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Atheists; the most hated group in America?
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icarus502
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Hellen Earth wrote:
icarus502 wrote:
Hellen Earth wrote:
agnostics are grown up atheists.


People who think that agnosticism, as most people understand it, is different than atheism, as most people practice it, are mistaken and haven't thought about it much.


Instead of replying like a condescending dickarus, why don't you explain the hidden meanings of agnosticism and atheism, so that my feeble mind can comprehend?


You're the one namecalling in this post and, in the previous one, saying that atheists are childish. And I'm the dick?! I just said that you're mistaken, which you are, and probably haven't thought about it much.

Anyway, "agnostic" and "atheist" are answers to do different questions. Sort of like (small case) "democrat" and "republican." One can be one without being the other, or one can be both, or neither.

Question 1: Do you believe it's possible for people to have knowledge of, say, the existence of god?

Question 2: Do you personally believe in the existence of god?

If you answer "no" to the first question, then you are agnostic. If you answer "no" to the second question, you are an atheist. Obviously, most people who answer no to the first will also answer no to the second: most agnostics are atheists. But what if you answer "yes" to the first question — you believe that it is possible to determine a truth claim to the God question — but are unsatisfied with existing methods for determining such and thus do not believe in God? Then you are, depending on who you ask, either a "weak agnostic" or not agnostic at all, but still an atheist. (A "strong agnostic" is someone who not only says that the existence of God is unknown but that it is unknowable).

But one can also hold that, while the empirical existence of God is either unknown or unknowable, they believe all the same. Such people are theistic agnostics and it's a respectable belief to me, one that might simply be called pure faith. (If you "know" that God exists and so believe, it's not really "faith" to me if "faith" is precisely the belief in the unknown).

So there you have it. Agnosticism isn't somewhere between atheism and theism and it's the opposite of neither. It is, in different permutations, compatible with both atheism and theism. Though, demographically, most people who believe that the existence of God is unknown or unknowable also do not believe in God.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:27 am
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Hellen Earth
could be a girl. could be a guy.


Joined: 09 Jan 2003
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icarus502 wrote:
Hellen Earth wrote:
icarus502 wrote:
Hellen Earth wrote:
agnostics are grown up atheists.


People who think that agnosticism, as most people understand it, is different than atheism, as most people practice it, are mistaken and haven't thought about it much.


Instead of replying like a condescending dickarus, why don't you explain the hidden meanings of agnosticism and atheism, so that my feeble mind can comprehend?


You're the one namecalling in this post and, in the previous one, saying that atheists are childish. And I'm the dick?! I just said that you're mistaken, which you are, and probably haven't thought about it much.

Anyway, "agnostic" and "atheist" are answers to do different questions. Sort of like (small case) "democrat" and "republican." One can be one without being the other, or one can be both, or neither.

Question 1: Do you believe it's possible for people to have knowledge of, say, the existence of god?

Question 2: Do you personally believe in the existence of god?

If you answer "no" to the first question, then you are agnostic. If you answer "no" to the second question, you are an atheist. Obviously, most people who answer no to the first will also answer no to the second: most agnostics are atheists. But what if you answer "yes" to the first question — you believe that it is possible to determine a truth claim to the God question — but are unsatisfied with existing methods for determining such and thus do not believe in God? Then you are, depending on who you ask, either a "weak agnostic" or not agnostic at all, but still an atheist. (A "strong agnostic" is someone who not only says that the existence of God is unknown but that it is unknowable).

But one can also hold that, while the empirical existence of God is either unknown or unknowable, they believe all the same. Such people are theistic agnostics and it's a respectable belief to me, one that might simply be called pure faith. (If you "know" that God exists and so believe, it's not really "faith" to me if "faith" is precisely the belief in the unknown).

So there you have it. Agnosticism isn't somewhere between atheism and theism and it's the opposite of neither. It is, in different permutations, compatible with both atheism and theism. Though, demographically, most people who believe that the existence of God is unknown or unknowable also do not believe in God.


Alright, that also helps me understand this better, thanks for taking the time to explain.

I did not realized how nuanced these concepts are!
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:38 am
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futuristxen



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I'm slightly suspicious now that neither of you really understand what the other is saying, or has said. But I suppose we'll see.

Edit:
Too slow with the post!
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:38 am
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icarus502
kung-pwn master


Joined: 01 Jul 2002
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Hellen Earth wrote:


Alright, that also helps me understand this better, thanks for taking the time to explain.

I did not realized how nuanced these concepts are!


On the real, for real, but wait it gets realer.

It goes much deeper than this. I don't, though. I understand the basic outlines but at some point we'd have to bring in our resident philosophy professor.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:45 am
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redball



Joined: 12 May 2006
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Do we have one of those?
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:46 am
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Oh Daesu



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kese wrote:
Disharmony wrote:
Oh Daesu wrote:
Agnostics are atheists who are afraid to admit it.
Nope.

Being agnostic, to
me, means not having enough information to prove that there arent unexplainable forces in the universe.


An atheist can agree whole heartedly with this. Atheists can be fallibilists too. An atheist need not claim to know there is no god, but only that they don't believe there is a god. Agnostics who don't know if there is a god or not, clearly don't believe there is (in most cases) they haven't made a claim either way. No belief in god = atheism.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:47 am
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icarus502
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redball wrote:
Do we have one of those?


I'm referring to sequence.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 7:49 am
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jstile



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There's a definite difference between the 'academic' definitions and the more common usage that was initially shown here. The thing with icarus' definition is that it means that only the most zealous of atheists come out as being atheists.
For example, I would consider myself an atheist as I have no belief in God. But, I don't think that there'll ever be a way of proving his existence, or lack thereof. In 'The God Delusion', even Dawkins, the douchiest of all atheists, says that he would put himself on the level of 6 out of 7 in terms of atheism: being very convinced of the absence of a God, but not believing that it can be proved absolutely.
So, if myself and Dawkins are wrong in our self-definitions, then who are the 'real' atheists? I mean, having absolute belief in no God is, to me, near enough compatible with having absolute belief in a God. It takes a leap of faith that sits outside the realm of logic.
That's why I think it's best to leave the philosophical definitions to philosophisers. They can argue about the ingrained semantics. If someone says to me "I'm an agnostic", then I take it to mean "I don't really believe in a faith, but that's not to say any are necessarily wrong." If someone claims to be an atheist, then they don't have personal belief, but they would likely admit that the existence of God is unknowable.

*edit: Or just ignore what I wrote and re-read Oh Daesu's post.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:01 am
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icarus502
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jstile wrote:
There's a definite difference between the 'academic' definitions and the more common usage that was initially shown here. The thing with icarus' definition is that it means that only the most zealous of atheists come out as being atheists.


What? Can you follow out how you came to this from what I wrote? I don't think I've defined anyone out of atheism, much less that db, Dawkins.

I believe that anyone who doesn't believe in the concept of God, for any reason — anyone who answers the yes-or-no question "Do you believe in God" negatively — is an atheist.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:05 am
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redball



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The point isn't that you and Dawkins aren't atheists, it is that you are both, to some extent, also agnostic. It's also the point that most of the people who are described as agnostics are also atheists. It's an odd scenario where you divorce two terms to find out that they tend to describe the same group of people, and that it's a slightly bigger group because of the commingling.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:06 am
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jstile



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icarus502 wrote:
jstile wrote:
There's a definite difference between the 'academic' definitions and the more common usage that was initially shown here. The thing with icarus' definition is that it means that only the most zealous of atheists come out as being atheists.


What? Can you follow out how you came to this from what I wrote? I don't think I've defined anyone out of atheism, much less that db, Dawkins.

I believe that anyone who doesn't believe in the concept of God, for any reason — anyone who answers the yes-or-no question "Do you believe in God" negatively — is an atheist.


Ok, I actually misread your longer post and you're right, you haven't classed anybody as being outside the bounds of atheism. Apologies, my bad.

What I was trying to get at though is still kind of relevant. Academically there is, as stated, an overlap between atheism and agnosticism. However, in common language we understand there to be a difference between someone who is agnostic and someone who is an atheist. The two terms are not necessarily mutually exclusive, but they are definitely less compatible than in the more nuanced version you present.

So, what I was trying to get at, in a very roundabout manner, was in response to your first assertion (that people who don't see the overlap between the two are wrong). I would say that, at least in common usage, there is a difference between the two terms that people feel the need to identify with. So, for example, self definition as an atheist is a 'stronger' viewpoint than that of agnosticism, and I just assume that the user of the term is aware that absolute atheism is an unlikely standard to bear.

I'm really sorry, I get the feeling I'm just typing drivel here, that has little relation to anything.

One final point to make though is... If people understood that atheism isn't some absolute denial of God in any shape or form whatsoever, and that atheism to agnosticism is just shades of grey, then perhaps there wouldn't be such a stigma against atheists.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:20 am
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redball



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I think that if you were to translate the common language atheist and agnostic into the more technically correct versions that Icarus defined you'd have this.

CL Atheist: Believes there is no god, but is a weak agnostic.

CL Agnostic: Is a weak atheist that does not believe in god as conceptualized in major religions, is strongly agnostic.

If I remember correctly about Dawkins's scale it's probably the difference between a 4-5 and a 6-7. I think that Icarus's take on this really helps clarify the atheist and agnostic beliefs, though. It's fine for people to use the words as they do in casual conversation, but it's important to have more nuanced definitions for in-depth conversations.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 8:43 am
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futuristxen



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why not define agnostic as a weak theist then? And a theist as a weak atheist.

I completely disagree with putting these words on a spectrum. It frames the argument in a very adversarial way. And I think loses a lot of the nuance of an agnostic position, which I see as existing outside of either term. Theist believes in a god or gods, athiest does not believe in a god, and an agnostic doesn't believe or disbelieve in a god.

I mean yes they are all mammals, but a cat is hardly a dog. And even though they are all in the group of relation to thoughts about god, they do not exist in a hierarchy like you're trying to propose. Hierarchies are largely imagnitive and require an imposition of a line of thought, usually by force, not per se because it makes sense.

The notion that you have to believe or disbelieve in a god or frame yourself in relation to that is I think a mainly pro-theist/atheist position. And skews the arguement into your bias. Which is fine. But there you go.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:30 am
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jstile



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It's not hierarchical because no-one is saying that one thing is better than the other, or that it has more worth or what have you. It is a spectrum of belief. You said earlier that your tendency towards, or away form, theism changes depending on your influence during the day. I would say that pretty much shows a spectrum.

You could look at a church, take in the atmosphere and say 'wow, that was a religious experience'. That might nudge you towards the religious end of the spectrum. You could be a religious person who loses their faith having seen one too many atrocities in Sudan. That would push you more towards an atheist end of the spectrum. On the other hand, I doubt that a dog would eat some fish and say 'fuck me, a feel a bit like a cat today'.

I do get what you're saying about self definition, and it is intrinsically problematic. But at least a spectrum gives a range of responses, rather than mutually exclusive determinism.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:50 am
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redball



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Your definitions for common language are fine, Futuristxen. Icarus has simplified a more technically correct definition. I tried to bridge the gap. I'm sorry you don't like it because it doesn't precisely fit how you'd like to view atheists and agnostics.
Post Mon Sep 21, 2009 9:52 am
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