New document (Atheism vs. Agnosticism), and site status

Last week’s document offering, Reductionism and Emergent Phenomena, was rather dense and highly specific. This is probably not surprising given that I was deliberately trying to start the blog off with a topic where I felt I had something meaningful to add to ongoing discussions about atheism. I have updated that document in a couple of ways to try to make it more accessible:

  • At the prompting of the reader Tweedledum, I generated a 100-word summary of the argument, and then added that to the top of the document as a “short version.” You can think of it like an abstract or an executive summary.
  • I realized that the various arguments, reductionism, the argument from design, and emergent phenomena, would be clearer if I put together some cartoons illustrating them. I have done so and have added them to the document. I’m quite pleased with the cartoons!

 

This week’s offering, Atheism vs. Agnosticism, should be much more accessible. It is quite important to make sure that when discussing complex issues, everyone understands what the others mean by the words they are using, and since this blog is about atheism, it’s probably a good idea for me to make clear early what exactly I mean when I use the term.

Without announcing them, I also have a couple of other documents that are up (I published them before opening up the blog), so I should probably point you in their direction:

  • About: This is a general “about this blog” page, which contains a lot of information from my original post, so you probably don’t need to read that one if you read the blog entry.
  • Why did I decide to call myself an atheist: This is a brief story about when, how, and why I started to call myself an atheist.

 

I had said that I was going start this blog by trying to add (or majorly revise) one document per week. My first document came out on Tuesday. I’m anticipating keeping to the schedule of a new document on or before each Tuesday. Clearly Atheism vs. Agnosticism is significantly before, so you shouldn’t expect the next new topic to be posted until June 24.

Finally, I’ve had several blog posts unrelated to new documents. Feel free to explore!

2 Comments

  1. I have seen your definitions before but I must respectively disagree with this statement:

    “For example, it makes perfect sense to ask a strong atheist for hard evidence for the nonexistence of God, but it makes no sense to ask for such evidence from the weak atheist. ”

    Asking someone to prove a negative is nonsensical because it cannot be done. Your reference to George Bush eating a sandwich is interesting but to my mind only proves the point that you cannot prove a negative.

    I know than many have tried to define the difference in atheism and agnosticism but for me it is simple: a= not theist =belief in god or gods gnostic = knowledge

    Therefore atheism is no belief in god and agnostic is no knowledge of god. When asked for my stance I simply say I see no evidence for god.

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    • You wrote: “Asking someone to prove a negative is nonsensical because it cannot be done.”

      I agree entirely, which is why I later said about strong atheism, “I find this to be a philosophically indefensible position.”

      The issue, in my mind, is that strong atheists, by my definition, do in fact exist, and tend to be very vocal in online debates. This is a problem for weak atheists (again, by my definition), because they provide justification to theists who attempt to paint atheists with a broad brush. I therefore think it is absolutely vital to distinguish between these two positions (strong vs. weak) so that there can be an easy answer to theists who try to lay the burden-of-proof on the atheist.

      The definition of agnosticism simply in terms of knowledge fails, in my opinion, to account for common usage, and also fails to pay appropriate homage to the very interesting (and very dangerous) position it originally stood for, as defined by Thomas Huxley.

      Regardless, I am by no means arguing that my definitions are correct. They are definitions, pure and simple. I can argue that my definitions are useful, but that doesn’t make them the only useful ways to define the words. I am posting this page so that in later discussions, people visiting this website will be able to easily determine what I mean when I use the terms.

      Like

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