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Thread: What exactly is atheism?

  1. #1
    Valued Senior Member Jan Ardena's Avatar
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    What exactly is atheism?

    A point that is often made by athiests when discussing with theists, is that they don't have a full understanding of 'atheism.
    This thread is based on a discussion myself and phlogistian is currently having, who believes I do not understand atheism, and atheists.

    My understanding of 'atheism' is simply this; one who does not believe in God for whatever reason. I believe this is an adequate definition of atheism, anything more just confuses the issue.

    So what is atheism? The first place to look for definitions is the dictionary, and everyone i have looked in more or less agrees with my definition.
    Next is to look at the definitions given by atheists themselves, as they seem to believe only they have full understanding.
    I will examine the definition given by Cris, as he is a respected, and intelligent atheist on these forums.
    My aim is to show that no matter how much spin you cast on the term, it means nothing more than my definition. one who does not believe in God for whatever reason.

    Atheism is characterized by an absence of belief in the existence of gods. This absence of belief generally comes about either through deliberate choice, or from an inherent inability to believe religious teachings which seem literally incredible. It is not a lack of belief born out of simple ignorance of religious teachings.
    Cutting through the verbiage, he says here that "Atheism is characterized by an "bsence of belief in the existence of gods."
    The difference between this def, and my def, comes down to 1word, "absence. Other than that it is basically as I stated; one who does not believe in God for whatever reason. "Absence" means, not there, not present. So ones belief in God is
    not present, meaning one does not believe in God.

    Next, Cris says

    "Some atheists go beyond a mere absence of belief in gods: they actively believe that particular gods, or all gods, do not exist. Just lacking belief in Gods is often referred to as the "weak atheist" position; whereas believing that gods do not (or cannot) exist is known as "strong atheism".
    Let me remind you of my definition; one who does not believe in God for whatever reason.
    Whether or not one is regarded as a "weak" or "strong" atheist, their position of being an "atheist" does not change. They still adhere to my definition of atheism.

    Cris goes on to say;

    "t is important, however, to note the difference between the strong and weak atheist positions. "Weak atheism" is simple scepticism; disbelief in the existence of God. "Strong atheism" is an explicitly held belief that God does not exist. Please do not fall into the trap of assuming that all atheists are "strong atheists". There is a qualitative difference in the "strong" and "weak" positions; it's not just a matter of degree.
    Here, all that Cris is saying is that there are different variations of atheism. It actually makes no difference in real terms whether one is weak or soft, the underlying thing is, they don't believe in God, for whatever reason, which is what atheism actually means.

    Please note that these are also relivant to theism.

    So please explain where I have misunderstood the atheism.

    jan.

  2. #2
    Atheism is pure evil.

  3. #3
    Seriously.. I don't get what the difficulty is.

    Atheist = someone that lacks belief in any deity.

  4. #4
    uniquely dreadful S.A.M.'s Avatar
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    You can't lack belief, you disbelieve

  5. #5
    had a mod but let him go spidergoat's Avatar
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    I would emphasize that it's not simply disbelieving in God (monotheism), but also Gods (polytheism), spirits, demons, ghosts, angels, miracles, and any supernatural concepts. The word describes both actively disbelieving and simply an absense of belief, and thus is somewhat imprecise.

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M. View Post
    You can't lack belief, you disbelieve
    Ok..

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Enmos View Post
    Atheism is pure evil.
    Who said religion is not pure evil also ? !.

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by mike47 View Post
    Who said religion is not pure evil also ? !.
    Relax..

  9. #9
    until the end of the world greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan Ardena View Post
    My understanding of 'atheism' is simply this; one who does not believe in God for whatever reason. I believe this is an adequate definition of atheism, anything more just confuses the issue.
    Would you say that I am the same kind of atheist as -to give some names so as to provide examples- Cris, Phlogistician, SnakeLord, Spidergoat, Avatar, Enmos etc. ? And that I should be spoken to and discussed with in the same manner as they?

    I would not call myself either "theist" or "atheist", as I do not feel close to either of these labels - but in effect, this does make me an atheist.


    You say an atheist is "one who does not believe in God for whatever reason". Do you think that "for whatever reason" is irrelevant?

    People arrive at atheism for a number of reasons, reasons that they are not necessarily aware of, or able or willing to verbalize.
    I suppose that if a person's purpose is to bring them back to God, these reasons would need to be taken into account. I think there is a difference between the atheist who claims to be an atheist "because there is no evidence of god(s)" and the atheist who is an atheist because he thinks God hates him, and so on.

    Surely theistic arguments per se are objective and can stand on their own - but communication with atheists is not a strict theistic discussion, is it? I think it is preaching, acting on the intent to bring people back to God. And as such, I think the individual atheist's karma needs to be taken into account - in the sense that the preacher chooses those theistic arguments that the individual atheist will be able to understand and implement the instructions given.

  10. #10
    Registered Senior Member Myles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    Would you say that I am the same kind of atheist as -to give some names so as to provide examples- Cris, Phlogistician, SnakeLord, Spidergoat, Avatar, Enmos etc. ? And that I should be spoken to and discussed with in the same manner as they?

    I would not call myself either "theist" or "atheist", as I do not feel close to either of these labels - but in effect, this does make me an atheist.


    You say an atheist is "one who does not believe in God for whatever reason". Do you think that "for whatever reason" is irrelevant?

    People arrive at atheism for a number of reasons, reasons that they are not necessarily aware of, or able or willing to verbalize.
    I suppose that if a person's purpose is to bring them back to God, these reasons would need to be taken into account. I think there is a difference between the atheist who claims to be an atheist "because there is no evidence of god(s)" and the atheist who is an atheist because he thinks God hates him, and so on.

    Surely theistic arguments per se are objective and can stand on their own - but communication with atheists is not a strict theistic discussion, is it? I think it is preaching, acting on the intent to bring people back to God. And as such, I think the individual atheist's karma needs to be taken into account - in the sense that the preacher chooses those theistic arguments that the individual atheist will be able to understand and implement the instructions given.
    Most people , myself included, arrive at atheism because there is no objective evidence to support the notioon of god.

    It is illogical to suggest that someone is an atheist because he believes god hates him. To believe I am hated by god presupposes god's existence.

    I don't think we need preachers.

  11. #11
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M. View Post
    You can't lack belief,
    ...

    Incorrect.
    You can lack belief in that which you have no conception of.

    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M. View Post
    ...
    you disbelieve
    In this case, entirely correct.



    :-)

  12. #12
    until the end of the world greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M. View Post
    You can't lack belief, you disbelieve
    To "disbelieve" implies one has reasons -in the form of specific counterarguments or evidence to the opposite- to believe otherwise.

    But sometimes, a person has neither specific counterguments nor evidence to the opposite; so in that case, the person actually "lacks belief" in either option.

  13. #13
    until the end of the world greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glaucon View Post
    Incorrect.
    You can lack belief in that which you have no conception of.
    Or when you have or know of several conceptions, but can neither accept nor reject any of them.

  14. #14
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    Or when you have or know of several conceptions, but can neither accept nor reject any of them.
    Hey gb.



    Hmmm.. well.. this could segue right off into semantics but... I have to disagree.

    There is a distinct difference between a conception, and the act of assertion or denial of said conception. In other words, the inability to accept and/or reject a conception necessarily implies a preexisting conception. Without it, there can be no object to assert/deny.

  15. #15
    until the end of the world greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glaucon View Post
    There is a distinct difference between a conception, and the act of assertion or denial of said conception. In other words, the inability to accept and/or reject a conception necessarily implies a preexisting conception. Without it, there can be no object to assert/deny.
    Agreed, I need to be more specific.


    A person can know of several conceptions about God, but can neither accept nor reject any of them, on account that they have no personal realization about either conception, other than the realization that they have no realization about said conceptions.

    The crux with some conceptions of God is that they require bodily death, a miracle, long-time practice and study, divine intervention, or other qualifications in order to be realized. IOW, some conceptions of God are such that they themselves state that one cannot know the truth about them unless one dies, or a miracle happens, or one gains qualification through long-time practice and study, or God intervenes, or something else previously specified happens.
    Such conceptions can neither be rightfully accepted as true nor rightfully rejected as untrue unless the specified requirement is in place.

    One can of course still more or less immediately accept or reject a conception, but then on the criterion of its potential usefulness, not truthfulness. This, however, opens the door to wilfully choosing delusion ...

  16. #16
    Valued Senior Member Jan Ardena's Avatar
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    greenberg,

    Would you say that I am the same kind of atheist as -to give some names so as to provide examples- Cris, Phlogistician, SnakeLord, Spidergoat, Avatar, Enmos etc. ? And that I should be spoken to and discussed with in the same manner as they?
    An atheist is an atheist; one who does not believe in God, for whatever reason; this is the point of my thread.

    A - what kind of a murderer are you?
    B - the kind that likes to shoot people in the head
    A - don't you drown your victims?
    B nah!
    A - so you're a murderer then?
    B - i guess so.

    I would not call myself either "theist" or "atheist", as I do not feel close to either of these labels - but in effect, this does make me an atheist.
    What you call yourself, and what you actually believe can be two different things.

    You say an atheist is "one who does not believe in God for whatever reason". Do you think that "for whatever reason" is irrelevant?
    That is the most relevant part.

    People arrive at atheism for a number of reasons, reasons that they are not necessarily aware of, or able or willing to verbalize.
    I suppose that if a person's purpose is to bring them back to God, these reasons would need to be taken into account. I think there is a difference between the atheist who claims to be an atheist "because there is no evidence of god(s)" and the atheist who is an atheist because he thinks God hates him, and so on.
    I think you are right, there is a difference.

    Surely theistic arguments per se are objective and can stand on their own - but communication with atheists is not a strict theistic discussion, is it?
    I think you are mixing theism with religion.
    It is possible (imo) to be religious, and not be theistic. And, to be theist, and against religion.

    jan.

  17. #17
    Valued Senior Member Jan Ardena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glaucon View Post
    Incorrect.
    You can lack belief in that which you have no conception of.
    Whether you like it or not, you do have a concept of God.

    jan.

  18. #18
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    Agreed, I need to be more specific.


    A person can know of several conceptions about God, but can neither accept nor reject any of them, on account that they have no personal realization about either conception, other than the realization that they have no realization about said conceptions.

    Ah, but is it the act of making a decision then the criterion of belief?
    I can be unable to assert or deny as to whether or not a Yeti exists [because I have no accordant realization of it (per your analysis..)], and yet I can (strictly: am able to) make a statement as to the status of my belief with respect to it. In short, if a concept can be so much as mentioned, one must have an accordant belief concerning it.


    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    The crux with some conceptions of God is that they require bodily death, a miracle, long-time practice and study, divine intervention, or other qualifications in order to be realized. IOW, some conceptions of God are such that they themselves state that one cannot know the truth about them unless one dies, or a miracle happens, or one gains qualification through long-time practice and study, or God intervenes, or something else previously specified happens.
    Such conceptions can neither be rightfully accepted as true nor rightfully rejected as untrue unless the specified requirement is in place.

    Alas, this all entails that one must have specific, particular, personal, and complete knowledge of a thing (your "personal realization") to be able to have a belief status of it. If this were the case, then none of us could properly said to have any beliefs at all....

    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    One can of course still more or less immediately accept or reject a conception, but then on the criterion of its potential usefulness, not truthfulness. This, however, opens the door to willfully choosing delusion ...
    Ah, now this is interesting. I agree with you here.

    I would say then (and do) that those who are Theists are in fact willfully deluding themselves (not that I would be the first to say so...).



    Annnd.. as usual.. I completely derail a thread....

    Sorry folks.


    On an aside note, I cannot believe that I am defending SAM of all people....

    Damn impartiality.....

    :-)

  19. #19
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan Ardena View Post
    Whether you like it or not, you do have a concept of God.

    jan.
    As I pointed out in my very next comment.

    Read the whole thread if you're going to join.

  20. #20
    Valued Senior Member Jan Ardena's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myles View Post
    Most people , myself included, arrive at atheism because there is no objective evidence to support the notioon of god.

    It is illogical to suggest that someone is an atheist because he believes god hates him. To believe I am hated by god presupposes god's existence.
    Your conclusion presupposes that god does not exist, yet you are atheist because of a lack of objective evidence, which suggests you do not know whether god exists or not.

    jan.

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