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Can Atheists learn to speak Theist?

 
 
Reply Mon 2 Sep, 2019 06:55 pm
Assuming that there is only one reality and every form of language and concept humans have developed refers to some perception/experience of reality, then it is theoretically possible for any human to learn to understand the language/concepts of any 'foreign' culture, given sufficient access to explanations/experiences that adequately convey what true believers of the language/concepts mean when using those language/concepts.

By that logic, it is possible for someone who is truly atheist in their beliefs about reality to learn the language of religion(s) and understand the meanings therein without necessarily becoming convinced of the existence of a creator.

Doing so, however, would require atheists to bracket their interest in subverting theism and anything else derived from religious culture; so the question becomes whether there are any atheists who would ever be willing to put their opposition to religion aside in order to simply understand religion and communicate with believers in a way that respects what those believers understand and mean with the language and concepts they use, which are derived from religious culture.
 
maxdancona
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Sep, 2019 10:09 pm
@livinglava,
I am not sure I understand the question. I went from being a devout Christian to being something of an atheist (I hedge that term because I am a lower-case atheist). A couple of thoughts.

1) Of course an atheist can use and understand religious language.

When a religious person says "I am praying for you" everyone understands this as a phrase of comfort and concern. I have heard Atheists say they will do something "if the Spirit moves us" with the same meaning as a religious person uses. and we all know what the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" means.

2) I don't think you are using the word "subvert" correctly.

3) You seem to be referring to a specific group of people when you use the term "atheist". Most atheists don't oppose religion... and many of them simply don't care.



knaivete
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 12:00 am
@livinglava,
They might need lessons in pentecostal glossolalia first.



0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 01:06 am
@livinglava,
A more pressing question is can "Christians" actually follow the teachings of Christ?

And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19 24.

Judging from the behaviour of most right wing "Christians" one would have thought he said the opposite.
livinglava
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 07:01 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

I am not sure I understand the question. I went from being a devout Christian to being something of an atheist (I hedge that term because I am a lower-case atheist). A couple of thoughts.

That doesn't mean you ever really understood religious language and meanings. Many people are raised with religion but they never get more than a superficial aesthetic understanding of spiritual things like fictional beings depicted in the movies.

An angel, for example, doesn't need to have wings or even exist in a dimensional way to be an agent of spiritual action. An angel can be a convergent of seemingly-disjunct occurrences that result in an effect. Many people can't understand things like this because they go beyond the level where you can visually identify entities as having contiguous bodies with volume/shape/etc.

Quote:
When a religious person says "I am praying for you" everyone understands this as a phrase of comfort and concern. I have heard Atheists say they will do something "if the Spirit moves us" with the same meaning as a religious person uses. and we all know what the phrase "God helps those who help themselves" means.

Yes, but praying to God puts you into a certain immediacy with God. If you reject the belief/experience of God, you can't understand the power of prayer.

Quote:
3) You seem to be referring to a specific group of people when you use the term "atheist". Most atheists don't oppose religion... and many of them simply don't care.

If they didn't care, they wouldn't reject God/religion. They would just accept it as an aspect of culture. They have to care about rejecting it to reject it. Otherwise rejecting it would not be worth the trouble of going beyond indifference.

This actually gets into a more interesting issue, which is why people get annoyed by coming in contact with things they are indifferent toward. E.g. you might be indifferent toward a certain movie or TV program, but when people keep talking about it around you and to you, you start to feel like maybe it's a problem that you're not part of the group and so you have to decide whether it's relevant enough for you to join in by watching or to be annoyed that everyone else is making such a big deal out of something that isn't worth it.

Atheists don't understand the value of religion, which is probably why it annoys them that others make such a big deal out of it - and that is why they actively reject religion instead of just accepting it.

Face it, if they understood what it was about religion that was so moving to religious people, they would appreciate religion instead of rejecting it. It's only because they fail to be moved that they reject it.

livinglava
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 07:05 am
@izzythepush,
izzythepush wrote:

A more pressing question is can "Christians" actually follow the teachings of Christ?

And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. Matthew 19 24.

Judging from the behaviour of most right wing "Christians" one would have thought he said the opposite.

The reason it's hard to be rich and reach heaven is that it's difficult to detach emotionally from the benefits of being rich in order to see how spiritual benefits that are independent of material value could actually be more valuable than the material spoils of the world.

You don't have to be rich to be materialistic, though. Many poor and middle-class people are just as convinced that true happiness lies in material gain and they think old fashioned ideas like "money can't buy happiness" and "the best things in life are free" are just consolation BS for 'losers.'

izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 08:54 am
@livinglava,
You have an evangelical movement which is all about enriching its members and loudly supporting a serial womaniser, cheat, and pervert who fancies his own daughter for president.

Your Evangelicals hate everything about Christianity EXCEPT THE NAME.

They spend all their time doing the exact opposite of what Christ preached.

Christ was a Socialist, and if you're not a Socialist you're not a Christian.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 09:25 am
@livinglava,
I disagree with you on one point. You seem to be arguing that dismissing something is the same as opposing it. I don't believe in the Loch Ness monster. However I don't care enough about the Loch Ness monster issue to even argue about it (unless it is for fun with my nephew). There are other beliefs that I feel strongly enough against to actively oppose (e.g. the claim that vaccines cause autism).

The rest of what you are saying is that your personal religious experience is real. And, of course it is. You seem to be implying that I can't understand your religious experience because I don't share it. I won't argue the point even though I myself have a religious experience in the context of biblical Christianity.

I have a good friend who sees angels. She points them out to me. I don't experience them myself but they are real to her. I accept her angels as real. They are important to me because they are meaningful to her. She knows me pretty well, she knows I believe in science. We can understand each other even though we have different perspectives.

You don't have to have the same religious dogma in order to share meaningful experiences with each other.
livinglava
 
  -1  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 10:15 am
@izzythepush,
izzythepush wrote:

You have an evangelical movement which is all about enriching its members and loudly supporting a serial womaniser, cheat, and pervert who fancies his own daughter for president.

Your Evangelicals hate everything about Christianity EXCEPT THE NAME.

They spend all their time doing the exact opposite of what Christ preached.

Christ was a Socialist, and if you're not a Socialist you're not a Christian.

Socialism undermines individual liberty. Jesus may have implored people to love each other, but that is not what socialism is. Socialism is enslaving people to central economic planning in dismissal of the hope that personal liberty can produce a good, just, and sustainable society/world.

Socialism may emerge from the debris of liberty as it collapses under the weight of greed, egotism, and other immorality; but the ideal that individuals possess the capacity to govern themselves in a way that achieves the greatest good for all, including sustainability; is within reach for humans as a species. We just seem to keep tripping ourselves and each other up with sin.
izzythepush
 
  3  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 10:25 am
@livinglava,
Lies, lies lies.

You don't know what Socialism is, you're indoctrinated.
0 Replies
 
livinglava
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 10:30 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

I disagree with you on one point. You seem to be arguing that dismissing something is the same as opposing it. I don't believe in the Loch Ness monster. However I don't care enough about the Loch Ness monster issue to even argue about it (unless it is for fun with my nephew). There are other beliefs that I feel strongly enough against to actively oppose (e.g. the claim that vaccines cause autism).

The Loch Ness monster is a good example. You may not believe in it, but you don't actively deny it in resistance to all those who believe in it. Atheists are in conflict with theism and theists. They construe God and other spiritual entities to be silly imaginary material entities, like the Loch Ness monster, in order to use materialist/realist logic against spirituality.

In reality, spirituality is not like materialism. God, Satan, angels, demons, heaven, hell, purgatory, etc. don't exist in the same way that animals and mountains and buildings exist. They are not material entities with volume, etc. They are configurations of actions/experiences that connect to procure effects. They are not centrally controlled, though they can be experienced/perceived as such, which is why it is possible to personify/anthropomorphize them as entities with intentional agency, like people.

Quote:
The rest of what you are saying is that your personal religious experience is real. And, of course it is. You seem to be implying that I can't understand your religious experience because I don't share it. I won't argue the point even though I myself have a religious experience in the context of biblical Christianity.

Somehow religious believers are sometimes able to understand what they mean using religious language. We can watch Christian TV or listen to sermons and understand what the talk means. Atheists don't seem to be able to understand it, because they don't allow themselves to spiritually experience the meaning of 'God,' because they are too busy questioning His existence.

Quote:
I have a good friend who sees angels. She points them out to me. I don't experience them myself but they are real to her. I accept her angels as real. They are important to me because they are meaningful to her. She knows me pretty well, she knows I believe in science. We can understand each other even though we have different perspectives.

Have you considered the possibility that what she perceives as angels might not be angels? Or do you think that whatever someone wants to project onto a given religious concept, like God or angels, is their own prerogative and there's no such thing as BSing oneself and others using religious language?

Quote:
You don't have to have the same religious dogma in order to share meaningful experiences with each other.

Of course not, but that's not what this thread is about. It's about atheists learning to understand theist/religious language well enough to be able to follow sermons and other Christian media/texts.

It's basically the same as asking whether someone who loves action movies, thrillers, comedies, sitcoms, etc. but can't stand soap operas can learn to watch and understand soap operas in the same way as devoted soap opera viewers.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 10:34 am
@livinglava,
I view God in the aame way I view the Loch Ness monster. I dont think He exists. I don't mind if other people have faith.

If you stopped believing in God, do you think your ability to understand religious TV would instantly go away? That wasn't my experience.
bobsal u1553115
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 10:52 am
@livinglava,
Good lord, yes.
livinglava
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 11:01 am
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

I view God in the aame way I view the Loch Ness monster. I dont think He exists. I don't mind if other people have faith.

For the Loch Ness monster to exist, it would have to have evolved within a line of reptiles/amphibians/dinosaurs and have enough food to eat and oxygen, etc.

For God to exist, there has only to be creative power throughout the universe. To understand how God is different from material entities, you have to realize that all material entities exist vis-a-vis other entities and environments that they are identified as being separate from.

God, on the other hand, is something that we extrapolate about the nature of existence from a general understanding of how power works and how nature is unified even while it is separated into many seemingly different forms.

Quote:
If you stopped believing in God, do you think your ability to understand religious TV would instantly go away? That wasn't my experience.

For me to stop believing in God, I would have to change my understanding of God to refer to something that I could construe as unbelievable in my mind, like the Loch Ness monster.

If I did that, I would only stop believing in the strawman of God I created to render Him doubtworthy in my mind. At another, truer level, I would still know that there was higher power in the universe because it manifests all the time in all the lower-level phenomena.

Not believing in God would be like living on Earth and not believing in the sun even though practically everything you see happening and experience is powered by sunlight in some way or other.

If you deny the existence of the sun, you would still have to make sense of the existence of sunlight and all it does, because there's just no getting around that, except maybe by further denial e.g. viewing all living things as objects and not thinking about them as energetic processes of life with an energy source.
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 11:14 am
@bobsal u1553115,
I think the problem is preachy people, and preachy Atheists are every bit as bad as preachy "Christians."

I use inverted commas because I don't consider those who act completely contrary to Christ's teachings Christian, even though they call themselves that.

I also think there's a problem with people who think they've arrived at the truth instead of still looking.

Did you ever meet Spademaster? He was a genuine Christian, I got on very well with him.
maxdancona
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 11:23 am
@livinglava,
You are setting up a tautology. I don't know how interesting this will be for either of us.

1. Your statement about the Loch Ness monster is logically false (meaning that the logic is invalid). The Loch Ness monster could have been created by God, or it could even be God.

2. Your statement about God is also logically invalid unless I accept your axioms. You are basically arguing that God exists because there is a creative power and therefore God exists. I don't want to argue this (I am already bored)... let's just say we disagree.

3. Here is argument that interests me. I like the equivalence you are setting up... and I can run with that.

I can observe the Sun directly. I see a big fiery ball in the sky, and if I don't wear a hat I get burned. If God showed up as a big face in the sky (or even a big fiery ball), then you are right that I would have to believe in something to explain the giant eyeballs of God peering down from the heavens. Every property of the universe that you ascribe to the Christian God, other people ascribe to other things.

I could stop believing that the Sun is a ball of mostly hydrogen being lit by nuclear fusion. I that wouldn't mean that I have to stop talking about the societal importance of sunlight with the believers.
livinglava
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 01:12 pm
@izzythepush,
izzythepush wrote:

I think the problem is preachy people, and preachy Atheists are every bit as bad as preachy "Christians."

This Bible quote is sometimes referenced in response to those who think that Christians shouldn't preach:
Quote:

Matthew 5

…14You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they set it on a lampstand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.…

livinglava
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 01:31 pm
@maxdancona,
maxdancona wrote:

1. Your statement about the Loch Ness monster is logically false (meaning that the logic is invalid). The Loch Ness monster could have been created by God, or it could even be God.

God doesn't create things randomly. He doesn't have to. Everything has causes and effects. Miracles occur within the parameters of natural cause and effect. If the Loch Ness monster existed, it would occur due to the same natural patterns of cause and effect that account for every organism and species.

Quote:
2. Your statement about God is also logically invalid unless I accept your axioms. You are basically arguing that God exists because there is a creative power and therefore God exists. I don't want to argue this (I am already bored)... let's just say we disagree.

I think the reason we disagree is because you want there to be some identifiable entity as God instead of God existing in and through the universe as a plethora of reflections. We are created in His image and there are numerous patterns that suggest something more universal. E.g. the fact that the universe functions like clockwork suggests that randomness is an illusion and truth/reality is essentially orderly. Whatever you imagine God must be in order to exist or not exist is moot compared with the fact that there is order in the universe and it accounts for the existence and operation of everything, including our consciousness and ability to contemplate it.

Quote:
3. Here is argument that interests me. I like the equivalence you are setting up... and I can run with that.

I can observe the Sun directly. I see a big fiery ball in the sky, and if I don't wear a hat I get burned. If God showed up as a big face in the sky (or even a big fiery ball), then you are right that I would have to believe in something to explain the giant eyeballs of God peering down from the heavens. Every property of the universe that you ascribe to the Christian God, other people ascribe to other things.

You don't observe the sun as an object. You receive energy from it and if you turn your eyes toward the energy, it appears to have a concentrated source that moves through the sky. You don't actually know from looking up whether that concentrated point in the sky is separate from the rest of the light coming down from the blue sky or whether they are part of the same rain of light-energy. If you draw a picture of the blue sky with a yellow sun, you might assume the sun and sky are separate, and in a sense they are because of the atmosphere, but in another sense the sunlight causing the sky to glow blue is part of the sun, so in that sense the sun merges with the atmosphere to create the glowing blue sky.

Quote:
I could stop believing that the Sun is a ball of mostly hydrogen being lit by nuclear fusion. I that wouldn't mean that I have to stop talking about the societal importance of sunlight with the believers.

The sun was an analogy for God as the source of everything that exists. Just as its possible to think of the sky and biosphere as separate from the sun, it is also possible to think of everything in the universe as separate from God.

But once you grasp that the sun is a power source that is connected to the Earth, which causes the sky to glow blue and the water and soil to develop into plants and other life, then how could you even begin to imagine that those living things and blue sky are separate from the sun that's powering them?

Atheism is like carrying a parasol and denying that there is a sun shining above the parasol.
0 Replies
 
izzythepush
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 01:33 pm
@livinglava,
Do you who decided what would be in the Bible?

Or more importantly what was left out?

As usual your answer is incomplete, you ignore my disdain for preachy Atheists in favour of Biblical verse.

The verse is open to interpretation, lead by example, do good deeds, not bend their ear about Jesus night and day.

Do you go out and do good in your life?

You don't have to answer that, not to me anyway, but you need to ask it of yourself. Are you the sort of Christian who does good works, helps people, or do you just scold people for not being Christian enough?
livinglava
 
  0  
Reply Tue 3 Sep, 2019 01:39 pm
@izzythepush,
izzythepush wrote:

Do you who decided what would be in the Bible?

Or more importantly what was left out?

As usual your answer is incomplete, you ignore my disdain for preachy Atheists in favour of Biblical verse.

The verse is open to interpretation, lead by example, do good deeds, not bend their ear about Jesus night and day.

Do you go out and do good in your life?

You don't have to answer that, not to me anyway, but you need to ask it of yourself. Are you the sort of Christian who does good works, helps people, or do you just scold people for not being Christian enough?

Communicating good information is a good deed. If you see the light of truth, why wouldn't it be a good thing to help others see it too? If you assume that everyone's truth is different, it's not. Just as a math teacher shows students the light by teaching them how to solve a math problem, preachers show people the light with what they preach/teach.

Hating and/or getting annoyed at preachers is the same basic reaction that happens to people who hate and get annoyed learning math. Analyze why people react negatively to math learning and you'll understand why people react negatively to preaching and sermons.
 

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