Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
Post Reply
 
Thread Rating:
  • 0 Votes - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
27-10-2016, 05:46 PM
Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
Hello atheists, theists (are there more than two?), and others.

So, recalling the poll I set up a little while back, there was a lot of talk about semantics, mostly concerning the term "agnostic". I wanted to bring that topic back up more formally.

I've considered myself agnostic (and yes I say "consider" because that's all you can do with labels) for about a year now after 5 years of being atheist. I only bring this up to note that I am well informed in the discussion. I'll even get cocky and say I'm more informed than most Tongue, so don't think I don't know what I'm talking about. Anywho...

Since that poll, I've come to understand what made me an atheist and why I transitioned to agnostic. I was an atheist because I believed no god existed. Yahweh, Allah, any other personal god, deistic god, I was pretty sure that none of them existed. "I was pretty sure", by the way, doesn't mean I knew that they didn't exist; I was a soft agnostic atheist. However, even though I was open to the idea of being wrong, and I wasn't certain that no god existed, I still thought that none existed. It's what made the most sense. But last winter, when I came to some realizations, some of which I've described a little bit in previous posts, I could no longer say I thought that no god existed, and that drastically affected my worldview. I felt I could no longer call myself an atheist, and since I also wasn't a theist, I went with what has historical been used as the "middle-ground" position: agnostic.

So what this all means is that I've come to redefine, for myself at least, the term atheist to mean "belief that no god exists" and the simple 'agnostic' label as "lack of belief in existence and non existence of gods". Controversially, I might say that this is more accurate even in the general case of atheists, but I don't want to impose such a generalization onto other people.

The one thing I would like is for everybody to recognize that there is no strict definition of labels. I realize that there is a lot of disagreement about what it the labels mean even among everyone else in these forums. Some of you will say "Too bad, you're an atheist", some will say "Call yourself whatever you want". To the first group of people, I just want to reiterate: you're wrong. You could argue that your meaning of the label is better, but you can't simply invoke your definition as the correct one and force other people to accept.

So, what do you think? Are the meanings for my labels bad? Do you think there is an objective definition? Do you not give a rat's ass about semantics, in which case you probably should have stopped reading this after the title? Also, what about burden of proof? Doesn't that have something to do with it?

Cheers.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
27-10-2016, 06:15 PM
RE: Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
Gnostic and agnostic deal with what you claim to know. Theism and atheism deal with what you claim to believe.

If you believe god exists but you don't claim to know a god exists you are an agnostic theist. If you don't believe a god exist and you don't claim to know it doesn't exist you are an agnostic atheist.

Agnostic has only been a middle ground between theism and atheism by people who don't know what the words mean or who they relate to each other. As for burden of proof it rests with the person making the positive claim. If I say I KNOW no god exists(or if someone says they KNOW he does) I have to be able to demonstrate that because knowledge is demonstrable. I am making a claim and I have to prove that claim otherwise it's just an assertion and can be rationally dismissed as such. That is why most atheists are agnostics as well.

Take me for example: I'm in the broad sense an agnostic atheist when it comes to the idea of a god as yet undefined. I'm gnostic atheist when it comes to Christianity as I feel that, given what I know about the religions origins and that's it's claims about it's god, it's entirely rational to say that that god as presented absolutely does not and can not exist.


EDIT: On a personal note, love the avatar. Great show.

It is held that valour is the chiefest virtue and most dignifies the haver.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 3 users Like WhiskeyDebates's post
27-10-2016, 06:29 PM
RE: Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
I'm a spiritual, vegan, cultural Christian, agnostic atheist with Hindu tendencies Wink like I mentioned in your other thread.

I think WD gave a good definition, that said, I am of the belief that you can call yourself or label yourself whatever you want. However, since you are asking opinions, based on the description that you provided of yourself (and from reading your previous posts), I feel the label you decided to give yourself is an accurate and fair representation of your life philosophy.

"Let the waters settle and you will see the moon and stars mirrored in your own being." -Rumi
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes jennybee's post
27-10-2016, 10:39 PM
RE: Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
(27-10-2016 06:29 PM)jennybee Wrote:  I'm a spiritual, vegan, cultural Christian, agnostic atheist with Hindu tendencies Wink like I mentioned in your other thread.

That's quite the diverse background! Seems very down to earth Smile. And I appreciate your acceptance of my identity Thumbsup
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes unknowndevil666's post
27-10-2016, 11:05 PM (This post was last modified: 28-10-2016 04:10 AM by Velvet.)
RE: Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
Since we were talking about exactly that by private messages and you felt like making a thread to discuss I will just tell here what I told you, for the others who are reading only now, this message was originally addressed to unknown while we spoke about this labels so it might sound a bit decontextualized, we also spoke about Matt Dillahunty and his show, that's why I bring it up a couple times.

Hey Unknown, I apologize again for assuming you were a Theist without you ever saying that, I think I made that because I thought I had listened to you debating Matt on the live show at least one time, and related some of your posts with that person, and I mistook you by this guy, a particularly elaborated and reasonable apologetic who called Matt on the show a couple times, I'm also very glad that you liked our exchange, I feel the same.

Now on the topic:

I am actually very familiar with your stance because I felt the same way for a long time.

As a primarily rhetorician (or at least that's what I like to think my priority is) I`m inclined to use definitions that are related to propositions instead of philosophical stances, and it goes like that:

Proposition for Theism: God/s Exist/s.
I accept the proposition: Theist.
I reject the proposition: Atheist

Proposition for Gnosticism: I have Knowledge of God existence. (Sometimes is ''Its possible to have Knowledge of God existence'')
I accept the proposition: Gnostic
I reject the proposition: Agnostic

People can reject a proposition for a variety of reasons ofc, most say they do because the proposition failed to meet the burden of proof, due to the lack of evidence.

I think (being an agnostic) that we don't have currently (and possibly never will) ways to access or inquire the truth of this proposition, following that the only completely rational stance is to suspend judgment until this situation changes.

I also don't rule out Deistic possibilities, and agree that any universe cause derived from multiverse, or even some Deism scenarios might require less assumptions than the universe being generated out of complete nothingness, depending on your take of uncaused things like radioactive decay or quantum fluctuations being really uncaused or just having yet to be discovered natural causes, but that shouldn't make you feel uncomfortable with presenting yourself as atheist.

In the system that I and Matt use, the person that claims that god doesn't exists is presented as an Antitheist, and as with any claim, has to meet the burden of proof, and while the ''Antitheism in regard of religion X'' can be defensible (as religions provide enough internal contradictions to exploit in order to rule out one particular god) a position of Antitheism in regard to all gods is indefensible, we would need to examine and rule out all possible concepts of Theist gods that may yet come to exist.

Now, being honest to you, I think that Matt and I divert in a certain point, in the sense that he seem to me to be tempted (by his experiences and the pain that religion caused him) to be an general Antitheist; but as he can't meet his burden of proof for that stance, he withdraws from it and presents himself as an Atheist (which if I'm right would be intellectually dishonest of him, defending a position which he doesn't hold, only because the position he actually holds is vulnerable to most of the critique he makes on the Theist position) and doing so especially because that allows him to remain neutral, a way more advantageous rhetorical stance, which again, IF i'm right, would be treacherous of his part (assuming that he is aware of it).

While I remain on the the neutral stance because I did actually suspended judgment due to my lack of ways to inquire and access the truth in any reliable enough way to meet my standards of what compels me to hold a belief, I'm not particularly fond of any of the claims for existence or not-existence.

So I just went through all that (most of what you probably knew already) just to explain that under certain denominations you are an Atheist, an Agnostic-Atheist, as you are not convinced of the proposition, and doesn't claim to know if it is or if it isn't truth.

Now, aside from all that, I understand that you fell the necessity of avoiding the word ''atheist''; in my experience, most people misunderstand that you are actually neutral, they don't know dialectics, so they fail to grasp that you rejected only the positive claim without addressing the opposite one (Matt's jury example is a bit lame imo but does its job of trying to explain how this works to people who are not familiar with dialectics), also the church antagonizes atheists (not antitheists) to make everything even harder.

Sometimes I fell tempted to do the same, for those reasons I just said.

Alternatively, if you fell like stating your position on philosophical terms, to avoid having to sort misunderstandings everytime you state your position, Dawkins made a scale that its widely recognized, some do not agree but will recognize it anyways, I personally accept it as an ok enough, but I rather use my field (dialectics) and put things in perspective of propositions.

So, that was it, I hope you don't see any problem with me sharing this here Unknown, and I'm very eager to hear the opinions of everyone on the argument ''if we can say that unicorns doesn't exist we can also say that God doesn't exist'', to me, it seems to be a bit strange that we can't claim to have knowledge of the (no)existence of Yahweh while we can say we know that unicorns and fairies don't exist, I personally would put my money on unicorns over Yahweh anytime.

That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.”
-P.C. Hodgell - Seeker’s Mask - Kirien
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes Velvet's post
28-10-2016, 12:36 AM
RE: Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
(27-10-2016 11:05 PM)Velvet Wrote:  So, that was it, I hope you don't see any problem with me sharing this here Unknown, and I'm very eager to hear the opinions of everyone on the argument ''if we can say that unicorns doesn't exist we can also say that God doesn't exist'', to me, it seems to be a bit strange that we can't claim to have knowledge of the (no)existence of Yahweh while we can say we know that unicorns and fairies don't exist.

Hey there again Velvet! I figured I respond in thread as well since its here.

Honestly, I agree with like 99% of what you've said here. Even when you're talking about defining (a)theism in respect to responses to propositions, I do understand and would accept it has a possible meaning of the terms since it is well-defined. I, of course, don't think it's fully complete because I think there is extended nuance in the behavior of atheists (which I'll get into in a second) that betrays such a dichotomy.

Oh, and just to be clear, I don't have any problems at all with saying "agnostic atheist" and such. I don't think they are mutually exclusive terms, I just also think that agnostic itself can have additional meaning as an isolated label, although that may not be elegant (but then again, I think if everybody's honest with themselves, they have a fairly good idea of one's position if they label themselves "agnostic").

Now, something more meaty. I also agree with your questioning of a, let's say, "firm" atheist like Matt's stance in the "God" discussion. I do think, and I thought this towards the end of my atheism as well, that there is a dishonesty in a having a stance of, as you say, anti-theism, yet only arguing in support of atheism. It seems to avoid the burden of proof which, well, as you said is strong rhetorically. I also didn't believe the "you can't prove a negative" idea (which I bring up at the end of this post). That's why I always feel the idea of atheism actually being "belief in no gods" creep up on me.

Some last quick notes:

On the dialectics, I have an idea, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean. By "rejected only the positive claim" do you mean reject the claim no god exists without addressing whether or not a god does exist? Or maybe rejecting both which would put me in the middle?

About Matt's jury example, a lot of legal concepts like "guilty beyond a reasonable doubt" arise from ethics like not wanting to put innocent people away, which kind of harms the analogy. I like the gumball/marble analogy better.

On the Dawkins scale, I think my belief level is something of a probability cloud ranging from 3.9 to 4.1. Tongue

That last argument kind of sounds like the "you can't prove a negative" that atheists sometimes say. If that's what you're getting at, then I would say that, first of all, you can't prove anything because proof is purely logical and I don't think we can determine absolute truth. Aside from that minor semantic issue, you can pretty much prove a negative, as in, you can give substantial evidence to assert that unicorns do not exist. That means it should be possible to "pretty much prove" a god doesn't exist, granted that you define what god means. The biggest evidence you'll have against any ridiculous god they come up with, like a JuJu monster, is that they just made it up on the spot to be a smartass. Smartass
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
[+] 1 user Likes unknowndevil666's post
28-10-2016, 01:44 AM
RE: Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
At work.

Hello unknowndevil666.

Just a point of contention.

Words are elastic. The meanings/definitions/uage etc change over time. Thence why we use words 'casually', 'colloquially' and 'technically'.

So, when you say that you are happy with "Unicorns don't/won't exist" you can't actually be sure.

We might gen engineer such a creature. We mighf travel amongst the stars and come across something which mets the definition and so, human nature being what it is, we'll call that a 'Unicron'.

Sorry my time is short and I hope my meanings come across.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-10-2016, 03:22 AM
RE: Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
(28-10-2016 01:44 AM)Peebothuhul Wrote:  At work.

Hello unknowndevil666.

Just a point of contention.

Words are elastic. The meanings/definitions/uage etc change over time. Thence why we use words 'casually', 'colloquially' and 'technically'.

So, when you say that you are happy with "Unicorns don't/won't exist" you can't actually be sure.

We might gen engineer such a creature. We mighf travel amongst the stars and come across something which mets the definition and so, human nature being what it is, we'll call that a 'Unicron'.

Sorry my time is short and I hope my meanings come across.

Agree that words change over time, even modern definitions of "gnostic" and "agnostic" don't quite match how these words are being used here! What of the "demiurge"? What of the "nature" of the supreme being rather than, or as well as, its "existence"?

I remember being told that "agnostics" agreed that a deity existed but that it was impossible for man to have any knowledge of its nature. Sounded more like a kind of deism rather than theism to me but . . .

Anyway, interesting but won't get the dishes washed or the shopping done!

Tomorrow is precious, don't ruin it by fouling up today.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-10-2016, 04:01 AM (This post was last modified: 28-10-2016 04:05 AM by houseofcantor.)
RE: Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
(27-10-2016 05:46 PM)unknowndevil666 Wrote:  So what this all means is that I've come to redefine, for myself at least, the term atheist to mean "belief that no god exists" and the simple 'agnostic' label as "lack of belief in existence and non existence of gods". Controversially, I might say that this is more accurate even in the general case of atheists, but I don't want to impose such a generalization onto other people.

The first part is looking for trouble. Tongue

The second part is true in my experience, here and elsewhere the vast majority of atheists with whom I have interacted expand the eponymous to mean "agnostic atheist."

EDIT - and Velvet, your'e missing the M in your dotcom link and google thinks you're trying to steal my shit. Tongue

living word
Visit this user's website Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
28-10-2016, 05:08 AM (This post was last modified: 28-10-2016 05:30 AM by Velvet.)
RE: Theism, Agnosticism, and Atheism
(28-10-2016 12:36 AM)unknowndevil666 Wrote:  On the dialectics, I have an idea, but I'm not entirely sure what you mean. By "rejected only the positive claim" do you mean reject the claim no god exists without addressing whether or not a god does exist? Or maybe rejecting both which would put me in the middle?

On the Dawkins scale, I think my belief level is something of a probability cloud ranging from 3.9 to 4.1. Tongue

Is that they just made it up on the spot to be a smartass. Smartass

Rejecting both would make you an atheist and a "a-antitheist", agnostic still wouldn't be a complete way to sound your position as it only address knowledge [ἄγνωστος ‎ágnōstos, “ignorant, not knowing”, or ἀ- ‎(a-, “not”) + γιγνώσκω ‎(gignṓskō, “I know”), and unfortunaly we also need this word to continue to mean what Thomas Huxley meant as we have no other word for it. Consider

[Image: dawkins-scale.jpg]

But since you consider yourself on the scale as 4, I now understand what you mean and agree that "atheist" would not be a complete way to present your view neither and I think its reasonable that you fell unconfortable with it.

I say that because when I first saw this scale my eyes immediately looked to the exact middle to find where I thought I would be, and then I read "exactly equiprobable" and cringed while thinking: "not in a fucking million years I would grant Yahweh a 50%" Laugh out load

That's why I present me as "5" because although i'm even confortable in debating as an Antitheist against Yahweh, I don't feel the same in case of any Deist god.

-----------
Quote: The biggest evidence you'll have against any ridiculous god they come up with, like a JuJu monster, is that they just made it up on the spot to be a smartass.

You are wrong, your presumption that JuJu monster was "just made up" is not evidence against it, all "made up for the sake of the argument" gods have to be taken as seriously as any other claim for any god, you would not be rational to conclude a god isn't real just because he "looks very much like something that was made up on the spot to me", a claim sounding ridiculous or sounding fake cannot be used as evidence for its dismissal.

Some entity could even be having fun presenting himself as a "for the sake of the argument god" to humanity while he was the true creator of the universe all along, still seems more legit than "omnibenevolent guy who makes children with bone cancer" to me.

Gloucester Wrote:Agree that words change over time, even modern definitions of "gnostic" and "agnostic" don't quite match how these words are being used here! What of the "demiurge"? What of the "nature" of the supreme being rather than, or as well as, its "existence"?

I remember being told that "agnostics" agreed that a deity existed but that it was impossible for man to have any knowledge of its nature. Sounded more like a kind of deism rather than theism to me but . . .

Unmoved mover and demiurge are Deistic gods.

Agnosticism isn't part of Deism or Theism but they are not exclusive, agnosticism its only a stance about knowledge.

"Agnosticism is the view that the truth values of certain claims – especially metaphysical and religious claims, such as whether God, the divine, or the supernatural exist – are unknown and perhaps unknowable"
(from wikipedia, posted as informative not autorithative)

That which can be destroyed by the truth should be.”
-P.C. Hodgell - Seeker’s Mask - Kirien
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
Post Reply
Forum Jump: