Why is there atheism? Watch

fairisle13
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#121
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#121
(Original post by Kaiser MacCleg)
You are confusing belief and knowledge. Agnosticism is the assertion that we do not know (sometimes can not know) that a deity (or the plural) exist - it is an assertion of the current state of our knowledge on the matter. I agree that we don't know, and therefore I am an agnostic.

Atheism, however, is not concerned with knowledge, but with belief. Anyone, including some agnostics, who lack belief in a deity, is an atheist. I lack belief. I'm an agnostic atheist. Agnosticism is not what it is commonly misunderstood to be - a hedging of bets; fence-sitting non-committal. It is merely a statement that we don't know, which doesn't preclude belief or the lack of it.



Over in the religion forum, we've got a stickied thread to address disagreements such as this, as they come up so often. I think it'd be worth your time to have a look through the first post:

http://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/show....php?t=1498831
Thank you I was just about to clarify with this:
http://scepsis.ru/eng/articles/id_5.php

I have been trying to say that I do not either believe or disbelieve because I cannot know, but clearly the word belief has been confusing people.
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PierceBrosnan
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#122
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#122
Because man (sorry ladies) is capable of reason and therefore can decided for themselves whether or not they would choose to believe in God or a particular religion.

I took the transition from Catholic > Liberal Christian > Agnostic Atheist.
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PapaShmurff
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#123
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#123
You're a moron.
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Pigling
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#124
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#124
(Original post by fairisle13)
You are basing your ideas of a deity on already established religious thinking, where in reality it could be something completely different. With regards to your examples, there are still things that we do not know.
This is again descending into semantics. I mean, I could define God as vaguely as just "an entity" and then say I believe because of course I'm aware of many entities, including myself. Semantics are meaningless, the position is important.

I'll make my position clear:

I am talking about a deity defined as a conscious, willfull, intervening force, which is significant in controlling the universe.

Conscious to mean aware/thinking and to an extent purposeful

Willfull to mean having a will of it's own, making decisions of it's own, not merely following laws/algorithms (which would make it equivalent to a law of nature)

Intervening to mean it has an effect

Significant in controlling the universe, because truthfully this is what it meant by a deity. To mean that if it did/didn't exist, things would be substantially different on many/all levels. Eg: we're not talking about a "God" which just arranges pebbles in a cave that noone's discovered yet... seriously, that's like an imp not a God.


I don't think that exists. Is that fair? I can't be certain, but I don't think it does. That's because we haven't observed any of it's interventions, and the universe just doesn't appear to be arranged that way.

There are only a few areas we don't understand in a fundamental laws of the universe way, and these include:

- Origin of the universe. Big bang shapes up and I see no reason to assume consciousness, or willfulness in that event.

- Quantum level, were unpredictable and seemingly illogical events have taken place. Again, I see no reason to assume consciousness or willfulness.

Even if you consider the above, which I do, to be areas of further consideration - they are certainly not enough to be in keeping with any religious notion of God I have ever come across. Nor are they inconsistent with there not being a God, as defined.

Therefore as I stated before, very clearly, I actively reject the even vaguely religious notion of God (which expects everyday intervention in virtually everything, not a one-off intervention), and see no reason to assume any other notions of God, which in any case tend to be very vague and stray significantly from the term's widely accepted meaning. Making me an atheist.

I mean, if you want to bury me in semantics, there's not much I can do about it. But we end up further and further away from the actual discussion. Do you know what I mean? I find this aspect difficult to explain.
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Pigling
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#125
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#125
(Original post by fairisle13)
Something that I found particularly compelling that made me question atheism was something that a nun once said to my mother:
'science can tell us how something happened and religion can tell us why.'
All that tells me is that human beings want there to be a greater, unifying answer to all of the "whys" we have. Not that one exists which religion can provide.

Besides which, I should like to add, science has given us the answer to lots of "why"s, some people just don't find those answers satisfying, because they lack a greater purpose. But maybe "without a greater purpose" is just how the universe is. It certainly seems to be.
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fairisle13
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(Original post by Pigling)
This is again descending into semantics. I mean, I could define God as vaguely as just "an entity" and then say I believe because of course I'm aware of many entities, including myself. Semantics are meaningless, the position is important.

I'll make my position clear:

I am talking about a deity defined as a conscious, willfull, intervening force, which is significant in controlling the universe.

Conscious to mean aware/thinking and to an extent purposeful

Willfull to mean having a will of it's own, making decisions of it's own, not merely following laws/algorithms (which would make it equivalent to a law of nature)

Intervening to mean it has an effect

Significant in controlling the universe, because truthfully this is what it meant by a deity. To mean that if it did/didn't exist, things would be substantially different on many/all levels. Eg: we're not talking about a "God" which just arranges pebbles in a cave that noone's discovered yet... seriously, that's like an imp not a God.


I don't think that exists. Is that fair? I can't be certain, but I don't think it does. That's because we haven't observed any of it's interventions, and the universe just doesn't appear to be arranged that way.

There are only a few areas we don't understand in a fundamental laws of the universe way, and these include:

- Origin of the universe. Big bang shapes up and I see no reason to assume consciousness, or willfulness in that event.

- Quantum level, were unpredictable and seemingly illogical events have taken place. Again, I see no reason to assume consciousness or willfulness.

Even if you consider the above, which I do, to be areas of further consideration - they are certainly not enough to be in keeping with any religious notion of God I have ever come across.

Therefore as I stated before, very clearly, I actively reject the even vaguely religious notion of God (which expects everyday intervention in virtually everything, not a one-off intervention), and see no reason to assume any other notions of God, which in any case tend to be very vague and stray significantly from the term's widely accepted meaning. Making me an atheist.

I mean, if you want to bury me in semantics, there's not much I can do about it. But we end up further and further away from the actual discussion. Do you know what I mean? I find this aspect difficult to explain.
I know what you mean, you think what you think and I think what I think. I don't think we will change each other's minds and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I respect your viewpoints, sorry if you thought I was attacking yours, but I was merely trying to defend mine and to explain what agnosticism is rather than let the thread become buried in just atheist viewpoints.
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Pigling
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#127
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#127
(Original post by fairisle13)
I know what you mean, you think what you think and I think what I think. I don't think we will change each other's minds and that's not necessarily a bad thing. I respect your viewpoints, sorry if you thought I was attacking yours, but I was merely trying to defend mine and to explain what agnosticism is rather than let the thread become buried in just atheist viewpoints.
No that's fine. I like to think that we've both come to some better understanding of various viewpoints, however they're termed.
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fairisle13
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#128
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(Original post by Pigling)
All that tells me is that human beings want there to be a greater, unifying answer to all of the "whys" we have. Not that one exists which religion can provide.

Besides which, I should like to add, science has given us the answer to lots of "why"s, some people just don't find those answers satisfying, because they lack a greater purpose. But maybe "without a greater purpose" is just how the universe is. It certainly seems to be.
I meant in the sense of the meaning of life as opposed to why, for example, water boils when it reaches a certain temperature. Science can of course tell us a lot, sometimes I wonder though whether staunch atheism could hold science back as much as religion.
Just my opinion anyway.
This makes for interesting reading whatever you believe:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/dec/26/peter-higgs-richard-dawkins-fundamentalism
Mostly because I don't like Dawkins.
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jeddows
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#129
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(Original post by DanLorenzo)
But tbh no one can prove ANYTHING exists.
So no one can prove that any form of God exists?

Kinda answered your own thread...
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Pigling
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#130
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#130
(Original post by fairisle13)
Just my opinion anyway.
This makes for interesting reading whatever you believe:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2012/dec/26/peter-higgs-richard-dawkins-fundamentalism
Mostly because I don't like Dawkins.
On the topic of Dawkins, I think the fella gets a lot of undeserved hate. He writes books and gives speeches that's all. He talks a lot about religion, yes, but he's actually also written and presented far more works on the subject of evolutionary biology, which are excellent, truly fascinating reads.

And I can easily understand why he is drawn to discussing with a certain amount of resentment, the validity of religious thinking when it has done so much ridiculous, unfounded damage to the reputation of his own field. I also think it's quite important, and a good thing, for someone to have made the points that Dawkins has. Higgs can talk about the compatibility of religious and scientific thinking, but there is no religious campaign for the suppression of education and understanding about particle physics.

He could be more diplomatic in his approach (although his "fundamentalism" is also exaggerated, and he has explained clearly why he is not a fundamentalist), but he doesn't make statements without reason, he doesn't incite hatred, he doesn't make anyone read his books, or attend his speeches, he doesn't seek to suppress other's opinions, and he's never blackmailed anyone with the threat of eternal suffering.

On the contrary, he receives death threats on a daily basis, and says nothing more unusual or offensive than the Bible does. In my honest opinion, Dawkins has never said anything nearly so offensive as the concept of hell.
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Pinkhead
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#131
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(Original post by fairisle13)
Thank you I was just about to clarify with this:
http://scepsis.ru/eng/articles/id_5.php

I have been trying to say that I do not either believe or disbelieve because I cannot know, but clearly the word belief has been confusing people.
You either hold a belief or you lack that belief.
You CANNOT be neither as far as I understand.

You may be an agnostic about something but you will also have a belief or lack of belief along with it.
You can be agnostic towards the existence of gods but you will either believe that a god exists, or you will lack that belief.

If you disagree, please demonstrate how you can neither have a belief nor lack of it.
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fairisle13
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#132
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(Original post by Pinkhead)
You either hold a belief or you lack that belief.
You CANNOT be neither as far as I understand.

You may be an agnostic about something but you will also have a belief or lack of belief along with it.
You can be agnostic towards the existence of gods but you will either believe that a god exists, or you will lack that belief.

If you disagree, please demonstrate how you can neither have a belief nor lack of it.
The way I see it, saying 'I don't know whether a God exists or not' is neither believing in nor disbelieving in God. Think what you like though.
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Kaiser MacCleg
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#133
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#133
(Original post by fairisle13)
The way I see it, saying 'I don't know whether a God exists or not' is neither believing in nor disbelieving in God. Think what you like though.
That's right - not knowing isn't the same as believing or not believing. That's why it's possible to be an agnostic and a theist, or an agnostic and an atheist. At the same time, though, I find myself faced with the same bewilderment as Pinkhead - you've said yourself that you don't believe, and yet you also claim that you don't lack belief, which is a contradiction in terms.
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fairisle13
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#134
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#134
(Original post by Kaiser MacCleg)
That's right - not knowing isn't the same as believing or not believing. That's why it's possible to be an agnostic and a theist, or an agnostic and an atheist. At the same time, though, I find myself faced with the same bewilderment as Pinkhead - you've said yourself that you don't believe, and yet you also claim that you don't lack belief, which is a contradiction in terms.
Clearly I wasn't expressing myself very well, which is why I rephrased - I don't know therefore I neither believe nor disbelieve.
What I believe is that there might be God, but there might not be.
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Pinkhead
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#135
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(Original post by fairisle13)
Clearly I wasn't expressing myself very well, which is why I rephrased - I don't know therefore I neither believe nor disbelieve.
What I believe is that there might be God, but there might not be.
This is where you're wrong sadly.

You can't neither believe nor disbelieve.

The moment you stop having the belief that god exists, you 'don't believe/disbelieve/ reject belief' or whatever other term you prefer.
You can't not have belief without having a lack of belief. They are the same thing.
It is painfully obvious so I apologise if it seems condescending - I simply don't know how else to explain it simpler than that.

The fact that you think it could be either way doesn't take away from the fact that you don't believe in god.
I hope that helps.

EDIT: This is an argument purely concerning semantics so feel free to ignore it if you wish. It's a non-issue really.
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fairisle13
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(Original post by Pinkhead)
This is where you're wrong sadly.

You can't neither believe nor disbelieve.

The moment you stop having the belief that god exists, you 'don't believe/disbelieve/ reject belief' or whatever other term you prefer.
You can't not have belief without having a lack of belief. They are the same thing.
It is painfully obvious so I apologise if it seems condescending - I simply don't know how else to explain it simpler than that.

The fact that you think it could be either way doesn't take away from the fact that you don't believe in god.
I hope that helps.
I see what you are saying in that believing in one thing means not believing its opposite. However, what I believe is that a deity can exist, I do not believe that a deity definitely does exist but I do not believe that a deity definitely does not exist. By this reasoning I am neither a 'believer' nor a 'non-believer', although yes, indeed depending on how you define 'non-believer', you might call me a 'non-believer' because I do not have faith, but I don't identify as such because it implies that I can know either way, and I don't feel that I can.
I am not expressing myself very well I know, but I just want to express that there are more viewpoints than just atheism and theism, there can be an alternative.
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mmmpie
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(Original post by fairisle13)
I see what you are saying in that believing in one thing means not believing its opposite. However, what I believe is that a deity can exist, I do not believe that a deity definitely does exist but I do not believe that a deity definitely does not exist. By this reasoning I am neither a 'believer' nor a 'non-believer', although yes, indeed depending on how you define 'non-believer', you might call me a 'non-believer' because I do not have faith, but I don't identify as such because it implies that I can know either way, and I don't feel that I can.
I am not expressing myself very well I know, but I just want to express that there are more viewpoints than just atheism and theism, there can be an alternative.
Words are awful for this. In doxastic logic there is an operator B, which means believes. The operator B is subject to the excluded middle, so B = ¬¬B, and you either believe or you don't. However, for some proposition p, you don't have that ¬Bp = B¬p.

In this formalism, what Pinkhead is saying is that Bp = ¬¬Bp, that believing something is the same as not not believing it. What you seem to be saying is ¬Bp and ¬B¬p; you don't believe p and you don't believe not p, which is a perfectly valid thing to say. You seem to be talking at cross purposes though, and I think it's because you're interpreting ¬Bp and B¬p, you're mixing up "not believe" with "believe not", so you're actually talking about different things.

I may have just added to the confusion, but never mind...
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Kaiser MacCleg
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#138
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(Original post by fairisle13)
I see what you are saying in that believing in one thing means not believing its opposite. However, what I believe is that a deity can exist, I do not believe that a deity definitely does exist but I do not believe that a deity definitely does not exist. By this reasoning I am neither a 'believer' nor a 'non-believer', although yes, indeed depending on how you define 'non-believer', you might call me a 'non-believer' because I do not have faith, but I don't identify as such because it implies that I can know either way, and I don't feel that I can.
I am not expressing myself very well I know, but I just want to express that there are more viewpoints than just atheism and theism, there can be an alternative.
I don't think many atheists...well, at least those of us who wish to remain intellectually honest, would disagree with you on the first point. I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility that a deity (or deities) exists, depending on the definition used, and I think that applies to most of the regular atheist posters here, too. To be honest, it sounds like the only real difference of opinion between you and us is one of semantics.
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Pinkhead
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#139
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(Original post by fairisle13)
I see what you are saying in that believing in one thing means not believing its opposite. However, what I believe is that a deity can exist, I do not believe that a deity definitely does exist but I do not believe that a deity definitely does not exist. By this reasoning I am neither a 'believer' nor a 'non-believer', although yes, indeed depending on how you define 'non-believer', you might call me a 'non-believer' because I do not have faith, but I don't identify as such because it implies that I can know either way, and I don't feel that I can.
I am not expressing myself very well I know, but I just want to express that there are more viewpoints than just atheism and theism, there can be an alternative.
Surprisingly, that is pretty much what atheism is.

Strident/gnostic atheism, for lack of a better term, is the belief that god does not exist. This is a subset of atheism (much like other subsets such as anti-theism) which is a lack of belief in gods.

I too believe that is is possible for a god to exist (although very, very unlikely given what we know about the universe), but I do not see any evidence to satisfy this possibility. I also believe that we will probably never have the knowledge either. So I identify as an agnostic atheist.

You are technically an atheist by the common definition of the word, although whether you wish to identify as such is up to you and is a totally different matter.
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fairisle13
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I see what you are saying, but the reason I don't identify with a subset of atheism is that I am not compelled by it's argument any more so than I am compelled by theist argument. Where you believe that there probably isn't a God, but there might be, I simply don't know, I don't have any degree of certainty either way.
It's an unusual viewpoint I know, and some people might say I have to think more one way than another, but honestly, I just don't know and I don't believe we can know.
It has been interesting talking to you all though
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