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Blondesjon's avatar

Is it hypocritical for an atheist to believe in luck?

Asked by Blondesjon (33658points) June 13th, 2014

As asked.

For the record, I am an atheist and find the concept of luck as ridiculous as the concept of Heaven and Hell.

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50 Answers

cheebdragon's avatar

What does luck have to do with god?

The chance happening of fortunate or adverse events; fortune.
Good fortune or prosperity; success.
To gain success or something desirable by chance.”

Blondesjon's avatar

@cheebdragon . . . Neither of them exist.

Unless you can prove luck is real?


: the perfect and all-powerful spirit or being that is worshipped especially by Christians, Jews, and Muslims as the one who created and rules the universe
: a spirit or being that has great power, strength, knowledge, etc., and that can affect nature and the lives of people : one of various spirits or beings worshipped in some religions
: a person and especially a man who is greatly loved or admired

The dictionary gives definitions, not proof.

kritiper's avatar

“Luck” is a deceptive word. Better terms would be “fate” or “chance.” But none is driven by some power be it theistic, pantheistic, deistic, or otherwise.

Blondesjon's avatar

@kripter . . Then why does luck have just as many totems and rituals as religion?

dappled_leaves's avatar

It depends on what you mean by luck.

If you mean having a greater than random chance at having something happen in your favour (or the opposite, in the case of bad luck), then yes. It is just as hypocritical as it is for a Christian to believe in luck. I don’t say “theist” here, because doubtless there are faiths that are compatible with the notion of luck.

I grew up among evangelical Christians who would unfailingly use the word “fortunate” whenever they meant “lucky,” the implication being that the notion of luck was somehow evil, aligned with gambling and such. Of course the word fortunate is named for the goddess Fortune, but since they were unaware of that, it caused them no worry.

However, if you use the word luck in the same way that you use chance, I don’t think that’s hypocrisy. I don’t like the word luck personally, since it is more frequently used to imply some unseen force that grants wishes, or a kind of mystical charm.

cheebdragon's avatar

Ever seen Faces of Death? That is evidence of bad luck.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“For the record, I am an atheist…”

lucky you

ragingloli's avatar

Gambling Device:
These mysterious little devices have the amazing ability to alter the fundamental probability of the universe in a small vicinity. Activating it will cause to you either win or lose. Whatever the outcome, this probability shift will manifest in the form of increased (or decreased) Dodge and Critical Hits.

Can only be activated out of combat. Tribbles interfere with the probability matrix, and so their passive buffs cannot stack with the effects of this device.

Blondesjon's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies . . . It does take a lot of the pressure off.

BeenThereSaidThat's avatar

I would think that “luck” is about the only thing an atheist can believe in.

flip86's avatar

Luck is just a short way of saying that circumstances worked out in my favor or not in my favor.

Blondesjon's avatar

@flip86 . . . How do four leaf clovers, rabbits’ feet, “lucky” shirts, etc. work in to that definition?

flip86's avatar

@Blondesjon Those are good luck “charms”. Different thing altogether. The faith isn’t in luck itself, but in the inanimate object that is supposed to “bring” luck, or shall we say, good circumstances.

Blondesjon's avatar

So folks that wear a crucifix or use the rosary don’t really believe in God they just “think” they do?

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Most people claiming to believe in God really don’t. Most notable among those persons are the clergy (of all faiths and organized religions).
However, since belief in God precludes belief in luck (since God is the reason one is lucky) therefore all the atheist has is belief in luck.

And of course both exist, luck and God.

flip86's avatar

Sometimes I get the feeling I’m talking to a wall.

Blondesjon's avatar

@flip86 . . . Arguing semantics instead of substance will do that to a fella.

flip86's avatar

@Blondesjon A rosary/crucifix is a symbol of a persons religion.

Good luck charms are items in which the owner arbitrarily places faith in the belief that it will bring good fortune.

The gist of what I’m trying to say, is that luck is not something we can control. It is based on chance. When people have a “good luck charm” they place faith in the idea that a random object can affect the outcome of a situation. That is the difference.

Dan_Lyons's avatar

I disagree @flip86 A rosary/crucifix is a symbol or a person’s religion in which the owner arbitrarily places faith in the belief that it will bring good fortune.

CWOTUS's avatar

It might be heretical for an atheist to “believe in” anything, but I don’t know if I’d call it hypocritical. On the other hand, it’s human nature to be “hopeful” of things or to “hope against” some other things.

For example, I don’t “believe in” evolution, but I believe that the theory of evolution is a good explanation for the development of life on this planet into differentiated species. To “believe in” sounds faith-like to me, and I don’t have a lot of faith, even in very good ideas. Some just seem more worthy of “believing” (not “believing in”). Maybe that’s too subtle.

I don’t “believe in” luck, either, but as an impartial and intelligent observer of others from time to time, I understand how some people can often appear to be luckier than others. Many times that’s a product of hard work, preparation, intelligent planning and deployment of resources, game-playing or whatever that makes a consistent winner appear to be “luckier” than his competitors. (I get “lucky” a lot playing cards, especially when I play team games with another intelligent partner who understands the game as well – or better than – I do, can anticipate why I play in a certain way and either support or override my strategy with a better one… and we get “lucky”.

Then, of course, unless you’re a fatalist or believe in total predestination, you can see as well as anyone that sometimes people do get lucky – or the opposite, luck gets them.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s about as consistent as any other “religious” belief. The truth is though, I know of one person whose good “luck” defies belief. He’s a very kind and good hearted soul, but insufferably gullible. Here’s the part that just drives me crazy. It does absolutely no good to lecture him on what a chump he is, because for whatever reason, people refuse to take advantage of him. I once watched a woman scam him for ten dollars. Apparently alarmed at how quickly he forked over the money, she then refused to take it. I have more stories about this guy and his good luck than I can shake a stick at. He wound up marrying a beautiful Canadian heiress that he met while passing out money to panhandlers. She whisked him away to the North (probably to more readily give away her fortune)

johnpowell's avatar

I define it as something bad could have happened or something good could have happened. I got lucky if the good thing happened. It is a word and has nothing (at least for me) to do with magic sky man.

It is kinda like saying I got laid, a event, also lucky.

kritiper's avatar

@Blondesjon Because people want to believe in such things. Blame is easier to place that way.

cheebdragon's avatar

I still don’t see what luck has to do with god or religion. If you don’t believe in luck you should take your ass down to a casino for a few hours. To me, luck is winning $23,000 playing bingo on Super Bowl Sunday…..

Blondesjon's avatar

@cheebdragon . . . People of faith would attribute the same jackpot to God. Luck or God I don’t see the difference.

Bill1939's avatar

Like many words we use, “luck” has different meanings. The superstitious meaning of luck would have one believing that they can influence an outcome with a talisman, ritual or incantation. The un-superstitious meaning is that an outcome was desirable or not.

JLeslie's avatar

I believe in luck as I define it. I define it as Oprah does, “preparation meeting opportunity.”

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

You are right, in the basic scientific sense luck does not exist except in the mind of those who created from their own perspective or thinking. For an atheist who subscribes to believing what can be felt, measured, seen, weighed, heard, etc. it is hypocritical to believe in luck, which as you say, cannot be scientifically quantified.

Seek's avatar

Luck is simply a descriptive term for the way circumstances have played or are playing out.

Good luck: Circumstances are positively affecting me.
Bad luck: Circumstances are negatively affecting me.

The belief is in the object or charm itself having the ability to affect one’s circumstances, not in the existence of “luck” itself as though luck were a force of nature. And I agree that it seems silly for someone who is an atheist because of an espoused belief in fact-based evidence to put credence in good luck charms.

Superstition is so common in human life, though, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t perform some irrational actions because of “luck” or the “evil eye”. Many times it’s completely subconscious – like avoiding cracks in the sidewalk.

downtide's avatar

I believe in “luck” as in, random occurrences for good or ill. But I don’t believe that there is any external force driving it, nor that it can be influenced by anything except individual action. (Luck is winning the lottery; I can increase my chance of doing so only by buying a ticket).

ragingloli's avatar

If rabbit paws really brought luck, rabbits would be immortal, because they have 4 of them.

flip86's avatar

@Seek Thank you. At least someone understands what I was trying to say.

Blondesjon's avatar

@flip86 . . . It’s easily understandable. It’s just not right.

ragingloli's avatar

a good luck charm to luck, is like the rain dance to rain.

flip86's avatar

@Blondesjon Why are you so dense? At least half a dozen of us have said the same thing and still you refuse to accept it. If you hadn’t said you’re an atheist, I’d swear you were a theist.

Blondesjon's avatar

@flip86 . . . I give up. Why am I so dense?

Dan_Lyons's avatar

Oh good. All this time I thought Flip was yelling at me!

cheebdragon's avatar

Is this question really just about Mormons and their magic underwear “mental Kevlar”?

flip86's avatar

@Dan_Lyons Nope. @Blondesjon really seems to ignore the main point of my posts, as well as the same exact point from others.

Luck is not something that requires faith because the word luck is just a descriptor when circumstances turn out good or bad.

Blondesjon's avatar

@flip86 . . . You know the context of luck I am using in this question. Others have addressed it here. Seems that perhaps you have been ignoring my main point.

@cheebdragon . . . thank you for digging deep enough to find the truth. you did leave out the rainbow unicorns though . . .

cheebdragon's avatar

@blondesjon Psht Even rainbow unicorns scoff at Magic Mormon undies. Ha ha ha….(it’s a very pretentious laugh).

Blondesjon's avatar

@cheebdragon . . . for a very pretentious, anti-mormonite attitude


cheebdragon's avatar

@Blondesjon Mormon isn’t a race, it’s a small (compared to the worlds population) group of stupid people….I commend them for their humanitarian efforts and their family values, but anyone who has read the Book of Mormon and thinks its true is still just fucking stupid in my opinion.

Blondesjon's avatar

stupidist . . .

JLeslie's avatar

I never understand why people are so critical of the Mormons. Most religions have things that insist on believing in “magical” things. My Mormon friends are super nice, none of them are stupid. As far as racist, I think people use the word racist now for being against any group. The word seems to be evolving. I don’t know what I think about it, but it is an easy catch all word.

Blondesjon's avatar


cheebdragon's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t think Mormons are bad people, like I said they are fantastic humanitarians, when I was a kid I thought all my mormon friends were lucky to have such a close nit family with such involved parents. I’ve ever met a mormon who was mean or rude to me, I don’t hate them, I just think they believe some REALLY stupid shit, all religions are pretty stupid, but mormon is a special kind of stupid right up there with Scientology. According to the Book of Mormon:
God was once a man like us.
God has a tangible body of flesh and bone.
God lives on a planet near the star Kolob.
God (“Heavenly Father”) has at least one wife, our “Mother in Heaven,” but she is so holy that we are not to discuss her nor pray to her.
Jesus was married.
We can become like God and rule over our own universe.
There are many gods, ruling over their own worlds.
Jesus and Satan (“Lucifer”) are brothers, and they are our brothers – we are all spirit children of Heavenly Father
Jesus Christ was conceived by God the Father by having sex with Mary, who was temporarily his wife.
We should not pray to Jesus, nor try to feel a personal relationship with him.
The “Lord” (“Jehovah”) in the Old Testament is the being named Jesus in the New Testament, but different from “God the Father” (“Elohim”).
In the highest degree of the celestial kingdom some men will have more than one wife.
Before coming to this earth we lived as spirits in a “pre-existence”, during which we were tested; our position in this life (whether born to Mormons or savages, or in America or Africa) is our reward or punishment for our obedience in that life.
Dark skin is a curse from God, the result of our sin, or the sin of our ancestors. If sufficiently righteous, a dark-skinned person will become light-skinned.
The Garden of Eden was in Missouri. All humanity before the Great Flood lived in the western hemisphere. The Ark transported Noah and the other survivors to the eastern hemisphere.
Not only will human beings be resurrected to eternal life, but also all animals – everything that has ever lived on earth – will be resurrected and dwell in heaven.
Christ will not return to earth in any year that has seen a rainbow.
Mormons should avoid traveling on water, since Satan rules the waters.
The sun receives its light from the star Kolob.
If a Gentile becomes Mormon, the Holy Ghost actually purges his Gentile blood and replaces it with Israelite blood.
A righteous Mormon will actually see the face of God in the Mormon temple.
You can identify a false angel by the color of his hair, or by offering to shake his hand.

kritiper's avatar

I once heard a person say that “luck is spelled W-O-R-K. The harder you work, the luckier you will become.”

JLeslie's avatar

@cheebdragon If you are a nonreligious atheist I will accept your criticism of the religion, but I hear Christians point out all that same sort of stuff about Mormons, and yet they themselves believe in the virgin birth, and all sorts of things that seem to defy everything we know about physics and logic, and so I see it as hypocritical. I personally am a nonreligious atheist and I am just fine with believing some things that seem “magical” as long as in real life the people are kind to others, don’t harm themselves or others, and don’t vote to cate laws that will harm the country or take away freedoms from others with other beliefs. I know some Mormons probably do do some of the latter, but mostly I think my Mormon friends get what it is like to be a minority and know their religion is not the majority (although they are Christians in my opinion) and so they get that religious freedom in the country is important, and I care about that a lot personally.

I don’t think all Mormons believe all the details you provided, just like not all Catholics follow the no birth control guideline. Just like so many Americans who don’t follow or believe every detail of their religion.

Paradox25's avatar

No, because we all believe in something. Everything comes down to fallibility, not absolutes.

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