Saturday, July 23, 2011

An Atheist's Personal Moral Code

If there's no god, then there's no one to bail us out. It's up to us as individuals to make a society in which we would want to live. It's up to us to not waste and to not use more than we need and to not fuck up the planet. I want to live in a society where I can get help when I need it, so whenever the opportunity comes my way I will help out others, and will go a reasonable amount out of my way to do so. If I have more than I need I will share it freely. I will recycle, only purchase what I will use and need, use public transit when I can, drive a hybrid or other more fuel efficient car, plant my own vegetables, buy local, smile at whomever I pass in the street, and say "thank you and have a great day!" to the driver when I get off the bus and to the dude who makes my breakfast. I will treat people working in the service industry and homeless people and ALL people with the same respect and dignity that I give my students and colleagues. I will tip at 20% or higher. I will do my best to not actively make the world a worse place for other people. I will pursue a career in which I can promote understanding and social justice and equality, and in which I can help people improve their own lives.

We're the only ones we've got. This is the only life we got. All we are is how we impact other people on this earth. That is our legacy. All we have is one short life that could end at any moment. If we're lucky we can leave the world a better place when we're gone.

In our house we have a plaque with a Shakespeare quote that we found out on the curb somewhere when we lived in Philly...it's a pretty good summation of my moral code: "Love everyone, trust a few, do wrong to none"

58 comments:

  1. >I will tip at 20% or higher.

    EGADS!!!!! You atheists ARE insane :-)

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  2. ha, well that personal credo comes from when I used to do deliveries and got some really pathetic tips :)

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  3. This all sounds quite noble and so forth, however we all know that people are meat eating mammals who therefore, like all meat eating mammals, especially males, tend to be very nasty.

    Without a fear of God, a belief in an altruistic divine law and a belief in the afterlife, people consistently behave badly.

    There is not and has never been a primarily atheistic society which has not experienced horrific violence and is reproducing at replacement level.

    Atheism is a religion of murder and extinction.

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  4. " I will pursue a career in which I can promote understanding and social justice and equality, and in which I can help people improve their own lives."

    This emphasis on people, in comparison to other animate and inanimate things, implies a belief in human exeptionalism or anthropocentrism which is contrary to atheism. It is apparently a vestige of the biblical belief that man was created in God's image.

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  5. All very nice stuff. I wonder, though, will you also demand that I tip at 20% and higher and require me to share what I have freely to the extent that you believe it to be more than I need?

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  6. "Atheism is a religion of murder and extinction."

    So's Judaism, if you're a Canaanite or an Amalekite...

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  7. How many people have been murdered by atheists in the past century? How many by orthodox Jews? Do the math.

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  8. "How many people have been murdered by atheists in the past century? How many by orthodox Jews? Do the math."

    Since when is morality a numbers game? And, how many atheists are there, as contrasted with Orthodox Jews? And, what if the Orthodox Jews were more successful in their genocide a few thousand years ago, and thus didn't have occasion to kill as many people in the last century? Would that impact the moral calculus?

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  9. well part of my moral code is not inflicting my moral code on other people, but I think people who regularly tip at less than 15% are assholes.

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  10. JP- I believe Humans are different than other animals as humans evidentially have far more logic and reasoning power than other animals, and have clearly made a better use of tools and artificial constructs. I'm also part of the human race, so I have an evolutionary need for self preservation and preservation of the species, as those species that don't have an inherent need for self preservation haven't stuck around long enough long enough to survive. As well as probably an evolutionary drive to tribalism that causes me to fight for the survival of my tribe/genetics over others, especially in cases of limited resources (a driving force behind many wars). I'm also part of an omnivorous species, that eats both plants and animals.

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  11. "JP- I believe Humans are different than other animals"

    So what? Fish swim better, birds fly better, deer run better, etc.

    "those species that don't have an inherent need for self preservation haven't stuck around long enough long enough to survive"

    On the contrary, it is precisely competition within species which weeds out the weak and creates evolutionary progress.

    "As well as probably an evolutionary drive to tribalism"

    Correct, people do tend to kill those from outside their group without hesitation, although in-group murder has always been common, for example infanticide.

    " I'm also part of an omnivorous species, that eats both plants and animals."

    So are chimps, who tend to be very violent upon occasion.

    So without God, man reverts to his natural state, of clans battling and eating each other (cannibalism was universal in primitive societies) and the strong robbing and killing the weak. Until the Torah, the concept of being obligated to help the weak was entirely unheard of.

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  12. "And, what if the Orthodox Jews were more successful in their genocide a few thousand years ago, and thus didn't have occasion to kill as many people in the last century?"

    Those were one time events, not presidents for future behavior.

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  13. Yes, except that humans also have REASON, and it's reason that distinguishes us from other animals and allows us to rise above other animals and our animal nature.

    I know this is hard to understand, being that you seem to be unable to use reason, but hey- there's always some exceptions.

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  14. "it's reason that distinguishes us from other animals"

    Really?

    "Our findings suggest that New Caledonian crows can solve complex physical problems by reasoning both causally and analogically about causal relations."

    http://rspb.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/276/1655/247

    And you're teaching in college? What subject and where?

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  15. You know whatever reasoning those cows may be doing, humans are doing it to a much more sophisticated degree. Come now, don't act like the fool we both know you're not.

    I teach statistics(undergrad and grad), sociology of the family, and population patterns.

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  16. *crows :) (I can just imagine cows doing logic problems lol)

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  17. So crows can only rise a little above their animal nature, but we can rise a lot?

    This is what sociologists have discovered?

    You see really what you're doing is very simple. You were a Jew and you've converted to atheism, however you still have drilled into your mind Jewish ideas like man being created in God's image and "love thy neighbor" although those ideas are completely contradicted by your new religion. Your children and grandchildren will undoubtably lose these Biblical vestiges and revert to complete savagery.

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  18. AE: It would behoove one to give no personal information whatsoever to JP. He has a past history of harassing bloggers and endangering them, as well as their families. I can't understand for the life of me why Google continues to allow this man to publish:
    http://righteousrasha.blogspot.com/2010/06/i-have-admirer.html

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  19. Skepticyid, I wonder why you are so anxious to silence your critics. You don't have any real answers. Apparently I make you feel uncomfortably guilty.

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  20. I was actually threatened with violence and job loss by the atheists in Detroit.

    http://righteousrasha.blogspot.com/2009/10/jew-president-two-patriots.html?showComment=1256265520187#c6333167579925537337

    http://righteousrasha.blogspot.com/2009/10/jew-president-two-patriots.html?showComment=1256509512143#c7754371561351904432

    Since atheists have no logic supporting them, they resort to threats and intimidation.

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  21. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  22. To be honest, however, all this hatred is understandable. I am a huge buzz kill.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/buzzkill.html

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  23. skeptical yid- no worries, JP was commenting here long before Tova even had a blog, I know exactly who he is and the types of things he's done. :)

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  24. Hey AE, long time follower of yourself and B, but very occasional commenter... This post was particularly interesting because of the quote at the end that I appreciate greatly.

    I was thus curious to see if the unusual high number of comments was to praise such well written post. Unfortunately no...

    So, let's see what we can answer to this "philosopher". I hope you don't mind ;)

    jp wrote, among other things:
    Your children and grandchildren will undoubtably lose these Biblical vestiges and revert to complete savagery.
    [...]
    Since atheists have no logic supporting them, they resort to threats and intimidation.

    Let's see... Here we have an argument that basically states:
    - AE's kids will lose their Biblical vestiges
    - AE's kids will revert to complete savagery

    So the implied idea is that people who lose their Biblical vestiges revert to savagery...

    Obviously that is a complete lie since it's not all people who lose their Biblical vestiges who revert to savagery, and there are people who do keep their Biblical vestiges while being monstrous.

    Any sane person would admit that there are, among both religious and non-religious people, of all religions, individuals who act as "savage" and others who don't.

    Basically, this shows that jp is doing a blatant generalization and not using... logic.

    It's thus ironic to see him claim that Atheists are the ones who cannot support their position with logic. It's ironic to see him use a form of intimidation and threat by claiming that if one does not believe in God, then that individual and/or his descendant will fall back to savagery.

    jp, your position is based on faith, not logic. I don't have any problem with that, it's your choice. However, I do have a problem when you pretend to understand the position of others and misrepresent it.

    That's what you did here, and I am sure it's nothing new...

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  25. oh, forgot one thing...

    This made me laugh, a lot:
    I am a huge buzz kill.

    No you are not sir. I would love to see what makes you think you do "kill" any "buzz"!

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  26. JP,

    Your children and grandchildren will undoubtably lose these Biblical vestiges and revert to complete savagery.

    You're absolutely right. Devout belief in G-d leads to saintly behavior, like these rioting charedim: http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2009/06/haredim-riot-in-jerusalem.html

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  27. Without a fear of God, a belief in an altruistic divine law and a belief in the afterlife, people consistently behave badly.

    There is ZERO evidence for your hypothesis. Your saying it's so doesn't make it true. Atheists tend to be like everyone else. Some good, some bad. On average, more tolerant and rational than most believers I know.

    Atheism is a religion of murder and extinction.

    Atheism isn't a religion. It's the lack of religion.

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  28. AE, I'm inclined to agree that people who leave undeservedly small tips are generally rotten. Having said that, I'm still puzzled by aspects of your philosophy-- you say you don't want to impose it on others, but you also say that you want to live in a society where you can get help when you need it. On the assumption that you don't believe in karma, you would agree that the mere rendering of assistance by you to another does not guarantee that you will receive it. How much of your personal moral code regarding helping others will you impose on the rest of us?

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  29. "There is ZERO evidence for your hypothesis."

    How about this. 

    All atheistic societies ever existing so far have either experienced horrific violence and/or are too selfish to bother reproducing at a replacement level.

    Secondly, witness the low crime rate in the orthodox Jewish community.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html

    So while AE rambles on about the beauty of morality which she irrationally carries over from her now denounced Jewish past, her descendants, if she is unfortunate enough to have them, will no doubt revert to their natural savagery. 

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  30. I don't believe in some kind of cosmic karma, but I do believe that people generally get back what they put back out in the world. And if you generally will do favors for other people and are a nice person, people treat you nice and do favors for you in return. It's not 100% of course, and it's not always the same people returning the favors, and yes there have been times where I felt burned for helping someone else who took advantage of that, but in general I have found that the more positivity I put out there, the more positively people treat me in kind. The part about wanting to live in a society where people help other people- it's not that I want to force people to help each other. But I will help other people to try and build up to that kind of society (and I always tell people to pay it forward to someone else whenever I go out of my way to do someone a favor). I'm not sure if it helps but I like to think I'm making the world a tiny bit better. :)

    And JP - actually very little of my morality comes from Jewish thought, I developed my own personal moral code after leaving the jewish community and hanging out with atheist hippies for a few years. In fact when I was still religious, I wouldn't have agreed with any of this.

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  31. "I do believe that people generally get back what they put back out in the world"

    As far as I know, no science supports that. On the contrary, you could argue that nice guys finish last and smart people look out for number one. Your fellow atheist Ayn Rand advocated the virtue of selfishness.

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

    The concept that we have an obligation to help others originated with the Torah, as I've explained.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/01/genius-of-judaism-kindness.html

    Atheism is certainly a religion, as I've explained here

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2009/05/atheism-in-nutshell.html

    And it is responsible for the holocaust as well

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2011/03/were-nazis-atheists.html

    What I would be very curious to know is: Has any sociologist done a study on the correlation of active monotheism and crime? For example, among convicted felons, what percentage attended weekly religious services at the time of the felony and how does that compare to the number of Americans in general who attend weekly religious services? It would seem like a simple enough thing to do.

    I suspect that such a study has not and will not be done because it would embarrass the atheistic academic establishment.

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  32. @jewish philosopher

    Let's use LOGIC. Shall we?

    "There is ZERO evidence for your hypothesis."

    How about this.

    All atheistic societies ever existing so far have either experienced horrific violence and/or are too selfish to bother reproducing at a replacement level.


    Even if that were true (which I don't believe right now since you just assert that without even one single example of what an "atheist" society actually is...),
    the logical conclusion is not that Atheism is false. It would not yield a proof that Theism is correct. Use LOGIC...

    If person 'X' believes 'A', and then go on and do bad action 'B'. It does not follow that 'A' is false because 'X' did 'B'.
    Can't you at least acknowledge such simple logic?

    In any case, belief in a God is not required to reject extreme violence and lack of reproduction.
    My own personal morality, for example, does not support it, and I don't invoke a God. Case closed.
    I could even explain how, but it's not relevant. Your logical argument has been proven wrong using another approach.

    Secondly, witness the low crime rate in the orthodox Jewish community.

    That is good thing of course. But again, because community 'X' believes 'A' and then have good aspect 'B', does not mean that 'A' is true. Your logic fails... again.

    You bashed atheists for not using logic and I just proved you wrong 3 times using logic. Are you willing to correct your mistakes?

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  33. I'm not sure this link will work for you if you're not on a university computer, but here is a reprint of an article originally published in the journal of religion and society that finds that atheist societies have lower crime rates than religious societies: http://www.rationalist.com.au/archive/73/p20-27_paul_ar73_web.pdf

    Of course we all know correlation does not equal causation. Or at least some of us seem to know that. :)

    I am not a fan of Ayn Rand's philosophy, I like Kurt Vonnegut a lot more. Oh and I know there is no scientific evidence that if you are nice to people they are nice to you back, but I've found that to be true at least in my life. When I was religious I always had a chip on my shoulder and didn't treat people as nicely as I could have as a result, and that definitely did not win me any friends.

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  34. In case you can't read it, here's the relevant part:

    "In general, higher rates of belief in and worship
    of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide,
    juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates,
    teen pregnancy, and abortion in the prosperous democracies"

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  35. oh and by the way, this is just the first article that came up when I googled "atheism and crime" didn't have to dig for it at all.

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  36. "the logical conclusion is not that Atheism is false"

    I never said it is.

    "that atheist societies have lower crime rates than religious societies"

    That wasn't my question. I know that you can cherry pick and say that in black neighborhoods in New York City a lot of people go to church and there is a lot of crime (not necessarily done by the church goers) while in Stockholm there are few church goers and few criminals.

    My question is: Among convicted felons, what percentage attended weekly religious services at the time of the felony and how does that compare to the number of Americans in general who attend weekly religious services?

    I suspect that such a study has not and will not be done because it would embarrass the atheistic academic establishment.

    My brother is a cop in Rhode Island and says he doesn't arrest a lot of church goers. 

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  37. I have actually only found one example of a good atheist, and he regretted being an atheist.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/01/chandra-good-atheist.html

    You do need God to be good and without God everything is permitted.

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  38. "As far as I know, no science supports that."

    best quote from JP! all of a sudden, he wants scientific proof!!!

    HAHAHAH !!! LOL!!

    imagine that standard for biblical/rabbinic orthodox judaism?!!!?!

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  39. I was specifically responding to this comment with that study
    "All atheistic societies ever existing so far have either experienced horrific violence and/or are too selfish to bother reproducing at a replacement level."


    But if you want to change the rules of the argument, I guess I can go do more research. Or you know, you can research this yourself, I'm not here to google for you. :) But if you're going to make blanket statements like the above one I suggest you check google scholar for independent verification of your 'facts' instead of just talking purely out of your ass.

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  40. JP: find me a dataset that has information about religious beliefs/attendance among convicted felons,and I will be happy to run the numbers for you myself. (it would be helpful if it's in a .csv, .dta or .dat format.)

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  41. Why is everything permitted without God? And, thinking of Leib Tropper, Sholom Rubashkin, Aron Levy, Jack Abramoff, and quite a few others, who says that lots of stuff isn't indulged even when you've got a God? There's no reason that an atheist can't be good, and a believer can't be bad. You really haven't made your point, JP.

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  42. AE, there is no such data because no sociologist has the guts to collect it. It would be too embarrassing.

    And David, sure I've made my point.

    All atheistic societies ever existing so far have either experienced horrific violence and/or are too selfish to bother reproducing at a replacement level.

    Secondly, witness the low crime rate in the orthodox Jewish community.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/09/orthodox-jewish-crime.html

    I have actually only found one example of a good atheist, and he regretted being an atheist.

    http://jewishphilosopher.blogspot.com/2008/01/chandra-good-atheist.html

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  43. JP - I'm pretty sure that data is out there if you took the effort to look. And you realize all sociologists are not atheists, right? There's actually a few quite religious professors in my department.

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  44. Also, you are just repeating things that we've already disproved, such as your assertion that atheist societies are more violent- that study clearly shows they are LESS violent. So why repeat things we all know are wrong?

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  45. I said either horrific violence (think Khmer rouge, auschwitz), or not reproducing at a replacement level (think Sweden, japan). Or both (Russia).

    I've tried to find that data about felons; no luck. It seems like a fairly obvious question to ask, however I think it's obvious why no one is asking it. 

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  46. Just incidentally, another point you have to remember about atheist morality, is that according to atheism, we have no souls and therefore no free will. We are all merely zombies running on automatic pilot according to our brain chemistry. Considering this, it's a little hard to talk about what we "should" do. We will do whatever we are going to do.

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  47. jewish philosopher- I don't think a lack of soul= no free will. Where did you get that idea? I do think people are influenced by their surroundings and the social structure they were born into and live in, yes, but I also definitely think humans have free will to act within those constraints. Sociologists even have a fancy technical term for free will- "Agency"- and it's why we can never find perfect correlations in human behavior, because there is always the agency factor. :) Something I talk about on the very first day of class...we can find patterns of behavior but the patterns are never perfect, we can never perfectly predict behavior, because humans always have free will.

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  48. It is a proven fact that those people that do NOT believe in an invisible moster made out of spaghetti that lives in the sky that cretaed all of us with a big "poof" and planted dinasaur bones to fool us all - all those people are violent criminals.

    I polled every single prosoner in the U.S. and also 50% of all prisons across the world, it took me 10 years to do this research. EVERY SINGLE PRISONER does not believe in this monster!

    Thus, anyone who does not believe as I do, that flying spaghetti monster rules the world and will punish us if we eat a cheeseburger, or masturbate (that was for JP ;) - will 100% end up in jail.

    PROVE ME WRONG!

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  49. AE, I'm afraid you may be a little behind in your reading. Atheists rejected free will a century ago.

    http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2010/02/04/0915161107.full.pdf

    Ksil, just stick to your belief, called evolution, that worms turn into people. Lol

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  50. JP, Atheism doesn't have dogma the way religion does, certain atheists may have rejected the idea of free will 100 years ago or whatever, but that's not like established atheist creed. Atheism is the absence of a creed. And I'm telling you that within the secular academic field of sociology, free will is acknowledged and even has special jargony terms. I don't see why you insist on sticking to points that have been disproven over and over again, how much evidence do you need to see before you give up on your ridiculous ideas? Do you realize that by patently denying reality and choosing to ignore facts that don't agree with your view of the world, you seem to everyone else like an unhinged lunatic?

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  51. Atheism is a religion which teaches that a personal, Biblical God does not exist and evolution created us.

    Now evolution obviously could not create a soul, meaning therefore that we are soulless bags of chemicals. Chemicals follow the laws of nature and cannot behave in ways which are not determined by prior causes.

    You can believe whatever you like, however you are not an atheist.

    You may want to check this out.

    http://www.naturalism.org/atheism.htm#littlegod

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  52. I've found that MOST supposed atheists I've come across are actually just anti-religious (or at least the currently defined "organized religions" version).
    Most of them are just recreating a religion "light" when they reject - for whatever reason - religions that already exist.
    Jesus fish are replaced by Darwin fish. Chanukah is replaced by XMas. Kippas are replaced by tie dye.
    Pick your poison.

    To ME, choice IS God. Science IS God. The Big Bang was God waking up. Creation, the big one, IS God. When we write, explore, birth a baby, we are creating and acting "like" God.
    Humans have 1 big giant difference above all other animals, we have knowledge. We can write, pass on, explore for explorations sake. Tapping into this makes us into God's image. The space molecules that make up all of our bodies are part of Gods plan. Black holes, evolution, all the rules of science (which we only partially understand) are Gods plan.
    Judaism is compatible with this. Basic "Jesus is love" Christianity is compatible with this. Zen oneness too. I happen to be of the Hebraic faith and believe that the Torah - written by man but divinely inspired - works as a rulebook for modernity pretty darn well.

    But while I don't discount other derechs - including atheism - as working for some people, I've found MOST atheists disagree with me simply on semantics - the chosen DEFINITION of God - rather than my fundamental views.

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  53. 'm not sure how to respond to that part about "religion lite" as I'm not sure how the things you mention are religious rather than responses to religion (except christmas maybe?). Tie dyes and darwin fish are symbols of inclusion, and religions also tend to have symbols of inclusion, but that doesn't mean symbols of inclusion=religion lite.

    As for your description of god- so how is that different than saying "God is life and existance". science tells us the rules of life, the big bang was the start of the universe, 'creation' is the start of life on earth, when we give birth we are giving someone life. I don't see what that has to do with god though? All the things you say can be true without a magical man in the sky making it so..

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  54. Symbols.
    I think certain symbols we "adopt" BECOME religious in nature. The symbols of "I'm an atheist dammit" BECOME religious, just like a Jesus fish or a hamsa, things not specifically mentioned in the Bible (new or old). It shows the world where you POV lies.
    One of the 3 various definitions of religion:
    "a specific fundamental set of beliefs and practices generally agreed upon by a number of persons or sects" Don't Darwin Fish and tie die define you (larger you, not YOU, AE specifically) as belonging to a certain sect? Doesn't NON belief, and the symbols used, become a dogma as tight as belief?

    Re God
    Do you have a specific definition of God that your not believing in? That guy in the sky thingy?
    That's my point, God just is, people define it and we chose which definition to believe in or NOT believe in.
    To me there is no "guy on a cloud counting mitzvahs." However I DO believe in a real and relevant God, one that if you listen closely, you can gleen a way to live and love from. Mitzvahs are a gift, not a yoke (ok, most of them). Chose to do them or not, it matters not to God. But these are the "rules" for living a Jewish life, one that has been mighty successful over the centuries.

    God has as many nuances in Judaism as there are names for God. I wouldn't say "God is life and existance," I would say God CREATED the RULES for life and existence. God CREATED the language of science that we are only JUST beginning to understand. To me, THAT'S what God is, the language of the universe, that miracle of our planet's creation and humans ability to recreate some of that magic through creation & knowledge. The God of Ein Sof. Why break what isn't broken?

    God is within the silence of Aleph, like the silence before the Big Bang. The majesty of God is within love or a good Bob Marley song, or in Yosemite valley, or at shabbat, eating the same meal my grandparents, and great grandparents (on back) ate with their families. And yes, some of the LANGUAGE of God is within physics as much as Torah, something any good physicist will tell you we BARELY understand.

    I understand it's a little slippery, but to me it's also real and relevant. Just because I don't believe in some guy making decisions about my life doesn't mean I shouldn't act correctly - according to my interpretation of Torah - and that God, and tapping into the strength of God, isn't real.

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  55. JP obviously cannot think outside of the mindset of religion, so can only conceive of "atheism" as a rival dogmatic set of beliefs, rather than the LACK of unproven beliefs that it is. It's also convenient for him that this view allows him to neatly box "atheism" into one group where he can take any statement by an atheist that he doesn't like and claim that it's representative of all atheists.

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  56. Philo -- what is agnosticism vs atheism vs just plain anti-religious?
    I think it goes both ways, "Here is my understanding of God, I don't believe in that, therefore I'm an atheist."

    I don't believe in Ra, or Ganesh, or the Spaghetti Monster, or that Jesus was the Son (literal) of God, or that there is a God on a cloud counting good vs bad deeds. But I'm not an atheist.
    Doesn't an atheist who says "I don't believe in something that can't be proved" following the same path as a believer? Can you PROVE black holes? String theory? Or is there some faith there too? And if you COULD prove string theory, beyond a shadow of a doubt, does that explain everything in the universe or is there some faith involved in it's existence, and it's rules too? Can you PROVE God - and every variation of God - doesn't exist?

    So much of what we add to the trappings of our lives are just watered down religious rights - Xmas trees are religious, sorry. You may not celebrate them the same way as someone very Christian, but it's there.
    Heck even Phish concerts become religious - they are just giant masses of celebration of a group of people without a CLEARLY defined code (somewhat yes).

    Even AE's Shakespeare quote of her supposed moral code - "Love everyone, trust a few, do wrong to none" (It's actually "Love ALL..." from All's Well That Ends Well", Act 1 Scene 1) is based on ... basic Christian principles! Which are of course based on ... basic Jewish principles (don't need to bother with all 613, we've got the Top Ten Mitzvah List right here).

    So, yeah, it's ALL what we bring to the party, our baggage, assumptions and already formulated beliefs that determine what we believe or believe we don't believe.

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  57. "so can only conceive of "atheism" as a rival dogmatic set of beliefs, rather than the LACK of unproven beliefs that it is"

    Atheism is a set of opinions concerning our origins, our future, ethics and morality, life's meaning and purpose. It has it's leaders, sacred texts, etc.

    In other words, it's a religion like any other.

    Unfortunately, it's an extremely false and dangerous religion which is causing immense suffering and is pushing humanity toward extinction.

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