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AstroRockHunter
2012-Jun-25, 10:51 PM
From Yahoo:

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/loch-ness-monster-used-debunk-evolution-state-funded-190816504.html

Just when you thought it couldn't get any worse!


"Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming more convinced of their existence. Have you heard of the 'Loch Ness Monster' in Scotland? 'Nessie' for short has been recorded on sonar from a small submarine, described by eyewitnesses, and photographed by others. Nessie appears to be a plesiosaur."

Is it any wonder we've fallen behind most of the world in science, math and critical thinking?

Jens
2012-Jun-26, 12:07 AM
On top of the stupidity of using the Loch Ness Monster in a classroom, I find it hard to understand how exactly this would "debunk" evolution. Just because dinosaurs have survived would have no bearing at all on whether the theory of evolution is valid or not. . .

Torsten
2012-Jun-26, 01:02 AM
On top of the stupidity of using the Loch Ness Monster in a classroom, I find it hard to understand how exactly this would "debunk" evolution. Just because dinosaurs have survived would have no bearing at all on whether the theory of evolution is valid or not. . .

Yep, just as the 1938 discovery that Coelacanths (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coelacanth) were not extinct demolished the theory of evolution...

They probably have some convoluted way in which it debunks a strawman version of evolution.

Perhaps universities from other states should be announcing that graduates of these Louisiana schools will not be eligible for enrollment in science programs at their institutions.
This idea was suggested in a 1999 Scientific American editorial after the Kansas Board of Education decided to delete the teaching of evolution from the state's science curriculum.

korjik
2012-Jun-26, 02:13 AM
Last time I checked, we all see a decendent of one form of dino every day. I believe we call them birds.

To go to use the overly flimsy, mostly disproven evidence of Nessie being a plesiosaur as evidence of evolution or not is truly sad.

Jens
2012-Jun-26, 02:27 AM
Perhaps universities from other states should be announcing that graduates of these Louisiana schools will not be eligible for enrollment in science programs at their institutions.
This idea was suggested in a 1999 Scientific American editorial after the Kansas Board of Education decided to delete the teaching of evolution from the state's science curriculum.

I suppose it would act as pressure, but it seems a little bit unfair to children who happened to be born in Kansas and could perhaps be "curable", if you like.

SeanF
2012-Jun-26, 03:11 AM
Vouchers do not make a "state-funded school" any more than food stamps make a "state-funded grocery store."

slang
2012-Jun-26, 05:41 AM
Perhaps universities from other states should be announcing that graduates of these Louisiana schools will not be eligible for enrollment in science programs at their institutions.
This idea was suggested in a 1999 Scientific American editorial after the Kansas Board of Education decided to delete the teaching of evolution from the state's science curriculum.

This already happens. There was a lawsuit in (IIRC) California "recently" where (again IIRC) parents sued a university that specifically barred people from a certain christian school (where no evolution was taught), because those kids could not show they had studied the curriculum required for admittance into that university. If I don't forget I'll hunt down the details this evening.

tnjrp
2012-Jun-26, 06:09 AM
They probably have some convoluted way in which it debunks a strawman version of evolutionI do believe it's to do with showing that the Bible is absolutely correct in every word. Including but not limited to the creation story (or stories, if you like to be filthy pagan :p).

Jens
2012-Jun-26, 06:25 AM
Speaking of the Loch Ness Monster, there's something in google maps:

57.214369,-4.570701

Looks like a giant squid. In fairness, it does seem to have a tail and four limbs. Did somebody put that into the map as a hoax?

Nicolas
2012-Jun-26, 07:16 AM
hull+bow wave+stern wave+ propeller wash = Nessie?

Trebuchet
2012-Jun-26, 04:19 PM
hull+bow wave+stern wave+ propeller wash = Nessie?

That's what it looks like to me.

slang
2012-Jun-26, 05:29 PM
If I don't forget I'll hunt down the details this evening.

Can't seem to find it, perhaps it didn't make it into court. It was somewhere in the past five years or so, unless my memory fails me.

NEOWatcher
2012-Jun-26, 05:35 PM
From Yahoo:

"Are dinosaurs alive today? Scientists are becoming
Is it any wonder we've fallen behind most of the world in science, math and critical thinking?
Apparently the problem is with english too if that's what they define as "scientist"

From the article:

"We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children."
Sure; let them get older before we confuse them. :rolleyes:

At least thier enrollment is low.


This already happens. There was a lawsuit in (IIRC) California "recently" where (again IIRC) parents sued a university that specifically barred people from a certain christian school (where no evolution was taught), because those kids could not show they had studied the curriculum required for admittance into that university. If I don't forget I'll hunt down the details this evening.
I'll be interested in hearing the results and the details. Often times this type of news is someone whining because a certain group couldn't meet requirements rather than the group being banned.

BioSci
2012-Jun-26, 06:02 PM
I'll be interested in hearing the results and the details. Often times this type of news is someone whining because a certain group couldn't meet requirements rather than the group being banned.

The University of California has a standard "a to g subject area requirements" that incoming students must meet from the classes they take from their high school. The list includes English, history, science, math, foreign language, and arts.


The intent of the "a-g" Subject Requirements is to ensure that students can participate fully in the first-year program at the University in a wide variety of fields of study. The requirements are written deliberately for the benefit of all students expecting to enter the University, and not for preparation for specific majors. UC faculty consider the Subject Requirements to be effective preparation, on many levels, for undergraduate work at the University.
...
On an annual basis, public and private California high schools use the "a-g" Online Update web site to submit to UC requested updates to their existing "a-g" course list. It is recommended that new schools develop an "a-g" course list by the time their first class of students are Juniors.
http://www.ucop.edu/a-gGuide/ag/a-g/

The basic Science courses have to meet the state requirements for rigor - Creationism is not science (duh)!

A friend of mine is involved in UC's process of certification of classes. Usually, problems occur because "new" schools (or administrators) just do not know what the requirements are and may not offer the needed classes. But certain schools refused to offer real science and so their classes were not approved and their students not acceptable for admission to UC. Parents/schools sued (and lost).

slang
2012-Jun-26, 06:25 PM
I'll be interested in hearing the results and the details. Often times this type of news is someone whining because a certain group couldn't meet requirements rather than the group being banned.

I'm reasonably certain the case I'm thinking of was covered on The Panda's Thumb (http://pandasthumb.org/), also reasonably certain it was after Kitzmiller vs Dover, which ended Dec. 2005, and I'm only slightly less certain that a University on the western side of the USA was involved. I couldn't find it on the thumb, and it doesn't seem to be in wiki's list of establishment clause cases.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jun-26, 06:26 PM
Come on, is it really any worse than using the Loch Ness Monster to support the theory of evolution?

(That was my attempt at a false dichotomy. How did I do?)

BioSci
2012-Jun-26, 06:26 PM
Can't seem to find it, perhaps it didn't make it into court. It was somewhere in the past five years or so, unless my memory fails me.

Here is a short summary of the action filed against UC: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/acsi-stearns/

The disallowed courses included literature classes that were not up to snuff.


In August 2005, the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), the Calvary Chapel Christian School in Murrieta, CA, and six Calvary Chapel students filed a lawsuit against the University of California. Plaintiffs challenge the process through which UC reviews high school courses submitted for approval as meeting the University’s college preparatory course requirements – known as the a-g requirements...

NEOWatcher
2012-Jun-26, 06:33 PM
The basic Science courses have to meet the state requirements for rigor...
Ah; the fault of the school's (not the uni) offering, not because of testing. Makes sense.
I know some universities have alternate methods through testing, but I'm not sure of the details or if it's actually at the state level for standardized testing.


Parents/schools sued (and lost).
At least the outcome was right.

slang
2012-Jun-26, 06:45 PM
Here is a short summary of the action filed against UC: http://www.universityofcalifornia.edu/news/acsi-stearns/

Ah yes, that's the one I remember. I think... :) It does give some hits on Panda's Thumb (https://www.google.nl/search?q=site%3Apandasthumb.org+acsi+stearns&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:nl:official&client=firefox-a)(google) that seem familiar. And it's (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Association_of_Christian_Schools_International_v._ Roman_Stearns) in wikipedia's "Category:United States creationism and evolution case law", because it wasn't based on the establishment clause. Dang wiki and its lists of categories of lists of categories. ;)

Gillianren
2012-Jun-26, 07:15 PM
Sure; let them get older before we confuse them.

I'll admit I'm not parenting my child, but am I the only person who wants their child exposed to the idea that not everyone thinks the same way I do?


The University of California has a standard "a to g subject area requirements" that incoming students must meet from the classes they take from their high school. The list includes English, history, science, math, foreign language, and arts.

Which is why all of my classmates took two years of a foreign language in high school--even most of the ones who could already pass a proficiency test. My high school friends were all going to apply to the UC system.

AstroRockHunter
2012-Jun-26, 07:41 PM
I'll admit I'm not parenting my child, but am I the only person who wants their child exposed to the idea that not everyone thinks the same way I do?

I agree that everyone should be exposed to the idea that not everyone thinks the was I do. This is not what this is about though.

This is about someone teaching children to think the way they do, rather than to teach them to think about the information that they receive.

mike alexander
2012-Jun-26, 08:37 PM
After watching this sort of thing go on for many decades, I have come to the conclusion that people want their beer, football and fairy tales. And the inalienable right to whine. It is a complete waste of time to appeal to a nature that is not there. Despite my best efforts I really don't care anymore. Let 'em teach whatever they want.

Gillianren
2012-Jun-26, 09:26 PM
I agree that everyone should be exposed to the idea that not everyone thinks the was I do. This is not what this is about though.

This is about someone teaching children to think the way they do, rather than to teach them to think about the information that they receive.

I'm just saying. I've studied banned books, and the argument which seems to come up most is "I don't want my children exposed to that." Well, suck it up--your children are going to be exposed to it. If you don't want them to agree with it, that's your job as a parent. And, yes, evolution is teaching children This Is What Happens. But science is about teaching a certain way of thinking, and the only way to truly remove that is just to not teach children science at all. What's more, quite a lot of kids probably don't learn about evolution until they are old enough to reason, old enough so that they would be living adult lives not all that long ago. I don't remember studying much science at all in elementary school; it's possible that evolution didn't come up in school until junior high. Maybe even biology class in high school, when I was fifteen or sixteen. Laura Ingalls Wilder was teaching when she was that age!

Nereid
2012-Jun-26, 09:28 PM
Apparently, in other countries, the teaching of maths and science, at primary and high school level, is regarded very seriously. For example, look at where countries such as Finland, South Korea, Canada, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand rank, in the PISA league tableWP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment).

What - fundamentally - prevents the US from being in the top 10?

Cougar
2012-Jun-27, 12:20 AM
...in the PISA league tableWP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Programme_for_International_Student_Assessment).

"Shanghai, China" was 1st in all categories in 2009? I imagine if the U.S. only counted the cream of its math and science students, it could also "score" pretty highly. And how does one test "Reading" internationally?

Jens
2012-Jun-27, 02:48 AM
What - fundamentally - prevents the US from being in the top 10?

You probably notice that a number of other sort of superadvanced countries, like the UK, France, and Germany, also don't do all that well. I'm guessing that a large part of it is motivation. I don't think that kids from those countries are particularly motivated to go through the trouble of learning math and science, because it seems to be more glamorous to have a job as a lawyer or musician or investment banker than to be an engineer.

novaderrik
2012-Jun-27, 03:16 AM
sadly, most people that argue against the theory of evolution have no idea what that theory actually is.. they always pull out the "if we evolved from apes, then why are there still apes?" line of thinking and don't believe you when you tell them that the theory of evolution doesn't say that.. they also love to point out when there is a disagreement within the scientific community over some of the finer points of evolution- they see the disagreement as proof that the theory isn't possible and don't believe it when you point out that the scientific method by it's nature is somewhat confrontational in that old ideas are reexamined and modified as new evidence comes in and gets proven better than what it replaces.

tnjrp
2012-Jun-27, 05:16 AM
But they are also very quick to point out that they aren't the ones who are dogmatic (in other words, always in agreement) but instead the scientists are :p

HenrikOlsen
2012-Jun-27, 07:40 AM
"Shanghai, China" was 1st in all categories in 2009? I imagine if the U.S. only counted the cream of its math and science students, it could also "score" pretty highly. And how does one test "Reading" internationally?
From what I remember one of the critiques of the PISA score is that it's filtered on school and city size, with a cutoff below which schools aren't counted.
This means that weighing between urban/suburban/rural schools is different from country to country and since it also depends on the country which of them gets the funding, it basically means that in some countries they get the numbers for the best funded schools, in others they get the numbers for the worst funded schools.

PISA is broken by design and it's meaningless to compare different countries, its only (moderate) usefulness is for comparing results from the same country in previous years.

mike alexander
2012-Jun-27, 03:50 PM
The desire to compress complexity to a single datum and then extrapolate in the direction desired seems to have existed about as long as the single datum itself.

The desire to compress complexity to a single datum, and then ignore that single datum, is even older.

Torsten
2012-Jun-27, 04:22 PM
I suppose it would act as pressure, but it seems a little bit unfair to children who happened to be born in Kansas and could perhaps be "curable", if you like.

Yes, the intent is to apply pressure to reform their content so that it meets the standard set by the university. It's intended as a "heads up" that failure to adequately prepare has consequences.

What is unfair is to expose the students to nonsense such as that cited in the OP. Allowing graduates of these programs a seat at a university next to students who were properly prepared is not fair to either group of students. They should have to demonstrate their knowledge of the prerequisite material, and possibly have to invest extra time in remedial courses.

The decision in the UC example mentioned by slang and BioSci seems correct to me. (Thanks for that.)

When I graduated from high school in BC, the public school system's teaching of English was severely criticized by the universites of this province. The universites were complaining that many applicants, having supposedly graduated with an English 12 credit, did not have the minimum English language skills necessary for continuing with a university education. So, the year I graduated, despite having an "A" in English, I had to write an examination that tested my reading comprehension and ability to express myself. The test results had to be included along with my high school transcript in order to be admitted to the university. That was a consequence of years of declining standards. At the time it didn't seem fair to my cohort of high school graduates, but I like to think that later students benefited from the experience.

Grey
2012-Jun-27, 04:44 PM
Speaking of the Loch Ness Monster, there's something in google maps:

57.214369,-4.570701

Looks like a giant squid. In fairness, it does seem to have a tail and four limbs. Did somebody put that into the map as a hoax?Heh. If you turn on photos (where it shows pictures that people have taken and uploaded), there's a "photo" of Nessie tagged to that point. :)

HenrikOlsen
2012-Jun-27, 06:03 PM
I suppose it would act as pressure, but it seems a little bit unfair to children who happened to be born in Kansas and could perhaps be "curable", if you like.
They can always take remedial schooling to get them over their knowledge deficit.

What would be unfair would be to put the burden of that on the university.

Gillianren
2012-Jun-27, 06:42 PM
Presumably the community colleges would end up taking up a fair amount of slack. It strikes me that these fights to keep evolution out of the schools are only ever at grade school level; presumably, a lot of people are getting an education they've been raised to think was wrong when they hit college. Actually, I have a friend who doesn't accept the idea of human evolution who had a really hard time in a college anthropology class because of that.

NEOWatcher
2012-Jun-27, 07:25 PM
I'll admit I'm not parenting my child, but am I the only person who wants their child exposed to the idea that not everyone thinks the same way I do?
Maybe now it is. When I went to school*, the different views and beliefs were exposed to us in the classroom and we never even thought about who viewed what. We all sang Christmas, Hannuka and other tunes. About the only time there was an issue was "hey, how come we can't get out of class early like those catechism kids do", until I learned it was just another school.

Today, I'm beginning to think that atheism is an organized religion rather than just a view or belief(or lack thereof).


*Yes, there's a thread for that.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-27, 07:55 PM
Today, I'm beginning to think that atheism is an organized religion rather than just a view or belief(or lack thereof).I thought it was already officially regarded as such. It fits the definition, depending on which definition of atheism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_atheism) you use. I'm not sure how far I can explain that without violating rules.

NEOWatcher
2012-Jun-28, 01:16 PM
I was thinking more as a stress on "organized". But; we'll leave it at that.

tnjrp
2012-Jun-29, 04:38 AM
Nonsense, chaps. All you can determine from the word "atheism" alone is that it marks the lack of belief in the divine.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-29, 05:13 AM
Nonsense, chaps. All you can determine from the word "atheism" alone is that it marks the lack of belief in the divine.You're aware that words often have connotations at odds with their denotations, right?

HenrikOlsen
2012-Jun-29, 06:09 AM
Nonsense, chaps. All you can determine from the word "atheism" alone is that it marks the lack of belief in the divine.
That would actually be agnosticism.
Atheism is the belief in the non-existence of god.
Agnosticism is the lack of belief in god.

tnjrp
2012-Jun-29, 06:09 AM
You don't say!

Atheism is still not a religion, any more than theism or deism.

tnjrp
2012-Jun-29, 06:28 AM
Sorry but that's another "nonsense", I'm afraid.

Agnostism is a knowledge position, as per Wikipedia "the view that the truth values of certain claims —especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claims — are unknown or unknowable".

Atheism is a belief position. An atheist can be a gnostic ("knows and therefore believes the divine does not exist") or an agnostic ("has no knowledge of the existence of the divine and does not believe [possibly because of that]").

SkepticJ
2012-Jun-29, 06:33 AM
sadly, most people that argue against the theory of evolution have no idea what that theory actually is.. they always pull out the "if we evolved from apes, then why are there still apes?" line of thinking and don't believe you when you tell them that the theory of evolution doesn't say that.. they also love to point out when there is a disagreement within the scientific community over some of the finer points of evolution- they see the disagreement as proof that the theory isn't possible and don't believe it when you point out that the scientific method by it's nature is somewhat confrontational in that old ideas are reexamined and modified as new evidence comes in and gets proven better than what it replaces.

Try turnabout next time.

Ask them how they think a few humans survived in a world populated by millions of predatory dinosaurs.

Ask them how hundreds of species could occupy the same ecological niche in the same location at the same time.

Ask them how they account for facts like birds have the genes for teeth, but birds do not have teeth.

Ask them how they account for the fact that fossil species are confined to distinct layers, instead of all being jumbled together as one would expect if they coexisted.

Just a few off the top of my head. I'm sure an actual biologist or geologist could come up with some that would make their head spin like a flywheel.

SkepticJ
2012-Jun-29, 06:42 AM
That would actually be agnosticism.
Atheism is the belief in the non-existence of god.
Agnosticism is the lack of belief in god.

Going by their etymology . . .

Gnosis is the Greek word for knowledge. Stick an a in front of it and it means without knowledge.

Theos is the Greek word for god. Stick an a in front and it means, you guessed it, without god(s).

tnjrp
2012-Jun-29, 06:44 AM
And in this case, etymology does work pretty well...

---


Try turnabout next timeBeen there, done that. Doesn't really work.

I could run some choice creationist-style explanations by you but I think I'm walking a thin line in this thread as it so maybe I won't :)

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jun-29, 02:00 PM
What tnjrp said, pretty much.

I assume this thread is on safe ground as long as we're just discussing definitions.

If someone asks you, "What is your favourite sport? Tennis? Golf? Football? Or another one?" and you answer, "None, I'm not interested in sport at all," your answer is likely to be accepted without any fuss. Nobody is going to say, "Aha! You fail to realise that the very act of not taking an interest in sport is itself a kind of sport!"

I assume my analogy is obvious enough.

Fazor
2012-Jun-29, 03:15 PM
I get mad enough when a network television show claims "Real science!" supports stuff like Nessie or Big Foot. A school mentioning it like it's anything more than urban legend? Sigh.

According to the etymology lesson above, they should start calling them "Ascience classes." :-P

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-29, 04:36 PM
If someone asks you, "What is your favourite sport? Tennis? Golf? Football? Or another one?" and you answer, "None, I'm not interested in sport at all," your answer is likely to be accepted without any fuss. Nobody is going to say, "Aha! You fail to realise that the very act of not taking an interest in sport is itself a kind of sport!"

I assume my analogy is obvious enough.Ah, but what if you start a group of people who don't have a favorite sport and start running around telling other people that you don't have a favorite sport... that's starting to sound like "running", although George Carlin wouldn't call that a sport because there's no ball. But people might not agree with you so then, in addition to running and then talking to them, you and your group smack them because you think they're idiots and then run away and apologize from a safe distance. Now, you're playing Brockian Ultra Cricket and that's definitely a sport.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-29, 04:37 PM
You don't say!

Atheism is still not a religion, any more than theism or deism.Then besides defining theism you need to define religion.

The issue isn't that people think atheism has to be defined to be a religion, it's that some atheists behave as if it is a religion and then hide behind the definition to claim it's not. Perhaps there should be a different word for people who behave that way, but I'm not sure we have a consensus on one yet. I'm not sure if or when that can happen since the theists seem content to lump all atheists together and the atheists seem content to count as cohorts those who aren't as sure about reality as they are.

Perikles
2012-Jun-29, 04:40 PM
According to the etymology lesson above, they should start calling them "Ascience classes." :-PNice try, but you can't add the Greek alpha prefix to negate a Latin word, scientia.

Fazor
2012-Jun-29, 04:46 PM
Nice try, but you can't add the Greek alpha prefix to negate a Latin word, scientia.

*I* can, but that's because I've always gone by my own special rules for word making-uppery. I've talked about it before, but I used to make up words with meanings that would be clear through context and use them in reports / research papers just to see if my teachers or professors would call me on it. They never did. Which is almost as sad as this Nessie stuff. ;)

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jun-29, 05:15 PM
The issue isn't that people think atheism has to be defined to be a religion, it's that some atheists behave as if it is a religion and then hide behind the definition to claim it's not.

I've often seen this allegation made, but it's never supported by actual examples. (Usually Richard Dawkins' name gets cited, which kind of smacks of desperation.)

Anyway, what are those unabridged rules of Brockian Ultra Cricket again? The only thing I can remember is that when you apologise, it has to sound genuine, and the winner is the first person to win.

korjik
2012-Jun-29, 05:48 PM
What tnjrp said, pretty much.

I assume this thread is on safe ground as long as we're just discussing definitions.

If someone asks you, "What is your favourite sport? Tennis? Golf? Football? Or another one?" and you answer, "None, I'm not interested in sport at all," your answer is likely to be accepted without any fuss. Nobody is going to say, "Aha! You fail to realise that the very act of not taking an interest in sport is itself a kind of sport!"

I assume my analogy is obvious enough.

Until they go around telling people you cant play your sport here.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jun-29, 05:56 PM
Until they go around telling people you cant play your sport here.

I'm not sure what this adds.

starcanuck64
2012-Jun-29, 06:03 PM
"We try to stay away from all those things that might confuse our children."

I kind of doubt that cryptozoology is going to clear things up.

From what I recall the initial Nessie sighting was probably ducks skimming the water surface of the Loch.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-29, 06:32 PM
I've often seen this allegation made, but it's never supported by actual examples. (Usually Richard Dawkins' name gets cited, which kind of smacks of desperation.)Do you want examples or analysis? A lot of sound examples are anecdotal by nature. Still, whether or not it can be defined as a religion in some circumstances depends on the definition of religion. For some people, sports or a television show is a religion because they act religious about it. Others consider a religion to require a supernatural component or require a superior or supreme being. Researchers of Sociology of Religion suggest that religiosity is a separate component from theology. Dr. Rodney Stark, Sociologist, explains this with regard to new religions in The Rise of Christianity. He states that believers tend to join a group for the social aspects first and only later accept and promote the theology in order to retain position in the group and/or to quell their own cognitive dissonance. This fits well with Group Dynamics theory.

Religion, as extrapolated from this meaning, would refer to the social institution and the activities surrounding the maintenance and growth of the belief that is the identifying cohesive force in the group. What are the common identifiable components of religion? Doctrine is common. Revered writings is another. Faith that there exists a higher power/order (and it should be noted that faith should not be conflated with blind acceptance and hope but is more at discipline regardless of result, from the Latin fidelis). Mysteries and special knowledge is common in some. Proselytizing is common, even in mystery religions, in order to expand their group, to increase power, prestige and cashflow - sometimes using force to compel others to adopt their way. However, shibboleths are also common, no matter how inclusive a group may seem, as a way to identifying ingroup and outgroup - and these are sometimes used as wedges. Magical thinking is also common, in some form. And an important element is a strong emotional reaction to perceived attacks on the foundations of that Faith such as the precepts, the writings or the important people. And sometimes there is also a willingness to sacrifice oneself or one's fortunes for those tightly held convictions on behalf of the movement. I have observed these traits in self-professed atheists. I don't think I can get into details on BAUT though.


Anyway, what are those unabridged rules of Brockian Ultra Cricket again? The only thing I can remember is that when you apologise, it has to sound genuine, and the winner is the first person to win.I don't recall, but that sounds right.

Swift
2012-Jun-29, 08:15 PM
I assume this thread is on safe ground as long as we're just discussing definitions.
I happened to quote Paul, but this is addressed to everyone...

This thread is on fairly safe ground, period. Two of the stated exceptions to the "no religion" rule (rule 12) are:

B) Focused, polite discussion of concepts such as creationism and "intelligent design" which bear direct relevance to astronomy and science, for the purposes of conversing about and addressing misconceptions.

C) Focused, polite discussion of the difference between astronomy (including cosmology) and religion

Note the repeated use of the word "polite". And this thread can not turn into a bashing of anyone's religious beliefs. But particularly if we keep it focused on the OP (the teaching, or not, of evolution) and keep it focused on different beliefs (and not the correctness of those beliefs, except when they conflict with science), we should be fine.

Thank you all for your caution.

Gillianren
2012-Jun-29, 08:20 PM
Nice try, but you can't add the Greek alpha prefix to negate a Latin word, scientia.

You mean like you can't combine "tele-" and "-vision"?


I've often seen this allegation made, but it's never supported by actual examples. (Usually Richard Dawkins' name gets cited, which kind of smacks of desperation.)

Several of my Facebook friends are devout Christians. Several are vehement atheists. I have seen the same things which boil down to "I'm better than you are because of what I believe/don't believe" posted by both. Often with egregious factual errors on both sides.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jun-29, 08:46 PM
Several of my Facebook friends are devout Christians. Several are vehement atheists. I have seen the same things which boil down to "I'm better than you are because of what I believe/don't believe" posted by both. Often with egregious factual errors on both sides.

It may be argued that this is equally uncivilised behaviour on both sides, but so what? It doesn't make atheism a religion - or even like a religion - any more than a punch-up between a believer and non-believer would.

SkepticJ
2012-Jun-29, 11:16 PM
The issue isn't that people think atheism has to be defined to be a religion, it's that some atheists behave as if it is a religion and then hide behind the definition to claim it's not. Perhaps there should be a different word for people who behave that way, but I'm not sure we have a consensus on one yet.

Ideologue.

I dare say the vast majority of atheists are nothing like the obnoxious fanatics you encounter on certain internet sites.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-30, 01:57 AM
Ideologue.

I dare say the vast majority of atheists are nothing like the obnoxious fanatics you encounter on certain internet sites.I wasn't just referring to certain internet sites. It can manifest in different ways, of course. Satanists are atheist, but they are also religious, according to at least a small sampling of them.

Perikles
2012-Jun-30, 05:06 PM
Nice try, but you can't add the Greek alpha prefix to negate a Latin word, scientia.


You mean like you can't combine "tele-" and "-vision"?.Well, I actually just meant the alpha prefix, because there might be confusion with the 'a' prefix from Old English etc., also a from Latin ad, as in away. When I wrote that, I was not able to think offhand of a Greek alpha applied to a Latin word. I would hate anybody to think I've been thinking about this too much, but I now realize it does occasionally happen now and again, in a-sexual for example, so I was quite wrong. Grovelling apology to Fazor (or groveling if he prefers)

mike alexander
2012-Jun-30, 05:21 PM
Playing a bit with definitions, what if the default noun was 'naturalism' instead of 'theism'? What would 'anaturalism' be?

The use of the word 'theism' as the starting point introduces a bit of bias here. Having to define a naturalist starting point as the lack of, or opposite to, theist, when the two really have nothing to do with each other, causes problems.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jun-30, 08:31 PM
Playing a bit with definitions, what if the default noun was 'naturalism' instead of 'theism'? What would 'anaturalism' be?

The use of the word 'theism' as the starting point introduces a bit of bias here. Having to define a naturalist starting point as the lack of, or opposite to, theist, when the two really have nothing to do with each other, causes problems.+1

And if we want to get even more pseudo-technical, a theist believes in a personal deity. So, if an atheist can be described as not believing in a personal god, then deists might be included in atheism since they also do not believe in a personal deity.

Not that it matters. Everyone knows what everyone else means for the most part when they say that Atheism is a religion and Agnosticism, from a scientific perspective, is the proper null hypothesis. What the general consensus of meaning is, is that empiricism cannot prove a negative, such as the non-existence of one or more deities, and so the position that "There is no diety" cannot legitimately be concluded by scientific methods and is therefore an article of belief. Most everyone knows this is the framing of the argument, so I don't know why people bother to argue about it except as an intentional diversion from discussions of substance.

Noclevername
2012-Jun-30, 08:47 PM
Everyone knows

*Screeching brakes sound*

Now, when I hear those words it always sets off a red flag warning. And given that many of my neighbors still consider people who go to a different church to be "heathen", I would strongly suggest we re-examine that phrase.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jun-30, 09:56 PM
Everyone knows what everyone else means for the most part when they say that Atheism is a religion and Agnosticism, from a scientific perspective, is the proper null hypothesis. What the general consensus of meaning is, is that empiricism cannot prove a negative, such as the non-existence of one or more deities, and so the position that "There is no diety" cannot legitimately be concluded by scientific methods and is therefore an article of belief. Most everyone knows this is the framing of the argument, so I don't know why people bother to argue about it except as an intentional diversion from discussions of substance.

Most everyone knows this is the framing of the argument, so I don't know why people bother to argue about it except as an intentional diversion from discussions of substance.

I argue about it because IMO this way of framing it is powerfully unhelpful and misleading and needs to be discarded.

What the general consensus of meaning is, is that empiricism cannot prove a negative, such as the non-existence of one or more deities, and so the position that "There is no diety" cannot legitimately be concluded by scientific methods and is therefore an article of belief.

This is trivial. It is the reason why the notion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was invented.

mike alexander
2012-Jun-30, 10:56 PM
I'm again seeing a problem with definitions here, similar to Van Rijn's Invisible Elf. I have a bit of trouble equating positing something with positing nothing. Making the negation of belief a belief in itself seems an unnecessary complication. It also smells a little funny, but I am not the philosopher to pick it apart.

Scriitor
2012-Jun-30, 11:05 PM
Satanists are atheist

I'm not sure how that works.

mike alexander
2012-Jun-30, 11:15 PM
I'm trying to figure out the Satanist thing myself. Not very hard, though.

Jim
2012-Jul-01, 12:26 AM
Nonsense, chaps. All you can determine from the word "atheism" alone is that it marks the lack of belief in the divine.

I don't care what you say or how much evidence you present, I will always believe in the existence of Bette Midler.

novaderrik
2012-Jul-01, 06:55 AM
Try turnabout next time.

Ask them how they think a few humans survived in a world populated by millions of predatory dinosaurs.

Ask them how hundreds of species could occupy the same ecological niche in the same location at the same time.

Ask them how they account for facts like birds have the genes for teeth, but birds do not have teeth.

Ask them how they account for the fact that fossil species are confined to distinct layers, instead of all being jumbled together as one would expect if they coexisted.

Just a few off the top of my head. I'm sure an actual biologist or geologist could come up with some that would make their head spin like a flywheel.

mysterious ways.. it all comes down to mysterious ways..

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jul-01, 07:34 AM
I'm again seeing a problem with definitions here, similar to Van Rijn's Invisible Elf. I have a bit of trouble equating positing something with positing nothing. Making the negation of belief a belief in itself seems an unnecessary complication. It also smells a little funny, but I am not the philosopher to pick it apart.

(My bold.)

I've seen it many, many times. Heck, I've even been guilty of it myself. This is how I think it works.

Conversations about religious belief are not always as civilised as this one. Often the atheist will try to assert her superiority by calling the believer naive for believing. Unable to counter this directly (the believer can hardly say, "You're naive for not believing!" although he might try), the believer will try to "pull down" the atheist to his own level by arguing, "Atheism is just as much a belief as my religion."

This is clearly nonsense. Anyone is entitled to reject an explanation that they find unsatisfying. That doesn't mean they have subscribed to an alternative explanation.

Perikles
2012-Jul-01, 08:43 AM
Anyone is entitled to reject an explanation that they find unsatisfying. That doesn't mean they have subscribed to an alternative explanation.I am reminded of a heated argument with somebody once who claimed that you were always making a statement by the clothes you wear. I claimed this was nonsense because I wore clothes purely for their warmth and comfort factor. He then argued that the statement I was making was in fact that I wasn't interested in clothes......

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jul-01, 09:00 AM
I am reminded of a heated argument with somebody once who claimed that you were always making a statement by the clothes you wear. I claimed this was nonsense because I wore clothes purely for their warmth and comfort factor. He then argued that the statement I was making was in fact that I wasn't interested in clothes......

:)

When someone really loves a hole, there isn't a peg that they won't hammer in somehow.

Yesterday my wife wore some clothes to make the statement that she'd been gardening.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-01, 11:03 AM
*Screeching brakes sound*

Now, when I hear those words it always sets off a red flag warning. And given that many of my neighbors still consider people who go to a different church to be "heathen", I would strongly suggest we re-examine that phrase.The frame of reference was the people who engage in that level of meta-discussion. If someone is ignorant of the particulars of the arguments on definitions then they're not likely to argue it.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-01, 11:31 AM
I argue about it because IMO this way of framing it is powerfully unhelpful and misleading and needs to be discarded.Why?

I tend to think it's spurious to include people who's perception of reality is not the same as the one that is being promoted. What I make is an observation, but I'm not using it in an argument. It may not be valid to use in a non-meta argument as some here have suggested. It depends on the argument and the point one is trying to make. To me the difference is the finality of the argument invoked with the conceptualization of the yes or no position. If someone answers conclusively "yes" or "no" to the question of the existence of deity, that tends to discourage of end debate. Answering "I don't know" is a different answer and leaves the question unresolved and open to new information.


This is trivial. It is the reason why the notion of the Flying Spaghetti Monster was invented.Actually, I think FSM was invented as a satire. Are you referring to the philosophical burden of proof and unfalsifiability? The claim that there is not, was not or cannot be a deity is itself unfalsifiable. A proper empirical position might be "we do not have the empirical evidence to conclude either way," and that position is more consistent with the common definition of agnosticism. If there is a definitional problem with empirical atheism and non-empirical atheism, perhaps the atheists should purge themselves and one group can go on calling itself atheist and the other might be non-theist or anti-theist (depending on who wins). I know that sounds like a lot of work for what might seem like no gain, but if you want better framing, then making a bright line at empiricism is a good start. After all, when it comes to discussions about religion, science and theology, empiricism is kind of a big deal.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-01, 11:39 AM
I'm not sure how that works.
I'm trying to figure out the Satanist thing myself. Not very hard, though.LaVeyan Satanism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Satan)

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-01, 11:41 AM
I'm again seeing a problem with definitions here, similar to Van Rijn's Invisible Elf. I have a bit of trouble equating positing something with positing nothing. Making the negation of belief a belief in itself seems an unnecessary complication. It also smells a little funny, but I am not the philosopher to pick it apart.There is no spoon.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-01, 11:51 AM
(My bold.)

I've seen it many, many times. Heck, I've even been guilty of it myself. This is how I think it works.

Conversations about religious belief are not always as civilised as this one. Often the atheist will try to assert her superiority by calling the believer naive for believing. Unable to counter this directly (the believer can hardly say, "You're naive for not believing!" although he might try), the believer will try to "pull down" the atheist to his own level by arguing, "Atheism is just as much a belief as my religion."

This is clearly nonsense. Anyone is entitled to reject an explanation that they find unsatisfying. That doesn't mean they have subscribed to an alternative explanation.Just because it's not a good argument (in that case) does not mean it's a not a good observation. As far as arguments go, the observation is probably not useful unless it explicitly affects the status of adherents in the general category of "religious believer" in some material way.

TJMac
2012-Jul-01, 02:19 PM
LaVeyan Satanism (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_Satan)


That, at least, is my educational point for the day. I had, in ignorance it seems, always assumed a "Satanist", to be one who worshiped (not sure if worship is the correct term) the enemy of the Christian god.

Interesting.

TJ

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jul-01, 03:31 PM
I tend to think it's spurious to include people who's perception of reality is not the same as the one that is being promoted. What I make is an observation, but I'm not using it in an argument. It may not be valid to use in a non-meta argument as some here have suggested. It depends on the argument and the point one is trying to make. To me the difference is the finality of the argument invoked with the conceptualization of the yes or no position. If someone answers conclusively "yes" or "no" to the question of the existence of deity, that tends to discourage of end debate. Answering "I don't know" is a different answer and leaves the question unresolved and open to new information.

I have no idea what you just said then. Your posts with examples are much more lucid.


Actually, I think FSM was invented as a satire.

Of course it was meant as satire!


Are you referring to the philosophical burden of proof and unfalsifiability? The claim that there is not, was not or cannot be a deity is itself unfalsifiable.

It was meant as satire against statements such as this one. The claim that there is not, was not or cannot be a flying spaghetti monster is itself unfalsifiable. To which the only sensible reply is, "True, but so what?"


A proper empirical position might be "we do not have the empirical evidence to conclude either way," and that position is more consistent with the common definition of agnosticism.

As has already been pointed out, "atheist" and "agnostic" are not antonyms.

An atheist is someone whose worldview does not require or include a role for supernatural explanations. That's all. Religion simply doesn't come into the equation, and that is why it is a mischaracterisation to call atheism a religion. The correct answer to the question, "What is that guy's religion?" is "none".

Whereas an agnostic can say, "There may, or may not, be a god, empirically it can't be proved either way," an atheist can say, "Whatever. I've seen nothing whatsoever to convince me that there is such thing as a god. Now I might be going out on a limb here, but I'm going to take a chance and work on the basis that there really isn't one. I might be proved wrong one day, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."

In conclusion, an atheist is someone who has distanced himself from religion, for whatever reason. I'm not really interested in breaking it down further.

mike alexander
2012-Jul-01, 04:48 PM
What all this shows is just how deeply theological concepts are embedded in every culture.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-01, 05:03 PM
The frame of reference was the people who engage in that level of meta-discussion. If someone is ignorant of the particulars of the arguments on definitions then they're not likely to argue it.

On the contrary, arguments (or stilted agreements) about the "problem" of lumped-together strawman "unbelievers" (Who are going to hell, you know! Poor things) is rife in many religous communities. Just because they argue out of ignorance doesn't mean they don't argue the subject.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-01, 09:21 PM
I tend to think it's spurious to include people who's perception of reality is not the same as the one that is being promoted. What I make is an observation, but I'm not using it in an argument. It may not be valid to use in a non-meta argument as some here have suggested. It depends on the argument and the point one is trying to make. To me the difference is the finality of the argument invoked with the conceptualization of the yes or no position. If someone answers conclusively "yes" or "no" to the question of the existence of deity, that tends to discourage of end debate. Answering "I don't know" is a different answer and leaves the question unresolved and open to new information.I have no idea what you just said then. Your posts with examples are much more lucid.Which part are you having trouble with? I can try to explain it, but I'm trying not to use terminology that seems biased or for which you may have differing definitions. And examples are exactly what I can't use because they tend to be inflammatory. that's why I'm talking around hot-button issues without stating them. I'm trying to avoid mod action.


Of course it was meant as satire!

It was meant as satire against statements such as this one. The claim that there is not, was not or cannot be a flying spaghetti monster is itself unfalsifiable. To which the only sensible reply is, "True, but so what?"As I said. It depends on how you use it in an argument. Your use is problematic because it ignores one of the main differences between science and religion: epistemology. The scientific method claims empiricism as the only valid method and source of evidence. Religions may or may not have strict epistemological rules, but they often allow some sort of non-empirical methods and sources when they consider evidence.


As has already been pointed out, "atheist" and "agnostic" are not antonyms.Dueling definitions.


An atheist is someone whose worldview does not require or include a role for supernatural explanations. That's all. Religion simply doesn't come into the equation, and that is why it is a mischaracterisation to call atheism a religion. The correct answer to the question, "What is that guy's religion?" is "none".Sociology of religion suggests otherwise. Religion is as religion does. Some atheists are religious about their belief, some aren't. If you include them in your group then you include religion in your group. You can't have it both ways if you're arguing for a purity of definition.


Whereas an agnostic can say, "There may, or may not, be a god, empirically it can't be proved either way," an atheist can say, "Whatever. I've seen nothing whatsoever to convince me that there is such thing as a god. Now I might be going out on a limb here, but I'm going to take a chance and work on the basis that there really isn't one. I might be proved wrong one day, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it."So we are in agreement then, they are different: the latter takes a leap of faith.


In conclusion, an atheist is someone who has distanced himself from religion, for whatever reason. I'm not really interested in breaking it down further.This sounds like a conflation of religion and deity. They are not the same.

Why don't you want to break it down further? Is that because you know I'll win the argument? Or do you mean in general, and is that because you want to treat the subject with a broad brush? That would be a bit hypocritical for someone who says they want to change the framing of the debate.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-01, 09:27 PM
On the contrary, arguments (or stilted agreements) about the "problem" of lumped-together strawman "unbelievers" (Who are going to hell, you know! Poor things) is rife in many religous communities. Just because they argue out of ignorance doesn't mean they don't argue the subject.Please don't mock the beliefs of others. You can make your point without it.

Yes, conflation sometimes happens. Doesn't mean that those of us who are more educated in the particulars need to be bound by it. I happen to think that there is a useful distinction between agnostic and atheist. Some people, on both sides, may not agree that such a distinction is useful. Both sides seem to actually prefer conflation because it fits both sides when it comes to group identity politics. In both cases, I find the lack of distinction to be intellectually lazy.

mike alexander
2012-Jul-01, 09:30 PM
I'm having, still, a bit of a problem with the idea that no belief is a belief. It feels akin to saying darkness is a thing in its own right, instead of saying it is a lack of light. While I can produce a source of light, I can't produce a source of darkness. Just as I cannot, really, produce a source of cold, since cold is not a thing, but a lack of heat.

Nereid
2012-Jul-01, 09:34 PM
Agnostic vs atheist: the very question pre-supposes the person has spent time and (mental) effort thinking about it.

What single noun do we use to describe those who state that they have not given such questions any serious thought, and have no interest, or desire, to ever do so?

From mike alexander's point: are there (or were there) communities in which these sorts of questions are (were) viewed as trivial, or are (were) generally thought of as non-existent?

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-01, 09:50 PM
I'm having, still, a bit of a problem with the idea that no belief is a belief. It feels akin to saying darkness is a thing in its own right, instead of saying it is a lack of light. While I can produce a source of light, I can't produce a source of darkness. Just as I cannot, really, produce a source of cold, since cold is not a thing, but a lack of heat.Why would you expect deity to be analogous?

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jul-01, 10:13 PM
Sociology of religion suggests otherwise. Religion is as religion does.

Highlighting superficial similarities while ignoring key differences is not a useful approach.


Some atheists are religious about their belief, some aren't.

Some atheists are vehement about their stance, some aren't, would be a more honest characterisation.


So we are in agreement then, they are different: the latter takes a leap of faith.

There is no leap of faith involved when someone works on the basis that there is a negligible chance of something being true. When I walk to the train station each morning, I expect not to be hit by a meteorite. I might be wrong, of course, but this is not in any way comparable to investing my faith in something that is not supported by evidence.


Why don't you want to break it down further? Is that because you know I'll win the argument?

I honestly don't think you have an argument to win. So far you appear to be using words that are sometimes used as metaphors for other words (such as "religious" and "vehement") in order to put atheists into the category you want them to be in rather than the category in which they really belong.


Or do you mean in general, and is that because you want to treat the subject with a broad brush? That would be a bit hypocritical for someone who says they want to change the framing of the debate.

I think Mike has nailed this one. As long as you continue to use "believe" to refer to a lack of belief, you are broadly wrong. There is no need to resolve the debate further until you acknowledge this. Unless of course I am simply misunderstanding you.

Noclevername
2012-Jul-01, 10:15 PM
Please don't mock the beliefs of others. You can make your point without it.

Point taken. I withdraw the snark.


Yes, conflation sometimes happens. Doesn't mean that those of us who are more educated in the particulars need to be bound by it. I happen to think that there is a useful distinction between agnostic and atheist. Some people, on both sides, may not agree that such a distinction is useful. Both sides seem to actually prefer conflation because it fits both sides when it comes to group identity politics. In both cases, I find the lack of distinction to be intellectually lazy.

I have found that such conflation happens more often than not among those who profess to be religious; as for agnostics/atheists/deists/pantheists/lapsed Catholics etc. who conflate, I've never encountered any. Most people I know who are not religious (or who are willing to admit such in public) simply say they aren't religious.

Granted, both you and I are necessarily limited in our experiences as to what groups we've come in contact with, resulting in exposure to very different views on the subject.

Gillianren
2012-Jul-01, 10:33 PM
I'm having, still, a bit of a problem with the idea that no belief is a belief. It feels akin to saying darkness is a thing in its own right, instead of saying it is a lack of light. While I can produce a source of light, I can't produce a source of darkness. Just as I cannot, really, produce a source of cold, since cold is not a thing, but a lack of heat.

This may seem like a bit of a semantic argument, but I think there's a difference between not believing there's a god and believing there isn't a god. I think the majority of atheists fall into the former category. There may be a god, but until they see evidence of that, there's no reason to believe it. On the other hand, there are those whose whole worldview is determined by the belief that there isn't a god. They are a small but vocal minority. The former are not by any reasonable definition even a social group, much less a religious one. The latter are the kind who skew the discussion.

tnjrp
2012-Jul-02, 05:29 AM
Proper god-denying is indeed fairly rare (I personally don't know anyone who falls into that category and only know of one or two people on the 'net who claim to do so) because most intelligent people who think about the issue come to understand that it is impossible to say with conviction that any form of divine does not exist. Therefrom it arises that you can at most not be convinced by the positive arguments and what gets passed for evidence for the existence of a particular form of divine.

I doubt even those who actually have taken up the idea that they can know there is nothing divine have a religion. As I've said already, and will repeat below, just having a concept of the divine is not sufficient to mark one as having a religion, albeit lacking the concept of the divine doesn't prevent you from having one either.

---


Then besides defining theism you need to define religionTheism is reasonably well defined. Religion is less well defined but if you start saying mere belief in something, or ideed lack of belief in something, consitutes a religion then you are already sliding down the slippery slope of defining all human endeavour as religion.


The issue isn't that people think atheism has to be defined to be a religionOh it quite definitely is an issue as Paul already has mentioned, several times I think in fact.


it's that some atheists behave as if it is a religion and then hide behind the definition to claim it's notThat is entirely possible, especially given there are indeed even atheistic religions (not all Satanists count for this however), but it still doesn't make the conceptual atheism in and of itself a religion. Except perhaps by your private definition.

Perikles
2012-Jul-02, 05:56 AM
This may seem like a bit of a semantic argument, but I think there's a difference between not believing there's a god and believing there isn't a god. .This doesn't sound remotely trivial to me, and in fact clarifies the confusion in this thread. There are those with some religious beliefs who assume that non-acceptance of their belief automatically means belief in something else. This is of course nonsense, because there is no compulsion actually to believe anything.

Paul Beardsley
2012-Jul-02, 05:56 AM
Theism is reasonably well defined. Religion is less well defined but if you start saying mere belief in something, or ideed lack of belief in something, consitutes a religion then you are already sliding down the slippery slope of defining all human endeavour as religion.

Yes, this is part of my concern.

Supporting a football team, watching Doctor Who or a soap opera, are sometimes characterised as "religious" - "He religiously watches every episode/match." But everybody understands - or should understand - that this is metaphorical use of the word for the purposes of hyperbole or mockery. There are similarities between the hush that falls when the organ starts playing at the start of a church service and the hush that falls when the Doctor Who theme tune begins to play, and there are similarities in the indignation felt when someone disses a particular nomination or a particular incarnation of the Doctor. But clearly one is really religious and the other is not.

There are similarities between someone preaching the divine word, and someone campaigning to have evolution taught in schools. But it is the differences that are significant.

Gillianren
2012-Jul-02, 06:44 AM
This doesn't sound remotely trivial to me, and in fact clarifies the confusion in this thread. There are those with some religious beliefs who assume that non-acceptance of their belief automatically means belief in something else. This is of course nonsense, because there is no compulsion actually to believe anything.

Quite. I generally request that people at least not actively and openly be disrespectful for my faith, but that doesn't mean I expect everyone to agree with it or even think I'm reasonable for having it. (Heck, I don't think I'm entirely reasonable for having it!) I think it would be nice if more people went along with that attitude; I think religious discussions would be less contentious if we could avoid calling everyone foolish, consigned to perdition, or any variant thereof if they didn't agree with us.

Van Rijn
2012-Jul-02, 06:57 AM
As has already been pointed out, "atheist" and "agnostic" are not antonyms.


Indeed, there are agnostic atheists and agnostic theists. There are also gnostic atheists and gnostic theists.


An atheist is someone whose worldview does not require or include a role for supernatural explanations. That's all.


I don't agree with that. An atheist is someone who doesn't believe in a god or gods. However, the definition of "god" can get tricky. Also, some generally recognized religions are considered atheistic. (Buddhism, apparently, as one example, though I don't claim a deep understanding of that religion.)



Religion simply doesn't come into the equation, and that is why it is a mischaracterisation to call atheism a religion. The correct answer to the question, "What is that guy's religion?" is "none".


It definitely isn't reasonable to say atheism is a religion - an atheist might be religious or not, per generally accepted definitions of "religion." Religion is not the same as theism! But an atheist can have a religion.



In conclusion, an atheist is someone who has distanced himself from religion, for whatever reason. I'm not really interested in breaking it down further.

Let me break it down a bit more.

A theist believes a god or gods exist.

An atheist does not believe a god or gods exist.

A gnostic thinks the existence of a god or gods is knowable.

An agnostic thinks the existence of a god or gods is unknowable.

So you can have theists that believe existence is knowable or not.

And you can have atheists that believe existence is knowable or not.

Then you get into the definition of "god" - that can get tricky. A common atheistic position is that gods as defined in well known religions either lack supporting evidence, are defined in a way that makes their existence untestable (unknowable), or as generally described, are logically contradictory, therefore impossible. But if, say, you define "god" as someone or something with abilities based on currently unknown physics (like the common science fiction trope of "sufficiently advanced aliens"), then many atheists would say they would consider the possibility, but they won't believe in them unless, again, supporting evidence is given.

And of course, what is considered as "evidence" is also an issue for atheists and theists, agnostics and gnostics.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-02, 07:13 AM
Highlighting superficial similarities while ignoring key differences is not a useful approach.On the contrary, sociologists of religion are quite serious in their work. Religion and theology are not synonyms and should not be conflated. The similarities are not superficial, it is the half of the argument. You can't hand-wave away context simply because it's inconvenient. I've referenced sociology of religion, mentioned authors and books on the subject and attempted to explain how professionals in the field view it. Why do you think you can arbitrarily dismiss it?


Some atheists are vehement about their stance, some aren't, would be a more honest characterisation.You seem to be conflating a quantitative difference with a qualitative difference. One can be as vehement that they do not have an answer as they can be vehement that they do have an answer (and just as vehement if the answer is negative as if it is positive). The key is the difference, not the vehemence about it. It's what they say, not how strongly they say it. (That's also a problem with the term strong atheism)


There is no leap of faith involved when someone works on the basis that there is a negligible chance of something being true. When I walk to the train station each morning, I expect not to be hit by a meteorite. I might be wrong, of course, but this is not in any way comparable to investing my faith in something that is not supported by evidence.That's not a sound analogy. Cognizance or ignorance of the probability of an event's possible occurence is different than proclaiming there is absolutely no possibility of such an event occurring.

What's important is having an operating assumption, or as you put it, an investment of faith. A leap of faith is a process, not a result. It's an act of discipline. I will admit, at this point, that an atheist may not be making a leap of faith since, now that I think about it, their conclusions may not based on a discipline --It's certainly not based on the discipline of science.


I honestly don't think you have an argument to win. So far you appear to be using words that are sometimes used as metaphors for other words (such as "religious" and "vehement") in order to put atheists into the category you want them to be in rather than the category in which they really belong.Actually, it was Gillianren who used the word "vehement". I was not using religious as a metaphor. I was using the definition used by sociologists of religion, which is supported by Group Dynamics theory. Religion is not the same as theology. A religion is a social institution. We can define that, if you like, to refer specifically to doctrine supporting, among other things, a theological conclusion. Many Atheists have a theological conclusion. It's a conclusion based on faith. It can't be based on science or evidence because science can't make that conclusion using its principles.


I think Mike has nailed this one. As long as you continue to use "believe" to refer to a lack of belief, you are broadly wrong. There is no need to resolve the debate further until you acknowledge this. Unless of course I am simply misunderstanding you.Do you not believe that you have the correct answer?

Van Rijn
2012-Jul-02, 07:31 AM
Theism is reasonably well defined. Religion is less well defined but if you start saying mere belief in something, or ideed lack of belief in something, consitutes a religion then you are already sliding down the slippery slope of defining all human endeavour as religion.


Yes. One of the things that a lot of people miss is that not everyone has the same basic worldview as they do. I find that most people who claim atheism is a religion don't understand the concept of "atheism" and can't see it as a worldview fundamentally different from their own.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-02, 07:36 AM
Proper god-denying is indeed fairly rare (I personally don't know anyone who falls into that category and only know of one or two people on the 'net who claim to do so) because most intelligent people who think about the issue come to understand that it is impossible to say with conviction that any form of divine does not exist. Therefrom it arises that you can at most not be convinced by the positive arguments and what gets passed for evidence for the existence of a particular form of divine.YMMV. I've encountered lots of people, irl and online who are deny the existence of deity.


I doubt even those who actually have taken up the idea that they can know there is nothing divine have a religion. As I've said already, and will repeat below, just having a concept of the divine is not sufficient to mark one as having a religion, albeit lacking the concept of the divine doesn't prevent you from having one either.Again, YMMV. I know people, as I just mentioned, who do treat it like a religion, who are actively also trying to eradicate all religions and theism in particular.


Theism is reasonably well defined. Religion is less well defined but if you start saying mere belief in something, or ideed lack of belief in something, consitutes a religion then you are already sliding down the slippery slope of defining all human endeavour as religion.Right, I haven't gone into detail in every post about it because I'm assuming we're all using the same context of this discussion that the definition refers to the God Question. I can recapitulate that in all my future posts if that will help, but as my posts get more meta and full of explanations and tangential extrapolations it's harder to follow along.


Oh it quite definitely is an issue as Paul already has mentioned, several times I think in fact.On the contrary, it's the activities of atheists that are making people notice them, not the happenstance discovery that some individuals happen to be unsure of the existence of deity or have decided to believe there is not deity. If they were not as a group agitating for change then I suspect we might not be having this discussion unless we were in a comparative religion class.


That is entirely possible, especially given there are indeed even atheistic religions (not all Satanists count for this however), but it still doesn't make the conceptual atheism in and of itself a religion. Except perhaps by your private definition.Right. An individual believing that deity cannot/does not exist is not a religion anymore than an individual believing that a deity does exist is a religion. It becomes a religion is when it becomes a social institution. There are two different points in this thread under discussion.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-02, 07:47 AM
I have found that such conflation happens more often than not among those who profess to be religious; as for agnostics/atheists/deists/pantheists/lapsed Catholics etc. who conflate, I've never encountered any. Most people I know who are not religious (or who are willing to admit such in public) simply say they aren't religious.

Granted, both you and I are necessarily limited in our experiences as to what groups we've come in contact with, resulting in exposure to very different views on the subject.Probably. I studied political science and communications in college and that included a few politics and religion classes and constitutional law briefing issues regarding religious freedom in the US. People at that level make more nuanced arguments because they have to if they hope to do anything constructive in the field. (Of course, they might want to do demagoguery in the field, but I don't consider that to be constructive.)

BTW, I've run across people who both claim they are believers and claim they are not religious. Maybe it's just a Midwestern thing, but according to national surveys, this seems to be popular. What it tends to signify is that persons maintain a belief on the Deity Question, but they are not active in a social organization about it.

Van Rijn
2012-Jul-02, 07:48 AM
You seem to be conflating a quantitative difference with a qualitative difference.


No, there are different kinds of atheism, as well as different kinds of theism. And what definition of "god" should we be using?



What's important is having an operating assumption, or as you put it, an investment of faith. A leap of faith is a process, not a result. It's an act of discipline. I will admit, at this point, that an atheist may not be making a leap of faith since, now that I think about it, their conclusions may not based on a discipline --It's certainly not based on the discipline of science.


Maybe you should learn more about the subject rather than making all these statements.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-02, 07:56 AM
Quite. I generally request that people at least not actively and openly be disrespectful for my faith, but that doesn't mean I expect everyone to agree with it or even think I'm reasonable for having it. (Heck, I don't think I'm entirely reasonable for having it!) I think it would be nice if more people went along with that attitude; I think religious discussions would be less contentious if we could avoid calling everyone foolish, consigned to perdition, or any variant thereof if they didn't agree with us.+1

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-02, 08:01 AM
No, there are different kinds of atheism, as well as different kinds of theism. And what definition of "god" should we be using?That's kinda my point. Including them under the same term is the problem.


Maybe you should learn more about the subject rather than making all these statements.What makes you think I don't?

BTW, the comment I made to which you refer was meant to be half-ironic and did not mean I actually changed my mind. The point has to do with their state of mind.

Van Rijn
2012-Jul-02, 08:12 AM
That's kinda my point. Including them under the same term is the problem.


Why? All atheists lack a belief in gods. That's what the term means. There are different reasons for that lack of belief. There are different definitions of "god." Assuming all atheists have the same reasons, or are using the same definition is a problem though.


What makes you think I don't?

Well, you don't seem to know much about atheists, but you seem to like to make a lot of statements about them.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-02, 08:41 AM
Why? All atheists lack a belief in gods. That's what the term means.If there wasn't a confusion about the meaning of atheist, we wouldn't be having this discussion.


There are different reasons for that lack of belief. There are different definitions of "god." Assuming all atheists have the same reasons, or are using the same definition is a problem though.That's why I've gone to great lengths to make distinctions.


Well, you don't seem to know much about atheists, but you seem to like to make a lot of statements about them.Evasion. Again, what makes you think I don't know much about atheists?

Perikles
2012-Jul-02, 10:18 AM
Again, what makes you think I don't know much about atheists?That's an interesting question - how can anybody actually know anything about an atheist? The only information you have is, by definition, what the person does not believe. Does that constitute knowing anything about them?

swampyankee
2012-Jul-02, 11:56 AM
St Augustine (354 - 430), in his work The literal meaning of Genesis, argued strongly against the very notion of literal interpretation of the Bible when it contradicts common knowledge of the physical world. Indeed, his commentary on his contemporaries who either used or demanded such literal interpretations was not complimentary. Maybe the the people using the Loch Ness monster to attack science have a secret, anti-religious agenda ;)

tnjrp
2012-Jul-02, 12:32 PM
YMMV. I've encountered lots of people, irl and online who are deny the existence of deityOkay. A lot of believers tend to go as far as claim that most if not all atheists in fact are strong atheists AKA god-deniers. Of the prominent atheists, Richard Dawkins for example disagrees and the polls taken on the forum of the Richard Dawkins Foundation and later on Rational Skeptisism seem to indicate that most people who identify as atheists on those do agree with doctor Dawkins' assesment.


I know people, as I just mentioned, who do treat it like a religion, who are actively also trying to eradicate all religions and theism in particularI would say these people are in error, just the same as those who claim atheism is a religion or indeed even "becoming a religion". Theism is not a religion since having a concept of the (personalized) divine is not sufficient to qualify for a religion. As to eradicating religion, well, that is on the agenda for a relatively few people who also happen to be atheists. Certainly the so-called "New Atheists" or "Militant Atheists" are at the very least outspoken about their right to speak their mind about religion and how it is practiced IRL which occasionally gets taken for a call to arms against all religion.


Right, I haven't gone into detail in every post about it because I'm assuming we're all using the same context of this discussion that the definition refers to the God QuestionApparently we don't which was pretty obvious from the moment you started contradicting the idea that atheism is not a religion. There is definitely some definitional difference in the works with you and a number of other posters as well, seems like.


On the contrary, it's the activities of atheists that are making people notice them, not the happenstance discovery that some individuals happen to be unsure of the existence of deity or have decided to believe there is not deity. If they were not as a group agitating for change then I suspect we might not be having this discussion unless we were in a comparative religion classI don't see this as very relevant unless you are still stumbling on the slope I mentioned earlier. Am I in your opinion performing a religious rite by discussing (my) atheism with you as some (not participants of this discussion) have tried to posit?


An individual believing that deity cannot/does not exist is not a religion anymore than an individual believing that a deity does exist is a religionIndeed not. Religion is easiest to indentify when it includes/proscirbes a a social component as you say here...
It becomes a religion is when it becomes a social institution...but seem to jump too extreme a conclusion. Namely, neither atheism or theism in and of themselves are or even can be "social institutions" and not all "social insitutions" involving beliefs are religions. Theism and atheism are stances or positions on a rather specific question and as such they can be parts of philosophies or parts of views of life, which in turn may be incorporated into the "social glue" that holds particular institutions, such a religion, together.

Van Rijn
2012-Jul-02, 05:17 PM
If there wasn't a confusion about the meaning of atheist, we wouldn't be having this discussion.


It's not my fault you haven't done the research.



Evasion. Again, what makes you think I don't know much about atheists?

Evasion? Your confusion about "atheist" (which I had just quoted in the same post!) is one example. Another hilarious example is this:



I will admit, at this point, that an atheist may not be making a leap of faith since, now that I think about it, their conclusions may not based on a discipline --It's certainly not based on the discipline of science.

For one, again, you are incorrectly putting all atheists in the same bucket. And, you will now admit that atheists may not be making a leap of faith, so clearly showing a lack of understanding about that, and then you follow it up with another claim showing your lack of knowledge: Different atheists arrive at their position through different processes. Many do apply the discipline of science, looking at concepts based on the tests of logic and objective evidence, but apparently you didn't know that.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-02, 07:32 PM
Is your reading comprehension bad or are you willfilly misinterpreting my words to make them mean the opposite of what I write? It's getting annoying.


Okay. A lot of believers tend to go as far as claim that most if not all atheists in fact are strong atheists AKA god-deniers. Of the prominent atheists, Richard Dawkins for example disagrees and the polls taken on the forum of the Richard Dawkins Foundation and later on Rational Skeptisism seem to indicate that most people who identify as atheists on those do agree with doctor Dawkins' assesment.What are you talking about? This is not what I wrote. Re-read it. I did not write about the statements of believers referencing atheists, but about atheists speaking about themselves. My statement was quite explicit. How could you mess that up? If you don't even want to try to have a rational discussion without invoking spurious debate tactics, then why even bother?


I would say these people are in error, just the same as those who claim atheism is a religion or indeed even "becoming a religion". Theism is not a religion since having a concept of the (personalized) divine is not sufficient to qualify for a religion. As to eradicating religion, well, that is on the agenda for a relatively few people who also happen to be atheists. Certainly the so-called "New Atheists" or "Militant Atheists" are at the very least outspoken about their right to speak their mind about religion and how it is practiced IRL which occasionally gets taken for a call to arms against all religion.So, even atheists are wrong when they self-identify and self-define? What gives you the authority to take that away from them? And some of them are making a call to arms against all religion. It's not a hypothetical, it's anecdotal.


Apparently we don't which was pretty obvious from the moment you started contradicting the idea that atheism is not a religion. There is definitely some definitional difference in the works with you and a number of other posters as well, seems like.The probabilistic description Paul offered upthread is an answer to the God Question. Even Dawkins appears to acknowledge this.

Anyways, you're taking it out of context, I wasn't referring to the larger discussion but to your complaint: "mere belief in something, or ideed lack of belief in something, consitutes a religion then you are already sliding down the slippery slope of defining all human endeavour as religion." Debating where we draw a brightline in reference to a single issue is different that arguing a slippery slope to unrelated issues.


I don't see this as very relevant unless you are still stumbling on the slope I mentioned earlier. Am I in your opinion performing a religious rite by discussing (my) atheism with you as some (not participants of this discussion) have tried to posit?Dude, how should I know? I can't read your mind any more than you can read the mind of all people who claim to be atheists. If they believe it's a religious rite, then it is, if not, then it's not. That's been my contention all along.


Indeed not. Religion is easiest to indentify when it includes/proscirbes a a social component as you say here......but seem to jump too extreme a conclusion. Namely, neither atheism or theism in and of themselves are or even can be "social institutions" and not all "social insitutions" involving beliefs are religions. Theism and atheism are stances or positions on a rather specific question and as such they can be parts of philosophies or parts of views of life, which in turn may be incorporated into the "social glue" that holds particular institutions, such a religion, together.You're thinking about this to hard. It's not about converting an intangible to tangible, it's about public conception. If atheists organize into a religious organization then the conception is that atheism is a religion. It was asked, pages ago, how people can think atheism is a religion. "What people think" is the context and has been all along. Some people here think that speaking ex cathedra from ivory towers about the purity of etymology seem to have missed this. I don't know about you, but I converse with people who are in the trenches of the culture wars regarding discrimination against atheists fairly regularly and I can tell you it's not as simple or pure as you'd like it to be.

Ara Pacis
2012-Jul-02, 07:49 PM
You too appear to have a reading comprehension problem.

It's not my fault you haven't done the research.What research, what authority on etymology, what arbiter of reality do you refer to?

Are you confused? I'm not. The discussion is about popular conception of atheists. If there was not a popular confusion about the meaning, we would not be debating the confusion of the meaning of the word that is common in the population. Also note, when I say confusion, I don't mean a misunderstanding where one side is clearly correct and the other side is clearly wrong, I mean dueling definitions. Who is right? Why, and under what authority?


Evasion? Your confusion about "atheist" (which I had just quoted in the same post!) is one example. Another hilarious example is this:Yes, evasion, you keep claiming that I am in error and yet refusing to offer proof. Insistence is not evidence.



I will admit, at this point, that an atheist may not be making a leap of faith since, now that I think about it, their conclusions may not based on a discipline --It's certainly not based on the discipline of science.
For one, again, you are incorrectly putting all atheists in the same bucket. And, you will now admit that atheists may not be making a leap of faith, so clearly showing a lack of understanding about that, and then you follow it up with another claim showing your lack of knowledge: Different atheists arrive at their position through different processes.As I already explained earlier, the "admission" was ironic. I was not admitting error, I was admitting that I can't read minds. The conclusion and the way someone arrives at it cannot be known unless they self-identify and give explanation. I have not talked to all atheists, so I only refer to those with whom I have conversed. Some of them are different than the others. Contrary to your statement, I am not putting them all in the same bucket. Other posters have been doing that by claiming that all atheists can fall under the same heading, whereas I have gone to great lengths to make distinctions.


Many do apply the discipline of science, looking at concepts based on the tests of logic and objective evidence, but apparently you didn't know that.And no one, atheist or otherwise, can apply a scientific principle to prove a negative. If a person claims to have done so, it was not science they used.

Swift
2012-Jul-02, 08:17 PM
Things appear to be getting a little heated in this thread. I ask everyone to take it down a notch (or two). Do not accuse other members of deliberately misinterpreting what you wrote, nor of problems with their cognitive abilities. And if you believe someone else is violating the rules, report it, do not respond in kind nor take matters into your own hands.

The conversation will remain cordial, or it will not occur. Actions may include infractions and thread closure.

tnjrp
2012-Jul-03, 11:11 AM
Is your reading comprehension bad or are you willfilly misinterpreting my words to make them mean the opposite of what I write?Or else you are not explaining yourself quite as clearly as you think you are.


What are you talking about? This is not what I wrote. Re-read it. I did not write about the statements of believers referencing atheists, but about atheists speaking about themselvesTo which I commented that your experiences, according to what I know, are either a fluke or - as is the case with several believers – cherry-picked, unintentionally or otherwise.


My statement was quite explicitSo was mine I believe, to the same extent as your writing. IMHO.


So, even atheists are wrong when they self-identify and self-define?Atheists are wrong if they "treat theism as a religion", as per your phrasing it. There is no wriggling out of that hook I'm afraid.


What gives you the authority to take that away from them?Some things you just can't define yourself and expect the other people to agree with you - even if you are an atheist.


And some of them are making a call to arms against all religion. It's not a hypothetical, it's anecdotalNobody is disputing that. What I'm disputing is that they are a majority or even a significant portion of people who, in regards to the pertinent question at hand, identify as atheists.


I wasn't referring to the larger discussion but to your complaint: "mere belief in something, or ideed lack of belief in something, consitutes a religion then you are already sliding down the slippery slope of defining all human endeavour as religion." Debating where we draw a brightline in reference to a single issue is different that arguing a slippery slope to unrelated issuesSo you don't think that by defining atheism as a religion you are in fact at risk of including a lot of other things people in general don't think of as religion. I think I'm going to need to ask for a definition of religion you are using explicitly at this stage since it doesn't seem to be forthcoming. Also...

I can't read your mind any more than you can read the mind of all people who claim to be atheists. If they believe it's a religious rite, then it is, if not, then it's not. That's been my contention all along...I'm going to have to ask you for at least one atheist who actually owns up to practicing religion when he does that. Or, since I'm sure you can find at least one of anything on the Internet, let's make it interesting: provide some location where this attitude is in fact prevalent as opposed to extremely rare.


You're thinking about this to hardQuite the contrary, I do believe you are not thinking about it enough. You are trying to have the cake ("atheists define what atheism means") and eat it too...

If atheists organize into a religious organization then the conception is that atheism is a religion...since atheists don't organize into religious organizations just because they are atheists, but possibly they do organize in other ways and then some people, for whatever reason, decide their organization is religious because they are atheists - and "atheism is a faith innit?!?"


It was asked, pages ago, how people can think atheism is a religion. "What people think" is the context and has been all alongYet people can completely and utterly be deluded about issues, especially those concerning scientific and philosophical concepts. That doesn't mean that those concepts are somehow vague or ill defined, it simply means people don't understand them and/or willingly misconstrue them. I’m especially concerned about the latter because it is more common than you - as in passive you - might think. Might isn’t always right.

Jim
2012-Jul-03, 12:16 PM
Things appear to be getting a little heated in this thread. I ask everyone to take it down a notch (or two). Do not accuse other members of deliberately misinterpreting what you wrote, nor of problems with their cognitive abilities. And if you believe someone else is violating the rules, report it, do not respond in kind nor take matters into your own hands.

The conversation will remain cordial, or it will not occur. Actions may include infractions and thread closure.

Yeah, let's just close it before we have to infract.

(It started out so well, too.)