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Thread: Ask an Atheďst

  1. #31
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    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    How do you account for the many supernatural experiences that people have, such as encounters with god(s), ghosts, spirits, etc.?
    some are the following:
    delusions
    drugs
    fear
    boredom
    imagination
    lies
    reasons for why when we can't explain things
    scapegoat

    you know, the usual human emotions
    Satan is my spirit animal

  2. #32
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    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    [quote author=Madness link=topic=384.msg15514#msg15514 date=1290312887] Why does humanity seem to have an innate desire and need to worship something, or someone? Why is there such a universal religious sense within humanity? [/quote]

    Go to a concert, a sports stadium, or watch nationalists shout praises to their country. There is a parallel to the worship of the divine. When you see something as so great, maybe even greater than yourself, you can become quite devout. Also, we're pack animals that tend to be organized hierarchical, God just fills in the role of "leader of the tribe". (or nation, clan, kingdom, etc...).
    I was Hadad2008 when I joined Feb 2008.
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  3. #33

    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    [quote author=Sitnamorcen link=topic=384.msg9092#msg9092 date=1288671898]
    To say it in a kind of crude manner: I believe that the concept of a soul is one created out of the idea that our bodies are but a "container" and that whatever is inside it goes/does somewhere/something notable when we die.
    I think that whatever "energy" in our brain that could presumably be the "soul" in question, withers away into the ground like one's body decays after death.
    And as to the idea that that "soul" and body are seperate or seperable, I do not think so.
    [/quote]

    This response is just for friendly debate.

    It is scientifically quantifiable that humans (I'm excluding other forms of life for the moment) run on electromagnetic energy, along with other forms of mechanical energy. If we can look at all forms of energy (including dark energy), and accept that there are forces (intelligent or not) that are still as yet undiscovered, then could you accept the possibility that what gives humans their sentience is a form of energy that is undiscovered? And if that energy/energies is what can be identified as what we call a "soul" or our human sentience, you must come to accept the law of physics that states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Also, since energy is not organic, it cannot simply wither and decay.

    What happens to the energy that powered our body/brain/sentience once we die? I think that is a more potent question in terms of stepping up scientific inquiry.

    Oh, I have a little interesting Discovery-esque tidbit I found recently that actually kind of puts a whole "Space Odyssey" spin on this whole "existence" thing. Astrophysics has taken the turn for the mind blowing in terms of the actual beginning of the universe. Ever hear the theory that the Big Bang was actually the impact of two flat, atom-thin separate universes drawn together every few billion eons or so? Yeah, they then expand outward until there is nothing left. And yes, there has been physical evidence to support the development of this theory. Cool idea huh?

    And there are dozens more universe theories just as viable. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, humanity. ;D
    It is possible to believe in something and fail to live up to it. -Dr. Wilson (House Md)

  4. #34
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    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    [quote author=Honeysuckle137 link=topic=384.msg21201#msg21201 date=1291937135]
    This response is just for friendly debate.
    [/quote]

    Of course it is! :P Welcome to PF!

    [quote author=Honeysuckle137 link=topic=384.msg21201#msg21201 date=1291937135]
    including dark energy
    [/quote]

    Care to elaborate? What do you mean with "dark energy" and how is it different from the low amount of electricity (chemically created) in our nerves and brains?

    [quote author=Honeysuckle137 link=topic=384.msg21201#msg21201 date=1291937135]
    then could you accept the possibility that what gives humans their sentience is a form of energy that is undiscovered?
    [/quote]

    Not everything is really known about the specific workings of our brains and such research is, I presume, in progress.
    However, to speak of an undiscovered form of energy responsible for our sentience is purely hypothetical until discovered.

    [quote author=Honeysuckle137 link=topic=384.msg21201#msg21201 date=1291937135]
    And if that energy/energies is what can be identified as what we call a "soul" or our human sentience, you must come to accept the law of physics that states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Also, since energy is not organic, it cannot simply wither and decay.

    What happens to the energy that powered our body/brain/sentience once we die? I think that is a more potent question in terms of stepping up scientific inquiry.
    [/quote]

    The "withering and dying" part in my post was somewhat meant metaphorically.
    Well the energy or chemical electricity in our bodies is created by food.
    (cell membranes, potassium in, sodium out... ugh I really don't want to explain all that right now)
    When we die, we stop making it, but the remaining energy is still there.
    It happens sometimes that a dead body slightly twitches some time after the cessation of heart functioning, which I presume is the remaining energy in question.
    Anyway, the remaining energy is either transferred into heat or grounded if I'm not mistaken.

    But, not meaning to discourage those that believe in a soul, you could always argue that the soul is not material and bla bla bla...
    And now I will express a quote in mime...

  5. #35
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    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    Hello everyone. I'm new to the board (was a member of the old a long time ago but go very inactive before it fell).

    I thought this would be a nice thread to get started with! I hope the OP doesn't mind if I throw in some of my opinions as an Atheist.

    Okay, here goes...

    The question of looking at the world and feeling awe...
    -Religion does not have a corner on this market. All human beings, the faithful and the agnostic, can have feelings best described as numinous. I can look at the beautiful moutains I live in or the starry night sky and feel a sense of immense awe or wonder. This does not, however, lead me to put an agency behind it, not even a pantheistic one. The universe is amazing, yes. The natural world is sometimes quite beautiful, yes. I can enjoy these feelings without labeling them "divine." The fact that they (these feelings) are just brain chemistry does not devalue them in the least for me.


    The question of Atheist organizations...
    -I Think they are very important in a legal sense. Here in the U.S. religion is unabashedly sticking its nose into government. Organizations like the Freedom From Religion Foundation (the Atheist organization I support the most) fights for civil rights and the Constitution. Some may come as a brash or harsh but I think this is unfair. Religious organizations and churches/mosques/etc. get away with the most cruel and wicked kind of rhetoric because they are cloaked in the garment of faith. I think that most Atheist organizations are actually mild but they get taken as harsh because they are speaking out against something that is so "sacred" to so many people. Even nice Atheists are almost always labelled "militiant" even if they say the smallest critique of religious faith. It's something that irritates me a lot.

    The question of the "soul" and the mind/body duality...
    -This is really a question about hard consciousness. I agree that hard consciousness is complicated and amazing and a field we still know little about, but that doesn't mean it should be relegated to the world of the supernatural. There are a group of scientists and philosophers who believe that consciousness is an enigma that cannot be solved by the human intellect (i.e. by the brain) because it is simply impossible. Many of these people are called “new mysterions.” The philosopher of science Daniel Dennett is very opposed to these people and I agree with him. There is a mystery only in the sense that we have not figured it out yet, not because it is some ineffable and impossible enigma. The “soul” is, yes, brain chemistry and neurology. That is my belief after having looked into it for a good long time. There is nothing outside the flesh that constitutes “the mind.” When we speak of the mind we are speaking of the brain. Period. There is nothing beyond the chemicals and organs of thought that make thought. This does not bother me in the least. Art is still amazing, poetry still moving, theatre still inspiring. Just because we understand the chemicals and synaptic firings that inspire these does not make it base or ugly, in my opinion. The subjective experience we still have is beautiful even if it has an objective, explainable basis behind it.

    The question of how to explain the many experiences people have that lead them to believe in a God or a spiritual force in the universe and to the reason why we have a pull in our minds to believe in these things or at least to want to believe in them...
    -This is one that might make me seem harsh, but I honestly believe all experiences of the supernatural are simple delusions or effects created by the human brain. Meditation does relax you. Sitting in a cave fasting and praying will lead to interesting experiences. This is because the brain is an amazing machine that can sometimes, fool us. We think we can hear our conscience, we think we can see angels. It’s all in the head, basically. There are lots of reasons why our brain would do this to us. Think of human evolution in its early forms. If you were out in the wilds hunting and you heard a growl or saw something bizarre in the forest it would benefit you to run or feel a sense of fear. The fact is it is a conditioned, evolved response so as to help in survival. This evolved trait, I believe, leads us to still have fears of the dark and fears of the intimidating. We extrapolate these fears into mythologies and beings outside of the natural world. Also, I think one of the reasons religious belief in any strain continues is because we are the only animals that are constantly conscious of our own impending deaths. This makes religious belief a comfortable panacea to dread and paranoia. Also, as to the idea of a religious pull being “universal” well that isn’t completely true. There are a large and growing number of Atheists and Agnostics in this world who lead a happy life without any religious belief. Also, just because something is found throughout the world does NOT make it true, or even good. Racism and sexism are universal traits as well (tribalism).

    The question of energy conservation and the quantum physics used to defend religion...
    -I have a very big problem when spiritual people try to claim quantum physics for their side. This is the Deepak Chopra approach to physics and it is totally voodoo science. The quantum level is, yes, very very difficult to understand and yes it does do things that boggle the mind. Non-locality and dark matter and dark energy are all very fascinating subjects. But, again, why relegate them to the supernatural? Just because it is hard to understand or awe-inspiring does not a god make it. Also, yes it is true that energy is not destroyed; however, it is radically altered. First off, what is this energy we are speaking of? Is the consciousness what people are calling energy? Well, that’s a bit suspect for a scientific statement. I mean, sure, there is energy involved, but it is a collection of energies and molecules and chemicals and reactions. All of these together, working in tandem, is what makes your conscious. When you die, these components are no longer in tandem and therefore you do lose consciousness. There is no evidence whatsoever that these energies function after death. It is not some “energy” that makes you conscious. It is the brain, it all its glory that does that. Without a working (read: alive) brain…your consciousness would not exist. The electrical energy that is “conserved” may go on somehow but it will not be able to formulate thought, have memory, or any thing else you consider “You.” There may some way to fluff up the after-dead state of being by saying that we join the universe in some way such as our molecules rejoin other beings, our bodies fertilize the earth or whatnot. But this is simply a sexed up way of saying you cease to be.

    The question of defending my Atheism, finding innacuracies in holy books, etc....
    -In many ways, I am a “militant” Atheist in the sense that I am almost an anti-theist. I find religious and even supernatural beliefs to be harmful to our planet and harmful to our species. There are exceptions. I mean, one of the reasons I love Pagan forums and Pagans in general is that I find them a much more evolved spiritual outlook than traditional religions. The only problem I ever have with my Pagan or Wiccan or Witch friends is the New Age beliefs they tend to hold. I honestly believe that belief in magic or the supernatural is not beneficial to our planet, especially if it is a proselytizing faith or a faith that believes it is the only answer. There is a scale of religious wickedness with Buddhists, Pagans, Jains, etc. on one end and extremist Muslims, extremist Christians and Orthodox Judaism on the other. So there is a part of me that loves to find innacuracies in holy books, because it baffles me that someone could believe that a book as brutal and archaic as the Torah could be the divine word of a perfect God. It really does astound me. I mean, as someone who was at one time fanatically religious (Roman Catholic convert) I can understand the sentiment but it actually horrifies me more becaue I know what those feelings are like, how deluded and self-hating and vitriolic they can become. So yes, I do feel a need to stand up for my Atheism, to be proud about it, to at least get others to question their beliefs and look at what the religions they belong to are responsible for. I think it is important. I know it is important.

    Well, that is just a collection of some of my opinions, long winded I know, but I thought it would be fun to use this as an intro of sorts and also to give some more Atheist opinions for this thread!





    "For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft." -1 Samuel 15:23

    "Most witches don’t believe in gods. They know that the gods exist, of course. They even deal with them occasionally. But they don’t believe in them. They know them too well. It would be like believing in the postman." -Terry Pratchett

  6. #36
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    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    I've been off this forum for a while, lots of things happening.

    And of course I don't mind you throwing in some of your opinions.

    I have to admit that I as well have found belief in the supernatural and similar topics to be harmful to our species for a time, but at one point I just stopped caring because in this world of extremely differing ways of personal perception, the religious opinion of one person seems to have little to no value and expressing it really doesn't change all that much (unless you're rich, famous or both).

    I've always kept my opinion(s) towards religion/spirituality to myself besides on this forum, because well... no one asks about it in my everyday life lol.
    And I think that's great just the way it is.
    And now I will express a quote in mime...

  7. #37
    Lord Roknrol's Avatar
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    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    Well now, brown cow - looks like the Admins decided to give us our own section We didn't even have a section for Atheists when I was running the place...we had to misappropriate the Academics section

    I'm on and off, but I do look for this thread when I show up, so if y'all have any questions for us nonbelievers, ask away!

  8. #38
    Sr. Member CttCJim's Avatar
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    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    Well, we need to keep y'all out of the way to keep ya from making trouble of course

    I'll just leave this here, Penn's challenging words to the devout:

    [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swkAGExZCII[/youtube]
    Be Excellent to each other - or something will Happen to you.

  9. #39
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    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    Quote Originally Posted by Sin View Post
    ooh ooh oohh!! *jumps up and down waving my hand in the air* memememmememememememeee!!!!


    As an athiest how do you approach the subject of dualism and that of the soul? Do you have a soul? Or are you just a body?
    Sorry to spam - I'm going to pick through this thread and answer questions that I haven't answered here yet. Why? Because I'm bored, and this is one of the few threads I feel comfortable posting in

    I view "soul" as being just another word for "conscious thought". Most animals don't really have conscious thought, at least, not in any discernible way, but some animals are a bit brighter. Most mammals, for example, I would say have a "soul" in the same way that humans do, but don't misunderstand me: I do not believe that there is an "energy" or any sort of physical evidence (nor will there ever be, IMO) to point to a "soul", because I view it as being a byproduct of everything that we ARE (our intelligence, reasoning, etc).

    Face it - we are a unique animal in many regards, and part of what makes us unique is that our physical bodies have allowed us the opportunity to promote our own intelligence. It's not just the opposable thumb - apes have those, and they aren't as bright as we are. It's not just the brain - dolphins are lauded as being just as intelligent as we are (even as far as social conduct, murder, rape, etc), but they lack the ability to do much with their bodies but swim (although they do it very well). We also have the ability of linguistics, which allows us to do something as insignificant as "name things"...which is a much bigger deal than you would assume: http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb05/hues.aspx

    All of these insignificant differences puts us at the top of the heap. A poor analogy: Roughly the same amount and type of material goes into building a Hyundai Accent as a Ferarri. Performance differs It's all how they were "put together".

    So do I have a soul? By my own definition, yes, but that's just my perception of what people refer to as a soul. Do I believe that there will be some semblance of existence once I'm dead? Nope.

    ---------- Post added at 01:24 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:13 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Madness View Post
    Ok atheists, put your thinking caps on!
    It's on. It's made out of tinfoil, does that matter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Madness View Post
    Why does humanity seem to have an innate desire and need to worship something, or someone? Why is there such a universal religious sense within humanity?
    Hrm. As much as I'd like to break these two questions up, I can't think of a way - so please bear with me

    I believe that due to the evolution of our brains, we have more "questions" than other animals do. The only thing a question is good for, is to get an answer...so the "how does that work" or "why does that happen" is simply part of our evolutionary make-up. I imagine it would have something to do with hundreds of thousands of years of bouncing between a variety of near-uninhabitable environments, but I digress

    Unfortunately, just because a person can ask a question doesn't mean that they're capable of providing their own answer. Even more unfortunately, for many people, AN answer is better than the CORRECT answer. Don't believe me? The vast majority of the people that I work with on computers ask me what I did to fix the problem. If it's too technical, "magic" works just as well as the real answer, and it's a helluva lot easier to explain (or not explain, you get my meaning ). People simply don't care if the answer that they have is the RIGHT answer until it affects them, and religion is just full of vague words with fuzzy meanings. Me personally? I'd rather have NO answer than the WRONG answer. An answer means we can stop looking, but if it's wrong, then we probably shouldn't stop

    [
    Quote Originally Posted by Madness View Post
    How do you account for the many supernatural experiences that people have, such as encounters with god(s), ghosts, spirits, etc.?
    I know this has been answered by others, but the short answer is: it depends on the situation.

    If you'd prefer the "broad" answer, I would have to say that it's because people rely so much on their imperfect senses without realising how imperfect they are, and making assumptions that may have more to do with their mood than anything else. It happens Just to give you an idea of the sort of thing that can cause some of the above (and this is by no means an answer to every event, but it expresses how poor our senses can be at establishing the Truth): http://www.cracked.com/article_18828...sightings.html

    ---------- Post added at 01:37 AM ---------- Previous post was at 01:24 AM ----------

    Quote Originally Posted by Honeysuckle137 View Post
    This response is just for friendly debate.

    It is scientifically quantifiable that humans (excluding other forms of life for the moment) run on electromagnetic energy, along with other forms of mechanical energy.
    True.


    Quote Originally Posted by Honeysuckle137 View Post
    If we can look at all forms of energy (including dark energy), and accept that there are forces (intelligent or not) that are still as yet undiscovered, then could you accept the possibility that what gives humans their sentience is a form of energy that is undiscovered?
    Tentatively, yes. The reason that I say Tentatively, is that there are no questions that I've come across (so far) that *require* some other form of energy, or a "soul" or anything like that. To use an analogy (I know it's kind of a Straw-man, but bear with me please ), one of the reasons that we're pretty sure Bigfoot doesn't exist, is that not only is there no *evidence* that it exists, there's also no "niche" for a creature like that to "fit in" to any of the areas where they're purported to exist. The balance of the ecosystem would be drastically different if Bigfoot hung out in those areas, so not only can we not FIND any Bigfeet, but we really don't have a reason to assume that they're there.

    That's more or less how I approach the "electrical energy" argument: If there isn't a *reason* for it to be there, and there's no evidence to support that it's there, why assume that it's there but we haven't found it yet?

    Don't get me wrong - we discover things all of the time that we didn't know existed...but really, over the last 50 years or so hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of real scientists have studied this stuff. If there was ANY indication that their research could lead to something, wouldn't they still be doing it? Instead, what we end up with are real scientists that have failed (and moved onto other fields of work), or "real" scientists that also failed, but are willing to lie through their teeth to sell books (and probably because they don't want to admit that they may have been wrong).

    So yes, technically speaking I can agree that there may be some as-yet-undiscovered-form-of-energy-within-the-human-body that we don't understand and that accounts for things like magic and conscience or whatever...but because I don't see a reason for that energy to exist, I have a difficult time accepting that (even as a POSSIBILITY).


    Quote Originally Posted by Honeysuckle137 View Post
    And if that energy/energies is what can be identified as what we call a "soul" or our human sentience, you must come to accept the law of physics that states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Also, since energy is not organic, it cannot simply wither and decay.
    Um...this is a misnomer.

    It is true that energy cannot be destroyed, but Newton's Laws also dictate a significant loss whenever energy changes form, as well as the fact that we aren't quite capable of converting some forms of energy into others (for example, some chemical elements are only found at the core of the sun because it requires such vast amounts of heat and pressure to create them).

    Energy does not just "change form" all by itself. It requires a mechanism for the change to occur, and according to what we know about the human body, no such mechanism exists.

    Quote Originally Posted by Honeysuckle137 View Post
    What happens to the energy that powered our body/brain/sentience once we die? I think that is a more potent question in terms of stepping up scientific inquiry.
    The same thing that happens to the potential energy in your car when you disconnect the battery. Only with our bodies, that energy gets "used up" when/as our cells die off.

    Quote Originally Posted by Honeysuckle137 View Post
    Oh, I have a little interesting Discovery-esque tidbit I found recently that actually kind of puts a whole "Space Odyssey" spin on this whole "existence" thing. Astrophysics has taken the turn for the mind blowing in terms of the actual beginning of the universe. Ever hear the theory that the Big Bang was actually the impact of two flat, atom-thin separate universes drawn together every few billion eons or so? Yeah, they then expand outward until there is nothing left. And yes, there has been physical evidence to support the development of this theory. Cool idea huh?
    It is I would really like to be a Quantum Physicist so I could spend my time making up ridiculous shit

    Seriously? I can't wrap my brain around more than 4 dimensions, and understanding something like the above requires something I'm just not capable of

    Quote Originally Posted by Honeysuckle137 View Post
    And there are dozens more universe theories just as viable. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, humanity. ;D
    Aye Imagining the Tenth Dimension is AWESOME

  10. #40
    Lord Roknrol's Avatar
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    Re: Ask an Atheďst

    A final note: It helps me to understand Atheism a little more by having a firm understanding of Evolution. I know it sounds kind of silly (or maybe even self-evident), but if you really look at what it took for HUMANS to exist, it's pretty easy to see how "religion" could come to be

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