Agnosticism versus Atheism

Dante_Inferno
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Agnosticism versus Atheism

I am not a professional logician or anything but I just took a philosophy class and so I dabble in it. So I was wondering if anyone could assess the following argument. There is often a distinction between agnoticism and atheism, the former being defined as not knowing that god exists and the latter not believing that god exists. I am aware there are those that define athesim as believing there is no god. I do not see this as a logically entailed position. And for me the difference between the two definitions seems rather trivial in it's real world effects. But I might be wrong on this matter. Any way the deductive argument I formed seems to indicate that not knowing logically requires not believing. Any comments?

P1 To know that God exists is to claim that God exists

P2 To believe that God exists is to claim that God exists

P3 To not know that God exists is to not claim that God exists

P4 To not believe that God exists is to not claim that God exists

P5 If I know that God exists and I believe that God exists, I claim that God exists

P6 If I know that God exists and I do not believe that God exists, I claim and do not claim that God exists

P7 If I do not know that God exists and I do not believe that God exists, I do not claim that God exists

P8 If I do not know that God exists and I believe that God exists, I do not claim and claim that God exists

P9 I do not know that god exists

P11 Therefore I do not believe that god exists.

As you can see only P5 and P7 are logically entailed. P6 and P8 are contradictory. Thus the rational theist is required to show that they know that god exists. And the rational agnostic is required to be an atheist.


Dante_Inferno
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Correction and How do I edit comment or can I?

P11 is not a premise. It shoule be C, the conclusion.

By the way, can we edit posts and if so how do we do it?


The Doomed Soul
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post edit is down on the

post edit is down on the bottom of your posts, left corner... but thanks to an update, the original topic creating post cannot be edited by us peons

What Would Kharn Do?


Boon Docks
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fence sitters

 

   Another name for Agnostic, fence sitters, I do not like them at all.  My 2nd daughter is leaning this way, she is so politically motivated.  If she thinks that she will get a pay raise for attending her bosses church, she is there.  I hate that about her.


JillSwift
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Premises:There are far too
  • Premises:
    1. There are far too many definitions for "god" (and more being born every minute) to refute them all properly.
    2. We are not yet in possession of a complete understanding of the universe, leaving a small space for the potential of one of those many possible "gods".
    3. The evidence so far does not leave a great deal of room for god, however, and things are looking worse for god every day. The chances of there being a god, even given the amorphous definitions, are so slim as to not be much worth worrying about.
  • Conclusion:
    • I am therefore an "agnostic atheist".

 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


Dante_Inferno
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JillSwift

JillSwift wrote:

  • Premises:
    1. There are far too many definitions for "god" (and more being born every minute) to refute them all properly.
    2. We are not yet in possession of a complete understanding of the universe, leaving a small space for the potential of one of those many possible "gods".
    3. The evidence so far does not leave a great deal of room for god, however, and things are looking worse for god every day. The chances of there being a god, even given the amorphous definitions, are so slim as to not be much worth worrying about.
  • Conclusion:
    • I am therefore an "agnostic atheist".

 

I do not completely agree with premise 3. There is no way of knowing the probability of god sinse god is unknown. If we knew the probability of god then we would have establised that god has at least one property and is therefore is known. There is just no way of knowing the probability of an unknown phenomenon. I do not like when atheists use the improbability of god argument because the reverse argument is constantly being used by creationists who say that the probability of evolution is so low that it can be considered to be equal to impossibility, even though they cannot tell us what the measure of this low probability is.

I do wish that atheists would give up the strong atheist argument. I believe it to be a logically weak argument and also not necessary. Not knowing that god exists is equivalent to saying that god does not exist in a form that we have knowldege of. Operationally that is as strong a statement as God does not exist.


Presuppositionalist
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Quote:I am not a

Quote:
I am not a professional logician or anything but I just took a philosophy class and so I dabble in it. So I was wondering if anyone could assess the following argument. There is often a distinction between agnoticism and atheism, the former being defined as not knowing that god exists and the latter not believing that god exists. I am aware there are those that define athesim as believing there is no god. I do not see this as a logically entailed position. And for me the difference between the two definitions seems rather trivial in it's real world effects. But I might be wrong on this matter. Any way the deductive argument I formed seems to indicate that not knowing logically requires not believing. Any comments?

I probably know more about this than the other people here, so I will give it a shot. I think your problem is in P1 and P2. The phrase "is to claim" is very vague, but that's okay because there are only two ways to translate the argument:

Possibility One

1. K <=> C

2. B <=> C

Possibility Two

1. K => C

2. B => C

Both interpretations fail. Possibility One fails because it implies that knowledge and belief are identical, which is false. Possibility Two doesn't fail right away but still ruins your argument because it leaves you with:

1. K => C

3. Therefore, ~K => ~C

Which is fallacious.

 

Also, as an aside, you should as an atheist deny P3 anyway. I claim God exists, so I know God exists by the following deduction:

1. ~K => ~C (Your P3)

2. C

3. Therefore, K

Q: Why didn't you address (post x) that I made in response to you nine minutes ago???

A: Because I have (a) a job, (b) familial obligations, (c) social obligations, and (d) probably a lot of other atheists responded to the same post you did, since I am practically the token Christian on this site now. Be patient, please.


JillSwift
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Dante_Inferno wrote:I do not

Dante_Inferno wrote:
I do not completely agree with premise 3. There is no way of knowing the probability of god sinse god is unknown. If we knew the probability of god then we would have establised that god has at least one property and is therefore is known. There is just no way of knowing the probability of an unknown phenomenon. I do not like when atheists use the improbability of god argument because the reverse argument is constantly being used by creationists who say that the probability of evolution is so low that it can be considered to be equal to impossibility, even though they cannot tell us what the measure of this low probability is.
Hmm. You're right, premise 3 sucks. Let's try this:

  • Premises:
    1. My default position is to not bother to believe in anything that does not have some credible, empirical evidence for it.
    2. There are far too many definitions for "god" (and more being born every minute) to refute them all properly.
    3. We are not yet in possession of a complete understanding of the universe, leaving a small space for the potential of one of those many possible "gods".
    4. There is currently no empirical evidence for any of the definitions of god that I am aware of.
  • Conclusion:
    • I am therefore an "agnostic atheist".

 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


Balrogoz
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P > S

 Dante,

It's an interesting attempt.  What you are using is called sentential logic (almost) and that's not a very good system for what you are trying to say, I would recommend predicate logic.  That way you avoid playing word games as evidenced in a prior comment.

You're use of 'believe' and 'know' implies an identity between them (only because in this instance they can be said to have the same exact qualities and none different).  That is reason enough to reject the argument outright, since there are plenty of claims where knowledge and belief can be at odds without being internally contradictory, assuming that knowledge entails certainty.  (e.g. the existence of me as a entity.  You believe I exist, but do not know).  

 

(x)[Ax > Bx]  For every claim, if knowledge is claimed, belief is implied

(x)[Bx & ~Ax] There is a claim for which there is belief without knowledge

 

Not really sure where to go from there.  That’s just a simple statement of fact, but at least you have a starting place.

 

If I have gained anything by damning myself, it is that I no longer have anything to fear. - JP Sartre


jcgadfly
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Presuppositionalist

Presuppositionalist wrote:

Quote:
I am not a professional logician or anything but I just took a philosophy class and so I dabble in it. So I was wondering if anyone could assess the following argument. There is often a distinction between agnoticism and atheism, the former being defined as not knowing that god exists and the latter not believing that god exists. I am aware there are those that define athesim as believing there is no god. I do not see this as a logically entailed position. And for me the difference between the two definitions seems rather trivial in it's real world effects. But I might be wrong on this matter. Any way the deductive argument I formed seems to indicate that not knowing logically requires not believing. Any comments?

I probably know more about this than the other people here, so I will give it a shot. I think your problem is in P1 and P2. The phrase "is to claim" is very vague, but that's okay because there are only two ways to translate the argument:

Possibility One

1. K <=> C

2. B <=> C

Possibility Two

1. K => C

2. B => C

Both interpretations fail. Possibility One fails because it implies that knowledge and belief are identical, which is false. Possibility Two doesn't fail right away but still ruins your argument because it leaves you with:

1. K => C

3. Therefore, ~K => ~C

Which is fallacious.

 

Also, as an aside, you should as an atheist deny P3 anyway. I claim God exists, so I know God exists by the following deduction:

1. ~K => ~C (Your P3)

2. C

3. Therefore, K

then again Presup:

If you knew that God existed, you'd have evidence.

1. K=>E

You have not provided this evidence.

2. ~E

Therefore, you don't know that God exists.

2. ~K

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


Dante_Inferno
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Thanks for comments

Thank you all for the comments. Obviously I will have to take a hard look at my argument. Shows how important it is to use logical notation instead of natural language. Have not gotten there yet.

By the way what would be your suggestions for an introduction to logic book? One that is really thorough and a novice can learn from.


MattShizzle
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You might want to check out

You might want to check out the "am I agnostic or atheist" link on the left hand side of the page. There are good logic books on amazon - a better source might be at the bookstore at a local college - the intro to logic one. I wasn't interested until (lucky for me) my first semester in college I was assigned the intro to logic class. I wound up minoring in Philosophy.

Matt Shizzle has been banned from the Rational Response Squad website. This event shall provide an atmosphere more conducive to social growth. - Majority of the mod team


BobSpence
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"Knowledge" is still

"Knowledge" is still ultimately "belief", just with very strong justification, at least from the that person's point of view.

Shouldn't really use the term "knowledge" in a rigorous argument, because calling something "knowledge" is just begging the question of whether it is a 'justified' belief, which is a matter of opinion. All we have are beliefs, held with varying degrees of strength, as well as differing degrees of general acceptance and external solid evidence, Beliefs that would be very hard to deny, like that I am sitting in front of my computer at the moment, we feel we can safely call knowledge, even thow there is a finite chance I could be imagining it.

So we have to have ways of assigning very broad relative probabilities to propositions that we have little or no hard evidence for or against. Otherwise Russell's famous orbitting teapot is just as 'possible' as any other idea that is not logically imposssible, which is clearly wrong in every practical sense.

This is where ideas like Occam's Razor and, more technically, Bayesian analysis, are useful, to allow us to assign likelihoods to propositions on the basis of assessing the relative probability of various aspects of the proposition. These tools really only help us put propositions on a scale from almost certainly true to extremely unlikely, but particularly with Bayesian ideas, helps us sort them in consistent way. For example, if one idea involves some aspect, say "omnipotence" which we find of very low plausibility, then any other proposition incorporating that idea should be discounted to the same degree, and so on for any other detail of a proposition.

Note that these are the sorts of tools we need to apply to such arguments, where simple true/ false logic fails to capture the subtleties of the discusssion.

Logic is essential, but massively insufficient, for understanding reality.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

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Balrogoz
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 This is the book I used in

 This is the book I used in my first class:

 

http://www.overstock.com/Books-Movies-Music-Games/The-Logic-Book/2582862/product.html?cid=123620&fp=F&ci_src=14110944&ci_sku=10792...

 

But whatever you do, don't pay a hundred dollars for it.

 

To broaden Bob's warning of the term 'knowledge' I would be very wary of using the term in a logical argument without defining the crap out of it yourself first.  As there is no really good working definition in philosophy right now.

If I have gained anything by damning myself, it is that I no longer have anything to fear. - JP Sartre