Opt in or opt out?

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Opt in or opt out?

Postby MakkaPakka on Fri Jan 07, 2011 5:30 am

Firstly what a wonderful thought experiment this religion is. But do you really need another religion to prove the nuttiness of existing religions? Let me explain. Although most people would argue that atheism is not a religion I would say it is a firm belief in no God. Atheists (and I count myself amongst their number) have no proof that there is no god, where we differ from mainstream religion is the lack of dogma. There is nothing written that states that we have to believe in no God and most of us would be quite happy to accept proofs to the contrary of any widely held atheist beliefs such as evolution, the big bang, string theory, or a lack of God. So if atheism is a religion then we already have such a counter religion for the mainstream ones.

I read the email of November 27th, 2010 from Jordan with great interest. It is a powerful argument that 82.3% of the population should dictate the school syllabus and not the minority of atheists. Of course his argument ignores the fact that a significant number of Christians are happy to see evolution and creationism as going hand in hand (that is god got the ball rolling and evolution took over) but let's agree for a moment that the majority should have the democratic right to dictate what our laws should be and what is taught in school.

I am sure you are aware that in some religions people are born into the religion. In some cases there may be an assumption that a child born into a family will take the religion of the parents until that child opts out. In other countries the child will automatically take on the national religion and will be persecuted (in the extreme in some cases) if they choose to opt out (if they even have that option). Even if you do not accept that a child can be born into a specific religion then you are really saying that all children are born atheist and must undergo some strange ritual (be that soaking in water or perhaps genital mutilation) to be accepted into the faith. But as I've already discussed, atheism is a religion (but one without dogma).

So if you can automatically be born into a religion and later have to opt out then why can this not be true of FSMism?
Why can we not assume that everyone world wide must accept the logical truth that is the existence of the FSM and that if they really want to they can revoke their belief by uttering the words "I do not believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster" and if they wish to make this official they may register their incredulity on this very message board. Surely you will get no argument from mainstream religions for simply copying their policy.

Once you have made the following additions to the FSM constitution you will suddenly find that FSMism is the worlds largest religion.
    -We firmly believe that all people of the world, regardless of location, are born into FSMism.
    -Any person may at any time opt out of the religion with no prejudice and feel free to rejoin at any time.
    -FSMism is not an exclusive religion, a believer may be a member of any other faith without prejudice to their membership of the FSM faith.

And once you are the worlds largest religion you can simply sit back and tell the schools to start teaching your firmly held beliefs.

Makka Pakka (a.k.a Nick)

and just for the record "I do not believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster".
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby daftbeaker on Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:14 am

:confused: It's probably not your fault, I am seriously tired and taking a lot of pills. Are you suggesting a publicity exercise where we claim that anyone who hasn't specifically denied FSMism is taken to be pastafarian when counting our numbers? If you are we can always go a stage further and emulate the mormons that go around 'baptising' dead people into their church :haha:
A casual stroll through the lunatic asylum shows that faith does not prove anything - Friedrich Nietzsche

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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby Tigger_the_Wing on Fri Jan 07, 2011 10:34 am

Please excuse any typos or confusion in the following. I'm tired, it's one thirty in the morning but it's too hot to sleep.
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Atheism is NOT a religion.

Just like not collecting stamps isn't a hobby.

Atheists don't, generally, have 'a firm belief in no gods'; just a lack of active or passive belief in the gods that have been posited so far to exist, due to the total lack of empirical evidence of their existence.

If Thor, for example, were to suddenly show evidence of his existence, I shouldn't be at all surprised to find atheists willing to believe in his existence. All the 'evidence' so far put forward by believers for the existence of any gods, goddesses or any other supernatural beings has been found to have a natural explanation.

Evolution isn't a 'belief'.

Long before Darwin and Wallace put forward a theory to explain how it could happen by purely natural means, it was recognised that life forms had a tendency to change over generations. Evolution is fact. The 'Theory of evolution by natural selection' part is the explanation of that fact.

It doesn't matter how often people assert that atheism and evolution are beliefs, repeating a lie does not make it true.

There is absolutely no evidence whatever that any of the thousands of creation myths invented by the myriad tribes of humanity is true. Of course they can all be taught to children in comparative religion classes. Until any evidence appears, they are not science and therefore should not be taught in science classes. In fact, all the evidence so far collected contradicts creation myths of all kinds.

Education isn't a matter of majority opinion, but of teaching our children the facts about the world that they will need to be successful. The majority do not get to decide laws that will endanger or discriminate against minorities. That isn't what democracy is about.

I am also now of the opinion that it is a form of mental child abuse to raise a child in its parent's religion and hope they won't opt out as adults, or even impose the death penalty on them for trying (as many religions do). Religion should be something that adults opt in to, as an exercise of free will, if they want to and without coercion.
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby Roy Hunter on Fri Jan 07, 2011 11:12 am

Tigger, as an individual you are absolutely correct: atheism is not a religion, and not collecting stamps is not a hobby.

As a society, however, we have norms and expectations that people will have some sort of spiritual belief system: we put questions on census forms and equalities monitoring forms to that effect; when a Muslim or a Jew asks you about your religion you have to give them an answer; we have to define that aspect of our lives somehow. Somehow, I have to use atheism to tick that box, to fulfil that social norm without pretending that it is a religion, and it's an absolute Jeremy Hunt of a thing to do properly.

As an individual, I am right with you about allowing kids to opt in to religion. As a society, however, we have a VERY long way to go before religion is seen as an extra rather than a norm.
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby MakkaPakka on Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:38 am

daftbeaker wrote:If you are we can always go a stage further and emulate the mormons that go around 'baptising' dead people into their church :haha:


I'd forgotten about the dead. I don't think they should be counted any more than any democracy would count the dead during an election. But certainly we can argue that they must have been pastafarians. If the FSM is real then s/he has existed for all time and his benevolent love would extend to all people regardless of their awareness of his/her existence.

Obviously nothing I've said should be taken too seriously anymore than we should listen to the crackpots that still believe the world is flat and a few thousand years old.

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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby MakkaPakka on Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:22 am

Tigger_the_Wing wrote:Atheism is NOT a religion.

Atheists don't, generally, have 'a firm belief in no gods'


I would counter that most atheists firmly believe the theory that there is no God. In my case that lack of a God and any kind of afterlife drives me to value life (including that of others) as being special, a one off chance, and that we should not take the life of another.

I will grant you that being atheist is something more than not being a follower of another religion. I will also agree that religion is perhaps the wrong word for atheism. But our beliefs are still beliefs. We do believe in a spherical planet but I bet the average visitor to this board has absolutely no proof that this is true other than what they have heard at school, university, or on television. I believe in evolution based on the works of Darwin and others but even their works do not prove evolution or disprove creationsism. Similarly the big bang theory is more than just an excellent tv show and string theory explains more than his holyness the FSM. Where I perhaps differ from most theists is that I'd be happy to accept proof of anything I believe or even disbelieve.

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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby daftbeaker on Sat Jan 08, 2011 9:48 am

MakkaPakka wrote:
Tigger_the_Wing wrote:Atheism is NOT a religion.

Atheists don't, generally, have 'a firm belief in no gods'


I would counter that most atheists firmly believe the theory that there is no God. In my case that lack of a God and any kind of afterlife drives me to value life (including that of others) as being special, a one off chance, and that we should not take the life of another.

I'd suggest you are two things; an atheist and a humanist. Atheism says nothing about how to treat people, just about the existence of gods. All the rest of the stuff I'd consider to be secular humanism. Incidentally, that's how I'd identify myself as well :wink:

The other point is the difference between believing there are no gods and not believing there are gods. It's the difference between active and lazy atheism (just my terms for it, no offence intended) or being non-religious and anti-religious. Both are atheistic but there's a semantic difference that's important to some people.
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby Qwertyuiopasd on Sat Jan 08, 2011 1:49 pm

Not that I want to stir up this whole debate again, (Or do I? :evilgrin: *) but while perhaps blanket statements that "Atheism is a religion" are a bit out of line because some/many atheists claim the opposite, isn't it the same fallacy to say "Atheism is not a religion" if some/many atheists claim the opposite?

Looking up the dictionary definition of Atheism, it seems to imply your active atheism, which sounds to me like a religious position, as described by MP.

Anyway, the main point I'm trying to make is if MP describes Atheism as a religion, obviously that's how he feels about the matter. Jumping on him and just saying "Atheism is NOT A religion" sounds like your trying to dictate what he believes for him.

Just an observation, really.

As far as being on topic, I like the idea. I don't think converting the dead would be in line with it though, since the point here is that everyone has free conscience to leave or join at any time. Being dead sort of precludes that, doesn't it? Unless we wanted to have some kind of "foreign student exchange" thing with FSM Heaven and other afterlives, or something.
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby daftbeaker on Sat Jan 08, 2011 6:53 pm

Qwertyuiopasd wrote:Not that I want to stir up this whole debate again, (Or do I? :evilgrin: *) but while perhaps blanket statements that "Atheism is a religion" are a bit out of line because some/many atheists claim the opposite, isn't it the same fallacy to say "Atheism is not a religion" if some/many atheists claim the opposite?

Looking up the dictionary definition of Atheism, it seems to imply your active atheism, which sounds to me like a religious position, as described by MP.

Anyway, the main point I'm trying to make is if MP describes Atheism as a religion, obviously that's how he feels about the matter. Jumping on him and just saying "Atheism is NOT A religion" sounds like your trying to dictate what he believes for him.

It's not a religion. You could conceivably call it a belief system or worldview but it doesn't fit the definition of religion (at least the way I interpret 'religion') :wink:

As a topical example of the difference between atheism and secular humanism, the person who shot and killed several people today, including a child, is apparently an atheist.
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby Qwertyuiopasd on Sat Jan 08, 2011 7:56 pm

daftbeaker wrote:It's not a religion. You could conceivably call it a belief system or worldview but it doesn't fit the definition of religion (at least the way I interpret 'religion') :wink:


Ah, you mean Atheism is not an organized religion. :wink:
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby daftbeaker on Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:10 pm

Qwertyuiopasd wrote:
daftbeaker wrote:It's not a religion. You could conceivably call it a belief system or worldview but it doesn't fit the definition of religion (at least the way I interpret 'religion') :wink:


Ah, you mean Atheism is not an organized religion. :wink:

No, I mean it's not a religion :moon:
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby Tigger_the_Wing on Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:01 am

As I see it, a religion is something more than just believing in supernatural beings. It is a belief system with rites, rituals, what-have-you.

Until atheists have rites, rituals etc. then atheism cannot be said to be a religion. Until failing to collect stamps has associated specific ritual and habits, it isn't a hobby.

One can be anti-religion and still believe in god(s). One can be atheist and practice a religion (if I understand Qwerty's previous posts on the topic, UUism would count). Monotheism, multitheism and pantheism aren't religions either, although there are many monotheistic, multitheistic and pantheistic religions.

So I suppose what I am saying is that failing to take up a hobby or have a belief in something could possibly be said to be (sort-of) a position on the hobbyist/religious spectrum (like regarding 'zero' as a number) for discussion purposes, although, strictly speaking, they are absences of a position.

I think that the word for people who have convinced themselves that it is actually impossible for any god at all to exist, should correctly be called 'anti-theist'.

Using 'a-' as a prefix to denote absence of something is common in other word uses, rather than 'anti-', 'non-'/ 'un-/in-/im-/il-' which tend to denote some kind of opposite to the word. 'Septic', 'aseptic' and 'antiseptic' are common words using the same prefixes, for instance. We also have 'moral', 'amoral' and 'immoral'.

We are all born atheist, illiterate, innumerate, incontinent and non-verbal, among others. They aren't an active choice on the part of the infant. Education has to take place before any of those positions can be changed, and all of them usually are in order that the infant can take its proper place in society. Increasingly, it has been discovered that the first does not need to be changed in order to raise someone to be a productive and pleasant member of society.

Yes, it could be said that a child should know all the cultural myths of the society into which they are born; otherwise they will find it difficult to understand a lot of their culture's history and multiple references in literature etc. But why should that child be told to believe in the absolute truth of those myths? It doesn't make sense.
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby daftbeaker on Sun Jan 09, 2011 2:07 am

Tigger_the_Wing wrote:Yes, it could be said that a child should know all the cultural myths of the society into which they are born; otherwise they will find it difficult to understand a lot of their culture's history and multiple references in literature etc. But why should that child be told to believe in the absolute truth of those myths? It doesn't make sense.

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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby Ubi Dubium on Sun Jan 09, 2011 3:55 pm

"Atheism is a religion the way "off" is a TV channel".

When someone uses the old "Atheism is a religion line on me, I, as an atheist, usually counter with, "No, atheism is an opinion about religion, not a religion.

Most atheists I have come in contact with (and on the internet, thats quite a lot) fall into the category of:

"The people claiming that a god exists have failed to make a convincing case for their claim. Therefore, until better evidence is presented, I will not believe in a god any more than I believe in leprechauns or fairies or the invisible pink unicorn. Shold convincing evidence be presented, I am open to changing my mind. However, considering the continual failure of theists to produce convicing evidence, despite their claim that such evidence exists, I think it is highly unlikely that they will ever manage to do so."

That certainly matches my viewpoint.

I rather like this "opt-out" idea. Maybe anyone who has ever eaten any form of Pasta is one of us, unless they specifically opt out. That catches almost everybody. It's better than counting all the people that a priest sprinkled water on as infants. This way people actively did something to join our ranks, even if they didn't realize at the time that it was a Holy Sacrament.
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Re: Opt in or opt out?

Postby PKMKII on Sun Jan 09, 2011 6:03 pm

It's an issue of semantics. If you define religion as one's religious beliefs, then yes, atheism is a religion. If you define it as the system attached to a religious belief, then no it isn't.

I just find it fascinating that nothing seems to get the goat of atheists like the "atheism is a religion" line. Do they feel that defining it as a religion makes it less valid? Do they not like the emotional baggage that comes with the word "religion"? Do they want to think that their decision came from a different thought process than other religious beliefs?
"How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, 'This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed'? Instead they say, 'No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.'" - Carl Sagan

"To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection." - Henri Poincaré
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