questions for atheist parents... - Page 3 - Mothering Forums

Forum Jump: 
Reply
 
Thread Tools
#61 of 76 Old 04-23-2009, 08:44 PM
 
shantimama's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 10,905
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 14 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by caitlinlea View Post

Which brings me to the discussion that has evolved out of my original post: respecting people's beliefs that differ from our own. I don't claim to have all the answers on this one - I struggle with this a lot to be completely honest. It has been interesting, and very illuminating, to read everyone's thoughts on this and I'm really appreciative to everyone who has responded. I do think that every person is worthy of respect and should be treated with respect.....every person. To me, that is very different from everyone's beliefs being worthy of respect.

When people's beliefs consist of bigotry, inflicting physical and emotional pain on others, or discrimination that results in impinging on rights to equal treatment and privileges, I withhold my respect for those beliefs. For example, some of the laws that have been passed against women in Afghanistan recently. Or proposition 8 that passed in California last November. Or genital mutilation. Or turning young children into soldiers to fight in wars they are not capable of understanding. And many other examples already listed in this thread by others. I don't respect the beliefs that led to these tragedies, but that is different from saying that I don't, or wouldn't, treat these people with respect.
shantimama is offline  
#62 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 08:28 AM
 
Jessy1019's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Flemington, NJ
Posts: 3,222
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shantimama View Post
Will you be okay with people who hold religious beliefs to say the same thing about you and your daughter?
Actually, that's exactly what I would expect them to do. Why have an opinion or a belief if you don't think it's the right or best one?

Everything that I believe, I believe because I think I'm right. It's pretty much a given that people who have opposite beliefs will think I'm wrong, and that doesn't bother me in the slightest. Again, I have MY beliefs because I am confident they are the right ones.

Proud Anti-Adoption, Atheist, Reproductive-Freedom Fighter Mama
Rylie is 7, Ronin is 3.5
Jessy1019 is offline  
#63 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 10:20 AM
 
doubledutch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 4,531
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
we can believe what we believe without the assumption that all other beliefs are wrong. even if we do believe someone else is flat-out wrong, wrong does not equal ignorant. i believe differently from pretty much everyone i know irl (not that they all agree with each other, either, just that nobody necessarily agrees with me!). i don't think, "oh, they must believe that because they haven't figured everything out, like i have." i think, "hmm. i just can't see things that way." my dear ones are wise, intelligent and thoughtful people who have come to different conclusions than i have.
doubledutch is offline  
#64 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 11:34 AM
 
Theoretica's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Inside my head (it's quiet here!)
Posts: 3,663
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Hmmmm. I think there are a couple issues here. One is, people adhere to their beliefs becuase, by default, they believe their beliefs are the most correct or right for them. Logic leads the rest of that thought to be that beliefs outside of that are incorrect or not right or...dare I say...wrong.

Now, believing your beliefs are right and others are wrong does NOT mean you believe others are BAD or IGNORANT.

I, personally, have a whole set of reasons I believe there is no god (to oversimplify my beliefs entirely) and when I see people who believe otherwise, clearly I don't agree with their conclusion. I think they are wrong. I do NOT think they are bad or ignorant.

By the same token, when I was in about second grade I remember getting into a debate with another kid about multiplying negatives (yeahhh I was a bit geeky). The other kid was ADAMANT that you couldn't do such a thing because if it's already a negative/less than zero, then how can you have 'many sets' of 'less than zero'. I *knew* you could multiply negative numbers. It's a fact. But the other kid just hadn't gotten to that point yet. He was wrong. I was right. It doesn't make him an idiot, or bad, or ignorant. In fact, he was in the same program I was in for highly gifted kids, which clearly means he's 'got what it takes' to comprehend higher level math at some point. He just hadn't gotten there yet.

Now, if I had made fun of him or called him stupid (which, being in second grade, is entirely possible LOL) that would be inappropriate. So to translate that to religious beliefs, it's not ok to make fun of or insult people who believe differently. But there can only be one answer. There either is god, or their isnt. So either the people who don't believe in god are wrong, or the people who do believe in god are wrong. It can't work both ways.

I'm going to pick on HennyPenny for a sec because I know she'll take it the right way ( ya HP!) and understand the point I'm illustrating without taking it personally. I consider HennyPenny to be an extremely intelligent, compassionate, well read person, and I've learned a lot from her. We can agree with each other probably 90% of the time on MDC, and she's one of a short list of online folk I'd love to hang out with sometime. However...she believes deeply that there is a god. I don't. She disagrees with me. I disagree with her. We've even had some pretty deep debates about it. I do NOT think she's ignorant (far from it), and I'd wager to say she feels the same about me. But one of us is wrong (not bad, stupid, idiotic, or anything else, just incorrect). I don't think it's me, she doesn't think it's her. But by default, someone is. When we're discussing the validity of atheism vs. theism there can only be one correct answer. I'm not saying we can prove either belief without doubt, but suffice it to say each camp believes they are right and can 'back up' their claims.

Just because we're talking religious concepts instead of math concepts means it's a more emotionally loaded issue, not that it negates the use of logical process.

GOOD moms let their kids lick the beaters. GREAT moms turn off the mixer first!
Humanist Woman Wife , & Friend Plus Mama to 6 (3 mos, 2, 9, 13, 17, 20)
Theoretica is offline  
#65 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 12:27 PM
 
doubledutch's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 4,531
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
i guess the belief that there is no god doesn't allow for the belief that there is a god to be correct as well.

my belief that there is *something* allows for many other people to be "right" or at least "not wrong". my concept of god is not a "guy in the sky" but i'm cool with other people seeing it that way, and my personal conclusion that "god" is an unknowable, indefineable mystery doesn't require another way of seeing things to be wrong - just someone else's understanding and not mine.

just like people who believe there is a lifeforce energy, who cannot stomach the idea of calling that god and believe there is no god. i don't have to say, "oh that's wrong because i call it god and you don't." for me, even though someone else can't call it god, and i do, that doesn't mean we're not talking about the same thing.

now if somebody wants to say there is totally, completely, nothing beyond the physical realm . . . okay. i guess i can't say "we can both be right," but i would still never try to make that person agree with me. that's where they're at. it's not where i am. so what? clearly there are many areas in life with correct and incorrect answers, but for me this falls more into the "what do you see when you look at this painting? what do you feel when you listen to this music?" department. not opinion, exactly . . . more like, "how do you experience and interpret this?" and whether your take on the sum of all things is that there is absolutely no god or that everything is god, that is true for you.

i'm going to go roll around in a pile of rainbows and butterflies.
doubledutch is offline  
#66 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 12:35 PM
2xy
 
2xy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 3,056
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
I *knew* you could multiply negative numbers. It's a fact. But the other kid just hadn't gotten to that point yet. He was wrong. I was right. It doesn't make him an idiot, or bad, or ignorant. In fact, he was in the same program I was in for highly gifted kids, which clearly means he's 'got what it takes' to comprehend higher level math at some point. He just hadn't gotten there yet.

Now, if I had made fun of him or called him stupid (which, being in second grade, is entirely possible LOL) that would be inappropriate. So to translate that to religious beliefs, it's not ok to make fun of or insult people who believe differently. But there can only be one answer. There either is god, or their isnt. So either the people who don't believe in god are wrong, or the people who do believe in god are wrong. It can't work both ways.
In the math scenario, the boy was ignorant. "Ignorant" is not a bad word. It just means lacking in knowledge or understanding. It's not the same thing as "stupid."

The difference between the math scenario and the god scenario is that math is logical, has rules, and answers are obtainable. It's not possible to know whether gods exist; that's why religions are based on belief and faith. We don't need faith to determine that 2 + 2 = 4.
2xy is offline  
#67 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 01:31 PM
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,094
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
To me, the issue of how one treats people with whom one disagree reflects more on oneself than on the other. Of course there will always be people with whom you disagree. The question is, what kind of person are you? Kindness has nothing to do with respect; you can be kind even to those whose beliefs you do not respect. If you are not, then you are not by definition a kind person. You are a conditionally kind person.
Thao is offline  
#68 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 03:31 PM
 
Theoretica's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Inside my head (it's quiet here!)
Posts: 3,663
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post
In the math scenario, the boy was ignorant. "Ignorant" is not a bad word. It just means lacking in knowledge or understanding. It's not the same thing as "stupid."

The difference between the math scenario and the god scenario is that math is logical, has rules, and answers are obtainable. It's not possible to know whether gods exist; that's why religions are based on belief and faith. We don't need faith to determine that 2 + 2 = 4.
True, but you do need some level of faith to understand some higher levels of math and science. We can quantify 2 + 2 = 4 with some marshmallows. But you can't do the same with multiplication of negative numbers. Or division of quadratic equations. Not in the same sense at least.

And, regarding the term ignorant, I think there are a lot of people who have studied both theism and atheism and are well informed and still choose to believe or not believe. At the same time, some people believe (or not) by default, without exploring why, and THAT is ignorant. But people who have sought out knowledge and understanding and come to believe there is or isn't a god aren't ignorant. They just disagree. And again, they both can't be right. One of the beliefs is wrong.

GOOD moms let their kids lick the beaters. GREAT moms turn off the mixer first!
Humanist Woman Wife , & Friend Plus Mama to 6 (3 mos, 2, 9, 13, 17, 20)
Theoretica is offline  
#69 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 03:32 PM
 
Bluegoat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Nova Scotia
Posts: 2,569
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by 2xy View Post
In the math scenario, the boy was ignorant. "Ignorant" is not a bad word. It just means lacking in knowledge or understanding. It's not the same thing as "stupid."

The difference between the math scenario and the god scenario is that math is logical, has rules, and answers are obtainable. It's not possible to know whether gods exist; that's why religions are based on belief and faith. We don't need faith to determine that 2 + 2 = 4.
You know, belief or disbelief in a god has not, traditionally, been considered as a matter that requires faith. Within philosophy, it is discussed as a matter of metaphysics. Some people are not interested in metaphysics and do believe as a matter of faith, but even then it is usually not in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Real statements of faith include the belief that the universe is a rational place, or reality is not a dream conceived by the mind, the parts of the universe we can't see are working on the same principles as those that we can observe, or the laws of nature will continue to work as they always have. Not only is it impossible to prove these things, we have to believe them to do things like mathematics, metaphysics, or science.

Even within the boundaries of those basic assumptions about reality, there are limits. We don't, for example, actually have proof of the age of the Earth, only evidence. The philosophy of science tells us that we can never actually prove a scientific theory, which is why they are described as weak or strong.

Most religions do have some parts that are articles of faith, such as belief in a certian historical event, or a psychological observation. And sometimes people deride these beliefs because they cannot be proven like scientific theories. But often there is less difference between the nature of a belief in a scientific theory, or a historical theory, or a psychological theory than people suppose.

 I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.
Bluegoat is offline  
#70 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 03:36 PM
 
Theoretica's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Inside my head (it's quiet here!)
Posts: 3,663
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by doubledutch View Post
i guess the belief that there is no god doesn't allow for the belief that there is a god to be correct as well.
Exactly. And the belief that there IS a god doesn't allow for the belief that there is NOT a god to be correct either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by doubledutch View Post
my belief that there is *something* allows for many other people to be "right" or at least "not wrong". my concept of god is not a "guy in the sky" but i'm cool with other people seeing it that way, and my personal conclusion that "god" is an unknowable, indefineable mystery doesn't require another way of seeing things to be wrong - just someone else's understanding and not mine.

just like people who believe there is a lifeforce energy, who cannot stomach the idea of calling that god and believe there is no god. i don't have to say, "oh that's wrong because i call it god and you don't." for me, even though someone else can't call it god, and i do, that doesn't mean we're not talking about the same thing.

now if somebody wants to say there is totally, completely, nothing beyond the physical realm . . . okay. i guess i can't say "we can both be right," but i would still never try to make that person agree with me. that's where they're at. it's not where i am. so what? clearly there are many areas in life with correct and incorrect answers, but for me this falls more into the "what do you see when you look at this painting? what do you feel when you listen to this music?" department. not opinion, exactly . . . more like, "how do you experience and interpret this?" and whether your take on the sum of all things is that there is absolutely no god or that everything is god, that is true for you.
Right. But that's closer to agnosticism, definitely not atheism. Atheism is the belief that there is no god. Period. Theism (encompassing any religion on the planet) is the belief that there is at least one god/untouchable something or other on some level and in some form. As far as convincing others of the same belief, I've never met an evangelical atheist who seeks out believers to convert them to the dark side with cookies

Quote:
Originally Posted by doubledutch View Post
i'm going to go roll around in a pile of rainbows and butterflies.
Now THAT I can believe : :

GOOD moms let their kids lick the beaters. GREAT moms turn off the mixer first!
Humanist Woman Wife , & Friend Plus Mama to 6 (3 mos, 2, 9, 13, 17, 20)
Theoretica is offline  
#71 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 03:51 PM
 
Bluegoat's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Nova Scotia
Posts: 2,569
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
As far as convincing others of the same belief, I've never met an evangelical atheist who seeks out believers to convert them to the dark side with cookies
I don't know about the cookies, but there seem to be a lot of people pushing atheism lately. I think of Richard Dawkins, though he is perhaps a bad example - I was so embarrassed reading his book I couldn't finish it. And there are those signs that people were putting on buses.

I wonder if the atheism movement would do better with cookies - maybe like the Girl Guides?

 I like the mind to be a dustbin of scraps of brilliant fabric, odd gems, worthless but fascinating curiosities, tinsel, quaint bits of carving, and a reasonable amount of healthy dirt.
Bluegoat is offline  
#72 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 04:40 PM
 
EFmom's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 7,802
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
I don't know about the cookies, but there seem to be a lot of people pushing atheism lately. I think of Richard Dawkins, though he is perhaps a bad example - I was so embarrassed reading his book I couldn't finish it. And there are those signs that people were putting on buses.

I wonder if the atheism movement would do better with cookies - maybe like the Girl Guides?
I don't see a lot of evangelical atheists. I see that atheists are slightly less inhibited about acknowledging their beliefs publicly. Even then, that's dwarfed by the number of people pushing Christianity. I've never had anybody knock on my door to get me to take the atheist discussions.
EFmom is offline  
#73 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 04:47 PM
 
Thao's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Washington state
Posts: 2,094
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
I wouldn't characterize those things as evangelism, Bluegoat. Dawkins writes books plugging a certain view of philosophy; so do/did CS Lewis, Thomas Merton and the Dalai Llama but I wouldn't call them evangelistic or "pushing" their views. You can avoid the books in a way you can't avoid a street corner preacher or a person knocking on your door to witness. (I agree with you about Dawkins, though, and I've never even read his books! I don't like his blatant disrespect of religion.)

As for the signs on the buses in Britain, I heard an interview with the woman who headed up the organization that did those. The purpose wasn't to convert anyone, just to get atheism more visible in the public sphere so that people who are atheists don't feel like they have to hide that fact. If I recall correctly, the message wasn't "you should be an atheist" but rather "its okay to be an atheist". Personally, I think that's a good thing. Secularism may be very visible in our society, but not atheism.
Thao is offline  
#74 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 05:25 PM - Thread Starter
 
caitlinlea's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Boulder, CO
Posts: 97
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
We don't, for example, actually have proof of the age of the Earth, only evidence. The philosophy of science tells us that we can never actually prove a scientific theory, which is why they are described as weak or strong.
You are right about this, and I stand corrected. I should have written "evidence abounds" rather than "proof abounds." The point I was trying to make is that science can make a very strong case for certain theories based on concrete evidence; I don't believe religion has made a strong case, or much of a case at all, for the existence of god(s) or that the earth is less than 6000 years old. The evidence that is put forth is tenuous and tends to rely more on conjecture vs. solid evidence.

George W. Bush (when he was vice-president) said the following: "I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God." This is an example of the prejudice and lack of understanding towards atheists. People are often shocked by the news that someone they are talking to is an atheist, sometimes wary. If, when asked, I responded I was a Christian, I'm sure the reaction would be different. So I agree that being an atheist, and being open about it, is challenging. I have never seen atheists evangelizing but I've frequently had Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses and Catholics come to my front door. I always treat them with respect and actually I had a great conversation with a couple of Mormon elders a few years back and really enjoyed talking with them and they were very respectful of my views.

I believe there are some issues that don't have one right answer, or allow for multiple acceptable answers; certain ethical dilemmas jump to mind. The presence of god is not one of those issues though - like Theoretica wrote, either there is a god or there isn't. Simple.
caitlinlea is offline  
#75 of 76 Old 04-24-2009, 05:26 PM
 
Theoretica's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: Inside my head (it's quiet here!)
Posts: 3,663
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
I don't know about the cookies, but there seem to be a lot of people pushing atheism lately. I think of Richard Dawkins, though he is perhaps a bad example - I was so embarrassed reading his book I couldn't finish it. And there are those signs that people were putting on buses.
Why is that?

GOOD moms let their kids lick the beaters. GREAT moms turn off the mixer first!
Humanist Woman Wife , & Friend Plus Mama to 6 (3 mos, 2, 9, 13, 17, 20)
Theoretica is offline  
#76 of 76 Old 04-25-2009, 10:15 AM
2xy
 
2xy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Posts: 3,056
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Quote:
Originally Posted by Theoretica View Post
But people who have sought out knowledge and understanding and come to believe there is or isn't a god aren't ignorant. They just disagree. And again, they both can't be right. One of the beliefs is wrong.
If we acknowledge that the matter of god is one that exists only between a person's ears, then I think both can be right.

However, I think one would have to be of a non-theist mindset to acknowledge such a thing to begin with.
2xy is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Drag and Drop File Upload
Drag files here to attach!
Upload Progress: 0
Options

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mothering Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.
User Name:
If you do not want to register, fill this field only and the name will be used as user name for your post.
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.
Password:
Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.
Email Address:

Log-in

Human Verification

In order to verify that you are a human and not a spam bot, please enter the answer into the following box below based on the instructions contained in the graphic.



User Tag List

Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page


Forum Jump: 

Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are Off