Atheism VS. Agnosticism
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15-05-2012, 12:35 PM
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
(15-05-2012 10:16 AM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Cantor.

I don't know that I've pre-supposed anything. Unless that's a synonym for hypothesise, which I don't think it is. And I'm sure it's entirely possible to show that some God concepts come out of a work of fiction. Good luck proving that for the multi-millenium old ones though. And another thing, if you leave your tongue out too long, it'll dry out Cool

Sup, Erxomai.

I gotta disagree with you. God isn't a non-issue in my life. I do have a relationship with God. It's personal, but it's there. I don't take a "whatevs, maaaan" approach to God. I'm certainly not a Christian though, neither am I a salvationist of any ilk. In fact, I am B; which means something to people who have read The Story of B by Daniel Quinn. In short, I'm an anti-Christ (which isn't as sensational as it sounds).

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
Hey Ghost,
I'm fine with disagreement, I just don't understand how one can say they can't know if there's a God or not, but they have a relationship with said God that they don't know is there or not. Maybe it's ineffable and if so, don't bother wasting your typing on my closed mind. Smile

It was just a fucking apple man, we're sorry okay? Please stop the madness Laugh out load
~Izel
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15-05-2012, 01:03 PM
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
Hey, Erxomai.

I also have a relationship with aliens, life on Europa, whether or not my friend is gonna have a boy or a girl and all manner of things I don't know about. Just because I don't know the answer doesn't mean I'm not concerned with the question. The question excites me. There are so many hypotheticals to ponder, so many thought exercises, so many what ifs. If I just purged God from my thoughts and my life, it'd only be because I knew he didn't exist. Which I don't. As with most things to do with me, the answer lies somewhere in the middle Cool

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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15-05-2012, 06:13 PM (This post was last modified: 15-05-2012 06:25 PM by DeepThought.)
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
Every work of fiction could be potentially true. I suppose I'm agnostic towards some of the things in the sci-fi books I read. E.g. Eon. Some of the things in that book can't be demonstrated (yet).

I think there's a difference between this and being agnostic towards a god. The science fiction at least has some science behind it at some point. God is just... pointless because it doesn't have any kind of anchor in the real world. Our world. A god will never get past the conceptual stage.

If your going to be agnostic towards god you have to be agnostic towards fsm. You can't prove it doesn't exist. That was the whole reason FSM was made up. Any god, made up and/or buried in human history. They are all possible even if they contradict each other.

Seems like an exercise in futility. Where are you going to draw the line?

“Forget Jesus, the stars died so you could be born.” - Lawrence M. Krauss
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15-05-2012, 07:16 PM (This post was last modified: 15-05-2012 07:29 PM by Hafnof.)
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
I think there are a number of things we can all(?) agree on, and some that are more difficult to pin down. Serious-minded self-identifying atheists and agnostics can agree (I think) that:
1. There is no clear evidence that any god exists, and the more deeply we understand nature the less we seem to need supernatural explanations for the state and behaviour of the universe.
2. That the major religions that claim to have special knowledge are at least mostly full of themselves. Where they are correct (say on some moral questions) they seem to be correct on average no more than any other group in society (often less) and have had to change their views in response to science to deal with changes in our knowledge in order to continue to believe in and excuse their religious tenets.

To the extent that these views are common I think there is more value in pulling together to defend non-belief than their is in tearing one another apart to press one ideology over another. I posted earlier in this thread about the political importance of coming together, and I think it's a serious point. All ideology aside the ability for a non-believer to work, conduct business, and live our lives free from religious overreach is an important goal. The lifting of stigmas against non-belief and the normalisation of non-belief in many parts of the world are important goals and I think are shared goals. The judging of politicians on what they stand for rather than which deity they put their faith in is important and I think is a shared goal.

Politics aside, I continue to struggle with Ghost's view (I'm trying to shut up, but the words keep coming) that supernatural things that interact with the natural world leave behind no evidence of such simply because the mechanism they used to interact with the natural world was an impossible one. A pillar of fire may be impossible, but it is observable and therefore testable by science. Turning someone into a newt would not simply be observable to the subject of the action but also to other observers. The impossibility of the act does not influence whether it is observable and therefore whether it is testable. At worst it limits our ability to investigate the mechanism of the act.

The only thing that limits a god experience to a single person is when that experience occurs only within that person's head and doesn't influence reality outside of that person's mental and emotional state. The only thing that limits testability of supernatural interactions with the natural world outside of someone's head is if the supernatural being is playing an incredibly clever shell game of letting the right people suffer and die to avoid their existence being discovered. I can't rule that out any more than I can rule out the existence of gods that don't interact with the natural world.

My atheistic position on this is that there is no point believing in gods that are either hiding or not interacting with the universe. I don't deny their possible existence, just as I don't deny the possible existence of other kinds of alien life forms. It just doesn't have anything to do with my life, and does not lend credibility to anyone who claims that we must do or must not do things based on the wishes of these hiding or non-interacting gods.

I think this view is common to my self-identification as an atheist and the self-identification of others as agnostic. I think it is even true that both self-identifying atheists and self-identifying agnostics would no more pray and expect an answer than write a letter to Santa Claus and expect a gift at christmas time, but perhaps that is where our ideologies part ways. If that is the functional difference between atheism and agnosticism then we are perhaps quibbling over minutia here.

Anyway, I would divide the arguments into:
1. Political - Should self-identifying atheists and agnostics work together to encourage acceptance of non-belief? Can we classify both groups under a common heading that allows us all to be counted?
2. Ideological - Do we still pray in the hope that there is a theistic god, even though all of the major religions are wrong? Do we not pray, but feel a fuzzy good that there might be a god-beast out there that just doesn't interact with the universe all that much? Do we not pray, but fear that a horrible monster like the ones described in the major religious texts might actually be real and send us to eternal torture for not seeing through their evil shell game? Do we live our lives happy and content that what we see is real enough, and that our lives are all that matter? Do we remain open to new information as it comes in?

As an atheist I want to be counted in the non-believer bucket, and I do not fear heaven or hell or a good or bad god. To the extent that is relevant in my life I know there is no god. I also know I can't prove that a non-interacting or clever hiding god does not exist, but that doesn't impact my approach to life. I'm confident that we have done enough work to be able to discover a non-hiding interacting-with-the-universe god, even one that interacts with the universe in impossible ways. Since that's the only kind of god I really care about, I feel comfortable and confident in my knowledge to the extent that it is possible to know anything. That said, my mind can be changed. I don't feel compelled to defend my position against insurmountable evidence, and will always be ready to examine the evidence as it comes in. I'm prepared to seek for new evidence and I'm prepared to give people who are looking for new evidence or develop new theories the benefit of the doubt in their sincerity and in the possibility of what they may find. For now, I believe the evidence points fairly unambiguously to my current worldview being correct.

As for whether a society that believes true things works better than a society that believes false things - well the society that believes true things is likely to have technology edge and is likely to be able to foresee problems better than the one that believes false things. I tend to think that if the facts are available and people choose to pursue them then this should be generally encouraged. As the technology-human hybrid species evolves we will go through further societal changes and we can't foresee exactly where that will lead us, but it is part of human nature to try. "The sky calls to us. If we do not destroy ourselves, we will one day venture to the stars."

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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15-05-2012, 07:50 PM
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
The reason I get so annoyed by people using the term "agnostic" is because it isn't anything!!!

In life you either are something, or you are not. For the something you are, you label as such. If you call yourself an agnostic and you do not believe in a god, then you are NOT a theist. Technically this label would be Anti-theist. There is no room for anything else. Theists believe in gods. People who do not believe in gods are Anti-Theists.

Now, as pointed out earlier, we should not self identify as Anti-theists. Why? It's pointless and detrimental to arguments. However, are we Anti-Theists? Yes. Should we call ourselves that? No. There are an infinite amount of things we could not be, we do not label ourselves based on what we are not. While in fact the statement would be correct, there would be no point. Also, for the sake of ease, we choose to identify things as they are, not as what they are not. This is simply common knowledge.

A final question for anyone considering to call themselves an agnostic or who have already done so: Do you believe in a god? No?

Congratulations, that is what Anti-Theism is.

We simply do not believe in a god/s

"We Humans are capable of greatness." -Carl Sagan
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15-05-2012, 10:45 PM
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
Hey, Hafnof.

Thank you. That was an excellent post. Good stuff.

1. I accept that. There's a frame in there that irks me a little, but I accept it.

2. I don't agree that they're mostly full of themselves. If their individual beliefs have been debunked, then on those points they obviously have it wrong. On the others, who knows? For myself, I don't subscribe to any of it because there is no evidence for it whatsoever (well most of it anyway, I'm just trying to be concise). It is all the product of revelation. I believe that they believe it, but that's it. They've had a hard time with science because science has called many of their revealed beliefs into question and nothing collapses a world view faster than internal inconsistencies. We've seen examples of the more aggressive attempts of their ideology to reassert itself. There's a reason that the Evangelical movement in the US is on the far right; they're fighting for their very existence. But to me, that's neither here nor there.

Quote:defend non-belief

This for me is the entire issue. This term has multiple meanings and, much to everyone's confusion, they are used interchangeably; or at least the distinction is lazily upheld.

In one definition, non-belief means non-possession of. There is a lack of belief. I lack a BMW. That doesn't make any statement about what I think about BMWs, it's just a fact.

In the other definition, non-belief means disbelief; the assertion that there is no God. If I don't own a BMW because I think they're pretentious, then that's categorically different.

So if the call is for Agnostics and Atheists to defend the right to not be Theists, then I can dig on that. I'm a strong believer in the importance of cultural diversity. But if the call is for the tag team defending of the idea that God does not exist, then that is something that I cannot in good conscious do.

In terms of the supernatural and empiricism, I'll say this. Science is not concerned THAT something happened. Science is concerned with HOW it happened. How explains the phenomenon's, as you say, mechanism. If I see a burning bush, whooptie doo. Scooby Doo taught us that any bemasked crazy old man with a projector could do that and that they would have gotten away with it too if it wasn't for us meddling kids. Science looks at that burning bush and says, how was there a burning talking bush? If Scoobie Doo does in fact discover the projector, perfect, the phenomenon now has a material explanation, case closed. But a supernatural phenomenon does not have a material explanation; it has an arbitrary one. So when science asks how, it can't say because there is no material explanation to discover and arbitrary explanations are immeasurable and inconsistent. But science won't stop looking for that non-existent material explanation because it assumes that there is one. To scientists, not finding it just means they aren't trying hard enough. Anyhoo, that's really a debate for another thread. I'm just trying to be clear.

But regardless of that, one fact is irrefutable. To this day, the God question remains undemonstrated. If it ever is, then the Agnostic position will necessarily change because the Agnostic position stems from whether or not something is demonstrated.

This is why I hate the idea that someone is Agnostic ABOUT something. I am AN Agnostic. That means I base what I know and don't know, what I believe and what I dismiss, based entirely off of demonstration. If it's demonstrated yes or no, I believe or I don't. If it isn't demonstrated or if it's indemonstrable, then I don't know.

So when people run down the list of "Well are you Agnostic about this," my first reaction is to say, I ain't Agnostic about anything, and my second is simply, has it been demonstrated?

The Agnostic method is so simple that you could tell me what I believe, dismiss and reserve my judgement on just by answering that question yourself.

In terms of praying and writing letters to Santa, I have no specific doctrine governing them. Santa, to my knowledge, was made up. There's several books on the subject. So I have no reason to believe that a fictional character would respond to my letters. Also I'm aware that Canada post does not deliver letters addressed to postal code H0H 0H0 to Sanata. But I wouldn't say that I have no interactions with God (unilateral, coaxial or otherwise).

1. Agnostics don't want to be lumped into the same group as Atheists. We don't want a common heading, we want to be recognised as our own people. That's just the truth that many Atheists refuse to recognise. We are at odds, primarily, it would seem, about whether or not were at odds Cool

2. As I said, I have no particular doctrine on the matter. I will say this though, I absolutely remain open to new information. I just accept that some things will never yield information.

If you know there is no God then you and I have different beliefs. And if you know there is no God, that is different than lacking a belief in God.

As far as believing in true things leading to better technology which is a good, I say that's too simplistic. We live in the most technologically advanced culture the world has ever seen. And that culture has the worst crime rates of all time, causes the most pollution of all time, is operating under a demonstrably unsustainable system and maintains the delusion that we can somehow grow unlimitedly in a finite system, and is causing the worst mass extinction in 65 million years. Whereas some so-called primitive societies that believe in wood Gods and spirits and ancestors and whathaveyou, have negligible suicide rates, almost non-existent levels of mental illness higher reported happiness and live sustainably within their environment. I'm not saying I wanna don a loin cloth and live in the Brazilian rain forest, but that the metrics are far more complex than you presented and that the original conclusion, that belief content is irrelevant while belief cohesion is everything, still stands.

Hey, NSV.

I've never before heard the term Anti-Theist used in that manner. I don't quite get where you're coming from. I've always understood Anti-Theist to means someone who is against Theism and who would like to see it.... well, eradicated.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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16-05-2012, 12:03 AM
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
Are we really having this conversation? Atheism or agnosticism ... really? These are not two responses to the same issue. They are two distinct issues each of which requires a response.

Your lack of belief in God doesn't tell me what you think you know. I don't hold any belief in gods, any of them. That makes me 100% atheist.

But I have to admit that as one human being I have not had all experiences. I specifically have not had your experiences. If you say you personally have had an encounter with your god, I know I have nothing conclusive to offer you to show you are mistaken. That will be my hunch of course but there is no need to delude myself by overstating my case. I do not know what all there is in the universe so I cannot tell you precisely what there is not. So I am also 100% agnostic.

Both positions add value to my life. My lack of religious belief liberates me from all the time wasting rituals, not to mention the off-centering preoccupation with what our imaginary overlords may want from us. My recognition of my incomplete knowledge enables me to appreciate a wide range of people, without having to dehumanize them as zombies and idiots. As a result I have discovered that it is possible for people with religious beliefs to hold very nuanced and enlightened views about life and who we are. Theism alone is not an adequate litmus test for dismissing people's intelligence or wisdom.

A better litmus test is people's insistence on certainty. In general I've found that people who insist every issue is simple and obvious are not the brightest crayons in the box.

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16-05-2012, 03:58 PM
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
I think it's possible for a person to have no opinion about God, he might be real or not, they don't want or have a voice about the matter. Like it's perfectly possible to be neutral about something, you don't agree or disagree, there are points for it and points against it.

Personally I see myself more as an agnostic atheist, I do not think there is such a thing, especially when it comes to any religious god, a being with powers we can't imagine is more plausible but still unlikely. I do accept there is no way of knowing for certain, I could be wrong. I think most atheist accept they can be wrong which is what's different from religious people, they know there is a god and they ignore points against it, willingly or unwillingly.

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16-05-2012, 05:59 PM
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
I once read up on a form of conflict resolution between two groups (such as negotiating a peace deal) that more or less goes like this:
1. Get representatives of the two groups together
2. Get them each to describe their position or case
3. Work through each of their statements and for each word ask both sides for the definition of the word
4. Any words for which the two sides cannot agree a common definition is hereby excluded from being used in the final document, and we should refrain from using such words in discussions
5. Prepare a shared agreed statement of facts that uses only neutral language for which both sides are able to agree on the definition
It's not the whole process in actually solving problems, but it can provide a framework in which problems can be solved and misunderstandings can be minimised.

My statement would be: Atheists should be free to operate in a secular society alongside religious people without fear of discrimination or abuse. They should be able to speak their minds and engage openly in debate and in politics. Atheists have no reason to proselytise, but should be ready to lend support and encouragement to new and old atheists of all ages.

Atheist to me means someone who has accepted that they have no faith or belief in a deity or religion. It contrasts with the term "theist", which specifically describes faith or belief in a deity - but I would also use it to cover other supernatural attachments such as belief in reincarnation or a universal unconscious.
Secular society means that people of all beliefs and non-beliefs are able to engage openly in public debate and politics without fear that their belief or non-belief will be a major impediment. It means that people are judged on their actions and on their policies.
Religious people is a blanket term for non-atheist.
Discrimination and abuse might involve bullying at work or loss of employment, any attack on a person's livelihood or family or person or property.
Engaging openly means being able to put your name to your belief or non-belief, and to be able to state the arguments that make sense to you for or against various positions or proposals.
Proselytise means to convert someone from one belief system or non-belief system to another for the purposes of increasing one's own numbers or saving that person from some fate.
Support and encouragement would include providing resource to help people argue points they may be having trouble with, providing emotional support, and providing substantive support such as shelter and other assistance for people who need it. Such support and encouragement is particularly relevant to people who may be at risk of discrimination and abuse for their belief or non-belief.

I think this is a fair statement of where the atheist political movement is at right now, using definitions that are consistent with that movement. Under these inclusive definitions both self-identifying atheists and self-identifying agnostics would be lumped together under the one political "atheist" term for the purposes of achieving the outcomes and goals outlined above. For these purposes the difference between the two is not significant.

When we look back at the difference I think we see that:
1. Both gnostic atheists (those that claim no god - non-agnostic atheists? Smile) and self-identifying agnostics who choose not to see themselves as atheists would agree that for a broad enough definition of "god" we can't 100% rule the existence of that being out. For example, a god that did not get involved with creating the universe and has not interacted with the universe yet is one that we can't 100% prove or disprove without exploring well beyond our universe.
2. Both gnostic atheists and self-identifying agnostics would agree that for a narrow enough definition of "god" we can 100% rule the existence of that being out. For example, a god that always without fail heals sick children under some specific conditions but fails to do so under controlled conditions could be considered disproved.
Gnostic atheists will tend to classify all of the major religions' gods into bucket (2) along possibly with the whole theistic notion of god (a god that interacts with us), while agnostics tend to classify at least a meaningful subset of possible gods into bucket (1).

Did I have a point? I don't know. I'm going to shut up now.

Give me your argument in the form of a published paper, and then we can start to talk.
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16-05-2012, 06:10 PM
RE: Atheism VS. Agnosticism
(15-05-2012 02:49 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  I kan see I need my Woof pic again...

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Big Grin

I can understand why peeps go for agnosticism, but I'm still gonna talk smack about it. It goes like this: god is either knowable or unknowable. Nobody's talking about an unknowable god, cause everybody's talking like they know wtf is going on. So there it is. Tongue
The fact that religious people create their own gods and claim to know them smacks of their egoism.
Claims that god is this, that, and the other degrades the very concept.
Many of us intuitively feel a rough sense of right and wrong, at least in gross issues.
The idea of a perfectly good god is confusing as it relates to a potential cosmic state of being and is made by people of limited understanding..

As you indicate people feel the need to give their gods substance and power so they don't have to think so hard.
I do not believe (hard sense) in any religion or how they define their god as a block concept.
On the other hand I can intuit, from a secular point of view, great dangers along with potentially great advances.
By extrapolating from this position, into potential cosmic realms, and not defining god specifically, I am able to contemplate infinite possible scenarios.
I am not convinced entirely that death means permanent oblivion of bodily entities (soul) that may or may not be part of domains yet unknowable................... Consider
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