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The Trouble With Atheism


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This is a very interesting documentary that brought up many things I didn't know about. It's by Ron Liddle, I presume his is either a agnostic or a deist. But either way he makes his case against atheism and the problems with it. After watching it I started to rethink things. Not my atheism or anything but just my stance on how we should go around treating people of other faiths. Some things I didn't agree with. Ron seems to think atheism is a religion. He says we got our sacred text, our preachers and etc. Now while we do got people who make a stance for atheism our so called sacred text can be thrown out at anytime to a more advanced way of looking at the world. What is also lacking is the ritual involved with other religious practices. He did touch upon how some atheist try to apply darwinism to everything or how some people use science to define morals. For me personally I like to look at history to see what is moral and what works and what doesn't work so I didn't learn much from that. But I did learn about some civilizations that tried to be more atheistic in their teachings and failed (they failed to mention japan which is doing extremely well as a majority atheist country). Overall the video is decent and should be watched. Please watch and give your thoughts.

 

The Trouble With Atheism

Part 1 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xSM7BUmx6hY

 

Part 2 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7XTk-ecK9VM

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This is a very interesting documentary that brought up many things I didn't know about. It's by Ron Liddle, I presume his is either a agnostic or a deist. But either way he makes his case against atheism and the problems with it.....
Without wasting time with the utube thing, the ONLY way anyone has a problem with Atheism is by defining it as something that it is not. They grow a whole army of strawmen to attack Atheism and think they've done a good job. I have no doubt this guy has done the same thing. If you use the most basic definition of Atheism - a lack of belief in gods - there isn't much there to find a problem with unless you have a belief in gods. I guess that's why they have to lie about Atheism in order to dismiss it.
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Dave I think you might try watching the thing. The guy isn't so much attacking atheism or making strawmen. Rather he seems to be saying that the question of whether a person is a theist or an atheist is not really a problem. He seems to feel that the problem comes in when people insist that their way of looking at things is the way everyone should look at things.

 

I thought it was fairly well done.

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Without wasting time with the utube thing, the ONLY way anyone has a problem with Atheism is by defining it as something that it is not. They grow a whole army of strawmen to attack Atheism and think they've done a good job. I have no doubt this guy has done the same thing. If you use the most basic definition of Atheism - a lack of belief in gods - there isn't much there to find a problem with unless you have a belief in gods. I guess that's why they have to lie about Atheism in order to dismiss it.

 

So because you disagree with his conclusion, you completely refuse to listen to his arguments? You've set up your own strawman here; you don't even know what the guy is arguing, but you're already attacking him for it!

 

Of course, your beliefs are so obviously right, that anyone who disagrees is obviously wrong, and of course it's a waste of time listening to their arguments. Brilliant, Holmes.

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So because you disagree with his conclusion, you completely refuse to listen to his arguments?
You could put it that way if you need to, I wouldn't. It's more of not wasting my time hearing the argument for the thousandth time from a person that thinks it's a brand new argument of the utmost logic.
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Watched five minutes so far, and he's clearly defined atheism as "a belief in a negative," NOT as a lack of belief. Furthermore, from what I can tell so far, this film doesn't try to prove or disprove atheism; rather, it's addressing the traditional atheist stance on religion (not it's stance on God).

 

He did make the classic "atheism is a religion" comparison though, I'll give you that, but I don't think he was equating the two so much as illustrating what they have in common.

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I was watching the first part where he interviews a guy and says, "Why can't you believe what you believe and let other people believe what they want to believe?"

 

I take Sam Harris' position. In any other field outside of religion we do not respect another person's beliefs. We examine their reasons for believing and if those reasons are faulty we critique them.

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Critiquing religious viewpoints is good and necessary. However, it is also good and necessary to critique other viewpoints, including atheism, rationalism, etc. Furthermore, I think this "critical dialogue" can still leave room for difference of opinion. I believe that God does not exist, but I think I would rather die than have atheism enforced as a state religion. I think Liddle's point here is that many of the criticisms of religion can also be accurately directed towards atheism, and that religion does not have a monopoly on intolerance and hostility towards other opinions.

 

On a completely different note, Dawkins really ought to have combed his hair before he did that interview...

 

...Oh Gosh, I can't believe Liddle is pulling out the fine-tuning argument!

 

NOW HALF-WAY THROUGH: This documentary started off really well, in my opinion, but is rapidly degrading....

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Finished watching it. For what they're worth, here are my thoughts.

 

The film started off well enough, and also ended fairly respectably, but the middle (probably a good deal more than half of the film) was merely a bunch of poorly-construed apologetics for an agnostic stance. If Liddle had actually spent his time talking about the subject introduced at the start of the film (ie the inability of atheism to "save the world") instead of getting distracted by arguments for agnosticism, the film would have been much stronger (of course, I have my own biases). Still, there are some excellent points made, enough for me to recommend it to any atheist.

 

Favorite quote: "What's wrong with arrogance if you're right?"

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Watched five minutes so far, and he's clearly defined atheism as "a belief in a negative," NOT as a lack of belief. Furthermore, from what I can tell so far, this film doesn't try to prove or disprove atheism; rather, it's addressing the traditional atheist stance on religion (not it's stance on God).

 

He did make the classic "atheism is a religion" comparison though, I'll give you that, but I don't think he was equating the two so much as illustrating what they have in common.

That's one of the strawmen I was talking about. I say a few minutes worth, and stopped at that point. He also insinuated that Atheists are wrong for saying there is no god but it's just fine for believers to say, dogmatically, there is a god. Does he continue with that throughout the whole program?
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That's one of the strawmen I was talking about. I say a few minutes worth, and stopped at that point. He also insinuated that Atheists are wrong for saying there is no god but it's just fine for believers to say, dogmatically, there is a god. Does he continue with that throughout the whole program?

 

Uuuhh, hard to tell conclusively. He doesn't say as such outright, but since this is a critique of atheism (or at least of atheists) and not of religion, it comes across that way. From what I gathered at the ending, his conclusion was that atheism can't be proven, and there's problems with both atheism and religion, so we should just let each other be. He misses the point (made by Dawkins, who compared his disbelief in God to his disbelief in fairies) that just because atheism can't be proven, that doesn't mean that there's no reason to choose it over another explanation (can anyone say "Occam's razor"?).

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I think his premise is correct that Atheists can be just as intolerant of other people (all people are intolerant to some degree), but I don't agree with his argument that people see atheism as the answer to our 'prayers'. It's not an actual belief system, how can it solve anything?

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Uuuhh, hard to tell conclusively. He doesn't say as such outright, but since this is a critique of atheism (or at least of atheists) and not of religion, it comes across that way. From what I gathered at the ending, his conclusion was that atheism can't be proven, and there's problems with both atheism and religion, so we should just let each other be.
What is there to be proven? How does one "prove" a lack of belief? And he missed another important point; for the most part, Atheists do leave the believers alone. It is the believers that are causing all the wars and problems.
He misses the point (made by Dawkins, who compared his disbelief in God to his disbelief in fairies) that just because atheism can't be proven, that doesn't mean that there's no reason to choose it over another explanation (can anyone say "Occam's razor"?).
The believers haven't proven anything either. They never use Occam's Razor since it decapitates gods.
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I think his premise is correct that Atheists can be just as intolerant of other people (all people are intolerant to some degree), but I don't agree with his argument that people see atheism as the answer to our 'prayers'.

Well, I think Sam Harris & Richard Dawkins have been fairly outspoken about their belief that religion is responsible for a large amount of evil in the world, and we'd be better off without it.

It's not an actual belief system, how can it solve anything?

How is atheism not a belief system? I don't understand.

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I agree that athiests can be just as intolerant of other people as much as thiests; however, I part ways with him there. Me, I just don't believe. I respect other people's right to believe in what they choose; but I don't, period. There is nothing more to it than that. Do I know, with absolutely certainty, that there is no God? No I don't. But the evidence against there being any Gods far outweighs the possibility that there might be one.

Personally, I think it was a veiled attack on athiesm. We live in a culture that holds religion and belief in the unknown in the highest esteem. Anything that goes to the contrary is scrutinzed, no matter how prettily the person packages his or her theories. Again, I am all for freedom of religious expression. But I feel that it should take the back burner to the tangible world and rationality. We have no proof of any Gods; so we should not allow people with an extreme faith in a God dictate important happenings in our advanced society.

I couldn't force myself to believe in God if I wanted to now. It was just natural progression for me. So his stance on athiesm being a religion is a moot point. It isn't a religion it is just a state of mind.

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How is atheism not a belief system? I don't understand.

I don't understand how Atheism can be a belief system? Atheism is a LACK of belief and can no more be a belief than bald can be a hair color.

 

Secular Humanism is a belief system, but not Atheism.

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I think that I've decided that I will no longer apply the term atheist to myself. The more I think about it, and I'm sure others have expressed this, the more it seems that claiming to be an atheist is equivalent to claiming to be a non-supernaturalist. I think I prefer to say what I do believe in and that is naturalism. I think that everything is natural, so in some sense that makes me a naturalist.

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How is atheism not a belief system? I don't understand.

I don't understand how Atheism can be a belief system? Atheism is a LACK of belief and can no more be a belief than bald can be a hair color.

That's (so-called) "weak" atheism (no belief in God). I, however, consider myself a "strong" atheist (belief in no God). I think that's certainly a belief. Not really a system though, I'll agree, but more than 90% of the time it goes hand in hand with principles of observation and deduction, etc. which one could arguably call a system of beliefs, values, and methods. Perhaps I misunderstand what is meant by system.

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How is atheism not a belief system? I don't understand.

I don't understand how Atheism can be a belief system? Atheism is a LACK of belief and can no more be a belief than bald can be a hair color.

 

Secular Humanism is a belief system, but not Atheism.

In the video he is linking Atheism to Darwinism. He feels that since Darwinism is such an important piece to Atheist that some atheist try to apply Darwinian philosophy to everything. So to him if Atheism = Darwinism then it is a belief system.

 

He also shows some other Atheistic culture, Marxist and something else (Something about the French) show that Atheism, or a belief system based on reason, can be just a violent as any other religion.

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I think that I've decided that I will no longer apply the term atheist to myself. The more I think about it, and I'm sure others have expressed this, the more it seems that claiming to be an atheist is equivalent to claiming to be a non-supernaturalist. I think I prefer to say what I do believe in and that is naturalism. I think that everything is natural, so in some sense that makes me a naturalist.

The term would be materialist.

 

In philosophy, materialism is that form of physicalism which holds that the only thing that can truly be said to exist is matter; that fundamentally, all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. Science uses a working assumption, sometimes known as methodological naturalism, that observable events in nature are explained only by natural causes without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural. As a theory, materialism belongs to the class of monist ontology. As such, it is different from ontological theories based on dualism or pluralism. In terms of singular explanations of the phenomenal reality, materialism stands in sharp contrast to idealism.

You (and I) would be philosophical materialists. Atheism is just simply a position on the question of the existence, or belief in god or gods. It has no tenants of faith, no prophets, no sacred literature, no disciplines, no teachings, no philosophies - nada, none, zip. Existentialism, Positivism, Materialism, Consumerism, Dadaism, Aestheticism, Buddhism, etc all are philosophies and may or may not include a god belief. Existentialism has leaders, teachings, disciplines, etc, but even that does not qualify as a religion. Atheism is not even a philosophy, and it certainly is not a religion.

 

Theravada Buddhism is an atheist religion. So that pretty much destroys this youtube clip where he claims atheism is a religion. I am an atheist, am I a Buddhist? Is a Buddhist an Existentialist? No. This video is not a serious study on the subject and is rather a consumer market over simplified and confused look at involved issues. His video is pabulum for mass consumption and lack real substance. There are far better sources for raising these sorts of questions.

 

The real question should have been stated: "In an increasing secular world where beliefs in God are being replaced by more rationalistic philosophies, is the perceived "irrational" side of humanity that religion fulfilled, something that we are lacking, or are better off without. In other words, are people happier being purely rational, or do we need a form of mystery to make live meaningful?" These are the real questions that he turns instead turns into a sensationalist exploitation of that mystery thing called "atheism", for what I see is more about being sensational, rather that a serious look at the issues.

 

You want to know what the real religion of today is? It’s not atheism, which can’t be one, but it’s consumerism. Our socieity is not a Christian one, nor an Secular one, rather it’s a consumerist one. That’s our philosophy, that’s our religion. Whether Christian or Atheist, or other we are all one under the watchful eye of the Almighty Gods of Marketing. We feast on their offerings, and they devour our bodies. Merry Christmas everyone! :wicked:

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You (and I) would be philosophical materialists.

I'm not sure that I'm comfortable with the label of philisophical materalist either. Let us compare and contrast "materialism" with "naturalism."

 

From Wikipedia:

 

Naturalism may refer to:

 

Naturalism (philosophy), any of several philosophical stances wherein all phenomena or hypotheses commonly labeled as supernatural are either false, unknowable, or not inherently different from natural phenomena or hypotheses

 

Methodological naturalism is the belief that observable events in nature are explained only by natural causes without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural

 

Metaphysical naturalism, the belief that the natural world is all that exists

 

Ethical naturalism, the theory that ethical terms can be defined in non-ethical terms

 

Humanistic naturalism, an outlook that places the emphasis upon a naturalism based upon scientific reasoning

 

Natural history, a broad area of the natural sciences concerned with living things

 

Sociological naturalism, the view that the natural world and the social world are roughly identical and governed by similar principles

 

 

Also from Wikipedia:

 

In philosophy, materialism is that form of physicalism which holds that the only thing that can truly be said to exist is matter; that fundamentally, all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. Science uses a working assumption, sometimes known as methodological naturalism, that observable events in nature are explained only by natural causes without assuming the existence or non-existence of the supernatural. As a theory, materialism belongs to the class of monist ontology. As such, it is different from ontological theories based on dualism or pluralism. In terms of singular explanations of the phenomenal reality, materialism stands in sharp contrast to idealism.

 

 

There clearly seems to be some overlap in the definitions. I guess that my only reservation in claiming to be a materialist is that I am beginning to suspect that relations and/or entailment are every bit as real or substantive as matter. Indeed it might be the case that relations and/or entailment are what give rise to material phenomenon.

 

With each passing day my philosophy is being shaped far more by considerations of biology than anything else. When I consider living systems I am not compelled to believe that their essence is material. Rather they are embodiments or realizations of certain relations and patterns of entailment. But I am still in the process of clarifying for myself what this means, so please don't ask me to clarify it for you.

 

So I am still inclined to consider myself a naturalist rather than a materialist, but I hope that you will feel free to call me what you wish Antlerman. :grin:

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With each passing day my philosophy is being shaped far more by considerations of biology than anything else. When I consider living systems I am not compelled to believe that their essence is material. Rather they are embodiments or realizations of certain relations and patterns of entailment. But I am still in the process of clarifying for myself what this means, so please don't ask me to clarify it for you.

Well hell... I was just about to ask you for clarification. Now you tell me I can't. Damn it!

 

So I am still inclined to consider myself a naturalist rather than a materialist, but I hope that you will feel free to call me what you wish Antlerman. :grin:

That works for me too. I guess I was seeing naturalism in the sense of the scientific approach to studying nature. I always took materialism as more a philosophic outlook.

 

Edit: I wanted to add I listened to more of that video clip and what I said before resonates stronger even more now. He does one strawman argument after another. I smell disingenousness all over him. He's after poplularity, not knowledge.

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That's (so-called) "weak" atheism (no belief in God). I, however, consider myself a "strong" atheist (belief in no God).
You can do what you want, but I do not divide Atheism into neat little categories. If one lacks a belief in a god then they are an Atheist. Whatever added after that is a PERSONAL belief and not part of the definition of Atheism.
I think that's certainly a belief. Not really a system though, I'll agree, but more than 90% of the time it goes hand in hand with principles of observation and deduction, etc. which one could arguably call a system of beliefs, values, and methods. Perhaps I misunderstand what is meant by system.
Atheism could certainly be a part of a "belief system" that one has, but it is not the total system. I do not base all by beliefs on my lack of belief in gods. My life does not revolve around by lack of belief in gods the way it would for a believer.
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I think his premise is correct that Atheists can be just as intolerant of other people (all people are intolerant to some degree), but I don't agree with his argument that people see atheism as the answer to our 'prayers'.

Well, I think Sam Harris & Richard Dawkins have been fairly outspoken about their belief that religion is responsible for a large amount of evil in the world, and we'd be better off without it.

 

Irrationality is responsible for evil in the world, religion is irrational, so they're right.

 

It's not an actual belief system, how can it solve anything?

How is atheism not a belief system? I don't understand.

 

Because it's not a system of belief. It's the lack of a belief, strong or not.

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