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Old Jul 15th 2010, 10:20 PM
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WFCY WFCY is offline
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Default Re: Literal isn’t Lazy

Originally Posted by Michael View Post
If this definition of atheism is to stand uncontested, that means that the number of intelligent atheists is zero. End of discussion.

In my opinion, denial of the existence of God is as absurd as the assertion that God does exist. Without proof either way, no claim of knowledge is possible and it is all just conjecture.

I lack all interest in the question of God and theology. God might exist for all I know, but I still have no reason to believe in the whole concept so I don't. I don't believe in God/god/gods/theology/afterlife/etc at all. None of it, nothing. I lack any belief at all in this respect.

I think, therefore I am, and one day I will die. The End. That's all I can claim to know. There may be more to it than that, but I have no reason or knowledge to believe/justify that.
The first paragraph of the above quote makes your point succinctly and very potently, and pretty much sums up your whole criticism of one of my posts. So forgive me for not quoting in full, but I will address this.

First of all, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (not "Sanford"), is a very reliable source of terms used in philosophy. The other authority I would fall back on is the Cambridge Dictionary of Philosophy, which is only available in print, and this was why I did not resort to it.

But since I have a copy, I will type the entry out for you manually, and if you have a copy too, go check it (in case of minor differences- I am using the Second Edition):

(p.59) Atheism: The view that there are no gods. A widely used sense denotes merely not believing in God and is consistent with agnosticism. A stricter sense, denotes a belief that there is no God; this use has become the standard one. In the Apology Socrates is accused of atheism for not believing in the official Athenian gods. Some distinguish between theoretical atheism and practical atheism. A theoretical atheist is one who self-cosciously denies the existence of a supreme being, whereas a practical atheist may believe that a supreme being exists but lives as though there were no god.
(theoretical vs practical is just the strong vs weak, explicit vs implict contrast I mentioned already)

I don't need to tell you, perfectly consistent with what I said about Atheism. These two sources are about as authoritative as it gets in the field of philosophy before one is prompted to look into the individual literatures and beyond standardized sources. Wiki btw, although not as respected by philosophers, nevertheless echos these two, and echos my definition (wiki link already in my prior post).

So, enough with "appeal to authority" you say. What do I have to say about:

Originally Posted by Michael View Post
If this definition of atheism is to stand uncontested, that means that the number of intelligent atheists is zero. End of discussion.
Actually, you are right, end of discussion.

It is correct that if we go by the strict definition- No atheist is holding his belief based on certain knowledge (certain, as opposed to probable). But if the existence of god is a matter of probability, as I mentioned before, and so did the author of the Stanford encyclopedia- then when the probability of his existence is low, we might as well regard ourselves as atheists instead of an agnostic. In fact, this was the argument given by Richard Dawkins.

Of course, human beings' self identification is not purely based on reason. There is still a leap to make from 0.001% of god existing to asserting 0% of god existing. Then there would of course be some emotional, or anti-theistic grounds behind making such leaps (refer to what I said about antitheism). These things are not mutually exclusive, which is why words are not science.

There are a few other ways to get around but I will just talk in the confines of the concepts that I have set up so far until it becomes necessary to bring in new concepts.

Now, why would we want to use the narrower sense of the word "atheism" ever? A meaning which implies ignorance, or assertion beyond one's knowledge, you may ask.

Because in a discussion about "atheism vs agnosticism", this distinction becomes important. Without agnosticisim, atheism can mean a lot of things- I deny the existence of god, or I simply lack belief in god, etc. But when it's "atheism vs agnosticism", agnosticism already took the "I lack belief in god" part. How else would you be able to distinguish the two? So you may as well attribute the unfortunate attachment of ignorance (saying "there is no god" while not knowing for certain) onto atheism to the development of philisophy of religion. I mean, agnosticism is only a very recent term compared to atheism. Atheism used to subsume agnosticism until agnosticism came along as a philosophical term. Now that atheism needs to distinguish itself, in a conversation when agnosticism is involved. And unfortunately, atheism has got the rotten left-overs. Agnosticism took away the good stuff.

Margot wants to go strictly by the morphlogical roots of words. It does not work after a while, when the concepts denoted by these words have been discussed and developed by philosophers.
"Déjeme decirle, a riesgo de parecer ridículo, que el revolucionario verdadero está guiado por grandes sentimientos de amor. Es imposible pensar en un revolucionario auténtico sin esta cualidad."

Ernesto 'Che' Guevara

Last edited by WFCY; Jul 15th 2010 at 10:33 PM.
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