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Thread: The distinction between an atheist and an agnostic

  1. #1 The distinction between an atheist and an agnostic 
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    These are hard to distinguish, one from the other. My interpretation is: technically, no one knows whether or not God exists. Agnostics are skeptical of his existence and atheists can only deny the unknown. Are all atheists closet-agnostics ? Or, are all agnostics simply reflecting the fact that the God question remains unknown ? Is there any real difference between these very-similar ideas ? In my opinion, no; just semantics. An agnostic seems, to myself, to be
    a person who is highly doubtful of God's existence but not willing to let go, entirely. An atheist admits (if he's honest) that he has no certainty of God's non-existence but that the probability is virtually nil. Either term applies equally well to me. If there is a distinction to you, please explain what that distinction is.


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    Personally, I don't understand why either term exists. Is there a term for people who don't believe in other things which don't exist? I don't believe in ghosts, unicorns, flying dragons, or magic. What are the terms that should be applied to me in those instances?


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    The agnostic position is not about whether God(s) exist or not.
    The agnostic position is about the quality of the question.
    There is no way logical way the question of a God's existence can be answered. Even more to the point there is no way to logically formulate the question so that it can be answered.

    Agnosticism is not about faith.
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    These are hard to distinguish, one from the other.
    That's because they are independent positions.
    Atheist/ theist is a statement of personal belief in the existence of "god".
    Agnosticism/ gnosticism is an epistemological stance: on whether anything can be known about "god".

    Thus one can be an agnostic theist (I believe he exists but we can't know anything about him) or a gnostic atheist (rather more difficult - I'm not sure how one can not believe but claim that we could know something about what one doesn't believe in).

    Unfortunately popularity has it that agnosticism is an "I neither believe nor not believe" position: I don't see how one can claim that lack of belief isn't the same as "not believing" 1.
    In which case I'd go with your comment that atheists tend to be agnostics. SO long as you add the word "too".

    Atheism covers a range: from merely "I don't believe" (because your evidence/ argument hasn't convinced me) to "I believe god doesn't actually exist".
    That means that atheism is a spread - from a lack of belief right out to an actual belief (but a "negative" one).

    1 Note that "I don't believe "god" exists" is NOT the same as "I believe that "god" doesn't exist" - Not(believe P) isn't Believe(Not P).
    Last edited by Dywyddyr; March 16th, 2014 at 08:37 PM.
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    During the Inquisition I think it was determined when they were thrown in the village pond, Atheists floated so they were later burnt at the stake, and Agnostics just drowned, which was rather unfortunate for there was still some Hope for them.

    You might know the truth of this?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    During the Inquisition I think it was determined when they were thrown in the village pond, Atheists floated so they were later burnt at the stake, and Agnostics just drowned, which was rather unfortunate for there was still some Hope for them.

    You might know the truth of this?
    I might, if I was around in the Middle Ages. I'm not quite that old. But, I know of it. Yeah, that was a pretty fair system of unmasking the Devil in people. One of the plusses resulting from non-belief in God is that the Devil must, also, be non-existent. I only capitalize Devil, or God because they're proper pronouns, not because I fear or favor either.
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    During the Inquisition I think it was determined when they were thrown in the village pond, Atheists floated so they were later burnt at the stake, and Agnostics just drowned, which was rather unfortunate for there was still some Hope for them.

    You might know the truth of this?
    I might, if I was around in the Middle Ages. I'm not quite that old. But, I know of it. Yeah, that was a pretty fair system of unmasking the Devil in people. One of the pluses resulting from non-belief in God is that the Devil must, also, be non-existent. I only capitalize Devil, or God because they're proper pronouns, not because I fear or favor either.
    If I understand you properly you are in fact lucky not to have been born in the era for you might have been a drowner.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Personally, I don't understand why either term exists. Is there a term for people who don't believe in other things which don't exist? I don't believe in ghosts, unicorns, flying dragons, or magic. What are the terms that should be applied to me in those instances?
    Rational, logical, scientific, epistemological, sane, exacting, skeptical...and others
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Personally, I don't understand why either term exists. Is there a term for people who don't believe in other things which don't exist? I don't believe in ghosts, unicorns, flying dragons, or magic. What are the terms that should be applied to me in those instances?
    Rational, logical, scientific, epistemological, sane, exacting, skeptical...and others
    Thanks! The next time someone asks me what I believe, I'll pull out those terms. If they beat me up, though, you gotta get the hospital bill...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    During the Inquisition I think it was determined when they were thrown in the village pond, Atheists floated so they were later burnt at the stake, and Agnostics just drowned, which was rather unfortunate for there was still some Hope for them.

    You might know the truth of this?
    I might, if I was around in the Middle Ages. I'm not quite that old. But, I know of it. Yeah, that was a pretty fair system of unmasking the Devil in people. One of the pluses resulting from non-belief in God is that the Devil must, also, be non-existent. I only capitalize Devil, or God because they're proper pronouns, not because I fear or favor either.
    If I understand you properly you are in fact lucky not to have been born in the era for you might have been a drowner.
    I doubt it. I would have gone the way of Giordano Bruno; swearing defiantly. I'm a good swimmer. I'm an atheist by day. Agnostic at night. They did their dirty deeds in the daytime.
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    During the Inquisition I think it was determined when they were thrown in the village pond, Atheists floated so they were later burnt at the stake, and Agnostics just drowned, which was rather unfortunate for there was still some Hope for them.

    You might know the truth of this?
    I might, if I was around in the Middle Ages. I'm not quite that old. But, I know of it. Yeah, that was a pretty fair system of unmasking the Devil in people. One of the pluses resulting from non-belief in God is that the Devil must, also, be non-existent. I only capitalize Devil, or God because they're proper pronouns, not because I fear or favor either.
    If I understand you properly you are in fact lucky not to have been born in the era for you might have been a drowner.
    I doubt it. I would have gone the way of Giordano Bruno; swearing defiantly. I'm a good swimmer. I'm an atheist by day. Agnostic at night. They did their dirty deeds in the daytime.
    I have a feeling they were like rust, they never sleep. But for the spectacle of seeing someone drown obviously they would wait for a sunny day. So much easier to get the pyre burning too when it was tinder dry.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Personally, I don't understand why either term exists. Is there a term for people who don't believe in other things which don't exist? I don't believe in ghosts, unicorns, flying dragons, or magic. What are the terms that should be applied to me in those instances?
    Me either - I prefer to use Christopher Hitchins term of anti-theist rather than atheist or agnostic. Both the other two imply (to me) that you should believe in a god but are mistaken in not doing so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    Me either - I prefer to use Christopher Hitchins term of anti-theist
    Except that most atheists aren't anti-theist - they just don't give the subject that much attention.
    To be anti-theist you need to take an active stance.

    Both the other two imply (to me) that you should believe in a god but are mistaken in not doing so.
    Huh?
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    My feeling is that this is really an issue only in countries where religion is really big and influential or in academia/introductory philosophy.

    Where I live don't believe/don't care is the default position. When the census comes around, lots of people tick the Catholic, Anglican, Uniting box - but only because there's no "lapsed" option and they just don't think about it enough to make a conscious decision to say they're atheist or "none". If they use the word "agnostic" it's in the conversational sense of don't know - it's certainly not an indication of deep thought or reflection.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by LuciDreaming View Post
    Me either - I prefer to use Christopher Hitchins term of anti-theist
    Except that most atheists aren't anti-theist - they just don't give the subject that much attention.
    To be anti-theist you need to take an active stance.

    Both the other two imply (to me) that you should believe in a god but are mistaken in not doing so.
    Huh?
    Most words have common implicatures and where words directly oppose each other the implication is usually that one is good and the other is bad - social/asocial etc. In my opinion the implicature associated with theist and atheist is that theist is the good element whilst atheist is bad.

    I agree that most people arent as active about it as some.

    I guess being active about something can take many forms - whilst I dont go out demonstrating against religions and respect the rights for people to be religious if they want - I do subscribe to and donate to secularist and scientific movements. Anti-theists could really include anyone that takes part in scientific enquiries/research that indirectly piles the evidence against the existence of gods - evolutionary biologists etc.. In the same vein that I am staunchly anti-rhino poaching but dont particpate in any physical activity against it but do donate to causes that do - an indirect activist if you will.
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    To me, my atheism means that the probability of the existence of gods is so low, that I can take the positive stance of saying: "They don't exist", just as fairies and invisible dragons in my garage don't exist. It does depend on the specific definition of "god" though. Advanced alien universe creators and evolution tamperers are more probable than the Christian god for example.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    My feeling is that this is really an issue only in countries where religion is really big and influential or in academia/introductory philosophy.

    Where I live don't believe/don't care is the default position. When the census comes around, lots of people tick the Catholic, Anglican, Uniting box - but only because there's no "lapsed" option and they just don't think about it enough to make a conscious decision to say they're atheist or "none". If they use the word "agnostic" it's in the conversational sense of don't know - it's certainly not an indication of deep thought or reflection.
    Sounds nice. I'm not sure where the "city of wine and roses" is, but I'm assuming it's not located in the US.
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    It's Adelaide.

    We're the centre of several major wine growing regions. 18 of them. Barossa/Eden Valleys and McLaren Vale close to the city and Clare Valley and Coonawarra further afield are the best known internationally. Wine Grape Council of South Australia » South Australian grapegrowing regions

    As for roses. We grow them everywhere - as broadscale street plantings. At least since we got the National/International Rose Research thingummy established at the Botanic Gardens. We have an arid climate so none or very little of the fungal diseases that plague rose growers elsewhere and we have a clay subsoil. Perfect for rose growing.


    Adelaide International Rose Gardens and the Botanic Garden Bicentennial Conservatory. Source:AdelaideNow

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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    I don't believe in ghosts, unicorns, flying dragons, or magic.
    What !! Are you telling me that the Church of All Worlds is wrong, and this unicorn is a fake :



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    atheists are without god
    agnostics are without knowledge of god
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    We are all one or the other, are we not ? Both, in fact. Any God would have to be God of all, wouldn't he ? The Sacred and secular, alike.
    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    atheists are without god
    agnostics are without knowledge of god
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    We are all one or the other, are we not ? Both, in fact. Any God would have to be God of all, wouldn't he ? The Sacred and secular, alike.
    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    atheists are without god
    agnostics are without knowledge of god
    Sounds funny to think God is the God of the Atheists and the God of the Agnostics too. It it just that they don't know it.
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    Whom would you say DOES know ? Be specific as possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    We are all one or the other, are we not ? Both, in fact. Any God would have to be God of all, wouldn't he ? The Sacred and secular, alike.
    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    atheists are without god
    agnostics are without knowledge of god
    Sounds funny to think God is the God of the Atheists and the God of the Agnostics too. It it just that they don't know it.
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    Sounds funny to think God is the God of the Atheists and the God of the Agnostics too. It it just that they don't know it.
    Wrong.

    We're just like the believers in one respect. "Believers" don't believe in any religions and any gods except the one they do believe in.

    Atheists are the same, we just go one step further. We don't believe in any at all.

    Believers who think we're "rejecting" their religion and their god/s should think about their own attitudes to gods like Zeus, Isis, Freya, Thor, Shiva, Brian, Poseidon, the Dreamtime Serpent and all the rest of them.

    Atheists have the same attitude to all religions and all gods. We're not "rejecting" your specific god. We think they're all the same. Mythical, non-existent, imaginary.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    We're just like the believers in one respect. "Believers" don't believe in any religions and any gods except the one they do believe in.

    Atheists are the same, we just go one step further. We don't believe in any at all.

    Believers who think we're "rejecting" their religion and their god/s should think about their own attitudes to gods like Zeus, Isis, Freya, Thor, Shiva, Brian, Poseidon, the Dreamtime Serpent and all the rest of them.

    Atheists have the same attitude to all religions and all gods. We're not "rejecting" your specific god. We think they're all the same. Mythical, non-existent, imaginary.

    Confusion arises when Western monotheists think that when atheists use the word "god", we are referring to the God as referred to in the Abrahamic scriptures. Hence I prefer to use the word "deity", which has a broader definition and is also applicable to mythologies and other religions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Sounds funny to think God is the God of the Atheists and the God of the Agnostics too. It it just that they don't know it.
    Wrong.

    We're just like the believers in one respect. "Believers" don't believe in any religions and any gods except the one they do believe in.

    Atheists are the same, we just go one step further. We don't believe in any at all.

    Believers who think we're "rejecting" their religion and their god/s should think about their own attitudes to gods like Zeus, Isis, Freya, Thor, Shiva, Brian, Poseidon, the Dreamtime Serpent and all the rest of them.

    Atheists have the same attitude to all religions and all gods. We're not "rejecting" your specific god. We think they're all the same. Mythical, non-existent, imaginary.
    I don't think umbradiago implied "belief". It has got nothing to do with belief or what people think.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Sounds funny to think God is the God of the Atheists and the God of the Agnostics too. It it just that they don't know it.
    Wrong.

    We're just like the believers in one respect. "Believers" don't believe in any religions and any gods except the one they do believe in.

    Atheists are the same, we just go one step further. We don't believe in any at all.

    Believers who think we're "rejecting" their religion and their god/s should think about their own attitudes to gods like Zeus, Isis, Freya, Thor, Shiva, Brian, Poseidon, the Dreamtime Serpent and all the rest of them.

    Atheists have the same attitude to all religions and all gods. We're not "rejecting" your specific god. We think they're all the same. Mythical, non-existent, imaginary.
    It's almost as if they apply a great deal more importance to their deity than we do and, for some reason, they can't understand how we can find the idea of God so unimportant in our lives.

    In all seriousness, though, I think it might be more offensive to them to think that we find the notion of God unimportant on a personal level. They would probably rather think that we have some kind of adamant emotion AGAINST God.
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    Yeah.

    I think it's probably more offensive to some Christians and Muslims that we treat their deities/ religions with the same kind of of casual or academic interest as we might do when looking into the history of the Green Man or Egyptian gods or Shinto demons.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flick Montana View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Sounds funny to think God is the God of the Atheists and the God of the Agnostics too. It it just that they don't know it.
    Wrong.

    We're just like the believers in one respect. "Believers" don't believe in any religions and any gods except the one they do believe in.

    Atheists are the same, we just go one step further. We don't believe in any at all.

    Believers who think we're "rejecting" their religion and their god/s should think about their own attitudes to gods like Zeus, Isis, Freya, Thor, Shiva, Brian, Poseidon, the Dreamtime Serpent and all the rest of them.

    Atheists have the same attitude to all religions and all gods. We're not "rejecting" your specific god. We think they're all the same. Mythical, non-existent, imaginary.
    It's almost as if they apply a great deal more importance to their deity than we do and, for some reason, they can't understand how we can find the idea of God so unimportant in our lives.

    In all seriousness, though, I think it might be more offensive to them to think that we find the notion of God unimportant on a personal level. They would probably rather think that we have some kind of adamant emotion AGAINST God.
    You might feel like that but it isn't so.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Yeah.

    I think it's probably more offensive to some Christians and Muslims that we treat their deities/ religions with the same kind of of casual or academic interest as we might do when looking into the history of the Green Man or Egyptian gods or Shinto demons.
    Umbradiago brought up the concept of God of All, which means God of All is way beyond saying the things you say. For "God of All" was way beyond saying "Christians and Muslims .... deities". A God of All can't be labeled.
    Last edited by Robittybob1; March 18th, 2014 at 05:48 PM.
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    My Take

    Typically, People are only "Agnostic" with respect to the Mythical/Magical/Fantasy Deity prevalent in their own (Bubble of Delusion) "culture", while "atheist" with respect to the Mythical/Magical/Fantasy Deities in other cultures.

    Not living in a primitive Norse village and 'inside the box'/'culture'/'bubble of delusion', its easy to say, "Yeah, now Thor, THAT god is not real, yeah, THAT god is invented" no ones saying "Im agnostic towards THOR, maybe there IS a bearded man with a hammer crossing a rainbow bridge and causing the thunder we hear, there is no proof he is invented myth by primitive people therefore we cant be sure, Im on the fence on that one"
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    Adelady you reminded me of a Ricky Gervais quote:

    “Next time someone tells me they believe in God, I’ll say ‘Oh which one? Zeus? Hades? Jupiter? Mars? Odin? Thor? Krishna? Vishnu? Ra?…’ If they say ‘Just God. I only believe in the one God,’ I’ll point out that they are nearly as atheistic as me. I don’t believe in 2,870 gods, and they don’t believe in 2,869.”
    "And we should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once. And we should call every truth false which was not accompanied by at least one laugh" Nietzsche.
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  34. #33  
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    Alternately:
    An agnostic is willing to admit their ignorance of "GOD", and leave it at that.
    An atheist, on the other hand chooses to act on that ignorance and reject that which they do not know.
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    Alternately:
    An agnostic is willing to admit their ignorance of "GOD", and leave it at that.
    An atheist, on the other hand chooses to act on that ignorance and reject that which they do not know.
    Only if you presume that "knowing" any particular deity makes it more rather than less likely that someone would accept or welcome such an influence into their lives or their value system.

    When you look at how downright nasty they are (at least all the ones I know of) why would you give them any more than a passing glance.

    There are more than enough homophobic, misogynistic, people who regard themselves as "special" or "chosen", child-beating, slave owning, sex-obsessed ignoramuses, sadists and other reprehensible and violent people in the world. We don't need to add in any more like that, even if they're imaginary. And we certainly don't want people to be able to use such imaginary beings to justify or rationalise or excuse their own failings and prejudices.
    "Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen." Winston Churchill
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  36. #35  
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Alternately:
    An agnostic is willing to admit their ignorance of "GOD", and leave it at that.
    An atheist, on the other hand chooses to act on that ignorance and reject that which they do not know.
    When you look at how downright nasty they are (at least all the ones I know of) why would you give them any more than a passing glance.

    There are more than enough homophobic, misogynistic, people who regard themselves as "special" or "chosen", child-beating, slave owning, sex-obsessed ignoramuses, sadists and other reprehensible and violent people in the world. We don't need to add in any more like that, even if they're imaginary. And we certainly don't want people to be able to use such imaginary beings to justify or rationalise or excuse their own failings and prejudices.
    They?

    No belief or lack thereof is justification for antisocial behaviors.
    Those who claim it for justification are just too cowardly to accept responsibility for their actions.

    We never can seem to stick to the simple subject of agnostic vs atheistic.

    It is all too often used as a scapegoating means of attacking the behavior of "they"--the other--the outsiders of our own "special" circumstances.
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    It is all too often used as a scapegoating means of attacking the behavior of "they"--the other--the outsiders of our own "special" circumstances.
    It's not they. It's us.

    We all grow up and live in societies that are racist, sexist, tribal, prejudiced in some way. Some of us more than others. Some communities more than others.

    The most important thing is our ethical frameword for living. One of the greatest things we can do for our own personal, ethical improvement is to notice those tendencies in ourselves as they come to our notice and do our best to ensure we don't harm others by expressing them or acting on them.

    Most deities and religions and ideologies go out of their way to reinforce the worst of our perfectly natural but less admirable inclinations. It's one thing to indulge your tribal instincts by supporting your local footy team. It's another thing entirely to join a gang of soccer hooligans.

    Too many deities and religions and their equivalent ideologies take people to the extremes of racism, sexism, homophobia - why else is slavery (or witch-hunting or lynching) still a thing? You can only do such things if your religion/culture/ideology encourages you to see other people as less deserving or worthy of respect than yourself.
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    I am a devout agnostic, certain of my uncertainty, dogmatic about my doubt, sure of my ignroance.

    I certainly do not believe in the Abrahamic God, but there are so many other interesting possibilities I remain unresolved.
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    Personally, I found the bible to be an entertaining read.
    Some who read it assume it to be without context outside of itself.
    Which is not a significant deviation from normal human behavior.(even in the sciences we have the narrow minded)
    Abraham wasn't a Jew---he was Sumerian. Start from there and move forward and backward in myth, story, archaeology, and history, and it begins to make sense.
    Wars, and lost expectations like the one of Moses(who never made it to the promised land---crossed over Jordan) have meaning beyond the mere words.

    .............
    Start with: "You cannot explain ZEN (Chan Buddhism with a heavy dose of TAOism) with words"-----then write tens of thousands of words on the subject.
    Look around, and see many interweaving stories, and it all seems to fit pre-determined patterns.

    Ofttimes, I think/feel/surmise that "belief" (or the lack thereof) is for those who can not, will not(or choose not to) understand.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Alternately:
    An agnostic is willing to admit their ignorance of "GOD", and leave it at that.
    An atheist, on the other hand chooses to act on that ignorance and reject that which they do not know.
    There's quite some confusion here on your part.
    Atheist/ agnostic are not separate positions (as explained earlier).
    Don't theists also act on their ignorance?
    They don't know, but they do believe: and theists tend to do more in the name of that belief than atheists ever did in the name of their lack of belief.

    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Ofttimes, I think/feel/surmise that "belief" (or the lack thereof) is for those who will not(or choose not to) understand.
    And you appear to be assuming that there's "something to understand" (and also giving the impression that YOU "understand" [whatever it is]).
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    Dywyddyr my old ducky friend-I had thought that you had me on ignore.

    As I said: look to comparative religions/mythologies/etc...
    and look beyond the mere words.
    And maybe, just maybe, there is a pattern of the causality of human behavior that will enlighten you.....-------
    (Long shot fersure dadio-but you ain't doing nothing really important anyway.......)
    Give it a shot. Even if you miss, the goal becomes focused.

    Could words actually describe the thought processes you are having this minute?
    Could words describe the totality of "you"?

    Why assume that the words of others are the alpha and omega of anything?
    .....................
    Me,
    "understand"??????????????
    Naw, I'm just a lost child wandering in the wilderness of thoughts, concepts, emotions, and pain.
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Dywyddyr my old ducky friend-I had thought that you had me on ignore.
    It was an accident: I really must get out of the habit of reading threads before I log in.

    As I said: look to comparative religions/mythologies/etc...
    and look beyond the mere words.
    And maybe, just maybe, there is a pattern of the causality of human behavior that will enlighten you.....
    In other words an airy-fairy appeal to... what?

    Could words actually describe the thought processes you are having this minute?
    Could words describe the totality of "you"?
    Why assume that the words of others are the alpha and omega of anything?
    Mere waffle.

    Me,
    "understand"??????????????
    Naw, I'm just a lost child wandering in the wilderness of thoughts, concepts, emotions, and pain.
    In other words you were simply babbling.
    Got it.
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  43. #42  
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    Well=========================
    that's one way of looking at it
    ....................
    hmm
    you're logged on now and don't see this
    ........
    all on it's own, that's entertaining too
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    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Well=========================
    that's one way of looking at it
    ....................
    hmm
    you're logged on now and don't see this
    ........
    all on it's own, that's entertaining too
    I understood what could be happening, if he wasn't logged on he would see the whole thread. But once logged on to reply he must override the "Ignore" function.
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  45. #44  
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    yeh
    life's little entertainments
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    look to comparative religions/mythologies/etc...
    Yeah, most of us have done that.

    And all we find is imaginary constructs where people of a certain time and place seem to exalt what they already think about themselves and the class/ caste/ power relationships and structures that already exist in their human interactions. With a big dash of imaginary, superstitious causes for misunderstood or barely known natural phenomena just to fill out the picture. And they change very little from time to time and place to place.

    The names are different, the rituals are mostly different and priesthoods may wear different symbols of authority - but it's all very much the same thing over and over again. Funnily enough, most of these religions seem to believe that their particular people are special in some way, that their god/s take a very special and specific interest in them, and despite the surface differences, they all seem to think that going to war with people you don't like is a good thing and taking/having/trading slaves is also pretty good - and justified. And that their god/s have set the roles and restrictions you're confined to, and you should be grateful you're not worse off. (And you will be a lot worse off if you dare to defy such a god or use their name the wrong way or refuse to accept that god when the sword is at your neck.)

    With the usual bonus of being able to blame - with your deity's blessing - various targeted individuals and groups when things go wrong. The crop might fail, the rivers may flood, the animals may sicken and die but there's still some satisfaction to be had in going to war with the people on the other side of the mountain or persecuting the local witch or the maligned gypsies, samaritans, folk-with-funny-clothes because you blame them for having caused it.
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  47. #46  
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    adelady
    you and me babe
    we is special
    .....................
    nothing destroys a religion faster than an entrenched priesthood
    second place would be a book
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Yeah.

    I think it's probably more offensive to some Christians and Muslims that we treat their deities/ religions with the same kind of of casual or academic interest as we might do when looking into the history of the Green Man or Egyptian gods or Shinto demons.
    Umbradiago brought up the concept of God of All, which means God of All is way beyond saying the things you say. For "God of All" was way beyond saying "Christians and Muslims .... deities". A God of All can't be labeled.
    Well,yes; I meant that if God does exist, he must be God of all people, all faiths. God would have to be non-denominational. No religion is willing to consider itself arbitrary.
    Anything can be labeled; doesn't mean the label is accurate.
    This reminds me of a Christian church which says it welcomes ALL denominations. ( fives, tens, twenties, etc.)
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Yeah.

    I think it's probably more offensive to some Christians and Muslims that we treat their deities/ religions with the same kind of of casual or academic interest as we might do when looking into the history of the Green Man or Egyptian gods or Shinto demons.
    Umbradiago brought up the concept of God of All, which means God of All is way beyond saying the things you say. For "God of All" was way beyond saying "Christians and Muslims .... deities". A God of All can't be labeled.
    Well,yes; I meant that if God does exist, he must be God of all people, all faiths. God would have to be non-denominational. No religion is willing to consider itself arbitrary.
    Anything can be labeled; doesn't mean the label is accurate.
    This reminds me of a Christian church which says it welcomes ALL denominations. ( fives, tens, twenties, etc.)
    OK let's assume there exists a nondenominational God of All, who loves all, in this Godly way, and then somehow in spite of what appears tragedy all around us we must accept it is all for good.
    I find the atheists seem to emphasize the apparent disunion between God's goodness and tragic events all around us. What were they really wanting?
    But not to pick on them, but that was my observation.
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    I don't think atheists mind being "picked-on". We don't see the question in that way. The question of God is personal to many people. Science isn't personal. It's more about the thing being argued than about who's arguing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Yeah.

    I think it's probably more offensive to some Christians and Muslims that we treat their deities/ religions with the same kind of of casual or academic interest as we might do when looking into the history of the Green Man or Egyptian gods or Shinto demons.
    Umbradiago brought up the concept of God of All, which means God of All is way beyond saying the things you say. For "God of All" was way beyond saying "Christians and Muslims .... deities". A God of All can't be labeled.
    Well,yes; I meant that if God does exist, he must be God of all people, all faiths. God would have to be non-denominational. No religion is willing to consider itself arbitrary.
    Anything can be labeled; doesn't mean the label is accurate.
    This reminds me of a Christian church which says it welcomes ALL denominations. ( fives, tens, twenties, etc.)
    OK let's assume there exists a nondenominational God of All, who loves all, in this Godly way, and then somehow in spite of what appears tragedy all around us we must accept it is all for good.
    I find the atheists seem to emphasize the apparent disunion between God's goodness and tragic events all around us. What were they really wanting?
    But not to pick on them, but that was my observation.
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    I don't think atheists mind being "picked-on". We don't see the question in that way. The question of God is personal to many people. Science isn't personal. It's more about the thing being argued than about who's arguing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Yeah.

    I think it's probably more offensive to some Christians and Muslims that we treat their deities/ religions with the same kind of of casual or academic interest as we might do when looking into the history of the Green Man or Egyptian gods or Shinto demons.
    Umbradiago brought up the concept of God of All, which means God of All is way beyond saying the things you say. For "God of All" was way beyond saying "Christians and Muslims .... deities". A God of All can't be labeled.
    Well,yes; I meant that if God does exist, he must be God of all people, all faiths. God would have to be non-denominational. No religion is willing to consider itself arbitrary.
    Anything can be labeled; doesn't mean the label is accurate.
    This reminds me of a Christian church which says it welcomes ALL denominations. ( fives, tens, twenties, etc.)
    OK let's assume there exists a nondenominational God of All, who loves all, in this Godly way, and then somehow in spite of what appears tragedy all around us we must accept it is all for good.
    I find the atheists seem to emphasize the apparent disunion between God's goodness and tragic events all around us. What were they really wanting?
    But not to pick on them, but that was my observation.
    Did get my meaning? Like if you were an atheist and say "there can't be a God, just look at all the tragedy around us", what were you expecting in place of this? What was your ideal? What would be the situation where you wouldn't question God of All?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    I don't think atheists mind being "picked-on". We don't see the question in that way. The question of God is personal to many people. Science isn't personal. It's more about the thing being argued than about who's arguing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Yeah.

    I think it's probably more offensive to some Christians and Muslims that we treat their deities/ religions with the same kind of of casual or academic interest as we might do when looking into the history of the Green Man or Egyptian gods or Shinto demons.
    Umbradiago brought up the concept of God of All, which means God of All is way beyond saying the things you say. For "God of All" was way beyond saying "Christians and Muslims .... deities". A God of All can't be labeled.
    Well,yes; I meant that if God does exist, he must be God of all people, all faiths. God would have to be non-denominational. No religion is willing to consider itself arbitrary.
    Anything can be labeled; doesn't mean the label is accurate.
    This reminds me of a Christian church which says it welcomes ALL denominations. ( fives, tens, twenties, etc.)
    OK let's assume there exists a nondenominational God of All, who loves all, in this Godly way, and then somehow in spite of what appears tragedy all around us we must accept it is all for good.
    I find the atheists seem to emphasize the apparent disunion between God's goodness and tragic events all around us. What were they really wanting?
    But not to pick on them, but that was my observation.
    Did get my meaning? Like if you were an atheist and say "there can't be a God, just look at all the tragedy around us", what were you expecting in place of this? What was your ideal? What would be the situation where you wouldn't question God of All?
    What would be ideal ? I don't know, Heaven ? Believers are the ones trying to imagine that, not atheists. We're utopians, possibly. But we know this isn't a real place, it's more a direction in which to go, a heading.
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    I don't think atheists mind being "picked-on". We don't see the question in that way. The question of God is personal to many people. Science isn't personal. It's more about the thing being argued than about who's arguing it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Yeah.

    I think it's probably more offensive to some Christians and Muslims that we treat their deities/ religions with the same kind of of casual or academic interest as we might do when looking into the history of the Green Man or Egyptian gods or Shinto demons.
    Umbradiago brought up the concept of God of All, which means God of All is way beyond saying the things you say. For "God of All" was way beyond saying "Christians and Muslims .... deities". A God of All can't be labeled.
    Well,yes; I meant that if God does exist, he must be God of all people, all faiths. God would have to be non-denominational. No religion is willing to consider itself arbitrary.
    Anything can be labeled; doesn't mean the label is accurate.
    This reminds me of a Christian church which says it welcomes ALL denominations. ( fives, tens, twenties, etc.)
    OK let's assume there exists a nondenominational God of All, who loves all, in this Godly way, and then somehow in spite of what appears tragedy all around us we must accept it is all for good.
    I find the atheists seem to emphasize the apparent disunion between God's goodness and tragic events all around us. What were they really wanting?
    But not to pick on them, but that was my observation.
    Did get my meaning? Like if you were an atheist and say "there can't be a God, just look at all the tragedy around us", what were you expecting in place of this? What was your ideal? What would be the situation where you wouldn't question God of All?
    What would be ideal ? I don't know, Heaven ? Believers are the ones trying to imagine that, not atheists. We're utopians, possibly. But we know this isn't a real place, it's more a direction in which to go, a heading.
    OK you might be different than some others. Thanks.
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    Like if you were an atheist and say "there can't be a God, just look at all the tragedy around us", what were you expecting in place of this?
    afaik, it's more the other way around. Christians often try to tell atheists that you "can't be good without god" and/or that the bible is the way to get to know god. Atheists see the god of the Bible as immoral and unethical and cruel by human standards.

    We don't want to get to know a genocidal, vengeful, jealous, misogynistic, racist, prejudiced, sex-obsessed, self-righteous, child-beating, slave-owning self-proclaimed moral leader. God or human, I'd avoid that person/entity like the plague.

    If someone's trying to sell the idea that that is what it takes to join the heavenly club, then not many people are going to sign up. The only way to ensure that people will even entertain the idea is to keep them away from the Bible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Like if you were an atheist and say "there can't be a God, just look at all the tragedy around us", what were you expecting in place of this?
    afaik, it's more the other way around. Christians often try to tell atheists that you "can't be good without god" and/or that the bible is the way to get to know god. Atheists see the god of the Bible as immoral and unethical and cruel by human standards.

    We don't want to get to know a genocidal, vengeful, jealous, misogynistic, racist, prejudiced, sex-obsessed, self-righteous, child-beating, slave-owning self-proclaimed moral leader. God or human, I'd avoid that person/entity like the plague.

    If someone's trying to sell the idea that that is what it takes to join the heavenly club, then not many people are going to sign up. The only way to ensure that people will even entertain the idea is to keep them away from the Bible.
    again, you're back to "they"
    none of which has to do with agnosticism nor atheism
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    I am atheist. I do not believe gods exist.

    I would point out that every time anybody has tried to define what they mean by god it has been shown to be unworkable, but if the term god is left undefined then it is a meaningless term.
    So before anybody tries to say any god is real they should be very clear about what their god actually is. Otherwise they do not know what they are talking about.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Like if you were an atheist and say "there can't be a God, just look at all the tragedy around us", what were you expecting in place of this?
    afaik, it's more the other way around. Christians often try to tell atheists that you "can't be good without god" and/or that the bible is the way to get to know god. Atheists see the god of the Bible as immoral and unethical and cruel by human standards.

    We don't want to get to know a genocidal, vengeful, jealous, misogynistic, racist, prejudiced, sex-obsessed, self-righteous, child-beating, slave-owning self-proclaimed moral leader. God or human, I'd avoid that person/entity like the plague.

    If someone's trying to sell the idea that that is what it takes to join the heavenly club, then not many people are going to sign up. The only way to ensure that people will even entertain the idea is to keep them away from the Bible.
    The only reason I used that quote was that is what has been said by some of the forum members.
    So it could be said back to you that you don't want a "genocidal, vengeful, jealous, misogynistic, racist, prejudiced, sex-obsessed, self-righteous, child-beating, slave-owning self-proclaimed moral leader". I can understand that.
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    again, you're back to "they"
    none of which has to do with agnosticism nor atheism
    I am? I was merely responding to a question.
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  59. #58  
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    yeh
    some "christians" really suck
    no reflection on the deity which they claim to represent
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    Not just Christians.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    Not just Christians.
    Aussies are awesome!
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    yeh
    some "christians" really suck
    no reflection on the deity which they claim to represent
    No reflection on the deity?

    All you have to do is to read what Christians call "the word of God" to realise that their deity is a complete stinker.
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    The suggested alternative, anti-theist, is not a bad idea. Never heard that term. Maybe I'll try that one on and see if I like it. It doesn't have ambiguity, so it's got that goin' for it, which is nice. Have I ever mentioned caddying for the Dali Lama ? Big hitter, the Lama.
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    I never liked the term "anti-theist" because the Christians in USA framed it to indicate a hatred of their god instead of mere disbelief.
    It was intended to claim their god was still real and that people who didn't love their god were still believers in god but were just upset at him for some reason.
    It led to a lot of foolishness like asking atheists what had happened in their lives to make them so angry at God.
    It seems pretty ridiculous to me that anybody would think a person could actually hate a being he does not believe exists.

    It would be like hating Cinderella, her fairy godmother, and their magical talking mice for dangerous late night pumpkin coach driving.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    I never liked the term "anti-theist" because the Christians in USA framed it to indicate a hatred of their god instead of mere disbelief.
    It was intended to claim their god was still real and that people who didn't love their god were still believers in god but were just upset at him for some reason.
    It led to a lot of foolishness like asking atheists what had happened in their lives to make them so angry at God.
    It seems pretty ridiculous to me that anybody would think a person could actually hate a being he does not believe exists.

    It would be like hating Cinderella, her fairy godmother, and their magical talking mice for dangerous late night pumpkin coach driving.
    Glad you mentioned that, Dan. I was going to ask about that common attitude among theists; that we atheist must really hate God. Some people just cannot grasp the fact
    one doesn't hate what one doesn't believe in. They seem so steeped in belief they can't imagine non-belief; it must be anger toward God.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    I never liked the term "anti-theist" because the Christians in USA framed it to indicate a hatred of their god instead of mere disbelief.
    I get that.
    Yet anti-theism is a different, and valid, stance.

    As you say, hating "someone" you don't believe in is rather silly.
    But hating the effects of belief in that "someone" certainly isn't.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Alternately:
    An agnostic is willing to admit their ignorance of "GOD", and leave it at that.
    An atheist, on the other hand chooses to act on that ignorance and reject that which they do not know.
    There's quite some confusion here on your part.
    Atheist/ agnostic are not separate positions (as explained earlier).
    Don't theists also act on their ignorance?
    They don't know, but they do believe: and theists tend to do more in the name of that belief than atheists ever did in the name of their lack of belief.
    What's the point in having two words: "Atheist" and "Agnostic" if they really mean the same thing? Now we have to invent a new word "Anti-Theist"?

    All this because some idiot decided to redefine the word "atheist" to mean "agnostic" so they could win an argument? Why couldn't we just keep the original word, and just have all the atheists out there admit they either:

    A) - Are positively convinced there is no god.

    or

    B) - Made a mistake by calling themselves "atheists" when they really meant to call themselves "agnostics"?



    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Ofttimes, I think/feel/surmise that "belief" (or the lack thereof) is for those who will not(or choose not to) understand.
    And you appear to be assuming that there's "something to understand" (and also giving the impression that YOU "understand" [whatever it is]).
    What do you expect to happen when people go muddying up the language with silly word games? It naturally becomes harder to communicate because we aren't letting words have straightforward meanings.



    Quote Originally Posted by KALSTER View Post
    To me, my atheism means that the probability of the existence of gods is so low, that I can take the positive stance of saying: "They don't exist", just as fairies and invisible dragons in my garage don't exist. It does depend on the specific definition of "god" though. Advanced alien universe creators and evolution tamperers are more probable than the Christian god for example.
    I really like this answer. It starts out by admitting that absolutely all questions about "truth" are really questions about probability of truth. We can't know for sure the Sun will rise tomorrow, but we can reduce the probability such that it fails to rise tomorrow down to such a tiny sliver that it becomes utterly implausible that it wouldn't.

    "Atheist", "Agnostic", and "Theist" all refer to different estimations of the probability god exists. Some consider it implausible that god could exist. Some consider it implausible that he could not exist. Others consider both possibilities to be plausible.

    However, if you consider it implausible that god could exist, that amounts to positive belief that he/she/it doesn't exist. - Whether you want to admit it or not.

    All claims that are considered by the claimant to have a small probability of error are claims of positively having determined the truth of a matter - even if that truth is a negative truth.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    What's the point in having two words: "Atheist" and "Agnostic" if they really mean the same thing?
    "Atheist", "Agnostic", and "Theist" all refer to different estimations of the probability god exists.
    No.
    See post #4.
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    Looking at that post...

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    These are hard to distinguish, one from the other.
    That's because they are independent positions.
    Atheist/ theist is a statement of personal belief in the existence of "god".
    Agnosticism/ gnosticism is an epistemological stance: on whether anything can be known about "god".

    Thus one can be an agnostic theist (I believe he exists but we can't know anything about him) or a gnostic atheist (rather more difficult - I'm not sure how one can not believe but claim that we could know something about what one doesn't believe in).

    Unfortunately popularity has it that agnosticism is an "I neither believe nor not believe" position: I don't see how one can claim that lack of belief isn't the same as "not believing" 1.
    In which case I'd go with your comment that atheists tend to be agnostics. SO long as you add the word "too".

    Atheism covers a range: from merely "I don't believe" (because your evidence/ argument hasn't convinced me) to "I believe god doesn't actually exist".
    That means that atheism is a spread - from a lack of belief right out to an actual belief (but a "negative" one).

    1 Note that "I don't believe "god" exists" is NOT the same as "I believe that "god" doesn't exist" - Not(believe P) isn't Believe(Not P).
    That's different from the definition on wiki.

    Agnosticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, as well as other religious and metaphysical claims—are unknown or unknowable.[1][2][3] According to the philosopher William L. Rowe, in the popular sense, an agnostic is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of a deity or deities, whereas a theist and an atheistbelieve and disbelieve, respectively
    So.... my mistake. I was thinking the word "atheist" was the one you were depriving of its traditional meaning. In fact it appears the word "agnostic" is also being deprived of its meaning by your proprietary interpretation.

    It would make life a lot easier to use the simpler meanings of agnostic being "I don't have an opinion" and atheist meaning "I have an opinion and my opinion is that god does not exist."

    The concept of "I don't think there is now, or could ever be in the future any way to arrive at an opinion" could be the one to which we award a new word. Being as how I seriously doubt there are very many people who actually hold that opinion.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    That's different from the definition on wiki.
    Agnosticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Actually it's exactly what Wiki says.
    Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, as well as other religious and metaphysical claims—are unknown or unknowable.

    And later:
    Agnostic atheism
    The view of those who do not believe in the existence of any deity, but do not claim to know if a deity does or does not exist.
    Agnostic theism
    The view of those who do not claim to know of the existence of any deity, but still believe in such an existence.

    I did mention "popularity has it that agnosticism is an "I neither believe nor not believe" position" - as noted by the second sentence in your quote, but that's somewhat lax.

    It must be borne in mind that knowledge is defined as a "justified TRUE belief".
    Ergo if agnosticism is a stance on the truth of the claim it's related to knowledge.

    Hence that would mean that the definitions I gave are not my "proprietary interpretation[s]".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    That's different from the definition on wiki.
    Agnosticism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Actually it's exactly what Wiki says.
    Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, as well as other religious and metaphysical claims—are unknown or unknowable.

    ...

    Hence that would mean that the definitions I gave are not my "proprietary interpretation[s]".
    Your narrowing of the meaning is proprietary. You're choosing one of a number of allowed meanings, and unfortunately choosing the most confusing (or least useful) variation, and excluding the others.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Your narrowing of the meaning is proprietary.
    Perhaps you're having trouble reading that Wiki article.
    It SPECIFICALLY goes on to explain EXACTLY what "my proprietary" meaning is - as shown by your own quote: it's related to knowledge, not belief.
    And SPECIFICALLY states that agnosticism as "undecided" is a (loose) popularisation.

    You're choosing one of a number of allowed meanings, and unfortunately choosing the most confusing (or least useful) variation, and excluding the others.
    Most confusing? Least useful?

    Try reading it again.
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    Alright. But the article gives 8 different flavors, so I'm still confused about which one you are choosing? It seems the main flavor is rational justification. The idea that unless you can prove the existence or absence of a god you must remain undecided.

    Huxley's quote:

    "Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle ... Positively the principle may be expressed: In matters of the intellect, follow your reason as far as it will take you, without regard to any other consideration. And negatively: In matters of the intellect do not pretend that conclusions are certain which are not demonstrated or demonstrable."


    Gives support for your perspective, but doesn't leave open any option but indecision in the matter. The "loose popularization" is in all practical aspects quite accurate.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax;541821...[COLOR=#000000
    but doesn't leave open any option but indecision in the matter. The "loose popularization" is in all practical aspects quite accurate.
    1)In a lot of things indecision is the only rational option.
    2)No, the loose popularization is not at all accurate.

    You might have heard of Pascal's Wager.
    It is the first clear exposition of cost benefit analysis. Some people think it is a theological argument but it is nothing like that at all.
    Pascal chose the agnostic position on the question of God's existence to illustrate his point.
    He makes his reasoning clear in his introduction to the wager.
    The question of whether God exists is an unanswerable question.
    The moment a person decides they know if God exists or not then the wager fails.

    I am going to repeat myself.
    Agnosticism is not about whether you believe God(s) exist or not.
    Agnosticism is about the quality of the question and the possible state of knowledge about it.

    Again.
    It is not about your faith, which in this case is nothing more than an opinion.
    It is about whether the question is answerable in any form in which it might be formulated.

    If you really want to insist your God is real I must demand you prove your God actually exists with real evidence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    Believers who think we're "rejecting" their religion and their god/s should think about their own attitudes to gods like Zeus, Isis, Freya, Thor, Shiva, Brian, Poseidon, the Dreamtime Serpent and all the rest of them.
    I've heard of the rest of those... but I'm unfamiliar with "Brian"... at least as a deity.

    I've seen lots of good definitions here. I don't have a lot to add. As far as I can tell, theist/atheist involves a statement of belief somewhere along the spectrum of "I actively believe that a deity exists --> I believe that a deity may exist --> I do not believe that a deity might exist --> I actively believe that a deity does not exist" Gnosticism/Agnosticism on the other hand makes a statement about knowledge with respect to deities, along the spectrum of "enough information exists to make a decision about the existence of a deity --> not enough information exists to make a decision about the exists of a deity"

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    .. a gnostic atheist (rather more difficult - I'm not sure how one can not believe but claim that we could know something about what one doesn't believe in)....
    Perhaps one would say "I know for a fact that god doesn't exist"? Or perhaps "I have enough information to determine that I don't believe in god"?

    On a more personal note... I'm more of an "apatheist" as I've heard it called. I'm of the "I just don't care" persuasion. Religion simply wasn't part of my upbringing. We occasionally went to church, but it had about the same degree of "faith" as did the tooth fairy and santa clause and leprechauns on St. Patricks Day - that is to say virtually none. It was approached as a fun social gathering that celebrated a myth just like we might go to a temple for Zeus if we were in Greece, or a Shinto temple if we were in Japan. At some point in high school, mom and I had a very serious discussion about it... and we agreed: If we were to find out tomorrow that the christian god were actually literally real, we wouldn't change how we were living our lives. Therefore, he was pointless and had no place in our lives and it didn't matter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by sculptor View Post
    Ofttimes, I think/feel/surmise that "belief" (or the lack thereof) is for those who will not(or choose not to) understand.
    And you appear to be assuming that there's "something to understand" (and also giving the impression that YOU "understand" [whatever it is]).
    Comments like these always make me giggle a little bit; they put me in mind of someone talking about the "time" "before" the big bang. It's the same argument, different topic: You have a preexisting assumption that you expect the other party to accept. If the other party doesn't accept that assumption, the entire discussion is meaningless. You can't move past the first word. In that case, there was the assumption of something existing prior to the big bang - of there even being a concept of "prior" to talk about. In this case, it's the assumption of the existence of something in which to believe.

    So I simply end up shrugging and saying... "There is no 'there' there."
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Alright. But the article gives 8 different flavors
    You really should read that article instead of simply skimming it and relying on your own opinion.
    Presumably the "8 flavours" you're referring to are the (and this is noted in the heading) HISTORY.
    And, in those histories we have:
    1) Hindu - Who really knows?
    2) Greek - but certainty and knowledge are impossible.
    3) Hume, Kant, and Kierkegaard - impossible to construct any unassailable proof for the existence or non-existence of God. I.e. we cannot know.
    4) Thomas Henry Huxley - It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant. No knowledge.
    5) William Stewart Ross - that agnosticism is "the very reverse of atheism". That one is somewhat weird.
    6) Robert G. Ingersoll - If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know.
    7) Bertrand Russell - An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth.
    8) Leslie Weatherhead - many professing agnostics are nearer belief in the true God than are many conventional church-goers who believe in a body that does not exist. Another weird one.
    However, that's still 6 out of 8 - 75% - that speak of agnosticism referring to knowledge (as opposed to belief).

    The idea that unless you can prove the existence or absence of a god you must remain undecided.
    What?
    Where's the "indecision".
    You can believe without claiming to know. As I have previously stated.

    The "loose popularization" is in all practical aspects quite accurate.
    Apart from the fact that the terms agnostic atheist and agnostic theist become meaningless. And the fact that atheist then becomes something other than what it actually means (or semi-duplicated) by "agnostic".
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    Quote Originally Posted by Anathema View Post
    Perhaps one would say "I know for a fact that god doesn't exist"? Or perhaps "I have enough information to determine that I don't believe in god"?
    The latter isn't a claim of knowledge.
    The former... meh. I suppose, but it doesn't sit well with me.

    On a more personal note... I'm more of an "apatheist" as I've heard it called.
    I think ignosticism is the way to go.
    But, as I've said elsewhere on this forum: the "better" someone defines "god" the easier it is to refute conclusively.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Alright. But the article gives 8 different flavors
    You really should read that article instead of simply skimming it and relying on your own opinion.
    Presumably the "8 flavours" you're referring to are the (and this is noted in the heading) HISTORY.
    And, in those histories we have:
    1) Hindu - Who really knows?
    2) Greek - but certainty and knowledge are impossible.
    3) Hume, Kant, and Kierkegaard - impossible to construct any unassailable proof for the existence or non-existence of God. I.e. we cannot know.
    4) Thomas Henry Huxley - It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant. No knowledge.
    5) William Stewart Ross - that agnosticism is "the very reverse of atheism". That one is somewhat weird.
    6) Robert G. Ingersoll - If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know.
    7) Bertrand Russell - An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth.
    8) Leslie Weatherhead - many professing agnostics are nearer belief in the true God than are many conventional church-goers who believe in a body that does not exist. Another weird one.
    However, that's still 6 out of 8 - 75% - that speak of agnosticism referring to knowledge (as opposed to belief).

    The idea that unless you can prove the existence or absence of a god you must remain undecided.
    What?
    Where's the "indecision".
    You can believe without claiming to know. As I have previously stated.
    The problem I see is that all indecision takes the form above described. You can't achieve indecision if you think the evidence available to you suggests an answer.

    And most of these views listed do not suggest the question is unknowable in principle, only that it is not determinable with current evidence.

    Hindu - Who knows? Who will proclaim it?

    --------IE. the information may exist, but we are not in possession of it.

    Greek - "Many things prevent knowledge including the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life"

    --------Or in other words: The information exists, and could be known in principle, but we haven't gotten around to finding it out yet.



    Hume,Kant,Kriegard - I'm not even going to address. It's pretty far out in left field (feel free to discuss it in detail if you want to, but I prefer to save space.)

    Huxley -

    They were quite sure they had attained a certain "gnosis,"–had, more or less successfully, solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble. And, with Hume and Kant on my side, I could not think myself presumptuous in holding fast by that opinion ...
    So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of "agnostic." It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant. ... To my great satisfaction the term took.


    ------He at least mentions the part about the problem being "insoluble." But still the center of his statement is that he is increasingly undecided the more he looks into it.

    Ingersol

    Is there a God? I do not know. Is man immortal? I do not know. One thing I do know, and that is, that neither hope, nor fear, belief, nor denial, can change the fact. It is as it is, and it will be as it must be.
    In the conclusion of the speech he simply sums up the agnostic position as:[53]
    We can be as honest as we are ignorant. If we are, when asked what is beyond the horizon of the known, we must say that we do not know.




    And Russel is the clearest case in point

    In his 1953 essay, What Is An Agnostic? Russell states:[62][63]
    An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned. Or, if not impossible,at least impossible at the present time.


    To believe a matter cannot be decided given the evidence currently at one's disposal is just plain "indecision." It doesn't need a special classification. All indecision, takes that form. If you believed the evidence at your disposal could lead to a decision, then you would use it to make a decision. Obviously anyone who remains undecided does so because they don't think the evidence at their disposal points in one direction.







    The "loose popularization" is in all practical aspects quite accurate.
    Apart from the fact that the terms agnostic atheist and agnostic theist become meaningless. And the fact that atheist then becomes something other than what it actually means (or semi-duplicated) by "agnostic".
    Yes, compounds of agnostic and atheist do become rather superfluous, don't they? That's a good thing. Needing fewer terms to discuss a topic means we're understanding it better.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    The problem I see is that all indecision takes the form above described. You can't achieve indecision if you think the evidence available to you suggests an answer.
    Again, if you don't know (and can't know) then you are agnostic.
    Since we have zero evidence either way then "indecision" isn't the case - it's a case of not knowing.

    And most of these views listed do not suggest the question is unknowable in principle, only that it is not determinable with current evidence.
    I see no conflict.
    Given what we do know we don't know.
    Maybe one day that will change.

    In his 1953 essay, What Is An Agnostic? Russell states:
    An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned. Or, if not impossible,at least impossible at the present time.
    Isn't that what I've said?

    To believe a matter cannot be decided given the evidence currently at one's disposal is just plain "indecision."
    Arrant nonsense.
    It's a plain declaration that we do not have sufficient information to come to a definitive conclusion. Any decision made on the basis of that information MUST be regarded as provisional. Ergo the most rational choice is to admit that we don't (and currently can't) know.

    Obviously anyone who remains undecided does so because they don't think the evidence at their disposal points in one direction.
    And, given that we have no evidence either way?
    Or do you decide that absence of evidence is evidence of absence?

    Yes, compounds of agnostic and atheist do become rather superfluous, don't they? That's a good thing. Needing fewer terms to discuss a topic means we're understanding it better.
    Right, so you're of the opinion that anyone who declares a belief in god should also claim to know ABOUT god. And possibly also claim that it's not a belief but a fact. (And vice versa for atheists, of course).
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    Needing fewer terms to discuss a topic means we're understanding it better.
    Malarky. If that was true then not having any terms to discuss a topic would indicate perfect understanding of it instead of utter ignorance about it.
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  82. #81  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post

    In his 1953 essay, What Is An Agnostic? Russell states:
    An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned. Or, if not impossible,at least impossible at the present time.
    Isn't that what I've said?
    The underlined part is what I was getting at. An agnostic need not believe that acquiring sufficient evidence to determine the existence or non-existence of god is impossible. Only that it has not been achieved.

    In contrast, a theist may believe that the acquiring of sufficient evidence to determine the issue has been achieved. Perhaps they place greater value on relayed personal experience of ancient writers, or believe they have experienced something them self.

    It's quite possible that two individuals could have exactly identical approaches to the question, but one becomes agnostic and the other becomes a theist simply because they are both confronted with different sets of evidence.
    To believe a matter cannot be decided given the evidence currently at one's disposal is just plain "indecision."
    Arrant nonsense.
    It's a plain declaration that we do not have sufficient information to come to a definitive conclusion. Any decision made on the basis of that information MUST be regarded as provisional. Ergo the most rational choice is to admit that we don't (and currently can't) know.
    Indecision is "a plain declaration that we do not have sufficient information to come to a definitive conclusion."

    If you can't decide which hotel would be better to use on your next vacation, you are making "a plain declaration that we do not have sufficient information to come to a definitive conclusion."

    If you can't decide whether I am currently holding up two fingers or three (because I'm on the other end of the internet from you and you can't see my hand), then you are making "a plain declaration that we do not have sufficient information to come to a definitive conclusion."

    I would request that you try and think of a situation where a person can be undecided and that not be the case.


    Obviously anyone who remains undecided does so because they don't think the evidence at their disposal points in one direction.
    And, given that we have no evidence either way?
    Or do you decide that absence of evidence is evidence of absence?
    Not everyone is confronted with an absence of evidence.

    Maybe Jimbob's uncle told him that he was alone in the woods one day, and Jesus Christ appeared to him hovering in the air, did 17 grand miracles, and then told him to invest in Google stock back in the 1990's when Google hadn't even started yet, but his uncle forgot to invest and is consequently penniless.

    It could be totally false evidence. His uncle might have been high as a kite and hallucinated the whole thing. But if Jimbob believes his uncle then he is still making a decision based on evidence.




    Yes, compounds of agnostic and atheist do become rather superfluous, don't they? That's a good thing. Needing fewer terms to discuss a topic means we're understanding it better.
    Right, so you're of the opinion that anyone who declares a belief in god should also claim to know ABOUT god. And possibly also claim that it's not a belief but a fact. (And vice versa for atheists, of course).
    I think they should state their confidence level. 90%, 80%, 0.0000001%, 50% - or whatever else it is.

    It would be a lot simpler that way.
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax View Post
    The underlined part is what I was getting at. An agnostic need not believe that acquiring sufficient evidence to determine the existence or non-existence of god is impossible. Only that it has not been achieved.
    Uh, okay. Where have I indicated otherwise?

    Indecision is "a plain declaration that we do not have sufficient information to come to a definitive conclusion."
    So "I don't know" is the same, to you as, "I haven't decided"?
    You're not of the opinion that knowledge follows evidence. That, for you, deciding is predicated on personal choice rather than being led (or forced) to a conclusion by evidence?
    To decide is to make a choice. To know is a matter of available evidence.
    One cannot know in the face of zero information.

    If you can't decide whether I am currently holding up two fingers or three (because I'm on the other end of the internet from you and you can't see my hand), then you are making "a plain declaration that we do not have sufficient information to come to a definitive conclusion."
    Hmm,
    decide

    verb: decide; 3rd person present: decides; past tense: decided; past participle: decided; gerund or present participle: deciding
    1.
    come or bring to a resolution in the mind as a result of consideration.
    Could you please let me know how one gives consideration to insufficient evidence either way?
    The short answer is that, however many fingers you hold up, I don't know: therefore it's not a case of "making a decision" it's a plain lack of knowledge. There is no information on which to base a decision: any number I give would be a guess. No "decision" is possible. (At least not a rational one).


    Not everyone is confronted with an absence of evidence.
    You mean that not everyone holds the same standards of evidence.

    I think they should state their confidence level. 90%, 80%, 0.0000001%, 50% - or whatever else it is.
    Right.
    Make sure we assign a numerical value to, er, lack of evidence. Great idea.
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    An atheist, Matt Dillahunty, made a little marble analogy to help explain his atheist position. It goes something like this...

    Picture a jar of marbles. Let’s agree this jar must either contain an odd number, or an even number of marbles.
    Also, the default position is that we don’t yet know if there’s an odd or even amount of marbles, because we have yet to count the contents of the jar.

    For this analogy, lets state that Theism is the belief or claim that there's an even amount of marbles within the jar.

    The atheist position would then be to refute this theistic claim. However, this does not mean the atheist is making the opposite claim that there are an odd number of marbles inside the jar. The atheist is simply rejecting the theistic claim. So with that analogy, atheism is not a belief system. Just the rejecting of a claim.


    I like that analogy, but now reading the previous comments in this thread I’m not so sure where the agnostic position fits into this analogy? Maybe someone could chime in?
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    Has anyone mentioned Dawkins spectrum of theistic probability?

    Dawkins posits that "the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other." He goes on to propose a continuous "spectrum of probabilities" between two extremes of opposite certainty, which can be represented by seven "milestones". Dawkins suggests definitive statements to summarize one's place along the spectrum of theistic probability. These "milestones" are:[2]

    1. Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: "I do not believe, I know."
    2. De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. "I don't know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there."
    3. Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. "I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God."
    4. Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. "God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable."
    5. Leaning towards Atheism. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. "I do not know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be skeptical."
    6. De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. "I don't know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there."
    7. Strong atheist. "I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung knows there is one."

    Dawkins argues that while there appear to be plenty of individuals that would place themselves as "1" due to the strictness of religious doctrine against doubt, most atheists do not consider themselves "7" because atheism arises from a lack of evidence and evidence can always change a thinking person's mind. In print, Dawkins self-identified as a '6', though when interviewed by Bill Maher[3] and later by Anthony Kenny,[4] he suggested '6.9' to be more accurate.
    Spectrum of theistic probability - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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    Quote Originally Posted by pineapples View Post
    I like that analogy, but now reading the previous comments in this thread I’m not so sure where the agnostic position fits into this analogy? Maybe someone could chime in?
    It's somewhat difficult to apply agnosticism to the marbles example - "Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims—especially claims about the existence or non-existence of any deity, as well as other religious and metaphysical claims—are unknown or unknowable". (Wiki)
    Since most people would agree that establishing the exact number of marbles is a fairly trivial exercise.

    How about: a certain company sells bags of marbles that are filled according to a genuinely random random number generator: you never know just how many marbles will be in each bag. You buy one for your kid but on the way home the bag "leaks" and drops a marble now and again - which rolls down a drain, or under a bus or gets trodden down into the grass verge.
    When you get home someone claims that the number of marbles lost was odd.
    Not only would you be "atheistic" with regard to that claim (since you have no reason to believe that claim) but you'd also be agnostic - there's no way of knowing.
    Last edited by Dywyddyr; March 26th, 2014 at 09:51 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    How about: a certain company sells bags of marbles that are filled according to a genuinely random random number generator: you never know just how many marbles will be in each bag. You buy one for your kid but on the way home the bag "leaks" and drops a marble now and again - which rolls down a drain, or under a bus or gets trodden down into the grass verge.
    When you get home someone claims that the number of marbles lost was odd.
    Not only would you be "atheistic" with regard to that claim (since you have no reason to believe that claim) but you'd also be agnostic - there's no way of knowing.
    Just thinking a jar containing an infinite amount of marbles (or what seems to be an infinite amount), could open up space for an agnostic position. But that might over complicate what’s suppose to be a simple analogy on Atheism! I think your analogy makes good sense anyway.
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    but all that Dawkins probable/milestone and "marble bag" is BS, no one is saying they think Thor walking on a rainbow with his magical hammer "might" exist for the reason there is no 100% sure proof he doesnt exist.

    The reason people run around the daisies with milestones, talk about not being sure and marble bags, is the same reason some humans did indeed believe Thor existed, its because you have lived inside the cultural box where the fairy tale is told, the bubble of delusion which you use as a reference. (For people outside this bubble of delusion, the idea of a magical deity existing outside of existence and knowing all before anything exists is just as ridiculously fanciful as a bearded man crossing a rainbow bridge with a magical hammer, and being agnostic is the same as saying "hum, Im not sure about that viking on the rainbow with his magical hammer, after all theres no proof he doesnt exist, so Ill be on the fence and say Im agnostic because we cant know for sure".)
    Last edited by icewendigo; March 21st, 2014 at 10:50 AM.
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    I'm sure you thought that made sense when you typed it out.
    But...
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    Let us assume for a moment that God exists AND, further, that he wants humanity to know of Him. By what means, through what agency or source has He allowed us to recognize that
    "fact" ? Holy books ? Which ? These are at odds with one another. Through scientific research ? None reveals Him. How would He expect us to learn of Him ? He has not shown himself (convincingly). Therefor, He is not here, there, or anywhere; therefor he does not exist. Our "assumption" that He exists is, it follows, wrong.
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Let us assume for a moment that God exists AND, further, that he wants humanity to know of Him. By what means, through what agency or source has He allowed us to recognize that
    "fact" ? Holy books ? Which ? These are at odds with one another. Through scientific research ? None reveals Him. How would He expect us to learn of Him ? He has not shown himself (convincingly). Therefor, He is not here, there, or anywhere; therefor he does not exist. Our "assumption" that He exists is, it follows, wrong.
    And have you done any of this scientific research?
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    Again people are thinking agnosticism is about whether gods exist or not.
    Agnosticism can be about any question and is about the state of knowlege we posses about the question.

    A better example than marbles or jelly beans would be the question of whether the universe is ultimately closed or open.
    It is a question we have no way to answer at this time. We might not ever be able to answer it.
    But it is not in principle unanswerable.
    Mostly because it is not about something supernatural.

    If you ask the question of what came before the beginning of time you have a question that is logically unanswerable. There is no way it can be answered nor is there any way to reformulate such a question so that it can be answered. It is in principle unanswerable.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Indecision is "a plain declaration that we do not have sufficient information to come to a definitive conclusion."
    So "I don't know" is the same, to you as, "I haven't decided"?
    You're not of the opinion that knowledge follows evidence. That, for you, deciding is predicated on personal choice rather than being led (or forced) to a conclusion by evidence?
    To decide is to make a choice. To know is a matter of available evidence.
    One cannot know in the face of zero information.

    Ok, so you're suggesting a person can make a decision to believe something without any basis at all? Could it honestly be said that they believe it then? If they have no reason to believe it?

    I can understand a person professing to be Xian merely because their family and friends are Xian and they want to fit in. I can't understand them honestly believing Xianity on that basis, though.


    Part of the confusion is that we're getting into what it is to know vs. suspect or believe. That's a "line in the sand" kind of question. Science usually draws the line at 5% for statistical studies. Different people have different lines. Some people might say that once you've reduced the odds to 0.0000001% of being wrong that then you "know". Others may add more zeros to that figure. Some might be content at 10% odds of error.

    "Belief" may also have different thresholds. I like to hope that most of those who "Believe" something have at least seen enough evidence to reduce the odds to 49% or less of being wrong, by their calculation. I think it would be a contradiction to say you believe something to be true if you estimate the odds such that is is true at less than 51%.


    If you can't decide whether I am currently holding up two fingers or three (because I'm on the other end of the internet from you and you can't see my hand), then you are making "a plain declaration that we do not have sufficient information to come to a definitive conclusion."
    Hmm,
    decide

    verb: decide; 3rd person present: decides; past tense: decided; past participle: decided; gerund or present participle: deciding
    1.
    come or bring to a resolution in the mind as a result of consideration.
    Could you please let me know how one gives consideration to insufficient evidence either way?
    The short answer is that, however many fingers you hold up, I don't know: therefore it's not a case of "making a decision" it's a plain lack of knowledge. There is no information on which to base a decision: any number I give would be a guess. No "decision" is possible. (At least not a rational one).
    If we really want to get technical, then even if you could see my fingers, then once you've seen them there is really no "decision" to be made. The evidence leads to one and only one plausible conclusion.

    If you can't see them, but had a great deal of skill at psychology, then maybe you could try to get inside my head and determine if perhaps one number had higher or lower odds than the others, and you could guess that number. At that point you may have a choice, because there might be several different ways of calculating a solution to the question, and some methods may lead to different outcomes than others. Same evidence, different analysis.

    Furthermore, if guessing one number lead to different rewards/punishments than guessing another number (in the event you are right/wrong), then that might influence your choice.







    Not everyone is confronted with an absence of evidence.
    You mean that not everyone holds the same standards of evidence.
    We could change the scenario. Suppose Jimbob is the one who got high as a kite. Maybe he was taking a drug prescribed by his psychiatrist and had no reason to expect it would cause hallucinations. Now its first person evidence (although wrong.)

    Just because a person is using evidence doesn't guarantee they'll arrive at the right conclusion.

    I think they should state their confidence level. 90%, 80%, 0.0000001%, 50% - or whatever else it is.
    Right.
    Make sure we assign a numerical value to, er, lack of evidence. Great idea.[/QUOTE]

    Why thank you. I generally look at evidence as merely increasing/reducing the odds of a particular viewpoint being wrong/right. I don't see anything as a lock, because it is impossible to determine any truth/falsehood with absolute certainty.
    Some clocks are only right twice a day, but they are still right when they are right.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Anathema View Post
    Perhaps one would say "I know for a fact that god doesn't exist"? Or perhaps "I have enough information to determine that I don't believe in god"?
    The latter isn't a claim of knowledge.
    The former... meh. I suppose, but it doesn't sit well with me.
    S'okay. It didn't sit well with me either.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dywyddyr View Post
    On a more personal note... I'm more of an "apatheist" as I've heard it called.
    I think ignosticism is the way to go.
    But, as I've said elsewhere on this forum: the "better" someone defines "god" the easier it is to refute conclusively.
    Oddly, that's still too well defined for me. I really do end up thinking of the entire concept like trying to talk about the time before the big bang. I just don't accept enough of a concept of a deity to make a discussion of it worthwhile for anybody! I'm truly an "I-don't-care-ian".
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    My feeling is that this is really an issue only in countries where religion is really big and influential or in academia/introductory philosophy.

    Where I live don't believe/don't care is the default position. When the census comes around, lots of people tick the Catholic, Anglican, Uniting box - but only because there's no "lapsed" option and they just don't think about it enough to make a conscious decision to say they're atheist or "none". If they use the word "agnostic" it's in the conversational sense of don't know - it's certainly not an indication of deep thought or reflection.
    Dawkins points out that many educated individuals don't really "believe" so much as believe in the idea of belief, for social or other reasons. Many just accept Pascal's wager as pragmatic and so count themselves among the faithful. But, this hardly qualifies as "faith" in a supreme being
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    Pascal was an agnostic and thought the question of God's existence was unanswerable.
    He makes that very clear in his Pensees.
    Let us then examine this point, and say, "God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
     Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all."
    Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dan hunter View Post
    Pascal was an agnostic and thought the question of God's existence was unanswerable.
    He makes that very clear in his Pensees.
    Let us then examine this point, and say, "God is, or He is not." But to which side shall we incline? Reason can decide nothing here. There is an infinite chaos which separated us. A game is being played at the extremity of this infinite distance where heads or tails will turn up. What will you wager? According to reason, you can do neither the one thing nor the other; according to reason, you can defend neither of the propositions.
    Do not, then, reprove for error those who have made a choice; for you know nothing about it. "No, but I blame them for having made, not this choice, but a choice; for again both he who chooses heads and he who chooses tails are equally at fault, they are both in the wrong. The true course is not to wager at all."
    Yes; but you must wager. It is not optional. You are embarked.
    Thanks for the clarification, Dan. My understanding of Pascal is scant; I thought his reasoning was that one had nothing to loose by belief, so as a practical matter one might sensibly chose it, making it a matter of pragmatism rather than faith. I was missing some details. I see faith and gambling as about equally senseless.
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    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Thanks for the clarification, Dan. My understanding of Pascal is scant; I thought his reasoning was that one had nothing to loose by belief, so as a practical matter one might sensibly chose it, making it a matter of pragmatism rather than faith. I was missing some details. I see faith and gambling as about equally senseless.
    Pascal chose to believe, he was in effect an agnostic theist.

    Though I still wonder sometimes if he really was a believer or if he was just going through the motions. Religion was much more "forceful" in his time.

    His actual wager was likely the first time anybody had written down a cost benefit analysis that used probability to decide what to do when there was not enough information for a simple choice, it is usually referred to as choice under uncertainty.
    It was the beginning of what is called decision theory now.
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    Umbradiago, I agree with your definition of 'agnostic', but think that 'atheist' should have a more aggressive description. I view atheists as people who are convinced that there is no God.
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    a more aggressive description. I view atheists as people who are convinced that there is no God.
    Aggressive? Not so sure. A whole lot of atheists are in the couldn't-care-less-about god/s because they treat the non-existence of god/s as a taken-for-granted, why bother, who cares? category.
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    Philosophy has as much, maybe more to say about the God question than the science I believe your asking for. Go figure out a scientific experiment testing God's existence. You can't, you need philosophy, which hard scientists regard as sophistry, almost. It's not. Science will never find God, and philosophy won't either; but it better dispels the illusion of one. If it is an illusion, which I think it is
    Quote Originally Posted by Robittybob1 View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by umbradiago View Post
    Let us assume for a moment that God exists AND, further, that he wants humanity to know of Him. By what means, through what agency or source has He allowed us to recognize that
    "fact" ? Holy books ? Which ? These are at odds with one another. Through scientific research ? None reveals Him. How would He expect us to learn of Him ? He has not shown himself (convincingly). Therefor, He is not here, there, or anywhere; therefor he does not exist. Our "assumption" that He exists is, it follows, wrong.
    And have you done any of this scientific research?
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