Nothing in this blog can be believed. If you think that anything in this blog is true or factual, you'll need to verify it from another source. Do you understand? No? Then read it again, and repeat this process, until you understand that you cannot sue me for anything you read here. Also, having been sucked into taking part in the mass-murder of more than 3 million Vietnamese people on behalf of U.S. Big Business "interests", I'm as mad as a cut snake (and broke) so it might be a bit silly to try to sue me anyway...

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

sophisticated atheism...

Caution: Make sure you fully understand the meanings of the words 'sophisticated' and 'sophistry' before proceeding. The previous post may be of some help in this regard. A thorough grasp on the fallacies of logic is also useful.

On the subject of the existence or non-existence of god (or gods), I argue that there can only be three philosophical positions (as defined by me) which a person can adopt:
  1. Theism: The belief that it is true that there is a god (or gods).
  2. Agnosticism: The belief that we do not know, in any scientifically or logically acceptable way, whether or not there is a god (or gods).
  3. Atheism: The belief that it is true that there is no god (or gods).
Before we start splattering spittle in all directions here, let's get clear that I draw a distinction between knowing and believing. Failure to "get it" about this distinction has sunk many a ship full of sophists. [softly cue-in: Down Among The Dead Men by Flash And The Pan]

So, here then are my definitions of knowing and believing.

Knowing: Being able to demonstrate, either scientifically (via the laws of physics), or logically (beware the fallacies of logic), that something is true.

Believing: Holding something to be true, but being unable to demonstrate such truth either scientifically (via the laws of physics), or logically (beware the Fallacies of Logic).

And hence I argue that the only reasonable position a person can adopt is that of agnosticism.

I assert that we are all believers in the sense of this discourse, and therefore my biggest problem is with atheists.

Atheists often claim that they are not True Believers. This claim makes them hypocrites, equivocators, sohists and/or obfuscators. They claim to have a problem with True Believers whilst using all of the above tricks of the trade to confuse their interlocutors into believing that they (the atheists) know that there is no god (or gods).

I put it to you, dear reader, that an atheist is nothing more than a pig-ignorant lying bigot. Atheists steadfastly refuse to acknowledge that they are really agnostics. And please don't blur the boundary between atheism and agnosticism, that's another pet obfuscation atheists peddle.

And thusly I now propose a new way of categorising philosophical positions regarding the existence, or otherwise, of a god or gods:
  1. Agnostics i.e. claiming to have not enough knowledge regarding the existence (or non-existence) of a god or gods in order to form a scientificaly or logically consistent opinion on the subject
  2. True Believers in the existence (or non-existence) of a god or gods - also known as Bigots.
  3. Idiots and Liars.
As you can clearly see, dear reader, you are either an agnostic, a bigot, an idiot, or a liar.

Please have a bit of a think about this and let me know in which category you think you belong...


Blogger Mike B) said...

I'm not a believer. I don't have faith.
I do find the Spaghetti Monster amusing though.

May 30, 2006 4:25 PM  
Blogger JahTeh said...

Agnostic but I believe in The Bear.

May 30, 2006 7:54 PM  
Blogger GreenSmile said...

I might be agnostic...just not sure.

May 30, 2006 10:01 PM  
Blogger Link said...

Not much of a choice, gerry, should I need to be a choosing. A bit like the man who told me once that women are either madonnas or whores.

I like your reasoning on the implausability of an atheistic stance, best I've heard, but such is the nature of the subject that a simple reversing of the arguement, is a bit too simplistic and cannot be rendered true for those of us on the flipside.

I tried the line, 'What use a soul to an atheist?' and a deafening silence ensued or the claim by some poor sod that he had no soul. (And he knew it I suppose?)

You're quite right with the assertion however, that claiming to know that (the big) G doesn't exist is pretty arrogant/ignorant. Knowing it, is the stuff of the empty-handed leap into the void, a jump we are all by the way headed for but must do alone.

I guess knowing something at a gut level but lacking the empirical evidence, because none as such exists, to 'prove' your knowing doesn't enter into this? This is afterall, I am glibly reminded, Australia, zooming into the 21st century the blogosphere, a place where we are too chicken-shit to trust our gut feelings, and rely solely on the 'experts' who in turn trust only what they can 'see'. All else we turn our blind eye to and ignore at our peril. Have you ever ignored your intuition and later thought 'dang', should have listened to meself? Most are happy nowadays to reliquish all personal responsibility for making judgements to a panel of twits, sorry, 'experts'.

"For believers no proof is necessary.
For non-believers no proof is possible."

May 31, 2006 9:22 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Link said:

"not much of a choice" Ok, they're the only choices I can make out. You got more? I would have thought it really does boil down to those three (the first three, Link. The second three are there to provoke non-agnostics into a self-righteous rage from which it is hoped they will rant enough for me to show them, via their own words, that they are bereft of a clue. Horrible, aren't I?)

If this god (or gods) exist only within one's your ineffible "experience", then the best you can say is that you have had an experience which you have used to convinced yourself that there is a god (or gods). But it might be a bit precarious to argue that your experience is neccessarily any more valid than that of a person who swears on a stack of bibles that something which he convinced himself was God told him to go kill the Iraqis. Loony bins are full of people who swear by the absolute truth of their interpretation of their experience.

The First Patriarch of Dai Ippo Zen said "That of which I do not know, I cannot speak." Which brings me back to agnosticism.

About the simplicity of my argument, I have only one thing to say: Occam's Razor.

"claiming to know that (the big) G doesn't exist is pretty arrogant/ignorant" perhaps, but even if you thought you could prove it, you still have not addressed any of the other G concepts, including a higher being, cosmic consciousness, Love, etc, all of which can be said to be pseudonyoms for god. We're back to agonsiticism.

So, Link, I guess you are a believer (I just don't know which god it is that you believe in), so I now have to ask you: What's the difference between belief which seeks no proof and bigotry?

The First Patriarch of Dai Ippo Zen said "For bigots no proof is necessary, the rest of us keep an open mind, glassdropper." He has a wicked sense of humour, as Zen masters often do...

May 31, 2006 11:34 AM  
Blogger MuppetLord said...

Hmm...wait a minute...I think you've got atheism wrong....they are believers....just from the opposite direction....

Talking of've heard of the Flying Spaghetti Monster....why not the Invisible Pink Unicorn!!

Alternatively...the Church of Reality.....and The Universal Church Triumphant of the Apathetic Agnostic.

June 14, 2006 9:25 PM  
Blogger Gerry said...

ML, if you're talking to me, then we're saying the same thing. That's my point: Atheists are believers.

June 14, 2006 9:32 PM  
Blogger beepbeepitsme said...

I am an atheist. I don't believe in the existence of gods. Neither apollo, nor odin, nor baal, nor shiva, or any of the other 5 thousand or so gods which might or might not have names.

I do not deny the existence of gods, I simply don't believe they exist.

Having said that, I realise they exist as abstract concepts created by humans, but I think this is the ONLY way they exist.

July 21, 2006 12:10 AM  
Blogger dangbh said...

Sorry, but while you may not have committed any formal fallacies, your premises are faulty. Your category of Believing does not adequately describe my position. Belief is not necessary, because nobody has yet introduced me to any evidence at all for the existence of a God. Therefore I started out not believing in a God. Then I learned that there were people who believed in a God. This was, and remains, curious to me, but I have never been drawn into that belief. I have no more need to believe that there is not a God than I have a need to believe that there is not a Great Green Goat about to eat me. Therefore, I would commonly be described as an atheist, but this requires no belief or faith.

July 29, 2006 8:46 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Dangbh, I probably have committed some logical fallacies. I regularly do. I am human. I do not speak/think infallably. I just try to tell it how it is for me at a particular time. And some time later it might be different for me.

Now, about your comment: "I started out not believing in a god" is fine until one is presented with the question "Is there a god?" The moment you try to resolve this question, I assert that there are only three ways you can jump:

[1] Yes, there is a god. [Theist]
[2] No, there is no god [Atheist]
[3] Don't know. Uncommitted. Keeping an open mind.[Agnostic]

Since it is fair to assume that life has presented you with the question "Is there a god?", and given your comment, I will assume that you fit one of the following:

[1] you are actually an agnostic, or

[2] you are an atheist in denial of his belief that there is no god, or

[3] you, for some weird reason, run a mile from actually addressing this question and resolving it in your own mind.

I've found that theists have no porblem saying they believe there is a god.

I've found agnostics have no problem in saying that they don't know, that they are uncommitted, or that their mind is still open on that subject of god.

But only few atheists admit to having a belief there is no god. The vast majority of atheists quibble, obfuscate, dissemble or deny that they believe there is no god. They do ANYTHING to avoid admitting that they believe there is no god. That is why I say they are intellectually dishonest. The moment they get honest about it, they either claim to be an agnostic or they freely admit to believing there is no god. It really is as simple as that, and the rest is mere quibbling. Or the outright refusal to tell the truth about one's beliefs. I can see it no other way.

July 29, 2006 11:38 AM  
Blogger dangbh said...

Of course, we all commit fallacies from time to time; you mentioned them at the start of your piece, so I just wanted to note that I thought your argument was good, but I still didn't agree with your conclusions.

I still don't, but with one proviso; as this is your own taxonomy, I may fit differently into it than I would into one of my own devising. It might be that according to your system I am an agnostic, whereas I would call myself, if called upon to do so, an atheist.

I am really not sure that life has presented me with the question, "is there a God?". Seriously. (People have, but that's not the same thing). It has, however, presented me with the question "Why do people believe that there is a God?" One possible answer to this is that there is one, but there are so many other good answers, and so few good reasons to accept this one, that Occam's razor deals with it pretty fair and square. So, buried in that is where you will find what amounts to my belief that there is no God.

What I can say with absolute conviction is that I do not believe that there is a God.

This, then, leaves a couple of grey areas, to wit: (i) a God could exist, but that would be the mofo coincidence to end them all.

and (ii) my beliefs, like those of others, are not fixed. Therefore, I can imagine that I might be presented with some astonishing evidence which would change my mind. I think it would be foolish to give examples, which may make it hard to substantiate the assertion, but there it is.

So, maybe that makes me an agnostic. But my model of the universe does not have a God shaped hole in it, and nor does it have a big question mark. There is just no God in it, (except in the beliefs of humanity). I think this makes me an atheist, in a literal interpretation of the word, as I have no room or need for a God to explain anything. I believe that there is no God, if you like. But it does not, I hope, make me a bigot. My beliefs could change - so I am not a True Believer - but I experience no doubt - so I am not an agnostic.

August 16, 2006 8:27 AM  
Blogger Gerry said...

Dangbh, you said: I am really not sure that life has presented me with the question, "is there a God?".

I argue that once one becomes awarene that some (many?) people believe there is a god, that one automatically considers the question of god's existence and that this leads to one to take a "yes" (theist), "no" (atheist), or "no idea" (agnostic) position on the matter.

I argue that, with the awareness that some people belive in a god, one cannot help but live in the question, and that once one does so, one tends to resolve the question in one of the three ways outlined.

And this is where I then find that I must either be a believer (for or against the notion of a god) or I take a neutral position which I call the agnostic position.

Anyway, my only argument is with people who describe themselves as atheists but then don't have the bottle to admit that their atheism is just as much a belief as that of the theist's. THAT'S what gets my goat.

August 16, 2006 11:54 PM  

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