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Christians - why the disagreement?
July 29, 2012
8:28 pm
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qmark
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Weak, strong, it seems like nothing but word games to me.

July 29, 2012
8:55 pm
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greeney2
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"humphreys" wrote: [quote="qmark"][quote="humphreys"]
Also, most atheists do not dismiss the possibility of a god existing.

I disagree. If atheists do not dismiss it outright, than they are agnostics.

Not true, this is a common misconception. Atheism means "without God belief", which just means that person does not hold the belief that God is real. Agnostics are atheists too, but agnosticism is traditionally more geared around the impossibility of knowing whether God is real or not.

There are also subsets of atheism. Strong atheists, which are far more rare, do state that God is definitely not real, but Weak atheists simply state that there is insufficient evidence to warrant God belief, but do not dismiss the possibility. Weak atheists are far more common. To make matters even more complicated, one can be a strong atheist towards certain gods but a weak atheist towards others.

In a nutshell, atheism is in its most basic sense a lack of belief in God, which is not the same as an outright dismissal, but some atheists do go a step further and claim knowledge of there being no God, like Richard Dawkins (although he may have altered his stance on this).

You're better off staying away from simplistic dictionaries and rather asking the atheists themselves what their position is, and this sums up the definition of atheism nicely:

http://atheism.about.com/od/definitiono ... erview.htm

This explains the difference between weak and strong atheists:

http://atheism.about.com/od/atheismques ... g_weak.htm

Thats probably about the stupidist explanation of Atheism possible, weak or strong, its like saying you are just slightly or completly pregnant. Richard Dawkins is probably the most followed and quoted of your leaders, yet you declare most atheists do not believe in his knowledge of no God, yet they follow his books like they are Gospel.

July 29, 2012
9:33 pm
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humphreys
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I don't get the issue you guys are having. Weak atheists make different claims to Strong atheists, so we differentiate between them just as we differentiate between Christians who have different beliefs about the Bible.

You don't recognize the difference between knowing something is false and making a direct claim about its falseness, and simply lacking belief in something because there is not sufficient evidence to warrant belief?

How can defining one's position properly be "word games"?

"All of our behavior can be traced to biological events about which we have no conscious knowledge: this has always suggested that free will is an illusion."

- Sam Harris

July 29, 2012
9:37 pm
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humphreys
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"greeney2" wrote: Thats probably about the stupidist explanation of Atheism possible, weak or strong, its like saying you are just slightly or completly pregnant. Richard Dawkins is probably the most followed and quoted of your leaders, yet you declare most atheists do not believe in his knowledge of no God, yet they follow his books like they are Gospel.

Who follows Dawkins books like gospel? Not me. There is no "leader", atheism is not a religion, as much as you'd love to bring atheists down to your level.

Dawkins is most respected for his work on evolution, not atheism, for a start, and regardless of his strong atheism, he still has plenty of valid things to say on the topic.

Weak atheism is not like saying you are slightly pregnant, because being "slightly pregnant" and "completely pregnant" would be varying levels of pregnancy, whereas "knowledge" and "lack of belief" are completely different things.

You do not have proof that Allah is not real, so you are a Weak atheist towards Allah, meaning you lack belief due to lack of evidence, rather than taking a position of knowledge.

"All of our behavior can be traced to biological events about which we have no conscious knowledge: this has always suggested that free will is an illusion."

- Sam Harris

July 29, 2012
9:41 pm
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humphreys
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Atheists simply cannot win, can they.

If we say "we know God isn't real", you reply "you can't say that unless you have proof!", so others say "we lack belief in God because we don't see enough evidence to warrant belief", and then you say "that's stupid", or "quit playing word games".

Dealing with you guys is like arguing with children.

I expected a little better from you, qmark.

"All of our behavior can be traced to biological events about which we have no conscious knowledge: this has always suggested that free will is an illusion."

- Sam Harris

July 29, 2012
10:51 pm
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greeney2
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"humphreys" wrote: Atheists simply cannot win, can they.

If we say "we know God isn't real", you reply "you can't say that unless you have proof!", so others say "we lack belief in God because we don't see enough evidence to warrant belief", and then you say "that's stupid", or "quit playing word games".

Dealing with you guys is like arguing with children.

I expected a little better from you, qmark.

What are you trying to win? You don't have to deal with us at all, its your choice to take on a loosing battle.

July 30, 2012
12:18 am
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qmark
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"humphreys" wrote: Atheists simply cannot win, can they.

If we say "we know God isn't real", you reply "you can't say that unless you have proof!", so others say "we lack belief in God because we don't see enough evidence to warrant belief", and then you say "that's stupid", or "quit playing word games".

I expected a little better from you, qmark.

I just think weak or strong is silly when it comes down to describing atheists. It is either yes or no. You either believe or you don't. If you are in the middle, you are an agnostic. The dictionary describes atheist as one who denies the existance of God, the agnostic as one who is a skeptic, mainly because they believe it is unknowable. To me, that breaks it down succinctly.

It sounds to me like the weak atheist wants to be like the agnostic, but they want to be called an atheist. That's word games to me.

July 30, 2012
9:40 am
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humphreys
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"qmark" wrote: I just think weak or strong is silly when it comes down to describing atheists. It is either yes or no. You either believe or you don't. If you are in the middle, you are an agnostic. The dictionary describes atheist as one who denies the existance of God, the agnostic as one who is a skeptic, mainly because they believe it is unknowable. To me, that breaks it down succinctly.

The dictionary says "one who denies, or disbelieves in". Strong atheists deny, weak atheists disbelieve. The dictionary definition encompasses both, but atheism is divided into both camps so the positions are clear.

You said this:

"I disagree. If atheists do not dismiss it outright, than they are agnostics."

Strong atheists dismiss it outright, weak atheists lack belief. Agnostics are weak atheists, but agnosticism tends to incorporate the impossibility of knowledge, which atheism does not. Proper agnosticism is not quite the same as weak atheism, but the positions are similar that's why weak atheism is also known as agnostic atheism.

"qmark" wrote: It sounds to me like the weak atheist wants to be like the agnostic, but they want to be called an atheist. That's word games to me.

One could also say the agnostics wants to be like the atheist but they want to be called an "agnostic" because people in places like America treat atheists like second class citizens. If anything, it is agnosticism that should no longer be used to describe what atheism covers nicely "not believing".

Atheists want people to use the correct terms. Atheism is "without God belief", use the term correctly, and the problem goes away, if that makes agnosticism obsolete, then so be it, but as I said, agnosticism includes the impossibility of knowledge in some respects, which atheism does not. You said yourself that "you either believe, or you don't believe", well, both atheists and agnostics "don't believe".

"All of our behavior can be traced to biological events about which we have no conscious knowledge: this has always suggested that free will is an illusion."

- Sam Harris

July 30, 2012
9:48 am
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humphreys
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"greeney2" wrote: [quote="humphreys"]Atheists simply cannot win, can they.

If we say "we know God isn't real", you reply "you can't say that unless you have proof!", so others say "we lack belief in God because we don't see enough evidence to warrant belief", and then you say "that's stupid", or "quit playing word games".

Dealing with you guys is like arguing with children.

I expected a little better from you, qmark.

What are you trying to win? You don't have to deal with us at all, its your choice to take on a loosing battle.

"Losing".

"All of our behavior can be traced to biological events about which we have no conscious knowledge: this has always suggested that free will is an illusion."

- Sam Harris

July 30, 2012
10:48 am
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humphreys
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"qmark" wrote: I just think weak or strong is silly when it comes down to describing atheists. It is either yes or no. You either believe or you don't. If you are in the middle, you are an agnostic. The dictionary describes atheist as one who denies the existance of God, the agnostic as one who is a skeptic, mainly because they believe it is unknowable. To me, that breaks it down succinctly.

I just noticed this.

You hit the nail right on the head with this part "the agnostic as one who is a skeptic, mainly because they believe it is unknowable".

Exactly!

So weak atheists are different to agnostics because they do not hold that position. You are agreeing with me.

So, what do you call a person who:

a) lacks belief
b) does not think knowledge is fundamentally unknowable
c) does not claim proof of non-existence, or outright dismiss the possibility that theism may be true

This does not fit agnosticism because of B, does not fit Strong Atheism because of C, and does not fit theism because of A.

Hence the term Weak Atheist.

I really do not see what your issue is now, because you seem to understand the problem, it just hasn't clicked into your head yet why the term "Weak Atheist" is the solution.

You also say "you either believe, or you don't", but then you contradict that by saying "agnostics are in the middle". Agnostics DO NOT BELIEVE, there is no middle ground, you cannot both believe and not believe, and you cannot fail to take a side. If the options are "belief" and "not belief" then it is agnosticism (the strange middle ground) that should not exist. Your complaint, if anything, should be with the agnostics, not the atheists.

The reason we had to invent the term "Weak Atheist" is because people like you assume that atheism is automatically a direct claim to knowledge of the non-existence of God, which it isn't. It is lack of belief - people who say confused and incorrect things like "If atheists do not dismiss it outright, than they are agnostics.", which you have refuted by your own additional comments here where you say "you either believe, or you don't believe [and those who don't believe are atheists]".

Babies are atheists, not agnostics. When a baby is born, the baby lacks belief, it has no concept of evidence for or against God, or of the impossibility of knowledge, or anything else, but a baby does not dismiss the possibility either because it does not have the mental capacity to even understand the question. Babies are atheists, and so are inanimate objects, and so are animals, and so are people who are not convinced by the evidence for any religion.

Sorry for waffling on, but this stuff is also core to the very philosophy many atheists share towards beliefs in general, and goes right to the heart of science and skepticism itself.

"All of our behavior can be traced to biological events about which we have no conscious knowledge: this has always suggested that free will is an illusion."

- Sam Harris

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