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Old 07-18-2008, 09:32 PM   #21
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Quote (Einstein):
I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.

Reminds me of how Jesus instructed "be like little children" when it comes to matters of faith. I'm trying to get there, but I've collected too much noise along the way. I figure that, if I am made by God, then he understands how this brain he gave me brought me to this doubtful point. I'm trying to make my way back. I just hope I don't croak before I figure it all out.
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Old 07-18-2008, 10:49 PM   #22
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Is the effort required to gain that simple faith worth it?

You don't need a belief in God to understand why things happen, how to live a good life or how to treat other people. If blind faith offends your critical faculties then go with what you know, appreciate the world as you can understand it, which can be perfectly fine, even humanistic, if you feel unbelief is the default state of your brain. If you have trouble believing don't make the mistake of thinking it's a problem with you, or get led down the road of having to "fix" something that needn't be a problem.

It may be that religious belief has fringe benefits, although I suspect it isn't so much the belief in God that helps as much as it is socialisation and support. To me those benefits are irrelevant to the validity of the claims that are being made; the absence of the supernatural, the fleshing out of the history of religions and the foundations of moral actions really does away with so much cause to believe. Evolution wipes away the teleological argument and the large scale issues of the first cause of the universe and the supposed fine tuning are open questions with a somewhat plausible anthropic argument.

God doesn't fit in the universe, as it is now known. It's unnecessary, and the concept just gets more removed from our day to day lives as more facts are uncovered.

I understand that a lot of people insist that God doesn't fulfill an explanatory role about the universe for them but what else is there? What other purpose does the abstract concept of a higher power serve?

If people need love then they should be around nice people, or take drugs. If it is a question of the spiritual experience I don't think it requires God. The very universalist line of there being many roads to God may just be a reflection that the human brain is susceptible to the spiritual experience for reasons of common biology. Stimulation, be it through a latin mass, a voodoo ceremony or looking through the Hubble telescope, provokes the same reaction. People find benefit from the experience even though it isn't specific to their faith.

I would be inclined to be in line with Einstein as he describes the only possible religious feeling he holds is awe towards comprehension of the universe. I would stipulate that feeling is a product of a material brain and has an evolutionary origin. A mechanism that can be triggered by thinking about ones place in the universe.

If through some process I came around to belief in God I think it would be a mirror of O'Brien in 1984, I would have to be capable of holding onto incompatible ideas simultaneously. I rationalised the fear of death at age seven by thinking what it was like before I was born; which is a decent enough marker to me of how I thought at that age. Being raised in an agnostic environment may have something to do with such materialistic thinking. That most of my relatives are also agnostics or atheists is an interesting quirk, although I would venture it is as much (if not more) social forces than biological (although the majority of cousins are pretty on the ball and there is a correlation between smarts and belief, or lack thereof, in that group). Comprehending why people believe is interesting, it has implications for human interactions as well as philosophical considerations. There is value in holding and justifying a position, even or perhaps especially when in the minority.
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:22 AM   #23
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Originally Posted by A_Wanderer View Post

It may not be that atheists are just smarter than other people, it may be that smart people have more trouble accepting religion and possibly spirituality (which is a separate issue).
Why couldn't this be the title of your thread?

You'll be surprised to know that my initial reaction to your thread was to agree. The cynic within me was happy to finally have something to scientifically one-up my church-going friends.

With a little bit more thought, though. I have to respectfully disagree. The title for this thread is a terrible fallacy because with the information given you've inferred in a completely oposite direction.

I know plenty of brilliant God-fearing people and I have no doubt in my mind that they believe and reason with that very same brain of theirs.

I think the reason most people who "are smart" don't believe is because most of these people rely on verifiable facts and what they've seen. With God, it's not so much knowledge as it is about faith.
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:48 AM   #24
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Nobody bothers to read agreeable threads.
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Old 07-19-2008, 03:48 AM   #25
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I'm curious in these studies whether there was any distinction between those who rely heavily on left brain and those who rely more heavily on right brain--math/logic vs. artisitic intelligence, say. I'm inclined to think that many of the latter would find the idea of god, whether or not they personally believe in one, intellectually fertile.
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:08 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by A_Wanderer View Post


I understand that a lot of people insist that God doesn't fulfill an explanatory role about the universe for them but what else is there? What other purpose does the abstract concept of a higher power serve?


I rationalised the fear of death at age seven.
These two things help me understand a lot about why you are so comfortable without faith and have such a hard time understanding other people's need for it. The answer to your question is found in the second statement I quoted above, I think.

For me, it's not so much that I fear death--I really don't (but a lot of that, I admit, is grounded in my faith in life beyond death--eventually any way. For me, I think I'd worry more about death if I believed that this go-around was it.), but more that I am not satisfied with just the run of life I currently have (and who knows how long that's going to be anyway. I'd like to assume I'll die at nice ripe old age, peacefully in my sleep, surrounded by friends and loved ones--but really who has any kind of guarantee of that). I want more. I want eternity. I think many people do. You clearly do not, and among other things, I think it's why unbelief makes so much sense to you.

What to do you make of scientists (besides the young earth kind) that DO believe in God. Like that guy who had the debate with Dawkins in TIME magazine last year? (Can't remember his name right now, it's slipped my mind. I'm sure if were an atheist, I'd be sharp enough to remember but us believers are slow you know. )
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:50 AM   #27
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I want more. I want eternity. I think many people do. You clearly do not, and among other things, I think it's why unbelief makes so much sense to you.
But faith in an afterlife isn't the same as there being an afterlife, I think that I would like to be functional for over a century; I may become tired of existence in time but a brief flash of a mortal coil isn't the ideal to me. Faith doesn't make an afterlife the case no matter how much one wishes it were so, when the brain ceases to function so does existence, it may not be as comforting as an eternal soul but it fits the known facts. Additionally the claims of an afterlife have produced some positively vile claims that permit great evil and suffering. Placing higher importance on the single life that we have rather than dubious claims of better things to come is more honest and plausibly more humane than the alternative.
Quote:
What to do you make of scientists (besides the young earth kind) that DO believe in God. Like that guy who had the debate with Dawkins in TIME magazine last year? (Can't remember his name right now, it's slipped my mind. I'm sure if were an atheist, I'd be sharp enough to remember but us believers are slow you know.)
I don't think that one would reach a conclusion of God as the result of what's known, I think that smart people can have needs for whatever reason that they fulfill with faith in a manner wholly independent of their critical faculties. It isn't a question of what's real, it seems to be a means of satisfying an emotional need. I think that religious belief is unnecessary, unfounded and ultimately meaningless. That conclusion isn't one of atheistic superiority, merely an acknowledgement that our brief lives are unimportant to the universe no matter how much we wish it were different and that we are in the same situation together, ultimately an atheistic outlook resigns all of us to an equal fate regardless of what we believed in life. That view can be taken to a more humanistic end than the majority of the worlds religions in terms of pluralism.
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Old 07-19-2008, 11:16 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
Are you trying to pick a fight with us Theists, A_W?
Yes.

Threads like this are precisely why I never bother with FYM anymore; arrogant interferencers using someone else's opinion to support their own opinions, or to rile others up. The latter happens surprisingly often, as evidenced here.

Hey, Wanderer, why not make a thread entitled "those with spiritual beliefs are fools" without including an article and be done with it? I'm sure you'll find a crowd that will pat you on the head for your diligence.
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Old 07-19-2008, 11:19 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by LemonMelon View Post
Yes.

Threads like this are precisely why I never bother with FYM anymore; arrogant interferencers using someone else's opinion to support their own opinions, or to rile others up. The latter happens surprisingly often, as evidenced here.

Hey, Wanderer, why not make a thread entitled "those with spiritual beliefs are fools" and be done with it? I'm sure you'll find a crowd that will pat you on the head for your diligence.
I'm an atheist and I'm right behind this post.

Is there really a more useless argument?
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Old 07-19-2008, 11:25 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonMelon View Post
Yes.

Threads like this are precisely why I never bother with FYM anymore; arrogant interferencers using someone else's opinion to support their own opinions, or to rile others up. The latter happens surprisingly often, as evidenced here.

Hey, Wanderer, why not make a thread entitled "those with spiritual beliefs are fools" without including an article and be done with it? I'm sure you'll find a crowd that will pat you on the head for your diligence.
I agree with this.

Interestingly enough it was this same tactic my dad used in one of his uber-Christian forwards that was the last straw for me. He sent some dumb little made up story about the ACLU suing for an atheist who thought it was wrong that Christians had Christmas but atheists didn't have a holiday. The last line of the forward was spoken by the judge who threw out the case: "those who don't believe are fools."

My response (to everyone on the list of course) was: "Yes! Excellent story! Let's just ridicule and insult everyone who doesn't believe what we do!"

I haven't gotten any of those forwards since.
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Old 07-19-2008, 11:27 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LemonMelon View Post
Yes.

Threads like this are precisely why I never bother with FYM anymore; arrogant interferencers using someone else's opinion to support their own opinions, or to rile others up. The latter happens surprisingly often, as evidenced here.
Yep. Like The Sad Punk, I'm an atheist and I'm with this entirely. A_W acknowledges it himself:

Quote:
Originally Posted by A_Wanderer View Post
Nobody bothers to read agreeable threads.
I consider this to be borderline trolling; intentionally using inflammatory subject lines and phrasings to incite an impassioned response and get a rise out of people with a different perspective. It is certainly not a mature or sensible way to frame a debate and encourage positive, constructive intellectual engagement.

I, for one, would rather discuss this topic reasonably, in a thread that isn't overtly skewed to incite those on one particular side of the fence.
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Old 07-19-2008, 12:22 PM   #32
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Hey, Wanderer, why not make a thread entitled "those with spiritual beliefs are fools" without including an article and be done with it? I'm sure you'll find a crowd that will pat you on the head for your diligence.
I don't know that there really is a "crowd" here who is as religious (sorry, A_W) about being an atheist as A_W is.

I have just enough belief not to be an agnostic, but I'm close. I find a lot of A_W's posts on religion to be just as off putting as the posts from fundamentalists or other very religious people who use their views in a way that offends me. I don't think I'm the only one so I don't really know what "crowd" you're talking about here. Maybe I'm forgetting some people.
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Old 07-19-2008, 01:05 PM   #33
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I don't know that there really is a "crowd" here who is as religious (sorry, A_W) about being an atheist as A_W is.

I have just enough belief not to be an agnostic, but I'm close. I find a lot of A_W's posts on religion to be just as off putting as the posts from fundamentalists or other very religious people who use their views in a way that offends me. I don't think I'm the only one so I don't really know what "crowd" you're talking about here. Maybe I'm forgetting some people.
"Crowd" is a fairly vague term, but I probably mean 4 or 5 people. Enough to keep a thread going. Not including you in on that necessarily. You certainly aren't wrong about A_W being arguably the most rabid atheist here, but there are a number that are on his wavelength. And, honestly, I have no issue with that at all. The problem I have is with threads that are created specifically to be incendiary.
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Old 07-19-2008, 01:28 PM   #34
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Oooohhh! Looks a bit like a Jets vs Sharks showdown! Yep, it's the evil, mean atheists (unfortunately there only seems to be A_Wanderer in this group -- but he's a toughie) vs the Superthread chat group!!!

OK you all know the rules -- nothing is out of bounds and it's a fight to the DEATH!!! Ready, set...FIGHT!!!

(Place your bets now....)
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Old 07-19-2008, 01:53 PM   #35
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I am a little bit puzzled why some believers get upset about anything that is posted.

How can an idea, thought, or any written expression threaten your belief?

Sean always has a calm demeanor,
his responses lead me to believe that he is comfortable with and secure in his beliefs.
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Old 07-19-2008, 02:05 PM   #36
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I am a little bit puzzled why some believers get upset about anything that is posted.
Way to read between the lines.

Quote:
How can an idea, thought, or any written expression threaten your belief?
It doesn't. That's the point.
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:28 PM   #37
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A_W has long believed in the value of mockery in debate.

I personally don't agree with him, but his posts generally don't bother me.

That said, I think the points about the "taunting" thread titles is a good one. I just don't think he's going to stop (unless the mods see fit to make him) because he really doesn't see anything "wrong" with it.
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:43 PM   #38
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Again, I would like to state that I have no issue at all with A_W's beliefs (or lack thereof, depending on your view). None at all. And he's welcome to state them. However, there is such a thing as spam, there is such a thing as inflammatory statements, and there is such a thing as trolling, and none of those things belong in the act of giving an opinion (which, ultimately, is what stating your spiritual beliefs amounts to in discussions such as these). A_W crossed all of those lines to some extent with this thread. It's spam because he's made several threads that were very similar in theme to this one over the past few months, it's inflammatory because, well...look at the thread title, and it's trolling because he used that thread title in order to attract views. I don't feel that it's entirely out of line to state this, and I don't feel that I'm entirely dismissing the topic at hand, because my issue is more with the quantity of these threads than their content (though I do find the statement made in the thread title personally insulting).

Now, in regards to the "question" brought up by this thread, I assume that the illusion of atheists having greater intellects than theists largely stems from the fact that atheists rely solely on facts and knowledge to decide their belief systems; which is the very thing that intellects are measured by.

In other news, 2+2=4.
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Old 07-19-2008, 04:54 PM   #39
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maycocksean View Post
A_W has long believed in the value of mockery in debate.

I personally don't agree with him, but his posts generally don't bother me.

That said, I think the points about the "taunting" thread titles is a good one. I just don't think he's going to stop (unless the mods see fit to make him) because he really doesn't see anything "wrong" with it.
His style is different than yours

and different than mine

I might have cut and pasted something from the article like

Belief in God is much lower among academics.. scholars have higher IQs


which I have done in the past.

I would not have posted this article, because I don't think it matters to me

any more than articles than claim Democrats or Republicans are smarter.

all this being said

I do appreciate AW posts

We need a varied point of view for FYM to be interesting

people seem to be more sensitive to anything that they feel may not be flattering to their group

but are indifferent, when the less than flattering remarks are directed at others
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Old 07-19-2008, 05:06 PM   #40
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Again, I would like to state that I have no issue at all with A_W's beliefs (or lack thereof, depending on your view). None at all. And he's welcome to state them. However, there is such a thing as spam, there is such a thing as inflammatory statements, and there is such a thing as trolling, and none of those things belong in the act of giving an opinion (which, ultimately, is what stating your spiritual beliefs amounts to in discussions such as these). A_W crossed all of those lines to some extent with this thread. It's spam because he's made several threads that were very similar in theme to this one over the past few months, it's inflammatory because, well...look at the thread title, and it's trolling because he used that thread title in order to attract views. I don't feel that it's entirely out of line to state this, and I don't feel that I'm entirely dismissing the topic at hand, because my issue is more with the quantity of these threads than their content (though I do find the statement made in the thread title personally insulting).

I can understand where you are coming from

and I might even agree with you


if he was posting these items in:

The Goal is Soul

Quote:
The Goal Is Soul

This is a general discussion area about U2 and their faith as found in their lyrics, their own words, as well as books written by others on this subject of their spirituality. Not to be used for debates/discussions on religion (use FYM for that).
FYM is set up to be:
an off-topic forum. Discuss politics, spirituality, religion, world events.

As I have previously stated,
I do think it would have been better to have used a different thread title.
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