BEEP! BEEP! IT'S ME.

"Begin at the beginning,and go on till you come to the end: then stop." (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1896)

Alice came to a fork in the road. "Which road do I take?" she asked."Where do you want to go?" responded the Cheshire cat."I don't know," Alice answered."Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter."

"So long as I get somewhere," Alice added as an explanation. "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."

"All right," said the Cat; and this time it vanished quite slowly, beginning with the end of the tail, and ending with the grin, which remained some time after the rest of it had gone. "Well! I've often seen a cat without a grin," thought Alice; "but a grin without a cat! It's the most curious thing I ever saw in my life!"

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I am diagonally parked in a parallel universe. Like Arthur Dent from "Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy", if you do not have a Babel Fish in your ear this blog will be completely unintelligible to you and will read something like this: "boggle, google, snoggle, slurp, slurp, dingleberry to the power of 10". Fortunately, those who have had the Babel Fish inserted in their ear, will understood this blog perfectly. If you are familiar with this technology, you will know that the Babel Fish lives on brainwave radiation. It excretes energy in the form of exactly the correct brainwaves needed by its host to understand what was just said; or in this case, what was read. The Babel Fish, thanks to scientific research, reverses the problem defined by its namesake in the Tower of Babel, where a deity was supposedly inspired to confuse the human race by making them unable to understand each other.

"DIFFICILE EST SATURAM NON SCRIBERE"

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Tu Quoque Fallacy: Or Atheism is a Religion Too.

~*~
I am going to start a series of posts which just involve a few lines of either my own thoughts on a specific subject, or a few lines of someone else's thoughts on various subjects. Comments are welcomed.

My understanding is that a religion would require an explicitly stated set of beliefs. There is no explicitly stated set of beliefs for someone who calls themself an atheist. However, if someone calls themselves a 1. Materialist 2. Naturalist 3. Existentialist 4. Humanist 5. Secular humanist - it could be argued that these philosophies display an explicit set of beliefs.

Would the evidence of explicitly stated beliefs mean that these philosophies were a religion? For that you would need to be able to demonstrate how a philosophy differs from a religion, or more pertinently, how it doesn't differ. Off the top of my head, I would suggest that a philosophy involves itself with arguments primarily based in reason and that a religion involves itself in arguments primarily based in faith.

Faith, in this context means that regardless of the argumentation or the processes used, that the argument would not under any circumstance change the position of the person of faith. Faith, in this sense, is an unwavering belief, which is not ameliorated or mitigated in the light of new or contradictory evidence or information. Secular humanists, materialists, naturalists or philosophers do not have "faith" of this nature. They may endorse a variety of beliefs, but those beliefs are open to review and to change in light of evidence to the contrary.



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28 Comments:

Anonymous remy said...

You're right of course.

What irritates me the most when dealing with theists is their belief that faith and belief are synonyms.

29/5/07 10:42 am  
Blogger confused, maybe not said...

Faith is not the foundation of religion, although many Christians and anti-Christians claim it is. Faith is sometimes part of a religion, but not always. It is a philosophical issue of Abrhamic religions, mostly for Chritianity. The criterion to use in determining if 'it' is a religion is: Are symbols used and appreciated or valued through rituals that both pattern one's behavior and distinguishe the sacred (be it literature or space) from the profane or that which is ordinary. With this critierion, it's clear that Atheism is not a religion, nor is humanism in and of itself. It's a philosophical orientation and/or set of beliefs that are sometimes religious, such as on hippy communes where humanism is practiced in sacred ways. I think that's right, I've actually only been to one hippy commune and it was quite religious and I was an outcast, partly 'cause I showed up really high and they were anti-body poisons, which surprised me, I thought I might get a bag there. But I really became profane when I told my friend that I didn't want to stay the night. I don't remember if I stayed the night or not. I just remember yoga man sitting next to me, often staring at me, but never speaking to me, and then moving as if every joint were doubled. I was impressed.

29/5/07 11:12 am  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

I think it doesn't MATTER if scientific materialism, existentialism, secular humanism, or whatever brand of atheism a person ascribes to is a "religion" or not. I think that's a dodge.

It doesn't matter what one calls one's beliefs, what matters is what those believes are, what they mean, and why a person believes in them.

It MATTERS that scientific materialism is based on our perceptions and reason, on verifiability and fallibility, and is a network of ideas, techniques and technology that is always increasing in accuracy, predictive power and technological consequences. It MATTERS that religion is an unproven, unprovable group or beliefs with no connection to any other field of human reasoning (except through torturous reasoning) that is posited on a book demonstrably written in history. The first is reasonable, the second is literally psychotic, believing in sky pixies, invisible fairies and Santa Claus.

29/5/07 11:40 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

confused

RE: "Faith is not the foundation of religion, although many Christians and anti-Christians claim it is."

It takes faith to believe that there is a god or that there are many gods.

29/5/07 12:33 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

chris

RE: "I think it doesn't MATTER if scientific materialism, existentialism, secular humanism, or whatever brand of atheism a person ascribes to is a "religion" or not. I think that's a dodge."

I think it is a dodge too, or more specifically a The Tu Quoque Fallacy.

But I also think it is important to have an idea of what a religion is and what it is not - and what a philosophy is and what it is not.

29/5/07 12:38 pm  
Blogger Dikkii said...

I don't normally consider acupuncture and feng shui to be religions, even though their arguments are totally not based in reason but in, for want of a better word, faith.

I do normally consider, though, confucianism to be a religion, even though it doesn't really present arguments based in annything other than observation.

Hard question, really.

29/5/07 4:46 pm  
Blogger Plonka said...

I have to agree with Chris. Religion is really nothing much more than organised insanity.

If I'm the only person to hold an unfounded belief and expound upon it's virtues, I'm considered mad. If I'm one person among millions that hold an unfounded belief and expound upon it's virtues, I'm considered pious. If I call for proof, I'm considered a heretic. It's madness...

29/5/07 11:46 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it interesting that most on this site seem to define religion from a Protestant orientation, where faith and grace are the cornerstones. If we are going to say that Confucianism and Protestantism are religions - what is that they share? Or, what about these two vast traditions resemble one another that enables us to categorize them under the same topic, religion?

30/5/07 2:32 am  
Anonymous confused, maybe not said...

The above message is from confused, maybe not.

30/5/07 2:33 am  
Blogger Larro said...

The quandary really lies with one vast ideological barrier.

When people of faith ascertain that said faith IS reason or IS perfectly reasonable and rational. Thus denying that faith is in fact not based upon reasonable imperical evidence.

I guess that what I'm getting at is that faith for the faithful is indeed the foundation of ones reality. And that ones belief is evidence enough.

Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a different dimension sometimes. Trying to wrestle with the concept of the "faith" thing.

It's as if everybody lives in a different "reality". When there really is only one.

30/5/07 6:31 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

confused

RE: "I find it interesting that most on this site seem to define religion from a Protestant orientation, where faith and grace are the cornerstones."

I think that faith is the cornerstone of most religions. I don't know how one comes to the conclusion that there is a god/gods or a supernatural world WITHOUT faith.

RE: "If we are going to say that Confucianism and Protestantism are religions - what is that they share?"

This is where it gets really interesting as the majority of people have quite different ideas of what a philosophy is and what a religion is. Neither atheists nor theists seem to agree on this issue but I can tell you where I think they differ.

As far as I am concerned a religion has belief in a supernatural existence/world/entity - something which cannot be empirically proven and which requires faith.

30/5/07 9:44 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

larro

RE: "It's as if everybody lives in a different "reality". When there really is only one."

Yes, it is disconcerting. It often seems that people are arguing for their own reality. As if we are all little islands existing in our own worlds and in some ways we are - but the world remains what it is, it is only our individual interpretations of it that may differ.

30/5/07 9:48 am  
Blogger Krystalline Apostate said...

If we are going to say that Confucianism and Protestantism are religions - what is that they share? Or, what about these two vast traditions resemble one another that enables us to categorize them under the same topic,
Ahem - Confucianism is most definitely NOT a religion. They both share a penchant for rules, but that's about it.

30/5/07 10:53 am  
Anonymous confused, maybe not said...

Beep, I have three problems with your comment for me. One, your definition privileges theory over praxis, which is a very Hellenic-Christian orientation. Many traditions privilege praxis over theory or faith. Your definition is Abrahamic in a Christian sense. Judaism, for example, privileges praxis over faith. Belief in God is secondary to ethical action for the other who stands before one. The discourse assumes action will produce faithfulness, (not necessarily faith), but if it doesn't produce faithfulness, one is still responsible for the other. This responsibility is the foundation, so to speak. Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not have a theo-logos, theology. So, your definition of religion excludes Judaism, not to mention Buddhism, which generally does not believe in a higher power, at least in the Abrahamic sense, not to mention it also privileges praxis over faith or theory. Two, you are focused on the issue of "knowing that" something is as oppossed to "knowing how", which is an issue of praxis. Buddhism is more centered around issues of "know how." Three, a majority of scholars agree on the criterion used to determine if something is a religion. The criterion does not include the philosophical issue of God's existence. In my previous post, I listed the criterion.

30/5/07 10:53 am  
Anonymous confused, maybe not said...

Beep, one more thing. Practicing Christians, most notably Protestants, generally privilege faith and grace as the foundation of religion. But scholars do not privilege this in evaluating whether a lifestyle constitutes a religion. They look at the way of life. I hope my tone is not perceived as harsh, for I am writing with a smile, and debating whether or not to have a drink. ;-)
just kidding.

30/5/07 11:01 am  
Blogger Dikkii said...

Beep, you wrote:

As far as I am concerned a religion has belief in a supernatural existence/world/entity - something which cannot be empirically proven and which requires faith.

I have to say I agree with Confused on this - I do not consider acupuncture and feng shui to be religions which they would be under the definition you've described above, even if they have a cult-like following.

But I can tell that no one will agree on this - I've always considered religions to require some kind of stipulations on how one lives one's life.

Given that I consider confucianism to be a religion, I consider the supernatural part to be optional.

30/5/07 1:00 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

confused

At the heart of Judaism, Islam and Christianity is a belief in the existence of a supernatural being or entity which is called god.

The majority of dynamics which are refered to as religions, have this belief in a supernatural world or a supernatural element as part of their core belief.

Example:

Religion: - a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/religion

30/5/07 6:09 pm  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

The American Heritage Dictionary also defines religion in this way: -

a.Belief in and reverence for a supernatural power or powers regarded as creator and governor of the universe.
b.A personal or institutionalized system grounded in such belief and worship.

30/5/07 6:13 pm  
Blogger Chris Bradley said...

Confucianism isn't much of a religion. It urges people to be religious as necessary for a well-ordered society, but that's true of a lot of Western thinking, too. As far as I know, there is nothing supernatural in Confucianism; even being religious is not for supernatural reasons, to my recollection, but because it makes a better society. Confucius comes off to me as deeply terrified of change and (this is interpretation) would rather nothing change and risk the convulsions of change for some dubious benefit.

But, a religion? Uh, no.

31/5/07 3:06 am  
Anonymous confused, maybe not said...

beep, i wouldn't rely on the dictionary for a definition of religion, not to mention the definitions suffer from a christian bias. Judaism does believe in a god, but faith THAT THERE IS A GOD is not the foundation of judaism. Faith THAT THERE IS A GOD is the foundation for Christianity. I suggest reading other sources besides the dictionary for your religious definitions or understandings.

31/5/07 4:43 am  
Anonymous confused, maybe not said...

Beep said:

"Religion: - a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

Judaism and Buddhism do not theologize the nature of the universe. although, judaism does explain that it is created by god. like christianity, judaism describes god's actions in human terms, but unlike christianity it does not pretend to 'know' god or what god is. it's a pretty clever move. this is one reason why most, although not all, orthodox jews have no problem with evolutionary theory. buddhism would suggest the belief in a creator is a delusion.

The following part of the definition is right on the money and articulates what I wrote above.
Notice the lack of universals in the following, but when it comes to ritual, it states it as an absolute. it's important to not confuse routine with ritual, though.

religion is something "involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."

beep, admit it, your dislike of theism is not strictly about evidence. you're genetically disposed to distrusting theism. ;-)

31/5/07 4:51 am  
Anonymous confused, maybe not said...

if anyone wants to see how the world was created, i recommend watching the following videos with mr. deity.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dzuxyq3ltls&mode=related&search=

31/5/07 6:39 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

confused

So, you are saying that when Moses received the commandments on the mount from god, that the jews did not have faith that this god existed and they did not have faith that Moses had been given these commandments from this god.

Interesting.

31/5/07 10:34 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

confused

I am no more genetically predisposed to distrusting theism than you are genetically predisposed to hack off a bit of your penis. :)

I find it funny that theists want to equivocate about what a religion is - I can only guess that they want to include as many philosophies and academic studies as possible in order to make their particular belief systems not appear as silly.

Hence, many of them wish to call science a religion as science as the study of processes of the natural world has intellectual respectability. Perhaps they hope to gain some of this academic respectability by falsely associating their peculiar brand of mumbo jumbo with an academic study which actually makes sense.

31/5/07 10:43 am  
Anonymous confused, maybe not said...

beep said:

"So, you are saying that when Moses received the commandments on the mount from god, that the jews did not have faith that this god existed and they did not have faith that Moses had been given these commandments from this god."

two things. one, if you assume, which i do not, that god gave the jews the commandments (meaning god gave them and the jews received them), it does not make sense to say that they have "faith that" there is a god anymore than it makes sense to say that you have "faith that" you are reading what i wrote. for the jews, assuming your assumption is right, the issue is whether they would be faithful to god or not, not that god exists, just as i do not debate my parents existence, but we may debate whether i am faithful to their values. two, in your critique or defense of your claims, you committ the genetic fallacy of confusing the origin of a tradition with the value of the tradition. the foundation of judaism is no longer that moment at sinai, it is the traditions that were and are built from that moment. and the root of the tradition is responsibility for the other. now, an orthodox jew would say that's because god commanded such responsibility, which feeds your line of reasoning, but not even such food would sustain the orthodox jew, for in the end it comes down to action for the other, not whether god exists. in fact, a rabbinic saying found in the talmud(the jewish oral bible which is almost two thousand years old) basically says, give me one who is responsible for the other while not believing in god over one who believes and does nothing. and yes, beep, if you're thinking it's because doing right will reveal god, your right, but i refuse to conceed that believing that there is a god is the foundation of judaism, but it would be wrong to say it's not part of the mortar, which i guess is why one might say i am unglued. that is my genetic assertioin, not to mention that no one with a blade is coming near my penis. :-)

1/6/07 5:59 am  
Anonymous confused, maybe not said...

one more thing, which makes it three. three, and genetically speaking ;-), christianity emphasizes faith, whereas judaism, like buddhism and native american traditions, emphasize conduct. it's pragmatic. for example, if one does not believe, does that mean one is off the hook with judaic responsibility for the other, or buddhist compassion for the one who (or all) who suffer, or the native american care for the environment? wouldn't it be it would be odd if i said to the old woman who needs help crossing the street, "i can't help you, for i don't have the right belief or motive. you're on your own, lady!" that's the weakness of many christian understandings, where faith, grace and salvation are what matters, for if the right motive is not there, it's not considered an ethical act. but that's a greek orientation, which privileges right thinking or virtue before action.

1/6/07 6:09 am  
Anonymous confused, maybe not said...

"it does not make sense to say that they have "faith that" there is a god anymore than it makes sense to say that you have "faith that" you are reading what i wrote."

I forgot to say that if they are receiving something, such as commands, from god, it follows that god is there giving them, which would make it odd to say - in such a circumstance - that one has faith that the giver is there, just as it would be weird for you to say that you believe you are reading these words on the page.

1/6/07 6:48 am  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

cinfused,

I recognize that judaism is a religion of laws. One needs to have faith that these laws stem from god. Hence one has to have faith in the existence of god.

Thousands of jews do not pray at the wailing wall because they do not have faith in the existence of god.

1/6/07 10:23 am  

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