Message-ID: <17164@pasteur.Berkeley.EDU> firstname.lastname@example.org (Carl Johnson):
>In article <124593@sun.Eng.Sun.COM> perryc@sun.UUCP (Perry Cross) writes
>>In article <4572@cps3xx.UUCP> cook@cpsvax.UUCP (Tom Cook) writes:
>>>The fact that there are religions without gods does not imply that atheism
>>>is a religion.
>>Maybe I'm missing the point but religion is essentially your belief system
>>with some morality and such rapped around it.
>There is no universal morality inherent in being atheist. Atheists can have
>the same morals as the most devout Christian, or the same morals as the most
The more I hear from other atheists, the more I think that there are at
least as many brands of atheism as there are atheists. One of the best
definitions of atheism that I've heard yet is that it describes all of
the lifestyles and philosophies which, though they may be very different
from each other, do not contain certain aspects; namely belief in the
supernatural or religion.
> Atheism is a simple denial of the notion of God. (I
>haven't seen a definition that refers all gods.)
By this, I assume you mean that you reject the christian god. There are
many, myself included, who categorically reject the notion of *any* god,
be it the christian, zoroastrian, amerind, or any other supernatural
critter, be it "God in nature" or a personal deity. The basis for this
atheistic stance is primarily epistomological.
> ...The rest of my beliefs can go from here to there and can
>include such notions as life-after-death, an all-powerful creator of man
>but very different from God), the Big Bang, black holes, gravitons, cold
As for myself, I have problems with the concept of "belief" itself.
Belief being the acceptance of a proposition as truth in the absence of
any supporting evidence. I don't "believe" in science, its principles
can be demonstrated, hence I accept them. Big Bang, black holes, and
other scientific constructs are presented as theories, not absolute fact,
so I am willing to hold them as possible insofar as the theory seems
plausible. I try to adopt this view as consistently as possible; my
atheism nor my operative philosophy contain "beliefs" at all.
>>Bertrand Russell was an agnostic. That was his belief system.
>Belief system". That sounds like an attempted definition of "religion"
>Would believing the laws of physics, since that would be a system of
>beliefs, make "Physicism" a religion?
If one accepted the laws and theories of physics without evidence, solely on
the basis of authority, then this particular mindset is *very* similar to
religion. The only essential difference between religion and "Physicism"
would be the particular subject matter.
>>Belief is accorded in proportion to the evidence.
>I've always heard that agnosticism was the belief that the existence of God
>can never be proven. Correct me if I'm wrong.
Close enough. Agnosticism holds that the idea that not only is the
existence of god unknowable, but if god does exist, then this god is also
unknowable. Note how close this is to many religious doctrines
of the "unknowability" of god. In regards to belief, it is my opinion
that if evidence is available, no belief is necessary at all (see above)
>>Russell said this, I'm para- phrasing him. Intellectually I'm an agnostic,
>>emotionally I'm an atheist. This is my religion, these are my beliefs.
>Ah, proof by authority. An atheist says atheism is a religion so that
>proves it is. Better to get the definition of "religion" and "atheist" and
>see if they can be made to fit.
Having just finished "Why I Am Not a Christian" and other essays by
Russell (edited by Paul Edwards), I'd say that Russell was merely using
these terms to make his position more understandable to a wide audience.
He certainly shares none of the underlying philosophical assumptions
necessary for religious belief, in the normal sense. I agree with Carl--
too many people use the term "religion" in a fast and free manner to
describe many things which are not truly religion, often in attempt to
achieve semantically that which they cannot achieve rationally. This
quote is not proof - not because it is an appeal to authority, but
because it is nothing more than a figure of speech.
>>I study other religions, somewhat, and have found no organized format to
>>my liking. I'm looking forward to the study of Buddhism, but cannot call
>>this my religion, yet. What do you think?
Most interesting. Why bother looking for a set of beliefs when you are
already using some standard of judgement in deciding which one is to your
"liking"? As Bertrand Russell said, this leads to "a theology based on ethics,
rather than ethics based on theology". Perhaps he should thoroughly examine
this underlying ethic before attempting to overload it with supernatural
beliefs of any kind.