Author Topic: Is atheism the default position?  (Read 24162 times)

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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #29 on: August 01, 2011, 06:05:49 PM »
I think I should concede the point that the default is not truly "atheism", but rather it is simply a lack of belief in a deity, or in anything, really - and it certainly is not a conscious lack of belief.
The point is that neither atheism nor 'theism' (whichever variety you want to point to, thus the quotes) is this default state.  Credulousness is - the willingness to believe something with scant or lacking evidence.  I mean, whether it's imaginary friends or monsters in the closet, children are quite capable of making up completely imaginary things that nobody else can see.  What's the difference between that and imagined supernatural entities?  Mainly the ability to get others to believe in them.

Credulousness is indeed a default state.  So is being a carbon-based life-form.  This discussion is about whether atheism or theism is the default state.

And there is no option that is not either theism or atheism.

There is the possibility in all things that
(i) The concept is accepted
(ii) The concept is denied
(iii) The concept is non-existent

The concept of a god is alien to a neonate. A neonate is in state (iii) about everything but hurries to make sense of the world into which it has arrived. A brain that will not stop thinking is its only tool.

Some are content with the world as it is without explanation, others require varying levels of explanation, and the remaining few know that the final explanation will probably never be reached.

Deities are the province of those who stop thinking sooner rather than later. We are all guilty of stopping thinking to some extent.

Azdgari says, "Credulousness is indeed a default state." I would say, Credulousness is indeed a the state and this is not atheism."
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #30 on: August 01, 2011, 06:15:43 PM »
Azdgari:  I don't agree with your statement that there are no alternatives to theism or atheism.  Theism is an active belief in a deity or deities, and atheism is an active disbelief in deities, but neither properly explain non-belief (that is, a lack of belief as opposed to disbelief).
Exactly,
Just like my neighbor Sam.
He is non-believer.
You seem to be confusing various terms, John, what would you call a person brought up in a society without gods and without the knowledge of gods?

It is likely that you have never seen a representation of the molecular structure of Methyldicyclopentadienyl 2-manganese tricarbonyl. How would you describe yourself with respect to your belief in this apparent chemical. Are you a believer, a non-believer or are you simply void of the concept?
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline jetson

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #31 on: August 01, 2011, 07:28:45 PM »
...of the molecular structure of Methyldicyclopentadienyl 2-manganese tricarbonyl. How would you describe yourself with respect to your belief in this apparent chemical. Are you a believer, a non-believer or are you simply void of the concept?

Good one Graybeard!  Cuz' no one really knows what's in coffee!   ;D

Offline jetson

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #32 on: August 01, 2011, 07:34:47 PM »
Well that may or may not be the default position for everybody.

http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2011/05/12/religious-belief-is-human-nature-huge-new-study-claims/

Meh, that wasn't a particularly well written article.  I'm not convinced of it's arguments.

Perhaps it is biased in choosing the words "religion" and "gods" in connection with some "basic human need".  I think we are just too stupid as a species to escape irrational thinking.  Maybe stupid isn't the right word, but we're certainly not advanced enough in the brain to escape the trappings of delusional and or irrational thinking.  I think we all suffer from it in various ways.  Being an atheist is only one area where it is fairly easy for many of us to abandon the delusional thinking and beliefs.


Offline mram

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #33 on: August 01, 2011, 08:06:51 PM »
The default position for new born humans is eat, shit and cuddle mommy.. That's about it and since atheism and theism don't fit any of the above eat shit and cuddle mommy are the default til taught otherwise or we make up the boogieman under out beds or whatever..Speaking of which..boogieman..god.. Hmmmmmm.. Credulousness seems to win out over the boogieman every time, but hey.. I never believed in the boogieman til my ugly sisters introduced me to him locking me in the closet for shits n giggles.. And who says little girls aren't born of Satan?  >:(
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #34 on: August 01, 2011, 09:02:17 PM »
Azdgari:  I don't agree with your statement that there are no alternatives to theism or atheism.  Theism is an active belief in a deity or deities, and atheism is an active disbelief in deities, but neither properly explain non-belief (that is, a lack of belief as opposed to disbelief).

The bolded is not always how atheism is defined, and is certainly now how this self-described atheist defines the word.

Atheism is a lack of belief in deities.  It is without theism: a-theism.  This lack of theism can exist for many reasons, but the common thread is a lack of belief in deities.

Do you have a better term to use for the negation of theism?
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #35 on: August 01, 2011, 09:05:25 PM »
There is the possibility in all things that
(i) The concept is accepted
(ii) The concept is denied
(iii) The concept is non-existent

The concept of a god is alien to a neonate. A neonate is in state (iii) about everything but hurries to make sense of the world into which it has arrived. A brain that will not stop thinking is its only tool.

State (iii) is no less the negation of state (i) than state (ii) is.  Since we have a term whose meaning is "the negation of (i)", what other possibility is there other than "(i)" and "the negation of (i)"?

Azdgari says, "Credulousness is indeed a default state." I would say, Credulousness is indeed a the state and this is not atheism."

If it is not atheism, then which god-belief does it represent, GB?
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #36 on: August 02, 2011, 12:03:05 AM »
Azdgari:  I don't agree with your statement that there are no alternatives to theism or atheism.  Theism is an active belief in a deity or deities, and atheism is an active disbelief in deities, but neither properly explain non-belief (that is, a lack of belief as opposed to disbelief).

The bolded is not always how atheism is defined, and is certainly now how this self-described atheist defines the word.

Atheism is a lack of belief in deities.  It is without theism: a-theism.  This lack of theism can exist for many reasons, but the common thread is a lack of belief in deities.

Do you have a better term to use for the negation of theism?
How you, or other atheists, or even theists, define the word atheism, is not really at issue here.  We're talking about children too young to even understand the subject.  To say that newborn children are atheistic makes as much sense as saying that an animal is atheistic, which is to say it makes no sense at all.  Whether one refers to theism or atheism, both suggest an actual choice that someone made.  An entity (a newborn or very young child, for example) incapable of making that choice cannot properly be described in a way that suggests they have.

Bearing in mind that atheism is the negation of theism, as you said, how can someone incapable of understanding what a deity is agree or disagree with the concept?

Offline Rare96ws6

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #37 on: August 02, 2011, 12:43:33 AM »
Jetson:  Just curious, but why do you think that atheism is the default position for humans?  I mean, assuming for the sake of argument that all varieties of theism are essentially "made up", for whatever reason, the implication is that theistic beliefs came about because of imagination, and practically every human ever born has an enormous capacity for imagination.  Couple that with charisma, the ability to convince not through reason but through force of personality, and it's easy to see how theistic beliefs could have come about without actual gods and spirits to inspire them.  However, that suggests that theism may be the default position for humans, albeit not any specific kind of theism (which does not necessarily mean anything; the default position for a car is in park, yet cars are not very useful if they aren't in motion).

Consular:  What makes you think that polytheism posits any infinite gods?  Even the all-father figure, whether Odin or Zeus/Jupiter or some other, cannot truly be described as infinite.

 Islam is the default human possition. The Koran tells us this. Duh! ;)
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Offline mram

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #38 on: August 02, 2011, 02:23:42 AM »
Azdgari:  I don't agree with your statement that there are no alternatives to theism or atheism.  Theism is an active belief in a deity or deities, and atheism is an active disbelief in deities, but neither properly explain non-belief (that is, a lack of belief as opposed to disbelief).

The bolded is not always how atheism is defined, and is certainly now how this self-described atheist defines the word.

Atheism is a lack of belief in deities.  It is without theism: a-theism.  This lack of theism can exist for many reasons, but the common thread is a lack of belief in deities.

Do you have a better term to use for the negation of theism?
How you, or other atheists, or even theists, define the word atheism, is not really at issue here.  We're talking about children too young to even understand the subject.  To say that newborn children are atheistic makes as much sense as saying that an animal is atheistic, which is to say it makes no sense at all.  Whether one refers to theism or atheism, both suggest an actual choice that someone made.  An entity (a newborn or very young child, for example) incapable of making that choice cannot properly be described in a way that suggests they have.

Bearing in mind that atheism is the negation of theism, as you said, how can someone incapable of understanding what a deity is agree or disagree with the concept?
Exactly Jaim.. Let these fools play their textual mathematical games of if a baby in LA runs in a straight line at 600 miles an hour and another baby in NY runs 601 miles per hour in the opposite direction which one crashes into the atheist first and which one crashes into the theist first?
Babies DON'T know the difference.. THEY WANT THEIR BOTTLE AND THEIR DIAPER CHANGED! Jeeeeez Louise!  &)
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 02:28:24 AM by mram »
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #39 on: August 02, 2011, 06:08:15 AM »
jaimehlers puts the idea very well in his post above. The neonate has nothing to deny. In order to be an atheist, you have to have the concept of deities.

Are amoeba atheists? Or are they simply devoid of the concepts of gods, theism and atheism

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If it is not atheism, then which god-belief does it represent, GB?
Love him or loathe him, I think you have to go with Rumsfeld http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/There_are_known_knowns. The relationship between a neonate and the concept of gods is an unknown unknown.
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #40 on: August 02, 2011, 06:09:34 AM »
How you, or other atheists, or even theists, define the word atheism, is not really at issue here.  We're talking about children too young to even understand the subject.  To say that newborn children are atheistic makes as much sense as saying that an animal is atheistic, which is to say it makes no sense at all.

It makes perfect sense.  It just happens to be trivial.

Whether one refers to theism or atheism, both suggest an actual choice that someone made.

When do children make that choice?  I would put it to you that a choice is rarely made.  Characterizing atheism as a deliberate choice, perhaps one that deserves negative consequences, is a tool frequently used by the religious to promote bigotry.  I know that's not how you are intending to use it, but you are accepting the language of those who do.

An entity (a newborn or very young child, for example) incapable of making that choice cannot properly be described in a way that suggests they have.

See both of the above.

Bearing in mind that atheism is the negation of theism, as you said, how can someone incapable of understanding what a deity is agree or disagree with the concept?

Disagreement is irrelevant.  Theism is agreement.  Atheism is the lack of agreement.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #41 on: August 02, 2011, 06:13:13 AM »
jaimehlers puts the idea very well in his post above. The neonate has nothing to deny. In order to be an atheist, you have to have the concept of deities.

I guess it's better to define atheism as some sort of religious club, eh GB?  I mean, words can be defined in any manner one likes, but I see little use in defining atheism in the way you and jaimehlers do.

Are amoeba atheists? Or are they simply devoid of the concepts of gods, theism and atheism

To which mind do you refer when you ask if an amoeba is an atheist?

If it has a mind, then sure, the mind is atheistic.  It lacks god-beliefs.  I suspect it does not, in which case there is no meaningful object to which your question refers.  It parses as "do the minds of amoebas not hold beliefs in deities" which is meaningless since the object of the question - the minds of amoebas - do not exist.
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Offline Graybeard

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #42 on: August 02, 2011, 06:50:15 AM »
How you, or other atheists, or even theists, define the word atheism, is not really at issue here.  We're talking about children too young to even understand the subject.  To say that newborn children are atheistic makes as much sense as saying that an animal is atheistic, which is to say it makes no sense at all.

It makes perfect sense.  It just happens to be trivial.
On the contrary, jaimehlers is making a very valid point. A point upon which the question of atheism in babies hangs. As I have asked a similar question, I will address it below.

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When do children make that choice?  I would put it to you that a choice is rarely made.  Characterizing atheism as a deliberate choice, perhaps one that deserves negative consequences, is a tool frequently used by the religious to promote bigotry.  I know that's not how you are intending to use it, but you are accepting the language of those who do.
I am sure that byre-reading your paragraph, you will see that the fault is that you are attacking the method of argument rather than the argument itself. Many arguments  are used by lunatics and unpleasant people as tools to advance their agenda. However, that does not make the style of argument wrong in itself.

FYI, a choice is made when there is an alternative to a proposition. Here the choice only arises when a concept of gods arises. Prior to that point, the neonate is neutral by virtue of ignorance and it cannot be described as either atheist or theist.

Bearing in mind that atheism is the negation of theism, as you said, how can someone incapable of understanding what a deity is agree or disagree with the concept?

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Disagreement is irrelevant.  Theism is agreement.  Atheism is the lack of agreement.
Can you tell me the difference between ‘Disagreement’ and ‘lack of agreement’? If you can, I think you can understand the lack of concept of gods.


jaimehlers puts the idea very well in his post above. The neonate has nothing to deny. In order to be an atheist, you have to have the concept of deities.

I guess it's better to define atheism as some sort of religious club, eh GB?  I mean, words can be defined in any manner one likes, but I see little use in defining atheism in the way you and jaimehlers do.
I think it would be most unhelpful if words could be defined in ‘any manner one likes’. It is much more useful to consult a dictionary and see what others believe the word to mean.

From Dictionary.com: atheist
Noun: a person who denies or disbelieves the existence of a supreme being or beings.

Alice Through The Looking Glass: "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."


Let us go for the dictionary definition.

May I suggest that denying and disbelieving both require an initial concept that can be denied or disbelieved? Absent that condition, and in this case, atheism cannot arise.

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Are amoeba atheists? Or are they simply devoid of the concepts of gods, theism and atheism

To which mind do you refer when you ask if an amoeba is an atheist?
Precisely. And to which mind do you refer when asserting that neonates are atheists?

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If it has a mind, then sure, the mind is atheistic.  It lacks god-beliefs.
See the definition above.  How can it deny or disbelieve in gods, when it does not know what a god is?

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I suspect it does not, in which case there is no meaningful object to which your question refers.  It parses as "do the minds of amoebas not hold beliefs in deities" which is meaningless since the object of the question - the minds of amoebas - do not exist.
No. The parsing is in the positive. “Does an amoeba have a concept of gods, such that it could deny or disbelieve in them? If so, it may be atheist, if not, its position is neutral.”

The nonexistence of the mind of an amoeba precludes it from having a concept of any sort. The absence of the idea of gods in the mind of a neonate equally precludes it from having a concept of any sort. Absent that concept, I think jaimehlers and I wonder how it is possible to disbelieve or deny the concept (that does not exist.)
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #43 on: August 02, 2011, 07:29:06 AM »
I understand your points, Graybeard.  This is not a new topic to me.  Though I do feel this needs to be addressed before moving forward:

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I am sure that byre-reading your paragraph, you will see that the fault is that you are attacking the method of argument rather than the argument itself. Many arguments  are used by lunatics and unpleasant people as tools to advance their agenda. However, that does not make the style of argument wrong in itself.

When the outcome of an argument rests on whether we should decide to define a term in X or Y manner, and whether we should characterize that definition in A or B ways, the consequences of that definition and characterization are very pertinent to the argument.

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I think it would be most unhelpful if words could be defined in ‘any manner one likes’.

This is disingenuous.  It should be clear in context that I was acknowledging the subjectivity of word-definitions.  If you disagree, then please cite the objective standard that languages follow in determining what their words should mean.  It cannot be a human-created standard.

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It is much more useful to consult a dictionary and see what others believe the word to mean.

Which others?  Why is the definition you cite better than something to the effect of "a non-belief in deities"?

I've seen some atheists define the word as (to paraphrase) "a reasoned rejection of all supernatural claims".  How do you feel about that definition?

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May I suggest that denying and disbelieving both require an initial concept that can be denied or disbelieved? Absent that condition, and in this case, atheism cannot arise.

I agree with your first sentence.  The second is only applicable if you use the restricted, burdened definition of "atheism".

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Can you tell me the difference between ‘Disagreement’ and ‘lack of agreement’? If you can, I think you can understand the lack of concept of gods.

Yes, disagreement and lack of agreement are different.  The former is a subset of the latter.  Neither are agreement.  Lacking the concept of a thing automatically entails a lack of agreement that the thing exists.  The cause of that lack of agreement differs, but so what?

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Precisely. And to which mind do you refer when asserting that neonates are atheists?

To their developing minds.  Or do you contend that infants are literally mindless?

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See the definition above.  How can it deny or disbelieve in gods, when it does not know what a god is?

As your preferred definition of "atheism" does not even arise etymologically from the make-up of the word, and since it is a definition that is more useful to bigots, I reject its usage in the first place.  Since I had made it clear that I reject that usage, arguments to me (such as those you've made) that first depend on its acceptance are useless.

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No. The parsing is in the positive. “Does an amoeba have a concept of gods, such that it could deny or disbelieve in them? If so, it may be atheist, if not, its position is neutral.”

Obviously it parses differently if one uses the more religious definition of "atheist".

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The nonexistence of the mind of an amoeba precludes it from having a concept of any sort. The absence of the idea of gods in the mind of a neonate equally precludes it from having a concept of any sort. Absent that concept, I think jaimehlers and I wonder how it is possible to disbelieve or deny the concept (that does not exist.)

See above.  Your argument is based on a premise we do not share.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #44 on: August 02, 2011, 07:42:28 AM »
Maybe I'm looking at this too simply......

I can agree with Greybeard that before one can be a theist or an a-theist, one must first understand the concept to be able to choose (or, perhaps, to be programmed one way or the other - which one it is is irrelevant to the point I'm making).  So perhaps we would more preoperly describe newborns as un-theist?  Or Blanks, perhaps - so we have Supers, Brights, and Blanks?

But - and I think it is crucial to the question about the default state - while "Blank" may indeed be the default state for everyone on everything, surely "no belief" is a far closer state to "Blank" than "belief" would be, and so it would be more correct to decsribe the natural state as a-theist (and a-unicornist, a-Australiaist, and a-communismist)?

Point being, by definition you CANNOT be a believer in something while still a Blank to that something - but I would suggest that while a Blank to something, you could quite correctly be described as having no belief in that something.

Hence, our natural state is far more accurately described as being a-theist that theist - and indeed "a-anythingist" that "anythingist".
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #45 on: August 02, 2011, 07:50:30 AM »
Anfauglir, I think the problem here lies not with whether or not a "blank slate" lacks belief.  Graybeard would agree to that - wouldn't you, GB?

The problem is that "lacks belief" is not how GB defines "atheism".  "Atheism" is a far more deliberate affiliation, in GB's mind.  And to be fair, he's not alone.  Then again, he wouldn't be alone if he defined "atheism" as "worship of Satan", either.
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #46 on: August 02, 2011, 08:04:11 AM »
Anfauglir, I think the problem here lies not with whether or not a "blank slate" lacks belief.  Graybeard would agree to that - wouldn't you, GB?

The problem is that "lacks belief" is not how GB defines "atheism".  "Atheism" is a far more deliberate affiliation, in GB's mind.  And to be fair, he's not alone. 

If pushed, I would agree with him too.  Or, perhaps, I would PREFER it if both sides - theist and atheist alike - were rather more deliberate in their taking of sides.  I'm sure that the number of people who profess themselves believers (of any stripe) is far greater than the number of believers who came to their position throught consideration and personal journeys, rather than "cultural Christians" who tick the box on census forms by habit.  And I think the same applies to atheists as well, although (perhaps by definition) the numbers are not as different.
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

Offline Graybeard

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #47 on: August 02, 2011, 09:05:31 AM »
I think the idea now is to settle upon a definition of atheist. Also from dictionary.com
theism–noun
1. the belief in one god as the creator and ruler of the universe, without rejection of revelation ( distinguished from deism).
2. belief in the existence of a god or gods ( opposed to atheism).


I see neither this nor the definition of atheism (above) as biased or carrying baggage. If you are objecting to ‘disbelieve’ and ‘deny’, a good dictionary compiler, and Dictionary.com is reasonably sound, will also have definitions of the words within the definitions and thus looking at the word ‘belief’ would help here.

belief –noun
1. something believed;  an opinion or conviction: a belief that the earth is flat.
2. confidence in the truth or existence of something not immediately susceptible to rigorous proof: a statement unworthy of belief.

You will see that ‘belief’ looks to be a poor attribute to have; ‘disbelief’ is therefore a positive attribute.

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I've seen some atheists define the word as (to paraphrase) "a reasoned rejection of all supernatural claims".  How do you feel about that definition?
I feel that it is broader than atheism, which refers solely to deities. I think you have given a paraphrase of

rationalism –noun
1.   the principle or habit of accepting reason as the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief, or conduct.
(I do not include the 2nd and 3rd definitions in this case)

Were I to accept "a reasoned rejection of all supernatural claims". It would prevent a neonate from being an atheist as it has insufficient reasoning power to accept or reject anything.

There may be some help in IgnosticismWiki but I doubt it, and I would support Dictionary.com’s definition of atheism.

Anfauglir, I think the problem here lies not with whether or not a "blank slate" lacks belief.  Graybeard would agree to that - wouldn't you, GB?
As a blank lacks everything, the answer seems clear to me.

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The problem is that "lacks belief" is not how GB defines "atheism".
Let me make it clear, ‘I’ am not defining atheism. I am letting a neutral dictionary do the job. Had it supported your stance, I would have been forced to concede. 
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"Atheism" is a far more deliberate affiliation, in GB's mind.
I am grateful for that insight into my own mind. As deliberate comes from ‘deliberation’ I wonder why you said, “a reasoned rejection of all supernatural claims", which implies some deliberation via reasoning.
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And to be fair, he's not alone.  Then again, he wouldn't be alone if he defined "atheism" as "worship of Satan", either.
This ad hominem  and strawman is not progressing anything; not only that, it is quite illogical.

Neonates are neither atheist or theist as a concept of gods is required for both positions. It is irrefutable that they are non-believers, but then again there is quite a lot in which they do not believe...
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 09:10:26 AM by Graybeard »
Nobody says “There are many things that we thought were natural processes, but now know that a god did them.”

Offline John 3 16

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #48 on: August 02, 2011, 09:11:39 AM »
Couple of questions. to all of you above.
1) "newborns have the lack of concept of gods", I have to agree to that but how would you explain almost every culture in history of mankind, there is some sort of religious back ground.(theism) where did all these come from?
Is it just human nature? then are you acting against human nature?(atheism)
Example--- "Male is attracted to female", vice versa for the purpose of reproduction.(human nature)

2) When I was little I believed in both Santa Claus and god, as I grew older, I found out only one of them was real, how did I found out? First I was told, second I read the words of God (bible), lastly, I experience God. Just like what it says in the Bible.
By reading you guys' posts, I can tell there was no experience with God,
But how would you explain millions of believers' experience, healing, touching, comforting.

Example---"phantom Pain" for some amputees.
I know there are theories about it but, is there physical evidence?
Are you going to tell them those are delusional, fake, just because you didn't experienced it?
How are you so sure God doesn't exist? Is there evidence?
Are religions just delusions? Fakes?
Then that's one heck a lot of delusions.

Percentage of theist 88% world wide, and 95% in America (I just google it)
Are you a hatheist?  (hey-thee-ist)

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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #49 on: August 02, 2011, 09:46:18 AM »
The problem is that "lacks belief" is not how GB defines "atheism".
Let me make it clear, ‘I’ am not defining atheism. I am letting a neutral dictionary do the job.[/quote]

You are defining it by deciding to appeal to that dictionary.  That is your choice and you are responsible for it.  Don't shift off that responsibility - you are the one who agrees with the dictionary.  Why is the dictionary authoritative on this topic?

Had it supported your stance, I would have been forced to concede.

What exactly would you have been forced to concede?  Dictionaries merely report on confirmed common usage.  Their definitions are still subjective.

I am grateful for that insight into my own mind. As deliberate comes from ‘deliberation’ I wonder why you said, “a reasoned rejection of all supernatural claims", which implies some deliberation via reasoning.

I was not using that definition, or appealing to it.  I was citing it as an example of the diversity of definitions applied to the term "atheism".

Quote
And to be fair, he's not alone.  Then again, he wouldn't be alone if he defined "atheism" as "worship of Satan", either.
This ad hominem  and strawman is not progressing anything; not only that, it is quite illogical.

This isn't an ad hominem or a strawman.  An ad hominem is when a personal characteristic of one's opponent as a premise to an argument where that personal characteristic is irrelevant.  I have not done this.

A strawman would be to present a false version of your argument as if it were your own, in order to pretend to dismantle yours.  I have not done this, either.

What I have done is express the diversity of definitions of "atheism" used by various groups today.  By appealing to Dictionary.com, you have - whether you did so intentionally or not - appealed to common usage.  Yet, common usage is not as homogenous as Dictionary.com might suggest.  Appealing to its definitions merely aligns you with the group of people who define "atheism" in that particular way.  Defining it as "worship or Satan" would align you with another group.  Defining it as "the absence of theism" would align you with another (all on this topic, by the way - not necessarily anything more).  Defining it as "reasoned rejection of supernatural claims" would put you in yet another group (that's not quite the same as rationalism, btw - though I suppose it depends on which souce you look to for the definition of "rationalism").

Neonates are neither atheist or theist as a concept of gods is required for both positions. It is irrefutable that they are non-believers, but then again there is quite a lot in which they do not believe...

That is your decision.  Apart from an affinity for the definitions offered by Dictionary.com, what arguments do you have in favor of using that definition?
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Offline Anfauglir

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #50 on: August 02, 2011, 09:46:44 AM »
1) "newborns have the lack of concept of gods", I have to agree to that but how would you explain almost every culture in history of mankind, there is some sort of religious back ground.(theism) where did all these come from?

Newborns also have no concept of dragons - yet every culture in the history of mankind has some kind of dragon - therefore dragons MUST exist.  Is that your argument?

How would you explain millions of believers' experience, healing, touching, comforting.

Indeed, many millions of Hindus and Muslims have these experiences.  Therefore their god/s are real.  Is that your argument?

Are you going to tell them those are delusional, fake, just because you didn't experienced it?
Nope.  Their experience of pain as if coming from the missing limb is quite real.  Doesn't mean the limb is still there though.

Are religions just delusions? Fakes?
Then that's one heck a lot of delusions.
Percentage of theist 88% world wide, and 95% in America (I just google it)

I see.  So whatever a lot of people believe is therefore by definition true.  Is that your argument?

In the year 50BC, the vast majority of the world believed in either Roman gods, pagan gods, Norse gods, Aztec gods.....and so on, and so forth.  Barely 1% of the world believed in the god of the Bible - and NOBODY believed in Jesus.  99% of the world's population believed that Jayweh was a false god - if they even knew of him at all.

That's one heck of a lot of delusions, wouldn't you say?  Too many really - so they MUST have been right in their belief that Yahweh did not exist.

Is THAT your argument?
Just because you've always done it that way doesn't mean it's not incredibly stupid.
Why is it so hard for believers to answer a direct question?

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #51 on: August 02, 2011, 09:51:07 AM »
I'm a little "rusty", but I'll give this one a try

Couple of questions. to all of you above.
1) "newborns have the lack of concept of gods", I have to agree to that but how would you explain almost every culture in history of mankind, there is some sort of religious back ground.(theism) where did all these come from?

Just because someone has an idea it doesn't mean that it's innate and it certainly does not mean that the idea is true. Religion came for two reasons:
1 - To explain previously unexplained phenomena
2 - To control the masses

Is it just human nature? then are you acting against human nature?(atheism)

It is human nature to want explanations. Theism presented an easy way to explain everything, but the curious ones searched further than what they were taught and came to other conclusions.

Example--- "Male is attracted to female", vice versa for the purpose of reproduction.(human nature)

Male is also attracted to male and female to female. It occurs in nature. You're not saying that nature is unnatural, are you?

2) When I was little I believed in both Santa Claus and god, as I grew older, I found out only one of them was real, how did I found out? First I was told, second I read the words of God (bible), lastly, I experience God. Just like what it says in the Bible.

It's called a placeboWiki. And you didn't "find out only one of them was real", you found one one of them wasn't real and assumed the other one was.

By reading you guys' posts, I can tell there was no experience with God,

Yes, I wonder why that is...

But how would you explain millions of believers' experience, healing, touching, comforting.

Last three are related to the placebo thing. As for the rest, how do you explain it's all from completely different religions? And how do you explain that there is no scientific evidence for any of them?

Example---"phantom Pain" for some amputees.
I know there are theories about it but, is there physical evidence?
Are you going to tell them those are delusional, fake, just because you didn't experienced it?
How are you so sure God doesn't exist? Is there evidence?
Are religions just delusions? Fakes?
Then that's one heck a lot of delusions.

Phantom_painWiki
Read that article and the completely natural scientific explanations for it.

Percentage of theist 88% world wide, and 95% in America (I just google it)

And we finish with an ad populumWiki.
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Offline jaimehlers

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #52 on: August 02, 2011, 10:44:04 AM »
Azdgari:  Let me ask you this:  Is it meaningful to describe something as atheist if it cannot affirm that this is the case?  An animal cannot tell us whether it has a religious belief or not, so how can we describe it as definitely not having one, whether it is a lack of belief or actual disbelief?  Same thing with a newborn human.  For that matter, same thing with my desk, or my laptop, or my cell phone, or my keys.  For something to be atheist, not-theist, it must possess the ability to choose to be theist.  Newborns do not have that ability.

Couple of questions. to all of you above.
1) "newborns have the lack of concept of gods", I have to agree to that but how would you explain almost every culture in history of mankind, there is some sort of religious back ground.(theism) where did all these come from?
Is it just human nature? then are you acting against human nature?(atheism)
Example--- "Male is attracted to female", vice versa for the purpose of reproduction.(human nature)
Is not culture passed on from generation to generation?

The mere fact that cultures have a religious backgrounds does not prove whether it is or is not human nature to have one.  It just proves that those culture have religious backgrounds.

And as far as acting against human nature goes...most people are perfectly willing to kill and eat other animals for sustenance.  Does that mean that vegetarianism is against human nature?

2) When I was little I believed in both Santa Claus and god, as I grew older, I found out only one of them was real, how did I found out? First I was told, second I read the words of God (bible), lastly, I experience God. Just like what it says in the Bible.
By reading you guys' posts, I can tell there was no experience with God,
But how would you explain millions of believers' experience, healing, touching, comforting.
Most atheists do indeed have religious experience.  A large number were devout believers.  So it's flat-out wrong to say that they had no experience with God.

As for the rest of it, that's purely subjective.  You were primed by people who already believed, and that priming was supported by the words you read which were purported to be by God.  Your personal experiences with God are just that, personal, not something that can be objectively experienced by anyone.  It is the same with other believers; the personal, subjective experiences of a million or a billion people do not add up to anything more than the personal, subjective experiences of those people.  They certainly do not add up to something objective, unless it is something that can be demonstrated objectively.

Example---"phantom Pain" for some amputees.
I know there are theories about it but, is there physical evidence?
Are you going to tell them those are delusional, fake, just because you didn't experienced it?
A brain cell connection, once established, never truly goes away.  So the conduits that conveyed sensations (including pain) from a limb to the brain are not going to suddenly go away just because that limb is no longer attached, and occasionally the electrical impulses of the brain will fire off that set of nerves.  That's why amputees suffer phantom limb syndrome and phantom pain.

How are you so sure God doesn't exist? Is there evidence?
Are religions just delusions? Fakes?
Then that's one heck a lot of delusions.
When believers can objectively prove that God exists, then they'll have a case for demanding that atheists prove that God doesn't exist.

Doesn't matter how many people believe in something if it's wrong.  See below.

Percentage of theist 88% world wide, and 95% in America (I just google it)
Fallacy of the majority - just because a lot of people believe something doesn't make it correct.

Most people, in 1490, believed the Earth was flat.  Yet it would be ridiculous to say that the Earth actually was flat before it was proved to be round.  It was always round regardless of what people believed.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 10:47:35 AM by jaimehlers »

Offline John 3 16

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #53 on: August 02, 2011, 10:53:36 AM »
Anfaulir. Here are my answers
1) Just like Santa Claus.  No interaction with believers.
2) We were just debating on atheism vs theism. Remember
    I wouldn't even go further on this, because I know you won't believe.
3)Mine, and millions of others experience with god is quite real too.
   You just can't see it just like phantom pain.
4)I wasn't saying "you should believe, because millions of people believes"
   I was saying you should start considering when there is millions of people out there experiencing something that you are denying.
besides, how can one deny it or say it's fake when one has not experienced or has no knowledge of it?
« Last Edit: August 02, 2011, 10:57:36 AM by John 3 16 »
Are you a hatheist?  (hey-thee-ist)

A person who vocally hates on religious individuals, often criticizing such persons for being uneducated hillbillies.

Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #54 on: August 02, 2011, 10:58:42 AM »
Azdgari:  Let me ask you this:  Is it meaningful to describe something as atheist if it cannot affirm that this is the case?

Sure.  Just as a dog cannot affirm that it is a German Shepherd, we can describe it as one (or otherwise).

An animal cannot tell us whether it has a religious belief or not, so how can we describe it as definitely not having one, whether it is a lack of belief or actual disbelief?

Are you, then, abandoning the position that animals (and infants, below) are incapable of holding such beliefs?  It's not a point that I much care about, given my own position, but Graybeard has argued the opposite to what you are implying now.  Are you willing to debate him on the subject?

And as to your question, you also cannot know whether or not I am an atheist (whatever the definition you're using).  You can be reasonably certain in light of evidence, but you cannot rule out the idea that you may be wrong.  The same goes for the lack of religious beliefs of animals and infants.  I agree with Graybeard that they are, for the most part, incapable of coherent belief on the subject.  They certainly seem to be.

Same thing with a newborn human.  For that matter, same thing with my desk, or my laptop, or my cell phone, or my keys.  For something to be atheist, not-theist, it must possess the ability to choose to be theist.  Newborns do not have that ability.

This is a different point than the one you were making in the rest of your post.  Here you are using, as a standard, the ability to form belief in one's mind.  Earlier in the post, you were using, as a standard, the ability to communicate that belief to others (even if just to indicate its existence).  As you said:  "An animal cannot tell us whether it has a religious belief or not, so how can we describe it as definitely not having one..."

And to this point, I refer you to my post to Graybeard above.
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Offline Azdgari

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #55 on: August 02, 2011, 11:00:00 AM »
4)I wasn't saying "you should believe, because millions of people believes"
   I was saying you should start considering when there is millions of people out there experiencing something that you are denying.
besides, how can one deny it or say it's fake when one has not experienced or has no knowledge of it?

Who was denying that the experience was real?

As far as I could tell, he just had a different interpretation of that experience.  A more reasonable one.
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Offline John 3 16

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #56 on: August 02, 2011, 11:23:12 AM »
4)I wasn't saying "you should believe, because millions of people believes"
   I was saying you should start considering when there is millions of people out there experiencing something that you are denying.
besides, how can one deny it or say it's fake when one has not experienced or has no knowledge of it?

Who was denying that the experience was real?

As far as I could tell, he just had a different interpretation of that experience.  A more reasonable one.
So you are taking people's experience "real" and still saying God is fake.
"People having REAL experience with FAKE God?"
I am a bit confused.
Are you a hatheist?  (hey-thee-ist)

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Offline Ambassador Pony

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Re: Is atheism the default position?
« Reply #57 on: August 02, 2011, 11:31:20 AM »
Confusion comes with lack of education.

You believe evolution and there is no evidence for that. Where is the fossil record of a half man half ape. I've only ever heard about it in reading.