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Wed Jul 30, 2014, 01:16 AM

Agnostics may threaten agnostic atheists with a burden of proof.

In which I demonstrate I'm a masochist by wading into this topic

When the topic of agnosticism comes up, there's a conflict between those who reject the label of "atheist" in favor of "agnostic", and those who insist that the labels don't work that way. In the view of the second group, to be an agnostic is necessarily to also be an atheist, unless you're explicitly a theist. Why is there conflict over this matter, instead of a "live and let live" policy? Why do some agnostic atheists insist that agnostics are using the word incorrectly?

People who use the agnostic label instead of the atheist label could be working out of a model where the options are "yes, God exists" (Theist), "No, God does not exist"Atheist) and "I don't know if God exists or not" (Agnostic). In this model, it makes sense to have agnostic as it's own position.

But that creates a problem for those who want to claim the label "atheist". The definition of "atheist" in that model is unacceptable. It involves a positive claim. But according to "The Ethics of Belief" by W.K. Clifford, a very influential essay: "To sum up: it is wrong always, everywhere, and for anyone, to believe anything upon insufficient evidence." So if we accept what Clifford has to say, atheism under the "No, God does not exist" definition has an evidential burden, which may prove difficult or impossible to meet.

Clifford's standard is useful because if believers can be convinced to accept it, it might well end up abolishing their belief, depending on what ends up being considered as "evidence". But as said, it comes with a potential problem for atheism as well. But if atheism didn't fit in to the three option model, if atheism could be defined as a rejection of a claim, rather than a claim in its own right, then no problem. Non-believers can reclaim the label "atheist" as a positive symbol rather than pejorative (much in the same way that "queer" was adopted by some gay people), and still use Clifford's standard as a tool against religious belief.

That's where the four box grid comes in. By making "agnostic" one half of a gnostic/agnostic spectrum, and theist/atheist the other spectrum, now theism is the positive claim, and atheism is the rejection of that claim. And you can see why it fits, because gnostic is the other positive claim (of knowledge), and agnostic is the rejection of knowledge. It makes some intuitive sense, and has the previous benefits I described.

So agnostics, if you've ever wondered why some agnostic atheists are so adamant that you are also atheists, this could be why. Because if you are just agnostics, they can't be atheists without a difficult burden of proof, and they may see identifying with and reclaiming the symbol of "atheism" to be a very important project. Your use of agnostic for yourself is getting in the way, and making their lives more difficult when they deal with theists who are inclined to play the "you can't prove god doesn't exist, so atheism is a faith too" card.

Agnostic atheists, what do you think? Is anything of what I said correct?







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Reply Agnostics may threaten agnostic atheists with a burden of proof. (Original post)
Htom Sirveaux Jul 2014 OP
yodermon Jul 2014 #1
Htom Sirveaux Jul 2014 #2
Warpy Jul 2014 #4
Htom Sirveaux Jul 2014 #5
Warren Stupidity Jul 2014 #14
Iggo Jul 2014 #42
Warren Stupidity Jul 2014 #43
Warpy Jul 2014 #3
DetlefK Jul 2014 #8
cleanhippie Jul 2014 #46
stone space Aug 2014 #48
cbayer Jul 2014 #6
intaglio Jul 2014 #7
DetlefK Jul 2014 #9
cbayer Jul 2014 #10
Beartracks Jul 2014 #30
cbayer Jul 2014 #35
edhopper Jul 2014 #36
cbayer Jul 2014 #41
trotsky Jul 2014 #12
DetlefK Jul 2014 #13
trotsky Jul 2014 #16
AlbertCat Aug 2014 #90
goldent Jul 2014 #47
trotsky Jul 2014 #11
Htom Sirveaux Jul 2014 #39
edhopper Jul 2014 #15
trotsky Jul 2014 #17
cbayer Jul 2014 #18
trotsky Jul 2014 #19
stone space Aug 2014 #50
edhopper Jul 2014 #23
cbayer Jul 2014 #24
edhopper Jul 2014 #26
cbayer Jul 2014 #34
Htom Sirveaux Jul 2014 #38
Brettongarcia Jul 2014 #20
hueymahl Jul 2014 #22
Warren Stupidity Jul 2014 #28
stone space Aug 2014 #51
AtheistCrusader Jul 2014 #21
Htom Sirveaux Jul 2014 #25
AtheistCrusader Jul 2014 #29
Htom Sirveaux Jul 2014 #37
AtheistCrusader Jul 2014 #40
stone space Aug 2014 #54
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #55
stone space Aug 2014 #56
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #57
stone space Aug 2014 #58
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #59
stone space Aug 2014 #60
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #61
stone space Aug 2014 #62
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #64
stone space Aug 2014 #76
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #77
stone space Aug 2014 #78
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #79
stone space Aug 2014 #80
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #82
stone space Aug 2014 #84
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #85
stone space Aug 2014 #86
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #87
stone space Aug 2014 #88
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #89
stone space Aug 2014 #81
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #83
cbayer Aug 2014 #63
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #65
cbayer Aug 2014 #66
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #67
cbayer Aug 2014 #68
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #69
cbayer Aug 2014 #70
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cbayer Aug 2014 #72
AtheistCrusader Aug 2014 #73
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Inkfreak Jul 2014 #27
lilithsrevenge12 Jul 2014 #31
xfundy Jul 2014 #32
edhopper Jul 2014 #33
Iggo Jul 2014 #45
gcomeau Jul 2014 #44
stone space Aug 2014 #49
Erich Bloodaxe BSN Aug 2014 #52
stone space Aug 2014 #53

Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 01:37 AM

1. does this map to the "strong atheist" / "weak atheist" terminology i've seen thrown around?

Let's see, so:
strong atheist = gnostic atheist. ("i know there is no god"
weak atheist = agnostic atheist ("I don't believe there is a god"

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Response to yodermon (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 01:41 AM

2. Yes, it does.

You got it. Personally, it seems odd to me that you can shift a burden of proof by a slight word change like this ("I believe there is no god" v. "I do not believe there is a god", but that's the end result of adopting Clifford's standard and the two spectra I described.

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Response to yodermon (Reply #1)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 02:01 AM

4. No, you have it wrong

Strong atheist: "I have never seen any evidence at all for the existence of a god or any gods."

Weak atheist=agnostic: "I have never seen any evidence of anything particularly godlike but I haven't made up my mind"

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Response to Warpy (Reply #4)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 02:06 AM

5. Where did these definitions come from? nt

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Response to Warpy (Reply #4)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 09:34 AM

14. No that isn't right.

 



In my opinion that chart sums it up correctly.

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Response to Warren Stupidity (Reply #14)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 11:15 AM

42. Since there's usually never a reply after you post that chart, I'm replying here.

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Response to Iggo (Reply #42)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 11:32 AM

43. indeed.

 

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 01:50 AM

3. You mean forcing atheists to prove a negative?

Logically impossible so I'm not interested.

Only positive assertions can be proven. Ball's in the believer court, where it's always been.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #3)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 06:50 AM

8. "Proving a negative" is just an excuse.

If the attribute is boolean, then it doesn't matter which one of the two possible states I prove to be true or to be false. It will automatically affect knowledge about the other state. When one is true, the other is automatically false.

And existence is a boolean attribute (barring Hilbert-space-like mathematical multiverses like in quantum-mechanics): Something exists or it does not.
"Does it exist? Yes or No?"
"Does it exist not? No or Yeah?"
It's the same.

What's the difference between: "The TV is turned off." and "The TV is not turned on." ?

Example:
I claim there is no person in the world that fits the following parameters
* not right-handed
* not heterosexual
* not a follower of Methodism
* not driving a red Ford Mustang
* not 1 or more brothers
* not 1 or less sisters
* skin-color not white, black or brown
* not living in the rented apartment on second floor, second hallway to the left, first door to the right
* not living in the town of X

Surely you can reasonably demand that I deliver proof for that claim.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #8)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 01:11 PM

46. Your analogy is wrong.

It's not whether the tv is on or not, it's if there is a tv at all.

Believers claim that there is a tv, when any evidence supporting the very existence of the tv cannot be produced. Therefore the logical conclusion is that, in the absence of evidence supporting the existence of the tv, the tv probably doesn't exist.

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Response to Warpy (Reply #3)

Sun Aug 3, 2014, 12:47 AM

48. Atheists don't need to be forced to "prove negatives".

 

You mean forcing atheists to prove a negative?


I'm an atheist, and I prove (so-called) "negatives" all the time. Nobody needs to force me to do it.

Many of us atheists (as well as many theists) "prove negatives" voluntarily, for the sheer joy of it.

It's fun. It really is. You should try it.



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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 06:31 AM

6. The current terminology is inadequate to describe the myriad of positions

people find themselves in regarding religion and religious beliefs.

We can argue all day long, but in the end people should be allowed to call themselves what they want. If one wants to know more about what that means, one need only ask.

When it comes to something this sensitive, the worst thing you can do is insist that someone is something they overtly reject.

How do we develop new words that are more accurate and descriptive? How do you differentiate between the active and passive atheist position, because they are, in fact, very different? And on and on.

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 06:49 AM

7. But walking into the flames is fun!!!

You know my stand on this but ...

It can definitely be argued that most unbelief occupies a spectrum; that spectrum runs from "I think there has to be a deity but I do not know" to "There is absolutely no sign of a deity and a near zero chance that there is a deity." If you use that principle then nearly all unbelief is agnostic. This has a major problem, at the more theistic end of the spectrum you include many who are out-and out religious; an example being those whose reasoning is based upon Pascal's infamous wager.

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 07:20 AM

9. Aliens.

Fact:
We have no proof that alien life exists.

Conclusion:
There is no alien life in the universe. And you can't force me to prove that, because it's formulated in negative logic and you can't prove a negative.



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Response to DetlefK (Reply #9)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 07:30 AM

10. It's a lazy and easy argument that is used all the time.

I agree with your assessment of it. In addition, there is no need to prove anything. If someone does not believe and will not believe until there is proof, that is fine. Who cares?

If someone insists that there is a god, then they do have the burden of proof. If someone just believes there is a god, they don't owe anybody anything.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #10)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 01:28 PM

30. Yes: "If someone just believes, they don't owe anybody anything"

It's just a belief. If there were proof, beleiving wouldn't be necessary anymore.

====================

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Response to Beartracks (Reply #30)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 02:39 PM

35. I agree with that.

Faith based belief would vanish were there proof for or against a deity.

That will never happen, imo.

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Response to Beartracks (Reply #30)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 05:20 PM

36. To bad people make concrete real world decisions

sometimes to the detriment of themselves and others on that unprovable belief. And they often do it with a surety that doesn't exists elsewhere in life.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #36)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 02:35 AM

41. Not too bad at all. They also make concrete real world decisions

to the betterment of themselves and others.

In the end, we all have our filters, ethics, moral standards and beliefs (yes, beliefs) that guide our decisions, be they religiously based or not.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #9)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 09:15 AM

12. Actually, to make it analogous, you have to do this:

Fact: We have no proof that alien life exists.

Conclusion 1: I believe that alien life exists. I'm an alienist.

Conclusion 2: I don't believe that alien life exists. I'm a non-alienist.

Note that conclusion 2 doesn't mean "There is no alien life in the universe."

So apart from failing miserably, your analogy is spot on!

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Response to trotsky (Reply #12)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 09:28 AM

13. Where did I fail?

Atheists have 2 basic arguments:
* Comparing spiritual descriptions of God with real-life phenomena supposedly under his control leads to the conclusion that God is immoral by today's standards. I refuse to worship someone immoral.
* There is no proof for God => God doesn't exist => I refuse to believe in God.

My analogy was completely in line with the second reasoning. And may I suggest the terms "alienist" and "aalienist"?

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #13)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 09:40 AM

16. The basic atheist argument is this:

"You haven't provided sufficient evidence for me to believe your god exists."

That's where you failed. And I specifically avoided "aalienist" only because of the awkward double a.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #12)

Fri Aug 8, 2014, 12:13 AM

90. So apart from failing miserably, your analogy is spot on!

 

Besides....

We know for a fact LIFE exists, so the statistical probability of life not on just this planet but elsewhere is a possibility.

We have no facts to tell us anything at all supernatural exists, so the statistical probability of anything supernatural (like a god) existing is much farther from a possibility.

This plus the observation that the universe seems to operate just as if a god didn't exist, make such a thing superfluous, makes god a failed hypothesis.

God does not work in any mysterious way if you assume that he is simply not there.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #9)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 09:50 PM

47. The alien life analogy is a very good one

It forces people to really think about truth, belief, and evidence.

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 09:14 AM

11. Two things.

1) You're wrong about atheism. It doesn't involve a positive claim. That's your spin.

2) Why is there conflict? Because there are centuries of hatred, distrust, and persecution associated with the word "atheist." Some of us want to take the word back. Others want to continue hanging the negative baggage on the word. There's your conflict.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #11)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 11:46 PM

39. I wasn't endorsing one model over the other, just attempting description. nt

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 09:40 AM

15. Nah

So agnostics, if you've ever wondered why some agnostic atheists are so adamant that you are also atheists, this could be why. Because if you are just agnostics, they can't be atheists without a difficult burden of proof,


The idea that it is all about emotion and personal idenity for atheists is tired and just wrong.
People call themselves agnostic, but in describing their disbelief in any God they sound just like atheists, so other atheists say so. They can call themselves whatever they want, and the definitions of these things are not one fixed point as we see.
I don't think a single atheist ever said, "OMG if that agnostic claims he has no "knowledge" my whole stance as an atheist is nothing but quicksand."

No, nothing of what you said was correct.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #15)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 09:41 AM

17. Great post, ed.

Well put.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #15)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 09:55 AM

18. Then why are some people so adamant about this.

One might think that the mere idea of someone calling themselves an agnostic, and resisting any definitive terms regarding theism, was someone very threatening.

I'm not proposing that the OP's hypothesis is necessarily correct, but it does make one wonder what all the fuss is about.

Those that I have seen strongly object are all activist atheists. If this term is somehow offensive, I would be glad to entertain a different one. I'm not sure what words to use to distinguish between passive and active atheism, but I am certain that there is a difference.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #18)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 10:24 AM

19. The fuss is about the hatred and stigma attached to the word "atheist," cbayer.

Some of us want to reclaim the word.

Others want to keep associating the negative baggage - implying it's a word that only the most strident non-believers use.

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Response to trotsky (Reply #19)

Sun Aug 3, 2014, 07:13 PM

50. What "strident" atheist views do you consider as negative baggage...

 

...that you wish to dissociate yourself from?

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Response to cbayer (Reply #18)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 12:07 PM

23. There are definitely cultural issues

and there is push back about how society views atheists.

There has been discussions here about Sagan and NDT calling themselves agnostic, when they are also clearly atheist (don't believe there are gods) also. Of course then we get into the "Does not believe there is a God" vs "Believes there is no God".

But the premiss of the post, that agnostics push some sort of burden of proof onto atheists and that is why they are upset is just not a real thing.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #23)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 12:28 PM

24. I think the point about how some may avoid the label because of its

social connotations may be valid, though I doubt in areas where atheist is unacceptable, agnostic going to go over much better.

Actually, I think both Sagan and NDT call themselves agnostic, they just didn't/don't call themselves atheist. The reasons for that are complex, but they are real.

The whole burden of proof argument was a new one to me and I don't really see it, but i still wonder at the strong emotion that drives this debate.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #24)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 12:52 PM

26. I don't think the emotions on this are that strong

they just seem that way filtered through the "internet discussion" thingie.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #26)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 02:36 PM

34. You are most likely right,

though for at least one and possibly two people, it seems to be a crusade of sorts.

In the end, it is pretty irrelevant and nothing more than an "internet discussion" thingie, as you say.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #15)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 11:45 PM

38. Oh well, I'll try to do better next time. nt

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 10:55 AM

20. This has been partially addressed on DU, as 1) a-theists, vs. 2) anti-theists.

1) A-theists were defined as those who "just don't know" ... or care. They just never think about this. They feel no burden of proof.
2) Anti-theists were those who stated positively (or negatively?) that there is no god.

I see some advantages to these and related positions described here. So I don't mind if someone chooses one or the other. Though to be sure, the anti-theist position can more demanding. Not if the burden of proof is on the theist to be sure. But more demanding if the anti-theist wants to actively prove there is no God.

Finally though, I think that the anti-theist who wants to actively make a case that there is no god, is the more intellectually interesting and challenging one. And furthermore, even that more difficult case is not as intellectually impossible as many seem to think.

It is often asserted by believers for example, that God is transcendental, and therefore we cannot use any material evidence to prove or disprove him. However, it is worth noting among other objections, that this wholly transcendental god is not the biblical God. Since he is said to be constantly intervening in the material world; and so he therefore should be supported or denied, by looking at the material world. To see if his influence can indeed be found in evidence. Transcendentalism therefore first of all, is no defense of the Biblical or Christian God; nor of most gods in fact.

Should we pursue this more aggressive task? I think passive a-theism works well enough. And I'd agree that actively proving there is no god is a much harder burden. Though for those who choose the more active path? I'd say that's a noble, and useful - and even perhaps, winnable - position. Much more winnable than you might think.

To be sure, Christians and Jewish people have been trying to counter dis-proofs of God, for 3,000 years; from at least the arguments of Job. And by now, there are hundreds, even thousands of polished standard "apologetics" for a minister to pull out of his back pocket, to try to prove anti-theists are wrong.

However? Today there are some new arguments out there. That have not yet been countered. Therefore, those atheists who want to try to actively prove there is no God, who feel intellectually equipped, should ... go for it. The task is difficult, and meets stiff opposition. But it is not an impossible burden.

And if it fails? Then the above arguments would be useful to note that after all, such a burden is not, strictly, required.

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Response to Brettongarcia (Reply #20)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 11:49 AM

22. That is a great post

Really sums it up well for me. Thanks.

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Response to Brettongarcia (Reply #20)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 01:15 PM

28. "2) Anti-theists were those who stated positively (or negatively?) that there is no god."

 

No. An anti-theist is, in my opinion, a person who is opposed to religion, specifically religious institutions and the role they play in society, independent of any belief or lack of belief in gods. An anti-theist could in fact believe in gods and be opposed to religion. I am an anti-theist atheist. I do not believe in any gods and I am opposed to religion as an institutional force in society. I want religions and religious institutions to fade away into insignificance as I think society would be much better for all of us were that to happen.

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Response to Brettongarcia (Reply #20)

Sun Aug 3, 2014, 07:25 PM

51. I don't think that anybody uses "anti-theist" that way.

 

2) Anti-theists were those who stated positively (or negatively?) that there is no god.


That's just good old fashioned old-school atheism, or what I'm going to start calling "atheist atheism" (to distinguish my position from this newfanfled "agnostic atheism".

"Anti-theism" seems to me to imply an opposition to theism, which has little or nothing to do with atheism.



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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 11:45 AM

21. You are conflating meaning.

"People who use the agnostic label instead of the atheist label could be working out of a model where the options are "yes, God exists" (Theist), "No, God does not exist"Atheist) and "I don't know if God exists or not" (Agnostic). In this model, it makes sense to have agnostic as it's own position."

Let's break it down:


"yes, God exists" (Theist) One can presume this is a gnostic theist, because he or she isn't saying 'I BELIEVE god exists', rather, seems to be making a hard statement implying knowledge. So that's a Gnostic Theist.
"No, God does not exist"Atheist) Also presumably a hard statement, as it does not specify 'I do not believe'. So this would be a gnostic atheist.


"I don't know if God exists or not" This is clearly agnostic, because it speaks to knowledge, but doesn't answer the question of whether this person believes in god or not. Knowledge and belief are not the same thing. This person could be an atheist that doesn't profess to know for sure, OR a theist that still doesn't profess to know.

Agnostic Atheist and Agnostic Theist are real things.


You are, probably unintentionally, attempting to exclude two categories from the conversation and lump them in to one pile.

Saying "I don't know if god exists or not" doesn't tell me whether you BELIEVE in god or not.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #21)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 12:51 PM

25. Suppose a hypothetical person says:

"Part of me believes, and part of me does not, and I'm not ready to claim either label." How would you analyze that situation? It doesn't seem to fit into what you've said so far. It could be that no such person actually exists, and therefore its irrelevant, but I don't think this hypothetical is prima facie implausible.
-
And you are right, I had and have no intention of excluding anyone from anything. Nowhere in my OP did I endorse one model over the other. The purpose of the OP was to consider what underlying models each "side" might be using to think about these words, and if there are different models in play, why that could be unacceptable to one side.

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Reply #25)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 01:23 PM

29. If part of that person believes, that trips the 'theist' value.

In my view. Something more than or other than non-belief seems to fit in that bucket, without ascribing positive or negative intent, just as a matter of sheer classification.

If you believe a little bit, you are a believer, on a spectrum of belief.

There is no spectrum of non-belief. We're all equals. It's just a flat line. (Specifically in the context of answering the 'are you a believer' question. Of course there are Atheists that go quite beyond not believing, into anti-theism, etc.)

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #29)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 11:42 PM

37. Does the person's desire not to claim either label make any kind of difference? nt

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Reply #37)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 12:35 AM

40. I don't claim any racial titles, yet the government sees fit to classify me at every turn.

On some level it bothers me that people spend time on it, I suppose. But that's all.

Such labels are a tool for others to relate to me, not for me to relate to them. It doesn't change me.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #29)

Sun Aug 3, 2014, 07:50 PM

54. The "one drop" rule for theism?

 

If you believe a little bit, you are a believer, on a spectrum of belief.


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Response to stone space (Reply #54)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:18 AM

55. Words have meaning.

A- prefix means without. No a-, it means with.

It has no moral absolute dimension to it, it is simple classification.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #55)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:26 AM

56. So, because "atheist" starts with an "a", the one drop rule applies?

 

That's too funny.





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Response to stone space (Reply #56)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:33 AM

57. Um, yes. Because if you're not an atheist, you're a theist. This is not difficult.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #57)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:39 AM

58. I'd say your definition is ahistorical, but you'd probably be able to find one drop of...

 

...historical precedence for it, and declare yourself the winner on account of the one drop rule, since the word "ahistorical" starts with an "a".



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Response to stone space (Reply #58)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 12:56 AM

59. What's the name of the intermediary then?

When the proposition is 0/1, and the values are whole numbers, there isn't much room for you to play word games.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #59)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 01:35 AM

60. I'm sorry, but with all due respect, you are the one playing word games here.

 

Your back/white, 0/1, all or nothing mindset that you seek to impose on a much more complex and subtle real world of rather continuously varying and often ill-defined attributes and qualities obscures that reality more than it describes it.

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Response to stone space (Reply #60)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 01:43 AM

61. That's a lot of words for you to ignore that it is a boolean proposition.

One person ascribes to faith, the other does not. It's that simple. If you ascribe to a little, that's still theism.

Again, this is not difficult to understand.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #61)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 01:50 AM

62. I leave you to your simplistic...

 

...binary world where 0.999999=0.


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Response to stone space (Reply #62)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 06:33 PM

64. I asked you for an intermediary option. You did not supply one.

I am willing to entertain one, if you supplied. So far, all we have to work with is Atheist/Theist, which is 0/1, true/false Boolean logic.

The failure is yours.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #64)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 09:36 AM

76. I didn't supply a name for "the intermediary" because...

 

...I felt that the request was a diversion from the topic at hand.

We weren't talking about replacing a dichotomy with a trichotomy by coming up with a name for 0.5 on a scale from 0 to 1.

We were talking about what to do with 0.999999.

You want to round it down to 0.

But since you insist for a name for 0.5, I'd suggest agnostic. (Pretty predictable, huh?)

But again, this is a deflection, since a trichotomy, while discretizing the continuous interval from 0 to 1 at a slightly finer level of linguistic granularity, simply replaces my objection to rounding 0.999999 down to 0 to an equally objectionable rounding down of 0.999999 to 0.5.

My objection to your procedure for rounding does not depend on whether we approximate a continuous scale (which is itself an inaccurate one-dimensional representation of reality) by a dichotomy or by a trichotomy.

But again, my suspicion is that you made the request as a diversion, made in order to get a predictable answer that you could quibble with in order to change the subject at hand, which is why you feel the need to round 0.999999 down to 0 using some kind of "one drop rule" in the first place.

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Response to stone space (Reply #76)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 10:53 AM

77. That's not what agnostic means.

As you have been repeatedly pointed to, Gnosticism is about KNOWLEDGE not BELIEF.

Also, if you were paying attention to my argument at all, you would have realized that I would round 0.999999 up to some spectrum of belief. So too with 0.00000001. That is some measure of belief, however fractional.

Try again.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #77)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 10:58 AM

78. Not going to quibble about the word "agnostic".

 

That was just my answer to a question designed to create a diversion.

I gave you the obvious answer because you insisted, not because I wished to assist you in creating a diversion.

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Response to stone space (Reply #78)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:00 AM

79. It was not a diversion, however much you wish to pretend it was to escape a losing position.

Agnosticism was the one answer I would reject out of hand without considering, because we already covered it, and you of course know that.

Toodles.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #79)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:08 AM

80. The very fact that...

 

...you took my (obvious answer) as a springboard for a diversion should go a long way towards explaining my initial reluctance to answer the irrelevant question.

We aren't talking about whether or not 0.5 has a name (and whether or not you agree with that name).

The issue that drew me into this discussion with you was your insistence that 0.999999 be rounded down to 0 using your "one drop rule" rather than rounding up to 1 like most of us mere mortals would do.

Your question about a name for 0.5 is irrelevant to that issue, and was intended to solicit an obvious answer for you to use as a springboard for a diversion.

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Response to stone space (Reply #80)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:17 AM

82. You still don't seem to understand what I was saying, since you insist I was rounding down.

"If you believe a little bit, you are a believer, on a spectrum of belief.

There is no spectrum of non-belief. We're all equals. It's just a flat line."


Where you think you see me rounding down, I don't know, but I assure you, you are imagining it.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #82)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:20 AM

84. I have a thermometer that measures a spectrum of heat.

 

It functions pretty well as a thermometer that measures a spectrum of cold as well, if I turn it upside down when I read it.



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Response to stone space (Reply #84)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:22 AM

85. Gibberish.

To make your analogy work, 'atheist' would be absolute zero. Any amount of heat, however scant, would be a form of belief.

You genuinely don't understand the a- prefix do you?

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #85)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:32 AM

86. You have a rather bizarre notion of the relation between...

 

...syntax and semantics.

Do you consider yourself as some sort of etymological determinist or something?

I mean, there must be a name for this.

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Response to stone space (Reply #86)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:35 AM

87. I see you still have nothing to offer. Color me surprised.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #87)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:38 AM

88. What can I offer?

 

If you choose to apply your one drop rule, nobody is going stop you.

It doesn't make any sense, but nobody is in any position to offer you much help on this.

It's something you'll need to sort out for yourself.

Or not.

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Response to stone space (Reply #88)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:41 AM

89. You misuse language, and thus I need to sort myself out? ROFL

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #79)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:14 AM

81. Then make up your own word.

 

But whatever word you choose to use for 0.5 has no relevance whatsoever to the original question of why you insist on using your one drop rule to round 0.999999 down to 0 rather than rounding 0.999999 up to 1 like most of us would do.

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Response to stone space (Reply #81)

Wed Aug 6, 2014, 11:20 AM

83. Doubling down, I see. Quite brave of you.

"If you believe a little bit, you are a believer, on a spectrum of belief.

There is no spectrum of non-belief. We're all equals. It's just a flat line."

That's rounding up, not down, for 'belief'. If you are having trouble visualizing it, imagine a linear line. Mark 0 is 'atheist', for non-belief. Every single position to the right of that on the number line, is the spectrum of belief. Move up above 0 any amount, and you would be classified 'theist', whether it warrants a modifier like 'weak' or 'strong' is uninteresting.


I do not need to manufacture a word for that spectrum, beyond what it is: belief. If you feel you need to, I'm willing to consider whatever you come up with. As long as it actually pertains to BELIEF.

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Response to stone space (Reply #60)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 04:15 AM

63. Excellently put. I and most other people are with you 100% on this.

It is only a few who continue to insist that one must choose a category and stick with it.

It's not clear to me what the motivation is for taking such a definitive stand, but there is not arguing with them. They are convinced that they are right and it doesn't matter what everyone else says.

Myself, I refuse to be categorized or to accept the categorization others place upon me.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #63)

Mon Aug 4, 2014, 06:36 PM

65. That's a lie.

"It is only a few who continue to insist that one must choose a category and stick with it."

Show me where I required an individual to choose one. I did not. *I* classify others, for my own purposes. I don't force anyone to ally with one definition or another.

If such a person suggests they have a little bit of faith in a supernatural god, I will classify them as a theist. As I said earlier, that has no moral implications. It is not a judgment. It is a classification, nothing more. It is for ME to understand others. Not to pejoratively label people, or force them to label themselves.

It is only a word.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #65)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 02:48 AM

66. I guess you can classify people anyway you please, but that doesn't

mean they are that thing. In general, I'm going to let their self-definition rule.

I reject your classification system and I think it does the opposite of helping you understand others.

If' it's only a word, then I wish people would move away from the dichotomy so that they can see the complexity.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #66)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 03:04 AM

67. Another contestant with no alternate definition to offer.

We've gone over why 'agnostic' is meaningless in the theist/atheist question.

Since theist-atheist is Boolean yes/no, what intermediary word do YOU offer, since the other poster can't be bothered to do anything but dodge the question?

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #67)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 03:14 AM

68. I'm not a contestant and I have all kinds of other terms that can be included under

belief or not.

You maintain that agnostic is meaningless. I reject that and maintain that it is.

Hey, it's just a word. Boolean properties have no place when it comes to discussing things as complex as belief systems.

Maybe you should just let it go.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #68)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 10:39 AM

69. Please do not distort my statements any more.

I'm sick and tired of this tactic from you.


Agnostic is meaningless in that question.
When the question is "do you believe" without further inquiry, agnostic is meaningless.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #69)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 11:44 AM

70. Since I don't know what you are talking about, it's going to be hard for me to stop.

But feel free to not respond to me if you don't like my replies.

And on the issue of agnosticism, we will simply have to agree to not agree.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #70)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 11:53 AM

71. "You maintain that agnostic is meaningless. I reject that and maintain that it is."

Agnostic has meaning, and proper use. Rejecting it as a possible answer when asking about someone's BELIEF is not the same as considering it meaningless period end of story.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #71)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 11:59 AM

72. Ok, you don't consider it meaningless, just as something

wholly separate from the dichotomy of theist/atheist. I reject that and maintain that it is another category that is equivalent to those two and that someone can be that and be neither theist or atheist.

Belief is not a boolean principle, imo. Period. End of story.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #72)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 12:11 PM

73. You are ignoring the meaning of the root words: theist and gnostic.

At best, you are attempting to use it as slang.

belief and knowledge are not overlapping concepts.

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Response to AtheistCrusader (Reply #73)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 12:25 PM

74. No, I'm not. I am so familiar with this argument that I could

repeat it in my sleep.

I just think it's bogus and that while you may have some linguistically solid ground here, the definition no longer makes sense in terms of how the terms are used now. You can call it slang, but you can also say you just can't believe how those kids are cutting their hair these days.

You know what they say about those who can't adapt to new environments, don't you Simple evolution.

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Response to cbayer (Reply #74)

Tue Aug 5, 2014, 12:48 PM

75. "some linguistically solid ground here"

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)


Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)


Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 01:38 PM

32. And now...

Bring in the next dead horse, that beating it may begin.

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Response to xfundy (Reply #32)

Wed Jul 30, 2014, 01:43 PM

33. If atheists are so smart

how come they haven't cured cancer.

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Response to edhopper (Reply #33)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 12:41 PM

45. Take that, Atheists!

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Thu Jul 31, 2014, 11:58 AM

44. Or...

 

"So agnostics, if you've ever wondered why some agnostic atheists are so adamant that you are also atheists, this could be why. "


....it could just be because we know what the word is supposed to mean (http://etymonline.com/?term=agnostic), and also recognize that the attempted redefinition of it is very very very often primarily and transparently motivated by a burning desire to play holier than thou to both sides of the debate by pretending to have taken on the more enlightened and mature position of "I know that I don't know something and you squabbling kiddies in the theist and atheist camps all don't" when actually they're just desperately attempting to avoid being associated with any position that requires the exertion of any thought or effort to defend it. (And "I dunno" and a shoulder shrug is pretty much the perfect stance for that, but it's not a freaking philosophy)

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Response to Htom Sirveaux (Original post)

Sun Aug 3, 2014, 01:07 AM

49. I guess that I'm just an old school atheist. I believe that there is no God or Gods.

 

For half a century, I've simply called myself an atheist, and agnostics just called themselves agnostics. (Sure, there are shades of grey, but that's pretty much true of everything, and the trichotomy of theists/agnostics/atheists at least discretizes the spectrum at a finer level of granularity than a linguistic dichotomy would.)

Now, agnostics on the internet (though not in real life, as near as I can tell) are calling themselves "agnostic atheists", so I suppose that I had better start calling myself an "atheist atheist" whenever I post on the internet, just to distinguish myself from the folks who used to call themselves agnostics.




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Response to stone space (Reply #49)

Sun Aug 3, 2014, 07:28 PM

52. There is a God. And you don't want to meet him.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!

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