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Thread: Afterlife, Underwold aand Hell

  1. #1 Afterlife, Underwold aand Hell 
    Forum Professor marcusclayman's Avatar
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    I'm doing a comparative essay on the greeko/roman underworld and judeao/christian hell

    Now I'm f**king entirely lost, since there is no such thing as A greako/roman underworld or A judao/christian hell


    there are different stories from different people, but nothing like dante's inferno or egyptian cosmology exist that describes THE underworld or THE hell

    all I can do is derive generalizations, but I cannot cite my own generalizations

    soooo if anyone knows of a good source for theological, comparative essays or anything on this stuff please let me know

    i'm mostly looking for an essay or book that compares different interpretations, rather than explaining one interpretation


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    catholic priests are readily available and will be very willing to give you their opinion of hell as if it were an absolute truth. i would however recommend that if you're under the age of 18 and a male, don't go alone :wink:

    as far as a grecko-roman underworld, there are plenty of primary sources from the era that you can use.


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    Have you read Theogony; it seems about as close to a Greek description of their mythologies including their various planes of hell as you're going to get.
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  5. #4  
    Forum Professor marcusclayman's Avatar
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    per usual, parroting of the obvious

    thanks for you help guys


    I need specifically a source that compares different accounts of afterlife/underworld/hell

    siince there is no "christian" underworld, but a variety of interpretations, I am forced to generalize

    since I am not a theologist I do not know what generalizations there are to make.

    it's my problem, i know... thanks anyway
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    Hell exists.

    There are a variety of ways to learn about it. One way is from the revelation of visionaries. For example, the seers who witnessed the Fatima apparitions in the early 20th Century had a vision of Hell. You could argue that the seers "made it up". However, the prayers that the seers recited show a level of theological insight that is far beyond what you would expect from 10 year old children. Thus, it is not likely that they "made these prayers up".

    Another way to learn about Hell is from reviews of near death experiences. In some of the NDEs, people report remarkably consistent visions of Heaven or Hell. You could argue that these visions are related to oxygen deprivation to the brain. However, I have not seen a good explanation from a neurophysiologist that explains why people have similar recollections during NDEs. Why wouldn't the happy visions just come from a person's past like a visit to Disneyland etc.? Or the bad visions could be from some phobia or past trauma. Thus, attributing the NDEs to actual visits to Hell is a reasonable explanation.

    One important thing to understand in any comparison of Christian versions of Hell to the views of the ancients regards the Theology of Grace. Most people are familiar with the Christian belief that a person can be forgiven of their sins and avoid Hell through faith in Jesus Christ. However, many people are either unaware or unconcerned with the transforming power of Grace in day to day living.

    Grace can help a person avoid the sins that cause a person to end up in Hell. Is there evidence for this? Yes there is. Evidence for the ability of Grace to change a person can be found in addiction research where surrender to a higher power is known to aid recovery.

    Best,

    Dedo
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Hell exists.
    This is a science forum. Nonsense statements like this -irrational claims that haven't any real evidence- are unwelcome. Your post amounts to preaching and this isn't permitted. We care less for your superstitions and more for what can be tested to exist in reality.

    There are no good reasons to believe in the "hell" of your superstitions. And anecdotes are not evidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Hell exists.
    This is a science forum. Nonsense statements like this -irrational claims that haven't any real evidence- are unwelcome. Your post amounts to preaching and this isn't permitted. We care less for your superstitions and more for what can be tested to exist in reality.

    There are no good reasons to believe in the "hell" of your superstitions. And anecdotes are not evidence.
    Actually Skinwalker, your abuse of power on this forum is truly amazing. If you want to expand this discussion into the nature of scientific evidence, then that goes beyond the original topic; however, I am happy to do that. The nature of what constitutes "scientific evidence", in relation to policy, was the topic of a keynote address for a scientific meeting that I attended this past week. The speaker's credentials were substantial and included over 100 peer reviewed publications, serving as the editor of a major journal, and serving as the chairman of an academic department at a major university for 7 years. The speaker reviewed our "processes" for considering what constitutes "evidence", and how this has lead to numerous deaths directly related to slow change in scientific thinking in the speaker's particular area of research in neurophysiology.

    System adaptation new new information, as well as the diffusion of information through a system, are areas of scientific investigation. For example, if you have published anything, then you know that even a letter to the editor can take months before it is seen by others. A couple months ago, I was on a flight with a sailor that serves on a nuclear submarine. Because of my interest in "safety science", our discussion drifted to an incident on the sailor's submarine where a single report of an unsafe condition on the submarine by an individual seaman lead to an admiral appearing on the submarine with amazing speed. My recollection was 24 hours.

    The ability of an organization to reexamine its processes, and adapt to new information is a known factor in the cause of catastrophic system failure including
    industrial accidents. Thus, the methods that we use in science to examine evidence and change policy, are not used in other disciplines. Now even our most distinguished scientists are correctly reexamining our processes.

    In regard's to the "evidence" I have submitted:

    1. The Fatima apparitions have been investigated and accepted by the Catholic Church. Although the Church is not a scientific organization, it is reasonable to examine the events surrounding these apparitions from a scientific perspective. If the prayers and revelations by the seers are not consistent with what a child could "make up", then it is reasonable to conclude that the seers saw what they said they saw.

    2. Near death experiences are also an area of scientific investigation. It is appropriate to discuss NDEs and ask if there is an explanation in neurophysiology for the similarities in the NDE experience. If there is no accepted explanation, then it is reasonable to consider the NDE as evidence of existence beyond our current state.

    3. Finally, addiction recovery research does show the effect of faith on recovery. Thus, this is a legitimate area where religion and science intersect.

    Thus, although your particular bias prevents you from agreeing with the evidence I have proposed for the existence of Hell, it is evidence none the less.

    Hell exists.

    Best,

    Dedo
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  9. #8  
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    1. The Fatima apparitions have been investigated and accepted by the Catholic Church. Although the Church is not a scientific organization, it is reasonable to examine the events surrounding these apparitions from a scientific perspective. If the prayers and revelations by the seers are not consistent with what a child could "make up", then it is reasonable to conclude that the seers saw what they said they saw.
    The alleged "fatima apparitions" are anecdotal. We have more evidence of mass hysteria than the supernatural. This claim is dismissed as irrelevant and unsubstantiated.

    2. Near death experiences are also an area of scientific investigation. It is appropriate to discuss NDEs and ask if there is an explanation in neurophysiology for the similarities in the NDE experience. If there is no accepted explanation, then it is reasonable to consider the NDE as evidence of existence beyond our current state.
    In spite of scientific and pseudoscientific approaches to so-called NDE, the supernatural and "afterlife" explanations have not born fruit. There is, however, significant data suggesting several electro-chemical explanations, which have been experimentally reproduced. This claim is dismissed as unsubstantiated and spurious.

    3. Finally, addiction recovery research does show the effect of faith on recovery. Thus, this is a legitimate area where religion and science intersect.
    Addiction recover research actually shows that faith-based services are ineffective in dealing with addiction. Case in point is AA's 12 step program. Once the religious steps are removed, only five remain. Moreover, faith-based groups like this are untruthful in the reporting of their results. Many inflate or lie. When third-party auditors are allowed to review the recidivism, their completion/success numbers deflate very noticeably. This is because they have a tendency to count only those who complete the program, while not counting those that drop-out or do not complete. In order to complete AA, you must complete all 12 steps, which include accepting the Christian god.

    Hell exists.
    Your lack of evidence and persistence in preaching leads you to being on probation as a troll. Congratulations.
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    Actually Skinwalker, you have not provided a single reference either, to support your unsubstantiated claims.

    The Fatima apparitions involved more than the vision of a bright object in the sky witnessed by 70,000 people. I was specifically noting that from the standpoint of child psychology, the recollection of the seers is not consistent with prayers typically made up by 10 year old children. You have not refuted this, and you have given no references to back up any of your other claims.

    Also, if an atheist writes some nonsense that claims "mass hysteria" to explain the vision that was witnessed by 70,000 people, that is hardly proof. The Fatima apparitions have been accepted by the Catholic Church for a reason. That reason is because there is not a sound argument that explains the event. Angry claims by biased individuals cannot disprove what was witnessed by thousands of normal people who gave the same description of the events.

    Again, your actions represent the same abuse of power that you have repeatedly used to try to use this area for your personal gain, as you systematically "ethnically cleanse" the forum of those that disagree with you. This behavior is nothing new. What amazes me is that you have not deleted the posts, which is your usual practice to quench debate. Thus, maybe there is hope for you.
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    Abuse of power would be something more substantial than banning your ass outright without any warning. He has done even less than this, so stop moaning about the big bad atheists suppressing the voice of the lord's people. You are displaying conformation bias, reliance on anecdote, wishful thinking and a lack of any understanding of the scientific method. These are very common features among believers and frankly there is pretty much nothing much we can do for you. You will continue to view the world through your tinted glasses no matter what we say or do. So when you come on a science forum and display this kind of behaviour, why should you be kept on at all? Anyone could produce anecdotes of mass experiences of the most obvious nonsense under the sun with a simple google, so why should be believe an anecdote as spurious as yours (could the children not have been taught the prayer for goodness' sake? Would a bunch of people looking directly at the sun not experience dancing light or similar "visions"?)? There is no proper reason and quite honestly, your willingness to believe everything you read as long as it supports your view is a display of feeble-mindedness. Again, this is hardly surprising.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Actually Skinwalker, you have not provided a single reference either, to support your unsubstantiated claims.
    Then allow me to remedy that.

    The Fatima apparitions involved more than the vision of a bright object in the sky witnessed by 70,000 people. I was specifically noting that from the standpoint of child psychology, the recollection of the seers is not consistent with prayers typically made up by 10 year old children. You have not refuted this, and you have given no references to back up any of your other claims.
    The alleged fatima apparitions make assumptions that don't follow each other when used in this topic. If we begin with the assumption that the witnesses actually observed something, then it doesn't follow that this something is an apparition of the Virgin Mary. This is an assumption based upon the delusions or lies of three children.

    In addition, even if the apparition were related to the alleged virgin Mary, it doesn't follow that this is evidence of a place called hell.

    To my "claim," which is that there is more evidence for mass hysteria than there is for "miracles," I offer the following references: Bartholomew and Wessely (2002), Balaratnasingam and Janca (2006), and Lee and Tsai (2010). Each of these authors discuss collective hysteria, give examples, and cite other works regarding collective hysteria. This is of concern to psychiatrists and psychologists due to the implications of the effects that modern terrorism, and threats associated can have on mental health, but they also discuss the religious nature of hysteria events among the superstitious.

    Also, if an atheist writes some nonsense that claims "mass hysteria" to explain the vision that was witnessed by 70,000 people, that is hardly proof. The Fatima apparitions have been accepted by the Catholic Church for a reason. That reason is because there is not a sound argument that explains the event. Angry claims by biased individuals cannot disprove what was witnessed by thousands of normal people who gave the same description of the events.
    Not "angry claims," but rational responses to irrational claims. The claims of the fatima apparitions by the Catholic cult hierarchy as "miraculous" are not rational nor reasoned. There are, however, many rational explanations that are more prosaic and parsimonious than that of the superstitious claims. One of the better treatments of this comes from Nickel (2009). Clearly an event that occurred in 1917 is not something we can test directly, however, we can demonstrate that prosaic and parsimonious natural explanations exist where supernatural explanations remain extraordinary and unsubstantiated in reality.

    Again your superstitious claims are dismissed because they're, well, stupid. To believe such nonsense is to reject reality.

    Again, your actions represent the same abuse of power that you have repeatedly used to try to use this area for your personal gain, as you systematically "ethnically cleanse" the forum of those that disagree with you. This behavior is nothing new. What amazes me is that you have not deleted the posts, which is your usual practice to quench debate. Thus, maybe there is hope for you.
    I do not delete posts to win debates. Such a claim is not only offensive but a absolute lie. You're a dishonest intellectual coward for stating this. And I will outright terminate your account if you chose to be a troll.

    If you want to preach, go to a religious forum. This is a science forum. If you want to make statements like "hell is real" and offer not a single shred of evidence based in reality, then you'll find yourself continually labeled as a troll and eventually your account will be terminated.

    If, however, you can have rational, reasoned discussions, you're more than welcome to stay and enjoy our company. We need not agree with you and your beliefs to enjoy yours.

    Instead, I predict you'll continue to cry foul and "abuse of power," which is the last retreat of someone who realizes that they are to be held rationally accountable for the things they claim. Rather than support your arguments with evidence, it's far easier to claim that you've been oppressed, suppressed, and censored; that the big-bad establishment is abusing its power. This is the position of intellectual cowardice.



    References:

    Bartholomew, Robert E. and Simon Wessely (2002). Protean nature of mass sociogenic illness: from possessed nuns to chemical and biological terrorism fears. The British Journal of Psychiatry. 180, 300-306.

    Balaratnasingam, S and A. Janca (2006). Mass hysteria revisited. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 19(2), 171-174.

    Lee, Yao-Tung and Shih-Jen Tsai (2010). The mirror neuron system may play a role in the pathogenesis of mass hysteria. Medical Hypotheses. 74(2), 244-245.

    Nickel, Joe (2009). The Real Secrets of Fatima. Skeptical Inquirer, 33(6).
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    So Dedo, do you accept the claims of other religions? Other religions have plenty of spiritual visions and experiences with their own religion, is that not proof (for believers) that that religion is right?

    The fact of the matter, is you accept the claims of your religion because you believe it. The only reason you feel your "evidence" is acceptable is because it supports your position.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster...when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you" - Friedrich Nietzsche

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  14. #13  
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    Hell, in my opinion is a pagan belief that was used by roman sophists to create a universal religions out of the original christian teachings. with that said, I was looking for scholarly comparisons(I should be more specific) on the various depictions in art throughout the ages on the subjects. Not some religious person or groups decree on the subject, but literature, paintings, that sort of thing.
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    The concept of hell is totally illogical when you consider all the ramifications of it.

    1. In order for it to be true, you must indeed have an immortal soul that can go there.
    2. There has to be a real live all powerful God that's holding the threat of sending your immortal soul there if you are a sinner.
    3. You have to believe the Bible is the inspired word of God.
    4. You also need to believe that all non-believers are going there.
    5. Next most of the christian religions have a last minute get out of hell free card. If your a catholic be sure and confess all your sins before you die, and most of the other christian faiths say you are saved if you acknowledge that Jesus is your lord a savior before you die.
    6. The one I find hardest to swallow is you are expected to believe that some other human (other than yourself) has actually heard the true word of God and that God expects you to believe everything this person says.
    7. When you actually consider how unimportant any one life is to the overall scheme of things in the universe. How is it possible an all powerful God would find it necessary to hold the threat of eternal damnation over you and then actually put your soul there until the end of time?
    8. Considering that people lie a lot, I really need God to tell me himself and he hasn't chosen to do so.
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    I'd recommend Homer's "Odyssey" since it goes pretty in depth (at some point?) into the Greek "Haites" but I wonder how much the Greeks actually agreed with the beliefs (or fictions) expressed in it.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    The concept of hell is totally illogical when you consider all the ramifications of it.

    1. In order for it to be true, you must indeed have an immortal soul that can go there.
    There is oxygen in Hell.
    Souls are responsible for the behavior of the human
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    There is oxygen in Hell.
    Souls are responsible for the behavior of the human
    Are you being cryptic?

    Maybe you think hell is on earth and it resides in the mind of man? If so I can relate and it's not a place I care to recommend.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    The concept of hell is totally illogical when you consider all the ramifications of it.

    1. In order for it to be true, you must indeed have an immortal soul that can go there.
    There is oxygen in Hell.
    Souls are responsible for the behavior of the human
    Magic pink flying unicorns are responsible for the behavior of the soul.

    See I can do it too!
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  20. #19  
    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    There is oxygen in Hell.
    Souls are responsible for the behavior of the human
    Are you being cryptic?

    Maybe you think hell is on earth and it resides in the mind of man? If so I can relate and it's not a place I care to recommend.
    :wink:

    If you believe what you read then the soul bears the brunt of the punishment meted out by God for the misbehavior of it's human host. If there is complete separation between host and soul then why should anyone care how they perform during a lifetime? Do the people who believe in souls think that in some way, like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, the soul is our final stage of life?

    If the soul is of my own making then I would accept responsibility for whatever I get in the afterlife because I was forewarned. However if my soul is some wayward ethereal entity looking for a body to occupy then I as a human do not accept the responsibility of my behavior. Either the way the soul gets judged.

    I really don't know why there would be any wayward souls out there looking for occupancy within another human (or whatever walks and crawls) because they should already be in heaven or hell? What are they out roaming around for if they're done with the previous life? The only answer would be that God makes the soul for a one time shot at eternal bliss (with Him of course) or some souls escape judgment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    :wink:

    If you believe what you read then the soul bears the brunt of the punishment meted out by God for the misbehavior of it's human host. If there is complete separation between host and soul then why should anyone care how they perform during a lifetime? Do the people who believe in souls think that in some way, like a butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, the soul is our final stage of life?

    If the soul is of my own making then I would accept responsibility for whatever I get in the afterlife because I was forewarned. However if my soul is some wayward ethereal entity looking for a body to occupy then I as a human do not accept the responsibility of my behavior. Either the way the soul gets judged.

    I really don't know why there would be any wayward souls out there looking for occupancy within another human (or whatever walks and crawls) because they should already be in heaven or hell? What are they out roaming around for if they're done with the previous life? The only answer would be that God makes the soul for a one time shot at eternal bliss (with Him of course) or some souls escape judgment.
    Makes you wonder if and when you die. Does the expression OOPS! apply?
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    Makes you wonder if and when you die. Does the expression OOPS! apply?
    Off the top of my head :

    When God used to physically talk to humans, as recorded in Xian bible for instance, was He addressing the soul or the human? It would appear that the soul is God's object of attention since it is what gets judged. This would relegate the human life form as a mere machine, built to house a soul.

    On what day of creation were souls manufactured? Prior to original sin, death wasn't even in the cards for man. So I have to assume souls came along after man sinned and God had sentenced us to die. Now I have a dilemma here..... if in the beginning man was eternal without a soul then how is it that after sin, man possessed a soul, with the human body becoming a vehicle for its journey through life.

    If mankind has always possessed a soul then what was its purpose prior to original sin? If man was immortal and without sin then there was no reason for a soul to be judged.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    Off the top of my head :

    When God used to physically talk to humans, as recorded in Xian bible for instance, was He addressing the soul or the human? It would appear that the soul is God's object of attention since it is what gets judged. This would relegate the human life form as a mere machine, built to house a soul.

    On what day of creation were souls manufactured? Prior to original sin, death wasn't even in the cards for man. So I have to assume souls came along after man sinned and God had sentenced us to die. Now I have a dilemma here..... if in the beginning man was eternal without a soul then how is it that after sin, man possessed a soul, with the human body becoming a vehicle for its journey through life.

    For all intents and purposes mankind might as well be already dead. But if mankind has always possessed a soul then what was its purpose prior to original sin? If man was immortal and without sin then there was no reason for a soul to be judged.
    Sorry but I don't subscribe to the concept of original sin. I believe humans are just animals that act within their nature and follow the dictates of evolution like all other life on this planet does. If mankind as a species goes extinct it won't be because of any God deciding we don't deserve to continue living and the concept of a soul continuing on after death doesn't track for me. Anybody that tells me they have talked to God are either liars or not right in the head and I mostly think they are liars. As far as hell goes, it's just another boogeyman to scare the insincere and wishy washy people into believing there is a God and he can send your soul to hell until the end of time if you don't do as he wants. Sense I can't believe what another human says about God, that would mean he needs to tell me in person that he exist and what he expects of me. I'm not holding my breath.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    Sorry but I don't subscribe to the concept of original sin.
    :?

    It's not a prerequisite to debate religion but if you want to sway opinion to your way of thinking then you can't casually dismiss it.

    Discussing heaven & hell isn't just about two places. There's a reason people believe in this stuff and it's your mandate as an argumentative atheist to provide the believer with some sound logic or hard evidence as to why they are wrong.

    Personally I can't stand theism and I would be perfectly happy if everyone who is a theist just believed and left it at that. There is nothing you can add to support a belief other than fiction. If one can provide irrefutable concrete evidence then one could effectively eliminate belief.....be you believer or not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    Sorry but I don't subscribe to the concept of original sin.
    :?

    It's not a prerequisite to debate religion but if you want to sway opinion to your way of thinking then you can't casually dismiss it.

    Discussing heaven & hell isn't just about two places. There's a reason people believe in this stuff and it's your mandate as an argumentative atheist to provide the believer with some sound logic or hard evidence as to why they are wrong.

    Personally I can't stand theism and I would be perfectly happy if everyone who is a theist just believed and left it at that. There is nothing you can add to support a belief other than fiction. If one can provide irrefutable concrete evidence then one could effectively eliminate belief.....be you believer or not.
    You are absolutely right, however I would prefer not to get into debates or arguments with superstitious or meme challenged people that have the capacity to become very dangerous individuals given the right circumstances. Also sometimes you end up with friends that you know there is absolutely no way you will ever be able to show them the error of their ways, and they think the same about you. No point pushing your luck if you want to keep that friend. Then if you are talking about people on this forum, well right off hand I could probably name a dozen others who are much more competent at dealing with the zealots than I, and I've very much enjoyed watching those arguments skillfully unfold with a small amount of envy. But you know what, I'm betting some of that skill will rub off on me and I will be grateful.
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    Forum Radioactive Isotope zinjanthropos's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    meme challenged people


    That's good.....however as atheists we are probably closer to the reality of that description :wink:
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos
    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    meme challenged people


    That's good.....however as atheists we are probably closer to the reality of that description :wink:
    I'm not sure I can agree with that. I think memes come in a variety of flavors and not all of those flavors meet the characteristics necessary for the carrier of the meme to be considered meme challenged. Now comes the tricky part of defining what characteristics do memes have that constitute a particular flavor? Try and think of what a reality scale might look like. This could change but for the sake of this description I would like to make it a sliding scale from 100 to -100. Now every idea or meme can be assigned a value on that scale depending on the relative reality of the idea or meme. (I know, very subjective). If the meme is in the negative end of the scale, meaning it has a very low value of being close to the reality of our universe. Next you add this value to the number of people that believe in it and you get the flavor. I don't have any names for these flavors nor can I even guess at how many flavors there may be, But the science of meme theory is still very young.
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    Seriously people. AGAIN!!! You're all dumb and NEITHER OF YOU have given any credence to the potential discussion of studying religion.

    "Religion" is NOT the culmination of religious hearsay, it is the product of reliable observations of particular religions. So instead of debating one persons point of view, lets ask them, as would-be scientists might, ask them for their sources and explination of their religious experiences that have lead to their POV.

    I am a believer, and like suggested, I leave it at that unless given an appropriate venue. God decides what is appropriate, and God has decided that this forum would be a decent place to discuss religion in an intellectual framework. Apparently it was also decided in the divine senate that trolls would be more than welcome, and that trolls in sheeps clothing would be as well.

    But atheist or not, everyone HERE, believers and otherwise are claiming to want to discuss these things in at least a somewhat convincingly-scientific level... sooo lets?



    Anyway, the essay I was writing was a complete failure, so it's not urgent any more. I discovered how little the Christian religion is defined and understood, and as a Christian, I have had my unorthodox beliefs supported, that early Christianity was a protest to definition and understanding, in the sense of Pantheists who attempted to define every religious detail to suit socio-political agendas.

    My religion starts where my understanding and ability to communicate ideas ends. <This is not a religion of ignorance as proposed by some theists and antagonists alike, but is a religion of humility, and in no way prevents one from learning to understand now things, and communicate them well.

    The only reason I'm saying any of this is maybe to serve as an example for the believers who feel it's their responsibility to convince people they are wrong. You are wrong, and your evangelism is a defense mechanism keeping you from God. Keep the faith!
    Dick, be Frank.

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcusclayman
    Seriously people. AGAIN!!! You're all dumb and NEITHER OF YOU have given any credence to the potential discussion of studying religion.

    I am a believer, and like suggested, I leave it at that unless given an appropriate venue. God decides what is appropriate, and God has decided that this forum would be a decent place to discuss religion in an intellectual framework.
    We broke no rules since God decided that we two dummies were appropriate in this case. If as you say, God also decided that the forum was a decent place to intellectually discuss religion, then you must agree that that's just what transpired. Obviously the intellectual quota was just enough, otherwise only God knows what could've happened. I feel used & dirty..
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    @ marcusclayman

    I am a believer, and like suggested, I leave it at that unless given an appropriate venue. God decides what is appropriate, and God has decided that this forum would be a decent place to discuss religion in an intellectual framework. Apparently it was also decided in the divine senate that trolls would be more than welcome, and that trolls in sheep’s clothing would be as well.
    So you claim to know what God wants and has decided? Can we expand this topic to include the world as a whole? According to your logic God decided the world should have many religions all with different beliefs about what God is and what God wants and how to determine who his chosen people are and what they have to do in order to have their souls saved after death.

    Excuse me if I have a bit of a problem with that. In your last paragraph you use the term “believers”, are you grouping all people that have a belief in a God, or are you just talking about Christians?
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    I'm tired of all of this arguing. We are getting absolutely nowhere. The majority of people where I live (in the US) believe in God. They were raised that way. Nothing will ever change their minds. It brings them joy and comfort for the most part...most of them (
    that I'm aware of) are not zealots and do not take te Bible literally. Most are open-minded and even share concerns with atheists. They question themselves a lot..just like any rational person would do. They do not preach because they don't understand the mysterious concept of "God" either. We are all just hopeful agnostics (barring the mentally ill) in reality but many would never admit the fact. Some people seem to get a kick out of saying "I'm an atheist!" or "I belive in Jesus Our Lord and Saviour!" because they enjoy creating controversy. However, you rarely, if ever, hear people screaming "I'm a proud Buddhist!". Humility is the key.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    I'm tired of all of this arguing. We are getting absolutely nowhere. The majority of people where I live (in the US) believe in God. They were raised that way. Nothing will ever change their minds. It brings them joy and comfort for the most part...most of them (
    that I'm aware of) are not zealots and do not take te Bible literally. Most are open-minded and even share concerns with atheists. They question themselves a lot..just like any rational person would do. They do not preach because they don't understand the mysterious concept of "God" either. We are all just hopeful agnostics (barring the mentally ill) in reality but many would never admit the fact. Some people seem to get a kick out of saying "I'm an atheist!" or "I belive in Jesus Our Lord and Saviour!" because they enjoy creating controversy. However, you rarely, if ever, hear people screaming "I'm a proud Buddhist!". Humility is the key.
    This topic is about “Afterlife, Underwold and Hell” . Either you believe in this concept or you don't. From your post I can't tell what your position is on this concept. Also, we aren't talking about the sheep that claim to be open minded but at the same time allow themselves to be herded into one group or another. As far as ever hearing someone say “I'm a proud Buddhist!” I've never heard someone say “I'm a Proud Christian” either. So I don't see what your point is. Next, people are what they are, and I find having an opportunity to talk to like minded people on certain subjects to be refreshing.
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    No. It isn't as simple as that. All people have a religion as they have a culture. It is an integral part of their being. I'm not being elusive. I am stating that we are all for the most part hopeful agnostics. And it is true. However, there seem to be a lot of atheists on this forum...which I find sad. People can ruin their lives without addressing their spiritual side. If you can be a happy atheist, good for you. I can't. The fear of eternal nothingness is too much for me to bear. Therefore I hope.

    Perhaps you want me to be more specific and address the topic of the thread. Ok. No, I do not believe in Hell. I do not know about a spiritual afterlife. Seeing dead opposum brains splattered along the highway and crushed lifeless frogs on the sidewalk makes it hard to believe that any animals transcend this life...however, in order to remain sane, one must hope.

    I've never heard someone say “I'm a Proud Christian” either
    Then you must not live in the US.
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    This topic is about “Afterlife, Underwold and Hell”
    It should be yes...but people keep going off on tangents. That was my point. Stop arguing and have a freakin' discussion.
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  35. #34  
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    No. It isn't as simple as that. All people have a religion as they have a culture. It is an integral part of their being.
    Your kidding me right? Otherwise I might find it hard to take you seriously.

    I'm not being elusive. I am stating that we are all for the most part hopeful agnostics. And it is true. However, there seem to be a lot of atheists on this forum...which I find sad.
    “Hopeful agnostic” let me add that to my list of things to smile about.

    People can ruin their lives without addressing their spiritual side. If you can be a happy atheist, good for you. I can't. The fear of eternal nothingness is too much for me to bear. Therefore I hope.
    Okay so you fear what is natural for everyone. Death comes to all living things and I've never seen or heard of any evidence or proof of any kind to show that there is any kind of after life, good or bad.

    Perhaps you want me to be more specific and address the topic of the thread. Ok. No, I do not believe in Hell. I do not know about a spiritual afterlife. Seeing dead opposum brains splattered along the highway and crushed lifeless frogs on the sidewalk makes it hard to believe that any animals transcend this life...however, in order to remain sane, one must hope.
    Nothing good ever came from hoping. Hope implies that you really want something to be true, but your just not sure. The fact that you seem to be going through life in fear of the unknown, but hopeful for something better after death is really something to be sad about.

    I've never heard someone say “I'm a Proud Christian” either
    Then you must not live in the US.
    If I had to guess I'd say longer than you have.
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    Get off of your fucking high horse. Who the hell do you think you are? You think you're clever just because you chose to be an atheist?

    ALL SOCIETIES HAVE A RELIGION ..it's an anthropological fact...a cultural universal, we call it...I'm not some ignorant Bible-thumper.

    “Hopeful agnostic” let me add that to my list of things to smile about.
    Don't get smug with me buddy.

    Nothing good ever came from hoping.
    A VERY ignorant statement. So you have faith in nothing and believe that life is hopeless? Has anything good ever come of that? Also, studies were done on postmenopausal women who reported having panic attacks and it was discovered that they had heart problems not long thereafter. What triggers a panic attack? Fear. Uncertainty. Stress. Doesn't matter what triggers the attack, only that it is present and highly dangerous over time. Even deadly sometimes. Say that one has severe Todesangst, as the Germans say? Can you not see how religion may have evolved in order to protect us from experiencing such fear?

    Fear kills. Religion is a necessary evil.
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  37. #36  
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Get off of your fucking high horse. Who the hell do you think you are? You think you're clever just because you chose to be an atheist?
    I didn't choose to be an atheist. However I did choose not to be superstitious and if that makes me an atheist, so be it.

    ALL SOCIETIES HAVE A RELIGION ..it's an anthropological fact...a cultural universal, we call it...I'm not some ignorant Bible-thumper.
    I take it your favorite religion is Christianity. With all the choices available, may I ask why you picked that one?

    Don't get smug with me buddy.
    I don't do smug, however when I find something to be humorous I like to give credit where it's due.

    A VERY ignorant statement. So you have faith in nothing and believe that life is hopeless?
    It's very apparent to me that we just don't see reality in the same way. I don't see life as hopeless, but more often than not people that talk about having hope and faith are losers of one kind or another.

    Has anything good ever come of that? Also, studies were done on postmenopausal women who reported having panic attacks and it was discovered that they had heart problems not long thereafter. What triggers a panic attack? Fear. Uncertainty. Stress. Doesn't matter what triggers the attack, only that it is present and highly dangerous over time. Even deadly sometimes. Say that one has severe Todesangst, as the Germans say? Can you not see how religion may have evolved in order to protect us from experiencing such fear?
    That might be true of some religions, but for many of them, the exact opposite is true. They create a great deal of fear and they are not shy about using it to keep their believers inline.

    Fear kills. Religion is a necessary evil.
    Interesting that you should say that. I always thought fear was intended to give you a physical and mental boost with adrenaline, so that you might increase your odds of survival in a fight or in getting away. Anyway, when you don't die and it becomes something you have to live with, it does tend to wear on you and make your life something less than it should be.

    I really can't think of religion as a necessary evil. In a modern advanced society it shouldn't be necessary at all, evil or otherwise.
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    I take it your favorite religion is Christianity.
    I don't lord Christianity over any other religion. No. I don't play favorites. I enjoy Native American religions as well. I simply choose to take part in my cultural heritage. Don't assume.
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    As the OP, this discussion is not about whether or not anyone believes in these concepts, but what these concepts are that people may or may not believe in, their sources, and comparative interpretations.
    Dick, be Frank.

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    This relates to the origin of the word Beelzebub, merely one of the many variegated Christian conceptions of the Devil:

    http://www.thescienceforum.com/Etymo...ing-28360t.php
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    Beelzebub--if lord of the flies is an accurate interpretation vs lord of some location called zebub--might be a reference to death, stagnation, rotting, as all these things attract flies. Might be too literalistic.

    Also might be a reference to alcohol, which attracts a lot of flies in it's production, if not done in well contained and cleaned place.

    Just an interesting point.

    And to the moderator who deleted my post, can you delete all the other irrelevant posts as well while you're at it?
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    No. It isn't as simple as that. All people have a religion as they have a culture.
    I apologize, gottspieler, but this is quite plainly false (unless you are using a definition of religion which is so broad that it loses all utility and merit).

    Would you at least be willing to define how YOU are using the term religion so we can evaluate whether or not it truly is valid to assert that "all people have a religion?"


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    However, there seem to be a lot of atheists on this forum...which I find sad.
    Why? Are you equally sad that many of us do not believe in Thor or Zeus, or that many of us don't believe in the easter bunny or in leprechauns?

    Why is it sad that many of us choose not to believe in your personal god, but not all of the others in which you join us in disbelief (like Poseidon, Ba'al, Vishnu, or Apollo, for example)?


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    People can ruin their lives without addressing their spiritual side.
    What does this mean? What is a "spiritual side," and further... why do you assert that merely lacking a belief in your personal version of god means that people are "ruining their lives" and not "addressing it?"



    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    If you can be a happy atheist, good for you. I can't. The fear of eternal nothingness is too much for me to bear. Therefore I hope.
    Lacking belief in your version of god is not equivalent to living in some sort of "eternal nothingness." I don't think atheism means what you think it means.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    No, I do not believe in Hell. I do not know about a spiritual afterlife. Seeing dead opposum brains splattered along the highway and crushed lifeless frogs on the sidewalk makes it hard to believe that any animals transcend this life...however, in order to remain sane, one must hope.
    If belief in something ill-defined and unprovable gives you comfort, then that is fine, but please recognize that the comfort you feel by holding these beliefs does not somehow make them more valid or realistic.



    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    ALL SOCIETIES HAVE A RELIGION ..it's an anthropological fact...a cultural universal, we call it...
    Again, you're really going to need to define what you mean when you say "religion," because by most definitions in use the above is plainly false.

    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    So you have faith in nothing and believe that life is hopeless?
    Being atheist does not mean that one has "faith in nothing" nor that one believes "that life is hopeless." Again, I don't think atheism means what you think it means.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Can you not see how religion may have evolved in order to protect us from experiencing such fear?

    Fear kills. Religion is a necessary evil.
    Your assertion suggests that religion is the only way to overcome or deal with fear, and that is simply not true. While religion may help some to deal with fear or to deal with existential anxieties, it is hardly the only option... So again, this statement is plainly false. Religion is not necessary. There are many valid reasons why it would have evolved, but it is not something we require, nor is it something which is necessarily a net positive.
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    All societies *do* have religion, but not all people of those societies.

    The fact that this is a cultural universal is actually evidence that religion is something invented by man due to psychological or sociological need and evidence against divine need. For, if it were the latter, the religion universal to human cultures would have universal characteristics. As it is, there is as much variation in Religion as there are in human Culture.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    All societies *do* have religion, but not all people of those societies.
    Obviously agree with the second part, but I think the first part (again) depends greatly on how one defines religion. I mean, logically speaking, all I need to do is come up with one single example of a society (large, small, or otherwise) without "religion" to prove the statement false. That suggests the assertion is pretty weak, and (as I suggested above) likely relies on a definition of religion which is so broad that it lacks utility.
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    I'd like to see a list of cultures that don't have religion in them. Even Buddhist societies evolved their philosophy to create Mahayana Buddhism, which is a religion where Theravada is not.

    As an anthropologist/archaeologist, I've yet to encounter a culture in historical (and prehistorical in many cases) that didn't have religion in it.

    The best candidates for non-religious culture would be modern Scandinavian cultures, but even these have state-funded, official religions in which many people still utilize is for secular reasons.
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    I guess my argument boils down to a semantic one.

    How are we defining "religion?"
    How are we defining "society?"

    Certainly once those definitions are put forth, we can locate AT LEAST one group which does not have "religion," or which in our past did not have "religion."


    I don't think that is unrealistic. It all boils down to how we define our terms. What are we calling a "society?" How are we defining "religion?"


    Gottspeiler was using this as some sort of foundational point, and I am challenging that foundation. It's a common premise on which people of varying religious backgrounds base many arguments about overall well-being and functioning societies, and if comments are going to be made in the absolute (such as he did above), then they need to be very precise in order to have any chance of being true.


    I'm familiar with your background, and I respect the education you bring to this particular topic. You mention Scandenavian countries, and I too am familiar with work from those like Phil Zuckerman, and the studies correlating religiosity with societal health, and also how poverty is higher where religiosity is higher (links for each below).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phil-z..._b_731548.html
    http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html
    http://www.livescience.com/culture/e...ty-except.html


    I think those are separate points, though.

    I'm just suggesting that a claim in the absolute such as that made above requires clear definitions of terms. How are we defining "religion" here? How are we defining "society" here? Does the Humane Society count? What about the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, or a small group of hunter gatherers in the Neolithic? What about the Mesolithic, or at other times much farther back during the anthropocenic epoch? I'm simply trying to find the lines.


    I also noticed that gottspeiler moved his goalposts... First stating that all "people" were religious, then in a later post asserting that all "societies" are religious. Which is it, and what does it mean for a society to be religious? Is one single being within that society enough to satisfy the claim?

    It's a very weak claim on many different fronts, and I challenged it. Until clear definitions are presented, I'm inclined to believe that my challenge is valid.
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    The most useful definition of "religion" I've seen to date is that adopted by Daniel Dennett:

    "Social systems whose participants avow belief in a supernatural agent or agents whose approval is to be sought."

    Such a definition excludes Theravada Buddhism but not Mahayana. Fair I think, since the former is a philosophical position while the latter is an adoption of that philosophy that inserts worship and supernatural agency.

    As to "society" and "culture," I readily agree that there are a wide selection of definitions to which we could find exceptions very easily. There are, for instance, societies in which atheism is a requirement. The American Atheists and Atheist Alliance International are two societies and cultures in which we can say religion doesn't exist as defined above.

    However, when society and culture is defined on a level more related to temporal-spatial terms, we find that an absence of religion is rare. If, as is often implied when "cultural universals" is discussed in anthropology, we use a definition of society which is:

    "A population that exists in a similar geographic and chronological location and shares similar linguistic, political, economic and subsistence strategies."

    Examples of such societies/cultures are: Dynastic Egypt, Mayan, Inuit, Polynesian, Apache, Celtic, Roman, Joman, Natufian, etc.

    One can, of course, continue to find sub-cultures and sub-societies within these, sometimes arriving at sub-cultures that proclaim no religious beliefs, but each are still affected by religion since their parent societies are shaped and molded by their religious beliefs, rituals, etc. The term "society" and "culture" in the context gottspieler wrote above is the sort that exerts political, economic, and subsistence influence on a regionally congruous population in a discrete period of time.

    I would go so far as to say that there isn't a single society on the planet that doesn't owe some aspect of its culture to religion. If there is, I'd be most interested in seeing that society.
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    That's fair. Given your definitions, I too would be excited to see such a society, but find it unlikely given how broad we're using the terms.
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    It's this universal trait of humanity that I find so fascinating. And important to learn about. It may be that this is one of the many evolutionary advantages that we had in our cognitive development as a species that allowed us to advance beyond the naked-ape stage. Or it could be that Religion (and the overall propensity to accept the paranormal) is a by-product of some other cognitive process.

    Like so many things that come natural to humanity, this might be one that can be overcome. The fight or flight response is a natural, cognitive process we've learned to be self-aware of and, thus, overcome where need be (most people don't run out conference rooms when asked to give a presentation; or punch bosses in the face to get a promotion). Perhaps understanding religion we can do the same by overcoming a need to find paranormal and superstitious explanations where human knowledge or understanding is absent.
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    I have spent some time exploring this topic, as well. There are very good evolutionary explanations for the tendency to believe in deities as well as the propensity for religion among humans. Just recall that they are two different things (religious practice and belief in deities), and so each have slightly independent explanations for their frequency.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    The best candidates for non-religious culture would be modern Scandinavian cultures, but even these have state-funded, official religions in which many people still utilize is for secular reasons.
    I guess the question for them though is does that "official" sanction really have any authority, or it is more or less just a nod to tradition roughly akin to the Brits maintaining the Queen of England or Buddist trappings still used by secular Japanese for their life events such as weddings etc.
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    @ inow & SkinWalker

    Excellent dialog and the links provided were very helpful and informative. You've given me an idea for a new topic in this sub-forum that I think both of you will appreciate. Look for it soon.

    Note: I posted it and then it disappeared. I guess the moderator moved or deleted it. I titled it An Atheistic State.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I guess my argument boils down to a semantic one.

    How are we defining "religion?"
    How are we defining "society?"

    Certainly once those definitions are put forth, we can locate AT LEAST one group which does not have "religion," or which in our past did not have "religion."


    I don't think that is unrealistic. It all boils down to how we define our terms. What are we calling a "society?" How are we defining "religion?"


    Gottspeiler was using this as some sort of foundational point, and I am challenging that foundation. It's a common premise on which people of varying religious backgrounds base many arguments about overall well-being and functioning societies, and if comments are going to be made in the absolute (such as he did above), then they need to be very precise in order to have any chance of being true.

    I define "religion" simply as a shared belief system among a group of people which is too large to be considered a "cult".

    I'm familiar with your background, and I respect the education you bring to this particular topic. You mention Scandenavian countries, and I too am familiar with work from those like Phil Zuckerman, and the studies correlating religiosity with societal health, and also how poverty is higher where religiosity is higher (links for each below).

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/phil-z..._b_731548.html
    http://moses.creighton.edu/JRS/2005/2005-11.html
    http://www.livescience.com/culture/e...ty-except.html


    I think those are separate points, though.

    I'm just suggesting that a claim in the absolute such as that made above requires clear definitions of terms. How are we defining "religion" here? How are we defining "society" here? Does the Humane Society count? What about the Society for the Teaching of Psychology, or a small group of hunter gatherers in the Neolithic? What about the Mesolithic, or at other times much farther back during the anthropocenic epoch? I'm simply trying to find the lines.


    I also noticed that gottspeiler moved his goalposts... First stating that all "people" were religious, then in a later post asserting that all "societies" are religious. Which is it, and what does it mean for a society to be religious? Is one single being within that society enough to satisfy the claim?

    It's a very weak claim on many different fronts, and I challenged it. Until clear definitions are presented, I'm inclined to believe that my challenge is valid.
    Yes, there are Humanist organizations/groups in which all members are atheist. I consider those subcultures. I may be mistaken...


    When I said "people" a meant "a people"...the same way the German's use "Volk", we use "Folk" and the Navajo use "Dine". They correspond with large groups of people in the majority.

    I define religion simply as a shared supernatural belief system too large to be considered a "cult".
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    I define religion simply as a shared supernatural belief system too large to be considered a "cult".
    And I consider any cult to be a discrete set of share beliefs, regardless of size. This is the definition that has the most utility for the archaeologist, since we look at "cult objects" of long dead, but sometimes very large societies.

    The pejorative definition of cult is a more recent, relatively modern definition designed for one cult to denigrate another by referring to their own as a "religion" while the other is a "cult." The reality is, both religions are sets of cults or discrete cults unto themselves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    No. It isn't as simple as that. All people have a religion as they have a culture.
    I apologize, gottspieler, but this is quite plainly false (unless you are using a definition of religion which is so broad that it loses all utility and merit).

    Would you at least be willing to define how YOU are using the term religion so we can evaluate whether or not it truly is valid to assert that "all people have a religion?"


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    However, there seem to be a lot of atheists on this forum...which I find sad.
    Why? Are you equally sad that many of us do not believe in Thor or Zeus, or that many of us don't believe in the easter bunny or in leprechauns?

    Why is it sad that many of us choose not to believe in your personal god, but not all of the others in which you join us in disbelief (like Poseidon, Ba'al, Vishnu, or Apollo, for example)?


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    People can ruin their lives without addressing their spiritual side.
    What does this mean? What is a "spiritual side," and further... why do you assert that merely lacking a belief in your personal version of god means that people are "ruining their lives" and not "addressing it?"



    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    If you can be a happy atheist, good for you. I can't. The fear of eternal nothingness is too much for me to bear. Therefore I hope.
    Lacking belief in your version of god is not equivalent to living in some sort of "eternal nothingness." I don't think atheism means what you think it means.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    No, I do not believe in Hell. I do not know about a spiritual afterlife. Seeing dead opposum brains splattered along the highway and crushed lifeless frogs on the sidewalk makes it hard to believe that any animals transcend this life...however, in order to remain sane, one must hope.
    If belief in something ill-defined and unprovable gives you comfort, then that is fine, but please recognize that the comfort you feel by holding these beliefs does not somehow make them more valid or realistic.



    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    ALL SOCIETIES HAVE A RELIGION ..it's an anthropological fact...a cultural universal, we call it...
    Again, you're really going to need to define what you mean when you say "religion," because by most definitions in use the above is plainly false.

    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    So you have faith in nothing and believe that life is hopeless?
    Being atheist does not mean that one has "faith in nothing" nor that one believes "that life is hopeless." Again, I don't think atheism means what you think it means.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Can you not see how religion may have evolved in order to protect us from experiencing such fear?

    Fear kills. Religion is a necessary evil.
    Your assertion suggests that religion is the only way to overcome or deal with fear, and that is simply not true. While religion may help some to deal with fear or to deal with existential anxieties, it is hardly the only option... So again, this statement is plainly false. Religion is not necessary. There are many valid reasons why it would have evolved, but it is not something we require, nor is it something which is necessarily a net positive.


    1.Lacking belief in your version of god is not equivalent to living in some sort of "eternal nothingness." I don't think atheism means what you think it means.


    I don't have a specific version of "God" in mind...I don't see "God" as anything more than an ambiguous meme (the word means something different to everyone) which could have spread through the human world as early as the time of Homo Erectus in the Pleistocene..we have no way of knowing precisely when supernatural beliefs took hold and developed into religion..is it a byproduct of consciousness? I don't know? What is clear is that organized religion would not have come into being until speech had developed. In any event, religion in its more modern guise is what I was primarily referring to (to address another question you posed in a later post).

    That being said, atheism doesn't have a monolithic meaning either. It can mean that one doesn't believe in one certain God, several Gods or could imply by extension that one doesn't believe in anything of a metaphysical nature. What bothers me is that many atheists I know, because they don't believe in "God", believe that nothing beyond empirical measure exists...and, in my opinion, it can lead to nihilism and potentially despair if one isn't careful. I've experienced such despair myself. I once was an atheist. It made me unhappy. I felt that I was alienating my friends and family and I felt a deep seated hatred for believers.

    2.Religion is not necessary.

    You are right. No. Not for everyone it isn't.

    3.If belief in something ill-defined and unprovable gives you comfort, then that is fine, but please recognize that the comfort you feel by holding these beliefs does not somehow make them more valid or realistic.

    It does comfort me. I know the truth and it hurts. Why not visit Fantasyland on occassion? Memories are "real" to me...so is "God" so is "love" so is "hope"...these ideals "live" in our minds and hearts.


    4. What is a "spiritual side,"

    For me, it is a belief in the transcendent. What is it in your opinion?
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    No. It isn't as simple as that. All people have a religion as they have a culture.
    I apologize, gottspieler, but this is quite plainly false (unless you are using a definition of religion which is so broad that it loses all utility and merit).

    Would you at least be willing to define how YOU are using the term religion so we can evaluate whether or not it truly is valid to assert that "all people have a religion?"


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    However, there seem to be a lot of atheists on this forum...which I find sad.
    Why? Are you equally sad that many of us do not believe in Thor or Zeus, or that many of us don't believe in the easter bunny or in leprechauns?

    Why is it sad that many of us choose not to believe in your personal god, but not all of the others in which you join us in disbelief (like Poseidon, Ba'al, Vishnu, or Apollo, for example)?


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    People can ruin their lives without addressing their spiritual side.
    What does this mean? What is a "spiritual side," and further... why do you assert that merely lacking a belief in your personal version of god means that people are "ruining their lives" and not "addressing it?"



    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    If you can be a happy atheist, good for you. I can't. The fear of eternal nothingness is too much for me to bear. Therefore I hope.
    Lacking belief in your version of god is not equivalent to living in some sort of "eternal nothingness." I don't think atheism means what you think it means.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    No, I do not believe in Hell. I do not know about a spiritual afterlife. Seeing dead opposum brains splattered along the highway and crushed lifeless frogs on the sidewalk makes it hard to believe that any animals transcend this life...however, in order to remain sane, one must hope.
    If belief in something ill-defined and unprovable gives you comfort, then that is fine, but please recognize that the comfort you feel by holding these beliefs does not somehow make them more valid or realistic.



    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    ALL SOCIETIES HAVE A RELIGION ..it's an anthropological fact...a cultural universal, we call it...
    Again, you're really going to need to define what you mean when you say "religion," because by most definitions in use the above is plainly false.

    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    So you have faith in nothing and believe that life is hopeless?
    Being atheist does not mean that one has "faith in nothing" nor that one believes "that life is hopeless." Again, I don't think atheism means what you think it means.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    Can you not see how religion may have evolved in order to protect us from experiencing such fear?

    Fear kills. Religion is a necessary evil.
    Your assertion suggests that religion is the only way to overcome or deal with fear, and that is simply not true. While religion may help some to deal with fear or to deal with existential anxieties, it is hardly the only option... So again, this statement is plainly false. Religion is not necessary. There are many valid reasons why it would have evolved, but it is not something we require, nor is it something which is necessarily a net positive.


    1.Lacking belief in your version of god is not equivalent to living in some sort of "eternal nothingness." I don't think atheism means what you think it means.


    I don't have a specific version of "God" in mind...I don't see "God" as anything more than an ambiguous meme (the word means something different to everyone) which could have spread through the human world as early as the time of Homo Erectus in the Pleistocene..we have no way of knowing precisely when supernatural beliefs took hold and developed into religion..is it a byproduct of consciousness? I don't know? What is clear is that organized religion would not have come into being until speech had developed. In any event, religion in its more modern guise is what I was primarily referring to (to address another question you posed in a later post).

    That being said, atheism doesn't have a monolithic meaning either. It can mean that one doesn't believe in one certain God, several Gods or could imply by extension that one doesn't believe in anything of a metaphysical nature. What bothers me is that many atheists I know, because they don't believe in "God", believe that nothing beyond empirical measure exists...and, in my opinion, it can lead to nihilism and potentially despair if one isn't careful. I've experienced such despair myself. I once was an atheist. It made me unhappy. I felt that I was alienating my friends and family and I felt a deep seated hatred for believers.

    2.Religion is not necessary.

    You are right. No. Not for everyone it isn't.

    3.If belief in something ill-defined and unprovable gives you comfort, then that is fine, but please recognize that the comfort you feel by holding these beliefs does not somehow make them more valid or realistic.

    It does comfort me. I know the truth and it hurts. Why not visit Fantasyland on occassion? Memories are "real" to me...so is "God" so is "love" so is "hope"...these ideals "live" in our minds and hearts.


    4. What is a "spiritual side,"

    For me, it is a belief in the transcendent. What is it in your opinion?
    To set the record straight, "Atheism" simply means "non-Theism" or a lack of belief in any deity. All other spiritual beliefs are fair game for an atheist, they just generally aren't there. There are atheistic religions, just to give you a heads up, so you don't automatically assume atheist means non-religious. All it means is no belief in a "god".
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    That being said, atheism doesn't have a monolithic meaning either.
    As Arcane_Maths already pointed out above, it does have a meaning, and one meaning. Not theist. That's what it means. Atheists don't believe in god(s). That's all, and it strikes me as indeed a bit monolithic.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    What bothers me is that many atheists I know, because they don't believe in "God", believe that nothing beyond empirical measure exists
    I would suggest that this is a slight misrepresentation. The many atheists I know, myself included, believe there is no good reason to waste one's time believing in something for which there is no empirical measure or evidence, or even non-fallacious logic in support. I say this with the very important caveat that I remain open to evidence, just don't bother with claims which have none in their favor. I don't think that things "beyond empirical measure" do not exist, I just think there is no good reason to think they do. I may be splitting hairs here, though.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    ...and, in my opinion, it can lead to nihilism and potentially despair if one isn't careful.
    I fail to see the connection here. Will you elaborate?
    I'm pretty sure it's not atheism which leads to nihilism, but I suppose I may be mistaken.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    I've experienced such despair myself. I once was an atheist. It made me unhappy. I felt that I was alienating my friends and family and I felt a deep seated hatred for believers.
    So, in essence, you've abandoned what you felt to be true in favor of fitting in socially, because not fitting in socially and not accepting the woo and nonsense of those around you was a bit too hard. This touches very nicely on the point Skinwalker made earlier regarding the evolution of belief and religious practice, but I won't belabor that here.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    It does comfort me. I know the truth and it hurts. Why not visit Fantasyland on occassion? Memories are "real" to me...so is "God" so is "love" so is "hope"...these ideals "live" in our minds and hearts.
    I understand what you are saying. I just choose to live my life differently. That doesn't mean one of our approaches is better, nor that one of our approaches is worse. It just means we have a different approach, you and me. I'd rather have a difficult truth any day of the week, especially when the alternative is an easy fantasy or fairy-tale with zero basis in reality, but that's just me.


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    4. What is a "spiritual side,"

    For me, it is a belief in the transcendent. What is it in your opinion?
    That's a good question. In my opinion, a "spiritual side" is a rhetorical short-hand which casts a very large and non-precise net over many of the things which we as humans hold important, and to which we attach great emotion and feelings of awe. To me, a "spiritual side" is a term which lazy or ignorant people use to express to others an idea which IMO is much better described using the precise language of science. To me, it's a way to share an idea using imprecise and fuzzy ill-defined words instead of sharing that same idea while leveraging the rich vocabulary readily available to all of us.

    A spiritual side to me is a term used to describe that which touches us deeply on a gut level, and which impacts our psyche profoundly, and to describe that which we may lack an immediate or adequate understanding to explain. A spiritual side to me is a term signifying a weak approach to understanding the universe around us, when we in fact have a metric shit ton of tools at our disposal to really explore our existence in this profound reality. A spiritual side to me is a term used by those who are content to abandon those tools, who are content to abandon that which is real in exchange for that which feels good or that which is easy, and who are comfortable living in a psychic world which is not in any way rooted in reality.

    A spiritual side to me is a term people use when they are lazy, and they toss out that term as a short-hand to describe something which is really much more profound... Something much more deserving of clarity and precision. A spiritual side to me is a term which disrespects the beauty in which we all are fortunate enough to exist, which ignores the dynamic interplay of pain and joy felt by every last being, and which discards the true wonder inherent in all life and in all existence.

    I think the term spiritual is crap, and I think the people who use it frequently are lazy. I don't dismiss the profundity in our universe, nor do I dismiss the deep psychological experience of which we humans are capable. What I dismiss is the weak mind which seeks to describe all of this amazing richness around us using such an imprecise, inaccurate, ill-defined term like "spiritual."


    Sorry... Went on a bit of a rant there, but you did ask. :wink:
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    A spiritual side to me is a term used to describe that which touches us deeply on a gut level, and which impacts our psyche profoundly, and to describe that which we may lack an immediate or adequate understanding to explain. A spiritual side to me is a term signifying a weak approach to understanding the universe around us, when we in fact have a metric shit ton of tools at our disposal to really explore our existence in this profound reality. A spiritual side to me is a term used by those who are content to abandon those tools, who are content to abandon that which is real in exchange for that which feels good or that which is easy, and who are comfortable living in a psychic world which is not in any way rooted in reality.
    Not sure why you seem to shape them as mutually exclusive. I know an enormous amount about thunderstorms for example having chased tornadoes, modeled them, and written peer-review publications about complexes of them as well as their climatologies--but that doesn't remove the share awe and raw emotion I still feel when I watch one, even as I know in great depth what's happening. It's not so much a week approach but just part of what makes us human; a part that no degree of science can remove--or perhaps should even try. If anything it's a tremendous source of emotional energy that motivates myself when I was an active scientist, and other scientist I still know who immerse themselves in scientific study; it's the raw energy and passion which helps many scientist drive through the drudgery. And I don't think any degree of scientific knowledge will remove that type of spirituality. I also see no harm.
    Meteorologist/Naturalist & Retired Soldier
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    My sense is that we are largely in agreement, Lynx_Fox. You even took the time to explain your experience using other words, other terminology, and other vocabulary. You did all of this to help me understand that it falls into the supremely broad umbrella of "spiritual" for you personally. Where my challenge was focused was on the choice of some people to limit their description to the term "spiritual" alone and be done with it.

    Spiritual? What is that? That's nothing. Tell me you feel awe. Tell me you were blown away (no pun intended). Tell me you were so fascinated and impacted by the experience that you felt proud and compelled... fortunate to be able to approach the world again with childlike wonder and enthusiasm. Tell me that you crave having the experience again, and how many of the other experiences you've had since those seem flat and muted by comparison.

    But to call it "spiritual" and be done with it? Sorry, but that IMO is a cheap cop-out used by a lazy mind. It's also completely ineffectual at conveying any useful information to the audience since the term is so broad and ill-defined that it's effectively without descriptive power or utility. If you call something "spiritual," that could mean practically anything, and generally does. It's a catch-all, and I think that's what I find so distasteful about it... since it also catches all of the crap, all of the woo, and all of the nonsense without pause, and yet is thrown about like some sort of badge of honor among those who accept ridiculous claims without (and often in the face of contradictory) evidence.
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    I have to admit, I'm uncomfortable with the word "spiritual," but it is a definite sensation that I feel on occasion.

    Those occasions vary: listening to Miles Davis bend a tune from a piece of twisted brass to create one of the most aesthetically pleasing songs I've ever heard; watching a martial artist like Jet Li perform near magical feats of physical skill; staring up on a clear West Texas night at the Milky Way with the knowledge that of the billions of billions of stars I can see, these are only the very tiniest tip of the cosmic iceberg; peering through a microscope at the living cells drawn from my own blood with the knowledge that millions more course through my veins; trying to wrap my mind around the fact that, physically, I'm not the same person I was at age 7 -every cell in my body having long since been replaced by new ones, and, yet, I remember age 6!

    The wonders and complexities of the universe around me from the tiniest atom to the most massive black hole and everything in between give me pause. The sensation I get when I consider these things even for the briefest moment is one that can only be described as "spiritual" and I don't care if it's an artificial sensation created by bio-chemical activity in my brain in the slightest.

    A comment that Carl Sagan (my near namesake!) uttered in the 1980s on his timeless program, Cosmos, sticks with me to this day: "[w]e are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

    I don't need to substitute any of the gods of humanity (least of all the Christian, Jewish, or Islamic gods) for the gaps in my knowledge. I don't need to ascribe the wonders of the universe to them.

    I can remain in awe of all these things and more without appealing to superstition. Indeed, its the presence of the universe in the absence of an intelligence that is the most awesome and "spiritual" concept of all.

    I feel I must leave this poem by Richard Feynman.

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard P. Feynman
    There are the rushing waves
    mountains of molecules
    each stupidly minding its own business
    trillions apart
    yet forming white surf in unison.

    Ages on ages before any eyes could see
    year after year
    thunderously pounding the shore as now.
    For whom, for what?

    On a dead planet
    with no life to entertain.
    Never at rest
    tortured by energy
    wasted prodigiously by the sun
    poured into space.

    A mite makes the sea roar.
    Deep in the sea
    all molecules repeat
    the patterns of one another
    till complex new ones are formed.

    They make others like themselves
    and a new dance starts.
    Growing in size and complexity
    living things
    masses of atoms

    DNA, protein
    dancing a pattern ever more intricate.
    Out of the cradle
    onto dry land
    here it is
    standing:

    atoms with consciousness;
    matter with curiosity.
    Stands at the sea,
    wonders at wondering: I
    a universe of atoms
    an atom in the universe.
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    To set the record straight, "Atheism" simply means "non-Theism" or a lack of belief in any deity.
    I'm aware of the definition. What it means to individual people is a different matter. One can be an atheist in regard to one God or several..although usually one chooses non-belief in all of them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    To set the record straight, "Atheism" simply means "non-Theism" or a lack of belief in any deity.
    I'm aware of the definition. What it means to individual people is a different matter. One can be an atheist in regard to one God or several..although usually one chooses non-belief in all of them.
    subjective OPINIONS about what atheism means is completely irrelevant.
    what matters is the objective truth that atheism means non-theism.

    also i'd like to know more about the different stories of hell in history, and how hell has evolved as an idea over the centuries.

    i know of gehenna, which was an old name for hell. but its an actual place in israel.

    wiki article:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gehenna
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    Wow dejawolf, long time no see!
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
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    I wonder if the OP checked wiki? There are fairly extensive articles on these topics there along with scores of references for each.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hell

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afterlife

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Underworld
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    You are confusing what I'm trying to explain. The definition of something and the meaning of something are two different things. A definiton is a universally accepted (for the most part) brief explanation of something. The meaning goes deeper and involves the implications and descriptive characteristics of words. A simple definition won't always suffice to explain what makes one human, for example. I am attempting to display, (for lack of a better term) the aura exuded by atheists..the way they see themselves and are seen by others. The lambasting of Bronze Age superstitions and magic and tongue-in-cheek nihilism they often express as a group (the intellectual ones anyway)...the varied disbeliefs among them.
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    [quote="dejawolf"][quote="gottspieler"]
    To set the record straight, "Atheism" simply means "non-Theism" or a lack of belief in any deity.
    I don't agree that "atheism" is just a "lack of belief" that is founded on a "lack of empirical evidence" for the existence of God. Rather, I am wondering if atheism is a form of "denial" that could be similar to a "denial" that can be present in theists as well.

    For example, there is a parable called "The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man" where Abraham tells the rich man who was sent to hell (who wanted to warn his living relatives about hell) that if his relatives would not believe Moses and the prophets, then they would not believe even someone who has risen from the dead.

    I think this parable was directed at believers. There is some evidence, especially in the case of addictions, that people can find themselves in such a state of denial and self-delusion that the presence or absence of "evidence" is irrelevant.

    Also, the spiritual experiences that have been discussed here (tornadoes etc.) could just be an emotional response, or it could be a response to an interaction with the divine.
    For example, if nature or natural talent is the art work of God, then it is reasonable to say that one could experience a moving reaction because of an interaction with God, even if the interaction is only as an observer.

    If the second possibility is true, then you would expect that the interaction would change, grow, or intensify, if the observer seeks a closer interaction with the Artist eg. God.

    This was my experience, once I decided to seek God then the nature of the experiences changed in a way that I interpreted as being meant to teach me something about either the nature of God, or my own nature such as something I needed to improve on.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    I don't agree that "atheism" is just a "lack of belief" that is founded on a "lack of empirical evidence" for the existence of God. Rather, I am wondering if atheism is a form of "denial"
    For atheism to be a "form of denial," one would first have to prove without question the existence of god. Without that solid proof of existence, there is truly nothing to deny in the first place (except perhaps to deny to be taken in by a delusion held by others).
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    I don't agree that "atheism" is just a "lack of belief" that is founded on a "lack of empirical evidence" for the existence of God. Rather, I am wondering if atheism is a form of "denial"
    For atheism to be a "form of denial," one would first have to prove without question the existence of god. Without that solid proof of existence, there is truly nothing to deny in the first place (except perhaps to deny to be taken in by a delusion held by others).
    I don't think that "proving the existence of God" is necessary to find evidence of denial.

    This also opens the question of "How could you prove the existence of God?" It seems that if you try to prove the existence of God that has abilities that extend to dimensions that we don't understand, then the investigator's ability to find "evidence" is likely to be totally contingent on whether or not God chooses to provide it.

    This would be analogous to what a physics teacher or a football coach would reveal to a student/athlete who wanted to learn something. What is revealed is likely to depend on the attitude of the one who seeks the knowledge.

    So if an experiment could be designed to "find God", it would likely have to consider the Theology of God to have a chance of success.

    Also, an individual's behavior can show evidence of denial. If someone becomes defensive, engages in name calling etc., this can be evidence of denial. People with addictions are often highly defensive if someone threatens the addiction in a way that may not be present in other aspects of the person's life.

    The same defensiveness could come out in a theist, if you were to look deeper into his/her belief system--if for example, the person was in denial about his/her own level of cooperation with the God that he/she claims to believe in.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    I don't agree that "atheism" is just a "lack of belief" that is founded on a "lack of empirical evidence" for the existence of God. Rather, I am wondering if atheism is a form of "denial"
    For atheism to be a "form of denial," one would first have to prove without question the existence of god. Without that solid proof of existence, there is truly nothing to deny in the first place (except perhaps to deny to be taken in by a delusion held by others).
    I don't think that "proving the existence of God" is necessary to find evidence of denial.
    I agree. Finding evidence of denial is quite easy. However, my previous point remains and is wholly unrebutted. To find evidence of denial of god, one must first demonstrate without question that god's existence is a fact. Without that demonstration, the person being accused of denial is more accurately described as simply being rational and basing their thinking upon evidence and empiricism. They can hardly be blamed as being "in denial" merely for acknowledging the lack of evidence and lack of empirical support of something, and concurrently they can hardly be labeled as in denial for failing to accept a delusion with zero evidence in its favor.

    Are you in denial about the existence of Thor, Zeus, Apollo, unicorns, and leprechauns? Surely, you are not. You simply are waiting for valid evidence of their existence prior to accepting said existence as a part of your reality. It's truly no different for those who lack belief in your own personal version of god.
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    Wow dejawolf, long time no see!


    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    You are confusing what I'm trying to explain. The definition of something and the meaning of something are two different things. A definiton is a universally accepted (for the most part) brief explanation of something. The meaning goes deeper and involves the implications and descriptive characteristics of words. A simple definition won't always suffice to explain what makes one human, for example. I am attempting to display, (for lack of a better term) the aura exuded by atheists..the way they see themselves and are seen by others. The lambasting of Bronze Age superstitions and magic and tongue-in-cheek nihilism they often express as a group (the intellectual ones anyway)...the varied disbeliefs among them.
    the definition of clearly defined words is not something that should have to be discussed. if the definitions of words is not clearly defined then discussions will devolve into pointless semantic squabbles, or arguments over misunderstandings,
    as is currently the case.
    what you're saying is that you're trying to explain the "spiritual" emotions that the word atheism invokes? in other words sitting down and experiencing the emotions that are invoked when you say the word atheism to yourself?
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    What I'm saying is that there is a big difference between the definition of atheism and what most atheists truly are. Maybe they should invent a new word for what I'm trying to describe (perhaps empiricist would suffice in most circumstances). I'm simply saying that most of the time atheists are more than a textbook defintion of the word "atheist".
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    I don't agree that "atheism" is just a "lack of belief" that is founded on a "lack of empirical evidence" for the existence of God. Rather, I am wondering if atheism is a form of "denial"
    For atheism to be a "form of denial," one would first have to prove without question the existence of god. Without that solid proof of existence, there is truly nothing to deny in the first place (except perhaps to deny to be taken in by a delusion held by others).
    I don't think that "proving the existence of God" is necessary to find evidence of denial.
    I agree. Finding evidence of denial is quite easy. However, my previous point remains and is wholly unrebutted. To find evidence of denial of god, one must first demonstrate without question that god's existence is a fact. Without that demonstration, the person being accused of denial is more accurately described as simply being rational and basing their thinking upon evidence and empiricism. They can hardly be blamed as being "in denial" merely for acknowledging the lack of evidence and lack of empirical support of something, and concurrently they can hardly be labeled as in denial for failing to accept a delusion with zero evidence in its favor.

    Are you in denial about the existence of Thor, Zeus, Apollo, unicorns, and leprechauns? Surely, you are not. You simply are waiting for valid evidence of their existence prior to accepting said existence as a part of your reality. It's truly no different for those who lack belief in your own personal version of god.
    You could say that I was in denial about Thor etc. if I exhibited an emotional, or defensive posture about one of these belief systems.

    Thus, I don't think it is necessary to prove the existence of God to say that a person shows evidence of denial/defensiveness etc. about a particular belief system.

    For, example we have all seen episodes of people who engage in "gay bashing" that are later found out to have engaged in this activity themselves. These people have a personal "denial" about their own inclinations and their "bashing" is a reflection of this.

    You could also say that this could afflict people collectively, and a political system that might persecute Buddhists, for example, might attack Buddhists because they engage in behaviors or ideology that is condemned by the Buddhist teaching.

    Also, if someone is in "denial" then no amount of empirical evidence would satisfy the person. That is the message of the "Parable of the rich man and Lazarus", and there is evidence that people individually and collectively can be afflicted by denial and self-delusion in addictions, nationalism etc.

    Thus, I think it is reasonable to look at a person's behavior/response and say that there is evidence of "denial" without having to prove the merit of the object of the person's defensiveness.

    Atheism, may be a rejection of the lifestyle that the atheist believes is required by the theist belief system. This rejection could be actual or erroneous. For example, an atheist with 3 Porches might have a problem with a belief system that he thought might require him to have fewer Porches. Or, a person could be atheist because of encounters with misrepresentations of theism such as "legalism", or people who like to represent themselves as the one authorized to condemn others.

    Thus, irrespective of religious beliefs, it is clear from seeing the myriad of ways that individuals and even nations can follow a course of denial and self-delusion leading to a WEC wreckage of their lives, that it is a good idea to speculate about what might be the best defense to protect oneself from falling into this trap.

    I don't know the answer to this question. So this is just a speculation. However, I think part of the answer for individuals could be:

    1. Get regular instruction from some sort of a moral belief system or code.
    2. Engage in regular self-reflection about your own position relative to whatever belief system that you aspire to emulate.
    3. Get feedback from others.

    In regards to #1, if the belief system you try to follow involved belief in a God (as opposed to the Boy Scouts or Buddhism etc.) then you would expect that God would find a way to make sure you get some feedback in a way that would increase your own confidence in the belief system you are following, whether or not the evidence was useful to others in an "empirical sense".
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    You could say that I was in denial about Thor etc. if I exhibited an emotional, or defensive posture about one of these belief systems.
    Which you would if you were vastly outnumbered by a bunch of Thor worshippers that wanted to run a Viking state and influence science and schooling with superstition, no?

    Atheism, may be a rejection of the lifestyle that the atheist believes is required by the theist belief system.
    Now think about this again. How stupid would you have to be to deny the existence of a god you know exists, just so you can live a non-Christian lifestyle? Because in the end you still have to know he exists for you to be able to reject him, no? Who would want to do what they wanted during their lifetime, knowing they would spend an eternity in Hell? Only insane people would, or maybe from your perspective, deeply wicked people. Is that how you think of atheists?

    Please understand this: Speaking for myself at least as a bona fide atheist, I have the same level of belief in a Christian god that I have in Thor, fairies and Ra. That is, none whatsoever. That means I don't believe in a god, go to church, pray or hope for an afterlife because to me no god or afterlife exists, period. That does not mean I am a hedonist. I am a very moral person and I care for others because I have empathy.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    You could say that I was in denial about Thor etc. if I exhibited an emotional, or defensive posture about one of these belief systems.
    Yes, I could say that, but then I would be wrong. As I stated above, it is the evidence of some aspect of external reality which must first be present before one can deny it. There is no evidence of Thor in external reality, nor is there evidence of Zeus, and nor is there evidence of your personal god.

    Without that evidence in the external reality, there is nothing to deny, and you are simply incorrect with your suggestion.


    From the DSM-IV:

    Denial

    Avoiding the awareness of some painful aspect of reality by negating sensory data. Although repression defends against affects and drive derivatives, denial abolishes external reality. Denial may be used in both normal and pathological states.

    I don't deny that you personally believe some cosmic sky pixie which you call god exists, but I'm most certainly not in denial that it exists since there is zero evidence suggesting it does. I'm what you call "reasonable," and not caught in a collective delusion about deities and childish ethereal dictators.
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    In paraphrasing the Bible, God told us not to partake of the tree of good/evil knowledge lest we die. I take that to mean the original intent of God was for man to live forever on this little blue planet. IOW there was no afterlife, no heaven or hell in the original plans. Man was to never die accidentally, of old age, sickness, asteroid hits, celestial explosions or any of a myriad of other ways.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    You could say that I was in denial about Thor etc. if I exhibited an emotional, or defensive posture about one of these belief systems.
    Which you would if you were vastly outnumbered by a bunch of Thor worshippers that wanted to run a Viking state and influence science and schooling with superstition, no?
    This is a hypothetical. In general, I don't know how I would react in such a situation except that people who have different political beliefs from mine often come to power and cause great harm (from my perspective). Thus, I don't see why I would react differently in your hypothetical scenario than I would to people with a different political ideology. The only difference would be "vastly outnumbered"--that could create a defensiveness.

    Atheism, may be a rejection of the lifestyle that the atheist believes is required by the theist belief system.
    Now think about this again. How stupid would you have to be to deny the existence of a god you know exists, just so you can live a non-Christian lifestyle? Because in the end you still have to know he exists for you to be able to reject him, no? Who would want to do what they wanted during their lifetime, knowing they would spend an eternity in Hell? Only insane people would, or maybe from your perspective, deeply wicked people. Is that how you think of atheists?

    Please understand this: Speaking for myself at least as a bona fide atheist, I have the same level of belief in a Christian god that I have in Thor, fairies and Ra. That is, none whatsoever. That means I don't believe in a god, go to church, pray or hope for an afterlife because to me no god or afterlife exists, period. That does not mean I am a hedonist. I am a very moral person and I care for others because I have empathy.
    No, don't think I said atheists are wicked. I am also not saying you are a hedonist. However, people make choices in a myriad of situations that can lead to a progressive distortion of their perception of reality.

    People do not choose between: "Should I be a drug addict? Or Should I go to college and study hard? It is not that simple. And, people don't choose: Hell vs. a life that avoids Hell in one big moment. It is a series of small choices that can be progressive, and associated with an element of denial.

    This probably affects all of us to some degree. Since there are so many ways for people individually and collectively to wreck their lives, none of us can rule out the possibility that we are not affected by some process that is associated with denial.

    People in denial are notorious for refusing to believe evidence accepted by others. If you try and take the perspective of God, who can see every affliction, addiction, vice, and denial in each person, then God might know that no evidence will change a person's point of view without first removing the denial, or until the person achieves a certain level of "receptivity". Thus, God might choose to provide "evidence" to those that seek Him, since providing evidence in a more reproducible scenario would be pointless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by inow
    I'm what you call "reasonable," and not caught in a collective delusion about deities and childish ethereal dictators.
    I am sure you are reasonable in most aspects of your life. However, your description of God supports the idea that providing "empirical or reproducible" evidence for God's existence as a precondition to "belief" would be pointless.

    For example, if God put some sort of castle in the clouds that you could easily see for yourself, you would likely continue to believe that God is a "dictator" because you might know that God exists, but you would have a wrong view about the nature of God.

    Knowing this, God could choose to provide "evidence" to each person individually, so that wrong views about the nature of God are dispelled.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    You could say that I was in denial about Thor etc. if I exhibited an emotional, or defensive posture about one of these belief systems.
    Which you would if you were vastly outnumbered by a bunch of Thor worshippers that wanted to run a Viking state and influence science and schooling with superstition, no?
    This is a hypothetical. In general, I don't know how I would react in such a situation except that people who have different political beliefs from mine often come to power and cause great harm (from my perspective). Thus, I don't see why I would react differently in your hypothetical scenario than I would to people with a different political ideology. The only difference would be "vastly outnumbered"--that could create a defensiveness.
    See, this is how I see it. Science is in jeopardy, because people with superstitions want to have a nation run according to those superstitions (apart from most of the morals, which I would agree with), with their superstition taught in science class instead of real science and stopping stem cell research because they think they are killing a clump of cells with a soul.

    No, don't think I said atheists are wicked. I am also not saying you are a hedonist. However, people make choices in a myriad of situations that can lead to a progressive distortion of their perception of reality.
    But what do you mean by this? Can atheists not maintain a good moral standard?

    People do not choose between: "Should I be a drug addict? Or Should I go to college and study hard? It is not that simple. And, people don't choose: Hell vs. a life that avoids Hell in one big moment. It is a series of small choices that can be progressive, and associated with an element of denial.
    Sure, but we are talking about something different than your everyday stuff here. We are talking about the idea that a being is watching your every move, judging you, and is ready to cast you into a kind of infinite torture the like of which we cannot possibly imagine; a kind of torture I would not wish on the worst person imaginable. This is not something trivial here. It can't get any less trivial.

    This probably affects all of us to some degree. Since there are so many ways for people individually and collectively to wreck their lives, none of us can rule out the possibility that we are not affected by some process that is associated with denial.
    Granted, we are all prone to denial.

    People in denial are notorious for refusing to believe evidence accepted by others.
    That swings both ways, don't you think? Ask yourself: How many professed Christians or theists actually really believe in god? How many of them really act as if they really believe the creator of the universe is watching them 24/7 and knows everything they are thinking at any moment? Do you act that way? Think about it.


    If you try and take the perspective of God, who can see every affliction, addiction, vice, and denial in each person,
    Doing this is one of the reasons I have concluded that a huge part of the whole mythology is bogus and man made. What kind of being that really understands us like you suggest could possibly see fit to banish someone to eternal hell? Nothing and nobody could ever deserve such a sickening punishment. As an exercise, try and imagine being locked in a 55 gallon drum, unable to sleep, stand up or even die for a year. The idea alone is worse than anything you can imagine and that is only one year's worth of punishment. Now how mind bogglingly terrible must any eternal punishment be?

    then God might know that no evidence will change a person's point of view without first removing the denial, or until the person achieves a certain level of "receptivity".
    And this level of "receptivity" is spelled out in the Bible: We must have the faith of a child, i.e. blind, unquestioning faith. But faith in what exactly? Faith in what interpretation of the Bible? Faith even in direct contradiction of scientific facts? Faith that is dictated to you by some other guy in an authority position? None of it makes any sense outside of the whole thing being made up.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    See, this is how I see it. Science is in jeopardy, because people with superstitions want to have a nation run according to those superstitions (apart from most of the morals, which I would agree with), with their superstition taught in science class instead of real science and stopping stem cell research because they think they are killing a clump of cells with a soul.
    Kalster, I don't have a good understanding of stem cell research and where to "draw the line". In general, I am against abortion based on religious and possibly scientific grounds. However, I will also say that life is not "black and white" and I have made decisions in my job, and personal life that either a zealot or a dichotomous thinking condemning type would tell me was murder. Since I have foolishly exposed myself to such types (and been accused by them), I avoid such people. If in doubt, I ask a priest. The ones I have talked to have been very understanding and compassionate people.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    But what do you mean by this? Can atheists not maintain a good moral standard?
    Yes, I believe an atheist can maintain a good moral standard. However, I also believe that willful separation from God can prevent a person from either being as "moral" as he/she might otherwise be. Also, I believe that if God has a purpose or a destiny for each person, then a person separated from God will not reach their potential. This applies to atheists and luke warm theists. It could apply to me as well.

    This is embarrassing to recount this; however, several years ago I had this "experience" that I interpreted of being designed to warn me about this.
    Myself and two other surfers were bringing some kids in that had been caught in a rip current and were being sucked out to sea. While bringing the kid in, I was tiring when I was close to shore. I could not believe it, but I was really concerned about my ability to make it in. I was paddling in the rip and, the board was not planing over it because of the weight of the kid. On either side, the waves were bigger and I was afraid of losing the kid if a wave broke on us. Well, we made it in, but I did ask the kid to help paddle before this "experience" was over.

    After leaving the kid with his friends, we headed home and this thought came to me like some sort of telepathy. The thought said something like: "You could be in better shape (physically and spiritually). I can't lead you unless you train harder. The consequences of being spiritually weak (blind) is not just that you could suffer, but that innocent people like that kid could suffer from your blindness."


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Sure, but we are talking about something different than your everyday stuff here. We are talking about the idea that a being is watching your every move, judging you, and is ready to cast you into a kind of infinite torture the like of which we cannot possibly imagine; a kind of torture I would not wish on the worst person imaginable. This is not something trivial here. It can't get any less trivial.
    I think your characterization of God is in error. A more reasonable characterization would be that God accompanies you throughout your life, warns you about mistakes you are about to make, encourages you when you are afraid, picks you up when you fall, etc. That is a more accurate description. However, I cannot explain why Hell exists. It may be that every other possible scenario would cause even more suffering. I am just speculating. However, it will not be much consolation to gain understanding of why there is a Hell, after one ends up there. It would be much better to just not go.

    People in denial are notorious for refusing to believe evidence accepted by others.
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    That swings both ways, don't you think? Ask yourself: How many professed Christians or theists actually really believe in god? How many of them really act as if they really believe the creator of the universe is watching them 24/7 and knows everything they are thinking at any moment? Do you act that way? Think about it.
    That is the point of the parable of Lazarus and the Rich man. We are warned to regularly assess our lives with specific attention to how much effort we make for the suffering vs. attachment to worldly goods. In fact, I am assuming that when this parable came to me as something to use in this thread, then that it is something I need to reflect on myself.


    If you try and take the perspective of God, who can see every affliction, addiction, vice, and denial in each person,
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Doing this is one of the reasons I have concluded that a huge part of the whole mythology is bogus and man made. What kind of being that really understands us like you suggest could possibly see fit to banish someone to eternal hell? Nothing and nobody could ever deserve such a sickening punishment. As an exercise, try and imagine being locked in a 55 gallon drum, unable to sleep, stand up or even die for a year. The idea alone is worse than anything you can imagine and that is only one year's worth of punishment. Now how mind bogglingly terrible must any eternal punishment be?
    Same answer as above. I cannot explain Hell except to say that other alternatives could be worse for creation as a whole. Once I read a fictional work that proposed that God can see the future because He can see all possible futures. Thus, God may be able to see the results of other options that we cannot see.

    then God might know that no evidence will change a person's point of view without first removing the denial, or until the person achieves a certain level of "receptivity".
    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    And this level of "receptivity" is spelled out in the Bible: We must have the faith of a child, i.e. blind, unquestioning faith. But faith in what exactly? Faith in what interpretation of the Bible? Faith even in direct contradiction of scientific facts? Faith that is dictated to you by some other guy in an authority position? None of it makes any sense outside of the whole thing being made up.
    Faith is something I am trying to understand myself. The last instruction I had on this explained that faith is something that grows with time with God, especially with time spent reading the Bible with "intention". So it is like a skill you train and develop. "Coincidentally", several times after listening to these CD's, situations have been coming up that I have only rarely experienced in the past that seem to be testing what I learned on the CDs. For example, twice in the past month, it appeared that we would be "stranded" at the airport in a Northeastern USA city. Both times, within minutes after a "faith affirmation" we were sent running off to another gate to board an alternative flight.
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