Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

I thought this post might be relevant to this specific forum subsection: Atheist vs. Theist.

Some atheists treat atheism as a belief-system. Some atheists *believe* that no god exists (hard Atheism), others have *no beliefs* about the existence or non-existence of god (agnostic atheism). This presents a problem with the term "atheism" because it has several meanings. For these reasons, and more, I do not use the term. 'Non-believer,' on the other hand, not only covers atheism but all forms of superstitions (and, in fact, all beliefs).

Given that even some proclaimed Atheists, like Brian Flemming, admit to not liking the usage of labels, why not simply use the descriptive term non-believer instead of variable meaning words like atheist, or the limited-to-theology term, non-theist? Non-belief covers not only, non-theism, but non-ufoism, non-superstitious, and many other non-beliefs that surely most atheists have no beliefs in at all. One can own no beliefs about anything while still having thoughts about anything. Provisional knowledge trumps belief in every case, it seems to me.

There simply is no reason to own any beliefs at all. I present a very simple observation at the limits of ignorance and knowledge: If you don't know about something and you submit it to nothing but belief, it will likely prove false; if you know about something, then you don't need to believe it, because you know it. Between ignorance and knowledge you have the uncertainties about the world, and the best way to handle uncertainties involves thinking in terms of probabilities. So what use does belief have?


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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

I think 'atheist' covers both forms of atheism very well, when you look at the meaning of the word... 'agnostic atheist' is a term that should not be used since every atheist, indeed every person on the face of the earth, is esentially an agnostic: no-one has knowledge(gnosis) that any deity exists.

If I say 'I am an atheist' then anyone would take it as: 'I am without theistic belief' (similar to non-theist) if I am talking of strong/positive atheism and I want someone to know this, I would say: ' I believe that no god/gods exist'. On the other hand, if I am talking about weak/negative atheism, I would simply say: 'I don't believe in god/gods'.

I think that it is okay to believe something based on probability:
I don't believe in immortality,
I don't believe in the supernatural,
BUT
I believe in the essential goodness of man,
I believe in the healing powers of beer,
I believe that God does not exist.

Finally, I think atheism is a very good word, but the people who call themselves atheists will determine what the word means. As soon as I get the chance, in any relevant conversation, I say:

'I am an atheist'


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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

the_avenging_bucket wrote:
'agnostic atheist' is a term that should not be used since every atheist, indeed every person on the face of the earth, is esentially an agnostic: no-one has knowledge(gnosis) that any deity exists.

Well I personally don't like to use the two words agnostic and atheist together. They are two words with completely different meanings in my opinion. For me agnostic is having no beleif in god but a a beleif in the poosibilty of god, atheist on the other hand is not having even a belief in the possibility of god.

I would consider myself agnostic.

"Hey Father Jeff Jesus was a JEW!"~me


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hi Jonathan- being agnostic means that you have no knowledge of the existence of God/any gods.

if someone asks you: 'Do you believe in God?' and you say: 'i am an agnostic' you are essentially saying 'i have no knowledge of the existence of God' But this does not answer the question.

You either believe, or you don't.

if you do not believe in god but accept that his existance is possible, you are still, by definition, an atheist (weak/negative atheism).

check out the wikipedia definitions Eye-wink

regards, Jan Kritzinger


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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

The problem here is belief. There is just no reason to own any beliefs at all. Instead of owning beliefs, we can utilize hypothesis, theory, and models to make predictions about things in the world.

Either I don't know, I have a guess (a hypothesis), or I know (with relatively high probability). Nowhere do I require the ownership of a belief or absolutes (and if you think about it, only a believer could pretend to know about absolutes, something not even in principle testable for mortal humans). If you know something, there is just no reason to believe in it.


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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

QueefsR4Quitters wrote:
, or I know (with relatively high probability).

see thats the problem- knowing is absolute!
you can't know 'with relatively high probability'

for example:
'i know i have a pencil in my hand' (certainty)
'i believe that God does not exist' (even though the probability is very high, it is not a certainty, not an absolute truth, but by saying 'i believe' is the same as saying: it is my opinion that God does not exist, even though i can't prove it)

basically i do own the belief that nothing supernatural exists.


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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

the_avenging_bucket wrote:

I think 'atheist' covers both forms of atheism very well, when you look at the meaning of the word... 'agnostic atheist' is a term that should not be used since every atheist, indeed every person on the face of the earth, is esentially an agnostic: no-one has knowledge(gnosis) that any deity exists.

While I completely agree, I personally don't label people agnostic if they can't embrace their own absence of knowledge on the issue. Some people go so far as to say they know for sure, they they are correct in their belief or lack thereof. Yes, sure you and I know that they are agnostic, but they aren't willing to accept it, maybe even after an explanation of it's true meaning. Therefore, I don't mind seeing the "agnostic" qualifier used to describe someones atheism or theism. Afterall, using this qualifier helps people who think that they can be an agnostic without being an atheist or theist to see that they need to do a little research. Hearing someone is an agnostic atheist, as an "agnostic" makes you wonder, what the hell are you talking about... it piques your curiousity, and hopefully your thirst for knowledge. Everyone on Earth is either atheist or theist, many Americans claiming the title "agnostic" exclusively are unaware of this fact.

johnathanrobertclark wrote:
the_avenging_bucket wrote:
'agnostic atheist' is a term that should not be used since every atheist, indeed every person on the face of the earth, is esentially an agnostic: no-one has knowledge(gnosis) that any deity exists.

Well I personally don't like to use the two words agnostic and atheist together. They are two words with completely different meanings in my opinion. For me agnostic is having no beleif in god but a a beleif in the poosibilty of god, atheist on the other hand is not having even a belief in the possibility of god.

I would consider myself agnostic.

Jonathan, agnosticism pertains to knowledge not belief. Check out this great article that might shed some light: http://www.rationalresponders.com/modules.php?name=Content&pa=showpage&pid=5

Jonathan, do you have a positive belief in a God, or are you absent of that positive belief?

- Brian Sapient


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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

Sapient wrote:
Jonathan, do you have a positive belief in a God, or are you absent of that positive belief?

Actually it's Stephen but, to answer your question I will have no Actual belief in god until without a shadow of a doubt god exists.

"Hey Father Jeff Jesus was a JEW!"~me


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Congrats Stephen... that means(technically) u are an atheist Smiling
but like Sapient said is okay to call urself an agnostic...

but i think it would be better if we had as many people calling themselves atheists as possible.


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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

the_avenging_bucket wrote:
Congrats Stephen... that means(technically) u are an atheist Smiling
but like Sapient said is okay to call urself an agnostic...

but i think it would be better if we had as many people calling themselves atheists as possible.

Personally I wouldn't care, I only care to call myself atheist because I believe a concerted effort was made by theists to break agnostics and atheists into two groups to marginalize them and make them look smaller. It is for that reason, and that reason alone that I think agnostics without positive belief (Stephen) should not only state that they are agnostic atheist, but they should also correct everyone in the room who makes ridiculous comments like "So you worship the devil?" or "So you know for sure God doesn't exist?"

And yes, I echo avenging buckets sentiments of course, Stephen, without belief of God you are an atheist, this doesn't mean you're not agnostic as well, apparently you are (like everyone else on the Rational Response Squad).

- Brian Sapient


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Re: Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

QueefsR4Quitters wrote:
I thought this post might be relevant to this specific forum subsection: Atheist vs. Theist.

There simply is no reason to own any beliefs at all. I present a very simple observation at the limits of ignorance and knowledge: If you don't know about something and you submit it to nothing but belief, it will likely prove false;

I think there's a difference between "belief" and "nothing but belief". For example, when I get on a plane, I believe the plane won't crash. When I eat food, I believe I won't get food poisoning. When I go to bed, I believe I will wake up in the morning. I don't know any of these things for certain, but I wouldn't say that they are based on "nothing but belief", nor will they likely prove false.

A belief that is based on "nothing but belief" may well prove false, but I think that most beliefs aren't this blind. Most beliefs have some kind of logic behind them.

Quote:
if you know about something, then you don't need to believe it, because you know it. Between ignorance and knowledge you have the uncertainties about the world, and the best way to handle uncertainties involves thinking in terms of probabilities. So what use does belief have?

I would say that belief is a good and rational response to uncertainties. When I got married, I couldn't be certain that I was making the right decision for my life. There was no way to put it "in terms of probabilities", but I believed that I was making the right decision, so I went through with it - and, yes, it was the right decision for my life (at least most days). I would say that without belief, we can be paralyzed into inaction, since we can't always determine the probabilities. Maybe a decision will work out and maybe it won't, but belief that a certain decision will benefit you helps you make that decision.

David


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Re: Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

KingDavid8 wrote:

I think there's a difference between "belief" and "nothing but belief". For example, when I get on a plane, I believe the plane won't crash. When I eat food, I believe I won't get food poisoning. When I go to bed, I believe I will wake up in the morning. I don't know any of these things for certain, but I wouldn't say that they are based on "nothing but belief", nor will they likely prove false.

While I agree that the beliefs you reference are based on more than "nothing but beliefs" and are beliefs, a term I like to affix to these types of beliefs so theist don't get confused is "reasonable expectation."

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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

What about skeptic? Discussions with theists rarely remain firmly planted on the existence or non-existence of God or gods. Peripheral issues come into play, like whether or not Jesus existed, creationism vs. evolution, and the concept of absolutism with regard to morality.

I find that skeptic is much more useful when I choose to label myself. Of course, even skepticism has problems unless it?s defined early in the discussion. On MySpace I make mention of the fact that I've been called a cynic on a number of occasions. I've also had to inform people that I'm not referring to philosophical skepticism.

I think part of the problem is that no matter how we label ourselves, we?re always going to be on the defensive because such a large majority of human beings believe in God or gods. We are always going to be misunderstood, and I don?t know if there?s a way to get around that. We can quibble over the usefulness of a word like atheism, but is it going to have a profound effect on the more important debate?


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Re: Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

Sapient wrote:
KingDavid8 wrote:

I think there's a difference between "belief" and "nothing but belief". For example, when I get on a plane, I believe the plane won't crash. When I eat food, I believe I won't get food poisoning. When I go to bed, I believe I will wake up in the morning. I don't know any of these things for certain, but I wouldn't say that they are based on "nothing but belief", nor will they likely prove false.

While I agree that the beliefs you reference are based on more than "nothing but beliefs" and are beliefs, a term I like to affix to these types of beliefs so theist don't get confused is "reasonable expectation."

Though I'd say most beliefs involve "reasonable expectation", at least to the one who is believing it. You don't find many people involved in a religion that they're logically convinced is untrue.

David


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Re: Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

KingDavid8 wrote:

You don't find many people involved in a religion that they're logically convinced is untrue.

Which would lead us to willful ignorance. In all cases they're choosing to either ignore certain parts of reality so that their beliefs seem logical, or they are being dishonest with themselves, or both. It would be as if you got on that plane with certainty that it wouldn't crash. That type of belief requires ignorance, dishonesty, or both.

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KingDavid8
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Re: Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

Sapient wrote:
KingDavid8 wrote:

You don't find many people involved in a religion that they're logically convinced is untrue.

Which would lead us to willful ignorance. In all cases they're choosing to either ignore certain parts of reality so that their beliefs seem logical, or they are being dishonest with themselves, or both. It would be as if you got on that plane with certainty that it wouldn't crash. That type of belief requires ignorance, dishonesty, or both.

All you seem to be saying is that claiming certainty when you merely have belief is ignorant and/or dishonest, which I would agree with. But claiming belief when you have belief is not.

For example, I cannot say that I am 100% convinced that Jesus was resurrected. I'm maybe 85-90% convinced, and that's certainly enough for me to believe that it happened. If I said "I'm absolutely certain it happened", then I'm lying to you or to myself. If, hypothetically, I was only 5% convinced, meaning I was almost certain it DIDN'T happen, then my claiming "belief" in the resurrection would be ignorant and/or dishonest.

But anyone who is of any faith (Christian, Muslim, Pagan, or whatever) is probably more than half convinced that their faith is true. I don't see them as being automatically dishonest, ignorant, or ignoring any parts of reality. Maybe in some individual cases, but not as a whole.

David


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Eliminating the ownership of beliefs.

Quote:
I think there's a difference between "belief" and "nothing but belief". For example, when I get on a plane, I believe the plane won't crash. When I eat food, I believe I won't get food poisoning. When I go to bed, I believe I will wake up in the morning. I don't know any of these things for certain, but I wouldn't say that they are based on "nothing but belief", nor will they likely prove false.

You seem to be confused here. I get reminded of Plato's fictional character Glaucon who created his very own definition for selfishness to mean 'doing what you want to do' or 'acting on your own desires' and then claiming that everyone is selfish because everyone acts on their own accord.

Certainly not everything is going to be known, but that doesn't mean that you then have to hold on to a 'belief'. This is just the type of error Glaucon committed. First you must understand what a belief actually is. After, you can then avoid strawman arguments.

What you are acting on is 'speculation'. If I were to say, "I believe it will rain tonight" you can simply replace that with "I think it will rain tonight." Most simple beliefs come from the expression of the experience of external events. From past experience, for example, people believe that dark clouds can produce rain, therefore, we attempt to predict the weather by forecasting from past events. Note that in most instances, one can replace the word "believe" with the word "think".

Indeed, the intent of most beliefs aim at predicting the future in some form or another. However, to believe that an event will occur can produce disappointment if the prediction never happens.* To make a prediction based on past events alone does not require believing in the future event, but rather, a good guess as to what may or may not happen. Belief represents a type of conscious mental thought, a subclass of many kinds of mental activity. Thinking may or may not include beliefs or faiths. Therefore, when I use the word "think" I mean it to represent thought absent of belief.

Many a believer, religious and atheist alike, will become astonished at any statement against belief, if for no other reason because they believe and the people around them have beliefs. They tend to form a belief-of-its-own that projects beliefs onto others. However, simply because most people own beliefs does not necessarily follow that all people require the concept of belief. To claim the knowledge that everyone on earth believes in something portends an astonishing proclamation. It would require an omniscient ability to see into the minds of every human on earth. Many people fail to understand that belief requires conscious acceptance. People who own beliefs (unless they lie) do not deny them. Quite the contrary, people who believe, admit their beliefs quite readily. Furthermore, few people stop to ask what we mean by beliefs or understand that one can replace belief with other forms of "thinking."

*Footnote: This particular sentence reminds me of 'believing in yourself' which I submit is a total crock of shit. I don't believe in myself. I *know* myself. I have observed that most people who claim they believe in themselves deceive themselves. For example, look at all the disappointed people who audition for American Idol. Anything fits into a belief, including superstitions and false expectations. As a result, they hurt themselves when they discover that they really don't know themselves. Knowledge always trumps belief. Laughing out loud