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I'm a rather unusual atheist (at least on this platform), since I not only do not hate religions - I'm positively fascinated by them: On the one hand religions seem to be absurd, but on the other hand they are an integral feature of human nature, like music or language. And like almost all features of human life and culture, they have their bright and their dark aspects. I refuse to put on blinkers to see only one side.

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“The meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day, from hour to hour. What matters, ...
Matias comments on Sep 22, 2018:
Thank you for quoting Victor Frankl, a psychologist who does not deserve to be almost forgotten nowadays (although his logotherapy makes more sense than Freud's ultra-famous psychoanalysis). But I think that he misses an important point in the above quote. A "meaning of life" that changes from hour to hour is no meaning at all. Meanings should change as little as possible in order to serve as a (personal or collective) lodestar. The meaning of my life should not depend on my whims, but it should be a stabilizing element "above" my whims and moods. Frankl discovered the basic ideas his logotherapy in the KZ, where he noticed that people who knew that their life was part of something larger were better able to cope with the horror of the KZ. But a "meaning" that changes from hour to hour is not larger than me. It is blown in the wind of my moods
I look across my life, at the roles I've had the honor to , and find myself not longing for the ...
Matias comments on Sep 21, 2018:
"So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun." Ecclesiastes 8:15
"Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward."Keirkegaard
Matias comments on Sep 21, 2018:
Yes, Kierkegaard was another of those tormented souls who have difficulties living their life forward. Did he understand his life? I doubt it, since he viewed it through the religious lens. In his case, faith did not provide him with blissful ignorance.
See it all the time.
Matias comments on Sep 21, 2018:
If happiness is based on an illusion, why should we destroy it? Truth is not a good or an end in itself (people who think so are unwittingly falling in the trap of an old Christian prejudice: that "the Truth will liberate us"). No, sometimes illusions are conducive to health and happiness, and knowing the naked bleak truth is a recipe for depression. If you disagree, please have a look at "Depressive realism" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Depressive_realism
I spent decades applying inductive & deductive logic algorithms to computer programs and ...
Matias comments on Sep 21, 2018:
A Christian would say: The sin of the Nazis was to kill millions of *innocent* people, but those who burn in hell *deserve* it. Frankly: is it not a pity that the hell is a myth, and that people like Hitler or Stalin or Pol Pot got away with their heinous crimes without any punishment? I am sure that even many atheists would like to see Hitler and the other evil guys get what they deserve. That is the reason why humans invented ideas like hell or karma in the first place
History goes on whats next ?
Matias comments on Sep 21, 2018:
Growing up? If people do not longer bow to and dedicate their lives to some imagined supernatural beings, they bow to and dedicate their lives to some ersatz religion at hand: money, consumerism, nation, identity, politics, their pursuit of 15 minutes of fame, sports,... Most people NEED something they can bow to, otherwise their lives are empty and meaningless (The meme above pops up at least once a month :-)
Has anyone else had a religious friend ask where your sense of morality comes from? Didn’t really ...
Matias comments on Sep 20, 2018:
Empathy and reciprocity may be the evolutionary roots of moral behavior, but human morality adds an important layer : a shared system of norms and values several members of a group can tap into and which functions as a sort of operating system for a specific community. Empathy and reciprocity are already active and present in chimps, but apes do not have morality, since they lack the mental capacity to create inter-subjective systems of *norms* which acquire a sort of "objectivity" when adopted and believed by many individuals. The norms transcend the minds of individuals and their whims (nothing like that exists in the social life of apes, which is entirely based on emotions, whims and situational tactics). After a person has adopted a specific moral norm, it becomes part of his/her identity, sometimes to an extent that people will give their life to defend this moral norm or these moral values, considering them sacred (whether they are just tribal or universal, like "human rights").
Apistevist
Matias comments on Sep 20, 2018:
No, because this is not a common word (it is not listed on Merriam-Webster). I know that "pistis" is the (old) Greek word for "Faith", so that apistevist could be somebody who does not have any faith. But that feature is already covered by "skeptic" or "freethinker"
"Philosophy is the art of being unhappy, intelligently." Discuss.
Matias comments on Sep 19, 2018:
All I can say is that I had a happy childhood, till I got hooked on philosophy (my first drug was Nietzsche, soon followed by Schopenhauer, Sartre, Heidegger) and my happy-go-lucky days were gone. Just coincidence or causation?
Regarding the Hidden God Problem. It would seem that God, assuming a God of course, went to a lot...
Matias comments on Sep 19, 2018:
What kind of revelation twenty-first-century-style would convince you?
Religious ppl have a thousand poor reason to believe in God ; but together they don't add up to a ...
Matias comments on Sep 19, 2018:
Finding reasons is the business of the rational, cognitive part of the brain. The emotional parts of the brains, which are far more important for happiness and well-being, cannot live and thrive on reasons and facts. Religion caters to these emotional needs. See Stephen T. Asma: What Religion Gives Us (That Science Can’t) https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/03/opinion/why-we-need-religion.html
Science adjusts its views based on what’s observed. Faith is the denial of observation so that ...
Matias comments on Sep 19, 2018:
Scientific observations give us *facts*. But human beings crave *meaning*, which they do not and cannot find in science (or to be precise: in scientific statements. Of course, being a scientist can make Susan's or Peter's life meaningful - but most people are not scientists!). Therefore folks turn to faith or imagined orders like religion or any other ideology like humanism or communism to find some meaning that transcends the scientific facts. Religion or ideology has no place in science itself, but it can be tolerated alongside science. The two only collide if religious people make factual statements like "God literally created the Universe and all life on earth in six days 6000 years ago".
Guess he understood "edge".
Matias comments on Sep 19, 2018:
Nietzsche was my start drug into philosophy when I was 17 years old and read his Collected Works from "The Birth of Tragedy..." to "Antichrist". - Fortunately I am clean now... Now I'm allergic to this philosophy of the Superman, the strong, the "blond beast"
WOTM: Atheist Deaths vs. Religious Deaths - misterdeity [youtube.com]
Matias comments on Sep 18, 2018:
Stalin was less an atheist than an anti-theist. He actively tried to suppress and eradicate the Christian Religion in the Soviet Union and he imprisoned and killed Orthodox priests and other people who stubbornly refused to subscribe to the Communist dogmas because of their religion.
Who is the most knowledgeable public atheist today?
Matias comments on Sep 18, 2018:
Daniel Dennett has the widest range of knowledge at his disposal. And: unlike many other atheists, he is never found guilty of sloppy thinking just to score a point. I think that his "Breaking the Spell" is still the most sophisticated book on the topic.
Creationism isn't just wrong scientifically and historically, it's also wrong ethically and morally....
Matias comments on Sep 18, 2018:
Just one friendly tip: If you post long texts, and if you want many people to read them, use *paragraphs*
I am an Atreeist. That means that I do not believe that I have a tree growing on the top of my head....
Matias comments on Sep 18, 2018:
As I see it, an "atreeist" claims that there are no trees. There is no reference to "head" in "atreeist".
Jesus The Myth
Matias comments on Sep 18, 2018:
Whether a man called Jesus from Nazareth really lived or not is totally irrelevant. It is only relevant for Christians. But neither side can prove or disprove its opinion on this matter **Ideas** (and myths, tales, beliefs) make the human world go round, and certainly this Jesus idea was and is (!) one of the most successful in cultural history (which does not mean that it is true or good; influenza viruses are successful too...).
The Middle Way Society: Agnosticism
Matias comments on Sep 18, 2018:
They write "Hard agnosticism is the recognition that we can never achieve certainty in our knowledge because of our finite and embodied nature." I would subscribe to this opinion if they had added the word "metaphysical" before "knowledge". In my opinion we can make a lot of statements with certainty ("X is true beyond reasonable doubt")
How will the universe end? Four theories.
Matias comments on Sep 17, 2018:
The Universe will come to an end in x billion years when neither I nor any other human being will be around to witness it. So why should we care?
Why do religious ppl hate reality? For them truth is irrelevant, belief is all that matters. If the ...
Matias comments on Sep 17, 2018:
There are even many religious *scientists* who consider their work to be a kind of divine service: studying God's creation. Besides: "reality" is much larger than what science can ascertain.
Why do ppl think that the phrase " I am a person of faith" is something to be proud of? What they r ...
Matias comments on Sep 17, 2018:
Most religious people I know do NOT claim to know God or all the secrets of the divine order. They know very well that their faith is based on faith and personal experiences. Please note that during the first centuries CE the Christian apologists fought against the so-called "gnostics": sects whose members claimed to have true *knowledge* of the divine order and all the secrets of heaven and earth. Christians blamed them of being guilty of *hubris*
Is Christianity a religion or a cult?
Matias comments on Sep 17, 2018:
My (personal) definition of "cult" includes a charismatic figure dominating and inspiring his disciples / followers. When this spiritual leader dies, the cult either goes extinct, or it morphs into a religion. Christianity or Islam certainly took the second path.
My nihilism
Matias comments on Sep 17, 2018:
Depends on whether your "nihilism" is just a mental attitude, or whether this "absence of values" also shows in daily, practical life. If nihilism means treating values as tools to manipulate fellow humans, it is not OK. Donald Trump is probably the best-known example of practical nihilism.
“Either God wants to get rid of evil, but he can’t; or God can, but he doesn’t want to; or God...
Matias comments on Sep 17, 2018:
There is a way out of this conundrum about God and Evil: The "Chain of Being" as in the philosophy of Plotin. "God" - according to this philosophy - is just what we might call the highest order of the *Chain of Being*, the lower orders are all necessary manifestations of Being, and what we call "evil" is a necessary feature of the lowest order, which is the order of matter. Therefore, what we call "good" and "evil" are just necessary (!) features of the lower levels of Being / Reality itself, no God could abolish evil, because God does not "exist" outside Reality but is "part" of it. The problem of "theodicy" only exists if we treat God as an independent actor outside of Being, like a man building a model railroad in his basement. See also : "Philosophia perennis" or "Perennial philosophy" in Wikipedia
Competition: healthy or not?
Matias comments on Sep 16, 2018:
I barely notice the points.. I would not care if I stayed on level 4 or 5 for the rest of my life. Never have been a competitive guy anyway...
What physics or physical law(s), principle(s) or relationship(s) determine the value of the physical...
Matias comments on Sep 16, 2018:
This question is made for @TheAstroChuck - where is he?
One is the loneliest number: the history of a Western problem | Aeon Ideas
Matias comments on Sep 16, 2018:
Very interesting. Key sentence: "Loneliness and economic individualism are connected". I would delete the "economic". Loneliness and modern individualism are just two sides of the same coin. Even in the realm of religion we see that suicide rates are higher in more individualistic Protestant societies than in more communitarian Catholic societies.
Had a discussion about science and faith with one of my students the other day. Pretty much said ...
Matias comments on Sep 16, 2018:
Science can only provide facts. But human beings crave *meaning*, which they do not and cannot find in science. Therefore they turn to imagined orders like religion or any other ideology like humanism or communism to find some meaning that transcends the facts. Religion or ideology has no place in science, but it can be tolerated alongside science. The two only collide if religious people make factual statements like "God literally created the Universe during six days 5000 years ago.
Funny enough, it is mostly the same people that believe in both...
Matias comments on Sep 15, 2018:
that is how it continues: "Note, however, that I am not denying the effectiveness or potential benevolence of religion. Just the opposite. For better or worse, fiction is among the most effective tools in humanity’s toolkit. By bringing people together, religious creeds make large-scale human cooperation possible. They inspire people to build hospitals, schools and bridges in addition to armies and prisons. Adam and Eve never existed, but Chartres Cathedral is still beautiful. Much of the Bible may be fictional, but it can still bring joy to billions and encourage humans to be compassionate, courageous and creative ..." - - (Yuval Noah Harari)
Ever stuck anyone as weird how peddlers of spiritual (non physical) guarantees demand material ...
Matias comments on Sep 15, 2018:
I have to pay real money when I go to the theater or the opera, where I receive "spiritual" benefits. Even "spiritual" people have to buy food or clothes or pay their rent in the physical world - so they need physical money.
Can a person believe in evolution and the Bible at the same time?Lots of people say they do. Choose ...
Matias comments on Sep 14, 2018:
This really is a no-brainer. The question is "Can a person believe...?" The answer (whether we like it or not, whether we consider it reasonable or not) is yes. Millions of people believe that the Bible is God's word, AND they believe that evolution is a fact. Even the Catholic Church (!) officially believes both things simultaneously.
Faith is a belief system not based on evidence. If you don't follow her face then you follow ...
Matias comments on Sep 14, 2018:
Faith and science operate on two different levels of explanations. Don't forget: The totality of all entities in the world in which we live as human beings is much greater than the totality of all scientific facts
I agree ??
Matias comments on Sep 14, 2018:
Of course! Science should be taught in science classrooms; religion taught in religion classrooms. The less they get in each other's way, the better (at least in school.)
The Real Problem I Love this site and the clarity of thinking exhibited, even love chasing down the...
Matias comments on Sep 13, 2018:
That is exactly one of my standard arguments I have been putting forward on this site... That religion is much more than just a set of beliefs and pseudo-explanations, and that believers are just stupid... What is it that makes religion so attractive to many people? According to Tim Crane in his book "The Meaning of belief" (that every educated atheist should read), there are basically two motivations: (A.) the** "religious impulse"**. That is a sense of the transcendent, of there being “more to it all than just this.” It is the desire to transcend the own little, fragile and evanescent life towards something that is "bigger", more stable, more meaningful, and to live one’s life in harmony with the transcendent (whether it is called god or the "divine order" or whatever.) (B.)** "identification"**: To be religious is more than subscribing to a set of propositions, tenets, dogmas; it is an integral part of one's identity. "Identification" refers to the the fact that religions are inherently social institutions; that, as the famous French sociologist Durkheim said, one does not just believe in a religion, one *belongs* to it.
SPECULATE: CAN ATHEISM BE SPREAD LIKE FAITH? Religion has become rich,powerful, and ubiquitous ...
Matias comments on Sep 13, 2018:
What would be the "unique selling point" of atheism? Freedom of thought? That is already guaranteed in all Western societies; people can believe whatever they want. Look! How amazing and wonderful! The Universe is just chance and necessity, devoid of meaning! .... who would feel attracted by this? I do not think that atheism is gaining ground because it is so attractive, but religion - especially organized mainstream religion - is repulsive to more and more people.
We need to stop making excuses for religion, stop enabling this disease and start treating it like ...
Matias comments on Sep 13, 2018:
Any practical suggestions? How do we have to "treat" this cancer? Do we want to pass a law that makes it punishable to bring religious faith to children? Taking away toddlers from their religious parents and put the kids in "education camps"?
My friends and I use the terminology of "baby atheists" for atheists who have recently abandoned ...
Matias comments on Sep 13, 2018:
Babies may be stressful, but they are also cuddly and cute. The worst are the "adolescent atheists": full of energy, rebelling against the established order, but often enough without having a deeper understanding of what they are up against.
Where are you on the bridge? What are YOU doing there? For many years I have thought of ...
Matias comments on Sep 13, 2018:
This bridge might be in need of repair. Most people just keep using the bridge without having any idea about the material or the foundations it was built on.
Is it just me, or r there a lot of people on here that are really taken with their own ability to ...
Matias comments on Sep 13, 2018:
Some people wear their ignorance like a badge of allegiance. If somebody is trying to use proper grammar or orthography, he must be one of "them".
Capitalism works on much the same principle as evolution. Does anyone else find it odd that ...
Matias comments on Sep 12, 2018:
That Capitalism works on much the same principle as evolution is only known to people who have studied evolutionary theory, and applied it to the study of cultural phenomena There is even a branch of economics called "evolutionary economics" https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evolutionary_economics But to most Christians, evolution has nothing to do with culture, but applies only to the domain of biology. To them there simply exists zero intersection between evolution and capitalism.
Will things in the world continue to get better?
Matias comments on Sep 12, 2018:
The answer depends on the focal group. For rich humans the odds are high that things will continue to improve. For poor people, I am not sure. For animals and nature in general the outlook is not promising at all, and deterioration on that side of the picture will negatively affect our future too. Climate warming is just the most prominent example, and poor people will be affected most
There are so many lives negatively impacted by religious training! I was recalling today how many ...
Matias comments on Sep 12, 2018:
You write "The main reason for these astronomical rates of self-destructiveness among our young: religious training and the bullying that results from it." The overall picture is that in Western societies, people who are active members of religious communities have a lower risk of committing suicide. That does not mean that it is the religion itself which serves as a buffer against depression, anxiety or negative stress, but maybe it is the community. BUt there is no evidence that religious people are more prone to suicide than the nonreligious https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4482518/
Morality doesn’t mean ‘following divine commands’. It means ‘reducing suffering’. Hence in...
Matias comments on Sep 12, 2018:
"Reducing suffering" is based on compassion and empathy. Morality is different. Empathy and Reciprocity are the roots of moral behavior, but human morality adds an important layer : a shared system of norms and values several members of a group can tap into and which functions as a sort of operating system for a specific community. Empathy and Reciprocity are already active and present in chimps, but apes do not have morality, since they lack the mental capacity to create inter-subjective systems of norms which acquire a sort of "objectivity" when adopted and believed by many individuals. After a person has adopted a specific moral norm, it becomes part of his/her identity, sometimes to an extent that people will give their life to defend this moral norm or these moral values, considering them sacred (whether they are just tribal or universal, like "human rights").
Is big bang theory plagerzing biblical text?
Matias comments on Sep 12, 2018:
Do you mean "plagiarize"?
Never thought I'd say this, but I kinda miss the cold war. At least we weren't the bad guys.
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
To Lefties in Germany (or France), you always were and will be the bad guys. At least since 1968. ( I am not one of them :-) )
Hans-Georg Maassen: the spy who went out into the heat – Headlines
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
I can assure you: this affair is not "shaking Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government to its core". This bloke will probably lose his job - and that's it
Imagine there's no countries It isn't hard to do Nothing to kill or die for And no religion too ...
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
People die and kill for many reasons, not only countries or religions: sex, their family, money, honor, territories, their reputation, race...
Believers, please share your moral views on this. God murdered children, men of god rape them. (no...
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
Shooting fish in a barrel?
Theists, what do you think of the multi-millionaire prosperity gospel pastors? Crooks or angels?
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
I have met some people on this site who claim to be "spiritual" but "theists"? I wish there were any, but if there is somebody, he or she is keeping a low profile
Odi profanum vulgus et arcea...who else?
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
Si tacuisses, philosophus mansisses.
Love everyone! That is a message which doesn't depend on religion, but is a basic, primal need. We ...
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
True: we are a social species, some scholars even call us ultrasocial, which is not very far away from eusocial (= state-building insects like bees or ants). But we are not social regarding ALL human beings, but social in a biblical sense: Love thy neighbor. Which means : we are a tribal species, we are ready to practice "parochial altruism": sacrificing personal benefits for the good of - no, not humanity, but OUR group (family, clan, tribe or nation). We are eager to cooperate with OUR people in order to better compete with THEM - the barbarians on the other side of the river (or stupid Trump supporters, ...). Universal love? Forget it. Maybe some athletes of compassion are capable of that, but not ordinary humans.
People fear what they do not understand.
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
And sometimes people fear what they understand - because they understand it. Sometimes it is better to remain *blissfully ignorant* about a depressing reality.
Do humans have a right to ignorance?
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
Of course they have. Imagine that your father is a bearer of the allele causing a deadly disease called Corea Huntington. So your chance is 50/50 that you will die of this disease (there is no cure). You have the right to make a test in order to known whether your father bequeathed this allele to you, but you have also the right to remain ignorant.
I have raved about Jonathon Haidt's book "A Righteous Mind" many times on this site. In my opinion,...
Matias comments on Sep 11, 2018:
Thank you very much for the tip! Being a great fan of Jonathan Haidt ("A Righteous Mind" is one of my all-time favorites!), this new book is now on the top my to-read list (a)
💯 exactly my thoughts today
Matias comments on Sep 10, 2018:
To say "I pray for you" means "I think of you". The alternative is not "I make you a sandwich" but "I do not care about you. Out of sight - out of mind".
10 reasons atheists do it better Over a year ago by PAUL RATNER Although the exact number ...
Matias comments on Sep 9, 2018:
If all this is true - and there is no doubt that most of it is true, even if it would be useful to tell which of this is only correlation and what is due to causation - it is very strange indeed that not everybody has already converted to atheism
Your purpose
Matias comments on Sep 9, 2018:
Given that I do not believe in any "higher cause" there is no purpose. Just life.
Yeah, encountered a lot of them, .. :)
Matias comments on Sep 9, 2018:
I know many people who claim to like science, but when you take a closer look at what they actually say you realize that their love for science is more paying lip-service. They use science and its findings when it suits them, when it confirms some of their pet prejudices.
Are there any one here interested in English grammar or phonetics or both?
Matias comments on Sep 9, 2018:
Although English is only my second language and I never studied it properly, I try my very best ,,, Up until now, more people object to *what* I say, not *how* I say it (a)
We have had a member post about the "reconciliation" of science and religion. To cut through the...
Matias comments on Sep 9, 2018:
I do not think that you bothered to actually read the post to are referring to. Whether religion and science can or cannot be reconciled depends on the perspective. Historically, there is no contradiction (Most of those who invented what we call "science" in the early modern period were devout Christians) Personally, there is no contradiction either (many contemporary scientists, even some of the "major league", are religious) From the methodological point of view, there is indeed a contradiction, because scientists have to practice what I would call a "methodological atheism": whatever is their motivation to study God's creation, they have to forget all about god when they are doing scientific research. As long as they are scientists, they have to act AS IF they were atheists, even if they personally see no contradiction.
Everything we do is selfish. Even when we're being 'selfless' there is something we're getting out ...
Matias comments on Sep 8, 2018:
You define "selfishness" in such a fuzzy and broad way ("there is something we're getting out of it") that renders the definition meaningless. Being selfish means: when A and B interact, A is being selfish if he/she gets an advantage /benefit *to the detriment of B* : A wins and B loses. If A and B benefit, that is called cooperation or mutualism. Therefore if I am a partner in a win-win situation, I am not acting selfishly.
I have an idea, which I postulated a long time ago, and aside from some thought and a little ...
Matias comments on Sep 8, 2018:
Given that most Christians just know that their God is "three persons" without understanding this rather sophisticated concept, I do not think that the idea of Trinity did contribute a lot neither to the success of Christianity nor to the success of Islam.
Looks like a worthwhile read. The theory of the bicameral mind could explain the origin of religion....
Matias comments on Sep 8, 2018:
It may explain the origin of religion, but it does not explain why religions persisted and spread even after the bicameral mind broke down.
How come that Nazis are walking on our streets
Matias comments on Sep 8, 2018:
"Nazis" thrive when liberals have overreached. It is an inevitable *backlash*. Whether it is the Sweden Democrats or the AfD in Germany, they owe their success to failures of dominant mainstream parties.
Hello, I've been researching for fifty years trying to fit the supernatural into a natural ...
Matias comments on Sep 7, 2018:
I think there is only one way to reconcile the "supernatural" with evolution: God or the deity or the Divine not only created the Universe and life, but it is part of it. The Divine is embedded in all forms of life, powering and guiding them so to speak from "the inside". Teilhard de Chardin believed that God "lost" himself in the Creation only to find back to Himself via evolution. Of course, there is no scientific evidence for such a divine interior of the world, but what we know about the world does not contradict such a belief. Another version of that theme can be found in the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo ("The Life Divine") who argued that divine Brahman manifests as empirical reality through "lila", or divine play (= the evolving Universe).
I want to talk evolution.
Matias comments on Sep 7, 2018:
Nothing in life makes sense except in the light of evolution. - - (To anybody who would like to correct me: I know that Dobzhansky said "biology" instead of "life", but I think that evolution really is the master key of all biological and cultural (!) phenomena
New York Times Op-Ed "I am part of a resistance inside the Trump white house."
Matias comments on Sep 6, 2018:
This op-ed is water on the mills of all right-wing conspiracy theorists who always believed that there is a deep state subverting Trump. Now one of the figures of the deep state confirms these suspicions.
“When one person suffers from a delusion, it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a ...
Matias comments on Sep 6, 2018:
If a person suffers from delusions, this has serious negative consequences for that man or woman. If religions were mass delusions, they would have been weeded out long ago by natural selection.
Is religion or spirituality okay as a coping mechanism?
Matias comments on Sep 6, 2018:
Everything that helps cope with the vicissitudes of life, and which has few or no negative side effects is welcome as a coping mechanism. Remember there is no heaven where all the tough guys who resisted the temptations of blissful illusions, and who stumbled along without crutches will be rewarded. Better to be happy and blinkered, than being an unhappy philosopher.
The world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit.
Matias comments on Sep 6, 2018:
So - would you say that Avicenna did have wit? Religion he did have (a)
So,religious people actually,find the word atheist offensive,why? Been blocked by someone,who first ...
Matias comments on Sep 5, 2018:
Where's the problem? Being blocked just is the price you sometimes have to pay for being a maverick or refusing to align with the majority.. Dozens of users on this forum blocked me because I do *not* find the word "religion" offensive - as any real atheist has to...
All is well in your heart, soul, and mind.
Matias comments on Sep 5, 2018:
Is this the kind of mantra they teach you in the "Positive Thinking" class?
I really feel like this meme is pretty accurate.
Matias comments on Sep 5, 2018:
Which meme?
If you had to sum up the whole human species in 3 words, what would those words be?
Matias comments on Sep 4, 2018:
ultrasocial cultural animal
Religion, Politics, Sport ... a Tribal Fact. The problem with humanity, is that our individualism ...
Matias comments on Sep 4, 2018:
Individualism is not the human default. Most humans throughout history in most places and times did not see themselves as "individuals" but as members of groups (family, tribe, clan, nation, religion). Our modern individualism is a recent development, and it is largely confined to the "West". So the default situation is to be part of "a bigger picture", and that is where "common sense" is rooted in (not in reason!). Men and women who view themselves as 100% individuals are living a meaningless life, because all their connections to other people are transitory and tactical.
New movement, Aufstehen, opposes fascism in Germany [counterpunch.org]
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
"Aufstehen" is not meant to counter fascism in Germany. It tries to mimic the (rather successful) left-wing populist movement "La France insoumise" in France, combining traditional left-wing policies within a nationalistic framework. Sahra Wagenknecht, who is the initiator of "Aufstehen" was even accused by her friends from the Left ("Die LINKE") of flirting with right-wing populism in order to win back voters from the AfD, because she (Wagenknecht) is not an unmitigated supporter of the "refugees welcome" ideology of "DIE LINKE".
This must be where some of the "unused" brain cells go...
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
that is also the place where countries, money, laws or corporations like Apple "exist".
Comments? [theatlantic.com]
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
The Chinese officials put Muslims in these camps not primarily because of the religion, but because they view Muslim Uighurs as a minority that threatens "harmony" in China. Maybe those unlucky Uighurs would be in the camps even if they were atheists
How against religion are you?
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
Against religion as such? Not at all. I hate all kind of fanaticism, be it religious or political. Nobody would say "I am against politics" just because there are some right-wing or left-wing extremists. The same applies to religion. I hate the toxic varieties of religion, but I am fascinated by religion as such, although I am personally completely religiously tone-deaf
I may be wrong, but I see religiosity as more of a generational belief system. Meaning it's ...
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
Your post is based on the misguided idea that religions are basically sets of beliefs about the world out there, and because science gives much better answers religion is obsolete and all those who cling to it despite scientific evidence are stupid and stubborn. Religious belief is not simply a failed epistemology or a failed cosmology, or simply a morality, and it is not simply a cosmology plus morality. Religion is a way of life, it is practical. It involves not just believing in certain propositions or doctrines, or knowing certain stories, but also it involves acting in a certain way, as well as belonging to a certain community.
Circular reasoning Christians
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
Only mathematicians can prove theories - and their case they are called "theorems". Not even scientists can really prove theory - they can just amount a lot of evidence. Many philosophers tried to prove the existence of a supreme being, just using pure logic, but the jury is still out whether anyone of them succeeded or not.
Would you prefer it if there WAS a Creator of some sort? If yes, why? And if no, why?
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
Yes, I'd like to have a Creator - but a decent creation too, not the kind of bloody mess we are living in. A Father-like figure who created the world (or a Mother, if you prefer), who considers all creatures to be his/her children, which would imply that we are all powered by sunlight (not having to eat each other to stay alive). And above all: a *moral* Creator and a *moral* creation, where the evil guys get reliably punished during their livetime (not in an imaginary hell later), and where the good people get their rewards. What could be wrong with such a world?
Steven Pinker
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
Did Pinker - or anybody else - ever bother to gather the facts in an unbiased way? Is that possible in the first place when religion is concerned? By the way: the theory that the state is a force for peace lacks evidence too (Just think about all the wars states have fought!). Is that a cogent argument against the state? Or is science a force for peace? Who would be able to gather reliable and unbiased evidence pro and contra? Broad-brush statements like these simply do not make sense and should be avoided by intelligent and educated people like Steven Pinker.
We're mental! science
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
I do not think that science is lacking funding in our Western societies. And the football stars gets this huge amount of money because MANY people want to be entertained watching football. After all it is the audience who pays that money ( and the companies sponsoring the sport), it is not tax payer's money, as far as I know.
Philosophy book by a friend of mine. This was written by a friend of mine here near Nogales, AZ, ...
Matias comments on Sep 3, 2018:
Why do you "take some notes on your phone while reading it in Kindle"? You can mark sentences on your Kindle and then export all your markings to your PC or any other device. That way you can have many pages of excerpts from your e-book.
Why during christ lifetime wasn't there any mention of him by any scholar of the times
Matias comments on Sep 2, 2018:
Sources for the historicity of Jesus: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sources_for_the_historicity_of_Jesus
Religions: More harm then good? The depth of intellectual damage religions impose on their ...
Matias comments on Sep 2, 2018:
I voted "positive effect" Are religions still useful today? We do not need them any more to organize our societies, because secular institutions have evolved that are doing that job better. But religions are still useful on a more individual level for mainly two reasons: - they give meaning to people's lives (a kind of meaning that it anchored in something greater and that transcends the here and now), and - they constitute and maintain a kind of community that is rare nowadays in a world of rampant competition among individuals who are desperately pursuing their vision of "happiness".
In general, and very simply put, do you think people are basically good but are capable of doing ...
Matias comments on Sep 2, 2018:
Not backed by scientific evidence, my experience is : about 5- 10 % of the populace consists of "saints" (= people who mostly or even always put the interests of their neighbors first, acting pro-socially in an other-regarding way; about 5 - 10% of the populace consists of toxic narcissists like Trump, socio- and psychopaths and other inveterate a--holes; and the rest - the great majority - are *opportunists*: people who look what others do, who check the situation, who act pro-socially when they are watched and want to improve their reputation, but who act selfishly when they see an opportunity for a quick gain and think they can get away with it.
The reason for Trump is directly because of religion. Why? Because religions condition people to ...
Matias comments on Sep 1, 2018:
The alliance of the Christian Right with Trump is purely tactical. They loath Trump but they hate liberals like Hillary Clinton even more, so they voted for the pussy-grabber in chief hoping that he would deliver. And deliver he did, for example Gorsuch and Kavanaugh for the SCOTUS. Apart from that there is no connection between Trump and religion
I have been an atheist all my life, but am fully aware that I am in the minority. I have wondered ...
Matias comments on Sep 1, 2018:
Where does the need for religion originate? According to Tim Crane in his book "The Meaning of belief", the religious world-view should be seen as a combination of two fundamental attitudes: (A.) the "religious impulse". That is a sense of the transcendent, of there being "more to it all than just this." It is the desire to transcend the own little, fragile and evanescent life towards something that is "bigger", more stable, more meaningful, and to live one's life in harmony with the transcendent (whether it is called god or the "divine order" or whatever.) (B.)"identification" : To be religious is more than subscribing to a set of propositions, tenets, dogmas; it is an integral part of one's identity. "Identification" refers to the the fact that religions are inherently social institutions; that, as the famous French sociologist Durkheim said, one does not just believe in a religion, one belongs to it. Identification means to belong to a historical tradition, and making sense of the world through ritual and custom as an expression of this tradition. (This includes the moral element in religious belief too.)
The Bible, the old and new testament. I think of the bible as a very important historical book ...
Matias comments on Sep 1, 2018:
That *the bible as a very important historical book documenting the evolution of thought, culture and morals* is also the main thesis of (evolutionary biologist) Carel van Schaik and (historian) Kai Michel in their wonderful book "The Good Book of Human Nature: An Evolutionary Reading of the Bible". If you have not read it yet... you'd like it!
Religion provides an extended brotherhood.
Matias comments on Sep 1, 2018:
Religion provides an extended spiritual family whose members are connected by their shared love of the transcendent. Nonreligious brotherhoods are more shallow and unstable.
Are humans inherently good?
Matias comments on Aug 31, 2018:
This question is strange, because if humans were inherently good, there would be no wars, no rape, no violence ... Apart from some exceptional individuals we call saints and some other exceptional individuals we call 'evil' or 'psychopaths', all humans have the capacity of doing good and bad things - and often enough it depends on the perspective whether a certain deed is good or bad. A more meaningful question, one that is discussed in science, is: Is Homo sapiens an inherently cooperative species, or is selfishness the human default and cooperation is nothing but a Machiavellian strategy to gain some advantage in a never-ending struggle and competition. My opinion is that there is no evidence that selfishness is the human default. On the contrary: Homo sapiens became the dominant species because we are a VERY cooperative and even *ultrasocial* animal.
Nice question
Matias comments on Aug 31, 2018:
They are two sides of the same coin - and the "coin" was created by cultural evolution piggybacking normal cognitive and emotional mechanisms of the human brain.
What’s your opinion of self-hating atheists like S.E. Cupp, who also praises Christianity? A ...
Matias comments on Aug 31, 2018:
I do not know S.E. Cupp and her position, but I do not see any contradiction between being an atheist and seeing positive aspects in Christianity (or other religions). I would never *praise* Christianity, but I am convinced that it has its bright sides too - like all religions - although I think that the Christian God is as real as the tooth fairy.
Debatable Inquiry - YouTube
Matias comments on Aug 31, 2018:
It would be nice to give us a clue or even a short summary what the video is all about.
Would you rather believe in science or religion? Reality or fantasy ? Why is it so difficult for ...
Matias comments on Aug 30, 2018:
What's wrong with "myth"? In a certain sense, we cannot live without myth. Humans cannot exist without beliefs, as cultural animals they have to plug into many belief systems. "No one lives on bread alone" said Jesus. I would say: "Nobody can live on proven facts alone". People find it difficult to understand the idea of "belief system" or "imagined order" because they assume that there are only two types of realities; objective realities, and subjective realities. In fact humans have evolved to create *inter-subjective objects* and orders based on their beliefs. Some examples of Imagined orders are : money - laws - corporations - nations - religion The imagined order or belief system exists - or "exists" if you prefer - in the shared imagination of millions of people. Things like any monetary system, the idea of human rights, or the United States of America itself exist as inter-subjective realities. The imagined orders and belief systems shape our deepest desires, how we view ourselves and world around us. We believe the fictional realities of our culture because we are born into it.
Historically religions have created a framework to give belonging and purpose. What can be done to ...
Matias comments on Aug 30, 2018:
A agree with @TheAstroChuck - There can be more ephemeral groups that dispense with "mythology", or -as one might call it today - a foundational narrative. If you want a stable and resilient group or "tribe" you need a stronger glue. Religions provide the strongest social glue, which is the result of maybe 40,000 years of cultural evolution and selection processes. Modernity has witnessed the rise of god-less quasi-religions like Communism or fascism or Liberalism. The narratives and imagined orders of these ideologies can be as strong and stable as traditional religions.
Robot Rights
Matias comments on Aug 30, 2018:
Human beings do not have human rights because they have certain capacities. If rights were linked to capacities or faculties like reason or consciousness or the sense of being a person, or whatever, mentally severely handicapped people would not have "human rights", since they are incapable of all those capacities that are specific to humans. Therefore: Human rights pertain to humans, and only to humans, regardless of any properties.

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