I'm agnostic not atheist.

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I'm agnostic not atheist.

I am an agnostic not an atheist. From your comments and video, you clearly lack an understanding of what an agnostic is. Just as I don't believe there is a God, I don't believe there isn't a God either. Here's a definition of what an atheist is, as is roughly used by most English dictionaries:

"A person who positively believes that no God(s) or Goddess(es) exists" See a contradiction between my beliefs and atheism? Of course.

And I object to having my views summed up as the 'I dunno' viewpoint. I have seen no proof for the existence or non-existence of a God, so I rationally reasoned to be an agnostic.


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Fire

Fire Legion,

A theist must have written you defination of what an atheist is (not uncommon). 

If you don't believe in God you are and atheist. A person who positively believes that no God exists is a "Positive Atheist"

 and they are quite rare. If you don't know God you are agnostic. I am agnostic - I don't know God and I am Atheist, I don't believe in God.

 

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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Yeah.  Check my entry on

Yeah.  Check my entry on your other post, fire.  I explained the distinction there.

Don't feel like we're attacking you.  We're definitely not.  If you feel like you'd rather say you're agnostic because of the stigma attached to atheism, join the club.  The fact is, religion has changed the meaning of atheism, and we're trying to help people understand what it really is.  It's very seldom a positive belief.  It's just what you describe... not believing something without proof.

According to the philosophical definition of agnosticism, it's quite possible to have extremely well organized thoughts and still "not know" so you'll catch no flack from me over it.  I'm technically also an agnostic since I don't know anything about god.  To the best of my knowledge, he doesn't exist, and you can't know anything about a non-existant being.

 

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Great approach you have

Great approach you have here, you read an article, refuse to grasp it and call others wrong (including the Oxford English Dictionary).  One might assume you don't want to be referred to as an atheist because the strong atheist position seems dogmatic to you, yet you illustate dogmatism in your first post. 

Fire Legion wrote:

I am an agnostic not an atheist. From your comments and video, you clearly lack an understanding of what an agnostic is.

No, most of America lacks an understanding of what agnostic is, you likely fell for it. 

Quote:
 Just as I don't believe there is a God, I don't believe there isn't a God either.

Yup same here.  And since I don't have a positive belief in a god, I'm a disbeliever (one without a belief).  Since the definition of atheism starts by saying "someone who disbelieves in god" then I am an atheist, and so are you.  It's ok, it's just a word, get over it, and fast because while you don't you are acting dogmatically irrational.

Quote:
Here's a definition of what an atheist is, as is roughly used by most English dictionaries:

"A person who positively believes that no God(s) or Goddess(es) exists" See a contradiction between my beliefs and atheism? Of course.

Yes, I've also never seen a single dictionary define it like that although some have come close.  Now here's a definition from a reputable dictionary (the most scholarly of the English language) not one that has been bastardized by Christian lies:

atheism Disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a god.

disbelieve 1. trans. Not to believe or credit; to refuse credence to: a. a statement or (alleged) fact: To reject the truth or reality of.

link

Quote:
And I object to having my views summed up as the 'I dunno' viewpoint. I have seen no proof for the existence or non-existence of a God, so I rationally reasoned to be an agnostic.

Agnosticism explicitly means lack of knowledge, if you object to having your viewpoints summed up as "I dunno" you should start by not being agnostic.

Root words:

a = without, lacking, absent of

gnosis= knowledge

You seem like a strong atheist in waiting, you're dogmatic and you don't want your views summed up as I dunno.  This will be my last response on this issue as I've no reason to believe you'll get it this time. From my experience the brainwashing that you've received on the definition of agnostic and atheist will last you much longer than your stay on this message board, which could end up being 30 posts of both sides saying the same thing.

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A supernatural being, by

A supernatural being, by defination exists outside the realm of reality, therefore nothing can be known about it. All one can do is make up beliefs about it.

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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Sapient wrote: No,

Sapient wrote:
No, most of America lacks an understanding of what agnostic is, you likely fell for it.

Good for most of America, I'm British.

Sapient wrote:
 Yup same here.  And since I don't have a positive belief in a god, I'm a disbeliever (one without a belief).  Since the definition of atheism starts by saying "someone who disbelieves in god" then I am an atheist, and so are you.

I don't 'disbelieve in God' as you put it. I have no positive or negative belief in a God. I think about it as a number line. All numbers above zero are theist. All numbers below zero are atheist. Thus zero is not atheist or theist, positive or negative.

Sapient wrote:
It's ok, it's just a word, get over it, and fast because while you don't you are acting dogmatically irrational.

I was not the one who brought up the whole 'agnostics are atheists' debate, you did. I was just defending my views against an attack on them.

Sapient wrote:
Yes, I've also never seen a single dictionary define it like that although some have come close.  Now here's a definition from a reputable dictionary (the most scholarly of the English language) not one that has been bastardized by Christian lies:

atheism Disbelief in, or denial of, the existence of a god.

disbelieve 1. trans. Not to believe or credit; to refuse credence to: a. a statement or (alleged) fact: To reject the truth or reality of.

 I don't disbelieve in God, or deny God. I just don't think that there's been any reasonable proof to be worthy of belief or disbelief.

Sapient wrote:
Agnosticism explicitly means lack of knowledge, if you object to having your viewpoints summed up as "I dunno" you should start by not being agnostic.

Root words:

a = without, lacking, absent of

gnosis= knowledge

 Ah, the old 'root word' argument. Many words have evolved beyond the roots, and many were never intended to be strongly linked to their roots at all.

Sapient wrote:
You seem like a strong atheist in waiting, you're dogmatic and you don't want your views summed up as I dunno.

Is it dogmatic to defend your views against attack? No. Does the fact that I don't want my views to be summed up as a confused lack of knowledge mean I will transform into a strong atheist? No. Your final summing up of me was as poorly thought out and incorrect as the rest of your post. 

[/quote=Sapient]This will be my last response on this issue as I've no reason to believe you'll get it this time. From my experience the brainwashing that you've received on the definition of agnostic and atheist will last you much longer than your stay on this message board, which could end up being 30 posts of both sides saying the same thing.

Look, I never intended this to turn in to a massive row, and I hope I end up being known for more than this silly debate over a word. Take from it what you like, I'll just call myself an agnostic and let you take from that what you want.


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"I don't disbelieve in God"

"I don't disbelieve in God" - firelegion

"I don't believe in God" - Firelegion

 Welcome to the world of not understanding what the word disbelieve means, or not being alive.   I stand on my first post, use that when refuting your second.

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Fire Legion wrote:I am an

Fire Legion wrote:

I am an agnostic not an atheist.

Touchy... touchy... well, let's see.

Quote:

From your comments and video, you clearly lack an understanding of what an agnostic is.

Well, so far, this is an empty assertion. And when we consider the error you're about to make (one that the very post you are responding to warns you about!), your ability to assess the situation correctly will come into question.

Quote:

Just as I don't believe there is a God, I don't believe there isn't a God either.

Smiling

You clearly didn't read the post you are responding to very well, as I have already dealt with this common error within that post. If you read it well and understood it, you could have avoided this error.

If you 'don't believe there isn't a god', then by double negation, (a basic proposition in propositional logic), it would follow that you believe in god!

Double Negation

P = ~ ~ P

Or, in layman's terms, 'Not disbelieving' is the same as believing.

Again, what makes your internal contradiction even more eggregious is that it was already addressed within the post you respond to...

From the post:

"A common response to hearing that one is an 'atheist' is for some to say: "But I don't disbelieve, I just don't believe!" But take a look at those words carefully: if you literally "don't disbelieve" - then, by double negation, you'd believe! Not disbelieving is believing. But you are not identifying yourself as a theist with doubts, right? You're identifying yourself as a doubter... period. This is atheism."

Quote:

Here's a definition of what an atheist is, as is roughly used by most English dictionaries:

Really? Which one? You don't cite it. Please cite your source.

And when doing so, consider this: Dictionaries exist to include definitions. They do not exist to provide rigorous philosophical justifications of the terms they include. Their job is to include an exhaustive list of possible uses for a word. This means that they must include colloquial definitions as well as philosophically correct ones.

 This means that the proper way to cite the dictionary in discussion is to provide the entire entry, along with your link. 

It also means that it's basic error in scholarship to lean on the dictionary as if it provided a rigorous philosophical justification for the usage you choose. 

Quote:

"A person who positively believes that no God(s) or Goddess(es) exists" See a contradiction between my beliefs and atheism? Of course.

Yes, because you purposely sought out a definition of atheism that equates with strong atheism. And yet the post you are responding to took great pains to delinate strong atheism from weak atheism!

If you actually cited your source, or bothered to fairly include the entire list of definitions (rather than just cherry pick the one that serves your needs), we might have been able to point out the more theologically appropriate term.

But we can't do that here, because you didn't bother to cite which dictionary you used, you didn't tell us which definition amongst the many listed you chose, you didn't tell us why you chose that one, instead of another.

In short, very sloppy scholarship all around.

So please, cite your dictionary source. Go on.

Here's how you do it:

Merriam Webster:

Main Entry: athe·ism ">
Pronunciation: 'A-thE-"i-z&m
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle French athéisme, from athée atheist, from Greek atheos godless, from a- + theos god
1 archaic : UNGODLINESS, WICKEDNESS
2 a : a disbelief in the existence of deity b : the doctrine that there is no deity

http://www.m-w.com/dictionary/atheism

Notice that I include all of the definitions. Take note of definition 1. Notice how dishonest it would be to rely on definiton 1.

Look at number 2. Look at the first definition there.

A disbelief in the exisentce of deity.

A-theism.

This is the definition used to describe non believers. They do not practice a doctrine of strong atheism, they merely don't believe.

I challenge you to cite your source.

Quote:

And I object to having my views summed up as the 'I dunno' viewpoint. I have seen no proof for the existence or non-existence of a God, so I rationally reasoned to be an agnostic.

Not a theist = weak atheist.

Please read more carefully in the future. You seem to be operating from a sense of being insulted, perhaps that is why you have responded so rashly...

 

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Fire Legion wrote:I don't

Fire Legion wrote:

I don't 'disbelieve in God' as you put it. I have no positive or negative belief in a God.

So then you aren't a theist. You don't accept the claims of theism. You are without theism.

If only there were a word , a simple word to denote not being a theist. Something brief... using a simple 'negation' term... like the letter 'a'.....

Quote:

I don't disbelieve in God, or deny God.I just don't think that there's been any reasonable proof to be worthy of belief or disbelief.

Right, you're not a theist. Nor are you a strong atheist.

You're in between. Weak atheism.

Sapient wrote:
Agnosticism explicitly means lack of knowledge, if you object to having your viewpoints summed up as "I dunno" you should start by not being agnostic.

Root words:

a = without, lacking, absent of

gnosis= knowledge

Quote:

Ah, the old 'root word' argument.

Many words have evolved beyond the roots,

Yes, and we can call some of these colloquial definitions. They have no necessary relation to how the original sense of the word relates to its original context; it's a basic error in scholarship to transport a newer meaning back to the original context. We call it a fallacy of equivocation.

So the fact that man words have evolved past their roots is a red herring, it has no relation to the fact that agnostic is defined in theology.

Quote:

and many were never intended to be strongly linked to their roots at all.

We know who created the word 'agnostic' and why he did i t.

Agnostic: The term 'agnostic' was coined by the 19th-century British positivist scientist Thomas H. Huxley He made up the word from the prefix a-, meaning "without, not," as in the word "amoral", and the noun "Gnostic". Gnostic is related to the Greek word gnosis, "knowledge," which was used by early Christian writers to mean "higher, esoteric knowledge of spiritual things"; hence, Gnostic referred to those with such knowledge. In coining the term agnostic, Huxley was considering as "Gnostics" a group of his fellow intellectuals-"ists," as he called them-who had eagerly embraced various doctrines or theories that explained the world to their satisfaction. (See aesthetics) Rejecting this Wordsworthian idealism, Huxley coined the term agnostic for himself, its first published use being in 1870.

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todangst wrote: If you

todangst wrote:

If you 'don't believe there isn't a god', then by double negation, (a basic proposition in propositional logic), it would follow that you believe in god!

Double Negation

P = ~ ~ P

incorrect.  Several languages, and even several English dialects (like african american english) use double negation to simply mean negation.  Propositional logic doesn't always map onto language like one would wish it would.  Moreover, even if you were correct, he would not believe THAT God exists, but rather he would think OF God that he exists...its the de re/de dicto distinction, are you familiar with it?  It's quite an important distinction, I think. 

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Chaoslord2004

Chaoslord2004 wrote:
todangst wrote:

If you 'don't believe there isn't a god', then by double negation, (a basic proposition in propositional logic), it would follow that you believe in god!

Double Negation

P = ~ ~ P

incorrect.

No, it's correct.

His words: "I don't believe there is a god, I don't believe there isn't a God either."

As per double negation, this would mean that he believes god exists!

Clearly this is not his intent. So the point was made to help him see the problem in this part of his claim.

Double negation is a tautology, Chaos. And it applies to this case.

Quote:

Several languages, and even several English dialects (like african american english) use double negation to simply mean negation.

So in other words, they don't actually intend to use double negation.

So they are not actually holding to ~~P logically. Their use of double negatives is for linguistic emphasis, not to actually employ ~~P.

So your words here have no bearing on the matter. You're obviously just keen on talking about some things you've learned in class on linguistis.

Quote:

Propositional logic doesn't always map onto language like one would wish it would.

Chaos, it maps perfectly in this instance:

His words: "I don't believe there is a god, (~P) I don't believe there isn't a God either. (~~P)"

And as per double negation, ~~P = P. Clearly, he's not intending to actually say he believes in god. What he intends to say is that he doesn't believe, nor does he rule out god as a possibility.

That is weak atheism.

Quote:
Moreover, even if you were correct, he would not believe THAT God exists, but rather he would think OF God that he exists...

His words: "I don't believe there is a god, I don't believe there isn't a God either."

As per double negation, the latter would read

"I believe there is a god"

He clearly does not intend to hold to that position. His actual ntent is to say 'I don't believe, but I don't rule it out."

And that is weak atheism.

QED

**************

Can you please share your college lessons in another thread from this point on? You're obviously eager to talk about linguistics, so please open up another thread and continue there if you like. Let's leave this thread to the subject matter, as it pertains to my essay.

 

 

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todangst wrote: No, it's

todangst wrote:
No, it's correct. Double negation is a tautology, Chaos.

I never disputed this.  However, the person used the double negation to simply mean negation.

 

todangst wrote:
And your comments on slang have no bearing on the matter.

Except im not talking about slang.  Im talking about a linguistic convention in several languages and dialects.

 

todangst wrote:
So in other words, they don't actually intend to use double negation.

but they are using double negation.  The difference, is that they mean something different than the mean given by propositional logic.  This was my point.

 

todangst wrote:
So they are not actually holding to ~~P logically. Their use of double negatives is for linguistic emphasis, not to actually employ ~~P.

The fellow wasn't using ~~P logically...he was using it to simply mean ~P.  Pointing out that P = ~~P in propositional logic was irrelevant, given that thats hot how it was being used. 

 

todangst wrote:

To make this even more clear, he clearly was not employing slang, because his intention was to claim that he didn't believe, and he didn't not believe.

The latter works out to ~~P , not a 'use of slang!"

Why are you talking about slang?  nowhere did I mention slang.

 

todangst wrote:
Chaos, he stated that he didn't believe that god doesn't exist. As per ~~P, which is equivalent to P, this works out to believing god exists.

In propositional logic, yes.  However, it doesn't work out that way, the way he was using it.  This was my point.

 

todangst wrote:
Can you please share your college lessons in another thread from this point on? You're obviously eager to talk about linguistics, so please open up another thread and continue there if you like. Let's leave this thread to the subject matter, as it pertains to my essay.

um, no.  I saw an falsehood, so I pointed it out.  Im not sure why your acting like a jerk to me.  Im not attacking you.  Just pointing something out.

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Chaoslord2004

Chaoslord2004 wrote:

todangst wrote:
No, it's correct. Double negation is a tautology, Chaos.

I never disputed this. However, the person used the double negation to simply mean negation.

No, he did not.

His words: "I don't believe there is a god, I don't believe there isn't a God either."

He said he didn't believe that there isn't a god. That is double negation.


todangst wrote:
And your comments on slang have no bearing on the matter.

Quote:

Except im not talking about slang. Im talking about a linguistic convention in several languages and dialects.

Except that that doesn't matter either. Again, it has no bearing on the matter as they do not intend to say ~~P.

So can you please stop posting this thread jacking info on linguistics, when it has no bearing here?

Quote:
The difference, is that they mean something different than the mean given by propositional logic.  This was my point.

And it has NO bearing on this matter. At all. Please start a linguisics thread.  

todangst wrote:
So in other words, they don't actually intend to use double negation.

Quote:

but they are using double negation.

So? They don't use it in the sense of ~~P, so your words have no bearing here.

todangst wrote:
So they are not actually holding to ~~P logically. Their use of double negatives is for linguistic emphasis, not to actually employ ~~P.

Quote:

The fellow wasn't using ~~P logically...he was using it to simply mean ~P.

His words: "I don't believe there is a god, I don't believe there isn't a God either."

This is ~P and ~~P

Let him respond how he wishes.

todangst wrote:
Chaos, he stated that he didn't believe that god doesn't exist. As per ~~P, which is equivalent to P, this works out to believing god exists.

Quote:

In propositional logic, yes. However, it doesn't work out that way, the way he was using it.

Yes, it does.

His words: "I don't believe there is a god, I don't believe there isn't a God either."

He said he didn't believe that there isn't a god. That is double negation.

todangst wrote:
Can you please share your college lessons in another thread from this point on? You're obviously eager to talk about linguistics, so please open up another thread and continue there if you like. Let's leave this thread to the subject matter, as it pertains to my essay.

 

Quote:

um, no. I saw an falsehood, so I pointed it out.

And you're wrong.  There is no falsehood, just your need to talk about linguistics. Can you please take this to another thread? Because you're not only wrong, you're off topic.

 

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We-ell...

This seems a little suspect to me.

Let's first stipulate that while it's nice to have a "bible" of the English language to fall back upon, like the OED, the truth is that words are defined by usage, and lecxicographers can only do their best to keep up and try to extract clarity from the muddle of actual language.

Regardless of how good your references are, you are not using these words in the sense that they are generally accepted, in America, at least.

What agnosticism seems to mean to most people is a sort of fence-sitting position; such people are simply unsure about their own beliefs with respect to god. You would deny these people a unique descriptor by claiming that the absence of belief makes them atheists; this is not a standard, accepted usage of the word.

Nor is it the form of atheism that is reflected by this site and its activities; those who remain undecided about the existence of god are unlikely to mount campaigns against god-belief.

It seems to me that it is more useful to speak of strong and weak atheism, and strong and weak agnosticism.

Strong agnosticism, I propose, is the best term for those who hold to a traditional philosophical agnosticism - the view that the truth about god's existence or lack thereof is not only unknown to them, but unknowable. A strong agnostic is one who claims it is impossible to know the truth or untruth of any assertion of god's existence.

A weak agnostic is the word I think best fits the average person labeling themselves as agnostic today. Such a person says nothing about whether others can reach a true belief about god's existence or lack thereof. They are merely saying that they themselves have not reached a decision about whether or not god exists.

A weak atheist isn't far removed from a weak agnostic; such an atheist believes that they don't have enough evidence to decide one way or the other about the truth or falsehood of god's alleged existence, but goes one step further. Such a person - perhaps because of a better-than-average understanding of logic, accepts that the default position in the face of absence of evidence supporting claims of god's existence should logically be unbelief. But that unbelief is - well - weak; it is a sort of provisional disbelief while awaiting more and better evidence - in one direction or the other.

(This is why you are quasi-correct in the sense that a weak agnostic needs only to apply the rules of logic - particularly Occam's Razor - to arrive at a weak atheistic position. However, I would contend that since a rigorous application of this principle, and of logic generally, would lead one directly to strong atheism, it seems unreasonable to me to try to convince people who've not done so to accept the atheist label.)

Finally we come to the strong atheism, which is where I would categorize myself, many others here, and the website itself as an entity. A strong atheist believes that there is, umm, strong (even overwhelming) evidence that gods are a human invention, and not anything that exists anywhere outside the imaginations of believers.

Even my beliefs are a little too complex to be fully captured in one word, and these 4 descriptors can only cover the ground of possible human approaches to belief in god very roughly.

-Aaron

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

You know it's a lie, it'll always be a lie

The invention of an animal who knows he's going to die

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todangst wrote: So can you

todangst wrote:
So can you please stop posting this thread jacking info on linguistics, when it has no bearing here?

Right, im just spouting off linguistic nonsense.  I like to do that, I like to just talk (or write in this instance) just so I can hear the sound of my own voice (or read my own writing).  I probably don't have a point...im just derailing a thread.  Nice way to brush me off.

Whats the title of the thread?  "Im agnostic not atheist."  Given that most people are not logically savy...and given the title of this thread, it is probable that when he used a double negative, he ment it as a merely a negative.  Oh dear, here I go spouting off irrelevant linguistic nonsense again...if only it had relevance.  It does, you misrepresented his position, which im sure was unintentianal.  And you claimed he believed something he probably didn't.

here is info on double negation usage:

Quote:

Double negative resolving to a negative

In today's standard English, double negatives are not used; for example the standard English equivalent of "I don't want nothing!" is "I don't want anything". It should, however, be noted that in standard English one cannot say "I don't want nothing!" to express the meaning "I want something!" unless there is very heavy stress on the "don't" or a specific plaintive stress on the "nothing".

Although they are not used in standard English, double negatives are used in various American English dialects, including African American Vernacular English, and the East London Cockney and East Anglian dialects and less frequently, but still commonly, in colloquial English. In the film Mary Poppins, Dick Van Dyke uses a double negative when he says

If you don't want to go nowhere.

Double negative is also famously used in the first two lines of the song "Another Brick in the Wall (part II)" included in the album The Wall by Pink Floyd, sung by schoolchildren

We don't need no education.
We don't need no thought control.

Other examples of double negatives include:

I ain't got nobody.

or

Don't nobody go to the store.

or

I can't hardly wait.

or the Faithless song "Insomnia"

I can't get no sleep.

or the "stinking badges" from The Treasure of the Sierra Madre

Badges? [pause] We ain't got no badges.[2]

Double negative also refers to even more than two negatives, like:

And don't nobody buy nothing.

It is common amongst children whenever mischief has occurred for them to say,

I didn't do nothing[citation needed]

Today, the double negative is often considered the mark of an uneducated speaker, but it used to be quite common in English, even in literature. Chaucer made extensive use of double negatives in his poetry, sometimes even using triple negatives. For example, he described the Friar in the Canterbury Tales: "Ther nas no man no wher so vertuous" (i.e. "there wasn't no man nowhere so virtuous&quotEye-wink, and he even used a fourfold negative when describing the Knight: "He nevere yet no vileynye ne sayde / In all his lyf unto no maner wight." Chaucer used these multiple negatives for emphasis and for metrical purposes.

how dare you accuse me derailing a thread or being off topic.  Am I in the habit of doing that?  Just because I pointed something out that you had wrong, doesn't mean I should just go away. 

 

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chaospump wrote: This

chaospump wrote:

This seems a little suspect to me.

Let's first stipulate that while it's nice to have a "bible" of the English language to fall back upon, like the OED, the truth is that words are defined by usage, and lecxicographers can only do their best to keep up and try to extract clarity from the muddle of actual language.

Regardless of how good your references are, you are not using these words in the sense that they are generally accepted, in America, at least.

What agnosticism seems to mean to most people is a sort of fence-sitting position; such people are simply unsure about their own beliefs with respect to god. You would deny these people a unique descriptor by claiming that the absence of belief makes them atheists; this is not a standard, accepted usage of the word.

It is a stanard usage of the word a-theism. Without theism.

And they do have a unique word to describe their position: atheism.

It is the strong atheist, the one who rejects god claims outright, that needs a special term.

Quote:

Nor is it the form of atheism that is reflected by this site and its activities; those who remain undecided about the existence of god are unlikely to mount campaigns against god-belief.

This is untrue. Many people here are weak atheists. The reason for their zeal is their concern about the dangers of organized religion, as well as the dangers of dogmatism.

Quote:

It seems to me that it is more useful to speak of strong and weak atheism, and strong and weak agnosticism.

I agree with the first part of your statement.

 

Quote:

Strong agnosticism, I propose, is the best term for those who hold to a traditional philosophical agnosticism - the view that the truth about god's existence or lack thereof is not only unknown to them, but unknowable.

This is simply 'agnosticism'. Agnosticism, as you imply here, is an epistemological term, related to 'god knowledge'. It has no bearing on belief, and a theist can be an agnostic theist.

Quote:

A weak agnostic is the word I think best fits the average person labeling themselves as agnostic today.

No. Weak atheist. Without theism. But without rejecting theism.


The matter pertains to one's position on theism. Whether one believes or not. It does NOT pertain to agnosticism or matters of epistemology.

So theism and atheism are the only words that make sense. I can't fathom why people are so up in arms over the word.... 

 


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Chaoslord2004

Chaoslord2004 wrote:

Right, im just spouting off linguistic nonsense. I like to do that, I like to just talk (or write in this instance) just so I can hear the sound of my own voice (or read my own writing).

I agree.

Quote:

Whats the title of the thread? "Im agnostic not atheist."

Right, a response to my essay. And you're off topic.

Quote:

Given that most people are not logically savy...and given the title of this thread, it is probable that when he used a double negative, he ment it as a merely a negative.

No, it is not probable. Again:

His words: "I don't believe there is a god, I don't believe there isn't a God either."

If in the second part he merely meant to say 'I don't believe in god' then why for fuck's sake would he actually say "I don't believe in god' just prior to it?

Because he obviously isn't using double negation to intend a single negation. He intended to rule out both P and ~P, and by doing some came to an absurdity!

But you can't actually rule out both P and ~P.

So you're points about linguistic usages have no bearing here. None. Zero. It has NO bearing here. 

Quote:

here is info on double negation usage:

For the 100th time, this has no bearing on the matter.

Quote:

how dare you accuse me derailing a thread or being off topic.

Yet you just did it again. You're derailing the thread, because your points on linguistic usages of double negative as intending single negatives have no bearing here, as has been pointed out numerous times.

 

 

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todangst wrote:I can't

todangst wrote:

I can't fathom why people are so up in arms over the word.... 

The negative stigma attached to the word.  People who are atheist and have been bred to believe something bad about atheists have a hard time accepting the word even after learning why it fits them. 

 

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Sapient wrote:todangst

Sapient wrote:

todangst wrote:

I can't fathom why people are so up in arms over the word....

The negative stigma attached to the word. People who are atheist and have been bred to believe something bad about atheists have a hard time accepting the word even after learning why it fits them.

 

Yes, some people appear to view the word as having some odious connotation.

But if you applied the concept of non belief to anything else, no one would balk.

 Do you believe in ghosts? No.

Do you believe in witches. No.

Do you believe in goblins. No.

Imagine I hold to these positions. Does this mean that I'm a bad person? Or that I am closed minded? Does it mean that I have a bias, or a prejudice?

Does it even mean that I wouldn't change my mind, if you gave me evidence?

No on all counts.

So it's pretty clear that it's the word and the connotations behind it, that set people off. Because you don't have too many goblin agnostics....

 

 

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todangst wrote: chaospump

todangst wrote:
chaospump wrote:

This seems a little suspect to me.

Let's first stipulate that while it's nice to have a "bible" of the English language to fall back upon, like the OED, the truth is that words are defined by usage, and lecxicographers can only do their best to keep up and try to extract clarity from the muddle of actual language.

Regardless of how good your references are, you are not using these words in the sense that they are generally accepted, in America, at least.

What agnosticism seems to mean to most people is a sort of fence-sitting position; such people are simply unsure about their own beliefs with respect to god. You would deny these people a unique descriptor by claiming that the absence of belief makes them atheists; this is not a standard, accepted usage of the word.

It is a stanard usage of the word a-theism. Without theism.

And they do have a unique word to describe their position: atheism.

It is the strong atheist, the one who rejects god claims outright, that needs a special term.

The vast majority of people mean a strong atheist when they use the word atheist. The vast majority of people mean something akin to my "weak agnostic" description when they use the word agnostic. This is what I mean by standard. You may prefer a different definition, and you may be correct in some narrow technical sense. But I predict you'll have little success convincing people who remain undecided about the existence of god that they are atheists, or convincing other people to refer to them with that word.

Quote:

Nor is it the form of atheism that is reflected by this site and its activities; those who remain undecided about the existence of god are unlikely to mount campaigns against god-belief.

This is untrue. Many people here are weak atheists. The reason for their zeal is their concern about the dangers of organized religion, as well as the dangers of dogmatism.

 

I'm not sure what you are calling untrue, here. Perhaps many here are weak atheists, but what I said is that many here are strong atheists, and that the site itself as an entity presents a strong atheist viewpoint, from the many references to strong atheist sources (Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are prominently displayed), to the t-shirt saying "Believe in God? We can fix that," and the entry listing theism as first among irrational precepts that should be eliminated from human thinking.

Sapient, if indeed most of the founders are agnostic atheists as you put it, I'm surprised that the tone of the website seems to be a strong atheist one as evidenced by the above.

Perhaps we need a thread in which the strong and weak (or agnostic, if you prefer) atheists go head-to-head here.

Quote:

It seems to me that it is more useful to speak of strong and weak atheism, and strong and weak agnosticism.

I agree with the first part of your statement.

Quote:

Strong agnosticism, I propose, is the best term for those who hold to a traditional philosophical agnosticism - the view that the truth about god's existence or lack thereof is not only unknown to them, but unknowable.

This is simply 'agnosticism'. Agnosticism, as you imply here, is an epistemological term, related to 'god knowledge'. It has no bearing on belief, and a theist can be an agnostic theist.

Again - I agree that this is the strict philosophical definition of agnosticism; but usage is changing - or has changed - the meaning of that word in American English.

Quote:

A weak agnostic is the word I think best fits the average person labeling themselves as agnostic today.

No. Weak atheist. Without theism. But without rejecting theism.


The matter pertains to one's position on theism. Whether one believes or not. It does NOT pertain to agnosticism or matters of epistemology.

So theism and atheism are the only words that make sense. I can't fathom why people are so up in arms over the word.... 

Well... I'm not up in arms about it; just having a discussion of terms. Certainly many people who consider themselves agnostic fear the stigma attached to the word "atheist."

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

You know it's a lie, it'll always be a lie

The invention of an animal who knows he's going to die

-Randy Newman


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chaospump wrote:  The

chaospump wrote:

 The vast majority of people mean a strong atheist when they use the word atheist.

And the vast majority of people believe there is an invisible man in the sky, do you accept that claim as well just because it's easier?

 

Quote:

many here are strong atheists

Can you name 5?  Out of the 5,000 members here, I can name one strong atheist.

Quote:

the site itself as an entity presents a strong atheist viewpoint, from the many references to strong atheist sources (Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins are prominently displayed), to the t-shirt saying "Believe in God? We can fix that," and the entry listing theism as first among irrational precepts that should be eliminated from human thinking.

Theism is irrational.  This doesn't mean I'm not a weak agnostic atheist.  Belief in a god is irrational TODAY, if someday someone provides reason to believe it'll no longer become irrational.  Belief that our solar system is actually comprised of two suns is irrational, should someone by chance find a sun lurking behind the moon, then it'll be rational to believe.  Sam Harris is a weak atheist, Dawkins too is a weak atheist.  The shirt says "Believe in God we can fix that" because we can help people overcome theistic belief which they shouldn't be holding without proof.  We are still weak atheists.  


Quote:

Certainly many people who consider themselves agnostic fear the stigma attached to the word "atheist."

Exactly.  There are a great many people who irrationally cling to god belief because they fear a hell.  We believe both theists and agnostics who can't admit to their atheism or theism are being irrational, and both need help.

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Sapient wrote: And the

Sapient wrote:

And the vast majority of people believe there is an invisible man in the sky, do you accept that claim as well just because it's easier?

Of course not. The truth or falsehood of statements about the physical universe is not determined democratically. The meanings of words are. We may wish to object to the word "silly" meaning something close to the opposite of its original meaning, or to the unjustified assumptions that converted the word "villain" from its original meaning of "peasant" or ""servant at a country house" - but to no avail.

Quote:

many here are strong atheists

Quote:

Can you name 5?  Out of the 5,000 members here, I can name one strong atheist.

It seems to me that in order to determine the "strength" of one's atheism, we must identify which god we are either refusing to believe in or actively believe is a purely conceptual construct. I have seen many arguments here that have portrayed the biblical Yahweh, for example, as clearly impossible - and in Judaeo-Christian-dominated cultures, I think that makes you pretty much indistinguishable from a strong atheist.

 I wonder at this delicacy that you and (if you are correct) virtually everyone here, and even Harris and Dawkins (though I've read plenty of both, and never got that impression about either - but I'll admit I could be wrong...) are exercising toward the concept of god. Are you agnostic with regard to the existence of the invisible pink unicorn and its ilk? How about Marduk, or Zeus?

It will come down to semantics, as it always does, but I contend that when we define the attributes of an alleged god, we can make a very reasonable determination of its status as a purely conceptual human invention vs an actually existing entity.

I would further contend that any god that cannot be refuted convincingly is so vague as to be utterly irrelevant; i.e. the Spinoza/Einstein pantheistic god.

 

Quote:

Theism is irrational.  This doesn't mean I'm not a weak agnostic atheist.  Belief in a god is irrational TODAY, if someday someone provides reason to believe it'll no longer become irrational.  Belief that our solar system is actually comprised of two suns is irrational, should someone by chance find a sun lurking behind the moon, then it'll be rational to believe.  Sam Harris is a weak atheist, Dawkins too is a weak atheist.  The shirt says "Believe in God we can fix that" because we can help people overcome theistic belief which they shouldn't be holding without proof.  We are still weak atheists. 

I think this is an excellent example. In order to be truly agnostic about the possibility of another sun in our solar system, one would  have to either redefine the word "sun" or else be spectacularly ignorant of physical law. The fact is that a "sun" requires sufficent mass to generate a fusion reaction; that is theoretically at least 75 times the mass of Jupiter - but let's be extraordinarily conservative and use a minimum of 10 Jupiter-mass units.

 Such an object cannot be "lurking on the other side of the moon," or anywhere else in our solar system; we would detect it by its gravitational interaction with other bodies in our solar system as well as by the radiation that it would necessarily produce. A belief in such an entity would be irrational. An "agnostic" attitude toward its existence would be almost equally irrational.

 When we pin down the alleged attributes of any god-concept, I believe we will be able to make just as strong a case against the actual existence of any alleged deity that's worthy of the word...

Quote:
 

Exactly.  There are a great many people who irrationally cling to god belief because they fear a hell.  We believe both theists and agnostics who can't admit to their atheism or theism are being irrational, and both need help.

We're in agreement there.

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

You know it's a lie, it'll always be a lie

The invention of an animal who knows he's going to die

-Randy Newman


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Sapient wrote: Dawkins too

Sapient wrote:
Dawkins too is a weak atheist.

Is he?  I could have sworn that he was a strong atheist.  You would know more than me in this area, but doesn't Dawkins argue that the existence of a personal God is highly improbable?  Since God's existence is improbable, would he not believe that God doesn't exist?  I mean, if something is improbable...im not going to be agnostic about it...im going to say, it doesn't exist.  Anyway, fill me in Smiling

I happen to be one of the few atheists who is a strong atheist.  There are many reasons, but here is the main reason:  the God concept is rediculus.  We deny the existence of other ridiculus claims, like Santa Claus, Ghosts, Channeling, and so forth.  We are not agnostic a-claus's...we actively deny that Santa Claus exists.  God and Santa Claus have the exact same epistemic status.  It wasn't like one day Santa Claus was proven to not exist.  We reject Santa Clause's existence, not merely disbelieve it, because it is ridiculus for many reasons.  The same is true for God.

Weak atheism is fine.  However, I do wish weak atheists would make the final jump to strong atheism.  It appears, atleast to me, that this final jump is not being made because of the fear of being labeled dogmatic.  I understand this fear...we all came from religions that are inherently dogmatic.  I understand the desire and necessity of avoiding it.  Strong atheism is not dogmatic.  Do you think that if God came down from the sky and showed us his magical powers that I wouldn't believe it?  Strong atheists are just as open as weak atheists.

anyway, thats my pontification, I hope I wasn't off topic.  If I was, I apologise. 

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I find it strange how

I find it strange how people seem to assosciate agnosticism with fear.

Agnostics are not just atheists who fear hell, they are people who have made a reasoned, rational conclusion that there is not enough evidence to believe or disbelieve in a God. There has been no evidence conclusively proving either so surely rationally it is impossible to make a statement either way.

Agnosticism does take a lot of guts in fact. The ridicule and insults I have recieved in the past from atheists and theists have been truly vicious, and yet I have never for a moment considered leaving my beliefs until that proof arrives.

At first I thought that the Rational Responders were a group of polite, deep-thinking individuals commited to seeking rational answers to many questions. It turns out that many of its lead members have been dogmatic, rude, and as offensive as people in the real world and other places. Some of you are guilty of crimes more serious than being irrational- the crimes of losing compassion and losing an open-mind.


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Hmmm - let's try to

Hmmm - let's try to re-frame the debate here, ad hominem aside. People's beliefs about gods form a vast spectrum which can never be labeled accurately and meaningfully for all with just a few words. In truth, we know that gods exist, in the way that unicorns or flying horses exist - conceptually.

Mundane horses also exist conceptually, but few reasonable people would argue that horses do not also exist in the real world.

The question then, is whether concepts of god are based on something actual, like horses, or made up, like unicorns and flying horses.

Is it your contention that the available evidence would support either of these propositions exactly equally? Even close to equally?

If so, then perhaps you are justified in your reluctance to be classed as an "atheist." I would say, very compassionately, that such an assessment is quite absurd, but if that is your assessment, your avoidance of the atheist label seems reasonable to me.

Though I believe that unicorns are invented and not real, because I've never seen one or any evidence of one, and there is no evidence in the fossil record that any animal closely related to horses had a horn growing out of the center of its forehead, that belief is not at the same level of certainty as my analogous belief about flying horses of the Pegasus type.

I know of know physical law nor evolutionary reason why some member of the horse family could not evolve a horn in the middle of its forehead, and so my disbelief in unicorns is slightly agnostic. I cannot claim that the possibility of someone finding a unicorn or a unicorn-like fossil is so small as to be completely negligible for all intents and purposes, as I can with the possibility of someone discovering a second sun lurking behind the moon.

I can, however, determine rationally that the possibility of real unicorns is remote enough that it is not worth funding researchers hoping to find one, and certainly remote enough to make basing my entire worldview around a belief in unicorns, or allowing belief in unicorns to play any significant role in my life, extremely unreasonable. If others sought to affect my life in significant ways because of their belief in unicorns, I would resist those efforts to the best of my ability - especially if thedir beliefs included a proviso that anyone disbelieving in unicorns should be srtigmatized, punished, discriminated against, etc.

But flying horses are a different story. The body of a horse is evolved in countless ways to support the lifestyle of a grazing, running, land-living animal. To take that body and graft great big feathered bird wings onto it where there are no muscles to support them or allow them to function is clearly the work of human imagination unfettered by any understanding of biology or physics.

So the flying horse. like the extra sun behind the moon, is an impossibility, because no sane intelligent person with a decent grasp of reality could believe in even the possibility of such a prodigy.

Perhaps most people here feel that the god concept belongs somewhere near the same category as the unicorn concept, but I think that if we take the time to identify the alleged attributes of any proposed deity that qualifies for the title according to common usage of the word, and review them carefully, we'll be forced to class gods with the Pegasus and the extra sun - clearly make-believe.

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

You know it's a lie, it'll always be a lie

The invention of an animal who knows he's going to die

-Randy Newman


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Fire Legion wrote:there

Fire Legion wrote:

there is not enough evidence to believe or disbelieve in a God.

You still don't understand what disbelieve means.  If you are not a believer, you are a disbeliever.  The only other option is, you're dead.  

Quote:
Agnosticism does take a lot of guts in fact. The ridicule and insults I have recieved in the past from atheists and theists have been truly vicious, and yet I have never for a moment considered leaving my beliefs until that proof arrives.

I was an agnostic for the exact same reasons as you for a long time until I realized the definition for what I am is atheist, and I was still agnostic.  I'm an agnostic atheist, and so are you.

Quote:
At first I thought that the Rational Responders were a group of polite, deep-thinking individuals commited to seeking rational answers to many questions. It turns out that many of its lead members have been dogmatic, rude, and as offensive as people in the real world and other places.

We don't tolerate thoughts that don't deserve toleration.  Study the word disbelieve for a few hours, and come back to us and we can all be friends.  And your dogmatic claim is a false one, we base our beliefs on the evidence not in spite of the evidence.

Quote:
 Some of you are guilty of crimes more serious than being irrational- the crimes of losing compassion and losing an open-mind.

We've got plenty of compassion for you, it's why we're wasting our time repeating the obvious to you several times in hopes that you will get it, to avoid further embarassment.  It's because I have an open mind that this "agnostic" can embrace the word that suits my lack of belief in a god... atheist. 

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Fire Legion wrote: It turns

Fire Legion wrote:
It turns out that many of its lead members have been dogmatic, rude, and as offensive as people in the real world and other places.

What I really like about this, is the implicit idea that atheists must be perfect.  The moment one of us may have had a lapse in judgement...or momentarily lapse into irrationality, people like yourself are right there to say "ah, ha!  I knew it!  They are dogmatic!"  Stop with the hyperbolic speech, please.  Atheists make mistakes like everyone else

 

Fire Legion wrote:
Some of you are guilty of crimes more serious than being irrational- the crimes of losing compassion and losing an open-mind.

Oh really?  do tell.  We all operate under what Sam Harris would call "conversational intolerance."  We don't tolerate and irrational claim...we press people, and ask them for evidence.  Any one of use would gladly accept a proposition if the evidence for it was cogent.  If Jesus Christ flew down on a cloud, and demonstrated his magical powers, I would have to believe it.  All of us would believe it.  But we refuse to believe any proposition, not just religious propositions, on insufficent evidence.  So when someone comes in here and claims a given religious proposition is true, we demand them to back it up with evidence.  If they do not do that, we are under no obligation to respect that belief; anymore than you would respect a holocaust deniar's beliefs. 

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You are an atheist. Don't

You are an atheist.

Don't like the word? Too bad. If you don't believe in God, then you are an atheist. That is what the word means.

We all come into the world as atheists. The more reasonable among us add on the prefix "agnostic".

You say you are agnostic, so which are you: an agnostic theist, or an agnostic atheist? And no, this is not a Schroedinger's Cat situation; you cannot simultaneously be both or neither.

I'm sorry that you dislike the word to the point of wanting to redefine it. 


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Kibiyama wrote: You are an

Kibiyama wrote:

You are an atheist.

Don't like the word? Too bad. If you don't believe in God, then you are an atheist. That is what the word means.

We all come into the world as atheists. The more reasonable among us add on the prefix "agnostic".

You say you are agnostic, so which are you: an agnostic theist, or an agnostic atheist? And no, this is not a Schroedinger's Cat situation; you cannot simultaneously be both or neither.

I'm sorry that you dislike the word to the point of wanting to redefine it. 

Categorically stating your opinion as though it were fact is a familiar tactic, but usually it's the tactic I see from the theist side of the fence.

 I have proposed some reasons why a person who is a very weak atheist (technically speaking, but not in the sense that the word is commonly used) would object to being classed as an atheist, beyond the stigma attached to the word.

And I have presented at least an outline of why I consider strong atheism more reasonable than weak or agnostic atheism.

Awaiting some rational responses.

If there are more people out there who are strong atheists - that is, as agnostic about god as they are about Santa or the Easter Bunny - feel free to chime in!

I have difficulty believing the 2 chaoses are the only ones...

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

You know it's a lie, it'll always be a lie

The invention of an animal who knows he's going to die

-Randy Newman


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chaospump

chaospump wrote:

Categorically stating your opinion as though it were fact is a familiar tactic, but usually it's the tactic I see from the theist side of the fence.

I have proposed some reasons why a person who is a very weak atheist (technically speaking, but not in the sense that the word is commonly used) would object to being classed as an atheist, beyond the stigma attached to the word.

 

Atheism is a word to denote a lack of belief in the claims of theism. It doesn't imply anything else.

 

 

 

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chaospump wrote: The vast

chaospump wrote:

The vast majority of people mean a strong atheist when they use the word atheist.

he vast majority of people mean something akin to my "weak agnostic" description when they use the word agnostic.

Should common error dictate how we define words? These errors are responsible for destroying the useful distinctions that the words are intended to denote.

C. S. Lewis writes on this problem. He notes in "Mere Christiantiy" that the word 'gentlemen' once denoted a class of person, regardless of their behavior. However, common error confused the word with the meaning of 'polite'. Eventually, a polite person was referred to as a gentlemen.

Now, the original meaning of the word is lost to us, and we have a utterly superfluous word for 'polite'. Ask a person what a gentlemen actually is, and they won't be able to express the concept in one word any longer....

To define a word accurately, and to avoid repeating common error, is the best way to provide clarity for any situation.

 

Quote:

Nor is it the form of atheism that is reflected by this site and its activities; those who remain undecided about the existence of god are unlikely to mount campaigns against god-belief.

This is untrue. Many people here are weak atheists. The reason for their zeal is their concern about the dangers of organized religion, as well as the dangers of dogmatism.

Quote:

I'm not sure what you are calling untrue, here.

This:

"those who remain undecided about the existence of god are unlikely to mount campaigns against god-belief."

 

I disagree. The motives for people on this site are broad, and they include concerns with dealing with irrationality, the dangers of organized religion, and deailng with common misperceptions about atheists, such as the one we are discussing here. There is nothing in this that speaks directly to strong atheism.

Quote:

Again - I agree that this is the strict philosophical definition of agnosticism; but usage is changing

Due to common error. Let's not let common misunderstanding obliterate the meaning of words. Can you tell me in what other arena that the ignorant are the one's who make the decision?

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Fire Legion wrote:I find

Fire Legion wrote:

I find it strange how people seem to assosciate agnosticism with fear.

Agnostics are not just atheists who fear hell, they are people who have made a reasoned, rational conclusion that there is not enough evidence to believe or disbelieve in a God.

Again, what you are describing is impossible. You can't believe and not disbelieve.

If you don't disbelieve, you would actually believe.

What you mean to say is that there is not enough evidence to believe, or rule out the claim.

And this leads to atheism. Lack of theism.

Quote:
 

 There has been no evidence conclusively proving either so surely rationally it is impossible to make a statement either way.

 

Agnosticism does take a lot of guts in fact. The ridicule and insults I have recieved in the past from atheists and theists have been truly vicious, and yet I have never for a moment considered leaving my beliefs until that proof arrives.

At first I thought that the Rational Responders were a group of polite, deep-thinking individuals commited to seeking rational answers to many questions. It turns out that many of its lead members have been dogmatic, rude, and as offensive as people in the real world and other places. Some of you are guilty of crimes more serious than being irrational- the crimes of losing compassion and losing an open-mind.

Speaking of being polite, it would be polite if you were to respond to the replies to your post that I posted.

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todangst wrote: chaospump

todangst wrote:
chaospump wrote:

Categorically stating your opinion as though it were fact is a familiar tactic, but usually it's the tactic I see from the theist side of the fence.

I have proposed some reasons why a person who is a very weak atheist (technically speaking, but not in the sense that the word is commonly used) would object to being classed as an atheist, beyond the stigma attached to the word.

 

Atheism is a word to denote a lack of belief in the claims of theism. It doesn't imply anything else.

Nice categorical statement of your opinion as though it were fact.

Of course, you know perfectly well that it implies all sorts of things when used by actual people in actual communication.

Some of those implications - i.e. that atheists are immoral - are well worth fighting against.

What I don't understand is why it is so important to you or anyone else that a very, very weak atheist - that is, one whose atheism is so weak that they cannot reasonably support anti-theism (surely nobody will claim that this site is not anti-theism?), should somehow be forced to accept the same word to define their viewpoint as those whose atheism is strong enough to make them anti-theist.

 

 

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chaospump wrote:todangst

chaospump wrote:
todangst wrote:
chaospump wrote:

Categorically stating your opinion as though it were fact is a familiar tactic, but usually it's the tactic I see from the theist side of the fence.

I have proposed some reasons why a person who is a very weak atheist (technically speaking, but not in the sense that the word is commonly used) would object to being classed as an atheist, beyond the stigma attached to the word.

Atheism is a word to denote a lack of belief in the claims of theism. It doesn't imply anything else.

Nice categorical statement of your opinion as though it were fact.

Nice personal attack. Please drop the tone.

And, you're off base here: It is a fact.

I'm giving you a basic usage of the term "A"

A = without, not.

This IS a fact.

It's pretty basic, pretty standard.

In return, your reply is "well, lot's more people get it wrong, so we should use their error as the standard instead, because it would be too hard to correct everyone"

If that's your standard for doing things, then why are you bothering to discuss this at all? Why would you care if "I get it wrong" in your view if getting it wrong is fine with you? All I need to do is find a majority of people here who get it wrong like me, and we're right. That's the standard you're employing, after all.

Or, should I say "your employing" since most people confuse 'you're' for 'your'? To what extent should we let common error dictate things? May I axe you that? Is that ok?!111

Quote:

Of course, you know perfectly well that it implies all sorts of things when used by actual people in actual communication.

And you should know, perfectly well, that importing colloquial usages of term back to it's original context is an error.

It's the fallacy of equivocation.

Quote:

What I don't understand is why it is so important to you

I already told you why, read the comments concering C. S. Lewis. Common error obliterates the intended meaning of words. We end up with pointless superfluity. We would end up with two words for atheist, and none for 'agnostic' in its actual sense.

 

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todangst wrote: C. S.

todangst wrote:

C. S. Lewis writes on this problem. He notes in "Mere Christiantiy" that the word 'gentlemen' once denoted a class of person, regardless of their behavior. However, common error confused the word with the meaning of 'polite'. Eventually, a polite person was referred to as a gentlemen.

Now, the original meaning of the word is lost to us, and we have a utterly superfluous word for 'polite'. Ask a person what a gentlemen actually is, and they won't be able to express the concept in one word any longer....

To define a word accurately, and to avoid repeating common error, is the best way to provide clarity for any situation.

Due to common error. Let's not let common misunderstanding obliterate the meaning of words. Can you tell me in what other arena that the ignorant are the one's who make the decision?

Well - it seems to me that that horse has left the barn. C.S. Lewis'  objections aside, (and yours) - languages evolve, the meanings of words change, and trying to turn back the clock is futile.

If a person believes that god may exist, or may not exist, and that the evidence for either of those propositions is not significantly greater or more convincing than the evidence for the other, that person is a very weak atheist in a strict technical sense.

That person is certainly not an atheist in sense that the word is currently used in th eEnglish language.

Oh and BTW - I just happened to find a link that seems to indicate that most dictionaries come down on my side of this debate and firmly against yours.

http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_3.htm

Unless these citations are incorrect; the Merriam-Webster online references are correct and squarely contradict your view.

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All of your dumb show and circuses

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chaospump wrote:Oh and

chaospump wrote:

Oh and BTW - I just happened to find a link that seems to indicate that most dictionaries come down on my side of this debate and firmly against yours.

http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_3.htm

Actually the first 2 come down on your side and the next 4 come down on ours (notice disbelief embedded in those 4).  So does your argument hold any weight, if so, then you've just proven us right.

 And I could find thousands of links that say god exists, does this make it true? 

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todangst wrote:chaospump

todangst wrote:
chaospump wrote:
todangst wrote:
chaospump wrote:

Categorically stating your opinion as though it were fact is a familiar tactic, but usually it's the tactic I see from the theist side of the fence.

I have proposed some reasons why a person who is a very weak atheist (technically speaking, but not in the sense that the word is commonly used) would object to being classed as an atheist, beyond the stigma attached to the word.

Atheism is a word to denote a lack of belief in the claims of theism. It doesn't imply anything else.

Nice categorical statement of your opinion as though it were fact.

Nice personal attack. Please drop the tone.

And, you're off base here: It is a fact.

I'm giving you a basic usage of the term "A"

A = without, not.

This IS a fact.

It's pretty basic, pretty standard.

In return, your reply is "well, lot's more people get it wrong, so we should use their error as the standard instead, because it would be too hard to correct everyone"

If that's your standard for doing things, then why are you bothering to discuss this at all? Why would you care if "I get it wrong" in your view if getting it wrong is fine with you? All I need to do is find a majority of people here who get it wrong like me, and we're right. That's the standard you're employing, after all.

Or, should I say "your employing" since most people confuse 'you're' for 'your'? To what extent should we let common error dictate things? May I axe you that? Is that ok?!111

Quote:

Of course, you know perfectly well that it implies all sorts of things when used by actual people in actual communication.

And you should know, perfectly well, that importing colloquial usages of term back to it's original context is an error.

It's the fallacy of equivocation.

Quote:

What I don't understand is why it is so important to you

I already told you why, read the comments concering C. S. Lewis. Common error obliterates the intended meaning of words. We end up with pointless superfluity. We would end up with two words for atheist, and none for 'agnostic' in its actual sense.

 Nested quotes seem to whack out my formatting, so I'm not going to snip and clip this response.

Firstly, that was not a personal attack. It was more in the nature of an amused observation, and it was clearly directed at your statement, not at you.

You responded to my objection to categorical statements of opinion as fact with a categorical statement of your opinion as fact. Thus my satirical use of the word "nice" - I think you are being a little oversensitive, since any theist who did the same could expect at least that much irony in response. Note Sapient's first response in this thread: "Great approach you have there..."

However, I will respect your wishes and do my best to modulate my tone in our discussions.

You went on to reiterate your categorical statement, that the "a" prefix can only be interpreted one way. Since every major dictionary definition of "atheism" includes the meaning "denial" while only some include disbelief, the sources do not seem to support you. In fact, it would seem that the usage example given for sense 1 in the OED is, itself, a direct contradiction of your interpretation. (See my earlier provided link.)

 Next you mischaracterize my viewpoint - I think you know that my assertion that words are defined by usage (which you have not responded to directly - are words in every language subject to definition-alteration through usage, or not?) cannot reasonably be taken to mean that I "take that approach to everything."  Sorry, but this seems disingenuous to me.

You go on to further mischaracterize my viewpoint; languages change based upon an evolutionary process spread across the entire population of speakers; this is in no way equivalent to claiming that we can just take a vote, especially within a tiny minority of that population, to establish word meanings.

Your argument about "your" vs. "you're" I would characterize as a straw man and a red herring. Do you deny that languages evolve and word meanings change?

Do you believe that any individual or small group (relative to the population of native speakers) can or should be able to halt that process?

Looking at the various etymologies and archaic meanings, it appears likely that the word originally meant something more like "evil" - because it reflected the then-near-universal association of morality with gods. The word evolved to carry a different meaning, although many people still have that association, and it's one I hope will eventually vanish. But I think it extraordinarily likely that there must have been many people who tried to object to or block that transition using some of the very same arguments you are using. 

Your comprehension of the logical fallacy of equivocation seems flawed to me, as well. Here is the wikipedia example:

A feather is light.
What is light cannot be dark.
Therefore, a feather cannot be dark.

Please explain how any statement of mine had anything to do with that fallacy.

You go on to cite C.S. Lewis again. While such an unrealistic expectation of and support for some methodology by which the orthodox might control linguistic heresies seems quite appropriate coming from a man of his beliefs, I find it jarringly odd to see them echoed by a freethinker.

Finally you describe the undesirable result, in part, as having two words for atheist - clearly we need at least two words to capture the meaning, since the major dictionaries all have either both disbelief and denial or denial alone.

There is a significant difference between mathematical language and natural language, one which your arguments seem to indicate that you either misunderstand or would wish to eliminate.

Neither prefixes nor words are as static and clear-cut as you seemingly would like them to be. Of course this causes confusion, but it also adds descriptive power and flexibility. That's the tradeoff.

 Drilling up from the definitions page I cited earlier, I find a rather thorough discussion of this issue. If you can see past the (totally unnecessary) pejorative terms and hyperbole, I think his case generally holds up better than yours.

 http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_1.htm

The statement, "I don't believe x," as used conversationally, almost always means, "I believe x to be untrue," not "I have no belief about the truth or untruth of x."

Same with "disbelieve" - if you say you disbelieve someone's statement, that is completely different than saying you are unable or unwilling to make a decision about the truth of the statement. It means you have made a determination (though varying levels of certainty could be intended) that the statement is false.

Why should the usage of the word disbelieve be different with regard to theism?

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Sapient wrote: chaospump

Sapient wrote:

chaospump wrote:

Oh and BTW - I just happened to find a link that seems to indicate that most dictionaries come down on my side of this debate and firmly against yours.

http://www.evilbible.com/Definition_of_Atheism_3.htm

Actually the first 2 come down on your side and the next 4 come down on ours (notice disbelief embedded in those 4).  So does your argument hold any weight, if so, then you've just proven us right.

 And I could find thousands of links that say god exists, does this make it true? 

Since all the definitions include my preferred meaning, and only some may include yours, I think they support my case better, taken altogether.

In fact, since disbelief normally is used to mean an actuive disbelief rather than an agnostic one, I'm not sure that any support your definition. When you say, "I don't believe x," do you normally mean, "I have no position (or no strong position) about the truth or falsehood of x," or do you normally mean, "I believe x to be untrue."

The usage example cited for the OED would seem to very directly and precisely contradict your proposed definition. 

My reference was an aside, since dictionaries were referred to in the oirignal post and subsequent arguments, and I prefaced this reference with a "BTW." I did not assert that it "proved" anything in and of itself, merely another datum for consideration.

As for the implication that my position is analogous to claiming that the truth of statements about the universe are determined democratically, I've already responded to that more then once, but seen no attempt to refute my rebuttal.

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

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May I interject? It seems as

May I interject? It seems as though the gradual changing of words in how the language eveloves. The language is defined by the vocabulary and syntax people agree upon. Regardless, the point in my words is to convey meaning. If Agnostic conveys the meaning I want, then I use the word Agnostic.

But I could be wrong.


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chaospump wrote: Since all

chaospump wrote:

Since all the definitions include my preferred meaning, and only some may include yours, I think they support my case better, taken altogether.

Yeah 4 include mine, and only 2 solely include yours.  I win.  Rationalize it any way you want.

Quote:
In fact, since disbelief normally is used to mean an actuive disbelief

There's no such thing as active disbelief.  Disbelief is merely what you're left with when you don't have a belief of something.

Quote:
The usage example cited for the OED would seem to very directly and precisely contradict your proposed definition. 

No it wouldn't.  In fact I use the OED, it includes disbelieve OR deny.

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Sapient wrote: chaospump

Sapient wrote:

chaospump wrote:

Since all the definitions include my preferred meaning, and only some may include yours, I think they support my case better, taken altogether.

Yeah 4 include mine, and only 2 solely include yours.  I win.  Rationalize it any way you want.

Quote:
In fact, since disbelief normally is used to mean an actuive disbelief

There's no such thing as active disbelief.  Disbelief is merely what you're left with when you don't have a belief of something.

Quote:
The usage example cited for the OED would seem to very directly and precisely contradict your proposed definition. 

No it wouldn't.  In fact I use the OED, it includes disbelieve OR deny.

I don't believe your satements are correct. When I say that, it means I believe your statements are incorrect. Would it mean something different in your version of English?

Have you ever encountered anyone that would use that phrase to mean, "I am completely undecided about the correctness of your statements." -?

Have you ever seen the word used in that way, except in the context of this particular debate?

Did you read the usage example for your definition of the word in the OED?

Here's the citation: 

Atheist:
1. One who denies or disbelieves the existence of a God.
2. One who practically denies the existence of a God by disregard of moral obligation to Him; a godless man.
    B. attrib. as adj. Atheistic, impious.
 

[Note: The last word usage example for sense #1 is:  1876 GLADSTONE in Contemp. Rev. June 22 By the Atheist I understand the man who not only holds off, like the sceptic, from the affirmative, but who drives himself, or is driven, to the negative assertion in regard to the whole Unseen, or to the existence of God.]

 Seems a very odd choice for a usage example if the editors of the OED intended "disbelieve" in the way you are claiming. In fact, it seems much more likely to have been added specifically to contradict such an impression.

If the OED doesn't mean it in your sense, I don't believe that the others do, either. 

In either case, it's just one small part of this debate.

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

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chaospump wrote: I don't

chaospump wrote:

I don't believe your satements are correct. When I say that, it means I believe your statements are incorrect.

This would mean you are a disbeliever in my statements.

Quote:
"I am completely undecided about the correctness of your statements." -?

This would mean you are a disbeliever in my statements.

Quote:
The last word usage example for sense #1 is:  1876 GLADSTONE in Contemp. Rev. June 22 By the Atheist I understand the man who not only holds off, like the sceptic, from the affirmative, but who drives himself, or is driven, to the negative assertion in regard to the whole Unseen, or to the existence of God.]

Now here's the actual definition of disbelieve from the OED:

 disbelieve 1. trans. Not to believe or credit

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Most people also think

Most people also think "Theory" means basically a guess. Dictionaries often say so too. And it is a completely incorrect definition of the word.

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chaospump wrote:Firstly,

chaospump wrote:

Firstly, that was not a personal attack.

You're trying to write me off as someone who's just dogmatically asserting a position, when in reality, I'm giving you a standard defintion of the prefix "a". That's an ad hominem attack. 

 

Quote:

and it was clearly directed at your statement, not at you.

Who do you you is responsible for my statements? If you direct something at my statements, you direct it at the statement's author. Me.

Quote:

You responded to my objection to categorical statements of opinion as fact with a categorical statement of your opinion as fact.

Because it is a fact. The term "a" denotes 'not".

Quote:

You went on to reiterate your categorical statement, that the "a" prefix can only be interpreted one way.

Now you're moving the goalposts.

I stated that the prefix "a" = not. I didn't say that it could only be interpreted one way.

What I said is that the prefix "a" = not. In the word 'atheism" the prefix "a" stands for "not"

'Atheism' denotes non-theism.

That's it.

Quote:
Next you mischaracterize my viewpoint

No, I reduced it to absurdity. I'm asking you: at what point do we not rely on common error as the standard?  Can you answer this time? Can you tell me why common error ought to dictate how we define 'atheism', yet not decide the spelling of 'your' and 'you're"? How do you decide?

It seems that your concern is that it would be too difficult to change an error if the error is too common...so, is that your standard? If enough people get it wrong, if enough people are ignorant of a subject, then the terms are changed?

Is that how it works? If so, what's the cut off for the the standard of ignorance?  

Quote:

Your argument about "your" vs. "you're" I would characterize as a straw man and a red herring.

Of course you would, because by just asserting that that is so, it saves you from the trouble of actually arguing your point by showing how you can justify relying on common error in one instance, and not another.

So, please tell me: why is relying on common error OK in one instance, and not another? 

Quote:

Do you deny that languages evolve and word meanings change?

Now, THIS is a red herring. I am not denying this. What I am saying is that the fact that words take on new meanings in new contexts is NOT a justification for transporting that new definition back to the word's original context. 

Which leads us to our next point:

Quote:

Your comprehension of the logical fallacy of equivocation seems flawed to me, as well.

No, it's on the money. It's is a fallacy of equivocation to transport a newer usage of a term back to its original context. The fact that people might create new meanings for old words based on their ignorance of theology and epistemology isn't a justification for using their flawed misunderstanding of the term when the term is used in theological discussion. 

Quote:

You go on to cite C.S. Lewis again. While such an unrealistic expectation of and support for some methodology by which the orthodox might control linguistic heresies seems quite appropriate coming from a man of his beliefs, I find it jarringly odd to see them echoed by a freethinker.

You're just turning to rhetoric here - ad hominem again.

The point Lewis makes is that usefulness of words can be obliterated by accepting common error as a standard for language.  I think he's made a fair point. Terms like 'gentlemen' no longer retain their original usefulness....

Quote:

Finally you describe the undesirable result, in part, as having two words for atheist - clearly we need at least two words to capture the meaning,

No, there is only one meaning - a lack of belief. Whether or not a person goes on to reject the belief outright or not has no bearing at all on the term intended to convey the position on belief.

 
Quote:

since the major dictionaries all have either both disbelief and denial or denial alone.

Dictionaries exist to provide definitions that people use. This includes colloquial definitions.

They do NOT exist to provide rigorous philosophical justifications of the terms.

 

 

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MattShizzle wrote:Most

MattShizzle wrote:
Most people also think "Theory" means basically a guess. Dictionaries often say so too. And it is a completely incorrect definition of the word.

An excellent point of comparison.

Languages evolve, and evolution is a messy process.

Perhaps theory will mean guess in a hundred years, and nothing else - but I doubt it.

Ignorance is one factor in the evolution of languages, but it is not the only language-shaping force.

Leaving aside the meaning "guess," the word theory has at least three distinct and widely recognized meanings. Unfortunately, many people have a poor understanding of the distinctions, which is where the fallacy of equivocation really does arise.

There is the conversational use. A character on a cop show might present a theory about the crime - not just whodunnit, but some more or less detailed scenario of how, with a more or less systematic attempt to show how the available evidence supports the scenario. A perfectly acceptable use of the word.

Without going into too much detail, I think most people recognize that a scientific theory, while meeting the criteria of the first meaning, must also meet a more restrictive set of criteria.

Within the scientific use, there is yet a third broadly (though perhaps not broadly enough) recognized, use of the word; the quasi-capitalized version reserved for certain constructs like the Theory of Evolution, or Quantum Theory, which fits a more restrictive definition yet.

 Messy, but the distinctions are clear enough that we can make a reasonable judgment:

Creationists commit the equivocation fallacy twice over, first by equating the Theory of Evolution to a scientific theory in the more general sense, and then by elevating their weak cop-show theory to a scientific one.

The situation with "atheism" is quite a different one. As the usage example associated with the OED definition (cited above) proves conclusively, by 1876 an authority sufficiently respected to be used as an example in the OED offered, and was quoted by the OED offering, a definition that matches the one I'm supporting and specifically excludes the one being offered in this thread.

The word atheist has not had that definition in our language, then, for well over a century, if indeed it ever did - which nobody has demonstrated, either.

 To break a word into its roots and declare that any meaning that doesn't conform strictly to those roots (as interpreted by the claimant, to be sure) must be incorrect, seems like pure sophistry to me.

So the situation with respect to the word atheist is that it has one broadly accepted meaning, which though a bit indistinct, like all such words, definitely does not include the meaning which a tiny and vocal minority is laboring to foist upon it.

There are people in this world who will state without reservation that god exists. These are theists, most would agree. There are those who will state that god does not exist, and they are clearly atheists.

Then there are many others who are unsure, to varying degrees. Those who think the atheist statement is certainly, or almost certainly, or very probably correct are generally considered atheists, but people who withhold a decision about the two opposing statements are not referred to as atheists in the English language.

There is a truth which the proponents of this altered definition are trying to capture here. In an important sense, anyone who is not comfortable basing determinations of philosophical and ethical truth upon a deistic faith should see themselves as more closely philosophically akin to atheists than to theists.

But to attempt to somehow force people to accept an altered definition of the word atheism that declares that all human beings must be classified as theist or atheist is, I believe, futile if not counterproductive, and based on very flawed reasoning. Language is not mathematics.

If we could re-define the words so that atheist meant anyone who is not a theist, atheists would, in a stroke, change from a tiny minority to a plurality, and perhaps a majority, of humanity. How lovely that would be!

What this attempted re-definition does in reality, however, is to polarize and antagonize those people who believe that neither theists nor atheists (in the sense in which I and nearly all English speakers use the word) have a significantly more convincing case.

It serves to remind them of where they disagree with atheists, rather than where they agree, and it appears to them as a cynical, dishonest attempt to mislabel people who take an agnostic view of the whole theist/atheist debate, based on thoroughly specious reasoning, and undertaken in service to an ulterior motive.

Nobody ever concedes these debates, and sooner or later they always devolve into graceless, pointless acrimony.

At some point, you decide that the record as it stands will convince any unbiased, rational, intelligent, critically thinking reader that you have made the better case.

I'm content to let the record stand on this one.

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

You know it's a lie, it'll always be a lie

The invention of an animal who knows he's going to die

-Randy Newman


Chaoslord2004
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chaospump wrote: To break

chaospump wrote:
To break a word into its roots and declare that any meaning that doesn't conform strictly to those roots (as interpreted by the claimant, to be sure) must be incorrect, seems like pure sophistry to me.

No, actually its a pretty basic truth within a branch of linguistics, called morphology (the study of words).  Words are built out of what are called "morphemes", i.e, the minimal meaningful unit of language.  Take the noun, "atheist".  This is broken up into 2 morphemes: "a" and "theist."  What does the root word "theist" mean?  Well, it means one who believes in God.  "a" when used as a affix, means "without."  Thus, when we have a + theist, we get one who doesn't believe in God.  This is the derived meaning, no different than when we have zo + ology, we get the study of animals.  Except in rare cases, like idioms, the meaning of a word is derived from the combination of its morphemes (be in derivational, or inflectional morphemes...for the linguistics geeks here besides me).

Now, can we please let this go?  An atheist is one who disbelieves or denys the existence of God.

 

chaospump wrote:
If we could re-define the words so that atheist meant anyone who is not a theist, atheists would, in a stroke, change from a tiny minority to a plurality, and perhaps a majority, of humanity. How lovely that would be!

How do you know that redefine means to take a word and define it as something other than its original definition?  Because "re" modifies "define."  This is exactly how the word "atheism" works.  The meaning of "atheism" follows from the combined meaning of the two morphemes involved.  It is the same kind of inference you make whenever you encounter a compound word, such as "redefine".

Do words change?  Yes, languages evolve rapidly compared to biological evolution.  Do meanings change?  Of course.  However, as long as "theism" means "belief in God" and "a", when used as an affix, means "without", "atheism" will mean one who is without belief in God. 

"In the high school halls, in the shopping malls, conform or be cast out" ~ Rush, from Subdivisions


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Chaoslord2004

Chaoslord2004 wrote:

chaospump wrote:
To break a word into its roots and declare that any meaning that doesn't conform strictly to those roots (as interpreted by the claimant, to be sure) must be incorrect, seems like pure sophistry to me.

No, actually its a pretty basic truth within a branch of linguistics, called morphology (the study of words).  Words are built out of what are called "morphemes", i.e, the minimal meaningful unit of language.  Take the noun, "atheist".  This is broken up into 2 morphemes: "a" and "theist."  What does the root word "theist" mean?  Well, it means one who believes in God.  "a" when used as a affix, means "without."  Thus, when we have a + theist, we get one who doesn't believe in God.  This is the derived meaning, no different than when we have zo + ology, we get the study of animals.  Except in rare cases, like idioms, the meaning of a word is derived from the combination of its morphemes (be in derivational, or inflectional morphemes...for the linguistics geeks here besides me).

Now, can we please let this go?  An atheist is one who disbelieves or denys the existence of God.

 

chaospump wrote:
If we could re-define the words so that atheist meant anyone who is not a theist, atheists would, in a stroke, change from a tiny minority to a plurality, and perhaps a majority, of humanity. How lovely that would be!

How do you know that redefine means to take a word and define it as something other than its original definition?  Because "re" modifies "define."  This is exactly how the word "atheism" works.  The meaning of "atheism" follows from the combined meaning of the two morphemes involved.  It is the same kind of inference you make whenever you encounter a compound word, such as "redefine".

Do words change?  Yes, languages evolve rapidly compared to biological evolution.  Do meanings change?  Of course.  However, as long as "theism" means "belief in God" and "a", when used as an affix, means "without", "atheism" will mean one who is without belief in God. 

Alright, since I thought you were at least somewhat in agreement with me on this issue, I'll try one more time before I step away.

I agree that since atheism is not an idiom, it is necessarily, by morphology, some sort of negation of theism, or belief in god. But is it really so simple as all that?

Consider the word achromatic, which comes from the roots "no color." The primary definition in Merriam-Webster is of the refracting action of a type of lens that does not produce certain color distortions. The second is of a substance that is not easily colored by usual staining agents. Not until the third listing do we see "possessing no hue."

Consider the words amoral and immoral. Both prefixes mean "not," and yet the meaning of the two words is quite different and conveys an important distinction.

 

My issue isn't with the roots of the word anyway, it is with the assumption, or declaration, that theism is treated by the language (or should be) as if the negation were Boolean - that anyone who is not theist is atheist, that anyone who does not believe proposition x must disbelieve proposition x.

The English word "atheist" means and long has meant exactly what both I and the OED-cited authority in 1876 said. It specifically does not include the meaning proposed here, regardless of what the root words are.

In trying to declare that every human must be either atheist or theist, the proponents of this notion are led to (absurdly) attribute the same status to the condition of belief generally, so that it will seem that dictionary definitions agree with them.

I'll revert to the cop-show analogy. Two detectives interrogate a witness, and he makes some statement, the truth or falsehood of which is essential to the case.

One cop asks the other, "Do you believe him?" The other might reply in the affirmative or in the negative. Or he might say something equivalent to, "I don't know."

If you accept the reasoning presented here, he should instead say, "No, I don't believe him." Since he doesn't believe that the statement is true, he must believe that it isn't true, and his saying that he doesn't know doesn't reflect a possible condition of belief that has any significance.

Let's move the scene to the jury room. Five jurors believe the statement is true, two believe it is false (in other words - they disbelieve the statement), and the other five are uncertain.

Suppose that one of the jurors who disbelieve the statement tries to browbeat the undecided jurors into voting with him by declaring that since they don't believe the satement, they must disbelieve it, therefore they must vote with those who believe the statement to be false.

Do you think this argument would sway the undecided? If so, in which direction?

It would not sway them into saying that they disbelieve the statement. 

It would certainly diminish the credibility of the person trying it, and the cause of both disbelievers in the statement by association - no matter how justified their opinion that the statement is false might be.

It is ridiculous, and therefore seems desperate.

This is, of course, precisely the position I think we are in here.

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

You know it's a lie, it'll always be a lie

The invention of an animal who knows he's going to die

-Randy Newman


BobSpence
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I have no problem with

I have no problem with considering myself a strong atheist.

I strongly identify with scientific approach to understanding the nature of external reality, ie, based on external evidence rather than purely my own or others' internal mental experiences.

As such I have a basic assumption (I prefer this term rather than 'belief' to apply to most if not all of my current 'understandings' ) that we have no absolute knowledge about the existence or interactions of any entities. IO, the only things that can be 'known' 100% are tautologies, or 0% for logical contradictions.

Based on my reading of, listening to, and viewing the works of other people, combined with my own personal observations and experience and thinking about such things, over a long time, I currently assess the likelihood of the existence of anything resembling the general understanding of the word 'God' as so small as to confidently proceed on the assumption that there is no such thing.

I am quite happy to put such God concepts in essentially the same category of intellectual respectability as the teapot orbiting Saturn. The massive appeal the idea has to so many people just reflects its staus as a 'virus of the mind', as Dawkins once put it.

It seems to me these words 'believe' and 'disbelieve' have acquired so many nuances in popular usage that they should be avoided in serious discussion about the ultimate nature of reality. 

I think there is one dimension along the spectrum from Fervent believer (Theistically speaking), and Super-strong All Gods-denying Atheist, but as you get away from these extreme, there is another dimension of how firmly you care about the issue or how much basis we have for being able to make a judgement either way.

Actually that is probably two extra dimensions: how much evidence you perceive to exist pointing either way, and how much you actually care.

Maybe you perceive compelling cases being presented for both positions, and can't decide just how to balance them out, or at another extreme, no evidence worth a pinch of shit either way. I suspect that many people, especially in 'western' culures outside the US, like much of Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are close to this last position.

So I think this is at the bottom of why we have these sort of arguments - we are trying to map something, in this case the range of individual approaches to God-belief, which has many aspects to it, to a one or two dimensional descriptive language.

With many people it is worse than that, a contiuum of degrees of certainty or concern about the issue are reduced to a binary true-false, believe-it-or-not set of options.

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

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

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

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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MattShizzle wrote: Most

MattShizzle wrote:
Most people also think "Theory" means basically a guess. Dictionaries often say so too. And it is a completely incorrect definition of the word.

Dictionaries have a problem with submitting to the commonest usages. That's why they can seem flat wrong sometimes.

The term "agnostic" is a good example. Most people use it to mean something like halfway between an atheist and a theist. But analyzed philosophically this just doesn't work.

In the case of "theory", I typically use "Scientific Theory" to minimize misunderstanding, to imply that I am referring to something more akin to The Theory Of Relativity rather than something like "I have a theory that the Pope eats his boogers."


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BobSpence1 wrote:I have

BobSpence1 wrote:

I have no problem with considering myself a strong atheist.

I strongly identify with scientific approach to understanding the nature of external reality, ie, based on external evidence rather than purely my own or others' internal mental experiences.

As such I have a basic assumption (I prefer this term rather than 'belief' to apply to most if not all of my current 'understandings' ) that we have no absolute knowledge about the existence or interactions of any entities. IO, the only things that can be 'known' 100% are tautologies, or 0% for logical contradictions.

Based on my reading of, listening to, and viewing the works of other people, combined with my own personal observations and experience and thinking about such things, over a long time, I currently assess the likelihood of the existence of anything resembling the general understanding of the word 'God' as so small as to confidently proceed on the assumption that there is no such thing.

I am quite happy to put such God concepts in essentially the same category of intellectual respectability as the teapot orbiting Saturn. The massive appeal the idea has to so many people just reflects its staus as a 'virus of the mind', as Dawkins once put it.

It seems to me these words 'believe' and 'disbelieve' have acquired so many nuances in popular usage that they should be avoided in serious discussion about the ultimate nature of reality. 

I think there is one dimension along the spectrum from Fervent believer (Theistically speaking), and Super-strong All Gods-denying Atheist, but as you get away from these extreme, there is another dimension of how firmly you care about the issue or how much basis we have for being able to make a judgement either way.

Actually that is probably two extra dimensions: how much evidence you perceive to exist pointing either way, and how much you actually care.

Maybe you perceive compelling cases being presented for both positions, and can't decide just how to balance them out, or at another extreme, no evidence worth a pinch of shit either way. I suspect that many people, especially in 'western' culures outside the US, like much of Europe, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, are close to this last position.

So I think this is at the bottom of why we have these sort of arguments - we are trying to map something, in this case the range of individual approaches to God-belief, which has many aspects to it, to a one or two dimensional descriptive language.

With many people it is worse than that, a contiuum of degrees of certainty or concern about the issue are reduced to a binary true-false, believe-it-or-not set of options.

I think this is very well-stated, and I'm glad to see that another person is willing to own up to strong atheism.

For those who do respect Dawkins' opinions about these issues, check this link:

 http://digg.com/videos/educational/Richard_Dawkins_on_Atheism

Around minute 15, you'll hear him use the phrase "atheists and agnostics" a couple of times in such a way that it's clear he accepts a distinction between agnostics (in the not-quite-philosophically-rigorous sense of a middle ground between theism and atheism) and atheists, and that he refers to secularists generally as a group comprised of these two separate categories.

You'll also see (through a questioner's quote of him, somewhere around minute 30) that Dawkins has described himself, on a scale of 7 degrees of atheism, as a "6 leaning to 7."

I would think that means we can include him with the "strong" atheists as well.

All of the faith and prayer in the world

All of your dumb show and circuses

You know it's a lie, it'll always be a lie

The invention of an animal who knows he's going to die

-Randy Newman


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Okay, try and follow me on

Okay, try and follow me on this.

If you're saying that you can't know either way, you're basicly ascribing a "maybe" to the god-idea. Seems like a safe middleground. It isn't.

 

Before I can rightfully say, that monkey's might fly out of my butt, I would first have to show how such a thing could be possible in the first place. Now if there were a known god-concept that could technicly speaking exist, while it hasn't been proven to exist yet, you'd have a proper reason for proposing that said god might exist. Untill then you can't even rightfully use a "maybe" and what's called hard atheism (or strong atheism) is the only viable stance.

 

I should add, that once you do have such a 'possible' god, it's arguable that applying the term god becomes absurd.  

~Let us be reasonable~

You want to claim there's such a thing as "the supernatural"? Fine. I hereby declare you to be "paracorrect" in doing so.