Atheism: Belief or Position?

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Is atheism a belief?

Yes
15
68%
No
5
23%
May be
2
9%
 
Total votes: 22

Lunalle
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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#61

Post by Lunalle » Fri Sep 13, 2013 8:32 pm

Position. This is a very basic concept, that apparently a lot of religious folks have a huge problem with.

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definitio ... ?q=atheism
from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god'
Like cold is nothing more than the lack of heat, atheism is nothing more than the lack of belief in god(s). It is not a belief.

In mathematics
-1 (lack of belief) = -1 (lack of belief) NOT 1 (belief)

Hope this helps clear up the confusion.
Atheism: disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god').

Are you an atheist or a theist? If you're a theist, move a little closer to the truth, and become an atheist! :)

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#62

Post by FlawedIntellect » Fri Sep 13, 2013 10:52 pm

Lunalle wrote:Position. This is a very basic concept, that apparently a lot of religious folks have a huge problem with.

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definitio ... ?q=atheism
from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god'
Like cold is nothing more than the lack of heat, atheism is nothing more than the lack of belief in god(s). It is not a belief.

In mathematics
-1 (lack of belief) = -1 (lack of belief) NOT 1 (belief)

Hope this helps clear up the confusion.
From the very link you posted:
Atheism
noun
[mass noun]
disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

Notice the word Disbelief.
noun
Inability or refusal to accept something as true or real.


Perhaps this may help a bit?
Maybe if disbelief were to be read as "there is no X" or "X never happened", then that might help.

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#63

Post by Lunalle » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:19 pm

Yes, English is a terrible language. It's a shame the definition conflicts with itself!

Let's go with the Greek:
atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god'
Atheists, we are without god.
Definition of without in English
preposition
in the absence of
So, you can say we are in the absence of god.
Definition of absence in English
noun
the state of being away from a place or person:
Wait... is god a place or person, a lot of people tell me god is omnipresent.... well, isn't that a conundrum?
Atheism: disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god').

Are you an atheist or a theist? If you're a theist, move a little closer to the truth, and become an atheist! :)

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#64

Post by FlawedIntellect » Fri Sep 13, 2013 11:32 pm

Lunalle wrote:Yes, English is a terrible language. It's a shame the definition conflicts with itself!

Let's go with the Greek:
atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god'
Atheists, we are without god.
Definition of without in English
preposition
in the absence of
So, you can say we are in the absence of god.
Definition of absence in English
noun
the state of being away from a place or person:
Wait... is god a place or person, a lot of people tell me god is omnipresent.... well, isn't that a conundrum?
Are you sure that the definition wasn't just simply presenting both expressions of a particular view in a more concise manner?

The question of the matter is whether or not Atheism is certain of God's (or gods') nonexistence or whether it is just uncertain of whether or not God (or gods) exist(s).

Whenever someone outright denies the existence of God (or even any sort of gods), then they are not simply "lacking belief" (which is to say that they have a position of uncertainty), but rather, they have a belief that God (or even any sort of gods) do not exist.

Are you getting the point that people have been attempting to make? Or are you unaware of the duality in the single line of definition in the word Atheism?

Do you simply lack belief (as in "I don't know")? Or do you actively disbelieve? (As in, "I believe/know that X is/does not Y)?
That's the general question adapted to the more personal level.

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#65

Post by Lunalle » Sat Sep 14, 2013 1:25 am

FlawedIntellect wrote: The question of the matter is whether or not Atheism is certain of God's (or gods') nonexistence or whether it is just uncertain of whether or not God (or gods) exist(s).

Whenever someone outright denies the existence of God (or even any sort of gods), then they are not simply "lacking belief" (which is to say that they have a position of uncertainty), but rather, they have a belief that God (or even any sort of gods) do not exist.

Are you getting the point that people have been attempting to make? Or are you unaware of the duality in the single line of definition in the word Atheism?

Do you simply lack belief (as in "I don't know")? Or do you actively disbelieve? (As in, "I believe/know that X is/does not Y)?
That's the general question adapted to the more personal level.
I am well aware of the point you are trying to make. "Actively disbelieve" explains it very well. I have dealt with this countless times over the years. This is the "flying spaghetti monster" argument. We could play linguistic games until we all die of old age, but that really wouldn't get us anywhere. That is why I used physics and math to convey my point that you CANNOT call a negative, a positive. It doesn't matter how many times you say it, or how many ways you try to cover it up. The concept of active disbelief is absurd. Let us try applying it to some other random questions.

Do you actively not walk your dog?
Do you actively not go swimming?
Do you actively not like snakes?

The concept is absurd! You can not actively not do something, and believing is no exception.

You cannot call a negative, a positive. I have illustrated this with the example of heat. The word "cold" is a negative. There is no physical property "cold". There is a physical property of heat, this is a positive. The word "cold" is a word used to refer to the lack of heat. Similarly, the word atheist is used to refer to the lack of belief in god(s). It is not a positive claim. If you took atheists out of the picture, you'd be left with the same bunch of religions claiming that they "know god(s)" and know the answers to the great questions in life. These are positive claims. If you took the religious people out of the picture, there would be no question of god(s), because atheism is not making a positive claim.

You are aware of the standard dialogue exchange in the "flying spaghetti monster" argument, and why this argument is so important, right; or do we need to cover that?
Atheism: disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god').

Are you an atheist or a theist? If you're a theist, move a little closer to the truth, and become an atheist! :)

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#66

Post by Jac3510 » Sun Sep 15, 2013 10:50 am

And there he goes again. The only thing worse than trying to talk about Greek grammar is pretending you know Greek when you don't. :roll:

Okay, so we here have the tired and rather standard claim that "atheist" doesn't mean "God does not exist" but "the lack of belief (hence, the 'a' in 'atheist') in God." Thus, it supposedly follows that atheists make no positive claim, and all of this is a clever ruse by which they atheist can shift the burden of proof to the theist. After all, the atheist isn't makig a claim! The theist is! So, pony up with the evidence, theist!!!

As expected, Lunalle doesn't know what he is talking about. There are two serious problems with his argument.

1. Historically, he is wrong. Throughout history, 'atheist' was used to refer to those who denied the existence of God. That changed in 1976 when Anthony Flew wrote The Presumption of Atheism. In that book, he made the argument Lunalle is now copying. It didn't matter to Flew that he was using the word differently than it had been used in the past. He wasn't arguing for atheism. He was trying to set the ground rules by which the atheist/theist debate could continue. So Flew just redefined the term. In doing so, he distinguished between "negative atheism" and "positive atheism," the former being the lack of belief in God and the latter being the positive assertion that God does not exist.

It's important to note that all of this was set in a procedural context by Flew, a context that has been totally ignored by less sophisticated atheists who follow him and who are just looking for a cheap way to "debate" (as we have in this case). In fact, all Flew was really saying is that anyone who claims to know his position is correct has the burden on them. Thus, the one who claims God does exist must prove the case. And, of course, no Christian would deny that. Likewise, the one who claims God does not exist must prove that is the case. That should be equally unquestionable. The problem with atheists is that they have claimed Flew's negative atheism as "atheism" in general, but then have proceeded in the actual debate to argue from the assumption of the non-existence of God. That assumption, though, is a positive assumption, and therefore, they are actually begging the question.

And as an aside, before we lean on Flew's brilliance to accept his redefinition, let's note that Flew did not read Greek and, in fact, admitted in his later years that he had not read Aristotle. That fact alone ought to give anyone pause before they consider whether or not his arguments for atheism or against theism are at all worth considering, since he basically ignored the intellectual basis on which theism was built! But, that leads us to consider the second problem with Lunalle's argument, namely, the way Greek grammar actually works.

2. Lingustically, Lunalle is even more absurd. He writes:
Position. This is a very basic concept, that apparently a lot of religious folks have a huge problem with.

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definitio ... ?q=atheism
from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god'
Like cold is nothing more than the lack of heat, atheism is nothing more than the lack of belief in god(s). It is not a belief.

In mathematics
-1 (lack of belief) = -1 (lack of belief) NOT 1 (belief)

Hope this helps clear up the confusion.
There are two errors. The first is strictly linguistic, the second is etymological. Starting with the latter, even if we granted Lunalle his claim (and we shouldn't, because it is wrong), it does not follow that because the parts of a word mean this, therefore, the word itself means this. That's called the etymological fallacy. Since I teach apologetics, I'll use an example close to my own heart. The word "apologetics" comes from the Greek word apologia, which is a combination of two words: apo (meaning, in the genitive, "out of," among other things), and logos (meaning, among other things, "word" or "reason."). The etymological notion of the word, then, is "coming out of reason." The word was used to refer to a legal or philosophical defense--in fact, the New Testament uses the word in just that way, as to apologists today. Of course, the word "apology" doesn't mean that all in general! When I mistreat my wife and I offer her an apology, the last thing I am doing is giving her a legal defense. On the contrary, I'm doing exactly the opposite: I'm saying that I have no defense and that I am simply wrong.

And so it is in all cases of the etymological fallacy. One of the WORST things we can do as philosophers or biblical exegetes is do word studies apart from context and conclude what the meaning of the word must be based on its history. For those interested in more on this, I would very highly recommend Moises Silva's The Meaning of Biblical Words. He has an entire section dedicated especially to this issue.

Moving on . . .

So, off the bat, we see that Lunalle's basic argument is just fallacious from the get go. But even better, his basic argument is wrong. It is not true that a is a 'negation' and theos is "god" and therefore "atheism" is just "a lack of belief in god." There are several reasons for this:

A. We can say that the Greek particle a had the function of negation only if we are speaking loosely. Take the Greek word apistos (as in John 20:27). So we have the particle a and the word pistos, which is an adjective meaning "faithful." On Lunalle's misunderstanding of Greek grammar, the word would simply mean "lacking faith." But, in fact, apistos does not mean "lacking faith." It means "disloyal," and a proper translation of John 20:27b would be, "Do not be disloyal, but believe!" (For a detailed study of this word, see Stan Harstinen, "Un-doubting Thomas: Recognition Scenes in the Ancient World," Perspectives in Religious Studies 33, no. 4 (December 1, 2006): 445-46.)

B. The actual function of a was privative, which is not identical to negation. That is, it "gives a negative sense to the word to which it is prefixed, as in abares; or signifying what is contrary to it, as in atimos." We see that clearly enough in apistos above--the word doesn't just signify a lack of faithfulness, but, in fact, disloyalty. But lets also look at atimos as another example. It occurs, for instance, in 1 Cor 4:10. There Paul writes, "We are fools for Christ, but you are men of wisdom in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored [atimos]!" Here we have three opposites set beside each other: Fools vs. men of wisdom; weak vs. strong; distinguished vs. dishonored. It would make a mockery of the text to simply read atimos as "without honor." In fact, Paul and his colleagues were being "despised" (as per the KJV)--they did not simply lack honor; they were atimos--the OPPOSITE of timos (honor). The opposite of honor is dishonor, which is what they suffered.

I could go on and on, but the point here should be clear enough. To add the prefix a to a word doesn't just mean it is a lack of the thing prefixed to, but its opposite. If we go by etymology, THAT is what the word actually means.

C. And all of this leads us to the third problem with Lunalle's argument. Even IF a just implied a lack (which we have seen is not the case), then Lunalle would STILL be wrong. His own dictionary shows the lunacy of his position. The word in question is NOT "atheos," but atheism. Now, still tracking his absurd etymological reasoning, '-ism' is a suffix attached to Greek words to turn verbs into nouns (so baptizo ("to wash") becomes "baptism"), and further, to express devotion to a particular idea (so intellectuals follow intellectualism).

Etymologically, then, modern so-called "atheists" don't even understand their own term "atheism." They want us to believe that the word should actually be parsed 'a-the[os]-ism.' But in the first place, even on that parsing, the word would not mean "a lack of belief in God or gods," but rather, "Devotion to the non-existence of God." That, of course, is what "atheist" has always meant and what it still means, their silly objections notwithstanding. But second, that's not even the right parsing, and it's evident in their own arguments. Lunalle doesn't say that an atheist is one who lacks God, but one who lacks a belief in God. But the "belief in" comes from 'ism,' not 'the[os].' Here, he is correct, for the correct parsing is would be 'a-theism.' Again, though, this would not be "a lack of God," but rather now, "a devotion to the denial of God's existence" (that is, the opposite (not merely lack) of theism). So in any number of ways, as usual, our poor ignorant atheist friend here doesn't understand what he is talking about.

I'll close on a final note between the difference in atheism and agnosticism, as that further illustrates Lunalle's misunderstanding of the terms in question and how Greek grammar words. An "agnostic" is one who does not know whether or not God exists, of course. The Greek word in question is gnosis, which means "knowledge" (more specifically, it's actually gnosos, a adjective meaning "known"). Agnosis, then, is not merely a lack of knowledge (it is at least that); it is the opposite of knowledge. It is necessary ignorance. In Greek literature, an agnostic was one who believed that something could not be known (so, Socrates was agnostic about immortality).

In closing, theists believe God exists.
Atheists believe God does not exist.
Agnostics believe that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists.

A person who doesn't know--who just lacks a particular belief in a particular god or gods--is not an atheist. They just don't know whether or not said god or gods exists. As an aside, this is why the first Christians were called atheists. They didn't just lack a belief in Zeus' existence. They were atheistic about him. They were devoted to the notion that he did NOT exist.

edit:

And given all of the above, I'll just repeat what I said on the first page:
I find that, in practice, most of these weak atheists are really just strong atheists who think they have found a rhetorical ploy by which they can shift the burden of proof to the theist and ignore justifying their own position. It's an incredibly dishonest position and, frankly, cowardly. But, it is what it is. We can either respond by having the tired debate over the definition of atheism, or we can accept their lack-of-a-position for argument's sake and press on with our own case, and when their responses presume God's non-existence (as they always do, since these people always really DO have a belief, even if they aren't willing to admit it), just call them out on it and ask for evidence for their assumption while pointing out that they've changed their position and have in the process adopted a true belief.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#67

Post by Lunalle » Sun Sep 15, 2013 11:39 pm

Trimming down this quote, as the post is a long one. Jac, I must say, I am amazed by your post.
Jac3510 wrote:And there he goes again. The only thing worse than trying to talk about Greek grammar is pretending you know Greek when you don't. :roll:
There are two errors.
I've already stated that I'm not interested in a linguistic argument. The "meat and potatoes" of this is not about words, so let's just save ourselves the time of pretending it is. I'm not sure why you posted so much about linguistics and etymology, unless it was a personal attack, or trying to prove that you know more about Greek than I do (which I will readily grant you), but anyway.
Moving on . . .
Oh good!
So, off the bat, we see that Lunalle's basic argument is just fallacious from the get go. But even better, his basic argument is wrong. It is not true that a is a 'negation' and theos is "god" and therefore "atheism" is just "a lack of belief in god." There are several reasons for this:
Oh, I thought we were moving on....
Etymologically, then, modern so-called "atheists" don't even understand their own term "atheism."
Are we moving on yet?
In closing, theists believe God exists.
Atheists believe God does not exist.
Agnostics believe that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists.
Theists believe God exists.
Atheists do not believe God exists. (You had your "not" in the wrong spot there, I fixed it for ya!)
Agnostics believe that it is impossible to know whether or not God exists.
edit:

And given all of the above, I'll just repeat what I said on the first page:
I find that, in practice, most of these weak atheists are really just strong atheists who think they have found a rhetorical ploy by which they can shift the burden of proof to the theist and ignore justifying their own position. It's an incredibly dishonest position and, frankly, cowardly. But, it is what it is. We can either respond by having the tired debate over the definition of atheism, or we can accept their lack-of-a-position for argument's sake and press on with our own case, and when their responses presume God's non-existence (as they always do, since these people always really DO have a belief, even if they aren't willing to admit it), just call them out on it and ask for evidence for their assumption while pointing out that they've changed their position and have in the process adopted a true belief.
Finally, we get to the real issue.

Jac, I have never had the opportunity to speak with an apologetic who dares say: "... they can shift the burden of proof to the theist and ignore justifying their own position". Wow, I am shocked. This is amazing.

This is about where the burden of proof lies. It lies with the theist. It always has, and it always will. I make the exact same charge to you Jac. Your position of attempting to shift the burden of proof is incredibly dishonest, and cowardly. Why won't you defend your position?

Allow me to explain, in layman's terms and examples, why the burden of proof does not lie with the atheist.

First of all, we are not making a positive claim. However, even if I were to grant you that I was making a positive claim (which I won't, because it is absurd), there is no therefore clause in my claim. If I were to say "God does not exist." So what? It does not effect any one, in any way. Pending some tragedy, we are all going to continue with our lives, exactly as we did before. At best, this would be an entertaining discussion, with no meaningful outcome. If I were to say "Aliens do not exist.", it would be the exact same, at best an entertaining discussion, with no meaningful outcome. We do not have any scriptures telling us to go convince people of our point of view, and require them to change the way they live, based on our point of view. Sure, some (probably most of us), are against religion, and we may argue that religion is dangerous. That is anti theism, or "active opposition to theism".

However, the burden of proof does lie on the theist, because they have MANY therefore claims (usually backed up by threats). Such as: God exists, therefore you must have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, or you are going to be tortured in a lake of fire for the rest of eternity. Really guys, why do I have to make your arguments for you? I have yet to see any of you attempt to defend your position for a belief in your god. All I have seen so far is hatred and bashing. Since this is a claim about how I "have" to live my life, (EDIT: and a claim about my experience to come,) it needs defending, before I will consider agreeing with it.

Hope this helps.

P.S. Thanks for not using condescending emoticons this time... oh wait, you're still doing that. Never mind, I retract my thanks.
Atheism: disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god').

Are you an atheist or a theist? If you're a theist, move a little closer to the truth, and become an atheist! :)

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#68

Post by neo-x » Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:01 am

I haven't read the entire thread, so I'm not intentionally negating anyone but as a general note, it is important to note that there is a group of atheists who are do think that atheism is a philosophy of life, P.Z , Meyers being one example. This group falls under what we call theoretical atheism, meaning its a proper philosophy and there are adherents of this philosophy and thus this group actually does have an active unbelief. The second group is what is the more common group, such as Lunalle describes, one which technically does not adhere to any philosophy of atheism but refuses to acknowledge the notion of a God.

Lunalle, I personally don't get into word quibbles because at the end of the day I don't think you will change your mind based on that. I have a very simple rule (same as you), you claim something you back it up, to me only that matters and that is what convinces me. To me quoting from a dictionary alone is least convincing in matters like these, as Jac showed you that can be misleading at times.

Lunalle, atheism is a philosophical position, whether you agree with it or not is a different matter. Infact, the same as theism, proper atheism as you know today rose out of philosophical debate. While this does nothing special for the argument, it does bring us to the same page. Even if you yourself do not adhere to the philosophy part, you would be in error if you refuse to acknowledge that without proper philosophers, atheism could not have been named, let alone defined and that there is actually a good chunk of atheists who would disagree with you even on definition, the very same you posted.

You may be getting the wrong impression of us by the way, this forum is one of the best civilized forums where atheists can post without angry lashbacks. I don't think anyone is trying to personally insult you. But you must also show respect, you are in our house. Do not think what you have brought forward is something new, these debates have been done before here, many times actually. Just like you may be frustrated by being misunderstood, the same way there may be many people here as well who have been tired of repeating the same things to many people, some of which may not have been sincere at all.

Let me put this up simply, its very easy to insult us, delusional, unintelligent, silly, irrational, these are words we are branded with very often. If you feel defensive, its the same way many posters feel defensive as well. You came here, the least you can do is listen out and try to understand our pov as well. The best discussion happens when you can assume what the other person is saying from his POV, not yours. The same applies to us. And for that to happen we ALL need to step back, and be civil, lets not get overly passionate on this.

Please let me know what you think.
It would be a blessing if they missed the cairns and got lost on the way back. Or if
the Thing on the ice got them tonight.

I could only turn and stare in horror at the chief surgeon.
Death by starvation is a terrible thing, Goodsir, continued Stanley.
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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#69

Post by Lunalle » Mon Sep 16, 2013 2:49 am

Hey Neo, you wrote a lot here, and I appreciate that. You asked what I think, so I'll reply. I'm going to try to keep it brief though, as it seems to be a side topic. If you are looking for a further response on anything specific, go ahead and ask.

I disagree with a lot of what you say, because it is based on the claim that "atheism is a philosophical position", which I have been very clear I do not agree with. We would all be a lot better off if it was never named or defined, because then we wouldn't need to be having this discussion, and we would be talking about what really matters.

I understand clearly, that we do not agree on some very important topics, yet we wholeheartedly believe we are correct. It should go without saying, that I do not expect to change certain people's opinion. It will be very difficult to change my opinion, but not impossible. However, whether or not anyone changes their opinion, there is a glaring contradiction of beliefs here, and I think it is important to discuss it.

Yes, it is easy for insults to fly both ways, but that is not productive. As you said, let's keep it civil.

Honestly, I'm concerned, because at this point (I believe, but I could be wrong), Jac and I are both saying the same thing. We are accusing each other of trying to transfer the burden of proof from ourselves, to the other person. It seems to me, that one of us has the burden of proof, and the other does not (does anyone disagree?). I'm not sure how the discussion can move forward from here, in any productive manner. It reminds me of a pair of children yelling "no, you prove it!" to each other, over and over again. I hope that's not too harsh, just as I see it. Hopefully we can resolve that, and come to have a more meaningful discussion.
Atheism: disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god').

Are you an atheist or a theist? If you're a theist, move a little closer to the truth, and become an atheist! :)

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#70

Post by Danieltwotwenty » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:26 am

I don't like to speak for Jac but as far as I can see by reading his posts, his and a lot of people including myself would say that the burden of proof lies with both parties. The theist who make the claim of God existing and the atheist claim that there are no God(s). As for yourself, I would not consider you to be an atheist by the classical definition because you hold a different position, holding no belief in any particular God(s), until a time when you make a claim, like for example if you make a claim that morals came about naturalistically, then you would be making a claim which has presupposition built in that there is no metaphysical explanation, then the burden of proof would shift to you to prove that morals only have a naturalistic explanation and not a supernatural one and further to that you would have to prove the supernatural does not exist. You have no burden of proof because you are not making any claim, hence you are not an atheist, but this leaves you in a predicament for discussing many topics because as soon as you make any claim which excludes the supernatural, you have made a positive claim that it does not exist, shifting the burden of proof to yourself. The agnostic in my opinion would also hold a burden of proof because of the claim that these things cannot be known, which they would also have to prove.


I hope that is a little clearer.
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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#71

Post by neo-x » Mon Sep 16, 2013 3:43 am

Lunalle wrote:Hey Neo, you wrote a lot here, and I appreciate that. You asked what I think, so I'll reply. I'm going to try to keep it brief though, as it seems to be a side topic. If you are looking for a further response on anything specific, go ahead and ask.

I disagree with a lot of what you say, because it is based on the claim that "atheism is a philosophical position", which I have been very clear I do not agree with. We would all be a lot better off if it was never named or defined, because then we wouldn't need to be having this discussion, and we would be talking about what really matters.

I understand clearly, that we do not agree on some very important topics, yet we wholeheartedly believe we are correct. It should go without saying, that I do not expect to change certain people's opinion. It will be very difficult to change my opinion, but not impossible. However, whether or not anyone changes their opinion, there is a glaring contradiction of beliefs here, and I think it is important to discuss it.

Yes, it is easy for insults to fly both ways, but that is not productive. As you said, let's keep it civil.

Honestly, I'm concerned, because at this point (I believe, but I could be wrong), Jac and I are both saying the same thing. We are accusing each other of trying to transfer the burden of proof from ourselves, to the other person. It seems to me, that one of us has the burden of proof, and the other does not (does anyone disagree?). I'm not sure how the discussion can move forward from here, in any productive manner. It reminds me of a pair of children yelling "no, you prove it!" to each other, over and over again. I hope that's not too harsh, just as I see it. Hopefully we can resolve that, and come to have a more meaningful discussion.
As I said earlier, I understand you do not ascribe to atheism as philosophy, my point was that it is a philosophy to some in practice and some atheist groups do call it exactly that. The problem is when an outside tries to engage atheism he goes for the theoretical part.

My first question would be, do you think that atheists who do think atheism is a philosophical position and a movement which entails social and ethical values, wrong?

See for reference http://www.ewtn.com/library/Theology/ATHEMARX.HTM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marxist%E2 ... st_atheism
http://www.positiveatheism.org/hist/lewis/lewis00.htm

Even the wiki states
"Arguments for atheism range from the philosophical to social and historical approaches. Rationales for not believing in any supernatural deity include the lack of empirical evidence,[12][13] the problem of evil, the argument from inconsistent revelations, and the argument from nonbelief.[12][14] Although some atheists have adopted secular philosophies,[15][16] there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere."
And then further describes theoretical atheism as part of the philosophical argument.
Even the difference between an agnostic and atheist is one strictly of philosophical nature. How do you do address all this?

My opinion is that you both have burden of proof...Jac's burden is his argument and yours is yours. Your burden right here is to first show us, how atheism is not a philosophy, given what I have showed you above, I think we have a right to know why you disagree since most here defend the other position, if you want us to accept your argument. That will help things gets sorted at least so everyone knows whats exactly being argued for.

Please note, I understand you do not subscribe to it, I am not saying ALL atheism is strictly philosophical, (personally I think it is in a big picture but leave that since I won't quibble on this). I am only asking you why do you deny it since there are others who would not agree with you, atheists included? This would hopefully give me an idea of what you are saying.

My main point of contention is, I can see at least two kinds of atheism at work, I cannot strictly say "all atheism is philosophy", but you can not say either "all atheism is not philosophy" since that would be just untrue.
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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#72

Post by Lunalle » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:23 am

Neo, I swear that I am trying to work with you here. It is tough though. :)
As I said earlier, I understand you do not ascribe to atheism as philosophy, my point was that it is a philosophy to some in practice and some atheist groups do call it exactly that. The problem is when an outside tries to engage atheism he goes for the theoretical part.
Some people disagree with me, yes. There are people who say atheism is a philosophy, and some who do not. Some of these people give themselves the label atheist, some do not, and some take on the label of atheists, as well as other labels. I myself take on more labels than just atheist. I think that's your first point. If so, I agree! Your second point seems to be, that an outsider engaging atheism, believes it is a philosophy by default. Is that right? I can see a religious person (specifically a Christian, as I have experience there), thinking this, I'm not so sure about everyone though. Even if that is what people outside of atheism think, it doesn't make it true. It presents a challenge to anti theists, but doesn't determine what atheism is.
My first question would be, do you think that atheists who do think atheism is a philosophical position and a movement which entails social and ethical values, wrong?
Yes, I do, and the new atheist movement is making things worse.
Even the wiki states
"Arguments for atheism range from the philosophical to social and historical approaches. Rationales for not believing in any supernatural deity include the lack of empirical evidence,[12][13] the problem of evil, the argument from inconsistent revelations, and the argument from nonbelief.[12][14] Although some atheists have adopted secular philosophies,[15][16] there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere."
Just for clarity, which wiki is "the wiki"? I disagree with the author of the articles definition of the term atheism. Also, this should be an early indicator that something is wrong: "there is no one ideology or set of behaviors to which all atheists adhere." Do you know of any other group of people who do not adhere to at least one thing, which defines them as members of that group?
Even the difference between an agnostic and atheist is one strictly of philosophical nature. How do you do address all this?
If I understand this right (and I'm not sure I do), I think this is a great point. Given there is a disagreement on the definition of terms, I'll try my best to address it. Personally, I have not been convinced of the existence of God (so I label myself atheist). Furthermore, I do not believe that at this point in time, humans have the mental capacity to properly understand anything that may exist beyond the universe we inhabit (so I label myself agnostic). This, is of course based on the assumption that if God exists, it must be beyond the universe we inhabit. It is also based on defining an agnostic, as one who does not believe it is possible to know of the existence of God (Do we agree on that label?) Depending how a person defines God, my beliefs and labels may change, based upon the re-definition of the term God. So, with that said, I believe your point is that the difference between me not being convinced there is a God, and my belief that we do not have the mental capacity to understand God, is related to the the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge. I don't see how that causes any problems for my position. I would say the very question of the existence of God is related to the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, that is to say, it is a philosophical topic.
My opinion is that you both have burden of proof...Jac's burden is his argument and yours is yours. Your burden right here is to first show us, how atheism is not a philosophy, given what I have showed you above, I think we have a right to know why you disagree since most here defend the other position, if you want us to accept your argument. That will help things gets sorted at least so everyone knows whats exactly being argued for.
Okay, but your opinion, which I do not agree with, is based on your definition of one of the labels I am agreeable to being applied to myself (based on my definition of the label). But, for the sake of discussion, I'll try to give a good response.
Your burden right here is to first show us, how atheism is not a philosophy, given what I have showed you above, I think we have a right to know why you disagree since most here defend the other position, if you want us to accept your argument.
Okay, I feel like beating my head off a brick wall here. The very fact that it is a question of who has the burden of proof, is insulting. There is nothing that could have been said to offend me more then Jac's claim, that I am trying to trying to shift the burden of proof, off of me, on to him. Theists do this all the time, and it is simply unacceptable behavior, which is not tolerated on any other topic, and I do not tolerate it on the topic of theism. I won't give examples, because I expect everyone knows full well what they are. If you don't know, ask, and I'll provide them. If anyone is going to make a claim FOR (not AGAINST, but FOR) ANYTHING, they must provide evidence to support that claim. This is the way science works. This is how we find the truth, and there is a very good reason that it is, the way it is. If you are not going to conform to the standard for establishing truth claims, do not claim it is the truth. I'm sorry if I offended anyone, but I cannot, in good conscience, answer this question any other way. You need to understand this. I am NOT making an argument. You ARE making an argument that atheism is a philosophy, You have presented a hypothesis, and you have supplied your URLs in defense of your hypothesis. Now I am refuting YOUR CLAIM, and your evidence.
First URL is an opinion about the reason Karl Marx was an atheist. Karl Marx was more than an atheist, just because you are part of one thing, doesn't exclude you from everything else.

From the second URL: "Marxist–Leninist atheism is a part of the wider Marxist–Leninist philosophy" ... again, just because you are part of one thing, doesn't exclude you from everything else. The term Marxist-Leninist atheism is absurd, anyway. "Marxist-Leninist lack of belief in God is...." This is nonsensical.

Third URL: There is clear anti-theistic views presented throughout that article. Again, just because you don't believe in God, doesn't mean you are unable to oppose how those who claim to believe in God, act. They're mutually inclusive.

Providing information about why you disbelieve a claim, does not necessarily mean you believe the opposite of this claim (example: agnostics). Would you ask an agnostic to prove there is no God? I expect not, so why do you expect the same of an atheist? Atheists and agnostics are close to each other, as they both have not been convinced there is a God, the agnostic simply goes a step further, and makes a claim about their reasoning.
Please note, I understand you do not subscribe to it, I am not saying ALL atheism is strictly philosophical, (personally I think it is in a big picture but leave that since I won't quibble on this). I am only asking you why do you deny it since there are others who would not agree with you, atheists included? This would hopefully give me an idea of what you are saying.
First of all, just because someone disagrees with something, doesn't mean it is wrong. Just because I don't believe there is a God, does not necessarily mean there ACTUALLY is no God. "Atheism" is a ridiculous concept, and we're dealing with the "specialness" of theism. What I am attempting to do here, is deny theism its claim to being "special", and hold it accountable to the same process every other truth claim is held to. When you say, "Since you do not believe X, you are making the claim that X is not true.", you are not following the established process of testing a truth claim. That is why not only do I not agree with the following statements, they are invalid.

1) Atheists DO NOT believe in God.
2) Atheism is a philosophical position, or belief.
My main point of contention is, I can see at least two kinds of atheism at work, I cannot strictly say "all atheism is philosophy", but you can not say either "all atheism is not philosophy" since that would be just untrue.
Argh! No one sees any kind of atheism at work, because it does not do any work. It is the default position of rejecting a claim with insufficient evidence. If you were to say "I can see people, who call themselves atheists, with at least two kinds of belief systems at work." That would be valid. I can see an awful lot of people doing an awful lot of things, good and bad, who claim to be Christians. This doesn't mean they are Christians, and it doesn't mean they are right or wrong, or good or bad, just like atheists.

Hope this helps. Thanks for reading.
Atheism: disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god').

Are you an atheist or a theist? If you're a theist, move a little closer to the truth, and become an atheist! :)

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#73

Post by Jac3510 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 10:24 am

Lunalle wrote:Trimming down this quote, as the post is a long one. Jac, I must say, I am amazed by your post.
Jac3510 wrote:And there he goes again. The only thing worse than trying to talk about Greek grammar is pretending you know Greek when you don't. :roll:
There are two errors.
I've already stated that I'm not interested in a linguistic argument. The "meat and potatoes" of this is not about words, so let's just save ourselves the time of pretending it is. I'm not sure why you posted so much about linguistics and etymology, unless it was a personal attack, or trying to prove that you know more about Greek than I do (which I will readily grant you), but anyway.
And yet you repeatedly cite the very definition of "atheism" as a major issue. This is about words. The word "atheist" has a meaning, and because philosophically ignorant and sophistic so-called "new atheists" choose to redefine the word, it doesn't mean the rest of us have to play their stupid game.

If you don't claim God does not exist, then you are not an atheist. Feel free to say, "I don't know whether God exists or not!" But the definiton of "atheist" is "One who denies the existence of God." You can ignore my long post all you like, but I'll just take that as typical atheist tactics--when evidence is presented to you, you just ignore it.

I also want to point out this:
The very fact that it is a question of who has the burden of proof, is insulting. There is nothing that could have been said to offend me more then Jac's claim, that I am trying to trying to shift the burden of proof, off of me, on to him. Theists do this all the time, and it is simply unacceptable behavior, which is not tolerated on any other topic, and I do not tolerate it on the topic of theism.
So it "offends" you that I think this is a rhetorical ploy on your part. I accuse you of playing games and just trying to shift the burden of proof away from your own position. You insist that't not the case--you aren't trying to shift the burden at all. And then, in the same paragraph, you come up with THIS zinger:
You need to understand this. I am NOT making an argument. You ARE making an argument that atheism is a philosophy, You have presented a hypothesis, and you have supplied your URLs in defense of your hypothesis.
RIGHT!!!!

"No, really, I'm not trying to shift the burden of proof. Now, I don't have to prove anything. YOU DO, SO GET TO PROVING IT!"

And if that isn't enough, you give us this:
Now I am refuting YOUR CLAIM, and your evidence.
Which is to say, "Na-uh!!!!"

That's the problem with you people. You are demonstrating what I said months ago in the previous thread. I'll agree that you don't have a philosophy. You have an anti-philosophy. Your philosophy is nothing more than a denial of everything that comes along. It's cowardice, because you don't have to put anything on the table. You just reject whatever you see.

But it's also dishonest, because the truth, both really and philosophically, is that you do have certain believes. Your arguments presuppose them. When someone puts forward an argument and you "refute" it, you are saying, "That isn't true because of X," but in order for X to be wrong, it must contradict something else, which you must know and believe. You can't refute an argument from a position of ignorance. At least Socrates knew what he was doing. When he argued, he asked questions that already had theoretical support. He was open about the fact that he had beliefs.

So, yet again, you are wrong. You are wrong about the definition of atheism. You are wrong about the nature of atheism. You are wrong about whether or not you are presenting a position and you are wrong about whethe or not you have anything to defend. And, as habit would have it, you are also wrong in your claims about hell being a threat and a basis thereby to believe in Christianity. Just because you "used to be" a Christian doesn't mean you understand what you are critiquing. You don't even know what your own label means. Why, pray tell, should I think you know the first thing about Christianity?

It's obvious what you do know. You know your own experience. You know that you aren't convinced by what you have seen. You know your own ideas and your own philosophy. But the fact that you think that you can come here and start telling people who have been discussing these issues in very great detail for years--and many of us have been studying and teaching this formally for years--that you think you can come here and start educating us by applying your own ideas in a universal way, well . . . let me put it this way . . . it wouldn't surprise me in the least to find out that you are a relatively young man whose experience with the atheist/theist debate is limited to the internet, your experience with a local church (primarily your years in youth group), and some family and friends, a few of whom may even be fundamentalist ministers. You might have even read a book or two--perhaps Dawkins or Hitchens--but beyond that, I doubt you've and real experience discussing these issues with anybody who actually knows what they are talking about.

Note that I'm not saying any of that is TRUE about you. I don't know you. I'm saying that my brief experience with you is quite consistent with the countless people I've met in just that category who do fit that bill.

As for me being condescending, call it whatever you want. You lost me in your first couple of posts when you came on here and completely disrespected this board by opening your fire on the intellectual capabilities of people you know nothing about, and I became even less impressed by you when you dismissed lingustic evidence out of hand that directly contradicts your point as something you just aren't interested in. If you'd ever like to have a real conversation, let any of us know. You'll find us all rather pleasant and ready and able to explain our beliefs. But keep coming across like you do . . . well, condescending people shouldn't be surprised when they get condescending rebuttals.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#74

Post by 1over137 » Mon Sep 16, 2013 12:19 pm

Lunalle wrote: I have yet to see any of you attempt to defend your position for a belief in your god. All I have seen so far is hatred and bashing.
This was not true when you wrote it. Have you e.g. missed the other thread I met you there?
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Re: Atheism: Belief or Position?

#75

Post by Lunalle » Mon Sep 16, 2013 7:23 pm

1/137, you are right. I withdraw that statement, and I apologize for making it.
And yet you repeatedly cite the very definition of "atheism" as a major issue. This is about words. The word "atheist" has a meaning, and because philosophically ignorant and sophistic so-called "new atheists" choose to redefine the word, it doesn't mean the rest of us have to play their stupid game.
Sorry, I thought I clarified this. What is a major issue, is people not following the established methodology to properly make truth claims, then trying to convince others to do the same.
If you don't claim God does not exist, then you are not an atheist. Feel free to say, "I don't know whether God exists or not!" But the definiton of "atheist" is "One who denies the existence of God." You can ignore my long post all you like, but I'll just take that as typical atheist tactics--when evidence is presented to you, you just ignore it.
Okay, so... what would you label a person who has not been convinced that God exists, but does not claim that God does not exist? Again, if you want to argue about the word, then I do not have much to say. I'm talking about the (in)validity of the logic. Nonsensical words do exist. The word "cold" is one of them, because it assumes a physical quality, where one does not exist. Atheism (by your definition) is another, as it assumes a philosophical standpoint, where one does not necessarily exist. I'm not sure where you got your definition, but I quoted the Oxford dictionary. (which includes both of our definitions, so linguistically, we are both right, which is why I didn't want to continue down that path.) If you disagree with the Oxford dictionary, I think you should take it up with them, and try to have them change the definition.
I also want to point out this:
The very fact that it is a question of who has the burden of proof, is insulting. There is nothing that could have been said to offend me more then Jac's claim, that I am trying to trying to shift the burden of proof, off of me, on to him. Theists do this all the time, and it is simply unacceptable behavior, which is not tolerated on any other topic, and I do not tolerate it on the topic of theism.
So it "offends" you that I think this is a rhetorical ploy on your part. I accuse you of playing games and just trying to shift the burden of proof away from your own position. You insist that't not the case--you aren't trying to shift the burden at all. And then, in the same paragraph, you come up with THIS zinger:
Yes, it greatly offends me. However, I understand that when having discussions like these, that most (probably all) of us, are going to be offended. I'm sure I have offended many people with what I have said, and I have been offended as well.

You need to understand this. I am NOT making an argument. You ARE making an argument that atheism is a philosophy, You have presented a hypothesis, and you have supplied your URLs in defense of your hypothesis.
RIGHT!!!!

"No, really, I'm not trying to shift the burden of proof. Now, I don't have to prove anything. YOU DO, SO GET TO PROVING IT!"

And if that isn't enough, you give us this:
Now I am refuting YOUR CLAIM, and your evidence.
Which is to say, "Na-uh!!!!"
First off, I apologize for using the wrong word. Instead of argument, I should have used hypothesis. Woo, sarcasm. I have said a lot more than "Na-uh". I have disagreed with the evidence supporting the claim, and pointed out why I disagree with the evidence, and supplied why the evidence is invalid, or at least, insufficient.
That's the problem with you people. You are demonstrating what I said months ago in the previous thread. I'll agree that you don't have a philosophy. You have an anti-philosophy. Your philosophy is nothing more than a denial of everything that comes along. It's cowardice, because you don't have to put anything on the table. You just reject whatever you see.
You got it!!! Yay! This is both natural behavior, and one of the agreed upon methods to determine the truth, for the sake of limiting gullibility, and efficiency of determining truths. This is how science works. I'm sorry if you don't like that. You are free to claim we should change this, although it has been claimed many times, and rejected EVERY time. You could also claim that your hypotheses are special, and above science, although that is a pretty tough way to start off, not to mention it is an argument from ignorance. As an example, if you are a member of a jury in a court of law, you vote "guilty" or "not guilty", voting "innocent" is not an option, and a vote of "not guilty" is not limited to a belief of innocence. As we are innocent until proven guilty (not guilty until proven innocent), we reject claims until proven, not accept claims until dis-proven.
But it's also dishonest, because the truth, both really and philosophically, is that you do have certain believes. Your arguments presuppose them.
Of course I have beliefs. Everyone has beliefs (except probably those with severe brain damage). I have never claimed not to have beliefs. We can talk about my beliefs if you want, but I've tried to refrain from stating most of them, as I expect they will be highly offensive to most of the community here. I've already started one thread, which has had a bit of discussion. I haven't responded to it in a few days. I plan to get back to it, but I think we need to resolve this first. How can we discuss something effectively, when we don't even have an agreeable method of discussion?
When someone puts forward an argument and you "refute" it, you are saying, "That isn't true because of X," but in order for X to be wrong, it must contradict something else, which you must know and believe.
No, to refute a claim, you need to show that the evidence is either invalid, or insufficient for that claim. You do not need to know, believe, or prove Y in order to refute X. Again, an agnostic is a perfect example of a person refuting X, without claiming Y.
You can't refute an argument from a position of ignorance. At least Socrates knew what he was doing. When he argued, he asked questions that already had theoretical support. He was open about the fact that he had beliefs.
Yes, you can. Good for Socrates, but he doesn't set the methodologies of determining truth.
So, yet again, you are wrong. You are wrong about the definition of atheism. You are wrong about the nature of atheism. You are wrong about whether or not you are presenting a position and you are wrong about whethe or not you have anything to defend. And, as habit would have it, you are also wrong in your claims about hell being a threat and a basis thereby to believe in Christianity. Just because you "used to be" a Christian doesn't mean you understand what you are critiquing. You don't even know what your own label means. Why, pray tell, should I think you know the first thing about Christianity?
A thousand nos. Learn and love science. Take the red pill, and free your mind. The only statement I agree with here is: " Just because you "used to be" a Christian doesn't mean you understand what you are critiquing." Correct, the fact that I have experience under a label is both insufficient, and invalid evidence to support the claim I understand the doctrines. I'm not so much interested in Christian doctrines, as the search for the truth.
It's obvious what you do know. You know your own experience. You know that you aren't convinced by what you have seen. You know your own ideas and your own philosophy. But the fact that you think that you can come here and start telling people who have been discussing these issues in very great detail for years--and many of us have been studying and teaching this formally for years--that you think you can come here and start educating us by applying your own ideas in a universal way, well . . . let me put it this way . . . it wouldn't surprise me in the least to find out that you are a relatively young man whose experience with the atheist/theist debate is limited to the internet, your experience with a local church (primarily your years in youth group), and some family and friends, a few of whom may even be fundamentalist ministers. You might have even read a book or two--perhaps Dawkins or Hitchens--but beyond that, I doubt you've and real experience discussing these issues with anybody who actually knows what they are talking about.
Yes Jac, I know you think little of me. I know you think I am ignorant, and I think the same of you. These are not my ideas, these are the ideas of science. These ideas have been established to help us determine what is true, and what is not. These are ideas of how we think. They are also more than ideas, they are rules. Go ahead and challenge them, if that is what you want to do. However, that is a far step back from where we are now. That is very much a topic of philosophy, which doesn't belong here.
Note that I'm not saying any of that is TRUE about you. I don't know you. I'm saying that my brief experience with you is quite consistent with the countless people I've met in just that category who do fit that bill.
Okay, so you're free to share your opinion. I'm not going to attack you, and say exactly what I think of you, because it would be rude, and wouldn't benefit the discussion.
As for me being condescending, call it whatever you want. You lost me in your first couple of posts when you came on here and completely disrespected this board by opening your fire on the intellectual capabilities of people you know nothing about, and I became even less impressed by you when you dismissed lingustic evidence out of hand that directly contradicts your point as something you just aren't interested in. If you'd ever like to have a real conversation, let any of us know. You'll find us all rather pleasant and ready and able to explain our beliefs. But keep coming across like you do . . . well, condescending people shouldn't be surprised when they get condescending rebuttals.
Fair enough. I can understand you being upset about my posts. If I were in your shoes, I would be too! I believe I've already addressed the linguistic issue in this post, so I won't go over that again. Whether you believe it or not, I am trying to be nice, while attempting to maintain a proper discussion. Like I said, I expect everyone reading to be offended, by one point, or another. I do want to have a real conversation. I haven't spent so much time on this forum, just to troll people. Let's try and realize that these are sensitive issues, but it is important to deal with them.

Hope this helps!
Atheism: disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods. (from Greek atheos, from a- 'without' + theos 'god').

Are you an atheist or a theist? If you're a theist, move a little closer to the truth, and become an atheist! :)

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