Atheist vs. Atheist-What?

May 15, 2013 | Posted by: roboblogger | Full story: Psychology Today

Most people would probably assume that an atheist is an atheist, period. After all, individuals who don't believe in God are, at least in their unbelief, essentially the same, right? But there's a subtle-yet crucial-difference in degrees of incredulity that can meaningfully distinguish one's person's atheism from another's. So if there's an atheist ... (more)

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Indogitrust

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May 16, 2013
 

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I place myself in the category of being 99.9% sure there is no god, leaving a small fraction of doubt should credible evidence ever be presented proving the existence of god. I wish I could sit back and live and let live, but the religions of this country and the of the world consistently push their dogma on the rest of us. Unfortunately, until religions cease trying to take over the world, we will need watchdog groups like the ffrf to stem the tide of religious expansion. I enjoyed this article but think the use of ffrf as an example of atheist extremism is inaccurate.

“It's just a box of rain...”

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May 16, 2013
 

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I don't have many issues with this article except that it uses far more many words than are necessary to state the obvious. It also uses the popular but inaccurate definition of "agnostic," creating a false dichotomy between atheism and agnosticism. Many here embrace both, acknowledging that one cannot know for sure whether deities exist, but not believing that they do.

That's subtlety that many theists fail to grasp--the difference between not believing in any gods and actively believing that they don't exist, i.e., between nonbelief and disbelief. Atheism encompasses both. It doesn't take two PhDs to understand that and it shouldn't require 3000 words to explain it.

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May 17, 2013
 

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"the difference between not believing in any gods and actively believing that they don't exist,"

I thought that agnosticism is the view that the existence or non-existence of any deity is unknown and possibly unknowable.

And atheism is the "lack" of believe in a God.

those to me are very different things.

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May 17, 2013
 

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peace n shaax123 wrote:
"the difference between not believing in any gods and actively believing that they don't exist,"
I thought that agnosticism is the view that the existence or non-existence of any deity is unknown and possibly unknowable.
And atheism is the "lack" of believe in a God.
those to me are very different things.
Yes. The two attitudes in the quoted sentence are variations of atheism and have nothing to do with agnosticism.

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May 17, 2013
 

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NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
Yes. The two attitudes in the quoted sentence are variations of atheism and have nothing to do with agnosticism.
Most atheists I know and even famous atheist as well tend to say the opposite of what you are saying. I was told that atheists are really agnostics. so if you don't mind, would you explain your theory?

“Think&Care”

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May 17, 2013
 

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peace n shaax123 wrote:
"the difference between not believing in any gods and actively believing that they don't exist,"
I thought that agnosticism is the view that the existence or non-existence of any deity is unknown and possibly unknowable.
And atheism is the "lack" of believe in a God.
those to me are very different things.
Yes, agnosticism is based on lack of knowledge. Atheism is based on lack of belief.

It is possible to be an agnostic atheist (you don't believe in a deity, but also don't belief knowledge about this issue is possible).

It is possible to be a gnostic atheist (you don't have a belief in a deity, and think that knowledge *is* possible about this issue).

It is possible to be an agnostic theist (you have a belief in a deity, but don't think knowledge is possible about this issue).

It is possible to be a gnostic theist (you have a belief in a deity, and believe is *is* possible to have knowledge about this issue).

Furthermore, there is a difference between strong atheism (you actively believe there is no deity) while being either gnostic or agnostic about this issue.

It is also possible to be a weak atheist (simple lack of belief in a deity) while being agnostic or gnostic about the issue.

Etc.

There are two separate scales: a belief axis and a knowledge axis. These are independent scales.

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#7
May 17, 2013
 

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"There are two separate scales: a belief axis and a knowledge axis. These are independent scales."

I agree with you. This is how I differentiated between the two: Knowledge and believe.

But I also think that believe can fall in to the knowledge category because many atheist argue that "their lack of believe is due to the lack of evidence for God." Actually, I never met an atheist who hasn't explained it that way.

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#8
May 17, 2013
 

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peace n shaax123 wrote:
<quoted text>
Most atheists I know and even famous atheist as well tend to say the opposite of what you are saying. I was told that atheists are really agnostics. so if you don't mind, would you explain your theory?
I didn't think you were that new here. It's been explained many times in this forum.

Atheism and agnosticism result from negative answers to two very different questions and are thus not incompatible with each other. Anyone who answers "No" when asked "Do you believe in deities of any sort?" is an atheist. Anyone who answers "No" when asked "Do you think it's possible to know whether any deities exist?" is an agnostic. A person can be either, both, or neither. Other responses to both questions are, "No," "I haven't decided" "I don't really care," or "Yes." There are probably others I haven't thought of. The theist/agnostic/atheist trichotomy that many base their ideas about classification on and that demographers and statisticians use to keep analysis down to a manageable scale are too simplistic to match reality.

At any rate, within the ranks of atheists--those who answer "No" about belief--there are some who are certain that no deities exist and some who are less certain. The latter are agnostics, yes, but they are also atheists. The former are just atheists or, in some classification systems, gnostic atheists.

On the flip side, some theists are gnostic and some agnostic as well. The latter acknowledge uncertainty, bit choose to believe anyway, while the former are certain, so for them, belief is not really a choice.

In previous posts, I've broken this down in outline form, but I'm sure you get the gist. Most of the nonbelievers who post here are agnostic atheists, at least 6 on the Dawkins scale, but not 7, but there are a few 7s as well.

“It's just a box of rain...”

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#9
May 17, 2013
 

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polymath257 wrote:
<quoted text>
Yes, agnosticism is based on lack of knowledge. Atheism is based on lack of belief.
It is possible to be an agnostic atheist (you don't believe in a deity, but also don't belief knowledge about this issue is possible).
It is possible to be a gnostic atheist (you don't have a belief in a deity, and think that knowledge *is* possible about this issue).
It is possible to be an agnostic theist (you have a belief in a deity, but don't think knowledge is possible about this issue).
It is possible to be a gnostic theist (you have a belief in a deity, and believe is *is* possible to have knowledge about this issue).
Furthermore, there is a difference between strong atheism (you actively believe there is no deity) while being either gnostic or agnostic about this issue.
It is also possible to be a weak atheist (simple lack of belief in a deity) while being agnostic or gnostic about the issue.
Etc.
There are two separate scales: a belief axis and a knowledge axis. These are independent scales.
Ooh, cool. we could make some nifty graphs based on those axes, couldn't we now?
EdSed

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May 18, 2013
 

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peace n shaax123 wrote:
<quoted text>
Most atheists I know and even famous atheist as well tend to say the opposite of what you are saying. I was told that atheists are really agnostics. so if you don't mind, would you explain your theory?
Discussing this sort of nonsense is a waste of time. What agnosticism and atheism means can be left to dictionaries and religionists.

Call me what you like, there's no more reason to believe in god(s) than pixies. Religion/atheism makes about as much sense as witchcraft.

“It's just a box of rain...”

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May 18, 2013
 

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EdSed wrote:
<quoted text>Discussing this sort of nonsense is a waste of time. What agnosticism and atheism means can be left to dictionaries and religionists.
Call me what you like, there's no more reason to believe in god(s) than pixies. Religion/atheism makes about as much sense as witchcraft.
No, it's not a waste of time. We can no more leave defining the word we use to define our religious identity to dictionaries and religionists that Jews could have in Nazi Germany or Muslims could in current day Israel. As recently as in 1987, Websters defined "atheism," among other things, as "wickedness." That same edition defined "wicked" ass "1. morally very bad, EVIL 2 a" FIERCE, VICIOUS (a wicked dog) b: disposed to mischeif : Roguish 3 A: disgustingly unpleasant : VILE (a wicked odor) b: causing or likely to cause harm, distress, or trouble 4: going beyond reasonable or predictable limits : of exceptional quality or degree syn see bad

No we cannot leave defining "atheist" or "atheism" to others if we are ever to be seen as normal members of society.
havent forgotten

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May 18, 2013
 

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NightSerf wrote:
I don't have many issues with this article except that it uses far more many words than are necessary to state the obvious. It also uses the popular but inaccurate definition of "agnostic," creating a false dichotomy between atheism and agnosticism. Many here embrace both, acknowledging that one cannot know for sure whether deities exist, but not believing that they do.
That's subtlety that many theists fail to grasp--the difference between not believing in any gods and actively believing that they don't exist, i.e., between nonbelief and disbelief. Atheism encompasses both. It doesn't take two PhDs to understand that and it shouldn't require 3000 words to explain it.
and to add that the issue for agnostics is regarding whether one claims to know, and the issue with atheists is whether one claims to believe.
I am an agnostic atheist, and I think most rational people on the socalled atheist forum are also agnostic atheists. People need to look up the derivations of words, and get back to the roots, and not make up their own definitions.

nice to see your comments always. when I take long vacations from topix I trust that wise folks like you are still here standing up to the nonsense. I don't like that part of the "job." I like discussing nuances with the intelligent folks like you. That is a sort of luxury - but at times a necessry one - to contact other enlightened mind - sort of a form of nourishment like having to get out into sunlight for vitamin d.
havent forgotten

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May 18, 2013
 

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NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
No, it's not a waste of time. We can no more leave defining the word we use to define our religious identity to dictionaries and religionists that Jews could have in Nazi Germany or Muslims could in current day Israel. As recently as in 1987, Websters defined "atheism," among other things, as "wickedness." That same edition defined "wicked" ass "1. morally very bad, EVIL 2 a" FIERCE, VICIOUS (a wicked dog) b: disposed to mischeif : Roguish 3 A: disgustingly unpleasant : VILE (a wicked odor) b: causing or likely to cause harm, distress, or trouble 4: going beyond reasonable or predictable limits : of exceptional quality or degree syn see bad
No we cannot leave defining "atheist" or "atheism" to others if we are ever to be seen as normal members of society.
thank you for taking on edsed and explaining it so well. also for explaining that part about the recent dictionary definition - proves the ancient greeks were wiser than recent American dictionary publishers.
havent forgotten

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May 18, 2013
 

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NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>I didn't think you were that new here. It's been explained many times in this forum.
Atheism and agnosticism result from negative answers to two very different questions and are thus not incompatible with each other. Anyone who answers "No" when asked "Do you believe in deities of any sort?" is an atheist. Anyone who answers "No" when asked "Do you think it's possible to know whether any deities exist?" is an agnostic. A person can be either, both, or neither. Other responses to both questions are, "No," "I haven't decided" "I don't really care," or "Yes." There are probably others I haven't thought of. The theist/agnostic/atheist trichotomy that many base their ideas about classification on and that demographers and statisticians use to keep analysis down to a manageable scale are too simplistic to match reality.
At any rate, within the ranks of atheists--those who answer "No" about belief--there are some who are certain that no deities exist and some who are less certain. The latter are agnostics, yes, but they are also atheists. The former are just atheists or, in some classification systems, gnostic atheists.
On the flip side, some theists are gnostic and some agnostic as well. The latter acknowledge uncertainty, bit choose to believe anyway, while the former are certain, so for them, belief is not really a choice.
In previous posts, I've broken this down in outline form, but I'm sure you get the gist. Most of the nonbelievers who post here are agnostic atheists, at least 6 on the Dawkins scale, but not 7, but there are a few 7s as well.
nice try at explaining. I have another pairing to suggest. those who are willing and able to understand our sensible explanations. and those who are either unwilling or unable, or both.
havent forgotten

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#15
May 18, 2013
 
polymath257 wrote:
<quoted text>
Yes, agnosticism is based on lack of knowledge. Atheism is based on lack of belief.
It is possible to be an agnostic atheist (you don't believe in a deity, but also don't belief knowledge about this issue is possible).
It is possible to be a gnostic atheist (you don't have a belief in a deity, and think that knowledge *is* possible about this issue).
It is possible to be an agnostic theist (you have a belief in a deity, but don't think knowledge is possible about this issue).
It is possible to be a gnostic theist (you have a belief in a deity, and believe is *is* possible to have knowledge about this issue).
Furthermore, there is a difference between strong atheism (you actively believe there is no deity) while being either gnostic or agnostic about this issue.
It is also possible to be a weak atheist (simple lack of belief in a deity) while being agnostic or gnostic about the issue.
Etc.
There are two separate scales: a belief axis and a knowledge axis. These are independent scales.
a good try for those who want a basic understanding. I like the additional complications. it makes it more interesting. I separate the agnostic matter even further. I am an agnostic in that I make no knowledge claim myself. I also suspect that something (usually the existence of God, but also other things) is unknowable by humans or by smart machines. Those are not quite the same definition of agnostic, so with smart people I include both meanings. With dumb people and believers I simply use the simple meaning that I make no knowledge claim.
I do not like the terms strong atheist and weak atheist. Some folks use the term strong to mean making a knowledge claim and weak to mean not making a knowledge claim. It is not weak to not make a knowledge claim, it is sensible! it is not strong to make a knowledge claim; it is arrogant.
I also think there is a nuance of difference between not believing in a god, and actively believing there is not a god. I always try to say I do not believe in any god I have ever heard about.
I think ethics matter more than theology, and what matters most about theology is what ethic it leads to. So if someone manages to be a good and decent human being (on the social and political and economic kindness, justice, compassion, peace scale, and not must little personal matters) and is religious, I like that person better than a more intellectual non-believer who is cruel and supports cruel policy.
havent forgotten

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#16
May 18, 2013
 
NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
Ooh, cool. we could make some nifty graphs based on those axes, couldn't we now?
there is actually an interesting political graph using the two extremes of
liberal conservative, and
libertarian, authoritarian.
It is on internet somewhere. I took the test and am mildly but not extremely libertarian liberal. Libertarian on civil liberties, and protectionist authoritarian on economic and social justice, versus what is a perversion of libertarianism- the predatory license version of it. Elizabeth Warren seems to be closet to my cup of tea politically, to use a type of pun - since tea party is about the furthest. IQ! as well as policy views being an element in the equation.

Is it possible that an agnostic who makes no knowledge claim should make no claim whether or not is possible to know? That always bothers me, so I say I doubt we can know, but do not dare say I believe or knew that we cannot know.

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#17
May 18, 2013
 
havent forgotten wrote:
<quoted text> nice try at explaining. I have another pairing to suggest. those who are willing and able to understand our sensible explanations. and those who are either unwilling or unable, or both.
Sad, but true...
EdSed

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#18
May 18, 2013
 
NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
.... We can no more leave defining the word we use to define our religious identity to dictionaries and religionists that Jews could have in Nazi Germany or Muslims could in current day Israel.
No Nazis or Zionists are oppressing us. I object to religionists on grounds of superstition, ID/Creationism... well, you know the list. I strongly object to the actions of certain religionists strongly, but I don't suggest they're akin to Nazis or Zionists. They're just rather superstitious and hold a different viewpoint to us, that's all.
NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
As recently as in 1987, Websters defined "atheism," among other things, as "wickedness." That same edition defined "wicked" ass "1. morally very bad, EVIL 2 a" FIERCE, VICIOUS (a wicked dog) b: disposed to mischeif : Roguish 3 A: disgustingly unpleasant : VILE (a wicked odor) b: causing or likely to cause harm, distress, or trouble 4: going beyond reasonable or predictable limits : of exceptional quality or degree syn see bad
That needs to be challenged with such things as letters to the Editor - and that problem seems rectified already. No religionists I know suggest atheists are less moral than religionists. We do find people that misguided on Topix but most of them are rather fervent and literal, even by the standards of true believers.
NightSerf wrote:
<quoted text>
No we cannot leave defining "atheist" or "atheism" to others if we are ever to be seen as normal members of society.
We would be better advised to do that than adopt such a religious language and mindset. I would expect us to be seen as a sort of alternative religion with the approach you advocate. I think disputing terms like agnostic and atheist is theological and therefore counter-productive. We may need to insist on secularism in the sense that politics, education, etc should be the same for all - religionists, believers, non-believers and the simply uninterested.

I've moved on from 'good without God', still more from religion/atheism. Even to me USAmerican non-believers sometimes sound trapped in religious ideas, concepts and thinking. You can choose atheist, agnostic or whatever religious label you desire. I'll happily leave the discussion of who's atheist and agnostic to those who are interested.
EdSed

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#19
May 18, 2013
 
havent forgotten wrote:
<quoted text> thank you for taking on edsed and explaining it so well...
Laugh! Am I really that bad? I hope I can comment or disagree without people feeling under attack.
:-)
I simply wish to offer the alternative view that the best approach to theology is to treat it for what it is - mythology taken too seriously and too literally. I think arguing over 'agnostic' and 'atheist' unavoidably dignifies religious language. It might also suggest that one should care very much which of those two positions one takes.

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May 21, 2013
 

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EdSed wrote:
<quoted text>Laugh! Am I really that bad? I hope I can comment or disagree without people feeling under attack.
:-)
I simply wish to offer the alternative view that the best approach to theology is to treat it for what it is - mythology taken too seriously and too literally. I think arguing over 'agnostic' and 'atheist' unavoidably dignifies religious language. It might also suggest that one should care very much which of those two positions one takes.
You don't seem like a bad person but your actions make you seem that way. It just seems like you don't respect people. I'm not saying you have to agree with them but if you want them to take you seriously and listen to you, you do have to respect them. According to various researchers, body language is thought to account for between 50 to 70 percent of all communication. So how you say something is just as important as what you say. Why do you think Christians are so good at converting people without them understanding a thing about Christianity?

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