Orlando Humanist Association Message Board › ARTICLE/SURVEY: "Atheists, Emotional Motivation, & Self-justificati
I too think that emotion plays a role in some paths to atheism, and even that some individuals might even feel a need to justify their position intellectually. And I would agree that the emotional component is more of a resistive force and ultimately a reactive rather than a primary positive source.
Tnx for your considerable contribution! As usual, your logical formulation is thoroughly thought out, and intrigues me. Unfortunately, I do not have the time to give it the proper reply it deserves (off to concert at the White House), but hope to get to it before to long...
You're a gem!:) I appreciate your - somewhat idiosyncratic - take on things. I will make comments to the content of your post when time permits. Stay tuned...
P.S. And tnx for completing the survey. As I mentioned previous, and you have noted here, this is actually one of the more interesting aspects of this thread.
|A former member||
Well, first, you have differentiate between emotion and intellect.
One definition I just ran across for intellect is -
Intellect is a term used in studies of the human mind, and refers to the
ability of the mind to come to correct conclusions about what is true or real.
How does one come to these conclusions? Remember, even
if it is emotionally driven, they still arrive to
a conclusion of one's mind. So, is there really a large
divide between emotion and intellect?
So, would the real question would be HOW MUCH emotion was
used when your mind arrived at the conclusion of
Atheism? Which leads back to how emotion takes part in
all decision because as such emotional creatures
we can't help but to allow emotion to taint our
conclusions. ALL of our conclusions.
Even when someone reads the Bible, something concrete,
their emotions mix into what they are reading and
therefore into whatever conclusions they are arriving.
This process, as a whole, would be intellectual.
Even my conclusions were tained by emotoion as
unfairness was one the big emotions that I remember
as a child, because it was such a strong emotion,
which started me down the path I have arrived to today.
Although since that time I have studied science and
astronomy and biology and physics and religion and
through these studies I have arrived to my intellectual
conclusion. But knowing this does one say emotion
played the part or was is strictly intellect. How do you
seperate them? Since intellect is so tightly bonded
with emotion, can you? And if not, is it really important
to determine the answer to the Dr's question in the
I agree that making a distinction between emotion and intellect is important. A given word can have multiple meanings. The challenge is to get the intended meaning based on context. And in this case we are also looking for the distinction between two words (namely, emotion and intellect). For the moment I will mainly address "intellect"...
You singled out one definition. I think it has value, but also think it misses making any useful distinction with emotion. The cited definition identifies "correct conclusions about what is true or real", but emotion potentially could lead to the same thing.
So, I consulted one of my favorite word sources: OneLook. It is a "meta-dictionary" (i.e. it searches multiple dictionaries). This provides a wide range of meanings to consider. It also sometimes gives a consensus view. The key, common thread that I found, and ones that fit the context of Dr. Craig's statement are: reason, understanding, knowledge, rationality, objectivity. These are in direct contrast to emotion.
"the faculty of reasoning and understanding objectively"
"the capacity for rational or intelligent thought"
"the capacity for rational thought or inference or discrimination"
"The ability to learn and reason; the capacity for knowledge and understanding."
From Latin: "intelligere 'to understand, discern'" (etymology)
So, in light of the above, in answer to your question: "is there really a large
divide between emotion and intellect?", YES, there is.
I note that you used "taint" when referring to conclusions drawn from emotion. This implies a perceived flaw in using emotion to make conclusions. And again, this points to a distinction between emotion and intellect, at least in viewing these as means of arriving at conclusions. Unless of course you consider intellect to be equally "tainted", then that's another issue.
I'm maintaining a focus on comparing emotion and intellect, because I see this as critical to Dr. Craig's statement. It will be good at this time to copy the statement here (paraphrasing): "atheists come to such a position by emotion, but claim it's intellectual in an attempt to give their position legitimacy."
So, while the balance of emotion to intellect used in arriving at the conclusion is an interesting matter, the thing that caused me pause was the claim that the person felt a need to legitimize their position with an appeal to intellect, implying a perceived deficiency, on the part of the atheist, in using emotion. So, it's the fullness of Dr. Craig's statement that I'm addressing, not just parts of it.
Your last paragraph is very interesting...
First, I do not see that "intellect is so tightly bonded with emotion". Or maybe I just don't understand how you mean. They most certainly both play a role in decision making (and to different degrees depending on the person and the decision under consideration), but they are distinctly different, as I have gone to considerable effort to support above.
Now, you identify a strong emotional factor (unfairness) and say that it tainted your conclusions. Then you say that this led you to pursue an intellectual path (study of science, etc.) which resulted in your conclusion (an atheist position). This could be viewed as an attempt to legitimize your thinking. This seems to have some connection to what Dr. Craig was saying.
Finally, you ask, "How do you separate them [emotion and intellect]? Since intellect is so tightly bonded with emotion, can you? And if not, is it really important to determine the answer to the Dr's question in the first place?"
It matters not if emotion and intellect are tightly bonded, your question misses the significance of Dr. Craig's statement. It isn't about the role of emotion and intellect, or if or how they are bonded, but about saying that the person views emotion as an unsupportable and illegitimate means of arriving at the atheist position, so they feel they must claim the decision was made through intellect.
If I have misinterpreted what you have said and have intended to communicate, please correct and clarify. Tnx.
P.S. I am thoroughly enjoying this thread, and value your participation. I hope my exploration is respecting your input, even if I offer differing viewpoints. I'm fairly sure all is fine, and this is a forum for discussion, after all, but I just wanted to be explicit about my concern for healthy dialog. Tnx for listening.
Edited by Swami on Feb 20, 2012 11:15 AM
|A former member||
@ Swami -
This is good thread and a good discussion.
I understand your points but I have to defer to a different opinion.
I agree that emotion and intellect are seperate to the point that a proton
is seperate from an atom. Using an anolgy. Is it fair to compare a proton
to an atom? I could identify either one with a picture, so that in itself shows
they are different. But, without a proton, you cannot have an atom.
So it is diffficult to truly compare them.
To the same point, I still believe that you cannot have intellect without
the influence of emotion. But emotion itself is usually not arrived to by
intellect although it is very commonly restrained by intellect.
So, I cannot see the usefullness of comparing the part of something with
another thing it needs as a whole.
I think the Dr is trying to dilute the thinking of anyone that is an Atheist by making
them wonder if their decision is justified because emotion is a part of intellect.
Yes, my intial response was emotional as with the unfairness I felt. The questions I had
were those like in the United States, you had a high degree, if you were a child, to
be exposed to Christianity and even being indoctrined into it simply because the U.S.
is dominated by Christians. Likewise, a child in another country where another religion
would be dominate, would be most likely be indoctrined into that relgion under no
fault of their own. As a child, I very overwhelmed with that realization. It was extremely
unfair that according to the religion I was being taught that these other children would
suffer in hell simply because of the geographic location they were born. Punishment
should be because of something you did wrong. These children DID nothing wrong.
Being born somewhere else was a circumstance, not a wrong doing. So, my emotional
state was arrived to by intellectual means. Again, they work hand in hand.
There was no intellectual justification needed for my conclusion as both played their
own serperate part to the whole. Just as a proton plays it part in the whole of the atom.
The error is assuming because emotion can be seperated from intellect you can seperate
intellect from emotion. I conclude that you cannot. So it is an unfair comparison.
Our processes in the brain always allow us to arrive to conclusion of one sort or another
and emotion is always a part. But the conclusion is intellectual. Emotion itself does not
have enough parts to allow someone to arrive to a conclusion on its own. We filter
emtion through experience and knowledge and instict and a variety of other factors.
The feeling is there, but to conclude something from it takes more.
|A former member||
I shall confess.
I was going to avoid confessing just to keep down the number of split hairs.
This discussion has opened up some new thoughts for me, and new insight into my own journey.
I am inclined to support Marshall's post.
I arrived at 'disbelieving' in God/god after, at least, an emotionally disappointing attempt to show that there really was a God/god. With the gradual opening of my mind to this emotional disappointment, I began to consider more intellectual reasoning, facts I do have and facts I do not have, evidence for and evidence against. At this point Intellectual Arguments become an acceptable approach.
One might describe an emotional believer, as one who desperately needs to be held in the arms of his Saviour, as a person who blindly-emotionally rushes forward, instantly dismissing any Intellectual Arguments. Desperately clinging to a Feel Good Belief. One must have Faith, Blind Faith, for to question is the road that leads to Hell Fire. And these are the people who will kill you if you rock their boat with facts contrary to their Emotional Holy Beliefs. The earth is flat, and the center of the Universe, and has four corners, and the whole thing was created for 'God's Children', and your only hope is the Shed Blood. And you had better listen to the Pope -- Vicarius Filii Dei. And if that doesn't put the Fear of God in you, then the Inquisition will try to 'save' you.
So, if you have never lived in Emotional Blind Faith, then you have missed a trip and you ain't one of my kind.
I think that after my emotional experience, as I began to feel safe from Hell Fire, I spent more time with Intellectual Arguments. Perhaps it is Fear that locks the Close Minded Door so that the Terrified Mind can not see any validity in the Intellectual Argument.
That person who wrote those Intellectual Arguments,,,
They can't save you !
But, Jesus can save you !
Now, do you want to be saved or not ?
|A former member||
@ Joseph -
Okay. But I think you have misunderstood something fundamentally important.
I think even believers arrive to their conclusions through intellect. Intellect
is arriving to a correct conclusion in one's mind . (by one definition) What
one person perceives to be right does not necessarily have to be ultimately right
for them not to have used intellect.
It reminded me of my math test today in school. One of the questions I later
realized I actually got wrong. But, while I was working the problem I was using
my intellect to arrive to the answer and I believed it was correct. Even though
my method was flawed it was still intellect being used to work the problem.
So, just because we think they are wrong for their beliefs, they think they are right.
That does not mean they didn't use their intellect. Inetellect has its emotionally charged
base but as I tried to say in my previous post, it also reflects the person's experiences
and emotion and other factors. We cannot say just because it's a belief it wasn't arrived
to by intellect.
We can't sell them short on this particular issue. We can find their conclusions wrong
but not the means in which they arrived.
Lastly, that is not to say that tomorrow or next week their emotions won't change
or a new experience won't lend it's hand and they won't find themselves arriving at
a new conclusion. But in the end it will still be the result of intellect.
While I can honestly say that emotion did not drive me to disbelief several emotions result from the adoption of the rational view.
Some are positive emotions like being at peace with the limited understanding of the universe we have and not being constantly in fear of the wrath of irrational dieties (although their representatives still give me pause from time to time)
Also atheists appear to generally have a much healthier compassion for our fellow humans and place a high value on peace.
On the negative side, the forceful evangalizing of an unsupportable position by the local penitent and the national level believers (Pope, Televangalists and certain political nut cases) cause revulsion and concern when they attempt to affect the lives of all in accordance with their delusions.
So while I still maintain that the journey TO atheism was, in my case, intellectual; the result OF my atheism can be emotional.
Humans tend to complicate the obvious and then react viscerally to their creation. I think we all fall victim to that propensity.
OK, time to catch up on replies! Comin' up:) ...