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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 5:43PM #51
Abner1
Posts: 6,403

Arielg wrote:


> Some so-called atheists should start using "agnosticism" instead.


No, because agnosticism doesn't clearly describe my position either.  One of the major definitions of agnosticism (indeed, the original definition of the term) is the claim that whether or not any gods exist is unknowable.  I don't make that claim, since plenty of people know whether or not there is a god.  Some of them know there is a god, some of them know there isn't a god, and the ones who know that there is a god can't agree on which god or gods they know exist ... but given the sheer number of people I know who claim to know whether or not there is a god, I just don't regard that as unknowable.  I'm just not an agnostic by that definition.


Rather than insisting that everyone should start labeling themselves according to your favorite definitions of those terms (and ignore all the others), perhaps you should just accept that the words have many definitions and that you will have to ask further questions in order to find out exactly which type of atheist and/or agnostic you are dealing with.  Which, come to think of it, is exactly the case with 'theist' too.  Someone who is a theist could be a monotheist, a polytheist, a deist, and even those get broken up into different branches.  Someone who is an atheist could be a strong atheist, a weak atheist, and even those get broken up into different branches.  The terms are useful, but not conclusive: you have to ask more questions to find out exactly what that particular person does or does not believe.


It's more work, but it's a lot more polite than trying to get everyone to use one and only one meaning per word for complex issues.

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 5:49PM #52
Abner1
Posts: 6,403

Ken wrote:


> Any philosopher, theologian or linguist worth his or her salt will surely be aware


> that distinctions are made between explicit and implicit atheism, positive and


> negative atheism, and strong and weak atheism.


I am reminded of someone I know who calls himself a philosopher and to this day holds forth on any number of topics with great certainty on the basis of his supposed expertise.


He dropped out of his sophomore year as a philosophy major; he failed most of his classes because he already knew it all and wouldn't listen to the actual experts who were teaching the classes.  I read some of his papers afterwards ... they were complete and utter dreck.  In most cases he badly misrepresented what his supposed sources were saying; in the rest, he just made it up and declared it to be obvious or by definition.  From one of his papers, from memory:  "Love is obviously a social arrangement based on reciprocity, so it is clearly impossible to love someone unless they love you back.  Therefore if you love someone, it is certain that they love you back."  *shudders*

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 5:50PM #53
Girlchristian
Posts: 11,384

Feb 27, 2012 -- 5:17PM, Abner1 wrote:


Girlchristian wrote:


> Here is an interesting article on the history/definition of atheism from


> University of Cambridge, www.investigatingatheism.info/definition....


> "Perhaps the most obvious meaning to many people now is the absence or rejection


> of a belief in a  God, or gods."


Like many words about complex things, it has multiple definitions.  Note that the above phrasing covers all major uses of the word, including lack (absence) of belief.


> "However, it has been used through much of history to denote certain beliefs seen


> as heretical, particularly the belief that God does not intervene in the world."


True, which is why Christians were labeled atheists because of their disbelief in the Roman gods; such use is generally considered archaic today, however.  Very few people in the modern era would claim that the ancient Greeks were atheists because they didn't believe in the Christian God (or vice versa).


> "More recently, atheists have argued that atheism only denotes a lack of theistic belief,


> rather than the active denial or claims of certainty it is often associated with.


Isn't it rather odd that the people who usually associate atheism with claims of certainty are the people who are trying to argue against atheism, not the atheists themselves?  Dawkins is perhaps one of the most famous atheists currently alive, and he doesn't claim to be certain - so by the definition that outsiders keep trying to force on atheism, one of the most famous atheists in the world isn't an atheist.  It's like non-Christians trying to define Christianity in such a way that both Billy Graham and the pope end up not being Christians.




Well, it is interesting to note that in a recent discussion between Dawkins and the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dawkins referred to himself as an agnostic and when the Archbishop replied with 'your known as the most famous atheist in the world' Dawkin's response was 'not by me.' He rated himself as a 6.9 out of a 7 atheist scale, but because he acknowledges that one can't know for sure he doesn't refer to himself as an atheist.


I think, unfortunately, atheists are lumped together just as Christians are and since words are fluid and their meanings evolve, it's really best to take each person for their beliefs and what they say they are. To some Christians on this board, I'm not a Christian because I don't agree with their version of Christianity, but that doesn't mean I'm not a Christian. Some atheists do mean that they actively don't believe God exists. Others simply mean that they lack a belief in God. Others mean that they're really not all that sure so they aren't willing to commit to a belief or disbelief.  

"No matter how dark the moment, love and hope are always possible." George Chakiris

“For those who believe, no proof is necessary. For those who don't believe, no proof is possible.” Stuart Chase
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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 6:09PM #54
Abner1
Posts: 6,403

Girlchristian wrote:


> Well, it is interesting to note that in a recent discussion between Dawkins and


> the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dawkins referred to himself as an agnostic and


> when the Archbishop replied with 'your known as the most famous atheist in the


> world' Dawkin's response was 'not by me.' He rated himself as a 6.9 out of a 7


> atheist scale, but because he acknowledges that one can't know for sure he


> doesn't refer to himself as an atheist.


Ah, you read about that too ... and that's my point.  If you require absolute certainty or rigid belief in order to be an atheist, you've basically defined atheists out of existence ...  even the most strident positive atheists are likely to admit, if asked, that they are fallible and might be wrong.  A 7-out-of-7, as per Dawkins, must be stunningly rare; I know hundreds of atheists and can't think of any 7-out-of-7's in the entire bunch.  I know you've sparred with Mountain Man, so you know he's an atheist ... but he isn't a 7-out-of-7 either.


The vast majority of atheists don't fall into that extreme case.  Dawkins is far closer to that end of the scale than I am, and even he doesn't hit it.  Perhaps the agnostics are trying to recruit us through the back door?  "No, you're not an atheist, you're an agnostic like me."


> I think, unfortunately, atheists are lumped together just as Christians are and since


> words are fluid and their meanings evolve, it's really best to take each person for


> their beliefs and what they say they are. To some Christians on this board, I'm


> not a Christian because I don't agree with their version of Christianity, but that


> doesn't mean I'm not a Christian. Some atheists do mean that they actively


> don't believe God exists. Others simply mean that they lack a belief in God. Others


> mean that they're really not all that sure so they aren't willing to commit to a


> belief or disbelief.  


Agreed.  IMO it's best to take the effort to investigate further rather than to assume that a short label can really capture all the complexities of someone's beliefs (or lack thereof) on such a subject.


Years ago, I ran into a debater on a board who started correcting my positions for me.  I would say that I was in favor of X, and he would post "No, you're actually in favor of Y."  When I asked him, he explained that I was in favor of higher taxes (a gross oversimplification of my actual position, of course) and so I must be a Democrat.  But in a later thread I said I was in favor of nuclear power, and all Democrats were against nuclear power, so he wanted to correct my misrepresentation of my views.  Same when I said I favored second amendment rights ...  He really felt that he could label me based on my position on one topic and then know my positions on a bunch of other topics from that label.


Broad labels like 'Democrat' and 'Christian' and 'atheist' just can't carry that much information - there's too much variability in each group.

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 10:22PM #55
Father_Oblivion
Posts: 11,894

Feb 27, 2012 -- 5:09PM, Ken wrote:


Feb 27, 2012 -- 4:30PM, arielg wrote:


Atheism would not exists without theism, as the word itself connotes. It is dependent on the idea of theism.  It is a negation of it. It is the other side of the same coin. It is  nothing in itself.


Some so-called atheists should start using "agnosticism" instead.



Many do. An agnostic is defined as an atheist who doesn't want to be identified as one because his rich grandmother might cut him out of her will.




I have no rich grandmother, or any other relatives still alive yet I am an agnostic and definitely not an atheist.

The important thing to remember about American history is that it is fictional, a charcoal-sketched simplicity for the children or the easily bored. For the most part it is uninspected, unimagined, unthought, a representative of the thing and not the thing itself. It is a fine fiction...
Neil Gaiman
'American Gods'

‎"Ignorance of ignorance, then, is that self-satisfied state of unawareness in which man, knowing nothing outside the limited area of his physical senses, bumptiously declares there is nothing more to know! He who knows no life save the physical is merely ignorant; but he who declares physical life to be all-important and elevates it to the position of supreme reality--such a one is ignorant of his own ignorance."
- Manly Palmer Hall
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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 10:29PM #56
Father_Oblivion
Posts: 11,894

Feb 27, 2012 -- 5:31PM, Abner1 wrote:


FatherOblivion wrote:


> Well, my information comes from the Linguistics Departments at the University


> of Pennsylvania and Harvard and is the commonly understood meaning of these


> two words among philosophers, theologians and linguists.


I have absolutely no reason to take your word for that.


> No need to look in a mirror, I actually looked at the root and sought the truth.


As did I, and came to a different conclusion than you did.  I have no reason to think that you know better than the sources I have read on this matter; given a choice between the words I have read by actual experts on the subject and the unsupported claims of an anonymous dude on the internet, I'll choose them over you every time.




I named my sources so you could check for yourself, no need to take my word for it whatsoever. Your failure to check a stated source is not my problem. And my sources are living people that can be checked with a phone call or an e-mail, not merely writings that you don't even care to name, except to say that they are 'actual experts' as if none exist in the University of Pennsylvania nor Harvard. You being the one providing 'annonymous dude' references as opposed to my direct references, try following your own advice.

The important thing to remember about American history is that it is fictional, a charcoal-sketched simplicity for the children or the easily bored. For the most part it is uninspected, unimagined, unthought, a representative of the thing and not the thing itself. It is a fine fiction...
Neil Gaiman
'American Gods'

‎"Ignorance of ignorance, then, is that self-satisfied state of unawareness in which man, knowing nothing outside the limited area of his physical senses, bumptiously declares there is nothing more to know! He who knows no life save the physical is merely ignorant; but he who declares physical life to be all-important and elevates it to the position of supreme reality--such a one is ignorant of his own ignorance."
- Manly Palmer Hall
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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 10:48PM #57
Abner1
Posts: 6,403

FatherOblivion wrote:


> I named my sources so you could check for yourself, no need to take my word for


> it whatsoever.


"the Linguistics Departments at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard" isn't much of a source - it's not particularly specific and isn't checkable by any reasonable methods.  No quotes, no links, no names - just a suggestion on your part that I call or email random people in hopes of finding whoever you think is backing up your claims.  It's your job to back up your claims, not mine.  You haven't supported your claims in any way.


> You being the one providing 'annonymous dude' references as opposed to my direct


> references, try following your own advice.


If that's your idea of a "direct reference", you don't have much experience with academia.  I think I'll take my knowledge from people who know how to spell 'anonymous' (or, like Girlchristian, were actually able to provide some backup for their claims).

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 11:25PM #58
Father_Oblivion
Posts: 11,894

Feb 27, 2012 -- 5:43PM, Abner1 wrote:


Arielg wrote:


> Some so-called atheists should start using "agnosticism" instead.


No, because agnosticism doesn't clearly describe my position either.  One of the major definitions of agnosticism (indeed, the original definition of the term) is the claim that whether or not any gods exist is unknowable.  I don't make that claim, since plenty of people know whether or not there is a god.  Some of them know there is a god, some of them know there isn't a god, and the ones who know that there is a god can't agree on which god or gods they know exist ... but given the sheer number of people I know who claim to know whether or not there is a god, I just don't regard that as unknowable.  I'm just not an agnostic by that definition.


Rather than insisting that everyone should start labeling themselves according to your favorite definitions of those terms (and ignore all the others), perhaps you should just accept that the words have many definitions and that you will have to ask further questions in order to find out exactly which type of atheist and/or agnostic you are dealing with.  Which, come to think of it, is exactly the case with 'theist' too.  Someone who is a theist could be a monotheist, a polytheist, a deist, and even those get broken up into different branches.  Someone who is an atheist could be a strong atheist, a weak atheist, and even those get broken up into different branches.  The terms are useful, but not conclusive: you have to ask more questions to find out exactly what that particular person does or does not believe.


It's more work, but it's a lot more polite than trying to get everyone to use one and only one meaning per word for complex issues.




Nobody 'knows' except the dead, and they aren't telling.


Anyone claiming to know whether God, Gods or any supernatural entity exists would need to provide proof to show that it is knowledge and not opinion and since that isn't possible, nobody can 'know'. The same goes for any claims of non-existence. This is a central idea in the philosophy of mind that is yet to be refuted, and if you can do so here, by all means publish. You would be eligible for a Nobel Prize, I have no doubt.


What I am finding most interesting about this discussion is that I have made the claim to have studied philosophy and theology for several decades, but I have made no claim to a formal education on the subject of philosophy nor do I now, I simply have spent quite a bit of time studying the subject on my own since I find it deeply interesting. I have made an unequivical claim regarding the etymology of two words and challenged anyone to show them as false and that has not been done. Rather, I have been beset by logical falacies ranging from a lack of logical continuance (no direct statements of A=B, B=C and therefore A=C, but rather that there are somehow multiple meanings without any unequivocal references to the source of those multiple meanings), ad hominem ('an anonymous dude'), argument by authority (with no specific authority actually cited only the claim of reading what 'experts' have written), ad-hoc reasoning (atheists know that they are atheists, so you have no right to question what they call themselves) and even moving the goalposts ('there is more than one kind of atheist').


If you seriously want to argue this point, you need to do so effectively. All you have presented is opinion and innuendo in support of your opinion, and it doesn't fly.

The important thing to remember about American history is that it is fictional, a charcoal-sketched simplicity for the children or the easily bored. For the most part it is uninspected, unimagined, unthought, a representative of the thing and not the thing itself. It is a fine fiction...
Neil Gaiman
'American Gods'

‎"Ignorance of ignorance, then, is that self-satisfied state of unawareness in which man, knowing nothing outside the limited area of his physical senses, bumptiously declares there is nothing more to know! He who knows no life save the physical is merely ignorant; but he who declares physical life to be all-important and elevates it to the position of supreme reality--such a one is ignorant of his own ignorance."
- Manly Palmer Hall
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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 11:26PM #59
Ken
Posts: 33,859

Feb 27, 2012 -- 10:22PM, Father_Oblivion wrote:


Feb 27, 2012 -- 5:09PM, Ken wrote:


Feb 27, 2012 -- 4:30PM, arielg wrote:


Atheism would not exists without theism, as the word itself connotes. It is dependent on the idea of theism.  It is a negation of it. It is the other side of the same coin. It is  nothing in itself.


Some so-called atheists should start using "agnosticism" instead.



Many do. An agnostic is defined as an atheist who doesn't want to be identified as one because his rich grandmother might cut him out of her will.




I have no rich grandmother, or any other relatives still alive yet I am an agnostic and definitely not an atheist.



Are you a strong, weak, pragmatic or theistic agnostic?

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3 years ago  ::  Feb 27, 2012 - 11:28PM #60
Father_Oblivion
Posts: 11,894

Feb 27, 2012 -- 10:48PM, Abner1 wrote:


FatherOblivion wrote:


> I named my sources so you could check for yourself, no need to take my word for


> it whatsoever.


"the Linguistics Departments at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard" isn't much of a source - it's not particularly specific and isn't checkable by any reasonable methods.  No quotes, no links, no names - just a suggestion on your part that I call or email random people in hopes of finding whoever you think is backing up your claims.  It's your job to back up your claims, not mine.  You haven't supported your claims in any way.


> You being the one providing 'annonymous dude' references as opposed to my direct


> references, try following your own advice.


If that's your idea of a "direct reference", you don't have much experience with academia.  I think I'll take my knowledge from people who know how to spell 'anonymous' (or, like Girlchristian, were actually able to provide some backup for their claims).




There is no reason for me to give you a source that you will not check. It is fairly easy to go to the website of either institution and make an inquiry using e-mail with the English department of either one. As for my misspellings, sometimes I type quickly without proofreading and miss keys or double hit them unintentionally. If that is your basis for a refutation, you are in way over your head.

The important thing to remember about American history is that it is fictional, a charcoal-sketched simplicity for the children or the easily bored. For the most part it is uninspected, unimagined, unthought, a representative of the thing and not the thing itself. It is a fine fiction...
Neil Gaiman
'American Gods'

‎"Ignorance of ignorance, then, is that self-satisfied state of unawareness in which man, knowing nothing outside the limited area of his physical senses, bumptiously declares there is nothing more to know! He who knows no life save the physical is merely ignorant; but he who declares physical life to be all-important and elevates it to the position of supreme reality--such a one is ignorant of his own ignorance."
- Manly Palmer Hall
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