Senate Atheism 5.0 - Is Atheism a belief?

Discussion in 'Archive: The Senate Floor' started by SuperWatto, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    even Richard Dawkins wouldn't tell you that he knows, with 100% certainty, that there is no god. that is intellectual dishonesty. but he's still (very much) an atheist, on the basis that there is no reason, no proof and no evidence whatsoever to believe in a god.
    Last edited by epic, Feb 28, 2013
  2. Asterix_of_Gaul Force Ghost

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    I would argue that a position of 100% certainty regarding anything exits science and enters religious belief--and I mean belief as opposed to faith (which does not operate on 100% certainty). I think I explained the difference beyond "italics." Are you saying that because my opinion offended you somehow? I think that's kind of rude to say and I'm trying to be very polite here--this is a senate thread so I'd expect the same courtesy, thanks.

    Though to be honest, since your response does sound a bit...aggressive with that little quip, it does remind of me personal experience with say "born-again" Christians. If you question their beliefs, they become quite...intense sometimes.

    As I said, there are Atheists who believe there is no God and they are different from Atheists who do not know a definitive answer, but feel it is improbable. I have met both, and perhaps it would be in the best interest of various atheists to differentiate between the two rather than attacking anyone who questions this reality.

    Here is Carl Sagan describing an Atheist who believes there is no God (100%):

    An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid.
    Last edited by Asterix_of_Gaul, Feb 28, 2013
  3. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    likewise, just because an atheist chooses against believing in god due to a lack of evidence, doesn't mean that that is a religious belief - certainly at least not in the usual manner in which the term "religious belief" is commonly used.
  4. harpua Chosen One

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    I think it can go either way. I'd say a person who states that he/she doesn't believe there is a god and goes about his/her business, leaving it at that, is showing an absence of a belief. A person who fully engages and argues passionately that there is no god--really gets into it and argues for a substantial period of time, giving examples and citing sources-- is displaying a firm belief.
    Last edited by harpuah, Feb 28, 2013
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  5. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    i agree with this. hence no rational atheist would ever claim, with 100% certainly, that there is no god. but that is not what you said in your original post ("that a true atheist believes there is no god"), which i have taken to imply a belief with 100% certainty, as compared to an agnostic atheist; i think that's a mischaracterisation of an atheist.
    Last edited by epic, Feb 28, 2013
  6. Asterix_of_Gaul Force Ghost

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    No I didn't. I said: See, I've always taken that as an agnostic Atheist rather than a pure atheist. My take: An agnostic Atheist doesn't believe in God, doesn't know if God exists, but assumes such a deity probably does not. An atheist believes there is no God.

    I did not claim anything about a "true" Atheist. If you're caught up on "pure," it does not equal "true" and I didn't mean it that way. As I've said several times, there are at least two kinds of "atheist"--the one who believes with 100% certainty that there is no God, and the one who remains more...humble, as science tends to require. The question I am still posing is--how do people differentiate between the two? Do both groups go by "Atheist?"
    Last edited by Asterix_of_Gaul, Feb 28, 2013
  7. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    this is where the term "new atheism" has come from -- on the basis of the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, etc, actively advocating against religion.

    i think the problem, in part, is the usage of the word "belief" and the fact in religious discourse it means something quite distinct to the common parlance; i think it's dishonest to start conflating the two, and this is what I think OZK has done.
  8. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    replace "true" with "pure" then and my point remains.

    again, i would suggest the number of atheists who believe, with 100% certainty, that there is no god, is small, and indeed, probably don't quite understand what they're saying. certainly the likes of Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris etc. would not belong in that group, and if we're talking about a standard definition of what an atheist is, then that's a decent start (most here would probably think they're too "militent" as it is).
  9. harpua Chosen One

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    For a long time, when I was a lot younger, I was a pretty firm atheist. Then as I got older, I kind of evolved into an agnostic. Now, I fall into the category of "don't ****ing care." I have a very live and let live attitude about the whole thing. I still fall into the category of agnostic, but I don't define myself by that. I can listen to people talk about their religions all day long without becoming agitated, in most cases--that falls by the wayside when the finger pointing and "you shoulds" begin, though... then I tune out. In most cases, I think of religious belief in the same way I think about fashion sense--I couldn't give a **** if the person I'm hanging out with is wearing clown shoes or naked, as long as they don't tell me that my life is incomplete until I wear clown shoes or go naked. You know?
    Last edited by harpuah, Feb 28, 2013
  10. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    Carl Sagan is wrong.
  11. Asterix_of_Gaul Force Ghost

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    Right, as I said I didn't intend to mean "pure" as how you're interpreting it. So with that behind, we're not operating off of numbers here regarding these Atheists who believe 100%--I don't know if they represent a minority of Atheists or how big/small that group is with any authority. I merely know that I have encountered many in my own personal experience, and by many I should say the majority of Atheists I have met. Regardless of how big or small that group is, it is a reality large enough that even Carl Sagan commented on it with some...fire, to say the least. A person like that commenting on it matters, regardless of whether or not you agree with him imo.

    This "100%" group perhaps gives other Atheists a bad name as many "Creationist" Christians as depicted in popular media give a bad name to Christianity (like Christians worshiping card-board cut-outs of Bush).
    Last edited by Asterix_of_Gaul, Feb 28, 2013
  12. tom Chosen One

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    i don't know 100% that god doesn't exist. just like i don't know 100% that santa clause, flying unicorns, godzilla, and the tooth fairy don't exist. all these notions are equally ridiculous. calling atheism a belief is silly. having to have this conversation all the time is annoying.
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  13. Asterix_of_Gaul Force Ghost

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    I agree, which is why I'm saying maybe those "100%" "silly" believing Atheists should be identified as something separate from the typical Atheist? No?

    Or people can just ignore them and pretend they don't exist in significant numbers--that the fault of this "believing atheist" impression lies solely with individuals who claim they have encountered it?
    Last edited by Asterix_of_Gaul, Feb 28, 2013
  14. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Asterix, yeah, that should have been "shouldn't" but was rushing that post before a meeting. And I would say there absolutely is a clear demarcation that can be made between an agnostic atheist and a gnostic atheist. They both share the same stance of lacking a belief in a god, but one thinks that standpoint can be proven and the other doesn't. Part of why I find that distinction to be concerning is because it is an extremely common tactic to marginalize atheism (and this happens in plenty of other situations as well) by focusing on the most extreme form, and then throwing out the less extreme forms (and in this case, more common) because it doesn't fit the profile people are aiming for. It's sort of a "no true Scotsman" although not in the context that fallacy is normally used. And it's an almost predictable point in discussions on atheism when it's given free reign, is trying to treat it as agnostic atheists aren't really atheists, even though they're not just atheists, but they seem to be a majority (I believe I have seen polls getting at this, but it's been a long while)


    I'd think there's a meaningful distinction to be made, however, in arguing against a particular god or set of gods, versus arguing against the concept of any gods. There is, a world of difference, imo, between someone that's arguing that a particular god, with a particular set of ascribed properties, does or does not exist, versus the idea that no form of higher power could possibly exist. And that challenging a complex belief system that carries large scale repercussions while being founded on belief does not, directly, mean that is a firm belief to the contrary, but is more a point about evidence. Of a similar sort, I do not have the firm belief that aliens could have never visited the earth, but the complex structure of beliefs associated with the ancient alien theory is something that I will fully take to task because it's propagating a series of views that are thoroughly unsubstantiated.
  15. zigazigahh Jedi Master

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    I define it as atheism is the rejection of the belief that a God exists. They're not necessarily saying that no God exists, they're just saying that they don't believe in one.

    There are some atheists who hold some specific beliefs - for example agnostic atheists who don't believe in a God (this part isn't a belief) and believe that it's impossible to know whether or not a God exists (this part is a belief). But while trying to say that all atheists is the same isn't exactly parallel to saying that all theists are the same, it's also not accurate, either - within atheism there can be a lot of variation.
  16. Axys Jedi Master

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    I think Atheism is a choice rather than a belief. The definition of an Atheist is, "A disbelief in the existence of a deity"

    In other words, not believing in a "higher power".
  17. epic Ex Mod / RSA

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    i agree with all of that. my "atheism" is never really apparent on a day to day basis unless i come across some hardcore theist trying to shove their beliefs down my throat, when i see the ills of religion manifest themselves in the world (as i said in that other thread, be it condoms in Africa, child abuse in the Catholic Chruch, the teaching of Creationism in schools, or seeing churches not pay tax etc) or, of course, when i click on an atheism thread in the jcc. ;-)

    in a way i dislike this notion of people wearing atheist shoes and t shirts; i kinda dislike the term "atheist" itself because, as Rogue-Ten says (and i agree with him) it only "means" something by way of referencing the thing that we think ill of. i'm more inclined to (largely) just ignore religion, leave it to the individuals who want it, and let it (as history would suggest) slowly become abselete. in a way by battling against something you only give it more power, like the kid in the playground who retaliates to the bully.

    on the other hand, given there are these religious issues in the world today (as I've described above), perhaps the new atheism is the right way to go... for now.
  18. Axys Jedi Master

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    In my opinoin, that's being agnostic rather than being atheist.

    I agree with the part about there being variations to atheism, but at the same time, if you have some sort of belief of something people define as "real". Then Athiesm wouldn't apply.
  19. zigazigahh Jedi Master

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    Which part do you consider agnostic?
  20. Asterix_of_Gaul Force Ghost

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    @Lowbacca_1977

    I don't really mean to offer some definition of a "true" Atheist. I merely offered my opinion and I did not mean "pure" as "true." I'm sorry if my wording offended anyone. With that said, I largely agree with you and do not intend to marginalize atheism. I'm merely trying to understand it, from a personal point of view. And with regard to my personal experience with it, which I'm sure is shared with others, I'm just seeking differentiation between the two kinds of atheists I have encountered/know of. I understand that the common claim about "believing Atheists" must be annoying to other Atheists. Understand, this is why I was trying to relate according to my own Christian faith--that there are claims about Christians which annoy me in a similar way, but I understand that such claims are often perpetuated by various "Christians" who I disagree with (for arguably rational reasons). I think there is always a danger of falling into arrogance there, but for the sake of discussion I'm just trying to lay out bold colors.

    This debate/question about "believing Atheists" as annoying as it may be to some, exists because there ARE such Atheists. However, if everyone is going by the name "Atheist" it should be understandable (at least) why this remains a common problem or cause of others' misunderstandings regarding Atheism.

    So to the question: "Is Atheism a Belief?" I doubt any Atheist would say "yes," but I would argue there are at least some who absolutely fall into the category "believing Atheist." However, it's confusing when everyone is operating under one title rather than, perhaps agnostic atheist vs. atheist :p (neither of which is necessarily a "true" Atheist--whatever that means)
    Last edited by Asterix_of_Gaul, Feb 28, 2013
  21. Axys Jedi Master

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    I'm sorry, that was the wrong word to use LOL... I get those backwards a lot.

    As being agnostic means not knowing of a higher power. I'm actually not sure of a word... Diesm maybe?

    (Was meaning this part of your post There are some atheists who hold some specific beliefs - for example agnostic atheists who don't believe in a God (this part isn't a belief) and believe that it's impossible to know whether or not a God exists (this part is a belief).)
    Last edited by Axys, Feb 28, 2013
  22. Asterix_of_Gaul Force Ghost

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    Perhaps what I'm thinking of is Dogmatic Atheist vs. Atheist

    Instead of Agnostic Atheist vs. "pure" Atheist

    Dawkins certainly would be more of a dogmatic Atheist.
    Last edited by Asterix_of_Gaul, Feb 28, 2013
  23. Lowbacca_1977 Force Ghost

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    Asterix, not trying to say you're marginializing in particular, just saying why I consider it to be a very important distinction and not just simple semantics. And I think it's why agnostic vs gnostic atheism is a useful distinction, as agnostic atheism I would say is not a belief and represents a default, and where you're giving both terms an adjective to distinguish between agnostic atheism, which I'd say is simple nonbelief, vs gnostic atheism which is a belief (although even Dawkins has said that he can't be certain that there isn't a god).

    And again, there are certainly religious beliefs that are atheistic, I mentioned on an earlier page that Scientology, Raelism, Buddhism, and some interpretations of Hinduism (although how that one works is always a bit more confusing to me) are all atheistic religious views, as they don't have gods, but they're still very much religious.

    I think with Dawkins and the like, the core is not about having a strong belief there can't be any gods, but more being compelled to argue against people who promote the idea of specific gods with the claim that there is knowledge/evidence/reason to do so, and combating the idea of those specific gods. If I met someone who was talking about how Zeus is the cause of lightning, I'd certainly have that argument because while I'm not sure there can't be any gods or higher powers, I feel far more confident that lightning is not Zeus throwing stuff down at us. In that case, it's criticising a statement that has made claims that are testable in a way that more general 'there is a higher power, of which we know nothing' sorts of statements don't.
    Last edited by Lowbacca_1977, Feb 28, 2013
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  24. zigazigahh Jedi Master

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    See, I tend to break that statement up in two parts. An agnostic atheist:
    1) Believes that it's impossible to know whether or not a God exists (this is the agnostic part, and is a belief)
    2) Rejects a belief in God (this is the atheist part, and is not a belief)

    A gnostic atheist would (and I'm not 100% 'gnostic atheist' is the right term, but it's the flip side of the agnostic atheist term)
    1) Believes that God does not exist (this is the gnostic part, and is a belief)
    2) Rejects a belief in God (this is the atheist part, and is not a belief)

    So the atheism part for both is just the rejection of a belief in God - which isn't a belief. The belief falls in the agnostic/gnostic part.
  25. Lord Vivec Chosen One

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    @Asterix_of_Gaul, i'd like you to name some of these so-called '100% atheists' that you are talking about. I think it'd be a waste of everyone's time to argue about a mythical figure that might not even be here.