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Why Atheism?

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Why Atheism?
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DepricatedZeroChat ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 1333Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 11:43 amLocation: Cincinnati, OH Gender: Pinecone

Post Why Atheism?

terminology: I'm going to use the terms positive and negative. I am not using them emotively, but quantitatively. When I say negative I do not mean it as a synonym for "bad" but rather in measurement, such as -1.

So a lot of people here are happy to describe themselves as atheists. One of the things that turned me on to Satanism is that Atheism describes nothing.

When I say, "I'm an atheist," the only thing you learn about me is that I don't have a theistic religious belief. It doesn't describe what I am, only what I am not. And it doesn't even do that well. It answers one very specific and mostly irrelevant question. A person can be good and ethical while believing in a deity, and a person can be vile and reprehensible while not. It is not a positive description, rather it's a negative one. It's a description of something not-there.

Think of the phrase, "atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby." I forget who said that one but it's become fairly popular. That's certainly true. But there's another thing about this that most people don't stop to consider: very few people go around describing themselves as Non-Stamp Collectors.

When someone asks you what you like doing, you don't list off what you don't like doing. You list positives. "I like writing code, playing bass, and interesting words," rather than, "I like not playing chess, not swimming in the ocean, and not scuba diving." I don't go to a moral position by defining what I'm not - which I see all the time.

It's not a philosophy, it's not a moral code, it's not a religion, it's nothing meaningful. It doesn't even demonstrate rational thought. I see a lot of people who think it's an indicator of their moral character, of their mental fortitude, of their rationality. But all it is is a conclusion, not even the process that got there.

So other than when standing antipodal to theism, why describe yourself as an atheist?
Why does my life have to be so small
And death is forever
And does forever have a life to call its own?
Don't give me an answer cause you only know
As much as I know
Unless you've been there once
And I hardly think so

Green Day - One of My Lies
Sun Jul 30, 2017 4:29 am
Gnug215ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 2569Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 10:31 pm

Post Re: Why Atheism?

DepricatedZero wrote:It's not a philosophy, it's not a moral code, it's not a religion, it's nothing meaningful. It doesn't even demonstrate rational thought. I see a lot of people who think it's an indicator of their moral character, of their mental fortitude, of their rationality. But all it is is a conclusion, not even the process that got there.

So other than when standing antipodal to theism, why describe yourself as an atheist?



Good question.

I've never really described myself as one, and never understood the need. If someone is atheist, then one should think that's a tiny portion of one's personality and self-description.

But why atheism? For so many other people, I mean.

Because opposition to a dominant or particular ideology/opinion/paradigm/whatever can become a huge part of one's identity.

I mean, I almost described myself as an anti-creationist at one point, since I was investing so much time into, well, anti-creationist activities and thinking.

I think it's a pretty natural thing to do for people. Sometimes people are more anti something than they're really pro the opposing position.

For example, I'm for abortion being legal. But I wouldn't call myself pro-abortion. It's not something that really defines me, and I'm not so pro-abortion that I go around thinking everyone should have one all the time or whatever.
But I AM anti anti-abortion. I have much stronger feelings against anti-abortion than I have for pro-abortion. I hope that makes sense...

Hmm, I suppose I could have made the above example just using theism/atheism, really.

Anyway, the point is that sometimes the opposing position is what you really feel strongly about. More so than the pro position. And that's even if the pro position (in this case, atheism - which is know is weird, describing atheism as the pro position) is one that really contains nothing.

I realized early on during all this whole YouTube atheism rigmarole that there was really nothing to atheism, other than it being a stance of opposition. And I'm not saying that to toot my own "woke", "early adopter" horn or whatever. It doesn't take a genius to make that stunning realization.
Nor do I want to toot my horn about also realizing early how weird it was when people TRIED to make atheism be about more than it was, by making all kinds of clubs, organizations, whatever, and then even moreso with Atheism+.
Maybe I could have tooted my horns if I'd actually spoken out against it right away, but my realizations are usually not of strong conviction, but more like an uneasy "hmm, I'm not sure if this is for me...".

But... if I may be brutally honest here, I should probably tell you that you when you mentioned satanism and the explanation for it, I thought: "hmm, I'm not sure if this is for me..."

:(
- Gnug215

YouTube channel:
http://www.youtube.com/user/Gnug215


The horse is a ferocious predator.
Sun Jul 30, 2017 6:42 am
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2399Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Why Atheism?

Only because theism is ubiquitous.

http://reciprocity-giving-something-bac ... s-and.html
Sun Jul 30, 2017 9:50 am
Dragan GlasContributorUser avatarPosts: 2959Joined: Mon Dec 14, 2009 1:55 amLocation: Ireland Gender: Male

Post Re: Why Atheism?

Greetings,

As I'd said some time ago, particularly in relation to the nonsense surrounding "Atheism Plus", there's no point in calling oneself an atheist as all it does is say what you're not, not what you are.

It's like saying, when asked, "What are you?", replying "Not black".

I identify myself as a secular humanist rather than an agnostic atheist.

If someone tries to label me as an atheist, depending on their own religious affiliation, I turn the tables on them.

If they're a Christian, I point out they're a gentile or infidel; if a Jew, they're a heathen or infidel; if a Muslim, they're a gentile or heathen.

It makes for interesting responses!

Kindest regards,

James
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"The Word of God is the Creation we behold and it is in this Word, which no human invention can counterfeit or alter, that God speaketh universally to man."
The Age Of Reason
Sun Jul 30, 2017 1:19 pm
SparhafocPosts: 1653Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: Why Atheism?

DepricatedZero wrote:So a lot of people here are happy to describe themselves as atheists.


Sadly, to the consternation of many of my long time friends, I don't describe myself as an atheist because it says nothing about me, I don't use other labels to express what I don't believe in, it lends theism more weight and homogeneity that it deserves or is factual, and because I think theism is like believing in the boogeyman and not to be taken seriously by crediting with a word.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Sun Jul 30, 2017 7:21 pm
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2399Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Why Atheism?

I certainly don't disagree with any of that, as I've said in the past. The only reason I use it is for convenience.
Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:40 am
SparhafocPosts: 1653Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: Why Atheism?

Aye well, tis hardly surprising matey - you're more than competent at engaging in nuance!
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Mon Jul 31, 2017 12:39 pm
DustniteUser avatarPosts: 519Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 9:11 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Why Atheism?

I consider myself an igtheist:

Ignosticism or igtheism claims that knowledge regarding the reality of God is altogether unprofitable. This idea is directly contested by the mainstream teachings of monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and Bahá'í Faith. It is the idea that every theological position assumes too much about the concept of God and other theological concepts; including (but not limited to) concepts of faith, spirituality, heaven, hell, afterlife, damnation, salvation, sin and the soul.


Or really it's theological noncognitivism - the argument that religious language, specifically, words such as "God," are not cognitively meaningful. Unless a theist can provide a concrete, detailed and falsifiable definition of what they mean by "God" then there is really no point in discussing deeper issues involved with "God" such as whether or not it exists.

Now that doesn't describe any of my ideals or character, but on this particular issue it concisely explains my approach to religion. I also can't be considered to be "copping out" of the burden of proof using this label, even though I still don't think an atheist would have either. Unfortunately, atheism has it's own baggage that's hard for people to remove their emotional bias when interacting with the label.

Now since I've described myself as an igtheist, I do think the parent category for this state is atheism since again I don't hold a belief in god, specifically agnostic atheism. I can almost hold a gnostic atheist position on certain characteristics of the being described in Abrahamic religions for example, but I generally don't wander down that rabbit hole since the argument requires such specific language to be feasible.
"But this is irrelevant because in either case, whether a god exists or not, whether your God (with a capital G) exists or not, it doesn't matter. We both are, in either case, evolved apes. " - Nesslig20
Mon Jul 31, 2017 8:51 pm
VisakiUser avatarPosts: 778Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2010 12:26 pmLocation: Helsinki, Finland Gender: Male

Post Re: Why Atheism?

DepricatedZero wrote:So other than when standing antipodal to theism, why describe yourself as an atheist?

Apart from theological context I do not describe myself as an atheist. Skeptic? Sure. Secular humanist? Of course. Slightly sociopathic? Naturally. Atheist? Outside of a very specific circle, no.
Tue Aug 01, 2017 7:12 am
he_who_is_nobodyBloggerUser avatarPosts: 3347Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 1:36 amLocation: Albuquerque, New Mexico Gender: Male

Post Re: Why Atheism?

DepricatedZero wrote:So other than when standing antipodal to theism, why describe yourself as an atheist?


As hackenslash pointed out, I will use the label because of the ubiquity of theism. However, apatheist (apathetic atheist; basically exactly what igtheist means) describes my stance on the subject of deities. In addition, recently I did reflect on this exact issue for the exact same reasons you point out in the OP and decided I needed better and more precise labeling for myself.

I am a humanist, skeptic, and archaeologist.
_BONES AND FOSSILS = LOVE_
(_'--------------------'_)
(_.--------------------._)
Fri Aug 04, 2017 5:21 am
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hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2399Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Why Atheism?

I find that the best, most precise label for myself is 'hackenslash'. ;) :lol:
Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:54 am
Bango SkankPosts: 180Joined: Sun Jun 22, 2014 4:15 amLocation: Finland Gender: Male

Post Re: Why Atheism?

I don't like to label myself as an atheist anymore, because from my experience most of the theists have great difficulties to understand what atheism means and i'm tired of explaining that over and over again.

I prefer label "non-believer" or when asked, instead of saying that i'm an atheist, i say "I don't believe in gods" instead. Saves time.
"There are those to whom knowledge is a shield, and those to whom it is a weapon. Neither view is balanced, but one is less unwise."
Fri Aug 04, 2017 4:40 pm
DepricatedZeroChat ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 1333Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 11:43 amLocation: Cincinnati, OH Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Why Atheism?

So it looks like I was wrong to say "a lot of people here." It sounds like you all (who have responded anywya) have pretty much the same perception.

I guess it's more broadly that I see this done, rather than here.

Gnug215 wrote:I realized early on during all this whole YouTube atheism rigmarole that there was really nothing to atheism, other than it being a stance of opposition. And I'm not saying that to toot my own "woke", "early adopter" horn or whatever. It doesn't take a genius to make that stunning realization.
Honestly, that's the realization that made me kind of drop off the map the last few years. I've tried to keep interested and tried to re-engage here, but I always come to the same conclusion: our common interest is a non-entity, a negative. I mean, there were other factors: new job, started a band, etc. But for the most part, what occurred to me is that while I'm an atheist, that doesn't really say anything about me. As other examples go, it's like describing myself as non-black. Or an example I used here yonks ago, "I'm an apteryx." I don't have wings.

Non sequitur that just occurred to me as funny so I have to share in this context: could you imagine cops chasing after a suspect and describing them by things they're not? "All units be on the lookout for a non-reptilian individual who doesn't appear to be from Korea. Reports are that he's not short, and his eyes aren't red." That's what I think it sounds like when people tell me they're atheists. Like, that's cool and all, but what ARE you, then?

hackenslash wrote:I certainly don't disagree with any of that, as I've said in the past. The only reason I use it is for convenience.

I missed you. And I'm surprised, you always found something to disagree with me on.

Maybe the years since I was very active have changed me that significantly. Or you. More likely both.

Dragan Glas wrote:If someone tries to label me as an atheist, depending on their own religious affiliation, I turn the tables on them.

If they're a Christian, I point out they're a gentile or infidel; if a Jew, they're a heathen or infidel; if a Muslim, they're a gentile or heathen.
And I've missed you. I'm going to start doing that. I love it!

Dustnite wrote:I consider myself an igtheist:

<snip to save space>
So this is an interesting discussion point I kind of want to focus on.

I think putting that much explanation into the label gives more credibility to the question than it deserves. If you dismiss someone's claim because it lacks substance, do you need to elaborate on what substance is lacked? That just encourages them to try and find a way to skirt your objection and try again. I'm not interested in doing other peoples homework for them, I'm not a teacher and I'm not interested in educating them on the basics of logic that they're clearly missing. I can dismiss them and move on with my life, and if that bothers them well, that's their problem, not mine.

That said, sure it's a valid dissection. It just goes way farther than merely rejecting the claim, to the point of giving the claim credibility. It would be like Dawkins debating William Lane Craig.
Why does my life have to be so small
And death is forever
And does forever have a life to call its own?
Don't give me an answer cause you only know
As much as I know
Unless you've been there once
And I hardly think so

Green Day - One of My Lies
Fri Aug 04, 2017 10:15 pm
DustniteUser avatarPosts: 519Joined: Wed May 27, 2009 9:11 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Why Atheism?

DepricatedZero wrote:I think putting that much explanation into the label gives more credibility to the question than it deserves. If you dismiss someone's claim because it lacks substance, do you need to elaborate on what substance is lacked? That just encourages them to try and find a way to skirt your objection and try again. I'm not interested in doing other peoples homework for them, I'm not a teacher and I'm not interested in educating them on the basics of logic that they're clearly missing. I can dismiss them and move on with my life, and if that bothers them well, that's their problem, not mine.

That said, sure it's a valid dissection. It just goes way farther than merely rejecting the claim, to the point of giving the claim credibility. It would be like Dawkins debating William Lane Craig.


The explanation into the label of atheism or igtheism?

In my personal experience, when I were to use the label atheist I not only would have to explain what atheism is, but also what it is not. Typically, this label is loaded with misinformation the other participant has that doesn't describe my position at all. Igtheism is something a lay person probably won't know, so if I continue with that explanation I will have expended much less effort.

Most of the time when I'm discussing these issues with a theist, I tend to discuss it in terms of what we actually believe instead of attributing any label anyways, as others have said. My goal when I choose to engage with the theist is to try and educate them on a position they may not have discovered before, but my actual target for teaching others is any of the lurkers or audience listening. I am essentially rejecting any god claims that have been thus far presented to me due to the attributes and definitions used in describing those god claims. I see no reason why that would grant more credibility to said god claims.
"But this is irrelevant because in either case, whether a god exists or not, whether your God (with a capital G) exists or not, it doesn't matter. We both are, in either case, evolved apes. " - Nesslig20
Sat Aug 05, 2017 12:23 am
DepricatedZeroChat ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 1333Joined: Fri May 28, 2010 11:43 amLocation: Cincinnati, OH Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: Why Atheism?

Igtheism. See, I guess I'm just more of an asshole than you are. As far as I see it, if they attach misinformation to "atheist" that's a them problem, not a me problem. I don't really care if they want to display their ignorance - I'm not going to pander to and justify their misinformation by using new terms so they require an explanation. That gives far too much credibility to their claim and their misinformation. It's trivial and I treat it as such. As far as I'm concerned, my being an atheist is much like my being an apteryx. It's just a fact of life that I have as many theistic beliefs as I have wings, and just as relevant. I don't have to find new ways of telling people I don't have wings, so fuck them why should I find new ways of telling them I don't have imaginary abusive lovers? I'm not kowtowing to their delusions.

Of course, I'm also not going to offer correction to their misinformation either, because I'm fine with letting people who want to be ignorant, be ignorant. I'm not here to teach them, or bystanders - except in very specific instances where that's the goal. But if someone at a show tries to proselytize to me I'm not giving them more than to reject their claim.
Why does my life have to be so small
And death is forever
And does forever have a life to call its own?
Don't give me an answer cause you only know
As much as I know
Unless you've been there once
And I hardly think so

Green Day - One of My Lies
Sat Aug 05, 2017 1:31 am
SparhafocPosts: 1653Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: Why Atheism?

I think putting that much explanation into the label gives more credibility to the question than it deserves.


/nodding emoticon

I am not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:52 am
SparhafocPosts: 1653Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: Why Atheism?

Ahh yes, said the learned gentleman, but you are, at least, a Christian atheist, are you not?
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Sat Aug 05, 2017 4:59 am
SparhafocPosts: 1653Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: Why Atheism?

For years I used the line 'I'm not an atheist; I just don't believe in gods' at theists who would argue that atheism means x proposition, and y premise and so on.

If atheism means I want to barbecue babies in a burning church, then I am clearly not an atheist.

Of course, such theists are not known for their nuance or desire to engage in other peoples' ideas, so it was a fun way to knock them off their well worn tracks of prejudism against the word 'atheism' and start them talking about what I did believe in.

Then... and I still can't quite believe it.... PZ Myers used his internet fame to attack all atheists that didn't conform to his notion of atheism:

http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2011 ... n-atheist/

Dictionary Atheists. Boy, I really do hate these guys.


The fine-grained shuffling about to define yourself so precisely is simply narcissistic masturbation.


All you’re doing is defining yourselves as anal retentive freaks, people!


You are an atheist — take pride in what you do believe, not what you deny.


What a plum.

So when even public atheists don't get the fucking notion, and they think atheism is some kind of rallying cry ...

What do we believe in?
Nothing contingent upon divine entities!
When do we believe them?
Errr.... never?


... some kind of body of beliefs one should be proud of.... :roll: ... then it stopped my expression being ironic once and for all.

I'd sooner say that I'm an atheist because I think PZ Myers is a twat than any of the reasons he offered, and that just brings us back to the stupidity of defining oneself by what one is not.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Sat Aug 05, 2017 5:09 am
hackenslashLime TordUser avatarPosts: 2399Joined: Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:43 pm Gender: Cake

Post Re: Why Atheism?

That post by Myers is what motivated me to write my article on the topic. Myers is, in that post, and understandably from his perspective, conflating atheists with those who declare themselves atheist, and there's no one-to-one mapping between these sets.

Dictionary atheism, as he calls it, is an attempt to wrest control of the terms from the morons. I liken it to Dawkins' use of 'evolutionist'.
Sun Aug 06, 2017 12:24 am
SparhafocPosts: 1653Joined: Fri Jun 23, 2017 6:48 am

Post Re: Why Atheism?

Hack and I have already done this before, so neither of us needs to explore each others' position as we could both take each other's argument and do them justice if we wanted to.

However, to induce further discussion between others here who may enjoy seeing the form of our contention, we have a minor disagreement based really only on the usage of words.

To use the example in Hack's blog entry of the brick....

Is a brick bald? Of course it is, because it doesn't have hair. It doesn't have to be capable of having hair to qualify as bald.For it to be described as bald only requires that it be devoid of keratinous filaments.


Whereas my position would be in contrast to the second sentence:

A quality or characteristic such as 'bald' necessitates the ability to possess hair, and therefore the potential to contextually be devoid of it. Otherwise, hair could also be 'bald' if it doesn't have any hair, and the hair on the hair would be bald..... and so on.

So this has ramifications backwards through Hack's post for me:

Atheism is simply the non-acceptance of a specific class of truth-claim with regard to the existence of deities. One doesn't have to be a conscious, thinking entity to qualify, and all entities that are incapable of forming an opinion, including bricks, are thus defined.


For me, the ability to accept a truth-claim or reject it is a requisite characteristic for any specific acceptance or rejection of a truth-claim. For me, one does have to be a conscious, thinking entity to qualify for holding or not holding a position. Holding a position / not holding a position is contingent on that characteristic, and the absence of that characteristic makes the holding of a position or lack of holding a position inapplicable.

Thus for me, bricks, babies, sperm, eggs, atoms et al. cannot be atheist any more than they can be theist because they are not traits this class of entities can possess, and applying them so is an implicit category mistake or a misguided ontology.
"a reprehensible human being"
Beliefs are, by definition, things we don't know to be true.
Sun Aug 06, 2017 9:12 am
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