Postmodernity and christianity

poetix

we murder to dissect
I'm happy to identify as a non-Nessyist. Unlike Nessy-agnostics, who merely acknowledge that they have no idea whether there's a Loch Ness Monster or not, I hold a set of beliefs (systematic skepticism, albeit with a weird Christian existentialist kink) about the nature of reality that positively preclude believing in the existence of a Loch Ness Monster. If it turned out that such a beastie really existed, I would not only be surprised - I'd have to seriously revise my view of the way things in general worked.

The same is true about things like homeopathy. It's not just that I don't go for that sort of thing myself. If someone did a proper clinical trial that demonstrated beyond a shadow of a doubt that homeopathic remedies really worked, it would really rock the foundations of my reality. My fundamental objection to most new agey stuff is that I just don't believe that the universe is that fucking stupid. I'm not at all sure what I'd do, who I'd be, how I'd live, if it turned out that actually it was.
 

UFO over easy

online mahjong
No, I think is fundamentally untrue. Atheism would be a religion if it required its adherents to attend an un-church and un-worship God under the auspices of an un-priest - but this, if anything, would be some kind of Satanism.

This feels weird and confused to me, sort of straw man-ish. Who are you addressing, Swears or Martin? Are you talking about atheism as religion, which was just something random brought up by childo'blog, or about active non-belief as belief? Two very different points.

Mr. Tea said:
Atheism is not an active statement of belief in no-God, it is the lack of an active belief in God. It's a subtle but vital distinction.

That could just as easily be agnosticism though couldn't it?
 
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Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
This feels weird and confused to me, sort of straw man-ish. Who are you addressing, Swears or Martin? Are you talking about atheism as religion, which was just something random brought up by childo'blog, or about active non-belief as belief? Two very different points.

I was addressing Martin, who was disagreeing with Swears. Swears said that a lack of belief in something does not constitute a belief system, and I think I agree with that. I for one don't believe in God, and I don't believe there's a magical donkey who shits gold and lives in my back garden. My absence of belief in one is equivalent to my absence of belief in the other. The reason why an absence of belief in God has a specific name (while there is no such term as 'a-donkey-ism') is that the majority of people in the world do believe in a God of some kind*, whereas belief in a magic donkey is not widespread. Although if it were, it would be no less irrational and empirically unsupported. :)

That could just as easily be agnosticism though couldn't it?

No, agnostics admit the possibility that there could be a god. Atheists are firmly convinced there isn't.

*though of course there is no majority consensus as to what he/she/it is called, looks like, or wants us to behave like, or even whether there's one or several
 

UFO over easy

online mahjong
Mr. Tea said:
Swears said that a lack of belief in something does not constitute a belief system, and I think I agree with that.

That's cool, of course, but the problem comes with your assumption that atheism is a passive thing, because that would allow for it to be confused with agnosticism in the way I tried to outline before. Agnosticism can be a passive position as well so how do you distinguish the two?


UFO over easy said:
That could just as easily be agnosticism though couldn't it?
No, agnostics admit the possibility that there could be a god. Atheists are firmly convinced there isn't.

They admit the possibility, sure, but they still lack an active belief in God, which was your definition of an atheist. Surely to be 'firmly convinced' of something, you must believe it? To be passively convinced about something, even a lack of something, seems... weird.. if the conviction is there.
 
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Martin Dust

Techno Zen Master
I was addressing Martin, who was disagreeing with Swears. Swears said that a lack of belief in something does not constitute a belief system, and I think I agree with that. I for one don't believe in God, and I don't believe there's a magical donkey who shits gold and lives in my back garden. My absence of belief in one is equivalent to my absence of belief in the other. The reason why an absence of belief in God has a specific name (while there is no such term as 'a-donkey-ism') is that the majority of people in the world do believe in a God of some kind*, whereas belief in a magic donkey is not widespread. Although if it were, it would be no less irrational and empirically unsupported. :)

Some good points and no you can't borrow my Donkey but I do still belief you are wrong about it not being a belief system, it's not as simple as not having a god/dawkin/fat bloke and not believing in anything (including the last statement) is based on a number of complex stances, these life stances become a belief system on which you act.
 
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UFO over easy

online mahjong
not believing in anything (including the last statement) is based on a number of complex stances, these life stance become a belief system on which you act.

Innit, and I think agnosticism is the same. It can be a well thought through position based on complex reasoning and validation as well.. the lack of a belief is not necessarily passive.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
But I think that a religion is more than a belief system isn't it? It's a specific type of belief system (although probably very hard to define exactly) and I think that if you stretch the definition to include atheism and (particularly?) agnosticism then you have stretched it beyond the breaking point - probably to the extent where you would then need another word to describe the specific types of religion such as Christianity or Islam that have the features thost most of us are thinking about when we discuss religion and which would exclude atheism.
 

UFO over easy

online mahjong
But I think that a religion is more than a belief system isn't it? It's a specific type of belief system (although probably very hard to define exactly) and I think that if you stretch the definition to include atheism and (particularly?) agnosticism then you have stretched it beyond the breaking point

yeah I'm not arguing for that, and I don't think anyone is, which is why I was trying to distinguish between that position and the point made by martin - the coherence of non-belief as belief

the atheism as religion thing was just a throwaway comment by childoftheblogosphere I think, but for some reason it seems to have wormed its way into the discussion and confused things a bit :D
 
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IdleRich

IdleRich
Sure, and in fairness to CofB he didn't say that atheism is a religion, I read what he said as describing Dawkins' evangelicism for atheism as similar to that of religious types.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Sure, and in fairness to CofB he didn't say that atheism is a religion, I read what he said as describing Dawkins' evangelicism for atheism as similar to that of religious types.

Hmm, he said atheism is ridiculous "as a religion", which (as I see it) implies that atheism can, at least under some circumstances, be considered a religion, which I take issue with. Sure, Dawkins is actively promoting atheism, and it's kind of unfortunate and ironic that the word most commonly used for this kind of promotion is "evangelism". That still doesn't make it a religious activity, though, any more than someone who 'evangelises' about road safety or organic food or dubstep is taking part in a religious activity.
 

IdleRich

IdleRich
CofB said

"Hopefully we're all aware how ridiculous atheism as a religion is by now"
Which I took to mean that atheism is ridiculous when it's treated as a religion - I didn't read it as saying that it is a religion but I guess we'll not know for certain unless s/he comes back and clears it up.
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
That's cool, of course, but the problem comes with your assumption that atheism is a passive thing, because that would allow for it to be confused with agnosticism in the way I tried to outline before. Agnosticism can be a passive position as well so how do you distinguish the two?

They admit the possibility, sure, but they still lack an active belief in God, which was your definition of an atheist. Surely to be 'firmly convinced' of something, you must believe it? To be passively convinced about something, even a lack of something, seems... weird.. if the conviction is there.

OK, maybe I should change my position here. Perhaps as a 'strong' atheist I have to state, positively and actively, that I do not believe in God. I still think the only reason this is considered by many people to be a sort of belief in itself is that belief in g/God(s) seems to be the default setting in human beings. As I said before, the only reason non-belief in a magic gold-shitting donkey is not considered to constitute an 'active negative belief' like atheism is because belief in such a thing is not widespread. After all, there's no point denying something which no-one holds to be true in the first place.

Some possibly useful links for this discussion:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ignosticism
Ignosticism is the theological position that every other theological position (including agnosticism) assumes too much about the concept of God and many other theological concepts. The word "Ignosticism" was coined by Rabbi Sherwin Wine. It can be defined as encompassing two related views about the existence of God.

The first view is that a coherent definition of God must be presented before the question of the existence of God can be meaningfully discussed. Furthermore, if that definition cannot be falsified, the ignostic takes the theological noncognitivist position that the question of the existence of God (per that definition) is meaningless. In this case, the concept of God is not considered meaningless; the term "God" is considered meaningless.

The second view is synonymous with theological noncognitivism, and skips the step of first asking "What is meant by God?" before proclaiming the original question "Does God exist?" as meaningless.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theological_noncognitivism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strong_atheism
 

noel emits

a wonderful wooden reason
That still doesn't make it a religious activity, though, any more than someone who 'evangelises' about road safety or organic food or dubstep is taking part in a religious activity.
Except that atheism is concerned with the same area of things as religion is and those other examples aren't so much.

In any case, Christians only have to believe in the existence of one god whereas atheists have to believe in the non-existence of countless deities, therefore atheism is the more religious and faith based belief system. :)

popedeathstarye3.jpg
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
In any case, Christians only have to believe in the existence of one god whereas atheists have to believe in the non-existence of countless deities, therefore atheism is the more religious and faith based belief system. :)

Ah, you got me there! ;)

(Though actually, don't Christians have to unbelieve in all the other gods, too? The true idler's religion would presumably be some kind of lazy interpretive pantheism - Baha'i, perhaps...)
 

UFO over easy

online mahjong
After all, there's no point denying something which no-one holds to be true in the first place.

Is there equally no point affirming anything that everyone holds to be true?

I still don't really agree with you, though I see what you mean a little better now - communicatively there's no point denying something no one believes, certainly..
 

Mr. Tea

Shub-Niggurath, Please
Is there equally no point affirming anything that everyone holds to be true?

Well there are gods and there are gods, aren't there? I mean, a Christian, a Muslim and a Sikh all agree that something they call 'God' exists, but beyond that, opinions as to who or what He really is diverge wildly. Hell, you don't even have to go outside a single religion to find big disagreements about the nature of God and how He wants us to live - look at Catholics/Protestants, Sunnis/Shi'ites, Mahayana/Theraveda...whereas there's never going to be a violent schism between rival sects of atheists.
 
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