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Debate: Atheism

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- +*'''Religious Dogma provides a Repository for Social Wisdom''' Even if one assumes the foundational theological premises of religions are false, competing religious beliefs about proper personal and social behavior acts as a social "genetic code". Societies and sub-societies in the past prospered in a virtual form of natural selection based on the amount of wisdom encoded in their religious doctrine. Examples of "unclean" foods and practices which predate scientific knowledge of germs, suggest similar social wisdom may be encoded in religious proscriptions. Until and unless we fully develop a rigorous, empirical science of social behavior, and evolve non-religious disciplines and institutions to serve this role we should not lightly dismiss religion based social wisdom.
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Revision as of 16:31, 16 November 2009

Is atheism a sound (un)religious philosophy in the modern world?

Background and context

From Wikipedia Atheism:

Atheism, as an explicit position, either affirms the nonexistence of gods or rejects theism. When defined more broadly, atheism is the absence of belief in deities, alternatively called nontheism.Although atheism is often equated with irreligion, some religious philosophies, such as secular theology and some varieties of Buddhism such as Theravada do not include belief in a personal god as a tenet of the religion.

Many self-described atheists are skeptical of all supernatural beings and cite a lack of empirical evidence for the existence of deities. Others argue for atheism on philosophical, social or historical grounds. Although many self-described atheists tend toward secular philosophies such as humanism and naturalism, there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere.The term atheism originated as a pejorative epithet applied to any person or belief in conflict with established religion. With the spread of freethought, scientific skepticism, and criticism of religion, the term began to gather a more specific meaning and has been increasingly used as a self-description by atheists.

Contents

God's existence: Is there no God or religious deities?

Yes

  • There is no God. There is no actual proof that god exists. Everyone who says god exists, always give mysteries, not facts, as proof.
  • If God exists, why would he make humans so ignorant of His mysteries. It God exists, wouldn't he want us to know clearly that he existed? Why would he keep it so secret and mysterious, sowing doubt in the minds of men about his existence?
  • If God exists, he is a fallible God. If God exists, than everything we don't know must be God's fault.
  • Explaining phenomena as God's miracles prevents true discovery. There are certainly many mysteries in the world that we don't fully understand, but if we dismiss them as remnants of god's finger touching earth, then we might not actually find out what really caused them.
  • Faith is an evolved genetic trait that aids social stability The common factor amongst all religions are that they are all brought about by DNA codes that instruct the release of endocrinological excretions or brain juices that mesmerize us into hankering after and believing in the existence of a powerful and unique deity. My theory is that over 3 or 4 million years, clans were, and are, the successful basis for the development of humanity. The glue that kept clans together evolved because of the success of the closer-knit clans and was the origin of those DNA transported behavioural manipulating endorphins and dopamines that make us gregarious and feel happy and loved as part of the group. The existence and success of a clan, like all subsequent group organizations, depends on its leadership around which it can crystallize into its efficient pyramidal form. Faith, and the connection of a leader to that faith, enforced leadership structures and subsequent social cohesion and stability. Thus is survived through evolution. Yet, it is merely a product of evolution for social benefit in more primitive times. Faith and religion are not actually real.


No

  • That "there is no God" an unprovable premise. The statement "There is no God" is not logically provable, since it entails proving the existence of a universal negative. To make such a statement requires complete knowledge of everything which exists. But no person has infinite knowledge, hence the statement is groundless.
  • There are, in fact, many proofs of God's existence Anyone who does not acknowledge the existence of such proofs, clearly does not understand the debate.
  • If God exists, why doesn't he reveal himself more clearly. On the one hand, God's existence is clear through what he has made. On the other hand, God's full nature is hidden. There are good reasons why God might want to hide himself from us. For instance, if, in this world, humans are meant to choose to accept or reject God, for God to reveal himself fully would take away free choice, since upon seeing a being so powerful and desirable, all people would be compelled to follow him.
  • Explaining phenomena as God's miracles prevents true discovery. Whether explained or not, all phenomena can be called miracles, since we do not know whether things exist apart from an act of God's creation, or by God's special creation. Calling something a miracle need not inhibit scientific study of that thing in any way. In fact, viewing phenomena as God's creation is more likely to lead to the discovery of the nature and operations of the phenomena, than if we view it as a product of naturalism, in which case we will be trying to fit all our observations into a certain theory (evolution, for example), and we will waste time with groundless speculation about the evolutionary development of that phenomena, which could be better spent on acquiring knowledge about the phenomena.
  • Atheism is nothing more than an evolved genetic trait. If you are a philosophical naturalist, claiming that “Faith” is merely a product of evolution, then you must also agree that your own beliefs about atheism are a product of evolution, thus bringing the credibility of both beliefs equally into question. If we (humans) are no more than just one aspect of a purely natural existence, where nature relies on mechanisms such as Natural Selection to ensure the continuing evolution of the world, how can one say that they have “stepped outside” of the sphere of natural selection and into a real understanding of the workings of the universe? With Nature and its specific species only concerned with continuing to adapt and exist, claiming to have beliefs that are not influenced by, or a result of, the process of Evolution would require one to step outside the realm of what is natural.



Religious philosophy: Are religious philosophies generally harmful or beneficial in society?

Yes

  • Reality and the laws of nature are independent of man and faith. A tree is a tree, a table is a table - A is A. Man's reasoning mind is his only means of survival. And therefor, he can only take facts of reality as truth. Or, to put it another way, wishing won't make it so. Religion advocates the premise of an omnipotent, omniscient, mystical being - a being whose only definition is that he is beyond man's power to conceive.
  • If you believe in God, then you reject reason. Reason is man's only means of survival. For example, if a hungry person needs food he must use his reasoning mind to establish the best method of obtaining food, and then act upon his decision. If he ignores his mind and preys for food, he will starve - and that is a fact of reality. Existence exists independent of man's mind, or to put it simply, A is A. Every argument for god's existence is fundamentally floored. As is the phrase: "you can't prove god doesn't exist." First of all, you cannot be called upon to prove a negative. How can somebody disprove a concept if there is no evidence to support it? Again, to put it simply, observe the following conversation: Person X - "I just observed two pigs flying while you were looking the other way"; Person Y - "That's impossible"; Person X - "I did, I just seen two flying pigs"; Person Y - "Prove it"; Person X - "Disprove it".
  • All victors unfortunately believe that God is on their side. Another fallacy, which should be understood by those who advocate an omnipotent, omniscient, mystical father figure, who contradicts every law of nature, and who destroys mans mind by faking reality, should note this: a person achieves, he thanks god. a person fails, he blames himself. Do you see where this leads?


No

  • Religion gives people something outside of themselves to live for. Morals and right and wrong come directly from religion. If a person has no religion, then there is no standard of personal morals other than what feels good, or what they want to do. Religion provides a basis on which to build a meaningful life.
  • Regarding the atheists’ premise “If you believe in God, then you reject reason.” The author fails to provide evidence for this statement, and daily life and common sense both show that this is not a sound statement. According to the argument that follows under the initial premise, if one believes in God then he ought to be starving to death: “… if a hungry person needs food he must use his reasoning mind to establish the best method of obtaining food, and then act upon his decision.” Because people who believe in God “reject reason” the author is saying that those people must be either dead, starving, or have someone feeding them, which is obviously not the case. The fact that “existence exists independent of man’s mind” does nothing to advance the initial premise. Finally the author spends time stating that one cannot prove a negative, which is true, but does nothing to promote the initial premise of “If you believe in God, then you reject reason.”


  • Religious Dogma provides a Repository for Social Wisdom Even if one assumes the foundational theological premises of religions are false, competing religious beliefs about proper personal and social behavior acts as a social "genetic code". Societies and sub-societies in the past prospered in a virtual form of natural selection based on the amount of wisdom encoded in their religious doctrine. Examples of "unclean" foods and practices which predate scientific knowledge of germs, suggest similar social wisdom may be encoded in religious proscriptions. Until and unless we fully develop a rigorous, empirical science of social behavior, and evolve non-religious disciplines and institutions to serve this role we should not lightly dismiss religion based social wisdom.

Religious institutions: Are religious institutions generally harmful?

Yes

  • Religious institutions are a major driver of war. That may be true but religion all around has caused some of the most high death tolling wars in history such as the crusades. Religion may preach peace but tends to promote fighting amongst people of different religions.
  • Problems of religious institutions favors, by default, atheism. If religious institutions have some inherent flaws, certainly this favors atheism on many levels as an alternative.


No

  • Religion has helped people better themselves and world. Religious Institutions have helped many people do things they otherwise could have not such as quit smoking, stop drinking alcohol, and help many convicted felons turn a new leaf. They also have many volunteer programs within them and are an all around good place to make friends and have fun.
  • Acts of religious institutions are irrelevant to faith and atheism. The actions and beliefs of religious institutions are irrelevant to the debate of whether or not Atheism is a sound philosophy, as well as to the issue of evidence for or against God. An idea or philosophy is true or false apart from any institution, organization, or person that may claim to believe or follow that philosophy. One must look at the worldview in question and from that decide whether it fits with what we see in the universe.


External links

American Atheists

See also

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