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River Otter
Skeptic Friend

USA
67 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2009 :  18:35:41  Show Profile Send River Otter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hi all,

I have been away for a while due to summer classes. I hope all is going well. Looking forward to having time to catch up.

I would like to share my first essay for my English 111 class with you all. Maybe get some feed back. Good and bad.

I made full marks for this peer reviewed paper, 102% and am pretty sure I have scored a high A for the semester. I might share my last paper with you all too, once it's graded.


Atheists: Our Skeptical Friends

By: Heather Gillette

“I'm an atheist, and that's it, I believe that there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for other people.” - Katharine Hepburn.

An atheist is a person who lacks a belief in a god or gods. Because of the absence of empirical evidence and a consistent definition of a deity, atheists are unable to believe in claims made by the organized religions of the world. An atheist's life does not revolve around atheism; their atheism evolved from what they have learned through living life. They care about human rights, the planet, freedom of speech, separation of church and state, and the sciences. They are rational, reasonable, honest, and fair. They are your silent neighbors, who just want to live and let live.

Atheists will typically never say, “I am 100% sure there are no gods,” because just as gods have not been proven, they also have not been disproven. By being honest and saying, “I don't know it,” leaves the door open for other ideas to be formed and researched. This is open-mindedness with honest integrity. Atheists are supporters of evidence, critical thinking, education and research, and are skeptics of any supernatural claim, whether religious or not, if it is not backed by testable proof and peer review.

Death is the only observable guarantee in life. Atheists, who lack a belief in an afterlife or seeing loved ones when they kick the inevitable bucket, try to make the best of their lives while living. To them, life is too short to be worrying about the “what if's.” They care about the “what is,” and many of them appreciate the complexities of the natural world, its history, and how it applies to them and mankind.

Atheists contribute to society in many ways. They are educators, healers, social activists, soldiers, scientists, and everyday people who you would never know lacked a belief in deities. When they donate their time, money, and resources, there are no books and pamphlets to read, videos to watch, or conversions to make when a person accepts these donations. The charity is not meant to promote atheism, it is meant to promote the wellbeing of the recipient. Having a lack of a belief in something has nothing to do with good will. This is why you never hear about “Atheist” charities.

Generally, the only time you will hear anything out of an atheist is when the separation of church and state is being violated, or science is being misrepresented. They do not want to be forced to worship someone else's beliefs or live under laws based on a religion that they cannot believe in. Still, they will fiercely fight for the freedoms that allow people to worship as they please. When evolution is misrepresented by people who either do not understand it or are blatantly lying, atheists will stand up and make themselves' known with empirical evidence to support it. Other than that, atheists live quiet lives, minding their own business. They really do not worry about someone else's beliefs.

Maybe one day there will be empirical evidence of a deity with a consistent definition that all can agree on; and on that day, atheists will be no more. But until then, our skeptical friends will be thinking about life on earth, good will towards man, rights of other people, honesty, education and open-mindedness. And they will continue to reside beside their religious neighbors

I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I do not know. -Cicero

Brother, You say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book. -Sagoyewatha,(Red Jacket) - Chief and great orator of the six nations.

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2009 :  20:36:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Very well done, Heather!

I'd only comment that perhaps you are generalizing a bit too much about the goodness of atheists when you write, "They care about human rights, the planet, freedom of speech, separation of church and state, and the sciences." That's not true of all atheists. Some of us are selfish, greedy, uncaring bastards, though I suspect a smaller percentage are like that than among the theists. What atheists do have in common is simply that they do not believe in deities.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2009 :  21:20:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
You got 102% in an English class with all those superfluous commas and apostrophes?! Way to go!

Aside from Mooner's concern, clarification of this bit is needed:
This is why you never hear about “Atheist” charities.
In the mind of the more devout, "atheist" and "secular" are more-or-less synonymous, and we do hear about secular charities, all the time. Meals on Wheels, for example, has no religious agenda, and some small atheist community groups volunteer with Meals on Wheels for just that reason. (I have little doubt that some of the recipients of meals would be shocked to learn that their food was delivered by an atheist, and would wonder what crime they committed that wound them up doing community service.)

Somewhere around the Web are a list or two of atheist or atheist-friendly charities, published because enough atheists care enough to be charitable and also care enough that their money doesn't go towards proselytizing and/or lining a theist's pockets. Meals on Wheels is just the one example that I seem to be able to remember.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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R.Wreck
SFN Regular

USA
1191 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2009 :  21:36:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send R.Wreck a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Nice!

The foundation of morality is to . . . give up pretending to believe that for which there is no evidence, and repeating unintelligible propositions about things beyond the possibliities of knowledge.
T. H. Huxley

The Cattle Prod of Enlightened Compassion
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Agita
Skeptic Friend

USA
58 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2009 :  22:09:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Agita a Private Message  Reply with Quote

Atheists will typically never say, “I am 100% sure there are no gods,”


I think this point is incorrect. Atheists believe there are no Gods/is no God, Agnostics claim they don't know. That is the reason I consider my self an Agnostic instead of an Atheist. I guess that makes Agnostics the true skeptics, Atheists already have made up their minds.

a·the·ist (#257;'th#275;-#301;st) n.
One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

ag·nos·tic (#257;g-n#335;s't#301;k) n.
a.) One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

b.)One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

That said, I cannot speak to the rest of the essay because I am not an Athiest.


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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 07/10/2009 :  22:44:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Agita

[green]I think this point is incorrect. Atheists believe there are no Gods/is no God, Agnostics claim they don't know. That is the reason I consider my self an Agnostic instead of an Atheist. I guess that makes Agnostics the true skeptics, Atheists already have made up their minds.

a·the·ist (#257;'th#275;-#301;st) n.
One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

ag·nos·tic (#257;g-n#335;s't#301;k) n.
a.) One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

b.)One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong.
The definitions are not mutually exclusive.

I disbelieve in the existence of the gods that other people believe in because I have not been presented with unambiguous evidence that any such gods exist. Because of that attitude, it should be clear that I am skeptical of the existence of gods, but I certainly cannot deny the existence of a god (or gods) which humans haven't yet posited.

Thus, I am an agnostic atheist. I'd bet you are, also. Most "atheists" are.

A small subset of atheists are "true atheists" in the sense suggested by those definitions. Dogmatic denial of all possible gods isn't any more skeptical than acceptance of some god on shoddy evidence.

When I'm able, I advocate for a change in the definitions of the words, for clarity (dictionary definitions, after all, capture popular usage, and so change with time - witness "bad" meaning "cool"). By its roots, "atheist" should simply mean "without god belief" and it shouldn't imply any active denial of any god. Similarly, "agnostic" should simply mean "without spiritual knowledge." Under those definitions, I'm still an agnostic atheist, and most atheists would be the same. Only those who claimed some sort of mystical knowledge that there are no gods would be "true atheists."

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  02:53:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
As I have commented on it earlier, I'll refrain now.

Dave is correct; even Dawkins and even I, leave the door cracked a tad because no one has infinite knowledge, religious fundamentalists often to the contrary.




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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River Otter
Skeptic Friend

USA
67 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  03:04:57   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send River Otter a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thank you all for your feedback. This is exactly what I was looking for.

I failed to mention that this was a Concept essay.

What atheists do have in common is simply that they do not believe in deities.
Thanks Halfmooner. I will consider this and may one day, rewrite this paper. I will defiantly keep this in mind.

You got 102% in an English class with all those superfluous commas and apostrophes?!
Thank you Dave. I asked my teacher in our conferance for the second draft about puntuation. I am a punctuation idiot.

I didn't know Meals on Wheels was a secular charity. I do now and wish I would have included this in the essay.

Atheists will typically never say, “I am 100% sure there are no gods,”



I think this point is incorrect.
I was writing from my experiance of other atheists. Most atheists I have talked to aren't 100% sure. But I do know there are atheists out there that do, they are just rare. That is why I wrote "typically". Thanks for the feedback Agita.

I appreciate you all taking the time to read my essay and giving me feedback. If I am to write about secular issues, your thoughts and criticisms are very helpful.

I am not ashamed to confess that I am ignorant of what I do not know. -Cicero

Brother, You say there is but one way to worship and serve the Great Spirit. If there is but one religion, why do you white people differ so much about it? Why not all agree, as you can all read the book. -Sagoyewatha,(Red Jacket) - Chief and great orator of the six nations.
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filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  06:47:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by River Otter

Thank you all for your feedback. This is exactly what I was looking for.

I failed to mention that this was a Concept essay.

What atheists do have in common is simply that they do not believe in deities.
Thanks Halfmooner. I will consider this and may one day, rewrite this paper. I will defiantly keep this in mind.

You got 102% in an English class with all those superfluous commas and apostrophes?!
Thank you Dave. I asked my teacher in our conferance for the second draft about puntuation. I am a punctuation idiot.

I didn't know Meals on Wheels was a secular charity. I do now and wish I would have included this in the essay.

Atheists will typically never say, “I am 100% sure there are no gods,”



I think this point is incorrect.
I was writing from my experiance of other atheists. Most atheists I have talked to aren't 100% sure. But I do know there are atheists out there that do, they are just rare. That is why I wrote "typically". Thanks for the feedback Agita.

I appreciate you all taking the time to read my essay and giving me feedback. If I am to write about secular issues, your thoughts and criticisms are very helpful.
Looking forward to the next one.....




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

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Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
26009 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  07:09:37   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by River Otter

Thank you Dave. I asked my teacher in our conferance for the second draft about puntuation. I am a punctuation idiot.
And I'm a real bastard for not saying which punctuation marks are superfluous.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  08:06:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Agita


Atheists will typically never say, “I am 100% sure there are no gods,”

I think this point is incorrect. Atheists believe there are no Gods/is no God, Agnostics claim they don't know. That is the reason I consider my self an Agnostic instead of an Atheist. I guess that makes Agnostics the true skeptics, Atheists already have made up their minds.
a·the·ist (#257;'th#275;-#301;st) n.
One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.
ag·nos·tic (#257;g-n#335;s't#301;k) n.
a.) One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
b.)One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong.
That said, I cannot speak to the rest of the essay because I am not an Athiest.



There is two 'kind' of atheism.
The absolute (which states 'there is not god') and the weak or inclusive atheist whose position is more: 'I can't know for certain that there is not God, in the same way that I can't know for certain that there is no BigFoot or invisible unicorn, but it just seems like it.
Therefore, I will assume that God is inexistent in the same way that I assume that BigFoot or invisible unicorns are inexistent, but, show me a valid proof of either and I will revise my position accordingly.

In reality, as Otter mentioned, most atheists seems to be in the second, inclusive, section.


Nice assay Otter, it's always good to remind people that atheists are no baby-eating monsters.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  08:10:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

A small subset of atheists are "true atheists" in the sense suggested by those definitions. Dogmatic denial of all possible gods isn't any more skeptical than acceptance of some god on shoddy evidence.
No, it's not skeptical. On the other hand, they're almost certainly correct.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Agita
Skeptic Friend

USA
58 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  08:11:12   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Agita a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dave W.

I disbelieve in the existence of the gods that other people believe in because I have not been presented with unambiguous evidence that any such gods exist. Because of that attitude, it should be clear that I am skeptical of the existence of gods, but I certainly cannot deny the existence of a god (or gods) which humans haven't yet posited.
I'm with you there, my way of thinking is just because organized religion has it all wrong doesn't mean there is no God. I have some ideas about reality that aren't exactly mainstream. I'll create a new topic for those ideas.



Originaly posted by River Otter

Thanks for the feedback Agita.
And I say Thank You for the lively discussion River Otter.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  08:15:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Nice essay River Otter


Originally posted by Agita


Atheists will typically never say, “I am 100% sure there are no gods,”


I think this point is incorrect. Atheists believe there are no Gods/is no God, Agnostics claim they don't know. That is the reason I consider my self an Agnostic instead of an Atheist. I guess that makes Agnostics the true skeptics, Atheists already have made up their minds.

a·the·ist (#257;'th#275;-#301;st) n.
One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.

ag·nos·tic (#257;g-n#335;s't#301;k) n.
a.) One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

b.)One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.

Someone please correct me if I am wrong.

That said, I cannot speak to the rest of the essay because I am not an Athiest.




Agnostics are atheists. Atheist simply means you do not actively believe in any deity.

A person who takes the position that there are no gods is also an atheist.

Lack of an active god belief is all it takes to be an atheist, no matter what your philosophical position on god/s may be.


But really agnostics do not hold a point of view consistent with scientific skepticism. It is not rational to say there may or may not be a god. Why, you ask? Change out "god" for any other batshit insane thing you care to invent (invisible purple unicorns, gravity fairies, one eyed one horned flying purple people eaters). Now tell me that you think one of those things may or may not exit.


Religion says, "God exists!"

Scientific Skepticism says, "Show me the evidence!"

When that evidence is not forthcoming, or can be better explained by somethng else, a rational person rejects the claim.

Don't get suckered in by the "can't disprove" fallacy, because you can't disprove any of the creatures I listed either.

Hope that helps.



Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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Simon
SFN Regular

USA
1992 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  08:37:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Simon a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Agita

Originally posted by Dave W.

I disbelieve in the existence of the gods that other people believe in because I have not been presented with unambiguous evidence that any such gods exist. Because of that attitude, it should be clear that I am skeptical of the existence of gods, but I certainly cannot deny the existence of a god (or gods) which humans haven't yet posited.
I'm with you there, my way of thinking is just because organized religion has it all wrong doesn't mean there is no God. I have some ideas about reality that aren't exactly mainstream. I'll create a new topic for those ideas.



Originaly posted by River Otter

Thanks for the feedback Agita.
And I say Thank You for the lively discussion River Otter.




It has been said that, initially, agnosticism was just a polite way to say 'atheist' in order to avoid the stigma that came with the word.

The two concepts are not all that distinct really.
Here is Gogreen's view on the subject. It is as good definitions as any. Plus, she is cute.

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.
Carl Sagan - 1996
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Agita
Skeptic Friend

USA
58 Posts

Posted - 07/11/2009 :  09:08:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Agita a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Simon
The two concepts are not all that distinct really.
Here is Gogreen's view on the subject. It is as good definitions as any. Plus, she is cute.


Very nice. According to Gogreen I'm an agnostic atheist.

Thanks a bunch. I'm going to enjoy being edumacated by that lil honey.
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