Disbelief is negative?

102


Discussion by: Ramiel

I recently found myself in an argument with a strident, and really rather truculant theist while on my university campus the other day. He was attempting to invite me to his religeons study group, but he seemed so offended by my polite refusal on the grounds of being an atheist that he decided to sacrifice both his and my time in what I can only assume was an utterly futile attempted conversion.

Anyway, one thing interested me, as he accused me of being a negative person by claiming that disbelief is a negative action. A friend of mine, who was also in the conversation and a fellow athiest agreed with him on this. So I was wondering what people think, I personally think that the ability to give up the comfort blanket of a God who looks after you now and for eternity and stand up to openly accept your own mortality and search for truth can only be a positve step. 

Anybody have any thoughts or further arguments?

102 COMMENTS

  1. So, he was disbelieving your arguments? That´s by far more negative, than disbelieving in a crazy old man in the skies…

    Apart from that, knowing is far more positive than believing. And you know most probably a lot more thant that guy…

  2. Well I don’t know about you but, I’m not an emotional cripple so I don’t need an emotional crutch.

    What the theist is attempting is an emotional hook to ensnare you, no-one likes to be described as ‘negative’, indeed I had a similar experience while at Uni by a theist claiming that there was more evidence for Jesus than Julius Caesar. To the subsequent question; “Such as?” they fumbled, “…well, Jerusalem exists…” which is obviously rather hollow given the existence of Troy and Olympus.
    However this niggled me till I used my research skills and the academic library to research the archaeology of middle east.

    That got me to the evidence showing that monotheism didn’t exist till around the Macedonian conquest, and I have since discovered that the principle author of the OT was a scribe called Ezra. If you look through YouTube for videos by AronRa or Dr. Stavrakopoulou there are more details.

    If you are aware of your emotions being manipulated you can give yourself a warning of propaganda which allows you to take a step back from whatever someone is trying to sell you.

    • In reply to #4 by Mr Greene:

      What the theist is attempting is an emotional hook to ensnare you, no-one likes to be described as ‘negative’, …

      Yes, a well known emotional trick.

      That got me to the evidence showing that monotheism didn’t exist till around the Macedonian conquest, and I have since discovered that the principle author of the OT was a scribe called Ezra.

      Indeed. The tribe had bits and pieces left over from captivity in Babylon, mixed with Babylonian mythology, and had to reset the scriptures in the “great redaction” under Ezra. Researching that is definitely a positive action, but one that most Christians are too lazy to carry out, so they leave it to their church elders, who then don’t tell them.

  3. @OP – Anyway, one thing interested me, as he accused me of being a negative person by claiming that disbelief is a negative action. A friend of mine, who was also in the conversation and a fellow athiest agreed with him on this.

    This is the common theist attempt to attach negative baggage to the meaning of ordinary words. Just ask this purveyor of the negative, how many of the thousands of gods he believes in apart from his own? List of deities Clearly by their own definitions these people are multiple negative persons – in disbelieving in all these numerous gods!

    You could also ask about their “negative belief” in leprechauns, fairies, hobgoblins, invisible unicorns, and little green Martians too!

    We must all have seen the blinkered theist, for whom THEIR god is a default position, which can be ASSUMED, without evidence or proof using “faith” – (Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. – http://www.thefreedictionary.com/faith), while other views and other gods, can simply be unthinkingly dismissed from their blinkered viewpoint.
    It has usually never occurred to them that their childhood sky-fairy stories might be fiction!

    Critical thinking is about evidenced, justified, understanding, rather than the simple trusting gullibility of those who allow themselves to be spoon-fed dogmas and myths.

    So I was wondering what people think, I personally think that the ability to give up the comfort blanket of a God who looks after you now and for eternity and stand up to openly accept your own mortality and search for truth can only be a positve step.

    Have ever tried to take a comfort blanket from a two-year-old? The tantrums are usually predictable!

  4. Ramiel:

    Anyway, one thing interested me, as he accused me of being a negative person by claiming that disbelief is a negative action,

    A typical theistic reversal of roles ! The theist was the one believing in supernatural god, (presumably Jesus). It’s up to him to provide the positive evidence of such a being ! Until such time as the evidence is presented, you are quite correct in your non-belief. The sheer arrogance of the believers is staggering !

    BTW, I don’t think much of your atheist friend’s attitude.

    • In reply to #6 by Mr DArcy:

      A typical theistic reversal of roles !

      Yes, the standard burden shifting technique, we see it so often these days that I suspect it is being taught from the pulpit. I stop them and ask why they believe what they believe? Asking them for a reason to believe avoids the “negative” position of asserting that what they believe is nonsense.

  5. Out of curiosity, if I may ask. On what grounds/argument did the atheist friend agree that disbelief is a negative action? I’m missing the part where he/she’s would be in agreement with something that counters their (assumed) reasoned perspective.

    Though to respond to your question, the difficulty with rationally discussing religion with a die-hard believer is to keep the subject on-topic. They know to either veer into hyperbole, or make it about you. Best thing to do, imo, is if while you speak, you pick up facial and body-language cues that indicate they are more preoccupied with formulating their next retort, it’s time to end the discussion.

  6. Attempting to engage in an intelligent discussion with highly religious people is usually pointless. A lifelong belief in fairyland has honed their skills in sophistry and, if your main concern is truth and evidence, you are at a severe disadvantage. Despite Peter Bohgossian’s erstwhile urgings I have much better ways to spend my time than by verbally ‘duelling’ fanatics.

    • In reply to #10 by rzzz:

      Attempting to engage in an intelligent discussion with highly religious people is usually pointless. A lifelong belief in fairyland has honed their skills in sophistry and, if your main concern is truth and evidence, you are at a severe disadvantage. Despite Peter Bohgossian’s erstwhile urgings I h…

      You are absolutely right as most religious people completely close their ears when you start talking logic as they live in a world of fairy tales and old superstitions. When it comes to arguing with a religious person it reminds me of the old saying “YOU CAN”T WIN AN ARGUMENT WITH AN IDIOT”. Enough said?

      • In reply to #54 by Toobroketoretire:

        In reply to #10 by rzzz:

        Attempting to engage in an intelligent discussion with highly religious people is usually pointless. A lifelong belief in fairyland has honed their skills in sophistry and, if your main concern is truth and evidence, you are at a severe disadvantage. Despite Peter Bohgossi…

        Hey tobroketoretire,

        Few people would call me an idiot, and I would not judge the vast majority of Christians I know to be idiots. (There are some notable exceptions, of course.)

    • In reply to #10 by rzzz:

      Attempting to engage in an intelligent discussion with highly religious people is usually pointless. A lifelong belief in fairyland has honed their skills in sophistry and, if your main concern is truth and evidence, you are at a severe disadvantage. Despite Peter Bohgossian’s erstwhile urgings I h…
      But the problem here is, that the theist started the discussion. So it was Ramiels task to answer. That it ended in the claim non-blief is negative is the sign for the end of the discussion, because it left the gronds of reason …

    • In reply to #10 by rzzz:

      Attempting to engage in an intelligent discussion with highly religious people is usually pointless.

      I disagree- it’s sometimes quite fun! I don’t expect to “win”, but maybe plant a little seed of doubt, or even logic!

      A lifelong belief in fairyland has honed their skills in sophistry

      I’m not convinced it has. Their arguments usually seem pretty weak; the only they really have is cast iron faith.

      and, if your main concern is truth and evidence, you are at a severe disadvantage.

      I really disagree! If they argue with me they play by my rules!

      Despite Peter Bohgossian’s erstwhile urgings I have much better ways to spend my time than by verbally ‘duelling’ fanatics.

      I look on it as a harmless hobby

  7. The idea of atheism as an act of disbelief makes more sense in the US where atheists are more likely to be ex-theists than say Northern Europe where atheist as a term may, paradoxically, become less used but more able to be used. Atheist is a term that looks to be making itself redundant as theism sublimes out of existence.

    Lacking a belief in gods as a definition of atheist is really a feeble and transitory sort of negative concept, especially contrasted with the willful and sustained antipathy to corroborated evidence and the richly predictive hypotheses and the grand, grounded theories of science, as required, at least in part, by most religions.

    Pot, kettle, black.

    • In reply to #13 by phil rimmer:

      Lacking a belief in gods as a definition of atheist is really a feeble and transitory sort of negative concept,

      This reads wrong. The definition is strong but it is only a weakly negative concept. I hope I haven’t led people astray. Apologies else. Its not just definitions of words that can fool us. Its how we use them.

  8. It’s an unfinished sentence. There’s no such thing as being ‘negative’, one can only be negative towards or about something, be it proposition or a tangible ‘thing’.

    The world is full of plenty of things that any sane person would be negative about, the various other religions etc mentioned here are a good starting point, but ask him what he thinks about sex before marriage. Negative maybe? Homosexuality? Negative? Alcohol? Drugs? Freedom of thought? Anarchy? Child prostitution?

    I’m pretty sure there will be an endless list of things or concepts he is negative about. What a negative person!

  9. I think some atheists bring this kind of criticism on themselves. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read comments here by people who say “atheism is just a lack of belief” followed by the inevitable comparison to not collecting stamps. I’ve always thought that idea was clearly wrong. For me and for most of the people I consider leaders in atheist thought atheism is far from just a negation of the idea of God. It’s a belief in many things: science, the free exchange of ideas, humanism, the idea that all humans (and some animals) all have basic rights, a belief that reason and diplomacy are always better solutions than violence, etc. How all those ideas are connected would take some time to explain and I’m not claiming they all flow from atheism or that every, or even any, atheist shares all the same ideas. My point is that for me it’s clearly not just a negative and I know that Dawkins, Bertrand Russell, and Nietzsche to pick three of my favorite atheists, all felt the same way.

    • In reply to #15 by Red Dog:

      I think some atheists bring this kind of criticism on themselves. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read comments here by people who say “atheism is just a lack of belief” followed by the inevitable comparison to not collecting stamps. I’ve always thought that idea was clearly wrong. For me and…

      But the prefix ‘a’ is used to denote ‘without’. Everything else you describe could a a rationalist, a humanist, a skeptic etc etc, all different traits that probably a lot of atheists share, but those values can be shared by someone with a religion.

      If a word is defined by a negative value, or ‘without’ something, then that’s what the word is.

      However, I would postulate that even in language two negatives can make a positive, if what we are ‘without’ is in itself a negative, then ‘atheist’ can be seen as a positive word.

      • In reply to #16 by TheGap:

        In reply to #15 by Red Dog:

        I think some atheists bring this kind of criticism on themselves. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read comments here by people who say “atheism is just a lack of belief” followed by the inevitable comparison to not collecting stamps. I’ve always thought that idea…

        We were talking about essentialism a while back. What you are doing there is essentialism. The idea that some word must mean X because it has some letter in it. It’s like arguing that pedophiles must really love children because the latin root “pedo” is “love”. The meaning for words comes from the way we use them not from some immutable essence they acquire due to their origins or the way they are spelled. So Atheism can and for many people like me does mean a long tradition going back to people like David Hume that is much more than a negation of God. It’s an affirmation of humanity.

        • In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #16 by TheGap:

          In reply to #15 by Red Dog:

          I think some atheists bring this kind of criticism on themselves. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read comments here by people who say “atheism is just a lack of belief” followed by the inevitable comparison to not collecting stamps. I’…

          I completely accept that language can change/evolve, (although I would be less willing to accept it applies in this particular case) but there stil lseems to be an unjustifiable leap from ‘not believeing in god = love of humanity’ (allow me to paraphrase)

          For example, say there was someone who didn’t believe in god but lacked the positive attributes you associate with atheism, is that person no longer an atheist? How would they be defined?

          What you are suggesting appears like the homosexual community ‘capturing’ the word gay, as it was a positive word to reflect something generally seen in a negative light. The word gay has changed, no doubt, what you are suggesting means that the word atheist either has or should change. What will then replace the word atheism, simply denoting a lack of belief in god/s, but carries no meaning beyond that definition?

        • In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

          In reply to #16 by TheGap:

          In reply to #15 by Red Dog:

          I think some atheists bring this kind of criticism on themselves. I can’t count the number of times I’ve read comments here by people who say “atheism is just a lack of belief” followed by the inevitable comparison to not collecting stamps. I’…

          On lighter note, in response to your ealier reply, does that mean that pediatricon means ‘love doctor’? :)

        • In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

          So Atheism can and for many people like me does mean a long tradition going back to people like David Hume that is much more than a negation of God. It’s an affirmation of humanity.

          Of course a common position completely ignored by the likes of Wendy Wright when she claims christianity’s monopoly on moral authority and human respect and dignity. [not enough facepalms ]

          • In reply to #21 by Nitya:

            and it’s the “phil” part that means love. I realise I’m being picky!

            No. Just nice.

            I also now see I sign birthday cards to my nearest and dearest in a rather tautological manner.

          • In reply to #24 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #21 by Nitya:

            and it’s the “phil” part that means love. I realise I’m being picky!

            I simply had to put that in as it’s very rare that I know something that anyone here does not know already. My son’s name is Philip as well.

          • In reply to #26 by Nitya:

            In reply to #24 by phil rimmer:

            In reply to #21 by Nitya:

            and it’s the “phil” part that means love. I realise I’m being picky!

            I simply had to put that in as it’s very rare that I know something that anyone here does not know already. My son’s name is Philip as well.

            Good choice!

            I’m not into nominal determinism, though (and certainly not with my surname). I’m rather more the phobehip than the philhip. Like poet, Sir John Betjeman, I strongly suspect horses of being able to sting people.

          • In reply to #21 by Nitya:

            In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

            In reply to #16 by TheGap:

            “Paedophile” comes from the Greek and it’s the “phil” part that means love. I realise I’m being picky!

            Pick away :)

            I was referring to the ‘pedo = love’ rmark earlier.

            And dammit it was funny and I WILL have a laugh!

        • In reply to #17 by Red Dog:

          For example, say there was someone who didn’t believe in god but lacked the positive attributes you associate with atheism, is that person no longer an atheist? How would they be defined?

          They would be atheist. They may well identify themselves as an atheist and you would then be reasonably obliged to also call them an atheist as well as describe them as atheist.

          I loathe, just loathe (no offence!) this linguistic entropy when dealing with adult and functional speech. For me “nice”, for instance, means “precise” and by extension “pleasant/satisfying by virtue of being precise”. I get a great thrill when someone uses words nicely. I know they have more carefully organised thoughts. Like your own arguments for using a term like grammar correctly. That was exactly right.

          Professional language is super precise and formal. It is worked on, policed and maintained for its very utility. And in an arena where Scotsmen can be more or less true we shouldn’t construct “true atheists” in a similar fashion of maximal but contestable attractiveness. We should indeed show more rigor than religites.

          I would hope that atheists are anti-dogmatists, yet they often declare as libertarians for instance. You may true-up your own libertarianism with careful definition (which definition is certainly persuasive to me), yet I feel the term is poisoned and not fit for argument in mixed company. The Randy will always claim theirs is the truer by virtue of popularity.

          The delight of words constructed from stable roots in dead languages is that we have a possibility of constructing more professional language. (Its no accident that science used Latin so liberally for its stability and freedom from colloquial foibles. Newton in the Principia, for instance.)

          a- theist. Nice!

          What’s more it reduces channel distortion. No wonder I’m for it.

  10. The gullible hate it when people disagree with them and demand evidence for their claims, so they’ll call you anything. Then again, they themselves do not believe in other people’s supernatural nonsense, so I smell a bit of hypocrisy on their part…

  11. I can see where the theistic argument is coming from, even if I do not share it. They’re saying, “I have something that you don’t have!”. They value the faith that they possess and are unable to project into a worldview that doesn’t have it.

    My own interpretation of the label “atheist” is much, much more. It means that I have considered the possibilities; weighed everything up and finally come to the conclusion that we’re in this alone. I’m in a position of being able to reject ridiculous claims, like the power of prayer. I don’t have to accommodate irrational thinking, or make excuses for contradictory messages. I don’t have to say that my references are just a metaphor. And…. best of all..I can change my mind in a second if new evidence comes to light.

  12. There are two meanings to negative . . . one is a relative term meaning ‘not‘ . . . the other is a more judgemental one meaning ‘nasty or not with us or whiny or temperamental‘ etc.

    To be an atheist isn’t necessarily either. To be an atheist simply implies a lack of belief in gods.

    It does not, (though for some people it may), mean stating that there are no gods. Holding the position that there are no gods is a positive statement about the state of the universe. Of course that is negative with respect to the existence of gods. But it need not be nasty, whiny or temperamental.

    Your latter observation, Ramiel, that “to stand up to openly accept your own mortality and search for truth” is a positive step, (or series of steps, indeed way of life), is spot on, and more effort than letting the church or a religion tell you how to think or act.

    Let’s be honest, there will be atheists who are nasty, whiny, temperamental, lazy, morally bereft etc., but not necessarily so in all cases, nor indeed in most cases.

    To be an atheist implies a lack of belief. Christians, for example, have a lack of belief in other gods, such as Allah, (as in the Qur’an), or Zeus, or Poseidon or Ganesh, Shiva, Krishna etc. etc. Any person has a lack of belief in many things. Does your university campus religious zealot believe that there is an enormous 300 legged, pink and green striped monster with no heed, but 13 eyes in its body, living on a planet 2500 light years from earth? If he/she does not, how negative is that?

  13. Please inform your theist contact that a Nigerian prince friend of mine needs to transfer 32 million dollars and needs his bank account details in exchange for a 5% cut. Given the excellent remuneration on offer, refusal will be considered a very negative action.

  14. An atheist says your god (if you have one) is mythical, like all the others. That’s it. It’s not rocket science, so it doesn’t mean you are particularly smart. It doesn’t mean you’re a good person either. You could be Stalin.

  15. Well done on defending your position. You should take this as an encouraging encounter for rational thinking because the fact that he became so animated in his defense suggests he is probably having inner doubts about all this religious stuff himself. Who knows you may have helped him on his path to the wonder and joy of reality. Ahmen, Hallelujah, etc, etc.

    My personal view is that failing to disbelieve something which is evidently false (eg. World created 6000 years ago, Talking Snakes, Eve created from Rib of Adam, etc, etc) could also be called lying and is the King of Negativity. But would not use this in a discussion as nothing will be gained from calling someone a liar. You should read the “A Manual for Creating Atheists” by Peter Boghossian. “Good Book” it is.

  16. Maybe you misunderstood. A-theism is traditionally the anti or opposing view of theism. It makes a stand against theism. Some people might conflate this with negativity. Frequently people will ask what you “stand for” Some may answer “science” “truth” “fairness” etc.

    • In reply to #36 by QuestioningKat:

      Maybe you misunderstood. A-theism is traditionally the anti or opposing view of theism. It makes a stand against theism. Some people might conflate this with negativity. Frequently people will ask what you “stand for” Some may answer “science” “truth” “fairness” etc.

      I’ve always wondered about this and you have motivated me to check it. According to my search of the internet the Greek prefix “a” means “without” and atheism comes from

      Middle French athéisme, from athée atheist, from Greek atheos godless, from a- + theos god

      So although many modern dictionaries say atheism is a disbelief in gods i.e. “against gods” that is not the meaning of the Greek word which is closer to the weak sense of modern atheist i.e. “holds no beliefs in gods” or someone who is without a god. It could also be argued that this is an incorrect English usage of the prefix “a” as well because “a” in English is usually taken to me “not” or “without” rather than “against” or “opposed to”.

      Michael

  17. Rests on the assumption that a negative action is a bad thing. Fail.

    When I was a younger I would work on my car, for days, finally get it finished, and leap behind the wheel to fire it up and reap the benefits of all that hard work. More often that not, it wouldn’t work right, and I would become enraged! HOW could this happen to me, I’d demand, when I had taken every required step and followed every procedure to the letter. I might not know every thing there is to know about cars, but I knew enough to believe in the the shop manual. It was my comfort blanket and it was supposed to make my work come out right.

    The old guy, he’d do all the work too, but he’d approach the finished product with a distinct lack of belief, “Let’s see if it works,” he’d say, and when it didn’t he would just calmly take the next step, accept his own limits and continue to search for solutions for as long as it took. He was not only a happier person, he was a better mechanic. Learned a lot from that old man.

  18. Something to keep in mind is that “atheism” is an “ism,” whereas, being an “atheist” is a condition of lack of faith in deities. There are atheists who are not in favor of atheism. As such, generalizations about what makes someone an atheist do not necessarily apply to atheism. Those involved in active atheism generally support the idea that not having faith without evidence is better for people in general. That is a social opinion and a different situation from an individual atheist who is simply skeptical. Personally, I think getting closer to the truth is worth the effort, and tend to go by this quote from Thomas Jefferson:

    Ignorance is preferable to error, and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.

    • In reply to #39 by Quine:

      Something to keep in mind is that “atheism” is an “ism,” whereas, being an “atheist” is a condition of lack of faith in deities. There are atheists who are not in favor of atheism. As such, generalizations about what makes someone an atheist do not necessarily apply to atheism. Those involved in act…

      The same arguments for parsimony of meaning apply to this “new” word atheism derived from atheist used as a tag or as a mere adjective. At its most elegant, atheism would be the preservation or some other promotion of the state of being atheist or an actively self-identified atheist with no implication about how that may be achieved or, indeed, why.

      Those involved in active atheism generally support the idea that not having faith without evidence is better for people in general.

      Yes, but I am really against an insistence on this presumption as THE mode of tackling organised theism. It means evidence becomes the key. I strongly feel that the real harms of organised theism are about less moral behaviour. These active harms are, for me, far more the motor for organising against it. The spurious and un-evidenced facts of its McGuffin/core-narrative self-defeat already in the face of other religions, but their self-serving immoralities are often held in common.

      I identified as an atheist because of an idea to not involve any kind of spurious spiritual third party into my moral deliberations, which I felt should be only my duty. The super focus on truth may be a reasonable line of attack for the brittle filigree of faith-glued beliefs of American fundamentalists but it misses out on winning the the hearts of many others who don’t live a life of intellectual introspection, but who may well feel the conflict of how they wish to do good and how they are expected to do good.

      Keep “atheism” elegant and maximally functional, then more of us can join together when our intentions align.

        • In reply to #41 by Quine:

          In reply to #40 by phil rimmer:

          … I strongly feel that the real harms of organised theism are about less moral behaviour. This for me is far more the motor for organising against it.

          Isn’t that the promotion of antitheism?

          Good point, but to a theist a promotion of the null state, for instance, will feel the same. I can rephrase to bring mere atheism back into focus. My target is poor moral decision making (and the virtues of the null position). Not theism per se, but theism as practised.

  19. If you are a believer, you are SUPERSTITIOUS (believe in the supernatural); if you are an atheist you are NOT SUPERSTITIOUS.

    How is not being superstitious, negative? How can someone that is superstitious, look down on someone because they are not superstitious?

    We need to change our lexicon. Stop calling them believers and start calling them what they are – superstitionists. They don’t like that. They don’t know how to respond. They can’t deny they are superstitious and being called superstitious is not as nice-nice as being called a believer.

    A few years back a good friend of mine (a right-wing-christian-wacknut) asked me if I believed in god. I told him I was not superstitious. He didn’t what to say to that; he just stared off into nowhere – there was an uncomfortably long pause and the subject of our discussion changed. But, he was thinking; he had to have been thinking about how his religious beliefs are undeniable superstition.

    Not too long ago there was a similar uncomfortable long pause when I referred to the superstition belt (bible belt).

    • In reply to #43 by RickM:

      We need to change our lexicon. Stop calling them believers and start calling them what they are – superstitionists. They don’t like that. They don’t know how to respond. They can’t deny they are superstitious and being called superstitious is not as nice-nice as being called a believer.>

      It’s funny how believers in the supernatural are able to detect the superstitious nature of all other groups, and yet not recognise the superstitions in their own “brand”. They’ll even scoff at the rituals of say Hindus or Muslims and not notice the luck-enhancing/protective qualities of the cross and rosary hanging from their own rear vision mirror.

      Orthodox Christians usually plaster their houses with holy images…even going as far as putting “protective” pictures above light switches and other places of danger around the home.

      I don’t see any of this as a positive at all. I think it’s a case of living in fear and I certainly don’t subscribe to it.

  20. Unbelief or, if you prefer, disbelief, is appropriate where something is not the case. If it is not raining, it is appropriate not to believe that it is raining. The available evidence is what usually enables one to determine whether belief or unbelief is appropriate. In the case of the god posited with various doctrinal versions by Jews, Christians and Muslims, there is no evidence of its existence, so it is merely appropriate not to believe that any such being exists. To assert as true what is not known by any evidence to be the case would be mendacious, and mendacy is one of the deadly vices, a negative and destructive quality that one would thereby be practising and cultivating in one’s character. Such religionists are deluded not only in their belief in a god, but also in their supposition that they live virtuously.

  21. I think sticks and stones

    big deal, getting called “negative” sorry but that means as much as being told I’m going to hell for eating a prawn cocktail

    “negative” is a mathematical concept. people who use it as some way of describiing character traits are, by and large, stupid, lazy-thinking individuals with no real argument.

    people accuse me of being negative if i disagree with them. so what? wtf does that even mean? i have my opinion, i’ll back it up if challenged but chucking an emotive word into the conversation is no challenge.

    if your friend thinks you’re negative point out that your presence in the group would actually reduce its numbers

    “negative” my arse

    • In reply to #45 by SaganTheCat:

      if your friend thinks you’re negative point out that your presence in the group would actually reduce its numbers

      Ah, that’s exactly what negative means. If you join the group, the group will be reduced. To make that work, you’d only need to drive two of them away. How hard can it be?

      But about this group: do they supply the beer? Or, being religious, maybe the wine? Or do you have to bring your own? (a bottle of vodka in a brown paper bag would probably enhance their desire to stop inviting you…)

  22. I’ve always wondered about this and you have motivated me to check it. According to my search of the internet the Greek prefix “a” means “without” and atheism comes from
    Middle French athéisme, from athée atheist, from Greek atheos godless, from a- + theos god
    So although many modern dictionaries say atheism is a disbelief in gods i.e. “against gods” that is not the meaning of the Greek word which is closer to the weak sense of modern atheist i.e. “holds no beliefs in gods” or someone who is without a god. It could also be argued that this is an incorrect English usage of the prefix “a” as well because “a” in English is usually taken to me “not” or “without” rather than “against” or “opposed to”.

    Interesting, Look how many of us just accepted the “anti” view. Hmm, wonder where that came from? ;

    Stop calling them believers and start calling them what they are – superstitionists. They don’t like that.

    I think you’ll start a fight with this one, but good luck anyway. I think believers is a softer word for superstitious, so essentially it is true. Personally I think we need to stop accepting the media calling the religious – people of “faith” or a “faith organization.” This is faith gone a muck. You could have faith in people, faith in situations that everything will work out… Instead, they should always be called RELIGIOUS and RELIGIOUS ORGANIZATIONS.

  23. I think the key word here is ‘supernaturalists’. A belief in the supernatural is what marks out people of all the different and varied faiths. That’s because the concepts they incorporate in their worldview come from the pre-scientific past when myths and miracles were what posed as knowledge. There’s also a warning of things to come in the word. As organized religion decays, all kinds of woo are taking its place –spiritualism, miracle healing, pseudoscience.

    • In reply to #47 by aldous:

      I think the key word here is ‘supernaturalists’. A belief in the supernatural is what marks out people of all the different and varied faiths. That’s because the concepts they incorporate in their worldview come from the pre-scientific past when myths and miracles were what posed as knowledge. There…

      Check out my post #43

  24. In reply to #42 by phil rimmer:

    In reply to #41 by Quine:

    In reply to #40 by phil rimmer:

    … I strongly feel that the real harms of organised theism are about less moral behaviour. This for me is far more the motor for organising against it.

    Isn’t that the promotion of antitheism?

    So, no. My primary purpose is not to destroy theism at all. But as the very essence of theism as formulated and practiced in post holocene times is the direct control of peoples’ moral sensibilities and the behaviour that flows from that, that specific becomes the disproportionate concern. The disgrace of the Christian religion in Genesis is not the infantile just-so stories but the naked attempt to imbue guilt in all and profit from that. The facts of a cosmogony count little in my concerns compared to the daily harms of this phantom guilt. Atheism, for me is first a moral quest. The quest for truth is serviced by rationalism.

  25. Well, what further thoughts can you have on this matter? He tried to use the fact that we use the word ‘negative’ as an adjective for people we regard as pessimistic as evidence that people who refuse to believe in his version of superstition are by definition pessimists. Just a cheap rhetorical trick. The most obvious way to counter this argument is to point out all the religious believes and gods he rejects himself. So, by his own definition he is just as negative as you are.

    • In reply to #50 by Nunbeliever:

      Well, what further thoughts can you have on this matter? He tried to use the fact that we use the word ‘negative’ as an adjective for people we regard as pessimistic as evidence that people who refuse to believe in his version of superstition are by definition pessimists. Just a cheap rhetorical tri…

      You might consider my suggestions in post #43

      • Yes, I think you made a good point in how to counter religious people… although it does not change the fact that the religious person described above was just using a simple rhetorical trick. In reply to #53 by RickM:

        In reply to #50 by Nunbeliever:

        Well, what further thoughts can you have on this matter? He tried to use the fact that we use the word ‘negative’ as an adjective for people we regard as pessimistic as evidence that people who refuse to believe in his version of superstition are by definition pessim…

    • In reply to #57 by Cootabux:

      Common tactic with Xian debaters and apologists. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about apologists and Xians who are willing to debate, it’s that they are notoriously dishonest!

      If there is one thing I’ve learned about atheists since coming to this site it’s that they love to make sweeping generalizations about Christians!

    • In reply to #57 by Cootabux:

      Common tactic with Xian debaters and apologists. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about apologists and Xians who are willing to debate, it’s that they are notoriously dishonest!

      Hi Cootabux,

      You can call me many things, but dishonest is not one of them.

      • In reply to #67 by Nordic11:

        Common tactic with Xian debaters and apologists. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about apologists and Xians who are willing to debate, it’s that they are notoriously dishonest!

        Hi Cootabux, – You can call me many things, but dishonest is not one of them.

        Hi Nordic! – I think this is an issue of representative samples. I know you can debate as a rational scientist, but many theists who turn up at this site do fit the above description. -

        @68 -(There are some notable exceptions, of course.)

        Especially the ignorant fundamentalist/denialist ones who turn up to dispute science, climate change, or evolution. Brief generalisations can be misleading.

        If you feel some comments are abrasive, you should think of some of those that turn up to offer abuse to Richard! http://www.richarddawkins.net/letters?category=Ugly

        However one of the features of this site is the focus on producing reasoned arguments and the removal of simply abusive comments by the moderators.

        Nordic11 @65

        One thing to understand is how Christians view atheists. Most Christians do not know any atheists, and they believe the stereotypical view of an angry person who values rational thought over people’s feelings, and when push comes to shove, they will annihilate everyone on the planet who thinks differently from them.

        I’ve had two atheist friends who fit the stereotype described above perfectly, but my current friends who are atheists (a retired gay couple and a family of four with children the ages of my boys) are anything but.

        Talking of generalisations, much of this depends on where in the world you live. We hear a lot of comparisons between the North and Southern USA.
        I am fortunate enough to live in the North of England where about half the population is non-religious, and we have a long history of innovative science and engineering.
        Having travelled to various countries, I am aware of cultural differences.

        • In reply to #69 by Alan4discussion:

          In reply to #67 by Nordic11:

          Common tactic with Xian debaters and apologists. If there’s one thing I’ve discovered about apologists and Xians who are willing to debate, it’s that they are notoriously dishonest!

          Hi Cootabux, – You can call me many things, but dishonest is not one of them.

          Hi Nord…
          hey alan,

          It is appalling that so many people who believe the bible teaches we should love others unconditionally, never judge anyone else regardless of their beliefs, and pray for everyone on this planet without failing can turn around and hate those they fear, judge them worthy to hellfire and all kind of curses, and pray for God’s judgement on them instead of His blessings. It is embarrassing, completely wrong and contrary to the basic teachings of the New Testament.

          I often want to apologize for this boorish, inappropriate behavior by Christians, and I certainly can understand how it angers the members of this site. Still, civility and mutual respect should guide our discussions. If fanaticals show up from either side, we can always just leave or ignore them.

          Likewise, the abuse of anyone who believes differently, such as Richard, is completely uncalled for. It is interesting that I was praying for Richard (and still do) for 2-3 years before I discovered this site. I just felt God placed a burden on my heart to pray for him.

          Cheers and enjoy a great evening.

          • In reply to #72 by Nordic11:
            >

            It is appalling that so many people who believe the bible teaches we should love others unconditionally, never judge anyone else regardless of their beliefs, and pray for everyone on this planet without failing can turn around and hate those they fear, judge them worthy to hellfire and all kind of curses, and pray for God’s judgement on them instead of His blessings. It is embarrassing, completely wrong and contrary to the basic teachings of the New Testament.

            A problem with the Bible, is that it has plenty of contradictory passages which can be cherry-picked to support assorted conflicting views.

            Another problem is that many theists don’t actually read it, (especially the OT) but chat among themselves about what they think it is supposed to mean, or listen to preachers who have also not read it, and have certainly not studied the history of that time or the origins of the OT or NT Bible!

  26. Being angry at an atheist is a bit like being angry at a parent who refuses to enable their drug-abusing child. Is it kind to refuse to give into a delusion in both cases? Your religious friend is upset because you told him/her that you don’t believe in a heaven, an after-life, the possibility of seeing dead loved ones again (pets included), that control is an illusion, that everything this person bases their life-philosophy on is a farce, etc. We, as atheists, scare the “hell” out of them. Here’s a great saying by Karl Marx that might make you feel better, because you aren’t the one who is defensive here. “The abolition of religion as the illusory happiness of the people is required for their real happiness. The demand to give up the delusions about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions.” Paraphrased, Marx is just really saying that you cannot achieve true happiness when you are living in a state of fantasy. So, you were the only one who was the positive person in that discussion. As a drug addict’s parent who TRULY loves his/her child, you refuse to have them continue to live in a deluded state of artificial happiness (that would be the drug). (It’s ironic that I used that analogy when Karl Marx also called religion the opium of the masses. That was completely unintended.) You were simply telling your opiate-addicted friend that you would much rather live in a drug-free state of reality. What could possibly be negative about that? Don’t let defensive people pull you into their state of mind. You have the peace in the knowledge that you KNOW the truth. Just smile and say, “No thanks.” as you would to a drug dealer.

  27. Of course atheism is a negative. It negates irrational theism. As such it stands for nothing. It just means “not a theist,” but no positive characteristics can be inferred from being against non-existents.

    Unfortunately, agnostics and theists make common cause. They both hold that the existence of deities cannot be substantiated through evidence and reason. The theist falls back on faith in an unidentified something, and the agnostic says “Who knows, maybe?”

    Richard Dawkins, as much as I like him and what he has done to stimulate discussion, counts himself as an agnostic and is insufficiently grounded in an explicit and rational philosophy to make a good case for non-belief. He seems not to know the evidential requirements for a truth claim to be possible, probable or certain. The possible requires evidence, and to concede the argument to agnosticism and theism weakens the case he appears to be trying to make. In his case he gives cognitive status to the arbitrary. He ignores the burden of proof requirement which falls upon those who assert the existence of non-entities.

    Philosophy is more fundamental than science, and without one people like Dawkins will be less effective than they should be. This shortcoming was all too evident in his heated exchange with the mystic Deepak Chopra. When Dawkins should have stated his axioms and primaries, he did not and thus gave Chopra much more firepower than he deserved. Dawkins let his emotions run away with him and lost style points to one who doesn’t have a leg to stand on given his openly Platonic premises.

    If you want to avoid Dawkins’ failure, please establish your philosophical basis for your truth claims before you start a discussion of deities and consciousness. If you leave unchallenged that the universe doesn’t exist unless you have a consciousness to experience it and that consciousness is consciousness of consciousness, then you have lost before you start. Dawkins got angry with Chopra’s jargon and abuse of language, but he never delivered the easy knockout punch that was waiting to be used. If one does not set out what is and how one knows, then one is on a trip to nowhere specific.

  28. This is typical theist misdirection, playing with words to try and find some kind of comfort blanket themselves. Being a Theist or lack of this doesn’t make you a positive/negative person. I know a lot of negative people who are theist and a lot of positive people who are atheist and vice versa. I can also state for the record that theism has certain negative aspects when it comes to dealing with the mortality of others. At the time of death, an atheist may lack the comfort blanket of god, however in the long run this comfort blanket becomes a noose. An atheist will accept that death is inevitable, its sad, we’re going to miss the person, at first we may wonder just how we’re going to get through to tomorrow, but in the long run we do and we give ourselves closure, usually. Whereas a theist whilst at first being able to lean on their belief, ultimately starts asking questions which then prevent them from closure. What is that person going to think of me? are they actually in the heaven or hell? Will they recognise me when I die and go to heaven etc. etc. A theist has problems actually letting go, whereas an atheist deals with death and has less fear of it than a theist, perhaps because it in and of itself is absolute closure on the issue. You die and that’s that, all you have left is what you have left behind you.

    This kind of attitude in its own right has great potential to breed a positivity to you though. As this is all we have, we are responsible for our own destiny, not gods plan. We don’t waste our time on concerns after death, spending endless ours worrying about sin etc, instead we build our lives on sound moral principles (for the most part) and get on with doing something in our one and only life. Atheism is empowering, it gives you the sole responsibility for what you want to do. If you need support you will usually get in from friends. However it can be the reverse, if that person is feeling negative and alone, lacking some god or whatever to give them confidence (really just another form of self empowerment to my mind) can cause them to be even more negative, this however is not something that can be laid at atheism, that’s just something to do with the person him/herself. It is not theism that is needed, its support from friends and family or if that isn’t available counsellors etc.

  29. Anyway, one thing interested me, as he accused me of being a negative person by claiming that disbelief is a negative action.

    This sounds basically like a pun. A statement of disbelief (“I don’t believe in X”) is grammatically speaking, a negation, and in that sense a negative, as opposed to an affirmative statement (“I believe in X”). Your friend seems to have blurred the boundary a little by confusing this kind of negative with the everyday notion of being negative, as in being a pessimist, a nihilist, a miserable person, etc.

    Interestingly enough, there is some neurological work suggesting that our attitudes towards our beliefs are skewed such that negatives like “I don’t believe in X” trigger a slightly unpleasant feeling compared to affirmatives like “I believe in X”. Originally, I got sources for these data from The Moral Landscape by Sam Harris, specifically the 34th footnote in Chapter 3: Belief, but here are some googled sources if you want some indication that this is not rumour on my part:

    Functional neuroimaging of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty

    (From conclusion):

    Belief and disbelief differ from uncertainty in that both provide information that can subsequently inform behavior and emotion. The mechanism underlying this difference appears to involve the anterior cingulate cortex and the caudate. Although many areas of higher cognition are likely involved in assessing the truth-value of linguistic propositions, the final acceptance of a statement as “true” or its rejection as “false” appears to rely on more primitive, hedonic processing in the medial prefrontal cortex and the anterior insula. Truth may be beauty, and beauty truth, in more than a metaphorical sense, and false propositions may actually disgust us.

    “How do you feel — now? The anterior insula and human awareness”

    Emotional awareness. Almost all recent
    imaging studies of emotion report joint acti­
    vation of the AIC and the ACC in subjects
    experiencing emotional feelings, including
    maternal and romantic love, anger, fear,
    sadness, happiness, sexual arousal, disgust,
    aversion, unfairness, inequity, indigna­
    tion, uncertainty, disbelief, social exclusion,
    trust, empathy, sculptural beauty, a ‘state of
    union with God’, and a hallucinogenic state
    (induced by ayahuasca). Thus, the AIC is
    activated not just in association with subjec­
    tive feelings from the body, but apparently
    with all subjective feelings.

    Brain imaging of belief, disbelief, and uncertainty

    They show that belief, disbelief, and uncertainty are mediated primarily by regions in the medial PFC, the anterior insula, the superior parietal lobule, and the caudate. The acceptance and rejection of propositional truth-claims appear to be governed, in part, by the same regions that judge the pleasantness of tastes and odors.

    This finding also holds true for religious statements, which don’t seem to be treated any differently from other true-false statements.

    It doesn’t by itself explain why atheists are not treated warmly by some people, but I think part of the explanation for your friend’s response was that a statement of disbelief and a denial just don’t compare cognitively with affirming the truth of a proposition. Unfortunately, it also leads to the exaggeration that atheists are nihilists and, in some sense, destructive. It would probably be less problematic to point to affirmatives, such as saying that one is a secular humanist (on the subject of ethics), a rationalist (on the subject of epistemology), and a freethinker or sceptic or whichever position you most identify with, since it gets around the lazy and unimaginative charge that atheists have “nothing”.

  30. Hi Ramiel,

    One thing to understand is how Christians view atheists. Most Christians do not know any atheists, and they believe the stereotypical view of an angry person who values rational thought over people’s feelings, and when push comes to shove, they will annihilate everyone on the planet who thinks differently from them. Few Christians see atheists as anything but negative. Remember, Christians see you as someone forsaking a glorious eternity not someone accepting your mortality and seeking the truth.

    I’ve had two atheist friends who fit the stereotype described above perfectly, but my current friends who are atheists (a retired gay couple and a family of four with children the ages of my boys) are anything but. They are kind and generous and loyal to my family in the face of hard times. We rarely talk about faith or disbelief knowing full well none of us will convince the others. We focus on the many things we have in common, and God or the lack thereof is not important at his point.

    If you care what Christians think about you, kill us with kindness, that’ll really confuse us. If you don’t care, then just go your way and avoid us (it’s what Christians do with atheists). Just don’t ask us to give up our comfort blanket. It really is cozy and nice. (Can’t wait to read the responses about that comment!)

  31. In reply to #4 by Mr Greene:

    Well I don’t know about you but, I’m not an emotional cripple so I don’t need an emotional crutch.

    What the theist is attempting is an emotional hook to ensnare you, no-one likes to be described as ‘negative’, indeed I had a similar experience while at Uni by a theist claiming that there was more e…

    Hey Mr. Greene,

    I just wanted to say (or perhaps I should say confess) that I am an emotional cripple and I do need an emotional crutch. I have many good, personal reasons I believe in God, but I will also admit that this is one of them.

    Have a great night.

  32. Nordic:

    I would like to add, that much of the anger on behalf of atheists comes from a deep seated disbelief, not of god, but that otherwise rationally people still believe in god, given the evidence. From the fact that we work hard to find evidence and rather than accept it or even try to find counter argument, they insultingly to us, dismiss it without even considering it, what I usually describe as ‘la la la I can;t hear you’ attitudes. In your case you are willing to discuss and debate which is great. I disagree with you, but you’re not dismissing our claims without actually considering and giving counter, I am not dismissing yours either, I will give counter however.

    Its the memplex that has its self defence in illogical/ erroneous and often insulting rationale which is then preached with authority to others which annoys us. We get targeted for abuse, because they don’t want to hear that anything they believe is wrong.

    • In reply to #70 by Malaidas:

      Nordic:

      I would like to add, that much of the anger on behalf of atheists comes from a deep seated disbelief, not of god, but that otherwise rationally people still believe in god, given the evidence. From the fact that we work hard to find evidence and rather than accept it or even try to find cou…

      Malaidas,

      I can see where that would be frustrating. Christians and atheists can truly miss each other on this issue. I don’t pretend to believe any hard core scientific evidence exists to support my belief in God. I’ve just experienced too many miracles in my life to disbelieve. These events fall outside the realm of science and are very private. I would share them with an atheist who is truly interested, but these events would not be accepted by most atheists because of their subjective nature. Still, they provide profound, compelling evidence for me, which is one reason why I believe.

      Enjoy a great evening and good talking with you!

      • In reply to #73 by Nordic11:

        In reply to #70 by Malaidas:

        Nordic:

        I would like to add, that much of the anger on behalf of atheists comes from a deep seated disbelief, not of god, but that otherwise rationally people still believe in god, given the evidence. From the fact that we work hard to find evidence and rather than acc…

        It is a sad situation as I am more than willing to debate with theists who are civil and will actually be self thinking and intellectually honest. I grew up a theist (methodist, then C of E and then believe it or not Pagan) and went through a long journey with many bumps before becoming an atheist, so I do appreciate your position. For me the opposite is true than you. I have experienced what appeared to be miraculous, spiritual etc but have found what I think are better explanations for them. My rational brain cannot countenance any such belief any more and for me this has made me in many ways a happier person. It took me a long time to deal with my subconscious guilt at denying god, sometimes I still have to check myself to be honest, a long time to get my head around the idea that there was no creator, etc, and that In am just a factor of my physical substance. But this is where my path of development has lead me, I can see no other answer that matches what we can observe, except perhaps a Deist type god, but then even that seems unnecessary to me and unlikely.

  33. Take no notice. Christians are masters of Equivocation,–twisting words and meanings to suit themselves. You could have re-phrased your argument and told him that you have a positive belief that God is a delusion and a lie.

  34. He is on spiritual drugs which gives him the “High”. You are not. Being addicted and possibly suffering from withdrawals symptoms if starved off religion…..you have it easier than him in many ways. Look at the bright side.

    • In reply to #76 by Omegatron:

      He is on spiritual drugs which gives him the “High”. You are not. Being addicted and possibly suffering from withdrawals symptoms if starved off religion…..you have it easier than him in many ways. Look at the bright side.

      Taking this analogy a step further, like all drugs the kick requires more and more of it to stay effective and it takes over your life.

  35. When I tell my doctor that I do not believe in the cholesterol lipid hypothesis, I do that in a very positive way, and after be questions me, he knows I have done my homework. From that point on, he doesn’t try to convince me that I am wrong, because I have made a learned choice. His marketing techniques no longer work! — The same thing applies to the the theist who would try to convince me that supernatural beings exist. I have made a conscientious decision that they do not, and I am no longer interested in his, or anyone’s opinion on the subject (if I ever was, that is). And, I do not care what kind of fantasy he believes in. That is not negativity, but indifference.

  36. It’s quite funny how, as a human species we rely on a ‘crutch’ of some kind to help us through a rough period in our lives. That period could be something as trivial as a bad day at work to a more serious incident as loosing a loved one. The crutch can also range from having a bar of chocolate to pacify the trivial, up to hitting the bottle of whiskey with the hope that certain things will go away if oblivion ensues. In extreme situations when an individual has a particular run of bad things happen in their life it can often be the catalyst for a significant change in that person life. It never fails to astonish me, that learned people particularly, profess to find that solace and ‘answers to the universe and everything’ in religion, which is often the vehicle chosen. At what point has that person stopped to think…. ‘right Ok, well why has that person died’…….oh yes they had a terminal illness. Ok so why did my other friend have that really bad accident which put them in a wheel chair for the rest of their lives….. hang on!’ Ohh yes, how silly of me it’s clearly that compassionate entity called God who has decided in his infinite wisdom that this will happen and sod the ‘knock on effect’. What utter,utter rubbish!!
    Please spare me from any pro-religious rhetoric as I’ve heard most of it. The fact is there is no logical , moral or sensible grounds, other than degrees of insecurity within us, that should convince anyone with an once of forethought to ‘hang their hat’ on the pearly gates and call it home!! Unproven ancient nonsense!!

  37. It’s quite funny how, as a human species we rely on a ‘crutch’ of some kind to help us through a rough period in our lives. That period could be something as trivial as a bad day at work to a more serious incident as loosing a loved one. The crutch can also range from having a bar of chocolate to pacify the trivial, up to hitting the bottle of whiskey with the hope that certain things will go away if oblivion ensues. In extreme situations when an individual has a particular run of bad things happen in their life it can often be the catalyst for a significant change in that person life. It never fails to astonish me, that learned people particularly, profess to find that solace and ‘answers to the universe and everything’ in religion, which is often the vehicle chosen. At what point has that person stopped to think…. ‘right Ok, well why has that person died’…….oh yes they had a terminal illness. Ok so why did my other friend have that really bad accident which put them in a wheel chair for the rest of their lives….. hang on!’ Ohh yes, how silly of me it’s clearly that compassionate entity called God who has decided in his infinite wisdom that this will happen and sod the ‘knock on effect’. What utter,utter rubbish!!
    Please spare me from any pro-religious rhetoric as I’ve heard most of it. The fact is there is no logical , moral or sensible grounds, other than degrees of insecurity within us, that should convince anyone with an once of forethought to ‘hang their hat’ on the pearly gates and call it home!! Unproven ancient nonsense!!

    • In reply to #79 by Kwwebbo:

      It’s quite funny how, as a human species we rely on a ‘crutch’ of some kind to help us through a rough period in our lives. That period could be something as trivial as a bad day at work to a more serious incident as loosing a loved one. The crutch can also range from having a bar of chocolate to pa…

      I was watching BBC breakfast this morning and a piece came on about a crack-down on gang crime in London. They had a guest on the sofa who was working with the police after spending 30+ years involved in this gang culture and when asked what caused him to turn his life around, well I could see it coming a mile off but i still had that sinking feeling when he said it.

      “Well I ‘saw the light’ so to speak…” (he said ‘so to speak’ there’s still hope…)

      “I found religion, I found the lord…” (Goddamnit!)

      I think you’re right about that tipping point. I think if people haven’t received a certain level, or certain type of education and have been exposed to destructive attitudes that come with drinking, drugs, crime, gang culture, etc. There’s almost no way out but though a leap of irrationality. Their rational mind has been conditioned or suppressed by this harmful and intellectually bankrupt lifestyle, and without external help or therapy they likely don’t have a way out except through a religious revelation.

      But don’t try suggesting therapy to overcome a religious delusion that could fall apart at any moment, only a bigot would do that!

      • In reply to #80 by Seraphor:

        In reply to #79 by Kwwebbo:

        It’s quite funny how, as a human species we rely on a ‘crutch’ of some kind to help us through a rough period in our lives. That period could be something as trivial as a bad day at work to a more serious incident as loosing a loved one. The crutch can also range from ha…

        Storys like this are a real problem I think, especially when the evidence points to the fact that theist based societies have higher crime rates than secular ones.

        • In reply to #81 by Malaidas:

          In reply to #80 by Seraphor:

          In reply to #79 by Kwwebbo:

          It’s quite funny how, as a human species we rely on a ‘crutch’ of some kind to help us through a rough period in our lives. That period could be something as trivial as a bad day at work to a more serious incident as loosing a loved one. The…

          That’s right.

          There’s no denying that religion can help certain people turn their lives around when they hit the bottom, (unfortunately that’s the point where most theists stop thinking) but that’s because it gives false hope and removes a level of responsibility from that persons life.
          It’s a weak substitute for taking actual responsibility and patches up a problem that could be prevented in the first place by education and a higher standard of living.

  38. In reply to #81 by Malaidas:
    In reply to #80 by Seraphor:

    Both very valid points, and it certainly seems to be almost the first port of call when life kicks us to the ground. Clearly this is where the early indoctrination comes in to play. Interesting to note however that when i was brought up in the 60′s and 70′s by my parents, who both served their country in the war and were ‘C of E’ for want of a better description. It was considered the normal thing for kid of my era to have assembly and hymns at school and then get involved in something such as Sunday School and similar things. This type of upbringing and indoctrination with the generic Christian teachings were widespread and not very normal for those years. My point being that is seems that the early religious intonations of those years have become accumulatively watered down in British society. In many ways I think that is a good thing, however we’ve not managed it to ensure that the religion is replaced with logic and reality. In essence we have created a social vacuum in which other crutches such as drugs and criminality have thrived and continue to do so. The answers are not simple but ‘no religion’ is part of it.

  39. In reply to #81 by Malaidas:
    In reply to #80 by Seraphor:

    Both very valid points, and it certainly seems to be almost the first port of call when life kicks us to the ground. Clearly this is where the early indoctrination comes in to play. Interesting to note however that when i was brought up in the 60′s and 70′s by my parents, who both served their country in the war and were ‘C of E’ for want of a better description. It was considered the normal thing for kid of my era to have assembly and hymns at school and then get involved in something such as Sunday School and similar things. This type of upbringing and indoctrination with the generic Christian teachings were widespread and not very normal for those years. My point being that is seems that the early religious intonations of those years have become accumulatively watered down in British society. In many ways I think that is a good thing, however we’ve not managed it to ensure that the religion is replaced with logic and reality. In essence we have created a social vacuum in which other crutches such as drugs and criminality have thrived and continue to do so. The answers are not simple but ‘no religion’ is part of it.

  40. Everybody has their opinions. You must not get into thinking that yours is right, (as we all should not) otherwise you will close your mind. Search for “truth” is not just monopolised by atheists. What if the theists are right? Being ‘in love’ with death is not necessarily something to be proud of. No one, on the face of it wants to die, so perhaps we should all discuss the subject more, but, as with all things, it comes down to opinions…and we live or die by them

    • In reply to #84 by Robert-Evans:
      >

      Everybody has their opinions.

      Some are carefully checked expert opinions based on heavily tested scientific evidence. – Others are just fanciful notions made-up or copied.

      You must not get into thinking that yours is right, (as we all should not) otherwise you will close your mind.

      Once information has been well tested by reputable scientific researchers (as with scientific theories and laws), it is very probably right, but could be revised in the light of new evidence. Once opinions have been refuted by evidence they ARE wrong, and can be dismissed.
      An open rational mind is not something like a bucket with no lid, into which anything can be poured.

      Search for “truth” is not just monopolised by atheists.

      Effective search for truth is effectively carried out using science. Pseudo searches use wish-thinking, faith-thinking, and self deception, might produce confident self deception, but are unlikely to produce anything which can be confirmed in the real physical world by evidence.

      What if the theists are right?

      Which ones, believing in which gods? There are so many!
      List of deities

      • Greek pantheon (see also List of the Greek gods)
      • Hungarian deities
      • List of Roman deities
      • Lusitani deities
      • Paleo-Balkanic deities (Thracian/Dacian/Illyrian)
      • Sami deities
      • Slavic deities

      ..

      it comes down to opinions…and we live or die by them

      Some are well evidenced expert opinions – others are just opinions – of which there have been thousands over the centuries which have since been proved wrong by modern science!
      Many aspects of theism are based on an unwillingness to face up to the reality of death.

  41. Don’t you know that you are either with us or against us, there is no neural ground. Belief is a fragile thing, and I think that folks that go regularly to church or to Bible study do so precisely to ward off any doubt and to reaffirm their thoughts and feelings and support each other in this pursuit. So in a way they may be closer to the “edge” than those who don’t give it much thought and do not attend church regularly, or seek the comfort of the like-minded . So if this hypothesis is true, that the very purpose of the religious study group you were invited to was to comfort each other in this shared delusion and engage in lively debates about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Then by your disruption of this attempt, was to him, negative. But so would be an argument with another religion or person of any other faith, but not to the extent of a “non-believer” for you are a threat. A person who at the least proves that you can function in society and succeed in so far as having the ability to attend the same university that God no doubt aided him in getting into. Why should you who doesn’t praise him or hold the right days holy, or eat the right foods be able to function unmolested by their jealous and spiteful god. You must be a plant of Satan sent to tempt him away from the primrose path.This to him is negative. As for you Atheist friend, some atheist are atheists out of retaliation for religious wrongs, people who left faith and are angry at Faith and proudly think what they are is counter to religion, angrily so and yes also see as negative, more purposefully so.

  42. A typical theist argument! The claim is, that there is a God. This is not positive nor negative. It’s a claim! the null-hypothesis to it is, that if there is nothing that proves a god there is none! This is still not positive or negative. It is just the reaction to a claim made by theism. But it is obvious, that if you base your life on an unproven and unprovable claim, everything criticizing this claim must be negative in the eyes of the person taking it as a basical guideline for his or her own life!

  43. A typical theist argument! The claim is, that there is a God. This is not positive nor negative. It’s a claim! the null-hypothesis to it is, that if there is nothing that proves a god there is none! This is still not positive or negative. It is just the reaction to a claim made by theism. But it is obvious, that if you base your life on an unproven and unprovable claim, everything criticizing this claim must be negative in the eyes of the person taking it as a basical guideline for his or her own life!

  44. Being realistic and taking responsibility for your own actions and outcomes is actaully very positive. Attributing everything to “God’s will” is a means of hiding and avoiding responsibility; that is a very negative approach.

  45. I cannot think of an argument more (pardon language) arse about face. You do not become a person of superior virtue or more “positive” (whatever that actually means) by pretending to a certainty no limited, flawed human being is entitled to placing what are at core your personal feelings on a pedestal, dignifying them with the term “faith” and declaring this the ultimate source of truth about life the universe and everything. This is the dirty little secret, the unspoken axiom the theists hopes to slip under the philosophical
    rug thinking you’ll not notice the dodgy foundation of their certitude. The atheist position is to my mind a more virtuous and for those not addicted to the emotional prozac that is religion a more “positive” one, it says I’m not going to indulge my desires and emotions at the expense of honesty and intellectual integrity. What the theist describes as being positive is in my opinion merely ego and arrogance with a light dusting of Prozac and if I want that kind of being positive i could achieve the same effect by asking a kindly passing surgeon for a full frontal lobotomy.

  46. If you ask me if I think that the universe is designed by some kind of architect, then I my answer would be that I don’t know; I have no belief or disbelief in that regard. However, in the specific case of the God of Abraham, I don’t only have a lack of evidence of his existence, but I also have large amounts of evidence that the bible is an untrustworthy source of information. Some people point at the limited space in the Ark and those things, but the bible also says that the world was flooded 7 meters over the summit of the highest mountain. So in other words; the oceans were raised by 8,855 meters – all around the world – whereupon it was drained into the earth. I’m neither a mathematician nor a geologist, but this seems rather impossible to me. But even if you did believe in this story, then you’d also have to believe that God is a liar. Because it is clearly stated that God felt remorseful and promised never to flood people again. Well. After this last decade, a few hundred thousand people will never trust the word of God again, if they ever did. I certainly won’t.

  47. It takes a lot of internal courage to look your own mortality in the eye and accept that “this is all there is” and reject all of the usual reassurances of an after-life etc. Most people don’t possess that kind of courage and prefer to accept the “comfort blanket” offered by whatever belief system they adopt. Personally I’m a very recent convert from life-long indifferent agnostic to a full blown atheist. If you want to know what brought about this transformation read my blog which can be found at http://keebostick.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/could-christianity-have-evolved-without-gods-help-2/ Hope you find it helpful and useful when defending your positively chosen stance as a declared atheist. Good luck.

  48. I always call disbelief the null hypothesizes. It is called “null” for a reason. Believe may either be positive or negative, like speed or forces in physics calculations, where non-believe is zero.

  49. He saw you as negative because you challenged something dear to him. But that is his subjectivity. If indeed no god exists, it can hardly be a bad thing to say so. Or try this: is it “negative” to say that Zeus, Hera and the other Olympian gods do not exist?

  50. Atheism is negative because atheists are not bees, they are flies. I’m referring to the problem of evil. See the positive side of life and humility and gratitude will make you a believer determined to fight evil taking life as a test. There are two ways of looking at the problem (IMHO):
    1. The if-I-were-God perspective.
    2. The I’m-human perspective.

    1. When we accumulate worldly miseries and think about them (no time to go into details), we say either (i) God does not have the power to delete them from our lives or (ii) He’s not sensitive enough to feel that they are there or (iii) he’s not benevolent. If I were God there would’ve been no suffering! But obviously, seeing the ever-expanding universe we can’t say the first, seeing the immense beauty we can’t say the second, experiencing intense pleasures all our lives (with the right attitude), we can’t say the third.

    So there must be some other explanation. Hmm.. Let’s see it from a human’s eye.

    1. We take life as a test, that is, God is testing us (for whatever reason) if we are patient and grateful, whether we are rich or poor (in a broader sense) we have to be grateful for what we have or in the other case, show fortitude for what we don’t have. When ‘we’ suffer (notice! It is much less and temporary than the accumulated pain atheists use for concluding 1), we have to show patience, fortitude and be determined to face it and deal with it (like we do in our lives). When others suffer, we have to help them and try to alleviate their suffering if we can, and try to boost their morale (like we do). Instead of proclaiming how ‘God is not great’, we try to motivate and inspire people and keep counting our blessings, pleasures, happiness etc so that we don’t become ungrateful and arrogant and can easily love God Almighty, the creator, truly by being humble, thankful and honest and responsible.

    So it is not a big deal. It’s our daily experience. Just a different vantage point to become positive. :)

  51. In reply to #10 by rzzz:

    Attempting to engage in an intelligent discussion with highly religious people is usually pointless. A lifelong belief in fairyland has honed their skills in sophistry and, if your main concern is truth and evidence, you are at a severe disadvantage. Despite Peter Bohgossian’s erstwhile urgings I h…
    But the problem here is, that the theist started the discussion. So it was Ramiels task to answer. That it ended in the claim non-blief is negative is the sign for the end of the discussion, because it left the gronds of reason …

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