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Tags agnosticism , atheism

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Old 27th February 2015, 02:42 PM   #1
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Agnosticism is Atheism in Denial

To say it can't be known whether gods actually exist or not is to be an atheist. Atheism doesn't require knowledge of the non-existence of gods, it merely doesn't accept unsubstantiated theistic beliefs that claim gods actually exist. Theism doesn't require knowledge of the actual existence of gods, it merely accepts unsubstantiated beliefs that claim gods actually exist.
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Old 27th February 2015, 03:13 PM   #2
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As far as I'm concerned there are two answers to the question "Do you believe a god(s) exist?" If the answer is anything but yes than you're an atheist.

I have a feeling this thread will be more about how people choose to label themselves.
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Old 27th February 2015, 03:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Nay_Sayer View Post
As far as I'm concerned there are two answers to the question "Do you believe a god(s) exist?" If the answer is anything but yes than you're an atheist.

I have a feeling this thread will be more about how people choose to label themselves.
Exactly. The question isn't "CAN you believe a god actually exists?" It’s "DO you believe a god actually exists?"

Besides - If you can't, then by default you don't.
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Old 27th February 2015, 04:21 PM   #4
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<sigh>

Agnostic is a term descriptive of knowledge.

Atheism is a term descriptive of faith.

One can be a Gnostic Theist, Agnostic Theist, Gnostic Atheist or Agnostic Atheist.

Anyone not understanding this needs a lesson in linguistics and basic philosophy.

I mean, seriously, how many times does this have to be explained?

Buy a dictionary.
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Old 27th February 2015, 04:56 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by wollery View Post
<sigh>

Agnostic is a term descriptive of knowledge.

Atheism is a term descriptive of faith.

One can be a Gnostic Theist, Agnostic Theist, Gnostic Atheist or Agnostic Atheist.

Anyone not understanding this needs a lesson in linguistics and basic philosophy.

I mean, seriously, how many times does this have to be explained?

Buy a dictionary.
I'm well aware of the Knowledge/Belief difference, I even have a handy chart.

http://i1.wp.com/2.bp.blogspot.com/_...ic_Atheist.png

What the op is saying is that people who label themselves agnostic are also by proxy atheists.
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:12 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by wollery View Post
<sigh>

Agnostic is a term descriptive of knowledge.

Atheism is a term descriptive of faith.

One can be a Gnostic Theist, Agnostic Theist, Gnostic Atheist or Agnostic Atheist.

Anyone not understanding this needs a lesson in linguistics and basic philosophy.

I mean, seriously, how many times does this have to be explained?

Buy a dictionary.
Should I take my philosophy lesson from philosopher William L. Rowe?

“In the popular sense of the term, an "agnostic", according to the philosopher William L. Rowe, is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of God”
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:20 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by Nay_Sayer View Post
What the op is saying is that people who label themselves agnostic are also by proxy atheists.
Really, because that wasn't what the OP actually said -

Originally Posted by ynot View Post
To say it can't be known whether gods actually exist or not is to be an atheist.
I've known several agnostic theists, including a Catholic monk and a Jesuit priest, both of whom were quite clear on the point that they didn't, and indeed couldn't, know if God actually existed, but took it purely on faith.

Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Should I take my philosophy lesson from philosopher William L. Rowe?

ďIn the popular sense of the term, an "agnostic", according to the philosopher William L. Rowe, is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of GodĒ
Relevant part highlighted.
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:20 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
To say it can't be known whether gods actually exist or not is to be an atheist. Atheism doesn't require knowledge of the non-existence of gods, it merely doesn't accept unsubstantiated theistic beliefs that claim gods actually exist. Theism doesn't require knowledge of the actual existence of gods, it merely accepts unsubstantiated beliefs that claim gods actually exist.
OMFG! You're back again!


Where is that popcorn icon?
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:24 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by wollery View Post
Really, because that wasn't what the OP actually said -
Quite correct. The title should have more correctly read - "Agnostics are Atheists in Denial". And the OP could have been better written to refer only to people that claim to be "agnostics" (in the popular sense of the term of course).
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:28 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by John Jones View Post
OMFG! You're back again!


Where is that popcorn icon?
Have I been here before? . . . Bloody Alzheimerís.
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:28 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by wollery View Post
<sigh>

Agnostic is a term descriptive of knowledge.

Atheism is a term descriptive of faith. Belief might be a better term to use here.

One can be a Gnostic Theist, Agnostic Theist, Gnostic Atheist or Agnostic Atheist.

Anyone not understanding this needs a lesson in linguistics and basic philosophy.

I mean, seriously, how many times does this have to be explained?

Buy a dictionary.
An atheist might believe there is no God (faith) or not believe there is a God. (knowledge)
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:35 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by MontagK505 View Post
An atheist might believe there is no God (faith) or not believe there is a God. (knowledge)
Neither of those is a statement of knowledge, they are both statements of belief (or lack thereof).
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:39 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by MontagK505 View Post
An atheist might believe there is no God (faith) or not believe there is a God. (knowledge)
I wouldn't call complete lack of credible evidence for a god, complete lack of credible reason for a god, and complete lack of scientific possibility for a god a belief of mere faith.
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:50 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Nay_Sayer View Post
As far as I'm concerned there are two answers to the question "Do you believe a god(s) exist?" If the answer is anything but yes than you're an atheist.

I have a feeling this thread will be more about how people choose to label themselves.
I don't have a belief one way or the other. It's like asking me, do you believe there is intelligent life on another planet? I simply don't have enough knowlege to come to a conclusive belief. Even if you put a gun to my head, id be hard pressed to answer (i guess i would answer in the way most likely to keep you from pulling the trigger...) That's why i prefer the term 'agnostic'
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:51 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by wollery View Post
I've known several agnostic theists, including a Catholic monk and a Jesuit priest, both of whom were quite clear on the point that they didn't, and indeed couldn't, know if God actually existed, but took it purely on faith.
True. It should have read something like Ė ďAgnostics that claim they neither believe nor disbelieve in the existence of God are atheists by default as they donít have a belief in the existence of God.Ē
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:54 PM   #16
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So, you're saying that your OP should have read "Agnostics who are also atheists are atheists by default".

Well, that's cleared that up then...
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:56 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
To say it can't be known whether gods actually exist or not is to be an atheist.
Not true. Many theists claim that the existence of God must be taken on faith alone, and that you can't know whether or not God exists. These are agnostic theists.

(ETA: I see you posted something to this effect while I was composing this response.)

Usually the excuse they give for God withholding evidence of his existence is that to prove he exists would take away your free choice to choose whether or not to believe in him.

Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Atheism doesn't require knowledge of the non-existence of gods, it merely doesn't accept unsubstantiated theistic beliefs that claim gods actually exist. Theism doesn't require knowledge of the actual existence of gods, it merely accepts unsubstantiated beliefs that claim gods actually exist.
True.

Agnosticism is a position about whether or not these claims of God are substantiated. Atheism is a position about whether or not these claims are true. These are positions on two different things, as Wollery pointed out.

So your assertion that agnosticism is "atheism in denial" is false.

Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Should I take my philosophy lesson from philosopher William L. Rowe?

“In the popular sense of the term, an "agnostic", according to the philosopher William L. Rowe, is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of God”
That's how Thomas Huxley originally defined the term, and some people still use that definition today.

But lack of belief or disbelief in God is now known as "soft atheism" (or "weak atheism" or "negative atheism", depending on who you're talking to).

Actual disbelief in God is known as "hard atheism" (or "strong atheism" or "positive atheism", depending on who you're talking to).

Originally Posted by wollery View Post
Buy a dictionary.
Sadly, many dictionaries give very poor definitions for atheism.

Here's the definition from Webster's:
Quote:
atheism
noun athe∑ism \ˈā-thē-ˌi-zəm\

Definition of ATHEISM
1. archaic : ungodliness, wickedness
2.
a : a disbelief in the existence of deity
b : the doctrine that there is no deity
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:58 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by stanfr View Post
I don't have a belief one way or the other. It's like asking me, do you believe there is intelligent life on another planet? I simply don't have enough knowlege to come to a conclusive belief. Even if you put a gun to my head, id be hard pressed to answer (i guess i would answer in the way most likely to keep you from pulling the trigger...) That's why i prefer the term 'agnostic'
But if there were people that believe there is intelligent life on other planets despite the lack of credible evidence (letís call them ďalienistsĒ), and then there is people that donít accept that belief (letís call them ďa-alienistsĒ), would an a-alienist be any different than an ďagnostic-alienistĒ?
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Old 27th February 2015, 05:59 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
But if there were people that believe there is intelligent life on other planets despite the lack of credible evidence (letís call them ďalienistsĒ), and then there is people that donít accept that belief (letís call them ďa-alienistsĒ), would an a-alienist be any different than an ďagnostic-alienistĒ?
Yes.
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:00 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by Brian-M View Post
Not true. Many theists claim that the existence of God must be taken on faith alone, and that you can't know whether or not God exists. These are agnostic theists.

(ETA: I see you posted something to this effect while I was composing this response.)

Usually the excuse they give for God withholding evidence of his existence is that to prove he exists would take away your free choice to choose whether or not to believe in him.



True.

Agnosticism is a position about whether or not these claims of God are substantiated. Atheism is a position about whether or not these claims are true. These are positions on two different things, as Wollery pointed out.

So your assertion that agnosticism is "atheism in denial" is false.



That's how Thomas Huxley originally defined the term, and some people still use that definition today.

But lack of belief or disbelief in God is now known as "soft atheism" (or "weak atheism" or "negative atheism", depending on who you're talking to).

Actual disbelief in God is known as "hard atheism" (or "strong atheism" or "positive atheism", depending on who you're talking to).



Sadly, many dictionaries give very poor definitions for atheism.

Here's the definition from Webster's:
I have already admitted to my many mistake and have tried to correct them to suit my original intent.
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:01 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by wollery View Post
Yes.
In the popular sense of the term according to the philosopher William L. Rowe?

Ooops - I shouldn't have used the term "agnostic-alienist". It's just that agnostic didn't fit with the alien theme. So I meant an agnostic type term (in the popular sense) that purely means "I don't have a belief one way or the other". Which is essentially saying the same as atheists do - "I don't have a belief in a god".
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:05 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
But if there were people that believe there is intelligent life on other planets despite the lack of credible evidence (letís call them ďalienistsĒ), and then there is people that donít accept that belief (letís call them ďa-alienistsĒ), would an a-alienist be any different than an ďagnostic-alienistĒ?
That depends on whether or not they're taking the "hard" analienist position that there definitely is no life on other planets.
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:08 PM   #23
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By William L. Rowe's definition, as provided by you earlier, agnostic means lacking belief, so an agnostic alienist is by definition an a-alienist. That's why that definition is crap for the purposes you intend to use it for.

You define alienist as someone believing in aliens, then use a definition of agnostic that includes non-belief. There can therefore be no such thing, under that definition of agnostic, as an agnostic alienist.

The definitions you use render you question meaningless.
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:10 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by stanfr View Post
I don't have a belief one way or the other.
Therefore you don't have a belief in a god. Therefore you are an atheist.

That you also don’t have a disbelief is irrelevant.
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:12 PM   #25
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Smile

Originally Posted by Brian-M View Post
That depends on whether or not they're taking the "hard" analienist position that there definitely is no life on other planets.
I like your word better than mine
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:16 PM   #26
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Originally Posted by wollery View Post
By William L. Rowe's definition, as provided by you earlier, agnostic means lacking belief, so an agnostic alienist is by definition an a-alienist. That's why that definition is crap for the purposes you intend to use it for.

You define alienist as someone believing in aliens, then use a definition of agnostic that includes non-belief. There can therefore be no such thing, under that definition of agnostic, as an agnostic alienist.

The definitions you use render you question meaningless.
.....
Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Ooops - I shouldn't have used the term "agnostic-alienist". It's just that agnostic didn't fit with the alien theme. So I meant an agnostic type term (in the popular sense) that purely means "I don't have a belief one way or the other". Which is essentially saying the same as atheists do - "I don't have a belief in a god".
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:25 PM   #27
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Originally Posted by wollery View Post
So, you're saying that your OP should have read "Agnostics who are also atheists are atheists by default".

Well, that's cleared that up then...
Atheists that use the term agnostic to describe that they can't make a decision commonly do so as if they aren't atheists.
Example . . .
Originally Posted by stanfr View Post
I don't have a belief one way or the other. It's like asking me, do you believe there is intelligent life on another planet? I simply don't have enough knowlege to come to a conclusive belief. Even if you put a gun to my head, id be hard pressed to answer (i guess i would answer in the way most likely to keep you from pulling the trigger...) That's why i prefer the term 'agnostic'
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:35 PM   #28
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Originally Posted by Brian-M View Post
That depends on whether or not they're taking the "hard" analienist position that there definitely is no life on other planets.
I don't see how you could take that position without actually closely examining all other planets. You could say: "On the question of life on other planets I am an agnostic." Most of us would define life as self-replicating biological organisms. However defining God seems to be much more vague, which might explain the very large number of opinions dealing with the definition of God vs the much smaller number of opinions dealing with the definition of life.
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Old 27th February 2015, 06:37 PM   #29
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Originally Posted by wollery View Post
So, you're saying that your OP should have read "Agnostics who are also atheists are atheists by default".

Well, that's cleared that up then...
The people that claim they are agnostics because can’t decide either way are the ones that are claiming that form of agnosticism is different than atheism, not me.
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Old 27th February 2015, 07:56 PM   #30
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"What are the facts?" - Bertrand Russell

(Insight his, emphasis mine.)
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Old 27th February 2015, 08:11 PM   #31
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
I wouldn't call complete lack of credible evidence for a god, complete lack of credible reason for a god, and complete lack of scientific possibility for a god a belief of mere faith.
...it is the very lack of evidence that makes it a "belief", in which a believer has "faith".

"...substance of things hoped for..." and all that.
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Old 27th February 2015, 08:26 PM   #32
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Originally Posted by Peregrinus View Post
"What are the facts?" - Bertrand Russell

(Insight his, emphasis mine.)
What have facts got to do with theism and atheism? The lack of facts forces theists to merely believe in god(s). Atheists donít accept that mere belief in god(s) is credible. Atheists want and ask for facts from theists, but they donít get them because they havenít got any to give.
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Old 27th February 2015, 08:37 PM   #33
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Originally Posted by Slowvehicle View Post
...it is the very lack of evidence that makes it a "belief", in which a believer has "faith".

"...substance of things hoped for..." and all that.
I was responding to this post (bolding mine) . . .
Originally Posted by MontagK505 View Post
An atheist might believe there is no God (faith)
I was pointing out that the complete lack of evidence that gods do exist, The complete lack of reason why gods should exist, and the complete lack of scientific method how gods could exist, gives ample and justifiable reason for atheists to conclude that there are no gods, rather than that conclusion is only the product of mere faith.

My post had nothing to do with theists.
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Last edited by ynot; 27th February 2015 at 08:41 PM.
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Old 27th February 2015, 08:38 PM   #34
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Therefore you don't have a belief in a god. Therefore you are an atheist.

That you also donít have a disbelief is irrelevant.
No. 'Atheist' comes from the Greek, it's a positive assertion, and assertion of without ('a') theism. My assertion is an 'either OR' assertion, it's a completely different logical statement. But whatever, I don't care what you call me.
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Old 27th February 2015, 08:45 PM   #35
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Atheists are afraid of being associated with the belief in no gods for some reason.

Therefore, they redefine the term to be more like what many call "agnosticism". They use the expression "lack of belief" as if it were somehow different from "disbelief" or "unbelief".
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Old 27th February 2015, 08:47 PM   #36
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Originally Posted by psionl0 View Post
SOME Atheists are afraid of being associated with the belief in no gods for some reason.

Therefore, they redefine the term to be more like what many call "agnosticism". They use the expression "lack of belief" as if it were somehow different from "disbelief" or "unbelief".
Fixed that for you

Don’t think any credible atheist could or would ever claim to have absolute proof of no gods. But the complete lack of evidence to support the existence of gods (and the complete lack of reason for gods, and scientific possibility of gods) is a strongly conclusive and justifiable reason to conclude gods don’t exist.
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Last edited by ynot; 27th February 2015 at 08:59 PM.
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Old 27th February 2015, 09:07 PM   #37
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Fixed that for you

Donít think any credible atheist could or would ever claim to have absolute proof of no gods. But the complete lack of evidence to support the existence of gods (and the complete lack of reason for gods, and scientific possibility of gods) is a strongly conclusive and justifiable reason to conclude gods donít exist.
You are still missing the point that, for the believer, it is precisely the lack of evidence that requires faith to support belief.
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Old 27th February 2015, 09:17 PM   #38
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Fixed that for you

Donít think any credible atheist could or would ever claim to have absolute proof of no gods. But the complete lack of evidence to support the existence of gods (and the complete lack of reason for gods, and scientific possibility of gods) is a strongly conclusive and justifiable reason to conclude gods donít exist.
That depends on how you define god or gods. The universe exists. Depending on how you view the universe, it has god-like properties. Intelligence arose from matter, no? But I would agree with you that there is a lack of scientific evidence for a 'god' as described by most religions existing.
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Old 27th February 2015, 09:33 PM   #39
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Variations of this topic have been around JREF/ISF for as long as the forum has existed, and will keep coming around because there are always some people who have not yet thought it all the way through. I usually avoid this topic, because I have thought it all the way through (at least, no one has come up with anything I haven't considered about the topic in a very long time), but I've decided to throw in my two cents this time. I want to add something to the topic from slightly different angles than I often see it discussed. It's not deep thought and you won't be enlightened, but depending on exactly what you have thought about in the past, it might be something slightly different. I hope that it's at least mildly thought provoking for a few.

First, I sometimes call myself an atheist and sometimes an agnostic. It of depends on context. The key difference between the two is that an atheist is extremely confident that there is no God, while an agnostic doesn't actually believe in God, but doesn't rule out the possibility. I find that when it comes to specific religions, I'm an atheist.

For example, if I know I am talking to a Christian, and the Christian asks me if I am an atheist, I generally say that I am. The reason I do this is that, with respect to Christianity, I'm an atheist. I am very, very, confident that the Son of God did not become incarnate in the form of a Jewish rabble-rouser. The possibility that I am wrong about this is, in my opinion, not even worth considering. If I said I am agnostic, that could be taken as I am uncertain, and that I don't believe that Jesus is God, but I'm open to the idea.

In general, I'm pretty darned confident that there is no "personal God". i.e. there is no God that listens to prayers and intervenes in human affairs. With respect to a personal God, I would say I am an atheist.

On the other hand, I am open to the idea that the universe could be the product of a conscious mind. I don't see any evidence of that, but I have no other explanation of its existence, and I don't know what the evidence would look like if it were there. It's the old question "why is there something instead of nothing". I have no explanation, so I'm open to the idea that somehow, a conscious decision was at work. (Of course, that demands the question of why that consciousness exists, and that too cannot be answered. Really, this is all pretty well worn ground.)

So, with respect to a general concept of a God, I don't reject the possibility out of hand. I just don't happen to believe it. That makes me an agnostic.

My general attitude toward God goes along with, and has been influenced by, the teaching of the Buddha on that subject. The short version of that topic is that when someone asked the Buddha if there were a God, he pointed out that God, if he exists, would have an infinite mind, and that no man, with a finite mind, could possibly understand such an entity. Not only could you never know what such an entity would want, you couldn't even truly understand what it would mean for such an entity to exist. Therefore, the question doesn't matter, and you should ignore it an live your life in the best way possible.

I would say that the Buddha was an agnostic, not an atheist.
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Old 27th February 2015, 09:42 PM   #40
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Originally Posted by ynot View Post
Fixed that for you

Donít think any credible atheist could or would ever claim to have absolute proof of no gods. But the complete lack of evidence to support the existence of gods (and the complete lack of reason for gods, and scientific possibility of gods) is a strongly conclusive and justifiable reason to conclude gods donít exist.
That's not very good fixing.

A belief in "no gods" or a disbelief in the existence of any gods that one cares to mention would put the atheist on a similar (though not necessarily equal) ground as a believer.

However, a "lack of belief" (as if saying, "I have never thought about it") would make atheism seem like a rational (even default) position.
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