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The Great Issues Forum: Varieties of Nonbelief

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Previous FORAtv comments:
Lary9 Avatar
Posted: 03.09.11, 11:03 AM
The reason 'atheist' is regarded as an impolite term is because people deeply fear atheism. While nobody is going to blatantly call atheism scary or act fearful in proximity to it, they will often behave as though it's simply rude to be Godless in public. An atheist is akin to a communist . Moreover, they are in the same category of social being as a homeless alcoholic to the average person. Atheism represents a set of personal convictions that, although they really aren't contagious per se, they are tantamount to a viral failure of character... no one wants to risk lengthy exposure to such spiritual sedition for fear that it's 'catching'.
Lary9 Avatar
Posted: 03.09.11, 10:05 AM
@Diosibundo~ I know a blind man who claims to have never heard a good argument for the color 'red'. What evidence of redness can we show him? See the point? It's not an arguable hypothesis since it lies outside the domain and range of science.
Lary9 Avatar
Posted: 03.09.11, 09:58 AM
@AdderallApocalypse~ Man! You are 100% correct, sir. I'm impressed with your 'call' on non-overlapping magisteria . That phrase is so cool. I love to use it whenever I can. It sounds like some Civics class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!
Frankystein123 Avatar
Posted: 03.20.10, 01:01 AM
An atheist I am, but that is in no way shape of form a preexisting condition in determining my morality (or lack of) since morality is defined and agreed upon by a community of society, not the commands of being in higher planes of existance than our own. For many religious believers, 'morality' is predefined by (their choice of) god, but there is no possible way to prove the exact paraphrase of god's command in the rightful context let alone god's existance in the first place, thus it would be horrendously wrong to suggest that the high command is what distinguishes between 'good' and 'evil' behaviours. As a result, the sense of morality can only come into existance when civilizations progress enough to the point where the individuals within the communities share a common sense of decency based on childhood upbringings, daily experiences and common sense.
theskunkhour Avatar
Posted: 03.03.10, 09:02 PM
I do agree with to onoma mou a little bit that the lady didn't always seem totally helpful in having a nice fruitful discussion.
theskunkhour Avatar
Posted: 03.03.10, 08:58 PM
I thought it was a lot more pleasant than the debates I see Hitchens and Dawkins having against Christians. Nobody seemed to gain much ground as far as debating goes, but I don't think that was really the point. What they did do is find some common ground and give some clear thinking on the different variations of belief and mostly of non-belief, which I guess what the title said! As far as arguing for or against theism, those kinds of arguments always seem beside the point to me. This is reaching way out of my field of expertise, but I don't think God is a very useful question to science, and I don't think scientific questions are very useful to people's religious lives except for their need to incorporate reason and discernment in a process of mediation between superstitious religious belief and the genuine goldmine of wisdom contained within the world's traditions. I do think a whole lot of atheists get distracted by religious caricature and never end up understanding subtler religious concepts of God as actually meaning things like 'the ground of all being' or 'ultimate reality' (and these concepts weren't simply backed into in order to make religion harder to argue against after originally making scientific propositions about the origins of the universe without evidence, as if to improve something primitive). I think it's much more useful to deeply and honestly inquire into what the word "God" is pointing to which is something more like is-ness itself, rather than thinking of God as a posited scientific proposition. Noooo. To paraphrase a Christian theologian, Paul Tillich: If, when you use the world "God", you are referring to a posited super-being as a means of scientific explanation which may or may not exist, then you are not thinking of God.
to onoma mou Avatar
to onoma mou
Posted: 01.10.10, 09:21 AM
I agree with natdatil, ethorson, and chris tapp. Susan Jacoby effectively prevented any actual discussion from taking place. Arguing about semantics that much is no great help to anyone of any level of understanding. It is a rhetorical defense mechanism used to avoid saying anything about the actual ideas behind the words. Granted, I value accurate and clear use of words, but at some point (in a very short panel discussion about very large issues) one _has_ to move beyond semantics and actually tackle the issues at hand. Language will always be imperfect, but we care about the ideas, not the terms. Her interjections sometimes seem to be meaningless torrents of terminology. Further, she is inconsistent in this passion: she nitpicks about "atheist" and "agnostic" but paints with shamefully broad strokes when she uses terms like "fundamentalist," "liberal," "conservative." to CommonLink, I offer this observation: Jacoby, in all her discussion of terms and her term-dropping, said very little, while McGinn and Turner introduced and explored ideas using _very few_ terms. They expressed the ideas directly and were much easier to understand. Jacoby was abrasive, arrogant, and mean-spirited, all the while derailing the discussion and seemingly oblivious to the civil, thoughtful conversation being had by the two professors. In sum, I feel as though an opportunity for a great discussion among brilliant minds has been lost.
ajstavely711 Avatar
Posted: 01.06.10, 07:53 AM
Diosibundo...I totally agree with your comment on Dawkins. It seems believers and some atheist speak of Dawkins as if he ever claimed that there is no possibility of a god or supreme being. Dawkins goes to great pains to show where he stands on that issue. However, folks have to act as if he did not in order to paint him as irrational as believers. I personally could care less about what people believe if it did not bleed over into public policy and public education...Especially in America!
Posted: 01.01.10, 10:32 AM
I think the discussion could've been more lively had the moderator allowed for a bit more debate. It appeared that he always attempted to change topics when it came Susan's turn to speak to avoid the exchange.
Diosibundo Avatar
Posted: 12.31.09, 12:34 PM
natdatil Really? I find her kind of obnoxious, but I like hiow she slapped around the pro-faith guy in the beginning when he was putting down Dawkins caliming he was "as dogmatic as the religious fundamentalists". Natdatil, what did you find interesting about the discussion?

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