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Old 02-15-2013, 10:07 AM
Utopian Utopian is offline
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Default In the Spirit of Transparency

The general rule in the workplace is don't talk about religion or politics. The same rule often seems to apply socially. The same can be said for philosophy and pretty much anything that actually matters. So when is the right time to talk about these things?

Surely if we can truly have openness and honesty anywhere it is here within the Poly community.

This thread is meant as a precursor to these such subjects, including those that people have a tendancy to shrink away from, to discuss what subjects what we deem important and why, to discuss the areas where subjects converge and to have a general and productive, laid back chat.

This is not a thread to go into great detail but to skirt over subjects to instigate further threads.

...which was instigated by the following post...
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Old 02-15-2013, 10:10 AM
Utopian Utopian is offline
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'Hi Kevin and thanks for the warm welcome. I'm thoroughly disturbed by religion in all honesty - especially the Abrahamic ones. I know America is sadly rife with it. A travesty for a country built on secularism and the pursuit of freedom. It's been suggested that it's actually because or at least partly due to that secularism that has allowed the religious hard selling free-for-all that you find yourself swamped in today. And I know atheists are thoroughly oppressed in America. At least you don't live in the Islamic world. The majority of Muslim scholars would have you killed for your apostasy.
I think we need to firmly protect the rights of the individual. Especially the rights of children to learn and to be given the necessary tools to think for themselves and to have the courage to question things for themselves, not to be intellectually neglected, emotionally abused and socially isolated.
I think that multiculturalism - at least as it is - is a fools game as it safeguards the perpetuation of culture and religion over the rights of the individual and the longer we sit on the slippery slope, the harder the climb will be when we finally decide to do something about it.

To answer your question, I consider myself a 'de-facto atheist' (since reading 'The God Delusion'*). Prior to that I considered myself Agnostic. There was little change in my viewpoint. The shift was largely semantic. I still freely admit that I don't know if there's a God or not. I don't claim to know anything (or if I do I'm happy to correct it) but the word or definition of the word - 'know' is (or should be) largely redundant. We need a concise word for 'believe beyond reasonable doubt' to begin with and then a few more to further define the various layers of that.

*Incidentally, Dawkins (who wrote the book) doesn't even consider himself a 100% atheist in that sense. He happily acknowledges that he doesn't know 100% that there is no God. It's just that the evidence suggests that it's a nonsensical idea that doesn't warrant further pursuit. I'd been led to believe that he was thoroughly up himself and to my shame, had this pre-conception of him before reading his books. He's certainly frustrated but not arrogant nor egotistical in any way as far as I can tell.
I'm 3/4 through 'The Greatest Show on Earth' currently. It's a fantastic book. I never realised just how much evidence there is to support evolution (as if we needed more). From geological to molecular clocks and tree rings. Not to mention the bonus of a vast quantity of surviving fossils, all of which - the isotopes, the tree rings, the fossils - all concur with each other. Of course there's a vast quantity of evidence I've not mentioned with regards to DNA hybridisation and other methods to the same effect, tectonic plates, study of biological variation, experiments using bacteria and guppies that actually show the effects of natural selection/sexual selection before our eyes and the breeding of dogs, chickens and cabbages etc... and it's all thoroughly disprovable but there isn't in all of the concurring evidence, one solitary suggestion to the contrary.

As for 'unconventional thinking' and free will; the closest thing I think we can get to the latter depends of the autonomy/sentiency of the individual. Reason is like religion without religion (or perhaps religion is like reason without reason). It's an all pervading force that is seemingly integral to the foundations of existence. Omnipresent. Unlike the 'will of God' it has no deep seeded bigotry nor megalomania nor wrath nor jealousy nor any of the other things the Bible suggests are all part of His personality.
If we allow reason into our lives - and given enough time I believe it's inevitable - we will discard our superstitions and society will harmonise.

Well that's my laymans rant anyway. I can't claim to be well educated - I went to the worst school in England which was burned down thrice while I was there and got shut down a year or two after my leaving (Joint worst with one other to be precise. I still have the newspaper cutting somewhere).

It's definitely time for me to quit typing.

Laters.'

-me
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Old 02-15-2013, 09:38 PM
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kdt26417 kdt26417 is offline
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Re:
Quote:
"Hi Kevin and thanks for the warm welcome. I'm thoroughly disturbed by religion in all honesty -- especially the Abrahamic ones. I know America is sadly rife with it. A travesty for a country built on secularism and the pursuit of freedom. It's been suggested that it's actually because or at least partly due to that secularism that has allowed the religious hard selling free-for-all that you find yourself swamped in today. And I know atheists are thoroughly oppressed in America. At least you don't live in the Islamic world. The majority of Muslim scholars would have you killed for your apostasy."
Ha-ha, no doubt I would be in deep do-do if I lived in the Muslim world. Basically, I'd have to pretend to be a believer.

Christianity is kind of the definition of "normal" in the United States, although a lot of conservatives lately are complaining that "everyone's an atheist now." Good grief, I think I know exactly one other atheist in this country. Where are all the others hiding? and what are these church buildings I keep seeing on every street corner?

I have a unique "problem to contend with" as I was raised LDS/Mormon, so when I'm in Utah I'm surrounded by believers. Some of my friends and brothers have become agnostic, but I know only one guy who's gone clear to the atheist end of the spectrum.

So, I have had to learn to be diplomatic, and strive to remember what life was like for me when I was a "believer." My oldest brother is still a staunch Mormon, and I have had to learn to speak in a way that is respectful of his beliefs -- despite Christianity's total rejection of, and disrespect toward, atheists. It is commonly said, here in the United States, that if you're an atheist, you're not a *real* American. I suppose I am supposed to move to Sweden or Denmark or something? Heh, even if I tried, I'll bet the immigration laws are too strict to allow me. Being an atheist in America is not unlike being Alice in Wonderland.

Fortunately, my beliefs seldom come up in conversation, especially in conversation with believers. I think they know I'm an atheist, but they also know I won't take crap about it, and will even stop associating with a family member if they start riding me about it.

When push comes to shove, I think Americans are (reluctantly) tolerant of atheists; that is to say, they are more bark than bite. It's an interesting question though, as to whether I could get a job as an organist for a church that knew I was a non-believer.

Utah will always be my "First Base," as I lived about my first 20 years there. The standard there is to indoctrinate the kids from the cradle, which I don't like but I can't do much about it. I sigh and smile at the irony. So many kids will grow up with the confusion I grew up with. At least my few agnostic brothers/friends will teach their kids a little more of an open view of the Universe.

I consider myself a "99%" unbeliever; that is, I hold out about a 1% chance that God exists. More importantly (from my perspective), I hold out about a 3% chance that there is any life after death. Semantically speaking I guess I could call myself an agnostic, but really, 99% atheist is close enough.

Although science isn't always right, I think it's right in modeling life by the process of evolution, and I think humans had "half-ape" ancestors (technically humans *are* apes), which throws a "monkey" wrench into the Adam/Eve story.

I accept that as an organism that can be broken down to the molecular level, I can have the illusion of freewill but not the real thing (unless I soul, and I think it's 97% likely that I don't have a soul). Combined with the unfortunate reality of death, I figure my best move is to enjoy the here and now as much as possible, and treat other people well as much as possible.

Further details are available on request.
Regards,
Kevin T.
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:36 PM
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Thanks Kevin! I had time to read it but after a 12hr shift and another one tomorrow I have no time just now to give you a worthwhile response but I will when I can.

Til then then
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Old 02-16-2013, 09:48 PM
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Looking forward to hearing more when you're rested up.
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Old 02-20-2013, 06:04 PM
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I wonder just how many are pretending for their own sakes and for the sakes of their families/friends. Sadly, I think that due to the nature of the beast, the vast majority buy into it and returning to my disbelief in free will; the chances are that if you or I were born and bred in that world, we too would be joining in in the madness.
The area you live in sounds really claustrophobic*. I spent a while in Toowoomba, just West of Brisbane. I imagine that is akin to your town. Apparently if you want your children to go to a half decent school there, it has to be a Catholic one.
*Why do we say that when we really mean that we feel trapped and not that the particular environment feels trapped which of course would make not a shred of sense. :S
I'm not entirely sure what a Mormon is. Are they the ones that think Jesus came to America?
None of my immediate family are religious thankfully but I know what it's like to be unaccepted by ones family. My father is an overbearing homophobic bigot. I get on with him better than my siblings because I put up with shit quite well. My sister disowned him and hasn't been in contact with either of my parents for years.
I digress, it's a shame you don't feel able to talk to your brother without treading on egg shells. Everybody loses.
I wonder, is he as careful not to speak ill of atheism?
Oni and I watched Alice in Wonderland last night (well, the remake at least which isn't strictly Alice in Wonderland but a kind of seqel).
I don't know that it is so fortunate that your beliefs rarely get an airing. Sometimes I wonder if I talk about it too much. With me it often slips into the conversation. Of course it's really important but it's all a matter of how best to tackle the issue. Frank often walks into a wall.
I have to say (I don't but I will) regarding the church organist comment that I don't think that is an interesting question. Further more, why would an atheist want to be an organist for a church? Screw that. I used to be a choirboy for a local church (we're talking some time ago now). I got out for precicely that reason. I wasn't part of it. The more I thought about it, the less sense it made so one day I asked my mother what she thought and she did one of the best things she's ever done for me as a mother; she advised me to make my own mind up about it. So I did and here I am.
I'm interested to know how you came to your percentages, albeit approximate ones. I can trawl through all the evidence supporting evolution/theism and try to compile a list of all the evidence to suggest there is no god (as far as I know there's nothing to the contrary) but I'd have to be some mathematician to work out the probability that any mythology or fairy tale is inherrently true. How does one come to anything better than a very approximate percentage?
Only a fool is 100% sure of anything of course but if all evidence weighs against a divine creator, what percentage can we estimate in favour of the possibility?
What do you mean by a soul? What is its function? What evidence is there for its existence and how did you come to the 3%?
Until a couple of years ago I still kinda believed in an afterlife and that I had a soul - an etherial conciousness that would continue into it but then I always wanted to escape this existence to a richer, more forfilling one. Wishfull thinking, special pleading... Maybe there is a better than laughable possibility that we are in a simulation or something to that effect and that after life we will go on to or return to some other form of existence but there is still not the slightest piece of evidence to support it.
It seems that if we want heaven to exist and for life everlasting, we have to make it happen in this existence and we can't do that with our heads buried in our own asses.
...well that's why I called myself Utopian.
PS. I couldn't be bothered to proof read that so please don't feel any obligation to give it more than a skim and I appologise for any typos.
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