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Thread: Do we have to chose between atheism and theism?

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    Veteran Member Treedbear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DrZoidberg View Post
    ...
    I don't agree. ...
    I agree that the words are misleading, and probably most of the time. I've tried to qualify it by saying I'm an atheist but that was not to say I believe there's no God, just that I don't have reason to believe there is. This didn't go over so well at a family gathering where everyone is either Irish or Polish. Just mentioning the word atheist puts up a wall. Things were never the same and are tending towards worse even though the subject was never spoken of again. I hesitated for a long time before changing my category from agnostic to atheist, mainly because I also tended to think of atheism as the belief there is no God, rather than the lack of belief. Even agnosticism has been defined as the belief that God (or the existence of God) is simply unknowable. But maybe it's unavoidable that any word that ends in -ism is taken to mean a specific belief, rather than a way of thinking or system of beliefs. And maybe that's the way it should be. But it still must be recognized that it doesn't define every way of interpreting it.

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    Veteran Member Brian63's Avatar
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    I have gotten to care less and less about the labels, and which one is "the" correct label. Words change meaning over time and vary in different texts, and various people interpret it differently. It is the underlying belief that is more significant than the label. In the U.S., the word "socialist" is also a dirty word to describe someone. No need to debate the merits of socialism, just the label on its own turns off many people. The word "liberal" has a similar negative stigma, so that people who do actually hold liberal views will still avoid using the label.

    If someone else were to describe me as an agnostic, or atheist, or nontheist, or skeptic...whatever. The difference is very subtle and rather insignificant in comparison to other issues. I identify as an atheist mostly because the term should be de-stigmatized as much as we can.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian63 View Post
    I have gotten to care less and less about the labels, and which one is "the" correct label. Words change meaning over time and vary in different texts, and various people interpret it differently. It is the underlying belief that is more significant than the label. In the U.S., the word "socialist" is also a dirty word to describe someone. No need to debate the merits of socialism, just the label on its own turns off many people. The word "liberal" has a similar negative stigma, so that people who do actually hold liberal views will still avoid using the label.

    If someone else were to describe me as an agnostic, or atheist, or nontheist, or skeptic...whatever. The difference is very subtle and rather insignificant in comparison to other issues. I identify as an atheist mostly because the term should be de-stigmatized as much as we can.
    The difference between "lack of belief" and "God does not exist" is the difference between skepticism and dogmatism. That's not being fussy with words, it's pointing at an important distinction.

    If you've observed theist and agnostic posts, you know from how they tend to be superstitious people, they're also sloppy as hell with language. And therefore sloppy in their thinking. Atheists tend to be "fussy" with words... that is, more intent on being clear. It's not a weird quirk. Clarity matters.

    You say the labels don't matter much to you but then you say you'd like de-stigmatize the term "atheist". Well if you want to change the perception of the label then labels matter, right?

    I emphasize "lack of belief" because I'm an atheist for being a skeptic. It's general skepticism, but applied to a particular set of ideas.

    I consider that very important. Especially with the theists, agnostics and even the occasional "special sort of atheist" (the ones that want to let you know they're not dogmatic or christocentric or hyper-rationalist or Dawkins-ish or scientistic or an unexamined fanboy of the Enlightenment... 'like YOU other atheists') piling on with misrepresentations and incomprehension.

    You want changes in society. And you recognize that a fair-minded perception of the labels matter to such changes, because they help us explain ourselves to others. So, it matters that people don't take your labels and tell you what you mean by them.

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    Veteran Member Brian63's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by abaddon View Post
    You say the labels don't matter much to you, but then you say you'd like de-stigmatize the term "atheist". Well if you want to change the perception of the label then labels matter, right?
    It is fairly insignificant for abstract or philosophical contexts, where 100 people who all do not believe there is evidence of a god refer to themselves as agnostics or atheists or nontheists or whatever. In terms of pragmatism and for social progress though, it is still important to de-stigmatize the label atheist. Hence adopting that term.

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    Agnosticism is fence sitting.

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    There is always the apathetic agnostic - I don't know and I don't care!

    Sent from my SM-T550 using Tapatalk

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    Contributor DrZoidberg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Agnosticism is fence sitting.
    Unless you truly can't decide because you think both are convincing. Fence sitting is if you live your life as if God doesn't exist, but still call yourself agnostic because... hey... nobody knows everything.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Quote Originally Posted by sinkorswim View Post
    There is always the apathetic agnostic - I don't know and I don't care!

    Sent from my SM-T550 using Tapatalk
    I'd call that post-atheism.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bilby View Post
    Do you believe in gods, or not? How confident are you about your belief/disbelief? and How much do you care about it?

    Post-atheism is people who say 'No, very, not at all' to these three questions. But any combination of responses is possible.
    I don't know what the semantics should be, but this sums up the issue itself and where people fall on it well. So its not just a binary thing of believer or non-believer.

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    Veteran Member Wiploc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jolly_Penguin View Post
    So its not just a binary thing of believer or non-believer.
    You either believe or you don't.

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    Veteran Member George S's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Agnosticism is fence sitting.
    I know a man who is a gnostic atheist. He firmly believes he knows there is no god of any stripe.
    I know a woman who is an agnostic theist. She is unsure that anyone can know the truth for sure, but she is a Roman Catholic.

    An agnositic believes the truth cannot be decided.
    A gnostic believes there is an absolute truth regarding the god question.

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