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Can Atheism be seen as an intellectual luxury for the wealthy?
Posted: 30 December 2013 08:30 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Here’s an interesting opinion piece. What do you make of it?

The people who challenged my atheism most were drug addicts and prostitutes
I’ve been reminded that life is not as rational as Richard Dawkins sees it. Perhaps atheism is an intellectual luxury for the wealthy.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/24/atheism-richard-dawkins-challenge-beliefs-homeless

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Posted: 30 December 2013 08:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Buddhism can be seen as a kind of atheism. It certainly has no gods and it certainly isn’t for the wealthy, despite its popularity in certain middle classes.

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Posted: 30 December 2013 11:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I think it’s a silly statement, but we can see some correlations.  First, atheism requires reasoning to eliminate the concept of a god.  Second, reasoning requires intelligence, and I would guess that it could be shown that there’s a correlation between superiority of reasoning ability and intelligence.  Third, there is a definite, but certainly not complete, correlation between intelligence and financial level.  I do not see it as a luxury, but rather, in the long term, a necessity.

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Posted: 30 December 2013 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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jomper - 30 December 2013 08:43 AM

Buddhism can be seen as a kind of atheism. It certainly has no gods and it certainly isn’t for the wealthy, despite its popularity in certain middle classes.

Some forms of Buddhism have many gods.  Even the most atheistic type has a definite supernatural foundation. It would not appeal to rationalists and critical thinkers.

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Posted: 30 December 2013 12:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Lois - 30 December 2013 12:01 PM
jomper - 30 December 2013 08:43 AM

Buddhism can be seen as a kind of atheism. It certainly has no gods and it certainly isn’t for the wealthy, despite its popularity in certain middle classes.

Some forms of Buddhism have many gods.  Even the most atheistic type has a definite supernatural foundation. It would not appeal to rationalists and critical thinkers.

That’s quite a sweeping statement. Religion in general won’t appeal to rationalists, but critical thinkers can have faith: Newton was a huge believer (and not just in God) but it didn’t stop him from thinking critically and scientifically about physics.

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Posted: 30 December 2013 06:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Damn, my memory is going.  There’s a very clear psychological term for this phenomenon, of having two separate idea groups that are quite thoroughly at odds with each other, but the reasoning of neither is accessible to the other.  Newton was a brilliant scientist, but his very early training inculcated the ideas of theism in areas of his thinking that were not accessible to his reason and critical thinking. 

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Posted: 30 December 2013 10:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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jomper - 30 December 2013 12:09 PM
Lois - 30 December 2013 12:01 PM
jomper - 30 December 2013 08:43 AM

Buddhism can be seen as a kind of atheism. It certainly has no gods and it certainly isn’t for the wealthy, despite its popularity in certain middle classes.

Some forms of Buddhism have many gods.  Even the most atheistic type has a definite supernatural foundation. It would not appeal to rationalists and critical thinkers.

That’s quite a sweeping statement. Religion in general won’t appeal to rationalists, but critical thinkers can have faith: Newton was a huge believer (and not just in God) but it didn’t stop him from thinking critically and scientifically about physics.

A lot of people will compromise their standards for emotional reasons. They just can’t bring themselves to make the break. They will try any kind if convoluted way to hang onto some kind of “faith,” even if they claim to have no faith in a god.  IMO, it’s completely unnecessary, irrational and destructive in the long run. But, to each his own.

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Posted: 30 December 2013 11:02 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Occam. - 30 December 2013 06:14 PM

Damn, my memory is going.  There’s a very clear psychological term for this phenomenon, of having two separate idea groups that are quite thoroughly at odds with each other, but the reasoning of neither is accessible to the other.  Newton was a brilliant scientist, but his very early training inculcated the ideas of theism in areas of his thinking that were not accessible to his reason and critical thinking. 

Occam

Newton was certainly a product of his time, his society and his upbringing.  If he lived today where atheism is accepted, I have no doubt that he would be an avowed atheist. He would realize that he doesn’t have to fake it. He would be free to be honest with himself.

Lois

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Posted: 31 December 2013 12:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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It can be seen that way, though I disagree with the concept because belief or disbelief is mostly a biological predisposition. Someone like Dawkins, would still be an atheist, and have his passion for science even if he wasn’t from an upper class background

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Posted: 31 December 2013 01:36 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Lois - 30 December 2013 11:02 PM
Occam. - 30 December 2013 06:14 PM

Damn, my memory is going.  There’s a very clear psychological term for this phenomenon, of having two separate idea groups that are quite thoroughly at odds with each other, but the reasoning of neither is accessible to the other.  Newton was a brilliant scientist, but his very early training inculcated the ideas of theism in areas of his thinking that were not accessible to his reason and critical thinking. 

Occam

Newton was certainly a product of his time, his society and his upbringing.  If he lived today where atheism is accepted, I have no doubt that he would be an avowed atheist. He would realize that he doesn’t have to fake it. He would be free to be honest with himself.

Lois

I think it’s very misguided of you to attempt to project your views into the mind of Newton and speak for him and what he would have thought if he had lived today. I also think it is arrogant to suggest he was in some way faking it and being dishonest with himself in terms of his beliefs when he was alive.

[ Edited: 31 December 2013 01:50 AM by jomper ]
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Posted: 31 December 2013 01:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Occam. - 30 December 2013 06:14 PM

Damn, my memory is going.  There’s a very clear psychological term for this phenomenon, of having two separate idea groups that are quite thoroughly at odds with each other, but the reasoning of neither is accessible to the other.  Newton was a brilliant scientist, but his very early training inculcated the ideas of theism in areas of his thinking that were not accessible to his reason and critical thinking. 

Occam

Cognitive dissonance?

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Posted: 31 December 2013 06:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Newton was certainly a product of his time, his society and his upbringing.  If he lived today where atheism is accepted, I have no doubt that he would be an avowed atheist. He would realize that he doesn’t have to fake it. He would be free to be honest with himself.

Newton was definitely a product of his time as was Darwin, as was Dawkins, and everyone here. We deal with the pressures of a society that demands conformity to it’s values and Newton had to bow to those pressures, hence the dualism. As to religion, his beliefs were clearly stated in letters to friends and colleagues; he believed in a god but discarded the minutiae of Anglicanism, e.g. a belief in the Trinity. Some called him a Cartesian Dualist. The important point is that he found a way around the delimna and wrote several scientific works that helped spawn the Enlightenment. Where would science be without the Principia? As to how he would have acted or reacted if he were plucked from the superstitious era in which he lived (they hanged farm animals for demon posession) we can only speculate and nothing more. I suspect he would have kept his Diest-like belief but once again that’s just speculation although I’m certain the scientist side of him would have delighted in the freedom of expression we have today.


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Posted: 31 December 2013 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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I think the author was looking for a justification for his belief. I was an atheist in my youth, while I was quite poor. Desperate people clinging to faith means that some people who are down-and-out will grasp at whatever gives them hope. This does not translate into atheism being a luxury for the wealthy.

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You cannot have a rational conversation with someone who holds irrational beliefs.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 08:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Could it be these “street” people are religious because they get most of their physical and emotional support from the religious segment of our society?

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All the Gods and all religions are created by humans, to meet human needs and accomplish human ends.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 10:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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I think the author was looking for a justification for his belief. I was an atheist in my youth, while I was quite poor. Desperate people clinging to faith means that some people who are down-and-out will grasp at whatever gives them hope. This does not translate into atheism being a luxury for the wealthy.

Actually, IMO you hit the nail on the head Darron. The poor and destitute (for whatever reason) need something to cling to that will give them hope and comfort and religion provides just that. “Life sucks now but with faith the after life will be a paradise of immortality and care” for those who were denied a decent and fulfilling life. But even atheists or non-theists, as Occam likes to call himself can help the downtrodden. Sympathy and human kindness aren’t limited to the religious even though it may seem to be and from all reports religious institutions don’t want our assistance anyway. Who knows, the poor might begin to believe that you don’t have to be religious to sympathize with their plight, just human.


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One good schoolmaster is of more use than a hundred priests.

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Posted: 31 December 2013 11:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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jomper - 31 December 2013 01:37 AM
Occam. - 30 December 2013 06:14 PM

Damn, my memory is going.  There’s a very clear psychological term for this phenomenon, of having two separate idea groups that are quite thoroughly at odds with each other, but the reasoning of neither is accessible to the other.  Occam

Cognitive dissonance?

YES!!!  Thanks jomper.

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