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Does this qualify me as an atheist?

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soleft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 11:39 AM
Original message
Does this qualify me as an atheist?
Edited on Fri Sep-30-05 11:41 AM by soleft
I don't believe in God. I don't think Jesus was devine.

I think there may have been a rabbi living around the time and place Jesus was purportedly living who taught a mystical, reformed Judaism, which may have been influenced by eastern thought. I think some of the quotes attributed to him may be similar to things he said, and that a lot of the wisdom and common sense he taught, the pacifism he thought, were good teachings that bear no resemblance to the cult formed in his name.

I do think there is something to be gotten out of some scriptural texts if it's taken methaphorically - much like stories of mythology often reveal things that have psychological truth and merit.

I also believe that a lot of religious teachings are primitive ways of trying to explain things that have either already been discovered or will be discovered via scientific and humanistic research.

I believe in a collected consciousness - and while I do not believe in an anthropomorphic God, or any kind of spiritual entity or being that is separate and apart from man and the universe at large - I do believe that matter-energy-and consciousness do form the matrix that is existence, and that it does in fact have a purpose.

I think the universe exists because there is an underlying consciousness that wants to experience shit and learn more about itself. And the only way it can do that is to take a physical form so it can act - to paraphrase RJ Campbell - it's like you might think you're funny, but you won't really know it until you actually go out and make somebody laugh.

So that's why we're here - I think. To do crap so we can figure out stuff about ourselves.

In thinking about this kind of stuff and wanting to learn more about it I do consider myself a spiritual person.

So can I be spiritual - and an atheist at the same time?
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 11:50 AM
Response to Original message
1. Spiritual and atheist are not unknown to one another
Though many atheists have a kneejerk reaction to the term spiritual its not their atheism that causes it.

Atheism just refers to a persons stance on the existance of god. Spirituality pulls in other philosophical constructs. You may get some kneejerk reactions though. Skepticism runs heavy in our camp and although you can embrace the some of the more loose uses of the word spiritual they tend to be opposed to one another.

Where you are going to run into the biggest problem though is your notion that the universe wanted to know more about itself. This seems to imply that it had desire before it had sentience. I do think of us as the universe coming to know itself. But the universe wanting to know itself before it knew itself creates a conundrum. Some may construe that as a form of god and attempt to shift you to the theist catagory.
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soleft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 12:27 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. what about not wanting to know itself
but wanting to know itself more. It expands and contracts with no begining and no end but each time it goes through the cycle it's just a little ... more than it was.

And spiritual may not be the right word - I think there is a way of being that is influenced by wanting to live in accord and harmony, cultivating compassion and striving to just cut thru all the crap and be as awake and present as possible.


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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:33 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. Flexibility
Like I said there are atheists that are not opposed to the term spirituality. For some the reaction is a kneejerk reaction. It is baggage that comes from turning away from the oppression of organized religions. We get a lot of baggage from that. I know atheists that won't join freethought societies because they are too similar to religions or meet in churchs.

As to the notion of the universe. As I said I see our existance as a way for the universe to come to know itself. But awareness seems to be a result of very specific formations of matter and energy. It is dependent on the order in those formations. By everything we can reasonably deduce when that order ends so to does the awareness. Thus if this is some form of a recursive universe then during the periods between expansion/implosion cycles there is no active awareness. Furthermore it does not seem that our awareness has any impact or ability to direct the next cycle of expansion/implosion nor does it have any effect on the next cycles level of development.

Add to this the notion that such a cycle of expansion and implosion is no longer seen as the dominant theory concerning the nature of our universe. The theories currently seem to be favoring systems that give rise to a multiplicity of universes. Each existing for a virtual period of time. So in these theories once this universe enters entropy death or collapses its over for this particular iteration.

I understand the concept you are trying to express. I even share a bit of it. But the connetivity of conscious mind after death creates an impasse for me.
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soleft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 04:21 PM
Response to Reply #4
8. I have the same knee jerk reaction to God
There are a lot of people who use the term God to mean the universe, or existence, or a great mystery we don't know what the hell it is - they don't mean God the same way Pat Robertson does - but I just can't get past the word.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 02:13 PM
Response to Original message
3. Well, that's the thing - there's no group that "qualifies" atheists.
If you think you're one, you are one.

You may not find many atheists who agree with your concept of a universal or "collected consciousness," but we don't have a lot of rules, so knock yourself out. :)
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arwalden Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:41 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. What?
No atheist churches? No atheist prayers? :eyes:
No atheist ritual sacrifices of small animals and virgins?
Shirley U. Jest!
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. SHHHHHHHHH!
We don't let newbies know about the E.A.C., so shut your piehole for now, OK?
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EvolveOrConvolve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 04:22 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Hey, someone let my in on the E.A.C.
I've seen it in people's posts before, but I'm not quite sure what it means. I assume it's an acronym, but what it represents, I don't know.

If there's an evil coven of atheists that meets to drink human blood, abort babies, and burn bibles, count me in! :evilgrin:
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 05:07 PM
Response to Reply #9
10. It's the Evil Atheist Conspiracy
and it doesn't exist, got it?

http://www.ebonmusings.org/atheism/eac.html
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EvolveOrConvolve Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 06:00 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. Got it. It doesn't exist.
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 03:54 PM
Response to Reply #5
7. Understand that the black helicopter circling your house right now
Is just there to protect you. It is not there to remind you to keep silent about EAC activities.
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A HERETIC I AM Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-30-05 11:43 PM
Response to Original message
12. Soleft...a simple question....
Do you have a god?

If no, then you are Atheist. You are "Without gods"

Simple as that.

My Atheism regards the concept of the anthropomorphic god of Abraham and Isaac (Primarily) and all the personified gods of the remaining religions humans have created.
The idea that there is a thinking, calculative, manipulative, vengeful diety that is in control of a universe it created fall into the same realm of reality as do leprechauns, unicorns, pixies, faeries, elves, etc. etc. in other words, not real at all.


Is there SOMETHING out there? ANYTHING that might be considered god-like in any way? Well, i just dont know for certain, and neither does anyone else, but the god of the bible is just as mythical as the gods of the Greeks and the Romans.
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FM Arouet666 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-01-05 01:40 AM
Response to Original message
13. Sorry, you will not be able to tithe in our church.
Edited on Sat Oct-01-05 01:42 AM by FM Arouet666
Oh, wait we don't have a church, and we certainly do not tithe. I posted a question "How atheistic are you?" Some of the replies suggested that it was like pregnancy, you cannot be a little pregnant. Your thinking is what I had in mind when I posted the topic.

I agree with your points concerning scriptural texts, many of the precepts of religion have merit. Religion is an invention of humankind, an attempt to control society, give meaning to our existence and understanding of the natural world, ennobling mankind.

I see the universe as a non-living entity, no capacity to offer concern, no consciousness, no awareness. For the universe, two particles in deep space are as important as human life. A cold scientific view of the natural world.

In the span of the universe, our lives are brief, it is this knowledge which fuels my respect for life. Does this make me spiritual? Does your interpretation of spirituality conflict with atheism? I say believe what you like, we are not here to be your judge.

I would add that denying modern religion, while maintaining a belief in the supernatural manifests from a fear of the consequences of scientism. Atheists are typically skeptics and adherents to science, as such, topics of a supernatural spiritual kind, will meet resistance.
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soleft Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Oct-01-05 11:11 AM
Response to Reply #13
14. What about quantum physics
I know a lot of bullshit has been written like the Celestine Prophesy and trying to relate physics to taoism and the like - but do you think trying to explore answers to mysteries in the realm of the microcosm ends up in the same place as religion - like "I want to believe in some shit so I don't have to deal with fear" or do you think there's value in trying to theorize some meaning or explanation of existence.
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toddaa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:02 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. Knowing and not knowing
A lot of people find it comforting to know things, but I think it is far more useful to know nothing. To know nothing means to ask questions but to be comfortable with the possibility that there may not be answers. There is no fear in knowing nothing. To know, on the other hand, opens you up to the possibility that you may be wrong and that is why most deeply religious people fear doubt. It opens them up to the horrible possibility that everything the know could be wrong.

You mentioned Daoism, which is one of the oldest nontheistic belief systems that emphasizes the importance of knowing nothing. Zen Buddhism is probably more familiar to Westerners as a system of doubt, but that knowing nothing is really Daoism with a bunch of mystical Mahayana ritualism tacked on to make it marketable to the masses. Anyway, knowing nothing stems from the Daoist virtue of doing nothing. Letting things happen. If you force nature to conform to your will, you will lose. Nature exists, whether you accept it or not. The same goes with knowing. You cannot know reality away, which is often what theism asks you to do. But if you know nothing, then you just accept reality as it is.

The problem with atheism/theism is that it is often cast as a either/or argument. For myself, I neither believe nor disbelieve in a god. God is a meaningless and irrelevant word. It serves no useful function so I simply ignore it.

Now, I can already surmise what the rationalists are going to say about this post. I'm a wishy washy pomo relativist who rejects reason. No I don't. But I do recognize the fact that reason has limitations. It's very good at answering specific questions, like how does DNA or gravity work, but it's very tough to reason through something like the meaning of existence. For this, I think it best to just accept the possibility that there may not be one.
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Az Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:25 PM
Response to Reply #15
16. Most supporters of science are quite comfortable not knowing
And much of the argument some of us have been trying to make is to reject the definition of atheists that theists try to heap upon us.

Your statements are very reasoned. But you will find that most scientists do not use the word know in the way you are implying. There is absolute knowledge and there is knowing by way of relative familiarity. The latter is more common in day to day life. But the former becomes problematic in philosophical conversations.

I know I am sitting here typing this. This is actually a very high degree of knowledge. But its not absolute. I could be a brain in a vat being fed signals that this is what is going on. I do not know.

But my day to day experience continues to revolve around experiences here. So it does me little harm to garner some knowledge of the actions taking place around me. Perhaps not absolute but useful none the less.

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toddaa Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Oct-04-05 12:38 PM
Response to Reply #16
20. There are no absolutes in knowledge
Agreed. The point, however, is to resist the urge to believe that the knowledge that I possess is absolute. Reality is objective, but my perception of that reality is colored by my experience. Recognizing this, I greatly reduce the tendency to make a fool of myself by declaring that I am right and you are wrong. Not that I don't occasionally lapse. And yes, I always end up a fool.

There is a God/There is no God. A pretty absolute statement, considering the subject is rather poorly defined. My question always comes back to what is God. There are so many contradictory answers that it is safe for me to conclude that the statement is without meaning. Science, on the other hand, is much more useful as it asks questions in such a way that the answers can be corrected based on experience. Far more useful than asking something that is ambiguous and potentially irrelevant.

To me, theology has always been an antiquated means of studying the world around us finding out how and why it works. As we gathered knowledge, we've had to dispose of some earlier beliefs that did not fit the accumulated bits and pieces of information we gathered. In this way, I think theology was a necessary philosophical study and even to this day gives us some valuable insight on our condition. I may not believe in God, but that doesn't mean there isn't some value in studying Plato. Just because Quantum Physics defies Newtonian laws doesn't mean we chuck Isaac Newton.

I come from a very religious background and for the first few years after I acknowledged that I was an atheist, I was angry, bitter, and hostile to religion. Eventually, however, anger gets rather tiresome and I decided that I no longer cared what others believed, as long as they reciprocated. Now, I'm pretty comfortable using terms like spiritual and divine as they have different meanings to me than how theists define them. I realize that this makes both theists and atheists uncomfortable, but words are only abstractions. They don't represent reality. As long as you don't get too hung up on them, they're rather pleasant to play with. However, once you start using them in place of the things they represent, you've lost it. If Daoism has any value, it's in this respect. The ideal is illusion.
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FM Arouet666 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #14
19. Just some thoughts as I sit here watching Star Trek.....
The most elementary and valuable statement in science, the beginning of wisdom is, I do not know. Data ST-TNG

I am quite comfortable with skepticism in terms of the scientific method. Does this mean that I know everything, as many "anti-skeptics" have alleged? Of course not. I fear that I have but scratched the surface of what humankind will ultimately understand about the natural world. I have accepted this, you must find your own answers.

An observation, fear is one of the strongest motivators which fuels faith and fear of the unknown is probably universal. As you search for answers to your own existence, it is tempting to accept answers based on faith alone. Putting your fear aside, and looking for answers based on science is difficult. Many of the answers will be "I do not know."

Science suggests that the Big Bang is the origin of the universe, human life resulted from millions of years of evolution, and there is no supernatural world, only the material world. Is there any meaning to life beyond that which you perceive while you are alive.

I do not know, but the answer is probably no.
Fear? I would be a lier to deny it.......
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salvorhardin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 09:44 PM
Response to Original message
17. You need to pay your union dues first
Just mail a postal money order for $135 to:
Salvor Hardin
PO Box 123
Smalltown, NY 18181-1818

Then you'll get the handbook and official real rubber chicken. Wear it proudly -- I won't tell you what some of members have done with it. After three months you'll have your preliminary certifying exam which if you pass with a score of 71% or better you'll be eligible to attend local organizing meetings for the Evil Atheist Conspiracy. Newbies bring the refreshments. We're partial to pizza and beer at the Upstate EAC Local 101 but it varies by region. Better ask a EAC brother (or sister) first. If you do your job well, and meet your quota of causing 15 people to lose their faith then you can be voted a full member by year's end. Now, BMUS and trotsky will show you the secret handshake. Get out of here, and don't forget that money order.
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Synnical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Oct-03-05 10:14 PM
Response to Original message
18. YES!
You can take the stance of not believing in any "gods" but still believe in "something else".

I was there, once. (Though I early on rejected organized religion.) I've had friends who were there at points in their lives.

Keep reading, keep thinking. I suspect that eventually you may change your mind, or not. But just keep thinking.

Best regards.
-Cindy in Fort Lauderdale

:)
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