Question from a Theist
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07-04-2012, 04:13 AM
Question from a Theist
I'd love to hear atheists' opinions on a question. I've heard the following statement numerous times in various different forms from a wide variety of atheists:

It's not that 'I believe there is NO God', it's just that 'I do not believe there IS a God'

This is usually given in response to someone claiming that atheism is a religion or belief system, or in response to a request to prove that there is no God. Regardless, I'm sure a number of you have heard something similar, and some of you may even say the same thing.

My question is this:

How is the statement "I believe there is no God" different from the statement "I do not believe there is a God"? How do they vary in a significant way? How are those two not logically equivalent?

I have my own ideas on this, and my own opinions about it, but I'd love to hear what atheists have to say on the matter.
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07-04-2012, 05:12 AM
RE: Question from a Theist
They are very similar and there is seemingly little between them. I think the variation is probably more to do with the feel and implications of the sentence.
I think saying that "I believe there is no god" gives the impression that the starting point is that god exists. You are denying the existence of something accepted as existing.

Saying "I do not believe there is a god" seems to feel more like denying his existence totally.

Maybe it could also be something to do with the way the mind fills in the blanks. Maybe the first one implies direction towards that particular theists god or religion, whereas the second one is far more general by saying "a god" it denies the thousands of gods that are currently worshipped, whereas "no god" could be limited to just that particular theists interpretation of god.

Maybe the sentences are identical and these people are just dumbasses, who knows.

It could be complete rubbish, just my opinion on something that I have never really considered before.

"Belief means not wanting to know what is true"
Friedrich Nietzsche
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07-04-2012, 06:13 AM
RE: Question from a Theist
Round here, it's all about my Gwynnies, and I've had people go, what's a Gwynnie?

Know what happened right there? Others crediting my ability to perceive, using the assumption based upon simulation that I am like them, that what exists for me exists separate from me and may be perceived by them. What social animals do, communicate hazards and boons in the environment; and Gwynnies the best thing everz, so I do a lot of communicating. It is in the communication that god exists. A concept shared among social animals; a boon to some, a hazard to others. To say I don't believe god exists is to draw a conclusion based upon another's perception of god, to say I believe no god exists is to go one step further and add one's own perception to the mix. It comes down to how much trust one places in the perceptions of self and others.

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07-04-2012, 06:27 AM
RE: Question from a Theist
(07-04-2012 04:13 AM)SixForty Wrote:  I'd love to hear atheists' opinions on a question. I've heard the following statement numerous times in various different forms from a wide variety of atheists:

It's not that 'I believe there is NO God', it's just that 'I do not believe there IS a God'

This is usually given in response to someone claiming that atheism is a religion or belief system, or in response to a request to prove that there is no God. Regardless, I'm sure a number of you have heard something similar, and some of you may even say the same thing.

My question is this:

How is the statement "I believe there is no God" different from the statement "I do not believe there is a God"? How do they vary in a significant way? How are those two not logically equivalent?

I have my own ideas on this, and my own opinions about it, but I'd love to hear what atheists have to say on the matter.
I can definitely see how this might be difficult for someone to understand from the perspective of shoe on the other foot.

Essentially, at least in my case (I can't speak for all atheists, I am one man), one is a definitive stance, the other is a default stance from a collective assumption. And yes... I will dare use the word... "Assumption." because we can only explain things as best as we can describe them. Someone tells me that they've had a personal experience with a creator and they describe it out of what they sense, feel and think with their mind and their collective assumption, but this does not demonstrate to me a god or gods. I can say that based off of my collective input from things that I have learned around me that thus far I can explain things without needing a creator in the equation and therefore, thus far, my assumption based off of my findings is: I don't believe there is a god or gods.

A better way to put this is:

The default stance and definition of atheism is a lack of believe in a god or gods. This is usually because we feel there is a lack of evidence. For instance, I feel that with lack of evidence for the cause of Zeus that Zeus does not exist. This is because all documentation and thus far explanations of Zeus lead me to assume he does not exist and that he is a manmade, figurative collection of stories and myths and has no physical bearing on our existence. I don't think there is Zeus. Then again, I might be wrong, there might be a Zeus. This is the same way I feel about the abrahamic god yahweh. The same way I feel about Matsya. Even though the story of Matsya sending a flood and wiping out the earth's population is similar to the same story in the flood yahweh sends.

As firmly as I don't believe in a god or gods, I will also say that because of my lack of believe that I also can't say that it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no creator or god out there. I still don't see any evidence of one. Should that change, I will happily change my stance.

This is entirely different than me saying.... there is no god. That would be definitive, a statement, not an opinion or a formed assumption based off of my own findings.

But, to say that I may be wrong does not mean that I must assume pascal's wager, nor does it mean that anything I can't explain must therefore be god and it doesn't mean that because there may not be a definitive that I am wrong either, nor does it mean the person in question is right.

I hope this clarifies.
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07-04-2012, 06:30 AM
RE: Question from a Theist
(07-04-2012 06:27 AM)Logisch Wrote:  As firmly as I don't believe in a god or gods, I will also say that because of my lack of believe that I also can't say that it is beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no creator or god out there. I still don't see any evidence of one. Should that change, I will happily change my stance.

Weak, and made of waffle. Big Grin

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07-04-2012, 06:31 AM
RE: Question from a Theist
How so?
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07-04-2012, 06:44 AM
RE: Question from a Theist
(07-04-2012 06:31 AM)Logisch Wrote:  How so?

Giving the evil ones a chance to take over your mind. Big Grin

God has been created from human terms and human simulations. Each and every one is based off of something extant in the environment. Even the no-form of YHWH is said to be "light," or mind or spirit or breath; yet all the god-botherers these days are stuck in omni-mode. Thus all of them contain the inherent contradiction of label and no label, form and no form. And anything that could emerge from the void and impinge on human perception as "creator god" of necessity becomes lees than omni from said emergence.

It's lose/lose from here. Obviously the only point of omni is to say "my god is greater than your god," but there ain't no god greater than my Gwynnies. Ain't hearing it. Big Grin

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07-04-2012, 06:51 AM
RE: Question from a Theist
(07-04-2012 06:44 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  Giving the evil ones a chance to take over your mind. Big Grin

God has been created from human terms and human simulations. Each and every one is based off of something extant in the environment. Even the no-form of YHWH is said to be "light," or mind or spirit or breath; yet all the god-botherers these days are stuck in omni-mode. Thus all of them contain the inherent contradiction of label and no label, form and no form. And anything that could emerge from the void and impinge on human perception as "creator god" of necessity becomes lees than omni from said emergence.

It's lose/lose from here. Obviously the only point of omni is to say "my god is greater than your god," but there ain't no god greater than my Gwynnies. Ain't hearing it. Big Grin

The wonderful mr dawkins said it is important that we remain open minded, but no so open minded that we let our brains fall out. I think that's a very good point.

My main point in saying what I did... is that if I am to shut off the possibility of evidence, then I am a hypocrite if I were to ever respond with: "You don't have any evidence" but refuse to review evidence. That said... I have yet to see anything I would even remotely consider a hint of evidence. It's generally the same arguments we hear from theists, or perhaps old arguments wrapped in new wrapping paper and new colors but deep down are the same theological arguments over and over.

I think science has a far greater and more compelling argument than religion of any shape or form. I see nothing that indicates necessity of a creator. The god of the gaps argument is a poor one and science keeps driving it down the hole and it becomes smaller and smaller. This is also why I feel pascal's wager and the god of the gaps argument are silly. Because there are still things we can't explain and haven't figured out. I don't think they would end up being a creator, I don't assume they are a creator. I also don't assume that because I don't know that it must be god. I think it's more important to be skeptical and research.

I hope that clarifies what I was trying to portray via words. Sometimes I'm not so great with words.
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07-04-2012, 06:54 AM
RE: Question from a Theist
If you told me you had a motorcycle in your garage but you never took it out and you can't show it to me, I will not believe you have a motorcycle in your garage. I can't be sure that you don't have a motorcycle in your garage, so I can't say: I believe you have no motorcycle in your garage. But I can just refuse to play your little game of faith and say: I don't believe you.

Does that answer your question?

"But the point is, find somebody to love. Everything else is overrated." - HouseofCantor
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07-04-2012, 06:58 AM
RE: Question from a Theist
(07-04-2012 06:54 AM)Smooshmonster Wrote:  If you told me you had a motorcycle in your garage but you never took it out and you can't show it to me, I will not believe you have a motorcycle in your garage. I can't be sure that you don't have a motorcycle in your garage, so I can't say: I believe you have no motorcycle in your garage. But I can just refuse to play your little game of faith and say: I don't believe you.

Does that answer your question?
But at least we can describe a motorcycle, we know how it interacts with the world and can describe it to the T. So it's at least more probable to believe LOL.
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