The Difference Between Atheists & Christians

Maybe the differences could summed up with “Atheists Think” and “Christians Know”…

  • Reginald Selkirk

    “one day” ?

  • http://www.brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

    Maybe the differences could summed up with “Atheists Think” and “Christians Know”…

    Lame.

    • thin-ice

      yea, brglker, looking at your blog which gives props to Glen Beck, I’d agree, we think, and “Christians know”. We don’t troll your blogs, so don’t troll ours.

      • UrsaMinor

        He’s no troll. He’s been posting on UF for years.

        And I have to agree with his comment.

        • http://www.brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

          Thanks, Ursa. Appreciated. the interwebz can be a hostile place!

      • http://www.brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        My blog gives props to Beck? Hardly. I linked to one post where Beck said something I agreed (a Libertarian approach to marriage, which gives gay people the right to marry!) in a very sarcastic tone – or at least it was sarcastic in my head when I wrote it.

        If you knew me even a tiny little bit, you’d know I have precisely zero respect for Glen Beck’s opinions.

        You’d also know that I have been posting here for right around 4 years, just not a lot frequently (mostly because I do most of my blog reading on mobile now, which isn’t all that friendly to typing).

    • Jabster

      You need to post at bit more brgulker … and welcome back – hopefuly of course.

      p.s. Don’t worry about Dan’s ‘trolling’ posts – he needs to keep up the website traffic somehow … :-)

      • Custador

        It’s been good to see Dan back and posting more to be honest.

        • http://www.brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

          Ditto. He was the only dude blogging when I started reading here.

        • UrsaMinor

          True that. But let’s face it, we’re a tough audience.

      • http://www.brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        Awww, shucks. Thanks!

        • http://www.brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

          Also, in addition to the whole reading on mobile thing, during the NBA season, most of my blogging attentions turn to the Detroit Pistons. I contribute to a handful of blogs and get into too many online debates about basketball for my own good :) In other words, my blogging energies are depleted!

    • Sunny Day

      How is that lame?
      Atheists look to the evidence.
      Christians just know and don’t need any.

      • http://www.brgulker.wordpress.com brgulker

        All you did was reiterate what Daniel said in different words.

        This is the exact same type of thing a fundamentalist would say about atheists. I can totally see a fundamentalist quoting the bible in an image like this one…

        “Only a fool says in his heart that there is no god…”

        And going on to say,

        “Maybe that’s the difference between us and atheists. They’re fools, and we’re not.”

        Furthermore, Christians think. A lot of us think like atheists but arrive at different conclusions. I’m not going to get all riled up and insulted about it, because I know the point DF is trying to make. But really, it is pretty insulting.

        • Mogg

          I wouldn’t call it lame, exactly, but as with many pithy generalisations, the truth is a bit more complicated. I’ve met or known plenty of thinking Christians, and even more non-thinking atheists. I wonder if that is a difference in populations, though, given that there are far fewer fundamentalist/YEC types here in Oz and more liberal leaning Anglicans and Catholics in the Christian demographic, as well as far more who would fall into the category of “apatheists” who just never thought about it.

        • Kodie

          This is the exact same type of thing a fundamentalist would say about atheists. I can totally see a fundamentalist quoting the bible in an image like this one…

          “Only a fool says in his heart that there is no god…”

          Not the exact same type of thing. The Christians who say that are exemplary non-thinkers.

        • blotonthelandscape

          I maintain that faith-based belief is essentially the glorification of cognitive bias, which could be summarised as Dan has. And the number of times I talk about what I “think” to a christian only to be shot down with “But you don’t know! But I do “. Yeah, maybe it’s a bit brash, or lacking in scope, but not “Lame”.

          This is not to say that all christians rely entirely on faith (hence the generalisation by Daniel might be a bit brash), but I would hazard a guess that nearly all do to some extent as a necessary foundation of their beliefs, and as a result the final content of their expressed beliefs can’t be trusted, and the intellectually honest christian will always be explicit about what point “reason” stops and “faith” begins.

          • UrsaMinor

            My reason for thinking it lame is fairly prosaic- it displayed a suboptimal choice of words. It would have been more effective to contrast “thinking” with “believing” than with “knowing”. Knowing implies that there is actual knowledge behind it; believing doesn’t. And that, I think, is the heart of the intended contrast.

            • Kodie

              When they can admit they don’t really know and that we atheists may be onto something that isn’t threatening to their beliefs, I’ll agree with you. Outside of that, Dan likes memes, Dan doesn’t write them, and doesn’t overthink this stuff anymore. I don’t know if there is anything to discuss about a picture someone on the internet created in a generator that doesn’t take more than 10 seconds. The Christian who made the inside one didn’t really put a lot of thought into it, and thinks he won the internet. The outer one mocks it adequately to my taste. We’re not saving the world.

      • kessy_athena

        “Atheists look to the evidence.
        Christians just know and don’t need any.”
        —–
        Really? Is that so? That’s funny, because I seem t0 recall certain atheists insisting that they *know* that Bigfoot doesn’t exist, even though when repeatedly asked for the evidence to back that up, we heard a deafening silence.

        It’s an entirely legitimate criticism of Christianity that it tends to rely on a false sense of certainty in place of facts. It’s not legitimate to say that Christians don’t think. Or at the very least it’s over the top hyperbole and stereotyping. Christians are no more monolithic a group then atheists, or any other large group. And all humans make assumptions that are not strictly justified by the known evidence, and mentally fill in the blanks in incomplete information. And all humans have a bad tendency to forget that we’re doing that.

        *Some* Christians are seriously fact challenged, and *some* atheists are very rational and conscientious about evidence. But I’m afraid that thinking that just embracing the label “atheist” automatically makes one smarter and better then others is simply leaving the trappings of Christianity behind while still holding fast to the underlying mindset.

        • Sunny Day

          “*know* that Bigfoot doesn’t exist”
          That must have been a different conversation, that only occurred in your head.
          Belief without evidence or based on mental gymnastics is certainly a TYPE of thinking but not in an everyday use of the word.

          • kessy_athena

            Ahem…

            “Werewolves, Vampires and Bigfoot, whats the difference.”

            Sound familiar? Look, I don’t mean to re-litigate that discussion. My point is simply that the real difference between thinking and knowing is in being willing to consider evidence and arguments contrary to your current opinion. And none of us can claim perfection in that.

            • Kodie

              The word “know” becomes meaningless. The concept “to know” becomes meaningless.

              You can’t call something that’s never been seen “bigfoot” and say that it might exist. Something with big feet that is the subject of lore and prone to be described as smart enough to be completely elusive so much that people stage fake encounters does not exist. How do you even suppose it has big feet? Measured them?

              If we go your agnostic way, then nothing is known, everything has a chance to be. You want to twist this around and say we know bigfoot does not exist? As much as elves and unicorns do not.

            • kessy_athena

              Actually, Kodie, I’d say you hit the nail on the head. The concept “to know” *is* meaningless. There is no certainty, ever, about anything. And that’s a good thing. You don’t need certainty, even if you had it, what use would it be? So why don’t you try stopping clutching at it?

            • Kodie

              Bullshit. We don’t have to waste time considering things that aren’t real for the sake of not knowing them for sure.

            • Theory_of_I

              Kessy-
              ..”There is no certainty, ever, about anything.”
              So you don’t know if you’ll die from being decapitated?

            • Kodie
            • Sunny Day

              “There is no certainty, ever, about anything.”
              Kessy why are you quoting the nincompoop character from Tim Minchen’s beat poem Storm?

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              Pretty sure Descartes sorted this one out a while ago.

            • Custador

              “Werewolves, Vampires and Bigfoot, whats the difference?”

              That’s an entirely fair question, though. In all three cases it’s talking about a creature for which there is existing and quite detailed mythology, but for which there’s no evidence whatsoever that they exist. You’re arguing that being agnostic over the prospect of an undiscovered great ape in the continental US (which has somehow left no evidence of feeding, scat, mating, dying or having any fossil ancestors) is somehow the intellectually superior position to simply disregarding the idea as mythology. If you were consistent, you’d argue the same over the idea of humans who feed on blood and hate the sunlight, yet somehow exist without leaving a trace. Because something could possibly exist, does not mean that we have to take it seriously. See for example: Russell’s Teapot.

            • Theory_of_I

              Kodie-

              I didn’t ask about the odds Kessy would be decapitated, though assuredly people have been due to accident or intention worldwide — hope to tFSM Kessy never is — I asked if Kessy could not know with certainty that physically separating the head from the body would cause death absolutely.
              Was hoping not to derail the thread too much, but yeah, I should have phrased that more carefully.

            • Kodie

              I know how you meant it.

            • kessy_athena

              @Theory: No, I’m not certain that decapitation would cause death, because I’m not at all certain this universe is actually real in any objective sense. No, I’m serious, this could all well be a dream of some sort. I generally disregard that possibility in day to day life because this world acts as if it were real. At least by its own internal logic. There’s a difference between saying that the possibility isn’t really relevant to most day to day activities and saying the possibility doesn’t exist.

              @Kodie: What makes you think there’s such a sharp distinction between what’s real and what’s not? Snopes is full of stories that inhabit the netherland between reality and unreality.

              @Sunny: Sorry, I’m not familiar with Tim Minchen.

              @Custy: As I recall, there are actually several real medical conditions that mimic various aspects of vampirism, such as photosensitivity. And it seems likely those conditions at least influenced the mythology. Just because a mythology has grown up around a subject that includes stories that are clearly pure fiction doesn’t mean the entire subject is pure fiction. For example, the kraken is based on the very real giant squid, even though many of the stories about krakens seem to be firmly in the realm of fantasy. Once the literary provenance and lineage of a story is lost, there’s really no way to untangle what’s fiction and what’s not other then going out and investigating the physical reality. And even then there’s almost always a lot of uncertainty.

              Like I said, I really don’t want to re-litigate the Bigfoot discussion, but I really have to take issue with the statement that there’s no evidence – there’s tons of evidence, from sightings to tracks to scat and hair. It’s simply low quality and anecdotal evidence. Which is exactly what you’d expect in the absence of a thorough investigation. Just like your bulldozer in the absence of evidence discussion, it all depends on what evidence you would reasonably expect to be present. The lack of tracks in the soft ground is indeed evidence of absence, *so long as you’ve actually gone out and looked at the ground.* You can’t just say, “Well I haven’t seen any tracks,” without going out and checking.

            • Custador

              How does your reply to me do anything but back up my point that bigfoot doesn’t exist?

            • kessy_athena

              Because neither you nor anyone else has really gone out and checked to see if there are actually any bulldozer tracks in your garden or not. You’re assuming that they’re aren’t tracks because you didn’t notice any the last time you walked by, even though you weren’t really paying that much attention.

            • Custador

              Much like my garden, people go there every day. But this conversation has gone circular once already, so this is my last participation in it.

            • Theory_of_I

              Kessy-

              Solipsism?
              C’mon, don’t yu get a little weary from dragging the goalposts around?

            • kessy_athena

              LOL, yes, Theory, solipsism. In the epistemological sense. I’m not dragging the goalposts anywhere, it just seems that I’m playing on a different pitch then you thought I was. I’m looking at the base assumptions, not the logic.

            • kessy_athena

              No, Custy, people do not go there every day. Do you seriously think that the entire planet is under constant human surveillance, with cameras ready to catch every event? That’s completely absurd.

            • Custador

              …And there go the goalposts again…

            • Kodie

              Holy shit, this is not a dream. What are leprechauns based on? When the earth was flat and the sailors thought there were monsters if they sailed over the edge of it, explains everything I need to know about bigfoot. Don’t go into the woods, you’ll get eaten by a made-up monster. Are we living on the back of a turtle? Are the stars light coming through holes in a dark sheet revealing heaven beyond? Can I realign my chakras and get reincarnated as Beyoncé in the year 3000? Can I pre-born myself and choose different parents? Can I pre-meet them and keep them from getting together? I don’t choose to relate to my world as if it’s not a dream; I don’t have a choice.

              Distractions like that are what make me understand I would never dream up such a hostile experience where people make up dumb bullshit. It’s dumb bullshit. Sorry if that seems ad hominem to anyone, but there are a lot of clues that eliminate the possibility that this is a dream, and it’s not like I didn’t think about that a lot more when I took the required core course in college, the let’s-take-dumb-bullshit-dead-seriously-for-credit class. AKA the most expensive pot you can’t even smoke because it comes in the form of a professor every M/W/F at 10:30-12:00.

            • Theory_of_I

              Kessy-

              Well, I gotta say, using (as you do with fluency) if, might, could, maybe, perhaps, possibly etc., doesn’t add real specificity to the debate, but it would make you a hell of a stock broker! ;)

            • kessy_athena

              Kodie, I know you’ve had a hard time, and I’m not trying to minimize that in any way. I’ve had my own difficulties, so I know where you’re coming from. But I’d remind you that dreams aren’t necessarily fun or pleasant. I assume you’ve had nightmares at some point? Even normal dreams can put you in situations that can be stressful, upsetting, annoying, or even infuriating. Just because something is all in your head, what makes you think that means it isn’t real? Things that are just in your head may be different from things in external experience, but they’re not somehow inferior or any less real.

              (Yes, I realize that last sentence is a bit out of place in a discussion about solipsism, but I’m digressing slightly to try to address what you’re saying as best I can.)

              @Custy: Am I moving the goalposts or are you? The question is what sort of evidence would we expect to be present, given the current situation, right? Well, what sort of evidence would you expect if there’s an animal that stays in the deep wilderness where there is very little human presence and no one has really made any concerted effort to go looking for it? There really are plenty of places that you just can’t get to by car or even ATV, places that the only way to get to are to hike for days from the nearest trail big enough for an ATV.

              @Theory: Do you agree that our senses aren’t all that reliable? That we can often be fooled by what we think we’re seeing, hearing, feeling, or experiencing? That this is the reason that eyewitness testimony isn’t very reliable?

              And do you agree that our only source of information about the world is through our senses? That there isn’t some sort of mystical ESP that lets your mind somehow reach out and directly experience a thing?

              If you agree with both of those propositions, then how can you avoid solipsism? If our only source of information about the world is unreliable and often wrong, then I don’t see any reasonable alternative to acknowledging that anything we think we know about the world, including its very existence, could well be wrong.

            • Custador

              @ Kessy: You are. Repeatedly. And it’s getting boring.

            • Kodie

              The dividing line between reality and fantasy is built on the false perceptions we’re capable of as animal beings. Our brains do things that keep us focused on survival and without perfect knowledge, build up a little stock of conveniently good guesses. Those guesses can be tested and we can know. The way you’re thinking about it is the flaw of self-centeredness. Of course, primary experience is focused on the self surviving. But we’re not part of a grand story with ourselves as the main character. That narrative crap is not real. Believing that this could all be a dream doesn’t do anything.

              What it is is a short-lived experience, and yeah, we can be self-centered and inwardly focused. That doesn’t relieve us from the reality that we’re animals. We think we live forever, that’s fantasy. We think this isn’t “really happening” as a coping mechanism, because it is. How important is it in the long range? Not very. That doesn’t mean it’s a dream, just like that doesn’t mean there’s a god. I don’t know everything – that’s how I know this isn’t a dream. I know myself well enough that I could not come up with all of humanity, nor would I choose to. Some of it is far too complicated with too many moving parts for one single mind to conceive of its completeness. How could I invent so many governments, so many technologies, so many new ways for a person to be awful.

              It’s not just because of my personal experience. I really think this is a thing to ponder once and then get along in life having chunked it over as one of many fantastical alternatives, but it’s not satisfactory nor really plausible. I exist, and you exist, and we are made of matter in the universe. We’re relatively amoebas, kind of feeling our way around – is that fire or just a lamp? WE CAN KNOW. Is that real or a dream? With a healthy brain, we can know. We don’t know everything, such as even why we do dream when we sleep. I do know that there is no internal consistency in my dreams such as an owl caught in a cobweb and screeching to get free that night I helped move a thousand pieces of furniture. There are things in real life that may seem about as weird but aren’t dreams, because I’m not the one making them up. To say I’m dreaming means you don’t exist. It’s a hypothetical non-reality thought exercise, but not something to be considered seriously, and you who don’t exist are like a god-botherer, thinking Pascal’s Wager is the winning move. My eyes hurt from rolling so much.

            • Kodie

              Just in case it wasn’t clear to you, I’m relatively insulted by the prospect that I’m rejecting your premise on the mere grounds that my life has been shit. I’m rejecting it because it is the premise of a space cadet.

            • Sunny Day

              I wondered where the fuck, ” Kodie, I know you’ve had a hard time” was coming from and how it had anything to do with hairy vampire zombies with bigfeet.

            • Kodie

              How can I know what nightmares are when I’m not real. Kessy knows I’ve had a hard time because my face is next to every problem I’ve ever described, but that’s not my real face.

            • Jabster

              @kessy
              “Kodie, I know you’ve had a hard time, and I’m not trying to minimize that in any way.”

              Well that isn’t fucking patronising in anyway … well done.

            • Bill

              ” No, I’m not certain that decapitation would cause death, because I’m not at all certain this universe is actually real in any objective sense.”

              I once had a very similar thought. It came to me about two hours after taking a hit of blotter acid.

            • kessy_athena

              Kodie, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound like I was accusing you of dismissing anything because you’ve had problems, and I certainly didn’t mean to sound patronizing. I was trying to respond to “I would never dream up such a hostile experience where people make up dumb bullshit.” which I took to mean something along the lines of, if this is a dream, why would I dream such a nasty world? I was trying not to sound like I was being dismissive of what you’ve been through. I can only offer my sincerest apologies that I missed the mark.

              Can you or Jabster or anyone else give me a suggestion of how I should have put it? Guys, I’m not being sarcastic or snarky here, I realize I messed up, and I’m asking if anyone can tell me how to do better.

            • Elemenope

              “There is no certainty, ever, about anything.” Kessy why are you quoting the nincompoop character from Tim Minchen’s beat poem Storm?

              The nincompoop character in “Storm” took that actually correct statement and drew the probably incorrect conclusion that because we can’t be completely certain, all opinions must have equal validity.

              I wouldn’t go so far as to say that “to know” is a useless term, because even if we are all merely the dreams of a butterfly, the term is being uttered within the epistemological context to which it is being applied; after all, if we were within such a dream we are still observers who at least can test the parameters of that existence, such as it is. Perhaps better would be merely to stipulate that “to know” should be understood as eschewing certainty, and that the strength of a claim of knowing is dependent upon the probability of it being correct given that all possible alternative hypotheses cannot ever be eliminated.

              Throw a little Bayes in for color if numbers make you feel better about the notion.

          • Sunny Day

            I’m sorry.
            When I replied I knew the bigfoot peeve would be escalated again.
            I hoped for a different result.

        • Theory_of_I

          Kessy-

          >”…how can you avoid solipsism?
          As the extreme of self-centeredness, I wouldn’t spend the effort to consider it. Not going to feed the epitome of arrogance, no way.

          • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

            That’s a little unfair. Just because somebody is willing to mull over solipsism doesn’t mean they are the epitome of arrogance and some sort of self-centred monster.

            • Theory_of_I

              Ah, but perhaps you should take that up with Kessy — I’m just a wee figment of a dream, and can’t be held responsible.

            • Kodie

              There’s a big difference between admitting our senses aren’t 100% reliable and asserting that may mean our senses are 0% reliable, and expecting to be taken seriously for the latter.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              That’s an irrational and emotional response, Theory_of_I. Boo hoo, somebody suggested you might be a figment of their imagination. Are you so insecure that you can’t just let that thought experiment lie and have to get all worked up about it?

              And Kodie, there is clearly a difference, but that difference doesn’t make somebody a selfish monster.

            • Custador

              Clearly you’re all just figments of my imagination. Which does make me wonder what the hell is wrong with me…

            • Kodie

              I didn’t call anyone a monster? But proposing the idea that you’re the only person who really exists can’t be said to be unselfish. It’s a concept that seems really neat if you never thought about it before, but if you think about it enough, you should get to the other side and not propose it seriously. Especially to defend whether we can “know” anything like one’s favorite mythical monster creature. I feel stupider just talking about it. If other people don’t exist, is it ok if I killed them? It’s not even ok for me to say that hypothetically. It’s alarming to even think.

              So maybe it’s fun to talk about and think about until you realize what a horrible person you could just psych yourself into believing it’s ok to be. It’s not a necessary end, it’s just one thing a sufficiently deluded solipsist might think and act on.

            • kessy_athena

              Look, I’m not saying that I think you’re all figments of my imagination. I choose to believe that at an absolute minimum the people I interact with are real. Largely because I find the thought of being truly alone in the universe absolutely horrifying. What I’m doing is recognizing that I am simply choosing to believe it, that I don’t actually know and I can’t know. And that I could be wrong. If I didn’t do that, then really what would be the difference between me and Christians who say something to the effect of, “God has to be real because the world would be a horrible place without him,” or, “because otherwise there would be no reason to be a good person,” or, “I couldn’t manage life without my faith.”? If they don’t work as arguments for the existence of God, then why would they work as arguments for the existence of the universe? Remember, this discussion began over the idea that atheists think while Christians know. It’s impossible to approach the world without making assumptions, and if you really want to be truly rational about it you *have* to consciously recognize where you’re making assumptions and keep in mind that those assumptions could be wrong.

              “There’s a big difference between admitting our senses aren’t 100% reliable and asserting that may mean our senses are 0% reliable.” Okay, so let’s posit for the moment that are senses are neither 100% nor 0% reliable, but somewhere in between. What % reliable are they? And how would we go about determining that? How would we test it? And more importantly, how do we tell which bits are reliable and which aren’t? If you devise an experiment to test how reliable our senses are, the only way you can find out the results of that experiment is through your senses. Choosing to think that those things our senses tell us that reinforce our view of how the world is are reliable while those that challenge that view are not is simply a form of confirmation bias.

            • Theory_of_I

              JohnM-

              I apologize if my (apparently failed) attempt at humor caused you to put your bully boots on.

              If you noted the upthread banter, Kessy likes to move the goalposts. I simply didn’t want to be dragged along, so I was making an exit. A little strident? Perhaps, but like you, I believe I’m allowed an opinion, thanks.

            • Sunny Day

              Conversation is initially bright and light-hearted
              But it’s not long before Storm gets started:
              “You can’t know anything,
              Knowledge is merely opinion”
              She opines, over her Cabernet Sauvignon
              Vis-à-vis
              Some un-hippily
              Empirical comment made by me

              “Not a good start” I think
              We’re only on pre-dinner drinks
              And across the room, my wife
              Widens her eyes
              Silently begs me, ‘Be nice…’
              A matrimonial warning
              Not worth ignoring
              So I resist the urge to ask Storm
              Whether knowledge is so loose-weave
              Of a morning
              When deciding whether to leave
              Her apartment by the front door
              Or a window on her second floor.

            • Elemenope

              I likes me some Minchin, but he’s satirizing people who don’t properly understand the philosophic method and thus mistake the field of thought experiment results as the actual breadth of plausible, applicable truth.

              That isn’t what’s happening here (and wasn’t what happened in the Bigfoot thread, either, for that matter), despite some folks’ best efforts to ignore that fact. Sneering is a lazy substitute for engagement, and in my experience among the atheist community usually a desperate attempt to avoid engaging with this particular point:

              What I’m doing is recognizing that I am simply choosing to believe it, that I don’t actually know and I can’t know. And that I could be wrong. If I didn’t do that, then really what would be the difference between me and Christians who say something to the effect of, “God has to be real because the world would be a horrible place without him,” or, “because otherwise there would be no reason to be a good person,” or, “I couldn’t manage life without my faith.”? If they don’t work as arguments for the existence of God, then why would they work as arguments for the existence of the universe? Remember, this discussion began over the idea that atheists think while Christians know. It’s impossible to approach the world without making assumptions, and if you really want to be truly rational about it you *have* to consciously recognize where you’re making assumptions and keep in mind that those assumptions could be wrong.

              The part in bold there really seems to go up people’s asses sideways. Perhaps because it neatly undercuts the conceit that we atheists are so superior to believers at thinking because we examine our assumptions. Newsflash: Nobody is particularly good at that, but the people who are worst at it are usually the ones loudly protesting that they’re the best because they take personal umbrage when it is pointed out that they have failed to do so, making it an extra (and particularly nasty) psychological barrier to actually confronting the point. It is a curious thing that every time Kessy or anybody else for that matter starts visiting the predominant assumptions here, people get very whiny very fast.

            • http://themikewrites.blogspot.com JohnMWhite

              @Theory_of_I – bully boots? The irony. And I never said you’re not entitled to an opinion, I said the way you expressed it was, to me, overly harsh. Really, this is pathetic. You have not taken long at all to break down into acting like a petulant child. Grow up. Disagreements happen, and sometimes people think in a manner different from yourself. Kessy allegedly moving the goalposts may be irritating but that’s no reason to just drop any attempt at a mature discussion with a third party who doesn’t even have any skin in the game.

              Elemenope hit the nail on the head. There’s a lot of whining going on, and I’m surprised. I thought the folks involved were bigger than that. As an aside, I worry about getting stuck in that rut too, of being so comfortable in my assumptions that I end up becoming swiftly hostile to the slightest challenge and start swiping at everybody who doesn’t automatically agree with the orthodoxy to which I have become accustomed or my assaults on outliers. I do try to look at another viewpoint from time to time, though to be honest the outright bullying of Kessy that I’m seeing creep in around here is pushing my buttons. We’re above that. I hope.

            • Kodie

              I think of myself as someone who has considered a lot of alternate possibilities a long time ago. What I’m not very good at doing is explaining that sufficiently. I don’t think I’m not questioning my assumptions, I’m saying that I did that already, I crossed it off the list; this is not a dream.

              I don’t think this is turning into a fruitful philosophical discussion. I think it’s turning into “whoa dude, how can you know-know anything!?” We’re puny animals with a huge ego about our own species. We’re a lot dumber than we think we are, but we’re capable in part because of the efforts of a few self-selected specialists who actually do compile what information we can gather. I’m a consumer class. That means I use technology without knowing how it’s made or how it works. I’m capable of having a layman’s grasp of how the signals fly through the air, but that doesn’t mean I dreamed it up that it could and sort of gloss over the how in my dream.

              Our imaginations are powerful. What-if’s are a great way to get out of the mud. My concept of time is weird/not weird. Scientists who study it tell me something radically different about time than I perceive. How do I get over that? I don’t know. To some extent, what I think of philosophical things including some religions is the framework. People who are religious organize all their thinking according to a framework. I don’t know if I have a similar framework at all. Am I rejecting god only because it doesn’t fit on my framework? Probably.

              Think about building a house without a plan. You start at the bottom and go up. How do we get to the second floor? Stairs. I feel like I’ve climbed the stairs in this house of “this is just a dream” and it arrived at the second floor landing with no rooms. It wasn’t a long hallway with a lot of rooms to go in, it was a dead end. A wall. Same with god or gods. I find the limitless things that have to be true in order for the first premise to be true to be focused on the imagination. What if we’re in a petri dish? What do bacteria in a petri dish think they are in? They can’t see the big picture. Are you saying we can’t see the big picture? If this is a dream there has to be a reason. If we are studying bacteria in a lab, that is a reason – bacteria unaware, or possibly aware. Paranoid that they are being watched and studied at any time, when really only some of them, some of the time. Like god! Maybe bacteria have organized themselves according to arbitrary rules they think will please the scientist and we are not observing them naturally at all. They are replicating like Duggars out of some misplaced reverence to the scientist, and our job is to smite them all. Well the diseases. And they teach the little cells they are all diseases. If they home-school themselves and replicate like I said, they do everything right in hopes that the human will spare them and bring them home when they die, close to ourselves, the very lucky bacteria do what. They get inside us and make themselves comfortable and try to kill us. Oh well.

              I’m not a scientist obviously. The stairs go nowhere. If you think some of us are separated from the herd to be studied and manipulated by external effects, then what?

            • kessy_athena

              Yanno, Kodie, I basically agree with you – the stairs don’t really go anywhere, solipsism is a dead end, and it’s not a very useful way to look at the world. It’s useful and important to me personally because it’s a great reminder to myself that the world isn’t necessarily anything like the way it seems to me.

              The thing with rationalism is that it’s like loosing weight. If you just go on some fad diet for a while, you’ll probably loose some weight, but you’ll put it back on as soon as you stop. To really and permanently loose the weight, you have to change your lifestyle in a consistent and sustainable way. Rationalism isn’t something you can do once and you’re set for life with better beliefs. It’s something you have to work at everyday, it’s something you really need to change the basic way you approach the world in order to do properly.

              Elemenope referred to the conceit that atheism is superior to Christianity. I think that as a general statement, atheism does tend to be superior to Christianity – certainly to the evangelical fundie sort of Christianity. But – and it’s a big but – to really improve you have to keep working at it, keep questioning things, keep looking behind the curtain. Getting complacent and self satisfied can undo all the progress you’ve made. It’s not easy, and none of us are ever going to be able to do it perfectly, but you can do it better if you put out the effort.

            • Kodie

              I think where we all go wrong is assuming our assumptions are unexamined. I mean each other’s. It’s like when a Christian comes here with some new zinger. Did you ever like to think you’re being watched and someone loves you and answers your prayers and guides you through life and that you have a grand purpose other than just being some bug on a rock? Yeah, I like to think that but it’s not true. Where is this coming from that assumes just because I reject something I haven’t given it enough thought and came out the other side thinking it’s missing a great deal of probability? Of course, where Elemenope comes in and assumes we are taking you at your word and not just shooting the shit here, and that’s true. What I like about Elemenope is that he pinpoints (usually) where the argument has erred and clarifies it. I don’t get that from you, and I don’t see where he sees it in this case.

              It’s doodly noodly to talk about shit like what-if, like Twilight Zone episodes and some other shows that I like to watch because they play with these ideas in an entertaining format. I do think that humans can be a little too self-satisfied how much “we” know, when most people are content to let other people do the knowing for them. One of the things I like to do lately is imagine it’s a long time ago. It’s really hard to do. Whatever I think I know about the past is from movies. It’s dramatic and romanticized, and I can’t wrap my head around an ordinary day in some past era. I have a much clearer picture of an ordinary day in a past era if it has been filmed, like a newsreel. I have one of the most vivid imaginations of anyone I know, and I am known by anyone who knows me to be a chronic overthinker. I may not have read enough books or studied these subjects in school, but I do pay attention to some of my responses when someone says a philosopher said that or I have stumbled upon some Law or Razor or something. It’s almost like we take for granted we can learn from reading, but we can also learn a lot by thinking and exercising our skills at it. I do that. Maybe I fuck it up. Maybe I’m on the wrong course. Maybe I don’t know the right words to describe what I’m thinking about, or convince anyone how well I think I thought it through. Do you need power tools to saw a table in half; do you need to know how to build a fire from two sticks to keep warm? No, and hardly ever; but, it’s quicker, and you never know.

              Last night, I was half-watching an episode of the The Twilight Zone and it just maybe because I wasn’t paying that much attention, just figured it out today. This cowboy murderer gets time-machined to the 1960s and he can’t figure out the jukebox or a television. What kind of technology in 80 years might frighten us? I think it’s weird because he already knew he was in the future and shouldn’t have freaked out. That’s not really the point of that play, but the thing about reality is different than dreams is – could someone from the 1800s have a terrifying nightmare of a picture box with a cowboy in it challenging (what he thinks is) him to a duel and then outdrawing it? My dreams are not that inventive, but an inventor’s might be. A giant ostralligich chasing me is made of two animals that exist, it’s not that far out. While a platypus is kind of fucked up, I’ve seen one in a zoo. Even though I’ve seen a model of a blue whale, I still feel weird that they live in the ocean and how big the ocean really is and how big whales are… I’ve ridden an elephant, but that’s about as big as an animal should be before it starts to be weird, just like small animals (mice and anything smaller) starts to creep me out.

              Anyway, I think reality is real but whacked out. I live on a fucking planet, I’m flying through the universe right now. I don’t think most people really let that sink in. It rains and they get bummed out, they see that star and it’s like a tree, it’s part of the landscape. It’s not really fucking far, and as shadows get long in the afternoon, that’s inside their day, it seems to have detached itself from the ordinary routine of a whole planet. To think this is a dream is to be self-absorbed, inward-looking, hypothesizing that you are wise enough or grand enough to make sure that the earth remembers to turn while all this other shit’s going on. Have you ever stopped the passage of time in a dream? I have stopped the passage of time in a dream because that’s the experience of sleep.

    • http://www.seditiosus.blogspot.com Schaden Freud

      Yeah, I get where that sentence is coming from, but I found it a bit lame too. For a zestier zinger, I’d suggest something more along the lines of “Atheists think. Yep, that’s the difference right there.”

  • FO

    Some religious apologist created the inner frame, mocking the belief that the world has no creator.
    Then some atheist (apologist?) answered with the outer frame, mocking the position of the religious.

    It’s not the same person making both statements.

  • Jer

    This does tie in nicely with the photo from yesterday: “If ur faith is big enough facts dnt count”

  • Michael

    I mean, the joke makes sense–religions like Christianity frequently offer a misplaced sense of certainty, convincing “believers” that they in fact know things they could not possibly know, but obviously most Christians aren’t so certain.

    I suppose there are probably a handful of atheists that claim certain knowledge too, but it’s surely far less common.


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