I'm Curious About You Atheists

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DanielSPG:
I believe the human mind is unable to comprehend certain aspects in life due to the restrictions of the context it is in. Let me clarify with some examples:
How can we understand death when all our experiences come from being alive
How can we understand infinity when our most of what we know has a beginning and an end.

These maybe obvious examples but I think it also relates to more common things. Can you really imagine the distance between the earth and the sun? U can look up the absolute figure but you can't -imagine- how big that distance is.

I think that due the fact that we know there is much knowledge to be found outside out comprehension, we look for a way to explain this. I try to find scientific explanations to -understand- how these things work, and use art to try to -comprehend- them. For instance by analyzing the rotation times of all planets in our solar system and transposing these frequencies to an audible spectrum as a musical piece.

This is how I see the world, not as a place created by an almighty being, but as a collection of immensely complex systems. The fact that I do not believe in God makes these all the more beautiful to me, because I know I can find the governing rules and use to these to make beautiful things.

As for everyday life, it's fairly simple. Treat others as you want to be treated yourself. I don't need a bible to tell me what's wrong and right. I don't want to change people, but I love to inspire people. I don't believe my talents were -meant- to change to world for better and good, because I honestly don't believe anything is meant for anything. But it makes me feel better about myself to help and inspire others. So i hope this response was as helpful as it was inspiring.

Actually.. I think it is easier to comprehend infinity, than it is to comprehend finity. Just try to imagine the university as a box, could you really stand that? Could you accept that the damn thing is finite? Would you not long to know (if we had discovered the whole damn thing) Whatthe hell was outside that stupid box? I think Infinity is a lot easier to comprehend than finity.

Caramel Frappe:
If I told you the answer and reasoning behind the bible, it wouldn't be considered a valid answer because it's based on faith alone. God told him to do so, he was about to yet God stopped him before doing so because it was a test to see if he would follow through, trusting in God no matter what (even if it's as crazy as that).

But you'll of course not consider that a good enough excuse and I don't blame you. However I answered it honestly to the extent the bible covers that part.

And do you consider your stance on this self-contradictory? Because if you don't... you should. When Joe Shmoe carries out a divine order to kill his son he's an evil murderer, but when Abraham carries out a divine order to kill his son he's praised for his faith? What madness is this? If Abraham was a good and moral man he wouldn't have obeyed God, he would have told him to go fuck himself.

I don't buy the "it was a test" thing, and neither should you. God is supposed to be all-knowing, which means he already knew how strong Abraham's faith was (i.e. how gullible he was). To insist he actually go through with such an act just causes immense psychological distress for both Abraham and his son - and for what purpose?

Caramel Frappe:
But as I said, in today's society even if someone told me that God told them to try and attempt murder on their child (or even a person) then I would still accuse them of a crime because anyone can say that it's God's will and I doubt that regardless if you're religious or not.

So hypothetically, if you lived alongside Abraham you would have condemned him for his actions. So what makes them ok in retrospect?

Caramel Frappe:
(Oh and I like your Avatar. Is it fan made or based on a show?)

Thanks. It's fan art of Remilia Scarlet from the Touhou game series.

I am particularly good at summing my ideas up in a small number of words so here we go.

When looking at the world, almost nothing is certain. I can only be 99.99999% sure that there is no such thing as a lightning monster but then again there is no proof that there ISNT a lightning monster somewhere in the stratosphere. I apply the same logic to god, I personally think at some point we will find out what really happened, but using religion as a filler until then only impedes progress and harms humanity.

according to me there is no deity.(then again we never found any proof of it existing or not but with all this crap in the world I doubt it)
life has no purpose (or we haven't figured it out yet due to us not having developed enough to figure it out)
I believe in the multiple worlds theory (every outcome of a action creates a new world to support the outcome also every fictional world exists)
I dislike Theist religions (like Islam and the different versions of Christianity) I think the world is better of without them but we shouldn't outlaw it that isn't going to work people have to figure out the lack of a god by themselves with critical thinking (if they figure out there IS a god they are free to believe in it/her/him/them)I don,t have anything against spiritual religions like Buddhism.
about after life nobody knows going back to the multiple world theory I think a separate world exists where you keep on living (for example I believe there is a world where JFK is still alive) although Walhala would be awesome.

Jowe:

OneCatch :

Jowe:
I am an atheist, but I have (nearly unique, I think) philosophical views, I think that there is no free will, but entirely due to scientific reasons. It took an hour to explain to my friend and I don't have to energy to put it into coherent sentences :P

Dooo iiiit! :D

Seriously, I'm actually kind of intrigued

OK...I'll try and do this as simply and quickly as possible.
Firstly, I DO believe in the idea of an illusion of free will, and it makes little difference whether or not free will is genuine or an illusion in any case (since they appear to be the same from our perspective).
Basically, if you know EVERYTHING about something, lets say, an atom. You will be able to determine exactly how it will behave in the next few quadrillionths of a second following, or at least until it interacts with something else. Unfortunately you cannot do this because it will constantly be interacting with everything simultaneously, (the strength all of the forces act as reciprocals over distance, but never reach zero, so all matter (and presumably everything else) is constantly interacting in some way ALL the time).
However, if you look at a closed system (no interaction with anything outside of it) as a whole and knew EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING it contains. I know this is impossible practically, but bear with me, its the philosophy that matters here, you would be able to determine what would happen to everything it contains indefinitely, and there would be no way to affect this outcome in anyway, without outside interaction. Now if we apply this to the universe in its entirety, we can know exactly what any one atom, beam of light, even people (since we are just complicated arrangements of atoms) will do, at any time, for eternity.
Since we can't comprehend the universe in such a macroscopic scale in infinite detail, it doesn't matter in reality.

So because you have the macro data for EVERYTHING, you can determine exactly where everything is going to go at a given time, and can therefore predict everything assuming you're sat outside of the universe and have a REALLY powerful computer (Alienware at least lol).
I like it!

The only possible issue with that would be that quantum mechanically everything comes down to probability, not pure calculable kinetics (eg there is 0.0000003% this particle will decay in this particular way in the next 0.000000000000000000001 second, rather than it definitely decaying when x happens), but I suppose you could calculate it statistically... maybe....? I don't know enough quantum mechanics to even guess

All atheist means is that I hold no positive believe in a God. Anything outside of that is specific to me as an individual and has nothing to do with my atheism.

First of all, I must thank you for posting such an open-minded and polite thread. Far too many people on either side of the discussion fall into the trap of viewing atheists/theists purely in terms of their views on God, rather than life as a whole. You have shown a desire and willingness to understand more, and not simply dismiss atheists on the basis of their lack of belief, or make assumptions about their worldview, and that's admirable.

Now, on to my own personal views. I'm not really a complete atheist, I'm happy to admit that, in (or even outside of) the vast expanses of a universe we barely understand, a God, or something close enough to God for it to be considered such, may be a possibility. Do I find it likely? No, not really. Do I allow its possible existence to influence the way I live my life? Again, no. So I suppose I'm non-religious enough to join in the discussion.

I don't really believe in any kind of big purpose to life, I think everyone should find their own. Our world is beautiful, its possibilities infinite, and everyone should be allowed to find their own path through it. With regards to the idea that we should try to do something that will change the world, I'm kind of on the fence. It's a nice motivator and drives people to try and achieve their full potential, but, when you think about it, almost everything you do changes the world forever.

Whit:

You may not be the guy who changes the world, or the guy who fathers the guy who changes the world, or even the guy who teaches the guy who fathered the guy who changes the world, but the interactions you have with those around you send out ripples that affect the future of mankind. For example, you might donate to a charity, your donation saves the life of someone who's great great great great grandchild does something that will be remembered for all time. You aren't the one who's remembered, but it couldn't have happened without you, and so while your memory may not, your actions live on. Or, in the realm of worthwhile accomplishments that don't seem world-changing, you invent a cheaper transistor, this makes a certain piece of medical equipment cheaper, this allows it to be put in place in more hospitals, saving hundreds or even thousands of lives, you probably aren't remembered, but what you did will still affect the long term development of mankind. Or, again, in the realm of smallish accomplishments, say you're a comedian, you probably won't be remembered 100 years after you die, but good comedy actually saves lives, a good laugh helps prevent the depressed from committing suicide, and a life saved, in addition to its own value, as I established earlier, has great potential to ultimately lead to something of lasting significance.

Simliar to this, but I believe it works on an even more fundamental level. Imagine just deciding to go to the restaurant across the street for lunch, instead of your usual place. As you stroll in, you see a man's wallet fall out his pocket, and give it back to him. He's then put in such a good mood by your random act of generosity that he lets his secretary off the hook for being late (she was only late because she had been up all night crying after she discovered her boyfriend was cheating on her, which only happened because another man strolling by had mentioned how cold it was and it had reminded her to go home and make sure the heating was on, and there she found her boyfriend with another woman etc.), and thus she keeps her job, which fundamentally changes her life (or, at least, prevents her life from say, becoming an unemployed alcoholic who commits suicide). One small act, hell, all small acts, cause ripples, or domino effects. You change one small factor, you change the universe. However, this also means that everything you do will change the world, so striving for it is pointless. In the example I used, I tried to make good acts create more good as they went along, but it's possible that good acts could cause untold harm, or vice-versa, so you never know which actions will change the world, or how. I know that was a huge digression from the original topic, but oh well.

I follow my own morality that I've formed through my experiences with the world, though it isn't solid and can be flexible if circumstances demand it. Other than that, I have no higher philosophical ideals that I follow. I simply try to get the most out of my life, without directly harming others. I just want to be able to die with a clear conscience and a sense of fulfilment when my time comes.

InquisitorGeneral:

aei_haruko:
Howdy ^^
well, I'm sort've an agnostic, but eh, not a huge deal. So let me see, my beliefs in Life are this:
Give people decency, mercy, and care
Love ofton, laugh a ton, and try to make folks happy.
my beliefs in science are: plain awesome
and that overall more science isnt a bad thing

I've re-read your post about five times now, and all I can think of is this.

haha, XD. Thats awesome man. Sometimes I will argue over religeon, but you know? it really shouldnt matter. What should matter in life is just trying to be a nice guy, and lately I've not been being a nice guy. Really, that should be the credo of most folks, be nice. and I must say, your pic is VERY nice XD

Fieldy409:
Thats what I get I guess for not saying much.

I don't think it's what you get for saying too little. I'll give you the benefit of doubt to say I inferred from your words that charity was exclusive to religious organization. I know I'm a bit sensitive to some of the presumptions that are made about the non-religious, that we exist without mores at all without some kind of threat of divine punishment. As Einstein noted, this presumption speaks poorly of our social maturity as a species. So I'm glad to know this is once less such incident.

No, no. Of course I dont believe charity is religion exclusive, Im just trying to point out that religion does good as well as bad, which cannot be denied as many very sucessful charities have sprang from religion. The red cross, The city mission and the salvation army off the top of my head...

I would hesitate to say religion serves well as a springboard for charity non-profits. Generally, it is need that creates the drive to organize, collect resources and distribute them to the needy. I would argue that institutions like the Red Cross and the Salvation Army would have come to being without religious backing, because the need for them was evident, and human beings really don't like to see (or know) that others are suffering, if something can be done about it.

My hometown of San Francisco is a bit experimental in its openness to and direct support of non-profit organizations towards fulfilling needs that are usually not covered by community civil services. (For example, our robust mental health community is possibly the best in the nation). Tradition was to rely on churches to do this, but often they don't recognize needs if they conflict with their own agendas (sexual and gender issue-related services typically go unaddressed throughout much of the United States, thanks to heteronormative prejudices reenforced by many faiths).

The widespread presence and persistence of churches, however, do indicate a human need that is not fulfilled by other resources, and this is what indicates the good done for humankind by religious institutions. So far, we only hazard guesses as to what this need is (and why it's not universal, or where other people find it), whether it is a spiritual connection to a grander scheme, a place to emotionally recollect when otherwise in despair, or hope for the persistence of our identities beyond the brief interim of our lives.

As a New Atheist, I am of the belief that religion is dangerous in how dogma is used to justify otherwise inhumane action based on specific political or social agendas, from the indoctrination of suicide combatants as were active in the 9/11 attacks, to the pooling of capital nationwide to push California's Proposition 8 (re-criminalizing gay marriage here). But I don't think this means we necessarily have to forgo our churches or our religions altogether so much as accept that as cognative creatures we are responsible for deciding for ourselves how our morality is constructed, rather than trust in an authority, whether a book, a religious figurehead or an icon. Ideally, we'll be able to get our spirit on and still be able to think critically when deciding the rules we keep.

I also forgot to point out that I am christian, so I cant really discuss the topic here.

Meh, the original topic was addressed to atheists, but tangents are not necessarily, and opinions can be valuable regardless, so long as the specific context is noted.

In case you haven't seen it, there's a forum markup reference page though I didn't notice the footnote markup listed there.

238U

Well, the only things that come with being atheist is that you've rejected belief.
What do I believe in? I don't know... anything with significant peer reviewed evidence.
Science is crazy important, it's why we progress. Without out science we'd be back in the doldrums somewhere floating on a palm leaf.

I think people make their own purposes in life. Pretty much that everyone should be able to do whatever they want as long as it doesn't harm others. If it benefits others, well that's great if you enjoy that.
I would not label any of these things as belief. They're things that make society function, and give the greatest amount of happiness to the most amount of people.

You don't need to be atheist to think these things. It'd be a wonder if you didn't. Although some might put it down to "moral absolutes" or some bullshit they've conjured out of their arses.

I believe humanity should work together towards a common goal; greater civilization.

I personally just try to live in harmony with other people.

henritje:
I dislike Theist religions (like Islam and the different versions of Christianity) I think the world is better of without them but we shouldn't outlaw it that isn't going to work people have to figure out the lack of a god by themselves with critical thinking (if they figure out there IS a god they are free to believe in it/her/him/them)

This is important what you say here. Outlawing different views have been a religious and fascists thing through the ages. Book burning, persecution and so on. For the rational side to behave the same, you will not achieve anything. It did not work for the other side.

What will kill off religion is education and knowledge. No propaganda, lies or weapons can fight those in the long run. Perhaps some form of philosophy will emerge in it's wake, but rooted in reality.

Nikolaz72:

Actually.. I think it is easier to comprehend infinity, than it is to comprehend finity. Just try to imagine the university as a box, could you really stand that? Could you accept that the damn thing is finite? Would you not long to know (if we had discovered the whole damn thing) Whatthe hell was outside that stupid box? I think Infinity is a lot easier to comprehend than finity.

2 things:

1. It's still a lot easier to imagine finite things (like a small object bound to three dimensions, say a beer can) then it is to imagine infinite things (like the universe, if indeed it is)

2. Your argument is based on the fact that the opposite of infinity in this particular case is even harder to comprehend, this in itself does not make infinity any easier to comprehend. You can use arguments to make infinity more likely or even proves infinity exist (there are after all, an infinite amount of whole numbers, even numbers, odd number, primes etc.). But to grasp the meaning of it is beyond our abilities. In fact, your argument mainly proves you don't seem to comprehend the meaning of "nothing". Which fits right into my theory.

Also as a small brain teaser, lets say the universe is a "box" created by the big bang. Now let's say the big bang happened the way we suspect it happened, then what are the odds of it only happening once? So if u were to ask me what was outside that box, I would have to say, more boxes. How many? maybe infinitely many, though I can't really comprehend what that would mean....

DanielSPG:
*snip*

Okay. How about the finiteness of your own existence instead? Can you imagine that? Because while I accept it and believe it, I have a hard time imagining it. Obviously, I've only experienced myself existing since, when I didn't exist, I wasn't around to experience it. So I can sort of extrapolate from that. But really imagine it, considering there would be nothing to imagine, nothing to experience? Now that is hard, I find. Probably one of the reasons an infinite existence in the form of an everlasting afterlife is such a common idea.

Exactly...

But again theres a difference here between the inability to imagine "infinity" and "nothing". I know my life is finite, but I can not grasp it because I can not grasp the concept of me NOT being here, which is again related directly to the context our consciousness is subjected to as I described in my first post.

The concept of infinity is still unimaginable. I can hardly grasp the idea of ten years except for the raw theory of 10 * 365 days * 24 hours. At least not in the same way I understand what 5 minutes means. Let alone trying to grasp an infinite timespan. Even though time itself is probably infinite.

And like you said, and which is my point, it is these inability to grasp things outside of the context of our own existence, but knowing full well they exist, which creates a paradox we try to solve. Some people by religion, me, by accepting the paradox and embracing it's beauty. And when it comes down to it, these two ways of dealing with it may not be too different.

Caramel Frappe:

I admit it's sort of hard to ask a question in such a manner but basically what I am asking is what are your beliefs that make you, you? Yeah, that's a good way to put it because beliefs do make up for a person. Not entirely, but a good portion. I'm here to listen, well... read, but still.

Whew! Scared the living crap out of me there for a second. The moment I read that title I immediately grabbed my flame-shield and ran.

Ya might find this a bit of a shock, considering you know I'm a christian and what not, but my belief in the whole God scenario is more along the lines of a "Negligent God".
As in if he does exist then he probably doesn't care much for us or has stepped out of the scene as a whole.
I kinda got this idea alot from Romans chapter 1 where it said, "God left man to his own actions" (Paraphrasing here of course) because he got fed up.

Weird I have such a cynical view on God, but if he does exist one might think that he is indeed a pissed of deity. Not old testament pissed off, but just more along the lines of "LEAVE ME THE HELL ALONE"
I mean after all the religious wars, sects, inquisitions, witch trials and murders that have occurred because of a disputable belief in God then one might get fed up with the whole thing.

Kinda why I hold some comfort in Existentialism.
Sorry if I rambled on.

henritje:
I dislike Theist religions (like Islam and the different versions of Christianity) I think the world is better of without them but we shouldn't outlaw it that isn't going to work people have to figure out the lack of a god by themselves with critical thinking (if they figure out there IS a god they are free to believe in it/her/him/them)I don,t have anything against spiritual religions like Buddhism.

Ugh. No offense to you, but if not religion then man would just find some other reason to kill itself off. We've become freaking experts at it this day and age.
But while I do agree that theocratic religions or institutional religions are more harmful than anything, I can't really come to grips with the whole Buddhist thing...idk, maybe the idea there's some secret to happiness just pisses me off.

I mean you make your own happiness from what I've experienced in life.

Caramel Frappe:
Hello everyone! Let me just say that I am a Christian, yet I will and shall not judge/shun/insult any of you who come to this thread. I already know a bit about atheists but I wish to know more since I like to observe other people outside of my beliefs. There's so much I can learn and understand from you all, so please let me ask this:

What are your beliefs? Not like in faith or in a God but rather your beliefs in life that matter to you? Do you believe in a purpose like your writing skills in literature can be a great influence on society? Or perhaps you believe that science needs to be considered a higher priority in modern society?

I admit it's sort of hard to ask a question in such a manner but basically what I am asking is what are your beliefs that make you, you? Yeah, that's a good way to put it because beliefs do make up for a person. Not entirely, but a good portion. I'm here to listen, well... read, but still.

So... do you define yourself solely by your belief system? What would happen if that belief system were to come into question?

Without religion, would you go around raping, stealing and murdering?

Olrod:
Without religion, would you go around raping, stealing and murdering?

Never would commit to such actions even before being heavily involved in my religion. However it was my religion that helped me grow as a person due to who I am. My personality, my view on things, a lot of it.. comes from morals that the bible gives off (not all of them, but most of them anyhow.)

If by any means the system was out.. it would leave me very depressed. I wouldn't change to become an abomination in society but rather keep what's close to me by heart. Always better to try and be good then simply fall to doing wrong. I mean, atheists do not have a religion yet they function well based off their beliefs on what life means to them. Everyone's got a belief in something, from religion to politics, to even things like what's fair and real.

The main gist of my existance is that I'm just happy that I'm here. That there was a tiny, tiny chance that we'd all be here one day. And that I can stand up and call it all into question, that I've got the cognitive abilities to recognize the greatness of it all. I'm alive, and it's one hell of a ride.

I do believe, however, believe in some out-there stuff. That there is slightly more to it than just what goes on in the few deciliters of nervecells inside your skull. I do believe in ghosts, or rather the phenomenom of ghosts, apparations of the past that linger on in certain enviroments. I believe there might be something to the idea of the noosphere, that all living creatures are somehow connected, that our conscience isn't strictly bound inside our bodies. I don't like the term "soul", because that carries a bit too many implications, but I do believe in the basic idea. That there is more to us than the nervecells behind our foreheads.

As for my role in society... Well, people who leave their mark in history tend to die with it, or at least loose part of them in the process. I don't feel a great pressure to rabidly attempt to justify my freak-chance of existing for all to see, I just want to do what I do. Maybe someone will remember me once my time is up, maybe someone won't. Doesn't really matter. Well, as long as I'm not remembered in the leauge of Hitler and Pol Pot and the likes... I'm here, it's awesome, it's enough.
When it comes to morals, I don't see how that can be such a complicated, infected issue or something that requires a user's manual given by gods to figure out. Don't do shit to people that isn't right to them. But keep an eye on the bigger picture and the needs of the collective, of course. Experimenting on labrats isn't very kind to the rats, but if there is no other way to, for instance, discover a new cure, then the needs of the collective outweighs that.

And reguarding science. Yes, I think it should have a large role in society. Look at the benefits the scientific method has given us. We're using one right now. Hell, the fact that I can stample down a series of meaningless symbols which you can read and hopefully get an understanding of what I'm trying to tell you across time and space is exceptional in its own right.
Most of us present will most likely live to be 80 years old. More than double our expectancies in "the wild", and we won't die from common colds and ailments. The scientific method is well worth having a respected position in society. It works.

Caramel Frappe:
Or perhaps you believe that science needs to be considered a higher priority in modern society?

Yes. Am I a stereotypical atheist now? :P

I 'believe' in the Singularity. You probably know Moore's law? It means all aspects of computers are doubling in quite a short time. Most tend to double in one or two year.
This is exponential growth. It won't just get a '+100' every year, it's 'x2'.
1 + 100
1 - 101 - 201 - 301 - 401 - 501 - 601 - 701 - 801 - 901 - 1001
1 x 2
1 - 2 - 4 - 8 - 16- 32 - 64- 128- 256 - 512 - 1028 - 2048 - 4096

We are more and more starting to get 'intelligence' in computers. Before 2045, we will have the entire human brain 'decoded' and can rebuild it in a computer, so we'll have the perfect AI.
The benefits...
-If you want a skilled scientist/doctor/politician, you will need to train him for decades. If you have one good scientist-AI, you can just CTRL-C, CTRL-V him an nearly infinite amount of times.
-Your computer does not forget; a good AI doesn't have to forget. You can just 'feed' him all books and the entire internet, and he won't forget a single thing.
-The way your brain works with it's biological signals is slow. It wasn't designed for solving scientific experiments. An AI can be way better, faster and more efficient. You have to compare it with calculating. The computer your now reading this message with, even if it's a tablet or a mobile phone, is better at any calculation than you are. This will be the future of any mental exercise. Computers will beat you and will be way better at any mental process.

So, in the future, before 2045, we'll get a huge abundance of intelligence, growing exponentially. Our complete world will be radically transformed. The progress our society now makes in a hundred years (hundred times the progress of 2011, not 1911) can than be made in a few hours, or less.

This idea has been 'explained' to me by Kurzweil's book 'The Singularity is Near'. Kurzweil's ideas are supported by Bill Gates and Google.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/
http://singularityu.org/
http://singularityhub.com/

I hope you are interested and if you have got any questions, please ask them :) Quote me and I'll try to respond.

Caramel Frappe:
What are your beliefs?

I'll try to answer this one. I believe in what I consider there to be evidence for. I think it's practically a truism that nothing outside our own mind can be 100% proven to be a particular way, and making such demands of something would be unreasonable. The best way to verify a particular claim about the nature of reality, or explain a particular natural phenomenon is through deductive and inductive reasoning, respectively.

Where the burden of proof lies depends on the nature of the claim. If you make a positive existensial claim (There is at least one black swan) the burden of proof is on you to prove that claim, which can be done by finding one black swan. If you make a negative universal claim (All swans are white) then, while it would be inaccurate to say the burden of proof in on whoever disputed the claim(You can never be called upon to prove a negative. "All swans are white" is in fact a classic example of a fallacy.), such a claim would be verified by looking for a non-white Swan.

I consider myself open-minded, which is a term very often misused. I won't reject a claim of a supernatural(poorly defined term) bent out of hand, but I will require evidence to support the claim. Relativity, for example, is deeply counter-intuitive. If you said that time runs slower when you're in a moving train just out of the blue, chances are I wouldn't believe you. But if this claim was supported by solid evidence I would.

As for ethics, I don't think there is any universal morality. I'm not even sure if a rigid code of morals is necessary. I think "good" and "bad" not only should be, but instinctivly is defined by our brain's capacity for empathy. To take an example, I don't think anyone really believes that serial killer was a perfectly acceptable and honorable profession before Moses came down from the mountains and said "Thou shalt not kill!" at which point everyone went "Well sure, if God says so."

I think that the idea that other people are unique living human beings with their own thoughts, ideas and feelings not unlike our own is engrained into our brain, and as such we understand what pain and suffering feels like to them.(as a side note, I think this is related to the question of why war is usually motivated by nationalism, religion, racism etc. For a soldier to be able to do their job you have to reinforce the idea that the people you are killing are not infact human beings with thoughts, good memories from their childhood and families they care for, but scary monsters who exist soley to harm you and the people you care about.) If you need to have your ethics written down into simple morals to follow, then I guess "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you." explains this sentiment pretty well. Which is also why you find this most moral codes around the world.

I'm not sure who said it, but I believe there's a quote that goes somewhere along the lines of "Good people will do good and bad people will do bad with or without religion, but only religion can make good people do bad." To take an extreme example, let's look at the discirmination facing homosexuals. Let's take the empathethic approach to this issue. If you were put in the position of a homosexual, what would you do? Presumably, you would not have yourself beheaded. So, why are homosexuals facing death penalty in Saudi Arabia, one of the worlds most religious countries, and allowed to get married in Norway, one of the worlds least religious countries? Is it because the people of Saudi Arabia are genetically predisposed to lack empathy? No. Nor is it because they are "immoral". They are in fact very moral. So moral that they are willing to look past their own empathy and kill other human beings for violating their moral code.

TL;DR I subscribe to the values of the enlightenment. Scepticism, reason, logic, the scientific method and empathy.

I believe in evidence, specifically that if an idea is supported it is sensible to place your trust in it (gravity, evolution, etc.) and that believing in something without evidence (faith) is stupid. I don't mean to sound antagonistic but that's my honest opinion.

Christianity, the Norse pantheon, homeopathy and conspiracy theories are, in my opinion, all equally ridiculous for lack of evidence. I think the following image is appropriate.

WARNING! REALLY LONG IMAGE

Also, this is definitely worth a watch.

OriginalLadders:

WARNING! REALLY LONG IMAGE

Also, this is definitely worth a watch.

Epic image. Downloaded it, I'll probably show it to a few people.
Epic video! Watched it entirely, bookmarked it and gave it a very looong name so I can find it back.
Watching a lot of Tim Minchin video's now, he's amazing.

Thank you!

Caramel Frappe:
What are your beliefs?

Well obviously in a literal sense I'm atheist, in a figurative sense I'm a strong cynic, my philosophy is "A person may be great, but people are fools" usually if society or an individual powerful person can warp and twist theories and ideals towards their own goals they will, which sadly happens all too often with your own faith (and many others of course).

Do you believe in a purpose like your writing skills in literature can be a great influence on society?

As I said above people find ways to twist meaning within great cultural ideas and works. However, both culture and science can shed light onto those that twist them and help guide people into understanding. Sadly too few people actually want knowledge and so go out of their way to avoid anything beyond their stupid prime-time TV Shows and superficial garbage (why else are the Kardashians considered great role models?).

Or perhaps you believe that science needs to be considered a higher priority in modern society?

Science can do evil things, as can culture, religion and politics.

The only hope for humanity in my eyes is if intellectuals and those willing to learn, such as ourselves attempt to destroy the idea that "ignorance is bliss" which is perhaps the cause of 99% of our problems.

Caramel Frappe:

Do you believe in a purpose like your writing skills in literature can be a great influence on society? Or perhaps you believe that science needs to be considered a higher priority in modern society?

I don't believe in a predestined purpose. I believe people need to make a purpose for themselves. The purpose can be as simple as driving trucks or as complex as curing cancer. Sure in the grand scheme of things we all die, and the Earth will be lifeless in a few million years. However, we can't let that stop us from doing things now. I do think science needs to be a higher priority. The couple trillion dollar budget that the various military organizations of the world has really does sicken me.

Throw me in the Humanist pile, as for my purpose in life, I want to be a game designer and/or a writer and leave my mark on the world with some piece of work that at least affects one person.

Caramel Frappe:
what I am asking is what are your beliefs that make you, you?

Hey there Caramel,

Nice topic, and potentially a good way to focus on some similarities for once :).

Well, I'll start off by quoting Paul from the movie of the same name:
"We're men of science... ya know, we believe in the establishment of a biological order through the maelstrom of physical and chemical chaos."

I'm one of those, I assume there is no purpose to my existence, I'm just here and I can do with that as I please. I assume this is my only life and I'm not going to stick around or return. This is all, this one life. And what do I do with it? I spend it sitting at a computer writing these very words.

I think living is very interesting, and often a lot of fun. There are so many wonderous things to explore and consider, and doing exactly that is a big part of me. I try to figure out why people behave the way they behave, and what kind of things really make us happy. I am not an individualist, I strongly believe that humans do best as a group, as a family, and living and working together is the most harmonious state human beings will find themselves in.

I get my morality from my humanity and my reason, I stand convinced we can improve both ourselves and the world around us (improve in the subjective sense of the word of course) and that should be the goal we strive to achieve, for ourselves and all the other creatures this universe has spawned.

Sooo yeah, that's the basic outline.
Cheers.

Caramel Frappe:
SNIP

You're asking a pretty broad question there as what I believe is dependent on the subject. For example, I believe that people should have 100% freedom over their own bodies, which means that whatever they choose to put in it (drugs, food, ink, surgical implants, pieces of other people's anatomy, other people's bodily fluids etc) is completely up to them and should never be controlled the the government.

The same goes for reproductive rights and sexuality, that's also something that someone should have complete autonomy over. Which means I also support the legalization of prostitution. I also support abortion rights and the rights of complete autonomy and the right of choice for the woman to abort her pregnancy in a risk-free environment for whatever reason, no questions asked.

As for various other beliefs, I agree with certain stances (but not all) in Utilitarianism, Feminism, Anarchism, Fundamental Pacifism, Non-Participation, Apathism, Misanthropism and a whole load of other "isms" that I can't remember off the top of my head right now.

Also, I don't know what the "ism" is for it, but I do not believe in moral absolutes. Thus I do not believe in "good", "evil", "love" or "hatred" or any real extreme end of the infinite spectrum of human emotion. There's never been a single human -past or present- that I think warrants complete adoration, nor complete damnation as I believe that nobody is ever at the extreme ends of "good"/"evil" to warrant them such treatment. Nobody is perfect, there's no such thing as perfectly good or perfectly evil. There's pretty much just a hodge-podge of crap and candy in everyone and judging everyone on the sweetness of their candy while ignoring the crap is as foolish as if it were the other way around.

Also, I should probably go into detail about the Misanthropism as it's generally a negative connotation that some people don't really fully understand. See, the way I view humanity is a spectrum of viewpoints and beliefs and most of the time we're geared towards neutrality a lot of the time in order to perpetuate the status quo and generally live as the social species we are.

However, it is a firm belief of mine that we're all selfish at heart and there is no such thing as an unselfish act in a being intelligent enough to weigh the pros and cons of an action before taking it. We always assess the situation and try to figure out the repercussions and/or consequences of our actions before doing so and, when freed of such shackles, we generally indulge in schadenfreude and other selfish acts for nothing more than our own gratification.

The act of doing something, like maintaining the status quo for fear of repercussions/consequences is also a selfish act, as it's our own asses we're protecting. We're also indulging ourselves whenever we perform an act for others, as it's mostly for our own gratification insomuch as being able to feel good about ourselves, bragging rights or simply to just alleviate guilt.

This is not a negative thing, I believe it's naturally inherent in all species and it's an important trait to have, just as important as our propensity to see faces in inanimate objects or pattern recognition. Thus, I don't want people to be philanthropists and do everything for the benefit of others, all I wish is for people to be aware of their selfishness so they can channel it into something productive.

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