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!!!
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they are not sophisticated enough to determine if there are thoughts "arising and passing away in consciousness" or mental states such as "the thinker of these thoughts can disappear".
If these are your parameters, then there is no proof of ANY mental state. The evidence for a meditative state is identical to the evidence for happiness, sadness, fear... These phenomena are validated only by shared experiences and available brain scan/EEG technology. Likewise, the meditative, jealous, agitated, and every other potential mental state.
And it's certainly no "The secret"!
Top athletes have been using visualisation techniques to up their performances for a long time, I place meditation in the same ball park. Yet, scientific experiments have not really discerned what's going on in the case of visualisation, and I've never seen any double blind experiments testing the concept... But certainly not any spiritualism, or moral authority, or eastern religious thingy/philosophy. Only difference between Eastern and Western faiths is our icons live in the clouds and their icons live on earth.
Interesting little protest going on here against the ‘evil’ AFA definition (Quite Shakespearian) and I had to chuckle when I read that the AFA is trying to hijack Atheism in Australia.
Don’t look now but the AFA is the largest by far chunk of Atheism in Australia.
We have written more letters to the media and governments, sent more submissions on social issues to our parliaments than the combination of all other secular groups in Oz, were called before the Australian Senate about religious charities (A first and only for Atheism in Australia), fought for a year to get our signs on city buses and won, had television adverts run in most states for months, are in the process of petitioning the United Nations to have the discrimination laws in Australia investigated and changed, held the largest Atheist convention on the planet, runs the most active and successful Atheist Forums in Australia, are having billboards about the Census in most capital cities in Australia, have a fourteen person Public Relations Team (A similar number of Management Committee Members with both these groups very happy with the AFA Definition) that has answered thousands of inquiries from the public, Atheists and of course, our religious friends. (The latter being the main reason for the definition)
There is a small minority of Atheists not quite happy with that situation; with them stamping their feet behind closed doors in protest. Their attempts to create instability and infighting in Atheism are pathetic and really shows the mentality. Fortunately, they have never achieved anything but self-hurt and all signs are things will stay that way.
This stuff I have listed is not a boast, it is how it is. The AFA is carrying the load in Australia and would love nothing better than for other secular orgs to take some of it off of us.
Here is a post on the AFA Forums which goes a long way in explaining the reasons behind the AFA definition.
Most people have the ability to understand it.
This one is bit of a follow up on that theme.
I’ll leave you good people to continue bagging the AFA definition if that is your desire, as it is such a super-important topic. Yeah right! I have actual things to do to keep the Atheist Foundation of Australia as an effective force against irrationality, superstition, and yes, the supernatural.
Your continued ad-hominem attacks I have to state yet again and again really serve no purpose in your irrational defence of an incomprehensible definition. It is quite clear that you consider yourself to be far superior to those around you so you don't have to go out of your way to clearly state it.
I could compare the two of us on many levels, educational, intellectual, financial, eloquence, ego, many, many levels that I might surprise you on. However, that would not be a rational, logical, sensible discussion on a mis-definition of a commonly used and understood word.
However, there is a comparison that must be made. That comparison is not between personalities but organisations. The AFA as an organisation has seen it fit to redefine a word that is in common usage thereby causing confusion and misguidance in the Australian community. What right does the AFA have to define the English language? Does it spend millions of dollars on the study of language? Does it spend a paltry $35,000 to study the English language? I would say that it has not spent $35 to study the English language. In comparison, the Oxford English Dictionary draws on a 35 million pound research programme leading to the resulting definitions in its dictionaries. It pays for the right to define the language. It pays for the right to be the arbiter for the English language. And it pays many millions of pounds and employs a slew of professionals in their fields to define the English language. You do not have that right. The AFA does not have that right. You will never have the power of the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford University Press to determine our language. And this is just one organisation that has taken upon it to research, fund and define the English language. The AFA is way out of its league when it comes to understanding language, its history and its evolution.
David, despite all your vitriol against me, I believe that I have kept my conversations with you civil and rational. To that end, I am going to make a recommendation to you in good faith to constructively help you and the AFA make the changes that you so desperately seek. You have detailed all the letters, submissions, political representation etc that the AFA has been responsible for. You have gone the right way about promoting atheism and communicated and lobbied the right organisations. With respect to language, however, the AFA has taken it upon itself to be its arbiter. This is clearly not the correct course of action. The AFA needs to lobby and discuss the issues with the organisations responsible for and investing in the study of language and its definition. That is the dictionaries, the encyclopaedias and the university language departments that have invested a great deal of time, money and intellectual effort into defining the language.
I hope that you choose to take careful, measured and thoughtful action to change the definition for atheism in the English language by engaging with the relevant organisations rather than forcing a definition which just ends up confusing everyone.
My sincere regards,
I really don’t want to give you anymore oxygen (An intentionally chosen term) as your constant attacks on the AFA are not in your best interest or in the interest of Atheism. The AFA can only benefit with the advertising you are giving it and for that, I thank you, but really, we don’t need it as we are doing okay by ourselves.
I do wish you would read what I have written instead of going off into a rant about the English language. The AFA is not forcing anyone to accept its definition. Maybe you can point out where it has.
I have not attacked the AFA. I have pointed out that your definition of atheism is inconsistent with that given by organisations that spend millions of dollars in researching language and are therefore better equipped to define the word.
I have read every single post in this thread, including yours, I have read all your links and have addressed all your points in my responses (except for most of your ad-hominem attacks). You have failed to do the same and would question if you have read my posts to understand the points I am making.
The AFA forces people to accept its definition when it defends its definition against rational and constructive criticism of it. I have made a suggestion about how you and the AFA can go about changing the definition but clearly you have not read and addressed that suggestion. If you go through the right channels and manage to change the definition of atheism, then that would be great, but to argue a different definition to that commonly accepted by the rest of the world puts you in the position of calling a table a chair when the rest of the world calls it a table.
"Please note the Columbia Encyclopedia version also includes the word supernatural."
Yes, nice cherry-picking, David. Something that you constantly accuse Christians of doing and here you are doing the same. Again, from the Columbia Encyclopaedia:
"Strictly speaking, however, atheism is the denial of the existence of a divinity."
"These definitions from learned people will not be used by the AFA, let me tell you."
And that I shall leave as your failing, not mine.
I shall refrain from using the same childish "QED, I'm done here" retort that I used to use in my schoolground discussions.