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Let’s Have a Dialog—ie., a Conversation, not a debate—About the god-hypothesis
Posted: 29 June 2012 04:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 196 ]
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VYAZMA - 29 June 2012 11:13 AM

I must disagree here. Agnosticism lies firmly within theistic or deistic boundaries.
Taken within the context of the implications of what a god could be, or what it means,  agnosticism is not ruling these possibilities out.  In other words, an agnostic is not ruling out what an atheist can easily reason to be a contrived, human creation that has evolved socially and psychologically with humankind.
Compared with avowed theists/deists this is almost the same exact thing.  After all, every catholic, hindu, or moslem(etc…) has the same exact ‘doubts”.  A theist questions the existence of god.  Compared with an agnostic, this is analogous to the glass being half-empty or half-full.
On the other hand, nobody is agnostic about Santa Clause.  Why would anyone be agnostic about god?
-Because they were imprinted with the idea.  It is universally accepted.  And it helps explain/or soothe unknowns/fears.
This brief summary rebuts your paragraph succesfully in my opinion.  It isn’t a light matter to be foisted into the compartment of semantics.  It is logic and reason as you have said, but your logic is backwards.  I believe I have briefly shown this herein.

If I follow, and I am not sure that I do, you are arguing that an evo-psych hypothesis about religion means that atheists KNOW that god doesn’t exist.  I do disagree with that as an argument, but I may have misinterpreted you.

Let me clarify. 
Here’s a quote that makes my point maybe more clearly.  It is actually lifted from the Wikipedia page on Agnostic Theism (Iwas there to see what the hell that would be ohh ).
“Properly considered, agnosticism is not a third alternative to theism and atheism because it is concerned with a different aspect of religious belief. Theism and atheism refer to the presence or absence of belief in a god; agnosticism refers to the impossibility of knowledge with regard to a god or supernatural being. The term “agnostic” does not, in itself, indicate whether or not one believes in a god. Agnosticism can be either theistic or atheistic” (Smith, George H (1979). Atheism: The Case Against God. p. 10-11.)

So logically, saying agnosticism is intermediate between atheism and theism is like saying “things that don’t make noise” are intermediate between “things that are yellow” and “things that are not yellow.”  Gnosticism
and theism refer to different things (belief and knowledge).  To put agnosticism into the equation, you need a grid rather than a continuum.

Gnostic Theists—Have knowledge of God’s existence   (and obviously therefore believe)
Agnostic Theists—Believe God exists, but don’t have knowledge of God’s existence.
Agnostic Atheists—Don’t have belief that God exists, but don’t have knowledge of God’s non-existence
Gnostic Atheists—Have knowledge of God’s non-existence, (and obviously therefore don’t believe)

As real-world examples, both PZ Myers and Richard Dawkins are both outspoken agnostic atheists (link).

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Posted: 29 June 2012 04:24 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 197 ]
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If you are agnostic about God’s existence you may very well be agnostic about everything else. Indeed, your whole life could be just a hallucination and you can never be certian that you are really experiencing anything. Agnosticism makes no logical sense.

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Posted: 29 June 2012 04:57 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 198 ]
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George - 29 June 2012 04:24 PM

If you are agnostic about God’s existence you may very well be agnostic about everything else. Indeed, your whole life could be just a hallucination and you can never be certian that you are really experiencing anything. Agnosticism makes no logical sense.

If you are agnostic about everything, you are probably a scientist.  “All knowledge is provisional” and all that.

The trick is to think of it in terms of probabilities—there are infinite gradations of agnosticism.  If I am 50% sure that God does not exist, I am an agostic.  If I am 99.99999% sure that God does not exist, I am an agnostic.  Basically, agnosticism acknowledges the possibility of disconfirming evidence.

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Posted: 29 June 2012 05:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 199 ]
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Well, I am as sure that God doesn’t exist as I am sure that Australia exists. But who knows? Maybe every time I hear anybody talking about Australia I am hallucinating. You can never be sure, right?

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Posted: 29 June 2012 05:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 200 ]
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Actually, the chances that Australia only exists in my imagination while I hallucinate is probably greater than the possibility that God may exist. Because people, after all, do hallucinate.

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Posted: 29 June 2012 05:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 201 ]
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Well, I am as sure that God doesn’t exist as I am sure that Australia exists. But who knows? Maybe every time I hear anybody talking about Australia I am hallucinating. You can never be sure, right?

Haven’t we had this discussion ad infinitum? I’m no scientist so I get a pass on agnosticism. I’m an atheist ain’t no god, never was, never will be and once it’s no longer a fad to declare your agnosticism because we can’t be entirely certain because there is a 999999.99% chance there could be a god because even Dawkins stated that blah, blah. Five senses: Any of em sense god? If so then as George posted, you’re hallucinating, and we can prove that, even if you can’t.

 

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Posted: 29 June 2012 11:09 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 202 ]
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The whole 99.99999% thing is ridiculous.  It’s vestigial imprinting left in peoples minds.  Probably even based on deeprooted psychological imprinting.
In otherwords, people just can’t let go.  What else could it be?  Like George said-nobody is agnostic about Australia.  Nobody is agnostic about Santa Clause.
As an atheist I declared the jig is up.  The ruse is over. 
An agnostic wants to say this too,(for social status, or compartmentalization reasons-probably more for identity reasons.)but why would they leave the possibilty open?
It’s not enough to say-“Because we can’t be sure!” No- give me some reasoning behind your reservation.  Please.
Some examples would be:  “The universe is complicated, and we just don’t really know how it all started.” or….“How could almost 7 billion people be wrong?  There must be something behind this age old tradition.” or…“The idea of god could be beyond what we magine it to be, it could be an actual natural force….”

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Posted: 29 June 2012 11:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 203 ]
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Apxeo - 27 June 2012 03:37 PM

Agnosticism doesn’t lie between theism and atheism.  Gnosticism/agnosticism refers to the presence or absence of certain knowledge (about something).  Theism/atheism refers to presence or absence of belief in a theistic deity.

That is a very clear statement. I would even say that would end all this stupid discussions about who is an atheist, agnostic, .... whatever. But following the discussion afterwards it obviously did not. Funny… Some people seem to hang more on the labels than on their content. Very irrational, I would say.

Apxeo - 29 June 2012 04:57 PM

Basically, agnosticism acknowledges the possibility of disconfirming evidence.

Exactly.

Hope to meet you more often in these fora.

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Posted: 29 June 2012 11:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 204 ]
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As Apxeo says, a scientist can never accept or reject anything 100%.  However, it depends on whether I’m in my scientist or my regular person mode.  As a scientist I’m an atheist who believes there is no god at the 99.9999999% level.  When I’m in my regular person mode, I go with the 100%.  That means I live my life with the 100% idea, but when I’m having a discussion, as on this board, I end up being very precise and am stuck with the 99.9999999% mode.

Occam

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Posted: 30 June 2012 02:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 205 ]
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Spot on Occam and as I’m no scientist, in my field the absence of evidence is evidence of absence. I’ m fully aware that scientists must leave the door open for just the slightest possibility that future evidence could pop up and undo a carefully researched theory. Even Darwin conceded that point, but after over 150 years of attempting to disprove the theory of evolution through stringent testing it still stands. The concept of a deity in any form has been found to be a human contrivance and does not stand scientific scrutiny no matter how the theists wiggle the supposed evidence. Historians can point out the origins of modern religious beliefs and scientists can point to areas in the brain from which the concepts originate. I know I’m being simplistic here and preaching to the choir but I’m really more interested in religion’s impact on social and political structures than the ruminations of finding god/gods.


Cap’t Jack

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Posted: 30 June 2012 06:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 206 ]
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GdB, you are worse at philosophy than you ever imagine.

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Posted: 30 June 2012 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 207 ]
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George - 30 June 2012 06:39 AM

GdB, you are worse at philosophy than you ever imagine.

Thanks for this thoughtful and correctly argued statement.

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Posted: 30 June 2012 09:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 208 ]
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Vyazma and George, the Santa Claus/Australia examples suggest you haven’t paid attention to what people have said about probabilities.  Given the evidence, we can reach very different conclusions about the probabilities of the existence of Australia and Santa Claus, and base our actions on those probabilities. (Also, with the Australia example one isn’t trying to prove a negative).

As Occam points out, there is the distinction between logical/philosophical stance of agnosticism, and actions we take based on that stance.  For example, I might logically acknowledge an infinitesimally small possibility God exists (Last Thursdayism, etc.), but that possibility is so small that it has no consequences—practically speaking, it might as well be 0. 

In scientific or any other kind of humanist research, one always has to hold out the possibility that some evidence will turn up that will prove you wrong.  This isn’t, BTW, just an eccentric opinion.

But regardless of whether agnosticism is a valid epistemological stance, the simple fact remains if you call yourself “agnostic” (and you don’t have a positive belief in god), then you have the same belief as most atheists.  Practically-speaking there are implications though—an agnostic might hold to a higher probability of God’s existence than many self-identified atheists, would avoid conflicts with god-believers, and might have a more flirtatious relationship with church-going, etc. 
Anyhow, I am now repeating myself in different ways.  Those are my thwacks on this well-beaten dead horse.

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Posted: 30 June 2012 04:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 209 ]
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George - 29 June 2012 05:42 PM

Actually, the chances that Australia only exists in my imagination while I hallucinate is probably greater than the possibility that God may exist. Because people, after all, do hallucinate.

George, I am very happy to read that you admit that you are a fellow hallucinater. Or is it hallucinator? No matter.

As I understand it, we hallucinators, a term I prefer, are—like the late, John Lennon—people who happen to have a vivid imagination—a spiritual force that can be used to do good or evil. Therefore, we need to pay attention to the things about which we hallucinate.

No problem, as long as we use our imaginations and live our lives for that which is good, opportune and desirable and, like the late John Lennon (1940-1980), the famous Beatle ,live our lives accordingly. 

BTW, here is the story of his life, which ended tragically in 1980 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Lennon

I mention John Lennon here, because he wrote a famous song about the POWER OF THE IMAGINATION and his hope that it would be used to inspire us all to do good. Here is the story about the song:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imagine_(song)
==============================
But look what happens when the POWER OF THE IMAGINATION—the ability to make something out of spiritual, or immaterial things, not present to the senses—is used for that which is evil—that which is gruesome, odious and diabolic: 

THE BOTTOM LINE IS: Even the idea of god can be used for evil purposes. The choice is ours. Check out the story of David Chapman:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_David_Chapman

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Posted: 30 June 2012 04:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 210 ]
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Lennon was actually not very decent in real life; He was a flaming hypocrite, liar, misogynist, and he was easily swayed by woo.  I’ve always wondered why people found so much resonance with him.

And imagination is not a “spiritual force”.

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