The Agnostic Fallacy

Freethinkaluva
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The Agnostic Fallacy

The Agnostic Fallacy

I'm sure many of you have seen this before. I share it here so that it may be passed on. I can appreciate agnosticism in the sense that it is a safe place to hang out for all the time one needs before they make a decisive decision. And to get over the fear & discrimination tied into being Atheist. The info below comes from the link at the bottom:

All theistic arguments have failed - when one is willing to accept this fact, then one realizes that Atheism is the most rational position.

The modern definition of agnosticism turns around a lack of knowledge about the god question. The word a-gnosticism itself means not-knowing, just like a-theism means not-belief in god.

Agnosticism is mostly considered a vague middle ground in the debate surrounding the god question. Some people see it as the most rational alternative, given the sheer weight of debate going on from both theists and atheists.

If we examine the agnostic premise, we find that it is quite unreasonable. Agnosticism is based on the notion that we can have no knowledge on the god question. But for this to be true, the agnostic must know all possible arguments of atheism and theism, since he discards them all out of hand. If any single argument is valid, then agnosticism must crumble. Many such arguments are available in the atheist literature, and it is disingenuous to deny them.

Furthermore, the lack of knowledge inherent in agnosticism is self-contradictory. If we know nothing about the god-concept, then we cannot claim it exists, or discuss it rationally.

If we claim not to know anything about the concept, then we still know something about it : that it is beyond human understanding, and rational discussion. Therefore agnosticism is contradictory, and must inevitably lead to strong-atheism.

Furthermore, agnosticism must be self-contradictory, as identity is necessary for anything to exist, and there is no such thing as an undefined object. Whatever exists in reality has attributes. If we admit that we have no knowledge about the god-concept, including how to define it, then it cannot exist. Thus assuming agnosticism is true leads to a contradiction.

Agnostics have to answer the following question, if their position is to make any sense at all :

How can you presume that "god" has some possible meaning if you have no knowledge about "god" ?

"I think it's important to realize that when two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong" ~ Richard Dawkins' Evolution"

http://www.objectivethought.com/atheism/agnostic.html

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"All the gods of the Greek and Roman mythology represent the attributes of the one supreme divine power - the SUN."
~ Macrobius 400ce "Suns of God" 67-68
http://www.truthbeknown.com/sunsofgod.htm


todangst
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Quote: If we examine the

Quote:
If we examine the agnostic premise, we find that it is quite unreasonable. Agnosticism is based on the notion that we can have no knowledge on the god question. But for this to be true, the agnostic must know all possible arguments of atheism and theism, since he discards them all out of hand. If any single argument is valid, then agnosticism must crumble.

Actually, I don't think that is true. If the agnostic begins with a definition of 'supernatural' that decrees that the supernatural is beyond our ken (and logically, I can't see how it can be otherwise), then it necessarily follows that 'anything' supernatural must be unknowable. So agnosticism does not need to start with an inductive premise, it can begin with a deductive premise. Deductive premises do not require inductive validation, and such statements can be universally true. (or false).

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Furthermore, the lack of knowledge inherent in agnosticism is self-contradictory. If we know nothing about the god-concept, then we cannot claim it exists, or discuss it rationally.

True, but this does not make agnosticism self contradictory.
Actually, it's the very opposite of self contradictory, it's necessarily true that if something is beyond nature that we cannot say anything natural about it. Negative theologians have no problem admitting that the 'object' of their belief is beyond their ken.

This is precisely whey theologians like Kierkegaard insist that god claims must be taken upon a leap of faith. And in a sense, I agree... you can't believe in god rationally.

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If we claim not to know anything about the concept, then we still know something about it : that it is beyond human understanding, and rational discussion.

No. This is a common error. If 'something' is defined as beyond our understanding, then it only follows from this definition that we cannot know anything about "it'. All we are saying is that we cannot know anything about it. This is negative information, not positive information. It does not provide you with any positive information about the 'entity'.

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Therefore agnosticism is contradictory, and must inevitably lead to strong-atheism.

Another common misunderstanding. Actually, it must lead to non cognitivism. Which means that we cannot know if there is a god, nor can we know anything about a god. Our inability to know something does not lead to strong atheism, it leads us only to an epistemological statement: we cannot know anything about 'entities' that we define from the get go as 'beyond nature.'

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Furthermore, agnosticism must be self-contradictory, as identity is necessary for anything to exist, and there is no such thing as an undefined object.

It is literally true that there is no such THING as a thing without attributes. That's tautologous. To exist is to exist as something. I agree with you.

But this pertains to natural entities. The theologian tells us that his 'god' is beyond nature. A a negative theologian would agree with you that we cannot speak about a 'god'... but still hold to his belief on faith.

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Whatever exists in reality has attributes.

I agree, but the negative theologians holds that his 'god' is beyond reality and beyond attributes.

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If we admit that we have no knowledge about the god-concept, including how to define it, then it cannot exist.

As we understand anything, yes. As a natural entity, yes. But the negative theologian already agrees from the outset that his 'god' is beyond existence itself.

Quote:

Agnostics have to answer the following question, if their position is to make any sense at all :

How can you presume that "god" has some possible meaning if you have no knowledge about "god" ?

Negative theologians need to answer this question. And I agree with you here.

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Actually it's already listed

Actually it's already listed here as an "irrational precept" the idea that agnosticism is somehow a middle ground between atheism and theism. I personally feel most people who call themselves agnostics are simply afraid of the big bad "A word." Either they've learned atheists were bad their whole life, or they're afraid what others might think.

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MattShizzle wrote:Actually

MattShizzle wrote:
Actually it's already listed here as an "irrational precept" the idea that agnosticism is somehow a middle ground between atheism and theism. I personally feel most people who call themselves agnostics are simply afraid of the big bad "A word." Either they've learned atheists were bad their whole life, or they're afraid what others might think.

When people say that they are 'agnostics' they mean that they are weak atheists. That's all. So in one sense, they are a 'middle ground' in that they do not hold to strong atheism.

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

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Freethinkaluva
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Thanks for that reply to the

Thanks for that reply to the O.P. todangst. I don't have time to respond to it right now so I'll just make a comment on what MattShizzle said. I tend to agree with him. There's ample evidence that folks discriminate against atheists so not being open about being an athiest is perfectly understandable. I can share my atheism with some folks & yet not others within my own family. You probably remember the recent "Study: Atheists Most Discriminated Minority".

Also, I define the 'proper' definition for atheist as an absence of belief in gods - which is of course the weak or negative definition. Agnostic to me is best defined as noncommittal &/or unknowable.

More from that article:

To claim that "gods could exist" is possible, one must attribute some meaning to "god" in order for this proposition to be meaningful. To say that "gods cannot exist", from this semantic viewpoint, is to say that there can be no referent to "god", because the word "god" is meaningless.

But the agnostic has no knowledge about "god" from which he can attribute it meaning. Therefore agnosticism contradicts itself on this crucial issue.

A number of arguments can be proposed in favour of agnosticism. I will now examine the most important arguments.

* Argument from the limits of human reason

Based on Huxley's equivocation between a judicious use of reason and agnosticism, some thinkers have proposed that atheism oversteps the boundaries of human reason. I have already pointed out that this is unreasonable. If it is true that human reason cannot discuss theology, then the atheist arguments must be shown to be invalid. It is not sufficient to simply declare it without evidence.

* Post-modernist argument

A more fundamental argument can be built on the grounds of post-modernism. According to this school of thought, all of our positions and beliefs are determined not by truth, but by our upbringing and social context. Children raised from Christian parents will be naturally biased to become Christians. Children raised from atheist parents will be naturally biased to become atheists. Only agnosticism escapes this bias, by stepping outside of positive positions and claiming moderation.

However, this argument not only suffers from the same flaw than the previous argument, in that it is not sufficient to claim that atheism is biased but it must also be proven, but it is also open to the standard refutation of post-modernism. Being a positive position, post-modernism itself is also subject to upbringing and social context, and therefore must be rejected out of hand, if we follow the argument.

* Antirealist attack

An even more fundamental argument has been recently elaborated by agnostic Bill Schultz. In his article "A Formal Justification of Agnosticism", he proposes that agnosticism is valid because logic is invalid in cases where we do not observe facts of reality directly. Since we cannot observe gods directly, we cannot make any knowledge claim about the god question.

Unfortunately, the fundamental nature of this argument means that it is extremely vulnerable to the flaws exposed above. First of all, it is not sufficient to claim that logic is invalid in cases where we do not observe facts of reality directly. This claim must be proven. There is no functional difference between facts of reality that we observe directly and those we observe indirectly : in both cases we must use logic in some form and to some extent.

Secondly, if logic is not applicable to cases where we do not observe facts of reality directly, then this also applies to the truth or falsity of agnosticism, which is not observable directly. Following this argument, all we can do is say that agnosticism is untenable.

Finally, if the god question is special because its object is not observed directly, then this also applies to any other absurd entity. We do not observe Santa Claus, unicorns, giant space waffles, or angels directly. The antirealist attack would have us suspend judgment on all these entities also. But this is an absurd position.

http://www.objectivethought.com/atheism/agnostic.html

;

"All the gods of the Greek and Roman mythology represent the attributes of the one supreme divine power - the SUN."
~ Macrobius 400ce "Suns of God" 67-68
http://www.truthbeknown.com/sunsofgod.htm


todangst
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Freethinkaluva wrote:Thanks

Freethinkaluva wrote:
Thanks for that reply to the O.P. todangst. I don't have time to respond to it right now so I'll just make a comment on what MattShizzle said.

That's cool. Despite all the apparent disagreement, I believe that we will actually end up agreeing with each other concerning the key points you wish to make.

Quote:

Also, I define the 'proper' definition for atheist as an absence of belief in gods - which is of course the weak or negative definition. Agnostic to me is best defined as noncommittal &/or unknowable.

To hold that a supernatural claim is ultimately unknowable is rational, as it logically flows from the proper definition of supernatural - beyond nature.

Agnosticism is properly understood as an epistemological position, and not a position on belief. To use the term properly is to hold that one cannot have knowledge of anything beyond nature.

"Agnosticism' as commonly misunderstood by laymen refers to weak atheism.... i.e. a lack of belief in theism.

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To claim that "gods could exist" is possible, one must attribute some meaning to "god" in order for this proposition to be meaningful.

I agree with you. But so do many theologians, who continue to hold to god beliefs:

"One should not say that God exists in the usual sense of the term; nor should we say that God is nonexistent.We can only say that neither existence nor nonexistence applies to God, or that God is beyond existing or not existing."

Quote:

To say that "gods cannot exist", from this semantic viewpoint, is to say that there can be no referent to "god", because the word "god" is meaningless.

And this leads us to non cognitivism... i.e., god claims are necessarily meaningless. But this fact that 'god' claims are meaningless does not provide a basis for strong atheism.

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But the agnostic has no knowledge about "god" from which he can attribute it meaning. Therefore agnosticism contradicts itself on this crucial issue.

Agnosticism is not a contradictory position. There is no contradiction in holding that one cannot know about something that is defined as beyond knowledge!

And again, negative theologians have been speaking of 'god' in this fashion for 2 thousand years.

"God's existence is absolute and it includes no composition and we comprehend only the fact that He exists, not His essence. Consequently it is a false assumption to hold that He has any positive attribute... still less has He accidents, which could be described by an attribute. Hence it is clear that He has no positive attribute whatever. The negative attributes are necessary to direct the mind to the truths which we must believe... When we say of this being, that it exists, we mean that its non-existence is impossible; it is living - it is not dead; ...it is the first - its existence is not due to any cause; it has power, wisdom, and will - it is not feeble or ignorant; He is One - there are not more Gods than one… Every attribute predicated of God denotes either the quality of an action, or, when the attribute is intended to convey some idea of the Divine Being itself - and not of His actions - the negation of the opposite." (Maimonides Guide to the Perplexed, 1:5)

St. Augustine wrote:
What then, brethren, shall we say of God? For if thou hast been able to understand what thou wouldest say, it is not God. If thou hast been able to comprehend it, thou hast comprehended something else instead of God. If thou hast been able to comprehend him as thou thinkest, by so thinking thou hast deceived thyself. This then is not God, if thou hast comprehended it; but if this be God, thou has not comprehended it.

Gregory of Nyssa wrote:
‘Since Moses was alone, by having been stripped as it were of the people’s fear, he boldly approached the very darkness itself and entered the invisible things where he was no longer seen by those watching. After he entered the inner sanctuary of the divine mystical doctrine, there, while not being seen, he was in company with the Invisible. He teaches, I think, by the things he did that the one who is going to associate intimately with God must go beyond all that is visible and—lifting up his own mind, as to a mountaintop, to the invisible and incomprehensible—believe that the divine is there where the understanding does not reach.’

—Gregory of Nyssa

Life of Moses, §46

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todangst wrote: When people

todangst wrote:

When people say that they are 'agnostics' they mean that they are weak atheists. That's all. So in one sense, they are a 'middle ground' in that they do not hold to strong atheism.

Nice of you to speak for all those who call themselves "agnostic", tod.

What kind of a reaction do you think I'd get were I to make the claim; "All atheists have a positive belief that God does not exist"?

It's very possible to not know, tod, that's what's usually meant by the word, "agnostic".


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Trout wrote:todangst

Trout wrote:
todangst wrote:

When people say that they are 'agnostics' they mean that they are weak atheists. That's all. So in one sense, they are a 'middle ground' in that they do not hold to strong atheism.

Nice of you to speak for all those who call themselves "agnostic", tod.


Nice of you to mischaracterize the situation based on your petty hatreds.

I'm not speaking for everyone who calls themself agnostic. Essentially, I'm showing that a person who calls himself 'agnostic' actually is taking a weak atheist stance. So it's really a semantic point, that agnosticism, in the laymen sense, equates with weak atheism

Seriously, what else do you think they mean when they say that they 'don't know if there is a god'? How can you 'not know' and believe at the same time?

See the problem?

The only way to settle the confusion is to clarify agnosticism as an epistemological position, and not a 'belief' position. This means that 'agnosticism', as the term is used by laymen, actually equates with weak atheism. So this is not an attempt to straight jacket people, or 'speak for them', but instead, to demonstrate what a person actually implies when they say that they are 'agnostic'... it would seem to imply that they are actually weak atheists - i.e. they don't hold to god belief, yet they remain open, unsure, about the matter. This is weak atheism.

Quote:

What kind of a reaction do you think I'd get were I to make the claim; "All atheists have a positive belief that God does not exist"?

The reaction? Your error would be corrected. Most likely, without any snide, rude or obnoxious comments, or with the assumption that there is some negative intent.

Quote:

It's very possible to not know, tod, that's what's usually meant by the word, "agnostic".

Actually, it depends on what they mean then by 'not knowing'. There's two ways that the phrase 'not knowing' might be used/misued.

If they are saying that god knowledge is not possible, then they are making an epistemological statement, not a 'belief statement'. This sort of "not knowing" doesn't refer to whether they believe or not, after all, it is possible to be an agnostic theist.

But 'agnosticis' in the second sense are not claiming to be theists who believe despite accepting that evidence is impossible... right? I mean, you see that, right? They are in fact holding that they 'don't know' whether there is a god... i.e. they don't hold to a positive belief that there is a god..... They are not theists.

So, if they are holding to 'agnosticism' as if it were a position on belief - some sort of 'middle ground' between active acceptance of theism and active rejection of theism, then it's pretty clear that such a position jibes with weak atheism. Do you see it now?

No? Didn't think so.

Anyway, my points here are not an attempt to straight jacket people (as you maliciously insist), but instead, merely point out that logically the term 'agnosticsm', when used to refer to a lack of a positive belief or disbelief, equates with weak atheism. Afer all, one cannot 'not know' about 'god' and believe there is a god at the same time, unless agnosticism is in fact an epistemological position!

Do you see? Or will you just continue to frame it as some sort of attack on people, to advance some petty hatred on your part?

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darth_josh
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Why oh why? Why is this

Why oh why?
Why is this considered to be a good topic to jump onto the site with a first post in so often?

There are so many other things that really haven't been touched upon by the fresh faces on the site.

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Actually, everyone is an

Actually, everyone is an agnostic. No one "knows" anything about god(s). Having a personal experience and or accecpting the word of some authority is not a valid form of "knowledge". There are many people that believe and have faith, but none of them "know" anything about god(s). Therefore a believer is actually a theistic agnostic.

Many people use the term "Agnostic" incorrectly to mean one of two things: they are uncertain or they are actually an atheist but don't want to think of themselves as one of those "immoral" or socially unaccecptable people.

Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful. - Seneca


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darth_josh wrote:Why oh

darth_josh wrote:
Why oh why?
Why is this considered to be a good topic to jump onto the site with a first post in so often?

Becuase it's the easiest to set up questions in the middle and not recieve questions in return.

darth_josh wrote:
There are so many other things that really haven't been touched upon by the fresh faces on the site.

I doubt trout would want to debate.
Oh well, at least he's not jackrabbit, JR was a bigot.

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Randalllord wrote:Actually,

Randalllord wrote:
Actually, everyone is an agnostic. No one "knows" anything about god(s). Having a personal experience and or accepting the word of some authority is not a valid form of "knowledge".

I agree with you, however there are claims to gnosticism, hence we have the two terms... gnostic, agnostic. Unfortunately, most people who use the term 'agnostic' mean something else entirely, as you are about to note:

Quote:

There are many people that believe and have faith, but none of them "know" anything about god(s). Therefore a believer is actually a theistic agnostic.

Again, agreed, which is why those who claim to hold to a middle ground are actually weak atheists - the term 'agnostic' in this second sense refers to someone who is neither a theist nor a strong atheist... they have 'doubts'... and they identify themselves first and foremost as doubters (not doubting theists). They are 'unsure' on the 'god' question'... and this is how they identify themselves... Which means that they are not theists.

But they are not strong atheists either...... so this leaves weak atheism.

This is not 'speaking for people' nor is it denying their status as 'doubters'... it is merely pointing out that the position of doubt already has a term - weak atheism. Nothing at all changes actually if we substitute one term for a more correct term..... the only resistance to using the term stems from ignorance of what weak atheism actually entails... people avoid the term simply because they are not sure what the term actually means.

Quote:

Many people use the term "Agnostic" inc correctly to mean one of two things: they are uncertain or they are actually an atheist but don't want to think of themselves as one of those "immoral" or socially unaccecptable people.

To be "uncertain' is not to be a theist, ergo they are 'weak atheists'..... they may be theists tomorrow, but at the present, in their uncertain state, they are not actively theists..... One can hold to a belief with varying states of certainty, but once one declares that they are in 'doubt' about the belief, and uses this 'doubt' to describe their current status (as opposed to using their 'belief' (theism) and then attaching a wavering degree of acceptance to their belief) then they are functionally a weak atheist. To be a doubter on the question of religion, first and foremost, is not to be a theist.

And yes, the reason why this seems so contentuous is that the term 'atheist' appears to possess negative connotations in our society... people presume the term carries either a 'level of certainty' that they do not hold to (strong atheism) or that it entails some sort of negative moral connotation.....

Again, I write on this in more detail here:

http://www.rationalresponders.com/am_i_agnostic_or_atheist

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I have known people who

I have known people who claim to be agnostic, but when I ask for more information, they fit the definition of weak atheism.
They say "I don't know, there could be something."
Kat: "Well, do you think there is?"
Them: "No, not really." Sticking out tongue
At that point I'm usually, "Well, then you're an atheist too."

I have known christians who say that they doubt sometimes if not most of the time. But they never identify as agnostic...... They identify as Christians who are struggling. It's an obstacle to be overcome with faith for them.

Mostly I meet people identifying as agnostic who claim they do not know WHAT is out there, only that a higher power exists. That they are "sure" of this higher power, but they're unsure of it's form.
To me, this smacks of theism...... Being "certain" that a higher power type entity exists. Are these people technically theists? I kind of tend to think that.

There definately seems a tendency to lean one way or another. As far as calling agnosticism a middle ground, it seems like a more centre position in the spectrum of belief vs. non-belief. But there's still a dividing line there right in the middle. You're either an agnostic that doesn't think there is a god, but you aren't POSITIVE(atheist), or you're an agnostic who believes there is SOMETHING but you don't know what(theist). I used to know a guy who called himself a militant agnostic. "I don't know, and neither do you."
It always made me laugh, but after SO MANY discussions about agnosticism in here, it seems less amusing. Laughing out loud

I found an interesting site that is somewhat relevant..... Some of you are probably aware of it.... "The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic"

"I am personally agnostic, thus I feel that God is unknowable and inexpressible if he is indeed knowable"

"Another reason for my agnosticism is the fact that if an atheist exists and a theologian exists and take the negation of the other, which one is right? Some christians say that their religion is the only religion and that it is right, but then we have the atheist who says no God exists. Since both can't be correct, one must be correct. Which One? That is why I think it ignorant and close-minded to take one side over the other. I think that both give our minds too much credit! It IS unknowable!!!"

"However I also take into consideration the fact that it is very probable that God does exists. Again, I would like to state that God is a fun and enduring thing to think about, and even more complicated to arrive at a solid argument for either side and I have not found one."


todangst
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GlamourKat wrote:I have

GlamourKat wrote:
I have known people who claim to be agnostic, but when I ask for more information, they fit the definition of weak atheism.
They say "I don't know, there could be something."
Kat: "Well, do you think there is?"
Them: "No, not really." Sticking out tongue
At that point I'm usually, "Well, then you're an atheist too."

Yes, and that is the only point I am making here... .these people want a middle ground between theism and strong atheism, so they call themselves 'agnostics' in order to identify themselves as doubters... but everything they intend to say when they identify themselves in this fashion actually fits under the rubric of weak atheism.

Quote:

I have known christians who say that they doubt sometimes if not most of the time. But they never identify as agnostic...... They identify as Christians who are struggling. It's an obstacle to be overcome with faith for them.

Precisely.

Quote:

Mostly I meet people identifying as agnostic who claim they do not know WHAT is out there, only that a higher power exists. That they are "sure" of this higher power, but they're unsure of it's form.
To me, this smacks of theism...... Being "certain" that a higher power type entity exists. Are these people technically theists? I kind of tend to think that.

Well, if they identify themselves as a believer in a higher power, then yes, they are theists of some sort (if not pantheists). I think here what they wish to say is that while they are believers in a god, they are not believers in the strict tenets of christianity or judaism or islam.... so to them, the important factor is a rejection of standard religions and preference for a personal one of some sort....

Again, in most cases we can identify whether or not there is a belief.... or a current lack thereof... and therefore we can talk in terms of theism or weak atheism. What matters is how one wishes to identify themselves, and those who seek to identify as doubters are actually expressing a form of weak atheism... Again, it's not 'speaking for them' as one person claimed, it is simply using a more accurate term to denote their position as a doubter.

Quote:

There definately seems a tendency to lean one way or another.

Yes, and of course, this belief can fluctuate over time.. but at any particular time, it's not all that difficult to be able to determine if you are an active theist or not... if you are unsure about your status, then you can hardly call yourself a theist.... and as it's a mistake to hold that 'atheism' represents the 'opposite' position, when in fact only strong atheism represents the opposing view, this leaves weak atheism as the middle position.

Quote:

As far as calling agnosticism a middle ground, it seems like a more centre position in the spectrum of belief vs. non-belief.

Well, the idea that you can 'not believe' and 'not disbelieve' at the same time is dubious.... to "not disbelieve' entails believing!

So this 'middle ground' would actually entail weak atheism.... all weak atheism implies is that you are not an active theist... that's all. People should think of it as a default position....

Quote:

But there's still a dividing line there right in the middle. You're either an agnostic that doesn't think there is a god, but you aren't POSITIVE(atheist), or you're an agnostic who believes there is SOMETHING but you don't know what(theist).

Yep... Logic seems to demand it....

Quote:

I used to know a guy who called himself a militant agnostic. "I don't know, and neither do you."

It always made me laugh, but after SO MANY discussions about agnosticism in here, it seems less amusing. Laughing out loud

Well, if he means to say "no one can actually know if there is a god, nor can they refute the existence of a subtle god" then I'd agree.... but any sane person can rule out the existence of allah or yaweh without much of a struggle... and billions of people around the world do so.

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todangst wrote:Trout

todangst wrote:
Trout wrote:
todangst wrote:

When people say that they are 'agnostics' they mean that they are weak atheists. That's all. So in one sense, they are a 'middle ground' in that they do not hold to strong atheism.

Nice of you to speak for all those who call themselves "agnostic", tod.


Nice of you to mischaracterize the situation based on your petty hatreds.

tod, you know I love you man.

todangst wrote:

I'm not speaking for everyone who calls themself agnostic. Essentially, I'm showing that a person who calls himself 'agnostic' actually is taking a weak atheist stance. So it's really a semantic point, that agnosticism, in the laymen sense, equates with weak atheism

Or, agnosticism could equate to weak theism, using your same logic.

What people mean by agnostic is that they are weak theists, that's all, so in one sense agnosticism can be a middle ground since they do not hold to strong theism.


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Trout wrote: What people

Trout wrote:
What people mean by agnostic is that they are weak theists, that's all,

Now, look who's trying to speak for all agnostics! Thanks for revealing just how disengenuous your initial post was.

The agnostic does not present himself as a theist of any sort, nor does he present himself as a denier of theism. The agnostic typically holds that he is at some middle ground between theism and 'atheism'. So we have to then examine what the typical 'agnostic' means when he speaks of 'atheism', and often the case is that 'agnostics' tell us that 'atheism' implies an active rejection of theism - i.e. they equate atheism with strong atheism. A key complaint from agnostics is "I don't want to commit to either side." or "I don't want to accept or reject theism dogmatically, or on faith'.

Since the 'agnostic' puts himself forth first and foremost as a doubter, between two extremes, this leaves weak atheism. A lack of belief, without an outright rejection of the belief.

So by actually paying attention to what these 'agnostics' say, and avoiding putting words in their mouth, we see that your attempt to attempt to build an argument from symmetry fails. We have a trichotomy before us, and two of the positions cannot be any form of theism or strong atheism.

Quote:

so in one sense agnosticism can be a middle ground since they do not hold to strong theism.

LOL, again you reveal that you have no problem putting words in peoples' mouths! Your term 'weak theism' would imply an acceptance of theism along with some doubt. A doubter does not tell us that he holds to theism with doubts, the doubter tells us that he or she does not hold to a theistic claim of any sort, BUT also chooses to steer clear of an outright rejection of theism.... This is what they actually say, so your attempt to rewrite their view as 'weak theism', in contrast to what they really say about themselves is precisely the same sort of arrogance that you initially came here to complain about!

'Agnostics' tell us that they they entertain the possibility of theism, but do not actively hold to it... so the middle position cannot be any form of theism, nor can it be any form of outright rejection of theism. It must be weak atheism. A position of doubt without outright denial. Uncertainty. A lack of theism, but an openness to its possibility.

I think what sets you off, along with many others, is the inclusion of the word 'atheism'. You read it as 'strong atheism'...

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todangst wrote:Trout wrote:

todangst wrote:
Trout wrote:
What people mean by agnostic is that they are weak theists, that's all,

Now, look who's trying to speak for all agnostics! Thanks for revealing just how disengenuous your initial post was.

Notice that I prefaced my statement with, "using your logic".

todangst wrote:

The agnostic does not present himself as a theist of any sort, nor does he present himself as a denier of theism. The agnostic typically holds that he is at some middle ground between theism and 'atheism'.

So the agnostic could very well be someone who has reasons both to believe God exists, and reasons to think God does not exist.

So the agnostic - using your logic - could be classified as a weak theist as well as a weak atheist.

todangst wrote:

I think what sets you off, along with many others, is the inclusion of the word 'atheism'. You read it as 'strong atheism'...

As usual, you'd be wrong.


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Sory for being in ahurry

Sory for being in ahurry again but see what you think of this...

Criticism:

* "This position may be seen as a logical fallacy because the agnostic theist is holding a belief, even though he/she is in a state of doubt. In order to believe something, you give a conviction made on knowledge about something you find to be true; in which an agnostic does not do. Additionally, to be in a state of doubt, you make no conviction.

* "This position may also be seen as a paradox, in so far as one knows about a deity but does not believe in that deity, and yet one believes knowledge is unattainable of a deity that one has knowledge of, yet doesn't believe in the knowledge one has of that deity of which one knows."

George H. Smith's rebuttal
In Atheism: The Case Against God[2] George H. Smith argues that all agnosticism is a form of atheism (defined here as "lacking a belief in a deity"). His argument against agnostic theism is that it is contradictory to state that a being is inherently or currently unknowable, and yet positively assert a belief in its existence. His argument goes:

"One cannot possibly know that something exists without some knowledge of what it is that exists."

If it is declared unknowable, the concept of "god" becomes meaningless. The agnostic theist's statement of belief therefore becomes equivalent to "a blark exists."

This unspecified belief ("I believe in 'something'") is equivalent to nonbelief ("I am not convinced by any particular religious claim"). Therefore the so-called agnostic theist is in fact an atheist (by being unable to assert a positive belief in any specific deity).
It ensues that all agnosticism is a form of atheism.

If the agnostic theist still wishes to believe, he must ascribe attributes of some sort to the belief. However, they would then be claiming some knowledge of their deity and are therefore no longer agnostics but are theists instead.
Smith concisely describes the paradox on pg 44:

To posit the existence of something which, by its nature, cannot be known to man is to submerge oneself in hopeless contradictions. [...] When one claims that something is unknowable, can one produce knowledge in support of this claim? If one cannot, one's assertion is arbitrary and utterly without merit. If one can, one has accomplished the impossible: one has knowledge of the unknowable. [...] The theist who is called upon to explain the content of his belief - and who then introduces the "unknowable" as a supposed characteristic of the concept itself - is saying, in effect: "I will explain the concept of god by pointing out that it cannot be explained."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic_theism#Criticism

Recommended Reading: Clarence Darrow, Why I Am an Agnostic

"All the gods of the Greek and Roman mythology represent the attributes of the one supreme divine power - the SUN."
~ Macrobius 400ce "Suns of God" 67-68
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Trout wrote:So the agnostic

Trout wrote:
So the agnostic - using your logic - could be classified as a weak theist as well as a weak atheist.

No one is ruling out possible classifications on the word agnostic. Todagnst is just pointing out that most people who use the word tend to mean 'weak atheist' as in "there might be something out there but I'm currently not convinced."

If you ask someone if the believe in God and they were to say agnostic, what would you think they meant?


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Freethinkaluva wrote:Sory

Freethinkaluva wrote:
Sory for being in ahurry again but see what you think of this...

Criticism:

* "This position may be seen as a logical fallacy because the agnostic theist is holding a belief, even though he/she is in a state of doubt. In order to believe something, you give a conviction made on knowledge about something you find to be true; in which an agnostic does not do. Additionally, to be in a state of doubt, you make no conviction.


They don't 'feel doubt'. They have the 'feeling' of belief but the recognise it's a leap of faith rather than coming from a rational line of thought. (they might also have rational reasoning/conviction for taking this leap of faith)

The second half was a bit more complex so I'll leave that... either for someone else or atleast until I've had time to think it over a bit more! Smiling


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Strafio wrote: If you ask

Strafio wrote:

If you ask someone if the believe in God and they were to say agnostic, what would you think they meant?

Typically when in conversation someone says that they are an agnostic they seem to mean that they aren't sure - and aren't sure if it's possible to be sure - whether or not God exists.

They aren't taking either position, nor are they denying the veracity of either position.

Declaring their position to be weak atheism, would be no different than declaring them to be weak theists.


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Trout wrote:Strafio

Trout wrote:
Strafio wrote:

If you ask someone if the believe in God and they were to say agnostic, what would you think they meant?

Typically when in conversation someone says that they are an agnostic they seem to mean that they aren't sure - and aren't sure if it's possible to be sure - whether or not God exists.

Hence calling them 'weak theists' is putting words in their mouths, the sort of arrogance you initially complained about in your first post.

And this is precisely why 'weak atheism' describes their position - they do not accept theism, nor do they reject it outright.

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Strafio wrote:Trout wrote:So

Strafio wrote:
Trout wrote:
So the agnostic - using your logic - could be classified as a weak theist as well as a weak atheist.

No one is ruling out possible classifications on the word agnostic. Todagnst is just pointing out that most people who use the word tend to mean 'weak atheist' as in "there might be something out there but I'm currently not convinced."

Precisely.

Quote:

If you ask someone if the believe in God and they were to say agnostic, what would you think they meant?

They typically explain a desire to hold to some middle ground.... hence they are neither theists nor strong atheists....

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todangst wrote: And this is

todangst wrote:

And this is precisely why 'weak atheism' describes their position - they do not accept theism, nor do they reject it outright.

Hey, let's see if your statement works to verify my point:

And this is precisely why 'weak theism' describes their position - they do not accept atheism, nor do they reject it outright.

Yup, sure does.


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Freethinkaluva wrote: George

Freethinkaluva wrote:
George H. Smith's rebuttal

In Atheism: The Case Against God[2] George H. Smith argues that all agnosticism is a form of atheism (defined here as "lacking a belief in a deity").

Yes.

Quote:

His argument against agnostic theism is that it is contradictory to state that a being is inherently or currently unknowable, and yet positively assert a belief in its existence.

Unless one does it on 'faith' I.e., unless one concedes that their position is in fact irrational.

Quote:

His argument goes:

"One cannot possibly know that something exists without some knowledge of what it is that exists."

If it is declared unknowable, the concept of "god" becomes meaningless. The agnostic theist's statement of belief therefore becomes equivalent to "a blark exists."

I agree.... they can only hold to some anthropomorphism. I think St. Augustine explains it rather well:

"What then, brethren, shall we say of God? For if thou hast been able to understand what thou wouldest say, it is not God. If thou hast been able to comprehend it, thou hast comprehended something else instead of God. If thou hast been able to comprehend him as thou thinkest, by so thinking thou hast deceived thyself. This then is not God, if thou hast comprehended it; but if this be God, thou has not comprehended it."

Quote:

This unspecified belief ("I believe in 'something'") is equivalent to nonbelief ("I am not convinced by any particular religious claim"). Therefore the so-called agnostic theist is in fact an atheist (by being unable to assert a positive belief in any specific deity).
It ensues that all agnosticism is a form of atheism.

I'd say that the agnostic theist is reifying mystery into a god... whatever he doesn't know or can't explain, is "god"

Recently, I recall a theist during a debate stating something akin to this: 'my role as a theist is to explain the problem of evil, your role, as an atheist, is to explain everything else"

I thought that this theist's complaint revealed precisely what I am referring to above - that the theist reifies his ignorance into a 'god'... i.e. the god of the gaps. "god" lives in the margins of our science books....

Quote:

If the agnostic theist still wishes to believe, he must ascribe attributes of some sort to the belief. However, they would then be claiming some knowledge of their deity and are therefore no longer agnostics but are theists instead.
Smith concisely describes the paradox on pg 44:

To posit the existence of something which, by its nature, cannot be known to man is to submerge oneself in hopeless contradictions. [...] When one claims that something is unknowable, can one produce knowledge in support of this claim? If one cannot, one's assertion is arbitrary and utterly without merit. If one can, one has accomplished the impossible: one has knowledge of the unknowable. [...] The theist who is called upon to explain the content of his belief - and who then introduces the "unknowable" as a supposed characteristic of the concept itself - is saying, in effect: "I will explain the concept of god by pointing out that it cannot be explained."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic_theism#Criticism

Recommended Reading: Clarence Darrow, Why I Am an Agnostic

Well, Smith seems to be insisting that a theist must be a positive theologian... not quite sure that that follows.... but if his point is that negative theology is essentially bankrupt, well I wouldn't argue against that either....

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Trout wrote:todangst

Trout wrote:
todangst wrote:

And this is precisely why 'weak atheism' describes their position - they do not accept theism, nor do they reject it outright.

Hey, let's see if your statement works to verify my point:

And this is precisely why 'weak theism' describes their position - they do not accept atheism, nor do they reject it outright.

Yup, sure does.

Nope, sure it doesn't, and your tendency to simply repeat what has already been refuted is tiresome.

As I already explained to you, your error is that you equate 'atheism' with strong atheism. Atheism is not necessarily strong atheism.

However any 'theistic' position involves accepting theism to some degree. Right?

Can you at least work that out?

If you can, then you can see that since 'agnostics' deny holding to theism, they cannot be 'weak theists'.

They also deny being 'atheists"... but what do they actually SAY about atheism?

They insist that they hold to a middle ground position between acceptance of theism, and outright rejection of theism.

This again, for the third, perhaps fourth time, is weak atheism.

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Trout wrote:todangst

Trout wrote:
todangst wrote:
Trout wrote:
What people mean by agnostic is that they are weak theists, that's all,

Now, look who's trying to speak for all agnostics! Thanks for revealing just how disengenuous your initial post was.

Notice that I prefaced my statement with, "using your logic".

First, you aren't using "my logic" at all. I expained why, in detail.

Second, and more importantly, prefacing your statement that way has nothing to do with your assertion that agnostics, who tell us that they are neither theists nor rejecters of theism, are in fact theists anyway. You are guilty of the arrogance you've accused me of having...

Keep trying to dance away from your hypocrisy, it's funny.

todangst wrote:

The agnostic does not present himself as a theist of any sort, nor does he present himself as a denier of theism. The agnostic typically holds that he is at some middle ground between theism and 'atheism'.

Quote:

So the agnostic could very well be someone who has reasons both to believe God exists, and reasons to think God does not exist.

Nice of you to speak for all those who call themselves "agnostic", Trout. Again, you are putting words in peoples' mouths, speaking for them, yadda yadda yadda, the same thing that supposedly took great umbrage over when you thought it was my position..... interesting that have no compunction against doing it yourself...

The 'agnostic' tells us that he is not a theist. He also tells us that he does not reject theism outright. He is between theism and his perception of atheism as strong atheism.

He may entertain theistic claims, but he does not hold to them.

This is weak atheism.

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todangst wrote:Trout

todangst wrote:
Trout wrote:
todangst wrote:

And this is precisely why 'weak atheism' describes their position - they do not accept theism, nor do they reject it outright.

Hey, let's see if your statement works to verify my point:

And this is precisely why 'weak theism' describes their position - they do not accept atheism, nor do they reject it outright.

Yup, sure does.

Nope, sure it doesn't, and your tendencey to simply repeate what has already been refuted is tiresome.

That's because you seem to be dead set on being right instead of engaging the dialogue.

todangst wrote:

As I already explained to you, your error is that you equate 'atheism' with strong atheism. Atheism is not necessarily strong atheism.

You are incorrect, I have already told you differently, I do not automatically equate atheism with strong atheism. You error seems to be in reading comprehension.

todangst wrote:

However any 'theistic' position involves accepting theism to some degree. Right?

Not necessarily, weak theism would simply be the non-denial of God's existence. It wouldn't have to be a positive position.

todangst wrote:

Can you at least work that out?

I think so.

todangst wrote:

If you can, then you can see that since 'agnostics' deny holding to theism, they cannot be 'weak theists'

Apparently you fail to see the point I'm making. Weak theism is simply the non-denial of God's existence, it's simply an, "I'm not sure" position.

todangst wrote:

This again, for the third, perhaps fourth time, is weak atheism.

This again, for the third, perhaps fourth time, is weak theism.


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Trout wrote:todangst

todangst wrote:
Nope, sure it doesn't, and your tendency to simply repeat what has already been refuted is tiresome.

trout wrote:

That's because you seem to be dead set on being right

You're describing yourself again. I've given you reasons why your position is in error, and you just keep ignoring them.

todangst wrote:

As I already explained to you, your error is that you equate 'atheism' with strong atheism. Atheism is not necessarily strong atheism.

trout wrote:

You are incorrect, I have already told you differently, I do not automatically equate atheism with strong atheism. You error seems to be in reading comprehension.

No, your error seems to be an inability to follow a logical ramification... the IMPLICATION of your argument is that atheism = strong atheism, despite your claims otherwise.

todangst wrote:

However any 'theistic' position involves accepting theism to some degree. Right?

Trout wrote:

Not necessarily,

LOL Yes, necessarily! How could it be a theistic position otherwise? How can you be a theist and not hold to any tenets of theism to any degree at all?! By your 'logic" everyone is a holder to any set of tenets they've never heard about until they actively reject it!

See, you're in a rush to be 'right' - so you're willing to say anything, no matter how irrational, to be 'right' in your mind. You might want to look at the comments you make about others, they reveal quite a bit about you.

Quote:

weak theism would simply be the non-denial of God's existence.

The agnostic tells us that he is neither theist nor a denier of theism.
He does not hold to theism, nor does he reject it. That cannot be a form of theism.

However, his default position can be a weak form of atheism, default atheism. This position does not require that a person hold to any tenets of any kind, at all.

Try thinking it through, Trout, and stop trying to be 'right', no matter the reality. Your not even able to follow the ramifications of your own claims....

todangst wrote:

Can you at least work that out?

Quote:

I think so.

Back to the drawing board, Trout! Different post, same error. Just read any of the already posted corrections/refutations.

The 'agnostic' cannot be a theist of any kind, as theism involves accepting the tenets of theism to some degree, whereas weak atheism does not involve rejecting theism, nor does it require holding to any set of tenets at all. It can be, and is, the type of default position you are describing. No form of theism can represent the agnostic position.

And insisting that agnostics are theists, when they deny being theists, is arrogant "speaking for agnostics" - that you took umbrage over....

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todangst wrote: The

todangst wrote:

The 'agnostic' cannot be a theist of any kind, as theism involves accepting the tenets of theism to some degree, whereas weak atheism does not involve rejecting theism, nor does it require holding to any set of tenets at all. It can be, and is, the type of default position you are describing. No form of theism can represent the agnostic position.

Your describing the atheist position, tod, not the agnostic position.

The weak-theistic agnostic position would simply be, the non-denial of God's existence.

todangst wrote:

And insisting that agnostics are theists, when they deny being theists, is arrogant "speaking for agnostics" - that you took umbrage over....

You are the one who continues to tell the agnostic that he's an atheist, and denying him any theistic tendencies. Get real, tod.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Trout: So you consider yourself an agnostic, eh?

Agnostic: Yep.

Trout: So do you believe God exists?

Agnostic: I'm not sure, maybe He does.

Trout: Are you denying God's existence?

Agnostic: No, I'm just not sure.


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trout wrote:Apparently you

trout wrote:
Apparently you fail to see the point I'm making. Weak theism is simply the non-denial of God's existence, it's simply an, "I'm not sure" position.

If I were to assume that Trout here was rather clever, and assumed he was going through all of this to try and make a cute point, I would interpret that statement thusly;

He seems to be trying to comment on the definition of atheism as being "lack of belief in gods" (or, to make the point more clear, yet to muddle the definition of atheism, "the non-belief in in God's existence") by showing that he can turn around and say 'fine, then theism is defined by the non-denial of God!' and make it look like we are playing a game of special pleading by claiming that atheism can be a negative position while theism is not simply a negation of atheism.

One problem here is that atheism, as a term, only arises in response to theistic claims.

That is, if I thought Trout was clever and being cute. I have no evidence that he is not, so my interpretation could go either way on the truth scale.

Nonetheless, the reason why this term weak theism does not work is that it is ambiguous concerning what is actually believed by the person. Someone who does not deny God's existence could be an atheist. That is, I don't deny the existence of God, I simply deny believing in one.

Perhaps we need to spell this out again; atheism/theism is about what one actually believes. If you believe in God, you are a theist. if you don't believe, you are an atheist. The fact that one can get into cute little games about not denying God's existence or denying God's existence is only tangentially related to the point of belief.

We know that you don't claim that a theist will necessarily claim that they know god exists, but we know that they accept the proposition. But if one day they, for whatever reasons, change their mind and no longer believe in a god, then they can still claim that hey don't deny god's existence, they don't deny it's possible, they simply don't believe it anymore.

Thus, if the "non-denial of God's existence" can be held by an atheist, then this cannot be the definition of any kind of theist, even a weak one. Someone who says "I don't deny God's existence" could still lack belief, and thus be a weak atheist.

And if you, Trout, are trying to say that weak atheism and weak theism are simply identical or ambiguous positions, and we could possibly even call this position 'agnosticism,' then you are still misunderstanding that atheism simply means the lack of belief in God; either you believe or you don't. There is a sharp line.

---
Again, when someone says that they are an agnostic, but they mean that they don't believe in God, yet they also don't deny God exists, they are simply misunderstanding the terminology.

Shaun

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.


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Trout wrote:todangst

Trout wrote:

todangst wrote:

And insisting that agnostics are theists, when they deny being theists, is arrogant "speaking for agnostics" - that you took umbrage over....

You are the one who continues to tell the agnostic that he's an atheist,

No, I'm saying that his stated position is equitable with weak atheism.

His position cannot be equitable to any form of theism.

You're the one arrogantly putting words in his mouth, by insisting that he holds to some form of theism, when he openy denies this. You've already been nailed on this, so let it go.

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ShaunPhilly wrote:trout

ShaunPhilly wrote:
trout wrote:
Apparently you fail to see the point I'm making. Weak theism is simply the non-denial of God's existence, it's simply an, "I'm not sure" position.

If I were to assume that Trout here was rather clever, and assumed he was going through all of this to try and make a cute point, I would interpret that statement thusly;

He seems to be trying to comment on the definition of atheism as being "lack of belief in gods" (or, to make the point more clear, yet to muddle the definition of atheism, "the non-belief in in God's existence") by showing that he can turn around and say 'fine, then theism is defined by the non-denial of God!' and make it look like we are playing a game of special pleading by claiming that atheism can be a negative position while theism is not simply a negation of atheism.

One problem here is that atheism, as a term, only arises in response to theistic claims.

Yes. To hold to any form of theism is to accept the tenets of theism to some degree. To be an atheist only requires that you do not hold to these tenets.

Quote:

That is, if I thought Trout was clever and being cute. I have no evidence that he is not, so my interpretation could go either way on the truth scale.

Nonetheless, the reason why this term weak theism does not work is that it is ambiguous concerning what is actually believed by the person. Someone who does not deny God's existence could be an atheist. That is, I don't deny the existence of God, I simply deny believing in one.

And yet, "weak atheism' only entails what an 'agnostic' declares about himself - that he neither accepts nor rejects theism. I.e. it is a statement about his or her current belief. That is all....

Quote:

Perhaps we need to spell this out again; atheism/theism is about what one actually believes. If you believe in God, you are a theist. if you don't believe, you are an atheist. The fact that one can get into cute little games about not denying God's existence or denying God's existence is only tangentially related to the point of belief.

Yes. And seeing as the 'agnostic' states that he does not believe in a god, he cannot be any sort of theist, and in fact must be an atheist. Attempts to define an agnostic as some form of 'theist' is therefore irrational.

Quote:

We know that you don't claim that a theist will necessarily claim that they know god exists, but we know that they accept the proposition. But if one day they, for whatever reasons, change their mind and no longer believe in a god, then they can still claim that hey don't deny god's existence, they don't deny it's possible, they simply don't believe it anymore.

Thus, if the "non-denial of God's existence" can be held by an atheist, then this cannot be the definition of any kind of theist, even a weak one.

Bingo

Quote:

Someone who says "I don't deny God's existence" could still lack belief, and thus be a weak atheist.

And if you, Trout, are trying to say that weak atheism and weak theism are simply identical or ambiguous positions, and we could possibly even call this position 'agnosticism,' then you are still misunderstanding that atheism simply means the lack of belief in God; either you believe or you don't. There is a sharp line.

Yes.

Quote:

---
Again, when someone says that they are an agnostic, but they mean that they don't believe in God, yet they also don't deny God exists, they are simply misunderstanding the terminology.

Shaun

Yes.

Which is why this sort of 'agnostic' is really affirming weak atheism.....

Thanks for your input. And your initial intuition about our friend is spot on....

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ShaunPhilly wrote:trout

ShaunPhilly wrote:
trout wrote:
Apparently you fail to see the point I'm making. Weak theism is simply the non-denial of God's existence, it's simply an, "I'm not sure" position.

If I were to assume that Trout here was rather clever, and assumed he was going through all of this to try and make a cute point, I would interpret that statement thusly;

He seems to be trying to comment on the definition of atheism as being "lack of belief in gods" (or, to make the point more clear, yet to muddle the definition of atheism, "the non-belief in in God's existence") by showing that he can turn around and say 'fine, then theism is defined by the non-denial of God!' and make it look like we are playing a game of special pleading by claiming that atheism can be a negative position while theism is not simply a negation of atheism.

Greetings Shaun,

You are very perceptive, I am making a play on one of the definitions of atheism, however I'm not making an attempt at defining theism as a "negative". I'm saying in effect that agnosticism is a position wholly different from either theism or atheism, it's a position of, "I'm not sure".

When - as todangst has - someone claims that agnosticism is better defined as weak-atheism, that could very well be correct, it would fit that definition. But it would also fit the definition of weak-theism. I think that's one reason why we have a word defining a certain position, partially because other terms don't adequately explain the situation.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

Perhaps we need to spell this out again; atheism/theism is about what one actually believes. If you believe in God, you are a theist.

Agreed.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

. . . if you don't believe, you are an atheist.

Agreed.

And if you simply aren't sure, you are agnostic. There are certainly varying 'degrees' of agnosticism, just as there are varying degrees of atheism, some would be closer to a positive affirmation of theism than they would be to a denial of the theistic position. To classify all agnostics as 'weak-atheists' could on one hand be accurate, but so could defining them all as weak-theists.

So IMO, agnosticism stands apart from theism or atheism.


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Trout wrote:ShaunPhilly

Trout wrote:
ShaunPhilly wrote:
trout wrote:
Apparently you fail to see the point I'm making. Weak theism is simply the non-denial of God's existence, it's simply an, "I'm not sure" position.

If I were to assume that Trout here was rather clever, and assumed he was going through all of this to try and make a cute point, I would interpret that statement thusly;

He seems to be trying to comment on the definition of atheism as being "lack of belief in gods" (or, to make the point more clear, yet to muddle the definition of atheism, "the non-belief in in God's existence") by showing that he can turn around and say 'fine, then theism is defined by the non-denial of God!' and make it look like we are playing a game of special pleading by claiming that atheism can be a negative position while theism is not simply a negation of atheism.

Greetings Shaun,

You are very perceptive, I am making a play on one of the definitions of atheism, however I'm not making an attempt at defining theism as a "negative". I'm saying in effect that agnosticism is a position wholly different from either theism or atheism, it's a position of, "I'm not sure".

When - as todangst has - someone claims that agnosticism is better defined as weak-atheism, that could very well be correct, it would fit that definition. But it would also fit the definition of weak-theism. I think that's one reason why we have a word defining a certain position, partially because other terms don't adequately explain the situation.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

Perhaps we need to spell this out again; atheism/theism is about what one actually believes. If you believe in God, you are a theist.

Agreed.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

. . . if you don't believe, you are an atheist.

Agreed.

And if you simply aren't sure, you are agnostic.

Again, for the 10th time, the agnostic does not present himself as a doubting theist, but a person in doubt, period. Neither theist nor a rejecter of theism.

So agnosticism equates with weak atheism.

That's the point he just made to you - that it's an either/or based on your current belief:

" Someone who says "I don't deny God's existence" could still lack belief, and thus be a weak atheist.

And if you, Trout, are trying to say that weak atheism and weak theism are simply identical or ambiguous positions, and we could possibly even call this position 'agnosticism,' then you are still misunderstanding that atheism simply means the lack of belief in God; either you believe or you don't. There is a sharp line.

Again, when someone says that they are an agnostic, but they mean that they don't believe in God, yet they also don't deny God exists, they are simply misunderstanding the terminology.

- Shaun"

I look forward to having to repeat the same already demonstrated points to you again and again and again. This will be a fitting illustration of your irrationalism and dogmatism for the board.

Thanks.

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Ophios wrote: I doubt trout

Ophios wrote:

I doubt trout would want to debate.

What would you like to debate, Ophios?


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Let's say there's a poll

Let's say there's a poll taken, the poll has three choices and everyone who answers the poll must choose only one option:

1) I believe God exists.

2) I don't believe God exists.

3) I am undecided.

Now obviously I'm thinking that the agnostic position is the undecided one.

Would anyone be willing to say, "Well, obviously those who chose #3 were actually saying that they chose #2"?


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Trout wrote:Let's say

Trout wrote:
Let's say there's a poll taken, the poll has three choices and everyone who answers the poll must choose only one option:

1) I believe God exists.

2) I don't believe God exists.

3) I am undecided.

Now obviously I'm thinking that the agnostic position is the undecided one.

Would anyone be willing to say, "Well, obviously those who chose #3 were actually saying that they chose #2"?

Yes.

If they have not decided, then they do not have an actual active belief in God, then they also don't believe a god exists. Until they decide and say that they believe God exists, then they don't believe God exists.

Shaun

I'll fight for a person's right to speak so long as that person will, in return, fight to allow me to challenge their opinions and ridicule them as the content of their ideas merit.


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ShaunPhilly wrote:Trout

ShaunPhilly wrote:
Trout wrote:
Let's say there's a poll taken, the poll has three choices and everyone who answers the poll must choose only one option:

1) I believe God exists.

2) I don't believe God exists.

3) I am undecided.

Now obviously I'm thinking that the agnostic position is the undecided one.

Would anyone be willing to say, "Well, obviously those who chose #3 were actually saying that they chose #2"?

Yes.

If they have not decided, then they do not have an actual active belief in God, then they also don't believe a god exists. Until they decide and say that they believe God exists, then they don't believe God exists.

Shaun

Using your same logic, Shaun, I could say the following:

If they have not decided, then they do not have an actual active dis-belief in God, then they also don't dis-believe a god exists. Until they decide and say that they dis-believe God exists, then they believe God exists.

"I am undecided" is wholly different than theism or atheism.


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Trout wrote:

Trout wrote:

Using your same logic, Shaun, I could say the following:

If they have not decided, then they do not have an actual active dis-belief in God,

Right, they are not "strong atheists." But they also don't have an active belief, so they are not theists. They are "weak atheists."

Trout wrote:

... then they also don't dis-believe a god exists. Until they decide and say that they dis-believe God exists, then they believe God exists.

So, if someone has never thought about the question or been even told about the god idea, they believe in God?

That makes no sense. I don't actively disbelieve in purple cats with spikes that live on the planet Hurlia, but that does not imply I do believe in them.

You can't merely turn it around that way. Atheism is the default position. THat is, lack of belief is the default position until the idea is at very least conceived of. And when it is conceived of (or at least talked about as if it were), then a person still must actively accept the idea or remain to lack said acceptance.

You are being obtuse here.

Shaun: do you believe in God?
agnostic: I am not sure
Shaun: but at this moment, you cannot truthfully say you actually believe in God, right?
Agnostic: No, but I'm considering the question. I'll get back to you later, when I've decided if I do or not.
Shaun: OK, so would you say that, at least for the moment, you currently lack belief in a God, even thought that may change?
Agnostic: Yes, but I also lack complete denial that a god exists.
Shaun: fine, as do I, but we're both still (weak) atheists.
Agnostic: Oh, is that what "atheism" means, to simply lack belief in gods?
Shaun: Yes, nothing more
Agnostic: Hmmm, I wasn't aware of that. I always thought it meant you denied God exists.
Shaun: I don't, and if I did, I would still be an atheist, I would simply tack on the "strong" qualifier to distinguish that denial from the lack of belief.
Agnostic: Well, I guess that makes sense, but I still don't like to think of myself as an "atheist," it seems so negative, nasty, evil or something. I feel like it makes me arrogant or something.
Shaun. That's what happens when people misunderstand what words mean. You don't have to call yourself an "atheist if you don't want to, but you need to recognize that your position concerning God belief right now, until you actually believe in God is what;s called "atheism, whether you like the term itself or not.
Agnostic: I still don't like it, and will still call myself agnostic.
Shaun: I'm an agnostic as well, an agnostic atheist; I don't know, but also don't believe, that gods exist.
Agnostic: I still prefer "agnostic."
Shaun: Very well, it's up to you.

But I suppose you'll try and turn that around as well.

"Theist": I don't actively disbelieve in God.
Shaun: Do you believe God exists?
"Theist":I said I don't dis-believe; I don't deny God's existing.
Shaun: But do you believe?
"Theist": I haven't decided
Shaun: But as of right this moment, you don't actually believe in a god, actively. I understand you are not sure and are either considering it or just don't care (or whatever), but you don't actually believe in any gods?
"Theist":...
Shaun: Do you?
"Theist": I don't want to answer.
Shaun: Why not?
"Theist": Because then I'd have to acknowledge that I'm one or the other. I simply haven't decided.
Shaun: It doesn't matter what you acknowledge. Unless you actually believe--and I don't care if you tell me or anyone else what you believe--you are an atheist. Granted, you are not a strong atheist (and neither am I), but nonetheless you are.
"Theist": But I don't want to be an atheist.
Shaun: Why not?
"Theist": Because...They are arrogant people who deny God. I don't want to be arrogant, I just want to be open and undecided. What can't you just let me be undecided.
Shaun: You can be undecided. But so long as you are undecided, you cannot also, at the same time, say that you also believe in God, right?
"Theist": Why not?
Shaun:...Because to be undecided means to not have decided if you believe or not.
"Theist": Right! Exactly, that's what an agnostic is.
Shaun: Perhaps, but it also falls under the definition of "atheist," because it is a lack of belief, whether for reason of being undecided, lacking evidence warranting belief, etc, that lack of belief is called "atheism." It does not mean you are not also an agnostic, it just means you don't believe.
"Theist": I don't want to be an atheist.
Shaun: Fine, then believe in God.
"Theist": I can't, I said I'm undecided.
Shaun:...

VERY frustrating...

trout wrote:
"I am undecided" is wholly different than theism or atheism.

No, it's not. It's weak atheism as well as agnosticism.

Shaun

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To tell you the truth,

To tell you the truth, Shaun, I can't fathom why this issue is important at all.

It seems very obvious to me that there is a position of "undecided" that doesn't land in either the theist camp or the atheist camp. I'm sure there are many people who could honestly be considered weak-atheists, I'm equally sure that there are the truly undecided.

I feel your frustration, I too am frustrated by your answers.

So why is this whole thing important at all, Shaun?


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What is important to me is

What is important to me is the truth. If a question comes up, I do what I can to resolve it. It may not be all that important, but t is somewhat important in terms of answering comments about atheists and why why do this or that.

If you look at the mail the RRS gets from people who say they don't believe in God but decry our audacity or arrogance at denying God, it's because they don't understand the terms. It's important that people understand that when many people say they are atheists, all they really mean is they lack belief in God. many people who dislike the term and who dislike atheism are actually atheists, and just don't realize how much they have in common with us. If they did realize, much of the negative feelings towards atheism would disappear.

It's important simply because people like you come in and say what you have said, and not understanding that if you don't believe in a God, you are also an atheist. I have friends who decry atheism, call themselves agnostics, and don't believe in God. The discussion is important because they need to understand that they are atheists just like the people they are having the issue with. Therefore, their distaste is misplaced.

Shaun

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Trout wrote:To tell you the

Trout wrote:
To tell you the truth, Shaun, I can't fathom why this issue is important at all.

It seems very obvious to me that there is a position of "undecided" that doesn't land in either the theist camp or the atheist camp. I'm sure there are many people who could honestly be considered weak-atheists, I'm equally sure that there are the truly undecided.

I feel your frustration, I too am frustrated by your answers.

So why is this whole thing important at all, Shaun?

dictionary wrote:
theism
–noun 1. the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation

n. Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.

adjective
1. of or relating to theism

noun
1. one who believes in the existence of a god or gods

Any deviation from this definition (such as doubt or any questioning) results in not-theist or as it is commonly and definitionally referred to - atheistic.

One either believes or one does not believe - there is no in between.
To have any doubt makes one a nonbeliever.

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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ShaunPhilly wrote:Trout

ShaunPhilly wrote:
Trout wrote:

Using your same logic, Shaun, I could say the following:

If they have not decided, then they do not have an actual active dis-belief in God,

Right, they are not "strong atheists." But they also don't have an active belief, so they are not theists. They are "weak atheists."

Trout wrote:

... then they also don't dis-believe a god exists. Until they decide and say that they dis-believe God exists, then they believe God exists.

So, if someone has never thought about the question or been even told about the god idea, they believe in God?

LOL.. Yes, I made the same point to him.

Only someone in a rush to argue, damn the reality, would fall to such an irrational conclusion.

Quote:

That makes no sense. I don't actively disbelieve in purple cats with spikes that live on the planet Hurlia, but that does not imply I do believe in them.

You can't merely turn it around that way. Atheism is the default position.

Yes, that point has been made to him ad nasuseum.

In addition, its been pointed out that 'agnostics' themselves state, point blank that they neither accept the tenets of theism nor do they reject them a priori...

Quote:

That is, lack of belief is the default position until the idea is at very least conceived of. And when it is conceived of (or at least talked about as if it were), then a person still must actively accept the idea or remain to lack said acceptance.

You are being obtuse here.

That's a very generous way to describe his posts. And Shaun, nothing he posted in infidelguy was any different.

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AiiA wrote:Trout wrote:To

AiiA wrote:
Trout wrote:
To tell you the truth, Shaun, I can't fathom why this issue is important at all.

It seems very obvious to me that there is a position of "undecided" that doesn't land in either the theist camp or the atheist camp. I'm sure there are many people who could honestly be considered weak-atheists, I'm equally sure that there are the truly undecided.

I feel your frustration, I too am frustrated by your answers.

So why is this whole thing important at all, Shaun?

dictionary wrote:
theism
–noun 1. the belief in one God as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation

n. Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in a personal God as creator and ruler of the world.

adjective
1. of or relating to theism

noun
1. one who believes in the existence of a god or gods

Any deviation from this definition (such as doubt or any questioning) results in not-theist or as it is commonly and definitionally referred to - atheistic.

One either believes or one does not believe - there is no in between.

To have any doubt makes one a nonbeliever.

If one does not accept the tenets of theism, then they aren't a theist. For someone to take that simple fact and twist it into a form of 'weak theism' requires a level of irrational, dogmatic thinking that borders on psychosis.

But that's what dogmatic thinking does to a person... for them, reality is not something to accept, its something to be overcome.

Those who know the good, do the good. - Socrates

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todangst wrote: If one does

todangst wrote:

If one does not accept the tenets of theism, then they aren't a theist.

Hey, you got one right, tod, good boy!

And if someone doesn't know, they are an agnostic.


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Trout wrote:todangst

Trout wrote:
todangst wrote:

If one does not accept the tenets of theism, then they aren't a theist.

Hey, you got one right, tod, good boy!

Too bad you got it wrong, you called it 'weak theism" provided they didn't reject theism outright!

todangst wrote:
However any 'theistic' position involves accepting theism to some degree. Right?

Trout wrote:

Not necessarily, weak theism would simply be the non-denial of God's existence.

So you're telling me, on one hand, that a theist can be a person who doesn't hold to any tenets of theism, and on the other, you're telling us it's obvious that someone who doesn't hold to any tenet of theism isn't a theist...

Smiling

and then there's this:

trout wrote:
And this is precisely why 'weak theism' describes their position - they do not accept atheism, nor do they reject it outright.

If you don't accept atheism (which isn't a set of tenets to accept or reject in the first place), you're a theist....

Trout, if I haven't thank you already, thanks for posting in this thread - I will give it as a link to everyone here as a great demonstration of just how irrational you are.....

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ShaunPhilly wrote: It's

ShaunPhilly wrote:

It's important simply because people like you come in and say what you have said, and not understanding that if you don't believe in a God, you are also an atheist.

I hope I haven't given that impression, Shaun. I would completely agree that the above quote properly defines an atheist.

But I'm not speaking of that particular individual, I'm thinking of someone who is wholly different than someone who outwardly denies the existence of a god.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

I have friends who decry atheism, call themselves agnostics, and don't believe in God. The discussion is important because they need to understand that they are atheists just like the people they are having the issue with. Therefore, their distaste is misplaced.

Shaun

Again, the description you've given of your aquaintances would put them firmly in the weak-atheist camp. But I hope that you'd agree that there are others not covered by your definition?

IMO, someone who "doesn't know" fits the category of agnosticism, perhaps many describe themselves as agnostic but really do belong in the weak-atheist camp. But not every agnostic would; that's all I'm getting at.

BTW, I'm enjoying our discussion, Shaun, you are a well spoken individual, thank you.

Trout.


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This is the last time I'm

This is the last time I'm going to try and re-word this.

Someone who does not know is an agnostic. You, Trout, are right about that. It does not mean they are not also an atheist. In my opinion, agnostic is a worthless term, because nobody knows. Being "undecided" is, admittedly, related to agnosticism, but is not the definition of agnosticism. I'll address the issue of being undecided, whether that's agnosticism or not.

Not being a believer, whether you call it not knowing, being undecided, or out-right denying it, is to not be a theist. You agree with me there, I believe.

But as soon as you leave the camp of belief, no matter how open you are to changing your mind, not thinking about it, or insisting that you will forever be undecided and will never know, you are then without theism; without belief (at least yet).

If you are in agreement with me there, then you must, by the rules of logic, agree that being undecided is a form of atheism necessarily.

Being without belief concerning God is what atheism is. You can say you are undecided, but you are still without belief.

There is no possible position of being undecided and also a believer, because being a believer means you have decided.

And saying that it's impossible to be undecided and yet also not deny God misses the point. Being an atheist is not to deny God. Being an atheist is the lack of a very specific belief, that of belief in God.

Atheism: the answer "no" to the question "do you believe any god exists?" Nothing more.

Being undecided or unsure is still a "no" to that question. Anything other than a "yes" to that question is a no, including an "I don't know" or "I'll think about it" or "I'm undecided."

To not answer the question is not indecision, it is a refusal to admit what one actually holds to; belief or lack of it.

Indecision concerning belief is lack of belief.
Lack of belief is atheism.
Therefore indecision is atheism.

It gets no clearer than that.

Shaun

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ShaunPhilly wrote:This is

ShaunPhilly wrote:
This is the last time I'm going to try and re-word this.

I feel your pain.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

Someone who does not know is an agnostic. You, Trout, are right about that. It does not mean they are not also an atheist.

I would agree with that, but that doesn't speak exhaustively to everyone who holds to agnosticism.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

In my opinion, agnostic is a worthless term, because nobody knows.

Then maybe everyone should be called an agnostic and we should abandon the term atheist?

Since in your opinion, no one "knows", then calling oneself an atheist would be a bit of a misnomer. Even though you don't believe God exists, you are ultimately uncertain in that regard. So in one sense you do hold to theism - because theism remains a possibility that cannot be dismissed - albeit in a round about way.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

Not being a believer, whether you call it not knowing, being undecided, or out-right denying it, is to not be a theist. You agree with me there, I believe.

Nope.

Not being a believer - IMO - would make someone an atheist. Not knowing is the crux of the issue.

Let me ask you this; What term would you use for someone who doesn't know if a god exists although they think one probably does but they just don't know. Would that be a weak atheist?

ShaunPhilly wrote:

But as soon as you leave the camp of belief, no matter how open you are to changing your mind, not thinking about it, or insisting that you will forever be undecided and will never know, you are then without theism; without belief (at least yet).

In one respect you are without theism, yes. But in another respect you have left the door wide open for theism. If you say to yourself, "There's a good possibility that God exists" you aren't without theism.

ShaunPhilly wrote:

Atheism: the answer "no" to the question "do you believe any god exists?" Nothing more.

I would agree, but the agnostic I speak of wouldn't answer the question that way. They would say, maybe.


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todangst wrote: Trout, if I

todangst wrote:

Trout, if I haven't thank you already, thanks for posting in this thread - I will give it as a link to everyone here as a great demonstration of just how irrational you are.....

Let's see, I could link to the thread where your, "the supernatural is beyond our ken" argument gets demolished, or to the thread where you sig gets taken apart, Nah, on second thought I'll just be content that you're willing to give me so much attention.

Love,

Trout