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Moviefan2k4
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17 Jun 2014, 10:47 am

In one short phrase, this is it: "no eternal hope".

Now, the elaboration...

By definition, atheism is a philosophy which rejects all possibility of the supernatural (literally, "outside nature"). If they can't see, hear, taste, touch, or feel it emotionally, most atheists refuse to believe it exists.

However, there's certain things which we all know about in life, that have no strict natural basis. For example, does love or justice have a chemical formula? Can we find a recipe for fairness or equality in the soil? Are our own thoughts just the result of unguided chaos flowing through gray matter in our heads?

My overall point is this: from a purely human-based, naturalistic standpoint, atheists have no source for justice or love beyond this life. Their only claim is that hundreds or thousands of years from now, mankind's inner nature will somehow get better on its own...but history has shown the total opposite. We still wrestle with things like jealousy, despair, greed, hunger, and corruption every day, all around the world...just as we did thousands of years ago. Technology improves, but that's external. We need a massive inner change for any utopian future to exist...and in my opinion, what really ticks most atheists off over anything else is the idea that we can't make that collective shift alone.

I am a Christian, first and foremost, because seeking God gives me hope that a much better existence waits for me after this unjust, fallen, often-cruel one ends. Of all religious leaders, only Jesus willingly surrendered His own life in exchange for mine. I don't always like His rules, and I often rage against Him in my heart because of personal pain...but He did save me from suicide 12 years ago, when I truly had no hope left. While I sometimes hate His method of saving me, I have to believe there was some kind of reason. I don't know what the purpose of my life is without Him, and nature can't explain why temporary survival's not enough.


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Stannis
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17 Jun 2014, 11:01 am

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
In one short phrase, this is it: "no eternal hope".


Now, the elaboration...

Quote:
By definition, atheism is a philosophy which rejects all possibility of the supernatural (literally, "outside nature"). If they can't see, hear, taste, touch, or feel it emotionally, most atheists refuse to believe it exists.


That's not the definition of atheism.



LoveNotHate
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17 Jun 2014, 11:11 am

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
"no eternal hope".


This must be something you need ?


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SoMissunderstood
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17 Jun 2014, 11:16 am

'Hope' was the only emotion that did not escape Pandora's Box.

I am very happy for you that you found salvation through Jesus Christ and without that, wouldn't be here today (Praise The Lord). However, Hope and Faith go hand-in-hand and one cannot really exist without the other.

Which comes first? it doesn't really matter in the overall scheme of things.

Like the second poster stated, you seem to have the concept of Atheism a bit screwed up.

Atheists don't disbelieve in anything that's not immediately recognisable and cognizant through their sensory organs....Atheists just don't believe in God, full stop.

'God' is only one of the things that people do not know about, but there are many more things...like what is Dark Matter comprised of? Atheists will believe in Dark Matter, Black Holes and Big Bangs, but they won't believe in God.

There is one thing that Atheists and Theists can both agree on 100% though.

IF a God exists (not saying one way or the other), the only way to know/understand that God exists is through direct personal experience because there will never be any 'proof' of it, ever!

Now, it all boils down to the importance placed on this 'personal experience'. To a religious person having a 'peak experience', raising Kundalini and all that, the whole experience will be real, true and bona-fide.

To the Atheist who doesn't believe that such an experience is possible because they are too stubborn to open their heart up to the possibility of experience beyond the senses, it's all just a crock of bulls**t. Get it?

I am a Theistic Hindu.



Last edited by SoMissunderstood on 17 Jun 2014, 11:32 am, edited 4 times in total.

ZenDen
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17 Jun 2014, 11:19 am

You say:
"My overall point is this: from a purely human-based, naturalistic standpoint, atheists have no source for justice or love beyond this life."

This is why doing good in the "here and now" (without the "heaven" payoff) is so important to many people. Perhaps true of some Christians also?

You shouldn't disparage others beliefs because you don't understand them; "no eternal hope"? Really? Did representatives from all other religions tell you they believed in "no eternal hope?"

Can you be more than 100% wrong?



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17 Jun 2014, 11:23 am

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
In one short phrase, this is it: "no eternal hope".


We don't need eternal hope. In fact, life is much more meaningful if we know that's going to end.

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
Now, the elaboration...

By definition, atheism is a philosophy which rejects all possibility of the supernatural (literally, "outside nature"). If they can't see, hear, taste, touch, or feel it emotionally, most atheists refuse to believe it exists.


No, atheism is simply a rejection of belief in gods.

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
However, there's certain things which we all know about in life, that have no strict natural basis. For example, does love or justice have a chemical formula? Can we find a recipe for fairness or equality in the soil? Are our own thoughts just the result of unguided chaos flowing through gray matter in our heads?


Justice is a human construct used to enforce social order and we are social animals. Other animals also have social order. Love, just like most other emotions are reactions due to chemicals in the brain. Also yes, our thoughts are electrochemical processes in the brain, though I wouldn't call it chaos, more like processes similar to what a computer has.

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
My overall point is this: from a purely human-based, naturalistic standpoint, atheists have no source for justice or love beyond this life. Their only claim is that hundreds or thousands of years from now, mankind's inner nature will somehow get better on its own...but history has shown the total opposite. We still wrestle with things like jealousy, despair, greed, hunger, and corruption every day, all around the world...just as we did thousands of years ago. Technology improves, but that's external. We need a massive inner change for any utopian future to exist...and in my opinion, what really ticks most atheists off over anything else is the idea that we can't make that collective shift alone.


We don't need justice beyond this life. We only need it in the here and now. The purpose of justice is simply to keep social order in this life, things don't have to matter on a cosmic scale to matter at all. If you don't think that we can get better, just look in your history books and you'll see that we already have gotten better over time. Many things that were acceptable in the past, including slavery, would not be considered acceptable today. I doubt that there ever will be a utopian future, that's just wishful thinking. However, we can still change society any way want to, to the kind of society that we want to live in.

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
I am a Christian, first and foremost, because seeking God gives me hope that a much better existence waits for me after this unjust, fallen, often-cruel one ends. Of all religious leaders, only Jesus willingly surrendered His own life in exchange for mine. I don't always like His rules, and I often rage against Him in my heart because of personal pain...but He did save me from suicide 12 years ago, when I truly had no hope left. While I sometimes hate His method of saving me, I have to believe there was some kind of reason. I don't know what the purpose of my life is without Him, and nature can't explain why temporary survival's not enough.


I think that it's better to make the most of the life that we have than to worry about what comes after even if there was something that comes afterwards. I personally think that the life we have is the only one that we have and that there's nothing afterwards.



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17 Jun 2014, 11:43 am

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
In one short phrase, this is it: "no eternal hope".

Now, the elaboration...

By definition, atheism is a philosophy which rejects all possibility of the supernatural (literally, "outside nature")

No. By definition, atheism is a philosophy which rejects all possibility of a deity (or deities). It would be possible to be an atheist who believes in the supernatural, for example an atheist who believes in ghosts.


Quote:
. If they can't see, hear, taste, touch, or feel it emotionally, most atheists refuse to believe it exists.


Not at all. Many (most?) atheists are well aware of the limits of human senses. That which can't be percieved by human senses is not supernatural, it is merely outside our perceptual range.

Quote:
However, there's certain things which we all know about in life, that have no strict natural basis. For example, does love or justice have a chemical formula?

Here is a chemical formula for love:

Quote:
1-({(4R,7S,10S,13S,16S,19R)-19-amino-7-(2-amino-2-oxoethyl)-10-(3-amino-3-oxopropyl)-16-(4-hydroxybenzoyl)-13-[(1S)-1-methylpropyl]-6,9,12,15,18-pentaoxo-1,2-dithia-5,8,11,14,17-pentaazacycloicosan-4-yl}carbonyl)-L-prolyl-L-leucylglycinamide


from the wiki for oxytocin http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxytocin

I don't know the chemical basis for our sense of justice but strongly suspect that dopamine is involved (the motivation neurotransmitter).

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Can we find a recipe for fairness or equality in the soil?

I wouldn't look for it in the soil. It is entirely a human concept.
Quote:
Are our own thoughts just the result of unguided chaos flowing through gray matter in our heads?


Unguided? Not at all. The guidance is exquisite. You learn about it if you take a neuroanatomy class or independent reading on neuroanatomy. Chaos? Not at all. There is order. Amazing order.

Quote:
My overall point is this: from a purely human-based, naturalistic standpoint, atheists have no source for justice or love beyond this life.

Not beyond this life. Only in this life. Whatever justice and love we want to see, we must be responsible for creating.


Quote:
Their only claim is that hundreds or thousands of years from now, mankind's inner nature will somehow get better on its own...but history has shown the total opposite.

Not according to Steven Pinker- and I think he makes a good case.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Better ... Our_Nature


Quote:
Pinker presents a large amount of data (and statistical analysis thereof) that, he argues, demonstrate that violence has been in decline over millennia and that the present is probably the most peaceful time in the history of the human species. The decline in violence, he argues, is enormous in magnitude, visible on both long and short time scales, and found in many domains, including military conflict, homicide, genocide, torture, criminal justice, treatment of children, homosexuals, animals and racial and ethnic minorities. He stresses that "The decline, to be sure, has not been smooth; it has not brought violence down to zero; and it is not guaranteed to continue."[3]

Pinker argues that the radical declines in violent behavior that he documents do not result from major changes in human biology or cognition. He specifically rejects the view that humans are necessarily violent, and thus have to undergo radical change in order to become more peaceable. However, Pinker also rejects what he regards as the simplistic nature versus nurture argument, which would imply that the radical change must therefore have come purely from external ("nurture") sources. Instead, he argues: "The way to explain the decline of violence is to identify the changes in our cultural and material milieu that have given our peaceable motives the upper hand."[4]


Quote:
We still wrestle with things like jealousy, despair, greed, hunger, and corruption every day, all around the world...just as we did thousands of years ago.

We do, but we have somehow managed to wrestle with these things in a somewhat less violent manner than before. See Pinker above.


Quote:
Technology improves, but that's external. We need a massive inner change for any utopian future to exist...and in my opinion, what really ticks most atheists off over anything else is the idea that we can't make that collective shift alone.


No I think what really ticks most atheists off over anything else is the idea (held by some religious people) that virtue and morality and hope are impossible without religion. You even started this off with "no eternal hope" as though religion was needed for hope.

Quote:
I am a Christian, first and foremost, because seeking God gives me hope that a much better existence waits for me after this unjust, fallen, often-cruel one ends. Of all religious leaders, only Jesus willingly surrendered His own life in exchange for mine. I don't always like His rules, and I often rage against Him in my heart because of personal pain...but He did save me from suicide 12 years ago, when I truly had no hope left. While I sometimes hate His method of saving me, I have to believe there was some kind of reason. I don't know what the purpose of my life is without Him, and nature can't explain why temporary survival's not enough.


That is good that faith in God saved you. But that does not mean that all people require religion to be saved from their despair.



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17 Jun 2014, 11:53 am

I am an atheist, but I am very willing to believe in the supernatural. My definition of the 'supernatural' is that it is something which we don't (yet) understand.

The problem with most peoples' belief in a God is that their belief is based on the idea that their god is their own, and that believers will be given preferential treatment.

When 'God' unleashes the forces of nature, or of war, there are no preferences or privileges and there is no right or wrong. Prayer is the final act of desperation, and the final decision is taken by Lady Luck.



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17 Jun 2014, 12:06 pm

Quote:
In one short phrase, this is it: "no eternal hope".

So...? This might make it less desirable in the eyes of some, but is not an argument against its truth.

Quote:
If they can't see, hear, taste, touch, or feel it emotionally, most atheists refuse to believe it exists.

This is empiricism, not atheism:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism
If you are referring to the refusal to accept the existence of something until seeing evidence for it, this is very sensible. Our legal system works that way (innocent until proven guilty), as does the scientific method (a hypothesis is formed, then experiment is performed to find - or not find - evidence for it).
Quote:
However, there's certain things which we all know about in life, that have no strict natural basis. For example, does love or justice have a chemical formula? Can we find a recipe for fairness or equality in the soil? Are our own thoughts just the result of unguided chaos flowing through gray matter in our heads?

Love does have a chemical basis - hormones. I refer you to Jannisy, above. If you are referring to love in the broader sense, as in compassion, that is the result of humans being social animals, and it thus being beneficial to look after other humans in the tribe. They both have an evolutionary basis.Evolutionary origin of compassion (link)
Our thoughts probably are the result of electrochemical signals running through neurons, but 'unstructured' couldn't be further from the truth. There is no reason consciousness cannot be an emergent property of matter.Cognitive neuroscience (link) is an entire field of neuroscience devoted to studying the neurology of thought.
Justice, IMO, does not exist on its own, but is a construct we have invented in order to get on better with each other.
Quote:
My overall point is this: from a purely human-based, naturalistic standpoint, atheists have no source for justice or love beyond this life.

Why does it have to be 'beyond this life'? These are still meaningful concepts without a creator and eternal life to back it up.

Quote:
Their only claim is that hundreds or thousands of years from now, mankind's inner nature will somehow get better on its own..

When have atheists claimed this?
Quote:
My overall point is this: from a purely human-based, naturalistic standpoint, atheists have no source for justice or love beyond this life. Their only claim is that hundreds or thousands of years from now, mankind's inner nature will somehow get better on its own...but history has shown the total opposite. We still wrestle with things like jealousy, despair, greed, hunger, and corruption every day, all around the world...just as we did thousands of years ago. Technology improves, but that's external. We need a massive inner change for any utopian future to exist...

Again, this addresses the desirability, rather than the truth, of existence vs. nonexistence of God or gods. Also, human nature is flexible, so inner changes are possible, if helped by society:
http://www.newstatesman.com/books/2012/01/prinz-learning-capacities
Quote:
in my opinion, what really ticks most atheists off over anything else is the idea that we can't make that collective shift alone.

Speaking as an an atheist myself, this bothers me much less than you think. I don't know about anyone else, but you, not being an atheist and speaking from your opinion, are not particularly qualified to talk about what bothers the millions of us worldwide.
Quote:
I am a Christian, first and foremost, because seeking God gives me hope that a much better existence waits for me after this unjust, fallen, often-cruel one ends.

Again, desirability vs. truth.
Quote:
Of all religious leaders, only Jesus willingly surrendered His own life in exchange for mine. I don't always like His rules, and I often rage against Him in my heart because of personal pain...but He did save me from suicide 12 years ago, when I truly had no hope left.

I find it great that Christianity helped you so much, and am glad it saved you from suicide. However, hope doesn't necessarily have to come from religion. Mine, after a total breakdown and self-harm issues earlier this year, came from my friends, and a sense of wonder at nature, taken at face value.
Quote:
While I sometimes hate His method of saving me, I have to believe there was some kind of reason. I don't know what the purpose of my life is without Him, and nature can't explain why temporary survival's not enough

Temporary survival is enough for me, and because I know that my existence is (probably) only fleeting and ephemeral, I try to make it worth it, try to be happy, as much as possible.


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Last edited by FeralRobot on 17 Jun 2014, 12:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

SoMissunderstood
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17 Jun 2014, 12:11 pm

MrGrumpy wrote:
I am an atheist, but I am very willing to believe in the supernatural. My definition of the 'supernatural' is that it is something which we don't (yet) understand.

The problem with most peoples' belief in a God is that their belief is based on the idea that their god is their own, and that believers will be given preferential treatment.

When 'God' unleashes the forces of nature, or of war, there are no preferences or privileges. Prayer is the final act of desperation, and the final decision is taken by Lady Luck.

The only thing that stops me from being a 'fully fledged Hindu/Buddhist' is that I have real problems with the concepts of Karma (Lady Luck) and Reincarnation (who said YOLO)?

'Karma' becomes nothing more than a convenient excuse to explain why innocent kids are starving in Africa and why 'Bad Things Happen To Good People' (excellent book by Howard Kuschner btw)...Karma is akin to the age-old Christian adage of 'The Lord Works In Mysterious Ways'...yeah, so freaking 'mysterious', as if to convince us of His non-existence.

I would be an Atheist myself, save for all the unexplained coincidences which keep on happening in my life that are way too bloody obvious to be mere coincidence.

It's like something out there is trying to get a message to me and I can read the message, but I can't translate it into any degree of practicality whatsoever...hence why I believe in God (for lack of anything 'better' to believe in other than myself).

I've also had quite a few unexplained spiritual experiences and also a few explainable ones...but like I said before, these are all just subjective, personal experiences.

I know full well that God cannot be 'owned' because He owns the heart of His worshipers!

Humans like to exert too much control...not only over their external environment, but their internal one...that's why, the 'let go, let God' phrase was invented.

Anyway, I have rambled on enough.

Like I said before, I am a Theist (I'm an Absolute Monotheist, actually). I have no desire to prosthelytize, no desire to try and 'convert' Atheists or people from another Religion (as you all can see, I respect and admire all Religious beliefs, even though my own personal choice is Hindu) and I respect Atheists for also holding the beliefs they do, because I also have a very scientific and logical thought process.



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17 Jun 2014, 12:30 pm

I didn't intend to insult or condemn anyone, so forgive me if that didn't come across properly. I rewrote my initial post many times, especially the content prior to my personal story.

To be clear, I never said religion is needed for hope, regarding this life. In fact, I'm against many super-religious people, because they have a large tendency towards self-righteousness instead of God's. I was raised non-denominational, but there was a lot of fear and hate mixed in. My aunt and uncle knew all about God's laws, but His love was mostly treated as an afterthought. I take issue with that kind of unbalanced teaching, in either extreme.

There's a semi-popular phrase I've often heard used for the super-religious crowd: "They're so heavenly minded that they're no Earthly good." Well, I'd apply the reverse to many atheists, especially obnoxious anti-theists. "They're so Earthly minded that they're no Heavenly good."


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17 Jun 2014, 2:01 pm

What are you talking about, Moviefan? Some of us certainly do plan to live forever.

Even discounting the possibility of mind-uploading within my lifetime, my eternal hope is the potential for knowing my actions made a difference during my time, and that I conducted myself by my own moral standards, contrary to the apathetic crowd. You're attacking a straw man.

Quote:
does love or justice have a chemical formula?


C43H66N12O12S2, otherwise known as oxytocin. This has been mentioned not only earlier in this thread, but in previous instances in which you've thrown out that old line, but as usual, whenever anyone calls you out on your ignorance of basic scientific and historical facts, you never acknowledge or respond to them. You just flat-out ignore any argument or inconvenient piece of information which doesn't support your preconceived conclusion.

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Are our own thoughts just the result of unguided chaos flowing through gray matter in our heads?


Yes, as a matter of fact, they are. Except they're not unguided, the brain is self-guiding and self-organizing. This is a fact taught in any high-school level psychology or anatomy course which covers the functioning of the brain and nervous system.

You really should crack open a book on these subjects every now and then.

Quote:
My overall point is this: from a purely human-based, naturalistic standpoint, atheists have no source for justice or love beyond this life.


This life is enough as a justification.

Quote:
Their only claim is that hundreds or thousands of years from now, mankind's inner nature will somehow get better on its own...but history has shown the total opposite.


That's not my claim, nor is it central to atheism. Again, straw man.



Last edited by drh1138 on 17 Jun 2014, 2:41 pm, edited 5 times in total.

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17 Jun 2014, 2:03 pm

You can believe in gods and still think there is no afterlife. You don't get a cookie with that either. If you feel that the universe or gods owe you some eternal reward for something, well, that's not the universe's or a god's problem. That's just something you want.



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17 Jun 2014, 2:27 pm

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
what really ticks most atheists off over anything else is the idea that we can't make that collective shift alone.


Just for the record, I have never met an atheist that this applies to. What ticks most atheists off the most is the fact that so many Christians insist that atheists are inferior in one way or another just because they are atheists (or often times in every way).

And I personally do have eternal hope in humanity (in so far as the existence of humanity, that is). We (collectively) gain more and more knowledge and experience with every generation, and we have the ability to record it all and pass it on to the next generation. Our biggest strides forward as a species have all been substantially influenced by new and/or improved knowledge; rarely has religion done more than alleviate a limited amount of suffering (at best). With the belief in eternal life, the importance of the future in this life is greatly diminished.


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17 Jun 2014, 3:43 pm

What am I talking about is that a purely humanistic, atheistic, naturalistic viewpoint has no inherent source for anything immaterial. We already know natural laws couldn't have formed nature itself, because science has proven there was a static beginning for it. Hence, it becomes a "chicken vs. egg" dilemma. Some try to get around it by citing the possibility of multiple universes, but there is zero evidence for any other than our own. By contrast, there's plenty of evidence for the possibility of a supreme intelligence outside of nature; whether you believe its the God of the Bible is another story.


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17 Jun 2014, 4:02 pm

Moviefan2k4 wrote:
What am I talking about is that a purely humanistic, atheistic, naturalistic viewpoint has no inherent source for anything immaterial. We already know natural laws couldn't have formed nature itself, because science has proven there was a static beginning for it. Hence, it becomes a "chicken vs. egg" dilemma. Some try to get around it by citing the possibility of multiple universes, but there is zero evidence for any other than our own. By contrast, there's plenty of evidence for the possibility of a supreme intelligence outside of nature; whether you believe its the God of the Bible is another story.


I totally agree with you on this. That's my reasoning. I came to the conclusion that I couldn't accept that nothing caused the beginning of everything, that there had to be something behind it and because I love nature I am just in awe of things like the carbon cycle and the water cycle and how all of the layers of muscle and tissue interconnect inside my body and how I digest the food I eat and how the vitimans and minerals are aborbed and used to repair my body.

Some call it mother nature, others have different names for it. I stood at that point and asked more questions. I thought, "it doesn't have to be the Christian God of the Bible, so what is it?" and I took myself on a journey of learning. I always come back to the God of the Bible though and since I've been in my 30s that is where I have stayed. It's a journey we all have to undertake for ourselves. Everyone finds their own way.

I genuinely believe that alot of athiests are happy with the concept of this being the only life they have and they must live it to the fullest. Some have said to me, "oh, I would like to think there is a God, but I don't know." We are all different. Just like we can't paint all Christians with the same brush and say, "this is what you think," we can't do that with athiests either.