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

;

"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


Sapient
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Trout wrote: What people

Trout wrote:

What people mean by agnostic is that they are weak theists, that's all...

And agnostics are always wondering why they should just embrace their atheism or theism, which all agnostics are.

- Brian Sapient


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Sapient wrote:Trout

Sapient wrote:
Trout wrote:

What people mean by agnostic is that they are weak theists, that's all...

And agnostics are always wondering why they should just embrace their atheism or theism, which all agnostics are.

Greetings Sapient,

My quoted statement was in response to some earlier comments in the thread, defining all agnostics as weak atheists seems to be a bit much. I don't have any trouble at all believing that there is truly a middle ground between theism and atheism commonly called agnosticism.

I'm sure that there are many agnostics who find themselves in the exact position that you describe - wanting to embrace atheism - but I'm equally sure that there are those who are truly agnostic, meaning simply, "maybe" god exists.

Let me pose the same question to you that I did to Shaun:

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?

OFF TOPIC:

I like your site, Sapient, it has a lot of cool features, thanks for putting up with people like myself.

What's the book hierarchy thing do?


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Agnostics and atheists are

Agnostics and atheists are talking about different things, are they not? One is addressing knowledge, the other, belief. The human mind is certainly plastic enough to believe something without knowing it, even to know something without believing it (though that's treading close to insanity).

agnostic atheist - I don't know if there's a god, but I hold no belief in one

agnostic theist - I don't know there's a god, but I believe there is one

gnostic atheist - I know there is isn't a god and I don't believe in one

gnostic theist - I know there's a god and I believe in him

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


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ShaunPhilly wrote:This is

ShaunPhilly wrote:
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

Right. It's obvious to anyone who's not an irrational, dogma driven, nay-sayer of reality. But that's Trout for you... I've rarely seen anyone more confused and irrational....

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

Books on atheism.


todangst
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Trout wrote:todangst wrote:

Trout wrote:
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,


You could, but if you did, everyone would see that the precise opposite occurred. So, please do post to it, so I can demonstrate that you've actually advocated the error of using 'existence' as a predicate. Seriously, anyone so deluded that they can't work out that you can't refer to 'nature' without referring to identity, is just in way over their head. To try and bifurcate 'nature' based on differing dictionary definitions (!) and think you can talk of nature without referring to positive attributes is to demonstrate your basic ignorance of the very basics of ontology.

Seriously, you're just utterly lost here. You're so ignorant that your main defense is your inability to recognize when you've been refuted.

Quote:

or to the thread where you sig gets taken apart,

Just let out that anger, Trout!

Again, please feel free to link away, so I can demonstrate how ridiculous those arguments were...

In, fact, let me do it:

http://72.14.209.104/search?q=cache:bionU9Oz9OkJ:www.infidelguy.com/ftopic-8248-765-days0-orderasc-.html+Mewtwo_X+anne+frank&hl=en&gl=us&ct=clnk&cd=6

Last post down, I reply to Mewto-X refutation of every single claim made against my quote. The errors included in the ignorant attack include basic errors in reading comprehension! And you want to actually cite that?

Seriously, I have to thank you again.

Quote:

Nah, on second thought I'll just be content that you're willing to give me so much attention.

This coming from a guy who's able to reference arguments I made 6 months ago and more.... Smiling

This coming from a guy who made sure to address his first post to me, here. Smiling

Maybe you really are in love, after all....

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

Books on atheism.


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todangst wrote: This coming

todangst wrote:

This coming from a guy who's able to reference arguments[sic] I made 6 months ago and more.... Smiling

I remember when LakeGeorgeMan disciplined you, my sides are still hurting a little from laughing about it. It was like watching a really bratty Strawberry Shortcake get a spanking from King Kong.

BTW, he sends his love and wanted me to be sure and let you know that he's now an "agnostic theist".

Hugs and Kisses

Trout


todangst
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Trout wrote:todangst

Trout wrote:
todangst wrote:

This coming from a guy who's able to reference arguments[sic] I made 6 months ago and more.... Smiling

I remember when LakeGeorgeMan disciplined you,

And managed to get every single argument he made wrong... while doing little more than trolling the board like the ignoramous he is....

No wonder you like him... you're kindred spirits.

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

Books on atheism.


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Agnostic and Proud!

I'm grateful for the amusing exchange between TodAngst and Trout for relieving me of the irritation caused by 'Freethinkaluva's' original post: "The Agnostic Fallacy". Tod did a good job of examining the illogical found in this post, such as the following:

Quote:
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.

This is exactly my position as an agnositc: that no one can make claims about something they know nothing about - neither the Pope nor Sam Harris (although I know that Sam Harris comments more about religion than about the existence of "God"). I see nothing self-contradictory about that.

Quote:
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

Actually, "I don't know" means "I don't know". It does not follow that the subject is unknowable, or beyond human understanding. It means I DON'T KNOW!!

I was interested to see that although a few posters on this thread spoke about agnostics and agnosticism, no one actually claimed to be the one nor adhere to the other.

Examinations of the claims of religionists made me an atheist. Examinations of the claims of atheists have lead me to agnosticism.

I find it coincidental that some atheists have the same condescending"forgive them for they know not what they do" attitude towards agnostics as religionists have toward atheists. Atheists seem to feel that agnostics haven't arrived at their position through rational thinking, but rather are in a holding pattern before making a final brave step, since " [agnosticism] 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."

It seems to me that theists have chosen to believe that a supernatural sentient being exists that has some relation to the world we live in (I hate the word "god" as it implies a whole set of attributes that I find superfluous to the central issue). Atheists have chosen to believe that no such being exists.

I reject theism because theistic arguments are not at all compelling to me, or even very pursuasive.

I reject atheism because logically thinking, the old saw holds true: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

I also reject both because I am not at all interested in belief, but in knowledge. I see no reason to "pick a side" to dogmatically defend. To me it makes more sense to keep a truly open, freethinking mind by not reaching any conclusion based on faulty evidence, or lack of any evidence at all.

I don't believe any claims I've heard about the existence or non-existence of such (a) supernatural being(s). I do not characterize the subject as "unknowable", however, since I don't know if our ever-growing understanding of our world will expand to include matters that are considered supernatural now. I don't believe that anyone else knows any more about the matter than I do now. However, I also do not know what knowledge humans will have about the subject in the future. Others feel the need to pretend to know, or to choose to believe. I am very, very comfortable with "I don't know" (to me the "and neither do you" goes without saying)

"One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing." Socrates


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Maargen wrote: I reject

Maargen wrote:

I reject theism because theistic arguments are not at all compelling to me, or even very pursuasive.

I reject atheism because logically thinking, the old saw holds true: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

Here we go again...

Yes, there is no evidence, and that does not mean we have evidence of absence. What it does do is give plausible justification for lacking belief. Either you didn't read the whole thread or you simply missed where I made that point several times.

As an agnostic-atheist, I don't know; but while in that state of lacking certainty, I have no reason to believe so I currently lack belief. I do not claim that I know god does not exist.

Quote:
I also reject both because I am not at all interested in belief, but in knowledge. I see no reason to "pick a side" to dogmatically defend. To me it makes more sense to keep a truly open, freethinking mind by not reaching any conclusion based on faulty evidence, or lack of any evidence at all.

I'm glad you are interested in knowledge, and that you are trying to keep open-minded about this. So am I. I'm not picking a side either. I simply lack belief in a god currently because of the lack of evidence I would need to sustain such a belief.

It's very simple; do you, right now, actively believe in the existence of a being that honest and reasonable people would call "god"?

If you say yes, you are a theist.

If you say no, you are an atheist. It doesn't mean you've closed your mind to the possibility of being convinced that God exists, only that it hasn't happened yet.

Quote:
I am very, very comfortable with "I don't know" (to me the "and neither do you" goes without saying)

Have you been reading Simone Weil? Someone I know from another forum goes on and on about this point about "I don't know", basing it on Weil's ideas.

I don't know either. But until I'm convinced, I also don't believe.

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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Maargen wrote:I reject

Maargen wrote:
I reject theism because theistic arguments are not at all compelling to me, or even very pursuasive.

I reject atheism because logically thinking, the old saw holds true: absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

I'm not sure what you'd call such a belief, what the term is. I'm sure people could come up with some funny ones though.

The contradictions that arise with omnipotence, omniscience and omnibelevolence arise with a God that does exist. To simply say that these problems are removed by saying that God also doesn't exist doesn't in itself resolve the problems associated with those omni-states. If one points out the rock problem for example, lifting or not lifting the rock deals with an existant entity. A non-existant entity can neither lift nor not lift the rock. So it doesn't actually resolve such paradoxes. I'm not sure what the point of stating that God both exists and does not exist is.

Believe and disbelieve in the law of non-contradiction ?

How about...

P1. God does not exist
P2. God does exist
C1. God is not God

Spell evil backward and get "live."
Spell devil backward and get "lived."
Spell god backward and get "dog."

God had no time to create time.


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Freethinkaluva wrote:The

Freethinkaluva wrote:
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

;


From your post above we should make a change:

It's true that many people use the word "agnostic" to refer to those people also known as weak atheists. Those who call them "weak atheists" reserve the word "agnostic" for a different group of people, those who don't know whether god exists. Let me label, for the purpose of this discussion, the two groups of speakers as "lay" and "technical."

Lay speakers have three categories:

* 1. Atheists (who believe god does not exist),
* 2. Agnostics (who haven't decided what to believe, or who have decided not to believe either way, or who otherwise manage not to fall into either of the other categories), and
* 3. Theists (who believe god does exist).

Technical speakers have six categories. First they have the three above mentioned categories, but with different labels:

* 1. Strong atheists (who believe god does not exist),
* 2. Weak atheists (who haven't decided what to believe, or who have decided not to believe either way, or who otherwise manage not to fall into either of the other categories), and
* 3. Theists (who believe god does exist).

Then they have two more categories:

* a. Gnostics (who believe we can tell prove that god does (or doesn't) exist).
* b. Agnostics (who believe we can't be sure whether god exists.

Those then combine to give us these six categories:

* 1a. Gnostic strong atheists: "I know that god does not exist."
* 1b. Agnostic strong atheists: "I believe god doesn't exist, but I could be wrong."
* 2a. Gnostic weak atheists: "I know god exists but I don't believe it".
* 2b. Agnostic weak atheists: "I don't know whether god exists, so I haven't formed a belief either way."
* 3a. Gnostic theists: "I know god exists."
* 3b. Agnostic theists: "I believe god exists. I don't know it for sure, but I believe it."

I suspect that most people who call themselves atheists, and most people trained in philosophy, prefer this "technical" nomenclature.

God had no time to create time.


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Pikachu from the IG fourms I

Pikachu from the IG fourms I presume.


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Technicalities

I used to consider myself an agnostic until I studied further into the issue from a philosophical perspective.

There are problems with the initial poster's framing of the issue, in my humble opinion.  I think that agnosticism and atheism are based on QUESTIONS, and I think that all the quibbling assumes that there is only ONE question at hand, "Does God exist?"  This is not the case, and I believe there are numerous questions, such as "Do Yahweh, Christianity, and Jesus exist?"  or "Does a non-descript deistic God who has no role in our lives exist?"  Can you see how the confusion arises?  Suppose one person who says, "I am an atheist," means, "I KNOW that Christianity is false."  Suppose a different person says, "I am an agnostic," but really means, "I cannot rule out beyond all possible doubt that SOME deistic God exists that Christianity doesn't describe properly."  What if the atheist (on Christianity) falsely accuses the agnostic (on Deism) of being an agnostic (on Christianity)?

You follow?  If not, please ask me to explain again. 

1.  When we're talking about agnosticism vs. atheism, are we talking about CHRISTIAN GOD, or ANY possible concept of God, such as Deistic God???

2.  On the basis of logical contradiction and other logical arguments, I can fully disprove the CHRISTIAN GOD and CHRISTIANITY, hence I can say that I am a STRONG ATHEIST with respect to the question, "IS CHRISTIANITY TRUE?"  I can say that I "KNOW" beyond all possible doubt that Christianity is false, Judaism is false, and Islam is false.  There are logical contradictions that FORBID the Gods depicted in those religions from existing.

3.  Knowledge means 100% certainty beyond all possible doubt.

 4.  Now can I KNOW beyond all possible doubt that the following cannot exist?... A deistic God with non-descript properties who lives outside of time and space, is beyond logical refutation (due to lack of logically non-contradictory properties), and has no effect on my life?

 Heck no!  I can't rule that out!  I can't claim knowledge about some "GOD" that possibly exists, because I can't rule it out with either LOGIC or EVIDENCE.

 In truth, there could be an infinite number of "GOD" concepts.  I can't claim that I have knowledge of their non-existence because they are outside of rational inquiry.

 5.  So do I base my life on the existence of some version of "God"?  No.  Do I "believe" in some version of "God?"  No.  Do I think there is some version of "God" that can influence my life in any way?  No.

 So for that reason, I call myself an atheist.

 6.  So the real question is, "What does it mean to be an atheist?"  Is it "KNOWING" beyond all possible doubt that God doesn't exist?  Or is atheism simply "NOT BELIEVING" that some version of God exists?

 7.  I think quibbling over whether you're agnostic or atheist is a waste of time.  The real question should not be based on "100% certainty beyond all possible doubt."  The question of atheism or agnosticism and the distinction is illusory.  If you don't believe in God, don't base your life on belief in God, then I think for all intents and purposes, you are an atheist.

 8.  Finally, this whole problem is explained beautifully in Dawkin's God Delusion.  Dawkins, by the way, is a weak atheist in that he does not rule out the possibility entirely of SOME version of "God."

 But Dawkins also doesn't believe or base his life on positive belief.

 Why?  Because there is no evidence.

 He cites Bertrand Russell's "Celestial Teapot" analogy.

 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell's_teapot

If there is a fantastic claim for which you can neither prove nor disprove, you don't base your life on the fantastic claim.  If there's no evidence, you are a non-believer.  There are an infinite number of imaginary things I cannot disprove with 100% certainty.  But I don't base my life on any of them existing.  Who cares if I KNOW or DON'T KNOW if they exist?  That is really the only thing that matters.

 Atheism should be a label given to any person who answers NO to this question, "Do you believe in God?"

 We should not label people atheists on the basis of answering YES to this question, "Do you KNOW beyond all possible doubt that God does not exist?"

God is an ambiguous term for one, and knowledge is quite a different thing from belief.

-Happy to explain any poorly written or hard to understand points. 

  --Jeremy


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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.

 EXACTLY!!!  I had a conversation with my guard the other day, and he told me he was agnostic.  I asked why, and he told me that he believed that god made the earth, and created it and all, but that he doesn't micro-manage the earth like religion says he does.

Tell me, does resisting slapping someone simply for being stupid get easier as I get older?  Where can I go to hear such outrageous stuff that I'll become numb to shockingly stupid comments - besides "a Church"? 

Every step I took in faith betrayed me

-Sarah McLachlan


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TakeCashToChurch

TakeCashToChurch wrote:

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.

 EXACTLY!!!  I had a conversation with my guard the other day, and he told me he was agnostic.  I asked why, and he told me that he believed that god made the earth, and created it and all, but that he doesn't micro-manage the earth like religion says he does.

Tell me, does resisting slapping someone simply for being stupid get easier as I get older?  Where can I go to hear such outrageous stuff that I'll become numb to shockingly stupid comments - besides "a Church"? 

LOL. That guy is not an agnostic.  That's non-Christian theism -- possibly pantheism or deism.

Agnosticism is actually a very precise terminology that someone should only use if he knows what "epistemology" means.


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It was a very strange

It was a very strange conversation.  I was like "why do you think that" and he said that he was afraid to rule god out.  I asked why, and he said that he didn't want to burn in hell.  I told him to tell me where hell was, and where heaven was - and that ended conversation.  Shameful - I had a great hubbel telescope joke queued up in case he tried to tell me about heaven in outer space.

Every step I took in faith betrayed me

-Sarah McLachlan


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Sounds like some of the

Sounds like some of the more recent posters here grasp these terms well. Nice to see it.

 

http://www.rationalresponders.com/am_i_agnostic_or_atheist 

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

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From a Self-Described Agnostic

All right, I think it's the terminology that's throwing people off. Let's start with a parable of sorts.
A man held up a closed fist to three of his friends and asked "Am I holding a penny?" The first said "Yes, most definitely", the second said "No, most assuredly not" and the third said "I don't know, open up your hand!"
If the first person corresponds to a theist (theo=god), then the second would be an atheist (a=without), while the third would be an agnostic (gnosis=knowledge). Notice that the agnostic doesn't say that the situation is "unknowable", just that he does not have enough information at the present time.
That may be part of the problem: people are bringing different definitions of "atheism" to the table. My copy of the Oxford American Dictionary defines it as "the theory or belief that God does not exist", whereas the definition being used here seems to be "any belief that is not theism" I have always used the former definition, which does not describe me, and thus identify as agnostic.
I must confess to feeling a little indignat at being labeled a "weak atheist" as it seemed to me a way for one side to claim others as its own. But the discussion did bring up an interesting notion. Though I don't hold the belief that there is no god, my actions tend to be as though one does not exists. Conversely, if we believe Pascal accepted his own wager, then he acts as if there is a God, not because he believes in one, but because he's "playing the odds" as it were. I guess if our actions are considered as well as the beliefs, then I would be a weak athesit and Pascal would be a weak theist. Thus your "-ism" is determined by your actions and its "strength" by your beliefs.


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rackitycoon wrote:

rackitycoon wrote:
All right, I think it's the terminology that's throwing people off. Let's start with a parable of sorts.

OK, sounds like fun!

Quote:
A man held up a closed fist to three of his friends and asked "Am I holding a penny?" The first said "Yes, most definitely", the second said "No, most assuredly not" and the third said "I don't know, open up your hand!"
OK, got it.
Quote:
If the first person corresponds to a theist (theo=god),
Um, sure.
Quote:
then the second would be an atheist (a=without),
. Well, this person will be an atheist, but he is also more than an atheist. Let's follow along and see why...
Quote:
while the third would be an agnostic (gnosis=knowledge).
Actually, they are all agnostics Because they cannot see whether there actually is a penny in his hand, none of them have knowledge. The first two answer ignorantly. They believe without justification. The third, being skeptical and demanding to see before he answers, is an atheist. He will remain an atheist as long as he holds his skeptical position and so long as he sees no penny.
Quote:
Notice that the agnostic doesn't say that the situation is "unknowable", just that he does not have enough information at the present time.
Right. I recognoze that i don't have the information about God's existence right now. Until the metaphorical hand is opened, I must remain without knowledge, and I lack belief because belief, one way or the other, is not justified.
Quote:
That may be part of the problem: people are bringing different definitions of "atheism" to the table. My copy of the Oxford American Dictionary defines it as "the theory or belief that God does not exist", whereas the definition being used here seems to be "any belief that is not theism" I have always used the former definition, which does not describe me, and thus identify as agnostic.
Problems with definitions is an issue. Why not use the definition atheists use; lack of belief?
Quote:
I must confess to feeling a little indignat at being labeled a "weak atheist" as it seemed to me a way for one side to claim others as its own. But the discussion did bring up an interesting notion. Though I don't hold the belief that there is no god, my actions tend to be as though one does not exists. Conversely, if we believe Pascal accepted his own wager, then he acts as if there is a God, not because he believes in one, but because he's "playing the odds" as it were. I guess if our actions are considered as well as the beliefs, then I would be a weak athesit and Pascal would be a weak theist. Thus your "-ism" is determined by your actions and its "strength" by your beliefs.

The only relevant things is whether you actually believe in any gods. If you do not, you are an atheist.

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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rackitycoon wrote: All

rackitycoon wrote:
All right, I think it's the terminology that's throwing people off. Let's start with a parable of sorts.
A man held up a closed fist to three of his friends and asked "Am I holding a penny?" The first said "Yes, most definitely", the second said "No, most assuredly not" and the third said "I don't know, open up your hand!"
If the first person corresponds to a theist (theo=god), then the second would be an atheist (a=without), while the third would be an agnostic (gnosis=knowledge). Notice that the agnostic doesn't say that the situation is "unknowable", just that he does not have enough information at the present time.
That may be part of the problem: people are bringing different definitions of "atheism" to the table. My copy of the Oxford American Dictionary defines it as "the theory or belief that God does not exist", whereas the definition being used here seems to be "any belief that is not theism" I have always used the former definition, which does not describe me, and thus identify as agnostic.
I must confess to feeling a little indignat at being labeled a "weak atheist" as it seemed to me a way for one side to claim others as its own. But the discussion did bring up an interesting notion. Though I don't hold the belief that there is no god, my actions tend to be as though one does not exists. Conversely, if we believe Pascal accepted his own wager, then he acts as if there is a God, not because he believes in one, but because he's "playing the odds" as it were. I guess if our actions are considered as well as the beliefs, then I would be a weak athesit and Pascal would be a weak theist. Thus your "-ism" is determined by your actions and its "strength" by your beliefs.

I have to say...  BRAVO! 

Quote:
people are bringing different definitions of "atheism" to the table.

I find this to be 100% correct.  I don't agree with "lack of belief" to be a proper definition of atheism.

*Nobody* has a *lack* of belief.  Even as an atheist, you have to at least be able to believe in things you can't see.  Believe in god?  No.  But do you believe that your girlfriend loves you like she says she does?  By this definition of atheism, you'd be forced to assume that her claims of love do not exist.  Because love is something of a higher power that cannot be evidenced with physical proof.

I honestly don't know what "atheist" means myself.  I don't even know if I can correctly classify myself as such.  See, I wasn't "enlightened" or "converted" into believing that god and everything attached doesn't exist. 

My mother didn't install *any* beliefs into me.  I was pretty much left to think for and by myself.  Looking back, she was semi-neglectful.  No church pressure, and yes, I did do the Christian thing for a period.  I just reasonably and rationally thought it out one night, and drew the conclusion that it's all a hoax and a tool of manipulation.  The most classic form of extortion, if you will.   As such, I do not believe in any of it.  Does that make me an atheist?

Additionally, I appreciate the novelty of religion.  In fact, I'm most likely attending a service on Christmas Eve at 10:PM at the Church in my community.  For many reasons.  Mostly because a woman I respect and like runs the Church.  Many of my friends get together and do various projects at the Church, and to help the Church and my community, and of the group - I am not the only non-subscriver to religion.  While I do not subscribe to it, I also don't feel the need to attack it neccesarily.  I would be attending this service as a novelty and not as a fellow parishoner.  I will go through the entire thing and probably not feel an urge to stand up and protest to what they're saying about god, jesus, the holy spririt and all that shit.

Sorry I'm a bit rambly tonight.  I just have one serious question:  Does being a *true* atheist mean that you have to *hate* religion? 

Every step I took in faith betrayed me

-Sarah McLachlan


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TakeCashToChurch Not at

TakeCashToChurch

Not at all. The thing about that is that you CHOOSE to be there. You're there, taking in the experience in a place meant for religion. Of course you don't want to protest, you wanted to go...
It wasn't a large number of people at your work/school/home/public trying to convert you or make you feel BAD for not believing in fairy tales.

I don't hate religion. No more than I hate imaginary friends. I will laugh at kids who have imaginary friends, but I don't hate them. Well, no more than I already hate kids. ROTF

What I do hate is what it does to people, and when people bring it out in the public square.
I like a lot of the mythology in MANY religions, and I like to draw religiously themed pictures. They're good stories. Intrigue, scandal, love.

I don't think an atheist should hate religion. I do think, however, that an atheist should have a healthy respect for the damage it can do to people's lives and relationships with their fellow humans. 


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TakeCashToChurch

TakeCashToChurch wrote:

Quote:
people are bringing different definitions of "atheism" to the table.

I find this to be 100% correct.  I don't agree with "lack of belief" to be a proper definition of atheism.

*Nobody* has a *lack* of belief.  Even as an atheist, you have to at least be able to believe in things you can't see.  Believe in god?  No.  But do you believe that your girlfriend loves you like she says she does?  By this definition of atheism, you'd be forced to assume that her claims of love do not exist.  Because love is something of a higher power that cannot be evidenced with physical proof.

No one is claiming that atheists lack all belief.  This is, as you have pointed out, impossible.  The term atheist refers to a person's position on the specific question "is there a god?".  There are even atheists who hold unfounded, faith-based beliefs in other supernatural phenomena like esp and astrology (thought they are rare). 

Don't forget there are two different kinds of faith:  contingent faith and theistic faith.  Contingent faith says "i believe x, unless shown otherwise".  Theistic faith says "I believe x, no matter what".  Everyone uses contingent faith because we cannot function if we don't take certain things for granted.  Most atheists reject theistic faith, but even that is not a prerequisite to be called an atheist (though it may be a prerequiste to be called a consistent atheist).  

TakeCashToChurch wrote:
I honestly don't know what "atheist" means myself.  I don't even know if I can correctly classify myself as such.  See, I wasn't "enlightened" or "converted" into believing that god and everything attached doesn't exist. 

You don't need to be.  All you need is to lack a positive belief in a god.

TakeCashToChurch wrote:
My mother didn't install *any* beliefs into me.  I was pretty much left to think for and by myself.  Looking back, she was semi-neglectful.  No church pressure, and yes, I did do the Christian thing for a period.  I just reasonably and rationally thought it out one night, and drew the conclusion that it's all a hoax and a tool of manipulation.  The most classic form of extortion, if you will.   As such, I do not believe in any of it.  Does that make me an atheist?

 Absolutely, yes.

TakeCashToChurch wrote:
 

Additionally, I appreciate the novelty of religion.  In fact, I'm most likely attending a service on Christmas Eve at 10:PM at the Church in my community.  For many reasons.  Mostly because a woman I respect and like runs the Church.  Many of my friends get together and do various projects at the Church, and to help the Church and my community, and of the group - I am not the only non-subscriver to religion.  While I do not subscribe to it, I also don't feel the need to attack it neccesarily.  I would be attending this service as a novelty and not as a fellow parishoner.  I will go through the entire thing and probably not feel an urge to stand up and protest to what they're saying about god, jesus, the holy spririt and all that shit.

Sorry I'm a bit rambly tonight.  I just have one serious question:  Does being a *true* atheist mean that you have to *hate* religion? 

No you certainly don't.  I myself was married in a united church and one of my best friends is an anglican (episcopalian for you yankees) priest.  My take on it is that since I don't believe in any of this stuff, it's no skin off my rear to go along with it if it serves some other purpose. 

My issues with religion revolve around its influence on politics and society, not with the beliefs and worship itself.  As far as I'm concerned, people can believe and do what they want in the privacy of their own homes and churches.  It's when they try to use those beliefs as justification to make public policy for everyone else, or as a justification to abuse and oppress others, that I start to hate religion.  

Lazy is a word we use when someone isn't doing what we want them to do.
- Dr. Joy Brown


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Thank you both very much

Thank you both very much for your responses. I appreciate that. Of course, I have questions. I've never found myself in an environment where I could discuss faith, and my lack of it. It's frightening how upset people get when it comes up, and they ask me, and I tell them. I lost a few family members over it, and my response was: You just shunned *me* over your god. Do you realize that? You tell me that god is about love and all that shit, and now you hate me, not because I've done something to you, but on that lord of your's behalf.

It's kinda nice to be able to say this an not get my shit spray-painted or busted up. 

Every step I took in faith betrayed me

-Sarah McLachlan


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ShaunPhilly wrote:  

ShaunPhilly wrote:

 

Problems with definitions is an issue. Why not use the definition atheists use; lack of belief?

In my experience, the common definition for atheism is not a lack of belief, for the atheist does believe whole-heartedly that there is no such thing as god. I suppose if we coin the term "antitheist" to refer to that kind of person and reserve "atheist" for anyone whose belief is something other than theism, then I would consider myself an atheist. 
The only problem is that, by that definition, a deist is an atheist, which runs counter to my thinking and, I would suspect, the thinking of most people here.
Mysteries abound...


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rackitycoon wrote: In my

rackitycoon wrote:

In my experience, the common definition for atheism is not a lack of belief, for the atheist does believe whole-heartedly that there is no such thing as god. I suppose if we coin the term "antitheist" to refer to that kind of person and reserve "atheist" for anyone whose belief is something other than theism, then I would consider myself an atheist. 

The only problem is that, by that definition, a deist is an atheist, which runs counter to my thinking and, I would suspect, the thinking of most people here.Mysteries abound...

We already have a term (strong atheist) for an atheist who hold a positive belief that there is no god.  Before that, anyone who LACKS a positive belief in A god is an atheist.

This means deists are not atheists, since they do belief in a god, just not one described by any church.

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TakeCashToChurch wrote: I

TakeCashToChurch wrote:

I have to say...  BRAVO!

Aw shucks!

Quote:

My mother didn't install *any* beliefs into me.  I was pretty much left to think for and by myself. 

I'm kind of in the same boat. I was never taken to church until about the time I was in junior high school. I remember just sitting there in Sunday school thinking "Huh?" while everyone else was agreeing with what they, apparently, had heard all their lives.


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Agnostics are only fooling themselves

It must be frustrating being an agnostic ! They are living a life of self-contradiction.  If you ever encounter one of these poor souls, just be prepared for one hellova roller coaster ride up and down the road of illogical and irrational nonsense.  

I am an atheist because I do not believe in any Gods or anything related to the imaginary subjective supernatural realm that does not exist outside the mind. -- NotSaved


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notsaved wrote:It must be

notsaved wrote:

It must be frustrating being an agnostic ! They are living a life of self-contradiction.  If you ever encounter one of these poor souls, just be prepared for one hellova roller coaster ride up and down the road of illogical and irrational nonsense.  

You are going to revive a thread more than 4 years old just to peddle the exact error that was debunked in the thread?   

An agnostic is a position about knowledge. I am an agnostic atheist. 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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 like wise, that makes two

 like wise, that makes two agnostics you just met.  How are you today? Care for a ride on the roller coaster?

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notsaved wrote:It must be

notsaved wrote:

It must be frustrating being an agnostic ! They are living a life of self-contradiction.  If you ever encounter one of these poor souls, just be prepared for one hellova roller coaster ride up and down the road of illogical and irrational nonsense.  

What? I'm agnostic about planets orbiting Alpha Centari. I'm agnostic about life on planets other than earth too. I'm agnostic about a great number of things. I do not deny their existence simply because I don't know... this is the sort of agnosticism I would hope that atheists who call themselves "agnostic" embrace -- that is until there is evidence for the existence of a deity, then they are agnostic on the matter.

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butterbattle wrote:notsaved

butterbattle wrote:

notsaved wrote:

It must be frustrating being an agnostic ! They are living a life of self-contradiction.  If you ever encounter one of these poor souls, just be prepared for one hellova roller coaster ride up and down the road of illogical and irrational nonsense.  

You are going to revive a thread more than 4 years old just to peddle the exact error that was debunked in the thread?   

An agnostic is a position about knowledge. I am an agnostic atheist. 

Wow, what a joke you are living !  An atheist who claims to be an agnostic as well !  That's really funny. You really bought into the agnostic con game big time pal. 

I had no idea this thread was this old.  I was searching the net for some discussions on this topic and I got steered in this direction.  So don't get your nose out of joint so much eh. 

 

I am an atheist because I do not believe in any Gods or anything related to the imaginary subjective supernatural realm that does not exist outside the mind. -- NotSaved


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notsaved wrote:Wow, what a

notsaved wrote:
Wow, what a joke you are living !

It is a not a joke.

notsaved wrote:
An atheist who claims to be an agnostic as well !

I don't just "claim" to be an agnostic. I AM an agnostic i.e. someone who holds that the existence of god(s) in general is unknowable, as in, you can never be 100% certain. It is defined in such a way that I fit the definition. You want to argue against something that is definitively true? 

notsaved wrote:
That's really funny. You really bought into the agnostic con game big time pal.

There is no "con game." You are just employing strawmen. It's semantics; you are ignorant. 

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, | As I foretold you, were all spirits, and | Are melted into air, into thin air; | And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, | The cloud-capped towers, the gorgeous palaces, | The solemn temples, the great globe itself, - Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve, | And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, | Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff | As dreams are made on, and our little life | Is rounded with a sleep. - Shakespeare


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notsaved wrote: 

notsaved wrote:

 

butterbattle wrote:

An agnostic is a position about knowledge. I am an agnostic atheist. 

 An atheist who claims to be an agnostic as well !   

You are simply using your (mis)interpretation of 'agnostic' to create a logical fallacy (strawman), and use that as a basis for (non)argument.

Dictionary definition of gnostic:

 

Gnostic

–adjective Also, gnos·ti·cal.
 
1. pertaining to knowledge.
2. possessing knowledge, especially esoteric knowledge of spiritual matters.
3. ( initial capital letter ) pertaining to or characteristic of the Gnostics.

–noun
4. ( initial capital letter ) a member of any of certain sects among the early Christians who
claimed to have superior knowledge of spiritual matters, and explained the world as created by powers or agencies arising as emanations from the Godhead.

 

One is who NOT a gnostic, (a non gnostic) is AGNOSTIC.

notsaved wrote:
  Wow, what a joke you are living ! 

The joke is that you are asserting a fallacy, and are convinced it's a reality, and mocking people who have the correct understanding of the term.

In very clinical terms, you are living a joke, and you are an actual joke.

notsaved wrote:
That's really funny. You really bought into the agnostic con game big time pal.

The irony is, that you've managed to fool yourself into believing you're correct, by simply putting too much faith in yourself.

AKA: Hubris

 

Look it up.

 

 

No thanks necessary...

 

Regards,

 redneF  agnostic/atheist

 

 

 

I keep asking myself " Are they just playin' stupid, or are they just plain stupid?..."

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Other problems with Agnosticism

I think there are other problems with agnosticism not mentioned in the original post.

For one thing, agnosticism suggests that because we cannot know if god exists or not, there is at least a 50/50 chance either way. "Either God exists or he doesn't". However, just because a thing cannot be proven to not exist, it does not  give 50/50 odds of existing. Take Russell's "Tea Pot"...we cannot prove that there is or is not a Tea Pot orbiting Mars...that does not therefore mean that it is rational to suggest that there may be a Tea Pot orbiting Mars. Knowing what we know about tea pots and their tendancy not to be floating around space, it is rational to suggest that the probability of one orbiting Mars is so incredibly low as to safely say there isn't one, proof or not. Sure, some agnostics deny a 50/50 chance and say that even on a sliding scale of probabilty, god may be a 0.00000000000000000000000000000001 odd, but that is "still a chance". However, if it were rational to not commit to anything with any fraction of rational odds, one would never be able to walk outside for fear of being hit by a meteor while wearing a green shirt on a rainy tuesday. I think the odds of god existing are so low as to make atheism a very safe position.

 

The same applies to anything that cannot be proven or disproven, such as the existence of the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus or a purple unicorn named Kenneth. There is a rational sliding scale of probability that agnostics do not take into account. A true agnostic should therefore reject claims that the Tooth Fairy does not exist, and should assert that there may be actually dinnerware in orbit around Mars..yet that seems absurd. So why suggest that god still has a chance?

 

 

 

 

 


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I hate the word "agnostic"

I hate the word "agnostic" as it is popularly defined. It was cobbled together by Thomas Huxley and was really to me a cop out to not take a position either way.

The truth is one either thinks their might be and leans to the on position, or they think it is all bullshit and lean to the off position even if neither side "knows"

Knowing the prefix root and suffix root of the word helps clarify how it should be used.

"a" means without "gnostic" means knowledge. It does NOT address what the person is without knowledge of. So to take the word literally as we should, the proper definition of "agnostic" has to be placed in front of theist or atheist to make sense.

An agnostic theist, is what is commonly and mistakenly used as "agnostic". The agnostic is really, most of the time a person who leans to the on position but doesn't know for sure. The other word used to describe this position is "deist". This is a person who thinks their is a god but will not assign a name, label or attributes to it.

BUT, you can also be an agnostic atheist. You can admit that "you don't know" AND at the same time lean to it all being bullshit.

That is because "agnostic" in reality is a qualifying word and not a position itself.

You can think of "agnostic" like the dimmer switch on a light. The light can be brighter or dimmer but it cannot be on and off at the same time.

 

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 This is all like the hot

 This is all like the hot thread to bump after a while.  What was Pineapple saying about 5 year old threads?  Someone has not only found it in a search, but decided to post (several times).  

 

Here's my take on agnostic and atheist: Am I Agnostic or Atheist?

 

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PWNN wrote:I think there are

PWNN wrote:

I think there are other problems with agnosticism not mentioned in the original post.

For one thing, agnosticism suggests that because we cannot know if god exists or not, there is at least a 50/50 chance either way. "Either God exists or he doesn't". However, just because a thing cannot be proven to not exist, it does not  give 50/50 odds of existing. Take Russell's "Tea Pot"...we cannot prove that there is or is not a Tea Pot orbiting Mars...that does not therefore mean that it is rational to suggest that there may be a Tea Pot orbiting Mars. Knowing what we know about tea pots and their tendancy not to be floating around space, it is rational to suggest that the probability of one orbiting Mars is so incredibly low as to safely say there isn't one, proof or not. Sure, some agnostics deny a 50/50 chance and say that even on a sliding scale of probabilty, god may be a 0.00000000000000000000000000000001 odd, but that is "still a chance". However, if it were rational to not commit to anything with any fraction of rational odds, one would never be able to walk outside for fear of being hit by a meteor while wearing a green shirt on a rainy tuesday. I think the odds of god existing are so low as to make atheism a very safe position.

 

The same applies to anything that cannot be proven or disproven, such as the existence of the Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus or a purple unicorn named Kenneth. There is a rational sliding scale of probability that agnostics do not take into account. A true agnostic should therefore reject claims that the Tooth Fairy does not exist, and should assert that there may be actually dinnerware in orbit around Mars..yet that seems absurd. So why suggest that god still has a chance?

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Joined: 2006-12-25
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This is the first time I've

This is the first time I've seen a thread revived that predates my participation here.

Proud Canadian, Enlightened Atheist, Gaming God.