chang50 wrote: Correct,an evolutionary process,the UK of the 50's I was born into was different to the one I left 50 years later,only time will answer John's question.He is right to say it has not happened anywhere yet,probably not even N.Korea,certainly not China or the old Soviet bloc countries.Funny how something essentially noble and worthy like freethinking can be dismissed in such a negative way by someone pretending to know what most of it's practitioner's actually think.
i don't hate freethinking, i just hate people who preach a dogmatic version of atheism under the deceiving banner of "freethought" (not necessarily referring to you here, btw)
i hate them in much the same way that i hate the republican party for taking the "tea party" banner from ron paul supporters and turning it into their own neocon astroturf movement.
john9blue wrote:i never said religion was the only way to acquire moral values. but it is a popular and effective way.
And going to the gym is a popular and effective way of keeping fit, but if all the people of the world stopped using gyms tomorrow it does not follow that the world would get less fit as a result of this.
Your argument is a good example of the fallacy of the single cause. A causes X. A is decreasing. Therefore X will decrease. It fails to take into account the other variables where B causes X, C causes X, etc etc.
When something is lacking in society from one source, often it will be compensated for by other sources. For example in a state where universal healthcare had been provided by the government, and the government stops providing universal healthcare, more charities may spring up to assist people who cannot pay for healthcare with getting the treatment they need, or more affordable insurance plans may be developed by profit-seeking corporations which would provide for the basic needs of policy holders, or more web based resources may be developed to assist people in diagnosing and treating simple ailments themselves without having to pay for a doctor, etc etc.
So I'll ask again, for the true consequences of a decline in religiosity, can you name any value/values that are exclusively religious and which cannot be imbued by secular means? These are the values that you are on solid ground in arguing would be removed from society by a removal of religion, and if you can think of some good ones then I may change my position that religion causes far more harm than good and should be removed from society completely.
i never said any values would be removed from society completely. they would just be less influential.
your fallacy would only apply if i claimed religion to be the sole source of moral values, which i denied in the exact post that you quoted.
oh and yes, if everyone stopped going to the gym then we would all get less fit, on average, as a result.
Haggis_McMutton wrote:Ah, we've found one area where you are more optimistic about people's reasoning than me.
Most of the 100% people are so terrified from long childhood years of hearing horror stories about hell and the consequences of disbelief that they won't be able to even entertain the question seriously. They will basically refuse to even contemplate the option that they might be wrong at all.
Most people don't even think about stuff like this, much less engage in debate about it. Isn't the old advice something like "don't talk about religion or politics at parties"? There's a reason for that.
If you try to press a 100% person, what's almost certainly gonna happen is not him admitting that he might be wrong, but him immediately extricating himself from that conversation while giving you a look as if you suggested double teaming his mother.
I think I've adequately explained how I view the distinction between gnostic and agnostic. The distinction is between those who are able to admit they might be wrong and those who must delude themselves that they're certainly right. You're, of course, free to use your own definition, but I think both the etymology of the term, as well as practicality favour my definition. (the practicality being that if someone says they're agnostic, by my definition, then they've probably spend some amount of time thinking about the issue and are mature enough to accept they don't hold absolute truth about the nature of reality)
some of this may arise from the fact that most christians you've met are intolerant fundamentalists, whereas most christians i've met are open-minded about their religion. i don't know you though, so i can't say for sure.
also, doesn't the fact that more christians are converting to atheism than vice versa indicate that christians are less certain of their worldview than atheists are? keep in mind that being more certain doesn't mean you're more likely to be wrong, it just means that you're less likely to change your views (and statistically, atheists are less likely, compared to christians)
Haggis_McMutton wrote:Out of curiosity, gimme a ballpark figure on the existence of the abrahamic god. (for me, it would be way bellow 1%, maybe more around 10^-6 )
hah, i have no idea. i'd say less than 50%, probably less than 10%. depends on whether you think the abrahamic god has to have all the traits described in the old testament. if so, then i'd say even less. i think you have to give some points to christianity for being so incredibly successful for the past few millennia.
Haggis_McMutton wrote:Only if you assign infinitely more value to the afterlife than the real life, I guess.
Still in reality people aren't cold calculating machines like that. In reality the distinction between 100% sure and 99% sure is that the 99% sure guy at least entertains the idea that he might be wrong, and that can be a powerful catalyst. It might lead to further introspection, it might lead to looking for further sources of knowledge outside of the places he usually looks.
Let's remember that people we're freaking the f*ck out about the imagined 1 in a million shot of the LHC creating a black hole. The difference between certainty and uncertainty is a huge one in most people's minds, as most people haven't actually thought about stuff like "every time I go out to the shop I'm taking a chance of getting killed on my way there".
well (difficult as it is assigning probabilities to people's beliefs) keep in mind that you're 100 times more likely to change the mind of a 90% sure christian than a 99.9% sure christian. and i think you'd consider the 90% guy to be a pretty hardcore christian if you had a discussion with him. even though there are some ridiculously stubborn and brainwashed people out there, i just don't think it's possible for anyone to be 100% sure, because only a sith deals in absolutes.
Haggis_McMutton wrote:Probably, but then we've probably had most discussions that are vaguely related to religion.
Anyway, the practical evidence is that the expressed decline in atheism over the last century or two has, if anything, been correlated with improvements in society. And it has been a big decline (for instance, wikipedia says that in the Czech Republic, 19% of people believe in an actual god, 50% believe in a "spirit or life force" and the rest believe in neither)
specifically which improvements in society? are these improvements more significant than the improvements that have taken place over the past few millennia, when the vast majority of the world was still religious?
Haggis_McMutton wrote:The theoretical argument only works if you have a extremely cynical view of not only humanity today, but also humanity's potential. It really only makes sense if you honestly believe that: "well sure, you and I can be good without the threat of hell, but that would never work for the unwahsed masses".
I don't see much evidence to support such a cynical view. As just one piece of evidence, look at how the moral view of slavery has evolved. Why exactly should the religious moral views not undergo a similar evolution? (and btw. this extremely cynical view kinda clashes with the optimistic view you seem to have of people in regard to them admitting their imperfect knowledge)
well firstly, people's moral views of slavery weren't the backbone of their moral compass. in fact, one could easily interpret some of jesus' teachings as a condemnation of slavery, so it's not difficult to transition a society's views on slavery as long as they keep their basic moral principles and just interpret them a bit differently.
secondly, i wasn't talking about getting people to openly admit imperfect knowledge, i was talking about their privately-held beliefs. if an ultra-devout christian had occasional genuine moments of doubt, then i don't think they would share them with some stranger asking them about their religion.
thirdly, i don't think human nature can change as rapidly as you'd like. we are selfish creatures who form mutually beneficial partnerships and are predisposed to bend our behavior and our beliefs quite far in order to maintain these partnerships. the only way i can see a fully atheist society without a breakdown in civil order is by having an incredibly huge partnership which can apply enough pressure to enough people to function as a moral backbone on its own (e.g. a hugely powerful and influential government), which i'm obviously not a fan of.
Haggis_McMutton wrote:Y'know, the fact that their values are based on cultural norms doesn't disprove freethinking. It is actually possible to critically consider the cultural norms and decide that many of them are quite good. To be a freethinker you don't necessarily have to reject all society and live as a hermit on some mountain for 10 years while devising your own ideal ethical system.
i kinda don't buy this, since i think a lot of our cultural norms don't really make sense. i'm sure you've felt the same way.
chang50 wrote: That didn't hurt did it?
Now we are on an equal footing can you explain why you believe I'm not an agnostic atheist?Like you I can see some good in the idea of Christianity.But I can also see much bad,the idea of redemption appalls me for example,but I am not an antitheist,or even a gnostic atheist.Since you take issue with how I describe my position I can equally see a problem with someone claiming a tendencey to leave Christian apologetics to others then fairly regularly indulging in them.Some might say reading your posts you appear to be a Christian with serious reservations.Would that be fair?
i'm more of a theist apologist then a christian apologist.
and i don't know exactly how agnostic you are about your atheism, but you obviously aren't a complete agnostic since you're willing to go online and try to convince people to reject a belief in god like you have.