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Featured The Psychology of Atheism

Discussion in 'Religious Debates' started by Epic Beard Man, Feb 13, 2019.

  1. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    This is probably tangential, but I have to ask: w
    hat about personal or cultural values? What about feelings? What about desire?

    One of the central narratives of secular humanism fixates on is "reason" in spite of humans being fundamentally emotional creatures driven by values, feelings, and desires. These play a role, whether it is acknowledged or not. So I can't help but to ask ask... where does all that come in? Is it really assimilation of sound information and verifiable evidence that's the key here?

    The answer doesn't really matter - I think the key point to take away is that the stories we tell ourselves about these things are stories whether they are grounded in what we call reason, evidence, feelings, faith, or whatever it is. That's kinda what Augustus is trying to get at, albeit in more words. Everybody has stories they tell themselves about the world and their place in it, though the words used to describe that can vary. Those stories are what make meaning. :D
     
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  2. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Actually, it is what the word means. If more people were aware of this it might increase their ability to see past their own conceits of living a life free of myths.

    mythos (plural mythoi or mythoses)

    1. Anything transmitted by word of mouth, such as a fable, legend, narrative, story, or tale (especially a poetic tale).
    2. story or set of stories relevant to or having a significant truth or meaning for a particular culture, religion, society, or other group;
    3. a myth, a mythology.
    4. assumptions or beliefs about something. literature) A recurring theme; a motif.

    Call it what you like: worldview, narrative, ideology, myth, illusion, fiction or whatever else tickles your fancy, it is the set of narratives by which you create meaning in the world, establish your values and explain how things should be.
     
  3. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    I don't deny that things like "feelings" or "desire" exist, obviously. Once communally defined/identified these things have been sufficiently demonstrated time and time again. We don't each "feel" or "desire" the same things, but with knowledge of that abstract that another person is referencing, we can recognize these things in ourselves. But besides all of that... if people are being honest with themselves, "feelings" are not "true" - it doesn't even make sense to talk about them that way. "Desires" are not "true." And while they aren't quantifiable, they are inter-subjectively known to exist. I can relay my desires to you, and with your understanding of what a "desire" is, you understand that what I am relaying to you exists as a function of my existence. All the evidence you need, as another human being, is in your own acceptance of a "desire" as an abstract aspect of yourself. And get this... I would wholeheartedly expect a person (or any being) incapable of holding desires not to believe me at all when I stated that I had them! However, I could very likely explain the idea to them, and point to my own actions toward the ends of achieving my desires as evidence that I literally wanted to mete out those desires and achieve those ends. In essence, there is still verifiable evidence of feelings and desires occurring and acting upon an individual.

    Not even this much can be said of a "god" and others' insistence that it is real/true however. And so it makes even less sense to talk about the abstract of "god" and equate it with anything nearing "truth."

    And you know what... you are free to say that your god exists as a function of your existence - just as I stated about others' feelings or desires... but in that same way, your feelings are not my feelings, and your feelings are not "true" for me. Just as your god is not "true" for me either. And so your god ends up being exactly like your feelings or your desires. Present and accounted for only for you. Which is denied by theists of a great many persuasions when they insist that their god exists independent of their belief.
     
    #43 A Vestigial Mote, Feb 14, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2019
  4. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    It's not exactly a groundbreaking insight.

    Instead of vigorously facepalming yourself, perhaps you could explain something more important in the history of the human thought than narrative?

    Instead of just making empty statements, perhaps you would also like to explain how we create systems of meaning without narratives?

    Why, for example, should we want to do that? Why should people hold such a value? How would you convince a child that this is what they should strive for?

    Never said anything about 'truth'. The point was that if X is a mythos, and Y is derivative of X, why should we hold that Y is not also a mythos?

    Values are not a form of evidence.

    How do we spread values without narrative?

    I can guarantee that your worldview comprises a far greater range of values than this, and I can guarantee that you didn't arrive at them all by 'examination of the evidence'.

    Even the most 'rational' of worldviews requires a foundation of subjective axioms upon which to build its ideological tenets.
     
  5. ratiocinator

    ratiocinator Strange Loop

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    Actually not, in the normal, everyday sense of myth (see myth):

    1 A traditional story, especially one concerning the early history of a people or explaining a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involving supernatural beings or events.
    ‘ancient Celtic myths’

    2 A widely held but false belief or idea.​

    You are playing with words in order to create a false equivalence. There is no comparison between believing in the objective reality of a god or gods without evidence, and adopting personal or collective values and being perfectly aware that they aren't objective.
     
  6. Shadow Wolf

    Shadow Wolf Crazy Diamond

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    In my experience, I've been the odd one out in the field for being neutral and apathetic towards religion. Individual locations may vary, but the evidence-based practice I worked for in Indiana had a lot of Christian-based ideas floating around. And, as a field, psychology seems to promote gains for an individual in belonging to a religion but has been very slow to acknowledge the trauma that religion can inflict.
    And yet, according to psychology research, their are social detriments for being an atheist, such as decreased quality of care received from health care providers. And we don't need a study to show us atheists are demonized for being atheists, up to having their sense of morality questioned and denied by others.
     
  7. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    Doesn't sound so different from my story, apart from the conclusion you drew.
    Not all atheists dismiss myths, and some...ahem...even study them for fun or their inherited wisdom.
     
  8. lewisnotmiller

    lewisnotmiller Grand Hat
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    I think you'll probably find that, even psychologically speaking, there are ranging experiences and reasons people have become atheists.
    Your OP speaks of a cultural environment where atheism was the norm, but that is far from common for most of us.
     
  9. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    Much more important, in my estimation (see how I added this qualifier? How novel! Maybe try it some time.), are the vastly more fundamental aspects of thought. Perhaps our capability to reason in the first place? End result... I wouldn't like to be caught pretending that I know the most important aspect of human thought. Who in their right mind would?

    My statement was to point out how empty your statement was - or did you not catch that? But sure, I'll take a crack at it. Again... I wouldn't claim to know this for certain, but using my capability to reason, I would posit that we create "systems of meaning" (I only sort of grasp what this nebulous term means, so bear with me), by examining ourselves, our collective desires and "best of" arguments for the ways to most productively and happily conduct ourselves with respect to us as individuals and collectively as a group, and then among all the options we pluck out what we feel are the things that most clearly support us in our survival and garner a modicum of "happiness" along the way. We don't necessarily need a story to do this - and even less do we need to pretend such a story is reality. Sure, we may tell stories as a method of relaying information of an abstract nature... but of what use is claiming they are more than that on top of formulating and relaying the story?

    So that they don't commit themselves to making the same mistakes of the past. I would have thought this obvious. Every person tricked by a charlatan who tells them a story that isn't backed by evidence, should use this as an opportunity to wise up, and make sure their standards are set higher - for themselves as well as their children. I highly doubt there is anyone here who would praise the idea of teaching children anything and everything, regardless how well grounded in reality it is. Why accept that as a general premise, and yet make an exception for religious beliefs? There are real things to be lost here. In the case of simple religious adherence, the loss is potentially time, possibly monetary, possibly loss in peace of mind, possibly a loss of family members. I've seen all of these and more that can be blamed directly on religious adherence. And yes, the same thing could be said for ardent political stances, for which there may also be less than sufficient evidence or reasoning having gone into it... but I would admonish against adopting that sort of stance as well, and for the same reasons.

    Being conditionally influenced by, and being "a derivative of" are 2 separate things. If "Y" is deemed better now than "X" for verifiable, rational reasons, then it should hold that "Y" was always better than "X", even if "X" was first and helped shape our ideas of "Y".


    Do you seriously give no weight to a process by which we weigh values against one another to choose which are the best versus the worst? Are not discussions about various moral or ethical considerations representative of exactly that process? Do we relay anecdotes and analogies as part of that process? Sure. But do we also not use quantifiable data, past reliability and future predictability also? Of course we do. You sit there and ask how we could possibly spread values without narrative... and yet we do it all the time. Narrative is only one form, and can only be labeled "best" as a matter of opinion. And no, values themselves are not evidence of anything except the fact that the people who hold them chose those values through whatever process they used. But you had better bet on the idea that there was a process behind it. And it didn't only involve telling stories of make believe.

    And I guarantee you that I did. Even anecdotes and analogies are forms of evidence. Granted, not nearly the best ones in my estimation, and those that involve abstracts like feeling and desire that do not have a direct correlation to my own experiences with the same, and have no physical presence to speak of are easily discarded - or should be. Set aside with a note to check up on whether or not there is something better to gauge the claim with at a later date. And until then, ignore it or seek the answers out yourself - but until you know, you don't know.

    I agree with this. However, those axioms of a non-supernatural nature, while abstract to the extreme, are still a shared attribute of our experienced reality between those who accept them in a way that religions simply cannot claim to wield.
     
  10. MJ Bailey

    MJ Bailey Member

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    Interesting concept, but do not completely agree. Atheist in which I have personally known more than one, can at times have a higher appreciation to other people's life for one point. On the second point in my personal beliefs are, an Omnipotent being is not gender referenced, species referenced, or objectified (per-say).etc... As far as area specific of any given Religion, I see most have both good and bad qualities, therefore I choose not to choose one in particular. (not to say this view may not change some day). I have had extreme personal experiences in which I was given proof that there is a much greater existence than us, yet lack any tangible evidence.
     
  11. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    Well it’s not that irrational if the man did research behind his beliefs. It’s irrational to you because you believe that is not how YOU came up with the conclusion.
     
  12. Revoltingest

    Revoltingest Greased up & ready for action!
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    One might research how many angels can dance on the head
    of a pin, & arrive at a quantified belief. But it's still irrational.
    One's premises matter.
     
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  13. Augustus

    Augustus the Unreasonable

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    Nothing worse than pointless pedantry combined with being wrong.

    "Common everyday" usage is not the only correct usage. This is commonly true with academic or scientific language for example.

    Using words with accepted meanings is not 'playing with words', and it is vacuous to suggest it is.

    As for 'false equivalence', it's you who is doing the comparing. I just said we all rely on myths/illusions/narratives/ideologies/ or whatever you want to call them.

    You are free to think your mythos is superior to other people's for whatever reason you like if that's what floats your boat.
     
  14. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    I really do not understand this at all. Maybe you are using the word "true" in some narrow sense of what that word means. As this reads to me, it sounds like you are saying all of our desires or feelings are disingenuous lies, or false. I cannot process that. There no sense in such a perspective to me at all, especially given its implications.



    Note there is great diversity of theism and what various cultures deify. Remember you're talking to someone whose gods are literally the ground you are walking on, the air you are breathing, the feelings you experience, and the behaviors you engage in. It kinda makes this point fall flat or read as nonsensical, especially on someone like me, as does the paragraph you wrote below this one. :sweat:

    But how did we get on this tangent? All I was talking about is that everyone has their stories. Don't care if you call yourself a theist, atheist, potato pancake, or whatever - you've got stories.
     
  15. Quintessence

    Quintessence Tale Weaver
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    Also, I'm just going to innocuously post this here for no apparent reason... *cough*

    "Now, pulling out a dictionary might seem like an innocuous act, but frequently it isn’t. Often the motivation behind the turn to the dictionary is not a desire for greater understanding, but a desire for control. Dictionary worshipers do not want to understand how others use words; rather, they want to control how others use words."
    The Dictionary Is Not A Holy Book
     
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  16. ratiocinator

    ratiocinator Strange Loop

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    Common everyday usage is what you can expect people to understand if you don't further qualify what you say.

    What you originally said was about illusions:

    Now you've backed away into "mythos" and the bizarre "myths/illusions/narratives/ideologies" - which are not interchangeable terms; an ideology is not an illusion.
     
  17. Epic Beard Man

    Epic Beard Man Bearded Philosopher

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    Yes religion is partially taken from culture but of course there are outliers. Sometimes religion comes to the irreligious from a positive experience. A lot of times atheism comes from negative experiences. Beliefs and philosophies are not always cut and dry
     
  18. TagliatelliMonster

    TagliatelliMonster Well-Known Member

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    Atheism is not a belief, much less a belief that is in need of proof or evidence.

    Theism is the belief.
    Atheist is what you default to if you are not a theist.



    Anyhow, sure: coming to a conclusion about anything is the result of a reasoning process.

    What he is saying is that the process to arrive at the atheist position, isn't complicated.
    It's just looking at the theistic claims, looking at the evidence (which doesn't exist) and then concluding that the claims aren't supported - or even supportable.


    How many seconds of thought will you need to reject the claim that an undetectable interdimensional 7-headed dragon is standing behind you RIGHT NOW, read to eat you up any second?

    I bet you rejected that claim even before you got to "...is standing being you".
     
  19. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    I could research a topic like "ghosts" all I wanted, but at the end of the day, an inability (of myself and everyone else) to demonstrate ANY of the so-called "facts" I/we have learned about ghosts definitively kills the endeavor. It's over. Done. Finito. I may as well be spouting fiction.
     
  20. A Vestigial Mote

    A Vestigial Mote Well-Known Member

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    What I am saying is that neither the words "true" or "false" apply to feelings or desires. They simply "are." Just try and tell me what makes your feeling "true." Because you feel it? It is therefore "true" in some objective sense? Of course not. It is for you, and you alone to process and "feel." It's there, and can be acknowledged, but there is no "truth" or "falsehood" to be relayed in its existence. It would be like saying that the shape of a rock is "true" or that it is "false" - those terms do not apply to the shape of a rock. The shape is what it is.


    And stories aren't necessarily "true."
     
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