Thursday, May 26, 2011 10:16 PM
I checked out your Soupism link. I understand and support your efforts, but shy away from any atheist manifestos. I am an atheist because I have a logical mind which rejected belief in supernatural events at an early age. Everything I have learned since then has only reinforced that belief. I point out to theists that one''s belief in any theory should only be as strong as the proof backing up that theory, and then ask Christians for example to prove that winged creatures called angels actually exist. When people say that atheism is its own religion, I tell them that they don''t understand the definition of the word, because it means exactly the opposite. Soupism sounds like a religion. Discussing souls and energy may be fun, but it just gives theists something to disagree with. I prefer to keep the theists on the defensive the entire argument. I don''t need to prove anything as an atheist, they need to prove everything they believe in and every contradiction contained in their mythology. The whole point is that there is so much we don''t know, but we don''t need to create religions to help us explain things. If a theists says you need religious beliefs to be moral, ask them if they agree with the morality of the Bible; slavery, death for adultery, etc.. I am amazed at how many intelligent people refuse to question the illogical mythologies called religions, but that is the world we live in. As an atheist I realize how precious life is, and what a blessing family and good friends are. As we get older, I don''t try to destroy a person''s beliefs in religion because it is often a source of deep comfort to many older people, but I do question if this is wise when I see religious people doing stupid things such as attacking homosexuality. Then I wonder if I should really sit on the sidelines....
Wow. What good timing! I have been working on a manifesto section which, I think, really answers a key challenge to atheism. I will send it to you, and will also follow up with a much more complete reply to your comments here. There are so many points you bring up; I want to be sure to address them all. Stay tuned!!! And, thanks for this message. I love these conversations!
I am also amazed at the number of intelligent people I know who buy into Christianity, thus demonstrating (to me, anyway) that there is a fascinating disconnect between the cognitive ability to process sensory input and the emotional need for a comforting explanation of things we don''t know. I''ll be back!
I don''t try to convince anyone they are wrong. For myself, I have written arguments about religion but I do these things as thought exercises only. As I said before, even soupism sounds too much like a religion to me. Why is there a need to find some unifying concept concerning energy which ties things together. Maybe we will discover something in the future but right now some of it sounds as ridiculous as religious beliefs. If you like unifying concepts, I have my own favorite one on morality. All morality is based on the Confucian golden rule. The golden rule is do unto others as you would have others do unto you, and you can find this rule in every religion. Confucius was not religious, he was simply very practical, and being very wise had a little twist to the golden rule, don''t do unto others what you would not want others doing to unto you. There is a big difference, with the standard golden you have this idea that you must go out and do good deeds. With the Confucius version, you must avoid doing bad deeds, which is the basis of all laws. I never read this anywhere, but I came up with this thought while taking a math class on logic and derivatives. I shared it with my math teacher and he liked the concept. Take any law and you find it is just a derivative of the Confucius'' golden rule. But these derivatives are better than the laws of any religion. The laws of Moses accepts slavery, and Christ said he believed in all of the laws of Moses. But using Confucius'' wisdom we would never allow slavery, because we would never want to become a slave. There would be no racism, we would not disrespect another race because we would not want ours to be disrespected. You could go on and on, and would see that just laws are based on the Confucian golden rule. Morality becomes very simple.
It is curious to me that you are "closeted". Even though these days atheists can keep their heads, you are correct that there is strong prejudice against atheism. For that reason, I think it is important for people to see that "good" people come from any and all belief systems. (just like I think it is important for members of any invisible minority to "come out") Silence is deadly.
I agree that your "Confucian golden rule" is really the only moral guideline we need for human society. However, I would point out that it, too, is a "unifying concept".
It is also much more narrow in its scope than Soupism. Soupism is not primarily a moral compass. It is simply a metaphor for our place in the universe.
I am not against speculating about a soupist universal concept, except that it becomes something one needs to defend when talking to a theist. I prefer to be on the offense and let them defend their ridiculous mythologies which I can shred with facts and logic. Except for my math teacher, you are the only person I have shared my theory on a unified morality based on the Confusian golden rule, and yes, it does lend support for finding a unified concept. When Albert Einstein was asked about a unifying theory of religion, he commented that he preferred to work on something much easier like the theory of relativity.
I don''t agree with you that discussing atheism is tantamount to a defense. Perhaps this is just a semantic distinction, but in my conversations with theists, they are the ones who seem defensive - especially in the face of straightforward logic.
This brings me back to the breakthrough that I mentioned above, which answers the only legitimate challenge to atheism that theists can present. Even Dawkins and Ehrman (author of an incredibly fascinating book called "misquoting jesus" that I highly recommend) cave on this challenge. They all say that atheists and theists alike reach a moment where they meet the "unknowable" and have to take a "leap of faith" to justify their beliefs. I submit that atheists are not taking a "leap of faith" in speculating (or hypothesizing) that everything in existence is subject to the laws of physics. This speculation has as it''s basis thousands of years of acquired human knowledge which has steadily debunked mythologies and replaced them with factual observations and conclusions. It is, therefore, an extremely well grounded hypothesis and not a "leap" at all to suggest that this will continue to be the course of human knowledge, and our current mythologies (aka christianity, etc.) will similarly be debunked.
Atheists have a lot of unknowables, but we don''t feel the need to create answers that we swear by and vouch for with supreme confidence. Physics is constantly being rewritten as new discoveries are made. The strength of one''s belief should only be as strong as the evidence supporting the belief. Theists can try to support belief in winged creatures called angels, and I will defend the theory of relativity or quantum physics. Comparing the leap of faith needed to believe in angels or heaven, to the leap of faith in scientific discoveries is absurd. I did not like it when Dawkins made the comparison.
Amen! (ha ha)
photo by Tim Goetting