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From atheism to tentative agnosticism
#1
From atheism to tentative agnosticism
I'm not sure this is a conversion story as such, and anyway it goes in the wrong direction. So, if anything, I am here to see if anyone can show me the error of my ways so that I can go back to atheism.

I was brought up an atheist and would have described myself as such until very recently. However, I no longer have any great confidence in the truth of atheism. This is not due to any kind of religious experience. Rather, it is entirely due to reflection on the nature of morality and reason. I now take seriously that both may presuppose a god of some sort. Not, note, a Judaeo Christian god. Just a powerful supernatural agency.

And so I am here to see if I am misguided in some way. I have no sympathies with any religious groups or beliefs - indeed, I take all religions to be just so much mumbo jumbo. And I have no time for those who believe in a god on the basis of faith.
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#2
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
I agree they may be something supernatural outside the universe but what does that have to do with morality?


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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#3
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
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. Furthermore, it seems that the very existence of this kind of external instruction confers a reason to abide, regardless of any desires or interests I may have. I do not think I am unusual in having such impressions, for these features of morality are well attested to. Its 'normativity' is, I think a conceptual truth and many would say - and I'm inclined to agree - that is rational authority is as well. In other words, part of what makes a moral norm a moral norm is precisely the fact it is one that confers a reason for compliance regardless of any of our interests.
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.
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#4
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
Well I gave pretty much the same answer on your other thread but it still makes no sense to me.

If people being good because of an inner feeling means there is a god then what proof would be contrary to this?
Would people enjoying behaving badly, killing, raping, torturing animals be proof that there is no god?


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
#5
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(June 30, 2013 at 6:30 pm)Inigo Wrote: I'm not sure this is a conversion story as such, and anyway it goes in the wrong direction. So, if anything, I am here to see if anyone can show me the error of my ways so that I can go back to atheism.

I was brought up an atheist and would have described myself as such until very recently. However, I no longer have any great confidence in the truth of atheism. This is not due to any kind of religious experience. Rather, it is entirely due to reflection on the nature of morality and reason. I now take seriously that both may presuppose a god of some sort. Not, note, a Judaeo Christian god. Just a powerful supernatural agency.

And so I am here to see if I am misguided in some way. I have no sympathies with any religious groups or beliefs - indeed, I take all religions to be just so much mumbo jumbo. And I have no time for those who believe in a god on the basis of faith.

I would argue that you can't be brought up as an atheist. You get there on your own. You can be brought up in a non religious family but not as an atheist. If you have doubt in atheism now, I would also argue that you never truly were an atheist in the first place.

I think you pre suppose a god because you don't know. Its an argument from ignorance and is a fallacy. Just because you cannot think of how the universe came to be etc does not mean that there is a supernatural explanation
'The more I learn about people the more I like my dog'- Mark Twain

'You can have all the faith you want in spirits, and the afterlife, and heaven and hell, but when it comes to this world, don't be an idiot. Cause you can tell me you put your faith in God to put you through the day, but when it comes time to cross the road, I know you look both ways.' - Dr House

“Young earth creationism is essentially the position that all of modern science, 90% of living scientists and 98% of living biologists, all major university biology departments, every major science journal, the American Academy of Sciences, and every major science organization in the world, are all wrong regarding the origins and development of life….but one particular tribe of uneducated, bronze aged, goat herders got it exactly right.” - Chuck Easttom

"If my good friend Doctor Gasparri speaks badly of my mother, he can expect to get punched.....You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others. There is a limit." - Pope Francis on freedom of speech
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#6
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
No, it isn't about why people are being good. I am not talking about motivation. What I'm saying is that morality instructs and its instructions have rational authority. These are, I think, conceptual truths about morality. But only an agent can issue instructions (it seems to me). And for those instructions to have rational authority the agent would need to have a huge amount of power over our welfare. Or so it seems to me.

Note, I am not saying a god is needed to explain moral phenomena. What I am saying is that for morality to be a reality - as opposed to a mere appearance - a god would seem to need to exist. This is just due to the kind of features morality has.

FOr instance, religious phenomena exist. There's no question some people believe in a god. And some people claim to 'sense' that there is a god. But this does not show that a god exists, of course. For a god is not a sensation or a belief. A god is the thing the sensation gives the impression of, a god is the thing believed. A god is some kind of supernatural agent. 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.

Similarly, moral phenomena exist. And there will be accounts of how such phenomena has come to exist. But the phenomena is not morality. So it is not enough to account for moral phenomena. Doing that alone will not necessarily vindicate morality's existence.
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#7
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
I'm guessing you believe in a separate god for the separate moral standards of every human?


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
#8
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
No, I was brought up in an atheist household and the view in our house was that no god or gods exist.

You say that I presuppose a god. No, it seems to me that morality has certain features. One of those is that it prescribes - it instructs. Another is that those instructions have rational authority. I then began wondering what on earth could combine those features. And it occurred to me that the instructions of a god - a certain sort of god - would combine those features. And thus I concluded - conclude - tentatively, that morality requires a god.

You suggest this is an argument from ignorance. Exactly how? We know that morality instructs (for it is a conceptual truth). And we know that agents can instruct. It doesn't follow that morality must be an agent, for perhaps something else can issue instructions as well (though at the moment I find this inconceivable). But until or unless someone can suggest something else that can issue instructions, it is reasonable to conclude that morality has to be an agent of some sort. Or so it seems to me.
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#9
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
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.


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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#10
RE: From atheism to tentative agnosticism
(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.
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