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Is negative atheism an intellectually untenable position?

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posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 06:41 PM
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I am a member of an ill-health forum which happens to have a spirituality section. The website has been very quiet for over a year and this question was brought up but had very few challenges. The member who posted the question has not been online in over 2 months so may be ill or lost interest.

It is a shame as the statements this individual made niggled me for weeks and then I realised it was due to all the arguments actually making sense to me. I have alternated between atheism and theism during my life but have never followed scripture.

I would like to share some of these statements/arguments in my own words although ATS T&Cs prevent me posting a direct link to another forum. I have stated they are not my own and I will not directly quote so I am not plagiarising. I did post a link to ATS in the thread so the individual may be a member now. If they are I hope they come forward and contribute.

For the record this is not a religion versus atheism thread. It is about negative atheism being an intellectually untenable position. Creationism is mentioned solely to demonstrate this. Evolutionists could use their own arguments to show positive atheism as intellectually tenable.

Positive-Theist: I know there is a god.
Negative-Theist: I won't pretend to know, but I believe there is a god.
Negative-Atheist: I lack a belief in gods.
Positive-Atheist: I know there are no gods.
Anti-theism: (positive atheists who also oppose religion).

eg
If you don't believe in an intelligent design behind the universe then you believe there was a non intelligent cause for the universe. This is a belief system (positive atheism).

Argument 1

With regard to intergalactic warlords or the flying spaghetti monster (FSM), most people have a rational (philosophy/probability based) 'positive belief' that they don't exist (ie not a lack of belief). If you have a positive belief that these do not exist then you should also have a positive belief that there is no intelligent design behind the universe.

Scientific methodology is unable to verify the existence or non-existence of the FSM (or any non observable object). Most rational/logical people will recognise this and use good philosophical rational arguments to develop a positive belief that the FSM does not exist. A negative atheist does not use rational or logical thought. They renege from the issue and demand empirical evidence, despite the above being clearly applicable and sufficient to have a positive belief.

Argument 2

Belief does not have to be based on blind faith. It can also be based on logic, rationality, probability, evidences etc An example would be a jury who find somebody guilty of murder. They may ‘believe’ the person is guilty but they cannot prove it beyond any doubt. They can accept philosophical argument e.g. finding a motive. They can accept evidence eg finding the offenders fingerprints on a weapon. They can infer probability.

In other words the jury have no clear indisputable evidence but can employ philosophy, logic and evidence to base their belief on. This is not the same as simply having faith, rather faith based on intellectual and convincing grounds. If the accused stated he was framed, the same methods can be used to arrive at the belief that he is either telling the truth or not telling the truth.

As mentioned in Argument 1 we choose not to believe in the flying spaghetti monster based on the case for and against it (similar to a jury). From this we can establish that the problem is not having a belief but rather how you arrive at your beliefs and what your evidences are. This will determine the viability of your beliefs.

Argument 3

Some negative atheists say ‘I follow what the scientists say’ or ‘scientists say "....."’. These individuals tend to have no idea what science really says. Science is an effective tool to explain natural mechanisms occurring in the natural world but it cannot test the non-observable world. Physicists state that both time and space had a starting point and everything consequently came into existence. What scientists have discovered so far have been inside the realm of time and space, they do nothing to explain what happened prior to this.

To observe something existing outside time and space is by definition illogical as the scientific methodology is inside time and space. This suggests that science cannot be relied upon to explain this. Instead we have to use other methods such as philosophical, logical, mathematical propositions etc in arriving at your beliefs.

Argument 4

Negative atheism is a totally unnatural position to have.

If I said a flying elephant is about to come into the room and kill you, do you:

a) run for cover?
b) say you have a lack of belief on the matter and demand evidence?
c) dismiss it as some ridiculous idea based on philosophy, probability etc

The obvious position is C. Note the methodology used (also used by negative atheists) to arrive at this belief. If the evidence for the flying elephant is equivalent to the evidence for a designer creator then we would expect a negative atheist to disbelieve in an intelligent cause for the universe rather than have a lack of belief on the matter. Their claims and behaviours suggest otherwise so one wonders if they really have a lack of belief to begin with or are just in a state of denial. The double standards is clear.

It is a fallacy that negative atheists say that 'there is no evidence for a designer creator' and therefore have a lack of belief. It is much better to say I 'believe' there is no evidence for a designer creator (positive atheism) which is an intellectually tenable position.

The evidences are all around them and yet negative atheists choose not to acknowledge it, are in denial or/and have ridiculous expectations about what constitutes evidence. Moreover the whole 'lack of belief' approach, is not something which science validated for them, rather it's a philosophical approach created by themselves.

Conclusion

If anything these arguments have made me question my own position. Of course everyone has the right to their own beliefs but in discussion it is the vigour of arguments/evidences that matters and I believe negative atheism does not have these arguments/evidences. When it comes down to negative atheists voicing their 'lack of belief' and demanding proof, I do not think it is an intellectually tenable position to start a discussion from. It is far better to research/critique belief eg positive atheism, positive theism and adopt the one you believe has the best evidences.




posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 06:50 PM
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I have always felt that the purely logical position is Agnosticism which I suppose isn't really represented on your scale. It makes sense to question the existence of God without ruling it out because their is no direct evidence either way, although, there is empirical evidence to suggest the existence of God.

I believe there is something to the phrase "where there's smoke there's fire" as well as Cicero's assertion that “Nature herself has imprinted on the minds of all the idea of God”.



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 07:08 PM
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a reply to: Metallicus

That's where a formerly atheist friend of ours wound up - agnosticism. He said he finally realized that if his main reason for being atheist was that you could not prove the existence of deity making faith irrational in his view, then it one day occurred to him that you equally could not prove God's lack of existence meaning he was a hypocrite because his atheism required just as much faith to believe.

So he become agnostic to reconcile that.



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 07:08 PM
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Creation. Why is it always assumed that it would be a God who created?
Why not creation without a god?



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 07:16 PM
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"Keep It Simple Stupid".

I have heard so many convoluted philosophical arguments from both sides of this debate telling me what I can/can't believe, or lack belief in, that I'm fed up with them. The more complicated the argument becomes, the less I listen.

I could care less that someone thinks my position is untenable any more. I'm open to reason, but the moment you try baffle me with B######t, as the old saying goes. I'm done. There are no gods/goddesses. They are strictly a human concept.
edit on 12/1/2015 by Klassified because: forgot quotes



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 07:16 PM
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a reply to: deliberator

A pinch of this a pinch of that sprinkled with a little something or another, watered, cooked over a fire, blown through the wind and ending up in the dirt...



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 07:19 PM
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a reply to: Metallicus

Some academics refer to positive theism/atheism as gnostic (with knowledge) and negative theism/atheism as agnostic (without knowledge). I think the 'agnostic' general term refers to negative (agnostic) theism.



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 07:50 PM
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a reply to: Klassified




"Keep It Simple Stupid".


They are fairly simple arguments. I don't think a high IQ is required to comprehend them.

My initial response was similar to yours. It made me angry and very defensive. A few weeks later when I had calmed down from constant niggles, I reread and digested the arguments and they actually made sense. I went back and posted an apology.

Of course intelligent design and non-intelligent design of the universe are both faith based (there is no direct proof either way) but that does not mean they have to be based on blind faith.

I don't think the arguments force you to believe anything. As I stated, everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. It relates mainly to negative atheists standing on a pedestal stating 'lack of belief' is the normal position to adopt and every other position is somehow inferior. The arguments I posted, in my opinion, discount this .






edit on 1-12-2015 by deliberator because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 07:51 PM
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A WILD BAIT THREAD HAS APPEARED!



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 08:07 PM
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a reply to: ketsuko

Your friend is very admirable in the sense that he challenged his own thinking/stance (isn't this the purpose of growth?). I have met so many people who have a rigid belief in something and are impervious to any rational thinking or further knowledge. They voice these bigoted views and then get upset when someone challenges them intellectually.


edit on 1-12-2015 by deliberator because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 09:21 PM
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a reply to: deliberator




An example would be a jury who find somebody guilty of murder.


What constitutes as scientific evidence is not equatable to evidence in a court room.
With any hypothesis yes you start of with an assumption, to hold that assumption without putting it to the test and providing (scientific) evidence makes it a belief. To make the claim that negative atheism or atheistic "beliefs" as a whole are beliefs equatable to theistic beliefs is fallacious. It implies people are willfully refusing to put their assumption on the God hypothesis to the test and refusing to provide the evidence to support their assertions.

Those who believe in Jesus are more than likely atheistic towards Zeus, their refusal to provide evidence for Jesus's existence and refusal to accept the probability of their inaccuracy is a belief. The burden of proof is on them.

Some one who refuses to accept that a world was intelligently designed by any of the deities in human history and has provided evidence for an alternative explanation that holds up against Scrutiny and is repeatable by anybody is not a belief.

Dealing with ideas in the abstract is the best way we can currently conceptualize whether time and space exist beyond our universe. I would like to think something exist out beyond our universe far beyond our current comprehension of reality but that's a personal belief I have. I think we'll develop new ways to accurately measure the reality in which we all share. Right now most people should just accept we don't know and should attempt to develop "outside-the-box" thinking in order to better assess our explanations of the universe.
edit on 1-12-2015 by NateTheAnimator because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 1 2015 @ 09:27 PM
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a reply to: deliberator
I'm neither angry nor defensive. Just being straightforward. No offense intended. The "kiss" reference wasn't aimed directly at you. It was generally aimed at all the philosophizing surrounding the god/no god debate. For me, after much study, the most logical stance is what I stated. There are no deities. For you, it is a middle ground, and for Ketsy above, there is a god that can be personally known. I'm fine with all three. It isn't a belief in deities that bothers me per se. It's the religions and their doctrines that have been formed by the minds of men around those deities, told as "truth", and forced on others that is my point of contention. But that's another thread.



posted on Dec, 2 2015 @ 12:03 AM
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I consider myself an agnostic atheist.

It would be foolish for me to say absolutely, there are no gods or there isn't a God. However, I am of the firm belief that specific gods do not exist. For me, the notion of this god or that god can be easily dismissed. And dismiss them I do. It is interesting to me how people like to say, "well you can't prove or disprove God". A statement I absolutely disagree with, if they are talking about a specific god and not a general concept of there being "something more".

There may be reasons to believe there is "something more". But I find that people's ideas of what that is are too limited. Consider all the various belief systems. They can't all have it right? Who is following the correct path? Do all gods exist? Do any of them exist? The entire concept of gods or a God, is subjective. It's all opinion. There is very little consistency, even within specific religions.

In fact the only thing I find consistent is the lack of consistency. While it suggests to me there may be "something more", it still isn't very encouraging to me. Whatever that "something more" may be, is not representative of this religion or that religion. So it cannot be used as evidence or proof of this god or that god. All of the things that make their gods or God who they are comes solely from the interpretations of people. Man created God in his image, not the other way around.

Which leads me to what I would consider God to be, if it exists. Simply part of the foundations of reality. Part of nature, not the creator of it. My thoughts on the subject start to get a bit fuzzy because how the hell are you supposed to define a plausible God? I don't think you can. For most, it is a supernatural concept. For me, the supernatural is merely the yet to be fully understood and comprehended. Nothing can exist outside of the natural world because by existing you are part of the natural order of things.

It is just impossible for us as humans to understand it all. And thus, what is still outside our understanding, sometimes gets attributed to gods, or a God. Just as it has always been. There was a day where sickness was attributed to demons. Not so much anymore, thanks to the inquisitive nature of man.


The only place for God to survive, is in the shadows of ignorance.



posted on Dec, 2 2015 @ 12:32 AM
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originally posted by: deliberator
Positive-Theist: I know there is a god.
Negative-Theist: I won't pretend to know, but I believe there is a god.
Negative-Atheist: I lack a belief in gods.
Positive-Atheist: I know there are no gods.
Anti-theism: (positive atheists who also oppose religion).



Positive Theist and positive Atheist don't exist. Nobody knows either position. It's either belief or no belief. Also if you're going to decide to include Anti-theist then you need to include Anti-Atheist as well.



posted on Dec, 2 2015 @ 01:19 AM
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a reply to: deliberator

Northern European, domestic atheism is not represented in your four arguments. It basically amounts to I don't believe, I don't think about it and I don't care. It's not an intellectual stance that requires conflict with others or even that it has a symbiotic relationship with Theism. It's essentially the living day-today reality of minds that do not even think about God or gods for months or years. It's a status that doesn't seem to travel very well and yet is taken for granted by millions.

I'm an agnostic ftr. By and large, I regard other people's beliefs as theirs to play with as they see fit. I enjoyed reading your OP and found it thoughtful and interesting.



posted on Dec, 2 2015 @ 01:58 AM
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a reply to: deliberator
I'm no longer directly involved in the perennial argument between atheism and agnosticism, but it strikes me now that it's not an argument about different positions at all. Haven't you just got two people holding roughly the same position arguing over which is the more accurate label for it?

The last time I was involved it went like this;


In the early hours of this morning (and resuming this afternoon) Malcolm and I created the new science of Mathematical Theology, or rather Theological Mathematics. It followed on from the argument we had after the last party. He’s been talking to someone in Somerville called Nicky, and they came to the conclusion that religious faith could be expressed as a circle. Taking agnosticism as a fixed point, Christian faith and atheism went off in opposite directions to meet at the other side of the circle, proving themselves to be the same thing. So I set out to disprove this. I argued that faith was not a circle but a straight line. Since he would turn an infinite line into a circular one, I made it a finite straight line, with absence of faith at one end and maximum faith at the other. But I then made the mistake of introducing complications. Taking into account the different kinds of belief in God, I gave them separate lines, all originating from the “0” fixed point of atheism, and so becoming a cone, which made the figure three-dimensional. “Maximum faith” would then be a circle or circular plane at the other end. The length of the line was arbitrarily fixed at 200 units of faith, because Malcolm had wanted to place agnosticism half-way along as the zero point, and measuring 100 units in each direction, and I wasn’t having that. In fact I got agnosticism off the line altogether by giving it a separate band, hovering detached and equidistant from the surface of the dome. All this was putting areas into the picture. Malcolm then pointed out that human beings are not capable of standing on a point. Therefore nobody could stand exclusively on my point of “Zero faith”, but must extend a little beyond it; therefore nobody could be a pure atheist. This was really cheating, because I had originally meant the lines merely as directions. He questioned the possibility of maximum faith, so I compared it with an egg-cup being full or empty with water. He also attacked the idea that faith was quantifiable, but I retorted that the idea appeared in his circle as well and was inherent in any attempt to portray the question in geometrical terms. As he argued, he was writing to Judith in Manchester, sometimes inserting a running commentary on the discussion (“S has just admitted…”). We argued until about four o’clock in the morning.



posted on Dec, 2 2015 @ 03:53 AM
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a reply to: Klassified

Religion normally hide a lot of hypocrisy and that annoys me when I find it. Also a part of me cannot handle the whole we got a mystery here that we will not logically quantify it because either we are to lazy or do not have a clue to Quantify it and we want you to have faith that we know something. A seeker of objective truth will not stop at faith but until it knows.

My own view is non duality that we are evolving towards and experience the oneness one being at a time.

You can explain synchronicity, energetic body states, telepathic information exchange as quantum effects cause by a quantum probability field controlling what will happen on quantum scale causing entanglement in creation.

Science will one day go where religion feared. If they do not fall into the subjective faith trap and keep pushing for objective truth. Materialism is a subjective faith trap.


edit on 2-12-2015 by LittleByLittle because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 2 2015 @ 04:00 AM
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a reply to: LittleByLittle


A seeker of objective truth will not stop at faith but seek until (he/she) knows.


I like that...


sorry if I corrected it wrong


edit on 2-12-2015 by Akragon because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 2 2015 @ 04:13 AM
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a reply to: Akragon

He/she works perfectly.
.



posted on Dec, 2 2015 @ 05:55 AM
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a reply to: NateTheAnimator

Yes I agree but there is no scientific evidence we can rely on and this maybe the case indefinitely. The jury, in my opinion, is used to demonstrate that we can use other methodologies to arrive at beliefs rather than have blind faith.




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