Atheism, sociobiological construct?

Atheism

  • Can be explained by Sociobiology

    Votes: 10 32.3%
  • Cannot be explained by Sociobiology

    Votes: 10 32.3%
  • undecided / other (post please)

    Votes: 11 35.5%

  • Total voters
    31

BabyHeadCrab

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The following is a thread pertaining to religion, if you cannot post in a well constructed respectful manner please leave the thread. Check your ego at the door.

Today in Social Psychology the professor began to talk about what she believed (or potentially researched) to be behaviors explained by sociobiology or in layman's terms; inherited behaviors. The list included the obvious such as reflexes, drives, protection of newborns and territory and finally religion. After some time, one of the people in the lecture hall raised his hand and asked if religion was natural in all humans, or at least the desire to explain what we cannot, how can we - as a society, explain Atheism. The professor went on to say that Atheism was an outlier and was socially learned and defies the biological construct of religion.

I think that's rubbish. Atheism, as far as I know is a belief of sorts and coincides with the very human desire to explain. It's the belief that there is no god or deities, therefore it relies on a very basic desire to explain the unknown. What are your thoughts on this topic?
 

CyberPitz

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I share the same views as you do BHC. It's our way of explaining what happens after death and everything. It may not be as happy text book story time as other religions, but it's still an explanation.
 

PvtRyan

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It's the belief that there is no god or deities
Nope. It's no belief in gods or deities. It's therefor also not an attempt at an explanation of the unknown, for atheism is nothing. I don't think atheists have any less desire to explain the unknown, but realized religion offers no answers, only more unknowns or that they simply don't have the genetic trait for religiosity if any exists (ie: the gene for gullibility ;)) .
 

Llama

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Your professor is speaking shit.

Yes, humans have a desire to understand what they do not already. However, things like religion and god came about because we as a species (For the vast majority of our history) could not rationally explain the world around us, and so decided that constructs such as dieties must have been the answer.
 

BabyHeadCrab

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Nope. It's no belief in gods or deities. It's therefor also not an attempt at an explanation of the unknown, for atheism is nothing. I don't think atheists have any less desire to explain the unknown, but realized religion offers no answers, only more unknowns or that they simply don't have the genetic trait for religiosity if any exists (ie: the gene for gullibility ;)) .
So a child raised in a society that simply left religion out of it's learnings and discussion and therefore has no concrete belief system can be defined as an Atheist? Is one required to have some kind of knowledge of existing beliefs to declare themselves an Atheist? From what I see Atheism is a belief - a belief in disbelieving. To declare something about the unknown is a belief, even if it's declaring that there is no higher power. Atheism is an attempt to explain something.
 

99.vikram

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From what I see Atheism is a belief - a belief in disbelieving. To declare something about the unknown is a belief, even if it's declaring that there is no higher power. Atheism is an attempt to explain something.
Sigh...Atheists don't believe in the nonexistence of God. Rather, we believe that based on the evidence we have currently, the existence of God is unlikely. Also, if such a God were to exist, it is supremely unlikely that he (it?) would be exactly as some thousand year old religious text described him.

Please understand the difference.

EDIT: Simply put, there is no need to drag God into the picture unnecessarily.
 

BabyHeadCrab

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Sigh...Atheists don't believe in the nonexistence of God. Rather, we believe that based on the evidence we have currently, the existence of God is unlikely. Also, if such a God were to exist, it is supremely unlikely that he (it?) would be exactly as some thousand year old religious text described him.

Please understand the difference.

EDIT: Simply put, there is no need to drag God into the picture unnecessarily.
Honestly, I've heard different proclaimed Atheists claim either way. In fact I don't think there is a concrete definition, it has many variations (much like other religious constructs). See The Cambridge Companion to Atheism, as cited in this Wiki article.
 

Godron

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I don't see how atheism is an attempt to explain anything. What exactly does it explain? It's not even a theory, except the theory that the theists have got it wrong.
 

Eejit

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Sigh...Atheists don't believe in the nonexistence of God. Rather, we believe that based on the evidence we have currently, the existence of God is unlikely.
Sounds more like a type of agnosticism.
 

BabyHeadCrab

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All we're proving is that atheism and agnosticism are very weak terms, I suppose.
 

Glirk Dient

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I believe people are naturally predisposed to believing in the un-natural. Look at kids, they are always attributing some noise in the night to a monster. Why the leap to something not real instead of something logical? I think that this also manifests itself in religion. A kid doesn't know what caused the noise...he attributes a made up entity for it. A kid doesn't know where we came from or where we go...an idea of a made up entity is presented from his parents and church so it's natural the kid will follow suit. However...atheism is also a belief but not one that attributes noises in the night to the unknown and unprobable. I do believe that atheism...the belief that there is no god is a learned one. You first need to have rejected modern religions and then to actually be a strong atheist you must form logical arguments against religion.

I guess you couldn't really attribute a kid to having inherited christianity or any specific religion though. The most you could really attribute to a kid is their vulnerability to religion and how easily they will buy into a religion.

I believe that if a person were completely cut off from any notion of a supreme being or any form of religion that when presented with a religion later on in their life they would find the ideas silly. It works much the same way with other religions. People born under parents of a monotheistic religion find ancient religions silly and find a hard time even considering believing in Thor or Zeus.

Atheists don't believe in the nonexistence of God. Rather, we believe that based on the evidence we have currently, the existence of God is unlikely.

That sounds like agnostic. Atheists are positive there is no god or higher power out there. We are here for whatever reason and we only get one life so make the best of it.
 

Absinthe

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How does it try to explain the unknown? I'm of the view that atheism is an absence of belief, not a belief in absence. It's hard to twist that into an explanation of anything.

That sounds like agnostic. Atheists are positive there is no god or higher power out there. We are here for whatever reason and we only get one life so make the best of it.
You can technically be both.
 

Beerdude26

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What Absinthe said. Atheism doesn't try to explain stuff, it just acknowledges that an explanation can't be found in religions. (Is that right :dork:)
 

BabyHeadCrab

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How does it try to explain the unknown? I'm of the view that atheism is an absence of belief, not a belief in absence. It's hard to twist that into an explanation of anything
This thread begs this question; Do you believe your stance was at least somewhat influenced by biology? or was it entirely constructed socially? Perhaps a little bit of both? Your view of 'decidedly undecided' relies on decision making - not necessarily belief. If you were to spread your message, however, it would instantly become a belief of sorts, more specifically the belief that theists have it all wrong.

Here's a mind wringer: does 'deciding' not to believe constitute a belief?

Absinthe said:
You can technically be both.
Indeed
 

DEATHMASTER

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If there was only a single person on the planet, I wouldn't blame him for thinking that a higher being created him and all the stuff around him. I would blame him for giving this being names and other random bullsh17 like practices based on superstition. Atheism I think though would be another train of thought after thinking of the concept of a higher being. Then again Atheism probably came after religion (in my definition, crap based around the possible existence of a higher being(s)).
 

Stigmata

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I agree that atheism came "after" the advent of religion, but that's only because before we had religion, we didn't need to qualify any lack of belief in higher beings. It's only after people started believing in God that we needed a title for the lack of belief in such beings.

I don't have the time to explain myself fully, but I agree that both religion and atheism are sociobiological constructs.
 

Pesmerga

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Atheism wasn't "invented" nor was the product of any certain belief. Stating one is atheist is like stating one is not a mechanic. And you don't need the mechanic profession to say that; cavemen were, infact, not mechanics. Nor were they astronauts. They were, probably, atheists, until they started anthropomorphizing lightning and fire and sunsets.

I didn't need to know that some people believed in God to be an atheist. I don't ever remember believing in God, it's only recently in my life that I discovered that there was a word to describe the lack of belief of a God.

I've always been an atheist; I didn't turn into one.
 

Krynn72

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I believe people are naturally predisposed to believing in the un-natural. Look at kids, they are always attributing some noise in the night to a monster. Why the leap to something not real instead of something logical? I think that this also manifests itself in religion. A kid doesn't know what caused the noise...he attributes a made up entity for it. A kid doesn't know where we came from or where we go...an idea of a made up entity is presented from his parents and church so it's natural the kid will follow suit. However...atheism is also a belief but not one that attributes noises in the night to the unknown and unprobable. I do believe that atheism...the belief that there is no god is a learned one. You first need to have rejected modern religions and then to actually be a strong atheist you must form logical arguments against religion.

I guess you couldn't really attribute a kid to having inherited christianity or any specific religion though. The most you could really attribute to a kid is their vulnerability to religion and how easily they will buy into a religion.

I believe that if a person were completely cut off from any notion of a supreme being or any form of religion that when presented with a religion later on in their life they would find the ideas silly. It works much the same way with other religions. People born under parents of a monotheistic religion find ancient religions silly and find a hard time even considering believing in Thor or Zeus.
This is a really interesting idea. I think your post contradicts itself though. Because if we are predisposed to believing in supernatural being (like monsters in the night) then why, if we were left in a society that had no notion of a god, or even if we were left in total isolation, why would you think this natural belief of supernatural being would just go away? If we're left believing our own notion that unseen monsters are making noises in the night, then wouldnt it make more sense that when the time comes for us asking questions about our existence or life in general, that we would attribute these things to an unknown being also?
 

Absinthe

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This thread begs this question; Do you believe your stance was at least somewhat influenced by biology? or was it entirely constructed socially? Perhaps a little bit of both? Your view of 'decidedly undecided' relies on decision making - not necessarily belief. If you were to spread your message, however, it would instantly become a belief of sorts, more specifically the belief that theists have it all wrong.

Here's a mind wringer: does 'deciding' not to believe constitute a belief?
Atheism can lead to certain beliefs being fostered (ie. theists are wrong in their faith). But atheism in and of itself still does not offer an explanation of why they are wrong. While you may have many reasons or beliefs for becoming an atheist, the state of atheism itself has no explanatory purpose or definition.
 

Kadayi

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Today in Social Psychology the professor began to talk about what she believed (or potentially researched) to be behaviors explained by sociobiology or in layman's terms; inherited behaviors. The list included the obvious such as reflexes, drives, protection of newborns and territory and finally religion. After some time, one of the people in the lecture hall raised his hand and asked if religion was natural in all humans, or at least the desire to explain what we cannot, how can we - as a society, explain Atheism. The professor went on to say that Atheism was an outlier and was socially learned and defies the biological construct of religion.

I think that's rubbish. Atheism, as far as I know is a belief of sorts and coincides with the very human desire to explain. It's the belief that there is no god or deities, therefore it relies on a very basic desire to explain the unknown. What are your thoughts on this topic?
Sounds like a bullshit subject from someone attempting to validate a daft theory. I don't think there is an inherent biological drive towards religion, and more than there isn't for atheism. If it were the case we'd surely be seeing advanced primates indulging in ritualistic behaviours beyond courtship matters, given that they do communicate to each other through verbal means. Certainly I don't think we'd of gotten to were we are today as a species without the early religions as a precursor to the development of secular laws and social guidance, but I think it is firmly a social construct derived from language/ communications and the fact that we managed to rise above subsistence living and developed free time, rather than anything inherent to our natures. So I happily call bullshit on your professors ideas. I recommend you don't and just 'whatever' your way through the module though. :dozey:

Sociobiology seems to be one of those theories that only holds up if it tortuously tries to explain 'life, the universe and everything' as a resultant of it, which is never a good route to go down. It's up there with the Creationists their endless need to explain the reality of dinosaur bones. Nature or Nurture? Here's a radical thought, what about a bit of both? The problem with universal theories is they are never universal, because life in all it's roller coaster glory is just too damn complicated to fit neatly into one tidy little sum. :dozey:
 

Acepilotf14

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I believe it can be explained sociobiologically- Atheists believe that nothing happens after death. It's as simple as that. Creationists believe you go to some sort of 'Afterlife' whether it be heaven, a room with 72 virgins or become part of God himself. There are even atheists who believe in or have had an experience with a ghost- whether true or not. Whether it be just a mental or biological condition is impossible to prove or disprove.
 

[Matt]

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So a child raised in a society that simply left religion out of it's learnings and discussion and therefore has no concrete belief system can be defined as an Atheist? Is one required to have some kind of knowledge of existing beliefs to declare themselves an Atheist? From what I see Atheism is a belief - a belief in disbelieving. To declare something about the unknown is a belief, even if it's declaring that there is no higher power. Atheism is an attempt to explain something.
I tire of explaining to people that Atheism is not a belief system or religion but a LACK of belief. Atheists who are 100% certain that there is no god are a VERY rare breed indeed. Most atheists like myself are open to the suggestion that there could be a creator behind the universe but lean towards not believing due to a complete lack of any decent evidence in the favour of such a divine universal creator. Wouldn't the discovery of any strong evidence for a god that started it all be the greatest scientific discovery of all time? If that happened i would assess the evidence and change my mind the instant the evidence became overwhelming. To make the atheist position on belief clear then its probably best to put it this way...

Do you believe in the Easter bunny or even Santa Claus? If your answer is no then i would ask a further question of you. Would you describe your lack of belief in the Easter bunny or Santa Claus as a religion or belief system? Most sane people would answer no at this point.

Also to respond to other posts in this thread about atheism and agnosticism. Both terms are not mutually exclusive as the term agnosticism describes a position whilst the terms theist and atheist describe a belief or lack thereof. Its possible to describe yourself using both terms in the same sentence and as such if you were to describe yourself as an agnostic atheist you would be someone of the position that it would be impossible to prove either way the existence of a god but you would lean heavily towards a lack of belief.
 

theotherguy

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Your professor has precisely the opposite view of what is in reality true. Religion is a social construct. Atheism is a default position.
 

Acepilotf14

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Not at all a default position. Atheism is the point you come to when you finally realize 'I don't think thar is a god.'
The default point is complete ignorance and innocence. As is a baby, just after being born. The Default point is when you don't have a sense at all if there is or is not a god.
 

Krynn72

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Not at all a default position. Atheism is the point you come to when you finally realize 'I don't think thar is a god.'
The default point is complete ignorance and innocence. As is a baby, just after being born. The Default point is when you don't have a sense at all if there is or is not a god.
The default position is:

"what?"
 

Acepilotf14

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Your avatar made me laugh.
Anyway, yes, the default postion is 'what'.
 

Godron

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Atheists don't believe that there is a God, and they do believe that there is no God. What's so wierd about that? The only way to believe in neither would be to have never thought about it. As soon as you have an opinion about something (anything, I think), that is a belief. I think most adults do have a belief that there is no Father Christmas, but they don't really notice it because it's not something they think about on a regular basis. Therefore, they don't define themselves as non-believers in Father Christmas. A child however, might well define himself as a non-believer in Father Christmas, because it is something he would have to put some serious thought into. TBH though, I really don't think it matters that much. It's just playing around with words really, a possible insight into how we think, but little more.
 

theotherguy

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Not at all a default position. Atheism is the point you come to when you finally realize 'I don't think thar is a god.'
The default point is complete ignorance and innocence. As is a baby, just after being born. The Default point is when you don't have a sense at all if there is or is not a god.
And that is the very definition of atheism. Atheism is a lack of belief in god.Rocks are atheists. Trees are atheists. The only things that are not atheists are people who believe in a god or gods.
 

MJ12

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Yeah, I'd assume athiesm is just another natural explanation, I wouldn't consider it a defiance to biological presets.
 

_Z_Ryuken

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Ask the question "which came first".

It was atheism. It didn't have a name, because there was nothing to compare it to.
Atheism is DEFAULT.
 

MJ12

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Ask the question "which came first".

It was atheism. It didn't have a name, because there was nothing to compare it to.
Atheism is DEFAULT.
no, neither are "default", it varies so much from person to person and culture to culture. At some point religion didn't have a name either. At some point everything didn't have a name, it's not about "Which came first", because that notion is so easily manipulated by dozens of ways you can look at it.

Quite frankly, the question all together is unimportant.
 

Acepilotf14

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Which came first? The chicken or the egg?
"The chicken, dumb****. The bible says so."
 

_Z_Ryuken

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To a person of religion, atheism is more easily debased if you can fault it with human error or make it appear as a conscious construct.

The fact is, unless the first people were Adam and Eve, they were atheist. Dinosaurs were atheist. Large lizards, fish, and single cell organisms were and are atheist.

This is ofcourse, based on the assumption that religion is a conscious human construct, making it thus prone to human error.
If religion in it's many forms is correct, atheism can be explained by Sociobiology. If it is not, it can not.

--
To me, the poll options might as well read:
Religious
Atheist
Agnostic
 

Sulkdodds

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It seems to me that both are simply manifestations of a tendency to reason deductively about one's environment, a process which is incredibly useful, evolutionarily speaking.
 

delusional

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_Z_Ryuken,

dinosaurs, lizards, babies, single-celled organisms are not atheists. To them they have no idea what "God" is so calling them atheist has no meaning, without God, atheism has no meaning. If everyone in the entire world had no conception of God, atheism itself would be meaningless. I might as well call you an "adidgerist" but that would mean nothing until someone comes up with "didgerism". Atheism is not the default position. The state of ignorance is the default position. since you have no idea what "didgerism" is.
 

Pesmerga

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_Z_Ryuken,

dinosaurs, lizards, babies, single-celled organisms are not atheists. To them they have no idea what "God" is so calling them atheist has no meaning, without God, atheism has no meaning. If everyone in the entire world had no conception of God, atheism itself would be meaningless. I might as well call you an "adidgerist" but that would mean nothing until someone comes up with "didgerism". Atheism is not the default position. The state of ignorance is the default position. since you have no idea what "didgerism" is.
No, wrong, sorry.
 

MJ12

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_Z_Ryuken,

dinosaurs, lizards, babies, single-celled organisms are not atheists. To them they have no idea what "God" is so calling them atheist has no meaning, without God, atheism has no meaning. If everyone in the entire world had no conception of God, atheism itself would be meaningless. I might as well call you an "adidgerist" but that would mean nothing until someone comes up with "didgerism". Atheism is not the default position. The state of ignorance is the default position. since you have no idea what "didgerism" is.
exactly
 

Sulkdodds

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Hey, screw, screw semantics, why don't we just pretend BHC said antitheism since that is really what he meant?

THAT WOULD MAKE A MORE INTERESTING DEBATE I THINK
 

Pesmerga

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Princeton University (WordNet) defines Atheism as: a lack of belief in the existence of God or gods

The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition defines atheism as: Disbelief in or denial of the existence of God or gods.

disbelief: the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true.
the inability or refusal
inability

Dinosaurs are unable to believe in the existence of a God or Gods, thus they are considered atheists.
 

MJ12

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I always thought antitheism was so goofy.
 
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