• S
    6.2k
    Note to readers: at present, many of the replies that you will find here are not replies to this opening post, but to a completely different opening post. For example, all of the replies immediately following this opening post on the first page of the discussion. This mess was caused by one of the moderators and unfortunately it has yet to be rectified.

    Recently, there have been a few people on the forum who aren't as familiar with my stance in relation to God, and have had trouble understanding it. Some have even declared that they can rip it to shreds. Hence the creation of this discussion.

    I'm an atheist. But what does that mean? What kind of atheist am I? It means that I don't believe that God exists, and it means that I don't believe that any god or gods going by any other name or even no name at all exist. I try to be reasonable, so I try to proportion my belief to the evidence, and I try to avoid adopting conclusions that can't be supported.

    In some cases, I think that it is justified to conclude that God doesn't exist. Those cases include each and every case whereby the existence of God would entail a contradiction.

    In other cases, I accept that it is possible that God exists. However, there is no case I know of where I think it would be right to conclude that there is a good enough basis to believe that God exists.

    I discount those cases whereby God is merely used as label for something that I do believe exists, such as the world. That is just wordplay - a triviality.

    I am aware of the traditional arguments for the existence of God, such as the ontological argument, the cosmological argument, and the teleological argument. I think that there are big problems with all of them.

    Absence of evidence can be, and in some cases is, evidence of absence. For example, if a filthy dog were to run through my house and jump onto my freshly washed white duvet, it would leave evidence. In the absence of any such evidence, or any good reason to believe that there has been some sort of cover up or something along those lines, it is reasonable to reject the claim about that dog jumping on my bed. I have no reason to believe in magical dogs which do not leave any trace of evidence behind. Why would I?

    So, there you have it. That's a summary of my position. Have at it. Any questions, ask away.
  • Grey Vs Gray
    28
    fdrake: this post is a response to an OP from a different thread which appeared here due to merging. SnoringKitten's post, which Grey vs Gray is replying to here is as follows:
    Hi, the following seems long winded but it's actually one simple statement repeated & fleshed out, before it returns back to the one simple statement.

    PROBLEM:

    There is a lot of confusion today between the terms Atheism / Agnosticism / Theism.

    We now see people who are Agnostic Atheists, Agostic Christians, Atheist Agnostics and that's just the beginning.

    I'm not sure what the dictionaries state on the matter but l'd like to cut through all the confusion.

    FACT #1: Our beliefs fluctuate, as the Muslims believe: Faith (Iman) goes up and down.

    Therefore: Labels addressing our thoughts in toto, are not useful, as we hold manycontradictory internal beliefs. Those contradictory beliefs are a good thing because it means we have an internal dialogue going on, it means we have reasoned our faith.

    FACT #2: Atheism, Agnosticism, Theism - these labels are NOT meaningless.

    Deep inside, we know what each of these things is. We just know.

    SOLUTION (= middle way between Fact #1 & #2, & the carnival of chimaeric appellations arising from the three labels Atheist, Agnostic, Theist): Let each of these terms relate to what the lips profess, regardless of the backend operations in the mind, the arguments to-and-fro in the backs of our minds. The label "Atheist" / "Agnostic" / "Theist" relate to the end conclusion of our bourgeoning internal dialogue on the matter with its many concessions to atheism & theism - the label is the END product of ALL that:

    Atheist thus means: "I acknowledge the arguments either way, & am willing to indulge more, but for NOW, l SAY there definitely is no God"

    Agnostic thus means: "I acknowledge the arguments either way, & am willing to indulge more, but for NOW, l SAY the arguments are stacked perefectly equal either way, hence l stand mute on the matter"

    Theist thus means: "I acknowledge the arguments either way, & am willing to indulge more, but for NOW, l SAY there is a God." Note that, at least in Islam, the religious adherents are called "Believers" ("Moomins" like in the children's TV show). Thus even though Atheism / Theism are unfalsifiable, the Theist is actually defined as a Believer not a Knower and is thus right with science.

    NOTES:

    * Agnosticism thus becomes unthinkable for a sentient being, a human with higher faculties intact. How can we, as creatures of refined aesthetic, be so perfectly on the fence between two rival beliefs? Have we no aesthetic inclination either way, at the very least?

    Also how can two rival beliefs be so perfectly matched as to justify Agnosticism as a permanent camp?

    * Agnostic Atheism = intellectual dishonesty. Atheists know that they cannot scientifically dismiss God, as God / Atheism are unfalsifiable. Therefore, they sit on the fence. Yet devoid of aesthetic (such that they cannot even feel preference for one camp over the other), they try to voice their materialism in a simultaneous declaration of Atheism, which totally contradicts the entire point of Agnosticism in my scheme.

    * Therefore l feel we can now do away with "Agnosticism" + "Agnostic Atheism". This leaves just Atheism and Theism. Therefore my solution is elegant.

    CONCLUSION:

    Atheism, Agnosticism, and Theism are now redefined as what the lips actually profess, not the mind in toto.

    It follows that Agnosticism as such doesn't exist.

    It also follows that Agnostic Atheism is intellectually dishonest.

    I would also like to make the charge of intellectual dishonesty against Atheism because God/No-God are unfalsifiable concepts, and as l've explained: Muslims at least consider the religious to be Believers, not Knowers, hence you cannot accuse them of being unscientific in violating unfalsifiability. I'm happy to leave that for another discussion though.

    Feel free to argue but l'd like to state: Beyond page 1 of this debate, l will likely switch off as will most other casual visitors.

    Please read this OP thoroughly before raising a point that has already been covered. I believe this OP is watertight. It's imperative that we adopt these new definitions of Atheism / Agnosticism / Theism.
    — SnoringKitten

    Grey vs Gray's reply to SnoringKitten continues:

    No one will follow your reasoning. No one will care. Of course your concept will influence people but ultimately their understanding of the words has to do with their experience and current attitude of a god.

    What an atheist will say is (what I am): You claim that there is a god? Wow that is amazing, but where is the proof? (The argument or lack there of is given and their attitude is unchanged.) Oh, we'll I don't believe that, I am not convinced. I am an atheist.

    What a theist will say: The universe was created, I just can't conceive of it starting from nothing. Nothing can't come from nothing. There must be a god.

    What a dogmatic theist will say: My god is the real god, everyone else is wrong and will suffer forever if they don't believe. I want to impose my beliefs because they are right. There is one true god.

    What an agnostic will say: The universe could have been created. I don't know. The universe could also have come to be from something else or nothing. Who knows. Is this really important? We don't have enough information to believe either, why be so convinced either way and argue over something no one can prove for a long time yet if at all.

    Of course the agnostic position is real, there is a spectral distribution of every human attribute.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    No one will follow your reasoning. No one will care.Grey Vs Gray

    Please keep it civil, and understand that the same could be said of your words. Also note that Appeal to Authority is a logical fallacy.


    Of course your concept will influence people but ultimately their understanding of the words has to do with their experience and current attitude of a god.Grey Vs Gray

    I suspect you completely missed the point of the OP. I am talking about the definition of the words used to represent attitudes, not the attitudes themselves, except maybe near the end where l discuss how Agnosticism and Atheist Agnosticism are both untenable & the field should be between Atheism and Theism only.


    What an atheist will say is (what I am): You claim that there is a god? Wow that is amazing, but where is the proof? (The argument or lack there of is given and their attitude is unchanged.) Oh, we'll I don't believe that, I am not convinced. I am an atheist.

    What a theist will say: The universe was created, I just can't conceive of it starting from nothing. Nothing can't come from nothing. There must be a god.

    What a dogmatic theist will say: My god is the real god, everyone else is wrong and will suffer forever if they don't believe. I want to impose my beliefs because they are right. There is one true god.
    Grey Vs Gray

    I have covered all this, regardless your misrepresentation of each camp.
    Current usage: take all different thoughts fielded within one cranium. Create a chimaeric term to represent all of them under one banner e.g. "dogmatic agnostic atheist with suprachiasmal leanings."

    My proposal: It is about what they say, the lip profession of belief, that defines which camp one is in, e.g. "Therefore, there is no God / there is a God".


    What an agnostic will say: The universe could have been created. I don't know. The universe could also have come to be from something else or nothing. Who knows. Is this really important? We don't have enough information to believe either, why be so convinced either way and argue over something no one can prove for a long time yet if at all.

    Of course the agnostic position is real, there is a spectral distribution of every human attribute.
    Grey Vs Gray

    I can no longer make excuses for you, you really have not read the OP. I have already covered this in the OP. Please re-read the OP.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.2k
    @SnoringKitten: What should we call the position of simply lacking belief either way? Agnostics per your usage believe the odds are equal, but what If i think I don't know the odds, and that guessing would be incoherent or intellectually dishonest?

    As such I lack belief, so I'm not a theist, but does that make me an atheist?

    My main objection is that you're altering the original philosophical uses of these terms. Agnosticism is meant to refer to the knowability of god, not whether or not belief in god is held (theism/atheism). Agnostic, ignostic, theological non-cognitivist. There are hundreds of terms people can choose to use, and there's not need to expect theism/agnosticism/atheism to conform to some kind of spectrum of statistical based belief.

    The main reason why your proposal is probably not a good idea is that most atheists don't claim to have knowledge about god's non-existence, they just to lack belief in god.

    Strong and weak atheism is the more useful distinction because it differentiates between an atheist who believes no gods exist vs an atheist who simply lacks belief in the existence of any gods. Once claims knowledge, the other claims ignorance and abstinence.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    Lacking a belief either way, sans any dialogue, is apathy. It is beyond the discussion. For example, a tree is not agnostic, it would merely have apathy or no opinion.

    As for dialogue and *then* Agnosticism: ok l edit myself: if both camps have been faithfully presented in their fullest, then the Agnostic has no excuse to be Agnostic, there must be an inclination one way, however slight.

    So, consider that both camps will likely not be fully summarised and the search for answers may span a lifetime, a person may say "for now, l am Agnostic". Still, that's in line with my OP. It's about what the lips profess.


    Re: agnosticism = the knowability of God, maybe that is the current definition but it is erratic because:
    - the debate about the knowability of God won't exist without the person giving the views lip service
    - it should be a pre-requisite that belief in God is unfalsifiable


    Re: strong & weak atheism: you see this is what l'm talking about. It crushes everything and puts it all on the same plane, whereas my system separates the arguments - which are many and complex - from the current lip profession. The current lip profession of a person is what makes them Atheist or Theist or even Agnostic. Simple, elegant.
  • Grey Vs Gray
    28
    My opening statements weren't intended as an insult, nor were they an appeal to authority. Just an observation, very few redefinitions stick (call it a premonition that people won't use the redefinitions, if a rude one). Although I admire your presentation.

    I may still be missing the point but if minds change why assume theism and atheism are fixed positions? Why throw out any labels for that matter? A person's label is what they are now not what they will be after they've mulled and chewed.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    Hi there, theism is theism, no? And atheism is atheism. So, an agnostic new atheist with nasal embolism is just a person that exists along a lot of different axes. Ask them how goes it. Their answer - that specific reply, that lip profession - is their sum belief, not the many different things going on in the background.

    In fact it appears you're agreeing with me?
  • BlueBanana
    875
    Agnostic Atheism = intellectual dishonesty. Atheists know that they cannot scientifically dismiss God, as God / Atheism are unfalsifiable.SnoringKitten

    Atheism =/= scientism. What agnostic atheism basically means is aknowledging their beliefs as beliefs, and as such subjective and not knowledge - if that's not an option, one can only be a theist.

    which totally contradicts the entire point of Agnosticism in my scheme.SnoringKitten

    So you're judging what the term agnostic atheism means with your definitions instead of the concept that the term refers to?

    How can we, as creatures of refined aesthetic, be so perfectly on the fence between two rival beliefs?SnoringKitten

    How not? An easy example is rejecting every argument of both sides.

    Have we no aesthetic inclination either way, at the very least?SnoringKitten

    A rational being would recognize such as not a valid argument and try to disregard it.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    When l say Atheists know that they cannot scientifically dismiss God, l mean in the context of falsifiability, they cannot dismiss God. The scientific method is based on theorising & falsifiability, no?

    Next:
    So i'm judging with regard to my own redefinitions? Yes, hence l made this thread.

    Next:
    Rejecting every argument of both sides is apathy not agnosticism. Either God exists or does not exist, so there is no middle ground, as we are talking about absolutes.

    Next:
    Aesthetic inclination - pah?
    Look at it this way: l have redefined Ag/Ath/Theism as lip profession, no longer about the backend processing that leads up to the lip profession. Therefore the backend stuff is free to be aesthetic preferences or whatever. It's all so simple now.

    Furthermore, Religious inspiration is on the same stratum as aesthetics.

    Furthermore, because Ath / Theism are unfalisifiable, what remains after all is said and done is: what moves you? Hence, has the Agnostic at least no feeling on the matter? Should they , though? Yes, because they are, as you so tout, rational beings, not stones or trees or even sheep for that matter. Where's that aesthetic feeling, the highest expression of the rational mind?
  • BlueBanana
    875
    When l say Atheists know that they cannot scientifically dismiss God, l mean in the context of falsifiability, they cannot dismiss God. The scientific method is based on theorising & falsifiability, no?SnoringKitten

    Ok, within that context what's the problem with objectively aknowledging the difference between one's beliefs and knowledge?

    So i'm judging with regard to my own redefinitions? Yes, hence l made this thread.SnoringKitten

    Does not follow. When you redefine terms it's like creating a new language: you have to translate the terms. Example:

    I define "your" as "the smell of" and "opinion" as "the smell of purple". Therefore, your opinions are incoherent and their existence paradoxal.

    That does not mean your opinions are incoherent, because those words don't refer to your opinion. Similarly, you did not prove anything about agnostic atheism, only about what those terms mean with your definitions. That meaning is not what one refers to when they say they identify as an agnostic atheist.

    Rejecting every argument of both sides is apathy not agnosticism.SnoringKitten

    Not if it's the logical conclusion.

    Do I have a beard? I say I do because 2+2=5 AND that's false, although also true, and you can derive the conclusion from contradiction. Is your rejection of this reasoning apathy?

    Therefore the backend stuff is free to be aesthetic preferences or whatever.SnoringKitten

    It's also free to be the voice of rationality telling you to recognize and disregard irrationality when making objective claims.

    what moves you?SnoringKitten

    Eh?

    Where's that aesthetic feeling, the highest expression of the rational mind?SnoringKitten

    That's the highest expression of mind, if anything, and I'd debate that even further. The highest expressions of rational mind are rationality, questioning and logic.
  • PossibleAaran
    178
    Agnosticism thus becomes unthinkable for a sentient being, a human with higher faculties intact. How can we, as creatures of refined aesthetic, be so perfectly on the fence between two rival beliefs? Have we no aesthetic inclination either way, at the very least?

    Also how can two rival beliefs be so perfectly matched as to justify Agnosticism as a permanent camp?
    SnoringKitten

    Seems easy enough to be an Agnostic to me. Suppose you hear a set of arguments in favour of God's existence and a set of arguments against. You find both arguments somewhat convincing but you also see some defects in them. You decide you don't really have enough information. You refrain from judging the matter either way. What is unthinkable about that? If you tell me that John robbed the safe and someone else tells me that John didn't rob the safe, and I have nothing else to go on, I might well find myself unable to decide between the two. I don't see why such a state of mind is so difficult for you to understand.

    You should also note that your definitions of Theism and Atheism are in terms of what someone would be willing to say. I might have a very slight inclination towards the view that there is a God, but not be all that sure about it, and so be unwilling to say that there is a God. As such the mere inclination towards belief is not sufficient for Theism by your own definition. It is possible, then, for there to be a person with an inclination towards belief (or disbelief) who is still neither an Atheist nor a Theist. Why not call that person, as traditionally was done, an Agnostic?


    I think it still useful to distinguish Agnostics from others. I wonder if this will make it to page 2 so that you never read it...

    PA
  • S
    6.2k
    This comment has been edited. It was from a different discussion and doesn't belong here.
  • Michael
    7.3k
    Agnostic thus means: "I acknowledge the arguments either way, & am willing to indulge more, but for NOW, l SAY the arguments are stacked perefectly equal either way, hence l stand mute on the matter"SnoringKitten

    That's not agnosticism. Agnosticism, as explained by William L. Rowe, is "the view that human reason is incapable of providing sufficient rational grounds to justify either the belief that God exists or the belief that God does not exist."

    If you're interested in a history lesson, the term "agnostic" was coined by Thomas Henry Huxley to mean "that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe".

    There is a lot of confusion today between the terms Atheism / Agnosticism / Theism.SnoringKitten

    Well, you might be confused, but we're not. The solution isn't to redefine the terms but for you to just learn them.
  • S
    6.2k
    This comment has been edited. It was from a different discussion and doesn't belong here.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    "Ok, within that context what's the problem with objectively aknowledging the difference between one's beliefs and knowledge?"
    What?

    Let me explain again: We cannot ourselves prove that God exists or not therefore God / Atheism are unfalsifiable beliefs. That is taken for granted in all of my arguments in the OP.

    Atheists claim God does not exist. Therefore Atheism is unscientific.



    "Does not follow. When you redefine terms it's like creating a new language: you have to translate the terms. Example:

    I define "your" as "the smell of" and "opinion" as "the smell of purple". Therefore, your opinions are incoherent and their existence paradoxal."


    Reductio ad absurdum. Not that you've reduced by logic a thing to its absurd core, but rather, you've used an absurdity and applied it to a logical statement, then declared it to be illogical.

    I am NOT making random substitutions as you are in your example. I have reasoned my redefenitions out. My redefenitions cut through the morass of complexity that currently surrounds the terms and simplifies them, separating the dialogue around them, from the person commenting on them.



    "Not if it's the logical conclusion.

    Do I have a beard? I say I do because 2+2=5 AND that's false, although also true, and you can derive the conclusion from contradiction. Is your rejection of this reasoning apathy?"


    Again reductio ad absurdum. I have also already explained the folly in agnosticism, in a post directed to you, you have yet to counter that. You are not reading my replies.

    I have literally answered everything you have re-stated. Think of when two arguments are perfectly matched, there yet remains one's feelings on the matter. Also, as l've said, either God exists or not, there is no actual middle ground, the middle ground is only when the two camps are perfectly balanced, regarding which, l've already explained: where are a person's feelings on the matter?

    As you are causing repetition of my arguments directly given to you, by ignoring them and just re-stating your own, l shall therefore not answer your further posts. Sorry. Peace :)
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    I've already answered this in previous posts, l believe this is still all on page 1 so still accessible :) Peace
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    All you are doing is scoffing. I shall therefore no longer reply to you. Peace :)
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    My redefinitions work better. They are more elegant, hence l proposed them and explained them in great detail. I need not learn anytihng, maybe you could learn my OP. Please don't arrogantly tell people to go learn the truth of your viewpoint, rather than argue it out and so prove it.

    Please do not reply with a yet more inflammatory post, either reason it out, or l shall not discuss with you because anything beyond that is ego-war. Peace :)
  • Jake
    518
    Either God exists or does not exist, so there is no middle ground, as we are talking about absolutes.SnoringKitten

    This is a very common assumption which unites the vast majority of atheists and theists. This assumption is easily questioned by using the atheist principle of referring to an observation of reality.

    The overwhelming vast majority of reality is space. Does space exist? This isn't such a simple black and white question. Something separates the Earth and Moon, but whatever it is between them appears to have none of the properties we associate with existence. Space is there, and yet it is not.

    The point here is that if the vast overwhelming majority of reality can not be firmly said to either exist or not exist, there's no logical reason to assume that a God would be limited to either existence or non-existence. And yet, the vast majority of God debate discussion for centuries has made the dualistic "exists or not" assumption, and rarely questions that assumption.

    This is the state of the God debate. We love to argue over competing answers, but the truth is we actually have little idea how to even frame the questions. Which leads us to....
  • Jake
    518
    A new term I made up for fun, Fundamentalist Agnostic.

    A Fundie Agnostic rejects not just particular positions within the God debate but the God debate itself, embraces the reality of our vast ignorance, and looks for ways to put that ignorance to constructive use.

    We've conducted a long investigation in the form of the God debate. That investigation has revealed that none of us really know what the #$%%^ we're talking about. The rational person accepts the ignorance the investigation has discovered, and attempts to make good use of what has been found.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    Hi there, it is black and white and your analogy is false.

    Space contains things such as what we call space, plus dust, plus stars, planets, and so on.
    However, God being omnipresent, omnipotent & actually infinite, is primordial, and there is nothing but him. Therefore you cannot analogise his existence with something (our visible universe) that exists as a frozen thought within him.

    Furthermore, space has many different things, whereas the plane of our discussion: "God exists or not?" - is defined as two possibilities. There is no middle ground in the definition, nor can there be.
  • Michael
    7.3k
    Please don't arrogantly tell people to go learn the truth of your viewpoint, rather than argue it out and so prove it.SnoringKitten

    The meaning of a word isn't a viewpoint that needs to be argued.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    I am redefning the meanings, to bring clarity to a vast body of debate. You are replying that l am a deviant and l should get back with orthodoxy. We all know how that goes.
  • Michael
    7.3k
    My redefinitions work better.SnoringKitten

    They don't. The agnostic position is a position even if we redefine the word "agnostic" out of existence as you have tried to do. But what problem does that solve? The position remains; now we just don't have a name for it.
  • Jake
    518
    Space contains things such as what we call space, plus dust, plus stars, planets, and so on.SnoringKitten

    Yes, those things within space can be said to fit the definition of existence for they have weight, mass, shape, size etc. Space itself has none of those properties, or at least it is unclear what properties space may have.

    I'm not making a physics point. I'm pointing only to the fact that it's very unclear whether the vast majority of reality (space) exists or not, according our definition of existence. As currently observed, space seems to occupy a place outside of our simplistic definition of existence. Thus, there's no logical reason to insist that a God must either exist or not, one or the other.

    You will have to reject this of course, as do almost all God debate commentators, because if you accept it the entire thread collapses under it's own weight.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    It solves the following (as per the OP):

    - We have many different, often contradictory viewpoints in mind. These view points are often changing in their levels day to day, hour by hour.

    Labelling onesself by putting all our different viewpoints into one chimaeric appellation is inelegant. Moreover, with terms such as Agnostic Atheist, it becomes contradictory.

    Also, take terms such as "Hard / Soft Atheist". OK fair enough it tells you what you can expect of a person. But it also seals off debate.

    What i do is reduce the label to the simplest aspect: lip profession (profession of faith is important in Islam, it's one of the five pillars, but also Muslims make a profession of faith before embarking on any big thing, including the slaughter of animals for food).

    That leaves the bourgeoning debate behind the lip profession still open to debate. Still able to grow. Whereas the current style is to make a person's label a thought terminating cliche. A hard atheist, a soft atheist, an atheist agnostic. No further debate possible. However, if a person is called a Believer, they acknowledge the unfalisifiability of their conviction that Theism is correct, and when we reduce the labels to lip profession, we also leave open debate.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    Hi this is a separate debate entirely. Also l'm not even sure what you are talking about.

    I believe you are telling me l cannot prove God exists. However, as per the OP, my redefenitions are predicated on precisely accepting the unfalisifiability of God / No-God.
  • Jake
    518
    whereas the plane of our discussion: "God exists or not?" - is defined as two possibilities. There is no middle ground in the definition, nor can there be.SnoringKitten

    Ok, yes, in the realm of artificially constructed conceptual boundaries you can if you prefer will middle ground to vanish. Ignore the evidence provided by reality if you wish, that's your choice to make.
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    Please can you tackle my arguments.
  • Michael
    7.3k
    Moreover, with terms such as Agnostic Atheist, it becomes contradictory.SnoringKitten

    This is where you're going wrong. "Agnostic atheist" isn't a contradiction (using the ordinary definitions of "agnostic" and "atheist").
  • SnoringKitten
    34
    I believe it's contradictory because in my scheme:
    Agnosticism = either way, l cannot decide, though l've tried to
    Atheism = I've considered the options, and l bear witness that there is no God

    Thus there is a contradiction in bringing the two together
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