BigBallinStalin wrote: john9blue wrote:
BigBallinStalin wrote:Even worse, he doesn't seem to care to understand. He's had this position about religion being the moral fabric, and it failed earlier (from what I recall). He's not going to clarify himself ITT, and I doubt he'll take crispybits' positions into account, so ten months from now j9b will be back to say how atheism is the destroyer of civilization and blah blah blah.
i don't think anyone's argument failed. i can't prove that atheism will have a negative effect on civilization, and he can't prove otherwise. i think the lack of successful atheist societies counts as proof, and he doesn't.
Y'all two are mired in the problem of demonstrating a counterfactual. It's impossible, so a better approach is to argue about the key elements which account for greater success* in atheist societies** compared to theist societies***.,
*what are the criteria for success?
**what exactly is an atheist society? Why not include atheist groups?
***(same questions about the nefarious use of the word 'society').
My question: What kind of institutions (rules of the game) does each group use which in turn leads to greater benefits (or success) for a given group or particular region?
In my opinion, answering the above would better reveal an answer. Without answering those questions, then progress won't be attained.
(For example, Max Weber had an article about the Protestant work ethic. He argued that because the Protestants valued labor/individual responsibility due to their particular religious system, then they performed better than Catholics and those groups without such a religiously enforced work ethic). That's one way of doing that.
OK, I'll bite and go first for atheism (though I do not do so with delusions of grandeur of being some sort of spokesman for a larger group but rather just expressing my own opinion about my own kind of atheism, just like nobody, not even the pope himself, can claim to speak for all christianity)What kind of institutions (rules of the game) does each group use which in turn leads to greater benefits (or success) for a given group or particular region?
It's not easy to do this given that atheism holds no real philosophy of it's own, it's a simple state of disbelief in unsubstantiated God myths due to a lack of evidence. As such any list of rules which I write will be highly tied into other philosophies such as empiricism, humanism or noncognitivism. Other atheists may disagree with some of these rules, we do not after all have a single source such as the bible for our claims or counter-claims. An atheist debating a catholic will use different tactics and arguments compared to an atheist debating with a wiccan, a buddhist or a taoist. But I will try and distil out the basic tenets common to atheist argument wherever we find it:
1. Think critically - whenever presented with a truth claim, assess the claim based on evidence, probability, consistency and the authority of the claimant.
2. Start always from a position of disbelief - a claim must be substantiated or verified (or the opposite) before it can be said to have a truth value.
3. Nothing is sacred - any claim should be subjected to testing and debate, no claim should be immune from criticism.
4. Be explicit and clear - when making or evaluating a claim, ensure that all sides are working from the same definitions and avoid / eliminate ambiguity and vagueness.
5. Search for truth - the ultimate end goal of religious debate is to find the truth, not to inflate egos or to do harm to believers' egos.
6. Remain open-minded - the enemy of progress is dogma, always be willing to admit, even if only to yourself, that you may be wrong in your position.
7. Be honest - don't take a position you do not believe just to cause or continue a debate, simply argue for what you actually believe.
8. Avoid fallacy - do not use discredited forms of argument such as ad hominem or circular reasoning and highlight them when you see them, they are not the path to truth.
Now there's probably more I could add there, and I'll probably think of another one as soon as I hit the submit button, but as a first position if we're taking the debate down those lines it's a good start. As for the benefits these rules will bestow upon wider society, it is based around the same principles as the enlightenment about allowing free exchange of ideas, of voluntary devotion to ideas, and of open criticism of ideas. It allows freedom to believe in anything anyone wants to, and freedom for anyone else to find it ridiculous.
By opening up the realm of "allowed belief" to anything on a personal level, society gives itself the greatest chance of developing in every way that people can conceive of being of benefit to that society. If someone thinks that society is lacking in medical advancement due to the rejection of natural drugs, then they can go off and learn about traditional natural remedies and they can campaign for or market them, and if they are effective then society will take them up. If someone thinks that society is lacking in music, then they can learn to play an instrument, and they are free to take that instrument and play it for the pleasure of themselves and others. And if someone decides that society is lacking in religious faith, then they can pick up one of the various holy books that litter the entire world, and they can preach the message of religious salvation.
The important bit though, is that by these rules everyone else is allowed, actually everyone else has a moral duty, to challenge all of these claims, to do their own research to discredit natural remedies, to write reviews about music saying they did not enjoy it, or to call religion a fairy tale. Without this challenge and critique we do not advance towards any truth, we do not advance towards a better society, we just sit in our corners stagnating in our own positions. The mechanisms by which we intellectually challenge each other bring us closer together far more effectively than the mechanisms by which we support each other. I will learn more from a debate with someone diametrically opposed to my personal philosophy than I will from a circle-jerk with someone who agrees with me on every issue. (that's why I love these kinds of thread)
The criteria for success in a society is that the society should be the happiest and the most honest society possible, where everyone has freedom of thought, emotion and expression, and life, liberty and equality for all. And on that criteria open discourse on all subjects is far more effective than any form of dogma (be that religious or secular).