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Good resources for understanding atheism
Posted: 04 February 2014 01:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 46 ]
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Fuzzy Logic - 03 February 2014 06:44 PM

The impression I got from reading Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion was that he strictly separates people who are certain there is no God(atheists) from those that admit to not knowing and who take no formal position on the issue(agnostics).

I’d have to read the book again, but from what I remember, in his opinion agnostics are fence sitters who refuse to take the “right” position that there is no God.

As much as I admire Dawkins on many levels, I think he’s wrong on this definition.  An agnostic and an atheist are two completely different things. An agnostic is not a fence sitter and an atheist is not a person who says there is no god.  Agnosticism is a position on knowledge. Atheism is a position on belief. They are two completely different concepts. An agnostic is not an atheist “light.” in fact,  agnosticism has nothing to do with atheism. However, a person who describes him or herself as an agnostic should be called an atheist for the simple reason that if he doesn’t know whether a god exists it means he has no belief that a god exists.. Ask a self-described agnostic if he has a belief that a god exists and, if he’s being honest, he would have to say no. That makes him an atheist. That’s all it takes. He doesn’t have to KNOW anything.  He can’t fall back on the “I don’t know” answer because, obviously, he knows whether he believes in a god or not. What he is saying is that he doesn’t KNOW whether there is a god. But the vast mJority of atheists will also say they don’t have any knowledge of whether a god exists.  They will say that since there is no credible evidence of a god they are taking the position of not accepting the claim that a god exists. That doesn’t mean they KNOW one way or the other. . IMO, the person who describes himself as an agnostic has a skewed view of what atheism is.  It does not require knowledge that a god does not exist.  It requires only that the person holds no belief that a god exists, that he does not accept any claims that a god exists.

Even Dawkins is capable of being wrong about what an atheist is and what an agnostic is.  No one who actually knows the difference would ever imply that an agnostic is a fence-sitter and he would never confuse or conflate atheism with agnosticism. I would go so far as to advise that atheists strike te word “agnostic” from their vocabularies. It means nothing. It says nothing about a belief in god. It is a word with almost no use. People are either theists or atheists. There is no middle ground, no matter how much anyone feels uncomfortable with calling himself an “atheist.” If he has no belief in a god he is an atheist, like it or not. No one can be somewhat an atheist any more than one can be somewhat pregnant.

Lois

[ Edited: 04 February 2014 01:08 AM by Lois ]
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Posted: 04 February 2014 12:00 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 47 ]
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Lois,
A couple thoughts from past posts.

On the “Deity of God” Atheists do not believe that the supposed deity that Christians purport to be the creator and ruler of the universe does exist.

On the “Power of God” Atheists believe there is a phenomena that exists where Christian thought can create a supposed being of Power derived from the gospels by faith and belief that is perceived to have the ability to create and to destroy, to govern and control the destinies of nations and individuals, to accomplish all his purposes, and to do his will throughout the physical and spiritual universe.

It’s kind of funny when you think about it. A god that doesn’t exist can have great power in today’s world. I think that kind of puts god in the same group as Santa Claus with the Atheist.

Also.
I was thinking about the human thought process the other day, Young people gambling at college is wrong. People who bet are look down upon. But the same lawyers and judges that prosecute people for gambling can go to the big casinos and gamble and it is OK. Point being, the same system of thought use by Christian religion also can be applied to gambling, prescription drugs vs. other drugs, alcohol, Christian god vs. other gods, being rich is good vs. being poor is bad. You know things like that.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 48 ]
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Negative atheism could well be called agnosticism.

In addition, atheism and theism can be seen in several dimensions and from several perspectives. Whether there are other categories depends on which aspect(s) is (are) under discussion. For example, if atheism is defined as the position that there is no god (positive atheism) and theism is defined as the position that there is, then agnosticism surely is a third category.

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Posted: 04 February 2014 02:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 49 ]
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PLaClair - 04 February 2014 12:14 PM

Negative atheism could well be called agnosticism.

In addition, atheism and theism can be seen in several dimensions and from several perspectives. Whether there are other categories depends on which aspect(s) is (are) under discussion. For example, if atheism is defined as the position that there is no god (positive atheism) and theism is defined as the position that there is, then agnosticism surely is a third category.

Except that’s not a correct definition of atheism, IMO.  Just look at the root of the word. A=without; theism=belief in god. That’s how I dedine it—and a lot of atheists define it. Of course anyone can redefine it in any way they please. I try to keep the terms I use pure. Of course, like everything else in this world, “pure” has a definition, too. The best I can do is explain what I mean by when I use a word. At least the people I am speaking to know where I’m coming from, even if they have a different dedinition.  Sometimes we have to agree on terms before we can effectively debate. If we decide that an atheist is someone who believes god does not exist, then my whole argument and philosophy will have to change.

Lois

[ Edited: 05 February 2014 01:08 PM by Lois ]
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Posted: 04 February 2014 09:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 50 ]
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You’re free to define it as you like, Lois, but when you assert, dogmatically, that atheism means one thing, you’re simply wrong. There are other definitions and ways of looking at is besides yours.

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Posted: 05 February 2014 01:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 51 ]
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You two would have to try very hard to get more picayune and pedantic. 3ztzsjm.gif

On the one side, “atheism means without belief in a god.”

On the other side, “No, it means I believe god does not exist.”

You really should be arguing the definition of “belief.”

I have a lot of respect for both of you, but this is gotten pointless. kap.gif

[ Edited: 05 February 2014 01:31 AM by DarronS ]
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Posted: 05 February 2014 01:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 52 ]
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DarronS - 05 February 2014 01:29 AM

I have a lot of respect for both of you, but this is gotten pointless.

I am afraid it is not totally pointless, however much I wish it would be.

If theists say that atheism is the belief that God does not exist, it (formally) puts the atheist in the position that he should proof his belief. However if you say that an atheist has no belief in God, then the case still lies with the theist to give his reasons for his belief. Most of the times I try to avoid the term ‘atheist’ and stick to ‘I see no valid reasons to believe in God, so I don’t.’ Whereby one must add then ‘God’ in the meaning of Yahweh, or Zeus, or Wodan etc., not the ‘Einsteinium God’. That makes such discussion so tiresome…

So, yes, kap.gif

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GdB

“The light is on, but there is nobody at home”

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Posted: 05 February 2014 04:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 53 ]
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Do you really believe that, Darron?

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Posted: 05 February 2014 07:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 54 ]
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Fuzzy Logic - 03 February 2014 06:44 PM

The impression I got from reading Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion was that he strictly separates people who are certain there is no God(atheists) from those that admit to not knowing and who take no formal position on the issue(agnostics).

I’d have to read the book again, but from what I remember, in his opinion agnostics are fence sitters who refuse to take the “right” position that there is no God.

In fact Dawkins includes a scale of one to seven in his book… one being, “I KNOW that God exists”, seven being, “I KNOW that God does not exist”, and he comes right out and states that he only includes category seven for symmetry as he knows of nobody who actually claims such a thing.  I think his problem with agnostics is when they seem to be claiming that they don’t even have an opinion on the existence of God.  Everybody should have an opinion, even if they don’t have proof.

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Posted: 05 February 2014 09:58 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 55 ]
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advocatus - 05 February 2014 07:49 AM

Everybody should have an opinion, even if they don’t have proof.

In my view, that depends on how you mean it. We walk ourselves into big trouble if we say there probably is or probably isn’t a god, then say that the existence of God is not falsifiable. The two positions are inconsistent. My position is that I don’t have a shred of evidence for the existence of a god, and therefore take it no more seriously as a fact question than whether there is a flying spaghetti monster. The social significance is another matter entirely: I take that very seriously.

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Posted: 05 February 2014 01:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 56 ]
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PLaClair - 04 February 2014 12:14 PM

Negative atheism could well be called agnosticism.

In addition, atheism and theism can be seen in several dimensions and from several perspectives. Whether there are other categories depends on which aspect(s) is (are) under discussion. For example, if atheism is defined as the position that there is no god (positive atheism) and theism is defined as the position that there is, then agnosticism surely is a third category.

Negative atheism can also be called vegetarianism, and it would make as much sense.  Agnosticism is a position on knowledge, and atheism—even “negative atheism” is a position on belief.  You can’t change the meaning of a word by adding an adjective to it. Atheism alone or with a qualifier means “without belief in God,” and agnosticism means “without knowledge” (throw in ” without knowledge of god.” I won’t complain), but, IMO, never the twain shall meet.

If you really want a word for someone who believes there is no god, you should come up with another word that doesn’t contradict or redefine atheism.

Lois

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Posted: 05 February 2014 01:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 57 ]
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PLaClair - 04 February 2014 09:42 PM

You’re free to define it as you like, Lois, but when you assert, dogmatically, that atheism means one thing, you’re simply wrong. There are other definitions and ways of looking at is besides yours.

And yours!

Lois

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Posted: 05 February 2014 01:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 58 ]
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DarronS - 05 February 2014 01:29 AM

You two would have to try very hard to get more picayune and pedantic. 3ztzsjm.gif

On the one side, “atheism means without belief in a god.”

On the other side, “No, it means I believe god does not exist.”

You really should be arguing the definition of “belief.”

I have a lot of respect for both of you, but this is gotten pointless. kap.gif

All arguments become pointless sooner or later. Even arguments on pointlessness. wink

Lois

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Posted: 05 February 2014 01:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 59 ]
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GdB - 05 February 2014 01:52 AM
DarronS - 05 February 2014 01:29 AM

I have a lot of respect for both of you, but this is gotten pointless.

I am afraid it is not totally pointless, however much I wish it would be.

If theists say that atheism is the belief that God does not exist, it (formally) puts the atheist in the position that he should proof his belief. However if you say that an atheist has no belief in God, then the case still lies with the theist to give his reasons for his belief. Most of the times I try to avoid the term ‘atheist’ and stick to ‘I see no valid reasons to believe in God, so I don’t.’ Whereby one must add then ‘God’ in the meaning of Yahweh, or Zeus, or Wodan etc., not the ‘Einsteinium God’. That makes such discussion so tiresome…

So, yes, kap.gif

Yes, that’s my position, exactly. An atheist shouldn’t be making a claim about the existence of god lest he put himself in the same category as a theist who claims god exists—with no evidence. Perhaps the atheist who knows there is no god “knows it in his heart,” the same way a theist knows god exists. Sounds like a slippery slope to me.

Lois

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Posted: 05 February 2014 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 60 ]
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Lois - 05 February 2014 01:18 PM
PLaClair - 04 February 2014 09:42 PM

You’re free to define it as you like, Lois, but when you assert, dogmatically, that atheism means one thing, you’re simply wrong. There are other definitions and ways of looking at is besides yours.

And yours!

Lois

Jesus H. Christ, Lois. My whole point is that there are many way to define it. What on earth does a remark like that accomplish?

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