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atheist/agnostic


Forums Forums Philosophy atheist/agnostic

Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 35 total)
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  • #331583
    @persius
    Participant

    I’m new here so apologies if this has been said before.

    I’m listening to the YouTube video of Penn Jillete’s talk with Richard and was struck by what I felt was an inadequate reply to a fairly standard question about titles: Atheist or Agnostic.  58:35 ish

    I was struck that Richard seemed to state (apologies again if I have misunderstood) that he felt atheist to be a better term to describe himself than agnostic simply because of the improbability of God. Meaning, I think, that it was so improbable that there was one that even though technically he was Agnostic, he felt he could safely call himself Atheist.

    I felt this was a somewhat vague or weak reply. I’ve put some thought into this myself and come up with what I feel is a more precise, dare I say scientifically supportable answer.  I’d like to throw it out here to see what others think.

    I feel a better reply is that while agnostic provides an accurate description of the position (unconvinced) regarding the existence of a God or Gods, one can call oneself an Atheist because not only is there no proof for the existence of a God or Gods, but there is no clear, reasonable or even established, scientific method or rout by which a proof could be obtained it’s reasonable perhaps to call oneself Atheist.

    Only when one can at least establish a scientific approach which could conceivably prove ‘A God’ need one to consider the term agnostic.

    Do others think this has traction as an approach. I’ve been using it off and on and feel it’s quite strong. I also wonder if this is something others have encountered?

    • This topic was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by Mike Wood. Reason: change forum added notification tick
    • This topic was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by Mike Wood. Reason: corrected grammer and meaning error
    • This topic was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by Mike Wood. Reason: change forum added notification tick
    • This topic was modified 3 months, 3 weeks ago by Mike Wood. Reason: corrected grammer and meaning error
    #331695
    @steveklinko
    Blocked

    Your dilemma demonstrates the problem with Philosophical Labels. There is always baggage with any Philosophical Label. But baggage aside, Atheists don’t know there is no God, they simply Believe there is no God. Agnostics Believe there is no way to know if there is God. They both are Believers, believe it or not. For me I don’t believe there is God but I don’t believe there is no God. Most people would say that means I am an Agnostic but disappointingly being an Agnostic just means that I would have to believe that I can not know if there is God. But I don’t Believe that.

    #331698
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    This is a decent explanation of the two words.

    The sticky part is when people claim to know with absolute certainty that their god exists. They claim knowledge, yet their knowledge is 100% personal and therefore worthless to others.

    Only if what someone claims to know is verifiable to everyone else, can their claim be accepted, otherwise it’s a belief (and can’t be used to support their claim that they’re gnostic.)

    Here’s a website that has the Dawkins Scale and the Punnett square of Atheism/Agnosticism, both of which highlight the separate areas that the two words describe.

     

    And welcome to the site, Mike.

    #331774
    @lausten
    Keymaster

    Nice chart, but I like the simple; agnostic is a knowledge statement, atheist is a belief statement, so you can be different places with regards to each word.

    #331778
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    “…agnostic is a knowledge statement, atheist is a belief statement…”

    That’s it in a nutshell.

    But I think few (do any?) atheists claim to know god(s) don’t exist, and most theists do claim to know god(s) exist. Meaning most people are either ‘agnostic atheist’ or ‘gnostic theist’. This coincidence leads to the confusion that the words mean the same thing.

    #333157
    @widdershins
    Participant

    There is definitely a problem with labels as they don’t hold the same meaning for everyone.  However, I have seen this dilemma solved in a simple way that I use myself.  I am an agnostic atheist.  I am 100% certain there are no magical beings, but I accept that this can’t ever be proved and, thus, I may be wrong.  I am open to any evidence that I am wrong if someone wants to meet me and cast a few magic spells to prove me wrong.  So I am both atheistic in that I am 100% certain, and agnostic in that I do not assert that to be “truth”.

    And it fits nicely into the “knowledge/belief” statement made.  Atheism, as I define it for me, is very much is a belief.  I believe there are no gods.  But don’t confuse that with a theistic belief that one or more gods exist.  Theistic belief is requires faith.  My belief WILL change the moment I see real evidence to support a different position.  To be clear, I am aware that the last statement invites all kinds of “…in the smile of every child, in the beauty of every sunset” claims at “evidence”.  I mean real, quantifiable, empirical evidence, not logical proofs, convoluted arguments and emotional appeals.  If you want me to believe in magic you’re going to have to show me some magic.

    #333197
    @mriana
    Keymaster

    Why not both? Agnostic atheist- you don’t believe there is any god, but you’re not 100% certain. I see myself as an agnostic atheist, but I prefer the title humanist. My husband is an “There isn’t a god and I don’t care” sort of atheist. He doesn’t talk about it much or joint anything like humanist groups, such as CFI or AHA (he doesn’t care for the human race and that’s on a good day, so therefore he’s not a humanist, as he says), basically a loner atheist, if I had to label him, but he loved our wedding ceremony. I found us a humanist celebrant on the AHA website and it was really wonderful, with him being happy with it too, so I think he is a humanist too, but he doesn’t understand what humanism is. That’s why there are organizations like CFI, Secular Humanist, and AHA.

    Basically, what I’m saying is, you don’t have to call yourself an atheist or agnostic atheist, if you prefer other labels like humanist, naturalist, and there are others that I can’t remember of hand. Each with a whole spectrum non-belief and belief (there are spiritual humanists, humanistic Jews, secular humanists, etc etc besides plain humanist). Naturalist seem to run a gambit too. Atheism is what you don’t believe, while humanism (for example) is what you do believe. All those labels are very strong too and while you may have to explain humanism or any other non-theistic belief system to others, you can put forward what you do believe and you never know, you may peek interest of someone leaving religion, but doesn’t have a clue what to call themselves or what else there is out there by way of community. The word atheism just gets, “oh you don’t believe in god”, possibly some preaching, along with being annoyed, even angry. While the word humanist often strikes up a conversation. Of course, the word atheist end up in the conversation, but there is more to talk about with that label.

    #333222
    @widdershins
    Participant

    Absolutely.  I think a lot of times we don’t realize just how personal labels can be, though I think the public at large is becoming more aware of it from the LGBT community.  Call yourself whatever you’re comfortable with.  Don’t be afraid to define it for someone else because a lot of times those labels don’t mean the same thing to other people.  And don’t be too annoyed when someone gets it wrong unless they insist that their is the correct label for you and yours is wrong.

    #333231
    @mriana
    Keymaster

    Yes, there are some people who try to tell me that humanism is of the devil and that I’m not just an atheist, but I worship satan. That’s when you just have walk away, because they are too deluded in their own beliefs to learn about anyone elses.

    #333344
    @widdershins
    Participant

    @mriana I suppose it depends why they are saying it.  Many religious people are taught that atheists are the devil’s minions, depicted as nearly demons themselves.  In some of the crazier churches they are taught that “atheist” and “evil devil worshiper” are the same thing.  If they truly believe that then educating them won’t change their religion or anything, but it can give them a little more connection to reality.

    My Jehovah’s Witness friend, for example, didn’t believe me when I told him that I was an atheist.  “You are not!”, he said to me, even though he already knew that I didn’t believe in God.  I was confused for a second, but then I realized why he thought I couldn’t be.  He saw me as a good man, so I couldn’t be an “atheist/evil devil worshiper”.  Once I realized that I explained to him that all an “atheist” is is someone who doesn’t believe in any gods.  There’s nothing more to it.  He of course got that look on his face he gets when I say something that sounds right, but he knows that it must be wrong.  But now I can use the a-word with him and he understands that it doesn’t mean I sacrifice kitties to the devil.

    #333346
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    Everyone is either a theist or an atheist.

    Everyone is either 6 feet tall or taller, or they aren’t.

    Everyone is either a gnostic or an agnostic.

    Everyone is either a doctor or isn’t a doctor.

    The words theist/atheist and gnostic/agnostic are just words that apply to every person. There are lots of people who don’t understand what those words mean, but that doesn’t change the fact they are simply adjectives with no positive or negative value attached.

    #333352
    @widdershins
    Participant

    There’s some subtlety there that I think you’re missing.  Height is an empirical measurement.  You have either earned a doctorate or you have not.  These are matters of fact based in empirical reality.  They can be checked and confirmed.  If two people come up with two different answers, the matter can be settled definitively.  One will be definitely right, the other definitely wrong and this can be proved beyond question.

    Theist or atheist, gnostic or agnostic, these are labels assigned to people with particular beliefs.  You cannot check if I am theist or atheist.  It is not empirical.  You have to take my word for it of form your own belief based solely on anecdotal evidence you’ve collected about me and about your own mind.  And why is your belief about my belief more relevant than my own belief about my own mind?

    As Lausten pointed out to me many times early on before I finally figured out what he was saying, I only know my own mind.  I don’t know everyone’s mind.  My own experience in how people think has some really, really good sample data, but just from the one single source out of about 7 billion people.  So that statement is actually a belief, not a fact.

    #334130
    @avmusicguy
    Participant

    I am delving into the intelligent design debate. I am interested to see what someone who holds to atheism has to say about humans as an example of intelligent design that gives evidence for a Creator God. Would anyone be willing to share an atheists response to this?

    #334235
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    Doug:  “I am delving into the intelligent design debate. I am interested to see what someone who holds to atheism has to say about humans as an example of intelligent design that gives evidence for a Creator God. Would anyone be willing to share an atheists response to this?”

    This is Mickey Mouse level stuff. Information is everywhere. You have to actively avoid reading science to not know what you’re asking.

    No one who understands science in general, and evolution specifically, would ask how humans speak to a creator god. Sorry if I don’t give specific websites or books or videos for you to read or watch, but they’re so common that if you wanted to know anything about the topic you’d already have found them.

    #334236
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    “There’s some subtlety there that I think you’re missing.  Height is an empirical measurement.  You have either earned a doctorate or you have not.  These are matters of fact based in empirical reality.  They can be checked and confirmed.  If two people come up with two different answers, the matter can be settled definitively.  One will be definitely right, the other definitely wrong and this can be proved beyond question.”

    But that’s why the labels are self imposed. Just like a Christian is a Christian if they say they are a Christian, an atheist is an atheist if they say they are an atheist. And since you either are or you aren’t, it is practically the same as saying you’re a doctor.

    “Theist or atheist, gnostic or agnostic, these are labels assigned to people with particular beliefs.  You cannot check if I am theist or atheist.  It is not empirical.  You have to take my word for it of form your own belief based solely on anecdotal evidence you’ve collected about me and about your own mind.”

    True, self imposed labels have to be accepted without proof, but if you ask people whether they are theist/atheist or gnostic/agnostic, you have to trust they aren’t lying.

    “And why is your belief about my belief more relevant than my own belief about my own mind?”

    I would never say my belief about your belief is relevant to anyone but me. That’s why I let people label themselves, ask them to define the labels used, and believe they are telling the truth. Even if I disagree with their definitions of the labels they use, at least I understand what their definitions are and what their position is.

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