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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 06:52 AM
Original message
Does atheism extend to other unproven ideas?
Edited on Mon Apr-17-06 07:17 AM by HopeLives
This is a quest for understanding, please let me know (civilly) if I am making untrue assumptions or generalizations.

Some atheists don't believe in God because of a lack of evidence, is this correct?

So what do atheists think about the possibility of extraterrestrials?

How about MIHOP or LIHOP?

Do atheists dismiss all conspiracy theories?

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saltpoint Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:04 AM
Response to Original message
1. You might want to give folks a definition of "other aspects" and not
Edited on Mon Apr-17-06 07:07 AM by Old Crusoe
limit it to extra-terrestrials without mentioning that no one knows what extra-terrestrails are, or even IF they are.

My brother didn't like to eat ice cream. It had little or nothing to do with his being an atheist. Later in life he signed on the a virulent branch of Protestant Christianity and still he didn't like ice cream.

These days he eschews faith and still does not eat ice cream.

Doesn't matter which flavor, either.
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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:16 AM
Response to Reply #1
4. I get what you are saying, do you get what I am asking?
I realize now it is poor phrasing and will try to think of another way to phrase it before my editing time is up.

If you have an idea of how to phrase it better, I would appreciate it. :-)
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saltpoint Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:19 AM
Response to Reply #4
5. There may be behaviors that could be interpreted as
Edited on Mon Apr-17-06 07:57 AM by Old Crusoe
"atheism" in some kind of parallel way through more aspects of life. I get that, if that's what you are aiming for.

But that's not different than saying someone is an Old Testment driver on the highways or a New Testament driver.

The terms appear to lend a general understanding of how someone drives, but both those books have moments of opposite energies. So ultimately it doesn't mean anything.

The farther you take any of those terms, the deeper into their own contradictions you're going to get.
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William769 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:04 AM
Response to Original message
2. Interesting question.
I have also wondered the same thing.

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noahmijo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:07 AM
Response to Original message
3. Well I am agnostic but not atheist but from my experience...
All athiests don't believe in God. Agnostics believe that sufficient proof can't be shown to prove that there is OR isn't a god.

Every atheist I've ever met is mostly just a pure realist-if there is scientific evidence to back it up then I would think they would believe it. Frankly atheists are far more open minded then anybody of any religious persuasion that I've ever met. I've met atheists that know the bible better than most Christians I've met.

As far as believing in aliens and things of that nature being that most atheists are open minded I believe they'd explore the theories but they wouldn't be quick to buy into anything as absolute truth into sufficient evidence proves the theory to be 110% correct.
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eallen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:52 AM
Response to Reply #3
25. So.... Do you believe in god or not?
The agnostic claim ("sufficient proof can't be shown to prove that there is OR isn't a god") is orthogonal to belief. It doesn't tell whether the person who holds that believes or not. There are quite a few Christians who assert both agnosticism and belief. This is so common, that there is even a common phrasing for it: "you can't prove there isn't a god, and I can't prove there is, but I believe as a matter of faith."

Of course, it is irrational to be both agnostic and a believer. That irrational leap of faith is part of their religion. That's what distinguishes an agnostic theist from an agnostic atheist.
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 05:39 PM
Response to Reply #3
41. Not a bad summary at all.
I myself am an agnostic atheist, in that I don't know if gods exist but don't believe because there has never been any objective evidence for such.

Your last paragraph is dead-on, and a helpful way to look at my atheism - just as I don't believe in gods for which there is no conclusive objective evidence, I don't believe in Bigfoot for the same reasons (though I must admit to suspecting there's possible evidence for the latter, while none has been found for the former).

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jody Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:20 AM
Response to Original message
6. You might want to browse Secular humanism, see
Secular humanism at Wikipedia and the three Humanist Manifestos at the American Humanist Association.
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no_hypocrisy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:21 AM
Response to Original message
7. Generally, in a nutshell, with atheists you have to prove something
Edited on Mon Apr-17-06 07:27 AM by no_hypocrisy
with empirical evidence which is subject to challenge with other empirical evidence. Nothing is definite or permanent as far as "the right answer". Atheists do not accept premises on faith (belief without evidence). They are a skeptical bunch and even argue with each other in pursuit of rational "truth".

You start out with atheists and god and religion and it extends into other areas that invite faith-without-challenge like UFOs, MIHOP/LIHOP, etc. It's the mindset, not a character definition.
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Sinistrous Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:22 AM
Response to Original message
8. Many, if not most, atheists are skeptics
and, as such, evaluate evidence critically.

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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:15 AM
Response to Reply #8
19. I would say that many, if not most, skeptics are atheists
Edited on Mon Apr-17-06 08:17 AM by TechBear_Seattle
- overly harsh post deleted by me :hi: -
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:25 AM
Response to Original message
9. R_A checks in: (atheist)
I do apply the one set of principles in all of the rest of my life, which includes atheism.

For me, the decision to be an atheist was two steps: 1) To be agnostic stemmed from the lack of evidence, then 2) atheism from the decision that I could do more good to the world as an atheist rather than agnostic or theist.

Any conspiracist theory falls first under the category 'theory' and is thought through and attempted to be proven/disproven. I always remember that it is not whether it is true or not that matters, more our certainty in which of the two. (I'm quite a search for truth type myself, you see).

When no proof exists, I fall back on logic and probability, so for aliens.... it is probable that there is intelligent life out there, (not the only fish in the sea mentality), but it seems improbable that for instance crop circles were done by aliens.

Are those the answers you were after?/have I understood the question correctly?
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saltpoint Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:26 AM
Response to Original message
10. I like Sinistrous' response to your question.
There is a skeptical response to events that can prove clarifying and beneficial to people. It's a safeguard against looking before one leaps, or in drawing back from the animal until you see if it has claws, etc.

And that sort of discerning regard could cut across more than one aspect of life, seems like.
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EST Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:27 AM
Response to Original message
11. I cannot speak for all atheists.
I do know, however, that pragmatic people who choose to resist the urge to have their lives directed by supernatural whim, who demand to be held responsible and accountable for their own actions, also tend to carry that same philosophy into other aspects of their lives.
Those same people tend to view others more respectfully, in most cases, than do some who like to consider themselves the beneficiaries of revealed truth.

There is no hard and fast rule that applies to everyone.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:40 AM
Response to Original message
12. You'd have to ask each individual atheist.
Contrary to popular belief, we're not monolithic in our thoughts about anything other than the lack of gods existing.

Overally I'd say we tend towards skepticism which is not really a dismissal of conspiracy theories but an unwillingness to accept them until adequate evidence is given. So yeah, it's a lot like the god question in that regard.
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:46 AM
Response to Reply #12
13. Hi, Trotsky
so therefore, even given the wide variety in styles of atheism there is probably or at least possibly some similarity in reasoning styles among most antheists?

Now here's an interesting thought... do atheists tend to clump in any particular vocations? Obviously not the clergy (although I'm not convinced there aren't a few), but the sciences? I'd say literature and music because I've read lists of musicians, playwrites, poets, etc. But that concept could be skewed because those areas tend to make people famous.

Interesting thoughts for a Monday morning.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:06 AM
Response to Reply #13
17. Like I said, overall we probably tend toward skepticism.
From the Celebrity Atheists list (http:/ ) I'd say we're found in just about every profession. I'm in a technical/computer field, myself. My local atheist group is pretty well-rounded too - postal carrier, teacher, researcher, writer, graphic designer - those are the ones I can think of off the top of my head. Oh yeah, and one is a former Catholic housewife who had a dozen kids!
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:58 AM
Response to Reply #12
16. How dare you
You are SOOOOOOOOO kicked out of the church. :evilgrin:

Do you actually like that new Vikings' helmet?
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:07 AM
Response to Reply #16
18. I'm trying to get used to it.
Don't even know if that's the final design yet, but it could be worse. At least they kept the horns.
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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 09:55 AM
Response to Reply #12
27. Yes, I just looked up Atheism on Wiki and see that there is
variation on how different people define atheism, it is much more individual than I thought.
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:51 AM
Response to Original message
14. a healthy skepticism is just that: Healthy
Edited on Mon Apr-17-06 07:54 AM by antifaschits
Rather than talk about beliefs, let's examine your question from the other end,

How likely is it that life exists in the universe. I suspect the harder, further and longer we look, the more likely we are to find it. It is simply a matter of scope.

the universe is more than 13 BILLION solar years old. After the big bang entire galaxies, solar systems and planets have formed, lived and died. We see clear indications of complex combinations of chemicals, even enough pure alcohol to fuel the biggest cosmic party imaginable. We see indications that complex chemicals form themselves in the glare of supernovas and the the cool of a universal vacuum. Of course life exists out there; with billions of galaxies, each of which contain billions of stars, the question is not if, but how many.
For proof, all we need to do is look at our pathetic little planet orbiting Sol. millions of years ago, plant and animal life developed in conditions we would consider unlivable and hostile. HUge fronds, toothless blind mud slugs, and weird fish that started to develop eyes and legs. Humanity has only been around for a very, very, very short time. Even more interesting is how long in our own brief history it has taken us to advance beyond hunter-gatherer tribes into something that can deal with relativity, string theory and can contemplate the age of the universe as well as the possibility of quantum computing. 100 yrs ago, most people still felt that man could not fly. 50 yrs ago, the idea of an internet or a laptop computer would get you thrown out of the pub as an idiot. 10 yrs ago, curing certain cancers and doing deliberate and helpful DNA modification wasn't even a pipe dream.

If man has been around for a couple of hundred thousand years, in less than 1/10 of 1% of that time, we have grown into a space-traveling, exploring, inquisitive animal, pushing the boundary in every field, but a few. Unfortunately, it is those fields which would offer the biggest hope for our world and our future. The current leadership would never stand for it, however.

Unfortunately, as Kansas, most of Florida and far too many village idiots in Congress and the Senate prove with each breath, we remain a backwards, superstitious, uneducated, religious, and fearful race, filled with bad ideas, controlled by false gods and their ludicrous books of worship and powered by truly laughable things like Faith and Prayer. Even when shown that these idiotic rituals fail to work time after time, all too many people, even those semi-educated, continue to practice them in the faint hope that their prayer will be answered.

In summary, we are immature, violent, and uncivilized when measured by even the most loose and basic scales; we fight among ourselves, wasting the very resources we seek; we practice active racism, how else could our treatment of an entire continent be explained? Yet, evidence of strange and different life is all around us. Right here. Right in front of our noses.

We see evolution working on micro scales in every infectious disease ward of every hospital. We see genetic manipulation proving evolution in every corn field. We see sulfur and heat loving worms thrive near undersea volcanoes. Does life exist elsewhere? of course it does.
So, it begs the question: Why do we not see it?

Precisely because we have Kansas, Florida, Congress, fundamentalism, christianity, racism, war and other evils to deal with first. We are too young, too immature. Once we grow up, or even show indications that we can be trusted with universal contacts and exchanges, they will occur. At this point, we are like a crawling 3 yr old who found a loaded gun with the safety off.

To truly become a mature species, we must stop war, we must stop religious training and replace it with education. We must fix out environment and treat our home with respect. we must guarantee food, housing, education, medical treatment for each and every individual, and end this self-destructive and short-sighted capitalistic system which drives the egos and wallets of the privileged few. We must research far more than we do in all fields, including social sciences and economics, with a goal of providing a chance for everyone. Can we do it? Of course. Will we do it, under the current leadership or practices? No way. Willful ignorance, greed, and religious ideas act like corrosives on our future. They must be dealt with first.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:20 AM
Response to Reply #14
21. Great post.
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eallen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 07:57 AM
Response to Original message
15. Rationalism is funny that way. Apply it one place, and soon it is a habit.
I don't believe space aliens are kidnapping people and (a) giving them rectal probes, (b) stealing them away for distant zoos, or (c) implanting their seed, to return them as pod people, and for the same reason I don't believe in Yahweh: no evidence. Of course, you asked about the possibility of extraterrestrials, which is a different matter. For that, you have to calculate the Drake Equation. There are a couple of terms there that are still hard to fix.

The problem with LIHOP is that its meaning is so fuzzy that virtually any slip-up prior to 9/11 can be claimed as evidence for it, which the conspiracist then uses to leap to the less proven claims that travel under that acronym. Sorry, but that's not rational.

I'll press two other points. First, conspiracy theorists have a strange understanding of what would make them right. If we are visited in our lifetime by an alien civilization, that will not corroborate all the many folks who have held a wide variety of views about extraterrestrial activity prior to that. To be factually right means being right on the details, not just adhering to a range of conspiracy theories, even if some future event could have been one of them.

Second, I think conspiracy theorists and cranks undermine the political parties they support. Not necessarily by much, since they generally are on the fringe, and everyone realizes that.
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moobu2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:19 AM
Response to Original message
20. With billions and billions
Of stars out there, and with a large number of them having planetary systems of some sort, the chances of some of them supporting some kind of life is there. I would say there is no proof of life, other than on earth, at this point, but the chances are high that there is some sort of life on another planet somewhere. Weve just begun to look in the last few decades. No, we havent been visited by any intelligent beings from outer space.

On the other hand, there is absolutely ZERO chance that corpses fly, Some invisible entity waved its hand and magically created everything in 6 days, burning bushes talk, a place called heaven exists, Someone answers magical incantations, someone flooded the earth, but notified one man who, built a ship who rescued 2 of every species etcNo chance whatsoever.
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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:23 AM
Response to Original message
22. Most atheists are rationalists...
and use logic and evidence rather than faith to come to a conclusion. I think most would see ET life as a possibility but alien abductions as bunk. As far as conspiracy theories, it would depend on evidence.

Regarding MIHOP/LIHOP, a rationalist would need to have certain questions answered like "who" in order to logically examine the evidence for both theories. Although most would find the official story just as illogical as some of the theories presented, jumping on bandwagons is not something rationalists are likely to do.

Wasting time evaluating evidence that comes to the conclusion that reptilian overlords directed 9/11 would not be rational.

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kahleefornia Donating Member (530 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:26 AM
Response to Original message
23. qualifying "conspiracy theories"
I think atheists would not dismiss an idea just because it was complicated, or unlikely, or far-fetched. The issue is with "supernatural" things. So, as an ateheist, I am more likely to not believe in ghosts than to not believe in a conspiracy theory. If someone presents a story about a kid who ate pop rocks and drank soda, and then his stomach exploded - well, that can be tested and investigated. So I would immediately place more credibility in that story than a story about a "god". (the pop-rocks story at least makes sense - it seems like it *could* happen)

So, gods - no, ghosts - no, Fraggles - no, ET - maybe, two shooters on the grassy knoll, maybe...etc.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 10:27 AM
Response to Reply #23
29. Well said.
Conflating of skepticism about the supernatural and skepticism about conspiracy theories, not to mention cryptozoology, UFOs and crop circles, is, IMO, disingenuous. UFOs exist - speculation of what they are is what generates theories. Crop circles happen - who makes them is the question. Unknown species have been discovered before. Bigfoot could physically exist in the environments in which he is supposed to live. There is a commonality of physical reality behind each of these.

Conspiracy theories exist because, in the past, conspiracies have existed. Conspiracy theories weigh in on ignored or overlooked evidence, consider the potentialities of coincidence and come to a conclusion that is at odds with the official version of what happened. The evidence could be wrong or misinterpreted, the coincidences could be simple coincidences, but that can only be known by thorough investigation.

Unexplained observed phenomena and conspiracy theories both look to evidential support. The supernatural looks to belief and faith, not evidence.
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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 01:32 PM
Response to Reply #29
30. It's too bad that your misunderstanding led you to take my
post as calculating which it was not. That wasn't very nice.

I think the question is simple (and as I said, I'm willing to be corrected by those who respond civilly).

Atheists do not believe in god(s) because of no evidence.

There is no evidence that extraterrestrials exist.

Do atheists believe there is the possibility of the existence of extraterrestrials?

It seems that the answers could be, 1.) no - there is no evidence 2.) I'm not ready to rule it out or in (IOW - I don't know) or 3.) yes it seems probable based on the vastness of the universe and how little we know of it (and whatever other factors)

Now I guess that if you were an atheist because you believed there was no evidence that god(s) exist but you were willing to accept the possibility of ETs without evidence that it could look like an inconsistency. It could. But so what?

It has no effect on me whatsoever if anyone is an atheist, agnostic or a believer because I don't even know what I am yet. I am just exploring ideas and wondering how other people think.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 02:32 PM
Response to Reply #30
31. I think you may have misunderstood the point I was making.
I was simply pointing out the apples/oranges of the two arguments.

I was not saying you were conflating them, but there are those who attack atheists in that way. My assumption was you had heard such an argument from a religionist and were asking about its validity from the atheist point of view.

Thus my response.

It is not a matter of atheists not believing because of no evidence, but not believing because of no possibility of evidence. To believe in the possibility of ETs all you have to do is calculate the possibility of intelligence arising somewhere other than on this particular rock, in all of the (possibly) infinite physical universe. The belief in the possibility of ETs is a direct outgrowth of our physical reality.

To believe in the possibility of god you have to postulate an unprovable existence beyond this realm, which runs on laws contrary to the laws of the physical universe, which can only be accessed after death; and then put god there. The belief in the possibility of a god has no discernible connection with our physical reality.

This is, of course, just one atheist's conclusion.

I do hope you recognize that I meant no offense nor any personal attack.
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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 03:25 PM
Response to Reply #31
36. No, the topic of religion is fairly new to me - I wasn't much
interested in the past - so I'm not familiar with rehashed arguments and I'm not interested in attacking people's beliefs or lack of beliefs.

I'm chewing on your ideas about no possibility of evidence for god(s) and the parameters of et life.
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 02:40 PM
Response to Reply #30
32. I am not sure I agree with your logic.
Does alien life exist? Sure. Are WE developed enough to understand their signals? No. Are we mature enough to deal with them? No. Is it possible that they are here now, but hidden with technology so far advanced, that to us they are undetectable? Sure. We probably look like an interesting pet to them.

Take a rain forest. (if bush keeps any alive) Take a tribe that has never seen the modern world. Why not use your cell phone or your WiFi laptop to tell them how to build a better mouse trap or a nuclear power generator? You think you will have any success? Hardly.
Our problem is that we don't have advanced enough means to listen, much less talk to true space travelers. Once we have a better understanding of string theory, with the multiple dimensions, find a workable method of bending space or building wormholes, use virtual particles to exceed the speed of light in communications, or even travel in the dimension of time, THEN all the proof will be obvious, even to the fundies.

But right at this moment, despite huge strides over the last 75 years or so, our technological prowess is mainly backwards and extraordinarily simple. Think about space. the first workable rockets were fired in WWII, merely 60 years ago by the losing side in a world war. It took us until the 1960s, only 40 years ago, to set man into a close earth orbit, and even more recently to our closest neighbor, a moon, no less. Only a decade ago did our first Mars missions start seeing success. And only this year have we come close to reaching the final barrier where our little sun's radiation begins to fade. Space explorers? Hell, no. We haven't even gotten out of our caves yet. Our knuckles are dragging low enough to leave marks. Even for that we need to use a rudimentary robot, because our technology is too undeveloped so far.
Fire still evokes the idea of magic and thunder is STILL blamed on some non-existant god-creature's bowling alley. We are so socially undeveloped that we are still re-fighting battles with religious bigots about how much we permit them to brainwash their youth, (extending their unfortunate damage to ever more generations of unthinking religious idiots).

And on top of all that, the changes that we take for granted today are so huge compared to 100 years ago, that our society has been completely unable to grasp just how far we have leaped in one generation. For we have people living with us who were born in a time, even in this country, where there was no electricity (nor use for it), no running water, no sense of hygiene, no medicine, no ideas about our universe, but for the ramblings of some eccentric german jew patent clerk who shook up our entire universe. Literally.

our biggest problem is staying alive through the era of Bush. Sometime in the future, the confluence and diverging interests - in this case, between the oil-based capitalist power brokers like Cheney, RUmmie and others, and the heavy hitters in the religious brain-washing pogroms, AND the rest of us, especially here at DU - all of these will have battled for our future, for our soul. It may be a long battle, or we may win out soon. It depends on us. When, not if we win, the religious will be vanquished, the capitalists will be in prison and rational thinking will be our goal.
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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 02:49 PM
Response to Reply #32
33. I read the words and don't necessarily disagree with you so
I'm questioning what logic you are disagreeing with.
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ChairmanAgnostic Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #33
35. implicit in your post is a viewpoint concerning that god critter, ET and
My point is this.
Our history in this universe in painfully small.
Our knowledge base is even smaller.
The time that we have had as a sentient race is so small as to be invisible to the rest of the universe, even if they are watching and listening.
Our trips off our planet are child's play so far. We haven't finished crawling yet, much less being out of diapers.
between the vastness of time, the vastness of space and the great likelihood that any alien technology ready and able to perceive us is so far advanced that we are blind to their presence even now.

Our greatest opportunity is mixed in with our greatest threat. Global warming and Iraq, Bushistas and fundamentalist religions, - these are all symptoms. Our opportunity now is to set our world on the proper path. It will require a major change in our approach to living. But it will be healthier, happier and better for everyone. The threat we face, the danger that lurks is the present system, controlled and operated by our current leaders. They have to be removed before they do more danger. That will take a revolution in politics and society. A quiet, peaceful, and hopeful revolution. We know who the enemy is. IN the White House.
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bettyellen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:29 AM
Response to Original message
24. lack of evidence? more like lots of evidence that there's no one upstairs
watching over and protecting anyone. too many holes in that story. life is way to unfair, too many cruel people are rewarded for it to seem anything but random.
i can see how most people NEED a god to explain things and especially, to comfort them.
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Klapaucius Donating Member (135 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 09:03 AM
Response to Original message
26. Well, speaking purely from my own viewpoint....
I am of the opinion that if someone could show me empirical evidence, I might believe it. However, what is being passed off by organized religion, and not so organized spirituality, is taking an assortment of data and trying to draw a pattern where there isn't one. I think one of the most compelling arguments against the existence has to do with the fact that a number of the religions are more cultural in origin. You don't see a child growing up Christian, if they have Hindi parents, or Muslim if they have Buddhist parents. You could say that perhaps one's faith may be a choice, in much the same way that some folk of faith denigrate the GLBT community because they think that their orientation is a choice.

I'd like to think that there's someone somewhere who's powerful and watches over us, but I just don't see it. If you've ever listened to George Carlin... "I tried, but the longer you live, the more you look around, the more you realize that something is f*cked up". I see folks who live for their supposed next life who are unwilling to work to making this life better, for everyone. I see folks who use faith to create divisions, I see people who justify their hate of minorities, be it race/religion/orientation, etc., on the basis of their faith, and then declare that "He" is a "God of Love". I see the folks in the current administration who seem so enamored of the end times beliefs, that they are willing to seemingly move to set what they feel are the initial conditions for their version of the Apocalypse, and that, frankly, scares the living crap out of me. And what's even scarier, nobody is calling them on it! I'm of the opinion that faith needs to be questioned, otherwise it just degrades into magical thinking and navel-gazing. I'm of the opinion that organized religion has done much to feed the hate and discontent between people. Well over 2000 years have passed in the Middle East, and they're both still feuding over who's version of God is better than the others, and using their holy books to justify the most horrible atrocities, while mouthing the platitude that their god is great and beneficent. Keep in mind that the holy books have been translated and edited ( most times to support the current dogma of the church ) a number of times over those years.

That being said, I lean more towards the belief that such a deity doesn't exist, because I don't see the evidence for it. I'm not willing to completely discount it yet, because something still may happen which would convince me. On the days that I'm feeling more cynical, I'm of the opinion that organized religion is a tool to manipulate people into doing something detrimental to their own interests.

Regarding extraterrestrials.... I think it's the height of hubris to assume that we are the only intelligent life in the universe. They may be in the same boat as we are. They may have lived, had faith, and died, because they couldn't get past that faith, and used it as justification for extermination and the like, in much the same manner we seem to have done with the 'Ethnic Cleansings', a fancy term for genocide. They may be far more advanced than us, or inimical to us. They may find us amusing, with our beliefs in supreme beings. They may choose not to speak to us because of this, knowing the danger that irrational thinking poses to anyone who opposes it. They may not even be aware of us, may be thousands of light-years away, and limited by lightspeed, as we are. It's a nice thought, but as yet, no data to support the existence of them. I like the idea of extraterrestrials... It might humble us if we were to find out that we're not particularly special. I think that people have faith, because they do want to feel special.

I know that I am not an outstanding specimen of humanity, but I enjoy what I have of my life. I've met a young lady with whom I have a deep connection. She's not religious, and shares a number of the same viewpoints, and I feel my life is getting better because she makes me feel special, and I do my best to make her feel special. I wish I had met her 20 years ago, my life would've taken a much different course. Every moment that I spend with her is a moment of my life well spent. I do not need more than that. I am content with it. And when my time comes and it is the end of my life, I will be happy to pass away, having known good people, and having tried to make things better than they were when I was young.

As for MIHOP or LIHOP, I think that it is possible, but not likely. MIHOP, in my opinion, is completely out in la-la land, requires too much coordination. People only work together for a common goal when disaster strikes or their way of life is threatened. Otherwise, people's egos get in the way and there are far too many personality conflicts for it to be a coordinated plan to make it happen, in the way that some folks think it may have occurred ( planting explosives, etc. ). At best, it may have been provoked, but directing the way in which it occurred, is highly unlikely. LIHOP, however, is a bit more believable, but again, I haven't seen much in the way of real documented proof from either camp, and the current administration is so secretive as to make it difficult to determine. However, I can easily believe that someone was aware, somewhere of what was going to happen, and chose not to address it or inform the correct folks, on the basis that it would further their agenda. The PNAC paper seems almost like a blueprint in that respect. Use a major disaster as justification for expansionism and consolidation of power, at the price of human life, and all you have to do is to ignore the warnings. It's cynical, and a move I would not be surprised at, if the end goal was to consolidate power. About 3000 people lost their lives that day, but it's a drop in the bucket compared to the 300 million in the US today. It's a very small percentage. To be honest, it's the sort of thing I could see the current VP doing. I have no proof of it, so I will reserve my judgement on the matter. If, at some later date, it becomes apparent that the LIHOP scenario is true, I will argue loudly for the punishment of those responsible.

Finally... regarding conspiracy theories, meh. It's nothing but magical thinking until such point as the theory can be *PROVEN*. I have no doubt that there are conspiracies of various sorts, but not everything is a conspiracy. Get back to me when you have cold hard facts, and not just baseless speculation or abject paranoia. Unfortunately, there are folk on our side who believe in such things, absent the lack of any proof to support the claims, and those extreme viewpoints are used to vilify the Democratic party as a party of whackos. It's a good thing to have an open mind about such things, but it should not be so open as to let things fall out, like reason and common sense. Can it be proved that Bush was coordinating MIHOP or LIHOP? Not likely. Can we agree that he's made a number of poor decisions that affect a great number of people in a negative manner, and that seem to be almost detrimental to anyone other than his corporate, religious-right, and superrich bases? I think so. If he is to be spoken about, then it should be about the things which he has done which he can be proven, not those things we think that he's capable of. I think that we can agree that we've been tricked into a war that we did not need, because of cherry-picking of evidence. I think that's something that we can speak out about, but to say that he had people plant explosives in the WTC towers and remote controls in the planes, is baseless speculation. Perhaps in a number of years, it may be found in some archive that it was done in that way, but we cannot prove it today.

His poor choices in how to prosecute that war, the egregious violations of civil and human rights, those are things that are staring us in the face, and need to be addressed. The fact that nuclear strikes are being considered for Iran is another thing that needs to be addressed. We have enough ammunition with his current actions to seriously question his motives and sanity, we do not need to bring in currently unproveable conspiracy theories on an equal footing with his current actions and choices, it serves no other purpose other than to make *ALL* of our ideas come off as being whacko. Capone was a murderer, yes? What did they finally get him on? Income tax. Choose those things that will be obvious to Joe Sixpack. Gas prices, putting Joe's son in harms way in Iraq, for no clear reason, when the majority of the hijackers came from a completely different country. Joe's son coming back from Iraq, and there's no money to replace the leg that he lost. Those are the sort of things that the party needs to address.

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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 10:16 AM
Response to Reply #26
28. Yes, I like the idea of extraterrestrials too. We certainly have
a long history of believing that everything is centered around us and the existence of extraterrestrials might shake that up. What the reaction of us earthlings might be would be interesting, I imagine it would depend on whether it was a higher or lower life form. My astronomy professor told me that if ETs were discovered, scientists already have a process in place to communicate this to the general public if governments try to suppress the info.

Thanks for your thoughtful response.
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Inland Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 03:13 PM
Response to Original message
34. By definition, no.
As has been beaten to death, atheism is, by definition, not believing in a deity. We have had many, many, many angry posts insisting on just that point.

What you are thinking of is skepticism, or perhaps empiricism, neither one of which is by definition or by common sense a corollary of atheism or being an atheist.

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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 03:55 PM
Response to Reply #34
38. I've got it. Fortunately plenty of people understood what
I was trying to ask, even with my poor choice of words. :-)

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manic expression Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 03:47 PM
Response to Original message
37. Like love? n/t
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Proud_Democratt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 05:20 PM
Response to Original message
39. I saw a UFO, about 2 years ago
for a total of 4-5 minutes.
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YankeyMCC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 05:38 PM
Response to Original message
40. For myself
The short answer is yes, the same standard applies to everything. So in generally I'm skeptical and personally I can't think of any 'conspiracy theory' I put any stock in. We'd have to discuss specifics though for me to make any sort of judgment, if there is even enough data to make any sort of judgment.

That said I'm still a human being - yes really - and I have my biases like anyone else. The question of extraterrestrials is probably one area where my skepticism is somewhat hindered by my hopes. I don't think they've ever visited us (way to expensive to come all the way just to look at us naked apes much around on our particular speck of rock) but I'd say I lean toward believing there is extraterrestrial life despite the lack of direct evidence, I put my stock in statistics basically. But I recognize that this is largely built on hope and I remain or at least try to remain open minded and skeptical of any evidence that might come up to prove their existence and I realize that I might have to eventually accept that we are the only life form like us (which could mean the other intelligences are just to different from us for us to recognize).
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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-18-06 05:59 AM
Response to Reply #40
43. Yes, I think hopes and desire are part of it. I have no attachment to the
idea that we are unique, I think it would be cool if life was found outside our planet. It's interesting that you say you might have to accept we are the only life form, I'm not sure how scientists would close that question.
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Proud_Democratt Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Apr-17-06 08:09 PM
Response to Original message
42. Atheism is lack of belief in any higher power or gods...
maybe you're looking for "skepticism"?
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seaglass Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-18-06 06:05 AM
Response to Reply #42
44. Yes, I realized that I wasn't clear in my wording but skepticism
is not really what I was looking for. When I think of skepticism, I think of doubts about whatever the idea is that is presented. I would associate that more with agnoticism. Atheism seems to have doubt removed - it is certainty.

It would have been a better question if I knew that the people I was asking had thought about the question of ETs and could talk about their thought processes to get to their belief or non-belief.

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LiberalVoice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-18-06 10:46 AM
Response to Original message
45. What does MIHOP/LIHOP have to do with it?
Totally different circumstances. LIHOP/MIHOP has everything to do with the fact that the official govt explanation with regards to 9/11 doesn't hold up to the evidence. THEY ARE LYING TO COVER SOMETHING UP. Does that mean they knew about it in advance? No not necessarily. But when you connect the dots it seems more and more likely that they did. Therefore they either LIHOPed or MIHOPed.
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simonm Donating Member (386 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Apr-18-06 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
46. We are not all the same
Edited on Tue Apr-18-06 02:04 PM by simonm
The subjects you mentioned are dismissed by many because of the "nutty" factor. Who wants to be ridiculed for considering little green men and black budget government programs? Amusingly, these subjects become serious when the facts and implications are investigated.

Here is my reasoning in a nutshell,

Some of the technological concepts behind UFO flying saucers are provable and remains in the public domain. It wouldn't surprise me if the military controls the crafts behind UFO sightings.

See /

As for civilizations on other planets, I think there is a good chance they exist when we consider all the galaxies out there in space. Having the capability to visit us is a different matter. The odds are lower but still possible.

Our knowledge of science would look like child's play compared to an advanced civilization thousands of years old. Just look at our own technological rate of progress and multiply it by 10.

Some government conspiracies have been proven disturbingly true throughout history. Here are a few examples:

A History of Secret Human Experimentations

I'm 87% MIHOP because there is overwhelming evidence of foreknowledge and the collapses displayed characteristics consistent with controlled demolitions (WTC 1, 2 and 7). Combine that with the 9/11 omission report and you have a recipe for government conspiracy.

Edit: See 9/11 timeline at
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Intransigent Atheist Donating Member (12 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Apr-19-06 11:12 AM
Response to Original message
47. Well, I'm an atheist....
and I've been a very skeptical person my entire life. I'm this way about God, lake monsters, extra terrestrials, anything that would require some pretty extraordinary evidence to prove. While I might like the idea of some of these things, I don't believe they are true. I think people believe what they need to believe and that's ok. I've had more than a couple of religious people tell me they feel sorry for me for not having any beliefs.
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