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Author Topic:   Does Atheism = No beliefs?
Hyroglyphx
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Posts: 5600
From: Austin, TX
Joined: 05-03-2006
Member Rating: 1.7


Message 226 of 414 (774648)
12-20-2015 5:29 AM
Reply to: Message 223 by Tangle
12-20-2015 4:07 AM


Define God. If you can admit that attempting to do so is a lesson in futility, then the agnostic position makes a lot of sense. What do you care either way? Just because I don't necessarily believe in God doesn't necessarily mean that I disbelieve it by the same token.

"Reason obeys itself; and ignorance submits to whatever is dictated to it" -- Thomas Paine

This message is a reply to:
 Message 223 by Tangle, posted 12-20-2015 4:07 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 227 by Tangle, posted 12-20-2015 6:12 AM Hyroglyphx has not yet responded

    
Tangle
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Posts: 6240
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 227 of 414 (774649)
12-20-2015 6:12 AM
Reply to: Message 226 by Hyroglyphx
12-20-2015 5:29 AM


Hydroglyphix writes:

Define God. If you can admit that attempting to do so is a lesson in futility, then the agnostic position makes a lot of sense.

I don't need to. Whatever individuals think god is, they can either believe in it or not believe in it. If they don't believe in whatever the say god is, then they're an atheist. If atheist doesn't mean a non belief in god(s), then it means nothing.

What do you care either way?

Because this is the place we come to argue such arcane points. Also see below.

Just because I don't necessarily believe in God doesn't necessarily mean that I disbelieve it by the same token.

If it doesn't, then I have no idea what you're talking about - it's evasive gobbledegook

Does the phrase 'I don't believe in god, but I'm not an atheist' mean anything to you? It doesn't to me.

If it helps, theism, deism, atheism are about beliefs. Gnosticism is about knowledge - 'I don't know' comes from fact not belief. None of us know whether god does or does not exist, we only know what we believe about god. We're all agnostics.

But there's something else here. A reluctance to accept the word atheist as descriptive of their non-belief. That's quite interesting.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 226 by Hyroglyphx, posted 12-20-2015 5:29 AM Hyroglyphx has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 228 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-20-2015 7:30 AM Tangle has responded

  
Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16052
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 228 of 414 (774650)
12-20-2015 7:30 AM
Reply to: Message 227 by Tangle
12-20-2015 6:12 AM


I think that depends on the nature of the non-belief. I have argued elsewhere that if one's only reservation about it is the difficulty of proving a negative, then that is disbelief, and one is then an atheist and not an agnostic. But there are other forms of non-belief. If I toss a coin, catch it, and then put it in my pocket without looking at it, then I have no belief that it came down tails, but that doesn't mean I think it didn't, and I am perfectly agnostic with respect to that proposition.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 227 by Tangle, posted 12-20-2015 6:12 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 229 by Tangle, posted 12-20-2015 8:44 AM Dr Adequate has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 6240
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 229 of 414 (774652)
12-20-2015 8:44 AM
Reply to: Message 228 by Dr Adequate
12-20-2015 7:30 AM


Dr A writes:

But there are other forms of non-belief. If I toss a coin, catch it, and then put it in my pocket without looking at it, then I have no belief that it came down tails, but that doesn't mean I think it didn't, and I am perfectly agnostic with respect to that proposition.

Analagies are always problematic. The idea of a belief in the outcome of a coin toss being equivalent to belief in a god is a bit (lot) of a stretch. However, I agree that everyone is agnostic about the outcome of a coin toss in those circumstances - in the sense that they don't know and can't know.

But I'm saying that it's actually the same with the god problem. We don't know and can't know whether god exists or not. We can only believe that he/it does or doesn't. Belief is positive, there isn't a middle position - like pregnancy. 'I'm not sure whether I believe in god or not' doesn't make sense, if you're not sure, then you don't believe.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 228 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-20-2015 7:30 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 230 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-20-2015 9:38 AM Tangle has responded
 Message 231 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-20-2015 10:35 AM Tangle has responded

  
New Cat's Eye
Inactive Member


Message 230 of 414 (774653)
12-20-2015 9:38 AM
Reply to: Message 229 by Tangle
12-20-2015 8:44 AM


'I'm not sure whether I believe in god or not' doesn't make sense, if you're not sure, then you don't believe.

But I think I might!

ABE:

For the coin toss, you don't believe it is either heads or tails.

If you are an a-tails-ist, that doesn't mean that you believe it is heads.

Atheism can mean that you do take the positive belief that god does not exist.

It's not fair to the people who don't take that position to be included in that group just because they don't take the opposing position either.

Now, "atheist" can also be used to mean just not theist, in which case you are correct. But you don't get to decide how other people use words.

It is perfectly acceptable for someone to not believe in god, and not consider themself an atheist because they don't believe that god doesn't exist either.

They stay in-between and withhold judgement. We could use the word "agnostic" to describe that position.

Edited by Cat Sci, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 229 by Tangle, posted 12-20-2015 8:44 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 236 by Tangle, posted 12-20-2015 11:39 AM New Cat's Eye has not yet responded

  
Dr Adequate
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Posts: 16052
Joined: 07-20-2006
Member Rating: 3.4


Message 231 of 414 (774655)
12-20-2015 10:35 AM
Reply to: Message 229 by Tangle
12-20-2015 8:44 AM


But I'm saying that it's actually the same with the god problem. We don't know and can't know whether god exists or not. We can only believe that he/it does or doesn't. Belief is positive, there isn't a middle position - like pregnancy. 'I'm not sure whether I believe in god or not' doesn't make sense, if you're not sure, then you don't believe.

But "I'm not sure whether there is a god or not" does make sense, just like "I'm not sure whether it was tails or heads".


This message is a reply to:
 Message 229 by Tangle, posted 12-20-2015 8:44 AM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 235 by Tangle, posted 12-20-2015 11:33 AM Dr Adequate has responded

  
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 1770
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 232 of 414 (774656)
12-20-2015 11:19 AM
Reply to: Message 219 by kbertsche
12-20-2015 12:18 AM


But how realistic is it to hold the first position without also holding the second? How common is this among atheists?

In my own case, I don't need to "believe" anything. I try to reach conclusions based on evidence or the lack of it.

I have no idea what other atheists think. My closest friends all say their conclusions are the same as mine. We all are a bit frustrated that religious people cannot seem to grasp that our lives are not belief driven.

I have begun to think that there may just be a difference in the way that believers and non-believers brains are wired.

It is as if people who take things on faith cannot imagine a thought process that does not.

I find that I often have an internal reaction when I see people make claims about the "strength of their faith." For example when George Bush said Jesus was his biggest hero or something like that during one of the debates, I thought to myself, "what a phoney."

I have the same internal reaction when I hear people make claims of prayer changing the outcome of events.


What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 219 by kbertsche, posted 12-20-2015 12:18 AM kbertsche has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 233 by Phat, posted 12-20-2015 11:25 AM Tanypteryx has responded
 Message 246 by kbertsche, posted 12-20-2015 3:07 PM Tanypteryx has responded

    
Phat
Member
Posts: 11416
From: Denver,Colorado USA
Joined: 12-30-2003
Member Rating: 1.2


Message 233 of 414 (774657)
12-20-2015 11:25 AM
Reply to: Message 232 by Tanypteryx
12-20-2015 11:19 AM


Where does current evidence lead?
Based on the evidence (or the lack thereof), what would you say is the most creative known force in the universe?

Edited by Phat, : fixed quote


Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality and no place in scientific inquiry. For science and philosophy to continue to advance in knowledge, chance must be demythologized once and for all. –RC Sproul
"A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes." –Mark Twain

This message is a reply to:
 Message 232 by Tanypteryx, posted 12-20-2015 11:19 AM Tanypteryx has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 237 by Tanypteryx, posted 12-20-2015 11:53 AM Phat has not yet responded

  
Diomedes
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Posts: 741
From: Central Florida, USA
Joined: 09-13-2013
Member Rating: 2.9


(1)
Message 234 of 414 (774658)
12-20-2015 11:25 AM
Reply to: Message 219 by kbertsche
12-20-2015 12:18 AM


For example, I can say that "I do not believe in the tooth fairy." But my belief goes further; I am also convinced that the tooth fairy does not exist. It would be nearly impossible for me "not to believe in the tooth fairy" without also "believing that the tooth fairy does not exist."

But therein lies the problem: can you claim with absolute certainty that the tooth fairy does not exist?

The issue is you have to actually prove a negative. Which, except in very rare cases, is impossible within the confines of philosophical logic and the general scientific method.

But let me extend your example further: suppose one grows up in a culture where there is no concept of a tooth fairy. A child is born, grows up and becomes an adult without having the concept of the tooth fairy ever mentioned to them. No dialog. No coins under their pillows. Nothing.

Now, does that make that individual an 'a-tooth fairy-ist' with a specific belief? Is that person's 'non-belief' in the tooth fairy equivalent to the belief held by a child reared in a culture where the concept of a tooth fairy is utilized?

And that is ultimately how one needs to look at the theism/atheism set of definitions. The only reason I have to use the term atheist is because I live in a culture that makes references and has dialog in relation to god or gods. If I was born and raised in a culture that had no concept of gods, I would still be an atheist. Yet the term would be meaningless since I would have never been exposed to the concept in the first place.

And this is why the belief/dis-belief argument does not hold water. I am not 'dis-believing' because I have a 'belief' in a 'non-belief'. I am merely responding to a claim that someone made.

Going back to your tooth fairy example: do you perform any tenets in your day to day life that correspond with you non-belief in the tooth fairy? Is there any dogma, specific rituals, ceremonies, etc that you go through as part of your non-belief in the tooth fairy? My suspicion would be no.

And that, in a nutshell, is the crux of how most atheists function. Atheism doesn't take any of my time when in comes to my 'belief in my non-belief'.

Now we can get into dialog on what some refer to as positive atheism versus negative atheism. But similar to what Tangle has said, I think this is simply overanalyzing what I consider to be a rather simple concept. I personally don't have any belief or views regarding a deity of any sort. And that lack of belief is not a 'belief' in an of itself, as per the tooth fairy analogy.

To summarize:
Bald is not a hair color
Not collecting stamps is not a hobby
Not believing in bigfoot is not a belief in non-bigfoot


This message is a reply to:
 Message 219 by kbertsche, posted 12-20-2015 12:18 AM kbertsche has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 247 by kbertsche, posted 12-20-2015 3:20 PM Diomedes has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 6240
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 235 of 414 (774659)
12-20-2015 11:33 AM
Reply to: Message 231 by Dr Adequate
12-20-2015 10:35 AM


Dr A writes:

But "I'm not sure whether there is a god or not" does make sense,

Yup. That's pretty much everyone but the delusional's view. It's usually followed by "but I do/don't believe in him/her/it." All I'm saying is that you must know if you believe in something or if you don't. Is it possible to be not sure if we believe something or not? It seems to me that you can ossilate between yes and no but as soon as you say "I don't know" then you don't.

just like "I'm not sure whether it was tails or heads".

Not really. If someone says that, we know that what they actually mean is that they don't know which it is. A belief that it's heads - or tails - doesn't make sense, at least rationally.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 231 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-20-2015 10:35 AM Dr Adequate has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 244 by Dr Adequate, posted 12-20-2015 2:01 PM Tangle has responded

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 6240
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 236 of 414 (774660)
12-20-2015 11:39 AM
Reply to: Message 230 by New Cat's Eye
12-20-2015 9:38 AM


CatSci writes:

Atheism can mean that you do take the positive belief that god does not exist.

Correct and that's my position. But that final step is a leap of 'faith'.

A person that says I don't believe in god but I accept that I don't know whether there is or there isn't a god, is still an atheist. By definition. You can't not believe in god and not be an atheist.


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 230 by New Cat's Eye, posted 12-20-2015 9:38 AM New Cat's Eye has not yet responded

  
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 1770
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 3.0


(1)
Message 237 of 414 (774662)
12-20-2015 11:53 AM
Reply to: Message 233 by Phat
12-20-2015 11:25 AM


Re: Where does current evidence lead?
Based on the evidence (or the lack thereof), what would you say is the most creative known force in the universe?

The most creative known force??

The human mind, I guess, but "most creative" implies a scale of creativeness with no explanation, and "known" assume something both you and I are aware of, "force" just makes me think of Star Wars. According to Wikipedia: in physics, a force is any interaction that, when unopposed, will change the motion of an object, so maybe pairs figure scating would be a better answer.

Oh wait, I have a better one: the incredible flight of a pair of large dragonflies in copulation. Based on the evidence, that is the most creative known force in the Universe.


What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy


This message is a reply to:
 Message 233 by Phat, posted 12-20-2015 11:25 AM Phat has not yet responded

    
ringo
Member
Posts: 15577
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 238 of 414 (774663)
12-20-2015 1:09 PM
Reply to: Message 209 by Tangle
12-19-2015 1:55 PM


Tangle writes:

Do you have an active disbelief in Father Christmas?


I have an active disbelief in your ability to make an intelligent comment.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 209 by Tangle, posted 12-19-2015 1:55 PM Tangle has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 240 by Tangle, posted 12-20-2015 1:21 PM ringo has responded

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 15577
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 239 of 414 (774664)
12-20-2015 1:11 PM
Reply to: Message 210 by AZPaul3
12-19-2015 2:43 PM


AZPaul3 writes:

That does not preclude you from also being agnostic, from the Greek agnost or agnotos - not knowing or incapable of being known.


Everybody's agnostic, from the most rabid believer to the most rabid unbeliever.
This message is a reply to:
 Message 210 by AZPaul3, posted 12-19-2015 2:43 PM AZPaul3 has acknowledged this reply

  
Tangle
Member
Posts: 6240
From: UK
Joined: 10-07-2011
Member Rating: 2.3


Message 240 of 414 (774665)
12-20-2015 1:21 PM
Reply to: Message 238 by ringo
12-20-2015 1:09 PM


ringo writes:

I have an active disbelief in your ability to make an intelligent comment.

You may well think that but would you understand if one came your way? (Smiley face because it's goodwill to all season.)


Je suis Charlie. Je suis Ahmed. Je suis Juif. Je suis Parisien.

Life, don't talk to me about life - Marvin the Paranoid Android

"Science adjusts it's views based on what's observed.
Faith is the denial of observation so that Belief can be preserved."
- Tim Minchin, in his beat poem, Storm.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 238 by ringo, posted 12-20-2015 1:09 PM ringo has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 241 by ringo, posted 12-20-2015 1:27 PM Tangle has responded

  
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