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Agnostic to Atheist

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Oct. 25th, 2006 | 11:52 am

For a long time I have called myself agnostic.

While I am almost certain that an Abrahamic god does not exist, I've been more reluctant to totally rule out more abstract notions of "god". Thus I didn't feel that my certainty in the non-existence of some kind of a god was high enough to be called an atheist. At a more practical level, where I grew up religious beliefs were pretty mild. You could be an atheist, or a theist, and nobody much would care. Even our prime minister is agnostic and nobody but a tiny ultra religious minority seems to care. As such, there was not much pressure to be explicitly against theism.

However I've decided to change my position. When most people say "God", what they mean is an Abrahamic style god, i.e. Jewish, Christian or Muslim. With respect to this concept of god I've already been atheist for some time. The second reason is that, unlike the mild religious atmosphere of New Zealand that I grew up with, on the world stage today conservative religious voices seem to be getting stronger and are influencing major world events. I think that these voices are moving the world in the wrong direction: away from reason, evidence and science, and towards a world where something is true just because that's what you have decided to believe. In such a climate I think that a clearer position is called for.

I am now an atheist.

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Comments {13}

anton_y_k

So am I

from: anton_y_k
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 12:14 pm (UTC)
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As Laplace used to say "God? I have no need for that hypothesis" ;-)

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mathemajician

Re: So am I

from: mathemajician
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 12:25 pm (UTC)
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I would guess that 70% of my journal readers are also atheist.

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anton_y_k

Re: So am I

from: anton_y_k
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 12:30 pm (UTC)
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And another 30% are agnostic ;-)

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mathemajician

Re: So am I

from: mathemajician
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 12:32 pm (UTC)
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I say there's 15% to 20% theists out there on my readership list.

I'd do a poll but I no longer have a paid account...

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Nathan

(no subject)

from: yfel
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 12:56 pm (UTC)
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Your transition mirrors my own.

I'll see you in hell if we're somehow wrong ;-)

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mathemajician

(no subject)

from: mathemajician
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 01:31 pm (UTC)
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I think quite a few people are being pushed from agnostic to atheist due to similar forces.

The good news is that almost all of the interesting people I know will be in hell with us... unfortunately so will all the ultra religious wacko types who chose the wrong religion --- boy will they be pissed.

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Psychology is my Boyfriend

(no subject)

from: radiantsun
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 05:14 pm (UTC)
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lol


you are the second post I've read today about theist/agnosticism. The other was from a scientist guy who explained his position of agnosticism and why if you were to pursuade him in either direction you must have proof.

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Psychology is my Boyfriend

(no subject)

from: radiantsun
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 05:27 pm (UTC)
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Er sorry, why is is not an agnostic either. http://lifeofreilly.livejournal.com/450494.html?#cutid1

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mathemajician

(no subject)

from: mathemajician
date: Oct. 26th, 2006 08:30 pm (UTC)
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The problem is that you cannot "prove" the non-existence of things. The classic example is the following: Can you prove that there does not exist a china teapot out there in space somewhere orbiting the sun? Unless you had amazingly powerful technology that could search all of the space around the sun in great detail, you can't "prove" that there is no such teapot. By the same logic, you can't prove that fairies don't exist. Perhaps at the bottom of someones garden in a small town in rural Russia somebody really has a fairy living in their garden. Of course given what we know about the universe and how things work, i.e. science, it is extremely unlikely that there is a teapot orbiting the sun, or a fairy hidden away in some garden. These things would turn almost ALL of our scientific knowledge of the world upside down and experience show as that profound discoveries of this nature are very rare indeed. Thus it is rational to assume that these things do not exist. If some people believe that they do, then the burden rests on them to produce solid scientific evidence to back up their belief. As the saying goes, amazing claims require amazing evidence. God, saints and prophets who could perform miracles etc., these are all amazing claims. At present there is no solid scientific evidence for them at all. Thus the default, like the china teapot, is to assume that they are not for real.

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mauitian

(no subject)

from: mauitian
date: Oct. 25th, 2006 07:18 pm (UTC)
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First you get a girlfriend, and now this!
Welcome!

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mathemajician

(no subject)

from: mathemajician
date: Oct. 26th, 2006 06:20 pm (UTC)
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I don't think this change is all that big. I think it's mostly a change in terminology. When people say "God" what they typically mean is an Abrahamic god. If I say that I'm an atheist it makes it clear to these people that I don't believe in their brand of faith.

But if somebody said to me, "Maybe we're all living in a huge computer simulation." My answer would be, "I don't know, perhaps we are." In which case, maybe the guy running the simulation could in some reasonable sense be called "God"? Under such definitions you could then argue that I am, strictly speaking, an agnostic because I don't feel that there is enough evidence to totally rule out such things. But for most people these are somewhat strange concepts of "god" and "agnostic". Thus I think for the sake of clarity, it's probably better to just call myself atheist and be done with it.

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Nerissa

(no subject)

from: nerissacm
date: Oct. 26th, 2006 05:01 pm (UTC)
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Hmmm...I don't necesarily believe that there is one particular god out there who watches our every move (because seriously, who would want that kind of a job?). But I do think that there's a higher power somehow...
Is there a term for that?

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mathemajician

(no subject)

from: mathemajician
date: Oct. 26th, 2006 07:44 pm (UTC)
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I think most people in this category call themselves "spiritual", or if they want to be more explicit, "spiritual but not religious".

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