I've heard a bunch of quite well-known scientists and other famous people (e.g. Niel deGrasse Tyson, Bill Nye) who have claimed that scientists, to be true to themselves, "must" be agnostic, not atheist. Their defense of this is that since there is no evidence, a decision can't be made one way or the other on the existence of any mythical beings.

Isn't this kind of claim not entirely valid, though? Does there have to be positive evidence either supporting or contradicting something to make a claim about it, or can a staggering (significant...) lack of any evidence -- when evidence would essentially be expected -- defend a similar claim from a negative aspect as well?

It seems to me that saying "there is no specific evidence, therefore: agnostic" is being dishonest to oneself. This brings up arguments like Bertrand's Teapot, IPU, FSM, or even a "square circle". While there isn't any universe-encompassing body of evidence that rules such things out, the complete lack of any evidence of any sort is really just a different kind of evidence, isn't it?

Do you have any unique perspectives, particular experiences, or tidbits to offer to help solve this fluke of reasoning?

Tags: agnostic, atheist, bill, degrasse, niel, nye, science, tyson

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Welcome, GotW.

I think your example is in a different category. It would maybe be arrogant for us to claim that humans will never be able to colonize space or something. I think atheists in general are very open to the idea that we will discover new laws of physics and develop new technologies that don't seem possible today. God, on the other hand, is an intelligent being who supposedly exists right now and always has existed, but has left zero evidence. I think it's different.

Your point is open to the criticism that you must therefore be agnostic toward any ridiculous idea that pops into anyone's head. Technically, it's true we can't disprove invisible dragons in my garage, but by all reasonable measures it would be stupid to consider oneself agnostic about them.

Well, as a matter of fact, man can't fly, it uses machines that fly, also, there is evidence that things can fly, we've got birds, insects...

But we've never got anything to compare to a god, we've never seen one, we can't measure one, we can't study it... All that you can find about a god is faith and claims of revelation, which aren't trust worthy sources of knowledge...

So you can't compare man flying with gods, get what i'm saying?

I have confusion on this issue but I decided it is only because their is confusion on what the world atheist actually means. Different dictionaries say different things. So what are we to do?

Until I came to the USA I had not identified with the 'atheist' label.  In the UK, if asked, you'd be likely to say, "Oh, I'm not (really) religious".  That seems to be the non-confrontational language most widely used there to describe a disinterest in religion.  It doesn't specifically define whether you are a deist or an atheist, but then again in the UK, hardly anyone cares.  Labels are evidently less relevant there.

Apparently, this habit of labeling is an American (continent) thing. In Canada, people will often ask "Where are you from?" if they're not sure about your ethnicity or origin. Not directly in an accusatory way, just curious -- but still for applying the correct label. It's the U.S. that has taken the skill of negative labels to a whole new level, especially with things like "atheist" since religion is the "foundation of our nation" (not...).

I think it comes down to your own personality.

Are you aggressive and confrontational or live and let live?

Do you allow yourself to be divided ,drawn into conflict and draw a line in the sand or do you seek the path of peace?

Do we have to defeat the other or do we reach an understanding?

@M.M.  I don't think it's so much the individual's personality, but more the immediate society's preference.  If the majority is 'live and let live' orientated, then that will affect the individuals' attitudes significantly.

(You lost me on the "defeat" thing...)

By defeat I mean when one person feels the need to convince the other that they are wrong.

As opposed to letting the other find out in their own good time. If they ever do. It is on them.

Like I disagree with you regarding society's preference, but what does it matter? I might be right, you might be right, or we might both be one or the other. For me it just doesnt matter. I can respect your point of view even if I disagree with it and without trying to batter you with arguments. We will both one day get to where we want to be regarding our self respect and character or we wont.

But then again I didnt join this site for the debate aspect, rather more for the social.

I have a friend, who loves to argue politics, who lost another friend because of arguing politics. At the time she was despondent about losing this friend, who she'd known for many years, and said to me, "politics is nothing to lose a friend over". Is .000009% really that important?

I was brought up Catholic. Also observed my step mother practicing Caribbean voodoo on Sunday mornings as I returned, by myself, from church. Nothing to lose a family over, right?

I'm from the school of Live and Let Live. If you want to believe in Spaghetti monsters then more power to you. As long as you allow me to not believe in Spaghetti monsters I'm cool we can still be friends or I'll still call you dad or mom cause I can't divorce you. Not that I'd want to.

Walking through the subway station one day there's a gentlemen speaking loudly about Christ and how we all can be saved and we need to believe and he gently grabbed my arm and said, "do you accept Him into your heart?". I said to him,"I'm an Athiest". His entire demeanor changed and he let lose a, "you're going to hell". As I walked away he composed himself and said, "no son God loves you, let him into your heart". My point? Live and Let Live.

It's just a label as far as I'm concerned. Agnostics, Atheist who gives a rats ass? Both of us don't go to church or temple or mosque we don't carry a rosary or wear uniforms to denote our religiosity. Who cares? Tolerance? Perhaps we should be talking about tolerance.

M.M. thank you for all the tolerance.

"there's a gentlemen".... he let lose a, "you're going to hell"

a gentleman, really?...

LOL...

There's that Tolerance again, rearing it's ugly tolerant head...

Yeah, I would have let loose a "hey you asshole!" but he composed himself and was apologetic. So yeah, gentlemen...

Only here to begin with to make like minded friends.

I would prefer to connect with others by what "They are for" as opposed to what "They are against."

That is just my personal preference and not an attack on those who dont share the same point of view.

Life is too short to engage in anything that you do not truly enjoy and can avoid.

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