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Post Reply Religion Vs Atheism
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Posted 6/21/15
To be religious means to believe in a religion, which is to say one believes in some kind of diety. Atheism is the belief that no god or gods exist. If you happen to believe in a god you're a theist, which is to be religious. One can also be either gnostic or agnostic to either of those propositions. Gnosticism deals with knowledge. To be gnostic means you know your position is right and agnostic means you don't know for sure. I'm an agnostic atheist. I don't believe in any gods (atheism), but it's impossible to know for sure the existence of something which has no positive evidence for it's existence. (agnosticism)
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Posted 6/21/15

morechunch wrote:



If you believe in some form of god you are not Atheist.

If by religious teachings you mean the morals that a certain religion preaches then by all means you can be Atheist and believe in the morals of the religion.

You can follow the word of God, but not believe in him.

It was so hard for me to understand what you were saying so sorry if I got it completely wrong.
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Posted 6/21/15

Ejanss wrote:


morechunch wrote:
I wonder if I am a Christian and an Atheist both, which might put me in the crummy camp of Sam Harris. Maybe I miss Extended Discussion more than I let on.


Er, maybe you DO.

You want the comfort of theology, but you also want the social thrill of railing against the Iraqis and the Religious Right, and want to leave some elbow room for which scapegoat to pile all the blame on.
Why not just put "Agnostic" on your forms, that way it still suggests you've got an open mind, and nobody thinks you're going to go into narcissistic Lewis Black rants?



Haha, asking for others' opinions on my view of myself is probably narcissistic, you're right and I'm totally getting self-worth from you paying attention to my question. But I could never agree that God exists, I just don't see it as a possibility. I like the general Christianity, I've given it more thought and I think I'm just a socialist, which is what the church generally supports. It wouldn't be fair to say I'm adhering to Christian values when I'm just being a socialist.
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Posted 6/21/15 , edited 6/21/15

Allync wrote:


morechunch wrote:



If you believe in some form of god you are not Atheist.

If by religious teachings you mean the morals that a certain religion preaches then by all means you can be Atheist and believe in the morals of the religion.

You can follow the word of God, but not believe in him.

It was so hard for me to understand what you were saying so sorry if I got it completely wrong.


I admit to it being complicated, I posted before I truly hashed it out. I used the term gospel to speak about a book of morals and fables that used to be timely and now can be trimmed of untimely content. Like a Christian apologist, except I don't believe in a God. I don't disagree with Christian apologetics on most points except that there is a God. That is a belief that I don't share.

So I'm a product of my environment in many ways, and I couldn't necessarily say I don't share lots and lots of Christian moral sets. But there is no need in my mind to believe in any God to accept these morals. Of course, not all Christians believe in every statement the Bible has to make, nor do I, but the overarching morality of Christianity I'm right in with. And it's not exactly about railing against the moral right, it's about finding the indisputable humanist message within these stories that I believe are totally made up, but still important to my personal understanding of morality.

So yeah, I'm as confused as you are, that's why I put the question out.
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Posted 6/21/15
ahh.

opinions

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Posted 6/22/15
I come from a pretty non-religous family so I may not know what I am talking about, but to be a christian/muslim/buddhist etc does not require a full, naive, non-critical belief in that religions teachings. We have some priests(and other religious head figures) in my country that openly go against the institutionalized teachings of said religion and I think that is a good thing. Religion isn't "believe this and disregard everything else", that's just a powerplay set by the church in the past to convert and keep their followers.

And it is fully possible to be an atheist but still believe in something. Atheism by definition is only the belief that there are no deities. You can still believe in heaven or the afterlife.
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Posted 6/22/15
Quick response to OP before I check out the rest of the thread.

morechunch wrote:

I have a very complicated question that I need answered.

Can you be religious and atheist at the same time?


I think typically the wording most people use for a situation like this is "Spiritual but not religious." There are lots of people who don't believe in gods as described by major religions but believe in various forms of mysticism. Skimming a few answers here shows that there are a few people in that camp that can describe their personal beliefs to you. There are also many ways to redefine the word "god" to mean something more broad, like an overall life force or the embodiment of scientific laws rather than a literal being in the sky who judges you when you die. Primarily its a matter of figuring out what your personal interpretations of these words are.


Can you pray for something that you believe does not exist?


Prayer can be a form of meditation. If it is the form you choose, then yes, you can pray to a nonexistent god, because it is not the content of your prayers but the act of meditating that is going to be beneficial to you. If you find that unsatisfactory, you can explore other kinds of meditation for similar effects.


I've recently been paying attention to Reza Aslan, a self-described Muslim, but is he?

He claims the gospels have only been interpreted literally in the past two centuries. I cannot dispute this claim, he is the historian. But I wonder how somebody can have an allegorical view of their religious doctrine and maintain their adherence to their faith.


I believe that if a person claims to identify as something, then you must respect that claim even if you're skeptical. Any other way is a slippery slope to infinite No True Scotsmans. It is important to ask what makes a person call themselves X when your interpretation of X is Y, and its very valuable to ask that person how they drew their conclusion. But two people who are not that original person cannot successfully speculate on whether or not a person really identifies as something since they lack key information -- access to that person's mind state and thoughts.



Can somebody believe in a religious teaching without believing in the divine? I have always tied the two together, while keeping very American Christian values and denying the divine.


I believe so. Otherwise things like the Golden Rule wouldn't be quite so simultaneously universal and associated with religion. One of the key factors here is that morality isn't inherently religious. This means its possible to take something, especially teachings on ethics, said by a religious figure at face value and remove all ties to the supernatural. If the religious teaching is "turn the other cheek" and you believe that is a good teaching regardless of whether its "what god commands/wants/etc" then you can certainly believe in its value without attaching the baggage of "so I can get into heaven/so i can please god/because its what god wants/etc etc etc". However I do believe at that point it would be more valuable to simply gut what you want out of the religious teachings as well as many other sources and not bother with the baggage of the source material. So much of ethics and morality is independent of religion it isn't necessary to keep the religious aspect, except maybe if you want to save face among peers who would disrespect you or you would have otherwise negative consequences to removing any lipservice to religion from your life. Since you cite American Christian values specifically I assume you're American, and yeah, in America it can be very difficult to be openly atheist, since its one of the most universally distrusted groups in the country.
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Posted 6/22/15

Ctonhunter wrote:



Who are some you recommend then? I like to study and read into both sides of the argument and try to form opinions based off of the research and other arguments. I have thought about reading Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion, but from your post the people you mentioned (excluding Michael Ruse) probably won't give me the best information.


I'm going to strongly disagree with the person who lumped Dan Dennett in with that group. Just because they did that four horseman thing years ago doesn't make them all equal. Dan Dennett is not ignored in the academic world for philosophy as he actively works cognitive scientist studying the nature of consciousness and philosopher looking into the philosophy of mind, biology, and science. I would hope he wouldn't fail an intro course in philosophy because thats the subject he teaches at Tufts.

Back when they were a hot topic, I read all four of the primary "four horseman" texts: God Delusion (Dawkins), God is not Great (Hitchens), Breaking the Spell (Dennett), and End of Faith (Harris). I confess to not remembering Harris well (wasn't fond of him as a writer overall, its possible I didn't finish it) but of the other ones Dennett's was the best because it was based in his own research and the thesis wasn't fundamentally "Religion is Bad and Dumb and Wrong" but "Yeah, we can examine religion with science, lets give it a shot". Meanwhile God Delusion was a recap of pretty much every internet atheist argument, and God is Not Great was mostly Hitchens' personal opinions and memoirs from decades of firsthand experience as a journalist. Compared to the media circus that was the critical response to Dawkins and Hitchens, Dennett's books fly under the radar and suffer only the normal criticisms of anything that questions religion -- that even Ruse suffers.

As far as recommendations go, I would also recommend Bertrand Russell's (philosopher/logician/mathematician) essay "Why I am Not Christian", pretty much any of Bart Ehrman's (bible scholar) critical works, and of course Dan Dennett. However I do recommend Dawkins if you want to read about evolution (go for River out of Eden for a very short introduction) and I found Hitchens' Mortality incredibly moving. I used to read a lot more on these topics but I have found them less interesting over time, and I find books on modern neuroscience more compelling argument than any book on philosophy of religion.
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Posted 6/22/15
"Plus, its not uncommon for a Muslim to lie though."

I'm glad you're educating the community on how to be open-minded. Slandering another position that's different than yours does not make your position anymore correct.
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Posted 6/22/15 , edited 6/22/15

rageofanath wrote:



I think typically the wording most people use for a situation like this is "Spiritual but not religious." There are lots of people who don't believe in gods as described by major religions but believe in various forms of mysticism. Skimming a few answers here shows that there are a few people in that camp that can describe their personal beliefs to you. There are also many ways to redefine the word "god" to mean something more broad, like an overall life force or the embodiment of scientific laws rather than a literal being in the sky who judges you when you die. Primarily its a matter of figuring out what your personal interpretations of these words are.



Your entire response is very appreciated and poignant, but I would like to clarify that anything outside of the realm of literature and physics does not enter my take on reality (this conveniently contains everything from music, biology, psychiatry, and the entire beauty of human experience). I do not believe in anything divine, and I do not believe it is ever a good thing to part out reality to spirituality. Being said, I hold western Christian values, but I am unobservant of the faith. Just as in the middle east many leaders push a cultural agenda that doesn't adhere to western Islamic values.

Catholicism is a good allegory to my personal troubles. The current Pope is driving dogma in a direction that adheres to a global cultural shift of opinion. Is he Catholic? Well, he's definitely the Pope. My question of Reza being Muslim is along the same terms, rhetorically. My question of myself being Christian is a bit dicier.

Not that I'm important or prominent like Reza or the Pope, harkening back to the previous accusation in this thread of narcissism that I find hilarious because I really can't dismiss it, but disbarring spiritualism, how can I hold these specific values that are originally tied to a divine entity? A divine entity that I wholly reject as a reality?

And does Reza, as a Muslim, go through the rigamarole of praying five times a day? I mean, do all self proclaimed Christians go to church once a week? There are levels non-observance in every religion, and if we look at it as a spectrum, I think am still majority western Christian, love your enemies and pray for them and all that, but I'm not able to call myself a Christian because I don't believe in the theology.

I think Marx is a really good author if you want to read about capitalism. Does that make me a communist? I don't believe in a functioning communist economy, but I believe Marx had very important things to say about capitalism. even if I don't share his culture.
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