"You are not really an atheist"

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"You are not really an atheist"

Postby DjVortex » Fri Jun 22, 2012 5:14 pm

For a long time it puzzled me why so many christians use stock claims like "you are not really an atheist (at most an agnostic)" and "deep inside all atheists know that God exists, but they just deny it so they can live in sin", and some are quite persistent in creating a definition of "atheist" that basically applies to nobody.

Then I realized it: That's a way for them to convince themselves that nobody can be an atheist for actual good reasons. This way they don't have to listen to any reasoning they might give, and they can simply dismiss them as excuses.

I think it's (or at least is closely related to) the concept of "poisoning the well": If the believer convinces him/herself as well as others that atheists do really believe in God and are only inventing excuses, it predisposes them to not to listen to them. It's a kind of preemptive defense mechanism to guard oneself and fellow believers against any and all reasoning that might cast doubt on their beliefs.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Fri Jun 22, 2012 6:15 pm

Divortex wrote: If the believer convinces him/herself as well as others that atheists do really believe in God and are only inventing excuses, it predisposes them to not to listen to them.

One could just as easily say that believers know that their God doesn't exist and that the believers only invent excuses in order to predispose themselves to believe. Further, one could say that they're really atheists because they know their God doesn't exist. Words, words, words.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby sepia » Mon Jun 25, 2012 4:30 pm

I think, there are 2 different claims:

1) "You are not an atheist but an agnostic!" is based on a difference between atheism and agnosticism. This claim just deals with terminology.

2) "You are secretly a theist!" means that someone claiming not to belief in god is wrong.

The first claim contradicts the most common definitions of atheism.

The secound claim is an ad hominem assertion and doesn't adress the topic if there is a god. Even secret beliefs can be wrong. :mrgreen:

DjVortex wrote:I think it's (or at least is closely related to) the concept of "poisoning the well"

I have learned a new useful term.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby BloodRedLegend » Mon Sep 03, 2012 9:41 pm

It seems to me that the "You're not really an atheist, you just want to live in sin" argument falls on it's own sword if you just give it a slight bit of thought.

According to the doctrines of Christianity, a person may be forgiven and granted access to heaven if they genuinely repent, regardless of their lifestyle. Anything from theft to murder to adultery may be forgiven. The one exception to this rule is the sin of apostasy or disbelief. If you die without knowing Christ or deny him, you will face God's judgement and be sent to hell. So, if the theist's assertion that, as an atheist, I am only denying what I know to be true with the goal of avoiding God's judgement in mind is accurate, wouldn't identifying myself as an atheist be the very last thing I would want to do? If I wanted to live in sin, I'd just live in sin and repent like the vast majority of Christians do. If my goal is to avoid God's punishment, why would I knowingly commit the one sin that guarantees God's punishment?

It's just a matter of ignorance on the theist's part. It's a matter of not being able or willing to acknowledge the fact that some people may think differently than they do. I'm really not sure why the idea that a person might not believe that a god exists is one that's so difficult to grasp for some. Why is it so hard to believe that I don't believe?
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Tue Sep 04, 2012 8:24 pm

Well I would say that a theist who states, "you are not really an atheist" might be stating something worth paying attention to (especially if you are the person the theist is speaking with). The term "atheist" or "atheism" used to be less ambiguous than it is today. The terms have been given different meanings by different people, so it would help to be patient with someone who says, "you are not really an atheist". Why should you? Well, given what they understand "atheism" to be, they might be stating something true, and it can become an opportunity for you to share what it is you actually believe to be true.

I happen to be a monotheist. It would help me greatly if some of you could help me understand your positions better. If you care to, I would greatly appreciate it if you read the following and answered the following question:

Which, if any, describes your position most accurately (combinations are fine)? If none of the propositions below describe your position, then, as concisely as possible provide it.:

1) The proposition, "A god exists", is FALSE

2) The proposition, "No god exists", is TRUE

3) The proposition, "A god exists", can be neither TRUE nor FALSE.

4) The proposition, "A god exists", can not be answered at this time.

5) The proposition, "A god exists", is PROBABLY FALSE

6) The proposition, "No god exists", is PROBABLY TRUE

Thanks!
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Tue Sep 04, 2012 10:20 pm

GrammarOfAssent wrote:
1) The proposition, "A god exists", is FALSE

2) The proposition, "No god exists", is TRUE

3) The proposition, "A god exists", can be neither TRUE nor FALSE.

4) The proposition, "A god exists", can not be answered at this time.

5) The proposition, "A god exists", is PROBABLY FALSE

6) The proposition, "No god exists", is PROBABLY TRUE

I’ll share my view. None of the above six propositions does it for me, so I’ll propose two.

1- The proposition “A god exits” can be either true or false, but definitely not both true and false at the same time.

2- The proposition that the god that you name doesn’t exist is true since I see no convincing evidence.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Wed Sep 05, 2012 12:25 am

dobbie wrote:2- The proposition that the god that you name doesn’t exist is true since I see no convincing evidence.


Would your position be that "no convincing evidence" is proof of non-existence? If so, would you say that black holes did not exist until convincing evidence was provided?
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:04 am

dobbie wrote:2- The proposition that the god that you name doesn’t exist is true since I see no convincing evidence.
GrammarOfAssent wrote: Would your position be that "no convincing evidence" is proof of non-existence?

Well, that would be putting words in my mouth. The idea is that it's a proposition. It's a proposal. So the proposition works for me or it doesn't.

If so, would you say that black holes did not exist until convincing evidence was provided?

The proposition hasn't anything to do with black holes. It's to do with the god that somebody names. Somebody offers evidence for the existence of their god. If the person wasn't convincing, then of course there was no cogent evidence for the existence of the god that was named.

Somebody is unable to offer convincing evidence for the existence of their god. So their proposal (that their god exists) isn't true for me.

It's like Lucia's conversation in which somebody said that just because you can't see it or have any evidence for a god, it doesn't mean that the god doesn't exist. True. But if somebody proposes that a god exists in that way, the proposal isn't really very good for discussion. It's too close to "the anything goes mode." I say the proposal (the proposition) fails if it can't be accompanied by cogent empirical evidence (or even good logical evidence).

Lucia's thread:
http://forum.ironchariots.org/viewtopic.php?f=12&t=4396
Last edited by dobbie on Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:14 am

dobbie wrote:The proposition that the god that you (anybody really) name doesn't exist is true 'cause I don't find any convincing evidence.


Do you think the truth of a proposition is dependent on the hearer's consideration of the evidence, or is it rather, the hearer's judgment of the proposition that is dependent on the evidence? This is an important difference.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby dobbie » Wed Sep 05, 2012 3:44 am

GrammaOfAssent wrote: Do you think the truth of a proposition is dependent on the hearer's consideration of the evidence

Well, the proposition is dependent on the hearer's consideration of the evidence. And that's because I wrote that the convincing evidence was key as part of my proposition. Providing cogent evidence to me was a condition of my proposition.

I hope the sentence of my original proposition wasn't overly long. I might have made it confusing.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby BloodRedLegend » Wed Sep 05, 2012 4:38 am

For me, the choice that would most accurately represent my point of view would be 5.

I do not accept the claim that a god or gods exist because the claim is so incredible that proposed evidence would have to be of the most compelling nature. Ancient text, personal testimony or logical argument won't suffice.

A theist can craft the most sound and logical argument for god's existence that I've ever heard but, to me, all they've done is made an argument that may deserve to be taken into consideration and might warrant investigation. They have not proven god's existence. I do not think that god's existence can be proved with words.

I do not know that a god exists. I most certainly do know, however, that people have had a tendency to conjure up myths and assign supernatural explanations where supernatural explanations are not needed. A simple example of this would be the old idea that the presence of lightning meant that Zeus was angry. It's my belief that modern god concepts are similar false ideas that persist because they continue to be reinforced. They are traditions that have survived with the help of conquest, human credulity and man's inescapable fear of death. I know that these three things are real. I do not know that god is real. So, I think that god is probably make-believe.

An important thing to note, though, is that this does not mean that I claim to know god doesn't exist. The same skepticism that fuels my atheism also will not allow me to assert that god does not exist.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Wed Sep 05, 2012 8:43 pm

BloodRedLegend wrote:An important thing to note, though, is that this does not mean that I claim to know god doesn't exist.


I don't really care if you think you know it or not. That is an epistemologic discussion, and I don't think either of us is trying to have one of those. I am interested in your judgment of the propositions as either true or false (or in your case, probably true or probably false).

The same skepticism that fuels my atheism also will not allow me to assert that god does not exist.


Yet, you assert that "a god exists" is PROBABLY FALSE. According to the rules of logic...this is the same as:

asserting that "a god does not exist" is PROBABLY TRUE.

asserting that "No god(s) exists" is PROBABLY TRUE.

asserting that "All gods exist" is PROBABLY FALSE

Unless your reason for judging the proposition as PROBABLY FALSE is because rather than "a god" you think it is more likely that there are many (I doubt that is what you mean...just covering all bases), then you are, in fact, asserting that "a god probably does not exist" is a true proposition.

This begs the question... what is the probability, and how did you discover this probability?
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby BloodRedLegend » Wed Sep 05, 2012 10:11 pm

I recognize that humans have been known to make things up to compensate for lack of knowledge. I have to ask myself whether it's more likely that the god claims I've heard are mere superstitions that have taken hold as truth in people's minds for various reasons or if these claims are, in fact, true and there really is a universe creating, all knowing judge who resides beyond the limits of space and time. The former proposition is demonstrable. The latter is not. That's why I lean toward the former as being probably accurate in comparison to the latter.

I do not know what the probability is, if you're asking for numbers. I don't think that those numbers can, realistically or accurately, be presented. I don't think that's Important anyway. There are many, many god claims out there and none of them have given me reason to believe that they're true. Because of man's habit of getting things wrong, I've got to say that such outrageous claims are most likely incorrect until I'm given reason not to. If I'm wrong about that, I'd like someone to tell me why I'm wrong. I'd actually like someone to prove god's existence if it is real and prove which god truly is real in a way that would leave no doubt. That way, the world could stop arguing about it and people could stop oppressing and killing each other over it. We could all be on the same page, for once. Of course, if he/she or it is god, why can't it definitively prove it's existence itself?
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Thu Sep 06, 2012 2:49 am

Your argument for "a god probably does not exist" (if I read and understood your words correctly) is the following:

Premise 1) Some explanations are invented by humans without a basis in reason

Premise 2) All god claims (you have heard) are false explanations of reality

Therefore: "a god probably does not exist" is a true proposition.

Your conclusion is the same as one of your premises.

BloodRedLegend wrote:I do not know what the probability is, if you're asking for numbers. I don't think that those numbers can, realistically or accurately, be presented. I don't think that's Important anyway.


If the numbers, or even rough probability can not realistically or accurately be presented...then how do you judge that the probability indicates that "a god probably does not exist" is a TRUE proposition? How is that not important? How do you judge something is probably true or false without the probability? What data indicates to you that your judgment is likely true?

There are many, many god claims out there and none of them have given me reason to believe that they're true.


That is fine by me as long as you stop there. Withholding judgment on a proposition is fine, but as soon as you judge the proposition, there should be a reason for it. Your next sentence, however, presents a real problem...

Because of man's habit of getting things wrong, I've got to say that such outrageous claims are most likely incorrect until I'm given reason not to.


Ok, but why do "the outrageous claims" receive a default FALSE judgment as opposed to ordinary claims? Doesn't man's habit of getting things wrong apply just as regularly to ordinary things? Isn't it man's error in ordinary things that tip you off to this "habit" in the first place?

I'd actually like someone to prove god's existence if it is real and prove which god truly is real in a way that would leave no doubt.


Given your skeptical opinion of man's rational abilities, how could any such argument ever possibly exist for you? How could ANY convincing argument exist? In other words, how do you judge whether or not your judgment of an argument is free of error?

That way, the world could stop arguing about it and people could stop oppressing and killing each other over it. We could all be on the same page, for once.


I have some news for you, as long as you hold to your current epistemology and metaphysic, we will never be on the same page. We have substantially different first principles from which we work.

Of course, if he/she or it is god, why can't it definitively prove it's existence itself?


If your view of human reason is correct, and one must always be skeptical of man's rationality and judgment...a definitive proof is impossible, in principle.
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Re: "You are not really an atheist"

Postby Lausten » Thu Sep 06, 2012 5:22 pm

Grammar wrote:Premise 2) All god claims (you have heard) are false explanations of reality

Therefore: "a god probably does not exist" is a true proposition.

Your conclusion is the same as one of your premises.

I'm no expert in logic, but I think you have this wrong. What you are calling Premise 2 is not a premise at all. It is a collection of data. And the parenthetical (you have heard) part is a joke. I, and many others, have investigated many god claims. They are all still unproven; that is lacking the lowest standard of evidence and containing giant logic problems, effectively false. If you have one that isn't, please present it.

I'm not reading much of the rest of the details of what you have to say anymore because it is just gish-gallop around the idea of "you can't prove a negative". Go google that yourself and come back. Also, do you listen to the Atheist Experience? On many shows, including just a week or so ago, they discussed how the burden of proof is on the theist. I am involved in the atheist community because I think they are leading the way to a more peaceful world, one where people don't "hate fags" or abuse women and use the Bible to justify their actions. I don't trouble myself with the existence of God or god or gods any more than I trouble myself with the existence or unicorns.
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