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I do not reject faith I just don't define faith as narrowly as most people do.

I for example have faith in science and I am not ashamed of it. I believe in black holes even though I myself cannot prove their existence.

I believe in Super Novas, Neutron Stars, Pulsars and so on. I believe Mars has two moons even though I have never really counted them my self.

Almost everything I know I take on faith.

A religious institution in my opinion is an organization that teaches morality -the way of life- through practical means and is meant to spread like any good business.

A good example of a modern religion would be: Amway.

It has weekly sermons, traditions, programs, seminars, groups, books, education etc...

Edited by Dániel Boros

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Amway is actually a good concrete example to focus on now that you have mentioned it, and now we can drope the weird lable of religion.

I still think that the Roman Catholic Church is very important because of its pervasivness through out history and western europe. It isn't just a singular religion that should be compared to all the other one's equally. It was basically the only religion in western europe for a very long time. As an example of a religion it holds more weight for study than any other because iof the ammount of power it had as an institution/

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sure but not here :) I mean the idea of atheism 2.0 is probably not related to the Catholic church.

Amway is not a religion because it's about business and not about morality.

Yeah I know I contradict myself :) ...

Edited by Dániel Boros

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I do not reject faith I just don't define faith as narrowly as most people do.

I for example have faith in science and I am not ashamed of it. I believe in black holes even though I myself cannot prove their existence.

I believe in Super Novas, Neutron Stars, Pulsars and so on. I believe Mars has two moons even though I have never really counted them my self.

Almost everything I know I take on faith.

Sorry to hear that. You should stop doing that. Whenever you fall short of omniscience, try figuring out an alternate but still rational method for deciding what is and what isn't true, both in science and other areas.

For instance, try figuring out when it's rational to trust what another person tells you, and when it isn't. If you did that, I bet you'd also change your mind about the stuff you post in the Politics forum.

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"an organization that teaches morality -the way of life- through practical means and is meant to spread like any good business."

Could you be more specific about what "practical means" are? This definition is kind of vague. By these terms so far it sounds like ARI would count as a religion and that is just ridiculous. I find defining it as an organization problematic since plenty of existing religions don't have any official collection of people collaborating. A religion is a type of a system of ideas. One person with a set of beliefs is all it takes for a religion to exist. A single person religion isn't likely to get much of any notoriety, but that doesn't mean it doesn't count, that it isn't a religion. That person doesn't need to give a damn about spreading their ideas. Does a religion even need to include moral lessons? Did the ancient Greek and Roman pantheon stories and such really contain any more "moral" lessons than, "Don't piss off the deities,"?

Why do you contend that that is an appropriate way to define religion? I know just because something is typical of how things are defined in dictionaries doesn't necessarily mean that those dictionary definitions are correct, but one can't just pull a definition out of the clear blue either. You've got to have some reason for any proposed definition. Similarly, why do you define faith "less narrowly"? And what exactly is that wider definition?

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sure but not here :) I mean the idea of atheism 2.0 is probably not related to the Catholic church.

Amway is not a religion because it's about business and not about morality.

Yeah I know I contradict myself :) ...

"To arrive at a contradiction is to confess an error in one's thinking; to maintain a contradiction is to abdicate one's mind and to evict oneself from the realm of reality."

What are you going to do with the contradictions that you arrive at?

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I think we're getting a bit away from the original thrust of the TED talk, but that's okay. The discussion continues regardless. However, if we want to address the idea of "Atheism 2.0" I think we need to take a step back for a second and reexamine some things.

First of all, the speaker at the conference is not an Objectivist, so some of his ideas don't mesh with Objectivism. For example, he advocated didactic learning (or learning by rote; memorization out of context), which is clearly at odds with the O'ist position that one must understand why a thing is true -- why reason is the best way for man to live, why anarcho-capitalism is not a viable political idea, why altruism is not a moral system by which to live one's life. Also, religion is not what he is advocating. He is advocating some of the methods of religion, such as intellectuals giving sermons rather than lectures. In this case, he defines sermons as imparting information on how to live one's life (morality), whereas lectures put forth some piece of information or topic of study. Again, he is advocating didactic learning, but if instead of imparting morality through rote you explain why a thing is moral, sermons (as defined) could be an effective method for spreading and concretizing ideas.

Also, the word faith is being bandied about, by some, as if it did not have a concrete definition. Faith is defined as, "confidence or trust in a person or thing," specifically, "belief that is not based on proof." As such, it is at odds with any philosophy of reason, which requires proof for concepts in the framework that reality exists and we are capable of perceiving it. In our every day lives we hear a lot of things that we take with at least some measure of faith, for convenience's sake (we hear that scientists have discovered ice on Mars, we say, "Oh, that's interesting," and move on without verifying this irrefutably, unless we're really interested or in the same field of study), but we can allow ourselves to do this because, in theory, the scientists are working with reason and within the scientific method, which has been objectively shown to be our most reliable method for obtaining information about reality. This isn't always a good practice, because, more often that one would think, scientists don't properly follow the scientific method and report faulty results, but for things that don't directly impact our lives it's more efficient to take the scientists' word for it than to spend hours verifying the efficacy of their testing procedure by taking a fine-toothed comb to their journal publications. This is not to say that reason is somehow flawed or that faith is the better of the two, just that if we attempted to verify for ourselves, independent of outside help, every piece of the accumulated knowledge of the ages as well as all new science, we would spend our lives cloistered in a laboratory, repeating experiments that have already been done ad nauseam.(I think I made that clear, but I'd be happy to clarify if someone's not following.)

And I believe that's all I have to say for now. If I forgot something I'll add it in later.

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Alain de Botton is missing the point. It is not that there is a lack of moral guidance. Rather the moral guidance being put forth by contemporary philosophy is what man is practicing today. The morality they are being taught to practice is bringing about the results of which we are seeing manifest around us. Even after listening to his presentation again, all I could identify is that there need be method and structure to disseminating what? what code of morality was he advocating? Right/wrong, based on what? Even religious institutions cloak altruism in the garb of right/wrong speech. The morality man is being taught to practice today permeates our culture through news, theatric entertainment, the music, the educational system.

A morality of reason based on the mind's apprehension of reality is available to be discovered.

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Alain de Botton is missing the point. It is not that there is a lack of moral guidance. Rather the moral guidance being put forth by contemporary philosophy is what man is practicing today. The morality they are being taught to practice is bringing about the results of which we are seeing manifest around us. Even after listening to his presentation again, all I could identify is that there need be method and structure to disseminating what? what code of morality was he advocating? Right/wrong, based on what? Even religious institutions cloak altruism in the garb of right/wrong speech. The morality man is being taught to practice today permeates our culture through news, theatric entertainment, the music, the educational system.

A morality of reason based on the mind's apprehension of reality is available to be discovered.

Indeed it is available to be discovered. There is no disputing that point (we're all here, after all).

And I think the point of his speech was not to advocate any morality in particular. He was focusing in on atheism, which is neither a philosophical system nor a primary concern of those who already have a sound philosophical system to follow. It is secondary, and I think that is where a lot of people fall down. They replace belief in a deity with non-belief, and leave it at that. Most of them never follow up and really answer the question, "If it's not divinely inspired, where does morality come from?" Objectivism gives a sound answer to that question.

Now, I'm not saying that he had the right ideas in mind when he suggested his methods for disseminating ideas, but what I am suggesting is that perhaps there are better methods for letting people know that there's a viable alternative to the bankrupt system of altruism which most of the world practices today. I know that there are already groups who are trying to educate people about Objectivism, and a lot of students of Objectivism are particularly pleased when other people get interested and start taking a responsibility for their own minds, but perhaps if there were some sort of formal institution in place with the purpose of getting people interested in Objectivism we could really gain some influence in the world; perhaps we would have the numbers to overcome that first barrier of setting up a sound philosophical base among the people and begin the daunting challenge of trying to cut down the cumbersome and deadly behemoth that is government today. After all, we know that it can't work in the other order: philosophical change must, by necessity, come before political change if it is to be effective at all.

And the fact that there is already moral guidance is irrelevant to the discussion, really. There has always been moral guidance, from the most primitive of religions and social systems on up. The fact is that what we need is an objectively sound system of moral guidance. This exists in the form of rational philosophy (O'ism). Like I said, though, the problem is not that the system isn't there, because it is, the problem is helping people find it. We can have the coolest, most crystal-clear spring of intellectual wealth that exists, but it does no good to the horses unless there's someone there to lead them to it (that's not to say, of course, that they will drink when shown). In theory that's the job of the intellectuals and philosophers, but if we're being totally honest, with a few exceptions, they've been doing a pretty poor job.

Intellectual activism benefits us all in the end. A rational world is a better world for all those involved, and so it behooves us to look for a way to bring that world into being. The question then is how to do it. At least some of de Botton's ideas are worth considering.

Edited by realityChemist

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Also, the word faith is being bandied about, by some, as if it did not have a concrete definition. Faith is defined as, "confidence or trust in a person or thing," specifically, "belief that is not based on proof." As such, it is at odds with any philosophy of reason, which requires proof for concepts in the framework that reality exists and we are capable of perceiving it.

The axioms of objectivism rest on the argument that the opposite of the axioms are impossible.

One has to use reason to deduce that these axioms are true therefore even an objectivist has some degree of faith in reason.

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"The axioms of [O]bjectivism rest on the argument that the opposite of the axioms are impossible."

It's more like these things are at least implicitly some of the earliest things we recognize in some form and they are at the base of everything else. We first get some evidence for these axioms and then there is never anything to contradict it. To even attempt to prove them false you would have to utilize them and count on them being true. (You can't make an argument if you don't exist, so you must exist if you are arguing, therefore existence has to be there in some form. If contradictions were possible and things could behave in ways that go against their nature then all communication would cease to be effective because whatever you say could mean something else entirely at any time, thus preventing you from presenting a coherent argument. If you were not conscious you would not even be able to come up with arguments which are a product of consciousness.) Sometimes later in life (some time after our earliest thoughts are being formed) something may seem at first to behave in a way that should not be possible to an object, but that is because one has misinterpreted what some perceptual data means, what it is caused by (such as the old stick looking bent in a glass of water when it really isn't that the stick is bent but just that the water messes with the light coming through it to your eyes if I recall correctly.) Often we think something contradictory has happened because we're just missing some additional information that is the key to the puzzle. So, there's never really any evidence that comes up against the axioms and thus there is no cause to doubt them. Unless your standard is that unless you are omniscient you are always taking things on faith then this should clear things up I think. If you do regard as faith any belief at all in the absence of omniscience, then that's another new topic to deal with.

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Dream_Weaver, I think you may be misunderstanding what Alain de Botton is getting at. As far as I gathered, he was talking about disseminating rational ideas, including moral guidance. He was presenting a skeletal framework that can be especially useful for spreading philosophical ideas. Regardless of the literally cultish nature of religion, many religions have at least implicitly identified the beginnings of principles for spreading beliefs and making those beliefs present in daily life. There needs to be a rational method, though, and that is sorely lacking in many religions, to be sure. But for better or for worse, religions like Christianity have used methods that work really well. So, rather than saying ‘all ideas from religion are evil/bad by association”, it is far better to ask “is there anything in religion that is usable?” Botton says yes, there are usable aspects. In general, I agree with his presentation.

One idea that stood out is a comparison of a lecture to a sermon. I do not like the suggestion that people like to agree with a sermon because it sounds good, which helps to create unity. I don’t think Botton said that, but that’s the impression I got. Unfortunately, I think that while his example of saying “amen” is effective for establishing group coherence, I see it as one of the non-rational methods common in various religions.

There is some truth, though, in suggesting that lectures focus on facts quite well, but shouldn’t overlook morality so much. I would bet that it’s because a lot of secular people don’t believe in objective morality – either you have an innate moral sense, or morality is subjective (intrinsicism vs subjectivism). How many lectures do you even know of that talk about moral facts? TED certainly has none of those. Adopting some sense of a sermon is useful, where people get together and can discuss or learn about moral truth. Adding a poetic presentation may help things along even. Nietzsche comes to mind, especially with Thus Spoke Zarathustra. Although he intended to mimic a religious text, the writing in there is inspirational, secular, and individualistic (epistemological beliefs aside).

My favorite idea was devoting certain days or moments to think about especially important ideas. Holidays capture this quite well. Christianity may compel you to think of the resurrection on easter and its meaning because you are at least told that a resurrection occurred on that day. This is every year, so it becomes habitual over time to consider religious concepts. If we throw out mystic notions, there is still value to be had. Thanksgiving, which is secular to begin with as far as I know, is an example where you’ll at least think about the importance of productivity the same time every year. Thinking about more than day-to-day trivialities is useful for disseminating good ideas. Making up holidays wouldn’t be so bad. Like Newtonmas. Or even encouraging some natural events to be seen as important would be great, which is how festivals in Japan seem to work, revolving around changing seasons for some of the festivals.

Bottom line, I like what realityChemist said about intellectual activism.

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Speaking of holidays, it just would not do to have Groundhog's Day cast a shadow over Ayn Rand's Birthday, now would it. :smartass:

That being said. what is being discussed here is more than just communication studies with an emphasis on relational communications, which is available in curricula today.

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"Thinking about more than day-to-day trivialities is useful for disseminating good ideas. Making up holidays wouldn’t be so bad."

This is exactly what the radicals of the French Revolution, the Soviets, and other Communist countries did and have done -- take the religious pattern of holidays and special events, and turn them into events that promoted their own dogmas. I have to say, there's a real queasiness I have in response to the suggestion that Objectivism follow that course. If the "good ideas" aren't appealing enough in themselves, then it's an elitist manipulation of the populace to "disseminate good ideas" by making holidays of them. Eioul, you and I actually agree more than we disagree on a lot of matters, but this is not one of them.

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Guilt by association. The American revolution ended up with it's own holiday too, celebrating the 4th of July, and this place isn't some especially foul den of evil like those other things you mentioned. Religions are obviously already having particular days set aside to celebrate some particular thing, so would you say they are not good enough ideas on their own and are using these special occasions to manipulate people? If not, then it's probably special pleading. If you would apply it to them too and you just reject any kind of regular pattern of dates set aside for celebrating something, then you'll have to elaborate on why such things by their nature are necessarily some kind of mind game or something.

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"Thinking about more than day-to-day trivialities is useful for disseminating good ideas. Making up holidays wouldn’t be so bad."

This is exactly what the radicals of the French Revolution, the Soviets, and other Communist countries did and have done -- take the religious pattern of holidays and special events, and turn them into events that promoted their own dogmas.

And how did the birth of Jesus come to be celebrated on December 25? And John the Baptist on June 24?

Edited by Ninth Doctor

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"Guilt by association. The American revolution ended up with it's own holiday too, celebrating the 4th of July, and this place isn't some especially foul den of evil like those other things you mentioned."

You're right....I was too hasty in my reply!! Upon further consideration, I retract my objection.

"And how did the birth of Jesus come to be celebrated on December 25? And John the Baptist on June 24?"

Primarily because of the symbolism: December 25 is close to the winter solstice. The days start to become longer, beginning a season of "light entering the world" -- Christ. The summer solstice falls near June 24, beginning a season of decreasing light, symbolizing John the Baptist, who said, "He must increase, but I must decrease". I have also seen some people link Christmas to December 25th by other means: counting nine months back from March 25th, the traditional date for the conception of Christ, and also by figuring out when Zacharias was serving in the Temple.

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If you had to chant a thousand times:"Think for yourself!" Maybe one day you would.

If you chant "Think for yourself!" even a hundred times it means that you don't even know what thinking for yourself means.

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"Guilt by association. The American revolution ended up with it's own holiday too, celebrating the 4th of July, and this place isn't some especially foul den of evil like those other things you mentioned."

You're right....I was too hasty in my reply!! Upon further consideration, I retract my objection.

:)

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That's why you need to chant it.

The post is saying that this chanting methodology is completely opposed to what it claims to aim to encourage. To encourage this type of methodology is to encourage not thinking for oneself even though one is saying to think for oneself. Somebody who actually thinks for themself wouldn't just accept an assertion of an obligation (either to "think for oneself" or that they have to do a bunch of chanting). If somebody actually understands what it means to think for themself and why it is important then they don't need to keep repeating it over and over to themself anyway to make it stick, the significance alone will make it hard to forget. Spreading around the information on independent thought for people to learn from is what will stand the best shot of accomplishing the goal of getting people to do their own thinking. This kind of chanting things over and over does not teach one anything, it does not help somebody understand why this is important and why it should be done. It just treats these things like commandments to be obeyed and drilled into one's mind until one has difficulty questioning them even. (I'm reminded of how they play over and over under kids' pillows, "A gram is better than a damn," and, "Ending is better than mending," in Brave New world.)

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