Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
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05-04-2015, 12:09 PM
RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
(05-04-2015 10:23 AM)KnowtheSilence Wrote:  My own preference is to use "atheist" to describe people who would claim that there is no God and to use "agnostic" to mean someone who doesn't believe one way or the other or who is unsure, but it's not something I find the need to go to the mat over. As long as I understand what people mean when they're using it AND that they aren't using it in a way that goes completely against any common understanding (ie Mr. Frank "I'm an atheist who believes in God" Schaeffer), I don't care.

The problem with that definition (i.e. "there is no god") is that people can then ask you to prove it. How do you know there is no god? How do you prove unicorns don't exist?

I see no evidence that any god exists. But I can't be 100% certain. Only 99.99% certain. So, I'm agnostic in the sense that I'm "unsure" but I'm only unsure to the same degree that unicorns don't exist.

But I very much describe myself as atheist.
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05-04-2015, 01:48 PM
RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
I must have talked about this a thousand times and I'm surprised people choose to describe themselves as atheists or agnostics without even looking up what these words mean.

The Greek prefix "a-" means "without", so "atheist" means "without a god" and "agnostic" means "without knowledge (of something)". It's that simple.

Now, anyone can claim that their own definitions are correct, but no one can change what these words actually mean.

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05-04-2015, 02:05 PM
RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
(05-04-2015 12:09 PM)jockmcdock Wrote:  
(05-04-2015 10:23 AM)KnowtheSilence Wrote:  My own preference is to use "atheist" to describe people who would claim that there is no God and to use "agnostic" to mean someone who doesn't believe one way or the other or who is unsure, but it's not something I find the need to go to the mat over. As long as I understand what people mean when they're using it AND that they aren't using it in a way that goes completely against any common understanding (ie Mr. Frank "I'm an atheist who believes in God" Schaeffer), I don't care.

The problem with that definition (i.e. "there is no god") is that people can then ask you to prove it. How do you know there is no god? How do you prove unicorns don't exist?

I see no evidence that any god exists. But I can't be 100% certain. Only 99.99% certain. So, I'm agnostic in the sense that I'm "unsure" but I'm only unsure to the same degree that unicorns don't exist.

But I very much describe myself as atheist.

I think atheism can handle the burden of proof. Naturalism is my positive worldview, and I believe it is defensible.

The only time you run into trouble is when you encounter the idea that you must hold an idea with absolute certainty in order for it to qualify as "knowledge." I don't know where that idea comes from.

The idea that anything less than 100% certainty = agnosticism renders the word agnostic useless since it would apply to practically everything. What matters is reasonable certainty, not absolute.

I'm just thinking out loud.
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05-04-2015, 02:25 PM
RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
(05-04-2015 06:57 AM)kristenkjordan Wrote:  My boyfriend said the term "agnostic atheist" doesn't make sense.
Many people think Atheism means a belief that god doesn't exist. They also think there are other things to atheism as if it is a group of people.
It isn't a group, its a tag denoting that a person lacks belief in gods.

An agnostic atheist is definately not a strong atheist although they both fit under the "atheist" label.
Stating that you are an agnostic atheist is letting people know that your position is one of lack of belief rather than one of belief.
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05-04-2015, 04:06 PM
RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
Verbal disputes are one of lowest forms of dispute.

Dodgy
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05-04-2015, 04:17 PM
RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
(05-04-2015 06:57 AM)kristenkjordan Wrote:  My boyfriend said the term "agnostic atheist" doesn't make sense. But I actually came across a small list of different terms and what they're meanings were and agnostic atheism was one of them and it made total sense to me. I should totally track it down and show it to him with a smug "HA!" Laughat
Simply explain that (a)gnosticism is a knowledge position and (a)theism is a belief position. Knowledge and belief vary independently of each other. They are related but different.

It is a common trope particularly among Christians that there is a continuum which in fact doesn't exist, like so:

Theist: Is sure there's a god
Agnostic: Isn't sure there's a god
Atheist: Is sure there's no god

This is mixing metaphors so to speak because all of the three definitions above are about knowledge, not belief based on preponderance of evidence and hopefully rational defaults where evidence is lacking. Apples and oranges.

Not that there aren't a handful of agnostics whose major characteristics might be described as waffling on the existence-of-god question. This would be an agnostic who thinks there are decent (as in, say, 50/50) odds that a particular deity such as the Christian god, exists. This is the result of muddled and conflicted thinking though and is far from typical. It usually describes people on their way in or out of theism, not the stable / steady state they generally achieve after (de)conversion.

It's more like this:

Gnostic theist (typical): Believes there's a god and is quite sure they are right.

Agnostic theist (unusual): Believes there's a god but is not certain about it.

Gnostic atheist (unusual, particularly when pressed for particulars): Doesn't believe in god and is sure they are right.

Agnostic atheist (typical): Doesn't believe in god as they see no valid reason to. Understands that invisible interventionist deities are inherently unfalsifiable / unprovable and therefore doesn't technically claim to it's "knowable" that there is such a thing -- just thinks the odds vanishingly small.
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05-04-2015, 04:25 PM
RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
(05-04-2015 02:05 PM)KnowtheSilence Wrote:  
(05-04-2015 12:09 PM)jockmcdock Wrote:  The problem with that definition (i.e. "there is no god") is that people can then ask you to prove it. How do you know there is no god? How do you prove unicorns don't exist?

I see no evidence that any god exists. But I can't be 100% certain. Only 99.99% certain. So, I'm agnostic in the sense that I'm "unsure" but I'm only unsure to the same degree that unicorns don't exist.

But I very much describe myself as atheist.

I think atheism can handle the burden of proof. Naturalism is my positive worldview, and I believe it is defensible.

The only time you run into trouble is when you encounter the idea that you must hold an idea with absolute certainty in order for it to qualify as "knowledge." I don't know where that idea comes from.

The idea that anything less than 100% certainty = agnosticism renders the word agnostic useless since it would apply to practically everything. What matters is reasonable certainty, not absolute.

Mapping a continuum of degrees of belief onto two words is bound to be a failure. I sometimes don't really know why I bother.

Quantum Physics: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
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05-04-2015, 04:58 PM
RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
(05-04-2015 12:09 PM)jockmcdock Wrote:  
(05-04-2015 10:23 AM)KnowtheSilence Wrote:  My own preference is to use "atheist" to describe people who would claim that there is no God and to use "agnostic" to mean someone who doesn't believe one way or the other or who is unsure, but it's not something I find the need to go to the mat over. As long as I understand what people mean when they're using it AND that they aren't using it in a way that goes completely against any common understanding (ie Mr. Frank "I'm an atheist who believes in God" Schaeffer), I don't care.

The problem with that definition (i.e. "there is no god") is that people can then ask you to prove it. How do you know there is no god? How do you prove unicorns don't exist?

I see no evidence that any god exists. But I can't be 100% certain. Only 99.99% certain. So, I'm agnostic in the sense that I'm "unsure" but I'm only unsure to the same degree that unicorns don't exist.

But I very much describe myself as atheist.

I feel much the same way. I'm not actively hoping there's a god or that there isn't. I simply don't see a case for one, with all the evidence i have thus far. Is that an agnostic? Is it atheist? IDK, don't really care.
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05-04-2015, 05:06 PM
RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
(05-04-2015 04:58 PM)BeardFist McFistBeard Wrote:  
(05-04-2015 12:09 PM)jockmcdock Wrote:  The problem with that definition (i.e. "there is no god") is that people can then ask you to prove it. How do you know there is no god? How do you prove unicorns don't exist?

I see no evidence that any god exists. But I can't be 100% certain. Only 99.99% certain. So, I'm agnostic in the sense that I'm "unsure" but I'm only unsure to the same degree that unicorns don't exist.

But I very much describe myself as atheist.

I feel much the same way. I'm not actively hoping there's a god or that there isn't. I simply don't see a case for one, with all the evidence i have thus far. Is that an agnostic? Is it atheist? IDK, don't really care.

That would make you an atheist so far and agnostic about the future, thus "agnostic atheist".

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05-04-2015, 05:12 PM
Sad RE: Growled out by an "atheist" over defining atheism?
The atheist/agnostic argument will probably never end.
For myself, I loosely use the term agnostic.
As for hard line religious doctrine I am atheist.
As for a potential universal developing force for
bettermentConsider I am agnostic........

If I act in a reasonably decent secular manner I
imagine the former (if it exists?) will unravel in it's own good time.
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