Monday, March 23, 2009

Generalizing Atheists

Interesting letter: Belief has promoted good

Just a couple quick thoughts:

You can't generalize atheists any more than you can generalize the five billion non-Hindus. Or the nearly six billion non-Shintos. Or the few billion non-Christians.

And claiming that a particular religion is somehow "good" or has accomplished good things doesn't make that particular religion true. The Romans accomplished a lot of good (as well as bad) and they worshipped gods that nearly everybody today agrees don't exist. But to say that people who don't believe in those religions have accomplished nothing is an absurd statement. Sphere: Related Content


Hambydammit said...

I wish I could convey to more people that atheism isn't a philosophy or a code of conduct, or even a way of looking at the universe. It's simply the negation of one of the literally hundreds of ways in which one might attempt to make sense of the universe.

To say someone is an atheist in the context of worldview is approximately the same as saying, "Well, Bob makes a living, but he's not an electrician." It hardly tells us anything at all.

Jeffrey Mark said...

That's a good way to put it. It's like asking this: "How would you describe all non-electricians?"

Agnostic Anarch said...

You mean we're not all EBIL BABY EATERZ!?!

That's a relief! I was thinking there might be a baby shortage as more people realized atheism is correct!


sunnyskeptic said...

"Belief has promoted good". Good what? That statement is one of the craziest I've heard in a long time. :)

Lorena said...

And claiming that a particular religion is somehow "good" or has accomplished good things doesn't make that particular religion true.Actually, I can see your point.

For example, most of the beautiful castles, churches, fortress, and such that one sees in Europe were built in the pursuit of something evil.

Or at the very least the "wonders" were built at a very high cost to the poor--be it in high taxes or forced labour. Yet the stuff is beautiful, and we can now enjoy it.

Your point, I think, is that the beauty of, say, the still existing Roman bridges & aqueducts doesn't legitimize the Roman empire. The good stuff they left does not make them into good guys.

Just like the scholarships and medicine that Christians give away overseas do not bring the God of Christianity to life--he still does not exist.

sunnyskeptic said...

Oh, okay, good castles. Yes, They have promoted good castles. :)

mac said...

"The fact that a believer is happier than a skeptic
is no more to the point than the fact that a drunken man is happier than a sober one." - George Bernard Shaw

I like this quote when peolle point out Christians are ha[pier or more productive.

But, you're right. Atheists are a diverse lot with no more in comman than a disbelief in gods. Anything else is just co-incidence.

The_Darkest_Red said...

I agree, it is wrong to generalize people based on what they believe or "lack belief in." Some atheists are generally some of the nicest people you will meet, as well as members of other religions.

I'm still not quite sure I buy into the idea that atheists are completely "ungrouped" in the same way that, for instance, non-Hindus are. No matter how many times I hear "lack of a belief," I still cannot help but maintain the position that atheism is a positive belief system. That is, atheists assert that a god does not exist. If you do not make this assertion then you are, by definition, an agnostic at best. Atheists BELIEVE that there is no god. I would say my pet cat "lacks a belief" in regards to a god, or perhaps a rock. The same cannot be said for atheists, however. It is true that there are many types of atheists (just as there are many sects of any one religion), but I believe that by its definition atheism is a positive belief system. They all share the common belief that a god does not exist. (I should also state that "weak atheism" may as well be agnosticism.)

I don't mean to stir up any controversy (although I'm sure thats exactly what I will do), I just mean to draw attention to a problem I have in general with the idea of atheism. I would be interested in hearing opinions on this issue.

Ben Mordecai said...

It is a worldview issue. Atheists' morality generally falls in line with humanism.

Christian morality centers around God's glory being revealed.

Therefore from a humanistic standpoint, you may be doing good, but from a glory-of-God standpoint it doesn't matter if you are atheist, Hindu, of FSM, you still are rejecting the Son of God.

Karen said...

You're exactly right. Stereotyping atheists is impossible!

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Atheist Homeschool Momma