‘Atheist’ is an overused term.
Posted: 05 September 2011 02:28 AM   [ Ignore ]
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To possibly start a discussion . . .

‘Atheist’ specifically seems to me to be misused when talking about anything that doesn’t have anything specifically to do with believing in a god. Thus, when someone asks me something like:

“As an atheist, how do you justify your morality?”

I respond:

“As an atheist, I don’t. Atheism has nothing to do with anything except theism. My moral grounding is what I like to call empathetic consequentialism.”

And et cetera.

I’ve noticed that in lots of online discussions along these lines, people tend to confuse the term - including atheists, and use it to mean what it doesn’t actually mean.

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Posted: 05 September 2011 05:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I see your point, but I think questions like the one you mention are based on certain widespread, if implicit, assumptions. E.g., “One must base one’s morality on God, so as an atheist, how do you justify your morality?”

When you say, “As an atheist, I don’t” you may be playing into the further assumption they have about atheists, viz., that they have no moral compass.

It may help just to reply by denying the former assumption. When they ask, “As an atheist, how do you justify your morality?” begin by responding, “One cannot base one’s morality on God, so I justify my morality the way anyone else does, by moral reasoning and intuition.”

Many will persist in the delusion that they get their morality from the Bible. A few choice Biblical examples can demonstrate the fallaciousness of that claim.

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Posted: 05 September 2011 08:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Can you base your morality on nature?..........

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Posted: 05 September 2011 08:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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philo deist - 05 September 2011 08:04 AM

Can you base your morality on nature?..........

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolution_of_morality

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Posted: 05 September 2011 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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From where or what does an atheist base their morality on?............Is DougSmith correct?......what if your reasoning is skewed?...........

[ Edited: 05 September 2011 09:40 AM by philo deist ]
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Posted: 05 September 2011 10:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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dougsmith - 05 September 2011 05:25 AM

I see your point, but I think questions like the one you mention are based on certain widespread, if implicit, assumptions. E.g., “One must base one’s morality on God, so as an atheist, how do you justify your morality?”

When you say, “As an atheist, I don’t” you may be playing into the further assumption they have about atheists, viz., that they have no moral compass.

It may help just to reply by denying the former assumption. When they ask, “As an atheist, how do you justify your morality?” begin by responding, “One cannot base one’s morality on God, so I justify my morality the way anyone else does, by moral reasoning and intuition.”

Many will persist in the delusion that they get their morality from the Bible. A few choice Biblical examples can demonstrate the fallaciousness of that claim.

Yes, that’s essentially what I’m griping about. It’s a definition error, and people need to be clear about what they’re talking about.

philo deist - 05 September 2011 09:38 AM

From where or what does an atheist base their morality on?............Is DougSmith correct?......what if your reasoning is skewed?...........

This is part of my exact point. Any given atheist can base their morality on a number of things; being atheist in of itself doesn’t mean anything morally one way or the other - except for the rejection of theism, which depending on how one looks at, might be a moral choice.

It’s essentially the same as asking:

“As an atheist, do you cheer for the Cubs or the White Sox?”

I may cheer for one or the other or both, but any atheism I might have has nothing to do with it.

[ Edited: 05 September 2011 10:07 AM by TromboneAndrew ]
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Posted: 05 September 2011 10:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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philo deist - 05 September 2011 09:38 AM

From where or what does an atheist base their morality on?............Is DougSmith correct?......what if your reasoning is skewed?...........

You can certainly reason that morality is based on nature, or that it’s based on consequences of your actions, or that it’s based on the very meaning of the term “person”, or that it’s based on a few choice words from the Bible, etc. But all of these are basically examples of engaging in moral reasoning.

Of course, any such reasoning (like any reasoning at all) is open to challenge and argument.

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Posted: 06 September 2011 11:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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philo deist - 05 September 2011 09:38 AM

From where or what does an atheist base their morality on?............Is DougSmith correct?......what if your reasoning is skewed?...........

What if scripture is skewed? There is no difference in authority.

[ Edited: 06 September 2011 11:40 PM by Write4U ]
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