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Old 05-08-2013, 07:11 PM   #166
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This is the most interesting discussion produced in FYM in years. Really enjoying reading this. (This is sincere, by the way.)
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Seconded.
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It has been awhile since we've seen a discussion like this - one we can learn and share thoughts with each other.

Good to hear
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:17 PM   #167
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This discussion makes me think a lot about Christopher Hitchens and the difference between atheism and antitheism.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:23 PM   #168
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This discussion makes me think a lot about Christopher Hitchens and the difference between atheism and antitheism.
What are your thoughts?
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:37 PM   #169
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I can go into more detail when on a computer, but it's essentially about why his views on Iraq differed so greatly from those of most liberals. He was all for it. Why? Because it helped combat Islam. He was totally unconcerned with the hypocrisy of it or trying to appear understanding of the fact that most Islamic people were peaceful. He didn't care that people would think this was extolling the virtues of Christianity over Islam either. Anything that reduced the influence of religion was a good thing, in his eyes. I had never seen someone take that viewpoint before. It fascinated me then and still does.
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:50 PM   #170
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I didn't agree with his opinion on the war in Iraq, but it made me respect him more. He lost a lot of friends over that one, but I found it refreshing that he didn't feel the need to "act like a liberal". Taking a side on an issue shouldn't be predetermined by your perceived political leanings. I don't want to say it took a lot of guts, because I don't think he was interested in that or that it even occurred to him, but it was nice to see someone weighing an issue on its own merits in the face of outside pressure
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Old 05-08-2013, 08:57 PM   #171
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Oh no, I wouldn't accuse someone of being wacko for believing in god. My Nana isn't a wacko. Pretty sure my parents probably believe in god. I'm just questioning how objective she could be.

"where atheism came from" shouldn't be a thing. It's a natural state. It comes from being born

And I have a man crush on Sam Harris.
When you mentioned Dinesh D'Souza, I thought you were because that guy is a huge Obama conspiracy theorist.
And when I said "where atheism came from", I meant the idea of atheism. It may be a natural state, but history shows humans have always believed in God or gods. There were no godless tribes or kingdoms. Maybe a few individuals here and there, but atheism has become more common recently than 1,000 or 5,000 years ago.

I also want to say that I am more likely to listen to an atheist who believes humans have evolved away from the notion of God rather than one who thinks humans have been manipulated or stupid for millennia.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:19 PM   #172
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It may be a natural state, but history shows humans have always believed in God or gods. There were no godless tribes or kingdoms. Maybe a few individuals here and there, but atheism has become more common recently than 1,000 or 5,000 years ago.
I don't think this is accurate. Even if we take modern humans conservatively as 100,000 years old, you don't see distinct evidence of belief in divine beings until the fertility charms ("Venus Statuettes") of roughly 35,000 BCE. And you might say that even Neanderthals had burial ritual, but that does not necessarily mean they were "religious" or had a concept of divinity - rather just that they had developed social ritual. I think it could easily be argued that people were "atheists" far longer than they have been religious.
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Old 05-08-2013, 09:19 PM   #173
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When you mentioned Dinesh D'Souza, I thought you were because that guy is a huge Obama conspiracy theorist.
And when I said "where atheism came from", I meant the idea of atheism. It may be a natural state, but history shows humans have always believed in God or gods. There were no godless tribes or kingdoms. Maybe a few individuals here and there, but atheism has become more common recently than 1,000 or 5,000 years ago.

I also want to say that I am more likely to listen to an atheist who believes humans have evolved away from the notion of God rather than one who thinks humans have been manipulated or stupid for millennia.
I had no idea about D'Souza's Obama conspiracies. I've only ever watched him in long form debates on religion. I don't know how he keeps getting invited back.

I'd challenge your assertion that history shows humans have always believed in gods. I don't think Buddhists believe in a divine being, for one (correct me if I'm wrong...iYup?). But putting that aside, if you want to ask the question "where does atheism come from?" you certainly don't need to write a book about it. It comes from evidence. Facts. Proofs. It's more common now because humanity as a whole isn't as ignorant of the way things actually work; I don't think it's a big mystery. (and I think you're underestimating the 'few atheists here and there')

"Evolving" away from god doesn't really fit (unless you mean 'evolving' in the non biological sense). I'm sorry that you don't like my suggestion that religion pretty much has been a tool of manipulation, but.... well, I don't know. I can only tell you what I think. I didn't ever say stupid though. Stupidity is relative. If you were to run into someone from 2000 years ago and not know it, you'd probably think they were stupid; but they only had the knowledge of the time to lean on. They were most certainly ignorant to much of our current understanding of the world. Scientific progress gives us the freedom of skepticism and rational thought. Like it or not, there is a direct correlation between education and belief in god, both at a societal level and on a personal one
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:19 PM   #174
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I didn't agree with his opinion on the war in Iraq, but it made me respect him more. He lost a lot of friends over that one, but I found it refreshing that he didn't feel the need to "act like a liberal". Taking a side on an issue shouldn't be predetermined by your perceived political leanings. I don't want to say it took a lot of guts, because I don't think he was interested in that or that it even occurred to him, but it was nice to see someone weighing an issue on its own merits in the face of outside pressure
Most atheists are afraid of criticizing one religion more than others because they don't want to lend ammunition to those other religious people who think their own religion is better than other people's. At least in my view. Hitchens lacked that fear. By stating all religion is evil, he gave himself the ability to judge the levels of damage inflicted upon by each in a way many other nonreligious people would never dare.
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Old 05-08-2013, 10:25 PM   #175
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he gave himself the ability to judge the levels of damage inflicted upon by each in a way many other nonreligious people would never dare.
This. It's silly to think all religions are equal in terms of anything. Why would they be? By pure chance alone, one has to be more damaging than the others. That's why I don't get why some people get so uppity when it's mentioned. They can't rationally be saying they're all equal... I guess they think a different one is more violent? Of course they're really just saying "don't criticize religion"

My man crush catches a lot of heat and accusations of 'islamophobia' for the same reason. Too bad for them he's cool as a cucumber
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Old 05-08-2013, 11:22 PM   #176
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I'm not sure that was the issue people had, at least that's not the issue I had with it. My issue was with him calling that the 'purest' form of religion and everyone else was just watering it down. I think it's very difficult when an outsider claims with absolution the intent of texts when even scholars who have dedicated large chunks of their lives to understanding their religions don't even always agree on intents.
I agree with 'tis post
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:10 AM   #177
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I had no idea about D'Souza's Obama conspiracies. I've only ever watched him in long form debates on religion. I don't know how he keeps getting invited back.

I'd challenge your assertion that history shows humans have always believed in gods. I don't think Buddhists believe in a divine being, for one (correct me if I'm wrong...iYup?). But putting that aside, if you want to ask the question "where does atheism come from?" you certainly don't need to write a book about it. It comes from evidence. Facts. Proofs. It's more common now because humanity as a whole isn't as ignorant of the way things actually work; I don't think it's a big mystery. (and I think you're underestimating the 'few atheists here and there')

"Evolving" away from god doesn't really fit (unless you mean 'evolving' in the non biological sense). I'm sorry that you don't like my suggestion that religion pretty much has been a tool of manipulation, but.... well, I don't know. I can only tell you what I think. I didn't ever say stupid though. Stupidity is relative. If you were to run into someone from 2000 years ago and not know it, you'd probably think they were stupid; but they only had the knowledge of the time to lean on. They were most certainly ignorant to much of our current understanding of the world. Scientific progress gives us the freedom of skepticism and rational thought. Like it or not, there is a direct correlation between education and belief in god, both at a societal level and on a personal one
D'Souza released a documentary last year called "2016" where he claimed Obama was going to make himself dictator of America and install a communist state. A lot of Americans saw it and believe it. I bow my head in shame that I share my country with those people.

Anyway, I was really referring to recorded history. Who knows what the Neanderthals believed. As for Buddhists, its true they don't focus on God because the Buddha himself said it is too complex of an issue. But some Buddhists seem to think of the Buddha as divine, like the Tibetan Buddhists. I've been to a local Tibetan museum and the artwork there seemed to indicate that the Buddha was more than just an enlightened human being.

We will never know exactly how many atheist have existed throughout history. I know Plato and Socrates may considered atheists, but I've also heard they believed in a Supreme Being and souls. Even Hypathia believed that because she followed neo-Platonism which discussed the soul.

I do agree that religion has been used to manipulate populations, and it is sad to know something that had good intentions become a tool of evil. Meaning, when Christianity first began, it was attractive to the poor and the sick, but later became this political, condemning force that turned the world upside down. Honestly, I feel embarrassed knowing Christianity led to the Crusades, anti-Semitism and the anilihation of Native Americans.

I know you never said theists are stupid, but plenty of other atheists have. Heck, they even call theists mentally ill for believing in God. Yeah, that's a really intelligent comment And when I said evolved, yes I was referring in a non-biological sense and more of a mental/emotional sense. We're more aware of the mind these days than even 100 years ago, and we know someone who's had a manic episode is not possessed by the devil or someone who hears voices could be schizophrenic.

When you say educational, though, there are those with PhD who believe there is a God, though not in the Biblical sense. Those people will have a more "mature" view of God, as I like to put it. They don't see Him as an old man in the sky, but something more complex and even as an energy force. There was a book out some time ago that didn't get a lot of attention about how a neurologist thinks functions in the brain explain what God is. It came out 4 years ago, and I saw it in a bookstore but didn't buy it because I didn't have enough on me. Damn, if only I knew its title. Anyway, the author didn't write off theism as foolish or unintelligent, but agreed there must be something out there. I'm just saying you can believe in something and still be highly educated.

Google is your friend:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Spiritual-...pr_product_top

Here's another interesting book:
http://www.amazon.com/How-Changes-Yo...m_cr_pr_sims_t
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Old 05-09-2013, 12:39 AM   #178
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D'Souza released a documentary last year called "2016" where he claimed Obama was going to make himself dictator of America and install a communist state. A lot of Americans saw it and believe it. I bow my head in shame that I share my country with those people.

Anyway, I was really referring to recorded history. Who knows what the Neanderthals believed. As for Buddhists, its true they don't focus on God because the Buddha himself said it is too complex of an issue. But some Buddhists seem to think of the Buddha as divine, like the Tibetan Buddhists. I've been to a local Tibetan museum and the artwork there seemed to indicate that the Buddha was more than just an enlightened human being.

We will never know exactly how many atheist have existed throughout history. I know Plato and Socrates may considered atheists, but I've also heard they believed in a Supreme Being and souls. Even Hypathia believed that because she followed neo-Platonism which discussed the soul.

I do agree that religion has been used to manipulate populations, and it is sad to know something that had good intentions become a tool of evil. Meaning, when Christianity first began, it was attractive to the poor and the sick, but later became this political, condemning force that turned the world upside down. Honestly, I feel embarrassed knowing Christianity led to the Crusades, anti-Semitism and the anilihation of Native Americans.

I know you never said theists are stupid, but plenty of other atheists have. Heck, they even call theists mentally ill for believing in God. Yeah, that's a really intelligent comment And when I said evolved, yes I was referring in a non-biological sense and more of a mental/emotional sense. We're more aware of the mind these days than even 100 years ago, and we know someone who's had a manic episode is not possessed by the devil or someone who hears voices could be schizophrenic.

When you say educational, though, there are those with PhD who believe there is a God, though not in the Biblical sense. Those people will have a more "mature" view of God, as I like to put it. They don't see Him as an old man in the sky, but something more complex and even as an energy force. There was a book out some time ago that didn't get a lot of attention about how a neurologist thinks functions in the brain explain what God is. It came out 4 years ago, and I saw it in a bookstore but didn't buy it because I didn't have enough on me. Damn, if only I knew its title. Anyway, the author didn't write off theism as foolish or unintelligent, but agreed there must be something out there.
When I was talking about education vs belief in god, it's never going to be 100%. If I'm not mistaken, when you reach the 'upper echelon' of the scientific community, there are still about 15% that believe (some even in the biblical sense, I'm sure). But the correlation is definitely there. It really shows how hard wired belief is in some people (if it doesn't affect their work, I suppose it's irrelevant).

I think I also remember hearing something about that book. Can't remember much more about it though. Claims like that seem to me to be just more god-of-the-gaps type arguments though. I mean, the brain is arguably the most complex object in the known universe. Of course we don't know all there is to know about it and that makes it fertile ground for god mining. Brain processes once thought to be definitive proof of god can now be duplicated with magnetic field manipulation. Everything from strong feelings of the presence of a 'greater being' to near death type experiences can be induced artificially. I don't mean to just write off these claims, but it's almost predictable where they'll go next with 'proof' of god.
"Where are the 'transitional' fossils between these species?"
"Right here"
Well now there's two 'gaps' in the fossil record where there once was one

And I completely agree that it's a shame religion has taken on the role it has. I've always said, on a personal level, religion isn't necessarily a bad thing; and the personal level is almost certainly what the original intent for most religions was. I'd still argue you don't need it and there's always the potential of it holding you back, whether it be from experiences you might avoid or even from realizing the beauty of all the natural systems in the universe; there's so much wonder and so many 'holy shit' moments, free from supernatural causes that a lot of people in the world will never discover because they're afraid to look. But if that's how one chooses to live and it doesn't affect anyone else, who I am to say otherwise? The don't-affect-others bit is fairly key

I'm rambling a bit
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:51 AM   #179
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The concept of God is great! Especially the kind of God who only helps you out, never the one that is also responsible for the bad stuff (goes into mysterious ways then).

It's really pretty simple. I don't believe there is a God because there is zero evidence. Believers site their holy books as being true because....their holy books say it's true.

There has been zero evidence of any supernatural events, no bending of the laws of nature. ZERO. So yes, believers go off of faith, which by definition is believing in spite of evidence.

You can have your own opinions, but not your own facts.

I agree that religion can help people out, and if that's what you need to get by or feel good about yourself, then do it. Religion can also be used as a mask to hide your bigot feelings, or cast aside other groups of people.....or declare war against other nations.

That aspect needs to evolve. Most Christians have done so. Can you say the same about Muslims? Or is it more their extremists/fundamentalists are in power?

And last note on atheists, you were all born one. And if you believe in just one God, then you're just as atheistic about Zeus, Mithra, Allah, Venus, Jupitar, Thor, etc etc.

So while you believe in 1/3000 gods, I don't believe in any. I tell believers we have more in common than we don't
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:39 AM   #180
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I don't believe God helps me out.

Indeed I believe God is quite indifferent to me.
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