I want to start out by saying it isn't my intent to bash atheists at all and I hope that this doesn't turn into that.
I just have a few questions for atheists that I was wondering if someone could answer for me. My questions are these: How is it that an atheist can believe in good/ethical/right behavior or action? and How can you believe in the performance of magick or mystical anything?
To clarify I was wondering because if you believe in good/ethical/right behavior or action what makes it so? Doesn't its existence mean that there is something greater out there? I have heard people who believed that the only true atheists are moral skeptics and I wanted to know an atheist's view on this. I don't want to argue I just want to understand. Then with the second one doesn't believing in magick or the mystical arts mean that you believe on a force or power that is beyond man? I am kind of sick of non-atheists telling me why humanism and atheism doesn't make sense. I am not atheist but that doesn't mean I don't want to understand atheists better.
I'm not an atheist either, but I think I can answer this in part. We tend to think of ethics as religious-based, but I think it's the reverse. As children, many are taught religion first, then ethics are taught as a part of the religion; so it makes sense that we see it this way. I think most religious codes of conduct were based on society's laws at the time the religions were formed.
Humans have lived together in societies for a really long time, and in doing so we have collectively seen which behaviors benefit and which ones harm society. While what we consider ethical has changed over the centuries, the basic principles remain the same. The seven deadly sins of the bible were quite accurate in describing the most harmful behaviors that plague man: Greed, lust, wrath, gluttony, sloth, envy and pride are all basic human emotions that tend to cause conflicts. Whether these "sins" were written by the hand of a god, or ancient man simply figured it out is up for debate. Personally I believe people have just seen enough of these behaviors to figure out on our own that they cause problems in society.
As far as believing in magic: I can't explain this one from an atheist perspective, as I am not one. I know that anyone who has experienced magic first-hand cannot deny it's existence. As a Wiccan I tend to see magic in a religious sense, but I imagine an atheist may just see it as another kind of science...one that has yet to be studied.
I am sorry that it seemed to you that I was baiting you on this. It truly wasn't my intent. I figured that no matter what I said that there would be a few who would choose (yes choose) to take offense because obviously (dripping sarcasm here) anyone asking about another's beliefs is an attack. I just want to understand not attack which is why I asked a question and didn't start a debate. I put in some points to clarify why I felt the need to ask not to present points to why an atheist would be wrong. That being said.
"the existence of what (some) folks think of as "good/ethical/right behavior" doesn't prove that there's "something greater" out there. Especially seeing as humans don't actually agree as to what is good, ethical or right. I mean, using that logic, the fact that humans can't agree on these things is actually better "proof" that there ISN'T "something" out there."
Never said that it did. I was pointing out that the belief in good/ethical/right behavior would point to a person believing that there was something greater. You sound as though you might be a moral skeptic, which is fine. You also seem to have misunderstood the question. I am NOT asking what is the correct belief or what is true or the ultimate truth of reality. I just want to know how atheists view good/ethical/rightness and how that is compatible with their belief. I am not saying it isn't I just want to know what an atheist's(mostly humanists since they are a group of atheists that I know believe in good/ethical/right behavior) view on this is.
I am in fact mostly looking for views of actual atheists. I do mean someone who rejects the idea of any deity. I usually also view atheists as people who don't believe in any higher power whatsoever. If there are people who view themselves as atheist with some form of higher power I would be interested in their views and how their form of atheism. I will admit that I was hoping for a response from Pavlor since I have been interested in (and liked) most of his comments. I thought he would be able to explain things to me in a better way than most people have. I have heard of spiritual and mystical atheists and I must admit that the concept confuses me and that confusion is a huge part of why I want these two questions answered.
However, I have to go to work, so I will answer this after I get home. In a nutshell: *YES* I am an atheist. I am also a few other things that back up my atheism. Here are some terms:
I am an metaphysical ontologist which means that I believe that the so-called "supernatural" is a part of nature; I cannot believe that anything exists outside of nature as nature is everything.
I believe in a Source (in my tradition, Dæmonolatry), this is termed *to en*, the Greek for "The All". I see Dæmons as aspects of *to en* and *to en* aspects the Dæmons. This technically makes me a dialectical monist.
I will answer the OP's questions about ethics and morality later.