The God Debates
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19-06-2012, 10:36 AM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2012 11:59 AM by Seasbury.)
The God Debates
Curious if anyone else has read (or is reading) The God Debates by John Shook.

I've only just started, but so far it's a good read. One thing I noticed, as Shook establishes the identification vocabulary is regarding the use of the label "atheist" and the perceptions associated with the term.

I know we had a full thread debate on "Agnostic v. Atheist" and I've no intention of rehashing that; however, I was perusing the Introductions thread -- something that I admittedly do not do enough of (probably due to my inherent anti-social make up), and ran across angela_means_fallen_angel's intro (very touching intro by the way). At the end of her intro she stated: "I'm not necessarily Atheist but I certainly don't belong to any religion."

I find this description interesting (as well as common). My wife does not believe in god, and if pressed, she might accept the identity label - but she's not necessarily comfortable embracing "atheism." My oldest son, recently graduated from college, told us a couple months he doesn't believe in god either, but described himself along the lines of: "I don't want to say I'm atheist, but I certainly don't believe in any of that crap."

Then of course, there was Neil deGrasse Tyson embracing agnosticism over atheism.

I begin to wonder if the term atheist has so much baggage associated with it that it makes people uncomfortable.

Shook writes:

"To repeat, an atheist is someone who does not believe in any gods. But you wouldn’t know this just by asking people. It sounds like four views have gotten stubbornly entrenched. One view says that atheists are those denying the specific theistic god of Judaism/Christianity/Islam; another says that atheists are those who deny that any god exists; still another says that atheists claim to know that no god exists; while a fourth view says that atheists simply lack belief that god exists. They are also arguing over how many atheists there are, and whether atheism can avoid all burden of proof in the god debates. This chaos is affecting agnosticism, which is now looking like a useless category; skeptical atheism encompasses agnosticism entirely. Agnostics used to know where they didn’t know where to stand, but now they don’t even not know what it is that they are not supposed to believe or to not believe. Agnostics can’t define themselves, but they do like to define atheism as excessive confidence that no god exists, just like religion’s defenders.

Shook, John R. (2011-08-02). The God Debates: A 21st Century Guide for Atheists and Believers (and Everyone in Between) (p. 21). John Wiley and Sons. Kindle Edition."

This is a relevant point -- if you don't believe a god exists, doesn't that make a person a defacto atheist? I get that an agnostic may not believe a god exists, but is open to the possibility (again, do not wish to rehash that thread and be guilty of HoC's necrothreadery (or whatever he called it Hobo ).

Guess what I'm asking is this: if someone is willing to state they do not believe in god (any god), then why are they reluctant to embrace the label "atheist" to describe that lack of belief?

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19-06-2012, 10:48 AM
RE: The God Debates
The only reason why I am agnostic is because of all the shit thrown into my very succeptible and trusting mind when I was a child at school.

For no matter how much I use these symbols, to describe symptoms of my existence.
You are your own emphasis.
So I say nothing.

-Bemore.
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19-06-2012, 11:04 AM
RE: The God Debates
Atheist: I don't know nuttin'.
Agnostic: I don't know nuttin', and neither do you! lololololol

Well, duh. Dodgy

Big difference seems to be that "atheism," despite the paeans of its adherents, is a positive belief along the lines of "your god can go fuck itself." Peeps that deny the atheist label are wishy-washy types that don't wanna hurt nobody's feelings. I'm not always an asshole, but mostly, your god can go fuck itself. Big Grin

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19-06-2012, 11:47 AM
RE: The God Debates
I feel as if "Agnostic" is almost a lazy term to define oneself religiously. It basically implies that you don't want to talk about any gods at all, and allows you to live as ignorant of god/religion as possible.

Also, be aware that atheist is a reference to belief in God, and has NO reference to any religion/philosophy. I'm an atheist, but if you were to ask my religion I'd probably say "free-thinker" or "secular-humanist" depending on if you were theistically religious are not.

By defining ones-self as agnostic, you are allowed free fence sitting, and also it is more acceptable to judge atheists and theists as extremists, which I find quite frankly annoying, and I will straight-out tell an agnostic that they are stupid for thinking an atheist is extreme in any form.

Basically I agree: The term agnostic is a completely useless term to anybody (but the agnostic).
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19-06-2012, 11:57 AM
RE: The God Debates
Agnostic is not a in the same category of belief. It really is not about belief. An atheist generally believes there is no God, an agnostic person believes there is no way of knowing either way.

Atheism is generally about belief, agnosticism is generally about the nature of knowledge.

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19-06-2012, 11:57 AM
RE: The God Debates
My intent was not to disparage agnostics (or compare agnosticism to atheism), but more to address the reluctance of non-believers to embrace the label of atheist -- it's as though that's seen as crossing a line people do not want to cross...

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19-06-2012, 07:39 PM (This post was last modified: 19-06-2012 07:42 PM by Ghost.)
RE: The God Debates
Hey, Seasbury.

I've always said that if the definition of Atheist is not-Theist, or someone who simply does not possess a belief in Gods, then I'm an Atheist. I don't identify with that personally, but I accept that that definition exists and that some people see me as such.

But if Atheist means someone who says, "there is no God," then I cannot be an Atheist. I have no belief in God but I have no reason to believe God doesn't exist.

The reason I identify as an Agnostic is because I believe something. I believe that if something has not been demonstrated or if it is indemonstrable, then I don't know. If there's been no ultrasound, then I don't know the gender of the baby. If I can't see the future, which I can't, then I don't know who's going to win the hockey game. If I don't know what's in the box (or more specifically, what's going on inside the box), then I don't know how Schrödinger's cat is doing. Until we go there and check, I don't know if there's life on Europa. And if there is no evidence one way or the other, I don't know if there is a God or not. In all of those cases, I neither believe nor do I dismiss any outcome because I just don't know. So I'd be guessing. That's why I'll never say, "there is no God," because I don't know. By the same token though, I'll never say, "there is a God," because I don't know. I will remain neutral until evidence for or against presents itself (which I think is impossible, but that's a separate argument).

I do agree that the definition of Atheist is confused and controversial and I believe that the definition of Agnostic stands on its own. But like Shook says, certain definitions of Atheism make Agnostic redundant. I dislike that for two reasons. 1 - I'm being told that I can't be who I think I am and 2 - I disagree with the definition of Agnostic in the definitions of Atheism that make Agnostic redundant. When they say, "I'm an Agnostic Atheist," I say, "No you ain't! Back off! Get your own sandwich!" Lol, it's like when Americans backpacking through Europe sew Canadian flag patches to their bag. Fuuuuuuuuuu Censored !

I also think that definition is a matter of power and question why anyone would want to force people to accept a given identifier when they don't want to.

Oh, and I do take personal offense when people call Agnostics lazy or, well, you know the drill. Of all the things I can be accused of in life, unwillingness to take a stand on something is not one of them. Agnosticism, for me, isn't fence sitting, it's a considered position in and of itself.

But in the end, definitions aside, I simply don't identify with Atheist. It's just not me. If someone reeeeeeeeeally wants to call me one, aside from the fact that I find it annoying, so be it. But you won't ever find me calling myself one. To abandon it in favour of Atheist is to deny my very self. Why on earth would I do that?

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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19-06-2012, 07:56 PM (This post was last modified: 20-06-2012 09:22 PM by Seasbury.)
RE: The God Debates
Matt - a big side trip here (because I have no beef with your lazy agnosticism Wink )

I've many Canadien friends - including a now deceased Warrant (Air Force) whose passing I still mourn.

Funny story - Years ago I was traveling to Ottawa and got stopped by customs - I was bringing some maps up for business and apparently that is a red flag.

Little old lady "interviewing" me at the airport asked what my business in Canada was. I told her her it was defense related business and she didn't have a need to know. She replied that I had to tell her something.

I met a Canadien Major in Canberra, even further back, that told me the Canadien military sucked so bad it couldn't take over an armed Walmart. I related the story to the lady and told her we were there to help with that. She scowled and sent me on my way.

Told the story the next day to my Canadien colleagues - after they were done laughing they told me of another Major who was returning home from a deployment in the Balkans. The Pakistani-born gentlemen at customs asked him how long he would be visiting "my country.". The Major, Canadien I should add, replied he didn't know he was in Pakistan. Apparently he was strip searched upon entry...

Love your country, even if you are polite Americans Wink. Total joke - by the way - the War Museum in Ottawa is a must visit for anyone that goes - great way to learn about the Canadien identity!

Sean

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20-06-2012, 02:14 AM
RE: The God Debates
The "I don't know" answer is easier for people to say in public around other theists because you aren't directly questioning their beliefs.

An Atheist is saying "I don't believe that." and when a theist hears those words,
they also hear "No sane person would believe that. So you think that my belief is a lie. You think I'm stupid for believing. You think I'm crazy don't you"

Saying you are an atheist is like a direct assault on the mental state of someone who believes.

Insanity - doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results
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20-06-2012, 07:03 AM
RE: The God Debates
(20-06-2012 02:14 AM)Rahn127 Wrote:  The "I don't know" answer is easier for people to say in public around other theists because you aren't directly questioning their beliefs.

An Atheist is saying "I don't believe that." and when a theist hears those words,
they also hear "No sane person would believe that. So you think that my belief is a lie. You think I'm stupid for believing. You think I'm crazy don't you"

Saying you are an atheist is like a direct assault on the mental state of someone who believes.
Rahn - So you think the reluctance is based on politeness? The desire to not offend friends? I can see an element of that in how people deal within their social networks, however, how does that apply on a forum such as this?

People, like Matt, have gone to great likes to articulate their position or self-identity label, but I'm trying to understand the mind-set of a person that says "I don't believe in god, but I wouldn't necessarily call myself an atheist."

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