Christian manner, it is easy to find evidence of atheists behaving in a manner that would confute their putative claim to rationality. Of course, everyone can then take refuge in their own version of the No True Scotsman fallacy (see: "The USSR was really a religion!" &c. &c. &c.)

    Again, atheism isn't a school of thought, although you identify sub-groups of atheism that are schools of thought. Most InternetzAtheistsâ„¢, for instance, seem to by singing from the same hymnal, and I wouldn't put any form of hysteria past them.
     
  15. Tck13

    Tck13 Well-Known Member

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    it's ok, god believes in you

    [​IMG]

    I feel warm and fuzzy now...
     
  16. Tck13

    Tck13 Well-Known Member

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    I was going to write what I thought a good answer was to my original question but I just found this and it'll be much less work to post it...

    Link

     
  17. tagutcow

    tagutcow Well-Known Member

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    Surprisingly even-handed. Still, it's pretty much impossible to draw a straight line from a person's beliefs to their actions, or to determine at what level the corrupting influence exists (i.e. whatever influence religion had on the Salem witch trials, there's nothing vaguely approaching an instruction to burn witches in the Bible, and every instruction not to kill.)

    Instead of arguing morality from what is instructed by a belief system, one could also argue from what is not forbidden; say, the absence of an absolute moral authority allows atheists to behave immorally.

    BTW, "witch" is a very difficult word for me to type, apparently. [​IMG]
     
  18. nootje

    nootje Well-Known Member

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    So the above basically says that in the absence of a system of morality based on religion, the aforementioned "atheist" states/groupes were just acting( without any system of moral values)..

    Problem is, removing any set of values from society will leave a void to fill. And that void will allways have to be filled, because perhaps all of us are not ready yet to define whats good and bad without a convenient carrier (story/system).


    sorry, need at least two more coffee's to get a coherent strain of thought on this subject.
     
  19. Blackfyre

    Blackfyre Well-Known Member

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    For me its simple, I dont believe in a god, I do believe that there are religions which are harmful, and dangerous. I feel that the world might be better without them. Unlike Dawkins though, I dont consider myself a militant atheist. I have my beliefs and if someone asks I'll share them, but I'm not going to go out of my way to convince someone of their erroneous and foolish ways. It's not that serious to me.
     
  20. Don Carlos

    Don Carlos Well-Known Member

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    So the above basically says that in the absence of a system of morality based on religion, the aforementioned "atheist" states/groupes were just acting( without any system of moral values.
    Moral values are social constructs -- whether you choose to believe they came from God, or that they emerged in response to the various pressures early civilization and agriculture placed upon a people who, after hundreds of thousands of years of cave dwelling, cannibalism, hunting, and gathering, moved into permanent or semi-permanent settlements in close proximity. Early villages and cities needed rules, obviously. And new technological developments led to even more new social systems and developments, which in turn led to more rules. The point is that people aren't acting "without any system of moral values" if they reject belief in divinely-granted morality. They're acting on largely the same moral values that believers are using. Those values have been with us, in one form or another, for tens of thousands of years. All that really changes is the rationale for them. Monotheists basically claim "We need to behave ourselves because we're accountable to God." Rationalists/humanists say "We need to behave ourselves because we're accountable to each other, and/or responsible for each other." Other breeds of atheist make various claims along various spectra of accountability. And then you have nihilists and such, who say nobody is technically accountable to anything; we're just behaving ourselves because it's convenient.
     

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