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I need a few terms cleared up....

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Re: I need a few terms cleared up....

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A good discussion, but it seems there are too many fine points of distinction. For example you say even strong atheists do not claim that ALL gods do not exist, leaving the possibility open that some do. Well fer crying out loud, just what DO you call someone who believes that no gods exist? (Or as you say, lacks the belief that any gods exist?) Evidently there is no term for it. Also, I don't see how anyone who believes that a certain god does not exist, but other gods may exist could possibly be an atheist. Would that person also be disqualified as an agnostic because he believes a certain god doesn't exist?Another problem is knowledge. I think it's a given that atheists cannot "KNOW" that gods do not exist. But it seems atheists are afraid to be branded as some sort of ultra-super atheist who makes metaphysical statements and "KNOWS" that gods do not exist, so some of these finer categories are set up. I'm guessing that some "strong" atheists reject that term because they can't provide absolute proof or have metaphysical knowledge of that point. Since that's not possible, shouldn't they just conceed that point and go with the strong atheist label?What's the difference, if any between "I do not believe in gods" and "I lack a belief in gods"? Heh, the latter sounds like he lost a coin or something. Is the 1st statement atheist and the 2nd agnostic? Or one requires proof and the other doesn't? Seems like exactly the same statement written in active vs. passive voice to me.Edit/bump - does anyone want to clear these up for me before the next book starts? The following quote from the intro of Atheism: A Reader illustrates my problem in the paragraph above.Quote:It is the particular distinction of atheism to be nothing at all. The atheist, as such, has no belief. To say he believes there is no God is inaccurate, he merely does not believe there is a God."- Ambrose Bierce How does one differentiate between the atheist and someone who merely has no opinion on the existence of gods or has not made up his mind? My problem with this tactic can be summarized in the following question. If the atheist merely lacks a belief in God, does he also lack a DISBELIEF in God? That would imply they have no opinion, but that certainly is not the case given the vigor with which atheists argue one side of the case. This "lack of belief" tactic is weasley (sp?) wordsmithing. I prefer a simpler continuum that goes something like this.Theism => (Deism if you like) => Agnosticism => AtheismWhere agnosticism means one who is not committed to the existence or non-existence of gods and atheism is one who does not believe that gods exist. Simplify it - if you don't believe gods exist, say it and take your lumps! Please don't say "On no sir, I don't disbelieve in God, I merely lack a belief in God." How wimpy! If you're afraid to say you disbelieve in god, say you're an agnostic.All this fine categorization ("I'm a strong agnostic atheist!") also turns into jargon, making it more difficult to have a conversation. I think the main reason for the jargon is to deflect attacks such as "You're making a metaphysical proposition." Deal with it and bring it on without wordsmithing...Oh yeah, I 3rd the motion for The Gnostic Gospels, by Pagel. As I understand Gnosticism, it stands against faith and following religious rites in favor of direct knowledge of god. I don't see it as the polar opposite of agnostic - many theists believe that you can't have direct knowledge of god and must rely on faith.OK, enough confused rambling for now, let the ass-kicking begin... Edited by: LanDroid at: 2/26/03 7:25:57 am
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