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Will the real Atheists please stand up

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posted on Jan, 20 2011 @ 08:22 PM
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For those who differentiate between knowledge and belief as two finite concepts, rather than the former just being an extension of the latter, then we still haven't got past the stumbling block of a term that you'd call someone who ''knows'' that God exists.

If we separate knowledge and belief, and therefore put ''agnostic'' into one compartment and theism/atheism into the other, then there must be some term that differentiates between someone who believes in God ( theist ), and someone who ''knows'' that there's a God ( ? ).

The fact that a person that ''knows'' that God exists is also referred to as a theist, proves that any difference between ''knowledge'' and ''belief'' is moot, and largely irrelevant to the terminology that is applicable in this subject.

Therefore, ''agnosticism'' is the best term to describe people who would personally define themselves as ''atheist'', as ''agnosticisim'' is the belief that the existence of God or gods in unknown or unkonowable, and the position takes the logical ground of not favouring one position or the other, rather than ''atheism'', that favours the non-existence of God.




posted on Jan, 21 2011 @ 01:16 AM
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Thought I would comment on the video below, which I personally found to be very condescending and judgmental.





(0.31) It’s often demanded of us, that for a given state X, we must arrive at a belief


The guy in the youtube video, repeatedly makes phrases throughout the video, like “demanded” and “we must arrive at a belief”. As if he is being backed into a corner, by militant Theists or something.

His above statement simply isn’t true, no one is forced to believe in anything they don’t want to, and more importantly, the idea that a person must belief X is ridiculous, because the position of Agnosticism is well known and available to anyone.



(1.08) …people form false and superficial beliefs all the time…


This may well be true but it’s painting a rather negative and condescending view of belief. People can equally believe in things that are true and beneficial as well.

(1.49)
He keeps repeating the idea of theists, demanding that someone believe something exists or doesn’t exist. This is completely misrepresentative of theists overall. And once again, Agnosticism is clearly on the table, for those who don’t wish to commit.



(1.56) Agnosticism isn’t about belief it concerns knowledge


Again this common argument about Agnosticism being about knowledge and not belief. But the problem is, that the original definition of Agnosticism, was a complete answer in itself, to a question of, “do you believe in X?”



(3.05) No procedure available to us could reliably establish the existence or non-existence of such an unscientific entity


This is assuming that God is beyond the realms of science, which is an assumption and a belief in itself. And as I mentioned on another thread recently, believing in God, is not about having complete proof of his existence, it’s about trying to make a decision, based on some degree of knowledge.


(3.31)
The speaker misunderstands the meaning of the word worship from the Christian perspective.



(4.20) Pretending that those who lack your belief also have a faith based position demand much less intellectual discipline than facing up to the burden of proof you give yourself, when you insist others believe as you do


Again another condescending statement. The speaker seems to think the whole world is forcing him to come to a belief, which is simply not the case.

And in the context of my thread, in which I defined God as the creator of the universe, and the fact that it cannot be proven either way, what caused creation, or the Big Bang. Then the so-called burden of proof is mutually applicable and therefore applies to both groups.



(5.05)…Rocks and dogs as Atheists…


This part of the video lasts for about a minute, and all the guy does, is try to paint all believers, as delusional idiots.




(6.42) I reject theistic claims…I worked out as a child that if there were any Gods, none of them were bothered about using their supposedly awesome powers to provide direct dramatic evidence for their existence…


Jesus!!!

And again another condescending and arrogant statement. As if he decided when he was a child, rather than waiting until he had more evidence as an adult.


(8.01)
As for this part of the video, I personally don’t condone any ill treatment of any particular group.


(8.46)
At this point in the video, he goes on to talk about child abuse, branding as witches, stoning to death and gay executions.

But if people followed Gods commandments, then none of the above would even be happening.


(9.00)
He then goes on to say how the above atrocities have all been done in the name of an entity i.e. God

Again this is totally misrepresentative of all religions or groups of people.

And the irritating thing is, is that the God that I believe in, taught men from the very beginning, not to do those things.


- JC



posted on Jan, 21 2011 @ 03:41 AM
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Lol, a British accent and an authoritative tone do not make someone an arbiter of truth.

Sherlock


then we still haven't got past the stumbling block of a term that you'd call someone who ''knows'' that God exists.

If you want to make the distinction, then knowing theist would seem to work.

The stumbling block is that "Is there a God?" and "How confident are you of your answer?" are two questions, not one. And they have enough indpendence that the first can be asked without asking the second, and so there must be a way to answer the first and not answer the second when it is not asked.

Thomas Huxley stumbled upon a solution. The English speaking world adopted his solution.

Speaking personally, I am rarely interested in how confident someone claims to be in their answer to a contingent question. If I am interested, then I will ask. They may also volunteer their confidence unbidden, which is fine, as long as they answer my question, the one I did ask.

And since there is no operational way to distinguish between someone else's firm belief and someone else's knowledge, I will make do without that distinction.

In any case, any need for a term can be fulfilled by a noun phrase. Had agnostic never been coined, then people like me would have soldiered on with the core concept stated in as many words, neither theist nor atheist nor naive.


Therefore, ''agnosticism'' is the best term to describe people who would personally define themselves as ''atheist'', as ''agnosticisim'' is the belief that the existence of God or gods in unknown or unkonowable, and the position takes the logical ground of not favouring one position or the other, rather than ''atheism'', that favours the non-existence of God.

One problem is that the term has already been in widespread use, for a long time, in the domain of religious thought. That is fatal to its incompatible use in the same domain. Closely related is that the term has always meant not atheist.

Another problem is that agnosticism is a noncredal religion. We are not obliged to accept your dictates about our beliefs. As an agnostic, I am at liberty to "favor" god claims or godlessness claims, short of assenting to them, just as I may believe that the Boston Celtics are the most likely contender to win the 2011 NBA championship, without believing that the Celtics will win.

In my view, the chief problem addressed in the OP is that atheists have sometimes adopted the term agnostic for false flag operations. And, although the poster cannot be expected to care as much about this as I do, some atheists adopt agnostic coloration to deny that authentic agnostics exist.

Joe

Yes, much of what the video asserts is just silly.

The analogy to the trial backfires, in my view. A jury's job includes assessing the quality of witness' testimony, not simply taking at face value whatever they are spoon fed.

Q. Do you believe that no god exists?

A. Oh, no. I am not an atheist, not a strong atheist, anyway, as we word-contortionists say. Why, that isn't even what atheist means. Oh, no. I just keep an open mind, and I haven't been persuaded by any god claim I've heard. Persuaded yet, I meant to add. Sorry to have sounded strident there. But who's to say really? Not I, surely.

Ah, the jury thinks, an agnostic, then.

Q. Which belief, in your view, is more credible? "Santa Claus exists" or "Some god exists."

A. Well, I don't believe in either, of course. But I'd have to go with Santa Claus. At least there are all those presents, year after year, right on time. Better some evidence than none at all.

Unless the jurors are asleep, they have figured out that the witness was being less than candid about his actual views. If words have meaning, then he believes that there is no god, because he sure as hell is not telling us that he doesn't firmly believe that Santa Claus doesn't exist.

Human psychology being what it is, it is entirely possible that the witness believes his own shinola-substitute, and believes that it is shinola rather the alternative. That is no reason for the jury to believe it.



posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 06:14 PM
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Originally posted by eight bits
If you want to make the distinction, then knowing theist would seem to work.


That doesn't make sense if there is a distinction being made, as the belief element that is implied in the word ''theist'' is redundant and inaccurate, as the person who holds this position ''knows'' of the existence of God.

The problem here is that some people are trying to make a difference between theism/atheism and agnosticism, on account that one is defining belief/disbelief, while the other pertains to knowledge.

The stumbling block they have encountered with separating belief and knowledge into two separate concepts, rather than the latter being an extension of the former, is that there is no way to differentiate knowledge/belief in the terms that are applied:

Someone who believes in God = theist

Someone who knows that God exists = theist

Someone who doesn't believe in God = atheist

Someone who know that God doesn't exist = atheist


As the term for someone who knows that God exists/doesn't exist relates to belief, then it makes any distinction not only moot, but very dubious on the grounds of intellectual integrity.



Originally posted by eight bits
The stumbling block is that "Is there a God?" and "How confident are you of your answer?" are two questions, not one. And they have enough indpendence that the first can be asked without asking the second, and so there must be a way to answer the first and not answer the second when it is not asked.


The first question can be answered in three basic ways:

''Yes'', ''no'', or ''I don't know''. An atheist with a passive disbelief would answer: ''I don't know''.

Just saying ''I'm an atheist'' does not answer the first question accurately, especially as most people will say: ''I'm a Christian/Muslim/deist/atheist/agnostic etc.'' without being posed a direct question on the existence or not of God.

The statement is usually offered to define their overall position on the general subject matter, and ''atheist'' is just too hazy and ambiguous a term to accurately convey their stance.

This is why I believe that many atheists define themselves in such a way - knowing that the term has multiple meanings - with the intention of expressing an active disbelief, while having the passive disbelief definition to fall back on when challenged.

This is intellectual dishonesty.



Originally posted by eight bits
Speaking personally, I am rarely interested in how confident someone claims to be in their answer to a contingent question. If I am interested, then I will ask. They may also volunteer their confidence unbidden, which is fine, as long as they answer my question, the one I did ask.


This may be true of a deeper, philosophical discussion, but the point is that these terms are volunteered by people to label themselves and a statement of their view on the matter.

If you ask someone a question: ''Do you believe in God ?'', and they answer ''no'', then this is not synonymous with them saying ''I'm an atheist''.

There's a clear difference between someone giving off an answer to a specific question that is addressed towards them, and someone making a statement through their own volition.


I mean, if I lose my keys, and I ask someone if they think I left them in the living room, what would be the worst reply out of these ?

''They might be'', ''I don't know'', ''I'm not sure'', ''they're definitely not'', ''I think they are'', ''I know they're here'', or, ''I have an absence of belief in your keys being in the living room''.

Clearly, the last reply is suitably vague and uninformative, and renders it the most useless and ambiguous reply to the original question.



Originally posted by eight bits
And since there is no operational way to distinguish between someone else's firm belief and someone else's knowledge, I will make do without that distinction.

In any case, any need for a term can be fulfilled by a noun phrase. Had agnostic never been coined, then people like me would have soldiered on with the core concept stated in as many words, neither theist nor atheist nor naive.


We're certainly in agreement here.

The difference between knowledge and belief is a subjective, immeasurable, and unprovable difference, thereby making two people's personal distinguishment between the two concepts effectively incomparable.

The fact is that most passive atheists are actually agnostic, yet many choose to identify themselves as ''atheist'', rather than the more logical description of their standpoint. This is why I''m highly dubious of their motivations in defining themselves in this way...



Originally posted by eight bits
One problem is that the term has already been in widespread use, for a long time, in the domain of religious thought. That is fatal to its incompatible use in the same domain. Closely related is that the term has always meant not atheist.


Aye, but words and terms change over time.

As I mentioned earlier, if I said: ''I'm gay'', how would people interpret that ? Even so I was expressing the fact that I was feeling jolly and carefree - an equally valid use of the word - I'd have to be extremely ignorant or naive to assume that people would have interpreted my statement to mean that !

Similarly, terms such as atheism and agnosticism have more than one meaning, but ''atheism'' is a very hazy term due to its dual meaning and usage. You have to second-guess the position of everybody who defines themselves in that way.

''Agnosticism'' is, more often than not, understood to mean someone who sits on the fence on the issue and does not adhere to either side of the discussion.



Originally posted by eight bits
Another problem is that agnosticism is a noncredal religion. We are not obliged to accept your dictates about our beliefs. As an agnostic, I am at liberty to "favor" god claims or godlessness claims, short of assenting to them, just as I may believe that the Boston Celtics are the most likely contender to win the 2011 NBA championship, without believing that the Celtics will win.


That's the beauty of agnosticism, though. Not only - from a traditional logic point of view - is it the most logical position to hold, but it also leads to us ( humans ) utilising our creative potential and open-mindedness, without any lashings of ''guilt'' at entertaining and harbouring possibilities that may fall outside the boxes that others have willingly leapt into in their positions of self-imposed confinement.

One day, you can explore the possibilities of a world where materialistic nihilism rules the day, while the next, you can be in tune with a pantheistic ideal where positive/negative actions have a direct impact on life, other than merely on a mundane or prosaic level.



Originally posted by eight bits
In my view, the chief problem addressed in the OP is that atheists have sometimes adopted the term agnostic for false flag operations. And, although the poster cannot be expected to care as much about this as I do, some atheists adopt agnostic coloration to deny that authentic agnostics exist.


Again, I agree with you here.

I might have been slightly off with the OP's initial intent, as the problem that I initially brought up and discussed, was mainly with those who declare themselves as ''atheist'', yet do so to convey an active disbelief while using the ambiguity of the term to hide behind the more ''PC'' definition of the term.



posted on Feb, 13 2011 @ 07:22 PM
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The point where I stopped watching was about 4 minutes in, where it became apparent that the guy in the video wasn't looking for an objective, critical, and philosophical appraisal of the subject, but was, instead, a ''militant atheist'' preaching his beliefs, while at the same time, attempting to belittle people of opposing views.


The fact that this dude thinks his personal definition of a word overrides that of the OED, Merriam-Webster, and ''otherwise respectable dictionaries'' LOL, shows him to be extremely arrogant and/or delusional.


It's incredible how many ATSers will post up a video of some random dude on YouTube, as if YouTube somehow makes the unfettered claims inside someone's video any more accurate, relevant, important, or believable.

It's a YouTube video, people ! Critical thinking needs to be applied at all times ! It just worries me how many people will bow to ''authority'' in this way ( ''authority'' being YouTube's status on the internet, in this case
).



Originally posted by Joecroft

(0.31) It’s often demanded of us, that for a given state X, we must arrive at a belief

His above statement simply isn’t true, no one is forced to believe in anything they don’t want to, and more importantly, the idea that a person must belief X is ridiculous, because the position of Agnosticism is well known and available to anyone.


He rather hung himself on his own petard, here.

He's attempting to argue a logical, objective position for atheism, yet he is using more extreme arguments from opposing sides to justify the point he's making.

Anybody ''demanding'' that an atheist arrives at a belief is clearly someone with a more ''robust'' viewpoint on the matter.

So why, on one hand, is he seeking people to understand his alleged non-partial version of atheism, while cherry-picking less logical positions against the view he is offering ?



Originally posted by Joecroft

(1.08) …people form false and superficial beliefs all the time…

This may well be true but it’s painting a rather negative and condescending view of belief. People can equally believe in things that are true and beneficial as well.


It's a bit of a fallacy that he's offering here, as well.

Just because we form beliefs all the time, and some of these beliefs later turn out to be false, doesn't mean that one belief is any more or less likely to be true.

Anything and everything we believe may be false, and are usually superficial ( how many times do people actually do the experiment/make the observation that would support their belief in a scientific theory ? ).

The Earth may be shown to be flat tomorrow, which would make belief in a spherical Earth to be ''false and superficial''.


Ultimately, nothing is false until we personally decide it is, thus making any claims on the likelihood ( or not ) of any belief to be completely pointless and ridiculous.



Originally posted by Joecroft

(1.56) Agnosticism isn’t about belief it concerns knowledge

Again this common argument about Agnosticism being about knowledge and not belief. But the problem is, that the original definition of Agnosticism, was a complete answer in itself, to a question of, “do you believe in X?”


This is an argument used by atheists who want to convey their active disbelief, yet hide behind a passive disbelief when questioned about their position.

Those who have a genuine passive disbelief would define themselves as ''agnostic''.



Originally posted by Joecroft

(3.05) No procedure available to us could reliably establish the existence or non-existence of such an unscientific entity

This is assuming that God is beyond the realms of science, which is an assumption and a belief in itself.


He is making a completely unscientific statement which is based upon his own personal conjecture.

For him to use that point in a video purportedly decrying belief is deliciously ironic.



Originally posted by Joecroft

(5.05)…Rocks and dogs as Atheists…


This part of the video lasts for about a minute, and all the guy does, is try to paint all believers, as delusional idiots.


LOL.

I said that I watched it for about 4 minutes, but now I remember this is where I initially switched off, desperately seeking a refund on the 5 minutes of my life I had needlessly spent !


While rocks being atheists goes a bit far ( as - to our knowledge - they have no capacity for any conscious thought ), it is perfectly acceptable to use dogs as an example.

Bearing in mind, that babies have an ''absence of belief in God'', which, according to many atheists, constitutes them being defined as ''atheist''.

Considering that dogs probably have a greater mental capacity than a new-born baby, then this definition for dogs seems perfectly reasonable.

The only presumption here, is that dogs don't have their own belief systems.


So, either dogs are atheists, ''an absence of belief in God or gods'', or it's accepted that the position of atheism is formed once the initial positive claim has been rejected, thus making atheism a position every bit as based on belief as theism is.











edit on 13-2-2011 by Sherlock Holmes because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 03:00 AM
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reply to post by Joecroft
 


Wow, that was a really bad critique. Seriously, you did a bad job. You did nothing to refute the statements made or the general idea, merely threw out some meaningless objections to phrasing. I mean, if he says "It is often" then "demanded" loses the "oomph".

TheraminTrees and QualiaSoup made a great video and not addressing it in its entirety and instead treating it as if it were not a coherent work is not only demeaning but telling of your own bias, especially with how you're reading into it.



posted on Feb, 14 2011 @ 06:31 AM
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Sherlock


The problem here is that some people are trying to make a difference between theism/atheism and agnosticism, on account that one is defining belief/disbelief, while the other pertains to knowledge.

Nobody actually knows, so everybody would be agnostic under this revelation. "Everybody is agnostic" is a backdoor way to try to justify some atheists' fantasy that there is no untheist alternative to their viewpoint. Too bad. The back door's locked, too.

Personally, I see no "intellectual integrity" issue in taking knowledge that or knowledge that not as the limiting cases of belief whether. If someone is uncomfortable with the term atheist, for any reason, then by all means they needn't use it to describe themselves.

What I object to is their using another term, like agnostic or Roman Catholic, which already has an established meaning in the context of religious belief and which is incompatible with believing that there is no god.


Clearly, the last reply is suitably vague and uninformative, and renders it the most useless and ambiguous reply to the original question.

Clearly? Apart from its awkward phrasing, how is the last answer less useful in organizing search given that it reflects the information actually available? The living room should be included in the search, but cannot be given special priority. Sounds like a plan.


Aye, but words and terms change over time.

Which is not an argument for misusing the word while you're waiting for its meaning to change. First, you could be waiting a long time. Second, you might be surprised by what it ends up meaning, as Huxley maybe was, and his contemporaries who used gay surely would have been. Third, but not least, nobody will know what you are talking about, which defeats the point of using words in the first place.


''Agnosticism'' is, more often than not, understood to mean someone who sits on the fence on the issue ...

Religious bigots say all kinds of things about members of other religions. More often than not, agnostic means someone who has examined the evidence about god claims and believes that theists and atheists alike have reached conclusions more categorical than the facts warrant.

In other words, the bigots may take their fence and place it where it doesn't show.


That's the beauty of agnosticism, though. Not only - from a traditional logic point of view - is it the most logical position to hold, ...

No. I do not indulge in reverse bigotry. Logic does not distinguish among the possible answers to the question "Does any god exist?" Any of the three responsive answers is admissible.



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