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Atheist or Agnostic?
Posted: 26 April 2006 01:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 31 ]
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[quote author=“dougsmith”]

Hi Jay and thanks for your comments.

What you are distinguishing is strong belief from weak belief, which is what we do when oddsmaking.

We may ask, “What is belief?” “What is it to believe something?” One way we can actually measure belief is by oddsmaking and betting.

If you say “I believe X”, I can gauge whether this is really true (and to what extent) by asking “OK, and then what money would you put on X?” or “What odds would you put on X?” That’s because clearly we don’t believe everything with the same confidence, as you note in your two examples.

I appreciate your distinction and find it useful.  Money is our way of keeping score and a useful symbol.

Let me make a projection.  Not specifically TGT (The God Thing), but rather one of the perks He’s supposed to offer as a signing bonus.

The afterlife.  Questions to ask: How strongly do you believe in it?  How much would you bet on it?

People invest their {heart}, their {soul},—won’t quantify those here—their time and money, their actions, their belief…

Who wins the bet?  If the person is right and wins (proof at death), do the oddsmakers have to pay off?  Not if “you can’t take it with you”.

Funny spin on that on last night’s Colbert Report.  Spoof on the Lennon Pay per View Seance.  Spoke to Lennon thru old radio.  Lennon wanted a piece of the back end on the show’s revenues.  Colbert says “but you’re dead, whaddya need money for?”

“Turns out, Heaven’s very expensive.  It’s a gated community.”

Oh, and “I’m bigger than Jesus.”  Yeah, you claimed before that the Beatles were bigger than Jesus.  Got you in a lot of trouble.

“No, *I*‘m bigger than Jesus.  I’ve met him.  Got a good two inches on him.”

ttyl

BB

= = =

God WAS my copilot, but we crashed in the mountains and I had to eat Him.

 

 


I believe strongly that Tony Blair is the PM in England; I’m pretty sure of the name of the head of the French gov’t, less so of Germany ... these can be measured in degrees.

Oddsmakers and bookies do this when they ask for the “spread” in a game. How strong is your belief that the Yankees will win the World Series this year? You can actually put bets on this and win if you’re right.

But strong belief is different from knowledge. We can say “I strongly believed X, but I was wrong.” But it seems very odd to say “I knew X, but I was wrong.” (Notice that you can say, “I thought I knew X but I was wrong.”)

That’s because knowledge involves truth. In order to know something, it has to be true.

The standard philosophical definition of knowledge, again is this:

Knowledge is true, justified belief.

If you are interested we can get into why the “justified” is added here.

Best,

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Posted: 26 April 2006 04:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 32 ]
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Thanks for the kudos ... not deserved BTW, I got all this from other people. But anyhow, it sounds like you are discussing a bit of Pascal’s famous Wager:

that is, since believing in God gets you infinite good (= infinite $$) or nothing (if there’s no God)

and not believing in God gets you infinite bad (= negative infinite $$) or nothing (if there’s no God)

then it makes sense to believe in God, since on average you win.

Problem with Pascal’s Wager goes back a long way. Why? Because there are many (infinite) different jealous Gods you could believe in. What if you believe in Jehova but Allah is the real God? Or if you believe in Allah but Zeus is the real one? Et cetera.

Or even better: what if God is real but he doesn’t accept belief based on wagers, only on faith ...

So basically Pascal’s Wager only works if you assume there’s only one God, (the one you’re focused on), and that he accepts Pascal’s Wager as a reasonable way to believe in him.

But there’s no reason to believe in any of that.

BTW, the use of money here is only meant to be illustrative.

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Posted: 26 April 2006 04:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 33 ]
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"Stop it" says Col. Chapman (ret’d), "This is

...very silly.”

[quote author=“dougsmith”]  Pascal’s famous Wager:

then it makes sense to believe in God, since on average you win.


1. So in that case, I’m “the house.”

2. Okay, you’ve convinced me.  I’m willing to convert.  Which major religion has the best dental plan?

Problem with Pascal’s Wager goes back a long way. Why? Because there are many (infinite) different jealous Gods you could believe in. What if you believe in Jehova but Allah is the real God? Or if you believe in Allah but Zeus is the real one? Et cetera.

Or even better: what if God is real but he doesn’t accept belief based on wagers, only on faith ...

So basically Pascal’s Wager only works if you assume there’s only one God, (the one you’re focused on), and that he accepts Pascal’s Wager as a reasonable way to believe in him.

Most of em do assume the former.  And anyone who prays for {material gain/specific results} assumes the latter.  Call ‘em Vegas Christians?

Whoever happens (2b) in Vegas, Prays in Vegas.

Which Sunday gets more prayer action: Easter or SuperBowl?
(I’ll take either side of that bet at 3:2)

Doctor, doctor, I’ve strained my bon mots.

peace out.

B

Proud owner of just one belly button.

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Posted: 24 May 2006 04:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 34 ]
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Yes I must agree with Doug on this matter.

We keep on hearing the “excuse” from agnostics that science cannot rule out the existence of God.

This all depends on how you would define science. As I understand it domain of science is based on a material world. A spiritual world would by definition be a world which is not material and therefore be beyond the scope of science.

God, angels etc would be regarded as part of this spiritual world.

Now either this world exist or it does not, immaterial of science.

Since we are using science as a yardstick to see what exist and what does not exist than no other dimension besides the material world exist. Therefore spiritual world does not exist and God cannot exist.

However if you use religion as a standard for claiming what exist or does not exist than you would arrive at a different conclusion.

Since agnostics claim to use science as their standard to arrive at a conclusion that “they do not know”, I think it is here they have a fatal flaw in their argument.

Sounds confusing but it makes sense to me! rolleyes

Fayzal Mahamed.
Johannesburg, South Africa.

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Posted: 25 September 2006 09:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 35 ]
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Fellow skeptics, do you see it good form to use the terms Buy-bull and Sky Pixie.Some find it insulting, but since I contemn the Bible and Yahwe, I see no real insult, just a means to demystify the terms.

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 27 September 2006 02:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 36 ]
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[quote author=“GRIGGSY”]Fellow skeptics, do you see it good form to use the terms Buy-bull and Sky Pixie.Some find it insulting, but since I contemn the Bible and Yahwe, I see no real insult, just a means to demystify the terms.

Well, I wouldn’t use those terms because they automatically put the Christian on the alert that you don’t mind making fun of his deeply held beliefs.  But if it’s your style, go right ahead, Griggsy.

(Yes, I am the Advocatus you know from Augusta.)

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Posted: 28 September 2006 07:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 37 ]
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Hello ,Advocatus! I am all over the place now ! I have trouble with those theists who rathpt than tell me where I might be wrong, just say those are your assumptions and use circular reasoning.  :idea:  :?:  :wink:

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 05 October 2006 02:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 38 ]
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I maintain that absence of evidence is evidence of absence concerning a god ,because all the proofs we have refuted and none will ever succeed, so this is not an argument from ignorance.Of course , others think we haven’t and won’t.  :?:  :?:

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Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism.He might be wrong!His cognitive defects might impact his posting. Logic is the bane of theists.‘Religion is mythinformation.“Reason saves, not that fanatic Galilean!
  ’ Life is its own validation and reward and ultimate purpose.”

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Posted: 18 June 2007 02:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 39 ]
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I think calling yourself an agnostic shows a poor and unreasonable understanding of truth and I refer you to the truth discussion in the philosophy section.  The original poster was right in saying that it makes God a special case.

If you were to tell me that my car was a walrus, I wouldn’t hesitate in saying “That’s a bunch of crap!”  If you handed me a bunch of crap about Gods, I would say the exact same thing.  Now I can’t prove beyond unreasonable doubt that I’m right in either case, but any doubt you would have about the truth of my answer would be damned unreasonable.

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Posted: 18 June 2007 10:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 40 ]
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To repeat the story I listed in my intro:  I decided being an agnostic was the more reasonable stance when I was thirteen.  A few years later my girlfriend (much brighter than I) asked If I believed in Santa Claus.  “No.”  “The Tooth Fairy?”  “No.”  “The Easter Bunny?”  “No.”  “God?”  “You know I’m an agnostic.”  “Then why aren’t you an agnostic about Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny? 

I’m not an anti-theist (the meaning theists give to atheists).  Rather, I’m a non-theist because I cannot see any evidence that such a concept contributes anything to my environment or my behavior.

Occam

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Posted: 19 June 2007 10:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 41 ]
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Well, not that I want to have this argument again, but I think whether one chooses to call oneself agnostic or atheist has something to do with how one feels about labels in general and the associations of those in particular, and about how one defines God. This has been discussed ad nauseum in the Can you Choose Atheism thread and many others, so you can browse through those if you are interested in specific points. God and Santa Calus are not the same thing, so assuming that only an idiot would be atheist about one and agnostic about the other is a mistake. And saying “calling yourself an agnostic shows a poor and unreasonable understanding of truth” is arrogant and closes off discussion by assuming anyone who doesn’t agree with you is just being stupid.

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Posted: 19 June 2007 04:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 42 ]
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I don’t assume that someone who disagrees with me is just being stupid.  There may be all kids of reasons for it such as being uninformed, ill-educated… okay, only kidding.  Only partly, however.  You see, the whole idea of truth and a vast array of theories about truth exist - it’s a very esoteric area.  It is not arrogant do accept that a lot of very good points have been made and careful studies and experiments performed to discern it’s character and that a lot of people have (rather sensibly, in my view) neither read nor heard of most of them.  I rarely read anything, although I’m starting to do so now, but amongst the things I have read (or, more often, watched the tv programs) about is an awful lot on philosophies regarding truth.  My arrogance comes in to play when I disagree that agnostics doubt is reasonable, and where I get that from is my arrogant notion that it serves no practical purpose and doesn’t change the fact that they are to all intents and purposes not theists.  Or actually that they aren’t theists at all (of which I’m marginally less certain but not to the extent that it puts it out of my truth conditions).

On an almost tangential note, I once saw in (what I’d consider the most biased newspaper in Britain in terms of reporting) The Guardian, the results of a poll that asked “Would you have invaded Iraq?”.  There were a couple of ayes, a fair few nays and a vast number of don’t knows.  Okay, so these people could argue that “If I was the president I would have had all the information (given to him from his friend God), whereas I’m not so I don’t.”  That’s not what the question asked.  And yes they do know if they would have invaded Iraq or not.  And if they were sitting there procrastinating like that, the answer is no.  Sometimes I just want to shake the whole world by its lapels and say “Pull yourself together, man!”

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Posted: 20 June 2007 04:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 43 ]
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Ok, if you’re not sure whether you don’t believe or not, here’s what you can do.  It’s called the Unbeliever Test of St Narwhol the righteous.

Here’s watcha do:

Sit round a table with some fellow agnostics and upturn a glass
All hold hands
Ask the spirit if he is there.
Have a bit of a giggle about it when nothing happens.
Do the voice. (Very important this bit)
In the voice, say “Oh spirit, if you are there, make your presence known by…
Dramatic pause.
“... Killing one of those here present, TONIGHT!”

Count the ones who stay at the table and calculate your Unbeliever and Believer scores.
Simple.

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Posted: 20 June 2007 05:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 44 ]
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As much fun as that sounds, it partakes of the usual mistake people make when assuming agnostics are just atheists with low self-confidence: that the only definition of god in which we can choose to believe or not is the traditional Christian one. Just because I don’t believe old Gray Beard is up there waiting to strike me down for not believing in him doesn’t mean that I automatically have to accept absolute atheism. Atheists appear to suffer as much as theists from a lack of imagination about the universe. Could something (force, entity, whatever) exist outside of nature as we understand it that I can’t even conceive of much less have an opinion about? Sure, why not? My dog will never understand algebra or the circulatory system, but they exist anyway. We humans, especially those of us fond of reason and science, keep forgetting we have our own innate cognitive limitations, and the universe doesn’t have to accomodate them. So I’ll stick with agnostic, even though I have to keep explaining to theists and atheists (who seem the more pissed off about it of the two groups) that it doesn’t mean I believe in Santa, Easter Bunny, Yaweh, etc.

[ Edited: 20 June 2007 05:07 PM by mckenzievmd ]
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Posted: 20 June 2007 06:49 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 45 ]
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Actually, I think I understand Brennon.  He doesn’t believe in the Christian God, but to him, that doesn’t necessarily mean there is no god.  He just doesn’t know what it is, IF there is one.

As for your test Narwhol, no insult intended, but it seems the silly thing possible by way of a test.  I don’t see how that can make one a believer or non-believer.  I seriously doubt it would work for either agnostics or Christians to make them non-believers.

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“Sometimes in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.” ~ Iris Hineman (Lois Smith) The Minority Report

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