Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

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lunchstealer
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Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by lunchstealer » 13 Feb 2012, 02:44

So I figured the atheism and dickery discussion deserved its own thread.

My own two cents worth:

I grew up in a quasi-podunk Southern town, overrun by Baptists and Methodists, where rejection of Christianity was essentially evidence of severe defect.

There are multiple times when I feel compelled to 'pass' by mentioning my Presbyterian upbringing, and neglecting to mention that I find the whole thing highly unlikely from an intellectual point of view. It's a much milder version of what LGBTQ folk have to go through daily, and I don't really think that it compares, but likewise I feel that there are certain avenues in American life that are closed off to me due to my conscience and my religious beliefs (or lack thereof).

For general purposes, I am skeptically agnostic. I find any given religious belief most likely to be an invention, but find statements of absolute atheism to be foolish in one respect - the question of 'is there something more' simply cannot be answered rationally, and thus is best simply left unasked.
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by dbcooper » 13 Feb 2012, 02:50

I am still hoping to party with an interdimensional John de Lancie lookalike.
Slip inside a sleeping bag.

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Lost_In_Translation
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by Lost_In_Translation » 13 Feb 2012, 07:42

The more I learned about Catholicism and it's history the harder it became to accept it and the teachings and basic chsitianity. The historical figures that wrote the doctrine were constantly bickering, excommunicating and outright murdering each other. Doesn't make for very wise and mystical lessons. So while I'm not vehemently atheist, knowledge killed most of the interest I had in religion.

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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by Pham Nuwen » 13 Feb 2012, 09:18

I think of religion as a crock. However, I don't really think of myself as an atheist either. Is it strange I have no interest in the question? I just don't think it's possible to ever get a satisfying answer. Also, like Lunchstealer, I use my baptist upbringing as a social crutch of sorts at times. I will upon occasion mention my baptist upbringing without pointing out I chucked it out of my life long ago. People get turned off very quickly about you just knowing you think religion is bullshit. I've long suspected its more than just tribalism. There's a good bit of fear involved. About their own doubts. And their mortality.
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by pistoffnick » 13 Feb 2012, 09:39

Heh. I was a goddamned Sunday school teacher. The minister thought I should go to seminary.

Look at me now!

Religion is an uninteresting question to me. (except for some of the kookier belief systems which are interesting only because they are kooky).

I do worry that our children aren't given their daily recommended allowance of kooky religion though. I mean I don't want to force it on them like was done to me, but I would like them to experience church to decide for themselves one day. My wife has no religious upbringing, and sometime misunderstands religious cultural references.
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by JasonL » 13 Feb 2012, 10:01

I've long thought of myself as agnostic, since that seems the technically correct way to describe a lack of knowledge and I am basically a Humean skeptical empiricist. However, I do find myself compelled to the atheist label when I start thinking about "Do I have reason to believe X?" I can't come up with any reason to believe in a man in the sky. Nor telekinesis, nor turning green and getting muscly when you are angry. As a matter of "is this a reasonable view of the organization of the universe?' I have to say "No. Not from where I'm sitting."

I have different feelings about religion as an institution. Do I think it can serve as a hedge against the violent inclinations of man in a state of nature? Maybe. I source most good behavior to moral sentiments, but I'm interested by and have no real answers to the question "whence come our sentiments, and why are they largely common?" It could be, as advocates would suggest, that the judeo christian history of the west has something to do with it. I'm a bit skeptical that the effect is large, thinking of historical religion as a civilizing force in the exact same sense as centralized authority is a civilizing force. It isn't so much that people adopt deep beliefs down in their bones, but that those rules become enforced under a common authority. In general, I suspect people at one level of civilization need a civilizing force that employs a sword, and in general there is a point after that when it becomes less relevant (to not relevant at all) to how modern people act.

I then have to ask what role religion plays in something like terrorism. Tough. I don't think I really understand effects like "now my family can eat" vs. "I really want to do this because I believe its an awesome idea."

So, for truth value, it's a poor explanation of the universe. For institutional utility, I don't really know what to think about it, but I suspect it matters less and less as there are other institutions civilized people focus on. I think the role of religion on modern America is largely things I dislike - such as trying to convince us the world would be better if only sexually oriented people differing from most common flavor were so ashamed they hid from public view.

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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by Aresen » 13 Feb 2012, 10:37

I can recite all my rationalizations for atheism, but there are two emotional "gut" things that predispose me:

1) The scale of the Universe: The part we can see is 28 Billion light years across, contains on the order 1011 galaxies and 1022 stars. [If the Inflationary Universe hypothesis is correct, it is actually many orders of magnitude larger.] I simply cannot imagine that any CREATOR of All Things Visible and Invisible that would give a neutrino's damn about the "Sins" of a bunch of apes living on a rocky planet orbiting a rather ordinary M-class star.

2) The sound of surf on an ocean beach. I love that sound. That sound was pounded into my ancestor's genes for billions of years. I hear that sound and I say to myself "This is where I came from."
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fyodor
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by fyodor » 13 Feb 2012, 11:02

Tiger got to hunt
Bird got to fly
Man got to ask himself why, why, why
Tiger got to rest
Bird got to land
Man got to tell himself he understand


-Kurt Vonnegut in Cat's Cradle
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fyodor
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by fyodor » 13 Feb 2012, 12:07

Hugh Akston wrote:
dhex wrote:
Organized religion is a social phenomenon
and though i boggled/giggled at the concept a few months ago, i'd put a lot more stock in the potential staying power of atheist conventions and summer camps and all that stuff.
It still seems pretty weird to me. Organizing yourself around the absence of a particular thing rather than around some positive belief structure. I guess there are ways to frame atheism positively, but it seems easier just to ignore the God aspect and go to science camp or whatever.
No perfect analogies withstanding, this strikes me a little like it seeming weird that libertarians should seek each other out when what they want is an absence of government.

I.e., it's just not that weird really for people to seek out others of likemindedness. For support if nothing else. More so the more they feel marginalized, which fits into thoreau calling it an oppositional thing.

I have a couple of friends in a nearby atheists club, and I know one of them used to belong to a Wilhelm Reich club, so I guess he just likes joining clubs of likeminded people. On one hand, one can imagine them all discussing how much they all agree with each other, but then again, if one imagined that about a bunch of libertarians.....

(The one friend may see joining such clubs as a way to meet women; the other friend is a woman who recently moved to town to live with her boyfriend, so the like wouldn't likely be her motivation per se, but then she's new to town and her boyfriend is somewhat hermittish so maybe it's a way to make friends...)
Your optimism just confuses and enrages me. - Timothy

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JasonL
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by JasonL » 13 Feb 2012, 15:47

What's more normal and human than organizing yourself around whatever reason you feel marginalized?

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fyodor
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by fyodor » 13 Feb 2012, 15:52

JasonL wrote:What's more normal and human than organizing yourself around whatever reason you feel marginalized?
Finding fault in others? ;)

ETA: I should actually have said, "Finding fault in others based on the reason around which they've organized themselves!
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by Kolohe » 13 Feb 2012, 21:34

You were right the first time, fyodor.
when you wake up as the queen of the n=1 kingdom and mount your steed non sequiturius, do you look out upon all you survey and think “damn, it feels good to be a green idea sleeping furiously?" - dhex

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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by thoreau » 13 Feb 2012, 21:36

fyodor wrote:
JasonL wrote:What's more normal and human than organizing yourself around whatever reason you feel marginalized?
Finding fault in others? ;)

ETA: I should actually have said, "Finding fault in others based on the reason around which they've organized themselves!
I fault you for being too wordy here! :P
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lunchstealer
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by lunchstealer » 14 Feb 2012, 00:13

Kolohe wrote:You were right the first time, fyodor.
That reasoning seems faulty to me.
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by Aresen » 14 Feb 2012, 10:40

lunchstealer wrote:
Kolohe wrote:You were right the first time, fyodor.
That reasoning seems faulty to me.
Hmm. lunchstealer seems to have fallen into the Protofyodorite Fallacy.

Everyone knows that was proven false in the Koholean Treatices.

We may have to send the Shemquisition after him.
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fyodor
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by fyodor » 14 Feb 2012, 17:24

Aresen wrote:
lunchstealer wrote:
Kolohe wrote:You were right the first time, fyodor.
That reasoning seems faulty to me.
Hmm. lunchstealer seems to have fallen into the Protofyodorite Fallacy.

Everyone knows that was proven false in the Koholean Treatices.

We may have to send the Shemquisition after him.
But the one thing we can agree on is:

GRYLLIADE UBER ALLES!!!!!
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by pistoffnick » 14 Feb 2012, 17:38

No one expects the Shemquisition!?!?!

His chief weapon is surprise, and a healthy dose of sarcasm.
...
Amongst his weapons are...
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by the innominate one » 14 Feb 2012, 20:07

I'm an atheist-leaning agnostic. We can't really know unless some omnipotent being decides to let us all know.

I'm strongly in favor of the establishment clause being strongly applied and against de minimis exceptions to it. I'm not anti-religious in the sense of wanting to make atheism enforced by law, but I find the presumption of privilege of the religious in our society extremely tiresome. Religion can be positive or negative, like a lot of different things (technology, especially). I find it largely negative in that it's a constant source of conflict, ranging from islamists committing terrorism to christianists threatening violence (mainly in local school boards).

I find the Catholic church leadership's handling of the child rape scandals so problematic as to warrant a RICO investigation. Faith healers and the like should be investigated for fraud. Religion shouldn't be used as a legal shield. Churches shouldn't be tax-exempt (actually, there should be next to no tax-exempt organizations, or there should be no taxes). Bill Donohue should be deported (personally, I'm surprised that the Catholic church doesn't disavow him as an embarrassment).

I don't care that some might think Dawkins is a dick (again, dickery is in the eye of the beholder), although you might try to provide some reason for your opinion on Dawkins. Give some examples, for example. If that's your opinion, so be it. I don't really care what any one person's opinion is, I just don't want a one sided view presented when I disagree with that view, because of the way opinions spread.

I don't care that some might think Jessica Ahlquist should have sucked it up and graduated high school and just ignored the prayer banner at her school. Strong. Application. Establishment. Clause. And the response from many Christians? The love of Christ Jesus? Forgive her for she knows not what she does? No, let's rape that 16 year old bitch. Stay classy, Christians. Keep turning that other cheek, you oppressed faithful.

The Air Force Academy leadership is apparently rife with evangelical Christianity. It's not enough to be a Christian, you have to be a particular type of Christian. Catholicism is reportedly not good enough. That's very dangerous, for a branch of the military, one that substantially controls the U.S. nuclear arsenal, to be overrun with eschatological Christianity. The secretary of the AF had to issue a memorandum The army reportedly has a spiritual fitness program, which honest atheists continually fail because of the conflation of spirituality with religion (although I don't know why the army should have any kind of spiritual fitness program at all; a psychological fitness program would be more appropriate).

The leadership at Fort Bragg reportedly attempted to force troops there to attend a Christian concert for the purpose of recruiting to Christianity.

There's a reason that so many of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation's clients are Christians, not just atheists. The reason isn't mandatory atheism.

So, if you're a Christian, or a Muslim, Jain, Sikh, Jew, or Pastafarian, I don't have any problem with that per se. I disagree with your beliefs, but you are welcome to them, until you want the government's favor for your belief (I think most if not all here agree with that). Also, if you use your religion to believe demonstrably false things (e.g. young Earth, young universe, evolution's a lie, Hitler used evolution as a reason to kill Jews, timecube, orgone, anti-vax, etc.), I'm going to denounce your religion and your powers of reason. I'm going to disagree with you. I'm going to argue with you. (well, I might just ignore you and put you in the mental box of "idiots not worth talking to"). I'm going to say you were educated stupid.

Offended yet?
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by dhex » 14 Feb 2012, 22:25

I just don't want a one sided view presented when I disagree with that view, because of the way opinions spread.
this is the only really (mildly) offensive thing you've said. i doubt i'm that powerful. (i would like to think so, of course, as it would be beneficial professionally) i'm pretty sure dawkins makes a good living taking care of himself on that front.

but as i've said before, were i involved in public education and science, i'd probably feel differently. but i'm not, so i don't.

anyway, since i brought up the subject of dickery, the reason i don't give the new atheists any mindshare - despite agreeing with them perhaps 90% (or more, even) - is because they generally ignore the single most important aspect of religious belief - the social/community bonds it creates and fosters - and focus on the angry 12 year old atheist aspect, namely that god as a concept is silly. i got a few minutes into a few public presentations that dawkins gave and felt like we were both wasting our time. evangelism can be rhetorically fascinating, but it requires skill; it's actually something he could pick up a few pointers on from some of the less unhinged charismatic pastor types. i get the feeling that "new atheism" is really about evangelism, which may be why i find it distasteful as a cultural current. on the other hand, if you're dealing with a pre-rational phenomenon, you must fight it on equally pre-rational levels.

the only specific thing that's really hit my ugh button is this general idea floating about that educating children in the cultures and religions of their parents is immoral or abusive. or acting like you can separate cultural and religious practices. all culturalization, by that yardstick, is immoral. it all requires the telling of gentle, sweet lies - or even evil/"evil" ones. hell, i've heard the same argument about people who believe in non-mainstream political or social theories, including libertarianism. separating children from the "undue influences" of their parents

but maybe that's what people need? i find it hard to relate. i had a few rough spots growing up because of my naivete about religious belief, some that in retrospect probably deserved a strongly-worded letter (teachers in a public school should probably not be lecturing their students about their religious beliefs or lack thereof, especially when they're neither disruptive nor impeding anyone else's class time) or just a fuck off or three. until the age of 12 i didn't actually realize that people genuinely believed in religion; i figured it was the social aspects that glued everything together (i like to joke that i was a natural born straussian/marxist) and everyone kinda played along, like with money and other social customs. i never even came across the concept of atheism until i read the antichrist.

i did go a bit around the bend for a while, but if you're ever going to get hardcore into antinomian nietzchean displays, junior high is the time to do it. much like college is the best time to get into drugs and organized blasphemy. i feel i learned a lot about the plasticity and power of belief, and really only scared myself a few dozen times. i'd like to think i coined the term "apagnostic" for apathetic agnostic, but i don't believe i did.

anyway, the high school girl in question, as i've pointed out, is an outlier; mostly, i would venture, because most public schools are smart enough to keep those sorts of lawsuit magnets out of the picture. by and large, as poorly as atheists poll in "would you rather elect as president an al qaeda member with herpes, or a law-abiding atheist who is blessedly herpes-free?" surveys, it's simply never going to be hotel rwanda levels of baditude.
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by Fin Fang Foom » 14 Feb 2012, 23:30

Fun Dawkins fact: he's married to the second Romana from Old School Doctor Who.

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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by Highway » 14 Feb 2012, 23:35

Fin Fang Foom wrote:Fun Dawkins fact: he's married to the second Romana from Old School Doctor Who.
Maaaaaaan.....*kicks pebble*

I totally had a crush on Lalla Ward 25 years ago.
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by fyodor » 15 Feb 2012, 12:22

TIO's talk about religions not getting special protection makes me think of the current (or should I say recent cause it's already so last week?) controversy over Obamacare coverage of contraception practices (here I must shamefully confess to my ignorance over whether this is all about abortion per se or other stuff cause I didnt read much past the headlines, but I don't think it affects the larger issues at issue) and the question of church exemption.

Now, as a liberal-minded minarchist, it's easy to have mixed feelings about all this.

But this is what it mostly comes down to for me. It's easy for me to understand why someone (anyone) who has moral objections (of ANY basis, by which I mean religiously derived or otherwise!) has a legitimate beef about being forced to pay, through tax dollars or forced coverage, for practices to which he morally objects (of course, this goes on all the time, but hopefully we can leave that alone for the moment). But I don't see why churches should specifically be exempt from carrying coverage that everyone is being forced to carry (despite whatever moral qualms parts of that everyone else has), nor do I see how requiring such coverage for churches infringes on religious freedom per se. I mean, they can still preach from their pulpits to their congregation and employees and whoever else will listen not to take advantage of that coverage! Right? Just seems that if there's anything noxious to religious conscience about this, it's not limited to requiring churches to carry the same coverage as everyone else. Or is there something I'm missing? (And that may very well relate to details about all this that I'm fuzzy on....)

All that said, I'm also inclined to not be especially interested in this fight (one reason I haven't read much past the headlines) and also somewhat inclined to say oh well let the church babies have their bottle, even if I find their specific justification very dubious.
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by Highway » 15 Feb 2012, 13:26

The entire foofooraw comes down to Group A, who disagrees about Subject 'n' with Group B, wanting to stick a symbolic gesture related to Subject 'n' down the throat of Group B because they can, mostly because they've gotten the sanction of the guys with guns and the supposed monopoly on initiation of force. IMO, neither the contraception mandate, nor the Jessica Ahlquist situation is about an individual's freedoms (freedoms which I would recognize like freedom of speech or freedom of religion), but rather about the 'privilege to impose upon others'.
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by the innominate one » 15 Feb 2012, 13:29

Highway - whom do you think is imposing in the Jessica Ahlquist situation?
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Re: Have you accepted Nothing as your lord and savior?

Post by Highway » 15 Feb 2012, 13:41

the innominate one wrote:Highway - whom do you think is imposing in the Jessica Ahlquist situation?
TIO, I think both sides are wanting to impose their will on the situation. The folks who want to keep the banner as it is want to have the religious nature in the government space, imposing on those who don't like it. And Ahlquist and supports want to impose their imagined 'right to not be offended' on the people who want to keep the banner up.

Basically, what I'm saying is that when there's a situation like that, and it goes to a court to decide, then someone is getting sanction from the government to impose upon the other. It comes to this because I really can't recognize a right for an individual, or group of individuals, to practice their religion in a public space, but I also don't recognize a right for Ahlquist to not be offended by words. The court is making a decision about who gets to choose.
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