The Atheist Foundation of Australia defines Atheism as:

 

"the acceptance that there is no credible scientific or factually reliable evidence for the existence of a god, gods or the supernatural"

 

Sam Harris is known to "experiment" with personal meditation experiences. Here is what wikipedia has to say about Sam Harris and "spirituality":

 

"Harris wishes to incorporate spirituality in the domain of human reason. He draws inspiration from the practices of Eastern religion, in particular that of meditation, as described principally by Hindu and Buddhist practitioners. By paying close attention to moment-to-moment conscious experience, Harris suggests, it is possible to make our sense of "self" vanish and thereby uncover a new state of personal well-being."

 

He talks of mind states, of "not-self" and other terms which the AFA call on their forums "woo-woo".

 

The reason that the AFA would reject Sam Harris as an atheist is the last 3 words in their definition: "or the supernatural". They see atheism as rejecting not only god/gods (theo) but also the "supernatural", thereby turning atheism into atheiwoowoosm! They staunchly defend their definition beyond and rational logic. Only recently I have understood why that term is in there in the first place. The AFA are in fact, not an atheist organisation but a skeptics organisation. From their website:

 

" The Atheist Foundation of Australia Inc began in South Australia in 1970 when the members of the Rationalist Association of SA decided that a name change would proclaim their basic philosophy"

 

So it appears that all they did was change their name but not their "clothes". This deceptive behaviour has caused some confusion on their forums but they still staunchly maintain their stance.

 

And the great irony in this whole issue? Sam Harris' books are on their recommended reading list!!!

Tags: atheist, australia, foundation, harris, meditation

Views: 367

Replies are closed for this discussion.

Replies to This Discussion

Here Vangelis quotes a wikipedia article (bolded) and makes a personal observation:

Sam Harris is known to "experiment" with personal meditation experiences. Here is what wikipedia has to say about Sam Harris and "spirituality":

 

"Harris wishes to incorporate spirituality in the domain of human reason. He draws inspiration from the practices of Eastern religion, in particular that of meditation, as described principally by Hindu and Buddhist practitioners. By paying close attention to moment-to-moment conscious experience, Harris suggests, it is possible to make our sense of "self" vanish and thereby uncover a new state of personal well-being."

 

He talks of mind states, of "not-self" and other terms which the AFA call on their forums "woo-woo".

 Okay, it's the AFA you were strawmanning, not Harris: silly me! Your redefinition stands as a strawman, unless you can show that the AFA call mindstates "woo". (Don't bother conflating your "mind exists outside the physical" canard into Harris unless he has actually said that, by the way.) 

 

You seem to be developing an attachment to this, anyhow, Vangelis. I may just leave you to it.

 

Have the last word:

I do believe that the mind can exist without the body as a requirement. Do I have "hard" evidence for this? No. However, there are anecdotal stories of people on the operating table that are clinically dead with no electrical activity, no hearbeat and no breathing that have come back and been able to relate details of what was said and done during the time of clinical death of the patient. Not hard evidence but interesting nonetheless.

I don't intend to defend my position nor convince anyone else of it but I do believe the mind can function separately to the body even though they are currently intricately intertwined with each one being able to affect the other.

Black - "Okay, it's the AFA you were strawmanning, not Harris: silly me! Your redefinition stands as a strawman, unless you can show that the AFA call mindstates "woo"."

 

Alright, so we have ascertained by your own admission that I have not misrepresented or "strawmanned" Sam Harris. Thank-you, I didn't think I had.

 

Now for your new claim that I have "strawmanned" the AFA's definition. I have quoted it verbatim as it appears on the AFA website. How is that a strawman? The conclusions that I draw between the AFA definition of atheism and Sam Harris' statements are from logical deduction based on the AFA's definition of atheism. Again, show me where that conclusion is illogical or irrational.

 

Mind states cannot be measured by any known scientific instrument. Therefore there is "no credible scientific evidence" for them - ie woowoo! No strawman, just a comparison between the AfA's "defintion" and Sam Harris' comments to draw the only logical conclusion. Show me otherwise. Show me the strawman in my statement of the AFA definition.

Hi Park,

 

Meditation has nothing to do with "prayer" which is just some form of communication with an imagined deity. Vipassana meditation (which Sam Harris was doing) could I guess be described as a "self-introspection". In vipassana one just notices everything that arises - usually mental fabrications such as thoughts and feelings.

 

Since there is no scientific instrumentation that can monitor individual thoughts and feelings, there is no credible scientific evidence that they even exist thereby making Sam Harris a non-atheist according to the AFA definition.

 

Regards,

 

Vangelis

oh....

 Well I guess you're right.  Even though we know that thoughts are caused by neurons firing in the brain, and EEG's monitor those firing neurons...  I guess according to that explicit definition anyone who believes in love, hate, dreams, and any other brain activity wouldn't be an atheist either, correct?

 

Correct. And that is why I'm saying that the definition of atheism should just be left simple like "the denial of the existence of god(s)". The justification of this statement is a discussion that can be had later - it should not form part of the definition otherwise we risk excluding those that should be called atheist.

Ok, I think that all sides to this discussion have had their say and certainly for me this has been very instructive in helping me further develop my understanding of the various definitions for "atheism". I hope others have also developed a better understanding of the issues regarding these definitions.

 

I haven't done this before so I'm not sure if it's going to work. I am now going to try to close this thread and let it stand as a rewarding discussion on this issue.

 

Thank you all,

 

Vangelis

RSS

Support Atheist Nexus

Donate Today

Donate

 

Help Nexus When You Buy From Amazon

Amazon

AJY

 

© 2014   Atheist Nexus. All rights reserved. Admin: Richard Haynes.

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service