Weekly Poll: What is Your Position on Agnosticism & Atheism?

Apr 14, 2011 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: About.com

When it comes to atheism, theism, and agnosticism, there are four general positions: agnostic atheism , strong atheism , agnostic theism , and strong theism .

Comments
41 - 60 of 74 Comments Last updated Jun 12, 2012
Big Al

Abingdon, IL

#41 May 26, 2012
Hedonist wrote:
<quoted text>
Since you have decided you are the authority for everyone else, exactly where does the "ignostic" fit in your little world?
I’m not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that I consider myself “the authority for everyone else” by simply expressing my opinion about the difference between agnostics and atheists but you pose an interesting question.

Certainly if you consider the word god meaningless the question “does god exist” is also meaningless. However, once you attach a meaning to the word god, regardless of how abstract, I think the question is legitimate.

“Since the word ‘God’ has many different meanings, it is possible for the sentence ‘God exists’ to express many different propositions. What we need to do is to focus on each proposition separately.… For each different sense of the term ‘God,’ there will be theists, atheists, and agnostics relative to that concept of God.”- Theodore Drange

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#42 May 26, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
I’m not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that I consider myself “the authority for everyone else” by simply expressing my opinion about the difference between agnostics and atheists but you pose an interesting question.
Certainly if you consider the word god meaningless the question “does god exist” is also meaningless. However, once you attach a meaning to the word god, regardless of how abstract, I think the question is legitimate.
“Since the word ‘God’ has many different meanings, it is possible for the sentence ‘God exists’ to express many different propositions. What we need to do is to focus on each proposition separately.… For each different sense of the term ‘God,’ there will be theists, atheists, and agnostics relative to that concept of God.”- Theodore Drange
So then you would be an atheist when considering Thor or Zeus or the thousand of other ancient gods. How about Shiva or Vishnu? How about Allah or Elohim or Jehovah? Baal? Isn't it amazing how quickly we can dismiss all the other gods but have a favorite that just happens to also hate the same people we do?

Seriously though .... I have yet to hear of a description of the properties of an entity that could be labeled a "god" and that could possibly exist. If and when such a set of properties are presented, I'll consider it. Until then, the question itself is absurd.

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#43 May 26, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
I’m not sure how you arrived at the conclusion that I consider myself “the authority for everyone else” by simply expressing my opinion about the difference between agnostics and atheists but you pose an interesting question....
And to address this comment separately. I arrived at that conclusion because you claimed to speak for atheists, of which I am one, and you were totally off the mark. So apparently you felt you could speak for atheists without asking actual atheists.
Big Al

Abingdon, IL

#44 May 27, 2012
Hedonist wrote:
<quoted text>
And to address this comment separately. I arrived at that conclusion because you claimed to speak for atheists, of which I am one, and you were totally off the mark. So apparently you felt you could speak for atheists without asking actual atheists.
As an agnostic I certainly didn’t intend to speak for all atheists I am only using the generally accepted concept of atheism that they don’t believe in the existence of a god because of the lack of evidence. I fully realize that there are differences among atheists
Big Al

Abingdon, IL

#45 May 27, 2012
Hedonist wrote:
<quoted text>
So then you would be an atheist when considering Thor or Zeus or the thousand of other ancient gods. How about Shiva or Vishnu? How about Allah or Elohim or Jehovah? Baal? Isn't it amazing how quickly we can dismiss all the other gods but have a favorite that just happens to also hate the same people we do?
Seriously though .... I have yet to hear of a description of the properties of an entity that could be labeled a "god" and that could possibly exist. If and when such a set of properties are presented, I'll consider it. Until then, the question itself is absurd.
As I wrote in my post I think most agnostics (I don’t intend to speak for all agnostics) including me have arrived at the conclusion that an anthropomorphic god (Zeus, Thor, etc) does not exist. Most Christians, Muslims and Jews believe in a god with human characteristics and emotions (anger, jealousy, compassion), an anthropomorphic god.

Desists, however, believe in an impersonal god, simply a creative force. As Thomas Paine put it:

"The only idea man can affix to the name of God is that of a first cause, the cause of all things.”

I accept the possibility of the existence of such a god or creative force, but only the possibility. As Stephen Hawking put it:

"So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would neither be created nor destroyed it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?" -Stephen Hawking, English scientist

“There's a feeling I get...”

Since: Jun 11

...when I look to the West

#46 May 28, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
As an agnostic I certainly didn’t intend to speak for all atheists I am only using the generally accepted concept of atheism that they don’t believe in the existence of a god because of the lack of evidence. I fully realize that there are differences among atheists
Yo.

Zeus rocks man.

Since: Jun 07

Location hidden

#47 Jun 2, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
As I wrote in my post I think most agnostics (I don’t intend to speak for all agnostics) including me have arrived at the conclusion that an anthropomorphic god (Zeus, Thor, etc) does not exist. Most Christians, Muslims and Jews believe in a god with human characteristics and emotions (anger, jealousy, compassion), an anthropomorphic god.
Desists, however, believe in an impersonal god, simply a creative force. As Thomas Paine put it:
"The only idea man can affix to the name of God is that of a first cause, the cause of all things.”
I accept the possibility of the existence of such a god or creative force, but only the possibility. As Stephen Hawking put it:
"So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would neither be created nor destroyed it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?" -Stephen Hawking, English scientist
There's no possibility. It all comes down to the definition of real.

If a possible god is deemed to be real, then it has physical characteristics that pin it down to our shared reality.

Since there's no evidence of this physical "footprint / evidence" & there's lot of proof against the physical characteristic being real or measurable, the conclusion is that there's no such thing as god.

Many many many many many people don't understand this and still assume that god "could" exist.

Such is the sad shortcoming of humankind's average mind.

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#48 Jun 2, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
...Desists, however, believe in an impersonal god, simply a creative force. As Thomas Paine put it:
"The only idea man can affix to the name of God is that of a first cause, the cause of all things.”
I accept the possibility of the existence of such a god or creative force, but only the possibility. As Stephen Hawking put it:
"So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would neither be created nor destroyed it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?" -Stephen Hawking, English scientist
First off, you convoluted the word "god" to mean something outside the normally accepted definition when you drop the idea of a "being" and instead use "creative force". That's just a marketing ploy pure and simple.

Then you quote mined Dr. Hawking to misrepresent his position --

"The quantum theory of gravity has opened up a new possibility, in which there would be no boundary to space-time and so there would be no need to specify the behavior at the boundary. There would be no singularities at which the laws of science broke down and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time. One could say:'The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary.' The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE." [Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time (New York: Bantam, 1988), p. 136.]

"What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary." [Stephen W. Hawking, Der Spiegel, 1989]

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#49 Jun 2, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
...
Desists, however, believe in an impersonal god, simply a creative force. As Thomas Paine put it:
"The only idea man can affix to the name of God is that of a first cause, the cause of all things.”
....
But let's back up to this cosmological argument for god. This is a classic argument probably best described by Thomas Aquinas. But it is still logically flawed.

The cosmological argument requires that reality can be divided into two sets: items that begin to exist, and those that do not.

In order for this cosmological argument to work, the set of things that have no beginning (if such a set is meaningful) cannot be empty, but more important, it must accommodate more than one item to avoid being simply a synonym for God.

If God is the only object allowed in this set, then "things that don't have a beginning" is merely a mask for the Creator, and the premise "everything that begins to exist has a cause" is equivalent to "everything except God has a cause."

As with the earlier failures, this puts God into the definition of the premise of the argument that is supposed to prove God's existence, and we are back to begging the question.
Big Al

Abingdon, IL

#50 Jun 2, 2012
-Skeptic- wrote:
<quoted text>
There's no possibility. It all comes down to the definition of real.
If a possible god is deemed to be real, then it has physical characteristics that pin it down to our shared reality.
Since there's no evidence of this physical "footprint / evidence" & there's lot of proof against the physical characteristic being real or measurable, the conclusion is that there's no such thing as god.
Many many many many many people don't understand this and still assume that god "could" exist.
Such is the sad shortcoming of humankind's average mind.
You underestimate the nature of reality, and overestimate the state of human knowledge. For thousands of years human beings had no idea of the existence of germs and other microscopic organisms, not to mention quarks, mu-mesons and black holes.

I agree that there is no “proof” of a god of any type but that does not eliminate the possibility that one exists. There is no “proof” that any type of extraterrestrial life exists but the Drake equation would suggest that it is almost mathematically impossible for extraterrestrial life not to exist.

"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being." — Albert Einstein
Big Al

Abingdon, IL

#51 Jun 2, 2012
Hedonist wrote:
<quoted text>
But let's back up to this cosmological argument for god. This is a classic argument probably best described by Thomas Aquinas. But it is still logically flawed.
The cosmological argument requires that reality can be divided into two sets: items that begin to exist, and those that do not.
In order for this cosmological argument to work, the set of things that have no beginning (if such a set is meaningful) cannot be empty, but more important, it must accommodate more than one item to avoid being simply a synonym for God.
If God is the only object allowed in this set, then "things that don't have a beginning" is merely a mask for the Creator, and the premise "everything that begins to exist has a cause" is equivalent to "everything except God has a cause."
As with the earlier failures, this puts God into the definition of the premise of the argument that is supposed to prove God's existence, and we are back to begging the question.
I agree the argument is similar to “which came first the chicken or the egg”. It is entirely possible that the universe had no beginning which makes the existence of a first cause absolutely unnecessary. However, it is just as possible that the universe did have a beginning leaving the possibility of a creative force open, which is exactly what Hawking is saying.

Your quote:
"What I have done is to show that it is possible for the way the universe began to be determined by the laws of science. In that case, it would not be necessary to appeal to God to decide how the universe began. This doesn't prove that there is no God, only that God is not necessary." [Stephen W. Hawking, Der Spiegel, 1989]

With the present state of human knowledge there remain two possibilities not just one.

Since: Jun 07

Location hidden

#52 Jun 2, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
You underestimate the nature of reality
Proove it. It's that simple. If you think there's something magical out there, its down to you to prove it. Until then, there's nothing out there.
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
, and overestimate the state of human knowledge. For thousands of years human beings had no idea of the existence of germs and other microscopic organisms, not to mention quarks, mu-mesons and black holes.
Point is they do now. During that time of continuous scientific discovery no evidence for any god or gods.
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
I agree that there is no “proof” of a god of any type but that does not eliminate the possibility that one exists.
Wrong. As soon as you define WHAT it is you claim exists and HOW it is related to the REAL WORLD. You fail.

You see, there is no god, its a logical impossibility AND there is no physical evidence, which is the nail in the coffin for the concept being true.
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
There is no “proof” that any type of extraterrestrial life exists but the Drake equation would suggest that it is almost mathematically impossible for extraterrestrial life not to exist.
Define life, define mathematically impossible.

We are talking about the real world here. In the real world, there is no such thing as god. Fact.
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
"I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being." — Albert Einstein
Doesn't matter a shred what Einstein thinks. You have made an "argument from perceived authority".

Firstly, Einstein was atheist: "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.[8]"

Secondly, His account doesn't prove the possibility that god can exist.

Since: Jun 07

Location hidden

#53 Jun 2, 2012
Try harder agnostics! You're close. Just think some more about it.

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#54 Jun 2, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
I agree the argument is similar to “which came first the chicken or the egg”. It is entirely possible that the universe had no beginning which makes the existence of a first cause absolutely unnecessary. However, it is just as possible that the universe did have a beginning leaving the possibility of a creative force open, which is exactly what Hawking is saying.
...
No, it is not a "chicken and egg" question. You miss the point.

The argument that there must have been a "first cause" is in and of itself a fallacious argument because it is premised on the very idea that "god exist". You CANNOT argue the existence of a god as the first cause and rely on a premise that begins with "god exist."

That's circular reasoning, aka the fallacy of begging the question.

.

Chicken and egg would be that even if the universe began to exist, it is still absurd to argue that it had a "creator" because you then have to show what caused the creator, and then what caused that creator, etc.

This fallacy is also known as "turtles all the way down."

.

In both arguments if you don't first stipulate that there exist something that "does not need to be created" (aka "god") then you argument is flawed. So you end up saying "god is the first cause because god exist, therefore god exist." That's absurd.
Big Al

Abingdon, IL

#55 Jun 2, 2012
-Skeptic- wrote:
<quoted text>
Proove it. It's that simple. If you think there's something magical out there, its down to you to prove it. Until then, there's nothing out there.
<quoted text>
Point is they do now. During that time of continuous scientific discovery no evidence for any god or gods.
<quoted text>
Wrong. As soon as you define WHAT it is you claim exists and HOW it is related to the REAL WORLD. You fail.
You see, there is no god, its a logical impossibility AND there is no physical evidence, which is the nail in the coffin for the concept being true.
<quoted text>
Define life, define mathematically impossible.
We are talking about the real world here. In the real world, there is no such thing as god. Fact.
<quoted text>
Doesn't matter a shred what Einstein thinks. You have made an "argument from perceived authority".
Firstly, Einstein was atheist: "It was, of course, a lie what you read about my religious convictions, a lie which is being systematically repeated. I do not believe in a personal God and I have never denied this but have expressed it clearly. If something is in me which can be called religious then it is the unbounded admiration for the structure of the world so far as our science can reveal it.[8]"
Secondly, His account doesn't prove the possibility that god can exist.
I simply argue that neither you nor any other human being has sufficient knowledge to declare that there absolutely is no god or creative force. That declaration may or may not be correct.

"You may call me an agnostic... I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being." - Albert Einstein
Big Al

Abingdon, IL

#56 Jun 2, 2012
Hedonist wrote:
<quoted text>
No, it is not a "chicken and egg" question. You miss the point.
The argument that there must have been a "first cause" is in and of itself a fallacious argument because it is premised on the very idea that "god exist". You CANNOT argue the existence of a god as the first cause and rely on a premise that begins with "god exist."
That's circular reasoning, aka the fallacy of begging the question.
.
Chicken and egg would be that even if the universe began to exist, it is still absurd to argue that it had a "creator" because you then have to show what caused the creator, and then what caused that creator, etc.
This fallacy is also known as "turtles all the way down."
.
In both arguments if you don't first stipulate that there exist something that "does not need to be created" (aka "god") then you argument is flawed. So you end up saying "god is the first cause because god exist, therefore god exist." That's absurd.
I think you miss the point.

If you can believe that the universe itself simply exists without a cause, then it’s also possible to believe the universe was created by a force which simply existed without a cause. It all depends on whether or not the universe had a beginning. Something we don’t know yet.

What is it about the sentence in the Stephen Hawking quote that you provided (“This doesn't prove that there is no God.”) that you don’t understand?

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#57 Jun 2, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
I simply argue that neither you nor any other human being has sufficient knowledge to declare that there absolutely is no god or creative force. That declaration may or may not be correct.
"You may call me an agnostic... I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being." - Albert Einstein
“I am an atheist, out and out. It took me a long time to say it.

"I've been an atheist for years and years, but somehow I felt it was intellectually unrespectable to say one was an atheist, because it assumed knowledge that one didn't have. Somehow, it was better to say one was a humanist or an agnostic.

"I finally decided that I'm a creature of emotion as well as of reason. Emotionally, I am an atheist.

"I don't have the evidence to prove that God doesn't exist, but I so strongly suspect he doesn't that I don't want to waste my time.”~ Isaac Asimov

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#58 Jun 2, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
I think you miss the point.
If you can believe that the universe itself simply exists without a cause, then it’s also possible to believe the universe was created by a force which simply existed without a cause. It all depends on whether or not the universe had a beginning. Something we don’t know yet....
Occam's Razor
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>...What is it about the sentence in the Stephen Hawking quote that you provided (“This doesn't prove that there is no God.”) that you don’t understand?
I understand it fully. But you took it out of context, and in so doing misrepresented the totality of his thesis.

“ecrasez l'infame”

Since: May 08

Atlanta, Georgia

#59 Jun 2, 2012
Big Al wrote:
<quoted text>
...With the present state of human knowledge there remain two possibilities not just one.
There remains numerous possibilities, not just 2.

But I still see no compelling reason to invoke a magical deity explanation. Saying an "uncaused cause" created the universe is a statement without foundation. It is meaningless.

However, if by 'creative force' you means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a 'force'. But it makes no sense to worship or in any way pray to the law of gravity. It also makes no sense to hang some esoteric label on it.
Big Al

Abingdon, IL

#60 Jun 3, 2012
Hedonist wrote:
<quoted text>
There remains numerous possibilities, not just 2.
But I still see no compelling reason to invoke a magical deity explanation. Saying an "uncaused cause" created the universe is a statement without foundation. It is meaningless.
However, if by 'creative force' you means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a 'force'. But it makes no sense to worship or in any way pray to the law of gravity. It also makes no sense to hang some esoteric label on it.
I don’t invoke a magical deity explanation. I simply accept the possibility the universe came to exist by means of some type of (to us) incomprehensible creative force. I think that if you read Stephen Hawking with an open mind you will see that he also does not exclude that possibility.

"An even greater fallacy in thinking occurs when people simply rely on what they feel.…Emotion-based beliefs make us feel good; they are particularly difficult to challenge and change because changing them hurts." - Ronald E. Riggio, Ph.D., Professor of Organizational Psychology

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