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Postby DarthMonk » Sun Jul 28, 2013 7:32 pm

Trey:

I found our "discussion" interesting and, on a whim, googled this phrase: "degrees of atheism." This is from the 1st hit:

Atheism, Theism, and Agnosticism

Dawkins' Formulation

Richard Dawkins

Dawkins posits that "the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other." He goes on to propose a continuous "spectrum of probabilities" between two extremes of opposite certainty, which can be represented by seven "milestones". Dawkins suggests definitive statements to summarize one's place along the spectrum of theistic probability. These "milestones" are:

1 Strong theist. 100 per cent probability of God. In the words of C.G. Jung: "I do not believe, I know."

2 De facto theist. Very high probability but short of 100 per cent. "I don't know for certain, but I strongly believe in God and live my life on the assumption that he is there."

3 Leaning towards theism. Higher than 50 per cent but not very high. "I am very uncertain, but I am inclined to believe in God."

4 Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. "God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable."

5 Leaning towards atheism. Lower than 50 per cent but not very low. "I do not know whether God exists but I'm inclined to be skeptical."

6 De facto atheist. Very low probability, but short of zero. "I don't know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there."

7 Strong atheist. "I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung knows there is one."

Dawkins argues that while there appear to be plenty of individuals that would place themselves as "1" due to the strictness of religious doctrine against doubt, most atheists do not consider themselves "7" because atheism arises from a lack of evidence and evidence can always change a thinking person's mind. In print, Dawkins self-identified as a '6', though when interviewed by Bill Maher and later by Anthony Kenny, he suggested '6.9' to be more accurate.


So Dawkins, probably the world's best known atheist, by his own formulation, considers himself (in print) an agnostic/defacto atheist = Very low probability, but short of zero. "I don't know for certain but I think God is very improbable, and I live my life on the assumption that he is not there."

I am currently in the Completely impartial. Exactly 50 per cent. "God's existence and non-existence are exactly equiprobable." camp.

I'm gonna take a guess on Cappster and put him at around 5.5.

The next hit led to this:

There are no weak or strong atheists. There are only atheists. If you are not an atheist you are a theist or an agnostic. These are the only three possibilities. All three positions are mutually exclusive. Anyone between 1 an 7 on Dawkins scale is an agnostic. Including Richard Dawkins who puts himself at 6.9 on his own scale. You know there is a god (1), you know there isn’t a god (7) or you don’t know (everything in between). If you know there is a god you are theist, if you know there isn’t a god you are an atheist and if you don’t know, don’t care you are an agnostic. It doesn’t matter how much you don’t know, you still don’t know.

This seems to be your position. I could be wrong.

The first reply included this:

I disagree.. but mainly on a level of definition. There are many definitions of ‘atheist’ and yours is clearly of the “I know for a fact that there is no god” .. but I define atheist in the classical sense of “I do not have a belief in a god” .. just as “asymmetrical” means a lack of symmetry, “atheist” means a lack of theism. The idea of the scale was more to show how many in the atheist community are willing to sit within the spectrum of knowledge vs. how many believers will jump to #1 and discount the possibility that they’re wrong. Most Christians will go straight to #1 (I know there is a god).. whereas, most non-believers have the sense to admit that there are levels of possibility and belief and that they may fit more in a #4 – #6 or #7. Dawkins says in The God Delusion, that very few atheists will actually identify as #7′s in stark contrast to the number of Christians that will immediately identify as #1′s. It’s a consciousness raising exercise.

This is my view.
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Postby Countertrey » Sun Jul 28, 2013 9:33 pm

You are correct... that is my position.
I also have great confidence in the "truth" of Occam's Razor...
"among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. In other words, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one."

Does God exist?
"Yes- Theist
Maybe- Agnostic
No- Atheist"

Choose one.
... sounds good to me! :wink:
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Postby SkinsJock » Mon Jul 29, 2013 9:07 am

Countertrey wrote:You are correct... that is my position.
I also have great confidence in the "truth" of Occam's Razor...
"among competing hypotheses, the hypothesis with the fewest assumptions should be selected. In other words, the simplest explanation is usually the correct one."

Does God exist?
"Yes - Theist
Maybe - Agnostic
No - Atheist"

Choose one ... sounds good to me! :wink:


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Postby Deadskins » Mon Jul 29, 2013 10:02 am

I think SJ just called you simple, CT. You gonna take that?
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Postby DarthMonk » Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:27 pm

Just as simple or perhaps simpler: Atheist = Not a theist.

I also go with the razor. But you don't simply go with the simpler hypothesis. The two competing hypotheses must do an equally good job of explaining things before the razor can be applied in any meaningful way. A simple hypothesis that does a poor job of explaining is worthless. I'm not saying that necessarily pertains to our current discussion but we must keep that in mind when applying the razor.

I certainly wouldn't call our differing definitions of atheism competing hypotheses. I think the competing hypotheses here are God exists and God does not exist.
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Postby Deadskins » Mon Jul 29, 2013 12:30 pm

God existing is surely the simpler explanation. Just sayin'. 8)
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Postby Cappster » Mon Jul 29, 2013 2:29 pm

I am definitely on the scale between 5 and 6. Anyone who is on scale #7 (or #1 for that matter) is not being intellectual honest with themselves. I don't religious beliefs would matter so much to of us who doubt that god exists if it weren't for religious beliefs affecting our lives and our society in a negative manner. The gypsy dancing on the corner is a relatively harmless person. The President of The United States of America having conversations with this questionable god being is rather alarming. And more so alarming when combined with congressmen who use religious beliefs to justify certain discriminatory legislation that is proposed.
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Postby HEROHAMO » Tue Jul 30, 2013 6:09 am

Cappster wrote:
HEROHAMO wrote:
I have a question for you. Can you tell me with logic and reasoning. Heck throw in science as well.

How did the first human beings come to be? Why is the human being so complex and possess such things as feelings and common sense?


Lets say you have two alien scientists from another planet visit earth before humans existed. Lets say they wanted to create a living breathing human? How would they go about doing it? With all the materials living oragnisms on the earth that existed during the pre human times?


We come from a long evolutionary line of species that adapted to their environment through natural selection. If you do your research on Evolution and become somewhat scientifically literate on the subject, you may find that all of the pieces of the puzzle fit together. If we were created, what is the point of our appendix? It serves relatively no function, but to act as an organ that might one day kill us. Is it more plausible that we evolved from a very long and slow process or is it more plausible that a god created us for the purpose of making us love it?

The whole premise of the Atheist/Agnostic argument is that we want evidence of such a deity existing. Just because something cannot fully be explained yet doesn't mean that god did it. Science is seemingly peeling back everything that was previously unknown or unexplainable. Those who believe in god do so based on faith or personal feelings without having a shred of evidence to back up their claims.

Also, if we use the Abrahamic god, Yahweh, as an example of creation, how does the human race live on past Adam and Eve if they only had sons?


I asked you to explain with common sense how the first living human came to be? That means the very first human being. Whether that be a cave man or monkey whatever.

You say we evolved from something? A monkey, caveman whatever.

I guess the better question is how did the very first living organism come to be. Before intelligent life? How did the Water in the ocean come to be? How did the Stars in the Universe come to be?

We can all agree that there was a beginning to it all. The question is what, when, how and why?

Take it back all the way before life. The questions remains how did it come to be?

Science cannot explain it sorry. While I do believe a greater being created the Universe and all living things on earth. I am not trying to convince anyone.

I am simply pointing out the holes that are in the scientific theories suggesting that intelligent life evolved from some amoeba in the ocean combining with the sands of the earth.
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Postby Cappster » Tue Jul 30, 2013 7:41 am

HEROHAMO wrote:
I asked you to explain with common sense how the first living human came to be? That means the very first human being. Whether that be a cave man or monkey whatever.

You say we evolved from something? A monkey, caveman whatever.

I guess the better question is how did the very first living organism come to be. Before intelligent life? How did the Water in the ocean come to be? How did the Stars in the Universe come to be?

We can all agree that there was a beginning to it all. The question is what, when, how and why?

Take it back all the way before life. The questions remains how did it come to be?

Science cannot explain it sorry. While I do believe a greater being created the Universe and all living things on earth. I am not trying to convince anyone.

I am simply pointing out the holes that are in the scientific theories suggesting that intelligent life evolved from some amoeba in the ocean combining with the sands of the earth.


I am not sure what you mean by common sense, but I stated that we come from a long evolutionary line of species. You can look up the Theory of Evolution yourself, but it seems that you already have your mind made up that "god did it." Where is the evidence for god if science so profoundly fails at its attempt to explain where we come from? Where are the holes that scientific theories have in explaining the origins of life on Earth?

Science is not perfect, but it is the best we have at trying to understand our origins. Unsubstantiated fairy tales about god speaking plants and animals into existence (then creating the light that will sustain them an unknown time afterwards) has zero evidence to support the claim of creation. If you want to see evolution in action, look at the yearly influenza virus and how it evolves from year to year.

For me and many others like me, I am not satisfied in attributing our existence on the notion of believing in bad evidence. Faith = personal feelings absent of evidence which is exactly what people do when the invoke terms god and creation.

Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist, provides a rather simple and amusing synopsis on "intelligent" design

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEl9kVl6KPc
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Postby langleyparkjoe » Tue Jul 30, 2013 8:19 am

I understand what Cappo and Hero are both saying here but just looking at the human anatomy and our insides and how things are done like urinating and pooping.. I find it hard to believe that it "just happened" and here we are. LOL.

There had to be a first, I mean you can't go past number one to get to the other numbers.. by that reasoning alone I believe in God. Am I right, hell if I know but TO ME it makes more sense to believe in that instead of we just popped up out of the blue. lol.
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Postby DarthMonk » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:18 am

HEROHAMO wrote:We can all agree that there was a beginning to it all.


Not so sure that's true - that we can all agree to this.

Most 5 year olds (or thereabouts) ask themselves "Who made God?"

Most people never get an answer - IMO.

My brother, a religion teacher at a Jesuit school with a masters in Systematic Theology, often cites that most all explanations, theistic or otherwise, point to something eternal.

I think I'll check this thread, if it remains active, once a week.
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Postby Deadskins » Tue Jul 30, 2013 9:46 am

Some folks understand that evolution is not an idea that is mutually exclusive with the existence of God. Others? Not so much. :roll:
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Postby Cappster » Tue Jul 30, 2013 12:58 pm

langleyparkjoe wrote:I understand what Cappo and Hero are both saying here but just looking at the human anatomy and our insides and how things are done like urinating and pooping.. I find it hard to believe that it "just happened" and here we are. LOL.

There had to be a first, I mean you can't go past number one to get to the other numbers.. by that reasoning alone I believe in God. Am I right, hell if I know but TO ME it makes more sense to believe in that instead of we just popped up out of the blue. lol.


Don't think of it as one day we are just *poof* here in our current form. Think of it as a VERY long evolutionary process. The Earth is roughly 4.5 billion years old and homo sapiens have been around for roughly 200,000 years or so. That is a lot of time for evolution to our current humanly form. If the Earth was created, said god failed miserable in putting us on a planet, that it created, that has volcanoes, earthquakes, disease, undrinkable ocean water, uninhabitable land, and having to live with an asteroid large enough to wipe out its creation every so often. Not to mention, god itself which is an all powerful deity, who allows all of these things to happen. God either exists and is not all powerful, is all powerful and stand on the sideline while his creation suffers unbearable suffering, or doesn't exist.
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Postby welch » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:43 pm

A bit from William James, concludsing his essay "The Will to Believe":

When I look at the religious question as it really puts itself to concrete men, and when I think of all the possibilities which both practically and theoretically it involves, then this command that we shall put a stopper on our heart, instincts, and courage, and wait-acting of course meanwhile more or less as if religion were not true Since belief is measured by action, he who forbids us to believe religion to be true, necessarily also forbids us to act as we should if we did believe it to be true. The whole defence of religious faith hinges upon action. If the action required or inspired by the religious hypothesis is in no way different from that dictated by the naturalistic hypothesis, then religious faith is a pure superfluity, better pruned away, and controversy about its legitimacy is a piece of idle trifling, unworthy of serious minds. I myself believe, of course, that the religious hypothesis gives to the world an expression which specifically determines our reactions, and makes them in a large part unlike what they might be on a purely naturalistic scheme of belief.] till doomsday, or till such time as our intellect and senses working together may have raked in evidence enough, --this command, I say, seems to me the queerest idol ever manufactured in the philosophic cave. Were we scholastic absolutists, there might be more excuse. If we had an infallible intellect with its objective certitudes, we might feel ourselves disloyal to such a perfect organ of knowledge in not trusting to it exclusively, in not waiting for its releasing word. But if we are empiricists [pragmatists], if we believe that no bell in us tolls to let us know for certain when truth is in our grasp, then it seems a piece of idle fantasticality to preach so solemnly our duty of waiting for the bell. Indeed we may wait if we will, --I hope you do not think that I am denying that, --but if we do so, we do so at our peril as much as if we believed. In either case we act, taking our life in our hands. No one of us ought to issue vetoes to the other, nor should we bandy words of abuse. We ought, on the contrary, delicately and profoundly to respect one another's mental freedom: then only shall we bring about the intellectual republic; then only shall we have that spirit of inner tolerance without which all our outer tolerance is soulless, and which is empiricism's glory; then only shall we live and let live, in speculative as well as in practical things.


The whole lecture, which is well worth reading and thinking-through, is at http://educ.jmu.edu/~omearawm/ph101willtobelieve.html

James had been arguing against late-19th century thinkers who said, roughly, it is evil to believe in anything we cannot prove.

I think James is saying something like: I choose to believe, choose of mty own free will, and by making that choice I open myself and the world to better actions than if I either choose not to believe or beliebve I have no choice but to out-right disbelieve.

(I suspect that if someone asked James, "Well, who made God?" then James would shrug and say, "I don't know...and there are some things that humans will never know...and why does it matter?")

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Postby Deadskins » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:05 pm

Cappster wrote:God either exists and is not all powerful, is all powerful and stand on the sideline while his creation suffers unbearable suffering, or doesn't exist.

So, those are the only choices? :hmm: I think I see the problem. :roll:
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