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Author Topic: "This board leans to the left"....?
Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
OK, the Jane Austen allusion is a bit obscure.

Probably not... but as I can't stand Jane Austen (or Emily Bronte for that matter) you can guarantee that I'm not going get any references. I still have the scars from my Yr 12 English Lit class.

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Silas Sparkhammer
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
. . . and that those who say they believe in God are either liars or dupes.

But this is absolutely not true. Most agnostics have some respect for the faithful, and, while perhaps disagreeing with them, would refrain from any insulting characterization.
Sorry, but the first part oif the definition implies the latter. I wasn't suggesting that agnostics go around hurling insults at theists all the time; I was talking about what they believe. God is either real or unreal. Either we can know something about Him or we can't. Obviously those who believe in God also implicitly believe that those who profess agnosticism are either liars or dupes, but they are usually too polite to tell them this in so many words.
You're wrong. There are lots of ways of being wrong without being a liar or a dupe. You're exhibiting such a third manner of being wrong in your post above.

You're not a liar: you believe what you say.

You're not a dupe: you fell into error without being led there by a beguiler.

You're simply wrong.

A great many agnostics, while feeling that the truly faithful are wrong, nevertheless respect them and their beliefs.

There is absolutely nothing in the definition of agnostic that requires disdain or contempt for those who have faith.

Silas

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Salamander
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Indeed, agnostics share that same faith as their non-agnostic theist friends. Isn't religion supposed to be about faith? If so, I think I could argue that agnostics are more faithful than theists... how much faith do you need if you claim God is knowable? How much more would you need to claim God is unknowable yet you still have faith that God exists?

PeterK, note in the definition you provided, it states an agnostic claims nothing is known or can be known of God... they are not stating God does not exist, only that God is unknowable. It's not the same thing.

I'm a weak agnostic myself, my belief is that God is unknowable to us (although maybe someday we'll know)... but I still hold a belief that a God exists (if I didn't, I'd be an atheist). It's just that I don't particularly believe that Christians have it right (mostly because of the whole interventionist thing).

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"victory thru self-deception"

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TurquoiseGirl
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quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:
Probably not... but as I can't stand Jane Austen

You wound me, Sal, you really do. There goes my impression of you as the perfect man...

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There are people who drive really nice cars who feel that [those] cars won't be as special if other people drive them too. Where I come from, we call those people "selfish self-satisfied gits." -Chloe

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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:
Probably not... but as I can't stand Jane Austen

You wound me, Sal, you really do. There goes my impression of you as the perfect man...
Blame my English Lit class [Razz]

Nothing sucks the joy out of any given text faster than having to deconstruct it. I think if I hadn't been forced into reading Jane Austen's stuff and analysing it paragraph by freakin' paragraph, I might've at least been neutral towards it now. As it stands, the mere sight of Sense and Sensibility give me conniptions.

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"victory thru self-deception"

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Steve Eisenberg
The "Was on Sale" Song


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quote:
Originally posted by TurquoiseGirl:
quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:
Probably not... but as I can't stand Jane Austen

You wound me, Sal, you really do. There goes my impression of you as the perfect man...
I don't know why, but beyond Pride and Prejudice I've never been able to finish any of them either.

However, anything by the Brontė sisters is the best of the best. If they would have lived to 80, I'd be spending more time reading and less here.

My favorite is Villette.

Now back to your regularly scheduled liberal-conservative flamefest.

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"Hillel says yes, naturally, and Shammai says no, and Maimonides is perplexed, and what do I know?"
Julius Lester

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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
You're wrong. There are lots of ways of being wrong without being a liar or a dupe. You're exhibiting such a third manner of being wrong in your post above.

You're not a liar: you believe what you say.

You're not a dupe: you fell into error without being led there by a beguiler.

Surely you believe I was led there by the words and/or writings of others. If you think that I arrived at my belief alone using only my own reason without any input from others, you are denying the essential claim of agnosticism.
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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Salamander:
Indeed, agnostics share that same faith as their non-agnostic theist friends. Isn't religion supposed to be about faith? If so, I think I could argue that agnostics are more faithful than theists... how much faith do you need if you claim God is knowable? How much more would you need to claim God is unknowable yet you still have faith that God exists?

PeterK, note in the definition you provided, it states an agnostic claims nothing is known or can be known of God... they are not stating God does not exist, only that God is unknowable. It's not the same thing.

I'm a weak agnostic myself, my belief is that God is unknowable to us (although maybe someday we'll know)... but I still hold a belief that a God exists (if I didn't, I'd be an atheist). It's just that I don't particularly believe that Christians have it right (mostly because of the whole interventionist thing).

Agnostics are not saying that God does exist either. If you believe that God exists, you are a theist, not an agnostic.
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PeterK
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quote:
Originally posted by Steve Eisenberg:
Now back to your regularly scheduled liberal-conservative flamefest.

So are theists "conservatives" and agnostics "liberals" now? Or is it the other way around?

The wacky Mr Holloway quoted above seems to think "agnostic" is a synonym for "conforming unquestioningly to any modern popular trend you care to name"; but hopefully we can bring more intellectual rigor to the subject than he seems capable of.

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Steve Eisenberg
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
quote:
Originally posted by Steve Eisenberg:
Now back to your regularly scheduled liberal-conservative flamefest.

So are theists "conservatives" and agnostics "liberals" now? Or is it the other way around?
Na, I was just going by the thread title. Somehow I have not been interested in the religion discussion on this thread, not that I object.

I would go back and edit my post, but this is no longer allowed after a time delay. So, here's what I should have put:

Now back to your regularly scheduled liberal/conservative/atheist/agnostic/Christian flamefest.

--------------------
"Hillel says yes, naturally, and Shammai says no, and Maimonides is perplexed, and what do I know?"
Julius Lester

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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
Agnostics are not saying that God does exist either. If you believe that God exists, you are a theist, not an agnostic.

Actually, they do believe God exists. Or more correctly, some agnostics do while others claim uncertainty. Agnosticism is a fairly broad theological stance, if you took a look at that Wiki entry on it you'd see it can vary a fair amount.

To quote J. Huxley:
quote:
The real state of the case, then, is that the agnostic "does not believe the authority" on which "these things" are stated, which authority is Jesus Christ. He is simply an old-fashioned "infidel" who is afraid to own to his right name. As "Presbyter is priest writ large," so is "agnostic" the mere Greek equivalent for the Latin "infidel." There is an attractive simplicity about this solution of the problem; and it has that advantage of being somewhat offensive to the [212] persons attacked, which is so dear to the less refined sort of controversialist. The agnostic says, "I cannot find good evidence that so and so is true." "Ah," says his adversary, seizing his opportunity, "then you declare that Jesus Christ was untruthful, for he said so and so;" a very telling method of rousing prejudice. But suppose that the value of the evidence as to what Jesus may have said and done, and as to the exact nature and scope of his authority, is just that which the agnostic finds it most difficult to determine. If I venture to doubt that the Duke of Wellington gave the command "Up, Guards, and at 'em!" at Waterloo, I do not think that even Dr. Wace would accuse me of disbelieving the Duke. Yet it would be just as reasonable to do this as to accuse any one of denying what Jesus said, before the preliminary question as to what he did say is settled.


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Cold DecEmbra Brings The Sleet
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
OK, the Jane Austen allusion is a bit obscure.

This is not meant to be a drive-by posting, but I have read a lot of Jane Austen, and although I would certainly have picked up on the phrase "it is a truth universally acknowledged", I don't think the words "universally acknowledged" on their own, and in the middle of a discussion about social orderliness and religiosity, are enough to bring her to mind.

I'll go back to lurking now.

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I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war.

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Richard W
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
The wacky Mr Holloway quoted above seems to think "agnostic" is a synonym for "conforming unquestioningly to any modern popular trend you care to name"; but hopefully we can bring more intellectual rigor to the subject than he seems capable of.

It looks to me as though he is thinking for himself. How does coming to different conclusions to yours mean that he's "conforming unquestioningly to a trend"? Let alone any popular modern trend that you care to name, rather than just agnosticism - which I assume is the "trend" you mean.

Even if he is conforming unquestioningly to a trend, at least the one he's conforming unquestioningly to is more up-to-date than the one you're apparently conforming unquestioningly to.

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Richard W
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Another way to look at the theist - agnostic - atheist spectrum is to treat it as a continuum. I think that works better than some other definitions.

Richard Dawkins suggests a seven-point scale. If you're at 1, then you know that God exists (pure theism). If you're at 7, then you know that God doesn't exist (pure atheism). 4 is "pure agnosticism" - you either have no opinion at all one way or the other, or you think both possibilities are equally likely. There are various reasons for being at different points on the scale, so subtleties such as believing that God definitely exists but we can never know that aren't included (edited to clarify what I meant here, and then realised that this position is nonsensical anyway...) - they're separate.

PeterK appears to be at 1 - he knows that God exists. (If I've mis-stated your beliefs, Peter, I apologize. I'm going from memory of your posts.) Dawkins says that there are far more people who claim to be at position 1 than at position 7; I would say that's true.

Position 2 on the scale is "de-facto theism" - you strongly believe that God exists, but acknowledge the possibility of doubt. Similarly, position 6 is "de-facto atheism" - you strongly believe that God doesn't exist, but acknowledge the possibility of doubt.

I would put myself at position 6 tending towards 7 (as does Dawkins) - there's always a level of doubt, but it's about as much doubt as I feel towards the idea of fairies at the bottom of the garden, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster. You can come up with ways in which they could exist, and it's impossible to "prove a negative" to the level of satisfaction demanded by some (who appear to think that the mathematical concept of proof applies to reality outside mathematics), but it's extremely unlikely.

(edit to add my point) - On this scale, Holloway would appear to be around 3 or 2.

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BringTheNoise
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The continuum sounds like a good idea. I'd probably place myself around 2 or 3 as well.

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Silas Sparkhammer
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
You're wrong. There are lots of ways of being wrong without being a liar or a dupe. You're exhibiting such a third manner of being wrong in your post above.

You're not a liar: you believe what you say.

You're not a dupe: you fell into error without being led there by a beguiler.

Surely you believe I was led there by the words and/or writings of others. If you think that I arrived at my belief alone using only my own reason without any input from others, you are denying the essential claim of agnosticism.
One can be persuaded by others...even incorrectly...without being "duped" by them.

Do you believe that all Hindus are "liars or dupes?" Isn't it possible for you to say of them (as I say of you) "I believe they are in error," without having to attach moral scorn to the accusation?

The essential claim to agnosticism is "I don't know." Where you got your "liars or dupes" concept from, I cannot even begin to guess.

Silas

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evilrabbit
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It's possible to believe without absolutely knowing. If you accept that God is ineffable, i.e. beyond human knowledge, the fact that you don't "know" should have no impact on your faith. If I say, "I don't know for sure that God exists, or in what form, but I think he does in some way.", wouldn't that be theistic agnosticism? Or maybe I'm wrong on that.

And I'll agree with Embra that two words do not a literary allusion make.

Unless they're pretty damn recognizable words.

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"My sandwich choice is uncertain, until I actually order. It's like Schrodinger's Sandwich."
"Is plutonium involved in this sandwich in any way?"
"Maybe."

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trollface
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Waffles.

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seriously , everyone on here , just trys to give someone crap about something they do !! , its shitting me to tears.

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trollface
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With the parallels that have been drawn with love, you can say the same thing. You can't know that your parents/partner/friends love you. You can know that they say and act as if they do, but you're not a mind-reader, so you can't actually know.

You can still believe it, though.

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seriously , everyone on here , just trys to give someone crap about something they do !! , its shitting me to tears.

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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:
quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
The wacky Mr Holloway quoted above seems to think "agnostic" is a synonym for "conforming unquestioningly to any modern popular trend you care to name"; but hopefully we can bring more intellectual rigor to the subject than he seems capable of.

It looks to me as though he is thinking for himself. How does coming to different conclusions to yours mean that he's "conforming unquestioningly to a trend"? Let alone any popular modern trend that you care to name, rather than just agnosticism - which I assume is the "trend" you mean.
No, I was referring to the fact which I mentioned earlier, that other than his description of himself as "an agnostic Anglican", there is nothing in his cited quotes to suggest he does not believe in God; but that he seems to think being "agnostic" means supporting legalisation of cannabis, same-sex "marriage", summarily jettisoning any doctrine, however basic, etc., for no other reason than that he sees a trend in his society to support such ideas/practices. Perhaps you have read some other material from him where he provides some other justification for these stances; but what I have stated is the only reason apparent from the cited quotes.
quote:

Even if he is conforming unquestioningly to a trend, at least the one he's conforming unquestioningly to is more up-to-date than the one you're apparently conforming unquestioningly to.

Not sure if this is what you're getting at, but I would say that agnosticism, albeit not by that name, is far older than Christianity. Leaving aside your unfounded implication that any new trend must necessarily be superior to an older one. And your equally unfounded assertion that I conform unquestioningly.

As for the clear difference which some of you claim to see between believing something and knowing something, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree.

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PeterK
The First USA Noel


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quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
quote:
Originally posted by Silas Sparkhammer:
You're wrong. There are lots of ways of being wrong without being a liar or a dupe. You're exhibiting such a third manner of being wrong in your post above.

You're not a liar: you believe what you say.

You're not a dupe: you fell into error without being led there by a beguiler.

Surely you believe I was led there by the words and/or writings of others. If you think that I arrived at my belief alone using only my own reason without any input from others, you are denying the essential claim of agnosticism.
One can be persuaded by others...even incorrectly...without being "duped" by them.

Do you believe that all Hindus are "liars or dupes?" Isn't it possible for you to say of them (as I say of you) "I believe they are in error," without having to attach moral scorn to the accusation?

Their morality is another question. As is the question of whether I should think, speak or act scornfully to them. But to be persuaded of the "truth" of something which is not true, is to be duped.
quote:

The essential claim to agnosticism is "I don't know." Where you got your "liars or dupes" concept from, I cannot even begin to guess.

Silas

The essential claim of agnosticism is "Nobody knows."
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Salamander
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
The essential claim of agnosticism is "Nobody knows."

S'funny... I always thought agnosticism was "I don't claim to know". Claiming nobody knows is more like a militant agnosticism (no such stance exists to my knowledge).

I guess this is boils down to our difference over exactly what defines agnosticism. For you, it is the strict dictionary definition that define the borders of what is and what is not agnosticism. For me, I accept that the word has taken on a broader meaning and has succinct variations -- some of which means it is entirely possible to define oneself as both Christian and agnostic as well as allowing one to look at the claims of proof for the existence of God and saying "They don't satisfy my criteria" without necessarily labelling those who do accept the criteria as buffoons or liars.

You have the dictionary to claim the correctness of your interpretation and I point to the wide range of philosophical articles discussing the nature of agnosticism to claim my interpretation.

In this way, I accept your choice of defining the word without accepting it as being true for me. Much as I can accept your spiritual choice while not accepting it for myself. If you continue to believe that this can only mean I consider you a buffoon and a liar, then I have a fancy French phrase for you: "Honi soit qui mal y pense".

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"victory thru self-deception"

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Steve Eisenberg
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quote:
Originally posted by Richard W:


Richard Dawkins suggests a seven-point scale. If you're at 1, then you know that God exists (pure theism). If you're at 7, then you know that God doesn't exist (pure atheism). 4 is "pure agnosticism" . . .

Just from this thread, I think there would be two scales.

One scale is the one just mentioned, concerning where you think the weight of evidence lies. On that scale, a 1 thinks the weight of evidence is for God's existence, 4 thinks the evidence is evenly balanced, and 7 thinks the weight of evidence is clearly against the existence of God.

The other scale is how sure you are of what you said for the first scale -- 1 for less sure, 7 for rock solid.

So, a 4-7 would be a militant agnostic -- a person who thinks the evidence for and against God's existence is evenly balanced, and anyone who doesn't see that obvious, overwhelming and unchanging fact is absolutely wrong. A 4-1 would be someone who isn't so much an agnostic as someone who constantly wavers between faith and doubt, winding up, perhaps just for today, right in the middle. Militant atheist is 7-7. A Christian absolutely certain of God's love is 1-7.

Trying to be honest, I might be a 2-2, which may explain why I never talk about my faith directly in threads such as this.

--------------------
"Hillel says yes, naturally, and Shammai says no, and Maimonides is perplexed, and what do I know?"
Julius Lester

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trollface
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The problem with the "weight of evidence" scale, although I do like the idea", is that I'd consider myself to be what you describe as a "militant atheist", although I wouldn't put it that way myself, as I don't care what other people believe. A "confirmed atheist", maybe.

But, that said, I don't think that there is any real evidence against God. It's just that there is no evidence for God, and any and all theories I've heard for the existence of God, or even the need for there to be a God are ones that I find utterly unconvincing. The same applies for the plural Gods.

In fact, I think that it's impossible for there to be evidence against the existence of God. You can't prove a negative and, even if you could, what kind of a test for the existence of God could there be? How could you possibly have any evidence at all that he doesn't exist? You can have evidence that humans are prone to creating stories to explain the world around them, and that mythology is an intrinsic part of the human psyche, for sure. But that doesn't mean that God doesn't exist, any more than it means that the Sun isn't pushed across the sky by a dung beetle (which, at least, we do have evidence against).

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seriously , everyone on here , just trys to give someone crap about something they do !! , its shitting me to tears.

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Silas Sparkhammer
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quote:
Originally posted by PeterK:
. . . to be persuaded of the "truth" of something which is not true, is to be duped.

You've been duped.

Silas

ETA: actually, I think you may be using the word differently than we Americans use it. To "dupe" someone is to swindle them, cheat them, beguile them, con them, etc. In other words, if I *know* that this used car is a piece of junk, but I persuade you that it is good enough to buy, I have duped you.

If, on the other hand, I actually believe the car is good (even though it isn't) and I persuade you to buy it, I have *not* duped you, but only persuaded you.

Thus, since the Agnostic understands that most Christians honestly believe in the doctrine which they teach their children, they would not say that this teaching is "duping."

The word comes from "duplicity," entailing dishonesty.

The Agnostic understands that the faithful *honestly* believe in their creed, and thus has not been tricked into it.

Your use of the word "dupe" implies that the Agnostic believes that every Priest, Minister, Imam, Rabbi, etc. *knows* that there is no God, but teaches so anyway. To the best of my knowledge, there is no Agnostic, anywhere, who holds this view.

Silas

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YudanTaiteki
Deck the Malls


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To weigh in on the hostility towards religion, I have seen it here although it's not as bad here as it is some places on the Internet.

What bothers me a lot is the viewpoint that several posters (who I won't name) seem to have, namely that since this is supposedly a site for skeptics, religious views are less welcome here than they would be in a different place. Some have also said straight out that they feel under no obligation to give religion or religious people any respect whatsoever -- basically equating someone who believes in God to someone who believes in Lights Out or the cactus spiders.

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Freshman
We Three Blings


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Yudan: define repsect. No one's saying you haven't a right to believe in god, they're just questioning why you believe it. I do agree that a few on here come off as slightly hostile, I'll give you that

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BringTheNoise
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No one says that you haven't got a right to believe in God, but a few do make it plain that if you do they think less of you.

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"The United States Government: significantly less cruel and sadistic than the Taliban." - Dara

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Joe Bentley
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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quote:
Originally posted by YudanTaiteki:
What bothers me a lot is the viewpoint that several posters (who I won't name)...

[Razz]

quote:
...seem to have, namely that since this is supposedly a site for skeptics, religious views are less welcome here than they would be in a different place.

Some have also said straight out that they feel under no obligation to give religion or religious people any respect whatsoever -- basically equating someone who believes in God to someone who believes in Lights Out or the cactus spiders.

Mainly because no one has ever explained to me why their unsupported ideas are any different from (generic) your unsupported ideas. Because theirs are ULs and yours are beliefs? Because you have faith in yours?

Without any snark people keep getting mad at me for making the comparison without ever explaining to me whats wrong it other then it makes your beliefs look bad and I'm a big meanie.

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"Existence has no pattern save what we imagine after staring at it for too long." - Rorschach, The Watchmen

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Salamander
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Joe Bentley:
Mainly because no one has ever explained to me why their unsupported ideas are any different from (generic) your unsupported ideas. Because theirs are ULs and yours are beliefs? Because you have faith in yours?

Without any snark people keep getting mad at me for making the comparison without ever explaining to me whats wrong it other then it makes your beliefs look bad and I'm a big meanie.

Actually, people have... Silas in particular. It's just that you choose not to listen.

An urban legend can be tested and verified as being true or false (or partway between). The existence of God(s) cannot. We can test for certain types of God (if you recall, I once did so by saying "If God is vengeful and interventionist, may s/he strike me down now!" -- it never happened) but for those that hold the belief that God exists outside of our own reality and does not directly interact, how can we devise a test for that?

Joe, come up with a verifiable test that will prove the existence of a non-interventionist God that exists beyond our senses and I'll be the first person to run it and report back with my results.

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"victory thru self-deception"

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