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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:38 PM
Original message
Margaret Atwood: "Atheism is a religion"
There was a thread about this episode of Moyers on Faith & Reason already, but it got very little response.
There's more to discuss than just her statement of atheism, but I thought that would make the best title. ;)

...
BILL MOYERS: Does that mean you take your stand on the side of faith?

MARGARET ATWOOD: No, no having been raised a strict agnostic.

BILL MOYERS: A strict agnostic?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Strict agnostic.

BILL MOYERS: Not an atheist?

MARGARET ATWOOD: No, atheism-

BILL MOYERS: What's the difference?

MARGARET ATWOOD: -- is a religion.

BILL MOYERS: Atheism is a religion?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: You mean it's dogmatic?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Absolutely dogmatic.

BILL MOYERS: How so?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Well it makes an absolute stand about something that cannot be proven.

BILL MOYERS: There is no God.

MARGARET ATWOOD: You can't prove that.

BILL MOYERS: So you become-- what' a strict agnostic?

MARGARET ATWOOD: A strict agnostic says, you cannot pronounce, as knowledge, anything you cannot demonstrate. In other words if you're going to call it knowledge you have to be able to run an experiment on it that's repeatable. You can't run an experiment on whether God exists or not, therefore you can't say anything about it as knowledge. You can have a belief if you want to, or if that is what grabs you, if you were called in that direction, if you have a subjective experience of that kind, that would be your belief system. You just can't call it knowledge.

more
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:40 PM
Response to Original message
1. I'm getting under the desk and not coming out until this is over
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:50 PM
Response to Reply #1
5. that might be a good idea. Too bad I'm not that smart.
:toast:
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Warpy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #1
8. Good on ya, Grannie
I loved "The Handmaid's Tale," but Atwood is incredibly ignorant when it comes to lack of belief. Like all believers (whether or not she admits it), she can only see things in terms of dogma imposed from outside oneself. It's a limited view of other people, and she'd do much better to shut her mouth and open her ears.

And that's all I'm gonna say on the subject before I hit "hide thread."
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 08:17 PM
Response to Reply #1
59. LOL. Room in there for another? nt
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 07:27 AM
Response to Reply #59
81. You know, I might just peek out
it's actually safer in here than in GD if you say anything even mildly critical of St. Hugo of Chavez.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 07:47 AM
Response to Reply #81
82. Shazaam! ANOTHER new church?
They're popping up all over the place, aren't they?

So many gods, so little time...






Hiya, T.Grannie!
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JerseygirlCT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 07:57 AM
Response to Reply #81
83. See now, we'd get along nicely on all counts! nt
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davidinalameda Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 06:08 PM
Response to Reply #1
107. move over girl
but I want to be able to watch

:popcorn:
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Dorian Gray Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #1
132. Is there room under there for me,
TallahasseeGrannie? I don't want to get hurt by the fallout!
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TechBear_Seattle Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:40 PM
Response to Original message
2. Yeah, and I'm a confirmed atheist
The trouble was in finding a bishop who would confirm me. :rofl:
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SCantiGOP Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #2
26. Militant agnostic:
I don't know and you don't either ---This was on a bumper sticker I saw recently.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #26
46. I like that. :) nt
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 10:46 AM
Response to Reply #2
88. oooooh
that's a ceremony I might be too timid to attend!

LOL
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eallen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:40 PM
Response to Original message
3. It depends on the definitions one uses....
That's all.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:01 PM
Response to Reply #3
12. Right. Is atheism an "absolute stand"?
I think it depends on how the atheist defines themselves. ;)
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:49 PM
Response to Original message
4. I have to agree with Margaret on this one
To a certain degree atheism is as irrational as theism. As an example, I don't have to try to prove to you that I don't have a Porsche sitting in my driveway. I know I don't have one sitting there so the thought never occurs to me.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:53 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. But do you have
a magical Porsche that only the chosen can see sitting in your driveway? If you say you don't, you are part of that religion.
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:59 PM
Response to Reply #7
10. Exactly, so I would ignore the question
Funny, we were just talking about ignore on another thread, could that mean the end times are here?
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:37 PM
Response to Reply #10
31. But ignoring it doesn't address the question.
If you say that there isn't that magical Porsche in your driveway, you are part of a religion given Atwood's definition.
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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:13 PM
Response to Reply #31
44. Perhaps it's the non answer answer.
:shrug:
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:33 PM
Response to Reply #7
28. Sorry, that could be tested, too. nt
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:36 PM
Response to Reply #28
30. OK, test it.
I have a magical Porsche in my driveway that only the chosen can see. It has many magical powers.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #30
37. It would be just like testing auras.
First, we'd need a more thorough definition of your magical invisible Porsche so we can test if it exists - what qualities you assert it has.
Is it also totally silent? Is it like Wonder Woman's plane so you're seen floating around while driving it? ;)

Gather the chosen. (they exist, right?)
Verify that they can all see it.
Separate the chosen from each other, and alternately remove/replace the Porsche while recording if the chosen spot it.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:02 PM
Response to Reply #37
40. Apparently I am the only one chosen
because I am the only one that sees it so far.

It's way magical.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:14 PM
Response to Reply #40
45. No problem.
We'd need a more thorough definition of your magical invisible Porsche so we can test if it exists - what qualities you assert it has.

Just for a couple, is it registered? What's the VIN number?
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #45
48. It doesn't need a VIN
because it just magically came into existence. It is a Porsche, but it is invisible. It can move around at will and instantaneously. It can move on it's own decision.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:40 PM
Response to Reply #48
52. What do you mean by "Porsche" then?
All of them have VINs, and they can all be traced to where they were built.
Like I said, you need to more thoroughly define its qualities first. Otherwise, you'll just keep moving the goalposts.

What happens when it gets dirty?
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 09:02 PM
Response to Reply #52
60. I'm not moving the goal posts
Since my Porsche is magical and was not built but always was, it needs to VIN.

Oh, my Porsche NEVER gets dirty.

btw, don't tell bloom we are having this "argument," don't know what the poor thing would do if all the vocal atheists on DU were not in lock-step.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:18 AM
Response to Reply #60
67. You'll have to play along or forfeit your case.
Edited on Sat Sep-23-06 06:19 AM by greyl
Since it appears nobody has figured it out yet, this is a similar line of inquiry I'd use to "prove" that someones God doesn't exist. If you'd play along, that may become obvious. ;)

All Porsches are Porsches due to certain necessary requirements of the definition. What you're talking about isn't a Porsche. I suspect it is either a serious delusion or dirty trick on your part, and I aim to prove it.

What happens when water is poured on it?
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 11:16 AM
Response to Reply #67
103. Fine, but this is the ultimate Porsche
I looks just like one, for those that can see it, but it has so many other qualities and was not built at the German plant. It just always has been. The founder of Porsche must have been chosen because all other Porsche has been made in it's image.


Nothing happens when you pour water on it. It transcends water.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 10:45 AM
Response to Reply #103
122. Is it that way with all liquids?
Does it run on gasoline, or is it a bike?

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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 11:15 AM
Response to Reply #122
126. It runs
on its own fantastic power.

How dare you blaspheme my magical Porsche by claiming it is a mere bike?
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #126
128. So, you're saying it's an internal combustion engine
with no internal combustion?

I didn't want to jump to a hasty conclusion that it was a car, because the definition "Porsche" covers many things besides cars. You've provided a lousy definition so far, throw me a bone! ;)
How do you know it's there again? Are you saying you are magical, too?

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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 01:51 PM
Response to Reply #128
130. My magic Porsche also transcends combustion
Edited on Mon Sep-25-06 01:52 PM by Goblinmonger
I know it is there because I have seen it and feel its presence every day. I'm not magical, but I feel lucky to be chosen to see it.

I think I have been throwing you bones all through this dialogue. :P
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:07 PM
Response to Reply #30
96. Not quite analogous
Edited on Sat Sep-23-06 06:07 PM by Donald Ian Rankin
If you say "I have a magic porsche sitting in my driveway that only the chosen can interact with", I can test that by finding one of "the chosen".

If you were to say "I have a magic porsche sitting in my driveway that it's impossible for anyone to interact with at all", then I would argue that it's not appropriate to term whatever it is a porsche - it's not clear what the definition of a porsche in this context is, but I'm dubious about the ability of something that no-one can interact with to satisfy it.

If you were to say "I have a demon that nobody can interact with sitting in my driveway" then I can't be sure you're wrong - I'd bet against it, but it's not something I can disprove.

I think atheism clearly isn't a religion. I do, however, think that *strong* atheism is an unjustifiably dogmatic and necessarily faith-based religious position. THe absence of evidence for a surpreme being makes there not existing one a reasonable working hypothesis, but not provable.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #96
102. I see no real difference between your examples
I am one of the chosen. I can see the Porsche. If somebody can't, they clearly aren't chosen. They are part of a religion that disbelieves in the Porsche.


Why are you less judgemental about a claim of a demon than a claim of a magic Porsche?
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 08:55 AM
Response to Reply #102
117. The definitions of "demon" and "porsche".

When you call something a porsche, you're making certain implicit claims about it - that it is a car made by whoever makes porsches, and is much like all the other cars called porsches.

The claims you make when you name something a "demon" are a bit vaguer than when you name it a "porsche" - it's supernatural, sentient, probably malignant, etc. The properties implicitin "demon" are much easier to square with being undetectable than those implicit in "porsche".
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 11:14 AM
Response to Reply #117
125. First of all I said "magical Porsche"
not just Porsche. But when I said it was invisible, that leads us into the supernatural. Yet you didn't give me a pass on that like you would with someone claiming a demon. Still seems interesting.
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Odin2005 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:22 PM
Response to Reply #4
18. My Atheism is based on reason.
The notion of God is illogical. It is about reason,, not faith.
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:25 PM
Response to Reply #18
21. Yes, but can your reason positively prove that there is no God?
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:26 PM
Response to Reply #18
22. I'm sure it is. However,
which notion of God do you believe to be illogical?
There must be dozens of them... ;)
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:51 PM
Response to Original message
6. Let me name some other religions:
TTFDLMA (The Tooth Fairy Doesn't Live in My Ass Religion)
DRR (Dragons aren't Real Religion)
UDE (Unicorns Don't Exist Religion)
TNGER (There's No Gold at the End of the Rainbow Religion)
EAF (Elves are Fake Religion)

Give me a fucking break. WHY MUST SO MANY THEISTS DEFINE ATHEISTS THROUGH THEIR VIEW OF THE WORLD?
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 01:57 PM
Response to Reply #6
9. Those statements can all be proven, thus they aren't religions.
(according to Atwoods idea)

BILL MOYERS: Atheism is a religion?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Absolutely.

BILL MOYERS: You mean it's dogmatic?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Absolutely dogmatic.

BILL MOYERS: How so?

MARGARET ATWOOD: Well it makes an absolute stand about something that cannot be proven.
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:00 PM
Response to Reply #9
11. So how does one go about proving a negative? n/t
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:04 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. It totally depends on the negative, but it can be done.
Look at Goblinmonger's list. Do you really think those are all non-falsifiable statements?
(at least one is meaningless on its face)
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:17 PM
Response to Reply #14
15. I have always understood logic to assert that "that which is not,
cannot have proofs to offer." Or a better description would be:

Argument from Ignorance
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

This article covers both the 'Argument from ignorance' and the 'Argument from incredulity'.
The argument from ignorance, also known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or argument by lack of imagination, is a logical fallacy in which it is claimed that a premise is true only because it has not been proven false, or that a premise is false only because it has not been proven true.

The argument from personal incredulity, also known as argument from personal belief or argument from personal conviction, refers to an assertion that because one personally finds a premise unlikely or unbelievable, the premise can be assumed not to be true, or alternately that another preferred but unproven premise is true instead.

Both arguments commonly share this structure: a person regards the lack of evidence for one view (or alternately, regards their personal bias against the view) as constituting evidence or proof that another view is instead true. In reality this is not valid evidence or proof, as further described below. The types of fallacies discussed in this article should not be confused with the reductio ad absurdum method of argument, in which a valid logical contradiction of the form "A and not A" is used to disprove a premise.



http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_ignorance
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #15
19. I think that's a bit of a myth.
The logic you're citing doesn't dictate that negatives can't be proven, it only says that absence of evidence for an argument doesn't offer proof of the contrary argument.

In the case negatives which can be proven, evidence would definitely be gathered and present.
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:39 PM
Response to Reply #19
34. Myth? Seems pretty straight ahead to me. n/t
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 04:02 PM
Response to Reply #15
93. However, many atheists do NOT assert that the premise is false.
Edited on Sat Sep-23-06 04:03 PM by Zhade
We simply don't believe in the conclusion of the premise that believers arrive at, because there is no evidence to justify that conclusion ("god exists").

I do not know the breakdown of strong/weak (assertive/nonassertive) atheists, but there is a difference between the two.

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eallen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:24 PM
Response to Reply #14
20. There is no elephant in my office. Come look, and you'll see.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:29 PM
Response to Reply #20
24. Right. "I'm Not a Giraffe, and I Can Prove It" R. Steiner.
Edited on Fri Sep-22-06 02:31 PM by greyl
I was looking for that article in the bayareaskeptics, but only found it here so far:
http://linuxmafia.com/skeptic/proving-a-negative.txt

(It's also within this 4 mb pdf): http://www.skeptics.com.au/journal/1999/4.pdf

edit: and what's the deal with large mammals and this issue? :)
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #24
32. Yes, but you can only prove it because Giraffe's exist.
If there were no Giraffe's to point too, your argument would be meaningless.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:51 PM
Response to Reply #32
38. Yes, but I could choose anything which does, in fact, exist.
I wouldn't put a non-existent entity into my argument.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:03 PM
Response to Reply #38
41. Well that begs the question.
I don't need to prove the non-existence of god because it is something that doesn't exist. Round and round we go.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:26 PM
Response to Reply #41
47. Naw, that's a different argument.
Not all negatives can be proven. Like FfC said, if I claimed "I'm not phlogiston", it would be a meaningless statement.

There's substantial difference between claiming "I am not a Giraffe", "Bigfoot does not exist", and "God does not exist" and it centers on the definitions.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:30 PM
Response to Reply #47
49. There is a big difference between
"Giraffes don't exist"

and

"Unicorns don't exist"

Because one is a real creature and one is mythological.

Everyone knows where this is going.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:34 PM
Response to Reply #49
51. Yes, there is.
Edited on Fri Sep-22-06 03:42 PM by greyl
One is a true statement which can be proven. (we'd have to allow for those altered goats)

edit: btw, your statement "Everyone knows where this is going" is false. Please have some patience and don't jump to conclusions. ;)
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 09:05 PM
Response to Reply #51
61. You need to make some some leaps to get away from Atwood
(leaps well made, in my opinion). You don't know for sure that there are no unicorns (altered goats aside) and if you can't prove that there aren't you are acting on faith/dogma according to Atwood and are therefore part of some anti-unicorn religion. That is the whole point of my original post.

My statement about "Everyone knows where this is going" was a little joke about me brining up unicorns and the usual next step that happens in R/T. I'm more than happy to play this out--it's rather fun to pay the theist for a bit.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:26 AM
Response to Reply #61
68. I think it can be proven that unicorns don't exist,
meeting any reasonable standard.

What's missing so far is the demand that God be defined sufficiently to deal with the issue.
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:32 PM
Response to Reply #41
50. LOL, and therein is the crux of the argument. n/t
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eallen Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 05:21 PM
Response to Reply #32
54. There are no mammals with six legs. There are no...
There are no warm-blooded trees. There is no constructive method to square the circle.
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Freedom_from_Chains Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 06:38 PM
Response to Reply #54
57. And there is no end in sight to this debate. I knew I shouldn't have
gotten into this. :rofl:
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:28 AM
Response to Reply #57
70. Sure there is.
I see it as though through a glass, darkly. ;)
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:27 AM
Response to Reply #54
69. Some negatives can be proven, indeed.
Edited on Sat Sep-23-06 06:28 AM by greyl
That none of than can be proven, is a hamstringing myth.
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 09:28 AM
Response to Reply #54
85. Ooh, I'd be careful with that first claim.

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moggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 03:12 AM
Response to Reply #11
114. Some more examples
The idea that "you can't prove a negative" usually seems to be based on what one might call "proof by search", where the search space is impractical. For example, "there are no dogs with three eyes". To prove this negative, it would be necessary to find all dogs and count their eyes, and that's practically impossible: you could never be sure that there wasn't a three-eyed dog somewhere, hiding from you (after all, it would have a 50% greater chance of seeing you coming compared to a normal dog).

However, sometimes the search is practical. For example: "there are no odd perfect numbers less than 100". The search space there is small, and integers can't hide. We can generate perfect numbers easily, and see that the only ones less than 100 are 6 and 28, neither of which is odd.

And sometimes no search is necessary. For example: "there are no square circles". You wouldn't attempt to prove this by going around looking at circles; the proof is in the definition of "square" and "circle", with a square circle being a logical impossibility.

If there's a proof of the non-existence of a particular god, I think it's more likely to be of the "he's logically impossible" kind than the "I've looked everywhere" kind. For example, how can a god be both omnipotent and omniscient? Isn't there a contradiction in that? If this god knows the future - if all future events are mapped out in his mind, in advance - then he knows all of his future decisions, in which case he has no free will, and is not omnipotent. So, if a theist lists the attributes of their god, and we can find logical impossibilities among them, we can say "your god simply can't exist in the form you describe".

If we want to prove the non-existence of all gods, we first need to get everyone to agree on what gods are. What are the chances of that happening? Even Christians don't all agree! Do bleems exist? Albert says "a bleem is a giant, invisible jackal who brings the rain". Betty says "no, that's wrong! A bleem is a bearded guy who drives the chariot of the sun across the sky!". Charlie says "you guys are crazy infidels! A bleem is like a slurm, only bigger!". How can we talk meaningfully about bleems in this case? We can, arguably, say with certainty that bleems don't exist, because existence is an attribute of a defined thing, and bleems are undefined.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 10:22 AM
Response to Reply #114
121. Nice explanation of the situation.
I do think it comes down to the definition of God or Gods, and that when someone says "I don't believe in God" they are tipping their hand that they are only talking about lack of belief in a monotheistic God(but which one;)?)

I'm trying to approach this from a logically strict angle. Contrary to popular opinion, I believe it's possible to prove that some Gods don't exist. Believers believe their position is ultimately beyond reasonable attack, but I doubt it.
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BootinUp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:04 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. causin trouble again
greyl? :hi:
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:18 PM
Response to Reply #13
16. I've always enjoyed jumping into a big pile of neatly raked leaves. ;) nt
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:38 PM
Response to Reply #9
33. How can they be proven?
I don't think they can. I think they rely on the same dogma Atwood alludes to.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:55 PM
Response to Reply #33
39. We'd need to define the concepts in the statements.
I think if you begin to work out a definition of those concepts, you'll see what I mean.

http://linuxmafia.com/skeptic/proving-a-negative.txt
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 03:58 PM
Response to Reply #9
92. But what Atwood is ignorant of, apparently, is that not all atheists...
...assert there are no gods.

We just don't believe in the ones believers believe in. We don't even say it's fact they don't exist; the lack of evidence for them does all the talking, yet it still remains an unresolved question due to the lack of evidence for and against (against requiring the asserter to have all knowledge in the universe in order to know the assertion is true, which of course would make the asserter a god).

She is ignorant of the distinctions - flavors, if you will - in atheism. The 'strong' - "there is no god" - atheist is, indeed, acting on belief.

We, on the other hand, are not.

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SheWhoMustBeObeyed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 01:33 PM
Response to Reply #9
129. "There's no word for someone who doesn't believe in astrology."
Edited on Mon Sep-25-06 01:35 PM by SheWhoMustBeObeyed
There is no term for someone who doesn't believe Elvis is still alive. That's what Sam Harris said today during an in-depth discussion on Al Franken's show. What's wrong, Harris asks, with the term "common sense"? Why does non-belief have to be defined in believers' terms?

My non-belief is not absolute. I have no idea what lies behind the mysteries of life and death but I am not compelled to fill that empty space with a personal god. If there is an omnipotent entity that is responsible for creation and destruction, being and non-being, and space and matter, I think the concept of a personal god trivializes it beyond all possible recognition.

Believers often accuse non-believers of wanting to usurp God's power. They condemn secular humanism as devoid of morality because it is not divinely inspired. But IMO nothing usurps divine power in a more irrational, embarrassing and downright arrogant way than belief in an anthropomorphic god. Our brains are so puny, infused with hormones and other biological influences that color and limit our perception of reality (whatever that is). What an insult to omnipotence to define it in terms that we can understand. ;)
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More Than A Feeling Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 12:49 PM
Response to Reply #6
89. Well, the reason some Christians do it is that they apparently have a need
Edited on Sat Sep-23-06 12:51 PM by Heaven and Earth
to define themselves against people deny what we believe, and then define said opponent according to what makes them the most comfortable. The Church did the same thing to the Jewish people. Read "Constantine's Sword" by James Carroll.
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SheilaT Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:20 PM
Response to Original message
17. The atheists I know personally
are very dogmatic about their atheism. And really don't understand that they are as dogmatic as a lot of believers. It's distressing, actually.

Me, I have my own set of beliefs that do not depend on others believing the same way for me to consider those beliefs a valid way of viewing the universe. I feel no need to persuade others they should believe my way, and I'm generally reluctant to discuss my beliefs in greater detail than this precisely because I think the universe is larger and more mysterious and more unknowable than any one set of beliefs accounts for. Except mine, of course. :)
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:33 AM
Response to Reply #17
73. You think that atheists depend on other for their beliefs?
I don't think any of the atheists I know, personally or online, are like that. They (we, in fact) are atheists because we came to our own conclusions, just as you have.

A dogma is an opinion derived from some authority. I think the vast majority of atheists have made up their own minds. And don't confuse a willingness to talk about your opinions with 'being dogmatic'. Maybe it's just enthusiasm, sociability, or pushiness. We can be pushy about lots of things - such as musical taste - but it doesn't make it a dogma (except is it written that anyone who disses Pink Floyd shall be condemned to hellfire for eternity :evilgrin:). OK, musical taste actually can be something of a 'dogma' - some people do like some muic just because others do. But that doesn't mean we all do.
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Union Thug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:27 PM
Response to Original message
23. Rubbish. Christians try to project their world view onto everything...
including their attempts to frame atheists and atheism.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:30 PM
Response to Reply #23
25. That may be true, but Atwood is no Christian. nt
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Union Thug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:34 PM
Response to Reply #25
29. Let me clarify... Atwood is citing the most common xtian argument
I hear.

No, I have no religion, I have no dogma. I don't have faith in anything outside of experience. I personally don't care about any of of it except as it plays into the realm of anthropology, depth psychology, sociclogy, etc..
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:40 PM
Response to Reply #29
36. Then you'd be agnostic, right? nt
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 06:23 PM
Response to Reply #36
56. No, he'd be an agnostic atheist. nt
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:12 PM
Response to Reply #56
97. Isn't the term "weak atheist"?

Agnostic atheist is an oxymoron, I think.

If you don't believe that a God exists, then you're an atheist. If believe that you can prove you're right, then you're a strong atheist. If you don't think you can prove it, but think it's true even so, in the way that I believe that the Riemann hypothesis is true, say - you'd bet heavily that way, even though you're not sure - then you're a weak atheist.

Agnosticism implies a genuine, non-trivial uncertainty.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 07:52 PM
Response to Reply #97
98. Both terms are correct.
Edited on Sat Sep-23-06 07:52 PM by beam me up scottie
An agnostic atheist doesn't believe in gods but admits knowing an absolute is impossible.

I tend to be an explicit atheist when it comes to gods that are well defined since their existence can be disproved.

The people who created unfalsifiable gods really knew what they were doing.
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 02:39 AM
Response to Reply #98
99. You can't be an atheist with regards to a set God, can you?
"I tend to be an explicit atheist when it comes to gods that are well defined since their existence can be disproved."

Atheism means disbelief in all gods, not disbelief in a specific god - nearly all monotheists disbelieve in nearly all proposed gods, but I don't think you'd say they're "atheist when it comes to them".

Incidentally, at least to a mathematician, "well-defined" doesn't mean "falsifiable", it just means that if you know all about something then you can tell whether or not it fits the definition, and if your definition claims existence then at least one such thing exists and if you claim uniqueness then it is unique: if you say "define a frog to be a positive number with no positive number smaller than it" then a frog is well-defined; if you say "define a frog to be the least positive number" or "define a frog to be the positive number less than one" then it isn't.

"An omnipotent supreme being that created the universe" is well-defined, but its existence isn't falsifiable.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 02:51 AM
Response to Reply #99
100. Again, there are different types of atheism.
Edited on Sun Sep-24-06 02:59 AM by beam me up scottie
I can be an explicit atheist when it comes to certain gods while still being an agnostic atheist.

Other than to send you to numerous websites that explain what I mean, it's way too complicated and not a subject I feel comfortable discussing in this forum as I am still exploring the depths of my nonbelief.

You can find information on the argument from divine hiddeness or reasonable nonbelief at www.infidels.org if you are interested.
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 07:12 AM
Response to Reply #99
101. Well, I'll answer. Don't mind do you Bmus?
I would say that the various religious people lack belief in other Gods. If this makes them 'atheists with respect to (xxx)' that is fine by me.

Incidentally, implicit atheism (of my derivation especially) means believing based on the evidence. This will become important later in the argument.

Basically, take Generic God 1. This God, says His followers, is entirely visible to the naked eye, and sits above clouds, making lightning by twirling his moustache.

Then someone goes and looks above the stormcloud, and sees no Twirler (and sees lightning and the experiment is repeated many times).

In this case, the evidence actually makes a good case that this God does not exist; in other words, in this case, absenceof evidence is evidence of absence. (Inside certain parameters).

Now we take Generic God 2. This God, says Her followers, does absolutely everything, but he does it using the laws of physics. She accelerates every mass in proportion to the force applied, twirls planets according to F = ( G m1 m2 )/ r^2, and never, EVER does anything outside of these laws. (By Her divine choice)

In this case, we don't even have an absence of evidence. What we do have, however, is a zero difference between what things mean if there is a God, and if there is not a God.

In other words, despite doing everything, this God does not effectively exist.

Then you can plot interference versus probability of existence, and you get the engine that runs implicit atheism, whether or not any specific one is falsifiable.

If you are as into math as you seem to suggest,you would have noticed the problem in all that. Yes, I know, and I am working on it. Most of them are symmetrical anyway, thus far I've been able to find symmetry for many cases, though I've not proved that it exists over the necessary domain.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 11:09 PM
Response to Reply #101
110. Of course not!
You did an excellent job!

What's a little scary is that you and I have never discussed this and I only personally know two or three other ag-aths who recognize that they are also explicit atheists when it comes to certain gods.

:thumbsup: :)
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 11:35 PM
Response to Reply #110
113. Check your pm for the only God I don't have a solution for, in a little
Edited on Sun Sep-24-06 11:55 PM by Random_Australian
while.

This may take a while to type, but there is no way that I am posting something like that in public - some fool would start a war.

Edit: done!
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 08:49 AM
Response to Reply #101
115. I think that being an atheist with respect to specific gods
is like being teetotal except when you're drinking.

Allow me to posit a third god in addition to your two: one who behaves like God MK II until the year 2009, and then starts moustache-twirling. This God clearly does exist in a meaningful sense. That such Gods *don't* exist, and that the laws of physics aren't going to suddenly break down, is the assumption on which all science, not to say pretty much everything else, is based, but there isn't and can't be any evidence against them, and more than there can be evidence against Descarte's invisible demon.

This isn't something I worry about, but the reason I don't worry about it is because a) I'd go mad if I did, not because I can see any logical argument that it won't happen. I think the only sane response is "we just have to assume it won't", without trying to justify that assumption.
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 09:10 AM
Response to Reply #115
120. Assumptions? Puh! Watch this!
Edited on Mon Sep-25-06 09:16 AM by Random_Australian
This is where symmetry is useful, you see.

So, for your third God, lets talk about what She will send people to hell for. (A simplfied version of all the other effects She has)

Basically, how much do we know about said God beforehand? Zip. Nada. In other words, there is a chance that as of tomorrow, we would all be sent to hell if we had pomegranates.

However, there is another, equally likely possibility - that we would go to hell for NOT eating pomegranates.

In other words, this pair cancels.

In other words, the sum total effect the probability of the moustache twirler, seen from here, is zero for the pomegranates.

Given that there was nothing special about the choice of pomegranates, it applies to all actions.

Therefore, without making the assumption that this won't happen, we have obtained a result of zero difference for this God.

There we go - no assumption that it won't happen, and no change in how I behave.

And next up - "that the laws of physics aren't going to suddenly break down, is the assumption on which all science" don't make me laugh.

That seems, to me, a lot like saying 'According to Newtonian gravity, small things orbit big things... so why don't we see pebbles orbiting mountains?' and just as invalid.

Science only uses that assumption when some fool is using an argument from authority. (No, I am not referring to you)

Edit: And as for your drinking analagy - consider someone who drinks only brands and hates all other kinds of alcohol. What then, if not a non-drinker, are they of wine?
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moggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 04:53 PM
Response to Reply #120
134. Always entertaining, RA
Speaking of alcohol, I raise a glass of Oz wine (Burra Brook Shiraz) in your name.
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 06:48 PM
Response to Reply #134
136. *takes bow* I do my best. However, I shant be able to drink wine
to your post, as I am an teetotaler on explicit theism on the teetotallering w/ respect to wine from an agnostic panthiest viewpoint.

Ok, so I made that viewpoint up just now. But it SOUNDS interesting. :)
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 02:24 PM
Response to Reply #115
131. Then perhaps you should look up the argument from divine hiddeness
or reasonable nonbelief.

Before you assume we're being illogical, you should at least do some homework.

It is certainly possible to be an explicit atheist and an agnostic atheist.


I have no idea why you used a teetotaler/drinker analogy, since both types of nonbelief are STILL atheism.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 11:19 AM
Response to Reply #99
104. Dude, I hate to break this to you
but a frog isn't a number. It's this: :bounce:

:rofl:
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 11:17 PM
Response to Reply #104
111. And this:
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Donald Ian Rankin Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 08:52 AM
Response to Reply #104
116. To a mathematician, a frog can be whatever you choose to define it as.
After all, naming the velocity of a spaceship or the distance between two points after an amphibian is just as good as naming it after a letter of the alphabet.

I've never actually seen a mathematician call an abstract mathematical entity a frog, but I have seen them call them "glob" (and subsequently "semiglobs" were also introduced) and "Fred".
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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 09:00 AM
Response to Reply #116
119. Moot point.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 11:18 AM
Response to Reply #116
127. I was just trying to be funny.
I guess I need to try harder next time.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 11:09 PM
Response to Reply #127
138. Bad whackjob fundamentalist atheist preacher!
Bad! :spank:
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smirkymonkey Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 12:33 PM
Response to Reply #97
106. Here is the problem: Belief vs. Reason
A argument based on reason requires proof. Belief does not. Why can't the athiest simply NOT BELIEVE without have to prove that there is no god? Must the believer in god supply proof that there is? I don't know why religious people have such a difficult time understanding that a lack of belief is just that - a lack of belief. Not an absolute statement that there is no god.

be‧lief  /bɪˈlif/ Pronunciation Key - Show Spelled Pronunciation Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation
noun
1. something believed; an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.
2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.
3. confidence; faith; trust: a child's belief in his parents.
4. a religious tenet or tenets; religious creed or faith: the Christian belief.
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Union Thug Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 09:39 PM
Response to Reply #36
62. Not agnostic. Atheist.
I don't know why this has to be so complicated. I don't believe in god. As such, I'm an atheist. After trying several different flavors of religion during different periods in my life, I no longer believe in ANY of it. The only ones that I feel any attachment to (ironically) are Taoism and Zen Buddhism. Neither requires god!
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immoderate Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 01:00 AM
Response to Reply #62
63. It's a matter of definition.
Atwood defines atheists as those that claim to have absolute knowledge that there is no god. There's lots of atheists around here but very few that would make that statement.

Most of us (forgive my presumptions in speaking for others) think that the existence of god is unknowable. Hence, agnostic, without knowledge. However, there is no member of the set of definitions of god that doesn't lead to some logical contradiction. So the idea of a god doesn't make sense.

There are others that define god in such loose terms (love, beauty, faith) that the universe appears the same whether that god actually exists or not, rendering the question moot.

That, I proffer, is what BMUS means by the term "agnostic atheist." Anyway that's what I mean when I use that same terminology to describe what I think.

--IMM
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:40 AM
Response to Reply #62
75. What's the difference? nt
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 07:11 AM
Response to Reply #75
77. Analysis:
Atheism is popularly polarized as the opposite of belief in a certain deity. This vast oversimplification arises from the presupposition that atheism exists in one easily recognizable form for one obvious reason, namely, that one is stubbornly and of free will unwilling to believe in that deity's existence. In truth, atheism is a multifaceted term encompassing a range of meanings, some of which will be carefully explored in the following analysis.

To begin to uncover atheism's semantic richness, one need only ask why atheists exist. Many reasons can then be found that collectively paint a much less abstract picture of what atheism means to those who identify with it. Until one has attempted to understand why atheists are who they are, one's biases and arguments for and against atheism must be said to be superficial and trite, and should not be taken seriously.

Atheism can be divided into a number of hierarchical types. At the highest level of analysis, atheism can be divided into 'disbelief' (D) and 'belief' (B). 'Disbelief' can then be divided into 'aware' (Da) and 'unaware' (Du) types, while 'belief' can be divided into several types, to be discussed. I will explain each of these types and provide examples during the lowest level of analysis to clarify how atheists identify with them.

First, consider atheism as type D. D represents the absence of belief in one or more deities. This is a relatively passive type as opposed to B, which is relatively active. B contrasts with D as a belief in the nonexistence of one or more deities. As mentioned, D can be divided into Da and Du types. Da can be further divided into 'unmotivated' (Da1), 'incapable' (Da2), and 'unconsidered' (Da3) types, while Du can be further divided into 'able' (Du1) and 'unable' (Du2) types. Below are descriptions with examples for each D type.

http://uberkuh.com/node/341
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:32 PM
Response to Original message
27. greyl, I would have expected more from you.
Why start hitting this old hornet's nest again?

Atwood is mistaken, she's mistaken about what atheism means.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 02:39 PM
Response to Reply #27
35. :) I'm still trying to work the issue out for myself.
I don't like labels, but I'm getting tired of saying I waver between agnosticism and atheism.
I assert that knowledge of whether or not there are one or more gods simply isn't available.

Besides, I made it a point to say "There's more to discuss than just her statement of atheism, but I thought that would make the best title. ;)"
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trotsky Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 09:35 AM
Response to Reply #35
86. And I assert one doesn't have to have full knowledge...
of whether or not there are gods in order to identify as an atheist. If that were a requirement, then only a supreme god could be an atheist, which technically would be possible, since that god couldn't believe in a higher power than itself.
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 04:12 PM
Response to Reply #35
94. One doesn't need to waver between them, as they are distinctly...
...different things.

Agnosticism deals with knowledge. Atheism deals with belief.

I, for example, am an agnostic atheist, in that I don't have any knowledge of gods' existence (because there is no evidence outside believers' minds for them) and thus don't believe in them due to that lack of evidence. That is NOT to say I believe they don't exist. I don't make that claim, because I don't 'know' gods don't exist anymore than believers 'know' gods exist.

They are, in fact, compatible thought processes! :)

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Javaman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:12 PM
Response to Original message
42. This should be good...
:popcorn:
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omega minimo Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 03:12 PM
Response to Original message
43. Uh oh
:hide:
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bloom Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 05:05 PM
Response to Original message
53. I don't see anything wrong
Edited on Fri Sep-22-06 05:08 PM by bloom
with taking a definite stance. That seems to be the issue.

I think that the reasonable thing is to say that it's up to the people who believe in God/dess to prove it - not the other way around.

I'd say that there are probably plenty of "religious" people in churches who do not believe any more absolutely than she does about the existence of a God/dess. I think that most people probably depend on their perceptions of other's beliefs for their own.

I think that Atwood is assuming that most religious people believe 100% - while I would guess that that is not the case. So she would be more like the religious people that she thinks that atheists are. (Sharing their uncertainty).

The implication seems to be that religion is "bad" - so she says that atheists are "religious". What if the assumption is that religion is good - it's just the idea of believing in things that don't exist that is bad.

If more people included this in their idea of religion....

"Some religions are nonrevealed, or natural, the result of human inquiry alone. Included among these and sometimes called philosophies of eternity are Buddhist sects (where Buddha is recognized not as a god but as an enlightened leader), Brahmanism, and Taoism and other Chinese metaphysical doctrines." http://www.answers.com/religion

...there may be less animosity about religion in general.

"the result of human inquiry alone" is essentially atheism - though the Buddhists, etc. include rituals and other practices as part of their religion. (She seemed to be trying to say that "human inquiry" is agnosticism).

The argument to be made is whether atheists have a "A cause, principle, or activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion." ( the 4th part of the definition of religion). Some do, some don't.

Sometimes it's the assorted value judgments that people put on words that is often what the issue is.

I don't think that belief/non-belief is what religion is.

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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 06:20 PM
Response to Original message
55. BMUS: "Margaret Atwood is a moron."
Edited on Fri Sep-22-06 06:55 PM by beam me up scottie
Atwood's definition of atheism is not just ignorant, it's also indicative of dogmatic thinking.

Since Margie claims to be a feminist, I wonder how she likes it when like-minded morons claim that feminism is really misandry?




Try reading a book instead of writing them for a change, Marge, you'd be amazed how much you can learn when you shut your mouth and open your eyes.





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neebob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 01:38 AM
Response to Reply #55
64. You extremist Atwood-bashing atheist whackjob.
Edited on Sat Sep-23-06 01:41 AM by neebob
Shall we argue, or gush about Sam Harris? I vote argue.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 05:39 AM
Response to Reply #64
65. It says here I am required to gush.
Edited on Sat Sep-23-06 06:08 AM by beam me up scottie
It's part of the contract I signed when I joined The Atheist Church of Harris.

I am also required to bash other liberals, but I can multi-task.

Gush gush gush

Bash bash bash

Gush gush

Bash


Okay then, now that I've got that out of the way, I'm off to eat some christian babies and help my fellow Militant Whackjob Atheist Extremists at The Temple of Science Worshipers. They're in the middle of a weekend marathon to convert liberal believers.

Care to join me?
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neebob Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 02:21 PM
Response to Reply #65
90. Yes, please,
because all this shit about strong atheism and dogma tempts and distracts me from the true purpose of arguing, to disrespect believers. So, yeah, I could get into some science worshipping and liberal believer coverting.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:31 AM
Response to Reply #55
71. It doesn't depend on the definition of atheism?
She says that making an absolute stand about something which can't be proven is dogmatic and in the realm of belief rather than knowledge. Do you disagree with that?
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 07:08 AM
Response to Reply #71
76. She says atheism is a religion, do you agree with that?
Don't bother trying to justify her willful ignorance, this atheist has heard that particular red herring too many times to be swayed by after-spin.

She's afraid of being called an atheist so she tries to redefine what I believe or don't in order to elevate her enlightened self above the rest of us.

It's not working.

Getting into the same wallow shared by bigoted theists doesn't exactly endear her to intelligent liberals.

At least not this one.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 07:16 AM
Response to Reply #76
78. Depends on the definition of atheism.
Are you saying that "strong atheism is dogmatic" would have been an accurate phrase?
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 07:21 AM
Response to Reply #78
80. I'm saying she's an idiot who didn't bother to research the subject
before she went on national television and declared that I practice a religion.
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 04:23 PM
Response to Reply #78
95. "strong atheism is dogmatic" is closer to the truth of the matter.
I don't know that it's accurate, as dogma (as I understand the term, correct me if I'm wrong) tends to be taken in from an authority figure, and there are no atheist 'priests' or real authorities, atheism being at heart a simple lack of belief in gods (which strong atheism takes and runs with to become an assertive "god doesn't exist" stance).

However, it is true that strong atheists - of which I am not one - make an assertive claim that is not proven, just like believers do.

(Otherwise, I agree with BMUS' anger. Atwood should have learned about the different types of atheism before placing all of us into her mold - just as we atheists shouldn't lump all believers together.)

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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 10:48 AM
Response to Reply #95
123. I agree, having been one on occasion. :) nt
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 08:18 PM
Response to Reply #76
108. No, That Is Idiotic
atheism isn't a religion

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Random_Australian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 10:39 PM
Response to Reply #108
109. ....
:applause:

:loveya:

Thank you. A lot.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 11:19 PM
Response to Reply #108
112. Thanks, SPK!
You seemed to have learned as much from me as I have from you. :)
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SPKrazy Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 09:47 PM
Response to Reply #112
137. Teachability
is more valuable than knowledge in my opinion

thanks

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ozone_man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Sep-22-06 07:13 PM
Response to Original message
58. She doesn't understand atheism and agnostic definitions.
Many agnostics (including Atwood) are atheists also, whether they realize that or not. All it takes to be an atheist is to not believe in god or gods, and I'll add lack of belief in the supernatural (my definition). It's OK to not have knowledge or evidence that no gods exist, which very few (including me) claim to possess. So, I also am strictly speaking an agnostic, but I'm also an atheist (an agnostic atheist to be exact). So, the fence sitter, at some point, has to decide for themselves whether they believe or they don't believe. There really isn't a middle position. We've been through this many times, but for the logic minded, there are two independent conditions with four combinations: Gnostic theist, agnostic theist, agnostic atheist, and gnostic atheist, gnostic meaning to know.

gnostic

/nostik/

adjective 1 relating to knowledge, especially esoteric mystical knowledge. 2 (Gnostic) relating to Gnosticism.

noun (Gnostic) an adherent of Gnosticism.

ORIGIN Greek gnostikos, from gnostos known.

So believing and knowing are two separate things. Two essentially independent, compatible concepts. Since most people don't know about god or gods, they are technically agnostics. The majority of agnostics are believers (in the U.S. anyway), while a minority are nonbelievers (except in secular Europe or Asia). The former are also theists, while the latter are also atheists. This simplified approach to classifying beliefs and knowledge goes a long way to providing some clarity to the fuzzy thinking provided by folks like Atwood.

I think she's very smart BTW and I agree with most of what she says, but she's also a fence sitter of sorts, which may be why she's having an interview with someone like Bill Moyers who attends church on Sunday. I wonder if Moyers has had an interview with a rationalist like Sam Harris. :)


So we like the story with the tiger better. We like the story with God in it better then we like the story without God in it. Because it's more like us, it's more understandable, it's more human.

BILL MOYERS: More human with God?

MARGARET ATWOOD: More human with God.

BILL MOYERS: How so?

MARGARET ATWOOD: More human with God because the story without God is about atoms. It's not about somebody we can talk with in theory, or that has any interest in us. So that the universe without an intelligence in it has got nothing to say to us. Whereas the universe, with an intelligence in it, has got something to say to us because it's a mirror of who we are. How about that?

BILL MOYERS: Does a strict agnostic believe that we have a soul?

MARGARET ATWOOD: A strict agnostic could believe that but could not state it as a matter of knowledge.

BILL MOYERS: What do you think we mean by the word?

MARGARET ATWOOD: The soul?

BILL MOYERS: Yes.

MARGARET ATWOOD: It's another one of the things that we know what we mean. We know what we mean ,or we think we believe we know what we mean. But it's not something you can measure or prove, so it has to exist in the belief system. I prefer to believe that we have a soul because I like the story with the tiger better then the story without the tiger. And I like the story with the soul better then the story without the soul, it's a better story.


Yes, the story with the tiger feels better, it's more comforting to think of a soul, and a god who takes care of us, and an afterlife that keeps us alive when we die, but those are results of the wishful thinking that led to the establishment of religion. We can still have the concept of a soul, of a heart, without having it be separate from our body. This bit of Platonic mysticism is what has brought us so far down the silly path we're on, where our rewards are provided in heaven. IMO we're all part of the same material body that decays into humus when we die. Sure we have soul, and heart, but the harsh reality is that it's gone when we die. To pretend otherwise, to romanticize like Atwood, perpetuates the ignorance in civilization. Good for story writers and mythology experts like Joseph Campbell, but for those combatting the religious right, they can be a hindrance. See, sometimes the liberals just get in the way of change, and I'm a liberal, but not a moderate. There is a difference.

As far as atheism being a religion, there are several threads on the subject, along with threads that attempt to equate science with religion or science as a faith. None of the analogies hold though, when you compare evidence or fact based thinking with magical thinking. We can go there, but it's no contest really.
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:32 AM
Response to Reply #58
72. What do we call someone who positively asserts there is no God? nt
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 07:18 AM
Response to Reply #72
79. A strong atheist.
Wikpedia has the simplest definition:

Strong atheism, sometimes called positive atheism, or hard atheism, is the philosophical position that no deity exists. It is a form of explicit atheism, meaning that it consciously rejects theism. It is contrasted with weak atheism, which is the absence of belief in deities, without the belief deities do not exist. The strong atheist believes, at the very least, that no deities exist, and may further believe that the existence of certain deities is logically impossible.
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muriel_volestrangler Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:17 AM
Response to Original message
66. It comes down to the precise definitions you use
For instance, Richard Dawkins, who calls himself an atheist, and who, I think, everyone else also calls an atheist, says in his new book "The God Delusion", "God almost certainly does not exist". He explained this in an interview:

Jeremy Paxman: You're leaving open the possibility he does?

Richard Dawkins: Of course. Any scientist would leave open that possibility. You can't absolutely disprove the existence of anything. Just as we can't disprove the existence of Thor and Zeus and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, we can't be dogmatic and say "it is certain that god doesn't exist". We can say it is as unlikely as Thor with his hammer.


What do we know "for certain"? Do we know the Sun didn't explode 7 minutes ago? We'll have to wait another minute before we get physical evidence, but all our other evidence points to the continuing existence of the Sun, and we'd be justified in saying "the Sun is still there". How do we know that what we perceive isn't an elaborate illusion in our own minds, and we're not 'really' a completely different entity?

When you're proposing a being with infinite powers, or at least powers far beyond our comprehension, you can propose they can hide away from us, if they want. So you can't disprove a god that tries to make the universe look godless. But, under our 'normal' reasoning, the universe does look godless, to many people. We are called 'atheists'. But it's not a dogma. No-one is telling us "You shall not conceive of beings great then yourselves". It's a conclusion from the available evidence. And so I think that Atwood, for all her skill with language, gets it wrong when describing atheism as a 'religion'. And I think she's splitting hairs with her definition of 'knowledge'.

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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 06:38 AM
Response to Reply #66
74. I agree. Dawkins is agreeing with Atwood on a point:
"we can't be dogmatic and say "it is certain that god doesn't exist"


I think it depends on the definitions of God, atheism, and agnosticism.

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Finder Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 08:40 AM
Response to Original message
84. I wish it was!
Would make it a lot easier to be represented. That said, I am an atheist when it comes to organized religions and their gods.

When it comes to the god of the Deists, I consider myself agnostic. Most likely because they make no dogmatic statements regarding this "god of nature" or "Nature's god" or assertations that can be logically tested or historically researched.




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Caution Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 09:54 AM
Response to Original message
87. Atheism is a religion like not collecting stamps is a hobby
And Margaret Atwood is an idiot.
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Goblinmonger Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Sep-24-06 11:22 AM
Response to Reply #87
105. And Margaret Atwood is an idiot
like Rush and O'Reily are fucking assholes. And that's a lot.
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Zhade Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Sep-23-06 03:17 PM
Response to Original message
91. Absolutely false, for reasons already explained.
Atwood is wrong.

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moggie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 08:59 AM
Response to Original message
118. This is the same Margaret Atwood...
... who used to adamantly claim that "The Handmaid's Tale" isn't science fiction, because (imagine a disdainful voice) "science fiction is filled with Martians and space travel", and isn't what a respectable literary author would write. I believe she's changed her tune since then, so perhaps she can be educated about atheism too.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 11:22 PM
Response to Reply #118
140. She said that???
:rofl: :rofl: :rofl:

Oh, moggie, that explains SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much, thank you! :D
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greyl Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 10:58 AM
Response to Original message
124. "What Was She Thinking?" - atheism.about.com
Edited on Mon Sep-25-06 11:00 AM by greyl
What Was She Thinking? Margaret Atwood Doesn't Understand Atheism
Margaret Atwood is a fairly well-known author in freethinking circles because of her book The Handmaid's Tale, a story about a dystopic future when extreme religious fascism has taken control of America. Margaret Atwood also suffers from a serious problem known as Arrogance of Agnosticism: by misdefining atheism and agnosticism, she pretends that she is superior to everyone else.

Bill Moyers interviewed Martin Amis and Margaret Atwood on their concerns is the threat to freedom of speech and conscience from religious extremism...
______________________________________________________________

Finally, her justification for her strict agnostic position is seriously flawed. Shes wrong that something isnt knowledge unless you can run a repeatable experiment on it. What she is describing is a standard for scientific knowledge, not knowledge in the general sense. In general, something can qualify as knowledge when its a justified, true belief. Obviously a repeatable experiment is a great way to justify a belief, but its not the only way. There are cases where we cant perform an experiment to test something, but you are still justified in believing it and its still true. Therefore, it counts as knowledge.

Next, shes wrong to assert categorically that we cant run an experiment on whether God exists or not. The ability to test the claim god exists depends entirely upon how we define god under some definitions an experiment may be possible; under others, it wont be. In the cases where no test is possible, its unlikely that the claim being made is meaningful and, therefore, an agnostic position on such a god probably isnt justified. Why be agnostic about an alleged god that isnt described or defined very well or very coherently?
http://atheism.about.com/b/a/257963.htm


edit: added quote
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catbert836 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 03:46 PM
Response to Reply #124
133. Yes, I was quite dissapointed in her stance.
For some reason, it seems to be more acceptable in our culture to be an agnostic than an atheist- an agnostic calls to mind a questioning, intelligent skeptic while an atheist calls to mind an immature, God-hating firebrand. There's far less difference between agnosticism and atheism than Margaret seems to think- and this is just one symptom of the larger problem of anti-atheist bigotry.
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beam me up scottie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 11:17 PM
Response to Reply #124
139. "Arrogance of Agnosticism"
Margaret Atwood also suffers from a serious problem known as Arrogance of Agnosticism: by misdefining atheism and agnosticism, she pretends that she is superior to everyone else.


Like I said in my above post, she's afraid of being called an atheist so she tries to redefine what I believe or don't in order to elevate her enlightened self above the rest of us.

Why does Margaret Atwood make so many obviously incorrect claims — claims which can easily be refuted with just a few minutes reflection or research? It should be noted that Atwood isn’t the first or only person to say such things and, in particular, to say such things in an attempt to justify agnosticism as a superior and more rational position than either theism or atheism. That’s why I call this the “Arrogance of Agnosticism.” It’s an arrogant attempt by someone to pretend that they are much better, much more sensible, and much more rational than just about everyone else in the world because they have managed to hit upon the one defensible position on the question of gods’ existence.

Unfortunately, this is only achieved by seriously misrepresenting just about every issue and concept involved.


Wow, sounds just like an athIEst who posts here.


I absolutely love Austin. :loveya:

And yes, I'm gushing. :P

Sue me.
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and-justice-for-all Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Sep-25-06 05:47 PM
Response to Original message
135. Atwood seems to have missed something...
...Agnostic does not nor does it claim that their is or isnt a devine creator, its dogmatic.

...Atheist denounce ALL religious supertitions and practices as well as the acknowledgement of any devine creator in anyway shape or form. I am an Atheist and I am not dogmatic, we continusly battle the dogmatic wack jobs who want to stake claim on what they know isnt so. Until they can prove with tangiable evidence the existence of their devine creator, I will remain an undogmatic ATHEIST.
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TallahasseeGrannie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Sep-26-06 08:06 AM
Response to Original message
141. I know we bounce around our terms here all the time on R/T
but I had come up with the one I plan to use. Radical. Radical Xtian, Radical Muslim, Radical Atheist.

And to me it means someone who has jumped out of the envelop all together and is obsessed by whatever.
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varkam Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-28-06 10:41 PM
Response to Reply #141
143. Does radical = fundamentalist?
Could you give me a bit better idea about what you mean?
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NAO Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Sep-28-06 10:29 PM
Response to Original message
142. yeah, and BALDNESS is a HAIR COLOR...
...and NOT-COLLECTING STAMPS is a HOBBY...

Atheism is NOT a religion. It is the ABSENCE of religion.
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