This is some thing I wish more people would realize.

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Comment by Strega on January 25, 2013 at 9:18pm

@ Unseen - I deliberately gave the affirmation of a belief in gods using a double negative to present how I felt about your insistence that every belief can be equally demonstrated by a reverse non belief.  Do you really think that my grammar and comprehension are so flawed that I would accidentally affirm a religious inclination?  This one isn't a "devil's advocate" situation, Unseen, this is just negation and gainsaying.  I'd much rather argue with you on something more substantial than semantic distortion.

Comment by Unseen on January 25, 2013 at 10:29pm

Well, Strega, your post didn't come with a footnote. I didn't take the sentence as an expression of your belief but rather as an example of some sort.

Anyway, I've always wondered why something as crucial to understanding as semantics is so frequently used pejoratively.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on January 26, 2013 at 1:15pm

I'm not sure why so many atheists are insistent on this. The logic escapes me. Not believing God exists is a belief. Can one reach a conclusion and not believe it? The one seems to follow the other.

I'm puzzled you misunderstood me so drastically.

I didn't misunderstand you. I falsified your statement that not believing God exists is a belief. A conclusion of disbelief does not equate to a lack of belief where one has drawn no conclusions. They both involve 'not believing God exists' but they are not both beliefs.

Anyway, I've always wondered why something as crucial to understanding as semantics is so frequently used pejoratively.

Strega wasn't referring pejoratively to semantics. She was referring (quite eloquently) to the distastefulness of semantic distortion, negation, and gainsaying. I would add 'resistance' to that list.

I appreciate that you play devil's advocate to stimulate a thorough discussion. But once you've uncovered a deeper understanding via that process why do you so often refuse to learn from it? Why not just say, hm I never thought of that, and save the trip to the argument clinic?

Comment by Unseen on January 26, 2013 at 9:43pm

I'm not sure why so many atheists are insistent on this. The logic escapes me. Not believing God exists is a belief. Can one reach a conclusion and not believe it? The one seems to follow the other.

I'm puzzled you misunderstood me so drastically.

I didn't misunderstand you. I falsified your statement that not believing God exists is a belief. A conclusion of disbelief does not equate to a lack of belief where one has drawn no conclusions. They both involve 'not believing God exists' but they are not both beliefs.

So you say you're noted for having a talent for clarity? Maybe if I have some time tomorrow afternoon I'll call a couple friends around maybe we can parse that paragraph. If you can't write something that could be understood by the stranger next to you at the bar, you're not that talented at clarity. Einstein was able to make his bizarre concepts understandable, if not believable. That should be a standard for all writing, though I grant higher academics tends to reward bloated and padded writing.

As I said, every disbelief can grammatically be reformed to be a semantically equivalent belief. If I say I have concluded that my glasses are nowhere to be found, that doesn't result in a belief? Surely I must believe that I've lost my glasses. Likewise, if I've concluded (as I have) that God doesn't exist, it results in a belief that God doesn't exist. Simple as that. It's not an unfounded belief like religious belief, for it's based not on scripture but on an investigation, but a belief it is, nevertheless.

Every conclusion drawn results in a belief, or why bother?

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on January 26, 2013 at 11:46pm

Maybe if I have some time tomorrow afternoon I'll call a couple friends around maybe we can parse that paragraph.

Right. Just dial 1-800-HOOKERS and let the parsing begin.

You sincerely don't understand how lack of belief differs from disbelief? You with the self-professed advanced degree in philosophy? Really?

I don't buy it, Unseen.

Every conclusion drawn results in a belief, or why bother?

One may lack belief without drawing a conclusion. Look at the preceding transcript and you'll see numerous examples which demonstrate this is true.

It's not bizarre. It's not difficult to understand. It's just you, pretending to be obtuse and protesting my writing style, because you're too proud to admit you learned something.

Comment by Unseen on January 28, 2013 at 9:37am

You sincerely don't understand how lack of belief differs from disbelief? You with the self-professed advanced degree in philosophy? Really?

I don't buy it, Unseen.

Sure I understand it.

Lack of belief is a wishy-washy position that doesn't qualify as atheism. Atheism is either an affirmative belief that there is no God or a disbelief based on the evidence, which means a belief that the evidence for God is simply not there. There's no such thing as a conclusion being drawn that doesn't result in a belief of some sort.

Every conclusion drawn results in a belief, or why bother?

One may lack belief without drawing a conclusion. Look at the preceding transcript and you'll see numerous examples which demonstrate this is true.

People who lack belief are people who can't claim to be atheists. They simply are on the road to drawing a conclusion, and when they do they'll believe God exists or they'll believe he doesn't.

It's not bizarre. It's not difficult to understand. It's just you, pretending to be obtuse and protesting my writing style, because you're too proud to admit you learned something.

If I'd "learned something" I would have changed my mind.

Comment by Unseen on January 28, 2013 at 12:27pm

(A)s a simple statement we can say that we believe there is no god but then it gives a religious person the argumentative space to create a false equivalency argument.

As long as we point out that the difference between us is between a belief with some basis (ours, even if our belief is based on the lack of evidence, which also results in a belief) and a baseless leap of faith, we've refuted their argument. This is better than insisting on a position which is both counterintuitive, confusing, and false that believing in no god(s) is a position one maintains but does not believe. That's no way to win an argument.

We will always feel like we lose the argument with people that don't, won't or can't use words in honest ways even though we are correct and they are not. I avoid the word just to give believers one less word trickery/word play option. I also will just make positive belief claims such as I usually trust in humans and science etc.

It's got to be more effective to actually make them aware that there are grounded beliefs and baseless beliefs. But seriously, if someone has abandoned facts and logic from the get go, there's little hope of changing their minds anyway.

I doubt most conversions to atheism happen as the result of an argumentative dialog. Those who become atheists will arrive at the conclusion on their own (as many of us have) without being pushed in that direction. I doubt if many of us here would claim to have switched to atheism because someone beat them in an argument.

There is the unfortunate stereotype that atheists just believe in negatives and not positives. I like focusing on positive statements since it is a better way to persuade someone else than focusing on the negation of ideas or concepts.

As long as you stress that our beliefs are not faith-held, but are the result of giving facts (or the absence of facts) due consideration, we'll be okay. We're not going to convert people who eschew logic anyway. In that regard, it may even be pointless to argue with them.

If I'm speaking with a fellow atheist I can just use words how they are meant in the dictionary sense because they will hopefully and most likely not be a jerk that has an ulterior motive (or honestly believed in simulacrum) to use words dishonestly.

Hence why I said earlier, that I avoid using the word belief with "believers" but have no problem using it with people of reason. These are just my thoughts on this matter. Take care.

Denying that we atheists believe God doesn't exist is so counterintuitive and ridiculous (look at the sophistry required to support it) that they probably take it as a confirmation that we can only maintain our view by logically standing on our heads.

Comment by Gallup's Mirror on January 28, 2013 at 12:40pm

Lack of belief is a wishy-washy position that doesn't qualify as atheism.

Atheism means one doesn't believe in God. Lack of belief in God means one doesn't believe in God. So lack of belief in God is atheism.

A = B and B = C thus A = C.

But according to you, A ≠ C because that would just be wishy-washy.

MA in Philosophy, huh?

Atheism is either an affirmative belief that there is no God or a disbelief based on the evidence, which means a belief that the evidence for God is simply not there.

If you're going to make up your own exclusive definition of atheism, why not make it interesting? Atheism is a pepperoni pizza!
Atheism may be either a lack of belief in God or a doctrine of disbelief in God. (Soft atheism and hard atheism.) 
People who lack belief are people who can't claim to be atheists. They simply are on the road to drawing a conclusion, and when they do they'll believe God exists or they'll believe he doesn't.
What if they never draw a conclusion?
Imagine I produce an envelope and tell you there's $1000 inside it. You can believe it, disbelieve it, or reserve judgement until you open the envelope. You may hold any of the three positions, even if the envelope is never opened. If you hold either of the latter two positions then you do not believe there's $1000 in the envelope.   
If I'd "learned something" I would have changed my mind.

You learned something and pridefully refuse to change your mind: wilful ignorance.

Comment by Unseen on February 5, 2013 at 8:27pm

Imagine I produce an envelope and tell you God is inside it. You can believe it, disbelieve it, or reserve judgement until you open the envelope. You may hold any of the three positions, even if the envelope is never opened. If you disbelieve God is in the envelope because you don't believe God is a possible or factual being, you are an atheist by belief. If you reserve judgment, you're basically an agnostic whose mind could conceivably be changed, even if you think it's extremely unlikely the required evidence is possible and can't even imagine what it would be (probably an undeniable miracle).

Setting agnosticism aside and considering atheist, it's still 'incongruous, inaccurate, or dishonest' to both draw a conclusion and then maintain that you don't believe it.

Comment by Strega on February 5, 2013 at 9:08pm

Schrodinger's envelope.  God both exists and does not exist in the envelope... until it's opened :)

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