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The language game (revisited)

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The language game (revisited)
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borrofburiModeratorPosts: 3527Joined: Sun Jul 26, 2009 5:27 pm Gender: Male

Post The language game (revisited)

Browsing around, I found a discussion in which someone claimed that "atheism is the route of not-thinking". Of course, it turned out to be a person with the following views (I suppose this means he thinks the "correct" position is "agnostic" according to his definitions):

Here's the thing with atheism that everybody seems to not get. Everyone instantly thinks atheism is a rejection of religion or any claim of God, which isn't exactly true.

Before you even answer, "Is there a God?" you have to ask, "Can this question be answered?" There's three possible answers to that: Yes, no, and maybe. If you say no or maybe, that means you're agnostic. It has nothing to do with claiming there is a God or not, it's simple the belief that the answer cannot be provided. If you say the question can be answered, then you move onto the next question: Is there a God? Which can be broken down into different subgroups like theistic, atheistic, and mysticism. A theistic belief is that you can answer the question and that there is, indeed, a God. An atheistic belief is the complete opposite. Which means you would be claiming you can answer that question and that there is no God at all. If you say, "Well, with proof otherwise," is bullshit because that doesn't make you atheist, it makes you AGNOSTIC. Mysticism really has nothing to do with any of this, so I'll just stop there.


My wonder is how any of us can have decent discussions on the topic of god when none of us can agree on the definitions? It seems to me that no matter who is talking, the definitions of "atheist" and "agnostic" are never agreed upon.
Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:33 pm
AndiferousUser avatarPosts: 2727Joined: Mon Jan 04, 2010 7:00 amLocation: Laputa Gender: Time Lord

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

I suspect most Atheists accept the idea that Atheism encompasses a spectrum of disbelief from "I can prove it" to "I don't care." Perhaps it is in peoples' nature to categorise it as if it were a "belief" in itself, but I suspect it defies those very definitions precisely because it not a belief, and therefore a very different approach from what we define as "theism." I suppose agnosticism throws another wrench in the works, as one could technically be Agnostic and Atheist at the same time...?
"As there seemed no measure between what Watt could understand, and what he could not, so there seemed none between what he deemed certain, and what he deemed doubtful."
~ Samuel Beckett, Watt
Sun Apr 25, 2010 7:54 pm
masterjedijaredUser avatarPosts: 154Joined: Sun Jan 10, 2010 12:34 pmLocation: Cleveland, Ohio Gender: Male

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

I would say we could always stick to the construction of the words themselves.

A-theism: not-god, or the 'no god' perspective

A-gnosticism: not-knowing, or the 'I'm not sure/I don't know' perspective.

This is just my view and my be a tad simplistic...
Mon Apr 26, 2010 2:35 am
Lurking_LogicUser avatarPosts: 103Joined: Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:25 am Gender: Male

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

If you say no or maybe, that means you're agnostic.

Actually unless I am gravely mistaken it doesn't mean that
If the definition of God is indeed incoherant (And thus making the question unanswerable) then you can still be atheist
1/I believe the Definition of God is Incoherent
2/I reject all known definitions (Coherent or not) that pertain to the existence of "God"
3/I am an atheist to all known definitions of God (Believing that no God actually exists)

None are exclusive or contradictory
Therefore the mere fact that you reject the idea of a coerent definition of God doesn't mean you cannot hold to the position that it doesn't exist on the basis of what actual definitions have been presented to you
In fact for me I would count the fact that he cannot even be defined as proof of non-existance of any entity we could call God (Can you really believe that what you cannot define? or even be unsure of it?)
Without a definition you cannot believe in God
Therefore you are an Atheist (Belief in no God or Gods)
"What a book a devil's chaplain might write on the clumsy, wasteful, blundering, low and horribly cruel works of nature."
Charles Darwin
Mon Apr 26, 2010 7:25 am
e2iPiUser avatarPosts: 648Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:40 amLocation: Deltax Deltap>~h/(4 pi) Gender: Cake

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

I hate this debate because it is completely pointless. The concepts of agnosticism and atheism encompass completely different realms of thought. Let's explore this for a moment.

Agnostic is derived from the Greek, gnosis meaning "knowledge." The prefix "a" in Greek denotes the concept of "without." Therefore, agnostic means "without knowledge." Specifically in its modern usage, it refers to knowledge of a deity. Someone who is agnostic is of the opinion that the question "does god exist" cannot, even in principal, be answered.

Atheism is also derived from the Greek "theos" meaning "god." Again, the prefix "a" has the same meaning as in the previous definition. So, one who is an atheist is, by definition, "without god." Again, in modern usage it denotes someone who does not believe in the existence of a god or gods.

So, one word, agnostic, defines a belief about the ability to obtain knowledge. The other refers to one's personal belief about deities.

It is possible to be an agnostic atheist or an agnostic theist. In fact, many theists believe that the question of god's existence is essentially unknowable.

-1
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
-George Bernard Shaw
Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:18 am
DurakkenPosts: 682Joined: Mon Jun 08, 2009 8:02 am

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

I've already explained it. No one listens. People are stupid and I think they like being that way.
Mon Apr 26, 2010 9:50 am
e2iPiUser avatarPosts: 648Joined: Wed Jun 24, 2009 12:40 amLocation: Deltax Deltap>~h/(4 pi) Gender: Cake

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

Durakken wrote:I've already explained it. No one listens. People are stupid and I think they like being that way.

I will never understand that.
"The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it."
-George Bernard Shaw
Tue Apr 27, 2010 8:13 am
theatheistguyUser avatarPosts: 424Joined: Sun Mar 15, 2009 4:26 amLocation: Lisburn, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

Etymology

a- meaning without
anti- meaning opposition to/opposite of
theos meaning deity
gnosis meaning knowledge
-ism meaning position, belief, action, etc

Therefore:
theism (theos-ism) is the belief in a deity
atheism (a-theos-ism) is the lack of belief in a deity
anti-theism (anti-theos-ism) is either the belief there are no deities or opposition to the belief in deities
gnosticism (gnosis-ism) is knowledge of (in this case) a deity
agnosticism (a-gnosis-ism) is the lack of knowledge of (in this case) a deity

Though I've never heard the term, I suppose one could be an anti-gnostic, either having the knowledge that deities do not exist, or opposing the knowledge of a deity.

It is possible to be an agnostic, atheist, anti-theist (like myself) or an agnostic theist, these are not mutually exclusive terms, and agnosticism is not halfway between atheism and theism, they're completely different things (one dealing with knowledge, the other, belief).
"If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe."
"It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring. "
-Carl Sagan
Mon May 03, 2010 7:58 am
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monitoradiationPosts: 566Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:05 pm

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

borrofburi wrote:Before you even answer, "Is there a God?" you have to ask, "Can this question be answered?" There's three possible answers to that: Yes, no, and maybe. If you say no or maybe, that means you're agnostic.


Uh, no...

Three possible answers:

Yes means theist.
No means strong atheist.
Maybe means atheist.

The question is worded wrong because it's asked in the context of knowledge. So the answers will be gnostic theist, gnostic atheist, or agnostic.
Mon May 03, 2010 8:26 am
nasher168League LegendUser avatarPosts: 2518Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 5:34 pmLocation: Derby, UK Gender: Male

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

monitoradiation wrote:
Yes means theist.
No means strong atheist.
Maybe means atheist.

The question is worded wrong because it's asked in the context of knowledge. So the answers will be gnostic theist, gnostic atheist, or agnostic.


Maybe could mean agnostic theist as well.
Maybe-but probably not means most atheists.
A great Charity
Apologies for my absence of late.
Mon May 03, 2010 9:57 am
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monitoradiationPosts: 566Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 11:05 pm

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

nasher168 wrote:Maybe could mean agnostic theist as well.
Maybe-but probably not means most atheists.


If the definition of theist is someone who accepts the claim that a god exists, then someone who answers "maybe" to that claim is an atheist.

Though I do take your point, and I've addressed that in the second sentence where I stated that the question being posed is one about knowledge.
Tue May 04, 2010 2:19 am
RichardMNixonUser avatarPosts: 1047Joined: Thu Jul 30, 2009 8:45 pmLocation: USA Gender: Pinecone

Post Re: The language game (revisited)

monitoradiation wrote:
Yes means theist.
No means strong atheist.
Maybe means atheist.


Yeah, this is as traditionally used (though I agree with Nasher that agnostic theists could well exist), otherwise Dawkins and Hitchens wouldn't be atheists either. You can't disprove god anymore than you can disprove Last Thursdayism. If only strong atheists are atheists it becomes a pretty useless word.
"When I come to my own beliefs, I find myself quite unable to discern any purpose in the universe, and still more unable to wish to discern one." ~ Bertrand Russell
"If we do not succeed, we run the risk of failure." ~ Dan Quayle
Tue May 04, 2010 2:25 am
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