Ethical Atheist vs believer in God

Discussion in 'Belief and Spirituality' started by Postmaster, Dec 18, 2008.

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  1. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    Ethical Atheists strive for esoteric knowledge and understanding of life and it could be one reason why they reject the popular notion of God! However with a theological system although it could have a narrower view on life, its biggest and most important advantage is can be taught and understood by a wider range of people, thus the positive effect on society is wider and more understood. Also there’s nothing stopping an ethical Atheist from applying there ethics to any current theological system, people with esoteric understanding usually do try apply there knowledge to current theological systems. So I guess the main difference is the inability for an ethical atheist to spread and teach there knowledge to wide range of people. After all an important part of life and living is not just learning but teaching.
     
  2. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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  3. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    What about UU's? Everytime I've stepped foot in a United Universalist Church they seem to have their share of atheists. In their services of run into folks in all faiths (or none) and running from all faiths...questioning belief, discussing ethics etc.
     
  4. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Positive effect!! lol Now that is a point for debate!

    The problem with such thinking is that sweeps up vast numbers of people that inhabit a kind of grey area. I think it a great falsehood to claim that religion can do anything to enhance morality or ethics in the individual. Setting aside the many that call themselves believers yet never think about it nor formally practice it and the fewer that are atheist but have never used the word and do not dwell on ethical, spiritual or philosophical issues, we are left with a much smaller group to which such a question has meaning.

    Here I posit that the goodness found in people who actively try to do good is a part of their innate nature and has nothing to do with any religion save when that person is driven to do so for an ultimately selfish desire of gaining gods favour. To understand what human 'goodness' really is we can do no better than look at the social structure of our closest ape cousins, the Bonobo's, and how social altruism is used in their societies. They do use it in grooming, food sharing, compassion for sick or injured and in play. But every act of empathy is also selfish in that it is a necessitated part of behaviour for acceptance within a group. So social group, a church for example, acts of an altruistic nature are used for cohesion and for status. So in fact there is a double dose of selfish purpose for the religiouslly motivated.

    Now the good atheist that knows he/she is an atheist. Such people are normally pretty intelligent. They read a lot and widely and represent probably less than 1% of the global population. Yet they tend to be people at the leading edge of mans bold adventure into the future. They are the ones making progress happen. Most atheists do not even like to discuss religion, their eyes roll back and conversation is impossible. This is because they are too smart to take the corrupt tomes of even more corrupt religious institutions as any meaningful basis on which to model ones life. The many atheists that marvel and glow inside at buds bursting forth in spring or some new cosmic phenomenon caught on the Hubble telescope are those that love being alive. And a person who believes in being so alive can only be said to love life. This is a tiny percentage though that do not do it for some pseudo-tribal religious paradigm but just because they love life itself. No god required. And such people are often the true Global Villagers, the people with subscriptions to New Internationalist and Amnesty International. The people cataloguing the truth and hopefully pushing mankind incrementally toward a more 'humane' future.

    I do not say that churches cannot be good. On the very local level when they remain small and out of the radar of those that make a lucrative career out of their congregation, then churches can and do do a good job of focusing a community effort of very real value. But churches as a whole are full of superfluous gibberish, internal politics and people that rarely think for themselves. And are usually aligned to massive institutions each claiming with stupifying ridiculousness to represent gods true will.

    Atheists have been around a long time and for most of history, and in many places to this day, have been unable to raise their head above the parapet for fear of decapitation by those that profess it to be gods will to silence heresy. And even those 'believers' that would call themselves moderate or even liberal feel this need to brand atheism a religious heresy and its proponents somehow dangerous. But they do not realise the great gift of being able to see the totality of religion as the sad sham that it is and that the only way forward for mankind is to wake up to that fact. Yet as an atheist I grow ever more pessimistic that our time will bring such a revolution. Religion is spreading fast and being ever more polarised by its various factions. It is still being used as a weapon of power and reasoning for great indignities. Things are not going the way I would hope. But I remain firm it must be one of man.s primary abitions to throw off the yolk(sic) of superfluous primitive superstitions and embrace a love of life for love of lifes sake.


    Also there’s nothing stopping an ethical Atheist from applying there ethics to any current theological system, people with esoteric understanding usually do try apply there knowledge to current theological systems. So I guess the main difference is the inability for an ethical atheist to spread and teach there knowledge to wide range of people. After all an important part of life and living is not just learning but teaching.
    [/quote]
     
  5. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    As a Buddhist and an atheist I have some quibbles with the quote above. I don't want to "teach" anybody anything. The best thing that I can do is learn as much as possible.

    If I learn well and conduct myself accordingly, there is a small chance that during normal social interaction I might inspire someone. But those moments are unpredictable and best accepted as such. The moment I purposely seek to teach somebody is the moment I become a bore.
     
  6. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    How can you learn as much as possible without a teacher? If you want to learn as much as possible it would be an advantage to learn from other peoples knowledge. Do you consider the Buddha a teacher of any kind? I do. Learning and teaching are both equally important to me. And both are infinite. I think the monotheistic religious systems are better structured for teaching. They are more socially dynamic, depending on how you utilize them. Just saying God is a big man on a thrown is a concept that can be easily understood by a child and a philosopher could take 50 years to come a similar conclusion (which has happened).
     
  7. wil

    wil UNeyeR1

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    Who did Buddha learn from? Or rather whose teachings did Buddha reject?
     
  8. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    And someone reading into the same traditions more critically might look instead for the origins of that imagery in what were once contemporary models of authority.
     
  9. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    I consider the Buddha a trail blazer, like Lewis and Clark. I follow the general direction he laid out, but I don't try to match his route footstep for footstep.
     
  10. iBrian

    iBrian Peace, Love and Unity Staff Member

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    The world is a teacher. We can all learn from it howsoever we want.

    However, when we learn from others, unless they are specifically teaching us critical thinking, then all they are teaching us is their opinions. And their opinions can come from listening to others or through observing the world.

    Which takes us back to the first sentence. :)
     
  11. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    Or according to freud God is used subonsiously by adults who have outgrown there parents.
     
  12. Nick_A

    Nick_A Interfaith Forums

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    A good description of cave life. Teachers teach what is considered uselful to adapt of cave life which for us is the "world." However teachers that are able to teach how to leave the restrictions of the cave are very rare.

    The lady presents an interesting observation when considering the value of a "teacher" in matters of ethics and morality as part of the human condition that leads to life in the cave.
     
  13. dauer

    dauer New Member

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    Not quite the same issue as the origin of the image of G!d as a king on a throne, but yes.
     
  14. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    Daddy's armchair? 簡潔さ



    趁熱打鐵
     
  15. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    True. Usually someone will come out with something original and try to sell it in a book. I'm happy to buy it if I learn a thing or 2. The internet has greatly revolutionised the way we learn. Cause now we can constantly put true thought into millions of opinions and constantly evolve and fine tune them in debate much easier and faster. I guess I was trying to point out the universal importance of monotheism. Something middle aged smart men seem to be too fast to forget. I think this will be an age old problem. This only hit me when i started looking into social dynamics which is a really really interesting topic.
     
  16. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    Just to throw in another metaphor...

    Do birds teach their young how to fly, or do they merely provide the impetus to leave the nest. And no matter how much instruction or motivation is given, if the chick has not matured and developed its feathers and strength, the lesson will end in failure.

    Humans like to rush things. We think teachers will take us somewhere we aren't, give us some arcane knowledge that will transform our lives. The only transformation we need is natural, slow maturation. There's no need to rush.

    I plan on writing a book about it.
     
  17. Postmaster

    Postmaster New Member

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    A combination of our genetics, outer enviroment and whole load of other factors play a part on what, when, how we learn and baring in mind nothing tragic happens to us through the whole process. Which seems to me when I think about it, all comes down to pot luck or miraculous how we develope. Another reason I pray to God and practise my virtues.
     
  18. Thomas

    Thomas Well-Known Member

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    That's clearly not the case, as there are moral and ethical systems which can be attributed to the religious paradigms that have provided the inspiration for humanity to reach for the highest ideals. The same exists within humanist models.

    One cannot deny that if an exemplar of humanity at its noblest can claim a religious foundation and motive — then the case is made.

    And the same can be said of purely humanist systems.

    On the other hand, non-religious social structures have carried out the most devastating pogroms in the last century.

    So the fault lies with man, not with his moral and ethical structures, but his inability to live up to them.

    You can't simply dismiss those who dwell on ethical, spiritual and philosophical issues, and find religion meaningful, as irrelevant to anything but a self-serving and one-sided argument.

    And if one views living one's life according to a selfless ideal in accord with the Divine Will, then perhaps such selflessness is not motivated by gain but a sense of freedom, for the sake of one's self and for one's neighbour?

    Yet the animal kingdom also demonstrates a capacity for self-sacrifice?

    Assuming that 'society' is a fiction, a fabrication, and not the manifestation of the many instances of a universal nature acting towards a profound expression of that nature by the evident harmony in all its parts — nowhere in any species can be found, naturally, a species acting collectively for any other than purely selfish reasons. Nowhere, anywhere, is there the demonstrable notion in any 'collective' of the advancement and enhancement of the collective for the mutual benefit of all engaged?

    The same can be said of the good believer — except for the percentage. That bit's relative.

    I, er, tend to regard that as a subjective and somewhat assumptive sampling.

    Nicholas Cusanus (1401-1464) was regarded as a genius by Keppler, Galileo and Copernicus. He posited the mathematical infinite, suggested the earth was not the centre of the universe, and is regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of his age and a profound influence on politics, science, philosophy (Leibnitz, Kant ...) and religion ... he was also a cardinal. I reckon I could drag up someone of equal stature from any and every age. He proposed the concept of the infinitesimal and of relative motion. He was the first to use concave lenses to correct myopia. His writings were essential for Leibniz's discovery of calculus as well as Cantor's later work on infinity. He laid the foundation for accepting elliptical orbits before they were proved.

    I think many in the world would say the wisdom contained in the primary texts of the great religious traditions stand equal to any philosophical treatise.

    Any you think the believer suffers no such joie de vivre?

    What about the person who believes life has a purpose and is not the product of chance — do they not love the idea of life itself?

    So we're limiting the Global Village to the profile of a subscriber of NI and AI?

    You seem to be saying that society as such is a bad thing.

    The same criticism can be laid at any institution's door.

    May I point out that my particular primitive superstition suggests I do just that? Indeed, that 'there' — in the love of it — is where real life is?

    And one bloke with a fair degree of esoteric understanding who applies his ethics to an athiest philosophical system — Benedict XVI's critique of contemporary philosophical relativism in the West is a matter of record. I would suggest the Dalai Lama also has some interesting contributions. And the Chief Rabbi. I know the Archbishop of Canterbury has put more than a few noses out of joint.

    If, as you suggest, the love of life directed towards another is intrinsically selfish and morally bankrupt — that altruism applied beyond the self is a sham, then I suggest the paradigm you offer is not very inviting.

    Thomas
     
  19. citizenzen

    citizenzen Custom User Title

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    Or me, practicing meditation, mindfulness and the 8-fold path.

    So long as we're evolving I won't quibble about methods.
     
  20. Tao_Equus

    Tao_Equus Interfaith Forums

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    We live in a time of unparalleled originality......95% of it by atheists. Religions try to tie us in a very real bondage to ancient dogmas that lead us to a deep seated acceptance of religious stereotypes of ultimate benefactor/judger mindset. An easy sell since it is the norm in every family since before we were humans Religions, as institutions, are really no more than businesses built on that, that have the privilege of tax exemption. All the 'personal' faith I see is down to this factor and starkly Freudian biological motivations. It seems I have completed my transition from the limitlessness of Jungian possibility to the cool alloy of atheist alchemy that really works. Base biology really. Religion is a comfort zone where people retreat to handle the pressure of life. The harder the life, the more you need that retreat. In a sense my atheism is the product of affluence. But since it is the atheist scientists that really float my boat, and they made my affluence possible, I make no apology. (Even if I am acutely aware that my affluence has a hugely negative impact on people around the world that in effect subsidise that affluence :( ) The Ancient Greek thinkers maybe borrowed from Vedic, Chinese or a hitherto unknown philosophy, and that knowledge was lost and found a couple of times before it was allowed to burn at full brightness..... Our great grandfathers rediscovered it and made it blossom. An Industrial revolution, followed by a technological one in close succession. Perhaps we will yet again take a break, maybe even descend into dogma inspired megadeath. But what has been established is a seed of truth so profound that it must have its day. Maybe it will lay in storage for 1000 years but it will one day be picked up and will with sheer logic blast our old superstitions to dust once and for all. And with it all the economic 'big boss' businesses that use the same modus. I can but dream.

    趁熱打鐵
     
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