Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
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17-03-2012, 10:54 AM
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
(17-03-2012 08:28 AM)Starcrash Wrote:  
(17-03-2012 08:03 AM)Logica Humano Wrote:  It can be argued on what an Atheist is though. Agnostics are not technically Atheists, and neither are Apatheist. There are many different titles for many different beliefs, and it is not as simple as saying "You don't say there is a God, so your an Atheist."

We don't have to argue about definitions... that's what the dictionary is there for: to settle disputes on definition.

It's true that you can have different degrees of belief (for instance, the chart by Dawkins posted by Ghost) but you still either believe in a God or you don't. "Atheism" is defined by its precursor, "theism"... we don't have a word for people who don't believe in Green Aliens that eat planets because there's no word for people who do believe in such a thing. For as long as there has been belief in God there have been people who don't, and there's no way to logically conclude that there was a disbelief in God before there was a belief in God. Even if the existence of God was unknown, because it was unknown there would be no word for people who didn't believe in God (because the definition would beg the question/be circular reasoning).

Apatheists may not care about the answer, but it's fair to say that the theists will not claim apatheists among their ranks because I think most (if not all) of them will say that you actually have to positively do something to become a theist. So they'd be atheists by default, even if they don't want to use the title.

I do not care if theists accept Apatheists into their ranks. They can be considered the exact medium between the two.

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17-03-2012, 11:46 AM (This post was last modified: 17-03-2012 12:04 PM by craniumonempty.)
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
I would agree that the answer might be simple when we ask ourselves, but it's not so simple in determining in others.

Atheist really is basically saying you are not a theist. If you can definitively say you are not a theist, then the question is answered, you are an atheist by definition. That's why I get confused on agnostics saying they aren't atheist, but then saying they aren't theist. If you are simply (and only) an agnostic, then you don't know if you are an atheist or a theist. When determining what other people are, if you don't know then you are agnostic of whether they are atheist or theist.

The term agnostic in the question of theism usually answers how much knowledge toward the position you are. If you know there is a deity that exists (I would argue "has existed" or "will exist" also) then you are gnostic theist. If you know that no deity exists, then you are gnostic atheist.

Both terms "atheist" and "theist" are based on the term "theist" which is difficult to define in the first place (belief in a deity). I like to add the word "supernatural" to the definition of theist, because almost all deities have supernatural capabilities or are supernatural themselves. The deities that have nothing to do with supernatural wouldn't fall withing the belief of a "theist" for me (like calling money a god or something, but not expecting or thinking there are any extra abilities for the money).

The term that used to hurt my ears is "atheism" as there is no implied doctrine and atheists don't have to actively believe in something (like "atheism"), however, I just view it as another way of saying someone is an atheist if they "follow atheism" or that they are a type of atheist that follows atheism even though atheist doesn't necessarily have to be a person that follows anything as it's simply not a theist. Most people don't even see a difference between "atheist" and "atheism", so that might sound a little nit-picky or something.

There's probably more that I can't remember right now, but that will probably do.
Oh, there was more..

First when someone doesn't know if they are an atheist or theist. It's really, they don't know if they are a theist or not. In reality, "atheist" doesn't mean anything, but since being a theist is the norm, just saying you are normal doesn't show that you don't have a theistic belief. So basically saying you are an atheist may be unnecessary one day (hopefully).

Being a theist is an active stance, but being an atheist is not. Usually if you don't know if you are a theist or not, you are by default an atheist. The reason you can't say for certain is that the person may still believe in a deity and/or may not know the definition of theist. If someone can not be a theist, then they are by default an atheist...

On negation, some see atheist as a categorical negation, so theist/atheist only deal with people. If you see it as a true negation, then anything that can't be called a theist is an atheist (or not-theist). Depends on who you talk to whether they define it that way...

I'm sure there is even more, but that's it for now.

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17-03-2012, 12:29 PM
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
There is certainly a difference between the two phrases
"I do not have a belief in god/s"
"I believe that there are no god/s"

But both positions are atheists.
The first position is a weak atheist, while the second position is a strong atheist.
They both live their lives as if their is no god/s.
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17-03-2012, 12:34 PM (This post was last modified: 17-03-2012 12:44 PM by craniumonempty.)
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
... well, since I'm writing a bunch, I'm going to continue.

Often the argument is that the dictionary doesn't support the definitions given. That's because most dictionaries give common usage. They reference books and other reference material usually... I think some might survey as well, but I really don't know. I think if it's not written down somewhere they don't use it in their research of the word. I'll have to study that to figure out the exact reason. Most people say it's because the dictionary authors are Christian, but I think that might be a little unfair. Like I said though, I have to research that more. Either way, if you want to use the dictionary, then do. If you ask for what people think on the subject, don't always expect it to be the same as the dictionary. The dictionary is usually a starting point for me, not an endpoint.

The other critique of the way I am describing it (and some others who define it as "lack of belief" rather than an active stance) say that it's too broad of a definition. A word being too broad isn't really a criticism unless you understand why. The main reason why is because that way would include babies hence the term ignostic so that they can exclude babies from "agnostic" as well. I'm not sure why anyone would want to include babies as they aren't really the brightest in the bunch. Maybe it's the cuteness or that they see in their minds the babies burning in hell or something. Not sure. "Being to broad" as an argument seems kind of odd and unintelligent.. but "unintelligent" may be too broad of a definition Tongue .

You can't really say atheist is being used in the strictest etymology either, because an early usage by the Christians and Hellenists who used it against each other. I guess they meant that the other side didn't believe in or rather denies belief in (or rather simply "denies".. unsure exactly what they meant at the time though) their specific god(s) or in other words, the true god(s). If that is the case and it can be relativistic like that, then to me everyone is an atheist since no gods exist to me. Go figure.

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17-03-2012, 12:45 PM
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
Dictionary, smictionary... as a prophet of god, I know there is no god - other than Gwynnies. God enough for this universe. Big Grin

Dictionaries do not name, that is the key discrepancy. The name I choose, I would defend. The difference between the two, in my book, is war or neutrality. I say war. Wink

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17-03-2012, 03:45 PM
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
(17-03-2012 06:52 AM)Ghost Wrote:  I've always thought that the Cartesian graph Mugsy posted is shitte (no knock on you Mugsy)

Eh. I've got no ego attached to it. It's just something I made a while back to visualise what some people were saying.


This is why I am not a big fan of all these Atheist/Agnostic labels. As soon as you start trying to define them, every bastard within earshot has a differing opinion on them. Then they all get involved and muddy the water with their views.

That's why I usually just call myself "non-religious". People tend to understand that a lot better.
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17-03-2012, 03:54 PM
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
(17-03-2012 03:45 PM)Mugsy Wrote:  
(17-03-2012 06:52 AM)Ghost Wrote:  I've always thought that the Cartesian graph Mugsy posted is shitte (no knock on you Mugsy)

Eh. I've got no ego attached to it. It's just something I made a while back to visualise what some people were saying.


This is why I am not a big fan of all these Atheist/Agnostic labels. As soon as you start trying to define them, every bastard within earshot has a differing opinion on them. Then they all get involved and muddy the water with their views.

That's why I usually just call myself "non-religious". People tend to understand that a lot better.

You better get used to there being a "muddy water", for very rarely is there anything black and white.

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17-03-2012, 04:33 PM
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
ok Ghost.

I hope I don't have to do this again but please remember that Gnosticism and Theism are questions that deal with belief of what is the case and not conviction.

Things are never so Black and White.
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17-03-2012, 07:15 PM
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
You are a Theist (believer) or Atheist (nonbeliever). The Agnostic (I don't know) stance is someone attempting to appear open-minded by saying we can't possibly know if there is or isn't so they'll stand in the middle. Bullshit. If you do not agree with the evidence used for the existence of a deity then you are an Atheist. Own it. Take the same stance as you would if someone asked you if you believed in flying unicorns or pink dragons. "Hell no I don't ! "

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17-03-2012, 08:05 PM (This post was last modified: 17-03-2012 08:22 PM by craniumonempty.)
RE: Am I Atheist or Agnostic?
(17-03-2012 07:15 PM)free2011 Wrote:  You are a Theist (believer) or Atheist (nonbeliever). The Agnostic (I don't know) stance is someone attempting to appear open-minded by saying we can't possibly know if there is or isn't so they'll stand in the middle. Bullshit. If you do not agree with the evidence used for the existence of a deity then you are an Atheist. Own it. Take the same stance as you would if someone asked you if you believed in flying unicorns or pink dragons. "Hell no I don't ! ".

I'm not so sure "not agree with the evidence" is a good way to word it. First off, if you don't agree with something, you can still believe it to be true. To be a theist, you have to have a belief. If you don't, you are an atheist. And "evidence"? What evidence? I guess you can redefine evidence also, but that doesn't change the fact that there is nothing that is known of that can be attributed to a deity that can't also have a natural explanation. Maybe not a natural explanation that we know of yet, so a deity can be shoved in there, but most deities add more to the equation then necessary and don't seem to really explain anything.... well, you probably know that.
(17-03-2012 03:45 PM)Mugsy Wrote:  Eh. I've got no ego attached to it. It's just something I made a while back to visualise what some people were saying.

This is why I am not a big fan of all these Atheist/Agnostic labels. As soon as you start trying to define them, every bastard within earshot has a differing opinion on them. Then they all get involved and muddy the water with their views.

That's why I usually just call myself "non-religious". People tend to understand that a lot better.

Can't blame you for that. I didn't know what an atheist was for a long time and refused it the first time because of the look on the person's face that said it (it was a priest). I didn't even research it. Just didn't like the reaction. I didn't say I "denied" or "rejected" the Christian god and was very specific to point out that I just simply didn't believe. Didn't matter. Then after it happened again with more Christians, I decided to find out what an atheist was. Glad I did.

So it was actually Christians who gave me the definition after I explicitly made sure not to use a strong stance. Well, I would now call it a strong atheist stance. Hell, I didn't and don't even call it a stance really. It was and has always been about simply not believing.

As far as "non-religious", some believers find that more satisfying, because it doesn't indicate that you don't believe in a deity. There are Christians that are non-religious, because they see it as simply believing in the Bible (or something like that). This goes with atheist as well. Doesn't mean someone is non-religious simply because they are atheist either. Nor does it presuppose that all atheists are intelligent, don't believe in ghosts or aliens, nor does it mean that we all agree... Maybe we can all agree on that. ;p

Either way, non-religious is definitely less confrontational to believers IMO.

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