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Atheism shall make you free - Comments

roach's Avatar Comment 1 by roach

Good article. I'm pretty happy I no longer call myself an agnostic though. That fence really started to hurt my ass.

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 20:45:00 UTC | #43966

james_the_doubter's Avatar Comment 2 by james_the_doubter

Yup, yup, yup... I found myself agreeing with almost all of that.

To quote:
"The studies - of which there are now many - indicate that a tendency to religiosity is genetically determined; if one twin is very religious the other nearly always is too, no matter how they were brought up. For believers, such studies should raise a confronting question: why would an all-loving God create some of his people without the capacity for believing in him, and then, according to scriptures, send them to eternal hellfire for not believing in him?"

As a Christian, I have been quietly wondering the same thing for years.

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 21:02:00 UTC | #43968

Russell Blackford's Avatar Comment 3 by Russell Blackford

I like Pamela Bone's journalism, but I do wonder about some aspects of this article. E.g. I think that she should be prepared to use some term other than "agnostic", which is little more than a euphemism to avoid offence ... at least when used by someone who clearly has no belief in any deity and is not even attracted to the idea.

I also wonder about this business of not depriving billions of people of their "comfort". Now, there may be many people who live lives so miserable and circumscribed that their acceptance of a fundamentally false worldview is the least of their worries. Perhaps it is harsh to want to take away their comforting lies which may be a large part of what makes life seem bearable and worthwhile to them. But it's a tragic situation.

It's also tragic that many other people who are not otherwise in any terrible situation are living with a comprehensive view of the world that is actually comprehensively false, and which circumscribes and distorts how they live and think and judge the actions of others. In the case of these people, I do want to take away their "comfort" ... or, rather, I want to persuade them to let it go.

My further thoughts here:

http://metamagician3000.blogspot.com/2007/06/more-on-michel-onfray.html

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 21:04:00 UTC | #43969

Helios G2V's Avatar Comment 5 by Helios G2V

"The studies - of which there are now many - indicate that a tendency to religiosity is genetically determined; if one twin is very religious the other nearly always is too, no matter how they were brought up."

Can anyone direct me to the studies Pamela writes about?
If religiosity is genetic I think my parents have been keeping something from me. They tried so hard to bring up a god fearing boy.
My earlist recollections are that church was boring and nobody had actually met jesus, yet spoke of him like they had just finished eating breakfast with him.

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 21:56:00 UTC | #43973

ridelo's Avatar Comment 4 by ridelo

Some commentators have gone so far as to label the current crop of atheist books as "dangerous"

Curious, but always as somebody calls a book 'dangerous' I get 'an uncontrollable lust' to read it. Maybe those books should wear a burka. ;-)

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 21:56:00 UTC | #43972

ridelo's Avatar Comment 6 by ridelo

Learned philosophers might disagree, but agnosticism seems to me a sensible enough position.


I agree. If you also accept agnosticism about the existence of Santaclaus and the tooth fairie. Same kind of probability. And if you think I'm wrong, read TGD again.

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 22:11:00 UTC | #43974

Titchfield's Avatar Comment 7 by Titchfield

"Billions of people derive comfort from religious belief, and they should not be denied this. Millions of people also are motivated by their religion to do good works (others find it odd that some people think they need religion in order to be good)."

Rubbish. Billions of people living in the most appalling ignorance and often poverty, does not sound like a comfortable situation to me. Would they not derive comfort from the certain knowledge that having sex with a condom on will not damn them to eternal torture and will in all likelihood improve their quality of life? The fact that billions of people are supposedly believers (many in societies where to admit to being otherwise is to effectively sign your own death warrant) does not mean that they do believe or that their religious beliefs are anything other than an absolute nightmare for them.

As for people being motivated by religion to do good works, that seems increasingly unlikely as we gather more information about the way our brain works. There doesn't seem to be any reason to think that our morals are anything other than an inevitable result of evolution. If you were to take moral guidance from the bible or koran you'd probably seem pretty much like a psychopath these days.

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 22:42:00 UTC | #43977

mmurray's Avatar Comment 8 by mmurray

It is worthwhile following the link below to the comments page. There are some really loony people in my country. Someone who thinks quantum physics can show there is a god of a deist kind. I do know something about quantum physics and this is just rubbish. I did like the one who thought there was a personal god who laughs at their jokes. That's what I need -- my children are growing up and starting to think my jokes are lame.

Michael

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 23:13:00 UTC | #43982

bouwe's Avatar Comment 9 by bouwe

Pamela Bone used to write for the Age (Melbourne paper). Now it seems she has jumped over to work for Murdoch (the Australian). I am relieved to see that this has not affected her considerable journalistic credibility. Then again, Murdoch always likes to get a "token lefty" on board (does Phillip Adams still write for the Australian?), so he can point to them and say "See? It is 'fair and balanced'!!"

My only problem with this article is that by choosing the easy path of calling herself agnostic, she contributes to the continued misunderstanding of the meaning of the word atheist. When you choose to set yourself apart and insist on being defined as "agnostic" it immediately gives rise to the misunderstanding that atheism is a 'belief' or that atheists "claim to prove" that god doesn't exist. Atheism is the result of agnosticism. She understands this, of course. I think if people, for whatever reason, feel that they need to separate themselves from atheists and define themselves in this way then that is fine so long as they point out that atheism is not as mentioned above. As a journalist, she ought to make this point extra clear, because most people think that agnosticism is some "more reasonable in-between" position.


However, I think it is their duty to point out that

Fri, 01 Jun 2007 23:45:00 UTC | #43983

james_the_doubter's Avatar Comment 10 by james_the_doubter

(could someone tell me how to quote instead of cut/paste, please?)

bouwe, you said:
"When you choose to set yourself apart and insist on being defined as "agnostic" it immediately gives rise to the misunderstanding that atheism is a 'belief' or that atheists "claim to prove" that god doesn't exist."

I am new to these discussions, so excuse my ignorance here, but I just read The God Delusion, and I would say that Dawkins has a very strong belief, and does set out to prove that god doesn't exist.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 00:01:00 UTC | #43986

Shuggy's Avatar Comment 11 by Shuggy

2. Comment #46829 by roach on June 1, 2007 at 9:45 pm

I no longer call myself an agnostic ... That fence really started to hurt my ass.
T-shirts coming up!

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 00:11:00 UTC | #43989

Logicel's Avatar Comment 12 by Logicel

Titchfield wrote: Billions of people living in the most appalling ignorance and often poverty, does not sound like a comfortable situation to me.
______

I would suspect that Ms. Bone is interested in eradicating extreme global poverty, and if I am correct in this assumption, then her words are carelessly presented. Otherwise, her article is a welcome addition to positive reviews regarding the current crop of atheist writings. Though I agree with others that her use of agnosticism was also carelessly presented.

Statistics show when poverty and insecurity are lessened, so are religious beliefs. In the light of these statistics, the religious attraction to glorifying poverty and pain--like what that pathetic Mother Teresa did--becomes clear. Do/did missionaries, past and present, actually play(ed) a concrete role in permanently removing the causes of poverty, or did they just offer some slight relief in the form of ministered goods, instead of actually imparting skills, solid education, and essential tools so these poor people and their future generations could steadily erase poverty? In other words, just keep them alive long enough to convert them? What motivation do these missionaries have to really and truly erase global poverty? Poverty is a great boon for their business.

In the case of Mother Teresa, she basically took starving, diseased, dying people who were in great pain, off the streets to let them die indoors on concrete beds, claiming they were better off. In my mind, they were worse off, because they should/could have been given so much more. And that bitch had the resources/publicity to do so. If you go to the trouble of taking them off the street, then please only do that if you can really make a difference. I can imagine desperate people, in great despair and pain, at first, feeling a sense of hope when their plight was finally noticed when they were picked off the street by that bitch's minions, only to rot indoors, instead of out on the street.

As much as the Gates Foundation is criticized for its possible monopoly in the charity field, I think their 'mission' statement is spot on, and I suspect that they will be able to make the world a bit more receptive to atheism by lessening the root problems--like rampant disease and malnutrition--which feed religious beliefs.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 00:19:00 UTC | #43991

ridelo's Avatar Comment 13 by ridelo

To james_the_doubter:
When you're logged in you see [Comment Posting Guidelines] above the comments area. Click there and you'll get all you want about formatting.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 00:23:00 UTC | #43992

Veronique's Avatar Comment 14 by Veronique

I checked out the comments page to the Australian Michael. You are right - a lot of loons. I posted my own comment, reproduced below:

Only 25% of Australians don't believe in god?? I can't accept that. Someone is telling one huge whopper. Unless people are still recording the faith into which their parents had them baptised or christened. Surely that percentage doesn't include the children under 3? And what about our 70,000 Jedis? Even my plumber smiles a little sheepishly and says he only pretends to others that he believes in god; so much for Census stats.

She got the Irish wrong too. As of earlier this year, Ireland reported 12% as not believing in god, up from 1% 30 years ago. Hmmph.

At least she 'suspects' that god is man-made. She's a lot further along the track than numerous others. And while faith has nothing to do with IQ, neither does reason. It helps a little to be sure, to be sure. She just needs to say that she doesn't believe out loud and in print. She wouldn't lose readership and she could bop her editor over the head if he/she demurred.

I would also like to see the studies on identical twins she mentions. I am almost certain that if a child were to be brought up with no contact with the god concept and was taught to look, wonder, marvel and find out about nature, god would never enter into his/her world view.

It's the permeation of religions throughout the cultures that brings it into the focus of children. That's all. Without that, no one today would, or even could, think up such belief structures with all their attendant stories, rules, prohibitions etc. Religions have had so much time to infiltrate culture that they feel entitled to more airtime than they have ever deserved.

Go Michel Onfray – I haven't read his book yet, because some bugger of a friend of mine borrowed it as soon as it arrived. Never mind, Darwin's Dangerous Idea is absorbing me at this point.


Cheers
V

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 00:31:00 UTC | #43995

james_the_doubter's Avatar Comment 15 by james_the_doubter

Thanks, ridelo.

Baeoz,

Yes, I see. I think it's just a mix up with the words "belief" and "faith". No problem.

On another note, I've never seen the contradiction of a good God, and evil in the world. Maybe, I haven't thought it through far enough, but if we have free will, we can choose to do evil things, and a loving God wouldn't squash our choice, because that's not a "good" thing to do.

About the 3 in 1 Trinity... I've always thought about it like an egg.... there's a shell, the egg white, and the yolk. All egg, but different parts.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 00:53:00 UTC | #43997

ridelo's Avatar Comment 16 by ridelo

james_the_doubter, I don't know how old you are but I guess not very old. Try to make your mind a clean slate and act as if you heard the allegations of any religion (also your own) for the first time and evaluate them on their credibility.
But honest! No cheating!

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 01:24:00 UTC | #44000

Spider Baby's Avatar Comment 17 by Spider Baby

The studies - of which there are now many - indicate that a tendency to religiosity is genetically determined; if one twin is very religious the other nearly always is too, no matter how they were brought up.


That is crap. Twin studies show that there is little variation in religious fervour.
That is, if both individuals are religious, they will be equally strongly so. But it is even wrong to call it "religious" fervour - it is more a matter of how strongly, or dogmatically, any belief is held.
There is a good explanation in Matt Ridley's "Nature Via Nurture".

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 02:02:00 UTC | #44001

John Phillips's Avatar Comment 18 by John Phillips

James_The_Doubter: RD doesn't try to prove that god doesn't exist, he simply looks at the evidence for one and finds none. Much as we could look at the evidence for the tooth fairy, Father Xmas, Zeus or a myriad other gods I imagine you are an atheist about. However, and here I have the same attitude as him, as scientists we can never prove a negative so must accept that there is a very small possibility (a vanishingly small one on the evidence so far, i.e. none) that one day we will find evidence for a god. In which case, as scientists, we will look at it and if it meets the type of standards a scientist expects of evidence we will accept that there is a god. Now some will argue that as we allow for however infinitesimally small a possibility that there could be a god then we should really call ourselves agnostics. However, due to the total lack of evidence so far, we see the possibility of there being a god as being so infinitesimally small as to be effectively so close to zero as to make no difference and so atheist is actually a more accurate label. To put it another way, if you wanted to split hairs, you could call us probability atheists, i.e. considering the total lack of evidence so far there is an overwhelming probability that there is no god. No belief or faith required, simply an analysis of the non existent evidence.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 02:05:00 UTC | #44002

Veronique's Avatar Comment 19 by Veronique

James the Doubter

Click on the 'atheist help and resources' at the left hand top of this page. I only read the entries a week or so ago, and I was filled with utter compassion for the posters there. It must be such a hard road.

Take care friend
V

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 02:29:00 UTC | #44006

Logicel's Avatar Comment 20 by Logicel

About the 3 in 1 Trinity... I've always thought about it like an egg.... there's a shell, the egg white, and the yolk. All egg, but different parts.
_____

Cute explanation, but does the eggshell in its separateness go around hurling locusts at recalcitrant kings? Does the egg white go separately prancing about and impregnating virgins? Do yolks separately go about sacrificing themselves on the cross in order to redeem human souls?

No, they don't. They all stay together and contribute to the development of a real creature, perhaps a chicken or a sparrow.

Remember, there is no concrete evidence for the supernatural--use that handle as a lodestone, to anchor yourself to a bedrock of logic and rationality while doubting your faith.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 02:55:00 UTC | #44008

Logicel's Avatar Comment 21 by Logicel

Some Christians also haggle themselves out of that annoying clash of their supposed free will and the omniscience of their deity with the interpretation that though God may know what they will do and decide, they, the believers do not, that is they are not let into the God game/plan, therefore they do essentially have free will.

My brain hurts.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 03:01:00 UTC | #44009

Tuneful MacSingalong's Avatar Comment 22 by Tuneful MacSingalong

The level of doublethink required of religous people is often astounding. It certainly makes my brain hurt too...

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 03:14:00 UTC | #44012

Russell Blackford's Avatar Comment 23 by Russell Blackford

I don't think the egg explanation is very orthodox. The yolk, white, and shell are all merely parts of the egg. I think you'll find that the idea that Big Daddy God, God Junior, and Spook are parts of God is not accepted by theologians. After all, it implies that they could be separated, like when you make a meringue with the white, put the yolk in a quiche or maybe feed it to the cat, and crush the shell into your compost. A belief like that probably would have got you burned at the stake not that many centuries ago.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 03:16:00 UTC | #44013

jaytee_555's Avatar Comment 24 by jaytee_555

Hey, Shuggy!

I know most Christians think of and portray Jesus as a white European person, but your avatar shows that your PINK unicorn also seems to have undergone a laundering process!

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 03:32:00 UTC | #44015

Luthien's Avatar Comment 25 by Luthien

4. Comment #46832 by james_the_doubter on June 1, 2007 at 10:02 pm

Yup, yup, yup... I found myself agreeing with almost all of that.

To quote:
"The studies - of which there are now many - indicate that a tendency to religiosity is genetically determined; if one twin is very religious the other nearly always is too, no matter how they were brought up. For believers, such studies should raise a confronting question: why would an all-loving God create some of his people without the capacity for believing in him, and then, according to scriptures, send them to eternal hellfire for not believing in him?"

As a Christian, I have been quietly wondering the same thing for years.


A similar situation that I have put to a few christian friends is the question of homosexuality. There is now clear evidence of what gay people have been saying for years, that there is no "choice" in this supposed "lifestyle choice", because it was determined by your genes and hormone levels during foetal development. It simply doesn't make sense to me that a loving god would deliberately make people that were by his own laws destined for eternal torture.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 04:15:00 UTC | #44022

Luthien's Avatar Comment 26 by Luthien

I would also be interested to hear about those twin studies, as I was asking in another thread (a few days ago) if anyone knew of a twin study for religiousness.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 04:17:00 UTC | #44023

LeeLeeOne's Avatar Comment 27 by LeeLeeOne

"The studies - of which there are now many - indicate that a tendency to religiosity is genetically determined; if one twin is very religious the other nearly always is too, no matter how they were brought up."

In my family, statistically, we fall through the cracks, having been raised from birth through adulthood in the same home with the same parents. Me: an anti-theist, my twin: a devout xtian.

I always find it quite interesting that people use "studies/statistics" in their discussions; studies which can be and are manipulated either consciously or unconsciously by the interpreter. "Statistics show…" "Studies show…" Understanding that no study is 100% accurate because of the thousands of variables, but the biases of the statisticians themselves never seem to be taken into account (or are they? I am not a statistician, so I don't know). Do studies/statistics really prove/disprove their position?

Out of curiosity, does anyone know if there is a computer program that can morph itself (i.e., a self-educating program) to be rid of human biases in order to interpret the bottom line in any study?

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 04:45:00 UTC | #44029

SMART's Avatar Comment 28 by SMART

"Religion is not going to die out soon no matter how educated people become,"

Oh yes it is... in the civilised world anyway.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 05:03:00 UTC | #44031

DaveK's Avatar Comment 29 by DaveK

Agnosticism is logically impregnable but boring.
Atheism is logically indefensible but interesting.

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 05:52:00 UTC | #44035

Logicel's Avatar Comment 30 by Logicel

Baeoz wrote: Can I get an Amen?
____

Of course not, but you are welcome to a loud and resounding: RAmen! As the church of the FSM is the only true religion as we all know.

This discussion on the three-in-one deal that the Christian God makes available to their minions reminds me of a comment written by a Christian at this site, that essentially it was cool that Christians get triple value for their investment. Of course, I had to mention that I believe in Joe Pesci as George Carlin does, and that since Pesci has created around 40 film characters, I am getting a better value deal.

Anyway, bitbutter has designed a quite visually attractive website and invited several of us from this site to contribute to answering questions posed to atheists. Hopefully, there is no good reason why bitbutter has failed to emblazon the url here, but being the loud, brash, native New Yorker that I am, here goes:

http://www.asktheatheists.com/questions

Sat, 02 Jun 2007 06:18:00 UTC | #44039