Atheism – Critical Belief

Stephen (@stepvhen) 9 years, 6 months ago

Does atheism assume that the default state of the human races is one of mindless devotion to a higher power? Does atheism do more to entrench religion in the collective psyche?

I’m an anti-theist. I see atheist badges on blogs. There’s something smug in that little A. The phrase “I’m an Atheist” bandied around as though it were proof of intelligence. Atheism has become for many a hollow identity. A caricature of free thought. A fixed intellectual position taken to be some form of intellectual credential.

It’s not right to say that all atheists adopt atheism for access to the identity that goes with it. That’s not true of all atheists. It’s true of the lazy ones. The ones who want the fruits of the atheist identity, without ever actually learning to think for themselves. Those who become atheists because somebody told them there was no god, and they chose to believe them. If you haven’t earned your atheism through critical thought, you don’t deserve to call yourself an atheist. You’re a believer.
Atheism via belief does not count as atheism.

The problem with belief in god doesn’t stem from gods non-existence. That’s beside the point.
The problem is the acceptance of belief over critical thought. The problem is the promotion of irrational belief over thinking for oneself.

My problem with the modern atheist movement is that it installs irrational belief. Belief without the groundwork of PERSONAL critical thought to back it up. It’s the equivalent of cheating on a Math(s) test. Is what matters in our society just being right? Holding the correct belief? Or learning the method to determine which beliefs are less incorrect?

The modern Atheist movement places the emphasis on holding the right belief. Personal enquiry, and critical thinking are circumvented. The maxim comes down from above, and this is equated with reason. The groundwork is ignored. No-one learns to think critically for themselves, but everyone gets to play the intellectual because they hold the right belief.
That is ridiculous. It becomes more ridiculous when you take into account the belief in question, that there is no-puppet master in the sky.
There are people who take themselves to be intellectually superior because they don’t believe in a puppet-master in the sky. They haven’t even reached this conclusion through critical analysis.
Monkeys don’t believe in a great puppet master in the sky either, I don’t see them patting each other on the back for it.

You can blame Richard Dawkins for a lot of this but he is right on one point. You weren’t born a Christian.
You weren’t born an atheist either, at least I wasn’t.
Like my hairy primate ancestors, I was born not giving a fuck.
I was born unconcerned by make believe questions, but keenly interested in figuring out life.
Now, unconcerned by flying spaghetti monsters, floating teapots and Gods, passionate about critical thought.

If you haven’t earned your atheism with critical thought you’re just courting an identity. You are not an atheist because you have reached your own conclusions, but because you’ve accepted someone else’s. You want what atheists have. You are courting an identity.

If atheists gave a damn about the destructive force of theism they would be “Rational anti-Theists”.
Irrational atheism is a posture. It requires nothing from a person but affiliation and bestows upon them a sexy new identity as the intelligent moral crusader. This isn’t the absurd argument that atheism is just another belief system, rather it is the profound exposition ( =D ) that for many atheism has nothing whatsoever to do with the rejection of theism. It is completely cut off from the question of theism. Irrational atheism exists ONLY to make you feel better about YOU. It’s selfish and useless. A way of allowing you to be better than a theist.

Where atheism is a fixed position, anti-theism is a direct challenge. Where atheism is selfish anti-Theism is selfless. “I like truth and destruction and one inevitably leads to the other.” We don’t need atheism in our society. Not really. We need to be rid of theism. Irrational atheism further entrenches theism in our society all in the name of creating a better identity. We don’t need more A’s on blogs, we need the destruction of theism. Not posturing, active and critical opposition.

This isn’t a call for war on religion but for a rational and critical anti-theism. A sustained and controlled counter to theism. Not violent aggression. Calculated critical thought. Constant intellectual criticism applied to theism, until theism goes away. That is not what the modern atheist movement represents. It represents an identity. A club whereby you can suspend your critical thinking at the door, and still call yourself intelligent. It doesn’t apply pressure to theism. It’s concerned with replacing theism rather than removing it. It’s not a movement it’s a club. To join you have to accept the rules. You don’t have to think for yourself, just accept the rules. “There is no god”

If there were a contract it would go something like this:
“I the undersigned do hereby solemnly swear to relinquish my belief in any and all divine and so reap the benefits of pretending to be intelligent”
Where it should read like this:
“I the undersigned shall think critically and rationally on my own behalf faithfully challenging my own beliefs”

The smart choice is the critical opposition of theism, not the promotion of anti-theism.
If theism fell before atheism, it would be replaced by another belief that is for the most part, irrational.

When theism falls before the opposition of critical thought, it will be replaced by critical thought. It will not be a victory of atheism of theism, but a victory on a deeper level of critical thought over belief. It won’t be the victory of one irrational belief over another, but of critical thought over irrational belief

May 31, 2012 at 4:22 pm
Alicia Lee (146) (@aliwine) 9 years, 6 months ago ago

I don’t think it’s necessarily atheists thinking they are smarter but rather that they are “right” – there are ass holes in every religion that pride themselves on how right they think their decision is and how wrong everyone else is. Their religion should take no part in their judgment, they are just as it is; an asshole.

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Anonymous (170) (@) 9 years, 6 months ago ago

I agree with much of what you said. I personally use the term Agnostic to describe my belief system. I feel its more in line with Socratic ideals than Atheism. The more I learn, the more ignorant I realize I am. In context of logic, and critical thinking, Agnostic, is the proper word to use. Considering that ultimately we cannot prove theism or atheism, we are left with the fact that we do not know. Though of course many who reach this particular plain of consciousness succumb to “Pascals Wager”.

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Stephen (90)C (@stepvhen) 9 years, 6 months ago ago

Yeah I’ve seen agnostics take heat for sitting on the fence rather than committing to a belief, which again only serves to entrench belief over critical thought

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The_truth_is_ (91) (@sirensetmefree) 9 years, 6 months ago ago

I actually have much to disagree with your post. That being said, I don’t think I’m going to go out of my way to reply to everything. I’ll just make a few points.

I’ll start by explaining that I completely agree that it is wrong to flaunt beliefs as if they were “conclusions” you came to when, in reality, they were conclusions others came to that you just accepted. But THAT problem is a social issue given the state of our education. You can still accept conclusions without having to rationalize them in your head, and still be able to rationalize, had you needed to.

For example, I’m not extensively researching the shape of the earth, and my knowledge of such things didn’t come from personal research. I was given information referenced from appropriate authorities on the subject, and so I accept it when I am told that the world is flat. I don’t have to have extensive knowledge or do much of my own research to be able to have the information to “think critically” about the subject to accept a conclusion, and it doesn’t seem entirely irrational.

Secondly, “You weren’t born an atheist either, at least I wasn’t.” Actually, if you define “atheism” as “non-theism,” which is the actual meaning of the word, then yes, you were born an atheist. You had no inclination towards any sort of theism, and, by definition, you were atheist. You don’t have to openly decide to be a non-theist. It’s like not being a member of a political party, say, Democrats. You are not BORN a Democrat. You, also, don’t have any knowledge about political parties. But that doesn’t change the fact that you are NOT born a Democrat. If there were a phrase for non-Democrats, you would be considered a part of that non-Democrat demographic on the simple fact that you are NOT a Democrat, regardless of your knowledge.

The reason I bring this up as important to contest (ignoring some of the other points I would like to confront but don’t feel the need to) is because it seems like your definition of “atheism” is the conscious rejection of theism through critical thought and evaluation (as I presented in the above paragraph). If that were the case, then the only people who could be considered atheists are those who have studied every religion in depth, including ancient traditions, and rejected each one as they came.If your first point stands (your point being “accepting things without critical thinking is ridiculous”) then you wouldn’t be able to accept something like Norse mythology as false when you start your journey into “atheism.” If you do, then, without knowledge about Norse mythology, you can’t think critically of it. And I honestly don’t think you mean to say that atheists need to seriously consider Norse mythology when discussing the existence of god(s).

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Anonymous (194) (@) 9 years, 6 months ago ago

@sirensetmefree, Am I reading that wrong or did you just say that the Earth was flat?

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The_truth_is_ (91) (@sirensetmefree) 9 years, 6 months ago ago

@smalls

Oh, shit. I meant round. -.- This is what happens when I try writing 2 term papers and respond to online posts at the same time.

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The_truth_is_ (91) (@sirensetmefree) 9 years, 6 months ago ago

@sirensetmefree

“and so I accept it when I am told that the world is flat.”

I meant, “the world is round.”

I need to pick up my game.

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Stephen (90)C (@stepvhen) 9 years, 5 months ago ago

This is a great reply I’ll get back to this

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JamesRush (0) (@jamesrush) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@imhotep, Atheism isn’t the declaration that there are no gods. It’s basically just not believing that there are gods. So I would technically describe myself as agnostic atheist. I claim nothing can prove or disprove a god (because they defined it that way) but I don’t hold a belief in one. So in other words they are not mutually exclusive. However you can disprove the existence of the gods of the holy books. You just show that the contents are false and the stories made up and then you have disproved that god.

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Super Trooper (9) (@cvb93) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

The way I see it is who are we to say what is what? I was thinking about this on my lunch today as we were having a conversation about superstition, someone who is superstitious commented on how daft religion is. It basically puts that person in the same class as a religious person, it’s their belief. I don’t choose to believe in any religion, something that is interesting though is that I believe the universe is infinate and that there is certainly life out there. Who am I to say that? In the grand scheme of the unknown there is too much going on to get caught up in what to believe or what not to believe.

I don’t agree with the negativity some beliefs bring. The way I see it, life is too short to get caught up in the unknown. You’ve just got to accept that you will never know.

If it brings positivity then why the hell not.

If it brings negativity, which lets be honest most beliefs cause too much conflict, then get rid.

Amalgamate positive aspects of different beliefs to form your own personalised belief. Atheism doesn’t to that.

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Anonymous (170) (@) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@jamesrush, My point is, most atheists believe in science not god or religion. If science is the core of your beliefs, then it makes sense to take a scientific approach to the rest of your beliefs, and since no one has been able to refute or prove the existence of a god, that only leaves one logical, scientific path, an agnostic belief. I’ve just always thought the label agnostic atheist, is a huge oxymoron. Its not that I have a problem with atheism, I just think its a fairly dogmatic structure of belief, which is to reminiscent for me of organized religion.

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JamesRush (0) (@jamesrush) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@imhotep,
I think you are confusing the term. Like i said earlier, atheism is define as not believing that a god exists. So how can it be dogmatic? Yes there are dogmatic atheists but there is no dogma in atheism because it’s just not having a belief in gods. Basically you are saying that not collecting stamps is a hobby. So the term agnostic atheist is not an oxymoron. They describe two different things. Gnosticism is a knowledge claim. Theism is a belief claim. Also how do you believe in science? If you mean you trust that the scientific method works then I agree. But how do you believe in science?

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Kevin (536) (@placid) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

Believing in any ideology, atheism in this case, predetermines the way you think. Those who adopt ideology (ism) cease to think for themselves.

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Anonymous (170) (@) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@jamesrush, I except the way you define the term. My point is that it doesn’t make sense to be atheist at all. Since reasoned beliefs are supposedly the basis of atheists principle’s, its unreasonable to believe that no god like being exist, without proof. I say its dogmatic primarily for that reason, the belief system is not malleable, and it propagates confirmational bias. A·the·ism- noun, 1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God. 2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.
Ag·nostic- 1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience 2. a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study. 3. a person who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic. I believe in the scientific method.

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Dick (364) (@dick) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@stepvhen, I agree that critical thinking is the antidote to belief, and am regularly reminded of the damage caused by theism. Atheism is a belief and, although less damaging to society as a whole, it still it fails the critical thinking test.
To not believe anything is the prerequisite of critical thinking. Critical thinking is an exercise in estimations; it is the establishment of probabilities. It has no agenda, no vested interest in the outcome.

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JamesRush (0) (@jamesrush) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@imhotep,
This is frustrating… just read Bertrand Russell and you’ll get it. Atheism is not saying there is absolutely no god or gods. It is just not believing that one exists because you are not convinced by the claims made. Therefor it is perfectly reasonable to be atheist. Like I explained earlier you can be both atheist and agnostic. You say you accept my definitions then give definitions that agree with mine? And when you say that it’s unscientific I agree. Science doesn’t concern itself with what your opinion is. But that doesn’t mean it is unreasonable. You either think a god exists, don’t think a god exists or haven’t thought about it. I assume that you have. So if you are not convinced there is a god then by definition you are atheist? Gnostic is a knowledge claim. Theist is a belief claim. Agnostic means lack of or no knowledge and atheism means no belief.

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Anonymous (170) (@) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@jamesrush, to bad were not telepathic, because this semanticly driven discussion would have been over in two seconds. Given the implied subjectiveness of the definitions I agree, an agnostic atheist isn’t an oxymoron.

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aneesh (18) (@aneesh) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@stepvhen, What is a correct belief? We all have so many differing beliefs, each conflicting the other… Which one is correct? I don’t think there’s such a thing as a correct belief. We are all living in a world of ours, purely created by our own minds. How much ground work of critical thought do YOU think must precede a ‘correct belief’? It’s all up to you isn’t it?

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Anonymous (194) (@) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@imhotep, @jamesrush, Not sure if this helps but this is how I have looked at it since I read ‘Suicide Note’ by Mitchell Heisman. He used it to describe Nihilism but I’ve found it works for me as well for Atheism.

“[Atheism]… is more unbelief than belief in disbelief. Unbelief is a condition reached through negation. It is not a positive expression of belief in disbelief, but rather, the negative cumulative result of refuting and recognizing the groundlessness of any and every instance of belief encountered thus far”

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Dick (364) (@dick) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@smalls, I like the quote, however I argue that most atheists will make the claim that their is no God as opposed to “refuting and recognizing the groundlessness of any and every instance of belief encountered thus far”, which is where I find myself.

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JamesRush (0) (@jamesrush) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@dick, It doesn’t matter if every single atheist claims that there is definitely no god. It wouldn’t change the meaning of the word atheist.

And to be frank. Why does the word even exist? I only say I am an atheist because by definition i am. I agree with the original post that there really is no need to tell everyone you are atheist or to think that atheism adds 50 points to your IQ or something. People have loaded the word ‘atheist’ with intelligence or something which is wrong. These semantic debates shouldn’t even happen. Wouldn’t it make more sense that the people who believe in god have a word for them and anyone else doesn’t?

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Dick (364) (@dick) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@jamesrush, Yes it does make more sense. I don’t believe in anything, but I don’t have a word to juxtapose myself with every concept that requires belief. There are an infinite number of possible beliefs. I suppose I might be an abeliever….but spell check doesn’t think so.

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JamesRush (0) (@jamesrush) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

@dick, Hahaha yeah you’re right. But the word atheist exists and it has a definition and I fit into it so I guess thats what I am. I just wish people can get over the word or understand that the word just means lack of belief and is not making a knowledge claim of any kind.

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pat (169) (@epath) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

Don’t align yourself with anyone. As soon as you step over a certain line, you are stepping into a system that defines you….be free and be open. Do not become transfixed and brainwashed by any belief. Any religion or structure warps your spirit.

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pat (169) (@epath) 9 years, 4 months ago ago

Including the words I just said.

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