Who Really is an Atheist?

Is there a God? If so, what is She like?

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Nick_A
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Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Nick_A » Sat May 21, 2016 10:09 pm

What does it mean if both belief and denial are expressions of idolatry? What does it mean to believe and what does it mean to deny if both are based on idolatry? An atheist may be denying God but perhaps they may only be denying an idol. As usual Simone Weil supplies food for thought.
"In order to obey God, one must receive his commands.
How did it happen that I received them in adolescence, while I was professing atheism?
To believe that the desire for good is always fulfilled--that is faith, and whoever has it is not an atheist."
- Simone Weil, First and last notebooks (last notebook 1942)
(Oxford University Press 1970) p 137

"No human being escapes the necessity of conceiving some good outside himself towards which his thought turns in a movement of desire, supplication, and hope. consequently, the only choice is between worshiping the true God or an idol. Every atheist is an idolater--unless he is worshiping the true God in his impersonal aspect. The majority of the pious are idolaters."
- Simone Weil, First and last notebooks (last notebook 1942)
(Oxford University Press 1970) p 308

Simone Weil has observed: "There are two atheisms of which one is a purification of the notion of God."
- William Robert Miller (ed.), The New Christianity (New York: Delacorte Press 1967) p 267; in Paul Schilling,
God in an age of atheism (Abingdon: Nashville 1969) p 17

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sat May 21, 2016 11:01 pm

I'm an atheist, because belief is simply not enough. I do not have to deny something that is inherently stupid.
As an atheist I feel no obligation to defend myself. Atheism is a label for Theists, and exists only whilst they exist.

There is no idolatry, no dogma, no creed.
What there is is summed up in a attitude of skepticism, where all knowledge is contingent on its correspondence with sense and evidence. All the rest is to be treated equally as bunkum: "god", the great pooh-Bah, turtle holding up the earth, the entrails of the liver, divination, astrology, Tarot, ghosts, ghoulies and bogarts. They are in the box of curiosities with the unicorns and the other fairies; of no particular significance.

If I thought you had any kind of a handle on what Simone Weil was trying to say, I'd say more, but I do not consider your post anything more than hot air.

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vegetariantaxidermy
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by vegetariantaxidermy » Sun May 22, 2016 12:51 am

This Simone Weil talks a load of hogwash (or as Hex Hammer would say, 'nonsense and babble').
Hobbes is right, 'atheist' is a label for theists to use. Personally I hate it. I don't see why I should have a special label simply for not believing in superstitious rubbish. It's also meaningless. There are plenty of supposed 'atheists' who believe in all kinds of silly things. The word should be abolished.

Nick_A
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Nick_A » Sun May 22, 2016 1:19 am

As I thought, Hobbes and V only deny from habit. They are like Don Quixote fighting windmills and calling it God. To each his own but that just seems silly.

Dalek Prime
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Dalek Prime » Sun May 22, 2016 2:13 am

I simply don't care if god exists or not. If he does, fuck him. If he doesn't, fuck the rest.

I don't get why you would worship the hand that whips you, or threatens to. You're his whipping boy no matter how you look at it; belief, disbelief, good or naughty. What's left to be frightened about?

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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Skip » Sun May 22, 2016 5:11 am

Nick_A wrote:What does it mean if both belief and denial are expressions of idolatry?
Absolutely nothing, since you haven't defined 'idolatry'. Nor have you [ever, anywhere] demonstrated that belief and denial are in any way similar.
An atheist may be denying God but perhaps they may only be denying an idol.
Or perhaps they may be denying both. Or perhaps they may be rejecting both. Or perhaps none of the above. Or perhaps you have no idea what you and Simone are talking about.

In my case, in case you really want to know who atheists are, it's simply that I'm not buying that ridiculous story... or that one, or that one. Come up with a much more plausible story, and I might consider it.
As I thought, Hobbes and V only deny from habit.
How would you know anything about their habits or motives or beliefs?

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Harbal
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Harbal » Sun May 22, 2016 7:58 am

Nick_A wrote:As I thought, Hobbes and V only deny from habit.
The habit of requiring plausible evidence when being asked to believe something that is counter to logic and common sense seems like a reasonable and useful one to adopt.

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Hobbes' Choice
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Hobbes' Choice » Sun May 22, 2016 8:50 am

Nick_A wrote:As I thought, Hobbes and V only deny from habit. They are like Don Quixote fighting windmills and calling it God. To each his own but that just seems silly.
Windmills exist; the dragons that Don Quixote thought the windmills were, do not exist. You might want to revise your idiotic analogy.
You are saying we are tilting at things that don't exist. You exist but your ridiculous superstition is just that.
Last edited by Hobbes' Choice on Sun May 22, 2016 7:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Nick_A
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Nick_A » Sun May 22, 2016 5:03 pm

DP wrote: I simply don't care if god exists or not. If he does, fuck him. If he doesn't, fuck the rest.

I don't get why you would worship the hand that whips you, or threatens to. You're his whipping boy no matter how you look at it; belief, disbelief, good or naughty. What's left to be frightened about?
I agree that you cannot know if God exists. The question is if you exist and if there is an objective purpose for your existence in the context of a universal purpose? If a reasonable hypothesis can be made to explain this universal purpose of continually transforming substances, then the question becomes our purpose within it. The trouble with blind denial is that it emotionally denies any hypothesis for lack of proof and defines any hypothesis as unreasonable by definition. Blind deniers get satisfaction from the belief that blind denial proves some sort of intellectual superiority. Actually it does the opposite and as Simone Weil suggests, what the blind denier feels in private may really be an objective calling to the source of our existence or the source of the "good.".

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henry quirk
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Post by henry quirk » Sun May 22, 2016 5:36 pm

I don't 'know' if there is or isn't some universe-creatin' supra-natural being, but, if there is, it's awfully damn quiet and uninvolved in the day-to-day.

Mebbe it's sittin' back and watchin' the show, or, mebbe it's off building new universes, or mebbe it's dead, or mebbe it's so damned subtle it's invisible, or mebbe it just doesn't exist.

I don't worry too much about it.

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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Nick_A » Mon May 23, 2016 12:40 am

The trouble with blind belief and blind denial as it relates to God is idolatry; a psychological condition where the idol takes the place of the real. Why this happens is a topic all its own. The antidote for blind belief and blind denial is conscious impartiality or an open mind. If Simone Weil is right in the following only a few will become capable of conscious impartiality. Idolatry is far more satisfying for self serving imagination.
"To believe in God is not a decision we can make. All we can do is decide not to give our love to false gods. In the first place, we can decide not to believe that the future contains for us an all-sufficient good. The future is made of the same stuff as the present....

"...It is not for man to seek, or even to believe in God. He has only to refuse to believe in everything that is not God. This refusal does not presuppose belief. It is enough to recognize, what is obvious to any mind, that all the goods of this world, past, present, or future, real or imaginary, are finite and limited and radically incapable of satisfying the desire which burns perpetually with in us for an infinite and perfect good... It is not a matter of self-questioning or searching. A man has only to persist in his refusal, and one day or another God will come to him."
-- Weil, Simone, ON SCIENCE, NECESSITY, AND THE LOVE OF GOD, edited by Richard Rees, London, Oxford University Press, 1968.- ©

Dalek Prime
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Dalek Prime » Mon May 23, 2016 1:37 am

Nick_A wrote:
DP wrote: I simply don't care if god exists or not. If he does, fuck him. If he doesn't, fuck the rest.

I don't get why you would worship the hand that whips you, or threatens to. You're his whipping boy no matter how you look at it; belief, disbelief, good or naughty. What's left to be frightened about?
I agree that you cannot know if God exists. The question is if you exist and if there is an objective purpose for your existence in the context of a universal purpose? If a reasonable hypothesis can be made to explain this universal purpose of continually transforming substances, then the question becomes our purpose within it. The trouble with blind denial is that it emotionally denies any hypothesis for lack of proof and defines any hypothesis as unreasonable by definition. Blind deniers get satisfaction from the belief that blind denial proves some sort of intellectual superiority. Actually it does the opposite and as Simone Weil suggests, what the blind denier feels in private may really be an objective calling to the source of our existence or the source of the "good.".
So, are you saying I should have no feelings towards existence either way, that I should deny those feelings, or that I have no right to them? That I must accept like a good machine, and that's it? Clearly that's just silly. Please elaborate.

If I don't accept or like the 'objective' purpose of being, who is to tell me that I'm wrong? You? Simone Weil? Really? Who made you two my boss, to tell me how I should view my 'purpose', and to like it or lump it?

Allow me to reiterate. I do not like or accept the life system of the 'creator'. It is my lot that I exist, but I would not, and have not, created another consciousness, that is subject to it. I have no right to choose for another. No one does. (You will of course say, 'but you are choosing "no life" for another', to which I would respond, 'there is no other, so I am choosing for no one, and no one is being impacted by that decision.') And if I don't like the life system, why would I, or should I, like that which created it?

Nick_A
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Nick_A » Mon May 23, 2016 2:42 am

D P wrote: Allow me to reiterate. I do not like or accept the life system of the 'creator'. It is my lot that I exist, but I would not, and have not, created another consciousness, that is subject to it. I have no right to choose for another. No one does. (You will of course say, 'but you are choosing "no life" for another', to which I would respond, 'there is no other, so I am choosing for no one, and no one is being impacted by that decision.') And if I don't like the life system, why would I, or should I, like that which created it?
Of course you believe what you want but what of those who feel the questions of the heart like who am I and why am I here? You can say why bother because apparently you don't feel the questions. A person with questions of the heart and blessed with a critical mind seeks a hypothesis that can explain universal meaning and purpose and Man's position within it. The time tested efforts to "know thyself" can reveal the truth or error of the hypothesis. Efforts to know thyself or have the experience of oneself interfere with the joys of denial so are avoided in favor of condemnation. Not my way. I just feel bad for the young in institutions of child abuse called schools and universities that are forced to endure the negativity of blind denial.

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Greta
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Greta » Mon May 23, 2016 5:00 am

If we ignore labels for a moment and consider behaviours, if someone refers to a deity as "he", or worse, He" then it suggests their ideas have been compromised by theistic traditions.

Logically, why should the ideas of superstitious, uneducated and fairly people of the Middle East during the Iron Age be of special significance? At the time the Chinese and Japanese were streets ahead, but we don't much worry about their uninformed ideas either. It makes no sense to degrade two thousand years of inquiry into the nature of reality by clinging to traditional ideas.

As Richard Dawkins noted, the difference between Christians and atheists is that the latter disbelieves just one fewer god than believers.

Edit: typo
Last edited by Greta on Mon May 23, 2016 1:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Dubious
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Re: Who Really is an Atheist?

Post by Dubious » Mon May 23, 2016 7:20 am

If you say there is no such thing as God since, if not required, it's impossible to explain why it would need to exist then you're not an atheist there being no comparison to theism of any kind. If the statement is modified into I don't believe in God then the message derives from a more negative theistic position which defines that person as atheistic...two levels of negation but they're not the same.

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