Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
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02-10-2010, 10:09 AM
 
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
(01-10-2010 05:29 PM)gamutman Wrote:  I still have to say that agnostic is a separate thing from theism and atheism. Gnosis means knowledge. And agnostic does not know whether God does or does not exist. Atheism, on the other hand refers to belief. There are certainly different levels of belief and disbelief, but belief never achieves the quality of knowledge - although both knowledge and belief can be qualified as certain or in-certain. No matter how strong your agnosticism is - no matter how in-certain - one either has faith or does not where God is concerned. One either believes or one does not. For that reason, subtlety of definition notwithstanding, one is either a theist or an atheist. There really is no third option.

sorry to say I can't quite agree with your definitions here. Not quite right to say that gnosis means knowledge and that is the key to the understanding here. The theist believes in his God is not believing is not the same as knowing. I might believe I left my keys on the table in the study and I shall find them until I know where they are. Atheist on the other hand does not believe in God. (I think the term is strong atheist refers to one who believe there is no God which is not quite the same thing.)

now the agnostic does not know if there is a God or not and this applies to theists who only believe that there is a God and act as though the was one the do not ultimately know that they do not have sufficient evidence. Atheists, on the other hand consider the lack of evidence means there is no need to believe in a deity though, as they do not know that was not a deity, they are equally be considered agnostic.

only the strong atheist might consider himself to be as he describes himself when in fact he is no better off than an atheist as, proving the negative is not possible, he only believes there is no God -- an agnostic in fact.

On definition is fun!Big Grin
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02-10-2010, 10:20 AM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
The term agnostic was coined by Thomas Huxley because he didn't believe in God but didn't want to be identified with the atheists who he considered to be equally as dogmatic as the theists. Nonetheless, he acknowledged that he didn't believe in the theistic God. That disbelief is all that it takes to make him an atheist - no matter what he chose to call himself. I can call myself tall all day long, but I'm 5'4" and by any reasonable standard that makes me not-so-tall. So feel free to call yourself agnostic - fine - I'm agnostic too. But I don't believe in God so that makes me an atheist. If you don't believe in the God you don't know exists, you're an atheist too.
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04-10-2010, 07:32 AM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
Hey, gamutman.

Quote:No matter how strong your agnosticism is - no matter how in-certain - one either has faith or does not where God is concerned. One either believes or one does not.

It is entirely possible for the human mind to hold conflicting ideas at the same time. Sometimes this can lead to a condition known as cognitive dissonance.

More to the point for me, why is it exactly that one believes or one does not? Why? Who decided? Based on what science?

What I have tried to do here is point out a third option, beliving that God(s) simultaneously exist and do not exist. That understanding literally makes your dichotomy impossible.

Also, I'm curious about what the problem is with acknowledgeing/creating a third category?

Quote:I can call myself tall all day long, but I'm 5'4" and by any reasonable standard that makes me not-so-tall.

This, for me, is the core of the argument. You've framed the question as tall or not-tall. But that is NOT how we look at it. We say Yao Ming is tall, Wallace Shawn is short and someone around six foot is of AVERAGE height. We don't say you're either one thing and if you're not then you're not that thing, we say you are something from a range of options. So by any reasonable standard, you're not not-so-tall, you're short. As I said, if we say Atheist means simply not-something, then fine, I'm an Atheist. I'm also not-tall at 5'11. But the moment we look at either categorisation in terms of what things ARE, then Atheists are something that I am not and so are short people. I am neither Atheist nor Theist and I am neither tall nor short. I'm an Agnostic of average height.

Hey, Kikko.

Quote:It's probably impossible to ever know who first invented god (I think god was invented, what would be the other option?), but if we'd know for sure that god was made up, would that make god completely non-existant? And if god means something non-physical, does the cat thing apply to it, since it's a physical thing ('it' refers to god).

Well, technically, the other option would be that God exists and that, as the Catholics say, he revealed himself.

Well, yeah, if we know that God is fictional, then we'd know God doesn't exist. Like if we know the cat was dead before it was put into the box then suddenly that wave-packet collapses. Problem is, we don't know. And we never will.

For me, the creator of the universe must have one property. It governs the rules, it cannot be governed by them. So essentially, whether or not God is physical is moot. God cannot be measured because we use the rules of the natural universe to measure things, which is impossible when the subject does not conform to those rules. This is why, for me, God is beyond the ability of science to prove or disprove. So when I compare God to the cat I'm not saying god is the quantum position of a particle. I'm saying that something can exist and not-exist simultaneously when we don't know which is the reality and that observation makes one possibility the reality. But in the case of God, that observation is impossible.

Quote:I'd like to know with what kind of experimentation the cat thing is supported. I mean, how can somebody know that something was something else before it was observed, without obseving the something before it's observed. It's impossible to observe the something before observing it. I think I'll google it.

Quantum physicist I aint Big Grin But the book refers to the Clauser-Freedman experiment. Hope that link helps.

But to answer your questions, the idea isn't that someone can observe something before it's observed, but that observation makes one possibility reality and until that observation occurs then both realities exist simultaneously.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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04-10-2010, 07:53 AM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
Quote:It is entirely possible for the human mind to hold conflicting ideas at the same time. Sometimes this can lead to a condition known as cognitive dissonance.

I absolutely agree that forcing a third option onto the issue is cognitive dissonance. Believing in an afterlife while insisting that there is no such things as ghosts is also cognitive dissonance. Worrying about a dying parent while thinking you are going to live forever - cognitive dissonance. Another word for this is denial.

What we are talking about here is denoting. We're talking about descriptors. A thing is what it is. One may waver between belief and disbelief. That is entirely possible. But this wavering is not itself a state of belief/disbelief. If you stand at the water's edge during tide, you will sometimes be in the water - sometimes out, but there will never be a point where you are neither wet nor dry but something else.

Agnosticism is not a state of flux between atheism and theism. Agnosticism is the antithesis of gnosticism.
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04-10-2010, 08:09 AM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
I've been giving this alot of thought. The thing I'm having a hard time with is the idea that, in the example used as well as when the theory is applied elsewhere, the cat can both be alive and dead. I'm just not convinced that until it is observed, it can be both. This feels somehow arrogant to me. I think that observing ceates knowledge, not reality. When we observe the cat, we KNOW whether it's alive or dead, but I don't think that our observation makes it so. The cat is one of two options, whether we observe it or not. We just don't know until we observe it. I can't wrap my head around the idea that it's both.
Of course this isn't the only debate going on here, but I just wanted to share my thoughts on that particular theory. I may be rejecting the theory because I am not quite grasping it. That is why I am keeping an open mind about it.
As far as atheism being a dichotomy - I'm still struggling. I still find myself holding on to the idea that you can only be one or the other. Seems to me that you can be either atheist or theist, and at the same time be many other things that put a finer point on it, but you are still one or the other. Sometimes it's hard to let go of something that you have always considered a truth. Hence the struggle. I am trying to let go of this dichotomy, so I can think it through with a more open mind. I'm not yet sure if I am holding on to my ideas because I can't let them go, or if I truly think they are right.
...to be continued.

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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04-10-2010, 08:15 AM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
(04-10-2010 07:53 AM)gamutman Wrote:  I absolutely agree that forcing a third option onto the issue is cognitive dissonance. Believing in an afterlife while insisting that there is no such things as ghosts is also cognitive dissonance. Worrying about a dying parent while thinking you are going to live forever - cognitive dissonance. Another word for this is denial.

I have to strongly disagree with this one. Cognitive dissonance is most definitely not synonymous with denial. Perhaps indecision would be a little closer to accurate, but even that isn't quite right.

So many cats, so few good recipes.
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04-10-2010, 09:22 AM (This post was last modified: 04-10-2010 09:55 AM by gamutman.)
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
Schrodinger's cat is actually a metaphor for potentiality. In our reality, a cat in a box with poison in it may be alive or may be dead, and we can't know which until we open the box; so for our purposes, while the box is closed it's neither or both but not either. To the observer, the cat is only one or the other for certain when we observe it. If, when we open the box, we find a dead cat, there may be another universe - another reality - wherein a live cat was produced. Both potentialities exist so long as the box remains sealed.
Quote:I have to strongly disagree with this one. Cognitive dissonance is most definitely not synonymous with denial. Perhaps indecision would be a little closer to accurate, but even that isn't quite right.

You're right that cognitive dissonance is not synonymous with denial, but denial is a kind of cognitive dissonance or at any rate a reaction to it. Indecision is caused by dissonance; it's a result of dissonance, not a reaction to it. So because of the dissonance caused by atheistic thought conflicting with theistic desires one may become indecisive and deny that there is an indecisiveness by insisting that indecisiveness is itself a decision.

Denial is the stage of grief most closely associate with the dissonance caused by realization and desire for a different reality. It's overcome by acceptance.
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04-10-2010, 10:17 AM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
Generally speaking, Schrödinger's cat is what it is. I'm not here to debate it. I'm not actually qualified to debate it. If anyone has issue with it, speak to a physicist. As for the potentiality that you speak of, gamutman, here are two passages I omitted from the original quote.

Quote:...Similarly, the cat is neither dead nor alive until somebody looks at it.

Many quantum theorists go further. According to the Superdeterminist Interpretation of quantum mechanics, the fate of the cat has been determined since the begining of time, and nothing the scientist-observer does makes any difference, since he, too, was fated to do it...

...if he is an optimist the cat will be alive.

According to the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics, as proposed by Hugh Everett, John Wheeler and Neill Graham, at the moment the scientist comes to look the world splits into two branches, in one of which a cheerful scientist finds his cat alive, in the other of which a morose scientist is faced witha dead pet. This is not a joke: it is a serious scientific conclusion. (One of the clearest accounts of the theory is given by Bryce S. DeWitt in [i]Physics Today{/i], September 1970, in a paper entitled 'Quantum Mechanics and Reality: Could the Solution to the Dilemma of Indeterminism be a Univers in Which All Possible Outcomes of an Experiment Actually Occur?')
-Peter Nicholls, "The Science in Science Fiction," pages 100-101

All of that is to say that you are not wrong, your interpretation is valid, but that that is not the interpretation that I am using here. I am coming at this from the interpretation that until it is observed, the cat is neither alive nor dead. The simple jump I'm making from there is that God(s) neither exist nor do they not-exist. They are both, simultaneously, until observed: a situation that will remain because that observation cannot happen.

I have to agree with Stark Raving. Congnitive dissonance is not a synonymn for denial. Denying a previously held belief (like I wanted that apple but it's too high up but that's ok because I didn't really want it) is one method of reducing dissonance but it is not dissonance itself. Cognitive dissonance is simply the discomfort one feels from the conflict of opposing ideas.

Forcing a third idea is not congnitive dissonance.

All I was saying is that it is possible to hold opposing beliefs.

That being said, my beliefs aren't opposing. I have a single belief. God exists and does not exist simultaneously. That idea is not a belief in God nor is it disbelief in God. So again, if all there is is you're this or not-this, then sure, I'm an Atheist. But if a Theist believes and an Atheist disbelieves, then I fit into neither definition and therefore, by definition, I represent a third possibility.

If the only issue is being tall or not-tall, then a person of average height is not-tall. But they are also not-short. Short people are defined as something that people of average height are not. So people of average height are not-tall and they are also not-short. So they are their own thing.

To use your water analogy, if the only two options are in water and not-in-water, then sure, if you're on the shore then you're not-in-water. But what if you're flying? If you're flying you're not-in-water but you certainly aren't on land. But if the only thing of importance is in-water/not-in-water, then we have to accept that being on land and flying are the same thing. I do not accept that. Thus in water or not-in water is fine, but the moment you define what not being in water means the dichotomy is shattered.

If people don't wish to define what not-Theist means, great. That's your belief. I'm not saying that it's wrong. I am saying that it is limited and when you go one step beyond it, it fails.

Hey, Stark Raving.

Quote:I think that observing ceates knowledge, not reality.

Intuitively, I agree with you. But intuitively, 11 dimensions makes no sense to me. But it would seem that quantum mechanics diagrees with both of us.

Regardless, in the end, we're just talking about belief. Fact: I believe God(s) simultaneously exists and don't exist. Whether or not that's supported by science is besides the point. My question is, what category do I belong to? I belong to two: not-theist in one interpretation and Agnostic as differentiated from Theist and Atheist in another interpretation.

Generally speaking and this is for everyone, I'm not denying that Agnostics are Atheists if we define Atheists as not-theists. So we need not debate that point. Im just saying, if we accept that Atheism is actually a matter of disbelief, then anything that is categorised as Atheist must include that disbelief. I have provided another possibility, the simultaneous option. That cannot be considered an Atheist or a Theist belief so it has to be its own. But that's ONLY if we are thinking outside of Theist/not-Theist.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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04-10-2010, 01:06 PM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
Ultimately, we'll agree to disagree, but from my POV arguing that God(s) simultaneously exist and do not exist is sophistry.

Does Zeus simultaneously exist and not exist? Does SpongeBob? Does my imaginary friend? Is God simultaneously Islam's Allah, Judaism's Yahweh, Christianity's Jehovah and atheism's nothing?

Even in the roots of quantum mechanics, the argument fails. If our universe is one of many worlds and in some worlds God exists while in others He does not, then in the omni-verse, God exists. Consequently, even if He does not exist in this universe, He still does exist. Yet by what means does He exist? How does He reconcile the logical fallacies He represents in those universes wherein He is real?

For example, one argument against the existence of God is that He is not necessary if the universe can come to exist without Him. So if such a universe does exist wherein His existence is unnecessary, how can He overcome being unnecessary in another? Another argument against the existence of God is the problem of infinite regress. If that argument disproves Him in universe A it follows that it also disproves him in universes B thru Z and beyond.

I'm not just playing Devil's advocate here. These are legitimately problems I see in your description of your worldview.
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04-10-2010, 03:00 PM
RE: Why I am neither a Theist nor an Atheist
Hey, gamutman.

Like I said, I'm not talking about multiple universes. So while what you said is interesting, it has little to do with my world view. It is a concern of the Many-Worlds Interpretation of quantum mechanics, not of mine. More to the point, the Many-Worlds themselves only emerge AFTER observation. Since we can't observe, they won't be created. God remains both existent and non-existent, simultaneously, eternally, in THIS universe.

To call my world view sophistry is a little insulting and a lot dismissive.

Quote:Does Zeus simultaneously exist and not exist? Does SpongeBob? Does my imaginary friend? Is God simultaneously Islam's Allah, Judaism's Yahweh, Christianity's Jehovah and atheism's nothing?

Again, I don't know how to be any clearer. God(s) simultaneously exist and do not exist until such time as we "look into the box" and prove which it is but we'll never be able to look into the box so they simultaneously exist and don't exist eternally.

So yes, Zeus simultaneously exists and doesn't exist. So does Yaweh and Crow Spirit.

SpongeBob? That's just facetious. No one is claiming SpongeBob is real and even if someone was, it's demonstrable that he is an fictional, animated, transmedia character. The facts are in. Sponges don't have legs, can't speak English, don't wear pants, aren't animated and don't have central nervous systems. So SpongeBob is scientifically impossible.

Pretending that questions like 'Do Nancy Drew and Puff the Magic Dragon really exist' or 'is there a teapot in orbit of Venus' are the same as a question like 'was there an entity that created this universe and does it control phenomena' is just not very constructive.

There is a vast gulf between a question like 'did Frank eat my pizza' and 'does God exist' because science can determine whether or not Frank ate my pizza but it can't determine if God exists.

If one or more religions have it completely wrong, that doesn't mean that God is an impossibility. The point is, we don't and can't know if one or more religions have it completely wrong.

All of this being said, we're left with a simple question. Based on my stated beliefs, what category do I fall into? That's the issue here. The rest was just context.

Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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