Humanist Hope said 2 years, 10 months ago:

(@rainhelpstheflowersgrow)

The discussion of whether or not morality precedes religion (a claim supported by deceased atheist debater and famous contrarian Christopher Hitchens) is honestly an “a priori” argument, meaning that it is an argument based on the ability to reason to a conclusion as opposed to using evidence to come to a conclusion which is positively indicated.

That being said, it is true that religion falls neatly hand-in-hand with the very oldest forms of written language and culture. Current arguments include the notion that religion could be responsible for the advent of agriculture, since people could potentially have come together in mutual reverence of animals they revered as being greater than themselves. (Animalism is regarded as the oldest form of worship, and is indicated at the oldest human place of worship, known as Gobekli Tepe, which dates to 9,500 BCE) However, the argument also exists that morality must have preceded even proto-religion, because it can be reasoned that people had to develop morals in order to find people with similar morals with whom they could form communities based on ideology.

They are compelling arguments in either direction. I am inclined to believe the latter, but I am open to evidence to the contrary.

Silent Radiance said 2 years, 10 months ago:

@rainhelpstheflowersgrow
Good topic :) . I don’t see how religion can definitively precede morality (I know you took this as an assumption but I’d like to touch on it), they’re different things. Whether it’s avoiding pain, protecting your children (which has to be done in order to ensure survival), or making any sort of decision, you absolutely need morality. Religion, on the other hand, isn’t necessary. You don’t NEED to believe in something beyond, but I don’t see how you can live any life without at least a basic groundwork of what to do and what not to do.

I don’t know if we can definitively point to one time in human history that led to a semblance of complex morality. Instinct has always been (and still is) within us, I don’t know if morality ever does outweigh instinct. The word instinct seems to imply a lack of agency, like it’s ingrained into us. Morality could be the ‘tree’ that grew out of the ‘seed’ of instinct, but whether it ever overrides it, I don’t think so.

As @blackholehead said, any arguments I make about this will be “a priori” since I’ll be using reason in the place of any true evidence. That’s a common problem with these sorts of debates, unfortunately :P .

Silent Radiance said 2 years, 10 months ago:

@blackholehead

Part of your definition for atheism seems to coincide with that of agnosticism. A quick Google search (and just the knowledge I’ve been raised with) shows me that atheism (Greek root meaning ‘without god’) is the lack of belief in gods. Agnosticism (Greek root meaning ‘without knowledge’ or ‘unknown’) is moreso the unwillingness to concede to God (or no God) without evidence.

I wouldn’t say that we know nothing at all because clearly we are familiar with the world around us. The issue being that the world may be much more insignificant than we realize. In regards to solipsism, I also don’t see how anyone can truly claim that nothing around them exists. Of course it exists, it’s (at least in some shape or form) something. Even if it’s just an idea. What can you truly think of that doesn’t exist? Dragons, fairies, leprachauns, they all exist, just not in definitively biological forms (to our knowledge).

Silent Radiance said 2 years, 10 months ago:

One thing that I think is worth a mention is randomness. I can’t wrap my head around true randomness, because it isn’t something we’ve ever faced before. Nothing about our world is actually random, when you flip a coin the universe doesn’t flip its own coin to figure out which side it’ll land on. Whether the coin lands on heads or tails after you flip it is already set by the conditions of your initial motion.

Any time something happens to you in life that you call random, it wasn’t random. It didn’t come out of thin air. Something preceded it. Therefore, is randomness a manmade concept that’s exempt from the universe around us? That would mean that the universe just is, and the position of gathering knowledge (inherently being limited in some way), would bring about randomness since limited knowledge inherently contains ignorance.

Humanist Hope said 2 years, 10 months ago:

(@silent-radiance)

Concerning your statement about randomness, randomness is difficult for our brains to process because frankly speaking we are just not wired that efficiently to understand randomness, it just kind of goes over our heads.

In so far as your comment about flipping a coin is concerned, a coin flips’ actual result isn’t determined the moment it is flipped, it can be acted upon by different forces while the coin is still in the air and even after the coin hits the ground and continues to spin until its momentum inevitably stops.

When it comes to thinking rationally and scientific thinking, indeed when it comes to being honest, the true difficulty lies in learning to adopt the ability to simply state “I don’t know”.

About my definition of atheism crossing over with the definition of agnosticism, you are correct that there is some overlap but it is partially because agnostics are atheists, given that even in their state of uncertainty, they still lack that belief; they are still “without a theism”.

Silent Radiance said 2 years, 10 months ago:

@blackholehead

Regarding the coin flip, my point isn’t that a force cannot act on the coin before it lands on the ground, my point is that whatever force may act on it will not just appear out of random. The presence of such a force that may potentially act on the coin would factor into the “initial” conditions, because something must exist leading to such an interaction in order to determine the coin’s resultant trajectory. If, in fact, a force were to appear from chance, then it seems like you’d be flipping another to coin to determine the trajectory of the flipped coin. I’m arguing the potential that randomness just doesn’t exist, at all, and is solely illusion.

Personally, I still don’t follow through with that definition grouping agnostics and atheists because they’re simply separate sides of an argument. You are either for the existence of God, against it, or neither. Atheism, by my understanding of your words, is both the “against it” and “neither”, but the “neither” stance doesn’t mean “without a theism” at all. Agnostics don’t lack belief in a God. They believe in the possibility of a God and the possibility of no God. Agnostics aren’t unsure atheists considering Theism. Wouldn’t you be able to say the same for a Theist who is uncertain and considering Atheism? Because that would seem to fit your concept of Agnostic too.

Humanist Hope said 2 years, 10 months ago:

(@silent-radiance)

An agnostic does not necessarily “believe” both options by being undecided. Atheism is not the positive rejection of gods, it is not the belief that no gods exist, though there are atheists who hold that stance, it is not definitive criteria.

Atheist-agnostic is not equal to theist-agnostic, though they are similar.

Silent Radiance said 2 years, 10 months ago:

@blackholehead

I didn’t say they believed both options, I said they believed in the possibility of either option being true. If they believed that there was no possibility of one of the sides being true then wouldn’t they effectively be part of the opposite side? If you think that the existence of a God cannot be proven, then surely it also cannot be disproved so both may be possible.

Atheism literally means “without a god” or “godless”, wouldn’t that imply the lack of God’s existence? What aspect of atheism falls beyond those bounds?

Humanist Hope said 2 years, 10 months ago:

@silent-radiance

You are correct in your definition of atheism but it is your interpretation of the same that differs.

As I said before, there are atheists who make the positive assertion that no gods exist, however it is not the default position of the atheist that gods do not exist, but rather the lack of a belief in said gods. While an atheist is free to make the leap to the assumption that gods do not exist, meaning that there can be an agnostic atheist, this is not the sole, defining criteria of atheism. For example, a gnostic atheist is one who makes the positive assertion that no gods exist and that they know it, where as the agnostic atheist simply says they do not know if gods exist, however both of them are still without a positive belief in a god, therefore they are both atheists.

If a person does not believe in a god, then they are an atheist.

Silent Radiance said 2 years, 10 months ago:

@blackholehead
I understand what you’re getting at, I always assumed atheism to be the more drastic measure of no God (my interpretation of not believing in a God). Perhaps because, while reading into the differing perspectives, the two main points of views differ so greatly that I made that assumption. It’s interesting how I’ve lived my entire life understanding something in a way which has served me 100% well so far, and still find myself wrong (or at least misconceived). Thanks for the explanation :) .

Humanist Hope said 2 years, 10 months ago:

(@silent-radiance)

You’re very welcome. :-)

If you should ever have anymore questions, feel free to ask. While I do not claim to be the most educated atheist walking about, I do make the willful effort to educate myself about matters on both sides of church and state, and to put a finer point on it, I make the similar effort to do so in as unbiased a manner as I am able, and I always appreciate when someone lends a critical ear and lets me know if I have not been unbiased.