Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mea Culpa

The people who complained about my last post were right. Random put it particularly well:
the questions are not aimed at the average religious believer - they're aimed at the average atheist, to reassure him of his intellectual superiority over us superstitious halfwits.

I'm going to try not to further contribute to the us-vs-them mindset. Making fun of the opposition, whatever the subject, serves only to alienate. I myself get angry when other bloggers stereotype liberals or atheists or any of the other labels I sometimes describe myself with. So thanks for calling me out.

(And a special thanks to sckorefil, who contributed greatly to this thought process in an online chat.)

61 comments:

Sadie Lou said...

You know full well that I wouldn't keep coming back here if I didn't like you and feel a connection to some of your posts. I don't want to flatter myself by thinking that my comments had anything to do with your current reflection so please don't assume that my next point is coming from arrogance. After I read the previous post, I sat back and looked at the comment box for what seemed like at least 5 minutes--wondering what I could possibly say.
I was sure that a handful of atheists were going to comment by laughing. I was also sure that a couple of people would show up and say something insulting about Christians.
I decided that I would comment by reacting in kind--I very rarely let a discussion get the better of me but it's happened a few times--instead of trying to reason with everyone like I usually do.
I was pretty confident that eventually, one of the atheists would call me to the mat.
I didn't think it was going to be you, JA. I thought you would think I was acting totally out of character (although I have been known to roll my eyes a few times).
How many times have I expressed my confusion over the fact that most of the atheist blogs I visit focus mainly on being antagonistic towards Christians?
Answer: A lot.
It's so troubling to me because I actually LOVE spending time in discussion with atheists. All of my long lasting blog-friendships have been with atheists.
Cyberkitten, dbackdad, Laura, You and many new ones that I like too--Plonka (Ted). The purpose isn't to change you guys into Christians but my purpose is to challenge myself by getting to know your thoughts and arguments and also to challenge you guys to think of Christians a little differently.
It shouldn't have to be Us vs. Them, like you said. I actually just read on a blog (that I found on the previous post) a link to an atheist's blog called Daylight Atheist.
(I think)
I'll put a link to it but basically the guy wants to post on the positive aspects of atheism and he wants to focus on the good things about humanity and spend less time boxing Christians. I already copied and pasted his Atheist's Creed for a further post--I really liked it.
I'm sure I'll be a regular reader soon.
Anyhoo,
I support your realization here, JA. I'll do my part to encourage it.
:)
No hard feelings about anything right?

Keebo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ezzie said...

I'm glad to see this post. Every once in a while, I'm disappointed by a post here, and usually say something. The last one however was in its own league and reinforced something I've often felt (summed up so well by Random): That many atheists [and I'll add in many liberals, academics, etc.] seriously believe that they are in fact superior to others. They give off the impression that they're "past that old religious bunk" and the like, and that those who aren't are a primitive form of man. [The same applies in other fields to the other groups.]

Forget that this is nonsense for a moment, though it is. How absolutely bigoted and disgusting can one be? If you are one the more "reasonable" atheists and you'll post material such as this in a public forum, what does that say about the deeply held beliefs of other atheists?

As an example: How can we not assume that would atheists ever hold positions of power, they would force their own views on the rest of the populus? Christians hold the power now, but don't force it upon others - but would atheists? Would they put ridiculous "tests" such as that one into the curricula? What would stop them? It's not a religious belief... just making a mockery of everyone else's beliefs.

The biggest and most troubling question, however, is what this means about you. Are you really the person who puts up this apology, who regrets putting up this post because it was wrong and ridiculous? Or deep down, do you agree with that superiority feeling that the test gave off? I'd have always assumed the former, but now, I'm not as absolutely sure as I would have been a week ago. That's very saddening... especially when one thinks about the many recent posts on intolerance and how you weakly tried to link it to certain groups. What is more intolerant than this?

Chana said...

Jewish Atheist,

I'm glad that you have the strength to put up an apology. That shows a lot about your character. :D It's why we love you.

Good job! And now, back to the introspection...

dbackdad said...

Thanks Sades. Ditto to you.

I'm kinda sorry that I missed out and didn't join the fray on the last one (didn't read the post till tonight) but from the looks of things all sides got represented pretty well. While I think the joke is a pretty valid deconstruction of Christianity, I wouldn't blame Christians for being offended by it's tone.

But, I am confused by the consistent claiming by Christians posting there that atheists don't have a "response for evil". Do we need one? It seems to be the oft-used tact by theists to make atheism into a religion. We are not claiming a "response" or reason for evil. We are not claiming omniscience and omnipotence, so the onus is really on Christianity to justify evil in the presence of an all-knowing God.

And secondly, from Stephen, " ... I do claim that life is absurd if there is no God: there is no purpose, there is no morality, there is no hope ... " - There's the big divide in a nutshell. Intellectually, I cannot even imagine being in that position. Life truly is absurd but would be even more so if (and there certainly may be) a God. And a life where I had to have my morality and hope given to me is not a life that I want to live. But, to each his own, I guess.

Keebo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ezzie said...

I live very happily as a religious Jew in this country and never once have I felt the pressure of any religion from this government. The closest I've had are restrictions due to secularism.

I think that's a fairly clear and obvious point.

Keebo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thanks for that JA, it's very generous of you to say that. Speaking personally, my objection really wasn't with your post - you're an atheist, you're entitled to post atheist stuff - as with some of the comments that followed it (the ones Sadie identified). I would have posted more but by the time I came back Stephen had said everything I wanted to say, only better...

Keebo, three Christians to my knowledge posted in that last thread (me, Sadie and Stephen) which, pray, of our comments came under the heading of "point their bony fingers of judgement at others and shout: "SINNER!""? I thought we were being pretty reasonable in the cirumstances.

Random

Keebo said...
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CyberKitten said...

Unfortunately no matter how we dress it up there is in fact two 'sides' to this debate. The variation between people is how much they think the other side is foolish in their beliefs. Even when we are being 'liberal' and polite about it all we're still thinking that the other 'side' is wrong.

Chana said...

Keebo,

Your sensationalist take on religion denies its very subtlety and the complex law structure in place. No, we don't do any of the things you just mentioned, and for very valid reasons, most of them (at least in Judaism) having to do with the legal codes involved and the judgement process (the existence/ nonexistence of the Sanhedrin.) If you were interested in hearing why certain parts of the Torah or Bible no longer are fulfilled through common practice, you would realize that your claims suggest a complete misunderstanding of the text and the religion. It's always easy to attack something when you villify it and exaggerate it, taking it to an extreme. It's far less easy to pick the Bible apart in a rational manner, understand how religion is really practiced and then calmly explain which parts you find problematic and why that is so. You, in your own way, are being just as extreme when it comes to interpreting religion as others have been in labeling atheists as "immoral, unethical" and the like.

beepbeepitsme said...

I understand keebo's point of view, but then, I am an atheist. I will address this to keebo so as to not create anymore division than is possible.

Atheists and perhaps agnostics wonder how many more wars we have to have between cultures/nations over their imaginary friends.

Each side always firmly convinced that their brand of imaginary friend is the "one true real one" and that their actions are sanctioned by this mind in the sky.

When they don't have different gods to fight over, they manage to have wars over whose religious sect is less true, or which sect of the SAME religion is "more true" than the other.

To some of us who sit outside this dynamic, it is akin to watching people fight and kill each other over which end of the egg they should open, the fat end, or the pointy end.

Stephen said...

In my view, the "quiz" put forward a valid argument in an unnecessarily provocative way. Sometimes there's a place for that kind of approach; maybe it will jog someone out of his or her complacency, and get them to think critically about their beliefs.

But on this blog, that approach isn't necessary. The theists who contribute here already think critically about their faith and try to avoid the worst extremes — those caricatured above by Keebo, who is in desperate need of a few lessons in self-critical thinking him/herself.

The "quiz" was bound to offend people and lead to a heated, "us vs. them" exchange. Thanks for owning up to your mistake, JA. I'm sure the post was well-intentioned.

Stephen said...

Dbackdad:
I am confused by the consistent claiming by Christians posting there that atheists don't have a "response for evil". Do we need one?

I didn't express myself with sufficient clarity. Atheists don't need to have a response to the problem of evil, if they are nihilists.

But if you want to be an atheist and yet maintain that life has purpose and meaning, then evil is a problem for you. Just as it is for the theist.

jewish philosopher said...

Now you're trying to make us think that atheists are all nice and sweet. Come one, where are your horns!

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "But if you want to be an atheist and yet maintain that life has purpose and meaning, then evil is a problem for you. Just as it is for the theist."

I am wondering how many strawman arguments you can fit in one sentence.

Frankly, I am amazed that some people can only find purpose and meaning by believing in some invisible mind in the sky.

beepbeepitsme said...

I can only speak for myself and not for other people who call themselves atheists, but the meaning of life is life. Life provides meaning and purpose.

To me, theists consider the meaning of life to be death. (Yes, I know you believe that you live after death, but it seems to me that you spend your lives wondering about what will happen to you after you are dead. That seems quite weird and pointless to me.)

CyberKitten said...

stephen said: But if you want to be an atheist and yet maintain that life has purpose and meaning, then evil is a problem for you. Just as it is for the theist.

Life in general has no meaning or purpose external to itself. Individuals give their own lives meaning & purpose (or not) by their actions, associations and beliefs. People can either discover meaning/purpose for themselves or they can buy 'off the shelf' purpose from various religions and ideologies.

Over and above that life has no 'purpose' - except maybe the production of more life.

'Evil' events such as hurricanes and earthquakes are natural consequences of living on a dynamic planet. 'Evil' people are either born that way due to physical brain issues or genetic defects but the majority are made by the societies they grow up in. There is *far* less of a 'problem' of evil for atheists than for theists.

How can you reconcile an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God with so much 'evil' evident in the world? Now *that's* a problem.

Sadie Lou said...

Random said...
I would have posted more but by the time I came back Stephen had said everything I wanted to say, only better...


Oh you did just fine with the few things you *did* say. The proof is in the quote of the original post.
:)
I agree, Stephen spoke very well. He often does. Except...
Thanks for owning up to your mistake, JA. I'm sure the post was well-intentioned.

Stephen, come on. Well intentioned? Um--hence the apology. I think JA is admitting the post was *not* well intentioned at all.

Beep said...
I will address this to keebo so as to not create anymore division than is possible.

What do you think about JA's resolve in the original post? Just curious.

Jewish Atheist said...

Busy today, folks. Please keep it civil until I get back. :-)

Jewish Atheist said...

Ok, found a moment.

Sadie: No hard feelings about anything right?

Of course not.

People who make outrageous claims about supernatural beings, and then point their bony fingers of judgement at others and shout: "SINNER!" , these people need to be belittled, laughed-at, and scorned.

There is a place for satire, but being too rude causes more harm than good. I'm not suggesting we pretend that absurd ideas are reasonable, but there are better ways to engage with theists.

Ezzie:

The last one however was in its own league and reinforced something I've often felt (summed up so well by Random): That many atheists [and I'll add in many liberals, academics, etc.] seriously believe that they are in fact superior to others.

Who doesn't? Republicans, Christians, Orthodox Jews, anti-intellectuals, etc. have huge segments that feel superior as well. You know that!

How absolutely bigoted and disgusting can one be?

Is it really that bad? The tone was mocking, and I've apologized, but I can't see how it was bigoted or disgusting.

How can we not assume that would atheists ever hold positions of power, they would force their own views on the rest of the populus?

Some would, some wouldn't. Just like theists. I'd promote secularism, not theism or atheism.

Are you really the person who puts up this apology, who regrets putting up this post because it was wrong and ridiculous? Or deep down, do you agree with that superiority feeling that the test gave off?

I regret the tone. I think a lot of the questions are legitimate challenges to mainstream religions. Sometimes I catch myself feeling superior. I think that's just human. It's not like theists are overwhelmingly humble either.

I'm glad that you have the strength to put up an apology. That shows a lot about your character. :D It's why we love you.

Thanks, Chana. :-)

Ezzie:

I live very happily as a religious Jew in this country and never once have I felt the pressure of any religion from this government. The closest I've had are restrictions due to secularism.

I know Jews in their early 20s who were forced to attend (Christian) prayer assemblies in public schools. There are also gay people who are discriminated against by the government in large part due to religion. It's true that the government is so far relatively secular, but there are those who are trying to change that.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "What do you think about JA's resolve in the original post? Just curious."

How JA conducts his blog is entirely at his own discretion.

Sadie Lou said...

Hi JA. I know you might not have time to respond but...
Is it really that bad? The tone was mocking, and I've apologized, but I can't see how it was bigoted or disgusting.

Which of the following is the most compelling evidence for the existence of an intelligent and loving Designer?

4. The speed of the Ebola virus converting an African child's organs into liquid


Oh yes. I choose that answer.

... you discover your neighbor's house is on fire. As the flames quickly spread, you stand and watch your neighbor's new baby burn to death...

JA, there are other ways to mock Christians without resorting to "humor" such as this--it is a little "disgusting".

Bigoted?
a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance

I don't think I could ever build a case against you for being bigoted but you provided a comments section to the post that certainly opened the door for bigotry--sure.

Jewish Atheist said...

Sadie:

4. The speed of the Ebola virus converting an African child's organs into liquid

Again, the tone is irreverent, to say the least, but this is a (devastating, in my mind) challenge to intelligent design.

... you discover your neighbor's house is on fire. As the flames quickly spread, you stand and watch your neighbor's new baby burn to death...

Metaphor for God's inaction during the Holocaust or that big tsunami in Asia. He's all-powerful, but allowed millions of innocent people to be slaughtered. Another serious theological challenge.

I don't think I could ever build a case against you for being bigoted but you provided a comments section to the post that certainly opened the door for bigotry--sure.

I hate bigotry, but am not responsible for bigoted comments, whether it's a theist saying gay people should be killed (true story) or an atheist caricaturisating Christians.

Sadie Lou said...

Again, the tone is irreverent, to say the least, but this is a (devastating, in my mind) challenge to intelligent design.

Okay. Let me see if I can wrestle with this because I have ideas in my head about this but I always come up short or at a loss for words...
The Bible tells us that we live in a fallen state of creation. It used to be perfect and now it's not. Disease and natural disasters are the result of this fallen state. Not to mention the spiritual state of man.
So, for you, an unbeliever, you look at disease and catastrophe and you think that all of those things are natural, right?
But when you hear Christians speak of an all powerful, All knowing, all present God--you wonder why natural disasters and disease and man's violence against each other are allowed? It just doesn't sit well with my mind--it never has. Without God in the picture you're perfectly fine to accept that man should accept responsibility for it's own actions (violence against each other, the rape of the the earth) but the minute you throw God into the picture, all responsibility is removed off of man and directly placed on God?
Why? Why would you want our humanity stripped of us in order to believe in God?

I hate bigotry, but am not responsible for bigoted comments, whether it's a theist saying gay people should be killed (true story) or an atheist caricaturisating Christians.

I'm not saying you are but often times the tone set by the blog admin is the tone that follows--I don't get any bigotry on my blog-comments or otherwise--I won't stand for it on either side.

Jewish Atheist said...

The Bible tells us that we live in a fallen state of creation.

The Bible tells us that God is punishing all of humanity because of two peoples' sins. If that's true, I don't think such a God could be considered good. Also, it strikes me as a "just so" story, not a historical fact.

Scott said...

First off it’s admirable of you JA to post this general apology.

Second, I know many atheists and they are true to what they believe. In other words they wouldn’t spend any more time trying to convince me that there is no God than I, as a Christian, would trying to convince someone else there is no such thing as unicorns. People like Keebo don't seem very atheistic to me, they just seem like people who want to argue shit that doesn't matter much.

I’m not sure I’ll ever understand why evangelical atheists spend so much time arguing religion. Or what the benefits of the debate are to either side.

Keebo said...
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Scott said...

You'll probably not find many Christians here or anywhere that'll hold a candle for Fred Phelps or his minions.
.
Instead of talking as if everything is "they vs. we" why don't you just talk to poeple.
.
There are plenty of Christians here so why don't you talk to them, adn address the points they've made directly, instead of refering to everyone you don't like as "they".
.
Why are you so angry?

BEAJ said...

I don't paints theists with the same brush, some are much more ridiculous than others when it comes to their beliefs.

Keebo said...
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Stephen said...

Beepbeep:
The meaning of life is life. Life provides meaning and purpose.

I wonder, what did you think of the Terri Schiavo controversy? Was her life meaningful, because merely being alive is innately meaningful and purposive?

None of you will respond to the issue as I have raised it. If this world is it — our one kick at the can — how is life meaningful for the large percentage of the world's population that lives in grinding poverty: day after day, year after year, generation after generation?

How is life meaningful for those who are severely handicapped, or require drugs to mask continual pain?

How do atheists deal with the problem of evil? It is too glib simply to say, "the meaning of life is life." I guess there's no problem if you duck your head in the sand and don't look at the problem.

Scott said...

Well "we" do not teach children. Children are taught by individuals. If you're opposing the State's monopoly on education and mandatory curriculum's then I'm right there with ya brother. However, if you're just one of those assholes like Fred Phelps who want to tell me what I have to teach my kids then we're not going to see eye to eye on much of the educational stuff.

Still, education has nothing to do with whether God exists, so I fail to see the relevance to this topic.

Jewish Atheist said...

Keebo,

Fred Phelps and his family are not remotely representative of Christians. I agree that Pat Robertson says terribly hateful things and should be called out on it (especially by other Christians, who shouldn't want people to think they agree with him.) I posted about Jesus Camp and I think it's terrifying. I think opposing gay marriage is wrongheaded in the same way that opposing miscegenation was.

But not all theists are bad. Not all atheists are good. Even many theists who think gay sex is sinful, for example, are otherwise good people, just as I'm sure many people who wouldn't want their white daughter to marry a black guy can be otherwise good people. (I suspect that sentence will offend some theists who think gay sex is sinful, but it's okay to offend -- that's not the same thing as mocking or ridiculing.) People aren't all one thing or all the other (except perhaps Fred Phelps et al.)

Jewish Atheist said...

stephen:

How do atheists deal with the problem of evil? It is too glib simply to say, "the meaning of life is life." I guess there's no problem if you duck your head in the sand and don't look at the problem.

There is no problem of evil for atheists. There's no reason evil shouldn't exist, except that we would prefer it didn't. The universe doesn't always go along with our wishes. There is no objective meaning, no ultimate purpose, nor objective morality.

How to cope with those beliefs, which I agree atheism implies, has been dealt with by many philosophers in many different ways. There are of course the nihilists, but there are also humanists, existentialists, hedonists, and, perhaps the majority, people who don't worry about it and just live their lives.

Jewish Atheist said...

scott:

Still, education has nothing to do with whether God exists, so I fail to see the relevance to this topic.

To prevent someone else from saying this less nicely ;-) I'll just point out that, statistically speaking, there is a pretty significant inverse correlation between religion and theistic belief.

Jewish Atheist said...

(Oops, I meant education and theistic belief.)

Keebo said...
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Scott said...

They can say it as nice or as mean as they want to but it's still irrelevant to the topic. The main strife atheists and theists seem to have with each other is not there beliefs, but the thought that the other is trying to force their views down their throats. The METHOD of forcing those beliefs is entirely separate from the actual belief itself.

Keebo said...
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CyberKitten said...

stephen asked:

As i posted earlier......

'Evil' events such as hurricanes and earthquakes are natural consequences of living on a dynamic planet. 'Evil' people are either born that way due to physical brain issues or genetic defects but the majority are made by the societies they grow up in. There is *far* less of a 'problem' of evil for atheists than for theists.

How can you reconcile an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving God with so much 'evil' evident in the world? Now *that's* a problem.

CyberKitten said...

Of course what I missed off was stephens *question*... which was:

How do atheists deal with the problem of evil?

See my answer *above* [grin].

Anonymous said...

Keebo:

"Don't tell me to "pray.""

Oh, good grief. Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd definition -

"b In imper. Please. (Adding deference or politeness to a question etc.) Now arch. & formal. me."

Nothing automatically to do with God at all. Maybe it's a British thing (using excessive formality as a substitute for sarcasm?) or something.

"Very similar to the way Christians behaved during the Inquisition. The only way society was able to move past that violent and shameful chapter was by learning to ignore big sections of the "perfect-word-of-God.""

Ooookay. I don't normally do this sort of thing at JA's place because he's too intelligent to say anything like that, but I'll play a game with you (Beep can join in, as he said something equally fatuous). Let's take the Holy Inquisition and set it against an equivalent Atheist organisation - the NKVD, say - and measure the relative body counts and see where we stand. Heck, I'll even take a ten million head start. You'll still come out well ahead, even though the atheists were killing over a period of decades instead of centuries. And we'll have no "no true Scotsman" fallacies if you don't mind, as you apparently have already ruled that one out with respect to the Holy Office.

Random

Keebo said...
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Keebo said...
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Keebo said...
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Anonymous said...

"Oh, right! The word "pray", when used in a sarcastic, overly formal form of speech, has absolutely NO roots to religion."

Nope. The specific religious sense of the word "pray" derived from the more generic one of to ask or beseech not the other way round. I think I'll take the OED's word on this over yours, frankly. and for what it's worth, the religious sense of the word didn't occur to me when I wrote it - as I said, the way I used it is a perfectly legitimate alternative meaning to the word.

"And, by the way, atheists never kill and/or torture people in order to spread the "Word of Atheism.""

So it looks like the "no true Scotsman" defence after all then. Oh and BTW the Russian Orthodox Church has canonised something like 1,500 saints from the Soviet period, 1,400 of whom are recognised as martyrs for the faith at the hands of atheists. And that's only those Orthodox who bore sufficient witness to the faith in death to deserve special recognition and have fulfilled the specific requirements for canonisation (I have no idea if they are the same in Orthodoxy as they are in Catholicism). There were many, many more who were killed in more "mundane" circumstances, as well as Muslims, Jews, Buddhists and other denominations of Christian who were killed.

(Just saw your latest past)

"The NKVD was spreading the Word of Fascism. "

Erm, the NKVD was also known as the Sword and Shield of the Party. The COMMUNIST party...

"They did NOT believe in God, but that does not mean that their goal was convincing people of the "Truth of Atheism.""

Tell that to the League of Militant Godless, another arm of the Communist Party, which played a key role in the destruction of the monasteries, amongst other things.

Random

Keebo said...
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Keebo said...
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Scott said...

One gets the feeling that keebo is a "talk till the other guy gives up" kinda fellow.

I give up.

And I'm reminded once again why I do deplore, and avoid, these debates.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "I wonder, what did you think of the Terri Schiavo controversy? Was her life meaningful, because merely being alive is innately meaningful and purposive?"

The experiences of one's life provide meaning and purpose. Sometimes that meaning and purpose is distinctly your own and at other times, other people's lives impact upon our own.

This was not an appeal to the sacredness of life. It was the statement that life, the process of living, is where we find meaning and purpose, either as an individual, or as a group.

beepbeepitsme said...

beaj:

RE: "I don't paint theists with the same brush, some are much more ridiculous than others when it comes to their beliefs."

And some of them have beliefs which are more dangerous than others.

People like keebo, and this is only my opinion based on what I have seen him/her write here, probably see even the most "liberal theists" as enabling those who have beliefs which are distinctly more dangerous than their own.

And there may be a case for this.

swurgle said...

This discussion proves that a person's belief in a diety or lack thereof has no bearing on whether that person is a decent human being. There are decent people on both sides of the debate. There are also dumbasses on both sides of the debate.

My goal as a humanist is to try to live life with humility and respect for all living things. I don't always succeed, but I try to keep that goal in mind at all times.

Some people find solace and meaning in their relationship to a diety. I find solace and meaning in striving for ideals that I think are important in myself and in society. I also enjoy the spiritual uplift that I get when I play music with other people.

beepbeepitsme said...

RE: "How do atheists deal with the problem of evil? It is too glib simply to say, "the meaning of life is life." I guess there's no problem if you duck your head in the sand and don't look at the problem."

"With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion." -
Steven Weinberg

I believe that.

Ezzie said...

JA - Basically, the examples Sadie said and the tone used.

Following that, you're basically asking the old "how can God allow evil to exist", which has been answered in numerous fashions over the millenia. I suggest reading - it's just 50 pages or so - Aryeh Kaplan's "If we were God". It's good regardless of religion, IMO.

As for whether there are people in every circle who feel they are superior - yes, absolutely, there are. To some extent, we all do. But as a set of beliefs? Sorry, I don't think so. When one friend expressed such a superiority in high school, in a class of only Orthodox Jewish boys, the Rebbe took him to task, citing source after source showing him why he's a fool for thinking so. But to see that even among reasonable atheists that this superiority complex exists makes me wonder if all have it, as I have almost never seen one who does not.

As for your note about intolerance, yes, surely, there are a few individual instances where religious people have pushed their beliefs on others - and there are nearly as many (more if you factor how many religious people vs. secular) cases that happen in reverse. My point was that while it won't ever be perfect, we're pretty darn close in this country. I've *never* felt any other religion forced upon me despite being an obviously Orthodox Jew. I would bet, however, that people such as Keebo would love to slowly banish my beliefs and practices one by one because they think it to be foolish. And therein lies a major problem: I question whether even secularists who are atheists could hold back from doing so if they were to be in power, as they feel it to be so utterly stupid, primitive, and barbaric. But when it's simply another religion in power, there seems to be a balance of "well, I don't believe what you do, and you don't believe what I do, but let's just each do our own thing".

Keebo said...
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Anonymous said...

"One gets the feeling that keebo is a "talk till the other guy gives up" kinda fellow."

Scott nails it. Keebo's latest defies parody:-/

Random

beepbeepitsme said...

Actually, the problem of evil was first mentioned, I think, by jonathan in the previous post.

I also mentioned it.

"If God is willing to prevent evil, but is not able to
Then He is not omnipotent.
If He is able, but not willing Then He is malevolent.
If He is both able and willing Then whence cometh evil?
If He is neither able nor willing Then why call Him God?" - commonly attributed to Epicurus

CyberKitten said...

*So* much started with the Greeks..... Makes me proud to be European [grin].

Anonymous said...

I commend your desire for a nuanced dialogue. That being said, you ought not feel bad for the post. Once upon a time, the religious would have killed you for it. Don't feel too bad for a little laugh at their expense.