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  1. #1
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    Trying to narrow down an atheist research paper

    I'm wanting to write a research paper that illustrates my belief that theism is
    not a force for good in the world, but rather the opposite. I don't want to be
    too broad or philosophical though, of course, but rather would narrow down to something I can do in a ten-page paper quite easily. Any suggestions of narrowed-down issues would be helpful.

    And if you know who Christopher Hitchens is, I'm of the same anti-theist mindset
    as he, if that gives you any idea of what I'm looking for. I'm only asking on here
    because I am having trouble making up my mind about what to do, and I am wanting to learn more about this stuff as well through this paper, so I'm not
    really sure what all the issues may be; I'm hoping you all could give me ideas
    for this reason. Thanks.


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    How about writing something on the post 9/11 rise of the New Atheism (Hitchens, Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris, etc.).

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    (And, in case you're not already familiar with PZ, http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/)

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    So you want to hold the position that theism is bad but you don't know the reasons why? You can't really start with a conclusion and then find support, it has to be the other way around. So what you should do is research the effects of theism on societies around the world.
    "Astronomy offers an aesthetic indulgence not duplicated in any other field. This is not an academic or hypothetical attraction and should require no apologies, for the beauty to be found in the skies has been universally appreciated for unrecorded centuries."

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    I always pray for an answer to my problems...

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    What Caw said. Find a subject you're interested in (which is the benefit or harm theism contributes to society), then research to find specific historic examples and what famous philosophers have had to say on the matter, then you form your own opinion.

    What you'll end up finding in this case is that theists have done both great evils and great goods. As would be predicted, theists would generally argue that the good is greater and atheists would generally argue that the evil is greater (though truth be told it's irrelevant). If I were you I would probably choose a different focus.

    Also, if this is a research paper, then your opinion needs to be put aside for the time being. I would recommend choosing a subject like the one Elwell mentioned. Small time frame, easy to research, and still relates to your initial interest.
    Last edited by Ian Barker; January 27th, 2011 at 12:01 AM.

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    Just compile all the threads you post into one big, ol' honkin' paper.

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  12. #8
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    I'm wanting to write a research paper that illustrates my belief that theism is
    not a force for good in the world, but rather the opposite. I don't want to be
    too broad or philosophical though
    This whole premise and endeavor is philosophical in nature so I'm confused. What is "good" or "evil" is not scientific, but purely philosophical and a personal morality.

    You'll be missing a major player if you ignored Ayn Rand, Nietzsche and Joseph Stalin.



    Last edited by Izi; January 27th, 2011 at 01:21 AM.
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    ps: Ayn Rand is a poopie head.
    "Astronomy offers an aesthetic indulgence not duplicated in any other field. This is not an academic or hypothetical attraction and should require no apologies, for the beauty to be found in the skies has been universally appreciated for unrecorded centuries."

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    [QUOTE=ps: Ayn Rand is a poopie head.[/QUOTE]

    Dude how can you say that? Without Ayn Rand there would be no Rush lyrics.

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    I'm going to make the most provocative comment I have ever made on the internet. I do not care for Rush. There, it's out and there's no going back.
    "Astronomy offers an aesthetic indulgence not duplicated in any other field. This is not an academic or hypothetical attraction and should require no apologies, for the beauty to be found in the skies has been universally appreciated for unrecorded centuries."

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  18. #12
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    she never killed or violently injured anyone. So why exactly would you say that, what would motivate you? The same freedom of speech that she exercised with eloquence and thoughtfulness?
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    Kev's Thesis-O-Matic: The moral value of the scientific method is more/less moral than moral values that arise from societal norms which have no scientific basis.

    Oh, you said 10 pages.

    Thesis-O-Matic defective.
    At least Icarus tried!


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    If everyone was atheist im sure we would find plenty of new reasons to kill one another.. my science is true and yours is false..

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    Weren't you going to write a paper about art? If you're asking a forum for help then you have not researched the topic enough, or have enough to say on the matter yourself to write a 10 page paper.
    "A drawing is not necessarily academic because it is thorough, but only because it is dead. Neither is a drawing necessarily academic because it is done in what is called a conventional style, any more than it is good because it is done in an unconventional style. The test is whether it has life and conveys genuine feeling."- Harold Speed
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    Quote Originally Posted by Naomi Ningishzidda View Post
    What is "good" or "evil" is not scientific, but purely philosophical and a personal morality.
    Sam Harris makes a pretty compelling counter argument on the importance of science in regards to right and wrong, & good and evil, in his book "the moral landscape", and in this TED talk:
    http://www.ted.com/talks/sam_harris_...t_s_right.html

    -Edit- oops, CaW got in before me
    Last edited by gjpetch; January 27th, 2011 at 05:14 AM.

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    I'm not really knowledgeable in the particular subject area you are looking to research, but I do have a more general suggestion: don't try to prove it to be a force of good. Good is such a vague term to begin with, and you only have ten pages to work with. It seems like you will just waste time by not only trying to show that your idea or person was responsible for this change, but that this change was good.

    Instead, why not try to showcase the impact that something made in its field? That can more easily be shown by a shift in tone, or an increase in number of papers written, as compared to before. Impact is much more quantifiable.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CaW_ View Post
    You can't really start with a conclusion and then find support, it has to be the other way around.
    Didn't the Mythbusters tear this one apart this one in season 1? First episode, even?
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    Here: http://www.iep.utm.edu/

    You can't argue against or for theism without being philosophical.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Naomi Ningishzidda View Post
    she never killed or violently injured anyone. So why exactly would you say that, what would motivate you? The same freedom of speech that she exercised with eloquence and thoughtfulness?
    "poopie head" is not really one of the names I have in mind when i think of murderers.

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  30. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flashback View Post
    Here: http://www.iep.utm.edu/

    You can't argue against or for theism without being philosophical.
    ehh you could find a way. Probably by attributing religion to a biochemical defense mechanism within the brain [which is actually proven], and then showing how that process is detrimental to mental health. You know, how it makes people fly planes into buildings effectively killing themselves, the last thing the brain should want us to do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Naomi Ningishzidda View Post
    This whole premise and endeavor is philosophical in nature so I'm confused. What is "good" or "evil" is not scientific, but purely philosophical and a personal morality.
    That's not entirely true, I think. Morals are conflict resolution, and although there are many ways to resolve conflict I think that for any given social species and societal organization there are sets of morals that are more optimal than others. You could use science to model whether this is true and what those sets might be.
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  32. #23
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    Referring to the OP: Get any book (on dead wood!) about the topic and start there. Then get the next, then the next and so on. You have to read a lot if you want to research something and write about it. And as you research, you'll find the topic that interests you, or you can narrow it down at least, and research more specific as you go.

    Same for every topic. We did an interaction-design project in uni, and i wanted to do something about the topic dreaming. So, in the first 2,3 Weeks we read everything about our topics we could get our hands on.

  33. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by CaW_ View Post
    I'm going to make the most provocative comment I have ever made on the internet. I do not care for Rush. There, it's out and there's no going back.
    But... But... But... THAT tone!




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  35. #25
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    Check the Durant's The Lessons of History for an opinion contrary to your own.

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    How can you even make such a claim without getting philosophical?

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    As long as you argue honestly any claims you make will be considered. I suggest you look on youtube for "Sam Harris" and "Richard Dawkins".




    Or you could just ridicule it like my man Larry
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    I don't think I have to be philosophical to show the detrimental effects of religion on the
    world; I mean saying that religion leads to suicide bombings, genital mutilation, etc. all in
    the name of a god isn't really philosophical, it's fact. And it is obviously detrimental to the
    world when you have an event like 9/11 that was driven by religious belief.

    Thanks for the links and suggestions so far guys.


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    Quote Originally Posted by jeremygordon89 View Post
    I mean saying that religion leads to suicide bombings, genital mutilation, etc. all in
    the name of a god isn't really philosophical, it's fact.
    To explain why circumcision is bad, you're going to have to get into morality. Morality is a branch of philosophy. But if all you choose is physical reasons why theism is detrimental, you're going to have a narrow argument. There are more to real world consequences than physical harm. Sure it's easy and doesn't take much explaining to get across that blowing oneself and others up is bad. But religious fundamentalism rarely leads to physical harm in the States. You're going to have to get a little philosophical to explain why this stuff is bad:









    The reason is because I could probably take down your essay simply by saying "Theism doesn't inevitably lead to suicide bombing." Which is true, there are plenty of religious people, some fundamentally so, that don't bomb things. Westboro Baptist for example. So you should explain why theism is bad even when the worst of a religion is annoying assholes who protest funerals.

    Plus some people, even if they're apathetic to religion, can't see why protesting or teaching kids about the Bible is wrong. In the US we have the right to peaceful assembly as well as freedom of religion. Therefore you have no recourse but a moral argument.
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    Religion is a subset of ideology. Ideology is the true opiate of the masses and the cause of untold suffering and death. If you add up all the deaths caused by nationalism, religion, and communism in the 20th century... you will have a very strong understanding of how dangerous ideas can be.

    Very few minds can divorce themselves from the lure of ideology altogether.
    At least Icarus tried!


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