What Is An Atheist?


Not that long ago, I sent out a post asking my readers a series of questions. I don’t think we’ll get many more responses to those questions in the near future, so we’ll being making posts on what we to be the most relevant areas of that post. I’ll begin with a post on Atheism.

If you remember, I asked what atheism is. While most people answered that it is a lack of belief, or disbelief, in gods, we did get some more interesting responses. Here are the most interesting responses that we received:

“Atheism: To believe some thing is living and some thing is non-living is Atheism. To negate ritual and traditions of theist is also Atheism. Atheism is contradictory, thereby it is false.”

“Atheism is just another theism — a theory. You cannot prove or disprove god; Atheists are just stupid enough to try and stop the unstoppable — you can’t stop a belief; it is form of hope. Hope to see loved ones again, a hope life is not meaningless, a hope that something lies beyond the misery of this world.”

As I’m sure many of you already realize, these definitions are wrong. But they made us realize that it is important to actually discuss what atheism is. Defining our terms will help eliminate any miscommunication, and it is also an important step that must be taken before any real education can begin. So what is an atheist? Well, an atheist is defined as “a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.” To call yourself an atheist is to make a belief claim. It is to say that you do not believe that there are any gods. It is not a knowledge claim. To say that you know that there are no gods is to be a gnostic atheist. Most atheists are agnostic atheists, ie. they do not believe that there are any gods, but they won’t say that they know there are no gods. To save time explaining, here is a useful chart:

Agnosticism-Atheism

As you can see, it is possible to be gnostic or agnostic while also being either a theist or an atheist. Basically, if you don’t believe that any gods exist, or that it is likely that any gods exist, you are an atheist. However, if you believe that gods exist, or that it is likely they exist, you are a theist. I feel it is necessary to add that not everybody who is an atheist wishes to label themselves as such, and it is that person’s choice to label themselves as they see fit. But I would like to mention that labeling yourself an atheist adds one more face to the label, which make it harder for people to discriminate and challenges the stigma associated with being an atheist. As such, if you find that you are an atheist, I would encourage you to use the word to describe yourself. It is not a bad word and it does not make you a bad person.

Now to the first quote about what atheism “is.” The commenter wrote that atheism is “To believe some thing is living and some thing is non-living.” If this were true, then everybody would be an atheist. Who doesn’t believe that they are alive and the sidewalk they walk on is not alive? They go on to say that “To negate ritual and traditions of theist is also Atheism.” Many atheists celebrate Christmas. Is this not a theist tradition? Atheism is not about traditions and rituals. It is very easy to believe that the Bible is made up while still celebrating the holidays with your family. Some atheists do negate these rituals and traditions, but that is not what atheism is. Here is a podcast that discusses this very issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IidLsnn1WL8. They conclude by saying “Atheism is contradictory, thereby it is false.” How is atheism contradictory? Nothing in their explanation of atheism contradicted anything else they said (assuming it was true). And the actual definition contains no contradictions either. It is a simple statement of disbelief. To say that atheism is false at this point is unsupportable. In fact, given the actual definition, the only way to show atheism to be false would be to prove that there are gods.

The next commenter said that “Atheism is just another theism — a theory.” Neither atheism nor theism are theories. A theory is “a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, especially one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained.” Atheism is a belief claim. There is no intent to explain anything. And atheism is the opposite of theism, thus the “a” in from. Theists, as the chart above shows, believe that there are gods, or a god. Atheists believe the opposite. To say that atheists are theists is insulting to both sides. They go on to say “Atheists are just stupid enough to try and stop the unstoppable — you can’t stop a belief.” While there are atheists out there who want to get rid of religion, that is not part of what it means to be an atheist. Most atheists are happy to live in harmony with religious people so long as no one tries to force us to abide by their religions beliefs. While it is difficult, you can actually stop beliefs, at least on an individual level, but that’s really irrelevant. They then claim that “it is form of hope. Hope to see loved ones again, a hope life is not meaningless, a hope that something lies beyond the misery of this world.” While those are pretty words, they don’t really mean anything. Atheists have hope. And this world is not miserable, at least not to most people. Again, most people are not interested in stopping anyone from believing, but the ones that are aren’t trying to take peoples hope away. I had hope when I was religious and I still have hope today. Most people who deconvert feel the same, so the idea that taking away a persons belief will take away their hope is kind of silly.

I’m sure this is all basic information for most of you, but I hope this post will help some of you understand what we mean when we say we’re atheists, and I hope it will help bring about mutual understanding in the future.

Advertisements

94 responses to “What Is An Atheist?

  • Terminology: Some Stuff On Atheism | Mr. Syms Types

    […] already given my definition for an atheist in a previous post.  I am also quite taken with a post by another blogger I enjoy that also addresses common misconceptions among theists while defining […]

    Like

  • apoetic1

    Very informative! You now follow my blog, so you are familiar with my beliefs based on some of my work. This is a great breakdown/snapshot, and I like your objectivity (not emotion-driven rant).

    I also truly appreciate your position and explanation of secular humanists (in a different post), as I was not familiar with the term/association. I agree that it is inappropriate for “religious” people to assume anyone who does not believe what they believe is not a good/moral person trying to lead a positive life. Some of the cruelest acts in history were committed in the name of “religion” (and still are) – with Christianity being at the forefront via the crusades. As a Christian, I know these acts and the pious attitudes of many then and now are not what true Christianity is about. I am extremely faith-based, but I do not label myself “religious”… rather, I am spiritual, as my beliefs are grounded in a spiritual relationship on a personal level and not any religious protocol or structure which dictates how I should communicate or worship my God.

    I also do not condone any self-righteous declarations of condemnation against others. The foundation of my beliefs are grounded in love, service and gratitude, along with utilizing what I believe are the fruits of the spirit. For me, God is the only one capable of judgment, and none of us are perfect, so I have no more right to judge you (or anyone) than you have to judge me. We all have a responsibility to be discerning regarding what is right and wrong, moral and immoral, acceptable and inacceptable… some use the added guidance of the directions identified by their formal faith-based beliefs, while others stick with common sense and intuition alone.

    We are all in this together, and while I would LOVE for everyone to believe in God, Christ and the Holy Spirit; my job is to love my brothers and sisters in this world regardless of what they believe or don’t believe, and to try to bring out the best in them by giving the best of myself. The rest is out of my hands… 🙂

    Like

  • apathwaytosalvation

    Dear Hessianwithteeth, We notice that you have followed many of our WP sites presenting the Gospel in many languages but that you say you are atheists. We would like to know whether or not you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour yet.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      No we are still Atheists and neither one of us thinks that Jesus was divine in any regard, nor are we convinced that he even existed, let alone accepted him as our personal savior.

      Though thank you for stopping by.

      Like

      • Greg Graham

        I find it interesting that you don’t think Jesus existed. Do you think the same thing about other founders of religions such as the Buddha or Muhammad? Do you have an alternate explanation for the existence of Christianity other than it was started by the disciples of Jesus?

        Like

        • equippedcat

          To say that you don’t believe “Jesus” existed is quite a stretch. Jesus (Yeshua) was a moderately common name in ancient Israel, so it is practically guaranteed that there was at least one person named Jesus alive at the time.

          To say that you don’t believe Jesus was the founder of Christianity is also a difficult sell. Even if you consider the Bible completely fictional, can you also dismiss the writings of Roman historians?

          Cornelius Tacitus (ca. ad 55–120) “Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular.” Ok, not Jesus by name, but referring to the title Christ, by a person who does not seem to be impressed by him.

          Gaius Suetonius Tranquillas (chief secretary of Emperor Hadrian ad 117–138) “Because the Jews at Rome caused continuous disturbances at the instigation of Chrestus, he expelled them from the city.”

          Flavius Josephus (ad 37 or 38 to ad 97) Josephus speaks about many persons and events of first century Palestine and makes two references to Jesus. The first is very brief and is in the context of a reference to James, “the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ”. The other has a couple of interpretations, the most reliable of which is “At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. His conduct was good and (he) was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and the other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. But those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship.”

          Like

      • apathwaytosalvation

        Thank you for replying to our comment.We respect your beliefs and we greatly appreciate your tolerant spirit.

        However, extra-biblical Roman historians (Tacitus & Josephus) have included references to Jesus Christ, and there are records found that Pontius Pilate truly did judge a man by the name of Jesus Christ. Also, how do you know that many people such as Socrates (who came before Jesus’ birth), Muhammad, Abraham, and Buddha existed (three of the above who began great religions themselves) and yet you deny the existence of Jesus Christ?

        We are not trying to hammer our beliefs into your heads, but we will be praying that you accept Jesus Christ as your personal Saviour.

        Like

      • mottyl

        Hello, I would like to thank you for following my blog and I will follow yours too. I tend towards emotional rants with the hope that eventually this will even out to intelligent discourse. You are an inspiration.
        Although I am not religious, I do believe in the possibility of the existence of a person that we refer to today as Jesus. I have my own theories on what may have taken place back then though.
        I agree with you that Jesus was not divine. As a matter of fact, the whole premise of the story of Jesus is that he was a human being. He did mess up a couple of times and, like all human beings, he didn’t exactly win.
        On being Atheist – for me it is about having the right to express opinions and values that don’t necessarily follow the prevailing religious opinions and values, without being condemned for that. Atheism, I believe, is alive and well because religious thinkers have overwhelmingly tended to persecute and condemn the lifestyles of believers and non-believers alike.
        I don’t believe that they have a right to condemn me via a religion I don’t believe in. That, for me, is the meaning of Atheism.

        Like

  • robynbellsandwhistles

    I haven’t read the comments (can’t really bring myself to do so . . . ) but I liked your article and especially the little graph explaining atheism/theism/agnosticism/gnosticism. I’d never seen it laid out like that before but it really helped!

    As an atheist, it drives me up the wall when super-religious people say things like “I know there is a god”. You don’t know. You cannot possibly *know* for 100% certain that there is a god. So, do I have the right to say that I absolutely and entirely *know* that there ISN’T a god? No, I don’t. I have no more proof than they do, only what I believe to be obvious from evidence (and they have their own “evidence”). So, I would call myself an agnostic atheist because I consider that to be the fairest position to be in, the most open-minded and considerate towards others.

    But then the real religious nuts will respond with “Ah, so you’re not 100% certain, so you think there’s a chance that there’s a god? Because I’m 100% certain that there *is* a god and therefore I must be correct!” and we just go around in circles.

    I’m not sure what the correct answer is, to be honest, but I know that I will feel comfortable – in as much as my attitude towards my fellow human beings – describing myself as an agnostic atheist. So thank you for making me think.

    Like

  • smdave1940

    When some body wants to decide on God, then it has to associate with logic as to how the Universe, Society and itself functions. Not as an expert but with the general knowledge on the outcome beliefs of scientists with one’s logical sense.

    We cannot avoid logic. But logical thinking is dependent on what has been stored in memory its aptitude to store information and to apply the same.

    Now as for line of demarcation line person cannot be labeled as x,y,z, etc. Person is a mixed up aptitude.

    Resultantly what is convincing to one by other’s argument could be the matter of discussion.

    It is possible, one may understand to have, a clear concepts on God, Cosmos, society and human itself, as some information as basic just to justifying the existence of God, rituals and living-nonliving things. If the concepts on these are not clear then how one’s view can be made acceptable?

    God is beyond property means not without property.
    Property means property as to what traditionally called living feel good and bad. The reply of God’s property is answered as “Not Like This and Not like That”.
    To understand the God we need to understand the Universe as how it functions.

    As for dimensions (22+4 or 11+11+4) is in a book written on Hawkins achievements by a Japanese Scientist.

    The term theory in Superstring Theory is not my discovery. What has been written it has been reproduce.
    All theories cannot be proved. But they can be disapproved by a new theory.

    Experiment of string theory or 26 dimensions cannot be tested because our equipments are 4 dimensional (its coordinate in other dimensions have negligible values). But where tools have limitations mathematics prove initially.

    As for rituals one should not object only religious rituals and to be silent on rituals associated with society (political and vested interest’s), because all the rituals are mainly social only.
    It is needless to say that rituals are for pleasure, because every action is for pleasure only.

    Pleasures are ultimately mental. This can be achieved in four ways. But it is a long story. And it is not a subject matter.

    Like

    • equippedcat

      Sorry, a theory cannot be disproved by developing a new theory. A theory can only be disproved by showing at least one case where it is invalid. If a new theory is created, it can coexist with an existing theory, even if it is contradictory..

      Like

  • Ed Oliver

    Well-written post! As an atheist I identify with everything you said, except for the part where we should label ourselves. This will sound a bit contradictory but I don’t think we should label ourselves anything, because- as Sam Harris has said before- we don’t have a word for non-astronomers or non-doctors. Here’s the exact quote, “Atheism is nothing more than the noises reasonable people make when in the presence of religious dogma.” But I do agree with you that we have to make ourselves known, but not in numbers (although that’d help) but rather in importance. The more Sam Harris-es and Hitchens-es we have the better. Great post!

    Like

  • paidiske

    I thought that the poster denying a distinction between “living” and “non-living” might have been a pantheist?

    Like

  • smdave1940

         I will respond to what you say as under:       Now to the first quote about what atheism “is.” The commenter wrote that atheism is “To believe some thing is living and some thing is non-living.” If this were true, then everybody would be an atheist. Who doesn’t believe that they are alive and the sidewalk they walk on is not alive? They go on to say that “To negate ritual and traditions of theist is also Atheism.” Many atheists celebrate Christmas. Is this not a theist tradition? Atheism is not about traditions and rituals. It is very easy to believe that the Bible is made up while still celebrating the holidays with your family. Some atheists do negate these rituals and traditions, but that is not what atheism is. Here is a podcast that discusses this very issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IidLsnn1WL8. They conclude by saying “Atheism is contradictory, thereby it is false.” How is atheism contradictory? An Atheist may be denying the existence of God, but he would perform rituals. But it does not mean that he believes and has faith in rituals. He celebrates rituals for enjoyment. Now suppose he is committed to logic, then he is not supposed to celebrate rituals. That is why his actions are contradictory.“If something is living and some thing is non-living” this could be a belief of Theist and Atheist. But as for Theist, the theist does not use logic. He has taken for granted that certain things are living things and certain things are non-living. If his belief is true then how a thing once had been termed as living thing, as soon as it dies, it becomes non-living?The Atheist also take it for granted that certain things are living things and certain things are not living. But how can a big accumulation of non-living things can generate a living thing? There is no logic and there is no definition. What is the definition of living organism?As I understand, that Theist and Atheist both are illogical. If an Atheist is illogical and still is committed to the belief, then the Atheist is comparable to the Theist. The theist is also illogical. Both are illogical hence both are synonym to each other. That is why both are the same. Hence one can say whatever it likes as for living and non-living things and traditional rituals are concern.If an Atheist celebrate some rituals and negate the celebration of some other rituals, and still he continue to term itself an Atheist, it looks funny and illogical, whatsoever could be the reason. The reason could not be logical in most cases on celebration of rituals which could be political and social, but not scientific.In the absence of definition of God and living organism the traditionally termed Theist and Atheist are useless,  illogical and contradictory.    

    From: hessianwithteeth To: smdave1940@yahoo.com Sent: Monday, 24 November 2014 2:30 AM Subject: [New post] What Is An Atheist? #yiv4059000435 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv4059000435 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv4059000435 a.yiv4059000435primaryactionlink:link, #yiv4059000435 a.yiv4059000435primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv4059000435 a.yiv4059000435primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv4059000435 a.yiv4059000435primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv4059000435 WordPress.com | hessianwithteeth posted: “Not that long ago, I sent out a post asking my readers a series of questions. I don’t think we’ll get many more responses to those questions in the near future, so we’ll being making posts on what we to be the most relevant areas of that post. I’ll begin ” | |

    Like

  • smdave1940

    I will respond to what you say as under:

    Now to the first quote about what atheism “is.” The commenter wrote that atheism is “To believe some thing is living and some thing is non-living.” If this were true, then everybody would be an atheist. Who doesn’t believe that they are alive and the sidewalk they walk on is not alive? They go on to say that “To negate ritual and traditions of theist is also Atheism.” Many atheists celebrate Christmas. Is this not a theist tradition? Atheism is not about traditions and rituals. It is very easy to believe that the Bible is made up while still celebrating the holidays with your family. Some atheists do negate these rituals and traditions, but that is not what atheism is. Here is a podcast that discusses this very issue: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IidLsnn1WL8. They conclude by saying “Atheism is contradictory, thereby it is false.” How is atheism contradictory?

    An Atheist may be denying the existence of God, but he would perform rituals. But it does not mean that he believes and has faith in rituals. He celebrates rituals for enjoyment. Now suppose he is committed to logic, then he is not supposed to celebrate rituals. That is why his actions are contradictory.

    “If something is living and some thing is non-living” this could be a belief of Theist and Atheist. But as for Theist, the theist does not use logic. He has taken for granted that certain things are living things and certain things are non-living. If his belief is true then how a thing once had been termed as living thing, as soon as it dies, it becomes non-living?

    The Atheist also take it for granted that certain things are living things and certain things are not living. But how can a big accumulation of non-living things can generate a living thing? There is no logic and there is no definition. What is the definition of living organism?

    As I understand, that Theist and Atheist both are illogical. If an Atheist is illogical and still is committed to the belief, then the Atheist is comparable to the Theist. The theist is also illogical. Both are illogical hence both are synonym to each other. That is why both are the same. Hence one can say whatever it likes as for living and non-living things and traditional rituals are concern.

    If an Atheist celebrate some rituals and negate the celebration of some other rituals, and still he continue to term itself an Atheist, it looks funny and illogical, whatsoever could be the reason. The reason could not be logical in most cases on celebration of rituals which could be political and social, but not scientific.

    In the absence of definition of God and living organism the traditionally termed Theist and Atheist are useless, illogical and contradictory.

    Like

    • equippedcat

      Except that they are not. They are valid, descriptive, widely used terms to describe a persons’s state of belief in God. Just because one person claims that a particular plot of grass is lavender, when everyone else claims it is green, does not cast any aspersion on the words “lavender” OR “green”. It does however, raise some concerns about the person making the claim of lavender.

      Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      There are no rules of how to be an atheist that says we can’t celebrate traditions. It isn’t contradictory. It’s not like you believe in God while celebrating Christmas and then suddenly stop believing when Christmas is over. We celebrate for different reasons. Some celebrate to please their families, others celebrate because they want to be with their families, and others genuinely love the holidays. There is no contradiction in that, you’re just assuming that there are more to the traditions and rituals than meets the eye. That may be true of how theists feel, but to atheists there is nothing more to it than what you see.
      As for the living and non-living thing, it is not illogical at all. We are all made up of particles that aren’t alive. As a whole, we are alive, and there are viruses and bacteria that we are made up of that are alive in their own right, but we are also made up of non-living particles. That’s not illogical, it’s biology. And you’re assuming that all atheists believe abiogenesis. Atheists are not the same as scientists. Some atheists are scientists, but most are lay people with as much knowledge of science as any given theist. As such, to assume that we all accept abiogenesis is ridiculous.
      To be an atheist is simply to believe that there are no gods. If any given atheist accepts abiogenesis, that is something separate from their atheism.

      Like

      • smdave1940

        To tell something is living and some thing is non-living is not scientific.
        If both are different then how do they interact?
        Einstein, had put forward an idea (not the proof) that the universe must be explainable by a single formula. This is better known as Idea of Unified Field Theory.
        What is a field. The field is a force that can prevail between particles. But there are many types of forces whose equations are different to measure the effect. Einstein was searching a common equation that can explain and measure the effect of all the fields.
        Ramanujam had prepared an equation of matrix with an assumption that the universal entities have not only 3+1 [X (say length, Y(say breadth), Z (say height) + Time) dimensions. But the universe has 11+11+4 dimensions. He had prepared a Matrix equation that can unified all the fields. It is long story, no need to narrate here.
        Now as per the modern science the fundamental entity of which the everything is made of, is supper string (or supper membrane). Two and more superstrings can make a combination and the combinations can further make combinations with others in multiples. All the discovered and undiscovered particles are made of superstring. At the subatomic level, it is not proper to distinguish particle or wave hence it is termed as wavecle. Now the superstring is non-living then how could a living thing get generated by any type of accumulation of supper strings?
        Amoeba is termed as the prime or most preliminary traditionally called living organism made of single cell. In course of time as a result of billions of billions of sequential mutations during billion/s of years a highly complicated human body is formed. We knows very well that all DNA, cells atoms molecules, quarks, are all made of superstrings. If superstring is non-living then how its accumulation can be a living thing? If we assume Super string is a primitive living thing then only an Amoeba we can get generated as a living thing.
        Every combination has one thing common and that is superstring.
        There cannot be two prime entities. Because an entity can be defined by its property (meaning of property in the terms of physics). If there are two prime entities then each of those two, must have one property, but each one must be different from each other.
        If there two prime entity thentwo different prime entities cannot have same property. If they have same property then they are the same prime entity and they are not different prime entity. If one prime entity has two properties then it is not the prime entity but it is made of two entities.
        If two prime entities have different property then they cannot effect on each other. You cannot enjoy the music by your eye. (This example is only to understand the limited property of eye).
        Super string — multiple combinations under physical conditions – Amoeba ….. physical conditions — Human. Super strings live in 11+11+3+1=26 dimensions and cells live in 3+1 dimensions.
        Hence if we take a Human made of cells, as living, then cells are also living and molecules, atoms. quarks etc… are also living. The effect of Time dimension and sensitivity (conscious) are in different proportion and manner depending upon their limbs (constituents). Even for a man when his brain is not functioning to full extent (sleep without dreams), he is not able to feel time (to feel his own existence), despite of this he is termed as alive, because his body cells functions to remain capable for energy flow. It is not necessary to define living thing as a human like feeling of existence. Even a human does not feel its existence when he is dreamlessly sleeping.
        Like this not only human, but from a superstring to its multiple combinations to one cell organism through multiple cells organism, to human, earth –> Sun -> Solar system, Milky way -> Universe -> other universe having different value of plank constant, are all living things. Attraction is the only single property of superstrings.
        Now when the world is like this, then the definition of God has to be altered. As per Geeta (promoted through Vedas), the God is beyond property. That is why, God cannot oblige of his own. Nobody including God can do miracle because everything happens under the law of physics. If I like apple then that is also as per law of physics. But the chain of physical forces effecting my hand to pick up an apple has to be yet discovered. It will be discovered in time to come.
        In short, if one believes in a God associated with ready to oblige by virtue of his property to his beloved, it has no logic. Similar is the case of existence of heaven, hell, day of judgment. A theist he has taken something like this for granted without logic.
        Those who term themselves an Atheist, but if they accept something as living and something as non-living under an arbitrary demarcation are also one other type of Theist. They also use to justify their own celebration of political and social rituals. They are either confused ones or they are Theist

        Like

        • hessianwithteeth

          Well first of all your talking about a extremely wide array of sciences, And while you may be a reductionist I do not know it’s is not a simple task to link all of these fields of science in a constructive way.

          Second no one has proved string “theory” (it isn’t actually a scientific theory it’s a popular hypothesis) nor have other dimensions been proven yet either. Because of that you should being pulling those ideas out as though they prove anything since they are still very much hypothesis and still need to be proven.

          Also I have no idea where your getting 26 dimensions from I’ve not heard of a theory that need that many.

          Second while there might not be an obvious line distinquishing living and none living, you make two unfair assumptions. One you assume all atheist thing that “living” and “non-living” are useful terms. That simply not true. Second you assume there is no good working definition of what it take for a system to be living and there a multiple competing definitions, although they are all very similar and only argue at some point of contention.

          Here are the 7 basics:
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life#Biology

          But really when I read your comment all I see is you string together a large number ideas and then saying they prove your point, but that’s not how arguments work. You need to indicate where your getting your claims from, give clear reasons why you can connect ideas (assuming people understand your complicated hypothesis’s is a quick way to be misconstrued), and how those connections are relevant.

          Also when you say things like “God is beyond property.” what that means is that God has no properties. Things that have no properties are not “things.” To exist something must have properties, now if your comfortable saying God does not exist then we have no problem, but I would be hesitant to say it in such convoluted ways.

          “Those who term themselves an Atheist, but if they accept something as living and something as non-living under an arbitrary demarcation”

          I have no idea where your getting this, but it has nothing, I repeat nothing, to do with being an atheist. Many people think that “living things” is a useful category, including myself, but that does not mean we necessarily think there is something magical about life. For example I think like is a system of chemical which follow those seven rules I linked to above and I’ll link to again here, is a useful dentition to aid in discussing other biological components.

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life#Biology

          However right now your argument has absolutely nothing to do with atheism. It seems to be to be some reductionist argument against the use of the term “living” suggesting it isn’t a useful term, but that’s not directly related so your going to have to do a heck of a lot better job convincing all of us here to the validity of your argument, and then maybe you might have a chance to convince us your argument is correct.

          Like

  • mitchteemley

    Interesting overview. As an ex-atheist I have, of course, read a good deal at both ends of the continuum. The chart is interesting, though the use of “Gnostic” is problematic since it is best known as a term for a mystical religious system (a Christian heresy with pre-Christian roots).

    Like

  • equippedcat

    The definition here is the “common” definition.

    — The broader, and more common, understanding of atheism among atheists is quite simply “not believing in any gods.” No claims or denials are made – an atheist is just a person who does not happen to be a theist. Sometimes this broader understanding is called “weak” or “implicit” atheism. — (Wikipedia)

    The more specific meaning is approached by sometimes calling it “strong” or “explicit” atheism.

    This is accomplished in your definition, by applying Gnostic and Agnostic, which is just as valid, if not more so, but possibly not as common. Thus the entire gamut of belief in God is covered, from “no God” through a wide range of “no belief” to “God for sure”. I suppose that if people would use both terms to describe their position, there would not be a problem, since they would be including both direction and any existence of belief.

    But they seldom do, and that can lead to difficulty. No matter how you slice it, a person who BELIEVES there is no god is different from a person who does not have beliefs about god. Generally they tend to be more like a person who does believe in God than those who have no god beliefs. Beliefs tend to be resistant to anything (non-provable) which contradicts them, while non-belief is more likely to consider anything reasonable.

    So if a person calls themself an atheist, then they should expect to be considered a member of the “church of god does not exist” and an “anti-theist” even if they use logic and reason and eschew belief in either direction. I suggest we try to replace the non-belief middle ground with the accurate “non-theist”. This would result in a more useful system of self-identification. Those that believe there is no god would be atheists, those that believe there is a God would be theists, and those who don’t hold beliefs about God would be nontheists.

    Like

    • clubschadenfreude

      no, it is not what an atheist should “expect”. It is what a theist mistakenly tries to call them with no evidence. why is it that theists try so hard to insist that atheists must be part of some “church”?

      Like

      • hessianwithteeth

        May favorite term for how some religious folk try to insist that atheists have all the same flaws as there own religion is one by Aron Ra. “It’s the pot calling the silverware black.”

        But it’s a means of bring us down to there level of argumentation, however it is kind of funny because in doing so they end up demeaning there own religion in the process. By calling it just another religion.

        Like

    • consoledreader

      @ec

      You might be interested in Chris Silver’s research. He developed a typology of atheists in which he identifies 6 types (although he accepts there could be more for future research to explore). Your non-theist is one of the types.

      Non-theists are still atheists, although I suspect most of them aren’t spending too much on internet blogs debating religion.

      Like

  • ChildofRa

    I laughed when you mention christmas giving the fact many theist are celebrating a pagan holiday, i just find that notion funny.

    Liked by 1 person

  • MikuMarmalade

    I tend to dislike labels… But to self categorize myself I’d say agnostic. I’m not interested in arguing the proof of Jesus or any God but I am not here saying all or nothing. Generalizing is a very dangerous mindset that I struggle with on a daily basis.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      If you don’t want to label yourself, that’s fine. But keep in mind that “agnostic” just says what you don’t know. What you believe is a completely different category. You may not know if there are gods, but you likely also have some belief as to whether or not they exist as well.

      Liked by 1 person

  • The Gospel of Barney

    Grid square was best at looking at the continuum of belief systems. It is a growing phenomenon:http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2013/10/23/5-facts-about-atheists/

    Like

  • mbracedefreak

    You made quite the elitist statement
    “Most people who deconvert feel the same, so the idea that taking away a persons belief will take away their hope is kind of silly.”

    Less developed cultures have more religion than a place like Norway, where polling shows higher happiness levels and a higher quality of life.

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      How is it an elitist claim to say that it is possible to maintain hope without being religious? And what does that stat have to do with your claim. That’s a case of correlation, not causation. People in Norway live in a developed country with a stable government. They have easy access to food, good education, and job security. People in developing nations don’t have the same level of security unless they are wealthy. As such, it would make sense that happiness is higher in Norway.

      Like

      • mbracedefreak

        Cultures become less strict in religious belief as they rise in educational and economic status. Less fortunate cultures often need more then what their present station gives them.Hope for another life in the afterlife. Did your recent ancestors practice religion until their stations in life rose? Give others the same opportunity, for this reason I wrote elitist. For many church is just a social event. Extremists are the problem whether they be religious or not. Atheists have committed genocide a few times but religion remains.

        Like

        • hessianwithteeth

          The fact that religion remains in cultures that are less developed doesn’t mean that hope is the only, or even the main, reason that it remains. In many developing nations, religion is tied very closely to the government. Maybe the instability or corruption within the government is the reason why religion has such a tight grip over these countries. Religion tends to decrease with better education. Maybe it is the fact that developing nations have such a high percentage of uneducated citizens that allows religion to continue. I could think of any number of reasons why the correlation between religiosity and development of a nation exists, but they are all still just correlations. Until you can prove that people in developing nations only remain more religious because they need hope, you have no argument.

          Like

          • mbracedefreak

            You apparently think highly of Einstein. he used the term, “the old one” because he did not want to rule out god = hope. Many intellectuals still believe in god. Explain why, if not hope?

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Einstein got a lot wrong. Did you know that he thought that Quantum Mechanics was wrong because if it’s true then Relativity is wrong? We now know that Relativity is wrong, but it is a useful approximation so we still use it. If Einstein could be so wrong about the field he actually studied, then why can’t we assume that he was also wrong about his deism?
            It is possible to idolize someone who was highly intelligent while understanding that they didn’t get everything right.
            There are many reasons to believe in gods. I’m sure many intellectuals simply believe in their gods because of tradition. After all, that’s why a lot of non-intellectuals believe in gods. It’s also likely that a lot of intellectuals believe in gods simply because they honestly think that gods exist, and don’t think twice about what role hope plays.
            Why do you need to explain belief with hope? Why can’t you just accept that some people believe because they honestly believe there are gods. And if hope where someones reason to believe, why are you so against people saying that that is a bad reason to believe? It’s not like anyone’s saying that it’s better to be depressed, we’re just saying that that belief is false because you can have hope and not believe in deities. If you don’t actually believe, but cling to belief because you’re afraid you’ll lose your hope, then that is a bad reason to believe.
            It’s like hanging out of the second story window of a building that’s on fire, and looking down and seeing firefighters with a safety net ready to catch you, but climbing back in through the window because you’re afraid that the net’s not actually there.

            Like

          • mbracedefreak

            Hawking finally decided god does’t exist, but considering he made a big quot about the Higgs boson and the end of the universe i already said the same thing a year earlier in my Bikini Good, Bikini Bad post; we can assume he is slipping. Most people know less than you about quantum mechanics and the universe, so they have no proof there is a god bit never have seen evidence against either.
            Hope is an attractant to belief but people do actually believe in god or gods. What proof do you have they are wrong. We can’t even prove aliens exist, but scientists look. One reason why is a superior intellect can escape detection, same can be said for a god. Show me how you prove either does not exist, oh great one? I’m agnostic, I admit I don’t know. Apparently Atheists have proof of non-existence.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            No, atheists do not have proof that God does not exist. If they did, there would not be any (sane) theists any more.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            By many accounts there is evidence, just not strong evidence. Like many gods as they are claimed are logically impossible, or the mere fact that many thing claimed to be created or control by gods do not appear to have any causes but natural causes, or that while many have looked for millennia there is no clear evidence for Gods.

            Obviously none of those things are definitive, but together they indicate that God’s are more likely to not exist then to exist. Though lets be clear this is an argument by induction, so some people will reject it because of that.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Do you know how to read. Atheism isn’t a knowledge claim. Atheism: the BELIEF that gods do not exist. I do not BELIEVE that gods exist. You said in your comment that you also do not BELIEVE that gods exist. That makes YOU an ATHEIST. BELIEF is not the same as KNOWLEDGE. Now stop being an ass.

            Like

          • mbracedefreak

            @hessian without teeth Do you know how to read. Atheism isn’t a knowledge claim. Atheism: the BELIEF that gods do not exist. I do not BELIEVE that gods exist. You said in your comment that you also do not BELIEVE that gods exist. That makes YOU an ATHEIST. BELIEF is not the same as KNOWLEDGE. Now stop being an ass.

            Most people who go to church call themselves believers. Atheists have committed genocide to try and stop religion. Did it work? No. Both Atheists and Religious believers cross the line.. Can you read?You made me laugh when you wrote — Einstein got a lot wrong. Did you know that he thought that Quantum Mechanics was wrong because if it’s true then Relativity is wrong? — so funny.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Facts are funny to you? Wow, you really are an idiot. While we gave you the benefit of the doubt before, you’ve proven that you really are a troll. You’re going away now. Bye.

            Like

          • smdave1940

            It is good that some people have pointed out on “Labels”.

            Demarcation can never be a fine line.

            In reality we all believe what we like. But in many cases before we decide to like some thing, we use our brain. Off course every body uses its brain for taking decisions. The brain recalls the relevant sets of memory stored through organs and also earlier comparable stored decisions including its natural inherited emotions. It compares them all with a process not known to him/her completely and takes decisions. Now what is stored is depends upon its inherited liking. Ultimately a person takes a decision which it likes to take that decision. Some times a person takes a decision which it does not want. But it feels that there is no better decision.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            “Demarcation can never be a fine line.”

            What? What specific demarcation are you talking about? Are you talking about the problem of demarcation of science and non-science? Because that does not represent all demarcation.

            The rest of your comment was so poorly formed I couldn’t draw meaning from it. I could guess what your saying, but I rather you try to present your ideas better then me just making assumptions.

            Like

  • graphicmatrix

    I think a MAJOR aspect of the diagram which isn’t being addressed is religion. In all four camps there are, I’m sure, people whose belief or disbelief in God, creation, the afterlife etc etc etc is affected greatly by their attitude toward religion as a political force. Many who claim to be atheist are in fact simply anti-religious. and many who claim to be believers are so firmly planted in a religious culture (similar to a political party) that they will not allow themselves (even in private) to admit that they have doubts.

    Something as nebulous as spirituality or faith is very difficult to nail down in simple “is or isn’t” terms. As one sees in moments of crisis, life or death moments when a non religious person will beg “God” to intervene and by some miracle save them.

    Good post though….

    Liked by 1 person

    • clubschadenfreude

      there are plenty of atheists in foxholes. seeing your friends blown to bloody rags does a bit of damage to ones belief in a magical benevolent sky fairy.

      Liked by 1 person

      • graphicmatrix

        yeah and then there are so many that don’t need such radical proof. What really gets me is the people who make it through war fare and still maintain a total commitment to the benevolent sky fairy…. How do they do it?

        Like

      • equippedcat

        Belief in God is not affected by or dependent on intelligence, but in the end, by a person’s experiences with God. Yes, things which we think are very bad DO happen. How we experience God through the events tends to color our view of God. If we feel His love, peace and comfort, then our belief in God is strengthened; whereas if we don’t sense His presence, that tends to drive us away from Him. Feelings tend to be independent of intelligence.

        Where intelligence is of benefit to a belief in God is to decipher what is from God and what is from Man..

        Like

        • clubschadenfreude

          Belief in a god is dependent on people learning about this supposed god from people that they have actual reason to trust.

          And I am sure that things that are very bad do happen and I am sure that they are very bad. I don’t have to make excuses of why a god that is supposed benevolent somehow “needs” harm to be caused for its mysterious “plan”.

          There is no peace or love or comfort to be felt, only what you convince yourself you are feeling. If this god wanted to help people, then it can start with the kids who are starving. Then talk to me about how loving, peaceful and comforting this god is. Now, if this god wants me to believe in it, it needs to make with the evidence. Thomas supposedly could poke his fingers around, and JC said that was okay, though having blind faith was better. If it’s okay, then evidence should be forthcoming; it isn’t.

          Every theist claims that they can tell what is from their god and what is from man and how intelligent that makes them. And surprise! this god always agrees with what they personally find desirable or hateful. None of you can actually show a god exists or that your personal version is the only “true” one. I get to watch Christian after Christian sure that those other people are heretical, watch the Catholics hate the Protestants and both sure that the Jews and Muslims are wrong.

          Like

          • equippedcat

            Yes, you can learn some things about God from people. If you are wise, you will remember that those things do come from people. The important things, it is best to learn from God. Or possibly from yourself deluding yourself that it comes from God.

            You are sure that “very bad things” are very bad “in your opinion”. And you may be right. But there is some possibility that you are wrong. Is it merely an attempt to resolve an apparent discrepancy? Or is there really a different environment with different rules where these things make sense? I believe so, you believe not, and neither of us can prove it to the other, nor is it likely either of us could convince the other. Maybe someday we’ll both find out. Or not.

            Can peace, love, comfort be felt? Of course they can; if you can’t feel those things, then you have my deepest sympathy. Now do those feelings come from God, or just generate spontaneously in situations where they don’t normally apply? Don’t know, and frankly, don’t even care. They serve the purpose which is needed at the time.

            God chooses not to provide evidence. Why? I don’t know. Do I like it? Nope. Do I accept it? Yep.

            “Every theist”, eh? I am a theist, and I don’t claim that.I can tell what is from God and what is from Man. I have guesses and hopes; what it comes down to is what “seems Godly” to me. Being my view, I don’t insist you accept it too. And I assure you, God’s ways are not the way I would do things, but of course, I don’t know the environment He works in, so it approaches certainty that my ways would screw things up royally.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            First, you have a lovely picture as an avatar. I had a blue point Siamese when I was growing up.

            EC, you start right off trying to claim that only the “wise” will agree with you. Again, there is no evidence for this, only your baseless claim. Since you can’t even show your god exists, there is no reason to think that *anything* comes from your god. As always, all theists are sure that they know what their god really wants and that no one else does. It’s the usual claim made when a theist, Christian, etc doesn’t agree with other theists of their particular type. You all want to claim that you know what your god wants, and you have nothing to show that your version is any better than anyone else’s. Now, humans can determine which version is less harmful, since I do know that some Christians are decent human people despite their religion, but there is nothing to show that a god exists at all or that it thinks you are just peachy.

            I suppose I do only know that some things are very bad by my opinion. But I’m quite happy with that if my opinion is informed enough to know that genocide is very bad and utterly wrong. If we are to accept your claim, genocide could be just fine for you and your god. Indeed, we see in the bible that this god repeatedly commands this to be done. If you want to claim that genocide can ever be right, please do so since you want to pretend that I could possibly be wrong. It seems that you are willing to try to excuse your god’s inaction by trying to pretend that its inaction *and* its supposed commands are in some way acceptable. I do enjoy when I can watch someone like you sure that as long as you hope so, there is some “different environment with different rules” that makes genocide make sense. What a vile heinous place that would be. I am more than glad to say that I am not so much a sycophant to try to believe that anything my god does is just fine, as long as it says it it. And EC, you are just making Pascal’s Wager, just like every theist who is sure that he and only he has the right god to worship.

            I have no problem in showing evidence that your god doesn’t exist. Thanks to this bible, we know quite a lot about the character of this god and this supposed messiah. We also have a couple of ways to supposedly know without any doubt that these entities existed. We have the altar test of Elijah, which says anyone can call upon this god to get it to light an altar. We also have the promise that *anyone* who is a believer of JC, baptized, etc, will be able to heal people, do miracles just like JC, etc. Funny how none of you can do any of this. Since your bible is demonstrably wrong, why are you believing in it?

            Yep, I can feel peace, love and comfort. Again, there is no evidence that such things come from your god or any other god. These feelings do not spontaneously generate in situations where there is no stimulus for them. It’s great to see that you supposed “don’t care” now. It’s just great to see you decide that you don’t need to actually support your own claims when you know you can’t. Yep, make this claim, EC, “If we feel His love, peace and comfort, then our belief in God is strengthened; whereas if we don’t sense His presence, that tends to drive us away from Him.” And when someone calls you on it, then whine that you don’t care.

            I also can look at the baseless claim that your god chooses not to provide evidence. No, EC, your god doesn’t exist, so it can’t provide evidence. Just like every other god that you don’t believe in either. It’s fun to watch Christians insist that they know so much about their god but when it comes to actually answering questions about what they know, suddenly this god becomes so mysterious. I know you accept your excuse for your god. If you didn’t, you’d not be a believer. You have a created an excuse to prop up your belief because your self-worth is dependent on it.

            Hah, EC, you do claim that you can tell what is from your god and from man. You have repeatedly when you have made excuses for your god and when you claim that you know what this god wants. Heck you said right here that you can do this “Where intelligence is of benefit to a belief in God is to decipher what is from God and what is from Man.” You claim you can do this. If none can understand this god or tell what comes from it or from man, then all of the claims of interpretation is garbage. Yep, it comes down to what is “godly” to you, just like it does to every other theist. And here you say that you know that “x” and “y” are “God’s ways.” It’s a shame that you have to excuse your god’s inaction and the nonsense in the bible using the old “As long as God does it, it’s okay.”

            You don’t know the “environment” this character works in because it doesn’t exist. You try to claim that there is some “environment” that would excuse allowing genocide, starvation, supposedly writing/inspiring a book that no one can agree on and that encourages horrific acts. You convince yourself that it has to be okay and you can’t question it.

            That’s the attitude of someone who is afraid of a dictator.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Yes, that was our beloved mama cat, who passed from breast cancer.

            No I don’t claim that only wise people agree with me. Very many people with great intelligence don’t agree with me. What I said was, if you learn something from a person, it is “wise” (a good idea) to remember that they are human and thus not infallible.

            I went through your post and addressed each issue. As I got near the end, I realized that it was a waste of my time and yours and deleted it all. You will read into anything I say what you want it to say; what you need it to say to support your own viewpoint.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            EC, you said this “Yes, you can learn some things about God from people. If you are wise, you will remember that those things do come from people.”

            Again, there is no way for you to tell what comes from people and what from your god other than what you personally think is “godly” and as I have pointed out, most if not all theists do exactly that. In that you have no evidence for your god, the conclusion, and the good idea, is that everything comes from people and you don’t have to be wise to figure that out.

            If you wish to claim your bible is fallible because it was written by humans, then again, how does one decide what are the “good” parts? It seems only your opinion which differs from other theists who make the same claims as you. The other problem is why can’t an omniscient omnipotent god gets what it “really means across to people rather than let them insist that everyone else is wrong, up to the point that people kill each other over it.

            It’s great to claim that you had a great answer, but then supposedly decided to delete it all, because it was supposedly a waste of time. It is wishful thinking on your part, and a lie, when you try to claim that I would try to twist your words.

            It is unfortunate that you find you must make up such things to avoid a discussion. good bye

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Didn’t make anything up. Saved my analysis in case I ever have a discussion with someone who will at least try to comprehend something outside their own opinions.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            Hmmm.
            “I went through your post and addressed each issue. As I got near the end, I realized that it was a waste of my time and yours and deleted it all.”

            And then,

            “Didn’t make anything up. Saved my analysis in case I ever have a discussion with someone who will at least try to comprehend something outside their own opinions.”

            So, deleted and then saved….. which is it, WCS?

            I do comprehend your claims. I think that they are wrong and can demonstrate why that is. Just because someone doesn’t agree with you, WCS, doesn’t mean that they don’t comprehend what you are trying to claim. That’s a coward’s claim. You have proceeded to claim that you know what your god wants and what it thinks. You have claimed that one has to be intelligent to do this: ““Where intelligence is of benefit to a belief in God is to decipher what is from God and what is from Man.” My intelligence, looking at all of the evidence we have that your god doesn’t exist, has come to the conclusion that your god doesn’t exist and that there is a minute chance that any god does.

            Again, we have no evidence your god exists and that it acts like your version supposedly does. We have supposed ways right from the bible that says this is the way to tell if this god exists and those fail too. We have stories that this god is anything but loving. And we have no evidence that no other religion’s gods don’t exist from believers like you.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Cut from my response and pasted to a Note, which was then saved. This seems to be a pattern Nitpicking my writing rather than dealing with real issues. Reading into things that which supports your view rather than what it actually says. Holding onto a misinterpretation even when it is explained.

            You think my claims are wrong, and I am aware that you could be right. I think your claims are wrong, but I sense no willingness on your part to consider that there is any chance at all that you could be wrong. Furthermore, you seem intent on “proving me wrong” with a fervor which approaches that of a religious zealot, and I attempt to ignore them. You lump me with a whole class of people, some of whom are quite despicable, and I don’t like that any more than a racial minority likes being considered inferior strictly based on their race. Not “cowardness”, but a desire not to “waste my time” and keep the annoyance in my life to the minimum practical.

            I enjoy discussing things with people, and my hope is to learn something, and possibly even teach something. I’m not learning anything (new) from you, except that my writing style invites misinterpretation. It seems that you consider yourself “fully educated” on this subject and so there seems little chance that you will learn anything from me.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            provide evidence that my claims could be wrong, EC. Then I will consider it. The same as I would if I beleived in Santa Claus and you could show me that there is no jolly old elf at the North Pole.

            I know you do not like being lumped in with Christians you don’t agree with. Again, my point is that none of you have any evidence for your god, and as nice as you may be, there is no reason to believe any of you. In your post you said that one could distinguish was was from your god and what was from man. I am pointed out that your religion is faulty and that your claims are wrong.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            “Evidence” is a tricky concept. It is not guaranteed to be “true”, and even if it is true, cannot show something more certain than “beyond a reasonable doubt”. It is just barely adequate for a court of law. If either of us had “proof”, then I suspect we would not be in disagreement, but we don’t, and nobody else does either.

            Any person can list “evidence” to support their view, but all that leads to, in the courts and in life, is attacking the evidence. My evidence is largely based on personal experience, so is easily dismissed by anyone without similar experiences. Your evidence is more externally based, which should be an advantage, but is tainted by the “I think it is, so nothing else can be” and “it is so in this case, so must be so in all cases” attitudes.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            The concept of evidence is “tricky”? How? Evidence can be used to demonstrate if something is real or not. It depends on the type of evidence to whether it can show something to be more or less certain than a “reasonable doubt”. It is not “just barely adequate for a court of law”; it is what cases are based on.
            I know you have no evidence to support your claims. I have evidence that supports mine e.g. there is no evidence of any of the essential events in your bible. Nothing at all. No flood, no exodus, no jesus Christ miracle worker, no Paul who could also do miracles. Evidence of absence is indeed evidence of something that doesn’t exist if we can reasonably expect to find evidence for such things.
            No kidding, cases lead to attacking evidence of the other side. The question is: can that evidence withstand the attacks? Your evidence certainly is based on personal experience, so is the evidence of every theist, including those whom you are sure aren’t telling the truth. And no, EC, my evidence is not tainted by a viewpoint that I do not have and that you have created as a strawman to attack. Sorry, you are lying when you claim the following about me: “ “I think it is, so nothing else can be” and “it is so in this case, so must be so in all cases” attitudes.” Show me evidence that I am wrong. If you can’t, there is little reason to doubt the evidence I have.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            There have not been a significant number of cases where someone innocent has been convicted? Or someone guilty has been exonerated? I stand by my statement that it is “just barely adequate for the legal system”. In fact, I’ll go further and state that it is “inadequate, but the best we can implement”.

            Lying, no. Incorrect, possibly.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            No, there have not been a “significant” number, unless you wish to make the claim that the majority of people incarcerated are innocent. Do you?

            In the same vein, evidence supports scientific discovery and evidence demonstrates that the claims of theists are wrong. To say that it is “barely adequate” in the legal system, or in context, in the support of the existence of things, this is not true. You benefit repeatedly from research based on evidence.

            For example, there is no evidence of a magical flood as claimed by Christians and their bible. We do have evidence that other things happened instead e.g. regular old sedimentary layering, cultures who didn’t notice any flood, etc.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            I don’t say that evidence is of no value. It is just not “definitive”. Evidence can be incomplete, misinterpreted, and yes, even falsified. With care, it can be used to approach certainty; it just should not be given the same degree of weight as “proof”.

            What percentage of failure would it take for you to consider the “beyond a shadow of a doubt” to be a “significant” impact to the justice system? 51%? 10%? 1%? .1%? I don’t know the statistics, but I have heard of several cases where people have been proven to be innocent after serving long sentences. I’m sure every one of these people consider it “significant”. On the other hand, the very concept of protection to the accused insures that a significant number of guilty people do go free. Not that I disagree with these protections, as more innocents are saved by them than guilty people. The system is not perfect, but it seems the best we can manage.

            I don’t claim there was a “magical flood”, although “my” Bible does claim that. If there WAS a flood, it would HAVE to be magical. Imagine being able to collect a male and a female of “every” animal and fitting them all into a boat and them not killing each other to a noticeable degree. And having enough food for all of them So I don’t know if there was an actual flood as described, or the event was greatly exaggerated or even allegorical. That’s a trouble with the Bible, some things might be factual and others merely representative.

            For instance, the concept that everything was created in 6 contiguous 24 hour days. I actually know a guy who believes this because that is what the Bible seems to say. In order to avoid conflicting with scientific evidence and even itself, the Bible would have to be describing 6 widely variable epochs of time.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            I will address the rest of your comments later, but I did want to point out that yep, your bible does indeed say that there was a magical flood. It does indeed sound ridiculous when you spec out just what the bible claims. If you doubt the flood, why do you believe the more ridiculous claim of the resurrection?

            Like

          • equippedcat

            I don’t “doubt” the flood. I am just aware that it has not been proven, and so there is the possibility that the story was exaggerated, represented something else, or even was fictional.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            And again, I put to you that if you doubt one thing, or believe that it is exaggerated, a literary device or fictional, that is presented as literal truth in the bible, there is a problem with Christians claiming that there is some magical truth in the bible and that everyone should accept their claims. It underlines that the religion is built on opinion, nothing else.

            I am going to wrap this up here, EC, in deference to our hosts. I will not be addressing your last longer post but will on my blog if you wish it. If you wish to discuss things further, present any evidence for your claims, etc, you are more than welcome at my blog, club schadenfreude which you can find by clicking on my avatar.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Significant does not mean majority. It tends to mean significant in statistical terms which is often as low as 0.5%-5%. That might not be how equipped cat was using the term, and I have no desire to read through the discussion, but that statement is incorrect.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            agreed. we can see what EC meant.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            Well be careful with we, I can’t see what he meant because then I’d have to go through the back log and I’d rather write a new post. So you can see.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            understood. if you wish this to stop, please say so.

            Like

          • hessianwithteeth

            I don’t actully care much. Though the question I’d ask both of you is do you think your talking to each other, or passed each other? If it’s the latter then you may want to wrap it up.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            I think we are talking to each other, at least I am talking to EC. I will wrap this up.

            Liked by 1 person

          • clubschadenfreude

            And saying ” Your evidence is more externally based, which should be an advantage, but is tainted by the “I think it is, so nothing else can be” and “it is so in this case, so must be so in all cases” attitudes.” is certainly incorrect and when offered as truth, lying.

            Like

          • equippedcat

            Wouldn’t “lying” require an intent to deceive? If I say “x” and think it is so, I would not be lying, although I could be wrong. If I think “x” is NOT so, yet say it, then that would be lying.

            Like

          • clubschadenfreude

            yes, it would. And theists make baseless claims about atheists all of the time, in order to make atheists appear unreasonable. It appears this was your intent when claiming I believed something I did not in order to present my points as in error. Did you intend this?

            Like

          • equippedcat

            It was not my intent to make a “baseless claim”, but rather a claim it seemed to me at the time to be so. And even then it was not an attempt to belittle you, just an explanation why I wasn’t seeing the benefit in continuing whatever line of discussion we were having.

            Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      The diagram was only dealing with definitions. It wasn’t dealing with the nuances of why someone may or may not come to a particular belief system. For something like that, you really have to talk to each individual professing a particular belief.

      Like

  • Sue Vincent

    I agree with the previous comment, a well written and sensible post.

    I agree too that beliefs can be destroyed, just as they can be engendered or imposed; both of which I see as equally culpable. Faith however, to me is a different matter involving a purely personal relationship with whatever perception of divinity speaks to the heart, and one which may or may not be affiliated to any dogmatic teaching.

    I know many who speak of faith and follow its outer forms without ever trying to live its inner essence and many atheists who seek to express the highest aspects of humanity in their lives. I’d rather count the latter amongst my friends.

    You can count me as a gnostic theist… but that is a personal thing, as it should be for each of us.

    Like

  • saraharnetty

    That was a well written post. 🙂

    Like

  • Marigold

    Thanks for breaking it down and addressing the previous comments. We should have the freedom to believe what we want to believe, and not expect that people who are atheists are all the same. I didn’t know about Gnostic and agnostic differences, but I personally think that it’s wrong to say you ‘know’ that God exists, because how do you differentiate between knowledge of the heart and knowledge if the mind? Though maybe this is confusing for me because it is a new thought (to me). To me, God, gods and religion have always been about faith and belief, and I don’t see how knowing fits into that.

    Like

  • richardlwiseman

    It’s a sad fact that most human beings, theists or atheists, have no idea what it is that they actually believe. Many people believe in evolution, but have never read any of Darwin’s work and many people are Christians and yet have never read the Bible. J.S. Mill warns against the ‘…deep slumber of decided opinion…’ in ‘On Liberty’ and I am personally past the stage of even bothering to debate theological ideas with many people as it’s hard to get even past the basics, such as what is excellently explained in your blog entry above. Here’s a good question; as money can be shown not to actually exist is money then a religion or faith?

    Like

    • hessianwithteeth

      Well you don’t need to read any of Darwin’s work to know and understand evolution, the science has progressed a long way from Darwin, and is very much a separate entity now. I’ve only had a skim through the origin of spices, but I am very knowledgeable about evolution due to my over half decade of education in biology. Forexample Darwin had no knowledge of genetics which is pivotal to modern genetics.

      Though your over all point is sound, it is important to formulate your opinions based on a clear understandings, not just rhetoric and the authority others.

      Like

Tell us what you think

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: