• Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    I think the lack of belief definition of atheism is problematic.

    Look at these four statements:

    1: I don't believe in gods or a God.

    2: I don't believe in alien life

    3: I don't believe the moon exists

    4: I don't believe the Holocaust happened

    These statements are all claiming an absence of belief in something but it seems clearly we would find them increasingly problematic.

    There seems to be a clear distinction between types of lack of belief. Not believing in alien life might be a theoretical stance. Not believing in the moon would seem ludicrous and not believing in and denying a genocide can be a criminal offense or just offensive and harmful.

    On the other hand at one stage like as babies there were numerous things we had a simple lack of belief about because of basic ignorance. But once you start being exposed to lots of information a lack of belief becomes more like a belief and belief stance based on an assessment of evidence.

    I have become agnostic based on my evaluations of theory, evidence, probability, limitations of knowledge etc.

    So I think the only real lack of belief is total ignorance like a babies where there is no evidence or concepts to evaluate.
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    What about 'I believe that there isn't any God or gods'? Unambiguous disbelief.
  • Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    What about 'I believe that there isn't any God or gods'? Unambiguous disbelief.180 Proof
    I am not sure I understand you.

    I think disbelief requires a belief. How are you defining disbelief?

    I don't believe in Santa Claus because I have another explanation of how my Christmas presents arrived.

    If Christmas presents arrived at the end of my bed and no one I know claimed to have sent them and there was no explanation of how they got there, then disbelief in Santa Claus would be less valid because it is proffering a potential causal explanation for something.

    But once you start offering explanations for your disbelief you have an underlying belief framework that can be scrutinised. So eventually atheism amounts to a system of beliefs in my opinion.

    However agnosticism is admitting a lack of knowledge or claiming that the evidence you have seen is inadequate for you to form a strong belief. Some atheists attack agnostics because they claim there are good grounds to reject the idea of God.
  • Tzeentch
    2.2k
    The core of belief is that we cannot be certain. We can't be certain that there is such a thing as God, nor can we be certain that there isn't.

    If we choose to believe either despite our ignorance, it begs the question why. And the answer is usually that we believe to fool ourselves into thinking we are certain, because we prefer to feign certainty than to accept uncertainty.

    Agnosticism or apathy is a more logical and honest way of approaching things we cannot be certain of.

    - I don't know, so I choose not to believe either.
    - I don't know, and it doesn't affect me, so I choose not to form opinions. (I choose "not to care")
  • Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    This is the start of Wikipedias article on Atheism:

    "Atheism, in the broadest sense, is an absence of belief in the existence of deities"

    At one stage in my life I had an absence of belief in the country Burkina Faso (a country with an unusual name and low profile.)

    But that absence of belief had no bearing on the existence of the country.

    My lack of evidence justified my absence of belief. But as has been said lack of evidence isn't evidence of absence.

    I would be unwise to comment of the affairs of Burkina Faso based on my position of ignorance.
  • Vera Mont
    836
    So I think the only real lack of belief is total ignorance like a babies where there is no evidence or concepts to evaluate.Andrew4Handel

    In which case 'belief' would be a superfluous word in describing the baby's mental processes. But that's not quite right, either. The baby that has cried when it was hungry and been fed is already making cause-effect connections. It is learning to believe that crying will result in food, or comfort; it very quickly learns that crying summons an adult, that adults are available to supply its needs, that it can rely on specific adults for regular care.... and so on. The baby is building up a conceptual data-base, and a system of beliefs.
    If this baby is a bird, no cognitive dissonance need ever arise: the world is as he experiences it. For a human baby, problems start with the acquisition of language, when those same trusted adults start telling it truths and lies indiscriminately.
  • Vera Mont
    836
    My lack of evidence justified my absence of belief. But as has been said lack of evidence isn't evidence of absence.Andrew4Handel

    But we never get a chance never to have heard of the gods. They're in our faces all the time. Sure, there might be something somewhere that could conceivably called a god by somebody -- but that doesn't affect me and my believing or not believing in the possibility of its existence would have zero effect on anything. So, I don't believe in such a god in the same way I don't believe all the stuff I know nothing about - nor do i disbelieve them: they're simply absent from consciousness.

    However, the stories and strictures and influence and threats from all those versions of deity that people tell about are very much present in my consciousness. That's what I actively disbelieve.
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    I have become agnostic based on my evaluations of theory, evidence, probability, limitations of knowledge etc.Andrew4Handel

    Sounds like a good start.

    I became an atheist because my experience suggests a godless world; I lack a sensus divinitatis and no argument presented to me in support of the various gods in the world marketplace was ever convincing.

    American Atheists put it like this:

    Atheism is about what you believe. Agnosticism is about what you know.

    I would say I am an agnostic atheist. Similarly, I don't know if Bigfoot exists, but I am not convinced it does. The time to believe it is when there is good evidence.

    I would hold that agnostics are ususally atheists but for a range of reasons shy from the word.
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    I would say I am an agnostic atheist. Similarly, I don't know if Bigfoot exists, but I am not convinced it does. The time to believe it is when there is good evidence.Tom Storm

    My favorite argument for atheism isn’t that the evidence isnt there, but that even if it were there, the concept of a god is a terrible idea and presents a really unappealing picture of the nature of traits and the basis of ethics. Everyone here ( that includes Dennett, Dawkins et al. They wish they could believe ) whose atheism or agnosticism is tied to ‘evidence’ is a closet -believer until they can get to the point where they find the very idea of a god repugnant on its own terms, when they no longer wish they could believe.
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    My favorite argument for atheism isn’t that the evidence isnt there, but that even if it were there, the concept of a god is a terrible idea and presents a really unappealing picture of the nature of traits and the basis of ethics.Joshs

    I agree with much of this. But the general response will likely be 'no one says that the truth has to be appealing.'

    I guess many atheists (especially those engaging with Americans) are thrust into the 'evidence/argument' space by apologists who constantly build edifices of 'proof' out of Aquinas et al. And yes, as a consequence atheism often resembles Islamic or Christian apologetics. What does Nietzsche say? Beware that, when fighting monsters, you yourself do not become a monster.

    the very idea of a god repugnant on its own termsJoshs

    Indeed. Care to say more about why?
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    I believe that there isn't any God or gods.

    Some atheists attack agnostics because they claim there are good grounds to reject the idea of God.Andrew4Handel
    I think there are "good grounds to reject the" truth-claims of theism.

    Nonsense. Neither belief nor knowledge requires – presupposes – "certainty".
  • Gregory
    4.4k


    I believe everyone should be exposed to religion and everyone has to deal with their own response to it. It's part of growing, which is the whole point of religion
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    Nonsense. Neither belief nor knowledge requires – presupposes – "certainty".180 Proof

    This is an important point. It's interesting how 'absolute certainty' is itself a kind of god in a lot of thinking.
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    It's part of growing, which is the whole point of religionGregory

    Can you really say there is a whole point to religion - or is this just a view? Surely religion, like humanity, is about many things, from bigoted cruelty to engagement and solidarity?
  • Gregory
    4.4k


    Doesn't "religion" have a certain definite meaning? It's a system of belief in the supernatural that arouses something, love or hatred to various degrees, in the soul
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    'absolute certainty' is itself a kind of godTom Storm
    :up:
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    Doesn't "religion" have a certain definite meaning?Gregory

    Some people think so. However, Karen Armstrong, a scholar of religion, holds that it's a subject that has no clear definition. I would say religion has multiple definitions and any attempt to say 'religion is X' is fraught.
  • Gregory
    4.4k


    But maybe you don't seem to believe in the supernatural. Those who do have a common experience. I think the word 'religion' has use because it speaks of something, an experience, within society. Is democracy easily defined?
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    Those who do have a common experience.Gregory

    Can you demonstrate this? It sounds wrong. I grew up in the Christian tradition which was as divided and antagonistic with each other over experience and belief as any other group of people.

    Is democracy easily defined?Gregory

    Now you're getting it. Abstractions like religion or democracy are notoriously difficult to define. At no point did I say religion is unique. But let's get back to the point - I made a comment about your claim that:

    It's part of growing, which is the whole point of religionGregory

    I don't think we can readily say what the 'whole point' of religion is. That's all. :wink:
  • Gregory
    4.4k


    Two people can be opposed to each other and still be spiritual. Spiritual conflict is part of religion. People grow from struggle. From your side you would have to say romance is not definable so there is no point sharing stories about your first kiss with a friend
  • Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    However, the stories and strictures and influence and threats from all those versions of deity that people tell about are very much present in my consciousness. That's what I actively disbelieveVera Mont

    I was surprised as a young adult to find out the bible has numerous contradictions in it. And I felt I had been lied to as a child and not exposed to criticism of Christianity. I also think a lot of biblical stories are repugnant. Someone sacrificed his daughter to God (Jephthah), God has thousands of people arbitrarily killed, a man was stoned to death for picking up sticks on the sabbath under gods orders.

    But that is an anti Judaeo Christianity stance.

    Atheism tends to focus on wider concepts. It could be true a creator deity exists and every religion is false and nonsense.

    Once atheism makes claims about wider issues such as about whether there is a creator, whether reality needs a first cause, whether reality is purely physical and so on whether morality can survive the death of religion etc.
    These issue are separate from a general critique of very particular religious claims and where atheism becomes a metaphysical belief system in my opinion.

    The idea is once you abandon religion the only other option is to be a materialist atheist reliant only on science. At one stage I felt that was the only option one or the other but now I feel atheists are trying to make that the only option.
  • Gregory
    4.4k


    If you take the Bible literally you've missed its message
  • Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    You could say no beliefs matter whatsoever. Life is temporary we live between 0 to 100 years. What we do in that time is irrelevant.

    However beliefs are motivating and demotivating. How you spend your 0 to 100 years could be marred by false beliefs.

    It actually seems impossible to know what beliefs we should have and there appears to be no right answer about how to live our lives. I was posing that issue in my thread "Deciding what to do."

    For some people a religion tells them what to do and or gives them something to aspire to. I can't think of a secular replacement for that other than an existential situation where you make up your own meanings and hope for the best.

    But I do believe we need hope and some world views are not providing that. I think the major religions appear to offer some hope but are tainted by some nasty theology like hell and damnation. But I also think atheism does not offer hope if taken to a brutalist, reductionist no afterlife, humans are machines, consciousness is illusory (Daniel Dennett) eliminativist materialism (The Churchland's) et al.

    I also think a lot of atheists seem to take for granted they can preserve things like morality and societal norms, law etc. In the absence of God without justifying claiming these things as part of their world view.
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    I do believe we need hopeAndrew4Handel
    Why do you believe that?

    It actually seems impossible to know what beliefs we should have and there appears to be no right answer about how to live our lives.
     
    This is definitely the case only in the absence of thinking critically and much lived experience.

    I also think a lot of atheists seem to take for granted ...
    Stereotyping "atheists" says much more about what you lazily take for granted than what you "think" says about them. :roll:
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    f you take the Bible literally you've missed its messageGregory

    Agree.

    Spiritual conflict is part of religionGregory

    Should I add this to your other globalizing statement about religion below?

    It's part of growing, which is the whole point of religionGregory

    From your side you would have to say romance is not definable so there is no point sharing stories about your first kiss with a friendGregory

    Not sure how this got into your argument since it neither addresses my point, or follows the discourse.

    I would say romance is not a subject we can paint into a corner with hard and fast statements like the ones you've made.
  • Gregory
    4.4k


    You're really trying to justify ignoring spirituality because you it can't be put in a category? You cant grow much with only rationality. Faith is a calling and a higher logic. Everyone is influenced by it in their souls through society. Some hate it
  • 180 Proof
    10.9k
    What do you mean by "spirituality"?
  • Joshs
    4.2k
    My favorite argument for atheism isn’t that the evidence isnt there, but that even if it were there, the concept of a god is a terrible idea and presents a really unappealing picture of the nature of the world and the basis of ethics.
    — Joshs

    I agree with much of this. But the general response will likely be 'no one says that the truth has to be appealing.'
    Tom Storm


    Ah, but appeal IS a central element of what we call truth, especially in the sciences. An important value in choosing one theory over another is aesthetic appeal. The facts have no coherence outside of their relation to our pragmatic goals and purposes. We convince ourselves that we conform our empirical models to the cold, hard facts of the world, but those cold , hard facts are constantly shaped and reshaped by our evolving concerns, expectations and practices. The same goes
    for our gods.

    the very idea of a god repugnant on its own terms
    — Joshs

    Indeed. Care to say more about why?
    Tom Storm

    At some point , we will no longer have need of a hypothesis that locks us into an arbitrary view of the world ( I’m speaking both of religion and the view of science as ‘truths that dont care about our feelings’. God and objective realism are tied together, not opposites ).
  • Gregory
    4.4k


    Without a way to prove god's existence, what we can do is face the dislike we have towards god and really try to find ways not to be bothered by it. Loving god is faith/spirituality
  • Tom Storm
    5.8k
    You're really trying to justify ignoring spirituality because you it can't be put in a category? You cant grow much with only rationality. Faith is a calling and a higher logic. Everyone is influenced by it in their souls through society. Some hate itGregory

    Goodness, you're arguing about something entirely different.

    Perhaps if I go over it it once more - we'll leave the thorny topic of religion/spirituality and look at what you did here.

    From your side you would have to say romance is not definable so there is no point sharing stories about your first kiss with a friendGregory

    So at no point did I say we can't share stories. My point is precisely because there are so many potential stories to share, we should avoid painting ourselves into a corner about what constitutes romance. I can say for me it is about 'exhilaration.' But I can't say, 'the whole point of romance is exhilaration.' Some subjects take myriad forms and warrant a suspicion of globalizing statements and essentialisms.
  • Andrew4Handel
    2.3k
    Has anyone heard of state atheism?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/State_atheism

    In 1967 Enver Hoxha, the head of state of Albania, declared Albania to be the "first atheist state of the world" even though the Soviet Union under Lenin had already been a de facto atheist state

    Or the Dechristianization of France during the French Revolution?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dechristianization_of_France_during_the_French_Revolution

    Or The Brights movement?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brights_movement

    Or Eliminative materialism?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eliminative_materialism

    Or the God delusion.

    I am responding to thing that have actually arising amongst atheists and stances taken by atheists not a caricature of them. I feel some gaslighting goes own when you confront people with things which have copious information in the public domain but they make it seem like you are imagining it.
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