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Atheist & Agnostic Family

Discussion in 'Clubs' started by Darato, Apr 1, 2012.

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  1. Darato

    Darato (o,..,o)

    Welcome to the Atheist/Agnostic Club. Here we will be discussing issues about life, and everything without giving god credit for it.

    1: Show respect to fellow members. Arguments are something we won't be able to avoid, but please keep it nice and still show respect to each other. If things get to harsh move it to a PM discussion.
    2: You don't need to be an Atheist or Agnostic to post, but you need to show respect if you chose to ask us a question or anything.
    3: Do not bash religion here. It's okay to talk about them and stuff going on in them, but don't just bash them.

    A big thanks to our beloved Profesco for all his work on the faws

    1: First things first: Let's clarify our terms.

    One of the biggest obstacles to clear communication on the topic of atheism is how confusing and interconnected the different terms are. It may be convenient to categorize the different terms you'll encounter by claims made and beliefs held.

    Gnostic Atheism: Commonly called "hard atheism," gnostic atheism makes the affirmative claim that no gods exist.

    Gnostic Theism: The kind of theism you'll see on TV, gnostic theism makes the affirmative claim that a God or gods do exist.

    Agnostic Atheism: The most widespread form of atheism, agnostic atheism is the lack of belief in any god or Gods, while making no affirmative claims about the existence of them.

    Agnostic Theism: Without making the affirmative claim that a God or gods exist, agnostic theism nevertheless is a belief that a God or gods do exist.

    2: Gnostic? Agnostic? What is that?

    Gnostic is a term that means "with knowledge." Basically, gnostic claims are claims to know something. Since God is by some definitions a supernatural being beyond human comprehension, plenty of folks don't think it's possible to know for certain whether he exists. Agnosticism itself further splits into two kinds, that in practice and that in principle. Agnosticism in principle is the belief that knowledge about the existence of God is and always will be epistemologically impossible. Agnosticism in practice is the belief that knowledge about the existence of God is possible in principle, but that we just aren't capable of achieving it yet.

    3: I've heard the term "atheism" used interchangeably with another term. What's Anti-Theism?

    Anti-theism is very often conflated with atheism, yes. But even though the two do coincide, there is a difference. Anti-theism is the proactive stance against theism and, usually, religion in general. Anti-theists believe that the theistic worldview is dangerous, immoral, corrupt, false, or otherwise harmful to humanity, and that it should be discredited or abolished altogether. If you've heard talk of "militant atheism," this is most likely what the discussion was actually about. Be wary of the way these terms are misused in conversation!

    4: Well that clears things up a bit. So not all atheists or agnostics hate religion?

    That's correct! While atheists certainly don't agree with theists' divine beliefs, most are content to live and let private individual convictions live. In fact, plenty of atheists are able to recognize that there have indeed been some positive aspects of religion's influence on historical and even modern life. We only see so much heated arguing when private religious convictions are foisted on public policy. The debate we see today is not so much one of theism versus atheism, but rather of theism versus secularism.

    5: Hold on there, sport! Now just what is Secularism?

    Secularism is the social/political stance that public policies, particularly in the areas of law and education, should be defined or composed without recourse to the teachings and beliefs of any religion or theistic worldview. It's not only atheists who are secular, either. There are many good, upstanding theists who agree that, while their personal religion is fine as a guide for their personal lives, it has no special right to be a forced command for those who don't share it. The people arguing against secularism are those who would rather have religious doctrines (specifically, their own religious doctrines and no one else's) decide our society's laws and what we teach in our schools.

    6: This is all making atheists sound like saints. Surely that's not the whole story?

    Fair enough. You've already read about anti-theism and militant atheism, so you know that even the diverse ranks of the atheists have their own brand of extremists, just like the religions they don't believe in. Being an atheist does not automatically make someone free from all error and dogma. Exactly how good atheists will respect that all theists are individuals and the extremely dangerous or uneducated ones don't necessarily speak for their entire religion, we hope that good theists will show us the same consideration.

    7: This brings up another question: Can atheists really be moral people?

    ABSOLUTELY! This is one of the biggest misconceptions about atheists. Not believing in any gods or deities doesn't take away the concepts of right and wrong, or good and bad - and in fact most of our basic moral principles are the same as those theists have, we're just able to justify them in terms of a common ground everyone can discuss rather than by appeal to a supernatural being we can't easily prove to everyone's agreement. Atheists run charities, raise healthy and kind children, give back to their communities, help people in need, obey laws, and stand up for freedom and decency. It bears repeating: not believing in God does not make someone an immoral person.

    8: Hmm. So it sounds like there's more to atheism than just not believing in God. What are atheists all about?

    Good question! If you take it right down to the nuts and bolts, the only specific thing relating all atheists is, in fact, not believing in any gods or deities. One of the most famous contemporary atheistic figures, Sam Harris, even goes so far as to suggest that the term "atheist" is completely unnecessary. He says we don't really need the term "atheist" any more than we need a term like "non-stamp-collector."

    But you're right, there is pretty much always more to the atheist "movement" than that. Some very common threads tying atheists together include a committment to the scientific method as the best path to legitimate knowledge, rational discourse on all matters of import, freedom of thought and speech, and a fierce opposition to oppression and inequality of all kinds. But each atheist is as individual as each... well, individual! Every atheist's goal is to think critically for him- or herself, so it's just about impossible to lump us all together under one conceptual description!

    9: I think I've heard of that Harris guy. Are there other famous atheist figures like him?

    There certainly are. Actually, Sam Harris happens to be one of a group of popular contemporary public proponents of atheism, slyly called the ""Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse." The other three are Richard Dawkins, professor of evolutionary biology; Daniel Dennett, professor of philosophy; and the newly late Christopher Hitchens, journalist, polemicist, author, and general well-heeled intellectual. These are the most famous representatives of atheism at the moment, for better or worse, but there is of course a long and dignified history of the concept. We encourage you to self-educate!

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  2. Profesco

    Profesco gone gently

    It wasn't just my own work on the FAQs, though - I couldn't have given you anything worthwhile without Neferka's contributions.

    I guess we'd best get down to topical discussion, then. As we might all be well aware, this past weekend marked the date of the huge Rock Beyond Belief event held at the US Military base Fort Bragg. This occasion followed closely on the heels of this year's Reason Rally, itself held on the famous National Mall in Washington, DC. I know it's a long shot, but was anyone here able to attend either of these events? I was taken up with schoolwork (and not being able to afford the travel, ahaha), so I had to miss them.

    These events characterize the mobilization of activism for equal political and social expression in the US for the atheists and agnostics in favor of a secular government. They're trying to make a safe and happy home for atheists in real space, so I guess we can try to do the same in our own little corner of the internet in the form of this thread. ^_^

    To that end, welcome to any and all interested posters who visit here, and congratulations to the regulars on the occasion of the new club thread. =D
  3. emogirl

    emogirl Panda-chan.

    Ahhhh, another family to join. I'll....post stuff later when I'm feeling more intelligent, and there are actually people to talk/debate with. lol.
  4. Profesco

    Profesco gone gently

  5. emogirl

    emogirl Panda-chan.

    I wasn't an observer as I usually don't get too tied up in things, but damn, that's awesome!
  6. Profesco

    Profesco gone gently

    When it's great enough to push through legislative changes that negatively affect science education in my country, it's a force I'm prepared to consider a real threat. And apparently, the seriousness only deepens from here on out. I am not a supporter of the political and personal movements that aim to turn matters of scientific importance into an "us versus them" kind of battle. I don't know whether to hope this study provokes a reactionary return to the objectivity of naturalism (if only out of fear of being branded some negative thing or other) or worry that it will further entrench this already trenchant "us versus them" mindset. =(

    It's a legitimate and very serious division. This opposition is fostered by there being two similarly epistemologically tenuous presuppositional worldviews: one theistic and one naturalistic. We've seen the hundreds of arguments for the existence of a God refuted in an intellectually sufficient way millions of times, because they all try to argue either factual or logical points - and they are unsound to the last. The real divide is the epistemological foundations for either opposing worldview, and it is much more thought-provoking (and in my experience, that much more intellectually frustrating =P) to try and hammer out a necessary resolution.

    We can debate natural and logical facts till the end of time and come out soundly for all our work, but it can't make much difference if our interlocutors enter the debate with presuppositions that negatively prioritize natural and logical arguments compared to a theistic metaphysics. The only way to speak to that unspoken argument (as opposed to speaking past it, which is the unfortunate standard) is to engage it on the metaphysical and epistemological levels - levels that provide the foundations for naturalistic facts and so cannot easily themselves be proved by them.

    This is why I had to disagree with Mister Zero's stance on attacking/ridiculing religion (Dawkin's stance too). Ridiculing the messy particulars of theism on the level of our natural world is a waste of time - the foundational metaphysics and epistemology is where the real debate lies, and it is almost summarily ignored in the public conversation. It is akin to pruning a weed's leaves while letting the roots go untouched, and it almost always looks and sounds petty. (And if we leave our own foundational philosophy unexamined, all our contigent naturalistic and logical arguments are proportionately precarious.)

    As AzukanAsimbu said in the old thread, Neil DeGrasse Tyson is a great figure for this aim. He manages to make science appealing and forceful without wrapping it up in the theism-atheism debate. Steven Pinker I think is good for this too, but less so since he does frequently get dragged into the conservative-liberal aspect due to the nature of his projects.

    It's a role I hope to fill one day, ever more desperately as times goes on. =/

    Edit: Well, through books, anyway.
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2012
  7. S.G.

    S.G. The Shiny Latios

    More atheists? I feel accepted for once XD
  8. 7 tyranitars

    7 tyranitars Well-Known Member

    *joins* Nice job on the new club Darato.
  9. Raddaya

    Raddaya My Little Ponyta

    Nice work as usual, guys. Officially joining, I guess.
  10. Ambre

    Ambre Power of Water

    Is this the new Atheism club. May I join?
  11. 7 tyranitars

    7 tyranitars Well-Known Member

    Welcome Ambre.
  12. SoulSilverMstr411

    SoulSilverMstr411 Hikikomori

    I'm pretty sure I qualify as Agnostic. I don't belive in any of the five major religions - 'though I belive they're all equally plausible - and instead have my own belief system that I can except may not be true.

    My stepdad belives in an afterlife, but not any perticular religion.

    My girlfriend is a Seventh Day Adventist, but I suspect she only attends church for her mother's sake. Which I can respect.
  13. Pokemon Geek

    Pokemon Geek Doom Trainer

    I am back! Kinda bad timing as i be going on a small vaccation, but hey, atleast i got to join again before i left. Gnostic Atheist as usual.
  14. celestial phantom

    celestial phantom Well-Known Member

    I gotta say it feels good to be able to post in this new club finally after school work/trying to catch up on said schoolwork after being sick stopped me from being able to. Congrats Darato, Neferka, and Profesco for the work in this new club. Can't wait to get this up and running at full capacity again.
  15. 7 tyranitars

    7 tyranitars Well-Known Member

    I feel like such a nobody by not having contributed to the new Club :(, Anyway shouldn't we request that the old club gets closed? because people are still posting there.
  16. Schade

    Schade The real Slim Schady

    Hiya! Forgot me, did 'ya?
    Well. I'll join this one too, i guess.
  17. Ryubane

    Ryubane Why yes, it exists

    Hi everyone. I think I want to join.

    I'm on the fence between agnostic theism and Christianity. My family's kept me in a very strong Christian environment my whole life, but recently I've started to find the whole concept a bit...silly. It's not hard to look in the Bible and find contradictions and false statements, and tenets that no one or very few people still hold today. I don't want to disappoint my family and just completely drop an affirmative religion, so I tend to shy away from the subject. I'm sure I'm not the only one in this situation, so I think I'll join this club.
  18. Pashtun

    Pashtun Member

    I'd say i was more of a deist then anything else
  19. AzukanAsimbu

    AzukanAsimbu Petal Paladin

    Yea, many many deconverts have gone through this. Don't give up.
  20. celestial phantom

    celestial phantom Well-Known Member

    Your right 7t-tars, I feel a bit bad that I couldn't make any contributions to this yet, but we can make up with this by getting as involved as we can in the new club. Also, it'd probably be a good idea to close the old one but leave the last message be the location of the new club that way people know what to link to since the first thing they read is the last post.
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