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* Why do you not believe in God?
I am generally agnostic in terms of whether or not god(s) exist, in the sense that while I have not seen any direct evidence of god(s) and choose to live my life as though they do not exist, I understand that my lack of evidence does not constitute proof of absence for a god as defined in the most general terms. However there are good logical and practical arguments against many gods of myth so my agnosticism is reserved strictly for what we do not yet know. The Judeo-Christian god and those of various polytheistic mythologies are all bunk.
*Where do your morals come from?
I still agree with my old claim, that my morals come from within, but now they are better informed by philosophy, specifically humanism.
*What is the meaning of life?
Still agree, the goal of physical life is replication of itself and I don't think life has any sort of existential "meaning" beyond replication.
*Is atheism a religion?
No (still agree)
*If you don't pray, what do you do during troubling times?
Same as before: Put one foot in front of the other and keep moving. Things have a way of working out, even when you don't drop to your knees and ask them to.
*Should atheists be trying to convince others to stop believing in God?
Similar but better informed now: I don't think it's possible to "convince others to stop believing in God." Because belief is extremely personal and deep, one can't just "convince" another person to believe what they do like a politician can convince voters to vote for him/her. I think this question is flawed because belief in God tends to be intuitive and not rational. I think it is important to share information, but without expectations.
*Weren't some of the worst atrocities in the 20th century committed by atheists?
*How could billions of people be wrong when it comes to belief in God?
The same way billions of people could be wrong about which system of belief is true. (same)
*Why does the universe exist?
I don't know. / This question does not interest me.
* How did life originate?
I haven't read anything about abiogenesis in years, and I don't care to. I'm more interested in the time period after multicellular life formed. I'm sure the answer is fascinating, and I'm sure its not goddidit.
* Is all religion harmful?
This changes a bit since I haven't found a religion that doesn't cripple its users in some way. Yes, even Buddhism/Zen/Eastern mysticism has serious problems. So I would have to say that all religions that I have studied I have found to be harmful, even mildly.
*What's so bad about religious moderates?
Moderates tend to be inconsistent in their interpretation and expectation from religion. It's difficult to discuss anything with them because they tend to cherry pick their beliefs far more than extremists or religious-lites. 9/10ths of the conversation is figuring out which aspects of their religion they actually DO believe in. They also tend to be less informed about their own religious texts and quick to disown the extremists as "not true x's." This isn't to say that everyone should be extremists or nothing, just that simple "moderation" isn't always the answer.
*Is there anything redeeming about religion?
Changed answer: No. Anything good has come at too great a price. The art/music/literature/architecture (what most people claim is redeeming) would have happened anyway, just around a different subject.
*What if you're wrong about God (and He does exist)?
Then he's a jerk and not worthy of worship.
* Shouldn't all religious beliefs be respected?
(same answer) No. Beliefs that oppress others, clearly promote immorality, or are jokes (sorry Pastafarians) do not earn my respect.
*Are atheists smarter than theists?
*How do you deal with the historical Jesus if you don't believe in his divinity?
The same way I deal with the historical Mohammed, Buddha, etc. Despite being the subject of books, they're just men.
*Would the world be better off without any religion?
Yes. Then at least people could kill each other honestly. And no tax dollars would be wasted on the ongoing battle of fighting Creationism/ID in the schools.
*What happens when we die?
Our bodies decompose. Mind = Body, so no "eternal soul" survives.
Actually I did not define it as a social construct. I defined it as "an inner sense of male-ness and female-ness." This is as much determined by body chemistry as it is by environment. You can find this true especially in transgender people, but others as well, where despite a childhood of reinforced stereotypes, they "felt" otherwise. Sex/Gender is also fundamentally tied up in body chemistry aside from external appearance. I don't really know what you think these things could be besides a combination of body chemistry and social constructs, and I find it highly suspect to claim that other societies completely accepted and enforced sex/gender as polar opposites until our own.
"everyone so far seems to thing that this "gender neutral" crap is a fundamentally good idea"
As a victim of constant gender stereotyping, I do think it is a good idea. However, the parents here did not actually do much that was "gender neutral", they seemed too insistent on girl-stereotyped things rather than true freedom of choice. I also do not think there is a good way to apply gender neutral in reality. Its a theory that works better on paper.
"they are just a bit confused as to the application of a basically good idea."
I sort of kind of maybe agreed, but then I thought a bit more and realized that I do not think that religious ideas tend to be good. I've read the Bible, and to follow it literally or even as guidelines without ignoring the vast majority of it is a really bad idea. However, I agree with Vampy above that usually the problem does not lie with the individuals, and I do believe that they believe they are doing good things and supporting good causes, and therein lies the confusion.
"So, what's interesting about "gender neutral" ? Gender is one of the most objective, rock solid issues. There is no in-between here- either boy or girl. True self-interest ? There is nothing more in one's self-interest than to develop according to his own nature, and to cultivate those in-born abilities specific to him. I don't think that it is in the nature of a boy who one day will become a mature man, to be and act like some sort of hermaphrodite fairy. There is nothing "relative" here. It is crystal clear. However, modern society has truly lost even its most basic direction when it cannot even tell black from white."
What you're missing is that gender and sex are different and neither is totally black and white.
Sex: which chromosomes you receive from your parents, either XX or XY, but with room for grey area as some people are XXX and XXY. There are natural hermaphrodites. Sex: which genitals you possess, either penis/testes or vagina/ovaries; but there is still room for error as there are numerous instances of males with uterus/ovaries and ambiguous genitalia where the parents typically decide shortly after birth which gender they'd "like" and this is typically supplemented at puberty with hormones. These instances can be due to developmental or transcription issues and may occur in XX/XY but are also defining of XXX/XXY/etc.
Gender: typically refers to "gender identity" which is defined as your inner sense of male-ness and female-ness. While this is typically most important when discussing transgender cases, it does come into play with non-transgender people. There are lots of people in the world that do not feel comfortable with the gender identity thrust on them by society; boys that don't like trucks and girls that don't like princesses. Rather than make these otherwise "normal" people feel more alienated by demanding they follow societal standards (which are relative by nature) or follow their "nature" (as perceived by YOU, not the person), doesn't it make more sense to open up the definition of what is acceptable within the genders?
"Three successive theories of evolution? Oh if only they had taught me the truth during my Evilutionist brainwashing!
There have been a lot more varieties than three, and none of them “die out”, but contribute to the theory in different ways as aspects of them are proven to be true or false. That is to say, remnants of what the authors list as “Variation Theory” are still there in the form of natural selection. Remnants of what the authors list as “Mutation Theory” are still there because mutation is the mechanism of natural selection. The article misses Dawkins’ contributions to the field that contrast with Gould as well. Punctuated equilibrium has been historically opposed by Gradualism (Selfish Gene), though that story is much more complicated and less antagonistic than it appears. Also, I don’t know what Gould the author has been reading but those “fundamental assumptions of Darwin”: evolution is progressive, species competing are still part of Gould, and the only change in the “constant rate” is to allow for the uneven realities of nature discovered in the century after Darwin. And this list fails to mention Lamarck for historical claims, or Gradualism and Evo-Devo for current claims (among others!), so how can we expect it to be accurate if it doesn’t even attempt to be semi-comprehensive?
One can’t start with a disturbingly incomplete and error filled premise and hope to reach a reasonable conclusion, but let’s pretend that we can make a valid step from the glaringly incorrect three-successive-theories claim.
First, I would love to hear a paleontologist in real life claim that their findings or predictions look anything like Creationism. They have their own timeline of evolutionary history compared to Genesis, and none of it correlates--especially no flood. Even the various extinction events do not line up with a flood. If we can’t rationalize the most fundamental Genesis claim, then there is no grounds to claim that they are even close to agreement.
I am not familiar the findings of Dorit et al., but these findings have most certainly been outdated by more recent studies (post 2001). Current research does claim that there was a Y-Chromosomal Adam, but the date has been calculated to about 60,000 years, and includes variation within the Y chromosome called “Y haplogroups” which are distributed regionally and in agreement with the “Out of Africa” theory of human migration.
Response to endnote 5:
“human creation somewhat before BC 4100” Sure, if before BC 4100 they mean at least 200,000 years ago. Anatomically modern humans have been found with certainty in this period and before, with the oldest approximated at 600,000 years.
“the Flood about BC 2472” They may trot out Dorit et al. to claim a bottleneck in human evolution, but there is no genetic bottleneck in any other species around this time frame. So even if Dorit et al. had correct findings, the flood would have only effected humans, which seems odd.
“The solar-day creative-week concept is difficult to harmonize with anything happening before about BC 4129.” Too bad, because vertebrate life alone can be tracked up to 500,000,000 years. Its not even necessary discuss bacteria or other microorganisms which dwarf such numbers."
And as for the final bit, I don’t have a problem challenging the Genesis account with my collection of data. Bring out your notes and I will happily correct them.
Either way if you're going to give the developer $0 for their game I really don't see a difference between downloading it or purchasing it from a reseller.
So really any attempt at psychoanalysis might be misplaced and instead of the author you're really trying to analyze the author's best friend, ex-significant other, or some combination of acquaintances and tv personalities. I'm willing to bet good money that the characters mentioned in the essay stem from real people with real flaws and weren't created in a vacuum.
Look at my bold, italic emphasis here. Not all atheists are rationalists in the traditional definition, especially not the New Atheists. The scientific method relies heavily on empiricism, since its useless to form theories by pure reason and never actually test them. Lets break this down.
Definition of rationalism: "the doctrine that reason alone is a source of knowledge and is independent of experience; the doctrine that knowledge about reality can be obtained by reason alone without recourse to experience"
Definition of empiricism: "the doctrine that all knowledge of matters of fact derives from experience and that the mind is not furnished with a set of concepts in advance of experience"
Most atheists (that I know / have read / etc.) do not accept either of these schools of thought exclusively. Typically they agree that Pure Reason (by definition: reason based on a priori principles and providing a unifying ground for the perception of the phenomenal world.) is a source of knowledge for mathematics, but also that matters of fact derive from experience; actually testing suspected principles. Some lean more towards one side or the other, but generally its some combination. So again, atheist = / = (traditional) rationalist.
I'd also like to see what you're referring to "something you discovered". I would not claim it as valid, but I would rate it on usefulness in several areas. Usefulness and truth are not necessarily correlated. Overall though, I'd like to see you rephrase points 3 and 4 to be more specific as to what you mean.
"But I find that there are more definitions of humanism that people use."
Then again, just like with the atheism bit, you're not really opposing humanism, but some humanists.
Separate the two. My definition is directly from two dictionaries; random house and collins.
"when more and more people enter a movement, its quality declines"
Like feminism? See, more men and women joined and it began to achieve its goals of rights for women. Obviously a decrease in quality.
Like the LGBT movement? See, more men and women join regardless of their sexuality, and it begins to achieve its goals of gay marriage (among other things) in some states. Obviously a decrease in quality.