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The Agnostic Myth

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Post Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:20 pm
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arrowroots wrote:
Jim wrote:
What exactly is it that you don't believe in?


The Supernatural.


That's fair enough, but is the Supernatural the same as god?
Is an atheist who believes in magic but not in gods still an atheist?
What's the difference between supernatural and nonsense?


That's a good question. There is a very real difference between skepticism and atheism. One very often leads to the other, but not always. So yes, an atheist who believes in magic is still an atheist.

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Post Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:39 pm
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arrowroots wrote:


I guess if Dawkins is the authority on Atheism, then it would be none of the above.


I totally understand. I put that there because of its current popularity. My mother is at 2 on the scale, while I am at 6. She is a university educated theologian and I am an avowed nonbeliever yet we are both somehow "agnostic". Even worse, my wife teeters between all 7 points depending on the time of day.

As much as I admire Dawkins, I think the scale is nonsensical.

Post Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:31 am
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but is the Supernatural the same as god?


It's his realm and his primary attribute as I understand it. As a naturalist getting me to even entertain such much less swallow that a supernatural state is possible is going to be a bit of a trick and the trick better have some kind of evidence attached. Barring that the assertion is unworthy consideration. Classic weak atheism in other words which I feel is the default position.

I have never been comfortable with expressing atheism in positive terms; I don't think one can make the assertion with mathematical certainty even as I'd be entirely comfortable philosophically with a probability to several decimal places. Another reason is I see making the assertion as a tacit admission that the possibility exists and shift the burden of proof from someone who had no proof in the first place to one who wouldn't normally be burdened save the fact that he/she is asserting that an assertion is incorrect and force myself to bear the burden of an evidentiary standard that the theist was unable to comply with in the first place

Is an atheist who believes in magic but not in gods still an atheist?


Well, I caught myself as I was seeking the "n" and "o" keys as there's a trap therein. In a very very very semantic application of the terms one could I suppose believe in one but not the other but in a more practical view atheism is some form of rejection of things supernatural and "magic" is simply another folk tale based in the same realm with similar rules and I can't see a logical path that would allow one to accept one and categorically dismiss the other. So I'm going back to the "No" that my instincts first suggested.

What's the difference between supernatural and nonsense?


About a nanometer and that difference is more born from my desire to be kind to my theistic brothers and sisters than it is anything I can actually discern.

Post Mon Aug 27, 2012 4:59 am
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I posted in another forum what i meant by religion:

When I talk about religion I am talking about organised groups of ppl or individuals that believe in fairy tales.
That is invisible beings and different forms of magic. Ghosts, spirits, and masonic reptilians are included in this. Also I include amway because they are an organised group of ppl that act like pentacostals worshipping money. I guess that adds fanaticism into my definition.

When i talk about "god" i mean some invisible being that supposedly made everything and is in charge of everything and talks to some schizophrenics and is basically an excuse for some ppl to do whatever they want to. This includes amways god "money" because they justify everything they do by saying its in the pursuit of money.

Afterlives are a whole new topic and maybe someone will start a thread. The klingons have no gods and yet they have an afterlife. I know ppl who call themselves atheist yet they believe in reincarnation. Fear of death. Thats what a LOT of religious ppl are inflicted with and so they need a "reward" for living. From my experience with most religious ppl they would be going the other way anyway.

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Post Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:38 am
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Jim wrote:
but is the Supernatural the same as god?


It's his realm and his primary attribute as I understand it. As a naturalist getting me to even entertain such much less swallow that a supernatural state is possible is going to be a bit of a trick and the trick better have some kind of evidence attached. Barring that the assertion is unworthy consideration. Classic weak atheism in other words which I feel is the default position.


The strange thing is that if you speak to evangelical Christians who know about their religion and even ex-Christians, very few of them talk in terms of God and a supernatural domain. They regard God as totally 100% natural. I got the same story from a theologist friend who calls himself "agnostic". We need to avoid falling into a strawman trap with the term.

I have never been comfortable with expressing atheism in positive terms; I don't think one can make the assertion with mathematical certainty even as I'd be entirely comfortable philosophically with a probability to several decimal places.


Again it's much easier to talk about belief and lack thereof when you have a well-defined mainstream god concept such as in Christianity, Islam or Judaism. It's less easy when you get into Pantheism, Panentheism and similar concepts that equate god with nature or life or the neural network of human consciousness. These are generally non-interventionist "gods" that are probably celebrated rather than worshipped. OK, you can say "I don't believe in those either" without fully considering them, but it's a position that's easily challenged.

The problem is that believers in god generally don't even know what they believe in (but they know it when they see it). With your first sentence, you preempt where I'm going (Brights etc). I'm not going there.

Another reason is I see making the assertion as a tacit admission that the possibility exists and shift the burden of proof from someone who had no proof in the first place to one who wouldn't normally be burdened save the fact that he/she is asserting that an assertion is incorrect and force myself to bear the burden of an evidentiary standard that the theist was unable to comply with in the first place


I find burden of proof to be not particularly relevant to this issue. Pascal's wager is nonsensical. Not many things in life come with any proof. For example, you might bring up the question of love, but where is the burden of proof? You could then ask - "how do I know you're not acting?" etc.

Well, I caught myself as I was seeking the "n" and "o" keys as there's a trap therein. In a very very very semantic application of the terms one could I suppose believe in one but not the other but in a more practical view atheism is some form of rejection of things supernatural and "magic" is simply another folk tale based in the same realm with similar rules and I can't see a logical path that would allow one to accept one and categorically dismiss the other. So I'm going back to the "No" that my instincts first suggested.


I'm definitely not trying to trap you with semantics. I guess you could still describe that person as an atheist, albeit perhaps an unusual one. I know one atheist who believes in horoscopes.

What's the difference between supernatural and nonsense?


About a nanometer and that difference is more born from my desire to be kind to my theistic brothers and sisters than it is anything I can actually discern.



By the way, I guess you could describe me as a kind of naturalist too. If some people choose to believe in what they describe as a God, then it doesn't concern me much.

So would you describe gambling mythology as supernatural? How many people have you heard saying "I'm on a run" ? Now that's one area where you'll find plenty of self labelled atheists among others. By the way, the way I think, the only people who are atheists are those who describe themselves thus. I think it's rude to label people.
Last edited by arrowroots on Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:53 am, edited 1 time in total.

Post Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:49 am
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Spot of Borg wrote:

When i talk about "god" i mean some invisible being that supposedly made everything and is in charge of everything and talks to some schizophrenics and is basically an excuse for some ppl to do whatever they want to. This includes amways god "money" because they justify everything they do by saying its in the pursuit of money.


Amway believe that money created the Universe and talks to people? I had no idea. I have heard the phrase "Money talks" though.

I think that anyone can define religion in whatever way they want, in the same way that they can define art or the perfect coffee - and every definition is valid. Religion, art, god and taste in coffee are all human attributes. They are meaningless outside a cognitive frame.

On a related issue, a good actor feels pain, love, fear and the entire spectrum of human emotion. The acting itself releases Oxytocin, Serotonin, Noradrenaline, Vasopressin etc. So what distinguishes it from real emotion?

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