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Secular Ten Commandments
Posted: 29 March 2013 07:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Thevillageatheist - 29 March 2013 12:17 PM

The problem is in calling them commandments.  Who’s doing the commanding?  We should be able to agree on certain human behaviors making society better for all of us without “commanding” them.

Using the term “commandments” IMO was meant as a reference to the biblical Mosiac code and not as a set of strictures for an atheist to live by. They are an alternative list but anyone can create his/her own list at will. I don’t have to live your way nor do you have to live mine, except under the law of the land. BTW, it’s ludicrous to think that we can all agree on certain human behaviors. Look to this forum as an example. Personally I don’t have any problem with any of them but I’ll form my own"truths” and so will you.

LL.  I realize why they used the term “commandments.” I simply think its a bad term for an atheist to use.  Why use their nomenclature? We might as well talk about atheists’ god or atheists’ bible. IMO we should be trying to get away from religious terms and ideas.  Using them gives them credibility, and they have no credibility.

LL.


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Posted: 29 March 2013 07:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Occam. - 29 March 2013 04:37 PM

I agree with Lois.  Let’s call them suggestions.  As far as #1. being in the negative, I suggest: Do unto others as they would wish you to.  I can’t understand how so many people think that what they want is the same as what others want.

And, similarly, it seems that my response of “Why should I?” to #10 doesn’t seem to be understood.

Occam

Or we could call them principles that many atheists agree to.  “Suggestions” also implies a suggester.

Lois

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Posted: 29 March 2013 09:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I give up. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOaCD_JNgkA

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I cannot in good conscience support CFI under the current leadership. I am here in dissent and in support of a Humanism that honors and respects everyone.

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Posted: 30 March 2013 04:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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PLaClair,

Thanks for your elaborate answer on my question.

PLaClair - 29 March 2013 02:34 PM

George’s formulation is missing the action component.

I agree with this, but on first sight I am missing this in your formulation too; until I read a little about Dewey (as you referred to him in another posting above). I recognise your use of concepts is building very strong on Dewey’s ideas. Those who do not know anything about him might be lightly confused when you use his terminology without explaining. I am glad you did here.

I think I understand both of you (but maybe I am wrong in believing that…). It seems I take some kind of middle position. I understand George’s allergy against ‘Faith’, especially if you write it with capital ‘F’. A long time ago you and me already had a discussion about it. The concept of ‘Faith’ suggests some fixed body of values and rules, and such a body of ideas always has the risk of dividing people along the lines of those who (think they) follow them, and those that don’t, and are therefore ‘dissidents’ (‘heretics’ in relation to traditional religions). Depending on how groups are organised around such a body of ideas, it might lead to inclusion and exclusion of people (not necessarily leads to).

On the other hand, I see that if we would like to live in a humane society, we somehow must believe in humanistic ideals, and try to act according to them. The problem with traditional religions is that they (if they try at all) build their value systems on supernatural metaphysics, and that often this metaphysics becomes more important than the values they are supposed to support. Now I think science is not a source of values: science itself is based on values, just look in your ‘commandments’ or in those of garythehuman (‘Seek and live by truth’, ‘Always seek to be learning something new.’, ‘Test all things; always check your ideas against the facts, and be ready to discard even a cherished belief if it does not conform to them’, ‘Form independent opinions on the basis of your own reason and experience; do not allow yourself to be led blindly by others’). George sticks to values behind science alone, for reasons I do not understand. Truth matters, humaneness doesn’t. (At least theoretically. I am pretty sure that in reality George is not inhumane at all.) But humaneness and striving for truth are both values, and its obvious that you strive for both.

If you criticise others for being allergic to concepts of ‘Faith’, ‘spirituality’ and others, then I would say to you that you possibly love those concepts too much. You should know by now about the reactions that such words cause. So if you would like to argue for your position you might try to do without, even if for you those concepts express for you so perfectly what you mean. I think it is just a question of strategy, not of content.

As a personal note: you probably know I am practicing Zen meditation. I also notice that it is difficult to explain how I can declare myself ‘religious’, without believing in anything supernatural (God, soul, miracles). For me Zen is a method, not just to know that I am a function of my bodily processes, but to actually live from this realisation and develop an ethical stance from this, to strive for humaneness, and not to fall into nihilism. The awe and wonder about the universe one gets via science is one great source for support, the realisation that we are very precious in this universe another, and that we all feel better if we treat another humane a third. The believe that we can increase humaneness, and we should actively try to promote it, is probably what you mean with ‘Faith’?

[ Edited: 30 March 2013 04:29 AM by GdB ]
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Posted: 30 March 2013 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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LL.  I realize why they used the term “commandments.” I simply think its a bad term for an atheist to use.  Why use their nomenclature? We might as well talk about atheists’ god or atheists’ bible. IMO we should be trying to get away from religious terms and ideas.  Using them gives them credibility, and they have no credibility.

We’re arguing semantics Lois. And I don’t believe we have to either dance around or avoid using religious terms at all if they’re used to clarify a point, e.g. I have mentioned that Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” is the bible of capitalism and Marx’s Manifesto is the bible of communism. It’s a manner of expression and the meaning is inherent. I’m not lending credence to the xtian bible. Atheists may utilize any religious expressions to make a particular point. I personally don’t see a need to purge xtian expressions from the atheist lexicon. After all we’re surrounded by people of faith and need to communicate with them. We don’t live in an atheist vacuum, at least I don’t. There are five of us in this village and religious terminology is part of everyone’s conversation from a “bless you” after a sneeze to a “I pray for the end of Winter”. It’s conversational and not especially meant to promote religion or lend credence to their belief system. Many of us who had religious backgrounds still use these expressions in everyday speech. It’s not the words I object to but religion and the hypocracy that accompanies it. That plus rejecting the supernatural nonsense. But that doesn’t stop me from reading Shakespeare, who incorporated thousands of religious allusions in his plays, or Thoreau one of my favorite American writers for that matter, and I don’t see that using these expressions lends any credibility to religion. It’s just a traditional method of expression. In all probability it will wither away to be replaced by a more modern methods of expression. After all, if a language doesn’t change it dies, and when people move away from their faith the words will be replaced with new forms.


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Posted: 30 March 2013 06:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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GdB, my thanks to you.

When the word “faith” is used, many people think first of the definitions offered by the dominant religions. However, I used the dreaded f-word to refer to a Faith in the human capacity to bring about a better and more sustainable world. In that context, it seems apparent that I am not using the word to connote a fixed body of values and rules. (You understand this, as your concluding paragraph makes clear.)

In the face of that dissonance, the reader can choose how to respond. He can absolutely insist that I do not mean what I mean; that I must mean what the word means to him. This is what George has done, but all he’s really doing is revealing that he’s not listening.

The reader could say, “Hey, LaClair, what’s with that capital ‘F’?” I would then respond that I capitalize the word to refer to Faith as one of life’s great creative forces. One definition of Faith is “taking the first step even though you can’t see the whole staircase.” I have two favorite definitions: “Acting for good even though we have no guarantee that good will result from our actions” and “Acting to open life’s possibilities.” Humanism celebrates the 18th Century European Enlightenment, as it should, with its awareness of the importance of reason. However, it is essential that we understand not only the power of reason but also its limits. For example, we cannot merely reason our way to a cure for cancer; our scientists will have to conduct trials and experiments, perhaps uncovering one bit of information at a time, often failing to learn anything new for years or decades at a time, and then maybe we will have a cure or improved treatments. Obviously, this process is compatible with reason but it also recognizes the importance of motivation and desire in propelling human progress. It also relies on reason but not entirely: this is a crucial piece of human Being that I think many of our members miss, and even deny. By no means would I insist that anyone else capitalize the “F.” But then, why should I be challenged on it? If someone doesn’t understand why I did it, the best way to find out is to ask me.

I respectfully suggest that an allergy to a word like F/faith is incompatible with reason, and therefore is antithetical to Humanism. (You don’t have to capitalize that either.) The word “faith” is culturally important, and if we hope to make a difference in our own culture, we need to know how to treat it. My approach is not the only one. But I do maintain that George’s approach is unreasoned, untenable and counterproductive.

To your concluding note, I see no difficulty in your explanation why you consider yourself to be religious. Most people wouldn’t, except for two groups: hard-line fundamentalists who insist that theirs is the only religion and hard-line atheists who insist that there is no good in religion. The reason I am not willing to back down in order to be more easily understood by hard-liners is that I’m probably not going to get through to either of those groups anyway; I prefer to write authentically and let those who are open to what I have to say receive it and process it in good will. I have found that when people do that, they don’t have much difficulty understanding me. Some people may not follow every twist and turn along my mental path but that’s not a function of my using a particular word. Were I not to use the word “Faith” as I use it, I would be less able to communicate.

[ Edited: 30 March 2013 06:16 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 30 March 2013 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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The only time I can think of faith having any positive value is when we don’t have enough time or sufficinet information to learn about a certan thing. For example, if I ended up on an island where all the flora is completely unknown to me, it would be advisible to have some faith, believing that the plant I am about to eat is not poisenous. In my daily life, however, I don’t need faith to know that strawberries won’t kill me.

We now live in times when we have a way of figuring things out: science. We can (and should) now study how and why people behave a certain way and even if we get only partial information on a certain question, it still beats acting out of faith. Give me one concrete example when faith surpasses or adds anything to science.

Do you still think it was a good idea to have faith that everyone is equal and therefore deserves to own a house, including those who couldn’t come up with a few thousands dollars for a down payment?

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Posted: 30 March 2013 08:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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George - 30 March 2013 08:12 AM

The only time I can think of faith having any positive value is when we don’t have enough time or sufficinet information to learn about a certan thing. For example, if I ended up on an island where all the flora is completely unknown to me, it would be advisible to have some faith, believing that the plant I am about to eat is not poisenous. In my daily life, however, I don’t need faith to know that strawberries won’t kill me.

We now live in times when we have a way of figuring things out: science. We can (and should) now study how and why people behave a certain way and even if we get only partial information on a certain question, it still beats acting out of faith. Give me one concrete example when faith surpasses or adds anything to science.

Do you still think it was a good idea to have faith that everyone is equal and therefore deserves to own a house, including those who couldn’t come up with a few thousands dollars for a down payment?

I agree with those principles but I wouldn’t say I have faith in them. To me, they are reasonable expectations and ideals.

I realize that I may be somewhat out of the mainstream regarding language. I’ve been a student of the Enlish language nearly all my life and I like to keep it clear, say what I mean and avoid as many ambiguous statements and words as I can.  Of course I know exactly what an atheist means when he says he has faith or that he believes in something, but a lot of other people don’t, and that’s the problem.  I try to at least keep my own use of the language as understandable as possible to the largest number of people, which, of course, means people of faith. I can’t tell you the number of people who have heard an atheist say ” I believe in . . . ” respond with,  “Aha, see, you DO believe in something!” I usually try to avoid getting into long conversations with believers about what belief really means. It tends to be unproductive and their minds are made up.

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Posted: 30 March 2013 11:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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George - 30 March 2013 08:12 AM

The only time I can think of faith having any positive value is when we don’t have enough time or sufficinet information to learn about a certan thing. For example, if I ended up on an island where all the flora is completely unknown to me, it would be advisible to have some faith, believing that the plant I am about to eat is not poisenous. In my daily life, however, I don’t need faith to know that strawberries won’t kill me.

We now live in times when we have a way of figuring things out: science. We can (and should) now study how and why people behave a certain way and even if we get only partial information on a certain question, it still beats acting out of faith. Give me one concrete example when faith surpasses or adds anything to science.

Do you still think it was a good idea to have faith that everyone is equal and therefore deserves to own a house, including those who couldn’t come up with a few thousands dollars for a down payment?

So in other words, George, you don’t see much use for Faith in your everyday life but you would turn to it in your darkest hour when it was your only hope of survival.

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Posted: 30 March 2013 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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Of course. Having faith that one of the unknown plants won’t kill me beats the certainity of starving to death. What’s your point?

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Posted: 30 March 2013 12:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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My point is that it’s ridiculous to disparage everything you associate with religion, including faith, then say you would turn to it in your darkest hour to save your life. You’re walking straight into the theists’ Sunday punch. You’ve heard the line about no atheists in foxholes, right? And how many of us have to debunk that nonsense, only to have you come along and tell the theists that they’re right. Seriously, you don’t see it?

Might as well expand on the point. You’ve admitted that there is a role for Faith in your life, at least potentially. So the difference between us is that I see Faith as an everyday matter, while you would reserve it for emergencies only. Why shouldn’t the faith communities call that hypocrisy? At best from your perspective, this is a difference in how we approach life (e.g., is the glass half empty or half full?). You’re not only saying that a negative approach to life is better than a positive approach, you’re saying you don’t like a positive approach, and more than that, you oppose it!

I would agree with you to the extent that optimism and its cousins lead to dysfunctional delusional thinking. If you see me doing that, let me know. Meanwhile, I’ll point out to you that negativity can as easily lead to delusion as optimism can; the difference is that negativity shuts down action, and inherently diminishes human productivity. You tried to point out one example having to do with public policy but I have no idea why you think I’ve ever taken such a position as in the straw man you set up.

The reason I get very much into a twist over this is that F/faith is a human construct. It is what we say it is, and ideas of F/faith vary over time and across cultures. I could understand if I was offering an idiosyncratic definition but I’m not. “Faith is taking the first step, even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” You can’t get more mainstream than that. What you want to do, apparently, is tilt at every windmill you can find that has any word you associate with religion written on it. For what? It’s unnecessary, because being associated with religion doesn’t necessary mean that something is theistic or supernaturalistic. What’s worse, the future you seem to paint is a fantasy. You might as well believe in an afterlife as imagine that you’re going to talk people out of living with Faith. And if you ever did succeed, we’d all be screwed because people would spend their time worrying about the fate that was about to befall them, instead of putting one foot in front of the other, even though there was no guarantee they would end up in a good place. Honestly, George, sometimes I think you’re just goofing with me.

[ Edited: 30 March 2013 12:39 PM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 30 March 2013 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Definitely more relevant than the biblical ideas. I don’t need to be told not to murder. If we could just try to treat others as we would want to be treated—the golden rule, then we won’t need to be told things like, “don’t murder”; we won’t discriminate against others and practice bigotry.

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Posted: 30 March 2013 05:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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You really think that having faith in the plant not being harmful is the same thing as turning to God in time of despair?

And you are not an optimist. An optimists is somebody who believes he can eat the plant. You are an ideologist. Big difference.

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Posted: 30 March 2013 07:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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As I said, George, you’re not listening at all. I’ve laid out my conception of Faith very clearly. It has nothing to do with turning to “God.” You’re willing to acknowledge that Faith can be seen in that way - in fact, you’re willing to see it that way yourself - but then a moment later you’re right back into your theistic definition, as though you hadn’t made the concession. You’re just reacting to the word, and yet . . .

. . . simultaneously you acknowledge that faith does not mean the same thing in every context. That is precisely the point I’ve been making to you for years, and you’ve been ignoring it, insisting that faith connotes belief in a god or gods. So, now that we’re in agreement that faith doesn’t necessarily mean that, could you please stop assuming what you’ve now admitted isn’t true, so we can move on and have productive discussions that advance our common causes?

[ Edited: 31 March 2013 04:01 AM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 31 March 2013 04:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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George - 30 March 2013 08:12 AM

We now live in times when we have a way of figuring things out: science. We can (and should) now study how and why people behave a certain way and even if we get only partial information on a certain question, it still beats acting out of faith. Give me one concrete example when faith surpasses or adds anything to science.

It is obvious that your position is ideological, George: it is called scientism. It is to have exaggerate faith in science. There are three kinds:
- believing that science should be the source of our values
- believing that values are non-scientific, and therefore worthless
- believing that only science has the potential to solve our problems

In reality of course science is ‘just’ the best method we have to find objective truths about facts.

Scientism was extensively discussed in this thread.

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