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Why do Atheists get so much grief?

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by aussie rocket, Jul 21, 2009.

  1. mclawson

    mclawson Member

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    I'm quite certain you'll either hand-wave or claim "not enough time" (despite keeping up with a lengthy thread) but perhaps at least peruse some links from http://evolution-of-religion.com/publications/

    For example, from Schloss, J. P. (2009) Evolutionary Theories of Religion: Science Set Free or Naturalism Run Wild? In The Believing Primate: Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Perspectives on the Origin of Religion (ed. J. P. Schloss & M. Murray). Oxford: Oxford University Press.:


     
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  2. Grizzled

    Grizzled Member

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    I don’t know if you’re BSing me or not, but let’s break this down and take it step by step and I’m sure I’ll find out soon enough.

    The fact that 75% of the world’s population believes that a god or gods exist is evidence that a god or gods exists. To be precise, it’s a form of evidence called indirect evidence. This is not conclusive proof that a god or gods exists. It’s evidence. I’m sure there have been cases where 75% of a population has been wrong. That’s not in question. The fact that 75% of a population can be wrong sometimes does not mean that they are wrong all the time, however, or even most of time. In fact if 75% of a population believes something to be true then under normal circumstances most of the time that thing will be true. People have reasons for their beliefs, after all. They don’t just randomly pick them out of the air. Do you understand what we’re talking about now? Do you see the difference between evidence and conclusive proof?
     
  3. roxstarz

    roxstarz Member

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    Not sure why this thread is still alive. so let me put it in words that makes sense. THERE IS NO F****** WAY TO SEE WHO IS RIGHT AND WHO IS WRONG. Argue about something with facts, and don't tell me omfg evolution (some evidence) + big bang = no godz. that's a belief. believing in any religion is the same thing. I'm guessing this isn't going to stop a thread from going around in circles, but atleast I tried.
     
  4. uolj

    uolj Member

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    1. Most of the discussion right now is about topics tangential to whether there is a god.
    2. Being able to determine who is right and who is wrong is not a prerequisite of having a worthwhile discussion.
    3. What was your point again?

    I actually enjoy going around in circles, especially the first few times around. I get to see a lot of scenery, and on the second or third time around I often see things I missed the first time. I'm not sure why you think it's necessary to try to stop us from that enjoyment.
     
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  5. Grizzled

    Grizzled Member

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    You’re not very polite.

    Since you’ve actually made the effort to post something, however, I’ll respond. What is it that you think you’re showing here? Do you consider any of these high probability theories? What I see here is a group of theories that seem to be aimed at coming up with plausible explanations, not probable explanations. I don’t see anything here that’s giving a likely reason why humans would have evolved a belief in fictitious gods and elaborate religions which consume large amounts of time and resources. I see a lot of could be and maybe theories, but nothing that addresses the issue we’ve been discussing, the unlikelihood that things would have evolved this way.

    Long shot theories aren’t necessarily bad things, but don’t lose sight of the fact that that’s what they are, and the probability is that man would never have evolved this way. It would go against the theory of natural selection. This, I would say, is an obvious statement. If the theory of evolution is true, however, then there must be an explanation for god and religion that is consistent with it, and that’s what these researchers are digging for. They’re not looking for the most likely explanation. They’re looking for one that fits their theory. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it doesn’t connect with what we’re talking about here.
     
  6. roxstarz

    roxstarz Member

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    Have fun with that.
     
  7. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    This is the crux of your argument. But consider:

    If the percentage of a population that believes in something decreases over time despite ever-increasing access to education, then most of the time that thing will be false. People have reasons to doubt, after all.
     
  8. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    How do you explain why the majority of people, probably still today in varying degrees, believe in "luck"? Can you offer any probable explanations? If not, should that lead you to believe that luck actually exists?

    And your argument to that effect is thoroughly unconvincing. I don't understand why you think this is a long shot. Which of the following sounds improbable to you?

    Because of natural selection, humans evolved to think of explanations for what they observe or sense, including inferring explanations when the evidence is insufficient. Natural selection also made humans evolve to be social animals. Our inclination is to be part of a group, and not isolated or outcast.

    Early humans did not have scientific knowledge, so they made up supernatural causes for things around them. Complex belief systems and rituals were formed around these beliefs in the supernatural. Familial and societal pressures ensured that almost everyone abided. Belief systems were not localized, but often spread large distances geographically. Political bonds were formed partly on the basis of shared beliefs and customs. Moreover, leadership often invoked god to assert their authority. Those that questioned typically faced severe punishment or were outcast.

    Scientific progress was slow throughout the vast, vast, vast majority of human history. We're talking tens of thousands of years of human existence (which is actually extremely conservative) versus only maybe 500 years where there has been rapid increase in scientific understanding and knowledge (which is less than a percent of our time in existence). This has corresponded to a decline in the belief of all supernatural things/entities, including God.

    Still, yes a majority believe in God. Should that be a surprise? Of course not. There is still the political, economic, cultural, and familial pressures to "keep the faith" -- not quite to the same extent as it once was, depending on the society you are born into, but it is there. And, biologically, we are still conditioned to try to fill in gaps or draw connections between events that may not really be warranted. The scientist is trained to say "I don't know" or, when there is no real evidence, "I doubt that", but I don't think that comes very natural to us by default.
     
    #788 durvasa, Mar 13, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2010
  9. Severe Rockets Fan

    Severe Rockets Fan Takin it one stage at a time...
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    No this is absolutely wrong, I don't know how many times it needs to be said, it is completely made up logic.

    "75% of the population believes it to be true so it probably is."

    Why must it be true?

    "Because they believe it to be"

    If that's logical to you, then I don't know what to say.

    But, if that's the case then you HAVE to take into account that 25% of the population does not believe in god...after all, that's what they believe. Yes, they might not be right, but the minority belief has been the correct one many times in the past and it is highly possible it could be correct in this instance as well.

    The shear number of people believing in something does not make it anymore more or less real than a small number of people believing it doesn't. It should not be considered as evidence of anything except that people 'believe in something'.
     
  10. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    The way I look at it: people that really want to understand the universe will not ascribe unknowns to the work of God and leave it at that. They will use science to delve as deep as they can go. What they don't know they don't know, but the search doesn't end with: "Forget it. God did it." So, knowledge is best acquired not by assuming that there is a God influencing the course of events, but rather that nature takes its course, follows certain patterns, and we must deduce those patterns through observation.

    As far as ultimate questions like "where did the universe come from?", I think it is quite possible that we can't know the answer to such questions. What makes most sense to me is that the universe didn't come from anywhere -- it just always was. For people who claim that everything must have a cause and God is the cause of the universe -- well, where then did God come from? And if God can have the property of always having existed, why can't the universe also have that property?

    These are just basic questions I have that maybe Grizzled or someone else well-versed in Christian apolagetics can address.
     
  11. Invisible Fan

    Invisible Fan Insider Newsletter™ 2X Diamond Member

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    There's nothing preventing a believer from thinking that science and religion can both explain the universe in different ways. A person should be constantly challenged by his religion. That's what makes it hard to follow, not the "following rules" part.

    I just think religion can explain matters of the heart better. One could boil it down into a philosophy at that point, but its survival for thousands of years has given them very strong foundations full of successes and missteps.
     
  12. havoc1

    havoc1 Member

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    If you would like to hear the answers to these questions then I would suggest going to youtube and typing in William Lane Craig and Kalam Cosmological Argument. He is a Christian apologist and debater who explains the answers to the two questions you just asked :)
     
  13. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    Thanks for the tip.
     
  14. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    Do you mean it does a better job of giving us consolation (I would agree with that) or understand what is right and wrong (I'm not so sure about that)?
     
  15. Yak

    Yak Member

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    Last week, my high school did it's semi-annual "Shattered Dreams" presentation. Shattered Dreams is a program in which select students act as if they were in a terrible car accident caused by drunk driving right outside out campus grounds. Our school spends a ton of money bringing in a fake car that looks like it's been in a wreck, plasters a ton of fake blood and guts on the road adjacent to our school, and asks the parents of the students involved to pretend like their child has died.

    Anyway, we take a couple hours out of the next school day to hold a mock funeral.

    And to make this funeral seem as real as possible, they bring in a pastor to talk us through this tragedy, preaching that it this accident and the passing of our friends and peers was seemingly okay since they were in a better place.

    Then he asked us to pray.

    In school.

    A few of my friends whom I was sitting next to looked at me with a grin knowing that I was in an awkward position since I am one of a few atheists in an incredibly religious town of approximately 30,000.

    I come from a very religious public high school that has Christian based club activities covering the walls at all times throughout the years.

    Some of the clubs include:

    Young Life: what is this club you ask? "Young Life gives kids opportunities to be themselves, have fun and learn about Jesus Christ," quoted from their website. A quote very similar to this was written in a half-page article in our school newspaper highlighting our most prestigious and accomplished club. The club leaders walk around every week in their brightly painted jump suits advertising their fun times at 8:01 every Monday and a random church. (don't ask me why it's held at 8:01, because I have no clue).

    The Fellowship of Christian Athletes: pretty much explains itself. Needless to say, I can't join.

    The Breakfast Club: students are asked to come and join the festivities as members celebrate God and his word while enjoying a round of pancakes.

    Where is the grief, you might ask? Turning down invitation after invitation to these clubs causes quite a bit of glaring in my direction.

    Don't stand and say the pledge? Teacher forces me.

    Don't want to pray for salvation? Get a tap on the shoulder wondering why my hands aren't clasped and my eyes aren't shut.

    Oh well, at least it's my last semester.
     
  16. aussie rocket

    aussie rocket Member

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    Yak.

    You have my sympathy and empathy my man.
     
  17. DonnyMost

    DonnyMost clean your room bucko
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    yak, dude, I *FEEL* you.

    It was the same way with me in high school....but it sounds like you've got it even worse.

    I played in a band with some friends from high school, they were all religious, so naturally we did many things involving church activities and organizations... and then one day, they get tired of my blatant heathenism and tell me I can't play with them anymore if I don't attend church with them and start coming to all the little other churchy things they do. I packed up my stuff that night and never came to another rehearsal... sad, cause they were close friends.

    You'll find this kind of stuff goes on seemingly for the rest of your life.... it's hard to know what it is like until you've lived it... don't let it get you down.
     
  18. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    There is a book I came across called, "God? A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist." William Lane Craig is the Christian, and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is the atheist.

    http://www.amazon.com/God-between-Christian-Atheist-Counterpoint/dp/0195166000/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_4

    So far, it is very interesting. The way it is formatted, the first half Craig makes his case for why thinks God exists, Sinnott-Armstrong counters, and Craig defends. In the second half, Sinnott-Armstrong makes his case why God does not exist, Craig counters, and Sinnott-Armstrong defends.

    I am enjoying it so far. The presentation is fair, both are extremely well-informed, and I think they each make some very good cases. I recommend it for people falling on both sides of the debate.
     
  19. Grizzled

    Grizzled Member

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    Saying that something is probably true is not the same as saying that it must be true. This seems to be the block you're having trouble getting past. You're not even addressing the argument that's being made because you seem to be getting tripped up on this fundamental point.
     
  20. durvasa

    durvasa Contributing Member
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    The problem here is your conclusion that it is "probably true" really does not follow from the evidence you are presenting. You are making a general claim that "if lots of people believe in something, it is probably true." There are a whole host of "somethings" that fall under the category "supernatural explanation" which we know lots of people believed in for the majority of human history and yet were false.

    I've looked at some of the other arguments for the existence of God since our earlier discussion -- e.g. the cosmological arguments and the teleological arguments -- and I think they are much better arguments than the one you're using.
     
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