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  • Hey Scott, I'm home from work and I've had a chance now to read your whole post from earlier, as well as the discussion that followed. I have to be honest, I still can't follow your logic. There are a few things I'd just like to touch on.

    Originally posted by Scott F View Post
    Atheism is meaningless without a metaphysical belief that materialism is true.
    I think this quote represents a fundamental flaw in your conception of atheism. Atheism is not meaningless. It's not meaningful either. Atheism is not a worldview, though it seems from the way you write about it that you think it is. You might as well talk about my being unconvinced of the existence of unicorns as meaningless. I don't look to my unbelief in unicorns for meaning, and I certainly don't derive any from it. It's just my current stance on a specific question on a single topic.

    Also, atheism doesn't necessarily lead to an acceptance of materialism (though certainly many atheists are materialists). I'm an atheist, which means that I'm not convinced that a supernatural god exists, but this doesn't mean that I claim reality is nothing more than matter and energy. It might be, but it also might not be. I consider it likely that there's a lot about reality that we're not even capable of perceiving or comprehending, we're pretty limited organisms after all. Personally, I have a feeling that we humans hold a lot of fundamental misconceptions about what we call reality. It only makes sense, we've evolved to perceive the world in a way that's useful to use.

    Not to beat this horse further, but again...

    Originally posted by Scott F View Post
    What is the point of atheism if an atheist isn't grounding his belief in materialism? Show me an atheist who doesn't so.
    I think I just covered that pretty well. I don't really care so much about the materialism thing at the moment, more about you seeing that there actually isn't a "point" to atheism, no more so than there is a point to not believing in unicorns. Maybe we can agree on that?

    Originally posted by Scott F View Post
    I really don't care to rehash all this stuff. I did enough of that back in the old Usnet. What I get tired of, though, are the smug put downs on theists that can only be based upon that atheist's arguing a moral realism of his own.
    Sure, I agree that putdowns and smugness generally aren't helpful. Regarding the bit about morality though -- I'm an atheist, and I made my argument for the existence of an objective morality in my first response to you a couple pages back. I honestly don't see that you've managed to refute it.

    Originally posted by Scott F View Post
    I didn't say they had to reject morality. Any sociology class will talk about morality and cultural moral codes. That class will put "right and wrong" within cultural norms (normative ethics), aka Cultural Relativism. That doesn't mean you don't have your moral preferences; beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What it mean, however, is that you (or anyone else) could have no rational justification to argue that your moral preferences are somehow factually superior.
    This is, of course, the conclusion that we disagree about.

    See, here's the thing, it's true that "good" and "evil" are subjective (you used these terms in a prior post). I certainly don't have an issue with that. My argument is that morality isn't about good and evil. Morality is about well-being, and well-being is something that can be objectively assessed (I argued on a previous page that well-being is analogous to health, if that helps). If morality is concerned with well-being, then we actually can be rationally justified in distinguishing the moral superiority of competing claims.

    And sure, different cultures have different norms, and different ideas about right and wrong. But in my view there is an objective morality, and I would say that it is theoretically possible to compare various cultures (our own included, of course) and to point out specific examples of where one is actually, objectively, morally superior to another.

    Comment


    • Oh man, Paleobird beat me to the atheism/materialism issue. Damn my longwindedness.

      Comment


      • Originally posted by ciep View Post
        Oh man, Paleobird beat me to the atheism/materialism issue. Damn my longwindedness.
        That's OK. Great minds thinking alike. You just covered it more thoroughly.

        Comment


        • Originally posted by Mr. Slate View Post
          Here is something to ponder if we are not suppose to eat grain. Why did Jesus say I am the BREAD of life? Grain is all through the Bible. Have we made a wrong turn?
          uuuhh, because the bible isn't factual to begin with? lol.

          Comment


          • Originally posted by jorjor View Post
            uuuhh, because the bible isn't factual to begin with? Lol.
            ftmfw.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
              First of all, there are several different definitions of materialism.

              Webster says:
              ma·te·ri·al·ism noun \mə-ˈtir-ē-ə-ˌli-zəm\

              Definition of MATERIALISM

              1a : a theory that physical matter is the only or fundamental reality and that all being and processes and phenomena can be explained as manifestations or results of matter

              1b : a doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress

              2: a preoccupation with or stress upon material rather than intellectual or spiritual things
              — ma·te·ri·al·ist noun or adjective
              — ma·te·ri·al·is·tic adjective
              — ma·te·ri·al·is·ti·cal·ly adverb

              You are using definition1a whereas BestBetter's comment about the pope's material possessions was definition 1b and some of 2.

              Even by definition 1a however, I still don't see that atheism=materialism. It may for some individuals but it may not for others. Try to refrain from painting all atheists with broad brush strokes just as you insist that not all theists are the same.

              While I definitely do not believe in a creator, that doesn't mean that my reality stops at the material. That would deny love, beauty, wonder, and joy. Love is not a material thing but it definitely exists.
              The unspoken connection between atheism and materialism is Ayn Rand, the ultimate atheistic materialist who is simultaneously held as an icon by those on the religious right who hold greed to be a virtue.

              However, since I don't think I've ever read anything she wrote, I guess that must mean I don't exist.

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Mr. Slate View Post
                Here is something to ponder if we are not suppose to eat grain. Why did Jesus say I am the BREAD of life? Grain is all through the Bible. Have we made a wrong turn?
                Your question is interesting to ponder. The wrong turn may have taken place approximately 8,000 years earlier when humans began to cultivate grains in mass. But then that gives reason to question the legitimacy of the Bible and the religions it's tied to. Perhaps the Paleo and Primal diets are a creation of Satan--like fossils--meant to deceive us and lead us away from salvation. Hmm....

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Paleobird View Post
                  Even by definition 1a however, I still don't see that atheism=materialism. It may for some individuals but it may not for others. Try to refrain from painting all atheists with broad brush strokes just as you insist that not all theists are the same.

                  While I definitely do not believe in a creator, that doesn't mean that my reality stops at the material. That would deny love, beauty, wonder, and joy. Love is not a material thing but it definitely exists.
                  Good point. He then goes even further astray by insisting that atheists must embrace moral relativism, lest they be labeled "hypocrites."

                  But not even "moral relativism" in the sense that one might understand morality to be relative, but rather that atheists necessarily cannot (or will not) ascribe any weight to one value over another. I was completely lost by the implication that a position taken by the United Nations on universal human rights is no different than religious dogma; thus one must accept both or neither to avoid being a hypocrite. What??

                  He seems to be suggesting that religious belief is just like any other system of values created and followed by man, I guess?
                  Last edited by UTfootball747; 04-03-2013, 07:28 PM.

                  Comment


                  • Maybe he said it because bread is poor people food and the poor and miserable generally need a reason for their plight. Religion helps to swallow the inequities of reality.

                    I would argue that atheists can be more moral/ethical than believers. Believers are good because they expect the ultimate reward. Atheists are good because being good is its own reward. No cookie treat required.
                    "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

                    B*tch-lite

                    Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by ciep View Post
                      Hey Scott, I'm home from work and I've had a chance now to read your whole post from earlier, as well as the discussion that followed. I have to be honest, I still can't follow your logic. There are a few things I'd just like to touch on.



                      I think this quote represents a fundamental flaw in your conception of atheism. Atheism is not meaningless. It's not meaningful either. Atheism is not a worldview, though it seems from the way you write about it that you think it is. You might as well talk about my being unconvinced of the existence of unicorns as meaningless. I don't look to my unbelief in unicorns for meaning, and I certainly don't derive any from it. It's just my current stance on a specific question on a single topic.

                      Also, atheism doesn't necessarily lead to an acceptance of materialism (though certainly many atheists are materialists). I'm an atheist, which means that I'm not convinced that a supernatural god exists, but this doesn't mean that I claim reality is nothing more than matter and energy. It might be, but it also might not be. I consider it likely that there's a lot about reality that we're not even capable of perceiving or comprehending, we're pretty limited organisms after all. Personally, I have a feeling that we humans hold a lot of fundamental misconceptions about what we call reality. It only makes sense, we've evolved to perceive the world in a way that's useful to use.

                      Not to beat this horse further, but again...



                      I think I just covered that pretty well. I don't really care so much about the materialism thing at the moment, more about you seeing that there actually isn't a "point" to atheism, no more so than there is a point to not believing in unicorns. Maybe we can agree on that?



                      Sure, I agree that putdowns and smugness generally aren't helpful. Regarding the bit about morality though -- I'm an atheist, and I made my argument for the existence of an objective morality in my first response to you a couple pages back. I honestly don't see that you've managed to refute it.



                      This is, of course, the conclusion that we disagree about.

                      See, here's the thing, it's true that "good" and "evil" are subjective (you used these terms in a prior post). I certainly don't have an issue with that. My argument is that morality isn't about good and evil. Morality is about well-being, and well-being is something that can be objectively assessed (I argued on a previous page that well-being is analogous to health, if that helps). If morality is concerned with well-being, then we actually can be rationally justified in distinguishing the moral superiority of competing claims.

                      And sure, different cultures have different norms, and different ideas about right and wrong. But in my view there is an objective morality, and I would say that it is theoretically possible to compare various cultures (our own included, of course) and to point out specific examples of where one is actually, objectively, morally superior to another.
                      Well I'm the first to admit I'm not the best at writing out my thoughts. I find myself leaving out words, etc. I think it's related to asperger's.

                      The quote I posted from A Catholic Thinker - The Incoherence of Atheism lays it out my arguments pretty well. The other definition of materialism (BestBetter's comment about the pope's material possessions) is not metaphysics.

                      I and the author of the above link both said that in and of itself you can be an atheist and not hold to a belief in materialism.

                      But a non-materialistic atheist undermines his arguments against god...."Of course materialism goes very naturally hand-in-hand with atheism: atheism is a direct corollary of materialism. (Although a non-materialistic atheistic worldview is entirely possible, it’s not much accepted." Why? Because Materialism makes it easier to argue against the existence of god.

                      Materialism undermines the belief in god(s) and it undermines the belief in objective morals, Moral Realism, and arguments to human rights violations such as those in wars (Crusades) and who is a person. So while an atheist doesn't have to be a materialist,...... a materialist must be an atheist:
                      Alanyzer: Four Difficulties for Materialism
                      "Pastore does fall into the common conflation of atheism and materialism. Technically speaking, one can be an atheist without being a materialist. (The converse is not true, however, since no standard account of God allows God to be a material being.) Pastore's conflation is understandable, however, because a great many (if not most) atheists are materialists." Even if they don't realize it themselves.

                      i) Materialism is assumed to be true by nearly all atheists – this is clear from the way they argue. I am not just talking about the run-of-the-mill Dawkins and Hitchens fan but Dawkins and Hitchens themselves....ii) Materialism is commonly mistaken for science by these people, who use the two words almost interchangeably (or rather never use “materialism” when they mean “materialism”
                      Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by JoanieL View Post
                        I would argue that atheists can be more moral/ethical than believers. Believers are good because they expect the ultimate reward. Atheists are good because being good is its own reward. No cookie treat required.
                        Only if that atheist believes in supernatural "goodness" does your argument hold. Your argument presuppose the existence of a factual, objective non-natural quality that's imposed upon reality.
                        G. E. Moore - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
                        Good as indefinable
                        Moore contended that goodness cannot be analysed in terms of any other property. In Principia Ethica, he writes:
                        It may be true that all things which are good are also something else, just as it is true that all things which are yellow produce a certain kind of vibration in the light. And it is a fact, that Ethics aims at discovering what are those other properties belonging to all things which are good. But far too many philosophers have thought that when they named those other properties they were actually defining good; that these properties, in fact, were simply not "other," but absolutely and entirely the same with goodness. (§ 10 ¶ 3)

                        Therefore, we cannot define "good" by explaining it in other words. We can only point to an action or a thing and say "That is good." Similarly, we cannot describe to a blind person exactly what yellow is. We can only show a sighted person a piece of yellow paper or a yellow scrap of cloth and say "That is yellow."

                        Good as a non-natural property
                        In addition to categorising "good" as indefinable, Moore also emphasized that it is a non-natural property. This means that it cannot be empirically or scientifically tested or verified - it is not within the bounds of "natural science".
                        Would I be putting a grain-feed cow on a fad diet if I took it out of the feedlot and put it on pasture eating the grass nature intended?

                        Comment


                        • @Scott F. My only belief is that I am not here to shit on other people to make myself happy. It has not much spiritual component. I don't need spirituality to know that murder, stealing, and hurting are wrong - in fact, I think they are diseases of the mind.

                          If good is indefinable, then we are just monkeys. I'm too egotistic to accept that. If you cause another to say ouch, it's probably not good. It's just not that complex.
                          "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

                          B*tch-lite

                          Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by Scott F View Post
                            Only if that atheist believes in supernatural "goodness" does your argument hold. Your argument presuppose the existence of a factual, objective non-natural quality that's imposed upon reality.
                            I'm sorry, but that's bullshit. The idea that, to properly have 'values,' have views on 'right vs. wrong,' to be 'moral,' one must believe in the "supernatural"? Why? You seem to be insistent that these values MUST be held as objective--but they're often not. I believe in dying with dignity. I believe that a terminally ill individual should be able to seek assistance in dying on their own terms. But I don't insist that anyone who disagrees with me is objectively wrong, or bad, or immoral. That doesn't mean that I won't fight for ideas that I hold to be important. But even for values or concepts held to be objectively 'right.' Why must those come from a "supernatural" source?

                            There are people on this planet that believe killing an animal, for any reason, is wrong. I disagree with them. Perhaps they think me immoral, and that's fine...but I think the notion that there's one cosmic, "correct" answer to these questions is silly. In any event, it's irrelevant to real life. To believe one holds the answer to these questions is pure hubris...and it doesn't get much worse than believing that you follow the one, 'true' religion, and everyone else is damned. Sure, on some questions there is a great deal of agreement. Again, the majority's will generally prevails, even as it changes drastically over time. To argue this is somehow demands the "supernatural" is, frankly, absurd. But I have no doubt that you can find hundreds of writings from The Catholic Church that back you up! If there ever was an example of man's utter failing to actually adhere to the "supernatural" proclamations he claims to follow...
                            Last edited by UTfootball747; 04-04-2013, 05:20 AM.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by JoanieL View Post
                              Maybe he said it because bread is poor people food and the poor and miserable generally need a reason for their plight. Religion helps to swallow the inequities of reality.

                              I would argue that atheists can be more moral/ethical than believers. Believers are good because they expect the ultimate reward. Atheists are good because being good is its own reward. No cookie treat required.

                              I love this

                              Comment


                              • ...and while we're quoting things that support our arguments...

                                This is a Hobbesian view: in the state of nature “[t]he notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice have no place. Where there is no common power, there is no law: where no law, no injustice.” But no atheist has to agree with this account of morality, and lots of us do not. We “moralistic atheists” do not see right and wrong as artifacts of a divine protection racket. Rather, we find moral value to be immanent in the natural world, arising from the vulnerabilities of sentient beings and from the capacities of rational beings to recognize and to respond to those vulnerabilities and capacities in others.
                                First let’s take a cold hard look at the consequences of pinning morality to the existence of God. Consider the following moral judgments — judgments that seem to me to be obviously true:

                                • It is wrong to drive people from their homes or to kill them because you want their land.

                                • It is wrong to enslave people.

                                • It is wrong to torture prisoners of war.

                                • Anyone who witnesses genocide, or enslavement, or torture, is morally required
                                to try to stop it.

                                To say that morality depends on the existence of God is to say that none of these specific moral judgments is true unless God exists. That seems to me to be a remarkable claim. If God turned out not to exist — then slavery would be O.K.? There’d be nothing wrong with torture? The pain of another human being would mean nothing?
                                This will seem a harsh judgment on the many theists who subscribe to what is called Divine Command Theory — the view that what is morally good is constituted by what God commands. Defenders of D.C.T. will say that their theory explains a variety of things about morality that non-theistic accounts of moral value cannot, and that it should be preferred for that reason. For example, they will say that atheists cannot explain the objectivity of morality — how there could be moral truths that are independent of any human being’s attitudes, will or knowledge, and how moral truths could hold universally. It is true that D.C.T. would explain these things. If God exists, then He exists independently of human beings and their attitudes, and so His commands do, too. If we didn’t invent God, then we didn’t invent His commands, and hence didn’t invent morality. We can be ignorant of God’s will, and hence mistaken about what is morally good. Because God is omnipresent, His commands apply to all people at all times and in all places.

                                That’s all fine. It would follow from D.C.T. that moral facts are objective. The problem is that it wouldn’t follow that they are moral. Commands issued by a tyrant would have all the same features. For D.C.T. to explain morality, it must also explain what makes God good.

                                The problem I’m pointing to is an ancient one, discussed by Plato. In his dialogue “Euthyphro,” the eponymous character tries to explain his conception of piety to Socrates: “the pious acts,” Euthyphro says, are those which are loved by the gods.” But Socrates finds this definition ambiguous, and asks Euthyphro: “are the pious acts pious because they are loved by the gods, or are the pious acts loved by the gods because they are pious?”
                                D.C.T. is arguably even more radical and bizarre than the Hobbesian nihilism I discussed earlier. On the nihilistic view, there is no pretense that a sovereign’s power would generate moral obligation — the view is rather that “morality” is an illusion. But D.C.T. insists both that there is such a thing as moral goodness, and that it is defined by what God commands. This makes for really appalling consequences, from an intuitive, moral point of view. D.C.T. entails that anything at all could be “good” or “right” or “wrong.” If God were to command you to eat your children, then it would be “right” to eat your children. The consequences are also appalling from a religious point of view. If all “moral” means is “commanded by God,” then we cannot have what we would otherwise have thought of as moral reasons for obeying Him.
                                Link.

                                The point: You seem to be hung up on the philosophical. . . which is fine. But hopefully you're not under the misperception that all PhDs and philosophers break towards your argument.
                                Last edited by UTfootball747; 04-04-2013, 05:45 AM.

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