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From atheism to tentative agnosticism
#11
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 7:33 pm)Inigo Wrote:
(June 30, 2013 at 7:24 pm)paulpablo Wrote: I'm guessing you believe in a separate god for the separate moral standards of every human?

Why do you think I think that?

Morality has a whole host of features. I have mentioned two that are widely agreed upon among moral philosophers (the normativity and rational authority of morality). I mentioned those two because they seem to me to be conceptual truths. In other words, I think they're non-negotiable. But there are other features as well. One is that morality is unified. There is morality, not moralities.

What sort of morals are unified?


Are you ready for the fire? We are firemen. WE ARE FIREMEN! The heat doesn’t bother us. We live in the heat. We train in the heat. It tells us that we’re ready, we’re at home, we’re where we’re supposed to be. Flames don’t intimidate us. What do we do? We control the flame. We control them. We move the flames where we want to. And then we extinguish them.

Impersonation is treason.





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#12
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 7:32 pm)paulpablo Wrote:
Quote:And so it would take the existence of such an agent to vindicate those sensations and beliefs. Atheism is the view that there is no god or gods and thus that all such sensations are hallucinations and that all beliefs in god are false.

There is no specific atheist belief regarding feelings that there is a god, I personally think the feelings of spirituality are bullshit but not because of hallucinations or falseness, I just think the body can feel ecstatic, deep and/or emotional and that this is misinterpreted as being something supernatural or religious. So i would agree with you when you use the word false but not when you say the feelings must be hallucinations, I believe the feelings are real but just that they aren't from god, they are biological.

You may be right about sensations of a god. I do not have any such sensations and so I cannot directly attest to their existence. But the point is that the existence of a sensation does not entail the existence of the thing the sensation gives the impression of. Sometimes it does. For instance, if you sense that you are in pain, you are in pain (you can't really have the hallucination of pain). But if I see a pig it does not follow that there is a pig in front of me, for I may be hallucinating (I may just be dreaming).

So if - if - there is something like a 'sense of god' this would not show a god to exist. It would just show that sensations that give the impression of the existence of a god exist. If atheism is true then these sensations would constitute hallucinations.

My point - my worry - is that if atheism is true then our moral sensations constitute hallucinations too. They are hallucinations of external instructions that have rational authority. No such things exist, it seems to me, if atheism is true. The sensations exist - that's not in any doubt at all. But moral sensations are not like pain sensations. Moral sensations give us the impression of external instructions that have rational authority. There would need to be such things 'out there' so to speak for those sensations to be anything other than hallucinations that helped our ancestors make more babies.
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#13
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 7:41 pm)Inigo Wrote:
(June 30, 2013 at 7:32 pm)paulpablo Wrote: There is no specific atheist belief regarding feelings that there is a god, I personally think the feelings of spirituality are bullshit but not because of hallucinations or falseness, I just think the body can feel ecstatic, deep and/or emotional and that this is misinterpreted as being something supernatural or religious. So i would agree with you when you use the word false but not when you say the feelings must be hallucinations, I believe the feelings are real but just that they aren't from god, they are biological.

You may be right about sensations of a god. I do not have any such sensations and so I cannot directly attest to their existence. But the point is that the existence of a sensation does not entail the existence of the thing the sensation gives the impression of. Sometimes it does. For instance, if you sense that you are in pain, you are in pain (you can't really have the hallucination of pain). But if I see a pig it does not follow that there is a pig in front of me, for I may be hallucinating (I may just be dreaming).

So if - if - there is something like a 'sense of god' this would not show a god to exist. It would just show that sensations that give the impression of the existence of a god exist. If atheism is true then these sensations would constitute hallucinations.

My point - my worry - is that if atheism is true then our moral sensations constitute hallucinations too. They are hallucinations of external instructions that have rational authority. No such things exist, it seems to me, if atheism is true. The sensations exist - that's not in any doubt at all. But moral sensations are not like pain sensations. Moral sensations give us the impression of external instructions that have rational authority. There would need to be such things 'out there' so to speak for those sensations to be anything other than hallucinations that helped our ancestors make more babies.

If you're worried that moral sensations may constitute hallucinations you have way too much time on your hands for worrying.
As I said before parents, guardians and surroundings are what usually supplies morality, that and a development of the ability to empathize with other people. A lot of morality is brainwashed into us when we are young so it isn't surprising you do it anyway even if there is no benefit.


Are you ready for the fire? We are firemen. WE ARE FIREMEN! The heat doesn’t bother us. We live in the heat. We train in the heat. It tells us that we’re ready, we’re at home, we’re where we’re supposed to be. Flames don’t intimidate us. What do we do? We control the flame. We control them. We move the flames where we want to. And then we extinguish them.

Impersonation is treason.





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#14
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
What sort of morals are unified?
[/quote]

I'm not really sure I understand the question. Sorry.

I would claim that our concept of morality is of one thing (one thing about which we disagree - so there is a lot of disagreement about what morality wants us to do, and to what extent someone's particular situation alters what morality wants us to do).

It doesn't really matter though, as if I am wrong about that it wouldn't do anything to restore atheism's damaged credibility as it would just imply that morality - or moralities if one prefers - presuppose lots of gods.
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#15
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 6:58 pm)Inigo Wrote: Well, because morality is normative: it instructs and favours. When I sense that an act is morally wrong it appears to me that the act is in some way 'not to be done' - it is as if the universe itself wishes me not to do it. ... Now, perhaps we are all just suffering some kind of hallucination when we sense that some acts are right and others wrong. Perhaps there is no rightness or wrongness out there in reality. But most of us have the impression that rightness and wrongness exist. And it is hard - hard for me, anyway - to make sense of how such features could really exist unless a god exists. This is not to say that a god exists, just that morality - if it is to be real - requires a god.
Because I think morality is real, this raises a doubt about atheism.

Human morality is an instinct which we have evolved. We see similar moral behavior in other social animals, such as wolves and chimpanzees. There's nothing supernatural going on here. You have a deep, gut feeling of morality and immorality for the same reason that you feel an instinctive need to eat or breathe. None of these are indicative of some greater, powerful, creative force. Our moral instincts have been part of our species' survival. And beyond our basic moral instincts, which acts we consider moral and immoral are the result of social conditioning.
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#16
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
What I am saying is that lots of people have a different moral standard, so do you believe that there is a different god for every person? Billions of gods? One god telling people of tribes they should go out and kill and not be cowardly, one god telling a person to donate to charity, another telling a person to kill the whales to make supernatural mystical medicine for the poor people and another god telling the green peace people to stop the people killing the whales?


Are you ready for the fire? We are firemen. WE ARE FIREMEN! The heat doesn’t bother us. We live in the heat. We train in the heat. It tells us that we’re ready, we’re at home, we’re where we’re supposed to be. Flames don’t intimidate us. What do we do? We control the flame. We control them. We move the flames where we want to. And then we extinguish them.

Impersonation is treason.





Reply
#17
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
Human morality is an instinct which we have evolved. We see similar moral behavior in other social animals, such as wolves and chimpanzees. There's nothing supernatural going on here. You have a deep, gut feeling of morality and immorality for the same reason that you feel an instinctive need to eat or breathe. None of these are indicative of some greater, powerful, creative force. Our moral instincts have been part of our species' survival. And beyond our basic moral instincts, which acts we consider moral and immoral are the result of social conditioning.
[/quote]

But that is an account of moral phenomena. Assume I agree with it. It doesn't show morality to exist. It just provides an account of how it has come to pass that there appears to be something we call 'morality'.
One can provide a similar account of belief in god. No doubt a disposition to believe in a god (and perhaps to sense that there is a god) has conferred an evolutionary advantage on those who have had it (made them happier and thus more successful breeders). You wouldn't accept that such an account shows a god to exist, would you? That's because a god is not a sensation or a belief.

Well, the same is true for morality. A disposition to experience the world as a place that contains external instructions with which we have inescapable reason to comply has no doubt conferred an evolutionary advantage on those who have it. It does not follow that any such things exist. The advantage was conferred by the mere appearance of such things. So, the hallucination of morality conferred the advantage. No need for morality to actually exist. And indeed, my whole point is that it doesn't seem possible for it to actually exist in the absence of a god.
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#18
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
Atheism is not the view that there are no god. Some proportion of individual atheists may indeed subscribe to that view, but there is nothing in atheism that proposes or requires it. Atheism is simply the response to theism, that theistic claims have not met their burden of proof.

As to the morality thing, echoing pablo's comments: wouldn't it be useful if any supposed supernatural outside agency instructing on our morals at least made sure that the instructions are consistent? Yet different cultures throughout history have had their own ideas about what constitutes a moral way of life. That's sort of why the Commandments were supposedly concocted, because clearly nobody before Charlton Heston's time managed to figure out that murder wasn't really a nice thing to do. No, I don't pretend that happened either, but the point still remains.
At the age of five, Skagra decided emphatically that God did not exist.  This revelation tends to make most people in the universe who have it react in one of two ways - with relief or with despair.  Only Skagra responded to it by thinking, 'Wait a second.  That means there's a situation vacant.'
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#19
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
I don't think that the hair's breath difference between Atheism and the Agnostic position that you've arrived at is worth much. You seem like a rational sort, you are against religion, which is the real problem in this world. Not a big deal for me.
[Image: dcep7c.jpg]
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#20
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 8:09 pm)CapnAwesome Wrote: I don't think that the hair's breath difference between Atheism and the Agnostic position that you've arrived at is worth much. You seem like a rational sort, you are against religion, which is the real problem in this world. Not a big deal for me.

Hmm, but atheism is false if even one god exists. I'm anti religion because, well, religious people are not interested in reason and evidence. But being pro reason and evidence does not seem to me to lead to atheism at the mo.

(June 30, 2013 at 8:07 pm)Stimbo Wrote: Atheism is not the view that there are no god. Some proportion of individual atheists may indeed subscribe to that view, but there is nothing in atheism that proposes or requires it. Atheism is simply the response to theism, that theistic claims have not met their burden of proof.

As to the morality thing, echoing pablo's comments: wouldn't it be useful if any supposed supernatural outside agency instructing on our morals at least made sure that the instructions are consistent? Yet different cultures throughout history have had their own ideas about what constitutes a moral way of life. That's sort of why the Commandments were supposedly concocted, because clearly nobody before Charlton Heston's time managed to figure out that murder wasn't really a nice thing to do. No, I don't pretend that happened either, but the point still remains.

It doesn't really matter what one labels a view, what matters are the arguments that can be mustered for it. I think it is a shame that so many debates get sidetracked into tedious semantic discussions about what exactly terms like 'atheist' mean.

I use the term 'atheism' to refer to the view that no god or gods exist. I use the term 'atheist' to refer to someone who believes atheism to be true. This is how everyone I've met uses those terms as well. But, well, it is what I understand by them. If someone means something else then they're welcome to use the term to mean whatever they like.

I would understand the term 'theist' to refer to someone who believed in the Judaeo Christian god, but perhaps I'm wrong about that. I think it would be unusual for someone who believed in, say, Thor to describe themselves as an 'atheist'. So I assume atheism - as currently used - does not refer to the view merely that no theistic god exists, but that no supernatural agencies of any kind exist. I think that's how Dennett and Dawkins etc would use the term.

But anyway, it does not really matter.
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