I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
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16-07-2011, 11:09 AM
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
I'm an atheist. This doesn't mean I'm not also an agnostic... agnosticism is, in a sense, just admitting that you're reasonable and open-minded. But Dawkins hit on 2 types of agnosticism in The God Delusion, a temporary agnosticism (one that can be swayed into taking a side) and a permanent agnosticism (that assumes that no side will ever win and therefore taking sides or arguing the issue is absurd).

When I hear people say "I'm agnostic" rather than "I'm an atheist", I tend to believe they're differentiating themselves as permanent agnostics... they're saying they don't have a default position so that we won't try to persuade them one way or the other. I'm the temporary kind, but first and foremost, I live my life on the assumption that there is no God. I'm an atheist.

My girlfriend is mad at me. Perhaps I shouldn't have tried cooking a stick in her non-stick pan.
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16-07-2011, 11:29 AM
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
(15-07-2011 11:32 PM)Lilith Pride Wrote:  We should all know by now that Ghost is an agnostic troll who comes here demanding to argue with atheists on the proof of agnosticism =p

I'm guessing this is the issue Ghost?

Well, it's actually a comment about how every thread in this realm is filled with messages of yours along with a crack on how people are commenting on agnostics suggesting that you're here to proselytize. I would think the later stuff in my post suggests I'm not mad at you. That you actually do sometimes come and demand that others realize the validity is kind of just an added slant to it. I'm not taking offense to you at all. I've made a sarcastic comment about you in every single one of these threads by the way (the ones I replied on). We'll put it this way, you come off as a pretty gruff poster to newer users. I sure know that's how I saw you, and generally what I do in these cases is just make a bit of a joke. If this one has offended you then I am sorry, I've never really considered you a troll. Like I said in my post I'm not big on superiority, and so sometimes I go for humility. I make myself sound bad all the time.

I'll end this apology with a Futurama reference since Monkey likes it, and Ghost mentioned it. And because it's something more sarcastic on this comment than me =p

Zapp: "What makes a man turn neutral ... Lust for gold? Power? Or were you just born with a heart full of neutrality?"

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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16-07-2011, 12:40 PM
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
Well, I gotta be blunt and less articulate than everyone else on this issue. Saying you believe in a "possiblity" of God is the same as saying you believe in the "possiblity" of the tooth fairy, Santa, Leprecauns, a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, etc. It is a completely absurd argument that God- as a creator of life on Earth and an overseer of it- could exist. The position that God could "possibly" exist is about as relevant and realistic as saying the Wizard of Oz could exist- because God exists in a book and the Wiz exists in a movie (and a book, too). Fictional characters have no credence. To say they MAY exist is delusional. Either you believe in God or you don't. "Agnostic" is a term for people who don't wish to offend either side. I have plenty of religious friends. I don't wish to offend them. But I never refer to myself as agnostic, because that would be untrue. There is no God. I can't pretend otherwise. How can anyone else pretend that God MAY exist? Really? How? Why? What for? Look around. There is no God. There is no reason for God. There is no possibility of God. How can you sit on the fence?

The way to see by Faith, is to shut the eye of Reason. - Ben Franklin
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16-07-2011, 01:51 PM
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
Hot rod mike me thinks you must have a wealth of knowledge the rest of us are obviously lacking, please be kind enough to share.
If you are going to say it is impossible for there to be a god or leprechauns eve for that matter I urge you to share you abundance of evidence so that we too can become free of this burden. Then I would no longer have to say that the possibility of god is even that, I would be able to throw the idea completely out of the window and never discuss it again, you would free my mind if you could just offer up the absolute proof of the non existence of any godlike being.
If you can't however then I suggest you maybe realize people like me would rather wait until there IS evidence before making that final decision.
Since I'm pretty sure you don't have actual evidence in the same way Christians don't have actual evidence I don't know how you could be 100% sure. That sounds rather faithy to me. I like evidence, until I see it I don't rule out any possibility because I wouldn't want to be presumptuous.
However that doesn't mean I can't take a rather confident step in one way or another. But it also doesn't me I place ideas in the spot where actual evidence and proof reside.

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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17-07-2011, 07:13 AM (This post was last modified: 17-07-2011 07:16 AM by nontheocrat.)
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
(15-07-2011 09:48 PM)Ghost Wrote:  I have issue with this statement for two reasons.

First, as an Agnostic, I recognise that there is zero proof for or against the Abrahamic God. So I could never personally feel convinced that he doesn't exist, or that he does exist for that matter.
...
The other reason I have issue with this is because the fact that holy books like the Qu'ran, the Bible and the Torah might make demonstrably false claims and may even be utterly debunkable does not mean that the God they make an account of does not exist. A phenomenon is not its account, it's a phenomenon. For example, Whoopie Goldberg is a male Aryan Jew accountant with red hair and freckles. My account is garbage, but Whoopie Goldberg exists outside of it. It would be ludicrous for me to say that because my account is full of holes that Whoopie Goldberg does not exist.

I thoroughly disagree, I would argue that the existence of evil, suffering and death itself is proof against an all-knowing, all-loving, all-powerful being in charge. I see zero proof for and plenty against. Your example of Whoopie does not hold up here because these attributes are all we have to describe this god, if you do not concede at least these attributes, then you are not talking about the Abrahamic god, you are talking about something else.

If you deny Jehovah these characteristics then hot would you describe Jehovah? Like this? "This spiritual uh... nonthing uh... that makes stuff..." Not unprovable, but also irrelevant and pointless to debate about.

(15-07-2011 09:48 PM)Ghost Wrote:  I hear people frequently say that they are Agnostic about some things. Agnosticism is not a weekend retreat, it's a way of life. You don't get to cherry pick what you want to be Agnostic about. Being an Agnostic means you will not pretend to know something that has not been demonstrated or that is indemonstrable. It doesn't mean that you're Agnostic about things you have to be Agnostic about but not about things you arbitrarilly decide are silly or outmoded. You simply can't be Agnostic about some things and not about others. It's not a case by case position, it's an all encompassing world view.

For me, being an Agnostic means admitting we don't know when we don't know instead of pretending anything else. When someone says they don't actually know if there's no God but thinks there isn't, they're not Agnostic. It reminds me of what Malik tells Remy in Higher Learning:

Quote:Remy is it? Man, I gotta admit you've been really polite by staying out of my way. But you ain't been honest. See I figure, it's not what a person says it's what they think. So in my mind, you've been walking around here calling me a nigger in you head. Am I right?

Based on your definition, an agnostic would be unable to say anything about anything. This is the most ridiculous argument I've ever heard, instead of agnosticism becoming a more reasonable alternative, you make it a dogmatic straitjacket beyond any atheist I've ever heard. I see knowledge and belief as two different things, and each as shades of gray that differ on each question. Not neat and easy but I think realistic and honest.

We cannot be 100% sure of almost anything in life ever, yet we cannot go through life never holding belief or disbelief in anything. But I can assess the likelihood of each and every issue based on the evidence I see. I see nothing dishonest about that at all, and find insult in your accusation of dishonesty. There is nothing dishonest about assuming ghosts, leprechauns, unicorns, or fairies do not exist because they are highly unlikely, and a deity is no more special than any of those.

In fact, trying to withhold an opinion and occupy some theoretical not believing yet not unbelieving neutral ground is unnatural and I would argue an impossible feat. As I understand the word, agnosticism is nothing more than a statement of knowledge, you are making it a philosophical dogma I do not recognize as realistic.

“There is no sin except stupidity.” Oscar Wilde
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17-07-2011, 10:18 PM
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
Hey, Zach.

Quote:I disagree, there is plenty of proof against the Abrahamic god. The proposed traits that he is said to possess conflict with the actions he is described as perpetrating in the Bible, and accounts of ridiculous events such as the tower of Babel and Noah's Flood are not historically accurate. When you get into fairly specific gods, when it becomes more than a vague notion of a superior intelligence existing somewhere out in the cosmos, there is reason to say "I'm pretty sure this is bullshit."

The issue as I see it is that what you have described is evidence against the Bible. God is not the Bible. I'm not saying "ha, see! God exists!" I'm just saying that it's important not to conflate evidence that debunks the Bible with evidence that debunks God.

I say this really to make the point that debunking evidence that supports a hypothesis, is not the same thing as providing evidence that disproves a hypothesis.

Hey, Hotrod.

Quote:Saying you believe in a "possiblity" of God is the same as saying you believe in the "possiblity" of the tooth fairy, Santa, Leprecauns, a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, etc.

Essentially, yes.

Very generally speaking though.

Santa is demonstrably fictional. So applying Huxley's principle, there's nothing wrong with having an opinion about something demonstrable. It's just the undemonstrated and the indemonstrable that you should not pretend is resolved.

Quote:It is a completely absurd argument that God- as a creator of life on Earth and an overseer of it- could exist.

What do you base this on? Something verifiable or an opinion?

Quote:The position that God could "possibly" exist is about as relevant and realistic as saying the Wizard of Oz could exist- because God exists in a book and the Wiz exists in a movie (and a book, too).

Let's get specific here. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was written by L. Frank Baum in 1900. We know for fact that it is a work of fiction. If the Bible's author came forward and said, "yeah, I made it all up to entertain my daughter," that would be definitive proof that the Bible is a work of fiction, but no such admission is on record.

As for the binary belief position, I renew my objection, but I admit that it is a position that people believe, so it is what it is.

Quote:But I never refer to myself as agnostic, because that would be untrue. There is no God. I can't pretend otherwise. How can anyone else pretend that God MAY exist? Really? How? Why? What for? Look around. There is no God. There is no reason for God. There is no possibility of God. How can you sit on the fence?

I agree that you are not an Agnostic. I would simply call you an Atheist. BUT, others would call you a Gnostic Atheist.

Hey, Nontheocrat.

Quote:Your example of Whoopie does not hold up here because these attributes are all we have to describe this god, if you do not concede at least these attributes, then you are not talking about the Abrahamic god, you are talking about something else.

I can't agree. A description is not the thing it describes. A description can be 100% incorrect and the thing it is attempting to describe can exist happily outside of it.

Quote:Based on your definition, an agnostic would be unable to say anything about anything. This is the most ridiculous argument I've ever heard, instead of agnosticism becoming a more reasonable alternative, you make it a dogmatic straitjacket beyond any atheist I've ever heard. I see knowledge and belief as two different things, and each as shades of gray that differ on each question. Not neat and easy but I think realistic and honest.

I'm just straight not saying anything like this.

When someone says "I don't know" they are not saying nothing, they are saying something. They are saying that they don't have sufficient evidence to do anything other than guess, which they're just not going to do. Furthermore, if there IS evidence, Agnostics are completely free to take a position on an issue. I am an Agnostic but I absolutely have a position on evolution, mathematics, anatomy, physics and a ton of other things because they are demonstrable and have been demonstrated. It’s all about demonstration. If it’s not demonstrated, you can’t say one way or the other. If it is demonstrated, you can’t say anything else. So I am certainly not saying that Agnostics cannot say anything about anything.

All of your objections are based on a strawman argument.

In terms of language, I don't know of people saying "I'm Agnostic about" or "I'm Gnostic about", nor do I know of people saying, "I'm a Gnostic physicist", or a "Gnostic MD." I do know that people say I AM an Agnostic or I AM an Agnostic Atheist.

Quote:We cannot be 100% sure of almost anything in life ever, yet we cannot go through life never holding belief or disbelief in anything. But I can assess the likelihood of each and every issue based on the evidence I see. I see nothing dishonest about that at all, and find insult in your accusation of dishonesty. There is nothing dishonest about assuming ghosts, leprechauns, unicorns, or fairies do not exist because they are highly unlikely, and a deity is no more special than any of those.

Agnostics hold beliefs and disbelieve things. So I don't comprehend your concern.

As an Agnostic, I too assess the likelihood of issues based on evidence; however, I don't take positions in the absence of evidence.

To be perfectly honest, I don't understand why there is such a passionate objection to something we've all experienced. Simply saying "I don't know."

If you feel insult from movie quotes, I'm afraid I can't help you.

Quote:In fact, trying to withhold an opinion and occupy some theoretical not believing yet not unbelieving neutral ground is unnatural and I would argue an impossible feat.

This just plain doesn't make any sense.

Quote:As I understand the word, agnosticism is nothing more than a statement of knowledge, you are making it a philosophical dogma I do not recognize as realistic.

I view it as the vigorous application of a single principle. Could you elaborate on what you mean by a statement of knowledge?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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18-07-2011, 08:22 AM
 
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
(17-07-2011 10:18 PM)Ghost Wrote:  Hey, Zach.

Quote:I disagree, there is plenty of proof against the Abrahamic god. The proposed traits that he is said to possess conflict with the actions he is described as perpetrating in the Bible, and accounts of ridiculous events such as the tower of Babel and Noah's Flood are not historically accurate. When you get into fairly specific gods, when it becomes more than a vague notion of a superior intelligence existing somewhere out in the cosmos, there is reason to say "I'm pretty sure this is bullshit."

The issue as I see it is that what you have described is evidence against the Bible. God is not the Bible. I'm not saying "ha, see! God exists!" I'm just saying that it's important not to conflate evidence that debunks the Bible with evidence that debunks God.

I say this really to make the point that debunking evidence that supports a hypothesis, is not the same thing as providing evidence that disproves a hypothesis.

If the Bible is false, what can we assume about the Abrahamic God? He is supposed to be responsible for the actions described in the Bible, all of those actions he takes and traits he is said to possess are part of the claim that he exists. Proving that those never happened or that the traits are logically incompatible disproves this particular version of God. Claiming that there was a God who flooded the earth as in the Noah's ark story is a claim that can be declared false because there is no evidence in favor of it, and plenty against it.

If someone wants to propose something that has no evidence for or against it and is completely unverifiable, I would assume it is false and behave under that assumption. Even if I cannot know whether or not it's true, there is no reason for me to consider it unless there is evidence. The most likely explanation for any claim made by someone for which no evidence can be given is that they made it up. If they did not fabricate the claim, there should be some evidence that it is based on.

For example, if I propose an invisible, intangible being who follows people around and causes bad things to happen when they displease him would anyone have a reason to believe me? I can construct such a claim so that there is absolutely no way to acquire any evidence for or against it. There is no way to know if my claim is true or false, but since I can't support it you should simply reject or ignore it until I can give evidence. Without any evidence to justify my claim, the most reasonable assumption is that I made it up. The same applies to God; he can either be a fairly specific God such as the one of the Bible, in which case you can disprove him through logical contradictions and evidence contradicting the story, or it can be too vague to know anything about and can be dismissed because it is an unresolvable claim.

Also, you mentioned earlier that you live your life as if you don't know whether a God exists instead of as if he does not exist. Aside from discussing the concept as we are right now, what is the difference? If God's existence is completely unknowable then it cannot have any impact on the real world or anyone's life. Peoples' beliefs may affect others, but the answer to an unknowable question won't affect anything. In that case, what would change if one finally decided that God didn't exist?
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18-07-2011, 10:44 AM
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
Hey, Zach.

Quote:If the Bible is false, what can we assume about the Abrahamic God?

Nothing.

Actually no. We can assume that it is not supported by any evidence.

Quote:Proving that those never happened or that the traits are logically incompatible disproves this particular version of God.

No.

What it disproves is that particular ACCOUNT of God. It says nothing of God.

For example. X is on trial for murdering Y. Z takes the stand and offers fanciful yet condemning evidence that proves X committed murder. The defence attorney then rips Zs testimony apart, proving that it's completely baseless. By your rationale, that action proves that X is innocent. What I am saying is that the debunking of Zs testimony says nothing about the nature of X whatsoever. The debunking of Zs testimony simply means that the prosecution no longer has any evidence. X might have committed murder, X might not have. An Agnostic says, "In the absence of evidence I cannot say whether he committed murder or no." A non-Agnostic might say, "I don't care if there's no evidence because I believe that he ______(insert value position)." This analogy is a little wonky because people on trial are presumed innocent to begin with, but when it comes to God, there is no, or at least should be no, initial position. Ie, failure to disprove his existence doesn't prove his existence and vice versa.

Quote:If someone wants to propose something that has no evidence for or against it and is completely unverifiable, I would assume it is false and behave under that assumption.

I see nothing objectively wrong with this position, but it is the antithesis of Agnosticism.

If you're saying that's how you'd go about it, I can only acknowledge that truth. If you're saying this is the only way for anyone to go about it, then I would say that that statement is incorrect.

Quote:For example, if I propose an invisible, intangible being who follows people around and causes bad things to happen when they displease him would anyone have a reason to believe me?

No, because you're clearly fabricating it to make a point. Agnostics aren't stupid Cool

Quote:I can construct such a claim so that there is absolutely no way to acquire any evidence for or against it.

Yes you can. And this is why the supernatural represents a special case.

If a scientist believes that there's another element that can be used in nuclear fission (what do they use now? Uranium and plutonium? Nuclear scientist I am not), I have no reason to believe or disbelieve him until after the experiments are run. If the evidence says he's right, I believe he's right. If the evidence points to it being impossible, I believe he's wrong. I remain undecided until the evidence is in. If someone asks if another element can be used in nuclear fission, all I can say is, I don't know. That's Agnosticism in action in the mundane.

But the supernatural is indemonstrable. Period. There will never be empirical evidence for or against because empirical evidence by its very nature is natural. So I must remain neutral eternally. That's the demand of Agnosticism. If someone says they refuse to believe until evidence arrives, I say they're in for a long wait because there never will be evidence. I also know that every single person that has ever lived that disbelieves in the supernatural has reached that conclusion in the utter absence of evidence. I'm not saying that's objectively wrong, but that it is what it is.

Quote:There is no way to know if my claim is true or false, but since I can't support it you should simply reject or ignore it until I can give evidence.

I "should" not do anything. All I can say is, someone made a claim. Do I know if it's true or not? No, I do not know. Can I say there's no evidence to support it? Certainly. But that's different than saying it's false.

Quote:Without any evidence to justify my claim, the most reasonable assumption is that I made it up.

There's absolutely nothing reasonable about that. There is no reason for me to assume that a lack of evidence is evidence of deliberate action on your part.

"Dude, I saw a tornado tear a horse apart into itty bitty pieces."
"Do you have any evidence?"
"No. The pieces are scattered across miles and are too small to be detected."
"I see. Clearly you have fabricated this story."

Sorry, but there's nothing rational about that.

The reasonable assumption is that a phenomenon may or may not have been witnessed and that there is no evidence to corroborate either possibility. That's the reasonable assumption because it's factual.

Quote:Also, you mentioned earlier that you live your life as if you don't know whether a God exists instead of as if he does not exist. Aside from discussing the concept as we are right now, what is the difference?

When Germany was attacking Europe, what was the difference in the reaction of France, Austria and Switzerland? France fought. Austria allied itself. Switzerland remained neutral.

That's just one example of neutrality and an example, I would hope, that clearly illustrates that neutrality is not the same as either a positive or negative position.

Quote:If God's existence is completely unknowable then it cannot have any impact on the real world or anyone's life.

I don't know what you mean exactly.

That being said, if God exists but is unknowable, God can absolutely have an impact.

If God is simply unknowable, then whether he exists or not, the truth of his unknowable nature absolutely has an impact because it calls into question the certainty of people that either believe he exists or disbelieve in his existence.

Quote:In that case, what would change if one finally decided that God didn't exist?

If there was ever any empirical evidence that God, or more generally, that the supernatural did not exist (which I believe is impossible, but for the sake of the hypothetical) then I would know that Naturalism is true. Science would no longer believe in Methodological Naturalism, they'd know Naturalism was true. I'd know there was no God and I'd think anyone who believed in him believed in a fiction. I'd still be an Agnostic, but I'd also become an Atheist.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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18-07-2011, 10:53 AM (This post was last modified: 18-07-2011 10:58 AM by Lilith Pride.)
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
This is a semantic argument though Ghost. What you're missing is that whether the entity exists or not, it is not the entity the book describes. If he's stating how to prove christianity wrong then he is being perfectly correct as the premise of christianity is the validity of the book. He's not proving god to not exist but the god of a religion. If christians happen to pray to a god that is different than the one in their book through a fluke, it is still not their god that they cling to. That a deity exists does not create wiggle room for the importance of a book which gives it descriptions that are false. Some christians yes have shrugged off the book and look to an undefined entity, but that doesn't really make them christians. They simply keep the title of the majority because they don't wholly disagree.

If it was ok for them to be praying to another god through a fluke then they wouldn't condemn people who pray to other gods. They clearly state the importance of the definition.

I'm not a non believer, I believe in the possibility of anything. I just don't let the actuality of something be determined by a 3rd party.
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18-07-2011, 12:34 PM
RE: I'm not atheist, I'm agnostic...
I don't necessarily think this is a battle of semantics, although I'm sure that has come into play here. I think rather Ghost is trying to say that assuming that something isn't true at all because some of it hasn't been proved true is wrong. What everyone else seems to be saying is that the Christian god cannot exist because events from the bible have been fabricated. To me that doesn't mean that the Christian god doesn't exist, it just means that some events from the bible have been fabricated and this should put all other events from the bible under closer scrutiny. The god from the bible may still exist, however obviously not as exactly defined from the bible as some if not all events and characters from said bible have been proven false. The idea of that god can be proven false by the examination of the bible, but not the god itself. Maybe that particular god did speak to prophets, but maybe the prophets were douchebags out for selfish reason and thus altered what they ere told to fit their own ideals.
Yes the idea of this god can be deconstructed but the god itself can't.
To prove something wrong you need evidence, And since unlucky as it may be, god is invisible it is awfully hard to prove that he doesn't exist, or whether he is anything like the god in the bible. You can't prove it using anything from previous history because in all reality the bible god could have made it all up. Including the proof you would use to disprove it. And you can't prove it by saying it seems rather unlikely, the same way Christians can't prove there is a god because they feel his presence.
To take the stance of Agnostic without further adding the atheist sub-title means that you wouldn't feel right fully casting out one idea or the other until there is evidence to support the claim. You can lean one way or the other, because while being neutral to the over arching plot, it would be more difficult to create a way for living without leaning. I don't think a person could ever be completely neutral to a subject because people do form opinions about things one way or the other. I'm sure even Switzerland wasn't too keen on the Nazis, whether they did anything about it or not.
Just as I personally don't believe in the bibles version of god or really any god simply because it doesn't make enough sense to me, so I lean more atheistic. But I also can't rule out the possibility of any god, because there is no proof. I don't see the ability to take a hardlined stance on something without concrete evidence.
A general idea sure, even a way of living, but to say something like there is no god period seems presumptuous to me.
This comment has gone on far too long and I've forgotten what I was trying to say now. I have a short attention span.
[Image: 93short-attention-span1.gif]

"I think of myself as an intelligent, sensitive human being with the soul of a clown which always forces me to blow it at the most important moments." -Jim Morrison
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