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Ask Me Anything 2.0!

Debater Slayer

Vipassana
Staff member
Premium Member
Time for another one of these! (Thanks to @Harel13 for the inspiration.)

An intro to get the ball rolling:

• I'm an atheist, but I'm not anti-religious or anti-theistic. I was a fan of "New Atheism" until a few years ago. Nowadays I far prefer to focus on humane, reasonable values instead of someone's religion or lack thereof.

• I'm a Marxist of the socialist variety, but I support private ownership under sound regulation. I strongly oppose ill-regulated capitalism as well as draconian variants of socialism and communism such as Stalinism and Maoism.

• I support gender equality, LGBT rights, and reproductive rights. I identify as a feminist and believe that label encompasses my positions on these three subjects.

• I'm a regular practitioner of meditation, especially mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation. I'm not a Buddhist, but I see immense value in some of its teachings. I also respect Stoicism and recognize the influence of both it and Buddhism on modern psychology and approaches to therapy.

• I don't believe in free will. Along with my meditation practice and Marxist/dialectically materialist worldview, this has had a significant effect on my emotional responses, most notably when it comes to anger and regret. I also don't experience any anxiety, but that has been the case years before I even arrived at my current beliefs. Where many would feel anxious, I usually just spontaneously either feel numb or hyper-focused on finding a solution to the urgent problem.

• I adore cats and wish I weren't allergic to them. Interacting with one never fails to make my day better.

• I was conscripted despite being medically unfit for several reasons, but I was released on medical grounds a few months later. The experience has considerably changed my worldview and approach to life in general.

Well, that covers quite a bit! Feel free to ask me anything.
 

JustGeorge

Out of Order
Staff member
Premium Member
If you were stuck with only three meals for life(meaning, you had to pick just three dishes/meals, but could rotate them as you liked), what would they be?

(Supposing your nutritional needs will still be met, and any lacks or excesses will naturally correct...)
 

Debater Slayer

Vipassana
Staff member
Premium Member
Where/how did you learn English?

My mom homeschooled me until eighth grade, and she taught me the alphabet along with the basics of grammar (e.g., the basic tenses and their usage). She also taught me how to use the dictionary when I was 10-11 years old because I was always complaining about not understanding video games and asking my older brother to translate content from them for me.

Around 90%-95% of my English is self-taught thanks to the above foundations. I've learned it from movies, games, music, dictionaries, style guides, forums, and chat rooms. Using the dictionary has become a deeply ingrained habit of mine since then.
 

Harel13

Am Yisrael Chai
Staff member
Premium Member
My mom homeschooled me until eighth grade, and she taught me the alphabet along with the basics of grammar (e.g., the basic tenses and their usage). She also taught me how to use the dictionary when I was 10-11 years old because I was always complaining about not understanding video games and asking my older brother to translate content from them for me.
Does she have some background in English?
 

Debater Slayer

Vipassana
Staff member
Premium Member
If you were stuck with only three meals for life(meaning, you had to pick just three dishes/meals, but could rotate them as you liked), what would they be?

(Supposing your nutritional needs will still be met, and any lacks or excesses will naturally correct...)

Tough question, since I like both savory and sweet food! But the prime candidates would probably be barbecued chicken, beef steak (or lamb chops), and boiled, curried, or grilled shrimp.
 

Rachel Rugelach

Shalom, y'all.
Staff member
• I'm an atheist, but I'm not anti-religious or anti-theistic. I was a fan of "New Atheism" until a few years ago. Nowadays I far prefer to focus on humane, reasonable values instead of someone's religion or lack thereof.

@Debater Slayer, what changed you from being an anti-theist to being an atheist? Was it due to a single event you experienced, or a series of events and interactions with theists who share your values of treating others humanely?
 

Exaltist Ethan

Bridging the Gap Between Believers and Skeptics
I have the cure to cat allergies, but in order to get it, you have to be a Trumpist Christo-fascist. Do you agree to become that if I give you a cure to your cat allergy? :p
 

Wildswanderer

Veteran Member
Time for another one of these! (Thanks to @Harel13 for the inspiration.)

An intro to get the ball rolling:

• I'm an atheist, but I'm not anti-religious or anti-theistic. I was a fan of "New Atheism" until a few years ago. Nowadays I far prefer to focus on humane, reasonable values instead of someone's religion or lack thereof.

• I'm a Marxist of the socialist variety, but I support private ownership under sound regulation. I strongly oppose ill-regulated capitalism as well as draconian variants of socialism and communism such as Stalinism and Maoism.

• I support gender equality, LGBT rights, and reproductive rights. I identify as a feminist and believe that label encompasses my positions on these three subjects.

• I'm a regular practitioner of meditation, especially mindfulness and loving-kindness meditation. I'm not a Buddhist, but I see immense value in some of its teachings. I also respect Stoicism and recognize the influence of both it and Buddhism on modern psychology and approaches to therapy.

• I don't believe in free will. Along with my meditation practice and Marxist/dialectically materialist worldview, this has had a significant effect on my emotional responses, most notably when it comes to anger and regret. I also don't experience any anxiety, but that has been the case years before I even arrived at my current beliefs. Where many would feel anxious, I usually just spontaneously either feel numb or hyper-focused on finding a solution to the urgent problem.

• I adore cats and wish I weren't allergic to them. Interacting with one never fails to make my day better.

• I was conscripted despite being medically unfit for several reasons, but I was released on medical grounds a few months later. The experience has considerably changed my worldview and approach to life in general.

Well, that covers quite a bit! Feel free to ask me anything.
What is the purpose of existence in a godless universe?
 

Alien826

No religious beliefs
Can you expand on not believing in free will? My own position is that it can be argued that everything is determined, but we still make decisions, so it seems like free will.
 

Debater Slayer

Vipassana
Staff member
Premium Member
• I'm an atheist, but I'm not anti-religious or anti-theistic. I was a fan of "New Atheism" until a few years ago. Nowadays I far prefer to focus on humane, reasonable values instead of someone's religion or lack thereof.

@Debater Slayer, what changed you from being an anti-theist to being an atheist? Was it due to a single event you experienced, or a series of events and interactions with theists who share your values of treating others humanely?

I wasn't nearly so much of an anti-theist as anti-religious. The change wasn't due to a single event; it was due to multiple things:

• As you mentioned, interacting with theists who shared my values had a lot to do with it. Around that time, many of the atheist YouTubers, public thinkers, and regular individuals I followed espoused politics that I found harmful and tribalistic.

Sam Harris asserted that "Western culture" was "more creative" than "Eastern culture," for example, and he used overgeneralized points and poor history to make his argument. He even had a lengthy post arguing that a nuclear first strike could conceivably be justified against a fundamentalist Muslim country because, supposedly, their religious beliefs would make them a threat who didn't care about their own safety for the sake of martyrdom.

Furthermore, Christopher Hitchens supported the invasion of Iraq, and Richard Dawkins argued, contrary to scientific consensus, that eugenics would work in humans. The list goes on. A lot of the "skeptic community" on YouTube has devolved into toxic identity politics, promotion of misunderstanding, historical inaccuracies, and even support for military aggression in some cases. In their continued demonization of the trees, they missed the entire forest and ended up becoming more similar to religious fundamentalists—whom they always rail against—than they think.

What I ended up concluding from all of this, along with hatred and toxicity in some atheist communities I tried joining, was that ideological labels and belief in a god or religion weren't nearly as important as humane values and proper treatment of others.

• My belief in dialectical materialism and lack of belief in free will also weigh into my position. The idea that everyone who follows a religion or believes in a god must be "irrational" or "superstitious" is at odds with what we know about the psychological influences of upbringing, culture, and personal experiences. People don't choose what convinces them, and "reason" is only a minor factor in what shapes our worldview if we zoom out and look at the diversity of belief worldwide.

The abovementioned factors make it both selective and arbitrary to point at one example of belief that one considers irrational—in this case, religion—and argue that rejection thereof would somehow lead humanity on a trajectory of enlightenment and progress. That's too simplistic, not to mention dismissive of the various cultural, scientific, and philosophical contributions that religions have produced throughout history.

• My experience of being in the military is where dialectical materialism comes in more noticeably. I met some of the most helpful people I had ever interacted with in there, and they came from all walks of life. One of them was a working-class guy who couldn't read or write. He told me that his dream was to learn how to do so. He was also quite religious and conservative.

Could we reasonably look at someone like him and call him "irrational" or "superstitious" instead of talking about the material conditions that shaped his views, such as education, economic status, and social circles? And even if we did, how accurate would the resultant picture be? Not very accurate, I'd say, even if it made some people feel better about being "rational" or "enlightened" because they're not like those other people that they keep putting down whether directly or indirectly.

So, in a nutshell, it was a combination of interacting with more people both among the anti-religious and progressive religious camps as well as reading more about Marxism and finding it very convincing due to its emphasis on how our circumstances shape us far more often than any inherent differences among different people. Many "rationalists" would themselves be religious fundamentalists under a different set of economic, academic, and cultural circumstances.
 
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Debater Slayer

Vipassana
Staff member
Premium Member
Can you expand on not believing in free will? My own position is that it can be argued that everything is determined, but we still make decisions, so it seems like free will.

This is a very complex topic that a single post probably won't do justice, but I believe our circumstances and biology shape our desires and what we find intellectually and ethically convincing. Could you or I will ourselves into believing the Earth is flat, for example? There are people who believe that, and they find the conspiracy theories about NASA and satellite imagery convincing. Could they will themselves out of their conviction any more than you or I could will ourselves into it? I don't think so, and that's one of the many issues I see with the concept of free will.

A quote I came across recently struck me as quite profound yet succinct: "You can do as you wish, but you cannot wish as you wish." I replied to your post because I wanted to, but I couldn't make myself hate this forum at will. Something would have to influence my thinking and emotions in that direction, and since we also don't choose what convinces us, the whole notion of "choice" becomes meaninglessly nebulous at best to me.
 

Exaltist Ethan

Bridging the Gap Between Believers and Skeptics
@Debater Slayer , what do you think of atheist religions and organizations like Religion of Humanity, the Sunday Assembly, Buddhism and various "left-handed" religious organizations? Now that you are not anti-religious, is it possible that you could adopt a secular, but religious worldview such as those?
 
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