Why Atheism?

What is religion?
             -the theoretical foundations of religion (its components)

What is science? 
             -the patterns that make up the scientific enterprise; what
allows it to work and why it is necessary

What does science have to say about religion? 
             -determine what benefits religion offers people, and how these could be attained secularly
             -describe the theories that explain the development of religions as natural extensions of psychological and cultural phenomena

What does science tell us about human nature? 
              -evolutionary psychology and anthropology explain what the current thoughts are on humans' constraints and predispositions

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Feel free to post new edits as we add new things

On a related note, memoryplexes can be used to comfort the bereaved it a way similar to that used by traditional religion an the afterlife. I had a discussion with a bereaved parent about this last night (she lost a daughter to suicide some 6 years back) and after explaining the basics of plexs and memes, she felt comforted. I'm really on "my benders" right now (particularly after that) but we should expand on this and supply it as an alternative for bereavement support. Plexes and memes function on two levels here:


1. By discussing the loved one with a third person, the bereaved person gets to share their memories (as memes, if you will) and they copy into the memoryplex of the listener. In such a way, the dead person passes to live on (as a memory) in that new person. I get that this isn't as comforting as being told, you don't really die, but it's more grounded and scientifically valid.


2. The other effect here is context. In a counseling situation, a listener and the bereaved person are usually alone - but the place is "safe". In this way, talking allows the memoryplexes attached to the loss to be reevaluated in that context and placed into a less painful pigeon hole.

I suspect all talking therapies work in a similar way - but crucially the effect is the same as the religious angle - the difference is everything here is 100% natural.

Marc, I've come across the idea of "memoryplexes" here and there, but I've never heard it bundled into one specific term. I think I remember reading that this idea was the invention of yours, Wanderers and Parks? Excuse error. I think I gather from what I've read in this group what you're describing. It is short-hand for "memory complex", yes? I guess it would be easier for those "in the know" to have one term for it. What I worry about, though, is if it creates an unnecessary hurdle for an onlooker, where "memory complex" might suffice. There is also the field of memetics, which you clearly realize, that can be referred to in and of itself. Have you done any studying of memetics? (I have come across ideas contained within it countless times and have developed a sense of its breadth, but never actually bought a book and worked my way through it.) On the flipside, I'm in no way forcefully suggesting that the development of a new term (if it is so) is useless, as it might serve to make an important idea stick out further. An analogy I can think of is the theory of evolution with its "survival of the fittest" and "natural selection" staple "terms". I guess the difference here, still, is that these aren't new terms, but a collection of already existing ones, and they get the job done. Would something like the study of memetics with its sub-concept of "memory complexes" achieve the same thing? I would tend to think a new term is necessary only when it becomes too verbose to capture a critical idea, such as was the case with the term "meme".


I'm really not trying to split hairs or be a thorn in your side, as I think you're on to something here. I would love to see your thoughts on the matter become as robust as they can. Also, keep in mind I'm by no means an authority on language and its usefulness to cultures in different contexts, and I very well may not have grasped the crux of the "memoryplex". If there are inconsistencies here, please help out!

Now that we've got a rough (and limited =) outline, individuals can latch onto areas they take interest in, those they have additional knowledge of, those that are lacking, etc. Have at it!

We should tackle this one right away, I think. I need help here, though. These are in no particular order. Also, this is not a "simple explanation" outline, which I think we might benefit from as well. I'm just doing what I can at the moment with a little google-fu.

What is science?


What are the patterns that make up science?

The scientific method:


(See under "See also" at bottom)


Critical thinking:


(See under "See also" at bottom"

The peer-review process:


That's all for now, and I have a lot to read and learn! On a tangent, I also found this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Portal:Thinking. Looks invaluable.

I'm going to start a discussion on "Tools", so we can start thinking about available services that can facilitate collaboration and organization of our ideas.


Heh, I was wondering about that one, as I scanned down the list.

science and religion will never ever come together...

>This is my view on religion and science!

It certainly seems like this from our perspective. But we need to make the best possible case for this or religious people will continue to find ways to slip out of the grasp of reason. My experience with Islam, for example, is that the attempt to reconcile science and religion is at the forefront. The first copy of a Koran I found, the very first words in the introduction were that Islam is in complete agreement with science. A way of heading off its most dangerous threat, it seemed to me. Further, does the Koran itself not make repeated attempts to show that it is capable of predicting scientific understandings as a way of showing that it truly is the word of god? The examples that come to mind are the "prophecies" that 1. there are waves beneath the waves, 2. there is an immutable border between salt and fresh water, and 3. the fetus looks like a chewed piece of gum. Muslims seem eager to show that these are all scientific truths predicted by the Koran and held up by scientific inquiry.


My response is usually as follows. First of all, if god really wanted to prove that the Koran was really the word of god by revealing miraculous scientific truths, I would have been far more impressed if it said that stars were really fiery balls of gas, or that the earth revolves around the sun, or that the sun revolves around a galactic center, or a million other far more impressive truths discovered since the writing of the Koran. The existence of dark matter is another. These examples, even if they are true, are underwhelming at best.


Secondly, these specific examples don't necessarily even reflect reality. Technically there are "waves beneath the waves", I wouldn't say that this is untrue but rather that this seems like something that might have been obviously true even to the seafaring people of the Arabian peninsula in the time of Mohammed. Hardly a revelation. There is not, however, an immutable barrier between fresh and salt waters. Even fresh water contains some salt, and there is a zone of mixture at the mouths of rivers where fresh water gradually gives way to saltier water. Hardly a "magical" barrier. And at some early stage a fetus may indeed look like a chewed piece of gum, when you note that teeth marks can be made to look like a spine. I'm not sure how fascinating this "realization" is, and less so of how scientific it is. And in any case, might not the writer(s) of the Koran have seen a fetus at some point or another? After killing a pregnant woman and tearing out her insides, for example? In conclusion, these ideas fall far short of prophetic insight into the realizations that science would discover over the centuries. Had the Koran predicted computers, or television, or phones (shoot, even telegraphs), electricity, germs, DNA, plate tectonics, the age of the earth, or the universe, or countless other things which has benefitted (or harmed) man since the writing of the Koran, THAT would have been a difficult thing to disregard. Nuclear power... As it stands, the fact that these were the best god could do to convince people of the authenticity of the Koran does more to UNDERMINE a belief in god than it does to support it.

I agree with what you have said..

and all this is because of the mafia that created by Muslim scholars...


Islam is that particular religion that Muslim scholars are keeping it alive and brainwashing it’s victims when Islam itself has been died a long time ago..


>> Before the time of Galileo, the early books of interpretation of the quran says that the sun sets in a well and the is earth flat.
but the problem here is all because of early Muslim scholars.. Muslim scholars
deny this fact...claiming that the early scholars were wrong..

but at the time of Galileo the problem of early Muslim scholars was,

-They were smart and they used to read Galileo's books...
-They were attempting to bring the Koran and Galileo's books together.


I don't know why the rest of your post went missing. Maybe you edited it out later? Or something went wrong with Nexus, but I thought the whole post was very good. I didn't know this history of Islam, I am no expert on Islam or anything but it is very interesting and useful to know, so thanks. It makes sense that early scholars would A. have a poor understanding of the world as it is, and B. they would try to reconcile their understandings with the new scientific information being discovered elsewhere. Of course, when reconciliation is impossible, such as a belief that the sun drops down into a well (so funny!) and that the earth is flat, you have to throw away the parts that don't make sense anymore, while still trying to keep the essence of your beliefs intact.


I like that muslims tried to keep it a secret that the bulk of their ideas were borrowed (or copied and pasted as you say) from other religions. Its been the same thing for every religion ever, so far as I can tell. Even Judaism seemed to borrow their beliefs from polytheists, or even perhaps from the first monotheists which I've just recently learned weren't the Jews as I had thought but someone else (although I don't remember who). So I guess those were your first two examples, but something happened to 2 through 4, which were:


2. example of anti-knowledge->It is forbidden Learn Aramaic! why?because, you
will find out that the koran was a copy and past from the bible..

3. example of anti-knowledge->It is forbidden Learn philosophy? Why? In order
not to learn free thinking.

4. example of anti-history>It is forbidden debate shia (only scholars can do
this) why? In order for you not to know anything about the bloody facts about
Islamic history.especially this real story> [Burning six copies of the Koran]..
and so on...


#3 was always very interesting to me. In case someone doesn't know, it was actually the early Islamic scholars who SAVED ancient philosophy from Christians (I think, and maybe pagans too). After the fall of Rome, the ancient writings of Plato and Aristotle were lost to the West and only retained by Arabic speakers who translated the Greek into Arabic. It wasn't until much later that those writings were found by Westerners and translated again (maybe into Latin, I don't know, if someone wants to help me with this history stuff I'd be much obliged). So I was always struck by the fact that if it weren't for the Arabs we would have lost perhaps the most important element of western culture, and yet it turned out that the Arabs eventually turned on philosophy as well because it conflicted with a more fundamentalist interpretation of Islam. Before the Crusades the Islamic world was the seat of the highest culture in the world, and we owe them a lot (besides philosophy, also math and one of my personal favorites, soap), but this is the effect of religion on the world. It destroys anything better than itself just for its own self-preservation.


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