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Tags agnosticism , agnosticism definitions , atheism , atheism definitions

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Old 4th May 2015, 06:33 AM   #1
Chanakya

 
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Would non-theistic “woo” lie outside the purview of “atheism”?

We have two distinct meanings of the word “atheist”.

Historically, the word “atheist” referred to someone who believes there is no god. Again, historically, the word “agnostic” was used to denote someone who chooses not to take any position on the issue.

The modern meaning of “atheist” (or at least, the meaning often—although by no means exclusively—encountered these days) is broader. This second meaning indicates someone who is “not a theist”, that is, someone who does not share the theist’s belief in some deity. The “default position”, as many have argued in many different threads in this forum itself. And you have the categories within this broad group (of “atheist”) : soft, hard, positive, negative, all that. And “agnosticism”, in this classification, addresses a whole different dimension (of knowledge, as opposed to belief).

One argument made for the latter classification is that it is more intuitive, as well as more “correct” (that is, their meanings can be directly adduced or derived from their word roots). Not that we don’t have words that today carry meanings very different from their etymological roots, but there can be no gainsaying that the words “atheist” and “agnostic”, taken literally (per their etymology), do carry the meanings that the second (“modern”) classification vests them with.

Following that argument (about etymology), then, here is my question : Would the atheist (in so far as he or she is an atheist) be justified in having any view at all on “woo” that does not necessarily involve deities?

There are traditions that emphasize the (alleged) experiential aspect of their “practices”. (One obvious example would be some Theravadin Buddhist traditions. We can also think of elements within decidedly theistic traditions like Christianity and Islam, which are themselves not necessarily deistic. I refer to the [allegedly] experiential elements within Christian and Sufi traditions.)

Certainly all of this is “woo”, all of it, since this is stuff that no one has actually proved objectively. Nevertheless, “woo” that is non-deistic in nature, would that be outside the purview of “atheism” per se?

(And to be clear : I’m not plugging for this kind of non-deistic woo. I’m merely trying to be fully clear about what it means to be an atheist, per this second broader definition.)

The atheist may still reject such woo, of course, since the atheist is often/usually a skeptic and an rationalist : but would it be right to say that the statement “I am an atheist” says nothing at all about my position as regards non-deistic “woo”? (Just as to say “I am an atheist” says nothing directly at all about my position as regards the existence of the Loch Ness monster, or as regards the existence of leprechauns.)

(To repeat : I’m going here by the “modern” and broader usage of the word “atheist”, as opposed to its older, historical meaning—which historical meaning is also, I know, the current meaning for very many people, but that narrower definition is not what I’m referring to at this time.)

P.S. Hi all! New member, just started posting today. Hope I've not messed up by posting in the wrong sub-forum! ("General Skepticism" doesn't seem quite apt, because this is "just" semantics I guess -- not that semantics and words and definitions are necessarily unimportant -- but I couldn't find any other sub-forum where which might be a better fit).
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Old 4th May 2015, 08:25 AM   #2
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I am an atheist, in what you define as the older sense, and it is a logical result of my rationalist skeptical mindset. I was not born an atheist, as in nobody is really born something.

However, despite a moderately religious upbringing, certain factors -- predominantly an addiction to books and an irritating habit of asking questions -- lead me towards the path I follow. Rational skepticism, for better or worse, governs my approach to both deistic and non-deistic beliefs.
I guess in the end, it is a question of whether the atheism is a result of rationalist skepticism. I think in a majority of cases, this is true, for the simple reason that I am not unique (is that reverse narcisism?)

However, there may be those who claim atheism just to be able to hang out with the chicks...
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Old 4th May 2015, 08:49 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
<...>

The atheist may still reject such woo, of course, since the atheist is often/usually a skeptic and an rationalist : but would it be right to say that the statement “I am an atheist” says nothing at all about my position as regards non-deistic “woo”? (Just as to say “I am an atheist” says nothing directly at all about my position as regards the existence of the Loch Ness monster, or as regards the existence of leprechauns.)

<...>
(ignoring the etymology discussion which was a dead horse back on alt.atheism in its heyday)

I worked with a fellow who was an an atheist in the hard atheist sense (there are no gods of any sort anywhere). One day I accidentally opened my umbrella inside the building. He asked me if I wanted him to cast a spell on me to ward off bad luck.

There are different ways of coming to atheism, and not all of them start with (or even involve) rationalism. I mean, obviously there is no god, otherwise he/she/it/they would put a stop to the government trying to prepare the way for the reptilian alien invasion by spraying us with chemtrails, amiright?
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Old 4th May 2015, 09:32 AM   #4
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Hello, have atheism. The gnosts are also pretty good. Have a nother.

To your question. Would an atheist (lack belief in gods) have an atheistic say in anything lacking gods? No, per the definition. Would a human with a brain full of baskets stuffed with cases jammed with notions? Yeah. I could get snarky about anything, gods or no.
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Old 4th May 2015, 09:39 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Susheel View Post
I am an atheist, in what you define as the older sense, and it is a logical result of my rationalist skeptical mindset. I was not born an atheist, as in nobody is really born something.

However, despite a moderately religious upbringing, certain factors -- predominantly an addiction to books and an irritating habit of asking questions -- lead me towards the path I follow. Rational skepticism, for better or worse, governs my approach to both deistic and non-deistic beliefs.
I guess in the end, it is a question of whether the atheism is a result of rationalist skepticism. I think in a majority of cases, this is true, for the simple reason that I am not unique (is that reverse narcisism?)

However, there may be those who claim atheism just to be able to hang out with the chicks...
And what more rational reason can there be to claim anything, atheism included, than to hang out with the chicks?
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Old 4th May 2015, 09:47 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Joe Random View Post
(ignoring the etymology discussion which was a dead horse back on alt.atheism in its heyday)

I worked with a fellow who was an an atheist in the hard atheist sense (there are no gods of any sort anywhere). One day I accidentally opened my umbrella inside the building. He asked me if I wanted him to cast a spell on me to ward off bad luck.

There are different ways of coming to atheism, and not all of them start with (or even involve) rationalism. I mean, obviously there is no god, otherwise he/she/it/they would put a stop to the government trying to prepare the way for the reptilian alien invasion by spraying us with chemtrails, amiright?
Interesting co-worker! Work gets boring, you can always flip open your umbrella, or sneeze, or send them a graphic of a black cat walking across the screen or something!

Incidentally, you are quite right when you say that there are ways of coming to atheism that don't involve rationalism. I personally know of such. (Although I suppose by far the majority of atheist parents would, having themselves arrived at their atheism rationally, be careful about inculcating rationalism and skepticism (as opposed to atheism itself, which ought to be [one of the] end result[s] of rationalism) in their children.)
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Old 4th May 2015, 09:55 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by Donn View Post
Hello, have atheism. The gnosts are also pretty good. Have a nother.

To your question. Would an atheist (lack belief in gods) have an atheistic say in anything lacking gods? No, per the definition. Would a human with a brain full of baskets stuffed with cases jammed with notions? Yeah. I could get snarky about anything, gods or no.

Sure, I agree.

It's just that this question, though old and probably beaten around a lot, has by no means been settled yet. This forum itself often has people quibbling (I mean debating) about which classification is "better".

In fact that is how I first came across this site, when "researching", via Google-fu, different ideas on the atheism-agnosticism debate.

And I don't remember seeing this aspect of the issue touched on, either here in this forum, or elsewhere.

I'd imagine that the earlier definition, although narrower in one resepect, would be broader in this respect, in that it would (probably) legimitately this rejection of non-deistic woo as well.

(Probably, I say. I mean since that classification didn't/doesn't presume to stick to etymology anyway.)
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Old 5th May 2015, 06:39 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Would the atheist (in so far as he or she is an atheist) be justified in having any view at all on “woo” that does not necessarily involve deities?
No, obviously not. I have met several people who believe in ghosts, reincarnation, or healing powers that do not believe in gods. A non-belief in anything is not incompatible with belief in other things. Just like you can have skeptics who believe in God.

Personally, I do not really understand all these distinctions of atheism. Any rational person knows that there are limits to what one can know for certain, so it follows that it is impossible to be absolutely certain that there are no gods - unless you have an unfounded (religious) belief that gods do not exist. But the everyday certainty that is close to 100%, but not quite 100%, can be easily justified. Does that make one a "hard" or a "soft" atheist?. Those professed "hard" atheists that I have talked to, very well know that one can never rule out a god-in-the-gaps with absolute certainty, so that would make them "soft" atheists, right?

Likewise, I do not understand agnostics. Not having a position usually translates to having a position but being open to change it. I have known two professed agnostics in my life, and none was ever going to church, which make me believe that they are actually atheists. I own a book written by an agnostic who openly admits that he does not believe in God - but he would dearly like to! Again, that makes him an atheist in my view.
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Old 5th May 2015, 07:51 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
No, obviously not. I have met several people who believe in ghosts, reincarnation, or healing powers that do not believe in gods. A non-belief in anything is not incompatible with belief in other things. Just like you can have skeptics who believe in God.

Personally, I do not really understand all these distinctions of atheism. Any rational person knows that there are limits to what one can know for certain, so it follows that it is impossible to be absolutely certain that there are no gods - unless you have an unfounded (religious) belief that gods do not exist. But the everyday certainty that is close to 100%, but not quite 100%, can be easily justified. Does that make one a "hard" or a "soft" atheist?. Those professed "hard" atheists that I have talked to, very well know that one can never rule out a god-in-the-gaps with absolute certainty, so that would make them "soft" atheists, right?

Likewise, I do not understand agnostics. Not having a position usually translates to having a position but being open to change it. I have known two professed agnostics in my life, and none was ever going to church, which make me believe that they are actually atheists. I own a book written by an agnostic who openly admits that he does not believe in God - but he would dearly like to! Again, that makes him an atheist in my view.

I guess all rationalists would be open to change if rationality so dictated at some future time. (Irrespective of whether such rationalist self-described as atheist, or as agnostic, or as theist.)

I have a very dear friend, who's (Theravadin) Buddhist. The orthodox variety, that eschews all mumbo jumbo, but takes very seriously the jhanas and shunyas and all that sort of thing. So how do our classifications deal with this lady?

The "modern" classification would, I imagine, have nothing to say. Outside purview of discussion, is all.

The traditional classification would (probably) apply, and the atheist (traditionally defined) would probably brush off these beliefs quite as easily as they would brush off the more oafish deistic beliefs.

The position I find reasonable in dealing with this question (as opposed to questions about a monotheistic god with flowing white beard) is the same as how I'd look at the possibility of encountering advanced civilizations out there. It's possible, I suppose. Lots of things are possible. And I'd need to know a great deal more about this subject than I do to hold any kind of view on this. But this much I can say : until I see evidence it's definitely sci fi, no more. And thus far that evidence has not been forthcoming. (Neither for super aliens, nor for my friend's jhana states.)
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Old 5th May 2015, 08:21 AM   #10
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As I understand it, there are two broad classifications of agnostics, those who believe that the existence of gods cannot be known with our current knowledge but might be known in the future, and those who believe the existence of gods can never, by definition, be known.

An atheist would say that the existence of gods can be known right now (they don't exist, either all of 'em, or just the ones he's been told of).
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Old 5th May 2015, 08:32 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Pup View Post
As I understand it, there are two broad classifications of agnostics, those who believe that the existence of gods cannot be known with our current knowledge but might be known in the future, and those who believe the existence of gods can never, by definition, be known.

An atheist would say that the existence of gods can be known right now (they don't exist, either all of 'em, or just the ones he's been told of).

Hey, Pup.

"the existence of gods can never ... be known" doesn't sound like a statement that might stand up to proper skeptical examination. I mean, one would need to back that up, isn't it?

"cannot be known with our current knowledge" sounds good, except how do we define "our"? And as for "might be known in future", well, when in the future? What about tomorrow, or next week? And if in future, why not now?

This is how Wikipedia quotes Huxley as having described the agnostic position : "Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle ... 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 sounds nice and reasonable and all stoic-ish, doesn't it? Even "scientific", if I may use that word loosely. Although I agree that that it doesn't quite comport with the literal (as in etymologically derived) meaning of the word "Agnostic".

ETA : Another reason I personally like the word "agnostic" is because it takes away the whole special status that other words give to this whole religion business. You can be agnostic to all sorts of things. You can be agnostic about extra-terrestrial technological civilizations. You can be agnostic about finding on comets traces of elements from which might support life. You can be agnostic about, well, just about anything. And yes, you can be agnostic about the god question as well. Sort of cuts god down to size, doesn't it?

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Old 5th May 2015, 08:47 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Hey, Pup.

"the existence of gods can never ... be known" doesn't sound like a statement that might stand up to proper skeptical examination. I mean, one would need to back that up, isn't it?

"cannot be known with our current knowledge" sounds good, except how do we define "our"? And as for "might be known in future", well, when in the future? What about tomorrow, or next week? And if in future, why not now?
*shrug* Not my position personally, but it does exist. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism#Types

Just about any claim of knowledge can be questioned far enough that it loses all meaning. The brain-in-a-vat trumps everything.

I would question agnosticism more along the lines of: Can one not know about the existence of all gods, or just some gods? What about a god that's given a lot of testable attributes?
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Old 5th May 2015, 08:55 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by Pup View Post
Just about any claim of knowledge can be questioned far enough that it loses all meaning. The brain-in-a-vat trumps everything.
True, that.

Originally Posted by Pup View Post
What about a god that's given a lot of testable attributes?
And that's the nub, right? It is this "testablitity" that makes a question valid, or not. Else it's all just talk anyway. For any question, not just the god question.
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Old 27th June 2017, 07:00 AM   #14
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Ah, 100 posts. Although that's chicken feed next to the 25K+ posts that some here have logged, still, I thought I'd get back to the thread where I fist put in a post here to celebrate : Cheers, fellow skeptics!


ETA : I see I'm still described here as "Scholar". I was hoping the 100 posts would have me morph into "Mighty Wise Wizard God" or something like that, but no such luck!

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Old 27th June 2017, 07:53 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Ah, 100 posts. Although that's chicken feed next to the 25K+ posts that some here have logged, still, I thought I'd get back to the thread where I fist put in a post here to celebrate : Cheers, fellow skeptics!


ETA : I see I'm still described here as "Scholar". I was hoping the 100 posts would have me morph into "Mighty Wise Wizard God" or something like that, but no such luck!
You could request a custom title, if you wanted. There is a thread for that someplace around here. Personally, I never bothered.
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Old 27th June 2017, 08:07 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
You could request a custom title, if you wanted.
Yes, I believe some people have quite complex and unusual ones. This is where you can get them, if you ask nicely and make the appropriate offerings to the title fairies.

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Old 27th June 2017, 08:18 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Yes, I believe some people have quite complex and unusual ones. This is where you can get them, if you ask nicely and make the appropriate offerings to the title fairies.

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Old 27th June 2017, 10:42 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
The irony is STRONG with this one. We must be careful.

Strong... but wholly expected.

And considering the OP already decried the existence of the little folk... I doubt the fairies will be any more accommodating, offerings or no.

Atheist or Agnostic... I'm not pedantic enough to declare. I just know I'm not leaving out any of my beer as an enticement. They can damn well just do their jobs... or not.

(out of forum existence self-preservation... I must declare I'm referring to the mythological creatures, not the purportedly real admin staff. )
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Old 27th June 2017, 03:10 PM   #19
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As I readied to post to this thread, I realized it was actually an older thread but I'll post anyway . . .

We have two distinct meanings of the word “atheist”.

From the OP
Quote:
Historically, the word “atheist” referred to someone who believes there is no god. Again, historically, the word “agnostic” was used to denote someone who chooses not to take any position on the issue.

The modern meaning of “atheist” (or at least, the meaning often—although by no means exclusively—encountered these days) is broader. This second meaning indicates someone who is “not a theist”, that is, someone who does not share the theist’s belief in some deity.
How are those two different definitions? An atheist has always meant "not a theist;" it's right there in the word itself. I'm not sure how the idea that there is a broader "modern definition" is a helpful concept.

Same for agnostic -it's just someone who considers the truth about god "unknowable" for whatever reason.

There are as many variations of those definitions as there are people. To a Christian, atheist = evil antichrist, probably.

But an atheist can certainly harbor beliefs in other woo that doesn't require a god. A belief in ghosts, even, doesn't necessarily depend on a belief in a theistically dominated afterlife.
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Old 28th June 2017, 07:01 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
You could request a custom title, if you wanted. There is a thread for that someplace around here. Personally, I never bothered.

I was only kidding, mock-protesting. I did wonder, seeing people here sporting all sorts of titles, and also having observed my own title change from Student to Scholar, but no big deal.

But thanks, abaddon, for pointing out the custom title option.
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Old 28th June 2017, 07:13 AM   #21
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Custom title

Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
Yes, I believe some people have quite complex and unusual ones. This is where you can get them, if you ask nicely and make the appropriate offerings to the title fairies.

Dave

Thanks Dave!

I was just saying to adaddon, just now, that I was kidding about wanting a snazzier title, but when you pointed me to that thread, and I found I wouldn't be the only member looking silly wanting to dress up in fancy togs (there are 50+ pages to that thread, so I have lots of company!), off I went and asked them to designate me "White Wizard".

Yours, incidentally, looks curious. I'm not sure I could even decipher it! What, if anything, does it mean?

Anyway, thanks!
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Old 28th June 2017, 07:23 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
As I readied to post to this thread, I realized it was actually an older thread but I'll post anyway

(. . .)

But an atheist can certainly harbor beliefs in other woo that doesn't require a god. A belief in ghosts, even, doesn't necessarily depend on a belief in a theistically dominated afterlife.

Yes well, that ‘issue’ (non-issue?) I’ve figured out to my satisfaction. I'd been wondering, back then, if religious ideas that aren’t necessarily deistic would apply to atheism, and I’d started this thread to basically work out that answer. And the answer’s entirely obvious (now that I *have* worked it out) : as you say, only literally theistic beliefs count when deciding if one’s an atheist. Sounds obvious enough, now, but it also means that you can have atheists who are literally religious.


Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
(...) How are those two different definitions? An atheist has always meant "not a theist;" it's right there in the word itself. I'm not sure how the idea that there is a broader "modern definition" is a helpful concept. (...)

Hard atheism and soft atheism. And the latter is much more reasonable (and defensible) than the former.


Originally Posted by xjx388 View Post
(...) Same for agnostic -it's just someone who considers the truth about god "unknowable" for whatever reason. (...)

Not necessarily. Although the word started out with the meaning you attribute it, today it also covers the far more reasonable sense of simply “not known’ (as opposed to “unknowable”). Dawkins has a pretty detailed discussion about this in his God Delusion, and I agree with what he says, that claiming that God is “unknowable” (and always will be “unknowable”) is almost as weird as claiming he exists.
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Old 28th June 2017, 07:29 AM   #23
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I don't understand the question. Atheism is a position on the existence of gods. Anything else is not atheism, by definition, even if it shares some attributes.

That's like asking if nut allergies are outside the purview of lactose intolerance.
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Old 28th June 2017, 07:34 AM   #24
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Answering the question "What is the case?" is the skeptic's approach and lifelong endeavor, and if reliable knowledge is sought, the quest inevitably leads to science as method and the natural world as object, which simply means theism never arises as a hypothesis. Woo gets slaughtered, basically, all along the way.
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Old 28th June 2017, 07:42 AM   #25
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Hey, Pup.

"the existence of gods can never ... be known" doesn't sound like a statement that might stand up to proper skeptical examination. I mean, one would need to back that up, isn't it?


...snip...
Provide a definition of "god" that is used by any actual religion and I bet you can say 100% no such god exists or that there is zero evidence for such a god existence.
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Old 28th June 2017, 07:49 AM   #26
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Originally Posted by Porpoise of Life View Post
I don't understand the question. Atheism is a position on the existence of gods. Anything else is not atheism, by definition, even if it shares some attributes.

That's like asking if nut allergies are outside the purview of lactose intolerance.

It is, actually. The comparison you make isn't inapt. Think of it as someone new to medical terminology trying out different medical terms, and ending up with somewhat silly questions about such terms, to begin with.

Incidentally, back then, the context had been this : a friend of mine is very religious and traditional, only that tradition happens not to posit gods. Would she, too, then be an atheist, is what I'd been wondering. (She herself was repelled by the term 'atheist', incidentally.)

And the answer to the question is a resounding Yes, that's obvious to me now. Irrespective of her dislike for the term, an atheist is exactly what she is (albeit a religious one).
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Old 28th June 2017, 07:58 AM   #27
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Originally Posted by Darat View Post
Provide a definition of "god" that is used by any actual religion and I bet you can say 100% no such god exists or that there is zero evidence for such a god existence.

Probably true (the latter at least, the soft atheism routine, although probably not necessarily the former, the hard atheism position), but how does that bear on Pup's statement (which was just one of his definitions of agnosticism, and not his actual worldview) that "the existence of gods can never, by definition, be known" ? That statement, to me, sounds as weird (a positive claim that you'd need to back up, but can't) as outright acceptance of some God-position. (Unless you specifically define God in such terms, in Advaitic terms for instance, but that would be a special case.)
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Old 28th June 2017, 09:24 AM   #28
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Yours, incidentally, looks curious. I'm not sure I could even decipher it! What, if anything, does it mean?
It's an obscure sci-fi comic reference, which so far IIRC only one other member has identified.

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Old 28th June 2017, 10:01 AM   #29
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post
It's an obscure sci-fi comic reference, which so far IIRC only one other member has identified.

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Old 28th June 2017, 01:02 PM   #30
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Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
Make that two. Shall I polish my Halo?


Dave
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Me: So what you're saying is that, if the load carrying ability of the lower structure is reduced to the point where it can no longer support the load above it, it will collapse without a jolt, right?

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Old 28th June 2017, 01:08 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by Dave Rogers View Post


Dave
LOL. Avid reader back in the day, I'm afraid. Karl Urban's <bleep> was one movie that really deserved a sequel.

ETA: Just keeping your secret. LOL
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Old 28th June 2017, 02:22 PM   #32
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woo inside wouldn't fall into the purview either because and I say this knowing you full well know it already.
Atheism only deals with one specific thing, The rejection of the claim a god or gods exist.

Anything after that is whatever falls into your skeptical net.
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Old 4th July 2017, 06:05 AM   #33
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Originally Posted by Nay_Sayer View Post
woo inside wouldn't fall into the purview either because and I say this knowing you full well know it already.
Atheism only deals with one specific thing, The rejection of the claim a god or gods exist.

Anything after that is whatever falls into your skeptical net.

I’m not sure I got that highlighted part. Could you clarify?




Incidentally (and this is a bit of derail, but this thread’s done anyway, more or less, so perhaps that won’t matter much), I’m wondering if there are any actual skeptics who are also theists, and if there are, how they pull it off.

No derision implied for the religious, just curiosity : If any theist on this forum happens to read this, could you tell me how you reconcile your theism with your skepticism? Do you consciously turn it off, the skepticism, when it comes to that one question?
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Old 4th July 2017, 06:26 AM   #34
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
No derision implied for the religious, just curiosity : If any theist on this forum happens to read this, could you tell me how you reconcile your theism with your skepticism? Do you consciously turn it off, the skepticism, when it comes to that one question?
I used to be a theist in my youth half a century ago, but my god did not interfere in anything, so there was no conflict with science. Supported by my Catholic teachers, I did not think that the Bible needed to be taken literally, and I thought that God, being omniscient, had created the world just so that the Big Bang would eventually form the Earth, and eventually form humans through evolution. God did not need to govern evolution, because he had known all the time that if he started the Big Bang in exactly this way, then humans would appear eventually.

Adam and Eve were just stories. At the time I thought they were nice stories, but later I found that God's behaviour in them were horrible examples of how an omniscient Father can treat his children, and this was one of many reasons why my faith gradually died.

Literalists have a lot more problems with science, and I have no idea how they handle the cognitive dissonance.
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Old 4th July 2017, 06:43 AM   #35
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
I used to be a theist in my youth half a century ago, but my god did not interfere in anything, so there was no conflict with science. Supported by my Catholic teachers, I did not think that the Bible needed to be taken literally, and I thought that God, being omniscient, had created the world just so that the Big Bang would eventually form the Earth, and eventually form humans through evolution. God did not need to govern evolution, because he had known all the time that if he started the Big Bang in exactly this way, then humans would appear eventually.

Adam and Eve were just stories. At the time I thought they were nice stories, but later I found that God's behaviour in them were horrible examples of how an omniscient Father can treat his children, and this was one of many reasons why my faith gradually died.

Literalists have a lot more problems with science, and I have no idea how they handle the cognitive dissonance.

Thanks for sharing, steenkh. So basically you'd not really looked at religion itself, the God question, with skepticism, is that right? Not overly criticially, that is. You know, the whole where's-the-evidence routine?

You speak in the past tense. Had you been generally skeptical back in those days? Did you consciously make an exception when it came to God's existence, you know, about God's omniscience, and even about his existence? And how'd you grow out of your faith?

Incidentally, science itself need not, neither that formalized structure nor its actual results, necessarily come into play every time, isn't it? And the less-than-nice biblical God is also probably not central to being rejected from a skeptical perspective, right?
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Old 4th July 2017, 06:46 AM   #36
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
And what more rational reason can there be to claim anything, atheism included, than to hang out with the chicks?
Andrea Dworkin. Valarie Solanas. Maybe I misunderstood the question.
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Old 4th July 2017, 06:57 AM   #37
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
Andrea Dworkin. Valarie Solanas. Maybe I misunderstood the question.
Just half-kidding. Taking somewhat different-from-the-mainstream positions, even as a pose, can sometimes help you score, right? Make you stand out from the herd? (Unfortunately I myself came to my non-belief only after I'd outgrown the necessity/desire to go out and "score" all over again. And back when scoring was one of the Very Important Things in life, I hadn't even thought about all this, nor had the wits to strike this particular pose.)
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Old 5th July 2017, 07:18 AM   #38
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
Thanks for sharing, steenkh. So basically you'd not really looked at religion itself, the God question, with skepticism, is that right? Not overly criticially, that is. You know, the whole where's-the-evidence routine?

You speak in the past tense. Had you been generally skeptical back in those days? Did you consciously make an exception when it came to God's existence, you know, about God's omniscience, and even about his existence? And how'd you grow out of your faith?
I was a child, and children generally accept what they are told. Criticism came with age and knowledge. Like a true god-of-the-gaps, God gradually retreated from every position that he used to hold, and I did not even notice when it happened. I came regularly in church (the only one in my family to do so), even though my faith in the official dogma were the first to go: I had no enmity, and I saw a lot of good people wanting to do good, and my teachers definitely were not Roman Catholic fundamentalists (being rather young, I never discussed stuff like contraception or homosexuality with them).

I never had a crisis of faith because my faith just evaporated, and I did not notice it. When I graduated, I moved from my home, I gave up my volunteer job at the church, realised that I had not believed for a long time, and started thinking critically about it all for the first time.

Quote:
Incidentally, science itself need not, neither that formalized structure nor its actual results, necessarily come into play every time, isn't it?
No, lots can be achieved by logic and common sense. You just need to look at faith in an unbiased way.

Quote:
And the less-than-nice biblical God is also probably not central to being rejected from a skeptical perspective, right?
I disagree, and that was why I wrote the original post against the OP: Any specific religion can be dismissed when you look at its central claims, but religion in general, as long as it does not conflict with what can be observed.

It is possible to believe in Last-Thursdayism (the belief that the world was created last Thursday complete with humans and memories) or that the world really was created a few thousand years ago, as described in the Bible, God just fooled us by placing all that evidence that the world is older. Science cannot disprove such silliness, but fortunately, even the believers find it silly, and they cannot believe that their gods would lie to them in that fashion.

As I said, science relies on unchangeable laws of nature, and there is no way scientifically to counter the belief that millions of elfs, or an omnipotent God are enforcing these laws, and can choose not to do so at any moment. Science can only point out that never in history has any of the fundamental laws been changed, and that the probability for the existence of gods and elfs must be ridiculously low.
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Old 5th July 2017, 12:22 PM   #39
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Originally Posted by Chanakya View Post
I’m not sure I got that highlighted part. Could you clarify?




Incidentally (and this is a bit of derail, but this thread’s done anyway, more or less, so perhaps that won’t matter much), I’m wondering if there are any actual skeptics who are also theists, and if there are, how they pull it off.

No derision implied for the religious, just curiosity : If any theist on this forum happens to read this, could you tell me how you reconcile your theism with your skepticism? Do you consciously turn it off, the skepticism, when it comes to that one question?

If a theist presents woo, It does not fall under the atheist umbrella because Atheism only deals with one specific claim.

For example, a pastor might say he was abducted by aliens and you may find an Atheist who agrees aliens abduct people and believes the guy.

As for your second question, it's a really good one. I have heard it explained to me that theists may create a special blind spot in their minds for religion in which skeptical inquiry is never allowed to permeate.
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Old 7th July 2017, 06:50 AM   #40
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Originally Posted by steenkh View Post
I was a child, and children generally accept what they are told. Criticism came with age and knowledge. Like a true god-of-the-gaps, God gradually retreated from every position that he used to hold, and I did not even notice when it happened. I came regularly in church (the only one in my family to do so), even though my faith in the official dogma were the first to go: I had no enmity, and I saw a lot of good people wanting to do good, and my teachers definitely were not Roman Catholic fundamentalists (being rather young, I never discussed stuff like contraception or homosexuality with them).

I never had a crisis of faith because my faith just evaporated, and I did not notice it. When I graduated, I moved from my home, I gave up my volunteer job at the church, realised that I had not believed for a long time, and started thinking critically about it all for the first time.

(...)
Right. So there never was a time when you were generally skeptical, yet religious.

That's the reasonable position, I'd say. Either this or that. Yet there are those who claim to be skeptical, and nevertheless remain theistic. I was wondering how exactly they pull it off.
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