outline on atheism

* Atheism – the critique and denial of the major claims of all varieties of theism, which banners the belief that “all the heavens and the earth and all that they contain owe their existence and continuance in existence to the wisdom and will of a supreme, self-consistent, omnipotent, omniscient, righteous, and benevolent being who is distinct from, and independent of, what he has created. ” * Atheistic Principles:

a. Philosophical atheists reject the assumption of the existence of disembodied spirits, or that incorporeal entities of any sort can exercise a causal agency b. Atheists generally manifest a marked empirical temper, and often take as their ideal the intellectual methods employed in the contemporaneous empirical sciences. c. Atheistic thinkers have generally accepted a utilitarian basis for judging moral issues, and they have exhibited a libertarian attitude toward human needs and impulses. The conceptions of the human good they have advocated are conceptions which are commensurate with the actual capacities of mortal men, so that it is the satisfaction of the complex needs of the human creature which is the final standard for evaluating the validity of moral ideal or moral prescription.

Ludwig Feuerbach (1804-1872) Raised in a solidly Christian family Went to Heidelberg University to study theology but gave it up later for philosophy. Wrote Das Wesen Christentums published in 1841 “God is a Projection of the Human Mind” * Feuerbach was influenced by Georg W. F. Hegel who criticized the Judeo-Christian religion as a backward religion as it treats man and the world as divorced from God yet places primacy over the latter. Man in consequence becomes forgetful of his concrete life on earth to be realized through his natural human efforts.

Man rather becomes witnesses and martyrs of the world beyond instead of heroes of action in this world. * Feuerbach saw during his time that man was no longer moved by the Christian ideal for supernatural greatness. What were rampant were widespread illusion, indecision and immorality, “we are living in a perfume of an empty vase”. He then sought to explain religion psychologically and anthropologically in order to dismantle its illusions that haunt man. * He wrote The Essence of Christianity where he claims that God is a myth embodying the highest of human aspirations. The alienation of man * Man is torn between conflicting facts of existence. E. g. man has weaknesses yet still strives for fullness, man desires a better life yet his life is limited and threatened by death. * In his desire to stabilize the noble qualities he finds in his nature, man objectifies, idolizes and absolutizes them outside his own changeable being into an absolute other that is unchangeable. This being he calls God. * God is the objectification of human nature.

Man endows God with all the noble qualities and virtues (wisdom, will, justice) as exclusive ornaments of another, infinitely more perfect being than himself. * At the same time man denies these qualities as his own. Hence man is depreciated and impoverished of his own essence/nature. Man dies so that God may be born. * Atheistic humanism * Feuerbach regarded religion as the childlike condition of humanity. Atheism on the other hand is an act of maturity. It is the reclamation of man’s faith to his own greatness and humanity. God is nothing else but man’s own essence taken outside of his being. The divinity of God is due in fact to the qualities man has predicated to him.

* Atheism is the repossession of man’s essence. Atheism is humanism. Humanism in turn is a divinization of man in the sense that man finally realizes the divine dimensions of his own being upon the knowledge of his greatness and humanity, “what is atheism today will be religion tomorrow”. Karl Marx (outline) (1818-1883) Father of Communism Religion is the opium of the people Man and Society Dialectical Materialism * Material conditions of man shape human behavior * Human history is the history of class struggles * Survival needs is the force behind history * Man works to satisfy his needs * Every society is characterized by its mode of production * The mode of production gives rise to the division of labor which defines the mode of human relationship * Alienation * Tribal communism is the earliest and most natural of human organizations. Resources are owned by everyone and shares to each one all things as the need arise. The introduction of the notion of private property gave birth to the problem of alienation * Private property and agriculture created the separation of classes by power and wealth and the beginnings of social conflict. * Master and slave * Feudal lord and serf * Bourgeoisie and proletariat * Capitalism is the peak of human alienation having trade and manufacturing as mode of production

* Extreme division between rich and poor * Production of surplus value from the workers * Communism Marx believed that human history is destined toward a happy future but only after passing through a sequence of oppositions marked by ever more bitter and violent class struggles (dialectics). * Conflicts between social classes will be resolved through revolution ending alienation once and for all. * Man will no longer work for mere survival or profit but for human actualization. Critique of Religion: * Religion as an Ideology * Ideology refers to all the intellectual activities that is formed by and reflect the economic life of man. It is the expression of class interests in intellectual form. Religion then as an ideology is merely shaped by the socio-economic conditions of man. * It is an unhappy by-product of class struggles. * Following Feuerbach, religion is the reflection of man (man makes religion, religion does not make man) * Religion is a form of alienation that reflects the real and underlying alienation of humanity in the economic and material order.

* Religion takes moral qualities out of our natural human life and gives them to god * Capitalist take our productive labor and transforms it to a commodity * Religion as the opium of the people Like opium which is a hallucinogenic and narcotic substance, religion eases pain and creates fantasies. * Religion is a form of escape from material socio-economic exploitation to an imaginary world where oppression disappears. * Religion imprisons, it promotes oppression by representing a system of belief which declares that poverty and misery are facts of life which ordinary people must simply accept and embrace. * It paralyzes the people’s initiative to organize a revolution * It is a symptom of the society’s sickness. In contrast to Feuerbach, religion will wither away on its own as man takes action against his real alienation in his material conditions “the demand to give up the illusion about its condition is the demand to give up a condition which needs illusions:” FRIEDRICH NIETZSCHE (1844-1900) “God is dead. ” * God is not real – apart from the ontological support provided by theism religion turns out to be the ideological support for a moral order.

* God is dead – there are no objective values, no universal moral principles, no single moral code, and non non-natural properties guaranteeing that a given action is right or wrong. There is no independently existing world of reality that could serve as the ultimate standard or foundation for the truth of any value judgement. * Formerly man is a slave to God (objective values) but upon his death man becomes free to make his own choices and decisions, creator of new values and master of himself. * Nietzsche criticizes the ethical individual as a slave of religion * The ethical individual believes that choices are based on objective values instead of being his own responsibility. Hence he evades himself in being ethical, in doing what is objectively right. He is not the existing individual.

To be an individual is to be a creator of values beyond mere conformity. * Nietzsche criticizes Christianity * Christianity is a slave morality for it values weakness and negation over excellence, achievement, individuality and power. It arises as a resentment to the strong and powerful by treating their qualities as evil and uplift the weak and dehumanizing qualities as good e. g. humility, pity and submissiveness to authority. * Its claims are all imaginary and have no point of contact with reality. It conceives a non-sense unegoistic god who does everything for himself and nothing for himself. It is against life. It values the next world as perfect and degrades this world as corrupt thereby making man weak, sick and infirm and worst is Christianity even seeks to preserve all human infirmities with its claims. * Man’s newfound freedom has become his own unfreedom that he needs to overcome through the will to power * Since there are no objective values there are also no alternatives to choose from like having to make a choice in an infinite sea that contains no path marked as the right one. * The individual is left to create his new values.

His freedom paradoxically has become something that he himself has to overcome possible only through the will to power (refer to handout for the description of the will to power) Jean Paul Sartre * Regions of Being * Being-in-itself (le etre en soi) – designating the world of non-conscious beings; it is simply “what it is”; it knows no otherness in as much as it has a definite structure; it is full positivity, it exhausts itself in being (plenitude of being); it is de trop, meaning it neither has any reason for its existence nor connection with another being. Being-for-itself (le etre pour soi) – Sartre’s description of human reality, a conscious being whose being is to be conscious; “what it is not and not being what it is”; it is pure negativity or a nihilation of being which means that it is always aware of what it is not thus, it expresses only non-identity; it is an unfinished being, always in the making; it is a project always to be fulfilled; it is the description of man’s life as a continuous movement towards the realization of his own being. Man (pour soi) as a Useless Passion

* Being confronted with the lack and insufficiency of his being man yearns to appropriate the fullness of the en soi but at the same time preserve his status as pour soi. In so doing he will become the foundation of his own being (ens causa sui). For Sartre this is what it means to be a God, to be full of being and at the same time conscious of its fullness. But the en soi and pour soi are irreconcilable. To be plenitude of being means to be full positivity and therefore not consciousness.

Human reality or consciousness on the other hand is always to be aware of what one is not and consequently what he can become as long as he is consciousness. Hence man cannot arrive at a final, fixed and total identity. * Freedom * Man is what he makes of himself; he is absolutely responsible for what he becomes. * Existence precedes essence – man doesn’t have a pre-established essence but creates his own essence. * The very being of man is freedom because consciousness is a perpetual creation of his essence through choices.

Choice and action are one. * Man however is “condemned to be free” because man did not choose to exist but he is free to make choices. * Man as a pour soi is a free being only if it involved in a resisting world, in his given situations (facticity). Nonetheless the pour soi is not determined or conditioned by them because their meanings are derived from itself, “this facticity is facticity for me by virtue of my consciousness.

* Atheism and Man’s Abandonment There’s no God otherwise essence will precede existence and the pour soi will not be what it is – consciousness for then God has made for it an essence already. God’s existence is irreconcilable to the experience of man as consciousness who exists as a continuous self-creation. * To be God is to be an en soi and pour soi at the same time. This is explained already by Sartre as an impossibility. * If there’s no God there would be no moral values which form bases for human actions. In the same way as man starts with no fixed and given nature so there are no objective values to conform one’s actions with.

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