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Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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RickU

Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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Taken from My new member thread to continute the discussion here:Rick & Mr. PI'm actually not fond of Shermer's book for explaining the differences between atheism and agnosticism. The best book I've ever read on the subject would be George Smith's, "Atheism: The Case Against God."The problem I have with how Shermer approaches it is that he throws in the towel too easily. The dictionaries use the wrong defintion for atheism, and Shermer seems to be willing to sit back and allow this to happen.I'm not sure off hand which chapter or page Shermer points out that dictionaries don't actually print defintions - the print "usages." Shermer says that most people use the word atheist to mean, "one that claims that God doesn't exist." Well, they're wrong. Yes, there are indeed atheists that make such a claim and truly believe it, but they are a subset or minority. Most atheists simply don't see enough evidence, and therefore don't believe. But they certainly don't have an actual belief that God doesn't and cannot exist. They simply lack the belief....which is the exact defintion according to the etymology of the term.Just because most people use a word a certain way doesn't mean that word should lose its defintion. Most people are theists that detest or at least don't appreciate or respect atheists. Of course they pick a definition that casts a shadow on atheists. This has pissed me off for a very long time and I fully intend to do my best to do something about it in the future. I'm brainstorming right now about how this can best be accomplished. I'd like to see all of the major dictionaries change their definitions...and this will be the goal.Why do I care?Think about how much time atheists waste defending a position they don't even hold. I've literally spent dozens of hours in senseless debates about the definition of these basic terms, and all because the entire theistic population opts to be ignorant about there true defintions, and use them improperly.I suppose we should carry this discussion to The Evolution vs. Creationism forum for further discussion. Many members don't read peoples journal threads often enough for us to have this conversation here. Chris
RickU

Re: Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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I don't know how successful you'll be with getting the dictionaries to change their definitions. In fact, it might be better to just coin a new term and throw it around like candy. The reason I say this is, I recently heard an interview with a Merriam Webster representative on NPR. It was about language and how words make it into the dictionary, and how many new IT words made it in in this revision. The word nuclear came up since this may be the most mispronounced word in history. This launched the rep into a short explanation about how language and culture make definitions and that's how what definition is applied is determined. So eventually we could all be saying pronouncing nuclear - nukular are one and the same grammatically. I personally pray that day never comes. However, it does illustrate how it may be difficult to get the definition of atheism changed based on what you said above.I too spend a lot of time explaining my position. In fact I spend most of it describing why being agnostic and atheist are not the same. Your definition of "atheism" is appealing..but it's application of it to the modern word, I fear, will simply confuse the natives.
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Re: Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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Main Entry: athe·ist Pronunciation: 'A-thE-istFunction: noun: one who believes that there is no deity- athe·is·tic /"A-thE-'is-tik/ or athe·is·ti·cal /"A-thE-'is-ti-k&l/ adjective- athe·is·ti·cal·ly /-ti-k(&-)lE/ adverb Main Entry: 1ag·nos·tic Pronunciation: ag-'n
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Re: Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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Rick:After reading Chris' definition of Atheist, I would like to hear your definition of Agnostic. From what Chris is saying, it sounds like he is agnostic to me? Maybe I got it all wrong, but I always thought agnostic implied insufficient evidence to make a decision either way, but this is similar to what Chris calls an atheist.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.
RickU

Re: Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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My definition of Agnostic is basically the same as Chris's for Atheist. It's simply this:One who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god.Straight from the dictionary.
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So then that would leave Atheist to mean no belief in god? I am confused...Chris: Do you believe there is no such thing as God, or do you feel there is not enough evidence, and that upon presentation of such evidence that would prove a god, you would believe?Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.
RickU

Re: Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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According to the dictionary definition, yes. That's our real problem. We're not very well defined.
CSflim

Re: Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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So are you agnostic about everything which lacks a complete and logical proof of its non-existance? Are you "agnostic" about the existence of invisible pink unicorns? statues that do a dance whenever nobody is watching? There is literally an infinitude of things we could dream up that are in principle impossible to disprove (God being only one of them).Sooner-or-later you have to put your foot down and say "I refuse to believe in X until you can provide me at least some argument/evidence, and then I will consider it".I think atheist is best defined as; somone who believes that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest the existence of God. Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?-Douglas Adams, Last Chance To See
RickU

Re: Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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Quote:Are you "agnostic" about the existence of invisible pink unicorns?The whole comment is a good point...and your breakdown of the whole atheism agnostism issue in my new member post is even better....however, "invisible pink unicorns?" are real damn it. I've seen them. Wait...Umm...the ones I saw weren't invisible otherwise I wouldn't have been able to see them would I? But they said they could turn invisible! I just wonder how they managed to talk to me.
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Re: Atheism vs. Agnostisism a discussion

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I think unicorns are telepathic Rick. That is how you understood them.Mr. P. The one thing of which I am positive is that there is much of which to be negative - Mr. P.
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