1 of 5
1
Top-down study of beliefs
Posted: 15 June 2013 08:46 AM   [ Ignore ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  81
Joined  2013-06-01

The discussion about definition of an atheist gave me this idea.  When studying beliefs such as Christianity, atheism, agnosticism, etc. maybe we should ignore the details of beliefs and simply study the implications on behavior, mental health, etc?  For example, we might take some ideal atheists, ideal Christians, ideal Buddhists, etc. and measure various parameters - physical health, income, criminal background, whatever.

So for example, the definition of atheist becomes: a person whose parameters match the ideal atheist (as opposed to claiming to believe or not believe something).

This is analogous to the gender-identity tests where a person can be biologically one gender and behaviorally the other gender.

[ Edited: 15 June 2013 09:01 AM by ufo-buff ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2013 06:45 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  623
Joined  2013-06-01

You got me, what is the ideal atheist?
For me it would be the Gnostic Jesus.
But I don’t think to many people will agree with me.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2013 08:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1412
Joined  2010-04-22

How do you define “ideal Atheist” or “ideal Buddhist” while ignoring the details of their beliefs?

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 15 June 2013 11:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2602
Joined  2012-10-27
ufo-buff - 15 June 2013 08:46 AM

The discussion about definition of an atheist gave me this idea.  When studying beliefs such as Christianity, atheism, agnosticism, etc. maybe we should ignore the details of beliefs and simply study the implications on behavior, mental health, etc?  For example, we might take some ideal atheists, ideal Christians, ideal Buddhists, etc. and measure various parameters - physical health, income, criminal background, whatever.

So for example, the definition of atheist becomes: a person whose parameters match the ideal atheist (as opposed to claiming to believe or not believe something).

This is analogous to the gender-identity tests where a person can be biologically one gender and behaviorally the other gender.

What beliefs do you think an atheist has, ideal or otherwise?

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 05:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  81
Joined  2013-06-01
Mike Yohe - 15 June 2013 06:45 PM

You got me, what is the ideal atheist?
For me it would be the Gnostic Jesus.
But I don’t think to many people will agree with me.

That’s an interesting idea.  I don’t know how you define the Gnostic Jesus.  I’ve been reading “Early Christianity” by Geza Vermes.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  81
Joined  2013-06-01
TromboneAndrew - 15 June 2013 08:47 PM

How do you define “ideal Atheist” or “ideal Buddhist” while ignoring the details of their beliefs?

If we can’t find any measurable differences that result from a belief then I would argue that it isn’t very important.

Here is an example: Atheists believe that death is the end.  Muslims believe they will be judged after death.  We should be able to study terminally ill people and see a difference in the behavior of atheists and Muslims - particularly if they are ideals of their philosophy/religion.  These are the types of things we could measure to understand beliefs top-down.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 05:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  81
Joined  2013-06-01
Lois - 15 June 2013 11:09 PM

What beliefs do you think an atheist has, ideal or otherwise?

Lois

From a top-down view the beliefs inside the mind are not important.  We should treat the mind as a black box and only look at the behavior of that ideal believer versus other types of ideal believers.  In other words we don’t care what the atheist claims to believe or not believe.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 06:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2602
Joined  2012-10-27
ufo-buff - 16 June 2013 05:46 AM
Lois - 15 June 2013 11:09 PM

What beliefs do you think an atheist has, ideal or otherwise?

Lois

From a top-down view the beliefs inside the mind are not important.  We should treat the mind as a black box and only look at the behavior of that ideal believer versus other types of ideal believers.  In other words we don’t care what the atheist claims to believe or not believe.

Then all atheists who do not believe in impossible things and exhibit intelligence and human compassion are ideal atheists.  It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.


Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 07:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  81
Joined  2013-06-01
Lois - 16 June 2013 06:04 AM

Then all atheists who do not believe in impossible things and exhibit intelligence and human compassion are ideal atheists.  It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.


Lois

I’m not sure if human compassion should be a factor.  My image of an ideal atheist would be an atheist from birth who has had minimal exposure to religious culture (maybe raised in the Soviet Union).  We could collect those people into a sample and try to find common behaviors that contrast with behaviors of ideal Christians/Muslims/Buddhists/...  Then we could use those behaviors as indicators of atheism.

Probably using the word “ideal” is confusing.  “Pure” might be a better word.

[ Edited: 16 June 2013 07:35 AM by ufo-buff ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 09:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2602
Joined  2012-10-27
ufo-buff - 16 June 2013 07:23 AM
Lois - 16 June 2013 06:04 AM

Then all atheists who do not believe in impossible things and exhibit intelligence and human compassion are ideal atheists.  It doesn’t have to be more complicated than that.


Lois

I’m not sure if human compassion should be a factor.  My image of an ideal atheist would be an atheist from birth who has had minimal exposure to religious culture (maybe raised in the Soviet Union).  We could collect those people into a sample and try to find common behaviors that contrast with behaviors of ideal Christians/Muslims/Buddhists/...  Then we could use those behaviors as indicators of atheism.

Probably using the word “ideal” is confusing.  “Pure” might be a better word.

I don’t know.  Isn’t everyone’s lack of belief in a deity pure? I don’t think atheism has qualifiers. You are either an atheist or you’re not. What else is there?

Lois

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 10:11 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  81
Joined  2013-06-01
Lois - 16 June 2013 09:06 AM

I don’t know.  Isn’t everyone’s lack of belief in a deity pure? I don’t think atheism has qualifiers. You are either an atheist or you’re not. What else is there?

Lois

You’re modeling your brain as a consistent, organized, machine containing a toggle switch labeled “atheist”.

In my own case I am both an atheist and a Christian and many other things.  I’m not undecided; I’m multiple different people occupying the same brain and body.  Actually I tried to explain this idea on another forum, and I was surprised that nobody seemed to agree.  But I think everybody is really this way a little, and they don’t realize it.

Maybe a computer analogy would help.  A person grows up in a Christian household so they have a Christian OS, Christian device drivers, Christian applications, and hard disk full of Christian files.  Now the dominant application is replaced by an atheist version, but the OS, device drivers, and files are still Christian versions.  A pure atheist is the computer that has never had anything except atheism installed and has had minimal contact with non-atheist computers.

[ Edited: 16 June 2013 10:34 AM by ufo-buff ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1412
Joined  2010-04-22
ufo-buff - 16 June 2013 05:46 AM

From a top-down view the beliefs inside the mind are not important.  We should treat the mind as a black box and only look at the behavior of that ideal believer versus other types of ideal believers.  In other words we don’t care what the atheist claims to believe or not believe.

It sounds like you want to study some effects based on self-reported belief categories. I don’t see any other way to do what you want, because what may be an “ideal Taoist” or any other ideal belief system changes over time.

 Signature 

“All musicians are subconsciously mathematicians.”

- Thelonious Monk

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 12:07 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  9301
Joined  2006-08-29
ufo-buff - 16 June 2013 05:19 AM

Here is an example: Atheists believe that death is the end.

No, atheists believe that God doesn’t exist. I know many atheists think that life goes on after death.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 01:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  81
Joined  2013-06-01
TromboneAndrew - 16 June 2013 11:48 AM
ufo-buff - 16 June 2013 05:46 AM

From a top-down view the beliefs inside the mind are not important.  We should treat the mind as a black box and only look at the behavior of that ideal believer versus other types of ideal believers.  In other words we don’t care what the atheist claims to believe or not believe.

It sounds like you want to study some effects based on self-reported belief categories. I don’t see any other way to do what you want, because what may be an “ideal Taoist” or any other ideal belief system changes over time.

Yes, I think that’s a good summary.  I’m curious how these beliefs like atheism, Christianity, etc. affect behavior.  I have a suspicion that belief is not a significant factor in practical behavior and moral choices in most cases.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 01:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Jr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  81
Joined  2013-06-01
George - 16 June 2013 12:07 PM
ufo-buff - 16 June 2013 05:19 AM

Here is an example: Atheists believe that death is the end.

No, atheists believe that God doesn’t exist. I know many atheists think that life goes on after death.

Well that’s a new one.  I think they are being a little bit inconsistent to reject a belief in God due to lack of evidence and continue to believe in some sort of life after death.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 16 June 2013 01:12 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  623
Joined  2013-06-01

Could the Hindu and Buddha fall in that category?

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 5
1