Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Vash » Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:47 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:The fact that we're barely one generation beyond communist rule might have some effect on this number.


It's increasing dawg.

Heisenberg wrote:Really? Seems to me that Athiesm is about as organized as, say, Islam. Leaders, texts, symbols, sects, etc.


I was about to say that you were right, but I did remember that many Atheists have widely varying philosophies and do not view themselves as having leaders. That said, I did a while back watch Atheist talk shows on the internet and adopt some of their ideas. It is mainly about counterarguments to religious viewpoints, supporting Atheists who are worried about finding acceptance in religious families or areas, etc., though.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:56 pm UTC

You've heard of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or Charles Darwin (although really, some Atheists treat Darwin as more of a Saint)? You've never seen Darwin or FSM symbols on the backs of sedans? While it lacks an accepted hierarchy, Atheism encompasses a range of denominations, just like Islam.

It has all the trappings of a religion, however, it would not be a religion if it is not based upon a system of unverifiable beliefs. But at that point, I think you need to make a distinction between Belief=NOT(God) and NOT(Belief=Any), that is, between Atheism and agnosticism.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:04 pm UTC

Vash wrote:I was about to say that you were right, but I did remember that many Atheists have widely varying philosophies and do not view themselves as having leaders. That said, I did a while back watch Atheist talk shows on the internet and adopt some of their ideas. It is mainly about counterarguments to religious viewpoints, supporting Atheists who are worried about finding acceptance in religious families or areas, etc., though.


Most arguments you'll hear in favor of atheism are counter-arguments seeing as the base argument is simply "in the absence of evidence, I have no reason to believe." The rest of the time is spent pointing out why somebody's supposed "evidence" doesn't qualify as actual proof.

You've heard of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or Charles Darwin (although really, some Atheists treat Darwin as more of a Saint)? You've never seen Darwin or FSM symbols on the backs of sedans? While it lacks an accepted hierarchy, Atheism encompasses a range of denominations, just like Islam.


Nobody reveres those people in nearly the same way that a religious person reveres his religious leaders, mostly because we don't take their word for anything: somebody might trust his priest on a religious matter, but atheists expect all claims, even from leaders, to be validated by independent evidence. Not only that, but the views of these people vary wildly between atheists. For example, I'm not a fan of Richard Dawkins because he's too anti-religion.

As for a range of views, it's a range of views, not organizations of conflicting viewpoints. It's about personal values, not sects.

It has all the trappings of a religion, however, it would not be a religion if it is not based upon a system of unverifiable beliefs.


It isn't. It's based around the lack of beliefs.

But at that point, I think you need to make a distinction between Belief=NOT(God) and NOT(Belief=Any), that is, between Atheism and agnosticism.


Agnosticism, contrary to popular belief, is not some middle ground between atheism and theism. Agnosticism is a kind of atheism.

A gnostic theist is one who asserts that there is a God.
An agnostic theist is one who chooses to believe a God in lieu of proof one way or the other.
An agnostic atheist is one who finds no reason to believe in God without evidence.
A gnostic atheist is one who asserts that there is no God.

you will find that most people are either gnostic theists or agnostic atheists, though I have run across a few agnostic theists before. I've never seen a gnostic atheist though.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby podbaydoor » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:10 pm UTC

Atheism isn't even as "organized" as your average Wicca circle. I view atheism gatherings more on the same level as multicultural clubs (Asian American Association, Hispanic Engineers, Dance Dance Revolution Club, etc.) rather than as congregations.

I like to think of atheism as a passive position while religions are more active in taking ownership of a belief. "I accept Jesus into my heart" versus "do you have evidence of Jesus yet?"
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby jesseewiak » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:16 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:You've heard of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or Charles Darwin (although really, some Atheists treat Darwin as more of a Saint)? You've never seen Darwin or FSM symbols on the backs of sedans? While it lacks an accepted hierarchy, Atheism encompasses a range of denominations, just like Islam.

It has all the trappings of a religion, however, it would not be a religion if it is not based upon a system of unverifiable beliefs. But at that point, I think you need to make a distinction between Belief=NOT(God) and NOT(Belief=Any), that is, between Atheism and agnosticism.


Going by that definition, the AARP and the Rotary Club are religious organizations.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:19 pm UTC

Adacore wrote:But... that's a belief. Belief of NOT(A) is exactly the same as NOT(belief of A). :?


I think this quote summarizes the issue pretty nicely: "Atheism is a belief in the same sense that not collecting stamps is a hobby".

Or, in maybe a different way of thinking about it: someone who has never heard of the concept of God is an atheist. But they clearly don't believe God doesn't exist either, because they haven't heard of the concept to begin with. They have no information about the subject one way or another, and so are merely atheist by default.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Levi » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:45 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:You will find that most people are either gnostic theists or agnostic atheists, though I have run across a few agnostic theists before. I've never seen a gnostic atheist though.

I feel that the gnostic/agnostic thing is way overplayed. Sure, most atheists will call themselves agnostic, but it's a rather useless label because you can't be gnostic about anything.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby The Reaper » Wed Mar 23, 2011 7:57 pm UTC

Levi wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:You will find that most people are either gnostic theists or agnostic atheists, though I have run across a few agnostic theists before. I've never seen a gnostic atheist though.

I feel that the gnostic/agnostic thing is way overplayed. Sure, most atheists will call themselves agnostic, but it's a rather useless label because you can't be gnostic about anything.

I sorta squish myself into the agnostic theist group, but then again I follow a kinda solipsist view along that as well, so meh. :]

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby sje46 » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:06 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:You've heard of Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, or Charles Darwin (although really, some Atheists treat Darwin as more of a Saint)? You've never seen Darwin or FSM symbols on the backs of sedans? While it lacks an accepted hierarchy, Atheism encompasses a range of denominations, just like Islam.

It has all the trappings of a religion, however, it would not be a religion if it is not based upon a system of unverifiable beliefs. But at that point, I think you need to make a distinction between Belief=NOT(God) and NOT(Belief=Any), that is, between Atheism and agnosticism.

Atheism is not a religion, neither is it capitalized. my friend Catherine is an atheist. Babies are atheist. I don't treat Darwin as a saint; I treat Darwin as better than a Saint, because he actually advanced the human race. You're talking about atheist culture (of which one barely exists) which is a far cry from Christian or Muslim culture. There's absolutely no requirement to being an atheist, besides a lack of belief. It is an adjective, like "blonde". It does not have any of the "trappings" of a religion. Your only reasoning for that is because some atheists share certain values, or value certain people. Seriously? How ignorant. With your reasoning, the LGBT community "has all the trappings of a religion" because some of them share a culture, with common heroes and "range of denominations".

Also, people were talking before about how cyclical religion is. I don't believe it's cyclical at all. The reason why religion has been in decline is because of the increasing amount of exposure we have to other peoples and support systems, as well as the post-Darwin environment we live in. The fact that evolution is accepted by most people is the reason why most people have distrust of religion. Two hundred years ago, Christianity was perfectly compatible with all the known cold facts of the universe and everything else could be chalked up to metaphor. Until there's an apocalypse soon, religion will continue to fall.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Vash » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:22 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:You've heard of Richard Dawkins ... Atheism and agnosticism.


Yeah, you could classify any philosophy as a religion then. Also, not believing in something does not require proof (e.g. disbelief in fairies).

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Heisenberg » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:24 pm UTC

sourmìlk wrote:Nobody reveres those people in nearly the same way that a religious person reveres his religious leaders, mostly because we don't take their word for anything:

You seem like you're painting with a broad brush here. A friend of mine is really, really into Christopher Hitchens.
sourmìlk wrote:I'm not a fan of Richard Dawkins because he's too anti-religion.

I'm not a fan of Jerry Falwell. That doesn't mean Christianity isn't a religion.
sourmìlk wrote:I've never seen a gnostic atheist though.

Plenty of folks are firmly rooted in their belief that God cannot exist. For instance, The Problem of Evil often convinces people that a deity cannot exist. This, in my view, is faith in an unverifiable belief, and therefore a religious view.

Edit: sje: Since y'all are pissed at me for using one of several accepted meanings of the word, how would you like me to distinguish between Atheism and agnostics? If you change the word elephant to mean "animal," then I'd appreciate a legitimate replacement term for those elephants with gray skin and trunks and such, as opposed to the elephants without legs and the elephants with opposable thumbs.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby LaserGuy » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:47 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:Plenty of folks are firmly rooted in their belief that God cannot exist. For instance, The Problem of Evil often convinces people that a deity cannot exist. This, in my view, is faith in an unverifiable belief, and therefore a religious view.


The Problem of Evil can only be used to dispute the existence of a very specific kind of god. If a postulate the existence of a god that is evil or indifferent, or with limited powers, then the Problem of Evil isn't a problem at all.

Heisenberg wrote:Edit: sje: Since y'all are pissed at me for using one of several accepted meanings of the word, how would you like me to distinguish between Atheism and agnostics? If you change the word elephant to mean "animal," then I'd appreciate a legitimate replacement term for those elephants with gray skin and trunks and such, as opposed to the elephants without legs and the elephants with opposable thumbs.


The problem is that atheism and agnosticism aren't mutually exclusive. They describe different concepts. Many (most, I'd say) atheists are also agnostic. Saying that agnostic is the middle ground between atheism and theism is just incorrect usage of the term.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby sourmìlk » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:52 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:Nobody reveres those people in nearly the same way that a religious person reveres his religious leaders, mostly because we don't take their word for anything:

You seem like you're painting with a broad brush here. A friend of mine is really, really into Christopher Hitchens.


Would he accept what he said if it was contradicted by evidence, or even just not supported?

sourmìlk wrote:I'm not a fan of Richard Dawkins because he's too anti-religion.

I'm not a fan of Jerry Falwell. That doesn't mean Christianity isn't a religion.


Exactly. Jerry Falwell is like Richard Dawkins. But there's no equivalent of a priest or a Pope for atheists, and I think that's what defines religious leaders.

sourmìlk wrote:I've never seen a gnostic atheist though.

Plenty of folks are firmly rooted in their belief that God cannot exist. For instance, The Problem of Evil often convinces people that a deity cannot exist. This, in my view, is faith in an unverifiable belief, and therefore a religious view.


If people think that the only conceivable God is an omnibenevolent omnipotent one, then they're idiots, and those people disappoint me. Luckily, I've yet to meet one.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Greyarcher » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:36 pm UTC

Yeaaah, atheism is basically just "not theism" or "not those beliefs".

Sure, some people who are exposed to religion may declare their local religion is false. Or a pack of lies, or old superstitition. They may only think it, if it would be socially dangerous to declare it. I doubt they have anything like a belief system though, considering they could be anywhere in the world that there's religion.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Woofsie » Thu Mar 24, 2011 9:25 am UTC

The Reaper wrote:
Levi wrote:
sourmìlk wrote:You will find that most people are either gnostic theists or agnostic atheists, though I have run across a few agnostic theists before. I've never seen a gnostic atheist though.

I feel that the gnostic/agnostic thing is way overplayed. Sure, most atheists will call themselves agnostic, but it's a rather useless label because you can't be gnostic about anything.

I sorta squish myself into the agnostic theist group, but then again I follow a kinda solipsist view along that as well, so meh. :]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hEN7TkBbtGo :P

Heisenberg wrote:Edit: sje: Since y'all are pissed at me for using one of several accepted meanings of the word, how would you like me to distinguish between Atheism and agnostics? If you change the word elephant to mean "animal," then I'd appreciate a legitimate replacement term for those elephants with gray skin and trunks and such, as opposed to the elephants without legs and the elephants with opposable thumbs.

The issue here is strong versus weak atheism.

You seem to think that all atheists are strong atheists, while really the vast, vast majority are weak atheists. Agnosticism and strong atheism are incompatible, but agnosticism and weak atheism are very compatible. Even Richard Dawkins and PZ Meyers are weak atheists.
Richard Dawkins wrote:Dawkins argues that while there appear to be plenty of indiviudals that would place themselves as "1", no thinking atheist would consider themselves "7", as atheism arises from a lack of evidence and evidence can always change a thinking person's mind. Dawkins considers himself to be a '6'.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby The Reaper » Thu Mar 24, 2011 1:06 pm UTC


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Also: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6CQJqKNS-c

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby hidden » Fri Mar 25, 2011 4:05 am UTC

Woofsie wrote:
Heisenberg wrote:
Woofsie wrote:The older generations tend to be fairly religious, and the younger generations far less so.

Doesn't this suggest to you that religiousness may be cyclical?

It seems to me like the researchers took one data point and tried to make a trend. "Grass is 3 feet high now, so next year, it'll be 6 feet high!"

I don't think so. Religion has been declining for quite a few years now. You can see it in church membership statistics and census information. If it was cyclic there wouldn't be such a consistent decrease.

Iulus Cofield wrote:Do they not go through the Catechumenate? I thought the whole point of that was to ensure Catholics had a pretty good understanding of their faith and dogma before being allowed to take communion.

Here, you take communion at 8. There's no testing of any kind before it, and the kids have about the same understanding of Catholic dogma you'd expect any 8 year-old to, ie none at all. They are taught a religion subject in school, which mostly focuses on Catholicism, but honestly it's been so long since I did it I can't remember the content at all.

Funnily enough, I was raised Catholic, and I have never heard of the Catechumenate before now.


For catholics (and i would presume this could be extrapolated to other groups), churchgoers tend to be moderates. The catholic church's official position does not align with commonly held beliefs by parishioners - i'm talking hot button topics like same sex marriage, pro choice/abortion, contraception.

Contraception is interesting in itself, when the birth control pill was first approved for public use the catholic church heavily lobbied against it, pressing for its removal, preaching against its use. However nowadays it's barely if ever mentioned in the news, in church, where ever - even though the church's official position has not changed.

I can see the same sort of thing happening for today's controversial topics, the church will remain vigilant but its followers will become increasingly tolerant. However, until current social attitudes change from "raising your kids with god is the right thing to do," i think this dysfunctional hugely-contradictory-seemingly-impossible relationship will remain strong.

That or parishioners need to start their own protests in the name of democracy.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby skeptical scientist » Fri Mar 25, 2011 8:26 am UTC

Adacore wrote:But... that's a belief. Belief of NOT(A) is exactly the same as NOT(belief of A). :?

I completely disagree. Saying you believe something means that you think it is true, or at least very likely. For some statements, you may be completely uncertain: you have no idea whether or not the proposition is true. In that case, you neither believe nor disbelieve—you are agnostic. So the two are not exactly the same.

As for the semantics of "atheism" debate as a whole—I think it's kind of silly. "Atheism" means different things to different people, just like any other label that people choose to attach to themselves. For some people, simply thinking there's a decent chance that nothing we might call a deity exists is enough for them to call themselves an atheist. Other people don't attach that label to themselves, even though they have exactly the same set of beliefs, because for them, an atheist is someone who is certain of the nonexistence of any god. They may choose to call themselves "agnostics" instead. Some people consider themselves atheists and not agnostics, even though they are less than 100% certain of the nonexistence of god, because they believe that they are too close to 100% certain to call themselves agnostics. Personally, I happily embrace both the terms "atheist" and "agnostic" for myself, since I strongly doubt the existence of god, and I'm not 100% certain.

I'm a firm believer in letting people choose their own labels, and recognizing that the spectrum of world-views is far more complicated than any set of labels will ever cover. Labeling other people is just a way of pigeonholing them, and failing to acknowledge what they are actually saying.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby zombie_monkey » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:26 am UTC

There's also those of us who are ignostic and or theological noncognitivists.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Inny Binny » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:03 am UTC

While atheism probably semantically means NOT(belief of A), I don't think that's possible for anyone who has heard of God to simply lack the belief of God. You have to consciously reject the notion of God, and therefore it is a belief, as a consequence of God being unfalsifiable.

It's in contrast to a rock or a newborn baby which simply lack the belief in God because they've never heard of him.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby skeptical scientist » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:25 am UTC

Inny Binny wrote:While atheism probably semantically means NOT(belief of A), I don't think that's possible for anyone who has heard of God to simply lack the belief of God. You have to consciously reject the notion of God, and therefore it is a belief, as a consequence of God being unfalsifiable.

That's nonsense. You are reducing belief to a binary state—belief or disbelief—when it is anything but. If you ask people whether they believe Obama will be reelected in 2012, some of them will say yes, and some will say no, but a lot of them will say, "I have no idea." Why do you reject this alternative in the case of belief in gods? I can vouch that I personally went through such a state in middle school and high school, while transitioning from Judaism to atheism.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Greyarcher » Fri Mar 25, 2011 10:42 am UTC

Inny Binny wrote:While atheism probably semantically means NOT(belief of A), I don't think that's possible for anyone who has heard of God to simply lack the belief of God. You have to consciously reject the notion of God, and therefore it is a belief, as a consequence of God being unfalsifiable.
Except reject(belief of A) doesn't imply belief(not A), it only implies not(belief of A).

If you tell me you just wrote down the word "ubulgoo" with the definition "a bright red tomato", I may not believe you. But I probably wouldn't believe you didn't write it down because there's not enough info to believe that. If you say you wrote it down and sealed it in an envelope though, I will not believe you and will also strongly suspect that you did not because that sounds like too much trouble.

The difference between "suspect that not A" and "believe that not A" is--in this case--a matter of principle about unfalsifiable/unverifiable things. Any atheist that has exposure to religious arguments probably won't pick "believe that not A".

(Of course, theists could just switch over to "suspect that A" based on the same principles. But I'm not sure explaining the rationale would do much good for the congregation: "We only suspect God exists, because we don't have sufficient grounds to say we believe that this unverifiable/unfalsifiable thing actually exists.")


Edit: Skeptical Scientist's example is pretty good. Uncertainty also can be an important factor, and I too recall "I don't know" moments like those.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Dthen » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:06 am UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:I'm a firm believer in letting people choose their own labels, and recognizing that the spectrum of world-views is far more complicated than any set of labels will ever cover. Labeling other people is just a way of pigeonholing them, and failing to acknowledge what they are actually saying.


I approve of letting people choose their own labels, but they can't blame me when I don't understand them when they label themselves as something they're not.


Inny Binny wrote:While atheism probably semantically means NOT(belief of A), I don't think that's possible for anyone who has heard of God to simply lack the belief of God. You have to consciously reject the notion of God, and therefore it is a belief, as a consequence of God being unfalsifiable.

It's in contrast to a rock or a newborn baby which simply lack the belief in God because they've never heard of him.


What about people who reject the teachings of the church, but not the concept of a god?
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Dauric » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:01 pm UTC

Dthen wrote:What about people who reject the teachings of the church, but not the concept of a god?


I've usually seen that under the label of "Faithful but not Religious".
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby sourmìlk » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:17 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:
Dthen wrote:What about people who reject the teachings of the church, but not the concept of a god?


I've usually seen that under the label of "Faithful but not Religious".


I believe the technical term is "Deist"
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Jahoclave » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:21 pm UTC

Dthen wrote:
skeptical scientist wrote:I'm a firm believer in letting people choose their own labels, and recognizing that the spectrum of world-views is far more complicated than any set of labels will ever cover. Labeling other people is just a way of pigeonholing them, and failing to acknowledge what they are actually saying.


I approve of letting people choose their own labels, but they can't blame me when I don't understand them when they label themselves as something they're not.


Inny Binny wrote:While atheism probably semantically means NOT(belief of A), I don't think that's possible for anyone who has heard of God to simply lack the belief of God. You have to consciously reject the notion of God, and therefore it is a belief, as a consequence of God being unfalsifiable.

It's in contrast to a rock or a newborn baby which simply lack the belief in God because they've never heard of him.


What about people who reject the teachings of the church, but not the concept of a god?

Well, they're not being considered because this debate started by somebody trying to claim that atheism was akin to a religion.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Dauric » Fri Mar 25, 2011 2:36 pm UTC

Jahoclave wrote:
Dthen wrote:
skeptical scientist wrote:I'm a firm believer in letting people choose their own labels, and recognizing that the spectrum of world-views is far more complicated than any set of labels will ever cover. Labeling other people is just a way of pigeonholing them, and failing to acknowledge what they are actually saying.


I approve of letting people choose their own labels, but they can't blame me when I don't understand them when they label themselves as something they're not.


Inny Binny wrote:While atheism probably semantically means NOT(belief of A), I don't think that's possible for anyone who has heard of God to simply lack the belief of God. You have to consciously reject the notion of God, and therefore it is a belief, as a consequence of God being unfalsifiable.

It's in contrast to a rock or a newborn baby which simply lack the belief in God because they've never heard of him.


What about people who reject the teachings of the church, but not the concept of a god?

Well, they're not being considered because this debate started by somebody trying to claim that atheism was akin to a religion.


Actually no, this debate was started by someone who completely missed the point I was making in regards to the Catholic church doing their confirmation process bas-ackwards (IE: batpising infants ho aren't even aware of what Chistianity actually is.. something along those lines, I don't feel like quoting large parts of this very f-ing thread), that the change in policy may have been made in response to the Vatican's absolute control failing over Europe at the end of the medieval period, and that the practice has gone unquestioned in an era where people have a litany of choices in what to or not to believe in. I happened to point out that atheism is one of those choices in a short list of others, and someone went all pedantic and missed the point entirely.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Greyarcher » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:03 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:
Jahoclave wrote:Well, they're not being considered because this debate started by somebody trying to claim that atheism was akin to a religion.
Actually no, this debate was started by someone who completely missed the point I was making in regards to the Catholic church doing their confirmation process bas-ackwards (IE: batpising infants ho aren't even aware of what Chistianity actually is.. something along those lines, I don't feel like quoting large parts of this very f-ing thread), that the change in policy may have been made in response to the Vatican's absolute control failing over Europe at the end of the medieval period, and that the practice has gone unquestioned in an era where people have a litany of choices in what to or not to believe in. I happened to point out that atheism is one of those choices in a short list of others, and someone went all pedantic and missed the point entirely.
Nah. It was just listing atheism as a "belief system":
Adacore wrote:
nitePhyyre wrote:
Dauric wrote:Nowadays we've got all kinds of belief systems, [...] atheism [...]

*facepalm*

Atheism is the belief that deities do not exist, right? Sounds like a belief system to me.
After Adacore's remark, everything just snowballed.

P.S. it's not pedantic to facepalm at something that's grossly inaccurate.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby achan1058 » Fri Mar 25, 2011 3:58 pm UTC

I am proud that Canada is on this list. I mean, if god exist, it must be something that is so out of our imagination that we cannot comprehend, and not a being modelled after a human. (I am not denying that some god(s) and/or evil matrix architect might exist, but I am denying the kind of god that exist in most religions. For all intent and purposes, this is close enough to being atheist.) I also find it funny that some people even attempt to argue that atheism is like a religion. Yes, some of us might have people to look up to, or even idolize (Gustav Mahler is god.), but we do not look up to them in any way like religious people look up on their god and leaders. If they do something wrong, we bash them just like we bash anyone else.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby mike-l » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:44 pm UTC

Whether it's technical correct that atheism is a belief system depends entirely on your definition of 'belief system'. But by the items you choose to include in your list of 'belief systems' is the cause of concern.

There is certainly a definition of 'belief system' that includes atheism, namely a belief system is any set of beliefs in either the existence or non existence of any number of items. But if that's the definition, why did you exclude 'disbelief in the FSM' or 'disbelief in an omnipotent race of cows governing the world from the darkside of the moon'? Both of these, I would reckon, are more common than atheism.

I'd argue that a good definition of a belief system is the set of things you would consider when making a decision. A religious person would consider what his religion says when doing something (maybe not every time, but on occassion). I don't believe I've ever heard an atheist say 'we should do X because god doesn't exist'
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Dauric » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:52 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:Whether it's technical correct that atheism is a belief system depends entirely on your definition of 'belief system'. But by the items you choose to include in your list of 'belief systems' is the cause of concern.

There is certainly a definition of 'belief system' that includes atheism, namely a belief system is any set of beliefs in either the existence or non existence of any number of items. But if that's the definition, why did you exclude 'disbelief in the FSM' or 'disbelief in an omnipotent race of cows governing the world from the darkside of the moon'? Both of these, I would reckon, are more common than atheism.


Because a comprehensive listing of possible beliefs/not-beliefs wasn't the point. A comprehensive logic diagram of belief/not-belief parings (Catholocism would include not-belief in FSM or omnipotent space cows). If you're going to require people to fill out massive relationship diagrams when they're grabbing a few illustrative examples you're going to make it difficult to have any conversations at all.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby mike-l » Fri Mar 25, 2011 5:58 pm UTC

Dauric wrote:Because a comprehensive listing of possible beliefs/not-beliefs wasn't the point. A comprehensive logic diagram of belief/not-belief parings (Catholocism would include not-belief in FSM or omnipotent space cows). If you're going to require people to fill out massive relationship diagrams when they're grabbing a few illustrative examples you're going to make it difficult to have any conversations at all.


So is 'A disbelief in a race of omnipotent space cows ruling the world from the dark side of the moon' a belief system? If so, then I claim your definition of belief system is useless in a discussion about religion. If not, then why is atheism a belief system when this one isn't?
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Dauric » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:23 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:
Dauric wrote:Because a comprehensive listing of possible beliefs/not-beliefs wasn't the point. A comprehensive logic diagram of belief/not-belief parings (Catholocism would include not-belief in FSM or omnipotent space cows). If you're going to require people to fill out massive relationship diagrams when they're grabbing a few illustrative examples you're going to make it difficult to have any conversations at all.


So is 'A disbelief in a race of omnipotent space cows ruling the world from the dark side of the moon' a belief system? If so, then I claim your definition of belief system is useless in a discussion about religion. If not, then why is atheism a belief system when this one isn't?


Athiesm is the null-value in the set of "beliefs". If you believe in space cows you believe in space cow-ism. If you believe in the Catholic church you're catholic. When asked on a survey "What Religion are you?" listing everything you -don't- believe won't fit the space provided, which would seriously fuck up people who don't hold any spiritual/religious/theological beliefs. Seriously, I can't believe I have to f-ing explain this.

And frankly if tis is a "Cause for concern" for you, I suggest you pay more attention to what is going on in the world and/or get a life. I'm concerned about our military involvement overseas. I'm concerned about Japans nuclear reactor and that one of the containment vessels may be breached. Last night I was concerned about a wildfire that was near where my parents live (70% contained as of this morning. Edit: 95 contained as of this afternoon] ).

Linguistic pedantry that has -NO F-ING BEARING ON THE POINT- is not all that concerning.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby LaserGuy » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:33 pm UTC

I think you guys are both trying to argue the same thing.

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Greyarcher » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:34 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:Whether it's technical correct that atheism is a belief system depends entirely on your definition of 'belief system'.
It's partially dependent on the definition of atheism too (e.g. aforementioned 'weak' vs 'strong' atheism). Assuming we're talking about 'strong' atheism, I'd still wonder about it being called a belief system. I suppose it could possibly make sense, but...eh. I'm not sure there'd be any specific system associated with a particular belief like "religions are based on falsehoods".

It was pretty bizarre usage on his part, but it's not a big deal.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Dauric » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:41 pm UTC

LaserGuy wrote:I think you guys are both trying to argue the same thing.

No, i-mike is arguing that atheism isn't a subset of beliefs, which from certain logical standpoints is correct (see rest of thread).

I'm saying that when you're discussing a person's options with regards to beliefs (which -was- the point of my initial post) that atheism does in fact belong in the drop-down menu of "Belief", because people can in fact choose "None" in regards to the question "Which theology to you believe?" and that for the purposes of functional conversation it's not helpful to separate the null value from the set of positive values (IE: to say "I Am: Wiccan, Buddhist, Catholic, agnostic, atheist, etc.)
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby skeptical scientist » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:43 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:Whether it's technical correct that atheism is a belief system depends entirely on your definition of 'belief system'. But by the items you choose to include in your list of 'belief systems' is the cause of concern.

There is certainly a definition of 'belief system' that includes atheism, namely a belief system is any set of beliefs in either the existence or non existence of any number of items. But if that's the definition, why did you exclude 'disbelief in the FSM' or 'disbelief in an omnipotent race of cows governing the world from the darkside of the moon'? Both of these, I would reckon, are more common than atheism.

I'd argue that a good definition of a belief system is the set of things you would consider when making a decision. A religious person would consider what his religion says when doing something (maybe not every time, but on occassion). I don't believe I've ever heard an atheist say 'we should do X because god doesn't exist'

Sure you have. Any time an atheist argues that religion should have less of a role in politics, they are doing so out of lack of belief in god. Why shouldn't we write Leviticus into 52 USC § 1–27? Because it was written by small-minded iron-age witchdoctors, and not by god.

As I said before, atheism means different things to different people, and some do view it as a belief system. Here is a post by PZ Myers explaining why, to him, atheism is a belief system. Key quote:
Now I don't claim that my values are part of the definition of atheism — I just told you I hate those dictionary quoters — nor do I consider them universal to atheism. I've met plenty of atheists who are in our camp over issues of social justice — they see god-belief as a source of social evils, and that's why they reject it. That is valid and reasonable. There are atheists who consider human well-being as the metric to use, and we call them humanists; no problem. There are also atheists who are joining the game because their cool friends (or Daniel Radcliff) are atheists; that's a stupid reason, but they are atheists.

My point is that nobody becomes an atheist because of an absence of values, and no one becomes an atheist because the dictionary tells them they are. I think we also do a disservice to the movement when we pretend it's solely a mob of individuals who lack a belief, rather than an organization with positive goals and values.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby The Reaper » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:46 pm UTC

mike-l wrote:Whether it's technical correct that atheism is a belief system depends entirely on your definition of 'belief system'.
It's partially dependent on the definition of atheism too (e.g. aforementioned 'weak' vs 'strong' atheism). Assuming we're talking about 'strong' atheism, I'd still wonder about it being called a belief system. I suppose it could possibly make sense, but...eh. I'm not sure there'd be any specific system associated with a particular belief like "religions are based on falsehoods".

I agree that we shouldn't really call strong atheism a belief system, but not sure what a word to convey "gnosticism of a lack of deities" would be.

unless I'm way off base as to what the issue is? One of them goes around touting that they know there is no god, and the other one goes around with the general idea that there is no god, but admitting to the lack of proof that anyone could have on such a concept?

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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby mike-l » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:56 pm UTC

skeptical scientist wrote:Sure you have. Any time an atheist argues that religion should have less of a role in politics, they are doing so out of lack of belief in god. Why shouldn't we write Leviticus into 52 USC § 1–27? Because it was written by small-minded iron-age witchdoctors, and not by god.


Personally, I don't think we should write Leviticus into law because I don't agree with most of what it says, based on my own belief system, which has nothing to do with my religious views. I may argue that 'God said so' isn't a valid argument as to why we should, but I'm not going to say Leviticus 18:22 is wrong because God doesn't exist. And I don't think anyone has ever said that to me at least.
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Re: Religion may become extinct in nine nations, study says

Postby Marbas » Fri Mar 25, 2011 6:59 pm UTC

Atheism isn't even as "organized" as your average Wicca circle.


I certainly hope not, the average Wiccan Circle (Gardnerian or Alexandrian) is pretty organized. Given that it's an Orthropraxic mystery religion. You are mistaking Wicca with Eclectic Neopaganism. Something that a lot of people, Eclectic Neopagans included, call Wicca.

It is a source of much frustration for my Wiccan friends.
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