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  1. #21
    darkened dreams labyrinthine's Avatar
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    There does seem to be a lot of confusion about the distinction between nothing having absolute certainty and everything being equally uncertain. This leads to a misunderstanding of the role of reasoned hypothesis vs. blind faith. It isn't about always having the correct conclusions, but to have a process in place that allows for continual, systematic revision of knowledge. I recently came across this quote by Carl Sagan that should provide clarity for people who don't see these distinctions.

    "Science is more than a body of knowledge. It is a way of thinking; a way of skeptically interrogating the universe with a fine understanding of human fallibility. If we are not able to ask skeptical questions, to interrogate those who tell us that something is true, to be skeptical of those in authority, then, we are up for grabs for the next charlatan (political or religious) who comes rambling along.”
    Step into my metaphysical room of mirrors.
    Fear of reality creates myopic morality
    So I guess it means there is trouble until the robins come
    (from Blue Velvet)

    I want to be just like my mother, even if she is bat-shit crazy.

  2. #22
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sprinkles View Post
    Why? It's very meaningful and is a big difference in ontological tenability.

    Or put differently, one is an ontological conclusion and the other isn't. One says "I am convinced (to some/any degree) that God does not exist." and the other says "I actually decline to make a judgement, because I don't/can't know enough."

    That's a very big difference, especially in a world where people want you to have a stake in something. Many people want conclusive decisions such that even if you don't make one, they'll frame you as having made one anyway. Why, I don't know, but they do.
    The problem is that those aren't mutually exclusive ideas. I am convinced to some degree that god does not exist, but like any reasonable person, I acknowledge that we do not know enough to say that for sure, and likely never will. But I'm still maybe 98% convinced that god doesn't exist, based on the only knowledge that we have available. Which category does that fit in? Is it really meaningful which category it is? I mean, atheist by definition is not believing in god. If you really think there's even odds of there being a god and refuse to speculate at all, we're into agnostic territory, not atheism.
    -end of thread-

  3. #23
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    The problem is that those aren't mutually exclusive ideas. I am convinced to some degree that god does not exist, but like any reasonable person, I acknowledge that we do not know enough to say that for sure, and likely never will. But I'm still maybe 98% convinced that god doesn't exist, based on the only knowledge that we have available. Which category does that fit in? Is it really meaningful which category it is? I mean, atheist by definition is not believing in god. If you really think there's even odds of there being a god and refuse to speculate at all, we're into agnostic territory, not atheism.
    I already did say it's more like strong agnosticism, actually.

    If you don't have a conclusion, you also don't have a belief.

    If you are convinced to some degree that God does not exist, then it falls into the other category, even if it's only a degree of certainty and you'd be willing to change your mind in the face of evidence, it's still at the present time a form of belief.

    Also I'd say there's a further difference: agnosticism is more about what is or can be known. It may seem counterintuitive but one can be an agnostic and an atheist, or agnostic and a theist.

  4. #24
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    @Randomnity

    To make it more clear we can make a table of it:

    We can have agnostic and theist: One who says that God is unknown or cannot be known, yet believes in God anyway.

    We can have agnostic and atheist: One who says that God is unknown or cannot be known, and also does not believe.

    We can have gnostic and theist: One who says that God is known or can be known, and therefore believes (It would be hard to say "I know something but I don't believe it")

    We can have gnostic and atheist: One who says that lack of God is known or can be known, and therefore believes that God does not exist (It would be hard to say "I know something but I don't believe it")

  5. #25
    insert random title here Randomnity's Avatar
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    ah, now we're just getting into hairsplitting definitions, that's my exit cue.

    edit: didn't see that post ^. Yeah that's the convention, my whole point is (still) that it's a meaningless distinction because anyone with any sense knows that it's impossible to prove that god exists or not not exist, unless he chooses to reveal himself to us. Calling yourself agnostic atheist is something I did for a while but it's not really a useful distinction, so I stopped. It's like calling yourself an agnostic believer in gravity just because you follow the scientific method and don't think it can be proven with 100% certainty.

    anyway, enough hair-splitting for me.
    -end of thread-

  6. #26
    Mojibake sprinkles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Randomnity View Post
    ah, now we're just getting into hairsplitting definitions, that's my exit cue.

    edit: didn't see that post ^. Yeah that's the convention, my whole point is (still) that it's a meaningless distinction because anyone with any sense knows that it's impossible to prove that god exists or not not exist, unless he chooses to reveal himself to us. Calling yourself agnostic atheist is something I did for a while but it's not really a useful distinction, so I stopped. It's like calling yourself an agnostic believer in gravity just because you follow the scientific method and don't think it can be proven with 100% certainty.

    anyway, enough hair-splitting for me.
    It's useful in the context of getting people to understand what you actually mean. If you're telling someone what you think, it would make sense to get it across accurately so that they actually understand you and don't go off on some misinterpretation involving what they think you mean.

    So in that regard, it does matter. If you don't plan to talk about it then it really doesn't matter and there's not even a point in naming yourself anything at all when it comes to that. Why bother with a distinction if you don't even need to use it for anything?

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