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View Poll Results: Do you consider yourself an agnostic or atheist?
agnostic 57 36.54%
atheist 99 63.46%
Voters: 156. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 07-04-2013, 07:34 PM
3DJ
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
It's surprising how often this idea comes up. It's clearly because people have this definition in mind:

Atheist - someone who says god doesn't exist. At best they are quite sure about it.

Agnostic- someone who isn't as sure about whether a god exists or not as an atheist is.

It is a misunderstanding and often misunderstood by atheists, too.

Let's run it through again.

Agnosticism is a knowledge position. 'I do not know whether there is a god or not'

Atheism is a belief position based on agnosticism. 'I do not know whether a god exists or not...so I will not believe in one until I do know.'
"Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe." ~ Thomas H Huxley

Agnosticism was not intended to be compatible with Theism or Atheism (strong Atheism) belief positions. It was intended to be the default no belief position. The misunderstanding has been growing due to an A-theist redefinition movement, started by the likes of George H Smith. Smith butchers the definition of Agnosticism, in his book ATHEISM: The Case Against God, then, on the claim that there is no label for non-believers, pushes redefining Athe-ism to A-theism and adding the Strong and Weak adjectives. It is the A-theists that have misunderstood definitions.
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Old 07-04-2013, 09:05 PM
 
Location: East Coast of the United States
17,246 posts, read 19,541,004 times
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I'm as certain that there is no God as I am that there is no Hercules, Superman, Santa Claus or Luke Skywalker. Therefore, I consider myself to be an atheist.

Isn't it funny how "agnosticism" only applies to God, but it never applies to any other imaginary concept invented by humans?
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Old 07-04-2013, 09:29 PM
 
354 posts, read 245,845 times
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Quote:
I just don't care if someone says atheist or agnostic.
Except that atheist and agnostic is not synonymous. One can be for instance an agnostic theist just as another person can be an agnostic atheist. In fact, I would highly suggest all humans lie in one of these two categories.


Quote:
Atheist/agnostic/non believer/heathen. They all work for me.
Atheist/non believer: works
agnostic: describes something other than belief
heathen: is generally a pejorative
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Old 07-04-2013, 09:50 PM
 
354 posts, read 245,845 times
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Quote:
Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern
So basically according to Huxley (who coined this term) agnosticism is simply understanding that nothing is known with absolute certainty. I agree with that. Science is about shades of probability.

Quote:
It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe." ~ Thomas H Huxley
By this definition of his own coined term, Huxley makes claiming god belief impossible. Sadly, most of the theists are not paying attention as professing naked assertions concerning god belief is still very popular.
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:09 AM
 
39,056 posts, read 10,837,135 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chaparrito View Post
An atheist can no more prove the non-existence of god than a true believer can prove the opposite. I find both types tedious and their arguments pointless.
I appreciate your position. It would not be necessary to have these arguments if theists did not keep presenting arguments supposed to prove that the god they believe in does exist.

Thus we have to keep presenting the tedious and pointless arguments to show that their 'evidence' proves nothing of the kind. Because we have the logical basis for not believing and need to keep fighting for the freedom to be allowed to do so.
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Old 07-05-2013, 03:10 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tilli View Post
These are not mutually exclusive options.

Agnostic doesn't mean undecided. "Gnostic" refers to knowledge. The prefix "A" represents the absence of the term that follows. So someone who is agnostic on the subject of god claims to have no knowledge of whether god exists or not, or even that such knowledge is impossible to have. We simply can not prove it one way or another. The question of whether or not deities exist is not knowable by human beings, at least not at this point in time, and therefore I am agnostic.

"Theist" is someone who believes in a deity or many of them. Again the prefix "A" indicates an absence of theism. I lack belief that any deities exist, because I have seen no evidence which leads me to believe that they do. Therefore I am also an atheist.

I am an agnostic atheist. I acknowledge that it is possible that deities exist, but I do not believe that they do. Certainly none of the ones dreamed up by humanity have a shred of evidence to support their existence, and most of them are mutually exclusive, claiming that all the others are figments. I think they are all figments.

It is also possible to be an agnostic theist - to acknowledge that the existence of deities is not knowable, but to believe anyway. Then there is that rare breed of the gnostic atheist who claims to know that no deities exist - but there are very few of these and I submit that it is not a well thought out position, hence gnostic atheists tend to turn into agnostic ones as they mature and think more deeply on the subject. And of course gnostic theists are rampant.
Tilly has it right.

Quote:
Originally Posted by kayanne View Post
Can you explain why you feel that way?

For me, after spending decades as a Bible-believing fundamentalist Christian, leaving that faith and trying to figure out what I believe was the hardest decision of my entire life. It was literally several years of overwhelming anguish and confusion, plus guilt over the fact that I had raised my children to believe in fundamentalist Christianity, and then I "pulled the rug out" from under them (my son's words).

I consider myself an agnostic now. I simply do not know what I believe. I only know what I DON'T believe anymore.

If what you don't believe is in God - that is, you are not convinced that the god of the Bible or any other god really exists then a -theist is what you are. You may or may not be anti -theist. You may or may not be militant about being against organized religion, but a -theist is what one is if they do not believe in a god.

I am atheist and a militant one. But I am not anti -theist. I have always said that I can share a flat with a deist and in fact I have shared a flat with theists, though we did sometimes debate the matter, it never dented our friendship.

I have never really got on with this 'hard' and 'soft' atheism. I can understand this idea of being more unsure of whether or not a god exists and being quite sure it doesn't, but I am sure that this is based on confusing the various meanings of 'God' (cosmic mind or Trible-god) and this business of thinking that agnosisticism is just a less arrogant form of atheism - a misconception fostered by Christian misrepresentations of what atheists are and how they think.

I am not anti -theist, either. I am not even anti -religion, as such. What I am anti is the influence that religious authorities have on our society and politics. About this I am militant and that makes me a militant atheist.

I try not to let it make me a rude one, though of course the believers are going to take it personally.

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 07-05-2013 at 03:26 AM..
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Old 07-05-2013, 03:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mordant View Post
Atheism is a position about belief; agnosticism is a position about knowledge. I am an agnostic atheist; I don't believe god CAN be proven or disproven just as leprechauns cannot be proven or disproven (there are some legends and stories and some people with unverified claims of having encountered them, but no empirical evidence, but on the other hand no mathematical formula, say, that "proves" the do not and cannot exist). But I consider the likelihood so vanishingly small that I do not believe in either god or leprechauns.

A gnostic atheist would say god is disproven and he knows god does not exist. Ultimately the distinction is nit-picky because both gnostic and agnostic atheists are unbelievers. Fundamentalist Christians are often under the misapprehension that all atheists are gnostic atheists; actually very few of us are, at least in my experience.

Fundamentalist theists are gnostic theists; they know god exists and they believe in him. The further you get from fundamentalism the more you have agnostic theists; when pressed it becomes apparent that they believe in god but more in general principle and the belief is loosely held; they are more interested in the Golden Rule than in cultivating a "relationship" with god. They feel creepy about the idea of KNOWING god, it sounds a bit crazy and over the top. They want to identify with the "good guys" who believe in god but not the nutjobs who claim to KNOW him and (shudder) talk to him. To them, god is ineffable.

I discussed the above in the context of (dis)belief or (lack of) knowledge with respect to the Christian god; it's important to note, however, that atheism is a position about ANY god. Even fundamentalists are atheists about all gods except their own, but their belief in their god disqualifies them from the atheist label as commonly used and understood. Besides, their unbelief in other gods is an unexamined thing for the most part. Atheism is a reasoned position about the concept of belief about gods generally, not about some particular doctrine or belief system about some particular god.
Excellent post dealing with the question of not being 'agnostic' but knowing (just as we 'know' that leprechauns do not exists -though we cannot be -technically speaking - 100% certain) that a god does not exists (and this really depends on what one means by 'God') or 'knowing' though personal evidential conviction or experience that God does exist. In which case, they are Gnostic theists.

I suppose I am a gnostic atheist as regards Biblegod. I would put less credence on that mythical deity than on Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, and I was once willing to give them some credence, too.

I wouldn't go that far with Sortagod or Mystic's Cosmic Mind or the God of Einstein. I even can see how unthinking nature could also be forward planning by time looping back on itself, but that's all speculative and so I reserve belief, let alone claiming it as some life -changing Fact that talks to me when I pray.
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Old 07-05-2013, 03:48 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Jaggy001 View Post
Some come from a position of belief others come from a position of disbelieve and some just don't give a flying one about the whole religious mumbo-jumbo.
This is right, too. (these are all Very good posts, folks ) as you are describing irreligion. Now, one can believe in a god but not care about or even oppose organized religion. Under the Penn Jillett initiative, these irreligious theists are our allies against the stranglehold of man made religions and their authoritarian boss -figures.

They may not see it that way and I can understand it if they regard an alliance with the atheist bastards as a bad one. Atheists themselves have to become a lot more aware and informed and realize that religion itself is Mostly Harmless - provided you don't let it take control.

Once the irreligious theists realize that atheists have understood that they (in a global humanist worldview) will not only let people believe what they want, but also encourage it, and help to preserve and restore places of worship and their treasures, because they can be beautiful and inspiring and provide something which science and logic cannot on an emotional basis (1) they may be more willing to join with us in removing the bindweed of religious dogma from the garden of the body politic. (2)


(1)In other words, it would be regarded as an Art -form which its protagonists take a bit too literally.

(2) as it seems our brothers in Instanbul and Cairo are doing. They are all muslims but they seem to be aware of the dangers of letting religious Dogma control the country.

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 07-05-2013 at 04:41 AM..
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Old 07-05-2013, 04:33 AM
 
39,056 posts, read 10,837,135 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3DJ View Post
"Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe." ~ Thomas H Huxley

Agnosticism was not intended to be compatible with Theism or Atheism (strong Atheism) belief positions. It was intended to be the default no belief position. The misunderstanding has been growing due to an A-theist redefinition movement, started by the likes of George H Smith. Smith butchers the definition of Agnosticism, in his book ATHEISM: The Case Against God, then, on the claim that there is no label for non-believers, pushes redefining Athe-ism to A-theism and adding the Strong and Weak adjectives. It is the A-theists that have misunderstood definitions.
I saw from your previous post #40 that you had got confused.

The agnosticism on which atheism is based is in no way incompatible with Huxley's definition. In the same way that rationalism is a logical response to the Huxleyan agnosticism - what we don't know we will not believe until we do know - atheism is a rational response to the god -claim.

Do I need to explain further? I am sure you are smart enough to work the rest out for yourself. I don't deny that wasn't the route of reasoning I took to get to atheism - or perhaps it was - a sort of of instinctive skepticism - but that logical basis, never mind what confusions people may have about it, is the logical rationale for atheism.

Last edited by TRANSPONDER; 07-05-2013 at 04:42 AM..
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Old 07-05-2013, 02:00 PM
3DJ
 
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Huxley does not say don't believe until you know. He says don't claim to believe or know, without scientific evidence.

Believing a greater proposition is true, is based on beliefs of lesser propositions, usually justified in some way. Theists tend to layer beliefs upon other beliefs, "I believe my parents tell me the truth, they told me the preacher tells the truth, he told me the bible is true, etc. etc.". Huxley demands scientific justification, of lesser propositions, as evidence towards the truth of the greater proposition, before believing it is true. Agnosticism is not compatible with Theism.

Agnosticism basically equates to religious skepticism. Since it impossible to both belive x is true and doubt x is true. If you no longer have doubt, as to the truth of a proposition, you are no longer skeptical (Agnostic) about it. The Athe-ist believes a proposition, "God does not exist", is true. The Theist believes a propositon, "God exists", is true. Being an Agnostic (religious skeptic) is not compatible with being a believer, Athe-ist or Theist, though it may approve of the Athe-ists methodology.

Part 2, of the previous quote: "Consequently Agnosticism puts aside not only the greater part of popular theology, but also the greater part of anti-theology. On the whole, the "bosh" of heterodoxy is more offensive to me than that of orthodoxy, because heterodoxy professes to be guided by reason and science, and orthodoxy does not." ~ Huxley

Modern definitions are based on George H Smith's, 1974, ATHEISM: The Case Against God. His whole case for redefinition rested on his argument that Agnosticism wasn't a viable third alternative to Athe-ism (what he admits is the most common definition, numerous times) or Theism. He spent much time butchering the definition of Agnosticism, to make his point.

Agnosticism is an adequate third alternative, all on its own, being the initial no belief stage of a justified true belief.
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