I think I know what you mean. For example: Why do I believe it wrong to take another persons life, or steal money? Why do I think it important to have children be able read and write and to learn and think for themselves. There is no heaven or hell. If I murder and/or rob somebody, I'm not going to hell. If I help somebody, I'm not going to heaven.
I am having problems finding the language for what I want to say
Me too. I can give examples or anecdotes about what I think my/our innate moral codes are. But ask me to explain them, or why I/we have them, in concrete terms....well, I wouldn't know where to start.
How are things?
Leveni, if atheism consists of the single principle that gods do not exist, it still offers a tremendous boon to society. This single realization frees the mind from generations of useless structures which have drastically hamstrung society.
If you look at most of the oldest surviving buildings in the world, what are they used for? They are used for religious purposes. Maybe it was religion that allowed people to amass in great numbers to form the populations of our first cities, and because of that, great buildings were able to be built, firstly religious buildings and later on administrative buildings. And from that, the birth of architecture, mathematics and astronomy. Religion may have been a necessary step, to what we have become today. But this doesn't mean what religions preach is true. And it doesn't mean religions are in anyway good. If you look at the Aztec's, their religion was evil, not that the Catholics were any better. or any other religion. Personally, I think religion was one of the major instigators of the mind we have today. But that instigation occurred thousands of years ago.
Today I agree with you, in that religion stops people from developing their minds. It stops so many poeple from seeing the beauty in nature and the universe, that people like Carl Sagan saw. Believing in religion today is like trying to use classical mechanics in the quantum world.
The Christian Dark Ages (roughly 1,000 CE to 1,500 CE) and Muslim Dark Ages (roughly 1,500 CE to now) can be blamed entirely on the mind-numbing effects of belief in the supernatural. Sure, this intersected with cultural and political effects, but the basic idea is that God is all we need concern ourselves with. This is a powerfully harmful meme. If eroding this meme is all that atheism offers, then that is one of the most important principles in history, and not something to overlook, as you appear to have done.
Religion certainly was the tool used by the leaders of those times to force their own personal value systems onto others. But do you honestly believe if everybody in the world became atheists, the world would suddenly become a nice place? If it did that would be great but I don't think it will. But no harm in hoping.
Further, as a principle, the absence of god-belief leads almost directly to other important principles, such as the practical, socially-driven nature of morality, the importance of living well in this life, rather than postponing one's happiness to an afterlife paradise which isn't there, the elimination of the fear of a hell which isn't there, and the embrace of actual reality and personal responsibility, since there isn't anything else to be concerned with.
You are seriously short-changing atheism if you think it has nothing to offer,
I disagree. Atheism still has nothing to offer.
In my mind, you are just replacing 'religion' with 'ethics and morals'. You are not discarding religion but replacing it with something else. You are trying to justify your atheism.
I believe all of our morals and everything else come from ourselves. They are all man-made. They have nothing to do with religion and nothing to do with atheism.
and it's a little weird that you'd bother hanging out on an atheist website if you truly believe that.
I truly believe atheism has nothing to offer. What you are talking about is a consequence of suddenly becoming free to think anything and everything you want.
But maybe you are right. Atheists are people who don't believe in God. For me, this is not good enough. For me, there is no God, never has been, never will be.
Atheism does not imply or require secular humanism, rationalism, philosophical naturalism, empiricism, skepticism, social liberalism, or utilitarian ethics. Many of us share these -isms, adopted before or after we became atheists. But plenty of people don't.
Just to clarify my point: I hope you also agree with the following:
Many Christians also share these -isms, before they became Christians and after they became Christians.
Atheism has nothing to do with these -isms, and neither does Christianity.
These -ism did not create themselves. The concept of these -isms came first, via the human brain. People were already thinking along these -isms lines. We then started to clarify these lines of thoughts, and naming them is a part of that clarification. Atheism never played a role in any of these -isms and neither did Christianity. Living humans are the sole creators of all the -isms.
Originally I miss read your reply, and thought it somebody else who wrote it. And rather than start from scratch again, I edited what I originally wrote. So it came out a bit funny. Sorry for the confusion.
Allow me to figure out what I am trying to think here.
I agree, atheism, christianity and other isms do not ... ???
Let me get concrete. An individual feels confused, afraid, vulnerable, helpless and turns to christianity because of the confidence of the adherents. He/she feels supported and able to let go and let god. They do not find their internal wisdom and power and responsibility.
The individual's goal is to feel safety, security and stability.
His/her options are:
+find external powers to meet his/her needs;
+find internal powers;
+continue feeling vulnerable, helpless, hopeless;
+get drunk or some other ego defense mechanism to self-medicate undesirable feelings.
Leveni, you wrote, "I truly believe atheism has nothing to offer. What you are talking about is a consequence of suddenly becoming free to think anything and everything you want."
I don't understand your meaning that atheism has nothing to offer. Becoming free to think is a wonderful thing. No puppet strings coming from moms or dads or dogma or traditions. Being free to think means one has the ability to use all the senses to input data unlinked with shoulda or oughta or gotta. Yes, that leaves the possibility for wild abandon, and that has its pros and cons.
For example, when a man or woman reveals his/her homosexuality and experiences rejection, the problem lies, not in homosexuality, but in not being able and willing to see reality.
Thanks for the distinctions. It seems my experiences are more complex than I thought. Now I shall clear up my understanding of each concept. I learned something today and appreciate your input.
I wish I wrote what Aaron said. But he beat me to it. And thanks for putting the time and energy it to understanding my point of view.
You guys make good sense. Thanks. Joan
You say, "Maybe it was religion that allowed people to amass in great numbers to form the populations of our first cities, and because of that, great buildings were able to be built, firstly religious buildings and later on administrative buildings. And from that, the birth of architecture, mathematics and astronomy. Religion may have been a necessary step, to what we have become today."
That is pure conjecture and an argument from ignorance. What we know for sure from the historical record is that belief in the supernatural has done tremendous harm to human happiness and human progress, while at the same time providing some level of psychological comfort. On balance, I think it has been a disaster for the species and the planet.
I agree that atheism is an inexorable result of logical thinking, but that it also may be arrived at thru less rational means. Regardless, once achieved, atheism is a valuable springboard to further intellectual and psychological progress for the individual as well as for society at large. It is simply bizarre that you would insist this is not so, that it has nothing to offer. By eliminating a huge source of confusion (Skydaddy did it, Skydaddy will fix it, Skydaddy explains it), atheism allows a much clearer view of reality. This is obviously no guarantee against further error, such as the various forms of woo that many atheists fall victim to, but at least in this one important regard, atheists are better grounded in reality that god-believers. How can that not be valuable?
That is pure conjecture
Yep, it sure is,
I'd say most of our history, if not all of it, is pure conjecture. But my conjecture is based on: Why are the oldest surviving buildings mostly of a religious nature? And, what was it that allowed our ancestors to build bigger and better religious buildings? Was it by magic, or did they learn through the experience of building simple religious buildings at first and then get better and better at it. Writing down how they build the better buildings so others could do the same and build on what was learned before hand.
and an argument from ignorance.
???, hehe :)
What we know for sure from the historical record is that belief in the supernatural has done tremendous harm to human happiness and human progress, while at the same time providing some level of psychological comfort. On balance, I think it has been a disaster for the species and the planet.
Ok. Sure. But that doesn't mean my original statement is false. Astronomy comes straight from religion. Our first attempts to explain the stars were religious explanations. Your hatred of religion is blinding you from historical truth. Just because I believe the beginnings of architecture, maths and astronomy were originally developed because of religion doesn't mean I am pro-religion. I am neither pro nor anti-religion.
I agree that atheism is an inexorable result of logical thinking, but that it also may be arrived at thru less rational means. Regardless, once achieved, atheism is a valuable springboard to further intellectual and psychological progress for the individual as well as for society at large.
I prefer to look at atheism as the non-existence of God. Nothing more. If you start adding things to atheism, you begin to do exactly what the religious have done with their religions.
We all start off as atheists. It isn't until we are told about God, when we are children, that we become Christians. Some of us, like myself, have never experienced religion and I guess I never will. The closest I can get to it is by listening to Christians who continuously make contradictory statements, and believing both versions of their own contradiction. (<- does that sentence makes sense?) I often wonder why Christians never see how they contradict themselves. My favourite example is "God made the universe, he made the earth go around the sun, and he made the sun rise in the east and set in the west, everyday." I love it when I hear this, it always makes me smile and I almost always laugh out loud, but I always hold back my laughter.
It is simply bizarre that you would insist this is not so, that it has nothing to offer.
I think it bizarre that you think atheism is more than not believing in God. All the things that you say atheism brings? All those things have nothing to do with atheism. But if you have kids and you want to indoctrinate them with the 'truth' about atheism, go ahead.
By eliminating a huge source of confusion (Skydaddy did it, Skydaddy will fix it, Skydaddy explains it)
Look at it from my point of view. I never eliminated the Skydaddy. He was never there for me. He has never been a part of my life. The elimination of the Skydaddy will never happen for me. Maybe this is the source of the confusion that exists between us.
atheism allows a much clearer view of reality. This is obviously no guarantee against further error, such as the various forms of woo that many atheists fall victim to
This answers a question I was going to put to you.
but at least in this one important regard, atheists are better grounded in reality that god-believers.
"When an Atheist hears voices in his head he thinks he should go and see a doctor but when a Christian hears voices in his head he thinks he is talking with God" I've read this statement a couple of times on various atheist websites. I think I've read it here also.
How can that not be valuable?
I understand what your are saying and what you have said all along. The points I have made above are an attempt to clarify my position rather than contradict anything you have said.
I still don't think atheism has anything to offer. I think that in general, atheists are people who think about things more deeply than non-atheist. Therefore, when you say:
Regardless, once achieved, atheism is a valuable springboard to further intellectual and psychological progress for the individual as well as for society at large.
I'm not too sure if it is the atheism that allows the progress you are talking about or if it is the fact that the Atheists, you are referring to, already have an innate ability to progress.
Leveni, I asked the same question, "Why are the oldest surviving buildings mostly of a religious nature?"
I have been in great cathedrals in Mexico, England, France, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, Hungary, Turkey, and inquired at libraries, at churches, and talked to people in pubs about the conditions when the great monstrous cathedrals were built. What was their condition, economically, socially, politically, and spiritually? The common answer was that people who paid for the construction and who built the buildings were very poor, very afraid of that god in the sky and afraid of the clergy. In Mexico, for example, the common people were virtual slaves to the churches, supported by imperialist countries. In fact, colonizers used religion to gain control over native populations. Exploitation, domination, and control provide powerful forces for natives to submit through fear or through devotion to a spiritual power. The carvings on roofs where people could not see them were as beautiful as those seen by everyone; the carvers stated they carved for god, not man.