Is atheism lacking?

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historia
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Is atheism lacking?

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Post by historia »

This is an oft made point on this forum, but one I want to explore in a bit more depth:
Tcg wrote: Sun Nov 14, 2021 8:37 pm
We_Are_VENOM wrote: Sun Nov 14, 2021 8:23 pm
If you don't believe that God exists, then that itself is a belief.
I lack belief in god/gods. Lack of belief is quite clearly not a belief.
I think we can all appreciate the case where a person might be ignorant of a particular topic and thus have no beliefs about it. That seems straight-forward.

But, if a person previously believed in X but now no longer believes in X, while spending time on an online forum debating X, it seems less straight-forward (to me anyway) to say that they simply "lack" belief in X. Even if that person is merely contending that there is insufficient evidence (for them, at least) to believe in X, surely we must conclude that constitutes a belief about X.


Question for debate: Is it accurate to say that atheists debating the existence of God on an online forum lack belief in God (or gods), or is there a more accurate way to describe their beliefs vis-a-vis God (or gods)?

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Re: Is atheism lacking?

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Post by JoeyKnothead »

historia wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 4:14 pm ...
Question for debate: Is it accurate to say that atheists debating the existence of God on an online forum lack belief in God (or gods), or is there a more accurate way to describe their beliefs vis-a-vis God (or gods)?
An atheist, by definition is someone who lacks belief in a god or gods. Full stop.

Then there's all the following claims theists put on their God, which are ultimately rejected as well, but can be categorized as agoofycliamism.

This atheist debates here to counter unproven, unprovable claims theists seek to pass of as "Truth".

I notice many theists seek to enact laws that deny folks their rights, up to and including calls for a theocratic government. So in showing theists claims are nothing but wishful thinking, hopefully we can drag these folks into the current century.
Discovery is finding things that exist.
Invention is using things discovered.

Create that path and engineer a metamorphosis.

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Re: Is atheism lacking?

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Post by Difflugia »

historia wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 4:14 pmQuestion for debate: Is it accurate to say that atheists debating the existence of God on an online forum lack belief in God (or gods), or is there a more accurate way to describe their beliefs vis-a-vis God (or gods)?
I don't think that's an either-or proposition. Like "Christian," "atheist" can have a number of meanings. I don't believe in gods and I also believe that there are no gods. I recognize that those are different positions, both of which can be described as atheist. I'm also agnostic in that I can't assert that it's impossible that there is something that could be described accurately as a god.

My suggestion is to treat terms like "atheist" and "agnostic" the way I do "Christian:" let whomever I'm debating tell me what Christian means and debate that without trying to straw-man (Is that a verb? It is now.) their argument by playing with definitions. The late Bishop Spong called himself a Christian, even though he fit certain definitions of atheist. If someone tells me that they share Spong's understanding of Christianity, I might need them to clarify that a bit for me, but I won't tell them they're not Christian. I similarly recognize multiple understandings of both "atheist" and "agnostic" and may ask for clarification, but I'm not about to tell someone else what their atheism is.

By the way, there are no gods. In case you were wondering.
My preferred pronouns are he, him, and his.

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Re: Is atheism lacking?

Post #4

Post by TRANSPONDER »

historia wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 4:14 pm This is an oft made point on this forum, but one I want to explore in a bit more depth:
Tcg wrote: Sun Nov 14, 2021 8:37 pm
We_Are_VENOM wrote: Sun Nov 14, 2021 8:23 pm
If you don't believe that God exists, then that itself is a belief.
I lack belief in god/gods. Lack of belief is quite clearly not a belief.
I think we can all appreciate the case where a person might be ignorant of a particular topic and thus have no beliefs about it. That seems straight-forward.

But, if a person previously believed in X but now no longer believes in X, while spending time on an online forum debating X, it seems less straight-forward (to me anyway) to say that they simply "lack" belief in X. Even if that person is merely contending that there is insufficient evidence (for them, at least) to believe in X, surely we must conclude that constitutes a belief about X.


Question for debate: Is it accurate to say that atheists debating the existence of God on an online forum lack belief in God (or gods), or is there a more accurate way to describe their beliefs vis-a-vis God (or gods)?

It's accurate, and is the consensus logic based definition of atheism.

It's simple but question that theists put complicates it, so more explanation is needed. Everyone is logically agnostic about God in that nobody knows for sure, though theists often think they do, either on Faith (revelation) or belief (evidence). Atheists, not being persuaded by the evidence, nor, of course, revelation lack the knowledge that a god exists and logically not knowing means not believing until you do know.

Again, quite simple, but the Questions continue and complicate matters.

'But atheists say 'There is no God'. So that sounds like a gnostic (knowledge) position. That has implied caveats. Just as a theist using evidence believes a god does exist, and a theist using evidence may be convinced that the god is the god of the Bible, the atheist is not. ID is a good 'evidence' to use. Theists often point to evidence of design in nature to argue for existence of God (or A god). But atheists (who often understand the science better) see that that I/D evidences fail. And that is reason Not to believe in God, or any other god.

But more telling is the hands -on -god evidence. 'evidence' such as miracles or answered prayers fails as this turns out to be biased sample, fiddled evidence and wishful thinking. Thus a god that ought to be there, isn't there. So we have seen some argue for a deist god. It created everything but doesn't intervene. Very good. That gets over the whole prayer doesn't work and problem of evil thing. We are on our own, just as atheists believe. But nevertheless there is supposedly a god there (and often ID arguments such as fine tuned universe and cosmic origins is used). But already we have lost sight of the god of the Bible who was and supposedly Is very much hands on. We either get fiddling the evidence like God flooding Christians in Baton Rouge because of Gay marriages in Milwaukee. Not very convincing, this fiddled evidence, or we get explanations/excuses such as God can't intervene in any obvious way because it would negate Faith. Ok, we are into explaining away evidence against God rather than pointing to evidence For. And this is obviously done to prop up the a priori godfaith Logically non - belief is logical when the Theist argument is excuses as to why the evidence is actually against a hands -on god.

This a priori faith -claim or belief messes up the debate a lot as logically these ID arguments don't get you to a god of any particular religion. First you have to validate a creator and then argue why yours is the particular one.

'Agnostics' (Deists or irreligious theists, who are really in the same camp as atheists) don't try to argue for Biblegod, but Believers (note capital B) assume that their particular god is the one they are proving with ID. It isn't but they never seem to get that. Logically, assuming a Creator as a given, they would then have to validate the Holy Book that tells us which god this is, and really there are only two contenders - The Bible (and the Torah) and the Quran. Both (or all three) read like recorded history and often it is, as we saw with the debate on the Assyrian siege of Jerusalem. Undoubted fact. Though , as I argued, it is a record of a siege which in act the Hebrews lost as they has to submit and pay tribute, but the Bible fiddles the event to make it seem that God saved them. So even the actual events don't validate a god, unless you ignore the analysis of the story and insist on believing the Bible version.

Even then, that only validates the god of the Hebrews. Christians then have to validate the change -over of God's support from the Jews to the gentiles. For atheists, this is a no -brainer. Paul (for reasons still debated) took the Jewish belief (1) and adapted it to suit the Gentiles, whom he wanted to save as much as his fellow -Jews. Christian apologists have to argue that it is the same god, unchanging and the string of excuses and quotemining is too tedious to go into here.

The point is that it is never going to convince an atheist and not because atheists are biased or closed minded, but because the doubts and questions are valid ones and the excuses aren't good enough for anyone who doesn't want to believe them, no matter how poor they are. Christian apologists forget that they are trying to convince atheists first but secondarily, to stop themselves being unconvinced (2). Half their apologetics is pushing away the doubts and questions that atheists raise. Atheists are under little or no pressure. True some questions are searching but so many of them (as we saw in the one about the validity of deep -time geology, recently) depend on science denial. The atheist could simply say 'The science says No Flood' and leave it at that, but we try to explain.

But the point is that Kalam and the ontological arguments(even if they were valid) are irrelevant other than giving the Believers a god to work with. Then they just have to prove which god is the most likely and that's the Gospels (with Christians - the Quran arguments are different, usually prophecies and science in the Holy Book). Which is why, for me, the Gospel validity is the only argument that is really relevant, and specifically, the Resurrection since, if that isn't true, Christianity isn't true, even if Jesus was a real person.

(1) whether Jesus and his followers were observing Jews or had become, effectively, gentiles is also a debate.

(2) which happens. Half (proverbial) the atheists used to be believers. On my previous board a lively debate about Rachel Slick went on because she described perfectly how she deconverted herself by trying to argue the Bible against atheists she met at college. No wonder some believers want to isolate themselves and their family from doubts and questions. Atheists welcome the debate.

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Re: Is atheism lacking?

Post #5

Post by historia »

Difflugia wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 4:42 pm
I don't believe in gods and I also believe that there are no gods. I recognize that those are different positions, both of which can be described as atheist.
But my question is not whether these two positions should be described as "atheist" or not -- I'll happily stipulate that they both should be. My question is in regards to the assertion (quoted in the OP) that the former position should not be described as a belief.

It seems to me that that could be the case if someone (say, an infant) is simply ignorant of the concept of God. But it is less clear to me how someone who has consciously rejected belief in God can be said to simply "lack" belief in God. Surely, that position vis-a-vis the concept of God must constitute a belief in some sense, no?

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Re: Is atheism lacking?

Post #6

Post by Miles »

historia wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 4:14 pm
Question for debate: Is it accurate to say that atheists debating the existence of God on an online forum lack belief in God (or gods), or is there a more accurate way to describe their beliefs vis-a-vis God (or gods)?
Even those atheists not debating the existence of God online lack a belief in gods. Now, some of those lacking such a belief will say, "god does not exist," in which case they have created an obligation (burden of proof) to prove their allegation. Other atheists, those who say "I don't believe your claim is true," or "I simply lack any belief in god" haven't created any such burden---they have no obligation to prove what they believe. In essence, these last two positions don't deny the existence of god, but merely say, "So far no one has met the burden of proof that any god exists." Some may even say "Meet that burden and I will believe god exists."

Now, is a position of disbelief a position of belief? Hardly. Is disloyal the same as loyal? Is disorder the same as order? Is dissimilar the same as similar? How about distrust. Is it the same as trust? To prove that disbelief is the same as belief will take some pretty fancy foot work, but I'm willing to sit back and watch. Bring it on.


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Re: Is atheism lacking?

Post #7

Post by TRANSPONDER »

historia wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 6:08 pm
Difflugia wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 4:42 pm
I don't believe in gods and I also believe that there are no gods. I recognize that those are different positions, both of which can be described as atheist.
But my question is not whether these two positions should be described as "atheist" or not -- I'll happily stipulate that they both should be. My question is in regards to the assertion (quoted in the OP) that the former position should not be described as a belief.

It seems to me that that could be the case if someone (say, an infant) is simply ignorant of the concept of God. But it is less clear to me how someone who has consciously rejected belief in God can be said to simply "lack" belief in God. Surely, that position vis-a-vis the concept of God must constitute a belief in some sense, no?
Yes. One is the 'soft atheist' position and the 'Hard atheist' position. I won't go into the Atheist missionary position. I don't care for the terms as the 'hard' or 'gnostic' atheist position is logically unsound as no atheist really knows there are no gods. They just don't believe, though Dawkins' scale of atheism is valid - it shows how sure the atheist is that the god -claim is unlikely to be true, depending on which god -claim, of course.

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Re: Is atheism lacking?

Post #8

Post by William »

[Replying to Difflugia in post #3]
I'm also agnostic in that I can't assert that it's impossible that there is something that could be described accurately as a god.
By the way, there are no gods. In case you were wondering.
What do you define a 'god' as having to be, in order for a 'god' to exist?

I think that partly, this is what is being questioned re the OP.

What do atheists define a 'god' as, since they lack any beliefs that gods exist?

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Re: Is atheism lacking?

Post #9

Post by benchwarmer »

William wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 7:51 pm What do atheists define a 'god' as, since they lack any beliefs that gods exist?
That's really a question for the theist since they are the one claiming there is a god.

It's like me claiming there is a blargblat. You, I assume, have no clue what that is and likely wouldn't believe my faith claims that it exists. After being asked what it is and explaining what it means, if you have no evidence of one, you still don't really know what it is right? Other than some silly thing that BW tried to sell you on of course :)

As an atheist I could simply define 'god' as an entity that theists are attempting to claim is real. Each theist may (and likely does) have their own full definition of what a god is. I don't have to subscribe to their definition other than to say that I see no evidence of the thing they are describing. The next theist will probably have a slightly different definition and then based on lack of evidence I can also dismiss that. And on it goes. By definition I can't really have a full definition of 'god' other than something theists claim exists.

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Re: Is atheism lacking?

Post #10

Post by historia »

Miles wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 6:20 pm
[T]hose who say . . . "I simply lack any belief in god" haven't created any such burden---they have no obligation to prove what they believe.
An important point, and one we will come back to later.
Miles wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 6:20 pm
[Some] merely say, "So far no one has met the burden of proof that any god exists."
Right, but that is a belief is it not?

Changing examples: If you ask me whether the 2020 election was stolen from Donald Trump, I would say that there is insufficient evidence to support that claim. That is my belief.

Someone who pays no attention to politics might be able to claim that they simply "lack" belief that the election was stolen. But, having looked into the claim in some depth myself, I have chosen not to accept the claim. I'm in a different epistemologically position from the person who just lacks belief. I absolutely hold beliefs about this claim.
Miles wrote: Sun Nov 21, 2021 6:20 pm
Now, is a position of disbelief a position of belief? Hardly. Is disloyal the same as loyal?
Disloyal is not "the same" as loyal. But it's also not a neutral position -- it is not simply "lacking" loyalty.

The same is true of belief and disbelief, no?

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