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Thread: Everyone Is An Atheist

  1. #1
    Senior Member TortoiseDream's Avatar
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    Everyone Is An Atheist

    Just some people are more atheist than others, and it's usually not by much. Think about it. Even the most convinced religious fellow rejects without a moment's pause 999,999 of the other potential gods s/he could believe in. If they applied exactly the same logic and reasoning to the one god they believe in, they'd be a full fledged atheist. Just one more. But alas, we all know that religion is indoctrinated into us when we are young. The children of Muslim/Jewish/Christian parents, not surprisingly, usually end up being Muslims/Jews/Christians.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Senior Member Charles Stover's Avatar
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    I forget who popularized the infamous quote about this. Dawkins paraphrased it (and all searches for it return Dawkins ). 'Tis a great quote, though.

    source
    There's an argument that doesn't really work for me. It's the “one god further” argument. It goes something like this:
    (An atheist to, say, a Christian) “You don't believe in Thor, in Zeus, in Bael, in Poseidon. You are an atheist about all those gods. I just go one god further”.
    Why doesn't it work? It doesn't work because it doesn't recognise what belief is about, and what it feels like. This can be seen if you try this out this kind of argument in other areas of life, not religion.
    Vegetarian to typical British carnivore: “You don't eat bear, or badger, or snake. You are vegetarian about those meats. I just go a few meats more.”
    Or perhaps this works better:
    Teetotaller to typical drinker: “You are teetotal with respect to mead, and grog, I just go a few drinks further”.
    That's probably closer, given the somewhat drug-like nature of some religion.
    So what exactly are the problems with the “one god further” argument? The first is in the same way as being teetotal is nothing like choosing one drink over another, atheism is nothing like rejecting one set of gods for another. Nothing at all. The second is that reasons for rejecting one belief system in place of another aren't like the reasons for going all the way to atheism from theism. There may be deep, sometimes violent, differences between religions, but when pushed, believers do tend to say that it's important to believe in something spiritual, no matter what it is. And that's the key thing. What tends to be shared by theists are the beliefs that there is something out there, that we are important in the scheme of things, that morality comes from something higher than us, and that we survive death. All or most of these beliefs are common to all theism, be it worship of Thor or Allah. Theists believe in a spiritual supernatural world, and can hold the view that different theisms are either mistaken views of that world, or worship different aspects of that world. And that's the vast gulf between believers and atheists. It is the vast gulf that the “one god further” argument does not recognise.
    If we are going to deal with religion in debate, and politically, it's important to understand why people are religion, and what belief means to them. The “one god further” argument, clever though it is in some ways, fails to deal with those matters.
    So what do we use in it's place? One option (one of many) is to point out that over a billion people in this world are labeled as religious, have a foundation for morality, and most have some sort of idea of continuation of something after death. They are called Buddhists. There is no need for a supernatural dictator in order to have those comforting beliefs. If that step is made, then the need for supernatural beliefs of any kind could perhaps be dealt with.
    Although it appears theists don't fully understand it. Unlike this person's analogies, the justifications for not believing other gods (as opposed to justifications for not eating other meats) can be equally applied to one's own god; the justifications for believing one's own god (the "feel" of it, as s/he puts) can be equally applied to the gods of others [who do, actually, use the same justifications].

  3. #3
    Skeptic Bluegrass's Avatar
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    So what do we use in it's place? One option (one of many) is to point out that over a billion people in this world are labeled as religious, have a foundation for morality, and most have some sort of idea of continuation of something after death. They are called Buddhists. There is no need for a supernatural dictator in order to have those comforting beliefs. If that step is made, then the need for supernatural beliefs of any kind could perhaps be dealt with.
    That's quite a whitewash. Contrary to popular belief (which is often wrong), Buddha explicitly stated that there is no soul, thus the closest concept in Buddhism to reincarnation is rebirth. Not only is Buddhist writing highly ambiguous regarding rebirth, it is this way because the actual writing embodies the basic Buddhist understanding that there is no birth and death, and our consciousness changes through this cycle of our existence. It makes sense that Buddhist writing would do this, considering that it states that this is all experiential, and not standing upon words. Aside from that, it embraces conscious ignorance, just like with all perceptions. Sounds like an early form of skepticism.

    There is nothing that is supposed to be "comforting" about this in particular.

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