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What is the non-believers story?
Posted: 01 February 2014 09:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Hi Gary,

... very interesting. I see this the same way, it’s been stories that keep us going, hence the element of religion that seeks to “verify” these stories is very misguided.

How do you promote a scientific worldview though? Yeah, not that easy. - Not to digress, but I’m very taken in, and influenced by, a fellow named Slavoj Zizek. He’s a Slowenian philosopher and psychoanalyst. His main point: ideologies. To me it’s “lies we live by”. But anyway, just so you get my point of reference.

I think the first thing is to take religion seriously, not its metaphysical statements, but its reality as culture and tradition. To mock someone’s beliefs doesn’t help very much. They might be silly, but they define a certain order in that person’s life. With me, for example, people know that I’m an atheist. They nonetheless know that I’m extremely ethical and moral. Why? And that’s the point I’m making. I don’t need God to make ethical decisions. This alone comes through.

I think this “bewilderment” of being openly atheist and yet moral, that does the deed. No stories necessarily needed. - I think to “promote” a scientific, humanistic, atheistic worldview all that needs to be done is live a good life making sure the “others” know it’s not lived “under God”. That puts the stories into perspective. Once it’s clear that one can live fine without God, this realization creeps on slowly but deeply. No need to talk, make up stories. They won’t be listened to. Simply live.

Peace.

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Posted: 01 February 2014 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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The problem with stories, such as those created to promote biblical belief, is that those stories need magic, gods and demons, fire and brimstone, thunder and lightening, miracles and salvation. Special effects are especially welcome. Those are the kinds of stories simple people need. It’s pretty difficult to create stories that would promote a skeptical view.  Skepitcs, IMO, are not so easily entertained—or fooled. Skeptics like to see behind the scenes at what is really going on. That’s hardly the case with people who like bible stories. They want to be amazed and never question the action. Questioning the magic would take all the fun out of it. They would never stand for reasonable stories about critical thinking. Bread and circuses is what they want, as the Romans knew.

Lois

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Posted: 03 February 2014 12:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Hard question. I am skeptical that its even possible to have a non believers story that’s comparable to the believers’ story. Intellectual rigor and critical thinking are boring to most people - even to some non believers.

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Posted: 03 February 2014 05:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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mid atlantic - 03 February 2014 12:38 AM

Hard question. I am skeptical that its even possible to have a non believers story that’s comparable to the believers’ story. Intellectual rigor and critical thinking are boring to most people - even to some non believers.

For starters, there is no such thing as a non-believer. Everyone believes in something. There are no exceptions. This is a term coined by theists to put us into a corner by ourselves. Why any of us uses it is beyond me.

Of course we can tell compelling stories. We’re doing it all the time. Les Miserables is an example. Tyson is about to come out with this generation’s Cosmos, in follow-up to the predecessor series by Sagan. There’s another.

Our difference is not that we don’t have compelling narratives. It’s that our narratives don’t pull everything together by magic. So we have a harder challenge, that’s true, but in the end our finished product is more satisfying because it is real.

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Posted: 03 February 2014 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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mid atlantic - 03 February 2014 12:38 AM

For starters, there is no such thing as a non-believer. Everyone believes in something. There are no exceptions.

There are indeed exceptions: me, for one.

I don’t believe in anything. I SUSPECT a great many things, but I don’t believe in any of them.

Some things seem, to me, to be more, or less, probable than other things - i.e. more, or less, congruent with the way things actually are - but that’s as far as I go. For example, I suspect that evolutionary theory has a much higher probability of being “congruent with the way things actually are” than, say, the story that some entity called “God” created the entire Universe in six days, just a few thousand years ago.

Then there are some things that are perhaps not scientifically “congruent…” - oh hell, let’s stick our necks out and replace “congruent….” with “true”  - or, at least, they don’t have a reasonably high probability of being scientifically “true”, but do approximate to a different kind of “truth” - let’s call it “poetic truth” - ideas around moral behaviour, how to deal with ethical dilemmas, that sort of thing.

“Believers” will immediately jump up at this point and start waving their Bibles around; well, I’ve read the Bible - yes, all of it, every last “begat….” - and I confess I haven’t been able to find very much of what I would call “poetic truth” in there. No ethical or moral guidance; nothing, nada. Lots of advice on how to sacrifice animals and destroy rival civilizations and slaughter entire populations and steal all their land and property…... what? Oh, the Ten Commandments? Well, four of them are strictly about religious observance, so that leaves six; of those, anyone can point to Bible passages where every one of them is broken, evidently with God’s approval or even connivance; and there are glaring omissions. Where, for example, is the commandment “thou shalt not rape”? Or “thou shalt not abuse children”?

No: if you’re looking for the other kind of “truth”, poetic “truth” - go to the poets; Shakespeare, Shelley, Goethe, Dostoievsky, Tolkein, Eco, Coelho…...

TFS

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Posted: 03 February 2014 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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by rodin46,
Godless people and morality.  F. Dostoyevsky said “without God all is permissible”  What do you think he meant?  Can there be a moral standard without God?  Onto…

Well Dostoyevsky had that one wrong.
I would argue the opposite. If God is the creator of the universe “all is permissible” because God is Amoral (neither morally good nor bad), it is an implaccable force which “by laws of nature” only creates change from one form into another. IOW, for something to live, something else has to die (Law of conservation of energy).
The earth was created from the destruction of a star,  man was able to emerge from the destruction of the dinosaurs.

Dinosaurs lived on earth for over 160 million years. They were the dominant terrestrial vertebrates from the late Triassic period (around 230 million years ago) to the end of the Cretaceous period (around 65 million years ago). After the Cretaceous-Tertiary extinction event all but a few species of birds became extinct.

Do you believe it was moral for God to wipe out this magnificent creation?  You believe in a story which does not explain the true nature of God. But the recognition that “not everything is permissible for living things” started very early after the creation of life itself. Pobably during the evolution of amoebas. We just wrote it down and even here there is no agreement. If you are so familiar with the bible you should remember God’s promise to “confound man’s language”.  What is the morality in that, pray tell?
http://listverse.com/2007/09/19/10-religious-scriptures-explained/

[ Edited: 03 February 2014 04:47 PM by Write4U ]
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Posted: 03 February 2014 03:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Theflyingsorcerer - 03 February 2014 01:38 PM
mid atlantic - 03 February 2014 12:38 AM

For starters, there is no such thing as a non-believer. Everyone believes in something. There are no exceptions.

There are indeed exceptions: me, for one.

I don’t believe in anything. I SUSPECT a great many things, but I don’t believe in any of them.

Some things seem, to me, to be more, or less, probable than other things - i.e. more, or less, congruent with the way things actually are - but that’s as far as I go. For example, I suspect that evolutionary theory has a much higher probability of being “congruent with the way things actually are” than, say, the story that some entity called “God” created the entire Universe in six days, just a few thousand years ago.

Then there are some things that are perhaps not scientifically “congruent…” - oh hell, let’s stick our necks out and replace “congruent….” with “true”  - or, at least, they don’t have a reasonably high probability of being scientifically “true”, but do approximate to a different kind of “truth” - let’s call it “poetic truth” - ideas around moral behaviour, how to deal with ethical dilemmas, that sort of thing.

“Believers” will immediately jump up at this point and start waving their Bibles around; well, I’ve read the Bible - yes, all of it, every last “begat….” - and I confess I haven’t been able to find very much of what I would call “poetic truth” in there. No ethical or moral guidance; nothing, nada. Lots of advice on how to sacrifice animals and destroy rival civilizations and slaughter entire populations and steal all their land and property…... what? Oh, the Ten Commandments? Well, four of them are strictly about religious observance, so that leaves six; of those, anyone can point to Bible passages where every one of them is broken, evidently with God’s approval or even connivance; and there are glaring omissions. Where, for example, is the commandment “thou shalt not rape”? Or “thou shalt not abuse children”?

No: if you’re looking for the other kind of “truth”, poetic “truth” - go to the poets; Shakespeare, Shelley, Goethe, Dostoievsky, Tolkein, Eco, Coelho…...

TFS

Not buying it for one second. You can’t live without believing things. You drink water because you believe you need it (you’re right), and because you believe it’s safe to drink. You eat or don’t eat food because of what you believe about whether it is fit for consumption. Most people will laugh at you if you say your behavior is the product of no more than suspicions, and that means that you’re using the word idiosyncratically, which is another thing people in our movements say we don’t want to do.

A few months ago, we had an extended discussion on this subject. A little research revealed that practically every leading humanist has used the word “believe” or “belief” in an affirmative way. It didn’t connote or even suggest theistic or religious ideation, and the usages were so natural that most people wouldn’t have paid any particular attention to the word. I posted a lengthy list of links to their writings, to which there was no response.

The distinctions you’re trying to draw are just word games, which is not to say you aren’t serious about them. To believe something is to judge it probably to be true, which is exactly what you say you do. You are free to avoid a word like Dracula avoids a cross but I thought humanists didn’t believe in magic, or in Dracula. In the way the word “believe/belief” is generally used, you are no an exception to the rule. If I followed you around for a day, I would be able to point out hundreds of things you did that would demonstrate to pretty much everyone that you do believe things, no matter how much you say you don’t.

So here we go again, for the umpteenth time, with “humanist” bug-up-the-arse number 52. There is a self-defeating tendency in our movements to react, knee-jerk style, to anything that may be associated with theism, or even religion. In this case, believing is what theists do, so we can’t. That’s irrational, so you would think that people who are committed to reason wouldn’t do it; but with some of our members, emotion trumps reason to the point that rationality jumps right out the window. If you say you don’t believe in anything, people will think you’re being ridiculous, and they’ll be right. And if this comes to be seen as representing humanism, we’ll never gain any respect from society at large, and we’ll have done it to ourselves. In fact, this is one of our biggest problems in attracting members. We say we are all about reason, then we say ridiculous things (sorry but it’s true), solely because we react emotionally to a mere word. Einstein wouldn’t call himself an atheist for partly this reason, even though he was one. There are many other fine minds who won’t have anything to do with us, and this is one reason why they won’t.

[ Edited: 03 February 2014 04:15 PM by PLaClair ]
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Posted: 03 February 2014 07:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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I really don’t think it is that complicated Paul. People are pretty familiar with the concept of different definitions for one word. A simple statement like “I don’t believe like ‘religiously believe’” would not be beyond the average person.

Do you remember the title of the discussion where you listed the writings?

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Posted: 03 February 2014 09:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Lausten - 03 February 2014 07:32 PM

I really don’t think it is that complicated Paul. People are pretty familiar with the concept of different definitions for one word. A simple statement like “I don’t believe like ‘religiously believe’” would not be beyond the average person.

Do you remember the title of the discussion where you listed the writings?

What’s complicated about it, Lausten? You’re right, people can accommodate different definitions of a word but that’s not the point at hand here.

Look at the topic entitled “Should theistic fact claims be subjected . . .” (http://www.centerforinquiry.net/forums/viewthread/16167/) at posts 50, 167, 190 and 191, at least. I had forgotten that I couldn’t post links, so these are references.

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Posted: 03 February 2014 09:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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PLaClair - 03 February 2014 03:38 PM

Not buying it for one second. You can’t live without believing things. You drink water because you believe you need it (you’re right), and because you believe it’s safe to drink.

You can buy it, or not, as you see fit, but I stand by what I wrote - for good and sufficient reasons. And I don’t play word games.

I drink water (or tea, or juice) because experience has shown me that if I don’t I get terribly thirsty. I might believe my water is safe, but it might not be (I live part of each year in Mexico). Really I should get it analyzed for E. Coli, but, just in case, I buy purified water in five gallon jugs while I’m here. At least I accept the high probability that the water I buy is purified, but, again, it might not be. Believing, one way or the other, doesn’t help.

“Belief” has too much of an association with religion and superstition (which are, I suspect much the same thing) for any intelligent person to use it as a basis for living, it seems to me. What other “leading humanists” think the word means isn’t relevant; and I don’t accept that I’m being ridiculous by insisting on precise meanings for words. A “belief’, to me, is simply an opinion, which might be shared by any number of people, for which no unambiguous evidence exists. I’ve been taken to task, and misunderstood - deliberately, it seemed - for using the word “believe” in this very forum, so I don’t use it any more “in the way the word is generally used”, for that exact reason - that it leads to misunderstandings. And frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass for the respect of “society at large”, mired as it is (in America, at least) in irrational superstition. Nor do I care if people laugh at me; it’s their loss.

...... and, incidentally, if you follow me around for a day I’ll have you arrested.

TFS

[ Edited: 03 February 2014 09:52 PM by Theflyingsorcerer ]
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Posted: 03 February 2014 09:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Theflyingsorcerer - 03 February 2014 09:47 PM
PLaClair - 03 February 2014 03:38 PM

Not buying it for one second. You can’t live without believing things. You drink water because you believe you need it (you’re right), and because you believe it’s safe to drink.

You can buy it, or not, as you see fit, but I stand by what I wrote - for good and sufficient reasons. And I don’t play word games.

I drink water (or tea, or juice), not because I believe I need it, but because experience has shown me that if I don’t I get terribly thirsty. I might believe my water is safe, but it might not be (I live part of each year in Mexico). Really I should get it analyzed for E. Coli, but, just in case, I buy purified water in five gallon jugs while I’m here. At least I accept the high probability that the water I buy is purified, but, again, it might not be. Believing, one way or the other, doesn’t help.

“Belief” has too much of an association with religion and superstition (which are, I suspect much the same thing) for any intelligent person to use it as a basis for living, it seems to me. What other “leading humanists” think the word means isn’t relevant; and I don’t accept that I’m being ridiculous by insisting on precise meanings for words. A “belief’, to me, is simply an opinion, which might be shared by any number of people, for which no unambiguous evidence exists. I’ve been taken to task, and misunderstood - deliberately, it seemed - for using the word “believe” in this very forum, so I don’t use it any more “in the way the word is generally used”, for that exact reason - that it leads to misunderstandings. And frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass for the respect of “society at large”, mired as it is (in America, at least) in irrational superstition. Nor do I care if people laugh at me; it’s their loss.

...... and, incidentally, if you follow me around for a day I’ll have you arrested.

TFS

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Posted: 03 February 2014 09:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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OK some sort of electronic glitch there. Your button said “submit post” when it should have said “update post.” The second post is the full version.

TFS

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Posted: 03 February 2014 10:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Theflyingsorcerer - 03 February 2014 09:53 PM
Theflyingsorcerer - 03 February 2014 09:47 PM
PLaClair - 03 February 2014 03:38 PM

Not buying it for one second. You can’t live without believing things. You drink water because you believe you need it (you’re right), and because you believe it’s safe to drink.

You can buy it, or not, as you see fit, but I stand by what I wrote - for good and sufficient reasons. And I don’t play word games.

I drink water (or tea, or juice), not because I believe I need it, but because experience has shown me that if I don’t I get terribly thirsty. I might believe my water is safe, but it might not be (I live part of each year in Mexico). Really I should get it analyzed for E. Coli, but, just in case, I buy purified water in five gallon jugs while I’m here. At least I accept the high probability that the water I buy is purified, but, again, it might not be. Believing, one way or the other, doesn’t help.

“Belief” has too much of an association with religion and superstition (which are, I suspect much the same thing) for any intelligent person to use it as a basis for living, it seems to me. What other “leading humanists” think the word means isn’t relevant; and I don’t accept that I’m being ridiculous by insisting on precise meanings for words. A “belief’, to me, is simply an opinion, which might be shared by any number of people, for which no unambiguous evidence exists. I’ve been taken to task, and misunderstood - deliberately, it seemed - for using the word “believe” in this very forum, so I don’t use it any more “in the way the word is generally used”, for that exact reason - that it leads to misunderstandings. And frankly, I don’t give a rat’s ass for the respect of “society at large”, mired as it is (in America, at least) in irrational superstition. Nor do I care if people laugh at me; it’s their loss.

...... and, incidentally, if you follow me around for a day I’ll have you arrested.

TFS

I have also dropped all forms of the word “belief” from my vocabulary. It’s the only rational thing to do.

Lois

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Posted: 04 February 2014 06:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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Theflyingsorcerer - 03 February 2014 09:47 PM

“Belief” has too much of an association with religion and superstition (which are, I suspect much the same thing) for any intelligent person to use it as a basis for living, it seems to me.

Right, exactly as I told you. Our adversaries use the word, so we can’t. There’s nothing rational about that, it’s just a reaction. Not to mention the way you’re mixing the word with the res: a word is not a basis for living.

You’re not going to see this until you can stop reacting. Meanwhile, I’ll just ask you to think about the cultural dynamics of language, and the way theists as a group try to gain control. Once they realize that they can control your language by using your words, they can push you where they want you to go.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 06:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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Why on earth should I drop a perfectly good word from my vocabulary?  Because some associate it with spirituality or religion?
What are you going to replace it with?

Definition of belief (n),  Bing Dictionary
be·lief
1.acceptance of truth of something: acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty
2.trust: confidence that somebody or something is good or will be effective
3.something that somebody believes in: a statement, principle, or doctrine that a person or group accepts as true

Synonyms: confidence · trust · certainty · credence · acceptance

The bolded has the only reference to spirituality and then only as an emotional or spiritual underpinning.

Are we also going to drop the word “faith”?

Definition of faith (n), Bing Dictionary
faith
1.belief or trust: belief in, devotion to, or trust in somebody or something, especially without logical proof
2.religion or religious group: a system of religious belief, or the group of people who adhere to it
3.trust in God: belief in and devotion to God

Synonyms: confidence · trust · reliance · conviction · belief · assurance

I won’t let anyone dictate what words to use, when used appropriately and in context. Least of all a theist!

[ Edited: 04 February 2014 06:46 AM by Write4U ]
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