Skeptic Friends Network

Username:
Password:
Save Password
Forgot your Password?
Home | Forums | Active Topics | Active Polls | Register | FAQ | Contact Us  
  Connect: Chat | SFN Messenger | Buddy List | Members
Personalize: Profile | My Page | Forum Bookmarks  
 All Forums
 Our Skeptic Forums
 Religion
 Atheist/Agnostic
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Next Page
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic
Page: of 7

Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  08:50:00  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One of the few labels that I actually give myself is "Atheist". I never had to decide between calling myself atheist or agnostic.

I kind of understand the philosophy behind why some people call themselves "Agnostic" instead of "Atheist" but I would like to understand better.

For those of you who are either atheist or agnostic what made you decide to call yourself what you do?


Edited because I never use spellcheck! Why didn't you guys yell at me for mispelling Atheist in the title?!

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring

Edited by - Ebone4rock on 08/17/2010 17:47:30

chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  08:59:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I call myself agnostic for philosophical rigor. However I usually qualify it as Russell did...that to most I would look and act more or less the same as an atheist. I use the term atheist towards myself only in terms of specific and particular god claims, you tell me what you believe and how it works, and I may be able (upon reflection) to say I don't believe in that. Otherwise it seems a bit of a stretch. I can't be asked to rule out all the possible claims in one fell swoop, that would be temerarious.
Go to Top of Page

Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  10:02:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
An agnostic is an atheist. Atheism simply means an absence of belief in a deity. It does not mean that you think there is evidence that excludes a deity, just that you don't think there is one based on the current evidence.

Agnostic, the word, is redundant. It was coined because of the very negative associations attached to the word atheist by the ruling religions of the day.

Some people, like chef, say that it is a more philosophically tenable word, but it really means the same thing as atheist. No belief in a deity.


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
Go to Top of Page

Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  10:13:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Dude


Some people, like chef, say that it is a more philosophically tenable word, but it really means the same thing as atheist. No belief in a deity.




Understood. Just trying to understand better why some choose one over the other. I choose "Atheist" because above all I am a practical man and I don't want to confuse anyone. To many people who don't really understand the difference "Agnostic" can mean that a person is not sure whether they beleive in God or not. Wrong, I know, but that confusion does exist.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
Go to Top of Page

Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  10:18:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
BTW, have any of you heard of the dyslexic agnostic who spends his time wondering " Is there a dog?".

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
Go to Top of Page

filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  10:52:41   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Shall I say it again? It would probably bring me yet another firm rebuke from Dave W and possibly some strong language from the membership; not to mention pissing off some of our loyal lurkers. Damn, with all that going for it, how can I not?

"An Agnostic is no more than an Atheist who lacks the courage of his convictions!"

(Returns to chair by way of the gun rack.)




"What luck for rulers that men do not think." -- Adolf Hitler (1889 - 1945)

"If only we could impeach on the basis of criminal stupidity, 90% of the Rethuglicans and half of the Democrats would be thrown out of office." ~~ P.Z. Myres


"The default position of human nature is to punch the other guy in the face and take his stuff." ~~ Dude

Brother Boot Knife of Warm Humanitarianism,

and Crypto-Communist!

Edited by - filthy on 08/16/2010 17:11:55
Go to Top of Page

Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  11:06:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by filthy

Shall I say it again? It would probably bring me yet another firm rebuke from Dave W and possibly some strong language from the membership; not to mention pissing off some of our loyal lurkers. Damn, with all that on the going for it, how can I not?

"An Agnostic is no more than an Atheist who lacks the courage of his convictions!"

(Returns to chair by way of the gun rack.)






Filthy,
I feel the exact same way but I don't want to offend any potential allies. In fact I have a little saying that is very close to yours. " An Agnostic is an Atheist who just doesn't have the balls to say so"

I shall now join you in the doghouse.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
Go to Top of Page

astropin
SFN Regular

USA
970 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  11:30:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send astropin a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm with Dude(and filthy)on this one.

I would rather face a cold reality than delude myself with comforting fantasies.

You are free to believe what you want to believe and I am free to ridicule you for it.

Atheism:
The result of an unbiased and rational search for the truth.

Infinitus est numerus stultorum
Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  12:17:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Thomas Huxley's coinage of the term "agnostic" is practically indistinguishable from today's "weak" atheism: where is the evidence for a god?

In popular use today, however, "atheism" implies the steadfast rejection of all possible gods (with all the dogmatic and irrational baggage such a position implies, also known as "strong" atheism), while "agnostic" is a wishy-washy, in-between "I just don't know" position, which is a lot more acceptable to the religious because it implies an "open mind."

Currently, there is a large and unorganized campaign to take "atheism" back for "weak" atheists, as you'll find plenty of people objecting to the religious' claims that atheists are just as faithful as they. The main objection being, "no, 'atheist' just means that I've seen no evidence for a god, so I don't believe in any." But in that sense, Huxley's agnosticism is synonymous with atheism.

Still other people (myself included at one point in time) are trying to take the words back to their roots, especially in this day-and-age, when "spiritual" people claim they're not "religious." In this sense, "atheism" means "without belief in god" and "agnostic" means "without spiritual knowledge," and the two aren't really dependent upon each other. If you don't have faith because you don't have knowledge, you're an "agnostic atheist." If you have faith but deny knowledge, you might be an "agnostic theist." If you think you've got spiritual knowledge that god doesn't exist, you're a "gnostic atheist." Etc. Since I don't think these distinctions will ever really catch on, I've left them for championing by those more anal-retentive than I.

I'm an agnostic in the Huxley sense; that is to say I'll be an atheist until someone comes up with compelling evidence for some god or other. The terms are interchangeable, but I use "atheist" (especially when I have to explain it to non-skeptics) simply for the political changes that will proceed from more and more people who simply live as if there's no god openly calling themselves "atheist" and demonstrating through actions and words that we're not evil haters through-and-through.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  13:07:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Dave, I didn't realize that there is a campaign right now to take back the "Atheism" moniker. I shall join the fight. (although I doubt either side will want me)

I guess I was being kind of a pussy starting this thread. What I really wanted to say was " Why don't Agnostics just call themselves Atheists? It's time to shit or get off the pot!"

Thanks to Filthy for being the first one to hit the nail on the head and understanding exactly what I was getting at.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
Go to Top of Page

Dave W.
Info Junkie

USA
25973 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  14:08:45   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Dave W.'s Homepage Send Dave W. a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ebone4rock

Dave, I didn't realize that there is a campaign right now to take back the "Atheism" moniker.
As I said, it's unorganized. But now that you're aware of it, you'll see it going on at all sorts of blogs and forums that deal with these issues.
I shall join the fight. (although I doubt either side will want me)
Awww... I do.
I guess I was being kind of a pussy starting this thread. What I really wanted to say was " Why don't Agnostics just call themselves Atheists? It's time to shit or get off the pot!"
Because with the common meanings of the two words, agnostics aren't atheists. To the average Joe, all of the words are active. Atheists actively disbelieve in god, while theists actively believe. Agnostics are "on the fence" and can't make up their minds about which way to go, but picking one or the other is the ultimate "goal" in these peoples' minds.

Since language is largely defined by usage, these meanings are "correct" because they're wildly popular and so "why don't agnostics just call themselves atheists" doesn't make much sense (it's like asking "why don't we just call oranges 'apples'?"). It's only when we get into the subtler meanings (which aren't in use nearly as much) does "agnostic" become synonymous with "atheist" and people choose which label to use based upon how much historical baggage they'd like to be loaded with. Some of us are trying to get these more nuanced definitions to be more popular, though, not least because it'll be a big milestone for atheists when some poll or other finds that more people identify "atheism" with nothing more than a lack of belief in god than with Christ-hating and baby-eating.
Thanks to Filthy for being the first one to hit the nail on the head and understanding exactly what I was getting at.
Oh, I knew what you were getting at, and I was trying to explain the context.

- Dave W. (Private Msg, EMail)
Evidently, I rock!
Why not question something for a change?
Visit Dave's Psoriasis Info, too.
Go to Top of Page

chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  16:51:25   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What Is an agnostic?
An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned. Or, if not impossible, at least impossible at the present time.
Are agnostics atheists?

No. An atheist, like a Christian, holds that we can know whether or not there is a God. The Christian holds that we can know there is a God; the atheist, that we can know there is not. The Agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or for denial. At the same time, an Agnostic may hold that the existence of God, though not impossible, is very improbable; he may even hold it so improbable that it is not worth considering in practice. In that case, he is not far removed from atheism. His attitude may be that which a careful philosopher would have towards the gods of ancient Greece. If I were asked to prove that Zeus and Poseidon and Hera and the rest of the Olympians do not exist, I should be at a loss to find conclusive arguments. An Agnostic may think the Christian God as improbable as the Olympians; in that case, he is, for practical purposes, at one with the atheists.


http://www.atheistempire.com/mm_dl/text/Russell,%20Bertrand%20-%20What%20is%20an%20Agnostic.pdf

As a very out gay man, living in a 12 year long committed and loving monogamous relationship, as a person who has spoken freely and frankly about years of sexual abuse suffered by priests, as a person who has shared with everyone his young adult meth addiction, as a person who has stated all these things and argued fiercely against organized god belief in the op-ed pages under my own name...I doubt it is cowardice that compels me to use the term agnostic but I could be biased...

And based on the dictionary (the compendium of common use):

agnostic
noun
a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God or of anything beyond material phenomena; a person who claims neither faith nor disbelief in God.

atheism
noun
the theory or belief that God does not exist.

theism
noun
belief in the existence of a god or gods, esp. belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to his creatures. Compare with deism .

To me the whole discussion centers on epistemology. If you posit that we can know something about something that is not of this material world, your epistemology goes a step further from mine into the supernatural. Even if it is the denial of the supernatural. All I can say about the supernatural is what I can say about deism as well. That is that without natural proof, it is a boring bit of mental masturbation at bets, and likely (as we are social animals) the spreading of a meme of belief, as if it were fact, that can not be supported by evidence.

I may be confusing the believers (and some atheists too) but if that is their position it appears they were confused already without me.

ETA: Many edits, for I have sinned.
Edited by - chefcrsh on 08/16/2010 17:08:41
Go to Top of Page

Ebone4rock
SFN Regular

USA
894 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  17:38:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ebone4rock a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What Is an agnostic?
An agnostic thinks it impossible to know the truth in matters such as God and the future life with which Christianity and other religions are concerned. Or, if not impossible, at least impossible at the present time.
Are agnostics atheists?

No. An atheist, like a Christian, holds that we can know whether or not there is a God. The Christian holds that we can know there is a God; the atheist, that we can know there is not. The Agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or for denial. At the same time, an Agnostic may hold that the existence of God, though not impossible, is very improbable; he may even hold it so improbable that it is not worth considering in practice. In that case, he is not far removed from atheism. His attitude may be that which a careful philosopher would have towards the gods of ancient Greece. If I were asked to prove that Zeus and Poseidon and Hera and the rest of the Olympians do not exist, I should be at a loss to find conclusive arguments. An Agnostic may think the Christian God as improbable as the Olympians; in that case, he is, for practical purposes, at one with the atheists.




This is where I come to the point to call bullshit. Atheists are not claiming to know something that is not of the material world. Using this logic any bullshit claim would have to be handled in the same manner and I'm not willing to go as far as to keep it open to possibility. Bullshit is bullshit, a line has to be drawn somewhere.

Haole with heart, thats all I'll ever be. I'm not a part of the North Shore society. Stuck on the shoulder, that's where you'll find me. Digging for scraps with the kooks in line. -Offspring
Go to Top of Page

Machi4velli
SFN Regular

USA
854 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  19:38:26   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Machi4velli a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ebone4rock
This is where I come to the point to call bullshit. Atheists are not claiming to know something that is not of the material world. Using this logic any bullshit claim would have to be handled in the same manner and I'm not willing to go as far as to keep it open to possibility. Bullshit is bullshit, a line has to be drawn somewhere.

Why? It's not really keeping it open to possibility in any practically meaningful sense. I would say something more like, "I don't know, but I have no reason to believe it's true, and it seems rather unlikely." I don't have to claim to know absolutely because I really don't.

This is not the same as giving the idea any credibility: no one has accepted any claim or given any claim any sort of support.

To get credibility, we may need to pull out the "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" quote. Anyone who doesn't give this evidence yet persists in claiming something is true still has no validity, even though we have not discarded their claim outright.

"Truth does not change because it is, or is not, believed by a majority of the people."
-Giordano Bruno

"The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge."
-Stephen Hawking

"Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable"
-Albert Camus
Go to Top of Page

chefcrsh
Skeptic Friend

Hong Kong
380 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  19:54:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send chefcrsh a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Ebone4rock

[quote]WBullshit is bullshit, a line has to be drawn somewhere.


Yes and an agnostic draws that line in the epistemological sand at what can be known. So far we can only know about part of the material world but humans can and do guess and imagine at many more things.

To be a rigorous scientific skeptic we must be willing to either weigh all claims individually before making a decision or be willing to suspend judgement until we can weigh the claims. Ben Radford & Joe Nickel. do this every single time they investigate a claim of paranormal. They do not say because of the Xteenth previous times this must also be bullshit, they investigate and then weigh in. And by the way not with calling bullshit in their case, but with more plausible explanations.

In my case when someone asks me if I believe in god, I do not say no, I ask if they can describe it. Usually they do such a poor job that I still can't say no, but rather that their description is unintelligible. With some rigorously devout who have a deep definition of a god I can say I doubt much of their claims about the god in question and so no I do not believe in it. But to my mind and in full congruence with the rules of logic I can not be an honest skeptic and still dismiss any basket of claims outright.



Go to Top of Page

Dude
SFN Die Hard

USA
6891 Posts

Posted - 08/16/2010 :  20:34:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Dude a Private Message  Reply with Quote
chef said:
To me the whole discussion centers on epistemology. If you posit that we can know something about something that is not of this material world, your epistemology goes a step further from mine into the supernatural. Even if it is the denial of the supernatural. All I can say about the supernatural is what I can say about deism as well. That is that without natural proof, it is a boring bit of mental masturbation at bets, and likely (as we are social animals) the spreading of a meme of belief, as if it were fact, that can not be supported by evidence.

I'm not sure it goes so far as epistemology. I'm thinking that it is more along the lines of semantics. Simple word definitions.

To me "supernatural" is a self contradictory statement, it is internally illogical. If it exists, it is natural. Anything outside of "nature" must, definitionally, be considered fantasy. Nothing can exist apart from nature. People have, since the dawn of language probably, placed things they don't know or understand into that scary place apart from nature. It is an unnecessary construct.

If a religious believer says their deity is supernatural, then we have to ask how they are aware of this deity (evidence please). Because as soon as any deity interacts with our universe enough to make themselves known, then they can't really be considered apart from it, can they?

I would agree with your explanation of agnosticism, well, part of it anyway.... it is impossible for us to have knowledge about anything apart from nature. This, really, is a much stronger stance than most see on the surface. It goes from simple lack of a belief to boldly stating that it is impossible for any human to rationally hold such a belief.

The other part of this conversation can be conducted on safer ground. It is the responsibility of the claimant to provide evidence for their claims. To date, despite extensive effort, no evidence is available to support any claim that involves a deity existing. In fact, in a historical evaluation of all deities, the trend seems to be that they fall from favor over time and eventually are discarded in favor of new ones, making the whole thing an anthropological phenomenon. This is why I, and many others, see chef's version of agnosticism as a failure of logic. It fails to consider all the evidence available.

So when "The Agnostic suspends judgment, saying that there are not sufficient grounds either for affirmation or for denial.", I can only disagree.

As Hitchens says, "what can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence."

So not only can I dismiss religious claims and remain on firm philosophical and logical grounds, I can point to human history and all the deities that have come before and ask what became of them and why.

Call it strong atheism if you like, but it is the only truly defensible position to take with regard to deities and the "supernatural". The agnostic who "suspends judgement" claiming insufficient grounds is ignoring evidence that sharply undermines that position.


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
Go to Top of Page
Page: of 7 Previous Topic Topic Next Topic  
Next Page
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Jump To:

The mission of the Skeptic Friends Network is to promote skepticism, critical thinking, science and logic as the best methods for evaluating all claims of fact, and we invite active participation by our members to create a skeptical community with a wide variety of viewpoints and expertise.


Home | Skeptic Forums | Skeptic Summary | The Kil Report | Creation/Evolution | Rationally Speaking | Skeptillaneous | About Skepticism | Fan Mail | Claims List | Calendar & Events | Skeptic Links | Book Reviews | Gift Shop | SFN on Facebook | Staff | Contact Us

Skeptic Friends Network
© 2008 Skeptic Friends Network Go To Top Of Page
This page was generated in 0.46 seconds.
Powered by @tomic Studio
Snitz Forums 2000