would like responses to the following quote, in effort to educate others

I had a friend who leads a group of addicts.

he asked this on facebook.

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This was given to me by a client today in the spirituality group I taught. It was a hand written note, and the clients definition of Atheism:

"Atheism-Belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything. Then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason at all."

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1) your thoughts. on a rational level,  as if in conversation in person/ or online with this statement.

2) how does this quote make you feel? as atheist? (or whatever you are) 

3) what does it say to you about how welcome you would be in that group? or with that person?

4) what would YOU want the group leader to do if this was said/read in a group for recovery?

answers will be stripped of even your internet nick for reasons of privacy. 

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Is this one of the 12 step programs where you have to put faith into a higher power in order to succeed?

He was merely asking a question.

1. I'm curious what the motivation is for defending atheism in a group like this? Why did atheism even come up? The details really matter...otherwise I have no idea how to respond. In most cases I doubt I'd even bother getting into it. It would have to be a pretty open minded group who wanted (or needed) to learn about different point of views as an integral part of their addiction recovery process.

2. I was merely asking a question.

I would say, "Please, do carry on with your addiction substitutions, and by the way everyone knows that in the beginning, there were two regions: Muspellsheimr in the south, full of fire, light and heat; and Niflheimr in the north, full of arctic waters, mists, and cold. Between them stretched the yawning emptiness of Ginnungagap, and into it poured sparks and smoke from the south and layers of rime-ice and glacial rivers from the north. As heat and cold met in Ginnungagap, a living Jötunn, Ymir, appeared in the melting ice. From his left armpit, the first man and woman were born. From his legs, the frost jötnar were born, making Ymir the progenitor of the jötnar. Most sources identify Ymir's oldest son as Thrudgelmir, who bore Ymir's grandson, Bergelmir. The other jötnar are usually unnamed. Ymir fed on the milk of the cow Auðhumla. She licked the blocks of salty ice, releasing Búri.

I'd say invite him to ThinkAtheist.com and have him browse the following forums: 

Theistic Arguments and Debate Help 

Advice

There are hundreds of responses for similar issues there.

Also being a community of over 19000 members he may find some comfort knowing how many like minded people there are.

Before I try to answer your questions, let me start by giving my definition of Atheism:

Dis-belief in the existance of deities.

Ok, on the the questions!

1) your thoughts. on a rational level,  as if in conversation in person/ or online with this statement.

Oh, how clever, you took your definition of atheism from an internet meme.

2) how does this quote make you feel? as atheist? (or whatever you are)

Intellectually superior. My definition of words do not come from internet memes.

3) what does it say to you about how welcome you would be in that group? or with that person?

For the group, it says nothing. With that person, it makes me feel I would not be included/accepted by them if I make my non-belief public knowledge.

4) what would YOU want the group leader to do if this was said/read in a group for recovery?

Keep discussion on topic... things like religion and politics are probably not the best topics to bond a group together.

i) It's rhetoric. There is nothing to address at the rational level. From an atheistic perspective, it's stupid and fails to represent general atheism in the slightest. However, from a creationist perspective, this may represent considerations which atheists have failed to address or satisfy. I don't feel much pressure to hold myself accountable to creationist perspectives, though.

ii) It doesn't make me feel anything significant. It is alienating to the extent that I disagree with the statement, but there are many similar jokes out there at the expense of theists. For instance, there are jokes likening Jesus to a zombie. It's not that the idea behind the joke is entirely without merit, but to insist that Christians actually worship a zombie would be disingenuous and a misrepresentation of their theology.

iii) It hardly says anything to me. I don't read so deeply into such actions. Too many hidden variables. If it was done anonymously, it would strike me as passive aggressive, but that's the extent of it. If the person recycling this joke thinks it's actually true, we have nothing to talk about where atheism is concerned. It's stale and uninteresting for me.

iv) It depends on the nature of the group and why it was read, but typically I'd say it's counterproductive if the group's focus is some form of recovery. Regardless of good or bad intentions behind the statement (and I would comfortably wager bad if it came to a bet), it's an unflattering, biased, and incorrect characterization of atheism. It is more likely to polarize the group or alienate members than do anything positive. Basically, treat it like any other disruptive behaviour in the group.

1) your thoughts. on a rational level,  as if in conversation in person/ or online with this statement.

Atheism is not a belief in anything. It is a lack of belief in a God due to the complete lack of evidence. It has nothing to do with explaining the universe and what is in it. It posits no theories explaining anything apart from the fact that everything we can observe appears to be the results of the 4 natural laws of the universe acting on the matter that is here. Evolution is not a part of atheism. The theory of the big bang is not a part of atheism. There are no central tenants in atheism.

Also, atheism is "I don't believe in God" not "I believe there is no God." In the same way "I don't believe in Santa Claus" because I have a non Santa Claus explanation for what happens to the food that my children leave out for him and how the presents end up at the foot of their beds. I have never seen any evidence to suggest there is a Santa Claus out there, so I do not believe in him. This is different to "I believe there is no Santa Claus." which would require evidence to definitely prove he doesn't exist. Evidence for a negative is very hard to come by.

But looking to your explanation of the universe and the order within it, cosmological evidence shows that all matter occupied an incredibly small space 13.72 billion years ago. We don't know what happened before the universe began expanding. This means we don't know that there was nothing before "the big bang". We don't know that all matter was created at that point. We don't know what caused the expansion. But we're not embarrassed to admit we don't know. We don't have to make up something just to have the question answered. From what I have been told the mechanics behind the "differential" in a car are an incredible piece of engineering. I have no idea how it works. But I don't have to make something up to feel okay about driving around corners. I'm happy to sit behind the wheel and let it do its thing.

Nothing magically rearranges itself for no reason at all. Everything acts on everything else according to the 4 natural laws of the universe; gravity, electromagnetism, weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force. As I previously stated, there is nothing that can be seen that needs a magical (or miraculous) explanation. If you have a question about a specific, feel free to ask, or Google it. This is a great time to get answers to any questions you have. There are, of course, some questions regarding to the natural world we don't have the answers to. But as I said previously, I don't mind saying I don't know. 

2) how does this quote make you feel? as atheist? (or whatever you are) 

I'm a relative new born again atheist, so at the moment I'm enjoying the 'preaching' to others. Things like this seem like an opportunity to "spread the good word".

3) what does it say to you about how welcome you would be in that group? or with that person?

This is trickier to answer. I think it says more about the persons ideas and POV then what they personally think of me. Essentially the note is saying "You're stupid to believe this." but as it's not what I believe it's an insult that misses its mark. It's not very welcoming, and an incorrect sweeping generalisation about a group of people (and therefore bigotry) but personally I would work beyond that to show why it is wrong. 

Also, my sense of worth is not tied into the opinion of any 'stranger' that I happen to meet. I'm fortunate enough to have been married for a quarter of a century, have 4 great children, and a great relationship with my parents, brothers and other immediate family. I don't care what anyone else in the world thinks of me.

Regarding how welcome I am in the group depends entirely on how this is handled. If I can assume people are allowed to say anything in group, even untruths like this, but people are allowed to offer rebuttal, then I would feel that I am being included and welcomed. The tone of the dialogue is also obviously important.

4) what would YOU want the group leader to do if this was said/read in a group for recovery?

Does he correct when peopled make mistakes like this? Or does he open it to others in the group for their input first? Also, does he know I'm an atheist? My answers in 3) were assuming that I was known as an atheist and the comment was aimed directly at me but things would be different if this was just something that came up in response to a general question about beliefs. If it was aimed at me I would like the opportunity to respond. If it was 'random' then asking for any input from the others would be the first thing. If there was no response from others, or if it wasn't properly defined, he should clarify that atheism makes no claim about an explanation for anything in and of the universe. Defining atheism as a lack of belief in any god due to the lack of evidence would be paramount.

"Atheism-Belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything. Then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason at all."

He's really down on magic, it seems.

Well, then, isn't his God a magician, who pulls universes out of nothing the way a stage magician might pull a rabbit out of a hat? Or does God have a warehouse full of the supplies he needs to build universes?

Psychologists are finding that people look for purposes in things which are not necessarily there. Rather than thinking that the atmosphere allowed creaters to breathe and evolve, they will think that the air is there SO THAT creatures could breathe and evolve. Nature programs fall into this trap by seeming to assign a human thought process to what is certainly instinctive behavior. "The salmon wants to get back to the stream where it was born in order to reproduce." One imagines a picture of a salmon with a cartoon balloon over its head with the salmon thinking "I've got to get back to where I was born so I can lay some eggs."

"Atheism-Belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything. Then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason at all."

1) your thoughts. on a rational level,  as if in conversation in person/ or online with this statement.

Atheism is disbelief or lack of belief in God. The definition of atheism above is a strawman fallacy, which fabricates a position on behalf of atheists to make atheists easier to attack. It's intellectually dishonest; fraudulent.

2) how does this quote make you feel? as atheist? (or whatever you are) 

I'd feel the same way if the speaker had falsely attributed a negative quality to Jews, blacks, women, homosexuals or any other group and then attacked them for it: as though a bigot had offered an insult.

3) what does it say to you about how welcome you would be in that group? or with that person?

It depends on whether the group said nothing or crowed their agreement. The more agreement, the less welcome I would feel. I would not feel welcome dealing with that person one on one.

4) what would YOU want the group leader to do if this was said/read in a group for recovery?

I would want the group leader to explain that derogatory comments about the religious status of others have no part in addition recovery and will not be tolerated. It wouldn't hurt to mention religious status as it appears among race and national origin in the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Send a clear message. You don't care if anyone in your group is a racist fuck, sexist pig, or religious crackpot; just keep your stupid crap to yourself. Otherwise, there's the door.

"Atheism-Belief that there was nothing and nothing happened to nothing and then nothing magically exploded for no reason, creating everything. Then a bunch of everything magically rearranged itself for no reason at all."

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1) your thoughts. on a rational level,  as if in conversation in person/ or online with this statement.

I thinks it's just a catchy way for some atheists to sell books, and it's a gross misrepresentation of what most atheists believe.

2) how does this quote make you feel? as atheist? (or whatever you are) 

I find it embarrassing to be misunderstood like that.

3) what does it say to you about how welcome you would be in that group? or with that person?

It depends on the group. I've only heard what one person has once said. Maybe he's just mentally challanged, or has a bad habit of talking too much that the group can help him with?

4) what would YOU want the group leader to do if this was said/read in a group for recovery?

Remind the group to not judge others, to not assume too much about what's going on in other people's heads.

If I had an opportunity to speak, I might explain that I just don't believe in God, the same way that most people don't believe in unicorns or Zeus. Also realize that most of our daily activities, from brushing our teeth in the morning to setting our alarm clock at night are evidence of how science and technology works for us, whether we believe God created time and space, or not.

After my third reading, I realized that it describes well the universe of Big Bang cosmology.

After my second reading, I considered restating it as Atheism - Belief that there was everything that now is.

After writing the above I will add The everything that always was has always been re-arranging itself and we humans want so much to understand what happened that we make up all kinds of stories about it.

After my first reading I thought it clever enough to merit a second reading.

I will close with It's a splendid description of Big Bang cosmology!

 

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