South African Skeptics

New Gods for a New Age — Losing Our Religion and Finding it Again

Offline brianvds

  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 2071
    • Skeptical ability: +15/-0
    • Brian van der Spuy
A nice little article, pointing out that it is almost impossible for people not to believe in some or other thing. As for me, I'm a nihilist, and perfectly happy being one :-)


New Gods for a New Age — Losing Our Religion and Finding it Again in (Unlikely) Places

https://medium.com/@bronwynruthwilliams/new-gods-for-a-new-age-losing-our-religion-and-finding-it-again-in-unlikely-places-f8d420c7de38


Offline BoogieMonster

  • NP complete
  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 3281
    • Skeptical ability: +19/-1
Hrmph. I don't think I've filled in my *ahem* "god shaped hole" with anything. But maybe this is a self-fulfilling prophecy in and of itself: I've seen no evidence that belief in the "Singularity" is a secular pasttime only. It's just a thing some people believe, secular or not. I mean fuckit, you could call heliocentricity a religion then if you must find a brush to paint all non-believers with.

I think what's actually curious about this article is how some people need non believers to also believe something, anything, as long as we can point to them also being moronic, it makes us feel less moronic about ourselves. Helps smooth over any cognitive dissonances.

I think it was an exchange that Penn Gillette, or Dawkins, ... maybe someone else... had during a debate once:

Quote
Debater:... But you CAN'T believe only in things for which there's evidence you must...
Atheist interjects: I CAN! I DO!
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline Mefiante

  • Defollyant Iconoclast
  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 3796
    • Skeptical ability: +64/-9
  • In solidarity with rwenzori: Κοπρος φανεται
    • Me, according to johnno777
Even if it was true that we all have a certain kind of “faith”—even if it’s only that our fundamental epistemological intuitions are correct, such as syllogistic reasoning, zetetic knowledge acquisition, induction, and so forth—the accusation would still constitute at least two logical fallacies.

First, and perhaps most obviously (as already pointed out), it’s a simple tu quoque dodge:   The fact that your faith invokes fantastical beings and mine doesn’t hardly puts the contents of our beliefs on any sort equal or comparable footing.  If I dropped my “faith,” I would be left in the unenviable position of not being able to assert any knowledge about anything at all.

Second, the article is quite specific in dealing with beliefs about gods and related religious matters.  Attempts to equate such circumscribed belief with beliefs about the nature of knowledge commit an equivocation of the term “belief” that can’t easily be justified.  It would essentially be the same criticism that many religionists espouse when they claim that belief in (a, any) God is a very different thing to belief in the tooth fairy.

Still, maybe I do have fervid faith that I don’t have anything that could properly qualify as “faith”…

'Luthon64
"Sensitive" people are now carefully examining the entire universe, trying to find something to be "offended" at. It won't stop until such time as the "offenders" learn to stop apologizing, and saying "freck off" instead. — brianvds, The ShoutBox Classics, 02/07/2018.


Offline brianvds

  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 2071
    • Skeptical ability: +15/-0
    • Brian van der Spuy
Hrmph. I don't think I've filled in my *ahem* "god shaped hole" with anything.

Just about everyone fills their god-shaped hole with something, though it does depend on what exactly we mean by that god-shaped hole. If it consists of a sense of meaning or purpose, or perhaps "oneness with all" or being in the presence of the numinous, then I would think that lots of people who have no use for supernatural entities still understand what it means to have a "religious experience." One need but to look up at the Milky Way on a dark Karoo night to have such an experience, and deities need not be involved.

I would think religion also, to some extent, serves as the glue that binds communities together, or that separates "us" from "them." For those without supernatural beliefs, politics often work just as well for this, hence your foam-at-the-mouth commies or über-libertarians or whatever. In fact, politics functions pretty much as a sort of secular religion.

Me, I try to stay away from politics, but I seek out religious experiences. :-)


Offline BoogieMonster

  • NP complete
  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 3281
    • Skeptical ability: +19/-1
Hrmph. I don't think I've filled in my *ahem* "god shaped hole" with anything.

Just about everyone fills their god-shaped hole with something, though it does depend on what exactly we mean by that god-shaped hole. If it consists of a sense of meaning or purpose, or perhaps "oneness with all" or being in the presence of the numinous, then I would think that lots of people who have no use for supernatural entities still understand what it means to have a "religious experience."

... or an experience of awe in the face of massive scales, which has been co-opted by religion to be redefined as "spiritual".

Quote
I would think religion also, to some extent, serves as the glue that binds communities together, or that separates "us" from "them."

In the modern day people may well look for something along these lines but in the past there were tons of times that Christians warred with Christians, etc... good old Tribalism will do just fine.

Quote
For those without supernatural beliefs, politics often work just as well for this, hence your foam-at-the-mouth commies or über-libertarians or whatever. In fact, politics functions pretty much as a sort of secular religion.

This is where my objection starts. Having been around very religious people since birth, I can tell that it never stopped anyone from engaging in political hijinks. It's not, in my estimation, that atheists "find politics" post deconversion any more so than they would've been engaged with that subject as religious zealots. I'm, for the most part, just as politically apathetic and/or active as I always was. Religious or not.

It's just that, lacking religious belief, when one considers the atheist, politics is the only thing left that one can attribute to that person as a "personal belief structure" that is (perhaps) not entirely grounded in science and evidence and more in one's philosophical leanings.

But, that doesn't make it a replacement for or "crutch" for the lack of religion.... IMHO at least. It's an "in addition to" and not an "instead of".
"Monkey killing monkey killing monkey over pieces of the ground, Silly monkeys, give them thumbs, they make a club and beat their brother down. How they survive, so misguided, is a mystery. Repugnant is a creature who would squander the ability to lift an eye to heaven, conscious of his fleeting time here" - Tool


Offline Mefiante

  • Defollyant Iconoclast
  • Hero Member
  • *****
    • Posts: 3796
    • Skeptical ability: +64/-9
  • In solidarity with rwenzori: Κοπρος φανεται
    • Me, according to johnno777
Just about everyone fills their god-shaped hole with something, though it does depend on what exactly we mean by that god-shaped hole. If it consists of a sense of meaning or purpose, or perhaps "oneness with all" or being in the presence of the numinous, then I would think that lots of people who have no use for supernatural entities still understand what it means to have a "religious experience."
I’m not so sure.  This take on things supplies the core of the argument that religious believers like to think licenses them to declare that “Atheism is just another religion.”  Ignoring all of the unstated specious assumptions about what atheism is (i.e., allegedly a belief system positively claiming the non-existence of any deity), there must come a point in a rational agent’s development of experience and knowledge where these observations are realised to be far more likely a reflection of human psychology than of some pervasive reality.  I agree to the extent that I doubt that there are very many people who will claim never to have had a “spiritual” experience, just as I don’t doubt that most of them will ascribe such experiences to some supervening reality outside of themselves.  My point is simply that in this light, such experiences are understood as not being able to fill any “god-shaped hole” because such a hole is itself a chimera.

I would think religion also, to some extent, serves as the glue that binds communities together, or that separates "us" from "them."
This point I agree with wholeheartedly.  It’s long been my contention that religions, contrary to their oft-stated puffery and self-aggrandisements, are insidiously divisive by fostering and actively encouraging us-and-them mindsets.  The mild version:  “You’re part of our group—just as long as you subscribe to the notions we all hold dear; challenge us, and you’re out!”

'Luthon64
"Sensitive" people are now carefully examining the entire universe, trying to find something to be "offended" at. It won't stop until such time as the "offenders" learn to stop apologizing, and saying "freck off" instead. — brianvds, The ShoutBox Classics, 02/07/2018.