Atheism, Non-Theism Question

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Darias
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Atheism, Non-Theism Question

Post #1

Post by Darias »

I don't mean to beat a dead horse that's been beat to death before... but I have a few questions.

I've heard it said here that Atheism does not equal a belief that there is no god(s), rather it simply indicates a disbelief in any and all gods which are believed to exist by others.

I know that the distinction is stressed so that a Theist can't attribute unprovable belief to a Non-Theist. It is also stressed because a number of Non-theists don't want to be associated with the word "belief."

But literally speaking, if I say: "I do not believe in the existence of any god(s)"

Does it not logically follow that because "I do not believe in the existence of any god(s)" that "in my opinion(AKA I believe) there is no god(s)"

Does not the former ultimately lead to the latter?

I understand that one is phrased in a way that places the burden of proof on those who believe in gods, and the other is phrased in a way that makes it out to be a positive assertion; so I understand the debate-significance of the distinction.

However, it is hard for me to separate the two - unless the person who states the former is more of an Agnostic Non-Theist...

If you are an Atheist, how can you honestly say one without at least feeling the other?

Isn't saying "To be an Atheist is to not believe in any gods, Atheism does not assert that gods do not exist."

just like saying "The car is around me, but I am not in the car"?


You can't really state one position without the other being true as well.

If I didn't believe that gods existed, I would certainly say gods don't exist, even if I couldn't prove it.

It makes no sense to say "I don't believe in gods, but that doesn't mean I deny their existence."

Does it?

Help me out here seriously. :confused2:

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Re: Atheism, Non-Theism Question

Post #11

Post by Darias »

1
Goat wrote:
Darias wrote:
Goat wrote:Your premise and conclusion is out of order.

A) There is objective evidence for any deity.
B) All ontological proofs rely on unproven assumptions, equivocations, and bad logic.

Therefore

There is insufficient evidence to believe in any deity.
Is this your conclusion? Because I never said any of that. My post examined the issue of evidence and how irrelevant it is to Theists like myself.
That is not the point that it was attempting to make in your opening post. Your second post had the conclusion as a premise, which is inaccurate and a straw man.

Your opening post was an Atheism, non-theism question.. which immediately misrepresented the atheist, non-theism thought processes. I corrected that.

If you wanted to make a point that 'Evidence doesn't mean anything to me', and 'I'll believe what I want to", you are going the wrong way about it. The way you aproached the subject makes it look like you are trying to equate believing with no evidence is exactly the same as lacking a belief without any evidence.. and no, it isn't.

You do the same thing with very many things. I am sure you lack a belief in Djinn, Nagas, or genies. And, I am sure that the people that believe in those mythical beings don't care about evidence either.

2.) I don't remember saying:
Goat wrote:'Evidence doesn't mean anything to me. . . I'll believe what I want to'
If that what I conveyed, I apologize. If that was just a witty summary of my argument, that's fine too because I write my posts the same way.

However, I must say that evidence means a lot to me. I will not believe in any physical thing without evidence/proof or logic(math/reasoning) of its existence. I currently entertain the idea of M-Theory. Strings are fascinating. I believe that there must be something which unifies general relativity and quantum mechanics -- because the scientists say that there must be. Math shows evidence of Strings.

I would not believe it, unless it had evidence. So I totally understand the reasoning and logic of accepting things to be true, given evidence/proof of their existence.

However, for me, it is illogical to apply that method in determining the existence of God. This is because God is not physical. And you won't find physical evidence of a non-physical being; logic and reasoning affirms this point.

So this is why every time someone in this forum creates a thread which requests "evidence for God," I am amused/annoyed. On one hand, I'm thinking -- why ask the question? Especially because I'm sure that the questioner is aware that physical evidence doesn't exist and the person replying cannot possibly give evidence for God.

And what tickles me is the fact that because there is no physical proof of a metaphysical entity, that this somehow proves/shows that God is non-existent.

Sometimes I ask myself, what's the point of the forum if all I hear all day is "where's the evidence; where's the evidence?" It can be condescending at times.

Reasoning and logic are really the only tools left in the debate over God's existence. So it's extremely annoying for someone to dismiss anything I or others propose as "conjecture; where's the evidence?"

I'm not naming anyone in particular, I'm just saying...


3.) As for this:
Goat wrote:you are trying to equate believing with no evidence is exactly the same as lacking a belief without any evidence
No. That is not the message I'm selling. Clearly, believing in a falsehood about the universe without evidence is no way comparable to not believing in a falsehood about the universe in light of the evidence.

But we aren't talking about the physical universe or even a physical being within the universe. The subject in question is a metaphysical God.

As I said before and will continue to explain, there can be no physical proof of a metaphysical god. I can't find God's toenail and stick it under a microscope to discover it's divine properties -- and then publish a peer-reviewed journal on the validity of a God's existence in light of His "holy toenail."

That is the problem in this whole grand debate between Theists and Atheists. Non-Theists tend to stick with the "show me the evidence" argument. And that's really not applicable to the matter. Common sense tells us that physical proof of a divine being is impossible. So why is the question asked if not for the sake of being intentionally provocative or in the attempt to somehow prove that no physical evidence of a metaphysical being = no god? I must disagree with the latter. One cannot prove either way because there is nothing that can be used for proof.

The impossibility of physical proof of God's existence does not = there is no God. And it does not = God is less likely to exist. Likewise it does not mean that God does exist, or is likely to exist.

Physical evidence tells us nothing.

Statements like "God's existence is redundant at best." Or "God has to exist because everything exists - and it appears that design is everywhere despite lack of perfection" are subjective at best.


Therefore the only logical positions left which do not propose any claims are:

Agnostic Atheism and Agnostic Theism.



4.) You are correct in that I do not believe in Djinn, Nagas, or Genies. But I do not use the same method in disbelief of said deities/metaphysical beings.

My disbelief in said beings does not rely upon "lack of physical proof/evidence" of their proposed existences. This is because I know that no such physical proof/evidence of any metaphysical being can possibly exist. I conclude this by reasoning/logic.

Because I don't rely on assumed/pending physical evidence/proof to determine the validity their existences, my disbelief in their existences is but an opinion.

Therefore, I can say that Djinn, Nagas, or Genies do not exist -- but only on the basis of opinion/belief/logic/reasoning and nothing more. So my final conclusion would be that I do not believe in said deities, but their existences cannot be proven/disproven via physical means. Furthermore, since evidence is not applicable in this case, my opinion is therefore unsubstantiated. Because of this, I cannot know or prove said opinion. Ergo:

I am an Agnostic Atheist (in this specific case).



5.) To be fair, my "Agnostic Athiesm" would also apply to fairies, leprechauns, and the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

My disbelief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be based upon the fact that it is the ultimate straw-man/mockery of Theism. But because physical proof of said god, e.g. a holy noodle, does not exist, I cannot attempt to prove or disprove its existence either. My disbelief in the Flying Spaghetti Monster would be opinion, but that which is backed by reasoning, logic, etc. -- but alas no proof.

I could still claim that the FSM doesn't exist, but that claim would be baseless (aside from reasoning etc.) because proof is not applicable to the argument.



2
Goat wrote:
Darias wrote:
Goat wrote:You are assuming, incorrectly, that a disbelief in God comes before the examining of the evidence. This assumption of yours is known as a 'straw man'.

Any evidence that can pass the 'show me' test can cause the conclusion to be reevaluated.

No, I argue that a disbelief in god(s) - opinion a. - rests upon a lack of assumed physical proof of god(s). And that this lack of proof (assuming there would be physical evidence of a metaphysical entity) leads to the conclusion c.

That is how I logically show that "non-belief in god(s)" ultimately leads to the belief that "god(s) don't exist."

Which, of course, is trying to tell people what they believe. It might ultimately lead to that belief, but you are attempting to tell others what their beliefs are, and the source of their beliefs. That is utter nonsense. That is similar to the declaration of some people about what 'Fundamentalist Christianity' is, one massive straw man. It would also be the same as someone arguing that believing in Christianity will cause people to use Rods to beat their kids as punishment.
1.) Yes indeed a. probably leads to c., especially if lack of physical evidence for a metaphysical god is all that a. needs to lead to c.

From this thread, one possibility in which a. doesn't lead to c. is if the person understands that physical evidence for a metaphysical god doesn't make sense. And if they realize that they cannot prove the non-existence or less-likely existence of God by using physical proof -- then by default they cannot rule out the possibility of a God. And if they cannot rule it out, then they cannot know for sure.

And this meets the definition of Agnostic Atheism, per wiki.
Wikipedia: Agnostic Atheism wrote:Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not have belief in the existence of any deity, and agnostic because they do not claim to know that a deity does not exist.
_____
SOURCE

2.) Saying this:
Goat wrote:It would also be the same as someone arguing that believing in Christianity will cause people to use Rods to beat their kids as punishment.
... is effectively straw-manning my whole argument.

Saying Christianity leads to children beating their kids is a lot like saying Atheism leads to radical Maoism. Neither of these have any logical process whatsoever; they are just ignorant spiteful rhetoric.

I didn't create this thread to rip on Atheists or whatever. I came here to figure out definitions and the logic behind those beliefs or assertions.


3
Goat wrote:
Darias wrote:The only way c. is avoided is if b. is taken out of the picture. And this is done when one acknowledges the possibility of god existing apart from physical proof. If this is acknowledged, a. does not lead to c. but only because the individual is now an Agnostic Atheist.

b. would also be rendered untrue if and only if somehow physical evidence of a metaphysical god(s) existed and was discovered, documented, tested, and proven. If this was done, then evidence for God would be shown.

However, I argue that is impossible because any physical evidence of God would eliminate the possibility of that being's divinity. It would just be an alien at that point, born in our universe or another.
Hey,to me, that shows evidence that 'divinity' is imaginary, and nothing but wishful thinking and word games.
1.) Well, by your own remission, this shows that you probably favor the a. --> b. --> c. model.

There's no difference between saying:
Goat wrote:'divinity' is imaginary
... and "'divinity' isn't real." That's just a paraphrase of "There is no God." Is it not?

The only word-game going on here is thinking that "disbelief in God" doesn't lead to "There is no God."

And as I said before, the only way to avoid that end is to be an Agnostic Atheist, by not believing in the existence God but admitting the possibility, or at least admitting the ability of not being able to prove God's non-existence with physical evidence.


Now of course people can think what they want and use any label they want. I'm not commanding anyone to do anything. But I am trying to be logically consistent using the definitions and models developed in this thread.

This is an argument, not a sermon.


4
Goat wrote:
Darias wrote:The only other type of physical proof for God that could exist was if our universe was perfect (whatever that means), and it is not, therefore physical proof is non-existent.

Ergo, Atheists should either stick with a. --> b. --> c.


or acknowledge the Theist argument that "physical proof" is pointless in determining Theism. And that physical proof does nothing to prove or disprove the existence of god(s).

If this is done, then one becomes an Agnostic Atheist. AKA retaining the disbelief in god(s), while admitting the possibility that god(s) could exist apart from any physical proof AND because it is impossible to ever know (based on proof) that god(s) do not exist.
All I have to say is that it is turning out your argument is one massive equivocation, and trying to redefine what atheists think.
I'm not trying to tell people what to think. I'm trying to redefine the 'god v. no-god' argument. It seems it all revolves around this mysterious "proof" and that's why I've tried to address the heart of the matter.

And the only reason I went down the path of discussing "evidence" and it's value in the 'god v. no-god' argument, is because it seems to be the difference between a. and c.

It seems that I have discovered the one issue that seems to stop the process and change the argument over God's existence altogether.

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Re: Atheism, Non-Theism Question

Post #12

Post by Filthy Tugboat »

Darias wrote:Isn't saying "To be an Atheist is to not believe in any gods, Atheism does not assert that gods do not exist."

just like saying "The car is around me, but I am not in the car"?


You can't really state one position without the other being true as well.

If I didn't believe that gods existed, I would certainly say gods don't exist, even if I couldn't prove it.

It makes no sense to say "I don't believe in gods, but that doesn't mean I deny their existence."

Does it?

Help me out here seriously. :confused2:
The last comment is actually inaccurate, when you deny something it implies a reality. What you should have said was, "I don't believe in gods, but that doesn't mean I deny the possibility of their existence." Notice with that small correction the statement actually makes sense. With the first quotation(I guess?) you've made it pretty clear, disbelief in something is hardly the same as asserting it's non existence. Given God is such a broad claim that actually doesn't define very much how could I suggest it's existence to be false? Give me individual Gods and I can tell you why I don't believe them and most of them I do assert their non-existence. Take the Christian God for example, Bible says he can do anything, that is a logical fallacy, he cannot both make something so large he cannot lift it whilst simultaneously being able to do everything. He can either do one or the other. SO when Gods have attributes I can assert their nonexistence based off of reason and logic, I could never make such a grand assumption for the infinite spectrum of possible 'God's'.

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Post #13

Post by otseng »

Moving this to a debating subforum.

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Post #14

Post by Lux »

Darias wrote:The only way for an Atheist to avoid conclusion c. is if they acknowledge the possibility of god(s) existence apart from physical proof/evidence (current and future).
I thought most atheists acknowledged that possibility :O Oh no, I don't even fit in with the heretics!

I acknowledge that there could be a creator god. I think it's way more likely for a non-involved deity to exist than an omnipresent, omnipotent, omniscient personal god, but I realize both could be there and there is no way for me to know it currently.

However, I just can't really bring myself to believe something without evidence to convince me of it's likelihood. And that goes for both positive and negative belief.
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Post #15

Post by cnorman18 »

I think I'll leave my perceptions of these arguments aside for the moment -- suffice it to say that they have something to do with semantics -- and just ask a question from my own perspective.

It seems to me that the typical atheist* position is this: Since there is no evidence for gods, I do not believe in gods; but I admit the possibility that gods might exist, and would be willing to change my position if such evidence is ever presented. If that's not fair or accurate, someone please let me know.

I wouldn't presume to speak for a "typical" theist position, because I don't think there is one; my own certainly isn't typical. We'll get to my position in a moment.

Here is my question:

Would atheists in general, or any atheist here in particular, agree that there MIGHT be a God or gods for which no evidence is possible? That would of course include the proviso that there would never, in that case, be a reason to change one's position on the existence of gods; it would only admit that possibility.

It seems to me that rejection of that possibility entails the POSITIVE assertion that if any god of any kind exists, some kind of evidence for that god MUST exist. And I think that that is an assertion of an entirely different order.

My own position is the inverse of this. I believe in an (undefined) God for which (or for Whom) there is no evidence possible; the corollary of that is, obviously, that evidence of His NONexistence is also impossible. I would be perfectly willing to change my position if such evidence were ever presented -- but I am also perfectly willing to admit the possibility that there is no evidence that this (undefined) God exists because He does NOT exist. I am no more willing to "jump to the conclusion" that there is no God, absent evidence that PROVES that nonexistence, than an atheist is willing to jump to the conclusion that there IS a god absent evidence to prove THAT.

In my opinion, the possibility that evidence might not be possible ought to be admitted on either side of the argument. If not -- well, where is the evidence that evidence must exist?

*The term "Atheist" is here specifically intended to include "non-theist"

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Post #16

Post by JoeyKnothead »

From the OP:
But literally speaking, if I say: "I do not believe in the existence of any god(s)"

Does it not logically follow that because "I do not believe in the existence of any god(s)" that "in my opinion(AKA I believe) there is no god(s)"
Where I don't believe a god exists, I still must admit I've not searched the entire universe. Thus my belief is not an overt statement of fact.

This "strong atheist" contends that god belief is better explained by some pertinent sciences - and that the god(s) in question are ultimately figments of the imagination. That said, I still must be honest and say I've not searched the entire universe, I've not pulled up every couch cushion, etc.

If God is hiding, He's doing it well.

So, ultimately, atheism is just a lack of belief, and need not be an overt statement that no gods exist.

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Post #17

Post by Lux »

cnorman18 wrote:It seems to me that the typical atheist* position is this: Since there is no evidence for gods, I do not believe in gods; but I admit the possibility that gods might exist, and would be willing to change my position if such evidence is ever presented. If that's not fair or accurate, someone please let me know.
That sounds about right to me. Personally, I'd say I'd be fast to change my position (rather than willing), not because I'd be afraid of punishment (that'd depend on the god, wouldn't it?) but because I hope I'm honest enough with myself that if someone shows me wrong I'll be able to say "I was wrong my entire 'adult' life, turns out there is a god".
cnorman18 wrote:Here is my question:

Would atheists in general, or any atheist here in particular, agree that there MIGHT be a God or gods for which no evidence is possible? That would of course include the proviso that there would never, in that case, be a reason to change one's position on the existence of gods; it would only admit that possibility.
I definitely agree, but am far less inclined to agree in the case of a god like the one of Christianity, given his attributes.

For some sorts of gods, I think it makes way more sense to say "There's no proof" than to say there is or might be. How would you prove an uninvolved deity, or a pantheistic position?

I wonder why, among people who accept that either the existence or non-existence of god is possible and believe that evidence is either highly unlikely or impossible, why some tilt towards theism and some to non-theism.
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Post #18

Post by cnorman18 »

Lucia wrote:
cnorman18 wrote:It seems to me that the typical atheist* position is this: Since there is no evidence for gods, I do not believe in gods; but I admit the possibility that gods might exist, and would be willing to change my position if such evidence is ever presented. If that's not fair or accurate, someone please let me know.
That sounds about right to me. Personally, I'd say I'd be fast to change my position (rather than willing), not because I'd be afraid of punishment (that'd depend on the god, wouldn't it?) but because I hope I'm honest enough with myself that if someone shows me wrong I'll be able to say "I was wrong my entire 'adult' life, turns out there is a god".
I wouldn't lose too much sleep over it...
cnorman18 wrote:Here is my question:

Would atheists in general, or any atheist here in particular, agree that there MIGHT be a God or gods for which no evidence is possible? That would of course include the proviso that there would never, in that case, be a reason to change one's position on the existence of gods; it would only admit that possibility.
I definitely agree, but am far less inclined to agree in the case of a god like the one of Christianity, given his attributes.
As I've often said, as far as the God of fundamentalist Christianity is concerned, I am an atheist too -- and it ought to be noted that there unquestionably OUGHT to be evidence proving THAT god's existence; start with geological evidence for a worldwide Flood, and work forward.

For some sorts of gods, I think it makes way more sense to say "There's no proof" than to say there is or might be. How would you prove an uninvolved deity, or a pantheistic position?
Precisely. Or an undefined God whose attributes and nature are not known and may not be knowable?

I wonder why, among people who accept that either the existence or non-existence of god is possible and believe that evidence is either highly unlikely or impossible, why some tilt towards theism and some to non-theism.
I have maintained for some time here that I think it's a matter of taste as much as anything else -- and that I see nothing wrong with that. Since belief, in Judaism, doesn't determine one's "eternal fate" or anything else, it's not a major issue. I believe in God, and I believe in Skippy extra-crunchy peanut butter, and I'm about as dedicated to proselytizing for one as for the other.

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Post #19

Post by Lux »

cnorman18 wrote:As I've often said, as far as the God of fundamentalist Christianity is concerned, I am an atheist too -- and it ought to be noted that there unquestionably OUGHT to be evidence proving THAT god's existence; start with geological evidence for a worldwide Flood, and work forward.
I would agree. I also think that the god of some flavors of non-fundamental Christianity should either have solid evidence or christians should forsake one of his qualities, though. If someone tells me that belief in that god is very important (to god) for whatever reason, so much that there are negative consequences for non-believers, and that this god is also all-loving and omnipotent, I'd say that then there is no possible explanation for the existence of atheists.
cnorman18 wrote:Precisely. Or an undefined God whose attributes and nature are not known and may not be knowable?
I find that possibility much more believable (from my point of view) than a personal -to the point that we can refer to it as a male- god.
cnorman18 wrote:I have maintained for some time here that I think it's a matter of taste as much as anything else -- and that I see nothing wrong with that. Since belief, in Judaism, doesn't determine one's "eternal fate" or anything else, it's not a major issue. I believe in God, and I believe in Skippy extra-crunchy peanut butter, and I'm about as dedicated to proselytizing for one as for the other.
I'm not sure that it's a matter of taste. Even though I give the matter a lot of thought, I still feel like I'm somewhat naturally inclined towards non-theism, or skepticism or whatever it might be. I doubt I could "truly believe" if there is absence of evidence, even though I accept that evidence might not be obtainable.

I prefer Nutella to peanut butter :P
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Post #20

Post by ChaosBorders »

Darias wrote:The only way for an Atheist to avoid conclusion c. is if they acknowledge the possibility of god(s) existence apart from physical proof/evidence (current and future).

And if they did that, they would no longer be an Atheist, but an Agnostic Atheist.

I myself acknowledge the possibility that God may not exist; I suppose that makes me an Agnostic Theist.
The vast majority of atheists are weak agnostic atheists. Many others are ignostics. Anyone who states that God is a possibility, just one they don't have enough evidence for to believe in, is in effect saying "I don't know that there's not a god" (and thus are agnostic). Those who claim they know that there is not a god are strong atheists and have the same burden of proof as a theist claiming that they know that there is one.

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