The End of Atheism

Discuss philosophical questions regarding theism (and atheism), and discuss religion as it relates to philosophy. This includes any philosophical discussions that happen to be about god, gods, or a 'higher power' or the belief of them. This also generally includes philosophical topics about organized or ritualistic mysticism or about organized, common or ritualistic beliefs in the existence of supernatural phenomenon.
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Scribbler60
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The End of Atheism

Post by Scribbler60 » November 27th, 2017, 6:17 pm

The argument, for all intents and purposes, is over.

In the thousands of years of trying, there has yet to be any rational, empirically-testable, falsifiable evidence for the existence of any divine superintelligence (note that I use the term divine superintelligence as a placeholder for whichever god(s) is/are being discussed).

Now, that's not to say that falsifiable evidence might somehow emerge before the sun sets tomorrow, but given that the track record on showing this evidence stands at 0% so far, it's unlikely in the extreme that such evidence exists.

Because the existence of any divine superintelligence has never, and CAN never, be demonstrated, that also means that atheism has come to an end.

Time to close the book on it.

It no longer makes sense to be an atheist. It only makes sense now, in my opinion, to be a post-theist.

Post-theism has been defined as:
... a variant of nontheism that proposes that the division of theism vs. atheism is obsolete, that God belongs to a stage of human development now past. (Source: https://findwords.info/term/post-theism)

But it's not just that. It's also a recognition that belief in divine superintelligence(s) played an important part in our history as a species. Our first attempts at explaining the natural world were conducted using theistic interpretations of natural events. That's to be expected, and even admired, from those societies that didn't have microscopes and telescopes and an understanding of evolution by natural selection.

We (humanity) thought god struck the earth with lightning because he was angry. Then we learned about meteorology.
We thought people got sick and died because god was displeased with them. Then we learned about bacteria and disease.
We thought floods and other natural disasters were a result of supernatural anger. Then we learned about tides.

In short, everything - and I do mean everything - we ascribed to supernatural forces have been found to be wholly natural. There isn't one scientifically-accepted example otherwise.

I think it's pretty well summed up in this blog post (note that the post is not mine and I have no connection with the author):
The atheist label no longer makes sense because the question of god is a settled fact; a god doesn’t exist and never did, so one doesn’t lack belief, but rather proceeds with the knowledge that there’s no god and conducts their life as such.
Here in Canada, the most "famous" post-theist (I use the term "famous" loosely) is probably Gretta Vosper of West Hill United Church in Toronto. Gretta is an openly-atheist (still using the term) minister in the United Church and was recently under threat to have her bona fides stripped from her by the church hierarchy. Fortunately, cooler, smarter heads prevailed and she retains her position. Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2017/1 ... ister.html

You can get a handle on Gretta's philosophy here:
So the argument about the existence of a divine superintelligence is over. Let's move on to more important issues: peace, justice, rational law and the freedom of the individual.

Chili
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Chili » November 27th, 2017, 7:37 pm

Ok. BTW where do "other minds" fit in your "100% natural" view? Do they require faith?

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Scribbler60
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Scribbler60 » November 27th, 2017, 8:54 pm

Chili wrote:Ok. BTW where do "other minds" fit in your "100% natural" view? Do they require faith?
I'm not sure I understand the question. Does the existence of other people require faith in a naturalistic worldview? Well, if you define "faith" in the traditional sense of believing in things unseen and unseeable, then no. Faith is not required to recognize that other people and other minds exist.

But the sense I get - perhaps wrongly - is that doesn't answer your question. I'm not sure what the question is, really.

Aside: I'm flattered that you think it's "my view" but I can assure you it's not; post-theism has a much longer history than even I had originally considered. It goes back to at least 1918. Please see http://religion.wikia.com/wiki/Post-theism

Note: I'm going to be away for a few days but will look back on this thread upon my return. In short, I'm not ignoring anybody. But real life beckons.

Spectrum
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Spectrum » November 27th, 2017, 9:20 pm

I understand it is very common to prefix an "ism" with "post" or "neo" so as to relate some connection to its past.

However, critically there is no need to retain the term 'theism' or atheism and add the prefix "post"?
The point is the idea of God is an impossibility and thus 'theism' is baseless and groundless, so there is no need to stick to such a term like theism which has a terrible negative baggage of terrors, violence and full range of evil.

There is the term 'humanism' which is more realistic.
Wiki wrote: Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism and empiricism) over acceptance of dogma or superstition. The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it.[1]
The term was coined by theologian Friedrich Niethammer at the beginning of the 19th century to refer to a system of education based on the study of classical literature ("classical humanism"). Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of human freedom and progress.

In modern times, humanist movements are typically non-religious movements aligned with secularism, and today humanism typically refers to a nontheistic life stance centred on human agency and looking to science rather than revelation from a supernatural source to understand the world.[2][3]
The above terms and "ism" were coined as conveniences for communication but because they have to be defined they tend to gravitate toward specification and limitations which then is not an efficient representation of reality.

Rather than a 'definite' term, we need a term that is 'open source' or 'open-ended' that has to be supported by narrations and explanation which explain that particular basis of reality which now falsely dominated by 'theism' [psychologically necessary].

'Humanism' seem to be confined and focus on Science. Perhaps a suitable and open ended term could be "Humanosopshy" i.e. Human + philosophy [wisdom].
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

Chili
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Chili » November 27th, 2017, 9:48 pm

Scribbler60 wrote: Faith is not required to recognize that other people and other minds exist.
Other minds can be a bit of a problem, especially for a devotee of reductive physicalism.
http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/gengl ... -body.html

Spectrum
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Spectrum » November 27th, 2017, 10:21 pm

Chili wrote:Ok. BTW where do "other minds" fit in your "100% natural" view? Do they require faith?
Not sure why this is a big issue?

Even monkeys can recognized 'other minds'.
Psychologists test monkeys’ theory of mind
“Contrary to what we might have thought based on other experimental evidence, monkeys do seem to reason about what individuals can and can’t see,” she said. “They do share our ability to reason about the minds of others.”

https://yaledailynews.com/blog/2005/03/ ... y-of-mind/

-- Updated Mon Nov 27, 2017 9:26 pm to add the following --

Humans aren’t the only great apes that can ‘read minds’
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

Chili
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Chili » November 27th, 2017, 10:48 pm

Spectrum wrote:
Chili wrote:Ok. BTW where do "other minds" fit in your "100% natural" view? Do they require faith?
Not sure why this is a big issue?
It's a big issue. There's a casual way in which primate psychology uses it, but this is not the same as locating or detecting consciousness per se.
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/other-minds/

-- Updated November 27th, 2017, 10:51 pm to add the following --

For practical purposes, a vending machine may be thought of as having a mind which is bent on ignoring me unless I enter the proper change, but is then kindly disposed to hand the snack over. Does this mean it is "like" something to be a vending machine"?

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Greta
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Greta » November 27th, 2017, 11:16 pm

Interesting, thanks Scribbler. I've not heard of a theist of the Abrahamic tradition that completely rejects the Bible's questionable historicity before. Her approach resembles that of some some Buddhists.

Still, where's the magic and the buzz? Are all people - not just determinedly down-to-earth types - really supposed to be satisfied with fellowship, sans any mystical experiences? How about leading the flock in showing them how to enjoy the kinds of seemingly transcendent experiences enjoyed by spiritualists down through history? Why not keep that "baby" and just throw out the "bathwater" of religious unfairness and cruelty? At this stage, both bub and theistic ugliness are spiralling down Gretta Vosper's well-meaning drain.

Our brains have a capacity to generate mystical experiences - that don't just feel good, but are healthful and can prompt insights. It seems a waste to put this wonderful ability aside just because of its association with the problems of belief. Where are the non-superstitious western schools teaching this? Not just TM for stress relief, but to show how to use this ability of the brain in a wise manner and consequently help them more sensitively feel who and what they are in the world? If the non-superstitious approach is to succeed, it needs to include a visceral aspect. That's the situation.

This is why evangelicals are doing better than other theistic groups - they aim to create an experience in their services, even if catastrophically aesthetically challenged. Their larger-than-life events attract people who hope to be taken out of themselves and their humdrum lives, who pine for something better. These people are not attending church to clarify the meaning of Biblical metaphors. They want to be emotionally impacted.

Spectrum
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Spectrum » November 28th, 2017, 12:17 am

Chili wrote:
Spectrum wrote: (Nested quote removed.)

Not sure why this is a big issue?
It's a big issue. There's a casual way in which primate psychology uses it, but this is not the same as locating or detecting consciousness per se.
https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/other-minds/

-- Updated November 27th, 2017, 10:51 pm to add the following --

For practical purposes, a vending machine may be thought of as having a mind which is bent on ignoring me unless I enter the proper change, but is then kindly disposed to hand the snack over. Does this mean it is "like" something to be a vending machine"?
The evidences from 'primate psychology' [& other animals - see below*] give us the clues of "other minds" in a very basic manner without the likely corruption of human reasoning.
https://en.wik1pedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_mind_in_animals
*(primates, parrots, ravens, scrub jays, dogs, pigs, goats).

Note how the knowledge of TOM is translated to real usefulness and productiveness.
Wiki wrote:In one approach testing monkeys, rhesus macaques (Macaca mulatta) are able to "steal" a contested grape from one of two human competitors. In six experiments, the macaques selectively stole the grape from a human who was incapable of seeing the grape, rather than from the human who was visually aware. The authors suggest that rhesus macaques possess an essential component of ToM: the ability to deduce what others perceive on the basis of where they are looking.[26]

Similarly, free ranging rhesus macaques preferentially choose to steal food items from locations where they can be less easily observed by humans, or where they will make less noise.[8]
From the SEP Link;
They would know directly that there is a pain that they are experiencing but that would not give them the knowledge, the guarantee, that indeed someone else is experiencing that pain. So, the asymmetry that generates the epistemological problem of other minds is that each of us sometimes knows directly that we are in the mental state we are in and we never know directly that someone other than ourself is in the mental state they are in.
Point is humans will never ever have absolute knowledge of anything.
Note Kants' thing-in-itself.
Note Meno's Paradox - how can we know what something is when we do not 'know' it in the first place.

What we can know is always relative to some framework and system.
What is most critical is the usefulness of the knowledge we have and how well it is justified empirically-rationally. This apply to knowledge of the mind of others we know of within justified framework and system.

The questions of the impossibility of TOM is philosophical interesting, but these are merely thought experiments based on limited philosophical knowledge and wisdom.
Not-a-theist. Religion is a critical necessity for humanity now, but not the FUTURE.

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Greta
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Greta » November 28th, 2017, 1:01 am

Chili wrote:For practical purposes, a vending machine may be thought of as having a mind which is bent on ignoring me unless I enter the proper change, but is then kindly disposed to hand the snack over. Does this mean it is "like" something to be a vending machine"?
A vending machine is simpler than a blastocyst, and we've all been a blastocyst and embryo, and as far as we can tell that period was a blank.

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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Burning ghost » November 28th, 2017, 1:56 am

Pure insanity. What is she doing? Why is she in a church?

If she cares about people's psychological well being why is she not a psychologist? There is something quite contrary about this woman. Who has ever heard of a atheist religion? Its utter nonsense!

That said I do believe there is something to this that will likely take the form of how religion will move into our future understanding of the human condition. I think it is more a matter of the concept of "god" being rethought and shifted around to fit into general everyday understanding about the human world. I do not think "god" is a human construct, although it is a reasonably close approximation to how I see it. My view is that the concept of "god" is a representation of something human that is held at bay from rational human understanding, and that its presence in the human mind manifests as a vague entity some choose to explicate as an external supernatural force.
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Chili
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Chili » November 28th, 2017, 2:35 am

Burning ghost wrote: If she cares about people's psychological well being why is she not a psychologist? There is something quite contrary about this woman. Who has ever heard of a atheist religion? Its utter nonsense!
People get something out of church more than just beliefs or therapy. It is a social bonding time, "scientifically correct" to gather and celebrate.

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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Burning ghost » November 28th, 2017, 3:30 am

Chili -

And ? Are you suggesting that being an atheist and being religious are not opposed in some way? If so then we may as well stop saying there is any difference between scientific views and religious views (which is obviously complete nonsense.)

Stating the obvious is helpful is you have a point in addition to it. So, do you have a point?
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Eduk » November 28th, 2017, 7:59 am

Not sure why you are struggling with this one Burning Ghost?

'Church' is a big social construct, there is a lot more to church than simply belief in one or many specific god/s. For example many people get married in a church (seemingly happily) while never once attending church before or after. You could argue they are hypocrites but to do that you would have to understand their reasons for wanting a church service. That is just one example, there are millions more.

By the way there are many atheist Priests and church goers who are perfectly happy with what they get out of the experience. There is no contradiction here. For example I have a friend who does not enjoy football but does enjoy the exercise of football, I have not considered that to be a hypocritical stance.
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Re: The End of Atheism

Post by Steve3007 » November 28th, 2017, 8:52 am

Chilli:
For practical purposes, a vending machine may be thought of as having a mind which is bent on ignoring me unless I enter the proper change, but is then kindly disposed to hand the snack over. Does this mean it is "like" something to be a vending machine"?
It depends if the vending machine has been designed to have a Genuine People Personality, to greet you with a sunny disposition and make your beverage buying experience as pleasant as possible.

hitchhikers.wikia.com/wiki/Genuine_Peop ... sonalities

Burning Ghost:
If she cares about people's psychological well being why is she not a psychologist? There is something quite contrary about this woman. Who has ever heard of a atheist religion? Its utter nonsense!
I agree with Eduk's reply. Another analogy would be alcohol free beer. If you like the taste of beer but don't want to get intoxicated, it's great. Likewise with God-free church and football just for the exercise.

On the other extreme, there are the people who love to follow football and get all obsessed with league tables, goal differences and arguing about interpretations of the offside rule, but don't actually ever play it. I guess that would the equivalent of Church-free god - people who aren't into what they see as all the phoney trappings of "mainstream" religion. I guess that would be equivalent to beer-free alcohol.

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