Thread: Religion
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      10-23-2009, 04:06 PM   #65
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What the hell...I'm feeling feisty, so I'll try to take these on. I'll try to explain the values and motivations i hold, and that other, more vocal atheists may also hold. I'll end by explaining my perception of the goals of theists, and why I consider them misguided.

- Belief that gods or God cannot and do not exist.
I'd say "lack the belief in God(s)"- a-theist=without gods/theism. There is simply no reason to believe in things like that without some extreme evidence. Atheists are the only group that are generally identified for what they DON'T believe in and don't do. I'll take a usefule but cliched example: the Flying Spaghetti Monster (FSM). Do you believe the FSM not only does not, but CAN NOT exist? Justify. I think it CAN exist, but the it is so vanishingly unlikely that it's not worth mentioning. Other than the age of the stories, what are the differences between the FSM, God, and the numerous 'dead' God's nobody thinks are real anymore.

- Belief that a belief in gods or Gods is borderline delusional, if not outright ready for inclusion in the APA's DSM manual.
Delusion is a provocative word, but if you remove the drama associated with it it is quite clear and relatively minor.

From webster...
Delusion: something that is falsely or delusively believed or propagated b : a persistent false psychotic belief regarding the self or persons or objects outside the self that is maintained despite indisputable evidence to the contrary

Beyond other people's claims there is no reason to think god(s) exist, and the belief is unquestionably propagated. There is not indisputable evidence to the contrary, but this is a weakness in the definition: you can not prove a person's or objects non-existence indisputably. What evidence would a non-existent being leave of it's non-existence? The more pertinant point is that there is no hard evidence FOR the belief- just claims. So, even atheist that are polite and don't use the word delusional, it's an accurate description of theists from the POV of people who see no evidence of God. I personally have never called religious people that, and have never argued this point, but I think I've shown a good case can be made for it.

- Belief that it is the hardcore atheist's duty to inform society why belief in gods or God is wrong.
Belief in god(s) is very common, and people don't look at these claims with the same skepticism as anything else in their life- even other religious claims (imagine a hippie looking guy approaching you in the street claiming to be the messiah, doing impressive magic tricks. 99.9% of people would brush him off as a nutcase)! I wouldn't say belief in god(s) is wrong from a moral standpoint, but from an incorrect-or-correct stand point it probably is. Like the FSM, it might be right; there's simply no reason to think so beyond peoples claims. As far as informing society...I don't do this unless someone else brings it up. What they want to believe in their own personal lives, in a way that doesn't affect me, I don't care. Once points of a religious nature are brought up or postulated as true, all bets are off and I'll debate it as I would any other baseless claim. The spreading of misinformation is my biggest pet peeve, and the belief in misinformation is fascinating to me, which is why I spend so many keystrokes in threads like this when they come up.

- Belief that it is the hardcore atheist's duty to ensure that any mentioning of gods or God is removed from all public venues and anything State sponsored (e.g., removal of 'under God' from the Pledge)
This is thankfully a nation of religious freedom. Proclaiming a belief in God is proclaiming a religious belief. The government shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion (and spending bills, including spending on the maintenance of public property however small, is codified in law). I addressed the pledge in my last post.

The seperation of church and state was as much for the protection of church as for state. None of these seperations of church and state fetter the practice of anyones religion in the slightest degree (yes- kids can still even pray in school; they just aren't forced to and aren't ostrizied for not participating). Therefore, the intent of trying to insert religious views into secular law must necessarily be the legitimization, promotion, and establishiment of particular religious views. This seems pretty cut and dry. Let the churches and individuals handle the religious rules and practices, and let the government handle the secular rules and practices. Seems pretty win/win to me, and this right, like all our rights and freedoms, is worth fighting for.

In the end, some of these things are interesting, and many are worth fighting for. Furthermore, freedoms and science can be demonstrated to exist, work, and have benefits. If can argue that freedom and naturalism aren't worth putting some effort into defending, I'd love to hear it

The parallel argument from the religious side is that it is worth fighting to save souls, too. I can totally understand that, and understand how the religious consider it their duty to spread the faith by any and all means possible. However, they're putting the cart before the horse. Before they can save souls for God, they must first demonstrate (not just claim, and reference others who've made the same claim in the past) that souls and God not only exist, but they operate in the fashion they describe. What they're doing now is analgous to putting unicorns and dragons on the endangered species list and setting up protected habitats for them before they can demonstrate those creatures exist, much less what constitutes a good habitat for them and what threats there are against them.

Last edited by carve; 10-23-2009 at 04:41 PM.