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 Neil de Grasse Tyson, Atheist or Agnostic
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  04:13:07  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Neil de Grasse Tyson doesn't want to be labeled as an atheist. He doesn't like labels, except for the label of "agnostic". He's a non-skier he says, but he doesn't sit around talking about how he doesn't ski. There's no word for non-skiers, so why is there a word for people who lack a belief in gods? So, now he's a non-atheist who sits around talking about why he's not an atheist. Is there a word for non-atheist? Will he start a Meetup group for non-atheists?
http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1187410652001?bckey=AQ~~%2CAAAAGuNzXFE~%2Cqu1BWJRU7c2zPXB5pnS6ytF42ALvFXD6&bctid=1548677932001

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



HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  04:57:28   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I take the terms as meaning almost exactly the same thing. One without belief in god{s), through conviction, lack of evidence, or even through lack of interest, is not a theist, thus an a-theist. (Agnosticism indeed might be described as one of the possible reasons to be an atheist.) But I see his rather trivial point and I accept Neil's self-identification. That's my default position.

If someone calls him/herself a snake worshiper, I believe them unless I see evidence to the contrary. To me, the atheist-agnostic battle is less founded in reality than the conflict between Johnathan Swift's Big-Enders and Little-Enders. As I see it, it's not a real issue, aside from being an extra reason to accept people's self-identification. Though I'm philosophically an agnostic, I prefer to be called an atheist, because it sounds bad-ass.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 04/11/2012 04:59:55
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BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  05:05:04   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I will open the books for Neil, he would make great Flock. My anuminist group has been pretty boring for the last few years.

"...things I have neither seen nor experienced nor heard tell of from anybody else; things, what is more, that do not in fact exist and could not ever exist at all. So my readers must not believe a word I say." -Lucian on his book True History

"...They accept such things on faith alone, without any evidence. So if a fraudulent and cunning person who knows how to take advantage of a situation comes among them, he can make himself rich in a short time." -Lucian critical of early Christians c.166 AD From his book, De Morte Peregrini
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On fire for Christ
SFN Regular

Saudi Arabia
1266 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  05:18:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send On fire for Christ a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think there are some obvious atheists who are embarrassed of the label.

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Valiant Dancer
Forum Goalie

USA
4826 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  05:57:10   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Valiant Dancer's Homepage Send Valiant Dancer a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Gorgo

Neil de Grasse Tyson doesn't want to be labeled as an atheist. He doesn't like labels, except for the label of "agnostic". He's a non-skier he says, but he doesn't sit around talking about how he doesn't ski. There's no word for non-skiers, so why is there a word for people who lack a belief in gods? So, now he's a non-atheist who sits around talking about why he's not an atheist. Is there a word for non-atheist? Will he start a Meetup group for non-atheists?
http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1187410652001?bckey=AQ~~%2CAAAAGuNzXFE~%2Cqu1BWJRU7c2zPXB5pnS6ytF42ALvFXD6&bctid=1548677932001


Well, he was practicing his non-atheism at the Temple of Meh, so that might be an indicator.

Cthulhu/Asmodeus when you're tired of voting for the lesser of two evils

Brother Cutlass of Reasoned Discussion
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  06:18:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Now that I've finally been able to load and have watched the video Gorgo links to, I see Tyson essentially says that atheists are not the same as agnostics because atheists actively speak out against god(s). I emphatically disagree with that.

There must be plenty of self-identified agnostics who do the same railing against god(s). A person's volume of shouting at the heavens has nothing to do with it.

And I could be a completely silent atheist. I probably would be if I were living in Saudi Arabia or Iran.

Of course, if Tyson calls himself an agnostic mainly to try to avoid having to debate the question of deities, that's his personal business. I doubt it'll work for him, anyway.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 04/11/2012 06:20:06
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moakley
SFN Regular

USA
1888 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  07:06:48   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send moakley a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by HalfMooner

Of course, if Tyson calls himself an agnostic mainly to try to avoid having to debate the question of deities, that's his personal business. I doubt it'll work for him, anyway.
I agree. If his mission is to talk about science and to get young people excited about science, then talking about what he does not believe distracts from his mission.

Life is good

Philosophy is questions that may never be answered. Religion is answers that may never be questioned. -Anonymous
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  07:44:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think that would be great if he had just said "please don't label me, I don't want to talk about it." Once he says that he doesn't believe in God, and that the atheists he knows are "in your face" and he labels himself an agnostic because there's no label for non-skiers, that says that:

1) All atheists are "in your face".
2) There's no reason for people to label themselves as atheists other than being "in your face" and that's not worthy of anyone's time.

There are reasons for labeling ourselves atheists and skeptics, and there are varying degrees of being "in your face" not "in your face" about both of those "labels."



Originally posted by moakley
I agree. If his mission is to talk about science and to get young people excited about science, then talking about what he does not believe distracts from his mission.

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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ThorGoLucky
Snuggle Wolf

USA
1461 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  08:03:14   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit ThorGoLucky's Homepage Send ThorGoLucky a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Hey, I'm an askiist too! Not to be confused with being a Notski.
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  08:08:00   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Tyson seems ready enough to get in atheists' faces by implying they are all a loud and aggressive lot, while saying he's not one of those people.

I'd rather he'd just said that his priority is his science promotion (which he did say), and then leave his religious views at, "Talking about that is not part of my job as a popularizer of science. Saying anything about my private thoughts on supernatural beings might make it appear that I'm speaking for the Hayden Planetarium."

He's going to be called an atheist by the fundies anyway. They see no difference between an atheist and an agnostic. Both are godless, Hell-bound heathens, 'nuff said. They will use his "atheism" as a club to beat upon the Big Bang and the ancient cosmos. Pissing off atheists -- especially outspoken ones -- won't help him do his job, either.

The guy's simply a brilliant science explainer and defender. I hate to hear him say thoughtless and unnecessary stuff like he just did.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 04/11/2012 08:11:14
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  08:54:51   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
All well said.

Originally posted by HalfMooner


The guy's simply a brilliant science explainer and defender. I hate to hear him say thoughtless and unnecessary stuff like he just did.

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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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  09:27:53   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Of late, many of Tyson's peers on the circuit like Richard Dawkins have been outspoken atheists. He's probably talking about them. Tyson probably understands that he too is an atheist by default. Usually, Tyson is more careful with his characterizations. In any case I wouldn't make a big deal about this. Agnosticism really is the scientific position for even those who call themselves atheists, if they arrived there logically. The list of scientist agnostics is long and impressive. Sagan identified that way. And who knows how Sagan would have viewed the Gnu's? My guess is probably the same way Tyson does. But again, Tyson did a bit of lumping here. No one is perfect.

Here's Tyson's and Dawkins first meeting. There have been many since. I love this video because it kinda shows their different positions with regard to educating the public. They are both great here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_2xGIwQfik

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  10:27:08   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Kil

Of late, many of Tyson's peers on the circuit like Richard Dawkins have been outspoken atheists. He's probably talking about them. Tyson probably understands that he too is an atheist by default. Usually, Tyson is more careful with his characterizations. In any case I wouldn't make a big deal about this. Agnosticism really is the scientific position for even those who call themselves atheists, if they arrived there logically. The list of scientist agnostics is long and impressive. Sagan identified that way. And who knows how Sagan would have viewed the Gnu's? My guess is probably the same way Tyson does. But again, Tyson did a bit of lumping here. No one is perfect.

Here's Tyson's and Dawkins first meeting. There have been many since. I love this video because it kinda shows their different positions with regard to educating the public. They are both great here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-_2xGIwQfik
I'm pretty sure Dawkins would agree about agnosticism being the proper position of science, though he'd probably say the same of atheism.

I saw that video once. Loved the humor and good natures of both men. But Tyson's characterization of Dawkins was a bit flat to me, only because I do not know what Dawkins had said.

Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 04/11/2012 23:58:42
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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  11:35:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I don't know what specifically they're talking about, but he doesn't take Dawkins the way that I take Dawkins. I don't know the first thing about de Grasse Tyson, and he's not at the top of my list, and that doesn't say anything about de Grasse Tyson because I can't get to everyone, but I've read Dawkins, and Dawkins is a great teacher.

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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Hal
Skeptic Friend

USA
302 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  12:21:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Hal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
It's very easy for me to imagine that NDT avoids the subject simply because he'd rather be talking about astronomy, space exploration, or any of the other things genuinely excite him. Maybe he just doesn't care to "squander" his time staking out and defending a position on something that's subordinate to his other interests?
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Kil
Evil Skeptic

USA
13467 Posts

Posted - 04/11/2012 :  13:45:11   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Kil's Homepage  Send Kil an AOL message  Send Kil a Yahoo! Message Send Kil a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Originally posted by Gorgo

I don't know what specifically they're talking about, but he doesn't take Dawkins the way that I take Dawkins. I don't know the first thing about de Grasse Tyson, and he's not at the top of my list, and that doesn't say anything about de Grasse Tyson because I can't get to everyone, but I've read Dawkins, and Dawkins is a great teacher.
I recommend checking out the youtube videos of him. Also he was twice, the keynote speaker at TAM. Last year he did a night an Dawkins did another night. Two keynotes.

If there were a spirit of Carl Sagan out there, it would live in Niel deGrasse Tyson. As a scientist, a science educator and a skeptic, he's the real deal. There is no one on my short list of people who I would like to see and hear speak that is as wonderful as Tyson is. And I've been lucky enough to be there twice for a talk of his.

Just my opinion.

Uncertainty may make you uncomfortable. Certainty makes you ridiculous.

Why not question something for a change?

Genetic Literacy Project
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