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Are we all born an Atheist?

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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Greta
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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Greta » October 24th, 2018, 6:02 pm

Eduk wrote:
October 24th, 2018, 7:23 am
There's the problem. If you want to influence me you need to use a correct definition, at least:
Cool. Have you polled many atheists to ask them what they actually believe? My definition includes quite a bit of subtlety. More than the average person really considers on a day to day basis. My definition includes not knowing what a 'God' is, something which most people assume they do know. You might say you don't believe in God or are agnostic about God or do believe in God. My first question would be what is God? If you feel this question isn't important then I don't think you are getting to the bottom of anyone's belief.
I wrote the below to you two days ago but it seemed not to have been noticed:
It's one thing to be atheist to the old spirit man with hangups about gays, shellfish and menstruating women, it's another to be atheist to all possible spiritual conceptions, including various angles of pantheism. There could be aspects of reality that we have not imagined or completely misinterpreted.
So I have already answered the question. How about you? What conceptions exactly are you atheist to and what are you not atheist to?
Eduk wrote:
October 24th, 2018, 7:23 am
I am open to the possibility of godlike phenomena or unknown aspects of reality that are interpreted as God (or whatever). I am open to the universe being an atom of another. I am open to the multiverse and parallel universes, to other dimensions or strange time affects that we cannot even imagine. I'm open to other larger systems having some kind of mentality that we can't detect.
I don't know a religion which claims not to know whatever 'God' it is that they are worshipping. And that their 'God' could be a large and unknown number of things. Furthermore I don't know a religion which doesn't then go on to make all kinds of ludicrous claims.
No religion knows what god they are worshipping. As far as I can tell their accounts are full of contradictory claims, with different factions of single religions seemingly worshipping very different deities under the same name.

To me that's politics. I don't give a stuff what other people think and I hope they don't much care what I think. For me, the more interesting question considers the nature of reality rather than memetic competition in humans. In fact, as a rule of thumb, I find the non human far more interesting and compelling than humanity these days.

Are there are other, larger consciousnesses in reality than our own, that might contain us and that we might be able to connect with mentally? I don't know the answer, so I'm agnostic.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Jklint » October 24th, 2018, 7:45 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
October 24th, 2018, 5:06 am
Jklint wrote:
October 22nd, 2018, 4:48 pm

I think there would be more overlap between dogs and humans than between humans and god. The way god or gods often behave actually makes dogs look superior.

Seems to me that holds rather well for dogs vs. humans.
You make a good point and the reason why humans to often prefer their pets to other humans even those in the family!
Karpel Tunnel wrote:
October 24th, 2018, 5:06 am
I do understand the problem of evil, though from the perspective of the rest of life on earth, humans are incredibly destructive, and perhaps not too far in the future, almost magically effective in their destruction of ecosystems.
That future has already long arrived and no-longer mostly land-based. Saw a report of all the plastics accumulating in the oceans and how we ourselves are ingesting micro particles of it in most of what we eat. That's how far pollution now ranges! The scenes were disgusting beyond belief, fish swimming through massive accumulations of plastic. Anybody who still believes that technology is going to save and advance us is either stupid or naive. The most pollution in the history of the human race is directly commensurate to the technologies which have advanced since the industrial revolution.
Karpel Tunnel wrote:
October 24th, 2018, 5:06 am
In Abrahamic religions God is presented as all loving and perfect.
According to children's bible studies, yes. But in the Old Testament, the beginning of it all, the self-imposed god of the Jews who decided to choose them as His Chosen People without asking, was of a character that would put Hitler to shame. He was never meant to be loving. In the NT Jesus also in spite of so many pretty sayings - many of them added later - had a fairly deep mean streak when it came down to those were not of his people.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » October 25th, 2018, 1:51 am

Jklint wrote:
October 24th, 2018, 7:45 pm
According to children's bible studies, yes. But in the Old Testament, the beginning of it all, the self-imposed god of the Jews who decided to choose them as His Chosen People without asking, was of a character that would put Hitler to shame. He was never meant to be loving. In the NT Jesus also in spite of so many pretty sayings - many of them added later - had a fairly deep mean streak when it came down to those were not of his people.
oh yes, scripture is another story. I should have been clearer. Often when Christiand, Jews and Muslims speak about God, that God is perfect, loving, etc. all in superlatives. Their religious texts say something else. Of course they will justify their deities when this is brought up. Some are a bit more honest and are God fearing, and see God as a kind of, well, fascist strict father. But other religions do not necessarily have the same kind of problem of evil to solve.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Eduk » October 25th, 2018, 3:16 am

Greta. Out of interest. If there were no religions could you still be an atheist? Or to put it another way can you be a theist without being in a religion.
Also do you see a difference between me not believing that you have a red car and me believing that you don't have a red car?
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Greta » October 25th, 2018, 5:39 pm

Eduk wrote:
October 25th, 2018, 3:16 am
Greta. Out of interest. If there were no religions could you still be an atheist? Or to put it another way can you be a theist without being in a religion.
Also do you see a difference between me not believing that you have a red car and me believing that you don't have a red car?
Before religion, people routinely believed in gods. Belief and disbelief don't need religion.

I see no difference in the positions you describe, the former is passive and the latter active. In each instance you believe I don't have a red car. IN truth, I have had the same old blue 1999 Corolla for about a decade.

Can you see the difference between theism and agnosticism? You seem to treat the positions identically. Can you imagine being open to all manner of (non anthropomorphic) possibilities in reality but without having a need to believe any of it?

Personally, have two major speculative hypotheses that I see as plausible, one that supports theism and one that supports atheism. I am also wary of the weirdness of time, relativities, scale and perspective effects and the possibility of strange dimensions. Put all that together and agnosticism makes most sense to me. However, in terms of the thread, I suspect that the human tendency towards apophenia is so deeply innate that they will inevitably anthropomorphise large natural events without education, thus creating gods.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Eduk » October 26th, 2018, 3:36 am

But Greta before you told me you had a blue car I didn't know if you had a red car or not. So logically I didn't believe that you did have a red car but at the same time I didn't believe that you didn't.
I don't see agnosticism and theism as the same. I think the key point though, for me, is what exactly are you agnostic towards. Thus far I have heard no conceptions of God which I am agnostic towards. Many, you agree, are absolutely clearly false. All we really disagree upon is where to put the other conceptions. The problem is that you believe you don't have enough information to go on but I believe we do. As in there is zero evidence for any, thus far, conceptualised God. This leaves random chance. For example it is impossible for a monkey to write Shakespeare. Even if a monkey through astronomical chance did write Shakespeare they wouldn't have conceptualised this so they still aren't really writing Shakespeare.
I believe I am open to all kinds of possibilities.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Greta » October 26th, 2018, 4:36 am

I think there's too many gaps for confidence, Eduk. We are intrinsically so limited that I'm sceptical about all ultimate existential musings. I keep wondering if people (or whatever) 10,000 or 100,000 years hence would see us as having enough information with which to make an informed decision.

Yes, I've been deliberately vague with definitions because I think we are speaking of a scale and scope that human brains may not be physically capable of grasping. So I find it possible that some godlike entity (or angle) that had never occurred to me may exist. Or not. We know so little. We understand dribs and drabs but have not yet gleaned a cohesive story of reality, especially given the emergence of life and its potentials; very hard to call.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Eduk » October 26th, 2018, 4:53 am

So I find it possible that some godlike entity (or angle) that had never occurred to me may exist.
I feel like we 99% agree :) I'm just hesitant to call such a thing God. Certainly it wouldn't be any of the known Gods.
Unknown means unknown.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Greta » October 26th, 2018, 4:23 pm

Eduk wrote:
October 26th, 2018, 4:53 am
So I find it possible that some godlike entity (or angle) that had never occurred to me may exist.
I feel like we 99% agree :) I'm just hesitant to call such a thing God. Certainly it wouldn't be any of the known Gods.
Yes. We are both fairly rational agents accessing much the same information. I can relate to your reticence to use a term that's so ambiguous and semantically loaded.

In relation to the thread, it seems to me that we are "born to" believe whatever we are told, full stop, be it about gods, cultural feuds, how to best run a society etc. If humans were inclined to be sceptical rather than believers, then we'd lose at least some of the power of cultural transmission that's been so influential in our rise.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Karpel Tunnel » October 27th, 2018, 5:01 am

Greta wrote:
October 26th, 2018, 4:23 pm
In relation to the thread, it seems to me that we are "born to" believe whatever we are told, full stop, be it about gods, cultural feuds, how to best run a society etc.
The etc being of course a mixed bag, but a mixed bag we are generally much better off with than if we got nothing. Which you make clear below.

If humans were inclined to be sceptical rather than believers, then we'd lose at least some of the power of cultural transmission that's been so influential in our rise.
We also are born with a tendency to anthropomorphize or subjectivize 'things'. This may also have many advantages (and perhaps disadvantages). It might be a good basic heuristic. To put it in context: in the scientific community it would actually damage your carreer up through the 60s if in professional contexts you referred to the motivations, emotions, intentions, etc. of animals. This was considered unfounded at best. IOW science worked from a default of not conscious, not an experiencer, when dealing with phenomena, even those where this is a very strange default, and one ignored by laypeople all over the place, including scientist pet owners,for example, on their own time. Now the cutting edge is whether plants are conscious,w ith evidence of nervous system like phenomena in plants, complicated communication, tactics and more being verified. Where the personification line should be drawn is still a question. Or, better put, the conscious entity line...

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Greta » October 27th, 2018, 6:40 pm

Karpel Tunnel wrote:
October 27th, 2018, 5:01 am
We also are born with a tendency to anthropomorphize or subjectivize 'things'. This may also have many advantages (and perhaps disadvantages). It might be a good basic heuristic.
Yes, it was more helpful to survival to falsely see faces in random patterns than to miss seeing a face in hiding. The consequences of error would have been far less.
Karpel Tunnel wrote: To put it in context: in the scientific community it would actually damage your carreer up through the 60s if in professional contexts you referred to the motivations, emotions, intentions, etc. of animals. This was considered unfounded at best. IOW science worked from a default of not conscious, not an experiencer, when dealing with phenomena, even those where this is a very strange default, and one ignored by laypeople all over the place, including scientist pet owners,for example, on their own time. Now the cutting edge is whether plants are conscious,with evidence of nervous system like phenomena in plants, complicated communication, tactics and more being verified. Where the personification line should be drawn is still a question. Or, better put, the conscious entity line...
Science must always be conservative for the sake of reliability, the provide a dependable baseline on which other disciplines can operate with confidence. Unfortunately, when it comes to both life and consciousness, that means assuming nothing is happening unless it's proved. Intellectual conservatism in this instance has lead to accidental moral depravity in the unconscionable treatment of sentient, feeling animals.

If plants are found to feel pain then we will know for sure that reality is brutal (at least in this "biological phase"), with life being dependent on constant exchanges of bliss and agony, and without exceptions.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Jklint » October 28th, 2018, 1:57 am

God is more a matter of education, if one wishes to call it that, or outright brainwashing than instinct which, if a god were never mentioned, would unlikely have been given any credence to begin with and never have been transcribed into "stories". At best, any logic for god's existence would simply be interpreted in a Deistic kind of way as a total separation devoid of any human correspondence. In that respect the difference between deist and atheist is only a cold formality to which no narrative or metaphor is applicable.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Greta » October 28th, 2018, 3:19 am

Are you referring to God or gods in general? Human societies all over the world have developed deities so primitive and ancient peoples clearly assumed some level of agency in the large forces that profoundly impacted on their lives. What else would they think without physics knowledge?

The monotheist models, God and Allah, are a logical, and I think inevitable, gathering up of those minor deities - gods of wine, marriage, the sea, of love, into one supervisory god. There would have surely been much "my god is bigger than your god" huffery puffery going on between warring Middle eastern tribes so it's not surprising that someone would posit of god of everything.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Jklint » October 28th, 2018, 4:39 pm

I was referring to God as a singularity not a multiplicity where gods are mostly depicted as nature metaphors including those of human archetypal attributes. Polytheism incorporates a very different psychology from its monotheistic distant cousin.

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Re: Are we all born an Atheist?

Post by Greta » October 28th, 2018, 5:09 pm

Okay, that's an important distinction that I don't make. I rather think of deities as the non-scientific description of functional entities or dynamics in nature being hierarchically nested like Russian dolls, reflective of the knowledge at the time (so a god of the Earth would have only been one step below the god of the universe since they didn't know about stars, planets, galaxies, galactic clusters etc).

As with any other cultural model, religions evolve, which means that God evolved, and its ancestor was Yahweh, the god of Israel and Judah: https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/th ... of-judaism
Pre-Mosaic Stage (1950-1300 BCE)
Little or nothing can be known for certain about the nature of Hebrew worship before the migration from Egypt. In Hebrew history, Abraham is already worshipping a figure called "Elohim," which is the plural for "lord." This figure is also called "El Shaddai" ("God the Mountaineer (?)," translated as "God Almighty"), and a couple other variants.

The name of God, Yahweh, isn't learned by the Hebrews until Moses hears the name spoken by God on Mount Sinai. This god requires animal sacrifices and regular expiation. He intrudes on human life with astonishing suddenness, and often demands absurd acts from humans. The proper human relationship to this god is obedience, and the early history of humanity is a history of humans oscillating between obedience to this god and autonomy.

This god is anthropomorphic: he has human qualities. He is frequently angered and seems to have some sort of human body. In addition, the god worshipped by Abraham and his descendants is the creator god, that is, the god solely responsible for the creation of the universe. The god of Genesis is bisexual: he/she is often referred to in female as well as male terms. For instance, this god is represented frequently as "mothering" or "giving birth through labor pains" to the world and humans (these passages are universally mistranslated in English as "fathering"—this god is only referred to as a "father" twice in Genesis ).

In Genesis , Elohim or El Shaddai functions as a primitive law-giver; after the Flood, this god gives to Noah those primitive laws which apply to all human beings, the so-called Noahide Laws. Nothing of the sophistication and comprehensive of the Mosaic laws is evident in the early history of the human relationship to Yahweh as outlined in Genesis .

Scholars have wracked their brains trying to figure out what conclusions might be drawn about this human history. In general, they believe that the portrait of Hebrew religion in Genesis is an inaccurate one. They conclude instead that Hebrew monolatry and monotheism began with the Yahweh cult introduced, according to Exodus, in the migration from Egypt between 1300 and 1200 BC. The text of Genesis in their view is an attempt to legitimate the occupation of Palestine by asserting a covenantal relationship between Yahweh and the Hebrews that had been established far in the distant past.

All these conclusions are brilliant but tentative, for we'll never know for sure much of anything substantial about Hebrew history and religion during the age of the patriarchs or the sojourn in Egypt. Nevertheless, scholars draw on the text of Genesis to conclude the following controversial ideas about early Hebrew religion:

— Early Hebrew religion was polytheistic; the curious plural form of the name of God, Elohim rather than El, leads them to believe that the original Hebrew religion involved several gods. This plural form, however, can be explained as a "royal" plural. Several other aspects of the account of Hebrew religion in Genesis also imply a polytheistic faith.

— The earliest Hebrew religion was animistic, that is, the Hebrews seemed worship forces of nature that dwelled in natural objects.

— As a result, much of early Hebrew religion had a number of practices that fall into the category of magic: scapegoat sacrifice and various forms of imitative magic, all of which are preserved in the text of Genesis .

— Early Hebrew religion eventually became anthropomorphic, that is, god or the gods took human forms; in later Hebrew religion, Yahweh becomes a figure that transcends the human and material worlds. Individual tribes probably worshipped different gods; there is no evidence in Genesis that anything like a national God existed in the time of the patriarchs.

The most profound revolution in Hebrew thought, though, occurred in the migration from Egypt, and its great innovator was Moses. In the epic events surrounding the flight from Egypt and the settling of the promised land, Hebrew religion became permanently and irrevocably, the Mosaic religion.
It would seem a logical extension to bundle up all the lesser gods and create a god that bested all others. Middle Eastern cultures were, and are, arguably the most warlike on the planet with intense local rivalries and hostilities. Thus, if one group claims to be represented by a deity that rules everything and another group only has relatively minor deities, it's hard to imagine the latter finding the situation tolerable. It would seem logical in that time and place to bundle up the old gods into one that could match the overarching gods of their rivals.

In essence, a game of "My Dad could beat your Dad".

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