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  1. #71
    Junior Member nor's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isk Stark View Post
    No, it lacks a belief in god(s), so she's atheist according to popular definition.
    No; according to *the* definition.

    Any other definition would be describing a different position.

  2. #72
    Phase-shifted beam Coriolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Forever View Post
    God doesn't award degrees to religious scholars lol. Man does.
    True. The Gods initiate; man just officiates.
    Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth. ~ Buddha
    Likes Forever liked this post

  3. #73
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virtual ghost View Post
    Silly question. If this is indeed in the 40% range wouldn't that be too high number to allow direct surpression of this group ?
    I don't want to be rude but you have no idea how easy suppression is to achieve in the US, majority or not.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.

  4. #74
    Senior Member Justin of Flavia Neapolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nor View Post
    No; according to *the* definition.

    Any other definition would be describing a different position.
    Lack of belief in God: élleipsi pístis ston Theó
    vs.
    Lack of God: élleipsi theoú

    The Lack of Belief atheism is a relatively new "definition" introduced by Antony Flew in the 70's
    Atheists vs Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy << Last Eden

    In our understanding, the argument for this broader notion was introduced into the philosophical literature by Antony Flew in “The Presumption of Atheism” (1972). In that work, he noted that he was using an etymological argument to try to convince people *not* to follow the *standard meaning* of the term. His goal was to reframe the debate about the existence of God and to re-brand “atheism” as a default position.

    Not everyone has been convinced to use the term in Flew’s way simply on the force of his argument. For some, who consider themselves atheists in the traditional sense, Flew’s efforts seemed to be an attempt to water down a perfectly good concept. For others, who consider themselves agnostics in the traditional sense, Flew’s efforts seemed to be an attempt to re-label them “atheists”—a term they rejected.
    He's also had a deathbed conversion to theism.

  5. #75
    Complex paradigm Virtual ghost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceecee View Post
    I don't want to be rude but you have no idea how easy suppression is to achieve in the US, majority or not.

    I think I do, it is just that I have a hard time imagining why would so many play along with this game. (sorry, in my place revolution is almost "business as usual")

  6. #76
    Senior Member ceecee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virtual ghost View Post
    I think I do, it is just that I have a hard time imagining why would so many play along with this game. (sorry, in my place revolution is almost "business as usual")
    Usually because it is in their interest to do so - financially, socially, politically. Or they are simply afraid of the consequences for speaking out.
    I like to rock n' roll all night and *part* of every day. I usually have errands... I can only rock from like 1-3.

  7. #77
    clever fool Typh0n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nor View Post
    So atheism needn't be about making claims at all, no?

    Atheism is not a belief/claim -- it isn't a position. It's a non-position; lack of belief, such that there exists no coherent "atheist framework of thought". There also exists no "atheist position", as Isk Stark would have us believe. Nor can an "atheist lifestyle" be observed, insofar as two atheists may hold disparate (actual) positions on whatever issues (which I see you've already suggested, though erroneously extended to theism). Not believing in god, here, is comparable to not believing in "oubdfihbw".

    Do we all live an "atheist lifestyle" with regards to the existence of Zeus? What about the existence of shit-flinging Venusian alien spacecrafts?

    --

    Agnosticism is indeed a philosophical position regarding theistic thought/purported knowledge, though, but not one that makes much sense, to me.

    Having said all of this, why are you not an atheist, then?
    The point you're raising seems to be a bout the prevalance of the monotheistic version of god, since it is one that dominates the discourse in our society. It's a worthy point, I'll get to it below.

    Sure. So is god knowable? (Not making any claims, myself, nor expounding my position.)
    Only if he is apprehinsible through reason. Something like Aquinas's version of a "prime motor" which was necessary for the universe to be created, could make sense to me though I have no knowledge of whether or not such a prime motor is necessary for the universe to exist, or if the universe simply has always existed and is simply going trough cycles that repeat. Or something else. This is why the question of whether the monotheistic version of god exists makes a bit more sense than asking why Zeus does, because monotheistic theology actually refers to philosophy and thus to reason.

    Of course, Aquinas's prime motor does not imply anything about a burning bush in the desert or pact with Abraham, so I'm not sure how theologians use such arguments to try to convince people the Abrahamic faiths are real.


    So any claims about the unknowable nature of god are claims about the nature of said god, which is pretty fucking brilliant, eh? Further, we might also observe that if one were to claim god unknowable, they'd essentially be tossing the very idea of said god, and any knowledge about it, out of existence, thereby making the very god question meaningless and incoherent.
    Correct, except I don't think god to be unkowable, I didn't introduce that word into the conversation, @Isk Stark introduced it and I responded in the context of our debate. I think the only way you could prove the existence of God is through reason, just as reason is the only means of apprehending what is real. I don't believe in things like noesis, faith, gnosis, intuition (which is useful but not a means of attaining knowledge), or feelings (again, useful to relate to people, but not when apprehending what exists).

    What are you tring to "prove" to me with these questions anyways? Just curious.

  8. #78
    Complex paradigm Virtual ghost's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ceecee View Post
    Usually because it is in their interest to do so - financially, socially, politically. Or they are simply afraid of the consequences for speaking out.

    Yes, but that was actually my point. How it can be in their interest to submit into something that is not part of their worldview, especially since religion makes so many impacts on healthcare, education, environment, general policy etc.

    I guess that you can answer this with "they don't know for anything better", but I still find that to be a weird argument. All of this can surely be true, but I simply find it weird. Especially in the country that is so much into various types of freedoms.

  9. #79
    clever fool Typh0n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Isk Stark View Post
    Then my dog is an atheist. We are born into this world lacking any beliefs. As soon as one is introduced to any concept, you can believe or not believe. Not believing isn't the same as lacking belief.

    This atheist philosopher is calling for the 'lack of belief' position to be abandoned because it is weak and dishonest, which ironically, reinforces the theist's view of the "dishonest atheist."

    Take a read and see what you think.
    The whole "lack of belief" thing is not weak and dishonest, as there is no need to have a belief about the non-existence of a God which to you has no meaning outside its cultural conext. I believe this is the point Nor was raising about Zeus and such: there was a time when belief in mythology was not to be questioned, but to today the word "mythology" evokes "fiction". The term "mythology" is not used to describe the lives of saints and the bible for instance, but that's essentially what those are, if we agree with a casual reading of Mircea Eliade. Note that Eliade does not use the term "myth" in a pejorative fashion, as to imply "a fiction".

    To say that the question of the Abrahamic God needs to be addressed is giving the Abrahamic faiths too much importance. Again, the only type of argument I would consider would be Aquinas's prime motor, but how you jump from that to faith in the a loving God that cares about humans is anyone's guess.

    All things being equal, the Buddhist and the Satanist still live as though there is/are no god(s). Morals needn't be involved here.
    I don't wanna get into this as it gets into ethics, which is a separate though not unrelated topic. I think this question is interesting, but I don't have time since I am fairly busy.

    I think the "know nothing" Socrates is referring to knowing there is knowledge you aren't cognizant of. Not knowing how to speak Dutch doesn't necessarily fall into the "know nothing" category because you know there's a language called Dutch. Even if you didn't know of a language called Dutch specifically, you know other languages do exist, so it's plausible a language called Dutch exists.

    Knowing nothing addresses something like: "Oh, I didn't know that existed."

    The other day, my boss, our IT guy, and I were griping about touchless car washes having a limited time on the under-carriage wash. Living in the rust-belt, it's important to wash your under-carriage to prevent rust if salt was used on the roads, and before it gets about 50 degrees F because that's when it starts oxidizing. So, we brainstormed creating our own under-carriage wash using PVC piping and a water hose.

    Today, the IT guy shows me this

    As far as that knowledge, I truly knew nothing.
    Actually the Socratic (Platonistic) message is that we know nothing because our senses supposedly deceive us. Therefore Plato would argue in favor of first form or ideas, which to him represent the true layer of reality.
    Last edited by Typh0n; 01-12-2018 at 04:29 AM. Reason: spelling

  10. #80
    Senior Member Justin of Flavia Neapolis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Typh0n View Post
    The whole "lack of belief" thing is not weak and dishonest, as there is no need to have a belief about the non-existence of a God which to you has no meaning outside its cultural conext. I believe this is the point Nor was raising about Zeus and such: there was a time when belief in mythology was not to be questioned, but to today the word "mythology" evokes "fiction". The term "myhtology" is not used to describe the lives of saints and the bible for instance, but that's essentially what those are, if we agree with a casual reading of Mircea Eliade. Note that Eliade does not use the term "myth" in a pejorative fashion, as to imply "a fiction".
    The question:

    "Do you believe in God(s)?"

    The answer:

    "No, I lack a belief in God." betrays that the only thing you lack is confidence in your disbelief. Which is fine by me, and is by definition a weak atheist position.

    Evaluating the reasons for the ‘lack of belief’ position

    So what does any of this have to do with atheism? In recent years, many counter-apologists have come to recognise ‘atheism’ as meaning a ‘lack of belief’ in gods, and that’s it. That is to say, atheism is the end result of rejecting – but not necessarily denying – the positive claims of religion. It’s a non-committal, neutral stance. The reasons usually provided to motivate this definition are some variation on the following:

    • It is impossible to prove a negative, or to know that something doesn’t exist;
    • a ‘lack of belief’ isn’t a belief;
    • that ‘-theism’ (belief) and ‘-gnosticism’ (knowledge) are independent, non-mutually exclusive categories;
    • the rejection of a claim doesn’t mean accepting the opposite (charge of a false dichotomy); and,
    • that the etymology of the word ‘atheism’ breaks down to ‘a-‘ meaning ‘without’ and ‘-theos’ meaning ‘gods’, and is thus correct by definition.


    I’ll take each of these in turn.

    (1) It is possible to prove a negative by demonstrating a logical contradiction: there are no married bachelors, or square circles. Those paired concepts are mutually incompatible, and rule each other out. If the concept of god is incoherent, then the thing it points to can’t exist. And that’s the end of the story.
    Furthermore, it’s possible to argue for a negative with an ‘absence of evidence’ argument. If X exists, I should expect to find evidence Z. If evidence Z isn’t found, X is not likely to exist. While not irrefutable, we don’t need it to be to say with a high probability that X doesn’t exist. If you think we do need it to be irrefutable to say X doesn’t exist, then you’re an infallibilist about knowledge, and I’ve already written about why that’s not a desirable position. Other arguments against the existence of a theistic god like the Argument from Hiddeness, Problem of Evil, and Argument of Divine Lies also deal significant blows to the probability of such a being existing.

    (2) This seems to be a confusion between the folk concept of ‘belief’, and it’s more precise philosophical definition. The folk concept is something like ‘an acceptance that something exists or is true, especially without proof‘. The philosophical definition is something like ‘a mental state that represents a state of affairs which is accepted as true by the believer‘.
    The philosophical definition means, roughly, a ‘picture’ or a ‘sentence’ in your head that you think is an accurate representation of the world. You look at a wall, you have a belief about that wall. You think about the past, you have a belief about the past. The word just tells me that you think the world is a certain way. It shouldn’t conjure up the spectre of ‘acceptance without evidence’, which is confusing it with ‘faith’.
    The only time someone can be said to have a lack of belief regarding a god is before they’ve heard the claim for one. In some minimalist sense this person is an a-theist, but that’s an extremely weak point to hang one’s hat on. After hearing it, they can accept, reject or mull over the claim undecided. But lacking a belief about it is no longer open to them.
    When we’re talking about scientific concepts, we make the effort to use appropriate scientific language. We ought to make the same effort to be philosophically precise in matters of philosophy. ‘Atheism’ and ‘belief’ are also technical terms in philosophy. This might rub some anti-philosophical types the wrong way, but like it or not, if you engage in rational argument, you’re doing philosophy. And anything worth doing is worth doing correctly.

    (3) This one is often said in conjunction with ‘2’, and is usually accompanied by this graphic:



    The first thing I can say here is that belief and knowledge are not usually paired this way. As our justification for a belief being true gets stronger, it eventually qualifies as knowledge (because knowledge is at least a ‘justified, true, belief’). So this makes both the gnostic positions rather redundant, as you necessarily have to have a belief if you also have knowledge.
    The second thing I can say is that this ‘neat’ partitioning doesn’t capture the degrees of confidence we have in our beliefs and knowledge. I know that the Sun is a star. I also know that evolution has occurred. Do I know these two facts to the same degree of confidence? No. They’re both very high, but not identical – and they’re certainly not 100% certain. This graphic doesn’t capture that nuance, and neither does the distinction it’s attempting to carve out. It’s too simple. Our minds don’t work like this.

    (4) While it is true that ‘believing X’ and ‘believing not-X’ aren’t the only options, I disagree that the middling position of ‘not believing X’ is a useful definition of atheism. It’s far too broad to capture just what we might intuitively want to call an atheist (it drifts too far into ‘Area C’). I’ll try to motivate this change of intuition in you.
    If a mere ‘lack of belief in god’ is sufficient to be an atheist, then babies are atheists. You might say “yes, they are, or at least were before religion got its mitts on them!” But on this definition chimps are also atheists. As are dolphins, dogs, and doors. They all lack belief in a god.
    You might object that the ‘thing’ has to be capable of beliefs at all to prevent the ‘door’ from making this absurd (that’s going to be a problem for anything that is defined in purely negative terms). But suppose I grant that point, even though it seems extremely ad hoc. Are you comfortable calling a dog an atheist? If so, are you just as comfortable calling a goldfish apolitical? Calling the ants in my garden a colony of atheists feels like a misuse of words to me, because this word – defined in this way – picks out any conscious thing on the planet as its referent. That’s a huge net. If we think of atheism as ‘positive disbelief’, that picks out a very small subset of belief-capable humans, and that’s a more desirable outcome.

    (5) is an interesting one, as it is a great example of what I call the ‘fetishisation of etymology’. It treats language as if it’s static and eternal, rather than the truly fluid organism it really is. Words change meaning all the time, mostly due to popular usage, but sometimes due to necessity (like the planet example). Thumping the table and shouting “words have meanings!” as I so often see happen, is not an argument.
    In the first few centuries CE, the word ‘atheist’ was used by polytheistic pagans to describe Christians, who they were ridiculing for believing in ‘one god for everything’. They taunted them that they should just round it off to an even zero since they were most of the way there already. Before them, it was used by the pagans against the Epicureans (yes, this one, even though this quote is wrongly attributed to him by an early Christian scholar) in Ancient Greece, who believed that the gods did exist and were made of atoms, but were unconcerned with human affairs.
    So the word ‘atheist’ has changed several times in history already in response to a conscious or unconscious desire for it to do so. Rather than let the folk concept flitter to and fro, I’d rather intelligently design our language so we can mean what we say, and say what we mean. Like Pluto and the planets, it seems to me that once this folk concept is scrutinised, it comes up short and in need of a rethink.
    If you’re still hung up on etymology being king, look up the word nice’ here & here for examples of a word whose meaning has changed dramatically in just 700 years.
    More details here.

    To say that the question of the Abrahamic God needs to be addressed is giving the Abrahamic faiths too much importance. Again, the only type of argument I would consider would be Aquinas's prime motor, but how you jump from that to faith in the a loving God that cares about humans is anyone's guess.
    The Abrahamic God conquered the world, and atheists are supposedly oppressed by Him, so it's kind of important to them.

    I don't wanna get into this as it gets into ethics, which is a separate though not unrelated topic. I think this question is interesting, but I don't have time since I am fairly busy.
    No biggie, I've already admitted to conflating secularism and atheism.

    Actually the Socratic (Platonistic) message is that we know nothing because our senses supposedly deceive us. Therefore Plato would argue in favor of first form or ideas, which to him represent the true layer of reality.
    Our senses do deceive us.

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