Author Topic: Atheism and happiness  (Read 2207 times)

karadan

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #75 on: December 06, 2010, 05:27:14 PM »
For me, happiness is a great many things. None of them have anything to do with god.
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I find it mistifying that in this age of information, some people still deny the scientific history of our existence.

Ihateyoumike

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #76 on: December 06, 2010, 06:51:33 PM »
Quote from: "karadan"
For me, happiness is a great many things. None of them have anything to do with god.

A great deal of my happiness comes from endorphins.  ;)
Prayers that need no answer now, cause I'm tired of who I am
You were my greatest mistake, I fell in love with your sin
Your littlest sin.

Wilson

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #77 on: December 10, 2010, 06:14:12 PM »
Quote from: "bandit4god"
It's clear from your posts that there is a theme around, "Happiness for the atheist is defined by the individual, pursuing whatever potential sources of happiness he/she desires".  My question, then, is what comes first for the atheist:  the desire to do whatever you want, or the belief that there is no god?  It seems possible to me that, if the former was firmly established, it could dramatically influence whatever intellectual processes go into assessing the latter.  Thoughts?

"The desire to do what you want"?  You seem to be implying that atheists have no sense of duty, morality, ethics, responsibility, and so on.  Ridiculous!  The behavior of religious people may be affected to some extent by their religious teachings, but in most cases not very much.  When it comes to stealing, cruelty to animals, murder, and extortion, I hope it isn't just your religion that keeps you on the straight and narrow.  We all have within us a sense of right and wrong that is independent of religion and belief in God, and that evolved in us because it offered survival advantages to the hunter-gatherer tribes that were our ancestors.  There are good and bad atheists, and if you read the newspapers you know that there are good and bad religious people, including religious leaders.  

And are you also implying that people decide not to believe in God so that there will be no restrictions on their behavior?  If so, you really are lacking in understanding human nature.  Is it so hard to comprehend that certain people look at the question as objectively as possible and become convinced that the existence of God (especially the Judeo-Christian-Muslim God) is unlikely?  Personally, I wish there were a God looking out for me and I wish there was the possibility of eternal life.  Unfortunately, my logic tells me otherwise.

Inevitable Droid

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #78 on: December 10, 2010, 11:09:26 PM »
Quote from: "Wilson"
...and I wish there was the possibility of eternal life...

Oh, the possibility is there.  But the probability can't be assessed, unfortunately, so we atheists treat the probability as zero.

Neuroscience has demonstrated the strong likelihood that our brains are necessary for all of our conscious experience.  But are our brains sufficient?  We won't know that unless and until we learn to read neural activity like words and pictures on a page.  Achieve this feat and we will know our brains are sufficient as well as necessary, and all talk of surviving death in any form will die the final death of the vampire staked and beheaded.  Fail to achieve it for a long enough period of time, say, another hundred years, and the probability that our brains are insufficient will start to look so high as to demand our attention.
Oppose Abraham.

In the face of mystery, do science, not theology.

Wilson

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #79 on: December 11, 2010, 12:22:55 AM »
Quote from: "Inevitable Droid"
Neuroscience has demonstrated the strong likelihood that our brains are necessary for all of our conscious experience.  But are our brains sufficient?  We won't know that unless and until we learn to read neural activity like words and pictures on a page.  Achieve this feat and we will know our brains are sufficient as well as necessary, and all talk of surviving death in any form will die the final death of the vampire staked and beheaded.  Fail to achieve it for a long enough period of time, say, another hundred years, and the probability that our brains are insufficient will start to look so high as to demand our attention.
Are there non-religious people who believe that our consciousness is not entirely a physical phenomenon?  That sounds almost like a belief in a soul or in the supernatural.  I believe that our brains are just extensions of those of our animal cousins - chimps, dogs, fish - who also experience emotions and make decisions and are self-aware in that they act in their own self-interest - and it isn't pure instinct until you get further down the chain.  Our brains are huge compared to them and we have language so that we can have conversations with ourselves and figure out complicated stuff and ponder the meaning of life.  Now if we believe that there is a mysterious force or substance that is necessary for our self-awareness or consciousness, and if we accept that we have evolved from other species, then where in the animal tree did that force or substance make its appearance?  It would be rather arrogant of us to postulate that it's exclusively human.

Inevitable Droid

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #80 on: December 11, 2010, 03:23:41 AM »
Quote from: "Wilson"
Are there non-religious people who believe that our consciousness is not entirely a physical phenomenon?

Non-religious?  Sure.  Atheist?  More rare.  I'm making the (probably trivial) point that there are non-religious theists.

But to believe or disbelieve something's factuality aren't the only options.  One can, more softly, believe or disbelieve something's plausibility, or, softer still, something's raw possibility.  As for the soul, I have no opinion as to its factuality, and no opinion as to its plausibility, but as for its raw possibility, sure, why not?  Nothing scientific precludes its raw possibility.  Same thing with God.  I have no opinion as to his factuality, and no opinion as to his plausibility, but as for his raw possibility, sure, why not?  Nothing scientific precludes his raw possibility.

Atheism isn't an ideology for me.  It's strictly an absence, a negation.  If I have an ideology, it's scientarianism.  For me, a proposition is factual if and only if science supports its factuality, or plausible if and only if science supports its plausibility.  As for raw possibility, where neither factuality nor plausibility can be assessed, I'm more easy-going, in that I'll entertain the notion so long as science doesn't preclude it.  Why?  Because science really can only assess factuality and plausibility.  When a scientist says X is impossible, what's really being said is either (a) Y is a fact and Y contradicts X; or else (b) Y is a fact and Y negates the plausibility of X.  With regard to the soul, no fact contradicts it and no fact negates its plausibility.  No fact supports it either, or supports its plausibility.  The soul is outside the sphere of knowledge science governs, because the soul is non-empirical.  Science has no opinion on the non-empirical.
 
I am willing to act on the basis of fact, and also on the basis of plausibility.  I am unwilling to act on the basis of raw possibility, where factuality and even plausibility cannot be assessed.  I am therefore unwilling to take any action on the basis of God or the soul.  I treat them both as irrelevancies.

Hmm.  Maybe Sophus was right after all.  Maybe I'm at bottom an apatheist.  Toward the non-empirical my stance is utter apathy.

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Now if we believe that there is a mysterious force or substance that is necessary for our self-awareness or consciousness, and if we accept that we have evolved from other species, then where in the animal tree did that force or substance make its appearance?  It would be rather arrogant of us to postulate that it's exclusively human.

Oh, if I have a soul, then bacteria do too, I guess.  Why not?  If the soul is the component of consciousness exterior to the brain, then I guess the soul's existence doesn't hinge on any of the brain's attributes, nor even on the brain's existence, presumably.  Who knows?  I sure don't.  Nor does science.  Nor can science investigate the question.  Anything science can't even investigate, I disregard on principle, which is another way of saying that on principle I withhold concern or interest; on principle, my stance is apathy.
Oppose Abraham.

In the face of mystery, do science, not theology.

Kylyssa

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #81 on: December 13, 2010, 09:16:37 PM »
For me, happiness is improving the lives of my fellow human beings.  Nothing feels better than helping someone else.  My goal is to help homeless people which is why I've devoted so much of my life to it.  This is confusing to many Christians because they can't figure out why someone would care about others without religion.  This does relate to atheism because, as an atheist, I don't think God is going to help anyone so we'd better do it.  It also relates to atheism because I do not ascribe to the assorted bigotries associated with religion such as homophobia and discrimination against people of different beliefs.

You see, Christianity causes some types of homelessness, mostly those relating to gay teens and young adults.  Religion is at least peripherally responsible for about 400,000 young Americans being homeless each year.  It's also responsible for the fact that Christian-run homeless shelters, food banks and soup kitchens can refuse to serve people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, queer or non-Christian.  And they do.  Catholic Social Services lost government funding because they would rather not help people than comply with anti-discrimination laws.  

Last year, in my state, a program for feeding homeless people was greatly diminished when three out of eight Christian churches quit the program because two of the other churches refused to support discriminatory practices against lgbtq folks.  Kudos to the five churches who continue to serve homeless people regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.  But those three bigot churches still exist and they would rather not help people than work with not even lgbtq people but churches and people who refuse to discriminate against them.

Other Christian folk think that helping people out of suffering is harmful to those people's souls, that God had a reason for them to suffer.  Those folks are fairly rare but they are usually loud and annoying.  Sometimes they work to whip up anti-homeless people sentiments.  When they run shelters they are known for allowing horrifying shelter conditions and advising people not to help homeless people for fear homeless people will become too comfortable being homeless - as if giving a freezing woman a coat and blanket makes her so comfy she won't mind the repeated rapes and assaults many homeless women face.

Religion has an overwhelming connection with bigotry.  Look at Westboro Baptist Church, the KKK, and most white supremacy groups - they are all groups that self-identify as Christian.  Now why would hating people equate to happiness?

When I was healthy and had a bigger place, I took in 17 homeless teens and young adults, some for only a week or so, others for more than a year at a time.  I also worked at homeless shelters, soup kitchens, a food bank, a literacy program, and several job training programs.  I also went out into the community to help homeless people get connected with services that would help them and help get homeless minors placed in foster care.  Now, I'm very ill (brain tumor, lupus, fibromyalgia) so I rarely leave my home and I've had to find other means to help homeless people.  Now I work on letter-writing campaigns in support of homeless friendly legislation and against legislation harmful to homeless people.  I also write articles designed to raise empathy for homeless people and give suggestions on how people can help homeless people.  Nothing makes me happier than when people write to me to tell me about how my articles inspired them to help homeless people or when someone says I helped them to respect homeless people as human beings except maybe when anti-homeless people legislation is defeated.

Don't believe me?  Check out my pages on homelessness at http://www.squidoo.com/lensmasters/Kylyssa and see for yourself.

Wilson

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #82 on: December 13, 2010, 11:12:41 PM »
Kylyssa, what your post - and your life - shows is that morality is largely innate and not based just on the rules of a church.  Out of curiosity, were you born into a religious home?

AverageJoe

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #83 on: December 14, 2010, 12:07:32 AM »
Hmm I can't say my atheism makes me want to do whatever I like, and I understand I cannot simply do whatever I like due to rules and regulations. I also understand that doing whatever I like may in some cases have a negative impact on other people - I DO care about other people not only myself, and don't need a deity to make me care about others on fear of punishment - I care about others just because I'm niiiiiiice.

What makes me happy? Fluffy puppies, pizzas, helping others, sunny days, family time, going to the football, watching tv, surfing the net, loads of things really.

What are my goals? Tougher, I suppose to raise my kids properly and get through life without too much trouble.

The meaning of life? There isn't one as far as I can tell, we're here one minute and gone the next, just like everything else in the universe.

elliebean

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #84 on: December 14, 2010, 02:23:50 AM »
Quote from: "AverageJoe"
Hmm I can't say my atheism makes me want to do whatever I like, and I understand I cannot simply do whatever I like due to rules and regulations. I also understand that doing whatever I like may in some cases have a negative impact on other people...
Sure you do whatever you like; you just happen to like conducting yourself in such a way as to avoid unnecessary, preventable, negative consequences more than you like some other things.
Same as most anyone else.

Has nothing at all to do with atheism, though.
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Kylyssa

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Re: Atheism and happiness
« Reply #85 on: December 14, 2010, 05:36:39 PM »
Quote from: "Wilson"
Kylyssa, what your post - and your life - shows is that morality is largely innate and not based just on the rules of a church.  Out of curiosity, were you born into a religious home?
No.  My mother was an agnostic and my father an atheist.  I enjoy helping people because I feel empathy for them and no one taught me not to.  It's as simple as that.