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Labels in belief

rockrngerrockrnger Registered User regular
(Split from duck dynasty)

Theism

The personal belief that the evidence for the existence of a god or gods (for simplicity assume a western concept of an all knowing, all powerful being with a personality) overcomes an arbitrary standard of evidence (ranging from beyond a shadow of a doubt to no evidence at all [faith]).

Atheism

The lack of a belief that the evidence for a god or gods overcomes an arbitrary standard of evidence. Sometimes further split into "strong" and "weak" atheism where strong is a positive claim that no god exists and weak is simple the rejection of the claim that god exists.

Purpose of thread

Are these labels helpful? Do you use them in everyday life? Why is this so much harder to agree on them than in other debates?

what it isn't for

Arguing the positions. At all.



«13456

Posts

  • ShivahnShivahn Unaware of her barrel shifter privilege Eastern coastal temptressRegistered User regular
    It's a lot harder to agree on the terms than most other terms partially because "atheist" is ambiguous, and is sometimes taken to be someone who believes there is no god, and sometimes someone who is not a theist (i.e., doesn't believe in a god). Which is super nit picky but actually important. Basically, it's hard to agree upon because people lump strong and weak atheism into atheism and it's just a recipe for miscommunication.

    And things get shifty when people bring in agnosticism, which is basically synonymous with weak atheist in common speech, while people who tend to think more about epistemology and know agnosticism as an epistemological stance will bring that in. It's several debates in one.

    The terms are useful for academically discussing the stuff, or conveying what you believe, both about theological truth and the epistemology of such, but since you have to make sure the person you're communicating with has the same definitions anyway because some people aren't clear and there are subtleties and assumptions get built in, they're kind of only useful as in-group jargon.

    As for using them in everyday life, I don't really, because it rarely comes up. But I also work in a lab, where people tend to have the same ideas about what the words mean, so they are useful in that context.

    Julius
  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    The problem I run into is that people who self-identify as atheist or agnostic or christian or whatever really, end up applying those and other labels to others, even if the definition of the labels differ for each person. The labels mean something to someone, but not necessarily to others, so using the labels becomes tedious in having to define them everytime you try to use them to describe yourself or others.

    I call myself agnostic, but I also see a place in my life for various theistic and deistic ideas. Some people who call themselves agnostic or atheistic seem to not understand how I could assimilate various religious ideas and still consider myself agnostic. But that's just because my definition of "agnostic" is a literal translation of the word, something like "unable to know".

    So, no, I don't think the labels work in understanding what others believe or don't believe, but when pushed, everyone seems to pick one based on whatever given definition they understand, so it may be helpful internally I'm thinking.

    PwH4Ipj.jpg
  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    I study to become a teacher in religion in swedish equivalent of high school, so I tend to use these terms a fair bit.

    However, people often mix them up, and you really need to throw agnostic in there as well if there is a discussion to be had. Atheism and agnosticism are rather often mixed up, which is why a lot of people argue what atheism actually means. Hell, there are also the different kinds of atheism as in how they relate to the concept of religion. Some people consider it backwards, evil, or something completely different. Your definition is an overall description, but it does not even begin to cover the concept.

    As for theism, well, it's about faith. Simply saying that it has to be related to western conceptions on godhood is also silly, as we can't really discuss religious beliefs without tackling all of them. Theism is presumably argued so much about since it can mean so many different things, and with the rise of... spiritualism in the west you really need to tackle the different kinds of ways people believe. Not sure it is the best word to lump different kinds of belief together, perhaps simply belief is better.

    There is new age, there is people who simple believe there is *something* out there, there are people who believe in reincarnation or rebirth, there are people who vehemently say they are not theists while believeing in some kind of existence after death. Basically, unless we can argue there definition of the terms I am not sure what there is to discuss. What they mean to different people is the key as to how useful they actually are, and why it is so hard to actually agree on them.

    Frozenzen on
  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Demodog It's a play on wordsRegistered User regular
    I don't feel like telling people what label they choose is incorrect. Unless it's blatantly wrong (a self-professed Christian worshipping Ba'al exclusively), it only serves to piss people off unnecessarily.

    In my opinion, atheists have no belief in any deity, full stop. They would change their beliefs if presented with evidence. Agnostics are a little more spiritual in that they think there is something we can't explain, and that it might be God and it might be explained in another way, but they're skeptical of affirmative claims of knowledge as to what these unexplained things are or are not.

    It may seem like a semantic distinction, and maybe sometimes it is. As with any belief structure or lack thereof, there are shades of grey. I wouldn't call my definition of either all-encompassing either; surely there is room under both umbrellas for people who identify with the labels.

    Friends don't lie.
    poshniallo
  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    I don't feel like telling people what label they choose is incorrect. Unless it's blatantly wrong (a self-professed Christian worshipping Ba'al exclusively), it only serves to piss people off unnecessarily.

    In my opinion, atheists have no belief in any deity, full stop. They would change their beliefs if presented with evidence. Agnostics are a little more spiritual in that they think there is something we can't explain, and that it might be God and it might be explained in another way, but they're skeptical of affirmative claims of knowledge as to what these unexplained things are or are not.

    It may seem like a semantic distinction, and maybe sometimes it is. As with any belief structure or lack thereof, there are shades of grey. I wouldn't call my definition of either all-encompassing either; surely there is room under both umbrellas for people who identify with the labels.

    A common problem is people assuming their label is the only correct one, which I guess is the basic answer to the opening post. These words mean different things to different people, thus it's hard to agree on what they actually mean.

    And they are very useful, since faith and belief is a central part of a lot of people lifes, and they give us an ability to actually describe these things in a somewhat general manner.

    joshofalltrades
  • rockrngerrockrnger Registered User regular
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    I study to become a teacher in religion in swedish equivalent of high school, so I tend to use these terms a fair bit.

    However, people often mix them up, and you really need to throw agnostic in there as well if there is a discussion to be had. Atheism and agnosticism are rather often mixed up, which is why a lot of people argue what atheism actually means. Hell, there are also the different kinds of atheism as in how they relate to the concept of religion. Some people consider it backwards, evil, or something completely different. Your definition is an overall description, but it does not even begin to cover the concept.

    As for theism, well, it's about faith. Simply saying that it has to be related to western conceptions on godhood is also silly, as we can't really discuss religious beliefs without tackling all of them. Theism is presumably argued so much about since it can mean so many different things, and with the rise of... spiritualism in the west you really need to tackle the different kinds of ways people believe. Not sure it is the best word to lump different kinds of belief together, perhaps simply belief is better.

    There is new age, there is people who simple believe there is *something* out there, there are people who believe in reincarnation or rebirth, there are people who vehemently say they are not theists while believeing in some kind of existence after death. Basically, unless we can argue there definition of the terms I am not sure what there is to discuss. What they mean to different people is the key as to how useful they actually are, and why it is so hard to actually agree on them.
    Oh, by all means mess with the definitions. Give yours. Change stuff. Talk about how other religions would change things.

    That's the whole idea, just so long as the actual positions aren't debated.
    I don't feel like telling people what label they choose is incorrect. Unless it's blatantly wrong (a self-professed Christian worshipping Ba'al exclusively), it only serves to piss people off unnecessarily.

    In my opinion, atheists have no belief in any deity, full stop. They would change their beliefs if presented with evidence. Agnostics are a little more spiritual in that they think there is something we can't explain, and that it might be God and it might be explained in another way, but they're skeptical of affirmative claims of knowledge as to what these unexplained things are or are not.

    It may seem like a semantic distinction, and maybe sometimes it is. As with any belief structure or lack thereof, there are shades of grey. I wouldn't call my definition of either all-encompassing either; surely there is room under both umbrellas for people who identify with the labels.
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    I don't use these labels because i don't have much cause to engage in any discussion. My standard is unacceptable to atheists, and that is pretty much the end of the discussion. All that's left is judgment and dismissal, so i prefer to keep at a simple expression of faith when appropriate.

  • davidsdurionsdavidsdurions Your Trusty Meatshield Panhandle NebraskaRegistered User regular
    This is the official "agree to disagree" thread.

    Everyone is always right, even when they are clearly wrong, if you ask me or if I ask you. :)

    PwH4Ipj.jpg
  • rockrngerrockrnger Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    I don't use these labels because i don't have much cause to engage in any discussion. My standard is unacceptable to atheists, and that is pretty much the end of the discussion. All that's left is judgment and dismissal, so i prefer to keep at a simple expression of faith when appropriate.
    Care to elaborate?

  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    rockrnger wrote: »
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Perhaps there is no middle ground at all, simply a vast amount of different positions of which all can technically fall under either one, or more of the labels?

    Is a belief in the lack of a god, but still believing in the soul a theist belief? Or the lack of a god and the belief in reioncarnation in some way shape or form. The "specific claim" is often not as simple as "do you believe in god yes/no?"

  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    I don't use these labels because i don't have much cause to engage in any discussion. My standard is unacceptable to atheists, and that is pretty much the end of the discussion. All that's left is judgment and dismissal, so i prefer to keep at a simple expression of faith when appropriate.

    Labels are how we categorize how we think. They'll be there whether you ignore them or not. Judgment and being dismissed isn't unique to you either - its amazing in this day and age that theists exist which misunderstand what being an atheist is. That's why communication is important from both sides. You also need to consider why you're opinions are being reacted to like from the pro-atheist side because there are people who worship a God that don't get dismissed like that with conversations about beliefs.

  • rockrngerrockrnger Registered User regular
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Perhaps there is no middle ground at all, simply a vast amount of different positions of which all can technically fall under either one, or more of the labels?

    Is a belief in the lack of a god, but still believing in the soul a theist belief? Or the lack of a god and the belief in reioncarnation in some way shape or form. The "specific claim" is often not as simple as "do you believe in god yes/no?"
    I would say that an atheist could still believe in souls or reincarnation. Just like there are Christians that reject some of the supernatural parts of Christianity or deist that reject the supernatural entirely and believe in god as a prime mover.

    FeralJuliusIncenjucarGennenalyse Rueben
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    I don't use these labels because i don't have much cause to engage in any discussion. My standard is unacceptable to atheists, and that is pretty much the end of the discussion. All that's left is judgment and dismissal, so i prefer to keep at a simple expression of faith when appropriate.

    Labels are how we categorize how we think. They'll be there whether you ignore them or not. Judgment and being dismissed isn't unique to you either - its amazing in this day and age that theists exist which misunderstand what being an atheist is. That's why communication is important from both sides. You also need to consider why you're opinions are being reacted to like from the pro-atheist side because there are people who worship a God that don't get dismissed like that with conversations about beliefs.

    When I say that judgment and dismissal are all that's left, i meant it to apply to both sides.

    My opinion of atheists is that they are wrong. It doesn't get much more complex or nuanced... if that's worth reacting to negatively, well ok.

    Its true that labels at least inform thought. The thing is, i don't spare much thought for atheism in general... i probably wouldn't think about nonbelief at all if the atheists around here didn't get extra feisty around Christmas and Easter. I'm profoundly uninterested in evangelism or converting anyone, and don't generally engage on the topic of faith, beyond the occasional comment.

    I don't need the labels or care much how they're applied. Why am i commenting at all? Because i felt like it was worth mentioning that to some people, the question is mostly irrelevant.

  • joshofalltradesjoshofalltrades Demodog It's a play on wordsRegistered User regular
    D&D is far more civil than it was 7 or 8 years ago. I didn't notice any atheists or agnostics getting "extra feisty" at all. In fact, I posted more than once in the non-Gentile thread in the Christmas forum and despite the fact that I am in fact a Gentile I was welcomed with open arms.

    Anyway, coming into a thread to say that you're just going to be dismissed or judged and that you have nothing else to say sounds a lot like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

    Friends don't lie.
    FeralJuliusKanaposhnialloGennenalyse RuebenDarkewolfeLovelyKid Presentable
  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    rockrnger wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Perhaps there is no middle ground at all, simply a vast amount of different positions of which all can technically fall under either one, or more of the labels?

    Is a belief in the lack of a god, but still believing in the soul a theist belief? Or the lack of a god and the belief in reioncarnation in some way shape or form. The "specific claim" is often not as simple as "do you believe in god yes/no?"
    I would say that an atheist could still believe in souls or reincarnation. Just like there are Christians that reject some of the supernatural parts of Christianity or deist that reject the supernatural entirely and believe in god as a prime mover.

    I suppose in the extremely specific base of the word atheist this would be true. But most people treat it as not believing in supernatural forces, or even more extreme forms of scepticism. And I suppose we kind of reach the crux of the matter here in that these words mean different things when used in different contexts. For example, it seems @spool32 assumes atheist means being hostile to religion, which is sad but understandable. Terribly sorry if I misunderstood that by the way, just seemed to be the point of your post. edit: read your followup now. I personally think there is a dicussion worth having on the nature of faith, as opposed to the nature of lack of faith and how they influence your worldview. But if you are not interested in discussing, then you obviously shouldn't. Nothing wrong with that.

    And well, there are for example agnostic jews, but they do that since to them being a jew is all about how you live your life, not necessarily *why* you do it. Which is really really cool. And are these people theists or not? Very much depends on how you define the words.

    Frozenzen on
  • FeralFeral That's what I do. I drink, and I know things. Location: ByakkoyaRegistered User regular
    edited December 2013
    I'm not a fan of the term 'agnostic.'

    It connotes not merely being neutral or undecided, but a commitment to being undecided. It's a principle of being unprincipled.

    If I don't believe in a thing, then I'm content to say I don't believe in it - whether that thing is something patently absurd (a pink unicorn floating in orbit around Pluto) or something that isn't patently absurd but temporarily or permanently unproveable given human understanding (string theory, time before the big bang, particles smaller than a Planck length).

    To which my handy straw-agnostic* responds, "What if the existence of God is not merely unknown, but also unknowable; analogous to time before the big bang (a first cause) or phenomena outside the boundaries of the observable physical universe?"

    * He's on my desk. He's USB powered, about three inches tall, and he's a huge fan of What the Bleep Do We Know?

    That assumes a certain model (or, more accurately, anti-model) of God, one that is admittedly popular, that God is some nonphysical noninterventionist floating consciousness that we cannot perceive while alive and may or may not perceive when we're dead and may or may not judge our actions while alive and may or may not be responsible for the creation of the Universe.

    That's not a definition of terms - that's a stubborn refusal to define what you think God is, while simultaneously asserting that this thing the agnostic hasn't defined is unknowable. It's only unknowable as far as the definition is unfathomable, and it is only unfathomable because it is vague. That's not merely a principle of being unprincipled, that's a principle of evasiveness.

    It's a negation, an erasure, of other definitions of God. What about the cultures, modern and historical, that consider God to be anthropomorphic (either regularly or just when he wants to visit us), interventionist, moralizing, knowable?

    When I push a little button hidden in his hat, my USB-powered straw-agnostic says, "I'm going to wrap myself up in a veil of diplomatic neutrality. I'm not going to assert whether the (for example) Mormon personification of God is right or wrong. I'm simply going to ignore their concept and substitute my own. Man, it's hard work being so open-minded."

    I'm relatively confident that most definitions of God based on religious scripture are mythology, so I'm happy to call myself an atheist. (Though, more commonly, I will simply say "I don't believe in God" to avoid the association of the term 'atheist' with famously argumentative atheists like Dawkins and Hitchens.) I cannot prove or disprove the existence of a fuzzy amorphous "spiritual but not religious" postmodern sort of God, but that's a theory of God that so lacks specificity and explanatory power that the adherent might as well not be saying anything at all.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    spool32rockrngerLeitnerJuliusHachfaceAiouaArdolIncenjucarAlistair HuttonGennenalyse RuebenDarkewolfeArchKid Presentable
  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    I don't use these labels because i don't have much cause to engage in any discussion. My standard is unacceptable to atheists, and that is pretty much the end of the discussion. All that's left is judgment and dismissal, so i prefer to keep at a simple expression of faith when appropriate.

    Labels are how we categorize how we think. They'll be there whether you ignore them or not. Judgment and being dismissed isn't unique to you either - its amazing in this day and age that theists exist which misunderstand what being an atheist is. That's why communication is important from both sides. You also need to consider why you're opinions are being reacted to like from the pro-atheist side because there are people who worship a God that don't get dismissed like that with conversations about beliefs.

    When I say that judgment and dismissal are all that's left, i meant it to apply to both sides.

    I disagree.
    My opinion of atheists is that they are wrong. It doesn't get much more complex or nuanced... if that's worth reacting to negatively, well ok.

    That is my opinion on theisms, but that doesn't mean I can't have interesting conversations with Christians about religion, souls or the afterlife.
    Its true that labels at least inform thought. The thing is, i don't spare much thought for atheism in general... i probably wouldn't think about nonbelief at all if the atheists around here didn't get extra feisty around Christmas and Easter.

    I've seen worse from Christians with Christmas, though sometimes they do it every damn day - like the Fox News crowd. Its logical for atheists to talk about religion during holidays that have roots in religion.
    I'm profoundly uninterested in evangelism or converting anyone, and don't generally engage on the topic of faith, beyond the occasional comment.

    Why?
    I don't need the labels or care much how they're applied. Why am i commenting at all? Because i felt like it was worth mentioning that to some people, the question is mostly irrelevant.

    Labels are very much relevant in society. America is still extremely religious in how it operates even when it isn't up front about it, like athiests being the most untrusted demographic in polls and being marginalized from political offices for being an atheist.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    D&D is far more civil than UT was 7 or 8 years ago. I didn't notice any atheists or agnostics getting "extra feisty" at all. In fact, I posted more than once in the non-Gentile thread in the Christmas forum and despite the fact that I am in fact a Gentile I was welcomed with open arms.

    [chat] atheists get all feisty, but it's entirely good-natured (if a little grumbly at times). I meant that in the most jovial way possible. :)

    poshniallo
  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    @Feral Could you not have made the decision to not believe in god, but be open to the concept without judging people with faith? Not exactly sure why you find the position of not wanting to decide what you believe more offensive than the people who offensively try to convert people to nonbelief. In general, the assumption that any kind of faith, belief or lack of such means that you judge any other belief annoys me.

    I may be atheist, but I deeply respect people who have faith, or stand somewhere inbetween. Why couldn't someone be agnostic without judging how other people believe?

    I might have missed your point entierly though, so feel free to clarify.

  • rockrngerrockrnger Registered User regular
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Perhaps there is no middle ground at all, simply a vast amount of different positions of which all can technically fall under either one, or more of the labels?

    Is a belief in the lack of a god, but still believing in the soul a theist belief? Or the lack of a god and the belief in reioncarnation in some way shape or form. The "specific claim" is often not as simple as "do you believe in god yes/no?"
    I would say that an atheist could still believe in souls or reincarnation. Just like there are Christians that reject some of the supernatural parts of Christianity or deist that reject the supernatural entirely and believe in god as a prime mover.

    I suppose in the extremely specific base of the word atheist this would be true. But most people treat it as not believing in supernatural forces, or even more extreme forms of scepticism. And I suppose we kind of reach the crux of the matter here in that these words mean different things when used in different contexts. For example, it seems @spool32 assumes atheist means being hostile to religion, which is sad but understandable. Terribly sorry if I misunderstood that by the way, just seemed to be the point of your post. edit: read your followup now. I personally think there is a dicussion worth having on the nature of faith, as opposed to the nature of lack of faith and how they influence your worldview. But if you are not interested in discussing, then you obviously shouldn't. Nothing wrong with that.

    And well, there are for example agnostic jews, but they do that since to them being a jew is all about how you live your life, not necessarily *why* you do it. Which is really really cool. And are these people theists or not? Very much depends on how you define the words.
    To me, the larger issues are confused by mixing them with the specific issue when there are lots of better labels (secular humanism, skepticism and naturalism for example.)

    Which gets to the whole point of labels. When I person says "if atheism is true why are there still monkeys" it makes discussion harder.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Perhaps there is no middle ground at all, simply a vast amount of different positions of which all can technically fall under either one, or more of the labels?

    Is a belief in the lack of a god, but still believing in the soul a theist belief? Or the lack of a god and the belief in reioncarnation in some way shape or form. The "specific claim" is often not as simple as "do you believe in god yes/no?"
    I would say that an atheist could still believe in souls or reincarnation. Just like there are Christians that reject some of the supernatural parts of Christianity or deist that reject the supernatural entirely and believe in god as a prime mover.

    I suppose in the extremely specific base of the word atheist this would be true. But most people treat it as not believing in supernatural forces, or even more extreme forms of scepticism. And I suppose we kind of reach the crux of the matter here in that these words mean different things when used in different contexts. For example, it seems @spool32 assumes atheist means being hostile to religion, which is sad but understandable. Terribly sorry if I misunderstood that by the way, just seemed to be the point of your post. edit: read your followup now. I personally think there is a dicussion worth having on the nature of faith, as opposed to the nature of lack of faith and how they influence your worldview. But if you are not interested in discussing, then you obviously shouldn't. Nothing wrong with that.

    And well, there are for example agnostic jews, but they do that since to them being a jew is all about how you live your life, not necessarily *why* you do it. Which is really really cool. And are these people theists or not? Very much depends on how you define the words.

    Most of the atheists I know or have spoken about faith with fell into the broad category of people who rejected belief in god because they rejected the Pentacostal traditions. I did the same when I was a kid! Who could blame them.

    The rest are more thoughtful...

  • FeralFeral That's what I do. I drink, and I know things. Location: ByakkoyaRegistered User regular
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    Could you not have made the decision to not believe in god, but be open to the concept without judging people with faith?

    So does agnostic mean "I'm undecided on the existence of God," or does it mean, "I've decided I don't believe in God, but I'm just not going to be a dick about it?"

    I suppose you could say that the difference between an atheist and an agnostic is not what you believe, but how you conduct yourself in that belief. That definition, while technically wrong, would have some support in how those terms end up popularly used.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    Arch
  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    rockrnger wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Perhaps there is no middle ground at all, simply a vast amount of different positions of which all can technically fall under either one, or more of the labels?

    Is a belief in the lack of a god, but still believing in the soul a theist belief? Or the lack of a god and the belief in reioncarnation in some way shape or form. The "specific claim" is often not as simple as "do you believe in god yes/no?"
    I would say that an atheist could still believe in souls or reincarnation. Just like there are Christians that reject some of the supernatural parts of Christianity or deist that reject the supernatural entirely and believe in god as a prime mover.

    I suppose in the extremely specific base of the word atheist this would be true. But most people treat it as not believing in supernatural forces, or even more extreme forms of scepticism. And I suppose we kind of reach the crux of the matter here in that these words mean different things when used in different contexts. For example, it seems @spool32 assumes atheist means being hostile to religion, which is sad but understandable. Terribly sorry if I misunderstood that by the way, just seemed to be the point of your post. edit: read your followup now. I personally think there is a dicussion worth having on the nature of faith, as opposed to the nature of lack of faith and how they influence your worldview. But if you are not interested in discussing, then you obviously shouldn't. Nothing wrong with that.

    And well, there are for example agnostic jews, but they do that since to them being a jew is all about how you live your life, not necessarily *why* you do it. Which is really really cool. And are these people theists or not? Very much depends on how you define the words.
    To me, the larger issues are confused by mixing them with the specific issue when there are lots of better labels (secular humanism, skepticism and naturalism for example.)

    Which gets to the whole point of labels. When I person says "if atheism is true why are there still monkeys" it makes discussion harder.

    Well, to be fair. If the term atheism did not exist another would, and they would use that.

    Humans tend to lump together bigger concepts in single words to simplify discussion, even when it does not. Labels are just part of what we are.

  • syndalissyndalis Getting Classy On the WallRegistered User, Loves Apple Products regular
    edited December 2013
    Feral wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    Could you not have made the decision to not believe in god, but be open to the concept without judging people with faith?

    So does agnostic mean "I'm undecided on the existence of God," or does it mean, "I've decided I don't believe in God, but I'm just not going to be a dick about it?"

    I suppose you could say that the difference between an atheist and an agnostic is not what you believe, but how you conduct yourself in that belief. That definition, while technically wrong, would have some support in how those terms end up popularly used.

    How would you define someone who is super open to the existence and possibility of more, but isn't actively seeking to define it or use it as some kind of moral compass?

    Like, the fact that there is or is not a god plays zero part in how I live my life, but I enjoy the thought or notion of there being something more.

    syndalis on
    SW-4158-3990-6116
    Let's play Mario Kart or something...
    Frozenzen
  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    Feral wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    Could you not have made the decision to not believe in god, but be open to the concept without judging people with faith?

    So does agnostic mean "I'm undecided on the existence of God," or does it mean, "I've decided I don't believe in God, but I'm just not going to be a dick about it?"

    I suppose you could say that the difference between an atheist and an agnostic is not what you believe, but how you conduct yourself in that belief. That definition, while technically wrong, would have some support in how those terms end up popularly used.

    Not sure I really agree about those definitions, how you conduct yourself about your belief is not part of them. I would say agnostic is to be undecided about the existence of god, and atheism is the decision to not believe in god, or gods, or anything spiritual. These are both extremely broad, but if we want to lump up human ways of belief in 3 words they need to be.

    Whether you are a dick or not is down to something else, but can sometimes be part of the worldview itself. And this goes for all three defintions, none of them infer more or less dickishness than the others.

    And how terms are popularly used is a rather thorny subject, as I would assume it differs dependent on where in the world you are. For example, treating as agnostic as simply being undecided about the existence of good is how I have heard it commonly used. You seem to be used to a bit more specific usage.

    edit: also, syndalis gave another aspect of what I see as agnosticism above. I suppose it does not have to be related to gods at all, simple the state of being open to the possibility of us being more than we seemingly are.

    Frozenzen on
  • Harry DresdenHarry Dresden Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Perhaps there is no middle ground at all, simply a vast amount of different positions of which all can technically fall under either one, or more of the labels?

    Is a belief in the lack of a god, but still believing in the soul a theist belief? Or the lack of a god and the belief in reioncarnation in some way shape or form. The "specific claim" is often not as simple as "do you believe in god yes/no?"
    I would say that an atheist could still believe in souls or reincarnation. Just like there are Christians that reject some of the supernatural parts of Christianity or deist that reject the supernatural entirely and believe in god as a prime mover.

    I suppose in the extremely specific base of the word atheist this would be true. But most people treat it as not believing in supernatural forces, or even more extreme forms of scepticism. And I suppose we kind of reach the crux of the matter here in that these words mean different things when used in different contexts. For example, it seems @spool32 assumes atheist means being hostile to religion, which is sad but understandable. Terribly sorry if I misunderstood that by the way, just seemed to be the point of your post. edit: read your followup now. I personally think there is a dicussion worth having on the nature of faith, as opposed to the nature of lack of faith and how they influence your worldview. But if you are not interested in discussing, then you obviously shouldn't. Nothing wrong with that.

    And well, there are for example agnostic jews, but they do that since to them being a jew is all about how you live your life, not necessarily *why* you do it. Which is really really cool. And are these people theists or not? Very much depends on how you define the words.

    Most of the atheists I know or have spoken about faith with fell into the broad category of people who rejected belief in god because they rejected the Pentacostal traditions. I did the same when I was a kid! Who could blame them.

    The rest are more thoughtful...

    You'll find that isn't always true. I know many atheists who never were members of a church to begin with.

  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    rockrnger wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Perhaps there is no middle ground at all, simply a vast amount of different positions of which all can technically fall under either one, or more of the labels?

    Is a belief in the lack of a god, but still believing in the soul a theist belief? Or the lack of a god and the belief in reioncarnation in some way shape or form. The "specific claim" is often not as simple as "do you believe in god yes/no?"
    I would say that an atheist could still believe in souls or reincarnation. Just like there are Christians that reject some of the supernatural parts of Christianity or deist that reject the supernatural entirely and believe in god as a prime mover.

    I suppose in the extremely specific base of the word atheist this would be true. But most people treat it as not believing in supernatural forces, or even more extreme forms of scepticism. And I suppose we kind of reach the crux of the matter here in that these words mean different things when used in different contexts. For example, it seems @spool32 assumes atheist means being hostile to religion, which is sad but understandable. Terribly sorry if I misunderstood that by the way, just seemed to be the point of your post. edit: read your followup now. I personally think there is a dicussion worth having on the nature of faith, as opposed to the nature of lack of faith and how they influence your worldview. But if you are not interested in discussing, then you obviously shouldn't. Nothing wrong with that.

    And well, there are for example agnostic jews, but they do that since to them being a jew is all about how you live your life, not necessarily *why* you do it. Which is really really cool. And are these people theists or not? Very much depends on how you define the words.
    To me, the larger issues are confused by mixing them with the specific issue when there are lots of better labels (secular humanism, skepticism and naturalism for example.)

    Which gets to the whole point of labels. When I person says "if atheism is true why are there still monkeys" it makes discussion harder.

    Which is a point I wanted to bring up in the other thread. If we want to have a discussion that is in any way productive we need to move on from "it is clear what people mean" and "the terms vary in meaning between people" to an actual agreed upon set of labels or terms that accurately reflects the world.

    Sure, terms in these discussions are by their nature somewhat vague but it strikes me as silly to embrace that vagueness as good. Shouldn't we, in debate and discussion, try to clear up language to aid understanding?

    rockrnger
  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    rockrnger wrote: »
    I don't know. If we are talking about a specific claim you either believe it or your don't.

    Where is the middle ground?

    Perhaps there is no middle ground at all, simply a vast amount of different positions of which all can technically fall under either one, or more of the labels?

    Is a belief in the lack of a god, but still believing in the soul a theist belief? Or the lack of a god and the belief in reioncarnation in some way shape or form. The "specific claim" is often not as simple as "do you believe in god yes/no?"
    I would say that an atheist could still believe in souls or reincarnation. Just like there are Christians that reject some of the supernatural parts of Christianity or deist that reject the supernatural entirely and believe in god as a prime mover.

    I suppose in the extremely specific base of the word atheist this would be true. But most people treat it as not believing in supernatural forces, or even more extreme forms of scepticism. And I suppose we kind of reach the crux of the matter here in that these words mean different things when used in different contexts. For example, it seems @spool32 assumes atheist means being hostile to religion, which is sad but understandable. Terribly sorry if I misunderstood that by the way, just seemed to be the point of your post. edit: read your followup now. I personally think there is a dicussion worth having on the nature of faith, as opposed to the nature of lack of faith and how they influence your worldview. But if you are not interested in discussing, then you obviously shouldn't. Nothing wrong with that.

    And well, there are for example agnostic jews, but they do that since to them being a jew is all about how you live your life, not necessarily *why* you do it. Which is really really cool. And are these people theists or not? Very much depends on how you define the words.

    Most of the atheists I know or have spoken about faith with fell into the broad category of people who rejected belief in god because they rejected the Pentacostal traditions. I did the same when I was a kid! Who could blame them.

    The rest are more thoughtful...

    You'll find that isn't always true. I know many atheists who never were members of a church to begin with.

    True. Where I grew up, you didn't need to be a churchgoer to find yourself at least partially defining yourself according to how you felt about evangelical or Pentecostal churches, though.

  • FeralFeral That's what I do. I drink, and I know things. Location: ByakkoyaRegistered User regular
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    I would say agnostic is to be undecided about the existence of god, and atheism is the decision to not believe in god

    You've described two positions in which somebody does not believe in God.

    You can call yourself whatever you want and define your terms however you choose. Those definitions might be confusing if they're idiosyncratic but shifts in language have to start somewhere.

    I just don't think there's a very substantive difference between "I do not believe in God" and "I believe there is no God." I do not consider either of these positions to be "undecided." In both cases, the interlocutor has decided to answer the question of theism with "nope, not buying it."

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    rockrngerJuliusArdolKana
  • DedwrekkaDedwrekka What Would Nyarlathotep Do? Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    rockrnger wrote: »
    (Split from duck dynasty)

    Theism

    The personal belief that the evidence for the existence of a god or gods (for simplicity assume a western concept of an all knowing, all powerful being with a personality) overcomes an arbitrary standard of evidence (ranging from beyond a shadow of a doubt to no evidence at all [faith]).

    Atheism

    The lack of a belief that the evidence for a god or gods overcomes an arbitrary standard of evidence. Sometimes further split into "strong" and "weak" atheism where strong is a positive claim that no god exists and weak is simple the rejection of the claim that god exists.

    Purpose of thread

    Are these labels helpful? Do you use them in everyday life? Why is this so much harder to agree on them than in other debates?

    what it isn't for

    Arguing the positions. At all.


    Even these definitions are not all-encompassing and are over-simplifications of huge variety in belief (Yes, even in Atheism). They aren't even particularly well defined either.

    For instance, a Theist could have a personal belief that a god is the universe (Pandeism), or that the search for a god through scientific and rational evidence is their religious foundation (Deism).

    An Atheist might believe that a god does not exist (Atheism) or they might believe that the belief in a god should not exist (Militant Atheism as Dawkins puts it, also "New Atheism").

    Also there's a really weird trend among the vocal part of western Atheism to actually veer much closer to Anti-Christian views than a more generalized Atheism. You'd be hard pressed to find a western Atheist personality that makes light of Daoism or Wicca, for instance.
    syndalis wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    Could you not have made the decision to not believe in god, but be open to the concept without judging people with faith?

    So does agnostic mean "I'm undecided on the existence of God," or does it mean, "I've decided I don't believe in God, but I'm just not going to be a dick about it?"

    I suppose you could say that the difference between an atheist and an agnostic is not what you believe, but how you conduct yourself in that belief. That definition, while technically wrong, would have some support in how those terms end up popularly used.

    How would you define someone who is super open to the existence and possibility of more, but isn't actively seeking to define it or use it as some kind of moral compass?

    Like, the fact that there is or is not a god plays zero part in how I live my life, but I enjoy the thought or notion of there being something more.

    Officially that's Skepticism. Unofficially the Skeptic community veers more greatly towards antireligion. (Check out any of the "The Amazing Meeting" speeches on Youtube for Skeptic community content)

    Dedwrekka on
    gjaustin
  • FrozenzenFrozenzen Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    I would say agnostic is to be undecided about the existence of god, and atheism is the decision to not believe in god

    You've described two positions in which somebody does not believe in God.

    You can call yourself whatever you want and define your terms however you choose. Those definitions might be confusing if they're idiosyncratic but shifts in language have to start somewhere.

    I just don't think there's a very substantive difference between "I do not believe in God" and "I believe there is no God." I do not consider either of these positions to be "undecided." In both cases, the interlocutor has decided to answer the question of theism with "nope, not buying it."

    But there is more to the terms than just the belief in god or gods. There are many other different kinds of spiritual beliefs that can also fall under the umbrella of faith, but not necessarily in a god. Doesn't that mean there is a space for a term between theism and atheism, even if you find the term undecided to not fit them? And usually, the answer gets a lot more complicated than "nope, not buying it."

  • rockrngerrockrnger Registered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    I would say agnostic is to be undecided about the existence of god, and atheism is the decision to not believe in god

    You've described two positions in which somebody does not believe in God.

    You can call yourself whatever you want and define your terms however you choose. Those definitions might be confusing if they're idiosyncratic but shifts in language have to start somewhere.

    I just don't think there's a very substantive difference between "I do not believe in God" and "I believe there is no God." I do not consider either of these positions to be "undecided." In both cases, the interlocutor has decided to answer the question of theism with "nope, not buying it."
    I think a lot of that comes from the straw man that atheism is the absolute belief that god doesn't exist which even strong atheist don't hold.

    Feral
  • FeralFeral That's what I do. I drink, and I know things. Location: ByakkoyaRegistered User regular
    edited December 2013
    By the way, this is the sort of thing that I was lamenting in my post above.
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    also, syndalis gave another aspect of what I see as agnosticism above. I suppose it does not have to be related to gods at all, simple the state of being open to the possibility of us being more than we seemingly are.

    Of course we're more than we seemingly are. There's a lot about myself that I haven't experienced. I've never seen my own spleen or palpated my own duodenum. I can't see my own optic nerve.

    Oh, you don't mean in a gross anatomical sense? Okay, I don't know what I'll look like in ten years or how my personality might change. I don't know how I'd react if I were taken hostage on an airplane or found myself on a sinking cruise liner.

    Oh, you don't mean in a psychological or temporal sense? Okay, as close as I might come through introspection and meditation, I will never truly see myself the way other people see me, nor does any one person have a complete understanding of me. The zen master places his hand on a tree and says, "This is not a tree."

    Maybe that's not what you mean, either. I don't know, because you didn't say it. A phrase like "more than we seemingly are" conveniently lets you hint at a position - maybe there are ghosts, or a heaven, or reincarnation, or self-replicating machine elves who communicate with each other in an orgy of linguistic-sexual intercourse - without actually subjecting that position to criticism.

    Feral on
    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch man" fallacy.
    KaputaGennenalyse Rueben
  • JuliusJulius Registered User regular
    spool32 wrote: »
    True. Where I grew up, you didn't need to be a churchgoer to find yourself at least partially defining yourself according to how you felt about evangelical or Pentecostal churches, though.

    But that's still not the experience of many atheists, though I admit where I'm from is really different in that regard.

    I grew up in an irreligious household in the most secular part of The Netherlands which is itself pretty secular. While the existence of religions wasn't unknown to me I never really had to deal with them in a reaction. Far as I was and still am concerned they didn't exist. Like, I don't want to sound like a dick for real I'm just saying that I'm still surprised when I encounter religious beliefs because I do so rarely.

    Which might be why I have no real trouble with being called an atheist and why I think rejecting atheist for the label of agnostic is silly. I don't have a stake in it. I don't really encounter situations where my belief is of importance or in the minority. I have to go on the internet to find disagreement.

  • spool32spool32 Contrary Library Registered User regular
    edited December 2013
    Julius wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    True. Where I grew up, you didn't need to be a churchgoer to find yourself at least partially defining yourself according to how you felt about evangelical or Pentecostal churches, though.

    But that's still not the experience of many atheists, though I admit where I'm from is really different in that regard.

    I grew up in an irreligious household in the most secular part of The Netherlands which is itself pretty secular. While the existence of religions wasn't unknown to me I never really had to deal with them in a reaction. Far as I was and still am concerned they didn't exist. Like, I don't want to sound like a dick for real I'm just saying that I'm still surprised when I encounter religious beliefs because I do so rarely.

    ...

    I don't really encounter situations where my belief is of importance or in the minority. I have to go on the internet to find disagreement.

    My experience has been, in every single way you described, the exact opposite.

    spool32 on
    gjaustin
  • SummaryJudgmentSummaryJudgment They're inside you building a monument to compromise! Fuck them. Fuck those people. Registered User regular
    Julius wrote: »
    spool32 wrote: »
    True. Where I grew up, you didn't need to be a churchgoer to find yourself at least partially defining yourself according to how you felt about evangelical or Pentecostal churches, though.

    But that's still not the experience of many atheists, though I admit where I'm from is really different in that regard.

    I grew up in an irreligious household in the most secular part of The Netherlands which is itself pretty secular. While the existence of religions wasn't unknown to me I never really had to deal with them in a reaction. Far as I was and still am concerned they didn't exist. Like, I don't want to sound like a dick for real I'm just saying that I'm still surprised when I encounter religious beliefs because I do so rarely.

    Which might be why I have no real trouble with being called an atheist and why I think rejecting atheist for the label of agnostic is silly. I don't have a stake in it. I don't really encounter situations where my belief is of importance or in the minority. I have to go on the internet to find disagreement.

    This is kind of off-topic, but hey, it's interesting:

    It's been awhile since I studied this, but I remember taking a 400-level poli sci class about Religion in Politics, and I thought The Netherlands actually had like state-sponsored parochial schooling and community outreach programs that were specifically for particular religions? The Netherlands was actually used as like the prototypical example of a country where there wasn't only "separation of church and state" in the United States' tradition, but instead mandated integration?

    Our eyes squinted, our teeth clenched, our prayers answered.
  • KanaKana Registered User regular
    You'd be hard pressed to find a western Atheist personality that makes light of Daoism or Wicca, for instance.

    Yo!

    Well I mean I possess a personality at least, though I am not a capitalized Personality.

    The thing is that when atheists go, "hey you know what's really dumb? Wicca!" the christians just tend to go, "Yeup, it sure is!"

    If you redefine 'atheism' into the disbelief in somebody else's god, there's lots and lots of atheists out there :)

    A trap is for fish: when you've got the fish, you can forget the trap. A snare is for rabbits: when you've got the rabbit, you can forget the snare. Words are for meaning: when you've got the meaning, you can forget the words.
  • ShadowhopeShadowhope Baa. Registered User regular
    I consider myself an agnostic.

    I think that there are four potential answers to the question "is there a god?"

    1. No, there is not.
    2. Yes, and God is a supremely benevolent/disinterest being, and it doesn't really matter if we believe or not.
    3. Yes, and one particular religion got it right at some point.
    4. Yes, and God is a terrifying Lovecraftian horror.

    In three of those answers, it basically really doesn't matter if we believe in God or not, and in the fourth possibility there aren't great odds on winning the dice roll to pick the right faith.

    I figure that I'll know the answer when I'm dead (or won't), and won't worry about it.

    Dinosaurs were made up by the CIA to discourage time travel
    steam_sig-400.png
    T-bolt
  • Loren MichaelLoren Michael Registered User regular
    Frozenzen wrote: »
    I don't feel like telling people what label they choose is incorrect. Unless it's blatantly wrong (a self-professed Christian worshipping Ba'al exclusively), it only serves to piss people off unnecessarily.

    In my opinion, atheists have no belief in any deity, full stop. They would change their beliefs if presented with evidence. Agnostics are a little more spiritual in that they think there is something we can't explain, and that it might be God and it might be explained in another way, but they're skeptical of affirmative claims of knowledge as to what these unexplained things are or are not.

    It may seem like a semantic distinction, and maybe sometimes it is. As with any belief structure or lack thereof, there are shades of grey. I wouldn't call my definition of either all-encompassing either; surely there is room under both umbrellas for people who identify with the labels.

    A common problem is people assuming their label is the only correct one, which I guess is the basic answer to the opening post. These words mean different things to different people, thus it's hard to agree on what they actually mean.

    Yeah, I prefer to avoid labeling myself (I prefer a more wordy description), and I enjoy asking people what they mean by their own labels.

    2ezikn6.jpg
  • poshnialloposhniallo Registered User regular
    Of course people fight over definitions. It's an attempt for control. I particularly hate the one where people tell agnostics they are actually atheists. The people saying they are agnostics are trying to express something about their beliefs, and being shut down because this particular area of though (belief) is seen as binary and logical. Which it isn't.

    I am an atheist. But I was raised Catholic. There are dozens of ways in which that culture still affects my thinking. But much more importantly, I'm only an atheist most of the time. I've prayed when in serious life-threatening danger. I've prayed for the health of my loved ones when they were in danger. So my belief isn't 100%. It feels complete, but in certain, replicable, situations will change. I totally accept the logic of 'God doesn't exist.' I feel perfectly certain that that is a logical position to hold. But I'm not logical, and neither are you. I'm not saying you'll pray when your family are near death. I'm saying that I do, and I'm an atheist, because belief is not a simple binary. Logical positions are simple binaries, and those are what we hold to, express, communciate, and conclude. But they are not identities.

    Basically:

    People aren't syllogisms, persecution complexes are self-fulfilling, and a hilarious experiment could be carried out with a cliff, an atheist, a rope, and a bible. Also probably a box, some poison, some uranium, and a cat, because fuck cats, mirite?

    I figure I could take a bear.
    spool32Lovely
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