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Life's Extremes: Atheists vs. Believers

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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 01:17 PM
Original message
Life's Extremes: Atheists vs. Believers
Adam Hadhazy, LiveScience Contributor
Date: 04 December 2011 Time: 08:54 AM ET

This December is chock full of "holy days," or holidays. On Dec. 25, Christians commemorate Christmas. For Jews, Hanukkah starts this year on Dec. 20 in the Western and international Gregorian calendar. Shia Muslims, meanwhile, celebrate Ashura today (Dec. 4), the 10th day of the Islamic lunar calendar's first month. Yet others in the Northern Hemisphere will party on Dec. 22 for the winter solstice, as druids might have ritualistically done so at Stonehenge in the U.K. 4,000 years ago.

Religion, it goes without further saying, is a very popular phenomenon. In the U.S., as in much of the world, a majority of people claim to practice some form of it. According to recent surveys, around 80 percent of American adults say they belong to an organized religion.

A minority of that population takes its religion very seriously. These individuals' behaviors and attitudes are largely influenced by what is perceived to conform to their faiths' dogmas. On the opposite end, another, smaller percentage of the population thinks that religion is absolute hooey.

Psychologists, sociologists and neurologists continue to study why some gobble up religion as profound truth while others reject it as superstition.

http://www.livescience.com/17299-atheists-religious-zea...
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. being spiritual is inherent. religion is learned behavior nt
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Well stated. nt
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Abin Sur Donating Member (647 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 02:11 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. How is being spiritual inherent?
I don't feel spiritual in any way, as far as I can tell.
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Silent3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #4
5. A loose meaning of "spiritual" isn't necessarily supernatural...
...or theistic. Spiritual can simply mean more attuned to one's emotional life and the emotional needs of others, having a sense of awe and wonder about the natural world, and feeling a deep connection to the world around you. I don't think you need to believe in ephemeral spirits or mystical "life forces" to be "spiritual".

Of course, it's also debatable if most or all people are naturally spiritual in that non-supernatural sense of the word.
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Abin Sur Donating Member (647 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 02:43 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Hm...that's a pretty broad definition.
Even as described here, I don't think I'm particularly spiritual. I try not to get emotionally involved with others, and I certainly don't feel any sort of deep "connection" to the world around me.

I do find the natural world fascinating (particularly in matters astronomical), but I don't feel any awe or wonder; it's just, well...there.
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MineralMan Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 01:40 PM
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3. Some people are more attuned to logical processes than others.
We can see that at work every day in our own lives. The logic of causation being involved in everything is a natural logic, I believe. Non-physical causation is a difficult logical concept. In fact, for many, it is an impossible concept. Something completely outside of natural processes, it seems, would have a difficult time influencing the real world, it can be argued.

Religionists have no problem with that logical difficulty, so they can ascribe unexplainable phenomena by simply saying "God did it." Atheists cannot accept the concept that an entity outside of the realm of natural processes can even exist, much less act on the natural environment.

It's a dilemma that cannot be discussed in a rational way, since supernatural entities are rejected by the atheist, but believed to exist in some way by religionists. It's a non-starter as a discussion, since the essential premises are rejected by both sides. So, what's the point?
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 02:26 PM
Response to Reply #3
6. That raises a question.
While it's easy to say theists can simply plug a gap by saying god, you say "Atheists cannot accept the concept that an entity outside of the realm of natural processes can even exist". That sounds like a limitation. like colorblindness.

Given all the theories about brain structure and biochemistry contributing to a predisposition to belief, why not might the converse be true?

Bearing in mind what you wrote, the acceptance of atheism may be as much a product of biochemistry as it is of logic.
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ret5hd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 11:12 AM
Response to Reply #6
15. would you say that someone that doesn't believe they are napolean is "colorblind"...
or merely accepting of reality?
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rug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 01:23 PM
Response to Reply #15
17. No, but then Napoleon hasn't posted here yet.
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ret5hd Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 09:20 PM
Response to Reply #17
19. has god?
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 12:49 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. Of course I have!
And so have you.
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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 03:07 PM
Response to Reply #3
9. "Religionists have no problem with that logical difficulty", well, true, they do NOT, except...
when it comes to other people's "logical difficulty". Believers in one religion's group, let's just say Christians, have a lot of difficulty believing in the teachings and beliefs of Islam, and vice versa. They also reject Hindu or Buddhist beliefs, NOT because those others are any more or less "logical", any more or less proved factually accurate, but simply because Christians or Muslims have learned what they chose to learn, and to turn off the learning at that point. True, a few scholars and religious folks have the tenacity or the curiosity to study deeply within the faiths of other groups, but most find only "rational" reasons to reject those other sets of beliefs, much as atheists do for all religious sects.

If atheists were the "colorblind" folks when it comes to accpting items of faith and belief in any religion, are not Christians equally "colorblind" when it comes to accepting the beliefs of Islam, or whatever other religion? Since it is not true that believers accept illogical beliefs of other religions as an act of faith, it is unlikely that any human brains come "endowed" biologically to accept beliefs as an act of faith, more likely such acceptance is simply a learned behavior, based largely upon what was taught the child from an early age, (as opposed to any biological "endowment").

This special (biochemistry contributing to a predisposition to belief) seems like just another myth some people WANT to believe, namely that religious believers are special people in some way, after all, their religious beliefs actually tell them that.
We would argue the exact opposite,(a biochemistry contributing to a predisposition to NON-belief), would be more likely, like a predisposition for advanced analytical skills, advanced pattern recognition, comprenensive sight able to see the entire forest not just a few trees. But if we atheists said that, (and there is some data to support that thesis, i.e. those with advanced degrees are more apt to be atheists, etc.), some religious folks would surely accuse us of being a bit arrogant.

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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 08:36 PM
Response to Reply #3
10. There's an easy way to take an end-run around the difficulty of non-physical causation
That is to discard the notion of causality altogether, and replace it with the concept of something we could call "interpenetrating mutuality" (my own term BTW). This shift in perspective is based on the idea that the appearance of causality is an illusion that arises from our perception of time as linear and unidirectional - both qualities that have lost support in modern physics.

Once one makes that minor adjustment, the field opens for a much less stressful and exclusionary understanding of both physical and non-physical events.

:evilgrin:
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darkstar3 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 02:55 PM
Response to Original message
8. An article filled with supposition and poor writing.
If there is any science behind the ideas expressed here, it was stripped out long before reaching that website.
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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-04-11 08:42 PM
Response to Reply #8
11. poor writing is so easy to check
People who use "your" with "you're" etc., and can't use contractions with reasonable accuracy, nope, not a solid argument.

People like that, hardly worth debating, other than to wake them up to their own lack of education, and lack of diligence in study and clear minded thinking. People who cannot pay proper attention to detail obviously cannot think with the requisite skill needed to make a proper and pursuasive argument.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 06:12 AM
Response to Reply #8
12. Not to mention, what exactly is "extreme" about atheism?
Is the position that "I don't believe you" something that only extremists hold?
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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 07:44 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Exactly right! And so concisely said!
That's exactly the point I was trying to put a finger on last night. I fail to see how saying "I don't believe" about anything is viewed by believers as "extreme". It is simply a rational skeptic mind approaching concepts and hypotheses based upon speculation, imagined entities, entities for which there is not a speck of observable evidence.
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humblebum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 12:44 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. "Saying 'I don't believe' about anything..." is not extreme. It's normal.
Everyone says it about something at one time or another. However, aggressively insisting that what one doesn't believe in is the only possible, logical conclusion, and ridiculing others for their beliefs, IS extremism.
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MarkCharles Donating Member (932 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Dec-09-11 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #16
18. Redefining words like "extremism" to fit with one's personal choice of
Edited on Fri Dec-09-11 04:37 PM by MarkCharles
feeling insulted by the free speech of others is not really "rational", either.

If you don't happen to agree with someone, you are under no obligation to continue to listen to or read what they are saying.

Calling them names like "extremists" for exercising their free speech rights and for their expressing their own thoughts is very imprecise, and a rather childish way of dealing with reality.

To my way of thinking, an "extremist" has to at least issue a THREAT to someone else, a threat of bodily harm, a threat to one's sense of security, a threat of burning in a hell after life, a threat of expulsion from a group, those kinds of threats.

Free speech and logical thinking, facts, research, and open-mindedness, without threats, can hardly be labeled "extremist".
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GliderGuider Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Dec-10-11 12:30 PM
Response to Reply #13
20. Excellent! Now extend that "skepticism of non-belief" out a little farther
Try applying it to everything. Take it out past gods and demons, and let your rational skepticism encompass all possible beliefs - beliefs in science, the self, the material nature of the universe, the perception of consciousness, even the reality of existence itself. You'll be shocked at how liberating the discarding of all beliefs can be.
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Loge23 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-05-11 09:24 AM
Response to Original message
14. We're no more than plants, animals - a life form.
As humans we are cursed with Ego, which leads us to believe that we have some type of spiritual advantage to other life forms. We don't. We live and we die just like everything else on this planet. There's no eternal life, returns, or other spiritual holding place for the countless trillions of humans that have come and left already.
Faith, hope, and spirituality are free drugs. Use them if you want.
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