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Maryann Spikes

Theist: "I believe god(s) exist(s)."
Atheist: "I believe no god(s) exist(s)."
Agnostic/apistic: "I don't believe, either way."

Greta Christina

Maryann: With all due respect, did you even read the piece?

Atheists do not say, "I believe no god(s) exist(s)." Almost all of us say some version of, "I have concluded that no god exists." Which is not a belief -- it is a provisional conclusion, based on the best available current evidence.

Or else we say, "I don't believe that god(s) exist(s)." Which is NOT the same thing as saying, "I believe no god(s) exist(s)." Do you believe that unicorns exist? If not -- wold you say, "I believe that unicorns do not exist?" Or would you say, "I don't believe that unicorns exist?" And if the latter -- does that make your a-unicornism a belief?

You're acting as if making a reasonably certain provisional conclusion without 100% guaranteed certainty is always a belief. And, as I pointed out in this piece, that's not a very useful definition of the word "belief."

You can make this assertion about how atheism is a belief again and again and again -- you have done so, in my blog and on my Facebook page -- but it doesn't make it true. You keep saying it, and atheists keep responding, "No, that isn't what atheism means," and you keep hanging on to that assertion in spite of the fact that so many atheist have told you that isn't who they are or what they think. Why do you think you understand what atheism is better than atheists ourselves do? And why are you so attached to this idea of atheism as a belief? Why are you so willing to twist around the definitions of the word "belief," so that you can convince yourself that atheism is a belief?

Maryann Spikes

If you don't believe in the nonexistence of god(s), claim agnosticism/apisticism.

Greta Christina

"If you don't believe in the nonexistence of god(s), claim agnosticism/apisticism."

Maryann: You do not get to single-handedly define this language.

The word "atheist" has clearly come to mean, "Person who does not accept the god hypothesis; person who has concluded that God does not exist." The fact that you say that that's not what it means doesn't make it true. Even if you say it over and over and over again.

And according to your usage of the word "agnostic," it would mean "anyone who understands the hypothetical possibility that the things they have concluded to be true might not be." And that's not a very useful definition of the word.

Eclectic

The problem is the slippery word "belief", which has quite a few confusingly similar meanings which obscure important differences. When used in the noun form (a belief), it generally refers to something dogmatic. The most clearly ambiguous is the phrase "believe in". Do you believe in the Communist Party of China?

Just for example there are the usual phrasings of weak and strong atheism:
Weak atheist: I do not believe that a god exists.
Strong atheist: I believe that a god does not exist.

I consider myself a strong atheist, but I insist on a careful definition of "believe" and "god" which might not correspond to someone else's.

Believe: having considered the matter at some length, I consider it settled and will move forward with my life without wasting mental energy worrying about the alternative.

I'm not unwilling to consider dramatic new evidence, but I'm not bothering to make contingency plans in case I'm wrong.

God: I'm referring specifically to the kind of interventionist god of popular mythology who cares about (e.g.) my sex life. I can't disprove last thursdayism, or a similar non-interventionist deity, but such a deity's existence also makes no difference to the outcome of anything in my life.

Maryann Spikes

If I were to say to you "God exists," you might reply "I do not have the belief that God exists." But, if I said, "God does not exist," you would NOT reply "I do not have the belief that God does not exist," because you are an atheist (unless, of course, you are a true agnostic).

Blondin

If you said, "God does not exist," I would say, "I suspect you are correct."

I really don't give a shit if you wish to label me an atheist or an agnostic. I am provisionally as sure that gods do not exist as I am that unicorns, leprechauns, fairies, and invisible dragons do not exist. If you want to insist that makes me an agnostic rather than an unbeliever in those things then I would have to say that makes you a pedantic twit but says nothing about atheists having faith.

Maryann Spikes

I just think atheists "protest too much" when they claim not to believe, period, as opposed to believing in the alternative [(the nonexistence of god(s)].

Like I told Greta on her Facebook wall, if you want to feel better than theists, just say "You guys might believe, you guys might have faith--but your belief is blind--your faith is blind. Mine is not."

All beliefs lacking absolute certainty (as defined by philosophers) involve some measure of faith. The stronger the evidence the stronger the faith. If there is a lack of evidence, or the counter-evidence out-weighs the rest, the faith is blind.

Speaking of Facebook, take this Facebook belief scale poll...it even mentions unicorns: http://apps.facebook.com/my-polls/belief-scale?ref=mf

Greta Christina

"All beliefs lacking absolute certainty (as defined by philosophers) involve some measure of faith."

And as I keep saying: That is a completely useless definition of the word "faith."

With the exception of a handful of mathematical and logical propositions, EVERYTHING we know and think and conclude lacks absolute certainty. If you're saying that everything we know and think and conclude is "faith"... that makes the word "faith" entirely useless. I do not know anyone else except you, Maryann, who uses the word that way.

And as I said on Facebook:

Let's say that I concede your point. I don't, obviously, but for the sake of argument, let's say that I do. Let's say I agree that "belief" ought to be defined as "any conclusion that is reached without absolute 100% certainty" -- and that therefore, atheism and theism are both beliefs. Along with virtually every other conclusion we make in our lives.

So what?

What does that prove? About atheism, or anything else?

Does that prove that atheism and theism are in any way equivalent? Does it prove that they are equally reasonable? Equally plausible? Equally supported by logic or evidence? That atheists and theists have come to their conclusions -- "beliefs," if we are to use your word -- through equivalent processes of critical thought?

Or does it simply prove that atheism and theism both fall into the extremely broad category of "everything we can't know with 100% certainty" -- which is to say, everything, except for certain mathematical and logical conclusions?

If that's your point... well, it's not very interesting, is it? It doesn't actually say anything important or useful about either atheism or theism, does it?

So why are you riding this hobby-horse?

Maryann Spikes

‎"Does that prove that atheism and theism are in any way equivalent? Does it prove that they are equally reasonable? Equally plausible? Equally supported by logic or evidence? That atheists and theists have come to their conclusions -- "bel...iefs," if we are to use your word -- through equivalent processes of critical thought?"

No.

I'm cool w/ using the word 'conclusion' in place of the word 'belief' but it is more expedient just to use the word philosophers (not just li'l ol' me) typically use. For example, doing it your way necessitates that all the literature be revised when discussing whether or not knowledge is justified true belief. I believe switching to "justified true conclusion" just creates unnecessary confusion.

Many more than me use "faith" correctly (the correct use of it being useless to 'you' of course). Atheists of your variety would love all faith to mean "blind faith" but -- it simply doesn't. Blind faith is to faith as blind belief is to belief. Not all belief (I mean...not all concluding) is blind, either.

Daniel Stewart

@Maryann

Atheist and agnostic are not mutually exclusive terms. You seem to think that all atheists are gnostic about the existence of a god. You can have agnostic and gnostic theists as well as agnostic and gnostic atheists. Those who are gnostic generally claim absolute certainty which is, in my opinion, dangerous.

Daniel Stewart

@Greta

As always, an excellent read filled with insight and logic. Thank you.

Greta Christina
"but it is more expedient just to use the word philosophers (not just li'l ol' me) typically use."

Is it more expedient to use a word that clearly causes confusion and distraction, with multiple definitions that differ widely and even contradict one another, and that commonly gets twisted by theists in an attempt to discredit atheists?

No.

You are clearly very attached to your definitions of these words being the "correct" ones. I have made an actual argument for why these definitions are useless (see above). You haven't made an argument for why your definitions are better, except to say "some other people use them that way."

It is becoming increasingly clear -- from this conversation, from the one in Facebook, from the comments you keep making again and again and again in my blog, and from your own blog posts that you keep linking to here -- that you are intensely invested in this semantic quibbling over the words "belief" and "faith". It is increasingly clear that you are doing this as (a) an attempt to draw false equivalencies between atheism and theism, and (b) an evasion of the substantial questions about the real differences between atheism and theism.

If you're interested in discussion substantial questions of how similar/ different atheism and theism are, whether atheism or theism is a more reasonable conclusion based on the available evidence, whether or not they are equivalent conclusions, whether they're based on equivalent thought processes and sources of evidence... I am willing to have that conversation. But it seems that the only thing you have to say is, "if you accept my particular definitions of the words 'atheist' and 'belief,' then atheism is a belief." You say it over and over and over and over and over again. And that's neither pertinent nor interesting. I can only run around in circles for so long.

Bruce Gorton

Posted by: Maryann Spikes | November 03, 2010 at 05:00 PM

Really the most handy response to that sort of thing:

http://xkcd.com/774/

Theunis

Greta Christina said:-
"With the exception of a handful of mathematical and logical propositions, EVERYTHING we know and think and conclude lacks absolute certainty."
"EVERYTHING" excludes all, therefore we cannot have any "exceptions". (Oh I know you meant all other things and not Everything"
I say am a man; on your terms (using EVERYTHING) this means that is not so and I only thinks so. Then again to think so makes me something, or are you perhaps referring to the Yoga view that this life as we perceive it is an illusion and not reality ?

You, Greta and Maryann, are both correct to air your present views as you do, although there is no certainly in both the atheist or theist views. So let's replace beliefs and faith with views and then start again.
The fact of the matter is we are merely expressing our views of how we see life, which because of the uncertainty clause we keep discussing to attempt to verify, or even to justify, them.
The reality is because of a lack at evidence, at this stage, both of you don't really have a sound foundation for your arguments.

Without faith there is no hope for the future. This means anybody can have faith in a better future BUT with warped faith and beliefs/views, as so many fanatics, Christians and others, exhibit, there is no hope whatsoever for the future.

Let us therefore walk into my world which is labeled "Reality" which says The only hope for humanity is "accept each other for what we are" and get on with life.

I am not criticizing, It is that I simply love to look into other peoples realities.

Snoof
The reality is because of a lack at evidence, at this stage, both of you don't really have a sound foundation for your arguments.

Uh... have you not been paying attention either? That's Greta's point! Insufficient evidence, therefore atheism (as a provisional viewpoint subject to review in the face of new evidence).

Let us therefore walk into my world which is labeled "Reality" which says The only hope for humanity is "accept each other for what we are" and get on with life.
So, what, we should accept that some people are bigots and not challenge them? Accept that some people have terminal cancer and not try to cure them? Accept that some people are going to try to kill others and not stop them? Accept that some people are ignorant and not try to educate them?
Blondin
All beliefs lacking absolute certainty (as defined by philosophers) involve some measure of faith. The stronger the evidence the stronger the faith. If there is a lack of evidence, or the counter-evidence out-weighs the rest, the faith is blind.

This is bullshit. I would like to see some citations where faith is defined in this context. The stronger the evidence the less faith is required to believe. The weaker (or lack) of evidence the more faith is required to believe. Faith is believing without concern for evidence (or truth).

Arguments from authority are not good arguments as a general rule but arguments from authority of unspecified philosophers are especially suspect. Perhaps there is a reason why they say 95% of philosophers give the rest of them a bad name.

Blondin
Let us therefore walk into my world which is labeled "Reality" which says The only hope for humanity is "accept each other for what we are" and get on with life.

That's a really nice warm-fuzzy sentiment. Too bad for women and children born into religious families or in theocratic communities that don't share that sentiment. Gay/lesbian couples, women who want or need an abortion, apostates who wish to leave a religion, children who need medical attention but whose parents believe in the healing power of prayer, etc. These are all people who I'm sure would be delighted to be allowed to get on with their life.

Maryann Spikes

Daniel Stewart--atheists and theists both are "gnostic" ("pistic" anyway). If they are "a"gnostic, they are not atheists (they are not theists), only agnostic.

Blondin said: "The stronger the evidence the less faith is required to believe. The weaker (or lack) of evidence the more faith is required to believe. Faith is believing without concern for evidence (or truth)."

Let me give you an example, flattering to atheists, of what faith really means. Faith is when you hold on to the belief that there is no god(s) (as I once did), despite the fear and panic that rise up in you during your deconversion (because of what you have been taught about hell, and because of how your believing friends and family react to your deconversion). Faith is when you believe evolution because of the evidence (as I do), rather than siding with young-earth creationists merely due to peer pressure. That faith (as opposed to blind faith) is based on evidence (or, lack of evidence where evidence should not be lacking). It is strengthened by evidence, and weakened by counter-evidence.

It is "subjective certainty" short of absolute certainty. The further away from absolute certainty, the more lesser degrees of faith (lesser degrees of subjective certainty) will be involved--and that is true of every belief (which is not to say every belief is equally justified!), not just ones involving god(s). It is unnecessary to change the lingo to "conclusion" or "view"...or to cast around insults. It really is not that big of a deal, so why this blog post about atheism not being a belief? Better to say atheism is not an unjustified/blind belief.

Theunis

I was showing to you all that BOTH sides are faced with the same dilemma. Unless of course you are now being egotistical by saying you are right and the other is wrong.
Apparently someone else can read but does not comprehend. Accepting people as they are is a case of accepting their views, especially when they want to get on with their lives without interference from others. This does not mean that You should not kick butt if crime and hurt to others is involved. It is shoving yourself into the face of others and screaming your supremacy, which if analyzed actually points to feelings of inadequacy, that should be avoided.
It is also just as bad for children born in other spheres; atrocities are found amongst all walks of life or do you believe in "you are pure as the driven snow" and the others are "covered in soot".

Warm fuzzy sentiment? Do not confuse fact with sentiments, You fail to see what I say. They have their ways and you have yours. Get on with your life referred to us people and not the extremists and fanatics who should be ignored and then because of lack of fuel they will cease to be.
Laws have long ago been passed to take care of those who abuse their children and others. If you know about it and do nothing then you are as guilty as the perpetrators of the atrocities you speak of. So stop crying and do something.
This is the "reality" to which we are subjected to every day but we must be able not to let it get us down. Therefore I repeat get on with your life, as you see fit, naturally without the "To Hell with others attitude".

Is it so hard for you to understand that I am at peace with you as you are. Don't you like it to be accepted as a human or is it too foreign for you with what you have experienced to date.

This may sound like preaching, it is not, it is the views of a "Realist" who can see all sides of the story.

Doug from Dougland

What a brilliant piece of armcahir psychology Theunis. Tell me, how is being relatively sure of your own correctness and being able to cite and present evidence for your views being egotistical? Are we supposed to accept the inherently flawed notion that everything and everyone is equally wrong at all times?

Blondin
Faith is when you believe evolution because of the evidence (as I do), rather than siding with young-earth creationists merely due to peer pressure.

You are being disingenuous. Perhaps you can find a dictionary or thesaurus entry that shows a usage of "faith" equating the word to "confident" or "certain". Perhaps you can extend "degrees of certainty" to be synonymous with "degrees of faith" in certain contexts. But you are trying to make the case that faith and blind faith are opposites. This is ludicrous.

Theunis

@ Greta Christina.
Sorry Greta It is my way to confirm what you stated but others are misinterpreting it and we have drifted from the subject. My thoughts are too radical for most people because I will fight against theism or atheism when it comes to fanaticism. This sometimes causes communication problems.

@Snoof
I hope after my previous post I have made myself a bit clearer, Acceptance of the things you refer to is as you indicated is definitely not acceptable.

@Doug.
You read what is not there "inherently flawed notion". Read again when I said accept others views it did not say Not deny them. Which means accept what they say as correct at that time or to further explain, until somewhere sometime they may be proven correct or otherwise, a sort of agnostic view.
I cannot fathom where you found the bit of my own correctness or where I am being egotistical. So please elucidate your statements.

Blondin
Is it so hard for you to understand that I am at peace with you as you are. Don't you like it to be accepted as a human or is it too foreign for you with what you have experienced to date.

This may sound like preaching, it is not, it is the views of a "Realist" who can see all sides of the story.

You're right. That does sound an awful lot like holier-than-thou preaching.

If people want to believe fairy tales about magical beings and that's as far as it goes I really wouldn't give a shit. The trouble is that many of them are not happy to just keep their insane delusions to themselves. They insist on trying to influence politicians, lawmakers, education standards, etc.

Theunis, perhaps you should read Ophelia Benson's "Why Truth Matters" or Laura Penny's "More Money Than Brains: Why School Sucks, College is Crap, and Idiots Think They're Right", or Oreskeys and Conway's "Merchants of Doubt" or Ben Goldacre's "Bad Science: Quacks, Hacks, and Big Pharma Flacks" for some real-life examples of why it's important to challenge things that don't make sense.

Theunis

@Doug
Is this what you are talking about ?
"Unless of course you are now being egotistical by saying you are right and the other is wrong".
If it is then you have misread what I said. If there is no evidence then how am I at fault to say this?

@Blondin
Do you really not want to face life.
Looking at the world with all it's beauty yet being able to see the truth of the horrible human actions should not be so hard to understand. There is no holier than thou anywhere in what I say and if you see it as such then I apologize. I do not subscribe to any one view, Fanatical christians and atheist alike do not like what I say because invariably none wish to face the truth. I am only a realists facing life.
As I said I am not here to try to change your thoughts or views but if you feel like kicking arse, do it if it should perchance give you pleasure.

loomis

Greta, thank you for this post, it had several good points and explanations that were helpful towards better understanding a complex idea. Concrete examples, such as the unicorns and ways of defining belief were particularly useful.

NL

Theunis

@Greta
Thank you for allowing me to continue with something that was not always relevant to the discussion of "Faith" and "Belief".

I still think that Belief should rather be replaced with "View" or maybe "your point of view".
Belief can be used in so many different ways that in the end it can become meaningless.

Blondin
I do not subscribe to any one view, Fanatical christians and atheist alike do not like what I say because invariably none wish to face the truth. I am only a realists facing life.

I don't know how you can think I don't wish to face life or the truth. My whole point is that reality is whatever it is. I am only interested in what is true. People who wish to pursue alternate realities (what ever those are) through "other ways of knowing" are welcome to do so as long as they don't try to limit or dictate the rights of others.

As I said I am not here to try to change your thoughts or views but if you feel like kicking arse, do it if it should perchance give you pleasure.

Oh, those horrible, fundamentalist atheists! I don't see asking for rational justification as kicking arse. I get a little fed up with being called fanatical, hateful, militant, extremist, etc simply for not accepting things "on faith". This is a diversion tactic used by people who just don't want to answer awkward questions and people like you buy into it.

Doug from Dougland

@Theunis

So you say we should all accept that other people can have conflicting views and think that we ourselves are correct, but that we should never, under any circumstances, tell the other person that they are wrong?

I take it to mean that you think, that everything we know about the world around us is a belief, or a "view."

That is equating fact with opinion, and one of the most insidious ways of telling other people to shut up and play nice. After all, if it's everyone's view that the world is an oblate spheroid, then the person who says it's flat isn't wrong, they just hold conflicting views.

Most people on the other hand, myself included, fully acknowledge that views not supported by evidence are, shockingly, wrong.

I don't understand why you feel that insisting that opinions be based on facts (especially opinions about facts, e.g. does prayer work?) is unnecessarily harsh. And I especially don't understand why you think that saying all knowledge is opinion, therefore all knowledge is equally valid (and that is the argument you are making) leads to less conflict. Perhaps you can illuminate me?

Sarah

All beliefs lacking absolute certainty (as defined by philosophers) involve some measure of faith. The stronger the evidence the stronger the faith. If there is a lack of evidence, or the counter-evidence out-weighs the rest, the faith is blind.

Indeed. And any positive Atheism requires some faith, as does any positive statement at all, such as "The World Exists" i.e. "We do not live in the Matrix"

To pretend that you can be without faith without being an Agnostic is silly.

If you claim to "know", then you claim "I believe strongly", that belief is justified more or less depending on the evidence, but remains, still, and forever, a belief.

If you claim not to know, then you are agnostic.

Blondin

Words are defined by human beings. Individuals are not defined by words. The title of this article is "Is Atheism a Belief?". I think the context and meaning of Greta's article are quite clear.

While it is true that many people use the word "believe" to mean "based on my experience and understanding I accept as true until contradictory information becomes available" it is also true that many religious people use it to mean "I unconditionally accept as true regardless of availability of supporting/contradictory information". It's a cheap and dishonest debating tactic to try to use common usage definitions of words to attach meanings to people's statements that are not intended or apparent from context.

Theunis

@Blondin.
By kicking butt I meant giving what they deserve to those fanatics/extremists who try to ram their views down the throats of others or try for self serving motivations to influence authorities. You must admit though that it does feel good when one succeeds.
I was making a general statement about fanatics and the bit you are knocking me for therefore does not refer to you.
So far you have not shown that trait, If I thought you were one I surely would have said so, but I now understand better of how you see things because of what you said about getting fed up
with such statements. But you must admit there are plenty of those creatures around.

I am way beyond believing nonsense and "buying into it".
Although there are some things I must accept on "Faith" like it is raining today but I have faith that the sun will shine tomorrow. The "on faith" as per fanatical christian definition is not always acceptable to me, especially if someone tries to delude me. But the "faith of a child" is totally acceptable to me.

I keep apologizing but again if I've affronted you I am truly sorry.

Greta Christina

Theunis: Doug from Dougland beat me to it, but I'm going to say it again. You're treating the question of whether god exists as if it were a matter of opinion -- instead of a question of what is and is not literally true in the real, non-subjective world.

It is simply not the case that there's no evidence to support atheism. Here are my Top Ten Reasons I Don't Believe In God. These reasons don't provide absolute, 100% certain proof that there is no god -- an impossible standard -- but they provide compelling evidence that strongly point to that conclusion.

But even if I didn't have positive evidence for my atheism... it would still be the most logical conclusion. If there's no positive evidence for a hypothesis, we ought to accept the null hypothesis unless we see good evidence suggesting otherwise. So in the absence of good evidence supporting the god hypothesis, we ought to accept the null hypothesis -- which is atheism.

(You're also treating the expression of disagreement as if it were inherently disrespectful and intolerant and likely to lead to civil unrest, as opposed to a central part of the marketplace of ideas... but that's a different question.)

And Theunis, Sarah, Maryann, etc.: You are proving the point of this piece for me. You are demonstrating why the words "belief" and "faith" ought not to be applied to atheism. You are conflating different meanings of the words: you're conflating "trust" or "hope" or "confidence" or "reasonable but uncertain conclusion" with "unshakable, a priori assumption." You seem to be doing this to create a false equivalence between atheism and theism. You're trying to make it seem as if, because neither atheism nor theism can be proven with absolute certainty, therefore they are equally plausible, and it's reasonable to believe whatever you like. As Blondin so eloquently put it, it's "a cheap and dishonest debating tactic to try to use common usage definitions of words to attach meanings to people's statements that are not intended or apparent from context."

As I said to Maryann earlier: Let's pretend, for the sake of argument, that I conceded this point, and agreed that "belief" and "faith" meant "any conclusion that we can't prove with absolute 100% certainty," and that according to this definition, atheism would be a belief. So what? What would that prove? Would that say anything interesting or useful at all about atheism, or theism, or how they are similar or different?

If so -- what?

And if not -- then why are you riding this hobby horse?

Theunis

@Doug.

"So you say we should all accept that other people can have conflicting views"
Yes

"and think that we ourselves are correct, "
No.

"but that we should never, under any circumstances, tell the other person that they are wrong?"
No. Only in cases where it is futile to argue without gaining any knowledge. This means let the other party keep on dreaming. At least then he will leave you alone so that you may pursue more fruitful ventures. Well this is how I deal with it. You may deal with it differently. It doesn't make me a coward nor do I consider my actions as haughty.

"I take it to mean that you think, that everything we know about the world around us is a belief, or a "view.""
No. Not "Everything".You are doing some fancy interpretation of what I said. A brickwall is not a belief or a view. Try running into it. Take all your clothes off and go lie in the sun for a couple of hours or go roll in the snow in the nude. Try swimming the Atlantic. A belief or a view is not necessarily a fact. (Remember flat earth, the sun revolves around the earth)

"Most people on the other hand, myself included, fully acknowledge that views not supported by evidence are, shockingly, wrong".
What say you about the Human Aura. Age old knowledge denied by the majority because it is not supported by scientific evidence ?. So it doesn't exist ? Please enlighten me on this subject.
"Most people" is a generalization and does not in fact include most people unless you are referring the most people in a certain group. 85% of Americans are Christians
(found this data on the WWW) and they wont agree with you. I will agree with you on many things but not all things.

Because I have examined so many things I have actually seen, as an unbiased onlooker and not a Christian or from a religious point of view, prayer work.

If you insist on proof for everything that is your prerogative and nowhere have I knocked your views on the matter.

Knowledge is usually based on facts but sometimes it is very much outdated, while opinions are what they are, very concrete to the person who has them but ephemeral to others unless they are members of the same group.

@Greta
Oh come off it don't include me in your squabble between theists and atheists. You are doing what Doug did interpreting what I say to suit yourself. If theists believe in their God I say let them. It's no skin off my nose. If you want to drag me into the argument or to take sides, I will not then again still no skin off my nose that you are an atheist. All I said was I support your view but I believe that all people are entitled to their views. Nowhere have I attacked you views or that of others. The world will keep on turning irrespective of what we say to each other. It doesn't give a damn what we think or say or believe or think we know.
So take your comment regarding what I said and go dump them somewhere else where they may have meaning but first go reread all that I have said before and after your post which included me.
Oh yes now I see the reason for your confrontation. You didn't like it when I said you both have no solid ground to base your arguments on. But that was what you said to start it off and I was merely repeating what you had said in different words.
Don't presume that I am a theist or anything at all that you can label. My kind are few and far between and as far as 99% of the world population is concerned we do not exist.
I wish you were all like Blondin but in your world her kind is also far and few between.
I am merely a spectator at this boxing match so beat the excretions out of each other for my enjoyment.

Maria

My kind are few and far between and as far as 99% of the world population is concerned we do not exist.

Oh, I thought Special Snowflakes was in fact rather common...

Greta Christina

Theunis: If your only point is "all people are entitled to their views"... of course that's true. Nobody has disagreed with that. But people are also entitled to express our disagreement with other people's views, and to make a case for why we think our views are better supported by the evidence and are more likely to be correct. If you're not interested in participating in that... then don't. Nobody is making you read this blog.

I am merely a spectator at this boxing match...

For someone who claims to be just a spectator, you're spending an awful lot of time in the ring. If you really have such a "live and let live, it's futile to argue" approach to life... then what are you doing in this debate?

Theunis

Maria
In my part of this country snowflakes don't exists. But a telepath or two do exist. Have you ever viewed the horror of some minds in your vicinity and the beauty of others.
You and many of your kind have no concept of reality. Why do you think I said accept the views of others. Have you ever looked at the despair people inflict on others especially when they are fanatics causing the despair.
I vowed never to interfere with humanity for they all have free choice to be a god unto themselves. They can decide if they wish to live or die, yet they may not play god to others.
It is not for me to rob them of their choices. If what they do is not detrimental to others they usually find peace.
I have found the answer to your squabbles. I shall not and never will answer in this regard for even as I were to lay the evidence before you, you will not accept it. You must find the answers yourself which you will never find if you keep running around in circles.

Laugh as you wish but in the end I will be the one laughing and he who laughs last just laughs and laughs and laughs, even if it is tear filled laughter.

Don't try to reply I will no longer be found here.

Maria

An SSF*-sighting! How... very not rare :-)


*Special Snowflake Flounce.

Greta Christina

I love it when people accuse other people of having no concept of reality... and then refuse to provide any good evidence for why their conception of reality is the right one.

And I love it when people spend 2153 words (I did a word count) arguing that it's "egotistical" to try to convince people that you're right and they're wrong.

And by "love," I mean "am irritated, but entertained at the irony."

Flounce away, little snowflake. Flounce away.

Blondin

I should leave this alone now (especially since Theunis said he/she was leaving) but I just want to squeeze in another 2 cents worth.

Theunis indicates a belief in auras, telepathy and the power of prayer. My instinctive response is to repeat the words of Richard Feynman, "The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool." We are none of us infallible and the scientific method is the only tool we have for getting at the truth. Science may approach the truth asymptotically but approaching truth is preferable to latching on to "truths" that are nothing but dreams or wishful thinking. Most people are not stupid or wicked; they just don't realize or won't admit that none of us are as objective as we think we are. Instinct and intuition aren't all they're cracked up to be.

While I do have a tendency to "live & let live" ("let sleeping dogs lie" would be more accurate) I think it is generally detrimental to all of us to not challenge flawed thinking when confronted with it.

Truth does matter.

Daniel Stewart

Oh sorry Maryann. I forgot to specify that I was using the dictionary to define the words I'm using. If you are going to use the same words but make up your own definitions then you should at least fill everyone in. Saying that all atheists are gnostic is just ignorant.

themann1086

Maryann's requirements for "truth" and "knowledge" are so stringent that every mathematical theorem would be deemed a "belief". At that point, the term is so meaningless as to be useless.

Buster

To Blondin and Greta

I know Theunis personally. He is my cousin. He is "weird". I can never argue anything with him he seems to know what I want to say before I say it. If he tells you he has seen prayer healing then he did.
He is not deluded in any sense of the word but he is the most uncomfortable person to have in your presence.

I like to look at Tatarizes Blog (ssnot) and found the following.
QOUTE--
"Francis Bacon said "Read not to contradict and confute,.... but to weigh and consider."
I am taking the liberty to post this to show that here is one that has been confirmed by science it was not brought "under the umbrella by way of science".
************************
"Human Aura:
At the Kirov State University in Alma-Ata biophysicists and biochemists studied the human energy body (Aura) with the aid of an electron microscope. Their conclusion:- "some sort of elementary plasma-like constellation made of ionized particles. It is not a chaotic system, but a whole unified organism in itself".
*****************
Not earth shattering but it does confirm that for some people their vision spans a frequency which is not regarded as "normal". Although to them it is. "
UNQUOTE--
The poster said he found it on the Holistic Healing Forum. So I went there as well and found that scientific proof has been found for - Acupuncture, The human aura and some Yoga "tenements".

It looks like we now have to add Aura, acupuncture and control of the autonomous nervous system as put forward by yogis thousands of years ago, to our scientific pool.

Snoof
I know Theunis personally. He is my cousin.
Oh, hey, my sockpuppet-dar is pinging. Nevertheless, I will assume good faith (see what I did there?) and indulge you.
He is "weird". I can never argue anything with him he seems to know what I want to say before I say it.
So what you're saying he knows you well enough to predict your behaviours? Amazing! He's demonstrated a basic human ability. One that explicitly does not require anything resembling magic, but merely experience and a degree of intelligence.
If he tells you he has seen prayer healing then he did.
And if he tells us that he has seen a fire-breathing dragon fly through the skies? Or if he tells you that there's fifty million dollars in an offshore bank account and he just needs a few hundred thousand dollars so he can make the transfer, and is willing to cut you in for fifty percent? Seriously, this isn't even an argument from authority, it's an argument from some guy.
He is not deluded in any sense of the word but he is the most uncomfortable person to have in your presence.
Yes, I too dislike being around people with poor personal hygiene.

Ok, that was a cheap shot. But seriously, "what someone is like to be around" is in no way a reliable indicator of the validity of their statements, and I'm honestly surprised that anyone would believe this.

"Francis Bacon said "Read not to contradict and confute,.... but to weigh and consider."
Uh... yes. We _have_ weighed and considered what he's said. It's generally useless fluffy nothings, at best.
Some stuff about human energy bodies.
Probably would be more convincing if you actually sourced said quotes. And explained what you meant. What the hell is a "human energy body", and how can an electron microscope be used to look at it? I've used an electron microscope, they're cool tools, but they look at _matter_. Usually solids, too, and certainly not plasmas, which is what a field of ionized matter is.
Not earth shattering but it does confirm that for some people their vision spans a frequency which is not regarded as "normal". Although to them it is.
Uh... no, it doesn't. Even taking your reference as given (which I don't), the quote listen in no way indicates that some people have "special vision". It says that there is some sort of organization in energy bodies, whatever they are.
The poster said he found it on the Holistic Healing Forum. So I went there as well and found that scientific proof has been found for - Acupuncture, The human aura and some Yoga "tenements".
Oh, sure, some guy on the Holistic Healing Forum says it, it must be true. Yeah, I'll go and rewrite the textbooks based on a _quote_ on a _forum_ with no evidence specified at _all_. Sheesh.
It looks like we now have to add Aura, acupuncture and control of the autonomous nervous system as put forward by yogis thousands of years ago, to our scientific pool.
Who says? Seriously. You've provided no evidence of any kind, just a single anonymous quote. I mean, the one you listed doesn't even _mention_ acupuncture.

*deep breath*

Ok, so let me see if I can work this out. You're saying that because mystic powers exist (which you have not, in fact, demonstrated to any useful degree) we should listen to your cousin because he has said mystic powers (which also hasn't been demonstrated to any useful degree) when he tells us to... well, I'm not sure what, exactly. Not argue against theism? Not opposed the activities of religious fundamentalists? Not seek to actually _verify_ the claims people make? Bow down and worship at feet and hope he will dispense morsels of cosmic wisdom?

Yeah, right. Good luck.

[PS: Apologies to everyone else for the tl;dr. I needed the exercise.]

Blondin

Theunis & Buster, I know where you can pick up an easy $1 Million.

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool." -- Richard Feynman

Buster

To SNOOF

AURA: There is a reference to the university where it was investigated. Just run along to them and see for yourself. Some people say they can see the Human Aura, consequently if the Universities scientists confirmed that the aura exists then they are also confirming the claims of the people who say they can see it. Apparently you are scared stiff because this could be the ghost in your machine pulling your strings.

ACUPUNCTURE: There is a reference to Kirlian photography. It appears that you have never heard of this photography. It is not a very recent technology.

YOGA: There is a reference to modern bio-feedback technology which confirms the control of the autonomous system as used by the yogis and taught their students.

So he is possibly a telepath. Something which has already been confirmed scientifically. Investigations indicated it was sporadic but it exists.
Go read some books on the subject in your public library.

These are everyday known facts but your world is blocked by your perception and apparent fear of the unknown. To protect yourself from your inner fears you keep repeating it doesn't exist, it doesn't exist until you believe what you say by your self induced brainwashing.(Also known in your case as auto-suggestion)

You don't have to indulge me with anything your "pup"peteer is really jerking your strings.
I can't find anything about Theunis saying accept theism. He did say they can believe what they want and it is no skin off his nose, and that people are entitled to their own views. Which of course as Greta said are subject to qualification.

There is enough evidence for you to follow up so stop being an armchair specialists. Get of your behind for a change so that you can give
concrete evidence of the University being wrong and that Kirlian photography and bio-feedback systems are myths.
Specific things were mentioned so there is nothing vague about them.

I have seen a Dragon (not your flame breathing kind, and I don't mean a snapdragon flower either).
I give the fishing pole, I don't give the fish. Go look it up. I will not spoon feed you while you make little gurgling noises.

The only unsavoury thing I can perceive on this blog are your thoughts.

Blondin : He said you were rather nice. Shame on you for bursting his bubble. I would rather be fooled than be the fool like you are now exhibiting yourself to be with silly little remarks.

Buster

To Snoof

The dragon thing. It is a living creature, it moves around and eats It is not a sketch, photo, computer generated it is not a puppet on a string. It is not man made.

Blondin
Blondin : He said you were rather nice. Shame on you for bursting his bubble. I would rather be fooled than be the fool like you are now exhibiting yourself to be with silly little remarks.

Perhaps he isn't the savant you and he think his is. FWIW: he got my sex wrong, too.

Explain to me why he wouldn't use his powers for good by claiming Randi's million and using it for some worthwhile project?

Blondin

And another thing...

I would rather be fooled than be the fool like you are now exhibiting yourself to be with silly little remarks.

So you are not concerned with truth? Bullshit is okay as long as it's soothing bullshit?

Christian notions about morality of condoms & abortion, murder of abortion doctors, suppression of civil rights for gays, modern day witch hunts, teaching superstition in public schools, religious oppression/subjugation of women, fatwas for blasphemy, psychic fraudsters bilking people of their life-savings...

Those things don't affect you so you're fine with all that? Nobody's demanding that you march or picket or do anything but I have to wonder why you have such a problem with those of us who do care simply asking to see real evidence.

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