Joan, I think you wrote some of the following in haste and with out re-reading what you wrote. But I will respond to it as is.
You say theism(should be atheism) does not have principles and has nothing to offer the world.
I think you made a typing error here, and yes I still think atheism has no principles.
Most people are not honest, dependable, loyal, responsible, and compassionate because of a deity, they think and act with these attributes out of enlightened self-interest and an innate sense of morals and ethics.
If they have an 'innate sense of morals and ethics' how can they act 'not honest', 'not dependable', 'not responsible' and 'not compassionately'?
I think you wrote the above two paragraphs in haste.
They learn very young about getting what they need by getting along with others and working with others.
Some who do not believe god exists give time, attention, care and money generously to others because they care and have compassion.
I agree. I've met many Christians, here in Australia, who also give generously, in time, attention, care and in money. One of my aunties is a Christian, she did voluntary work from the age of 13 until she was about 80 years of age. She helped return soldiers from WW2 when they first started to come home traumatized by war and she helped heroin addicts by preparing meals for them until it became too dangerous for her to do so. And she is not the only Christian to do this.
But your example and my example have nothing to do with atheism or christianity. People help others because of their own moral code that they develop over time.
Children learn by observing parents and others; their values grow as they develop into adulthood and they pass social skills on to their next generation. Parents, siblings, family, friends, teachers and community live according to values of the community and teach by doing and by shaping behaviors. No god is necessary.
I agree. And I'd like to add that atheism and christianity have nothing to do with what children learn.
In some families the godly men beat their wives and children in the name of god.
There are probably atheists who also beat there wives.
Enlightened parents realize there are other ways to raise healthy children. They do not believe in "spare the rod and spoil the child".
Agreed. And just because somebody is a Christian doesn't mean they are not enlightened.
Atheists don't rob or rape or murder or embezzle because they do not believe god exists; they commit crimes for similar reasons as people who believe god does exist.
Great minds and talents exist in those who believe there is no god. I won't bore you with the long list of outstanding people who do not believe god exists ... you can look them up yourself.
Just because an Atheist has done something great doesn't mean atheism has great principles. And by the same token, if a Christian does something great, it doesn't mean God exists.
Atheism is the non-belief in God. That's it. If you are anti-religious or a person high high moral values, and I think you are a person with high moral values after reading many of your posts, it doesn't mean your morals came from atheism. They came from you.
If all our morals came from atheism, then we would all have the same morals and the same level of morality. But this isn't the case. We have different morals and different levels of morality. This is because our morals come from us. They have nothing to do with atheism.
I get your point that my examples did not address the question. Atheism is non-belief in a supernatural being or events. I do think that atheist have a moral foundation upon which to stand, not left adrift to go hither and yon, or to flounder in storms or be rudderless when facing challenges. It seems there is an internal compass that can guide us. It is not supernatural but very natural. I am having problems finding the language for what I want to say, but I am pleased you brought this to my attention.
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?