When is it atheism?

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Tarski
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Post by Tarski »

dartagnan wrote:
I didn't say it was the cause or catalyst. I don't know how many times I have to say this. What history shows, at the very least, is that atheist dictators are more likely to commit such atrocities. That they feel it is all right seems reasonable to assume since they do it. Why would a dictator do anything he felt wasn't right?


Why is the word atheist in there????

Why not
What history shows, at the very least, is that modern dictators are more likely to commit such atrocities. That they feel it is all right seems reasonable to assume since they do it.


or

What history shows, at the very least, is that marxist dictators are more likely to commit such atrocities. That they feel it is all right seems reasonable to assume since they do it.


or

What history shows, at the very least, is that short dictators are more likely to commit such atrocities. That they feel it is all right seems reasonable to assume since they do it.


You see, these dictators you have in mind had more in common than atheism. The fact that you use the word atheist shows that you think that this is the crucial feature. But that's exactly the question isn't it? You beg the question and thereby display a prior prejudice.
when believers want to give their claims more weight, they dress these claims up in scientific terms. When believers want to belittle atheism or secular humanism, they call it a "religion". -Beastie

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dartagnan
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Post by dartagnan »

Whether a dictator is short, modern or marxist cannot be the cause for his actions since we have already established that the cause isn't beliefs, but rather human nature itself. What I am talking about now is the absence of a requisite inhibitor. Religion is successful in making bad people better people, and it can work to inhibit a human's tendency to commit genocide on his own people. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the dictators of the past century who killed their own population, lacked this inhibitor. And by lacking the inhibitor, we are talking about lacking religion (i.e. being an atheist).

OK, enough for tonight.
“All knowledge of reality starts from experience and ends in it...Propositions arrived at by purely logical means are completely empty as regards reality." - Albert Einstein

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Tarski
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Post by Tarski »

dartagnan wrote:Whether a dictator is short, modern or marxist cannot be the cause for his actions since we have already established that the cause isn't beliefs, but rather human nature itself. What I am talking about now is the absence of a requisite inhibitor. Religion is successful in making bad people better people, and it can work to inhibit a human's tendency to commit genocide on his own people. It is no coincidence, therefore, that the dictators of the past century who killed their own population, lacked this inhibitor. And by lacking the inhibitor, we are talking about lacking religion (I.e. being an atheist).
.


I don't believe it. All, one needs is a belief in right and wrong and desire to act morally and these are just as easy to teach as religion. (Hey, that was a damn good point if I do say so myself)

Besides, the Santa story helps keep kids from being naughty but that is a hardly a good argument for keeping kids believing the Santa story for as long as possible.
when believers want to give their claims more weight, they dress these claims up in scientific terms. When believers want to belittle atheism or secular humanism, they call it a "religion". -Beastie

yesterday's Mormon doctrine is today's Mormon folklore.-Buffalo

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The Dude
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Post by The Dude »

What history shows, at the very least, is that atheist dictators are more likely to commit such atrocities.


Which leaders count as dictators? Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, who else? Saddam. Brazil had a military dictatorship for while. Was Brigham Young a dictator?

Which actions count as atrocities? The holocaust. The Cultural Revolution? Darfur? Kosovo and Bosnia? Invading Iraq the second time? Mountain Meadows? 9-11?

Now which leaders were atheists? Which definition of atheism should we count for this, strong atheism or weak?

Somehow I expect we will end up drawing a list of so-called dictators, make "atrocity" part of defining who goes on that list, and then take whatever deifinition of "atheism" makes the list run the longest. Then declare Dart the winner.
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The Dude
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Post by The Dude »

dartagnan wrote:What I am talking about now is the absence of a requisite inhibitor. Religion is successful in making bad people better people, and it can work to inhibit a human's tendency to commit genocide on his own people.


Emphasis mine.

So are saying Religion makes people better and lack of religion makes them worse, or it fails to make them better. This would be a distinction without a difference in network terms.

Well, it seems to me your equation functions as bigotry against atheists even if you posit religion as a "modifier" instead of a prime mover of human nature. What's the difference? As a rule of thumb skeptics aren't as good as believers, from your point of view.
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Chap
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Post by Chap »

dartagnan wrote:
I do not think that those who read a little about the history of the Roman Empire, both Western and Eastern, after the conversion of Constantine will recognise dartagnan's picture of a kindly and pacifist organisation.

That isn't what I said, and I think you know that. I would simply observe that the Roman Empire expanded by conquest. However, since Christianity became the state religion, the Empire became more of a defender than an aggressor. Its territories were frequently invaded and even overrun. Over time, two thirds of its territories were lost to outside invasions, without the slightest effort to reclaim them - until the crusades.


This is then followed by much interlinear and mostly purely exclamatory rhetoric of the kind that I think many readers of this board will have got into the habit of skipping over ...

Well, you see, what dartagnan originally said was:

The Roman Empire, using Christianity as a symbol, withstood centuries of attacks from invading forces without fighting back, probably because they were a Christian empire. It sat back and watched two thirds of its territory get taken over by invading forces before it finally made an aggressive move with the crusades. Now if the Roman Empire wasn't Christian, would they have waited so long before fighting back? I can't think of any Empire in recorded history that would have sat by and watched that take place. Certainly no atheistic Empire would have done that. But Christianity encouraged pacifism, and it was only in the face of inevitable destruction that the crusades were called.


The new dartagnan post seems as historically odd as the first. Now we are told that "two thirds of [the empire's] territories were lost to outside invasions, without the slightest effort to reclaim them - until the crusades". And apparently this is due to the fact that "Christianity encouraged pacifism". May one mention Justinian in the 6th century, and the great reconquest attempts directed against the Muslims in the 9th and 10th centuries, just as examples? No-one who got in the way of an attack from the armies of the Christian empire would have felt they were dealing with mild-mannered practitioners of the gospel. May we recall that those armies had an early form of napalm at their disposal the so-called 'Greek Fire'? The Christians showed no signs of being less willing to attack their enemies (when they were able) than those enemies were willing to attack them.

I prefer, once more, to leave board readers to make up their own minds about whether dartagan's historical generalisations - or indeed his generalisations about historians - are likely to be reliable, after reading both our posts. I hope he won't mind my doing that.

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Post by beastie »

Two quickies -

1 - it is not theism that creates more impulses for engaging in charitable acts, but the attachment to an organized structure partly dedicated to charitable acts that allows expression for those instincts in a "larger" way that is more noticed by society. There are secular organizations also dedicated to charitable acts or other acts beneficial to society (such as disease research) but due to the fact that individuals do not self-identify by those groups, they're not going to get the same credit for encouraging people to do good.

dart, you yourself said that hell isn't a factor in behavior because believers think they will be forgiven. But people are just as likely to think they will be forgiven for NOT doing "good" as they are to think they will be forgiven for actively doing EVIL.

2 - dart, if you lost all belief in any godbeing, would you be less inclined to do good? Would you be more inclined to harm others?
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Post by beastie »

I mean no matter how whacky your religious family might seem to you, I think once you've had a taste of non-religious upbringing, you'd appreciate how wonderful they really are by comparison. So many kids turn out to be rotten eggs in society because of the way they were raised in broken homes, exposed early on to crime, drugs, prostitution, etc. Can atheism help any of this? Not only can religion help, religion does.


Aside from the fact that this is an extremely offensive statement, please demonstrate that broken homes, early exposure to crime, drugs, prostitution, etc, are more common in atheists than theists.

Good luck in that. You're going to have to deal with, you know, those pesky facts and statistics that show, for example, that atheists have a much lower divorce rate than almost every other theist group, with the exception of Mormon temple marriage (and that has suspect stats) and actual preachers. Also you'll have to deal with the fact that the atheist population is drastically under-represented in the prison population.

http://www.religioustolerance.org/chr_dira.htm

http://freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Percen ... _In_Prison
We hate to seem like we don’t trust every nut with a story, but there’s evidence we can point to, and dance while shouting taunting phrases.

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http://www.mormonmesoamerica.com

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Post by harmony »

I am not qualified to enter this discussion and Dart is holding his own against some formidable debaters, but I'm wondering if the juxtapositioning should be religion vs atheism or spirituality vs atheism. It seems to me that the latter would be more accurate, that atheism would relate more directly to spirituality than it does to religion. Religion being a group activity complete with rules/laws, culture, ordinances, etc., which atheism is not, while spirituality is an individual thing just as atheism is.

EAllusion
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Post by EAllusion »

Atheism no more provides advice on how to raise children to behave in a healhy, moral way than it provides good recipes for Japanese food. Of course, the same is true of not believing in alien abductions or unicorns. Atheism, after all, is just not believing in God. That mere fact cannot tell you much about how to raise children beyond not making it logically dependent on the existence of a diety. However, atheists have access to the whole plethera of ideas not dependent on God. All secular ideas are open to the atheist, to be judged on their merits. And there are secular ideas about proper child rearing. There are secular ideas, the only ones worth taken seriously actually, on the nature and content of morality. Looking to atheism for parenting advice is inane. You need to look to secular sources, which abound, that the atheist and theist alike have acess to.

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Post by asbestosman »

dartagnan wrote:
Actually it doesn't say anything by itself. We need to first normalize the data by percentages of Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Atheists/Agnostics in the population before any semi-meaningful conclusions can me made.


Well, there are more atheists in Ameirca than Muslims and Jews. Does that help?


Not quite, because there are other conflating factors like race that are often correlated with Judaism or Islam. I'd be more interested in the atheist / Christian comparison since, so far as I can tell, most atheists / agnostics tend to come from Christian backgrounds.
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Post by Some Schmo »

EAllusion wrote:Atheism no more provides advice on how to raise children to behave in a healhy, moral way than it provides good recipes for Japanese food. Of course, the same is true of not believing in alien abductions or unicorns. Atheism, after all, is just not believing in God. That mere fact cannot tell you much about how to raise children beyond not making it logically dependent on the existence of a diety. However, atheists have access to the whole plethera of ideas not dependent on God. All secular ideas are open to the atheist, to be judged on their merits. And there are secular ideas about proper child rearing. There are secular ideas, the only ones worth taken seriously actually, on the nature and content of morality. Looking to atheism for parenting advice is inane. You need to look to secular sources, which abound, that the atheist and theist alike have acess to.


Beautifully put.
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John Larsen
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Post by John Larsen »

asbestosman wrote:
dartagnan wrote:
Actually it doesn't say anything by itself. We need to first normalize the data by percentages of Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Atheists/Agnostics in the population before any semi-meaningful conclusions can me made.


Well, there are more atheists in Ameirca than Muslims and Jews. Does that help?


Not quite, because there are other conflating factors like race that are often correlated with Judaism or Islam. I'd be more interested in the atheist / Christian comparison since, so far as I can tell, most atheists / agnostics tend to come from Christian backgrounds.


Probably only the ones you are familiar with. There is a 2500 year tradition of atheism among some Buddhists.

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