• Hallucinogen
    250
    Belief is connected to knowledge through rationality. If you believe something and you're rational, it's because you know something. If you lack belief in something and you're rational, it's because you lack knowledge in it. Likewise, having knowledge in something makes it rational to believe in it, and lacking knowledge makes it rational to lack belief in it.

    An agnostic lacks knowledge, so it follows that a rational definition should include that they lack belief in God, due to the connection between belief and knowledge.

    Since both atheists and agnostics lack belief in God, we need a way to distinguish the two. So it should naturally follow that we define atheists in terms of what they know, not what they lack belief in.

    atheism -- The theory or belief that God does not exist.Oxford Reference

    Therefore what should define atheists is claiming to know that God does not exist (or synonymous phrases such as denying God exists), and this goes together with believing that God does not exist, since belief and knowledge are coupled. Hence, it makes sense to include "belief" in the definition, since it indicates what is known.

    Numerous definitions define atheism as the belief God does not exist "or" lack of belief in God, but this "or" is misleading, because the latter follows the former anyway (although not vice versa). If you start by believing that something does not exist, then that goes together (if we're rational) with lacking belief in it.

    But what about "agnostic atheism"? When we look at the definition that self-described agnostic atheists give themselves, we find it isn't any different to agnosticism. Many atheists insist that atheism is "just" lack of belief in God, but that's agnosticism.

    But putting agnosticism together with atheism is contradictory, despite their shared lack of belief, because of what they know differently. Agnostics don't know whether God exists, while atheists know God doesn't exist. You can't be in two states about knowledge. You also can't be in two states about belief in something's non-existence, which is what is then entailed. An "agnostic atheist" lacks belief in God, like an agnostic, as well as believes God doesn't exist, like an atheist.

    The agnostic/gnostic atheist paradigm just doesn't make sense. It tries to separate belief and knowledge so that atheists and theists can be partitioned according to whether their belief follows their knowledge -- that's irrational, because it's irrational to uncouple belief and knowledge.

    Therefore, the coincidence of agnosticism and atheism is irrational, because it entails simultaneously not knowing whether God exists and knowing God doesn't exist.
  • mentos987
    161
    Since both atheists and agnosticis lack belief in GodHallucinogen

    I am not sure about this one. I think an agnostic can harbor a bit of belief, they just aren’t sure. An atheist is more sure about the lack of god.
  • Hallucinogen
    250
    "a bit of belief" still means uncertainty and lack of knowledge. Don't cross lacking belief in something with belief in the nonexistence of something. They are not on a continuum.
  • mentos987
    161
    agnosticism and atheism is irrational, because it entails simultaneously not knowing whether God exists and knowing God doesn't exist.Hallucinogen

    This is true if you work with absolutes. If you 100% know something then there is no room for not knowing. But I think a person can be 85% sure that god does not exist and still call themselves an atheist. And they may call themselves an agnostic at the same time because while they do not believe in god, they believe that something should exist, but they don't know what.
  • mentos987
    161
    They are not on a continuum.Hallucinogen

    In my mind they are. To me, it is about the level of certainty.
  • Hallucinogen
    250
    But I think a person can be 85% sure that god does not exist and still call themselves an atheist.mentos987

    As long as you don't know, you are an agnostic, because you lack knowledge. There aren't degrees of knowledge in a thing; it takes only a binary value.

    To me it is about the level of certainty.mentos987

    This is about belief, so you're describing how agnostics might differ from one another. But you still can't put lacking belief in x on a continuum with believing x doesn't exist, because they are different propositions that are separated by a binary divide.
  • mentos987
    161
    I also believe that most people that call themselves atheists are really agnostics. Atheism is just a more common term.
  • mentos987
    161
    As long as you don't know, you are an agnostic, because you lack knowledge. There aren't degrees of knowledge in a thing; it takes only a binary value.Hallucinogen

    I do not agree here either. When I say that I am "absolutely certain" about something what I really mean is that I believe it to be true with an error margin of about 0.01%.

    "I think, therefore I am" is one of very few truths that are 100% certain.
  • Hallucinogen
    250
    I also believe that most people that call themselves atheists are really agnostics. Atheism is just a more common term.mentos987

    Agreed.

    When I say that I am "absolutely certain" about something what I really mean is that I believe it to be true with an error margin of about 0.01%.mentos987

    Then you aren't certain, you just have a high degree of confidence.
  • Leontiskos
    1.1k
    But what about "agnostic atheism"? When we look at the definition that self-described agnostic atheists give themselves, we find it isn't any different to agnosticism. Many atheists insist that atheism is "just" lack of belief in God, but that's agnosticism.Hallucinogen

    I think linguists have done a good job showing that atheism in the ordinary sense means more than a mere lack or absence of belief.

    Yet there are self-described atheists who claim 1) to lack belief in God's existence, 2) to have no rational justification to assert that God does not exist, and 3) to have no disposition to believe that God might exist. This differs from agnosticism vis-à-vis (3) and it differs from ordinary atheism vis-à-vis (2). Thus the differentiation is intelligible even if the position isn't entirely coherent or sturdy.
  • mentos987
    161
    Then you aren't certain, you just have a high degree of confidence.Hallucinogen

    True, but I believe that no one is ever 100% sure, so when we say "certain" what we really mean is 99.9...% sure. And if everyone else if fine with equating this to being certain, who am I to argue against it.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    Then you aren't certain, you just have a high degree of confidence.Hallucinogen

    So atheists have a high degree of confidence that God doesn't exist. The label "atheist" is useful to convey that. Do you see a problem with people using the word that way?
  • Hallucinogen
    250
    but I belive that noone is ever 100% surementos987

    That isn't a belief that I share.
  • Hallucinogen
    250
    2) to have no rational justification to assert that God does not exist, and 3) to have no disposition to believe that God might exist. This differs from agnosticism vis-à-vis (3).Leontiskos

    And (2) as well.
  • mentos987
    161
    That isn't a belief that I share.Hallucinogen

    Ye, the belief basically stems from the low chance that everything we experience could ultimately just be one huge fever dream and none of it be true. Since you can't argue away this possibility you instead leave a little room to doubt everything else.

    Except that I think, and therefore am..
  • Beverley
    70
    but I belive that noone is ever 100% surementos987

    I agree totally. One hundred percent certainty just does not exist. (Apart from maybe in Plato's World of Forms, but then we would have to 100 percent believe in that, which is impossible, and hence, we find ourselves in a vicious circle.)
  • Leontiskos
    1.1k
    And (2) as well.Hallucinogen

    Yes, possibly but not necessarily.
  • Tom Storm
    8.1k
    I think you may be confused.

    I am an agnostic atheist - a fairly common term these days in freethinking circles. Atheism goes to belief, agnosticism goes to knowledge.

    I do not believe there are gods. But I do not know that there are no gods. Yet I can't help what I believe. My intuition is to say there are no gods. None of the reasons I have heard are convincing. But I cannot make a positive claim that there are no gods since that would require a demonstration. That's my take.

    As I have stated elsewhere, I don't think arguments for or against gods are as significant as some think. You either believe or you don't and this seems to me to be similar to one's sexual preferences. You can't help what you are attracted to. And yes, just as people may change sexual preferences, they might move from belief to disbelief. I suspect people form their views of gods through sense making and intuition more than the arguments we keep rehashing.
  • Hallucinogen
    250
    Atheism goes to belief, agnosticism goes to knowledge.Tom Storm

    Belief and knowledge are coupled, if we're being rational. So if by "goes to belief" you mean "is about lacking belief", then you're defining atheism to be the same as agnosticism.

    I do not believe there are gods. But I do not know that there are no gods.Tom Storm

    You're an agnostic.
  • Tom Storm
    8.1k
    No, I don't believe in gods, I consider myself an atheist. You don't get to tell me how I identify. :cool: Mind you, the word probably doesn't matter. I am happy to skip both agnostic and atheist and just say I don't believe in gods. I just takes more time to type. I don't believe in the Loch Ness Monster or Bigfoot either but I don't say they do not exist. How could I, when it can't be demonstrated? Does this mean I am a Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot agnostic? Maybe I have to say I don't believe in either and skip the contentious terms.
  • Hallucinogen
    250
    No, I don't believe in gods, I consider myself an atheistTom Storm

    Neither do agnostics, so you need more reason than that to call yourself an atheist.

    But the rest of what you're saying -- that we don't invent labels for a host of other lack-of-beliefs -- actually supports my side of this. It supports not defining atheism in terms of what it lacks belief in. Instead, it should be defined in terms of knowledge.
  • mentos987
    161
    I believe we already solved this. Hallucinogen is correct, in his claim of irrational, if "belief" is to be counted as absolute (true or false). The way most seem to consider it though, it is more of a scale.

    Edit. Maybe agnostic people are keener on thinking in terms of scales/degrees/continuums, since they are more focused on doubt itself.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    For those poor atheists, bereft of a positive argument, I present this thread from another forum:

    Re: Atheist contrivances used to avoid presenting the case for their beliefs

    In that thread you will find the WNA which will provide what you lack.

    And yes, I am a bit jaded. :razz:
  • mentos987
    161

    WNA? Nvm, found it
  • wonderer1
    1.5k


    Wonderer Neurological Argument, of course.
  • mentos987
    161


    1) Define "God" as a mind which is not contingent on the existence of an underlying information processing substrate.
    2) If minds are contingent on the existence of an underlying information processing substrate, then God does not exist.
    3) Minds are contingent on the existence of an underlying information processing substrate.
    4) Therefore God does not exist.

    This?
    Meh, I was not impressed.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    Meh, I was not impressed.mentos987

    Yeah, there's some esoteric knowledge required to get the joke.
  • Tom Storm
    8.1k
    Neither do agnostics, so you need more reason than that to call yourself an atheist.Hallucinogen

    I will continue to use atheist as my own personal label since it is more useful. The agnostics I know do not say they do not believe in gods they typically say they can't answer the question of belief since they do not know. Odd to me and as a consequence I consider most agnostics to be atheists. But I fear we will continue to disagree on this so I am happy to move on and let common usage amongst atheists determine where this one heads.
  • mentos987
    161
    Yeah, there's some esoteric knowledge required to get the joke.wonderer1

    The argument comes to a dead halt with "Define "God"", why would we be able to define god? I am not a believer but if a god were to exist outside of our world, it would seem utterly hopeless to try to define it.
  • 180 Proof
    13.8k
    So do you think it is "irrational" to know that there is a god and not to believe in that god (just as a wife can know that her husband exists and does not believe in him)?

    If so, please explain.

    If not, then explain why your OP is not inconsistent with the disjunction of 'knowing that G' and 'believing in G' I've presented here. :chin:

    I think your conflation of knowing (i.e. a proposition) and believing (i.e. to have trust in, or to be committed to, a statement or disposition), Hallucinogen, is clearly unwarranted.
  • wonderer1
    1.5k
    To me it seems the argument comes to a dead halt with "Define "God"", why would we be able to define god? I am not a believer but if a god were to exist outside of our world, it would seem utterly hopeless to try to define it.mentos987

    There are a lot of Christians out there, who interpret Romans 1:18-20 as saying that everyone actually knows God exists.

    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. - [NIV]

    Such Christians tend to interpret requests that they define God as an indication of dishonesty on the part of atheists.
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