TED Conversations

Nicholas Lukowiak


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Atheism = 1 belief system, what are the rest of yours?

Admin's please, I want to duplicate these rules of conversation. http://www.ted.com/conversations/3273/nothing_s_off_topic.html ... Discuss true atheistic philosophies here, with no off topic arguments.

- No logical fallacies http://www.chopcow.com/fallacies/fallacies.php

The Wall of Atheist philosophers:
"Cultural fade is inevitable, that is the process of evolution. Words are like the mists of time, it is emotions that will always rule the day....And maybe explore new ideas. It's new ideas that keep the world turning."
- Derek Payne

"how hypocritical of you to deny atheists the right to redefine the term when you full-heartedly redefine religion as encompassing all philosophies of life."
- Matthieu Miossec

"Words have no intrinsic meaning and thus they are subject to whatever the speaker says they mean."
- Andrew Buchman

"But Atheist is just a label people attach to those who find no reason to believe in God and are sceptical of all mumbo jumbo. It is quite a meaningless and misleading label"
- Richard Dawson

"At the root core of all religions, it's just humanism, so religion could be considered a waste of time."
- Tim Colgan

*Please submit recommendations


Topics: atheism education

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    Jun 6 2011: Nicholas, why is it that theists are always trying to drag atheism down to the level of religion? Is labeling "atheism" a religion the most disreputable thing you can think of? Or is it just a barb to kick-off one of these pointless, endless arguments?
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      Jun 6 2011: Touche - a bit of both methinks. Utterly pointless arguments, but ones that generate the most interest and words of high praise for each other by the participants. Is it a sad reflection of the state of our society? Or a sad reflection of the state of science / education / scientific education?
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        Jun 7 2011: Interesting ... "words of high praise for each other by the participants."

        Seems only the "atheist" would be the ones praising each other here considering I am against the cultural usage.

        What is sad about, I am assuming American society, that is we do not have World Religion or World History class through the education system to better educate all people on what religion/culture is and how different people live in the world.


        Science is completely underfunded in extracurricular activities. I read an article that estimated more is spent on dog clothes in one year than there is fund raised money for a non-profit organization that helps schools get science equipment.
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          Jun 7 2011: Nicholas I have seen your other conversation "A challenge to Abrahamic religions.." It doesnt make much sense but has a whole lot of replies. You are pretty susceptible to high praise from the older ladies here and have been roped into, unconsciously maybe, a mutual backslappers club where you give each other thumbs ups.

          English and Philosophy don't qualify you for commenting on science, which you often do, and you often get even those two not quite right.

          Let me take the trouble to correct you on your notes above

          Atheist is just a label that is stuck onto people who are really just people who believe in evidence and reason rather than faith.

          “If you are atheist it only means you do not want to believe there are creator gods and what not”. How juvenile and absurd is that statement. We do not WANT to believe or not believe in anything.

          Its religious people who want to believe in something. You WANT to believe in spirituality or Buddhism, a Christian WANTS to believe in Christianity etc.

          A rational person unlike a religious one does not believe in certainties or absolutes. Thus your argument that "Atheism is just another belief system", based on "Atheism = the belief there are no deities" is patently false.

          The belief is not absolute. It is not founded on faith or want or desire. If Jehovah were to appear in the skies and say “I am Jehovah” in a thunderous voice, I might change my mind. But until then the reason I do not believe in God is because of the absence of evidence of God. I cannot be certain that God does not exist, but there are very good reasons to believe that God does not exist.

          That I do not believe in religion, spiritualism and any other mumbo jumbo is again because of the vast amount of evidence against them and the failure of any proof of them under scientific scrutiny. Buddhism for example believes in reincarnation, something that has been debunked time and again.
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        Jun 7 2011: Richard I do not like to break other peoples work often because I find it distasteful, but you have a lot of emotional opinions here so I will do such... I am going to number passages 1 - 9

        1. That thread has me and one other person arguing on it, not really much going on there, no one with faith wants to know they are delusional. Also, any of those "old ladies" you are referencing I had multi-arguments with and disagreed/bickered at one another. You can put this superficial judgment aside you now.

        2. English is my joke major, I am using it to get out of the U.S of corruptness. What qualifies me on my positions/opinions involve my arguments not my credentials and this is a logical fallacy. If they are wrong please, correct me, and I would enjoy educating you on whatever trouble you are having.

        4. Ah, you are going to use the pop-culture terminology, okay.

        5. "We do not WANT to believe or not believe in anything" That belief system is called apatheism and some forms of nihilism. Atheism simply means the belief of no deities.

        6. I am religious, so by your logic, I am irrational, interesting. The POP-CULTURED usage of atheism is what you are talking about, and only what you are talking about, but the original intended usage of the word came from religions that predate the pop-cultured terminology. Etymology of atheism, religion, and "God" got to check it out sometime.

        7. What "God" are you talking about? Or hell I understand "atheist" you mean a creator God.. Of course there is none, not even my argument.

        8. "...scientific scrutiny. Buddhism for example believes in reincarnation, something that has been debunked time and again."

        Oh yeah add "science" to your homework of etymology searching. Uh, debunking reincarnation, hmmm you need to back the up with a link or two. That is a new opinion to me from "atheist". Also believing if you do good in this life you will be reward with a new life or an eternal life, sounds like positive brain washing to me, but w.e
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          Jun 7 2011: I have said basically the same thing as in the video that Vasil provided.

          "How should I edit this conversation?" No need to . Explain why you have got your concepts and definitions wrong wrong and close it as superfluous.

          Atheism = the belief there are no deities - Wrong an understanding that there are probably no deities based on reason. Its not a position of faith.

          "What "God" are you talking about? Or hell I understand "atheist" you mean a creator God.."

          You do NOT understand. Any God creator or non-creator - a totally superfluous concept. Stop feeling mighty superior to people who believe in a "creator god", your position is just as ridiculous.

          "Uh, debunking reincarnation, hmmm you need to back the up with a link or two."

          Cant be bothered do your own research but Indian sceptic sites are a good place to start.
        • Jun 9 2011: Hi Nicholas. I didn't mean that I was finishing. What I meant was that you and Richard should stop your feud and perhaps come to some kind of compromise. And maybe explore new ideas. It's new ideas that keep the world turning.
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        Jun 7 2011: No, the video explains that people do believe more and it is up to the individual with the problem of the label "atheism" (me) to figure out what else the other person holds beliefs and faith in. Hence the revision of conversation.

        "Stop feeling mighty superior to people who believe in a "creator god", your position is just as ridiculous."

        What exactly is my position? That atheism is becoming a culture-ized misconception of a belief system? It is only apart of the individuals belief system. To label yourself "atheist" is still silly to me I don't think that will change, but tolerance is a skill also.

        Then your position should be the words "spiritual" "religion" and "God" should be obliterated from the language (fascist idealism), otherwise to say these words are needless then you better stick with people who share your beliefs and philosophies because you are not going to understand the majority of people in this world.

        Many atheist religions find spirituality, religion and ideals of God to be helpful and powerful for humans to progress in life, to achieve longevity, and to be happy.

        Although I corrected my definition, it was right, your is some what right.
        Atheism -
        The rejection of belief that any deities exist.
        the absence of belief in the existence of any deities.
        The stance that deities do not exist (gnostic atheism).

        It's an opinion. All you and I have are opinions, no one knows indefinitely there is no God (Creator) it is most likely however there isn't one, but there is no proof of such claim. Just a creator God doesn't matter, it isn't the point of this conversation...

        The point is atheism is just apart of belief systems or religions, it is not of it's own label and stand point unless you redefine the word, like you are.
        • Jun 7 2011: Hi. Nicholas and Richard,you lost me about a mile back and I am still trying to catch up. We are all on different levels of ability, whether it be physical or mental. This diversity also affects our emotional state and this leads to a kind of distortion of what we percieve. What we see is not always what is, and that is the way I percieve your debate. This makes your debate futile, because there is no chance of a compromise or a satisfactory conclusion. Let me try to give you an example of how things are and how we see them. This story is true, it happened in May 1984. I dreamt I was on a plane, there was nowhere to sit, I approached a dark haired lady and tried to sit next to her with no success. I then tried to sit next to two children with the same result, so I jumped off the plane. Still in the dream I was walking along when this plane came overhead. I looked up and the plane took a dive; the sound of it crashing woke me up. The crash was reported in the local paper that night, I knew it was my crash because there were only three survivors. A woman and two children. Explain please?
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          Jun 8 2011: Hi Derek, An interpretation of dreams? Interesting. Ok here goes:

          In your semi-conscious state you hear the sound of a plane close by and in trouble. You have a related dream – it happens often with me. I wake up to some external stimulus that is happening around me and I have had a complicated dream about it, which seems to have lasted much longer than the stimulus, which of course I remember just the tail end of, as I was "asleep" before that..

          The 3 survivors? Coincidence. Fallible human memory?

          Where was this crash? I did a search on Google “1984 plane crash 3 survivors” and came up with the Japan Airlines Flight 123, which had 4 survivors. 2 women and 2 girls. The crash was in Japan where most ladies are dark haired.

          PS If not fallible human memory – coincidence. Coincidences happen all the time in nature – they are not proof or evidence of the supernatural.

          PPS You did not know it was “my crash because there were only three survivors. A woman and two children.” You knew it was your crash because you heard it and there were no other airplane crashes that night around you. Airplane crashes in the vicinity are not common occurrences.

          Memory fallibility: You remember a dream that has happened 27 years ago. The dream can be remembered incorrectly.
          "The Problem with Eyewitness Testimony"

          "The process of interpretation occurs at the very formation of memory—thus introducing distortion from the beginning. ..The act of telling a story adds another layer of distortion, which in turn affects the underlying memory of the event."


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          Jun 11 2011: Derek

          ,Many people have vivid dreams that are remembered in the same way that waking experiences are.

          And many would suggest, perhaps, that you actually had an out of body experience as happens to many after a traumatic accident or in surgery where thousands of patients have reported floating above the table and watching the operation or wandering around the halls of the hospital and witnessing people and events that actually ocurred.. Children often have dreams that are so vivid they are remembered as real experiences. Happens to every body at some time or other...maybe even a naturally ocurring phenomenon

          .A theosophist like Rudolf Steiner, founder of the Waldorf school system and founder of theosophy, ( Buckie Fuller and many other brilliant thinkers were and are also theosophists) would describe what happened to you ( and to alll those thousands of folk who have reported recollected out of body experiences) as your "etheric body" ( that part of us that part of us that sort of governs and looks after the physical body, that seeks to understand and know) leaving your physical body in sleep and actually traveling. A theosophist might suggest that your "etheric body" actually was with that woman and those two children on that plane or somehow encountered their etheric bodies at the moment of, or right after the accident. I'm not a theosophist but find much that is useful there. The etheric body and notions about it are not part of my focus but a teaching of theosophy that is extremely useful and prcatical is to accept all experience as valid--if you heard it, saw it, expereienced it is real. The understandin part of that is separate and perhaps not accessible.Trust what actually happened to you Derek and your own sense about it. It isn't necesssary to explain it or debate or defend you sensibility about it with any one. It is your actual experience . Just let it stay with you as it is..inexplicable, unexplainable, unresolved. It is still informing you
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        Jun 8 2011: Richard, as well as Matthieu, you are fighting a battle that cannot be won. I have tried on multiple occasions and threads to defend these very same points to no avail.

        For instance....
        First let's look at the root word: Theist. A theist is "one who believes in god(s)." In English we use the affix "a" to often denote "not" or "anti." Thus "theist" becomes "atheist."

        Let's now rewrite the two terms into first order logic. "P" will represent "theist" and "~P" will represent "not theist or atheist" (the ~ means "not"). We could also represent "atheist" as "Q" but this would do us no good, for we would lose the connection between theist and atheist, meaning one is the opposite of the other. Therefore one must be true and the other must be false. The burden of proof falls on the person making the claim. Theist make the claim for the existence of the thing "god" or "P." Once we have "P" then we can make "~P."

        As well as...
        Theist, one who believes in god(s). P
        "a" is an affix in English used to denote "not" or "anti" ~
        atheist, one who does not believe in god(s) ~P
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          Jun 8 2011: But Atheist is just a label people attach to those who find no reason to believe in God and are sceptical of all mumbo jumbo. It is quite a meaningless and misleading label

          Have you watched Vasil's video? It explains things rather well

          Matthieu puts it rather well too "how hypocritical of you to deny atheists the right to redefine the term when you full-heartedly redefine religion as encompassing all philosophies of life."
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          Jun 8 2011: Richard,

          Although we had disputes I am glad you understand now what culture can do to a word. It can make it mean more than it's original intention (Andrew's comment). I mean look at those symbols of "atheism" trying to be popularized.

          I understand fully why atheist was taken into a new culturist way. Atheism is the minority belief system and tends to be the most powerful when looking at life, self, societies, and the rest of the world.

          My biggest beef is when "atheist" use words like science and logic without realizing these words are interpersonal and intrapersonal practices. Science can be seen in skill form critical thinking, logical reasoning, and natural philosophy... also a subject with many sub-subjects and sub-sub-subjects. Logic is a subject as well as a skill used in scientific/philosophical practices. Look at my other conversation "Abrahamic religions" one. That dude is making decent defenses from time to time using logic and (well more junk but) science. These words are tools with no intrinsic value, you must establish what you mean when you say science and logic. Sorry if I am sounding like I am preaching, but most of the atheist on TED are guilty of this, as I am.

          What I feel comes from the atheist movement is a lot of pigheaded-ness when it comes to these terms and words like "religion" "God" and "spirituality". To dictate the words as nonsense or useless is shutting off a lot of what the world thinks. Of course scientific understandings can establish concrete meaning behind these ideologies, but that is not where the world is at in this present time. Attaching more thoughts behind a word, is natural part of language.

          Seriously though, atheist are some of the most brilliant people out there, they are immediately labeled *"devil" worshiper*, "Satanist" (which in reality is a form of atheism/naturalism), blasphemer, evil-doer, unholy, etc.

          Too bad, most of you are humanitarians

          Words have no intrinsic meaning as Andrew made clear
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          Jun 9 2011: Hi Andrew............I admit that I am not well versed in "logic" You implied that I do not understand the principles and so cannot make a logical decision. Would you be willing to help my ignorance by explaining some of this ?
      • Jun 8 2011: Hi Richard. There was no stimulus attached to my dream, it just happened. The crash was reported that night prior to having the dream. I don't remember the exact date, but it did happen during the last two weeks in May 1984. It was published in the Staffordshire Sentinel. (I couldn't find it on Google either.) Your philosophy on dreams seems to trivialise their place in the greater scheme of things. The subconscious works 24/7, 16hrs when we are awake, absorbing all our emotions and 8hrs using them when we sleep. I might add that we have no control over the subconscious, it is as if it is an independent body. On the other hand the consciousness only works for16/7, thats when we are awake. In the greater scheme of things, which looks the most important? When we eventually get to grips with evolution all will be revealed. Remember the dream, later I will add, to what as already been said.
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          Jun 8 2011: Hi Derek, it occurred to me after I had written my post that you may have had the dream after you read about the plane crash, which would explain it.

          You wrote “the sound of it crashing woke me up” so I presumed it occurred at that time.

          You say “There was no stimulus attached to my dream”. But of course there was a stimulus, a very powerful one. The crash was reported in the local paper that night and you read it before going to sleep. The very fact that you had a dream about it is evidence that it had affected you.

          You say “Your philosophy on dreams seems to trivialise their place in the greater scheme of things”.

          What is the greater scheme of things? Who schemed this? How did you acquire this knowledge of the greater scheme of things?

          I seek a natural explanation before a supernatural one. This seems to anger some people. They prefer mysteries to remain mysteries and think it is trivialising things to provide an explanation.

          Nicholas is an example of this. He seems to think that if he encounters something strange which he cannot explain, using the word “Supernatural” gets him “swimming in a sea of knowledge”. He is also oh so very superior to the others who say God, or Jehovah, or Christ or Allah when they encounter those things, instead of his slogan “Supernatural” meaning a force driving God, or a spiritual enlightenment God, which everyone knows are the true Gods, and not the stupid “Creator Gods” of the Abrahamic religions.

          Its not my philosophy on dreams, its what I know and have read about dreams. I tend not to philosophise about things.

          According to Wikipedia “The term subconscious is used in many different contexts and has no single or precise definition. This greatly limits its significance as a definition-bearing concept, and in consequence the word tends to be avoided in academic and scientific settings”. Apparently Freud didn’t like the term either.
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          Jun 8 2011: The rest of my hypothesis remains valid as a possible explanation of your dream.

          Here are some other scenarios or possible explanations:

          You have a vivid dream about the crash on the night of the crash after reading about it. This indicates that it has affected you powerfully.

          The next day its all over the news. 3 survivors, a woman and 2 children. You are still disturbed by it. You are likely to dream again, perhaps several times over the coming days about the crash. You now have knowledge about the survivors and that is incorporated into your dreams.

          You memory (remember human memory is frail) conflates the dreams.

          This becomes your new memory over the coming days and years. Now you “remember clearly” that you dreamt everything in the first dream and displayed knowledge of the events before they became known.

          Tell me why do you firmly reject my possible explanations?
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          Jun 8 2011: Richard,

          "Nicholas is an example of this. He seems to think that if he encounters something strange which he cannot explain,"

          Ha, there is much in this world you nor a huge consensus of scientist can explain sir. Stop and think once in a while about true reality and use some imagination sometime.
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          Jun 9 2011: @ Nicholas "there is much in this world you nor a huge consensus of scientist can explain"

          The difference is that scientists when they are not able to explain things, dont say "Supernatural" like you. They make another hypothesis and test it.

          "use some imagination sometime"

          Thats what I have done in thinking of various scenarios to explain Derek's dream. You imagine saying "Supernatural" is using your imagination? Or by saying that you are "swimming in a sea of knowledge", as you have quoted? You are no different to the people who when they couldnt explain the Sun said Sun-god and the Moon - Moon-god. Then came along someone who said One god and felt very superior. And you tell them something like "force driving God", an utterly meaningless expression, and feel very superior.

          I suggest you use some imagination and dont yell "Supernatural" every time your imagination fails.
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          Jun 9 2011: Richard,

          Supernatural simply means "what is not understood yet in nature" if you want to always tie it so something spiritual and/or religious, be my guest.

          As far as Derek's comment, to be honest, I took the high road and avoided the whole question, therefore it was off topic and proved nothing interesting for a personal supernatural occurrence, so I left it at one. Your answer to him was pretty good, but that is not imaginative.

          You took the scientific terminology and explanations you learned and recapped them, possibly had information saved somewhere because this was a previous argument upon what can and cannot be explain. Imagination would require you to explain to Derek what his dream was about simply.

          A long term memory being read by the short term memory part of the brain or just another case of déjà vu - like memory clips. A lot of people contributed these images to as seeing God and Jesus, it is in Derek's good nature that a tragic accident was recorded into his subconscious and made his revision his memory. Did you know the brain is significantly more active while sleeping? During near-death experiences the brain actually functions even faster than sleeping, justifying people's images of an outer body experience or seeing the meaning of life.

          Imagination allows me to consider every supernatural event has a meaning, but critical thinking allows me to decide whether or not that said event is worth investigating. Derek's claim, was not worthwhile, it was just a dream, coincidence as you said is a part of nature. Nothing imaginative there, but reality.

          When I said you should inspire imagination, I should of said you should try some CT once in a while and not just logical reasoning. However that is more of an offensive statement, which now I stand behind seeing how you over react to every challenge I created in our arguments.

          Critical thinking = art of being right

          Logical reasoning = art of building on facts
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          Jun 9 2011: "Supernatural simply means "what is not understood yet in nature" if you want to always tie it so something spiritual and/or religious, be my guest."

          Its not what I want to tie it to its what you explicitly have stated.

          "…the plausibility of the information given to me, and the possibility/likelihood of said event... it would go into my spirituality, as in I do not have a scientific explanation but a supernatural one."

          "I am religious, so by your logic, I am irrational, interesting. "

          You are religious therefore you go for a supernatural explanation. That you are irrational you have displayed by your writing.

          "My big point here when calling yourself an atheist, how is that supposed to tell me your religious views?" What?? That is your "big point"?

          "I need to know what you mean by "God", a creator God, a force driving God, a spiritual enlightenment God and/or an all powerful being God? Who or What is God, Helen?"

          "Your God exist."

          I would have said exists, if I said anything on that subject, which I wouldnt have but really "Your God exist."?

          You seem to be of an order of magnitude above the Pope. After all he only declares Saints exist, but you Gods. Which ones exist and which ones dont. Amazing.
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          Jun 9 2011: Do you even know what my religion is?

          If you are not aware as of now I am not a "religious person" as you are interpreting then this conversation is futile.

          Let's recap here, "the plausibility" of his dream, would go into my spirituality as part of my spirituality I do not like to stop people from having curiosity of the supernatural but to guide them into greater interpretations that are beyond logic. Derek Payne is no fool, and would not make an outlandish claim if he did not have a fundamental belief behind that. Since the point of this conversation was the usage of "atheism" and not logical interpretation of dreams. I decided to take the high road to avoid arguments on this conversation as it would of been off topic.

          Your piecing together of information only proves my hypothesis of your logical reasoning. Logic isn't everything.

          Indeed let me tell you how I interpret my quote now. "Sea of knowledge" is simply the internet, to be using a tool that provides nearly infinite information and then to be arguing over details and not change anyone's mind is worthless to me.

          You are now trying to convince me how foolish I sound, I do not need you to dictate such, because my position, is my position. I didn't steal it from anyone else, I didn't need to reuse other people's philosophies to defend myself here. I used open-sourced information.

          The fact you cannot take advice and not look into the etymology of the terms as I suggested means you enjoy practicing fundamental beliefs. By all means do so.

          I practice multiculturalism when discussing religion, God, and spirituality. Again, to toss these words aside is an arrogant, delusional, and fictitious practices and to me dictate you do not understand more than what you want to, or what your heroes, idols, or any designated third party source of information.

          Now if you are done going off topic, please re-post
      • Jun 8 2011: Hello Richard. I would like to make it clear, I awoke around 7AM after having the dream. It was at about 6PM that I first read it in the newspaper. This is 11hrs after the crash. I have made arrangements to visit the library in 9days time and will look up the exact day of the event, I will then pose another debate. I have spent the last 40 yrs of my life trying to make some sense of what people call the supernatural and I am convinced that there is no such thing. I wrote about the dream hoping eventually to prove there is such a thing as an Atheist 1st class. That will be me! I should have got my facts right in the first place. (The time of the crash.)
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          Jun 8 2011: Ok we will talk again after 9 days. Its my bet that you will have got several things wrong in your memory.
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        Jun 9 2011: So Richard................Why are you ignoring my posts ?
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          Jun 9 2011: Ignoring your posts Helen? I'm sorry I just logged on back from work. I'll have a look at your posts now. :)
      • Jun 9 2011: Hello Again Richard. I would like to add that the paper that reported the crash was an evening newspaper, they were reporting a crash that had happened earlier, as I was dreaming it. I brought this subject up to get a response from some domination of one kind or another. I find it strange that no one has made any comment. Is it true what I have always suspected; religion stops us from thinking? Sorry if I mislead you.
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          Jun 9 2011: Hi Derek, Often the simplest explanation is best one. In this case I think my hypothesis that it is due to faulty memory is probably the correct one. You knew or had heard of the crash before you dreamt it.

          Consider this – the crash and the dream happened 27 years ago and there are many things that you cannot remember about them. For example you have written 4 accounts in your 4 posts:
          1. “The crash was reported in the local paper that night”
          2. “The crash was reported that night prior to having the dream”
          3. “I awoke around 7AM after having the dream. It was at about 6PM that I first read it in the newspaper. This is 11hrs after the crash.”
          4. “the paper that reported the crash was an evening newspaper, they were reporting a crash that had happened earlier, as I was dreaming it.”

          There seems to be a discrepancy in your memory about the timing of the crash. No 3 seems to say that the crash took place as you were dreaming it. But 1 and 2 are saying the crash happened before you dreamt it but you didn’t read about it till later.

          If the crash had happened prior to your dream it is quite possible that you heard about it but forgot, yet retained the memory in your subconscious and then dreamt about it. This would be the simplest explanation.
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        Jun 9 2011: Richard, exactly how has reincarnation been debunked. I, don't find it a likely reality, but there is no way that I know of that can verify reincarnation on way or the other. I would love to see these studies that show empirical evidence that we only live once.
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          Jun 9 2011: Anthony when I said reincarnation has been repeatedly debunked I meant every claim made by people who have claimed to remember previous lives has been debunked.

          Reincarnation as a philosophy has many logical and practical difficulties and absurdities.
          What exactly is the purpose of punishment or reward if you do not remember your past deeds. Population growth, more humans- is the world getting morally better? Mass extinctions, the evidence of life starting from a few cells. What happens to the souls? does this happen just because of our deeds and not the fact that climate changes or a meteorite hits?

          The idea of Karma is what you get in this life, pain and suffering, are the result of what you did in your previous life. But you can be good and have a better next life. Thats absurd without any memories. Every baby that gets murdered or abused is because of its sins in its previous life. Every genocide that was committed - the victims - they had it coming. Absurd.
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        Jun 9 2011: Well I still don't see any evidence regarding reincarnation so I have an issue with using the word debunked, just as I would with someone trying to pass reincarnation off as a fact. As for the purpose it serves, and wether it is absurd, that is irrelevant. You can say that of anything irrespective of wether its true or not.

        I think the true argument is whether we live in a world that is completely knowable to us and can fit into our minds, or whether the world is made up of things we can understand and things beyond the reach of our brains. If you believe the world can be understood completely by science that is still a belief. You have to believe no information exist outside what we can perceive from our 5 senses, or some augmentation of one of our senses. You also have to believe we live in a rational world that behaves in predictable ways. So many people believe this ( if you don't I guess all bets are off and we can't learn anything), that we most do not even see it as a belief.

        At any rate I think too many people are taking these argument too literal, using the idioms of science to confront ideas that came about through different thought process. To hit on reincarnation again, if you take it more metaphorical its basically saying all life has a common bond. A non scientific way at coming to an idea close to the nitrogen cycle.
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      Jun 6 2011: I would say atheism is a religion when considering that there are parades celebrating atheism, when there are people trying to make symbols of about atheism. http://athterisk.org/

      My big point here when calling yourself an atheist, how is that supposed to tell me your religious views?

      If you are atheist it only means you do not want to believe there are creator gods and what not... which when looking at the world openly you will know that is obvious, why do you have to label yourself based on an obvious realization? Because to a lot of fundamental theist it isn't obvious?

      Atheism is not the problem nor atheist. The problem are those who label themselves and assume that label stands for more than what it originally meant.

      When I call atheism a religion, it is because the cultures that are supporting "militant atheist" are making it appear as a religion, when it isn't. Like Christophe dictates "New Age Religions" are more common than the more popular theistic religions.

      Also, I am no where near an theist, but I also see the impractical nature in which the atheist culture practices.
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        Jun 6 2011: So I guess that since there are symbols (by the way that symbol isn't mainstream at all and it sucks) and parades of atheism and that makes atheism a religion, than by the same piece of logic, homosexuality is a religion? Praise be the penis. Let's not even go into the fact that certain political views have symbols and organise demonstrations (although maybe they are encompassed in your slaughter of the word 'religion').

        Dave and Richard are spot on. This finesse you're trying to somehow sell to us is unconvincing. And how hypocritical of you to deny atheists the right to redefine the term when you full-heartedly redefine religion as encompassing all philosophies of life.
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          Jun 7 2011: I never redefined religion sir. This the definition I go by...

          a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs./// a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects /// the body of persons adhering to a particular set of beliefs and practices (dictionary.com)

          Again, because people do not understand what atheism actually is, they do make it appear to be religion, especially when "atheist" reference Dawkins, now that is annoying.

          Gays, are entirely different and a ridiculous example. I mean you are born gay... but no one beats you up or kills you because you do not believe in god. And btw, gay people do form churches related to Evangelical-like associations.

          Which politics? where? America? Donkey and elephant? Symbols are no where near my only defense of how "Atheism" is becoming a sub-cultured religion. As soon as the "almighty chosen one" arises from the under bellies of the scientific world you will find you "atheist" messiah!

          I am not selling you anything, my stand is anyone who claim their religious views "atheist" is a fool and does not understand religion but the fundamental theist religion and then decided to group all religion under their word usage of "religion" which is wrong on many levels of consideration.

          I don't deny anyone the right, they will do it anyways. Just would like people to know atheism is apart of your religious views, not the entirety of them.

          My approach is just rude and unorthodox but I am not wrong. :)

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          Jun 8 2011: Richard says that "lack of evidence convinces him to be an atheist. I don't think that lack of evidence is EVIDENCE.
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          Jun 8 2011: Hi Helen, You are quite right absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But in science we deal with likelihoods and probabilities and not absolutes.

          So thus where religions might say - such and such thing [here add whatever the beliefs of the religion are] is absolutely true, science will say such and such thing is probably not true (if the evidence or logic points towards it).

          The Loch Ness monster might exist, but with every failed effort to find it, the chances that it does gets more and more remote.
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        Jun 7 2011: Man so much of what you just said is just patently false. People are born gay? That's a claim you can't back up. Not saying you're wrong, but you're certainly not undeniably right. Also, plenty of people have been killed for being non-believers and many non-religious kids get bullied at school. My friend from North Carolina told me that at his school, it'd be a bigger social suicide to come out atheist than to come out gay.

        I'm sorry you can't accept that some people call themselves atheists and have to resort to calling the whole lot fools. You are just plain and simply wrong.

        I think the truth is because you're studying philosophy at university you now fancy yourself a philosopher with deep thoughts...highly debatable...
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          Jun 7 2011: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691850/?tool=pmcentrez

          It is still a huge theory, but I do not see many counter theories that deny such genetic possibilities.

          "Have been..." I challenge you to find an up to date article about someone dying EVEN physical violence (going to be rare) that was related to non-believing.. "social suicide" sure because that is what kids should be worried about in high school... not grades or their futures... being popular right? I do not disagree that there are kids being picked on for being non-believers, nor do I deny there are kids who get picked on for being a ginger or a jew....

          "I'm sorry you can't accept that some people call themselves atheists and have to resort to calling the whole lot fools. You are just plain and simply wrong."

          Perhaps you are not reading what I am writing. Again, atheist would require you not to believe in god... to tie other factors into that word culture-izes that word and further separates you from other people with similar humanitarian philosophies, which is foolish.

          What am I wrong about exactly, all you been debating are details nothing fundamental against my belief that culturist atheist are wrong to claim themselves atheist, because that is redefining the word itself.
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        Jun 7 2011: "It is still a huge theory, but I do not see many counter theories that deny such genetic possibilities."

        That's because you allow yourself only a limited scope. By the way your paper does not conclusively point to a genetic origin of homosexuality. If anything, even just from the abstract you can kind of infer that some sort of essentially environmental process could be at work. What's the genetics behind being later born? What's the genetics behind having more maternal relatives? These are all environmental factors. The opening sentences point towards the difficulty of ascribing homosexuality to essentially genetic processes and yet you gladly ignore that proclaiming no counter-theories have come your way. You don't seem particularly versed in genetics and evolutionary biology so I'll let that one slip.

        In this post and others, you have sang the praises of redefining the word religion so that the word is deteriorated into an almost exact synonym of philosophy and yet you put your foot down when it comes to redefining atheism. I don't even see this word as having been redefined. If you're an atheist, you don't believe in God. That is what atheism is. That there are high profile atheists like Richard Dawkins or Christopher Hitchens (which many atheists across the board won't care about) and that some people like to define themselves around this unifying notion (like people will gather around concepts like anarchy or the love of chocolate) does not qualify atheism as a rebranded word that corresponds to a pop-culture-induced religion. We could make subset of just about any qualifier and say that it doesn't fit the definition of some word in the vaguest of sense.

        To answer your question about using a word in the broadest sense, I'm going to say no. People aren't stupid, they can often tell what a word is being used to be a placeholder for from context. Words have varying meanings and context is key. It's like you're trying to dumb down the English language.
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          Jun 7 2011: No, I enjoy learning from my mistakes, I was made to believe that there was a "gay gene" only recently have I found the discovery to be theorized and not factual. Biology is not my best science, no. Relax with your over assumptions, they are fictions, I skim read that paper I did not perform further research. I can admit when I am wrong. Homosexuality is in nature though; rats, dolphins, monkeys, apes, are just some cases in which two animals die and do not reproduce. Indeed, I need to do more research on the supposed "gay gene". This is an off topic conversation, I appreciated.

          "Sang the praises" lol.

          I already posted my definition of religion, if "atheist" want to refer all religions under the same term, by all means practice ignorance. Most religions could be interpreted as being a "fundamental philosophy" . Ex: My fundamental belief is if I do good I will die and go to heaven. The philosophy (logic) is there is a heaven, that if I do good, I get to go there. It is not a natural science nor is it logical reasoning, it is a fundamental philosophy.

          I understand my statement (that pop-cultured atheism is becoming a religion) is absurd, it was more to draw "atheist" and atheist to my conversation for opinions and disputes.

          Sorry, but then you are being a victim of language and cultures. You are separating yourself from the world by considering atheism means more than what it actually means. That if by being "atheist" you are somehow more enlightened towards the world and to what really exist in it. Maybe a step closer in that direction, but no, by not understanding what are the components that allow you to express yourself are, then you are coming off as knowing it all and that is not the case. The more you know, the more you don't know.

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