Not religious, not atheist

#1
The server crash removed several threads, one of them being the atheism trending discussion. In it we highlighted the in-betweeners: those who are not religious but not atheist either. Some hold to a concept of God not strictly in line with religious orthodoxy while others may believe in an afterlife but not in God.

So here's an interesting article by Stafford Betty which continues that theme:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stafford-betty/the-looming-divorce-between_b_11785808.html

This of course is a highly simplified view of what to expect at and soon after death. It does not say that there is no God, only that God no more interferes in our lives over there than here on earth. Natural laws govern the afterworld just as surely as they do earth. But the Lawgiver does not make the scene in either world.
 
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#2
I feel much more comfortable with this way of looking at things - but I tend to call myself atheist - using the narrow definition of that word.

David
 
#3
One thing which I think should be considered is the power of prayer. Sometimes this is expressed extremely formally. But even the most casual of thoughts can convey power, and most especially those which we dwell upon. In this context prayer doesn't imply a deity in the traditional sense. More, it relates to two things: one, our own individual power - which we are taught to devalue, and two, the force of a collective, our allies if you like, who may choose to honour our wishes in some unexpected way.

Nevertheless I look upon this as very much an experimental science, where our own real lives are the laboratory. The power of prayer may be felt directly and powerfully, this is not just some abstract philosophical diversion.
 
#4
As for the afterlife. There's little to say on that. It just is. There is no dependency upon having lived a certain way, or having followed a certain religion. These concepts are unrelated. The only way they ever became entangled was through some groups attempting to exert political power and creating a fiction that unless one adhered to the political worldview, one would be damned in the next world.

edit: that's not to say it doesn't matter how we live. It does.
 
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#5
As for the afterlife. There's little to say on that. It just is. There is no dependency upon having lived a certain way, or having followed a certain religion. These concepts are unrelated. The only way they ever became entangled was through some groups attempting to exert political power and creating a fiction that unless one adhered to the political worldview, one would be damned in the next world.

edit: that's not to say it doesn't matter how we live. It does.
That seems to be true to an extent. Whilst it does seem to be the case (according to purported communications) that the afterlife is compulsory for everyone, there is evidence in those some communications that there are consequences resulting from the way we live and think - both positive and negative, as you mention in your edit.
 
#6
One thing which I think should be considered is the power of prayer. Sometimes this is expressed extremely formally. But even the most casual of thoughts can convey power, and most especially those which we dwell upon. In this context prayer doesn't imply a deity in the traditional sense. More, it relates to two things: one, our own individual power - which we are taught to devalue, and two, the force of a collective, our allies if you like, who may choose to honour our wishes in some unexpected way.
I agree with you, and disagree totally with the article. The writer's God resembles Richard Dawkins' deity, a technician who created his model and sat back, and is all but irrelevant to the human condition. I think we're in a constant dialogue with the numinous, aspirations and fears being continually projected, moral conscience tested and new ideas and problems introduced. There can be no relationship with the god of the article, so do what you'd do anyway, it'll all turn out just fine is basically the same as having no god. I'm completely atheistic towards that god because there'd be no way of telling his existence from non-existence.

If someone reads an NDE or angelic intervention or whatever, they must be moved to enquire as to the nature of the prime mover, and consequently to our true selves.
 
#7
For the record, I don't agree with the article either - at least I don't agree with the implied binary choice between the God of the scriptures and no God. It is a pity the original thread was lost because those issues were considered in the responses. Nevertheless, the reason I posted the link was for the interesting departure from the familiar atheistic view that no God also means no afterlife. What makes it more interesting still is the recent movement of some towards panpsychism. I happen to share some of Bernardo's reservations about that too, but it is still interesting.
 
#8
By the way - the guy who wrote the blog entry I linked in the previous post - about panpsychism and IIT - might be a good candidate for a Skeptiko interview. Here's his "About Me" text:

Bobby Azarian said:
About me / Contact

I have a Ph.D. in neuroscience from George Mason University, located just outside of Washington, D.C., where I am involved in research in the Visual Attention and Cognition Lab. My work has been published in peer-reviewed journals such as Cognition & Emotion and Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, and I have written for The Atlantic, The New York Times, Scientific American, Slate, and The Daily Beast. I also blog for Psychology Today (Mind in the Machine blog) and The Huffington Post. My primary interests relate to consciousness, cognition, and AI. When insomnia reigns I write and produce music. I am also a big film nerd and an over-the-hill skateboarder. I am currently working on a sci-fi novel that I hope will be completed by 2017. My cat Seymour is my best friend and my yoga-wizard wife is my muse. I see the universe as a very spiritual place, as it appears to be programmed to generate complexity, life, and inevitably, mind. In the spirit of Albert Einstein, I believe that “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It should transcend personal God and avoid dogma and theology. Covering both the natural and the spiritual, it should be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things natural and spiritual as a meaningful unity.”
 
#9
For the record, I don't agree with the article either - at least I don't agree with the implied binary choice between the God of the scriptures and no God. It is a pity the original thread was lost because those issues were considered in the responses. Nevertheless, the reason I posted the link was for the interesting departure from the familiar atheistic view that no God also means no afterlife. What makes it more interesting still is the recent movement of some towards panpsychism. I happen to share some of Bernardo's reservations about that too, but it is still interesting.
Any approach has to be more compelling than materialism, which seems to be a hangover from Victorian times. It's a steampunk philosophy for people who haven't worked out that Frankenstein was meant to be a nightmare vision, not a scientific template, and the doctor was mad, not a role model for scientific enquiry.
I can understand why a literalist reading of the old testament would alienate the reader, but it's clearly a mix of law, poetics, prophecy and history, not a text book, and an abandonment of a deity based on such a reading has always seemed absurd to me. One does not tear up a volume of poetry because it lacks peer review or Harvard referencing. Those omissions do not mean it lacks truth.
The rejection of the word God has reached farcical proportions, and one is forced to ask why that might be. I think it's for a number of reasons, but mainly because the enthrallment with scientific materialism became so complete in the C20th, that an Orwellian lexicon of banned words took hold, one in which NDEs, apparitions and other widely attested phenomena had nowhere to go. This de-voicing is nowhere more manifest than in the common description of universal and perfect mind, still the most likely of ontological primitives in my view. I respect the view of others who confront the hurdle head on, but not people who avoid it because they claim it isn't there.
 
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#10
The rejection of the word God has reached farcical proportions, and one is forced to ask why that might be.
In my case, although I don't reject the word, it most certainly means something different to me than it would to a biblical literalist. As for the bible itself - especially the Old Testament - I think it contains a wealth of teaching only if and when it is NOT taken literally. Mythical symbolism and allegory are for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.

Matthew 13 said:
16 But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.
17 For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.
Ezekiel 12:2 said:
“Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not, for they are a rebellious house.
 
#11
In my case, although I don't reject the word, it most certainly means something different to me than it would to a biblical literalist. As for the bible itself - especially the Old Testament - I think it contains a wealth of teaching only if and when it is NOT taken literally. Mythical symbolism and allegory are for those with eyes to see and ears to hear.
Without wishing to valorise or demonise the good old days, my impression is people were more in touch with the turning year of nature, their intuition, and ultimately themselves, than is the case today. When people judge their value by whether they own the latest iPhone, they are in no position to condemn the demands or constraints of scripture. Men of my father's generation, people who left school for work at the age of 14, could freely quote poetry and scripture. Now such insight would be the preserve of academics and theologians. Scientism sought to replace the numinous wholesale, and the current tentative though inevitable recognition of it is pleasing to see, no matter how clunky the language.
 
#12
I myself tend to not use the word God much, particularly online, but a lot of that is just personal to me. For example, when I was brought up, one would not address or refer to one's mother or father by first name, that would be taking a liberty reserved only for adults. It seemed perhaps that the word 'God' was rarely uttered in our home for similar reasons. I find it especially distasteful when certain types of preachers punctuate their speech with such usages, rather than emphasising the importance it seems to turn it into so much discarded litter of no consequence.

In online discussions I feel torn in different directions, if I use the word God there is a risk of being misunderstood, and if I decline to mention God then perhaps there is a greater risk of being misunderstood - one can't expect the reader to infer something which was not explicitly stated. I do tend on this forum to use various wordings which skirt around the issue, sometimes because that is indeed what I intended to express, and others to avoid alienating some readers who may be just tentatively exploring what is visible as they slowly raise their head and peep over the horizon of materialism. To me it can be counter-productive at times to having a meaningful dialogue, if the impression is given that the only alternative to materialism is to be a fully-committed member of some religion or other.
 
#13
I myself tend to not use the word God much, particularly online, but a lot of that is just personal to me. For example, when I was brought up, one would not address or refer to one's mother or father by first name, that would be taking a liberty reserved only for adults. It seemed perhaps that the word 'God' was rarely uttered in our home for similar reasons. I find it especially distasteful when certain types of preachers punctuate their speech with such usages, rather than emphasising the importance it seems to turn it into so much discarded litter of no consequence.

In online discussions I feel torn in different directions, if I use the word God there is a risk of being misunderstood, and if I decline to mention God then perhaps there is a greater risk of being misunderstood - one can't expect the reader to infer something which was not explicitly stated. I do tend on this forum to use various wordings which skirt around the issue, sometimes because that is indeed what I intended to express, and others to avoid alienating some readers who may be just tentatively exploring what is visible as they slowly raise their head and peep over the horizon of materialism. To me it can be counter-productive at times to having a meaningful dialogue, if the impression is givens so that the only alternative to materialism is to be a fully-committed member of some religion or other.
I've always considered the word "God" as a title rather than a name per se. I agree with you about being careful how to use it as it is so loaded, and in different ways for different folk.

On the other hand apparently some kids thought gods name was Harold:

Our Father Who Art In Heaven,
Harold be they name.
 
#14
I myself tend to not use the word God much, particularly online, but a lot of that is just personal to me. For example, when I was brought up, one would not address or refer to one's mother or father by first name, that would be taking a liberty reserved only for adults. It seemed perhaps that the word 'God' was rarely uttered in our home for similar reasons. I find it especially distasteful when certain types of preachers punctuate their speech with such usages, rather than emphasising the importance it seems to turn it into so much discarded litter of no consequence.

In online discussions I feel torn in different directions, if I use the word God there is a risk of being misunderstood, and if I decline to mention God then perhaps there is a greater risk of being misunderstood - one can't expect the reader to infer something which was not explicitly stated. I do tend on this forum to use various wordings which skirt around the issue, sometimes because that is indeed what I intended to express, and others to avoid alienating some readers who may be just tentatively exploring what is visible as they slowly raise their head and peep over the horizon of materialism. To me it can be counter-productive at times to having a meaningful dialogue, if the impression is given that the only alternative to materialism is to be a fully-committed member of some religion or other.
It can be an issue, I agree. Even though I self identify as a Christian, if I typed Christian forum into a search engine and posted on the basis of assumed commonality, I'd be disappointed by the approach and the conclusions of the responders. On the other hand if a public figure used the word God, formally or informally, whatever their religious affiliation and no matter how I much I disagreed with their application of that belief, I think we'd be talking about roughly the same thing. On the other hand when an atheist uses the word god, despite their claimed rejection of any and all manifestations of that term, I assume (in the light of experience) they mean an uncompromising and figuratively exhaustive depiction of Judeo-Christian iconography. As one cannot debate with an idea based on a fresco derived from a study of a hard up and elderly Florentine, nor on one who tricks desert fathers into (almost) killing their first born son, the dialogue is doomed to failure. That should not put the idea of universal mind, even a deeply embedded and human shaped deity, permanently off the menu.
 
#15
I agree with you, and disagree totally with the article. The writer's God resembles Richard Dawkins' deity, a technician who created his model and sat back, and is all but irrelevant to the human condition. I think we're in a constant dialogue with the numinous, aspirations and fears being continually projected, moral conscience tested and new ideas and problems introduced. There can be no relationship with the god of the article, so do what you'd do anyway, it'll all turn out just fine is basically the same as having no god. I'm completely atheistic towards that god because there'd be no way of telling his existence from non-existence.

If someone reads an NDE or angelic intervention or whatever, they must be moved to enquire as to the nature of the prime mover, and consequently to our true selves.
That definition you attribute to him is not his idea. It predates him by a few hundred years.
 
#16
That definition you attribute to him is not his idea. It predates him by a few hundred years.
I'm not sure what point you are trying to make but I'm assuming the "him" you are talking about is Dawkins. I think Gabriel is rightly pointing out that some of the more aggressive atheists target a God that only they and the religious fundamentalists seem to imagine. When Dawkins did his TV shows on religion, he concentrated his attack on this simplistic Old Testament, hell-fire and brimstone Jehova figure and those who worship such a God. So, instead of seeking out a broad consensus of religious thinkers, he found TV evangelists and the like. The easy targets.

You see a similar thing happening with TV comedy shows. Family Guy is one of my favourite shows but Seth Macfarlane often uses it as a vehicle for his atheism with parodies of God and Jesus. That's fine to a point: those concepts of God in the clouds with a long white beard need to be parodied but it is unfair to suggest that all religious people believe in that imagery. There are other examples: Ned Flanders in The Simpsons and Kenneth in 30 Rock. Fundamentalists who believe in the rapture and hell for all who have not been "saved by Jesus". Being non-religious myself, I am not personally offended by such parodies but I would guess that many religious people who, like Gabriel, think a little deeper about the God they believe in, are somewhat tired of being portrayed as mindless imbeciles.
 
#17
I'm not sure what point you are trying to make but I'm assuming the "him" you are talking about is Dawkins. I think Gabriel is rightly pointing out that some of the more aggressive atheists target a God that only they and the religious fundamentalists seem to imagine. When Dawkins did his TV shows on religion, he concentrated his attack on this simplistic Old Testament, hell-fire and brimstone Jehova figure and those who worship such a God. So, instead of seeking out a broad consensus of religious thinkers, he found TV evangelists and the like. The easy targets.

You see a similar thing happening with TV comedy shows. Family Guy is one of my favourite shows but Seth Macfarlane often uses it as a vehicle for his atheism with parodies of God and Jesus. That's fine to a point: those concepts of God in the clouds with a long white beard need to be parodied but it is unfair to suggest that all religious people believe in that imagery. There are other examples: Ned Flanders in The Simpsons and Kenneth in 30 Rock. Fundamentalists who believe in the rapture and hell for all who have not been "saved by Jesus". Being non-religious myself, I am not personally offended by such parodies but I would guess that many religious people who, like Gabriel, think a little deeper about the God they believe in, are somewhat tired of being portrayed as mindless imbeciles.
Dawkins shouldn't get blamed for everything. He did not invent Deism.
I don't feel any sympathy for certain religious persons. It used to be in the USA, an atheist is right down there with pedophilia on the reviled scale. It maybe has improved somewhat, but not much I think. Believe me, there are mindless imbeciles and that's not exclusive to religion. Keep in mind there has been a centuries old tradition of and continues to be religious based atrocities against those that have a different faith or no faith. A little sarcasm at religion is fair.
 
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#18
I'm not sure what point you are trying to make but I'm assuming the "him" you are talking about is Dawkins. I think Gabriel is rightly pointing out that some of the more aggressive atheists target a God that only they and the religious fundamentalists seem to imagine. When Dawkins did his TV shows on religion, he concentrated his attack on this simplistic Old Testament, hell-fire and brimstone Jehova figure and those who worship such a God. So, instead of seeking out a broad consensus of religious thinkers, he found TV evangelists and the like. The easy targets.

You see a similar thing happening with TV comedy shows. Family Guy is one of my favourite shows but Seth Macfarlane often uses it as a vehicle for his atheism with parodies of God and Jesus. That's fine to a point: those concepts of God in the clouds with a long white beard need to be parodied but it is unfair to suggest that all religious people believe in that imagery. There are other examples: Ned Flanders in The Simpsons and Kenneth in 30 Rock. Fundamentalists who believe in the rapture and hell for all who have not been "saved by Jesus". Being non-religious myself, I am not personally offended by such parodies but I would guess that many religious people who, like Gabriel, think a little deeper about the God they believe in, are somewhat tired of being portrayed as mindless imbeciles.
The number of people who believe in the judeochristian god of the old and New Testament/Koran. The deities you call simplistic are believed in by millions (billions maybe?) of who you call mindless imbeciles. They far outweigh the number of people who believe in the more nuanced - and relatively benign - versions. They are they ones who cause the problems that formed the impetus for the new atheist movement. If they had al been desists or idealists there never would have been a new atheist movement. Why wouldn't Dawkins focus primarily on the problem deities, representing the majority?

Don't folks on this forum do the same thing? There are plenty of skeptics, atheists and the like with moderate nuanced views but who gets all the attention here?
 
#19
The number of people who believe in the judeochristian god of the old and New Testament/Koran. The deities you call simplistic are believed in by millions (billions maybe?) of who you call mindless imbeciles. They far outweigh the number of people who believe in the more nuanced - and relatively benign - versions. They are they ones who cause the problems that formed the impetus for the new atheist movement. If they had al been desists or idealists there never would have been a new atheist movement. Why wouldn't Dawkins focus primarily on the problem deities, representing the majority?

Don't folks on this forum do the same thing? There are plenty of skeptics, atheists and the like with moderate nuanced views but who gets all the attention here?
As usual, you deliberately misrepresent my words for the sake of creating an argument. That is your game, Arouet, and I refuse to play. I did not say, nor imply, that the majority are mindless imbeciles. As you can well see, I was referring to the TV caricatures. Dawkins chooses to target those extremes. I have known many religious people, hardly any of whom believed in a fire-licked hell or being one of the chosen few to be raised to heaven in the rapture.
 
#20
The number of people who believe in the judeochristian god of the old and New Testament/Koran. The deities you call simplistic are believed in by millions (billions maybe?) of who you call mindless imbeciles. They far outweigh the number of people who believe in the more nuanced - and relatively benign - versions. They are they ones who cause the problems that formed the impetus for the new atheist movement. If they had al been desists or idealists there never would have been a new atheist movement. Why wouldn't Dawkins focus primarily on the problem deities, representing the majority?

Don't folks on this forum do the same thing? There are plenty of skeptics, atheists and the like with moderate nuanced views but who gets all the attention here?
In other words it's the socially conservative Christians that willfully put themselves in the atheists gunsights by condemning everyone that does not see the world exactly as they do.
 
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