How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

Spin-off from "Dialog on 'Creationists read this' "

Incl. intelligent design, belief in divine creation

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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2621  Postby Calilasseia » Jan 07, 2019 4:01 am

Jayjay4547 wrote:This last absurdly puffed-up and bloated post from Calli is just intolerable.


I regard your continuing to post lies about science as intolerable. Which is why I give your output the treatment it manifestly deserves. Oh, and once more, synthetic whingeing and bleating about post style, whilst ignoring the content, merely demonstrates that you have no answer to the awkward questions I pose.

Jayjay4547 wrote:I will try to respond to any post that makes a point without asserting that I have lied, and which does not use equivalents like mendacious, mendacity duplicitous or duplicity.


In short, you're demanding that we give you an easy ride whenever you post manifest bullshit and lies. You can shove that demand where the sun doesn't shine.

Post bullshit and lies, and I'll subject said bullshit and lies to the treatment it deserves.

Jayjay4547 wrote:It's an even playing field: I have never accused others in such terms.


Excuse me, but you've implied, through your repeat posting of the requisite bullshit and lies, that everyone else who doesn't subscribe to your fantasy world view is engaging in acts of manifest dishonesty. YOUR ENTIRE FUCKING PREMISE ABOUT YOUR FICTITIOUS "ATHEIST IDEOLOGY" IS AN ACCUSATION OF DISHONESTY LEVELLED AT SCIENTISTS. YOUR ENTIRE POST OUTPUT TO DATE HAS BEEN ONE LONE ACCUSATION OF DISHONESTY, AIMED AT ANYONE WHO DOESN'T TREAT YOUR FANTASY ASSERTIONS AS FACT.

Take the hypocrisy endemic to said post output, and shove it where the sun doesn't shine.

Jayjay4547 wrote: Call it "tone policing" if you like; I call it common decency.


Says the person WHOSE ENTIRE OUTPUT TO DATE HAS BEEN ONE LONG ACCUSATION OF DISHONESTY AIMED AT THE REST OF US HERE.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2622  Postby archibald » Jan 07, 2019 10:48 pm

Without wishing to lend any credibility at all to the OP, I would like to say that I do not in principle have much of a problem with atheism being described as either an ideology, a worldview or a belief system.

I say that partly because I'm bored and might like an argument. But also because I do think it.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2623  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 08, 2019 6:57 am

archibald wrote:Without wishing to lend any credibility at all to the OP, I would like to say that I do not in principle have much of a problem with atheism being described as either an ideology, a worldview or a belief system.

I say that partly because I'm bored and might like an argument. But also because I do think it.


In principle? What principle is that? Would that be the principle that you're bored, and you might like an argument? Or is it the principle that you don't have a problem with something and therefore don't have to explain further? That's a pretty sound principle, if you ask me. Given that you didn't ask me, you might like to argue about that, too.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2624  Postby zoon » Jan 08, 2019 11:05 am

archibald wrote:Without wishing to lend any credibility at all to the OP, I would like to say that I do not in principle have much of a problem with atheism being described as either an ideology, a worldview or a belief system.

I say that partly because I'm bored and might like an argument. But also because I do think it.

I think one problem here is that the word “ideology” is generally used as a pejorative. Wikipedia here gives the definition: “An ideology is a collection of normative beliefs and values that an individual or group holds for other than purely epistemic reasons”, but in practice, other people’s views tend to be “ideologies”, while one’s own set of opinions is perhaps more likely to be a “worldview”? I would agree with Archibald that most current atheism is associated with a particular worldview: that there is an underlying mathematical structure to the universe, which is not unduly complicated. This worldview is in conflict with the view that there’s any kind of humanlike moral structure to the universe, which worldviews like Buddhism or the perennial philosophy accept even if they don’t specify gods.

In the present day, atheism is usually coupled with acceptance of the scientific view of the world. While science is not an ideology in that it is always open to contrary evidence, I think it’s fair to claim that modern science is by no means just about piling up random facts, the defining feature is ongoing success in demonstrating a deep mathematical structure to which the facts conform. Modern science got underway with Newton’s demonstration that astronomical objects and objects on the earth’s surface followed the same laws, which in their underlying form were fairly simple mathematical equations.

Freeman Dyson’s article here, which newolder recently linked to in this post, about the similarities between Maxwell’s theory and quantum physics, also makes the point that both of these triumphs of science demonstrate an underlying structure to the universe which is simple in mathematical terms, but very difficult for our evolved brains to come to terms with. I’ve quoted a chunk of the article below, the bolding is mine.
Freeman Dyson wrote:...
There were other reasons, besides Maxwell's modesty, why his theory was hard to understand. He replaced the Newtonian universe of tangible objects interacting with one another at a distance by a universe of fields extending through space and only interacting locally with tangible objects. The notion of a field was hard to grasp because fields are intangible. The scientists of that time, including Maxwell himself, tried to picture fields as mechanical structures composed of a multitude of little wheels and vortices extending throughout space. These structures were supposed to carry the mechanical stresses that electric and magnetic fields transmitted between electric charges and currents. To make the fields satisfy Maxwell's equations, the system of wheels and vortices had to be extremely complicated. If you try to visualise the Maxwell theory with such mechanical models, it looks like a throwback to Ptolemaic astronomy with planets riding on cycles and epicycles in the sky. It does not look like the elegant astronomy of Newton. ........

Maxwell's theory becomes simple and intelligible only when you give up thinking in terms of mechanical models. Instead of thinking of mechanical objects as primary and electromagnetic stresses as secondary consequences, you must think of the electromagnetic field as primary and mechanical forces as secondary.....

The second connection between Maxwell theory and quantum mechanics is a deep similarity of structure. Like the Maxwell theory, quantum mechanics divides the universe into two layers. The first layer contains the wave-functions of Schrodinger, the matrices of Heisenberg and the state-vectors of Dirac. Quantities in the first layer obey simple linear equations. Their behaviour can be accurately calculated. But they cannot be directly observed. The second layer contains probabilities of particle collisions and transmutations, intensities and polarisations of radiation, expectation-values of particle energies and spins. Quantities in the second layer can be directly observed but cannot be directly calculated. They do not obey simple equations. They are either squares of first-layer quantities or products of one first--layer quantity by another. In quantum mechanics just as in Maxwell theory, Nature lives in the abstract mathematical world of the first layer, but we humans live in the concrete mechanical world of the second layer. We can describe Nature only in abstract mathematical language, because our verbal language is at home only in the second layer. Just as in the case of the Maxwell theory, the abstract quality of the first-layer quantities is revealed in the units in which they are expressed. For example, the Schrodinger wave-function is expressed in a unit which is the square root of an inverse cubic meter. This fact alone makes clear that the wave-function is an abstraction, for ever hidden from our view. Nobody will ever measure directly the square root of a cubic meter.


Strictly, in the broadest sense, atheism is indeed no more than an absence of belief in gods. I think this is a useful point when theists try to argue that atheism is like theism in being faith-based. In practice, though, I think most current atheism is based on the success of science, which is itself, in the end, based on the kind of common-sense empirical evidence on which both theists and atheists depend in ordinary life – science-based plans work where prayers and theology don’t.

Edited to unscramble Freeman Dyson's name, thank you newolder.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2625  Postby newolder » Jan 08, 2019 11:17 am

I'm sure Freeman J Dyson wont take offence at the mixing of names here. :doh:
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2626  Postby zoon » Jan 08, 2019 11:23 am

newolder wrote:I'm sure Freeman J Dyson wont take offence at the mixing of names here. :doh:

:dopey: :thumbup:
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2627  Postby Fenrir » Jan 08, 2019 12:14 pm

zoon wrote:would agree with Archibald that most current atheism is associated with a particular worldview: that there is an underlying mathematical structure to the universe, which is not unduly complicated.


I would disagree. I would suggest the universe appears regular and that the regularities are amenable to description using mathematics.

Do I now have a different ideology?
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2628  Postby Scot Dutchy » Jan 08, 2019 12:28 pm

There is no current atheism. Atheism does not exist. It is nothing, the default. All definitions of atheism start from the presumption of theism. I dont think there are no gods. As there is no evidence why should I?
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2629  Postby felltoearth » Jan 08, 2019 12:35 pm

Indeed, what are the current theological perspectives on atheism? Does god still not exist? How many nonexistent angels can dance on the head of pin? Enquiring minds want to know.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2630  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 08, 2019 12:55 pm

felltoearth wrote:Indeed, what are the current theological perspectives on atheism? Does god still not exist? How many nonexistent angels can dance on the head of pin? Enquiring minds want to know.


Do you think there are any modern theists who do not base their beliefs on religious traditions, or at least on having something named "god" in religious tradition? Would you know it if you met one? The concept of deities is inherited from ignorant, pre-scientific nomads, and is not original to any theologian since then, especially those who propose a deity that hides from evidencing, which is just ad hoc bullshit offered in response to requests for evidence. Simply lacking belief in that sort of deity seems a bit of an underachievement. Confronting theist arguments with "lack of evidence" is a passive way to reject theist claims. It's not an ideology to recognize that concepts of deities are inherited from our ancestors, and refusing flatly to reject those ideas as being inherited from ignorant savages is very close to ancestor-worship.

Theological perspectives on atheism? Don't make me laugh. Jayjay does not engage as some kind of ideology my principled position on deities, because my position is behavioral, rather than philosophical. Theism is nothing more than a behavior. Jayjay is manifestly unwilling to engage with the notion of deities as nothing but an empty intellectual tradition that proposes some kind of intentionality or teleology to our existence. "Lacking belief in deities" simply avoids adopting a position on what kind of behavior theism actually is, and instead treats it as a philosophical problem. Philosophy causes many more problems than it solves, here, but if you like that sort of thing, knock yourselves out.

Jayjay's going to plead with you, "Look at the harmony of nature! Is that not evidence of ' destiny that shapes our ends, rough hew them how we may'"? Wherever did we get the idea of destiny, man? Do we really just lack evidence for "a destiny that shapes our ends"? If you want to shape your ends, do some buttock crunches.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2631  Postby surreptitious57 » Jan 08, 2019 2:29 pm

The harmony of nature ? I certainly hope he doesnt use that as an argument because it would be incredibly selective indeed
I would be here for quite a while thinking of all the life forms and observable phenomena that are anything but harmonious

All creatures bright and beautiful / All creatures great and small
All creatures wise and wonderful / The Lord God made them all


Yeah yeah yeah but what about all the ones not so bright and
beautiful or wise and wonderful ? Who or what made them ?
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2632  Postby archibald » Jan 08, 2019 4:15 pm

zoon wrote:
I think one problem here is that the word “ideology” is generally used as a pejorative. Wikipedia here gives the definition: “An ideology is a collection of normative beliefs and values that an individual or group holds for other than purely epistemic reasons”, but in practice, other people’s views tend to be “ideologies”, while one’s own set of opinions is perhaps more likely to be a “worldview”? I would agree with Archibald that most current atheism is associated with a particular worldview: that there is an underlying mathematical structure to the universe, which is not unduly complicated. This worldview is in conflict with the view that there’s any kind of humanlike moral structure to the universe, which worldviews like Buddhism or the perennial philosophy accept even if they don’t specify gods.

In the present day, atheism is usually coupled with acceptance of the scientific view of the world. While science is not an ideology in that it is always open to contrary evidence, I think it’s fair to claim that modern science is by no means just about piling up random facts, the defining feature is ongoing success in demonstrating a deep mathematical structure to which the facts conform. Modern science got underway with Newton’s demonstration that astronomical objects and objects on the earth’s surface followed the same laws, which in their underlying form were fairly simple mathematical equations. ......

....Strictly, in the broadest sense, atheism is indeed no more than an absence of belief in gods. I think this is a useful point when theists try to argue that atheism is like theism in being faith-based. In practice, though, I think most current atheism is based on the success of science, which is itself, in the end, based on the kind of common-sense empirical evidence on which both theists and atheists depend in ordinary life – science-based plans work where prayers and theology don’t.


Yes, I would have to be using the words I chose in a non-pejorative sense and they would have to be received and understood in that sense.

To add to what you say, I've also always been unsure as to whether all there is to 'bare atheism' is only a lack of something. I know that's the definition, and in many ways it seems correct. I've used the 'I'm aunicornist too' line myself many times. But, sometimes I wonder, does that mean I lack a belief in unicorns or does it mean that I believe (in this case to a pretty strong degree) that they probably don't or don't exist. Can I actually mentally have a lack of something in other words? How would or even could a lack of something even manifest physically in my brain?

Try this. I am thinking of something right now but you don't know what it is. So, it would seem that you are unable to either believe in its existence or not believe in it. Does that make you neutral, or unbelieving (a-the-something-archibald-is-thinking-about) or what?

Or is it the case that you need to know about something in order to not believe in it (or believe in the not of it if you like, which I'm provisionally suggesting is what atheism is, for the sake of argument)? I have never been totally ok with the suggestion that babies are born as atheists for example.

This is surely not that controversial. Doesn't everyone have to be somewhere along a spectrum of belief (or Dawkin's Scale of probability)? His number 6 (De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. "I don't know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there") seems to cover what I'm saying (and his no. 7 is a strong belief, not a lack of belief).

Now you might say that you agree with that, but that it's just a belief, not an ideology, but I think that might be hair-splitting, because in reality unless you don't believe in the world (or believe that the world does not exist) you will believe in a world with no god, and surely that gets us to a worldview, arguably a belief system and (non-pejoratively) essentially an ideology, even using the definition you cited from wikipedia, since the "other than purely epistemic reasons" applies to all beliefs, to at least some extent, even those which are supported by evidence.

Don't start me on the blurred line between those and religion. That might be a bit more controversial. :)

But not, imo, entirely out of bounds. We could discuss what Émile Durkheim said on the topic for instance.

And don't tell me you don't believe in beliefs. I knew someone once who said that about himself. I could never quite figure out what he meant, but it sounded very interesting.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2633  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 08, 2019 4:54 pm

archibald wrote:Doesn't everyone have to be somewhere along a spectrum of belief (or Dawkin's Scale of probability)?


No, everyone doesn't. At the very least, they don't have to take the Dawkin's (sic) Scale as their gospel or set of tablets of the Law. Written religion is older than the Roman empire, and predates modern concepts of scientific evidence. Had the inventors of deities had that advantage, you wouldn't have to fiddle around with the Dawkins Scale. You've inherited your concept of deities from them, and seem reluctant to discard talking about them as beliefs mainly because other people believe in them.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2634  Postby archibald » Jan 08, 2019 4:55 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:
archibald wrote:Doesn't everyone have to be somewhere along a spectrum of belief (or Dawkin's Scale of probability)?

No, everyone doesn't.


Says you.

Oh. Now I'll change my mind. Cito has spoketh.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2635  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 08, 2019 4:57 pm

archibald wrote:
Cito di Pense wrote:
archibald wrote:Doesn't everyone have to be somewhere along a spectrum of belief (or Dawkin's Scale of probability)?

No, everyone doesn't.


Says you.

Oh. Now I'll change my mind. Cito has spoketh.


You'll note that everyone includes me. Refresh your knowledge of pronouns, arch.

In fact, someone thinking about it rationally will note that people have been raving about deities since long before there was any formal concept of scientific evidence. Someone thinking about it rationally will conclude (rather than simply believe) that gods are the invention of primitive people who lacked (among other niceties) a germ theory of disease or a sense of how much larger and smaller objects in the cosmos are than what they can see. It should not matter to you that the people who invented the concept really believed that a deity or set of deities kept the universe functioning.

In creating that "scale", Dawkins was simply begging believers to ask themselves how confident they are about something they never really thought about. And now, here we are on a supposedly rationalist website hemming and hawing about the so-called Dawkins Scale, as if we couldn't think it through, or were afraid that somebody will mistake our conclusions from evidence for a belief. I'm not provisionally an a-unicornist, pending evidence that Thor keeps a well-hidden stable of unicorns.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2636  Postby archibald » Jan 08, 2019 4:59 pm

Cito di Pense wrote:In fact, someone thinking about it rationally will note that people have been raving about deities since long before there was any formal concept of scientific evidence. Someone thinking about it rationally will conclude (rather than simply believe) that gods are the invention of primitive people who lacked (among other niceties) a germ theory of disease or a sense of how much larger and smaller objects in the cosmos are than what they can see. It should not matter to you that the people who invented the concept really believed that a deity or set of deities kept the universe functioning.

In creating that "scale", Dawkins was simply begging believers to ask themselves how confident they are about something they never really thought about. And now, here we are on a supposedly rationalist website hemming and hawing about the so-called Dawkins Scale, as if we couldn't think it through, or were afraid that somebody will mistake our conclusions from evidence for a belief. Nobodys's provisionally an a-unicornist, pending evidence that Thor keeps a well-hidden stable of unicorns.


I only used the Dawkin's Scale as an example. The idea was that you can (or at least do) only have beliefs, that you can't actually have unbeliefs.

You can have conclusions based on reasoning and evidence, sure, but (a) maybe they are still beliefs and (b) atheism is supposed to be a lack of belief so talk of conclusions is slightly away from the point.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2637  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 08, 2019 5:01 pm

archibald wrote:
Cito di Pense wrote:In fact, someone thinking about it rationally will note that people have been raving about deities since long before there was any formal concept of scientific evidence. Someone thinking about it rationally will conclude (rather than simply believe) that gods are the invention of primitive people who lacked (among other niceties) a germ theory of disease or a sense of how much larger and smaller objects in the cosmos are than what they can see. It should not matter to you that the people who invented the concept really believed that a deity or set of deities kept the universe functioning.

In creating that "scale", Dawkins was simply begging believers to ask themselves how confident they are about something they never really thought about. And now, here we are on a supposedly rationalist website hemming and hawing about the so-called Dawkins Scale, as if we couldn't think it through, or were afraid that somebody will mistake our conclusions from evidence for a belief. Nobodys's provisionally an a-unicornist, pending evidence that Thor keeps a well-hidden stable of unicorns.


I only used the Dawkin's Scale as an example. The idea was that you can (or at least do) only have beliefs, that you can't actually have unbeliefs.


And you expounded a very tedious wibble involving the epistemology of stuff that's only inside someone else's skull. Sure, you can go down that road and decide to practice ontology that includes the stuff that people think. Just state your bona fides before you start.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2638  Postby zoon » Jan 08, 2019 5:02 pm

Fenrir wrote:
zoon wrote:would agree with Archibald that most current atheism is associated with a particular worldview: that there is an underlying mathematical structure to the universe, which is not unduly complicated.


I would disagree. I would suggest the universe appears regular and that the regularities are amenable to description using mathematics.

Do I now have a different ideology?

Except in some academic contexts, the word “ideology” is now loaded with negative overtones, which is why Jayjay used it for this thread. It implies that the belief system in question is one that rational persons would avoid. Nobody’s going to say their own worldview is an ideology, it’s a word to throw at opponents. I think it’s a case of: He has an ideology, you have a belief system, I have a worldview? I do think there’s a scientific worldview, which is perhaps where we disagree?

I’m somewhat torn here, because I do agree that the primary meaning of “atheism” is the broad one, the absence of claims of theism. Theism does, it seems to me, make a huge empirical claim about the world, that it’s governed by powers which are humanlike. The versions of theism which avoid making any empirical claim seem to me to be hopelessly watered down. If theists are to make their case, they need to bring forward positive reasons for accepting their positive claim, they can’t just say that theism and atheism are equivalent faith-based positions. I don’t want to lose sight of atheism as the default position, the absence of theism.

At the same time, it is historically and currently the case that the power of atheism, its rise in opposition to theism, is almost entirely driven by the power of the scientific viewpoint. Before about 1600, from the dawn of history, religions were everywhere, the problems for any one religion came from heresy, or from a different religion. Mass atheism has only become a phenomenon since about 1900, and this, I think, is entirely down to the fact that science works while prayer doesn’t?

I’m happy with what you say when you write: “I would suggest the universe appears regular and that the regularities are amenable to description using mathematics”, but I don’t quite see why this shouldn’t qualify as a worldview? To insist that it’s not a worldview, it seems to me, is to downplay rather drastically the unity of science, and the hard work and vision behind it? We don’t by any means stumble over the various mathematical regularities of science in our daily lives; what we grow up with and learn to navigate are things like solid objects and people, which as Freeman Dyson points out in his article have no resemblance to the mathematical simplicities underlying modern physics. Until Newton and the giants whose shoulders he stood on, those mathematical laws were not apparent at all, even to the most careful observers. Only a small proportion of people, even now, are capable even of stating what the underlying mathematical regularities are, never mind explaining how they were discovered and verified. They have to be searched for, with an extraordinary amount of coordinated effort.

Certainly, the scientific viewpoint includes the possibility that any of the theories could be wrong, it’s overtly dependent on the empirical evidence, it’s not about to become faith-based in the manner of religions faced with inconvenient evidence. I would still regard it as a worldview which is as sweeping as the religious one: one sees the world as acting in accordance with mathematical regularities which are likely to be comprehensible to us, the other sees the world as governed by powers which are like humans. Neither worldview is obvious in ordinary life. The scientific one works and the religious one does not.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2639  Postby Scot Dutchy » Jan 08, 2019 5:03 pm

archibald wrote:
Cito di Pense wrote:
archibald wrote:Doesn't everyone have to be somewhere along a spectrum of belief (or Dawkin's Scale of probability)?

No, everyone doesn't.


Says you.

Oh. Now I'll change my mind. Cito has spoketh.


Well I dont. What is a belief scale. A load of nonsense. That is exactly what I was saying everything starts always from the theist stand point which is not default. To have a scale of belief is typical theism. You must believe in something even though for them it is negative. I turn it around; nobody believes in anything. Any belief is an illusion.
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Re: How atheist ideology messed up the human origin story

#2640  Postby Cito di Pense » Jan 08, 2019 5:06 pm

archibald wrote:
You can have conclusions based on reasoning and evidence, sure, but (a) maybe they are still beliefs and (b) atheism is supposed to be a lack of belief so talk of conclusions is slightly away from the point.


Well, that's why it's so awkward for you to try to think about it, since you use other people's beliefs to give yourself a starting point. That's what I mean about the stuff that's locked up inside somebody else's skull.

If, on the other hand, your epistemology is so weak that you're about to say that everything is a belief, even the value of evidence, then maybe that's a product of the sort of evidence you're most used to dicking around with.
Хлопнут без некролога. -- Серге́й Па́влович Королёв

Translation by Elbert Hubbard: Do not take life too seriously. You're not going to get out of it alive.
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