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post #1 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

A relatively recent study (https://www.nature.com/articles/s41562-017-0151) shows that there is more or less global distrust of atheists.

The authors state: "Entrenched moral suspicion of atheists suggests that religion’s powerful influence on moral judgements persists, even among non-believers in secular societies." Even among non-believers!

This is nothing new to those of use who do not believe in god - we were the most unpopular group as a whole in the United States until recently, when Muslims finally let us out of the cellar. All of this happens against a backdrop of mountains of evidence that show that atheists live lives at least as moral, upstanding, stable, and compassionate as their fellow believers.

Are we the "new homosexuals?" Will the rise of secularism in the western world - atheism has doubled in recent years, especially among millenials - do for us what growing acknowledgement and acceptance of the gay community did for them? Or are we to forever be the Rodney Dangerfield's of religious thought?

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post #2 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 07:24 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

I don't have a problem with those who don't share my beliefs.

Why would I be suspicious or judgmental about atheists? Why would I distrust you?
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post #3 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 07:45 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

I don't believe in god, but I see that most successful societies have had a significant religious component. From that I have to conclude that on average religion has caused societies to be more successful at out competing other societies. I hypothesize that religion provides a unifying force or mechanism for a small set of people to coordinate the actions of many. Despite this often being used in non-productive ways like building pyramids and cathedrals, it seems to still be a net win. It also seems to provide a mechanism to convince people to sacrifice to support the wishes of the ruling class - generally described as "common good".

Religion has many of the features of government, but is often less expensive to implement because enforcement is provided by a deity who does not require government funding (unlike police). Many early governments were very strongly religion based.

As religion becomes less important in many modern societies, it will be interesting to see how things play out. It will be interesting to see if a well run government ends up being more efficient than a well run religion.


What I find interesting is that in most societies religious people do not seem on average more moral that athiests. That may be a consequence of athiests being a small minority and due to that probably not a representative sample of the general population.
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post #4 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 07:54 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

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I hypothesize that religion provides a unifying force or mechanism for a small set of people to coordinate the actions of many.
I see myself as an outlier in terms of being a Christian - and I tend to be a loner by nature. My beliefs are very solid, yet I don't recall ever experiencing the Christian community as a unifying force in my life. It's actually been the opposite.
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post #5 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 08:07 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

At one level I'd say that you shouldn't. I'm something like an atheist and I'd say that you can trust me.

At another level, if you believe in a deity who watches over us, and will punish us for evil (a common but not universal feature of religion), you might wonder *why* you should trust me. Since I don't have any fear of divine retribution if I commit evil, then what is it that keeps me from doing so when it would be to my benefit?

As a religious person, do you believe that people can be good without the fear of divine consequences. What do you think makes them good.

(I ask because I don't know why I am generally good).


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I don't have a problem with those who don't share my beliefs.

Why would I be suspicious or judgmental about atheists? Why would I distrust you?
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post #6 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 08:15 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

In the UK only 5% go to church and the majority are atheists. They are far more accepted and well thought of than those of us who are Christians.
As for trust, I will trust those who I can see are trustworthy. Most of the Christians I have known in my life I have found trustworthy, but I also know some who don't believe, many in my own family, who I trust.
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post #7 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 08:23 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

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At one level I'd say that you shouldn't. I'm something like an atheist and I'd say that you can trust me.

At another level, if you believe in a deity who watches over us, and will punish us for evil (a common but not universal feature of religion), you might wonder *why* you should trust me. Since I don't have any fear of divine retribution if I commit evil, then what is it that keeps me from doing so when it would be to my benefit?

As a religious person, do you believe that people can be good without the fear of divine consequences. What do you think makes them good.

(I ask because I don't know why I am generally good).
For me its partly because I was bought up to have good values such as honesty and integrity, and partly because I have seen far too many people making a mess so their lives because they made stupid decisions and have acted badly. Also God takes the desire to do wrong things away as we spend time with Him. Again and again I have seen His wise advise work and those who ignore His warnings suffer. Its a no brainer for me, and nothing to do with divine punishment but common sense.
Mr brother who isn't a believer but was bought up with the same parents, is a good man with lots of integrity, but we differ in things such as living together before marriage because we don't share the faith.
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post #8 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 08:37 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

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I don't believe in god, but I see that most successful societies have had a significant religious component.
@uhtred, which societies are those? I can't think of any society that doesn't have a religion. And of the societies that I know about, it's very rare that religion has improved it. Read about the Magdalene Laundries in the Republic of Ireland.

There is a caveat to this since MLK was a minister. I'm making the assumption that since he already had a flock, so to speak, it helped him to gain momentum more quickly when he pursued the more secular goals of civil rights.
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post #9 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 08:38 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

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At one level I'd say that you shouldn't. I'm something like an atheist and I'd say that you can trust me.
I'd give you the same level of trust that I'd offer any stranger. I don't really have any prerequisites for trusting someone. The starting point is the same for all. Now, as I learn more about you as an individual, that'd probably change. I'd trust you more - or less.

Quote:
At another level, if you believe in a deity who watches over us, and will punish us for evil (a common but not universal feature of religion), you might wonder *why* you should trust me. Since I don't have any fear of divine retribution if I commit evil, then what is it that keeps me from doing so when it would be to my benefit?
That's true. That's the chance we take in any relationship. But in terms of what is it that keeps you from doing selfish things, I believe that a conscience is innate from birth. We can weaken it or strengthen it, but it's there.

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As a religious person, do you believe that people can be good without the fear of divine consequences. What do you think makes them good.

(I ask because I don't know why I am generally good).
That's a very tough question. I think we live in a transitory state of both good and bad. But, for me, 'bad' is self-centeredness - that's what 'sinfulness' is.

I believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are 100% other-centered in a way we can't understand. And I believe that any good in any of us is because we're created in the image of God.

One of my favorite characters is Smťagol/Gollum in Lord of the Rings. For me, it's very powerful to watch him struggle within himself. I see all of humanity in him. It's so real - the ugliness that's inside us, yet at the same time, we want to be better and do better.

Last edited by minimalME; 01-25-2018 at 08:58 PM.
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post #10 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 08:40 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

Now atheist will play the victim card.

Give me a break everybodys a victim.

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post #11 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-25-2018, 08:47 PM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

Uh, yeah...

I have lost 'faith' in atheists.

I believe anyone who has no interest in Creation, no interest in the Origin of Life, of living things, is a Flat Earther, a Fat Liner. Having no pulse.
Flat, mentally lazy. Even Steven Hawking and Carl Sagan. Great at Mathematics, sluggards in Philosophy. IMO!!

I accept that some of the leading religions of the world have credibility problems when they say God has a face, *[has anger, compassion, vengeance]...all anthropocentric qualities.
Or, has one one Son, or that Mohamed is the only messenger, blah, blah.
The Eastern Religions seem to come "closer" to some plausible outcome.

Life has these qualities. Response to stimuli.
A learned or innate response.

This identification failing is man's failing not whatever created us. Then again, we were not created 'smart enough' to create a working hypothesis.
Our problem, still.

There may be 'other' created beings who can cite the Origin of Life. The true purpose.
Would we buy it, or believe this explanation? Likely not.


Just blah.

Leaves blowing in the wind.

However, to each his own. I wish you well in life.

You asked my opinion.
I did not offer it up to insult anyone.
Opine out of the blue...with no prompting.

This....This is the nub of the stick that pokes me in the eye when the light of day energizes my optic nerve....SunCMars.... The Allegory of the Cave--> On this, I did a '180' and stepped out. The Lion in Winter. Invictus..By Will, Shall.
The Host, Rd is ill, any years left, remain now, in doubt? Red Dog is now lost to us.
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post #12 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 05:07 AM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

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Originally Posted by Diana7 View Post
In the UK only 5% go to church and the majority are atheists. They are far more accepted and well thought of than those of us who are Christians.
As for trust, I will trust those who I can see are trustworthy. Most of the Christians I have known in my life I have found trustworthy, but I also know some who don't believe, many in my own family, who I trust.
Having been brought up in the UK, that is my experience too.

Religion covers can a few aspects of society:
- Conformity, it is important for society that people are domesticated and civilised. This means we obey the law and do not do things that people see as disgusting.
- Spirituality, it is important that people overcome their domestication and live freely. This might mean we break the law and do things that people see as disgusting.
- Science, it is important that we understand the material world.

If someone's understanding of religion is based on the first one and the third, then atheists will be seen as being morally repugnent and beleiving in a very shallow world.
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post #13 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 06:02 AM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

For me the main problem stems from the prejudice by many religious people that non-religious either don't have values or their values are inferior (and not rooted in anything).
The flip side is that many atheists believe that the value systems of the religious are not very robust because many simple follow it because they are scared of god and just want to get into heaven etc.
The crux is (and where the main misunderstanding happens) that moral values don't need to derive from religion for societies to function. The bible may have been a great moral manual at the time (and many values, but not all, are still very much valid), however I think it's perfectly possible to arrive at a robust value system without religion. And it's not like values from the holy texts don't get revised, updated or re-interpreted as time goes by.

One can be good to each other because societies benefit from it as a whole. Just to take this as an example: 'when someone slaps you on the right cheek, turn the left one alsoí: I donít think this is a very balanced value and doubt most Christians live by it truly (in its original meaning). Itís quite clear that if people did this, there would be many taking advantage of it.


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Originally Posted by uhtred View Post
At one level I'd say that you shouldn't. I'm something like an atheist and I'd say that you can trust me.

At another level, if you believe in a deity who watches over us, and will punish us for evil (a common but not universal feature of religion), you might wonder *why* you should trust me. Since I don't have any fear of divine retribution if I commit evil, then what is it that keeps me from doing so when it would be to my benefit?

As a religious person, do you believe that people can be good without the fear of divine consequences. What do you think makes them good.

(I ask because I don't know why I am generally good).
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post #14 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 08:04 AM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

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Why would I be suspicious or judgmental about atheists? Why would I distrust you?
Good questions. I don't believe in God. I've never had an sort of experience that led me to believe there is any sort of higher power. I'm a science girl. I need proof.

But not trusting someone that's an atheist? That has never crossed my mind. I don't think anyone has told me that they didn't trust me because of this. I have been judged a little throughout my life because of this and that's why I just don't discuss my beliefs with very many people.

"Head up. Chin up. You've got this."
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post #15 of 463 (permalink) Old 01-26-2018, 08:28 AM
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Re: Bored with politics. Let's talk about atheists.

Personally I think religion means squat in determining someone's morals. I've know good, and not so good people who are atheists, Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus etc, etc, etc.
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