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View Poll Results: have you been indoctrinated into atheism by your parents?

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  • yes, my parents were atheist.

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Thread: atheist indoctrination?

  1. #1 atheist indoctrination? 
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    simple question, if you are an atheist, have you been an atheist all your life, or did you become an atheist later in life?


    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
    A.C Doyle
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  3. #2  
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    Not sure how to reply. My parents weren't terribly religious, but they weren't atheists either. I became interested in religion around the age of 12 and attended more than a handful of churches over the years trying to find out which one was "right". I think I was about 17 when I finally began to suspect that none of them were, but it was still some time before I deconverted.

    Off-topic: I'm not sure I accept the idea of "atheist indoctrination". To be an atheist is to be without a belief with regard to god or gods. To indoctrinate someone is to cajole them into accepting a belief or set of beliefs. Since atheism is a lack of beliefs, I'm not sure it make sense to argue that one can be forced into accepting a lack of belief.


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  4. #3  
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    It's the belief that there is no God

    Seriously, it's still a set of morals and beliefs, just not based on a God structure. Buddhism is the perfect example of an "atheist" belief structure (there is no God in Buddhist beliefs). The spirituality part is debatable, but atheists aren't preordained to disagree with all forms of spirituality, just the ideal of an all knowing, all powerful God. EXCEPT, in the case of Ptah, as quoted from SkinWalker (check the Quotations thread in the trash if you don't know what I mean)
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Off-topic: I'm not sure I accept the idea of "atheist indoctrination". To be an atheist is to be without a belief with regard to god or gods. To indoctrinate someone is to cajole them into accepting a belief or set of beliefs. Since atheism is a lack of beliefs, I'm not sure it make sense to argue that one can be forced into accepting a lack of belief.
    You can't force anyone to believe anything, it's always up to personal choice on the part of the individual being "forced" to accept a way of life.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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  6. #5  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    It's the belief that there is no God
    Sorry, I've never accepted that. I don't believe that there is no god (can't prove a negative). Since I don't hold a belief about the existence of god, wouldn't that make me an atheists (a=without, theist=someone who believes in god).

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Seriously, it's still a set of morals and beliefs, just not based on a God structure.
    Sorry, I don't accept that either.

    I have a system of morals, but that came from years of studying moral philosophy and being raised to think about how my actions affect others, not from the realization that there is no evidence to support theism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Buddhism is the perfect example of an "atheist" belief structure (there is no God in Buddhist beliefs).
    Are you positing that all atheist share the same moral code as buddhists?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    The spirituality part is debatable, but atheists aren't preordained to disagree with all forms of spirituality, just the ideal of an all knowing, all powerful God.
    And how are atheist "supposed to feel" about polytheistic systems?

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    EXCEPT, in the case of Ptah, as quoted from SkinWalker (check the Quotations thread in the trash if you don't know what I mean)
    I'll have to do that.

    I think I may have seen it in another forum he posts in.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    You can't force anyone to believe anything, it's always up to personal choice on the part of the individual being "forced" to accept a way of life.
    Perhaps "force" was a poor word choice on my part. However I will point out that you appear to be thinking of full reasoning/full rational adults whereas I was using children who are raised thinking certain things (like "don't ask those kinds of questions or god will send you to hell") as a frame of reference.

    That's my fault for not being more clear.
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  7. #6 Re: atheist indoctrination? 
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    have you been indoctrinated into atheism by your parents?
    Nope. My parents who are atheists didn't indoctrinate atheism into their children, they had things they thought were more important, such as: thinking for yourself, not giving a toot what other people think, and valuing intellectual accomplishments more than money or just about anything else. Oh and psychology... yeah both my parents were psychology majors... and so a lot of the thinking in that field became a second nature to me. ....so....my sister adopted their anti-religious sentiments and I went my own way to eventually become a Christian. But I guess I put some of those other values pretty high on my list and thus do my best to give my children the same freedom to decide what they believe for themselves (my eldest seems to be leaning towards a spiritual sort of atheism).

    However, I was pretty much indoctrinated into into a pretty left wing point of view (marching in peace marches and visiting black panther headquartes when I was a kid) and according to the predictable pattern it was in college that I tossed that all on the scrap heap and became pretty right wing, but now that I have a family of my own and am a lot older I have returned to my "traditional family values" LOL which is a much more left wing point view.

    There was one thing on which I was so thouroughly indoctrinated that I could never shake it and that was the absolute equality of men and women. It took me a long time to understand and accept that there are actually some differences, though perhaps like everyone else I am still struggling to understand the nature of those differences. But I became an avid supporter of men's liberation as well - liberation from the suffocating expectations and stereotypes of the traditional role.
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  8. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Seriously, it's still a set of morals and beliefs, just not based on a God structure.
    Sorry, I don't accept that either.

    I have a system of morals, but that came from years of studying moral philosophy and being raised to think about how my actions affect others, not from the realization that there is no evidence to support theism.
    So, your moral code is based on your study of morals and ethics, right? You have a (I assume rigid) set of core beliefs about people and the way to act, the way to think, and the world around you. Wouldn't that qualify as an atheistic belief system?

    Quote Originally Posted by PheonixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Buddhism is the perfect example of an "atheist" belief structure (there is no God in Buddhist beliefs).
    Are you positing that all atheist share the same moral code as buddhists?
    I'm positing it as an example, nothing more.

    Quote Originally Posted by PheonixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    The spirituality part is debatable, but atheists aren't preordained to disagree with all forms of spirituality, just the ideal of an all knowing, all powerful God.
    And how are atheist "supposed to feel" about polytheistic systems?
    However the please, there is no "proper way to feel". I don't speak for all atheists, and my structure is, I'm sure, different from yours, so I have no idea how we are "suppose to feel". I only know how I feel, and I feel it's a rather silly thing to put one's faith in.


    Quote Originally Posted by PheonixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    You can't force anyone to believe anything, it's always up to personal choice on the part of the individual being "forced" to accept a way of life.
    Perhaps "force" was a poor word choice on my part. However I will point out that you appear to be thinking of full reasoning/full rational adults whereas I was using children who are raised thinking certain things (like "don't ask those kinds of questions or god will send you to hell") as a frame of reference.

    That's my fault for not being more clear.
    Children being taught a certain school of thought, yes, are much more likely to think and believe in those ways. But, later in their life, provided they become a rational human being capable of reasoning skills, it's not outlandish to assume they will challenge their predisposed structure and seek out the way that appeals to them most.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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  9. #8  
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    So, your moral code is based on your study of morals and ethics, right? You have a (I assume rigid) set of core beliefs about people and the way to act, the way to think, and the world around you. Wouldn't that qualify as an atheistic belief system?
    well, but then again, buddhism is an atheistic belief system.
    actually i think both atheism and theism should be excluded from pertaining to a set of beliefs, as both words only state whether or not you think there are any gods.
    and neither i'd argue is a religion either.
    with a set of morals and ethics, you have AN unnamed atheistic belief system.
    call it phoneixgism. or arcane mathematicianism.
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  10. #9  
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    We were a French Canadian family of seven...except for my mother who is British. The world has changed dramatically in the lat 50 years. Our schools, scout packs, summer camp, etc. were divided by religion: Catholic vs Protestant.

    We went to Mass, Catechism...blah, blah....

    Of us 5 kids, today 4 are strong atheists and 1 is a mild Bible reader.

    I really don't give hoot what schools teach re god, evolution, etc. The impact is greatly exaggerated. If fact exposure may the best counter force to mythology. Leprechauns with pots of gold, Jesus rising from the dead as a Zombie, or Noah stomping through the Amazon looking for a pair of geckos: just teach these as being 'serious' and kids will question their legitimacy.

    'Best to ki$$ the Jesus dude's ass or he'll send you down to be skewered on Satan's pitchfork and BB'q for eternity.' That type of stuff is even better than MAD Magazine. The more facts about religions, the more irrational they become.
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  11. #10  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    It's the belief that there is no God
    It's a lack of belief in god, just like you have a lack of belief in pixies at the bottom of a garden pond. At least, I would assume you don't believe in pixies.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    So, your moral code is based on your study of morals and ethics, right? You have a (I assume rigid) set of core beliefs about people and the way to act, the way to think, and the world around you. Wouldn't that qualify as an atheistic belief system?
    Only insofar that I would consider it mine and I am an atheist. That may be your point, however my point is that you'd then have one "atheistic set of beliefs" for every atheist, which kinda defeats the spirit of "an atheistic set of beliefs". In other words, there is no common set of principles for atheism. There is a shared lack of belief and that's it.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Children being taught a certain school of thought, yes, are much more likely to think and believe in those ways. But, later in their life, provided they become a rational human being capable of reasoning skills, it's not outlandish to assume they will challenge their predisposed structure and seek out the way that appeals to them most.
    Indeed, however even you recognize that this is very much conditional. If they don't become rational human beings capable of reasoning skills, then they indoctrinate their children (or other people's children ala Ken Hamm, Kent Hovind, etc). Yes, it happens, but my point is that it's not a decision that is made in adulthood if you're indoctrinated as a child. That doesn't mean you can't make other choices later.
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    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    We were a French Canadian family of seven...except for my mother who is British. The world has changed dramatically in the lat 50 years. Our schools, scout packs, summer camp, etc. were divided by religion: Catholic vs Protestant.

    We went to Mass, Catechism...blah, blah....

    Of us 5 kids, today 4 are strong atheists and 1 is a mild Bible reader.

    I really don't give hoot what schools teach re god, evolution, etc. The impact is greatly exaggerated. If fact exposure may the best counter force to mythology. Leprechauns with pots of gold, Jesus rising from the dead as a Zombie, or Noah stomping through the Amazon looking for a pair of geckos: just teach these as being 'serious' and kids will question their legitimacy.

    'Best to ki$$ the Jesus dude's ass or he'll send you down to be skewered on Satan's pitchfork and BB'q for eternity.' That type of stuff is even better than MAD Magazine. The more facts about religions, the more irrational they become.
    Ya, as someone who attended the protestant school board of Montreal, I don't think I was indoctrinated as an atheist in school . Both my parents are religious as well.
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    Quote Originally Posted by i_feel_tiredsleepy
    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    We were a French Canadian family of seven...except for my mother who is British. The world has changed dramatically in the lat 50 years. Our schools, scout packs, summer camp, etc. were divided by religion: Catholic vs Protestant.

    We went to Mass, Catechism...blah, blah....

    Of us 5 kids, today 4 are strong atheists and 1 is a mild Bible reader.

    I really don't give hoot what schools teach re god, evolution, etc. The impact is greatly exaggerated. If fact exposure may the best counter force to mythology. Leprechauns with pots of gold, Jesus rising from the dead as a Zombie, or Noah stomping through the Amazon looking for a pair of geckos: just teach these as being 'serious' and kids will question their legitimacy.

    'Best to ki$$ the Jesus dude's ass or he'll send you down to be skewered on Satan's pitchfork and BB'q for eternity.' That type of stuff is even better than MAD Magazine. The more facts about religions, the more irrational they become.
    Ya, as someone who attended the protestant school board of Montreal, I don't think I was indoctrinated as an atheist in school . Both my parents are religious as well.
    Cripes, a Protestant. Must get out the Holy Water.

    I moved around as child but when I was young we lived three years in Pointe-aux-Trembles....then I returned to Montreal and attended McGill....that bastion of Anglo anti-Papism.

    Actually Quebec is a good example of the 'reaction effect'...Quebec was steeped in religion for a couple of centuries yet today is one of the most atheistic regions of North America. Albertans have the lowest church affilition in North America, followed closely by Quebecers.
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    It's the belief that there is no God
    It's a lack of belief in god, just like you have a lack of belief in pixies at the bottom of a garden pond. At least, I would assume you don't believe in pixies.
    I believe that pixies don't exist. A lack of belief is agnosticism, atheism is the active belief that there is no God, that God doesn't exist, and that the pixies at the bottom of the pond are not real :P

    It's all semantics, and is a subject I'd rather not take further, as it just devolves from this point.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

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  16. #15  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I believe that pixies don't exist. A lack of belief is agnosticism, atheism is the active belief that there is no God, that God doesn't exist, and that the pixies at the bottom of the pond are not real :P
    I don't think one needs to do much more than look at the words and think about what they mean to see that this is not true.

    Agnosticism is the position that god's existence (or non existence) is unknowable (a=without, gnostic=knowledge).

    Atheism is the a lack of belief in god or gods (a=without, theism=believe in god or gods).

    To posit that there is no god is to make a specific claim and put forth a specific claim (which must then be supported).

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    It's all semantics, and is a subject I'd rather not take further, as it just devolves from this point.
    I like how you tried to give yourself that last word there
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  17. #16  
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    Good definitions from Phoenix.

    I am agnostic. I accept that there is no evidence that I have ever come across that makes any clear pointer to a God or gods, or to the non existence of God or gods - so I sit on the fence.

    However, I regard the Christian view of God to have a very, very, low probability. Perhaps one chance in a trillion?? Anyone who can reconcile the idea of omnipotence, omniscience, omnibenevolence and the real state of the world is someone very good at doublethink. And free choice does not explain an innocent child dying in agony from cancer.

    This still leaves lots of other kinds of gods quite possible, though without good empirically derived objective evidence, I certainly cannot conclude any such.

    Incidentally, while Buddhism is non theistic, it does not deny God or gods either, and there are numerous variations on Buddhism which includes gods, spirits etc in the religious world view. Theravada Buddhism, such as practised in Sri Lanka, is closer to the original 'pure' form without that kind of muddying of the religious waters. However, some of the Mahayana Buddhism variations, like Tibetan, are rife with what I see as superstitious beliefs involving spiritual superbeings.
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by raptordigits
    Cripes, a Protestant. Must get out the Holy Water.

    I moved around as child but when I was young we lived three years in Pointe-aux-Trembles....then I returned to Montreal and attended McGill....that bastion of Anglo anti-Papism.

    Actually Quebec is a good example of the 'reaction effect'...Quebec was steeped in religion for a couple of centuries yet today is one of the most atheistic regions of North America. Albertans have the lowest church affilition in North America, followed closely by Quebecers.
    Yay, a fellow McGill alum

    They eliminated the religious school boards a few years ago though, now they're segregated by language.
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  19. #18  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    It's all semantics, and is a subject I'd rather not take further, as it just devolves from this point.
    No, it isn't semantics. It may be due to the fact you don't appear to know much about the subject matter.
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  20. #19  
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    This conversation is easily solved. Saying that atheism is a belief is like saying that 'not' collecting stamps is a hobby.
    "Democracy is a problem because it treats everyone as equals." - Betty Fischer

    "back in the 50's or 60's Nicky Criuz was a gang leader who met David Wilkerson in New York City. After much discussion over months or years, i forget how long, Wilkerson's wife became pregnant. one day Cruz decides to test God, he basically prayed--God if you are real let the baby be born a boy-- it was a boy. "
    - Logic of a creationist

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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    This conversation is easily solved. Saying that atheism is a belief is like saying that 'not' collecting stamps is a hobby.
    And your saying that, "atheism is just not believing in God", is like saying "democracy is just not letting tyrants rule us".


    Atheism is about answering the question, "does God exist?" There is nothing any more simple about answering no to this question than there is about answering yes to this question. You cannot answer the question at all until you decide what the question means and that means deciding what this word "God" refers to when you answer the question. This is why we have the tremendous absurdity of atheists arguing with theists about the nature of God.

    Now is there a diversity of thought among atheists? Yep, just as most religions have a considerable diversity of thought among its members too.

    LOL
    Shall I say that Christianity is not a belief because all I am doing is not accepting your belief that Christianity isn't true. It is a silly argument.
    LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL
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    This is why we have the tremendous absurdity of atheists arguing with theists about the nature of God.
    And we have a tremendous absurdity of people trying to argue to us that they were anal probed by aliens. However, they have no proof of their claim and we are justified in denying a claim which provides no evidence.

    Shall I say that Christianity is not a belief because all I am doing is not accepting your belief that Christianity isn't true.
    That's a HORRIBLE analogy. THINK for a second. If you do not accept my belief that Christianity isn't true than you are actually accepting that Christianity is true which IS a belief system.
    If I were to deny your 'claim' that Christianity is true, then that is NOT a belief system. Its a simple denial of your claim. However, a denial of a denial of a claim is a double negative and actually equates to that of a belief in the claim in question.
    Don't try to pull one past me MM. I'm a little more intelligent than you think.
    "Democracy is a problem because it treats everyone as equals." - Betty Fischer

    "back in the 50's or 60's Nicky Criuz was a gang leader who met David Wilkerson in New York City. After much discussion over months or years, i forget how long, Wilkerson's wife became pregnant. one day Cruz decides to test God, he basically prayed--God if you are real let the baby be born a boy-- it was a boy. "
    - Logic of a creationist

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  23. #22  
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    This conversation is easily solved. Saying that atheism is a belief is like saying that 'not' collecting stamps is a hobby.
    This...is brilliant

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    And your saying that, "atheism is just not believing in God", is like saying "democracy is just not letting tyrants rule us".
    With every post, you make it more apparent that you don't understand what you are attempting to debate.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Atheism is about answering the question, "does God exist?"
    No it is not. Furthermore, I don't think it's your place to say that it is.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    There is nothing any more simple about answering no to this question than there is about answering yes to this question. You cannot answer the question at all until you decide what the question means and that means deciding what this word "God" refers to when you answer the question. This is why we have the tremendous absurdity of atheists arguing with theists about the nature of God.
    If your false characterization of atheism had any merit whatsoever, then your points would be valid.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Now is there a diversity of thought among atheists?
    Of course there is! Do all theists prefer the same flavor of ice cream? But all christians believe that jesus was the messiah, no? Hmmm.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    LOL
    Shall I say that Christianity is not a belief because all I am doing is not accepting your belief that Christianity isn't true. It is a silly argument.
    LOL LOL LOL LOL LOL
    Your "LOL"s are taking on the tone of someone who has just nervously realized that they've stuffed their foot into their mouth.
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  24. #23  
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Shall I say that Christianity is not a belief because all I am doing is not accepting your belief that Christianity isn't true.
    That's a HORRIBLE analogy. THINK for a second. If you do not accept my belief that Christianity isn't true than you are actually accepting that Christianity is true which IS a belief system.
    Yep and that is exactly my point. It is silly and that I why I say it does not work for atheism either. I parrot the argument you just made back at you: If you do not not accept my belief that atheism isn't true then you are actually accepting that the claim of atheism is true. This is not like saying that, "table isn't true", which makes no sense because "table" is not making any claims about reality. Nobody disagrees with "table" because the word does not make claims about reality, but it makes perfect sense to say that I disagree with atheism, because atheism DOES make claims about reality.

    Yes I am rejecting the definition of atheism as nothing at all, because such a definition is silly. It is just absurd to say that an atheist is someone who has not considered the question of whether any deities exist. An atheist MUST be someone who has considered this question for only such a person would call themself an atheist. You don't a need a name for not having a belief. You give something a name and start making organizations under that name because you do have beliefs not because you don't.

    So yes I deny that infants are atheists. I think this claim that infants are atheist is really hilarious, in fact. It reminds me of infant baptism and the belief by right to lifers that zygotes are human beings. But anyway, just by trying to claim that infants are atheists, you are adding another belief to the belief system of your personal version atheism. Lots of relgions (especially the oldest relgions) claim that infants are born into their religion, so that is hardly new tactic used by belief systems. I think this tactic is kind of "precious". Define your group so everyone and everything is automatically a member, until they do a "no no". LOL


    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    If I were to deny your 'claim' that Christianity is true, then that is NOT a belief system.
    LOL
    If you deny that it is true then you are saying that it is false. That is a belief system as complicated as Christianity itself, otherwise this is no different than the imbeciles who say that evolution is false when they really haven't a clue as to what the theory of evolution is.


    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Its a simple denial of your claim. However, a denial of a denial of a claim is a double negative and actually equates to that of a belief in the claim in question.
    Don't try to pull one past me MM. I'm a little more intelligent than you think.
    A denial is not an absence of belief. It is a belief that something is wrong.

    The absense of belief is not atheism, it is nothing at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    The absense of belief is not atheism, it is nothing at all.
    I always love it when people try to arbitrarily redefine terms to suit their argument. The word means "without belief". If that isn't good enough for you, I don't know what is.
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    Actually MM is using the term correctly.

    Atheism means without God, meaning a belief that there is no god.
    Agnostic means without belief, meaning no belief either for or against.

    An atheist has made a declaration, even if it is only to him/herself, that there is no God. Because this declaration is needed, an infant is not an atheist.

    I am a good sceptic, and I try my best to reason scientifically. For these reasons, I reject the non belief of atheism, since it is clear that there is insufficient evidence to show no God. For a scientist, such evidence has to be objective and based on empirical results. On the other hand, no-one has ever come up with convincing empirically based and objective evidence for the existence of God or gods, and I have to reject such a belief. Hence, the only proper scientific and sceptical viewpoint is agnostic.

    Religious people operate on faith. That is : a choice to believe something in the absense of proper scientific evidence. Atheists also operate on faith - choosing to believe in the non existence of something without scientific evidence to back up their non belief.

    In fact, the religious have a slight advantage here, since it is not possible to prove a negative. Hence not possible to prove atheist beliefs.

    The problem with the converse is that proof of the existence of God or gods would be really, really easy, if said God or gods chose to show themselves. And they have not. This simple fact weakens the religious argument drastically.

    Ultimately, religious beliefs always devolve on some charismatic person who declares him/herself to be a prophet or messenger of God, and generally writes some 'holy text' (or his/her followers may do so), and the followers choose to believe that it is real.

    In fact, several people known to be con artists have started religions, apparently for the purpose of enriching themselves, and/or gaining sexual access to women. Joseph Smith of the Mormons and Ron Hubbard of the Church of Scientology come to mind. Their reprehensible histories have not deterred their disciples!

    About 30 years ago, some religious friends of mine persuaded me to go with them to a Billy Graham crusade. They were convinced that this experience would see me 'saved'. I was interested to see what the Great Man would have to say. I went home disgusted and appalled. The whole crusade was one enormous orgy of emotion. There was not a single scrap of rational thought in the whole presentation. Just a leader stirring up emotion, and people screaming and shouting as if they were on drugs. If this is typical of the religious mind set, I am quite unimpressed. Sadly, there are plenty of people who get carried away by this sort of nonsense. Charismatic religion. Leave your brain at the door.
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    Atheism means without God, meaning a belief that there is no god.
    Agnostic means without belief, meaning no belief either for or against.

    An atheist has made a declaration, even if it is only to him/herself, that there is no God. Because this declaration is needed, an infant is not an atheist.
    Agreed. I have looked and found nothing that indicates a God, so I have chosen to make the small leap into declaring that there is no God. In the case of a God, there is no evidence that directly points to only a Godly explanation. Consequently Occam's razor in this case is just too heavily weighted against a God for me to not take notice. The concept is utterly preposterous to me.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Actually MM is using the term correctly.

    Atheism means without God, meaning a belief that there is no god.
    Agnostic means without belief, meaning no belief either for or against.
    I invite you to look at the words themselves.

    a=without, theism=a belief in god or gods (without belief)
    a=without, gnosticism=divine knowledge (without divine knowledge, i.e. god is unknowable).

    The definition that you've provided does not work because it states that in order to be an atheist, you must make the claim that god does not exist. Since anyone making this claim has the burden of proof for supporting it and one cannot prove a negative, the definition is logically untenable.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    An atheist has made a declaration, even if it is only to him/herself, that there is no God.
    Not true. Furthermore, I don't believe anyone has granted you the right to speak for all atheists. You may have done this yourself, but you certainly do not speak for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Because this declaration is needed, an infant is not an atheist.
    Of course it is. It is without a belief in a god or gods.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I am a good sceptic, and I try my best to reason scientifically.
    Kudos. The more skeptics the merrier

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    For these reasons, I reject the non belief of atheism, since it is clear that there is insufficient evidence to show no God.
    Of course there isn't, but again, I'll point out that you're using the term "atheism" incorrectly.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    For a scientist, such evidence has to be objective and based on empirical results.
    Indeed, unless you're MM, and then anything anyone has ever thought they might have experienced is "evidence" for whatever they want it to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    On the other hand, no-one has ever come up with convincing empirically based and objective evidence for the existence of God or gods, and I have to reject such a belief. Hence, the only proper scientific and sceptical viewpoint is atheism.
    Fixed

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Religious people operate on faith. That is : a choice to believe something in the absense of proper scientific evidence.
    I beg to differ. Even a logically sound argument would be something. I don't need to touch or see something in order to accept that it exists.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Atheists also operate on faith - choosing to believe in the non existence of something without scientific evidence to back up their non belief.
    A lack of belief is not a belief itself. The argument is contradictory.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    In fact, the religious have a slight advantage here, since it is not possible to prove a negative. Hence not possible to prove atheist beliefs.
    Not applicable.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    The problem with the converse is that proof of the existence of God or gods would be really, really easy, if said God or gods chose to show themselves. And they have not. This simple fact weakens the religious argument drastically.
    Quite.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Ultimately, religious beliefs always devolve on some charismatic person who declares him/herself to be a prophet or messenger of God, and generally writes some 'holy text' (or his/her followers may do so), and the followers choose to believe that it is real.

    In fact, several people known to be con artists have started religions, apparently for the purpose of enriching themselves, and/or gaining sexual access to women. Joseph Smith of the Mormons and Ron Hubbard of the Church of Scientology come to mind. Their reprehensible histories have not deterred their disciples!

    About 30 years ago, some religious friends of mine persuaded me to go with them to a Billy Graham crusade. They were convinced that this experience would see me 'saved'. I was interested to see what the Great Man would have to say. I went home disgusted and appalled. The whole crusade was one enormous orgy of emotion. There was not a single scrap of rational thought in the whole presentation. Just a leader stirring up emotion, and people screaming and shouting as if they were on drugs. If this is typical of the religious mind set, I am quite unimpressed. Sadly, there are plenty of people who get carried away by this sort of nonsense. Charismatic religion. Leave your brain at the door.
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    Atheism vs. Agnosticism
    What's the Difference? Are they Alternatives to Each Other?


    "Agnosticism refers to knowledge, while atheism and theism refer to belief." - Wiki

    I invite you to look at the words themselves.

    a=without, theism=a belief in god or gods (without belief)
    a=without, gnosticism=divine knowledge (without divine knowledge, i.e. god is unknowable).

    The definition that you've provided does not work because it states that in order to be an atheist, you must make the claim that god does not exist. Since anyone making this claim has the burden of proof for supporting it and one cannot prove a negative, the definition is logically untenable.
    He is saying the same thing you are, but with the added, and necessary, qualifier of the involvement of a decision. Do you believe in unicorns? Do you have proof that they don't exist? How do you know a God does not exist?

    Not true. Furthermore, I don't believe anyone has granted you the right to speak for all atheists. You may have done this yourself, but you certainly do not speak for me.
    You are assuming that what you call atheists actually are atheists. He is addressing the term "atheist", not the people that call themselves atheists.

    Of course it is. It is without a belief in a god or gods.
    In that case a baby would be both an atheist and an agnostic. An agnostic does not know or care if a God exists and an atheist categorically states there is no God. How can a baby make such a declaration?
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Atheism vs. Agnosticism
    What's the Difference? Are they Alternatives to Each Other?


    "Agnosticism refers to knowledge, while atheism and theism refer to belief." - Wiki
    Oh, well since it's wikipedia, I'm clearly wrong then

    P.S. the specific quote you provided would appear to support my argument. At the very least, it doesn't support yours.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    He is saying the same thing you are, but with the added, and necessary, qualifier of the involvement of a decision.
    I don't think so. He clearly stated that atheism is "a belief that there is no god.".

    A belief that there is no god is very different a lack of belief with regards to god. The former is a claim. The latter is skepticism of someone else's claim.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Do you believe in unicorns?
    No, I most certainly lack a belief in unicorns.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Do you have proof that they don't exist?
    No, but since I'm not making the claim that they don't exist, I'm not required to (I'm not making a claim, therefore I have no burden of proof).

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    How do you know a God does not exist?
    I don't. Nor have I ever claimed that god does not exist. I have repeatedly (over many years) pointed out that there is no evidence for the claim that he/she/it/they do(es) exist.


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    You are assuming that what you call atheists actually are atheists. He is addressing the term "atheist", not the people that call themselves atheists.
    I suggest you go back and re-read what I quoted. He is very much making a statement about people who call themselves atheist (specifically he is claiming that they have made a positive statement regarding the non-existence of god).

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    In that case a baby would be both an atheist and an agnostic.
    I am okay with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    An agnostic does not know or care if a God exists and an atheist categorically states there is no God.
    Wrong and wrong for reasons I have already pointed out.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    How can a baby make such a declaration?
    It doesn't need to. Such a declaration would only be necessary if your (and skeptic's) definition had merit. I have already provided my argument for why it does not. Rather than address that, you've opted to repeat yourself and cite wikipedia as a source.

    We know what the prefix "a" means. We know what "theism" means. We know what "gnosticism" is. It's isn't rocket science.

    If I may, there are semantics here that you are either sincerely missing or intentionally ignoring. If any part of what I've said here is unclear, I'm more than willing to circle back to clarify, but continuing to repeat bad information is going to start to seem as though you're trying to pick a fight.
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    going to start to seem as though you're trying to pick a fight.
    I am ready for you punk!

    Seriously though:

    Oh, well since it's wikipedia, I'm clearly wrong then
    The link I provided is used by wiki as reference for the statement I quoted. It makes an argument on what atheism is and what agnosticism is. What do you use as a reference? Analysing the words do not necessarily convey the meaning currently attributed to them. In fact, I am not even sure where to go for such an objective definition. :? Wiki does have an extensive list of references on its treatment of the term "atheist". Don't knock the source, knock the content. Wiki article

    The positions are often cross defined and even contradictory. You can be an agnostic atheist (which you appear to be), a theistic agnostic, there is week and strong atheism (which I am), week and strong agnosticism, implicit and explicit atheism, etc, etc.

    Interesting views HERE regarding strong vs. week atheism.

    It appears that it becomes difficult to simply say "wrong" to a person's view on what the terms actually mean, since it is by no means a resolved subject and an ongoing philosophical debate. And yes, I recognise that this brings my definition into doubt as well. :wink:

    I suggest you go back and re-read what I quoted. He is very much making a statement about people who call themselves atheist (specifically he is claiming that they have made a positive statement regarding the non-existence of god).
    Again, he is not saying what atheists have done, he is saying what someone has to have done to be qualified as an atheist from his definition of the term.

    So, in case you missed my intention at the onset of this post, I indeed have no desire to get into a fight.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I am ready for you punk!


    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    It makes an argument on what atheism is and what agnosticism is.
    Well, whoever crafted the wiki does anyway. Whatever their credentials are...

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    What do you use as a reference?
    I would hope that it would be obvious by now that I'm using the words themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Analysing the words do not necessarily convey the meaning currently attributed to them.
    "Currently attributed to them" by whom? Which agenda? Which set of biases?

    Is there a very good reason why we cannot simply use the word's meanings themselves? Can you explain to me why they are insufficient (aside from the fact that doing so may cause you to have to rethink your position and abandon your current argument)?

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    In fact, I am not even sure where to go for such an objective definition. :?
    You're making this much more complicated than it needs to be. In both cases we have a very simple root word with an even simpler prefix. No voodoo necessary. Really.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Wiki does have an extensive list of references on its treatment of the term "atheist". Don't knock the source, knock the content. Wiki article
    Wikipedia can be a great jumping off point for discovering new things. Unfortunately, you've offered it up as a definitive citation. For reasons which I hope are obvious a source which can be anonymously edited by anyone at anytime will not suffice for those purposes.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    The positions are often cross defined and even contradictory. You can be an agnostic atheist (which you appear to be), a theistic agnostic, there is week and strong atheism (which I am), week and strong agnosticism, implicit and explicit atheism, etc, etc.
    I would really prefer not to derail the topic with a long back and forth on your wiki article.

    Suffice it to say that atheist agnostic and theist agnostic are classification of agnosticism, and strong vs weak atheism is rubbish (IMHO).

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    It appears that it becomes difficult to simply say "wrong" to a person's view on what the terms actually mean, since it is by no means a resolved subject and an ongoing philosophical debate. And yes, I recognise that this brings my definition into doubt as well. :wink:
    The other things that I've noticed is that we're now 3 posts a piece into this exchange and you've yet to make any move toward addressing my argument. Do you intend to do so at some point?

    I've already explained why I feel comfortable simply saying "wrong". You've yet to offer any counter-argument of your own or show any error in my reasoning. If hand-waving and wiki articles didn't persuade me the first time, I don't know why you tried them a second.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Again, he is not saying what atheists have done, he is saying what someone has to have done to be qualified as an atheist from his definition of the term.
    Explain how this is different? It's not. You, sir, are talking in circles.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    So, in case you missed my intention at the onset of this post, I indeed have no desire to get into a fight.
    I'm glad to hear that.
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    This last bit of the thread is about what the terms atheist, agnostic and theist means. You have given your interpretation; I and sceptic have given ours. What the Wiki article illustrates is that there is no definitive definition. Consequently, when you say an atheist is this and that, then all people that conform to your definition is an atheist by your definition. The same goes for mine or anyone else’s. I do not explicitly disagree with your interpretation, but I prefer mine. Dawkins for example says one should define it by the probability a person attaches to the statement: "God exists". There is no definitive definition.

    Take note that I do not claim Wiki as the fountain of all knowledge, but it gives a good presentation of the views that are out there and in fact does provide citations for its content, which you can go through at your own leisure. It does not take a stand on the issue; it simply discusses how the issue is defined by various philosophers and provides citations for them.

    The other things that I’ve noticed are that we're now 3 posts a piece into this exchange and you've yet to make any move toward addressing my argument. Do you intend to do so at some point?
    But we have been talking about it the whole time. Atheism is a more complicated term than you seem to acknowledge. You say week and strong atheism is rubbish, but why? I categorically say that Gods do not exist. The very definition of a god makes little sense and the only thing I can really go by are the ones given by the main theistic religions. It is these that I say don't exist. So I am a strong atheist, since that is exactly how the term "strong atheist" is defined. You give your etymological analysis of the word "atheist" and strictly hold to it, but it is a very broad definition indeed and the analysis itself is simply the one you are choosing.

    Again, he is not saying what atheists have done, he is saying what someone has to have done to be qualified as an atheist from his definition of the term.
    Explain how this is different? It's not. You, sir, are talking in circles.
    I don't know why you don't get this. In the first instance he would be assuming that the term "atheist" is absolutely defined and explaining what the people that fall into this group have done, like it is written down somewhere and defined precisely by these criteria. In the second instance he is providing his personal definition of the term "atheist" by saying what he thinks it should be. You seem to suggest that only one definition is correct. When you said: "Furthermore, I don't believe anyone has granted you the right to speak for all atheists.", you seem to be making the same mistake you accuse him of by presuming to know how all people that define themselves as atheists define atheism and seem to purport that this is by your definition. Am I wrong?
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Dawkins for example says one should define it by the probability a person attaches to the statement: "God exists". There is no definitive definition.
    Dawkins also describes atheism at 7 different levels, of which he has pegged himself at level 6, just this side of level 7.


    1.00: Strong theist. 100 percent possibility of God. In the words of C.G. Jung, 'I do not believe, I know.'

    2.00: Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. De facto theist. 'I cannot know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there

    3.00: Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. Technically agnostic but leaning towards theism. 'I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God.'

    4.00: Exactly 50 per cent. Completely impartial agnostic. 'God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable.'

    5.00: Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. Technically agnostic but leaning towards atheism. 'I don't know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be sceptical.'

    6.00: Very low probability, but short of zero. De facto atheist. 'I cannot know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there.'

    7:00: Strong atheist. 'I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung 'knows' there is one.'
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    Cool. Since my definition of God would be as he is described by the major religions, I would have to say I am a 7.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    This conversation is easily solved. Saying that atheism is a belief is like saying that 'not' collecting stamps is a hobby.
    Right to the point.

    Re atheism vs agnosticism etc. Yes, it is semantics...but semantics itself is also a product itself of 'semantics'. This is why in science it is not always enough to define a term but necessary to provide a second reference as to why the term is defined that way.

    There is no single definition of atheist or agnostic: not the Oxford dictionary or Wikipedia or Dawkins, etc. There is no single source of definition with universal legitimacy. That's not what language is.

    Both words when used in the English language have cultural layers that colour their use. Using a 'word origin' is not a definition of a word as used in a language. If that was the case then a good chunk of all words in English are wrongly used. Also the origin of a word can go through further reduction to an earlier source and so on back to when humans first started to babble.
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    We shall look at the definition of belief.

    be⋅lief
      /bɪˈlif/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [bi-leef] Show IPA
    –noun
    1. something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.
    2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.
    3. confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents.
    4. a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith: the Christian belief.
    Now as you can quite possibly see, none of the beliefs mentioned have a belief in the negative. That is simply because you 'can't' have a belief in the negative. For instance, I can't believe that aliens don't exist. I can simply state that no evidence for aliens has given me reason to be skeptical of anal probing aliens, but I can't simply 'believe' they don't exist. Same with Unicorns, Elves, Faeries, Pixies, Archaeologist, and of course God.
    "Democracy is a problem because it treats everyone as equals." - Betty Fischer

    "back in the 50's or 60's Nicky Criuz was a gang leader who met David Wilkerson in New York City. After much discussion over months or years, i forget how long, Wilkerson's wife became pregnant. one day Cruz decides to test God, he basically prayed--God if you are real let the baby be born a boy-- it was a boy. "
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    This last bit of the thread is about what the terms atheist, agnostic and theist means. You have given your interpretation; I and sceptic have given ours. What the Wiki article illustrates is that there is no definitive definition. Consequently, when you say an atheist is this and that, then all people that conform to your definition is an atheist by your definition.
    The term has to mean something. I'm asking you to take a look at the word. Doing so will show you that it means something specific. Obviously lots of people want it to mean various things for various reasons. At some point, one should (hopefully) be able to strip away all that BS.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    The same goes for mine or anyone else’s. I do not explicitly disagree with your interpretation, but I prefer mine.
    Of course you do, because you definition allows you to maintain your position. But I've already explained why that definition and your position don't work. You refuse to discuss that part.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Dawkins for example says one should define it by the probability a person attaches to the statement: "God exists".
    And that's good for him. I disagree with him.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    There is no definitive definition.
    This is a subjective statement. Simply making it does not rule out the possibility that there is a "definitive definition" (<= saying that make me giggle).

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Take note that I do not claim Wiki as the fountain of all knowledge, but it gives a good presentation of the views that are out there and in fact does provide citations for its content, which you can go through at your own leisure.
    You cited it.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    But we have been talking about it the whole time.
    Indeed. But you've yet to address the argument. Instead you draw out this song and dance.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Atheism is a more complicated term than you seem to acknowledge.
    Why?

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    You say week and strong atheism is rubbish, but why?
    I'll be happy to address this, after you've made some effort to address my earlier argument. If you want to have a debate in good faith, then I'm your guy, but right now there isn't a lot of "good faith" coming from your end.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I categorically say that Gods do not exist.
    Good for you. If I may be blunt, that's a pretty stupid move. Your position is untenable and logicially bankrupt. You cannot prove a negative, therefore your position is indefensible.

    You could of course ignore this fact and continue to maintain your position as a statement of faith, however that makes you the exact same thing as a theist. Now how is it that a theist and an atheist can be different and the same at the same time?

    Have fun with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    The very definition of a god makes little sense and the only thing I can really go by are the ones given by the main theistic religions.
    Considering they define (and redefine) god to suit their whim, I don't know how you made it that far.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    It is these that I say don't exist.
    And I'll grant you more well-wishes in your hopeless quest of proving a negative.

    (off-topic: are you familiar with Russell's Teapot? Google it if you're not).

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    So I am a strong atheist, since that is exactly how the term "strong atheist" is defined.
    Wow, imagine that. Someone somewhere made up a term that would allow you to label yourself without having to think about whether that position makes any sense. Must be a false sense of legitimacy thing.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    You give your etymological analysis of the word "atheist" and strictly hold to it, but it is a very broad definition indeed and the analysis itself is simply the one you are choosing.
    Yes, shame on me for thinking that words should mean something rather than being whored out to anyone that wants a port in the storm. "Science" means something too, as does "cauliflower", "polymer", and several other words that spring to mind at the moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    I don't know why you don't get this. In the first instance he would be assuming that the term "atheist" is absolutely defined and explaining what the people that fall into this group have done, like it is written down somewhere and defined precisely by these criteria. In the second instance he is providing his personal definition of the term "atheist" by saying what he thinks it should be. You seem to suggest that only one definition is correct.
    What I am pointing out is that he said, and I'll quote again, "An atheist has made a declaration, even if it is only to him/herself, that there is no God."

    This is wrong. Indeed one of us is missing something, but it does not appear to be me.

    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    When you said: "Furthermore, I don't believe anyone has granted you the right to speak for all atheists.", you seem to be making the same mistake you accuse him of by presuming to know how all people that define themselves as atheists define atheism and seem to purport that this is by your definition. Am I wrong?
    You are wrong, because I'm making the argument that some people have labeled themselves atheist that probably shouldn't have.

    They (you) are welcome to call themselves whatever they want, but calling myself the Queen of Sheba doesn't make it so.

    What he is saying is that all atheists have done this thing and I'm saying, no they have not, and he's going to have a dickens of time proving it if he wants to defend his point.

    To your point, perhaps he is also stating that people should not be calling themselves atheists unless they have categorically denied the existence of god, but if that's the case then only people willing to commit themselves to the indefensible position I have pointed out several times in this thread. He's more than welcome to argue why his position should be taken seriously and/or is better than mine, but thus far he has not. You've been acting as his surrogate here, but for all your posts, you've yet to address that argument.
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    We shall look at the definition of belief.

    be⋅lief
      /bɪˈlif/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [bi-leef] Show IPA
    –noun
    1. something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.
    2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.
    3. confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents.
    4. a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith: the Christian belief.
    Now as you can quite possibly see, none of the beliefs mentioned have a belief in the negative. That is simply because you 'can't' have a belief in the negative. For instance, I can't believe that aliens don't exist. I can simply state that no evidence for aliens has given me reason to be skeptical of anal probing aliens, but I can't simply 'believe' they don't exist. Same with Unicorns, Elves, Faeries, Pixies, Archaeologist, and of course God.
    I have confidence that they don't exist, I trust in my confidence. Not belief?
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
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    No, you would have an idea. You can have an idea in the negative.. but to think you have a belief in a negative is moronic.
    "Democracy is a problem because it treats everyone as equals." - Betty Fischer

    "back in the 50's or 60's Nicky Criuz was a gang leader who met David Wilkerson in New York City. After much discussion over months or years, i forget how long, Wilkerson's wife became pregnant. one day Cruz decides to test God, he basically prayed--God if you are real let the baby be born a boy-- it was a boy. "
    - Logic of a creationist

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    ""What can be asserted without reason, can be dismissed without reason. ""
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    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER
    Cool. Since my definition of God would be as he is described by the major religions, I would have to say I am a 7.
    Even I would not go so far so categorically state that gods don't exist. That would demand evidence to support a negative. Not really possible.

    What Dawkins adds which others leave out is the high probability of gods not existing, based on the evidence at hand. It is this high probability that gods don't exist the argument theists are unable to respond.

    Your position would easily be responded to with a simple, "Prove it."
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    Well I think this indulgence in COMPLETELY subjective probability claims is quite an amusing way that Dawkins and others have hidden a methodology typical of religion behind a screen of technobabble. It is just like these arguments of theists about the improbability of life on the earth. There is at the moment no objective basis for making such probability statements. And I frankly would have expected better of Dawkins on this. sigh...

    Take the estimate of the probability of life on the earth. If we had some sort of meaningful sample size then it might have some substance. Considering the number of stars in just the Milky way, we would need quite a sample size to even come close to giving any substance to the probability claims in these sort of theistic arguments. And even in that case I would not consider these theistic arguments to have much validity.

    But at LEAST the probability claims in these theistic arguments are about something observable and measurable and so it is a least concievable that such probability claims COULD have some substance behind them. But these probability estimates about the existence of God??? The only substance I could even dream of giving to such estimates would be based on the statistics about how many believe in God and how many do not. I mean I know that is a pretty weak basis for such probability claims but what other objective measure could there be to substantiate such probability claims?

    Frankly, it all comes down to how many and which people you want to discount and dismiss, and on what basis you would do so. If your basis for discounting and dismissing people is based on how they agree with what you believe then you are contaminating your own objectivity - hell you are throwing it out the window. Well as a pragmatist I am highly inclined to put considerable weight on how seriously I take people based on the contributions they make to the quality of human life. That does indeed give considerable weight to the scientific community, but not only is that insufficient to decide this question but I hardly think that the scientific community is the ONLY ones who have made important contributions to the quality of human life.

    Setting aside the scientific community, because of the contributions of the secular societies in Great Britain, for example, I will NEVER have cause to dismiss and discount the weight of the opinion of the atheist community. However it requires no effort to see substantial contributions from theists as well. The contributions of the Quakers, for example, were quite substantial and pervasive.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Well I think this indulgence in COMPLETELY subjective probability claims is quite an amusing way that Dawkins and others have hidden a methodology typical of religion behind a screen of technobabble. It is just like these arguments of theists about the improbability of life on the earth. There is at the moment no objective basis for making such probability statements. And I frankly would have expected better of Dawkins on this. sigh...

    Take the estimate of the probability of life on the earth. If we had some sort of meaningful sample size then it might have some substance. Considering the number of stars in just the Milky way, we would need quite a sample size to even come close to giving any substance to the probability claims in these sort of theistic arguments. And even in that case I would not consider these theistic arguments to have much validity.

    But at LEAST the probability claims in these theistic arguments are about something observable and measurable and so it is a least concievable that such probability claims COULD have some substance behind them. But these probability estimates about the existence of God??? The only substance I could even dream of giving to such estimates would be based on the statistics about how many believe in God and how many do not. I mean I know that is a pretty weak basis for such probability claims but what other objective measure could there be to substantiate such probability claims?

    Frankly, it all comes down to how many and which people you want to discount and dismiss, and on what basis you would do so. If your basis for discounting and dismissing people is based on how they agree with what you believe then you are contaminating your own objectivity - hell you are throwing it out the window. Well as a pragmatist I am highly inclined to put considerable weight on how seriously I take people based on the contributions they make to the quality of human life. That does indeed give considerable weight to the scientific community, but not only is that insufficient to decide this question but I hardly think that the scientific community is the ONLY ones who have made important contributions to the quality of human life.

    Setting aside the scientific community, because of the contributions of the secular societies in Great Britain, for example, I will NEVER have cause to dismiss and discount the weight of the opinion of the atheist community. However it requires no effort to see substantial contributions from theists as well. The contributions of the Quakers, for example, were quite substantial and pervasive.
    Note that Dawkins isn't saying that he is a 6 because there is a low probability of God existing. He is saying that his subjective response to the question of whether gods exist, is that there is a low probability in his opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    There is at the moment no objective basis for making such probability statements. And I frankly would have expected better of Dawkins on this. sigh...
    As a physicist, you should understand the concept of probabilities far better than that. sigh...

    And even in that case I would not consider these theistic arguments to have much validity.
    Of course not, theists have a very poor understanding of those probabilities.

    But these probability estimates about the existence of God??? The only substance I could even dream of giving to such estimates would be based on the statistics about how many believe in God and how many do not. I mean I know that is a pretty weak basis for such probability claims but what other objective measure could there be to substantiate such probability claims?
    Quite simply, the claims of billions of theists and the demonstration of such for the many centuries of time.

    I hardly think that the scientific community is the ONLY ones who have made important contributions to the quality of human life.
    What have the Abrahamic cults contributed to the quality of human life?
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    We are back to arguing semantics. Since the English language is one that simply evolved, with word meanings often in a state of flux, sometimes a word can mean two different things, depending on who you talk to.

    I have always used the words 'atheism' and 'agnostic' in a way that is close to their derivation.

    Atheist comes from the Greek words a - meaning without, and Theos - meaning God. Hence the meaning 'without God'.

    Agnostic is literally 'without belief'.

    Of course, since English is so imprecise, useage can lead to these words coming to mean different things in different places. For this reason, semantics can often be a seriously unsatisfactory argument, and one with polarised differences.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Agnostic is literally 'without belief'.
    Isn't it 'without knowledge' of gods?
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    Correct. However, there are several possible meanings, which is why semantics is such a frustrating and irritating way of arguing.
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    So... Three pages of arguing semantics... Didn't I predict this?
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
    -Plato

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    OK. Getting away from semantics. The original question was :

    "simple question, if you are an atheist, have you been an atheist all your life, or did you become an atheist later in life?"

    I was raised by fervently religious parents, and decided at age 15 that things did not make sense. At that stage, I became a non believer (argue that term, you semantics enthusiasts!!).

    Perhaps a more interesting question might be why? Why are non believers non believers in spite of a religious upbringing? Any comments?
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    My father went through a rigidly Catholic upbringing (praying the entire rosary every night, memorizing the catechism, going to a harsh Catholic school) and while he is still very much a Christian, he has pretty much turned his back on a Church with which he sees nothing positive. My mother was brought up similarly, but years working as a paramedic changed her views from catholic to more of a agnostic deist. Point is, everyone is brought up by their parents, and unknowingly or not, parents end up trying to teach their children the same views that they have. Sometimes children rebel wholeheartedly against the philosophies of the parents, other times they accept them, while most I would say do a little bit of both (Have you honestly never thought "I could do it better than them!"?). When brought up in a rigid religious structure, many people see what else the world offers and start asking questions like "How do we know we are right?" "why are these guys doing it better?" and different variations of "why?" Sometimes the educators and parents can answer well enough, other times they cant. Who is to say, there are a myriad of factors but younger people will always be rebellious against the establishment.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    which is why semantics is such a frustrating and irritating way of arguing.
    Right because talking past one another, with no hope of reaching common ground is infinitely more rewarding.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    I became a non believer (argue that term, you semantics enthusiasts!!
    No need to...unless some apologist tries to redefine it to suit their agenda (of course, I also think "atheist" doesn't need to be argued either, so...)

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Perhaps a more interesting question might be why? Why are non believers non believers in spite of a religious upbringing? Any comments?
    Rebellion? In my case it was a simple matter of trying to find answers to questions and then eventually realizing that the questions were wrong. I imagine there are probably 3 or 4 common themes.
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    I must ask of Phoenix; what is the term for a person who believes, actively, that there is no God? Because whatever it is, that's me.

    I had a more laxed upbringing, no church or anything formal, but we did have the idea that there is a God pumped into us. I was misdiagnosed ocd when I was really young, because I had a fixation on answering questions. One of the questions I had stuck in my mind, was "Is God really real?" and in an attempt to answer that question (not going over it right now...) I found the answer that he does not, and that has become my firm belief.

    I think it all comes down to what you can accept and what you can't, because if you can accept that there is a God, then kudos, that's fantastic and a viable way to live your life. I can't, and as such I don't.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I must ask of Phoenix; what is the term for a person who believes, actively, that there is no God? Because whatever it is, that's me.
    That's a good question. "Someone willing to take indefensible positions" is the most polite label that springs to mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I had a more laxed upbringing, no church or anything formal, but we did have the idea that there is a God pumped into us. I was misdiagnosed ocd when I was really young, because I had a fixation on answering questions. One of the questions I had stuck in my mind, was "Is God really real?" and in an attempt to answer that question (not going over it right now...) I found the answer that he does not, and that has become my firm belief.
    Again, I don't know how finds proof of something not existing. I completely relate to the absence of evidence, but you're making the claim that you found evidence of absence. I find that as difficult to believe as I do claims to evidence of existence.

    Once more, I would direct anyone interested to Russell's Teapot.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I think it all comes down to what you can accept and what you can't, because if you can accept that there is a God, then kudos, that's fantastic and a viable way to live your life. I can't, and as such I don't.
    I think that the arguments presented for the existence of god have no merit whatsoever, but I acknowledge that this doesn't mean that god does not exist. It simply means that god does not exist as some people have described him/her/it/them. I can't prove that the Invisible Pink Unicorn doesn't really exist, but I don't have accept the claim that it does either. It may be that it's actually purple and that it has 2 horns instead of 1, but so long as it remains metaphysical (e.g. existing outside of our existence) there's no way to know. So why waste time on a question which by it's very nature, cannot be answered?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I must ask of Phoenix; what is the term for a person who believes, actively, that there is no God? Because whatever it is, that's me.
    anti-theist?
    maybe we need a new name for an atheist ideology that actively disbelieves in god(s),
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    anti-theist?
    Perhaps.

    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    maybe we need a new name for an atheist ideology that actively disbelieves in god(s),
    I would argue that a claim against god is actually a form of theism, since it is in fact a belief about a deity. Not sure I'm willing to go to the mat on that one though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I must ask of Phoenix; what is the term for a person who believes, actively, that there is no God? Because whatever it is, that's me.

    "Is God really real?" and in an attempt to answer that question (not going over it right now...) I found the answer that he does not, and that has become my firm belief.
    Note that you say it has become your "firm belief" - what difference is that from theists claims of their gods? You join them in taking an untenable position.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I must ask of Phoenix; what is the term for a person who believes, actively, that there is no God? Because whatever it is, that's me.
    anti-theist?
    NO. That would mean against theists. I have already used this term for the brand of atheism that is intolerant of theists, of which we have plenty. One can believe there is no God but still believe that there is no harm in believing that there is a God. In fact we have one atheist here who recently expressed the sentiment that believing in the existence of God would actually be a great way to live life, even though he personally could not believe this.


    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    maybe we need a new name for an atheist ideology that actively disbelieves in god(s),
    I believe that Arcane_Mathematician's question was a rhetorical one. We already have a term for actively believing that no God or gods exist. That term is atheism. Just because some people here are confused about the difference between atheism and agnosticsm or want to confuse things with dumb rhetoric does not mean that we need a new term for it.
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    Was there not such a thing as strong and weak atheism?
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    NO. That would mean against theists. I have already used this term for the brand of atheism that is intolerant of theists, of which we have plenty.
    Oh. Did you hear that everyone? Call off the party, MM has already decided what it means.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I believe that Arcane_Mathematician's question was a rhetorical one. We already have a term for actively believing that no God or gods exist. That term is atheism.
    Except that isn't what "atheism" means.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Just because some people here are confused about the difference between atheism and agnosticsm or want to confuse things with dumb rhetoric does not mean that we need a new term for it.
    Yes, clearly there are some people here that are confused and life would be a lot better if they decided not to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    Was there not such a thing as strong and weak atheism?
    Is there such a thing as strong vs weak pregnancy? Either you have a belief in a god or gods or you do not.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    I believe that Arcane_Mathematician's question was a rhetorical one. We already have a term for actively believing that no God or gods exist. That term is atheism. Just because some people here are confused about the difference between atheism and agnosticsm or want to confuse things with dumb rhetoric does not mean that we need a new term for it.
    The confusion persists, though.

    The critical error in Mitch's argument is that he assumes his personal beliefs as fact, creating the position of default for a gods existence by fallaciously assigning "active believing that no gods exist" to the definition of atheism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Is there such a thing as strong vs weak pregnancy? Either you have a belief in a god or gods or you do not.
    I can agree that atheism simply means a lack of a belief in any deities, but it's a bit more to it than that. Do you explicitly affirm the nonexistence of a god, or do you not believe in god but admit that you can't know for certain.

    Although the difference is small, and perhaps insignificant, it's there. I don't really care to dwell on the matter though, because atheism is such a vague and useless term. The lack of belief in any deities doesn't really say much, does it? You might still believe in the supernatural or something and still be an atheist. Atheism is simply an attribute you lack. It's not as if it's a whole philosophy/school of thought for itself or anything. Unless it's strong atheism of course.

    Perhaps we should differentiate between strong atheism as making a big deal out of your disbelief and weak as simply being either ignorant or nonchalant about your disbelief?

    However, I perfer to go under the label of 'naturalist' or 'metaphysical naturalist'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    Do you explicitly affirm the nonexistence of a god, or do you not believe in god but admit that you can't know for certain.
    I think the problem with that is the fact that so many gods (the one true god of the many one true gods) are espoused to exist, that one simply cannot make a general sweeping admittance.

    Therefore, since the burden of proof is on the claimant (theist), we have to scrutinize each and every claim made for it's validity. Perhaps, one version of god in which he's portrayed as a man (we are built in his image) or a version in which he's the cult of personality (Islam) would need to be questioned quite differently and might yield a wide variety of answers from theists that they themselves wouldn't agree, or simply could not be refuted due it's underlying nature.
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    Quote Originally Posted by (Q)
    I think the problem with that is the fact that so many gods (the one true god of the many one true gods) are espoused to exist, that one simply cannot make a general sweeping admittance.

    Therefore, since the burden of proof is on the claimant (theist), we have to scrutinize each and every claim made for it's validity. Perhaps, one version of god in which he's portrayed as a man (we are built in his image) or a version in which he's the cult of personality (Islam) would need to be questioned quite differently and might yield a wide variety of answers from theists that they themselves wouldn't agree, or simply could not be refuted due it's underlying nature.
    Well, you don't call anyone an a-thorist or a-krishnaist or whatever. Theism and atheism are generalized terms. Although theism can mean (from Wikipedia): "Theism, in [the] specific sense, conceives of God as personal and active in the governance and organization of the world and the universe."

    In that sense it would be fair to have a general difference between weak and strong atheism.

    However, I see what you are getting at, and it shows that a generalized term for belief in god(s) is quite meaningless and makes the generalized term for a lack of belief in such gods also quite meaningless.

    But I still find my last suggestion of differentiating between weak and strong -as making, or not making, a big deal out of a lack of belief- to be useful to some degree.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously

    However, I see what you are getting at, and it shows that a generalized term for belief in god(s) is quite meaningless and makes the generalized term for a lack of belief in such gods also quite meaningless.
    Which is why I rarely think about the relevance of the term. It is far more easier to simply question the claims of theists, one by one, the same as if we were to question a pseudo-scientist of their claims.

    But I still find my last suggestion of differentiating between weak and strong -as making, or not making, a big deal out of a lack of belief- to be useful to some degree.
    Perhaps, but you still fall into the trap of having to deal with a wide variety of what appears to be an inexhaustible amount of claims by theists, differing from each other in so much as theists themselves cannot agree.

    What to do, then? If theists don't agree with each other in the same way, how can we call ourselves atheists if they have taken the same position about another god? Are they now atheists, as well, in that regard?

    The following quote should reveal that concept in spades.

    "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further." --Richard Dawkins
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    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    I can agree that atheism simply means a lack of a belief in any deities, but it's a bit more to it than that.
    For instance?

    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    Do you explicitly affirm the nonexistence of a god, or do you not believe in god but admit that you can't know for certain.
    To affirm the nonexistence of a god would be a specific claim which I would then have the burden of proof to support. Since I prefer to avoid indefensible position, I will affirm that I do subscribe the latter

    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    Although the difference is small, and perhaps insignificant, it's there.
    I do agree that it's there, however I disagree that it's insignificant.

    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    I don't really care to dwell on the matter though, because atheism is such a vague and useless term.
    I do not agree that it's vague, but I probably agree that it's useless (we don't have abigfootism or alochnessmonsterism, so why we do we need a term for not believing in god? This is largely rhetorical)>

    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    Perhaps we should differentiate between strong atheism as making a big deal out of your disbelief and weak as simply being either ignorant or nonchalant about your disbelief?
    You could, but as you indicate above, the term "atheism" shouldn't even exist. If you really feel that this is true, then why would you advocate adding even more unnecessary baggage (this is not rhetorical)?

    Quote Originally Posted by Obviously
    However, I perfer to go under the label of 'naturalist' or 'metaphysical naturalist'.
    I look forward to a time when labels aren't necessary
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    I felt the need.

    Atheist

    A"the*ist\, n. [Gr. ? without god; 'a priv. + ? god: cf. F. ath['e]iste.]

    1. One who disbelieves or denies the existence of a God, or supreme intelligent Being.

    2. A godless person. [Obs.]

    Syn: Infidel; unbeliever.
    a⋅the⋅ist  /ˈeɪθiɪst/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ey-thee-ist] Show IPA
    Use atheist in a Sentence
    –noun a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Origin:
    1565–75; < Gk áthe(os) godless + -ist
    a·the·ist (ā'thē-ĭst)
    n. One who disbelieves or denies the existence of God or gods.
    is Dictionary.com credible?

    And, agnostic:
    ag⋅nos⋅tic  /ægˈnɒstɪk/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [ag-nos-tik] Show IPA
    Use agnostic in a Sentence
    –noun 1. a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience.
    2. a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.

    –adjective 3. of or pertaining to agnostics or agnosticism.
    4. asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Origin:
    < Gk ágnōst(os), var. of ágnōtos not known, incapable of being known (a- a- 6 + gnōtós known, adj. deriv. from base of gignskein to know) + -ic, after gnostic; said to have been coined by T.H. Huxley in 1869
    ag·nos·tic (āg-nŏs'tĭk)
    n.

    One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
    One who is skeptical about the existence of God but does not profess true atheism.
    One who is doubtful or noncommittal about something.
    While I commend you, Phoenix, for knowing the greek root words, it's not the same as the direct translation. Direct translations are rarely applicable.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I think it all comes down to what you can accept and what you can't, because if you can accept that there is a God, then kudos, that's fantastic and a viable way to live your life. I can't, and as such I don't.
    I think that the arguments presented for the existence of god have no merit whatsoever, but I acknowledge that this doesn't mean that god does not exist. It simply means that god does not exist as some people have described him/her/it/them. I can't prove that the Invisible Pink Unicorn doesn't really exist, but I don't have accept the claim that it does either. It may be that it's actually purple and that it has 2 horns instead of 1, but so long as it remains metaphysical (e.g. existing outside of our existence) there's no way to know. So why waste time on a question which by it's very nature, cannot be answered?
    If you really believe that, why are you here, arguing over that very question?

    And perhaps, I should better clarify myself, I believe that there is no God presiding over and existing in this plane of existence. I will make no claim either for nor against the existence of a being beyond the capacity of our plane of existence, but I will claim that it is impossible for that said being to exist in our plane of existence in any way that causes it to be "all-powerful" or in any position to take ownership or control over this plane of existence.
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    Is Dictionary.com credible?
    If I posted the definition offered by Merriam-Webster or the Oxford dictionary (or any other dictionary, all of which are different, if only slightly in some cases) and asked you the same question, what would you say? What would it accomplish?

    The simple fact is that the problem with going by "the dictionary" is that the sources don't agree. You may consider dictionary.com to be the best, but I might disagree.

    You might consider my disagreement arbitrary, just as I consider your loyalty to some unnamed etymologist to be arbitrary. The only way to resolve this difference (that I can see) would be to sit down and present arguments over why one definition would be better than another. So far no one here has been willing to do that (I've been posting my definition and rationale for several days now and respondents have shown no interest in actual debate). The closest that we've come thus far is your recently presented argument from authority.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    While I commend you, Phoenix, for knowing the greek root words, it's not the same as the direct translation. Direct translations are rarely applicable.
    I'm afraid this comment makes absolutely no sense to me. "The actual meaning is actually useless because it doesn't allow me to show how I can bastardize the meaning to suit the purposes of my argument".

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    If you really believe that, why are you here, arguing over that very question?
    Because I believe that people that do accept things on faith (i.e. without good reason) are dangerous. Because I acknowledge that there is a culture war and that to sit back with my eyes closed and my ears covered, hoping that irrational thinking will eventually go away on it's own is the same thing as extending an invitation the Rapture Right to do whatever they want in this country without any opposition.

    Beliefs have consequences. Even (especially?) for those that don't share them.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    And perhaps, I should better clarify myself, I believe that there is no God presiding over and existing in this plane of existence.
    Okay, but that still a claim and I'm still interested in seeing your evidence for said claim. And again, because you're claiming that you've proven a negative, I find your claim very difficult to accept and predict whatever "evidence" you have is going to be unsatisfactory.

    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I will make no claim either for nor against the existence of a being beyond the capacity of our plane of existence, but I will claim that it is impossible for that said being to exist in our plane of existence in any way that causes it to be "all-powerful" or in any position to take ownership or control over this plane of existence.
    Same for this. You're claiming that it's "impossible". What is your evidence?
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    We are still arguing semantics.

    Can we not agree that a theist is someone who believes in a God or gods; atheist is someone who reasonably decidedly does not; and agnostic is a person who sits on the fence?? And then we move on?

    I agree firmly that it is not possible to prove a negative. Thus to say :"There is no God," is not reasonable. Instead we can say : "There is no clear cut, objective, credible, empirically derived evidence that a God exists."

    If someone is a theist, I believe they adopt that belief out of faith rather than objective empirical evidence. Hence my status as a sitter on the fence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Can we not agree that a theist is someone who believes in a God or gods;
    Yep.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    atheist is someone who reasonably decidedly does not;
    Sure. However it's not me you have to convince. It's those that mischaracterize it as a belief itself (which it is not).

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    and agnostic is a person who sits on the fence??
    Nope. Stating that god is unknowable is not the same thing as saying that it's equally likely. Regardless, people either behave as though they believe or they do not. And we already have terms for that.

    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    Hence my status as a sitter on the fence.
    I'm guessing that you're actually atheist agnostic. Unless you both go to church and not go to church at the same time
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    Quote Originally Posted by skeptic
    We are still arguing semantics.

    Can we not agree that a theist is someone who believes in a God or gods; atheist is someone who reasonably decidedly does not; and agnostic is a person who sits on the fence?? And then we move on?
    yes, i agree with that statement.
    i guess the disagreement is about whats inside the box.
    if belief was a box, theists would put their belief inside the box.
    atheists deletes the gods from the box, and its empty.
    however, some theists claim that atheists have a god in their belief box, they just deny its there. which is basically the "is non-belief a belief" squabble.
    i think we can make the distinction between active, and passive atheism.

    passive atheism, is for those blessed enough to never have heard of religion, like
    the common house fly. it doesn't know about religion, and hence, it has no belief box.
    while active atheism, is for those who have believed in the past, but does no more.
    they still have a belief box, where their god used to be, but its now empty, so they go around the world, showing the empty box to everyone and says "look, no gods!"
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    passive atheism, is for those blessed enough to never have heard of religion, like the common house fly. it doesn't know about religion, and hence, it has no belief box. while active atheism, is for those who have believed in the past, but does no more.
    they still have a belief box, where their god used to be, but its now empty, so they go around the world, showing the empty box to everyone and says "look, no gods!"
    Why not simply have one term for people that don't believe and call it "atheism"? Taking this path will require us to invent terms for every possible road to atheism (I notice that neither one of your suggestions encapsulate people who are neither houseflies nor were religious in the past).
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    I think it is entirely possible for atheist parents to drill into their child's head that religion is a bunch of tom foolery composed of poor, ignorant semi-savages who have been lied to their whole lives and are too stupid to see reality for what it really is (I.E. how the parents see it). If people can be raised to believe without a shadow of a doubt that various political, economic, and religious ideologies are the one, true way and that every other way is ignorant and stupid, then atheism indoctrination is entirely possible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Why not simply have one term for people that don't believe and call it "atheism"? Taking this path will require us to invent terms for every possible road to atheism (I notice that neither one of your suggestions encapsulate people who are neither houseflies nor were religious in the past).
    those people who have never heard about religion would be passive atheists, just like houseflies. i just put up houseflies as a basis for for the ultimate non-believer.

    both terms would be a sub-category of atheism, so calling them atheist would be correct, calling it passive/active atheism, is just an extra step to more accurately describe it.
    sort of like how object-oriented programming works.

    class atheism()
    {
    public bool passive;
    public bool active;
    }

    :P
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    those people who have never heard about religion would be passive atheists, just like houseflies. i just put up houseflies as a basis for for the ultimate non-believer.

    both terms would be a sub-category of atheism, so calling them atheist would be correct, calling it passive/active atheism, is just an extra step to more accurately describe it.
    sort of like how object-oriented programming works.
    Yeah and now we can define passive theists too: these are those who believe in God but just don't know it yet, just like houseflies, for example. BOY is it easy to put words in the mouths of flies, babies and those who do not speak for themselves! LOL
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    is just an extra step to more accurately describe it.
    Except that it's not "more accurate". All that leaves is "extra step".

    Question: do you feel that similar distinctions are necessary for those that have never heard of bigfoot vs those that used to believe in bigfoot but then realized they didn't really have any reason to. Or maybe a third category for people who were raised in a household in which parents "actively indoctrinated" their children to reject the idea of bigfoot?

    If not then your quest doesn't seem like a sincere attempt to clarify fuzzy language, rather to arbitrarily redefine words for lack of a better hobby.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    those people who have never heard about religion would be passive atheists, just like houseflies. i just put up houseflies as a basis for for the ultimate non-believer.

    both terms would be a sub-category of atheism, so calling them atheist would be correct, calling it passive/active atheism, is just an extra step to more accurately describe it.
    sort of like how object-oriented programming works.
    Yeah and now we can define passive theists too: these are those who believe in God but just don't know it yet, just like houseflies, for example. BOY is it easy to put words in the mouths of flies, babies and those who do not speak for themselves! LOL
    there's no subclass of active and passive for theism.
    the theism class would be this:

    class theism()
    {
    sub-class monotheistic beliefs
    {
    sub-class jewish;
    sub-class christian;
    sub-class muslim;
    etc.
    };
    sub-class polytheistic beliefs
    {
    sub-class hinduism;
    sub-class greek gods;
    sub-class norse mythology;
    etc.
    }
    }
    these again, would be subclasses of religion, which buddhism is a part of.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    is just an extra step to more accurately describe it.
    Except that it's not "more accurate". All that leaves is "extra step".

    Question: do you feel that similar distinctions are necessary for those that have never heard of bigfoot vs those that used to believe in bigfoot but then realized they didn't really have any reason to. Or maybe a third category for people who were raised in a household in which parents "actively indoctrinated" their children to reject the idea of bigfoot?

    If not then your quest doesn't seem like a sincere attempt to clarify fuzzy language, rather to arbitrarily redefine words for lack of a better hobby.
    why would you even need a third distinction for people with parents who actively indoctrinate their children to reject the idea of bigfoot?

    those would go into the category of active a-bigfootists :P
    since the moment they hear about it, they go from passive, to active disbelievers.

    i'll invent a completely new religion now.
    i'll call it horseshoeism. none of you have ever heard of it before.
    you've all been passive A-horsehoeists, until i now mentioned it.
    now you are active A-horseshoeists, since you disbelieve in horseshoeism.
    but now i will try and convert you into believing in horseshoeism.
    if i succeed, you will become horseshoeists.
    basically, horseshoeism, is the belief, that horseshoes bring luck.
    all you need to do to be a horseshoeist, is to believe horseshoes bring luck.

    it would be like a cow not knowing it is a cow until its labeled a cow.
    anyways, imo, semantics is important, if there's no clear distinction between words, their meaning becomes malleable. and sooner or later, you end up with a new language.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    why would you even need a third distinction for people with parents who actively indoctrinate their children to reject the idea of bigfoot? those would go into the category of active a-bigfootists :P
    since the moment they hear about it, they go from passive, to active disbelievers.
    I wonder if you if you continue to miss the point intentionally or if you're just not reading the posts.

    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    i'll invent a completely new religion now.
    i'll call it horseshoeism. none of you have ever heard of it before.
    you've all been passive A-horsehoeists, until i now mentioned it.
    now you are active A-horseshoeists, since you disbelieve in horseshoeism.
    Except that you're completely missing the point which has been raised ad nauseum about the logical inconsistency in "actively denying the existence" of anything.

    If being an A-horseshoeists means that I lack a belief in horseshoeism, then there doesn't seem to be any reason whatsoever to distinguish between "active" and "passive". They both mean "without belief". "Active" and "Passive" are states that you've invented and have yet to be able to provide a good reason for needing.

    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    but now i will try and convert you into believing in horseshoeism.
    if i succeed, you will become horseshoeists.
    Great.

    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    basically, horseshoeism, is the belief, that horseshoes bring luck.
    all you need to do to be a horseshoeist, is to believe horseshoes bring luck.
    Fabulous. However we already have an umbrella for this kinda shoddy thinking. It's called "superstition". My bigfoot argument is still sitting there awaiting your rebuttal at any time.

    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    anyways, imo, semantics is important, if there's no clear distinction between words, their meaning becomes malleable.
    Great. Does this mean we won't be able to look forward to any more of your bemoaning semantics discussion in your posts?

    Quote Originally Posted by dejawolf
    and sooner or later, you end up with a new language.
    Right. Like when people try to redefine "atheism" to mean something it doesn't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KomradRed
    I think it is entirely possible for atheist parents to drill into their child's head that religion is a bunch of tom foolery composed of poor, ignorant semi-savages who have been lied to their whole lives and are too stupid to see reality for what it really is (I.E. how the parents see it). If people can be raised to believe without a shadow of a doubt that various political, economic, and religious ideologies are the one, true way and that every other way is ignorant and stupid, then atheism indoctrination is entirely possible.
    Why would you assume people who have been indoctrinated into a cult that teach their children to accept delusions without question have anything to do with people who simply teach their children to think for themselves?
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    Because you can indoctrinate anyone with anything. For example, the Great Cultural Revolution in China mobilized hundreds of thousands of young people who were indoctrinated with Maoist philosophy and marxist propaganda. These parties of Red Guardsmen patrolled the country, terrorizing the populace and committing many heinous acts including persecution of China's Muslim and Buddhist populations since Maoist thought was fundamentally opposed to the idea of religion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KomradRed
    Because you can indoctrinate anyone with anything.
    Possibly, but there is a clear distinction between indoctrination and teaching, a distinction unknown to most theists.
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    Indeed, people can be indoctrinated into any ideology. However you do have to be careful to recognize that teaching and indoctrinating are not the same thing. One does not become indoctrinated to think for oneself any more than we are indoctrinated to believe that 2+2=4.

    To Q's point (at least, what I believe was Q's point), not indoctrinating your children to accept Iron Age superstitions is not the same thing as indoctrinating them to be atheists.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG

    To Q's point (at least, what I believe was Q's point), not indoctrinating your children to accept Iron Age superstitions is not the same thing as indoctrinating them to be atheists.
    Indeed, just look at the figures for twentieth century democides and you can see how indoctrination with atheism works.

    Basic critical thinking skills should tell us - do we really need MORE of these nuts running loose?

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    Statistical information is a very dangerous thing. It can lead to beliefs that one group is exceedingly dangerous and should be eliminated. I think the best way to sum up all of the horrible excesses in human history is to say that Man will find an infinite number of excuses to hide the fact that we are predisposed to violence and heinous activities and no matter how much we may try to hide under the guise of religion, atheism, or whatnot, all we can do is blame ourselves.
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    Indeed, just look at the figures for twentieth century democides and you can see how indoctrination with atheism works.

    Basic critical thinking skills should tell us - do we really need MORE of these nuts running loose?
    Basic critical thinking skills would also reveal countries on your list in which those 'democides' were contrived by theists, carried out by theists against other theists.
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    Not if we used basic critical thinking skills and realised what was happening in those countries during those years. :?

    But on an average, the atheists even as a minority seem to do way more damage.
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    Words
    While it seems obvious that you've been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to trot out that table, I'm not sure it has any relevance to what I said.
    "PhoenixG makes me puke that why I quoted him." - esbo
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    Words
    While it seems obvious that you've been eagerly awaiting an opportunity to trot out that table, I'm not sure it has any relevance to what I said.
    It must be all the brain matter. Takes some time to process the critical thoughts. :?

    Quote Originally Posted by KomradRed
    Statistical information is a very dangerous thing. It can lead to beliefs that one group is exceedingly dangerous and should be eliminated. I think the best way to sum up all of the horrible excesses in human history is to say that Man will find an infinite number of excuses to hide the fact that we are predisposed to violence and heinous activities and no matter how much we may try to hide under the guise of religion, atheism, or whatnot, all we can do is blame ourselves.
    Now you say that, when the atheists turn out as demons, I mean democidal.
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    <duplicate>
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    It must be all the brain matter. Takes some time to process the critical thoughts. :?
    While I'm sure these snappy comebacks are doing wonders for your post count, I'm not sure the non sequitur is doing much to strengthen your case.

    EDIT: hey, sam, why don't you go take a look at the top 5 countries in UN human development index for the last 10 years and then get back to us.
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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    Now you say that, when the atheists turn out as demons, I mean democidal.
    Could you please explain this?

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    EDIT: hey, sam, why don't you go take a look at the top 5 countries in UN human development index for the last 10 years and then get back to us.
    And what exactly will this prove?
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    That the notion that atheism is dangerous is preposterous.

    The countries that continuously rank highest on the index are some of the most atheistic in the world, yet we don't see the killing field writ large throughout modern Europe.

    Dogmatism is dangerous. Putting crazy people in charge of your country (and your military) is dangerous. Accepting that there is no evidence for sky-daddy claims is not dangerous.

    EDIT: Speaking of people named sam....

    From 10 myths—and 10 Truths—About Atheism

    2) Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history.

    People of faith often claim that the crimes of Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot were the inevitable product of unbelief. The problem with fascism and communism, however, is not that they are too critical of religion; the problem is that they are too much like religions. Such regimes are dogmatic to the core and generally give rise to personality cults that are indistinguishable from cults of religious hero worship. Auschwitz, the gulag and the killing fields were not examples of what happens when human beings reject religious dogma; they are examples of political, racial and nationalistic dogma run amok. There is no society in human history that ever suffered because its people became too reasonable.
    -Sam Harris
    "PhoenixG makes me puke that why I quoted him." - esbo
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    What about the reasonable men who attempted to appease Hitler in an attempt to stave off another World War? Men who had lost the nationalistic hatred that had been drilled into them when they were younger and attempted to understand Hitler and the new regime that he had created in Germany? Hitler may have been unreasonable, but these well meaning men were very reasonable, yet they still made disastrous mistakes, and ended up letting a mad dog drag Europe into a war that would kill 50 million people and destroy much of the continent
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    Quote Originally Posted by KomradRed
    What about the reasonable men who attempted to appease Hitler in an attempt to stave off another World War? Men who had lost the nationalistic hatred that had been drilled into them when they were younger and attempted to understand Hitler and the new regime that he had created in Germany? Hitler may have been unreasonable, but these well meaning men were very reasonable, yet they still made disastrous mistakes, and ended up letting a mad dog drag Europe into a war that would kill 50 million people and destroy much of the continent
    Off-topic and has no relevance to what we are discussing.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixG
    Off-topic and has no relevance to what we are discussing.
    I disagree. But even if it were so then I would immediately have to conclude that the person who went off topic with the non-relevant quote was you.

    The claim here is not that "Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history", but that atheism is no more innocent and safe than relgion because the greatest crimes in human history were not done in the name of God but in the name of philosophies that declared that there is no God and that a religion or all relgions are a disease - a philosophy that was not only atheistic but anti-theistic. And therein lies the real danger - those who are so intolerant of the diversity of human thought that they feel they must look for excuses to demonize those who disagree with them. Typically the real underlying motivation of these atrocities is human greed for power and wealth and people who will use any excuse from religion or anti-religion in order to take these away from others. Those who are just intolerant and willingly demonize those who think differently than they do, are just the saps willing to be the pawns to help the monsters do so.

    The fundamentalists of all sorts are the danger, and the christian and islamic fundamentalists are indeed the largest and most powerful, but the new atheist fundamentalists are just as intolerant and irrational. But the really scary thing is that these extremists feed off of each other and hide behind their emnity, when the reality is that they are more similar than different. And feeding off of each other they will grow until we get another non-agression pact to plunge the world into a senseless sea of blood.
    See my physics of spaceflight simulator at http://www.relspace.astahost.com

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    Quote Originally Posted by samcdkey
    Not if we used basic critical thinking skills and realised what was happening in those countries during those years.

    But on an average, the atheists even as a minority seem to do way more damage.
    You've not demonstrated that in the least, nor have you made any relative connections to atheism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    The claim here is not that "Atheism is responsible for the greatest crimes in human history", but that atheism is no more innocent and safe than relgion because the greatest crimes in human history were not done in the name of God but in the name of philosophies that declared that there is no God and that a religion or all relgions are a disease - a philosophy that was not only atheistic but anti-theistic.
    An argument which I addressed.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    And therein lies the real danger - those who are so intolerant of the diversity of human thought that they feel they must look for excuses to demonize those who disagree with them.
    Indeed. However this has no bearing for those that don't demonize those that hold an ideology, but those that refute the shoddy ideologies themselves.

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    The fundamentalists of all sorts are the danger, and the christian and islamic fundamentalists are indeed the largest and most powerful, but the new atheist fundamentalists are just as intolerant and irrational.
    (here we go inventing new terms again)

    Sorry, "the new atheist" what? Atheism has no central tenets, therefore there cannot be any such thing as an "atheist fundamentalist" (any more so than I can imagine an abigfoot fundamentalist).

    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    But the really scary thing is that these extremists feed off of each other and hide behind their emnity, when the reality is that they are more similar than different. And feeding off of each other they will grow until we get another non-agression pact to plunge the world into a senseless sea of blood.
    Oh, I agree. Which is why I think exposing religion for bunk is definitely in the top 5 for most important things we should be doing to ensure the continuity of our species. I have no doubt that religious extremists have no qualms about running this planet right into oblivion. They aren't living for this world anyway.
    "PhoenixG makes me puke that why I quoted him." - esbo
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    The top murderers in sam's table were not atheists, but communists.
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    Quote Originally Posted by mitchellmckain
    the new atheist fundamentalists are just as intolerant and irrational.
    They must be the atheists who "fundamentally" do not accept theists claims?

    Of course, what Mitch is referring are the atheists who are taking a stand against the myths and superstitions plaguing mankind. They are intolerant of the stranglehold cults have on mankind and irrational to the dogma spouted by theists.

    Or, he could just be upset because someone dropped a house on his sister.
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    I am a scientist and the pros and cons of believing in a god are irrelevent to the existence of a god. If every act of violence ever commited was by an atheist...it does zip to prove the existence of a god or of a leprechaun or of ghosts or of fairies. Likewise if every act of kindness was done by a religious nutbar, it does nothing to prove the existence of a real Sponge bob, god, Donald Duck or a talking bowl of cereal.
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