Which label do you use?

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Which label do you use?

Post  Admin on Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:10 pm

Which label do you use?
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Egro on Wed Sep 09, 2009 12:42 pm

atheist, or non-theist.

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Stegocephalian on Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:23 pm

Well, from the options listed, "naturalist" is a lable I'm comfortable with.

I also call myself atheist, but rarely JUST an atheist, but an agnostic atheist.

The two terms denote different things - atheism and theism tell what you believe. Agnosticism is contrasted by gnosticism and they tell what you claim to know.

I don't claim to know that there are no gods, but I don't believe there are any. Thus I'm an agnostic atheist. Leave out one, and you've got a less complete answer than I'm comfortable giving.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Sosa on Wed Sep 09, 2009 3:49 pm

Generally I do tell people I am agnostic when asked what my "beliefs" are. Agnosticism defines what I know (or in this case don't know) while Atheism describes what I believe. I usually say that I'm Agnostic in theory and Atheist in practice, because I live my life as if there is no deity
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re: which label do you use

Post  RachelCK on Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:27 pm

Usually, I use "non-religious," unless I know the person well. I find that many religious or even secular people are unaware of the ways the terms atheist and agnostic are currently used. That's not always a bad thing, provided people are curious and willing to discuss. Sadly, many religious folks aren't (they're already certain they know what I mean when I use the terms). The term "non-religious" can be misunderstood too, of course, but less so in my experience.

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  jifrock on Wed Sep 09, 2009 6:40 pm

While it may not be the same for all of my compatriots, I find that religion is so absent from daily life in Australia that I don't require a label. The major dividing lines in Australia seem to be what football code you support, what beer you drink, and whether consuming 15 of said beers on a Saturday night should be considered binge drinking.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  DG on Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:03 pm

Perhaps this is impractical, but perhaps instead of "Atheist" and "Agnostic", you could have used:

(a) "Passive Atheist": being for any person who does not believe that there is a god (but does not have a positive belief that god does not exist),

(b) "Positive atheist": being any person who believes that god does not exist.

I find that people have clear ideas of what "atheism" and "agnosticism" are however, no two actually seem to agree on that definition. I think that passive and positive atheism go well in bringing the non-believers together, but allowing distinction between the degrees of disbelief (whether positive of the absence of god on unconvinced as to the existence of god).

While I would be best classified as atheist ('positive atheist' as above) I've also been known to describe myself as "apathetic" when others have questioned my religion. That assertion it is promptly dismissed as meaningless by those that are assertive in their religious belief (and avoids the need to defend my position when I couldn't be bothered doing so) and usually averts any attempt to draw me to their religion. Everyone is a winner!

In response to Jifrock above, and as a fellow Australian, I have been known to refer to my self as a "devout football fan" (of the round ball game), explaining that for 6 months of the year I attend my church (the football field) and spend 90 minutes communing with god (playing football), and during the other 6 months I spend 90 minutes or more a week studying my faith in a more passive manner (watching football on TV). It 's even better than my 'apathetic' response.


Last edited by Lostie on Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:08 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : [Added response to Jifrock])

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  jifrock on Wed Sep 09, 2009 8:18 pm

DG wrote:"devout football fan" (of the round ball game)

It used to be that an Australian admitting a love of the world game was akin to a member of the Texas School board being an avowed atheist. I am a fan as well. An aged wing-back - apparently the safest place to put the useless hoofer in junior football.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  zarkwon on Wed Sep 09, 2009 9:43 pm

Atheist (colloquially speaking this conveys the meaning and I'm more than willing to have the "technically agnostic" conversation) or Materialist (this best describes my view, often negates the need for the religion discussion and cuts straight to the chase).
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  MisterChristopher on Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:02 pm

Tragically, I just kinda have to shut up or lie when this comes up for my job. The kids tell their parents, the bible-thumper ones freak out, complain about me, say their kid won't be in our program as long as I'm there, I'm let go. It almost happened once, I'd rather it not remotely happen again.
Otherwise (when I'm at school, out and about away from work), I gladly and proudly take on the title of atheist
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  MisterChristopher on Wed Sep 09, 2009 10:05 pm

Oh, non-sequitor: I'm saddened the forums don't have any theists yet. And done
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Brad on Thu Sep 10, 2009 8:40 am

I agree with Sam Harris that in an ideal world the term "a-theist" would be unnecessary, in the same way that a-unicornist and a-leprechaunist are unnecessary.
But in the U.S., at least, circumstances are a long way from ideal, so I very gladly announce myself as an atheist whenever the question comes up, with the exception of within my extended family.

In family circles, I don't lie and say I believe in anything supernatural, but if pressed I say something like, "I'm just not able to believe that there is a God." Strangely enough, that sort of response allows my very nutty family to think - and say - that I'm just a "lost soul." Accordingly, their thinking and worldviews are not challenged at all.
On the other hand, if I was so as forthright to say, "I'm an atheist," I would immediately become a hated enemy and a traitor to a large portion of my family. My parents, too, would become pariahs and have all manner of problems. That I can do without.

Another label I like a lot when labels become useful is "rationalist," because it's a positive term and because it encourages questions. That label, too, should be utterly redundant.
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The inevitable nitpicker

Post  qaelith.2112 on Fri Sep 11, 2009 4:50 pm

May I have the distinction of being the semantic nitpicker who must point out that "atheist" and "agnostic" are not mutually exclusive terms, but rather address two different concepts? Atheism addresses belief, while agnosticism addresses knowledge. One may "know" or "not know" whether a god exists (agnostic), but that could be independent of the belief that is formed on the matter (theist/non-theist/a-theist). Although certain combinations are absurd ("knowing" a god exists but not believing it), others are perfectly compatible. I would even argue strongly that to simply say "I'm agnostic" is an incomplete description. Why?

Suppose you don't know whether a god exists. By definition, you're agnostic. Yes, but do you BELIEVE one exists or not? You either do or you don't. If you haven't formed a belief, then you "lack belief" or I would propose it is synonymous to say that you "don't believe", hence you're an atheist in the weak or negative sense. On the other hand, you could possibly not know whether a god exists and for whatever reason still believe it anyway. You would be one of those admittedly rare but very real agnostic theists.

I guess I'm writing this because the terms are too often confused, and they're almost always presented as "are you atheist or agnostic or theist?", and people who self-describe as "agnostic" with no further explanation will hold themselves up as epistemologically superior to us atheists without recognizing that unless they've opted to believe despite not knowing, they're in reality an atheist as well. Atheist doesn't necessarily mean claiming certainty with respect to a god not existing. That's only strong/positive atheism. It doesn't mean necessarily "decided" as opposed to "undecided". For reference, I was persuaded on this usage of terms after reading Austin Cline's various essays on the subject (atheism.about.com), but Austin is by no means breaking new ground or alone in this understanding of these terms.

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Brad on Fri Sep 11, 2009 9:00 pm

Great point, Chris.

For my part, I've found that when an occasion calls for some kind of self-labeling, sometimes it helps to stimulate conversation - and also to short circuit some really tired believer canards like the first cause nonsense, by claiming both atheist and agnostic labels.
For example, I'll say that I'm agnostic as to the exact processes that started organic life on earth, but atheist as to the Biblical god.
That almost always raises questions that allow me to elaborate some of my reasoning before things get too wacky. Very Happy
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Hmmm

Post  LonghWynn on Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:58 am

I voted Humanist, but that is not incompatible with belief in Zeus, right? Wink

Besides, Zeus has much in common with the Papa God of Christians. Both are apparently white-bearded, white males who hurls lighting from the sky and spawn sons on earth. Maybe Jesus = Heracles? XD

But I defend the existence of Zeus using the same arguments Christians use to defend their God, which frustrates the hell out of many of them, because they know these arguments are bullshit but can't work around them, since they use the exact same ones. It only serves to make me laugh as they languish in their cognitive dissonance! Very Happy

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  LonghWynn on Sat Sep 12, 2009 3:04 am

MisterChristopher wrote:Tragically, I just kinda have to shut up or lie when this comes up for my job. The kids tell their parents, the bible-thumper ones freak out, complain about me, say their kid won't be in our program as long as I'm there, I'm let go. It almost happened once, I'd rather it not remotely happen again.
Otherwise (when I'm at school, out and about away from work), I gladly and proudly take on the title of atheist

I feel you on this one, Chris. One of my manager's deeply religious, and he had in mind the notion that I was too, and so whenever he talks about his faith in God, I dare not rock the boat much. Typically, I just tried to dodge the conversation altogether. I think it's important to not sacrifice some important connections over metaphysical questions, no?

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Which Label do You Use?

Post  SylvrRavyn on Sat Sep 12, 2009 1:10 pm

Well, I voted Humanist but I also have a strong leaning toward Naturalism as well.

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Humanist, if I really have to choose

Post  jgrow2 on Sat Sep 12, 2009 2:27 pm

I don't shy away from being called an Atheist. It also fits. But looking at the world and how we deal with one another, there has to be a better way. To me the question of theism versus atheism is moot. No supernatural being. If you don't see that then you're either weak-minded or unwilling to face facts.

This is why I don't air my opinions all the way very often. I figure I'm among friends here so please forgive my bluntness.

The tenets of humanism are really starry-eyed, I know. It's hard to look past one's own self-interest and hard to believe that others can too. But I do believe it's possible. I just hope we don't have to endure another dark age before the rest of mankind believes it too.
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String of Thoughts

Post  LonghWynn on Sun Sep 13, 2009 12:02 am

jgrow2 wrote:The tenets of humanism are really starry-eyed, I know. It's hard to look past one's own self-interest and hard to believe that others can too. But I do believe it's possible. I just hope we don't have to endure another dark age before the rest of mankind believes it too.

I cannot agree more. One series of Crusades is enough. Two world wars's enough. Three continents of mostly developing, third-world nations' more than enough. Humans can do better. In fact, we have to. Never before have we had the ability to shape the world like we do now, and if we choose to forgo our own priviledges, then...to borrow their phrase "May God be with us"

I do think though, that at this point, most religions can have a choice. They can either help the cause of conserving this world (which some Christian sects are doing I believe, addressed in an episode by the RD guys earlier), or claim that the end is coming anyways. The first group will be around a while, and the second I hope, will rapture themselves away into oblivion with their pre-medieval beliefs (and the medieval beliefs are pretty arcane...)

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Nicholas on Mon Sep 14, 2009 6:45 am

I use atheist. Direct, to the point, and it gets the gist of the message across. If people aren't too offended by that, I can then get to the details.
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Pragmatic Agnostic

Post  Closet Agnostic on Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:11 pm

I just learned the term "Pragmatic Agnostic" today, and it's my label until I find a better one. Which basically means that I will totally believe in a god of some sort when I find evidence of the divine. But until then the spirit world has no effect on my life. But the term Atheist is very negative to me. The term Atheist is very strong and in your face like it is an ideology in itself. Like you can say for sure there is absolutely no chance of anything beyond our comprehension. Atheism has a nihilistic connotation to me. That's just my humble opinion. I am only defending the idea of Agnosticism to people who think it is too indecisive, too wishy-washy, not taking a decisive stand on the issues or whatever. Very Happy I am interested in this Humanist philosophy, and I am learning about it. I definitely consider myself a Skeptic,... of all things. But skeptic also has a negative feeling to it. Anyway I'm just glad to participate in this forum. \m/ >_< \m/
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Hey

Post  LonghWynn on Wed Sep 16, 2009 2:45 am

Closet Agnostic wrote: I am interested in this Humanist philosophy, and I am learning about it. I definitely consider myself a Skeptic,... of all things. But skeptic also has a negative feeling to it. Anyway I'm just glad to participate in this forum. \m/ >_< \m/

Idk if the word skeptic itself has a negative connotation (perhaps skeptical?). You might be talking about cynics, which are basically skeptics on steroids. And as we all know, steroids are not good in the long run Wink

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  zarkwon on Thu Sep 17, 2009 2:36 pm

qaelith.2112 wrote:Suppose you don't know whether a god exists. By definition, you're agnostic. Yes, but do you BELIEVE one exists or not? You either do or you don't. If you haven't formed a belief, then you "lack belief" or I would propose it is synonymous to say that you "don't believe", hence you're an atheist in the weak or negative sense.Chris Jones

There is no need to suppose. You may take it that I do not know. I do not deal in belief and I will go further and propose that neither should anyone else. This makes me a default "weak atheist" by your implied definition. I don't BELIEVE in anything, I accept on sufficient evidence. A strong atheist, by your implied definition, must believe on insufficient evidence (unless you have been able to falsify the unfalsifiable). This is no more tenable a position than theism. Evidence is key.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Stegocephalian on Thu Sep 17, 2009 3:19 pm

zarkwon wrote:

There is no need to suppose. You may take it that I do not know. I do not deal in belief and I will go further and propose that neither should anyone else. This makes me a default "weak atheist" by your implied definition. I don't BELIEVE in anything, I accept on sufficient evidence. A strong atheist, by your implied definition, must believe on insufficient evidence (unless you have been able to falsify the unfalsifiable). This is no more tenable a position than theism. Evidence is key.

You've hit something of a pet peeve of mine here, so I just have to comment on this.

Many people who identify themselves as agnostics, rather than agnostic atheists or agnostic theists, seem to have this notion that there is something inherently wrong about "belief" - I think this is a missguided notion.

There are different kinds of belief, and while a belief that is an absolute conviction is indeed a negative thing, and unjustified, there is nothing at all wrong with tentative belief.

For example, I believe it's going to rain tomorrow. I don't claim to know this, nor do I place any great confidence on that belief, and I would be willing to change it at the very moment the balance of evidence upon which I founded that belief shifted to it probably not raining tomorrow.

This is a tentative belief, of a degree that is proportional to the evidence, and that most certainly I would not place any great stock in, nor would I be willing to defend that belief against all rational challenge.

We form such tentative beliefs constantly, on a daily bases, without any qualms, or any question over whether we are justified in doing so. Of course we are justified - we are always justified to form a belief of a degree that is proportional to the evidence, and that is open to being changed when and if new evidence comes to light, no matter what the subject.

It is only the sort of absolute belief that states "I can conceive of nothing that could change my mind", a belief that you would be willing to use as a guide to selectively picking evidence that would only reinforce that belief, that is an unjustified sort of belief.

I don't hold any beliefs of this latter kind, at least not knowingly, and I make a conscious effort to keep all my beliefs tentative, and open to refutation with new evidence.

Why would it be ok for me to believe tentatively that it's probably going to rain tomorrow, because the weatherman on TV predicted it, and it's been rainy today too, but somehow NOT ok for me to tentatively believe that there is no god, because of a lack of any good evidence to point to to the existence of such a being, and grave difficulties entailed in the unstated assumptions (regarding the nature of cognition, complexity, and origins) entailed in the claim?

Why should you object to belief in this latter case, but not in the former?

Surely it is untennable to try and go though life without forming tentative beliefs; all they are are probabilistic evaluations of situations and the state of things, based on incomplete evidence.

Absolute belief cannot be founded on incomplete evidence, but probabilistic belief, that is tentative, and that takes into account the limitations of what we know, most certainly can.

I believe that many people associate "belief" with "religious belief" when it comes to the question of whether or not gods exist, and don't consider that even when it comes to this question, there is no reason why you cannot hold a mundane, tentative belief instead.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  zarkwon on Thu Sep 17, 2009 4:45 pm

You are using the word belief as I would use hypothesis. It is your hypothesis that it may rain tomorrow based on the scientific/evidence based investigations of the weatherman/woman. Belief implies a lack of evidence. I did not say you should not tentatively accept that there is no god in fact that is the only technically accurate and sensible position. This is exactly the reason we should not use the word belief to describe this concept. It is too ambiguous a description and plays into the hands of those who would willfully misconstrue. Tacking on tentatively everytime isn't going to cut it in my view. Read my sig, Belief Vs Evidence.
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Re: Which label do you use?

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