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What good is Atheism anyways?
Posted: 13 January 2009 09:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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wandering - 13 January 2009 03:05 AM
citizenschallenge - 11 January 2009 11:41 PM

............................
May I ask: what good is Atheism anyways?

Atheism is a negative answer to the question “does god exist”. As such, the issue is whether it is a true answer or not, not whether it is “good” or “bad”.  You can’t criticize truth for being “good or bad”, just for it being true or false.

This has little to do with the context of my question. 

wandering - 13 January 2009 03:05 AM

You can ask however “Why do we need truth*? What good is truth anyway?”, but I am sure that if you reflect for a moment, what is the service that truth does in all the areas of our lives, and what is the service that not knowing the truth does, you will find out for yourself.

No, the question that springs to my mind is who is this guy who presumes to have figured out “The Truth”

* Or, are you just talking physical laws?

“Truth” (whatever that may be) encompasses more than physical laws and instrument readings.  Which incidentally are interpreted through our own neural networks that have been proven to ‘compose’ what they perceive out of the vast data flow they receive.

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Posted: 13 January 2009 09:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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steveg144 - 13 January 2009 10:41 AM

Not so fast. In the interest of playing Devil’s Advocate, I’d invite everyone to give a read to some of Nietzsche’s work on “the value of truth for life.”

nice post, good point, but you brought back some crazy, long buried, memories now I’m all derailed. Back in 78 I was a chef’s apprentice at Hotel Hirsch, Bad Wurzach, Allgau, Germany.  We had a crazy young Sous chef, way stressed out, unwanted early family, hell hole of a twelve hour a day grueling job, but the place did have a Michelin Star, and the delivery wagon out of France hit us before it went on to Munich, so there was something (superficially) worthy driving us all at an insane pace.

In any event, after work, drinking at the bar with this hyper stressed, old and dejected before his day guy & me young all ears with a studious/curious (layman’s) nature, he’d come alive and go on for hours about Nietzsche, whom he had studied with obvious gusto during his short college career.  He’d go on and on until it was all a slur and time to drag our butts home
(ahh, it’s good to have those memories, thanks for reminding me).

Yea, this probably would be an excellent year to revisit Nietzsche’s world view.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 01:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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The reference to Nietzsche is interesting:

In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of “world history”—yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.

From here.

It is an interesting question, which one should not wipe from the table immediately: can we, with our ‘animal background’ live with the truth?
One element of trying to answer this question for myself is to realise that knowledge and wisdom are not the same.

GdB

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Posted: 14 January 2009 02:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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citizenschallenge - 13 January 2009 08:58 PM
Kaizen - 12 January 2009 05:06 PM

The skeptical process and even more importantly, the willingness to admit one is wrong in the light of convincing evidence seems to be some positive features that are seen more in atheists than in theists.

well put and I fully agree.

Also, thanks for getting me to think about my basic questions.

I guess I’m looking at the question from an evangelical sort of light.
That is,  how might one help effect evolution in the thinking of others.

The larger question then becomes: why do you feel the need to “effect evolution in the thinking of others”?

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Posted: 14 January 2009 09:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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In the interest of playing Devil’s Advocate

This is totally off-topic, but I just read last night that there really was an actual Office of Devil’s Advocate in the Vatican established in, I think, 1587. The job of the Advocate was to present the case against beatifying or canonizing a candidate. The Pope had realized that there were getting to be an awful lot of saints, and decided that it would be good to put a throttle on the process.

Given the propensities of the Catholic Church for specialized vestments, I can only imagine what the holder of this office wore.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 09:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Chris Crawford - 14 January 2009 09:32 AM

This is totally off-topic, but I just read last night that there really was an actual Office of Devil’s Advocate in the Vatican established in, I think, 1587. The job of the Advocate was to present the case against beatifying or canonizing a candidate. The Pope had realized that there were getting to be an awful lot of saints, and decided that it would be good to put a throttle on the process.

Given the propensities of the Catholic Church for specialized vestments, I can only imagine what the holder of this office wore.

... and IIRC John Paul II eradicated this office in order to ram through more saints ASAP.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 09:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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It still exists, Chris. In 2002 Hitchens was asked to testify against the beatification of Mother Teresa.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 09:47 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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George - 14 January 2009 09:44 AM

It still exists, Chris. In 2002 Hitchens was asked to testify against the beatification of Mother Teresa.

No, it was abolished in 1983 by JP II. For Hitchens’s essay on his experience, see HERE.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 09:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Okay. Technically, though, Hitchens still acted as the “Devil’s Advocate.”

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Posted: 14 January 2009 11:40 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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steveg144 - 14 January 2009 02:15 AM
citizenschallenge - 13 January 2009 08:58 PM
Kaizen - 12 January 2009 05:06 PM

The skeptical process and even more importantly, the willingness to admit one is wrong in the light of convincing evidence seems to be some positive features that are seen more in atheists than in theists.

well put and I fully agree.

Also, thanks for getting me to think about my basic questions.

I guess I’m looking at the question from an evangelical sort of light.
That is,  how might one help effect evolution in the thinking of others.

The larger question then becomes: why do you feel the need to “effect evolution in the thinking of others”?

This is a matter of if one thinks that exposing truth to others is generally beneficial for them. That question has already been answered in previous posts.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 11:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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steveg144 - 14 January 2009 02:15 AM

The larger question then becomes: why do you feel the need to “effect evolution in the thinking of others”?

We are all on this planet together. We who are US citizens are all in this country together. Right wingers vote. Religious fundamentalists vote. People who think evolution is “just a theory” vote. Some of them are teaching biology and a few of them are practicing medicine. And even if they’re not voting, they are procreating and/or talking to people in a way that shapes the culture. What other people believe affects my life, your life and the future course of the world.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 11:53 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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Kaizen - 14 January 2009 11:40 AM
steveg144 - 14 January 2009 02:15 AM
citizenschallenge - 13 January 2009 08:58 PM
Kaizen - 12 January 2009 05:06 PM

The skeptical process and even more importantly, the willingness to admit one is wrong in the light of convincing evidence seems to be some positive features that are seen more in atheists than in theists.

well put and I fully agree.

Also, thanks for getting me to think about my basic questions.

I guess I’m looking at the question from an evangelical sort of light.
That is,  how might one help effect evolution in the thinking of others.

The larger question then becomes: why do you feel the need to “effect evolution in the thinking of others”?

This is a matter of if one thinks that exposing truth to others is generally beneficial for them. That question has already been answered in previous posts.

Actually, I’d say the question has been avoided, not answered. Define the parameters of your word “generally.” That is to say, give a general rule that, when
applied, says “in the following circumstances, the truth is beneficial to the person to whom the truth is given. And in the following circumstances, the truth
is not beneficial.” Some examples:

Beneficial: “Hey, look behind you! There’s a car coming right for you!”

Not beneficial: “Son/daughter, you’ve got an incurable disease. Nothing can save you. And when you die, you’ll cease to exist and you’ll never see any of
us who love you ever again.”

Both are true. Are both “beneficial”? I don’t think so. Should we, then, cram the truth (or should we come out of the closet and proclaim it The Truth) down
everyone’s throat regardless of the circumstances? If not, then what are the parameters and/or mitigating factors in which telling the truth is not the best
course of action?

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Posted: 14 January 2009 02:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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Occam,

Occam - 12 January 2009 12:42 AM

I know that many of the vast number of Americans who believe in a god derive a great deal of comfort from that belief.  Why is it so incomprehensible to you and them that my belief in a naturally caused universe without any supernatural being gives me equally, a great deal of comfort and satisfaction?

 

 
What is incomprehensible to me is the rational basis for your belief in a naturally caused universe.

Natural causes just don’t appear to work as explanations. Yes I’ve been over and over this with Doug but that doesn’t change the fact.

1)either every effect is caused and causes necessitate that which they cause.

2) Or causes don’t necessitate that which they cause.

If causes don’t necessitate, then they are not the reason or explanation for why something happens because they simply fail to tell us why what happens, happens, rather than something else.

If they do necessitate, then they rule out all other possibilities and so don’t act as explanations because there are no other possible things that could happen.

Stephen

[ Edited: 14 January 2009 02:12 PM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 14 January 2009 03:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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StephenLawrence - 14 January 2009 02:08 PM

Occam,

Occam - 12 January 2009 12:42 AM

I know that many of the vast number of Americans who believe in a god derive a great deal of comfort from that belief.  Why is it so incomprehensible to you and them that my belief in a naturally caused universe without any supernatural being gives me equally, a great deal of comfort and satisfaction?

 

 
What is incomprehensible to me is the rational basis for your belief in a naturally caused universe.

Natural causes just don’t appear to work as explanations. Yes I’ve been over and over this with Doug but that doesn’t change the fact.

1)either every effect is caused and causes necessitate that which they cause.

2) Or causes don’t necessitate that which they cause.

If causes don’t necessitate, then they are not the reason or explanation for why something happens because they simply fail to tell us why what happens, happens, rather than something else.

If they do necessitate, then they rule out all other possibilities and so don’t act as explanations because there are no other possible things that could happen.

Stephen

3) Or at this level none of us has the foggiest idea what the hell we’re talking about.

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Posted: 14 January 2009 03:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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citizenschallenge - 11 January 2009 11:41 PM

May I ask: what good is Atheism anyways?

You may, but first answer me this: What is the role of molecules in Atheism?

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