Absurd is the Word

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This topic contains 74 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  PopeBeanie 8 months, 2 weeks ago.

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  • #41858

    Istvan
    Participant

    Hello, folks!

    I’m a lifelong atheist, raised in a Catholic family but never particularly religious. I discovered the existentialists in college and have been nonreligious ever since.

    After 9/11 I went through a phase where I became a not-always-pleasant New Atheist type, but my trip on the science bro bandwagon didn’t last long. The existentialist in me was constantly cringing at my own bad faith pronouncements and losing patience with God-is-God-ain’t debates. I’ve been a moderator on various discussion boards, blogged for Patheos Nonreligious for a few years, and am still a voracious reader of philosophy, science and literature.

    Looking forward to having some interesting discussions. Is anyone reading anything interesting these days?

    #41862

    Autumn
    Participant
    Welcome!

    After 9/11 I went through a phase where I became a not-always-pleasant New Atheist type, but my trip on the science bro bandwagon didn’t last long. The existentialist in me was constantly cringing at my own bad faith pronouncements and losing patience with God-is-God-ain’t debates.

    On the bright side, my experience of that time frame is that you’d likely have been labelled a New Atheist whether you fit the bill or not. Might as well have racked up the experience and perspective along with the rep.

    I’ve mostly been reading fantasy novels of late, the sort of worlds you can just drift into for a while when you need a break from this one. My non-fiction reading was often concerned with particular legislation, politicized subject matters, and relevant research publications. The last book I read (apart from the afore mentioned fantasy) was 21 Things You May Not Know About the Indian Act which is a very accessible primer on Canadian history concerning the Indigenous Peoples and how they were treated and regulated. (spoiler alert: that shit was fucked up). Next up is Dreyer’s English, An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style.

    #41866

    Strega
    Moderator

    Hello Istvan and welcome to AZ!

    Once you’ve got your bearings, check out the group “Sunday School” which is curated by the amazing Reg the Fronkey Farmer every week.

    There you will find topical links and book recommendations all fresh weekly.

    I look forward to hearing from you on the forums 🙂

    Strega

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Strega.
    #41869

    Simon Paynton
    Participant

    I’ve used New Atheism, and the debate between Christians and atheists about morality, and the theories put forward by Richard Dawkins about genetics, as a springboard to discovering moral theory from an evolutionary ethics perspective.  I have a new website here (I’m trying to get it onto Google).  I’ve found loads of material in Sunday School that has been helpful.

    #41870

    Istvan
    Participant

    Thanks for the warm welcome, everyone!

    All I meant by the New Atheist reference is that I’m not an antitheist anymore. I don’t see religion as a set of literal claims about the world that can be judged true or false the same way as claims about natural phenomena or history. I don’t claim that my worldview is a matter of “following the evidence” or that it’s a mere lack of religious belief, I take responsibility for it as deriving from what I already believe about things like agency, history, anthropology, and psychology.

    And I have to say, I’m much less enamored of Hitchens, Dawkins and Harris than I was when I was in my where’s-your-evidence phase.

    #41871

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Istvan, care to elaborate?

    From my vantage religion is making literal claims. Whether it is or is not is not germane to antitheism. I judge of religion from the perspective-what is it, what is its nature, what does it do? Am curious where you are coming from…

    #41872

    Davis
    Moderator

    where’s-your-evidence phase

    So what phase are you in? Is it a: “whatever sounds good to me” phase? “Whatever someone I admire says” phase? Some other phase we would love to hear about?

     don’t see religion as a set of literal claims about the world

    How did you arrive at that conclusion? The overwhelming majority of adherents of religions including leaders, religious scholars, thinkers etc at the very minimum hold some of their statements as “literal”. How does it work where you disagree with the crux of a religion and almost all of their adherents that their literal statements aren’t actually literal? For example if 999 out of 1000 Muslims tell you “I absolutely believe a divine being created us and listens to our every thoughts, that this isn’t a metaphor and that this absolutely is what this religion is about since its conception until now”, how do you justify saying: actually no…you have it wrong…you aren’t making a literal statement there?

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Davis.
    #41874

    Istvan
    Participant

    Religion isn’t about generating reliable knowledge, it represents things like meaning, identity, authority and community. And I’d never deny that that can be a bad thing as well as a good one, but it’s important to take it on its own terms.

     

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Davis.
    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Davis.
    #41877

    Autumn
    Participant

    How did you arrive at that conclusion? The overwhelming majority of adherents of religions including leaders, religious scholars, thinkers etc at the very minimum hold some of their statements as “literal”.

    I wonder how much regional variation we get on this. When it comes to the brand of Christian I encounter today, they seem to believe in a fairly nebulous god hiding out somewhere just beyond the even horizon. Jesus existed in some form and communicated a message of peace,  love, and forgiveness. Admittedly, the cross section of Christians I meet is far from statistically significant, but despite some metaphysical claims that are way too out there for my tastes, there appears to be a growing contingent that isn’t all that strict about biblical literacy and generally is on board with science despite sprinkling a little sprinkling of deity on top of it all.

    #41878

    Davis
    Moderator

    note to mod: I hit edit instead of reply to Istvan’s message and I don’t have emails of posts, could someone restore his original message please?

    #41879

    Davis
    Moderator

    there appears to be a growing contingent that isn’t all that strict about biblical literacy

    Indeed, that is why I said “at least some” instead of all. Some religions are more nebulous about some claims than others, or the totality of claims that are important. However, when you no longer hold a certain number of core claims as literal, you can no longer be a meaningful adherent of a religion or ideology. I am simply replying to the fairly outrageous blanket statement “I don’t see religion as a set of literal claims about the world that can be judged true or false the same way as claims about natural phenomena or history” especially considering the scale of texts and the amount of time adherents have spent trying to rationalise their literal claims.

    • This reply was modified 8 months, 3 weeks ago by  Davis.
    #41881

    Istvan
    Participant

    However, when you no longer hold a certain number of core claims as literal, you can no longer be a meaningful adherent of a religion or ideology.

    I don’t see why not. Daniel Dennett observed that from the point of view of the religion, there’s no difference between a Muslim who prays five times a day because he literally believes in a literal Allah and the literal truth of every word of the Koran, and a Muslim who prays five times a day because that’s what Muslims do. It’s the behavior that religion motivates that perpetuates the construct; the beliefs themselves, and people’s belief in their literal validity, are beside the point.

    We each define religion in the way that is useful to us. If someone is only interested in online debates, he’ll define religion merely as a set of literal truth claims that he can demolish. If someone is interested in arriving at mutual understanding, she’ll be more likely to define religion according to what the symbols, myths and rituals mean to the religious.

    #41882

    jakelafort
    Participant

    Istvan if you told any powerful religious institution that their claims were not literal you would be executed or excommunicated. If it is not literal then it is not true. It isn’t real. Adherents would be living lives in accordance with tiresome rituals and strictures and having expectations that were unachievable. It is the very heart of religion to make promises and create expectations based on a secret world that is known to the prophets or revealed in texts.

    #41883

    Istvan
    Participant

    Admittedly, the cross section of Christians I meet is far from statistically significant, but despite some metaphysical claims that are way too out there for my tastes, there appears to be a growing contingent that isn’t all that strict about biblical literacy and generally is on board with science despite sprinkling a little sprinkling of deity on top of it all.

    People seem to gravitate toward the type of belief or nonbelief system that fits their personality. Tolerant, open-minded folks either become UU-type Christians, Buddhists or agnostics with no real bone to pick. Narrow-minded, self-righteous people who crave certainty either become religious fundamentalists or immature New Atheist types.

    #41884

    Istvan
    Participant

    If it is not literal then it is not true. It isn’t real.

    Ironically, this is the same blind spot that many atheists have toward what we call reality. To my way of thinking, if someone can’t deal with metaphor or ambiguity, they’re mistaking the finger for what it’s pointing to.

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