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View Diary: Rebuttal to the front-page criticism of Jindal (109 comments)

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  •  Please enlighten me (0+ / 0-)

    There are two definitions here that I'm not sure about.

    1. "atheist": that could include people who don't know if there is a God or not, in addition to the people who insist that there is no God.  I myself tend to call the people in the first category "agnostic".
    1. "belief": I believe that the laws of physics always apply.  I believe that experiments are reproducible.  I believe that the laws of mathematics are always true.  I believe that I am not a brain in a jar somewhere.  Does this definition of "believe" work for you?  Or does "belief" to you imply supernaturalism of some sort?

    I suspect there is some built-in defensiveness because theists have, in the past, tried to use logic to argue that "belief in no God" proves that God must exist, or some such.  That is not my intention.

    By my definition, a person who says "There is no God" believes that there is no God; he does not merely lack a belief in God.  And someone who says, "You are stupid to believe in a God" clearly believes there is no God.  (Of course, someone who says "You are stupid to make religion the focus of your life" may fall into either the "lack of belief" camp or the "belief of lack" camp.)

    What am I getting wrong here?

    •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

      This is essentially touching on the differences between "hard" and "soft" atheism.  (See this article for a reasonably decent discussion of this.)

      The relevant bit here is:

      Some atheists go beyond a mere absence of belief in gods: they actively believe that particular gods, or all gods, do not exist. Just lacking belief in Gods is often referred to as the "weak atheist" position; whereas believing that gods do not (or cannot) exist is known as "strong atheism." [...]

      It is important, however, to note the difference between the strong and weak atheist positions. "Weak atheism" is simple scepticism; disbelief in the existence of God. "Strong atheism" is an explicitly held belief that God does not exist.

      IOW, weak atheism is essentially an argument based upon absence of evidence -- I don't know (for example) that an ancient Roman didn't at one point invent, say, a primitive telescope; there's no evidence for it and a lot of evidence against it, but it's not physically impossible for them to have done so.  Hard atheism is a statement of positive disbelief: I am certain that the Romans did not have access to computers, because it is impossible for them to have accessed the level of technology necessary to construct one.  [1]

      [1] Both are bad examples, but it's late, and hopefully you get the point.

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