To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

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Sherlock Holmes
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To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #1

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

To be clear the title of this thread is false.

There are currently several purported definitions of atheism, personally I always use the real one, the established one, the one used historically in books on theology, philosophy and so on, the one that's been around for hundreds of years.

But there are some who like to use a different definition one made up one afternoon by Antony Flew in the 1970s in a rather obscure book The Presumption of Atheism.

Nobody paid much attention to this until relatively recently where it became fashionable amongst militant atheists, some of whom even insist that Flew's definition is the true definition.

You can read more about this hand waving and other foot stamping here.

It's also worth noting that there are plenty of atheists who rely on the historic definition and do not agree with this attempt to redefine it, so any pretense that all atheists adopt the "lack of belief" view is false, many atheists do not share that definition at all.
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #51

Post by historia »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 11:29 am
I've listened to the first three minutes and might listen to the rest later.
I'm pretty sure the part of the video benchwarmer thought was relevant to our discussion here was the section on defining terms starting at 3:34.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #52

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

historia wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 11:53 am
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 11:29 am
I've listened to the first three minutes and might listen to the rest later.
I'm pretty sure the part of the video benchwarmer thought was relevant to our discussion here was the section on defining terms starting at 3:34.
ahhhh - OK let me take a look...
When one has eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #53

Post by alexxcJRO »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 11:14 am
alexxcJRO wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 6:12 am
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sat Jan 22, 2022 1:44 pm God either exists or does not exist and one can either hold a belief in either of these or not.

Therefore the following four propositions can be defined (and these are the only four propositions that can be defined given the binary nature of the terms).

I do hold the belief that God exists.
I do NOT hold the belief that God exists.
I do hold the belief that God does NOT exist.
I do NOT hold the belief that God does NOT exist.

These can only be paired as follows (eliminating contradictory pairings)

1. I do hold the belief that God exists AND I do not hold the belief that God does NOT exist. (Theist)
2. I do NOT hold the belief that God exists AND I do NOT hold the belief that God does NOT exist. (Uncommitted)
3. I do NOT hold the belief that God exists AND I do hold the belief that God does NOT exist. (Atheist)

The "modern" atheist can only (that is, these are the only logical options) adopt 2. or 3. as their position, these are the only two (non-contradictory) positions that include "I do not hold the belief that God exists".

If they adopt 2. then their position is identical to "I do not know if God exists" and warrants no special term or bastardization of the existing term "atheist", saying "I don't know" or "I am uncommitted" is all that's needed, no fancy word play or Emperor's new clothes or other mumbo jumbo.

This position - uncommitted - is no more at odds with the theist than it is the atheist, it no more aligned with either of these two other positions, both the atheist and the theist are obliged to provide a rational argument for the beliefs they hold any beliefs they do not hold are completely irrelevant.

If they adopt 3. then their position is identical to the established meaning of "atheism" and they do assert "I do hold the belief that God does NOT exist" in which case they need to provide a rational argument for that belief.

This is the hard reality of this, this is where clumsily "redefining" atheism in this vacuous way is illogical and absurd yet the likes of Dawkins, Krauss et-al are simply not competent to understand this.
Sherlock Holmes probably do NOT holds the belief that Brahma, Reincarnation, Invisible immaterial extremely shy unicorns, YETI, Aliens, Strigois exists AND does hold the belief that Brahma, Reincarnation, Invisible immaterial extremely shy unicorns, YETI, Aliens, Strigois do NOT exist.

If yes he needs to provide a rational argument for that belief->disbelief.

Q: Do you hold the belief that Brahma, Reincarnation, Invisible immaterial extremely shy unicorns, YETI, Aliens, Strigois do NOT exist?(Yes/No)

Waiting for your answer. 8-)
Hope you will not avoid. :P
Indeed, one does (if one actually cares) have an obligation, at least to oneself, to be able to support any belief and I'm always willing to do that, in fact it was a lack of that when I was an atheist that first led me to realize how so few of us bother to do this, I have never done it for most of my atheist beliefs I held at that time and recognizing that fact was a very important lesson for me.

So you are asking me these questions:

Do I believe that any of these do not exist:

1. Brahma
2. Reincarnation
3. Invisible material
4. Shy unicorns
5. Yeti,
6. Aliens (extra terrestrial?)
7. Strigois

Well to answer these I must first ensure I establish exactly what it is that each terms represents, so may I ask can you supply the definitions for each of these, any definition will do even a made up one, but I do want to ensure as best I can that we are referring to identical things.

Once I have that I think I can take a stab at answering.
1. Brahma - God of Creation, knowledge and Vedas in Hinduism.

2. Reincarnation - Reincarnation is the religious(Hinduism) or philosophical belief that the soul or spirit, after biological death, begins a new life in a new body that may be human, animal or spiritual depending on the moral quality of the previous life's actions. The entire universal process, that gives rise to the cycle of death and rebirth, governed by karma, is referred to as “Samsara.”

3-4. Invisible immaterial extremely shy unicorn – a interdimensional powerful being the is not made of matter, energy, quantum fields from other dimension(non-material dimension=cacadimension) and its normally invisible in our dimension. Can theoretically interact with our dimension and make himself visible(his dimension permeates all existent dimensions(100 of them) at the most fundamental level) but it’s extremely shy and hides from everybody. Can travel to any point in time or space not being bound by time and space. He has revealed himself a few times in human history. Ergo the myth of the unicorn. But now its gotten extremely shy. Will not reveal himself anymore.

5. Yeti - The Yeti in Himalayan folklore, is an ape-like creature purported to inhabit the Himalayan mountain range in Asia. In western popular culture, the creature is commonly referred to as the Abominable Snowman. Supposed evidence of the Yeti's existence include anecdotal visual sightings, disputed video recordings, photographs, and casts of large footprints.

6. Aliens

The Greys-also referred to as Zeta Reticulans, Roswell Greys, or Grays, are purported extraterrestrial beings. They are frequent subjects of close encounters and alien abduction claims.

Reptilians-also called reptoids,[1] lizard people,[2] archons,[3] reptiloids, saurians, or draconians[4][5][6] – are supposed reptilian humanoids, which play a prominent role in fantasy, science fiction, ufology, and conspiracy theories.[7][8] The idea of reptilians was popularised by David Icke, a conspiracy theorist who claims shapeshifting reptilian aliens control Earth by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate human societies. Icke has stated on multiple occasions that many world leaders are, or are possessed by, so-called reptilians.

Anunnaki-an advanced humanoid extraterrestrial species from the undiscovered planet Nibiru, who came to Earth around 500,000 years ago and constructed a base of operations in order to mine gold after discovering that the planet was rich in the precious metal.
The Anunnaki: the aliens supossedly are the beings that inspired the deities of the ancient Sumerians, Akkadians, Assyrians and Babylonians.


7. Strigoi in Romanian mythology are troubled spirits(shape shifters) that are said to have risen from the grave.[1] They are attributed with the abilities to transform into an animal, become invisible, and to gain vitality from the blood of their victims. Bram Stoker's Dracula has become the modern interpretation of the Strigoi through their historic links with vampirism.


Almost all the above are believed to exist by certain humans who have professed they known of their existence because of encounters and sightings, personal experiences.
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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #54

Post by historia »

benchwarmer wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 8:29 am
There is a difference between "the assertion" and "the assertions I've heard so far".

In other words, the way you have worded it means you reject THE assertion (as if there is only one) that something exists. My point has been about the various assertions made by people claiming there is a god.
Yes, exactly! I think we should understand 'the assertion that X is true' to mean 'the proposition that X is true', rather than, say, 'arguments I've encountered for X'.
benchwarmer wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 8:29 am
From your wording, yes, if there is only one overall assertion your point makes sense. That, however, was not my point. Perhaps I missed this detail before.
Perhaps. Let me just take us back to the American Atheist statement that we were discussing:
American Atheists wrote:
Atheism . . . is simply a rejection of the assertion that there are gods.

Atheism is not a disbelief in gods.
It seems to me that, in any other forum discussing any other controversial issue -- abortion, global warming, election reform, etc. -- if some advocacy group said they 'simply reject the assertion that there is X' we would have no problem whatsoever recognizing that they disbelieve in X.

But, for some reason, when it comes to atheism, there is this extra epistemological dance we have to go through as some (but certainly not all!) atheists try to avoid using the word 'disbelief'. I'm still not sure why.
benchwarmer wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 8:29 am
Anyway, hopefully we are on the same page now.
Indeed!

And, for the record, while I do appreciate the critique that Sherlock and others have made about the broad definition of 'atheism' that has become popular in recent decades, I have no problem with you or others calling themselves atheists. I often use that term myself to describe any skeptic on this forum, just as a matter of convenience.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #55

Post by William »

"Lacking belief in gods" is as ambiguous as "having belief in gods". It is meaningless as a statement of position, either way.

It is easier to understand the position of anyone calling themselves an atheist, as being a personality who believes in materialism so for clarities sake, referring to them as materialists or non-theists cuts through any ambiguity associated with atheism as a position.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #56

Post by JoeyKnothead »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 11:14 am ...
Well to answer these I must first ensure I establish exactly what it is that each terms represents,
...
Says the guy who put up an OP demanding his definition is what we all oughta hold to :facepalm:
Discovery is finding things that exist.
Invention is using things discovered.

Create that path and engineer a metamorphosis.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #57

Post by JoeyKnothead »

William wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 9:20 pm "Lacking belief in gods" is as ambiguous as "having belief in gods". It is meaningless as a statement of position, either way.

It is easier to understand the position of anyone calling themselves an atheist, as being a personality who believes in materialism so for clarities sake, referring to them as materialists or non-theists cuts through any ambiguity associated with atheism as a position.
Can ya school me on what you mean by 'materialism'?

I ask on the implication of 'nonmaterialism'.

I'll offer that to me, I think there's a material world made of physical stuff.
Discovery is finding things that exist.
Invention is using things discovered.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #58

Post by Bust Nak »

Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sat Jan 22, 2022 1:44 pm It is incorrect actually, one can't just pick some term, redefine it and then say this is now the real meaning of the term.
I can, watch as I demonstrate: atheism is now defined as disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. This is the real meaning of the term.
I refuse to bend to your will on this, the definition of atheism whether you like it or not is established through precedent.
Too late for that, the boat has already sailed. Flew was successful at rebranding atheism, there is now a new precedent. This newer definition is popular enough to be listed in dictionary over the old "denial of God" definition.
If they adopt 2. then their position is identical to "I do not know if God exists" and warrants no special term or bastardization of the existing term "atheist", saying "I don't know" or "I am uncommitted" is all that's needed, no fancy word play or Emperor's new clothes or other mumbo jumbo.
But lots of theists also say "I don't know," I don't want to be lumped in with those guys. That's reason enough to warrant the "atheist" label.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #59

Post by William »

JoeyKnothead wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 11:26 pm
William wrote: Sun Jan 23, 2022 9:20 pm "Lacking belief in gods" is as ambiguous as "having belief in gods". It is meaningless as a statement of position, either way.

It is easier to understand the position of anyone calling themselves an atheist, as being a personality who believes in materialism so for clarities sake, referring to them as materialists or non-theists cuts through any ambiguity associated with atheism as a position.
Can ya school me on what you mean by 'materialism'?
1: a tendency to consider material possessions and physical comfort as more important than spiritual values.
2: the theory or belief that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications.
I ask on the implication of 'nonmaterialism'.
no such word - the nearest is "non-materialistic" being;
"not concerned with material possessions."
I'll offer that to me, I think there's a material world made of physical stuff.
I agree, but that is not what materialism means nor is it what being a materialist means.

If you are someone who has the belief that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications, you fit the description. I have not met anyone calling themselves 'atheist' who does not fit the description of a materialist.

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Re: To be clear: Atheism is not a disbelief in gods or a denial of gods; it is a lack of belief in gods.

Post #60

Post by Sherlock Holmes »

Bust Nak wrote: Mon Jan 24, 2022 7:58 am
Sherlock Holmes wrote: Sat Jan 22, 2022 1:44 pm It is incorrect actually, one can't just pick some term, redefine it and then say this is now the real meaning of the term.
I can, watch as I demonstrate: atheism is now defined as disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. This is the real meaning of the term.
The phrase "one can't just redefine X" is simply an informal way of saying "the definition of X is typically something established through precedent and not individual whim".

Try this for yourself, redefine "screw" to mean what "thanks" means today. Then spend the day saying "screw you" rather than "thank you" to all who deserve your thanks and report back here with the results.
Bust Nak wrote: Mon Jan 24, 2022 7:58 am
I refuse to bend to your will on this, the definition of atheism whether you like it or not is established through precedent.
Too late for that, the boat has already sailed. Flew was successful at rebranding atheism, there is now a new precedent. This newer definition is popular enough to be listed in dictionary over the old "denial of God" definition.
Flew was not successful because the definition has not been universally adopted, for example the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy do not define it that way, nor does the Journal of the Royal Institute of Philosophy.

Furthermore there are atheists who describe themselves thus and do use the correct, established definition - "there is no God" - and they are content with that position and definition, if you want to let them know that they are not real atheists then by all means do so.
Bust Nak wrote: Mon Jan 24, 2022 7:58 am
If they adopt 2. then their position is identical to "I do not know if God exists" and warrants no special term or bastardization of the existing term "atheist", saying "I don't know" or "I am uncommitted" is all that's needed, no fancy word play or Emperor's new clothes or other mumbo jumbo.
But lots of theists also say "I don't know," I don't want to be lumped in with those guys. That's reason enough to warrant the "atheist" label.
I care not with whom you do or do not desire to be "lumped in with" we're discussing the definition of "atheism" not your likes or dislikes.
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