"Atheists believe there is no God"

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TheBeardedDude
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Re: "Atheists believe there is no God"

Post #31

Post by TheBeardedDude »

wiploc wrote:
TheBeardedDude wrote: If I lack a belief in something, then I also believe it doesn't exist.
Is that a personal idiosyncrasy, or do you think it's how language works?

If I say "I don't believe X," I could be using a figure of speech, litotes, to mean "I believe not-X." Or I could be speaking literally, in which case you have no information about what I do believe. The listener gets to judge by context, and sometimes that can be hard.

Since "I don't believe X" can be ambiguous--specifically for that reason--the "I lack a belief" phrasing has come into use. The listener cannot hear "I lack a belief in X" and think she has heard "I have a belief in not-X."

The point and purpose of that phrasing is to avoid the confusion that you seem to be promoting.

The caveat here is that the latter statement ("I believe god does not exist") is really nothing more than a shortened and oversimplified version of: "I lack a belief in gods because of the paucity of evidence for them. As a consequence of this I do not believe gods are possible in our universe."
No. You're just making things up. The category "People who believe that gods do not exist" includes some of those you describe, but it also includes every other person who believes gods do not exist. And the category does not include everybody you describe. I met a guy in Texas who claimed that science had proved gods don't exist. He wasn't an atheist because of any "paucity of evidence"; he believed gods' nonexistence was proven.

The category of "People who believes that gods do not exist," includes some people you have excluded, and doesn't include everybody you included.
"Is that a personal idiosyncrasy, or do you think it's how language works?"

That is how definitions and the colloquial use of language work.

"If I say "I don't believe X," I could be using a figure of speech, litotes, to mean "I believe not-X." Or I could be speaking literally, in which case you have no information about what I do believe. The listener gets to judge by context, and sometimes that can be hard.

Since "I don't believe X" can be ambiguous--specifically for that reason--the "I lack a belief" phrasing has come into use. The listener cannot hear "I lack a belief in X" and think she has heard "I have a belief in not-X."

The point and purpose of that phrasing is to avoid the confusion that you seem to be promoting. "


And, as I said, people often oversimplify and shorten what they mean into simpler statements that don't accurately reflect their views/opinions/beliefs. Sometimes people do it to try and be more concise, sometimes they do it because they don't really want to discuss it, and sometimes they do it because a longer explanation would result in a argument of semantics (like this one).

I am not promoting confusion, please don't accuse me of such absurdities. I am trying to explain how one phrase ("I don't believe in god") is a derivation of a more complex and more accurate phrase ("I lack a belief in any and all gods because of the paucity of evidence for them as well as the logical contradictions their existence would imply with respect to what we know about how the universe works.")

"No. You're just making things up. The category "People who believe that gods do not exist" includes some of those you describe, but it also includes every other person who believes gods do not exist. And the category does not include everybody you describe. I met a guy in Texas who claimed that science had proved gods don't exist. He wasn't an atheist because of any "paucity of evidence"; he believed gods' nonexistence was proven.

The category of "People who believes that gods do not exist," includes some people you have excluded, and doesn't include everybody you included."


You should refrain from making blanket generalizations and accusations. These poorly flung attempts at insult don't make me want to converse with you and only serve to make me have little to no respect for you.

I am not making things up. I am explaining what some of us who don't believe in a god ascribe to and what we mean when we say certain things. At no point have I said or implied that I speak for all atheists and that all atheists agree with me. What I am saying is that people have VERY often misunderstood and misinterpreted what I have said when explaining myself. For instance, you are doing a great job of misunderstanding and misinterpreting.

As for the "Texas guy," I don't know his reasons and I don't particularly care. Why? There are two possibilities:
1) what you say about him is an accurate assessment of his beliefs and views on science and god. If this is correct then I'd be very likely to disagree with him because science doesn't and can't provide evidence of nonexistence, all it can show is a paucity of evidence and the contradictions that would be created.
2) you misunderstand what I have written here which means that the probability is high that you are misinterpreting him and his views. As a consequence of this, it is pointless to speculate on his reasoning and his evidence because it is (at best) a second-hand account from you.

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Blastcat
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Post #32

Post by Blastcat »

[Replying to post 30 by Monta]




[center]Debates as a learning tool[/center]


"So, maybe, Monta, you didn't believe until the RATIONAL kicked in, but it's possible that the rational fails to do the job that you really wanted it to do. Welcome to debates."
Monta wrote:
I know this is debate forum but no, I am not good at debating.
That's ok, you know.
We are all at different levels.

It's humility time for me:
I'm just learning how to debate.

I try a lot, and fail a lot.
And my mistakes teach me a lot.

So, that's ok...
I'm ok and you're ok.

Monta wrote:
I just drop in here and there with my current conviction.
It makes me think sharpens my personal views and of course pick up few gems from contributors.
That's a fine goal.
Being challenged strongly is a great way to learn and sharpen our "blades"..

That's what the Blastcat is here for, yo !

Monta wrote:
You say you'd be a theist if there was someone to convince you.
Of course.

I was a very fervent little believer when I started out with the skepticism .. A really "good" Catholic boy. I got the "A"s everybody wanted me to get.

I started my search for sound arguments since I was 12 ( with books ) .. and in fact, I can say that it started in church, when I was something like 6 ( by asking my parents what the sermons meant ) . Nothing seemed to make much sense.. I heard the WORDS, of course, I knew what people around me BELIEVED so very much... But when I thought about it, all I HAD were unanswered questions.

That's where I am still to this day.
Asking a tremendous amount of questions for which all kinds of religious answers do not make SENSE. I'm basically a lover, but I do insist on making SOME kind of sense out of my beliefs. So, if someone like yourself comes into my range... I tend to POUNCE... and ask and ask and ask.

I'm quite annoying with my multitudinous questions.

Monta wrote:
Perhaps talk to most unlkely people.....
Well, there you go.
You seem to be a MOST unlikely person :)

We should talk.

Monta wrote:
read most unlikely books...
I will never get to the end of MY reading list, I assure you.
I've been a voracious reader since I found out there was such a thing as "Public Library".. wow.. they lend you BOOKS !!!!!

And the internet can supply me with a ridiculous amount, that I can't even COUNT.

Monta wrote:
All you/we need is one line one sentance that makes sense to us.
I suppose that could be true.. problem for me is that... haven't heard it yet.
What seems to make SUCH good sense to believers doesn't make any sense to me at all. Christian debaters usually just get frustrated with me. A lot of them suspect that I'm not being serious at all... I get that all the time.

I make it worse by also JOKING from time to time, so that probably confuses a lot of people. Not all of my jokes are easy to understand.. I have a lot to learn.


:)

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McCulloch
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Post #33

Post by McCulloch »

When I say that I don't believe in God, I mean exactly that. If you were to take a set of all of the things that I believe to be true or probably true, the belief "God exists" is not in that set.
In this sense, being an ignostic, is a subset of being an atheist. I do not believe in God partly because the word God is not coherently defined enough to make a debate about god's existence meaningful.
Examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
First Epistle to the Church of the Thessalonians
The truth will make you free.
Gospel of John

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Blastcat
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Post #34

Post by Blastcat »

[Replying to post 33 by McCulloch]



[center]
Blastcat is quibbly[/center]

McCulloch wrote: When I say that I don't believe in God, I mean exactly that. If you were to take a set of all of the things that I believe to be true or probably true, the belief "God exists" is not in that set.
In this sense, being an ignostic, is a subset of being an atheist. I do not believe in God partly because the word God is not coherently defined enough to make a debate about god's existence meaningful.
I love to quibble about words:

SO, in that quibbly spirit, quibble I go:


I-gnostic sounds lot like A-gnostic

So, if anything, ignostic would be fitting more in the "gnostic" category, and not the "theist" category.

Quibble quibble quiiiiiiiible !

I so love to quibble.

:)

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William
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Post #35

Post by William »

Tired of the Nonsense wrote:

Simple Definition of atheist
: a person who believes that God does not exist
This is a common mistake made by believers who cannot conceive of the possibility that no God exists.
From my own interactions with those who self-identify as being "Athiests" the argument is also evident the other way around...iow
"An atheist cannot conceive of the possibility that any GOD exists."
In fact atheists do not believe in the existence of God...
Taken as is, that cannot be argued against. However, most atheist simply do not stop at that and prefer to dive into the whole argument more because they have various reasons for 'proving; that GOD does not exist, and in doing so they - perhaps inadvertently - build belief systems which support their preference to not believe that any GOD exists.

This is when atheism can correctly be defined as 'just another belief system.' although what has really happened is that certain types of atheists build subsets of atheism and within those subsets are where belief is to be found...so atheism has a default setting..."That position which lacks belief in GOD(s)" and its sub-sets branch off in various directions depending on the type of individual who self identifies as an 'atheist'.
...In the exact same way that most rational adults do not believe in the existence of Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. That is not a belief system at all. It is simple non belief.
The above example is clearly branching away from the default because it gives reasons for the individual lacking belief in GOD(s) which are unnecessary and are not very good analogies in relation to the subject of 'GOD'.

It can be argued that both Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny are obviously products of human invention but not so easily argued that GOD is, depending of course on how the particular GOD idea is defined.

Even the biblical GOD idea cannot so easily be hand-waved away by the likes of such 'argument', although it certainly can be shown to have been very likely manipulated by human infiltration in relation to political agenda.

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Post #36

Post by William »

[Replying to post 29 by Blastcat]
The reason that I am an atheist after all these years is because NONE of the apologist's arguments demonstrate that any god beliefs are true. If apologetic arguments were in any way CONVINCING, I'd be a theist. No question about that.
This is where the default position of atheism branches off into subsets.

One does not need to lack belief in GOD(s) because one has not been convinced GOD(s) actually exist.

Furthermore, when one demands some kind of evidence in order to be convinced but refrains from saying what evidence that would have to be, there leaves little to nothing to respond to.

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Post #37

Post by Blastcat »

[center]
The math of that.[/center]

William wrote:
The reason that I am an atheist after all these years is because NONE of the apologist's arguments demonstrate that any god beliefs are true. If apologetic arguments were in any way CONVINCING, I'd be a theist. No question about that.
This is where the default position of atheism branches off into subsets.

One does not need to lack belief in GOD(s) because one has not been convinced GOD(s) actually exist.

Furthermore, when one demands some kind of evidence in order to be convinced but refrains from saying what evidence that would have to be, there leaves little to nothing to respond to.
Those are two very interesting comments and I'd like to respond to both:

1. Different kinds of atheism
2. What kind of evidence it would take.

_______________

Part 1: Different kinds of atheism.


Well, there are about as many kinds of ideas about atheism as there are atheists. That's just the way philosophical positions are.. people interpret them ... and have ideas about them, and argue about them, and do finding that they need to qualify them. The English language is like that.. the more precise we want to be, the more words we have to use.

For example, Richard Dawkins has a 7 point scale of atheism.. from weak (1 ) to strong ( 7 ) ...

And if pressed, I have to qualify MY kind of atheism as "agnostic atheism". Weird, but true. And then, I have to explain what that means. Lately, I found the label "agnostic" less problematical with the theists in here.... Some of them kind of go bonkers at the word "atheist".

But, if they ask, they would go just as bonkers over my "agnostic atheism"....

In philosophical debates, I've become quite the stickler for rigorous language. I can't tolerate vagueness. If something is vague to me.. I usually fire off a question such as : "What do you mean by X, Y or Z ?"

There's no point at all for me to debate or discuss something that I don't even understand. I might as well try to debate my dog.

So, I am a bit confused right now as to what you meant by this statement:

" One does not need to lack belief in GOD(s) because one has not been convinced GOD(s) actually exist."

I NEVER believe or disbelieve because of a need... I either believe something or I don't. No "need" needed... if that makes sense to you.

As soon as I am convinced of something.. I believe it.
________________


Let's see if I can describe this in general terms:

By P1, I will mean "Being convinced"
By P2, I will mean "Holding a belief"

So, I'm saying that being convinced of something I take to be true is the same thing as believing that it is true. In other words, "being convinced" and "believing" have equivalent meanings in English, as far as I know.

IF Being convinced = Holding a belief. have the same meaning, the proposition that they do can be transcribed as

(P1 = P2)

Where P1 is being convinced and P2 is holding a belief.


If the proposition ( P1 = P2 ) is true, then

NOT being convinced = NOT holding a belief.[/b ]and can be transcribed as

(~P1 = ~P2)

Where ~P1 means not being convinced, and ~P2 means not holding a belief.

The thing about using P1 and P2, is that they can stand in for any sentence.. any "proposition" if you want. All I'm really saying so far ( because I use these symbols in a future argument ) is to set up a condition where two English sentences have the same meaning.

All you have to do for now, is to agree, that in the English language, Being convinced = Holding a belief, and "Bob's your uncle".

I will stop here.. this stuff gets "Greek to me" real quick.
Lets see if you agree that "Being convinced = Holding a belief" rings true to you.

And if you don't want to continue with this kind of thing.. just let me know somehow. Not everyone loves propositional logic ... It's like math.

But if you allow me to demonstrate the "math" of it, you should be able to see how the argument that atheists must believe there are no gods is false.

Or, at least, that's my hope.

________________

Ok, I'm done with part 1.

________________


2.2. What kind of evidence it would take.

Part two concerns itself with this statement:

"Furthermore, when one demands some kind of evidence in order to be convinced but refrains from saying what evidence that would have to be, there leaves little to nothing to respond to."

I think that's a very fair observation, but it's a little bit wrong. In my opinion, you are "almost there", but not quite. I don't think you have gone far enough in your criticism.

1. As an agnostic and a skeptic, I do demand evidence in order to believe that something is true. When it comes to an important question such as "Is there a "God", I double down on that demand. The more important questions are, the more I want to be rigorous. This aint time to get sloppy.
2. I have no choice at all to "refrain from saying what evidence that would have to be", since I do not know what it could possibly be. If I knew that in advance, I would look for it myself.
3. One of the reasons that I have become an agnostic and a skeptic about all matters religious is that the "evidence" that I have been provided so far was useless. Didn't help me at all. Most of the time, I end up not even understanding what people tell me.. and when I do.. a lot of the time, sad to say.. I'm being told I need faith. I think that using faith is putting the cart before the horse. So, that won't do for me. And apologetic arguments so far have all failed to convince me in any way.
4. Matt Dillahunty often says that if there IS an all-knowing god out there who wants me to "Get it".. he or she would know precisely what kind of evidence it would take. I don't think I'd have to ASK theists about it at all.. I'd be "enlightened" somehow, and convert on the spot, I suppose.
5. I honestly think it's really futile to ask someone for what she cannot provide. I don't know what "kind" of evidence in advance would convince me of a god or a goddess. Maybe some really good magic? I'm not sure. I don't know.
6. So, when I keep insisting on evidence, it's just my way of explaining why I cannot believe in a hypothesis.. I don't believe in any gods or goddesses because I just don't have any evidence for any gods or goddesses. I keep demanding, just in case[/b]. I want to keep my mind open to the possibility that I have been wrong.
7. I think you aren't thinking far enough in your skepticism.. Your skepticism is fine UP TO A POINT.. and then, like most theists.. it stops suddenly. I don't have those automatic breaks ... I can keep going where apologists don't seem to dare tread.



Cheers.

:)

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Re: "Atheists believe there is no God"

Post #38

Post by wiploc »

TheBeardedDude wrote: You should refrain from making blanket generalizations and accusations. These poorly flung attempts at insult don't make me want to converse with you and only serve to make me have little to no respect for you.
We're done here.

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Post #39

Post by Rufus21 »

William wrote: However, most atheist simply do not stop at that and prefer to dive into the whole argument more because they have various reasons for 'proving; that GOD does not exist, and in doing so they - perhaps inadvertently - build belief systems which support their preference to not believe that any GOD exists.
I'm sure some atheists are like that - they are only trying to prove themselves right instead of trying to find the truth. I have never seen one like that. In many cases atheists are still actively trying to find God and will accept any valid evidence at all.

An atheists sees a lack of evidence for God's existence and sees lots of contrary evidence that refutes such an existence. Perhaps they can conceive many different possibilities or explanations for things where a theist only sees one. Being open-minded would be the opposite of conforming to a belief system.

On the other hand, the evidence that theists present is always reliant upon interpretation and a biased viewpoint. In some cases, the evidence can actually be used to prove the opposite side of the argument. Because of this, there is often disagreement between theists themselves. This is evidence of a faith that favors one set of beliefs over all others.

When evidence only supports a conclusion through a certain viewpoint, and can be refuted by other viewpoints, that is what I would call a belief system. A lack of belief is not a belief system.

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Re: "Atheists believe there is no God"

Post #40

Post by TheBeardedDude »

[Replying to post 38 by wiploc]

Fair enough. If all you have to offer are thinly veiled insults, then we are indeed done.

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