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Positive Atheism

Discussion in 'Philosophy and Religion' started by cjswanson1355, Sep 23, 2012.

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  1. cjswanson1355

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    I wanted to talk about a concept known as Positive Atheism.

    As an Atheist living in America, I am constantly discriminated against by Theists for not believing in God. I wanted to describe some of my beliefs on what it really means to be an Atheist, since it is concept that is so consistently misunderstood.

    Positive Atheism has nothing to do with no belief in God, other than it being factual. You are not defined by what you are not. Positive Atheism believes that we are all that exist in this world. No Gods, no spirits, no supernatural events. It is up to us to provide a shoulder to lean on.

    As some of you know, I'm a pretty depressed person. Suicidal depressed even. Anyways, if I want to reach out someone, this is the response I would hope to recieve.

    "I'm so sorry for your suffering. Is there anything I can do to help you?"

    Positive Atheism means PEOPLE helping PEOPLE. No Gods, no spirits. We are all we have in the world, and we need to do something about it.



    What are some examples of Positive Atheism in your life?
     
  2. Akherousia

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    I don´t come from America or neither I was there but all the friends of mine, that visited the South of the country said me the same. It seems almost impossible to don´t feel to or just don´t be attacked by the others if you don´t believe in a christian God.. And even worse if you´re an atheist, agnostic or something. I find it really offensive, that there are so many people that can´t leave others alone and let them believe what they want to. Some sort of respect to others should be found...

    I consider myself as agnostic but I respect people who are atheists and don´t try to laugh at religious people. Or they´re not saying that religious people are wrong or something. The same respect for others I´d also like to see from christians but somehow it´s also quite rarely thing..

    Examples of Positive Atheism or.. helping other people?
    Actually when I was just a child I had this biiiig dream to help people. There was nothing else, that was so important to me in my life. I wanted to become so intellectually and smart as possible not because of myself but to be able to help other people. And I thought that I need knowledge for that.

    So I did. Even as a kid I helped others. I even tried to help my parents, that both were really abusive in their own way, that often just was hurting me.
    When I was 20, i just saw that this constant helping to others is leaving me so alone and hurt that I just stopped doing that. Mostly I was helping people in a emotional way so I just burned out.

    Now I´m helping people if they come to me and say that they have a problem. I´m always open for that and I will always listen, rent some money or help to sold some other problem. But if it´s about the emotional help then I´m very careful and just listening without giving any tips. In that way I´m not that deeply emotional involved into it.
    I also don´t think that I still have this wish to help others. Maybe because I don´t really feel appreciated or I just don´t see any point or meaning in doing that (my pessimistic side).
    But still it´s close to me and maybe it´s not a sort of real Positive Atheism but maybe it reflects it a bit :smile:
     
  3. bamf

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    It's definitely not easy being an atheist at times. Try teaching in a rural farm community where everyone talks about god.
     
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  4. Barnabas

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    Example: +atheism

    Counter Example: -Atheism
     
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  5. Lerxst

    Lerxst Well-known member

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    I'll one-up you. Try living and working in a rural Mormon community while have "atheistic" views. :(
     
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  6. AhSver

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    Can their be Negative Atheism? (;
    I think that Atheism is healthy, liberating and puts a person in charge without any illusions.. For some Atheism could seem to be a depressing state (wait, you don't believe in being all happy in heaven after death with God, saints, angels and relatives?). For me it's great. Since I have no hope by default and know that I probably just have one take at it then I might as well do all the way I want to, since there might not be another chance.. I don't blame "evil" for bad things, humans are solely responsible for both good and evil, there's no higher judge but the society / community and the person itself. Tra-la-la, tu-tu-tu...
    For romantic and cultural reasons I am a Pagan. I wear a Thor's Hammer at all times. If I had a choice I would go and party like a druid!
    For intellectual reasons I can describe myself as a Pantheist, which doesn't contradict the two above.
    From personal deep religious experiences induced by meditation and Psychedelics I came to understand that there's a soul that lives as long as the Universe itself and we do come back into the same source to recycle the living energy in order to have more life. Can't explain why and how I came to such conclusions, yet I am pretty sure.
    Either way I have no fear of dying! Ideally would love to die with a sword in my hand. Fear is our worst enemy.
     
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  7. Poetic Justice

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    So you only want to help from and to relate to people who don't believe in god?

    That doesn't sound like a very positive attitude
     
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  8. AhSver

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    No, I would like to help everyone, everyone is equal in my eyes and I try to cultivate a feeling of love and understanding towards every individual I meet. Even extending it towards people with whom I might not agree with on certain ethics and morals.. My ways are not necessarily the right ways, I can always be mistaken, thus I don't deny other points of view.
    I am sorry if I made it sound otherwise in a previous post.
     
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  9. Poetic Justice

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    I was responding to the OP. Sorry I should have quoted it, my fault

    Positive atheism sounds like a rather narrow minded idea to me. Maybe I've misunderstood though
     
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  10. AhSver

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    @Poetic Justice , Atheism is Atheism, whether it is positive or negative, I think. That solemnly depends on the individual's perspective and understanding.
    The only universally accepted examples of "Negative Atheism" I can think off is a Nazi Germany Atheism as it had no respect for other ways of living, the same can be applied to the Soviet Russia state Atheism. If Atheism is used to justify harm done unto others whether physical or mental or used to suggest that others are wrong for not pursuing it -- I could also consider such cases as "Negative Atheism." But these are all very tangible concepts in my opinion.
    "Positive Atheism" is really hard to imagine in the full spectrum. As far as it improves life of a person and doesn't harm others I would call it positive. However, Atheism is not a hope or a wish, it shouldn't have just a positive connotation, because it doesn't have any romantic wishful thinking in it, just "worst case scenarios" pretty much. Ideally it has to be realistic, beyond the ideas of Positive and Negative as these are two extremes that I can understand should be avoided for unnecessary coloration of the concept.
     
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  11. Poetic Justice

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    Linking the idea of positivity and helping people in with atheism or indeed religion is a dangerous thing. They are seperate ideas and should be thought of as such. Help people regardless of their beliefs.
     
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  12. hush

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    ^^ This, well said.

    Although, I'm not sure that the OP meant that people should only help other people who follow a certain belief system. I interpreted it is as meaning that instead of sending your prayers to a deity asking for assistance, or not helping someone because you believe their fate to be in a god's hands, that people should instead help one another themselves.

    It did sound like they wouldn't appreciate a gesture like, for instance, someone praying for their health, but from an atheist's point of view that makes sense. It wouldn't mean anything to them because they don't believe in any god, so prayer to them would be equivalent to inaction; it's not going to help them in any way. I think the OP meant to say that, for example, if someone needs a shoulder to cry on, offer yours - instead of telling someone that god hears your cries. Or, if someone is ill, instead of saying you'll pray that god heals the person, do something to improve their health, reach out.

    S/he seemed to be in favor of a network of support, of assistance from those around you instead of a force that may or may not exist, in other words.
     
  13. Flavus Aquila

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    I would call what is described here materialism: ie. the belief that nothing exists except matter and its related phenomena, like time, gravity, etc.

    I dislike materialistic atheists because I find their belief demeaning - because in rejecting spiritual existence, they imply that I don't have a spiritual aspect to my existence.



    What I would find strange is a kind of atheism which believes in a spiritual aspect of persons, but does not believe in spiritual existence that is not intrinsically connected to material existence.
     
  14. Apone

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    Is this an actual thing or are you just using your own term to describe how you think people should regard atheists or how atheists should act?

    I don't think that being an atheist means that you have to help people-- but if you do want to help someone or do something nice, then you're not just doing it because you think that it's what the gods want or your God wants. And if you want to be a selfish jerk and only think of yourself, then you're not going to be afraid that your God is going to punish you for it.
     
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  15. the

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    In what ways are you constantly discriminated against? Are you one of those people who introduces your self as (insert name) The Atheist?
     
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  16. 88chaz88

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    I've had 3 people in my entire atheistic life tell me that I'm going to hell. Well one person, the other two just said they felt sorry for me. Me being atheist only came up because they decided to start preaching in an online game, so I put them in the "nutjob" box and worry about it no longer.

    So yeah, how the hell do you get discriminated against by being atheist. Unless it's by the kind of people who consider anything that's not Christian specific (Christian rock, ect) Satanic, in which case they're so mental you shouldn't care.
     
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  17. Apone

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    It probably is connected, but that doesn't mean that we can understand it and put it into words, or that what we think it demands is what it actually demands, or that whatever it is has any sort of interest in our species. If there is a higher, cosmic truth (I don't think there is a 'truth', so let's just call it some sort of omnipotent consciousness or ultimate transcendence), it would probably include the human experience but also transcend it to such a degree that even limiting ourselves to the purest possible sense of what can be understood of it would almost inevitably be a distortion.
     
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  18. Korg

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    How is this different from Humanism?


    On atheism:

    One of my biggest problems with atheism is how obtuse it is with regard to personal experience. I agree it's scientifically unreliable but I wouldn't say it lacks significance. In many ways, personal experience is THE most significant aspect of life because it is LIFE ITSELF. It's why we are aware that there's something instead of being unaware that there's nothing.

    The way atheism often dismisses this has always been bothersome to me. I mean, if you hold the image of the sun in your mind, the results aren't testable - but you know the image was there in your mind. And I would wager that almost every human throughout history would be able to do the same if asked. To me, that is extraordinarily significant because it demonstrates that a vital constituent of our experience resides in a location that is accessible by man but completely beyond his verification. If there were a God, it's not unreasonable to assume it would choose to interface with us primarily through these experiential channels. After all, everything else in existence does via it's corresponding qualia: the experience of seeing the color blue, the sensation of ice in your mouth, etc.

    Also, that so many people have claimed to have had a transformative God experience is compelling, IMO, and I consider it unwise to disregard it. Their attempts to agree on any external codification of it (IE: religion) doesn't suggest anything more to me than this: the boundaries of language are too inadequate to transmit experiential data in an accurate way. That and the fact that man has a tendency to conflate his subjective experience with what's objectively true.

    I am not saying I am a firm believer in God, but I am saying I find atheism to be prohibitively narrow to the point of foolishness.

    TL;DR version: experiential evidence, while not scientifically reliable, ought not be disregarded as invalid.
     
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    #18 Korg, Jan 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
  19. sprinkles

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    I kind of get this, and see it both ways.

    I think theism can open ways of being through ideas and guidelines.

    However, any way of being should stand on its own merits, regardless of who or what lays down the tenets.

    Basically if you're compelled to do something by a deity, that thing you are doing should be so worthwhile in its own right that you would continue to do it anyway if you found out the deity actually doesn't exist. Otherwise it's just hollow and not very autonomous.
     
  20. hk427f3

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    Yeah, this is pretty much just humanism. Also, this is terrible way to use the word positive. Atheism is inherently negative. God does not exist. Conflating positive, negative, good and bad doesn't add any clarity to your language, it makes you sound just like all the spiritual weirdos out there.
     
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