Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Forum Discussion on Weak/Strong Atheism, Agnosticism, etc

Note: This is an old post that was was sitting in my drafts yet was never published. It's probably from 2011 but I thought I'd throw it up to have some new content on the blog in the interim between now and my next (newly composed, not an old draft) entry.

This is an excerpt of a discussion I had on a forum recently regarding religion/atheism, etc. (Italics is the other people, magx is in normal font.)

I just wanted to set you straight that not all atheists have the belief that there is no god.

If we're going further wax semantics, I suggest you look into agnosticism, because the above......


....doesn't really help your case that you're some authority on the matter, here to keep me informed.

I think what he meant was that there's a difference between lacking the belief in a god, and positively believing that there are, in fact, no gods in existence. This is often referred to as weak vs. strong atheism. In fact, the very article you linked to discusses this.

While I myself am a strong atheist, I know many who are weak atheists. They do not believe in a god, but they do not believe there to be no gods either. While this may sound like a contradiction on the face of it, it's not. Basically, it comes down to evidence. They have not been convinced by the evidence that any gods exist, but they do not believe there be enough evidence to assume that none do exist.

It's like alien encounters. I don't believe them to be true, but I don't believe that the idea of alien life is preposterous; in fact, it's quite the opposite. I think it's almost impossible for there not to be other life somewhere, due to the sheer magnitude of the universe and statistical probabilities.

So, when it comes to aliens, I'd be a weak anti-alienist lol. I haven't seen any evidence that they do in fact exist, but in no way do I think they almost certainly don't. That's analagous to the god thing. Some atheists haven't been convinced by the evidence but don't go as far as I do. They don't think the god thing to be impossible or even unlikely, whereas I think it to be absolutely unlikely.

Also, I didn't read through this whole topic, so you may have already addressed this, but your first few posts seemed to portray the idea that atheism is somehow related to caring about the issue of god. Neither atheism nor agnosticism have anything to do with caring about the issue. Atheism/Theism deals with belief, and Agnosticism/Gnosticism deals with knowledge. Every theist, and every atheis, is either gnostic or agnostic (in fact we're all agnostic, because NO ONE knows for sure, but many theist seem to think they are gnostic, and a few misguided atheists unfortunately seem to believe likewise).

Lastly, don't let your encounters with some of the less astute atheists online colour your views of all atheists. Not all of us are juvenile, reactionary, inflammatory aholes (although I do love a good rant, and do get angry at religion, for good reason).

By accepting atheism, you accept the fact that an entity never existed and never will exist.

By accepting religion, you accept the fact that an entity once existed but no longer exists.

By accepting neither, you open up your options.

No. This is absolutely misguided. You don't accept atheism or theism. You are either convinced or not. Atheism does not necessitate that idea that no deity exists. Read my last post. Theism does not dictate the absence of a god now. Deism has that as a possible element, however.

The last sentence is nonsensical. There's no third option in addition to either believing a god or lacking said belief. That's impossible. If your answer to the question "do you believe in god(s)" is anything other than yes, you're an atheist. If it's yes, you're a theist. If it's "I don't know," you currently lack the belief (you have not been convinced that one exists by any evidenciary means) and are therefore current;y an atheist.

Accepting is is accepting belief. So yes, you must believe that you're really accepting a truth, to accept a belief. If a truth can not be proven, is no longer relevant, it was never necessarily true.

Fair enough. I still think there's a distinction to be made, but I can chalk that up to a semantics issue and let it slide :)

This still leaves open the definitions of atheism and theism, as well as your contention that one can be neither theistic nor atheistic. Could you give a direct, clear response to my corrections of your definitions of atheism and theism,a nd my statement that you are necessarily either a theist or an atheist, and cannot be neither?


Well, I like the term Dualist Pantheism. Look it up. See, man has lived for many generations and has already answered every question. We just ask the same question over and over with a slight twist.

I will argue that man is always evolving, for if we weren't, we would be dead. I don't know what I'll look like when I'm 80 and how I'll feel and who I will project to, and whether I will even be alive then, but I know if I stop living I stop evolving. Like upgrading an operating system, my brain is always assessing known truths to utter perfection.

Interesting concept, but I would take issue with the dualistic aspect of it. As far as pantheism goes, it's a concept I am familair with, and it's always struck me as pointless. By calling the universe god, you're confusing the issue and adding exactly zero new information, so what's the point? It's also atheistic, since the universe is the culmination of everything. There is no extraneous deity, no creator god. You believe in what you can see, measure, verify. That's an atheistic outlook.

The dualism bears a burden of proof that it has not met. It's also a fuzzy concept. What exactly, does your particular dualism entail? A spirit/soul? A 'spirit world'? Some sort of metaphysical dimensionary thing?

Actually, perhaps I spoke too soon regarding the atheism thing if I don't know exactly what you believe. I apologize for that.

If you'd care to explain exactly what you believe, I could more easily make my assessment, which you could then agree or disagree with. I'm also just curious :)

Oh, as for the bit of man always evolving, absolutely, 100% yes. All life is constantly evolving, and that's a known scientific fact. We're in absolute agreement there.

Thanks for the interesting discussion thus far, and it's nice to be able to talk about this with someone without it degrading into a stupid argument.

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