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An "Athiest" claims that there is NO God!

 An "Agnostic" claims: " I don't KNOW if there is a God, or not!

 One has decided... the other has not decided.

 I think that a number of "Agnostics" have mis-labeled themselfs as "Athiest".

 So, my question, to you who label yourself as one or the other, is: have you mis-labeled yourself?

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If you will forgive me. I rather see this discussion as between a couple blind men discussing whether or not light actually exists. To blind men, what does it matter if light exists or not? I think the essential questions to ask are, "is the blindness of the men self imposed" and "what might the reason(s) be?"

But Peter and I are not discussing whether or not God exists, BB. 

I would be interested to do this and I do not think it pointless, but this is the wrong forum for it - I would accept BB's point on that

Jax Agnesson said:

Well yes I suppose I could recall some such arguments. I suppose I could put on my devil's-advocate wig and gown, and attempt to present such arguments in such a way that you would have to concede that they were indeed 'sensible'. But I'm sure you can see that such action would involve considerable effort for no conceivable good?
Widening out from the 'prove the non-existence of God' problem to the more general; I'm completely confident that you, Peter, do not seriously consider that any argument that doesn't support your own view must therefore not be 'sensible'.

PS. Yes, I know who Tantalus was.

The "existence" of God and the "super natural" are peppered all through this thread...I was reading in my sleep... perhaps I'll go back and read them again later.

that of course assumes what is to be proved, that atheists are blind. If they are so indeed, then this blindness is not self-imposed

Bit Brush said:

If you will forgive me. I rather see this discussion as between a couple blind men discussing whether or not light actually exists. To blind men, what does it matter if light exists or not? I think the essential questions to ask are, "is the blindness of the men self imposed" and "what might the reason(s) be?"

Here's me being more argumentative with you, Peter, than I am with the Theo's. But I'm sure you don't mind? The thing is, I don't think BB's blind-men analogy works very well, even from his own perspective. If one believes that the bible is a source of truth for mankind, and if therefore one accepts as 'evidence' Romans 1 etc, BB's actual position is, (correct me if I've misunderstood you, BB) that we atheists are not really blind, but are wilfully pretending to be so. Perhaps a more consistent analogy (though admittedly a more openly offensive one) would be of two men who have deliberately hoodwinked themselves, and are now arguing whether the light they both remember was ever really there.

In any case, God's existence or otherwise is not what you and I are debating. Our debate is simply whether an atheist could sensibly make a claim to know that God does not exist. You say she could not. I have seen many atheist arguments claiming to 'know' that God doesn't exist which seem to me, at the very least, strong enough that I could not dismiss them as 'stupid'.
Peter John Ellway said:

that of course assumes what is to be proved, that atheists are blind. If they are so indeed, then this blindness is not self-imposed

Bit Brush said:

If you will forgive me. I rather see this discussion as between a couple blind men discussing whether or not light actually exists. To blind men, what does it matter if light exists or not? I think the essential questions to ask are, "is the blindness of the men self imposed" and "what might the reason(s) be?"

ok, but re your second paragraph, I think we should not continue this literally godless discussion on a forum which explicitly accepts God's existence. I know that you have been more polite and accepting than I have of our marginality here, but I think this is one case where we should quit.

Having said that, I completely agree with what you say about the analogy. To BB, Jack and everyone else who thinks that Jax, I and other atheists are just too puffed up with pride to acknowledge the deity, I say categorically that it just ain't so. You may not believe us when we say this, but then why would we (Jax and I anyway) hang around here if we were not genuinely interested in your faith? There is no way that we are going to stop you believing in what you, and I don't think either of us wants to; as I think Jax has said many times, he wants to explore possible common understandings, and that goes for me too.

Jax Agnesson said:

Here's me being more argumentative with you, Peter, than I am with the Theo's. But I'm sure you don't mind? The thing is, I don't think BB's blind-men analogy works, even from his own perspective. If one believes that the biblical God exists, and if one accepts as 'evidence' Romans 1 etc, BB's actual position would have to be, (correct me if I've misunderstood you, BB) that we atheists are not really blind, but are wilfully pretending to be so.

In any case, God's existence or otherwise is not what you and I are debating. Our debate is simply whether an atheist could sensibly make a claim to know that God does not exist. You say she could not. I have seen many atheist arguments claiming to 'know' that God doesn't exist which seem to me, at the very least, strong enough that I could not dismiss them as 'stupid'.
Peter John Ellway said:

that of course assumes what is to be proved, that atheists are blind. If they are so indeed, then this blindness is not self-imposed

Bit Brush said:

If you will forgive me. I rather see this discussion as between a couple blind men discussing whether or not light actually exists. To blind men, what does it matter if light exists or not? I think the essential questions to ask are, "is the blindness of the men self imposed" and "what might the reason(s) be?"



Peter John Ellway said:

ok, but re your second paragraph, I think we should not continue this literally godless discussion on a forum which explicitly accepts God's existence. I know that you have been more polite and accepting than I have of our marginality here, but I think this is one case where we should quit.

Maybe so. OTOH, it does no harm for theists to see that atheists have different views. Perhaps as many different views as there are different flavours of theism. Or perhaps not.

On the whole though, I think a thread opened by a committed Christian for the purpose of exploring the distinction between atheism and agnosticism is an ideal arena for our present discussion; showing how, between the 'Nobody can possibly know" of the philosophical agnostic, to the 'I definitely know' of the strong theist and the 'I definitely know' of the equally strong atheist, there are many shades and gradations of thought.

But OK, I'll happily continue this particular line on TH.

as I said on TH, I think there is an asymmetry between the two cases, because if there is a God or gods, he/she/it/them could make themselves known, whereas if there is nothing, it clearly cannot make its non-existence known! So in fact I do accept that Xians can "know" that they are right in a way that atheists cannot

Jax Agnesson said:



Peter John Ellway said:

ok, but re your second paragraph, I think we should not continue this literally godless discussion on a forum which explicitly accepts God's existence. I know that you have been more polite and accepting than I have of our marginality here, but I think this is one case where we should quit.

Maybe so. OTOH, it does no harm for theists to see that atheists have different views. Perhaps as many different views as there are different flavours of theism. Or perhaps not.

On the whole though, I think a thread opened by a committed Christian for the purpose of exploring the distinction between atheism and agnosticism is an ideal arena for our present discussion; showing how, between the 'Nobody can possibly know" of the philosophical agnostic, to the 'I definitely know' of the strong theist and the 'I definitely know' of the equally strong atheist, there are many shades and gradations of thought.

But OK, I'll happily continue this particular line on TH.

Are you simply saying that if and only if a God existed then the theist would be within his epistemic rights to claim to know that this God exists;  but that whether this God exists or not, the atheist cannot ever be within her epistemic rights to claim to know of that non-existence?

Or are you saying that you think the theist may be within his epistemic rights to claim knowledge of God, even though you personally believe that this God does not exist?



Peter John Ellway said:

as I said on TH, I think there is an asymmetry between the two cases, because if there is a God or gods, he/she/it/them could make themselves known, whereas if there is nothing, it clearly cannot make its non-existence known! So in fact I do accept that Xians can "know" that they are right in a way that atheists cannot

Fair point, BB. Respect! Jax.

Bit Brush said:

The "existence" of God and the "super natural" are peppered all through this thread...I was reading in my sleep... perhaps I'll go back and read them again later.

Blindness is sometimes self imposed if one has decided there is nothing to see.

Peter John Ellway said:

that of course assumes what is to be proved, that atheists are blind. If they are so indeed, then this blindness is not self-imposed

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