Definitions of atheism and agnosticism

Definitions of atheism and agnosticism

There are 230 comments on the The Lippard Blog story from Jan 6, 2010, titled Definitions of atheism and agnosticism. In it, The Lippard Blog reports that:

I recently posted this at the Phoenix Atheists Meetup group's discussion forum in a thread titled "atheism v. agnosticism," and thought it might be worth reposting here: There are lots of ways to define these terms, to the extent that you can't be sure how people are using them unless you ask.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at The Lippard Blog.

trollbuster

Knoxville, TN

#203 Feb 8, 2010
DeadlyViperAssassin wrote:
<quoted text>
hmm...i fall under the category of people far too unconcerned with things like this when im simply chatting on a forum. you choose which one i am. i really couldn't care less.
There is a difference between a forum and a chat room. The latter is for light, usually inconsequential banter, but forums combine that with weightier discussion and debate. The chat and banter is fun--we are no less friendly and gregarious than other people--but the ongoing discussions require the use of sound logic and skillful writing.

Compare my posts with, say, those of our Baltic friend. Mine often tackle weightier topics and express more complex ideas, yet they are also more accessible, easier to read. That's the key, really. More complex posts require better writing and, more importantly, skillful editing.

As long as you are chatting, a slapdash style works fine. But when a post runs to a full paragraph or more, more attention to technique is required if anyone is expected to read the whole post.

“World traveler represents...”

Since: Nov 07

Earth

#204 Feb 9, 2010
trollbuster wrote:
<quoted text>
Those of us who took typing classes before the advent of computers were taught the put one space after a comma or semi-colon and two spaces after a period or a colon. This comes from the principle in typesetting that doing so makes text more readable; the double space marks the beginning of a new sentence or the beginning of a list.

Paragraphs are also used more to make text more readable than for any other reason. It makes it easier for readers who like to stop and think about one idea before moving on to the next.

That, actually is the underlying characteristic that separates good writers from hacks: a concern for the reader and a commitment to making their works clear, well organized, and accessible. Good writers write for their readers. Hacks tend to be too self absorbed for that and write only for them selves.

Which category would you rather fall under?
I actually agree 100% with this one. I also learned to type with a manual typewriter, and am over 50.

I tend to ignore misspellings in a forum like this one though. Dealing with them is too much of a distraction.

Since: Jan 10

New York, NY

#205 Feb 9, 2010
trollbuster wrote:
<quoted text>
There is a difference between a forum and a chat room. The latter is for light, usually inconsequential banter, but forums combine that with weightier discussion and debate. The chat and banter is fun--we are no less friendly and gregarious than other people--but the ongoing discussions require the use of sound logic and skillful writing.
Compare my posts with, say, those of our Baltic friend. Mine often tackle weightier topics and express more complex ideas, yet they are also more accessible, easier to read. That's the key, really. More complex posts require better writing and, more importantly, skillful editing.
As long as you are chatting, a slapdash style works fine. But when a post runs to a full paragraph or more, more attention to technique is required if anyone is expected to read the whole post.
You must really care about this lol I have never ever seen anyone on a forum paying so much attention over typing techniques.

We will just have to disagree. Again.
nina

Ottawa, Canada

#206 Feb 9, 2010
trollbuster wrote:
<quoted text>
Those of us who took typing classes before the advent of computers were taught the put one space after a comma or semi-colon and two spaces after a period or a colon. This comes from the principle in typesetting that doing so makes text more readable; the double space marks the beginning of a new sentence or the beginning of a list....?
it's actually because on a typewriter, all letters are given the same width - so you had to put 2 spaces to set off the sentences.

computers make the letters scalable, so i is not the same wide as m

no need to double space anymore
trollbuster

Sevierville, TN

#207 Feb 9, 2010
nina wrote:
<quoted text>
it's actually because on a typewriter, all letters are given the same width - so you had to put 2 spaces to set off the sentences.
computers make the letters scalable, so i is not the same wide as m
no need to double space anymore
And yet most pre-computer typesetting fonts were also scaled and still used double spaces after periods and semicolons--just look at books and newspapers from the middle of the twentieth century for verification. The double spaces may not be considered necessary, but they still make lengthy paragraphs more readable, as does the practice of capitalizing the first word of each sentence, another commonly ignored convention.

Writers who want their scribblings to be read are well advised to make them as accessible as possible.

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

Since: Dec 06

Tulsa, Oklahoma USofA

#208 Feb 9, 2010
trollbuster wrote:
<quoted text>
And yet most pre-computer typesetting fonts were also scaled and still used double spaces after periods and semicolons--just look at books and newspapers from the middle of the twentieth century for verification. The double spaces may not be considered necessary, but they still make lengthy paragraphs more readable, as does the practice of capitalizing the first word of each sentence, another commonly ignored convention.
Writers who want their scribblings to be read are well advised to make them as accessible as possible.
Agreed: a good writer will strive to make his/her words transparent to the reader-- so that the reader can concentrate on the meaning.

Anytime the actual words distract from the message? The writer has failed his/her task, at least to an extent.
nina

Ottawa, Canada

#209 Feb 10, 2010
trollbuster wrote:
<quoted text>
And yet most pre-computer typesetting fonts were also scaled and still used double spaces after periods and semicolons--... as does the practice of capitalizing the first word of each sentence....
newspapers and magazines used lead typeface where the widths of the typeset peices were the same, so the same thing as typewriters

now that they use computers to do the layout, not so much

underlining is also a typewriter thing, since bold meant going over the letter twice

and if you wanted to change the type font, you had to - when IBM selectric typewriters became available, you had to change the ball the letters were on.

as for grammar and capitol letters, I am a lazy forum poster and don't pretend

in my real writing, I use proper formatting
nina

Ottawa, Canada

#210 Feb 10, 2010
Bob of Quantum-Faith wrote:
<quoted text>
...
Anytime the actual words distract from the message? The writer has failed his/her task, at least to an extent.
I find more often than not, it's the reader who is refusing to understand what's written and they focus on the minor issues as a red herring

Since: Jan 10

New York, NY

#211 Feb 10, 2010
nina wrote:
<quoted text>
I find more often than not, it's the reader who is refusing to understand what's written and they focus on the minor issues as a red herring
i completely agree with you on these last two posts you have written! I feel that same way.

I love how this forum has drifted to the subject of typing. too funny.

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

Since: Dec 06

Tulsa, Oklahoma USofA

#212 Feb 10, 2010
nina wrote:
<quoted text>
I find more often than not, it's the reader who is refusing to understand what's written and they focus on the minor issues as a red herring
Well-- that sometimes happens.

However, if the words had no mistakes? The reader would have to nit-pick about something else.

:)
trollbuster

Sevierville, TN

#213 Feb 10, 2010
nina wrote:
<quoted text>
newspapers and magazines used lead typeface where the widths of the typeset peices were the same, so the same thing as typewriters
now that they use computers to do the layout, not so much
underlining is also a typewriter thing, since bold meant going over the letter twice
and if you wanted to change the type font, you had to - when IBM selectric typewriters became available, you had to change the ball the letters were on.
as for grammar and capitol letters, I am a lazy forum poster and don't pretend
in my real writing, I use proper formatting
Ah, but using a lot of blank lines makes you posts so easy to read that none of that matters. Your posts are always very accessible.
trollbuster

Knoxville, TN

#214 Feb 10, 2010
Bob of Quantum-Faith wrote:
<quoted text>
Well-- that sometimes happens.
However, if the words had no mistakes? The reader would have to nit-pick about something else.
:)
That is actually one of the best features of Topix, the way the subject meanders with the whims of the writers here. Sometimes there are several lines of thought running at the same time, and that's fun, too. Often it's a sign that the original topic has been as thoroughly explored as it can be. We go over the same ground so often when new people enter asking the same old questions that discussing almost anything else provides a welcome break.

Some might be interested to know that Heath - 72 has started up a thread on my home forum to promote his Royce City Church of Christ. I can't help but wonder whether he posts because of that. Or maybe he would have started it anyway. I don't write about religion there, so he will be disappointed if he was trying to draw me out. Has anyone else seen signs that this forum is bleeding into their home forums?

Best to all,

Serf

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

Since: Dec 06

Tulsa, Oklahoma USofA

#215 Feb 11, 2010
trollbuster wrote:
Has anyone else seen signs that this forum is bleeding into their home forums?
Best to all,
Serf
I used to comment on Tulsa, OK forums, but mostly they talk about National Enquirer--type stuff.

Booooooring.

:D
nina

Ottawa, Canada

#216 Feb 11, 2010
trollbuster wrote:
<quoted text>
Ah, but using a lot of blank lines makes you posts so easy to read that none of that matters. Your posts are always very accessible.
thank you

I try to focus on the essense, rather than adding words just to make the grammar correct
Big Al

Kelseyville, CA

#217 May 25, 2010
I think that much of the problem has to do with the difference between knowing and believing. In my opinion you can’t believe and know at the same time. If you know something there is no reason to believe it; and the only reason to believe something is if you don’t know. So if a religious person says,“I believe in God”, he is essentially admitting that he does not know there is a God. If he knew there was a God he wouldn’t have to believe it. If a man says,“I don’t believe in God”, all that tells me is that he is not a religious person. He may really be either an agnostic or an atheist. Both the “so called” atheist and the “so called” religious person may be agnostics because they both may claim that they do not know.

“World traveler represents...”

Since: Nov 07

Earth

#218 May 27, 2010
Big Al wrote:
I think that much of the problem has to do with the difference between knowing and believing. In my opinion you can’t believe and know at the same time. If you know something there is no reason to believe it; and the only reason to believe something is if you don’t know. So if a religious person says,“I believe in God”, he is essentially admitting that he does not know there is a God. If he knew there was a God he wouldn’t have to believe it. If a man says,“I don’t believe in God”, all that tells me is that he is not a religious person. He may really be either an agnostic or an atheist. Both the “so called” atheist and the “so called” religious person may be agnostics because they both may claim that they do not know.
Interesting view.

If I understand you correctly, you are saying that someone claiming to believe something is essentially declaring that they 'don't know' that same something. I don't interpret the distinction between belief and knowledge quite that same way, but I guess I see where you are coming from.

In my view, all knowledge is suspect. Remember the line from "Men in Black"?

"Five thousand years ago, we knew the Earth was the center of the Universe. Five hundred years ago, we knew the Earth was flat. And fifteen minutes ago, you knew that humanity was alone on this planet. Just think what you’ll know tomorrow."

I see all "knowledge" (in this case meaning when people say things like "I KNOW such-and-such is true") as simply an extreme case of belief. We - as a species - have an incredible history of being wrong, and I'm amazed sometimes that we don't all just sink into the ground from embarrassment daily. But our egos are such that for the most part we ignore our mistakes and move right on to the next declaration of fact. In general it works for us - but I have to wonder just how much of what we "know" is simply our pride/ego speaking...
CompSci

Chapel Hill, NC

#219 May 27, 2010
Why does it matter what label you get assigned? Geez! I feel the way I feel. I don't believe in organized religion. I am very in awe of science and the Universe. And the sheer vastness and complexity of it all in and of itself is somewhat spiritual to me. I don't KNOW what I believe. I tend to believe there is "something". What that is, I have no idea. I don't know if I'll ever know, even when I die. But I have had a couple incidents that made me take pause. Maybe it was a trick of the brain, I don't care. I do want to believe in something. I think in general that's human nature. But I will not believe in fairy tails. No one will tell me what to think. I will figure that out on my own. I think religion is a crutch. I'm a good person. Not because I fear hell or disapproval. But because I care about people and it makes me feel good to make others happy. I don't give a crud what label that means I'm under. It is an ever evolving state of mind for me. A journey.

“No Bishop,No King,No Nobility”

Since: May 08

The Underworld

#220 May 28, 2010
With the last three posts in mind, I'd like to point out that one of the severe difficulties with these definitions is the varied definitions of belief itself...

See, on the one hand, belief gets used in a black and white sense, where one who says they believe means they are 100% certain.

On the other hand, there is 'belief' by 'reasonable faith'.

What I mean by that is, for example, you believe you're going to get to work safely; you have reasonable faith that nothing will go wrong. However, you {do} know that, well... sh.. happens.

You {know} there's always a chance that things will go wrong, but we can't live our lives worrying about the 1% chance of things going wrong, when more than likely things will be fine.

.

Carrying on... most of the time, in avoidance of the first meaning, atheists such as myself will stand by that they simply do not 'believe' that there is {no} god, because we are not 100% certain. However, I would say that most of us do believe with reasonable faith, that in all likelihood, there is not a god.

So it's exceedingly difficult to define things surrounding belief, because belief itself is such a varied word.

If we could all agree on the reasonable faith definition I could easily say "I believe there's no god", but as it is I would then be confronted by the question "How can you be sure" by those that take belief to be a matter of certainty...
jack13

United States

#221 May 28, 2010
Bob of Quantum-Faith wrote:
<quoted text>
Agreed: a good writer will strive to make his/her words transparent to the reader-- so that the reader can concentrate on the meaning.
Anytime the actual words distract from the message? The writer has failed his/her task, at least to an extent.
A friend who is a writer, told me he uses language that is appropriate for his audience. That makes sense to me, but just how do you know who your audience is? I always assume I'm the least edeucated reader so I try to write so my ideas make sense to me. Often, I fail.

“Quantum Junctn: Use Both Lanes”

Since: Dec 06

Tulsa, Oklahoma USofA

#222 May 28, 2010
jack13 wrote:
<quoted text> A friend who is a writer, told me he uses language that is appropriate for his audience. That makes sense to me, but just how do you know who your audience is? I always assume I'm the least edeucated reader so I try to write so my ideas make sense to me. Often, I fail.
Excellent observation: you cannot possibly know your audience in the vast majority of writing-events.

I think in those cases?

Write for yourself-- that is, write what you write, as if **you** were going to be the audience.

Then,'let the chips fall' as they say.

:)

At the very least, you'll have maintained your integrity that way, and when you proof-read it later, it'll fit your reading style.

:D

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