Why do atheists become atheists?
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25-01-2015, 10:00 PM (This post was last modified: 25-01-2015 10:11 PM by Full Circle.)
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?
I’m back from a few days off the forum, survived sharks, let me see of I can survive this thread Big Grin

I’ve posted the Dawkins Scale twice already and someone here is not happy with it. Let’s look at the following chart then:

[Image: AgnosticvGnosticvAtheistvTheist.png]

I think this diagram is an accurate depiction of Agnostic/Gnostic Theist/Atheist

Everyone but Free and true scotsman define themselves as Agnostic atheists = “Do not believe any god exists, do not claim to know any god exists”. I fall in this category. I do not feel I am being intellectually dishonest with myself.

I understand the argument that Evidence of Absence is Evidence and maybe in the future, as I have more time to think about this, I may change my opinion. As of now I cannot, in all intellectual honesty, make a claim of knowledge regarding this point.

Perhaps this is because I feel there are limitations to what our knowledge is today and what we may discover tomorrow. As I said some pages back human knowledge throughout history is replete with having to correct strongly held assumptions when new evidence has been presented. Based on this past history I feel withholding the knowledge claim of whether a god/god-like/creator-type entity exists in the universe is the, shall I say, prudent one. I strongly suspect that an entity that fits this non-specific description does not exist since I have not seen any evidence to support such a claim. As a skeptic my position remains “show me” and until such time unrefutable evidence is presented I’ll continue to “not believe without claiming I know in absolute terms”.

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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25-01-2015, 10:03 PM
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?
(25-01-2015 09:54 PM)Free Wrote:  I never made anything up. Here is the Dawkin's Scale:

[Image: dawkins-scale.jpg]

These definitions on the Dawkins Scale are virtually universally accepted.
1. Dawkins doesn't own the definition of atheist or agnostic.

2. Nowhere on his scale does it mention the term "pure atheist".
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25-01-2015, 11:51 PM
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?
(25-01-2015 10:00 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  I understand the argument that Evidence of Absence is Evidence and maybe in the future, as I have more time to think about this, I may change my opinion.
Evidence of absence would make sense only if the absence is proof that the thing isn't true.
For example if I tell you my jar is full of marbles, you look in my jar and see that the marbles are absent then this is evidence that my jar is not full of marbles.
But if I tell you that Polar Bears live on ice continents and you search the South Pole and don't find any, this doesn't mean that you have evidence that Polar Bears don't exist. Even if you take a look at the North pole and don't find any, this does not mean that Polar bears don't exist. Perhaps you didn't look very well, perhaps the Polar bears on the North pole have died out but they now only live in zoos. It is very hard to prove that an animal has gone extinct.
The evidence of absence for gods would only apply if you knew where to look and if it was impossible for gods to exist and at the same time not be in that place that you look. The god definition, as meager as it is, doesn't posit how to look for gods. The Christian god is unobservable, so how can you find it? The Greek gods live in a cloud-palace above Mount Olympus, but if you don't find any clouds above Mount Olympus that doesn't mean that they haven't taken their cloud to Hawaii for a brief holiday.
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26-01-2015, 04:54 AM
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?
(25-01-2015 10:00 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  I’m back from a few days off the forum, survived sharks, let me see of I can survive this thread Big Grin

I’ve posted the Dawkins Scale twice already and someone here is not happy with it. Let’s look at the following chart then:

[Image: AgnosticvGnosticvAtheistvTheist.png]

I think this diagram is an accurate depiction of Agnostic/Gnostic Theist/Atheist

Everyone but Free and true scotsman define themselves as Agnostic atheists = “Do not believe any god exists, do not claim to know any god exists”. I fall in this category. I do not feel I am being intellectually dishonest with myself.

I understand the argument that Evidence of Absence is Evidence and maybe in the future, as I have more time to think about this, I may change my opinion. As of now I cannot, in all intellectual honesty, make a claim of knowledge regarding this point.

Perhaps this is because I feel there are limitations to what our knowledge is today and what we may discover tomorrow. As I said some pages back human knowledge throughout history is replete with having to correct strongly held assumptions when new evidence has been presented. Based on this past history I feel withholding the knowledge claim of whether a god/god-like/creator-type entity exists in the universe is the, shall I say, prudent one. I strongly suspect that an entity that fits this non-specific description does not exist since I have not seen any evidence to support such a claim. As a skeptic my position remains “show me” and until such time unrefutable evidence is presented I’ll continue to “not believe without claiming I know in absolute terms”.

Thanks for sharing that chart, it's made me more comfortable in using the term agnostic. My encounters with theists usually result in them TELLING me that atheism is saying GOD DOES NOT EXIST and I've always said that this was not the case. Some atheists say god does not exist but that is not atheism.

I guess I'm an agnostic atheist then.

Saints live in flames; wise men, next to them.
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26-01-2015, 06:05 AM
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?
(25-01-2015 10:00 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  Everyone but Free and true scotsman define themselves as Agnostic atheists ...

And at least me, silly person. Tongue

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26-01-2015, 06:49 AM
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?

Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.
Thomas Paine
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26-01-2015, 07:19 AM
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?
(26-01-2015 06:49 AM)bencandide Wrote:  Dear, the diagram indeed is helpful. I hope, that the sharks at last will find back to the topic of this thread. Sure, first you have to define your position, but then for me really is of interest how atheist become atheists - be it pure or agnostic.

Besides, maybe some lines from Bertrand Russell may help to define the own position - combined with your diagram.

Proof of God
Here there comes a practical question which has often troubled me. Whenever I go into a foreign country or a prison or any similar place they always ask me what is my religion. I never know whether I should say "Agnostic" or whether I should say "Atheist". It is a very difficult question and I daresay that some of you have been troubled by it. As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.
None of us would seriously consider the possibility that all the gods of homer really
exist, and yet if you were to set to work to give a logical demonstration that Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and the rest of them did not exist you would find it an awful job. You could not get such proof.
Therefore, in regard to the Olympic gods, speaking to a purely philosophical audience, I would say that I am an Agnostic. But speaking popularly, I think that all of us would say in regard to those gods that we were Atheists. In regard to the Christian God, I should, I think, take exactly the same line.

Myself, I had a vision of god, experiencing the mechanism of revelation gave me my 7. Faith based in my case, though I consider faith not to be necessary for drawing a 7 conclusion. It is not necessary to disprove the possibility of any imagined god, it is sufficient to see that every god is constructed from the tales of humans; this unstable foundation is disproof enough.

In normal operations, I'm not really anything along these lines. If some random comes up to me flapping his gums about Jesus or some such, then "atheist" is my response. Usually discussion enough.

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26-01-2015, 07:31 AM
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?
(26-01-2015 07:19 AM)houseofcantor Wrote:  
(26-01-2015 06:49 AM)bencandide Wrote:  Dear, the diagram indeed is helpful. I hope, that the sharks at last will find back to the topic of this thread. Sure, first you have to define your position, but then for me really is of interest how atheist become atheists - be it pure or agnostic.

Besides, maybe some lines from Bertrand Russell may help to define the own position - combined with your diagram.

Proof of God
Here there comes a practical question which has often troubled me. Whenever I go into a foreign country or a prison or any similar place they always ask me what is my religion. I never know whether I should say "Agnostic" or whether I should say "Atheist". It is a very difficult question and I daresay that some of you have been troubled by it. As a philosopher, if I were speaking to a purely philosophic audience I should say that I ought to describe myself as an Agnostic, because I do not think that there is a conclusive argument by which one prove that there is not a God. On the other hand, if I am to convey the right impression to the ordinary man in the street I think I ought to say that I am an Atheist, because when I say that I cannot prove that there is not a God, I ought to add equally that I cannot prove that there are not the Homeric gods.
None of us would seriously consider the possibility that all the gods of homer really
exist, and yet if you were to set to work to give a logical demonstration that Zeus, Hera, Poseidon, and the rest of them did not exist you would find it an awful job. You could not get such proof.
Therefore, in regard to the Olympic gods, speaking to a purely philosophical audience, I would say that I am an Agnostic. But speaking popularly, I think that all of us would say in regard to those gods that we were Atheists. In regard to the Christian God, I should, I think, take exactly the same line.

Myself, I had a vision of god, experiencing the mechanism of revelation gave me my 7. Faith based in my case, though I consider faith not to be necessary for drawing a 7 conclusion. It is not necessary to disprove the possibility of any imagined god, it is sufficient to see that every god is constructed from the tales of humans; this unstable foundation is disproof enough.

In normal operations, I'm not really anything along these lines. If some random comes up to me flapping his gums about Jesus or some such, then "atheist" is my response. Usually discussion enough.

Have you been brought up in a `religious environment`? What did you parents believe, and was that relevant for you and during you education?

Any system of religion that has anything in it that shocks the mind of a child, cannot be true.
Thomas Paine
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26-01-2015, 07:42 AM
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?
(26-01-2015 07:31 AM)bencandide Wrote:  Have you been brought up in a `religious environment`? What did you parents believe, and was that relevant for you and during you education?

In the sense everybody around me was some flavor of Christian. My mother was Catholic through inertia. Wasn't, however, a topic of discussion around the house. Essentially agnostic at 7, after getting ahold of a Bible. Took god to make me an atheist. Big Grin

I suppose the only relevance would be the mutual hate I share with my family. Tongue

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26-01-2015, 08:14 AM
RE: Why do atheists become atheists?
(25-01-2015 11:51 PM)Stevil Wrote:  
(25-01-2015 10:00 PM)Full Circle Wrote:  I understand the argument that Evidence of Absence is Evidence and maybe in the future, as I have more time to think about this, I may change my opinion.
Evidence of absence would make sense only if the absence is proof that the thing isn't true.
For example if I tell you my jar is full of marbles, you look in my jar and see that the marbles are absent then this is evidence that my jar is not full of marbles.
But if I tell you that Polar Bears live on ice continents and you search the South Pole and don't find any, this doesn't mean that you have evidence that Polar Bears don't exist. Even if you take a look at the North pole and don't find any, this does not mean that Polar bears don't exist. Perhaps you didn't look very well, perhaps the Polar bears on the North pole have died out but they now only live in zoos. It is very hard to prove that an animal has gone extinct.
The evidence of absence for gods would only apply if you knew where to look and if it was impossible for gods to exist and at the same time not be in that place that you look. The god definition, as meager as it is, doesn't posit how to look for gods. The Christian god is unobservable, so how can you find it? The Greek gods live in a cloud-palace above Mount Olympus, but if you don't find any clouds above Mount Olympus that doesn't mean that they haven't taken their cloud to Hawaii for a brief holiday.

Stevil, you do realize you’re preaching to the choir right?

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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