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Author Topic: Atheists  (Read 354668 times)

Starver

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1800 on: October 01, 2009, 11:04:30 am »

Why is this thread still going on?!?!

It's what threads do. If they're good at it, they can keep doing it. But there's always people wanting them to stop. These people are quite selfish, I must say.



Interestingly, something made me wonder what it would be like if I swapped "thread" with "religion" in the above conversation.  And it seems to work.  Although I would expect the hard-nosed evangelist atheists to complain about being called selfish, and the ultra-dedicated religious types to complain that it isn't taking their POV seriously, and just trying to show that it's a 'mere' meme.


But that comment is just a segue to a basic analogy that occured to me last night...

You're sitting on a picnic blanket, in a field, and looking up...  Hey!  What's that travelling across your vision?  Maybe a fisbee (actually, it was a paper aeroplane, originally, but someone else mentioned a frisbee in another context, and that works better)...  in which case it's an indication that there's an intelligent person out there, off the edge of your line-of-site but obviously there in some form or another, who not only made(/purchased) the frisbee (or paper aeroplane) but launched it across your vision.  Or maybe it's a cloud.  A natural phenomena which has rational explanation behind it, even though you're not in a position to go and take high-altitude humidity, temperature and pressure and airflow readings, or to establish their exact conditions back as far as the cloud's original appearance.  It might even be a bird.  A living being, with its own (albeit basic, and probably far less philosphical in nature than you are) intelligence and drives and motivations and intentions.

And that's equivalent to three (of probably far more) visions of what we think the world we know is about (and/or the observable universe in general), given our limited perspective in both viewpoint and period of time that we're observing it.  Somebody's creation, a natural occurance of no extraordinary nature and (maybe) some sort of Gaian hypothesis where a hyperconsciousness exists among the complex interactions of so many simple systems.  You probably have your own objects in the sky/philosophical worldview equivalences in mind, for your own or others' opinions about the nature of things.

Of course, as a person having a picnic, we would already know about frisbees, birds, clouds, etc, having seen these things before and learned at least some of the details about their origins at a time when not lazily reclining on the ground after too many cheese sandwiches.  As observers of the universe, we don't have that privilidge, which is why we're all having to work out what we think it is that we're seeing, and having to deal with contrary opinions from others.
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Spreggo

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1801 on: October 01, 2009, 12:05:53 pm »

I would argue that all three possibilities for the appearance of the frisbee are simply natural occurances.

Ampersand

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1802 on: October 01, 2009, 12:44:45 pm »

I also began thinking about such meta-level ideas recently. Compare the human city to the human body. I contend that, as human beings are constructed out of many individual pieces that are on their own alive, the City much the same. Let's look at the classical properties that are said to determine whether or not something is alive.

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Homeostasis: Regulation of the internal environment to maintain a constant state; for example, electrolyte concentration or sweating to reduce temperature.

Cities and buildings individual have large air-conditioning units to regulate internal temperatures, on the micro and macro scale.

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Organization: Being structurally composed of one or more cells, which are the basic units of life.

Obviously, human beings are composed of cells, and are a constituent part of a city, right?

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Metabolism: Transformation of energy by converting chemicals and energy into cellular components (anabolism) and decomposing organic matter (catabolism). Living things require energy to maintain internal organization (homeostasis) and to produce the other phenomena associated with life.

This is a little more complex, but it still holds up. Energy can be drawn directly in the form of electricity for the city, but in addition, there is another level of metabolism in which nutrients are gathered and distributed among the constituent parts of the city. If energy and nutrients are cut off, the city structure breaks down.

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Growth: Maintenance of a higher rate of anabolism than catabolism. A growing organism increases in size in all of its parts, rather than simply accumulating matter.

Obviously as cities grow in size.

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Adaptation: The ability to change over a period of time in response to the environment. This ability is fundamental to the process of evolution and is determined by the organism's heredity as well as the composition of metabolized substances, and external factors present.

Cities of 1 A.D. are obviously very different than cities of 2009.

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Response to stimuli: A response can take many forms, from the contraction of a unicellular organism to external chemicals, to complex reactions involving all the senses of multicellular organisms. A response is often expressed by motion, for example, the leaves of a plant turning toward the sun (phototropism) and by chemotaxis.

As temperature rises, Air Conditioners activate, blinds close, on the macro scale constituent parts activate and begin operating after a rest period.

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Reproduction: The ability to produce new individual organisms, either asexually from a single parent organism, or sexually from two parent organisms.

Cities do reproduce Asexually. Their child-cities are called Suburbs, which, given time, become cities in their own right.
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Andir

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1803 on: October 01, 2009, 02:06:19 pm »

There's also the possibility that our sun is merely an atom of a bigger species... that our galaxy is merely a cell or our universe is a cell of that being. ;)

One could argue that a galaxy could reproduce (or appear to) asexually or merge with another galaxy to form a more complex structure.  Heck, the "Star Clusters" floating around our galaxy in the spherical orbits could even look like electrons to a very big scientist and they might not even know we exist (just as we know very little about the sub-atomic structures.)

I always look at these supposed "dark matter" renders, and I can't help but compare it to some organic tissue structure...
Spoiler (click to show/hide)

I just think about how we could be even more minute to the grander scale of things... and it makes me all interested and happy.  I know some people might feel depressed or rejecting of the idea though, because it would make them feel more insignificant ... even though we already are about pretty low on the list as far as the Universe is concerned.
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Muz

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1804 on: October 02, 2009, 12:31:39 am »

There's a formal debate this evening at uni between Muslims and Atheists. I thought about attending it, but looking at this thread, I decided not to :P
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RAM

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1805 on: October 02, 2009, 02:45:31 am »

That is unfortunate, a formal debate is one thing that this thread lacks...

Maybe we could try a formal debate page, every post starts with a rebuttal to the previous post and ends with its own arguments...
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Sergius

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1806 on: October 02, 2009, 03:51:39 am »

Why is this thread still going on?!?!

It's what threads do. If they're good at it, they can keep doing it. But there's always people wanting them to stop. These people are quite selfish, I must say.



Interestingly, something made me wonder what it would be like if I swapped "thread" with "religion" in the above conversation.  And it seems to work.  Although I would expect the hard-nosed evangelist atheists to complain about being called selfish, and the ultra-dedicated religious types to complain that it isn't taking their POV seriously, and just trying to show that it's a 'mere' meme.

Ah, a cheap shot.

Just because you change something with <favourite noun> doesn't make it true for <favorite noun>. If I change "threads" with "cars" that doesn't automatically make stoplights selfish.

A thread is something that just sits there. It doesn't evangelize. People who want to comment on it, do it, and those who do, don't have to. It doesn't make people go to wars anymore than casual chit-chat could, because that is what it is. A religion has many other problems, including trying to impose their POV in other people, politics, sex, war. A thread can't impose anything because it doesn't force anybody to believe something in a specific way (while a religion will force everyone to agree that, for example, gays are evil, a thread about gays will have the entire spectrum covered).

I put the next example: I say "hair dryers blow". You say "hey, if I substitute hair dryers with 'atheists' it also applies!".

Why not change "threads" with "violence"? That way, anyone who wants violence to stop is selfish.

« Last Edit: October 02, 2009, 03:53:38 am by Sergius »
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Neruz

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1807 on: October 02, 2009, 03:54:03 am »

Simply the fact that Religion is based upon something that cannot be tested or proven is more than sufficient a reason to boycott it for me. Sensible decisions cannot be properly made through consultation of fantasy.

Starver

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1808 on: October 02, 2009, 04:46:38 am »

I would argue that all three possibilities for the appearance of the frisbee are simply natural occurances.
I would agree that that the frisbee(+frisbee thrower), cloud and bird are all natural in our meta-world that houses the analogy.  It's the metaphorical part about the newly-conscious picnicer, never having had an experience other than laying on his or her back staring up and seeing the f/c/b/... 'something' pass across the line of sight, has an opinion about the origin and/or purpose of the object, insofar as the existence or not of the thrower (and/or maker), the nature of metorology and the existence of an entity that has attained the ability to fly through the air.

What might be seen is the cloud, which just happens to be in the shape of a bird (or frisbee... lenticular clouds are quite interesting that way), and much dedication might be applied to preaching to fellow picnicers that it cannot have been a purely physical phenomenon, that there must be some agency within/behind it in order for it to exist.  Or it was instead really a frisbee, but because the thrower is out of sight one announces that one has come to the concusion that it must be a peculiar phenomenon that coelesces out of thin air (much experiments with the cheese sandwiches ensues, to see if mashing them together at great speed reveals something about the nature of matter, while someone else shakes up bottles of pop to show spontaneous generation of gas in liquid) or an intelligent creature in its own right.  If it was an actual bird, then a "toy ornithopter" hypothesis might arise by those that cannot believe birds do not need designers behind them, while the Cloudians have their own explanation.

Better examples than these will exist, it was just an idle invention of the mind, while dozing in bed the other night.
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Muz

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1809 on: October 02, 2009, 04:56:28 am »

[comparison of cities and biological organisms]

Hmm... that's brilliant. I never saw it that way.
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Starver

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1810 on: October 02, 2009, 05:03:26 am »

Ah, a cheap shot.

Yeah, I may have thought that, on first glance.  I read my own little quip (only intended to be an observation, not in any way an argument against you, or 'shot' of any expense, because I probably agree with you more than you realise) and thought that someone might sieze upon it as an actual attempt at cogent refutation.  Hence the bit that I added that I suppose is along the lines of a "if you're annoying both sides equally, you're doing something right" j/k.

Really, though, it wasn't the point.  It was just (misdirected?) humour.
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Gorjo MacGrymm

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1811 on: October 02, 2009, 01:09:47 pm »

You know, its always the radicals that screw up a message:
( I could have used this as anti _____ material, but really, its just an unhinged person - please note where he says it makes him wanna blow up orphanages (sp?)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2jLMYOSNWlk&feature=dir
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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1812 on: October 14, 2009, 10:48:31 pm »

Now, to get back on track, I go for Agnosticism: the religion of perpetual uncertainty. Basically, Agnostics believe that it is impossible to understand the true nature and origin of the Universe, and as result live smugly in the knowledge that even though they're not right, no one else is. It's surprisingly comforting to live in self-induced ignorance.

 I thought agnosticism was a person who admits that god is something that inherently cannot be proven or disproven, or tested in anyway. Thus, agnosticism is the only true answer to religion; the unanswerable question.
 I think this has been said many times, by anyone who's applied logic to the situation.
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Smitehappy

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1813 on: October 14, 2009, 10:56:56 pm »


 I thought agnosticism was a person who admits that god is something that inherently cannot be proven or disproven, or tested in anyway. Thus, agnosticism is the only true answer to religion; the unanswerable question.
 I think this has been said many times, by anyone who's applied logic to the situation.

Oh my dear sweet possibly non-existant god, why would you possibly bump this thread?!?! It's 121 pages of awful and took forever to die!!
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RAM

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Re: Atheists
« Reply #1814 on: October 15, 2009, 12:02:21 am »

And took forever to resurrect on more than one occasion.

I dispute that gods cannot be known, in order to have a concept of a god you must have some sense of its nature and can discern a great deal about it. So, for example, if someone thinks that a god created the world we exist in then we have a whole world of evidence with which to evaluate the nature of that god.

 For example we can say that the world seems to be self sustaining and doesn't specifically need a god for any of its functions, so the being that created it either doesn't want reasoning people to believe in them, isn't very good at evaluating reason, or doesn't exist.
 Also we know that our environment is prone to some fairly extreme changes, such as stars going nova, and that our civilisation is either doomed, expected to utilise technology and efficiency, as opposed to fantasy and ceremony, will be saved by an entity that shows no evidence of any such inclination, or not the product of any sort of plan at all.
 It isn't actually possible to prove with absolute certainty that anything, yourself included, exists. What we can do is make reliable assumptions, and the assumption that no gods exist is more reliable than that any gods do exist.

 To say that gods cannot be known without a thorough evaluation of the question is simply ignorance...
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