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  #41  
Old 23rd June 2016, 07:23 PM
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Default Re: The Delusions of Atheists

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wearestardust said View Post
What are we disagreeing about?
I thought I knew what we were disagreeing about. I thought that I was arguing that there was a correlation between higher levels of atheism and better social behaviours and outcomes, but now it turns out that that is what Katrina is arguing for. Now I have no idea.

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Katrina said
As I mentioned to 142857, as a country’s overall living standards rise, inclusive of a comprehensive social safety net and good education and health systems accessible to all, religiosity, as for the degree of societal dysfunction, decreases proportionally (whereas average ‘happiness’ increases).

In other words, in modern societies societal dysfunction is generally not a function of religiosity but of average living standards.

Not so much a case of less religion doing away with societal ills, as improved living standards, including robust redistribution (a lesson I doubt the US will ever take on board), doing away with religion.
Very eloquently put. You have given a completely valid explanation for the correlation between better social behaviours and outcomes and higher levels of atheism. Of course this may not be the only explanation, being a typical "which came first, the chicken or the egg" scenario. Unless you have some actual evidence that your explanation for the correlation is the only valid one?

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Showing correlation is enough? Why? I have yet to see any!

Last edited by 142857; 23rd June 2016 at 07:36 PM.
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  #42  
Old 23rd June 2016, 08:09 PM
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I thought I knew what we were disagreeing about. I thought that I was arguing that there was a correlation between higher levels of atheism and better social behaviours and outcomes, but now it turns out that that is what Katrina is arguing for. Now I have no idea.



Very eloquently put. You have given a completely valid explanation for the correlation between better social behaviours and outcomes and higher levels of atheism. Of course this may not be the only explanation, being a typical "which came first, the chicken or the egg" scenario. Unless you have some actual evidence that your explanation for the correlation is the only valid one?
Not so, you raised the Paul piece, via that seemingly problematic Nairaland site, as further evidence that atheists are more moral, or less criminal, than religious people:

“Of course correlation is not causation, and it is difficult to prove that atheism makes you more moral or less likely to act in ways that society considers less moral. But the fact that people on both sides of the debate have to tie themselves into knots trying to explain why the statistics that appear to show that atheists are more moral are not as conclusive as they might appear to be at first glance does tend indicate that religion is not a prerequisite for moral behaviour by any stretch.”

In actual fact, the Paul study has a totally different focus:

“Large-scale surveys show dramatic declines in religiosity in favor of secularization in the developed democracies. Popular acceptance of evolutionary science correlates negatively with levels of religiosity, and the United States is the only prosperous nation where the majority absolutely believes in a creator and evolutionary science is unpopular. Abundant data is available on rates of societal dysfunction and health in the first world. Cross-national comparisons of highly differing rates of religiosity and societal conditions form a mass epidemiological experiment that can be used to test whether high rates of belief in and worship of a creator are necessary for high levels of social health. Data correlations show that in almost all regards the highly secular democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction, while pro-religious and antievolution America performs poorly.”

You seem to have been preoccupied with atheists versus the religious in terms of behaviour, whilst I was concerned both with that topic as well as with the Paul study itself (as also discussed with Loki). I am amazed that all of this should have escaped your attention.


My comment: “Showing correlation is enough? Why? I have yet to see any!” – indeed refers to Dawkins’ claim that atheists are better behaved.
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  #43  
Old 23rd June 2016, 08:20 PM
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Not so, you raised the Paul piece, via that seemingly problematic Nairaland site, as further evidence that atheists are more moral, or less criminal, than religious people:

“Of course correlation is not causation, and it is difficult to prove that atheism makes you more moral or less likely to act in ways that society considers less moral. But the fact that people on both sides of the debate have to tie themselves into knots trying to explain why the statistics that appear to show that atheists are more moral are not as conclusive as they might appear to be at first glance does tend indicate that religion is not a prerequisite for moral behaviour by any stretch.”

In actual fact, the Paul study has a totally different focus:

“Large-scale surveys show dramatic declines in religiosity in favor of secularization in the developed democracies. Popular acceptance of evolutionary science correlates negatively with levels of religiosity, and the United States is the only prosperous nation where the majority absolutely believes in a creator and evolutionary science is unpopular. Abundant data is available on rates of societal dysfunction and health in the first world. Cross-national comparisons of highly differing rates of religiosity and societal conditions form a mass epidemiological experiment that can be used to test whether high rates of belief in and worship of a creator are necessary for high levels of social health. Data correlations show that in almost all regards the highly secular democracies consistently enjoy low rates of societal dysfunction, while pro-religious and antievolution America performs poorly.”

You seem to have been preoccupied with atheists versus the religious in terms of behaviour, whilst I was concerned both with that topic as well as with the Paul study itself (as also discussed with Loki). I am amazed that all of this should have escaped your attention.


My comment: “Showing correlation is enough? Why? I have yet to see any!” – indeed refers to Dawkins’ claim that atheists are better behaved.
I am talking about a correlation, Paul is talking about a correlation, and you are talking about a correlation, and all between exactly the same two things.

You did, in fact, make a very strong point about the correlation between better social behaviours and outcomes and a decline in religious belief. One that I wholeheartedly agree with.

And it appears that I am not the only one who has NFI what we are even arguing about.

I could be entirely wrong, but while you are obviously very intelligent it seems like you don't actually know what correlation means.

Last edited by 142857; 23rd June 2016 at 08:22 PM.
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  #44  
Old 24th June 2016, 08:06 PM
katrina katrina is offline
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I am talking about a correlation, Paul is talking about a correlation, and you are talking about a correlation, and all between exactly the same two things.

You did, in fact, make a very strong point about the correlation between better social behaviours and outcomes and a decline in religious belief. One that I wholeheartedly agree with.

And it appears that I am not the only one who has NFI what we are even arguing about.

I could be entirely wrong, but while you are obviously very intelligent it seems like you don't actually know what correlation means.
Intelligent? It takes one to know one!?

You yet amaze me. As history amply illustrates, I have now asserted more than once that improved living standards (as underpinned by a strong and universal social safety net, together with quality education for all), if not also because of the personal confidence it engenders, inevitably results in reduced religiosity. In other words, not correlation, but causality.

Strange too that I should be left wondering whether you in fact understood the difference between the two, between correlation and causality, that is!

We thus started our discussion with your assertion that: ‘There is actually ample evidence that atheists are "better behaved" than religious people.’ Statistically atheists make up 0.07% of the US prison population …’

Now obviously, correlation is not evidence, which led you then to edit what you’d already said.

But, given your claim that there is ‘ample evidence’, why resort to supporting your claim with a nonsensically pat interpretation of a solitary letter gotten by some character from the US federal prison system? Infringing the very dictates of common sense, how is such meant to validate your sweeping generalization that atheists are better behaved than religious people! And, the US, or its federal prison system, is somehow an appropriate proxy for the rest of the world!

You then rightly acknowledge that such “is probably not the best evidence”, citing in its place a piece from ‘www psychology today’ which offers its own liberal interpretations of a survey by a Phil Zuckerman, one termed Atheism, Secularity, and Well-Being: How the Findings of Social Science Counter Negative Stereotypes and Assumptions.

The latter review of different studies again, like the Paul work, only restricts itself to conservatively noting correlation between various social aspects and religiosity. Please note: correlation, not as supporting evidence as relied upon by you, nor causality.

You also offer the nairaland site, which sees no problem in variously translating the Paul study’s observation of mere correlation variously into one of direct causality (which of course, albeit covertly, is what this study underhandedly means to insinuate anyway).

But, having offered the two links presumably by way as better evidence, in that the first one was not the best, you then quickly revert back to asserting ‘correlation’ instead: “In fact there are no shortage of articles out there showing similar correlations. Of course correlation is not causation …”

So, while seemingly offering three links in support of the assertion that atheists are generally better behaved - why else mention them at all? – you simultaneously acquiesce that they only show correlation - thus actually verifying nothing at all!

You then question the chalcedon site’s claim that using the same data that Paul used, one could just as easily show that America’s social ills only increased, even as America had become more secular, by pointing out that crime had in fact decreased. Again, the US suitably represents the world in general?

Not only does ‘crime’ not equate to ‘social ills’ but the quoted Wikipedia piece specifies seven separate explanations for the decline which, unrelated to religion or its lack, removes it from the secularity versus religion equation being discussed.

You then state: “I don't think there has been anywhere near a large enough shift towards atheism in the United States to have any demonstrable impact on crime figures. But that was not my point. My point was that trying to claim that a decline in Christianity has led to negative social outcomes in the United States, as the article you provided did actually try to claim, is less than baseless.”

As mentioned, the reduction in crime is attributable to specific factors beyond any religious/atheism relevance. As such, I think the article merely asserts that using the same data and reasoning as Paul, one can just as easily show the opposite to what Paul insinuates.

For the majority of Americans things have in fact worsened since the 1970s, as already mentioned. During the same period US religiosity has indeed seen a sharp decline. Presto! Solid correlation between declining religiosity and worsening social conditions. Which then enables the sly, or ideologically-minded, to insinuate that less religion clearly causes societal damage!

Who is the one that is really confused here?
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  #45  
Old 24th June 2016, 08:48 PM
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So, while seemingly offering three links in support of the assertion that atheists are generally better behaved - why else mention them at all? – you simultaneously acquiesce that they only show correlation - thus actually verifying nothing at all!
Yes. They show correlation. Thus verifying correlation. I've never claimed causation. Neither did Dawkins. Neither did Paul. Neither did you when you made a case for why you believe such a correlation exists.

Lots of angry and accusatory words and yet I still don't know what we are disagreeing about.
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  #46  
Old 25th June 2016, 03:48 PM
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Yes. They show correlation. Thus verifying correlation. I've never claimed causation. Neither did Dawkins. Neither did Paul. Neither did you when you made a case for why you believe such a correlation exists.

Lots of angry and accusatory words and yet I still don't know what we are disagreeing about.
What angry words! And most definitely no personal accusations against anyone here! And I certainly never made a case that there actually existed such a correlation. As I said only a couple of posts ago: “Showing correlation is enough? Why? I have yet to see any!”

If the Paul study demonstrates anything at all, it is the fact that because the US is significantly, and perhaps prima facie incongruously, more religious than most other developed nations, renders it easy to establish endless ‘correlation’ of the kind he makes, however innately absurd.

One only need pick some seeming aberration or something more uniquely American than elsewhere, and link it to religion. The US makes more motor cars than most other developed nations, and is also the most religious: there’s clearly a correlation between car manufacture and religion! Innately absurd? Of course: any possible connection between the two being purely incidental. As absurd in fact as correlating or linking the reduction in US religiosity in recent times to societal dysfunction, as I did in my previous post.

(The US, comprised in fact of many Americas, is of course not particularly homogenous anyway. The states with the most impoverished folk also tend to be the most religious and socially dysfunctional, in contrast to the more prosperous north east.)

I think I’ve already shown that the reason why a number of other developed countries generally experience superior societal health and personal happiness resides in their relatively high quality of life - not merely for the well-off as in the US, but for all – one secured by a comprehensive social welfare system and across-the-board quality education – a state of affairs only arrived at over some decades.

The fact that these countries also happen to experience a high degree of atheism is here too merely incidental, simply a byproduct of the same high and universal living standards. Any correlation, as well as causality, self-evidently belongs to lifestyle/personal economic security, not to religion or atheism.
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  #47  
Old 19th March 2017, 01:42 PM
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,,,Einstein explicitly and rather testily said he doesn't believe in a personal god. The god he did believe in was some sort of pantheistic one, barely god at all really. Isaacson baldly states "Einstein believed in God" in his introduction, but the content of the book shows how inadequate that statement is. Isaacson also links Einstein's quasi-religious view that there is a simple, elegant order to the universe, to his refusal to accept some of the key principles of quantum mechanics.
Apologies for the necro bump, but I stumbled across something very interesting just now, regarding Einstein's conversations with an Indian philosopher, that I thought might add to previous discussions on whether Einstein was religious:

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Tagore says, “It is a relative world, depending for its relativity upon our consciousness.” His entire argument is that beauty and truth are completely dependent on humans observing them, that there is no beauty without an admirer, and no truth without a believer.

Einstein disagrees with the truth aspect, stating that “the Pythagorean theorem in geometry states something that is approximately true, independent of the existence of man. Anyway, if there is a reality independent of man, there is also a Truth relative to this reality; and in the same way the negation of the first engenders a negation of the existence of the latter.”

Einstein believed more in absolute truth than the religious man he was debating, which apparently surprised Einstein as he exclaimed, “Then I am more religious than you are!” Tagore replied, “My religion is in the reconciliation of the Super-personal Man, the universal human spirit, in my own individual being.”
from: http://bigthink.com/ideafeed/can-spi...cience-coexist

This simply reinforces what I have gleaned from other things Einstein said: that his definition of religion was as a belief in an absolute truth, rather than what most of us think of as religion.
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  #48  
Old 19th March 2017, 11:26 PM
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Rabindranath Tagore is advancing traditional Hinduism.

Encyclopćdia Britannica
Atman
Hindu philosophy

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brahman
purusha

Atman, ( Sanskrit: “self,” “breath”) one of the most basic concepts in Hinduism, the universal self, identical with the eternal core of the personality that after death either transmigrates to a new life or attains release (moksha) from the bonds of existence. While in the early Vedas it occurred mostly as a reflexive pronoun meaning “oneself,” in the later Upanishads (speculative commentaries on the Vedas) it comes more and more to the fore as a philosophical topic. Atman is that which makes the other organs and faculties function and for which indeed they function; it also underlies all the activities of a person, as brahman (the Absolute) underlies the workings of the universe. Atman is part of the universal brahman, with which it can commune or even fuse. So fundamental was the atman deemed to be that certain circles identified it with brahman. Of the various systems (darshans) of Hindu thought, Vedanta is the one that is particularly concerned with the atman.
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  #49  
Old 20th March 2017, 03:36 AM
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Einstein's statements on god and religion also have to be considered in the context of their circumstances and their times.
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Old 20th March 2017, 11:56 AM
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I am not an Atheist. I do not know if I can describe myself as a Pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. May I reply with a parable? The human
mind no matter how highly trained cannot grasp the universe. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library whose walls are covered to the ceiling in many
different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written those books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are
written. The child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books in a mysterious order which it does not comprehend but only dimly suspects. That it seems to
me is the attitude of the human mind even the greatest and most cultured toward God. We see a universe marvellously arranged obeying certain laws but we under
stand the laws only dimly our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that sways the constellations. I am fascinated by Spinozas Pantheism. I admire even
more his contribution to modern thought. Spinoza is the greatest of modern philosophers because he is the first philosopher who deals with the soul and the body
as one not as two separate things - Albert Einstein
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