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    I came across some discussions/debates about atheism not being an actual "choice". The points made in favor of this argument are fairly convincing versus the arguments suggesting it is choice. Most of it (I think) may boil down to how people are defining atheism and disbelief, as well as the differences between agnostic-atheism/atheism/and what they're paradoxically calling 'evangelical atheism'. "There is a difference"


    Atheism: Basic social understanding of the word
    1.) A 'belief' that God does not exist. -versus- 2.) Lack of 'belief' that there is a God.


    Dictionary.com definition:
    1.the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
    2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.


    American Atheists definition:
    1.)Atheism is usually defined incorrectly as a belief system. Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.


    You can probably see how the bias to one of these definitions over the other may complicate the question at hand.


    To make a long explanation short in support of 'Agnosticism-Atheism' not actually being a choice in the way most people use the word is, "Disbelief is not a choice". Unless a person quite literally states they have the desire to NOT believe there is a God. Then that would suggest the persons intent in the beginning was bias and they actually 'believed' something beforehand. But if a person just isn't swayed to believe after being presented the evidence for and against it, than it's not essentially 'choice'. In terms that the person no more chooses to have disbelief that there is actually a literal and physical Santa Claus that personally goes around each year spreading presents to an insane number of children in one night. Or choosing to believe that there is a sock on my foot.


    I will admit though I probably do have a personal bias to be in favor of this understanding, it makes the most sense to me personally. But, I'm interested to know what people opposed to this concept logical reasons are. So if you could explain in logical terms why this doesn't make sense, or why it's wrong without just saying something like "Because God said/the Bible says" that'd be great. Thanks for taking the time to read this thread hope it was interesting to at least some of you.
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    The american athiests are wrong. Athiesm is the belief there isnt a god. Their definition would fall into agnosticism.
    I would say that ethically you are still supposed to act as if you have unilateral responsibility; but simultaneously you have to be able to see the other as a fully autonomous, free, aware person.

    Medicalizing social problems has the additional benefit of rendering society not responsible for those social ills. If it’s a disease, it’s nobody’s fault. Yay empiricism.

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    it depends on the person... i consider myself agnostic, which for me means "i do not know" (but i would like to).

    i've met self-defined atheists before who were adamant that there is no god. some could even be confrontational about it, looking to pick fights with people who did believe in particularly the christian god. i think that for these particular individual atheists i'm thinking of, their belief that there isn't a god was a choice in a way. some atheists though might simply say they've never been presented with compelling evidence or reason to believe in a god or gods. is that a choice or more of a default position? i'd say it's more of a default position, depending. i mean did they switch their beliefs at some point in the past from say "christianity" to "atheism," because if so, some choices were made.

    as a backwards example, i remember when i was a kid, there was a time i really tried to become christian. i made the choice to set aside my doubts and questions, and believe... and you know what happened? no matter how hard i tried to believe, and how much i searched and searched for the god i was learning about in church activities, i couldn't make myself do it. for a while i half-conned myself it was working, but i finally had to accept that i didn't believe any of it... it took me a while to recover from that. the fear of going to hell was ever looming and really i could believe in the evils more easily than in anything else. i remember one night pleading to sleep with my mom because i was afraid satan would appear before me, and i couldn't get his face out of my mind.

    --

    at the bottom of this, i've always been agnostic. my parents didn't deliberately raise me this way, but it is a product of my earlier experiences and influences from them. it's my default. and i can't change it without something that can impact me powerfully enough to revolutionize that--something completely mind blowing that also happens to make enough sense to overturn something i've "always known."

    i develop my spirituality slowly and carefully, waiting for that which really rings true. but my default nature is to question, and to remember that i don't really know anything. so one half of me always keeps this in mind. so i am both agnostic and spiritual. but my way of searching is one that accepts the crippling limits of my "mortal" mind and person (the universe is too much for me to understand... i can only hope for small fragments of knowledge and understanding). that doesn't mean i won't try to figure out how to align my sense of spirituality and meaning with what i can make sense of or in some way understand is real. so maybe agnosticism for me is ever searching for the divine but never really reaching.

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    Someone who is an atheist can fit many definitions:
    a) they are unaware of the concept of god/they do not "know" god: e.g. a new-born baby (they are implicit atheists)
    b) they are aware of the concept of god, but have no opinion on whether god exists (an agnostic can also match this description)
    c) they consider god to be contrary to the laws of nature, and thus do not believe (they are explicit atheists)
    d) they do not believe in a god with certain moral qualities (this could be a variant of c)
    e) they are aware of the concept of god, but believe there is currently insufficient evidence to believe (an agnostic can also match this description)
    f) they are aware of the concept of god, but they think proving such an entity is impossible or meaningless (an agnostic can also match this description)

    Bertrand Russell was type e):
    "As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one can prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think that I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because, when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.”

    Back to the OP question, if children are born not believing in god, it of course isn't a choice for them. In my case, some years on from birth and religious indoctrination, it does not feel like a choice to me to disbelieve: I cannot believe in something that I find immoral and which is described as contrary to the laws of nature while at the same time being unobservable.
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    I don't believe in a creator God, nor a God who plays a hand in the reality of life on Earth. There is no creator, everything has evolved over millennia in an intricate, haphazard and precarious dance between the interplay of biotic and abiotic factors. Once the truth of organic chemistry has been truly grasped then the full on miracle of life, life without a creator, life in all the myriad of forms that can be found sinks in: a profoundly effecting understanding can be reached that life "just happening" IS the miracle. I know this is harsh, but it is my belief that people who choose to remain in the dark about biology and evolutionary biology either don't t know and thus are ignorant, or they ignore the facts and thus are willfully ignorant ( which is actually even more of a tradegy then those who are uneducated).

    Now, God though? Is there room for him? Of course there still is. Its grace, its peace and wholeness, its the source, emptiness, the atman, the self. That God, the one that is inside our consciousnesses and is the space that animates our individual souls (the sparks that we are), is the one that I believe in. It is a real God, tied in with the flesh and blood and unique to people.

    To encounter that God is for lack of a better word, holy. It is non-conceptual, more if a space really. Finding and witnessing that space within myself was a momnet of benediction.

    Most believers, although having a collective group conceptual framework, have very little personal experience of him because they equate Him with the drunken state of worshiping ecstasy that is felt in states of heightened emotionality. For example, group worshipping and singing.

    That is childs play for a real seeker of God. A real seeker sees that He is the space between all events and actions ,even the subtle mental/ emotional states that can be brought about by conventional worship.

    Once that is realized first hand and non-conceptually, then the real fun begins. The God worshippers singing to the lord are seen as very loud monkeys howling in a room together. Think about it for a moment. There is no God so what is everyone doing....? They are doing believing. Doesn't mean the thing they are believing in is real, the only thing that is real is the belief.

    Nothing unusual with that though, its kind of the human condition "lost in belief".

    I'm just as guilty of it.
    Last edited by wacey; 07-11-2015 at 03:33 PM.
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    atheism is actually more of a choice than faith, as it's a deliberate, rational dialectical movement in the face of a conceptual specter, whereas the latter is just a dialectical accession. there is no absence of something that has no basis. the notion of a creator god ultimately amounts to a self-consuming redundancy, rendering faith/belief nothing more than a 'plus' with no real net value; atheism entails a definitive definition.

    a natural, intuitive sense of divine oneness is actually a good example, because it reveals the fact that the divine is processual and embedded, not extrinsic. spirituality stands alone.
    Last edited by strrrng; 10-03-2015 at 09:45 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by strrrng View Post
    atheism is actually more of a choice than faith, as it's a deliberate, rational dialectical movement in the face of a conceptual specter, whereas the latter is just a dialectical accession. there is no absence of something that has no basis. the notion of a creator god ultimately amounts to a self-consuming redundancy, rendering faith/belief nothing more than a 'plus' with no real net value; atheism entails a definitive definition.

    a natural, intuitive sense of divine oneness is actually a good example, because it reveals the fact that the divine is processual and embedded, not extrinsic. spirituality stands alone.
    God might simply be a word that describes the processual and embedded yet after several centuries has been neutered of its original meanings. The key issues with God and atheism is not an issue of either or, as they are actually separate parts of cognatized reality. It is not about believing in either or in my view.

    Atheism is the natural extension of the philosophical mind that can, by inductive and deductive reasoning understand that the rise of life is ultimately as consequence of the physical laws of this universe. As an example one can look at the proven historical timeline of the rise of life on Earth. In this instance it can be seen that the biochemical properties of the self-replicating with fecundity molecular pieces of deoxyribose nucleic acid has resulted and continues to result in the proliferation of gene machines. These gene machines, also known as the myriad of species that proliferate the planet, resulted from the interplay of biotic and abiotic forces that govern the visible living world. No omnipresent force yet discernible by man, with the help of technological instruments, has yet to find such a force beyond the rules of physics and biology. Life can't help but exist. To see that the rules that cause life to exist by a process of the evolution of species within an observed, discernible timeline, leaves little room, common sense-wise, for a creator God. So is there any room for His existence someplace?

    What if the meaning of God had nothing to do with the creation of life at all and was actually a realm found only within the unique consciousness of the human mind itself? Traditionally the belief in God is actually attachment to a belief, in other words a meme and in my view anytime an attachment to a belief occurs it is a matter of personal choice in a sense. The individualized ego choses to believe in the definition of a creator, which is the simpler and more common understanding of the God concept. However, higher levels of understanding would denote God as being the space of wholeness within oneself and others. This space is talked about in all the major and minor religions in some form or another. Either way both are conceptualizations that rely mostly on perceptual cognition of unmeasurable phenomenon. God is in the mind. Maybe that was where he was always supposed to remain?

    Anytime the evidence and proof are wholly reliant on perception and not measurable, touchable, real reality, as is the case for a belief in God then there must be a dimension of choice. With atheism, you either believe it, or not, doesn't change the definable fact that it is a real circumstance that occurs in actual reality. Belief, or not, it remains real. With a belief in God, there must be a leap of perceptual mind truth for lack of a better term.

    And anyway the two are not wholly equal. Atheism is a approach to viewable, measurable reality, whereas the belief in God is the field of human consciousness and perceptions of human reality. It always been, in my opinion. The two are not a discussion of the same thing at all.

    I think a guy can have both God and atheism. You can have your cake and eat it too.
    Last edited by wacey; 10-03-2015 at 10:54 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wacey View Post
    God might simply be a word that describes the processual and embedded yet after several centuries has been in-culturated and neutered of its original meanings. The key issues with god and atheism is not an issue of either or, as they are actually separate parts of cognatized reality. It is not about believing in either or in my view.
    I think the hindus (I think it was them?) had it right with words that had dual/opposite meanings.

    I don't even think faith and atheism are "separate parts of a cognatized reality," but I do agree that either-or is fallacious, a false dilemma that collapses upon closer inspection. but in the sense that atheism represents a cognitive absolute, and faith an absolute replica of a cognition. anyone who poses either-or misses out on what robert anton wilson termed 'maybe logic.'

    so I guess I would say that faith and atheism are asymmetrically exclusive: faith implies atheism, but not the reverse.

    Atheism is the natural extension of the philosophical mind that can, by inductive and deductive reasoning understand that the rise of life is ultimately as consequence of the physical laws of this universe. As an example one can look at the proven historical timeline of the rise of life on Earth. In this instance it can be seen that the biochemical properties of the self-replicating with fecundity molecular pieces of deoxyribose nucleic acid has resulted and continues to result in the proliferation of gene machines. These gene machines, also known as the myriad of species that proliferate the planet, resulted from the interplay of biotic and abiotic forces that govern the visible living world. No omnipresent force yet discernible by man, with the help of technological instruments, has yet to find such a force beyond the rules of physics and biology. Life can't help but exist. To see that the rules are what cause life to exsist and that a descernbale timeline for that leaves little room for a creator God. So is there any room for His existence?
    idk, I tend to view creator and creation as one, and so see the main mystery being how is it that entities evolved which could literally be termed microcosms of the universe itself. I think the meta-cognitive ability transcends the notion of a glitch, and thus is existentially reducible to other forms of life. I also don't know much about biology.

    Traditionally the belief in God is actually attachment to a belief, in other words a meme and in my view anytime an attachment to a belief occurs it is a matter of personal choice in a sense. The individualized ego choices to believe in the definition of a creator, which is the simpler and more common understanding of the God concept. Higher levels would denote God as being the space of wholeness within oneself and others. Either way both are conceptualizations that rely mostly on perceptual cognition of unmeasurable phenomenon. God is in the mind. Maybe that was where he was always supposed to be?
    re: the bolded: this is precisely why I don't view faith as a choice, but rather a supplementary redundancy, if you will. if it's a meme, it arose from imitation... and the problem of what constitutes the 'first' in any situation is resolved, again, by seeing that god is the processual self-sustenance of the universe; there is no 'original' copy that will give archetypal substance to the notion of a creator god. if god was supposed to always be in the mind, this is because solipsism fails.

    Anytime the evidence and proof are wholly reliant on perception and not measurable, touchable, real reality, as is the case for a belief in God, then there must be a dimension of choice. With atheism, you either believe it or not, doesn't change the definable fact that it is a real circumstance that occurs in actual reality. Belief, or not, it remains real. With a belief in God, there must be a leap of perceptual mind truth for lack of a better term.
    yeah, see above, more or less.

    I think a guy can kind of have both, have your cake and eat it too.
    maybe, but I think this would probably rule out a creator god.
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    @strrrng
    I think the hindus (I think it was them?) had it right with words that had dual/opposite meanings.
    I am not entirely certain? I know that Advaita and non-duality is a offshoot of the hindu/buddhists traditions. Generally speaking people often say the opposite of what they mean. This is a golden rule I observed years ago.

    I don't even think faith and atheism are "separate parts of a cognatized reality," but I do agree that either-or is fallacious, a false dilemma that collapses upon closer inspection. but in the sense that atheism represents a cognitive absolute, and faith an absolute replica of a cognition. anyone who poses either-or misses out on what robert anton wilson termed 'maybe logic.'
    Certainly. I think that at a logistic level for the majority of believers, faith in that replica usurps the experience of what the replica is, well, emulating. This faith and this experiential knowledge are not the same thing.

    In the same way, Atheism and Faith in a creator are not the same thing. Yet they do have something to say to each other. Science seeks the lawfulness of events. It is the task of religion to fit man into this lawfulness.

    so I guess I would say that faith and atheism are asymmetrically exclusive: faith implies atheism, but not the reverse.
    Well said.

    idk, I tend to view creator and creation as one, and so see the main mystery being how is it that entities evolved which could literally be termed microcosms of the universe itself. I think the meta-cognitive ability transcends the notion of a glitch, and thus is existentially reducible to other forms of life. I also don't know much about biology.
    I do know much about biology as well as evolutionary biology. I can say with 100% certainty and conviction that it is far more miraculous that life has no designer, no entity moving the pieces. The miracle is that we are here at all as a results of simple chemical rules multiplied into infinite complexity. That life, as a inborn rule of this Universe, can survive the mishaps and cruel circumstances is a testament to the wonder of life with 'no-thing/one' in control. Life, as it stands, cannot help but exist and our scientific inquiry has and will continue to discover the causes and consequences of why we are here. As a biology professor once put it, "Life hates an empty space".

    Although I am sure if you asked a believer he would, with as much working conviction, be just as convinced of his own position in a creator. Thankfully one's conviction has very little to say about truth and as time will show the undeniable facts will vindicate the correct form of thought. Maybe one day this will trickle down into the collective consciousness and become so ubiquitous as to be non-sensical.

    The existentialists may have had it wrong in that they prophesied that the emptiness meant nothing, that it was a void without wonder. This was their mistake, because they did go all the way through nothingness. Awe, wonder, and grace are found in the centre. Yet to find them a person must be a nihilist.

    re: the bolded: this is precisely why I don't view faith as a choice, but rather a supplementary redundancy, if you will. if it's a meme, it arose from imitation... and the problem of what constitutes the 'first' in any situation is resolved, again, by seeing that god is the processual self-sustenance of the universe; there is no 'original' copy that will give archetypal substance to the notion of a creator god. if god was supposed to always be in the mind, this is because solipsism fails.
    (^This part you wrote was well written, btw.)

    I was trying find a place for God. If not in the mind, then where do you suppose? Impossible to convince he is 'out there' controlling his creation from a cloud. Nope. The terrifying beauty of a Cosmos uncontrolled and the awakened consciousnesses like ours who are forever sunk within it, only catching glimpes of the freightening emptiness that could confound our eyes, is where God must be. It is only belief in the self that denotes the separation from him to begin with.

    So, if he is not out there, yet he is not in here, so, where is He?

    maybe, but I think this would probably rule out a creator god.
    With humble and kind tone, I would say, "Yes, it does."

    So, what is God then?
    Last edited by wacey; 10-10-2015 at 08:50 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by wacey View Post
    @strrrng


    I am not entirely certain? I know that Advaita and non-duality is a offshoot of the hindu/buddhists traditions. Generally speaking people often say the opposite of what they mean. This is a golden rule I observed years ago.
    yeah... and maybe there is actually something to saying the opposite of what you mean, if you know what you actually mean lol, but then there's the aspect of language giving rise to false oppositions, so whatever.

    Certainly. I think that at a logistic level for the majority of believers, faith in that replica usurps the experience of what the replica is, well, emulating. This faith and this experiential knowledge are not the same thing.
    yeah, and it's interesting, cause even though I said faith was more or less exclusive from atheism, the experiential knowledge you mention can actually produce a state of mind similar to what one would hope to gain from faith. I'm thinking of almaas' characterization of E6s as exemplifying "holy faith."

    the only necessity of faith is the production of its absence. "first I saw trees and said 'illusion,' then the veil was lifted; then I saw trees and said 'trees' -- the catch being that this circular process isn't even necessary when one has the right paradigm. this is also what I think zizek was getting at when he said that only an atheist can believe.

    In the same way, Atheism and Faith in a creator are not the same thing. Yet they do have something to say to each other. Science seeks the lawfulness of events. It is the task of religion to fit man into this lawfulness.
    maybe, I guess I just don't see religion going that far. it's a liberal arts indulgence that offers temporary color to a picture with no necessitated manifestation.

    I do know much about biology as well as evolutionary biology. I can say with 100% certainty and conviction that it is far more miraculous that life has no designer, no entity moving the pieces. The miracle is that we are here at all as a results of simple chemical rules multiplied into infinite complexity. That life, as a inborn rule of this Universe, can survive the mishaps and cruel circumstances is a testament to the wonder of life with 'no-thing/one' in control. Life, as it stands, cannot help but exist and our scientific inquiry has and will continue to discover the causes and consequences of why we are here. As a biology professor once put it, "Life hates an empty space".
    maybe from a more experiential point of view, that "empty space" could be god -- with the paradoxical insight being that the space isn't just empty, and thus that god isn't extrinsically omnipotent.

    The existentialists may have had it wrong in that they prophesied that the emptiness meant nothing, that it was a void without wonder. This was their mistake, because they did go all the way through nothingness. Awe, wonder, and grace are found in the centre. Yet to find them a person must be a nihilist.
    I think camus took it as far as possible by concluding the myth of sisyphus with the claim that "we must imagine sisyphus happy," so I pretty much agree with you, but I don't think nihilism is a necessity; rather, just a familiarity with the abyss.

    I was trying find a place for God. If not in the mind, then where do you suppose? Impossible to convince he is 'out there' controlling his creation from a cloud. Nope. The terrify beauty of a Cosmos uncontrolled and the awakened consciousnesses like ours who are forever sunk within it, only catching glimpes of the freightening emptiness that could confound our eyes, is where God must be. It is only belief in the self that denotes the separation from him to begin with.
    well, there's also the argument that belief in the self could serve as a cornerstone for an understanding of god -- with the caveat that, as discovered by lacan, the self isn't some a priori, underlying unity that everything stems from, but the result of a symbolic failure, a seeming 'one' that is inherently out of joint with itself. god is all too human.

    and maybe there's an argument to the effect that precisely because he isn't just in the mind, he actually isn't in reality; and so the mind transcends reality, but not in a solipsistic way, more in the sense that reality is included in the mind, or vice-versa; and god would be the self-replicating fractal effect of this dualistic interplay. again, not even necessarily more divine than humans.

    So, if he is not out there, yet he is not in here, so, where is He?

    With humble and kind tone, I would say, "Yes, it does."

    So, what is God then?
    *shrug* he's walking a tightrope, we just happen to be somehow governing things (not in the biblical sense).
    Last edited by strrrng; 10-10-2015 at 09:06 PM.
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