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Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

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Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief
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Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

Aught3 wrote:Not likely :D How can one know that an unknown god is, in fact, unknowable? :ugeek:
lightbulbsun88 wrote:Huh? :D

Well agnosticism means that you think a god is not simply unknown but unknowable , right?

If you don't know this god, or anything about it, how can you claim that it is unknowable?
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Thu May 14, 2009 11:35 pm
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OzymandyusUser avatarPosts: 986Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

Well, if you are atheist you don't believe in ANY gods. Many of us know of some of descriptions of Gods that are out there are completely unknowable, so we are agnostic about those. Examples would be creator gods that merely set the universe in motion and haven't interacted since.

On the other hand, I am gnostic about certain Gods such as those residing on mount Olympus. I've seen pictures, and they are no where to be found.
And in an instant all progress towards the sublime, the great and enduring in man fell away and became a monkey's trick.
Thu May 14, 2009 11:46 pm
lightbulbsun88User avatarPosts: 82Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:47 amLocation: New York

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

Aught3 wrote:Well agnosticism means that you think a god is not simply unknown but unknowable , right?

If you don't know this god, or anything about it, how can you claim that it is unknowable?


Agnosticism means "without knowledge." So an agnostic atheist would most likely state "I don't know if there is a God, but I believe there is no God." I guess it's more synonymous with ignorance than unknowable?
Fri May 15, 2009 3:49 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

lightbulbsun88 wrote:an agnostic atheist would most likely state "I don't know if there is a God, but I believe there is no God."
No, an agnostic atheist would state 'I can't know if there is a god, but I don't believe that a god exists'.

lightbulbsun88 wrote:I guess it's more synonymous with ignorance than unknowable?
If it's synonymous with ignorance then it is a completely unnecessary word, if it refers to the fact that you can't know anything for certain, well fine, but it's not exclusive to god and people don't need to use it when talking about gods.

Ozymandyus wrote:Well, if you are atheist you don't believe in ANY gods.
That's not so, you can only be an atheist to a particular god concept. To say you reject all gods a priori is illogical.

Ozymandyus wrote:Many of us know of some of descriptions of Gods that are out there are completely unknowable
If they are unknowable, how do you know anything about them?
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Fri May 15, 2009 4:10 am
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PuppetXenoPosts: 131Joined: Sun Feb 22, 2009 1:23 amLocation: out there

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

How about believing that nothing exists that deserves to be called "god"? Even if something of superior intelligence & technology and what have you, shows up, calls itself Yahweh and explains one or two things about the true course of earth's history. "Ahh, so you are the one people have been calling god all this time!" "Yes, punk, and i've prepared a special place for you and your 'kind'".

I'd still think it's an alien of some sorts...The term "god" is a dead stop. I'm a nontheist, I don't think anything should be labelled "god" or "divine", whatever freaky things may occur. That makes me atheist regarding a number of god concepts, but as far as agnostic goes, "god is unkown/unknowable"; no - I don't think anything should be labelled god, so whatever is unknown/unknowable is something that has yet to be defined when it becomes known, or is not worth investigating if it is unknowable.
Fri May 15, 2009 6:35 am
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

PuppetXeno wrote:How about believing that nothing exists that deserves to be called "god"? Even if something of superior intelligence & technology and what have you, shows up, calls itself Yahweh and explains one or two things about the true course of earth's history. "Ahh, so you are the one people have been calling god all this time!" "Yes, punk, and i've prepared a special place for you and your 'kind'".

I'd still think it's an alien of some sorts...The term "god" is a dead stop. I'm a nontheist, I don't think anything should be labelled "god" or "divine", whatever freaky things may occur. That makes me atheist regarding a number of god concepts, but as far as agnostic goes, "god is unkown/unknowable"; no - I don't think anything should be labelled god, so whatever is unknown/unknowable is something that has yet to be defined when it becomes known, or is not worth investigating if it is unknowable.
Yes, I think I agree. There are certain characteristics that a god has to have in order to not be (say) an alien and actually be a god. The only ones I can think of centre around being part of myth or legend and possessing magical powers - plainly ridiculous. As soon as you can explain it, it is no longer a god. If it was unknowable in the first place, then you couldn't know anything about it. I like the term nontheist - maybe I will adopt it.

What is it about a god that makes it a god? It's perfection isn't it? That's why we hear so many omni- descriptions, however some of those plainly contradict with themselves and reality.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Fri May 15, 2009 6:51 am
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Th1sWasATriumphLeague LegendUser avatarPosts: 415Joined: Sat Feb 21, 2009 12:24 amLocation: About two feet behind AndromedasWake, with a brick in a sock

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

lightbulbsun88 wrote:Th1sWasATriumph, agnosticism has nothing to do with fence-sitting.


You've misunderstood me. My point was that some agnostics are the genuine fence-sitters, and I have a real issue with such people - agnostic, to the great unwashed, often means someone who is unable to make up their mind rather than someone who is logically obliged to concede the slim chance of God. I'm fully aware that I'm technically agnostic (which you'd have realised I was aware of if from reading my other posts, of course.)
An omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent God would know exactly why I don't believe in him, but would send me to hell regardless. Have I just described your God?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pwah_9O_4i4
Fri May 15, 2009 11:17 am
OzymandyusUser avatarPosts: 986Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

Aught3 wrote:That's not so, you can only be an atheist to a particular god concept. To say you reject all gods a priori is illogical.

Believe it or not, when you state that you are atheist you are stating that you lack a belief in all commonly defined Gods. If you are not making this statement, then you are not an atheist - you are simply someone who specifically doesn't believe in the Christian God, or the Roman Gods, or what have you. A christian doesn't call himself an atheist broadly - as we do - he refers to himself as a theist. In common language, it means something - you believe in a particular God concept or you don't believe in any particular God concepts that you know of.

Theism has a meaning, and though you might not know all possible definitions of the Gods to be believed in there are certain things that Must be true for it to be considered a God. This includes a reference to supernaturalism, to ultimate power, and to a willed being. Any being that does not have at minimum these three traits cannot be considered a God. I don't believe in anything that has these three traits. If someone misidentifies a lamp as a God and is just talking about a lamp, that is them misapplying the title, not a problem with your denial of Gods. You don't suddenly stop believing in lamps.

If they are unknowable, how do you know anything about them?

Unknowable, in this context means unable to have evidence gathered about them, unable to be proven to exist. Unknowable in the agnostic sense of unknowable does not claim that we have no IDEA - just that the idea we have is unable to be proven. I know about them because they are asserted as ideas. Ideas don't have to be Known or knowable to be asserted and believed in - they can just be made up on the spot.
And in an instant all progress towards the sublime, the great and enduring in man fell away and became a monkey's trick.
Fri May 15, 2009 5:06 pm
lightbulbsun88User avatarPosts: 82Joined: Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:47 amLocation: New York

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

Th1sWasATriumph wrote: I'm fully aware that I'm technically agnostic (which you'd have realised I was aware of if from reading my other posts, of course.)


I apologize for the misunderstanding.
Fri May 15, 2009 7:33 pm
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

Ozymandyus wrote:Believe it or not, when you state that you are atheist you are stating that you lack a belief in all commonly defined Gods.
That sounds similar to what I was saying, you can't be an atheist with respect to a particular god if it hasn't been defined.

Ozymandyus wrote:you are simply someone who specifically doesn't believe in the Christian God, or the Roman Gods
You would be an atheist with respect to the christian god or an atheist with respect to the Roman gods. Unless you believe in all gods, even theists are atheist with respect to the gods they do not believe in.

Ozymandyus wrote:If someone misidentifies a lamp as a God and is just talking about a lamp, that is them misapplying the title, not a problem with your denial of Gods. You don't suddenly stop believing in lamps.
Right, but what about the ornate totem pole labeled as god? With respect to that particular god I can see that it does exist. I don't believe the claim that it is supernatural or has ultimate power. It changes from 'I don't believe your god exists' to 'I don't believe X is god'.

Ozymandyus wrote:Unknowable, in this context means unable to have evidence gathered about them, unable to be proven to exist.
Which makes it a totally useless concept. There is nothing that exists which, in principle, couldn't have evidence gathered about it. Maybe we're not technologically there or it might be impractical to do it, but to claim that something is totally unknowable before you even start looking is foolish.

Ozymandyus wrote:Unknowable in the agnostic sense of unknowable does not claim that we have no IDEA - just that the idea we have is unable to be proven. I know about them because they are asserted as ideas. Ideas don't have to be Known or knowable to be asserted and believed in - they can just be made up on the spot
Right, the claim is that we have some idea of a god, but that god is completely unknowable. How could you possibly get the idea for this unknowable god in the first place? Any characteristics or actions that you give to it would immediately contradict its unknowability.
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Fri May 15, 2009 10:33 pm
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OzymandyusUser avatarPosts: 986Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

Aught3 wrote:That sounds similar to what I was saying, you can't be an atheist with respect to a particular god if it hasn't been defined.
But your requirement of a PARTICULAR god concept whenever we talk about atheism flies in the face of what we mean when we say 'I am an atheist.' In your case you would have to make a case by case claim which would be a very useless way of trying to talk about it. Instead we are talking broadly about ALL GODS and then, if needed, we can clarify what we mean by Gods. Generally speaking, people mean the same thing when using words, and the PARTICULAR gods that you require to talk about it require an extra adjective... Christian God, Buddhist God. I am not just claiming I'm A-buddhist, I am A-theist.

God HAS been defined, and everything that falls under that definition which atheism rejects.

Aught3 wrote:You would be an atheist with respect to the christian god or an atheist with respect to the Roman gods. Unless you believe in all gods, even theists are atheist with respect to the gods they do not believe in.


You could say that, but it would be mostly wrong. What you are accurately trying to say is that you are abuddhist, or aromangodist (whatever that word is). Saying you are 'atheist with respect to something' it is a really long and easily misunderstood way of saying it, which is why you almost never hear a theist say this. They always believe in God, they don't trust certain people's definitions of Him. Atheist includes ALL definitions of Gods in its meaning. Yes someone could try to redefine theism to include sticks and rocks and laugh at you for not believing in sticks and rocks... but that makes Them wrong, not you.

Aught3 wrote: Right, but what about the ornate totem pole labeled as god? With respect to that particular god I can see that it does exist. I don't believe the claim that it is supernatural or has ultimate power. It changes from 'I don't believe your god exists' to 'I don't believe X is god'.
You know as well as I do that they are not calling the pole itself God. Don't be confused about that, you would be completely misinterpretting their statement. They are not calling the physical totem pole God, they are saying that a metaphysical state inhabits that totem pole and THAT is God.

Aught3 wrote:Which makes it a totally useless concept. There is nothing that exists which, in principle, couldn't have evidence gathered about it. Maybe we're not technologically there or it might be impractical to do it, but to claim that something is totally unknowable before you even start looking is foolish. Right, the claim is that we have some idea of a god, but that god is completely unknowable. How could you possibly get the idea for this unknowable god in the first place? Any characteristics or actions that you give to it would immediately contradict its unknowability.
First, agnostic implies possible unknowability, sorry that I misrepresented that part to you. It more importantly just means unknown at this time and is generally is not making the claim that it is completely impossible to be known. You get the idea for an unknown and possibly unknowable God by misinterpreting facts or imagining, the same way you come up with any idea. I should add that usually the agnostic claim of unknowability refers to a strict definition of knowledge as absolute certainty - which even clear evidence cannot provide.

I can, by the way, easily create a God that is completely unknowable. Fred is an all powerful being that is very shy. He will never, under any circumstances, with any technology, allow anything about himself to be discovered by human beings. His name, of course, isn't really fred, thats just what we call him. Or it. The characteristics that I gave it CONFIRM its unknowability. Many God concepts with references to its believers being tested, and Must have faith, Have this very attribute.
And in an instant all progress towards the sublime, the great and enduring in man fell away and became a monkey's trick.
Fri May 15, 2009 11:41 pm
Aught3ModeratorUser avatarPosts: 4290Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:36 amLocation: New Zealand Gender: Male

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

Ozymandyus wrote:But your requirement of a PARTICULAR god concept whenever we talk about atheism flies in the face of what we mean when we say 'I am an atheist.' In your case you would have to make a case by case claim which would be a very useless way of trying to talk about it. Instead we are talking broadly about ALL GODS and then, if needed, we can clarify what we mean by Gods. Generally speaking, people mean the same thing when using words, and the PARTICULAR gods that you require to talk about it require an extra adjective... Christian God, Buddhist God. I am not just claiming I'm A-buddhist, I am A-theist.
Saying that you are an atheist is absolutely meaningless in the absence of a concept of god. If a particular theist claims to believe in an all-encompassing god-concept then I accept that someone could say they are an atheist with respect to this all encompassing god. But different theists have different concepts of what god is. We should, and do, make a case by case claim for our atheism. If there were no god-concepts technically everyone would be atheist, but when a god is advanced we should listen to that idea and not reject it out of hand. I think the most it is intellectually acceptable to say is; atheists do not believe in any of the gods that they have heard of so far. The number of god-concepts that you have heard about could be zero and you would still be an atheist.

Ozymandyus wrote:God HAS been defined, and everything that falls under that definition which atheism rejects.
Atheism rejects the belief in gods not the idea of a god. Many theists will result in many different definitions of god.

Ozymandyus wrote:What you are accurately trying to say is that you are abuddhist, or aromangodist (whatever that word is). Saying you are 'atheist with respect to something' it is a really long and easily misunderstood way of saying it, which is why you almost never hear a theist say this. They always believe in God, they don't trust certain people's definitions of Him. Atheist includes ALL definitions of Gods in its meaning.
Theists rarely belief in an all-encompassing notion of god, instead they stick to a specific, personal interpretations of god. They will say they are a christian, or a muslim, or a hindu and tell you specifics about the god(s) they believe in. Atheism is necessarily a response to these claims; it says that we don't believe that what they are saying reflects reality. It is not the a priori assumption that they are wrong before they even define god. To do so is to close your mind to any evidence that may some along for such a being. I agree that calling sticks and rocks god is to misuse words; we already have descriptions for those things, but aside from contradictory gods there is no reason a god could not exist and one day be discovered.

Ozymandyus wrote:First, agnostic implies possible unknowability, sorry that I misrepresented that part to you. It more importantly just means unknown at this time and is generally is not making the claim that it is completely impossible to be known. You get the idea for an unknown and possibly unknowable God by misinterpreting facts or imagining, the same way you come up with any idea. I should add that usually the agnostic claim of unknowability refers to a strict definition of knowledge as absolute certainty - which even clear evidence cannot provide.
I don't see how you can be saying this and still claiming that agnosticism is a useful term, or valid position. Possible unknowability is meaningless. Either you know something about X, in which case X is knowable (at least in part); or you know nothing about X, in which case you can't say anything about X because you do not even know if X is knowable or unknowable. You cannot know that something is totally unknowable, but this is what agnosticism claims.

Ozymandyus wrote:I can, by the way, easily create a God that is completely unknowable. Fred is an all powerful being that is very shy. He will never, under any circumstances, with any technology, allow anything about himself to be discovered by human beings. His name, of course, isn't really fred, thats just what we call him. Or it. The characteristics that I gave it CONFIRM its unknowability. Many God concepts with references to its believers being tested, and Must have faith, Have this very attribute.
Apart from being shy (which I assume is metaphorical) how is Fred distinct from nothing?
Wanderer, there is no path, the path is made by walking.
Sat May 16, 2009 3:51 am
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OzymandyusUser avatarPosts: 986Joined: Sat Mar 28, 2009 8:02 pm

Post Re: Agnosticism > Atheism / Non-Knowledge > Non-Belief

You are WAY off track of what I'm saying. Apparently I'm not clear enough... ah well. I am not talking about people believing in an all-encompassing God, I am saying the word God is a category under which all God definitions fall. It has an overarching meaning that applies to all God conceptions. It is this known over-arching meaning of God that isn't believed by an atheist.

When you say you are an atheist you are making a claim that you do not believe in any Gods. God has a categorical meaning(a meaning present in anything that can be called a God); you can learn that meaning and then declare that anything that includes that meaning is something you don't believe in. To add 'that I'm aware of' or 'with respect to Christian God, Buddhist God, etc etc etc' to such a statement is redundant - everything we say has these implications attached to them. When you say 'I've never been out of the country' you don't have to say, 'not to Ireland, or Switzerland, or China...' nor do you have to say 'if by country you mean these things in the world that have boundaries and governments set up over them'. Nor when someone asks you if you've ever been to the country Uzbekistan, which you've never heard of, would you suddenly not be able to say if you've been there until they tell you what Uzbekistan is like. All of these things are implied. When you want to discuss particular beliefs, you may have to go over the definitions, but you can still make the statement and have it apply to God conceptions you are unaware of (as with countries you do not know about).

Aught3 wrote: I don't see how you can be saying this and still claiming that agnosticism is a useful term, or valid position. Possible unknowability is meaningless. Either you know something about X, in which case X is knowable (at least in part); or you know nothing about X, in which case you can't say anything about X because you do not even know if X is knowable or unknowable. You cannot know that something is totally unknowable, but this is what agnosticism claims.
First, I never claimed agnostic was a very useful as a technical term. That is simply its meaning - not all words are terribly useful. However, the 'fence sitting' meaning of agnostic is its colloquial meaning, and I have no problem with people using it that way as long as they know what they are saying.

Secondly, You are using a very loose definition of known/knowable here, which is probably why you are getting so mixed up with this ideas=knowable thing. Just having a random thought about something does not mean you Know anything about it. Knowing requires Evidence. Ideas are not evidence. If you get caught up with this ideas=knowing something thing you are going to get Really confused. You cannot know anything until you test it and see substantial evidence, and even then you should have Some doubt probably. But, generally speaking, anything which we can theorize, test and gather evidence for is knowable. I can still be personally agnostic about it, as agnostic can encompass both the unknown and knowable or the unknown and unknowable. Some people think you can't know anything at all, but I disregard such thinking personally as I agree thats its useless.

Aught3 wrote:Apart from being shy (which I assume is metaphorical) how is Fred distinct from nothing?

What do you mean how is Fred distinct from nothing? He may have all kinds of characteristics I don't know about, and all kinds of hobbies, might be all the colors of the rainbow. I can't possibly know because he will never reveal himself to me in any way.
And in an instant all progress towards the sublime, the great and enduring in man fell away and became a monkey's trick.
Sat May 16, 2009 6:20 am
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