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  1. #251
    Paleobird's Avatar
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    What I don't get, Scott, is your insistence on equating atheism with materialism. It's a faulty premise from which the rest of your faulty reasoning proceeds.

    Ya see, I actually have a PhD. I didn't just get complemented (sic) by one once.

    Boy this gets the silly thread of the month award for sure.

  2. #252
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    You know, you CAN believe in the basic tenants and principles and moral ideals behind something without believing absolutely every word as 100% truth.

    This becomes possible when you accept the fallibility of human beings. We may not have written everything down correctly, we may have changed things on purpose in order to achieve our own personal ends, we may even have misunderstood things as they happened.

  3. #253
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    Quote 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 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.
    Uh, ever seen - or even heard about - the mind-blowing treasure stockpiled in the Vatican? The pope is the king of materialism. It even made the news when the new pope Francis I wanted to use an old car in the Vatican's storage instead of getting brand-new one; really freaked people out.

  4. #254
    Scott F's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paleobird View Post
    What I don't get, Scott, is your insistence on equating atheism with materialism. It's a faulty premise from which the rest of your faulty reasoning proceeds.

    Ya see, I actually have a PhD. I didn't just get complemented (sic) by one once.

    Boy this gets the silly thread of the month award for sure.
    Then you missed the post where I said you actually don't have to be both...but atheism loses its grounding without materialism. You can be an atheist and believe in ghosts since ghosts aren't gods.

    At the risk of quoting a bias source, even though the argument is a sound one:

    A Catholic Thinker - The Incoherence of Atheism

    Materialism

    Materialism is a philosophy that states, simply, that matter is all that exists – period. There is no God because we cannot see Him. There are no human souls because we cannot detect them physically by any means we’re aware of. The philosophy of materialism is the cornerstone of the atheist’s worldview, and a couple large issues can be pointed out about that fact at the outset:

    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. Anyone who argues a philosophical position by essentially assuming what they’re trying to prove is chasing their tale.

    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”, because science is something no one can deny). But materialism and true science have nothing in common – science, by the definition that actually virtually everyone accepts, is the study of the natural world. Science itself says nothing at all about things outside the natural world – it doesn’t say that the physical world is all there is, which is what materialism postulates. In reality, atheists use the word “science” to shield materialism, because they are well-aware that materialism is not nearly such an easy sell.

    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. I think one reason is that “giving” on materialism makes the existence of God that much easier – likely – and generally atheists don’t like that.)

    Lest anyone (who is not widely educated on these topics) suspect I am misrepresenting the naturalists’ position, here's a quote from famous Harvard biologist Richard Lewontin (emphasis is mine):

    "Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door."

    Note just what he is saying here - atheists are rarely so candid! He is stating directly that:

    1) His materialistic philosophy drives his science: he imposes it upon his science, and does not allow the possibility of any conclusion that contradicts this philosophy.

    2) The above results not infrequently in constructs that are not just untenable or "against common sense" but downright "patently absurd".

    3) It is not at all anything scientific that drives him to materialism: it is his a priori belief/preference.

    And we should trust such a person to come up with the correct answers to the great truths of life - why?

    Let this quote - which I suspect Dr. Lewontin wishes he'd never put in print - be a lesson to all the disciples of the New Atheists who think they're really guided by science and impartial with regard to evidence. Now, Lewontin implies above that science and materialism are one and the same but that is not at all the case, and that is provable by this simple fact: one can engage in science, using the scientific method, while not accepting 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?

  5. #255
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    My Primal Journal - Food, pics, the occasional rant, so...the usual.

    I love cooking. It's sexy science that you stuff in your face. - carlh

  6. #256
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    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.

  7. #257
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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.

    Quote 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...

    Quote 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?

    Quote 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.

    Quote 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.

  8. #258
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    Oh man, Paleobird beat me to the atheism/materialism issue. Damn my longwindedness.

  9. #259
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    Quote 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.

  10. #260
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    Quote 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.

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