Atheism - Faith there's no god

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23 Apr 2013 06:34 #104260 by Whyte Horse
Is atheism based on having faith that there's no god? I know agnosticism says "I don't know if there's a god" whereas atheism says "there is no god". To me, it seems like it requires a leap of faith to say there's no god because there is no proof that there isn't.

If this is the case, how do you explain that to atheists? I've tried and it always ends badly where the atheist thinks I'm trying to convert them to have faith but I'm really just pointing out they have faith and what they really mean is they're agnostic.

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23 Apr 2013 07:02 #104262 by ren
Replied by ren on topic Atheism - Faith there's no god
Atheism is a word that gets lots of bad publicity, has long been used pejoratively, and now seems to mostly be used to refer to strong atheists...

Atheism simply means "lack of theistic belief", and can include rejection of theism or not. this means that strong atheism, a category within explicit atheism, is just as atheist as a newborn child (who hasn't had the opportunity to theorize on the existence of deities yet).

Agnostics are in fact atheists, but pressure from churches encourages people not to feel as such... Because to them atheists go to hell, while agnostics are potential believers (they don't reject god). It's all about making people feel bad about being atheist.

I don't think a Jediist would be likely to fall in the agnostic category because while there is lack of belief in one or more deity, the highest power is the Force... therefore any god from the other religions are not really gods in the commonly understood theistic sense... And if no gods can ever really be gods, you can't claim that it is possible for gods (the usual theistic kind) to exist.

Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

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23 Apr 2013 07:29 #104265 by Whyte Horse

ren wrote: I don't think a Jediist would be likely to fall in the agnostic category because while there is lack of belief in one or more deity, the highest power is the Force... therefore any god from the other religions are not really gods in the commonly understood theistic sense... And if no gods can ever really be gods, you can't claim that it is possible for gods (the usual theistic kind) to exist.

Well I consider myself agnostic, formerly an atheist. I make this distinction because so many people believe in deities... it doesn't make them right but it doesn't make them wrong. So my position is that we can't really know whether or not there is a god so it's pointless to debate or even take a side like theism or atheism.

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23 Apr 2013 11:56 - 23 Apr 2013 12:06 #104283 by
Replied by on topic Atheism - Faith there's no god
I don't see much difference between agnostic and atheist. It's really just a degree of uncertainty, isn't it?

I reject the idea its a matter of faith to be an atheist, though. Lack of proof does not equate to faith. Common examples at this point are things like invisible fairies (etc). An invisible fairy is a ridiculous idea - no proof for them, no reason to believe in them, but a "strong agnostic" would have to concede that their existence is, at least, slightly possible. Atheists simply pfft the idea and will happily buy a round of beers if they're ever proven wrong.

No, lack of proof is not the same as faith that the proof will never arise. Dawkins considers that a weak argument most commonly employed by theists to further their agenda.
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23 Apr 2013 12:49 #104287 by
Replied by on topic Atheism - Faith there's no god
As an atheist myself I'll add to bard's comments.

I as an atheist do not believe in devine power in the theistic sense because I have no evidence to believe in them. If repeatable, verifiable evidence were to ever come forward I'll be happy to re-evaluate that stance, but this is not an act of faith even then.

In order for Atheism to be an act of faith one has to make the conjecture that "there is likely a god" and there be some evidence for that conjecture. Social constructs and tradition aren't sufficient evidence of this. The argument of the world being "too perfect" for their not to be a creator isn't either, as beings that evolved in this world we are, of course, going to be highly adapted to it.

Perhaps you could say there is faith involved in those atheists who say, "I KNOW there is no god" but most of us just say "I have no evidence for a god, therefore I do not believe it exists". However, the notion of knowing there is no god is based on the argument that if the only way to "prove" god exists is through an argument that sounds identical to one to prove the existence of faeries or goblins or the easter bunny, then it is likewise a creation of the imagination. Active proof that a god does not exist is impossible because the arguments for a god are circular and the target shifts constantly to adapt to changing information.
Could we prove that one particular instance of a god with set parameters didn't exist? Certainly, but most theists have taken a key from science and they adapt their views to new information. This doesn't make it scientific as these views always shift in a way to maintain their faith regardless of contrary evidence. Whereas science expects us to change our perspective based on the observed evidence regardless of what that means about what we believed prior.

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23 Apr 2013 12:54 #104288 by
Replied by on topic Atheism - Faith there's no god
Sorry... my last post is bugging me. I'm not aiming any vitriol at you, Whyte. I keep re-reading it and stressing.

I guess what I intended with my argument was... well, try this: replace each instance of the word God in your original post with Santa or the Tooth Fairy.

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23 Apr 2013 13:15 #104289 by Wescli Wardest
So, what is the definition of agnosticism? Some imagine that agnosticism is an alternative to atheism, but those people have typically bought into the mistaken notion of the single, narrow definition of atheism. Strictly speaking, agnosticism is about knowledge, and knowledge is a related but separate issue from belief, the domain of theism and atheism.

”A” means “without” and “gnosis” means “knowledge.” Hence, agnostic: without knowledge, but specifically without knowledge of gods.

Despite such possible usages, it remains the case that the term agnosticism is used fairly exclusively with respect to a single issue: do any gods exist or not? Those who disclaim any such knowledge or even that any such knowledge is possible are properly labeled agnostics. Everyone who claims that such knowledge is possible or that they have such knowledge might be called “gnostics.”
Here “gnostics” is not referring to the religious system known as Gnosticism, but rather the sort of person who claims to have knowledge about the existence of gods. Because such confusion may come easily and because there is generally little call for such a label, it is unlikely that you will ever see it used; it is only presented here as a contrast to help explain agnosticism.

Atheism is a complex term to define, and many definitions fail to capture the range of positions an atheist can hold. Perhaps the most obvious meaning to many people now is the absence or rejection of a belief in a God, or gods. However, it has been used through much of history to denote certain beliefs seen as heretical, particularly the belief that God does not intervene in the world. More recently, atheists have argued that atheism only denotes a lack of theistic belief, rather than the active denial or claims of certainty it is often associated with. This is held to follow from its etymology: it stems from the Greek adjective atheos, deriving from the alpha privative a -,'without, not', and 'theos', 'God'. It is not clear, however, that this could not equally mean 'godless' in the earlier sense as meaning a heretical or immoral person.

The exact meaning of 'atheist' varies between thinkers, and caution must always be shown to make sure that discussions of atheism are not working at cross purposes. A leading atheist philosopher defines atheism entirely in terms of belief.

“For him, negative atheism is simply the lack of theistic belief, positive atheism is the asserted disbelief in God, and agnosticism is the lack of either belief or disbelief in God. This suggests that negative atheism, the minimal position that all atheists share, divides neatly into agnosticism and positive atheism. It is worth noting that the 'positive atheist' need not have certainty that God doesn't exist: it is a matter of belief, not knowledge.”
-Michael Martin


Monastic Order of Knights
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23 Apr 2013 14:04 #104294 by Gisteron
My take on it is this:

Theism is the conviction that there is a god. Atheism is a non-conviction that there is a god. The problem with many theists trying to challenge atheists lies with that an intellectual atheist (that is someone, who actually knows why he does not believe) would argue that he does not assert the absense of a god and therefore has no burden of proof while a theist usually does - and many theists think that atheism is a claim of god's non-existence rather than of non-belief.

Nosticism and agnosticism are subsets of theism and atheism and vice versa and are not mutually exclusive. You can claim to know that there is a god and that there is not a god and be a nostic in either way. Similarly you can claim that you believe that there is a god or that you do not believe that there is a god and as long as you do not claim knowledge you are an agnostic regardless if you are a theist or an atheist.

Now, there are many self-proclaimed agnostics and atheists that are confusing the terms and seeding the confusion in others and at the end of the day the definitions do not matter since in every case you have the power to explain what you do or do not believe, claim or do not claim to know, and - in the most productive cases - even why.

Oh and yes, if you happen to run across an atheist who is that ignorant of the reasoning behind non-believe, that he actually claims knowledge that there is no god, you sure should challenge him to justify his position. For it is when challenged, that a position gets ground and defines itself and it is through realization of faulty logic, that it can better itself. Of course, that conversation is only good for as long as the person considers what you say and usually when you start preaching rather than having an intellectual discussion on the topic, it stops getting any further - but then again, there are those who call themselves atheists who do the same, unfortunately thus damaging the reputation of the label.

Better to leave questions unanswered than answers unquestioned

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23 Apr 2013 15:10 #104298 by ren
Replied by ren on topic Atheism - Faith there's no god

Whyte Horse wrote:

ren wrote: I don't think a Jediist would be likely to fall in the agnostic category because while there is lack of belief in one or more deity, the highest power is the Force... therefore any god from the other religions are not really gods in the commonly understood theistic sense... And if no gods can ever really be gods, you can't claim that it is possible for gods (the usual theistic kind) to exist.

Well I consider myself agnostic, formerly an atheist. I make this distinction because so many people believe in deities... it doesn't make them right but it doesn't make them wrong. So my position is that we can't really know whether or not there is a god so it's pointless to debate or even take a side like theism or atheism.


I understand that, i can't be bothered with argumenting it either, because it's frankly lost in advance, for all sides...

However, wouldn't you agree that when you state you're agnostic, what you're saying is that there may be a god, and there may not be a god, and knowing for sure is impossible? If so, can you truly say you believe the Force to be the highest power there is? When you say that maybe the highest power is a god (you don't know), what you imply is that the Force isn't.

Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

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23 Apr 2013 15:12 #104299 by ren
Replied by ren on topic Atheism - Faith there's no god

More recently, atheists have argued that atheism only denotes a lack of theistic belief, rather than the active denial or claims of certainty it is often associated with. It's uh, not really "recent" though :P


Convictions are more dangerous foes of truth than lies.

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