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: 151

Replies to This Discussion

Then I postulate, if I may, that on this scale we are hereby know as "sixth" or A6ists - which almost works. ;-)

What Dawkins calls "de facto" describes me rather well, but I cringe a being called atheist because, as Dawkins has shown (perhaps unwittingly) level 7 atheism leaves us open to criticism of the same variety that could be leveled at at level 1.

Most theists I have met would put themselves firmly in position 1.

Perhaps for Level 6, one could be infinitely close to non-belief; which leaves us an infinitely small amount of "wiggle room" but still allows for the logical (if implausible) possibility that god exists.

I would guess you'd fall into that camp, Samantha, and as would most thinking athesists - it's just that the language is rather too woolly to encompass this in a word.
It is very easy to prove the negative....No 'good' being would want to be worshiped! Narcissistic beings want to be worshiped not loving ones. The more loving a being is the more selfless it is. How then can a perfectly loving being such as a supposed god want also to be worshiped? The very concept of god is self-contradictory. A 'good' being that wants to be worshiped is the oxymoron of all oxymorons. Q.E.D.
But isn't an argument based on presuppositions of 'good' and whatever that means, the same argument people offer for the existence of a personal deity? There remains no proof — not even probative evidence — for or against the existence of a god or gods or godlike beings. It is very easy to see, if one is willing, how gods were created by believers, but that doesn't constitute proof. Archibald MacLeish's oft-quoted verse from his play 'JB' (based on the biblical story of Job), is similar to Your argument: "If God is God, He is not good. If God is good, He is not God," and includes the same logical fallacy of "goodness" or lack thereof.
You appear to be confused about the difference between narcissism and love.
The issue I have with this kind of discussion is similar to something I saw in another thread about altruism and cooperation. Altruism was 'defined' as pure, non-individualistic reasons for doing something and cooperation was something less than that. There was some back and forth on the chicken and egg problem of whether altruism was the basis of cooperation or whether cooperation lead to the concept of altruism.

Since any useful conversation about gods is about the possible interaction of the (possible) supernatural with the natural, it is about the world. Is there anything physically in the world that is 100% _______ (you get to fill in the blank?)

Most mathematics doesn't count because it is not in the world except as the content of concepts held by beings in the natural world. There are copious connections, of course, between these concepts and real objects.

If 'a difference is a difference that makes a difference' (which I subscribe to), the difference between 99.99999999999999999% and 100.0% certainty does not make a difference.
This is one of logic, Glenn.

(Although I really must get some sleep, I will attempt to clarify).

in very broad terms we are either theist or atheist - which is to say we believe or we don't. Pascal's Wager uses this logic (and distorts it) to convince us that it's better to believe than it is not to.

I work a lot with simple computers: binary logic like this everywhere; the middle ground is fraught with uncertainty so computers don't like that.

To be a theist, we must convince ourselves that something that we cannot prove by any known means is real in some supernatural sense. To the theist, the atheist is dogmatically opposed to that view - the atheist knows that there is NO god.

This is dangerous because since we can't prove a negative; only disprove a positive, we're left in potentially tenuous position.

Dogma and certainty belong to the deluded (on both sides of the coin.)

I'm a six.
To be a theist, we must convince ourselves that something that we cannot prove by any known means is real in some supernatural sense.

In other words, they are trying to convince themselves that something unprovable is real. Which is exactly what someone has to do with #7.

BTW -- Godel proved that there are things which are true that cannot be proved. So, in essence, he proved that "for some X, you will not be able to prove it." That sure sounds like proving a negative.
Not come across Godel but that should make interesting reading.

Surely though, "prove" and "negative" are mutually exclusive in this regard?
The Wiki: Godel's Incompleteness Theorems

In essence, [t]he first incompleteness theorem states that no consistent system of axioms whose theorems can be listed by an "effective procedure" (essentially, a computer program) is capable of proving all facts about the natural numbers. For any such system, there will always be statements about the natural numbers that are true, but that are unprovable within the system. The second incompleteness theorem shows that if such a system is also capable of proving certain basic facts about the natural numbers, then one particular arithmetic truth the system cannot prove is the consistency of the system itself.
Kurt Gödel and his Incompleteness Theorems, which in part states that the consistency of the axioms within a computable axiomatic system are not provable within that system. This may explain the difficulty in either proving or disproving any kind of deity from within our time and matter system. Gödel, a notable Philosopher of Logic, produced some dry reading.
Wow! Such clear thinking... and a hornet's nest, too.

I like Freethinker - it's about the most pithy one we have right now - but it doesn't quite fit with the "6" on the scale below. As an interesting aside, when I'm writing elsewhere I have often identified myself with the nomdeplume "six" - which is an interesting coincidence given the scale, Samantha posted earlier.

I love you guys - please keep this coming, it's an area that I personally feel is important (to me, that is) so I can identify as a thinker - not an atheist sheep which is as bad as being an gnostic one!


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