Camels With Hammers
Philosophy, Ethics, Atheism, Nietzsche
That video is a bit misinformed. It’s going off of the old view of Christian theism.
THE NEW, NEW THEISM.
The theism of the New, New Theism is not a belief, but a lack of belief–a lack of belief in a world with no God–a lack of belief in the nonexistence of God–because, there is just no evidence for the belief that there is no God. All the evidence (who? we dunno who…it couldn’t be atheists, because they don’t believe anything…) use to support the nonexistence of God is in fact irrational gibberish invented by spin doctors and regurgitated by the unthinking masses. Their strongest evidence–the argument from evil–contradicts itself when you consider that if there is not always a real good (God) to which moral truth always corresponds, then there is no real evil (and thus no real argument from evil). And it is answered by the reality that if God, like an evil dictator, did not allow us to choose evil, the choice of Golden Rule love-despite-circumstances would be impossible–and he promises a happy ending for all those who choose it (or, at least, do not reject it). Therefore, going with our intuition that there is a real good, we favor a theistic conclusion (there is no faith involved in this, but somehow, we are not quite certain, either), but really we just lack belief in the nonexistence of God. We don’t really believe anything.
Previously posted on the Rational Skepticism forum.
“When you consider that if there is not always a real good (God) to which moral truth always corresponds, then there is no real evil (and thus no real argument from evil)”
Uh, not quite. Where are you getting this from??
Also, I lack lots of beliefs regarding ways the world possibly could be – that certainly doesn’t correspond to a positive belief in the world being the negation of that way.
Malcolm, evil is the privation of good. If there is no real good, there can be no real privation of good. What do you mean where am I getting it from? Do you have a logical argument to counter it?
Granted, a lack of belief is not a positive belief. But, to claim the title “atheist” is to claim to positively believe that there is no god. If you simply lack the belief and have not concluded either way, the correct title to claim is agnostic–or no title at all. All else is equivocation.
No, not all else is equivocation. There is a distinction between an agnostic atheist and a gnostic atheist. You can be either, just as you can be either an agnostic theist or a gnostic theist. What you’re calling for with this false dichotomy is the equivocation and confusion. Here’s how to avoid collapsing distinct positions into only 2 narrow options as you’re trying to force the atheist to do: http://freethoughtblogs.com/camelswithhammers/2010/06/07/disambiguating-faith-how-alack-of-belief-in-god-vs-belief-god-does-not-exist/
I agree w/ Dawkins’ belief scale: http://christophersisk.com/dawkins-belief-scale-images
Everything above and below “pure agnostic” is positive belief one way or the other, to varying degrees…
I disagree with the scale. If you can show me the flaws in my extensively made distinctions, that’s fine, but lest you can do that, I feel quite free to ignore your insistence I label myself according to boxes which are inherently misleading and represent false choices.
Gnosis is to knowledge as “x” is to belief. We need a better word for agnostic that uses “x” as its root.
Regarding my previous comment about needing a better word than “agnostic”–I guess the word for belief is the same as the word for faith…pistis. I googled a bit and I guess folks actually do use to word “apistic” already (and not just to refer to a pregnancy test) (har). Atheists (of the sort usually called gnostic atheists) are pistic about atheism. I think it makes more sense to use the word pistic instead of gnostic, when talking about “gnostic” atheists/theists, because they can’t both “know”–they can’t both be “right”–and we’re really just talking about what they believe, not what they know.
I did have a chance to skim your article, Dan, and it is very good, thankyou. I concede and I see what you are saying about an agnostic atheist who does not positively believe there are no gods, but also does not positively believe there are gods (due to considering the evidence insufficient, but not certainly insufficient) and so, lacking belief, is an atheist. And I am glad you encourage against the sort of agnostic atheism which is a positive belief based on insufficient reasons, like the agnostic theist. You are the only person I’ve read who has been able to make actual sense of this. I will read your article further as time allows.
My only problem with the pure agnostic (which you would consider an agnostic atheist) is that if the pure agnostic atheist is still holding out for sufficient evidence, they have a god concept unworthy of the title. Love is not love w/o demonstration, as Shane rightly brings up on your Facebook wall. If there is a god, it is love, and there is evidence of that love by now, or there is no god. I don’t really think there ‘should’ be pure agnostic atheists, because the only way there can be is if they lower their standards for what it means to be God. If they find insufficient the evidence for a demonstration of love, they shouldn’t be agnostic, they should be gnostic (well…pistic–really, they should take another look).
James, I’ll come back, must get to sleep.
The argument from evil is not really about evil. In fact, the creator of the argument (Epicurus) didn’t even understand the word “evil” as we do now. See Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morality. The point of the argument from evil is merely that a good God could and should help people if she exists, and we have no reason to think God is helping us much at all, so we have some reason to think a good God exists.
Also, the incoherence of certain theist assumptions (such as the assumption that evil exists, that God is good, and that she help enough) in no way requires an atheist to accept that evil really exists.
I do believe in morality, but morality doesn’t require a belief in God. It is logically possible that atheism and moral realism are both true positions. Moral realism and intrinsic value has just as little to do with God as scientific laws or principles. Perhaps there is some relation, but it’s not one an ethicist or scientist would usually have to worry about.
My only problem with the pure agnostic (which you would consider an agnostic atheist) is that if the pure agnostic atheist is still holding out for sufficient evidence, they have a god concept unworthy of the title. Love is not love w/o demonstration, as Shane rightly brings up on your Facebook wall. If there is a god, it is love, and there is evidence of that love by now, or there is no god. I don’t really think there ‘should’ be pure agnostic atheists, because the only way there can be is if they lower their standards for what it means to be God. If they find insufficient the evidence for a demonstration of love, they shouldn’t be agnostic, they should be gnostic (well…pistic–really, they should take another look)
There are many candidate god postulates, this is only one of them you describe. The agnostic atheist may be an agnostic atheist about any of a number of different possible candidates while a gnostic atheist about others.
I must take back my earlier agreement w/ you Dan that agnostics default to atheism, and that there can be agnostic atheists. My Facebook belief scale poll shows atheism to be a belief (click on my name), whereas agnosticism (apisticism) is the appropriate name for a lack of belief. I contacted James Gray outside this blog.
Follow Patheos on
Copyright 2008-2014, Patheos. All rights reserved.