Up@dawn 2.0

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Group 4 - Section H1 - Atheism

In today's discussion, we talked about A.C. Grayling' podcast about Atheism. Larissa first brought up the discussion that people are a lot less religious today. Also, she talked about those people that do not have a religion or do not believe in God are more open to talk about it. I personally think that people today are more open to talking about whether or not they are a religious person. It seems like people who are religious want to understand why those people do not believe in God or another religion. However, on a personal level I think people are just as if not more religious than they use to be. In my hometown, there was no one at my church that was in my age group due to the fact my church is a very, very small church. However, when I came to MTSU and went to a church nearby, there were so many people that were my age that were attending church. It was a good feeling to know that there were so many people at my age going to church. That is why I think that the number of people that believe in God is still strong. But I definitely agree that people are more willing to talk about it because a lot of people today are more accepting than they were a long time ago.

Then, we brought up the discussion about the need of an enforcer to enforce morality. Grayling believes that the idea that morality needs an enforcer is a logical fallacy. Larissa discussed how the threat of force makes people act good. However, Keaton said that we act good out of the fear of God, which he defined as people not wanting to disappoint God. He said acting good out of fear is similar to our parents. We do not want to disappoint our parents because they would be upset if we acted in a wrong way.

Then, we discussed about people having a sense of right and wrong. Keaton and Erin discussed that people have a sense of right and wrong because God put that in us, but not everyone acknowledges it. I agree with this. I think that everyone has a sense of right or wrong because if people did not, then the world would be under distress through massive murders and more. Also, I believe that people who do not believe in God are still good people.

Also in our discussion, we talked about agnostics. We talked about how these people do not decide whether or not they believe in God because they do not try to understand one way or the other. Keaton and Larissa looked up the definition on this one while Erin, Yusra, and I waited casually in the grass outside today (Thank you Dr. Oliver!). One of the definitions was that it is the view that the existence or nonexistence is unknown. (I cannot remember who looked this one up! Also, I think that one was the only definition read out loud so please comment with the other definition.)

Finally, Dr. Oliver came over as a floater from the other side of the JUB lawn. He talked to us about how new atheists do not put on the glasses of the believers in God and morality. Also, he talked about how the rational assessment of what is best for others works best for atheist. Also, most atheist look at the rewards they get out of doing something (Correct me if I am wrong about what you exactly said Dr. Oliver). I think that it is very important to see both views and understand why one thinks that certain way. It is better to be an informed citizen rather than a citizen that only believes that it is his/her way or the highway.

I want to end the blog post by saying that I have enjoyed this class. I cannot believe that this is the last group discussion post that I will be posting in just a few moments. It has been nice to talk about the different philosophical ideas that people are having today and the other philosophers that have made a tremendous impact in the world back in the day! Also, I can definitely tell my thinking has changed in my everyday life. I went from just thinking about things one way to being open about the different ideas that people may have on the similar issue(s). I think that has made me into a better person and a better U.S. citizen by being well informed.

DQ: Throughout the PHIL 1030 course, did the way you thought about different philosophical ideas change? Did this new style of thinking change your everyday thinking outside the classroom?

FQ:   Q:  According to A.C. Grayling, ____________________ is something that religions themselves should be embracing for their own survival.

           A: Secularism

Here is a link that I found that had an interview with Grayling on March 30, 2013. Enjoy!


  1. I think that in general a lot of people are more open to talking about religion nowadays. What I meant earlier was that people who aren’t religious are more likely to speak about it openly to other people, which is why I thought A.C. Grayling was saying that the world is less religious today. It’s not any more or less religious than before, it’s just people are actually talking about it now, whereas before people felt a certain way but didn’t say anything.
    Also, look at where we live. Tennessee is in the middle of the Bible belt, where everyone is really religious. If you look at this like a problem in statistics, Tennessee would be more like an outlier that skews the data. I’m not saying that there isn’t merit: it’s just hard to judge all of this without the overall picture.
    I enjoyed this class too! In response to your question, I think I’ve learned to really look at an idea and analyze it more. It’s changed how I think about different ideas, and in general just helps you be more respectful and open.

  2. "Keaton said that we act good out of the fear of God, which he defined as people not wanting to disappoint God."

    ...I assure you, I do not act good out of fear of God. Potentially out of fear of the law, if you are a cynic, but definitely not God. And yet I would still say I "act good" the vast majority of the time. If anything, I think I behave well because I like to be a model of how I think other humans should behave. There is a philosopher we talked about who I can't for the life of me remember, but he said something similar to this. (least helpful sentence ever? i think so).

    I think Larissa has a really great point about your "data" is scewed. People are certainly religious all over the US, and I think in general we are pretty open about it. However, where I'm from, people don't cling to their beliefs as hard as they seem to here (and by that I mean, there's not a lot of emotional attachment to a personal belief).

  3. Erin Paul12:19 AM CDT

    Good summary, Evan!!! And thank you for being our author pretty much the whole semester!
    So, one point I didn't get to really state was to argue against Grayling's point about Christians doing good things for personal gain or to get into heaven. It is clearly stated in the BIble that our works DO NOT get us into heaven.
    Ephesians 2:8-9 says, "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast."
    We are not good people. We are sinners. Nothing we do can get us into heaven. It's a gift of God. Believing in Him and having a relationship with Him is what gets you into heaven.
    We talked about why we, specifically Christians, do good things. Personally, I want to glorify God in everything I do. My works are based on my relationship with Him. Sure, I did good things before I knew Christ but my motives were much more selfish. And I'm not saying non-Christians can't be good people - I definitely think they can be (I know lots!)!! I want people to look at my life, which are basically my works, and see God.
    Matthew 5:16 says, In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven." I love this verse and I think it summarizes my main motive in doing good things. This is also our motto verse (?) for Wherry.

  4. Thanks Evan for being the reliable and trustworthy author of Group 4 (who never really decided on a name...). I've enjoyed reading your posts and commenting on them!

    It's hard to remember everything every member of the group says during the discussion, so sometimes people's points get a bit fuzzy when they are put in summary.

    I was speaking of myself, a Christian, when I said that I try to do good because I fear God. By "fear God," I mean that I love God so much that I do not want to dishonor Him by doing things that are contrary to His nature, which is sin. I want to live righteously because that is what He wants us to do. That doesn't mean I live a perfect life - I certainly don't! But I strive to honor God because He gives me life. I obey God out of my love for Him (just how I obey my parents because I love them and respect their authority). Like Erin said, I want to do good things to glorify God!

    I agree with Matthew that man recognizes a certain Moral Law. I also agree with C.S. Lewis who says that we "do not in fact behave in that way." I have found that the maker of this Law of Nature is the One who deserves my obedience.

    C.S. Lewis' "Mere Christianity" ---- A good read for those who are interested!

  5. Nice summary Evan! Way to finish strong! I think this is a topic that would have paired well with the (what I think were the most important discussions in this class- multiculturalism and cosmopolitanism. But it's Nigel Wharburton's book so...
    I want to bring up what seems to be atheists #1 go to argument when it comes to "there is no God" arguement. That is- if there was a God then why wasn't couldn't He have done better thatthe state of suffering and plagues in the world? Well my answer to that is this. If there were no trials, tribulations, or challenges that we faced, and this was just a perfect realm, would Earth not be Heaven? What is the point of looking forward to Heaven if it's the same as the place we are now!? All the struggles and obstacles we face are what show our true colors, our morals, and our character!!

    well tha is all! I really enjoyed class as an oppurtunity to learn about y'all in a new, deeper light. It has made me learn your values and positions on aspects of life! :D Until next time..


  6. Matt in #14 has an interesting perspective on this... http://www.blogger.com/profile/06474480269243568010

  7. That link didn't take us to Matt's comment:

    I commented on this last week, and I'll repeat it here. It makes a lot of sense to look at it in the light of "you need suffering to appreciate good" and I fully agree with that, it gives us perspective. However, I think that Law is really bringing up the *amount* of suffering as his reasoning for disbelief in the traditional God. As a parent, there is no way I would ever knowingly let any of my kids come to great suffering if I could prevent it so easily. Sure I let them jump off the couch, so that when they fall off and it hurts, they learn "the hard way" not to do that. God is our Father, and we are His children, according to the religions that Law is criticizing here. What kind of parent would I be if I allowed my kids to learn "the hard way" not to jump in front of a bus? Or strap a bomb onto their body and step onto a bus?
    This line of reasoning only deals with "free will" issues of humans harmingthemselves or other humans through choices. If you saw a person who could control the weather, but sat by and watched while a hurricane hit the coast and killed their own kids, would you consider that person a good parent? Would you write it off by saying that clearly by nature of his ability to control weather he must have a better understanding of the universe and thus must recognize that thos killed are serving their happiness and the worlds' happiness better by being dead?
    Doesn't make a lot of sense to me, I agree with Law
    You've nailed it, Matt. The evidential problem of suffering, the question of "amount," poses a serious challenge to faith in a providential deity. For some of us, it's a conclusive challenge. And it's simply false that whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger. Too often, what doesn't kill still maims, breaks, debilitates, does not improve.

    But the issue is finally personal. Each of us must answer this one for ourselves.