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PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 2:18 pm 
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Proper Definition & Meaning of "Atheist"

There seems to be much confusion about the correct or proper definition of the word "atheist." So, lets take a moment to focus on the definition and clarification for the word "atheist."

In doing some research on this issue I sent out some e-mails asking others what they thought about the correct or proper definition and meaning of "atheist" was. So, below are those e-mail responses along with other research.

The strong or positive view of the word "atheist" is claimed to be defined as, "The doctrine or belief that there is no God(s)" or another one is, "One who denies the existence of God(s)." This is sometimes referred to nowadays as "the new atheism" because it has no historical context - it's a new misguided version of atheism. Probably due to the fact that so many don't understand the proper definition of the word nor its historical context nor its Greek root. Essentially, they're inadvertently attempting to re-define it out of ignorance not realizing this new version is a degeneration. The problem is that these "new atheists" rigidly adhere to this strong/positive stance and they seem to be fundamentalist about it - which may also be referred to as "militant atheism."

The negative or weak view of the word "atheist" is defined as one who has, "An absence of belief in god(s)" or "A lack of belief in god(s)." This is the original definition of "atheist." It is historically what "atheist" has always meant and been defined as based on the original Greek root of the word and its history as you will see by reading below. It's quite simple and no changes are necessary.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheist

So how can the word "atheist" be a defined as a "belief" or "denial" and an "absence of belief" at the same time? Simply put, it can't. It is highly possible that only one of these views is correct. See what you think.
Quote:
"The 'weak' definition has the greatest historical precedence, it has (in my opinion, and that of Smith) the best etymology, and is the most practical. The term atheist has been widely used as a slur or an epithet to indicate an evil person. Positive Atheism Magazine thinks one of the first steps should be to hammer out a definition for the term atheism and to agree to use it. True, atheism's opponents will continue to abuse and misuse the term atheism in their efforts to refute our position, telling us that an atheist is something other than what we are (usually making us out to be people who hold the "strong" position), and then demanding that we defend this other position. However, the least we atheists can hope for is that we can agree to use the term consistently and then be able to point to that consistent use when defending our position against our opponents. This is why we hold the "weak" position and this is why we so patiently and consistently advocate for that position."

http://www.positiveatheism.org/mail/eml9102.htm

Quote:
"The AAI (Atheist Alliance International) agrees with you on the definition of atheism. In 2003, we assigned your issue to a committee, which gave the definition of atheism, 'Absence of belief in the existence of any gods.' The committee was to have notified dictionary editors and publishers of this. We feel that, as the world's largest atheist organization, we should hold some sway. Many dictionaries today say that atheists 'deny the existence of God,' which assumes there is a god to deny the existence of. As a mostly-volunteer group, we have not yet gotten the word to all of the dictionaries.

I hope you will join the AAI and help us in our quest.

Best regards,

Bobbie Kirkhart
President
Atheist Alliance International
http://www.Atheistalliance.org

Quote:
"If you look up 'atheism' in the dictionary, you will probably find it defined as the belief that there is no God. Certainly many people understand atheism in this way. Yet many atheists do not, and this is not what the term means if one considers it from the point of view of its Greek roots. In Greek 'a' means 'without' or 'not' and 'theos' means 'god.' From this standpoint an atheist would simply be someone without a belief in God, not necessarily someone who believes that God does not exist. According to its Greek roots, then, atheism is a negative view, characterized by the absence of belief in God."

- "Atheism" By Michael Martin (463)

Martin goes on to cite several other well-known nontheists in history who used or implied this definition of 'atheism', including Baron d'Holbach (1770), Richard Carlile (1826), Charles Southwell (1842), Charles Bradlaugh (1876), and Anne Besant (1877).

http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/ ... tions.html

* Michael Martin received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard University. Beginning in 1975 he held the position of professor of philosophy at Boston University

Quote:
"What is an atheist? An atheist is a person who does not believe in the existence of a god, i.e., in the existence of a supernatural being. Why doesn't the atheist believe in a god? Quite simply, because belief in a god is unreasonable. Can the atheist prove that a god does not exist? The atheist need not 'prove' the nonexistence of a god, just as one who does not believe in magic elves, fairies, and gremlins does not have to prove their nonexistence. A person who asserts the existence of something assumes the burden of proof. The theist, or god-believer, asserts the existence of a god and must prove the claim. If the theist fails in this task, reasonable people will reject the belief as groundless. Atheists do not believe in a god because there is no reason they should. But haven't philosophers proved the existence of a god? No. All such attempts have failed. Most philosophers and theologians now concede that belief in a god must rest on faith, not on reason. Then why not accept the existence of a god on faith? Because to believe on faith is to defy and abandon the judgment of one's mind. Faith conflicts with reason. It cannot give you knowledge; it can only delude you into believing that you know more than you really do. Faith is intellectually dishonest, and it should be rejected by every person of integrity."

- "Atheism, Ayn Rand, and Other Heresies" by George H. Smith, 62-3.

Those Atheists who want to adhere to the "strong" or "positive" definition of the word "atheist" should perhaps consider creating a new word that best describes their position because "atheist" isn't it. The "strong" or "positive" views are an abuse of the word. Although, that abuse largely comes from theists trying to re-define the word by projecting their own desired definition to the word 'atheist.' That way theists can put all atheists into the "strong" or "positive" corner (and attempt to make endless straw man arguments). It's intellectually dishonest and we must not let them do that.

Here's another perfect example:
Quote:
"Some dictionaries define godless as 'wicked', 'immoral'. I don't believe in gods but I am not 'wicked' nor am I 'immoral'. This means that dictionaries are not inerrant. It sounds like the religious society should be blamed for assigning a morally pejorative connotation to an ordinary descriptive adjective."

- "Loosing Faith in Faith" page 98

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=godless

Quote:
"If so many atheists and some of their critics have insisted on the negative definition of atheism, why have some modern philosophers called for a positive definition of atheism -- atheism as the outright denial of God's existence? Part of the reason, I suspect, lies in the chasm separating freethinkers and academic philosophers. Most modern philosophers are totally unfamiliar with atheistic literature and so remain oblivious to the tradition of negative atheism contained in that literature."

http://www.positiveatheism.org/writ/smithdef.htm

"What Is A Freethinker?"
http://www.ffrf.org/nontracts/freethinker.php

Theists & atheists, please make the necessary adjustments. It sounds like we need to organize a campaign contacting all the dictionaries and encyclopedias asking for this correction to be made as well. We obviously cannot rely on the theistic community to make these types of corrections for us.

Children are a perfect example of having an absence of belief in the concept of God. Belief in a god is something that is taught to them by devotees. No other species seems to hold any belief in the concept of God either.

* The very best definition of Agnostic in my opinion is simply: "noncommittal" http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/agnostic

The Agnostic Fallacy
viewtopic.php?t=376

What religious holy texts have provided us with thus far has failed utterly to substantiate their supernatural claims. And these are theistic claims therefore, they hold the responsibility of 'burden of proof' to substantiate those claims with valid evidence - which they've never been able to do. Faith and euphoria should no longer be allowed to trump the mountain of opposing facts and evidence that actually exist.

“If there were valid scientific evidence in support of the supernatural religious claims, faith would not be the main requirement.”

- Christ in Egypt p. 3

What is a Mythicist?
http://www.stellarhousepublishing.com/mythicist.html

* Also enjoy these articles:

Is atheism the answer?
http://www.examiner.com/x-17009-Freetho ... the-answer

Is atheism the answer? Part 2, 3 & 4
http://www.examiner.com/examiner/x-1700 ... wer-Part-2

Club Atheism?
http://www.examiner.com/x-17009-Freetho ... ub-Atheism

:wink:

Study: Atheists Most Discriminated Minority

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Did Moses Exist? The Myth of the Israelite Lawgiver
Christ in Egypt: The Horus-Jesus Connection
2014 Astrotheology Calendar
The Mythicist Position
Stellar House Publishing at Youtube


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 Post subject: CHURCHIANITY SUCKS
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 2009 4:33 pm 
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Whether it is churchmania, synagogueitis, templeohria, or tabernacleosis, it makes all adherents ill, zealous, and hypocritical.

All require a "leap of faith," which is ridiculous, since one doesn't have proof that there is one who exists, let alone is worthy, to receive this faith.

If the originators weren't egomaniacs and interested in making a fortune off of peoples' ignorance and fear, there'd be nothing to entice people to leap onto a bandwagon to save their skins from hell fire, or whatever else has been invented to frighten the sheeple into line.

The whole idea of "supernatural" was invented to add authenticity to a pushed religion. Who dare question an omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent spirit being with all power and ability to zap you if you question him? The door to debate is automatically closed from the get go.

This means that this non-religious belief is a natural, logical, sane approach to life, with no feeling that we need anyone or anything to answer life's mysteries, except our own common sense and intuitiveness. Remember, the best helping hand is at the end of your arm.

We don't need a term for this, such as atheism, because the matter of "gods" or "supernatural beings" or "theism" don't enter the picture at all.

Either unintelligent Nature brought about all that we behold in life from its own action with fire, water, earth, sun, etc., or some beings from another galaxy are experimenting with this planet, with no thought of controlling their experiments. Else there would be harmony on earth. If beings have that much power, then they have the power to maintain "peace on earth," without the evils we've experienced from the dawn of time. Thanks.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 7:40 pm 
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Hercules

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"What is Atheism?” Well, I am still struggling to understand how the question can be taken further than the likes of the following...

It is dishonesty or ignorance to assume that there is absolutely no chance of a creator of this universe. However, importantly, it would be even more dishonest or even more ignorant to assume that any such creator would also want to be a god that meddles in our daily affairs. From this position I conclude that Atheism is simply honesty – honesty regarding one particular explanation attempt of our origins.

New Atheist Movement is surely simply the public practice of philosophising about the competing attempts to explain our origin, our path and destination. NAM therefore is a dialectical handling of the most popular dishonest and the most popular ignorant explanations.

Now, while it's on my mind I have to quickly ask what is a Christian? What is that single aspect, that without, a Christian one is not? Is it belief in the divinity of Jesus?

The alternative to religion is Knowledge. Socrates concluded, after a lifetime of investigation, that “The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance”. Turn this discovery on its head, making knowledge evil and ignorance (faith) a virtue, and you can enslave whole nations. Atheism is therefore the pursuit of true beliefs – but also the dispensing of false beliefs, regardless of how beautifully decorated they may be.

What do we mean by belief?

The Hellenistic sophists mostly employed equivocation to bewitch people with words. We equivocate when we slip between different senses of a word. Wittingly or unwittingly doesn’t matter – Equivocation is always an error in reason.

Theists employ the 3rd and 4th senses, lised below, when they use the word belief, atheists use the 1st and 2nd senses of the word. Theists wittingly or unwittingly ignore the differences between these 4 senses of the word and this has much to do with the confusion as to whether atheism is a belief or not. You see, it may be or it may not be - it just depends on which sense of the word is in consideration.

Senses of the word "Belief".
1) In the first sense it would mean opinion, viewpoint or way of thinking. Opinion’s of taste, art etc but then too that the sound outside is of an aeroplane or that the road is clear to cross.
2) In the second sense it means to have confidence, trust or reliance in something or someone.
3) In the third sense it means to have faith as in freedom from doubt in something for which there is zero evidence.
4) In the fourth sense belief is a doctrine, teaching, creed, dogma or ideology etc.

What do atheists believe? Well, by definition they don’t - precisely because they are defined by the antonyms of belief being words such as disbelief, doubt and sceptical.

Atheism or atheists can only become active in the sense that it/they critique(s) the language used by theists – active atheists simply demonstrate their scepticism by the picking of holes in theistic dogma bringing to the surface those carefully buried fallacies of the dogma. By pointing out how dishonest it is. So again, Atheism is honesty and active atheism is the public dispensing of dishonesty regarding belief systems of the 3rd and 4th sense.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 1:27 pm 
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I was readin the article above and hit a line i didn't like or agree with..
"Those Atheists who want to adhere to the "strong" or "positive" definition of the word "atheist" should perhaps consider creating a new word that best describes their position because "atheist" isn't it."

How Harsh.

I am an Atheist and an Anti-theist (someone with an equal and opposite belief to that of a Theist).

I do not believe in a God...I also believe there are no Gods.

Now I know there are some among us that have no belief whatsoever (Or atleast claim not to) and this is the minimum requirement for an atheist.

However someone who believes there are no Gods is also a type of Atheist (as he also lacks the belief that Gods exist).

I could lack a belief in Gods but believe in fairies and still be an atheist.
I could lack a belief in Gods but believe in giant monkeys from mars and still be an atheist.

The fact that you are trying to distance yourself from a group of people (i like the word Anti-Theist) that have no belief in Gods is indicative of a narrow mind.

Atheist is a HUGE all encompassing term for anyone who is not a theist. Why are you turning against a group for just voicing an opinion.


If you were on a fantasy game show and were asked the question do you believe a God Exists, Yes/No with any pass or 'don't know' being automatically the wrong answer (assume the answer is known to the asker)
What would you pick?
Atheists would pick 'No'
Theists would pick 'Yes'


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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 3:39 pm 
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Hercules

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Skitzee2k wrote:
I was readin the article above and hit a line i didn't like or agree with..
"Those Atheists who want to adhere to the "strong" or "positive" definition of the word "atheist" should perhaps consider creating a new word that best describes their position because "atheist" isn't it."

How Harsh.

I am an Atheist and an Anti-theist (someone with an equal and opposite belief to that of a Theist).

I do not believe in a God...I also believe there are no Gods.

Now I know there are some among us that have no belief whatsoever (Or atleast claim not to) and this is the minimum requirement for an atheist.


I do not think either you or the original poster have properly defined your terms.

What exactly is a strong or positive definition of the word "atheist"? I have no idea what this means.

What do you mean when you say you also know that some among us have no belief whatsoever? I am at a total loss here too.

You might actually agree with each other on the issue - if you first determined what that issue was.

_________________
You'll see it when you believe it.

When a hammer is your only tool then every problem looks like a nail.

Nies Bohr was at a friend's house and asked "Do you really believe in this?" to which his friend replied "Oh, no. but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it."

Stop telling God what to do with his dice!


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 Post subject: ok...well....
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 4:37 pm 
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Thor

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Well the original poster is saying that a true atheist is someone who lacks belief in Gods.
They also claim that people who call themselves atheist and then instead of sticking to the "I lack belief in Gods" line, go on to say "I believe that no Gods exist" are damaging the atheist cause as it suggests Atheism is about a BELIEF that there is No Gods instead of the correct definition, a LACK of belief in any Gods.

My point is that you can have both and still be an atheist, no amount of me believing that there aren't any Gods will interfere with lack of belief in Gods. I know, I know, it's just a language problem, but i don't think so.

If you think of Atheist as anything that isn't theist.
Cabbages aren't theist. Monkeys aren't theist. Dogs aren't theist.
Rocks aren't theist. So technically all of these things are atheist.

These things however are not anti-theist (strong atheist), which is (by my definition) an active belief that there are no Gods.

Just so we are clear, and not to beat the point to death....

Everything that isn't theist is Atheist, but not everything(one) that is Atheist is anti-theist.


This boils down to the fact that most 'weak theists' try to avoid the word 'belief'. There is a stigma with that word which is down to the misuse of it by theists.

You see theists by definition have 'faith' rather than belief and it's for that reason that I want non-theists to take it back.

Quote:
What do you mean when you say you also know that some among us have no belief whatsoever? I am at a total loss here too.


Well the true definition or minimum qualification for the use of the word Atheist is 'Someone who lacks belief in Gods'.

But a lot of atheists reject that they have a belief that Gods don't exist, like our original poster for example. This means that they neither Believe that Gods exist OR believe that Gods do not exist....so they believe in "Nothing".

I am very skeptical of this. Can a coherent and conscious person believe in NOTHING? Surely they have a gut feeling either way? Even if it changes from time to time, at any particular moment they have got to believe something right??
What are YOUR opinions? Can a person be an atheist without being an anti-theist?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 7:59 pm 
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Thor

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Is the glass half full or is it half empty?

What is the true aim of such a question? There is one, and only one, aim of such a question and that is, an attempt to force the respondent into giving an answer that can only be subjective. The question seeks to ascertain whether the respondent is an optimist or a pessimist. In sales they call that the alternate of choice close. For example, "which car do you like better, the blue one or the red one?" It could be considered a form of framing. You, the salesperson, set the frame for the customer, and the frame you have set is an either/or choice, which tricks the customer's mind into believing that there are only those two choices. The customer "forgets" that there are other choices and they respond to the question in the affirmative, one way or the other. The human mind makes emotional decisions first, and rationalizes after. What follows rationalization is typically demonstration. Having rationalized the emotional decision that was made initially, the individual then feels compelled to demonstrate the strength of the conviction. Which, in my example, results in the customer buying a car, and all because they failed to recognize that the first question was a set-up, which set a frame that far too many people are not cognizant enough to escape from.

Now then, is the glass half full or half empty? As for me, I've always refused the choices, or more specifically, denied the inquisitor the opportunity to frame my thoughts into an either/or choice. I am neither optimist nor pessimist, I am a realist. It is what it is. It is a glass which has 1/2 of its storage capacity occupied by liquid.

What has that to do with atheism? It should be apparent by now, but I'll explain anyway.

Atheism is what it is. As noted in one of the quotes from the original post, atheism is nothing more than - without god, or let's say, without a god. That's it. Anything else is an attempt to frame the definition in a subjective context.

An atheist is someone who is without a god. Whether that stems from disbelief or belief is actually irrelevant.

Why is that important? I'll get to that in a minute, but first let me make one other point.

I have little doubt that all of us have observed someone who has gone from drugs, alcohol, or otherwise, into religion. Most of us recognize that this is typically a case of trading one addiction for another. And many of us can recognize the inherent insincerity in such a person's purported beliefs, especially in the immediate weeks and months after their "conversion". Conversion is the correct term, but, at the heart of the matter, it is not their beliefs that have been converted, only their addiction. Religion satiates the emotional needs that used to be numbed by some other addiction. Whatever emotional pain is felt, can be drowned by the intoxicant of choice, or it can be drowned by "God's love." And neither one cures the person of their emotional pain, it simply drowns it, or drowns it out.

So now, why is it important that atheism mean nothing more than "without a god"? Well, it's quite simple actually. Theists, as a general rule, run around believing and claiming that their beliefs are the one, and only, true and correct beliefs. Each believes that they are "God's chosen people". It seems to me that I recall reading an article by Acharya addressing the inherent arrogance and condescension that go along with being one of "God's chosen people".

So why do atheists fight amonst themselves over what is the true and proper definition of atheism? You ought to see it by now, but I'll tell you anyway. They have traded religion, for the lack thereof, but they persist in the battle for supremacy to be the only people to have the one, and only, truth. And in that, they have simply traded one "addiction" for another.

As outlined in the original post, atheism can stem from disbelief, or from belief, and each side wants, dare I say, needs, their version to be the correct version. It is nothing more than a variation on the tired old battle about whose definition of God is more accurate. And excuse me for saying so, but just as with the arguments over whose version of God is more accurate, so too it is with arguments over whose version of atheism is more correct --- it is little more than an adult version of, "my dad can beat up your dad".

Some Christians are Catholic, some Christians are Methodists, some Christians are Lutheran, and so on, ad nauseum. Atheism should remain what it is, simply, without a god. If you feel a need for a finer definition from there, you can come up with a prefix, such as, I am an "N" atheist, or, I am a "Z" atheist.


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 Post subject: Re: ok...well....
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 9:31 pm 
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Hercules

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Dash, I see you just posted a reply - I have browsed it and feel it is almost entirely comprised of fallacies. Particularly the fallacy of composition. Anyway, it is 2am here and I only have enough thinking power to make a quick comment in reply to Skitzee.

Skitzee2k wrote:
Well the original poster is saying that a true atheist is someone who lacks belief in Gods.
They also claim that people who call themselves atheist and then instead of sticking to the "I lack belief in Gods" line, go on to say "I believe that no Gods exist" are damaging the atheist cause as it suggests Atheism is about a BELIEF that there is No Gods instead of the correct definition, a LACK of belief in any Gods.

My point is that you can have both and still be an atheist, no amount of me believing that there aren't any Gods will interfere with lack of belief in Gods. I know, I know, it's just a language problem, but i don't think so.

If you think of Atheist as anything that isn't theist.
Cabbages aren't theist. Monkeys aren't theist. Dogs aren't theist.
Rocks aren't theist. So technically all of these things are atheist.

These things however are not anti-theist (strong atheist), which is (by my definition) an active belief that there are no Gods.

Just so we are clear, and not to beat the point to death....

Everything that isn't theist is Atheist, but not everything(one) that is Atheist is anti-theist.


Okay, makes sense to me - I must agree with the logic. When I use the word logic I mean logic - I do not mean intuition or common sense, each of which I find to be in contradiction or contrary to logic perhaps 90% of the time.


Quote:
This boils down to the fact that most 'weak theists' try to avoid the word 'belief'. There is a stigma with that word which is down to the misuse of it by theists.

You see theists by definition have 'faith' rather than belief and it's for that reason that I want non-theists to take it back.


You lost me there. Faith is included as a synonym within one of the 4 senses of "belief" which I included in my first reply above. Are you alluding to a habit of equivocation here as I did in my first reply post above?


Quote:
Quote:
What do you mean when you say you also know that some among us have no belief whatsoever? I am at a total loss here too.


Well the true definition or minimum qualification for the use of the word Atheist is 'Someone who lacks belief in Gods'.

But a lot of atheists reject that they have a belief that Gods don't exist, like our original poster for example. This means that they neither Believe that Gods exist OR believe that Gods do not exist....so they believe in "Nothing".

I am very skeptical of this. Can a coherent and conscious person believe in NOTHING? Surely they have a gut feeling either way? Even if it changes from time to time, at any particular moment they have got to believe something right??
What are YOUR opinions? Can a person be an atheist without being an anti-theist?


A lack of belief simply means to me that one has not sought to prove or disprove but neither has received any evidence that would induce a level of curiosity amounting to a belief.

Belief that there are no gods suggests that not only has no evidence inducing a curiosity toward belief occurred but also that upon a strong gut feel that there are no gods the individual has taken an interest in analysing and critiquing the claims made for gods and so gone onto conclude that there cannot be a god. Always the small unlikely possibility that there was a creator - but one that didn't care to also be a god.

An example of how I rationalize a belief that there are no gods. This is the word belief per sense 1 of my first post...

Consider evil acts committed by man.

They either happen because a god gave us free will but not being an omnipotent god it could not predict what man would do with his free will and so is curious to find out. Under such circumstances the god will not meddle to prevent evil and so is no god but instead an observing creator with limited abilities.

Or evil happens because god is omnipotent and fully intended things to happen exactly as they have happened and how they will always happen. In which case again the creator will never meddle and neither needs to hang around to watch what happens since it always knew what was going to happen. This creator does not meddle and so again is not also a god.

Active or positive atheism to me is simply activities enjoyed by the philosophising atheist. Discussion is the stuff humanity is built on. Active atheists partake in the spice of humanity - dialectics.

_________________
You'll see it when you believe it.

When a hammer is your only tool then every problem looks like a nail.

Nies Bohr was at a friend's house and asked "Do you really believe in this?" to which his friend replied "Oh, no. but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it."

Stop telling God what to do with his dice!


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2009 11:07 pm 
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Thor

Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:36 pm
Posts: 23
Marc O'Brien wrote:
Dash, I see you just posted a reply - I have browsed it and feel it is almost entirely comprised of fallacies. Particularly the fallacy of composition. Anyway, it is 2am here and I only have enough thinking power to make a quick comment in reply to Skitzee.


I can appreciate that you were considerate enough to comment that you were not ignoring my post and I look forward to your reply. I can also respect that you didn't feel it necessary to deliver a personal insult, rather, you simply state that I've used fallacies. I assume you will want to tell me of all of the logical fallacies that I have used. You will not be first, nor the last, to make that accusation. Fact is, I'm probably guilty as charged, and them some. But fallacies pertain to logic and proofs, generally in the realm of debate, and I'm not particularly interested in debate. I very much prefer discussion, which, to my view, consists of little more than an exchange of ideas. Debate, by its very nature, assumes a combative posture, and as such, it has as its aim the defeat of the opponent, or put differently, the silence of the opponent. I'm not interested in silencing anyone, nor am I particularly interested in being silenced. Debate seeks to arrive at one, and only one, victor. And it seeks to arrive at one, and only one, answer. Sounds too much like religion for my tastes. The inherent paradox in debate is that it is something that can only be begun with the intention of bringing itself to an end. And that too is terribly reminiscent of religion and all of their doomsday prophecies.

I tend to use anecdote and analogy to express my thoughts, and in truth, they could probably be summarized quite easily without all the excessive rambling that typically characterizes the use of anecdote and analogy. For example, my earlier post could have been summarized simply by stating my opinion that any infighting between different factions of atheism is ridiculous and unnecessary, and that people could instead use qualifying labels to declare which type of atheist they are. And that particular view, I stand by, regardless of any fallacies that may or may not be present in my earlier post.

Fact is, analogy and anecdote probably contain logical fallacies more often than not, and they are certainly not sufficient to prove anything. Analogy and anecdote are only relevant for illustration, and to offer a perspective, and if I've accomplished that, then I've done what I set out to do and I find myself content.

Now, having said all of that, I can't help but be curious as to where you find fault with my post, so please feel free to critique.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 5:28 am 
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Thor

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@Marc Ok. So we are agreed that although all you need to be an atheist is the lack of belief in Gods, we shouldn't exclude people who believe that no Gods exist from term as they are atheist as well as anti-theist.

My suggestion that theists and atheists use the word belief in a different way. You original post is helpful here Marc

Quote:
Senses of the word "Belief".
1) In the first sense it would mean opinion, viewpoint or way of thinking. Opinion’s of taste, art etc but then too that the sound outside is of an aeroplane or that the road is clear to cross.
2) In the second sense it means to have confidence, trust or reliance in something or someone.
3) In the third sense it means to have faith as in freedom from doubt in something for which there is zero evidence.
4) In the fourth sense belief is a doctrine, teaching, creed, dogma or ideology etc.


Theists tend to have use 3/4. Anti-theists have 1/2.

I believe the sun will come up tomorrow. I trust that it will, based on evidence.

Certain Theists believe that a carpenter from 2000 years ago, firstly existed, was the son of a God,( a God that created the world in 7 days, created humans out of dust and ribs and other completely equally interesting achievements) had meetings with the devil, that he was killed and brought back to life, rose up to heaven, came back to earth, gave his powers to some groupies and is in fact not just the son of god but is a third of a Godhead.

I would say this is on a completely different level to me believing the sun will come up tomorrow.
They have faith and dogma. (a fixed dogma at that).
I have belief and trust. (i have trust which can be broken and reinvented if need be).

I'll ask your opinion on this again. Do you think it is possible for people to both lack a belief in the existence of Gods AND lack a belief in the non-existence. If we say belief in this respect is an opinion?
I don't see how you can.
I believe that you are either one of the other.
Theist or atheist.
And I think any conscious atheist is deep down an anti-theist because if they don't have a belief in the non-existence of Gods then they HAVE a belief in the existence of Gods and are infact theists.

The only things that can be atheists (non theists) without also being anti-theists(strong atheists...blah blah blah) are unconscious objects, or people, like coma patients, babies, plants, animals, rocks etc.

This is obviously opinion, but if you can come up with a situation when a conscious person is neither a theist or an anti-theist, i'd like to hear it.

:)

@Dash.

When the sales person asks what car do you prefer he is not asking you for your favorite colour he is asking which one you prefer. Your example also doesn't work as you could perhaps like both colours the same.
However, belief or lack of belief in Gods are exclusive. You can't, by the very nature of the belief, have both.

So if you can answer this question without confirming an atheist or a theist point of view i'd be very interested. The only requirement is that you HAVE to answer, say I don't know, or pass, is a refusal to answer as I am not asking you whether you KNOW, i am askin opinion.

Do you have belief in the existence of a God or Gods?


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 8:51 am 
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Thor

Joined: Sat Aug 08, 2009 9:36 pm
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Skitzee2k wrote:
@Dash.

When the sales person asks what car do you prefer he is not asking you for your favorite colour he is asking which one you prefer. Your example also doesn't work as you could perhaps like both colours the same.
However, belief or lack of belief in Gods are exclusive. You can't, by the very nature of the belief, have both.

So if you can answer this question without confirming an atheist or a theist point of view i'd be very interested. The only requirement is that you HAVE to answer, say I don't know, or pass, is a refusal to answer as I am not asking you whether you KNOW, i am askin opinion.

Do you have belief in the existence of a God or Gods?


I meant the example of the salesperson asking which color car one prefers to be in reference to two specific cars, not a generalization. I guess I could have said the red 2005 Lincoln or the blue 2006 Cadillac. An experienced salesperson will tell you that the alternate of choice close does work relatively frequently, though no close works in each and every case. But I don't want to steer away from the original topic.

My point of not being framed into an either/or decision was in reference to the definition of atheism, not one's particular belief, or disbelief, about the existence of a god. The example of the cars was meant only as an illustration that sometimes we are given an either/or choice, when there are, in fact, other options. The question posed in the original post was, which is the correct definition of atheism? I would maintain that atheism encompasses both viewpoints, and that further distinctions from there would require qualifying labels.

I just honestly don't get why atheists find it necessary to engage in infighting trying to prove that theirs is the true and proper definition of atheism. As I said, to me it's far too reminiscent of the religious battle over whose is the one true God. Trying to settle conclusively, which is the correct definition of atheism, has as much chance of success as man's attempts to settle the debate of which is the one true God, which is to say, not much.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 9:21 am 
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Thor

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@Dash, before you replied I re-read your post and thought that might be what you were getting at but I thought I'd wait until you replied to clarify, sorry if I misunderstood you.

in that case I agree...to an extent.

To give an analogy to what I see being the difference between strong and weak atheism is similar to this following statement.

To be a beer drinker you have to drink a beer.
However if you have drunk 2 beers you are STILL a beer drinker.

In this article we have a 'beer drinker' who has only drunk one beer suggesting that the person who has drunk 2 beers to find a name other than 'beer drinker'. Which is just plain silly.

And again..
I see lack of belief in Gods and the belief that Gods don't exist as pretty much the same thing to a conscious mind.

Only inanimate objects or unconscious people can be Atheist without being Anti-theist in my opinion.


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 1:22 pm 
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Hercules

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Dash wrote:
Is the glass half full or is it half empty?

What is the true aim of such a question? There is one, and only one, aim of such a question and that is, an attempt to force the respondent into giving an answer that can only

be subjective. The question seeks to ascertain whether the respondent is an optimist or a pessimist. In sales they call that the alternate of choice close. For example,

"which car do you like better, the blue one or the red one?" It could be considered a form of framing. You, the salesperson, set the frame for the customer, and the frame you

have set is an either/or choice, which tricks the customer's mind into believing that there are only those two choices. The customer "forgets" that there are other choices and

they respond to the question in the affirmative, one way or the other. The human mind makes emotional decisions first, and rationalizes after. What follows rationalization is

typically demonstration. Having rationalized the emotional decision that was made initially, the individual then feels compelled to demonstrate the strength of the conviction.

Which, in my example, results in the customer buying a car, and all because they failed to recognize that the first question was a set-up, which set a frame that far too many

people are not cognizant enough to escape from.


Okay Dash,

The fallacy you refer to above is called the fallacy of the false dilemma. Example: You are either with us or against us. This fallacy atempts to exclude those who do not care, those who have not made up there minds yet and those who are not even aware of the situation.


Quote:
Now then, is the glass half full or half empty? As for me, I've always refused the choices, or more specifically, denied the inquisitor the opportunity to frame my thoughts into an either/or choice. I am neither optimist nor pessimist, I am a realist. It is what it is. It is a glass which has 1/2 of its storage capacity occupied by liquid.


This begs the question though - it assumes to be true precisely the point in question. What is actually meant by the word "Atheist"? That is the question. It is a question of form. A question about what do all forms or types of atheism share in common. It is an answer that can only be discovered by dialectics.

Atheist

1) A person who denies or disbelieves the existence of God or gods. Opposite of a theist, (formerly) deist.
2) A person who denies God morally; a godless person.

To me an atheist is someone who subscribes to sense 1 above - they either deny the existence of God or gods or they simply disbelieve the existence of God or gods. They cannot, however, reasonably state with certainty that there is/was no creator of the universe. I think it is highly unlikely that the sun will fail to rise tomorrow as I think it highly unlikely that our universe was "created" - none the less, these are induced conclusions which it is impossible to be absolutely certain of. We can only think in trms of probabilities.

Quote:
What has that to do with atheism? It should be apparent by now, but I'll explain anyway.

Atheism is what it is. As noted in one of the quotes from the original post, atheism is nothing more than - without god, or let's say, without a god. That's it. Anything else is an attempt to frame the definition in a subjective context.


What does "without God" mean to you? I read your definition and suddenly my mind overflows with questions. What does it imply? What assumptions does it draw upon - what are the secondary implications of those assumptions? You have an aweful lot of explainaing to do, Dash

Quote:
An atheist is someone who is without a god. Whether that stems from disbelief or belief is actually irrelevant.


Okay, so now suddenly you are attempting to join in with the dialectics - you are pertaking in mans greatest gift - the ability to reason and share the reasoning process with others to the point where each can critique each others reasoning to dispense with all false reasoning and eventually hopefully all be left with only true or valid reasonings.

Why then do you think it is irrelevent whether it stems from disbelief or belief? Before you answer could you confirm what sense of the word disbelief you are employing and then also what sense of the word belief you are employing.

Quote:
Why is that important? I'll get to that in a minute, but first let me make one other point.

I have little doubt that all of us have observed someone who has gone from drugs...SNIP...or drowns it out.


Yes, I can understand the exchanging from one fix to another fix. I often see the preferance for Jesus' teachings (Greek philosophy watered down with sophism) as a quick fix version of the more noble activity of reading the original greek philosophy works.

Quote:
So now, why is it important that atheism mean nothing more than "without a god"? Well, it's quite simple actually. Theists, as a general rule, run around believing and

claiming that their beliefs are the one, and only, true and correct beliefs. Each believes that they are "God's chosen people". It seems to me that I recall reading an article

by Acharya addressing the inherent arrogance and condescension that go along with being one of "God's chosen people".


I'm sorry, but this is the fallacy of composition. It is similar to the fallacy of equivocation. The greek sophists used to commit this fallacy often. It is the fallacy of accidental similarities of words. For instance this dog is YOUR dog and this dog is also a FATHER of puppies. That makes the dog YOUR FATHER and the puppies your brothers and sisters.

Atheism is honesty - see my first reply above. What atheists are doing when they are active is to philosophise. Philosophy is the critical examination of ours and others convictions, prejudices and beliefs. The man who has no tincture for philosophy (Dialectics/Debate/Discussion) goes through life imprisoned in the prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his nation and from convictions that have grown up in his mind without the co-operation or consent of his deliberate reason. To a person without philosophy (Dialectics/Debate/Discussion) the world tends to become definite, finite, obvious where common objects rouse no questions and unfamiliar possibilities are contemptuously rejected. To seek a universally accepted definition of the word atheist is to philosophise.

Quote:
So why do atheists fight amonst themselves over what is the true and proper definition of atheism?


Atheist do not fight over this? Do they? Where is there an atheist "fighting" over the definition of atheism?

Quote:
As outlined in the original post, atheism can stem from disbelief, or from belief, and each side wants, dare I say, needs, their version to be the correct version. It is nothing more than a variation on the tired old battle about whose definition of God is more accurate. And excuse me for saying so, but just as with the arguments over whose version of God is more accurate, so too it is with arguments over whose version of atheism is more correct --- it is little more than an adult version of, "my dad can beat up your dad".


Utter nonsense, the matter of gods and the belief in them is precisely only because of a bewitchment of words. There is absolutely no evidence of any gods and too a negative cannot be disproved which means the battle to establish only true beliefs and to dispense with all false beliefs can only be won with words. And it is a very very very important battle to win. Islamification of Europe is only being allowed to happen because too many people take your mistaken view on the matter.

Quote:
Some Christians are Catholic, some Christians are Methodists, some Christians are Lutheran, and so on, ad nauseum. Atheism should remain what it is, simply, without a god. If you feel a need for a finer definition from there, you can come up with a prefix, such as, I am an "N" atheist, or, I am a "Z" atheist.


Well, maybe, maybe not. Maybe there should not be an atheism and instead many atheisms. But also perhaps all atheisms can be en-captured by a single definition. And perhaps they already are. I'm interested to know where things are so far on the matter.

But you don't seem to realise that one minute you are suggesting that no debate should be had on the question but then in the next minute you suggest that there should be some sort of prefixed categorising of the spectrum of atheisms. You are hardly consistent and actually of no help to the matter at all. We haven't even established a solid agreement on a definition or whether a universal definition is possible and yet you already want to jump onto a categorising system.

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When a hammer is your only tool then every problem looks like a nail.

Nies Bohr was at a friend's house and asked "Do you really believe in this?" to which his friend replied "Oh, no. but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it."

Stop telling God what to do with his dice!


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:07 pm 
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Hercules

Joined: Tue Apr 15, 2008 6:16 am
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Dash wrote:
I can appreciate that you were considerate enough to comment that you were not ignoring my post and I look forward to your reply. I can also respect that you didn't feel it necessary to deliver a personal insult, rather, you simply state that I've used fallacies.


Dash, I never deliver personal insults. That is the ad hominem fallacy. If the reference to the person is of no logical consequence to the argument, such as it might be that your shoe laces are loose right now and I point this out as a "defense" against you accusing me of being inconsistent in my arguments then that is an irrelevant changing from the subject on my part. A mere distraction. However, there is another form of ad hominem which is completely valid - that is when you turn the argument back onto the person for valid reasons because that person is being inconsistent. You might argue that all forms of killing are wrong and then later you argue in favour of the death penalty. I would "attack" you personally on account of this inconsistency but it would not be an ad hominem fallacy - it would simply be an ad hominem move.

Quote:
I assume you will want to tell me of all of the logical fallacies that I have used. You will not be first, nor the last, to make that accusation. Fact is, I'm probably guilty as charged, and them some. But fallacies pertain to logic and proofs, generally in the realm of debate, and I'm not particularly interested in debate.


Not interested in debate? What are the alternatives to debate? Sermons? Assertions?

Quote:
I very much prefer discussion, which, to my view, consists of little more than an exchange of ideas. Debate, by its very nature, assumes a combative posture, and as such, it has as its aim the defeat of the opponent, or put differently, the silence of the opponent.


I prefer the term argument. I think debate is too gentle a word - it suggests, to me at least, that the intellectually challenged should be catered for. We argue to get at the facts and we quarrel to get at other people - usually at the expense of the facts. I will take it that you mean to say that you do not like quarreling. Of course, by definition quarreling is something no body likes anyway. So nothing new or unexpected is actually being claimed when we say such things. Consider the argument All mammals are warm blooded, man is a mammal, therefore man is warm blooded. This is a deductive argument but it really begs the question - you see we actually had to know first whether man was warm blooded before we could categorise him as a mammal and so it would have been more directly logical to simply state that man is warm blooded. And that, Dash, is an example of what I would call an argument and it would appear in similar format if you and I were sitting face to face discussing it.

Quote:
I'm not interested in silencing anyone, nor am I particularly interested in being silenced. Debate seeks to arrive at one, and only one, victor. And it seeks to arrive at one, and only one, answer. Sounds too much like religion for my tastes. The inherent paradox in debate is that it is something that can only be begun with the intention of bringing itself to an end. And that too is terribly reminiscent of religion and all of their doomsday prophecies.


Debate, argument, dialectics, discussion etc are not about silencing anyone willy nilly. It is about silencing false beliefs and about discovering and proclaiming only true beliefs. If your belief, that the road is clear, happens to be wrong and you cross the road anyway you could kill yourself and others as a consequence of the ensuing chaos. It would be a very good thing instead to ensure that you only held true beliefs. For your own good and for the good of others. Letting you keep false beliefs - that the road is clear - can silence you forever.

Quote:
I tend to use anecdote and analogy to express my thoughts, and in truth, they could probably be summarized quite easily without all the excessive rambling that typically characterizes the use of anecdote and analogy. For example, my earlier post could have been summarized simply by stating my opinion that any infighting between different factions of atheism is ridiculous and unnecessary, and that people could instead use qualifying labels to declare which type of atheist they are. And that particular view, I stand by, regardless of any fallacies that may or may not be present in my earlier post.


But then if you presented the argument in that fashion it in fact would not be an argument. You do not present any premises to support the conclusion. You merely assert the conclusion.

Quote:
Fact is, analogy and anecdote probably contain logical fallacies more often than not, and they are certainly not sufficient to prove anything. Analogy and anecdote are only relevant for illustration, and to offer a perspective, and if I've accomplished that, then I've done what I set out to do and I find myself content.


Analogy is used to argue inductively. Socrates argued by analogy. Most often the analogy's worked but sometimes they were not sufficiently relevant and thus were fallacious.

Quote:
Now, having said all of that, I can't help but be curious as to where you find fault with my post, so please feel free to critique.


Dash - in the UK we would refer to your thoughts as presented in these posts as mere "babble" :)

That is not a personal attack. It is a valid criticism of your style.

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Nies Bohr was at a friend's house and asked "Do you really believe in this?" to which his friend replied "Oh, no. but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it."

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PostPosted: Fri Aug 28, 2009 2:57 pm 
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Hercules

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Skitzee2k wrote:
@Marc Ok. So we are agreed that although all you need to be an atheist is the lack of belief in Gods, we shouldn't exclude people who believe that no Gods exist from term as they are atheist as well as anti-theist.

My suggestion that theists and atheists use the word belief in a different way. You original post is helpful here Marc

Quote:
Senses of the word "Belief".
1) In the first sense it would mean opinion, viewpoint or way of thinking. Opinion’s of taste, art etc but then too that the sound outside is of an aeroplane or that the road is clear to cross.
2) In the second sense it means to have confidence, trust or reliance in something or someone.
3) In the third sense it means to have faith as in freedom from doubt in something for which there is zero evidence.
4) In the fourth sense belief is a doctrine, teaching, creed, dogma or ideology etc.


Theists tend to have use 3/4. Anti-theists have 1/2.

I believe the sun will come up tomorrow. I trust that it will, based on evidence.


I think the atheist who merely disbelieves is an atheist who has no compunction to publicly argue the issue. I think the atheist who believes there are no gods is the philosophising atheist who cares that others should also hold only properly reasoned beliefs.

I know that people do not have a right to belief anything they want. I am collecting arguments in support of this for an article I hope Acharya will publish for me on one of her sites in the next few months when I have had the time to put it together. This article should encourage atheists who simply disbelieve to reason and debate with others to establish actually that no gods exist.

Quote:
Certain Theists believe that a carpenter from 2000 years ago, firstly existed, was the son of a God,( a God that created the world in 7 days, created humans out of dust and ribs and other completely equally interesting achievements) had meetings with the devil, that he was killed and brought back to life, rose up to heaven, came back to earth, gave his powers to some groupies and is in fact not just the son of god but is a third of a Godhead.

I would say this is on a completely different level to me believing the sun will come up tomorrow.
They have faith and dogma. (a fixed dogma at that).
I have belief and trust. (i have trust which can be broken and reinvented if need be).


If there was a single shred of evidence then there would be no need for faith. They have been bewitched into not realising that it is only on account of the fact that there is zero evidence of any truth of any of their beliefs that they are compelled to seek faith. A euphemism for ignorance and prejudice.

Quote:
I'll ask your opinion on this again. Do you think it is possible for people to both lack a belief in the existence of Gods AND lack a belief in the non-existence. If we say belief in this respect is an opinion?


I do think that one cannot both lack a belief in gods and then not believe gods do not exist at the same time. At first glance the question is a matter of contradictions rather than a matter of contraries.

Quote:
I don't see how you can.
I believe that you are either one of the other.
Theist or atheist.
And I think any conscious atheist is deep down an anti-theist because if they don't have a belief in the non-existence of Gods then they HAVE a belief in the existence of Gods and are infact theists.


I know some theist who accept as one of their own precisely those who lack the conviction that there are no gods, that merely doubt the existence of gods.

Quote:
The only things that can be atheists (non theists) without also being anti-theists (strong atheists...blah blah blah) are unconscious objects, or people, like coma patients, babies, plants, animals, rocks etc.


Indeed, if we imagine a world only of material. No life and therefore no conscience. Only facts. Facts such as water, rocks, sand, air etc. These would only be facts and there would be not a single truth. In the sense that there are truths and falsehoods. Truths and falsehoods are properties of beliefs or statements and so a world of only matter without beliefs or statements would contain no truths or falsehoods. I think it is a very good philosophical question that you ask. I think it is dishonest to state that there is not a single possibility that there ever was a creator but I think it even more, much more, dishonest to state that there is a god who fiddles with our things.

Quote:
This is obviously opinion, but if you can come up with a situation when a conscious person is neither a theist or an anti-theist, i'd like to hear it. :)


I am interested too to see whether I can come up with an example circumstance.

_________________
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Nies Bohr was at a friend's house and asked "Do you really believe in this?" to which his friend replied "Oh, no. but I am told it works even if you don't believe in it."

Stop telling God what to do with his dice!


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