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Problems with Atheism

 
 
joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Apr, 2010 06:58 pm
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
I don't know what you mean by Joefromchicago's question. I will try to answer again.

Your browser seems to be having problems displaying my posts. You might want to look into that.

ebrown p wrote:
I have a strong sense of morality. I am faithful to my wife. I feel a strong sense of duty to my kids. I am motivated to work on political issues, particularly in issues of social justice.

This is a function of my sense of identity which is mostly shaped by my culture and my upbringing. The capacity for me to hold a moral stance as part of my culture (as separate from the specific ways my sense of morality differs from other humans) is shaped by evolution based on its survival value.

As I mentioned previously, it doesn't matter if you believe in your own personal morality, or even if you really, really believe in your own personal morality. For you, it's little more than an ingrained habit, a customary way of behaving. That may be many things, that may even be admirable, but it's not morality.

Suppose, for instance, that you always put on your right shoe first, and then your left shoe. You do that out of invariable habit, such that it has become second-nature to you. Would you be acting immorally if you put your left shoe on first instead?

My guess is that even you would say that the order in which you put on your shoes is morally irrelevant, no matter how habitual this action might be. The mystery, then, is why you would think that your habitual fidelity to your wife, for instance, is a different sort of habit that is morally relevant.

What you haven't explained (and which you can't) is why some of your habits and customs you regard as "moral" and some you don't. What is this mysterious quality that your "moral" habits possess and that your non-moral ones lack? Or do you simply contend that what is "moral" is whatever you say it is?

ebrown p wrote:
Joe seems to be claiming that I can't have this morality without believing in some "absolute morality".

That's correct, because to think otherwise is to fall into the kinds of absurdities that you have ably demonstrated in this thread.

ebrown p wrote:
I assert, based on personal experience, that I can follow a strong system of morality without believing in any absolute moral truth.

You may be following something, for all I know, but it isn't a system of morality.

ebrown p wrote:
I don't see any other question that he is raising. He did point out that then I have to accept that any other moral views are equal to mine. And sure... as far as any universal truth goes, this is true. Of course, the fact that my system of morality isn't backed by any universal truth doesn't mean I can't live by it, or act on it, or even fight for it.

You might as well fight for putting your right shoe on first.

ebrown p wrote:
I think I have answered everything Joe has raised. Am I missing anything?

Probably. I've lost track.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Tue 13 Apr, 2010 07:25 pm
@joefromchicago,
Quote:
As I mentioned previously, it doesn't matter if you believe in your own personal morality, or even if you really, really believe in your own personal morality. For you, it's little more than an ingrained habit, a customary way of behaving. That may be many things, that may even be admirable, but it's not morality.


I get it Joe.

You are saying in order for what I am calling morality to really be morality it has to come from some universal truth.

Ironically I suppose that if I believed that my morality was based on stone tablets that were written by the finger of an all-powerful deity, then it would count as morality by your definition.

You still haven't told me how you divine your understanding of Universal Truth. You said Reason, but you haven't explained how you determine what reason is (other then your own prejudices). Reason that isn't testable in an objective way isn't open to the same debates as religion. This isn't even an interesting discussion to me unless you can provide an objective way to determine what Reason's opinion is.

I suppose if Reason ever decides to write laws in stone tablets, it would be good enough for me-- otherwise I am left with the observation that there is a strong correlation between Reason and Cultural bias.

I think we have reached a basic disagreement-- and we seem to be going around in circles. You have already made your disdain for my refusal to accept universal truth well known.

Is there is anything else to say here?




joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 06:14 am
@ebrown p,
ebrown p wrote:
I get it Joe.

You are saying in order for what I am calling morality to really be morality it has to come from some universal truth.

"Universal truth" is the sort of thing that people who don't know anything about philosophy say when they're trying to talk about philosophy. It's a meaningless phrase, which is why I never said it. But if it helps you to mischaracterize my argument, don't let me stop you.

ebrown p wrote:
Ironically I suppose that if I believed that my morality was based on stone tablets that were written by the finger of an all-powerful deity, then it would count as morality by your definition.

Of course it would. Judeo-Christian morality actually purports to be a system of morality.

ebrown p wrote:
Is there is anything else to say here?

Well, you could say "goodbye." You've been wanting to say that for a while.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 08:11 am
@ebrown p,
Quote:
I was just thinking Thomas, strangely enough I think that my position in this argument is quite possible closer to yours, than Joe's is. You are proposing that happiness is the core of morality. In the quote you posted, Mill specifically argued that this was unprovable... other then there is no other possible core.

If you make happiness a reasonable foundation of morality, rather than a necessary foundation of morality... we are at the same place. I am happy with asking for logical consistency once we have chosen basic unprovable assertions.

I suspect that in practice, you and I have very similar moral principles and conclusions.


You have to be kidding eb. It makes some people happy strangling people. Bossing people around. Voraciously consuming. All sorts of things too ghastly to list.

You both have similar moral principles because you are both good Christians.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 04:55 pm
When this thread became about vanity it went walkabout.

There are no things without limit except vanity. The Queen's gold-leaf ornamentation on Her coaches and goblets does have a limit in relation to cost. But words are cheap and plentiful.
0 Replies
 
amituttam82
 
  2  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 06:40 pm
Atheism is wrong in that it believes, as do the vast majority of the religions out there that they have it figured out! Atheists know there is no God. They know it is all a giant mechanical machine or some sort of elaborate illusion that is explainable. Nothing exists beyond the logical world that they see. I am an agnostic. I do not believe because I can't accept all the religions of the world. I also reject atheism. I don't think its clear in any way that we don't live in a created world. We may live in a created world or not. All we know is what we know through the testable hypothesis of science given the assumptions made to prove the system. But even the most elaborate theory is based on assumptions. As an agnostic I only accept systems as far as their assumptions take them. Atheists, ironically, make that leap of faith from limited systems to grand explanations so easily or if not explanations then at least leap to rejections way too easily. What makes them leap so easily? We don't know so much. What makes them think they know for sure that large parts of any particular belief system could not be right? As an agnostic you embrace the limited world we live in and keep your mind open to all things but remain a searcher of truth. Until we find the truth or we pass the flame on to the next generation until the end of humanity.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 06:41 pm
@amituttam82,
Another person with no clue about atheism.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 08:46 pm
@amituttam82,
amituttam82 wrote:
As an agnostic I only accept systems as far as their assumptions take them. Atheists, ironically, make that leap of faith from limited systems to grand explanations so easily or if not explanations then at least leap to rejections way too easily. What makes them leap so easily?

Are you equally agnostic about leprechauns, unicorns, and the flying spaghetti monster? If not, I guess that means you disbelieve in them, in which case my next question is: what made you leap so easily?
roger
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 09:15 pm
@ossobuco,
But Frank Apisa would agree.
Eorl
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 09:55 pm
@amituttam82,
The irony here is how many leaps and assumptions you have made. Just to begin with, you've assumed that all those who describe themselves as atheists "know there is no God" when in fact very few actually claim that, and of those that do, there's a very good chance they are right, and that would make them right, not wrong (whether or not you, they or Poseidon are aware of it).

I like and respect your position for yourself, but you assume too much about what others do or don't believe.
0 Replies
 
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 10:11 pm
@Thomas,
This is exactly the sort of question which used to piss off Frank. I asked him once if he were equally agnostic about such matters, and he admitted that he was not. When i asked him why he made a special exception for the question of "god," he displayed an equal honesty, and said that he could not explain that. Frank may have been abrasive often, and sometimes abusive, but i think he was usually honest.

The militant agnostic is little different from the militant atheist or the militant religionist, in that the militant agnostic needs his or her assumptions to be "true" to validate their system of belief. That belief usually is that they are morally superior because of their agnosticism. This was exactly what Frank, in his honesty, would say.
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 11:05 pm
@roger,
roger wrote:

But Frank Apisa would agree.


It's interesting...I have agreed with Frank's arguments on the basis of logic...but, really, the examples Thomas gives give one pause.

There's more to life than logic, I begin to believe.

Or perhaps, logic does not bend to what experience gives great force?
dlowan
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 11:14 pm
@Setanta,
Snap! Well, kind of.
Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 11:33 pm
@dlowan,
I don't know what you mean by "kind of." However, Frank explicitly stated, on more than one occasion, that agnosticism is a morally superior position to take.
Thomas
 
  2  
Reply Wed 14 Apr, 2010 11:36 pm
@dlowan,
dlowan wrote:
There's more to life than logic, I begin to believe.

There is? Fascinating. Now live long and prosper.

http://cookiemag.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/07/03/spock.gif
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2010 04:06 am
@amituttam82,
Quote:
What makes them leap so easily?


A need to. A desire. There are many reasons for those. I have suggested a few.

Once the need or the desire is expressed, usually early in life, they get married to it, argue for it and what began as a whim or a rationalisation, or even a jest, become established by repetition and charged with the emotional energy of self esteem and end up in deadly earnest. A bigoted bore results. It becomes a Hobby-Horse.

Laurence Sterne provides a warning against it on the third page of Chap XIX of Vol I of Tristram Shandy. You can read it online. Doing so is well worth the effort. The book is an advanced education if read very carefully.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2010 04:14 am
@Setanta,
Quote:
However, Frank explicitly stated, on more than one occasion, that agnosticism is a morally superior position to take.


I never got that impresssion and I had a fair amount of discourse with the guy. An intellectually superior position more like. Hardly morally.
0 Replies
 
spendius
 
  1  
Reply Thu 15 Apr, 2010 04:18 am
@Thomas,
Quote:
Are you equally agnostic about leprechauns, unicorns, and the flying spaghetti monster? If not, I guess that means you disbelieve in them, in which case my next question is: what made you leap so easily?


There are two blatant non-sequiturs in that.
0 Replies
 
DrMom
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 10:26 pm
@ebrown p,
Quote:
This thread is to discuss to the type of Atheism that has the following beliefs.


All of you guys are very well versed in these discussions. I am a neophyte and this is my belief. You talk about a certain brand of Atheism like it is Egyptian cotton vs Poly blend for our bed sheets. Atheism does not exist. Only Atheists exist. Just like I am developing disliking for organized religion as I grow, I guess you are not liking organized Atheism. But don't we have a basic human tendency to prove ourselves right? Saying this helps me understand behaviors of so called Pious and religious people. And also it gives me a certain peace of mind knowing that this contradiction between Religionists, Atheists, different groups of Religionists and Different groups of Atheists will continue as long as human life continues. Because we have evolved to survive and as a survival mechanism we try to prove ourselves right and/or prove others wrong as well as look good and/or make others look bad.
DrMom
 
  1  
Reply Wed 5 May, 2010 10:29 pm
I apologize in anticipation of a lot of criticsm. I replied only reading after the first page of discussion thinking that's all. Only after posting did I see all 13 pages. I dont know what else evolved later, so please give me the benefit of my ignorance.
0 Replies
 
 

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