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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Post #31

Post by Goat »

nygreenguy wrote:
Goat wrote:
nygreenguy wrote: No biscuits and gravy?!?!?! Oh, the humanity! That right there is enough reason to never be jewish!
Depends on what you make the gravy from.

Some of the Kosher laws as they are practiced today I think are silly. For example, there is no actual reason from a biblical point of view not to mix chicken and dairy, but the Rabbi's decided to restrict that to reduce the chances of mistakes being made. Silly and stupid in my opinion.
Gravy? Whole milk, flour, water and sausage grease! No chicken! Chix and biscuits seems to be a more northern thing!

Not all gravy's use milk. the added liquid can be milk, water or stock. .. and using water or stock can make a kosher gravy.. and has the added benefit for those people who are lactose intolerant.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

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Post #32

Post by nygreenguy »

Goat wrote:
nygreenguy wrote:
Goat wrote:
nygreenguy wrote: No biscuits and gravy?!?!?! Oh, the humanity! That right there is enough reason to never be jewish!
Depends on what you make the gravy from.

Some of the Kosher laws as they are practiced today I think are silly. For example, there is no actual reason from a biblical point of view not to mix chicken and dairy, but the Rabbi's decided to restrict that to reduce the chances of mistakes being made. Silly and stupid in my opinion.
Gravy? Whole milk, flour, water and sausage grease! No chicken! Chix and biscuits seems to be a more northern thing!

Not all gravy's use milk. the added liquid can be milk, water or stock. .. and using water or stock can make a kosher gravy.. and has the added benefit for those people who are lactose intolerant.
Biscuits and gravy gravy must have milk! I do see what you are saying though.

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Post #33

Post by cnorman18 »

In a possibly futile effort to get this thread back to somewhere within shouting distance of the OP -- no brickbats at anyone, I participated in the hijacking to sausage-and-gravy issues as much as anyone else did -- let me repost this:

---

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"

---

Thanks to Lucia for her responses, but perhaps some other nontheists would care to answer the questions in bold above.

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Post #34

Post by Vince »

cnorman18 wrote: 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?
I would agree that the possibility of that scenario is plausible. In my opinion the atheist position is that the likelihood of this scenario does not warrant any special attention, and certainly does not warrant any weight in our decision making process because all of the characteristics of this god are unknowable. The universe could have happened in a completely natural way and this god exists and just observed it as it happened.
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?
I would admit to the possibility, yes, but you would still have a long way to go to show that this possibility is likely enough that it could or should affect my decision on anything.

In short, I agree it's possible, but why does it matter?

cnorman18

Post #35

Post by cnorman18 »

Vince wrote:
cnorman18 wrote: 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?
I would agree that the possibility of that scenario is plausible. In my opinion the atheist position is that the likelihood of this scenario does not warrant any special attention, and certainly does not warrant any weight in our decision making process because all of the characteristics of this god are unknowable. The universe could have happened in a completely natural way and this god exists and just observed it as it happened.
That's certainly one possibility; there are others, including some that have been proposed elsewhere -- including the one that posits that God did not WANT his existence to be provable, for reasons which seem obvious to me and which have also been discussed elsewhere.
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?
I would admit to the possibility, yes, but you would still have a long way to go to show that this possibility is likely enough that it could or should affect my decision on anything.
That was stipulated at the outset.
In short, I agree it's possible, but why does it matter?
Ah. You see my point. I agree -- but from the other side of the fence. It doesn't matter.

Call it a koan. "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."

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Post #36

Post by Vince »

cnorman18 wrote: Ah. You see my point. I agree -- but from the other side of the fence. It doesn't matter.

Call it a koan. "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."
How do we convince the militant atheist and the fundamental theist of this?

cnorman18

Post #37

Post by cnorman18 »

Vince wrote:
cnorman18 wrote: Ah. You see my point. I agree -- but from the other side of the fence. It doesn't matter.

Call it a koan. "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."
How do we convince the militant atheist and the fundamental theist of this?
Not my job, not my problem. Everyone has to find his own way. All I can do is live in the best way I know how, hopefully in a way from which others might learn what my beliefs mean and how they are carried out in real life. I think we all do that, whether we intend to or not.

Think for a moment; does how you feel about a person -- whether you fundamentally like him or her, or not -- depend on what they BELIEVE? Or does it depend on how they treat you, how they treat others, how they behave? Is this or that person nice, or nasty? That has very little to do with belief. When there are certain kinds of belief that seem to produce more nasty and unpleasant people than otherwise -- well, then we're learning about what that variety of belief means and how it's carried out in real life, aren't we? Proof doesn't matter. Theology doesn't matter. Actions do.

"The existence of God," in practical terms, doesn't fundamentally, sorry, matter to MOST people, whether they profess to believe or not -- precisely because it CAN'T be either proven or disproven, i.e., has no visible and verifiable effects. The Universe is what it is, whether there is a God or not. The most basic question of human existence has never been, "What do I believe?" It is, "What do I DO?" The way we answer THAT question DOES have real, verifiable, and visible effects.

"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him." If I ever found an incontrovertible and verifiable concrete proof of God's existence -- I would conceal it, destroy it, and forget I ever knew of it. That's not how you get there from here. The journey IS the destination, whether we know it or not.

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Post #38

Post by ProphetSHSU »

[Replying to post 37 by cnorman18]

Think for a moment; does how you feel about a person -- whether you fundamentally like him or her, or not -- depend on what they BELIEVE? Or does it depend on how they treat you, how they treat others, how they behave? Is this or that person nice, or nasty? That has very little to do with belief. When there are certain kinds of belief that seem to produce more nasty and unpleasant people than otherwise -- well, then we're learning about what that variety of belief means and how it's carried out in real life, aren't we? Proof doesn't matter. Theology doesn't matter. Actions do.
The problem here is that beliefs inform actions. If you believe that the supreme creator of the universe told you to drown your children by buckling them into their car seats and then driving into a lake that matters. If you believe that the benevolent omnipotent ruler of all things commanded that no woman should be allowed to go out in public without veils on *and you actively vote or otherwise work toward making that vision of the universe exist* it matters. Bombed abortion clinics, mutilated female genitalia, stoned adulterers. It all matters. And it all stems from beliefs.

"The existence of God," in practical terms, doesn't fundamentally, sorry, matter to MOST people, whether they profess to believe or not -- precisely because it CAN'T be either proven or disproven,
I agree that most Americans at least don't care. Though your reasoning for why that is the case is unjustified. Many people believe in a personal god that interacts with the world. Such a god should be provable.
The way we answer THAT question DOES have real, verifiable, and visible effects.
Yes, and our beliefs inform it. Try to convince anyone that NBA players being hesitant to come out as homosexuals isn't because of the verifiable, visible effects believing in the bible has on some Christians. You're trying to say that it's the branches of the tree that matter and not the roots. Both matter, and branches aren't possible without roots...

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Re: Atheism, Non-Theism Question

Post #39

Post by Mr.Badham »

Darias wrote: 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:
By this rationale, there are so many things that I believe, without even knowing it.

Listen, if your kid comes up to you and tells you about his imaginary friend, do you automatically form the belief in the non-existance of his imaginary friend, or do you just chalk it up to him being a kid?

Now, someone knocks on your door and wants to talk to you about their religion, do you wait to hear what they say about it, to form a belief one way or the other, or do you automatically disregard whatever it is they have to say? I, personally, disregard whatever it is they have to say. I don't think it makes any sense to say that I have a belief that the Mormons are wrong, and a separate belief about Catholics and a separate belief about Anglicans, and a separate belief about Muslims.

I have a belief about humans that have beliefs about Gods. But to say that I have a belief about their gods... no. I have a belief about the guys who created the Smurfs, but I don't have a belief about the Smurfs themselves.

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Re: Atheism, Non-Theism Question

Post #40

Post by ProphetSHSU »

If you see a huge gumball machine full of whole gumballs it's a fact that the number of gumballs in the machine is either odd or even. The intellectually honest observer who did not know how may gumballs were in the machine would have to admit that he does not know whether the count is odd or even.

Next to the machine are two people, a priest of even-ness and a priest of odd-ness. The priest of even-ness walks up and says: "The number of gumballs in the container is even! Do you believe me?" to which the intellectually honest observer says "No. You have provided me no reason to believe you, so don't believe you."

Next the priest of odd-ness walks up and says: "I am glad you weren't fooled by the priest of even-ness. You obviously believe in the truth, that the number is odd." To which the intellectually honest observer say "No. You have also provided me no reason to believe you, so I can't honestly say I believe the count is odd either."

It's a really common misconception. In our made up example here the belief positions are Even, Odd, and I Don't Know. It's simply not the case that if you don't believe 'Odd' that you automatically believe 'Even'. The opposite of 'true' is 'not true'.

This is the same reason O.J. Simpson was found 'Not Guilty' in his criminal trial instead of 'Innocent'. The choices are Guilty, Not-Guilty and if we were trying to prove innocence 'Innocent' and 'Not Innocent'. Each question, Odd versus Even, Guilty versus Innocent, God exists versus God does not exist, is evaluated one prong at a time. And you can come to a belief conclusion about each prong! When OJs prosecutor didn't provide enough evidence to prove guilty the jury chose 'Not Guilty'. If there wasn't enough evidence to prove innocence the jury can also choose 'Not Innocent'. This is a situation in which neither claim has a good reason to be believed just like the odd/even claims. And in this situation the intellectually honest position is to say 'I don't know'.

This is the position of the agnostic atheist with respect to any given god claim. I find them 'Not Guilty' of existing. If someone wants to prove to me that the god DOESN'T exist I'll listen, but until i hear that evidence I'm calling them 'Not Innocent' as well. The jury's out on god just like with the gumballs.

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