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  • Wow. There are some serious misconceptions here about atheism.

    I'm an atheist, and I really want to clear up some definitions. Atheism is the lack of belief in supernatural god claims. This means that no supernatural god claims -- be they in regard to the Christian God, Jesus, Baal, Allah, Zeus, Apollo, Ra, or any of the other thousands of supernatural figures proposed throughout history -- are considered convincingly true to an atheist. An atheist is not necessarily someone who claims "there is no god/gods", an atheist just isn't currently convinced that god, gods, goddesses, etc, exist.

    If you are currently convinced that it is true that a supernatural deity or deities exist, then you are a theist.
    If you are not currently convinced that is it true that a supernatural deity or deities exist, then you are an atheist.

    That's all there is to it.

    An atheist can certainly go further if they choose, and make the claim that "gods DO NOT exist", but in doing so they would be taking the position of anti-theism, and this is not something that all (or most) atheists do. Anti-theists are a small subset of atheists and they do not represent all atheists. It's worth pointing out that an anti-theist has a burden of proof, which is to say that they are making a truth claim which would need supporting evidence in order to be rationally justified.

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    • Originally posted by ciep View Post
      An atheist is not necessarily someone who claims "there is no god/gods", an atheist just isn't currently convinced that god, gods, goddesses, etc, exist.
      That is incorrect.

      An agnostic "just isn't currently convinced that god, gods, goddesses, etc, exist."

      An atheist is quite certain that gods don't exist. That's what makes him an atheist.

      Comment


      • Has anyone ever changed their view on a sentient creator by indulging in an internet discussion?
        "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

        B*tch-lite

        Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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        • Originally posted by Lumifer View Post
          That is incorrect.

          An agnostic "just isn't currently convinced that god, gods, goddesses, etc, exist."

          An atheist is quite certain that gods don't exist. That's what makes him an atheist.
          *Sigh* I was worried this might happen. I really hate this distinction. This is basically a question of semantics, and isn't really that important -- what's actually important is what you do or not not claim, not what you call it. HOWEVER, for the fun of it I'll clarify the terms as they are generally used. To be fair, the agnosticism/atheism distinction is very wishy-washy and has been muddled since the terms started being tossed around.

          The mistake you are making is thinking that atheism and agnosticism are mutually exclusive, and so you are trying to define them as such.

          Here is how the terms are generally defined:

          An atheist is someone who is not convinced of the truth of god claims.
          An agnostic is someone who doesn't hold a position on the issue.

          If you ask someone, "do you believe in a god?" and the person replies "I don't know", then they are an agnostic. Notice though that the person is ALSO an atheist. All agnostics are atheists (because an agnostic, by definition, is not convinced that a god exists) -- but an agnostic is a specific subset of atheist, they are the ones who are uncertain about the matter. Many atheists are agnostics.

          So an atheist can basically be either agnostic or an anti-theist (an agnostic being an atheist who is not convinced of the anti-theist claim that there "is no god").

          As I've said, the term "agnostic" is a funny one, and not all that useful, so I totally understand misconceptions about it. But your assertion that "an atheist is quite certain that gods don't exist" is just plain wrong -- far too many people think that this is what atheism is. It is not.

          ***********

          Anyhow, while I do find semantics somewhat interesting, I also find them to be horribly distracting to the actual discussion -- and as a result, generally problematic. I hate when fascinating discussions become about semantics. Like I said above, what really matters is what you ACTUALLY BELIEVE (claim to be true) and what you ACTUALLY MEAN when you use these terms. Not all these silly side-tracks about labels. Oh well.

          If I were ever to discuss/debate with you I'd be more than happy to use your definitions, it really doesn't matter at all, it's just important that definitions are agreed upon beforehand so that everyone is talking about the same things.
          Last edited by ciep; 03-30-2013, 02:39 PM. Reason: Tried to make it shorter. Failed.

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          • Originally posted by JoanieL View Post
            Has anyone ever changed their view on a sentient creator by indulging in an internet discussion?
            Lol, I hope no one is aiming to change anyone else's views. I'd agree that's unlikely. I just enjoy talking about this stuff, and appreciate that there are other people out there who apparently do too!

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            • Originally posted by ciep View Post
              I really hate this distinction.
              That's a valid attitude :-) but the distinction isn't going to disappear just because you don't like it.

              Originally posted by ciep View Post
              Here is how the terms are generally defined:

              An atheist is someone who is not convinced of the truth of god claims.
              An agnostic is someone who doesn't hold a position on the issue.
              I disagree. That is NOT how these terms are generally defined.

              An atheist answers a question "Is there a god?" with "No". An agnostic answers the same question with "I don't know". These are meaningfully different answers. The fact that both of them are different from "Yes" does not make them the same.

              Originally posted by ciep View Post
              All agnostics are atheists (because an agnostic, by definition, is not convinced that a god exists) -- but an agnostic is a specific subset of atheist, they are the ones who are uncertain about the matter.
              Nope. That may be so for your definitions of atheism and agnosticism, but that is not true for how these terms are "generally defined".

              Originally posted by ciep View Post
              But your assertion that "an atheist is quite certain that gods don't exist" is just plain wrong
              LOL. Really? Let me quote at you, via Wikipedia:

              Rowe, William L. (1998). "Agnosticism". In Edward Craig. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-07310-3. "In the popular sense, an agnostic is someone who neither believes nor disbelieves in the existence of a deity or deities, whereas an atheist and a theist disbelieve and believe, respectively. In the strict sense, however, agnosticism is the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that deities do or do not exist. In so far as one holds that our beliefs are rational only if they are sufficiently supported by human reason, the person who accepts the philosophical position of agnosticism will hold that neither the belief that God exists nor the belief that God does not exist is rational."


              Originally posted by ciep View Post
              what really matters is what you ACTUALLY BELIEVE (claim to be true)
              However to communicate what you actually believe to other people necessitates common definitions and understanding of important terms. Trying to redefine them to suit one's own position is a very common tactic.

              Comment


              • Okay, I'm on my phone so I apologize for not being able to quote or post links and such, but anyway... Here's the thing, I'm not redefining anything. Likewise, neither are you. The problem is simply that we're using different definitions. This is a common problem, and it is precisely what I was referring to when I stated that I hate getting into the atheist/agnostic distinction. You pointed to a source which uses your definitions, great!... I agree that the terms are popularly used that way. Likewise, they are popularly used in the way I've described (and, ironically, I could point you right back to Wikipedia to see my exact definitions). It is unfortunate that there is this imprecision in the language surrounding this subject, but it's there. On the plus side, we've both been able to understand each other clearly and we both know what the other means -- which is better than the usual result in these discussions, so hey -- not too shabby, lol.

                Language is slippery. The dictionary does not set definitions for words, rather, it describes how they are used. Often words are used differently by different groups of people. I can tell you (for what little it may be worth) that I've read and been involved in this subject quite heavily. The definitions I gave are widely used and accepted as the appropriate ones.

                To condense my definitions:
                1. Theism - the belief in a supernatural god.
                2. Antitheism - the belief that there are no supernatural gods.
                Atheism - the rejection of #1.
                Agnosticism - the rejection of both #1 and #2.

                Note that atheism rejecting #1 is NOT the same as atheism embracing #2. That position is, by definition, antitheism.

                These definitions are very widely used in today's world. You may like your definitions better, but I want you to see they they are not the only, and very likely not the commonest usages.

                It really has been great and interesting discussing this with you by the way, thanks for indulging me!

                Comment


                • Originally posted by YogaBare View Post
                  I'm not projecting. I know a lot of atheists, and every one of them is dogmatic, and totally closed to other possibilities.

                  And as for there being no atheist organisation or movement, well.... List of secularist organizations - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
                  I didn't say there were no atheist organizations only that there is none in my life. The militant atheists you know are the most vocal ones. Then there are a lot of people like me, calmly living their lives without it being a big deal one way or the other.

                  And knowing that believing in fairy tales is not for me does not make me closed minded. What is wrong with trusting my own knowledge?

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by Lumifer View Post
                    An atheist answers a question "Is there a god?" with "No". An agnostic answers the same question with "I don't know". These are meaningfully different answers. The fact that both of them are different from "Yes" does not make them the same.
                    What is often the case is that whether a person self-identifies as an "atheist" or "agnostic" is more a matter of appearance than substance of their views. Agnostics get less hatred than atheists, and some people are not comfortable getting sucked into the debate that so often ensues when a theist finds out you're an atheist.

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                    • Originally posted by ciep View Post
                      The problem is simply that we're using different definitions. This is a common problem
                      True :-)

                      Originally posted by ciep View Post
                      Language is slippery.
                      Also true and I count this as a good thing. Makes internet discussions slippery little things, it does :-D

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                      • Originally posted by eKatherine View Post
                        What is often the case is that whether a person self-identifies as an "atheist" or "agnostic" is more a matter of appearance than substance of their views. Agnostics get less hatred than atheists, and some people are not comfortable getting sucked into the debate that so often ensues when a theist finds out you're an atheist.
                        Well, kinda. Yes, in some places being an atheist is... not socially acceptable :-/ and that influences self-identification.

                        I still think that the two answers "No" and "I don't know" are very different.

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                        • Originally posted by Lumifer View Post
                          I still think that the two answers "No" and "I don't know" are very different.
                          Agreed completely. Which is why it's probably often better to just say what we mean instead of trying to apply labels that may be taken the wrong way.

                          And +1 also to eKatherine.

                          Good stuff guys, thanks for the discussion.

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                          • If a God should turn out to exist as he is portrayed in the bible, or as the maker of the mercyless Nature, well then I must say that I am against him anyway...
                            "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident."

                            - Schopenhauer

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                            • Originally posted by Dr. Bork Bork View Post
                              IMO, grain was probably better for you back in those days than it is today. Even 200 years ago, you went out to the field, sowed your own grain, watered it, harvested it, ground it into flour, and then made awesome stuffs with it. These days they plant GMO seeds, spray chemicals all over it, harvest it, grind it into dust, and turn it into bread-like substances. Go back 2000 years, and Jesus had the really good stuff. We don't.
                              Also unleavened bread (what he probably ate and related himself to) was made differently than what we think of as bread today.
                              Yes! The book Wheat Belly talks about this. I take communion and I don't see a big deal with consuming a tiny bit of wheat once a week. It's the spiritual association with it that matters.

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                              • The biggest bummer about being an atheist is that we don't have any cool holidays. Also, I really miss stained glass, but I do get my fix occasionally by seeing any interesting Catholic churches or cathedrals in cities that I visit.
                                "Right is right, even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong, even if everyone is doing it." - St. Augustine

                                B*tch-lite

                                Who says back fat is a bad thing? Maybe on a hairy guy at the beach, but not on a crab.

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