I strikes me from time to time that, as thinkers, we can't also be atheists.

Literal atheism is untenable because we're assuming that we can prove a negative - which is clearly impossible.

That leaves us as agnostics a word I feels is associated with some rather "fence sitting" or woolly ideals.

So are we tied in knots here? Or is there a word which adequately describes us while at the same time demonstrates that we're not subject to the fallacy of "trying to prove a negative".

Tags: agnostic, agnostitism, atheism, english

Views: 144

Replies to This Discussion

Belief in the absence of gods is the position that might require proving a negative, but that isn't a good description of atheism. My point is that it's a false dichotomy to say that one must either believe that gods exist or believe that no gods exist. Lack of belief is a third option that describes many atheists well.
I often tell people that I don't believe anything, and I don't even believe that I don't believe anything. Keeping questions open, without a concern for answers, expands the context for life, oneself, and the Universe. At least, standing in open questions has expanded my scope and range. But then again, I don't even believe what I just wrote. Oh well. Never mind.
I've had that argument with myself over and over and over (and over again) and over for so long. Proving a negative is indeed the fly in the ointment, isn't it? But taking it further, I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I do, indeed, believe in that negative. I believe that there are no gods. By that same token, I also believe that there aren't any french-speaking jedi squirrels in the Universe, either. I'll go out on the proverbial limb and state that I absolutely believe that Tetris-playing bottles of Zima simply don't exist. I'm completely aware of the philosophical hump that exists with the 'neener neener, you can't prove that X -doesn't- exist' crowd (or even my fellow skeptics who, quite diplomatically, agree that a negative can't be verified). But I also feel that belief in supernatural beings who created everything is just kind of ass. Can we say that on here? I hope so. :)
I prefer absence of belief because "lack" implies that you want it. Just don't have it yet.
Good point, Susan! We are whole and complete Human Beings, lacking nothing. It is a common, romantic notion among believers that we are not whole, that we haven't suffered enough, or we are, in what seems to be a rather creepy sex fantasy, simply resisting the "touch of a loving god." Along with santa and the easter bunny, god is simply not a part of my belief/disbelief system. I am no more concerned with the existence or non-existence of a deity, than I am with Sean's "French-speaking Jedi squirrels." My life is complete without such nonsense.
What is this "lack" concept? I don't "lack" for belief in god or gods. I don't believe in god or gods. There is no compelling reason to believe in tooth fairies, pumpkin patch princes, the easter bunny, halloween goblins, wicked witches, or garden divas. There is no need to believe in god, yahweh, or allah.

I do believe in critical thinking, reasoning, standing up for my safety and rights, standing up for those who cannot or don't know how to stand up for themselves.

The things I learned from my family, my community, my education maintained and perpetuated my acquiescence to the needs of others. Serve! Submit! Yield! Obey! Turn the other cheek! Crucify myself and rejoice in my crucifixion.

Well, you know that is about as sick and distorted as one can get. I had to unlearn those behaviors and realize I have a right to be safe in my own home, community, culture and world. Sure, I have to speak up and speak out, but they are small prices to pay for being a participant in all this magnificent universe in which I reside.
Looks like I planted those goddamn pumpkins for nothing! Thanks, Joan. Thanks a lot.
That's often true, but what then does deficiency imply? It's not a judgment of value, only that something is missing which is present in most cases. Lack of character, intelligence, and money all seem bad because those are qualities that we desire. In pseudo economic terms, character, intelligence and money are goods, despite two out of three being intangible. Lack of belief, addiction, or tails implies a deficiency but I don't see any of these lacks as inferior to having.
I think this is a bit valid question and we should all ponder over it and should coin some new substitute word. First of all, one can say, " I believe in God" but I can not say "I do not believe in God"... In this case, both would become in equal but opposite. It means God is there... but I do not believe that..

So my contention is that believers can say they believe in God but we so called 'nonbeliever' can not say we do not believe in God as our stance is, there is simply no such thing as god in the universe. So there is no question of believing or disbelieving.... as to our understanding.

So why should we have some kind of label in their comparison. Belief is only can be when that thing is not existed. If anyone says I believe in Sun. because Sun is there so nobobdy need to believe or disbelieve on sun. Since there is no god, so believers have to 'believe' in it.. Otherwise if there would had been really a something like that god in the world, then, there would had been no question of theism or atheism.. believing or disbelieving. God would had been there in the front of whole humanity as a matter of fact..

So let the believers be theist why we call ourselves as atheist....in their contrast.

The term Atheism leads us somewhere which is not correctly express the correct matter of fact...

I would love to have comments from the friends..
When I say I am an atheist, i mean exactly "I do not believe in a god." I'm not claiming I know there are no gods, I'm just saying I don't believe in any. My reasoning for this is a complete lack of evidence for any gods. The reason I can't reject it and say "no gods exist" is that everyone has a different definition of a god, and many people's definitions require or call for the lack of evidence. In those cases, I have no rational basis to reject those gods, but I also have no rational basis to accept them either. In that case, I live my life as though they do not exist, but I would never claim I know they don't exist.

"Belief" is a sticky word. Some people use the word belief and believe in the context of faith-based issues. Other people use belief in a much more general terminology. Some would say knowledge is justified true belief. Therefore, everything you accept, you believe. That doesn't mean it is knowledge, and it doesn't mean it is faith-based. So, understand that people may be using belief in a different way as you, and the definition of atheism as "no belief in gods" is a use of belief different than the one you are using.
I am most assuredly missing something. Who wants to be a member of any group, especially if being a member requires one to agree to believing in a god, or believing in no god? Why would one want to be a member of a secular humanist organization unless it is to mobilize support for a point of view? I certainly recognize no benefit to me to be a member of any group, unless it is to be a part of a community. I "belong" to a group of women who have met together for more than 20 years; we come together because of friendship, expressing ideas in a safe place, exploring and experimenting with ideas, and we come from about as wide a political and philosophical traditions as one can imagine.

Let me give you an example: I express my compassion out of concern and care for others, not because I am taught to care; my friend expresses her compassion out of care and concern for others because it is part of her Swedish religious upbringing. We have a common cause, we share concern, we express the basis of our concerns based on different motivations and the discussion is brisk and lively. We are not enemies, or we do not argue, we express ourselves from our different perspectives. Is she a Swedish Christian and I an international freethinker? Perhaps, but does it matter?
How interesting, Fred! I had not made that connection, even in the many discussions my friend and I have. I know my friend is very proud of her Swedish heritage, from taking care of the young, old, infirm, and prisoners to the wonderful foods she prepares for our weekly pot-lucks, to the very Swedish decor of her home and garden. She exemplifies the best in cultural heritage.

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