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Author Topic: Defining Atheism and Atheist Beliefs  (Read 5178 times)
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« Topic Start: December 27, 2007, 12:45:59 pm »

Atheism is usually defined as a firm disbelief in God (or Gods). Being Agnostic is defined as doubting the exsitence of God(s) because there is no proof. 

Most people I meet who say they are either Atheist or Agnostic however, seem to have a belief system that goes beyond doubing the existence of God.

They usually do not believe in any psychic abilities, deities, demons, spells, or anything "supernatural".  This probably goes along with a mindset that if it can't be proven, it isn't so.

So I guess my question is, should Atheism be defined solely as not believing in God? or is there actually more of a belief system to Atheism?

Theoretically, if Atheism is strictly not believing in God, couldn't an Atheist still believe in the supernatural?

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« Reply #1: December 27, 2007, 01:08:00 pm »

Atheism is usually defined as a firm disbelief in God (or Gods). Being Agnostic is defined as doubting the exsitence of God(s) because there is no proof. 

Most people I meet who say they are either Atheist or Agnostic however, seem to have a belief system that goes beyond doubing the existence of God.

They usually do not believe in any psychic abilities, deities, demons, spells, or anything "supernatural".  This probably goes along with a mindset that if it can't be proven, it isn't so.

So I guess my question is, should Atheism be defined solely as not believing in God? or is there actually more of a belief system to Atheism?

Theoretically, if Atheism is strictly not believing in God, couldn't an Atheist still believe in the supernatural?




My dad was an atheist, and I think for him a lot of it was about not accepting the concept of faith in anything, except his own mind,  and rational thought in general. (disclaimer; I have no judgment about that-rock out, atheists!) I had an interesting conversation with my brother a couple of days ago, who has absolutely internalized this view, although interestingly he does not seem to understand that it is merely what he was raised with, and he could even find his own way, if he thought about it some. But he does not seem to understand that. I think a lot of people are like this, with whatever worldview or spiritual ideas they absorb, growing up. However,he honestly believes that my spiritual life is "an insane fantasy world" oh dear. I don't think all atheists are quite that rude, even though I am pretty sure that is more or less what many do think about active spirituality.
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« Reply #2: December 27, 2007, 01:11:08 pm »

Theoretically, if Atheism is strictly not believing in God, couldn't an Atheist still believe in the supernatural?

Theoretically yes.  I went through a period of time when I believed in magic, but not in gods, spirits, etc.  I would say that the core of atheism is implied by the word - disbelieving in deities.  Often there is associated stuff - like not believing in magic or psychic phenomenom, but disbelief in these are not (in my opinion at least) critical to being defined as an atheist.
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« Reply #3: December 27, 2007, 01:50:17 pm »

Atheism is usually defined as a firm disbelief in God (or Gods). Being Agnostic is defined as doubting the exsitence of God(s) because there is no proof. 

I consider these both terrible definitions.

Atheism is simply lack of belief in a god or gods.

Agnosticism is a belief that the truth of the nature of existence of gods is unknowable.  While many agnostics tend towards atheism in their base reactions to the world, that's hardly universal, given that, say, I (an extremely hard agnostic theist) exist.
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« Reply #4: December 27, 2007, 01:51:10 pm »

However,he honestly believes that my spiritual life is "an insane fantasy world" oh dear. I don't think all atheists are quite that rude, even though I am pretty sure that is more or less what many do think about active spirituality.

<shrug>  I don't mind if people think I'm crazy.  Mostly because I'm willing to accept the fact that I might be deluding myself about my beliefs...and still believe them.  Wink

Brina
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« Reply #5: December 27, 2007, 02:18:11 pm »

<shrug>  I don't mind if people think I'm crazy.  Mostly because I'm willing to accept the fact that I might be deluding myself about my beliefs...and still believe them.  Wink

Brina

yes!! That is the part that makes the top of my brother's head pop off Wink
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #6: December 27, 2007, 02:32:48 pm »

Atheism is usually defined as a firm disbelief in God (or Gods). Being Agnostic is defined as doubting the exsitence of God(s) because there is no proof. 


Actually, there are various differing "flavors" of agnosticism (and atheism, I'm sure). I consider myself an agnostic, but I tend more towards "agnostic theism" because I do believe in some type of divine energy, but since I've not been provided with concrete proof of its origin, nature, etc...and I know that that's probably not possible...I doubt that I'll ever come out and declare that "God is like this" and joining up with a religion that requires one to adhere to a set concept of the divine.

Theoretically, if Atheism is strictly not believing in God, couldn't an Atheist still believe in the supernatural?

Actually I've known a couple of atheists who believed in several aspects of what would be deemed "supernatural", but they just accepted them as part of the natural world. They pretty much felt that there were just some things that science could not yet explain but would someday.
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« Reply #7: December 27, 2007, 02:49:31 pm »

I consider these both terrible definitions.

Atheism is simply lack of belief in a god or gods.

Agnosticism is a belief that the truth of the nature of existence of gods is unknowable.  While many agnostics tend towards atheism in their base reactions to the world, that's hardly universal, given that, say, I (an extremely hard agnostic theist) exist.
Well, there's hard and soft atheism and agnosticism, just like everything else.  The OPs definitions would seem to be of hard atheism and soft agnosticism.

In my experience, agnosticism can go from "Don't know, don't care" to "I can't possibly know and neither can you."  I'm another hard agnostic theist, btw.  (Though not so much "extremely hard" these days.  As my UPG broadens, that belief is softening up somewhat.)
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« Reply #8: December 27, 2007, 02:59:10 pm »


In my experience, agnosticism can go from "Don't know, don't care" to "I can't possibly know and neither can you."  I'm another hard agnostic theist, btw.  (Though not so much "extremely hard" these days.  As my UPG broadens, that belief is softening up somewhat.)


Wikipedia had a pretty decent list (I've summarized here):

--Strong agnosticism (also called hard agnosticism, closed agnosticism, strict agnosticism, absolute agnosticism)—"I can't know, and neither can you."
--Mild agnosticism (also called weak agnosticism, soft agnosticism, open agnosticism, empirical agnosticism, temporal agnosticism)— "I don't know, but maybe you do."
--Apathetic agnosticism— "I don't know, and who cares anyway?"
--Pragmatic agnosticism— "I don't know, pass the chicken"
--Model agnosticism— "I don't know, but maybe it can be figured out."
--Agnostic theism (also called religious agnosticism)—"I don't know, but I think so." (See Knowledge vs. Beliefs)
--Agnostic atheism—"I don't know, but I don't think so."
--Ignosticism—"I don't know what you're talking about when you refer to God. Unless we first figure that out, debates over whether god exists are meaningless."

I've gone from mild to apathetic to pragmatic and now I've settled into agnostic theism.
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« Reply #9: December 27, 2007, 03:00:21 pm »

Atheism is usually defined as a firm disbelief in God (or Gods). Being Agnostic is defined as doubting the exsitence of God(s) because there is no proof. 

Most people I meet who say they are either Atheist or Agnostic however, seem to have a belief system that goes beyond doubing the existence of God.

They usually do not believe in any psychic abilities, deities, demons, spells, or anything "supernatural".  This probably goes along with a mindset that if it can't be proven, it isn't so.

So I guess my question is, should Atheism be defined solely as not believing in God? or is there actually more of a belief system to Atheism?

Theoretically, if Atheism is strictly not believing in God, couldn't an Atheist still believe in the supernatural?



Hubby calls himself agnostic, he believes that there are higher forces in the universe, but isn't sure we have figured out what they are.

As far as supernatural events, he tends to more scientific explanations of those effects.  F'ex, he believes ghosts are echoes of the energy given off by people/emotions.  He doesn't discount psychic phenomenon, but feels that they are much MUCH rarer than the media and others would have us believe. 

When I was an athiest, I had a religion.  The religion of Science.  Anything that was reported as scientific was automatically believed by me.  That only what could be proved was real.  That there was nothing that was unexplainable.  I thought most supernatural phenomena was as a result of mental health issues, with no possibility of it being real. 
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« Reply #10: December 27, 2007, 03:20:01 pm »

<shrug>  I don't mind if people think I'm crazy.  Mostly because I'm willing to accept the fact that I might be deluding myself about my beliefs...and still believe them.  Wink

Exactly! Why can't I explain myself that succinctly?
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« Reply #11: December 27, 2007, 03:38:40 pm »

However,he honestly believes that my spiritual life is "an insane fantasy world" oh dear. I don't think all atheists are quite that rude, even though I am pretty sure that is more or less what many do think about active spirituality.

Yes, especially beliefs in an after-life.

I doubt that I'll ever come out and declare that "God is like this" and joining up with a religion that requires one to adhere to a set concept of the divine.

Even though I call myself a Kemetic, it  is actually my own interpretation of Egyptian spiritualism that I follow. I just don't seem to fit into any "off the rack" religion, new or old.


When I was an athiest, I had a religion.  The religion of Science.  Anything that was reported as scientific was automatically believed by me.  That only what could be proved was real.  That there was nothing that was unexplainable.  I thought most supernatural phenomena was as a result of mental health issues, with no possibility of it being real. 

Many people do only feel comfortable with what science can verify.  I personally wouldn't want my whole existence to be defined by what man's limited scope of current knowledge is or isn't though.   Smiley

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« Reply #12: December 27, 2007, 08:19:44 pm »

When I was an athiest, I had a religion.  The religion of Science.  Anything that was reported as scientific was automatically believed by me.  That only what could be proved was real.


This is my brother. I really shouldn't tease him, but it is kinda fun Wink
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  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #13: December 27, 2007, 09:17:05 pm »

Wikipedia had a pretty decent list (I've summarized here):

--Strong agnosticism (also called hard agnosticism, closed agnosticism, strict agnosticism, absolute agnosticism)—"I can't know, and neither can you."
--Mild agnosticism (also called weak agnosticism, soft agnosticism, open agnosticism, empirical agnosticism, temporal agnosticism)— "I don't know, but maybe you do."
--Apathetic agnosticism— "I don't know, and who cares anyway?"
--Pragmatic agnosticism— "I don't know, pass the chicken"
--Model agnosticism— "I don't know, but maybe it can be figured out."
--Agnostic theism (also called religious agnosticism)—"I don't know, but I think so." (See Knowledge vs. Beliefs)
--Agnostic atheism—"I don't know, but I don't think so."
--Ignosticism—"I don't know what you're talking about when you refer to God. Unless we first figure that out, debates over whether god exists are meaningless."

I've gone from mild to apathetic to pragmatic and now I've settled into agnostic theism.


Got any of that chicken left?

The wiki definition for agnostic atheist is a bit off.  It should be I don't know, but I'm sure I don't.  I chuckle every time I see the label used because it reminds me of my wife when she hit menopause.  Hot and cold at the same time, all the time.
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« Reply #14: December 27, 2007, 10:49:57 pm »

I chuckle every time I see the label used because it reminds me of my wife when she hit menopause.  Hot and cold at the same time, all the time.

watch it, honey.... Wink
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/

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