Fellow Atheists/Agnostic Atheists - Let's Chat: Do you feel it is risky being "out" these days?

Atheist and agnostic are not exclusionary terms, as they answer different questions. Atheist/theist specify belief, whereas agnostic/gnostic specify knowledge. Most of the atheists I know are also agnostic, as am I. I don't believe in gods, but I don't know with certainty that there aren't gods. Theists can also be agnostic, but due to the nature of most modern religions its not as common.

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Certainly, sir!

Yeah, sorry. The misconception around those terms is one of my pet peeves. /pedant

I completely understand. I sometimes just use terms like that because it is what most people associate with them. I'm lazy.

I would technically consider myself an agnostic atheist, as it is more desirable to seem somewhat open to possibilities, and I don't actually know, however...

In actuality, I'm probably much closer to gnostic than agnostic, for the following reasons:

  • Humanity has a multitude of god claims in its history, not one of which has ever proven true.
  • Based on this, it is far more likely that the entire concept of god(s) is a human construct to begin with.
  • Based on THIS, any agnostic theist claims (i.e. disinterested being), and many claims of those atheists who are more strongly agnostic (i.e. we really can't know, therefore we have no right to claim it doesn't exist) seem based more in diplomatic wishful thinking than logic.

My skepticism about any god claim likely to arise in the future, even if something walked up to me and claimed to be a god, and demonstrated some extraordinary power would still force the question of why this being deserved that title. As Arthur C. Clarke said, any sufficiently advanced technology would appear as magic to less advanced observers. It is more likely that this being is an advanced alien with some unknown technology taking advantage of the human penchant for seeking explanations in god claims before observations than it is that a god has manifested itself to us after an entire history of going unproven.

ruhk wrote:

Yeah, sorry. The misconception around those terms is one of my pet peeves. /pedant ;)

The problem is that words mean what "people" broadly decide they mean, and the distinction you've provided (while useful) doesn't necessarily align with most people's actual understandings of the words.

I hate that quadrant thing, because it misses, to me, the point of atheism; I don't claim to "know" God doesn't exist any more than I claim to "know" fairies, unicorns, and magic fire-farting space turtles don't exist. The concepts of those things are simply irrelevant and not worth bothering about. I'm not an "a-magic fire-farting space turtle-ist". I don't care, and I don't feel the need to evangelize I'm an apatheist.

People don't hedge their bets about fairies and unicorns, yet do about the concept of a "God". Seems pointless to me.

Eh labels tend to get somewhat silly, particularly with self ascribed labels. It tends to not be pedantic, so much as semantic. Have you ever heard a Libertarian talk about why Penn Jillette is not really a libertarian?

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

I hate that quadrant thing, because it misses, to me, the point of atheism; I don't claim to "know" God doesn't exist any more than I claim to "know" fairies, unicorns, and magic fire-farting space turtles don't exist. The concepts of those things are simply irrelevant and not worth bothering about. I'm not an "a-magic fire-farting space turtle-ist". I don't care, and I don't feel the need to evangelize I'm an apatheist.

People don't hedge their bets about fairies and unicorns, yet do about the concept of a "God". Seems pointless to me.

Exactly.

I recently stumbled across the notion of Absurdism, which seems to capture my slant on atheism particularly well.

Wikipedia wrote:

Absurdism, therefore, is a philosophical school of thought stating that the efforts of humanity to find inherent meaning will ultimately fail (and hence are absurd) because the sheer amount of information as well as the vast realm of the unknown make certainty impossible.

It seems particularly apropos when it comes to the realm of the supernatural, which is, by definition, ineffable. And religion is the express attempt to explain the unexplainable. What is that if not absurd?

Sounds like Douglas Adams. I am nearly finishing the complete Hitchiker's Guide, and it is making me lean more absurdest-atheist.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

People don't hedge their bets about fairies and unicorns, yet do about the concept of a "God". Seems pointless to me.

There's much better evidence to suggest that things like fairies and unicorns don't exist, since those concepts are much more concrete and easier to test for. I'd probably toss Abrahamic God in the same bucket as fairies and unicorns, but if you're talking about "a god" in a more general sense I'd be a lot less certain.

gore wrote:
MilkmanDanimal wrote:

People don't hedge their bets about fairies and unicorns, yet do about the concept of a "God". Seems pointless to me.

There's much better evidence to suggest that things like fairies and unicorns don't exist, since those concepts are much more concrete and easier to test for. I'd probably toss Abrahamic God in the same bucket as fairies and unicorns, but if you're talking about "a god" in a more general sense I'd be a lot less certain.

How? The concept of "a god" is effectively a convenient philosophical bucket to hold a series of answers to "there's not a scientific explanation, so maybe?" questions. I mean, can't I just answer "you can't see fairies with the eyes of the head, you can only see them with the eyes of the heart" and we're basically back on the same ground again?

Fairy stealth magic is unmatched. They are watching us, preparing to spoil your milk at the slightest provocation.

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

IPeople don't hedge their bets about fairies and unicorns, yet do about the concept of a "God". Seems pointless to me.

It's not about hedging bets, it's about taking control of the conversation. Most people who call themselves agnostics are just atheists who don't want to deal with the baggage that the religious have placed around the term atheist. Owning the word "atheist" is the first step in stealing it back from the religious and making it more acceptable to be an atheist.

gore wrote:

The problem is that words mean what "people" broadly decide they mean, and the distinction you've provided (while useful) doesn't necessarily align with most people's actual understandings of the words.

Which is why it's important to be precise, after all, the primary argument that the religious use to attack the teaching of evolution is because "it's just a theory."

MilkmanDanimal wrote:

How? The concept of "a god" is effectively a convenient philosophical bucket to hold a series of answers to "there's not a scientific explanation, so maybe?" questions. I mean, can't I just answer "you can't see fairies with the eyes of the head, you can only see them with the eyes of the heart" and we're basically back on the same ground again?

The fundamental distinction is that we understand our reality relatively well on the scale in which we would have to observe a unicorn or a fairy or a YHWH. These things all require direct physical manifestations and as legend has it they seem to do things which actively conflict with our understanding of reality.

"A god," though? I can envision some form of sentient entity who might create a universe such as our own - as a simulation, as an experiment, whatever - and let it play out. There's nothing a human can observe to contradict the notion that the rules of our reality might be (a constructed) subset of some higher order reality.

Is any of that likely? Some smart people actually do seem to think so, but I suppose on the whole, not very. Still, I think you do people who account for the possibility of some kind of god a disservice by lumping all potential deities in with fairies and unicorns.

gore wrote:

Still, I think you do people who account for the possibility of some kind of god a disservice by lumping all potential deities in with fairies and unicorns.

My fairy and unicorn Gods are amused by your quaint sensitivities, but somewhat offended by your dismissive tone towards their divine selves. They want me to punish you, but as they are incapable of manifesting or affecting any direct aspect of my life I shall ignore their mandate. You're welcome.

Now that I think about it, my last post was clearly racist against fairy and unicorn gods.

I've said it before, possibly in this very thread, but what constitutes "a god" is a personal belief. It doesn't have to be an all powerful being or the creator of the universe, it just has to have someone worship it as a god. I think the example I gave was that if there's a guy who thinks the squirrel that lives in a tree in his backyard is a god, that person is a theist that believes in a god, and that squirrel is someone's god. The idea that a god has to be onmi-anything most likely stems from monotheism's rise, where it had to discredit previous gods and show that their god was the true god because he was more powerful.
There's no reason the defenses for an all-powerful being or universe creator can't apply to fairies as well.

gore wrote:

Now that I think about it, my last post was clearly racist against fairy and unicorn gods.

Crom laughs at your puny fairy and unicorn gods.

Stengah wrote:

I've said it before, possibly in this very thread, but what constitutes "a god" is a personal belief. It doesn't have to be an all powerful being or the creator of the universe, it just has to have someone worship it as a god. I think the example I gave was that if there's a guy who thinks the squirrel that lives in a tree in his backyard is a god, that person is a theist that believes in a god, and that squirrel is someone's god. The idea that a god has to be onmi-anything most likely stems from monotheism's rise, where it had to discredit previous gods and show that their god was the true god because he was more powerful.
There's no reason the defenses for an all-powerful being or universe creator can't apply to fairies as well.

Not only this, but there's nothing inherently more respectable in someone's belief in an invisible, all-powerful, all-knowing deity. It just happens to hold a majority position.

gore wrote:

"A god," though? I can envision some form of sentient entity who might create a universe such as our own - as a simulation, as an experiment, whatever - and let it play out. There's nothing a human can observe to contradict the notion that the rules of our reality might be (a constructed) subset of some higher order reality.

Whether there is some greater power or not is a completely irrelevant mental exercise.

If you believe in a superior being running us through a maze to see if we can make it through, that's one thing.

If you say this superior being is trying to win a science fair project by creating a sentient species who makes it through the maze but doesn't eat meat (except fish) on Fridays from one arbitrary date until another; if the being wins, we get lots of food and water and they remove all the bad things; and if they lose, we get fed to the local snake, then we have ourselves a problem.

In that second scenario, you're telling me that I have to behave a certain way to make this superior being happy, and if I don't, bad things happen to me and/or everyone.

Without an impact on our lives, it's just a mental exercise where the result doesn't really matter, but when you start using that belief to impact the lives of others, you need to start showing some evidence.

My position is that, as an atheist, I'm talking about that second kind of god. Now if a giant hand reaches down, puts me in a maze and says "get to the other side, and follow these arbitrary rules." I'm going to listen. But if another person says, "I was spoken to by God, and he says to do these arbitrary things that benefit me and stop doing these other things that annoy me." I'm going to ignore them.

kaostheory wrote:

Now if a giant hand reaches down, puts me in a maze and says "get to the other side, and follow these arbitrary rules." I'm going to listen.

I would agree, only for the fact that whatever owns this giant hand is seemingly more powerful than me. Even so, I would need some concrete demonstration of the consequences of disobedience. But more importantly, I still wouldn't accept that this was a god.

Especially since every other guy on the block has a different story of what his God wants me to do. They can't all be right...

Dire Straits

"Two men say they are Jesus
One of them must be wrong"

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

Dire Straits

"Two men say they are Jesus
One of them must be wrong"

:D

I dunno, Jesus is a pretty common name.

Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

Dire Straits

"Two men say they are Jesus
One of them must be wrong"

:D

Or both of them are wrong...

gore wrote:
Gorilla.800.lbs wrote:

Dire Straits

"Two men say they are Jesus
One of them must be wrong"

:D

I dunno, Jesus is a pretty common name.

IMAGE(http://www.bibliobabes.ca/uploads/8/2/8/0/8280440/4849405.jpg?272)

For your irreverent entertainment:

Nicholaas wrote:

For your irreverent entertainment:

I was thoroughly entertained.