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Atheism in the USVI

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antiqueone
(@antiqueone)
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Edward: the Sawi people ( I misspelled it before) are described in "Peace Child" by Donald Richardson.
the book is a great read. A simplistic synopsis can be seen at: http://marksadams.blogspot.com/2006/11/sawi-peace-child.html
Enjoy!

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Posted : June 19, 2009 9:55 pm
Ms Information
(@Ms_Information)
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What a great discussion. TRW said it simply and clearly that organized religion is responsible for most of the really bad things that have happened in the world. I stay away from the true believers when ever possible. Some of them really scare me.

But unlike some of you I have never been able to give my lack of religion any kind of title or definition, or even encourage others to share it with me..

So I am "a member of this choir"...sing on

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Posted : June 20, 2009 12:50 am
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
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Atheism
Atheism is the philosophy that there are no gods ("a" = without, "theos" = god)

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The simplest argument for atheism follows from Occam's Razor: from different equivalent explanations, choose the simplest one. If we cannot explain more things by postulating the existence of God than we can without, then we should prefer the theory without. The fact that this principle is not sufficient to prove that God does not exist, is not very relevant. After all, nobody can prove that unicorns, flying toasters or 23-legged purple elephants do not exist, but that does not make their existence any more likely. (see also: Occam's Razor as justification of atheism)
This assumes that the existence of God does not explain anything. However, the most typical argument for the existence of God is that creation by God is needed to explain the complexity of the universe around us. Apart from the fact that that same complexity can already be explained by straightforward principles of evolution and self-organization, the introduction of God does not in any way contribute to explanation, since it just pushes the phenomenon to be explained one step away. If God explains the existence of the universe, then what explains the existence of God? Since the concept of God is neither simpler nor more intuitive than the concept of the Universe, explaining God's origin is not in any way easier than explaining the origin of the Universe. On the contrary, since God is in principle unknowable, we cannot even hope to explain His coming into being. On the other hand, although the Universe may never be grasped in its totality, there are definitely many aspects of it that are observable and understandable, and lend themselves to ever more complete explanations. In conclusion, postulating God as an explanation does not only make the theory unnecessarily complicated, it even obscures those phenomena that might have been explained otherwise.

One must note that atheism is not in contradiction with religion. In its original, Latin sense, religion means "that which holds together", implying a kind of overarching philosophy and system of ethics that guides society as a whole, without necessary reference to God. Also in the more practical sense, several "religions", including Zen Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism, lack any idea of God, and thus may be properly called "atheist religions". Also the different emotions that typically accompany religous experiences, such as the feeling of being part of a larger whole, can very well be experienced by a atheists, leading to what may be called "atheist religiosity".

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Topic starter Posted : June 20, 2009 12:58 am
antiqueone
(@antiqueone)
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Pilots (like rotor) sometimes experience vertigo. That is, they can get completely disoriented in space, whether because they are flying in clouds, or, perhaps, across vast stretches of ocean. If they follow their instincts they may well fly straight into the ground as did JFK, Jr. If instead they trust and follow their instrument panel, they are much more likely to survive.

Our modern western education has taught us to be skeptical of anything that purports to tell us anything resembling absolute Truth. We have been taught that Truth is relative and changing. We feel uncomfortable around unchanging Truth. We don't want there to be a God because then we would have to respond somehow to that God. I believe some of us suffer "spiritual vertigo." I will assert that the Bible is our instrument panel. It tells us, among other things, the "Why" of our existence. It gives our lives purpose.

But faith in God and Jesus is a funny thing. All the arguments pro and con can only lead one so far. At some point, one must make a "leap of faith" and choose to believe that which one has not seen. And then there is a funny thing that happens: you all of a sudden understand and experience a relationship with the living Christ. Yeah, that sound a bit like the experience of Satori the Zen Buddhists talk about, but it is ultimately different. It's the same way in, I think, trigonometry (though I forgot already which branch of math it is because I am not as smart as you atheists) but you have to accept on faith the initial assertion. After that, you can prove all the rest and eventually come back and prove your initial assertion was correct after all.

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Posted : June 20, 2009 1:44 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
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antiqueone,
After reading your post I only have one thing to say. No quiche for me, thank you.
I thought Xenu was the absolute truth?

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Topic starter Posted : June 20, 2009 3:14 pm
antiqueone
(@antiqueone)
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well, Rotorhead.....we'll see

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Posted : June 20, 2009 3:55 pm
Neil
 Neil
(@Neil)
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The problem with the kind of Athiesm rotorhead is attempting to prove, is that it attempts to DISprove God, which is just as foolish an argument as those who attempt to PROVE God. In my experience, God cannot be argued, only experienced.

The supposed superiority of one's beliefs, combined with the disparaging of another's beliefs, now THAT is the REAL source of evil throughout history.

I personally believe in God, and believe God speaks through many voices, some more than others, -and the total of those voices seem to suggest that a life of humility, compassion, and joy is the true path to fulfillment. To the extent that some need to be Baptists or Muslim or Athiests to achieve this fulfillment, I say "God bless 'em."

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Posted : June 21, 2009 12:20 am
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
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I am not trying to DISprove god. As I have said quite clearly in earlier posts, it is impossible to disprove something that doesn't exist.

This article suggests that it is not the responsibility of the faithful to prove that god exists, it is the responsibility of the atheist to prove that god doesn't exist. This is pretty absurd. Can you prove that unicorns don't exist? Does that mean that you believe in unicorns? Think of all of the other things that you can't prove don't exist. Ghosts? Demons? Zeus? Ra? FSM? Are we to believe in them as well?

I think Neil has a comprehension problem.

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Topic starter Posted : June 21, 2009 2:52 am
antiqueone
(@antiqueone)
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rotorhead: you also described yourself more as an agnostic than as a true atheist: (I don't know the answers but I do not feel a need to "make up" the answers with no proof to support them.) Actually in a debate, isn't it the responsibility of each party to give cogent, coherent arguments for their point of view? Some on this thread have given some pretty good reasons not to believe in God. I think some have made some pretty good points for believing in Him. Neil is right: God is not arguable, only experienced.

Disbelieving in God does make life easier: whatever morality you choose is fine because there is no judge. There is no afterlife so you can party as hard as you want. Life has no purpose other than to survive better than the next person. Donald Trump is a better person than Mother Theresa or Ghandi. Abortion is ok because babies are nothing more than organized protoplasm. The death penalty is ok because the social contract deems it so. The list goes on.

Believing in God makes life harder: we are on a path of growth and the path is rocky. Satan tries to trip us up at every turn. If he can blind us to the Truth, he has us. God gives us a choice and sometimes it is hard to choose. There is "good" and "evil" in the world and we strive to fight against evil and do good. Jesus told us that we would be hated by "the world" as he was and for us not to be surprised.

This thread was started for atheists. I hope for your sakes you guys are right because if you are not, death ain't gonna be fun for you. I only ask that you think through your philosophy to its natural conclusions before you make your stand on it. "Two roads diverged in a wood and I, sorry I could not travel both, took the road less traveled by and that has made all the difference,"

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Posted : June 21, 2009 11:23 am
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
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One can't debate a proposition that cannot be supported, or refuted, with facts. And religious belief, or lack thereof, is exactly that, a belief. One can state one's opinion, but that's about it.

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Posted : June 21, 2009 4:40 pm
rotorhead
(@rotorhead)
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I disagree. If you allow yourself to follow a belief that requires no facts and defies reason then you open yourself up to believe in anything. Christian mythology is no more reasonable than Scientology or Pastafarianism or Easter Bunnyism. If you say that you believe in one you could just as easily believe in any of the others. Why is a supernatural explanation for our existence needed? No quiche for me!

"Too stupid to understand Science? Try religion, no intelligence required, only blind faith!"

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Topic starter Posted : June 21, 2009 5:13 pm
antiqueone
(@antiqueone)
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you don't think it takes blind faith to believe you evolved from a rock?

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Posted : June 21, 2009 8:18 pm
stiphy
(@stiphy)
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Disbelieving in God does make life easier: whatever morality you choose is fine because there is no judge. There is no afterlife so you can party as hard as you want. Life has no purpose other than to survive better than the next person. Donald Trump is a better person than Mother Theresa or Ghandi. Abortion is ok because babies are nothing more than organized protoplasm. The death penalty is ok because the social contract deems it so. The list goes on.

Believing in God makes life harder: we are on a path of growth and the path is rocky. Satan tries to trip us up at every turn. If he can blind us to the Truth, he has us. God gives us a choice and sometimes it is hard to choose. There is "good" and "evil" in the world and we strive to fight against evil and do good. Jesus told us that we would be hated by "the world" as he was and for us not to be surprised.

Are you suggesting that it is easier to live a life absent any guidance on how to behave than it is with the simple road map provided by belief?

I don't think Atheists are arguing for a world absent philosophy which provides us with a moral compass with which to base our decisions. I view Religion as just another philosophy, there to provide us with a moral compass. There are different "religions" but they all share the same basic epistemology: mysticism. Whether that mysticism is rooted in one god, many gods, or no gods, they all share the common idea that it's ok to "make stuff up" when you cannot explain something through observation. This is an epistemology that I cannot personally accept as a logical, thinking, and rational human being. It is a punch in the face to reason which is why I abhor the implications of faith and belief.

I personally am very closely aligned with the Objectivist epistemology. Far from what you suggest, I am extremely aware that my actions have consequences. I seek to figure out what those consequences may be via gaining knowledge, often via observation. I then use the knowledge I gain to determine the course of action I should take. I would argue that this is much, much more difficult way of living than basing my actions solely on simple blind faith.

At times I am almost envious of those who can set aside free and rational thought for the simplicity of just following a path based on faith. But then I realized that it was those who broke free from the irrationality of the Religious philosophy that discovered that the world was round and not flat. It was those who broke free from those shackles who freed his fellow man from "praying for rain" so they may eat to survive and instead discovered, via the difficult process of questioning and observation, how to provide in times where "god" didn't cooperate. In order to really act in ways that have positive consequences I had to break free from the shackles of a philosophy based on blind faith and instead embrace one based on observation and reason.

Thanks for the discussion everyone, I have clarified my own thoughts by reading so many wonderful posts and opinion's of others.

Sean

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Posted : June 21, 2009 9:18 pm
tmleeke
(@tmleeke)
Advanced Member

I don't think this post is about God. Nobody knows whether or not God is real. Atheists can't prove he doesn't exist, believers can't prove he does, so what are we trying to prove here? Maybe that we all believe something, but that something ultimately leads to the unknown. And most people can't stand the unknown so they say "this is that, or that is this", even when they know they don't know what they're talking about.

And by the way... isn't the "Freedom from Religion Foundation" just another type of church? One teaches one idea the other teaches another. You are so sneaky smart with your "free" thinking.

One last thing... Atheists and Believers believe what they believe for the same reason. Atheists say "no god" because they can't explain, and Believers say "god" because they can't explain. Each goes on from there to many different and sometimes strange reasons behind their belief, but it begins with the same spark, the unknown.

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Posted : June 21, 2009 9:41 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
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Spiritual Humanist Manifesto
FIRST: Spiritual humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created, but it is a space of great wonder and spirituality.
SECOND: Humanism believes that man is a part and equal with nature, and that he has emerged as a result of a continuous process.

THIRD: Holding an organic view of life, spiritual humanists believe that all living things are created equal and have an equal value in the universe.

FOURTH: Spiritual humanism recognizes that man's religious culture and civilization, as clearly depicted by anthropology and history, are the product of a gradual development due to his interaction with his natural environment and with his social heritage. The individual born into a particular culture is largely molded by that culture.

FIFTH: Spiritual humanism asserts that the nature of the universe depicted by modern science makes questionable any supernatural or cosmic guarantees of human values. Obviously humanism does not deny the possibility of realities as yet undiscovered, but it does think that one way to determine the existence and value of any and all realities is by means of intelligent inquiry and by the assessment of their relations to human needs. Religion should consider formulating its hopes and plans in the light of the scientific spirit and method.

SIXTH: We believe that the time has passed for theism, deism, modernism, and the several varieties of "new thought", including secular humanism.

SEVENTH: Religion consists of those actions, purposes, and experiences which are humanly significant. Nothing human is alien to the religious. It includes labor, art, science, philosophy, love, friendship, recreation -- all that is in its degree expressive of intelligently satisfying human living. The distinction between the sacred and humanity can no longer be maintained.

EIGHTH: Spiritual Humanism considers the complete realization of human personality to be the main part of man's life and seeks its development and fulfillment in the here and now. This is the explanation of the humanist's social passion.

NINTH: In the place of the old attitudes involved in worship and prayer the spiritual humanist finds his religious emotions expressed in a heightened sense of personal life and in a cooperative effort to promote social well-being and of course spread love where ever he can.

TENTH: Everybody has a right to their own phylosophies and beliefs. A person's beliefs, or lack of, are equally as important to them as yours are to you.

ELEVENTH: Man will learn to face the crises of life in terms of his knowledge of their naturalness and probability. Reasonable and manly attitudes will be fostered by education and supported by custom. We assume that spiritual humanism will take the path of social and mental hygiene along with the power of love.

TWELFTH: Believing that religion must work increasingly for joy in living, spiritual humanists aim to foster the creative in man and to encourage achievements that add to the satisfactions of life.

I think part of the problem is that people of faith think atheists don't believein anything, but we have faith and beliefs as well.

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Posted : June 21, 2009 9:42 pm
stiphy
(@stiphy)
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I think part of the problem is that people of faith think atheists don't believein anything, but we have faith and beliefs as well.

Think this is in line with what I was trying to get at in my post. Atheism is not Nihilism. Very different things. But to those of faith they don't seem to understand, or want to understand that. Not believing in god is very different from not believing in anything.

Sean

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Posted : June 21, 2009 9:59 pm
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
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"Holding an organic view of life, spiritual humanists believe that all living things are created equal and have an equal value in the universe."

How do you justify using living things, which are your equal but which you eat, as a means to further your own personal ends i.e. save your life at the expense of theirs?

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Posted : June 22, 2009 2:09 am
Bombi
(@Bombi)
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I inhale oxygen and exhale carbondioxide . I need O2 they (plants) need CO2. I make compost, plants feed on it.

Where did the "save your life at the expense of other" come from?

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Posted : June 22, 2009 12:02 pm
Neil
 Neil
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Bombi... i appreciate your detailing of spiritual humanism. I agree with most of it, and I am also a follower of Christ, in part, because I think HE would agree with most of it. Spiritual Humanism is a faith as well.

Rotor... while I understand that some feel science and God are incompatible, IMHO science doesn't explain away God, it illuminates.
And you talk as if science itself is a set of facts... when science itself holds as many mysteries, paradoxes and conundrums as any religious faith. This is especially true at the quantum level.

American History magazine has a very interesting cover article about Ben Franklin -one of the great minds and scientists of history, and his discovery of the concept of "ecosystems" --which he shares with Reverend Priestly, a founder of the Unitarian movement (which was more god-centered in those days). Priestly also "discovered" oxygen...and the role plants had in producing it --a discovery which Franklin greatly influenced through consultation.

Franklin was a Deist mostly as a result of his distaste for the overbearing religious zealotry he experienced growing up in the Episcopal church... and watching and attending many other church movements in his lifetime. I don't blame him at all and given the tenor or religious institutions back then -I would likely have joined him!! His belief in God, however, is well recorded in his writings and in the records of his speeches to the Continental Congress.

More importanly, he also chose NOT to join the famous athiests of his day in their bashing of religion (deserved or not), saying he was not inclined as they to "wither Christianity by ridicule or bludgeon it to death by argument."

Like a lot of other things Franklin said, that too is excellent advice.

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Posted : June 22, 2009 1:28 pm
jogetz
(@jogetz)
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Hi Antiqueone.

You said:

"But faith in God and Jesus is a funny thing. All the arguments pro and con can only lead one so far. At some point, one must make a "leap of faith" and choose to believe that which one has not seen. And then there is a funny thing that happens: you all of a sudden understand and experience a relationship with the living Christ."

I have a couple of problems with this statement.

First, there are those who have embraced Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, etc and other belief systems and who claim them to be true based on their experiences. Yet, Christianity claims exclusivity. It claims to be the "only way" (Jesus said "No one comes to the Father except by me" ). If truth or falsity of a system is to be based solely on subjective experience, then what are we to make of this conflict?

Secondly, how does one decide where to take this "leap of faith"? As I mentioned above, there is no shortage of competing belief systems, all vying for our adherence. Should we "leap" at each one until we find one that "works"? Are we to rely on good fortune to hit the correct one with our first "leap"? What is unique about the claims of Christianity that would let it stand out for consideration over and above the rest of the crowd?

Thirdly, how does one "choose" to believe something, or more precisely how do you define faith, belief? Can faith simply be turned on or off at our own discretion?

I have found this discussion so far to be quite thought provoking. It will be interesting to see where it goes.

Joe G.

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Posted : June 22, 2009 1:50 pm
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
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"Where did the "save your life at the expense of other" come from?"

You say all living things are equal, but you eat plants, depriving them of their life to sustain yours.

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Posted : June 22, 2009 3:29 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
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dntw8up I don't know how to repond / react to that .

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Posted : June 22, 2009 4:00 pm
Cory
 Cory
(@Cory)
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I honestly think that religion is very good for some people. it makes them happy, gives them guidance...I also think that religion is very bad for some people-see the fanatics loony bins. More people have died in the history of the world in the name of god than any other reason. That being said..I feel that anyone should be able to believe in WHATEVER they want as long as they dont push it on another.

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Posted : June 22, 2009 4:13 pm
Bombi
(@Bombi)
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I honestly think that religion is very good for some people. it makes them happy, gives them guidance...I also think that religion is very bad for some people-see the fanatics loony bins. More people have died in the history of the world in the name of god than any other reason. That being said..I feel that anyone should be able to believe in WHATEVER they want as long as they dont push it on another.

right on! Corey, exactly asI see it.

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Posted : June 22, 2009 5:00 pm
dntw8up
(@dntw8up)
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"dntw8up I don't know how to repond / react to that ."

It's a problem for #3 of your manifesto, "...all living things are created equal and have an equal value in the universe." Under your manifesto, human life and plant life have equal value, so it would be morally wrong for man to kill plants to sustain human life. For what it's worth, the humanism with which I am familiar promotes the equality of all human life, and that is still problematic for me as I have difficulty viewing, for example, the 9/11 hijackers' lives as equally valuable to your life and mine.

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Posted : June 22, 2009 6:08 pm
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