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Atheists; Do We Have A Right To Believe In God?

Benefits of belief in God?

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#1 Mike Summers

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 12:05 AM

Want to see what some of us think are the benefits of belief in about God.

And....for alleged evo/ atheists. Do you think believers have a "right" to believe in God? What do you think are the negative things about belief in God?

#2 gilbo12345

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 04:13 AM

Personally I think it gives a reason as to why the universe is intelligible and ordered. The natural prerogative of the universe is to go from order to chaos so natural processes cannot create order without defying nature itself. Therefore the naturalist / atheist literally has no explanation for this, and can never will due to how the creation of order actually defies nature. God is the best, (only), explanation for this phenomena.

#3 de_skudd

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 08:07 AM

As to your title of this thread - Question: Atheists; Do WE Have A Right To Believe In God

The answer is; YES, in the same way the Atheist has the right to believe AGAINST God... Or believe in NO God.

Either way, its a religion; and the theists can definitely provide negative things about belief in NO God

#4 Bond007

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Posted 26 February 2013 - 08:48 AM

Id say if someone grew up in the bush somewhere away from all media all evolutionary biology propaganda they innately know there is a creator (obv thats why it is clear cut no excuses when we die, heaven or hell) same as a reading of Genesis by someone in that situation would read (imo) plain 24 hour days of creation (with no outside influence forcing the big bang/billions of years)

#5 Cameron Standal

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:50 AM

(reply from the default position)
The question of "rights" is one of legality and so the answer will be dependent on location.
In most countries the answer is "yes", you do have a right to believe in God.
In some countries you have not only the right but the legal obligation to believe in a specific God (many Islamic states in particular).
In other countries the waters are a bit muddied.
I have not found evidence of any state that compels theistic apostasy. (I am happy to be corrected, I was surprised to not find this)
(I can provide citation for these statements but I think that while I have answered the letter of your question I have not answered it in spirit)
If I take the question to read "Do you think believers should have a "right" to believe in God?" then the answer is simply: "Yes".
As an individual taking the default position though, I must stress that that belief is mine and mine alone. I cannot and do not speak for anyone else.
As for the second part of the question: (once again, in my individual capacity) I do not see any intrinsic benefit or harm in the belief (or lack of belief) in God.

#6 gilbo12345

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 12:43 PM

As an individual taking the default position though, I must stress that that belief is mine and mine alone. I cannot and do not speak for anyone else.



Actually claiming to take the "default" position is in fact speaking for others since you are presupposing that your position is the "default" choice with the majority. There is no way to make this claim without speaking for others, so your statement here is quite self-contradictory.

Welcome to the forum by the way

#7 Cameron Standal

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 06:48 PM

Actually claiming to take the "default" position is in fact speaking for others since you are presupposing that your position is the "default" choice with the majority. There is no way to make this claim without speaking for others, so your statement here is quite self-contradictory. Welcome to the forum by the way

Thanks for the welcome, this should be fun.

No presupposition, majority or choice are required. I stand in the default position precisely because that position requires that no selection has been made.

*waits to have Antony Flew quoted at him*

#8 gilbo12345

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 09:01 PM

Thanks for the welcome, this should be fun. No presupposition, majority or choice are required. I stand in the default position precisely because that position requires that no selection has been made. *waits to have Antony Flew quoted at him*

No worries, so if you agree that people should have the ability to choose, then what are your views on Dawkins who has publicly declared that atheists should strive to abolish religion?

#9 Cameron Standal

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Posted 28 February 2013 - 11:26 PM

Firstly: I do not believe that a "belief in God" is implicitly inclusive of "religion". (Thus far the topic has been the belief in God, religion (while typically founded on a belief in a particular god) is a separate argument)
Secondly: I do not believe that atheists have a responsibility to strive to abolish religion. Atheist activists might work to allow theists to accept their doubts and question their beliefs but to work towards abolition of religion would be ethically, philosophically and practically unsound. Atheism though, outside of activism, is a benign lack of belief - to leverage that as some sort of movement is problematic.

As qualification of these beliefs: my sister is a YEC Christian - I explicitly do not attempt to de-convert her, I do, however, read the literature that she passes to me, consider it and see where I agree and where I disagree. I will, however, never refrain from an honest response to any question that she poses (unless she ever questions conversations that I had with our father shortly before his death - she never needs to know that he accepted Pascal's wager - the only experience that I ever had of him being ethically questionable).

Once again I will reinforce that I do not embrace the term atheist (I wasn't given much choice on signing up to this forum though), I assume the "default position" in this conversation. While "atheism" does tend to suffice in general use it is still linguistically subordinate to theism and has been implicated (however spuriously) in belief arguments. I do not wish that any link be drawn between me and anything with which I have not expressly linked myself.

#10 gilbo12345

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 01:43 AM

Firstly: I do not believe that a "belief in God" is implicitly inclusive of "religion". (Thus far the topic has been the belief in God, religion (while typically founded on a belief in a particular god) is a separate argument) Secondly: I do not believe that atheists have a responsibility to strive to abolish religion. Atheist activists might work to allow theists to accept their doubts and question their beliefs but to work towards abolition of religion would be ethically, philosophically and practically unsound. Atheism though, outside of activism, is a benign lack of belief - to leverage that as some sort of movement is problematic. As qualification of these beliefs: my sister is a YEC Christian - I explicitly do not attempt to de-convert her, I do, however, read the literature that she passes to me, consider it and see where I agree and where I disagree. I will, however, never refrain from an honest response to any question that she poses (unless she ever questions conversations that I had with our father shortly before his death - she never needs to know that he accepted Pascal's wager - the only experience that I ever had of him being ethically questionable). Once again I will reinforce that I do not embrace the term atheist (I wasn't given much choice on signing up to this forum though), I assume the "default position" in this conversation. While "atheism" does tend to suffice in general use it is still linguistically subordinate to theism and has been implicated (however spuriously) in belief arguments. I do not wish that any link be drawn between me and anything with which I have not expressly linked myself.



Seems to me that you are an agnostic since an agnostic by definition is one who refrains from making a selection / choice as you already said before.


"No presupposition, majority or choice are required. I stand in the default position precisely because that position requires that no selection has been made."- You, post 7



Definition
Noun 1. A religious orientation of doubt; a denial of ultimate knowledge of the existence of God; "agnosticism holds that you can neither prove nor disprove God's existence".[Wordnet]
2. The disbelief in any claims of ultimate knowledge.[Wordnet]
3. That doctrine which, professing ignorance, neither asserts nor denies.[Websters]
4. The doctrine that the existence of a personal Deity, an unseen world, etc., can be neither proved nor disproved, because of the necessary limits of the human mind (as sometimes charged upon Hamilton and Mansel), or because of the insufficiency of the evidence furnished by physical and physical data, to warrant a positive conclusion (as taught by the school of Herbert Spencer); -- opposed alike dogmatic skepticism and to dogmatic theism.[Websters].

Apathetic agnosticism Apathetic Agnosticism, in its most widely acknowledged form, is a theological position put forward by John Tyrrell in 1965. Apathetic Agnosticism differs from Ignosticism, in that while Ignostics are apathetic about the question of God, Apathetic Agnostics are apathetic about the answer, since there is no way to satisfactorily answer the question. The position follows that, regardless of whether or not a god or gods exist, it does not affect us, or the human condition in general, ergo, the facetiously named Articles of Faith. (references)

Strong agnosticism Strong agnosticism or positive agnosticism is the belief that it is impossible for humans to know whether or not any God or gods exist. (references)

Thomas Henry Huxley and agnosticism Note: This article is largely based on an out-of-copyright 1911 encyclopedia article. This material has been removed from the article on agnosticism. It is written from the viewpoint of its time of writing and place of origin, and needs extensive editing to bring it up to date and to conform with the Wikipedia NPOV policy. (references)

Weak agnosticism Weak agnosticism, or empirical agnosticism (also negative agnosticism), is the belief that the existence or nonexistence of deities is currently unknown, but is not necessarily unknowable. (references)

http://www.websters-...ons/agnosticism




However it would be amiss of me to mention that the "default" position is actually a belief in God, (yes not necessarily Religion), as a study done confirmed that children have a natural bias towards believing in a creator. This evidence positions belief in God as the "default" standard since it is (in crude terms), the "factory settings", in that people can develop their view over time however it first started as belief in God.

http://www.telegraph...mic-claims.html

Therefore simply claiming that your agnostic position as the default standard based on not making a choice is wrong since, (as the study shows), most people (perhaps including yourself), would have developed that view over time rather than it being the default standard.

#11 Salsa

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 08:23 AM

This evidence positions belief in God as the "default" standard since it is (in crude terms), the "factory settings", in that people can develop their view over time however it first started as belief in God.


Too bad they don't have one of those small buttons that "reset to factory settings"! Posted Image
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#12 Cameron Standal

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 10:41 AM

I don't think that you would find any serious argument that agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive. While "agnostic atheist" covers most uses I am still uncomfortable with the view that the lack of belief in God(s) is a reactive position to the belief in God(s) and so I avoid the linguistically disingenuous term.

As for the work of Justin Barrett: he points out what most developmental psychologists will - that as the human brain develops we are predisposed to teleological understanding of our surroundings. While this does address the propensity for animistic beliefs during brain (and cognitive) development it does not speak to the issue of the default position.
In short, as much as we are likely to accept belief in God(s) at a young age we do still need to accept them. I've read his work before and read a large amount of peer commentary.
It has not been shown that we are born with beliefs, nor has it been shown that without reinforcement of "religious" beliefs during that development phase that these beliefs would solidify and persist into adulthood.
The rather interesting work of Tania Lombrozo (http://csjarchive.co.../docs/p2548.pdf) adds another side to the coin.
Can I also suggest reading related works by Andrew Brown, AC Grayling, Scott Atran, Lewis Wolpert or Pascal Boyer.

#13 Mike Summers

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 03:43 PM

What I am trying to point out is that we all autonomous, finite information wise beings. We are joined only by a philosophical bridge that each of us construct. All of us have a philosophy--a comprehensive set of beliefs we employ to interact with our environment i.e. each other. Our personalized philosophy is constructed from an eclectic repertoire of often poorly conceived ideas trite phrases all attached to emotions used, unfortunately, to prove philosophical validity.


Belief in God or non belief in God is a philosophical concept. Therefore, it is subject to our innate fallibility. However we have one caveat that seems to make us humans unique, we can think about our thinking. We can realize our own finite mental state. Therefore, disbelief in God or any other beings is subject to lack of knowledge(we don't know what we don't know).

Although many want to argue that atheism is not a religion it shares the same core meaning as worldview, opinion, personal philosophy etc--anything that effects how we treat another shares the same meaning--religion whatever. A rose by any other name...
Returning to the question in the op, what are the disadvantages of belief in God?

I choose to believe in God (just as I choose to believe in you). Apparently you can not know who I know by looking at me. I have to tell you who I know. Moreover, you have to trust that I am telling you truth.

Since we are definition creating creatures, for understanding each others, it is valid to agree upon our commonly used definitions. Here is where I find fault with the term agnostic atheist. As mentioned in other posts, the term is internally illogical and contradictory. As such, it promotes a credibility problem to those that use it. As most of us accept agnostic to mean, "I don't know if there is a God," and atheism to mean "I know there is no God." The latter statement, if you accept your fallibility is not an honest position!

#14 gilbo12345

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 04:10 PM

I don't think that you would find any serious argument that agnosticism and atheism are mutually exclusive. While "agnostic atheist" covers most uses I am still uncomfortable with the view that the lack of belief in God(s) is a reactive position to the belief in God(s) and so I avoid the linguistically disingenuous term. As for the work of Justin Barrett: he points out what most developmental psychologists will - that as the human brain develops we are predisposed to teleological understanding of our surroundings. While this does address the propensity for animistic beliefs during brain (and cognitive) development it does not speak to the issue of the default position. In short, as much as we are likely to accept belief in God(s) at a young age we do still need to accept them. I've read his work before and read a large amount of peer commentary. It has not been shown that we are born with beliefs, nor has it been shown that without reinforcement of "religious" beliefs during that development phase that these beliefs would solidify and persist into adulthood. The rather interesting work of Tania Lombrozo (http://csjarchive.co.../docs/p2548.pdf) adds another side to the coin. Can I also suggest reading related works by Andrew Brown, AC Grayling, Scott Atran, Lewis Wolpert or Pascal Boyer.

No worries, I'll review those works sometime :) However I still stand by my claim that belief in God is the default "factory standard" since it is what children believe on their own terms before we are influenced by our own considerations, thinking and (as Mike said) philosophy. Not making a choice in what to believe is actually making a choice, since you are choosing to withhold making a choice, which you are certainly entitled to do, just don't think that choosing not to make a choice somehow makes that the default.

#15 Cameron Standal

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 05:49 PM

Gilbo.
Once again, I cannot agree. There has been no evidence provided that shows that a belief in God(s) is the default position. The evidence shows that toddlers minds are predisposed to an animistic explanation of their environment. To infer that that implies that we (as a species) have an innate belief in God(s) is beyond a stretch. If research into ante-natal theistic foundation gets done, if the results are repeated and examined and subjected to peer review and accepted by experts in the field then I will be happy to read and consider the evidence and decide whether or not I need to reformulate the expression of my disbelief.

If I did make a choice, of course it would be my "right" (hey, we're back on topic!): why is it a problem for you that I have not?

Mike,
I stated in my initial post: I do not see any intrinsic benefit or harm in the belief (or lack of belief) in God.
Can you explain why you see that "agnostic atheist" is "internally illogical and contradictory" as a term? Agnosticism concerns a lack of knowledge of existence (in the theistic usage) while atheism concerns the lack of belief in existence in God(s). I don't see how those concepts contradict each other. Agnostic atheism is very simply the lack of belief in God(s) without claiming that God(s) do not exist. That said, until I'm provided with evidence to suggest that I am misusing the term I will continue to answer simply that I hold the default position (unless a better term presents itself: I am happy to adapt to new stimulii)

#16 gilbo12345

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 06:29 PM

Gilbo. Once again, I cannot agree. There has been no evidence provided that shows that a belief in God(s) is the default position. The evidence shows that toddlers minds are predisposed to an animistic explanation of their environment. To infer that that implies that we (as a species) have an innate belief in God(s) is beyond a stretch. If research into ante-natal theistic foundation gets done, if the results are repeated and examined and subjected to peer review and accepted by experts in the field then I will be happy to read and consider the evidence and decide whether or not I need to reformulate the expression of my disbelief. If I did make a choice, of course it would be my "right" (hey, we're back on topic!): why is it a problem for you that I have not?
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I believe the study was with 7 and 8 year olds... Far from "toddlers", however the age really doesn't matter (in fact the younger the better since that is getting closer to the "factory settings"). Its not a far stretch to infer an innate belief in God since children (generally) are not predispositioned one way or another, at that age critical thinking and reasoning are not developed as an adult and therefore goes with "gut" feeling. You merely claiming this isn't the case is not evidence against it, opinions are not facts.

4. default - an option that is selected automatically unless an alternative is specified
http://www.thefreedi...ary.com/default

Children automatically select belief in God therefore it IS the default standard. The reason why the children part is important is because adults have lived in the world and therefore are influenced by it rendering the "unless an alternative is specified" clause above in effect meaning you cannot base it on the belief of adults since by that time they have access to a range of ideas and opinions. Therefore you cannot base your claims on yourself since it would defy the very definition of "default standard".


Where did I say I had a problem? I am merely correcting you use of "default standard" since you are using it incorrectly in order to apply it to yourself when by doing so defies its very definition. I also pointed out that by not making a choice (as you admitted) then you are by definition an agnostic rather than an atheist.

#17 Cameron Standal

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Posted 01 March 2013 - 07:58 PM

Wow. Major formatting issues. I'll try that again tomorrow.

#18 Mike Summers

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 03:58 AM

Cameron

Let me see if I can explain it in another way. suppose I say my father is blind because he can not see. Similarly you say you don't know if there is a God (agnostic) then you conclude there is no God (atheism). This is called in logic a non-sequitur.

Here's the formal definition;
Non sequitur (Latin for "it does not follow"), in formal logic, is an argument in which its conclusion does not follow from its premises.[1] In a non sequitur, the conclusion could be either true or false, but the argument is fallacious because there is a disconnection between the premise and the conclusion. All invalid arguments are special cases of non sequitur. The term has special applicability in law, having a formal legal definition. Many types of known non sequitur argument forms have been classified into many different types of logical fallacies.

Agnostic is a term unique in itself.

From Wikepedia;

Agnosticism is the belief that the existence or non-existence of any deity is unknown and possibly unknowable. More specifically, agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, ...

Atheism is, in a broad sense, the rejection of belief in the existence of deities.[1][2] In a narrower sense, atheism is specifically the position that there are no deities...


Therefore, you restated; "I don't know whether there is a God or not, but there is no God." Illogical conclusion from your first premise--a non sequitur. Correct conclusion from agnostic premise; "I don't know if there is a God or not
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#19 Cameron Standal

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 10:43 AM

Mike,

Interesting twist on the old "Bald is not a hair colour" metaphor. With a bit more expansion the notion of the "unsighted father" could be a great demonstration tool. I'll leave that to you though.

"Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle...Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable."
I think we can take that as fairly definitive (ironic, I know), being that they're the words of Thomas Huxley himself.
You'll find that quote, with references, on the same Wikipedia page that you referenced, shortly before it expands on types of agnosticism such as agnostic theism and agnostic atheism.
Atheism is on occasion (mis)used to posit a belief that there are no deities: this is an unnecessary use and can be avoided as this position has a specific label: antitheism (coined at least 36 years before agnosticism was). While it is true that antitheism is still considered an acceptable meaning for atheism in some dictionaries it does not reflect the bulk of common usage (nor, again are the terms mutually exclusive).

Antitheist (according to OED): "One opposed to belief in the existence of a god."
Atheist (also OED): "a person who does not believe in the existence of God or gods"
Agnostic (OED again): "a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God"

Please remember to contrast "knowledge" with "belief".

To reduce the agnostic position to "I don't know if there is a God or not" or the atheist position to "there is no God" in order to contrast them not only relies on non sequitur but borders on reductio ad absurdum. I'll not call the equivocation police though, conversation might suffer (and I don't speak for anyone else, but that's what I'm here for).

Amusingly (and slightly off topic), one could be an "antitheist, agnostic atheist" without fear of contradiction.

Can we agree to use specific terms here to avoid ambiguity?
As for your claim that I stated "I don't know whether there is a God or not, but there is no God." - can you cite a source for that? I cannot find that statement anywhere in what I've written (I do have a crashing headache, so may have missed it) and it does not sound like anything that I would say. I might restate the agnostic atheist position: "I do not believe in the existence of any deity, but do not claim to know if a deity does or does not exist."
I hope that that clears up any confusion.

[I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise that we've taken your thread a little away from the original premise, I actually came to this forum on the invitation of Gilbo12345 after we couldn't see eye to eye on what constituted "agnostic atheism" or simply "atheism" for that matter in the Youtube comments section.
I did offer my response to your original post in my first reply so I hope that mitigates the sematics that have followed. If you would like us to move this conversation to a new thread I would be happy to oblige but I do see the value thus far as we are defining the terms of the premise]

Gilbo,

AC Grayling in a (shamefully emotional) comment on the work of Justin Barrett:
"Barrett and friends infer from the first half of these unexceptionable facts that children are hardwired to believe in a supreme being. Not only does this ignore the evidence from developmental psychology about the second stage of cognitive maturation, but is in itself a very big – and obviously hopeful – jump indeed. Moreover it ignores the fact that large tracts of humankind (the Chinese for a numerous example) have no beliefs in a supreme being, innate or learned, and that most primitive religion is animistic."
This, in itself is not particularly interesting or compelling. What is both interesting and compelling though is the response from Justin Barrett:
"Had Grayling attended the seminar as Brown did (or read my book, Why Would Anyone Believe in God?), he would know that I do not say that religion is "hardwired" or "innate" – rather that children have propensities to believe in gods because of how their minds naturally work."
(also I checked back: the testing ran from children at 12 months through to 6 and 7 year olds with a major focus on 3 and 5 year olds).
Once again, I state that I hold the "default position".
Please refer to my response to Mike for disambiguation of agnosticism et al.


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#20 Cameron Standal

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Posted 02 March 2013 - 05:07 PM

...timing :)




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