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Old April 14th, 2013 (10:33 PM).
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Bela Bela is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2009
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There seems to be some confusion in this thread as to what exactly atheism is. Since even some of the self-described atheists in this thread seem to misunderstand this, I really have my work cut out for me. ;P

To make this easier to understand, let's set up a logical dichotomy for these positions we take on belief.

I've noticed that the religious posters in this thread seem to be making a distinction between different kinds of beliefs, indicating their beliefs are not like those of organized religions. That's fine. For the sake of this model, any and all of these fall under one category of the dichotomy, what we'll call theism. (I understand this term normally is used to say one deity exists, but for simplicity I'm relegating any and all beliefs of a supernatural nature to this position, as they really are interchangeable here.)

So, if you say any of the above things: that a god exists/that some presence exists/however you'd like to describe your supernatural belief, you are making some theistic claim about the universe. Accepting this proposition would make you a theist.

If you are given one of these theistic claims and reject it, you are an atheist with respect to that claim. Where the confusion seems to come from is what exactly this means. There exist different forms of atheism (both "strong" and "weak" atheism), but this really isn't necessary to describe one's position in this.

Now what I've said thusfar is only about belief. What one claims to "know" is a separate question from belief. (Of course, we can have a discussion on what exactly one means by "knowing" something, but we'll just say for now it's a matter of the evidence you have encountered which convinces you the belief you hold is true.) For this matter, if you say you do not know whether a god or gods exist, but you do not believe one does, this is usually where you get people calling themselves an agnostic atheist. In this matter, this is the position I would take.

With this, I'm not saying I wouldn't be open to the possibility of a god or gods existing. My beliefs can and have changed over time. If the evidence was there to convince me, I would believe it. However, there just isn't anything outside of people's personal experiences and claims that there is a god that I have encountered. It may be good evidence for you to believe, but I think you should be able to understand that it's not really good evidence for me or anyone else to believe.

It's a matter of certainty. I do not think it is reasonable to hold with absolute certainty these kinds of beliefs, one way or another. A rational mind should be open to accepting new ideas and discarding old ones. I am uncertain whether or not a god or gods exist. Given the evidence, it seems rather unlikely. That's why, for all practical purposes, I call myself an atheist.

And let me be real with you. I don't think most people spend their time thinking about these sorts of things. That's why I would consider myself mostly an apatheist, which just means I don't believe in a god and I don't care about the matter. I've got other stuff to do. ;P
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