Atheist Arrogance?

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tstorm823:

Danny Ocean:

Yeah but who knows what the hell "Eternal" means. :P

OK, so you take "Omniscient" to mean:

1. God has knowledge of all events he has witnessed.

And you also assert that:

2. God has witnessed all events in our Universe.

N'est pas?

I mean, you went to the trouble of italicizing the part you just sort of added in there, but unless you're trying to pull "then He doesn't know OTHER universes" I don't see a big issue.

Well I was going to say that that would mean he didn't know our until he decided to create it.

But Sean managed to tease out that you don't think threatens omniscience, although I think it does: Does God have free will if God knows all about what he'll do?

So I'll reserve the right to contend the "in our universe" part, but otherwise looks good.

Ok, so, let's take this back to the previous thing:

Even if we let omniscience take the huge hit that god's knowledge requires witnessing, then the original argument still stands:

1. "God existed at T1" entails "If Jones did X at T2, God believed at T1 that Jones would do X at T2.

2. "'X' is true." entails; "God believes X"

You do not have free will because:

1. If God knows everything and falsely believes nothing, and
2. God exists at every point in time, then
3. God has witnessed the future, therefore,
4. The future is.

Note that the future being is not a result of god's witnessing, but it is necessary for it.

Regardless of when God exists, this must be the case. "T1" can be any time- it doesn't matter.

For the future to be witnessed by God it must exist. It must exist because God's knowledge requires observation, and what does not exist it cannot be observed. Whether God perceives them all simultaneously makes no difference.

If the future already exists, your actions are already fixed, and you have no free will. You are simply a blob of perception moving through a predetermined life.

As I mentioned earlier, this is essentially subscribing to the Block Universe theory of space-time.

I still maintain that the God used in this argument is not God, because he is not omniscient, because he is required to witness events before in order to know them.

Danny Ocean:

If the future already exists, your actions are already fixed, and you have no free will. You are simply a blob of perception moving through a predetermined life.

As I mentioned earlier, this is essentially subscribing to the Block Universe theory of space-time.

We're pretty much at exactly where we started then, because I see no reason why eternalism prevents free will. Why does the existance of the future negate the qualities of its causes? Surely, it does not. One can accept that the past is a collection of events, but that does not mean that you didn't chose anything. One can accept the present is a set collection of events, but that doesn't mean you aren't choosing anything. Why can one not accept that the future is a set collection of events while understanding they are the way that you will choose later?

And if you that that way, that the future is set so free choice has no influence, can you not apply that to every cause? If you think of the future existing meaning its set regardless of prior influence, aren't you suggesting that all causes and effects are coincidental? The window breaking and the ball being hit just happen to line up? Surely, you aren't saying that. Surely, you maintain cause and effect.

So why is it different for a supernatural nondetermined human influence? If we analytically look at a situation and can say "in a perfectly determined world, this is what would happen" and then that outcome doesn't happen because the events are changed by a person (deliberately to them, objectively unpredictable) what does it matter if the future exists, nondeterministic free will has done its job.

Because determinism does not just mean that things can only happen one way. As I've said, common sense says things can only happen one way. Determinism says that given a complete set of influences on an event, that event can only possibly occur in one, perfectly predictable way. Events obviously cannot happen differently than the one way they do, but if the exact same set of influences could have produced a different outcome, than it isn't determinism.

EvolutionKills:
Please, do NOT equate hard earned knowledge of the state of our universe and the nature of reality, with 'personal dogma'. I do not believe that the universe was created with myself in mind, because given everything we know about our universe, there is nothing to suggest that it is. If and when new information presents itself, it will be evaluated, and my position will adjust accordingly. This is NOT personal dogma, and your misuse of that term in an effort to marginalize my opinion is disingenuous. If my confidence in my beliefs (born of the substantial backing of evidence) comes off as arrogant, that sounds like a problem with your perspective.

Arrogance isn't about whether something is fact or not, it's expression. To express that the average Christian is arrogant and that it is a level "unheard of" in science is not a scientific conclusion nor based upon evidence, it's opinion. An arrogant one, I feel.

There are many thousands upon millions of humble people, faith or not, that don't judge others. They don't think it is their place. It's also worth noting that many devout people put themselves last relative to the rest of the universe. They're neither insolent nor give off an air of superiority. On the other hand, there's judgment like yours which basically equates to: "No I'm not, but you are". That's my perspective, and it's an observation, not a problem.

AgedGrunt:

EvolutionKills:
Please, do NOT equate hard earned knowledge of the state of our universe and the nature of reality, with 'personal dogma'. I do not believe that the universe was created with myself in mind, because given everything we know about our universe, there is nothing to suggest that it is. If and when new information presents itself, it will be evaluated, and my position will adjust accordingly. This is NOT personal dogma, and your misuse of that term in an effort to marginalize my opinion is disingenuous. If my confidence in my beliefs (born of the substantial backing of evidence) comes off as arrogant, that sounds like a problem with your perspective.

Arrogance isn't about whether something is fact or not, it's expression. To express that the average Christian is arrogant and that it is a level "unheard of" in science is not a scientific conclusion nor based upon evidence, it's opinion. An arrogant one, I feel.

There are many thousands upon millions of humble people, faith or not, that don't judge others. They don't think it is their place. It's also worth noting that many devout people put themselves last relative to the rest of the universe. They're neither insolent nor give off an air of superiority. On the other hand, there's judgment like yours which basically equates to: "No I'm not, but you are". That's my perspective, and it's an observation, not a problem.

Arrogance
-noun
Overbearing pride evidenced by a superior manner toward inferiors.
An attitude of superiority manifested in an overbearing manner or in presumptuous claims or assumptions.

Arrogance can be expressed, but it is not inherently limited to actions; that was my original point. When comparing the two outlooks side-by-side, the average Christian worldview (I am the object of creation, center of the universe, it's creator wants to have a personal relationship with ME) is far more arrogant than your average Atheistic worldview (we are insignificant on a scale Copernicus couldn't even imagine). Also when you take into account that the Christian worldview isn't built around any evidence, that multiplies it's arrogance because of it's presumptuousness.

Any Christian that attends mass, Sunday service, or any other religions function where this idea is presented and reinforced, is lending tacit approval to it. That tacit approval of an arrogant belief, by the action of attending the service and not questioning it, I would argue is an arrogant action. I've never been to a church service where the pastor/priest/whatever made an unsubstantiated claim, and somebody got up and asked 'How do you know that?'. Because the person asking that question would be the most rational and humble individual in the room, and would most likely be immediately ostracized for it.

So I would argue that the most common (and indeed very central) beliefs of Christians are very arrogant, whether or not they are expressed outwardly as such. Now does just having those beliefs make you arrogant? That's an interesting question to have a debate over. I would actually lean towards 'no', under the idea that actions are more important than thoughts. But I imagine that any Christian that believes in the power of prayer, that believes that Jesus spoke true when he said that 'to lust after a woman is to commit adultery with her already'; to keep consistent with their beliefs, they would almost have to argue that having an arrogant belief IS the same as acting arrogant. Funny how that works...

So I think you can have arrogant beliefs without being outwardly arrogant in your actions. If you're not happy with the logical conclusions of the belief structure that is modern Christianity, take it up with the religion itself, not it's critics.

tstorm823:

Danny Ocean:

If the future already exists, your actions are already fixed, and you have no free will. You are simply a blob of perception moving through a predetermined life.

As I mentioned earlier, this is essentially subscribing to the Block Universe theory of space-time.

We're pretty much at exactly where we started then, because I see no reason why eternalism prevents free will. Why does the existance of the future negate the qualities of its causes? Surely, it does not. One can accept that the past is a collection of events, but that does not mean that you didn't chose anything. One can accept the present is a set collection of events, but that doesn't mean you aren't choosing anything. Why can one not accept that the future is a set collection of events while understanding they are the way that you will choose later?

And if you that that way, that the future is set so free choice has no influence, can you not apply that to every cause? If you think of the future existing meaning its set regardless of prior influence, aren't you suggesting that all causes and effects are coincidental? The window breaking and the ball being hit just happen to line up? Surely, you aren't saying that. Surely, you maintain cause and effect.

So why is it different for a supernatural nondetermined human influence? If we analytically look at a situation and can say "in a perfectly determined world, this is what would happen" and then that outcome doesn't happen because the events are changed by a person (deliberately to them, objectively unpredictable) what does it matter if the future exists, nondeterministic free will has done its job.

Because determinism does not just mean that things can only happen one way. As I've said, common sense says things can only happen one way. Determinism says that given a complete set of influences on an event, that event can only possibly occur in one, perfectly predictable way. Events obviously cannot happen differently than the one way they do, but if the exact same set of influences could have produced a different outcome, than it isn't determinism.

But the exact same events would lead to the exact same outcome. Our world is deterministic, and there is no rational place where you can draw a line and say 'the buck stops here'. The buck never stops. Nothing is coincidental, everything is causal. Determinism is 'cause and effect' taken to it's extreme logical conclusion. There is no free will, there is no choice, only the illusion of choice. Your's, and everyone else's actions, are determined by your brains. Your brains run on chemical reactions and electrical pulses that you don't control, you consciousness (and thus your actions) emerge without prior thought. This is why you can't think your thoughts before you think them. And those chemical reactions and electrical pulses are determined by prior actions, things set in motion that had no more control over their beginning as their end. The now, the present as we perceive it, is the sum total of all previous events.

I have no more control over the previous events that lead me to typing up this post, as you will have in reading it and your reaction to it.

If the past and the present are not alterable, then a future built entirely upon what came before (entirely determined by prior actions) is also unchanging. The future is fixed because it is built upon the unchanging past. We don't have free will or choice, only the illusion of choice. I imagine that the reason so many find the free will concept so hard to jettison is that 'choice' is a cornerstone of religion. It's kind of hard to believe in a good and all loving god, when everyone's actions are predetermined by events they have no control over. Also, the 'Free Will' argument is the go-to argument to attempt to remove God's accountability for the Problem of Evil. Heaven and Hell are much less palatable when you take out the illusion of choice, because then you can no longer hold someone to blame for their 'actions'. The realization that if Heaven and Hell exists, and nobody has any control over where they go, is not by any definition 'fair', 'loving', 'just', or 'free will'. That is a huge chunk of cognitive dissonance to swallow.

Also, none of this is common sense, so appealing to it for your argument is fallacious. We have evolved incredible mental software to interpret the world around us, but we know that it is inherently flawed. We are prone to antigenicity and confirmation bias, can be repeatedly tricked by common optical illusions, and other failures of logic and reasoning. Appealing to 'common sense' while arguing about the nature of reality is not helpful. 'Common sense' used to dictate we were at the center of the universe and the sun revolved around us, because that's what it appears like to a layman observer on the ground. 'Common sense' was wrong.

Invoking a super-natural non-deterministic agent is special pleading, and also inherently fallacious.

tstorm823:

We're pretty much at exactly where we started then, because I see no reason why eternalism prevents free will. Why does the existance of the future negate the qualities of its causes? Surely, it does not. One can accept that the past is a collection of events, but that does not mean that you didn't chose anything. One can accept the present is a set collection of events, but that doesn't mean you aren't choosing anything. Why can one not accept that the future is a set collection of events while understanding they are the way that you will choose later?

1. You can't change the past.
2. Because the present is entirely dependent on the past you can't change the present.
3. Because the future is entirely dependent on the present you can't change the future.

At that point in the past where you "Chose" something, you were not choosing, you were merely reacting to the past in relation to that point in the past.

This is cause and effect.

If you think of the future existing meaning its set regardless of prior influence, aren't you suggesting that all causes and effects are coincidental? The window breaking and the ball being hit just happen to line up? Surely, you aren't saying that. Surely, you maintain cause and effect.

Yes. Determinism rests on cause-and-effect taken to its conclusion. Cognitive and Neuro-science are slowly building up a body of evidence to suggest this. Recently, I read a scientific study which suggested that decisions are merely post-hoc justifications of actions, because subconscious impulses cause one's arm to start reaching for the biscuit before one thinks "I want a biscuit."

That wasn't the exact study of course but you get the idea.

It is up to you to reconcile the apparent conflict between the future already existing for God to know it (via witnessing or otherwise), and the ability to change the future. It does not seem one can have both.

Because determinism does not just mean that things can only happen one way. As I've said, common sense says things can only happen one way. Determinism says that given a complete set of influences on an event, that event can only possibly occur in one, perfectly predictable way. Events obviously cannot happen differently than the one way they do, but if the exact same set of influences could have produced a different outcome, than it isn't determinism.

Whether or not a situation can have multiple outcomes is neither here nor there, because your inclination to pick any particular option is influenced by other chains of cause and effect.

I'm also not sure how you can say that Determinism is "common sense" when (almost) our entire Western Political, Legal, and Moral philosophy is based on an assumption that we have free will.

EvolutionKills:
So I think you can have arrogant beliefs without being outwardly arrogant in your actions. If you're not happy with the logical conclusions of the belief structure that is modern Christianity, take it up with the religion itself, not it's critics.

Belief systems and how people worship, even if we can consider them arrogant, doesn't compare to what you are saying. While the OP launched a discussion regarding (not all) Atheists as perhaps the most arrogant, you've taken the not-so-unique approach of rejecting all criticism and making this about Christians. Twisting the argument around like that is more than denial.

AgedGrunt:

EvolutionKills:
So I think you can have arrogant beliefs without being outwardly arrogant in your actions. If you're not happy with the logical conclusions of the belief structure that is modern Christianity, take it up with the religion itself, not it's critics.

Belief systems and how people worship, even if we can consider them arrogant, doesn't compare to what you are saying. While the OP launched a discussion regarding (not all) Atheists as perhaps the most arrogant, you've taken the not-so-unique approach of rejecting all criticism and making this about Christians. Twisting the argument around like that is more than denial.

You object to what I'm saying because... you don't like what I'm saying. You've got no meat there, no argument, no point. Should I have started my own thread to point out the inherent arrogance of any faith that think's it's the 'one true faith' on no evidence? Am I not allowed to comment on what I think is a ironic case of not seeing the forest for the trees? If you have a problem with my analysis, take me up on the specifics. If you have a problem with Christianity, take it up with someone else. How is that 'rejecting all criticism'?

I never said that atheist were not, or could not, be arrogant. I just thought it would be more interesting to consider generalities over the OP's personal anecdotes. I don't care to attempt to convince him that he's wrong or mistaken, because I don't think he's mistaken in his personal opinion of his personal subjective experience. If he were to make a hasty and sweeping generalization about all atheists, then he'd have an argument on his hands.

As of right now, I'm just expressing a counter point. Nobody says you have to like it, but I'd expect a little more substance if you're going to attempt to call me out on anything I've posted. You've made a bunch of accusation with nothing to back them up. Do try harder if you want me to give any more consideration to anything else you might have to say.

EvolutionKills:
I just don't see the point in being arrogant as an atheist. After all atheism, in its broadest sense, is lack of belief in gods. This is a good thing as we have no evidence to support the existence of anything supernatural, let alone specific deities. It's a good, intelligent stance to have; one that shows you are in tune with the nature of reality. Anything else above and beyond that basic premise is in addition to atheism, but not atheism. Skepticism, humanism, liberalism or conservatism, rationalism, feminism, environmentalism, etc.

Unless being more honest about the nature of reality give you a massive hard on, there's not much to be arrogant about. While conversely, the same is not always true.

I'd wager that your average Christian, with average beliefs, sitting in an average church, on any average Sunday; probably posses a level of arrogance unheard of in science. Why? Because we are one species, surviving on less then half of the surface of one planet, orbiting an average sun, one of tens billions of stars in our average galaxy, one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe. And your average Christian believes that this was all put into place so that the creator of the Universe can have a personal relationship with THEM, and that they will continue to exist after death forever in paradise; and they believe all of this without any evidence. Whether expressed openly or not, that basic concept seems far more arrogant to me than the alternative.

Interesting point, this thread always seems to make me sit back and go 'hmmm' every other day and I hadn't considered that perspective.

To be honest a large part of why I originally created the topic was I was pissed off and I had never seen the topic discussed before, all too often it feels like we berate christians on this forum but I'd never seen the spotlight on Atheists before.

Also I'd like your perspective on this: Do you think the fact all of this thread is about Christians vs Atheism is because of my original post, because we happen to have most exposure to christianity or because Atheism seems fundementally rooted as an opposition to christianity? This is a genuine question, I just find the lack of other religions being discussed as something interesting in the thread and wondered if it said something about Atheism or was just my OP. :)

Demon ID:
Also I'd like your perspective on this: Do you think the fact all of this thread is about Christians vs Atheism is because of my original post, because we happen to have most exposure to christianity or because Atheism seems fundementally rooted as an opposition to christianity? This is a genuine question, I just find the lack of other religions being discussed as something interesting in the thread and wondered if it said something about Atheism or was just my OP. :)

This is a question I've thought about a little (and been challenged on). Partially, it's the exposure, but there's more to it. Most of the posters here are Westerners, Europeans or Americans, I think it's safe to assume. And in these countries, the US, the UK, it is only really Christianity that enjoys the deference and protection from public criticism that it does.

Atheism is fundamentally opposed to all claims of a deity, but it's almost redundant to criticise Islam in the UK, because Muslims already have the majority of the press and public against them.

Western Atheists criticise Christianity more often than Islam, but this is proportionate with the deference and public standing it enjoys. It does not mean Islam or Hinduism or Sikhism are any more logical or defensible.

EvolutionKills:
I never said that atheist were not, or could not, be arrogant. I just thought it would be more interesting to consider generalities over the OP's personal anecdotes. I don't care to attempt to convince him that he's wrong or mistaken, because I don't think he's mistaken in his personal opinion of his personal subjective experience. If he were to make a hasty and sweeping generalization about all atheists, then he'd have an argument on his hands.

Do you mean like when someone says the "average" Christian is arrogant, and has arrogance "unheard of" in the scientific realm? Is that the type of hasty and sweeping generalization you'd take issue with? Or is that the substantive, meaty "commentary" that I'm lacking in my posts?

As of right now, I'm just expressing a counter point. Nobody says you have to like it, but I'd expect a little more substance if you're going to attempt to call me out on anything I've posted. You've made a bunch of accusation with nothing to back them up. Do try harder if you want me to give any more consideration to anything else you might have to say.

I feel what I've criticized is bombastically arrogant language; it's relevant. It could be interesting to debate why, but in order to do that, you need to acknowledge and respond rather than get defensive and continue to prove the point by dismissing the reaction as an empty case of ruffled feathers.

AgedGrunt:

EvolutionKills:
I never said that atheist were not, or could not, be arrogant. I just thought it would be more interesting to consider generalities over the OP's personal anecdotes. I don't care to attempt to convince him that he's wrong or mistaken, because I don't think he's mistaken in his personal opinion of his personal subjective experience. If he were to make a hasty and sweeping generalization about all atheists, then he'd have an argument on his hands.

Do you mean like when someone says the "average" Christian is arrogant, and has arrogance "unheard of" in the scientific realm? Is that the type of hasty and sweeping generalization you'd take issue with? Or is that the substantive, meaty "commentary" that I'm lacking in my posts?

As of right now, I'm just expressing a counter point. Nobody says you have to like it, but I'd expect a little more substance if you're going to attempt to call me out on anything I've posted. You've made a bunch of accusation with nothing to back them up. Do try harder if you want me to give any more consideration to anything else you might have to say.

I feel what I've criticized is bombastically arrogant language; it's relevant. It could be interesting to debate why, but in order to do that, you need to acknowledge and respond rather than get defensive and continue to prove the point by dismissing the reaction as an empty case of ruffled feathers.

I don't think the person you're debating right now is getting the point you're making. He's an atheist who doesn't like being called arrogant who then, in the defense of him not being arrogant, proves he's arrogant. I find that somewhat humorous in it of itself.

Demon ID:

EvolutionKills:
I just don't see the point in being arrogant as an atheist. After all atheism, in its broadest sense, is lack of belief in gods. This is a good thing as we have no evidence to support the existence of anything supernatural, let alone specific deities. It's a good, intelligent stance to have; one that shows you are in tune with the nature of reality. Anything else above and beyond that basic premise is in addition to atheism, but not atheism. Skepticism, humanism, liberalism or conservatism, rationalism, feminism, environmentalism, etc.

Unless being more honest about the nature of reality give you a massive hard on, there's not much to be arrogant about. While conversely, the same is not always true.

I'd wager that your average Christian, with average beliefs, sitting in an average church, on any average Sunday; probably posses a level of arrogance unheard of in science. Why? Because we are one species, surviving on less then half of the surface of one planet, orbiting an average sun, one of tens billions of stars in our average galaxy, one of hundreds of billions of galaxies in the observable universe. And your average Christian believes that this was all put into place so that the creator of the Universe can have a personal relationship with THEM, and that they will continue to exist after death forever in paradise; and they believe all of this without any evidence. Whether expressed openly or not, that basic concept seems far more arrogant to me than the alternative.

Interesting point, this thread always seems to make me sit back and go 'hmmm' every other day and I hadn't considered that perspective.

To be honest a large part of why I originally created the topic was I was pissed off and I had never seen the topic discussed before, all too often it feels like we berate christians on this forum but I'd never seen the spotlight on Atheists before.

Also I'd like your perspective on this: Do you think the fact all of this thread is about Christians vs Atheism is because of my original post, because we happen to have most exposure to christianity or because Atheism seems fundementally rooted as an opposition to Christianity? This is a genuine question, I just find the lack of other religions being discussed as something interesting in the thread and wondered if it said something about Atheism or was just my OP. :)

I would say (and have before) that atheists are only really atheist about the religions they know. That's why the atheism here seems to run against Christianity, and atheism in the Middle East runs against Islam, etc. etc. I know that there are ideas inherent within atheism that are universal, but all athiests are incredibly shaped by the dominant religion, so their lack of faith becomes something they have to defend against a particular theology. Along this line, I've also heard it argued that atheists aren't actually against religion as a philosophy, but they are really against bad theology. Which would explain why these arguments can get so tedious. Because it's just people quibbling over really stupid subsets of bigger ideas.

tstorm823:

Danny Ocean:

If the future already exists, your actions are already fixed, and you have no free will. You are simply a blob of perception moving through a predetermined life.

As I mentioned earlier, this is essentially subscribing to the Block Universe theory of space-time.

We're pretty much at exactly where we started then, because I see no reason why eternalism prevents free will. Why does the existance of the future negate the qualities of its causes? Surely, it does not. One can accept that the past is a collection of events, but that does not mean that you didn't chose anything. One can accept the present is a set collection of events, but that doesn't mean you aren't choosing anything. Why can one not accept that the future is a set collection of events while understanding they are the way that you will choose later?

And if you that that way, that the future is set so free choice has no influence, can you not apply that to every cause? If you think of the future existing meaning its set regardless of prior influence, aren't you suggesting that all causes and effects are coincidental? The window breaking and the ball being hit just happen to line up? Surely, you aren't saying that. Surely, you maintain cause and effect.

So why is it different for a supernatural nondetermined human influence? If we analytically look at a situation and can say "in a perfectly determined world, this is what would happen" and then that outcome doesn't happen because the events are changed by a person (deliberately to them, objectively unpredictable) what does it matter if the future exists, nondeterministic free will has done its job.

Because determinism does not just mean that things can only happen one way. As I've said, common sense says things can only happen one way. Determinism says that given a complete set of influences on an event, that event can only possibly occur in one, perfectly predictable way. Events obviously cannot happen differently than the one way they do, but if the exact same set of influences could have produced a different outcome, than it isn't determinism.

I hate theodicies.

Anyways, the problem for free will is not just that God knows everything. If random Joe Shmoe on the street suddenly knew everything that wouldn't make him God (this is the problem with all of your examples.) It's that God both knows everything AND made it all come to pass. Since he does both, then the idea of free will is kind of obliterated.

But anyways, in my opinion to make a better theodicy you need to dig into why God created anything to begin with, which is really the juicy question. (Especially for me, seeing as I don't think free will actually exists, but we need to keep acting as though it does because then all of society would collapse.)

AgedGrunt:

Do you mean like when someone says the "average" Christian is arrogant, and has arrogance "unheard of" in the scientific realm? Is that the type of hasty and sweeping generalization you'd take issue with? Or is that the substantive, meaty "commentary" that I'm lacking in my posts?

Well to be frank he has a valid point.

The majority of Christianity, by definition, believes the universe to be human-centric. God created the universe but we are the goal, the point, the peak of what is and will be. Unless there is some other species alive our there god cares about as much as he cares for us, or some lifeless ball or arbitrary star that exists that he sacrificed another Messianic figure to protect the basic idea behind christianity is the creator of the universe has devoted 100% of his attention since creation began on less than 0.000000000000000000000000000001% of the visible universe simply because we evolved here. The idea that the universe is our home and we are its focus, the goal persay, is... well not necessarily arrogant, but it raises us up onto an alter of universal importance that atheism just doesnt.

Atheism doesnt go on the basis that we were designed or the point of the WHOLE of existence, we are just a happy accident, this isnt to say that we are as important as a few hundred lightyears of empty space just that said empty space is not the product of god attempting to achieve us in a massive universe, a waste product in the production of the goal that is humanity. Its slightly comical how excedingly stupidly VAST existance is and how small the tiny space we inhabit is. And when Christianity implies this tiny space is the entire point of everything that is and was gods purpose in creating everything that is i always think "Damn he made a HUGE amount of waste trying to make this planet didnt he..."

Now dont get me wrong and say the universe i describe is cold and immoral or whatever due to our reletive unimportance (not that i think you will but it happens) because i do believe its important to care for one another and the fact we are so small and adrift in an endless ocean that accidentally spat us out is all the more reason to huddle together for warmth and make our tiny vessel as comfortable as possible.

I love thinking about this kind of thing. Im often asked "Isnt there something bigger than you out there?" to which i take a deep breath and begin: "THE MOON THE SUN JUPITER PLUTO MARS VENUS ALPHA CENTURI NEBULEA GALAXIES THE PILLARS OF CREATION" as long as i can remember star systems.

Demon ID:

Interesting point, this thread always seems to make me sit back and go 'hmmm' every other day and I hadn't considered that perspective.

To be honest a large part of why I originally created the topic was I was pissed off and I had never seen the topic discussed before, all too often it feels like we berate christians on this forum but I'd never seen the spotlight on Atheists before.

Also I'd like your perspective on this: Do you think the fact all of this thread is about Christians vs Atheism is because of my original post, because we happen to have most exposure to christianity or because Atheism seems fundementally rooted as an opposition to christianity? This is a genuine question, I just find the lack of other religions being discussed as something interesting in the thread and wondered if it said something about Atheism or was just my OP. :)

Well Christianity is the monotheism that those in predominantly English speaking countries are most likely familiar with. If Judaism, Islam, or some other idea was a prevalent, widespread, or influential in public life; I'm sure it would be taking the brunt of the secular push-back. That being said, I think that my criticism of Christianity can, with very little modification, be applied two the other two monotheism's with equally scathing effect.

If Jewish and Muslim lobbyist were pushing hard to have creationism taught as science in schools or to have the '10 Commandments' displayed in court houses (and not the actual 10 Commandants that ends with not boiling a baby goat in it's mother's milk, but the other more common set), they would be feeling more direct opposition. As is, at least here in the United States, the largest Jewish sects are secular Jews. They are a far cry from their fundamentalists hasidic fellows. Most of the Muslims tend to keep their heads down in light of the rise of fundamentalist Christianity, lest some crazed Fox News watching redneck firebombs another mosque.

Can you imagine what would happen to a Jewish or Muslim group went around protesting soldier's funerals or holding up 'GOD HATES ____' signs in the same way that the Westboro Baptists Church does? I can't help but wonder if the reason that the WBC doesn't raise more ire lies in the fact that they are professed Christians, and others of the faith would rather do their best to ignore them rather than draw scrutiny upon their beliefs as a whole. The WBC preaches a fundamental interpretation of the Bible, and I think it would do the nation a whole world of good to actually examine the book and realize that it is so very easy for them (the WBC) to justify their actions. Too many however just don't care enough to evaluate their own beliefs, let alone seriously questions them, and are more than happy to just say 'well they aren't REAL Christians' or 'they're not MY Christianity'. Sorry, not good enough. It's not enough to know that their ideas are different, what can you (hypothetical believer) do to show that your beliefs are ANY MORE PROBABLE?

When most of the nation are professed Christians, but only around 10% have actually read the book? When reading the Bible is far more common among Atheists and Agnostics? When the same non-believers know more about the religions than the believers themselves? The world has surely gone mad...

AgedGrunt:

EvolutionKills:
I never said that atheist were not, or could not, be arrogant. I just thought it would be more interesting to consider generalities over the OP's personal anecdotes. I don't care to attempt to convince him that he's wrong or mistaken, because I don't think he's mistaken in his personal opinion of his personal subjective experience. If he were to make a hasty and sweeping generalization about all atheists, then he'd have an argument on his hands.

Do you mean like when someone says the "average" Christian is arrogant, and has arrogance "unheard of" in the scientific realm? Is that the type of hasty and sweeping generalization you'd take issue with? Or is that the substantive, meaty "commentary" that I'm lacking in my posts?

As of right now, I'm just expressing a counter point. Nobody says you have to like it, but I'd expect a little more substance if you're going to attempt to call me out on anything I've posted. You've made a bunch of accusation with nothing to back them up. Do try harder if you want me to give any more consideration to anything else you might have to say.

I feel what I've criticized is bombastically arrogant language; it's relevant. It could be interesting to debate why, but in order to do that, you need to acknowledge and respond rather than get defensive and continue to prove the point by dismissing the reaction as an empty case of ruffled feathers.

You really don't fucking get it, do you?

Individual Christians and Atheists are not arrogant, except on a case by case basis. However it can be argued that the core, basic beliefs of Christianity are far more arrogant than anything posited by science or Atheism. Even if this belief doesn't lead all or most Christians to behaving arrogantly, that in and of itself is not a defense against a critique of the logical conclusion of their core theology.

Christians are the followers of Jesus Christ, the begotten son of the Creator of the Universe. He was born, tortured, and killed for you because God loves you and wants to have a personal relationship with you for all eternity. This entire universe was created with you in mind, you are made in the image of the creator.

If you cannot understand my critique of that core theology when I claim that it is inherently arrogant, then you simply don't know what arrogance means. If that is the case, then I'm done wasting my time on you.

BiscuitTrouser:
Well to be frank he has a valid point.

The majority of Christianity, by definition, believes the universe to be human-centric. God created the universe but we are the goal, the point, the peak of what is and will be.

Atheism doesnt go on the basis that we were designed or the point of the WHOLE of existence, we are just a happy accident

Some good points I agree with, and I wouldn't necessarily argue against the big picture comparison being made between the two. However, the difference being I feel yours is an impartial and meaningful take on it. It was welcome, unlike someone else that should just take a rest.

EvolutionKills:

But the exact same events would lead to the exact same outcome. Our world is deterministic, and there is no rational place where you can draw a line and say 'the buck stops here'. The buck never stops. Nothing is coincidental, everything is causal. Determinism is 'cause and effect' taken to it's extreme logical conclusion. There is no free will, there is no choice, only the illusion of choice. Your's, and everyone else's actions, are determined by your brains. Your brains run on chemical reactions and electrical pulses that you don't control, you consciousness (and thus your actions) emerge without prior thought. This is why you can't think your thoughts before you think them. And those chemical reactions and electrical pulses are determined by prior actions, things set in motion that had no more control over their beginning as their end. The now, the present as we perceive it, is the sum total of all previous events.

I have no more control over the previous events that lead me to typing up this post, as you will have in reading it and your reaction to it.

If the past and the present are not alterable, then a future built entirely upon what came before (entirely determined by prior actions) is also unchanging. The future is fixed because it is built upon the unchanging past. We don't have free will or choice, only the illusion of choice. I imagine that the reason so many find the free will concept so hard to jettison is that 'choice' is a cornerstone of religion. It's kind of hard to believe in a good and all loving god, when everyone's actions are predetermined by events they have no control over. Also, the 'Free Will' argument is the go-to argument to attempt to remove God's accountability for the Problem of Evil. Heaven and Hell are much less palatable when you take out the illusion of choice, because then you can no longer hold someone to blame for their 'actions'. The realization that if Heaven and Hell exists, and nobody has any control over where they go, is not by any definition 'fair', 'loving', 'just', or 'free will'. That is a huge chunk of cognitive dissonance to swallow.

Also, none of this is common sense, so appealing to it for your argument is fallacious. We have evolved incredible mental software to interpret the world around us, but we know that it is inherently flawed. We are prone to antigenicity and confirmation bias, can be repeatedly tricked by common optical illusions, and other failures of logic and reasoning. Appealing to 'common sense' while arguing about the nature of reality is not helpful. 'Common sense' used to dictate we were at the center of the universe and the sun revolved around us, because that's what it appears like to a layman observer on the ground. 'Common sense' was wrong.

Invoking a super-natural non-deterministic agent is special pleading, and also inherently fallacious.

Forgive me for mostly ignoring your post. We're arguing about whether omniscience dictates determinism, and you just sort of skipped that entirely, declared determinism true, and sort of ranted off from there. Especially since it seems like Danny Ocean played off of your response a little, I'd like to just pass this tangent by and go back to the real debate I was in and could feel the victory in my grasp.

Danny Ocean:

1. You can't change the past.
2. Because the present is entirely dependent on the past you can't change the present.
3. Because the future is entirely dependent on the present you can't change the future.

Your making gigantic assumptions that undermine the debate we're having by assuming determinism without even bringing God into the discussion.

Cognitive and Neuro-science are slowly building up a body of evidence to suggest this. Recently, I read a scientific study which suggested that decisions are merely post-hoc justifications of actions, because subconscious impulses cause one's arm to start reaching for the biscuit before one thinks "I want a biscuit."

Or perhaps the decisions are made before your brain has fully processed them by an immaterial and eternal part of the human identity. Just throwing that one out there.

That wasn't the exact study of course but you get the idea.

It is up to you to reconcile the apparent conflict between the future already existing for God to know it (via witnessing or otherwise), and the ability to change the future. It does not seem one can have both.

Well, maybe this is where you are getting confused. It is true that you can't change the future, since there only is one future that will exist. All you could do with free will is decide the one future. The future existing already is not saying that the future exists before it happens, it's saying that it exists outside of time altogether.

I'm also not sure how you can say that Determinism is "common sense" when (almost) our entire Western Political, Legal, and Moral philosophy is based on an assumption that we have free will.

It's a good thing that I didn't say that again. I said that the idea that event can't come to pass in more than one way is common sense, and I said that isn't what determinism is.

here's my two cents: although individuals tend to vary depending on their opinions, emotions etc. there can be some difficulty, but in my experience (there are a fair few bery religious people at the college where i study) theists do seem carry a fair bit of arrogant "i'm better than you because i believe in X" around with them.

but maybe that's just me.

tstorm823:
SNIP

To quote Pierre-Simon Laplace, "I had no need of that hypothesis".

Determinism can be posited and argued for as an explanation without recourse to any outside supernatural anything, omniscience or not. If determinism is true, which seems more and more likely with the more we learn from neuroscience, then your thought experiment gets simply cut off at the knees.

While I do appreciate fun thought experiments, unless there is any evidence to support the existence of a supernatural force (omniscient or not) that can somehow grant our consciousness exemption from the rules of determinism, then it's all rather mute preposition. Positing the existence of a 'soul' or a 'god' does nothing to give us any reason to believe they actually exist or have any affect on our reality. No amount of armchair reasoning can determine, to any satisfactory degree, the nature of our reality.

That being said, I think I've said my peace. By all means, continue the thought experiment. They can be fun, even if only for their own sake.

As a response to the original post...

I agree and think that what I've seen dubbed the 'New Atheism' has certainly been turning problematic in the past few years, a situation that has certainly been aggravated by the internet, Facebook, the economic situation in the world, terrorism, and so on. The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald put forward a great article on his brush with this trend a few weeks back:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/apr/03/sam-harris-muslim-animus

Outside of the racism and culture-bullying I've been seeing from some of the more-vocal athiests I've talked with, I see a lot of them as being just as bad as that which they criticize. Quite a lot of them are knocking the Church down only so they can build another in its place, devoted to science, rationality, technology, progress, etc... All of those things are good things to certain measures and limits, but, like the worst elements in organized religions, it's folly to think they do not run the risk of being inhumane and spirit-less.

Caostotale:

Outside of the racism and culture-bullying I've been seeing from some of the more-vocal athiests I've talked with, I see a lot of them as being just as bad as that which they criticize. Quite a lot of them are knocking the Church down only so they can build another in its place, devoted to science, rationality, technology, progress, etc... All of those are good things, but, like the worst things in organized religions, they often run the risk of being inhumane and spirit-less.

Anyone that would equate religious dogma to the scientific values of reason, has completely missed the point.

When one takes measure of how much actual work, effort, and intellectual rigor goes into most common atheists' devotions to those things, there's really not much of a difference from traditional religion. 99% of the ones I've met have no working understanding of modern physics, chemistry, etc... They just seem like they're driven by the short-term goal of being more right than the other guy. At this point in time, their primary mission seems to be simply about being on some sort of winning side, far from any sort of utopian vision for civilization.

I'll take more common atheists' nasty attitudes seriously when more of them take a step further and relinquish their pathetic devotions to things like the world's money system, surveillance society, social-networking, gadgets, the wholesale destruction of education, etc... you know, all those things that their technocratic civilization has done to debilitate people over the past several years. Reading some mass-market by Dawkins or Harris is far from enough. They should probably read some books on history, art, music, and ethics as well.

Caostotale:
Outside of the racism and culture-bullying I've been seeing from some of the more-vocal athiests I've talked with, I see a lot of them as being just as bad as that which they criticize. Quite a lot of them are knocking the Church down only so they can build another in its place, devoted to science, rationality, technology, progress, etc... All of those things are good things to certain measures and limits, but, like the worst elements in organized religions, it's folly to think they do not run the risk of being inhumane and spirit-less.

I am sorry, I do not quite equate how the desire and method of removing organized religious institutions would result in one being formed.

If you mean in response to people ostracized for having a religion? I suppose it could go that way. If atheism was the majority in a nation I bet you would see tax breaks for religious institutions flying out the window. Many religious folks would claim it was discrimination to do so, when in fact it would be the exact opposite "Why does your 'charitable' institution get tax breaks when you're driving a Lexus bought with the proceeds?". At the moment there tangible are benefits to being religious but NO benefits to being an atheist. "Found God" is frequently toted as something to improve a convicted felon's chance of parole.

Atheism doesn't demand anything of those who follow it, there is no prayer, no group to join, no tithe to give, no worship for anything. There is no set philosophy every atheist must follow, all are free to follow their own moral compass - with ethics or "The Golden Rule" being the decider. To compare it to a church or a religion is just flat out wrong.

Finally, to mention being inhumane and spirit-less... the former is not promised no matter what religion takes hold. Get enough people who believe in a particular translation of scripture and you've got slavery back in full swing. People today are still being burned alive for not being of a particular faith. I can not think of a single time atheists have got together to lynch or kill someone just because of that person's religion. Eventually it might happen but there would have to be more to it than just the person's religion - political gains or some sort of power play would have to be involved. As for the spirit-less comment, what is 'spirit'? I do not believe in spirits... or souls or essences or whatever term is used to describe a person's non-sentience being. Do you mean immoral? Whose morals?

EvolutionKills:

If determinism is true, which seems more and more likely with the more we learn from neuroscience, then your thought experiment gets simply cut off at the knees.

No amount of armchair reasoning can determine, to any satisfactory degree, the nature of our reality.

See, I find this quite backwards. I think scientific data is incapable of addressing issues like this, and "armchair reasoning" is what can really dig in deep. Science is entirely dependant on consistent assumptions, which include basic assumptions about the nature of our reality, otherwise it's a truly worthless exercise. Casual thought experiements allow for the alteration of those assumptions without illegitimizing everthing said previously.

Abomination:

I can not think of a single time atheists have got together to lynch or kill someone just because of that person's religion.

Have you heard of the cultural revolution? It's sort of a thing.

Eventually it might happen but there would have to be more to it than just the person's religion - political gains or some sort of power play would have to be involved.

Though America is filled with believers, our behavior is mostly secular and based on economic imperatives/opportunities. I feel that that motivation has and will continue to wreck more havoc onto civilization than religions ever dreamed of.

To be sure, I myself am an atheist, but I feel like the atheism movement is starting to take on vibes and attitudes that I find unduly aggressive and, at their worst, racist and nasty. Most of the hard-core atheists I know personally are really entrenched in a far-right libertarian mentality that's not too far-removed from the cult-like attitudes of the Ayn Rand Institute. Far from keeping the discussion limited to science and faith, they tend to shift the focus onto things like radical Islam and poking fun at fundamentalist Christians because it's easy. My simple argument is that focusing on these groups is completely pointless masturbatory BS. I think it's more important for atheists to 'complete the picture' by focusing in on economic/political concerns, discussions on long-term environmental sustainability, perhaps getting a clearer picture as to WHY so many other people are turning to medieval belief systems as a way of dealing with their despair/confusion/barbarism/etc... The point is, most of the atheists I talk to use their non-belief as nothing more than a bludgeon, doing exactly the kind of crap that drives people away from rationalism.

tstorm823:

Abomination:

I can not think of a single time atheists have got together to lynch or kill someone just because of that person's religion.

Have you heard of the cultural revolution? It's sort of a thing.

That wasn't atheism, that was extreme nationalism. That was the government telling people to not believe because it would undermine the government and the pseudo-god status Mao was chasing.

The government wasn't about preaching atheist values, it was about indoctrinating the entire nation to the idea of Maoist orthodoxy. They claimed atheism but it was Maoism.

tstorm823:

EvolutionKills:

If determinism is true, which seems more and more likely with the more we learn from neuroscience, then your thought experiment gets simply cut off at the knees.

No amount of armchair reasoning can determine, to any satisfactory degree, the nature of our reality.

See, I find this quite backwards. I think scientific data is incapable of addressing issues like this, and "armchair reasoning" is what can really dig in deep. Science is entirely dependant on consistent assumptions, which include basic assumptions about the nature of our reality, otherwise it's a truly worthless exercise. Casual thought experiements allow for the alteration of those assumptions without illegitimizing everthing said previously.

By all means, it's a very important part of discovery. But until you can show it, you don't know it. That's not meant to denigrate thought experiments, but only to put it into proper perspective. Until said thought experiment can be tested, then it is just that, a thought experiment. In practical terms, it has no more plausibility than debating how many angles can dance on the head of a pin (although I daresay the freewill/determinism debate is a might bit more interesting and practical). That being said, I am a proponent of free thought, so have at it!

I'm just going to sit here and read/lurk a bit more, and I'll speak up if and when something else catches my interest enough to get me to actually type something about it.

Abomination:

tstorm823:

Abomination:

I can not think of a single time atheists have got together to lynch or kill someone just because of that person's religion.

Have you heard of the cultural revolution? It's sort of a thing.

That wasn't atheism, that was extreme nationalism. That was the government telling people to not believe because it would undermine the government and the pseudo-god status Mao was chasing.

The government wasn't about preaching atheist values, it was about indoctrinating the entire nation to the idea of Maoist orthodoxy. They claimed atheism but it was Maoism.

Yes and no. They (communists regimes) were professed atheists, but that's besides the point. The trouble here was dogma, in this case it was political dogma instead of religious dogma; but the problem was dogmatism and not atheism.

Atheism is most simply a lack of belief in gods. Communism is not inherently atheistic, just look a Soviet Russia's history with the Russian Orthodox Church. Stalin went after it initially because it was a political power that backed the wrong side (the Czars). However once they were willing to come around, Stalin did reinstate both the church and it's seminary schools. One only has to see the political power of the religious conservatives in modern America to understand why, especially back then with the Germans rallying against the 'godless' communists.

EvolutionKills:
One only has to see the political power of the religious conservatives in modern America to understand why, especially back then with the Germans rallying against the 'godless' communists.

Was the same deal in the US during the cold war and after as well. Communism was portrayed as the most heinous evil on earth and was linked to godlessness and probably cannibalism as well.
The US claimed to have god on their side in their political power play and ideology. Makes for a nice little irony that the other heinous evil which was Nazi Germany had Gott mit uns (God with us) branded on their soldiers belt buckles.

Rastelin:

Was the same deal in the US during the cold war and after as well. Communism was portrayed as the most heinous evil on earth and was linked to godlessness and probably cannibalism as well.
The US claimed to have god on their side in their political power play and ideology. Makes for a nice little irony that the other heinous evil which was Nazi Germany had Gott mit uns (God with us) branded on their soldiers belt buckles.

Case in point, when we replaced the nation's original motto of 'E Pluribus Unum' (Latin for 'out of many, one') to 'In God We Trust' as a reactionary response to the Red Scare of the 1950's. It had even earlier replaced the motto on U.S. coins shortly after the Civil War, during another religious resurgence in the aftermath of that terrible waste of human life. I my own opinion, the original seems far more inclusive than it's replacement.

Although my annoyance with this pales in comparison to my annoyance with the level of historical ignorance and revisionism that is so prevalent among the conservative right. It's one thing if you want to base your own political view around your religion. That doesn't give you the right to LIE and claim that the Founding Father's believed as you do in an effort to bolster your position. The perverse irony of claiming religious critics like Franklin, Jefferson, Paine, or Washington (or latter Presidents such as Lincoln) as beacons of Christendom, just makes me sick...

I wish they'd take off their cosplay Tricorn hat, and try actually reading the writings of those they are espousing to follow. I'm sure they'd be surprised of what they actually thought about god in general, and Christianity in particular...

EvolutionKills:
I wish they'd take off their cosplay Tricorn hat, and try actually reading the writings of those they are espousing to follow. I'm sure they'd be surprised of what they actually thought about god in general, and Christianity in particular...

The blunt denial that exists towards the founding fathers regarding their position on religion puzzles me.
I mean it is part of the American history. Why deny it? I am Norwegian and know very well where they stood along with great presidents on the issue. Watching religious advocates on American TV is an ordeal for a honest mind.

Abraham Lincoln said! "The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession".

He said a lot more and so did the other founding fathers and presidents. And it's all there to confirm by the help of all mighty google.
But they won't look it up. Because I think they know it will confirm their own lousy education on the matter, or expose their self deceit. And most likely both.

There are at least 100 verses in the bible telling people not to lie, be honest and truthful. What happen to that?
And another amusing fact is that when Lincoln first ran for president (in Springfield I believe) he was accused by his opponent of being and atheist. I wonder when uneducated bible thumpers will start claiming the Indian wars never took place:P

So amusing this thread is called Atheist arrogance.

Abomination:

That wasn't atheism, that was extreme nationalism. That was the government telling people to not believe because it would undermine the government and the pseudo-god status Mao was chasing.

The government wasn't about preaching atheist values, it was about indoctrinating the entire nation to the idea of Maoist orthodoxy. They claimed atheism but it was Maoism.

Yes, but you didn't ask when atheists got together and murdered people because their atheism led them to, you just asked when a bunch of atheists killed someone because of that person's religion.

tstorm823:

Abomination:

That wasn't atheism, that was extreme nationalism. That was the government telling people to not believe because it would undermine the government and the pseudo-god status Mao was chasing.

The government wasn't about preaching atheist values, it was about indoctrinating the entire nation to the idea of Maoist orthodoxy. They claimed atheism but it was Maoism.

Yes, but you didn't ask when atheists got together and murdered people because their atheism led them to, you just asked when a bunch of atheists killed someone because of that person's religion.

Not really because of their religion, but because they either opposed, were seen as being opposed, or were thought that they might oppose, those in power.
Being of the wrong political party, wrong ethnicity, wrong education level, saying wrong things or possessing wrong books would have caused the persecution and deaths just as well.

But sure, let's count that as atheist killing bunch of religious people (and other atheists as well), by that count we need to take almost any war, genocide, ethnic cleansing, massacre, and violent act, as religious people being violent.

Which is true, but religion is not the reason for most of that shit (well, it has been used to justify lot of it, but not all of it, and even then rarely the sole cause), just like Atheism is not the reason communists did lot of batshit insane stuff.

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