Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby Lausten » Wed May 09, 2012 5:05 pm

Grammar wrote:"The chances are that you two won't agree" = no kidding? Is that not a reason why this website exists in the first palce? People commonly discuss the points they disagree on.

I don’t think we agree on this, so here is what I think the forum is for.

Throughout history, if you questioned the status quo belief system, it was a time of change, or you were starting a movement. Either way, you would be labelled an outsider, infidel or apostate and you were removed, possibly permanently. We live in a time of rapid change and fortunately in a time that values ideas. If the value of ideas gets much lower, I fear the consequences. The last century should have taught us what can happen.

So, this forum is “removed” from the public square of “God bless you” and 10 commandments monuments and “shall we pray” and “what church do you go to”. When you enter here, there is usually an expectation that you will present your beliefs clearly and provide evidence for why you hold them. If you can’t give a concise answer to what “faith” is or what “spirituality” is, you will probably not get much respect. Since no one I know has ever given an answer to those, here or anywhere, just using the words at all is suspect.

I’m not saying you are not welcomed here. I was just listening to Chris Mooney talk about how all people need to learn to frame their discussions so they can be understood. I may think a Christian has a blockage in their head that allows them to accept the virgin birth, but if they can supply 50 people to help me send food to Haiti, I need to avoid that and find common ground so we can work together.

If you are attempting to increase understanding, that’s great. If you are attempting to convince me there is such as thing as “knowledge by faith”, good luck.
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Wed May 09, 2012 7:08 pm

Lausten:

Lausten wrote:If you are attempting to increase understanding, that’s great. If you are attempting to convince me there is such as thing as “knowledge by faith”, good luck.


Like I told the other guys, I was not attempting to convince you that there is, in fact, "knowledge by faith". You might have noticed that I have been asked several times what that even means, and I have not given my own definition. I have also not attempted a demonstration or argument in its favor. All I have done is offer, by way of an example, what a typical theist might mean when they say faith. I also made it plain several days ago that such a thing (i.e. arguing for the reliability/existence of anything) was not my intent:

"My intention for interacting on these forums is not to "prove" god's existence to you, or to "convert" anyone (if it happens...doubtful...so be it). Instead, I hope that by interacting with you kind people, I might improve my ability to understand a different position than my own, as well as my ability to clearly present my own position (I think it is obvious that I need improvement on both counts)."
-Me, Posted on May 6 @ 6:33 pm (page 2), emphasis mine

"First, I have no intention of arguing the position that a "spoken or written claim is enough supporting evidence" in this context. I offered that as a typical religious theist's understanding of faith (as in contrast to "believing without any evidence")."
-Me, Posted on May 7 @ 10:16pm (page 3), emphasis mine

I hope you will trust that I am doing my best to stay true to my words.

When you enter here, there is usually an expectation that you will present your beliefs clearly and provide evidence for why you hold them.


Which is why, from the moment I have entered here, I have been picking your brains as to how I might be able to present my beliefs in a way that (from your own perspectives) you will understand them clearly. Do I seem suspicious in this regard?
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby dobbie » Wed May 09, 2012 8:52 pm

GOA wrote:
dobbie wrote: What is a typical religious theist's understanding of faith?
GOA: The example of a person trusting a friend's testimony about certain events (e.g. bungee jump) is what I was referring to.

I can see that we’re not communicating. Or I should have worded the question better. The question is: “What is a theist’s typical understanding of religious faith?” Or better still, “What's your understanding of what religious faith is?”

The example of the bungee jumper doesn’t involve religious faith.


GOA wrote: However, if you don't care to understand the other person's position you will be a poor "anti-apologist".

Well, if the remark is directed at me, I can only say that I have asked for the position several times already. That is, I have asked, What's religious faith, and what's “knowledge by faith.”


GOA wrote: Well, I have not been trying to explain to you what "knowledge by faith" means. I have only been trying to emphasize the importance of understanding what a religious person means by the phrase because it is part of their epistemology.

Don’t those two sentences involve a contradiction in terms? That is, they read: It’s important for me to understand what “knowledge by faith” means: but nobody is going to tell me what it is.
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby dobbie » Wed May 09, 2012 8:56 pm

GOA wrote: Your last sentence, "so...what is it [knowledge by faith]?", would be an excellent question to ask a theist you are discussing religion/theology with.

Well, I have asked the question on this thread, and you’re the theist with whom I’m discussing religion on this thread. So I’d like to take a cue from something you wrote earlier, which I think was an excellent approach, and it is: “Please answer the question for yourself.” That is, what’s your personal answer?
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby dobbie » Wed May 09, 2012 8:57 pm

dobbie wrote: I wonder whether the Muslim has knowledge by religious faith equal to the Christian who has knowledge by religious faith. Is the answer Yes or No.
GOA: That sounds like a good question to ask during a religious discussion.


Well, this is a religious discussion right now. So how do you respond to the issue?
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby dobbie » Wed May 09, 2012 9:00 pm

GOA wrote: do you consider an eye whitness testimony during a criminal trial evidence, or is it a claim?


I, Dobbie, will jump in with my two cents again. During a criminal court trial, eye-witness testimony can be entered as evidence. That is, it’s evidence that is used to support an accusation. Eye-witness testimony follows the accusation at hand, and is so-called material evidence, to determine the validity of the accusation in the criminal trial. A slimy lawyer will then cross examine the eye witness to see whether the eye witness was a good eye witness. Have I answered the question okay? (By the way, I can’t see what the question has to do with religious faith or “knowledge by religious faith.”)
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Wed May 09, 2012 11:00 pm

Dobbie:

dobbie wrote:Or better still, “What's your understanding of what religious faith is?”


I just posted in response to Lausten that, currently, I have no intention of entering that sort of discussion. I think it is enough that you see the importance of asking that sort of question to someone who is willing to discuss their religion with you.

dobbie wrote:Well, if the remark is directed at me, I can only say that I have asked for the position several times already.


It wasn't directed at you. I was using the "royal" you, and speaking generally.

dobbie wrote:Don’t those two sentences involve a contradiction in terms? That is, they read: It’s important for me to understand what “knowledge by faith” means: but nobody is going to tell me what it is.


I do not think here is a contradiction in terms. Here are my words again:

"Well, I have not been trying to explain to you what "knowledge by faith" means. I have only been trying to emphasize the importance of understanding what a religious person means by the phrase because it is part of their epistemology."
I will state the same thing a different way:

I have no interest in getting into my own personal and specific definition of "knowledge by faith" (see above post to Lausten) here. I only wanted to reiterate the importance that particular concept plays in discussions between a religious theist and an atheist, and that both sides should seek a good and common understanding.

dobbie wrote:Well, I have asked the question on this thread, and you’re the theist with whom I’m discussing religion on this thread.


It may be true that you are discussing religion. I am not. I rather hoped to discuss the approach with which a person, regardless of position, should take when beginning a religious discussion.

dobbie wrote:So I’d like to take a cue from something you wrote earlier, which I think was an excellent approach, and it is: “Please answer the question for yourself.” That is, what’s your personal answer?


If I had one ready with which I was confident in its perceived clarity, I would start a new thread for us. Seeing as I lack that confidence, I might as well have no answer for you that wouldn't perplex you. Is that ok? I hope so.

dobbie wrote:Well, this is a religious discussion right now. So how do you respond to the issue?


See above. I truly apologize if my words made it seem as if I was attempting to provide a "proof" for faith or if I came across as seeking a discussion about my own religious theism.

dobbie wrote:That is, it’s evidence that is used to support an accusation. Eye-witness testimony follows the accusation at hand, and is so-called material evidence, to determine the validity of the accusation in the criminal trial. A slimy lawyer will then cross examine the eye witness to see whether the eye witness was a good eye witness. Have I answered the question okay? (By the way, I can’t see what the question has to do with religious faith or “knowledge by religious faith.”)


Thanks for your input. I asked the question because DjVortex stated that the "testimony" of the bungee jumping friend is NOT evidence, but rather it was a "claim". It was a probing question to come to a deeper understanding of DjVortex's distinction between claims and evidence. I asked (like I wrote) because I was genuinely curious.
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby Lausten » Thu May 10, 2012 12:55 am

Grammar wrote: Do I seem suspicious in this regard?

Yes.

Although I appreciate the politeness, something quite rare in forums, I sense a lot of resistance. This occurs in the form of repetitiveness. I think much of what you have asked for has been granted, but you haven't granted much of what is asked of you. I'm not quite as engaged in this as the other two, so feel free to dismiss me.
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby dobbie » Thu May 10, 2012 1:11 am

dobbie wrote:Or better still, “What's your understanding of what religious faith is?”
GOA wrote: I just posted in response to Lausten that, currently, I have no intention of entering that sort of discussion.


You’re not obliged to enter that sort of discussion. But I expect that you understand that you brought up the topic. And then you refrain from making the topic clear to others.

I’m not goading you into discussing the topic in my way. So this isn’t a rhetorical trick on my part. I’ll just let the matter lie between us.

GOA wrote: I have no interest in getting into my own personal and specific definition of "knowledge by faith" (see above post to Lausten) here. I only wanted to reiterate the importance that particular concept plays in discussions between a religious theist and an atheist, and that both sides should seek a good and common understanding.

I must be beating a dead horse here. What you have said in the last part is precisely what others have said on this thread already. I even wrote, previously, that I expected that both sides wanted to understand the other’s position for the sake of discussion. Your paragraph above seems to indict others on this thread as if they don’t care to understand; but actually they’ve encouraged further constructive discussion and clarity all along.

At the risk of sounding prosaic, I’ll say that the main business of atheism is to respond to the theist’s position. If the atheist doesn’t know what the theist’s position is in the first place, the atheist can’t really respond to it (except with a question mark).

And now I have successfully failed to understand the purpose of the section of the thread you began. Have I got everything you said upside down?

I truly apologize if my words made it seem as if I was attempting to provide a "proof" for faith or if I came across as seeking a discussion about my own religious theism.

I answer for myself. I don’t expect proof for faith. Only what religious faith is, as far as this thread as taken us so far. All this business about faith in the claim of going bungee jumping isn’t the same thing as a religious faith claim. And I favorably appreciate it when the person I ask answers it for him- or herself. Those two things are what I was seeking. But I don't ask for them now, so long as you don’t care to follow that line of discussion, and only naturally that's your prerogative.
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby DjVortex » Thu May 10, 2012 6:00 am

GrammarOfAssent wrote:Just out of curiosity, do you consider an eye whitness testimony during a criminal trial evidence, or is it a claim?


From a scientific point of view eyewitness testimony is basically worthless. At most it can be used as a starting point for further investigation, but nothing more. Many courts of law put too much trust in eyewitness testimony.

To assume that everyone agrees with these fundamental philosophies is naive, and I think we should all slow down and try to at least understand each other's fundamental perspectives. I can't understand very well your position about a specific thing if I never consider the premises that lead you there.


I'm not sure what you are getting at. Me explaining why I demand more evidence for some things than others does in no way mean I do not understand how religious people think.
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Thu May 10, 2012 6:46 pm

Lausten:

Lausten wrote:I sense a lot of resistance. This occurs in the form of repetitiveness. I think much of what you have asked for has been granted, but you haven't granted much of what is asked of you. I'm not quite as engaged in this as the other two, so feel free to dismiss me.


I try to avoid dismissing people, especially those who bring up good points.

If I seem resistant, it is because I am actually resisting. I am being asked to answer a question (e.g. "what is knowledge by faith") I didn't want to answer in the first place (and even indicated that I wasn't in this thread to present my case, but rather, to figure out HOW I could best present it while understanding the other person's case at the same time). I was repeatedly asked to answer the question, and I repeatedly indicated either that I didn't come to answer it, or that I thought it was a good question for asking. I personally believe it would have been more suspicious if I claimed I didn't want to attempt a proof of god...and then half way through the discussion...started trying to prove my own religion. You might notice that I haven't even stated what religious beliefs I even assent to beyond theism (at least I don't remember doing so).

My first post was essentially, "If I ask these questions [there were three of them], will that allow for a quick assessment of the other person's (a)theistic position?" The rest has spiraled into miscommunication and repetitiveness. Can you imagine what it would be like if we were ACTUALLY trying to discuss a specific religion? =)
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Thu May 10, 2012 7:23 pm

Dobbie:

dobbie wrote:But I expect that you understand that you brought up the topic. And then you refrain from making the topic clear to others.


It is not true that I brought up the topic of faith. In fact, dobbie, it was you:

"So, the way I see it, all the theists can claim "evidence" on the same mutually exclusive basis.

I probably won't ask this question because I get the feeling that the answer will be "Well, I take it on faith."

-dobbie, Posted onMay 6 @ 2:05 pm (page 2)

In response to YOUR words, I brought up the concept of "knowledge by faith" (which is the concept you were referring to), and it is not true that I brought it up as a position I was then trying to validate (which, if I had, I would rightly be expected to explain it). I stated this explicitly. I will state it again. The concept (i.e. knowledge by faith) serves as a good example of a topic which lies at the fundamental and epistemological differences between a typical religious theist and a typical atheist. Here are my words originally (in response to your original ones):

"For some, that ["I take it on faith"] is how they would answer your question, and it tells you a very important thing regarding their epistemology (e.g. theirs would include "some knowledge can be known by faith"). Assuming you also understand what "take it on faith" means TO THAT PERSON, you might find this part of a person's epistemology ignorant, dangerous, harmful, etc., and that is fine. Knowing that a person subscribes to such a position before a discussion begins might save you some trouble or frustration, or it might even help you properly direct your discussion"
-Me, Posted on May 6 @ 6:33 pm

I even went on to PRAISE the points you had just made:

"As for dobbie's thoughts on faith and religious texts, he makes several excellent points. Any theist who subscribes to a specific religion (especially those that have a tradition of texts containing "revelation") and wishes to publically discuss his own religion MUST (by the demands of reason) admit the points that dobbie made."
-Me, Posted on May 6 @ 6:33pm

So, from my perspective, I never indicated that I wanted to discuss the validity of an epistemologic position that includes the assent to "knowledge by faith". I only ever said that it is a typical issue between theists and atheists that is misunderstood and better understanding should be sought. When DjVortex brought up the example of the bungee jumper friend, I thought it would help illustrate the same point. If there was a misunderstanding, I will accept the blame for it.

dobbie wrote:Your paragraph above seems to indict others on this thread as if they don’t care to understand; but actually they’ve encouraged further constructive discussion and clarity all along.


You can be sure that the only indictment I care to give here is on my own contributions. If I make references to "atheists" or "you" I almost always mean it in a general sense, and not regarding the three specific and fine people I am interacting with here. Because I had (from my perspective) not made any claim on behalf of my own religious beliefs, and yet, was continuously asked to offer explanations for them (i.e. regarding what knowledge by faith means to me), perhaps I grew frustrated and it was reflected in the tone of my text. If that is the case I apologize. I will remember to be more clear next time (if there is one).

dobbie wrote:At the risk of sounding prosaic, I’ll say that the main business of atheism is to respond to the theist’s position. If the atheist doesn’t know what the theist’s position is in the first place, the atheist can’t really respond to it (except with a question mark).


I would say that is mostly true. Have you ever desired to present your own position for a response and critique?
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby GrammarOfAssent » Thu May 10, 2012 7:46 pm

DjVortex:

From a scientific point of view eyewitness testimony is basically worthless. At most it can be used as a starting point for further investigation, but nothing more. Many courts of law put too much trust in eyewitness testimony.


Thanks

I'm not sure what you are getting at. Me explaining why I demand more evidence for some things than others does in no way mean I do not understand how religious people think.


Of course it doesn't mean that. However, just because you understand the other position and methodology, it does not also mean the other person understands yours. If you demand more evidence for some things, and this is different from the person you are discussing things with, you now have the obligation to explain what you mean. Hopefully, you will be discussing it with a person much brighter than I, and the two of you won't skip a beat.
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Re: Even many atheists detest the term "atheism"

Postby dobbie » Thu May 10, 2012 10:04 pm

GOA wrote: It is not true that I brought up the topic of faith. In fact, dobbie, it was you:

"So, the way I see it, all the theists can claim "evidence" on the same mutually exclusive basis.


Uh, nuh-uh. The only thing I stated there was that theists make claims. And their evidence for those claims differs from that of other theists. There’s no discussion of what religious faith is there.

I probably won't ask this question because I get the feeling that the answer will be "Well, I take it on faith."
-dobbie, Posted onMay 6 @ 2:05 pm (page 2)


Yes, of course I wrote it. The whole thing was about another group’s Jewish theist. All he did was to repeat religious doctrine. And so I had the feeling that he takes the religious doctrine on faith. In that particular post on his forum, I didn’t ask you or anybody else on this forum what religious faith was. But then in a follow-up post you wrote or introduced something about “knowledge known by faith”:
dobbie wrote: I probably won't ask this question because I get the feeling that the answer will be "Well, I take it on faith."
GOA: For some, that is how they would answer your question, and it tells you a very important thing regarding their epistemology (e.g. theirs would include "some knowledge can be known by faith"). by GrammarOfAssent » Sun May 06 page 2


And that was when I asked what you meant by the phrase. From there I wondered what the phrase, “knowledge by faith,” was.

GOA wrote: it is not true that I brought it up as a position I was then trying to validate (which, if I had, I would rightly be expected to explain it). I stated this explicitly
.
It was stated to me explicitly much later down the road.

GOA wrote: I had (from my perspective) not made any claim on behalf of my own religious beliefs, and yet, was continuously asked to offer explanations for them (i.e. regarding what knowledge by faith means to me) …


Well, you’re not asked about it any longer because you have made your position clear most recently. If you attempted to make it clear much earlier (and you say that you did) your position on the matter must have gotten lost in shuffle.

Have you ever desired to present your own position for a response and critique?


I wrote early in this portion of the thread (when you came in) that I could respond to a question about the Bible or the God of the Bible and give my reasons for my position. My position would be a so-called “argument” to inform. Not an argument to win. Experience shows that I have little influence on most other people. So I don’t try to win them over, only to inform them of my position (if they can stay awake while I speak).

In fact if you ever want samples of my position, you can find many of them on my blog:
A Skeptic vs the Bible
http://skepticvsbible.blogspot.com/

Finally, thank for taking as much time as you did to respond to my stuff.
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