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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 1: Fri Sep 20, 2019 9:30 am
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Are atheists born or made?

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I think there's a reasonable case to be made that some people have a physical predisposition toward atheism. Having talked to atheists for many years I notice a preference to these points as being reasonable beliefs:

1) Something can come from absolutely nothing.
2) There could exist a cause for every effect going back in time without any beginning.
3) Fine-tuning presupposes a design objective that when nature is properly understood does not exist so there is no coincidence problem with the physical constants.
4) Consciousness is merely electrochemical processes in the brain that results (or is identical with) consciousness that is itself causally efficacious as an emergent system of the brain.
5) Etc.

Now each of these beliefs strike me as ridiculous once we get to the nitty gritty as to what they actually mean. But, surprising to me, atheists continue to defend these beliefs, and not only defend they often expect others to think it is irrational to deny them.

So, given that these are often intelligent folks making these claims, this leads me to ponder whether there is a physical predisposition to see the world atheistically. It seems that there is reason to believe this is the case.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 2: Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:22 am
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Re: Are atheists born or made?

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[Replying to post 1 by harvey1]

Given that EVERYONE is born without beliefs in gods (or beliefs in anything), we are all born atheists in the strict sense of the definition of 'atheist'. i.e. not a theist.

So, given that, I'm not sure what the point of the OP is. Are you suggesting that some people are predisposed to not believing stories about gods? That doesn't make much sense. Perhaps some are predisposed to not believing ANY story without convincing evidence. In fact, I think that describes everyone.

We are all convinced by differing things and some of us learn various strategies to test what we believe. Perhaps those who are not predisposed to endlessly question matters, but just take peoples word for things and leave it at that are predisposed to become theists?

Regardless of any pondering, was there some scientific evidence or methodology to be discussed here? We are in the Science and Religion subforum after all.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 3: Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:43 am
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Re: Are atheists born or made?

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benchwarmer wrote:

We are all convinced by differing things and some of us learn various strategies to test what we believe. Perhaps those who are not predisposed to endlessly question matters, but just take peoples word for things and leave it at that are predisposed to become theists?


I'm not really concerned about how beliefs are formed. I'm mostly concentrated on what beliefs appeal to people as they become more aware of the issues that divide theism and atheism. So, for example, fine-tuning coincidences is an excellent example how different people think. Probably most of us believe that fine-tuning coincidences require an explanation, but some people (I would think mostly atheists and agnostics) don't see anything in need of explanation at all. Could it be that these folks are "wired" for atheism?

benchwarmer wrote:
Regardless of any pondering, was there some scientific evidence or methodology to be discussed here? We are in the Science and Religion subforum after all.


Without some kind of detailed brain mapping showing how people arrive at their conclusions, I don't know how we could know if this hypothesis that certain brains are wired for atheism is largely correct. All we have is the apparent differences on how people think differently about certain subjects.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 4: Fri Sep 20, 2019 1:14 pm
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Re: Are atheists born or made?

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harvey1 wrote:

Probably most of us believe that fine-tuning coincidences require an explanation, but some people (I would think mostly atheists and agnostics) don't see anything in need of explanation at all. Could it be that these folks are "wired" for atheism?


This is an example of poisoning the well. You establish an in-group (most of us), an out-group (mostly atheists and agnostics), and then imply a property of the out-group is abnormal.

Here are some other problems.

You have not established that "most of [people] believe that fine-tuning coincidences require an explanation" because you've made an appeal to ambiguity in what a coincidence would be. You haven't explained what an 'explanation' qualifies as, or why you believe "atheists or agnostics" would not think an explanation is needed at all.

Naturalist atheists, for example, believe that when an event occurs, there is a natural explanation. Would you arbitrarily say that they "don't see a need for an explanation" because when it comes to a seemingly coincidental event, they don't appeal to supernaturalism?

Here's the thing. It's not that I'm putting you on the spot because I don't see what's happening. I know exactly what you're doing, because your rhetoric is repeated all throughout christian apologia.

What you're saying mirrors a Christian Apologist trope: "science tells us that the universe's initial conditions couldn't be even slightly different, or life wouldn't exist. It is the way it is, and this requires an explanation which I will assert appeals to the supernatural, aka God. Atheists do not accept this explanation, therefore I conclude that they believe this coincidence doesn't require an explanation."

If this isn't the argument you're making in the subtext, I'd love to know where you're leading with this; but unfortunately, all roads lead to Rome in apologia, so the end conclusion (that atheists, being in the "out-group" category you established to insinuate that believing in the supernatural is normal or popular, are wrong because they don't conclude what you do) stands out.

Now, with that tangent out of the way, let's talk about how institutions like the church attempt to "rewire" humans to attribute events to false causes.

Someone gets sick? That's because they sinned. Someone survives an unlikely event? That's because it's a miracle. The sun was eclipsed by the moon in ye olden times? That's because the god(s) was/were playing around. Time and again the institutions of religion have ingrained the idea that all phenomena must ultimately be attributed to a god. So when they then pose questions such as "what caused the universe" or "why are things the way they are," what do you think the general church-goer is dogmatically primed to respond with? "Goddidit" of course.

When you are raised your entire life to falsely attribute events to a nonexistent cause, then setting up a tribalistic comparison between "most" (read: normal) people and "the other" (atheists and agnostics) comes across as extremely greedy. It attempts to imply that the position of being raised your entire life to feed confirmation bias and dogmatic thinking is somehow preferable or more normal than critical thinking and agnosticism, which you relegate to abnormality.

If I raise a child so that they will spend their entire life coming up with gymnastic apologetics to evade or ignore contradictory information to what they were raised to believe, there is a strong tendency for them to continue believing what they were taught to believe. Incredible, right? It doesn't take genetic wiring at all, it just takes religion.

If you actually asked atheists or agnostics whether they believe there is "anything in need of explanation at all," I get the impression you would not get the answer you expect. So in this case, this is you putting words in the mouth of others, which is actually a form of gaslighting.

Clearly when you asked similarly worded, but contextually different questions in the past, they gave you answers that you misinterpreted. (Pssssst, this sarcastic sentence is an example of gaslighting, which is why I'm pointing it out so you understand why it's not a valid argument, and is especially frustrating having to deal with it. Nobody likes being gaslit, so please don't gaslight us, thanks.)

So I rebut your suggestion that atheists are "wired" differently because I have seen no evidence to suggest that they are in any way abnormal, or part of an "out-group" by any virtue other than whether or not they were dogmatically primed by religious institutions to falsely attribute events to fake causes.

"Fine-tuning coincidences" is one of the most tired and uninspired examples of christian apologia in the modern age, but you seem to think it has way more traction than it actually does. If you would like to actually dive into the topic properly, feel free to do so. However, you only seem to want to hint at it as a way of saying "well, this argument is already established as being tangible and viable, so referencing it will give credibility in my current argument."

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 5: Fri Sep 20, 2019 2:01 pm
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Re: Are atheists born or made?

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harvey1 wrote:

benchwarmer wrote:

We are all convinced by differing things and some of us learn various strategies to test what we believe. Perhaps those who are not predisposed to endlessly question matters, but just take peoples word for things and leave it at that are predisposed to become theists?


I'm not really concerned about how beliefs are formed. I'm mostly concentrated on what beliefs appeal to people as they become more aware of the issues that divide theism and atheism. So, for example, fine-tuning coincidences is an excellent example how different people think. Probably most of us believe that fine-tuning coincidences require an explanation, but some people (I would think mostly atheists and agnostics) don't see anything in need of explanation at all. Could it be that these folks are "wired" for atheism?

benchwarmer wrote:
Regardless of any pondering, was there some scientific evidence or methodology to be discussed here? We are in the Science and Religion subforum after all.


Without some kind of detailed brain mapping showing how people arrive at their conclusions, I don't know how we could know if this hypothesis that certain brains are wired for atheism is largely correct. All we have is the apparent differences on how people think differently about certain subjects.

I think the point is that humans are wired to come to conclusions. In other words, we have the ability to take input, form opinions, and then come to some sort of conclusion based on that input.

The trick is, do we stay at the basic level of simply believing what others tell us or do we 'graduate' and start using more complex reasoning like critical thinking, logic, etc.

Unless you have some scientific evidence for a 'believes in god stories' gene I don't see the point to the original hypothesis. We already know that people can change their minds about what conclusions should be drawn from a given set of input depending on what skills they employ.

I think a more interesting thing to look at is what sort of education do atheists and theists typically have. Is there any correlation between people who have learned advanced forms of reasoning through education versus those who have not and what belief systems they end up in? Clearly this is still a hard question to study since formal education is not the only way to learn advanced reasoning skills.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 6: Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:10 pm
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Re: Are atheists born or made?

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[Replying to Neatras]
Quote:

What you're saying mirrors a Christian Apologist trope: "science tells us that the universe's initial conditions couldn't be even slightly different, or life wouldn't exist. It is the way it is, and this requires an explanation which I will assert appeals to the supernatural, aka God. Atheists do not accept this explanation, therefore I conclude that they believe this coincidence doesn't require an explanation."


Wouldn't a multiverse or eternal cycling universe with varying constant values (i.e., strong anthropic principle) also explain the fine-tuning coincidences?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 7: Fri Sep 20, 2019 4:21 pm
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Re: Are atheists born or made?

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benchwarmer wrote:

I think the point is that humans are wired to come to conclusions. In other words, we have the ability to take input, form opinions, and then come to some sort of conclusion based on that input.


No doubt, but there are very stark differences in thinking that doesn't necessarily occur as a result of cogent reasons. Are you ruling out reasons that stem from genetic makeup?

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 8: Fri Sep 20, 2019 10:16 pm
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Re: Are atheists born or made?

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harvey1 wrote:

Now each of these beliefs strike me as ridiculous once we get to the nitty gritty as to what they actually mean. But, surprising to me, atheists continue to defend these beliefs, and not only defend they often expect others to think it is irrational to deny them.


I suggest that the idea that these are ridiculous is nothing more than your own misguided perception.

harvey1 wrote:

1) Something can come from absolutely nothing.


Theists who decree that a God must exist without any explanation aren't in any position to be calling point #1 "ridiculous".

harvey1 wrote:

2) There could exist a cause for every effect going back in time without any beginning.


Again, this is nothing more than your own limited ideas about time. Scientists have shown that the arrow of time is a direct result of entropy. And entropy only exists on the macro scale. They also believe that the universe potentially began as a quantum fluctuation, yet there cannot be any entropy in the quantum realm. Therefore time in the quantum real does not flow from an infinite past to an infinite future via cause and effect. So your objection here is due solely to your misguided notion that time must always flow from a distance past to a future due to entropy changes.

harvey1 wrote:

3) Fine-tuning presupposes a design objective that when nature is properly understood does not exist so there is no coincidence problem with the physical constants.


The whole fine-turning argument may be totally wrong. Consider a balloon filled with air. You might think that it must have been finely tuned to have precisely the correct air pressure on the inside to exactly counter act the forces of the rubber in the balloon and the air pressure outside of the balloon. What a miracle! There must have been an intelligence who figured that all out.

Nope. All that has happened is that the balloon is doing the only thing it can do given the predicament that its in. No intelligent designer required.

harvey1 wrote:

4) Consciousness is merely electrochemical processes in the brain that results (or is identical with) consciousness that is itself causally efficacious as an emergent system of the brain.


Again, a gross over-simplification of the processes involved. Neuroscientists are actually learning more and more about how the brain works. In fact, people who are attempting to design artificial intelligence are actually making great progress toward understanding how to design a system that may be able to reflect back on itself. So we actually may be very close to answer the question of how the brain creates consciousness. In short, this particular objection is a plea for "The God of the Gaps".

In short, all you are arguing for here is the idea that since you can't understand how it might work there must be a God. Historically these kinds of objections have failed miserly.

harvey1 wrote:

5) Etc.


Sorry but 1 thru 4 were already unimpressive objections.

harvey1 wrote:

So, given that these are often intelligent folks making these claims, this leads me to ponder whether there is a physical predisposition to see the world atheistically. It seems that there is reason to believe this is the case.


Unfortunately for you, you haven't provided any compelling evidence for the existence of this magical being who would violate all the principles that you think are ridiculous.

Your proposed magical being would necessarily need to be just as ridiculous as you claim all of the above were.

1) Something can come from absolutely nothing.
1a) Where did your proposed magical being come from?
2) There could exist a cause for every effect going back in time without any beginning.
2a) How does your proposed magical being go back in time without any beginning?
3) Fine-tuning presupposes a design objective that when nature is properly understood does not exist so there is no coincidence problem with the physical constants.
3a) Who fine-tuned your proposed magical being?
4) Consciousness is merely electrochemical processes in the brain that results (or is identical with) consciousness that is itself causally efficacious as an emergent system of the brain.
4.) How do you explain the consciousness of your proposed magical being? And if you can't explain it how is that not a ridiculous proposal?
5) Etc.
5a) Etc.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 9: Fri Sep 20, 2019 11:07 pm
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Re: Are atheists born or made?

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[Replying to post 8 by Divine Insight]

DI we've already established that you're very happy living in a godless world. It would literally take months to go through each of these points to show how unsound your objections are, but you would just continue to fight tooth and nail to defend a set of beliefs that make you happy. I don't see the point. It would be better to wait until a person shows up who doesn't feel like they must put up every cavil possible to defend their beliefs. Besides, if you're happy being an atheist the last thing I would want to do is try and take you from that happy place (again, not saying that would happen --I doubt it would). I simply point out these beliefs that people who are familiar with the arguments to reject them might be sympathetic with the possibility that there's potentially a genetic predisposition to defending them.

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Post BBCode URL - Right click and save to clipboard to use later in post Post 10: Sat Sep 21, 2019 12:19 am
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Re: Are atheists born or made?

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harvey1 wrote:

you would just continue to fight tooth and nail to defend a set of beliefs that make you happy.


Total hogwash on your part. You have just made an accusation against me that has no grounds in reality. No one would be happier than me to discover that a righteous, just and decent God exists.

I would be absolutely thrilled to hear of such great news!

The fact of the matter is that you have just ignored the TRUTH.

Every objection that you have made against a secular worldview applies equally to your proposed imaginary magical God.

1. Where did your God come from?

2. How is it that your God can exist eternally backward in time, but a secular universe cannot?

3. Who fine-tuned your imaginary magical God?

4. How do you explain the consciousness of your magical God?


Apparently you are in extreme self-denial that the very problems you claim are ridiculous in a secular worldview are just as applicable to your imaginary magical God.

You have nothing to offer other than a completely vacant and non-thought-out claim that "God did it" supposedly explains everything away, when in fact, it doesn't explain anything away.

Every problem you claim about a secular universe applies equally to your imaginary magical God. So you have nothing.

At least the secularists have the universe.

Where's your magical God? Think

I think the secularists have you beat on that one at least. They actually have the universe that they can hold up as evidence for their position. You don't have any magical God to hold up as evidence for you position.

So thus far we have the following score:

Secularists = 1
harvey1 = 0

Also, you keep talking about believing in what you WANT to believe in rather than believing in where the evidence actually points.

It's crystal clear that this is the basis of how you draw conclusions. You just believe what you would like to believe rather than what actually makes sense. And when others don't see merit in your conclusions you accuse them of not WANTING the same conclusions.

But you are wrong.

No one would be happier to discover the existence of a loving benevolent God than me.

I can guarantee you that.


So your claim that I don't want to believe in a God is absolute hogwash.

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