Atheism, Non-Theism Question

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Darias
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Atheism, Non-Theism Question

Post #1

Post by Darias »

I don't mean to beat a dead horse that's been beat to death before... but I have a few questions.

I've heard it said here that Atheism does not equal a belief that there is no god(s), rather it simply indicates a disbelief in any and all gods which are believed to exist by others.

I know that the distinction is stressed so that a Theist can't attribute unprovable belief to a Non-Theist. It is also stressed because a number of Non-theists don't want to be associated with the word "belief."

But literally speaking, if I say: "I do not believe in the existence of any god(s)"

Does it not logically follow that because "I do not believe in the existence of any god(s)" that "in my opinion(AKA I believe) there is no god(s)"

Does not the former ultimately lead to the latter?

I understand that one is phrased in a way that places the burden of proof on those who believe in gods, and the other is phrased in a way that makes it out to be a positive assertion; so I understand the debate-significance of the distinction.

However, it is hard for me to separate the two - unless the person who states the former is more of an Agnostic Non-Theist...

If you are an Atheist, how can you honestly say one without at least feeling the other?

Isn't saying "To be an Atheist is to not believe in any gods, Atheism does not assert that gods do not exist."

just like saying "The car is around me, but I am not in the car"?


You can't really state one position without the other being true as well.

If I didn't believe that gods existed, I would certainly say gods don't exist, even if I couldn't prove it.

It makes no sense to say "I don't believe in gods, but that doesn't mean I deny their existence."

Does it?

Help me out here seriously. :confused2:

cnorman18

Post #21

Post by cnorman18 »

Lucia wrote:
cnorman18 wrote:As I've often said, as far as the God of fundamentalist Christianity is concerned, I am an atheist too -- and it ought to be noted that there unquestionably OUGHT to be evidence proving THAT god's existence; start with geological evidence for a worldwide Flood, and work forward.
I would agree. I also think that the god of some flavors of non-fundamental Christianity should either have solid evidence or christians should forsake one of his qualities, though. If someone tells me that belief in that god is very important (to god) for whatever reason, so much that there are negative consequences for non-believers, and that this god is also all-loving and omnipotent, I'd say that then there is no possible explanation for the existence of atheists.
Never thought of it quite that way, but I think you're correct there. If it matters, it ought to be clear...
cnorman18 wrote:Precisely. Or an undefined God whose attributes and nature are not known and may not be knowable?
I find that possibility much more believable (from my point of view) than a personal -to the point that we can refer to it as a male- god.
LOL! Point taken. I feel constrained to point out, though, that Hebrew, like English, has no gender-neutral pronoun that connotes respect. "It" is unsuitable in either language. There are also multiple names and designations for God in Hebrew, and some of them are feminine; the best-known is Shekhinah. Among other applications, this term is used to refer to the visible presence of God which was said to have appeared over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies.

Hey, don't ask ME. I dunno. I wasn't there.
cnorman18 wrote:I have maintained for some time here that I think it's a matter of taste as much as anything else -- and that I see nothing wrong with that. Since belief, in Judaism, doesn't determine one's "eternal fate" or anything else, it's not a major issue. I believe in God, and I believe in Skippy extra-crunchy peanut butter, and I'm about as dedicated to proselytizing for one as for the other.
I'm not sure that it's a matter of taste. Even though I give the matter a lot of thought, I still feel like I'm somewhat naturally inclined towards non-theism, or skepticism or whatever it might be. I doubt I could "truly believe" if there is absence of evidence, even though I accept that evidence might not be obtainable.
"Taste" can refer to intellectual inclinations as well as emotional. One reason I prefer the Jewish religion is the emphasis on the cognitive and intellectual aspects of the tradition and the relatively low priority of subjective emotional "feelings" as an object or goal of belief. We don't do the close-your-eyes-and-wave-your-hands-in-ecstasy thing much, except for the Chasids, and I don't hang out with them. Maybe if Daughter marries a doctor...
I prefer Nutella to peanut butter :P
Heathen!

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Post #22

Post by Lux »

cnorman18 wrote:LOL! Point taken. I feel constrained to point out, though, that Hebrew, like English, has no gender-neutral pronoun that connotes respect. "It" is unsuitable in either language. There are also multiple names and designations for God in Hebrew, and some of them are feminine; the best-known is Shekhinah. Among other applications, this term is used to refer to the visible presence of God which was said to have appeared over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies.
lol, I actually wasn't talking about you, I know you believe in a more "undefined" god. I use it when refereing to gods, I know some people take offense at that, but an "it" god is so much more believable from my point of view that I can't really help it. I simply doubt god (if there) is bound by human genders...
cnorman18 wrote:Hey, don't ask ME. I dunno. I wasn't there.
No?? Bo-ring :P
cnorman18 wrote:"Taste" can refer to intellectual inclinations as well as emotional.
Ah, gotcha.
cnorman18 wrote:One reason I prefer the Jewish religion is the emphasis on the cognitive and intellectual aspects of the tradition and the relatively low priority of subjective emotional "feelings" as an object or goal of belief. We don't do the close-your-eyes-and-wave-your-hands-in-ecstasy thing much, except for the Chasids, and I don't hang out with them.
I can't deny that I like Judaism's ways better than those of other religions. The first person to ever tell me that it was ok to not belong in a religious institution was a Rabbi, and while that might seem obvious to some, I was extremely grateful for that piece of wisdom at the young and confusing age of 12.
cnorman18 wrote:Maybe if Daughter marries a doctor...
What is it with jews and doctors? :lol: Always wondered.
cnorman18 wrote:
Lucia wrote:I prefer Nutella to peanut butter :P
Heathen!
Psh, just look at the evidence:

Chocolate is better than peanuts
Nutella is made of chocolate

Therefore, Nutella is better than peanut butter.

As objective as it gets!
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cnorman18

Post #23

Post by cnorman18 »

Lucia wrote:
What is it with jews and doctors? :lol: Always wondered.
Serious answer to a lighthearted question: Jewish culture has valued the scholar over the warrior, the artist or the tradesman for centuries. That’s because when we were confined to ghettos or shtetls, there was little opportunity for any challenging or satisfying pursuit but that of the scholar. Medicine was a field that Jews excelled in because of its scholarly nature -- our greatest rabbi, Maimonides, was also the greatest physician of his day -- and that is still valued as a high-status occupation among Jews. In some circles, to have a child become (or marry) a doctor is still second to becoming (or marrying) a rabbi, but either way it’s a big deal. Of course, nowadays one's daughter may be the one becoming a rabbi or doctor, and one's son may be the one marrying one; but still....

Now ask me what it is about Jews and Chinese food. I have an answer for that one, too.
cnorman18 wrote:
Lucia wrote:I prefer Nutella to peanut butter :P
Heathen!
Psh, just look at the evidence:

Chocolate is better than peanuts
Nutella is made of chocolate

Therefore, Nutella is better than peanut butter.

As objective as it gets!
Pfft. Evidence, schmevidence. You gotta belieeeeve!

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Post #24

Post by Lux »

cnorman18 wrote:Serious answer to a lighthearted question: Jewish culture has valued the scholar over the warrior, the artist or the tradesman for centuries. That’s because when we were confined to ghettos or shtetls, there was little opportunity for any challenging or satisfying pursuit but that of the scholar. Medicine was a field that Jews excelled in because of its scholarly nature -- our greatest rabbi, Maimonides, was also the greatest physician of his day -- and that is still valued as a high-status occupation among Jews. In some circles, to have a child become (or marry) a doctor is still second to becoming (or marrying) a rabbi, but either way it’s a big deal. Of course, nowadays one's daughter may be the one becoming a rabbi or doctor, and one's son may be the one marrying one; but still....
Wow, I never would have imagined there was a serious answer *feels like an idiot*. Thanks for the enlightment.
cnorman18 wrote:Now ask me what it is about Jews and Chinese food. I have an answer for that one, too.
Do tell :)
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cnorman18

Post #25

Post by cnorman18 »

Lucia wrote:
cnorman18 wrote:Now ask me what it is about Jews and Chinese food. I have an answer for that one, too.
Do tell :)
Lots of Jews don't fully "keep kosher," but they avoid eating pork and shellfish, as sort of a compromise. It's just as "unkosher" to eat nonkosher beef, but it doesn't make you feel so guilty. So far, so good.

The other part of the kosher laws, though, is the prohibition of mixing meat and milk. Meat + cheese = no-no. Same for cream gravy or sauce. That can be a problem in many kinds of ethnic food -- Mexican, Italian, etc., meat + dairy all over the place.

Chinese food never contains cheese or dairy-based sauces. Keeps it simple.

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Post #26

Post by nygreenguy »

cnorman18 wrote:
Lucia wrote:
cnorman18 wrote:Now ask me what it is about Jews and Chinese food. I have an answer for that one, too.
Do tell :)
Lots of Jews don't fully "keep kosher," but they avoid eating pork and shellfish, as sort of a compromise. It's just as "unkosher" to eat nonkosher beef, but it doesn't make you feel so guilty. So far, so good.

The other part of the kosher laws, though, is the prohibition of mixing meat and milk. Meat + cheese = no-no. Same for cream gravy or sauce. That can be a problem in many kinds of ethnic food -- Mexican, Italian, etc., meat + dairy all over the place.

Chinese food never contains cheese or dairy-based sauces. Keeps it simple.
No biscuits and gravy?!?!?! Oh, the humanity! That right there is enough reason to never be jewish!

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Post #27

Post by Goat »

nygreenguy wrote: No biscuits and gravy?!?!?! Oh, the humanity! That right there is enough reason to never be jewish!
Depends on what you make the gravy from.

Some of the Kosher laws as they are practiced today I think are silly. For example, there is no actual reason from a biblical point of view not to mix chicken and dairy, but the Rabbi's decided to restrict that to reduce the chances of mistakes being made. Silly and stupid in my opinion.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

Steven Novella

cnorman18

Post #28

Post by cnorman18 »

Goat wrote:
nygreenguy wrote: No biscuits and gravy?!?!?! Oh, the humanity! That right there is enough reason to never be jewish!
Depends on what you make the gravy from.

Some of the Kosher laws as they are practiced today I think are silly. For example, there is no actual reason from a biblical point of view not to mix chicken and dairy, but the Rabbi's decided to restrict that to reduce the chances of mistakes being made. Silly and stupid in my opinion.
Depends on how you understand the laws. One strand of thought -- which I actually worked out on my own before I met it in my reading -- holds that all the Kosher laws come from the first one, the prohibition of consuming blood, because "the blood is the life."

Meat = death. The dietary laws are intended, in the opinion of some scholars, to keep us aware of, and humble about, the fact that eating meat requires one of our fellow creatures to die. That death must be as painless as possible -- thus the rigid requirements for kosher slaughter, a literally razor-sharp blade through the throat. It must be a creature that does not itself survive by killing; thus the prohibition of birds of prey, explicitly named in the Torah, and the limitation to herbivorous ruminants (which are also not typically very aware or intelligent, as predators have to be). One must remember that one's meal entails a death, and one must treat the animal humanely, with respect, and with humility. The Native Americans, some of them, had a tradition that seems related; asking the permission of the spirit of the deer before they hunted it, and thanking the deer for its gift of life and food after they killed it. It's a matter of remembering one's place in the "circle of life" - and death.

On the other hand: Milk = life. Milk is provided by God, or Nature if you like, to nourish new life; it's for young animals, including young humans. It seemed to the ancients to be impious and arrogant, not to say "an abomination" (which, of course they DID say) to mix life and death in that manner. It its most extreme form, that would be cooking a young goat in its mother's milk, which was meant, in nature, to have sustained it and helped it grow; using the mother goat's gift to her child to make a meal of it after it has been killed seems somehow insulting and contemptuous, on top of the perhaps necessary killing of her little one for food.

By extension, using the milk of ANY creature -- a symbol of life, almost literally life itself -- in a dish including the meat of ANY creature, including fowl -- which meat, again, is quite literally death, dead meat -- seems impious and "abominable" in the same way. A bit repugnant, when you think about it that way.

In my understanding, the kosher laws are about respect for life, humility in the face of death, and gratitude for the gifts that God -- or Nature -- has given us. Not as silly and stupid as all that, as I see it.

ETA: All that said -- and I feel a bit, um, sheepish about admitting this -- biscuits with pork sausage gravy is one of my favorites, and I make it for my client and myself for lunch at least twice a week.

One of the other great things about being Jewish is that we leave each other alone about these things. I've never seen a Jew lord it over another Jew with even an implicit "more observant than thou" attitude. It's just not done, at least among any of the Jews that I know.
Last edited by cnorman18 on Wed Dec 15, 2010 4:52 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post #29

Post by nygreenguy »

Goat wrote:
nygreenguy wrote: No biscuits and gravy?!?!?! Oh, the humanity! That right there is enough reason to never be jewish!
Depends on what you make the gravy from.

Some of the Kosher laws as they are practiced today I think are silly. For example, there is no actual reason from a biblical point of view not to mix chicken and dairy, but the Rabbi's decided to restrict that to reduce the chances of mistakes being made. Silly and stupid in my opinion.
Gravy? Whole milk, flour, water and sausage grease! No chicken! Chix and biscuits seems to be a more northern thing!

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Post #30

Post by Darias »

cnorman18 wrote:The Native Americans, some of them, had a tradition that seems related; asking the permission of the spirit of the deer before they hunted it, and thanking the deer for its gift of life and food after they killed it. It's a matter of remembering one's place in the "circle of life" - and death.
:o

that reminds me of . . .

[center][font=Georgia]AVATAR[/font]

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