Which label do you use?

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Total Votes : 86

Re: Which label do you use?

Post  zarkwon on Thu Sep 17, 2009 5:15 pm

Stegocephalian wrote:
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.



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.

Here you make my point for me. Many agnostics in fact favour the single word because the "atheist" part of "agnostic atheist" is unsupported by evidence as the "agnostic" part already says that there is no supporting evidence to help with the acceptance. Unless "atheist" is redundant, it must mean belief on insufficient evidence. So, in this case, "atheist" = "unsupported by evidence" ergo, according to you, "unsupported by evidence" = "belief". I agree. Very Happy
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Neon Genesis on Thu Sep 17, 2009 8:38 pm

Closet Agnostic wrote: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.
Atheist is not strong in itself nor is it an ideology that implies nihilism. I'm an atheist and I'm not going around without any morals or purpose to my life. I simply decide on my purpose myself instead of letting God decide for me. The word atheist simply means someone who doesn't believe in God but not believing in God is not the same thing as having a belief any moreso than not belonging to a club is the same thing as belonging to a club. You can disbelief in things without proving they don't exist. Is there proof that there are no aliens? Unless you've been everywhere in the universe and can prove aliens do not exist or you have proof that they do exist, then one cannot claim to know whether or not there are aliens (gnosis). You can only not know if there are aliens (agnostic) until evidence either way presents itself but you can either belief or disbelief in aliens without having gnosis of their existence or non-existence. A- means without and theism means beliefs in gods, hence atheism merely means without beliefs in gods and an atheist is someone who doesn't believe in god and gnostic means knowledge. There are no ideologies in something that's a lack of ideologies.

Also, by implying atheism is a strong ideology, it implies that the burden of proof lies with the non-believer but the burden of proof lies with the person making the assertive claim. Saying you do not believe in God is not an assertive claim anymore than it's an assertive claim that an invisible desk in the sky. Thus, it's the person claiming invisible desks in the sky exist who must prove it's real and are the ones who have the strong ideology. Atheism is not a strong ideology and agnosticism is not necessarily wishy-washy. They are simply different labels addressing different questions. Atheism is addressing beliefs and agnosticism is addressing knowledge but knowledge and beliefs or the lack thereof are not the same thing.

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Stegocephalian on Fri Sep 18, 2009 2:31 am

Zarkwon - I simply disagree with you on the definitions of words, it seems.

I don't see how the lable "agnostic" would imply a lack of evidence - agnosticism is merely the lack of a claim of knowledge. Why you don't claim knowledge, whether it is because of a lack of evidence or for some other reason, is a different question, and not included in the definition of "agnostic".

Similarly, there are more than one usage for the word "belief" - and I don't see any reason at all not to use it in the way I, and every single self-described atheist I know uses it.

Hypothesis is something different from tentative belief - it is something more rigorous. I may have a tentative belief that, say, the earth is roughly spherical in shape, even if I cannot, at the moment, think of a way to test the idea; I may simply say that while I don't know how to test it, I am open to being explained evidence that, when I understood it, would convince me that the earth is not roughly spherical. (Of course, this idea isn't that hard to test, but I took it for the sake of the example - that you may have a non-dogmatic, tentative belief over something that you have no idea how to test.)

Hypothesis, on the other hand, requires you to formulate specific tests which could empirically falsify the hypothesis. We don't tend to do that as a matter of course in our every day lives - I don't see how that would be practically feasible. Instead, we form tentative beliefs with the understanding that if evidence counter to that belief comes to light, we'll act accordingly, even if we can't beforehand think of what shape that evidence might take.

Moreover, having a hypothesis doesn't tell whether or not you (tentatively) believe that hypothesis or not.

I may hypothesize that it'll be a sunny day tomorrow, without having even looked outside, or having watched a whether report, and say that this hypothesis is subject to falsification when tomorrow comes along, and will gain credibility should the weather report I watch later promise a sunny day tomorrow.

But at the moment I form the hypothesis, I have no opinion of it whatsoever.

A tentative acceptance of that hypothesis - which is a tentative belief that the hypothesis is likely to be true - is needed.

If you hypothesize that there is no god, and further if you think this hypothesis to be more likely to be true than not, then you hold a tentative belief in favor of there being no god, and you are a de facto atheist, whether or not you like to use that title.
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Radical Atheist

Post  irej24 on Fri Sep 18, 2009 3:17 am

I have recently started using the term 'Radical Atheist' after reading "Salmon of Doubt" by Douglas Adams, and for the same reason that Adams says he uses it. I want to specifically state that I am convinced that there is no god and further express that I am in the camp that believes that it is actually harmful to believe in a god.

Many people (I am talking about the public at large here, especially since I live in the 'deep south') use the term Atheist interchangably with Agnostic. Many other people think that Atheists/Agnostics don't care if there is a god or not. They don't understand or care about the differences in actual definitions. Also, if I called myself a 'Naturalist' people around here would think that meant I don't shave my legs or armpits.

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  schtumpy on Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:32 am

I too am from Australia and am also a little saddened there don't seem to be any theists here yet.
That's when the real fun will start.
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Die Gedanken sind frei!

Post  NH Baritone on Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:08 am

I prefer the term "Freethinker." The label has a history stretching into the 17th century, and has a cool definition in the American Heritage Dictionary:
freethinker: (n.) One who has rejected authority and dogma, especially in religious thinking, in favor of rational inquiry and speculation.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  qaelith.2112 on Fri Sep 18, 2009 4:46 pm

zarkwon wrote:Many agnostics in fact favour the single word because the "atheist" part of "agnostic atheist" is unsupported by evidence as the "agnostic" part already says that there is no supporting evidence to help with the acceptance. Unless "atheist" is redundant, it must mean belief on insufficient evidence. So, in this case, "atheist" = "unsupported by evidence" ergo, according to you, "unsupported by evidence" = "belief". I agree. Very Happy

This would be, in my opinion, an excessively rigid understanding of the word "atheism". While literally, the word means "without belief in the existence of gods" (a-, without, + theism, belief in the existence of gods), it has also been commonly used in the stronger sense, that of a positive belief in the nonexistence of gods as I think you're assuming in your argument against the use of the word. Literally, the weaker form is a better fit for the root of the word than the stronger form. Atheism, the literal meaning as well as the weaker form of the common usage, is not about "belief" in the sense of a positive belief but rather "non-belief". I object to the implication that the stronger form must be assumed. The excerpt of your argument that I've quoted above is making that same needless implication which totally ignores the abundance of weak atheists.

As I mentioned above, if we were to have it your way, and entirely discard the "atheist" label (that is, those of us who are best described as "weak/negative atheists") and simply go with "agnostic", we are still burdened with an unacceptably incomplete description of our position. My example of the very real existence of agnostic theists (specifically, sometimes even agnostic Christians), just saying "agnostic" just doesn't allay that possibility of still believing in a god.

I have that part in common with my agnostic Christian (he's Catholic, more specifically) friend. Neither of us claim to know whether or not a god actually exists. He's as uncertain as I am with respect to his knowledge on the matter. We're both agnostic. End of story? Nope. He's still a Christian, still goes to Mass, still takes communion, still does all of those things that a Catholic does, and I don't. He "believes" that a god exists, while I don't. He's a theist, and I'm an a-theist. I don't affirmatively BELIEVE that one doesn't exist as such, I simply don't believe that one does exist. To me this is a very clear distinction, though some do have a hard time grasping how substantial the difference is between "not believe A" and "believe not A". I object to stopping at "agnostic" and discarding "atheist" because that puts me in the same labeling category as my Catholic friend, ignoring the fact that there is an enormous difference in our worldviews.


Last edited by qaelith.2112 on Fri Sep 18, 2009 5:04 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : clarify a point)

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  zarkwon on Fri Sep 18, 2009 9:39 pm

I do agree with you both on the whole and more explicitly with you qaelith.2112 in that the weaker form of athiest (lack of belief) is my understanding of the meaning however I don't think we are in the majority there. I was simply attempting to go further than your assertion that we lack belief and say that we should positively dismiss it as important what we believe as opposed to what we can prove. In my first response to the label question I answer atheist/materialist. I accept the need for a stronger term than agnostic and am of the more militant persuasion myself. My concern is that religious apologists will attack atheists on the principal that it is technically (in their eyes and whether the majority of colloquial users have this in mind or not) a faith position. This is why Dr Dawkins uses the term de facto atheist, a term which I do like Stegocephalian because it leads to conversation and clarification. We are handing them their opening gambit in their battle for obfuscation by using a term they can say requires faith. We are proposing empiricism and yet labeling ourselves with a faith term as they see it. The majority of theists I have encountered do not know atheism simply means a lack of belief in god and we may do ourselves a disservice by belligerently holding that they should.

Stegocephalian-

Agnostic refers to something unknown or unknowable. Agnosticism therefore requires lack of evidence, as how can one have knowledge without evidence? If there were evidence there would be knowledge. The question of evidence is implicit in agnosticism. It seems we do disagree on the definition however qaelith.2112, to whom I was replying when you took umbrage at my usage, defined his terms (if you skip back and read them, I think they concur with mine) and it was those to which I made my point.

It is precisely my point that hypothesis is something more rigorous, requires attempts at falsification and should not be encroached upon by the wishy washy term "belief".

You may indeed hypothesize that it'll be sunny tomorrow, without having looked outside, or having watched a weather report but why would you (this is simply belief I would contend)? Why would you hypothesize (never mind tentatively believe it) that the world was spherical without some prior justification or trigger? How would you have the idea? Do you think making wild speculations with no recourse to reality or common sense is a sensible way to proceed? Surely one needs initial cues or justifications for ones hypothesizing? Why would you not simply say that you do not know yet and then look for some clue before hypothesizing? This was my original point, that one doesn't have to make a prediction on insufficient evidence. Where no evidence can be found, one can simply say one cannot give an answer without speculating and refrain from doing so unless it is understood by all concerned that it can be no more than speculation. Now, this is, in my opinion, not the case with religion and god, there is evidence to support our case against them.

Probabilistic belief? Fine, I suppose, although I'd prefer theorizing or speculating, but at least it makes some appeal to a search for evidence.

Of course, I do concede that the colloquial usage of "believe" is endemic and so embedded in the culture as to be impossible to eradicate (I catch myself using it daily and this is why religious apologists use it as an argument) however I think it needs to be the subject of consciousness raising so that it's meaning is not smeared into the factual and used as the thin end of a wedge. Whether there are different kinds of belief is debatable and I would still contend that inherent in all of them, whatever they may be, is a lack of evidence. We are talking here (or were) about theistic belief and for the most part it is absolute or very close to it. Belief should not be seen as equal to empiricism and theists should not go unchallenged when they tout it as such is my concern. Atheism implies belief (whether you mean it to or not) in the eyes of many and so can destroy any chance of reaching those unfamiliar with the nuances of tentative or absolute before the conversation has even begun as they simply dismiss you as having faith in the non-existence just as they have faith in the existence (they are told this every Sunday and we know they believe what they are told). That this should not be the case I think we can agree and that it should be self evident to all that evidence should trump belief every time is obvious to us however I think that it is not obvious to a growing number and this must be dealt with. The idea that all opinions are equally valid needs to be fought and consciousness raising about belief Vs. evidence is key in my view.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  karyn on Sat Sep 19, 2009 2:02 am

I just use atheist. Most people I tell my belief system to are just not 'sophisticated' enough in such matters to know the difference. I really hate semantics. They bore me. Razz
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  davidsverse on Sat Sep 19, 2009 3:07 am

When it comes up, I say I am an atheist.

When asked why I don't believe in God, I say I don't need to.

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Stegocephalian on Sat Sep 19, 2009 3:39 am

Zarkwon - First - knowledge without evidence: I know that 1+1=2 without reference to any evidence, because this is true by definition: it is a tautology, like saying "a brown horse is brown".

It can indeed be (and has been!) argued that empirical evidence can never justify a claim of knowledge - this is because of the problem of induction, induction being the mode of reasoning necessary in any evidence based position. Yet, as philosophers have pointed out, induction has a troubling flaw in it. To demonstrate the flaw, take this analogy from Bertrand Russell (I'm paraphrasing, as this comes from memory):

For the entire life of a chicken living on a farm, it has experienced the farmer coming out every morning and feeding it - thus by induction, it makes the inference that the appearance of the farmer is inevitably tied to the feeding. This is a valid conclusion of induction on the basis of the empirical past evidence. Yet, one morning, the farmer comes out and cuts the chicken's head off.

The chicken would have thought it "knew" a direct causal relationship, and it came to that conclusion by the way of induction. Yet it clearly was not knowledge - it was merely a reasonable belief based on past experience.

This problem plagues induction - and it seems that all absolute knowledge that we can justifiably be absolutely sure about is produced by deduction.

One has to take a less rigorous meaning of "knowledge" if one is to claim that evidence can lead to knowledge than I am comfortable with. I "know" only some basic mathematical truths and facts of logic which are true by definition; the rest is belief, although the sort of tentative belief who's degree is determined by the degree and quality of empirical evidence in favor of it, and the lack of good evidence against it.

I would have agreed with you some years ago, because I'm well aware of the "atheism is as much a faith as theism" arguments, but then I realized that by hanging on to semantics "lack of belief" instead of pointing out that there are different kinds of belief, some of which are reasonable and evidence based, and some of which are not, is actually conceding, implicitly, that IF you were to believe there is no God, then you would be having a religious faith. Which is silly, and untrue - the consciousness raising that needs to happen here isn't the rejection of the practical, and perfectly good term "belief", but the objection to the term being hijacked to denote only "unreasonable, arbitrary belief".

What is needed is to point out the subtlety, to explain the difference between tentative, evidence based beliefs, and dogmatic, arbitrary ones. The latter are indefensible, the former you cannot practically function without, in real life. And there is no reason whatsoever why you couldn't form a tentative belief that there exists no God, based on evidence and logical arguments that make the existence of such a being exceedingly unlikely.

You ask:
"You may indeed hypothesize that it'll be sunny tomorrow, without having looked outside, or having watched a weather report but why would you (this is simply belief I would contend)? Why would you hypothesize (never mind tentatively believe it) that the world was spherical without some prior justification or trigger? How would you have the idea? Do you think making wild speculations with no recourse to reality or common sense is a sensible way to proceed? "

Sometimes you don't have the luxury of forming a hypothesis on evidence - if someone has a bulge in their pocket where they are keeping their hand, and tells you that it's a gun pointed at you and you need to hand them your money, you have to make a decision on poor evidence. You have to form a tentative belief on whether the bulge is a gun, and whether the person would be likely to use it if it is, on the basis of evidence which would not justify a scientific hypothesis.

Further, even scientists make hypothesis - for example, many different models of cosmology - based on nothing but the fact that such models would be consistent with current theory, without anything implying that things actually are that way. They don't believe that the model is true, they merely believe that it is one possibility among many. Often they don't currently know how to test those models, or if they do, the tests are unfeasible with current techology.

Notice that I'm not talking about "making wild speculations with no recourse to reality or common sense" - in both examples above, there is some reason to form a tentative belief, though in the latter, it must be very tentative indeed, and it's not a case of wild, unsupported speculation. But it they ARE cases of tentatively accepting an idea, all the while being ready to change one's mind if new evidence comes to light that would make it unlikely. In other words, a tentative, evidence based belief, and most certainly not a case of knowledge.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  jifrock on Sun Sep 20, 2009 7:51 am

karyn wrote:I really hate semantics. They bore me. Razz

That's a shame. When it comes to discussion in areas outside of the natural sciences, issues of meaning are quite important. Understanding 'meaning' might help you to explain yourself more readily to those poor unsophisticated folk.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  zarkwon on Sun Sep 20, 2009 10:39 am

karyn wrote:I just use atheist. Most people I tell my belief system to are just not 'sophisticated' enough in such matters to know the difference. I really hate semantics. They bore me. Razz

That's fascinating. Neutral
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  zarkwon on Sun Sep 20, 2009 11:27 am

Stegocephalian wrote:Zarkwon - First - knowledge without evidence: I know that 1+1=2 without reference to any evidence, because this is true by definition: it is a tautology, like saying "a brown horse is brown".

You appear to have executed a volte-face here and taken up my position from the belief debate. This is too strict a usage of the word knowledge for my liking. No two things can be shown to be exactly alike in that they are constructed of we know not what, layed out in different arrays. 1 what? + 1 what? = 2 of what? It may be true that you can imagine an abstract number 1 and another exactly like it (though are the thoughts due to different chemical reactions?) but the best you can do is to tell me this has been done, you cannot show them to me and have me agree. This kind of tautological knowledge, if it is knowledge at all by your definition, is impractical at best.

Stegocephalian wrote:It can indeed be (and has been!) argued that empirical evidence can never justify a claim of knowledge - this is because of the problem of induction, induction being the mode of reasoning necessary in any evidence based position. Yet, as philosophers have pointed out, induction has a troubling flaw in it. To demonstrate the flaw, take this analogy from Bertrand Russell (I'm paraphrasing, as this comes from memory):

For the entire life of a chicken living on a farm, it has experienced the farmer coming out every morning and feeding it - thus by induction, it makes the inference that the appearance of the farmer is inevitably tied to the feeding. This is a valid conclusion of induction on the basis of the empirical past evidence. Yet, one morning, the farmer comes out and cuts the chicken's head off.

The chicken would have thought it "knew" a direct causal relationship, and it came to that conclusion by the way of induction. Yet it clearly was not knowledge - it was merely a reasonable belief based on past experience.


It would not have known, it would have hypothesized, and been wrong. I agree, this was not knowledge as you have defined it. However, you are arguing here that scientific knowledge is not knowledge either and this makes me squirm. If the word knowledge is not to become redundant to all but a few philosophers and mathematicians then it must be broader in scope than you are allowing.

Stegocephalian wrote:This problem plagues induction - and it seems that all absolute knowledge that we can justifiably be absolutely sure about is produced by deduction.

One has to take a less rigorous meaning of "knowledge" if one is to claim that evidence can lead to knowledge than I am comfortable with. I "know" only some basic mathematical truths and facts of logic which are true by definition; the rest is belief, although the sort of tentative belief who's degree is determined by the degree and quality of empirical evidence in favor of it, and the lack of good evidence against it.

Substitute scientific investigation for the word belief and we are in agreement.

Stegocephalian wrote:I would have agreed with you some years ago, because I'm well aware of the "atheism is as much a faith as theism" arguments, but then I realized that by hanging on to semantics "lack of belief" instead of pointing out that there are different kinds of belief, some of which are reasonable and evidence based, and some of which are not, is actually conceding, implicitly, that IF you were to believe there is no God, then you would be having a religious faith. Which is silly, and untrue - the consciousness raising that needs to happen here isn't the rejection of the practical, and perfectly good term "belief", but the objection to the term being hijacked to denote only "unreasonable, arbitrary belief".

What is needed is to point out the subtlety, to explain the difference between tentative, evidence based beliefs, and dogmatic, arbitrary ones. The latter are indefensible, the former you cannot practically function without, in real life. And there is no reason whatsoever why you couldn't form a tentative belief that there exists no God, based on evidence and logical arguments that make the existence of such a being exceedingly unlikely.

You ask:
"You may indeed hypothesize that it'll be sunny tomorrow, without having looked outside, or having watched a weather report but why would you (this is simply belief I would contend)? Why would you hypothesize (never mind tentatively believe it) that the world was spherical without some prior justification or trigger? How would you have the idea? Do you think making wild speculations with no recourse to reality or common sense is a sensible way to proceed? "

Sometimes you don't have the luxury of forming a hypothesis on evidence - if someone has a bulge in their pocket where they are keeping their hand, and tells you that it's a gun pointed at you and you need to hand them your money, you have to make a decision on poor evidence. You have to form a tentative belief on whether the bulge is a gun, and whether the person would be likely to use it if it is, on the basis of evidence which would not justify a scientific hypothesis.

There is evidence here on which to base your decision, poor or otherwise.

Stegocephalian wrote:Further, even scientists make hypothesis - for example, many different models of cosmology - based on nothing but the fact that such models would be consistent with current theory, without anything implying that things actually are that way. They don't believe that the model is true, they merely believe that it is one possibility among many. Often they don't currently know how to test those models, or if they do, the tests are unfeasible with current techology.

I agree though I'm not sure how this is an argument for your position. Models consistent with current evidence based theory. Absent of belief.

Stegocephalian wrote:Notice that I'm not talking about "making wild speculations with no recourse to reality or common sense" - in both examples above, there is some reason to form a tentative belief, though in the latter, it must be very tentative indeed, and it's not a case of wild, unsupported speculation. But it they ARE cases of tentatively accepting an idea, all the while being ready to change one's mind if new evidence comes to light that would make it unlikely. In other words, a tentative, evidence based belief, and most certainly not a case of knowledge.


Again, replace belief with hypothesis (because it is evidence based at root) and we are agreed. I contend still that belief (as you admit, there are different kinds of belief) infers equality between faith and evidence. We are simply defining our terms differently, which is the point. The term belief is easily misconstrued whereas more technical terms referring to evidence or logic are not.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  KMB on Mon Sep 21, 2009 5:30 pm

Two different questions.

The title: Which label do you use?
Atheist

The poll: What label best describes you?
Naturalist

Outside the Internet the times that I've had to describe myself as an atheist can be counted on one hand. The reason that I use the label atheist when naturalist describes me better is the context.
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Azalie on Thu Oct 29, 2009 5:09 pm

I usually tell people that I am Agnostic in the same sense as T.H. Huxley who coined the term. If they don't know what that means, I tell them that it's the position that it is impossible to prove or disprove the existence of any deity, but being open to view any data objectively should any become available. Here's the exact quote:

"Agnosticism simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that for which he has no grounds for professing to believe."
- Thomas H. Huxley

For those who begin to assume I am a true Atheist, I have no problem pointing out that I used to believe there was "something" though to me it was more of an abstract power which connected all biotic and abiotic things, not a deity in the sense of most belief systems. In fact, it was my "religious views" that lead me INTO the study of biology and environmental sciences, since everything I learned in it only helped to confirm what I "believed" inherently. My family, though nominally Christian, is almost entirely non-religious in practise, so my beliefs developed as a result of my interest in astronomy and dinosaurs (and the books on the latter touched on the evolution of species from water life to reptiles and mammals).

The main reason I actually say "I am Agnostic as defined by T.H. Huxley who coined the term" to people is because growing up it was the hardest term you could find anyone to define. I got answers from friends saying it meant you're a Christian but not any particular type of Christian. I heard other people saying it meant you believed in a God but did not belong to any particular religion. Perhaps these definitions have been given rise by the fact others refer to them as "fence-sitters" which is both unfair and untrue. If you were to read Huxley's comments on what it means to be Agnostic, I daresay most Atheists would agree with his position.

I refuse to voluntarily use the term "Atheist" only because it can cause unnecessary animosity and close the ears of those who would otherwise have a mild curiosity to my views. Besides, quite frankly I'm stuck back in the same position I held as a child: I am fascinated by the idea of things like magic, dragons, unicorns and gods, but I just don't really see any indication that they exist. I would LIKE for them to exist, but believing doesn't make it true.

I also somewhat use the term Naturalist because looking to the natural world for knowledge, examples and lessons has always been my "religious approach." In practical terms i try to avoid using it because it causes more confusion than the term "Agnostic."

Unlike most, I don't mean exclusively the Abrahamic religions when I refer to "religion" or "religious." Perhaps because I have known too many in Wicca, Neo-Wicca, Neo-Paganism, Hinduism and other non-Abrahamic belief systems. Much of what is said by Atheists talking about "religion" or "religious views" do not apply to these belief systems and before I did fall out of belief I know it damn well pissed me off, because you will find even among Pagans/Wiccans that most have the same animosity towards the Abrahamic belief systems that most non-believers have.

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Great Quote Azalie

Post  Closet Agnostic on Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:56 pm

Great common sense, to-the-point quote. I agree with and my beliefs are similar to yours. But I didn't quite understand what your last paragraph meant. What exactly pissed you off? And welcome to the forum. Wink
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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Sblast on Sat Jun 12, 2010 2:36 pm

Agnostic, I really like Oppy's work.
And only lately I'm geeting into serious arguments.
Isn't agnosticism m the default for the rational man?
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Perfect label: Thinker

Post  Blam on Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:43 pm

When I am asked if I'm an Atheist I say no, I'm a Thinker.
This cuts through everything to the purest heart of the matter.
It perfectly and succinctly puts me opposite the position of Believer, and outlines what a Believer really means without another word.
Everyone should call themselves this, I would love to hear any believer claim they don't agree with Thinkers.

I would call myself a skeptic, only the religious have twisted it into being so negative that it is now a lost cause, a shot in the foot from the start.

Agnostic means "without knowing" which is another term put on us by believers in their terms, as though they "know" something we don't.
Furthermore Agnostic has implication of meaning being a "know nothing". If anything the label should be "prognostic", meaning "proponent of knowing", but it sounds like a medical term.

Atheist is a label put on people like me by theists. It's a label in terms of them, as though their position was default, which is absurd.
I am a Thinker, and any believer wanting to still call me an atheist gets relabeled a "Athinker" until they stop. This is no different than how they label us.
Believing nothing is obviously the default, and it is important that we don't let believers frame it in any other way.

Freethinker, as opposed to believer, implies not that the believer is not free as I think it is meant to, but implies that the believer is another kind of thinker;
but experience shows most religious followers are haven't questioned anything they believe at all, and are under the impression that making rhetorical statements is thinking.
Thinking is not coming up with questions, its' trying to answer one without stating "god" like a fullstop and moving on without weighing a single alternative.

I call myself a Thinker. Is there anyone is the world who doesn't want to call themselves a Thinker? We need to take the name.
We would at least get absolutely everyone, from every mindset, to defensively claim that they think too, thus framing any discussion in terms of questioning.
It would, by default, lay common ground with absolutely anyone. Just its mere existence as a label hanging overhead makes it no longer okay to be a completely a believer, nobody but the most extreme zealots would ever claim not to at least partially be a thinker. It is the most passive-aggressive, powerful label ever, and may sound arrogant as heck, but no, we let anyone who wants to think be a part, we accept anyone and everyone. I would ask everyone to don this label too, and wear it proudly, and be kind to everyone who hears it and listen to what they have to say. Lets turn it into something wonderful to be.


Last edited by Blam on Sat Jun 26, 2010 5:45 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : grammatic errors)

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  Balrogoz on Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:54 pm

I use atheist, though I'm starting to lean away from that title. It's been rebranded so many times that I don't think anyone knows what it means anymore.

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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  StopNot on Mon Oct 18, 2010 2:22 am

Sure seems like there are a lot of issues here! Maybe I should create a poll and ask "What's your favorite color?" and see how many people will go with an unequivocal "red".

OK, I can be as nuanced, defensive, and politically aware/considerate as the next person and I don't like being pigeonholed or stereotyped anymore than anyone else, so I've used and accepted various labels depending upon the audience and the setting, generally, and who's asking and why, in particular. However, mostly, I prefer to just make a bold statement and engage others in the discussion and "atheist" gets the job done.

In particular, I don't care much for the label "agnostic". In current use, it seems to just reek of political correctness. It's great for people to be genuinely non-dogmatic, humble in their opinions, etc, but life is short, go ahead and admit to having an opinion.


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Re: Which label do you use?

Post  seaotter on Sat Jan 08, 2011 8:41 pm

Other

I'm an agnostic atheist in that I don't know but I certainly don't believe.
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took the words out of my mouth......

Post  Scott Pittman on Thu Jul 07, 2011 10:30 am

i've never heard this put better and i hope you dont mind (and this is something i do so rarely i just had to mention it to you) but i am going to start using your description for myself from now on. I have mostly just told people that im "not religious" or something to the effect but it usually led to a longer discussion in which i would in a round about way describe what you said here..... thanks for making that easier for me.

-scott


Stegocephalian wrote: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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Just one label?

Post  Nik K on Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:22 pm

I think it's hard for anyone to define themselves using a single label because rarely do you find a thinking person who holds exactly to all orthodox views of a specific "ism". It's hard to find a Catholic who believes everything in the catechism, for example.
I consider myself a theist because I have an absolute belief in God. But I also consider myself a naturalist because I do not believe in supernaturalism. My God is similar to the God of Spinoza than the God of Abraham. So, depending on who I'm talking to, I would usually self-apply the label of Naturalistic Theist, with explanations offered when requested.

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Titles

Post  jmclaurin on Tue Nov 29, 2011 10:06 am

I just wanted to weigh in on the topic a bit. There is a distinction between humanism and atheism that is often glossed over. In the context of religious beliefs, I'm atheist. However, that's a narrow slice of the human experience, and in large part merely the rejection of a specific field of view. Humanism speaks more to a set of values, but makes no requirement of religious belief. In terms of my moral constructs, "beliefs", and social awareness, I am humanist. In other words, I'm a humanist "and" an atheist to boot. Not quite the same thing or comparators for distinction. I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but wanted to elaborate in the interest of meaningful discourse.
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