Atheism Illegal in Indonesia

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http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/man-faces-five-years-for-8216god-does-not-exist-facebook-post/7796 [Broken]

31-year-old Alexander Aan faces a maximum prison sentence of five years for posting “God does not exist” on Facebook. The civil servant was attacked and beaten by an angry mob of dozens who entered his government office at the Dharmasraya Development Planning Board on Wednesday. The Indonesian man was taken into protective police custody Friday since he was afraid of further physical assault.
This is unique to the best of my knowledge:
Atheism is a violation of Indonesian law under the founding principles of the country. Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, recognises the right to practice six religions in total: Islam, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhism and Confucianism. Atheism is, however, illegal. According to Indonesian criminal law, anyone who tries to stop others believing in a faith could face up to five years in jail for blasphemy.

Aan was charged because he used Facebook to spread beliefs that violate the law. Furthermore, it was pointed out he lied on his job application by saying he was Muslim.
You have six choices about what to believe, but non-belief, itself, is outlawed.
 
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Answers and Replies

778
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The problem with "atheism" is that many religious people equate that word with "lawless", thus making a self-professed atheist a self-professed (potential) criminal. Of course, to an atheist, that's nonsense.
 
Curious3141
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Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country, and a de facto theocracy. This is par for the course in such regimes.
 
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I find it interesting that most Christians put to death by Rome were convicted athiests. The word has different meanings to different people at different times.
 
mege
I find it interesting that most Christians put to death by Rome were convicted athiests. The word has different meanings to different people at different times.
In this case, though, they were conviced because they didn't believe in the accepted gods. The Christian God was seen as entirely not real to the Romans when compared to their own pantheon.

I think the definition of athieism can be non-comprehensively defined as: 'the lack of belief in (the right) gods'
 
AlephZero
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Atheism is just as much an unjustifiable belief system as theism IMO. You can't prove that unicorns exist, but you can't prove they don't exist either.

They don't seem to have made agnosticism illegal, though.
 
Ryan_m_b
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Indonesia has a very poor record for freedom of religious criticism. Not a place I would ever want to visit.
Atheism is just as much an unjustifiable belief system as theism IMO. You can't prove that unicorns exist, but you can't prove they don't exist either.

They don't seem to have made agnosticism illegal, though.
It's odd how pervasive this fallacy is. Atheism simply means lack of belief in god(s), it says nothing about the reason why one doesn't belive nor if one believes that gods don't exist. Gnosticism refers to knowledge and this is the element that is always incorrectly placed wrt theism; they aren't on the same spectrum but perpendicular to each other. For example:

- Gnostic Atheist: Do not believe in any gods because they know that no gods exist.
- Agnostic Atheist: Do not believe in any gods because they have no knowledge of any gods existance.
- Gnostic Theist: Believes in the existance of god(s) becasue they know that god(s) exist.
- Agnostic Theist: Believes in the existance of god(s) even though they have no knowledge of any gods existance.

Do you see the difference? Atheism by itself is not necessarily a statement that no gods exist, it is simply a lack of beliefs in gods. In otherwords rather than being B to the theist A it is Not-A.

See also here for further explanation and examples http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic_atheism
 
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Atheism is just as much an unjustifiable belief system as theism IMO. You can't prove that unicorns exist, but you can't prove they don't exist either.

They don't seem to have made agnosticism illegal, though.
Oh look, this argument again.

Atheists don't NEED to prove that unicorns don't exist. They just need to not believe in them. Belief is a binary thing. You either believe something, or you don't. If you neither believe nor disbelieve in any gods or goddesses, you're an atheist. By definition. It's right there in the name.

a - without
theism - belief in the existence of gods or goddesses

Gnosticism deals with certainty. You can be an agnostic atheist, like what you're describing, or you can be a gnostic atheist, who is CERTAIN that no gods exist. Similarly, you can be an agnostic theist, who doesn't know for sure that any gods exist, but believe anyway, or a gnostic theist, who is absolutely certain that at least one god does.

I would consider myself an agnostic atheist. I cannot prove to you that gods do not exist, but the burden of proof isn't on me. I don't believe in anything that hasn't been proven, hence I don't believe in any gods.

You can call that an agnostic position if you want, and it's true, but it's also an atheistic position.

(*Edit: I see Ryan beat me to it. I didn't even notice his response when I replied.*)
 
Curious3141
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Oh look, this argument again.

Atheists don't NEED to prove that unicorns don't exist. They just need to not believe in them. Belief is a binary thing. You either believe something, or you don't. If you neither believe nor disbelieve in any gods or goddesses, you're an atheist. By definition. It's right there in the name.

a - without
theism - belief in the existence of gods or goddesses

Gnosticism deals with certainty. You can be an agnostic atheist, like what you're describing, or you can be a gnostic atheist, who is CERTAIN that no gods exist. Similarly, you can be an agnostic theist, who doesn't know for sure that any gods exist, but believe anyway, or a gnostic theist, who is absolutely certain that at least one god does.

I would consider myself an agnostic atheist. I cannot prove to you that gods do not exist, but the burden of proof isn't on me. I don't believe in anything that hasn't been proven, hence I don't believe in any gods.

You can call that an agnostic position if you want, and it's true, but it's also an atheistic position.

(*Edit: I see Ryan beat me to it. I didn't even notice his response when I replied.*)
Like you and Ryan, I was about to point out [itex]\aleph_0[/itex]'s fallacy. :biggrin:
 
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While the argument about atheist/agnostic etc. is true, the common understanding (IMO) is that an atheist claims that god(s) do not exist (at least here in the U.S.). In other words, while some atheists claim "I do not believe that god(s) exist", I think most Americans hear it as "I believe that god(s) do not exist".

But, back to the story, while I find such laws abhorrent (the Indonesian ones), I find it equally abhorrent that in order to elected to major politics in the US, you cannot profess anything other than some form of Christianity (of course, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between), so how does that make us any better?
 
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And this is why it would be a terriblle misfortune to be one of the 238 million poor souls born and raised in such an oppressive society as Indonesia.
 
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Ryan_m_b
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While the argument about atheist/agnostic etc. is true, the common understanding (IMO) is that an atheist claims that god(s) do not exist (at least here in the U.S.). In other words, while some atheists claim "I do not believe that god(s) exist", I think most Americans hear it as "I believe that god(s) do not exist".
And some people hear "I am an atheist" and think "I am an immoral, amoral evil person who wants to bring anarchy" or "I worship Satan" or "I am a theist who is angry at god" etc etc. It is because of this that we should strive to correct misinterpretations, not simply acknowledge them. This boils over to your next point...
But, back to the story, while I find such laws abhorrent (the Indonesian ones), I find it equally abhorrent that in order to elected to major politics in the US, you cannot profess anything other than some form of Christianity (of course, there are exceptions, but they are few and far between), so how does that make us any better?
I don't find them equally abhorrent but I do find it abhorrent. IIRC atheists are the most mistrusted group in America according to polls.

One has to wonder about the rationale behind legislation like this. I find myself concerned over the thought that far from behind blind dogma driving this there may be a concerted effort to suppress atheism because it is percieved to be/is harder to convert an atheist or get them to follow your rules than another religious person.
 
TheMadMonk
They don't seem to have made agnosticism illegal, though.
Agnosticism is treated the same as atheism in Indonesia. As far as I'm aware, neither is technically illegal but they are not recognised by the state.
 
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Technically blasphemy is still illegal in some states in America. Denying that God (the Christian god of course; the only real one, duh) exists is still on the books as being illegal.
It's just a good thing we have that first amendment, which keeps us from moving back to the dark ages, which is apparently exactly where Indonesia wants to go.
 
Pythagorean
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It appears to me that atheism isn't technically illegal, it's more like "don't ask, don't tell".

Not that that's any more justifiable.
 
TheMadMonk
Technically blasphemy is still illegal in some states in America. Denying that God (the Christian god of course; the only real one, duh) exists is still on the books as being illegal.
It's just a good thing we have that first amendment, which keeps us from moving back to the dark ages, which is apparently exactly where Indonesia wants to go.
If the people of Indonesia agree with such laws then why should they be forced to change them? I don't think the USA should be trying to foist their culture on countries that don't want it.
 
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which is apparently exactly where Indonesia wants to go.
I doubt speaking against religion as some sort move to enlightenment. However, i do agree religion should be kept in check from extreme paranoia and ideas. Certain countries in the middle east such as U.A.E., Turkey do enjoy economic growth despite certain laws prohibiting talk against religion.
 
Dembadon
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I don't want to put words in Aleph's mouth, (so please, Aleph, correct me if I'm wrong) but I believe he was implying there's an "I don't know" position. This would be someone who neither believes nor disbelieves, which is different from the choices provided in Ryan's post.
 
Pythagorean
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You either believe or you don't, your motivation can be "I don't know" and that's the case for agnostic atheist.

All organisms, including humans, are born agnostic atheist. Remember that A-theism is a LACK of belief, it's not ANTI-theism.
 
2,956
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An atheist is a person who believes god(s) do(es) not exist. An agnostic is a person who doubts the veracity of any statement concerning the existence of deities.

As for Indonesia, is it true that there was a referendum amongst the general populace that asked whether atheism should be banned or not?
 
Ivan Seeking
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You either believe or you don't, your motivation can be "I don't know" and that's the case for agnostic atheist.

All organisms, including humans, are born agnostic atheist. Remember that A-theism is a LACK of belief, it's not ANTI-theism.
Just as a matter of clarification, "I don't know" and "I believe" are not mutually exclusive. The entire basis of faith is that we don't "know", but we choose to believe anyway.
 
Pythagorean
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An atheist is a person who believes god(s) do(es) not exist. An agnostic is a person who doubts the veracity of any statement concerning the existence of deities.
no, that's the error we're trying to correct here. It's not a belief, it's a lack of belief.

Ryan's excellent post represents it as a 2-dimensional problem (kind of like the political scale that is authoritative-libertarian vs. liberal-conservative... there's two INDEPENDENT dimensions).

So you can be gnostic or agnostic and you can be atheist or theist.

What you called an "atheist" is actually a "gnostic atheist"
 
Pythagorean
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Just as a matter of clarification, "I don't know" and "I believe" are not mutually exclusive. The entire basis of faith is that we don't "know", but we choose to believe anyway.
I agree. As I said above, the two dimensions are independent. What you speak of here is a an "agnostic theist". A gnostic theist would claim to know.

addendum: I think most reasonable people are agnostics whether they're theist or atheist. Anybody that claims gnosism is usually considered crazy (for a theist) or logically flawed (for an atheist.. because you can't prove a negative).
 
2,956
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no, that's the error we're trying to correct here. It's not a belief, it's a lack of belief.

Ryan's excellent post represents it as a 2-dimensional problem (kind of like the political scale that is authoritative-libertarian vs. liberal-conservative... there's two INDEPENDENT dimensions).

So you can be gnostic or agnostic and you can be atheist or theist.

What you called an "atheist" is actually a "gnostic atheist"
No, atheists believe god does not exist. They make a categorical statement that deities are non-existent. When pressed to prove their statement, they fall into the same problem as a person trying to prove that deities do exist.

There are statements that are neither true, nor false. These are non-scientific claims, and, as such, cannot be analyzed by the methods of logic and science. They fall beyond the realm of these intellectual disciplines.

One may only choose to believe in such claims on a personal level. It does not have to be a coherent belief system, because there is no coherent framework of statements. For example, once you may say I believe God will help me in this hard endeavor, but sometimes you may say I believe God does not listen to the prayers of other people.
 
Pythagorean
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Please review Ryan's post. There's no reason to argue semantics when terms have already been defined in a mainstream and standardized way.
 

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