john9blue wrote: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.
This is possible. Though there's a distinction in my mind between actual fundamentalists and people who are sort of just content with their delusion of certainty and so don't want to think about it and just get on with their lives (I think there's a lot more of this second group)
john9blue wrote: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)
I dunno, it seems like a more complex issue. One question would be how many atheists inherited their atheism from their parents. I'm guessing it's a much smaller percentage than for Christians. One could argue that more Christians switch because their belief is something they just inherited, not something they actually critically analysed and chose for themselves.
john9blue wrote: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.
You seem to be trying to devise some kind of objective belief-o-meter and say that according to this objective measure no one can be 100% sure of anything.
What I'm saying is that whatever pseudo-objective evaluation of belief you might come up with is not what matters, what matters is each person's subjective evaluation of their own belief. And according to their subjective evaluations there definitely are a lot of people who think they're certain about their chosen deity. Do you really not believe this is true?
Btw. a 90% believer would seem pretty tolerant to me. We seem to have different evaluations of these things. But saying there's a 1 in 10 chance that you've got it all wrong about some of the most important questions one can ask (and that therefore some percentage of your life is based on bullshit) seems like a pretty humble thing to say to me. I really wish that all the people who think they've figured out fundamental truths @ the nature of reality, the best system of government, social policy and whatever else would be only 90% sure of their views.
john9blue wrote: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?
Slavery? Civil rights? Spread of democracy?
Don't really know enough about history to answer the second one. What were the big advances between, say, 1000 BC and the enlightenment ?
Anyway, I'm not actually claiming that atheism caused an improve in society, just that there's absolutely no evidence of the converse (that atheism hurts society).
john9blue wrote: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.
I don't get this. Based on this logic wouldn't you expect a higher proportion of atheists to be criminals?
Why don't you think cultural and societal norms (+ legal enforcement of a normal non-1984 government) would be enough to keep people from raping and pillaging? Why are those things sufficient to make the atheists of today behave but they wouldn't work for the atheists of the future?
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.
Well, there's the silly/stupid things here and there, but overall I'd say we're doing pretty well on the theoretical side of the things. Actually applying the norms in practice seems like more of a problematic area for current society, but so it goes I guess.