SCIENCE VS RELIGION

General discussions of interest to readers and fans of Harlan Ellison.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Nov 17, 2014 3:11 pm

FrankChurch wrote:Ezra, can there be such a thing as an atheist Chaplin?


Yes as a matter of fact I think Charlie was an atheist.
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Ben W.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ben W. » Mon Nov 17, 2014 7:48 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:Yes as a matter of fact I think Charlie was an atheist.


Wrong. From My Father, Charlie Chaplin:

"I’m not an atheist. I’m definitely an agnostic. Some scientists say that if the world were to stop revolving we’d all disintegrate. But the world keeps on going. Something must be holding us all in place–some Supreme Force. But what it is I couldn’t tell you."

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Mon Nov 17, 2014 9:57 pm

Thanks for that clarification Ben.

Maybe Charlie was a chaplain.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Steve Barber
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Barber » Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:28 am

Fascinating comment by actor/director/writer Alan Alda.

For a while in my teens, I was sure I had it. It was about getting to heaven. If heaven existed and lasted forever, then a mere lifetime spent scrupulously following orders was a small investment for an infinite payoff. One day, though, I realized I was no longer a believer, and realizing that, I couldn’t go back. Not that I lost the urge to pray. Occasionally, even after I stopped believing, I might send off a quick memo to the Master of the Universe, usually on a matter needing urgent attention, like Oh, God, don’t let us crash. These were automatic expulsions of words, brief SOS messages from the base of my brain. They were similar to the short prayers that were admired by the church in my Catholic boyhood, which they called “ejaculations.” I always liked the idea that you could shorten your time in purgatory with each ejaculation; what boy wouldn’t find that a comforting idea? But my effort to keep the plane in the air by talking to God didn’t mean I suddenly was overcome with belief, only that I was scared. Whether I’d wake up in heaven someday or not, whatever meaning I found would have to occur first on this end of eternity.

I still don't like the word agnostic. It's too fancy. I'm simply not a believer. But, as simple as this notion is, it confuses some people. Someone wrote a Wikipedia entry about me, identifying me as an atheist because I'd said in a book I wrote that I wasn't a believer. I guess in a world uncomfortable with uncertainty, an unbeliever must be an atheist, and possibly an infidel. This gets us back to that most pressing of human questions: why do people worry so much about other people's holding beliefs other than their own?
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Ezra Lb.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:41 am

I still don't like the word agnostic. It's too fancy. I'm simply not a believer. But, as simple as this notion is, it confuses some people. Someone wrote a Wikipedia entry about me, identifying me as an atheist because I'd said in a book I wrote that I wasn't a believer. I guess in a world uncomfortable with uncertainty, an unbeliever must be an atheist, and possibly an infidel. This gets us back to that most pressing of human questions: why do people worry so much about other people's holding beliefs other than their own?

Words! It is pretty simple actually. If you don't believe in god you're an atheist. It doesn't matter why you don't believe. It doesn't matter how confident you are about it. Why? Because that's what the word means. But of course there's a reason people like Alda and Neil deGrasse Tyson are afraid of the word. Because in a culture suffused with religion it carries a great deal of opprobrium. We're all immoral Stalinist baby eaters.

I worry about other people's beliefs only to the degree I'm forced to do so. When they insist that I defer to them or privilege them. If religious believers were content to mind their own business you'd hear nothing out of me.
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
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Steve Barber
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Steve Barber » Tue Nov 18, 2014 10:14 am

Sort of. The word "atheist" does have a militant interpretation for many of the theists. An "anti" versus simply not believing. There is, as I'm certain you will agree, a difference between simply not believing (as Alda does) and objecting to and actively opposing the belief system (as many self-avowed atheists do).

To me it's a question of indifference. If I don't believe in a god, then I simply don't believe. Atheism denotes an activism that isn't thee for simply no belief.

Or, in a similar vein, the opposite of love is not hate, but indifference. The opposite of hate is also indifference.

If I'm indifferent, why would I be militant about it? Who cares? My good friend Jim and I remain friends, even though I don't believe in his God. Yeah, I get irritated sometimes when he attributes something to God when Jim did it, or his wife did it. They're abdicating credit for something they achieved. But I don't try to disprove his God. (I do argue about the age of the universe and where we came from as a species, mind you. Scientific inaccuracy isn't religion...)

Arguing with believers that there is no God isn't indifference.
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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:17 pm

Atheism is fake rebellion. Agnostics just seem not aggressive enough for them. This is a form of philosophical punk. Being an atheist makes you cool. Religious people are just stick in the muds.

Dorothy Day certainly was rebellious.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Lori Koonce » Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:41 pm

Fuck Frank, have you ever heard the phrase self-fulfilling prophecy?


Neither I nor any of the other atheists have displayed the attitude your describing. Matter of fact we've been trying to understand you guys through dialog with you. If any one has come off with an attitude its been you. If you look for something hard enough you'll find it. Jesus himself said seek and you shall find...

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Tue Nov 18, 2014 12:50 pm

FrankChurch wrote:Atheism is fake rebellion. Agnostics just seem not aggressive enough for them. This is a form of philosophical punk. Being an atheist makes you cool. Religious people are just stick in the muds.

Dorothy Day certainly was rebellious.


Now, that's a whole lot of objectionable assuming shoved into a little-bitty package.

Fake rebellion? In whose view? Probably the believers. A parent may see their child's insistence on doing something "rebellious" (long hair, mohawks, tattoos, nose-rings) as pointless and therefore possibly "fake" but for the kid there is perhaps serious intent there and the more the adults try to make it unimportant or irrelevant (as opposed to ignoring it) the more committed is the rebellion.

But in this case, I think that's even stretching things. Atheism is a very fraught position to take and I've never encountered a "fashion atheist." Where would that play cool? Among other atheists, maybe, but if it wasn't a sincere position the fraud would quickly become insupportable and the charade abandoned, which would mean the poser was never an atheist to begin with. But you didn't make a distinction for the real vs. the weekenders, you called into question the position itself, which is like saying that "christianity is fake morality."

Agnositicism seems to some like Pascal's Wager, inside out. Keeping options open, sitting the fence, one foot in the other not. Feels lacking in conviction, but that's not for us to judge. Aggressiveness has little to do with it.

As for why people are so concerned with other peoples' beliefs, that's kind of self-evident, isn't it? Belief contours culture, directs policy, imprints ethics, and empowers activism. It's not passive. It's a question of who to trust. Which is why I think it is very important to understand your own beliefs as firmly as possible rather than rely on the received wisdom of a group and just vote party.

My view of the universe allows for a wide, wide range of acceptance. I can accommodate a lot of what I consider woo-woo before it becomes untenable. The more doctrinaire a set of beliefs is, the less range is available in this regard.

As to the aggressiveness of atheists...I do not approve of people trotting out their ideologies at the drop of a hat wherever they go, so if atheists lead with that in mixed groups I find it as unacceptable as someone who marches into a party where alcohol is being served and starts telling everyone about their Baptist beliefs. But until recent history, atheists have had to put up with silent censure pretty much across the board. The bleating of christian apologists about how they're being "oppressed" because they have to accommodate other beliefs makes me sick. Labeling atheism as fake rebellion and an act of philosophical punking is a species of this kind of get-back, a way of making believers feel better about thinking themselves superior (because they're "saved" and we're not, whatever that's supposed to mean---I have yet to get a sound answer of what exactly it is I'm supposed to be "saved" from, and if in fact a christian has been "saved" why do they all have to keep praying for it?), and reminding atheists that any day now the morality police could start cracking down again like they used to.

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Ezra Lb.
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Ezra Lb. » Tue Nov 18, 2014 7:50 pm

The word "atheist" does have a militant interpretation for many of the theists. An "anti" versus simply not believing.

Sure, but not my problem. Our very existence is an offense to them. We don't have to actually do anything.

There is, as I'm certain you will agree, a difference between simply not believing (as Alda does) and objecting to and actively opposing the belief system (as many self-avowed atheists do).

As I already said, all you have to do to be an atheist is simply not believe in a god. That's what the word means. Someone who doesn't believe in a god. Joseph Stalin was an atheist. So is the Dalai Lama. Their motivations are worlds apart but neither one believe in a god. So they're atheists.

Atheism denotes an activism that isn't thee for simply no belief.

Atheism imposes no obligations whatsoever. Some unbelievers are uncomfortable with confrontation, others enjoy it (perhaps too much). Both are still atheists. Why? Because they don't believe in a god. That's all it takes.

If I'm indifferent, why would I be militant about it?

I'm anything but indifferent and you don't get to call me militant until I fly a plane into a building or start shooting televangelists.

But I don't try to disprove his God.

I don't have to disprove anything and I'm not trying. How would I do that anyway? What I am doing is saying that I don't believe in god because I don't see any good reason to believe. Atheism is not an affirmation. It's a denial. Apparently my "militancy" consists of asking believers what they believe and how they came to that belief. In light of 1 Peter 3:15 I'm continuously astonished at how unprepared many believers are to respond. As I said atheists are under no obligation to engage in debate. Christian believers on the other hand kinda are.

Who cares?

I do. I have no influence or any standing whatsoever but I feel an obligation as a person who at least attempts to think things through to speak out against ideas which I think are dangerous and destructive. There are times when silence is culpability. And truthfully it does come down a lot to personality. I am constitutionally incapable of sitting quietly while nonsense is being spoken. Of course I run the risk of rendering myself obnoxious. I realize my nature and as a result am very circumspect about it. You pick your spots and you consider the speaker. But who are these people who want to hush us up? What are their motivations?
“We must not always talk in the marketplace,” Hester Prynne said, “of what happens to us in the forest.”
-Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter

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Rick Keeney
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Rick Keeney » Tue Nov 18, 2014 8:58 pm

Ben W. wrote:
Ezra Lb. wrote:Yes as a matter of fact I think Charlie was an atheist.


Wrong. From My Father, Charlie Chaplin:

"I’m not an atheist. I’m definitely an agnostic. Some scientists say that if the world were to stop revolving we’d all disintegrate. But the world keeps on going. Something must be holding us all in place–some Supreme Force. But what it is I couldn’t tell you."


Surely Charlie had heard of gravity. Even Bible-thumpers like me acknowledge forces of nature!

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Tue Nov 18, 2014 9:27 pm

I just thought of an example of the kind of mindset I would willingly militate against, at least verbally, and do.

Man has a massive coronary. The EMT arrives, three guys work on him to keep him alive till he gets to the hospital. Turns out he has no insurance, but it doesn't matter, they bring him into the emergency room, and a team of skilled people fall on his case and work mightily and against the odds save his life. He stays in the hospital a week for observation, receives attention, gets released still walking.

His family praises god for the miracle. Not a word of thanks to the EMT people or the doctors, not a bit of acknowledgment about their skill and dedication, but god gets all the thanks. They put what meager money they may have in the collection plate next Sunday. Next election they vote for the Bible-thumping Rethuglican who is vowing to fight against public health care.

That's when religion is toxic to society and everybody pays for it.

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FrankChurch
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby FrankChurch » Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:46 am

What if God gave man the ability to be doctors?

He did provide all those convenient meds.

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Lori Koonce
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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Lori Koonce » Wed Nov 19, 2014 10:56 am

FrankChurch wrote:What if God gave man the ability to be doctors?

He did provide all those convenient meds.


Yeah, and he supposedly gave us free will. Which means that those people still made the choice to become doctors.

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Re: SCIENCE VS RELIGION

Postby Mark Tiedemann » Wed Nov 19, 2014 11:10 am

FrankChurch wrote:What if God gave man the ability to be doctors?

He did provide all those convenient meds.


You managed to miss my point after all.


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