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    10 Mar '05 09:29
    Okay, just to start with, I can't stop people joining in, but I politely ask if people wouldn't mind perhaps directing any points they have on this issue to the "Atheism killed more people" thread, thank you.

    Originally posted by Darfius
    "Atheism as a code of beliefs has killed far more people."

    This was our starting statement, from which the conversation proceeded thus:

    Originally posted by Starrman
    Okay, you said originally that Atheism as a code of beliefs, kills more people than religion. To start with I think I should provide a decent definition of Atheism, so I had a hunt around for one that I think is accurate and it is this:

    Atheism is the lack of a belief in god/gods, a position held by a person that 'lacks belief' in god(s) and/or denies that god(s) exist for a number of reasons. Now I believe some clarification of that in terms of my own personal definition is in order, so I would go as far as to say that: I deny the existence of God. As an atheist, I accept only the material and physical world or what can be proven by reason. Therefore, lacking any form of empirical proof for their existence, I must assume that there is no such thing as either a supernatural entity, god(s), magic etc. So I guess we need to agree that this makes sense to you, if you have any questions on this definition alone, let me know and I will elaborate further. I shall await your response to this before continuing.

    Originally posted by Darfius
    I would just like to expound on that so we're both clear...believing there is no God means one is not answerable to anyone, correct?

    Originally posted by Starrman
    Well, in that because I deny the existence of god, I am not answerable to such an entity, yes. However I think it is important to stress that this does not mean I do not answer to my own conscience, or the moral and social standards that have been instilled in me by others or those I have developed through experience.

    Originally posted by Darfius
    If there is no God, then your conscience is an illusion. Morality and social standards are combinations of illusions. They do not restrain you, you choose to be restrained. And it is atheism that allows this choice to not be restrained, correct?
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    10 Mar '05 09:403 edits
    And that's where I left it and the debate was taken up by others.

    So, to answer your question Darfius:

    No conscience is not an illusion. It is an intangible concept in that it cannot be demostrated through physical means, but it is not an illusion. Conscience is derived through a sense of survival. If we look back at social evolution, we can see that what is best for a group, species, village etc. is what defines their standards. It is obviously counter productive to kill each other, stealing for short term gain does not enhance the long term goals of the group etc. In this way moral standards are set up and taught throughout the group. As time passes those standards become engrained in the groups, the groups merge with other groups and differences in standards are debated and settled upon and once more become engrained in the social culture of the society. We can see this if we look at the evolution of law in the human race. Our laws are built on a conceptual pyramid of previous laws, moral standards and cultural instances. Different countries have different laws and moral standards as a result of different social pressures.

    So I therefore see conscience as something that is learnt through social interaction and it is answering to your fellow man. My actions are judged by those around me, and I do not need some sort of supernatural judge for them, I exist though the opinions of my peers.

    However, we are straying from the point slightly, I have answered your query, but I wish to return to the debate at hand. Do you have any further questions on my definition of Atheism?
  3. Standard memberDarfius
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    10 Mar '05 15:45
    Originally posted by Starrman
    And that's where I left it and the debate was taken up by others.

    So, to answer your question Darfius:

    No conscience is not an illusion. It is an intangible concept in that it cannot be demostrated through physical means, but it is not an illusion. Conscience is derived through a sense of survival. If we look back at social evolution, we can see ...[text shortened]... to return to the debate at hand. Do you have any further questions on my definition of Atheism?
    I agree with your definition.

    However, I do not agree with your statement that conscience is not an illusion. Tell me, how is killing some stranger and taking his things not beneficial to YOUR survival? What is to stop someone from becoming a serial killer if they know they will not be caught?

    It's crucial that we address this point, for obvious reasons I would think.
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    10 Mar '05 16:19
    Originally posted by Darfius
    I agree with your definition.

    However, I do not agree with your statement that conscience is not an illusion. Tell me, how is killing some stranger and taking his things not beneficial to YOUR survival? What is to stop someone from becoming a serial killer if they know they will not be caught?

    It's crucial that we address this point, for obvious reasons I would think.
    I think the misunderstanding stems from your views of conscience on my survival. It is obvious that a single person, were he to step away from the morals of society as a whole, could bring himself to commit acts like murder and suffer no guilt or debt of conscience. But I am suggesting that, as a whole unit, society is an evolving thing and as such its survival and growth is dependent on the adherence of its members to the rules that govern society.

    So, killing a stranger and taking his things may be beneficial to someone who has left the moral code of his society behind, but to a member of that society it would be counterproductive. Also worth baring in mind is that if everyone were to commit murder at their whim, there would be no society, rather a state of anarchy where eventually survival was a purely physical thing, dependent on who was better at killing. The fact that society exists is testament to the fact that conscience does too. (I might suggest you watch a film called Battle Royale, which I think illustrates my point, I fear you may find it distasteful, but insightful nonetheless). If we remove conscience from society all hell would break loose. I am not a believer in god, and yet I do not murder, or steal, or commit acts of injustice. Nor do I act in a way which is counterproductive to society. Why? Because I have both a conscience and I adhere to the moral code that I have been raised to understand benefits society. I do not understand why you believe conscience to be an illusion. It seems to me, that by the very fact that I do have morals, suffer from guilt etc. it should be evident that my conscience is not an illusion, what has lead you to such a conclusion? Perhaps you would care to elaborate on that statement, having taking into account my explanation here.
  5. Standard memberDarfius
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    10 Mar '05 16:22
    Originally posted by Starrman
    I think the misunderstanding stems from your views of conscience on [b]my survival. It is obvious that a single person, were he to step away from the morals of society as a whole, could bring himself to commit acts like murder and suffer no guilt or debt of conscience. But I am suggesting that, as a whole unit, society is an evolving thing and ...[text shortened]... s you would care to elaborate on that statement, having taking into account my explanation here.[/b]
    I am not arguing that we all have consciences, I am arguing that it makes no sense if it was a result of random chance. All other animals kill on whims, and yet they all survive as a species. Why are we different?
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    10 Mar '05 16:41
    Originally posted by Darfius
    I am not arguing that we all have consciences, I am arguing that it makes no sense if it was a result of random chance. All other animals kill on whims, and yet they all survive as a species. Why are we different?
    You are mistaking animal instinct for whim. Animals operate in a similar way to us. Their societies are less advanced, as are their communication and interaction levels, but they too adhere to the same simple rules that gave birth to our modern laws and ethics. When an animal kills it does so for food, self-defence, or protection of others of its society. Animals rarely kill for no reason at all. The survival of their society depends on adherence to the greater laws of nature and those methods that are taught from generation to generation. They have learnt not to destroy their food source through overhunting, or to risk injury by fighting unecessarily, some animals are adapted to conserve energy so much they will not even fight if attacked, rather they will curl into a ball and hope their attacker goes away.

    So you see it is beneficial to animals to operate within a framework of instinct and this is dependent upon a balance. What is good for society, is good for the individual, the more successful their society, the more successful the indivdual can be. Killing on a whim would not be beneficial. Killing on the natural instincts of their society (to feed, to protect etc.) is beneficial.

    We are only different from animals in that due to the more complex social levels and the higher intelligence, our code of instinct is much more complex. We have discussed, philosophised, instructed and learnt about morals and ethics for centuaries. It is no surprise to me that it has evolved the way it has. As societies evolved, so too has the need for a more complex set of instinctual standards. What was once instinct has become laws and moral code.
  7. Standard memberDarfius
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    11 Mar '05 00:12
    I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree and save this for another debate. I agree with your definition of atheism and look forward to your 1st post.
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    11 Mar '05 09:43
    Originally posted by Darfius
    I suppose we'll have to agree to disagree and save this for another debate. I agree with your definition of atheism and look forward to your 1st post.
    Okay, so now I guess we need to set out a definition of religion. Sorry if this seems painstakingly slow, but I think it is important to set out the parameters within which we agree to work for the period of the debate. I shall set out what I believe is a good definition of religion and you are of course welcome to add to it or change it till we are agreed. Please bare in mind this is my definition of 'religion' as a whole, not of christianity or 'one true religion' etc.

    I believe a good starting point is this: Religion, sometimes used interchangeably with faith, is a system of thought, feeling and action that is shared by a group and that gives the members a belief concerning the supernatural, sacred, or divine, and the moral codes, practices and institutions associated with such belief. It is a code of behavior by which individuals may judge the personal and social consequences of their actions; and a frame of reference by which individuals may relate to their group and their universe. In its broadest sense it is the sum total of answers given to explain humankind's relationship with the universe. It is an acknowledgment of the extraordinary, the mysterious, and the supernatural. The religious consciousness generally recognizes a transcendent, sacred order and elaborates a technique to deal with the inexplicable or unpredictable elements of human experience in the world or beyond it. In the course of the development of religion, it has taken an almost infinite number of forms in various cultures and individuals. However, religion today is dominated by a number of major world religions.

    I await your comments.
  9. Standard memberDarfius
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    11 Mar '05 15:11
    Originally posted by Starrman
    Okay, so now I guess we need to set out a definition of religion. Sorry if this seems painstakingly slow, but I think it is important to set out the parameters within which we agree to work for the period of the debate. I shall set out what I believe is a good definition of religion and you are of course welcome to add to it or change it till we are agree ...[text shortened]... , religion today is dominated by a number of major world religions.

    I await your comments.
    Looks good to me.
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    11 Mar '05 15:45
    Okay, so finally we can get on to the original statement 🙂

    "Atheism as a code of beliefs has killed far more people."

    The first point I would like to make is that Atheism isn't strictly a code of beliefs, you may have meant something else when you originally posted this, but I shall continue. Atheism is a denial of belief, it does not have any associated factors with it other than a lack of belief in god. As such, you cannot say that Atheism is the reason for anyone killing anyone else. It may have been that an Atheist was also a psycopath, or that an Atheist was a powerhungry warlord, but it is not the Atheist in them that is the source of their crime. Atheism is not evil, it is merely a stance of someone requiring evidence and recieving none.

    You claimed in a prevous debate, that Hitler was an Atheist. Now I do not know what Hitler was, I imagine there is a lot of conjecture about what he did and didn't believe in, but let us assume that he was indeed an Atheist. The fact that he was an Atheist is not the reason for his hatred or anger or his genocidal intent. It may have been he was psychotic, it may have been that he had a bad upbringing, it may have been that he was a social misfit riddled with guilt and anger, who can tell? The point is that since Atheism is a lack of belief it cannot also carry a belief that, for example, the Jews needed eradicating. This is the result of an entirely different set of beliefs.

    I am an Atheist. However, I believe in peace, tolerance, forgiveness, pacifism, politeness, the power of music, the benefit of knowing oneself well, the fragility of a creative imagination etc. None of these things stem from or are joined to Atheism at all.

    So taking into account that you may have meant something other than your original sentence, I await your reply.
  11. Standard memberDarfius
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    11 Mar '05 15:59
    Originally posted by Starrman
    Okay, so finally we can get on to the original statement 🙂

    [b]"Atheism as a code of beliefs has killed far more people."


    The first point I would like to make is that Atheism isn't strictly a code of beliefs, you may have meant something else when you originally posted this, but I shall continue. Atheism is a denial of belief, it does not have ...[text shortened]... account that you may have meant something other than your original sentence, I await your reply.[/b]
    Atheism is the belief that no Supreme Being exists to give as absolute laws. Laws then become subjective and change with the times.

    Atheism allows murder to be fine if it is for the greater good. Hitler's atheism justified murder because while he was slaughtering "other apes--he was a fond promoter of Darwinism--he was doing greater good for the true superior race of apes. Just because YOU do not have the same beliefs does not make you right or Hitler wrong. Why was what Hitler did "wrong"?
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    11 Mar '05 16:24
    Originally posted by Darfius
    Atheism is the belief that no Supreme Being exists to give as absolute laws. Laws then become subjective and change with the times.

    Atheism allows murder to be fine if it is for the greater good. Hitler's atheism justified murder because while he was slaughtering "other apes--he was a fond promoter of Darwinism--he was doing greater good for the true ...[text shortened]... ve the same beliefs does not make you right or Hitler wrong. Why was what Hitler did "wrong"?
    You are adding a condition to the definition of Atheism and although the definition does cover this, it is not in order to specify this condition that the definition exists. Atheism does not justify anything, Hitler may have used it as an excuse, but he was wrong to. Atheism as a lack of belief, cannot be and excuse for any other belief or action. I would suggest that although Hitler may have understood Darwinism, he twisted it to fit his aims, aims that were the result of other beliefs he held. Darwinism is also not the same as Atheism, though many Atheists may believe in Darwinism. And Hitler actions did not stem from the definition of Atheism we have agreed upon.

    Atheism also does not preclude any code of morals. Whether or not I believe in god is not linked to whether I know what is right and wrong. My morals are society based. You may claim yours to be the result of religious conviction, but the truth is that moral codes were around long before the bible or christianity. Hitler had a broken code which he followed. It was not the result of Atheism that this code was broken, but for some other reason.

    I would warrant that you are unable to see how morals can be upheld by anyone who does not believe in god, but I promise you the two are not linked. I adhere to a moral code, I presume you do and in his mind I believe Hitler did too, the difference being that his code was faulty. His code of morals was certainly factored on his belief that he was doing the right thing, but it is plain to see from the bloodshed that followed that what he believed was not of benefit to him, his society, or the global society as a whole. His being an Atheist or not is of no matter.
  13. Standard memberDarfius
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    11 Mar '05 16:30
    Originally posted by Starrman
    You are adding a condition to the definition of Atheism and although the definition does cover this, it is not in order to specify this condition that the definition exists. Atheism does not justify anything, Hitler may have used it as an excuse, but he was wrong to. Atheism as a lack of belief, cannot be and excuse for any other belief or action. I would ...[text shortened]... im, his society, or the global society as a whole. His being an Atheist or not is of no matter.
    Why do people think that Christians think morals only began when the Bible was written? We claim God gave them to Adam and Eve (the first two human beings). But that is beside the point.

    You have yet to tell me why Hitler's actions were wrong. Who decides that they are and what gives them the basis?
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    11 Mar '05 16:36
    Originally posted by Darfius
    Why do people think that Christians think morals only began when the Bible was written? We claim God gave them to Adam and Eve (the first two human beings). But that is beside the point.

    You have yet to tell me why Hitler's actions were wrong. Who decides that they are and what gives them the basis?
    I'm sorry I thought I had made it clear, allow me to reiterate. Taking into account our previous posts discussing morals and society, it is clear that his actions were wrong because they did not benefit society's evolution. Rather they repressed it and caused millions of people to be killed unnecessarily. As I have mentioned before, society as a whole sets out the moral codes, be it on a local or global level. Society decides what is and isn't beneficial, what is right and what is wrong.
  15. Standard memberDarfius
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    11 Mar '05 16:47
    Originally posted by Starrman
    I'm sorry I thought I had made it clear, allow me to reiterate. Taking into account our previous posts discussing morals and society, it is clear that his actions were wrong because they did not benefit society's evolution. Rather they repressed it and caused millions of people to be killed unnecessarily. As I have mentioned before, society as a whole ...[text shortened]... r global level. Society decides what is and isn't beneficial, what is right and what is wrong.
    What gives society that basis? And how is it wrong rather than simply not beneficial? Eating ice cream rather than vegetables is not beneficial. But is it wrong?
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