Really? Is it?......Theists always bring this up during debates and discussion for whatever reason..I don't know. However, this is a silly notion as atheism is neither a belief or a religion but LACK of belief and LACK of religion. The prefix "A" before theists should be clearly seen as the absence of something, but then again theists don't use common sense.

 

The Merriam-websters dictionary defines religion as; "(1) The service and worship of God or the supernatural (2) : commitment or devotion to religious faith or observance" and those are just 2 of the many definitions I can pick out for the term religion. Now neither of those apply to atheism. There is no service and worship of anything, no devotion  to any religious faith.

 

Theists might argue however, that atheism is a community and we have a set of beliefs and attitudes. I agree, but does that make it a religion? Then going by that logic, drinking beer on a friday night is a religion.

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Comment by Craigart14 on June 12, 2011 at 2:02pm

By any reasonable definition, atheism is not a religion.  Theists, I think, are largely subject to authority.  A colleague told me not long ago that if you're a Christian, you have to accept the Bible as inerrant.  I asked what she thought of all the contradictions, and she said she would have to ask her pastor.  This is a woman with a doctorate in composition and rhetoric.  I wondered why she didn't just look up the contradictions I cited herself and draw her own conclusions.  They seldom understand science, and they seldom know much about the Bible and/or other faiths, so the "holy" book of their faith, interpreted by an often poorly educated spiritual leader who has been called to preach by God--or so they believe.  They can't read their holy books objectively because they've been indoctrinated since early childhood, many can't read well enough to understand a complex text, and very few have any knowledge of the times and cultures that produced that text, so they accept the authority of a pastor, priest, Brahmin, or imam. They also can't unravel the arguments for the big bang or evolution, so they assume that we atheists are accepting the word of the "priests of science" on faith, but I don't have faith in science; I have trust in MODERN science and scientific method.  I've studied evolution a good bit so I can explain it to my students, who generally disbelieve wildly erroneous versions of it passed down to them by other theists--parents, pastors, teachers, etc.  My students reject science because they can't understand it (you should see the hash they make of Origin of Species) and they have been incredibly misinformed.

 

In any kind of scholarship, dictionary definitions of words are not terribly useful.  Dictionaries record how words are being used by the speakers and writers of any given language in general and also recognize that they may be used differently by speakers than by writers and differently by lay people than by experts.  In science--and in any meaningful discussion of religion or philosophy--we need to define our terms.  I am an atheist because I have no religious belief.  Period.  I have considered and rejected all the arguments for lack of reliable evidence or lack of objectivity and/or logic.  I doubt that solid evidence will ever appear, but if it does, I will consider that, too.  In the meantime, I would prefer that my society proceed on the basis of knowledge, not faith-based beliefs, and accept the freedoms that come from knowledge, not the hatred, self-righteousness, sexism, racism, xenophobia, and homophobia that spring from faith. 

Comment by Craigart14 on June 6, 2011 at 2:21pm
Samhita, I don't think Occam's Razor explains all science; I think it's very simplistic to suggest that scientists use it to choose which explanations to adopt and which to reject.  Just as one example, there are tons of evidence for the theory of evolution and none for Biblical (or Vedic or Koranic or Buddhist) special creation except for books written by the adherents of particular religious groups.  There is evidence on one side of the question and myth without evidence on the other.  The basis of scientific method is drawing conclusions from carefully examined empirical evidence, testing those conclusions through observation and experimentation, then publishing your results so other scientists can test them.  Evolution's explanation of the diversity of life is actually much more complicated than the Bible's special creation of individual species.  (I'll stick with the Bible because it's the "sacred" text with which I am most familiar.)  Evolution fits the evidence; special creation does not.  Evolution can be observed, special creation cannot.  The theory of evolution results from objective logic; special creation is a folk tale.  These conclusions have nothing to do with Brother William of Ockham.
Comment by Craigart14 on June 2, 2011 at 8:42am
John, I'm aware that researchers are studying the brain and possible links between humans and machines and that we may be on the verge of a Matrix-like virtual reality.  You have suggested a number of untestable and unfalsifiable scenarios.  We have tons of evidence regarding the formation of stars, planets, and galaxies.  We have tons of evidence confirming the behavior of matter and energy, and tons more confirming evolution.  The evidence for God consists of a few ancient books full of mistakes and contradictions.  There is no reason to think that the sky is a solid dome with holes in it any more than there is to think the moon is made of rock on the side facing us and green cheese on the side that doesn't.  There's no reliable supporting evidence for any of your ideas, so why entertain them?  The argument is a salad of fallacies.  Besides, everybody knows that cats control the world ;-)
Comment by John Camilli on June 1, 2011 at 2:23pm
Comment by John Camilli on June 1, 2011 at 2:13pm

Yeah, I think I was mis-spelling that because of the product line Symantec, lol. See how easily the brain associates things incorrectly? That's why I don't trust what I've observed,or reasoned from my observations, even when it seems completely logical to me.

 

Craig, you will see something like the matrix invented in your lifetime. There's not only plenty to indicate that such a thing is possible, but it's components are being built right now. Check out some of these articles:

- Functioning synapse created using carbon nanotubes

- Imaging technology allows scientists to identify specific mental st...

- Scientists make 'mind-reading machine'

- Full-body immersion virtual reality

- Motorskills operated by external machinery

- Magnetic manipulation of the sense of morality

- Experiments that elude the senses

 

And these are just a tiny sampling of what's been happening in the last few years. Right now, it's all scattered pieces of what will ultimately be needed to create machinery that can seemlessly interface with humans, but once the parts exist, it'll only be a matter of time before we're living in virtual realities. Who's to say we haven't already?

 

As for all your questions about being in a virtual erality, I couldn't answer any of them. I could have been plugged in this morning, and given an entire lifetime of artificial memories, and unless I were ever unplugged and it were revealed to me that they were fake, I would never know the difference. The human mind is easy to trick.

 

And if it were a god tricking us, I could never prove it. As a human, I could never be smart enough to figure out the tricks of such a super-intellect, so if it didn't want me to know it existed, I would simply never know. I might even conclude that it doesn't exist, and feel certain of it beyond a reasonable doubt, and that could all be part of its trick. Perhaps we are an experiment wherein the experimentor wants to see if it can make rational creatures arrive at entirely illogical conclusions. That would be pretty funny, IMO, so if I were a god I might have such an experiment going on, amidst others, lol.

Comment by Craigart14 on June 1, 2011 at 12:54pm

 

Well, we certainly spell "semantics" differently ;-)  I generally avoid using "believe" because it's a slippery word that makes equivocation too easy.  For example, I believe the sun will rise tomorrow because it has come up every day since people began writing and because sunrise is actually an illusion caused by the fact that the earth is spinning at over a thousand miles per hour.  Newton tells us--and his conclusion has been well tested--that bodies in motion tend to stay in motion at a constant speed unless acted upon by an outside force.  As far as we know, there is no outside force powerful enough to stop a spinning planet with an eight thousand mile diameter before morning.  So I THINK the sun will rise tomorrow.  No faith involved, only logical reasoning.  Knowledge is generally testable.  For example, you might be plugged into the Matrix.  Have you always been plugged in?  When did the changeover occur?  Were your distant ancestors plugged in, even before the invention of computers, before the discovery of electricity?  The movie was pretty cool, but no, I couldn't imagine it happening.  When you watch a movie, you willingly suspend your disbelief.  Even if I could imagine it happening, that in no way indicates that it is possible.  We have very powerful imaginations.  Someone imagined Spiderman and Superman and (yum!) Wonder Woman, and many of us have dreams in which we fly without the aid of technology.  I have imagined a wild weekend with Jessica Alba, and that is possible, but very unlikely.  I used to imagine meeting Elizabeth Taylor, but that is impossible because she's dead.

Our senses are easy enough to fool and our experiences are sometimes misleading or confusing.  That's why science tests them.  No, I can't prove "beyond a shadow of a doubt" that fairies and such don't exist, but a lot depends on who is doing the doubting.  Beyond any reasonable doubt, fairies do not exist, nor does the Matrix, nor does God.  In all of history, there is no proof of any supernatural being, yet people insist not only that we believe there IS a supernatural world, but that there is a God who controls both worlds.  Now you're talking about a trickster God who's just messing with us.  Prove that anything supernatural exists.  Start small; bring me a fairy or a leprechaun.  (Wouldn't they turn up as road kill now and then?)  Work your way up to gods.  As for your delusion that you are a computer chip, well, snap out of it.
Comment by John Camilli on June 1, 2011 at 12:11am

I don't believe any of those things any more than you do, Craig, but I can't prove them wrong beyond the shadow of a doubt. Even if it was among my experiences in life to have flown to outter space, I could not call that absolute proof that the sky is not a dome with holes in it because my flight to outter space could have been programmed input. I could be sitting comfortably in a chair, with my brain plugged into a virtual reality, and I would never know unless someone actually unplugged me. I could also be the victim of a trickster god who, being much smarter than I, fed me the exact empirical data that would make me reach some erroneous concluion for its own amusement. Can you prove that either of those scenerios is not possible? Do you really think that if a super-intellect existed, or a Matrix-like virtual reality, that we could not be convinced of the logic of absolutely anything? Wasn't that one of the things that was so damn cool about The Matrix, is that you could actually imagine it happening? And if either of those situations is possible, then everything we think is true could be a farce.

 

Again, I don't believe science is a farce, I really don't. I study science literally every day because I think it's possible that it might lead to a real understanding of the universe some day. But I have never come across any scientific principal that cannot be doubted on one or more premises. All scientific principals flow from three primary assumptions - causality, locality and identity. Now consider causality: take 6 dice, roll them enough times, and you will occassionally come up with the result 1,2,3,4,5,6. Now consider that you've been sitting rolling dice all afternoon to see if you could get this to happen, and right when you do it someone walks in and sees that you just rolled all the dice in order. If that were the only experience they ever had with dice, and they never saw dice again, they might be inclined to believe that dice will always form a sequenced pattern like that. Now compare that anaology to the universe. It's been rolling dice for quite some time, as far as we know, and we havent been here all that long to be observing it. However unprobable, it is possible that the universe is effectively random, like rolling dice, and that we simply happen to be around to observe it at a time when everything is falling into a neat sequence. Viola, we assume causality! We assume that is how the whole of existence works based on a very limited observation. Tomorrow we could wake up to a great pancake rising in the east instead of the sun, or something else totally random, and it would seem absolutely impossible to us. But perhaps the universe has been random all along, and we were only mistaken to draw such a hasty conclusion. Do I think that's the case? No. Can I prove it? No. But since there's no such thing as progress if the universe is totally random, I will continue to assume the principal of causality unless I learn something that leads me to believe otherwise.

 

I can't make the distinction between reasonable doubt and no doubt because reason is a product of experience and experiences are suspect under both of the premises I have mentioned. It occurs to me that we may just have different symmantics. How do you define knowledge and belief? That might clear things up.

Comment by John Camilli on June 1, 2011 at 12:07am

I don't believe any of those things any more than you do, Craig, but I can't prove them wrong beyond the shadow of a doubt. Even if it was among my experiences in life to have flown to outter space, I could not call that absolute proof that the sky is not a dome with holes in it because my flight to outter space could have been programmed input. I could be sitting comfortably in a chair, with my brain plugged into a virtual reality, and I would never know unless someone actually unplugged me. I could also be the victim of a trickster god who, being much smarter than I, fed me the exact empirical data that would make me reach some erroneous concluion for its own amusement. Can you prove that either of those scenerios is not possible? Do you really think that if a super-intellect existed, or a Matrix-like virtual reality, that we could not be convinced of the logic of absolutely anything? Wasn't that one of the things that was so damn cool about The Matrix, is that you could actually imagine it happening? And if either of those situations is possible, then everything we think is true could be a farce.

 

Again, I don't believe science is a farce, I really don't. I study science literally every day because I think it's possible that it might lead to a real understanding of the universe some day. But I have never come across any scientific principal that cannot be doubted on one or more premises. All scientific principals flow from three primary assumptions - causality, locality and identity. Now consider causality: take 6 dice, roll them enough times, and you will occassionally come up with the result 1,2,3,4,5,6. Now consider that you've been sitting rolling dice all afternoon to see if you could get this to happen, and right when you do it someone walks in and sees that you just rolled all the dice in order. If that were the only experience they ever had with dice, and they never saw dice again, they might be inclined to believe that dice will always form a sequenced pattern like that. Now compare that anaology to the universe. It's been rolling dice for quite some time, as far as we know, and we havent been here all that long to be observing it. However unprobable, it is possible that the universe is effectively random, like rolling dice, and that we simply happen to be around to observe it at a time when everything is falling into a neat sequence. Viola, we assume causality! We assume that is how the whole of existence works based on a very limited observation. Tomorrow we could wake up to a great pancake rising in the east instead of the sun, or something else totally random, and it would seem absolutely impossible to us. But perhaps the universe has been random all along, and we were only mistaken to draw such a hasty conclusion. Do I think that's the case? No. Can I prove it? No. But since there's no such thing as progress if the universe is totally random, I will continue to assume the principal of causality unless I learn something that leads me to believe otherwise.

 

It occurs to me that we may just have different symmantics. How do you define knowledge and belief? That might clear things up.

Comment by Craigart14 on May 31, 2011 at 9:57pm

So the sky, then, is a solid dome?  And the stars really are tiny lights stuck on the inside of the dome?  Small enough for the author of Revelation to walk past a fallen star and not be vaporized by the heat?  If radiometric dating works (carbon is only one element that decays at a known rate)?  If matter and energy behave the way we think they do?  Dear me, all these conditionals.  And if there's an omnipotent, omniscient being powerful enough to create a universe billions of light years across simply by speaking, then science is all wrong.  Yet airplanes fly, computers compute, and robots fly to Mars and send back photographs, despite being designed and built by fallible human scientists who could be wrong about everything.  Yet I am at this moment looking at a picture of my house on my other monitor, a picture taken by a satellite.  It is probably much more likely that an incorporeal being magically manipulated matter into stars and planets.

I never said, by the way, that we should act out all of our feelings.  Feelings are like the gas pedal, but luckily we have a steering wheel and brakes in our brains.

 

And I do get up because I have to go to the bathroom.  Lying in a pee-soaked bed would disgust me, and disgust is a pretty strong feeling.  I also know through reason that there's no one but me to clean up the mess and I'll need a place to sleep again tonight.  I stay up because I'm hungry, I like coffee, my dog will pee on the bed too if I don't take her outside, and I care about my work.  Then too, no work, no groceries.

 

Belief, in the sense I think you are using the word, means believing something without convincing evidence.  I don't do that.  I don't believe in science; I trust it because it works.  We haven't had real science for very long, only a couple of centuries, but it's made extraordinary differences in our lives, particularly since the firm establishment of scientific method.  Scientists don't think they prove anything beyond a shadow of a doubt, but beyond a reasonable doubt.  I can't prove there's no God, and you can't prove there are no fairies in my back yard.  Clap if you believe . . . .

Comment by John Camilli on May 31, 2011 at 9:38pm

Agreed. Let's be done with off-topic remarks, shall we Zeigler and John D? Nothing to be gained by us hating each other. Of course I understand if you each want to get one more nasty post in since I got the last, lol. Go for it.

 

Glen, I said I was throwing feces, not cheese, lol.

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