Top-down study of beliefs

What beliefs do you think an atheist has, ideal or otherwise? Lois
From a top-down view the beliefs inside the mind are not important. We should treat the mind as a black box and only look at the behavior of that ideal believer versus other types of ideal believers. In other words we don't care what the atheist claims to believe or not believe. Then all atheists who do not believe in impossible things and exhibit intelligence and human compassion are ideal atheists. It doesn't have to be more complicated than that. Lois I agree. IMO the only way to judge a person's humanism is by his actions, not his beliefs. If you want a top down example, you can start with the scandals and denial by the current Pope. His latest statement that there is a homosexual lobby is of no moral consequence whatever. If we seek purity of conscience he should address the problem of rampant pedophilia in the catholic church. He has all the records compiled by the previous Pope, who at least resigned, either from shame or cowardice. Hardly an example of religious moral purity.
I am active in my local Unitarian Universalist congregation. We are a group of free-thinkers. Most do not believe in any "supernatural" aspects of religion; we do however, draw inspiration from many faiths. For example, we might focus on the concept that Jesus was possibly a real man who walked the earth preaching love and helping people, while we reject the supernatural aspects or any negative old testament or even negative new testament teachings. I believe you can still be an atheist, as I am, and still draw meaning and lessons from these ancient texts, regardless of their origins. I can pick up the Bible and read it with the approach I read any book--I can extrapolate from it what I want, viewing it as tales or folklore.
I've been curious about what motivates people to participate in UU and similar churches. The local UU church in my town seems to be trying to encourage Wiccans to come but I think Wiccans tend to believe in supernatural phenomena and would not be comfortable in a church that does not? Personally, I would never attend church unless I thought it was a requirement of my religion, so it's hard for me to understand atheists/agnostics that seem to go voluntarily. But I am an introvert.
I agree. IMO the only way to judge a person's humanism is by his actions, not his beliefs. If you want a top down example, you can start with the scandals and denial by the current Pope. His latest statement that there is a homosexual lobby is of no moral consequence whatever. If we seek purity of conscience he should address the problem of rampant pedophilia in the catholic church. He has all the records compiled by the previous Pope, who at least resigned, either from shame or cowardice. Hardly an example of religious moral purity.
This imaginary top-down study is not designed to judge a person's humanism. I'm simply curious if there is a correlation between behaviour and belief or if belief is mostly meaningless talk such as politics (as I suspect). The "pure" Taoist/atheist/etc. would be a way to label areas of the chart, so we could say this is the Taoist area. It isn't necessary to label areas of the chart, but I thought it would be fun for example to tell various Christians that they are actually some other religion based on behaviour. (That would really annoy them. :) )
Here is an example: Atheists believe that death is the end.
No, atheists believe that God doesn't exist. I know many atheists think that life goes on after death. Well that's a new one. I think they are being a little bit inconsistent to reject a belief in God due to lack of evidence and continue to believe in some sort of life after death. Captain Picard appears to be an atheist who thinks life goes on after death. :-) You'll find people with similar beliefs all over Europe. May be new to you, but it's pretty common.
I think our beliefs often determine our behavior and our treatment of others. That's why people oppose things like gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, access to contraception, comprehensive sex-ed, evolution, feminism, that's why people blow themselves up and kill "witches" and imprison or persecute atheists and so on, because they believe certain things about the world.
Most of the issues you mentioned are wedge issues used by political parties to divide the opposition's supporters. No, they're not. All the things I mentioned are a reality because people believe certain things about the world. Their beliefs determine their behavior and their treatment of those around them, it's an inescapable fact.
I think our beliefs often determine our behavior and our treatment of others. That's why people oppose things like gay marriage, abortion, stem cell research, euthanasia, access to contraception, comprehensive sex-ed, evolution, feminism, that's why people blow themselves up and kill "witches" and imprison or persecute atheists and so on, because they believe certain things about the world.
Most of the issues you mentioned are wedge issues used by political parties to divide the opposition's supporters. No, they're not. All the things I mentioned are a reality because people believe certain things about the world. Their beliefs determine their behavior and their treatment of those around them, it's an inescapable fact. Of course belief plays a role in behaviour, but I suspect it is overrated. For example, the vast majority of priests and pastors don't practice what they preach. Or as another example, in the US we get emotional every 4 years about one party being good and the other parting being bad, but then it seems like nothing changes. Both of those examples, indicate that religious and political beliefs are mostly talk.
Of course belief plays a role in behaviour, but I suspect it is overrated. For example, the vast majority of priests and pastors don't practice what they preach. Or as another example, in the US we get emotional every 4 years about one party being good and the other parting being bad, but then it seems like nothing changes. Both of those examples, indicate that religious and political beliefs are mostly talk.
I'm sure that not all priests practice what they preach, but how can you know that the vast majority of them don't? Also, the animosity between Democrats and Republicans is always present, it's just intensified during election season. Religious and political beliefs aren't "mostly talk". The world is shaped by what people believe and the actions that those beliefs inspire.
Of course belief plays a role in behaviour, but I suspect it is overrated. For example, the vast majority of priests and pastors don't practice what they preach. Or as another example, in the US we get emotional every 4 years about one party being good and the other parting being bad, but then it seems like nothing changes. Both of those examples, indicate that religious and political beliefs are mostly talk.
I'm sure that not all priests practice what they preach, but how can you know that the vast majority of them don't? Also, the animosity between Democrats and Republicans is always present, it's just intensified during election season. Religious and political beliefs aren't "mostly talk". The world is shaped by what people believe and the actions that those beliefs inspire. This is precisely why we need a study like this - otherwise we can't know for sure if clergy practice what they preach. :) I suspect the vast majority do not practice what they preach, but this is based on my personal experience and chatting informally with family and friends about their personal experiences.

This is really funny:
Neil deGrasse Tyson: Atheist or Agnostic?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CzSMC5rWvos
Yeah, militant agnostics need to kick some atheist but! :lol:
psik

I agree. IMO the only way to judge a person's humanism is by his actions, not his beliefs. If you want a top down example, you can start with the scandals and denial by the current Pope. His latest statement that there is a homosexual lobby is of no moral consequence whatever. If we seek purity of conscience he should address the problem of rampant pedophilia in the catholic church. He has all the records compiled by the previous Pope, who at least resigned, either from shame or cowardice. Hardly an example of religious moral purity.
This imaginary top-down study is not designed to judge a person's humanism. I'm simply curious if there is a correlation between behaviour and belief or if belief is mostly meaningless talk such as politics (as I suspect). The "pure" Taoist/atheist/etc. would be a way to label areas of the chart, so we could say this is the Taoist area. It isn't necessary to label areas of the chart, but I thought it would be fun for example to tell various Christians that they are actually some other religion based on behavior (That would really annoy them. :) ) But no religion is based on behavior. Behavior is (should be) based on the religion. I thought that my example clearly illustrates that belief has nothing to do with behavior. I was not singling out a single person (pope), I mentioned him as the very representative of god who allows thousands of cases where clergy (teachers of morality) engagedin a specific immoral behavior and instead of addressing the real problem, deflecting the conversation by condemning a natural phenomena (homosexuality), which has nothing to do with morality. Strangely, when a teacher in a public school messes with a student they get fired, ridiculed, and prosecuted in a court of law. But the church seems exempt. Out of the thousands of cases of pedophilia, only a few have been prosecuted by law and that only after public complaints by the victims. The church just transfers the offender to a more remote place where it is likely offenses will not draw legal scrutiny. Religion, like all large and political power structures, tends to become corrupt regardless of moral imperatives.
Response to sex abuse scandal [edit] As Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the sexual abuse of minors by priests was his responsibility to investigate from 2001, when that charge was given to the CDF by Pope John Paul II.[5] Before given this charge, Cardinal Ratzinger was theoretically privy to all sexual abuse cases within the Church. As Prefect of the CDF, Canon Law directed Bishops to report sexual abuse cases involving priests in their diocese to Cardinal Ratzinger. However, due to the obscurity of Canon Law, even within the Church, it is unknown whether this directive was actually followed.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Ratzinger_as_Prefect_of_the_Congregation_for_the_Doctrine_of_the_Faith The intent of the Inquisition was not to apply justice. It was to instill fear, by any means. Hardly moral behavior based on religion.

I think I get what you’re saying and it’s basically, the old You can’t judge a book by it’s cover. Each of us is a book, and we present ourselves to the world with our covers, i.e. the labels we apply to ourselves. The study you’re thinking of would be accurate if we let each person tell US, the researchers, what THEY define as the ideal X. Then study them to see if they actually behave in a way consistent with their own definitions. So an extreme example might be, Joe says he’s an atheist, hates the bible and faith. Fine, that’s his definitions of an atheist. Now we follow him and every Sunday he goes to church and prays. Boom, bad atheist. Now if we do that over and over with say 1000 atheist, and for the most part they all have “hate faith” as part of their definition AND at the same time are observed to pray, then we might be able to draw some conclusions about atheism in general.
Same goes with Christians, and I think your anecdotal evidence suggests, as does mine, that most Christians define themselves as following Jesus, help thy neighbor, etc. but in their daily lives do the exact opposite. Gandhi felt as much: “I like your Jesus, but your Christians, not so much”. And when I see the chief arbiters of the Catholic religion for example, priests, doing what they’ve done, and then others in their religious executive ranks covering it up, that to me tells me the religion itself, which defines itself as a means to be moral, is an objective failure.
Anywho… that would be a good study, and would take it out of the realm of personal opinion and anecdotal evidence. I gotta believe some sociologist has done this though.

Here is an example: Atheists believe that death is the end.
No, atheists believe that God doesn't exist. I know many atheists think that life goes on after death. Well that's a new one. I think they are being a little bit inconsistent to reject a belief in God due to lack of evidence and continue to believe in some sort of life after death. Captain Picard appears to be an atheist who thinks life goes on after death. :-) You'll find people with similar beliefs all over Europe. May be new to you, but it's pretty common.Interesting, what exactly do these folks believe? I'm not being sarcastic, I'm genuinely interested. I'm assuming they mean something more than "I live on in the memories of my children", that kind of thing.

You know, it’s the “you can never distroy energy, only convert it into something else,” and other similar new-age kinda stuff.

author="CuthbertJ" I'm assuming they mean something more than "I live on in the memories of my children", that kind of thing.
A little aside, "living on in memory" is actually a remarkable thing and IMO is the single phenomenon that might be classified as metaphysical (spiritual) in nature. And this is also based on a person's deeds in life, not his religious beliefs.
I think I get what you're saying and it's basically, the old You can't judge a book by it's cover. Each of us is a book, and we present ourselves to the world with our covers, i.e. the labels we apply to ourselves. The study you're thinking of would be accurate if we let each person tell US, the researchers, what THEY define as the ideal X. Then study them to see if they actually behave in a way consistent with their own definitions. So an extreme example might be, Joe says he's an atheist, hates the bible and faith. Fine, that's his definitions of an atheist. Now we follow him and every Sunday he goes to church and prays. Boom, bad atheist. Now if we do that over and over with say 1000 atheist, and for the most part they all have "hate faith" as part of their definition AND at the same time are observed to pray, then we might be able to draw some conclusions about atheism in general. Same goes with Christians, and I think your anecdotal evidence suggests, as does mine, that most Christians define themselves as following Jesus, help thy neighbor, etc. but in their daily lives do the exact opposite. Gandhi felt as much: "I like your Jesus, but your Christians, not so much". And when I see the chief arbiters of the Catholic religion for example, priests, doing what they've done, and then others in their religious executive ranks covering it up, that to me tells me the religion itself, which defines itself as a means to be moral, is an objective failure. Anywho... that would be a good study, and would take it out of the realm of personal opinion and anecdotal evidence. I gotta believe some sociologist has done this though.
That's the basic goal. I was fuzzy on the details of how to do this, but I think your idea sounds practical. Most of the comparative religion articles that I've found are only concerned with theological features. It would be interesting to compare non-theological features. Maybe we can demonstrate that certain religions are beneficial or harmful to society, mental health, whatever. And of course I would love to be able to say something like "I see you marked that you are a Baptist, but according to our numbers you are actually a ..."

I think the best atheists are ex-Christians.
Once the test is done and the label is placed upon the atheist, she’ll never be able to run for the office.

I am active in my local Unitarian Universalist congregation. We are a group of free-thinkers. Most do not believe in any "supernatural" aspects of religion; we do however, draw inspiration from many faiths. For example, we might focus on the concept that Jesus was possibly a real man who walked the earth preaching love and helping people, while we reject the supernatural aspects or any negative old testament or even negative new testament teachings. I believe you can still be an atheist, as I am, and still draw meaning and lessons from these ancient texts, regardless of their origins. I can pick up the Bible and read it with the approach I read any book--I can extrapolate from it what I want, viewing it as tales or folklore.
I've been curious about what motivates people to participate in UU and similar churches. The local UU church in my town seems to be trying to encourage Wiccans to come but I think Wiccans tend to believe in supernatural phenomena and would not be comfortable in a church that does not? Personally, I would never attend church unless I thought it was a requirement of my religion, so it's hard for me to understand atheists/agnostics that seem to go voluntarily. But I am an introvert. UU congregations tend to be full of free-thinkers and atheists. There maybe some people who adhere to some form of religion, such as Christianity or Wicca, but in a very liberal manner. Also, depending on the congregation, there is really no "preaching" and definitely no dogma taught from the pulpit, if you want to consider it a pulpit. All the UU congregations I've been to tend to teach universal messages that are applicable to anyone, even to me as an atheist; for example, we might learn about a myriad of social justice topics, respect for the environment and earth, the importance of science, equality etc. So, a Wiccan could definitely attend and draw meaning from the messages; however, it would be highly unlikely that there would ever be a message that would promote the adherence to any specific religion. Personally, I enjoy learning social justice topics and the community that the UU congregation offers me. Many say, atheists or free-thinkers lack community, but it is not true. For me, I need community, so I found one that respects my athiesm. Atheism does not have to mean a lack of community as traditional churches are thought to provide.
UU congregations tend to be full of free-thinkers and atheists. There maybe some people who adhere to some form of religion, such as Christianity or Wicca, but in a very liberal manner. Also, depending on the congregation, there is really no "preaching" and definitely no dogma taught from the pulpit, if you want to consider it a pulpit. All the UU congregations I've been to tend to teach universal messages that are applicable to anyone, even to me as an atheist; for example, we might learn about a myriad of social justice topics, respect for the environment and earth, the importance of science, equality etc. So, a Wiccan could definitely attend and draw meaning from the messages; however, it would be highly unlikely that there would ever be a message that would promote the adherence to any specific religion. Personally, I enjoy learning social justice topics and the community that the UU congregation offers me. Many say, atheists or free-thinkers lack community, but it is not true. For me, I need community, so I found one that respects my athiesm. Atheism does not have to mean a lack of community as traditional churches are thought to provide.
Thanks, I've been curious about what draws people to this type of church. For me the best part of being a non-believer is skipping church. :)
This is precisely why we need a study like this - otherwise we can't know for sure if clergy practice what they preach. :) I suspect the vast majority do not practice what they preach, but this is based on my personal experience and chatting informally with family and friends about their personal experiences.
Basically, you don't have any good evidence to support your claim.
I thought that my example clearly illustrates that belief has nothing to do with behavior. I was not singling out a single person (pope), I mentioned him as the very representative of god who allows thousands of cases where clergy (teachers of morality) engagedin a specific immoral behavior and instead of addressing the real problem, deflecting the conversation by condemning a natural phenomena (homosexuality), which has nothing to do with morality.
The child abuse was covered up because these people believed that it was more important to protect the Church than it was to protect children. This belief determined their course of action.
Here is an example: Atheists believe that death is the end.
No, atheists believe that God doesn't exist. I know many atheists think that life goes on after death. Atheists dont think god doesnt exist. They simply have not seen any evidence that one (or many) exist. There is a big difference between having no belief in a concept and believing the concept doesn't exist. Many atheists may hope that life goes on after death. I doubt that many believe it. Such an idea is too wrapped up with a deity or at least in belief in the supernatural, which most atheists reject on evidentiary grounds, the same reason they reject any kind of god belief.