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Nihilism and Atheism

Nihilism and Atheism
April 15, 2012, 02:22:37 PM
In response to the thread on Nihilism and Traditionalism, I have created a thread on Nihilism and Atheism. This is not to be in opposition to the views expressed on that thread, of course, but to include other nihilists who hold different metaphysical beliefs but similar aesthetic and pragmatic beliefs.

Many people hear the world 'atheism' and they take it to one of two bad places: (1) Scientism, or the belief that everyone must follow and abide by the challenging and counter-intuitive picture of reality that is emerging in the 21st century, or (2) Materialism, the belief that because there are no objective trasncendental values, everyone must worship matter and society must be reduced to the lowest common denominator.

Atheism does not lead to either (1) or (2), a priori. Furthermore, an atheist may content that some of the pragmatic benefits of nihilism are more forthcoming than for the traditionalist nihilist. Atheism allows complete detachment from prior ordained knowledge in order to example any situation from the greatest amount of perspectives and to choose the most appropriate soultion.

Atheism is the idea that reality is the universe operating according to a Logos. Our understanding of this Logos might need to be improved and modified from time to time (i.e. the move from newtonian physics to relativity), but this represents a PROGRESSION in our grasp of 'the mind of god'. The atheist is sustained 'spiritually' (or psychologically) by his aesthetic appreciation of reality that is being revealed by science. His evolved psychological tendencies to value beauty, goodness and truth are not left wanting by, for example, cosmology, evolutionary biology and botany. He is simply more able to function with metaphysical uncertainty than the theist. Alternatively he might favour pagan interpretaitons of reality when pressed for a more orthodox spiritual position.

The understanding of the Logos need not to be restricted to the real of inert matter. It can also be applied the realm of animate matter. Certain ideas and ways of structuring society throughout history have led to 'higher' socieites, higher in the sense of aesthetic appeal. You do not need to believe in a transcendetal order to conclude that electro-pop guzzling, city ghetto dwelling environments are sub par. You simply observe psychological facts of human beings to determine that such environments do not lead to human flourishing. A similar pramatic stance holds in relation to religious belief. Just because the atheist does not accept a literal, metaphysical and anthropomorphic interpretation of reality like exoteric chrisitinaity does not mean he will ruin the organic basis of a soceity by demanding that everyone drop the beliefs which provide the internal glue for a group in individuals to live together and thus aver the need for totalitarian nanny states. He believes that the philosophy of liberalism holds erroneous conceptiosn of the person when it posits pure 'subjects' which are autonomous agents prior to society. He holds a communitarian political philosophy which traces the sources of the self to attachments to family, village, tribe, nation, and not universal humanity. Any criticisms of justice must necessarily draw upon the materials already present in a culture and the liberal advocate is in error when she suggests that there is some universal, rational standard from which to construct rights and obligations from. The Logos contains the word of the universe, it is silent about any 'rights of man'. A greater knowledge of the Logos as it pervades human psychology will increasing reveal, in antithesis to liberal modernity, that human beings are deprived of energy when they are deprived of roots, culture and communal responsibility. Most great art is produced by metaphysical belief in something, and a society cannot function long term above the level of animals if death is not given a meaninig. In opposition to Francis Fukayuma's proclamation that 'History has ended' in face of liberal democracy, the atheist observes that 9/11 happened and that fundamentalism vs liberalism will be the great antithesis that defines the 21st century, while capitalism/communism was the one which drove the 20th. The atheist acknowledges that fundamentalismm while misguided, respons to elements of the human condition left out by liberal democracy.

Atheism has been correlated with intelligence and this link must be embraced. A love of objective truth and a love of beauty need not be seperate.

Texts:

* The Will to Power, by Friedrich Nietzsche
* The Leap, by Bill Hopkins
* All great books of the ages

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 15, 2012, 03:02:29 PM
Let's not misuse terminology, atheism is the belief that a theistic God does not exist.  All of the ideas you mention in your post are better described by other terms and would hardly be accepted by the vast majority of self-identifying atheists.

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 16, 2012, 03:56:10 AM
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Panentheism (from Greek πᾶν (pân) "all"; ἐν (en) "in"; and θεός (theós) "God"; "all-in-God") is a belief system which posits that the divine exists (be it a monotheistic God, polytheistic gods, or an eternal cosmic animating force), interpenetrates every part of nature and timelessly extends beyond it. Panentheism is differentiated from pantheism, which holds that the divine is not a distinct being or beings but is synonymous with the universe.[1]

Simply put, in pantheism, the divine is the whole; however, in panentheism, the whole is in the divine. This means that the universe in the first formulation is practically the whole itself. In the second formulation, the universe and the divine are not ontologically equivalent. In panentheism, God is viewed as the eternal animating force behind the universe. Some versions suggest that the universe is nothing more than the manifest part of God. In some forms of panentheism, the cosmos exists within God, who in turn "pervades" or is "in" the cosmos. While pantheism asserts that God and the universe are coextensive, panentheism claims that God is greater than the universe. In addition, some forms indicate that the universe is contained within God.[2] Much Hindu thought is highly characterized by panentheism and pantheism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panentheism

Quote
I think most people dislike the notion of God as an anthropomorphic personal deity of the "God hates fags" type. (This message is not about homosexuals or whether we or God should hate them. It's about the different notions of God.)

An omnipotent God does not need you to do specific acts. He does not need you to do anything. He rewards those who are righteous, and smites those who are not. Thus "God hates X" would be "God rewards those who can bribe their legislators to keep X out of their neighborhoods."

Personally, I think of God as something like logic -- a state that encloses material -- and choose not to envision him as being something like myself. (First of all, one hopes he's more suave and less addicted to caffeine.) Logic occurs before matter; without logic, nothing works. Logic does not arise from matter, because the logic of matter is limited to its dimensionality. When it is said that humankind is made in God's image, that is saying that we are crafted using the logic of the universe, which is to differentiate that logic from our own half-wit notions of what is logical.

In this view God is not something one prays to for material results. It is something one prays to in order to clarify one's own mind and make it more like the essence of the universe. And when one dies, one leaves the material world and goes to join God in a pure logical state, in which there will be no Facebook.

https://www.facebook.com/amerika.org/posts/10150683696912297

Quote
The formula ‘God is a person’ is (given the history of theistic thinking and writing) a relatively recent one. I believe that its first occurrence in English comes in the report of a trial of someone called John Biddle (b. 1615), who in 1644 was brought before the magistrates of Gloucester, England, on a charge of heresy. His ‘heresy’ was claiming that God is a person. Biddle was explicitly defending Unitarian beliefs about God, already in evidence among Socinians outside England.

In other words, Biddle’s ‘God is a person’ was intended as a rejection of the orthodox Christian claim that God is three persons in one substance (the doctrine of the Trinity). One can hardly take it to be a traditional Christian answer to the question ‘What is God?’ According to the doctrine of the Trinity, God is certainly not three persons in one person. And when orthodox exponents of the doctrine speak of Father, Son, and Spirit as ‘persons,’ they certainly do not take ‘person’ to mean what it seems to mean for [Richard] Swinburne and those who agree with him. They do not, for example, think of the persons of the Trinity as distinct centres of consciousness, or as three members of a kind. (pp. 59-60)

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/10/god-man-and-classical-theism.html

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 16, 2012, 06:51:49 AM
Let's not misuse terminology, atheism is the belief that a theistic God does not exist.  All of the ideas you mention in your post are better described by other terms and would hardly be accepted by the vast majority of self-identifying atheists.

This is coming from someone who holds an understanding of perennialism/traditionalism that is compatible with a disbelief in all inherent values?
These MIGHT be compatible, but Evola and Guenon and the like would be rolling in their graves. Just because the view expressed there would not be accepted by most atheists doesn't mean they really are incompatible with atheism.

Anyway, do you disagree with me that atheism, a priori, does not lead to (1) and (2) in my post? Could be a good discussion.

I'm arguing that atheism doesn't necessarily bring with it liberal implications, from a conceptual/logical point of view. Empirically, atheism and liberalism have tended to accompany one another, (but not always (nazism, stalinism)), but this in no way means that atheism and liberalism are connected conceptually. People could be mistaken. Just like how empirically, traditionalism and nihilism have NOT tended to accompany one another, while this isn't due to some lack of real conceptual connection (so i read around here).

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 16, 2012, 11:32:39 AM
I am not a nihilist in the sense you have described, although I acknowledge the validity of nihilism as a process for stripping away illusory concepts until one is left with pure reality, whether or not values arise from this reality is another question entirely.  I agree that atheism does not necessarily imply materialism or scientism, but in the context of its coming to prevalence in the intellectual sphere, it is strongly associated with these.  Disbelief in a theistic God may imply an aptitude for metaphysics of a higher order (see James Cutsinger's humorous and brilliant "The Noble Lie"), but more often it is simply a characteristic of an individualistic and sterile modernism.

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 16, 2012, 01:05:56 PM
Atheism is boring. I believe in the Elder gods, the ancient ones, all pagan deities, and any other gods that are not boring. Ba'al reginon.

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 17, 2012, 12:35:40 AM
People should check out Joseph Campbell. If you have the service, many of his lectures are available on Netflix.

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 17, 2012, 02:25:18 AM
People should check out Joseph Campbell. If you have the service, many of his lectures are available on Netflix.

Why is he good?

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 17, 2012, 03:56:22 AM
Actually he sounds very interesting, no doubt because he comes from some sort of naturalistic position. Myth has a function. (And, I would argue, certain myths (traditionalism/perennialism) have more admirable functions than others (liberalism)).

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Campbell often described mythology as having a fourfold function for human society. These appear at the end of his work The Masks of God: Creative Mythology, as well as various lectures.[25]

The Metaphysical Function: Awakening a sense of awe before the mystery of being
According to Campbell, the absolute mysteries of life cannot be captured directly in words or images. Myths are "being statements"[25] and the experience of this mystery can be had only through a participation in mythic rituals or the contemplation of mythic symbols that point beyond themselves. "Mythological symbols touch and exhilarate centers of life beyond the reach of reason and coercion.... The first function of mythology is to reconcile waking consciousness to the mysterium tremendum et fascinans of this universe as it is."[26]
The Cosmological Function: Explaining the shape of the universe
Myth also functions as a proto-science, bringing the observable (physical) world into accord with the metaphysical and psychological meanings rendered by the other functions of mythology. Campbell noticed that the modern dilemma between science and religion on matters of truth is actually between science of the ancient world and that of today.
The Sociological Function: Validate and support the existing social order
Ancient societies had to conform to an existing social order if they were to survive at all. This is because they evolved under "pressure" from necessities much more intense than the ones encountered in our modern world. Mythology confirmed that order and enforced it by reflecting it into the stories themselves, often describing how the order arrived from divine intervention.
The Psychological Function: Guide the individual through the stages of life
As a person goes through life, many psychological challenges will be encountered. Myth may serve as a guide for successful passage through the stages of one's life. For example, most ancient cultures used rites of passage as a youth passed to the adult stage. Later on, a living mythology taught the same person to let go of material possessions and earthly plans as they prepared to die.

Campbell believed that if myths are to continue to fulfill their vital functions in our modern world, they must continually transform and evolve because the older mythologies, untransformed, simply do not address the realities of contemporary life, particularly with regard to the changing cosmological and sociological realities of each new era.



Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 17, 2012, 11:45:27 AM
Atheism is the idea that reality is the universe operating according to a Logos. Our understanding of this Logos might need to be improved and modified from time to time (i.e. the move from newtonian physics to relativity), but this represents a PROGRESSION in our grasp of 'the mind of god'. The atheist is sustained 'spiritually' (or psychologically) by his aesthetic appreciation of reality that is being revealed by science. His evolved psychological tendencies to value beauty, goodness and truth are not left wanting by, for example, cosmology, evolutionary biology and botany. He is simply more able to function with metaphysical uncertainty than the theist. Alternatively he might favour pagan interpretaitons of reality when pressed for a more orthodox spiritual position.

But this is limited to the material world, is it not?

Nihilism is a rejection of inherent value. "Inherent value," to humans, means human values.

Those human values include materialism and the notion that what we see is all that is.

A nihilist will reject materialism and dualism as both insufficient. These are artificially-imposed beliefs and limits.

As far as practical reasoning goes, I don't see many happy atheists. In fact, most of them seem to be very depressed without their wine.

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 17, 2012, 01:32:55 PM
Atheism is the idea that reality is the universe operating according to a Logos. Our understanding of this Logos might need to be improved and modified from time to time (i.e. the move from newtonian physics to relativity), but this represents a PROGRESSION in our grasp of 'the mind of god'. The atheist is sustained 'spiritually' (or psychologically) by his aesthetic appreciation of reality that is being revealed by science. His evolved psychological tendencies to value beauty, goodness and truth are not left wanting by, for example, cosmology, evolutionary biology and botany. He is simply more able to function with metaphysical uncertainty than the theist. Alternatively he might favour pagan interpretaitons of reality when pressed for a more orthodox spiritual position.

But this is limited to the material world, is it not?

Nihilism is a rejection of inherent value. "Inherent value," to humans, means human values.

Those human values include materialism and the notion that what we see is all that is.

What we see is not all that is. I can't see electrons, I can't see the physical constants that dictate the order of the cosmos. I can't 'see' the patterns we as human beings impose upon the world, whether  really existing, or whether remnants of the hunter-gatherer mind. All i can see is what I am given. But I can understand so much more.

All this from 'profane' modern methodology.

As far as practical reasoning goes, I don't see many happy atheists. In fact, most of them seem to be very depressed without their wine.

We cannot choose what we believe. The goal is to use these beliefs to create.

You cannot go back and make the enlightenment dissapear. There are certain abysses we have gazed into. I do believe there is room to move, however, and to create poetry inspired by the most unexpected muses.

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 17, 2012, 06:08:11 PM
It's like fundamentalism for lab assistants.

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 17, 2012, 08:19:43 PM
As far as practical reasoning goes, I don't see many happy atheists. In fact, most of them seem to be very depressed without their wine.
As much as it pains me to admit this, I would have to agree. There is a tremendous disproportion of Asperger types and utilitarian liberals in the atheist camp. There also appears to be 1) a pervasive victim mentality, 2) a desire to turn atheism into either a club or political movement, and 3) a tendency to promote literal interpretations of religious concepts, even when there is no real valid reasoning (this is usually to make the inevitable debate impossible to lose). The last of these is, I suspect, part of a need to feel intellectually superior.

I've never seen atheism as anything more than a rather obvious and self evident truth. There is no personal, anthropomorphic or otherwise, super entity watching over you, caring about you or the decisions you make. The universe is indifferent. Anything beyond our scope of understanding is just that. I think many people just take this concept for granted and go from there.

The only significance I see for atheism as a viewpoint is in opposition to the retardation of "fundamentalist" religious idiots.

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 18, 2012, 12:46:56 AM
I've never seen atheism as anything more than a rather obvious and self evident truth. There is no personal, anthropomorphic or otherwise, super entity watching over you, caring about you or the decisions you make. The universe is indifferent. Anything beyond our scope of understanding is just that. I think many people just take this concept for granted and go from there.

The only significance I see for atheism as a viewpoint is in opposition to the retardation of "fundamentalist" religious idiots.

The uniqueness of atheism, and one of the elements that should be rolled over from popular usage of the term, is an awe for the natural world due to what science is revealing. All forms are intermediate, and the process rather than the substance is primary... I think there is much in this view to inspire a sense of transcendence.

As far as practical reasoning goes, I don't see many happy atheists. In fact, most of them seem to be very depressed without their wine.
As much as it pains me to admit this, I would have to agree. There is a tremendous disproportion of Asperger types and utilitarian liberals in the atheist camp. There also appears to be 1) a pervasive victim mentality, 2) a desire to turn atheism into either a club or political movement, and 3) a tendency to promote literal interpretations of religious concepts, even when there is no real valid reasoning (this is usually to make the inevitable debate impossible to lose). The last of these is, I suspect, part of a need to feel intellectually superior.

This argument that the case for Atheism is sealed by it's worse proponents is a straw man. It reminds of the Catholic preist bashing you hear from stupid, dogmatic atheists.

Re: Nihilism and Atheism
April 28, 2012, 12:13:34 PM
At the heart of this great argument lies the assumption on the part of the anti-religion camp that this is a battle between reason and obscurantism, between rationality on the one hand and knuckle-dragging ignorance and prejudice on the other. And of course, that anti-religion camp is on the side of reason, and thus of intelligence, science, progress and freedom; whereas religious believers would undo the Enlightenment and take us all back to the dark ages of credulity, superstition and the shackling of the mind.

This assumption is based on a further given: that in the West this is the age of reason. And we think this, in large measure, because we have put religion, or faith, in a box labelled in very large letters, "Un-reason". Faith and reason, religion and science are supposedly inimical to each other. There is no overlap. They knock each other out.

So it follows that people who are intelligent can have no religious faith; those who are religious are either imbeciles or insane. Not only that, religious people are narrow, dogmatic, intolerant and unpleasant. Those with no religious faith are broad-minded, open, liberal and thoroughly splendid people whom you'd be delighted to meet at a dinner party. Little casts a chill over a fashionable table more than the disclosure that a guest believes in God.

I have a rather different take on this great division of our age. My view is that while we may be in a post-biblical — and post-moral — age, we have not disposed of belief. Far from it. We have just changed what we believe in. Our society may have junked the Judaeo-Christian foundations of the West for secularism. But this has given rise to a set of other religions. Secular religions. Anti-religion religions. 

http://www.melaniephillips.com/the-new-intolerance