## Atheism and Lack of belief

• 8.9k
Again, is theism true or not true? What are the truth-values of its claims? If any or all of them are not true or undecidable, then isn't theism as a concept empty or not true (i.e. there may be a deity but it is not "theistic")? I claim that theism is not true.

Forget about "god", amigo, and focus on theism (and its static shadow deism). Why is that so hard for you/them? Or maybe it's my 'focus on theism instead of "god"' that's misguided and you or somebody smarter than us both, Smith, – like Gnomon or Wayfarer or @Gregory – can explain it to me/us. :point:

First off, agree that what I call the God hypothesis is, wonder of wonders, testable (re the problem of evil & Epicurean riddle) i.e. it's a scientific hypothesis, unfortunately/fortunately falsified. Perhaps this is the reason why you're an atheist despite the emergency repairs attempted by theists (free will).

When you say "forget about "god" [...] and focus on theism [...]" do you mean that's barking up the wrong tree because theism doesn't care. Had they, theism would've never existed.
• 2.8k
Notice though that atheism is also the stance that god doesn't exist which is a belief. Clearly, this is inconsistent with atheism being a lack of belief, unless, as you seem to think, withholding belief = belief that false.
I'm late to the party here, so I'm not sure if key terminology has been defined and agreed upon. I am neither an Atheist nor a Theist, but like all humans, I do have personal beliefs about Ontology (existence) & Epistemology (justified belief), which are still debatable after all these millennia.

For me, a Belief is a feeling, not a fact; a stance, not a truth. And dis-belief in the creator hypothesis indicates more confidence (credence) in empirical Science (what is) than in theoretical Philosophy (what might be). Besides that basic preference for objective evidence vs subjective inference, Atheism seems to be an emotional response to certain aspects of Theism, especially the notions of divine intervention and ultimate damnation. So, you are correct that Atheists are not withholding belief, but holding a stance. Suspension of belief or disbelief, on moot points, is the stance of Agnostics, who admit that ultimate questions are unprovable, and merely inferrable. Si, no? :smile:

Belief is not true/false, but good/bad for me :
Beliefs are inherently subjective. Individually and collectively, we may hold a belief for which we have a particular sense of certitude and conviction. Now, this does not mean that just because one is certain that one’s belief is true, that it is not infallible. Believing in something does not necessarily make it true.
https://ineducationonline.org/2021/01/29/knowing-our-own-truth-belief-vs-facts/

Note -- "Incredulity" is negative belief, and an antipathetic feeling toward some conjecture.
"Credulity" is a positive feeling toward a postulation. "Skepticism" is a temporary suspension of belief, pending further empirical or logical evidence. True or False?

• 5.8k
Sorry Amigo, you have completely bypassed my argument which I can only repeat, but wont. I think we may be too far apart to continue. I'll leave it to

I think it is large claim to make that physicalism science will one day satisfactorally explain everything.

Which is not a claim I am making, although it may be accurate. The point is we don't know. As I said, I am not confident that humans have access to reality, or even have access to the right questions.

I am neither an Atheist nor a Theist,

If you're not a theist, then you're an atheist. Don't be afraid of the word. If you are not a believer in any kind of deity then you're effectively an atheist. I think many people with 'spiritual beliefs' are atheists.

From the American Atheist Website

Atheism is not an affirmative belief that there is no god nor does it answer any other question about what a person believes. It is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods. Atheism is too often defined incorrectly as a belief system. To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.


Atheism seems to be an emotional response to certain aspects of Theism, especially the notions of divine intervention and ultimate damnation.

All arguments can be said to be emotional responses to something. Theism is an emotional response to the fear of death, etc... A lot of atheism has shaped by its ongoing culture war with the dreadful Evangelical movements. Much atheism has become stuck in reasoning and presenting polemical counterarguments against fundamentalists. Understandable and necessary, but just one aspect of the position.
• 2.3k
Belief seems to be a problematic area to me.

Does it matter whether or not you believe in gods? Should beliefs entail action? Do they cause actions?

Everyday we seem to be acting on a complex array of beliefs but would we behave differently with a different knowledge set? So it seems our beliefs or lack of could be very influential and our main motivating force.

I want to to decide what to do based on best evidence by my reasoning. There is a lack of knowledge and we have to invent a path for ourselves through life. Some people like Dawkins seem to want people to act as if there is no God and No afterlife.
• 10.9k
I am neither an Atheist nor a Theist,
— Gnomon

If you're not a theist, then you're an atheist. Don't be afraid of the word. If you are not a believer in any kind of deity then you're effectively an atheist. I think many people with 'spiritual beliefs' are atheists.
:100:

:roll:
• 19.9k
Belief is best understood as ranging over propositions. It is the attitude we have when we take something to be the case.

So take the proposition that "The cup is red". We have two possible truths:
• The cup is red.
• The cup is not red

And hence there are four possible beliefs:
• Fred believes that the cup is red.
• Fred believes that the cup is not red.
• Fred doesn't believe that the cup is red.
• Fred doesn't believe the cup is not red.

These can be paired up to list the possible consistent beliefs Fred might have about the cup.

Fred can't consistently believe that the cup is red and that the cup is not red.
Fred can't consistently believe both that the cup is red and not believe that the cup is red.
Fred can't consistently believe that the cup is not red and not believe that the cup is not red.

Fred can consistently believe that the cup is red, and not believe that the cup is not red. Fred woudl be a red cup believer.

Fred can consistently believe that the cup is not red and not believe that the cup is red. Fred is a red cup atheists.

But in addition, Fred can neither believe that the cup is red nor not believe that the cup is red. This is just not to have any belief concerning the cup. Fred is a red cup agnostic.

Symbolically, and changing cups to there being a god, let B be "Fred believes" and "G" be "there is a god"

The four possibilities are:
• BG
• ~BG
• B~G
• ~B~G

The inconsistent combinations are:
• BG & ~BG
• B~G & BG
• B~G & ~B~G
These are inconsistent because they each contain an assertion and it's negation.

Theism is consistent:
• BG & ~B~G
Note the positive belief, bolded: BG.

Atheism is consistent:
• ~BG & B~G
Again, note the positive belief, B~G.

Agnosticism is also consistent:
• ~BG & ~B~G
Note the absence of a belief: both are ~B.

Theism is the consistent belief in god. Atheism is the consistent belief that there is no god. Agnosticism is not having a belief concerning god.
• 5.3k
Agnosticism is not having a belief concerning god.

Therefore rocks are agnostic!
• 16.7k
My main complaint against atheism - and bear in mind, to many religious types, I myself would be categorised atheist - is that it casts its net too wide. And that's because in the history of Western culture, Christian theology absorbed (not to say appropriated) most of what was of value from the pre-existing cultural tradition, particularly Greek philosophy. So in throwing out religion, atheism usually always throws out the indigenous 'wisdom tradition' of Western culture with it, and ends with a complete acceptance of, and reliance on, the 'testimony of the senses' and omits what is described as the sapiential dimension of human existence.

Interesting note: the original humanists of the Italian Renaissance were often in trouble with the Church, for predictable reasons - but they were not, in today's terms, atheist or materialist in outlook.
• 5.8k
Therefore rocks are agnostic!

Not sure about rocks but my cat is definitely an agnostic.
• 5.8k
Theism is the consistent belief in god. Atheism is the consistent belief that there is no god. Agnosticism is not having a belief concerning god.

Was it Comte who said that he wasn't an atheist on the grounds that it took the idea of god too seriously?

I don't believe there is a god on the basis that no case has been made which convinces me. Does that count? I also think the idea of god is incoherent and lacks any explanatory power, I really don't know what people mean by god except as a kind of vague, Tillich-like mystical metanarrative, or more frequently, a literalist mega-moron as per Islam or Christianity. The American version of evangelical religion often strikes me as a kind of Donald Trump of the sky - petulant, petty, unethical and hopeless and believed in by multitudes. :wink:
• 19.9k
Much of the trouble is the result of a personality type that just can't live with "I don't know".

So they make shit up.
• 16.7k
Was it Comte who said that he wasn't an atheist on the grounds that it took the idea of god too seriously?

'I am afraid we are not rid of God because we still have faith in grammar…' ~ The Great Moustache
• 5.8k
:up: I often use that FN quote. Religious culture saturates experience - how could it not? We've been conditioned by it for centuries, millennia - just as surely as a canyon forms by the action of water. Sure, we'll probably always need some broader agreement about metanarratives in order to function as a flawed but cohesive society - we can call that god too if we want. But it's a brave man who can say what is hard wired in us through evolution and intersubjectivity and what comes from the putative reality of higher awareness.

Much of the trouble is the result of a personality type that just can't live with "I don't know".

So they make shit up.

To me this is the core of the problem.
• 2.8k
If you're not a theist, then you're an atheist. Don't be afraid of the word. If you are not a believer in any kind of deity then you're effectively an atheist. I think many people with 'spiritual beliefs' are atheists.
Ha! That's an Atheist twist on a typical Christian argument. I suppose you're saying that the god-question is binary (either-or). But Agnosticism takes the third option : that a supernatural deity is unknowable by the ordinary means of Epistemology (knowable world). In that case, suspension of both belief and dis-belief is the reasonable stance. Or, blind faith replaces knowledge.

However, unlike physicists, rational philosophers do not limit their mental explorations to the physical sensory milieu. So, a fourth option is Immanentism, which defines the logical (mathematical) & self-organizing (life-like) attributes of Evolution are limited to space-time Nature itself, while making no hypothesis about eternal-infinite origins. Then, there is a fifth option, that of Deism. In that case, the logical inference of a First Cause is made, based on the arrow of causation pointing away from the beginning of world development. Thus, implying a Creator without defining that concept in mundane terminology.

Hence, Deists do not claim to have super-natural knowledge. So the specific "nature" (attributes) of that Prime Mover are not knowable. Nevertheless, both Plato and Aristotle used abstract analogies & metaphorical language, instead of concrete anthro-morphic descriptions, to label their notions of what we moderns call the "Big Bang" & beyond (multiverse?). For example, "Logos" merely implies that the emergence of Reason in the world must necessarily have a Rational*1 origin. Likewise, "First Cause" or "Prime Mover" simply means that the known process of Causation in nature, must logically have an Impetus*2 .

Those Agnostic alternatives to Atheism, avoid commitment to any particular form of Theism as a doctrine. So, they don't deserve to be lumped into a category that they are designed to avoid. Don't you agree? :wink:

*1. Rational : ability to evaluate relationships -- ratios -- between things as meanings

*2. Impetus : the force that makes something happen

• 19.9k
Again, the significant difference is just between those who can say "I don't know" and those who can't, of whatever persuasion. What folk are doing with talk of deism and first causes and so on goes in the "making shit up" category. Agnosticism is not avoiding commitment so much as being honest.
• 5.8k
Ha! That's an Atheist twist on a typical Christian argument.

Let's twist again, like we did last summer.

There's nothing accomplished by invoking god in any context I can think of, unless you happen to have particular questions that seem better when stoppered up by a magic man.

However, unlike physicists, rational philosophers do not limit their mental explorations to the physical sensory milieu. So, a fourth option is Immanentism, which defines the logical (mathematical) & self-organizing (life-like) attributes of Evolution are limited to space-time Nature itself, while making no hypothesis about eternal-infinite origins.

I'm not convinced humans have special powers to solve questions which may simply be reflections of faulty language and conceptual foibles - not to mention may be the product of neurocognitive systems that don't necessarily allow us to do much more than generate stories of explanation. I think George Lakoff calls these frames.

Those Agnostic alternatives to Atheism, avoid commitment to any particular form of Theism as a doctrine. So, they don't deserve to be lumped into a category that they are designed to avoid. Don't you agree? :wink:

I don't really care. My atheism is mainly predicated on fundamentalists and those who think only a magic man can explain things to them. Outside of that, as long as people don't want to stack the Supreme Court with twisted religious morality or judge gay people and women and social policy based on a thing in an old book, I don't mind people's religious beliefs.

I am an agnostic atheist - a standard definition amongst atheists I know. Agnostic in terms of knowledge, atheist in terms of belief.
• 10.9k
Therefore rocks are agnostic!
:smirk:

The six possibilities are:
BG
~BG
B~G
~B~G
And the other two possibilities?

The inconsistent combinations are:

BG & ~BG
B~G & BG
B~G & ~B~G

These are inconsistent because they each contain an assertion and it's negation.
:up:

Theism is consistent:

BG & ~B~G

Note the positive belief, bolded: BG.

Atheism is consistent:

~BG & B~G

Again, note the positive belief, B~G.
:ok:

Agnosticism is also consistent:

~BG & ~B~G

Note the absence of a belief: both are ~B.
This formulation is inconsistent, Banno: both 'negative atheism' (~BG) and 'negative theism' (~B~G) asserts mutually exclusive concepts (as stipulated above).

Agnosticism is not having a belief concerning god.
I think that describes apatheism (or ignosticism). Agnosticism, actually, is 'not having knowledge concerning god'.

Atheism does not entail irreligion. In almost all cases, religious believers are also atheists except, of course, with respect to their own g/G; and many clergy also do not, or no longer, believe.

:100:
• 8.9k

As a lack of belief, atheism let's itself off the hook - no longer is there a duty to justify itself (no belief, no justification needed).However, one must justify the outlook itself and that comes in the form of beliefs should be justified.
• 10.9k
I am an agnostic atheist - a standard definition amongst atheists I know. Agnostic in terms of knowledge, atheist in terms of belief.
Nice. I'm an antitheistic atheist. Antitheist in terms of knowledge, atheist in terms of practice (aka "freethinker" :cool:).
• 8.9k
Indeed. Atheism mistakes spiritual with religion. The idea of nonphysicalism, a philosophical view, is indistinguishable from religion to the atheist. The testimony of the senses (empiricism) is not being denied here, but to claims that's all there is to the universe is a bit too rash.
• 8.9k
Sorry Amigo, you have completely bypassed my argument which I can only repeat, but wont. I think we may be too far apart to continue. I'll leave it to

That's ok.
• 16.7k
Atheism mistakes spiritual with religion.

As I say - it's one of the consequences of the way Western thought, in particular, evolved. Because Christian orthodoxy absorbed so much of so-called pagan philosophy, and then made it subject to right belief, all of it tends to be lumped together and then abandoned together. The Indian view is very different.
• 10.9k
Though there's overlap at the margins (e.g. naturalism, secularism), one ought to observe the distinction between "New Atheism" (i.e. polemical irreligion) and philosophical atheism (i.e. critique of theism, critique of supernaturalism).
• 19.9k
And the other two possibilities?

Pretty sure there are only six.

This formulation is inconsistent, Banno: both 'negative atheism' (~BG) and 'negative theism' (~B~G) asserts mutually exclusive concepts (as stipulated above).
If you have no beliefs concerning god, then you don't believe in god and you don't believe there is no god. You seem to have missed the point, which is to do withthe difference in scope of the belief and it's obhject. ~BG is not the same as B~G.
Agnosticism, actually, is 'not having knowledge concerning god'.
Exact same argument works if you substitute knowledge for believe. Six possibilities, three are inconsistent, the others have theism as having knowledge of god, atheism as having knowledge that there is no god, and agnosticism as not having knowledge either way.
• 10.9k
:brow:
• 8.9k
Though there's overlap at the margins (e.g. naturalism, secularism), one ought to observe the distinction between "New Atheism" (i.e. polemical irreligion) and philosophical atheism (i.e. critique of theism, critique of supernaturalism).

True that. Fine distinctions you're making there. Kudos. I used to follow New Atheism, but it's kinda lost steam over the years with the most vocal members having withdrawn almost completely from public life. A change of guard hasn't taken place in any real sense - Hitchens for example seems to be irreplaceable.
• 8.9k
Atheism mistakes spiritual with religion.
— Agent Smith

As I say - it's one of the consequences of the way Western thought, in particular, evolved. Because Christian orthodoxy absorbed so much of so-called pagan philosophy, and then made it subject to right belief, all of it tends to be lumped together and then abandoned together. The Indian view is very different.

I'm left wondering whether this isn't just some kinda mistake we're making. If there is a connection between e.g. philosophical nonphysicalism and religion, then necessarily if one sinks the other does too. Have you seen ships drop anchor? The chain holding the anchor consists of rings linked to each other. As the anchor descends, it takes along with it the first link which pulls the other link attached to it and soon enough the entire chain disappears into the depths.
• 19.9k
What? You having a hard time having to think instead of just post Emojis?

Not having the belief that there is a god does not commit you to having a belief that there is no god.

And if there are more than six possibilities, what are they?
• 10.9k
You should try using emojis because your so-called "thinking" is :roll: tonight.
• 19.9k
Oh, OK. too much editing. I see it. My apologies.
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