Matthew

Ask an Atheist!

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What you are basically stating is.. literally nothing could make you change your mind.

 

It's the same as quite a few of my friends. Fair answer.

 

I find that a little dismissive. I just laid out several circumstances under which I might change my mind, and certainly there are others I could probably come up with. 

 

What constitutes a minimal amount?

 

Well, engaging in a conversation is about the minimum I expect from human beings to demonstrate their interest in me, let alone a supernatural entity.  ;)

 

Anyway, I guess my question is, those who identify as atheist/agnostic, what kind of resources do you like to look at for arguments for existence of God? e.g. watching online debates (I think those can be cool), reading religious texts, apologetics books, classical arguments for God's existence, etc. Do you tend to look at material making the case for God (e.g. Mere Christianity), against (e.g. The God Delusion), or a mix of both?

 

I wouldn't say I spend much time looking at arguments for/against the existence of God these days. It simply isn't a topic that captures much of my interest, since I find the case for non-existence pretty overwhelming (basically 1. look around 2. don't see anything. 3. guess nothing's there). The idea that there might be a God never even enters my thoughts unless someone else brings it up; conversely, I don't ever think of God not existing either. That'd sorta be like routinely thinking about how the sky isn't yellow today.

 

However, I do get very interested in trying to understand the mindset of religious people, because it is something that is so utterly foreign to me. For that, I have done things like read books about the religion, read the actual religious texts (like the Bible as Literature class I took in college), look at websites for religious schools (I've probably spent more time on University of Notre Dame's website than most of their actual students ever have), and start the "Understanding Theism and Religion" topic here on this site.  :D

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I find that a little dismissive. I just laid out several circumstances under which I might change my mind, and certainly there are others I could probably come up with. 

I'm sorry if you find that dismissive, but none of your statements were definitive.

Each "circumstance" was also given a way out like the "life saving situation" which may not be explainable might be explained later on by future science.

 

Basically, if you can give a definitive then I wouldn't be able to make that statement.

 

For instance, if you said "If I were given ten pink ponies in the next five minutes I would believe in God," even if I had orchestrated it on pure guess and brought you five ponies, would you then believe in God despite that definitive statement? 

 

I do like that you are honest about your doubt, that even if something happened beyond your explanation occurred you still probably would be skeptical and wouldn't believe.

 

If there is an "ask a Ringer" thread then I'd answer all the questions but this thread is "ask an atheist" therefore I'm sorry but you are on trial ;).

 

So what's an atheist favorite form of flattery?

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Sorry! ^^; Like I said in another post, most of my posts are meant to be applicable to all religions, it's just much easer to phrase things using one religion as an example. And since I knew Ringer was writing to me from a Christian perspective....

 

Anyway, it's hard to know exactly what I think of non-Abrahamic religions, because I know so few people who practice them. I do know some people who are Wiccan, and I tend to find I have a lot in common with them. Afterall, they also know how other-ing it can be to be a non-Christian in a predominantly Christian environment (I even knew a girl who was the victim of a hate crime because of her Wiccan affiliation). And apparently I eye-roll at them less than people they know from other faiths, because, as a non-believer, all religions are equally strange to me...the concept of doing magick is no weirder to me than believing that a cup of wine turns into blood every Sunday.  :D

 

Haha, yes, I figured you'd find all religions equally hard to believe in. I mean, otherwise you wouldn't exactly be an atheist, would you? :P Interesting that you've found you have a lot in common with Wiccans. I think that since the theology of Wicca is a lot looser than the "religions of the book" (there being no founding texts, no set rules for how to do things), the gap between Wicca and atheism is a lot smaller. Almost all of the Wiccans I know draw their beliefs from actual science and have a very liberal approach to what is divine, and I even used to know a Wiccan atheist. Of course, there are also very religious Wiccans who believe their way is the only way, but in general, apart from the belief vs non-belief thing, it makes sense that Wiccans and atheists would get on pretty well.

 

As for what specifically about non-Abrahamic religions doesn't make sense to me...well, I guess I might need some specific examples of what you do differently in order to be able to shoot it down.  :P

 

I've actually been wondering whether to create an "Ask a" thread too, though I don't know how interested people would be?

 

I actually did think of addressing this in my post; I just decided it was long enough as is, and figured you might bring it up.  ;) With a person on the street, at least, you do have evidence of their existence, even if you take no interest in one another. While I do admit it could be possible there are deities out there that have simply decided to provide no evidence of their existence...why would I choose to believe such beings exist? If there is no evidence, then it seems much simpler to conclude that those entities don't exist, rather than to assume that they do exist and just haven't revealed themselves yet. Of course, if these entities did show themselves, I'd take that new evidence into account and change my thoughts on the matter. But why would I change my beliefs before the proof comes in?

 

 

Fair enough! I feel the same way about certain deities too. For example, non-human deities. How would we know that, say, squirrels don't have squirrel Gods too? Maybe they do, but they simply have no interest in us because we're not squirrels. Still, unless they reveal themselves to me (which they probably won't anytime soon), I find it simpler just going about my life as if they didn't exist. So I can definitely understand your position there.

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How did you know you were an atheist?

How do you deal with bible thumpers?

What are you political views and why?

Would you be willing to marry someone whose religious? How would you feel if your kids decided to become religious?

Btw I totally respect atheists. I have atheist friends and they know more about religion than religious people. They have nothing to hide behind, so when they don't personally like something they just say they don't like it. Which is why I asked the political views question.

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Uh, I am kind of an atheist because for a lot of our belief systems, we do not require god. Some of our religions are nontheistic, some are not, some worship nature, etc.

Christianity is the fourth largest religion in our country. Majority of our people are Buddhists; in fact, I would love to marry someone who is a Jain, as that fundamentally aligns with my base principles, regardless of whether some groups of them believe in reincarnation or not. I would agree to marry someone who is a follower of a theistic religion as long as she is sentiocentric; only a few religions are sentiocentric, like certain forms of Hindusim. There is a little too long exception and it is too long that you may find it boring to read.

I would have nothing against them if they believe in god, however; it is their choice.

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I'm sorry if you find that dismissive, but none of your statements were definitive.

 

Basically, if you can give a definitive then I wouldn't be able to make that statement.

 

So what's an atheist favorite form of flattery?

 

Even though I can't definitively say what would or would not make me believe in a deity, that does not mean that's impossible for my mind to be changed. But since I have never believed in a deity, I can't really say what would bring me to that point. It's sort of like asking for me to state definitively how I would be as a parent, even though I don't have any children and am not planning on it happening for many years. Sure, I can guess how I might be, but I can't say definitively, because I've never had to deal with the reality of the situation.

 

As for flattery, I love to be complimented on my intellect and kindness. Appearance-based compliments are good too.  :lol: Basically, I love words; totally the opposite of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence." ;)

 

How did you know you were an atheist?

How do you deal with bible thumpers?

What are you political views and why?

Would you be willing to marry someone whose religious? How would you feel if your kids decided to become religious?

Btw I totally respect atheists. I have atheist friends and they know more about religion than religious people. They have nothing to hide behind, so when they don't personally like something they just say they don't like it. Which is why I asked the political views question.

 

1. I knew I was an atheist when I learned about the concept of theism. 2nd grade me was basically like "You think what?! Nope I am definitely not that.  :huh: "

2. Smile, nod, and move on. 99% percent of the time the argument would not be worth it. Sometimes it can be very painful to squelch my retort though.  :P

3. Hm, that's a bit of a broad question, but I'll just say what immediately came to my head. Broadly, my political beliefs center around attempting to balance individual liberty with advancing opportunities for folks of all kind. I can hardly claim to have found the ideal balance, though! As you might have gathered, I identify as a feminist, and I'm pro-choice, as well as pro-same-sex-marriage. I was quite libertarian in high school, but I don't particularly feel that label fits me anymore. Basically, it's a work in progress.... As for why, I guess it can be summed up by -- "If nothing we do matters, then all that matters is what we do." If we have no predetermined higher-purpose, and there is no objective morality, then what we decide to do during our limited time on Earth becomes utterly crucial.

4. I see that you already saw my post about marriage, so I'll just answer your question about kids. If they were very young I would allow them to explore the religion of their interest, but with limits (for example, if they wanted to go to church, I'd send them with a trusted friend who I know won't push her religion on them, and I'd want to talk through their thoughts with them after they got back). Once they're in their teens, I wouldn't interfere at all with their preferred religious practices, as long as I didn't think they were getting sucked into a dangerous cult or anything. I wouldn't get my feelings hurt or anything if they decided to join a religion, but I would probably be pretty confused about why they'd want to do that.  :D

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EDIT: I was thinking, though it might be true that you can't determine "what might" make you believe something I'll tell you that there is somethings in this world that if they happen would make me stop believing in God.

 

However, this is not the topic to be putting it in :)

 

 

Even though I can't definitively say what would 

As for flattery, I love to be complimented on my intellect and kindness. Appearance-based compliments are good too.  :lol: Basically, I love words; totally the opposite of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence." ;)

 

Well you are very intelligent and I like that. But I can't give physical compliments on account that I have not seen your picture.

 

Are most atheists sapiosexual?

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EDIT: I was thinking, though it might be true that you can't determine "what might" make you believe something I'll tell you that there is somethings in this world that if they happen would make me stop believing in God.

 

However, this is not the topic to be putting it in :)

 

Aw, but now I'm curious.  :P

 

Well you are very intelligent and I like that.

 

:blush: Thank you!

 

Are most atheists sapiosexual?

 

Haha, I wouldn't say so. While I do think that stereotypes tend to hold up when it comes to atheists valuing intelligence highly in themselves and others, I think that, like most people, we care most about being with someone who kind, thoughtful, and loving.

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Are most atheists sapiosexual?

Ringer: If I were sapiosexual, I would have married and lost my virginity to something like a neural network right now :) . I do not know many atheists in the sense of not following any religion but I have met many people who follow non-theistic religions; from what I have seen, they are not sapiosexuals either. I look more for sensitivity and love, being an atheist, than that.
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Haha, I wouldn't say so. While I do think that stereotypes tend to hold up when it comes to atheists valuing intelligence highly in themselves and others, I think that, like most people, we care most about being with someone who kind, thoughtful, and loving.

So say you as an atheist meet someone who is Kind, thoughtful, and loving.

But his/her thoughtfulness constituted mostly about food and nothing else?

:superwaiter:

 

Ringer: If I were sapiosexual, I would have married and lost my virginity to something like a neural network right now :) . I do not know many atheists in the sense of not following any religion but I have met many people who follow non-theistic religions; from what I have seen, they are not sapiosexuals either. I look more for sensitivity and love, being an atheist, than that.

Hmmm...

 

So would atheists believe in a "survival of the fittest" argument?

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So would atheists believe in a "survival of the fittest" argument?

I don't think so. I am a sentiocentric atheist; any more justifications of "survival of the fittest" is something I find very useless, stupid crap. If we just want that, then there is no purpose of our existance - we would just behave like genetic algorithms. Well, it has been so, historically, but nature, in itself, does not justify anything.

So, the point is, some do, some don't. It is not clear what you mean by this. It has been inevitably so, but most of them do not justify that.

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So say you as an atheist meet someone who is Kind, thoughtful, and loving.

But his/her thoughtfulness constituted mostly about food and nothing else?

:superwaiter:

 

Hmmm...

 

So would atheists believe in a "survival of the fittest" argument?

 

 

Spiritual Atheism requires that not only we strive to be personally happy and healthy but  help the world around them be happy and healthy. (For example helping out your fellow man who really needs help)

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Spiritual Atheism requires that not only we strive to be personally happy and healthy but  help the world around them be happy and healthy. (For example helping out your fellow man that really needs help)

What about helping someone buy a ferrari? I really need help because without help I couldn't buy one.

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What about helping someone buy a ferrari? I really need help because without help I couldn't buy one.

 

When it comes to Spiritual Atheism, we don't focus on materialism. And when we help people we help them in such a way that they benefit spiritually or if they really need help like volunteering in homeless shelter.

 

A Ferrari does not count because it is an example of materialism and people don't need a Ferrari. Ferrari is only there for style and status. 

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When it comes to Spiritual Atheism, we don't focus on materialism. And when we help people we help them in such a way that they benefit spiritually or if they really need help like volunteering in homeless shelter.

 

A Ferrari does not count because it is an example of materialism and people don't need a Ferrari. Ferrari is only there for style and status. 

But it would help me spiritually, how do you know my spirituality is not linked to a ferrari?

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But it would help me spiritually, how do you know my spirituality is not linked to a ferrari?

Because, spirituality does not depend on non-necessary and worldly things. Spirituality also involves voluntarily feeling that you should give something you have in excess, to someone unrelated to you but is still in need.

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But it would help me spiritually, how do you know my spirituality is not linked to a ferrari?

 

Here's the thing if you can get a Ferrari, then it shows that you are well off which means I'm not gonna help you since you don't need help. If you can buy a Ferrari that means you can buy basic necessities. 

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Basic necessities are still material items aren't they?

 

But you don't need a Ferrari. If you need a car you can buy a car that is cheaper. 

 

As for basic necessities, without them you will die.  When it comes to a Ferrari you can live without it.

 

Besides your Christian right? Well if you are didn't Jesus speak out against Mammon? Getting a Ferrari and equating it to spirituality is an example of worshiping Mammon. (If you are not Christian my apologies)

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But you don't need a Ferrari. If you need a car you can buy a car that is cheaper. 

 

As for basic necessities, without them you will die.  When it comes to a Ferrari you can live without it.

 

Besides your Christian right? Well if you are didn't Jesus speak out against Mammon? Getting a Ferrari and equating it to spirituality is an example of worshiping Mammon. (If you are not Christian my apologies)

This is ask an atheist. I'm the one asking the questions here! :)

 

So how does one decide upon becoming an atheist? Spiritual or otherwise?

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Finally back at a computer. I'll try to catch up one at a time... Thanks for all the questions!

 

First hand experience... is there anything that would convince you not to be an atheist?

 

All I can do is speculate about the kind of thing I would find convincing, but the short answer would be, "I don't know." That's not really up to me, though. All I can do is live life and try to be observant and honest about reality and my beliefs regarding it. 

 

That brings up an interesting thought, though. Even if it were proven to everyone's satisfaction that we have a creator or creators, what would set him/her/it/them apart as "supernatural"? It seems to me that no matter the properties of the "god" we discovered, all it would do is expand our understanding of the natural world, because as far as I know the natural world is all that there is. What is "supernatural"? So if a god or gods or creator race or whatever were discovered to be real, I might discard the label "atheist" but I still wouldn't see the being or beings in the same way I used to see "God" when I was a believer, and I wouldn't just fall down on my knees and pledge myself to it/them or anything.

 

Are most atheists sapiosexual?

 

I don't know about "most" atheists, but since they're just people I imagine they're probably sapiosexual at the same rate as the rest of the population, and it probably varies more with other factors like personal intelligence, socio-economic status, education, etc. than with whether they are atheist or not. I'm completely capable of being attracted to a woman without knowing anything about her intelligence. Leaving out the physical, I would probably rank kindness, compassion, loyalty, thoughtfulness, love, etc. above intelligence. That said, I would probably not date someone or marry someone if I didn't find them intelligent in some way.

So how does one decide upon becoming an atheist? Spiritual or otherwise?

One doesn't.

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May I just say that this thread has been extremely interesting and enlightening so far :) Several of my friends and family are agnostics or atheists but I've never really thought about what that entails, beyond the fact that they don't believe in any deities, and it's not something we tend to talk about. So it's been very cool to read your posts and get to understand atheism better :)

 

 

From what you explained in your first paragraph, I think I do agree with the author there. I would say that if an atheist knows there is no God or Gods, they're just as much an atheist as someone who believes there isn't, but that said, I'm of the opinion that nobody can truly be 100% sure. As for your second paragraph, I would personally add a third choice: "I don't know" or "I abstain from giving an opinion". It's not a position I have personal experience with, so I don't know what it's like and whether people who hold such a view privately do lean on the side of theism or atheism, but I do think it's possible to be neither a theist or an atheist. But again, that's just my opinion based on my admittedly limited experience.

Fair enough. I know there are plenty of people that see agnosticism as a middle ground or third option with regard to belief about deities, and I'm fine with that. I made the "waffly agnostics" comment in the OP just as a joke; I'm cool with people claiming the label "agnostic" to just mean they don't have a belief about the existence of a god one way or the other. I called myself an agnostic until a year or two ago, when I discovered the whole "agnostic atheist" thing and saw how most atheists were using the term atheist. It's what makes sense to me but ultimately, it's just labels, and the actual beliefs people hold are more important that what they call themselves. I'd be more likely to tell someone in conversation, "Oh, I don't personally believe in any gods", than "Oh, I'm an atheist."

So apart from the fact that we believe in fictional invisible people too :D, is there anything in particular within non-Abrahamic religions that you don't think makes sense?

 

*I'm aware that's because most of these arguments are directed at monotheists, who make up the majority of religious people in the world. Still, maybe I'm weird, but it makes me feel a bit left out. I want my religion to be criticised too! :P (Okay, I'm kidding. But I'm still curious to hear atheistic opinions on the subject that aren't 2000 years old.)

Honestly I haven't given much thought to non-Abrahamic religions, because I'm only personally familiar with Christianity. From my surface-level understanding of ancient Greek religions from a few high school and college classes, it mostly seemed to me like people attributing now-explained acts of nature to gods. And understandably so, in many cases. That probably covers most of the "that doesn't make any sense" types of thoughts I had about ancient Greek religion. I'm also not too familiar with eastern religions, but I've always assumed they would be ultimately similar to most religions: attributing natural phenomenon to supernatural beings, mixed in with observations about the human experience that may or may not include some helpful wisdom.

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Anyway, I guess my question is, those who identify as atheist/agnostic, what kind of resources do you like to look at for arguments for existence of God? e.g. watching online debates (I think those can be cool), reading religious texts, apologetics books, classical arguments for God's existence, etc. Do you tend to look at material making the case for God (e.g. Mere Christianity), against (e.g. The God Delusion), or a mix of both?

 

xxx

Well, naturally I've read a lot of the Bible, more-so during the days when I still believed than now. Most of the resources I used throughout the whole of my "de-conversion" (and still when the mood strikes or one pops up that I haven't seen) were debates (such as Hitchens v. Craig, Kent Hovind v. various people, and many more), and reading rebuttals to Christian apologetic arguments. I have several apologetics books in my collection, like some by Hugh Ross of Reasons to Believe, and Henry Morris, but to be honest I haven't finished any of them, though I have read some summaries and responses. I'll eventually get around to reading through most of them.

During the "oh shit my beliefs might be wrong, must find all the apologetics!" phase I mostly read fundamentalist apologetics material like this (I guess it's no wonder I lost my beliefs :D ). After I started recognizing that my more fundamentalist views didn't really stand up, I mostly watched debates and read rebuttals until one day I realized I just didn't believe any more.

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Two questions for the atheists from a deist.

 

Do you believe in free will or determinism? The implications of determinism are big for what it means to be a human being. It is a depression idea that everything we think or do would be determined by brain chemistry or other laws of nature. If you do not believe in free will, how do you deal with these implications? Or if you believe in free will, how does that fit in your world view.

 

Evolution theory has provided a lot of explanations for human experience. Do these explanations play a big role in daily life in how you view yourself and others and what they do? Do you feel these explanations debase things like love (that it is just selfish genes trying to replicate), or are you not bothered by it at all.

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How did you know you were an atheist?

How do you deal with bible thumpers?

What are you political views and why?

Would you be willing to marry someone whose religious? How would you feel if your kids decided to become religious?

Btw I totally respect atheists. I have atheist friends and they know more about religion than religious people. They have nothing to hide behind, so when they don't personally like something they just say they don't like it. Which is why I asked the political views question.

 

I realized I was an atheist when the whole idea of "god" didn't really make sense any more. I realized the "voice" in my head, which I heard when I had doubts or did something wrong or prayed, which I'd always attributed to God or the holy spirit was more likely just an extension of myself and what I'd been taught by my parents, and my pastors and sunday school teachers, and not the supernatural creator and destroyer of worlds.

 

Well most of my family could be considered "Bible thumpers", and I usually get along fine with them. When conversations take a turn towards topics where I heavily disagree with them, I usually get quiet and suppress the desire to argue or thump them on the head. I try to speak up when they bring up scientific topics that I've looked into and I know I can talk about it without things getting too tense. My parents know I don't really believe any more (though I'm not sure they know I've accepted my atheism and am happy with it) and sometimes my dad makes certain comments and I know it's directed toward me, but I know he means well so I try not to take it badly.

 

Politically, I'm pretty ignorant. Prior to the past couple years whenever politics came up my eyes would glaze over and I'd day dream while grunting my agreement. But since then I've accepted that I need to be a productive member of society and I should develop my political ideas. Maybe tomorrow... That said on most issues where I have put thought into it, I'm fairly liberal. That's mostly limited to social issues like gay marriage, abortion, death penalty, prison, etc. I try to base my views on logic and evidence but I recognize that sometimes emotions and bias can cloud my judgment.

 

I like to think I'd be willing to date someone with religious beliefs, but they'd probably have to be fairly vague and liberal, and nothing like the beliefs of my past. Ideally, it'd be cool to date someone who had a similar background to mine and is now an atheist/agnostic.

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