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The Appeal Of Atheism?


Mudcat

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Pointing out that someone else may be motivated by pride does not prove that you are not.

And yes, that applies to me too.

If there were some other great comfort in the ideas of atheism I might be convinced that people are attracted to it because of the intrinsic merits of the idea itself.

As many have agreed on this thread, that's not the case. The idea that life is unfair, short, brutal, and largely meaningless is unpleasant and has no intrinsic appeal.

Atheism's only appeal, therefore, is in its contrast to its alternatives - in accepting what is felt as an umcomfortable truth instead of what are seen as comfortable lies.

Therefore it's value is solely based on a comparison of it to the alternatives.

Taking pleasure from the comparison of what you have with what others have is pride.

Q.E.D.

If you want a logical, naturalistic philosophy that isn't as motivated by pride, try agnosticism. "I will treat life as unfair, short, brutal, and largely meaningless because it appears likely it is so, but I could be wrong."

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Taking pleasure from the comparison of what you have with what others have is pride.
I take pleasure in a lot of things I have that others don't but I've always thought of that as appreciation, not pride.
If you want a logical, naturalistic philosophy that isn't as motivated by pride, try agnosticism. "I will treat life as unfair, short, brutal, and largely meaningless because it appears likely it is so, but I could be wrong."

Any logical thinking atheist will admit that they could be wrong. It is theists, not atheists who rigidly insist they KNOW their claims are true while logic insists that any theory is up for revision if new evidence is presented.

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Pointing out that someone else may be motivated by pride does not prove that you are not.

And yes, that applies to me too.

But it would prove that there's no reason for prideful people to leave theism for reasons of pride.

If there were some other great comfort in the ideas of atheism I might be convinced that people are attracted to it because of the intrinsic merits of the idea itself.

I think you will probably find that atheists don't believe in your God (or anyone else's) for reasons that are eerily similar to the reasons you don't believe in anyone else's religion. They just believe in one less God than you do.

Tell me, have you rejected Scientology because you find being a non-Scientologist flatters your pride? Have you become an non-Hare-Krishna because the lure of non-Hare-Krishna-ness was just too much for your prideful and lazy nature to resist? Have you become a non-Jehovah's-Witness out of the realization that you could then feel superior in wisdom and intellect to Jehovah's Witnesses?

As many have agreed on this thread, that's not the case. The idea that life is unfair, short, brutal, and largely meaningless is unpleasant and has no intrinsic appeal.

Which religion teaches that no one will have an unfair, short, brutal life? As far as I know, all religions teach that some people have unfair, short, brutal lives, while others have fair, long and pleasurable lives. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what atheists believe too.

But if there is a religion that is guaranteeing fair, long and pleasurable lives, I'm totally in the wrong one.

It's also probably a stretch to say the atheists don't have meaning in their lives. As far as I know, the atheists I know have very meaningful lives.

I would even go so far as to say that if the only meaning in your life stems solely from your theistic beliefs, and you don't find meaning in service to others, relationships, friendships, or other such things, you probably have a pretty sad life even with your belief in God. And I would definitely discourage you from losing that belief, because apparently it's all you've got.

Atheism's only appeal, therefore, is in its contrast to its alternatives - in accepting what is felt as an umcomfortable truth instead of what are seen as comfortable lies.

If you take out the words "uncomfortable" and "comfortable", you would probably be a little closer to the truth.

Therefore it's value is solely based on a comparison of it to the alternatives.

I'm pretty sure people are able to not-believe in God even without the alternatives. Kind of like how I've been able to not believe in Chakaradrum, the cosmic milk carton who controls the weather on all planets in the universe. As far as I know, no one else believes in Chakaradrum either, but yet I still don't believe in him.

Taking pleasure from the comparison of what you have with what others have is pride.

Q.E.D.

But that doesn't make pride the motivator. Don't confuse correlation with causation.

If you want a logical, naturalistic philosophy that isn't as motivated by pride, try agnosticism. "I will treat life as unfair, short, brutal, and largely meaningless because it appears likely it is so, but I could be wrong."

That goes against your previous definition of pride being borne in the comparison. Now, you're defining pride in relation to a person's attitude towards the surety of their belief. Why can't an atheist be humble by not comparing themselves with others?

But if we go with your second definition, should we also judge the pride of theists by their openness to the possibility of their being mistaken?

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I take pleasure in a lot of things I have that others don't but I've always thought of that as appreciation, not pride.
It can be appreciation, if what you are appreciating has intrinsic value.
Any logical thinking atheist will admit that they could be wrong.
Which is why I think the typical atheist is much more motivated by pride than logic.

As others pointed out already, many atheists are as dogmatic as any religious individual.

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Which is why I think the typical atheist is much more motivated by pride than logic.

As others pointed out already, many atheists are as dogmatic as any religious individual.

If Bertrand Russel says he is 100% sure that God doesn't exist, and Thomas Monson says he is 100% sure God does exist, are you saying both are equally prideful? Are both equally motivated by this pride?

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It's funny I think that sometimes the religious and the non-religious speak completely different languages. You say that your friend is "considering atheism", and the you don't understand its "appeal". Such words do not really convey the the process by which I became an atheist. 'Choosing' atheism based on its 'appeal' sounds like I sat down at Ruby Tuesday's and was handed a menu of different beliefs, each tasty and appetizing in its own way, but 'atheism' was the one that went best with the Newcastle I was craving, so I decided to have one cooked up medium rare. (Dangit now I'm hungry and thirsty.)

I may not share your religious point of view, but I found this to be a delicious way of serving up the issue. :P

Try skipping Ruby Tuesday's one night, and visit Ruth's Cris Steak House, and see if you don't become a believer and think yourself in heaven. ;)

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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I don't understand the appeal of this ideology of a "cosmic accident" that made us all, which seems to be a part of the concept.

It has never made sense to me.

It's not appealing, it's the default position to which we fall back when we realize that the idea of God snapping his fingers [or wiggling his nose, or shaking his tush, or whatever] created the world is silly, made more ludacris by the other Biblical fairy tales. Frankly the God model would look alot more interesting if the Universe was static [a deist model of the clock being started by God and left alone] but the Universe is expanding and chaotic, and Intelligent Design seems perposturous in the realization that the Universe is chaotic at all levels, from meteors hitting this planet to the possibility of galaxies crashing into each other. It seems much more logical to assume it's all a big crapshoot in that light.

However it doesn't make life meaningless. Life can have as much meaning as we give it or little meaning if we don't cultivate our lives and relationships and experiences.

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I think atheism does have an appeal in some way. I don't see anyone deciding to become atheist because of that appeal anymore than I see someone deciding to join a religion because of the appeal per say either. Though I suppose both happen now and again.

With atheism I think it would be nice to not second guess whether your decision was pleasing to God, but rather let your conscience be your guide. Not that you can't find this inside religion as well. In fact maybe it is just me and my questioning ways rather than my beliefs, but I know since joining the Church I am way more conscience of my actions. Not in ways that affect others, but just in ways that affect me. I look more long term now than I did before because I feel my choices will affect my eternity. So something I am okay and happy with in the mortal realm, I really think about whether I would be okay and happy with it in the immortal realm. Before I probably would have just focused on the mortal realm.

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In my opinion, James Bond is the single greatest appeal of atheism.

I know it is common to suggest that atheists are more prideful than theists, but I do not know that that is true.

If we were just doing a head count, I think we could come up with many more prideful Christian theists than atheists.

I am not sure what scale one would use to measure such a proposition, but my dad is an atheist and he is a very humble and good man.

And while I am rattling on, I will say that, while I find General Conference on the boring side substantively, I am always refreshed at the number of humble and good men who are leading the LDS Church.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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But it would prove that there's no reason for prideful people to leave theism for reasons of pride.
I'm afraid I don't follow your reasoning there.
I think you will probably find that atheists don't believe in your God (or anyone else's) for reasons that are eerily similar to the reasons you don't believe in anyone else's religion. They just believe in one less God than you do.
And I disagree. For one thing, I don't believe all other religions are completely wrong. Atheism beleives that roughly 95% of humanity is completely wrong about one of the things that is most important to them. Mine is the more tolerant attitude.
Tell me, have you rejected Scientology because you find being a non-Scientologist flatters your pride? Have you become an non-Hare-Krishna because the lure of non-Hare-Krishna-ness was just too much for your prideful and lazy nature to resist? Have you become a non-Jehovah's-Witness out of the realization that you could then feel superior in wisdom and intellect to Jehovah's Witnesses?
No, I am not one of those faiths because I am LDS, but that is because I find more value in the LDS theology, not because of where those other faiths are lacking.
Which religion teaches that no one will have an unfair, short, brutal life? As far as I know, all religions teach that some people have unfair, short, brutal lives, while others have fair, long and pleasurable lives. Which, coincidentally, is exactly what atheists believe too.
But nearly all religions (especially all the Christian ones) teach that good will eventually triumph over evil and justice will ultimately prevail.
It's also probably a stretch to say the atheists don't have meaning in their lives. As far as I know, the atheists I know have very meaningful lives.
I didn't say that atheists have meaningless lives. I said they believe life is largely meaningless - as in it has no set purpose.
That goes against your previous definition of pride being borne in the comparison. Now, you're defining pride in relation to a person's attitude towards the surety of their belief. Why can't an atheist be humble by not comparing themselves with others?
If you are less sure in your belief then you are making a less favorable comparison of your own beliefs to those of others, aren't you?

Theoretically an atheist could say "I'm not sure" but one of the major points of atheism seems to be that they are sure there is no God. Agnosticism is the "I'm not sure if there is a God or not," belief.

But if we go with your second definition, should we also judge the pride of theists by their openness to the possibility of their being mistaken?
Hmmm.

Well, no, because theists aren't mistaken in their belief that there is a God. Their knowledge stems from the truth. :P

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In my opinion, James Bond is the single greatest appeal of atheism.

Consig is in the top 3 appeals to Mormonism, just short of liz and Doctor Stuess [sorry but they're both cute as buttons :P]

I know it is common to suggest that atheists are more prideful than theists, but I do not know that that is true.

If we were just doing a head count, I think we could come up with many more prideful Christian theists than atheists.

I am not sure what scale one would use to measure such a proposition, but my dad is an atheist and he is a very humble and good man.

Too true about pride. I'm sure the stuff atheists say appears prideful, but the stuff theists say appears just as prideful to atheists. Taking absolute positions leads to that sort of think. Absolute belief in spiritual witness vs absolute belief in lack of God evidence/evidence for evolution/Big Bang leads to an endless robo boxing game where the heads will never pop off. Somewhat funny for sure, but at some point your thumbs have to get tired. At some point you have to take a step back and think about playing a new game. [Remember that scene in WarGames where the computer learns from playing Tic-Tac-Toe? Can we do a Clockwork Orange to some people and play that?]

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I would agree that people suffer. Mankind at large, does many horrible things.

God has given mankind the power to choose, and many of our choices are poor.

Many of those that do suffer, are Christians and most don't loose faith because they are suffering. The founder of Christianity suffered for all of us. Human suffering is our own doing, not God's. I don't see how the fact that bad things happen, implies their is no God.

Going back to logic for a minute...

With all the classical assumptions about God, including His absolute omnipotence, His absolute omniscience and His creation ex-nihilo, I don't see how you can state that God is not responsible for human suffering.

Any way you slice it, if you believe in God as absolute First Cause, then God is directly responsible for everything, including evil and suffering.

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I don't understand the appeal of this ideology of a "cosmic accident" that made us all, which seems to be a part of the concept.

It has never made sense to me.

It seems to me that one should not think first about what the consequences to one's sense of purpose may be, or whether the world would seem depressing without gods and devils. First one should just ask, regardless of one's hopes, whether there is any compelling factual reason to believe that God exists.

For example, suppose I wonder whether there is a pot of gold in my back yard. Should I say, to myself, "Well, it would be better if there was a pot of gold so......." or "If there is no gold then what of my plans to use it for retirement?".

How can one draw conclusions about the reality of the pot of gold from such considerations?

I will never understand why people think thoughts like "If the is no God then _____________" and then they fill in the blank with consequences to our morale, or feelings, or social consequences etc. Don't you just first want to know the facts and then make the best of it?

In other words, use evidence and reason; not wishful thinking.

So there is no appeal to atheism but that it may be true. Or, the appeal of it is beside the point!

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I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption.

...

No philosopher is completely disinterested. The pure love of truth is always mingled to some extent with the need, consciously or unconsciously felt by even the noblest and the most intelligent philosophers, to justify a given form of personal or social behavior, to rationalize the traditional prejudices of a given class or community. ... The philosopher who find no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is not valid reason why her personally should not do as he wants to do, or why his friends should not seize political power and govern in the way that they find most advantageous to themselves. The voluntary, as opposed to the intellectual, reasons for holding the doctrines of materialism, for examples, may be predominantly erotic... or predominantly political....

For myself as, no doubt, for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom; we objected to the political and economic system because it was unjust.

- Aldous Huxley

Injustice (or, indeed, any appeal to morality or truth or any other non-material consideration) is a curious claim from an atheist.

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It's not appealing, it's the default position to which we fall back when we realize that the idea of God snapping his fingers [or wiggling his nose, or shaking his tush, or whatever] created the world is silly
If this is your understanding of how God works then yes it is ridiculous. Fortunately I believe in a God who uses the laws of the universe, or the science, to accomplish what he needs to.
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It seems to me that one should not think first about what the consequences to one's sense of purpose may be, or whether the world would seem depressing without gods and devils. First one should just ask, regardless of one's hopes, whether there is any compelling factual reason to believe that God exists.

For example, suppose I wonder whether there is a pot of gold in my back yard. Should I say, to myself, "Well, it would be better if there was a pot of gold so......." or "If there is no gold then what of my plans to use it for retirement?".

How can one draw conclusions about the reality of the pot of gold from such considerations?

I will never understand why people think thoughts like "If the is no God then _____________" and then they fill in the blank with consequences to our morale, or feelings, or social consequences etc. Don't you just first want to know the facts and then make the best of it?

In other words, use evidence and reason; not wishful thinking.

So there is no appeal to atheism but that it may be true. Or, the appeal of it is beside the point!

That's an excellent point. I often see Christians attempt to disprove (or maybe just deride) atheism by making claims that atheism produces undesirable social consequences. Atheists are more promiscuous, or less charitable, or die earlier, or are more susceptible to depression, or a number of other undesirable outcomes. Unfortunately, atheists can't seem to help themselves and end up taking the bait by trying to disprove these allegations. But in reality, it's a red herring. Even if atheism made people selfish, promiscuous, mean-spirited hedonists, it wouldn't mean atheism is an incorrect interpretation of reality. I wish more atheists would resist the impulse to justify their unbelief by making claims of improved moral senses, or greater personal freedom, an increased capacity for empathy, or any number of supposed benefits. None of that matter. When it comes to the philosophical validity of atheism, all that matters is whether or not there's a God.

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I wish more atheists would resist the impulse to justify their unbelief by making claims of improved moral senses, or greater personal freedom, an increased capacity for empathy, or any number of supposed benefits. None of that matter.

Is it fair to assume that the way you live your life is a testiment to your belief that "benefits don't matter"?

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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It's not appealing, it's the default position to which we fall back when we realize that the idea of God snapping his fingers [or wiggling his nose, or shaking his tush, or whatever] created the world is silly, made more ludacris by the other Biblical fairy tales

Ludacris, huh? Funny Zack, I didn't know you waz GANGSTA!

:P;):crazy::fool:

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And how do the laws of nature or the sciences do that? Exalting man seems like a metaphysical practice considering you wish to become more like a supernatural being.
There are higher laws than what we can discern in this mortal existence. In the end even metaphysics has basis in law, though beyond our comprehension.
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