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Posted: 21 February 2006 09:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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Doug,
I distinguish between “knowing and believing. If a person knows something he/she is certain that it is true. If a person believes something he/she is not certain that it is true.
If someone were to say, “I believe it is raining.” it indicates that the he/she isn’t sure that it’s raining. If someone says, “It’s raining.” it means that he/she is sure that it is raining,, If a person is sure about something he/she is certain that something is true. The difference between knowing and believing is certainty or the lack of it.

Bob

Hi Bob,

You have a non-standard view of what constitutes knowledge and belief. What you are really talking about is weak vs. strong belief. Even “certainty” has a particular standard definition in at least Cartesian philosophy: it is something about which you are immediately aware such that you could not be wrong. Can you be wrong that it’s raining? Of course—if you were hallucinating, or dreaming. So you can’t be literally certain that it’s raining, at least in Descartes’s sense. For him, you can only be certain that you exist and that you are having certain sensations. All the rest is hypothesis, or one might say, various strengths of belief.

(I think he’s going a bit far here, but anyhow ...)

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Posted: 21 February 2006 09:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Dougsmith:

What are you doing now? Using your degree? If so, how so?

Wes

Hi Wes,

I’m working privately for myself, and doing some writing on the side.

Cheers,

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Posted: 21 February 2006 09:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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Hey, Dougsmith! Since you have training in philosophy, do me a favor and stroll over to the Religion and Secularism section. There’s a guy there named Ram whom I’ve been arguing with (two threads called “Nope” and “Let’s discus this question”), but he is over my head in the philosophy department. Thanks.

Hello Advocatus,

I don’t have time to look through all those postings ... and when I skim Ram’s comments I can’t make heads-or-tails of them, except as a sort of recondite theology, for which I have very little use.

:wink:

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Posted: 21 February 2006 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Knowledge, belief and certainty

Hi Bob,

You have a non-standard view of what constitutes knowledge and belief. What you are really talking about is weak vs. strong belief. Even “certainty” has a particular standard definition in at least Cartesian philosophy it is something about which you are immediately aware such that you could not be wrong. Can you be wrong that it’s raining? Of course—if you were hallucinating, or dreaming. So you can’t be literally certain that it’s raining, at least in Descartes’s sense. For him, you can only be certain that you exist and that you are having certain sensations. All the rest is hypothesis, or one might say, various strengths of belief.

(I think he’s going a bit far here, but anyhow ...)

1

————————————-

Doug,
  You say I have a non-standard view of what is knowledge and what is belief. That may be so but I don’t intend to change my view—at least not at this time.
  As for certainty, I am well aware that absolute certainty is impossible. But we live in a world where we have to be at least somewhat certain about a great meny things.
  Bob

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Posted: 21 February 2006 11:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Doug,
You say I have a non-standard view of what is knowledge and what is belief. That may be so but I don’t intend to change my view—at least not at this time.

Hi Bob,

There is nothing wrong with using words in non-standard ways ... except when it comes to communicating with others. Our discussion started when you said you were both an atheist and an agnostic. As most people use these words, this is simply a contradiction. So you run the risk of people misunderstanding what you mean when you discuss these issues ...

Indeed, I am still not sure I understand what you meant ...

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Posted: 21 February 2006 10:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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The words "agnostic" and "atheist"

[quote author=“dougsmith”]

Doug,
You say I have a non-standard view of what is knowledge and what is belief. That may be so but I don’t intend to change my view—at least not at this time.

Hi Bob,

There is nothing wrong with using words in non-standard ways ... except when it comes to communicating with others. Our discussion started when you said you were both an atheist and an agnostic. As most people use these words, this is simply a contradiction. So you run the risk of people misunderstanding what you mean when you discuss these issues ...

Indeed, I am still not sure I understand what you meant ...

        —————
Doug,
  Are you suggesting that I shouldn’t use these words because most people probably don’t know what they really mean?
  Bob

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Posted: 22 February 2006 04:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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Doug,
Are you suggesting that I shouldn’t use these words because most people probably don’t know what they really mean?
Bob

It’s a free country! smile I’m just saying it could be confusing to use words in non-standard ways.

For most people, atheism is the belief that God doesn’t exist.

For most people, agnosticism is the uncertainty (neither belief nor disbelief) as to whether God exists.

(You can substitute “gods” for “God” here too, depending on context).

So if you mean something different by these words, you might want to explain them first ...

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Posted: 22 February 2006 07:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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The words "atheist" & "agnostic"

[quote author=“dougsmith”]

Doug,
Are you suggesting that I shouldn’t use these words because most people probably don’t know what they really mean?
Bob

It’s a free country! ) I’m just saying it could be confusing to use words in non-standard ways.

For most people, atheism is the belief that God doesn’t exist.

For most people, agnosticism is the uncertainty (neither belief nor disbelief) as to whether God exists.

(You can substitute “gods” for “God” here too, depending on context).

So if you mean something different by these words, you might want to explain them first ...

\]

———————-

Doug,
I don’t feel it’s necessary to define words when conversing with an educated person. 
As far as “most people” are concerned I doubt that they that they ever heard of the word “agnostic”.
I am not using these words any differently than any other educated person would use them. I’m not implying that you are not educated but apparently you have not studied “The Problem of God” as much as I have. You may not be aware that it’s an area of philosophy.
Bob

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Posted: 22 February 2006 07:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Doug,
I don’t feel it’s necessary to define words when conversing with an educated person.
As far as “most people” are concerned I doubt that they that they ever heard of the word “agnostic”.
I am not using these words any differently than any other educated person would use them. I’m not implying that you are not educated but apparently you have not studied “The Problem of God” as much as I have. You may not be aware that it’s an area of philosophy.
Bob

smile

Actually when I did my Ph.D. we had to pick a minor, mine was in Asian Philosophy with an emphasis on Philosophy of Religion. My professor (for whom I TAed) was Christian and we did a lot of theology. Also as an undergrad I did a pile of religion courses ...

So yes, I am quite familiar with the problem of God ...

That’s what leads me to realize that you’re not using the words the way they usually are used. But if you’re OK with that, hey, do your own thing!

8)

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Posted: 08 March 2006 04:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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agnostic vs. atheist

Here is a quote from Isaac Asimov that I think is germane to this discussion:
“I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow it was better to say
one was a humanist or agnostic. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.”

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Posted: 08 March 2006 04:21 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 26 ]
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Re: agnostic vs. atheist

[quote author=“Gardener”]Here is a quote from Isaac Asimov that I think is germane to this discussion
“I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it. I’ve been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say that one is an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn’t have. Somehow it was better to say
one was a humanist or agnostic. I don’t have the evidence to prove that God doesn’t exist, but I so strongly suspect that he doesn’t that I don’t want to waste my time.”


Gardener,
Welcome to the forums!
I read that Asimov quote a long time ago. I have been looking for it recently but have been unable to find it. I thank you for posting it. Yes, Asimov was an agnostic and an atheist. He was also a humanist. In fact, he was once named Humanist of the Year by the AHA.
Thanks again.
Bob

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Posted: 08 March 2006 06:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 27 ]
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This forum is quickly becoming an “I’ve studied this more / took a class in this / have more degrees” contest.  Let’s all be civil and assume we’re all rational, reasonable human beings - at least enough so that dialogue consists of arguments rather than qualifications.

And as for my 2 cents, I often say that Atheism means “without God”, or without even the concept of God.  So, it follows that any discussion of the G-word, either refuting it or finding evidence for or against it, is not part part of my worldview.  God is not a natural concept that warrants investigation, it’s just another human conceptual invention like unicorns.  Do I have to disprove unicorns?  :D

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Posted: 08 March 2006 07:05 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 28 ]
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God Is Not a Natural Concept

HolyAvenger wrote
  “God is not a natural concept that warrants investigation, it’s just another human conceptual invention like unicorns.” 

HolyAvenger,
Welcome to the forums.
You are right about God being just another human invention. It’s a supernatural concept that humanists should ignore.
Bob

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Posted: 09 March 2006 01:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 29 ]
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[quote author=“HolyAvenger”]And as for my 2 cents, I often say that Atheism means “without God”, or without even the concept of God.  So, it follows that any discussion of the G-word, either refuting it or finding evidence for or against it, is not part part of my worldview.  God is not a natural concept that warrants investigation, it’s just another human conceptual invention like unicorns.  Do I have to disprove unicorns?  :D

Well, you have to have at least the concept of God, otherwise you wouldn’t be able to discuss it—you wouldn’t understand what the word meant.

We do have the concept of unicorns, even though they don’t exist. The concept of a unicorn is roughly a white horse with a single horn which has certain magical properties and can only be lured to its death by a virgin, et cetera. When you say that “God is not a natural concept that warrants investigation”, that shows you have some concept of what God is supposed to be. (Viz., that it’s “not natural”).

But personally I wouldn’t say that God, even as a human-created concept, doesn’t warrant investigation. After all, part of what people like Dennett do is to investigate the concept ... find out what it means to people, why and how it was created, what sustains it, and so on. (When you do this, you also find that there are basically an unbounded number of “God-concepts” around).

It’s fine to basically ignore God in daily life or in argument ... I do that too most of the time. But IMO it’s too important to world politics and society to ignore all the time.

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Posted: 09 March 2006 05:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 30 ]
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I think you’re right Doug… I was speaking more in a philosophical sense, asserting that Atheism (to me) is less about attacking God and more about living without the idea altogether.  BUT, you’re on the button when you say that God’s overwhelming presence in the world (at least in people’s minds) DOES warrant investigation and concern.  If I didn’t feel that it was worth discussing, I wouldn’t be here!  Sorry for misleading.

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