Can an atheist be an atheist

  • #26
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Evo said:
I need to clarify (at least I know what I'm thinking :wink: ) The way I meant it is that a true atheist does not question if there is a god or not, or if religion (god) is correct, if they did, they would not be atheist, they would be agnostic. That doesn't mean that an atheist cannot know anything about god(s) or religion or is unable to discuss it. I hope that makes it clearer.

Smurf's definition of agnostic is also my understanding - Agnosticism: The belief that there can be no proof either that God exists or that God does not exist
Ok, now that sounds good, thanks for the clarification.
 
  • #27
Ivan Seeking
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neurocomp2003 said:
ithen what do you call a person who doesn't believe in god but needs the thought process to argue with someone who does?
Undecided.
 
  • #28
One of the more thoughtful and consistent atheists I have come across is Richard Dawkins. Basically, he sees no reason for a God to exist and operates as though there were not one. He is also an excellent writer. After reading "The Devil's Chaplain" I felt comforted by being in such good company when in regards to a belief in a higher power.
 
  • #29
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Berislav said:
No, he really wasn't, at least, he didn't want to be.

"Nihilism is not the cause, it is only the logic of decadence."
-F. Nietzsche, The Will to Power

He thought that a nihilist is what a philosopher becomes when he becomes sick.
I never said he was. i said he was identified as one.

Having read most of his works, I'm aware of his opinion on nihilism, but he is often percieved and identified as one.
 
  • #30
There are many different variations of Atheism. Agnoticism can mean no belief in God, but it can mean one doesn't believe the existence of God is knowable. Still, by definition, some Agnostics are Atheist. Weak Atheism is not the belief that God doesn't exist, but it is lack of belief in God. Agnostic Atheism is a type of Agnosticism where God's existence isn't provable, but it is seen as highly improbable. A Strong Atheist says God doesn't exist, but they may admit it is possible that God exists - although this possibility is seen as so unlikely that a Strong Atheist would probably bet their life on it and still might mock those who believe in God.

An Antitheist is an individual (usually a Strong Atheist) who thinks religion is a disease. Marxists, Richard Dawkins, and Freud could probably be considered Antitheist.

I was Theist, Agnostic, Agnostic Atheist, and recently switched my religious belief again. As there was little left, I choose Strong Atheism, but I could easily be considered an Antitheist as well. To the thread starter, some Atheists believe their are no absolutes; however, I don't know if their are absolutes or not. Personally, if their aren't absolutes, absolutes should be created (or faked) to ensure a stable society; therefore, one should achieve positions relative to current knowledge. If I say there is a chair in the room, but you see nothing, you'd tell me there is no chair. Perhaps you are the one who is wrong and can't see the chair; however, since pretending to see the chair is of no benefit to you, you might as well continue assuming the chair's nonexistence.

Nihilism isn't a form of Atheism, to my knowledge. Nietzsche was Atheist (I think) and coined the term "God is dead" so that may be why Nihilism is often associated with Atheism. However, Nietzsche didn't even event Nihilism; if I remember correctly, some Russian Anarchist did.
 
  • #31
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lawtonfogle said:
well, i know an atheist does not beleive in God, but all atheist i have talked to say there is no absolute truth. Saying there is no God is saying there is no absolute truth.
Try talking to some Objectivists (if I may generalize them as atheists, which is not necessarily true). They have a rigid idea of "objective reality" and black & white ethics/morality.

Anyway, I think Moonbear makes a particularly good point, given that many religious teachings equate atheism with immorality because of a lack of following God's "absolute truth".
 
  • #32
I recently heard what I think is a pretty good term that atheists and agnostics could identify themselves with: "doubter"
 
  • #33
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kcballer21 said:
I recently heard what I think is a pretty good term that atheists and agnostics could identify themselves with: "doubter"
Not accurate at all:
As an agnostic I don't doubt the existance of god. That would be a waste of time and effort, rather I have decided that whether god exists or not is insignificant, and move on.

Moreover, a strong atheist doesn't doubt the existance of god, rather she knows that there is no god, or, at least, could have the same strenght of dogma as someone who believes in god.

For some people the notion of 'god' is ill-defined. It doesn't make sense to talk about doubting something that doesn't make sense in the first place.

Finally, even the most devout of believers is human, and therefore fallible in his own beliefs, hence he too, may doubt the existance of god.

Moreover, "doubter" doesn't exactly have a positive connotation. Even "sceptic" is a good bit less negative, and is quite a bit more accurate.
 
  • #34
NateTG said:
Not accurate at all:
As an agnostic I don't doubt the existance of god. That would be a waste of time and effort, rather I have decided that whether god exists or not is insignificant, and move on.

Moreover, a strong atheist doesn't doubt the existance of god, rather she knows that there is no god, or, at least, could have the same strenght of dogma as someone who believes in god.

For some people the notion of 'god' is ill-defined. It doesn't make sense to talk about doubting something that doesn't make sense in the first place.

Finally, even the most devout of believers is human, and therefore fallible in his own beliefs, hence he too, may doubt the existance of god.

Moreover, "doubter" doesn't exactly have a positive connotation. Even "sceptic" is a good bit less negative, and is quite a bit more accurate.
But it is doubt (skeptism) that leads the child raised under revealed religion (or whatever) to become agnostic or atheists (at least ideally). Don't act as if there is no connection. You said yourself that you "decided" it was useless to doubt god's existence. Didn't that decision involve considering god's existence? I am a doubter, a skeptic, and it is those characteristics that have led to my current stance as an atheist. I see the terms as compatible.
 
  • #35
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kcballer21 said:
I see the terms as compatible.
They're not, simply due to the fact that the term implies consideration of the possibility. An atheist like me flatly denies not only that there is a god, but that there even could be one.
And as far as I can see, the concept would never arise in the first place to someone who wasn't exposed to it from an outside source.
 
  • #36
Danger said:
They're not, simply due to the fact that the term implies consideration of the possibility. An atheist like me flatly denies not only that there is a god, but that there even could be one.
ok... if you became an atheist without consideration of possibilities then you have missed the point of being an atheist. The idea may sound silly to you, but belief in a god is very pervasive, even among people far more intelligent than ourselves. So I don't think it is unreasonable from a atheists point of view to see what all the hype is about. After reviewing the evidence, an atheist would conclude that there is no god, but only after dismissing the other argument. For myself, my current position as an atheist stems from a former belief in catholicism, followed by an introduction to science, philosophy and naturalist thought. But the transition didn't happen overnight, it began with doubt. "Can christians know for sure that their way is THE way?" and these type of beginner questions. So from that initial skepticism and doubt, I have arrived at a place where god does not need to exist, so he doesn't.
And as far as I can see, the concept would never arise in the first place to someone who wasn't exposed to it from an outside source
Are you saying that an isolated society/individual would not have a concept of god? If that is what you're saying then what outside source contributed to the existence of a belief in god today?
 
  • #37
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kcballer21 said:
But it is doubt (skeptism) that leads the child raised under revealed religion (or whatever) to become agnostic or atheists (at least ideally).
Funny that, I was raised agnostic. No skepticism needed there.

Don't act as if there is no connection. You said yourself that you "decided" it was useless to doubt god's existence. Didn't that decision involve considering god's existence?
Not necessarily. The transition from atheism (believing a priori that there is no god) to agnosticism (concluding that if there is a god, it does not affect me) does not involve any doubt, but rather accepting that there are limits to my awareness.
 
  • #38
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lawtonfogle said:
An atheist beleives in no absolute truth, so they cannot state they are an atheist, because that would take absolute truth to do, or is there something i missed.
An atheist can believe in truth. I would say any reasonable atheist relies on it. The misunderstanding here is in the definition of God. You are describing God as an absolute truth, but most religions ascribe a consciousness to God that an atheist does not. Atheists can believe in universal truth, but not believe in a universal consciousness.
 
  • #39
Ah, so that's what lawtonfogle meant. Well reasoned and well stated, Huckleberry.
 
  • #40
NateTG said:
Funny that, I was raised agnostic. No skepticism needed there.



Not necessarily. The transition from atheism (believing a priori that there is no god) to agnosticism (concluding that if there is a god, it does not affect me) does not involve any doubt, but rather accepting that there are limits to my awareness.
But if you were raised agnostic, didn't there come a point when you wondered why so many other people believed in god? Didn't that cause some hesitancy (doubting) on your part as far as your own beliefs? The resolution of this doubt would only serve to strengthen your position. This is a good thing. Anyway, not to drag out the wordplay, but when you 'accepted' that there were limits to your awareness didn't that come after some deliberation? As futile as my argument may have become, when I speak of doubt I am refering to the process in establishing a belief. And I think that process is an ongoing one.
 
  • #41
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kcballer21 said:
But if you were raised agnostic, didn't there come a point when you wondered why so many other people believed in god?
I'm using this quote to answer the questions directed at me, because I was also initially raised agnostic (and my father was a minister). As soon as I became old enough to realize what the implications were—around 8 or so—I became an atheist instantly.
As for the concept of a god in the first place, it was most assuredly a creation of primitive social structures, not something that someone would come up with naturally. I can't see that an isolated person, who had no communication ever with anyone else, would think up such a thing any more than he would develop a theory of economics.
 
  • #42
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Danger said:
As for the concept of a god in the first place, it was most assuredly a creation of primitive social structures, not something that someone would come up with naturally.
Thing is, it's pretty much impossible to find a culture that doesn't have a god. If they don't have something like a "creator" they always have, at least, animism; belief in nature spirits. The fact these concepts sprang up everywhere among all people suggests that there is something completely natural about these beliefs.
I can't see that an isolated person, who had no communication ever with anyone else, would think up such a thing any more than he would develop a theory of economics.
Think about Moses who was spoken to by the burning bush when he lived in total isolation, by himself, in the desert. There are alot of religious movements that can be traced to their beginings with a single individual. There is no reason to suppose that a feral person might not concieve of some kind of spirit or deity. They might not, but they might.
 
  • #43
Evo
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zoobyshoe said:
Thing is, it's pretty much impossible to find a culture that doesn't have a god. If they don't have something like a "creator" they always have, at least, animism; belief in nature spirits. The fact these concepts sprang up everywhere among all people suggests that there is something completely natural about these beliefs.
There is a tribe called the "Piraha" in Brazil that have no religion, no myths, no gods.

They have no creation myths, tell no fictional stories and have no art, they have no collective memory going back more than two generations.

There was an interesting paper about them a couple of years ago. They do have a spirit belief, so I guess that would count.
 
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  • #44
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Evo said:
There is a tribe called the "Piraha" in Brazil that have no religion, no myths, no gods.
One of a kind people.
 
  • #45
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Evo said:
There is a tribe called the "Piraha" in Brazil that have no religion, no myths, no gods.
Actually, now that Boulderhead's in the amazon, they may start worshiping "The Stone Headed One."
 
  • #46
Evo
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zoobyshoe said:
Actually, now that Boulderhead's in the amazon, they may start worshiping "The Stone Headed One."
You're too fast!

Why did he leave without a farewell party? :frown:
 
  • #47
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zoobyshoe said:
Thing is, it's pretty much impossible to find a culture that doesn't have a god.
Again, you refer to a culture, where such concepts can arise from a back and forth exchange of ideas until they come up with something that they more or less agree upon. Moses, since you mention him, was not totally without previous experience with other people. And I believe the bit about the burning bush just a little less than the flying reindeer.
 
  • #48
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Danger said:
I can't see that an isolated person, who had no communication ever with anyone else, would think up such a thing any more than he would develop a theory of economics.
People don't "think up" religions out of the blue. Religions happen to them. If you read about any of the origins theres always this one guy who's had a vision of something that contains a "moral" message.

"Visions" are perfectly common. I, personally, suspect them to be caused by neurological problems, physical disease, or injestion of toxins. But the experiencer more often than not, believes in their literal truth. This is how religions get started. Read the story of Mohamed. Tribal elders don't get together and say "Let's invent God and his rules." There is always someone who firmly and fully believes in what they're preaching from first hand experience.

Culture, or individual, makes no difference. It happens everywhere to all people over and over. In that sense, it is very much "natural".

Moses saw the burning bush that was not consumed, you better believe it. That doesn't mean the bush was actually burning, but Moses brain created the very real illusion it was. He believed it.
 
  • #49
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zoobyshoe said:
People don't "think up" religions out of the blue. Religions happen to them. If you read about any of the origins theres always this one guy who's had a vision of something that contains a "moral" message.
You're still talking about relatively modern history. I'm going back to the advent of language that was capable of conveying abstract concepts. Theology was already established in one form or another long before 'civilization' arose. And I don't doubt that Moses believed that the bush thing happened, but I certainly don't accept that it really did.
 
  • #50
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I don't think it takes a culture to create a religion. It could be created to give an explanation to things people don't understand. For example a woman becomes pregnant. How does this happen? Where does this baby come from? That seems pretty miraculous to ancient man. Life comes out of life. It happens everywhere they notice. Spirits are a small step from there. A faith develops.

A small group of people notice that if they do things a certain way at certain times of the year they are fortunate. They survive and others die. They must be blessed by the spirits. They begin practicing a religion as a means of survival that can be passed from generation to generation.

God/s probably come after culture develops. Several Gods form at first because it mirrors people's existence. People have certain tasks that they perform to function in society. Mostly agricultural in nature, sun, rain, wind, storms. Things people have in common like life and death and sex become major themes for Gods of fertility, war, etc. Then as man struggles against man for territory and resources and attempts to dominate they create an ethos with a ruling God. Their Gods reflect how they live in their culture.

In todays world we use reason to explain our world much more than our ancestors did even 100 years ago. Because more is explained there is less need for religion for survival. There is still much we do not know and the beliefs that form religion are tenacious. There is still a reason for it to exist. In advanced civilizations that promote individual thought it is only natural that many people would choose to give up their spiritual beliefs as unnecessary. Hopefully what replaces the individual's religion is a system of beliefs that incorporate personal morals and social ethics. They are necessary for stability in society.

I don't even know why I wrote that. More finger babbling I guess. Oh well.
 

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