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Old 08-12-2013, 05:19 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Matt Marcinkiewicz View Post
I just read the first 14 pages, and I've seen AREQUIPA, NoCapo, mythunderstood, and perhaps others I can't recall (Frozenyo, also, now that I remember) advocate for the usage of the agnostic/gnostic theist/atheist "dual axis" paradigm. I think this construct is definitionally fatally flawed, and I've thought that from the start ("the start" being when I picked up "Atheism: The Case Against God" by George H Smith sometime last year...he begins the book by advocating for this same usage of the terms). The problem is this: if one professes to be gnostic on the issue of knowledge, then one may continue on to logically claim a belief or disbelief in god, depending on the nature of the knowledge one would claim to possess. But if one professes to be agnostic about the idea of knowledge of god, then one cannot logically choose a side re: theist/atheist dichotomy.
What exactly do you mean by "choose a side"? I was born without a belief in god (atheist) and to this day have never been convinced to leave that state of no-belief. I didn't have to "choose" to be what I have always been. If I admit that I don't have knowledge of god, why is it not logical to remain without a belief in one?


Quote:
One may still choose a side, in spite of the fact that you're acknowledging that knowledge is impossible and therefore your selection is futile, but one must also acknowledge that it's illogical to pick either side in the absence of belief in knowledge about god. Basically, to me, an agnostic atheist using Smith's understanding of the terms is a logical impossibility. A true agnostic would resist the adoption or the general usage of either term. Which is ironic given that self-professed "agnostic atheists" are the same people most likely to attempt to bludgeon others to death with syllogisms (Smith himself being one, along with the people mentioned from this thread).
Again, how is it illogical to NOT have a belief in something if you have no knowledge of it? That is precisely why I am still an atheist: because I have no knowledge of any god....no convincing evidence, no personal experience which has convinced me TO believe.
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:19 PM
 
Location: NJ
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Originally Posted by travric View Post
You know i'd be curious and I apologize if this has been asked before. But for those of you who are 'atheist' did you come to it from childhood or did it come upon you as you lived life? When I say childhood, were you taught during that time to have an atheistic outlook?

For me, probably no difference I come across between human beings interests me so as those who are 'religious' versus those who are atheist. Personally, I just can't fathom the conception from my being. On the other hand, I do know that, like those who profess a religion, it does offer a raison d'etre for understanding some part of our human existence here.
You are probably better off starting a new thread for this question. Although I think if you do a search on this forum you will find the topic has come up before (if I remember correctly).
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:21 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Marcinkiewicz View Post
I list myself as a "staunch-not-militant atheist" on my profile on this site, but that's just for convenience's sake. On Facebook my religious views are listed as "none" and I think it's best left at that, as I consider the choice between theism and atheism (as presented) to be a false one, for reasons stated above.
Heh, just going to seize on this little part for a sec because earlier on I wanted to bring up that phenomenon of religion as "none". Then I realized that it didn't actually make the point I was working on at the time, because of the aspect below.

I do think that the growing trend especially among younger people to note their religion as "none" in various surveys (e.g. US Census and others) is very interesting. BUT! Religion as none is not actually equivalent to them all being non-theist. A good number of these folks will still profess to "believe in God" or similar. They're just going to do so outside the bounds of organized religions.
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:52 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Matt Marcinkiewicz View Post
Basically, my post above reduces to epistemology. Knowledge is justified belief. If one admits that knowledge about god is impossible, then there is no stance on the topic that is justified/justifiable. Hence my problem with "agnostic atheists"

We're all agnostic (functionally), ultimately, as AREQUIPA said. Some of us are more in denial of that fact than others (and it varies based on mood, too. I have my phases where I'm more likely to self-identify as an atheist, despite underlying awareness that it's meaningless to do so).
As Myth explained, you make a grave error in claiming that belief is "chosen". One is either convinced or not convinced that a god exists. Also, this has nothing to do with agnosticism because one can claim knowledge that no god exists or that gods exist. Of course I would challenge these claims either way, thus the reason I'm an agnostic atheist.

Last edited by Amaznjohn; 08-12-2013 at 07:12 PM..
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Old 08-12-2013, 06:53 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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Originally Posted by travric View Post
You know i'd be curious and I apologize if this has been asked before. But for those of you who are 'atheist' did you come to it from childhood or did it come upon you as you lived life? When I say childhood, were you taught during that time to have an atheistic outlook?
Taught to have an atheistic outlook? See, that is interesting. Why taught? For me, the outlook in childhood could be described in the same way we try to explain atheism: absence of belief. I wonder if people really do try to steer their children away from belief if it comes up. I guess there must be some, but I don't have evidence that was happening in my case.

Growing up, my parents didn't show signs of belief, we did not express things in terms of Christian or any other belief, etc. We did not attend church. Only child, BTW. Now I was exposed to church on occasion. My aunt and uncle and their children (my cousins) were very religious and has passed through to that younger generation. Born again, fundie sort of Christian. My uncle eventually was a minister for a few years. Usually it was a service at some holiday: Easter, Christmas, etc. It didn't particularly mean anything to me. Nothing resonated. It was just a thing we did.

Late in my teen years I was involved for a while in a Unitarian Universalist church, along with my mother. That was interesting, but it wasn't something I continued after moving away for good (which was at age 20), and maybe even before that, can't remember. Looking back what I realize was that many of those people may have been trending towards atheism, or at the very least a more deist outlook, but they were looking to preserve that social aspect of "church". (In mom's case, I guess she was looking to gain it after years of not having it.) I on the other hand really had no use for most of that social aspect of church.

In the 20-odd years since then I've only been in a church a few times for an actual service. I think it's three: two weddings and one memorial service. The actual wedding count is 6 but yes 4 of the 6, not at a church (although the last was one of my very religious cousins just recently so maybe close enough. One was on a ski slope though, and one on a hiking trail. None were my own, LOL.) Actual memorial service is two I think but only one at a church. Much more likely I've been in some old church in England than a church here.

So, I don't know if I truly came to it in childhood. I certainly wasn't taught to ignore the religious stuff. We just put zero emphasis on that. Apparently I didn't ask much in the way of questions either. I mean, we played Christmas music and such but mainly I would have been oblivious to the religious references when younger. Now I mostly don't care for holiday music, heh, but not because of religion, just because I find it repetitive and thus annoying.

I guess you could say I was not pointed in any particular direction in childhood, so I have arrived here on my own, not as a result of any atheist leanings my family had when I was young, and not because of backlash against a heavily religious upbringing either. About 10 or 12 years ago I would have been probably more quiet about it if other people inquired about such beliefs. I knew I didn't believe in anything, but I might not have wanted it to turn into a big production. Now I wouldn't hesitate to say I was atheist and roll with whatever reaction that brought.
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:44 PM
 
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Taught to have an atheistic outlook? See, that is interesting. Why taught? For me, the outlook in childhood could be described in the same way we try to explain atheism: absence of belief. I wonder if people really do try to steer their children away from belief if it comes up. I guess there must be some, but I don't have evidence that was happening in my case.

I brought that up because in my life I was brought up Catholic and 'taught' the catechism by priests and nuns. There was instruction and mass every day. In my formative years, the 'religious' was life was always with me. Now in contrast with atheism there are no schools (at least that's my belief) where one is taught 'atheistic' concepts. It seems to me that when one 'becomes' an atheist it involes some sort of intellectual decision after mulling over the alternative. I've always been curous as to what the "Rubicon' was if you will to make the jump. Well you have to realize that from my standpoint and uprbinging you guys did was unbelievable, simply beyond the pale.
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Old 08-12-2013, 07:59 PM
 
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I
Quote:
do think that the growing trend especially among younger people to note their religion as "none" in various surveys (e.g. US Census and others) is very interesting. BUT! Religion as none is not actually equivalent to them all being non-theist. A good number of these folks will still profess to "believe in God" or similar. They're just going to do so outside the bounds of organized religions.
I think this is great point and hits home at the so-called 'secularization' of our society today. There appears to be a big transformation on how individuals orient themselves say in the theological sphere of their lives. It's almost like there is a free-for-all in how to govern the relationship that one has with 'God' or some such construct. One thing to know I think is that a moving away from say organized religion does not mean that perhaps science, for example, has triumphed but that individuals are looking for different experiences that either bring them to God or away from the concept.
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Old 08-12-2013, 08:02 PM
 
Location: Pittsburgh area
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Quote:
Originally Posted by travric View Post
I brought that up because in my life I was brought up Catholic and 'taught' the catechism by priests and nuns. There was instruction and mass every day. In my formative years, the 'religious' was life was always with me. Now in contrast with atheism there are no schools (at least that's my belief) where one is taught 'atheistic' concepts. It seems to me that when one 'becomes' an atheist it involes some sort of intellectual decision after mulling over the alternative. I've always been curous as to what the "Rubicon' was if you will to make the jump. Well you have to realize that from my standpoint and uprbinging you guys did was unbelievable, simply beyond the pale.
That's the thing. To my way of thinking there would be no atheist analog to such a Catholic upbringing. I am well aware of the degree to which people involve their young children in religious teachings. To me, to do that to a child starting so young, it is indoctrination. The children should be able to choose, not have it all forced upon them, and they could hardly make a truly informed choice at a young age. I'd like to think that atheist parents would allow that sort of freedom. Religious parents should also allow it. (I don't know for sure that my parents are atheist. Not sure what my mother has settled upon. Dad, eh. It just doesn't come up. Nobody is attending any semblance of church service that I know of.) I don't know how an atheist parent would react to a child who insisted upon becoming devoutly religious, but hey, I'm sure it has happened. I'm sure the reactions are all over the map, just like when it's the other way around.

To me, "becoming" an atheist is not the Rubicon. Becoming a theist would be the Rubicon. Atheist was in fact the natural state of being, and I never found a compelling belief system that would steer me away. No Rubicon crossed for me. I suppose if your upbringing was one of being indoctrinated into another belief system, then the reverse would be true, so that is why you see the atheism as crossing. For you, it would be, the Catholicism is so ingrained that it is the natural state of being for you, so any switch away from that would be crossing the Rubicon for sure. It is difficult for me to comprehend your state, and I suppose it is difficult for you to comprehend mine.
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Old 08-13-2013, 01:51 AM
 
Location: Dallas, Texas
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Originally Posted by travric View Post
I brought that up because in my life I was brought up Catholic and 'taught' the catechism by priests and nuns. There was instruction and mass every day. In my formative years, the 'religious' was life was always with me. Now in contrast with atheism there are no schools (at least that's my belief) where one is taught 'atheistic' concepts. It seems to me that when one 'becomes' an atheist it involes some sort of intellectual decision after mulling over the alternative. I've always been curous as to what the "Rubicon' was if you will to make the jump. Well you have to realize that from my standpoint and uprbinging you guys did was unbelievable, simply beyond the pale.
I can't speak for others, but for me, there wasn't a true, momentous "Rubicon" moment. I was raised nominally as a Christian, but only in the fuzziest of ways. I was told about Jesus, his sacrifice, to pray before going to bed, etc. But I never went to church regularly, and I never much thought about the whole thing. It was simply accepted as just how it was.

I was about 13 when I started to think more readily on it. I think part of it had to do with the fact that I knew Jews and Muslims and Hindus at school. I began to wonder why it was that they believed what they believed and I believed what I did - I eventually came to the conclusion that there was no good reason for me to believe any religious claim.

There was no inner turmoil. There was no great awakening. Because I had never grown up inside organized religion, my life did not change in any real way. In the end it was simply be saying to myself "this seems fictional, and until I see any evidence otherwise, I have no idea reason to believe in Christianity (or any other religion) any more than I have reason to believe in ancient mythology."

And that was that!
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Old 08-13-2013, 09:02 AM
 
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I suppose if your upbringing was one of being indoctrinated into another belief system, then the reverse would be true, so that is why you see the atheism as crossing. For you, it would be, the Catholicism is so ingrained that it is the natural state of being for you, so any switch away from that would be crossing the Rubicon for sure. It is difficult for me to comprehend your state, and I suppose it is difficult for you to comprehend mine.
Point taken. I see you used the word 'indoctrination'. And I'm sure not surprised at that. I guess I see it as a rather harsh word and that's why I focus on 'taught'. I didn't feel, for example, while I was in grammar school that I was say in the gulag of religious instructon. I thought being in that kind of environment was very normal. But here's the thing. I'm way beyond the so-called 'age of reason' as it was termed in those younger days and have studied and experienced many disciplines but yet I've still retained those inner beliefs that were begun when I was a child. I have not deserted them. In fact, the mystery deepens. It's really remarkable when I think about how we as individuals go about our setting up our little 'islands' of existence. For sure, one man's mystery is another's 'mumbo-jumbo'.
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