Wednesday, November 19, 2014


"To be blunt, even asking that question betrays ignorance."

To be blunt, this is coming from someone who is comparing an intentionally created fictional character whose very specific definition can be disproved using scientific method, to a concept that has been in existence, since before writing, appears in almost every culture in the world in some form or another, and includes abstract definitions that can't be disproved using scientific method.

"People who ask me, “why can't you just be agnostic?” generally labor under the misconception that “agnostic” means something different than “atheist”, as I myself did for many years."
"“Atheist” simply means a person who lacks a god-belief. It doesn't represent any kind of coherent, organized belief system, which is (apparently) another common misconception many people suffer from."

It is not a misconception. It can mean something different.

Agnostic: "a person who does not have a definite belief about whether God exists or not"

Atheist: "a person who believes that God does not exist"

"Agnosticism, in fact, is not a creed, but a method, the essence of which lies in the rigorous application of a single principle. That principle is of great antiquity; it is as old as Socrates; as old as the writer who said, "Try all things, hold fast by that which is good" it is the foundation of the Reformation, which simply illustrated the axiom that every man should be able to give a reason for the faith that is in him; it is the great principle of Descartes; it is the fundamental axiom of modern science." ~ Thomas Huxley

"If you self-identify as agnostic, and you don't go to church on Sunday, or otherwise lack a god-belief, you're an atheist. An agnostic atheist, if you will. The terms are not mutually exclusive."

No, I'm not an a-theist. I am actually a person with a philosophy. I don't self-identify as everything I'm not. I self-identify as things I am. If you happen to use the broad definition of atheism, you can consider me a weak/negative atheist. But, no matter how much you call me an atheist, I won't be going around calling myself one. 

"Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe." ~ Thomas Huxley

"We can say we know, based on logical deductions, that a literal Santa Claus could not exist."

Well, duh. The proposition "Santa Claus exists" can be proven objectively false and the counter-proposition "Santa Claus doesn't exist" can be proven objectively true. We know exactly where "Santa Claus" is supposed to exist and, guess what, he isn't there. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence but, only if you're sure you're looking in exactly the right place. Not finding penguins in Cuba, doesn't mean penguins don't exist. So where, exactly, are people looking for "gods", and not finding any? Where are "gods" supposed to live?

"In much the same way, strong atheists say they know that no god exists."

No. A deistic type concept of "god" can not be proven objectively false, nor can the counter-proposition, "no gods exist", be proved true. Just arguing that it's a man made concept, and therefore false, is not logical. Every ounce of human knowledge started as a concept in someone's mind.

What happens if science advances so far that we find a way to replicate the science used in forming the universe? Have we proved "gods" don't exist, or proved they do? If there's any possibility of us ever being able to replicate that science, how can we claim anything proves that our universe wasn't someone else's science experiment? 

Here's a question, for you: What do you call someone who doesn't believe that proposition "gods do not exist" is true?

"A much more important question is, why does saying one is "just agnostic" avoid trouble?"

Because diluted definitions leads to the trouble of having a convoluted mess of a labelling system, making communication harder...

Gnostic Strong A-theist
Agnostic Strong A-theist
Agnostic (no belief label)
Agnostic Weak A-theist
Agnostic Theist
Gnostic Theist

Labels are supposed to make communication easier. The more qualifiers you need to describe your position, the less effective your label is.

Is it better to have the word "chair" mean "a separate seat for one person, typically with a back and four legs", or is it better to have the word "chair" mean "anything you can sit on", and then have to add qualifiers like strong couch chair, weak stool chair, weak chair?

"It means you'll pretend to respect knowledge claims based on faith, even if those knowledge claims are completely contradictory to evidence (like the fossil record and/or radar)."

That is clearly a statement from someone with absolutely zero understanding of agnosticism, in any way shape or form. Please, never attempt to publicly describe me and my label further, until you actually know what you're talking about. If some atheists want to give themselves the a-theist label, I don't really care, but can you all please stop redefining my label, in the process, and publicly telling people the definition of agnosticism, when you have no clue what you're talking about.

"So next time, my dear agnostic friend, you're trying to save face by excluding the strong atheists in your life from gatherings of religious people, remember that you're excluding people who share your own viewpoint."

Well, no. I don't believe gods don't exist, and they do believe gods don't exist. But yes, we both don't believe the theists claim. And, why would I exclude them from gatherings? Does "agnostic" = "bigot" too?

"the agnostic argument is so pervasive, and so ridiculous, that I do not think we can drive enough stakes into its hollow heart"

Yes, faith in a scientific, or objective, method is ridiculous. Pffft. What a stupid statement. It is the best method we have for discovering an objective reality. Huxley described scientific method as fairly common sense logical deduction.

Monday, August 18, 2014


"Choosing not to believe is like choosing to boycott the AAA"

The above was said by a Christian, not that all Christians believe that statement is truthful, or that only Christians believe that statement is truthful. Belief is not a personal choice. It is not something you can just turn on and off, at a whim. Not believing something is true, is not the same as believing something is true but just not wanting anything to do with it.

At the most basic level, we form beliefs based on our senses (e.g. we see something that looks like a rock, and our sense of sight makes us believe we're looking at a rock). Although our senses can be fooled, they are the first in line at forcing belief upon us. People, generally, then consider their senses the best way to justify a belief (e.g. if we have any doubt, as to what we're looking at, we'll try to touch it, to make sure it's really there). If we think our belief has been fully justified by our sensory testing, then we think we know something...we think we know that something is a rock.

Things start to fall apart when we are trying to figure out something we haven't experienced previously, or something we've just become noticeably aware of, and curious about. If we can't fully explain a something, or our senses can't really grasp the entirety of the situation, we may make guesses as to what it is, or how it does what it does, etc (e.g. our feet, for the most part, are always flat on the ground...and, say we haven't noticed the curvature on the horizon, and we haven't figured out that's the Earth's shadow on the we believe the Earth is flat...even think we know the Earth is flat).

At the next level, we rely on the senses of others (e.g. someone describes seeing a rock, and, maybe depending on how honest we think that person is, we'll believe they saw a rock). Maybe, however, it will require them to describe what they saw in incredible detail, or describe numerous ways in which they tested what they saw, before we come to believe that someone saw a rock. 

This is how we pass on our knowledge and beliefs to others. Some people put a lot more weight on how honest they think the person describing "reality" is, than they do on any descriptions or testing. We see this in everyday life, with children believing almost anything their parents tell them, until they learn the truth for themselves. Until that time, when enough evidence convinces them otherwise, they will continue to believe what has been told to them by people they deem trustworthy. Other people will put a lot more weight on the methods of testing, and even require multiple forms of testing, and/or multiple people doing the testing, before believing something is true.

Whatever it takes, to believe, or unbelieve, something is true, it is most definitely not a personal choice. Between reading this, and the next full moon, choose to believe the moon is a cube. Tell yourself, every minute of every day, that the moon is a cube. Every time you close your eyes, try to picture a cube moon. Then, on the next full moon, look at the moon. Can you honestly say you believe the moon is a cube? Can you actually choose to believe something, or is belief forced upon you?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

ADDLED ATHEIST #2: Austin Cline

"The presence of a belief in a god and the absence of a belief in a god exhaust all of the possibilities."
I'm going to address this statement first, because this is just an outright lie. Almost all a-theists admit to the existence of athe-ists, or strong a-theists. Austin himself freely admits that strong a-theists exist and that their position carries its own burden of proof. He also admits that many a-theists can be strong a-theists regarding certain definitions of "God". This means that athe-ists, or strong a-theists, are putting forth their own proposition, which is the opposing proposition put forth by theists. The opposing propositions are "god(s) do exist" and "god(s) do not exist". If you believe "god(s) do exist" is true, then you believe "god(s) do not exist" is false, and vice versa. So, in actuality, I can believe one of those two positions are true...2 possibilities...or, I can not believe either is true...a 3rd possibility. 

If the broad definition of agnosticism is used, then agnostics lack belief, because not enough evidence (knowledge) has forced them to form a belief. They are the 3rd possibility. We then only need definitions for the other two possibilities, which are covered by the labels the-ist and athe-ist.
"Once it is understood that atheism is merely the absence of belief in any gods, it becomes evident that agnosticism is not, as many assume, a “third way” between atheism and theism."
So...if you believe my false premise then, obviously, this false argument is true. This is circular reasoning. This is what George H Smith did in ATHEISM: The Case Against God. So, what happens if I don't agree that your false premise is true?
"Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge — it was coined originally to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not."
Oh, then I'm supposed to believe your false "original" definition of agnosticism is true. I've already shown that Huxley was addressing the evidence gathering phase of forming a belief, and that his position was that agnostics did not have enough evidence (knowledge), to form a belief. I don't think many self proclaimed a-theists have even read anything of Huxley's, before claiming to know the "original" definition.
"Thus, it is clear that agnosticism is compatible with both theism and atheism."
Again, if you believe my false definition, then, clearly, my false argument is true. Huxley clearly states that agnosticism is most definitely not compatible with theism or atheism.
"It is also worth noting that there is a vicious double standard involved when theists claim that agnosticism is “better” than atheism because it is less dogmatic."
This is because the majority of theists still use the definition, athe-ist, that they invented and defined. Agnostics, not believing their religions are true are perceived as less dogmatic than athe-ists believing their religions are false. No double standard, just the majority usage of the term "athe-ist".
"In the end, the fact of the matter is a person isn’t faced with the necessity of only being either an atheist or an agnostic."
Austin is definitely using the wrong definition of "fact", along with his other definitions.

Austin has problems with a number of definitions. Like many a-theists, he can't keep straight the convoluted mess they have created. 
"Weak atheism, also sometimes referred to as implicit atheism, is simply another name for the broadest and most general conception of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods."
 No, that's not implicit atheism, Austin. George H Smith came up with the terms implicit and explicit atheism. An implicit atheist is someone who has never even heard the claim, and can't possibly form a belief. This would be babies, and any adults who have never heard of gods.

Weak atheism comes from George's two forms of explicit atheists, those who have heard the claim, but don't believe gods exist. In it's weaker form, that's the extent of it. In it's stronger form, explicit atheism denies the existence of gods. Austin seems to be under the false impression that all explicit atheism is strong atheism.
"Strong atheism, also sometimes referred to as explicit atheism, goes one step further and involves denying the existence of at least one god, usually multiple gods, and sometimes the possible existence of any gods at all."
He also has the strange notion that strong atheism can be called gnostic atheism. While strong atheists are sometimes gnostic atheists, strong atheism should not be equated to gnostic atheism.
"Strong atheism is sometimes called “gnostic atheism” because people who take this position often incorporate knowledge claims into it — that is to say, they claim to know in some fashion that certain gods or indeed all gods do not or cannot exist."
Yes, the gnostic atheist incorporates knowledge claims. Yes, a gnostic atheist is a strong atheist. No, not all strong atheists are gnostic atheists, and the terms aren't interchangeable.
"This narrower conception of atheism is often thought by many (erroneously) to represent the entirety of atheism itself."
It is not erroneous to use a different definition of atheism. It's still valid. What is erroneous is pretending there is one, and only one, definition.
"What this means is that all atheists are weak atheists. The difference, then, between weak and strong atheism is not that some people belong to one instead of the other, but rather that some people belong to one in addition to the other. All atheists are weak atheists because all atheists, by definition, lack belief in the existence of gods. Some atheists, however, are also strong atheists because they take the extra step of denying the existence of at least some gods."
That's a whole lot of nonsense. If we're to use the broad a-theism definition then, yes, both are a-theists, but the qualifying labels are added to describe their final position. Strong a-theists are not also weak a-theists. That would defeat the purpose of the qualifying words. Now we'll have to say this person is a weak weak a-theist, and this person is a strong weak a-theist.
"Thus, while all atheists are weak atheists, pretty much all atheists are also strong atheists with respect to at least some gods."
Which is a silly way to label yourself. As I state in "GODS", "ALIENS", and "MULTI-VERSES", I would never label myself an anti-alienist because I believe Superman is fictional. I would only label myself regarding the bare bones "alien" concept.

Austin seems to have no clue what he's talking about, half the time. 


"Catholics aren't real Christians"

The above was said by a Christian, not that all Christians believe that statement is truthful, or that only Christians believe that statement is truthful. Well, aside from most Christians possibly not being real Christians, here's the problem with that statement ... all modern Christianity stems from the Catholic Church.

Firstly, the book Christians use to claim their version of Christianity is the right version of Christianity, was put together by the Catholic Church. After Constantine the Great accepted Christianity as his religion, and declared freedom of religion in the Empire, he ordered church leaders to agree upon a single canon that would be used by all Christians, and financed 50 copies to be made. This led to the creation of an official Bible, with them deciding what would, and wouldn't, be in it. 

Secondly, after the Council of Nicea, in 325 AD, when it was decided that Jesus was God, and the opposing Arian view, that Jesus wasn't God, was deemed heresy, the Nicene Christians began persecuting other Christians. The irony, as I see it, is that Arianism was most prevalent in the East...where Christianity originated. Constantine may have also seen the irony, as he chose an Arian Christian to baptise him, before his death. In 380 AD, Nicene Christianity was made the state religion. This led to further persecutions, and attempts to eradicate all forms of Christianity that the Church of Rome deemed heresy. Arians were their main target, initially. 

By 415 AD, Arianism had mostly been suppressed within the Empire, so the Church of Rome turned its eyes on a new growing Christian denomination, Pelagianism. Pelagian believed in deeds over grace, even going so far as suggesting that good people, who do good works, can go to heaven, even if they don't go to church, or if they practice another religion. He also believed that by Jesus dying for everyone's sins, people were no longer burdened by original sin...that they are born good. Pelagianism started attracting many followers, so the Church of Rome deemed it heretical at the Council of Carthage, in 418 AD.

This persecution and suppression of all other forms, or denominations, of early Christianity led to the Catholic Church being the only widely practised form of Christianity for hundreds of years. Crusades were aimed not just at Muslim nations, but also nations deemed heretical. The inquisitions were aimed at anyone not practising Catholicism. All modern forms of Christianity stem from Roman Catholic roots, and the Bible they put together.