What DO Atheists Believe?

JB Monteverde Says:

I have no issue with someone who does not believe in G_d. I do not think that one should be forced, pressured, coerced, or even convinced to believe one way or another.

But I would like to know what atheists DO believe in. What do you have FAITH in.

I hear a constant prevailing theme and tone in these blogs and from other sites for atheists and atheists I have spoken with, personally, that does, however, ridicule other peoples’ beliefs and faiths. And THAT attack-mode stance and mentality does much to diminish the validity of atheists’ position in my eyes. I have belief and faith and know what I know, yet I never feel the need to bolster my position by negating somebody else’s belief.

Personally I think it is ridiculous to waste one’s time looking for “evidence”. I have never associated the concept of “evidence” with any aspect of my spirituality. To me, a truly spiritual person just “GETS” the concept of faith.

I feel that if one can reach a point of true spirituality and faith and all the enrichment that those qualities bring to a life, without a belief in anything beyond mortal man and earthly material-world evidence, then that is just as valid as anyone elses belief or mindset.

I do not want to know why you don’t believe in G_d. What I would like to know, is what IS your belief system. What consoles you, teaches you, counsels you, sustains you in troubled times. Is there anything more important than you? Is there anything beyond you? I am asking this quite sincerely. By the way, I do know that who ever answers this is just probably speaking for themself, since i don’t think the atheist non-church has elected their pope yet….LOL

Thanks for your time. —-JB

21 Responses to What DO Atheists Believe?

  1. The Atheist says:

    JB,

    Thanks for stopping by! I’ll do my best to answer your questions and to respond to your comments:

    I do know that who ever answers this is just probably speaking for themself, since i don’t think the atheist non-church has elected their pope yet….LOL

    You are exactly right! The best I can do is to speak for myself. Even so, I’ll at least offer you a single data point: my personal point of view, so here goes…

    But I would like to know what atheists DO believe in. What do you have FAITH in.

    Let me first point out that we use the word, faith, in a few different ways. One way is simple, every-day belief. An example of this simple, every-day faith is: I believe that my car is still parked where I left it. Then there is faith in a person: I believe in my wife – I believe she will not let me down. Then there is the Faith (capital “F”) that I think you are talking about: Faith in the existence of something beyond our grasp, as in Faith in God. I consider this kind of Faith to be blind faith by its very definition; that is, faith without evidence.

    I have simple, every-day belief and I have faith in people, just the same as most everyone does. I don’t have Faith in a higher being – that is to say, I don’t believe that a higher being exists. What’s more, I don’t consider blind Faith to be virtuous. Rather, I consider it to be wishful thinking at best and delusional at worst (in the case of blind Faith despite evidence that the object of the Faith is not real).

    And THAT attack-mode stance and mentality does much to diminish the validity of atheists’ position in my eyes.

    Does it make you dislike atheists, or perhaps their demeanor, or does it actually make you think what they are saying is wrong? If the later, how does it invalidate what they are saying?

    I have belief and faith and know what I know, yet I never feel the need to bolster my position by negating somebody else’s belief.

    I think atheists might feel the same way about their beliefs as you do about yours if there weren’t so much intolerance toward atheism and prejudice against atheists.

    Personally I think it is ridiculous to waste one’s time looking for “evidence”.

    Hmm. Didn’t you just complain about atheist posts that “ridicule other peoples’ beliefs and faiths?”

    I don’t find that belief based on evidence is ridiculous, personally. In fact, all of us form our beliefs based on evidence. One of the few exceptions seems to be belief in God. I can’t think of any good rationale for this exception, can you?

    What I would like to know, is what IS your belief system. What consoles you, teaches you, counsels you, sustains you in troubled times. Is there anything more important than you? Is there anything beyond you?

    Personally, I derive these things from the people closest to me, from the vastness and beauty of the universe, from the wonder of life and the whole of existence, and from the feelings of connectedness to all living things.

    I don’t have to look hard to find what is greater and more important than me. Like everyone else, I’m smaller than the tiniest spec of dust I can imagine when compared to the universe; I can’t even fathom how small I am.

    In a sense, nothing is “beyond” me. All of my existence is the sum total of my personal experience – which is “within” me. In another sense, my personal experience is only a shadow of any physical reality – all of the physical universe is “beyond” me.

  2. Geekwad says:

    What consoles you, teaches you, counsels you, sustains you in troubled times.

    Nothing. When I am afflicted, I suffer. Then time passes, and I heal. Do you find it any different? Do you not suffer? Are you granted instant healing? Do you never grieve? If that is the case, then mister, you might have yourself a convert.

  3. Datdamwuf says:

    My belief system is personal as is everyones. The basic tenet is to do no harm to others while attaining happiness in my life for me and those I love. Part of my happiness is derived from very simple things, the beautiful in our world – watching the kittens play, a spider weave a web, a flower blooming, a hummingbird coming to my feeder. Others involve accomplishments in my career, helping a stranger, sleeping in. And of course there is so much more beauty in the sky, the water, a face, a friend, an entire wondrous world, I don’t need a higher power to sustain me with so much I can see, touch and feel right here.

    You ask “Is there anything more important than you? Is there anything beyond you?”

    What does that mean? The first question is simply baiting, the second question is senseless to me, here is the definition of beyond:

    1. On the far side of; past: Just beyond the fence.
    2. Later than; after: beyond midnight.
    3. To a degree that is past the understanding, reach, or scope of: an evil beyond remedy.
    4. To a degree or amount greater than: rich beyond his wildest dreams.
    5. In addition to: asked for nothing beyond peace and quiet.
    adv.
    1. Farther along or away.
    2. In addition; more: wanted her share but nothing beyond.
    n.
    1. That which is past or to a degree greater than knowledge or experience; the unknown: “Sputnik, the first satellite to enter the great beyond of space” Dale Russakoff.
    2. The world beyond death; the hereafter.

    If you are asking if there is anything I don’t know, of course there is.

  4. I think Atheism is more about a stand against organized religion than a belief. It is important for the non religious to take actions as one unit because that is exactly what a religious organization does. They have great power and influence because they speak as one voice (for the most part). The more members…the more influence in politics and business. The non religious need to work together to increase their numbers as well so reason, science, and deep rooted moral philosophies also have a voice.

    Join the Movement at http://www.atheistrevolution.com

  5. J.D. says:

    I am a political activists, This is my reason to degrade what others believe.

    That is to say that as long as people try to force their morals and beliefs on others via legislation, I will continue to show their fairy tail for what it is.

    To each, his own. I believe everyone has the right to live the way they see fit. AS LONG AS IT DOES NOT TREAD ON THE RIGHTS OF OTHERS. Is that clear as mud?

    I have no problem with prayer in schools, let them pray as long as it does not disrupt class. Don’t make others pray, especially if it is through intimidation, EG prayer before games ect. Use your head and think about how that works.

    I have a problem with homosexual marriage, it is not biologically sound. I have no problem with homosexual relationships otherwise.

    If I need to continue let me know.

  6. The Atheist says:

    J.D.,

    Would you also be against heterosexual marriage where it is known before the marriage that at one or both of the spouses are sterile? I don’t see, from a biological view point, that sterile spouses (or even spouses who do not intend to reproduce) is any different from homosexual marriage.

    To stretch the idea even further, consider spouses that have sex, but neither likes intercourse so they never have it. Finally, consider a marriage where one (or both) of the spouses are physically unable to have sex at all due to injury, birth defect, etc.

    To stretch the idea yet again, consider a transsexual (man becoming woman) marrying a man and they can have sexual intercourse.

    Thoughts?

  7. J.D. says:

    The Atheist,

    Maybe I worded it wrong. Instead of stretching it out, I should go back to the roots.

    My argument is more of a Darwinian, propagation of the species type of thing.
    As for the hetero sterility, it was/is a propagation failing.
    If a the couple, combined has the needed equipment to propagate, then I am fine with it.
    Excluding something being lost in an accident or to a birth defect.
    I think think the one above would cover trannies, not sure though?
    Do I need to elaborate??

    Maybe I just haven’t got all of the southern-mid-western church teachin’ out of my mindset yet.

    In years to come I might be fine with it. I almost wasn’t born, but fertility drugs(and according to my parents, along with prayer) saved me.

  8. The Atheist says:

    Ah, now I’m with you. Good points and good discussion!

    Consider that the social institution of marriage appeared too recently and abruptly to be considered a product of evolution (a direct product that is – certainly social instincts are products of evolution). It also has served various purposes throughout history besides reproduction – from uniting waring tribes, uniting wealth between families, to preventing social violence by formally declaring who belongs to whom. I think it would make more sense to appose the homosexual act itself because it fails the propagation test (the primary test of evolution) than it would to appose the social institution.

    But now consider that homosexual behavior is found in many animals. Granted, it may simply be a failing due to the complexity of sexual attraction. But in that worst case, it would still on par with heterosexuals who are born sterile, who you and I would both grant the right to marry. However, that fact that homosexuality appears in so many other diverse animals indicates that it is likely beneficial in some way to natural selection – beneficial to the group that is, not to the individual. Homosexuality may be, as some researchers theorize, a means of controlling overpopulation since the chance of giving birth to a homosexual child can can be linked to the mother’s level of stress.

  9. J.D. says:

    Be that as it may, humans are the only creatures who use marriage in that matter. Even though there are numerous species that have the more primitive “life partner” arrangement. However, in this case, it would ensure the survival of the dominate genes. Those creatures still preform the initial courtship “competition.” the partner who is more dominate is guaranteed many generations of his genes passing on, while the lesser suitor will get fewer if any chances to pass on his. Humans are also the only creatures who, in advanced societies, The female does not always choose the more dominate male.

    As far as homosexuality in animals, I think it might have something more to do with the hormone secretions of that and others of it’s kind.

    I will use dogs as a simple example. We used to have several stud Labradors that we used as bird dogs. People would come to use to get their dame bred. We would let that person choose which of our males would do the deed. I will now skip to after the selected male has completed his mission. When he was reintroduced into the large family pen, the other males would try to sodomize the poor guy. Now,were the others trying to do this because they were attracted to the male?No. They were attracted to the scent left by the female that was in heat.

    Is it not possible that any observed homosexuality in animals could have derived from a similar series of events?

    Like I said before, maybe I just still have some churchin left in my mentality.

  10. The Atheist says:

    It is certainly possible that some observed homosexuality in animals could have derived from a similar series of events. But the articles I’ve read about homosexuality in rats, bonobos, and other species were carefully designed so I don’t think that’s the case

    Even if you still have some churchin left in your mentality, the beauty of being a free-thinker is that we are always free to guiltlessly examine and reexamine our beliefs, regardless of their source! Believe me, I do it all the time.

  11. J.D. says:

    I will have to see what I can find and read up on it. Here is the only thing I have ever read on Bonobos:http://www.emory.edu/LIVING_LINKS/OurInnerApe/pdfs/NYT_bookreview.html

  12. The Atheist says:

    Here’s the book I read by the same author mentioned in the article you linked to (de Waal):

    http://www.amazon.com/Primates-Philosophers-Morality-Evolved-University/dp/0691124477

    Another really good book that I would highly recommend! De Waal makes his case, then allows various philosophers to comment, then de Waal responds to their comments.

  13. Mithotyn says:

    There are two meanings to the word ‘believe’ I will be using.
    “b: to accept as true, genuine, or real ”
    And,
    “3: to hold an opinion : think

    I believe in nothing, which is great. I just be, without regard for time or meaning. I believe that life can have purpose while still being pointless and that reality and existence is merely an illusion. I also believe that our minds — separate from brain — are from deep in space, perhaps from another planet of beings sending broadcasts like we broadcast into the universe with radio waves. I am insane, if not for a ability to reason I’d surely be diagnosed schizophrenic in this day and age, and do manage getting diagnosed schizotypal.

    The fact that their are so many ways to perceive reality, as observed with drugs and insanity, may be evidence that the mind can be impaired, but also that their are more than one way to perceive existence. A animal, a pet dog for example, can see the door knob you turn to open the door and let him out and reach that knob himself, but does he let himself out once you’ve demonstrated it? The mind builds frames for itself to avoid having to face what it does not know and what it may never be able to comprehend, and it builds that individual and the society struck by it their very understanding of reality and life.

  14. The Atheist says:

    Mithotyn,

    Welcome to the blog!

    I’ve thought about the mind as separate from the brain. One compelling reason to think that is separate is that we cannot conceive of any way for any physical, like the brain or a computer, to produce consciousness. But I keep coming back to the knowledge that there seems to be no mind without a brain. In fact, as the brain deteriorates in different ways, the part of the mind that relies on that part of the brain ceases to function. And as you point out, the mind is altered by physically altering the brain through drugs.

    So we are left baffled by how a brain can produce a mind, but we are also confident that there is no mind without the brain – the mind is a function of the brain.

  15. Mithotyn says:

    “In fact, as the brain deteriorates in different ways, the part of the mind that relies on that part of the brain ceases to function. And as you point out, the mind is altered by physically altering the brain through drugs.

    So we are left baffled by how a brain can produce a mind, but we are also confident that there is no mind without the brain – the mind is a function of the brain.”

    If you thought of the brain as merely a receptor of the mind, like a antenna, any alteration to the brain could effect the mind. It’s the idea of our minds being from out of us, based on that the mind exists but not as a physical entity. Interestingly to this is that the drugs that damage the brain to alter the mind also destroy the mind. Anti psychotic drugs for example will wonx your mind entirely and make you a zombie, and benzodiazapines aren’t too far off. It seems the more successful we are at treating problems of the mind through the brain is determined by how much of the mind we can block or disable.

  16. Mithotyn says:

    “It seems the more successful we are at treating problems of the mind through the brain is determined by how much of the mind we can block

    by how much of the brain we can disable.”

    I meant.

  17. Mithotyn says:

    I type in a stream of consciousness, so nvm me inundating you but think of it this way.

    Drugs that stimulate the brain empower the mind. Drugs that disable the brain (You might need to read Elliot Valensteins “blaming the brain”, to totally understand this as well as Robert Whitakers “Mad in America”) weaken and can even destroy the mind.

    Now, we’re thinking of the brain as a receptor, it’s not creating, it’s receiving.

    We send signals into deep space all the time, I don’t see why this is so hard to believe.

  18. The Atheist says:

    Mithotyn

    If you thought of the brain as merely a receptor of the mind…

    That’s a pretty appealing idea, but it might not solve the problem. If we consider again the damaged brain, and that damage to different areas affect the mind in a particular way, then different parts of the brain would have to receive different parts of the mind. But that means that a disembodied mind would have parts that corresponded with the parts of the brain. So we would have to imagine a nonphysical entity (the disembodied mind) that was separated into different organs. That’s a difficult concept but I don’t think it defeats the idea.

    The larger problem as I see it is that the only way we could possibly know if the brain and mind were different, albeit connected things would be to find a disconnected mind. That might come. for example, in the form of a mind that could connect to other brains. Short of discovering a disconnected mind, what we would observe about minds and brains would be identical in the case that the mind were a result of brain activity or in the case that the brain were a receptor of a mind.

    Treating the mind by “disabling” brain activity is a good example of why it seems that the brain can generate mind (whether it can serve as a receptor or not). In many cases, like seizure for example, the brain generated erroneous signals that cause the mind not to function well. The “disabling” is suppressing the erroneous signals.

    There is another interesting pathology to consider: a severed corpus callosum (the main structure that connects the 2 brain hemispheres). Brains of patients that suffer the pathology can still function, but at least in certain ways, the mind seems to split along the brain. That is, there doesn’t seem to be a single mind that controls both halves of the brain. For example, the patient can recognize a picture of a dog if seen through one eye but not the other. On the other hand, the patient can recognize the word, “dog,” only through the eye that was unable to interpret the image of the dog.

    Can you think of any phenomena that points to the mind being separate from the brain?

  19. Mithotyn says:

    “Can you think of any phenomena that points to the mind being separate from the brain?”

    Intuition. I dunno. No. Because it’s all too arguable, it’s all a matter of perspective and the subsequent mental (We haven’t even gotten into ‘mental’ yet) development founded on it.

    But that’s why I believe only the universe can tell us ‘truth’ that we can follow, in the sense of matter. 2+2=4 not because it makes logical sense to, but because if you have two objects they will be separated into two 1’s, so nobody can argue that 2+2=2 for only a 2 can be a 2 because there is that convincing physical evidence that has stepped in front of human logic to command it, not obey it.

    I cant discredit you entirely, you cant discredit me entirely, but I don’t feel like we’ve been arguing at all, I just feel like all I can do at this point is reiterate myself and get crazier and crazier sounding as I go on and make better and better arguments, but it’s just mental masturbation – for either of us, for I already know you cant understand and neither can I understand your perceptions and the knowledge based around them.

  20. Sam says:

    What do atheists believe? I believe in psychology and sociology. “I” am a combination of genetic, environmental and experiencial influence. Read about Ellis’ REBT. This is the model that best explains how and why people think, feel and do what they do, IMHO.

  21. Sam says:

    What do atheists believe? I believe in psychology and sociology. “I” am a combination of genetic, environmental and experiencial influence. Read about Ellis’ REBT. This is the model that best explains how and why people think, feel and do what they do, IMHO.

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