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Thread: What exactly is atheism?

  1. #21
    uniquely dreadful S.A.M.'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.
    A mind without a concept? Hmm. Can you give me an example?

  2. #22
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M. View Post
    A mind without a concept? Hmm. Can you give me an example?
    No I cannot.

    Thus, my point.

  3. #23
    uniquely dreadful S.A.M.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    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.
    To lack belief would, in my opinion, imply the absence of any preconception. For that a person would have to lose all sense of perspective or definition. I don't believe that is possible for anything, we conceptualize even what we imagine to be true. Standard atheism is a rejection of those concepts, which makes me wonder about the basis for that rejection. What exactly, according to an atheist would be defined as God?

  4. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M. View Post
    What exactly, according to an atheist would be defined as God?
    They would ask the same of a theist.

  5. #25
    until the end of the world greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M. View Post
    To lack belief would, in my opinion, imply the absence of any preconception.
    There is also the problem of what "believe" means.

    It seems to me that atheists and theists mean different things when they say "belief" or "believe".

    Generally, to "believe" means to "to hold to be true". Some people use it to imply "to agree".
    Theists sometimes have it to mean "to have faith".
    Which are two different things.

    I suggest we should abandon using the words "belief", "believer", "believe" for some time, and instead make an effort to phrase what we each mean by using some other words. This will hopefully make communication clearer.


    Standard atheism is a rejection of those concepts, which makes me wonder about the basis for that rejection.
    Of course ... People tend to like to appear rational, and we also have the tendency of choice-supportive bias - ie. we will find or make up justifications for a decision after the decision has been already made.

    I think most reasons that atheists list as reasons to reject God are such postdecisional rationalizations. Which also explains why directly addressing those "reasons" and showing them to be questionable or even unsupportable doesn't work - as it wasn't those reasons that made the atheist arrive at his atheist position in the first place, and it's possibly not those reasons either that make the atheist remain in his atheist position.

  6. #26
    until the end of the world greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glaucon View Post
    Ah, but is it the act of making a decision then the criterion of belief?
    See above my comment on the meaning 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.
    Sure. But what when you have many beliefs, competing, even mutually exclusive ones, and there seems to be no resolution of this conflicting multitude in a foreseeable time?


    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.
    In roundabout, yes.
    But here we get into the problem of how things exists - whether they exists as things an sich selbst, what role does human perception play, how does human perception work ... I think we know the drill by now ...


    If this were the case, then none of us could properly said to have any beliefs at all....
    Why would that be so?

    I am not convinced that it is impossible that some people have a realization of God. Perhaps some do. I do not have a realization of God, so I can neither tell who has it nor who doesn't.


    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 ...
    I would say then (and do) that those who are Theists are in fact willfully deluding themselves
    Why? Do you think it is impossible that something be both true and useful?

  7. #27
    tending tangentially glaucon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    See above my comment on the meaning of "belief".

    I don't understand.

    [QUOTE=greenberg;1959197]
    Sure. But what when you have many beliefs, competing, even mutually exclusive ones, and there seems to be no resolution of this conflicting multitude in a foreseeable time?

    Right.. which I would say is pretty much the situation...


    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    In roundabout, yes.
    But here we get into the problem of how things exists - whether they exists as things an sich selbst, what role does human perception play, how does human perception work ... I think we know the drill by now ...

    lol.. nice.
    Yep.. sliding towards ontology.

    Suffice it to say that it's my position that belief is a predicate. That is, one must believe in something, or have a belief about something. All beliefs necessarily require an attendant conception.



    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    Why would that be so?

    Because we cannot satisfy the requirements.
    We can never have complete knowledge of something. We do not always have personal, particular knowledge of something.


    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    I am not convinced that it is impossible that some people have a realization of God. Perhaps some do. I do not have a realization of God, so I can neither tell who has it nor who doesn't.

    Exactly. But you can use the word nontheless, and not confuse it with Tooth-Fairy.

    (OK.. I'm making a small joke here.... just a little jab..)


    Quote Originally Posted by greenberg View Post
    Why? Do you think it is impossible that something be both true and useful?
    Not at all.
    But I think that 'true', also qualifies as a belief.

    As well.. I think Theists must be delusional (or, at the very least, dishonest with themselves).

  8. #28
    had a mod but let him go spidergoat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by S.A.M. View Post
    To lack belief would, in my opinion, imply the absence of any preconception. For that a person would have to lose all sense of perspective or definition. I don't believe that is possible for anything, we conceptualize even what we imagine to be true. Standard atheism is a rejection of those concepts, which makes me wonder about the basis for that rejection. What exactly, according to an atheist would be defined as God?
    You could argue that since it is impossible to have any conception of God that comes close to the "real thing", all atheists simply lack belief. It's impossible to accept something that can't be quantified in the first place. Even theists only believe in their own conceptions.

  9. #29
    until the end of the world greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by glaucon View Post
    I don't understand.
    I said above in post 25:

    It seems to me that atheists and theists mean different things when they say "belief" or "believe".

    Generally, to "believe" means to "to hold to be true". Some people use it to imply "to agree".
    Theists sometimes have it to mean "to have faith".
    Which are two different things.

    Sure. But what when you have many beliefs, competing, even mutually exclusive ones, and there seems to be no resolution of this conflicting multitude in a foreseeable time?
    Right.. which I would say is pretty much the situation...
    So what to do in such a case?


    Because we cannot satisfy the requirements.
    Why not? Surely, some of the requirements are such that we cannot satisfy them right here on the spot, but "long-time practice and study" is something that is potentially possible to do. And also "death of material body" which is the requirement in some Christian doctrines - "When you die, you will know the whole truth about God" or something to this effect is a possibility.


    We can never have complete knowledge of something. We do not always have personal, particular knowledge of something.
    There might be some things that we might have such knowledge of.
    I realize, I am arguing from a very weak perspective ... But my point is that doing as if we had proven a negative is not right either.


    As well.. I think Theists must be delusional (or, at the very least, dishonest with themselves).
    Do expand on this.

  10. #30
    until the end of the world greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan Ardena View Post
    What you call yourself, and what you actually believe can be two different things.
    To know what I believe, I would have to know what exactly this I is ...


    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.
    Perhaps ... What I was trying to get at was that the communication that theists have with atheists, at least here at these forums, is often one where there is little or no common ground established, where atheists tend to persist in their own, non-scriptoral definitions of God, soul, self, and so on. In contrast, two people from the same religious tradition would have quite a different type of discussion as they would both keep in line with the normative descriptions provided by their reference scriptures and other specific guidelines.

  11. #31
    Encephaloid Martini (Q)'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.

    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.

    So please explain where I have misunderstood the atheism.

    jan.
    Well Jan, although Cris has provided a very nice explanation, which you seem to agree with, I think the definition can be better refined without causing more confusion, in fact, we can give it more clarity.

    Not only are there gods to contend with in religion, there are demons, angels, devils, ghostly spirits and all sorts of imps and cherubs, including a talking snake, of all things. And of course, atheists will have a tendency to not believe in those as well. So, the definition requires some updating, we're not strictly dealing with gods.

    Cris' definition also has a flaw in that it begins from the position that god IS an entity, but that the entity god is not believed by atheists. Again, this could use some updating.

    So, how do we fix it?

    Gods and demons and learning to lie are written in scriptures, and scriptures were written by men. Whether or not they are the word of god is another debate, but theists certainly believe them to be.

    A 'claim' is a state that is asserted or affirmed as true or existing. Scriptures makes a number of claims that include gods and demons and learning to lie.

    So essentially, scriptures can be regarded as a book containing a number of claims, and it is these claims that 'atheists' have a problem believing. They are simply not accepted. And since any given set of scriptures is so widely interpreted by it's followers, we find theists contriving all kinds of claims, hence we cannot accept theirs either.

    Perhaps then, we can further define 'atheism' thusly:

    "Not accepting the claims of scriptures or theists."

  12. #32
    MY COHERENCE! IT'S GOING AWAYY Betrayer0fHope's Avatar
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    theres a clear difference between weak and strong Atheism, some do not believe god exists, others claim to KNOW he doesn't exist.
    Last edited by Betrayer0fHope; 08-08-08 at 05:32 AM. Reason: i am an idiot

  13. #33
    As a starting point, I have no problem at all with Jan's definition of "atheist" as somebody who doesn't believe in gods for whatever reason.

    Of course, just as "theist" encompasses many types of belief, "atheist" equal covers many types of belief.

    I don't know why so many religious people, especially here, seem to struggle with the concept of atheism.

  14. #34
    Valued Senior Member Carcano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James R View Post
    I don't know why so many religious people, especially here, seem to struggle with the concept of atheism.
    The struggle really is only about trying to force atheism into the same position as religion...so they can make the same criticisms.
    Last edited by Carcano; 08-07-08 at 10:48 PM.

  15. #35
    Life, The universe, and e... Tht1Gy!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan Ardena View Post
    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...
    jan.
    Please cite your sources, as every dictionary I've looked it up in says "It's the belief that there is no god."
    Thx.

  16. #36
    Life, The universe, and e... Tht1Gy!'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Betrayer0fHope View Post
    ... Atheists... ... some do not believe god exists, others claim to KNOW he exists.
    ???

  17. #37
    Can an atheist still know their god, despite believing in a "nonextistent-god"?

  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Carcano View Post
    The struggle really is only about trying to force atheism into the same position as religion...so they can make the same criticisms.
    Spot on.

    It's hard to attack Atheism as it doesn't make any claims. Theists wishing to do so need to change the definition first.

  19. #39
    Registered Senior Member Myles's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jan Ardena View Post
    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.
    There is no evidence for tooth fairies. Do you entertain the possibility of their existence ? I don't.

    Despite claims to the contrary, nobody knows whether god exists. I reject the idea of god for the same reasons that I reject the existence of tooth fairies.

  20. #40
    until the end of the world greenberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by James R View Post
    As a starting point, I have no problem at all with Jan's definition of "atheist" as somebody who doesn't believe in gods for whatever reason.

    Of course, just as "theist" encompasses many types of belief, "atheist" equal covers many types of belief.

    I don't know why so many religious people, especially here, seem to struggle with the concept of atheism.
    Because '"atheist" /.../ covers many types of belief' ...

    You will have noticed that the vocal atheists tend to put all theists into the same group, as if all theisms would be the same.


    Quote Originally Posted by Carcano View Post
    The struggle really is only about trying to force atheism into the same position as religion...so they can make the same criticisms.
    In general, atheists do have a tendency to desire to be considered "separate from the religious folk". It appears that atheists have the desire to be considered as a separate group to theists. It's the "we vs. them" social phenomenon again ...

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