Jim’s dead »« Fightin’ words

Responsible atheism

It’s the same old story: ever since I introduced the idea of dictionary atheism, I’ve been accused of trying to redefine the word.

Wrong. Although I should have noticed their twitter handle and realized that they weren’t worth talking to.

What I advocate is taking atheism seriously, owning the word and recognizing the implications and the causes behind your ideas. A flippant “I just don’t believe in god” is only the middle of the story: it’s actually “because X, I just don’t believe in god, therefore Y.” Yet so many people just make that statement, and then argue that there are no antecedents and no consequences of atheism — a revolutionary idea for which people have been executed, which is in opposition to the premises used to establish many of the powerful institutions in our culture, which directly contradicts what many people consider the basis of all morality in society, is treated as casually and cavalierly as the statement, “I don’t much care for Justin Bieber’s music”. So what we get are people who jump on the bandwagon, assert their atheism, and then continue to perpetuate the same old injustices and prejudices as before. Which is not at all unexpected in any movement, but still doesn’t sit well — I think it’s important that we remind everyone that taking on a major philosophical position isn’t the same as getting the latest shoe from Nike. There’s baggage. There are implications.

I’ll also say something that will irritate much of the readership here: you may not like some of their interpretations, but Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Hitchens definitely take atheism very seriously, and see it as a transforming principle for society. They’re right about that. If we do take responsibility for what atheism actually means, it has a host of consequences: it means that naturalism is the only principle we should use in making decisions, no waiting for miracles. It means that there is no afterlife, so causing death is a problem of far greater magnitude, no cop outs that they’re going to a better world. It means justice isn’t something imposed on us from above, but arises from our relationships with one another. It means we have to work together to build a better society, and clinging to old biases will not work.

Obviously, this does not mean atheism needs dogma — the disagreements we have are actually a good sign that we recognize that making a post-theist society takes work, and there certainly is no unity within the movement. But I think an important first step is to realize that some people are responsible atheists, and others are not. And for me, the first sign that I shouldn’t even bother arguing with someone is when they pull out the dictionary and declare that atheism only means that you don’t believe in any gods. Well, good for you, you’re nominally atheist, we’re all done, come back and talk to me when you’ve grown up a little.

Comments

  1. says

    If atheism is nothing more than the absence of religious belief, why do people get so worked up the terminology? Are there similar arguments in the non-stamp-collecting community?

  2. badgersdaughter says

    Hyperdeath, why don’t you list all the ways stamp collecting has influenced society since ancient times, and then answer your own question?

  3. says

    I appreciate your point, but I don’t find this a convincing argument.

    The trouble is that people in general don’t think deeply about their ideas and their implications. There’s no reason atheism should be unique in this regard. The idea is powerful and has important implications! However, that doesn’t mean everyone who holds it bothers. The nonreligious just don’t bother thinking about it much, never mind how important these ideas have been historically. (Which is a symptom of us doing rather well.)

    Compare Christians. Most of them don’t think very deeply either. I know serious, thinking Christians of the sort who quote the original Greek in Bible study, whose theology is at a level of sophistication so rarefied I go “wat” … and I know ones whose theology is barely at the Chick tract level of sophistication. You could claim that simplistic Christians aren’t real Christians, but I think you’d be defining the word non-normatively.

    I’m not sure simplistic atheism fits the word “atheism” as clearly as simplistic Christianity fits the word “Christianity”. These days we have “nonreligious” and “agnostic” and so forth. But I do think you’re drawing a long bow here expecting humans to think in depth about positions they hold, nice as that might be.

  4. says

    I mean, it’d be great if we could define hideous arseholes as not being real atheists. But I’m pretty sure we can’t actually do that and still be speaking fairly normative English as it’s used in practice.

  5. says

    But that’s the thing: I do realize that hideous arseholes really are atheists — they don’t believe in god, therefore the label fits. But somehow they get very irate when I say that the term actually has some weight and ought to also carry some obligations, they start ranting that I’m trying to take their precious label away from them.

  6. jefrir says

    David Gerard

    The trouble is that people in general don’t think deeply about their ideas and their implications. There’s no reason atheism should be unique in this regard. The idea is powerful and has important implications! However, that doesn’t mean everyone who holds it bothers. The nonreligious just don’t bother thinking about it much, never mind how important these ideas have been historically.

    But we’re not talking about people who just happen to be non-religious, and just haven’t given it much thought. Those people are fine. The people objected to in the post, who are strenuously arguing that their atheism is meaningless, they are not just random people. They are part of the atheist “movement”. They care about atheism enough to argue about it, often at great length. They should have thought about it, at least a bit. At the very least, they should stop getting so very offended by the fact that other people have thought about it.

  7. badgersdaughter says

    Heh, Hyperdeath, sorry, I suppose I’m not a frequent enough commenter to know your style yet. Plus, I do actually think that words and word choices mean things in social and psychological contexts (more complex than just “connotations”) that the dictionary can’t fully explain, and that people are not careful enough to make the best choices in the given circumstances. Hell, I am painfully aware of how short I fall time after time.

    I generally agree that a worldview without a God in it must necessarily imply certain other basic assumptions. I think that “Christianity is bull and I’m too lazy/busy/disgusted to think about what else I think/believe” is not an uncommon form of low-level “atheism”. PZ is absolutely right that a thinking person must draw certain conclusions about a world without a supernatural in it, but that’s a level that many people actually never get to, including many people I have known. Those people do not spend time on atheist sites on the Internet, so they’re not very well represented, but as an example I can cite a friend in his 60s whose stance on God is “I stopped going to church and never really wanted to go back, I suppose I would if I had to, but I really don’t care about that stuff”. My own father wasn’t religious, yet he was a Presbyterian church elder till the day he died because he thought of it as, essentially, protective coloration (his pastor actually knew he wasn’t a believer, and she kind of thought it was funny).

  8. lancefinney says

    I’m reminded of one of my favorite tweets ever:

    My #atheism tells you what I don't believe. My #skepticism tells you why. My #humanism tells you most important thing- how I treat people.— ajackson (@antitheistangie)

    March 8, 2012

  9. HolyPinkUnicorn says

    I’ll also say something that will irritate much of the readership here: you may not like some of their interpretations, but Dawkins, Harris, Dennett, and Hitchens definitely take atheism very seriously, and see it as a transforming principle for society.

    Irritating or not, they’ve all been very vocal about their atheism. And except for Dennett, they’re all kind of assholes about it too, but still outspoken while so much of the post-9/11 zeitgeist has become “Shut up and believe.” I’m suspecting there are other voices out there, not celebrities, but serious writers and even some American politicians, but they treat atheism like it’s only a choice between Coke and Pepsi. Just a box to check, and then move on without considering or caring about the consequences.

    Hitchens definitely seemed to have the most career opportunities post-9/11; his Iraq War priapism, and pro-Global War On Terror stance in general, was shared with plenty of believers. Would his career still have been as successful without the “Four Horsemen” involvement? Probably not, but I’ve never thought he was just looking to cash in on atheism as a label.

  10. consciousness razor says

    If we do take responsibility for what atheism actually means, it has a host of consequences: it means that naturalism is the only principle we should use in making decisions, no waiting for miracles. It means that there is no afterlife, so causing death is a problem of far greater magnitude, no cop outs that they’re going to a better world. It means justice isn’t something imposed on us from above, but arises from our relationships with one another. It means we have to work together to build a better society, and clinging to old biases will not work.

    Also, only agents who exist have goal-directed behavior, so teleology (“from the outside,” as it were*) isn’t real and does not explain anything. And as you said in previous posts, there is no chosen people, nor are there gender roles dictated by the nature of reality itself. We come up with such meanings and goals and roles and values for ourselves. That does not imply those things don’t exist — it means we have to take ownership of them, take responsibility for them, and change them to be the way ought to be. Because they can be changed by us, not by anybody else.

    *Really, this just amounts to naturalism, not what’s “in” or “out” according to us. Things like brains do this sort of stuff, not magical beings like souls or ghosts or spirits, or even abstract concepts that don’t interact with physics yet supposedly have some mystical effect on people or history or whatever. That weeds out a whole lot of garbage.

    But I think an important first step is to realize that some people are responsible atheists, and others are not.

    I have problems with this sort of language. Everybody is responsible, but some people don’t live up to their responsibilities. Tell people they’re actually “not responsible,” then some of them will believe it and act like it. It’s sort of nit-picky, but I think the effect is there at some level. An example that comes to mind is that people talk about “responsible gun owners” and the idea is apparently that only the “irresponsible” people ever cause problems. That is, people who have mental health issues (presumably severe ones), or are otherwise literally and constitutionally incapable of evaluating their actions and acting accordingly (because they’re just a fucking monster, or a rabid “animal,” not a human). Nobody ever does anything “wrong” in the sense of not doing what they ought to do; instead, they just can’t do anything else. You don’t need to say that they can’t do it, just that they’re aren’t doing it.

  11. davex says

    Because heaven is too good to be true (e.g. 100+ generations of chosen ancestors are happy to consider the eternal suffering of their grandchildren), I just don’t believe in a god that uses them, so I think the adherents who promise rewards in the next life are con artists.

  12. Adrian says

    Why is the consequence of atheism necessarily naturalism? Isn’t that like saying that the consequence of theism is Christianity?

  13. consciousness razor says

    Why is the consequence of atheism necessarily naturalism?

    It’s the other way around. Atheism is a subset of naturalism and logically entailed by it. You don’t believe in gods or other ghosts or magic powers, so you don’t believe in gods.

    Isn’t that like saying that the consequence of theism is Christianity?

    It’s not like that either. If you’re a Christian, you’re a theist. However, it’s not that if you’re an atheist, you’re a naturalist. You could believe in ghosts or wizards or fairies or the Force or Nirvana or whatever, just not gods (those are close to gods, but the meaning is still different and relevant). However, the consistent and useful ontological/epistemic/ethical/aesthetic claims that underpin atheism also lead to naturalism. You can be irrational, so you as a person may not be “lead” where your own thoughts ought to go, but being irrational isn’t a good reason. The existence of irrational people (who are atheists but not naturalists) isn’t like the fallacious conclusion that all theists are Christians, because people are legitimately and consistently theists in all sorts of non-Christian religions.

  14. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    atheists that believe in ghosts will be called?

    Irrational.

  15. consciousness razor says

    atheists that believe in ghosts will be called?

    I don’t have their phone numbers. Why do you want to call them?

    But seriously, “atheists who believe in ghosts” is a perfectly cromulent description. Making up a single word for it doesn’t change anything. Call them “spookists” or “ghost-believers” if you want. Do any of them believe in other stuff, especially other supernatural stuff? If so, why not call them something like “generally supernaturalists, except that they’re not goddists”? Do we really need individual isolated terms for every possible combination, or can we rely on combining different words like we do all of the time in natural language?

  16. R Johnston says

    Unfortunately, as someone once pointed out, the number one reason not to believe in gods is that “the question ‘Is there a god?’ is a bad question. It’s incoherent and undefined; ‘god’ is a perpetually plastic concept that promoters twist to evade evaluation. If the whole question is nebulous noise, how can any answer be acceptable? The only way to win is by not playing the game.” That’s actually a very important reason as it allows and demands that you simply dismiss all god claims out of hand and has the virtue of being absolutely correct. The question “does god exist?” is a very, very easy question to answer, truthfully and in the negative, and any hand-wringing or doubt over the answer means you’re coming at it with the wrong approach. “God” is simply not a well enough defined term for the concept of existence to apply to it.

    Sadly, the implications beyond not believing in gods for that line of reasoning are limited. They are real–e.g. rejecting strawmanning that treats words like “feminism” as if they didn’t mean things and more generally rejecting equivocation fallacy based arguments–but limited. One can be an atheist and fully embrace religious faith and the oppression of people for no good reason. Rationally arriving at the conclusion of atheism does not mean that someone has any obligation of philosophical consistency to be a rationalist, secularists, or humanists. And, of course, a lot of people arrive at atheism for pretty irrational reasons on top of that. People really do become atheists because they rebel against a theist upbringing, because they see the the problem of evil and conclude that because a good god can not exist that no god exists, because they find the concept of heaven to be utterly creepy, or because they’ve been taught that god’s an authoritarian, misogynistic piece of crap and don’t want god to exist.

    What this means is that atheism is actually a pretty terrible idea to organize around. It’s a weak-sauce idea to consider central to your identity. If not for the existence of theists, no one would consider atheism anything important at all, or even recognize that it exists. Atheism is not even a necessary idea for arguing against the desirability of a government and public social structure deeply infused by religion. All the same,”atheism” is, as a matter of historical accident, a label that people do identify with and an idea people do organize around. And boy do some of those organizations love the dictionary! They’re not wrong, at least not about the implications of atheism; even rationally arrived at atheism has limited implications, and the dictionary does not demand rationality. What they are is utterly useless. Dictionary atheism isn’t a philosophical idea one can promote; rather, it’s just a hair color or a favorite sports team. Dictionary atheism is a club, a club that’s actually less useful than the Friars club or a Houston Astros meet-up group because it pretends to be something more than they are.

    Dictionary atheists proselytize and have no hope of ever arguing for atheism rationally and convincingly because the version of atheism they embrace does not, in fact, demand any kind of a rational basis and does demand the acceptance of irrationally arrived at atheism. They can mouth the forms of rational arguments, buy they gave up the ghost when they clung to the dictionary and embraced the need to not care about logic.

  17. says

    I can’t help but be reminded of another outspoken atheist who went through the same exercise of trying to deduct morality from first principles of their materialist worldview, Ayn Rand. That sort of brittle cobweb of rationalizations is exactly the sort of thing I’m happy to avoid. There are plenty of systems of morality that can be legitimately described as materialist and atheist; some are more appealing than others. ‘

  18. Archaeopteryx lithographica says

    I just want to point out that that Archaeopteryx is not me. I’ve had this nic a long time. It pains me to see someone writing that drivel and using the same nic.

  19. Dick the Damned says

    I’ve know two people who called themselves atheists, who derided Christianity, but who believed in spirits. They were spiritualists.

    I’ve been involved with Humanism for nearly fifty years. It seems to be catching on, slowly. Those of us who are atheists & concerned with ethics are h(H)umanists. I’d suggest supporting Humanism..

    PZ was American Humanist of the Year, in 2009.

  20. Adrian says

    Atheism is a supercategory that includes naturalists, humanists, spiritualists. The only reason we unite under this term atheist is because it is what a small but growing population can agree about, and we would like the conversation to start at atheism in hopes that it will lead to the healthier philosophies like humanism and naturalism. Equating atheism to anti-supernaturalism is catchy but creates more problems than it solves.

  21. Nemo says

    This is your best, clearest expression yet of what you’ve been trying to say about “dictionary atheism”.

  22. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Equating atheism to anti-supernaturalism is catchy but creates more problems than it solves.

    I don’t see that. Typical of those who try for the dictionary definition only, and ignore the consequences of their decision to be an atheist.

  23. ragdish says

    I work in an environment that desparately tries to achieve a “PZMyerist” milieu. I am a Neurologist and an atheist who works in the Veterans Affairs medical system. And after acknowledging the recent scandals in the VA with prolonged waiting times, Congress needs to appropriate greater funds to insure a greater number of providers for veterans to shorten the waiting time. With that out of the way, I mean “PZMyerist” in a sense that there is social justice in the VA system which is socialist and all are treated relatively equally compared to the private sector. I see patients of nearly all ethnicities and all genders. Indeed, in my area of Sleep Medicine, I have seen transgendered patients whom after transitioning, their sleep apnea has improved!!! All employees set aside their biases at the doorstep, honoring each veteran and provide state of the art care regardless of race, gender. sexual orientation, etc..And now on to my point.

    The vast majority of individuals I work with are deeply religious. So PZ, although atheism may lead to progressive morals and sociocultural worldviews, so what? I am in an environment that strives towards atheism plus but without the atheism. Of course it is not perfect and there are reports of prejudice. But by and large the social arrow is aiming towards the plus. So what benefit is there to add the atheism where I’m at?

  24. jenny6833a says

    Topic 1: I have found no evidence supporting the existence of supernatural thingies such as gods. For that reason, I don’t believe in gods. Therefore, I’m an atheist. End of Topic 1.

    Topic 2: My personal philosophy including my ethics come from my own evaluation of many sources plus additions of my own that I’ve not found anywhere else. My atheism isn’t relevant to this ongoing investigation nor does atheism limit its scope. End of Topic 2.

    Topic 3: Others may wish to focus their own personal philosophy/ethics on the roots of atheism, but they have no right to call me derogatory names just because I decline to follow their lead. End of Topic 3.

    Topic 4: Those who feel they need a leader have the right to choose their own. I neither want nor need a leader. If I did, I wouldn’t choose one who regularly slams people who have contributed greatly to the betterment of the world. I don’t like those who try to augment their own status by tearing down those whose well earned greater status they envy. End of topic 4.

    End of topics.

  25. Al Dente says

    ragdish @28

    So what benefit is there to add the atheism where I’m at?

    You don’t have to be an atheist to be a caring, socially conscious individual, just like you don’t need to be an atheist to be an asshole. PZ’s and others’ point is that one result of atheism should be social justice. There are other routes to social justice, many secular humanists are theists and religious charities often do beneficial work for the needy, the deprived, and the socially marginalized. However if you’re an atheist then social justice is part of the package, not matter how much the libertarian atheists and other bigoted atheists may complain about socially conscious atheists.

  26. Drolfe says

    So what benefit is there to add the atheism where I’m at?

    And to elaborate a little: are you prepared to argue that more knowledge would not benefit where you’re at? I.e., I think it matters whether beliefs are true; bad/wrong beliefs motivate undesired behavior. Wouldn’t your colleagues be better at their jobs, generally, if they cared more about whether or not their beliefs were true? I agree that having as many true beliefs and as few false beliefs as possible would be a net benefit, and may even improve the care and outcomes for the veterans you serve.

    I’m sorry it’s so trite to say decreasing false beliefs and increasing true beliefs is a benefit, but there it is.

  27. Al Dente says

    jenny6833a @29

    You forgot one topic which applies to you:

    Topic 5: I will be self-righteous about my attitudes and condescending to those who feel differently about social issues. Obviously my atheism is the one, true, honest atheism and I will just barely refrain from sneering at those following lesser, unworthy atheism which might include unatheistic things like social justice and concern for others.

  28. Scientismist says

    Regarding what to call one’s own outlook when you think that scientific atheism does indeed have ethical implications — that is, when you have come to atheism not through pure philosophy or bare skepticism, but through science as a social activity for understanding the universe (as has been the case for myself, and, I believe, for PZ and many of the original “new atheists”) :

    I started calling myself an atheist about 50 years ago at age 20, because all the religion I ever saw was anti-science. As my education and experience in science progressed, I came to understand that I was actually an epistemological agnostic. I became involved with organized humanism, and met enough humanists, including many of its philosophers and founders, who didn’t understand either scientific epistemology or its ethical implications, that I concluded humanism was spinning its wheels. I read enough philosophy of science and religion to see that “agnosticism” as applied to religious questions was just an excuse for special pleading for theism (are you an agnostic about gravity? You should be!). I also came to learn that “scientism” (formerly referring to cult beliefs derived from science, like the biology of Lysenko) had been redefined in the 21st century to be a common epithet for the notion that science, founded in the ethic of truth-telling, might be not only the best, but the only route to reliable probable truth in matters of both material and ethical knowledge (see Monod, and Bronowski), and that this notion was an object for disdain among both theists and non-theists of all stripes (“Nobody calls themselves a scientismist!”).

    So I now call myself a Scientismist.

  29. ragdish says

    #31 “I agree that having as many true beliefs and as few false beliefs as possible would be a net benefit, and may even improve the care and outcomes for the veterans you serve”

    How? I recently took care of a veteran with basilar artery thrombosis who succumbed into a locked in state. The horror of being totally paralyzed except for blinking. My team including a devout jew, muslim and a hindu. The patient and his family were devout christians. Despite our scientifically grounded efforts to reverse his condition via thrombolysis, he lapsed into a coma as his brainstem infarction progressed. Following his death, a reverend read his last rites and prayed that his soul be in union with Jesus Christ in heaven. I would dare any atheist to not keep mum in that situation and tell the family the truth–there is no God, heaven, hell or afterlife. How would that improve care and outcome for that veteran. Of course this is an n of 1 but in all the cases of neurologic catastrophes I have encountered, I see no evidence that telling the truth would benefit.

    Sorry guys but I say this in all sincerity. I’ve been on this and several websites eg. Skepchick, Dawkins, Novella, etc…Where are you going with these atheist movements? I don’t see the utopia just because everyone is atheist. As is implied, even if everyone were atheist, we will still have assholes abound. How is knowing the truth going to matter? I frankly don’t care if my patient believes that the earth is only 6 thousand years old or that the moon is made of cheese. My job is to care for his/her migraine or intractable vertigo utilizing the best medical practice. All veterans come to me ultimately seeking a scientific solution to their ailments. They may say I’m a vehicle for Jesus or whatever else bullshit they believe. But ultimately it is not my place to tell them the whole truth that their beliefs are wrong. My job is to try to make them better and hopefully cure their conditions. Me preaching to them atheism won’t accomplish that.

  30. Al Dente says

    ragdish @34

    I would dare any atheist to not keep mum in that situation and tell the family the truth–there is no God, heaven, hell or afterlife. How would that improve care and outcome for that veteran.

    This is a difference between having a discussion about religion and being an asshole. Perhaps you might want to reflect on this difference before you sneer at those of us who are unabashed atheists. I sincerely doubt anyone in this discussion would tell a grieving family “there ain’t any gods, your prayers are meaningless, and Joe ain’t going to Heaven.” That’s because we’re not assholes. You, on the other hand, are an asshole for suggesting that we would say such things.

  31. chrisdevries says

    +1 to R Johnston

    Atheism may identify a characteristic we all share, but it has become a proxy for other associated “liberal” characteristics majority of atheists share (and I do think a majority of us are committed to the social justice bit, as evidenced by the polling data which usually shows that 70% – depending on the poll, this is often even higher – of nonbelievers favor all major measures and ideas that would improve social justice). Perhaps it would be wise to gradually and deliberately stop using “atheist movement” when talking about our peeps, and replace it with “secular humanism movement,” an identity which I think very closely conforms with almost all of our values. Obviously, this would not preclude future Deep Rifts ™, but I think a commitment to secular humanism amongst members would allow for easier resolution of disputes than simply a commitment to atheism.

    Yes, this will dilute our numbers but at least we wouldn’t have to deal with this “you’re being divisive” BS we face now. Because it’s obvious we really share much more in common with Unitarian Universalists who believe in a god than we do with atheists who are fine with societal inequality and injustice – these latter individuals are hurting our movement more than helping it.

  32. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Me preaching to them atheism won’t accomplish that.

    Where have atheists been preaching/proselytizing lately? Yelling at passerbys from street corners or knocking on doors to tell people they need to stop believing?
    You have developed a strawman of what atheists do. People loose their faith and come to us. We don’t do anything more than say if you stop believing, you aren’t alone.

  33. says

    ragdish #34

    I would dare any atheist to not keep mum in that situation and tell the family the truth–there is no God, heaven, hell or afterlife.

    I don’t know any who would even consider that an appropriate time to bring the subject up. Please produce this hypothetical unfeeling bastard of an atheist, that we may pour scorn and ridicule upon them.

    I don’t see the utopia just because everyone is atheist. As is implied, even if everyone were atheist, we will still have assholes abound.

    Religion is one bad influence on society. Some of us have chosen to pick that battle. That we have done so does not imply that we think it’s the only battle.

    My job is to try to make them better and hopefully cure their conditions. Me preaching to them atheism won’t accomplish that.

    Nor would it be ethical to do so in your position.

  34. anteprepro says

    28 ragdish:

    I am in an environment that strives towards atheism plus but without the atheism. Of course it is not perfect and there are reports of prejudice. But by and large the social arrow is aiming towards the plus. So what benefit is there to add the atheism where I’m at?

    Very little. But religion is a flawed system. Being good people is more important than thinking right, but the irrationality involved in religion might eventually result in issues. I would trust a Christian with noticeably good ethics over an atheist with decidedly shitty ethics any day, sure. But that doesn’t make religious dogma, even of the “let’s all get along” wishy-washy variety, from being a menace, eroding the foundations and methods of our knowledge about the world.

    29 jennynumbers

    Topic 1: I have found no evidence supporting the existence of supernatural thingies such as gods. For that reason, I don’t believe in gods. Therefore, I’m an atheist. End of Topic 1.

    Topic 2: My personal philosophy including my ethics come from my own evaluation of many sources plus additions of my own that I’ve not found anywhere else. My atheism isn’t relevant to this ongoing investigation nor does atheism limit its scope. End of Topic 2.

    If your atheism isn’t at all relevant to your ethics, you are doing it wrong. Or rather, you are ignoring just how much impact theism has on other people’s ethics. At the very least, hopefully, your atheism helps you avoid the pitfalls that others have when they get their ethics from On High.

    Topic 3: Others may wish to focus their own personal philosophy/ethics on the roots of atheism, but they have no right to call me derogatory names just because I decline to follow their lead. End of Topic 3.

    Yes. Dictionary atheist is such a derogatory name. Cue the world’s tiniest violin, folks.

    Topic 4: Those who feel they need a leader have the right to choose their own. I neither want nor need a leader. If I did, I wouldn’t choose one who regularly slams people who have contributed greatly to the betterment of the world. I don’t like those who try to augment their own status by tearing down those whose well earned greater status they envy. End of topic 4.

    So basically, you are independent free thinker who doesn’t need no leader, but for some reason you also cannot stand to see Lesser Authorities daring to challenge and criticize Greater Authorities? Yeah, I don’t believe you.

    So many atheists seem to abide by fig-leaf authoritarianism. They pretend to be independent lone wolfs or iconoclasts or leaders themselves, but they still flock to authority figures. Still defend their own personal hierarchy of Proper Contrarians. They aren’t so much anti-authoritarian as alternate authoritarian. Instead of worshiping and mindlessly defending far right Super Capitalist Theocrats and pat themselves on the back for being so loyal and obedient, they worship and mindlessly defend libertarian-leaning True Skeptics and pat themselves on the back for being so autonomous and self-directed. Like if a Republican was bitten by a were-hipster.

  35. consciousness razor says

    I would dare any atheist to not keep mum in that situation and tell the family the truth–there is no God, heaven, hell or afterlife.

    Why bother, and why are we playing truth or dare? Is badgering people on their deathbeds or at their funerals the only way you can conceptualize what it means to “add atheism” to your own ideology about how you live your own life?

    How would that improve care and outcome for that veteran. Of course this is an n of 1 but in all the cases of neurologic catastrophes I have encountered, I see no evidence that telling the truth would benefit.

    What improves care is all of the stuff that you already mentioned doing, without ever invoking a deity or other supernatural bullshit. You gave them medical care based on facts, on the actual truth about nature, instead of based on any old nonsense the person might believe. If they asked you to pray over their paralyzed body, would you in all sincerity just say “okay, sure, that’ll totally work” or would you try to do whatever you can based on actual science (and obviously still in the bounds of medical ethics)?

    Where are you going with these atheist movements?

    Into the future, where hopefully more people will believe things which are true, then act and persuade and vote on the basis of those beliefs. It’s as if you really can’t answer this yourself. How is it not immediately obvious, if you aren’t engaging in some kind of accommodationism or apologetics on behalf of religionists?

    I don’t see the utopia just because everyone is atheist.

    Who’s talking about utopias, other than you?

    How is knowing the truth going to matter?

    How does it not matter? If you want to do something good, you need to know what there is, what it does, how it works, etc. Likewise, if you want to do something bad, you still need to know. If you want to be effective at all, no matter what you’re doing, reality is not going to let you do anything and everything you want simply because you have a belief. Your beliefs have to coincide with reality, in order for your actions to have the results you expect. You think hurricanes occur exactly every three and half weeks, so you plan your vacations to Disneyworld accordingly? You might be very surprised how wrong you are! Or you might be dead. Who knows? To hear that it just doesn’t fucking matter, coming from a person in medicine, no less, is just really stunning.

  36. anteprepro says

    ragdish:

    I recently took care of a veteran with basilar artery thrombosis who succumbed into a locked in state. The horror of being totally paralyzed except for blinking. My team including a devout jew, muslim and a hindu. The patient and his family were devout christians. Despite our scientifically grounded efforts to reverse his condition via thrombolysis, he lapsed into a coma as his brainstem infarction progressed. Following his death, a reverend read his last rites and prayed that his soul be in union with Jesus Christ in heaven. I would dare any atheist to not keep mum in that situation and tell the family the truth–there is no God, heaven, hell or afterlife.

    Yes, because apparently that is how atheism works. We are like the non-believing version of Westboro Baptist.

    Yes, they love their sweet little lies about the afterlife. So what? Yes, the religious people can use science and don’t always let their wacky beliefs mess with it. So what? Yes, science and medicine aren’t perfect. So what?

    People sometimes act on their beliefs. Not always, not even often when it comes to religion. But sometimes. And that is the danger of religion.

    How would that improve care and outcome for that veteran. Of course this is an n of 1 but in all the cases of neurologic catastrophes I have encountered, I see no evidence that telling the truth would benefit.

    That’s great. How do you think the process of medical interventions would have been affected if it was based on religion instead of science?

    I’ve been on this and several websites eg. Skepchick, Dawkins, Novella, etc…Where are you going with these atheist movements?

    Making life less hellish for people who dare not to believe? Preventing right-wingers from making sure their religious orthodoxy gains legal clout ? Opposing odious religious dogma as it creeps into politics, such as in the abortion and gay rights debates? Making sure that the religious zealots don’t sabotage education or scientific research? I mean, I’m sure those all pointless causes. Because believers love to dream about their being a soul, or some shit.

    I don’t see the utopia just because everyone is atheist.

    Absolute fucking strawman. Ridiculously so.

    How is knowing the truth going to matter?

    Because in general: it is easier to thrive in the world when you know more that it is true, it is easier to fail if you know less, and it is almost guaranteed that something will go wrong if you “know” something that is false.

    I frankly don’t care if my patient believes that the earth is only 6 thousand years old or that the moon is made of cheese.

    Good for you. I would care if an educator or politician did. Or a parent. Because then it also might be possible that we might fuck up science for a generation. You do care about science right? You do realize how important science is right? How every little fact might lead onto something important that we might not have immediately assumed? How your entire fucking medical profession is dependent upon scientists not being so ridiculously misinformed as your hypothetical patients?

    But ultimately it is not my place to tell them the whole truth that their beliefs are wrong.

    That’s great. We aren’t saying that you should be trying deconvert medical patients. So why should we give a shit about you taking the stand of not doing so? What makes you think that this is even relevant to note? Do you think we are asserting that you should be trying to deconvert everyone, everywhere, at all points in time? Do you think we want atheists barging into abortion clinics, elementary school classrooms, bathroom stalls, and living rooms, preaching the gospel of no god? Because if you do, you are wrong. If you don’t, you have no fucking point.

  37. Amphiox says

    The root problem is authoritarian thinking. The elevation of a chosen authority to the point it cannot be questioned or criticized. Religion is merely one of the more entrenched examples that exist in the world today. To many of the “dictionary atheists” have merely replaced god with some other authority, whether it is country or family or done celebrity, like a Dawkins or a Feynman. In this they are truly “dictionary”, and are atheists only because they choose not to call the god they worship a god. But the underlying thought process is the same as any theists’.

    And the object of their worship is equally fictitious is all cases. For what they worship is not the real country or family or Dawkins or Feynman or Hitchens, bit an imaginary version they have created in their own minds, where all the real faults and failings are stripped away and ignored.

    And when their object of worship is challenged by real world facts about faults and flaws, they react with the same bitter fury that the theists do when confronted with evidence that contradicts their god. Because in both cases the same thing is happening. The imaginary object that they worship is being challenged by reality, and they don’t want to acknowledge that.

    The strategies religions use to enforce conformity, othering, silencing, public shaming, marginalization, etc, are in fact the shared strategies that all authoritarian systems employ to sustain the authority. And the “dictionary” atheists employ all of them with equal eagerness.

    Because at root they are no different. The emperor has merely swapped sets of invisible clothes.

  38. opposablethumbs says

    Topic 4: Those who feel they need a leader have the right to choose their own. I neither want nor need a leader. If I did, I wouldn’t choose one who regularly slams people who belong to minorities and/or demographics lower on the power gradient than their own. I don’t like those who try to augment their own status by tearing down those who are more vulnerable, less powerful and less influential than they are themselves, for the heinous crime of pointing out certain injustices and inequalities that they apparently don’t want pointed out for some strange reason. End of topic 4.

    fify (always assuming you actually wanted to write something defensible in the first place, jennynumbers)

  39. thewhollynone says

    at #39: well said, but then we are all humans, you know, and mammals, and social animals, and grow up regarding our mother as “the authority figure,” she who dispenses the food; and many of us never grow up past that, but merely seek substitute authority figures, or authority figures around whom all us brothers and sisters can flock so as to better work together. Most of the world’s people are not as autonomous, self-directed, independent, and rational as you and I are, and I’m not so sure about me!

  40. consciousness razor says

    at #39: well said, but then we are all humans, you know, and mammals, and social animals, and grow up regarding our mother as “the authority figure,” she who dispenses the food; and many of us never grow up past that, but merely seek substitute authority figures, or authority figures around whom all us brothers and sisters can flock so as to better work together.

    But it is interesting some psychological studies have shown even infants aren’t merely interested in “who dispenses the food.” They see other people (or puppets) cooperating with somebody else or not, being helpful or not, basically being good or bad. It apparently doesn’t matter to the infant whether they personally are the ones being helped out: they still like the helpful people more than the unhelpful ones (again, even a puppet, which they mistakenly count as an agent, but which are otherwise unlike humans in lots of arbitrary ways). That’s part of what being “social” means, not just following along with what authorities say, or acting out of self-interest or being Machiavellian or what-have-you. I think that story that we tell ourselves, about how fundamentally flawed we are “naturally,” does have some effect on how people behave. But we often get that wrong, or at least wildly exaggerate it to make some kind of a point, so that’s not human nature so much as yet another cultural force that distorts whatever it means to be human.

  41. thewhollynone says

    I have often wondered if those psych experiments were carried out with well-fed or with hungry infants.

  42. says

    …this does not mean atheism needs dogma
    versus.
    Well, good for you, you’re nominally atheist, we’re all done, come back and talk to me when you’ve grown up a little.
    ==============

    Contradiction.

    Look, if you want to have “responsible atheism” then give it a different name. What’s so hard about that? There’s humanism, secularism, anti-theism, all these other labels.

    Stop trying to co-opt the word “atheism” and then get mad when people resist that! Make a new word, a new movement. Stop trying to make it sound like “to be a GOOD atheist” which is the equivalent of a moral judgment on atheism.

    Really? That’s how

  43. says

    …this does not mean atheism needs dogma
    versus.
    Well, good for you, you’re nominally atheist, we’re all done, come back and talk to me when you’ve grown up a little.
    ==============

    Contradiction.

    Look, if you want to have “responsible atheism” then give it a different name. What’s so hard about that? There’s humanism, secularism, anti-theism, all these other labels.

    Stop trying to co-opt the word “atheism” and then get mad when people resist that! Make a new word, a new movement. Stop trying to make it sound like “to be a GOOD atheist” which is the equivalent of a moral judgment on atheism.

    Really? That’s how

  44. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Stop trying to co-opt the word “atheism” and then get mad when people resist that! Make a new word, a new movement. Stop trying to make it sound like “to be a GOOD atheist” which is the equivalent of a moral judgment on atheism.

    How about YOU making the name change. Irresponsible atheism or asshole atheism come to mind…..

  45. anteprepro says

    Roy Jones:

    Contradiction.

    Not unless you buy into a false dichotomy where either atheism has a specific doctrine that all atheists must abide by OR atheism has absolutely no implications on your worldview whatsoever. I think it is pretty damn clear that the truth is somewhere in between those two premises.

    Stop trying to co-opt the word “atheism” and then get mad when people resist that!

    Cry more. So many fucking atheists whining about the implication that there might be more to atheism (and more important, to atheists as a group) than just non-belief in one single idea. The term “Serious Business” comes to mind.

  46. consciousness razor says

    I have often wondered if those psych experiments were carried out with well-fed or with hungry infants.

    Well, they didn’t involve anyone in the experiment being fed or something like that. It’s kind of an odd idea, and I’d like to know what you’d expect to see either way. They would prefer cooperative people more if they were hungry, maybe?

    Look, if you want to have “responsible atheism” then give it a different name. What’s so hard about that? There’s humanism, secularism, anti-theism, all these other labels.

    No one has any intention of simply renaming stuff. That’s just a stupid idea. The hard part comes with the obtuse dumbasses who prefer not to read anything people are saying except for their own pointless dribble.

  47. consciousness razor says

    Good idea. How does “atheism plus” sound?

    But “responsible atheism” is different from “atheism” too. By my count, it’s eleven whole letters and space, which is way more than four letters and space (or most shocking of all, just a “+”). That means it’s better.

  48. chrisdevries says

    @44

    To be clear, someone who embraces authoritarianism as a lifestyle is q

  49. says

    Roy Jones:

    Contradiction.

    Look, if you want to have “responsible atheism” then give it a different name.

    No. There’s no reason to not add a little ‘+’ the end of ‘Atheism’ and get something new. Think of it as a compound word.

    What’s so hard about that? There’s humanism, secularism, anti-theism, all these other labels.

    What’s so hard about you continuing to use ‘atheism’ just as you always have? Has ‘Atheism+’ somehow changed the definition in your head? Did it lead to a mindwipe? Is that what you’re worried about?

    Stop trying to co-opt the word “atheism” and then get mad when people resist that! Make a new word, a new movement. Stop trying to make it sound like “to be a GOOD atheist” which is the equivalent of a moral judgment on atheism.

    Really? That’s how

    I don’t understand why people are resisting it. If you don’t want to be part of A+, then don’t be part of it. If you just want to be a fucking ‘atheist’, then just stay one. No one is telling you that you have to jump on-board Atheism+. You can still remain just an atheist. Don’t worry, the word ‘atheism’ won’t magically transform in all the dictionaries across the planet. People will still know that when you say ‘atheism’ that you’re talking about ‘not believing in gods’. People will NOT automatically think you’re talking about Atheism+, because, you know–they’re two different things. You can still keep the purity of atheism (for all that’s fucking worth) and you never need worry about those who affiliate themselves with Atheism+.
    See how easy that is?

    ****

    Fuck, and *these* are the fuckers telling us that we’re making a mountain out of a molehill when we talk about sexual harassment. They’re whining about something that’s literally a non-issue. It’s a fucking WORD. With a plus sign that’s added So that makes it not the same thing. But it doesn’t mean the original word, with its original meaning, disappears into the ether. FFS!

  50. Mark says

    The problem with hardcore atheism as I see it is that it comes with a lot of philosophical baggage that many people reject — with good reason. Despite what atheists believe, they have not stumbled onto “the truth”, nor have they provided sufficient evidence to support their claims. This is one reason many people prefer the agnostic option over atheism as a way to avoid religion. They just aren’t comfortable with the “there is no god. Period. We are machines.” dogma of Atheists.

  51. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    The problem with hardcore atheism as I see it is that it comes with a lot of philosophical baggage that many people reject — with good reason. Despite what atheists believe, they have not stumbled onto “the truth”, nor have they provided sufficient evidence to support their claims. This is one reason many people prefer the agnostic option over atheism as a way to avoid religion. They just aren’t comfortable with the “there is no god. Period. We are machines.” dogma of Atheists.

    With this wishy-washy bullshit, my question is “what the fuck is your problem?”. I don’t you doing anything other that complaining……

  52. chrisdevries says

    crap, premature replying.

    Someone who embraces authoritarianism as a lifestyle is quite different from someone who acknowledges that they respect certain thinkers/philosophers/scientists and agree with the majority of their ideas. One has to take it much further, to begin to believe that those experts’ ideas are beyond question, so that the authorities begin to take the place of one’s own rational impulses.

    And as far as us people who are apparently co-opting the movement, as it were, there is evidence that atheists who are pro-social justice far outnumber atheists who don’t give a shit. I agree that we should unite under something like secular humanism (or maybe godless naturalistic secular humanism…then our acronym could be GNASH) so that we don’t have to have this freaking argument a bazillion times a year, but for now we can say here that atheism should not be an ending but a beginning of a philosophical journey, and have rational debates on how we should behave differently as a result of our non-belief.

  53. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I’ve always seen the agnostic position as somebody who is afraid to take the last step, and say “There is no evidence for any deities”, because they get tied up with the concept that deities can’t be disproved. Actually, every time one is given sufficient definition to be falsified, it is falsified. The real difference is that atheists are brave enough to say “absence of evidence for 2500 years is evidence of absence”. Agnostics just can’t picture a clear solution to their problem….

  54. chigau (違う) says

    Mark #56
    Where are you getting your information about atheism and agnosticism?

  55. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    Nerd’s right, Mark,

    This is one reason many people prefer the agnostic option over atheism as a way to avoid religion.

    is some non-definitive wishy-washy shit that may be true but is useless because it remains a reasonable conjecture. That doesn’t mean that such a conjecture is true, though. If it’s ‘many people’, can you provide a small sample what you used to determine that to be the case? Should be easy to find. “Self-evident” is not cutting it here.

    Despite what atheists believe, they have not stumbled onto “the truth”, nor have they provided sufficient evidence to support their claims.

    Familiar with null-hypothesis? That discussion has been done to death here. There is no evidence necessary to negate a claim that is positive without evidence.

  56. anteprepro says

    Mark

    The problem with hardcore atheism as I see it is that it comes with a lot of philosophical baggage that many people reject — with good reason.

    Such as? Care to elaborate on your mealy-mouthed innuendo?

    My guess: religious apologetics are afoot.

    Despite what atheists believe, they have not stumbled onto “the truth”, nor have they provided sufficient evidence to support their claims.

    Projection. Atheists don’t claim to have “the truth”. They claim that theists don’t have “the truth” and don’t have sufficient evidence for their claims. And that atheism is the logically necessary tentative position to hold until that changes.

    This is one reason many people prefer the agnostic option over atheism as a way to avoid religion.

    Sheer idiocy. Agnosticism isn’t a middle ground between atheism and theism. It is the opposite of absolute confidence. There are agnostic atheists and agnostic theists. Learn.

    They just aren’t comfortable with the “there is no god. Period. We are machines.” dogma of Atheists.

    Yeah, that’s a good reason to keep God on the table: because it is uncomfortable to believe that human life isn’t magic.

    Way to keep theism alive, Marky Mark.

  57. says

    Mark #56

    Despite what atheists believe, they have not stumbled onto “the truth”, nor have they provided sufficient evidence to support their claims.

    Huh? What claims? I merely disbelieve the claims that I’ve been presented with regarding the existence of a god. If evidence is to be presented, it needs to be presented by the people making the claims for that existence.

    This is scepticism 101 for pete’s sake.

  58. consciousness razor says

    It’s true. Many People™ prefer the “I have no fucking clue … that there is no god. Period. We are machines” dogma of agnostics. They’re just sorta kinda more comfortable with that, which is an excellent reason.

  59. Al Dente says

    My understanding is that agnosticism is about knowledge and atheism is about belief. I don’t know if gods exist or not, which means I’m agnostic about gods. I believe there is no actual evidence for gods, so I’m an atheist.

  60. consciousness razor says

    My understanding is that agnosticism is about knowledge and atheism is about belief.

    That’s really just confusing. One is epistemic and the other is ontological/metaphysical. You can talk about what kinds of knowledge you have, including how you come up with various standards or different processes of knowing stuff or believing it or whatever. However, you can also talk about what exists, which is not talking about you (generally, unless the subject is seriously whether you exist, and it isn’t) or your methods for finding out about the things that exist. Agnostics stuck in epistemic-mode pretend as if they just don’t even touch existence question. But that’s not a real position that anyone can take in practice. This one here apparently believes souls exist, or I don’t know what else the machine-talk would be about. So they have staked a claim; they just don’t want to admit it, perhaps even to themselves. (Why it’s supposedly something to avoid in the first place, I don’t know. Just plain confusion, probably.) The idea that anything other than obscurantist waffling is “dogmatic” seems mostly to be about keeping up that illusion for themselves.

  61. says

    Mark:

    The problem with hardcore atheism as I see it is that it comes with a lot of philosophical baggage that many people reject — with good reason.

    “As you see it”?
    Where have you been looking?

  62. says

    Crap, hit reply too soon.

    Despite what atheists believe, they have not stumbled onto “the truth”, nor have they provided sufficient evidence to support their claims. This is one reason many people prefer the agnostic option over atheism as a way to avoid religion. They just aren’t comfortable with the “there is no god. Period. We are machines.” dogma of Atheists.

    I don’t know any atheist that believes this.
    Every atheist that I know of-and who’s reasoning I am aware of-feels that there is insufficient evidence to support the existence of any deity, so they don’t believe one exists. It’s about the evidence. There is no evidence. Without evidence, there is no reason to say “well it’s possible god exists, and it’s possible god doesn’t exist”. That doesn’t tell us anything about reality, nor does it tell anything about someone’s beliefs.
    “I don’t believe in god because there is no evidence” is a statement both about reality and one’s beliefs. It is useful (to a point, hence the need to add social justice).

    Do you go around telling Afairyists that the problem with them is they go around asserting that there are NO fairies. Period”?
    There’s insufficient evidence to believe in the existence of fairies, and the same holds true of dragons, demons, humans living with dinosaurs, Comet the Super Horse, and any flavor of divinity. The agnostic position is trying the straddle an imaginary line between theism and atheism by saying “we don’t know either way”. It’s a wishy washy form of wishful thinking that doesn’t engage facts and evidence, though it makes claims to.
    The vast majority of atheists I know would believe in a god if there were sufficient evidence. Even the most hardcore of atheists. I would too.

  63. says

    Nerd @59:

    I’ve always seen the agnostic position as somebody who is afraid to take the last step, and say “There is no evidence for any deities”, because they get tied up with the concept that deities can’t be disproved. Actually, every time one is given sufficient definition to be falsified, it is falsified. The real difference is that atheists are brave enough to say “absence of evidence for 2500 years is evidence of absence”. Agnostics just can’t picture a clear solution to their problem….

    Yes. This. Exactly.

  64. Al Dente says

    consciousness razor @66

    That’s really just confusing.

    I’m not confused in the least. The only thing that confuses me is you being confused between knowledge and belief. So let me try again.

    I don’t know if gods exist or not. Popper says it’s almost impossible to prove a negative so there is a chance, however unlikely, that gods do exist. Since lack of knowledge = agnosticism then I’m an agnostic.

    I see no evidence for gods. Gods might exist, in the same way that every proton in the universe could decay in the next ten minutes. It’s sorta-kinda theoretically possible that a proton can decay into a pion and a positron and it’s possible that decay could happen simultaneous in ten minutes. But neither you nor I are expecting this event to happen. Likewise it’s within the realm of possibility that gods exist. I consider the likelihood of either simultaneous proton decay or gods existing to be roughly equal. Therefore I’m an atheist.

  65. consciousness razor says

    I’m not confused in the least. The only thing that confuses me is you being confused between knowledge and belief. So let me try again.

    I’m not. Do you get the distinction between “do I know?” and “does this exist?” Yeah, I think you almost certainly do get it, because it’s as plain as day. And that is exactly what the distinction is between agnosticism and atheism (or agnosticism about anything and that thing itself). Ever since it was coined, it has not, as you claim, been a distinction between belief and knowledge. You don’t even mention the word “belief” after this, so what exactly do you think you’re arguing about anyway? Proving negatives and what’s impossible and so forth are also just side-issues at best, when it come to defining knowledge, so you’re not doing much of that either. If you don’t think that’s a description of your previous comment, then I’d be really amazed to see you reinterpret it so I can make some sense out of it.

  66. Al Dente says

    Do you get the distinction between “do I know?” and “does this exist?”

    Why are you asking this question? I thought I was emphasizing the distinction. Perhaps I’m being too subtle. Let me put it is simple terms. I don’t know if gods exist, so I’m agnostic. I don’t believe gods exist so I’m an atheist.

    Ever since it was coined, it has not, as you claim, been a distinction between belief and knowledge.

    You’re wrong about this. Greta Christina’s essay “Atheist or Agnostic” gives that distinction:

    The more I thought about it, the more I realized that, while in the strictest technical sense of the word I’m an agnostic (I’m not 100% certain that there is no God), in any real practical sense I’m an atheist. I don’t think the existence of God is impossible, but I think it’s very, very improbable — improbable enough for me to rule it out as a hypothesis.

    Atheism is about what I believe, agnosticism is about what I know. Both of these definitions are not new with me but have been used for decades. For some strange reason many people have the mistaken impression that agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive. But why? There’s nothing about “I don’t know” which excludes “I don’t believe.” On the contrary, not only are they compatible but they frequently appear together because not knowing is frequently a reason for not believing. Many people do not accept some proposition is true unless there is enough evidence which would qualify as knowledge. I don’t see evidence for gods but I admit there is a possibility that gods actually exist. I don’t know but I think the likelihood is so small that I don’t believe.

  67. Mark says

    “Where are you getting your information about atheism and agnosticism?”

    Oh, here, there, all over the place. I may have stumbled in my distinction between atheism and agnosticism, although probably not. So what if I did? You guys throw around a lot of “isms” and seem to get all riled up with semantics in trying to define absolutes. That is a throwback to our western cultural origins in Christianity: “This thing exists in God’s real world and behaves according to this rule created by God”, is how western Christian science first developed, and was practised by the Clergy. You guys just take the same approach to the world and delete out the God part, but keep the underlying “real world” part, substituting in the natural laws to take God’s place. Great lengths are taken to try to define everything down to the T, which causes a lot of strife as evidenced by the intensity exhibited by many pure atheists here.

    “Familiar with null-hypothesis?”

    Are you referring to the handle I used to post here under a few years ago, or are you actually referring to the null hypothesis in the scientific method? If the latter, then yes I am! In fact, the null hypothesis is the underlying approach I take to the world! It says: “You are trying to convince me that this object that you identified “out there” behaves according to this set of rules? Then PROVIDE EVIDENCE, or else I’ll revert back to the H0 which states that there is no relationship (or the relationship must be revised) between the observed objects and the postulated story that is supposed to describe their behaviour”.

    In this respect, I agree with the criticism of religion that people make here, but I’m really astonished at how the atheists can engage in the same kind of blind faith since there is really very little if any scientific evidence from the “real world” supporting their alternative explanation for life.

    Seriously, if you want me to believe that life originates via random genetic mutation then you are going to have to provide at least some evidence from the world of genetics to support that. I spent quite a bit of time looking and found none (maybe someone here will surprise me and provide it — I’m always looking). There are only several million possible examples out there in the world of biology to choose from…

    Therefore, in the absence of evidence which supports the assertion made by atheists that life evolves based on random events in accordance with the natural laws, since this is I believe the core of their belief system (it goes hand in hand with a rejection of the existence of God), then I must reject H1 and revert to H0, which says that we do not know how new genetic traits emerge since we have no scientific hypothesis which can explain it using the known laws of nature that is consistent with the evidence available.

    Many people invoke God to fill the void, but I don’t since I am sceptical by nature.

  68. anteprepro says

    Mark sez:

    That is a throwback to our western cultural origins in Christianity: “This thing exists in God’s real world and behaves according to this rule created by God”, is how western Christian science first developed, and was practised by the Clergy.

    That’s great. Science matured over time. Now it doesn’t simply magical entities exist. Just because many early scientists were Christians means jackshit. You don’t get to lick science and say “mine”. Especially not when actual scientific facts don’t support your religion at all.

    You guys just take the same approach to the world and delete out the God part, but keep the underlying “real world” part, substituting in the natural laws to take God’s place.

    And? We removed one unnecessary assumption. Is that something you are going to whine about or does it somehow invalidate all of science?

    In fact, the null hypothesis is the underlying approach I take to the world! It says: “You are trying to convince me that this object that you identified “out there” behaves according to this set of rules? Then PROVIDE EVIDENCE, or else I’ll revert back to the H0 which states that there is no relationship (or the relationship must be revised) between the observed objects and the postulated story that is supposed to describe their behaviour”.

    By god, a smug apologist for God belief actually got it right! There has to be a fuck up coming soon. I can feel it in my bones.

    I’m really astonished at how the atheists can engage in the same kind of blind faith since there is really very little if any scientific evidence from the “real world” supporting their alternative explanation for life.

    lolwut? What is our alternative explanation for life?

    Seriously, if you want me to believe that life originates via random genetic mutation then you are going to have to provide at least some evidence from the world of genetics to support that.

    Oh my fucking god. He understands the null hypothesis and the philosophy, but has creationist-esque incredulity towards the basics of fucking evolution. It’s like fucking clockwork.

    You might want to refine your question: Do you mean that you cannot understand how new species can arise from new species due to random genetic mutation, do you mean you cannot understand how the very first forms were created due to random genetic mutation, do you mean you cannot understand how new features in general arise due to random genetic mutation, do you mean you cannot understand how random genetic mutations can accumulate, do you mean you cannot understand how random genetic mutations might create seemingly non-random outcomes, or some combination of the above?

    Therefore, in the absence of evidence which supports the assertion made by atheists that life evolves based on random events in accordance with the natural laws, since this is I believe the core of their belief system (it goes hand in hand with a rejection of the existence of God),

    Idiotic. That is not “the core of their belief system”. That is SCIENCE. It should be the core of ANYONE’s “belief system” if they give two shits about facts. If they don’t, they invite themselves to be laughed at for letting superstition trump scientific knowledge.

    Many people invoke God to fill the void, but I don’t since I am sceptical by nature

    Assertion contradicted by everything you have said so far.

  69. chigau (違う) says

    Mark #73
    I’m not surprised that you didn’t find evidence for “life originates via random genetic mutation”.

  70. says

    Mark:
    First off, please learn to blockquote, or at least use people’s nyms and comment numbers so we know who you’re responding to. Contrary to the belief of some, we aren’t sockpuppets of PZ.

    Oh, here, there, all over the place. I may have stumbled in my distinction between atheism and agnosticism, although probably not.

    You did.

    So what if I did?

    Because it matters. Your whole idea of what atheists believe is based on false information. It’s a foundation of misinformation at the least (lies at worst). If you’re going to come in here and accuse us of anything, have your facts straight and present your best arguments. You haven’t either.

    You guys throw around a lot of “isms” and seem to get all riled up with semantics in trying to define absolutes.

    Words mean things. ‘Atheism’ and ‘agnosticism’ don’t mean the same thing. They are not interchangeable words. The former is a lack of a belief in a higher power (its the same idea as saying “I lack a belief in invisible unicorns”). The latter is simply wishy washy bullshit about how “we can’t know one way or another” (its the same as saying “we don’t know if invisible unicorns do exist or not, but we’ll keep our minds open to the possibility that they exist”–which doesn’t make sense, unless you really, really want to be convinced that invisible unicorns exist). They are *not* the same thing. Also, what the hell are you talking about with “absolutes”?

    You guys just take the same approach to the world and delete out the God part, but keep the underlying “real world” part, substituting in the natural laws to take God’s place. Great lengths are taken to try to define everything down to the T, which causes a lot of strife as evidenced by the intensity exhibited by many pure atheists here.

    You must be getting your information from the atheists version of the National Enquirer, bc you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.
    The approach I take (and others here) is that there is insufficient evidence to believe in a god, so there’s no reason to believe in a god. There’s not even any tentative evidence to say “well maybe, possibly, there could be a god”, so there’s no reason to hold out on the possibility. The approach we take is one that looks at the available evidence. The available evidence doesn’t point to any deity. It doesn’t point to the possibility of any deity. That doesn’t mean we *know* there is no god, bc DUH, we don’t know everything. It just means that at this point in time, there is no evidence to support the assertion that god exists.

    FFS you’re worse than a dictionary atheist. At least they know what atheism means.

  71. anteprepro says

    Oh yeah Mark, we are in the other thread waiting for you to inform us all about why such a Skeptical Person as yourself decides to randomly spurt out something about a conspiracy of Jewish Bankers. Please, elaborate. Since elaboration on your points has worked out so well for you this far!

  72. says

    Mark:

    Seriously, if you want me to believe that life originates via random genetic mutation then you are going to have to provide at least some evidence from the world of genetics to support that.

    Why do you think anyone here believes this? You wouldn’t happen to have any preconceived notions about what atheists do or don’t believe do you? You wouldn’t happen to be listening to people who don’t know what the fuck they’re talking about and then parroting here would you? Do you have any beliefs that are informed by doing the research on your own?

  73. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Seriously, if you want me to believe that life originates via random genetic mutation then you are going to have to provide at least some evidence from the world of genetics to support that.

    Given the correlation between the genomes, it should be a slam-dunk. For RM-MS, Lenski 1, Lenski 2, Schneider. But then, anybody ignoring the million or so scientific papers supporting evolution, and Zero supporting an imaginary designer, the evidence is in.
    But then, you sound like your mind is made up, and an intelligent designer exists. Then you should have no trouble providing conclusive physical evidence for it, evidence that would pass muster with scientists, magicians, and professional debunkers as being of divine, and not natural (scientifically explained), origin.
    No faith, show me the evidence….

  74. consciousness razor says

    Al Dente:

    Let me put it this way, since my previous comment was basically just relying on a historical reading of what Huxley meant (and how people later interpreted it in various ways) and it doesn’t make the argument very easy to follow. Christina says something else, or Popper says something even different from that, and it just becomes a mess.

    A lot of philosophers would say that knowledge is basically (with some odd exceptions) “justified true belief.” That is, there is a distinction be made between belief and knowledge, and that is more or less what knowledge is. If it’s not justified and true, it’s only a belief that you have. Do you need to be totally 100% certain that you can rule something out as impossible in order to say you’re justified in believing gods aren’t real? No, you actually don’t need anything like that. Does knowledge need to be “absolute” just to be knowledge? No. That’s a standard for knowledge that creationists and wafflers and assorted other ignorant bullshitting cranks use in their arguments, which ought to be addressed with counter-arguments certainly, but which no one with any sense should take seriously as a way of framing their own position in rational terms. And it’s one which is not consistent with the ordinary meaning of the word as non-cranks use it every day of their lives, for everything but their most sacred cows that they’re too afraid to even imagine giving up.

    Also, being knowledge doesn’t make it some qualitatively different kind of thing than a belief: it’s a particular type of belief, which happens when certain conditions are met, as I already said. It’s what you think, or it’s the sort of thing you think. Saying “I think/believe there’s a planet Jupiter” does not imply that I think I know that there’s a planet Jupiter, but it’s not a leap into some totally new territory either. And if I tell you reasons why I think that, which are convincing enough, it’s going to amount to the same thing as knowledge even if I don’t literally use that word.

    So you say that on the one hand you’re an agnostic (in the sense that you don’t have this silly form of absolutist knowledge). I think that’s true, but that it’s irrelevant to any interesting question I’d have about what methods you’re using to get wherever you’re ending up on the issue. But if knowledge consistently means something more reasonable like “justified true belief,” all you could be saying is that your belief is both justified/true and that it’s not justified/true, which is literally impossible, so that can’t be right. It’s one of the few things you just can’t really mean if you’re thinking clearly about this, so that’s why I figure it’s more charitable to think you have the not-as-obviously inconsistent “absolutist” version of knowledge in mind.

  75. anteprepro says

    MARK, A THREE ACT PLAY:

    I:
    “Atheists are so stupid, they should just be agnostics hurr hurr”
    *car screeches away*
    *curtain falls*

    II:
    “Oh, what is this? There is overlap between the two? So what, don’t mean nothing, I’m still right. Also, Christians totally own science. Also also, evolution is atheist doctrine. Also also also, I am totally a skeptic you guys!”
    *stage fills with smug*
    *curtain falls*

    III:
    “JEWISH BANKERS CONTROL EVERYTHING OMFG!!!”
    *Mark is then silenced by the Illuminati and ‘dem filthy Mooslems*
    *curtain falls*
    *roar of applause*

  76. Mark says

    “What is our alternative explanation for life?”

    That new traits emerge at the genetic level via random mutation which are then acted upon by natural selection — correct?

    “That is not “the core of their belief system”. That is SCIENCE.”

    Really? Is that truly what the scientific approach is all about? Are you so certain that the scientific method really requires the existence of a “real world” solely governed by natural laws?

    “Do you mean that you cannot understand how new species can arise from new species due to random genetic mutation, do you mean you cannot understand how the very first forms were created due to random genetic mutation, do you mean you cannot understand how new features in general arise due to random genetic mutation, do you mean you cannot understand how random genetic mutations can accumulate, do you mean you cannot understand how random genetic mutations might create seemingly non-random outcomes, or some combination of the above?”

    Yes yes yes, I learned all about that in school. Then I moved beyond textbooks and looked to the “real world” for examples to support those stories and couldn’t find a single one that went any deeper than the simplistic population pq allele mathematics, which says nada about what is happening at the biomolecular level.

  77. says

    anteprepro:

    Mark is then silenced by the Illuminati and ‘dem filthy Mooslems

    I thought PZ was the one in charge of silencing around here. All those #braveheroes seem to think that’s the case and we know they’re always right bc reasons.

  78. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Is that truly what the scientific approach is all about? Are you so certain that the scientific method really requires the existence of a “real world” solely governed by natural laws?

    Then show conclusive physical evidence for the stupornatural. Or shut the fuck up about it. That is science, show your evidence, or don’t make claims.

  79. anteprepro says

    Really? Is that truly what the scientific approach is all about? Are you so certain that the scientific method really requires the existence of a “real world” solely governed by natural laws?

    Look up “methodological naturalism”, you disingenuous fuck.

    Then I moved beyond textbooks and looked to the “real world” for examples to support those stories and couldn’t find a single one that went any deeper than the simplistic population pq allele mathematics, which says nada about what is happening at the biomolecular level.

    You moved past textbooks? Well I guess not beyond college level textbooks, because college level textbooks have citations to this shit. So you couldn’t be pleading ignorance.

    But that’s all very nice that you can’t clarify what your actual question is. Instead it looks like you are just a fuckwit with the same level of understanding of evolution as your typical creationist. Just ignorance and incredulity all the way down.

  80. thewhollynone says

    Children, children, please! Stop fighting and come in to dinner. Wash your hands first.

  81. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Then I moved beyond textbooks and looked to the “real world” for examples to support those stories and couldn’t find a single one that went any deeper than the simplistic population pq allele mathematics, which says nada about what is happening at the biomolecular level.

    Sounds to me like you don’t want the answers that require real work to understand. You want simple “revealed knowledge” that doesn’t make you think and study.
    Evolution has a million or so scientific papers that support it, directly and indirectly. It includes physics, chemisty, biochemistry, genomics, genetics, and whole host of interlocking evidence that has not be scientifically refuted. It exists. You can’t wave it away. Many creobots try, but it is still there, and stands unrefuted….

  82. consciousness razor says

    MARK, A THREE ACT PLAY:

    I’m not usually one for surrealist performance art, but I have to say, in this case I was entertained the whole time.

  83. anteprepro says

    Let’s see if we can answer Mark’s dumbass question anyway:

    First off, acknowledge that evolution also involves genetic drift and variation of genes already in the gene pool: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_16

    If it is about “genetic mutations” leading to the first life: Not Even Wrong. Rephrase.
    If it is about “genetic mutations” leading to new features: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/microexamples_01
    If it is about “genetic mutations” leading to new species:
    http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_45
    (See also: http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/evo_43)

    Your ignorance and incredulity only proves that you are not to be taken seriously, Mark. You are unaware of things that could be easily obtained from a site that is catered towards fucking teens, you ignoramus.

  84. Mark says

    “Then show conclusive physical evidence for the stupornatural.”

    I don’t have conclusive evidence for the stupornatural, and I never said I did. I am pointing out that the prevailing belief held by the TYPICAL atheist that life originates via random blah blah blah as summarized in anteprepro’s earlier comment has no evidence to support it.

    As I said, I am sceptical by nature and I am pointing out the unjustified dogma that atheists are exhibiting.

    “Well I guess not beyond college level textbooks, because college level textbooks have citations to this shit.”

    I guess I could search some more, but since I am on an atheist website, maybe someone here could provide some evidence to support the hypothesis that new traits emerge from random mutations. That would probably be easier, as I’m packing right now and don’t have a lot of time to play, and I’m sure you all have multiple examples right at your fingertips, right?

    You seem to be getting very angry, what is it about what I’m saying that causes such internal turmoil?

  85. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am pointing out that the prevailing belief held by the TYPICAL atheist that life originates via random blah blah blah as summarized in anteprepro’s earlier comment has no evidence to support it.

    And you present nothing to refute the present knowledge. Just your mental maturbations, which is meaningless to science, and the scientific method, and the working scientists.

    As I said, I am sceptical by nature and I am pointing out the unjustified dogma that atheists are exhibiting.

    And I am hyperskeptical about your hyperskepticism, and sense an agenda behind it. And agenda without evidence, without rationality, and without true skepticism of your own beliefs….

  86. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Gee, searching for “New traits via random mutation” leads to 750,000 google hits. DUH.
    Now, what is your real agenda…..

  87. consciousness razor says

    Really? Is that truly what the scientific approach is all about? Are you so certain that the scientific method really requires the existence of a “real world” solely governed by natural laws?

    No, I think there’s not one scientific method, and that they simply require being done correctly and reliably, which you know exactly nothing about. If reality is not governed by natural laws, the natural world at least does something or other, does it not? Why wouldn’t we try to figure out what it is doing, whatever that may be, however we might do it? If supernatural laws have some effect on reality (or if any other possibility is the case, like there being no regular patterns in nature whatsoever, so that there are no lawlike generalizations anyone could make), then there would be an effect in the natural world that we would see and be able to study. Or else we wouldn’t exist, because the total absence of regular patterns in nature would make stuff like us impossible.

    And if there’s no such thing as a real world, I’m on the edge of my seat waiting to find out what you think there is. Does anything exist? Or are you just a very stupid troll?

  88. Mark says

    OK I looked, and those examples you provided are at the grade 9 level and they show nothing of what happens at the level of biomechanics. I am specifically asking for evidence and examples explaining the biomolecular pathways through which the genetic code is modified by the actions of known mutations, at known mutation rates, which results in the creation of new genetic material encoding for a new functional trait that can be expressed phenotypically at the population scale, and then be acted upon by natural selection. It’s not an unreasonable request!

    I must go now but I’ll check back tomorrow!

  89. anteprepro says

    Mark

    . I am pointing out that the prevailing belief held by the TYPICAL atheist that life originates via random blah blah blah as summarized in anteprepro’s earlier comment has no evidence to support it.

    What a winner. I ask him to clarify his question and he just decides to act smug and make it even vaguer.

    I guess I could search some more, but since I am on an atheist website, maybe someone here could provide some evidence to support the hypothesis that new traits emerge from random mutations. That would probably be easier, as I’m packing right now and don’t have a lot of time to play, and I’m sure you all have multiple examples right at your fingertips, right?

    Why do you even bring this shit up if you know you that you don’t know about it? What the fuck do you possibly hope to accomplish? Are you just trying to troll us into doing a fucking homework assignment for you?

  90. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am specifically asking for evidence and examples explaining the biomolecular pathways through which the genetic code is modified by the actions of known mutations, at known mutation rates, which results in the creation of new genetic material encoding for a new functional trait that can be expressed phenotypically at the population scale, and then be acted upon by natural selection. It’s not an unreasonable request!

    And that is exactly what you received fuckwitted idjit. E-coli were grown in a medium with citrate, and barely enough glucose to keep them alive. After 20,000 generations, a couple of neutral mutations occured, and they know where and when. Sometime after 30,000 generations, a third mutation occurred, which allowed the e-coli to uptake citrate, and live well on the medium. Something they couldn’t do at the start of the experiment. And only one of the various cell-lines developed those mutations. Why is this not sufficient? Or, are you to dumb to understand real evidence?

  91. anteprepro says

    Mark:

    OK I looked, and those examples you provided are at the grade 9 level and they show nothing of what happens at the level of biomechanics.

    I said it was geared towards teens, you fucking illiterate. Because that is clearly your level. Because you clearly don’t even know

    I am specifically asking for evidence and examples explaining the biomolecular pathways through which the genetic code is modified by the actions of known mutations, at known mutation rates, which results in the creation of new genetic material encoding for a new functional trait that can be expressed phenotypically at the population scale, and then be acted upon by natural selection.

    That’s great. NOW you are asking for that. NOW you have an actual coherent question. Congratufuckinglations. Nerd already linked to answers to that shit in comment 80.

    You are a failure, Mark.

    And I hope when you come crawling back, you can finally explain your Jewish Bankers remark. We all look forward to it.

  92. Mark says

    “Gee, searching for “New traits via random mutation” leads to 750,000 google hits.”

    Yes I could, and I did, but the onus is on the atheists to provide the evidence, not for me to go search it out. I spent quite a bit of time a few years ago doing that, and found nothing, which is why I rejected conventional atheism and moved on to new ways of thinking and looking at the world.

    No, I have no agenda as is being suggested. Only world harmony and peace, and appreciation of the natural world. Just a simple request I make: provide evidence to support your hypothesis. You expect it of religious folk, but mysteriously you seem to provide none supporting your own beliefs.

  93. anteprepro says

    Mark

    Yes I could, and I did, but the onus is on the atheists to provide the evidence, not for me to go search it out.

    You are one hilariously lazy fuckwit. A fucking clown. No, the onus is not on us to find basic fucking information for you. We are not here to be your personal Google slaves. And no, the onus is not on atheists to PROVE SCIENTIFIC FACTS. Go fuck yourself.

  94. Mark says

    “And I hope when you come crawling back, you can finally explain your Jewish Bankers remark. ”

    Well this is getting off topic so I won’t delve into it too much. But learn about the history of money. It’s a great secret, which is why no one understands money, for good reason. Wall Street is run by Jewish bankers. That is a fact. I am not racist, and I will not allow myself to be labelled an anti-Semite any more than you atheists believe you are anti-Christian. I am simply stating a fact that should concern you lot, since you seem to be concerned about religion taking over the upper echelons of our so-called “democracies”, and I would wholeheartedly agree with you. The government is in debt up to its eyeballs. It is in debt to some foreign countries, but mostly to the Federal Reserve, which is a private bank owned primarily by Jewish families of British descent (the Rothschilds). Therefore, our governments do no have sovereignty, since they are owned and controlled by private banks.

  95. Mark says

    “You are one hilariously lazy fuckwit. A fucking clown. No, the onus is not on us to find basic fucking information for you. We are not here to be your personal Google slaves. ”

    As I said before, I spent months looking for it in previous years and grew tired of finding nothing. Surprise me.

  96. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    spent quite a bit of time a few years ago doing that, and found nothing, which is why I rejected conventional atheism and moved on to new ways of thinking and looking at the world.

    Who gives a shit about your self-delusion. I don’t.

    As I said before, I spent months looking for it in previous years and grew tired of finding nothing. Surprise me.

    Which means you are too stupid to find your own information, and I’m not going to play your games.
    At this point, you have absolutely zero credibility. Anything not accompanied by a citation to back up your claim is ignored. So, your choices are to put up, or shut up.

  97. consciousness razor says

    As I said before, I spent months looking for it in previous years and grew tired of finding nothing. Surprise me.

    Is it surprising to you that hundreds of thousands of Google hits are not nothing, and that this information didn’t just appear out of the void when the internet popped into existence?

    Is that sort of like there not being a real world, which also happens to contain things like Jewish bankers?

  98. Snoof says

    Mark @ 73

    Are you referring to the handle I used to post here under a few years ago, or are you actually referring to the null hypothesis in the scientific method? If the latter, then yes I am! In fact, the null hypothesis is the underlying approach I take to the world! It says: “You are trying to convince me that this object that you identified “out there” behaves according to this set of rules? Then PROVIDE EVIDENCE, or else I’ll revert back to the H0 which states that there is no relationship (or the relationship must be revised) between the observed objects and the postulated story that is supposed to describe their behaviour”.

    Out of interest, do you apply this same level of skepticism to other fields of inquiry? Do you not believe in the hypothesis that “aeroplanes fly because their wings generate lift as their engines push them through the air” because it doesn’t say anything about the molecular interactions present, and includes the assumptions such as “gravity is a force/property of spacetime which behaves regularly” and “mass-energy is conserved”?

  99. anteprepro says

    It’s a great secret, which is why no one understands money, for good reason. Wall Street is run by Jewish bankers. That is a fact.

    Remember that thing about proving shit, and evidence, and null hypothesis, and onus being on the claimant? Put up or shut up, you antisemitic fuckwad.

    It is in debt to some foreign countries, but mostly to the Federal Reserve, which is a private bank owned primarily by Jewish families of British descent (the Rothschilds).

    Again, proof fuckwit.

    Interestingly, I just looked into their board of governors, and could only find evidence of two of them being Jewish. Piss poor Jewish overlord conspiracy work.

  100. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    And conspiracy idjits have an Dunning-Kruger idea of their own competence. Which isn’t very competent, or they wouldn’t believe in conspiracies….

  101. anteprepro says

    Oh I see that Mark did provide “evidence”. A link to a random blog. Sounds legit.

  102. Mark says

    “Which means you are too stupid to find your own information, and I’m not going to play your games.
    At this point, you have absolutely zero credibility. ”

    Oh please, now you are totally giving atheists a bad name. You honestly are trying to tell me that as a scientist, that you have no responsibility to provide evidence to support your hypotheses? Are you serious? Nope, sorry, you’ve just lost all credibility yourself. I’ve taken up to third year genetics biochemistry courses which were not able to provide evidence, and I am merely asking it of you. Do you realize how desperate you are coming across? The amount of abuse I’ve received here for asking very basic questions is indicative of ad hominem attacks which are a classic argument technique indicating an admission that the party making the attack has lost the argument, because they have nothing left to stand on other than swearing and cheap insults. You obviously don’t like what I’m saying because it disturbs your world view. In that case, provide the evidence to refute my claims.

    Sorry, but I did some very in-depth searching. I read some of Dawkins’ books, but admittedly not all of them since they get repetitive and I find him somewhat narrow minded. I looked around at what most of the dominant evolutionary biologists at the time were saying, I looked through textbooks and years of old journals.. It was a few years ago so I can’t remember all the details of where I looked.

    Anyways, I really have to go. I am out now, really.

  103. anteprepro says

    105: Mark sez

    As I said before, I spent months looking for it in previous years and grew tired of finding nothing. Surprise me.

    I feel that you are in a perpetual state of surprise. Your question was answered before you even fully articulated it. You have been dead in the water for over 20 comments now. Nerd provided links to what you asked for way back in comment 80. I have already told you this. You have already lost.

  104. Snoof says

    Oh please, now you are totally giving atheists a bad name. You honestly are trying to tell me that as a scientist, that you have no responsibility to provide evidence to support your hypotheses?

    Out of interest, how many times is Nerd or the rest of the commentariat required to answer your questions (or the questions of people like you)? Once? Twice? A hundred times? Every single time a question is asked? Even if it’s already been answered, in depth, on multiple previous occasions?

    Sorry, but I did some very in-depth searching. I read some of Dawkins’ books, but admittedly not all of them since they get repetitive and I find him somewhat narrow minded. I looked around at what most of the dominant evolutionary biologists at the time were saying, I looked through textbooks and years of old journals.. It was a few years ago so I can’t remember all the details of where I looked.

    So you looked at a) popular science books, b) blogs and c) “old journals”. And despite not being able to recall any details, you concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support… what? Abiogenesis? The neo-Darwinian synthesis of evolution via mutation, recombination and natural selection? That’s a huge step to make, and you don’t even remember “details”?

    Anyways, I really have to go. I am out now, really.

    We’ll hold you to that.

  105. chigau (違う) says

    Mark
    You can not find convincing evidence for evolution but you can find convincing evidence for Jewish Bankers Running Wall Street?
    and, seriously, you read Darwin?
    Now we know you’re just trolling.

  106. says

    Because there is no good evidence, I just don’t believe in gods, and therefore I want humanity to live a reality-based life making reality-based decisions.

  107. says

    Mark:

    You seem to be getting very angry, what is it about what I’m saying that causes such internal turmoil?

    Stop playing the psychic. You have no way of knowing the emotional state of people from their comments online. Unless someone tells you they’re angry, don’t assume. You’re doing more than enough to make an ass out of yourself.

  108. says

    Mark @104:

    Well this is getting off topic so I won’t delve into it too much. But learn about the history of money. It’s a great secret, which is why no one understands money, for good reason. Wall Street is run by Jewish bankers. That is a fact. I am not racist, and I will not allow myself to be labelled an anti-Semite any more than you atheists believe you are anti-Christian.

    You throw out an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory you get labeled anti-Semitic. I don’t give two shits what you will or won’t “allow”.

  109. says

    Mark’s link @109 is to a blog that has something amusing of note (I guess it’s like their ‘about’ page):

    Although science and magic are posed to us as two entirely separate spheres of activity, close study of the available evidence shows their conflation underpins the structure of our daily lives. Vestigial vision is an innate human faculty to recognize the nature of things as they really are rather than how we are educated to perceive them. Here it is employed to examine what is effectively a trick of conjuration that binds us to a view of ourselves and the world profoundly poisoned. Use of this faculty enables humankind to abjure allegiance to this counterfeit reality paradigm, creating the freedom to finally enjoy self and other.

    Not terribly relevant to the discussion in this thread, but it was an amusing, trippy read.

  110. Amphiox says

    Wall Street is run by Jewish bankers. That is a fact…

    It is a fact that Wall Street is run by bankers. Probably most of them are MALE bankers. Probably most of them are MALE bankers between ages 40-65. Probably most of them are RICH bankers. Probably most of them are AMERICAN bankers. Probably most of them are HUMAN bankers. Probably most of them are RIGHT HANDED bankers. Probably most of them are STRAIGHT bankers. Probably most of them are ABLE-BODIED bankers.

    Yet, out of all these factual and correct adjectives, you, Mark, CHOSE to use the adjective Jewish. Why, if not to draw attention to Jewishness as a factor with some relevance to your point. And if so, given the tone of your point in general, how is that NOT anti-semitic?

  111. williamquinn says

    Well, I usually just lurk here but I have to chime in to express appreciation for the post by R Johnson where he says

    What this means is that atheism is actually a pretty terrible idea to organize around

    Which puts me in mind of a thread somewhere in FTB where the idea was put forward of creating an atheist social organization which would functionally be equivalent to a “church” (though the idea of saying “atheist church” sort of made me gag.) Anyway, I recall putting forward the notion that there are a number of atheist-friendly churches, they have ready-made professional clergy, if you are inclined to want something like that, why not just go there? I put this forward quite innocently, thinking that the sort of churches I am thinking of freely recognize that god, such as he is, is a human construct, and they are just trying to make the best use possible of the old traditions. Well, I freely admit I did not think this thing through, as this atheist sunday school that PZ runs has taught me, the “old traditions” are shot through with so much claptrap it is time to make a clean break.

  112. lpetrich says

    There are some people who seem to think that accepting the implications of atheism means being a nihilist or something like that. Like the French existentialists, who seemed to think that it is terrible, terrible, terrible that there is no god, because there is nobody to receive marching orders from. They almost seemed mad at God for not existing. That’s also what some “sophisticated theologians” seem to believe.

  113. Mark says

    “It is a fact that Wall Street is run by bankers. Probably most of them are MALE bankers. Probably most of them are MALE bankers between ages 40-65. Probably most of them are RICH bankers. Probably most of them are AMERICAN bankers. Probably most of them are HUMAN bankers. Probably most of them are RIGHT HANDED bankers. Probably most of them are STRAIGHT bankers. Probably most of them are ABLE-BODIED bankers.

    Yet, out of all these factual and correct adjectives, you, Mark, CHOSE to use the adjective Jewish. Why, if not to draw attention to Jewishness as a factor with some relevance to your point. And if so, given the tone of your point in general, how is that NOT anti-semitic?”

    Well I really don’t want to take up much space for this topic, but you will find that if you look into the bio’s of those bankers, that they are almost ALL Jewish. The same cannot be said about the average American populace, so there is therefore an atypical representation of the unelected bankers that control the monetary system and by extension, “our” governments. Why is this? Can it not be questioned and investigated? ESPECIALLY because it involves religion? If it was hair colour, then I’m sure we’d all agree that it’s irrelevant. But this site seems to operate around the insistence that the religious views of our leaders DO matter, so I would think it prudent of this site to embrace my observation with at least a little bit of curiosity, rather than defensive anti-semitic accusations.

    I am merely stating a fact; how is that anti-semitic? If it is, then PZ Myer’s recent post blasting Hillary Clinton for being a “Conservative Christian” is anti-“Christianitic”, isn’t it? Why do you have a double standard? It’s like Christians are fair game for vicious vilification by atheists, yet I am not allowed to raise the question of whether it’s a good idea to have our governments controlled by an unelected group of Jewish bankers? Huh? Is it because questioning Jews is somehow taboo, as if I’m somehow a Nazi sympathetic with the Holocaust? As if Jews are to be given a free pass because millions of them were murdered last century? Give me a break. As I said before, I am sceptical by nature and if something strikes me as odd, illogical, illegitimate, or unsupported by available evidence, I am going to call it out for further analysis and investigation. I don’t care if you are atheist, Christian, or Jewish.

  114. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Well I really don’t want to take up much space for this topic, but you will find that if you look into the bio’s of those bankers, that they are almost ALL Jewish.

    Citation mother fucking needed. You are a crank. Cite every claim, or don’t make a claim….

  115. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    I am going to call it out for further analysis and investigation.

    You do your own investigating. Leave innocents and rational folks out of your conspiracy fuckwittery.

  116. Mark says

    “Mark’s link @109 is to a blog that has something amusing of note (I guess it’s like their ‘about’ page):

    ….

    Not terribly relevant to the discussion in this thread, but it was an amusing, trippy read.”

    Tony, I thought I might get called out on that blog! I actually haven’t read much of it and can’t vouch for its legitimacy, I was merely linked to it via a different economics blog I was reading, The chart provided can be found in many places on the net.

    Interestingly though, there are other bloggers that I used to follow that are mages (John Michael Greer), and they explain how magic in its original form is not about hocus pocus supernatural worship, but it’s actually about how the views of groups of people can be formed and guided by those practising magic. I don’t claim to have read a lot about what he says, but it is an interesting concept that I may revisit again if I get the time and inclination. He mostly writes about resource depletion and economic stagnation, and how our larger social beliefs are being manipulated to keep people from understanding what is actually happening.

  117. Mark says

    “Citation mother fucking needed. You are a crank. Cite every claim, or don’t make a claim….”

    Look up the bio’s of the heads of every big Wall Street bank, and the Fed. It’s pretty easy to do.

    So now I’m being required to provide evidence to support every on of my assertions, yet when I ask atheists to provide evidence supporting their hypotheses that mutations arise randomly (isn’t that what the scientific method requires of you?), suddenly the tables are turned and it’s MY responsibility to go out and find it, is it? Sorry, you lose.

    Anyways, you can do a google search on Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke, Alan Greenspan, Jamie Dimon, Lloyd Blankfein, etc etc. Dimon isn’t Jewish, but the vast majority of them are, and the ones at the top all are.

  118. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Look up the bio’s of the heads of every big Wall Street bank, and the Fed. It’s pretty easy to do.

    What’s the matter, afraid the folks here will realize what a crank you are? You make the claim, you provide the evidence, or you shut the fuck up about it. That is called honesty and integrity. Apparently you don’t have any.

    yet when I ask atheists to provide evidence supporting their hypotheses that mutations arise randomly

    First of all crank, liar and bullshitter, it isn’t atheists making the claims. It is scientists. And science says that is what happens and science ignores your unevidenced skepticism and ignorance. And I did cite scientific papers that refuted your claim, doing exactly what you want to be shown in my #80, and anteprepro added to in their #90. Your belief is irrelevant to what was shown. You were checkmated.
    So, your word alone is worthless. Either provide citations, or don’t say anything.

  119. Drolfe says

    Ragdish, at 34,
    Apologies, I couldn’t get back sooner. On the chance you return:

    Thanks for the response, but it doesn’t address my point. I’m disappointed you dodged and went after a strawman, especially after we offered frank and direct responses to your question about the benefit of believing less bullshit. You go on about what vets should be told, or what their grieving families should be told, about which I made no claims and asked no questions. Others here have responded to that well and thuroughly (and I thank them).

    Would your colleagues be better healthcare workers if they knew more and believed fewer falsehoods? Would that benefit patients?

    I’d say yes to the former, and couldn’t hurt to the latter.

  120. Mark says

    Snoof said:

    “Out of interest, how many times is Nerd or the rest of the commentariat required to answer your questions (or the questions of people like you)?

    So you looked at a) popular science books, b) blogs and c) “old journals”. And despite not being able to recall any details, you concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support… what? Abiogenesis? The neo-Darwinian synthesis of evolution via mutation, recombination and natural selection? That’s a huge step to make, and you don’t even remember “details”?”

    Yes, that’s correct. I can’t recall the names of the journals I looked at; it was quite a wide range of them, actually. But I do remember the conclusion I came to that I couldn’t find any evidence to support the random origin of genes encoding new traits. Of course, I could do a whole new search again today to appease you all, but what’s the point since I’ve already done it. It’s up to you to provide the evidence.

    You say that I have been provided with lots of the evidence I’m asking for, but I’m scratching my head since I don’t believe you have. Post #80 is the only one that attempts to, and it provides three links. The second and third are behind paywalls so I can’t access them. The first is a complete paper and at first glance it seems to be addressing the questions I am asking. I’m still going through it, but it seems to be another population-level study demonstrating THAT new traits arise from changes to the genetic code. Well duh… I see little if any description of an actual biochemical pathway that could cause the observed new traits via random mutation. I am asking for a proposed biochemical pathway and statistical analysis which clearly shows THAT these changes arise out of randomness. I mean, you look at organic chemists, they all go to great pains to analyse every single detail about what’s happening chemically to every electron and atom in every organic reaction, yet the atheist evolutionists can’t. They don’t even have PROPOSED biochemical pathways linking known mutations to new functional genes, from what I can see. All they can do is provide evidence that the genetic code changes, which I am in complete agreement with.

  121. Mark says

    Nerd said:

    “What’s the matter, afraid the folks here will realize what a crank you are? You make the claim, you provide the evidence, or you shut the fuck up about it. That is called honesty and integrity. Apparently you don’t have any”

    Oh for Chr!st’s sake, OK I went to Google and searched it:

    http://tomatobubble.com/id199.html

    If you take issue with any of the claims they make about any of those bankers being Jewish, then I’m sure you could provide evidence to support that. Everything I have searched on the net is in agreement with the religious affiliations that that site alleges those bankers have.

    And continues:

    “First of all crank, liar and bullshitter, it isn’t atheists making the claims. It is scientists. And science says that is what happens and science ignores your unevidenced skepticism and ignorance. And I did cite scientific papers that refuted your claim, doing exactly what you want to be shown in my #80, and anteprepro added to in their #90. Your belief is irrelevant to what was shown. You were checkmated.
    So, your word alone is worthless. Either provide citations, or don’t say anything.”

    The first couple sentences there are mostly incoherent so I can’t really address them. “Unevidenced skepticism”? What the hell is that? Scepticism is all about asking for evidence. The whole point of my scepticism is that militant atheism HAS NO evidence to support it.

    As to the alleged evidence provided in post #80, see my response in post #139. As to Anteprepro’s links provided in post #90? You aren’t serious are you? Even he admitted they were geared towards children. If that’s what you call sufficient evidence describing random biochemical pathways leading to new traits from known genetic mutations, then I think you need to go back to school.

  122. says

    This reminds me of the BS I get all the time from Black people saying “You do realize what Black people went through for YOU to be here? You owe them (other Blacks) something: Being Black is more than just an attribute you claim or are given, it MEANS X & Y and you have a responsibility to take up this mantle”

    Sometimes that mantle is Christianity, sometimes Nation of Islam, sometimes it’s to only date Black people, and even sometimes they say it’s a reason for me to stop saying I’m mixed instead of just “Black”.

    Why? Being African-American is just that and that’s all that is. Yes, there are things the world says, does, and reacts because I am Black but how are you going to try to use that as a call to action? Especially if it’s an action I don’t agree with?

    They’re co-opting my Blackness to say I should refuse to ever paint a White Jesus or I shouldn’t do cartoons with sociopolical messages.

    I take my Blackness serious enough to know I don’t have to adopt your view so I can call myself Black.

    Now, go back, and take out “Black” and replace it with “atheist”

  123. says

    Mark:

    Tony, I thought I might get called out on that blog! I actually haven’t read much of it and can’t vouch for its legitimacy, I was merely linked to it via a different economics blog I was reading, The chart provided can be found in many places on the net.

    You can’t vouch for the legitimacy of the link you provided for your anti-Semitism? So you don’t actually know if that information is correct. I thought you claimed to be a skeptic.

  124. says

    Roy Jones:

    Now, go back, and take out “Black” and replace it with “atheist”

    No one is co-opting atheism. You, like other whiners, keep asserting that atheism is being co-opted, and yet you haven’t provided a reasonable explanation of how. The word atheism still means the same thing, and that thing is NOT the same thing as atheism+. You’re attempting to treat them as meaning the same thing for your argument, but it isn’t working bc words mean things. Atheism and Atheism plus social justice do not mean the same thing.

  125. alwayscurious says

    The whole point of my scepticism is that militant atheism HAS NO evidence to support it.

    My history textbook is chalk full of examples of militant atheism overthrowing governments!! Russia and China and most of the other countries that have ever had governments overthrown. Google it yourself atheists because I’m not going to cite any more of the countless examples out there. Don’t bother arguing with me either–I’m much too busy being a skeptic–asking others for evidence–to provide any myself. As long as I deny, you are obligated to prove to me that you are correct, MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

  126. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    You say that I have been provided with lots of the evidence I’m asking for, but I’m scratching my head since I don’t believe you have. P

    You aren’t the arbiter of science. Science and scientists are. You were presented with the science for the point you asked to be shown. If you fail to understand the science, and why your question was answered, the fault is with YOU.

    The first is a complete paper and at first glance it seems to be addressing the questions I am asking. I’m still going through it, but it seems to be another population-level study demonstrating THAT new traits arise from changes to the genetic code. Well duh… I see little if any description of an actual biochemical pathway that could cause the observed new traits via random mutation.

    And I explained it to you below, random mutations occurred, and strain of e-coli that couldn’t uptake citrate was suddenly able to uptake citrate, but it took three mutations and 30,000+ generations. YOU WERE REFUTED DEAD ON.

    They don’t even have PROPOSED biochemical pathways linking known mutations to new functional genes,

    Yes they do., You are checkmated. You are stupid.

    “Unevidenced skepticism”? What the hell is that? Scepticism is all about asking for evidence.

    Sorry fuckwit, real evidence is also based on knowing evidence. You disbelieve the science of evolution a priori. You obviously believe in imaginary deities or other unevidenced stupornatural claims. You don’t prove what you believe, because you can’t. You can’t even provide evidence like this: From Wiki Conspiracy theories, anti-Semitism heading.

    Various conspiracy theories have been advanced regarding Jews and banking,[1] including the theory that world banking is dominated by the Rothschild family,[2] that Jews control Wall Street,[2] and that Jews control the U.S. Federal Reserve System.[3] A related theory is that Jews control Hollywood or the news media.[4][5]

    Yep, you are an anti-Semite, since you believe in the conspiracy theory.

    If that’s what you call sufficient evidence describing random biochemical pathways leading to new traits from known genetic mutations, then I think you need to go back to school.

    No, you need to get over yourself, and stop thinking of yourself as anything other than a bigoted delusional fool with Dunning Kruger syndrome. You have to rebut with more science, not your shallow, foolish, and unevidenced viewpoint. Point to the peer reviewed papers refuting Lenski and Schneider. I’ll be waiting for you evidence….

  127. anteprepro says

    Yeah, looks like Mark has seven different flavors of Nothing. Pathetic. And yet he still decides to talk at length. Pompous windbag, just loves the sound of his own typing.

  128. says

    The whole point of my scepticism is that militant atheism HAS NO evidence to support it.

    What the hell *IS* militant atheism btw?
    From the whining I’ve seen out of fundie religious circles, it’s nothing more than atheists who are more vocal about not believing in god. The difference between “old school atheists” and “militant atheism” amounts to whispering “I don’t believe in god” so that one shows undeserved respect to religious beliefs versus “Is this loudspeaker on?! I REALLY, REALLY DON’T BELIEVE IN GOD BECAUSE THERE’S NO EVIDENCE! (maybe with a cherry on top).
    Quit drinking the kool aid.

  129. alwayscurious says

    They don’t even have PROPOSED biochemical pathways linking known mutations to new functional genes

    If I recall correctly, this was several steps down in what the experimenters were trying to demonstrate. The first significant result was: “E. coli now does this new thing! We can prove it was a descendant of the original strain and not a contaminating strain or plasmid!” Only after all that did they start going, “Gee, now how DID it do that?”

    So REGARDLESS of a proposed biochemical pathway description, Mark, you still have a difficult thing to explain: How can an E. coli strain unable to process citrate suddenly able to thrive on it generations later, given that no contamination or plasmid exchange was observed? If not by random mutation, than HOW?

  130. anteprepro says

    always curious

    If not by random mutation, than HOW?

    The Biological Messiah and Worker of Cellular Miracles, Genesus!

  131. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Mark, idjit

    In that case, provide the evidence to refute my claims.

    Mark, you are WRONG until YOU evidence yourself right. Welcome to science works, not you delusional and presuppositional thinking.

  132. says

    Not to support Mark or his terrible, anti-semitic conspiracies, but he is actually right about the amount of Jews basically in control of the money.

    Of course, when you’re a people who’ve spent centuries being persecuted, you learn how to be shrewd with your funds, so it actually doesn’t surprise me at all that Jews are good with money. We had to be, didn’t we (though an atheist, I was born into a Jewish family… though, to be fair, it’s a Jewish family that’s seriously terrible with money)?

    The anti-semitic conspiracies tend to ignore the Jews who are good though: Jamie Kilstein, Noam Chomsky, George Soros, and so on.

  133. Amphiox says

    In that case, provide the evidence to refute my claims.

    It doesn’t work that way.

    He who makes the claim must provide the evidence to support the claim.

    Only once that evidence is provided does he who wishes to refute the claim need to provide counter evidence to refute that evidence.

  134. Amphiox says

    Well I really don’t want to take up much space for this topic, but you will find that if you look into the bio’s of those bankers, that they are almost ALL Jewish.

    When one goes into the bios of those bankers, one also finds that they are also almost ALL male, and almost ALL wealthy. (And there are far more Jewish people in the world than there are wealthy people in the world, so you don’t even have rarity to fall on as a justification.)

    Yet again, you CHOSE to use the specific adjective “jewish” to describe these bankers, and you CHOSE NOT to use the specific adjectives “male” and “wealthy”.

    What then is the justification for that CONSCIOUS, DELIBERATE CHOICE on your part, if not an anti-semitic one?

  135. says

    Mark #141

    If you take issue with any of the claims they make about any of those bankers being Jewish, then I’m sure you could provide evidence to support that. Everything I have searched on the net is in agreement with the religious affiliations that that site alleges those bankers have.

    Of course, there might be very obvious historical reasons for the prevalence of Jewish families in banking. But then, history is just stuff that happened isn’t it. It cannot possibly have bearing on the present!

  136. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Of course, when you’re a people who’ve spent centuries being persecuted, you learn how to be shrewd with your funds, so it actually doesn’t surprise me at all that Jews are good with money. We had to be, didn’t we (though an atheist, I was born into a Jewish family… though, to be fair, it’s a Jewish family that’s seriously terrible with money)?

    Rather than a conspiracy, might it have something to do with the fact many Jewish families respect learning, and expect their offspring to be well educated. And if they get a PhD in economics, and teach and publish, doors open that wouldn’t without the proper credentials? Like appointments to serve their country managing pieces of the Federal Reserve System?

  137. satanaugustine says

    I’ve read your comments against “dictionary atheism” before, PZ, and I’ve come to the conclusion that your argument that atheism means something more than simply not believing in god(s) and that atheists, specifically because we are atheists, have some responsibility to change the world is complete and utter bullshit. People can be full on atheists without adhering to your view of what atheism should mean. It’s arrogant to insist that your point of view should be the prevailing point of view. As is referring to those who don’t share your point of view “nominal atheists” who need to grow up to be real atheists.

    Atheism does not imply that atheists apply naturalism in all aspects of their life. I wish it did, but I’ve known far too many atheists who believe The Secret is worthy of basing their lives on in addition to other “spiritual” and alt-med claptrap – acupuncture, chiropracty, meaningful coincidences (“You see a frog in your dream and the following day you see a real live frog and that means something.” This was an actual example given by a not-stupid-but-merely-“spiritual” (whatever that means) member of my local freethought group. We gave him a lot of shit for it.) I agree personally that lack of god belief isn’t enough and any talk of unevidenced mumbo-jumbo among fellow atheists/freethinkers drives me nuts. My view is that atheism isn’t enough (to that extent I agree with you) so we have to have different labels that go beyond mere atheism, such as freethought, skepticism, and humanism. There are many atheists who are none of these other things, but that doesn’t make them non-atheists. Since my local freethought group (usually) nicely calls people out on their unevidenced beliefs our active members tend to to fit all the above labels (even if they don’t use them) either because that’s just the way they think or because they learn from the rest of us that evidence in all aspects of life is the only way to find objective answers.

    Social justice doesn’t naturally follow from atheism, but it does from humanism. Basing beliefs on evidence and the scientific method don’t naturally follow from atheism, but it does from freethought and skepticism. Sure many of us became atheists by applying scientific skepticism to god belief, but many atheists did not come to the no-gods conclusion via that same path. For me a complete lack of evidence for gods or any other supernatural claims are enough to inform my beliefs. Others may have arrived at atheism via a moral route – Yahweh is evil, his son isn’t much better with the whole heaven and hell dogma, and the Bible is one of the most immoral books ever written. As we all know, religion can make many people, including otherwise good people to perform horrifically immoral acts. These are reasons some people embrace atheism. That and theodicy, disillusionment with religion caused by informal personal experiments on the efficacy of prayer (you pray for a better life or a better world long enough but nothing changes, you begin think it’s bullshit), and I’m sure many many more reasons.

    And when I mention being skeptics or humanists I’m not implying that one must be part of “official” skeptic and humanist movements. No one needs an institution to embrace these. But atheism does not imply all of these other moral and naturalistic attitudes.

  138. Nick Gotts says

    satanaugustine@157,

    Compare and contrast:

    It’s arrogant to insist that your point of view should be the prevailing point of view.

    and

    I agree personally that lack of god belief isn’t enough and any talk of unevidenced mumbo-jumbo among fellow atheists/freethinkers drives me nuts.

  139. says

    People can be full on atheists without adhering to your view of what atheism should mean.

    Oy. This again. I have plainly and loudly stated many times that I am NOT saying that all atheists must think alike — rather, that there will be diverse reasons and interpretations, and that we need to be open about them. What’s bullshit is arrogant atheists declaring that all atheism is is the idea of ‘no god’, as if a bolt of lightning struck their head and fried their god module, but that they otherwise just toddled off acting as if nothing had changed.

    Your third paragraph is basically what I’ve been saying all along, that there are many different ways to be an atheist, except I disagree with your sentiment that seems to imply that nothing flows from atheism. Of course purging yourself of teleological misconceptions leads your mind to other ideas! That is my complaint: that so many dictionary atheists pretend their central concept just is, they memorize a one-sentence definition and, bleh, they’re done. You might as well memorize “Jesus is Lord”.

  140. says

    I should also mention that one of the reasons I started the old “Why I am an atheist” series was to collect people’s accounts of what led them to atheism, and what it meant to them, and the whole point was to demonstrate that we weren’t all the same, as well as that it was possible to be thoughtful about how you came to be the person you were.

    (I had to discontinue the series because it was becoming impossible to maintain, thanks to social pressure. It was getting to the point where every week I was getting many requests to revise and delete past entries: people were discovering that the very first thing that came up in google searches of their name or on details of their experience was their open discussion of being godless, and they were panicking that this was going to poison their career or job hunting efforts or family relationships. Sad, huh? It was getting to the point where I’d post a good strong entry, and the more frank it was, the more cynical I was getting — “I’ll be asked by the author to take this down three weeks from now.”)

  141. says

    PZ,

    What’s bullshit is arrogant atheists declaring that all atheism is is the idea of ‘no god’, as if a bolt of lightning struck their head and fried their god module, but that they otherwise just toddled off acting as if nothing had changed.
    =====================

    You keep contradicting yourself. I know, in your own mind, you feel like a distinction has been made but that distinction is not visible to us. The aspect I believe that is hindering your effort is the word “atheism” itself.

    If you would divorce your intent of saying “So you realize you’re an atheist? Now what?” from then saying “Realizing you’re an atheist is only STEP 1 to being an atheist”, then you’d get further because realizing you’re an atheist is really all there is to being an atheist.

    Seriously.

    That’s all.

    Atheism shouldn’t strive to be more inclusive of minorities, more Liberal, more stringent, or more anything. Atheism is more of a passive attribute, not a call to arms. Yes, because of the label we are persecuted but we don’t have to adhere to their projections of us being a recognized “group”. Just because someone says we’re unified doesn’t mean we have to be.

  142. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    If you would divorce your intent of saying “So you realize you’re an atheist? Now what?” from then saying “Realizing you’re an atheist is only STEP 1 to being an atheist”, then you’d get further because realizing you’re an atheist is really all there is to being an atheist.

    Gee, trying again to ridicule an idea because you don’t like it. And falling flat on your face with illogical non-sequiturs.

    If you would divorce your intent of saying “So you realize you’re an atheist? Now what?” from then saying “Realizing you’re an atheist is only STEP 1 to being an atheist”, then you’d get further because realizing you’re an atheist is really all there is to being an atheist.

    If one makes a decision, and lives with the consequences of that decision, then you have to ask what are the consequences of say “god doesn’t exist”. One very logical place to start is all religious based “morality”, and replace with something better. Yes, you can still be an asshole bigot, but you do it on your own biases, and can’t hide behind the concept “society does it”.

  143. jenny6833a says

    @ nerd of Redhead, #162

    “If one makes a decision, and lives with the consequences of that decision, then you have to ask what are the consequences of say “god doesn’t exist””

    One need not ask that, but I think one should.

    “One very logical place to start is all religious based “morality”, and replace with something better.”

    NO! I’m not going to throw out all religious based morality just because it comes to us from religion. Much of ‘religious morality’ began as secular, and was grabbed by religion. And I’d never make the logical error of assuming that an idea is bad just because it came from religion.

    Instead, I’m going to examine each tenet of all the various religious based moralities and of every other morality I can find.

    I keep that which makes sense, drop that which doesn’t, add what I find to be missing, and voila I’m done.

  144. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Instead, I’m going to examine each tenet of all the various religious based moralities and of every other morality I can find.

    You won’t even think about morality from just basic considerations and make your own decisions, but have to adopt something that somebody already said? Not an original thinker.

  145. says

    Roy Jones:

    If you would divorce your intent of saying “So you realize you’re an atheist? Now what?” from then saying “Realizing you’re an atheist is only STEP 1 to being an atheist”, then you’d get further because realizing you’re an atheist is really all there is to being an atheist.

    If you believe in god and you think the gays are evil and going to hell bc of your religious beliefs, and you reject your god belief, that *ought* to affect your opinion of gay people.
    There are ramifications to believing in deities. Especially wrt the big 3. For most people, it isn’t simply “I believe in god”. It’s “I believe in god plus all this baggage”. Likewise, if you don’t believe in god, what happens to all the baggage? Should former theists keep on believing in associated bullshit derived from their former belief system (gays go to hell, belief in souls, sin)?
    Or are you trying to assert that believers have no baggage accompanying their theism?

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