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Thread: What's The Difference Between Agnostic and Atheist

  1. #1 What's The Difference Between Agnostic and Atheist 
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    thanks for your help!


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    How do you feel about the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster? Do you feel differently about the possibility of his existence than that of a god from some organised religion?


    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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    The way I understand it, is this:

    Agnosticism is a posit on what you know, or can know.


    Atheism is the absence of belief in a god.

    An atheist says, "I don't believe there is a god.

    Most atheists are willing to become a theist, IF, sufficient evidence is provided.


    Hard atheism, or some say agnostic atheism, says "I know there is/are no god/s."

    Theism is the belief in a god.



    I am an atheist. I don't think we can ever know for sure if a god exists, but I reject all of the theistic claims about their god.

    If you don't know if you're an atheist or an agnostic, it really is splitting hairs. You don't accept any of the theistic claims about a god right? You're an atheist.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster...when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you" - Friedrich Nietzsche

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    What was the original question and thread title?
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    He asked about the distinction between agnostic and atheist.
    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.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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    Haasum.. Gnostic Atheist means that they KNOW there is no God/Gods. Agnostic Atheist means that they don't know for sure if one is out there, but they highly doubt it and disbelieve the claim itself.
    "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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    The original poster's account has been suspended. I've restored the thread subject line. Luckily I quoted his/her entire OP in the other thread.

    It is truly irksome to have someone join, start one or more discussions, then go back and edit their posts to delete their OP after others have bothered to post. Not only is this rude, but it's dishonest since the person has, in essence, stolen time and effort from respondents.

    Ugh.
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Haasum.. Gnostic Atheist means that they KNOW there is no God/Gods. Agnostic Atheist means that they don't know for sure if one is out there, but they highly doubt it and disbelieve the claim itself.
    Bah I always forget about the Gnostics. Too many labels.
    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster...when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you" - Friedrich Nietzsche

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    I always thought the difference between agnostics and atheists was that agnostics are fence sitting wussies. :wink:




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    I remember somewhere on some thread Marnix writing, or quoting someone, "Agnosticism is but atheism that dare not speak the name". Personally, the point I am at in my own atheism is "I hold no concept of anthropic deity". This of course leaves open the question of; "Is the general structure of the universe analogous to cognitive structure?". Which I doubt can be answered effectively without more science and data than humanity collectively now possesses. Science itself is agnostic in it's assertion of "Our current best guess".
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    The trouble with atheism is that before you can not believe in God someone has to define God. It's effing impossible.
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    I think the biggest difference between agnostic and atheist is the degree with which they care about the topic, in that atheists tend to care more about the topic of religion and spirituality than do agnostics, who tend to just go "I really could not care less if there is or is not a god."
    Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools, because they have to say something.
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    The guy who coined this term "agnostic" meant it more as a method than position. It was supposed to mean don't assume positions you're uncertain of... i.e. don't take leaps of faith.

    Haasum said, "Most atheists are willing to become a theist, IF, sufficient evidence is provided." and I think that's true. Often atheists defend their position with Huxley's original agnosticism: they disbelieve in Thor because the evidence is faulty or insufficient. This is the most vocal group, which characterizes "the community" of atheists. They make us seem more critical than we need be.

    Where this puts "innocent atheists" (e.g. Bejing schoolchildren), or decided atheists, I don't know. Since neither type considers the truth value of any religion. We're kinda beneath the intellectual radar.

    The definition lately morphed into "undecided" or "fence sitter", or even "don't care". Now, "don't care" is a far cry from the original, "method, the essence of which lies in the vigorous application of a single principle..."
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    Quote Originally Posted by verzen
    Gnostic Atheist means that they KNOW there is no God/Gods. Agnostic Atheist means that they don't know for sure if one is out there, but they highly doubt it and disbelieve the claim itself.
    This the most accurate distinction so far in this thread. Most people think of Agnosticism as a "middle ground" between Atheism and Theism, but this is an oversimplification that is disingenuous to the words' actual meanings and leads to the type of stereotyping that is present in most discussions about this topic. (i.e. "fence-sitting agnostics" or "dogmatic atheists")

    Like pong and Haasum wrote, Agnosticism is more about methodology and can be applied to any form of belief. Alternatively, so can Gnosticism. Rationalists and science-minded individuals would agree that general agnosticism is the more intellectually honest position. So when applied to atheism and theism, we are left with four categories:

    1. Gnostic Theist -- One who accepts claims made about God(s) and is certain.
    2. Agnostic Theist -- One who accepts claims made about God(s) but is uncertain.
    3. Gnostic Atheist -- One who does not accept claims made about God(s) and is certain.
    4. Agnostic Atheist -- One who does not accept claims made about God(s) but is uncertain.

    Of self-described Agnostics, some will fall into category 2 and some will fall into category 4. But the interesting thing is that most self-described Atheists also fall into category 4. One thing I've found is that some self-described Agnostics who do fall in that category are simply avoiding calling themselves "atheist" under the belief that any form of Atheism is the same as Gnostic Atheism.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bunbury
    The trouble with atheism is that before you can not believe in God someone has to define God. It's effing impossible.
    Very true. People waiting for a viable definition before making a decission are called ignostics apparently. I would count myself as one generally. The definition of god as given by bible thumpers is to my mind a complete and utter fantasy though. I am a strong atheist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arcane_Mathematician
    I think the biggest difference between agnostic and atheist is the degree with which they care about the topic, in that atheists tend to care more about the topic of religion and spirituality than do agnostics, who tend to just go "I really could not care less if there is or is not a god."
    This agnostic is a devout agnostic. I take my agnosticism seriously. I am quite sure of my uncertainty. I am positive about how unsure I am. I know beyond any doubt that I do not know. I am a militant agnostic: I consider theists and atheists alike as fools for reaching a conclusion on insufficient evidence.
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    Either you think you have a god or you don't :-)
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Either you think you have a god or you don't :-)
    I'm a geologist. We are trained to be unsure..........At least I think some of us are, some of the time, probably.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I am a militant agnostic: I consider theists and atheists alike as fools for reaching a conclusion on insufficient evidence.
    An agnostic is someone who sits on the fence, so I imagine a militant agnostic is someone who stands on the fence while yelling in both directions.
    In the sense that 2 negatives make a positive, you could be right, but you would have to be as a 'militant agnostic' exactly 50% certain that God does/ does not exist. Not 49% or 51% certain even.
    So what is your stance with regard to fairies? Are you still agnostic there? You can't prove that they do not exist, so perhaps they do. In the case of the American anthropologist W.Y. Evans-Wentz, who researched a book called 'The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries', I assume he believed some percentage in the existance of fairies. He travelled in Scotland, Ireland, Wales and Brittany and built up a large body of evidence, despite the fact that he never saw a fairy himself. On this subject I am 100% atheist when it comes to fairies. I base this on the simple observation that knowledge of fairies only exists in the so called Celtic countries of North West Europe. Fairies are not to be confused with good or bad spirits, as the book makes this distinction.
    I am also 100% atheist when it comes to the God of Abraham, which proves to be same god as is revealed to Jews, Christians and Muslims. I base this on the belief that an omnipotent god would be impartial enough not to have a chosen people.
    Atheists are not fools. They have measured the probability of their stance and have been influenced by reason.
    Theists are not necessarily fools either. Most will harbour doubts about their faith, but will find it reinforced from time to time in the light of experience.
    Which I guess leaves the only fools to be agnostics.
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    I believe Ophiolite is quite correct that none of us can be sure, so in that sense his position is most logical. However, the question hardly has odds of 50/50... The chances of there being or not being a god are not that equivalent (IMO). For me, while I concede that I can never be sure, I am about 99.3289% certain, give or take a 1000th decimal place or two. Given that, despite my concession of lack of certainty, I don't think calling myself agnostic is the most accurate approach. YMMV.
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    @ Ophiolite

    This agnostic is a devout agnostic. I take my agnosticism seriously. I am quite sure of my uncertainty. I am positive about how unsure I am. I know beyond any doubt that I do not know. I am a militant agnostic: I consider theists and atheists alike as fools for reaching a conclusion on insufficient evidence.
    Lets take your belief to the brink. Imagine you have been in an accident and a doctor tells you that you have 10 minutes to live as you are bleeding out and they can't stop it in time to save your life.

    There you are sitting on that agnostic fence, the seconds are ticking away and you start thinking if there is a hell you really don't want to go there. Are you going to hedge your bet and accept Jesus just to be sure? You know what they say about fox holes on the battlefield?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    There you are sitting on that agnostic fence, the seconds are ticking away and you start thinking if there is a hell you really don't want to go there. Are you going to hedge your bet and accept Jesus just to be sure? You know what they say about fox holes on the battlefield?
    Pascal's wager makes no sense for several reasons, the most important one is that people can't choose their beliefs.
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    To be clear, an agnostic is someone who readily admits that knowledge of the existence of one or more gods is probably not knowable. The universe and the cosmos are big. To profess to know implies, for one, that there exists some method of testing all reaches of the cosmos.

    This is why one can be both atheist and agnostic. I live my life without any belief in god(s); yet I readily admit I can't truly say for certain that god(s) do(es) not exist.

    I'm reasonably sure if there are gods, none are those created by man through judeo-christo-islamic myths. Those gods are preposterous to say the least, and almost certainly do not exist.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Twit of wit
    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    There you are sitting on that agnostic fence, the seconds are ticking away and you start thinking if there is a hell you really don't want to go there. Are you going to hedge your bet and accept Jesus just to be sure? You know what they say about fox holes on the battlefield?
    Pascal's wager makes no sense for several reasons, the most important one is that people can't choose their beliefs.
    You may be correct about being not able to choose a belief, but with a sufficiently open mind and a will to work at changing ones self I think a belief system can change. But the real point being I think some large percentage of people don't present their beliefs to others as they really are deep down in their subconscious and at the point of consciously knowing you are about to die, the real subconscious beliefs might come to the foreground to plague the dying soul.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    To be clear, an agnostic is someone who readily admits that knowledge of the existence of one or more gods is probably not knowable. The universe and the cosmos are big. To profess to know implies, for one, that there exists some method of testing all reaches of the cosmos.

    This is why one can be both atheist and agnostic. I live my life without any belief in god(s); yet I readily admit I can't truly say for certain that god(s) do(es) not exist.

    I'm reasonably sure if there are gods, none are those created by man through judeo-christo-islamic myths. Those gods are preposterous to say the least, and almost certainly do not exist.
    What I think is when it comes to my death it does not matter if there is a God or not. Death is natural for all living things and therefore what follows after death is also natural and no speculation about what happens to my so called soul after death is worth my time thinking about. I have already made piece with my death whenever it may come and it holds no fear for me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    There you are sitting on that agnostic fence, the seconds are ticking away and you start thinking if there is a hell you really don't want to go there. Are you going to hedge your bet and accept Jesus just to be sure? You know what they say about fox holes on the battlefield?
    Sorry Lance, but that scenario is mind numbingly simplistic and infantile, but I'll humour you.

    1. Why are you singling out one religion from the thousands, indeed tens of thousands that have existed through human history? And why are you singling out this particular religion? While I cannot be certain as to the existence of a God. I am certain that any God is not the literal God of Old or New Testament.

    2. Why do people subscribe to this stupid - and I do mean stupid, really stupid - notion that conflates the existence of a God with reality of life after death. The two are completely independent concepts. There could easily be a a God, but no immortality. there could easily be immortality, but no God. Your basic premise is utterly flawed because of that basic error.

    3. When I had my first stroke and was provisionally diagnosed with a brain tumour, I was more than ten minutes away from death, but I was fairly sure my number was up. So I can answer your question directly - I did not feel any inclination to accept Jesus. I did consider converting to Islam, but that was simply to make my wife happy, as she is a moderately devout Moslem.

    Now really Lance, this post of yours was not worthy of your usual standard. Please do better in future.
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    @ Ophiolite

    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    There you are sitting on that agnostic fence, the seconds are ticking away and you start thinking if there is a hell you really don't want to go there. Are you going to hedge your bet and accept Jesus just to be sure? You know what they say about fox holes on the battlefield?
    Sorry Lance, but that scenario is mind numbingly simplistic and infantile, but I'll humour you.

    1. Why are you singling out one religion from the thousands, indeed tens of thousands that have existed through human history? And why are you singling out this particular religion? While I cannot be certain as to the existence of a God. I am certain that any God is not the literal God of Old or New Testament.
    Well you got me there, most of what I know about religion comes from people I've known during my life and most of that has been Christian and had I known you better I probably would have structured my question differently.

    2. Why do people subscribe to this stupid - and I do mean stupid, really stupid - notion that conflates the existence of a God with reality of life after death. The two are completely independent concepts. There could easily be a a God, but no immortality. there could easily be immortality, but no God. Your basic premise is utterly flawed because of that basic error.
    Again I was assuming Christianity which is quite concerned with the human soul after death. Other than that I do agree with you on the stupidity of it all.

    3. When I had my first stroke and was provisionally diagnosed with a brain tumour, I was more than ten minutes away from death, but I was fairly sure my number was up. So I can answer your question directly - I did not feel any inclination to accept Jesus. I did consider converting to Islam, but that was simply to make my wife happy, as she is a moderately devout Moslem.
    Okay sounds like you've made peace with your death the same as I have with mine.
    The scenario I described might have been simplistic but it was one a great many number of people could identify with, so I used it.

    Now really Lance, this post of yours was not worthy of your usual standard. Please do better in future.
    I'm sorry but it seems like you took this post to be a little more personal than I intended, please accept my apology for that.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    Okay sounds like you've made peace with your death the same as I have with mine.
    Absolutely not. I'm pissed off that I have to die. I resent the situation. I'm with Dylan Thomas on this one.

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


    I'm sorry but it seems like you took this post to be a little more personal than I intended, please accept my apology for that.
    I didn't take it personally. I was just annoyed that you had been asking a question that was - in my view - silly, when usually your posts are well thought out.
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    @ Ophiolite

    Absolutely not. I'm pissed off that I have to die. I resent the situation. I'm with Dylan Thomas on this one.

    Do not go gentle into that good night,
    Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
    Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
    It seemed like you had accepted your death when you thought your number was up. I can't say I want to go any sooner than I have to either. However, I'm not very happy with what's happening to my aging body, and I can foresee a time when my quality of life will dip below what I consider worth living with.
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    I considered myself to be a former "practicing agnostic".

    What I mean is that I used to attend religious practice at a minimum level to "hedge my bets" just in case God existed. Although, I was not certain that God existed, I just figured it would be unwise to anger Him, if in fact there was a Christian God.

    It was only later in life that I decided to try and find out for myself if God really did exist.

    Then, I became a believer. Now, although I am not certain of my own future because I have many faults, I am 99.999% certain, that God exists.

    Thus, for many people, being "agnostic" and even "atheist" are temporary states.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    I am 99.999% certain, that God exists...."agnostic" and even "atheist" are temporary states.
    How much of 99.999% is wishful thinking? A percentage of it must be. The notion of God is man-made. Suppose an asteroid or comet was on a collision course with earth, like that which wiped out the dinosaurs. Would 'God' interfere? I'm sure 'he' wouldn't. Would 'he' even save 'his' chosen people. How many people would then realise the value of atheism? My guess is 99.999%.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox
    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    I am 99.999% certain, that God exists...."agnostic" and even "atheist" are temporary states.
    How much of 99.999% is wishful thinking? A percentage of it must be. The notion of God is man-made. Suppose an asteroid or comet was on a collision course with earth, like that which wiped out the dinosaurs. Would 'God' interfere? I'm sure 'he' wouldn't. Would 'he' even save 'his' chosen people. How many people would then realise the value of atheism? My guess is 99.999%.
    Hi Ox:

    I am not sure how to answer your question in the "cleansing of religion" section since anything other than mocking of religious belief here is discouraged.

    In general, it is not possible to predict the actions of God in a particular global calamity.

    For example. you could reasonably argue that human depletion of resources, pollution, and war is setting up humankind for a precipitous population fall off.

    If we were faced with a cosmic threat, we might actually have to work together, regardless of our differences, to solve it. You could reasonably argue that God could use an event like this to help humankind learn this essential survival skill.

    For example, in works on "collective intelligence", diversity is a definite plus. However, how do you encourage diversity and advance collective creativity without petty bickering and the desire to control others that too often kills the process? I don't know.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dedo
    In general, it is not possible to predict the actions of God in a particular global calamity.
    News just in! Jesuit astronomers have located God in the constellation Sagittarius. Jesuit father Ignatius when asked to describe what he saw, replied: 'He was an old man with grey hair and beard, and despite the fact that he was a very busy man, he was kind enough to grant us a brief interview'.
    Ignatius: How did you create the universe?
    God: Every one assumes it was me, while here am I assuming it was the flying spaghetti monster.
    Ignatius: Where is your son right now?
    God: He is being crucified somewhere in Taurus. I'm expecting him back any time soon.
    Ignatius: Can we expect to see him again soon?
    God: No, not for a while. I mean, do you know how many inhabited worlds there are out there?
    Ignatius: If we were about to endure a global catastrophe, would you help us?
    God: That would depend on how good you all were.
    Ignatius: Are you the same God as is worshipped everywhere?
    God: I go by different names, but basically yes. I am El, Al-lah, Yahweh, or just plain God. On the planet Abraxus they call me Ted, and my son is Ted Frum.
    Ignatius: What are your plans for the universe?
    God: I'll let it keep expanding for another 20 billion years. Then I'll retire.
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    A gnostic = Agnostic = Not Knowing or not knowable

    Atheist = A theist = Not Theist = Not believing in God.

    Gnostic = Knowing

    A in the greek language means the opposite of if it comes before a word.
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    "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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    If we were faced with a cosmic threat, we might actually have to work together, regardless of our differences, to solve it. You could reasonably argue that God could use an event like this to help humankind learn this essential survival skill.
    The thing is, how is it God that does this? From my understanding of christian faith (though you may not be talking christian) God gave us free will therefore he wouldn't make us do anything. Does he move rocks around to give people ideas?
    just wondering
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    Quote Originally Posted by zendra
    If we were faced with a cosmic threat, we might actually have to work together, regardless of our differences, to solve it. You could reasonably argue that God could use an event like this to help humankind learn this essential survival skill.
    The thing is, how is it God that does this? From my understanding of christian faith (though you may not be talking christian) God gave us free will therefore he wouldn't make us do anything. Does he move rocks around to give people ideas?
    Zendra:

    I can only speak regarding Christian Theology. There are numerous references in both the Old and New Testaments that discuss ways that God actively intervenes in human affairs on both an individual level and a national level.

    However, it is reasonable to ask: What is the evidence of this? I think everyone is aware of anecdotal evidence where people claim influence by God and then do something that may even be quite remarkable.

    Although, in many fields, carefully analyzed anecdotal evidence is discussed in major journals as "case reports", it is the weakest sort of evidence.

    I have wondered if it were possible to design something more prospective.

    Thus, just as a personal experiment, I have been trying to see if I can achieve a significant improvement in creativity as the dependent variable after trying to grow in faith.

    If I make progress, I will let you know.
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    Thus, just as a personal experiment, I have been trying to see if I can achieve a significant improvement in creativity as the dependent variable after trying to grow in faith.
    Sorry could you explain that a bit more please. Grow in creativity?
    just wondering
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    And how might one measure this "growth" empirically?
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    Quote Originally Posted by zendra
    Thus, just as a personal experiment, I have been trying to see if I can achieve a significant improvement in creativity as the dependent variable after trying to grow in faith.
    Sorry could you explain that a bit more please. Grow in creativity?
    Hi Zendra:

    I am not sure if you are asking about the possible theological aspect of creativity, or what written in the non-theological literature.

    There are some works on both individual and collective creativity. One short reference on individual creativity was in a Scientific American article in May, 2008. For collective creativity, check out a book called "Group Genius".

    From a theological standpoint, there are references in the New Testament regarding the power of faith, and how faith can enable a person to do incredible things. The only source that I have that explains how this works is some CD's. If that is something you are interested in, let me know. The delivery on the CD's is not the best, so the speaker does not work for everyone.
    I like this particular source because it explains what I thought was a conflict with the nonreligious writing on creativity that discusses the environment that promotes creativity. One thing that can kill creativity is control.
    On the surface, you might think that religion would increase control. The source I used explained how faith is liberating since it frees one from "control" by negative influences in the world. That is something that I had not previously understood well. Any writings on "faith" or "grace" would give insight on this.

    Thus, I thought it would be interesting to test this by seeing if I would become more creative by strengthening my faith. I think to do something like this with an intention to make the results a basis for further study, then you would have to try to be creative in some fashion that is measurable. It might help if your efforts could be measured against a previous attempt at something. Each person might be "creative" in a different way. However, every field has experts that can determine if a second work is improved significantly from a previous work.
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    Where would it be categorized if a person simply believes that God doesn't communicate/care about humanity very much, but may well exist? It would mean you fully reject the claims of all world religions, because your perspective necessarily implies that the people who have said they communicated with God and know His/Her will are lying, but it's not Atheism because it still leaves open the possibility of a God.

    Would that be A-religious Agnosticism?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    @ Ophiolite

    This agnostic is a devout agnostic. I take my agnosticism seriously. I am quite sure of my uncertainty. I am positive about how unsure I am. I know beyond any doubt that I do not know. I am a militant agnostic: I consider theists and atheists alike as fools for reaching a conclusion on insufficient evidence.
    Lets take your belief to the brink. Imagine you have been in an accident and a doctor tells you that you have 10 minutes to live as you are bleeding out and they can't stop it in time to save your life.

    There you are sitting on that agnostic fence, the seconds are ticking away and you start thinking if there is a hell you really don't want to go there. Are you going to hedge your bet and accept Jesus just to be sure? You know what they say about fox holes on the battlefield?
    If you're about to die, and a 1 in a million chance is all you've got left, then of course you would take it. People with terminal cancer spend millions of dollars every year on quack/scam cures which they know full well are unlikely to work, but unless they're absolutely, perfectly, certain to 100% that they won't work, that small sliver of hope is worth it to them.

    I don't think it means they're stupid, or "closet believers" in quack science. They're just taking the best odds they can get.
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  42. #41  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    but it's not Atheism because it still leaves open the possibility of a God.
    One need not exclude the possibility of a god to consider themselves atheist (without a god-belief).

    An atheist is someone who is not a theist. A theist is someone who believes a supernatural agent interacts with the universe. An atheist simply sees no good reason to accept this proposition -although the possibility that such an agent exists could never be completely closed unless one could examine all corners of the cosmos, testing for supernatural agency.
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    Question

    When God is the subject, does everybody in the conversation have the same definition of what God is?

    Somehow I don't think so, and this does cause a great deal of confusion. However if you have 6 people in the conversation and one is an atheist the other 5 will stand together in condemning the the atheist, even though none of them will see eye to eye on what God really is. It just doesn't make any sense.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lance Wenban
    When God is the subject, does everybody in the conversation have the same definition of what God is?
    Never.
    Artist for Red Oasis.
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    question:Have you stopped beating your wife?

    theist:Yes
    atheist:No
    agnostic:Huh?
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  46. #45  
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    Quote Originally Posted by granpa
    question:Have you stopped beating your wife?

    theist:Yes
    atheist:No
    agnostic:Huh?
    Since an agnostic can be either theist or atheist, your analogy to a logical fallacy is, itself, fallacious.
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  47. #46  
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    http://christwire.org/2009/04/is-it-...beat-his-wife/
    It would appear there granpa that; Theism=Wife Beating.
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  48. #47  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    but it's not Atheism because it still leaves open the possibility of a God.
    One need not exclude the possibility of a god to consider themselves atheist (without a god-belief).

    An atheist is someone who is not a theist. A theist is someone who believes a supernatural agent interacts with the universe. An atheist simply sees no good reason to accept this proposition -although the possibility that such an agent exists could never be completely closed unless one could examine all corners of the cosmos, testing for supernatural agency.
    Wouldn't that be more like an Agnostic? Or is there like some kind of cutoff?

    If you're only 50% sure there isn't a God, but you still assign a 50% chance to the possibility that he might still exist then clearly that would be agnostic, but what if your cut is 80/20 or 95/5? How uncertain do you have to be about the extremes before you get to consider yourself a fence sitter?
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    you would know without doubt if you were an atheist.
    if you are unsure what you are then you are certainly agnostic.
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    I'm an agnostic-atheist.

    The terms are not mutually exclusive. One describes a position of knowledge; the other is a label that references an aspect of my worldview. One is an adjective, the other a noun.

    I live my life without the belief in gods. I do not believe there are any supernatural deities that need to be answered to, appeased, or pleased in this universe -I see no good evidence to think otherwise. Therefore, I'm an atheist (without god).

    I also admit that I cannot know, with all certainty that my position on supernatural deities is true. It almost certainly is, given the lack of good reason to believe in them, but I've not examined all corners of the universe, or tested the entire universe. Nor have I the ability to do so. I, therefore, take an agnostic (without knowledge) stand that allows for a possibility that I'm wrong.

    you would know without doubt if you were an atheist.
    if you are unsure what you are then you are certainly agnostic.
    You're correct. I know, without a doubt, that I'm an atheist. But my agnosticism isn't about my knowledge of my own worldview. It's about my knowledge of the existence of a god. To that knowledge, I remain agnostic.

    I'm an agnostic-atheist.
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    there was a meeting with matt dillahunty and Aaron Ra, where they explained the cognitive dishonesty of the Agnostic position. myself i swing from an atheist
    to agnostic position, mostly thanks to childhood indoctrination, and being a heavy right-brainer. so even though there is no logical explanation for something, i tend to want there to be "something more".

    anyways, there's really no logical reasoning for wanting to be an agnostic.
    it's all on an emotional basis. it seems like a reasonable position to have, but it's really just a cop-out, a final knee-jerk reaction as you descend from a deistic belief.
    when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth
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    I'm an Ignostic atheist. The definition of what the term "god" means is too fuzzy. In terms of the Biblical god, I am a firm atheist. He does not exist, just as the FSM does not exist.
    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.

    "Gullibility kills" - Carl Sagan
    "All people know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we chose to distort it." - Harry Block
    "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it." - Aristotle
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  53. #52  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    I also admit that I cannot know, with all certainty that my position on supernatural deities is true. It almost certainly is, given the lack of good reason to believe in them, but I've not examined all corners of the universe, or tested the entire universe. Nor have I the ability to do so. I, therefore, take an agnostic (without knowledge) stand that allows for a possibility that I'm wrong.
    That's a basically a scientific level of certainty, though. Nobody can ever be infinity sure of anything (though many theists try to convince themselves they are infinity sure of God's existence..... when they clearly aren't.) If we go off of that definition, then everyone every where would be agnostic, except perhaps the clinically insane.

    I think an agnostic is someone who entertains both views as issues that one might genuinely concern themselves with.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  54. #53  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    I think an agnostic is someone who entertains both views as issues that one might genuinely concern themselves with.
    You can "think" what you like about any word you like, but it doesn't change its popular usage. And, when you get down to it, that's all we can say about any term or label.

    The fact remains, that the popular usage of the term "agnostic" refers to the position that a truth claim about something is inherently unknowable or untestable. This is the case with many of the claims of religions and other superstitions. We can test them to a certain degree, the more specific the claims, the more they seem to lend themselves to testing. But when you get down to very general and "feel-good" claims like that of "all-knowing" and "all-powerful" deities, we simply reach a point where testing isn't possible. Mostly due to the obstacles of information storage limitations, size, scope and accessibility of the cosmos to our senses, etc.

    Therefore, the only logical and honest stance one can take with regard to the existence of a deity in the universe/cosmos is that of agnosticism. It's simply unknowable.

    Yet, that same person can be an atheist, living their life with a complete lack of any god-belief. Just because you recognize that the universe is currently untestable for the claim, doesn't mean you find good reason to accept the claim. Indeed, quite the opposite must be true for the honest and rational mind.

    Therefore, I am an agnostic-atheist. I have have no god-belief (and I'm almost certain that no gods exist), but I recognize the limitation in my ability to know for sure.
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  55. #54  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    The fact remains, that the popular usage of the term "agnostic" refers to the position that a truth claim about something is inherently unknowable or untestable. This is the case with many of the claims of religions and other superstitions. We can test them to a certain degree, the more specific the claims, the more they seem to lend themselves to testing. But when you get down to very general and "feel-good" claims like that of "all-knowing" and "all-powerful" deities, we simply reach a point where testing isn't possible. Mostly due to the obstacles of information storage limitations, size, scope and accessibility of the cosmos to our senses, etc.
    I doubt any agnostics believe that the positive existence of a God is unprovable in principle. If the man/woman/thing shows up and teleports you to the center of the Milky way, kills you, resurrects you, introduces you to your long dead grandfather ..... etc..... that might count as sufficient evidence.

    If one is truly undecided about the existence/nonexistence of God, and simply doubts that any human on Earth has had contact with this being, I would think they couldn't be classified as a theist, or atheist. What then? Do we need to start inventing new words?


    Therefore, the only logical and honest stance one can take with regard to the existence of a deity in the universe/cosmos is that of agnosticism. It's simply unknowable.

    Yet, that same person can be an atheist, living their life with a complete lack of any god-belief. Just because you recognize that the universe is currently untestable for the claim, doesn't mean you find good reason to accept the claim. Indeed, quite the opposite must be true for the honest and rational mind.

    Therefore, I am an agnostic-atheist. I have have no god-belief (and I'm almost certain that no gods exist), but I recognize the limitation in my ability to know for sure.
    It sounds to me like you're trying to argue that a glass that is half empty is not also half full.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  56. #55  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    That's a basically a scientific level of certainty, though. Nobody can ever be infinity sure of anything (though many theists try to convince themselves they are infinity sure of God's existence..... when they clearly aren't.)
    Practically though, one can live 100% sure of a position. For example let's say I'm willing to die for my country, because I value it so highly. And say I do die for my country. That's tested my "faith" 100%, hasn't it? A more commonplace example would be marriage, where we vow to stick with a position no matter what.

    Because I value dedication, I like to see people holding strong positions regarding God, one way or another. And often - in life - just making up one's mind is more important than what is chosen.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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  57. #56  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pong
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    That's a basically a scientific level of certainty, though. Nobody can ever be infinity sure of anything (though many theists try to convince themselves they are infinity sure of God's existence..... when they clearly aren't.)
    Practically though, one can live 100% sure of a position. For example let's say I'm willing to die for my country, because I value it so highly. And say I do die for my country. That's tested my "faith" 100%, hasn't it? A more commonplace example would be marriage, where we vow to stick with a position no matter what.

    Because I value dedication, I like to see people holding strong positions regarding God, one way or another. And often - in life - just making up one's mind is more important than what is chosen.

    I think what you're talking about is the same thing as going "all in" on bet in Las Vegas. You don't honestly believe you are certain to be right, but you're willing to take a bigger risk in the hope of getting bigger returns.

    So, in this logic, could we say that Atheists are people who refuse to take the bet at all, Theists are people who are "all in" on the bet, and Agnostics are people who are trying to hedge?

    Or, would we say Atheists have put all their money on the opposite team (like if the "bet" in our analogy were a football game)? In which case, the Agnostics would be the ones who've simply decided not to bet.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  58. #57  
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    Agnostics don't bet. However these decisions guide us also in life, before death. The agnostic position demands nothing and leads nowhere; whilst the paths of both theism and atheism suggest different logical solutions to questions like what is the meaning of life. Both will feel some pressure, I think, to reconcile their beliefs with the normal human experience as well as other beliefs they hold.
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  59. #58  
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    If one is truly undecided about the existence/nonexistence of God, and simply doubts that any human on Earth has had contact with this being, I would think they couldn't be classified as a theist, or atheist. What then? Do we need to start inventing new words?
    No need for new words. Additional words can sometimes help (i.e. word + word = new concept).

    The larger point is, you either believe that one or more gods exist or your don't. Weaseling one's way out of taking a position is common and, perhaps, even understandable given the nature of the argument. But it doesn't change the fact that one either believes there is a god or one doesn't. If you claim to be "undecided," then you're simply lying to yourself -a common human psychological response that even I've been known to do (though, in my case, it usually involves indulging in a cigar, in which I tell myself the lie that I'm not a frequent enough smoker for it to be unhealthy).

    Your analogy below is actually a good example once we look at it in a different light:

    It sounds to me like you're trying to argue that a glass that is half empty is not also half full.
    Let's re-look this analogy. I'm arguing that a glass is either empty or it has Water. If it has Water, it is not empty. If it is empty, it cannot contain any Water.

    The god-beliefs of humanity are very much like a vessel of Water, varied in volume, clarity, purity, temperature, etc.

    Either you admit your glass is truly empty, or you believe that it has some measurable quantity of Water.

    I see no evidence of Water (though, for this analogy to work, we must assume our glasses to reside in an atmosphere free of moisture) and therefore conclude that it is Water-free. Moreover, I see no evidence for Water in any of the glasses of those around me, and conclude that they are, likewise, Water-free -regardless of their own beliefs or indecisions. But I do concede to agree that they are Waterists of varied degrees (some full of water, some not so much, still others unsure of their glasses (agnostic-Waterists)). I, however, remain an a-Waterist though I'm willing to admit some inability to fully evaluate the content of my glass at a molecular scale, thus I'm an agnostic-aWaterist.

    Those that refuse to pick a side of the argument aren't simply "agnostic." They're either agnostic-atheists or agnostic-theists. If they refuse to pick one over the other, they're liars. But I don't fault them for it. Nor am I bitter about it.

    Now... I have a Corojo-wrapped Nicaraguan-seed Camaroon that needs cutting and burning. If only I still had some bourbon... but, alas, that glass is empty.
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker
    The larger point is, you either believe that one or more gods exist or your don't. Weaseling one's way out of taking a position is common and, perhaps, even understandable given the nature of the argument.
    Utter nonsense. I am undecided on most things since we have only been seriously exploring the content, functioning and origin of the universe for a few hundred years out of our three billion year existence. I don't expect to get too many clear answers in that time frame, though what we have elucidated so far is quite impressive.

    However, it only seems impressive because we have absolutely no idea of those things we don't know. I hate to quote a Republican to better express my position, but we have known unknowns and unknown unknowns.

    I think a position wherein one adopts a certainty that is not merited by the extent of knowledge is more akin to weaseling, since it avoids the unpleasant recognition of how ignorant we are.
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    all religions are so clearly man made that i can not believe that 80 % of the world believes in them, now when it comes to god, there is zero evidence for some higher inteligent power and when you think about it he is very highly improbable,and we are all atheists for most of the gods that humans believed in, and i consider myself a 99% atheist
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  62. #61  
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkinWalker

    It sounds to me like you're trying to argue that a glass that is half empty is not also half full.
    Let's re-look this analogy. I'm arguing that a glass is either empty or it has Water. If it has Water, it is not empty. If it is empty, it cannot contain any Water.

    The god-beliefs of humanity are very much like a vessel of Water, varied in volume, clarity, purity, temperature, etc.

    Either you admit your glass is truly empty, or you believe that it has some measurable quantity of Water.

    I see no evidence of Water (though, for this analogy to work, we must assume our glasses to reside in an atmosphere free of moisture) and therefore conclude that it is Water-free. Moreover, I see no evidence for Water in any of the glasses of those around me, and conclude that they are, likewise, Water-free -regardless of their own beliefs or indecisions. But I do concede to agree that they are Waterists of varied degrees (some full of water, some not so much, still others unsure of their glasses (agnostic-Waterists)). I, however, remain an a-Waterist though I'm willing to admit some inability to fully evaluate the content of my glass at a molecular scale, thus I'm an agnostic-aWaterist.

    Those that refuse to pick a side of the argument aren't simply "agnostic." They're either agnostic-atheists or agnostic-theists. If they refuse to pick one over the other, they're liars. But I don't fault them for it. Nor am I bitter about it.

    Now... I have a Corojo-wrapped Nicaraguan-seed Camaroon that needs cutting and burning. If only I still had some bourbon... but, alas, that glass is empty.
    I think you're treating the water in my analogy as if the water were their beliefs about God, and some people think God is only a few drops, but others think he's a full glass... I'm pretty sure everyone who believes in God believes he/she/it fills the glass entirely.

    If, however, the water in the glass represents the weight of probability you assign to the existence of God, then you would have to assign an absolute zero probability to his/her/its existence in order to declare the glass to be entirely empty. (And assigning a zero percent probability of error in any belief indicates fanaticism.)


    Laza comes close, with a 1% allowance. I would have to say that is plenty good enough to not be agnostic.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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  63. #62  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    I think a position wherein one adopts a certainty that is not merited by the extent of knowledge is more akin to weaseling, since it avoids the unpleasant recognition of how ignorant we are.
    I think that is what we call a "promise" or a "vow". Uncool, I know, but I personally appreciate them in my life and others'.
    A pong by any other name is still a pong. -williampinn
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