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
 Does Skepticism Default to Atheism?
 New Topic  Reply to Topic
 Printer Friendly Bookmark this Topic BookMark Topic
Next Page
Author Previous Topic Topic Next Topic
Page: of 7

chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  05:56:07  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm of the opinion that a skeptical philosophy can as easily lead you to agnosticism as to atheism. And by agnosticism I don't mean, "well maybe Jesus really was an avatar of god; its hard to say for sure." I mean "we don't know enough about the nature of the universe to say that it is necessarily without purpose, function, and/or a creator of some type." I think that it's more skeptical to file the issue away under agnosticism of that type than to go the route of atheism and declare "because we don't have good evidence for a purpose in the universe then there is none."

Am I totally wrong? Please elaborate. Thanks.

-Chaloobi

Vegeta
Skeptic Friend

United Kingdom
238 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  06:18:09   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Vegeta a Private Message  Reply with Quote
well there's the whole probability thing.

The main question is why do we NEED a God hypothesis? The only major thing in the realm of religion which is as of yet (possibly forever) unexplainable by science is the creation of the universe itself. I feel that resorting to a Deity to insert at the beginning of time to get the ball rolling only compounds the problem. Where does the Deity come from? Anything capable of creating the universe would have to be a complex entity by anyones standards, so how did it get there? I find it highly improbable that a being capable of creating a universe merely came into existance (that would really be some irreducable complexity). The idea of God being eternal and always being there, but taking no action in the universe other than setting off the big bang is worthless. There is no NEED of God in this way, putting him in there is entirely optional.

I do not know one way or the other whether there is a God, but I see no evidence or need for one, find the concept vastly improbable and live my life as if no such entity existed, so essentially this is agnosticism, but for all intents and purposes I am an atheist.

What are you looking at? Haven't you ever seen a pink shirt before?

"I was asked if I would do a similar sketch but focusing on the shortcomings of Islam rather than Christianity. I said, 'No, no I wouldn't. I may be an atheist but I'm not stupid.'" - Steward Lee
Go to Top of Page

leoofno
Skeptic Friend

USA
346 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  06:20:27   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send leoofno a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chaloobi

I'm of the opinion that a skeptical philosophy can as easily lead you to agnosticism as to atheism. And by agnosticism I don't mean, "well maybe Jesus really was an avatar of god; its hard to say for sure." I mean "we don't know enough about the nature of the universe to say that it is necessarily without purpose, function, and/or a creator of some type." I think that it's more skeptical to file the issue away under agnosticism of that type than to go the route of atheism and declare "because we don't have good evidence for a purpose in the universe then there is none."

Am I totally wrong? Please elaborate. Thanks.


I think a skeptic says "I do not believe in things for which there is insufficient evidence", while at the same time being open to change should sufficient evidence present itself.

I think that would make a skeptic an atheist.

"If you're not terrified, you're not paying attention." Eric Alterman
Go to Top of Page

Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  06:46:47   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Of all the gods presented, there is no reasonable evidence. Does that make me an agnostic about other possible gods?

The tribal war god Jehovah does not exist. I would wonder how anyone who is skeptical about religion would come to any other conclusion.

Is there some need to create some other kind of Jehovah or Allah or Zeus? Why?

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



Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  07:15:01   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
One thing I learned early on here is that, despite additional nuances that can be attached to the word "agnostic," all agnostics are atheists, though not all atheists are agnostics. All flavors of not actively believing in a god are "not theisms," thus they are "a-theisms."

In my mind, there is no "default" form of skepticism. But if a person is both strongly skeptical and carries this skepticism to all areas of thinking, that person would certainly be an atheist.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Go to Top of Page

chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  08:06:43   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Regarding the god thing:

#1. I believe whole-heartedly that there is sufficient evidence that "revealed" religion of every type can be discarded. Almost certainly any cosmology with human cultural origins is nonsense.

#2. I believe the concept of cosmological Faith (capital "F") should also be entirely discarded. Nothing should be accepted on that degree of faith. The scientific method must be the tool we use to call something true.

#3. Agnosticism for me personally does not hold out just the possibility of a deity. I think a deity creator in the sense of a god as most of us would define it is vanishingly improbable. There is no "human-image" god that fashioned the universe and us within it and is for some reason interested in our affairs, in justice and truth or beauty or whatever. That kind of god is almost certainly non-existant.

#4. What I'm really wrestling with here is the idea that the universe is completely without function or purpose. I don't think it requires a deity necessarily to have either of those. And whatever that 'function/purpose' might be, it likely:

A. does not have anything at all to do with human existance beyond the extremely periferal or incidental and

B. is not something we could ever possibly understand or even recognize as a purpose in the sense that we commonly define. It's like quantum mechanics - we can sort of understand it abstractly and devise tools and methods to study it, but we can't directly percieve and understand it, per se. It is not native to anything our minds evolved to do. Yet we've managed to come across it, puzzle out at least some of it's rules and functions and so on...

And this last point of B. is probably key to my agnosticism. The atheist says that if the function/purpose of the universe is irrelevant to us in any but the most casual way, and it's virtually inconceivable to our minds, then it might as well not exist. And don't forget it's existance already STARTS with a big fat IF anyway! So why waste time thinking about it when for all but the most impractical and abstract purposes, atheism applies?

But wouldn't someone have said the exact same thing about Quantum Mechanics if the idea were raised at about the time Isaac Newton nailed down the laws of motion and gravitation? No tools existed, no math existed, no concepts existed in human culture to study or even conceive of quantum mechanics. People understood that predictable, definable universal rules existed - so the first fundamental clue was there - but the skeptic / atheist analog of the time would have likely dismissed it, closing the door culturally to even looking in that direction.

Isn't that scenario an argument for agnosticism today even accepting that A and B are probably true and the IF is very big? The purpose being to leave open the possibility of it in rational culture so that if we did stumble across some abstract characteristic of the universe suggesting functionality, we might recognize it for what it is. The thing that disturbs me about atheism is it seems to close that door, to consider the point resolved, no further questions needed. And today this is not the case. Not yet. I think it's still too early in the game for atheism.

This reasoning seems skeptical to me. Am I off?

-Chaloobi

Go to Top of Page

chaloobi
SFN Regular

1620 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  08:11:03   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Send chaloobi a Yahoo! Message Send chaloobi a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by HalfMooner

One thing I learned early on here is that, despite additional nuances that can be attached to the word "agnostic," all agnostics are atheists, though not all atheists are agnostics. All flavors of not actively believing in a god are "not theisms," thus they are "a-theisms."
Excellant. I've never thought of it like that. Maybe it's really a flaw in how I'm approaching the distinction between atheism and agnosticism. It's the reasoning of that category of atheists who are not agnostics that I'm realy hung up on.

-Chaloobi

Go to Top of Page

marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  08:21:38   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
What Vegeta said.

Also, what Dawkins said on an interview with Terry Gross yesterday. Listen here:http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=9180871

In terms of god, belief, and skepticism, I pretty much agree with everything Dawkins says in this interview. To highlight some of what he says, evolution shows us that human complexity and sentience evolved over a great deal of time, slowly and bit by bit. Given that simpler explanations are most often right, the idea that there is another entity which is also intelligent and sentient, but which did not evolve, but rather, just is, is rather silly to postulate. In addition to that, if a god made the universe and life, and did it though evolution and the laws of physics, given what we know so far, this deity sure decided to use a method of creation that looks as if it never needed a creator in the first place.


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

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

Go to Top of Page

BigPapaSmurf
SFN Die Hard

3192 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  10:08:39   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send BigPapaSmurf a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Our best default position is "I don't know"

"...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
Go to Top of Page

Chippewa
SFN Regular

USA
1496 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  11:40:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Chippewa's Homepage Send Chippewa a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think there's also a language problem. I'm slightly irked by the phrase "believe in" which seems bandied about these days. As in:
Do you believe in God?
Do you believe in UFOs?
Do you believe in Big Foot?
Do you believe in the big bang?
Do you believe in evolution?

Good or bad, critical or uncritical, “believe in” implies (and only implies) to me: “to accept as true without understanding.” People who ask if someone “believes in” evolution tend to see science operating just as anecdotally and uncritically as religion. I think they have no notion of critical or scientific thinking and the concept of a falsifiable theory is unknown and confusing to them.

A skeptic might also use the phrase “believe in” yet answer the question: “Do you believe in the theory of evolution?” with “no”, as in, not “believing in” a scientific theory as a dogma but rather accepting it as developmental and falsifiable. And then confuse the questioner by adding that “evolution itself is a fact”.

This relates to the initial question that skeptics themselves tend to gravitate toward atheism and/or agnosticism. (I think both.)
Go to Top of Page

HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  12:55:49   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I think, chaloobi, that in the real world, even most hard-core, non-agnostic, atheists would accept the existence of a deity if It bit them in the ass. I think the vast majority of atheists are what I would call "skeptical atheists." They are not throwing out the possible-god baby with the scriptural bathwater, simply because they haven't observed a baby, or a tub.

I would now describe myself as a "strong atheist" like Dawkins, as opposed to a "weak atheist" like the agnostic I was prior to coming to SFN early last year. (I feel my change has been more a matter of nuance and definition than substantial.) But I think almost all of both flavors of atheists are skeptical atheists, and would accept proven evidence, wherever it might lead.


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 03/29/2007 13:41:43
Go to Top of Page

Siberia
SFN Addict

Brazil
2322 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  15:34:46   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit Siberia's Homepage  Send Siberia an AOL message  Send Siberia a Yahoo! Message Send Siberia a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Methinks skepticism does not default to atheism, no. After all, we have Valiant Dancer here, who is a non-atheist skeptic, don't we?

Besides, skepticism may or may not be applied to everything - and many theists do just that. They know their god(s) may not exist; but they believe anyway. They chose to keep their faith - and that's perfectly alright, IMHO.

"Why are you afraid of something you're not even sure exists?"
- The Kovenant, Via Negativa

"People who don't like their beliefs being laughed at shouldn't have such funny beliefs."
-- unknown
Go to Top of Page

ejdalise
Skeptic Friend

USA
50 Posts

Posted - 03/29/2007 :  16:56:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit ejdalise's Homepage Send ejdalise a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Apparently not all agree on what it means to be a skeptic (there is a Skepticality thread with the same title and discussion as this thread here).

For me, skepticism is not accepting something without proof, or at the very minimum a well formulated, sound, logical argument with some science behind it. I say that because the other thread degenerated into a discussion of quantum theory, string theory, and dark matter. (still some interesting reading for those who care to take a look-see).

Based on what I believe it means to be a skeptic (stated above), this skeptic would per force be an atheist.

One other comment. I'm willing to live and let live so long as a person of faith does not begin to interpret god's will to matters here on earth. At that point I feel compelled to challenge that belief. Especially if it has a tangible, real, and possibly detrimental effect on my life.

By the way, the above posts are succinct, to the point, and very well written.

ejd

--- Disperser ---
Winning enemies and aggravating friends since 1953
Go to Top of Page

beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/30/2007 :  02:02:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by BigPapaSmurf

Our best default position is "I don't know"

No it isn't. I understand the skeptic -> agnostic logical direction but, take the things Marf describes that led Dawkins to conclude there are no gods, and the things I repeat ad nauseum that evidence supports gods are a man-made construct and you don't have "nobody knows", you have, "gods are explainable and the evidence overwhelmingly supports they are imaginary".

So do you conclude every possibility is possible? You can. But does it make more sense to say, the belief in gods is explainable and the evidence supports the explanation is gods are imaginary? I go with the latter version of reality, thank you.





Edited by - beskeptigal on 03/30/2007 02:05:07
Go to Top of Page

filthy
SFN Die Hard

USA
14408 Posts

Posted - 03/30/2007 :  02:13:16   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send filthy a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A skeptic is one who will not buy a pig in a poke, even if it squeals. He/she wants to see the pork.

A skeptic is someone with diminished herd instincts, and therefore can easily become at least agnostic on, not just religion, but any given subject.

A skeptic is one who is willing to go against popular demand if that is where sound observation leads; a glutton for truth who usually recieves punishment.




"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 03/30/2007 02:16:40
Go to Top of Page

ConsequentAtheist
SFN Regular

641 Posts

Posted - 03/30/2007 :  04:40:52   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send ConsequentAtheist a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Originally posted by chaloobi

quote:
Originally posted by HalfMooner

One thing I learned early on here is that, despite additional nuances that can be attached to the word "agnostic," all agnostics are atheists, though not all atheists are agnostics. All flavors of not actively believing in a god are "not theisms," thus they are "a-theisms."
Excellant. I've never thought of it like that.
Good, because the assertion is absolutely inaccurate. See, for example, fideism.

For the philosophical naturalist, the rejection of supernaturalism is a case of "death by a thousand cuts." -- Barbara Forrest, Ph.D.
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 0.48 seconds.
Powered by @tomic Studio
Snitz Forums 2000