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 7 2011: :facepalm:

    Have you been reading a Christian dictionary or something? Atheism is the lack of belief in deities, not the belief there are no deities. There's a large difference:

    The only thing that needs fixing is the definitions in some dictionaries AND the perception of the word by theists.

    The so called "pop culture" thing is dominated by theistic perceptions, so a distortion of the truth is unavoidable, as with everything else in this area.

    I'm a "secular skeptic irreligious humanist agnostic atheist", and so are larger part of atheists I've seen (though not all, I'll admit). Must I (and the atheists who fit under those labels) spell this out always? Is there a better, less misunderstood, yet specific enough, single label I could use and help spread as a re-branding for atheists?

    As for the distinction between "atheist" and "militant atheist" I see (and I realize this may be different from the perception on the theistic side) is that "militant atheists" are those who challenge theists into reevaluating their beliefs. There's actually also "anti-theists" (I'm not sure if Christopher Hitchens coined the term or simply popularized it), which is a step further from militant atheism, where you don't simply lack a belief in the proposition, but you're glad it's not true (I personally don't fit there... while I'm glad the Abrahamic representation is not true, the general idea of a supernatural being that helps us and cares for us is something I wish was true, but don't believe it due to the lack of evidence).
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      Jun 7 2011: Ha, thanks Vasil.


      Is a video that kills this conversation, and answers my questions. Good job.

      As he says "the difference doesn't really matter between the differences of definitions"

      A baby starts with the no belief and a person develops the lack of belief.

      You have successfully put me in my place Vasil, I tip my hat to you sir!

      How should I edit this conversation?
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        Jun 7 2011: Dunno... "how to re-brand atheism" or "how to properly educate people on the meanings of the words we use, such as 'atheist', 'faith' and 'theory'" maybe?

        It's a pity that atheist have a hard time reaching people simply because of the definitions of the words they use.
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          Jun 7 2011: I think "free thinker" or "non-believer" are enough to dictate your stand point on deities and will incite conversation for further investigation of your beliefs.

          Atheism is just one belief, it can not tell me if you are an apatheist, a nihilist, an anarchist, etc...

          It's not like those who belief in a god dictate.. "yeah, I am a theist"
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        Jun 9 2011: "free thinker", as well as the other one I've heard recently, "rationalist", are two words which sound a little too intimidating, because they imply theists can't think for themselves or think rationally, and that's not the case. Many, or perhaps even most, do. It's just that the concept of God is the one thing they don't turn their rational free thinking towards, and many times that leaves them not thinking freely or rationally about other related topics.

        As for "non-believer", that's a slightly broader category than "atheist". "non-believer" may also include those with personal god or gods who don't overlap with any organized religion. In other words, those who don't believe any claims put forward to them (hence "non-believers") but still believe in some form of higher power, despite the lack of evidence for it.

        And again, atheism is not a belief, it's a lack of one belief, or as the video states, "Gods don't feature among the things I believe exist".

        And you're right, it can't tell you anything about a person... just as being a theist doesn't tell you anything about a person, other than the fact that god or gods feature among the things he or she believes exists. But nowadays, when someone says he's a "Christian", that also tells you nothing, because most people take the word "Christian" to mean "an average moral person according to western standards", which is simply false, but people only realize that once they're introduced to other religions and the definitions of words like "atheism", "faith", "belief", etc.
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        Jun 12 2011: exactly what i said
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      Jun 9 2011: Thanks for the links, Vasil. Excellent. Why not just reject being labeled? For my dad religion didn't exist. He never thought about it one way or the other. It played no role in his life whatsoever. If you asked if he was an "atheist" (with its pejorative implications) he certainly would have said "no". In what other area are we pushed to accept and defend some kind of label when it is irrelevant to us?
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        Jun 9 2011: I would love to live in a world where we won't need the label, but in a world dominated by religions, the label is necessary.

        Sam Harris once made this very point in a talk (not on TED), and he gave an example with racism and sexism... we never had aracist or asexist as labels. But I disagree on this point. The world was never dominated by racist or sexist people. It's just that being racist or sexist was not considered offensive, so people who were racist and sexist were much more vocal about it. There's still racism and sexism, but today, such people do their best to hide it. The label "racist" and "sexist" didn't appear until people who are not racist and sexist came up with the term to identify the idea they're against.

        The story is much different with religion. Religion has dominated most of human history, and I'm sure it will continue to dominate for at least another generation or two. Criticism was, and is still considered offensive by believers, which is the very opposite from racism and sexism, where there was no positive label before the negative one. Just imagine what would be if the term "racist" came before the civil rights movement and criticizing someone for being racist was considered offensive by racist people because racism gave them good reason to... let's say own slaves. You'd definitely need the label aracist then.

        But you're right... the only way to identify atheists is to explicitly ask in a yes/no fashion "do you think there is a god?". I've said before in another topic that it was only last year that I took the label atheist, even though I've been one for about 5 years or so without realizing it. A year ago, I considered the word "Christian" to be a synonym for "the accepted morality set in my culture", and honestly, only in the past few months do I realize how immoral Christianity really is after studying it beyond what I was once taught ("turn the other cheek" and all those good bits). It is this kind of awareness that people need.
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          Jun 11 2011: Dominated by culture Vasil, religion is just a correlation.

          The people who educate children that produce racist and sexist are culturally religious parts of the world, often politics connects with religion as a factoring requirement of consideration, a conundrum. [This means two sources of information are repeating information, at least in American society, I do not know for sure for anywhere else.] Perhaps, it is in more... Anyways, education of world/local information does not come from public media. The local news of reality must come from immediate second party information, family and friends + social networks. One of your cognitive educations, is recording when you have positive emotions, endorphin-like moments, happy thoughts, etc.

          Those endorphin-like drives, drive our philosophical considerations towards life. People do have the natural ability to question today. It is our evolutionary gift/result. http://www.brainexplorer.org/neurological_control/Neurological_Neurotransmitters.shtml

          At the bottom of that link is a chart. It is brilliant.

          "Serotonin, noradrenaline and dopamine are involved in the control of many of our mental states, sometimes acting on their own and at other times acting together (illustrated in the diagram below). These and other neurotransmitters are likely to play a pivotal role in the pathological basis of mental illness and diseases of the brain..."

          Understand said robot, understand thy self. Human Animal = Robot, with free choice, "free will" w.e..

          Medical fields that treat our human species as a robot, are looked at academically/mechanically, they do not need psychological considerations

          Our psychologist/psychiatrist should be approached similarly to mind, in the same famous as surgeons, "robots" is an easy term to use.

          This is just not where we are yet..

          These are my opinions, I been taking notes, on some thoughts, what do you think Vasil?

          Achievement of "humanity's union" = Natural drives - (cultures +/- [cog] edu.)
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          Jun 12 2011: You are right, labels always limit and distort what we can see of reality and hinder communication. I like Nicholas' tendency to include a working definition for a word

          .We no longer live at the mythic level of cultural, spiritual and intellectual evolution. We no longer need "belief systems" ..we need practices which foster good habits of thought and action..we need alert carefully observant, insightful minds.we need to cultivate habits of caring for one another and forour fragile planet..but we no longer need "belief systems". Folk can be deeply spiritually, even have profound faith without being bound by a "belief system" ..though these folk, myself included would never use the term "atheist" to describe themselves

          .So why do so many people at Ted label themselves "atheist" is that trendy or something? A new fad? Is this consifdered attractive? What is it communicating as a self label? And why do none of these people ever think to label themselves "humanist " for example.? Or are all those folk who label themselves "atheist" also lacking a sense of stewardship for humanity and for our earth? I am seriously curious.My observation based on commentary offered by folk who self describe as "atheist" is that they seem to actually have very strong "belief systems"..assumptions and predispositions. The belief system in which they base their identity and from which they make their commentray just unsn't about god or spirtuality.but it strikes me as being from something much closer to what we customarily think of as "belief systems" .
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          Jun 12 2011: By coincidence, Vasil , I see that your "Ted Idea Worth Spreading" in your profile suggests "moralist" as a better term than "athesist" and I know from your commentary that you are not rigid or narrow in your thinking and are moralist that you are an open thinker. I don't see those qulaities, in general, in most who self label "atheist". What does that self label denote here at Ted?
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        Jun 11 2011: Do you have a link to the study that links those two? I was really hoping there's no correlation between racism/sexism and religion... and yet the more I dig, the more it seems like religion is the root of all evil, and it simply happens, thanks to the civilized nature of modern humans, that most are only carriers rather than executioners of it.

        I mean, I also acknowledge the fact that there are racist and sexist people even among atheists, but if religion seems to encourage it in the same way it encourages homophobia (another issue where atheists are part of*, but at least "God hates you" is not an argument), genocide (towards people of other religions) and anti-abortion, it's just one more nail on the coffin.

        * http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Anvlms-Z_u0
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          Jun 11 2011: Religion is simply what you consider when you look at culture, but that is not entirely it. Religion that does not traditionalize challenging reality, is useless, yes. But we all create our own religion Vasil.

          Two examples: Racism, American politicians are claimed often to be such. Sexism, Islamic "honor kills"....

          E-mail me if you want sources.

          Just need to be educated on other stimuli that exist, that's simply it.

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