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Tags agnosticism , agnosticism definitions

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Old 15th May 2018, 06:59 AM   #281
Chanakya

 
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
Wait... why can’t one be “hard-atheist” about Advaitac or certain Zen interpretations of “God?” It is certainly possible to be completely materialistic: I.e. there is no God no matter what characteristics you give such a concept.

I mean you can’t prove or disprove a “universal consciousness” or “oneness” anymore than you can Yahweh. IOW, all interpretations of God have the same ontological problems so “hard atheism” seems just as valid for “universal consciousness” as it does for a more discrete personal God.


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Just to be sure we’re on the same page, let me, at the outset, clearly spell out my understanding of the essential difference between the terms ‘soft atheism’ and ‘hard atheism’ : the soft atheist is someone who simply rejects the theist’s claim about some God-idea (usually because of want of evidence) ; while the hard atheist is someone who actually makes a claim, himself, that some particular God-idea is wrong or non-existent or delusional or whatever.

Both positions are sufficient -- the ‘soft’ one just as much as the ‘hard’ one -- to reject some God idea firmly. But the actual approach taken to do this rejecting is different in these two cases. It is, as I understand it, a question of which side the burden of proof lies.



Now if you come across an idea that there is a Universal Consciousness, unobserved and unobservable, within which every thing we see around us arises and falls : well, then, how on earth can you actually actively disprove such an idea? You can certainly reject this idea very firmly, but you can do that only by saying “You have no evidence for your bizarre ideas.” You cannot yourself produce evidence against this idea. Therefore, you can only be a soft atheist as regards this particular God-idea. Just as it is as a soft atheist that you must reject Russel's invisible teapot. (To repeat, this does not mean that your atheism itself is at all ambiguous in this instance. ‘Soft’ here only refers to the means you have used to reject this idea, it simply describes your grounds for rejecting this idea.)

If, on the other hand, you are presented with a God-idea which posits a God who wields thunder as his weapon, an idea that posits that thunder is nothing but some God flinging his personal arsenal at his Godly adversaries, then sure, you can be a soft atheist, and ask for evidence, and reject the claim when no evidence is forthcoming. But you have the additional option of being able to show how thunder is actually caused, from perfectly natural causes, and show that Gods have nothing to do with it.

(Of course, at this point your interlocutor may attempt to shift the goalposts by trying to say that it is their God that causes those apparently natural phenomena that in turn give rise to thunder, but then this will be a whole new claim, very different from the original God-directly-throwing-bolts-at-other-Gods claim. If they end up, after repeated shifting of goalposts, to a position very close to the Universal Consciuosness, or to some God-in-the-background idea, well then, we fall back on soft atheism to reject these new ideas. And the very fact that our theist interlocutor is needing to repeatedly shift their goalposts, that itself weakens and renders ridiculous their original claim, does it not?)

So, well, that is why I say you can be hard-atheistic (as well as soft-atheistic) when it comes to thunderbolt-wielding-supermen-Gods, while we can only be soft-atheistic when it comes to some Universal Consciousness within which everything rises and falls.

But our atheism remains equally firm and determined in either case!
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Old 15th May 2018, 09:33 PM   #282
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
So, well, that is why I say you can be hard-atheistic (as well as soft-atheistic) when it comes to thunderbolt-wielding-supermen-Gods, while we can only be soft-atheistic when it comes to some Universal Consciousness within which everything rises and falls.
I've enjoyed reading your posts. A couple of points come to mind. It's not clear who the "we" is in the above. If it's we, as humans, then we can certainly be hard-atheists about any gods anyone suggests. But I suspect you're being somewhat Huxley-esque here, with his prescriptive "every man should" (Victorian gentlemen were most thoughtful in not wishing to worry ladies with such intellectual matters) and assuming a shared philosophy in the "we" (perhaps that makes sense on a sceptics' forum).

Which brings me to something that stood out for me in the Huxley quotes.
Originally Posted by Huxley"
Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of great antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, 'Try all things, hold fast by that which is good'; it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him, it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science. Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect, do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable. That I take to be the agnostic faith, which if a man keep whole and undefiled, he shall not be ashamed to look the universe in the face, whatever the future may have in store for him.
...
That it is wrong for a man to say he is certain of the objective truth of a proposition unless he can provide evidence which logically justifies that certainty. This is what agnosticism asserts and in my opinion, is all that is essential to agnosticism.
"Agnostic faith". Now, I'd imagine the meaning of "faith" Huxley would have in mind is that of trust and holding firm (I suspect "belief without evidence" is a more modern take on the word). But even so, I wonder how much the irony is intended - I think it must be - to be strongly affirming the position that faith should be based on reason and evidence, but doing so by invoking authority, not evidence, and then describing that position as "agnostic faith". He's pulling our legs here isn't he?
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Old 15th May 2018, 10:18 PM   #283
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
What’s the point of arguing about the existence of pink unicorns or non-interventionist God? There is absolutely no evidence in either case so there’s nothing to argue about. Those ideas are utterly irrelevant.
There is the same evidence about the pink dragons as there is about God the Father. I mean, none. But people don't want to believe in pink dragons and go crazy for the Heavenly Father. It is a question of marketing, not rationality.
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Old 15th May 2018, 11:08 PM   #284
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I am astonished at your response, David Mo. Not because this kind of response in this kind of a situation is itself necessarily unexpected, but because, basis my limited interactions with you, I had come to expect differently from you.

You had yourself found it fit to initiate a discussion on Huxley’s ideas here. You had also found it fit to continue to speak on Huxley’s ideas subsequently. But now that it has been clearly shown, with clearly documented evidence, that your earlier views were mistaken, now when it is time for you to either defend your claim or to gracefully acknowledge your error, now you suddenly propose that we “(leave) Huxley -- because we would go into a discussion of the history of philosophy that would only entangle us”? Why on earth wouldn’t this same consideration have applied, and kept you from speaking of Huxley, before this clearly documented evidence of your error had been presented?

Also : I don’t see why some very deep or very detailed exploration of the “history of philosophy” is called for here, at all? I have clearly shown in my post # 270, with evidence, what views you had expressed about Huxley’s agnosticism ; I have also clearly shown, again with evidence, what Huxley actually had to say about this ; and I have clearly compared the two, and shown you how what you had said earlier was “substantially” different from Huxley’s actual meaning. We don’t need to delve very deep into philosophy, or into the history of philosophy, in order to be able to discuss that single post of mine, or to acknowledge the obvious conclusion that post points us towards, do we?

You saw fit, earlier, to say that the agnostic is sometimes “similar (to being cowardly)”. Are we perhaps in the presence of something even more similar to the quality that that latter epithet describes?

If I may digress somewhat for the space of one brief paragraph : I am amazed at how very unwilling people are to clearly admit to having been mistaken. Me, I’d prefer any day to having been shown to be wrong. I’d find that more profitable, any day, to having been proved right. More bang for my buck that way. I am always happier when found wrong, or when found so ignorant that I cannot even contribute meaningfully, because that means I am able to get that much more return for my money (in this case, for my time). Apparently this straightforward approach does not carry universal appeal.





This position of the 'agnostic' that I have presented (and really, there is no reason to append the qualifier "scientist" to that word) is what I believe is Huxley's meaning. I have, in my earlier post addressed to you, shown you clearly why I think this is so. If you think his particular connotation is a paradox, that is a disagreement you will have to take up with him, not me!

In any case, it seems you find his Agnosticism to be a paradox only because you are misinterpreting him. Strawmanning Huxley himself, if you will! I will attempt to show you clearly how that is so.





You will excuse me if I say that that -- especially following on what you have already said in this post just preceding this portion -- appears very suspiciously like using jargon in order to obfuscate the straightforward issue we are discussing. What you say here, camouflaged within technical terms, appears to me to be a clear non sequitur, presented here for no discernible purpose (unless to obfuscate this straightforward discussion).

Nevertheless, let us take what you say at face value, and try to unpack what you’re saying :

As you say, “As an agnostic, H claims that he cannot maintain an idea without justification.” Now two things, around single sentence :
  1. First, let me put this squarely in Huxley’s own words. He had said that the agnostic is not to have faith in that, for which no evidence is demonstrated or demonstrable. While you may have perhaps meant to convey this same thing, nevertheless “cannot maintain an idea” sounds more ambiguous than “won’t have faith in”. So, just to be sure we are on the same page, and on the same page as Huxley himself, let us say, more clearly, that ‘As an agnostic, H will not have faith in a claim that has no evidence demonstrated in support of it.’

  2. And second, let us do away with the word “claim” from your formulation. That the agnostic will not have faith in something for which there is no evidence, that is not a claim, but a pronouncement, a declaration of intent, no different from “I will not steal”, or “I will not lie”, or “I will not sleep with other people’s wives”. This is not a “claim” at all, it is a declaration of intent. Just like I may coin a word “astealist” to refer to someone that will not steal, similarly Huxley had coined the word “agnostic” to refer to someone who effectively would not have faith in that for which he had no evidence. As I have clearly shown you already in my previous post addressed to you.

You next bring in the scientist. I don’t see why you do that at all. We have no need for the scientist at all, at this point. You say “As a scientist, H justifies his unbelief with the powerful reason that without evidence there can be no belief.” Well, that second sentence is superfluous. Because as an agnostic, qua agnostic, H already says exactly that. It does not matter if our agnostic H is a scientist or a cobbler or a circus clown : that he is an agnostic is sufficient grounds (in a tautological kind of way) for him to say -- as I have clearly shown in my previous post addressed to you -- that “without evidence there can be no belief”.



As for this new creature that you next introduce, this “agnostic fideist” that you conjure up -- well, I submit that this last is no more than a red herring, brought in to try to obfuscate this simple issue even further. What on earth is an “agnostic fideist”? A fideist is someone who believes that knowledge springs from faith and revelation, and that this faith has nothing to do with reason, a defender of the patently absurd ‘separate magisteria’ idea. So then, if we were to use the word ‘agnostic’ strictly as Huxley intended it -- as someone who will not have faith in the absence of compelling reason and evidence -- then an “agnostic fideist” is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms!

You simply cannot have an “agnostic fideist” at all -- not if you use the word ‘agnostic’ as Huxley had intended it.

(Of course, if you choose to use the word ‘agnostic’ purely in its philological, word-root sense -- as indeed some do -- then yes, you can speak of an “agnostic fideist”. But if that is what you meant, then what you are doing now is exactly what we had both spoken out against, both you and I : speaking past each other by using the same word to mean different things. Now is the time to put in action what we had both agreed on : we either come to agreement about our definitions, or we skip definitions altogether and simply talk about the underlying concepts, even when this takes up somewhat more words, somewhat more space, and somewhat more effort.)

And here is what appears to me to be your final sleight of hand (if you will permit me to be so frank) : having introduced this new creature to our discussion, this “agnostic fideist” of yours, you then go ahead and raise objections to what this “agnostic fideist” might do and say! That’s patently ridiculous, this line of argument, and here’s why I say this :

First of all, like I’ve already pointed out, an “agnostic fideist” is a contradiction in terms (if you use Huxley’s views on ‘agnosticism’) : but, that apart, what follows, follows primarily from the fideism, and not from the agnosticism that qualifies that fideism. You objection, expressed in the last paragraph, irrespective of whether it is valid or not -- and frankly I have not taken the trouble to suss out for myself whether it is indeed valid, that very last paragraph, because the objections to fideism that you present there are wholly irrelevant to this discussion -- I was saying, your objection, expressed in the last paragraph, adheres not to the agnostic but to the fideist!

(To put this plainly and in somewhat crude metaphor : If the “agnostic fideist” takes to turning cartwheels in the nude in full public view at mid-noon, or to howling at the moon at night and attempting to take bites out of young girls’ necks, then he does that because he is a “fideist”, and not because of the “agnositic” that qualifies his “fideism”. If you take this madman away in chains, you will do it for the insanity that is his “fideism”, and not because you have inserted that “agnostic” in front of his “fideism”.)

Surely that is obvious, surely that is clear as day?! Why on earth are you discussing with me, now, suddenly, the antics of some Fideist, as well as the pros and cons of Fideism (and pretending that that somehow rubs off on to our discussion on Huxley’s Agnosticism)?



I am sorry, David Mo, I had expected more of you.

By all means, have another go at properly and cogently responding to my previous post addressed to you, if you wish to, that is. You may also, if you wish, respond after that to the two objections I have raised here. As I’ve said, I am always happy, myself, if I am proved wrong -- that way I end up learning something new/different. If you are able to do that, I will gladly acknowledge you and also thank you.

But what I’m asking of you is that you squarely discuss my earlier post, as well as both objections I have raised now in this post -- and that you address these issues clearly, cogently, and without attempting further obfuscation via technical jargon and unnecessary non sequiturs. It’s either that, or acknowledge your error. (Provided you wish to take this any further at all. I suppose you always have the option of simply not responding at all.)
I regret not having time this morning to read your long commentary carefully. I will make some notes and leave a more detailed comment for when I have time.
(1) I didn't want to get into an argument about Thomas Huxley because he's an author I don't know well. I've only read you one article and a few selected texts. I don't like to talk about what I don't know. In addition, we are trying to clarify the concept of agnosticism here, and that seems to me to be a priority. If you want to defend Huxley's position here, I will refer to what you could say.
(2) Since I'm not referring to Huxley, I can't make a straw man of him.
(3) To believe X and to affirm X is the same thing in this debate. I can't say anything if I don't believe in something. We are assuming the subject is not lying, of course.
(4) The agnostic states that one cannot believe in something that has no justification. I do not care whether you call this a 'claim' or a 'pronouncement'. You interpret this as a statement of intentions. I think it's a rule of knowledge. We are speaking of the knowledge of gods here. Not about practical rules.
(5) I call a "scientist" a person who claims that we can only know or believe something justified by strict evidence (science). If that is not scientism, call it what you like.
(6) Many people claim that they cannot prove that God exists, but that they have faith in God. It is usually called 'fideism'. Others call them ‘agnostic theists’. The name doesn't matter, if we know what we're talking about.

If we agree on these points, perhaps you will understand my argument.

I will repeat it again in a simplified and nameless manner so that there will be no verbal arguments between you and me. Forget about Huxley, fideism, agnosticism and all that for a moment.
H1.: I do not believe in God.
Question: Why?
H2: Because you cannot believe in something that is not justified.
Q: Why?
H3: Because the burden of proof lies with who claims that something exists.
Q: Then you have a reason to believe that God doesn't exist.
H4: Yes.
Q: Then you say that God doesn't exist.

This is to say: H turns to be what is usually called an "atheist" (or a "gnostic atheist" according others)= someone that affirms that God doesn’t exist. Not what Huxley calls an "agnostic".
NOTE: H only can avoid the agnostic paradox denying H3 but this is inconsistent with H2.

The basis of my argument is that the burden of proof is a sufficient reason to deny that something exists.

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Old 15th May 2018, 11:59 PM   #285
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I am sorry, David Mo, I had expected more of you.

By all means, have another go at properly and cogently responding to my previous post addressed to you, if you wish to, that is. You may also, if you wish, respond after that to the two objections I have raised here. As I’ve said, I am always happy, myself, if I am proved wrong -- that way I end up learning something new/different. If you are able to do that, I will gladly acknowledge you and also thank you.

But what I’m asking of you is that you squarely discuss my earlier post, as well as both objections I have raised now in this post -- and that you address these issues clearly, cogently, and without attempting further obfuscation via technical jargon and unnecessary non sequiturs. It’s either that, or acknowledge your error. (Provided you wish to take this any further at all. I suppose you always have the option of simply not responding at all.)
I'd like to ask you to be a little more to the point. I don't have time to go over your long comments. If anything is not clear to you from what I said, it would be good if you asked it again. This would keep the issue focused.
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Old 16th May 2018, 12:19 AM   #286
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MY LAST INTENT:

Vocabulary:

Atheist: affirms that God doesn't exist.
Agnostic: neither claims nor denies that God exists. He abstains from all judgment and therefore believes neither one nor the other.

Agnostic paradox:
Agnosticism seems consistent, but ceases to be so as soon as it is deepened.

In order to justify his position, the agnostic needs to appeal to the burden of proof.
The burden of proof lies with the one that affirms the existence of a thing.
But he cannot demand to the atheist a proof of a negative claim of existence.
Therefore, the agnostic has an argument against theist but no argument against the atheist. This implies he is an atheist.

Conclusion: The agnostic is someone that doesn't understand the consequences of the burden of proof.

Question: What happens if the agnostic reject the argument of the burden of proof? He opens the door to the most fantastic entities.

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Old 16th May 2018, 01:20 AM   #287
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
That is merely your personal judgment, your individual personal assessment as it applies to you, and not a general expression of general “worth”. You see that, don’t you?

Well, that's not a question I'm going to answer now, is it? Tremendously leading, well done.

Of course the debate has worth. Or, rather 'worth', as an intellectual curiosity. a relic from when we knew less and thought there were magic men in the sky.

Nowadays, you know, post renaissance, post enlightenment, the conversation has no real 'worth' other than, as I say, as s curio or, alternatively, to placate the delusional and the mentally ill. Those who, inexplicably, in 2017, believe in fairies and the like, consider it a win if, rather than getting locked up for sincerely believing in magic, they manage to get actual thinking, rational adults to reasonably entertain their fantasy that their delusion, and only their delusion needs to be disproved by non-mental people.
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Old 16th May 2018, 01:51 AM   #288
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Agnosticism has to be the zero position. I know that I don't know, but I do research and try to find out how things are. Atheism is a position, which needs proof. (and there is no conclusive evidence for atheism, like there is no conclusive evidence for theism).
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Old 16th May 2018, 01:53 AM   #289
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Quote:
But he cannot demand to the atheist a proof of a negative claim of existence.
Therefore, the agnostic has an argument against theist but no argument against the atheist. This implies he is an atheist.
Atheism is a positive claim that x does not exist. That's a positive claim, which needs proof. The claim that a world exists without the existence of gods, is a positive claim about such a world and needs evidence. Atheists cannot provide sufficient evidence for the existence of such world. Therefore atheism is not a rational position, just like theism. Agnosticism is the zero position.
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spacetime exists 'outthere'. It's all events together.
We, minds, experience moment by moment the unfolding of events. But that's not how the phenomena exist outthere. In spacetime all events already exist simultaniously in past, present and future.(Einstein) Only the interaction with a mind, establishes the experience of the unfolding of these events, moment by moment.

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Old 16th May 2018, 02:03 AM   #290
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Hmm, have you tried applying that argument to, say, the existence of the Higgs boson?

Having an education mainly based in science, I am perfectly happy with the idea that the weight of evidence favours one hypothesis over the other but still may be overturned. That doesn't mean I don't believe in macroevolution or the possibility that we'll soon detect dark matter.
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Old 16th May 2018, 05:10 AM   #291
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Originally Posted by Maartenn100 View Post
Atheism is a positive claim that x does not exist. That's a positive claim, which needs proof. The claim that a world exists without the existence of gods, is a positive claim about such a world and needs evidence. Atheists cannot provide sufficient evidence for the existence of such world. Therefore atheism is not a rational position, just like theism. Agnosticism is the zero position.

That way lies utter madness.

Every time someone invents something, the default position is that it might exist and it has to be disproved? Dragons, demons, Mike Hammer, Prospero, Ice skating mongooses dancing the bolero by the shores of the lake of tranquility, the lot?

Madness.
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Old 16th May 2018, 05:28 AM   #292
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Originally Posted by Egg View Post
I've enjoyed reading your posts.

Thank you, Egg!


Quote:
A couple of points come to mind. It's not clear who the "we" is in the above. If it's we, as humans, then we can certainly be hard-atheists about any gods anyone suggests. But I suspect you're being somewhat Huxley-esque here, with his prescriptive "every man should" (Victorian gentlemen were most thoughtful in not wishing to worry ladies with such intellectual matters) and assuming a shared philosophy in the "we" (perhaps that makes sense on a sceptics' forum).

Oh, just a generic “we”, that’s all. Replace with a generic ‘one’ if you wish, or a generic ‘you’, or perhaps just put that in the passive voice instead if you wish.

I just re-read the portion of my post that you’ve quoted, and I see I’ve used the generic “you” in the first part of that sentence, and the generic “we” in the second part of the same sentence. That was just sloppy language on my part, nothing more, and I can see how that might give rise to some confusion if you’re a careful reader (as you seem to be).


Quote:
If it's we, as humans, then we can certainly be hard-atheists about any gods anyone suggests.

No, no, this part, this sentence, absolutely not! ( That is, as far as I can see this -- it would be arrogant of me not to soften that exclamation with this qualification. ) That’s the whole point I was trying to make in my post #281 addressed to xjx388.

Take Russel’s teapot. (Of course, a teapot is not a God, so you can’t be “atheistic” about it. But forget that for a minute. Or say we add to Russel’s teapot the further qualification that this teapot is actually God! Right, let’s look at this teapot-God, then.)

We can NOT be hard-atheistic about this teapot. We cannot show, after taking on ourselves the burden of proof, that this object does not exist. We can only be soft-atheistic about it, that is, reject the claim of its existence on the grounds that there is no evidence to support it.

Do you see? Do we agree? Of course, hard-atheist or soft-atheist, in either case we can be just as determined and just as firm in our atheism as we please. That is a different matter. “Soft atheism” does not mean that our atheism is half-hearted or ambiguous, absolutely not! But no, looking to how we’ve arrived at our atheism, we can NOT be hard-atheistic to the Russel’s-teapot-God.

Of course, it could be that five centuries from today -- provided we did not blow ourselves up, or otherwise end up destroying ourselves by then -- it may so happen that our technology has advanced to such fantastic levels that we are actually able to be able to have at our finger-tips all of the solar system, so that we are able to tell for sure whether or not some teapot-sized object is actually oribiting around there. (Of course, with that kind of technology, the solar system will no doubt be littered with all kinds of human-artefact debris, including perhaps some actual teapots as well, put up perhaps by practical jokers who thought it would be funny to have teapot with "Russel" inscribed on it orbiting the sun!) So anyway, in such a hypothetical scenario, sure, we can ascertain for sure if a teapot is present or not, for sure, and so we can be hard-atheistic about this teapot (if our observations so warrant). In this hypothetical far-future scenario. But today, now, we can only be soft-atheistic about Russel’s teapot.

So -- to go back to what we were saying -- sure, we can be firmly atheistic about “any gods anyone suggests”, absolutely. But no, we cannot be “HARD-atheist about any gods anyone suggests”. We can be hard-atheistic about some God-ideas, but not about all God-ideas. For those remaining God-ideas, we necessarily have to be soft-atheistic (if atheistic we must be -- but this last is probably a given in this company, so we can take that for granted).


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Which brings me to something that stood out for me in the Huxley quotes.


"Agnostic faith". Now, I'd imagine the meaning of "faith" Huxley would have in mind is that of trust and holding firm (I suspect "belief without evidence" is a more modern take on the word). But even so, I wonder how much the irony is intended - I think it must be - to be strongly affirming the position that faith should be based on reason and evidence, but doing so by invoking authority, not evidence, and then describing that position as "agnostic faith". He's pulling our legs here isn't he?

Heh, that’s observant of you! Like I said, you’re obviously a very careful reader!

I’m afraid that hadn’t rung a bell for me, not until you pointed it out now, but I agree, that does “stand out”, given the context.

My own take would be that Huxley was simply using the word “faith” as a figure of speech. Perhaps a somewhat archaic-ish figure of speech, but probably one that would be commonplace during his time. I suppose all he meant was ‘the creed of the agnostic’ -- but no, I’ve done it myself this time, used a loaded word, “creed”, which is just as inappropriate, really, as “faith” itself had been -- I suppose all he meant was ‘the credo, the philosophy, the code if you will, of the agnostic’. ‘The code of the agnostic’, that sounds about right.

(Mind you, I’m no expert on Huxley! I’ve been speaking of him here, since the discussion calls for it, and yes, I have read a bit of what he’s written, but it isn’t as if I’m some kind of authority on the man, far from it! So take what I say now, in this post, with a pinch of salt, it’s no more than just my best guess.)

Was this an intentional witticism on his part? Again, I’ve not read him extensively enough to be familiar with his sense of humor, but now that you’ve pointed this out, I’d like to think, myself, that yes, he actually was pulling our leg there! (But I’ve no clue really about whether what you think about this, and what I’d like to believe is the case, is actually the truth!)
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Old 16th May 2018, 06:28 AM   #293
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
I regret not having time this morning to read your long commentary carefully. I will make some notes and leave a more detailed comment for when I have time.

I’ve just now read these current posts of yours, and also re-read my previous post #280 addressed to you, and I regret the note of discourtesy that had crept in in that post. I think I’d made surmises about your intention in introducing, in your post #273, what I felt were deliberately obfuscating jargon and non sequiturs, and that impression is what I had reacted to -- and after reading these current posts of yours, I’m beginning to think my inference was incorrect. Some disagreements still remain, but those are probably straightforward misunderstandings and/or disagreements, as opposed to deliberate obfuscation. That somewhat trenchant note in my earlier post had not been called for, at all. My apologies, absolutely.

As for your re-visiting this post of yours : sure, please, whenever you’re free, and no rush! But you know what, I’ve read this post of yours (that I’m starting out responding to), and I don’t think there’s any need to re-do it all. My primary objection you seem to have agreed to, "deferred" to -- unless I am mistaken -- in this post, so that does not need re-visiting. And as to the rest, I’ll try to point out such difficulties as occur to me about them, and addressing them, that is, addressing this post of mine, should be ample.


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(1) I didn't want to get into an argument about Thomas Huxley because he's an author I don't know well. I've only read you one article and a few selected texts. I don't like to talk about what I don't know. In addition, we are trying to clarify the concept of agnosticism here, and that seems to me to be a priority. If you want to defend Huxley's position here, I will refer to what you could say.

I suppose the last part of that last sentence there should read : "I will defer to what you could say"? "Defer", not "refer"? If that is what you meant -- and that seems to me the much likelier interpretation of what you've said there, basis your wording -- then I thank you for so graciously accepting my point.

(Although if I'm misinterpreting you, and if you mean instead that you would like to "refer" back, check back, read more, and revisit this argument : then yes, then absolutely you will need to do that, and to go back and respond properly to my earlier post.)


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(2) Since I'm not referring to Huxley, I can't make a straw man of him.

With respect, I will ask you to permit me to disagree. You are not speaking of Huxley now, but you did speak of him earlier on. You did express what you believed was his, Huxley’s, meaning of the word ‘Agnostic’ ; and you did claim for that view of yours a “semantic authority”, even a “copyright”, that derives from the fact that it was Huxley who had coined that term.

I myself claim no especial sanctity for my particular interpretation just because I believe that that is Huxley’s interpretation as well. (Indeed, I was speaking all through for recognizing a multiplicity of meanings that are currently extant.)

However, it is your bringing up your view of Huxley’s meaning for Agnosticism that I was responding to. It is because you claimed that Huxley himself advocated some wishy-washy version of Agnosticism, that I brought out those Huxley quotes in response. I wanted to show you that you were mistaken in thinking that Huxley had intended the kind of wishy-washy meaning for the word Agnosticism, that you seemed to believe he had. That’s all.

The word “straw man” tends to carry certain connotations, and I should have been careful how I’d used it. I did not mean to suggest your strawmanning was deliberate : but yes, I did think, and do still think, you had been misinterpreting him, because you were honestly mistaken about his meaning and about his intentions.

Since you now agree to fall in with my interpretation of Huxley’s meaning, I trust this is something we no longer disagree about.


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(3) To believe X and to affirm X is the same thing in this debate. I can't say anything if I don't believe in something. We are assuming the subject is not lying, of course.

I’m sorry, you’ve lost me here. I don’t see how this is relevant. Would you care to explain?

Also -- looking simply at what you’re saying here, without really being clear about your larger point when you say this -- I'm not sure I agree with this. Sure, I (or you) can argue for some POV without necessarily believing in that POV ourselves. It so happens that I find Huxley’s POV reasonable : but even if I didn’t, surely I could have spoken about what I believed he meant irrespective of my personal POV?

But like I said, I don’t understand your larger point here. Perhaps you would explain?


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(4) The agnostic states that one cannot believe in something that has no justification. I do not care whether you call this a 'claim' or a 'pronouncement'. You interpret this as a statement of intentions. I think it's a rule of knowledge. We are speaking of the knowledge of gods here. Not about practical rules.

If you’d used that word, “claim”, informally like this, then I suppose my objection to it was in the nature of hair-splitting.

This is why I’d spoken about this : A claim needs to be backed up with reason, right? It needs to be justified. But an intention does not really need to be justified, it is enough that one intends it.

If I simply say “I will not believe something that has no evidence”, and further say “Someone who acts like this, I coin this new word, Agnostic, to describe him” -- which is what Huxley had done -- then, since this was just a declaration of intent and not a claim, there is no need to back it up. That is what I had meant to point out.

But of course, if your informal use of the word “claim” was only accidental, and you did not mean to imply that this claim needed to be backed up, then all of this is moot.


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(5) I call a "scientist" a person who claims that we can only know or believe something justified by strict evidence (science). If that is not scientism, call it what you like.

Oh. I see now. You’re using the word “scientist”, and especially the word “scientism”, very differently from their everyday sense. But no issues, now that we know, exactly, what it is you did mean.

My point was, Huxley’s meaning for “Agnosticism” was exactly the same as what you seem to mean by “scientist”, so this additional word/qualification seemed superfluous.


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(6) Many people claim that they cannot prove that God exists, but that they have faith in God. It is usually called 'fideism'. Others call them ‘agnostic theists’. The name doesn't matter, if we know what we're talking about.

I must, with respect, and with no offense intended, repeat the two objections I had raised earlier :
  1. I fail to see, at all, why you’re bringing in fideism in into this discussion at all. It seems to me to be an out-and-out non sequitur.

    To be clear : I’ll be very happy to discuss fideism with you, if you wish, in a separate discussion. But I do not see, at all, what fideism has to do with agnosticism. Fideism appears to me to be a non sequitur, when what we are discussing is Agnosticism.

  2. I take your point, when you say that the “fideist” is the same as an “agnostic theist” – provided you define the word “agnostic”, when you use it as an adjective there, strictly by its philological sense.

    And that is fine. I recognize that that is one of the connotations that this word carries, one of the senses in which people use the word Agnsotic. But I’m unsure where you want to go with this?

    Sure, if you define “agnostic” simply as ‘someone who does not know, and knows that they do not know’, just that, then “agnostic theist” will be the same as a “fideist”. But anything that follows from using this definition in this manner will apply only to this particular definition of Agnosticism. Not to how Huxley meant to define it. You see that, right?

    And -- even more importantly -- any pros and cons to this fideism, stays with fideism. It adheres to fideism, like I had said in my previous post addressed to you. How does that in any way impact Agnosticism at all?


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If we agree on these points, perhaps you will understand my argument.

I will repeat it again in a simplified and nameless manner so that there will be no verbal arguments between you and me. Forget about Huxley, fideism, agnosticism and all that for a moment.
H1.: I do not believe in God.
Question: Why?
H2: Because you cannot believe in something that is not justified.
Q: Why?
H3: Because the burden of proof lies with who claims that something exists.
Q: Then you have a reason to believe that God doesn't exist.
H4: Yes.
Q: Then you say that God doesn't exist.

This is to say: H turns to be what is usually called an "atheist" (or a "gnostic atheist" according others)= someone that affirms that God doesn’t exist. Not what Huxley calls an "agnostic".

Ah, we seem to have arrived at the crux of our disagreement! (And it seems to me this is not so much a disagreement per se as a misunderstanding. That is, it seems we do agree with each other, but perhaps we’ve been talking past each other, both of us.)

I think I agree with the broad point you’re making here.

The agnostic’s position -- as Huxley defined it -- is a general position, and does not directly refer to the God question at all. But when the ‘agnostic method’ (if I may call it that) is turned to the God question, then absolutely, the end result is atheism.

And that is why I have been saying, all through, that when applied to the God question, agnosticism -- as defined by Huxley -- is synonymous with ‘soft atheism’. (Not literally synonymous, but effectively so, when the God question is what one is discussing.)

The Agnostic -- Huxely’s Agnostic -- does not believe in God because he sees no evidence for God. In other words, Huxley’s Agnostic is a Soft Atheist.


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NOTE: H only can avoid the agnostic paradox denying H3 but this is inconsistent with H2.

I’m sorry, you’ll have to explain this to me. I don’t see any paradox at all here!

I wish we were sitting down together, across each other at a coffee table perhaps, then this discussion would have been so much easier! This text-only discussion is kind of cumbersome. Nevertheless, since that’s what we have, that’s what we must make the best of!

I’ll request you to explain this portion -- this “paradox” you speak of -- one more time, but before you do that, let me just point out some inconsistencies I find with your H-statements. (That is, these inconsistencies may or may not affect your explanation of your paradox, I don’t know, but I’d like to point them out, so that you may incorporate them in your explanation when you do present it.)

H2 : Because you cannot believe in something that is not justified.

Q2 (I’m calling this Q2, instead of just “Q”, for ease of reference) : Why?

H3 : Because the burden of proof lies with who claims that something exists.


While I agree with H3, if taken as a bald statement, nevertheless H3 is not the answer to Q2.

This is what I meant when I said “I will not believe in something that is not justified” (i.e., your H2) -- or, to put it more precisely, ‘I will not believe in something for which there is no compelling evidence' -- is a declaration of intent. It is not a claim, and therefore there is no need to back it up at all. Q2 does not apply at all. Do you see this?

Suppose I were to declare : ‘I will not go out on dates with read-headed girls’. This is simply a declaration of intent, and there is no need to back it up. (That is, you may question the wisdom of this declaration, and discuss its effectivity and desirability. But having made this declaration once, the fact that I have made this declaration, it stands on its own two feet.)

Huxley said, in effect, that we will not believe in that for which there is no evidence, and that those who follow this dictum would, he proposed, be known as Agnostic. That is how we can, in our minds, break up his “definition” of Agnosticism.

So when he says “The Agnostic will not have faith in that for which there is no evidence”, there is no “Why” to it at all. It’s simply tautotological.

You may, separately, argue with Huxley (or with H) the wisdom of this declaration of his. That is a separate issue.


Like I said, I’m not clear what exactly this “paradox” is, so I’m not sure if this, what I just said, is relevant. But I’d like you to incorporate this, what I've said now, into your explanation of the paradox, when you make it.


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The basis of my argument is that the burden of proof is a sufficient reason to deny that something exists.

And I agree with that statement in general terms, but again, I’m afraid I don’t see what that has to do with our discussion.

Incidentally : I don’t think, when it comes to Agnosticism, that the burden of proof is the ‘reason’, per se, of denying something. I think this is only, in effect, a re-statement of the motto of Agnosticism.

Huxley says : The Agnostic will not have faith in that for which there is no evidence.

Therefore, if you want to get an Agnostic to believe in something, then it puts on you the burden of proof, the burden of evidence, if you want him to believe something.

In other words, the burden of proof, or the burden of evidence, is merely another way of re-stating the very definition of Agnosticism. It is not a “reason”, per se.

In light of what I’ve said, would you like to revisit what you’ve said? (What you’ve said, in the form that you’ve said it, isn’t very clear to me, I’m afraid. I’m not sure what point you’re making here.)
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Old 16th May 2018, 06:39 AM   #294
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Originally Posted by David Mo View Post
MY LAST INTENT:

Vocabulary:

Atheist: affirms that God doesn't exist.

Not true. (That is, that is not the only meaning of the term ‘atheist’.)

What you are describing is the Hard-Atheist’s position.

The ‘Soft Atheist’ rejects the theist’s claim that a God exists.

The ‘Hard Atheist’ affirms that God doesn’t exist.

Therefore, the burden of proof lies on the ‘Hard Atheist’ to back up his claim.

And that is why Hard Atheism is not always reasonable. It is reasonable in some cases, but not always.

But Soft Atheism is always reasonable.


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Agnostic: neither claims nor denies that God exists. He abstains from all judgment and therefore believes neither one nor the other.

Agnostic paradox:
Agnosticism seems consistent, but ceases to be so as soon as it is deepened.

In order to justify his position, the agnostic needs to appeal to the burden of proof.
The burden of proof lies with the one that affirms the existence of a thing.
But he cannot demand to the atheist a proof of a negative claim of existence.
Therefore, the agnostic has an argument against theist but no argument against the atheist. This implies he is an atheist.

No, I don’t think that’s right.

The Agnostic “has an argument against” the theist. Agreed.

But the Agnostic also “has an argument against” the Hard Atheist.

The Agnostic has no argument against the Soft Atheist. This implies that THE AGNSOTIC IS A SOFT ATHEIST. (As I’ve been saying all through, right from the get go.)

Clarification : In some specific cases, the Hard Atheist does actually win the argument, because he does have evidence to back up his claim. Therefore the Agnostic can, in those specific cases, be a Hard Atheist as well. But generally speaking the Agnostic is a Soft Atheist.


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Conclusion: The agnostic is someone that doesn't understand the consequences of the burden of proof.

On the contrary. It is because the Agnostic fully understands and appreciates the burden of proof, that he is a Soft Atheist. (He is also, only occasionally, a Hard Atheist, when the specific situation warrants that conclusion.)

It is the Hard Atheist (the one who insists always on holding the Hard Atheist position) who doesn’t understand the concept of burden of proof.

And indeed -- to take this argument to its logical conclusion -- it is also they who refuse to differentiate between Hard Atheist and Soft Atheist, who do not understand the consequences of the burden of proof.

Had they understood and appreciated the consequences of the burden of proof, then they would have known the necessity of these two separate positions, the Soft Atheist and the Hard Atheist.


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Question: What happens if the agnostic reject the argument of the burden of proof? He opens the door to the most fantastic entities.

Question 1 : What happens when any reasonable person rejects the argument of the burden of proof?
Answer 1 : That question does not make sense : Why on earth would any reasonable person ever reject the argument of the burden of proof?


Question 2 : What happens when someone rejects the burden of proof?
Answer 2 (a) : No one, if they are reasonable, rejects the burden of proof.

Answer 2 (b) : Someone who rejects the burden of proof is not being reasonable. And if someone unreasonably rejects the burden of proof, then they end up arriving at fantastic conclusions and holding fantastic positions, like conflating Soft Atheism and Hard Atheism, or claiming that there is no need for these two separate positions at all.


You keep on talking about this “Agnostic’s Paradox”, but I’m afraid I see no paradox at all, anywhere. Would you re-state your case, your explanation of this “Agnostic’s Paradox”, in light of the objections I’ve raised in this post and the previous one?
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Old 16th May 2018, 07:01 AM   #295
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
Well, that's not a question I'm going to answer now, is it? Tremendously leading, well done.

Of course the debate has worth. Or, rather 'worth', as an intellectual curiosity. a relic from when we knew less and thought there were magic men in the sky.

Nowadays, you know, post renaissance, post enlightenment, the conversation has no real 'worth' other than, as I say, as s curio or, alternatively, to placate the delusional and the mentally ill. Those who, inexplicably, in 2017, believe in fairies and the like, consider it a win if, rather than getting locked up for sincerely believing in magic, they manage to get actual thinking, rational adults to reasonably entertain their fantasy that their delusion, and only their delusion needs to be disproved by non-mental people.

I took some time and effort to write my post #272 addressed to you. Did you read it fully? (You've only quoted the first few words here from there, and ignored the rest.) Did you understand it?

The best way to show how wholly inadequate and out of place this response of yours is, when you consider that that post is what you were responding to, would be to simply copy that entire post again here. But seeing that I've taken up a great deal of space here already with three longish post that I put up just now, I'll content myself with simply linking to that post again, so that you (or anyone else) can read that post, the post to which you intend this as response.

This was my post to which you were responding : LINK.



The specific objection you raised here, I've already addressed in that post.

All you're doing in this post is telling me "I don't agree with you." You don't tell me why you disagree. You don't even tell me what you disagree about, exactly. The one disagreement you actually express, is already covered in the post you part-quote (in a portion that you did not quote), and that you don't touch on at all.

What am I expected to do with this content-free expression of disagreement? Say "I don't agree with you either" back to you, and make faces at you?
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Old 16th May 2018, 07:02 AM   #296
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Not true. (That is, that is not the only meaning of the term ‘atheist’.)

What you are describing is the Hard-Atheist’s position.

The ‘Soft Atheist’ rejects the theist’s claim that a God exists.

The ‘Hard Atheist’ affirms that God doesn’t exist.

Therefore, the burden of proof lies on the ‘Hard Atheist’ to back up his claim.

And that is why Hard Atheism is not always reasonable. It is reasonable in some cases, but not always.

The argument just doesn't work if you replace 'god' with 'wombles'.

Are you unsure of the existence or otherwise of Wombles?

There is no cause to assign the fictional character 'god' any more special status that the fictional character 'Uncle Bulgaria'. If someone can come up with a fundamental difference between the two that doesn't rely on delusion I'd be willing to listen.
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Old 16th May 2018, 07:05 AM   #297
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
The argument just doesn't work if you replace 'god' with 'wombles'.

Are you unsure of the existence or otherwise of Wombles?
I'm igtheistic about the existence of Wombles. [eta : in other words, I've no clue what that means!]

As to why a separate word for God, and not for Wombles : I've addressed that in my post #272 addressed to you the other day, in response to your asking (of another poster) why Gandalf shouldn't have special words named after him, like God seems to have.

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Old 16th May 2018, 07:13 AM   #298
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I'm igtheistic about the existence of Wombles. [eta : in other words, I've no clue what that means!]

As to why a separate word for God, and not for Wombles : I've addressed that in my post #272 addressed to you the other day, in response to your asking (of another poster) why Gandalf shouldn't have special words named after him, like God seems to have.

My point was on the shifting of the burden of proof and the apparent, firmly held position, that one must discuss with great import the delusions of idiots just because they insist firmly that the sane among us take their delusions seriously.

The turnaround on the burden of proof, i.e. "you must prove that the thing I've invented doesn't exist." is, from the point of view of logical discourse and with recourse to Russell's teapot, a load of fetid dingoes kidneys.
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Old 16th May 2018, 07:14 AM   #299
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
There is no cause to assign the fictional character 'god' any more special status that the fictional character 'Uncle Bulgaria'. If someone can come up with a fundamental difference between the two that doesn't rely on delusion I'd be willing to listen.

Re. this edited portion of your post :

I've already explained to you the fundamental difference between the two -- that is, I have already explained to you why we have (and should have) all these words for God, but not for Gandalf, in my post #272.

But no, it doesn't seem as if you were "willing to listen".

You can go back to that post and listen again if you wish. It's there still.
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Old 16th May 2018, 07:17 AM   #300
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Re. this edited portion of your post :

I've already explained to you the fundamental difference between the two -- that is, I have already explained to you why we have (and should have) all these words for God, but not for Gandalf, in my post #272.

But no, it doesn't seem as if you were "willing to listen".

You can go back to that post and listen again if you wish. It's there still.

I've clearly missed it, because I just read it as "some people really believe and really wan to talk about it, so we must" which is, again, not an argument that holds water.

Could you highlight the pertinent bit of the post that I've missed because I can't see that you've offered any explanation at all for why god is worthy of special pleading that Gandalf isn't.

Bear in mind that I don't find "Some really, really, tryly believe with all their hearts so we must pander to their madness" as a convincing argument for why I have to perform an impossible logical feat.
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Old 16th May 2018, 07:27 AM   #301
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Originally Posted by 3point14 View Post
My point was on the shifting of the burden of proof and the apparent, firmly held position, that one must discuss with great import the delusions of idiots just because they insist firmly that the sane among us take their delusions seriously.

Heh, I see this God business tends to set your fuse! Perhaps you've had less than happy experiences interacting with these "idiots"? I have too, plenty of them, and nor do I always entertain them.

If it makes this any easier, just hark back to the dystopian world of our sons that I'd sketched for you. These semi-literate young yahoos roam the ruins of our civilization, believing that everything printed in books -- pre-apocalypse books some of whose torn pages have survived -- is literally true.

Do you engage with them or not? Often not, okay. But once in a while, sometimes? And when you, how do you interact with them?

And you know, this goes beyond interacting with folks. After all, Russel's teapot is just a teapot, not a God, right? Yet we can't be "hard-atheistic" about it, can we? This logical call-it-what-you-will, this imperative, in as much as it enhances our understanding of how we think and how we reason, I don't see what reason you have to object to it.

When you're discussing God (or idiot theists) with me, or other atheists, sure, we'll all use your language, no issues. We'll declare that in this discussion we'll use words this way, and stick to it. But I don't see why you want to do away with words and concepts that people find useful, just because at some times you yourself don't find use for them.


Quote:
The turnaround on the burden of proof, i.e. "you must prove that the thing I've invented doesn't exist." is, from the point of view of logical discourse and with recourse to Russell's teapot, a load of fetid dingoes kidneys.

There. Is. No. Turn-around. Of. The. Burden. Of. Proof.
Unless you're a hard atheist, that is.

The soft atheist does not carry the burden of proof. And nor is his atheism any less robust than the hard atheist's.




Nice talking, but have to run. Have overstayed my general "social media window", which I try to stick to in general, for today already. Later!
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Old 16th May 2018, 07:58 AM   #302
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
So -- to go back to what we were saying -- sure, we can be firmly atheistic about “any gods anyone suggests”, absolutely. But no, we cannot be “HARD-atheist about any gods anyone suggests”. We can be hard-atheistic about some God-ideas, but not about all God-ideas. For those remaining God-ideas, we necessarily have to be soft-atheistic (if atheistic we must be -- but this last is probably a given in this company, so we can take that for granted).
While I agree with you that there is a logical step missing between lacking evidence and asserting non-existence, unless you're defining "hard-atheist" as including what we could describe in this context as Huxley's philosophical position as part of the definition then I would disagree that we necessarily have to be soft-atheist about certain god ideas. My objection is that you're assuming people should be following logic. People often don't or don't share the same philosophical axioms. For example, some use Occam to bridge the logical gap and find their way to hard-atheism. For others it might be emotionally driven.

That probably far more words than I needed to say that you probably should include the words "to be logically consistent".


Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Was this an intentional witticism on his part? Again, I’ve not read him extensively enough to be familiar with his sense of humor, but now that you’ve pointed this out, I’d like to think, myself, that yes, he actually was pulling our leg there! (But I’ve no clue really about whether what you think about this, and what I’d like to believe is the case, is actually the truth!)
Without further reading it's hard to say. My impression of Huxley from what I've read is a little Hitchens-y. I'm not sure if that's a fair impression. I'd have to say I find it equally plausible that this quote is meant with a grin and tongue firmly in the cheek as it is that he overlooked the potential paradox and was defending his position in much the same way as someone might defend biblical authority as axiomatic.
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Old 16th May 2018, 08:09 AM   #303
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So basically we're still stuck at is the question "Is there a God" a fundamentally different question from "Is there a Spiderman?" and whether popularity (that is "a lot of people literally believe God exists while no one literally believes Spiderman exists") or pure linguistics (that is we have so many words about or pertaining to God and/or the discussion of God) changes anything.
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Old 16th May 2018, 08:34 AM   #304
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
So basically we're still stuck at is the question "Is there a God" a fundamentally different question from "Is there a Spiderman?" and whether popularity (that is "a lot of people literally believe God exists while no one literally believes Spiderman exists") or pure linguistics (that is we have so many words about or pertaining to God and/or the discussion of God) changes anything.
As laid out by Stan Lee? I think we're pretty sure that radioactive spider bites giving super powers is unscientific and that Lee was creating a character from his imagination for entertainment and is not claiming to be a witness to actual events.

If we broaden that out to the question of "are there people who have super powers?" perhaps that might be something to be more agnostic (or soft-atheist?) about. Also it may be more analogous if the definition of those super powers varied and included unfalsifiable claims and many people claimed some kind of experiences attributed to people with super powers (not just a belief in them).
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Old 16th May 2018, 08:39 AM   #305
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I’ve just now read these current posts of yours, and also re-read my previous post #280 addressed to you, and I regret the note of discourtesy that had crept in in that post. I think I’d made surmises about your intention in introducing, in your post #273, what I felt were deliberately obfuscating jargon and non sequiturs, and that impression is what I had reacted to -- and after reading these current posts of yours, I’m beginning to think my inference was incorrect. Some disagreements still remain, but those are probably straightforward misunderstandings and/or disagreements, as opposed to deliberate obfuscation. That somewhat trenchant note in my earlier post had not been called for, at all. My apologies, absolutely.
Don’t worry. Let us go to the point.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I suppose the last part of that last sentence there should read : "I will defer to what you could say"? "Defer", not "refer"?
Refer to: speak about, denote something.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
With respect, I will ask you to permit me to disagree. You are not speaking of Huxley now, but you did speak of him earlier on.
I only sustain Huxley’s definition of agnosticism quoted here:
Agnosticism (from Greek a-, ‘not’, and gnastos, ‘known’), term invented by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1869 to denote the philosophical and religious attitude of those who claim that metaphysical ideas can be neither proved nor disproved. Huxley wrote, “I neither affirm nor deny the immortality of man. I see no reason for believing it, but on the other hand, I have no means of disproving it.” (Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy).
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Sure, I (or you) can argue for some POV without necessarily believing in that POV ourselves. It so happens that I find Huxley’s POV reasonable : but even if I didn’t, surely I could have spoken about what I believed he meant irrespective of my personal POV?
I speak under the assumption that someone that affirms a P.O.V. is postulating his own O.P.V. This is how epistemology and philosophy work. To affirm=to maintain.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
But like I said, I don’t understand your larger point here. Perhaps you would explain?
If you’d used that word, “claim”, informally like this, then I suppose my objection to it was in the nature of hair-splitting.
In epistemology no intentions. The subject is the logical subject, not a personal one. I use “claim” as synonym of “affirm”. The subject of the sentence is the subject of the claim.
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
But of course, if your informal use of the word “claim” was only accidental, and you did not mean to imply that this claim needed to be backed up, then all of this is moot.
In logics, epistemology and dialectics any proposition needs confirmation, axioms excepted. Irrationalism puts its beliefs as axioms.
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
My point was, Huxley’s meaning for “Agnosticism” was exactly the same as what you seem to mean by “scientist”, so this additional word/qualification seemed superfluous.
This is the problem: you are too stuck to Huxley. There are other kinds of agnostics. Relativists, for example.
Agnosticism (from Greek a-, ‘not’, and gnastos, ‘known’), the philosophical and religious attitude of those who claim that metaphysical ideas can be neither proved nor disproved. Huxley wrote, “I neither affirm nor deny the immortality of man. I see no reason for believing it, but on the other hand, I have no means of disproving it.” (Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy).
No hint of scientism in this definition.


Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
To be clear : I’ll be very happy to discuss fideism with you, if you wish, in a separate discussion. But I do not see, at all, what fideism has to do with agnosticism. Fideism appears to me to be a non sequitur, when what we are discussing is Agnosticism.
I introduced fideism because some fideists like to consider themselves “agnostics”. According the definition of agnosticism they neither prove nor disprove, they only believe. Of course this is —or seems to me— different to Huxley’s agnosticism because he defend his agnosticism in terms of scientism. The difference is that the fideist don’t prove but affirms, and Huxley cannot affirm if there is not a proof.
You don’t understand the problem because you introduce the scientism in the definition of “agnosticism”. This is confusing, because there are relativists agnostics that are not scientists. (By the way: If you don’t like “scientism” use “positivism”: a philosophical system recognizing only that which can be scientifically verified).
Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
The Agnostic -- Huxely’s Agnostic -- does not believe in God because he sees no evidence for God. In other words, Huxley’s Agnostic is a Soft Atheist.
Now you say correctly “Huxley’s Agnostic”. This is a kind of agnosticism. You call it as you want. The rest of your comment depend of your confusing use of the word “agnosticism”.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Not true. (That is, that is not the only meaning of the term ‘atheist’.)
The use of a word is not true or false, it is correct or useful. I won't discuss this with you unless you insist.
The vocabulary I added is how I use those terms. I thought it was helpful for you to know. They are consistent with the definitions of atheism and agnosticism that I have given before. Here a summarised version:
Agnosticism is the philosophical view that neither affirms that God exists nor affirms that God does not exist.* On the other hand, atheism is the view that God does not exist.* (http://www.iep.utm.edu/skept-th/).
You can talk about hard and soft atheism if you like. I can understand that.

Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
But the Agnostic also “has an argument against” the Hard Atheist.(...)
It is the Hard Atheist (the one who insists always on holding the Hard Atheist position) who doesn’t understand the concept of burden of proof.(…)
The ‘Hard Atheist’ affirms that God doesn’t exist.

Therefore, the burden of proof lies on the ‘Hard Atheist’ to back up his claim.
It is not the atheist that misunderstands the burden of the proof, it is you.
The burden of proof lies on the one who affirms the existence of something. Not the one that “denies” or “affirms that X is not”. You cannot prove that pink dragons doesn’t exist. The burden of proof lies on the one who affirm that pink dragons exist. It he fails you are right in saying that pink dragons doesn’t exist.
The rest of your comment lies on this essential misunderstanding.

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Old 16th May 2018, 09:01 AM   #306
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Heh, I see this God business tends to set your fuse!
You're very, very right. Does it show?

My apologies for my, I now realise, unwarranted tone in my previous posts. I was stomping my foot and everything!


Quote:
Perhaps you've had less than happy experiences interacting with these "idiots"? I have too, plenty of them, and nor do I always entertain them.

I think it's actually more relevant that I haven't had a lot to do with the religious. My parents hold no religion and I was exposed to absolutely zero religious thinking when I was younger apart from going to Sunday School because I wanted to because some of my friends did.


From this blank palette, never having been exposed in any way to religious thinking at a young age, I find the whole thing absolutely mental. I find that otherwise rational people entertaining notions of what is, to me, so very plainly nonsense, really, really winds me up.

I shall wind my neck in.
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Old 16th May 2018, 09:32 AM   #307
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Originally Posted by Maartenn100 View Post
Atheism is a positive claim that x does not exist. That's a positive claim, which needs proof. The claim that a world exists without the existence of gods, is a positive claim about such a world and needs evidence. Atheists cannot provide sufficient evidence for the existence of such world. Therefore atheism is not a rational position, just like theism. Agnosticism is the zero position.

The only atheists who should need to prove what they say about God, are those who actually claim to "know" that God does not exist, i.e. a claim of absolutely certain fact. There is, apparently at least one atheist in these current threads who is claiming that, however, most people who describe themselves as atheists (especially those with any education in both the use of English language and in science), only say that they do not believe God exists.

We could of course go further and explain that belief by pointing out that there is actually no genuine honest evidential reason to believe that a biblical-type God exists. So that's one extremely good reason for rejecting the idea of God. And we could similarly point out that there is overwhelming evidence to show that the entire idea of a Christian God was invented 2000-3000 years ago by people who were at the time completely ignorant of any proper understanding of the world around them (they mistakenly thought God was responsible for everything, whereas science has long-since shown that none of those things were caused by any such miraculous heavenly God). And that is another overwhelming reason not to believe that the God is in any way actually real.

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Old 16th May 2018, 10:01 AM   #308
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
So basically we're still stuck at is the question "Is there a God" a fundamentally different question from "Is there a Spiderman?" and whether popularity (that is "a lot of people literally believe God exists while no one literally believes Spiderman exists") or pure linguistics (that is we have so many words about or pertaining to God and/or the discussion of God) changes anything.
I would opine that we're still stuck at 'is the chair squidoodles?'

Define first. Then demand GPS coordinates and weight for proof, if appropriate
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Old 16th May 2018, 10:06 AM   #309
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Originally Posted by IanS View Post
The only atheists who should need to prove what they say about God, are those who actually claim to "know" that God does not exist, i.e. a claim of absolutely certain fact. There is, apparently at least one atheist in these current threads who is claiming that, however, most people who describe themselves as atheists (especially those with any education in both the use of English language and in science), only say that they do not believe God exists.
No more so then I have to say "I believe there's no invisible dragon in my garage."
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Old 16th May 2018, 10:13 AM   #310
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
No more so then I have to say "I believe there's no invisible dragon in my garage."
That is still begging the question. Is there a sqidooddle in your garage? More accurately. Is there a squidoodle somewhere?
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Old 16th May 2018, 10:16 AM   #311
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
That is still begging the question. Is there a sqidooddle in your garage? More accurately. Is there a squidoodle somewhere?
I don't get what exactly you're trying to gotcha me with here.

I get the whole cutesy poo "God is undefined" angle you're going for, but I don't care.

There is no version of anything that the term "God" applies to that has any evidence for existence that isn't definitonal special pleading.
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Old 16th May 2018, 10:39 AM   #312
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
I don't get what exactly you're trying to gotcha me with here.

I get the whole cutesy poo "God is undefined" angle you're going for, but I don't care.

There is no version of anything that the term "God" applies to that has any evidence for existence that isn't definitonal special pleading.
Yet again, it's not a gotcha. Do you consider it a special pleading to require some kind of definition in order to even understand what kind of ******* evidence to look for?

I get your cutesy-poo 'if you can't take a picture of it, it doesn't exist' angle you are going for. Under what logic can you claim to evaluate what you cannot come up with even a vague definition for?
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Old 16th May 2018, 10:42 AM   #313
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'Does god exist?' is not a logical question to consider. Hence, agnosticism.
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Old 16th May 2018, 10:46 AM   #314
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So that's the angle? I can't give a definitive "God doesn't exist" until the people who claim God exists define him enough to satisfy a third party?
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Old 16th May 2018, 11:05 AM   #315
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No. Opining authoritatively on squidoodles is not a logical position.

You are oversimplifying god to the Sunday school version. All well and good, we can all agree on the singing angels thing not being observable, etc. But you can't agree that when trying to pin down what exactly we are trying to prove, it becomes undefinable, and so inarguable (one way or the other)? I'm with you on no pitchforked hell or streets paved with gold. But how can you logically opine on the indefinable/logical absurdity?
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Old 16th May 2018, 11:19 AM   #316
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Okay so the theists can just win the argument forever by playing the "Infinite God of Variable Vagueness Game."

I'm not letting them play this game or let anyone else play it for them by proxy, where they define God just enough to be this amorphous argument they can spread like Spackle into any argument they wish but go run behind "It's undefined" whenever they are asked to support it or provide evidence for it.

And that's even assuming the "I can get out of providing evidence for something by either not defining it or pretending I haven't defined it." argument makes sense, which it doesn't.

I'm perfectly happy to say a "Squidoodle" doesn't exist until such a time as you define it to mean something reasonable and falsifiable. I don't play word games, much less on a manufactured technicality.

I'm perfectly intellectually justified in a negative statement about something that's undefined as I am about something that's unsupported.
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Old 16th May 2018, 11:28 AM   #317
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You're intellectually OK...with affirmatively denying the existence... of something that you have no idea...what it is ...

Okey doke.
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Old 16th May 2018, 11:34 AM   #318
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Originally Posted by Thermal View Post
You're intellectually OK...with affirmatively denying the existence... of something that you have no idea...what it is ...

Okey doke.
No it's recognizing an argumentative game for what it is and refusing to play it.

Nobody actually argues for the existence of something they haven't defined. Theist aren't walking around worshiping an undefined God.

You're mistaking or deliberately confusing undefined for conveniently "not" defined.

Making up a word and going "prove that isn't so" isn't nearly as clever as you think it is nor anywhere near as relevant to the discussion as you think it is.
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Old 16th May 2018, 12:30 PM   #319
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
No it's recognizing an argumentative game for what it is and refusing to play it.
No. Its not a game. It is an honest, reasoned POV. Just because you disagree does not mean you are correct and all others are just playing games. That is supremely arrogant.

Quote:
Nobody actually argues for the existence of something they haven't defined.
Yet here we are.

Quote:
Theist aren't walking around worshiping an undefined God.
Where a true believers head is at is of little interest to me. They do not take anything resembling g a rational position. Why, they think they can opine authoritatively on the incomprehensible. Can you imagine such hubris?

Quote:
You're mistaking or deliberately confusing undefined for conveniently "not" defined.

Making up a word and going "prove that isn't so" isn't nearly as clever as you think it is nor anywhere near as relevant to the discussion as you think it is.
Your psychic powers are failing. It is not an attempt at being clever. I am sledgehammering a point you seem determined to try and argue around. An agnostic considers the question unknown or the answer unknowable. Your parade of strawmen, whether Spiderman or blue chairs, does not change that.
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Old 16th May 2018, 01:59 PM   #320
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Originally Posted by JoeMorgue View Post
Nobody actually argues for the existence of something they haven't defined. Theist aren't walking around worshiping an undefined God.
I can't resist posting Zelazny's possibly proper death litany from Creatures of Light and Darkness
Quote:
Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.
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