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ergo123
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810 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  07:27:19  Show Profile Send ergo123 a Private Message
I have long been an ardent agnostic who thought it took as much faith to be sure theree was no god as it did to believe there was.

The error of my ways--which I discovered while reading The God Delusion (by Richard Dawkins)--was in assuming the only other position was the agnostic's "we'll just never know..." pov.

But within the first 50 or so pages of his latest book, Dawkins point out the role science and what it brings to the issue--namely consideration of how probable the god hypothesis really is.

Sure, Dawkins admits, we can't prove god doesn't exist, but we can't prove the flying sgaghetti monster doesn't exist either--yet no agnostic believes the FSM really exists. Nor do they--or even theists--believe in Thor, Zeus, etc. Towards all those gods everyone is an atheist.

Dawkins argues that agnostics should go one god more and admit that they are athists--not to the hilt of faith there is no god, but to the level of finding the judeo-christion-muslim god as improbable as Thor, unicorns, etc.

Thoughts?

No witty quotes. I think for myself.

Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  07:53:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
We've had many threads on this. Many of us accept the definition of atheism as being a lack of belief in god(s) and agnosticism as being a lack of knowledge of god(s). One can therefore be an atheist and an agnostic at once.

However, some of us are atheists in every way. I can say with certainty that Jehovah, the tribal war god, and any other god that I've ever heard of, does not and do not exist.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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ergo123
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810 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  10:45:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ergo123 a Private Message
I'm there on a practical level. But I'm having difficulty being certain on a theoretical level.

Are you certain on both levels?

No witty quotes. I think for myself.
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  12:14:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
If you take the simple position science cannot disprove gods, then you can remain agnostic. But to be true to that position you have to also remain agnostic to the possibility of flying spaghetti monsters and invisible pink unicorns. Since I have no need to disprove invisible unicorns to state with reasonable certainty unless further evidence presents itself, they don't exist, then I can say the same about gods. Unless further evidence presents itself, gods do not need to be scientifically disproved for me to state with reasonable certainty they do not exist.

But to reach that conclusion, I took the available evidence about beliefs in gods and can also state with reasonable certainty that the best explanation for the overwhelming evidence available regarding gods, is gods are a human construct and there has been no evidence to date gods are real.

I have no qualms about being an atheist. And while many are agnostic for scientific purity (cannot prove a negative in this case) I can't help thinking some are agnostic because they can't let go of that little superstitious twinge "what if".

Dawkins had a good answer to the question, "What if you are wrong?" He said one could ask the equally reasonable question back, "What if you are worshiping the wrong god?"





Edited by - beskeptigal on 11/19/2006 12:15:30
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ergo123
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810 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  12:21:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ergo123 a Private Message
Right. I'm at the 'reasonaby certain' stage--but not 100% certain. From a practical standpoint I don't believe gods exist. But I don't think we can know anything for 100% certain. I guess, then, I'm as certain as certain can be.

No witty quotes. I think for myself.
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marfknox
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USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  12:33:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
Dawkins is right if we are to use reason and logic exclusively to decide what we believe about God. I do think that way myself, and that is why I've been an atheist since I was 19. However, few believers claim to be using reason and logic to come to their conclusions. Most accept some variation of the idea of a sort of sixth sense - faith. They have spiritual experience, such as Julia Sweeney explains in the beginning of her monologue "Letting Go of God". Sweeney eventually came to be an atheist because she basically thinks like a rationalist and went through a whole process of learning more about her own religion of Catholicism, and then other alternative religions, and finally landed on atheism. And she'll stay there unless she stops thinking like a rationalist. The question isn't whether atheism is the most rational or logical conclusion, it is whether rationalism is the only method for discovering the truth about so-called "spiritual" matters. While I personally come to the same conclusions as Dawkins, I refuse to be so self-righteous as to pass harsh judgement against anyone who has religious faith. There is nothing wrong with faith in-of-itself. Just as there is no evidence that any one religion makes someone a kinder or happier person, there is no evidence that atheism makes one kinder or happier. And kindness and happiness are both far more significant than having a purely rational worldview. I think Dawkins is crusading against the wrong "evils".

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  12:38:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message
I should add that on some level, I feel my atheism is partially due to a sort of weakness of character. I am not completely comfortable with the unknown, and being a firm atheist allows me to feel some comfort and sureness, regardless of whether I am actually right or not. I highly respect agnosticism, and I often think it is the most brave and intellectually honest stance to take on these matters. I find it sad and rather pathetic that people like Dawkins and Sam Harris are now turning on their own and attacking agnosticism.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  13:18:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message
I can respect people who believe in gods but I don't have any issue with my certainty they are wrong. It isn't a matter of self-righteousness. It is a matter of living in an evidence based world. With evidence, religion has an explanation and it isn't real gods. But contrary to being self-righteous about my convictions, new evidence is always emerging or being discovered which requires adjustments in one's world view. I don't know everything and anyone might be right and I wrong.

However, that doesn't include beliefs based on myths and faith. It would be the same taking evolution, for example. If some new evidence emerged that required a whole paradigm shift re evolution, then one would shift views. But being unlikely to occur, I'm not being self-righteous to have certainty the theory of evolution is right. Rather, it is the fact the evidence has reached a point of overwhelmingly supporting evolution as the mechanism of how life changes on Earth.

Just as it was time to disregard the Sun and planets orbiting the Earth, the flat Earth, the 6,000 year old Earth, and Creation, I think it's more than time to disregard the myths about and beliefs in gods.

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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13462 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  13:24:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by marfknox

I should add that on some level, I feel my atheism is partially due to a sort of weakness of character. I am not completely comfortable with the unknown, and being a firm atheist allows me to feel some comfort and sureness, regardless of whether I am actually right or not. I highly respect agnosticism, and I often think it is the most brave and intellectually honest stance to take on these matters. I find it sad and rather pathetic that people like Dawkins and Sam Harris are now turning on their own and attacking agnosticism.

I think the problem is those guys see agnostics as fence sitters, which may be the case sometimes. But most of the agnostics I know see no fence to sit on. It isn't a matter of being undecided. It's more a matter of why even go there? Without sufficient provocation (evidence) there really isn't much to talk about other than how we personally define ourselves in the way that seems the most accurate to us.

I identify as agnostic and am completely aware that I am also an atheist.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  13:35:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by ergo123

I'm there on a practical level. But I'm having difficulty being certain on a theoretical level.

Are you certain on both levels?



I don't need to be certain to lack a belief in anything. I try not to believe anything. I try to think instead. I see no reason to think there is a god.

As far as Jehovah, I see no reason to consider such an animal, just as I see no reason to consider Zeus. Am I certain they don't exist. Sure. Why would I not be? I mean, as certain as I am about anything. Can I be 100% certain that gravity exists? I suppose not, but I'm not going to jump off a 70 story building because I lack 100% certainty.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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ergo123
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810 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  15:14:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ergo123 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Gorgo

quote:
Originally posted by ergo123

I'm there on a practical level. But I'm having difficulty being certain on a theoretical level.

Are you certain on both levels?



I don't need to be certain to lack a belief in anything. I try not to believe anything. I try to think instead. I see no reason to think there is a god.

As far as Jehovah, I see no reason to consider such an animal, just as I see no reason to consider Zeus. Am I certain they don't exist. Sure. Why would I not be? I mean, as certain as I am about anything. Can I be 100% certain that gravity exists? I suppose not, but I'm not going to jump off a 70 story building because I lack 100% certainty.



Exactly. That's what I mean by being certain 'for all practical purposes.' I live my life without referencing or thinking or praising a god. But like beskeptigal, I remain open to new evidence--or, in the case of gods, any evidence!

I do find beskeptigal's pov summed up in "Just as it was time to disregard the Sun and planets orbiting the Earth, the flat Earth, the 6,000 year old Earth, and Creation, I think it's more than time to disregard the myths about and beliefs in gods," compelling.

Now, I haven't finished Dawkins' book, nor have I read Harris' (I am reading Harris' follow-up booklet Letter to a Christian Nation). But I understand the premise of each book is similar--I've heard Harris and Dawkins speak on their books.

Dawkins makes the distinction between being agnostic about issues that have no knowable answer (like is the blue you see in your brain the same as the blue I see in my brain) and issues that have no known answer as of yet, but for which an answer is possible to know in the future (like the existance of god--as god could choose to reveal himself to us all and prove his/her/its existence).

Dawkins (and I presume Harris, as well), chide those agnostics, who, like I used to, believe the only response to "we just don't know about whether there is or is not a god yet" is to act as if the odds of god's existence are = to the odds of non-existence. It is clear to me now that the odds are not equal and favor the non-existence of god. They point out that this speck of uncertainty that I and others have, is no reason to not consider one's self an Atheist.

They are so adamant and outspoken about this issue because the 50/50 agnostics tend to take an "it's no skin off my nose if my neighbor believes in god," and put no pressure on religious folks to defend their beliefs.

Their issue with this live-and-let-live attitude is that many religious folks are hell-bent on killing those who don't believe in their god--and that religion in general is at the root of much of the suffering in the world.

Dawkins (at least) sees no end to the suffering in the world as long as people believe in the myths of religion and let these beliefs in the supernatural frame their thinking and guide their behavior.

It's an interesting and provocative perspective.

No witty quotes. I think for myself.
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ergo123
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810 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  15:21:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ergo123 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Kil

quote:
Originally posted by marfknox

I should add that on some level, I feel my atheism is partially due to a sort of weakness of character. I am not completely comfortable with the unknown, and being a firm atheist allows me to feel some comfort and sureness, regardless of whether I am actually right or not. I highly respect agnosticism, and I often think it is the most brave and intellectually honest stance to take on these matters. I find it sad and rather pathetic that people like Dawkins and Sam Harris are now turning on their own and attacking agnosticism.

I think the problem is those guys see agnostics as fence sitters, which may be the case sometimes.


I don't think they see agnostics as fense-sitters as much as they see agnostics as unwilling to acknowledge that they are Atheists in terms of an infinite number of things one cannot prove, but remain "agnostic" when it comes to the world's primary religions' gods. It seems to be this inconsistancy Dawkins (at least) is poking at.



quote:
But most of the agnostics I know see no fence to sit on. It isn't a matter of being undecided. It's more a matter of why even go there? Without sufficient provocation (evidence) there really isn't much to talk about other than how we personally define ourselves in the way that seems the most accurate to us.


Their reason to go there is as pointed out above.

No witty quotes. I think for myself.
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skeptic griggsy
Skeptic Friend

USA
77 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  15:24:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit skeptic griggsy's Homepage Send skeptic griggsy a Private Message
Right , fellow skeptics! I am an agnostic,stronf atheist, non-theist and ignostic- God is an empty word.]. I find that theists just regurgitate the same old arguments that we have to clean up after ! Here evidence of absence is indeed absence of evidence and no argument from ignorance .

Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism. Logic is the bane of theists.Religion is mythinformation. Reason saves, not a dead Galilean fanatic.
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skeptic griggsy
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USA
77 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  15:33:21   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit skeptic griggsy's Homepage Send skeptic griggsy a Private Message
Sorry for the spelling.I salute Paul Kurtz for his writings on skepticism and atheism,particularly his "The Transcendent Temptation" where he takes on the supernatural and its twin the paranormal .I also salute Jonathan Harrisson , Jordan Howard Sobel, John Mackie , Michael Martin , George Smith ,Quentin Smith and Robind LePoidevin. We are lucky to have such able writers for atheism.

Fr. Griggs rests in his Socratic ignorance and humble naturalism. Logic is the bane of theists.Religion is mythinformation. Reason saves, not a dead Galilean fanatic.
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Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  15:38:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message
I am agnostic, and an atheist.

I'm agnostic because it seems to be the only position defensible by logic. There is no evidence for any god/s, therefore god claims are meaning-free. God claims add nothing to anything. There is, literally (in the utter absence of evidence) nothing to talk about beyond the wild imaginings of other people who make the god claims.

I'm an atheist because all claims presented without evidence may be dismissed. If you have no evidence, then you have no claim. I do not find myself inclined to entertain speculative fantasy as reality. Why should I give more credence to claims of gods than I give to claims of the IPU, gravity-fairies, dragons, gremlins, cattle mutilating aliens, controlled demolition of the WTC, homeopathy, or any of the countless number of things people imagine to be true?


Ignorance is preferable to error; and he is less remote from the truth who believes nothing, than he who believes what is wrong.
-- Thomas Jefferson

"god :: the last refuge of a man with no answers and no argument." - G. Carlin

Hope, n.
The handmaiden of desperation; the opiate of despair; the illegible signpost on the road to perdition. ~~ da filth
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ergo123
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810 Posts

Posted - 11/19/2006 :  16:05:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ergo123 a Private Message
quote:
Originally posted by Dude

I am agnostic, and an atheist.

I'm agnostic because it seems to be the only position defensible by logic. There is no evidence for any god/s, therefore god claims are meaning-free. God claims add nothing to anything. There is, literally (in the utter absence of evidence) nothing to talk about beyond the wild imaginings of other people who make the god claims.

I'm an atheist because all claims presented without evidence may be dismissed. If you have no evidence, then you have no claim. I do not find myself inclined to entertain speculative fantasy as reality. Why should I give more credence to claims of gods than I give to claims of the IPU, gravity-fairies, dragons, gremlins, cattle mutilating aliens, controlled demolition of the WTC, homeopathy, or any of the countless number of things people imagine to be true?





It sounds like you and kil want to have things both ways.

I'm having trouble understanding how you can be an agnostic atheist. Could either of you explain that further? Do you believe the odds of gods existance are 50/50? Can one be an agnostic theist?

No witty quotes. I think for myself.
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