fw: does atheism seek to prove that god isn't (in Debates)

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] February 10 2010 10:05 AM EST

I recently made a post asking folks to post a simple summary of their personal ideology. Sut being the awesome orator he is could not let a statement I made about atheism stand without a response. Below is his reply.

novice, I had to point out that this simply is not true, on the whole.

First line from Wikipedia:

Atheism, defined most narrowly, is the position that there are no deities.[1] More broadly defined, it is the rejection of belief in the existence of any deities, with or without an assertion that no deities exist.[2] The broadest definition classifies atheism as the absence of belief that any deities exist.

[editor emphasis: "with or without an assertion that no deities exist..."]

You may know self-labeled atheists who are trying to disprove god exists, but then those are pretty poor atheists. Existence of a deity cannot be disproven any easier than it can be proven. It is a belief, not a math problem.

An atheist doesn't NEED to prove god does not exist. They do not believe in deities from the start. Trying to then prove one does not exist would be like not believing in any sort of WMDs and then trying to prove one does not have any. Now THAT'S folly.

Even a militant atheist won't generally spend his time trying to prove god does not or can not exist. He would ask for one who DOES believe in God to prove that (especially if the believer is causing trouble, like, say, trying to force removal of an atheist sentiment from a public place where belief sentiments were already allowed).

One can never prove the lack of something.

AdminTitan February 10 2010 10:09 AM EST

I don't think they seek to prove its existence, they simply assert that it doesn't exist, and wait for believers to prove its existence. (Which is ridiculous, but that's another discussion)

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] February 10 2010 10:10 AM EST

Saying that atheism can separate itself from it's adherents is interesting. It's like saying that a church cannot be blamed for the actions of it's followers. I don't believe that to be the case. If a system or sect has been so vague and wishy washy as to allow for a self professed adherent to openly state things contrary to it it has failed. If history teaches us anything it's that people drive belief, not dogmatic statements. Modern atheism most certainly fights tooth and nail to attempt to disprove that god exists, in large part by pointing out how awful the results are when someone holds the opposing opinion.

Demigod February 10 2010 10:13 AM EST

Atheism is merely the belief that there is no higher power. Agnosticism is merely the belief there is a higher power, but that no can properly grasp it.

That's all. The personal choice to disprove another belief is beyond the definition. I'm not really sure where you got the "seek to prove that god isn't" part.

QBsutekh137 February 10 2010 10:19 AM EST

I don't think they seek to prove its existence, they simply assert that it doesn't exist, and wait for believers to prove its existence. (Which is ridiculous, but that's another discussion)

A discussion I think I would love to have!

I agree it is ridiculous. That's why a real atheist would never even care about what someone else believes, and a believer shouldn't care what the atheist does not. Sounds incredibly simple to me (and maybe that is what you mean -- that it is ridiculous to worry about explaining a belief or lack thereof in either direction.) That's called zealotry, and is an entirely different thing than belief systems -- it's HOW you choose to believe (or not), and has nothing to do with the belief itself. I have known people who were zealots about lots of different things, and about the only thing they had in common was that they were all pretty annoying (especially when I would try to engage them and they would lose all grace under pressure). Yeah, I'm a iconoclast zealot, making me the most annoying of all! *smile*

Is that what you are calling ridiculous? I want to be clear before I go any further.

QBsutekh137 February 10 2010 10:24 AM EST

I'm curious as to where folks are getting definitions?

From Wikipedia:

Agnosticism is the view that the truth value of certain claimsラespecially claims about the existence of any deity, but also other religious and metaphysical claimsラis unknown or unknowable.

(I have no problem with people quoting other sources, I know Wikipedia is not even close to the end-all be-all source of info).

Agnosticism says nothing about belief in a higher power but simply being unable to grasp it. It says the whole shebang is unknown or unknowable.

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] February 10 2010 10:25 AM EST

"That's why a real atheist"

I have a question concerning this particular phrase. Would you as a resident of the US consider someone who holds a different opinion about what your country should be a "real american"?

AdminTitan February 10 2010 10:26 AM EST

It's ridiculous b/c you *can't* prove or disprove the existence of God. So, why waste your time. That's why it's called faith. The only argument I have for why religious people would care more about "converting" people is that religious people believe there is a reward for those who believe. Why atheist believe their is no punishment or reward, so they have less incentive.

QBOddBird February 10 2010 10:29 AM EST

Fundamental atheism v. atheism in practice, novice, just like the church example you alluded to. I think sutekh is talking about atheism in definition, you are talking about atheism in practice and in fact defining atheism itself by the practice. Correct me if I'm wrong, since I'm kind of jumping in here.

Demigod February 10 2010 10:32 AM EST

think sutekh is talking about atheism in definition, you are talking about atheism in practice

By using the word "atheism" (the belief) rather than "atheist" (the person), I think Novice is stuck with the definition, which I feel is clear-cut. The person issue is a better debate, though.

Mythology [The Knighthood] February 10 2010 10:33 AM EST

I always thought

atheist - says there is defo no God, gods or anything of that type

Agnostic - says theres the possibility of there being a God or higher beings or some such and doesnt really mind either way

Religious - sticks to their own beliefs and often tells everyone else they should be doing the same

I'm an agnostic as I believe and give creedence to about 3 different ideas that you could loosely call a religion or belief system I think the idea with agnostics is that you can be anywhere on a long scale of things.

Religious - Join us!
Atheist - Dont join them!
Agnostic - Do whatever you want

Religions to survive have to actively get more members, atheists will always point out the theories are wrong. Therefore you have two very active groups that get very loud and shouty and attract a lot of attention.

Agnostics obviously do not actively go out and convert people to do whatever and believe in whatever they want :)

AdminQBnovice [Cult of the Valaraukar] February 10 2010 10:34 AM EST

I assumed the incentive would be living in a world with less believers.

As a believer Titan (last time I heard) do you find yourself apologizing for the actions of others who profess to share your beliefs? Do you think that Christianity is to blame for the beliefs of it's adherents?

This is how I feel about atheism current role. While certainly still in it's infancy in terms of popularity it's not a new system of understanding. Yet the lack of clarity about it is rampant. Were I to announce myself as an atheist in some circles I might as well be stating that I'd like to truss up Christians in the public square and throw rotten fruit at them, or worse yet take away their right to live according to their beliefs. I've found that claiming agnosticism gives me a chance to explain myself and what I think. I hold atheism (which in my mind includes all those professing to be atheists) responsible for this.

QBsutekh137 February 10 2010 10:37 AM EST

Titan, we agree then.

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] February 10 2010 11:03 AM EST

Atheism is the Faith that no God/s exist.

It's an unkowable thing (to use the Agnostic term!).

Although my Dad ((why an Agnostic himself) knows that, as defined, the Christain God cannot exist, so is happy to remain an Agnostic certian that there is no christian God.


AdminQBVerifex [Serenity In Chaos] February 10 2010 2:12 PM EST

I wonder why so many agnostics here? Well, either way, I myself identify mainly with agnosticism. It meshes beautifully with the whole human experience of being a tiny speck in a large and mysterious universe. Plus, I find it much more honest to say "I don't know" then to say "I do know, and it's this!".

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] February 10 2010 2:50 PM EST

In all but a subtle difference, my Dad is an Atheist.

My dad is confident that the existance of any other God, while possible, is so unlikely and remote, to not even be worth considering.

But he doesn't have Faith in the above. ;)

Agnosticism was once explained to me as the absence of any belief systems.

QBsutekh137 February 10 2010 2:53 PM EST

I'm not really sure what to label myself... Because I DO know, but I'm not telling. Or caring.

What's THAT called?

AdminQBGentlemanLoser [{END}] February 10 2010 2:54 PM EST



Admin{CB1}Slayer333 February 10 2010 2:56 PM EST

Atheism asserts that there is no diety, but isn't particularly set upon proving it. I'd leave that to the "Anti-theist" movement.

QBsutekh137 February 10 2010 3:12 PM EST

Now if only I had the omnipotence to go with it!

*snaps fingers*

Sickone February 10 2010 3:55 PM EST

A series of semi-disparate thoughts...
How cute that we try to contain all range of positions/beliefs/creeds that are not conforming to any one particular religion just into two little words, either atheism or agnosticism, when the range is paricularly broad here too

It is also funny how a vast majority of people with religious beliefs are so quick to dismiss all other religions (including some remarkably similar to their own religion) as being wrong or whatnot, so in a sense, they are either atheists or agnostics themselves to a very high degree

It is particularly hilarious whenever a "believer" in some random religion holds so much scorn for the people that simply choose to reject just one additional religion that they resort to calling atheists "believers" too, and therefore bringing them down to exactly the same level, shifting the burden of proof for god's non-existence from their side to either both sides equally or downright completely in the other court -- which at first glimpse MIGHT seem like a reasonable argument, until you realize that "I know", "I think" and "I believe" when used in a rational manner mean exactly the same thing.
Just imagine the next scenario : me telling you I was just abducted by an alien spaceship, I just saved the world, then had lunch with Obama...
...amd if you have the audacity of telling me you don't believe that, I retort by telling you "well, that's just what you believe, and YOU have to prove I didn't do any of that or else I'm right and tell the truth".
It's called "burden of proof", and it always rests with the party making outrageous claims, NOT with the party or parties which stick with what is known.

Either way, an atheist might not necessarily reject the existance of deities altogether, he might simply consider the possibility any such deities exist in the first place is so remote, that he might as well play the lottery instead and have better chances of winning the jackpot rather than any god or gods existing. Technically, such an atheist would be labeled as an agnostic, but for all intents and purposes he's just as good or bad as just about any other atheist.

Ultimately, UNLESS an deity actually shows up on Earth in this day and age, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt they're a deity (as opposed to simply "sufficiently advanced aliens", where the "sufficiently" comes from "what they do no longer looks like science but magic")... unless that happens... well, there's never going to be any form of absolute and definitive proof for any belief or lack of it. And you know what, not even that might be enough.


Personally, I am everything at the same time:

* I am an agnostic -- as far as personal beliefs go, be it mine or somebody else's, everybody's free to believe whatever they want IN THE PRIVACY OF THEIR OWN HOME OR THE PRIVACY OF THEIR OWN BRAIN... and I am also free to MOCK their beliefs, just the same as they are free to mock mine (just because "I believe" that 1+1=2 while you believe that 1+1=3 doesn't mean our viewpoints are equally valid)

* I am an atheist -- as far as the organized religions go, the institution of a church or cult or whatever itself, and its leadership (but not the people following it), those I find to be ranging from annoying to repugnant, having no business existing at all in the first place... the audacity of any one man to claim to represent the will of God, it boggles the mind

* I am a militant anti-theist -- but only as far as "church and state" or "church and science" or "church and anything which is a personal choice" goes -- whenever religion sticks its grubby, greasy, greedy little fingers into anything that's absolutely _none_ of their business, be it stem cell research, condoms to prevent the spread of AIDS in Africa, non-standard marriage or heck knows what else at the time being, all of that fills me with such a huge amount of disgust and rage that you can bet your sweet behind I am so anti-theistic about it as I could ever possibly be


Stop labeling people as just either "believer", "agnostic" or "atheist". It's a false trichotomy.

Admindudemus [jabberwocky] February 10 2010 11:35 PM EST

christians are urged to proselytize as part of the belief system with the goal being conversion of others.

many atheists are former christians and possibly still do the same out of habit. there really is no atheist teachings, belief structure, ceremonies, guidelines, book of rules, etc.

i think that making a blanket statement regarding atheists is pretty impossible to do because many have never even really gotten together with another atheist and compared notes much less joined any atheist crusade.

perhaps atheists are plagued by the same issues as religions in that the fanatical are perceived as the mainstream because they are the ones making the noise, in the news or yelling on the street corners.

AdminTitan February 10 2010 11:53 PM EST

Well Sickone, if you are just the picture of a hypocrite. Maybe someone needs to do a little more studying up on religion, because I feel like you're a little under informed. Christianity, by definition, believes all other religions are wrong. (Those religions that aren't Christian. If you think otherwise, you're lying to yourself, go reread the Bible.)

Sickone February 11 2010 12:10 AM EST

Titan, I suggest you re-read my post then.
Wherever did you get the idea what you just posted is at odds with anything in my previous post ?
I even SPECIFICALLY mentioned that by definition most religions are atheistic because they believe all other religions are wrong.

Wraithlin February 11 2010 12:50 AM EST

(Those religions that aren't Christian. If you think otherwise, you're lying to yourself, go reread the Bible.)

What in any of Sickone's post gave you the impression that he read it once in the first place?

Sickone February 11 2010 12:59 AM EST

What in any of Sickone's post gave you the impression that he read it once in the first place?

Just FYI, I've read it all first when I was about 11, then again around 17, and I mean all of it, not just the new testament.
The fact that I actually read it is one of the main reasons I'm not an orthodox christian anymore (or any kind of christian for that matter).
HAVE YOU read the entire Bible from start to finish, carefully, not just randomly glossing over passages ?
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