but maybe it can keep us alive as a species long enough to evolve into another, better species that isn’t so nervous and half rational and self-destructive and subject to social-media-charged hyper-neurotic self-righteous groupthoughts. Each of us can almost glimpse the magic of reality’s logical consistency, and then we get t-boned by a need to belong to a group and then we start negotiating our principles with irrational positions held for emotional and partisan reasons instead of a love for the truth whenever we get shamed. Atheism is not a cure for this tendency; although it does make you aware of anything resembling an anti-intellectual religion if you truly converted to the principles and axioms undergirding it. If it was just a bandwagon thing, well you’re gonna be another cult soon enough because you never learned how to really think and get your own bearing of your surroundings — your physical surroundings and your axiomatic surroundings — or to search deeply into human nature out of curiosity to know it accurately instead of fear of what you might find there. Mother Nature gave us big brains for a reason, I think. She did not intend for us to forego their use. I believe that humans invented and may take conscious credit for civilization, and we’re going to have to take conscious control of our social engineering moving forward instead of letting ancient shamans or modern lunatics hack our amygdalas for us. We’re going to get somethings wrong, but that’s never an excuse to surrender our minds to dogmatism. We’re entering an era where we have to scoop out the crap holding us back that people won’t question “because God” and where we also have to have the most appealing arguments for every healthy axiom that heretofore people just accepted “because God” but now reject “because God is not real.” Establishing axioms by appealing to God doesn’t fly anymore, which is what I believe is the root (other than economics) of our society’s hyperpolarization. Even if substantial portions of society keep that belief moving forward; they have to learn how to hear and argue the opinions which establish axioms using facts with logic. Gooshy mooshy appeals to sweet Jesus won’t work anymore. Atheists themselves need to learn how to keep what is good from our traditions by divorcing it from God and realizing the benefit of having society share certain axioms, like that monogamous marital unions are best for the kids as the data shows. They suffer when they don’t have it. That’s just the data. You can’t deny data just because someone calls it patriarchal, western, Christian, white, or whatever. We need people to have kids, and there is a rough “best practices” outline of a model for doing that. If atheists won’t give any serious Nietzschian thought to making a societal model out of their axioms, then all they’re doing is plucking people from axiomatic systems that give a shit about sticking around and establishing some kind of order and social compact long term and plopping them into a situation where they are ship lost in the axiomatic sea without a sail or a paddle, or they will probably either fall for culty irrationalisms or cynically remove themselves from the gene pool. Give some thought to these things so that when we “get another one” form churches like Mormonism, the culture waiting here for them isn’t completely alien to both their cultural habits and their social instincts. Don’t compromise on logic, ever. Sound logic first, good feefees come after.
Let's dwell once more on the (probably not) Gandhi quote, "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Anyone who thinks they are going to change the world this way needs to think again. The idea is--you can't change the world but you can at least be what you think you should be and feel good about who you are. You may inspire one or two. May.
Most of us can't change ourselves, let alone change anyone else. Growing, expanding, and maturing are better as goals.
The wrench in the works is everyone has a different idea of being what they think the world should be.
Like the Twin Tower crashers--they were being the change they wanted in the world. The Congress Insurrectionists were the changes they want to see in the world. The Lt. Governor of Idaho with her gun smashed against her Bible and that smug arrogance, is the change she wants to see in the world. I could go on . . .
But hey, if a lot of us are nice and accepting it's got to make a difference. Right? Kum-bay-YA!
First law of the land: Many many people take your kindness as weakness. Predators look for the weak spot. So all you are doing is laying yourself down on the altar with kindling and matches at hand.
On person's Red Lobster is another person's stripped ocean. One person's evil deed is another person's triumph for their God. This is still survival of the fittest. It' just "fittest" has little to do with muscles these days. And strength in numbers is what social media is all about.
Remember, though, that he was a religious man who believed in reincarnation and that the ultimate goal was for all living organisms to give up their independent identities and merge with the universal deity. Viewed from that perspective, the more people focus on their own personal growth and salvation the sooner the universe reaches perfection. Gandhi's perspective on the world and the future was not limited to material or social progress in his age or ours.
Which is another way of saying that the statement is trite. To the extent that Gandhi was looking past this physical realm and time, which he viewed as a prison, he was acknowledging that there's little the individual can do. In fact, what's the purpose of improving or perfecting the world if it is an illusion?
Unless like you and me, someone lives in this world.
I don’t see bonobos domesticating other species and bending the earth to their will. Humans decide what civilization is because nothing else is capable of arguing with them about it. We made it, not some god or alien. We figured it out. It’s ours, and there’s a calming and collected confidence that comes from knowing that which feeling could be termed “civilized.”
What if that confidence comes from a collective insanity? Doesn't it take a certain madness to wire a planet for nuclear destruction? It's like living in a highrise that's pre-wired for controlled demolition.
"Atheism is not a cure for this tendency; although it does make you aware of anything resembling an anti-intellectual religion if you truly converted to the principles and axioms undergirding it."
COMMENT: The principles and axioms undergirding atheism are the last thing we need--and to its credit, and notwithstanding its deeply serious liabilities, religion understand this perfectly. Denying God and religion is one thing, adopting the atheistic-materialist principles associated with atheism is another.
Remember what happened when someone on RfM inquired about the purpose of life? What you saw in response was exactly what the 'principles of atheism' dictated: There is no 'purpose of life' beyond our own self interest. Whatever the answer to our current crisis is, that is not it!
I am no fan of religion, but if atheism comes with the 'intellectual' baggage of scientific materialism--which it apparently does--maybe we should give some form of transcendent 'religion' a second look.
Another is the notion that humans need to get their morality from somewhere: atheism, religion, or some other source. The truth is that the fundamentals of morality/altruism are instinctive, as is the case to one degree or another with all social animals, and can be seen in the moral rules that most religions share.
One must arbitrarily narrow the range of admissible evidence to arrive at some of these paradoxes.
"Another is the notion that humans need to get their morality from somewhere: atheism, religion, or some other source. The truth is that the fundamentals of morality/altruism are instinctive, as is the case to one degree or another with all social animals, and can be seen in the moral rules that most religions share."
COMMENT: I agree that morality/altruism are instinctive. Moreover, I agree that a moral society relies upon such moral intuitions to establish and enforce civil laws and social mores. But, you miss the point on two important ways:
First, moral intuitions of themselves do not establish moral authority; i.e. the authority that dictates what behavior the moral "ought" demands. Your moral instincts and my moral instincts might be entirely different, and outside a metaphysical worldview, there is no way to decide just what morality demands--particularly in the hard cases.
Second, you cannot send your kids to college, generation after generation, to be taught (1) that the universe has no meaning; and (2) that human beings are just mechanistic biological machines; and (3) that free will is just an illusion, without eventually eroding the very moral intuitions that you expect them to follow in their personal lives. In short, the materialist worldview is manifestly inconsistent with any grounding of such moral intuitions. Sooner or later, a generation will arise where morality is nothing more that what the civil law requires. (This is essentially what was suggested in the purpose of life thread I alluded to.)
I will end with two quotes: The first is from the introductory paragraph from philosopher Patricia Churchland's book "Brain-wise," which she used in her undergraduate philosophy classes at UCSD:
"Bit by experimental bit, neuroscience is morphing our conception of what we are. The weight of evidence now implies that it is the *brain*, rather than some nonphysical stuff, that feels, thinks, and decides. That means there is no soul to fall in love. We do still fall in love, certainly, and passion is as real as it ever was. The difference is that now we understand those important feelings to be events happening in the physical brain. It means that there is no soul to spend its postmortem eternity blissful in Heaven or miserable in Hell. Stranger yet, it means that the introspective *inside* -- one's own subjectivity -- is *itself* a brain-dependent way of making sense of neural events. In addition, it means that the brain's *knowledge* that this is so is likewise brain-based business.
"Given what is known about the brain, it also appears highly doubtful that there is a special nonphysical module, the *will*, operating in a causal vacuum to create voluntary choices -- choices to be courageous in the face of danger, or to run away and fight another day. In all probability, one's decisions and plans, one's self-restraint and self-indulgences, as well as one's unique individual character traits, moods, and temperaments, are all features of the brain's general causal organization. The self-control one thinks one has in anchored by neural pathways and neurochemicals. The mind that we are assured can dominate over matter is in fact certain brain patterns interacting with and interpreted by other brain patterns. Moreover, one's *self*, as apprehended introspectively and represented incessantly, is a brain-dependent construct, susceptible to change as the brain changes, and is gone when the brain is gone." (Page 1)
This is an example from neuro-philosophy. There are similar examples of such moral nihilism in other undergraduate texts and popular writings in evolutionary biology; evolutionary psychology, sociobiology; and even physics. These are not exceptions; they are the mainstream rule. This is where materialist science is taking us.
In 1993, Bryan Appleyard wrote a very controversial book called "Understanding the Present: Science and the Soul of Modern Man." There he stated:
"I wrote this book in the conviction that science, more than anything else, has made us who we are; science is our faith and our age's unique signature. My conclusion is equally simple: we must resist and the time to do so is now. . . . . Persuading you to accept my conclusion require something more. . . . It requires an understanding of the appalling spiritual damage that science has done and how much more it can still do. Science, quietly and inexplicitly, is talking us into abandoning ourselves, our true selves. It is doing so today more effectively than ever before. Of course, my case is not that scientists are evil, nor that science itself is evil. Rather I wish to show that it has gone too far, that it is potentially out of control, and that it now threatens to throw our civilization out of balance." (p. xiv)
Appleyard was widely criticized and even ridiculed by scientists and theists alike--primarily because he allegedly failed to distinguish between "science" and "scientism" and failed to properly acknowledge that importance of science as an arbiter of truth. At the time, science was still in the lingering grips of the anti-science onslaught of the radical sociologists. (Another story) Thus, it was important to defend the objectivity of science. But, now, nearly 30 years later, that "science war" has been entirely won by science. Now, science, having conquered the humanities, has been left alone to establish, shape, and dominant young worldviews--moral intuitions not withstanding.
So, yes, we have our precious intuitions. But, we are already seeing the erosion of such intuitions in civil society, for example in interactions on social media. The religious right--with all its irrationality and overreaching--is hellbent on preserving the traditional status quo against the arrogance of science; not knowing when science should be respected (pandemics and climate change) and when it should be rejected (scientific materialism).
I would call scientism a case of cultural appropriation. Secular humanism has basic moral values, but they came from the same Judeo Christian heritage that it rejects.
Actual science demonstrates that consciousness extends beyond the skull with apparently no restrictions on distance. For all we know, our minds encompass the entire Universe. That would make communication with highly advanced beings (Gods), wherever they are in Carl Sagan's Universe, plausible.
Of course, that is one of scientism's taboos. Fortunately, the militancy is fading.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/22/2021 10:44AM by bradley.
"That many think there is no universal meaning is no denial or rejection of individual meaning. In what way is individual meaning insufficient?"
COMMENT: I have no problem with individual meaning; in the sense that life is deemed as providing the opportunity to pursue individually meaningful goals and ends. We should at least notice, however, that the "individual" here is ultimately based upon self-interest; it is based upon what is meaningful to "me" or "you." The social good, or altruism generally, is not addressed, and is not encompassed by this personal meaning; that is, unless one incorporates some worldview that transcends personal interest and provides a broader meaning to human existence.
Personal meaning might well be sufficient for a happy, personally meaningful life. However, if you want a social worldview that incorporates moral duty--i.e. not what you want to do, but what you ought to do--you cannot get there solely with personal meaning. You need a 'purpose of life' that encompasses humanity.
Yes, but this also applies to scientists who routinely misrepresent our scientific knowledge of the universe; and reality generally. Perhaps all should keep in mind the following comment by cosmologist and theoretical physicist John D. Barrow, from his book: *The Limits of Science and the Science of Limits*:
"In popular expositions of cosmology for non-specialists (and even in some for specialists), a number of simplifying assumptions are usually made which obscure the fundamental limitations on our ability to answer familiar questions about the Universe. We shall see that many of the questions that popular accounts of cosmology raise, and sometimes even confidently answer, appear to [be] unanswerable. Answers can be given only because some untestable assumptions have been smuggled in to simplify the problem, or to rule many possibilities out of court from the outset. As a result, there are limits to what we can know about the Universe. Those limits cut across all the major unsolved problems of cosmology."
I know a lot of atheists. They have nothing in common besides the lack of belief in a god. Very diverse as most humans tend to be even when grouped. Some hardly know what science is. And I've never met a militant one thank God. :) So would be very difficult to harness the atheist masses for any single purpose. Like, say, fixing everything.
I would like to just get to a world where no one has a need for a Prom King and Queen. All problems stem from that.
Don't misunderstand me--I have no current suicidal thoughts. However, Done & Done is right--we all have different agendas and our emotions overrule our logic (in fact, in many cases, our emotions determine our logic.) The best we can hope for is to watch out for ourselves and to make sure we are out of the way when what we consider to be destructive behavior occurs from our fellow humans.
There is a good reason Atheists have never been above 4% of the population in America, because of the horrors of Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Kim Jong Un, the list goes on, and still goes on today.
Atheism as a political movement is a horrible idea, see above.
Atheism as a ‘social club’ kinda sucks, at least in my experience.
I’ve been to a few of Atheist meet up groups since escaping Plato’s Cave of Shadows 20 yrs ago in search of some like minded people. They all meet in bars or pizza joints that serve alcohol. There’s always alcohol involved. It’s kind of fun at first, but then halfway through the night you realize that there is no agreement about anything. We couldn’t agree on anything, not even a simple word like, ‘evil’ which they believed, had faaaar too much religious baggage to ever be useful and shouldn’t even exist. Shouldn’t? That’s not even a word in philosophy. Who says it shouldn’t? You? Well I say it does exist, in every dictionary in the English language, ever. They wanted us to remove the word ‘evil’ from our discussion.
I thought that’s crazy!
Of course the word evil exists! it’s a common English word used to describe something extremely bad, like the Holocaust, genocide. Turns out they didn’t buy that either. They thought all genocides were extremely exaggerated and just a natural way we humans have of striking a balance between tribes. Same thing happens in every species of Primates.
What about rape?
Nothing ‘extremely bad’ about that! That’s how most mammals are conceived, and a whole lot of other animals.
Is that what you’d say if it was you being raped?
Nah, I kill the MF’er who tried raping me. Then he went on to tell me some things I really didn’t want to hear and I’m sorry I ever went.
That’s about the point at which I found the door.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 10/22/2021 08:56PM by schrodingerscat.
Dave the Atheist Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > "never been above 4% of the population in America" > ... where did you get this bogus christian > number. Actually it's more like 13%
“The number of atheists and agnostics found in common surveys tends to be quite low since, for instance, according to the 2019 Pew Research Center survey they were 3.1% and 4% respectively and according to the 2014 General Social Survey they were 4% and 5% respectively. However, their self-identification and actual views on God do differ since one study observed that out of people who did not believe in God or a universal spirit, only 24% actually self-identified as "atheists" and 15% as "agnostics". In one 2018 research paper using indirect probabilistic methods with considerable uncertainty estimated that 26% of Americans are atheists, which is much higher than the 3%-11% rates that are consistently found in surveys.
A 2012 study by the Pew Research Center reported that, of the U.S. adult population, 19.6% had no religious affiliation and an additional 16% identified as "neither spiritual nor religious". Furthermore, atheists made up 2.4% and agnostics made up 3.3% of the US population. It also notes that a third of adults under the age of 30 are religiously unaffiliated.”
Atheism is simply the rejection of theistic claims. On everything else it is silent. It seems to me that the the OP is claiming that Theism is causing and continuing the "insanity" and that the rejection of theism may abate it. Usually when one abandons a ridiculous set of beliefs, one replaces it with another unjustified set of beliefs. Atheists are not immune. I know a number of atheists who are supporters of the anti-vaccination movement, the "election was stolen" narrative, crystals, numerology, astrology, and "the spirit."
I think it would be better to state that "reason" or "logic" may be the cure for mankind's insanity. Basing one's beliefs on facts and evidence may very well minimize the harm our delusions are causing. I would like to see a world based on works Spinoza, Hume, Russell, and other philosophers of logic and math. I think it would be an infinitely better world. Alas, the anti-intellectual ferver in the US has momentum, and overcoming the "my ignorance is as good as your knowledge" crowd are loud, out, racist, and proud. I despair.