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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » A social question to the other Hatrack atheists (Page 2)

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Author Topic: A social question to the other Hatrack atheists
TomDavidson
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quote:
I've never understood Atheism, just as I've never fully understood extreme believers (of any faith). I actually find Agnosticism to be the most logical religion out of all of them, even though it's not the one I practice.
Some observations, many of which have already been made:

1) Neither atheism nor agnosticism can be sensibly considered religions, although the Gnostics were arguably a religious sect.

2) The term "agnostic" is regularly misused to refer to people who aren't confident of the non-existence of God. That is not what the word means. If you do not believe that a god exists, even if you aren't certain that no god exists, you are an atheist. If you are calling yourself an agnostic because you don't think you're arrogant enough to call yourself atheist, you don't actually know what those words mean.

3) Atheism -- the lack of belief in a god -- seems to me to be far less "extreme" than almost any other alternative. In fact, it's considerably less extreme than actual agnosticism, and far less extreme than, say, Catholicism, which actually requires adherence to certain ethical principles and ritualistic behaviors based upon a belief in one specific god.

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AchillesHeel
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I just checked my facebook and randomly this was on there. Scarlet Letter, an atheist documentary. Coincidentally I was given one of those scarlet letter buttons at the meeting last week, and immediately put it on my favorite jacket.
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Raymond Arnold
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quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
quote:
I'll be honest...I've never understood Atheism, just as I've never fully understood extreme believers (of any faith). I actually find Agnosticism to be the most logical religion out of all of them, even though it's not the one I practice.
If we're being honest, this seems to be a comment rooted in ignorance. Atheism isn't some religion practiced by "extreme believers". It is simply not believing in any deities. This isn't extreme on any level whatsoever.

And if you don't understand it, then I'd suggest an exercise. Do a Google search and look up all the various deities that people have ever believed in throughout history. There are hundreds (thousands?), but you can stop at somewhere around 50.

Make a list of them, and then on the side of each deity put an X next to those that you don't believe exists. If you are a monotheist, you are most likely going to end up with just one diety.

Now if you were an atheist you'd put an X next to that one too. And the reason why atheists think your deity doesn't exist is probably pretty close to why you don't believe the 49 deities you put an X next to don't exist.

Really well put, I like this a lot.

(FYI, I make a point of identifying as an atheist *because* it shouldn't be a label attached to vocal obnoxious people)

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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Dan_Frank:
Ambyr: Yeah that was generally what I thought, too.

Jeff: That deserved a rimshot. I laughed.

Orincoro: I get that, I just don't understand why people would do that to themselves.

Hah, they just do. EVerybody does it. I'm not necessarily talking about bars and clubs and the like, but yeah, everybody does it. Just like everybody pretends to be something they don't know how to really be when they're in college. It's what you do.

I have a friend in his early 30's who described it as "trying different lives on for size."

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Strider
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quote:
Originally posted by Raymond Arnold:
quote:
Originally posted by Xavier:
quote:
I'll be honest...I've never understood Atheism, just as I've never fully understood extreme believers (of any faith). I actually find Agnosticism to be the most logical religion out of all of them, even though it's not the one I practice.
If we're being honest, this seems to be a comment rooted in ignorance. Atheism isn't some religion practiced by "extreme believers". It is simply not believing in any deities. This isn't extreme on any level whatsoever.

And if you don't understand it, then I'd suggest an exercise. Do a Google search and look up all the various deities that people have ever believed in throughout history. There are hundreds (thousands?), but you can stop at somewhere around 50.

Make a list of them, and then on the side of each deity put an X next to those that you don't believe exists. If you are a monotheist, you are most likely going to end up with just one diety.

Now if you were an atheist you'd put an X next to that one too. And the reason why atheists think your deity doesn't exist is probably pretty close to why you don't believe the 49 deities you put an X next to don't exist.

Really well put, I like this a lot.

Agreed. To add on to it:

Atheism: lack of belief in a deity
Agnosticism: the stance that it's impossible to know with certainty whether or not a deity exists.

So in reality I'm both an atheist AND an agnostic, since I lack belief in god, but also think it's not a question I can ever know the answer to with 100% certainty (even if I'm 99.999% sure!).

The problem is those terms have taken on a colloquial meaning with agnosticsm just being a weak version of atheism.

Given that, when asked, I tend to just say I'm an atheist, because calling myself an agnostic gives the wrong impression about the certainty of my position.

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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
I'm an agnostic, veering towards agnostic atheism. It's an intellectual and philosophical choice for me.
I find this baffling, as agnosticism seems like an almost indefensible philosophical choice. Are you defining it differently?
I'm using the official definition(s). Of course there are several slightly different official definitions, as any dictionary will tell you. Agnosticism is perfectly sound intellectually and philosophically - In fact it would be easy to argue that it's more watertight logically than either theism or atheism.

Wikipedia offers a good view into different modern definitions of agnosticism:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

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MattP
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quote:
Agnosticism: the stance that it's impossible to know with certainty whether or not a deity exists.
For many people agnostic means (or is understood to mean) "undecided". The word has become pretty useless for determining someone's actual philosophical position.

quote:
official definition
(good-natured giggle emoticon)
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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
quote:


[QUOTE]official definition

(good-natured giggle emoticon)
Granted, I was editing my post while you quoted me, but then again my post already had this rather self-explanatory sentence:

"Wikipedia offers a good view into different modern definitions of agnosticism: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism".

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Xavier
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quote:
Really well put, I like this a lot.
Thanks, though I can't take credit for the underlying idea. It comes from perhaps my favorite quote on the subject (which I'm sure you've all seen):

quote:
"I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than you do. When you understand why you dismiss all the other possible gods, you will understand why I dismiss yours."
-- Stephen Roberts

I personally hate arguing about the atheist / agnostic terms. I tend to agree with those that are firm that atheism means "lacking a belief in any diety". Any other garbage you want to bring about "believing in the non-existence of God (therefor faith!)" or whatever isn't part of the definition. I wish those that used it in this way would at least qualify it with "strong atheism" or "positive atheism". I don't like those terms much either, but at least they don't corrupt the word we have to act as the opposite of theism.
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Vadon
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
[QUOTE]
2) The term "agnostic" is regularly misused to refer to people who aren't confident of the non-existence of God. That is not what the word means. If you do not believe that a god exists, even if you aren't certain that no god exists, you are an atheist. If you are calling yourself an agnostic because you don't think you're arrogant enough to call yourself atheist, you don't actually know what those words mean.

This is the reason why I find agnosticism to be logically untenable. To have a belief in some God is a proposition--"God exists"--which is either true or false. If you believe in a God, you hold that proposition to be true. If you don't believe in a God, you hold that proposition to be false. When a person makes the claim that God may or may not exist, but we can't know whether a God exists does not actually address the issue. Agnosticism isn't a matter of faith, it is a claim about our limited epistemology. Put simply, if you believe that we can't know if a God exists, then it is likely you don't believe in a God. I'm an atheist because I don't believe in a God. That doesn't mean I believe there couldn't be a God, nor does it mean I think it's impossible for us to know if there is a God. It just means I don't believe in one. If you claim yourself as an agnostic, ask yourself which God you believe in. If you say there isn't a particular God you believe in, then by definition you're an atheist. Your agnosticism is a different matter entirely from your faith.

As for the larger subject at hand, I've never really taken my atheism to be a part of my identity. It matters to me no more than the fact I have a nose, fingers, or wear clothes. I'm an atheist, there's no more to it for me than that. As such, I wouldn't attend an atheist social group, but I can understand why others might. In some areas, being an atheist is so stigmatized I get why people would want to have a place where they are not subject to social criticism for their lack of faith. The meetings aren't about not believing in God, they're about finding others who share a common trait with you.

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advice for robots
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I'm not sure I've ever based my theism on making a list of all gods ever imagined, eliminating the ones I didn't believe in, ending up with a positive number of gods I still believed in, and thus calling myself a theist.

if (the gods possible to believe in) - (the gods I don't believe in) > 0, then I am a theist.
if (the gods possible to believe in) - (the gods I don't believe in) = 0, then I am an atheist.

My theism isn't measured on a scale of how many gods I accept. I don't know who Stephen Roberts is attempting to talk to. I either believe that there is room and need for a god in the universe, or I don't. If I dismiss other gods beside my own, that doesn't put me a checkmark away from being an atheist. Setting up a checklist and checking off the gods is, IMO, an exercise that presupposes you are atheist already.

ETA: math.

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MattP
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quote:
I don't know who Stephen Roberts is attempting to talk to.
I think he's trying to find a way to relate the experience of atheism to people who are not atheists. Many theists seem to profoundly misunderstand what it means to be an atheist. They see it as an active endeavor, an "extreme" belief, or otherwise an extraordinary state of being. By expressing what I don't believe in in terms of what you don't believe in, I'm attempting to get you to understand how my position is much less weird and foreign than you might otherwise presume.

You don't believe in Zeus - why not? What has convinced you that Zeus doesn't exist? What about Vishnu? Mithra? etc. OK, now that you've considered that, imagine a person that answers those questions in a similar way when it comes to the god that you believe in.

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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
By expressing what I don't believe in in terms of what you don't believe in

This is hand-wavy nonsense. It merely proves that many atheists profoundly misunderstand what it means to be a theist.
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advice for robots
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Matt: I do appreciate the attempt to put it in a theist's terms and I see what he's trying to describe.

One difference might be that I don't believe in Zeus for different reasons than Stephen Roberts doesn't believe in Zeus, at least according to what Roberts is attempting to describe.

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MattP
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quote:
It merely proves that many atheists profoundly misunderstand what it means to be a theist.
That could very well be the case. The only obvious difference between a theist and atheist is that the theist has a god belief and the atheist does not. On the other side of that coin, there is an obvious, seemingly relevant, shared experience of *not* believing in gods that are excluded by the god belief of the theist.

It seems like acknowledging that, assuming it's not controversial (is it?), could at least be a candidate for the beginning of a discussion. I'm willing to grant that it might seem nonsensical to some theists, but the hand-wavy part seems a bit dismissive given that I know at least a handful of atheists that were once theists who are fond of the expression - they think it is informative.

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MattP
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quote:
One difference might be that I don't believe in Zeus for different reasons than Stephen Roberts doesn't believe in Zeus, at least according to what Roberts is attempting to describe.
That may not be a valid assumption. It would have to be born out by further discussion, but many people's explanations for why they do believe in God (generally Christian for me) apply directly to the quote. For instance, with many LDS folks personal revelation and spiritual experiences are a primary reason they believe and, by extension, the lack of these experiences in relation to other deities are why they disbelieve. Thus my lack of such experiences applies to my disbelief in both the LDS God and other gods.
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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
[QUOTE]
2) The term "agnostic" is regularly misused to refer to people who aren't confident of the non-existence of God. That is not what the word means. If you do not believe that a god exists, even if you aren't certain that no god exists, you are an atheist. If you are calling yourself an agnostic because you don't think you're arrogant enough to call yourself atheist, you don't actually know what those words mean.

This is the reason why I find agnosticism to be logically untenable. To have a belief in some God is a proposition--"God exists"--which is either true or false. If you believe in a God, you hold that proposition to be true. If you don't believe in a God, you hold that proposition to be false. When a person makes the claim that God may or may not exist, but we can't know whether a God exists does not actually address the issue. Agnosticism isn't a matter of faith, it is a claim about our limited epistemology. Put simply, if you believe that we can't know if a God exists, then it is likely you don't believe in a God. I'm an atheist because I don't believe in a God. That doesn't mean I believe there couldn't be a God, nor does it mean I think it's impossible for us to know if there is a God. It just means I don't believe in one. If you claim yourself as an agnostic, ask yourself which God you believe in. If you say there isn't a particular God you believe in, then by definition you're an atheist. Your agnosticism is a different matter entirely from your faith.

Many agnostics actually do have faith in theists. Agnosticism has sub-categories, such as agnostic atheists. They do not believe any deity exists, but do not deny it as a possibility. Agnostic theists on the other hand believe a deity exists but do not claim the deity's existence to be true.

Yes, agnosticism is in a way different matter from your faith. Which is the point. It's usually an intellectual conclusion that either theists or atheist arrive to. It's a conclusion based on logic instead of faith. Which is why it sounds strange to argue that it's "logically untenable".

Do you have definitive knowledge of whether deities exist, or not? You don't. You have *faith* that they either exist, or not. Why is their non-existence also a question of faith? Because you replace the faith in deities with a faith in something else. Like science, for example.

But science might not be real. You just have faith it is. Scientists might not be real either, you just believe in their existence. In fact the computer you are watching might not be real. Your senses might be lying to you. You might not even have senses, or body. Your brain is just fooling you. You might not have a brain either, there is just a mind somewhere thinking thoughts. In fact there might not even be a mind, all you know is that there are thoughts, but not necessarily a mind thinking them.

"There are thoughts". That's all you actually know. Anything beyond that it a question of faith.

This kind of basic philosophy might not have much practical use in life, but it's logical. We prefer to choose faith over our fundamental lack of knowledge. Faith is the motor that keeps us running.

And yes, I believe in science. I don't believe in theists. But I fully admit that those beliefs are matters of faith, and it would be logically untenable for me to claim with absolute certainty that science is real, or that theist are not real.

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Tuukka
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I guess it's also worth pointing out, that judging by our current understanding of the possibilities of science... At some point in the future it might be possible to artificially create beings, who are in every meaning of the word deities.

Who is to say this has not already happened at some point, in some other (alien) civilization? Maybe one or more of the deities they created, are the deities we humans are familiar with. While we obviously have no information of this, it's scientifically perfectly plausible scenario.

We are already ourselves capable of much more impressive things than the majority of our past deities.

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Vadon
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I don't mean that agnosticism is untenable as an answer to epistemological questions of God's existence. If someone asks if you believe we can know if God exists, to say you're an agnostic is fine. But when someone asks "what's your religion?" or "do you believe in God?" agnosticism does not answer the question. If you think saying you're agnostic answers the question, "do you believe in God?" you need to ask which God, if any, you believe in. If there is no God you believe in, you're an atheist. Saying that we can't know if a God exists can be a reason why you don't believe in a God, but it is not the answer to the question.

[ March 20, 2012, 08:26 PM: Message edited by: Vadon ]

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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
At some point in the future it might be possible to artificially create beings, who are in every meaning of the word deities.

Except for the meaning of the word that includes "uncreated" as central to said meaning. Which would be the meaning accepted by Christianity and Judaism for most of their history.

Edit: "being" is a little tricky too.

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advice for robots
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Matt: I'll have to write more tomorrow, but my initial response is that while I do believe in God chiefly through personal experience (as an adult, not just depending on what I was taught as a kid any longer), that's not necessarily how I disprove the existence of another god. I know gods can be pure human constructs as well. I also tend to look for similarities between my view of God and that of people of other faiths, with the belief that there is a pattern underlying it all, that people look to deity for a reason and that the universe can indeed have room for a supreme being. Like I said before, it's not just a matter of applying the same test to each god and eliminating them when they don't respond until I either end up with one god or no god. The gulf between one and zero has to be defined differently than that. As the acceptance of the possibility of a god or not. The crux, I think, can be found in a Book of Mormon passage, Alma 32:27: "...yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe..." You desire it or you don't. I don't see it as a matter of believing in one fewer god than a Jew or Christian. That's not a good characterization of why I believe as I do. I can see an atheist being happy with it perhaps because it seems to characterize the average atheist as just an ordinary joe who happens to not believe in any god, no big deal. don't know if that all is worth anything. I'll think it through more. Perhaps even change my mind.
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rivka
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quote:
Originally posted by MattP:
the hand-wavy part seems a bit dismissive given that I know at least a handful of atheists that were once theists who are fond of the expression - they think it is informative.

IME, the atheists who were once theists who like this explanation were mostly of the "default theist" variety. That is, they were theists primarily because they grew up with it. Not because they had made a considered, adult choice of their theism.

It makes sense to me that that sort of "convert" to atheism would agree with the description.

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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by Vadon:
I don't mean that agnosticism is untenable as an answer to epistemological questions of God's existence. If someone asks if you believe we can know if God exists, to say you're an agnostic is fine. But when someone asks "what's your religion?" or "do you believe in God?" agnosticism does not answer the question. If you think saying you're agnostic answers the question, "do you believe in God?" you need to ask which God, if any, you believe in. If there is no God you believe in, you're an atheist. Saying that we can't know if a God exists can be a reason why you don't believe in a God, but it is not the answer to the question.

....Which is why there are more subcategories: Agnostic atheism and atheist agnosticism. Both terms have been widely used for a long time. I identified myself as an agnostic atheist 20 years ago.

Moreover, some people don't have strong faith either way. This is anecdotal evidence - which is enough in this case - but I know people who sometimes believe in God, and sometimes not. I was like that myself once. It's usually a transitional period towards either theism or atheism, but it still exist. For some people it's a permanent state of faith. You could claim that such people are one moment theists, the other moment atheists, for years on. But it's simpler to call them just agnostics, if they identify themselves as ones.

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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
At some point in the future it might be possible to artificially create beings, who are in every meaning of the word deities.

Except for the meaning of the word that includes "uncreated" as central to said meaning. Which would be the meaning accepted by Christianity and Judaism for most of their history.

Edit: "being" is a little tricky too.

In many religions a lot of deities have been created by other deities. "Uncreated" isn't really a part of the official definition. I don't see why we should consider only Christianity and Judaism in here.

But even then, a lot of christians consider Jesus a deity - They even pray for him. They also believe God created Jesus. This might not be how church sees it, but that's how many common believers interpret it.

"Uncreated" is really just another way of saying that we are not aware of the potential creator of the "uncreated". An artificially created deity would seem uncreated, it people would be unaware of its creator, and it would claim to be uncreated.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
But it's simpler to call them just agnostics, if they identify themselves as ones.
It's simpler, but I maintain that it's incorrect. They're just wishy-washy, not agnostic.
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dkw
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quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
They also believe God created Jesus. This might not be how church sees it, but that's how many common believers interpret it.

So, those common believers who profess belief in the Nicene Creed (that would be pretty much everyone but the reconstructionist denominations, btw) interpret the words "begotten, not created" to mean "created"? I agree that lots of "common" believers aren't up on the finer points of theology, but that seems like a pretty egregious lapse of reading comprehension. Hearing too, for those who recite it in Mass/Service every week.

Edit to add, because the lack of theological education in nominal believers really isn't the point. The reason the words "not created" were included in the creed in the first place was because it is central to the definition of divinity for monotheistic religions. If Jesus were a created being, then he would not be God. Therefore there were huge arguments about the matter -- which even the "common believers" participated in -- with the 4th century equivalent of bumper sticker slogans.

[ March 21, 2012, 09:22 AM: Message edited by: dkw ]

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TomDavidson
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quote:
those common believers who profess belief in the Nicene Creed (that would be pretty much everyone but the reconstructionist denominations, btw) interpret the words "begotten, not created" to mean "created"?
I think you give "common believers" too much credit when you assume that they're interpreting the words of the Nicene Creed at all.
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dkw
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If a significant number of church-going folks can recite the words "not created" and fail to realize that they mean "not created" I shall despair.

You're probably right, though.

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Javert
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
If a significant number of church-going folks can recite the words "not created" and fail to realize that they mean "not created" I shall despair.

You're probably right, though.

When I was a Catholic, the words we recited were 'begotten, not made'. Of course, when I thought of the word 'begotten' I merely thought it meant 'created in some specific way' as opposed to 'not created'.
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dkw
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*despairs*
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Raymond Arnold
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I went to Catholic mass several times, remember reciting "Begotten, not made" and never paid any attention to what it was supposed to mean. (I was not actually Catholic, but I'm sure there were plenty of real Catholics reciting it the same way I was)
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Blayne Bradley
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I consider myself a Humanist in the Isaac Asimov 'Space is the future' sort of fashion.
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dkw
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And here I thought the Nicene Creed verged on overkill on the anti-Arianism. I guess they should have left the anathamas in.
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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
They also believe God created Jesus. This might not be how church sees it, but that's how many common believers interpret it.

So, those common believers who profess belief in the Nicene Creed (that would be pretty much everyone but the reconstructionist denominations, btw) interpret the words "begotten, not created" to mean "created"? I agree that lots of "common" believers aren't up on the finer points of theology, but that seems like a pretty egregious lapse of reading comprehension. Hearing too, for those who recite it in Mass/Service every week.

Edit to add, because the lack of theological education in nominal believers really isn't the point. The reason the words "not created" were included in the creed in the first place was because it is central to the definition of divinity for monotheistic religions. If Jesus were a created being, then he would not be God. Therefore there were huge arguments about the matter -- which even the "common believers" participated in -- with the 4th century equivalent of bumper sticker slogans.

Beating a dead horse here, as others already commented on this. But a really, really big percentage of christians don't really know what reads in the Bible, or what exactly is said at the church.

Here in the strongly Christian, strongly secular and strongly liberal Finland, I would say that at least 80% of Christians have never Bible, expect for the the few dozen pages that was required at school. And they haven't visited church except for Christmas mass once a year, back when they were still in school. And in funerals and weddings.

In all honesty, I never paid any attention to what the priest said.

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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
But it's simpler to call them just agnostics, if they identify themselves as ones.
It's simpler, but I maintain that it's incorrect. They're just wishy-washy, not agnostic.
It's not incorrect. It fits the official definitions of the word.

A lot of people have different belief systems than you. Using derogatory terms to label them doesn't show good taste.

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TomDavidson
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quote:
A lot of people have different belief systems than you. Using derogatory terms to label them doesn't show good taste.
Waffling between two different belief systems, as you've described, is not a belief system. It is waffling.
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kmbboots
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quote:
Originally posted by dkw:
And here I thought the Nicene Creed verged on overkill on the anti-Arianism. I guess they should have left the anathamas in.

We teach it in RCIA. I can personally vouch that at least 120 or so Catholics get it. Does that help?

At the very least, "in every meaning of the word deities" should be well and truly exploded. Tuukka, having super powers does not make one God.

I believe in Zeus the same way I believe in Jehovah. Names we call God. I think the folks who call God Jehovah get more of it right than the Zeus folks, but none of us has the whole picture.

Whether or not atheism can be considered extreme, the actions of atheists can be just as extreme as those of any religion. I find evangelical atheists to be approximately as obnoxious as I find evangelical Christians.

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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
quote:
A lot of people have different belief systems than you. Using derogatory terms to label them doesn't show good taste.
Waffling between two different belief systems, as you've described, is not a belief system. It is waffling.
You have a failure in your conceptual thinking. There is a THIRD belief system between the two you are familiar with. For some reason you can't grasp the existence of that third belief system. But it still exists.

You are in essence trying to argue that the color grey doesn't exist, because you can see only black and white.

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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
[QUOTE]Originally posted by dkw:
[qb] At the very least, "in every meaning of the word deities" should be well and truly exploded. Tuukka, having super powers does not make one God.

I believe in Zeus the same way I believe in Jehovah. Names we call God. I think the folks who call God Jehovah get more of it right than the Zeus folks, but none of us has the whole picture.

I would say that many of the gods in greek mythology were essentially superheroes. Most of them were not "uncreated", but directly created by other gods.

Zeus himself was born in a childbirth just like humans, he was a child of Cronus and Rhea. They all looked like humans, gave birth like humans, and went through adolescence like humans. Zeus himself had many children, who became gods.

The Greek gods could even be killed, which is what happened to Asclepius and Pan.

Of course when I talked about artificially created deities, I was thinking of something much more powerful than Spiderman.

[ March 21, 2012, 03:10 PM: Message edited by: Tuukka ]

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kmbboots
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Tuukka, I did not make myself clear. Throughout history, people have tried to understand and be in relationship with the divine. We call it different names and assign it different attributes. Zeus and his particular collection of attributes is one attempt.
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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by kmbboots:
Tuukka, I did not make myself clear. Throughout history, people have tried to understand and be in relationship with the divine. We call it different names and assign it different attributes. Zeus and his particular collection of attributes is one attempt.

I'm not sure what you were disagreeing with me about, then?
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kmbboots
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You seem to think that some Zeus-like creature would be God.
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TomDavidson
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quote:
There is a THIRD belief system between the two you are familiar with.
There are even more than that!
But agnosticism -- as defined as being "not really sure that there is or isn't a god" -- is not one of them. It's just indecisiveness.

You're trying to say that when you ask someone what his favorite chain restaurant is, if he can't decide between -- say -- Perkins and Applebees, that there is actually a third restaurant called Not Able To Decide On a Favorite Restaurant. Which is ludicrous.

If you simply aren't certain whether there is or is not a god, you're simply an indecisive atheist or a doubtful theist. You aren't some third category of being. You're only an agnostic if for some reason you think it's actually impossible (or merely completely pointless) to establish the existence of a god, which is a viable but incredibly stupid philosophical position.

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Blayne Bradley
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The gods of most mythologies including greek were omnicisient. Taking the Zorostrian monolithic conceptualization of deities and trying to draw a line between polytheistic and monotheistic and saying they are incomparable isn't theologically or philosophically useful. A polytheistic setting is still conceptually "god" for the people at the time, the supernatural and divine divided up into many competing parts to form the system of belief and explaination and myth.

Zeus is thus just as much god as jesus or the demiurge is god if you are to attempt to compare two starkly different if not dissimilar systems.

If however the argument is "The Judeo-Muslim-Christian God existed back then as Zeus because that's what people called him at that time/region" is just plain silly and wrong.

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Teshi
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There's a lot of prescriptive discussion going on in this thread: "people are like this" or "people should be like this".

I think that's a bit of a dangerous game to play, whether you're talking about atheists, people who go to bars or people who are in their twenties.

Clearly, it's difficult to assign one meaning to one word and leave it at that.

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Orincoro
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shocker.
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Mucus
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Jaffa, kree
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Armoth
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Tom why is it ludicrous? An Atheist is sure. A theist is sure. An agnostic wants more evidence before he decides either way.

You can call it indecisive if you want, but to someone who identifies with that label, maybe it means that god is not a big part of his life. Maybe he feels that there is a higher power but cannot prove it, and doesn't know what to do with that feeling.

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Raymond Arnold
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I spent 5 years being very decidedly agnostic. I was commited to examining the issue, and knew I hadn't examined it enough yet to have an informed opinion.

I eventually identified as an atheist, when it became clear that for all intents and purposes, I was going to spend the rest of my life acting as if there were no God. I don't need 100% certainty to make a decision.

I think most agnostics are, for most intents and purposes, either a theist or an atheist.

However, the reason I made a choice to change my label was because I cared. I think it is a perfectly defensible position to say "I haven't examined this issue enough to have an informed opinion, and I will never care to."

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The Pixiest
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I find other atheists pretty much as dreary as I find the rest of humanity.

Ok, so I have one thing in common with them.. just like I have one thing in common with fiscal conservatives, lesbians, bisexuals, and computer gamers.

When that topic is used up, all the things we don't have in common come out.

And honestly "I don't believe in god." "Me neither!" goes by pretty quickly.

SF/Fantasy geeks are much better to have one thing in common with. We can talk that stuff for hours.

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