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  1. #1
    IAmZamzam's Avatar
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    "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

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    If you are in doubt about whether or not people always have an awareness of God floating somewhere back there in their minds regardless of what they may consciously believe (and there's been another thread on this recently, I think, with scientific support for the idea), I have a little experiment for you. I think you may find the results interesting. They certainly have been for me.

    The experiment consists of two parts:

    1. First, from now on pay close attention every single time you hear anyone refer to "fate" or "destiny". What are they referring to? No one can ever define the terms in ways that aren't either pointlessly vague or absolutely circular, and few enough can do anything but stammer and fumble when they're asked to define them at all. Don't you suppose there's a reason for such common words having no real meaning? I want you to listen from now on and try mentally replacing the words with "God" or "Providence" every time you hear them, and tell me if you ever detect any noticeable and practical change in the meaning of the sentence.

    2. Now let's do the same thing but with atheists specifically. Notice how they use the word "Nature" a lot, often with that very same personifying capital? I want you to listen to the way they use the word and do the same thing: mentally replace "Nature" with "God" when you hear an atheist talk. Tell me how often it seems to make the sentence any less sensical.

    I'm looking forward to seeing your results!
    Last edited by IAmZamzam; 05-28-2011 at 01:56 AM.
    "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Peace be to any prophets I may have mentioned above. Praised and exalted be my Maker, if I have mentioned Him. (Come to think of it praise Him anyway.)

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    Pygoscelis's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Quote Originally Posted by Yahya
    1. First, from now on pay close attention every single time you hear anyone refer to "fate" or "destiny". What are they referring to? No one can ever define the terms in ways that aren't either pointlessly vague or absolutely circular, and few enough can do anything but stammer and fumble when they're asked to define them at all.
    I don't understand. What is vague or circular about a definition like in the dictionary for the word Fate: that which is inevitably predetermined. Predetermination is a pretty solid concept, is it not?

    People have pondered and argued over this concept for centuries. Are events predetermined or do we have free agency to shape what will happen in the future? Could things have happened any other way than they did or was it destined to be so? This can be queried and debated by theists and atheists alike and need not have anything to do with Gods.

    Don't you suppose there's a reason for such common words having no real meaning?
    Maybe I'm missing something. Why do you say they have no real meaning?

    I want you to listen from now on and try mentally replacing the words with "God" or "Providence" every time you hear them, and tell me if you ever detect any noticeable and practical change in the meaning of the sentence.
    Yes, it adds religious or spiritual overtone and concious agency. Because something is predetermined doesn't defacto create a need for a God, or for conciously making that so. Further argument would be required.

    2. Now let's do the same thing but with atheists specifically. Notice how they use the word "Nature" a lot, often with that very same personifying capital? I want you to listen to the way they use the word and do the same thing: mentally replace "Nature" with "God" when you hear an atheist talk. Tell me how often it seems to make the sentence any less sensical.
    Again, it adds religoius or spiritual overtone, and concious agency. Sometimes atheists will personify nature and refer to Mother Nature, etc. But this is known anthropormorphism. We'll also sometimes refer to our cars etc as if they were concious beings. I plead with my car sometimes to make it to the gas station when I'm low on gas and don't notice right away. I know full well that it can't hear me and that I'm just engaging in nonsensical personification, yet I'll still do it.

    In contrast theists actually do believe God exists and can hear their prayers. I see them as doing the same thing I do with my car. They don't see it that way. That's the difference.
    Last edited by Pygoscelis; 05-30-2011 at 07:47 PM.

  4. #3
    IAmZamzam's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Poets get anthropomorphic all the time: that doesn't mean that they'll consistently use a word in a way that always seems conveniently interchangeable with another one, specific word.

    Predetermination is an incomplete thought when it (too consistently not to be at least subconsciously deliberate) leaves out who or what is doing the predetermining. It's like talking about the plotting of stories while going out of your way not to openly acknowledge the existence of authors.

    I didn't start this thread to start up a nine billionth debate with you. If you're not going to participate in the experiment (and I wouldn't have asked you to) then take it to a PM.
    "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Peace be to any prophets I may have mentioned above. Praised and exalted be my Maker, if I have mentioned Him. (Come to think of it praise Him anyway.)

  5. #4
    Lynx's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    I think the influence of religion on our language has more to do with the phenomenon you talk about than any kind of 'awareness of God'.

    As for your experiment, I don't really know any atheist that likes to use the word "destiny" or "fate". I also don't know of anyone outside of wiccan religion (or something) that capitalizes Nature. I do notice a lot of people saying things like "nature created blah blah" which might be what you're talking about. Again, this has probably more to do with the influence religious statements/concepts/stories/language influences how we speak and the words we use.
    "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.
    -Plato

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    Pygoscelis's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Quote Originally Posted by Lynx View Post
    I think the influence of religion on our language has more to do with the phenomenon you talk about than any kind of 'awareness of God'.
    Indeed. And again, there is really nothing vague about "destiny" or "fate" and to demand that they require a "creator" or "author" is just as much a leap as demanding the universe requires a creator. It is an assumption/bias a believer will bring to the table, but it is not a necessary one and would require more argument. Perhaps things simply are pre-determined. A lot of atheists actually happen to believe this (which throws the need for a creator/author) out the window. There have been some interesting discussions on this topic with good points made on both sides of the issue at the freeratio board (an atheist board).

    Fate doesn't imply agency. You need more for that. And saying "mother nature" or saying nature does something doesn't imply agency either, or Gods, anymore than a frenchman using the feminine pronoun makes a ship a woman.

    Also note that predetermination may say something about free will, and that if there is no free will for anyone and all is predetermined that actually strips God of a lot of his purpose (as his actions would also be predetermined).

    I do notice a lot of people saying things like "nature created blah blah" which might be what you're talking about. Again, this has probably more to do with the influence religious statements/concepts/stories/language influences how we speak and the words we use.

    Reminds me of people who will go around calling atheists theists because they will say "Oh my God" every now and then. Kind of like saying "Holy Cow!" makes one a Hindu.
    Last edited by Pygoscelis; 05-31-2011 at 01:21 PM.

  8. #6
    Pygoscelis's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Quote Originally Posted by Yahya Sulaiman View Post
    I didn't start this thread to start up a nine billionth debate with you. If you're not going to participate in the experiment (and I wouldn't have asked you to) then take it to a PM.
    I suspect that if I opened a thread in a public forum (that includes muslims) and tried to show via semantics that muslims subconsciously know that God doesn't exist there would be a few comments and observations from muslims to correct that understanding, to say the least.

  9. #7
    IAmZamzam's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Nowhere did I say anything about atheists using the terms "fate" and "destiny". In fact, I split the whole thing into two separate parts in the first place for exactly that reason. That's just a small sample of the kind of remorseless misrepresentations to come if we keep this up.

    Pygoscelis, I am not dignifying anything else you have to say here or elsewhere with any responses. I've replied to you only once in this thread and already somehow we've reached the point where I would be reminding the other readers of what I've already said that you are intentionally avoiding. Probably with the very next response I will already be demonstrating future selective quotations, that being your one and only other means of debating anything. I've lost what little patience I once had with you several arguments ago and even if I hadn't the last straw on the camel's back would definitely be the act of having to actually deign to defend the idea that predetermination has to be predetermined by someone or else it's not predetermination at all. This is a textbook example of why I hate philosophy, what it does to the minds of intelligent people, how it can inject pseudo-intellectual nonacceptance of basic facts that would be obvious to every four-year-old, like a disease from a hypodermic needle, into people on even the most elementary of subjects and the most obvious of facts. As for Lynx, he can have any last word he likes because until responses come from non-atheists (or atheists not wanting to go through the same old motions--fat chance) this will be my last post in this thread. People have seen the OP and have the option of trying it, and that is enough. This is why I hate going to message boards and why I come less and less: every thread is an argument and every argument is E-X-A-C-T-L-Y the same. It's proof positive of Stephen King's idea that hell isn't other people but repetition.
    Last edited by IAmZamzam; 06-02-2011 at 02:55 AM.
    "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Peace be to any prophets I may have mentioned above. Praised and exalted be my Maker, if I have mentioned Him. (Come to think of it praise Him anyway.)

  10. #8
    Pygoscelis's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Quote Originally Posted by Yahya Sulaiman View Post
    having to actually deign to defend the idea that predetermination has to be predetermined by someone or else it's not predetermination at all.
    Which is simply false.

    There are actually some very good secular arguments against free will and for complete predetermination. One being that if everything is material and matter follows cause and effect (which people debate, but if it is true) then everything must be predetermined though unpredictable. And if A god does exist and especially if he "gave us free will" then there are all sorts of arguments that flow from that against predetermination.

    You can't just make biased assumptions, call them "something every four year old knows", throw out a bunch of adhoms to those who see through it, and expect it to stick. It won't.

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    IAmZamzam's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Take it elsewhere, to someone who's willing to waste more time. I'm done bickering with you and with anyone here. We'd just be going through the motions at this point. From now on the only theology I discuss here, God willing, will be specific points of dawah with people in the "New Muslims" section or something.

    By the way, I think I've warned you before about deducting reputation points from you if you continued in your habit of stubbornly referring to every personal remark as an "adhom" after I've corrected this definition a jillion times and you've seen how much it irks me, and I don't bluff. I've just deducted them. All the same, I bet you still think I'm bluffing now and will write yet another response because you fully expect me to be back. Have
    "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Peace be to any prophets I may have mentioned above. Praised and exalted be my Maker, if I have mentioned Him. (Come to think of it praise Him anyway.)

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    Pygoscelis's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Quote Originally Posted by Yahya Sulaiman View Post
    Take it elsewhere, to someone who's willing to waste more time. I'm done bickering with you and with anyone here.
    Now this is just classic. He ressurected the thread after it was dormant for four days just to say that he has nothing to say. I love it!
    Last edited by Pygoscelis; 06-09-2011 at 06:51 PM.

  14. #11
    M.I.A.'s Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Quote Originally Posted by Pygoscelis View Post
    Which is simply false.

    There are actually some very good secular arguments against free will and for complete predetermination. One being that if everything is material and matter follows cause and effect (which people debate, but if it is true) then everything must be predetermined though unpredictable. And if A god does exist and especially if he "gave us free will" then there are all sorts of arguments that flow from that against predetermination.

    You can't just make biased assumptions, call them "something every four year old knows", throw out a bunch of adhoms to those who see through it, and expect it to stick. It won't.
    if this world follows cause and effect then as long as there is choice there is free will.
    even if every outcome is predetermined, choices are made in real time.

    so god would still have a purpose if only to nudged people in a certain direction now and again.. not that anybody has proof of god or anything.. or how that would effect freedom of choice.

  15. #12
    Trumble's Avatar
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    Re: "Fate" and "Nature"--the world's subtlest popular euphemisms

    Quote Originally Posted by Yahya Sulaiman View Post

    I'm looking forward to seeing your results!
    Might be a long term project. Since you stuck that up I haven't encountered anybody using 'fate', 'destiny or 'nature/Nature'. Especially the last; looks like another Yahya strawman to me; I've never seen or 'heard' that 'personifying capital'. Atheists, and indeed theists, use the word in two predominant ways; either nature as in plants, animals and the great outdoors or nature as in essential characteristics or qualities, most often in 'human nature'. 'God' is not semantically substitutable in either instance.

    'Fate' again has two meanings, either a sequence of inevitable predestined events or the cause of such a sequence (the second might well have that personifying capital). 'God' cannot be semantically substituted for the former. 'God' could be semantically substituted for the latter only in contexts where that cause is assumed to be God; it would not work in a Buddhist context for example.


    Quote Originally Posted by Yahya Sulaiman View Post
    This is a textbook example of why I hate philosophy, what it does to the minds of intelligent people, how it can inject pseudo-intellectual nonacceptance of basic facts that would be obvious to every four-year-old, like a disease from a hypodermic needle, into people on even the most elementary of subjects and the most obvious of facts.
    The whole purpose of philosophy to examine those 'basic facts' to establish how 'factual' they actually are, although granted for useful discourse you have to start with substantial assumed common ground. Ufortunately, you do tend to consider your own arguments in the form

    Premise 1. Basic fact

    Premise 2. Basic fact

    Conclusion.


    Given that , assuming the argument is valid, the only option for your opponents is to attack your premises you should hardly be surprised, let alone rush off and start sulking, when they do. Were they in fact such unquestionable 'basic facts' that option wouldn't be their either, but I'm afraid they are rarely anything of the sort. They are usually highly loaded and biased assumptions.
    Last edited by Trumble; 06-09-2011 at 09:32 PM.


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