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

Thanks. It got pretty hairy coming home from work early this morning. We had to race the storm surge as it was going up the bay and past the breakers.

Real wrath of god stuff, eh?

Sorry, could not resist. I'm always amazed at the power of hurricanes, even though - maybe especially though - I've been through nearly 20 of them over the years. Quite dangerous when there is flooding involved.

LarryC wrote:

Thanks. It got pretty hairy coming home from work early this morning. We had to race the storm surge as it was going up the bay and past the breakers.

Yikes. I may hate the winters, but there are times I am very thankful I live in a fairly tame weather zone. Good luck to you all down there.

Truly. It really gives you a real taste of what exactly people were thinking when they think of things like gods and the supernatural. Once you've been in the palm of a natural force that powerful, it's hard not to be in awe of it. Of course, it is a hurricance. We already know how it works. Sort of. Mostly.

NSMike wrote:
MikeSands wrote:
NSMike wrote:

So basically, gnostic atheists are just as irrational as someone acting on religious faith.

That seems to be going a bit far.

I'd count myself in that category based on the argument that (a) obviously we can't actually rule out a deity but (b) everything about the world points to there not being one.

That's certainly not an irrational view, and I'll happily defend it. But it's open to revision based on new evidence, it's not something that I'll defend to the death.

Hmm. This further muddies the water for me, then.

I'm drawn to the line of thought put forth by Arthur C. Clarke, where any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. It would seem just as plausible to me that an advanced technology could be used to insert evidence of the existence of a god as put forth by human definitions. How far do you take that skepticism? If all of humanity were suddenly to receive a seemingly telepathic message that said "I am god, worship me," what would that mean for skeptics?

Which is the more plausible argument?

"I have never experienced something that was so obviously a communication, and was experienced and can be corroborated by every human being alive, therefore it must have been a god."
"I have never experienced something that was so obviously a communication, and was experienced and can be corroborated by every human being alive, but that does not mean it truly was a god."

What kind of evidence could there possibly be that would be sufficient proof of the existence of a god(s)?

That's way off topic. You don't have to answer if you don't want to. I'm just uncertain if I'm AA or GA, and wondering if such a split is justifiable, or even reasonably distinguishable.

For me, my initial leanings towards atheism (or GA or GMC or DTMFA or whatever) were really more practical concerns than anything. It was along the lines of "Why would a just and fair god do this thing? Why should I worship a god who would want me to do this?"

In other words, power isn't the sole qualifier for me in order to say, "there is a god, or this is a god." You also have to include a few things like fairness, infallibility, kindness, etc. If the message goes on to say, "I am god, worship me and kill all the unbelievers," I might be convinced that there is a god, or something with powers that we would associate with a god, but that doesn't mean I'm going to start obeying or worshipping it. Ditto for commands of an elaborate system of behavior with no justification ("I am god, worship me. Also, your tastiest--I mean, most capable members should immediately begin construction of a tower of my design which is definitely not a system for interstellar teleportation.")

But this is getting way off track.

(I am god. Worship me. And drink more Pepsi.)

kazooka wrote:

For me, my initial leanings towards atheism (or GA or GMC or DTMFA or whatever) were really more practical concerns than anything. It was along the lines of "Why would a just and fair god do this thing? Why should I worship a god who would want me to do this?"

In other words, power isn't the sole qualifier for me in order to say, "there is a god, or this is a god." You also have to include a few things like fairness, infallibility, kindness, etc. If the message goes on to say, "I am god, worship me and kill all the unbelievers," I might be convinced that there is a god, or something with powers that we would associate with a god, but that doesn't mean I'm going to start obeying or worshipping it. Ditto for commands of an elaborate system of behavior with no justification ("I am god, worship me. Also, your tastiest--I mean, most capable members should immediately begin construction of a tower of my design which is definitely not a system for interstellar teleportation.")

But this is getting way off track.

(I am god. Worship me. And drink more Pepsi.)

Well, I never intended that to indicate the sole qualifier, it was just an easy way to form a hypothetical argument. Considering that part of me coming to atheism in the first place was an examination of evil and the character of god(s) contrasted against his/her/their actions, I, of course, would not simply use supreme power alone.

Major Kira Nerys wrote:

You can't judge people by what they think, or say, only by what they do.

That is interesting. I was very comfortable with god being capricious or arbitrary. What led me to atheism was, in my view, a genuine lack of evidence.

That and when I thought about it in terms of thought experiments like "if god is not real what would the world look like?" The answer was inevitably, exactly what it looks like now.

I don't know if this is the right place for this, but it seemed too P&C for the regular pictures thread:

(Click to view larger if you can't read it)
IMAGE(https://fbcdn-sphotos-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/304867_10150308428348951_576733950_8316630_1551606641_n.jpg)

Awesome!

That is hilarious and awesome!

awesome and highly appropriate.

I find that atheism is the only logical conclusion that anyone can take after deciding to apply skepticism to all facets of life.
I only turn off the "Evidence required" switch when reaching out to theists and bring in the more questionable aspects of their god.

Inova:

Shouldn't that be agnosticism, though? True skepticism requires that you be equally skeptical of any position and require proof for both positive and negative claims.

The problem about most people when they talk about claims though is that they treat them as equal.

Not all positive/negative claims are equal and there are different levels of evidence required for those different claims
e.g.

1. I ate steak for dinner last night

2. Saw someone walk on water and calmed a storm

Claim 1 such a routine thing that I doubt anyone will demand evidence for this, whereas Claim 2 is so outrages that unless your mind is conditioned to accept certain facts, you will probably demand that evidence is produced.

So while Skepticism demands that you be skeptical of everything, not everything has to have the same amount of skepticism applied to it. If that makes sense.

As to your suggestion that Agnosticism being the default position, I put forth the following:
Agnosticism applies to the domain of knowledge, as in, I don't know if there is a god.
Atheism applies to your actual position, as in, I currently don't believe that there is a god. And as with everything in life, this is subject to being revised.

A subtle distinction but important. Thus the proper term for someone in my position is that I am an agnostic atheist

Inova:

And I am an agnostic theist. However, I'm not going to say that there is any preponderance of proof in any direction. I am a theist because I choose to be, not because the evidence points one way or another way. I am clear to myself, and to others, that this is absolutely a point of belief, and neither a point of logic, nor a point suggested by evidence.

You said that it was logical to believe in the absence of a god given strict skepticism. I'm pointing out that that's really not logic, but belief. Strict logical skepticism holds that we should withhold all judgment on the matter indefinitely until further proof or logical reasoning can ferret out an answer - a strict agnostic without any belief in either theism or atheism.

I think he made his position rather clear. He is atheist until compelling evidence to the contrary is presented that could revise his position. I am certain he is the same way about magic unicorns, leprechauns,and Santa Claus as well.

We don't insist that, because there is no evidence to provide the negative existence of those that we must all remain agnostic of them. Instead we adjust our understanding of the universe as evidence becomes available. And we have mountains more evidence now than when bronze age primitives attributed phenomena they did not understand to gods.

LarryC wrote:

Inova:

And I am an agnostic theist. However, I'm not going to say that there is any preponderance of proof in any direction. I am a theist because I choose to be, not because the evidence points one way or another way. I am clear to myself, and to others, that this is absolutely a point of belief, and neither a point of logic, nor a point suggested by evidence.

You said that it was logical to believe in the absence of a god given strict skepticism. I'm pointing out that that's really not logic, but belief. Strict logical skepticism holds that we should withhold all judgment on the matter indefinitely until further proof or logical reasoning can ferret out an answer - a strict agnostic without any belief in either theism or atheism.

I'm an Agnostic Athiest, but I would say there is no evidence of a god. That's why I see Athiesm as logical (possibly wrong, but still a logical conclusion). Have you ever had your belly opened up and found a unicorn pooping out skittles? I would say it's logical to assume that your abdomen is not full of skittles pooping unicorns (possibly wrong, but still a logical conclusion) even though it's as plausible as a god watching me right now.

**Tanhausered** I never thought bringing up magical unicorns would be tanhausered.

Let's be clear here. We are NOT going to talking about theism. NOT. There's a theism thread for that. Instead, we will be talking about logic, and strict agnosticism.

Your analogies, Paleocon, and KrazyTaco[FO] are flawed. It is true that I do not know whether or not magical unicorns exist in my body. Until that is confirmed with actual surgery, I maintain a remote possibility for that occurring. Yes, you both probably think me insane for saying that, but that's only logical and critical. It's not likely, but possible in the pure sense that everything is possible in some reality theories.

That said, I do actually have scientific evidence that strongly suggests that I do not, in fact, have magical unicorns in my stomach; because I have had myself X-rayed, have extensive experience in how humans are generally constructed, and have examined myself minutely for all the typical signs.

These are all scientifically strong evidences that I do not have magical unicorns in my stomach, and on the basis of these evidences, I hold that the likelihood that I have the insides directly analogous to what I visualize is in excess of 90%, going by epidemiological data.

We do not have similarly suggestive evidence for the absence of God. Therefore, it is a very much weaker claim than the analogous claims you both have provided, from a purely scientific standpoint.

That said, you are both entitled to your beliefs, as are all people, and I hope we can continue to share ways in which our beliefs are respected, and how our beliefs could be made to be better tolerated by persecutors.

LarryC wrote:

Let's be clear here. We are NOT going to talking about theism. NOT. There's a theism thread for that. Instead, we will be talking about logic, and strict agnosticism.

Your analogies, Paleocon, and KrazyTaco[FO] are flawed. It is true that I do not know whether or not magical unicorns exist in my body. Until that is confirmed with actual surgery, I maintain a remote possibility for that occurring. Yes, you both probably think me insane for saying that, but that's only logical and critical. It's not likely, but possible in the pure sense that everything is possible in some reality theories.

That said, I do actually have scientific evidence that strongly suggests that I do not, in fact, have magical unicorns in my stomach; because I have had myself X-rayed, have extensive experience in how humans are generally constructed, and have examined myself minutely for all the typical signs.

These are all scientifically strong evidences that I do not have magical unicorns in my stomach, and on the basis of these evidences, I hold that the likelihood that I have the insides directly analogous to what I visualize is in excess of 90%, going by epidemiological data.

We do not have similarly suggestive evidence for the absence of God. Therefore, it is a very much weaker claim than the analogous claims you both have provided, from a purely scientific standpoint.

That said, you are both entitled to your beliefs, as are all people, and I hope we can continue to share ways in which our beliefs are respected, and how our beliefs could be made to be better tolerated by persecutors.

Actually I think my point still stands. If the unicorn is magical, and can cloak in subspace, even if you had surgery/xray/MRI it would be completely undetectable. There is actually the same amount of physical evidence of a magical skittle pooping unicorn as a god in the sky. That is the whole point of there being no evidence for either.

Lol.

I have brought this up before but it bears light on this subject as well.

If the one true god did actually manifest herself before us and explain that all the world religions got it completely wrong, that she could provide evidence for her existence and rightful status as the one true deity, and that we should all eat more green vegetables, it would undoubtedly be atheists who accept the evidence (after rigorous review) before theists. In fact, if there is a god or gods, belief in a religion makes it far less likely that you will ever accept it since it is infinitely likely that its manifestation would conflict with your conception.

KrazyTaco[FO]:

Er, I don't get the logical point of a completely undetectable, completely cause-isolated anything. You could make a case that such a completely undetectable, completely cause-isolated anything is in me. It can't be logically disproven, but it can neither be proven, so as with a strict agnostic, I will have to hold judgment on whether or not your pointless construct exists - just as a strict agnostic would also withhold judgment.

Paleocon:

That ceases to be about either theism or atheism and now it's about people, and you are demonstrating what your opinion of theists (people) are very strongly (extremely negative). I cannot engage in that. My apologies.

LarryC wrote:

KrazyTaco[FO]:

Er, I don't get the logical point of a completely undetectable, completely cause-isolated anything. You could make a case that such a completely undetectable, completely cause-isolated anything is in me. It can't be logically disproven, but it can neither be proven, so as with a strict agnostic, I will have to hold judgment on whether or not your pointless construct exists - just as a strict agnostic would also withhold judgment.

That's how I feel about the god you or anyone else believes in, and my entire point that a completely undetectable entity/pointless construct is silly to worship or prove/disprove. I didn't mean to sound combative, but still feel like it is an accurate comparison from an Agnostic position. But to tie this back to the OP, this is why Agnosticism or Athiesm is a dangerous non-belief system in America.

LarryC, if you're going to be so explicit about what this thread is not about, I would point out that its not about lengthy discussions on logic, either.

It's appropriate from an atheist position. From a purely agnostic position, there's really no need to make a comparison between God and an obviously frivolous idea, and especially not when discussing seriously with a theist because it's apt to offend them (you're effectively mocking their belief as silly).

Also, no need to worry. I did not take any word as combative at all, and I was eager to dispel the notion that this comparison was logically equivalent.

Please feel free to feel what you like, but as with me, I think it's important to differentiate the things that we feel and the things that we choose and the things that we know.

As for God - there are many reasons for why people choose to worship, and I've met no one who could show me that it because it was logically provable (to my satisfaction), or scientifically plausible. If you're interested, you can ask for the reasons in the Theist thread, as that is a theist topic. Please to request respectful phrasing.

NSMike:

I'm talking about my agnosticism. I gathered that the theism part is not welcome Is the agnostic part out as well? Honest question.

LarryC wrote:

True skepticism requires that you be equally skeptical of any position and require proof for both positive and negative claims.

Indeed. To paraphrase Karl Popper: We can not actually make generalized statements about the world because we are incapable of knowing the world in general. We are not omniscient. This means that we can not actually proof any positive claims (in a deductive sense), but we can only falsify. So for any statement about the world to matter rationally, it needs to be falsifiable.

In other words, we know what the world isn't like, we only guess what it is like.

But there is a problem here. Take something simple like Newtons second law of motion: "F = ma". All in all, going by Popper this is a good statement about the world. You can test it and disprove it by finding a body that does not behave like this. But we can't say it's true. In fact it is superseded by Einsteins relativity.
Yet this works most of the time with reasonable accuracy. So stating that Newtons second law of motion is true or false is simply too rigid. Rather you can attach a degree of acceptability, belief, confirmation, ect, to a statement. So to be a skeptic you do not have have remain neutral.

Now to come back to Atheism. I'm going to ignore the typical problems of the existence of god, a lack of falsifiability, which should disqualify the concept as a whole in the first place.

I'm an Atheist because I have never experienced god. I have never been able to replicate the experience other people described. So I can say with high confidence that there is no god.
I doubt I ever will experience god because the actions ascribed to him are improbable. I hold it equally likely I will be touched by his noodle appendage, ride on his pink back or decanter his holy tea. Of course should any of these things happen in a repeatable and controllable manner I will have to revise this stance and start monetizing it.

Lucan:
I get first dibs on the tea you're going to sell, m'kay?

I don't feel like making a comparison of a god and a magical unicorn in this thread is disrespectful, because this is a thread to discuss the impact of understanding the moral/logistical equivalence of the two and how this impacts the way American society sees and treats you. This is a thread that asked for theists to bow out and let people who do not hold a belief in invisible beings/gods discuss the ramifications of this non-belief. To me a god and an obviously frivolous idea are equivalent.

KrazyTaco[FO]:

True. I was referring to speaking about it IRL, or in a more public thread. I gathered that this was also a thread that was interested in seeing respect given for one's beliefs, regardless of what those may be - and in particular, for atheism.

LarryC, the thread was originally created to discuss whether or not athiests feel at risk "being out". It's the derail into lengthy discussions that mirror every thread thus far that has managed to end up locked because of it that's unwelcome.

If I could take it just one tick farther, the history of religion is replete with examples of deities the world over regards as silly, ridiculous, outdated, counterproductive, heretical, or just contrary to evidence. And if theists are honest, they don't regard them with any more respect than the examples of magical unicorns given above.

At any one time in history or even the present, there were or are literally billions of people who sincerely believe or believed in deities any other theist would find as laugh worthy as the existence of Black Peter.

Atheists just extend that honor to all such irrational beliefs.

LarryC wrote:

Lucan:
I get first dibs on the tea you're going to sell, m'kay?

Damn. My first customer. I like this business plan already.

Just wondering, if there were such a genuine divine substance that would provide intense religious feelings, how long before it will be outlawed?