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Old 01-15-2013, 11:50   #1
hooligan74
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Atheism, Theism and Agnosticism

It seems to me that there is a fairly pervasive misunderstanding of these terms within our society. Here they are as I understand them to be:

Theism: A belief in a god or gods.

Atheism: A lack of belief in a god or gods.

Agnosticism: A lack of certain knowledge regarding the existence of a god or gods - or, in some cases, the belief that knowledge of the existence of a god or gods is unattainable.

If the above definitions are accurate, then one cannot simply describe themselves at "agnostic", they are either agnostic theists or agnostic atheists.

What say you?
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:08   #2
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First, anyone that hasn't seen it should look at
Why is it so hard to admit Atheism is a Religion?
http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1282322

2300 posts and never agreed upon.



Religious Issues





CD, someone that has never heard of any god and never heard of any religion, are they...
theist?
atheist?
gnostic?
agnostic?

I would very much apreciate a yes or no for each of the four.
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Old 01-15-2013, 13:23   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syclone538 View Post
First, anyone that hasn't seen it should look at
Why is it so hard to admit Atheism is a Religion?
http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1282322

2300 posts and never agreed upon...

Ah, thanks! I didn't know there was a genesis (sorry for the religious pun) for this debate - I picked up on it from some of CavDoc's posts in the political forum.

So, it would appear that CD has cemented the fact that he is agnostic, but seems reluctant to answer whether he is an agnostic atheist or agnostic theist.

He further appears to have the mistaken notion that atheism requires an absolute belief of the lack of gods, versus a lack of belief that gods exist. I'll admit it is a nuanced difference, but an important one, IMO.
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Old 01-15-2013, 19:36   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hooligan74 View Post
Ah, thanks! I didn't know there was a genesis (sorry for the religious pun) for this debate - I picked up on it from some of CavDoc's posts in the political forum.

So, it would appear that CD has cemented the fact that he is agnostic, but seems reluctant to answer whether he is an agnostic atheist or agnostic theist.

He further appears to have the mistaken notion that atheism requires an absolute belief of the lack of gods, versus a lack of belief that gods exist. I'll admit it is a nuanced difference, but an important one, IMO.
The difference is that it is reasonably possible for a deity to have existed to me. I consider myself a middle of the road agnostic. I do believe that many people simply lack belief in a deity. But many truly believe that there is no deity. Talk with them long enough, and it becomes evident.

Eh? It's just my opinion. One that I am very comfortable with, much to the chagrin of many around here.

That's OK though. The one thing that we can all know, it is what it is. Very true. The interesting part is deciding what you believe it is.

Have a good one.
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Old 01-16-2013, 09:05   #5
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Originally Posted by Cavalry Doc View Post
The difference is that it is reasonably possible for a deity to have existed to me. I consider myself a middle of the road agnostic. I do believe that many people simply lack belief in a deity. But many truly believe that there is no deity. Talk with them long enough, and it becomes evident.

Eh? It's just my opinion. One that I am very comfortable with, much to the chagrin of many around here.

That's OK though. The one thing that we can all know, it is what it is. Very true. The interesting part is deciding what you believe it is.

Have a good one.
Thanks for taking the time to reply, Doc! I find your posts in this thread to be reasonable and thoughtful.

The primary area where we disagree seem to be that you feel atheism is a belief there is no god/gods whereas I see it as a simple lack of belief. A narrow difference, to be sure, but I believe it's an important one.

So, you think it is reasonable for a god/gods to exist/have existed. I agree. That's makes us both agnostic. However, up to this point in my education and life experience I see no evidence to indicate that it is *likely* that god/gods exist/have existed. Thus, I lack a belief in god/gods, making me an agnostic atheist.

Atheism isn't a belief, it's a lack of a belief. You can't answer "I don't know" to a question on whether you believe something, unless you're stating that you are incapable of discerning your own thoughts on the subject.

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Old 01-15-2013, 13:59   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syclone538 View Post
Religious Issues
In the hopes that some useful discussion can actually come out of this thread (unlikely), I do have a question/problem with the graph. I like the idea overall, but there is a coordinate on this chart that doesn't make sense. Imagine an individual that is 100% on the y-axis (completely gnostic), but also located at exactly zero on the x-axis (midway between theist and atheist). What would that person be 100% certain of exactly?
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Old 01-15-2013, 16:08   #7
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Originally Posted by Geko45 View Post
In the hopes that some useful discussion can actually come out of this thread (unlikely), I do have a question/problem with the graph. I like the idea overall, but there is a coordinate on this chart that doesn't make sense. Imagine an individual that is 100% on the y-axis (completely gnostic), but also located at exactly zero on the x-axis (midway between theist and atheist). What would that person be 100% certain of exactly?

On this topic, however, you have just illustrated how being gnostic or agnostic doesn't paint the whole picture (I assume that's what you were saying in the above post).

You have to be gnostic/agnostic about *something*. You can't simply say "I'm agnostic" as that means nothing without further context.

I'm looking at you Cavalry Doc....

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Old 01-15-2013, 19:31   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geko45 View Post
In the hopes that some useful discussion can actually come out of this thread (unlikely), I do have a question/problem with the graph. I like the idea overall, but there is a coordinate on this chart that doesn't make sense. Imagine an individual that is 100% on the y-axis (completely gnostic), but also located at exactly zero on the x-axis (midway between theist and atheist). What would that person be 100% certain of exactly?
Very good. You've stumbled on the problem I have with the perpendicular relationship between belief and knowledge.

At best, it is a very slightly oblique relationship, approaching a parallel relationship.

Religious Issues


More accurately, the fact is that none of us know, but we all have belief.
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Old 01-22-2013, 02:00   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Geko45 View Post
In the hopes that some useful discussion can actually come out of this thread (unlikely), I do have a question/problem with the graph. I like the idea overall, but there is a coordinate on this chart that doesn't make sense. Imagine an individual that is 100% on the y-axis (completely gnostic), but also located at exactly zero on the x-axis (midway between theist and atheist). What would that person be 100% certain of exactly?
I don't see it as a Cartesian plane with coordinates. It's two independent true/false variables with a square in the chart for every possible combination of the two values. Viewed that way there is no x or y axis, there are no axes at all - what you are calling axes are just lines separating the boxes.

And that makes perfect sense, imho, as either you hold the position that there can be 100% certainty, or you don't - and you either believe, or you don't. It doesn't really make sense to say that someone '0.25 believes in God' or that someone holds the position that there can be 0.75% certainty but no more. (Someone might make such a claim, but how do you really quantify that in a way that actually makes sense? And really, if they claim there can be 0.75% certainty, but no more, they do *not* hold the position that there can be 100% certainty)
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Old 01-15-2013, 18:57   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Syclone538 View Post
First, anyone that hasn't seen it should look at
Why is it so hard to admit Atheism is a Religion?
http://glocktalk.com/forums/showthread.php?t=1282322

2300 posts and never agreed upon.



Religious Issues




CD, someone that has never heard of any god and never heard of any religion, are they...
theist?
atheist?
gnostic?
agnostic?

I would very much apreciate a yes or no for each of the four.
Honestly, someone that had no clue that a question had ever been asked or heard any postulation on the subject would be simply ignorant of the question.

My answer would be no to all four, as there is not enough information to answer the question yet. If you find such a person, don't tell him anything, and then let me ask him if he believes a god exists or not. Then I can answer more accurately.

It would be like asking a person from the 1800's whether or not Zithromax is good to use for a cold or not.

You'd have to tell them about antibiotics, viruses, and how antibiotics can cure bacterial illnesses, but are not too effective at killing viruses. Of course, it's much more complicated than that, but that's another week long class.


I would label that person as simply ignorant, not in a bad way either. In order to have an opinion, one should at least consider the question first. If the person spontaneously asked themselves the question and came up with an answer they believed, we'd have to know the question they framed to themselves and the answer they arrived at to know for sure.
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Old 01-15-2013, 23:32   #11
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Originally Posted by Cavalry Doc View Post
Honestly, someone that had no clue that a question had ever been asked or heard any postulation on the subject would be simply ignorant of the question.

My answer would be no to all four, as there is not enough information to answer the question yet. If you find such a person, don't tell him anything, and then let me ask him if he believes a god exists or not. Then I can answer more accurately.

It would be like asking a person from the 1800's whether or not Zithromax is good to use for a cold or not.

You'd have to tell them about antibiotics, viruses, and how antibiotics can cure bacterial illnesses, but are not too effective at killing viruses. Of course, it's much more complicated than that, but that's another week long class.


I would label that person as simply ignorant, not in a bad way either. In order to have an opinion, one should at least consider the question first. If the person spontaneously asked themselves the question and came up with an answer they believed, we'd have to know the question they framed to themselves and the answer they arrived at to know for sure.
I disagree, but appreciate the in depth response.

I know you've already read it, but for everyone else I figure I'll put my thoughts on the hypothetical person whose never heard of a god or religion here.

BTW, can you imagine trying to explain a god to an adult who has never heard of one? They would think you are nuts.


Quote:
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...
You've said that you've never met anyone that actually knows. So everyone you've ever met is ignorant on the existence of a god. Everyone you've ever met is agnostic because they are ignorant on the existence of a god.

Someone that has never heard of any god or religion is agnostic because they don't know and atheist because they don't believe.

Just like I am agnostic because I don't know and atheist because I don't believe.
...
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Old 01-16-2013, 05:44   #12
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Quote:
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I disagree, but appreciate the in depth response.

I know you've already read it, but for everyone else I figure I'll put my thoughts on the hypothetical person whose never heard of a god or religion here.

BTW, can you imagine trying to explain a god to an adult who has never heard of one? They would think you are nuts.
I'm not sure it's possible for some one to not question how they came to be. Humans are very inquisitive by nature. And I wouldn't assume how that hypothetical person would respond, humans are rather unpredictable too.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:12   #13
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Guess that makes me an Agnostic Atheist.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:29   #14
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I don't believe in Athiests
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Old 01-15-2013, 13:02   #15
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I don't believe in Athiests

I have often said the same about theists.

Based on logic and observing alleged theists, I don't believe anybody really believes in god/gods. Among other reasons - First, they seem to have an unsually hard time following simple moral rules that an atheist like me has no problem with - making me very skeptical of how strong their belief in the threat/reward of religion is. Second, they are very, almost hysterically, afraid of letting in any knowledge that could shake their beliefs and are very strict about avoiding contact with evidence or argument that undermines their beliefs. Even those willing to argue, in this forum, are often angry about atheist input.

It's the conduct of people who want to believe, not people who do believe.
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Old 01-15-2013, 13:29   #16
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I have often said the same about theists.

Based on logic and observing alleged theists, I don't believe anybody really believes in god/gods. Among other reasons - First, they seem to have an unsually hard time following simple moral rules that an atheist like me has no problem with - making me very skeptical of how strong their belief in the threat/reward of religion is. Second, they are very, almost hysterically, afraid of letting in any knowledge that could shake their beliefs and are very strict about avoiding contact with evidence or argument that undermines their beliefs. Even those willing to argue, in this forum, are often angry about atheist input.

It's the conduct of people who want to believe, not people who do believe.
I's jus funnin
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Old 01-15-2013, 13:05   #17
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Guess that makes me an Agnostic Atheist.

You and me both, Glock36. I lack a belief in any gods, but I don't claim to *know* that no gods exist. I don't ascribe to the belief that God/gods are not knowable, however.

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Old 01-15-2013, 19:26   #18
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Guess that makes me an Agnostic Atheist.
More accurately, your claim of a passive lack of belief would land you in Atheistic Agnostic territory, but your feelings that you must combat other belief systems sure seems to be based on more than a passive lack of belief.

I know accuracy has eluded you lately, but do try.
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:56   #19
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Nope, not gonna do it...

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Old 01-15-2013, 14:58   #20
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I can't see the graph (blocked by USAF firewall), but it sounds like they would be 100% certain that they don't know if they believe in gods or not?
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