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As a scientist, do you believe in god?

As a scientist, do you believe in god?

(2:12) Scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson is asked if he believes in god.

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Guest: (181 days ago)

Notice how he is keen to point out that religion and science aren't mutually exclusive, and that he only refutes one possible deity - that which is supposedly omnipotent and all-good. He's a canny one and his brand of impartial and respectful agnosticism is very appealing. Atheists take note.

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Notice how he is keen to point out that religion and science aren't mutually exclusive, and that he only refutes one possible deity - that which is supposedly omnipotent and all-good. He's a canny one and his brand of impartial and respectful agnosticism is very appealing. Atheists take note.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (181 days ago)

Maybe that's what you want to believe, but I didn't interpret what NDT said as you did, in fact, quite the opposite. NDT said "Productive scientists do not bring their Bible/scriptures/holy book into the lab, because they do not mix there." He said nothing about whether science and religion are mutually exclusive, only that they obviously coexist because they can both be shown empirically to exist.

And did he refute just one possible deity? He said "Every description of god that I've heard holds god to be ..." Was he disputing just one possible deity? I think it sounded more like disputing all deities humans have invented.

He sure is a canny one. He managed to say that every description of god that he's heard cannot be true, and got you to believe he is an impartial and respectful agnostic, whatever that even means.

I hope you are not PA, because that would be another D- for your speciality subject, text analysis.

Original comment

Maybe that's what you want to believe, but I didn't interpret what NDT said as you did, in fact, quite the opposite. NDT said "Productive scientists do not bring their Bible/scriptures/holy book into the lab, because they do not mix there." He said nothing about whether science and religion are mutually exclusive, only that they obviously coexist because they can both be shown empirically to exist.

And did he refute just one possible deity? He said "Every description of god that I've heard holds god to be ..." Was he disputing just one possible deity? I think it sounded more like disputing all deities humans have invented.

He sure is a canny one. He managed to say that every description of god that he's heard cannot be true, and got you to believe he is an impartial and respectful agnostic, whatever that even means.

I hope you are not PA, because that would be another D- for your speciality subject, text analysis.

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Guest: (181 days ago)

Sorry to rain on your parade Walter but Tyson is famously agnostic . Google him .

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Sorry to rain on your parade Walter but Tyson is famously agnostic . Google him .

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Guest: P (181 days ago)

In Tyson's Big Think video he describes very well how atheists like Walter clamour to try and claim himas their own, despite his very clear denial of the atheist label, and his open support for agnosticism. Go figure!

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In Tyson's Big Think video he describes very well how atheists like Walter clamour to try and claim himas their own, despite his very clear denial of the atheist label, and his open support for agnosticism. Go figure!

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (181 days ago)

Big Think is a prepared commentary piece with plenty of opportunity to craft soothing PR friendly language, something which Tyson, as a brilliant science educator, excels at. In an interview with Bill Moyers, he was less generous. LINK

"... despite his very clear denial of the atheist label, and his open support for agnosticism. " Is that the impression you got? Maybe you should watch the video again. LINK "... are you atheist? The only ist I am is a scientist ..." That is a clear denial of all labels, not just atheism. And he goes on to explain that being labelled any ism brings with it the political baggage associated with that ism. "... when you want to have a conversation, they will assert that they already know everything important to know about you, because of that association (with the ism)"

When asked about his stance on god, he says "if I could find a word that came closest, it would be agnostic" . Does that sound like "open support for agnostiscism"? I think you are somewhat exaggerating the point. He goes on to define the difference between agnostic and atheist and chooses a political framework, rather than philosophical. "... atheists I know want to change policy, have debate ... I don't have the time, the interest, the energy, to do any of that ..." He even questions the term atheism. "It's odd the word atheism even exists. I don't play golf. Is there a word for non-golf players?"

Tyson wants to be apolitical. "I'm a scientist, I'm an educator, my goal is to get people thinking straight in the first place. That's what I'm about..." But he has been getting more political because of threats to science funding and encroaching religion into science classes.

I think Tyson's stance on god can be summed up as follows: No evidence, don't bother me. Come back with evidence, then we'll talk. He just says it in the nicest possible way.

Original comment

Big Think is a prepared commentary piece with plenty of opportunity to craft soothing PR friendly language, something which Tyson, as a brilliant science educator, excels at. In an interview with Bill Moyers, he was less generous. LINK

"... despite his very clear denial of the atheist label, and his open support for agnosticism. " Is that the impression you got? Maybe you should watch the video again. LINK "... are you atheist? The only ist I am is a scientist ..." That is a clear denial of all labels, not just atheism. And he goes on to explain that being labelled any ism brings with it the political baggage associated with that ism. "... when you want to have a conversation, they will assert that they already know everything important to know about you, because of that association (with the ism)"

When asked about his stance on god, he says "if I could find a word that came closest, it would be agnostic" . Does that sound like "open support for agnostiscism"? I think you are somewhat exaggerating the point. He goes on to define the difference between agnostic and atheist and chooses a political framework, rather than philosophical. "... atheists I know want to change policy, have debate ... I don't have the time, the interest, the energy, to do any of that ..." He even questions the term atheism. "It's odd the word atheism even exists. I don't play golf. Is there a word for non-golf players?"

Tyson wants to be apolitical. "I'm a scientist, I'm an educator, my goal is to get people thinking straight in the first place. That's what I'm about..." But he has been getting more political because of threats to science funding and encroaching religion into science classes.

I think Tyson's stance on god can be summed up as follows: No evidence, don't bother me. Come back with evidence, then we'll talk. He just says it in the nicest possible way.

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Guest: P (180 days ago)

Wishful thinking, Walt. When he refutes that he is an atheist, and chooses the word agnostic instead (and explains why), then yes that is open support for agnosticism. He is no evangelical campaigner for agnosticism, but who is? You can find numerous other interviews and videos where he echoes the same sentiment. Saying it's all PR until he says something you agree with is what we call denial.

I enjoyed your link but am amazed at how you've interpreted it. He specifies that religion does not belong in the science classroom - that faith and reason cannot exist in the 'same place'. I agree. He also says how the Bible is fine for spiritual and emotional enlightenment. Again, this is exactly what I've been saying. If you share Tyson's view, what do you think is enlightening about religion? To quote Gould (again), they are non-overlapping magisteria, they are different domains that co-exist with different functions. Only the 'fundamentalists, as he calls them, (and atheists), are fruitlessly trying to apply both to the same subject. You have often positioned them against each other, and claimed the support of science for your unscientific belief set....

Original comment

Wishful thinking, Walt. When he refutes that he is an atheist, and chooses the word agnostic instead (and explains why), then yes that is open support for agnosticism. He is no evangelical campaigner for agnosticism, but who is? You can find numerous other interviews and videos where he echoes the same sentiment. Saying it's all PR until he says something you agree with is what we call denial.

I enjoyed your link but am amazed at how you've interpreted it. He specifies that religion does not belong in the science classroom - that faith and reason cannot exist in the 'same place'. I agree. He also says how the Bible is fine for spiritual and emotional enlightenment. Again, this is exactly what I've been saying. If you share Tyson's view, what do you think is enlightening about religion? To quote Gould (again), they are non-overlapping magisteria, they are different domains that co-exist with different functions. Only the 'fundamentalists, as he calls them, (and atheists), are fruitlessly trying to apply both to the same subject. You have often positioned them against each other, and claimed the support of science for your unscientific belief set....

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Guest: P (180 days ago)

... He is absolutely right to question the term atheism and its very existence. You made a similar comparison when talking about people who don't believe in the Loch Ness monster but failed to extend your thinking: People who simply don't believe in something don't identify as a community, don't "strategise", don't evangelise, etc. etc. People that do those things are active believers, and that includes you. It's admirable that he tries to distance himself from this sort of behaviour - it's religious, after-all. Agnosticism is no such community, no such movement, which is why he prefers it.

Tyson's stance on god is: 'I don't believe in this one, but I'm agnostic about the others until I have seen evidence one way or the other, and I don't have the time or the interest to investigate or speculate'. He is careful to criticise specific concepts or parts of religion, without making overall irrational presumptions and condemnations. If only, if only, if only that was the same position as you

Original comment

... He is absolutely right to question the term atheism and its very existence. You made a similar comparison when talking about people who don't believe in the Loch Ness monster but failed to extend your thinking: People who simply don't believe in something don't identify as a community, don't "strategise", don't evangelise, etc. etc. People that do those things are active believers, and that includes you. It's admirable that he tries to distance himself from this sort of behaviour - it's religious, after-all. Agnosticism is no such community, no such movement, which is why he prefers it.

Tyson's stance on god is: 'I don't believe in this one, but I'm agnostic about the others until I have seen evidence one way or the other, and I don't have the time or the interest to investigate or speculate'. He is careful to criticise specific concepts or parts of religion, without making overall irrational presumptions and condemnations. If only, if only, if only that was the same position as you

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (181 days ago)

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. All atheists are agnostics, it's just a matter of degree. I'll elaborate - all atheists who base their atheism on science, are agnostic, because that is the nature of science. People of faith cannot be agnostic because that is the nature of faith.

Tyson's position is the same as mine. He is evidence driven, he says it at 1:24. I don't know any atheist who is not evidence driven.

Original comment

I've said it before, and I'll say it again. All atheists are agnostics, it's just a matter of degree. I'll elaborate - all atheists who base their atheism on science, are agnostic, because that is the nature of science. People of faith cannot be agnostic because that is the nature of faith.

Tyson's position is the same as mine. He is evidence driven, he says it at 1:24. I don't know any atheist who is not evidence driven.

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Guest: P (181 days ago)

Yes, you've said it before. If only repetition was enough to make something true. It's "what you want to believe". In reality, atheists (including yourself) speak with a certainty that is not found in agnosticism, and is not found with Tyson either - he's very clear about that (Big Think). That's why there's the word 'agnostic'. Even on Dawkin's scale, agnosticism is a mid-point between complete faith in a deity, and complete faith in no deity.

Tyson's position IS about evidence because he's agnostic. If he has to describe his position, he says 'agnostic', not 'atheist'. Is that really the same position as you? He disbelieves in a god that is both omnipotent AND benevolent, but knows there is no evidence to disbelieve countless other formations so withholds a broader verdict. He knows that disbelieving in one type of god is not the same as hard atheism....

Original comment

Yes, you've said it before. If only repetition was enough to make something true. It's "what you want to believe". In reality, atheists (including yourself) speak with a certainty that is not found in agnosticism, and is not found with Tyson either - he's very clear about that (Big Think). That's why there's the word 'agnostic'. Even on Dawkin's scale, agnosticism is a mid-point between complete faith in a deity, and complete faith in no deity.

Tyson's position IS about evidence because he's agnostic. If he has to describe his position, he says 'agnostic', not 'atheist'. Is that really the same position as you? He disbelieves in a god that is both omnipotent AND benevolent, but knows there is no evidence to disbelieve countless other formations so withholds a broader verdict. He knows that disbelieving in one type of god is not the same as hard atheism....

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Guest: P (181 days ago)

... Unlike Tyson, you identify as being an atheist. Your position is not actually about evidence. I don't know any atheist who is actually evidence driven, they just say they are - that's not the same. You use your disbelief in a certain god, and a supposed absence of local evidence, to presume that all gods are imaginary. You even have told me elsewhere that an absence of evidence is evidence of absence. That's neither agnostic, nor scientific, nor truly evidence based. It's atheism.

And by the way, your definition of faith is also woefully inaccurate. Many Christians say faith is by very definition agnostic - you can't 'know' (gnosis) which is why it is called faith. Being certain of 'faith' is not the same as being gnostic. I find this easy to believe, because anecdotally, a greater proportion of Christians I know are agnostic compared to the atheists I know.

Original comment

... Unlike Tyson, you identify as being an atheist. Your position is not actually about evidence. I don't know any atheist who is actually evidence driven, they just say they are - that's not the same. You use your disbelief in a certain god, and a supposed absence of local evidence, to presume that all gods are imaginary. You even have told me elsewhere that an absence of evidence is evidence of absence. That's neither agnostic, nor scientific, nor truly evidence based. It's atheism.

And by the way, your definition of faith is also woefully inaccurate. Many Christians say faith is by very definition agnostic - you can't 'know' (gnosis) which is why it is called faith. Being certain of 'faith' is not the same as being gnostic. I find this easy to believe, because anecdotally, a greater proportion of Christians I know are agnostic compared to the atheists I know.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (181 days ago)

"Unlike Tyson, you identify as being an atheist." Do I? I said all atheists are agnostic, so surely I also identify as agnostic. Maybe I'm an atheonostic? I don't like all this identity stuff. It's too close to SJW speak.

"I don't know any atheist who is actually evidence driven, they just say they are ..." Really? What about Tyson? Does he just say he is evidence driven, but actually he's not? The agnostic you admire so much is deluding himself?

"You even have told me elsewhere that an absence of evidence is evidence of absence. That's neither agnostic, nor scientific, nor truly evidence based. It's atheism." That doesn't even make sense. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence in the sense that it is a requirement for something to not exist. Absence of evidence does not prove something does not exist, it only supports it. Keep in mind we're talking about empirical or direct evidence, there's plenty of indirect evidence of god, like the church I see outside my window.

"Many Christians say faith is by very definition agnostic - you can't 'know' (gnosis) which is why it is called faith." Oh please. Stop switching to Latin and stick with English. If you think agnostic means "can't know, so trust god because only he knows", then start your own language.

Original comment

"Unlike Tyson, you identify as being an atheist." Do I? I said all atheists are agnostic, so surely I also identify as agnostic. Maybe I'm an atheonostic? I don't like all this identity stuff. It's too close to SJW speak.

"I don't know any atheist who is actually evidence driven, they just say they are ..." Really? What about Tyson? Does he just say he is evidence driven, but actually he's not? The agnostic you admire so much is deluding himself?

"You even have told me elsewhere that an absence of evidence is evidence of absence. That's neither agnostic, nor scientific, nor truly evidence based. It's atheism." That doesn't even make sense. Absence of evidence is evidence of absence in the sense that it is a requirement for something to not exist. Absence of evidence does not prove something does not exist, it only supports it. Keep in mind we're talking about empirical or direct evidence, there's plenty of indirect evidence of god, like the church I see outside my window.

"Many Christians say faith is by very definition agnostic - you can't 'know' (gnosis) which is why it is called faith." Oh please. Stop switching to Latin and stick with English. If you think agnostic means "can't know, so trust god because only he knows", then start your own language.

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Guest: P (180 days ago)

Tyson isn't an atheist. Didn't you hear him say that? Yes he is evidence driven; he only goes as far as the evidence takes him, without conjecture, so he can't very well be your type of atheist. And yes, you do identify as being an atheist ("I'm an atheist and I think his perspective on love is spot on") Don't be a coward, now. In fact, in practice your stance is hard atheism, and usually comes across as gnostic atheism. If I could be bothered to go back and plunder all the threads where you spout your overconfident atheist evangelism, I'd show you. Tyson is nowhere near your stance but it's promising that you like the sound of his views...

Original comment

Tyson isn't an atheist. Didn't you hear him say that? Yes he is evidence driven; he only goes as far as the evidence takes him, without conjecture, so he can't very well be your type of atheist. And yes, you do identify as being an atheist ("I'm an atheist and I think his perspective on love is spot on") Don't be a coward, now. In fact, in practice your stance is hard atheism, and usually comes across as gnostic atheism. If I could be bothered to go back and plunder all the threads where you spout your overconfident atheist evangelism, I'd show you. Tyson is nowhere near your stance but it's promising that you like the sound of his views...

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Guest: P (180 days ago)

...Thank you for proving you believe in the atheist mantra of absence of evidence. What a good little atheist you are - you've got the dogma nailed. I've tackled this on other threads, but to summarise, it's unscientific - that sort of wooly vague principle isn't found in a lab. As for hard atheism, it's the form of atheism that actively asserts that no deities exist. Instead of just having a passive lack of belief in certain formations of a god, they may make the active claim (for example) that all gods are imaginary, or that no gods exist anywhere in the universe in any form without humanity, or that all religion is bullshit or believed by retards or destructive or false, and that evangelism is a moral imperative etc. etc. etc. Sounds familiar?

I switched to Latin because you really struggle to understand what these terms mean and you have a tendency to redefine them to suit your agenda, so it helps to look at the roots. You say agnostic excludes faith, and I've pointed out that actually the two terms are very compatible - if you don't (or can't) have knowledge about something, you have to have faith or nothing. I think you're going to have to invent your own words - rewriting the dictionary will take you too long.

Original comment

...Thank you for proving you believe in the atheist mantra of absence of evidence. What a good little atheist you are - you've got the dogma nailed. I've tackled this on other threads, but to summarise, it's unscientific - that sort of wooly vague principle isn't found in a lab. As for hard atheism, it's the form of atheism that actively asserts that no deities exist. Instead of just having a passive lack of belief in certain formations of a god, they may make the active claim (for example) that all gods are imaginary, or that no gods exist anywhere in the universe in any form without humanity, or that all religion is bullshit or believed by retards or destructive or false, and that evangelism is a moral imperative etc. etc. etc. Sounds familiar?

I switched to Latin because you really struggle to understand what these terms mean and you have a tendency to redefine them to suit your agenda, so it helps to look at the roots. You say agnostic excludes faith, and I've pointed out that actually the two terms are very compatible - if you don't (or can't) have knowledge about something, you have to have faith or nothing. I think you're going to have to invent your own words - rewriting the dictionary will take you too long.

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Guest: (180 days ago)

Jeepers. This has been gone over enough times, but clearly not everyone gets it. It is not the case that agnosticism is something like "soft atheism." They are concepts on different dimensions. You can be agnostic or not, and atheist otr not. That's four possibilities. Let me clear up.

Agnosticism is about what can or can't be known. The root of the word is "knowledge." An agnostic holds that it is not possible to know whether god exists. Such a person may or may not believe that god exists. Similarly you may be gnostic (that's not a typo) and therefore believe that it is possible to know whether god exists, and on top of that you may believe or not believe in any god.

Atheism is about whether a person actually believes that a god exists. If you cannot truthfully say "I believe that a god exists" then you are an atheist. You can believe without being able to justify it, or perhaps you have demonstrable evidence. But if you don't have belief, you are atheist.

If Neil doesn't have faith he is an atheist. If he doesn't think god is demonstrable in some way he is agnostic. OK?

Original comment

Jeepers. This has been gone over enough times, but clearly not everyone gets it. It is not the case that agnosticism is something like "soft atheism." They are concepts on different dimensions. You can be agnostic or not, and atheist otr not. That's four possibilities. Let me clear up.

Agnosticism is about what can or can't be known. The root of the word is "knowledge." An agnostic holds that it is not possible to know whether god exists. Such a person may or may not believe that god exists. Similarly you may be gnostic (that's not a typo) and therefore believe that it is possible to know whether god exists, and on top of that you may believe or not believe in any god.

Atheism is about whether a person actually believes that a god exists. If you cannot truthfully say "I believe that a god exists" then you are an atheist. You can believe without being able to justify it, or perhaps you have demonstrable evidence. But if you don't have belief, you are atheist.

If Neil doesn't have faith he is an atheist. If he doesn't think god is demonstrable in some way he is agnostic. OK?

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (180 days ago)

We can talk in English or we can talk in Dictionary. I use the most common definitions. Down the pub "atheist" means: I don't believe in god, and "agnostic" means: I'm not sure but probably not.

In Tyson's Big Think clip, he defines the words in a political framework - atheists are active, agnostics don't care. He is agnostic because he doesn't care.

Original comment

We can talk in English or we can talk in Dictionary. I use the most common definitions. Down the pub "atheist" means: I don't believe in god, and "agnostic" means: I'm not sure but probably not.

In Tyson's Big Think clip, he defines the words in a political framework - atheists are active, agnostics don't care. He is agnostic because he doesn't care.

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Guest: P (179 days ago)

"Down the pub"! By gum, how humble and down-to-earth you are, ignoring dictionary definitions in preference to the honest vernacular of decent everyday people. Strange, when in the last thread you were quoting the dictionary to me. Maybe it's just another excuse to create Walter definitions to suit your own ends.

Agnostics don't believe we can know enough to make assertive claims either way. Atheists disagree. Agnostics don't strategise and form communities. Atheists do.

There is nothing agnostic about science. Science holds that the universe can be fundamentally known and measured. In so far as we can know anything at all, we can know that there are two atoms of hydrogen in a water molecule. That's not agnosticism. Agnostic doesn't mean 'we don't everything yet', nor 'we can never be 100% sure of anything'.

Tyson isn't agnostic because he's a scientist. He's agnostic because he hates modern atheism. Don't assume that just because you misunderstand the terms, Tyson does as well.

Original comment

"Down the pub"! By gum, how humble and down-to-earth you are, ignoring dictionary definitions in preference to the honest vernacular of decent everyday people. Strange, when in the last thread you were quoting the dictionary to me. Maybe it's just another excuse to create Walter definitions to suit your own ends.

Agnostics don't believe we can know enough to make assertive claims either way. Atheists disagree. Agnostics don't strategise and form communities. Atheists do.

There is nothing agnostic about science. Science holds that the universe can be fundamentally known and measured. In so far as we can know anything at all, we can know that there are two atoms of hydrogen in a water molecule. That's not agnosticism. Agnostic doesn't mean 'we don't everything yet', nor 'we can never be 100% sure of anything'.

Tyson isn't agnostic because he's a scientist. He's agnostic because he hates modern atheism. Don't assume that just because you misunderstand the terms, Tyson does as well.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (178 days ago)

I did not ignore dictionary definitions in preference to the honest vernacular. I chose the vernacular over a dictionary because it is sufficient for the conversation we were having. If I chose a dictionary definition, I would have had to define which one, otherwise how would you have known which variation of agnostic I meant.

"Science holds that the universe can be fundamentally known and measured." Really? Where does it say that? What about the unobservable universe? How does science expect to measure that?

Science is fundamentally agnostic. It has to be. If you start from nothing and build up a picture from evidence, then that is fundamentally agnostic because you can never be sure there isn't evidence lurking that will falsify your theory. A scientific theory is only fact until a new fact disproves it. And, as I'm sure you'll agree, science is also fundamentally agnostic in spirit. Ask a scientist.

The term "agnostic" was coined in 1869 by Thomas Huxley. Today it is used in many different ways, and that includes 'we don't know everything yet' and 'we can never be 100% sure of anything'. The essence of agnostic involves some form of 'not knowing'. I hate to say it, but the clue is in the Latin.

Original comment

I did not ignore dictionary definitions in preference to the honest vernacular. I chose the vernacular over a dictionary because it is sufficient for the conversation we were having. If I chose a dictionary definition, I would have had to define which one, otherwise how would you have known which variation of agnostic I meant.

"Science holds that the universe can be fundamentally known and measured." Really? Where does it say that? What about the unobservable universe? How does science expect to measure that?

Science is fundamentally agnostic. It has to be. If you start from nothing and build up a picture from evidence, then that is fundamentally agnostic because you can never be sure there isn't evidence lurking that will falsify your theory. A scientific theory is only fact until a new fact disproves it. And, as I'm sure you'll agree, science is also fundamentally agnostic in spirit. Ask a scientist.

The term "agnostic" was coined in 1869 by Thomas Huxley. Today it is used in many different ways, and that includes 'we don't know everything yet' and 'we can never be 100% sure of anything'. The essence of agnostic involves some form of 'not knowing'. I hate to say it, but the clue is in the Latin.

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Guest: P (178 days ago)

No no no no no. Honestly, you are hopelessly confused about agnosticism. If that's really the vernacular, try a different pub. It really isn't sufficient.

No, science is not fundamentally agnostic. That's a total misunderstanding of both science and agnosticism. You ask where it says that science holds that the universe can be fundamentally known and measured? Well, science is the 'systematic study of the natural and physical world' - study is the ;devotion of time and attention to gain knowledge' . OK?

It's obvious that science is about knowledge; with every measurement, every scale, every piece of apparatus, every scientific principle. All of this works on the understanding that the universe is knowable to some extent. No, it doesn't mean to say there aren't currently unobservable parts of the universe, nor that there aren't things we don't know. The premise of science is give us time...

Original comment

No no no no no. Honestly, you are hopelessly confused about agnosticism. If that's really the vernacular, try a different pub. It really isn't sufficient.

No, science is not fundamentally agnostic. That's a total misunderstanding of both science and agnosticism. You ask where it says that science holds that the universe can be fundamentally known and measured? Well, science is the 'systematic study of the natural and physical world' - study is the ;devotion of time and attention to gain knowledge' . OK?

It's obvious that science is about knowledge; with every measurement, every scale, every piece of apparatus, every scientific principle. All of this works on the understanding that the universe is knowable to some extent. No, it doesn't mean to say there aren't currently unobservable parts of the universe, nor that there aren't things we don't know. The premise of science is give us time...

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Guest: P (178 days ago)

Now, you understand the difference between something that we currently don't know, and something that we cannot know?

By your definition of agnosticism, maths is agnostic because we don't know if there are an infinite number of palindromic primes; the English language is agnostic because we don't know all the words currently in use; history is agnostic because we can't know everything that ever happened. In short, everything is agnostic because we can't be sure we know everything about anything. Utter misguided nonsense.

Agnosticism maintains that nothing can be known about deities. There are no no measurements, no scales, no apparatus. No basis. For us, there is no knowledge about god , no evidence.

"Agnostic... you can never be sure there isn't evidence lurking that will falsify your theory". Crumbs. That's not agnosticism, Walt. If you think there may be evidence that can falsify your theory, you're not agnostic .

I obliged and asked a scientist (a chemical engineer) to whom I'm happily married and whose livelihood depends on scientific knowledge - and I quote "the universe can be known and the reason that we don't know parts of it that encourages us to learn". Not agnosticism.

Now return the favour and ask an agnostic. Hint hint.

What's your question?

Original comment

Now, you understand the difference between something that we currently don't know, and something that we cannot know?

By your definition of agnosticism, maths is agnostic because we don't know if there are an infinite number of palindromic primes; the English language is agnostic because we don't know all the words currently in use; history is agnostic because we can't know everything that ever happened. In short, everything is agnostic because we can't be sure we know everything about anything. Utter misguided nonsense.

Agnosticism maintains that nothing can be known about deities. There are no no measurements, no scales, no apparatus. No basis. For us, there is no knowledge about god , no evidence.

"Agnostic... you can never be sure there isn't evidence lurking that will falsify your theory". Crumbs. That's not agnosticism, Walt. If you think there may be evidence that can falsify your theory, you're not agnostic .

I obliged and asked a scientist (a chemical engineer) to whom I'm happily married and whose livelihood depends on scientific knowledge - and I quote "the universe can be known and the reason that we don't know parts of it that encourages us to learn". Not agnosticism.

Now return the favour and ask an agnostic. Hint hint.

What's your question?

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Guest: (178 days ago)

Quick question. According to most religious traditions their deities have intervened or manifested themselves in some way or another. The deities of the major world religions for instance all have the capacity to let you know of their existence. Doesn't your narrow definition of agnosticism rule out all of those religions and deities?

Original comment

Quick question. According to most religious traditions their deities have intervened or manifested themselves in some way or another. The deities of the major world religions for instance all have the capacity to let you know of their existence. Doesn't your narrow definition of agnosticism rule out all of those religions and deities?

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Guest: P (178 days ago)

It's a classical definition of agnosticism and it depends what you call 'rule out'. I think those religions are wrong to think that we can know it was their deity that intervened or manifested itself. We can strongly believe it, we can have faith, but for agnostics we can't know. However, to me that doesn't mean that those deities can't exist in some form, or that the religion is worthless.

Original comment

It's a classical definition of agnosticism and it depends what you call 'rule out'. I think those religions are wrong to think that we can know it was their deity that intervened or manifested itself. We can strongly believe it, we can have faith, but for agnostics we can't know. However, to me that doesn't mean that those deities can't exist in some form, or that the religion is worthless.

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Guest: (178 days ago)

If the biblical accounts are correct, Moses had pretty damn strong evidence for God's existence. To him God must have been just as real as his stick or his sheep or his sandals. He had both knowledge and evidence, and interacted with God regularly. The same goes for Abraham, Noah, Jesus, Mary and a whole bunch of other guys.

Does agnostics claim that those stories cannot be true ("agnosticism maintains that nothing can be known about deities")? Or does agnostics claim that the accounts can be true, but that we have no way of knowing today unless we ourselves manage to establish the same kind of relationship with God as Moses had back in the day ("I think those religions are wrong to think that we can know..")?

Original comment

If the biblical accounts are correct, Moses had pretty damn strong evidence for God's existence. To him God must have been just as real as his stick or his sheep or his sandals. He had both knowledge and evidence, and interacted with God regularly. The same goes for Abraham, Noah, Jesus, Mary and a whole bunch of other guys.

Does agnostics claim that those stories cannot be true ("agnosticism maintains that nothing can be known about deities")? Or does agnostics claim that the accounts can be true, but that we have no way of knowing today unless we ourselves manage to establish the same kind of relationship with God as Moses had back in the day ("I think those religions are wrong to think that we can know..")?

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Guest: P (177 days ago)

If the biblical accounts are correct... that's a big if for an agnostic. Personally, I believe there is no way for Moses to know for certain that he was interacting with the god that he prayed to, and no way of knowing that the evidence he saw was definitely due to a deity. To an agnostic, personal revelation or subjective experience isn't enough to know something. And then, as you suggest, there is also the critical issue for everyone who is not Moses - can we know he was being honest? Again, that doesn't mean the accounts are worthless or invalid - just that we can't know if they are literally true.

However, I know quite a few Christian agnostics with a different approach. They seem to think that certain elements of god's nature can be known from the Bible, but as a whole there is still not enough to truly and fully know an omnipotent godhead in a meaningful way. Other Christian agnostics will say they believe the Bible and have complete faith, but they can never know for certain that it's true. All varying forms of agnosticism.

Original comment

If the biblical accounts are correct... that's a big if for an agnostic. Personally, I believe there is no way for Moses to know for certain that he was interacting with the god that he prayed to, and no way of knowing that the evidence he saw was definitely due to a deity. To an agnostic, personal revelation or subjective experience isn't enough to know something. And then, as you suggest, there is also the critical issue for everyone who is not Moses - can we know he was being honest? Again, that doesn't mean the accounts are worthless or invalid - just that we can't know if they are literally true.

However, I know quite a few Christian agnostics with a different approach. They seem to think that certain elements of god's nature can be known from the Bible, but as a whole there is still not enough to truly and fully know an omnipotent godhead in a meaningful way. Other Christian agnostics will say they believe the Bible and have complete faith, but they can never know for certain that it's true. All varying forms of agnosticism.

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Guest: (177 days ago)

That's an interesting position. Are you saying that even if you met the biblical God personally, there's nothing he could say or do to convince you of his existence? Even if he parted the Red Sea right in front of you and all of your countrymen that wouldn't be enough? Or if he created a tiny universe and a little earth buzzing with life out of nothing in less than a week?

Original comment

That's an interesting position. Are you saying that even if you met the biblical God personally, there's nothing he could say or do to convince you of his existence? Even if he parted the Red Sea right in front of you and all of your countrymen that wouldn't be enough? Or if he created a tiny universe and a little earth buzzing with life out of nothing in less than a week?

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Guest: P (177 days ago)

I think it's a fairly standard position for a genuine agnostic.

Being agnostic means that I currently believe I can't meet a 'biblical god' personally, so that's a hypothetical stretch. I don't believe there is any sort of god whose nature or existence we could know for certain. It's a limitation of our ability to understand, contrasted with a lack of limitation in the concept of god.

In answer to your question, IF (another big if) something that purported to be god appeared in front of me, parted the Red Sea and created a universe - perhaps, maybe, possibly I would stop being agnostic at that point. After-all, the good thing about agnosticism is that you're not so invested in your world-view that you can't envisage being anything else.

Alternatively, I may well still think 'Well this could be a god, but what if it's an illusion?... Or what if it's a lesser god who was made by the real god?... What if it's just some great drugs?... etc. etc. etc.' Unlike an atheist, I wouldn't need to assume those were the case in order to preserve my belief-set - I can just be open to the possibility of uncertainty.

Original comment

I think it's a fairly standard position for a genuine agnostic.

Being agnostic means that I currently believe I can't meet a 'biblical god' personally, so that's a hypothetical stretch. I don't believe there is any sort of god whose nature or existence we could know for certain. It's a limitation of our ability to understand, contrasted with a lack of limitation in the concept of god.

In answer to your question, IF (another big if) something that purported to be god appeared in front of me, parted the Red Sea and created a universe - perhaps, maybe, possibly I would stop being agnostic at that point. After-all, the good thing about agnosticism is that you're not so invested in your world-view that you can't envisage being anything else.

Alternatively, I may well still think 'Well this could be a god, but what if it's an illusion?... Or what if it's a lesser god who was made by the real god?... What if it's just some great drugs?... etc. etc. etc.' Unlike an atheist, I wouldn't need to assume those were the case in order to preserve my belief-set - I can just be open to the possibility of uncertainty.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (176 days ago)

Sounds like you're as atheist as I am, or I'm as agnostic as you are.

"I don't believe there is any sort of god whose nature or existence we could know for certain. It's a limitation of our ability to understand, contrasted with a lack of limitation in the concept of god. " If by that you mean, there are unknowables, then I'm right with you. That's the cat and the stockmarket. You seem to put a high value on unknowables - after all, you expend a lot of effort discussing how unknowables might be knowable. I'm happy to acknowledge there must be unknowables and then move on to the gods we do know about. They seem more relevant in today's world.

"... the good thing about agnosticism is that you're not so invested in your world-view that you can't envisage being anything else. " That's why science is agnostic (adjective, not noun). Scientists are happy to accept that current theories can turn out to be wrong, or incomplete. After all, it has happened throughout history.

Your last paragraph that begins: " Alternatively, I may well still think... " Sorry, I don't understand what you are saying.

"Hard atheism asserts (often aggressively) that there are no gods anywhere (one of many profoundly speculative and unscientific claims), and that religion is therefore a waste of time." Can you name a hard atheist according to your definition? I don't think they exist, and if they do, they are far and few between.

Original comment

Sounds like you're as atheist as I am, or I'm as agnostic as you are.

"I don't believe there is any sort of god whose nature or existence we could know for certain. It's a limitation of our ability to understand, contrasted with a lack of limitation in the concept of god. " If by that you mean, there are unknowables, then I'm right with you. That's the cat and the stockmarket. You seem to put a high value on unknowables - after all, you expend a lot of effort discussing how unknowables might be knowable. I'm happy to acknowledge there must be unknowables and then move on to the gods we do know about. They seem more relevant in today's world.

"... the good thing about agnosticism is that you're not so invested in your world-view that you can't envisage being anything else. " That's why science is agnostic (adjective, not noun). Scientists are happy to accept that current theories can turn out to be wrong, or incomplete. After all, it has happened throughout history.

Your last paragraph that begins: " Alternatively, I may well still think... " Sorry, I don't understand what you are saying.

"Hard atheism asserts (often aggressively) that there are no gods anywhere (one of many profoundly speculative and unscientific claims), and that religion is therefore a waste of time." Can you name a hard atheist according to your definition? I don't think they exist, and if they do, they are far and few between.

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Guest: P (175 days ago)

Walt, you're just repeating the same assertions and clumsy metaphors.

I've explained, as far as I'm concerned there are no gods we know about. People claiming to know about the existence or non-existence of a god isn't the same thing.

I've also explained, science is not agnostic; it's systematic study that tries to measure and record and build principles based on empirical data - things that you cannot do with something that is unknowable. Agnosticism isn't thinking that what we currently know isn't complete or might be disproven - it's thinking that we don't know anything in the first place.

I haven't changed my mind of late, so if you're not a hard atheist and we share the same basic stance then I'm glad you no longer think god only exists in the imagination, or that there are no gods anywhere else in the universe, or that religions are 'untrue' or 'bullsh!t', or that god necessarily introduces contradictions, or that a lack of apparent local empirical evidence suggests there are no gods, etc. etc. Those were just the hard atheistic claims of the old you. If you share my stance, you find a godless universe equally unlikely and speculative.

Great news. I am going to take that and run, before you contradict yourself or start tweaking and redefining and accusing me of being sloppy and PC.

Original comment

Walt, you're just repeating the same assertions and clumsy metaphors.

I've explained, as far as I'm concerned there are no gods we know about. People claiming to know about the existence or non-existence of a god isn't the same thing.

I've also explained, science is not agnostic; it's systematic study that tries to measure and record and build principles based on empirical data - things that you cannot do with something that is unknowable. Agnosticism isn't thinking that what we currently know isn't complete or might be disproven - it's thinking that we don't know anything in the first place.

I haven't changed my mind of late, so if you're not a hard atheist and we share the same basic stance then I'm glad you no longer think god only exists in the imagination, or that there are no gods anywhere else in the universe, or that religions are 'untrue' or 'bullsh!t', or that god necessarily introduces contradictions, or that a lack of apparent local empirical evidence suggests there are no gods, etc. etc. Those were just the hard atheistic claims of the old you. If you share my stance, you find a godless universe equally unlikely and speculative.

Great news. I am going to take that and run, before you contradict yourself or start tweaking and redefining and accusing me of being sloppy and PC.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (175 days ago)

Can you name me a hard atheist according to your definition? Somebody I've heard of or can google.

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Can you name me a hard atheist according to your definition? Somebody I've heard of or can google.

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Guest: P (174 days ago)

You present as a dyed in the wool hard atheist. Those claims of yours that I listed above are all hard atheistic claims, and they are a mere fraction of what you've come out with on here. Read them again. I mean you've even made an aggressive hard atheistic presumptions on this very thread, "the Bible is bullsh!t", based on your belief in no gods. Do you think those types of claims are agnostic? Do you think they're a simple, passive lack of belief (soft atheism)? You're still confused over the terms, or maybe it's a lack of self-awareness.

Original comment

You present as a dyed in the wool hard atheist. Those claims of yours that I listed above are all hard atheistic claims, and they are a mere fraction of what you've come out with on here. Read them again. I mean you've even made an aggressive hard atheistic presumptions on this very thread, "the Bible is bullsh!t", based on your belief in no gods. Do you think those types of claims are agnostic? Do you think they're a simple, passive lack of belief (soft atheism)? You're still confused over the terms, or maybe it's a lack of self-awareness.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (174 days ago)

Can you not name any hard atheist according to your definition, apart from me?

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Can you not name any hard atheist according to your definition, apart from me?

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Guest: P (174 days ago)

I thought you would be a good example, bearing in mind... that's you. Tell me if and why you think you don't count. Which of those statements have you changed your mind about? You can Google fellow New Atheists, anti-theists and hard atheists in your own time.

Original comment

I thought you would be a good example, bearing in mind... that's you. Tell me if and why you think you don't count. Which of those statements have you changed your mind about? You can Google fellow New Atheists, anti-theists and hard atheists in your own time.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (174 days ago)

This is not the first time you misrepresent me. I'm never sure whether it's sloppiness or dishonesty. Maybe it's a bit of both, you tell me.

Let's look at your claim that I think "there are no gods anywhere else in the universe." I have argued that atheists are agnostics, that my beliefs are dictated by evidence, and that there are unknowables - so how do you manage to come to the conclusion that I'm sure that god does not exist?

And can you really not name one person who fits your definition of hard atheist?

Original comment

This is not the first time you misrepresent me. I'm never sure whether it's sloppiness or dishonesty. Maybe it's a bit of both, you tell me.

Let's look at your claim that I think "there are no gods anywhere else in the universe." I have argued that atheists are agnostics, that my beliefs are dictated by evidence, and that there are unknowables - so how do you manage to come to the conclusion that I'm sure that god does not exist?

And can you really not name one person who fits your definition of hard atheist?

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Guest: P (173 days ago)

Perfect! Apparently, I've misrepresented you by saying you inferred that there are no gods anywhere else in the universe, so let's look at that claim:

On the 'As a Scientist...' thread, you claim that "god is man-made" and only exists in our imagination, and on the '8th grade' thread, you claim that therefore "gods are confined to this tiny spot in the universe that we call Earth." You now seem to deny that you believe no gods exist anywhere else. So, do you now think our imagination exists in other parts of the universe, or where you being sloppy or dishonest?

You have said you believe science is agnostic, so therefore in your world everything is agnostic because there's nothing we can be absolutely sure about (hardly the 'pragmatic' approach you once espoused). Meanwhile, you recently quoted a dictionary definition that said agnosticism is the belief that nothing "can be known of the existence or nature of God", but then you constantly refer to the "known gods". Sloppy or dishonest? It's not enough to say "there are unknowables" - you have to believe that a god is one of them....

Original comment

Perfect! Apparently, I've misrepresented you by saying you inferred that there are no gods anywhere else in the universe, so let's look at that claim:

On the 'As a Scientist...' thread, you claim that "god is man-made" and only exists in our imagination, and on the '8th grade' thread, you claim that therefore "gods are confined to this tiny spot in the universe that we call Earth." You now seem to deny that you believe no gods exist anywhere else. So, do you now think our imagination exists in other parts of the universe, or where you being sloppy or dishonest?

You have said you believe science is agnostic, so therefore in your world everything is agnostic because there's nothing we can be absolutely sure about (hardly the 'pragmatic' approach you once espoused). Meanwhile, you recently quoted a dictionary definition that said agnosticism is the belief that nothing "can be known of the existence or nature of God", but then you constantly refer to the "known gods". Sloppy or dishonest? It's not enough to say "there are unknowables" - you have to believe that a god is one of them....

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Guest: P (173 days ago)

...... And where have I said that you are "sure that god does not exist?" Sloppy or dishonest?

No, hard atheists don't necessarily claim they are 100% certain of their beliefs, particularly those like you who seem to think we can never be sure about anything. Instead, the ultimate defining characteristic is that their beliefs are distinctly more than a passive lack of belief (soft atheism), and are a positive assertion. So, do you understand why claims like 'god is man-made', or 'entire religions are 'bullsh!t'', or that 'god necessarily introduces contradictions', are more than a lack of belief? There's no point in naming others like you until you understand the characteristics and can identify it someone you should know well - in yourself. I had written another paragraph to once again describe the key differences between atheism and agnosticism, but I really don't think it's worth it. Tweak (sloppy) and redefine (dishonest).

Original comment

...... And where have I said that you are "sure that god does not exist?" Sloppy or dishonest?

No, hard atheists don't necessarily claim they are 100% certain of their beliefs, particularly those like you who seem to think we can never be sure about anything. Instead, the ultimate defining characteristic is that their beliefs are distinctly more than a passive lack of belief (soft atheism), and are a positive assertion. So, do you understand why claims like 'god is man-made', or 'entire religions are 'bullsh!t'', or that 'god necessarily introduces contradictions', are more than a lack of belief? There's no point in naming others like you until you understand the characteristics and can identify it someone you should know well - in yourself. I had written another paragraph to once again describe the key differences between atheism and agnosticism, but I really don't think it's worth it. Tweak (sloppy) and redefine (dishonest).

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (173 days ago)

"And where have I said that you are "sure that god does not exist?" I put 2 and 2 together and came up with 4. You label me as a hard atheist, and then you define hard atheism as: " Hard atheism asserts (often aggressively) that there are no gods anywhere (one of many profoundly speculative and unscientific claims), and that religion is therefore a waste of time. "

So you've gone from "hard atheism asserts there are no gods anywhere" to " hard atheists don't necessarily claim they are 100% certain of their beliefs " . That's quite a climb down.

Then you say: " the ultimate defining characteristic is that their beliefs are distinctly more than a passive lack of belief ... " So hard atheists are now demoted to anti-religious activists? Is that the definition you want to stick to?

Original comment

"And where have I said that you are "sure that god does not exist?" I put 2 and 2 together and came up with 4. You label me as a hard atheist, and then you define hard atheism as: " Hard atheism asserts (often aggressively) that there are no gods anywhere (one of many profoundly speculative and unscientific claims), and that religion is therefore a waste of time. "

So you've gone from "hard atheism asserts there are no gods anywhere" to " hard atheists don't necessarily claim they are 100% certain of their beliefs " . That's quite a climb down.

Then you say: " the ultimate defining characteristic is that their beliefs are distinctly more than a passive lack of belief ... " So hard atheists are now demoted to anti-religious activists? Is that the definition you want to stick to?

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Guest: P (172 days ago)

No climb-downs, no contradictions. Obviously you can assert something without being 100% sure. I haven’t said hard atheists (or anyone) is necessarily certain of their views - that was just your faulty maths. And why does having more than a passive lack of belief mean you're an "anti-religious activist"? You think not-passive means activist? You're neither passive nor an activist (AFAIK).

OK try this. I'd guess you think that we can gather enough evidence to be confident in saying there are 2 atoms of hydrogen in every molecule of water. Whether you call that knowledge probably depends on the wind direction, but you might say it's beyond reasonable doubt that it's a 'justified, true belief'. Right? Let's forget whether that is agnostic or not.

Here's the clincher; you also seem to think you can gather enough evidence (or find a sufficiently extensive lack of it) to be confident in saying “god is man-made”, for example, (a direct quote). You don’t call that ‘knowledge’, but funnily enough, Hitchens might call you a coward. He thought that when you gather so much evidence that supports your theory, that’s as good as knowledge. Anyway, either way, it isn't agnostic. I don’t think you can gather evidence, or a lack of it, for an unknowable entity. There's nothing here that can provide you with anything close to a ‘justified true belief’.

Original comment

No climb-downs, no contradictions. Obviously you can assert something without being 100% sure. I haven’t said hard atheists (or anyone) is necessarily certain of their views - that was just your faulty maths. And why does having more than a passive lack of belief mean you're an "anti-religious activist"? You think not-passive means activist? You're neither passive nor an activist (AFAIK).

OK try this. I'd guess you think that we can gather enough evidence to be confident in saying there are 2 atoms of hydrogen in every molecule of water. Whether you call that knowledge probably depends on the wind direction, but you might say it's beyond reasonable doubt that it's a 'justified, true belief'. Right? Let's forget whether that is agnostic or not.

Here's the clincher; you also seem to think you can gather enough evidence (or find a sufficiently extensive lack of it) to be confident in saying “god is man-made”, for example, (a direct quote). You don’t call that ‘knowledge’, but funnily enough, Hitchens might call you a coward. He thought that when you gather so much evidence that supports your theory, that’s as good as knowledge. Anyway, either way, it isn't agnostic. I don’t think you can gather evidence, or a lack of it, for an unknowable entity. There's nothing here that can provide you with anything close to a ‘justified true belief’.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (173 days ago)

My claim is not that god is man-made and only exists in our imagination. My claim is that there is no evidence that any of our known gods, the ones we have names for, exist outside of our imagination.

And as to whether an imaginary god is confined to Earth ... if I imagine a pink dog on Mars, nothing changes on Mars. So I would argue that my imaginary pink dog is confined to Earth, or more precisely, to my brain ... and now yours too. Sorry.

You are suffering from thought illusions. These are like optical illusions but for thoughts. You know that an optical illusion is your brain manipulating what you see to match pre-existing ideas; a thought illusion is the same but for thoughts. You have labelled me as a hard atheist, and so your brain will tweak what I say to fit your label. That is how "no evidence that god exists outside of our imagination" becomes "god only exists in our imagination".

Don't worry though, you're not unique, everybody suffers from thought illusions. What's interesting about optical illusions is that even when you know it's an illusion, you still see what your brain thinks you should see. Look at this illusion: LINK Line (a) still looks longer than (b) even after you measure the lengths for yourself with a ruler. I'm pretty sure the same happens with thought illusions.

Science is agnostic. Contrast with faith, which is absolute. If you don't understand what I mean, never mind. It's just an observation which I think is interesting because most people would assume the opposite.

Original comment

My claim is not that god is man-made and only exists in our imagination. My claim is that there is no evidence that any of our known gods, the ones we have names for, exist outside of our imagination.

And as to whether an imaginary god is confined to Earth ... if I imagine a pink dog on Mars, nothing changes on Mars. So I would argue that my imaginary pink dog is confined to Earth, or more precisely, to my brain ... and now yours too. Sorry.

You are suffering from thought illusions. These are like optical illusions but for thoughts. You know that an optical illusion is your brain manipulating what you see to match pre-existing ideas; a thought illusion is the same but for thoughts. You have labelled me as a hard atheist, and so your brain will tweak what I say to fit your label. That is how "no evidence that god exists outside of our imagination" becomes "god only exists in our imagination".

Don't worry though, you're not unique, everybody suffers from thought illusions. What's interesting about optical illusions is that even when you know it's an illusion, you still see what your brain thinks you should see. Look at this illusion: LINK Line (a) still looks longer than (b) even after you measure the lengths for yourself with a ruler. I'm pretty sure the same happens with thought illusions.

Science is agnostic. Contrast with faith, which is absolute. If you don't understand what I mean, never mind. It's just an observation which I think is interesting because most people would assume the opposite.

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Guest: P (172 days ago)

Tweak... redefine... I've directly quoted you where you said “god is man-made” etc. but now that's not your claim, that’s misrepresentation. Brilliant. Yet I say I’m not sure about one aspect of the Biblical god, and you read that as ‘the Bible is bullsh!t’. Come on.

Look, if your imaginary pink dog is confined to Earth, then your imaginary supreme being is too, and therefore (like the dog) it doesn't exist anywhere else in the universe. Add 2 and 2 and make 4. Use logic to extend your reasoning.

You told me that agnosticism is nothing "can be known of the existence or nature" of god. Science is knowledge. Faith is not absolute; it’s a scale like atheism. Both are a state of lacking knowledge, and believing (to whatever degree) instead. There is plenty of doubt and agnosticism in religion.

You didn't manage to tell me why those beliefs of yours are not more than a passive lack of belief. That's your challenge. Don't just say you're agnostic or deny you're a hard atheist. Explain. Otherwise, I guess it must be one of those thought illusions; you're so keen to seem scientific and rational, you’d rather call yourself agnostic. Flattering, I suppose.

Original comment

Tweak... redefine... I've directly quoted you where you said “god is man-made” etc. but now that's not your claim, that’s misrepresentation. Brilliant. Yet I say I’m not sure about one aspect of the Biblical god, and you read that as ‘the Bible is bullsh!t’. Come on.

Look, if your imaginary pink dog is confined to Earth, then your imaginary supreme being is too, and therefore (like the dog) it doesn't exist anywhere else in the universe. Add 2 and 2 and make 4. Use logic to extend your reasoning.

You told me that agnosticism is nothing "can be known of the existence or nature" of god. Science is knowledge. Faith is not absolute; it’s a scale like atheism. Both are a state of lacking knowledge, and believing (to whatever degree) instead. There is plenty of doubt and agnosticism in religion.

You didn't manage to tell me why those beliefs of yours are not more than a passive lack of belief. That's your challenge. Don't just say you're agnostic or deny you're a hard atheist. Explain. Otherwise, I guess it must be one of those thought illusions; you're so keen to seem scientific and rational, you’d rather call yourself agnostic. Flattering, I suppose.

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Guest: (177 days ago)

I am an atheist in the sense that I don't believe in any god. There's no need for a god to make sense of the world around me, and I think the existence of a god is less likely than the alternative. I am also an agnostic in the sense that I believe that the existence of a god can never be disproved. But unlike you, I don't see why the existence of a god couldn't ever be proved. Not much of a god if he wasn't capable of providing evidence for his own existence.

Although you seem to hold the door open for a deist-ish god, I think the implications of your views are pretty much the same as the implications of what you call hard atheism. Both views are rocking the foundations of the major world religions. However as an agnostic you are better at dressing your postition up as impartial and respectful than most atheists. I am not convinced that's doing anyone any favours though. Maybe it's a good thing to challenge belief systems from the bronze age.

Original comment

I am an atheist in the sense that I don't believe in any god. There's no need for a god to make sense of the world around me, and I think the existence of a god is less likely than the alternative. I am also an agnostic in the sense that I believe that the existence of a god can never be disproved. But unlike you, I don't see why the existence of a god couldn't ever be proved. Not much of a god if he wasn't capable of providing evidence for his own existence.

Although you seem to hold the door open for a deist-ish god, I think the implications of your views are pretty much the same as the implications of what you call hard atheism. Both views are rocking the foundations of the major world religions. However as an agnostic you are better at dressing your postition up as impartial and respectful than most atheists. I am not convinced that's doing anyone any favours though. Maybe it's a good thing to challenge belief systems from the bronze age.

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Guest: P (177 days ago)

While like you I don't have a belief in any specific god, I don't have a belief that the universe is without such a thing either. In this way, my agnosticism is more impartial. In fact, if anything I think a god-less universe is less likely, though my position borders on ignosticism - that we can't really decide what we can know about a god until we agree on what a god is, and that will never happen. As I said, the concept is too broad.

"Not much of a god if he wasn't capable of providing evidence for his own existence" - that's a peculiarly religious interpretation of a god - a male personality with an interest in convincing human beings of his existence, maybe? My view is still that even if god was such a thing, the evidence we would end up with couldn't be conclusive. Every scientist would be looking for an experiment to explain the evidence without using the god word, every magician would be looking for the tricks, every pharmacist the drugs, etc. ...

Original comment

While like you I don't have a belief in any specific god, I don't have a belief that the universe is without such a thing either. In this way, my agnosticism is more impartial. In fact, if anything I think a god-less universe is less likely, though my position borders on ignosticism - that we can't really decide what we can know about a god until we agree on what a god is, and that will never happen. As I said, the concept is too broad.

"Not much of a god if he wasn't capable of providing evidence for his own existence" - that's a peculiarly religious interpretation of a god - a male personality with an interest in convincing human beings of his existence, maybe? My view is still that even if god was such a thing, the evidence we would end up with couldn't be conclusive. Every scientist would be looking for an experiment to explain the evidence without using the god word, every magician would be looking for the tricks, every pharmacist the drugs, etc. ...

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Guest: P (177 days ago)

... I think the implications of my views are very different to what you suggest, and very different to those of hard atheism. Hard atheism asserts (often aggressively) that there are no gods anywhere (one of many profoundly speculative and unscientific claims), and that religion is therefore a waste of time. I don't say there are no gods, nor even that there isn't the Christian god. We don't know. I also know more agnostic religious people than agnostic atheists, because most atheists these days are hard atheists (basically a gnostic position), whereas the religious people often talk of faith and belief.

If anything I am pro-religion. The fact that its veracity can't necessarily be known doesn't invalidate it. Every religious person I know uses their faith to lead a better, more benevolent life. I honestly can't say that about the atheists who seem to use their belief-set to denounce and exclude. For me, the parts of some religion that I hate are the divisiveness, the condemnation, the evangelism - and feeling the need to "challenge belief systems" that you disagree with is very much part of that same mindset.

Original comment

... I think the implications of my views are very different to what you suggest, and very different to those of hard atheism. Hard atheism asserts (often aggressively) that there are no gods anywhere (one of many profoundly speculative and unscientific claims), and that religion is therefore a waste of time. I don't say there are no gods, nor even that there isn't the Christian god. We don't know. I also know more agnostic religious people than agnostic atheists, because most atheists these days are hard atheists (basically a gnostic position), whereas the religious people often talk of faith and belief.

If anything I am pro-religion. The fact that its veracity can't necessarily be known doesn't invalidate it. Every religious person I know uses their faith to lead a better, more benevolent life. I honestly can't say that about the atheists who seem to use their belief-set to denounce and exclude. For me, the parts of some religion that I hate are the divisiveness, the condemnation, the evangelism - and feeling the need to "challenge belief systems" that you disagree with is very much part of that same mindset.

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Guest: (176 days ago)

Written communication is difficult. I feel you keep contradicting yourself, but it's probably just me missing your points. The conclusions I drew regarding the implications of your position might be off.

A couple of final thoughts:

- If God sat down with a team of scientists in a controlled environment, and he reversed gravity a couple of times, created 7 new elements and one new dimension, altered the speed of light, etc, I can certainly imagine that his existence could be established as a scientific fact. Whether that would count as conclusive evidence is another question. After all there's still some contoversy about evolution, climate change, plate tectonics, etc. We don't really have conclusive evidence for anything when you think about it. Everything can be questioned. Do you even exist yourself?

- And yes, if a belief system is falsified by science and rationality, or in contradiction with commonly accepted morality I think it should definetly be challenged. That goes for jihadists killing French cartoonists and bombing British kids, creationists lying to their children in American schools, "God's chosen people" oppressing and displacing the local Palestinians in the name of God, the list goes on and on.

Original comment

Written communication is difficult. I feel you keep contradicting yourself, but it's probably just me missing your points. The conclusions I drew regarding the implications of your position might be off.

A couple of final thoughts:

- If God sat down with a team of scientists in a controlled environment, and he reversed gravity a couple of times, created 7 new elements and one new dimension, altered the speed of light, etc, I can certainly imagine that his existence could be established as a scientific fact. Whether that would count as conclusive evidence is another question. After all there's still some contoversy about evolution, climate change, plate tectonics, etc. We don't really have conclusive evidence for anything when you think about it. Everything can be questioned. Do you even exist yourself?

- And yes, if a belief system is falsified by science and rationality, or in contradiction with commonly accepted morality I think it should definetly be challenged. That goes for jihadists killing French cartoonists and bombing British kids, creationists lying to their children in American schools, "God's chosen people" oppressing and displacing the local Palestinians in the name of God, the list goes on and on.

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Guest: P (176 days ago)

.

If you think I am contradicting myself, then please do share. I have held various views throughout my life, and I feel my agnosticism is hard-earned and long-considered. I'd say I even came to it because it seemed to have far fewer contradictions that my earlier beliefs (inherited atheism).

You are still missing the point about god sitting down with scientists; an agnostic thinks that such a thing just can't happen. You are basically asking what we would do if god COULD be known, and measured and proven in the same way as any scientific fact. You may as well ask the Pope what he would do if Richard Dawkins disproved the virgin birth, or ask Dawkins what he would do if the Pope brought god down from heaven and got him creating new elements. In any of these rather speculative situations, we may all alter our stance. No, it is not the ultimate in solipsism or skepticism - no 'how do we know anything?' nonsense. It is entirely reasonable to believe that most things we have around us, that are repeatedly measurable in multiple ways from numerous perspectives, are knowable - and in contrast, vague metaphysical entities with various differing descriptions and no universally accepted evidence are not.

Original comment

.

If you think I am contradicting myself, then please do share. I have held various views throughout my life, and I feel my agnosticism is hard-earned and long-considered. I'd say I even came to it because it seemed to have far fewer contradictions that my earlier beliefs (inherited atheism).

You are still missing the point about god sitting down with scientists; an agnostic thinks that such a thing just can't happen. You are basically asking what we would do if god COULD be known, and measured and proven in the same way as any scientific fact. You may as well ask the Pope what he would do if Richard Dawkins disproved the virgin birth, or ask Dawkins what he would do if the Pope brought god down from heaven and got him creating new elements. In any of these rather speculative situations, we may all alter our stance. No, it is not the ultimate in solipsism or skepticism - no 'how do we know anything?' nonsense. It is entirely reasonable to believe that most things we have around us, that are repeatedly measurable in multiple ways from numerous perspectives, are knowable - and in contrast, vague metaphysical entities with various differing descriptions and no universally accepted evidence are not.

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Guest: P (176 days ago)

Rationality has never falsified any religion - other than logic, rationality doesn't do that. I even believe there are common moderate forms of religion that are more rational than hard atheism.

And no religion has been falsified by science (non-overlapping magisteria) - a religion isn't a single claim, amenable to a binary true or false marker. Yes, certain claims within religions are refutable, but the religions as a whole are broader and stronger than individual tenets.

While we can easily cherry-pick the destructive examples of religion (or politics, or drugs, or business), as a whole I would argue that the effect that religion has on the billions of followers world-wide is cohesive and benevolent. Such beliefs have not only given us some of the greatest examples of human achievement across domains from art to physics, but have provided solace and comfort to the majority of humans that have ever lived. The sensible expectation - not just for religion, not for politics, but all round - is that we should challenge actions that damage the freedom of involuntary innocents. Again, challenging the mere beliefs of people you disagree with when they have no impact on you or others, just because you think your belief-set is special or more rational, is the kind of religious mentality that irritates me..

Original comment

Rationality has never falsified any religion - other than logic, rationality doesn't do that. I even believe there are common moderate forms of religion that are more rational than hard atheism.

And no religion has been falsified by science (non-overlapping magisteria) - a religion isn't a single claim, amenable to a binary true or false marker. Yes, certain claims within religions are refutable, but the religions as a whole are broader and stronger than individual tenets.

While we can easily cherry-pick the destructive examples of religion (or politics, or drugs, or business), as a whole I would argue that the effect that religion has on the billions of followers world-wide is cohesive and benevolent. Such beliefs have not only given us some of the greatest examples of human achievement across domains from art to physics, but have provided solace and comfort to the majority of humans that have ever lived. The sensible expectation - not just for religion, not for politics, but all round - is that we should challenge actions that damage the freedom of involuntary innocents. Again, challenging the mere beliefs of people you disagree with when they have no impact on you or others, just because you think your belief-set is special or more rational, is the kind of religious mentality that irritates me..

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Guest: (176 days ago)

"You are still missing the point about god sitting down with scientists; an agnostic thinks that such a thing just can't happen."

That means you are limiting the kinds of gods you are agnostic about. An old testament god would surely be able to sit down with scientists at his will. The same with Jesus (and Jesus is God, remember). You are only agnostic about the watered down deist-ish kind of gods. If Neil had been honest about that, the fundamentalist Christians (whom he is desperately trying not to insult) would choke on their morning coffee. Seems to me like he's not so impartial and respectful after all.

Original comment

"You are still missing the point about god sitting down with scientists; an agnostic thinks that such a thing just can't happen."

That means you are limiting the kinds of gods you are agnostic about. An old testament god would surely be able to sit down with scientists at his will. The same with Jesus (and Jesus is God, remember). You are only agnostic about the watered down deist-ish kind of gods. If Neil had been honest about that, the fundamentalist Christians (whom he is desperately trying not to insult) would choke on their morning coffee. Seems to me like he's not so impartial and respectful after all.

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Guest: P (175 days ago)

I can't speak for Tyson - just saying his explicit identification with agnosticism over atheism should not be glossed over by wishful atheists. I don't believe he is trying not to insult people, nor trying to be 'impartial and respectful' - the whole "PR" excuse for denying the honesty of his views doesn't wash.

No, it doesn't mean there are limits on the gods that I'm agnostic about; it means there are limits on the type of gods there can be. I repeat, I don't believe there can be a god precisely as described in the old testament, nor one that can sit down with scientists. You are still hypothesisng a presumptious situation; your question is basically, 'Why aren't you agnostic about the type of god we can know about?' To me, there is no such god. A god is so far beyond the realms of empirical evidence that knowing anything is impossible. I also acknowledge that some followers believe their god actually chooses not to provide incontovertible evidence for his existence, because faith is supposed to be a test rather than a foregone conclusion. Who knows?

But I am not refuting a religion or even a god; there could still be a single omnipotent creator god that the Bible is clumsily trying to understand, and the religion could still be a positive guiding force.

Anyway, tell me where you think I've contradicted myself.

Original comment

I can't speak for Tyson - just saying his explicit identification with agnosticism over atheism should not be glossed over by wishful atheists. I don't believe he is trying not to insult people, nor trying to be 'impartial and respectful' - the whole "PR" excuse for denying the honesty of his views doesn't wash.

No, it doesn't mean there are limits on the gods that I'm agnostic about; it means there are limits on the type of gods there can be. I repeat, I don't believe there can be a god precisely as described in the old testament, nor one that can sit down with scientists. You are still hypothesisng a presumptious situation; your question is basically, 'Why aren't you agnostic about the type of god we can know about?' To me, there is no such god. A god is so far beyond the realms of empirical evidence that knowing anything is impossible. I also acknowledge that some followers believe their god actually chooses not to provide incontovertible evidence for his existence, because faith is supposed to be a test rather than a foregone conclusion. Who knows?

But I am not refuting a religion or even a god; there could still be a single omnipotent creator god that the Bible is clumsily trying to understand, and the religion could still be a positive guiding force.

Anyway, tell me where you think I've contradicted myself.

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Guest: (175 days ago)

"I am not refuting a religion or even a god.." Haha, but you just refuted the old testament god ("I don't believe there can be a god precisely as described in the old testament"). By inference that would also include the Christian, the Muslim and the Jewish gods since they are all more or less the same. So much for agnosticism.

Sure religion can be a positive guiding force. It often is. But it can also turn people into dumb obedient sheep and cold-blooded murderers. I am pretty sure that through history more people have been killed than saved by religious zealots.

Original comment

"I am not refuting a religion or even a god.." Haha, but you just refuted the old testament god ("I don't believe there can be a god precisely as described in the old testament"). By inference that would also include the Christian, the Muslim and the Jewish gods since they are all more or less the same. So much for agnosticism.

Sure religion can be a positive guiding force. It often is. But it can also turn people into dumb obedient sheep and cold-blooded murderers. I am pretty sure that through history more people have been killed than saved by religious zealots.

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Guest: P (175 days ago)

No, read again carefully; I said I don't believe there can be a god precisely as described in the old testament, but that the single omnipotent creator god that it is trying to describe could well exist. I disagree with the specific claim (where they rarely make it) that god can be known, but refuting a particular description or characteristic is not claiming the god doesn't exist at all. Do you see? It's an important distinction. There's a cargo cult in Vanuatu that believes Prince Philip is the son of a mountain spirit. I can safely say that I do not believe in the precise descriptions of Prince Philip in their customs, but that doesn't mean I think that the Prince Philip that they are trying to describe doesn't exist. OK?

I don't know how one would go about enumerating who has been saved by zealots (strangely unfalsifiable belief for someone like you), nor which murders were down exclusively to religion rather than politics, power and culture etc. I'm pretty sure that more people have lived peaceful, hopeful, and orderly lives due to religion than were killed by zealots. Unfortunately, as is often the case, you seem to be letting anti-religious sentiment dictate your theological position, when theism and religion are not the same.

So anyway, I'm still waiting to hear where I've contradicted myself.

Original comment

No, read again carefully; I said I don't believe there can be a god precisely as described in the old testament, but that the single omnipotent creator god that it is trying to describe could well exist. I disagree with the specific claim (where they rarely make it) that god can be known, but refuting a particular description or characteristic is not claiming the god doesn't exist at all. Do you see? It's an important distinction. There's a cargo cult in Vanuatu that believes Prince Philip is the son of a mountain spirit. I can safely say that I do not believe in the precise descriptions of Prince Philip in their customs, but that doesn't mean I think that the Prince Philip that they are trying to describe doesn't exist. OK?

I don't know how one would go about enumerating who has been saved by zealots (strangely unfalsifiable belief for someone like you), nor which murders were down exclusively to religion rather than politics, power and culture etc. I'm pretty sure that more people have lived peaceful, hopeful, and orderly lives due to religion than were killed by zealots. Unfortunately, as is often the case, you seem to be letting anti-religious sentiment dictate your theological position, when theism and religion are not the same.

So anyway, I'm still waiting to hear where I've contradicted myself.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (175 days ago)

So your position on the Biblical god is that the Bible is bullshit but those who wrote it may be onto something, if only they realised that that something is unknowable. That was my position when I handed in a bullshit essay at school, but teacher didn't buy it.

I'm not clear on your position on unknowables. In your mind, is there definitely a "supreme creator" who is unknowable, or is it just maybe?

Original comment

So your position on the Biblical god is that the Bible is bullshit but those who wrote it may be onto something, if only they realised that that something is unknowable. That was my position when I handed in a bullshit essay at school, but teacher didn't buy it.

I'm not clear on your position on unknowables. In your mind, is there definitely a "supreme creator" who is unknowable, or is it just maybe?

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Guest: P (174 days ago)

I don't know if you genuinely misunderstand, or if you're pretending because you want a rise. Where did I say the "Bible is bullsh!t"? What is this atheist obsession with putting words into people's mouths? I totally understand what Tyson was getting at now. It's a very weird trait of your faith.

My only relevant disagreement is that their god is knowable - but there are plenty of religious people that don't think 'he' is either... in fact, the Bible often calls its god literally unknowable, and constantly refers to faith rather than knowledge. I agree with the teachings of the Christ character, (the backbone of Christianity), and I think the whole tome is a positive and enlightening text. I also think their creator god could well exist - but we currently can't and don't know. You read that as 'the Bible is bullsh!t'? What would you give yourself for text analysis, Professor Ego?

Stop desperately projecting your brainwashing onto me - been there, burnt the t-shirt!

Original comment

I don't know if you genuinely misunderstand, or if you're pretending because you want a rise. Where did I say the "Bible is bullsh!t"? What is this atheist obsession with putting words into people's mouths? I totally understand what Tyson was getting at now. It's a very weird trait of your faith.

My only relevant disagreement is that their god is knowable - but there are plenty of religious people that don't think 'he' is either... in fact, the Bible often calls its god literally unknowable, and constantly refers to faith rather than knowledge. I agree with the teachings of the Christ character, (the backbone of Christianity), and I think the whole tome is a positive and enlightening text. I also think their creator god could well exist - but we currently can't and don't know. You read that as 'the Bible is bullsh!t'? What would you give yourself for text analysis, Professor Ego?

Stop desperately projecting your brainwashing onto me - been there, burnt the t-shirt!

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (173 days ago)

Fair enough, you didn't say the Bible is bullshit, you said it is untrue, or words to that effect. I didn't think "untrue" was strong enough so I changed it, and I shouldn't have. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardbrobe is also untrue, but it never claims to be true. Holy books are a different kettle of fish. Not only do they claim to be true, but their followers go out of their way to persuade others to change their lives accordingly.

So I browsed the dictionary for another word, and came across "bullshitting" defined as: talk nonsense to (someone) in an attempt to deceive them. It seemed a better word because it added the element of deception.

But this is the point. Atheists don't get animated because the stories in holy books are not literally true, or even that some followers go out of their way to spread their beliefs. The problem is that they often succeed - so we end up with a world where religious crazies are a significant problem. Sure many (most?) religious people do good and get positive inspiration from their religion, but religion is not required for these positives. Religion is however required for much of the negatives. People who hate gays because their religion tells them to, probably would not hate gays if they weren't religious.

What is your reasoning for believing that god cannot be knowable?

And also, do you think there definitely is an unknowable "supreme creator", or just maybe?

Original comment

Fair enough, you didn't say the Bible is bullshit, you said it is untrue, or words to that effect. I didn't think "untrue" was strong enough so I changed it, and I shouldn't have. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardbrobe is also untrue, but it never claims to be true. Holy books are a different kettle of fish. Not only do they claim to be true, but their followers go out of their way to persuade others to change their lives accordingly.

So I browsed the dictionary for another word, and came across "bullshitting" defined as: talk nonsense to (someone) in an attempt to deceive them. It seemed a better word because it added the element of deception.

But this is the point. Atheists don't get animated because the stories in holy books are not literally true, or even that some followers go out of their way to spread their beliefs. The problem is that they often succeed - so we end up with a world where religious crazies are a significant problem. Sure many (most?) religious people do good and get positive inspiration from their religion, but religion is not required for these positives. Religion is however required for much of the negatives. People who hate gays because their religion tells them to, probably would not hate gays if they weren't religious.

What is your reasoning for believing that god cannot be knowable?

And also, do you think there definitely is an unknowable "supreme creator", or just maybe?

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Guest: P (173 days ago)

Oh another. I can't really be bothered to get back into this - I'm more interested in your response to my other comment. But for someone with a keen eye for sloppiness, it's worth pointing out that I actually said "I don't believe there can be a god precisely as described in the old testament", and you managed to interpret that as 'the Bible is untrue'. Come on. That's a stretch, even for you. I appreciate you'll never read it, but the Bible is full of parables, unapologetic allegory and metaphor, poetry (psalms), moral imperatives, letters, and discussions. Even for someone as black and white as you, such a book can't simply be true or false, and certainly not purely on the basis of one controversial characteristic of the deity that is disputed anyway.

Anyway, I'm thrilled that you dislike people going out of their way to successfully spread their beliefs. I'm sure you will be just as vigilant with the atheists that do so, and will curb these tendencies within yourself too.

Original comment

Oh another. I can't really be bothered to get back into this - I'm more interested in your response to my other comment. But for someone with a keen eye for sloppiness, it's worth pointing out that I actually said "I don't believe there can be a god precisely as described in the old testament", and you managed to interpret that as 'the Bible is untrue'. Come on. That's a stretch, even for you. I appreciate you'll never read it, but the Bible is full of parables, unapologetic allegory and metaphor, poetry (psalms), moral imperatives, letters, and discussions. Even for someone as black and white as you, such a book can't simply be true or false, and certainly not purely on the basis of one controversial characteristic of the deity that is disputed anyway.

Anyway, I'm thrilled that you dislike people going out of their way to successfully spread their beliefs. I'm sure you will be just as vigilant with the atheists that do so, and will curb these tendencies within yourself too.

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Guest: (175 days ago)

Haha, yeah that's OK, I understand now. No contradicions whatsoever. You're agnostic about the Christian god, but only if he is not like the god the Bible describes. You're agnostic about the cargo cult god, but only if he is not like the god the islanders actually believe in.

Another thing, by the definition of omnipotence, a god who is omnipotent has the capacity to let himself be known.

Original comment

Haha, yeah that's OK, I understand now. No contradicions whatsoever. You're agnostic about the Christian god, but only if he is not like the god the Bible describes. You're agnostic about the cargo cult god, but only if he is not like the god the islanders actually believe in.

Another thing, by the definition of omnipotence, a god who is omnipotent has the capacity to let himself be known.

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Guest: P (175 days ago)

Wow, so you really don't understand. Back to basics. The word god is presumably means a supreme creator, right? I think religions would agree on that. The other descriptions people have in place vary - maybe he's part of a trinity, maybe he's the leader of a pantheon, maybe he's alone, etc. etc. But you don't think I can disagree with a specific description without denying that the god itself exists? Hmm. OK.

To hammer home your amusing contradiction, you think that "Christian, the Muslim and the Jewish gods... are all more or less the same". So let me check; a god that is split into a triune that interacts with humanity via his son, is the very same god as a strictly monotheistic who exists alone... and yet a god that is part of a triune, who sends his only son to earth, and is provable, definitely can't be the same god as one that is part of a triune, sends his only son to earth, but is not provable? How many traits can change before it's believing in a different god? Have a think and get back to me.

Original comment

Wow, so you really don't understand. Back to basics. The word god is presumably means a supreme creator, right? I think religions would agree on that. The other descriptions people have in place vary - maybe he's part of a trinity, maybe he's the leader of a pantheon, maybe he's alone, etc. etc. But you don't think I can disagree with a specific description without denying that the god itself exists? Hmm. OK.

To hammer home your amusing contradiction, you think that "Christian, the Muslim and the Jewish gods... are all more or less the same". So let me check; a god that is split into a triune that interacts with humanity via his son, is the very same god as a strictly monotheistic who exists alone... and yet a god that is part of a triune, who sends his only son to earth, and is provable, definitely can't be the same god as one that is part of a triune, sends his only son to earth, but is not provable? How many traits can change before it's believing in a different god? Have a think and get back to me.

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Guest: (173 days ago)

Well, you're free to believe whatever you want. My problem is that I feel you sail under false colours.

As I interpret you, you are refuting all interaction between a god and human beings which could potentially be observed or measured by a scientist. That means most of the Bible or any other religious text is bogus in your eyes. Yet you present yourself as agnostic of the Christian god. But guess what, if you refute 90% of what the Christian god has ever done, you're probably more atheist than me.

Original comment

Well, you're free to believe whatever you want. My problem is that I feel you sail under false colours.

As I interpret you, you are refuting all interaction between a god and human beings which could potentially be observed or measured by a scientist. That means most of the Bible or any other religious text is bogus in your eyes. Yet you present yourself as agnostic of the Christian god. But guess what, if you refute 90% of what the Christian god has ever done, you're probably more atheist than me.

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Guest: P (173 days ago)

Very generous of you. I'm not surprised you're trying to claim my views, like they did with Tyson. Smacks of desperation but I suppose it bolsters your numbers.

I don't see why you think 90% of the Christian god's actions were categorically provable or knowable, particularly when the Bible is actually full of references to the unknowability of god and how faith is a test.

But what you still fail to understand is even if I thought every supposedly knowable godly action in the Bible was a complete lie, that wouldn't make me an atheist. I'm amazed you don't get this. Even if I thought there wasn't a single word of truth in the entire Bible, I could still believe in the possibility of a supreme being, a creator god, that they are all praying to. You think that means I'm talking about a different god - out of interest, how many supreme creator gods do you think there are? For the record, I've described below what I actually think of the Bible. Try hard not to project your views onto me.

Anyway, as I've said, I find the idea of a godless universe equally (or possibly less) likely than the idea of there being some form of god, but currently we do not and cannot know, and because I believe it is unknowable, there is no evidence that can reliably allow me to guess. If that's your position too, then good on you. You're not much of an atheist.

Original comment

Very generous of you. I'm not surprised you're trying to claim my views, like they did with Tyson. Smacks of desperation but I suppose it bolsters your numbers.

I don't see why you think 90% of the Christian god's actions were categorically provable or knowable, particularly when the Bible is actually full of references to the unknowability of god and how faith is a test.

But what you still fail to understand is even if I thought every supposedly knowable godly action in the Bible was a complete lie, that wouldn't make me an atheist. I'm amazed you don't get this. Even if I thought there wasn't a single word of truth in the entire Bible, I could still believe in the possibility of a supreme being, a creator god, that they are all praying to. You think that means I'm talking about a different god - out of interest, how many supreme creator gods do you think there are? For the record, I've described below what I actually think of the Bible. Try hard not to project your views onto me.

Anyway, as I've said, I find the idea of a godless universe equally (or possibly less) likely than the idea of there being some form of god, but currently we do not and cannot know, and because I believe it is unknowable, there is no evidence that can reliably allow me to guess. If that's your position too, then good on you. You're not much of an atheist.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (172 days ago)

After all this time, I think I now understand your position. Is this a good summation? Every religion is a human attempt to describe the same "supreme being". They fail in terms of "accuracy" because god is unknowable and cannot be knowable to humans. You think the existence of an unknowable "supreme being" to be more likely than not.

Is that fair? Feel free to tweak.

Original comment

After all this time, I think I now understand your position. Is this a good summation? Every religion is a human attempt to describe the same "supreme being". They fail in terms of "accuracy" because god is unknowable and cannot be knowable to humans. You think the existence of an unknowable "supreme being" to be more likely than not.

Is that fair? Feel free to tweak.

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Guest: P (172 days ago)

Ooh. For you, that’s not bad. My tweak would be that perhaps they fail in accuracy (we don’t know and they can’t decide), and that god isn’t currently knowable. Pike (or ‘Guest’) can think of hypothetical situations that would stop my agnosticism, as I can think of situations that could stop your atheism, but that’s not the point.

I have a greater belief in some sort of god existing in some form, than the universe being entirely godless (but I don't think probability is the right language to use). I think religions are positive and benevolent ways of trying to access the inaccessible, and that sacred texts are full of meaning and truth, but not scientific truth. Non-overlapping magisteria. Science is not agnostic, but is the constant pursuit to improve and refine knowledge based on currently incontrovertible empirical evidence. Faith is more agnostic, in the absence of knowledge and incontrovertible empirical evidence.

Any questions?

Original comment

Ooh. For you, that’s not bad. My tweak would be that perhaps they fail in accuracy (we don’t know and they can’t decide), and that god isn’t currently knowable. Pike (or ‘Guest’) can think of hypothetical situations that would stop my agnosticism, as I can think of situations that could stop your atheism, but that’s not the point.

I have a greater belief in some sort of god existing in some form, than the universe being entirely godless (but I don't think probability is the right language to use). I think religions are positive and benevolent ways of trying to access the inaccessible, and that sacred texts are full of meaning and truth, but not scientific truth. Non-overlapping magisteria. Science is not agnostic, but is the constant pursuit to improve and refine knowledge based on currently incontrovertible empirical evidence. Faith is more agnostic, in the absence of knowledge and incontrovertible empirical evidence.

Any questions?

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (171 days ago)

Your beliefs are certainly novel, at least to me. I haven't come across them before.

I think we need to agree on the definition of "unknowable". There are 'known unknowables', and 'unknown unknowables'. An example of a 'known unknowable' is the unobservable parts of the universe. Or what happened pre Big Bang. We know there's something going on, but we'll never be able to figure it out, only speculate.

An example of an 'unknown unknowable' is the stockmarket from the point of view of a cat. A cat can never imagine the stockmarket because its brain is limited. If it evolved to be able to, it wouldn't be a cat anymore. Since we are talking about humans, an 'unknown unknowable' cannot become knowable to humans. Or maybe it can, I guess we'll never know. While the world burns, I can see a first-world philosophy class debate looming.

What sort of unknowable god is yours? Known or unknown?

Original comment

Your beliefs are certainly novel, at least to me. I haven't come across them before.

I think we need to agree on the definition of "unknowable". There are 'known unknowables', and 'unknown unknowables'. An example of a 'known unknowable' is the unobservable parts of the universe. Or what happened pre Big Bang. We know there's something going on, but we'll never be able to figure it out, only speculate.

An example of an 'unknown unknowable' is the stockmarket from the point of view of a cat. A cat can never imagine the stockmarket because its brain is limited. If it evolved to be able to, it wouldn't be a cat anymore. Since we are talking about humans, an 'unknown unknowable' cannot become knowable to humans. Or maybe it can, I guess we'll never know. While the world burns, I can see a first-world philosophy class debate looming.

What sort of unknowable god is yours? Known or unknown?

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Guest: P (170 days ago)

You seem to be using ‘know’ in two different ways. For you, we may not know Allah or the origins of the universe (or even be able to know them), but we ‘know of’ them so therefore they are ‘known’. For me, ‘knowing of’ those concepts is little more than having a label for them, and most definitely doesn’t mean they are known. And knowing that something is unknowable (in the unlikely event that we can) also doesn’t mean it is known (in the sense that an agnostic would use).

To avoid a new Walter-definition, perhaps it’s more useful to say identified and unidentified unknowables. Is that fair? If there is a god then obviously the concept has already been identified, but it is still unknown and unknowable, including which particularly conception is the most accurate. Personally, I believe that anyone seeking to describe, pray to, or worship a higher power is attempting to access broadly the same concept, so to that extent, any god I can imagine has been identified.

You never replied to my question, and I’m still curious: Can you explain why your beliefs are no more than a passive lack of belief? You may not be an activist, but your beliefs certainly seem to be more than just not believing in god, and that precludes you from being a soft atheist... yet you don't seem to care for the term hard atheist.

Original comment

You seem to be using ‘know’ in two different ways. For you, we may not know Allah or the origins of the universe (or even be able to know them), but we ‘know of’ them so therefore they are ‘known’. For me, ‘knowing of’ those concepts is little more than having a label for them, and most definitely doesn’t mean they are known. And knowing that something is unknowable (in the unlikely event that we can) also doesn’t mean it is known (in the sense that an agnostic would use).

To avoid a new Walter-definition, perhaps it’s more useful to say identified and unidentified unknowables. Is that fair? If there is a god then obviously the concept has already been identified, but it is still unknown and unknowable, including which particularly conception is the most accurate. Personally, I believe that anyone seeking to describe, pray to, or worship a higher power is attempting to access broadly the same concept, so to that extent, any god I can imagine has been identified.

You never replied to my question, and I’m still curious: Can you explain why your beliefs are no more than a passive lack of belief? You may not be an activist, but your beliefs certainly seem to be more than just not believing in god, and that precludes you from being a soft atheist... yet you don't seem to care for the term hard atheist.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (169 days ago)
Latest comment:

Can we continue on another post - this page now takes an age to load on my computer. I suggest the post "Do physicists believe in God?" LINK

Original comment
Latest comment:

Can we continue on another post - this page now takes an age to load on my computer. I suggest the post "Do physicists believe in God?" LINK

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Guest: (173 days ago)

I'm just trying to figure out what you are really saying. Are you or are you not refuting all interaction between a god and human beings which could potentially be observed or measured by a scientist?

I meant to say you're more atheist with respect to the Christian god than I am. Wasn't that quite clear from the context. You can obviously still be agnostic about your own version of a supreme creator. Sorry if that confused you.

Original comment

I'm just trying to figure out what you are really saying. Are you or are you not refuting all interaction between a god and human beings which could potentially be observed or measured by a scientist?

I meant to say you're more atheist with respect to the Christian god than I am. Wasn't that quite clear from the context. You can obviously still be agnostic about your own version of a supreme creator. Sorry if that confused you.

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Guest: P (172 days ago)

One more time, if the gods of the Abrahamic religions are ‘more-or-less the same’, then I’ll assume that the supreme creator god I allow for is also the Christian supreme creator god.

I’m not a hard agnostic; it isn't logically impossible for any god to ever be knowable *in some way* (though I doubt a god could be completely known by a human.) My position is that the nature of any god is currently unknown and currently unknowable from what we have. Your talk of ‘potentially’ misses the point. Yes, IF an omnipotent god turned up, proved its own existence incontrovertibly to scientists, then obviously no one would be agnostic any more. As for certain deeds allegedly performed by god in the Bible, they are unknowable to us now, and possibly unknowable then due to the circumstances. No god has ever allowed itself to be tested by scientists after-all. But, refuting the knowability isn't refuting the actions, or the god, or the religion.

Maybe the key difference between my agnosticism and typical atheism is that because I believe it is unknowable, I do not believe that there is enough evidence (or lack) to say whether or not ,or how, a god exists. I appreciate most atheists don't claim to ‘know’, but they know enough to claim. I don't, so agnosticism is a more useful label.

Original comment

One more time, if the gods of the Abrahamic religions are ‘more-or-less the same’, then I’ll assume that the supreme creator god I allow for is also the Christian supreme creator god.

I’m not a hard agnostic; it isn't logically impossible for any god to ever be knowable *in some way* (though I doubt a god could be completely known by a human.) My position is that the nature of any god is currently unknown and currently unknowable from what we have. Your talk of ‘potentially’ misses the point. Yes, IF an omnipotent god turned up, proved its own existence incontrovertibly to scientists, then obviously no one would be agnostic any more. As for certain deeds allegedly performed by god in the Bible, they are unknowable to us now, and possibly unknowable then due to the circumstances. No god has ever allowed itself to be tested by scientists after-all. But, refuting the knowability isn't refuting the actions, or the god, or the religion.

Maybe the key difference between my agnosticism and typical atheism is that because I believe it is unknowable, I do not believe that there is enough evidence (or lack) to say whether or not ,or how, a god exists. I appreciate most atheists don't claim to ‘know’, but they know enough to claim. I don't, so agnosticism is a more useful label.

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Guest: (172 days ago)

The gods of the Abrahamic religions are more or less the same because they used to be the same. They have the old testament god in common, and only diverged through the last couple of millennia. In my view, alternative gods must have more in common than allegedly having created the universe before you can say they're the same god. Prince Phillip of the cargo cults and Allah are not the same god.

Refuting your current knowability isn't refuting the actions, or the god, or the religion. I was under the impression that you were refuting there ever have been or could be evidence. That would come with implications.

Original comment

The gods of the Abrahamic religions are more or less the same because they used to be the same. They have the old testament god in common, and only diverged through the last couple of millennia. In my view, alternative gods must have more in common than allegedly having created the universe before you can say they're the same god. Prince Phillip of the cargo cults and Allah are not the same god.

Refuting your current knowability isn't refuting the actions, or the god, or the religion. I was under the impression that you were refuting there ever have been or could be evidence. That would come with implications.

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Guest: P (180 days ago)

I definitely agree that you can be agnostic and still believe in a god.

However, "if you cannot truthfully say 'I believe that a god exists' then you are an atheist" - that's only soft atheism. Tyson refutes being an atheist, yet he doesn't have faith - are you saying he's wrong? These days, atheism commonly refers to 'hard atheism', and that, surely, is what he is denying.

And while the term agnostic is technically about what can be known, it is also used to describe people that equally have no belief in god AND no a belief in a godless universe either (often because they say nothing can be known). In fact, Dawkins himself used it as the mid-point between absolute belief and absolute disbelief. It is commonly used as this middle-ground.

The problem is these terms are used in different ways so there are a great deal more than 4 possibilities. Also, apparently, some people are keen to ignore how someone self-identifies and what they say, in preference of deciding what they believe for them. Jeepers indeed. Personally, if someone as smart as Tyson tells us he isn't an atheist, but is more agnostic, I'm inclined to take his word for it

Original comment

I definitely agree that you can be agnostic and still believe in a god.

However, "if you cannot truthfully say 'I believe that a god exists' then you are an atheist" - that's only soft atheism. Tyson refutes being an atheist, yet he doesn't have faith - are you saying he's wrong? These days, atheism commonly refers to 'hard atheism', and that, surely, is what he is denying.

And while the term agnostic is technically about what can be known, it is also used to describe people that equally have no belief in god AND no a belief in a godless universe either (often because they say nothing can be known). In fact, Dawkins himself used it as the mid-point between absolute belief and absolute disbelief. It is commonly used as this middle-ground.

The problem is these terms are used in different ways so there are a great deal more than 4 possibilities. Also, apparently, some people are keen to ignore how someone self-identifies and what they say, in preference of deciding what they believe for them. Jeepers indeed. Personally, if someone as smart as Tyson tells us he isn't an atheist, but is more agnostic, I'm inclined to take his word for it

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (181 days ago)

"Tyson's position IS about evidence because he's agnostic." That's sort of upside down, but I guess it's one way of putting it. Tyson's position is about evidence because he's a scientist, and science is agnostic because it is based on evidence.

What is your definition of "hard atheist"? Are they driven by evidence?

Original comment

"Tyson's position IS about evidence because he's agnostic." That's sort of upside down, but I guess it's one way of putting it. Tyson's position is about evidence because he's a scientist, and science is agnostic because it is based on evidence.

What is your definition of "hard atheist"? Are they driven by evidence?

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Guest: P (181 days ago)

Amazing. Did you watch the same video?

Endearing that you think I may value your grading. Just as well that in academia, we have people who have actually studied what they're talking about rather than self-appointed experts.

"To ask whether they can co-exist, the answer is empirically, yes!" If two things can co-exist, then they're not mutually exclusive. He just said that for reasons of productivity they can't mix in the same place, in the same way that flamenco guitar doesn't belong in a lab. It's precisely what I've been banging on about for so long - that they are different things that demonstably co-exist (read Gould). Pity for you.

He refutes specifically a god that is all powerful AND all good. Even someone with as limited cultural knowledge as you will be able to think of gods that such a description doesn't apply to, and notice he doesn't say all conceivable gods. Pity for you, again. If atheism merely requires you to disbelieve in gods that are both all-powerful and all-good, theism hasn't even broken a sweat.

Original comment

Amazing. Did you watch the same video?

Endearing that you think I may value your grading. Just as well that in academia, we have people who have actually studied what they're talking about rather than self-appointed experts.

"To ask whether they can co-exist, the answer is empirically, yes!" If two things can co-exist, then they're not mutually exclusive. He just said that for reasons of productivity they can't mix in the same place, in the same way that flamenco guitar doesn't belong in a lab. It's precisely what I've been banging on about for so long - that they are different things that demonstably co-exist (read Gould). Pity for you.

He refutes specifically a god that is all powerful AND all good. Even someone with as limited cultural knowledge as you will be able to think of gods that such a description doesn't apply to, and notice he doesn't say all conceivable gods. Pity for you, again. If atheism merely requires you to disbelieve in gods that are both all-powerful and all-good, theism hasn't even broken a sweat.

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Guest: P (181 days ago)

... I'm genuinely pleased you agree that he's canny, because he is an open agnostic and has spoken on other videos about why he seeks to distance himself from hard atheists like you. I have a lot of respect for him because of it. You should check out his Big Think video where he wonders why you lot continually try to claim his views, exactly as you're doing here.

Pity for you.

Original comment

... I'm genuinely pleased you agree that he's canny, because he is an open agnostic and has spoken on other videos about why he seeks to distance himself from hard atheists like you. I have a lot of respect for him because of it. You should check out his Big Think video where he wonders why you lot continually try to claim his views, exactly as you're doing here.

Pity for you.

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WalterEgo WalterEgo (181 days ago)

" If two things can co-exist, then they're not mutually exclusive." I'm not sure that's strictly true, but what's your point? No one has claimed science and religion are mutually exclusive. Or did I miss something?

Your flamenco analogy, while interesting, doesn't work. Flamenco guitar doesn't belong in the lab because it is not a search for "truth". Science and religion are different methods of searching for "truth". Science starts from nothing and builds up a picture from evidence. Religion interprets "truth" from words written in ancient documents. That is why science and religion don't mix. Nothing to do with flamenco guitars or any other random comparison you care to come up with.

Original comment

" If two things can co-exist, then they're not mutually exclusive." I'm not sure that's strictly true, but what's your point? No one has claimed science and religion are mutually exclusive. Or did I miss something?

Your flamenco analogy, while interesting, doesn't work. Flamenco guitar doesn't belong in the lab because it is not a search for "truth". Science and religion are different methods of searching for "truth". Science starts from nothing and builds up a picture from evidence. Religion interprets "truth" from words written in ancient documents. That is why science and religion don't mix. Nothing to do with flamenco guitars or any other random comparison you care to come up with.

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zottek zottek (179 days ago)

Please give us a month (or a year, (or a century)) without Neil dGT. Please!

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Please give us a month (or a year, (or a century)) without Neil dGT. Please!

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Guest: (179 days ago)

Not sure for you but where I live we are not forced to watch or listen . We definitly don't have to click on videos

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Not sure for you but where I live we are not forced to watch or listen . We definitly don't have to click on videos

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Guest: (181 days ago)

I wonder where he got his statistics. No way 2/3 of all Western scientists pray to a personal God.

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I wonder where he got his statistics. No way 2/3 of all Western scientists pray to a personal God.

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