Atheism meant the belief of no god

  • #1
NewScientist
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I was once told that Atheism meant the belief , after studying all of the evidence, that there is no God.

However, as no one could ever study all of the evidence there is no such thing as an atheist.

Thoughts please
 

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  • #2
0zyzzyz0
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impractical definition
 
  • #3
hypnagogue
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The word "atheism" just denotes a lack of belief in the existence of a god or gods. Questions about evidence are perhaps relevant to whether one chooses to be an atheist or not, but they are not built into the definition of the term itself.

Note also that being an atheist does not entail actively denying the existence of a god; one can be an atheist without holding the positive belief that god(s) do not exist. For more information, see the Wikipedia entry on atheism.
 
  • #4
detta
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hypnagogue said:
Note also that being an atheist does not entail actively denying the existence of a god; one can be an atheist without holding the positive belief that god(s) do not exist. For more information, see the Wikipedia entry on atheism.

If you use this definition of an atheist, it seems as though there is no difference between an atheist and an agnostic. I don't think an atheist has to deny there is a god(s), but does have to have the belief that god(s) do not exist. If you don't really know if there is a god or not and you are skeptical, I would say you lean towards agnosticism over atheism.
 
  • #5
hypnagogue
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Well, there's some ambiguity in how the terms are used. Sometimes the term "agnostic" is used to mean the lack of a belief about the existence of god one way or another, with "atheism" meaning an explicit denial of god's existence.

However, I don't think the above is the proper or most useful sense of the terms. Atheism should be taken to be a metaphysical belief about god's existence, while agnosticism should be taken to be an epistemological belief about what we can know about god. An agnostic is just committed to believing that we can't know or prove anything about god's existence, but this does not preclude an agnostic from being a theist or an atheist anyway (one could be an agnostic, but still be a theist or some form of atheist as a matter of faith or intuition or whatever).
 
  • #6
kcballer21
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detta said:
If you use this definition of an atheist, it seems as though there is no difference between an atheist and an agnostic. I don't think an atheist has to deny there is a god(s), but does have to have the belief that god(s) do not exist. If you don't really know if there is a god or not and you are skeptical, I would say you lean towards agnosticism over atheism.
I think that to an atheist, the question of whether God exists is useless. There is just no need for God, and if God does exist, who cares? There's no reason to think that he affects us. That said, atheists do like to speculate.
 
  • #7
amcavoy
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Good point. I think for many, the concept of "god" is the last thing on their minds.
 
  • #8
deckart
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Would you it be fair to call atheism a religious belief? At least a spiritual belief?
 
  • #9
kcballer21
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deckart said:
Would you it be fair to call atheism a religious belief? At least a spiritual belief?
If you want to call it religion, that's fine. But it's not religion in the same sense as christianity, judaism, or islam, where blind faith and dogma are needed. We could do this, but who wants to complicate things by giving two totally different meanings to the same word?

As for spirituality, it is much harder to define that.
 
  • #10
From Webster, "atheism", from Greek atheos, a = without, theos = god, thus atheism is defined as the belief that there is no god.

The "atheist" (Webster) = a person who believes that there is no god. Thus, one cannot be an athesis and at the same time hold that god exists, this is by "definition"--so I disagree with those who have suggested otherwise.

Now, for the agnostic (Webster) = a person that "questions the existence of god, heaven, etc. in the absence of material proof and in an unwillingness to accept supernatural revelation".

I am not aware of any word for a person that does not care one way or the other if god exists or not--clearly by definition such a person is not an atheist. Logically, it is hard for me to contemplate a person that would claim to believe that god exists but did not care to follow rules of god. But then there is Lucifer, not a person, but at least a possible "existent"--that did follow this path. So, perhaps a suggested word for the person that believes that god exists but does not care is "luceist", and the philosophy they follow "luceism"--just a thought ?
 
  • #11
hypnagogue
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Rade said:
From Webster, "atheism", from Greek atheos, a = without, theos = god, thus atheism is defined as the belief that there is no god.

Let G be the proposition "God exists," and let B(G) represent the clause "belief that God exists." B(G) then amounts to theism. Atheism is the logical negation of theism, or in other words, atheism amounts to ~B(G)-- that is, atheism is defined by a lack of a belief in God.

But notice that there are two kinds of belief systems that fall under ~B(G). One is B(~G), which is an explicit belief that God does not, in fact, exist. This is referred to as strong atheism, or explicit atheism.

The other type of atheism can be formalized here as ~B(G) ^ ~B(~G). In other words, this position makes a commitment neither to the belief that God does exist, nor to the belief that God does not exist-- it is neither theism nor strong atheism. Nonetheless, insofar as it is not theism, it is still classified as a type of atheism, by definition. This form of atheism is referred to as weak atheism, or implicit atheism.

Rade said:
Now, for the agnostic (Webster) = a person that "questions the existence of god, heaven, etc. in the absence of material proof and in an unwillingness to accept supernatural revelation".

Agnostic comes from a + gnosis, where gnosis means knowledge. Thus, it just means without knowledge of God. But one need not have knowledge about something in order to form a belief about it. Even if one is an agnostic and believes he cannot attain knowledge about God, one can still believe (or disbelieve) in the existence of God as a matter of faith. There are people who classify themselves as agnostic theists, and that is not a contradiction in terms.
 
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  • #12
nameless
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NewScientist said:
I was once told that Atheism meant the belief , after studying all of the evidence, that there is no God.

However, as no one could ever study all of the evidence there is no such thing as an atheist.

Thoughts please
One wonders at a mind that can merely accept something that you were 'once told', and use it as the foundation for a logical 'conclusion'.

Pink unicorns are real!
You cannot see them till after you die.
You can ride them in heaven.
If you don't believe in them, you will go to hell.

Why would you, or anyone, accept something that you were told as a 'given' for anything?
 
  • #13
Agnostic
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Atheism is believing that there is no god because of the lack of evidence given. This is stupid as it is a philosophical fallacy appealing to ignorance. Because god can't be proven to exist, he therefore doesn't exist.

This is like religous people saying god can't be proven not to exist, therefore he does exist...

The only logical position is to be agnostic :)
 
  • #14
hypnagogue
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Agnostic said:
Atheism is believing that there is no god because of the lack of evidence given. This is stupid as it is a philosophical fallacy appealing to ignorance. Because god can't be proven to exist, he therefore doesn't exist.

This is like religous people saying god can't be proven not to exist, therefore he does exist...

This is incorrect. You are referring to strong atheism here, but neglecting to consider weak atheism. See post #11 of this thread.
 
  • #15
Agnostic
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hypnagogue said:
This is incorrect. You are referring to strong atheism here, but neglecting to consider weak atheism. See post #11 of this thread.

Weak atheism is agnosticism.

When I say I don't believe in a christian god, that doesn't mean I am saying a christian god doesn't exist
 
  • #16
hypnagogue
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Agnostic said:
Weak atheism is agnosticism.

In the common vernacular, agnosticism is usually meant to convey weak atheism, but this is a usage problem. If weak atheism and agnosticism were equivalent, it would impossible to be e.g. an agnostic theist, because that would be a contradiction in terms. But it's not. An agnostic theist would be someone who believes that God exists, but denies that he can have any true knowledge of God's existence. That is, he doesn't think the matter of God's existence can be subject to demonstration or proof or whatever, but he chooses to believe in God anyway as a matter of faith.

Of course, it might be relatively rare for someone to be both agnostic and theist, and probably even rarer for someone to be agnostic and strong atheist. Agnosticism and weak atheism go together naturally, and the majority of agnostics are probably weak atheists, but the two terms are not synonymous.
 
  • #17
Sikz
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NewScientist said:
I was once told that Atheism meant the belief , after studying all of the evidence, that there is no God.

However, as no one could ever study all of the evidence there is no such thing as an atheist.

Thoughts please

I don't need to know all about geometry nor all of the properties of a given triangle in order to disprove it; I only need to know two points that form a logical contradiction.

If it were given that the triangle was on a Euclidean plane, and that it had a total of 400 interior degrees... I could disprove it simply by knowing the one fact that Euclidean triangles have 180 interior degrees.

The same principle applies with anything. I don't need to know "all of the evidence" to disprove God; I only need to know enough to find a contradiction.
 
  • #18
Agnostic
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Sikz said:
I don't need to know all about geometry nor all of the properties of a given triangle in order to disprove it; I only need to know two points that form a logical contradiction.

If it were given that the triangle was on a Euclidean plane, and that it had a total of 400 interior degrees... I could disprove it simply by knowing the one fact that Euclidean triangles have 180 interior degrees.

The same principle applies with anything. I don't need to know "all of the evidence" to disprove God; I only need to know enough to find a contradiction.


You have to find an objective contradiction not a subjective one.
 
  • #19
NewScientist
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Sikz said:
I don't need to know all about geometry nor all of the properties of a given triangle in order to disprove it; I only need to know two points that form a logical contradiction.

If it were given that the triangle was on a Euclidean plane, and that it had a total of 400 interior degrees... I could disprove it simply by knowing the one fact that Euclidean triangles have 180 interior degrees.

The same principle applies with anything. I don't need to know "all of the evidence" to disprove God; I only need to know enough to find a contradiction.

I never say that one cannot 'deduce' that God does not exists, i merely recount a definition i had heard.
 
  • #20
Sikz
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The definition is obviously wrong.

1) Atheism means, literally, "no god". It is the belief that there is no god. It has nothing to do with how you came to your beliefs, only with those beliefs themselves.
2) You're right, you couldn't study all of the evidence.

So, the definition is wrong. ...-__-

The point of my earlier post was to say that even though the definition may be wrong, the implications of its being so (or at least the way it was phrased) are not correct. Even if you can't study all the evidence, you can be an atheist- and that does not, as it seems to imply, necessitate a disregard for evidence. You can be an atheist after examining sufficient evidence, all evidence you could find, or conclusive evidence.
 
  • #21
Jameson
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Sikz said:
1) Atheism means, literally, "no god". It is the belief that there is no god. It has nothing to do with how you came to your beliefs, only with those beliefs themselves.

Personally I think of that kind of atheism as explicit atheism, that is the positive affirmation that there is no God. What would you call a person who hasn't yet been exposed to the concept of God? I would call that person an implicit atheist because they are an atheist only by a strict definition of the word atheism, "a lack of belief in God or gods".
 
  • #22
deckart
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nameless said:
One wonders at a mind that can merely accept something that you were 'once told', and use it as the foundation for a logical 'conclusion'.

Pink unicorns are real!
You cannot see them till after you die.
You can ride them in heaven.
If you don't believe in them, you will go to hell.

Why would you, or anyone, accept something that you were told as a 'given' for anything?

I believe in God. o:)
I've read some of your posts. The fact that someone believes in God seems to really get you fired up. :bugeye:

Everyone has a belief concerning spiritual things. Including the belief that there are no spiritual things. I would even call that a spiritual belief. But, would that be an accurate statement?
 
  • #23
nameless
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deckart said:
I believe in God. o:)
Whatever works for you. No problem to me what you believe, unless you come rapping at my door on Saturday morn to 'share'..

I've read some of your posts. The fact that someone believes in God seems to really get you fired up.
I really don't care what you believe. This is a forum for discussion. Lively, spirited discussion seems more interesting than dull boring.. So I attempt to make what I say 'interesting' and 'fun' to read.. Thats all, just a game..
I find that 'beliefs' are error. It matters not a whit what that 'belief' is. One 'fantasy' is as good as another... Believing strongly in that 'fiction' doesn't have some magical transformative effect to turn your 'fiction' into some kind of 'objective reality'.
Squinching your eyes and repeating "I Believe! I Believe!" can cause a car wreck if done at an innappropriate time!

Everyone has a belief concerning spiritual things. Including the belief that there are no spiritual things. I would even call that a spiritual belief. But, would that be an accurate statement?
Perhaps what you might mean is that "I BELIEVE" that 'Everyone has a belief concerning spiritual things.' See? That is the problem with 'beliefs'. You have no space for other perspectives. Beliefs are emotionally validated, and one way is that there must be a 'right' and a 'wrong'. My 'belief' MUST be right, therefore those that see things a different way are 'wrong'. This kind of thinking leads to making sweeping pronouncements such as "Everyone has a belief concerning spiritual things." because 'beliefs' delude one into the perspective that one has some sort of understanding of ultimate reality, and differences MUST be 'wrong'.

No, it was not an accurate statement.

If I had a hamburger in one hand, and nothing in the other, there will be 'evidence' to hypothesize the hamburger in the hand. There is not a 'non-hamburger' in the other hand. There is simply no evidence to form a similar hypothesis. Nothing there. No belief is necessary as there is no evidence from which to form a 'hypothesis' or even a 'belief'. It remains 'empty'. There is no need to fill the 'darkness' with 'spooks' by 'belief'.
Fear of the 'dark' is certainly common, though, and manifests in many ways.
 
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  • #24
deckart
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I agree, nameless.
 
  • #25
nameless
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Hahahahaahaah...
I like that!

"I agree, nameless."

Shut me right up!
Hahahahahaha...
Thanx for the laugh!
*__-
 
  • #26
Psi 5
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hypnagogue said:
The word "atheism" just denotes a lack of belief in the existence of a god or gods. Questions about evidence are perhaps relevant to whether one chooses to be an atheist or not, but they are not built into the definition of the term itself.

Note also that being an atheist does not entail actively denying the existence of a god; one can be an atheist without holding the positive belief that god(s) do not exist. For more information, see the Wikipedia entry on atheism.

Without looking it up, I have to think these definitions are wrong. Common usage is atheism denotes belief in the non-existence of God and agnostic denotes lack of belief or uncertainty. Whatever the definitons, that's the common usage and it won't change.
 
  • #27
TheStatutoryApe
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Hypnagogue said:
In the common vernacular, agnosticism is usually meant to convey weak atheism, but this is a usage problem. If weak atheism and agnosticism were equivalent, it would impossible to be e.g. an agnostic theist, because that would be a contradiction in terms. But it's not. An agnostic theist would be someone who believes that God exists, but denies that he can have any true knowledge of God's existence. That is, he doesn't think the matter of God's existence can be subject to demonstration or proof or whatever, but he chooses to believe in God anyway as a matter of faith.

Of course, it might be relatively rare for someone to be both agnostic and theist, and probably even rarer for someone to be agnostic and strong atheist. Agnosticism and weak atheism go together naturally, and the majority of agnostics are probably weak atheists, but the two terms are not synonymous.
There seems to be a problem here if we look further into definitions. To "believe" something is to hold it true. Belief does not mean holding something fictional to be true as Nameless has described. Now how about knowing or knowledge? Just as "belief" does not imply any sort of fiction "Knowing and Knowledge" does not imply any sort of truth, they are simply bits of information or ideas. Now it would seem to me that knowledge is a necessity of belief. You must have some sort of piece of information or idea to believe in in order to have a belief. So the idea that a person can believe in god yet have no knowledge of god (being both agnostic and theist) is logically inconsistant. It would seem that a person who has not been introduced to the idea of god or does not consider the possibility of god would best be described as agnostic, lacking knowledge.
There is also the matter of "faith" but faith is defined as a strong belief. If belief requires knowledge then faith, being a strong belief, must require knowledge too as opposed to the common definition that "faith" is belief without knowledge. Logically you can not believe in something without knowing about it.
So it would seem that the main differances between these ideologies is what constitutes "knowing" and what sort of knowledge is necessary or sufficient to consider something "true", or believe in it, specifically in regards to god.

There is a further problem that I have with this definition of atheism being used though. The idea that atheism means lack of belief in "god" (either intentional or unintentional) would seem to make a number of religions such as buddhism "atheist" religions. I doubt though that these religions would consider themselves "atheist".
 
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  • #28
nameless
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TheStatutoryApe said:
Belief does not mean holding something fictional to be true as Nameless has described.
I am being misrepresented here. I stated that, ultimately, any and everything that you can 'believe' in, is fiction.
'Belief' is no arbiter of 'Truth'. If you can conceive of something, that is the sum total of it's 'existence', in your 'conceptions', in your mind, which makes it 'fiction'.
Yes, 'belief' IS holding something 'fictional' to be true.
That is also the definition of 'delusion'.

One would, of course, expect 'true believers' to emotionally and vehemently disagree with this position, by definition. Makes for 'spirited' discussion! *__-
 
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  • #29
TheStatutoryApe
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nameless said:
I am being misrepresented here. I stated that, ultimately, any and everything that you can 'believe' in, is fiction.
'Belief' is no arbiter of 'Truth'. If you can conceive of something, that is the sum total of it's 'existence', in your 'conceptions', in your mind, which makes it 'fiction'.
Yes, 'belief' IS holding something 'fictional' to be true.
That is also the definition of 'delusion'.
Considering what you have responded with I don't understand how I have misrepresented you. I simply don't agree with your convention that a belief is a fiction.
 
  • #30
pmb_phy
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NewScientist said:
I was once told that Atheism meant the belief , after studying all of the evidence, that there is no God.

However, as no one could ever study all of the evidence there is no such thing as an atheist.

Thoughts please
We used a variation of that theme in one of my religious courses when I was an undergrad. The idea was that you can think of yourself as a serious aetheist, one worthy of that term, if you had taken some serious time to consider the matter, read up on some material on it, read some of the pro and con arguements and after having educated yourself in the matter came to a decision. That's an aetheist I can admire, even though I'm more of a Christian every day.

Speaking of which - Stephen Gould (An evolutionist at Harvard and a Nobel prize winner as I recal) came up with a so-called "Proof" that God does not exist. I was wondering if someone knew where I could find that article online? Thanks.

Peted
 
  • #31
arildno
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1 ."There has never existed, exist or will ever exist an elephant with blue ears and huge batwings attached to its back"
2. "Once it existed or exists or will exist an elephant with blue ears and huge batwings attached to its back".

Either one of these statements might be true, right?
And, furthermore, one of these statements MUST be true?

So, does it therefore follow that it is equally intellectually respectable to pick either one of them?
 
  • #32
nameless
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TheStatutoryApe said:
Considering what you have responded with I don't understand how I have misrepresented you. I simply don't agree with your convention that a belief is a fiction.
You are right. My error. I thought about that afterwards and realized that you didn't really misrepresent.
Perhaps what 'goaded' me to respond was the way you just dismissed my experience in passing. Perhaps if you said that "I have a different take on the matter than nameless.."
I guess that 'egoic' response of mine was not called for.
Apologies.
 
  • #33
arildno
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nameless said:
Not at all. We can never know, conclusively, whether it was,is, or will be.
That is totally irrelevant.
One of the statements is true, the other is false.

It is, however, sheer nonsense to believe in 2.

It is equally nonsensical to believe in the existence of a god.
 
  • #34
nameless
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Originally Posted by arildno
Either one of these statements might be true, right?

Might.

And, furthermore, one of these statements MUST be true?

Not at all. We can never know, conclusively, whether it was,is, or will be. Would it 'count' if I dreamed up your elephant tonight when I sleep? Would that bring it into 'existence'?

So, does it therefore follow that it is equally intellectually respectable to pick either one of them?

Pick either one for what? Dinner? A 'belief'? A 'world view'?

pmb_phy said:
Speaking of which - Stephen Gould (An evolutionist at Harvard and a Nobel prize winner as I recal) came up with a so-called "Proof" that God does not exist. I was wondering if someone knew where I could find that article online? Thanks.
Just goes to illustrate how someone can be absolutely brilliant in one area and turn into a 'drooling idiot' when emotionally held 'beliefs' are in question. Ego vs intellect.. and never the twain shall meet!
 
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  • #35
nameless
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arildno said:
That is totally irrelevant.
One of the statements is true, the other is false.
Shall I take your word for it or are you able to offer definitive proof of your assertion?
 

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