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atheist/agnostic


Forums Forums Philosophy atheist/agnostic

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 35 total)
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  • #334378
    @widdershins
    Participant

    @avmusicguy

    Intelligent design is nonsense.  It’s a lie.  It was a way to sneak creationism back into schools by disguising it as science.  This has been absolutely proved beyond doubt.  Intelligent design is nothing more than a refutation of evolution mixed with a little magic.  The only reason “design” is even in the name is because creationism had just been banned from being taught in public schools so they had to use a different word.  The biggest lie of all is using the word “design”.  If I “design” a cure for cancer there is still no cure for cancer.  Only when the cure is actually “created” does it affect reality.  If you create something complex then of course it was “designed”.  You can’t throw some gears in a pile on the floor to create a machine.  You have to design the machine and then create it with intent.  Likewise even if there was evidence of “design” in nature there’s also evidence that nature exists.  So it’s not evidence of “design”, it’s evidence of “creation”.  You’re not going to find any kind of truth in a massive, convoluted lie.


    @3point14rat

    It sounds like we agree more than not.  The part I took exception to was the dichotomy that you are either a theist or an atheist.  It is possible to be neither.  The mind is not a series of true/false expressions.  As I tell my religious friends all the time, “I don’t know” is always a valid answer.  You could be in a position where you have neither accepted nor rejected the belief.

    As for the other examples you gave let’s just take a look at one.  You are either 6 feet tall or you aren’t.  This is true, but only because a height measurement is quantifiable, understood and accepted by all.  But belief is not quantifiable, it is rarely fully understood even by the person who holds the belief and the exact belief is usually accepted by only that person.  It’s not an apples/apples comparison.

    #334383
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    Widder:  “It sounds like we agree more than not.  The part I took exception to was the dichotomy that you are either a theist or an atheist.  It is possible to be neither.  The mind is not a series of true/false expressions.  As I tell my religious friends all the time, “I don’t know” is always a valid answer.  You could be in a position where you have neither accepted nor rejected the belief.”

    Yup. We agree on most things, but the bold part of the quote above is where we disagree.

    Theism/atheism is regarding a person’s belief that god(s) exist and gnosticism/agnosticism is regarding a person’s belief in whether it is possible to know god(s) exist.

    It is impossible to not be a theist or atheist and it’s impossible to not be a gnostic or agnostic. You have to fall on one side or the other in both cases. I highly suspect that you are an agnostic atheist, which means you don’t believe you can prove god(s) exist and you don’t believe they exist. Me too.

    No matter what, a person either believes god(s) exist or they don’t (theist/atheist) and they claim their position is provable (gnostic/agnostic).

    A bit earlier in this thread (third post from the beginning) I posted two links to websites that do a decent job of explaining my position better than I do.

    #334391
    @sree
    Participant

    @avmusicguy

    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?

    The term “design” implies a designer. The word “intelligent” also presumes a thinker at work in making humans and the world in which they reside. This gambit won’t cut it. To trap the atheist into a debate, you need to outflank your quarry from the outset and draw it into an enclosure from which it cannot escape.

    Can existence magically come out of nothing? Can there be an effect without a cause? Not to the atheist, who worships at the altar of science that provides him sanctuary and security. To debate the atheist is to take the fight to him destroying every scrap of knowledge he holds sacred.

    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Sree.
    • This reply was modified 1 month, 2 weeks ago by Sree.
    #334401
    @widdershins
    Participant

    @3point14rat

    I’ve heard the position before, I just disagree with it.  This thinking spawned the, I believe, flawed saying, “We are all born atheist”, meaning that babies, not knowing about the possibility of deities and being unable to process that information if they did, defaulted to atheistic.  I disagree with that.  I think it’s using too strict a definition for “atheist”.  By that thinking being atheistic is ultimately as meaningless as any arbitrary group you might be assigned to.  I could simply make something up and assign everyone but me to some arbitrary group because, never having heard my nonsense, they did not believe it simply because they had never heard of it.  It seems a little ridiculous to me that you can assign someone to a group based on their beliefs before they are even capable of forming beliefs.

    I guess the biggest problem I have with it is that it is an opinion, but it is stated as if it were fact.  It is not “fact” that you are either theist or atheist, gnostic or agnostic, it is opinion.  Reasoned opinion, yes, but opinion nonetheless.  What am I if I’m in a coma?  What am I if I am the world’s most ardent believer and then I go into a coma?  What am I when I’m brain dead?  Am I still a Christian when I’m dead?  Was I born an atheist and became Christian?  At what point did I become Christian if, as far as I know, I’ve been Christian all my life?  None of this is quantifiable with a right or wrong answer, it’s all just opinion.  Therefore I have a problem with saying, “You ARE either theist or atheist” because that statement is delivered as fact, not the opinion that it is.

    That being said, I don’t have a problem with the opinion that we are all either theistic or atheistic.  Just so long as it’s not stated as if it’s a fact.

    #334486
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    I guess…

    Hopefully no one uses the term “atheist” to refer to infants in a serious way. The fact that people say babies are atheists is because it seems like the default position of not being a theist is being an atheist, but that’s more a problem of lazy people looking for a catchy phrase than a legitimate issue. For the term to be meaningful it has to be applied only to people capable of understanding the concept of a god, and for anyone seriously thinking about the topic, they will.

    I agree that claiming god(s) don’t exist is an opinion since, as an agnostic, I don’t believe we can ever know if we’re right. But that doesn’t take away the fact everyone has an opinion, regardless of how strongly or weakly is it held.

     

    #334490
    @widdershins
    Participant

    I see your point, but I’m not sure I agree with it.  My wife spent over 20 years working with the intellectually disabled, so when I imagine “everyone” I’m probably not thinking about the same “everyone” you are.  I actually make a point to try to include the people we don’t normally think of because many of those people are often forgotten by everyone, including their own families and it makes me sad.

    And to answer your earlier question I forgot to answer, yes, I am agnostic atheist, but an “agnostic hard atheist”, I guess you would say.  I am sure there are no gods, but admit that I may be wrong.

    As for the people making the claim that we are all born atheists I believe it was intended to be a smartass jab at theists that these people actually believed to be “true”.
    Back then they had this handy little chart (I may have seen it here, actually) which put everyone neatly into different categories.  I guess the neat little organization is nice if that’s the way your brain demand things be, but on a practical level categorizing people like that, especially all people (even if you don’t include those often forgotten) just isn’t practical.  Each mind has so many subtle differences, who’s to say that they all fit into one of those categories?  Who’s to say that their brains work like mine and the, like me, must be this or that?

    Hell, go to any church in the world, no matter how big, and you will not find 2 people who hold exactly the same religious beliefs.  I once saw a discussion between two Catholic friends, one insisting that Mary was a virgin her entire life and that it had to be that way, the other insisting that it wasn’t important that she remain a virgin after the birth of Jesus and that Jesus probably did have actual brothers like the Bible says and not just “brothers in the Lord”.  Both were absolutely certain they were right and it was a pretty big difference.  So even the categories, “Catholic” or “Christian” are very, very loosely defined and include people with a huge range of beliefs.  Yes, they have “the big ones” in common, but each person just makes up his or her own minutia to fill in the gaps.

    #334693
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    I don’t understand how you can mean a different everyone than me. The terms apply to whoever they apply to. If a person understands the concepts necessary, they are a theist or they aren’t and they are a gnostic or they aren’t. The details of belief or disbelief are irrelevant to the binary position of belief or disbelief.

    Any belief in any god(s) qualifies a person to be a theist and that person’s position on whether it is possible or impossible to prove their belief determines whether they are gnostic or agnostic. i

    The charts might not be perfect, but they go a long way to help people explain their position in discussions. You might imagine yourself to be a 6.37 on the Dawkins scale, and that’s absolutely fine and helps me get a feel for what you believe.

    As for the fact that no two people believe the exact same thing when it comes to religion, that is one of the more interesting aspects of how humans blend their personality with whatever their education/indoctrination has been. As an example of how incredibly individual religious beliefs are, about five years ago I had dinner with very religious friends who had been married for over 25 years, and when I asked a question about the Bible they were both surprised that the other had a different answer. Needless to say they were both incredulous and upset that the other one was ‘wrong’. I never found out how they resolved it (sadly they just split up recently, but I don’t think that was the reason.)

    Widders, I think we’re both very close in this. Any issue you have is on a small aspect of the larger picture, and I tend to agree with you on most of the small things and on the larger picture. But if you think I’m wrong, please let me know how– I don’t have time to dig into the larger conversations on other threads, so this is the one I mostly limit myself to, and I enjoy hearing what you think.

    #334703
    @widdershins
    Participant

    I don’t understand how you can mean a different everyone than me. The terms apply to whoever they apply to. If a person understands the concepts necessary, they are a theist or they aren’t and they are a gnostic or they aren’t. The details of belief or disbelief are irrelevant to the binary position of belief or disbelief.

    All-inclusive words like “everyone” and “anything” don’t actually mean “everyone” or “anything”.  They mean “everyone I can imagine” and “everything I can imagine”.  Have you ever had a fried say, “What do you want to do this weekend” and replied, “I’m up for anything”?  You didn’t really mean anything.  If your friend said, “Let’s go kill some people” you would have been horrified.  What I was saying there is that I believe I probably tend to imagine a larger subset of individuals for the term “everyone” than you likely do.  Neither of us actually imagines every single possible subset of the populace when applying our “does this make sense in this case” filter.

    And, in fact, in this quote you’ve excluded some people from “everyone” by adding “If a person understands the concepts necessary”.  That’s not a dig.  We almost never actually mean to be all-inclusive when using these words, myself included.  So, naturally, you are modifying the generic “everyone” to be more specific to address what you likely see as my unreasonable inclusion of abnormal criteria.  That’s not my intention at all.  It’s not a “gotcha”.  I didn’t “catch you” at anything that is not just the regular old way we all think, myself included.  It is it in any way “wrong”.  I’m just trying to point out how I think here so that we have a better understanding of each other.  I know you didn’t really mean “everyone”.  That wasn’t meant to include brain dead people, or actual dead people, or aliens, etc.  I understand that.  I’m just pointing out that “everyone” is not the same group for both of us because “everyone” is rarely actually “everyone” in our minds.  In a discussion like this these all-inclusive terms tend to be a sticking point and I was trying to point that out so that we could avoid it.  And you’ve specified perfectly at this point that you mean only “able-minded people”.  So this wasn’t really part of the argument I was making, more just clearing that up.

    Back to my argument, I don’t believe belief and disbelief is binary at all.  There are “levels” of belief.  Looking at an example other than religion, we’ve all heard things which we treat with suspicion.  If it were a simple binary we would either believe or not believe everything we hear, but that’s not how our brains work.  We either don’t care enough to consider it or we look it up to help us form a belief.  Think of something you’ve heard which you treated with suspicion and looked up to know for sure.  During that time after you heard it, but before you looked it up, does that seem like a binary to you?  It’s a gradient, which is easily demonstrated by the fact that you can be shocked when you find out it’s true or not true, or you can just say, “Huh.  I wouldn’t have thought that”.  And think of beliefs you’ve tried to convince people were wrong.  Is it always exactly as easy or difficult to change what a person believes on a given subject, no matter the person or subject?  Of course not.  That suggests that belief is not binary at all, but a gradient.

    I think the issue here is that you’re drawing from the logics of the two words whereas I am imagining the actual thought process.  Fortunately Trump has given me the perfect example to express where I am coming from.  A few weeks ago my wife told me that masked federal agents with no identification were snatching people off the streets under Trump’s orders.  I trust my wife, but that is so damned ridiculous that I was on the “disbelief” end of the scale pretty heavily.  So I looked it up and found that, WTF? She was right!  It was recent enough that I remember my mindset at the time.  I was in no way certain that it wasn’t true.  If I were certain I would not have bothered to look it up.  I had at least some level of uncertainty keeping me from dismissing it outright.  In contrast, when my cousin told me that he had a laser sight that put a black dot on the target, I didn’t bother to look that one up.  He was an idiot and that was impossible.  I felt no need to do any research, I dismissed it outright.  I immediately thought him a liar.  So for those two instances I had different levels of disbelief.  In the first, I was “pretty sure” that I didn’t believe it, in the second I was absolutely certain that I didn’t believe it.

    The way you look at it you go straight from believe to disbelief.  Well, that’s not what happened when I stopped being Pentecostal.  It took me years to get from “believe it’s true” to “believe it’s not true”.  And that’s the part I think a lot of people miss.  Believing it’s not true is a belief, not at all the same as “not believing it’s true”.  I think you can go from “believing it is true” to “not believing it is true” to “believing it is not true” and I think getting from one to the next is a gradient, not a switch.

    #334758
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    You are correct that my ‘everyone’ doesn’t include those who are mentally handicapped in a way that makes them incapable of understanding the concept of a god. But that’s something that I normally don’t explain when using ‘everyone’. Same as your example of a friend asking what I’d like to do and I reply, “Anything!”. Do you honestly expect anyone (not including those who were not asked the question, those who do want to list off the things they don’t want to do, those who are not able to speak due to physical or mental issues, those who haven’t learned to speak, those who…) to then list off all (and I mean only those things that are physically possible within the time frame being discussed and not including those things that may happen but are not known at the time of speaking) of the things they aren’t including when they say ‘anything’.

    Communication becomes pedantic and confusing if words needs to have their meanings defined all (…) the time. That’s not to say that when first using a word like ‘atheist’ or ‘god’ or ‘supernatural’ in a discussion you shouldn’t tell the other person what you mean to avoid confusion, because there definitely are words that both parties must agree on before getting into a discussion.

     

    P.S. – My wife worked in a home for severely handicapped people for many years. I have met lots of them and actually do include them most times I use the word ‘everyone’. They are actually very much at the top of mind when discussing reducing taxes and cutting public funding. I always (…) champion them and make sure they aren’t forgotten. They are very much out of sight and out of mind for most people, so it is hard to blame the average person for forgetting that they need constant and expensive care. And don’t get me started on how terribly paid the workers are who care for handicapped people!!! I can get pretty heated when I hear that all health care workers are overpaid (a common complaint around here.)

    Anyways, I just wanted you to know that your concerns are unfounded in my case. There definitely are lots of people who don’t give handicapped people a second (or even first) thought, but I’m not one of them.

    #334759
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    Widders:  “I don’t believe belief and disbelief is binary at all.  There are “levels” of belief.”

    Belief in a god is binary. You either believe or you don’t. Belief in a god can be super weak or very very strong, but it is still belief. Disbelief in a god can be super weak or very very strong, but it is still disbelief. (This is theism/atheism.)

    The level of belief or disbelief is highly variable. You can believe or disbelieve more strongly or weakly or differently than others. (This is related to gnosticism/agnosticism.)

    At least this is how I look at it.

    #334760
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    “The way you look at it you go straight from believe to disbelief.  Well, that’s not what happened when I stopped being Pentecostal.  It took me years to get from “believe it’s true” to “believe it’s not true”.  And that’s the part I think a lot of people miss.  Believing it’s not true is a belief, not at all the same as “not believing it’s true”.  I think you can go from “believing it is true” to “not believing it is true” to “believing it is not true” and I think getting from one to the next is a gradient, not a switch.”

    Your transition is like mine. Thinking about stuff and having questions and reading and looking for answers for years before finally taking the final step to disbelief.

    The sentence, “I think you can go from “believing it is true” to “not believing it is true” to “believing it is not true” and I think getting from one to the next is a gradient, not a switch.”” is interesting. My experience of the middle step (“not believing it is true”) still had me believing in God, but not in religion. I was certain that religion was out to lunch but still convinced that God was there listening to me ask Him questions and watching me suffer through the lack of answers.

    Until my transition to the last step (atheist), I was a theist.

    #334762
    @mriana
    Keymaster

    @3point14rat

    Belief in a god is binary. You either believe or you don’t.

    I don’t think it is that simple. Which god are you talking about? If you are talking the Xian deity, which sect of the deity to do you believe? The Catholic one, which isn’t Xian to Evangelicals, the Evangelical or the Lutheran one? Catholic/Episcopalian or the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America? Eastern Orthodox or Evangelical?

    OK that’s just the tip of the iceberg concerning the Xian religion. Now you have the Xian god or the Hindu gods? Which Hindu god- Shiva, Krishna, Hanuman (my favourite lol), or the Jainism Hindu gods or the Islamic deity? Islamic, you have several different flavour of the Muslim god there too. If one isn’t Muslim, than they are infidels, even if they are Xian. Oh yes, I forgot the Jewish deity, which is also different from the other ones and even that depends on the Jewish sect too. Oh yes, then there are the animal “gods” of the Native Americans. We could go deeper into this too, but you get my point.

    So the idea of god being binary- either you do or don’t, isn’t quite accurate, especially when one gets really deep in the various human created deities. Still, even if you don’t believe, one has to get a kick out of the animal deities and trickster gods. The more you study mythologies and religions, you end up seeing it’s not as easy as, “you believe or you don’t”. I just happen to believe in one less than mono-deity religions.

    #334768
    @3point14rat
    Participant

    Mriana, I get your point, but the name/size/strength/location/etc. of the god is not relevant.

    If someone believes in any god(s), they’re a theist. If they don’t believe in any gods, they’re an atheist.

    It’s like asking someone if they’re in a house. The specific room is irrelevant. They’re either in or they’re out. If they’re in, then you can get deeper into which room, but the original questions isn’t affected by which (if any) room they’re in.

     

    #334769
    @mriana
    Keymaster

    @3point14rat

    If someone believes in any god(s), they’re a theist. If they don’t believe in any gods, they’re an atheist.

    Quite true, but you also have monotheist, pantheist, polytheist, panentheist, and monist. They are still theist, yes, but theism is a very complicated and deep subject.

    #334770
    @widdershins
    Participant

    @3point14rat

    I wasn’t trying to argue semantics there.  I was more trying to point out a possible point of confusion.  And I think it’s unfair to say that asking for clarification of an all-inclusive word is the same as having to define every word every time.  There are times when we may use an all-inclusive word or term which we don’t really mean to be all-inclusive.  People always think I’m being asinine with this point, which appears to be the impression you got as well.  That was not at all my intention.  How many times have you made a statement to have the person you were talking to draw a ridiculous conclusion about what you said just to mess with you, forcing you to use less inclusive wording?  That point wasn’t about doing that to you, it was more a cautionary tale of why you have to be careful when using such words.

    And, as I pointed out, your use of the word “everyone” in this case, for other atheists, does include babies.  “We are all born atheist” is an atheist saying I have heard.  If you Google it you’ll get lots of hits.  Without clarification I would think that you accepted that statement, which you have since said you do not.  So in this case clarification was actually necessary for me to understand what you were saying.  We’re not all being assholes when we ask how you are using a word.  Sometimes we really want to know.

    And I don’t think we’re going to come to agreement on that last point.  You’re looking at it from a logical “this is how the words are defined” point of view and I’m saying, “That is not what it felt like to me when I switched.”  There was a long, long period where I was agnostic.  Over a decade.  And it wasn’t just, “I don’t know what I believe”.  It ranged from “I don’t believe in God! (I hope I don’t go to Hell for this!)” early on to “IF there is a God, I had better find out.  Tell me what you think” later on.  There was no belief/disbelief “switch”.  After leaving the church I immediately said, “There is no God!”, but I was not yet an atheist.  I still feared the very God I professed not to believe in.  I was still afraid to commit the one “unforgivable sin”.  I was still terrified of Hell.  It was only later, after I lost all of that anger and resentment and began to, for the first time in my life, really, honestly evaluate it without bias that I eventually came to the conclusion that there were no gods, which is when I became atheist, by my reckoning.  Belief doesn’t just go away.  It’s a process.  I can narrow down the moment when I became an atheist to about 10 or 12 YEARS.  If I can’t do better than that it sure doesn’t seem like a binary thing to me.  If you disagree, preferring instead something which can be charted and defined, that’s okay.  I am usually a very logical thinker, but my mantra is truth, always.  I would rather accept that the human mind isn’t that easily defined and categorized than to have a handy chart of true/false statements which I accept as reality.  And maybe that is reality.  I don’t know.  And since I don’t know that was true even for myself, I would rather accept each person’s own accounting of who they are than try to force a categorization on them that they may not be comfortable with.

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