Author Topic: Are we born atheists?  (Read 877 times)

Bluenose

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #15 on: August 12, 2018, 04:13:25 AM »
As far as I am concerned the word atheist means without belief in a god or gods. There is no implication in that lack of belief that there is knowledge of any alleged gods.  Whether a person knows that some gods have been posited or not is only a relevant question if that person believes in one or more.  A person who has never heard of any gods (for example a baby) is nevertheless and necessarily without belief in any, thus an atheist.
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hermes2015

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #16 on: August 12, 2018, 05:16:16 AM »
A person who has never heard of any gods (for example a baby) is nevertheless and necessarily without belief in any, thus an atheist.

I agree. Furthermore, the baby cannot not see him- or herself as an atheist, but we, as the baby's observers, describe him or her as an atheist.

Recusant

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #17 on: August 12, 2018, 11:19:14 AM »
As far as I am concerned the word atheist means without belief in a god or gods. There is no implication in that lack of belief that there is knowledge of any alleged gods.  Whether a person knows that some gods have been posited or not is only a relevant question if that person believes in one or more.  A person who has never heard of any gods (for example a baby) is nevertheless and necessarily without belief in any, thus an atheist.

So, are cockroaches and amoebas atheist? A religious person can tell a baby about their god, so the baby would have heard about the god. However the baby is incapable of comprehending the concept of gods, just as a cockroach and an amoeba.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 11:42:12 AM by Recusant »
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Dave

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #18 on: August 12, 2018, 11:35:21 AM »
As far as I am concerned the word atheist means without belief in a god or gods. There is no implication in that lack of belief that there is knowledge of any alleged gods.  Whether a person knows that some gods have been posited or not is only a relevant question if that person believes in one or more.  A person who has never heard of any gods (for example a baby) is nevertheless and necessarily without belief in any, thus an atheist.

So, are cockroaches and amoebas atheist? A religious person can tell a baby about their god, so the baby would have heard about the god, but is incapable of comprehending the concept of gods, just as a cockroach and an amoeba.

A very good point!
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Bluenose

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #19 on: August 12, 2018, 12:38:01 PM »
Well, show me a theist cockroach.  All cockroaches, and amoebas, to be fair, are by definition atheists.  That they are incapable of being theists is beside the point of their lacking belief.  Saying that a being has to be capable of understanding what a god is supposed to be in order to reject the concept is simply playing the game of those theists that claim atheism is a religion.  It is no more than a lack of belief, end of story.  To be an atheist does not require a rejection of the god principle, just because most of us started out being indoctrinated into one religion or another (Roman Catholicism in my case).  Babies (at least newborn ones), cockroaches and amoebas all are incapable of belief in gods, so they are therefore atheist.  I haver a colleague who was never introduced to the idea of a god or gods, other than an idea that is is an antiquated belief (think Zeus, etc).  On several occasions I have had to explain one or another of the xtian belief so that he couols understand something in the context of some discussion or other, because he was not brought up in that tradition.  When he eventually was introduced to the concept of a god he THEN rejected the idea as arrant nonsense, but he was an atheist before that point, not just after.
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Dave

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #20 on: August 12, 2018, 01:15:56 PM »
Atheist by fact of possesing no concept of deity (regardless of species) or atheist by choosing refuse to accept that concept, either becsuse it mskes no sense or from "rebellion"? This label makes less sense the more I read.

WE NEED ANOTHER LABEL!

 :grin:
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Bluenose

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2018, 01:48:17 PM »
Actually Dave, I look forward to the day when we don't need the label at all.  When religion eventually dies out (although I seriously doubt it will be in my lifetime) there will be no need to have a label.  Until that time those who don't believe in any of the thousands of gods that have been proposed will remain atheist.  After that time we will still be atheist, but the distinction won't matter any more.
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+++ Divide by cucumber error: please reinstall universe and reboot.  +++

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Dave

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #22 on: August 12, 2018, 01:58:13 PM »
Actually Dave, I look forward to the day when we don't need the label at all.  When religion eventually dies out (although I seriously doubt it will be in my lifetime) there will be no need to have a label.  Until that time those who don't believe in any of the thousands of gods that have been proposed will remain atheist.  After that time we will still be atheist, but the distinction won't matter any more.

Bring on that day!

Oh, providing, as in the other thread, a suitable, recognised, ethical system is in place.
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Recusant

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #23 on: August 12, 2018, 04:11:06 PM »
Well, show me a theist cockroach.  All cockroaches, and amoebas, to be fair, are by definition atheists.  That they are incapable of being theists is beside the point of their lacking belief.

As I understand it, atheism is a position taken on the question of the existence of deities. An atheist does not believe that deities exist. You're describing the absence of any position and claiming that absence represents a position. Just as there are no theist cockroaches (nor atheist for that matter) there are no theist babies. The expansive claim that entities incapable of comprehending the concept of gods are atheists renders the term meaningless in my opinion.

So let me understand your thoughts on this. Do you stop with amoebas? Or do you also think that trees and rocks (which certainly lack a belief in deities) are atheist as well?

Saying that a being has to be capable of understanding what a god is supposed to be in order to reject the concept is simply playing the game of those theists that claim atheism is a religion.

I don't understand the link here. How is it "playing the game of theists who claim atheism is a religion" to support the idea that before a relation of any sort to a posited entity can be recognized, one must at least be aware of the supposed existence of that entity?

Anyway I don't care what theists claim--I care about whether the concept has a useful meaning. "All babies are atheists" to me is nonsensical, just as "All amoebas are atheists" is; a slogan rather than a useful description of reality.

It is no more than a lack of belief, end of story.  To be an atheist does not require a rejection of the god principle, just because most of us started out being indoctrinated into one religion or another (Roman Catholicism in my case).  Babies (at least newborn ones), cockroaches and amoebas all are incapable of belief in gods, so they are therefore atheist.  I haver a colleague who was never introduced to the idea of a god or gods, other than an idea that is is an antiquated belief (think Zeus, etc).  On several occasions I have had to explain one or another of the xtian belief so that he couols understand something in the context of some discussion or other, because he was not brought up in that tradition.  When he eventually was introduced to the concept of a god he THEN rejected the idea as arrant nonsense, but he was an atheist before that point, not just after.

I agree that before you explained Christian doctrines to your colleague, he was atheist. He was aware of the concept of gods, and did not believe in them. Your explanations only made him a more informed atheist.
« Last Edit: August 12, 2018, 06:15:22 PM by Recusant »
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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #24 on: August 12, 2018, 09:19:34 PM »
I am of the opinion that we are born as a 'clean sheet' neither theist or atheist. To be an atheist one has to be aware of the concept of theism and then to reject it.

I am going to challenge that, Tank.   :grin:

Does one need to have knowledge of something and then conciously reject it to be "without" it? Is not the person that has no knowledge of even the concept of god not also "without god"? Does the newborn baby have any such concept?

This is the old trouble with the label, it inherently assumes the possible existence of a god to be able to reject it. "Realist" might be better label, a newborn is hardly that!

But babies are not born theistic either.

Yes, true!

I can see where I found dispute but cannot seem to express it clearly - that problem revolves (for ne) with the very word "atheist".  I will meditate on it whilst I have lunch. No guarantee of resolution is implied!

We are suffering from the inadequacy of language. Wittgenstein would be proud.

Yes. :lol:

Reminds me of 'amoral' and 'immoral'. If morality is a human construct then nature, for instance, is amoral, whereas someone who lies and steals is immoral. Can such a distinction be made with the concept of atheism?

If only humans are capable of comprehending the notion of gods then there really is no point in bringing cockroaches, amoebas or any other nonhuman animal into the discussion, IMO. They wouldn't technically be atheists if such a word only describes humans. Maybe another word is needed for such critters.  :notsure: 

Or a broad definition of 'atheism'... but I tend to agree with Recusant above, it would lose specificity and usefulness in meaning. A tree is atheist, rocks are atheist, the Pacific is atheist...it just becomes weird.

An infant is incapable of comprehending that there exists the concept of gods or deciding for itself whether it believes in such a concept or not, much like a cockroach or an amoeba. Whether one considers it an atheist or not hinges on the definition one gives atheism, and IMO a definition that can result in such wide interpretations just gives it less meaning, not more.
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Icarus

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #25 on: August 14, 2018, 01:08:09 AM »
Cockroaches.............I can not imagine them in a baptist congregation but they could  possibly be taking their liberties in the church kitchen. :snicker: 

Bad Penny II

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #26 on: August 14, 2018, 01:38:54 PM »
There's been too much besmirching of cockroaches.

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Dave

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #27 on: August 14, 2018, 02:14:41 PM »
There's been too much besmirching of cockroaches.


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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #28 on: August 14, 2018, 03:40:34 PM »
From my days as a coder, I find it fascinating that most humans split the world into True/False without regard for the "Null" state...

if "True" = "there is a god"
if "False" = "there is no god"
if "Null" = "agnostic"

We are born agnostic, ie. without knowledge, and possibly without beliefs.

Atheism and Theism both require knowledge and choice, where as agnostic requires nothing.

Tank

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Re: Are we born atheists?
« Reply #29 on: August 14, 2018, 03:54:04 PM »
From my days as a coder, I find it fascinating that most humans split the world into True/False without regard for the "Null" state...

if "True" = "there is a god"
if "False" = "there is no god"
if "Null" = "agnostic"

We are born agnostic, ie. without knowledge, and possibly without beliefs.

Atheism and Theism both require knowledge and choice, where as agnostic requires nothing.

To be an agnostic is still to make a choice that you can not make a choice :)
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