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A Feature Film About Atheism – Brought to you by Dawkins and Krauss

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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The official trailer for “The Unbelievers“, a new film by Richard Dawkins and Lawrence Krauss was released today (February 8, 2013). It begins with a question:

Which is more important – to explain science or to destroy religion?

Dawkins and Krauss have traveled across the world with their message of science and reason, and the film documents their quest to establish lines of communication with people of diverse backgrounds. Interspersed with their first-hand experiences are interviews with several high profile Hollywood stars including Ricky Gervais, Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz and Sarah Silverman. It’s clear that during the speaking tour Dawkins and Krauss engaged large audiences. It will certainly be interesting to see whether the film version generates similar enthusiasm. Although I’m not seeing much of a story here (more an extended PSA with many A-list cameos) I certainly hope that it does.

Carin Bondar About the Author: Carin Bondar is a biologist, writer and film-maker with a PhD in population ecology from the University of British Columbia. Find Dr. Bondar online at www.carinbondar.com, on twitter @drbondar or on her facebook page: Dr. Carin Bondar – Biologist With a Twist. Follow on Twitter @drbondar.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. Pauli 12:22 am 02/9/2013

    I’ve never particularly liked Dawkins and people like him despite being an atheist. They act like they are based entirely on science and logic when in fact their arguments are largely ideological. They maintain that the world would be much better without religion. Where is the scientific proof for that? The answer is that there is none. I do not believe a society of atheists would be any particularly better than the one we have now. Atheists have done horrible things in this century, just as religious fundamentalists have. Atheists do tend to be wealthier but the non-religious in total tend to be poorer. Atheism places no value on the virtues of the family, in contrast to religion. What can an uneducated, unintelligent working-class single mother get from atheism? Nothing. What can she get from religion? A social system that would solve a lot of her problems. Religion isn’t for everyone, certainly not for me, but it has its merits.

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  2. 2. trigley 1:20 am 02/9/2013

    Isn’t atheism a religion? Isn’t an atheist one who asserts that there is no ‘God’? An assertion that is beyond the purview of science?

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  3. 3. B-Unit 4:06 am 02/9/2013

    No, atheism is not a religion. It makes no positive assertion, it’s simply a lack of belief in god/gods.
    It’s a silly word anyway, because it assumes that being a theist is the default position.. Are you an a-santa-ist? How about an a-toothfairy-ist? You can be a theist if you want to believe, but if you don’t believe in the supernatural the only label you should get is ‘Adult’. The burden of proof is on the one making the assertion, and the lack of any proof or evidence for the supernatural claims made by religion is complete and total.

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  4. 4. Wang01 8:01 am 02/9/2013

    my neighbor’s sister-in-law makes $87 every hour on the computer. She has been without work for ten months but last month her pay check was $20505 just working on the computer for a few hours. Read more on this web site…….. BIT40.ℂOℳ

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  5. 5. Chryses 8:19 am 02/9/2013

    The “Religion” debate position misses the point.

    As there is no A Priori proof for the existence of God, those who assert “X is True”, where “X” may be replaced with “God does exist”, in the absence of sufficient evidence to warrant their assertion, make a Faith claim.

    So to, in the absence of an A Priori proof for the non-existence of God, those who assert “X is True”, where “X” may be replaced with “God does not exist”, in the absence of sufficient evidence to warrant their assertion, make a Faith claim.

    Agnosticism, the Suspension of Belief in the absence of convincing evidence to support either position, is intellectually accurate. Both Theism and Atheism assert a Belief. Neither position, of course, requires a believer to adopt any particular pattern of organized behavior with others who share their Belief, nor adopt one towards those who do not. Such behavior is the behavior in question.

    This behavior – the perceived imperative to argue with more or less vehemence that the Belief of which one is convinced is True (when, in fact, the Belief cannot be proven correct) is the issue, not some undecidble proposition. Fortunately, most people manage to avoid becoming unpleasant or discourteous about their Beliefs. Those who indulge their desires to express, tediously and at great length, the arguments that support their Belief, and who seem to be unable or unwilling to accept that there exist other, different, persuasive arguments that arrive at different conclusions, exhibit a deficit of civility.

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  6. 6. jayjacobus 9:37 am 02/9/2013

    There is “I” and “Not I”. Without “Not I” I am just potential without any purpose. “Not I” gives me purpose, thought, action, ambition, sensations, emotions, context, etc. Yet “Not I” is not focused on me although small parts of “Not I” occasionally come in contact with me.

    Thinking this way makes me realize that I am not important to God. No matter what I do, God is not obligated to me.

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  7. 7. KevinEMeredith 11:54 am 02/9/2013

    Pauli, you seem burdened with so many irrelevant, illogical or blatantly false ideas about atheists I’m having trouble believing you really are one. But let me for now focus on this one statement: “Atheism places no value on the virtues of the family, in contrast to religion.” So, what are you trying to say here? That atheists don’t love their children, or other people’s children, or their families, or other people’s families? If so, you are grossly and demonstrably wrong. Now, what is the percentage of atheists vs. theists who believe their children should be kicked out of the home for being gay? Who believe children should be terrified with threats of eternal hell if they don’t believe properly? Who ostracize family members who don’t practice the right faith? Who believe God has ordered the murders of whole cities, “male and female, young and old” (in other words, whole families, such as as in Jericho) over theology?

    I’m not accusing all theists of these behaviors, but I’m confident such Bible-based and clearly anti-family beliefs and practices are far more common among them than they are among atheists.

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  8. 8. KevinEMeredith 12:04 pm 02/9/2013

    No, trigley, atheism isn’t a religion, and it doesn’t in its purest form assert, as you put it, “that there is no ‘God’?” It asserts that there is no evidence of any god, spirit or other supernatural force. I don’t speak for all atheists, but when an atheist asserts that there is no god, I think often they’re denying the existence of a specific mythological invention, e.g. the god of the Abrahamic faiths, the gods of Hinduism etc. Was some intelligence behind the Big Bang? Maybe. Could that intelligence possess some attributes consistent with the gods created by humans? Maybe. Should we attempt to speak to said intelligence, believe that our hallucinations are its messages, make sacrifices to it, force others to believe in it, and kill in its name? No. You see, that would be religion. And atheism isn’t religion.

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  9. 9. GoodBeads 12:46 pm 02/9/2013

    Chryses – So your argument is that the difference between a Theist and an Atheist reduces to questions of what constitutes evidence for either position, and the weight it/they should be given?

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  10. 10. jayjacobus 1:58 pm 02/9/2013

    Atheists are free to make their own rules. If they are restricted, its their own damn fault.

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  11. 11. PatriciaJH 3:31 pm 02/9/2013

    I don’t like Dawkins either, but you don’t need to believe in god to believe in, and act on, purpose, justice, social action; nor to rejoice in a splendid universe. The activities and social support of church don’t require god either; for instance, athiests are openly active and welcome at Unitarian Universalist churches (I attend one, and sing in the choir); many Quaker meetings are quite open to atheists, and many athiests attend other churches while paying lip service to belief in god.

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  12. 12. Ron Mann 5:36 pm 02/9/2013

    I find it very puzzling when I hear some people say that they are “atheists” and yet, they despise or don’t like Dawkins, or his style, or what have you. If you, like me, believe that we are swamped by superstition, dogma, blind faith at every turn, and those factors are highly detrimental to the intellectual development of our race (as they have been), then, what is your problem with someone actively pointing that out. What exactly is wrong with aggressively fighting thousands of years of deceit, exploitation, lack of sense, and, honestly, the silliness of the religious premises that have brainwashed generations after generations. So long as one child is made to believe that they have to fear and follow a fantastic and senseless deity, people like Dawkins should be thanked for his time and effort.

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  13. 13. SoftLanding 6:39 pm 02/9/2013

    @12. Ron Mann

    Well, as you asked, several things come to mind: gratuitous bellicosity, discourtesy, and poor manners are the first three that pop into my mind when I hear someone ask the questions “…what is your problem with someone actively pointing that out. What exactly is wrong with aggressively fighting …”. While you’re entitled to your opinions, you’re not entitled to be right, and I very much doubt that you can prove there is no God.

    Further, your opinion “So long as one child is made to believe … people like Dawkins should be thanked for his time and effort” is distressing, as you re adopting unethical “the end justifies the means” justification for antagonistic aantisocial behavior.

    Yours are dangerous behaviors.

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  14. 14. Pauli 8:35 pm 02/9/2013

    @KevinEMeredith, The problem with many atheists is that they do not respect the family. They support ideologies that actively seek to destroy it. We have a 40% illegitimacy rate in this country. Our divorce rate exceeds 50%. 20% of women have herpes. Few atheists seem to care. Many see these things as signs of the victory of “liberation.” Religion provides a moral and philosophical reason for many in the working class to support cultural conservative viewpoints. I really don’t see how the world would be made better if these working class people gave up their religion.

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  15. 15. Pauli 8:45 pm 02/9/2013

    @Ron Mann You’re comment wonderfully captures what I don’t like about Dawkins. You assume that just because I’m an atheist I believe that “we are swamped by superstition, dogma, blind faith at every turn, and those factors are highly detrimental to the intellectual development of our race (as they have been).” I don’t, really, see all the “dogma” in our society as a big problem. What are the nasty effects of this “dogma?” With our 40% illegitimacy rate and 50% divorce rate I think we need more of that “dogma.”

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  16. 16. Cramer 11:49 pm 02/9/2013

    Pauli claims that “many” atheists “support ideologies that actively seek to destroy [the family].” Pauli then provides statisitcs of 40% illegitimacy rate, 50% divorce rate, etc. and claims “few atheists seem to care.” [Interesting, when less than 2% of Americans describe themselves as atheists (Pew 2007)].

    Pauli, please be more specific and identify what ideologies destroy families. Can you give the statistics on the percentage of atheists that do not care about illegitimacy rates and divorce rates? Can you at least name one atheist who said this? Does Richard Dawkins not care about families and illegitimacy rates?

    The importance of family and communites has been known by humans long before religious views first included families. Humans have always taken care of their weak (children, elderly, crippled, sick, wounded, etc). Pre-historic humans survived best within a family and could not surive at all outside of a community. Religion was essentially the first science that attempted to explain this observation.

    I know of one atheist who created an anti-family ideology with its central virtue being selfishness. That was Ayn Rand whose ideology is embraced by Paul Ryan and other conservatives who call themselves Christians. It is unbelievable that conservatives that call themselves Christians can believe in an ideology that is that antithesis of the preachings of Jesus Christ (i.e. Jesus of Nazareth for non-Christians). Simply irrational (but Paul Ryan does a good job attempting to rationalize it).

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  17. 17. Chryses 6:58 am 02/10/2013

    GoodBeads,

    It is. At the risk of unnecessary repetition, as there exists (as far as I am aware) a proof for neither proposition, such an approach seems appropriate. It excludes the arguments of neither the Theist nor the Atheist, so leaving those who are capable of articulating their opinions without rancor the opportunity to persuade others of the likelihood that their POV most satisfyingly reflects reality.

    Indeed, I’ll take it to the next level and suggest that, after an involved, often animated, and occasionally heated discussion lasting more than two thousand years without any resolution, it is likely that there is no resolution, and the proposition “There exists no proof for the propositions “There exists no proof that God exists” and “There exists no proof that God does not exist” is one of those Gödelian true-but-unprovable theorems (but stripped of Mathematical formalism).

    This is an inference from the data, thus provisional, and very much not a deductive certainty.

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  18. 18. QuietQuest 9:45 am 02/10/2013

    lkj

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  19. 19. QuietQuest 12:41 pm 02/10/2013

    Pauli @15

    You’re correct to point out there is dogma in any organization, once the discipline adopts some useful paradigm for explanatory purposes. Consider, for example, the dogma of “DNA makes RNA makes Protein” that held sway until the reverse transcription of retroviruses (HIV), showed it was incomplete. The resistance in the scientific community to Einstein’s Relativity Theory is another example.

    Sorry bout #18!

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  20. 20. The Ethical Skeptic 1:00 pm 02/10/2013

    Bifurcation Fallacy. I must choose whether to believe or disbelieve in an all powerful being. Hmmmmm. Perhaps that is not the first question in the falsification hierarchy. I have no definition for ‘god’ so how can I choose to believe or not believe in something of which I have no idea what it even is?

    One thing I do know is …If I am compelled to accept something (at the penalty of being called irrational by Richard Dawkins or Jerry Fallwell), yet I cannot approach that something to test it for falsification –
    THAT is a religion.

    Perhaps we should stick with the science. Science does not hold a definition for ‘god.’ Athiests do hold a definition for god. I cannot approach their definition with science, therefore it is a religion.

    Atheism is a religion which I happen to think is highly probably correct, yes…but, there are other questions which are needfully answered first. I would rather focus on those.

    – TES

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  21. 21. HarmlessQuestion 4:30 pm 02/10/2013

    Why doesn’t Scientific American police the SPAM on these blogs?

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  22. 22. QuietQuest 5:06 pm 02/10/2013

    HarmlessQuestion – I presume because they don’t think it is important.

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  23. 23. Cramer 5:33 pm 02/10/2013

    I would also like to add that some atheists could be religious about their atheism. In this case they would really NOT want there to be a god — they are devout to their cause. That’s not me and I don’t believe that’s Bill Maher and many other atheists.

    I want there to be a god. I want to be wrong in my lack of belief. My lack of belief is not a religious devotion for me.

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  24. 24. Pauli 7:13 pm 02/10/2013

    Most atheists do not attempt to prove that there is no god. They just start with the idea that without any evidence for something, the default view should be to deny it exists. Without evidence for god you assume He does not exist. Religion is a belief about god that exists despite a lack of evidence.

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  25. 25. Cramer 7:32 pm 02/10/2013

    Pauli, you claimed there are ideologies that “actively seek to destroy [the family].” I suggested the ideology of Ayn Rand (worshipped by conservatives). Can you answer which ideologies?

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  26. 26. jayjacobus 8:15 pm 02/10/2013

    Church, State, Family and Society should exert influences on culture such that society provides a positive environment.

    People need to be safe, have purposes, feel needed and be physically comfortable.

    When religions fail to be a beneficial source for these needs, then religion should change.

    I advocate improving what has never been improved. I do not advocate total destruction.

    If atheists have the answers, please speak up.

    A belief in God can be secondary to positive sociological change.

    Does anybody really care what my beliefs are or can people believe what they want?

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  27. 27. Beedge 9:09 pm 02/10/2013

    @Chryses

    You were spot on up until one point. Atheism makes no truth claims or assertions of belief. The dictionary definition states:
    “a person who does not believe in the existence of God or gods: he is a committed atheist.”

    Where as agnosticism:
    “a person who believes that nothing is known or can be known of the existence or nature of God.”

    As you can see by these two definitions that the two positions are not mutually exclusive. For example, I can say that I do not believe that anything can be known about the existence of God (agnosticism) but the lack of evidence of God leads me not to believe in him (atheism)”

    I do not believe in God but I make no claims of knowing that there is no god. Agnostic atheist.

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  28. 28. Cramer 2:07 am 02/11/2013

    The Ethical Skeptic in comment 20 calls atheism a religion. This seems common. I have never understood this position.

    People believe in many things that have not been proven to exist: 36% of Americans believe in UFOs, 30% believe in Bigfoot, 15% believe the US government was behind the 9/11 attacks, 6% do not believe the moon landing happened, 6% do not believe in god.

    These poll statistics are for Americans. I found most of these stats on wikipedia. I chose not to name the polls because the exact numbers are not important and different polls are all over the place.

    Question for people who believe in a god: If any of you do NOT believe in UFOs (or swap in any other belief you do not believe in), do you think your lack of belief in UFOs is a religion?

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  29. 29. Chryses 6:32 am 02/11/2013

    Beedge (27),

    “… Atheism makes no truth claims or assertions of belief …”

    It doesn’t?

    Atheism:
    1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
    2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/Atheism+?s=t

    Please note
    a. Both 1 and 2 above are active, not passive positions. For example, the description 1 reads “belief that there is no God” (active), not “no belief that there is God” (passive), and description 2 reads “disbelief in” (active), not “an absence of belief” (passive).
    b. The Random House Dictionary is a reasonable text upon which to base one’s presumptions of the meanings of words.

    Finally, if the words “atheist” and “agnostic” may be used interchangeably, then you are arguing for a distinction between them, but without a difference in meaning.

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  30. 30. oldvic 6:55 am 02/11/2013

    In the absence of proof, we default to statistics; and on that ground, religion falls flat. From its very beginning, religion has been forced by science to gradually retreat into obscure and practically irrelevant arguments, and the process is ongoing.
    This would be a minor social problem if so many religious people weren’t given to forcing others to follow their beliefs. The religion problem isn’t an abstruse logical discussion; it’s, to varying degrees, a severe social disability, a system that introduces irrationality at the very core of social interaction.
    History tells us that this is a really bad idea. Krauss and Dawkins, I suspect, are far more concerned with the problems of widespread religious belief rather that with the ultimate decision of the “god/no god” argument.

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  31. 31. Silkysmom 3:07 pm 02/11/2013

    I believe in a “Supreme Being” which some call God. But their God has been used to scare, control and abuse people. The easiest way to control people is through fear and guilt. How many “religions”are using these tactics? Therefore I do not belong to any organized religion. I prefer to think for myself!

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  32. 32. jayjacobus 4:47 pm 02/11/2013

    You have a good point. If religious experts made God a model of good leadership, it would give people a role model that all could follow.

    The model we have now is insulting to God.

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  33. 33. Ronald 8:36 pm 02/11/2013

    I am an Atheist and advocate for it.

    Japan is less than one percent Christian, more than 40 percent or 60 percent Atheist depending on the survey. Japan has a prison population of 59 per 100 000 population.

    The United States is 80 percent or more Christian, and 5 to 15 percent Atheist. The United States has 743 prison population per 100 000 population.

    Europe much less Christian than the US had prison pop per 100 000 population of 80 to 140.

    Japan has the longest living people, at about 82 years old. The US has one of the lowest at 78 years. Not a lot of difference, but so much for Christian prayer. Industrialised countries are between 82 to 78 years old.

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  34. 34. Ronald 8:53 pm 02/11/2013

    This is what I tell Christians after my 35 years of study and thinking on the subject.
    Just because a person consumes beef doesn’t mean they know beef, like the cattleman knows beef, or the veternarian, buyer, butcher, grocer, chef, cook, dietician or even heart surgeon knows beef.
    Just because a person consumes Christianity or some other religion doesn’t mean they know Christianity like the Scholar knows Christianity, or the Psychologist, or Mythologist, or Historian, or Philosopher, or Scientist or a few other ways Christianity and religion can be studied.
    When a Christian studies Psyschology, make a special importance to fantasy, sadomasochism and disasociation. When the true believer believes, those 3 are the major sources to the emotions a person feels. Don’t want to die? (and who does) You don’t have to, you can get that 100 billion billion dollar payoff by living forever.
    and it’s all free, just partake in this sadomasochism festival and the live forever payoff is yours.

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  35. 35. Chryses 10:06 pm 02/11/2013

    Beedge (27),
    “… Atheism makes no truth claims or assertions of belief …”

    Once more unto the breech, if I may.

    Ronald @33 (not to pick on you, but your post is exemplary) provides just the example I referred to @29 a & b. Note that his position is active (yes there is no God), and not passive (he is unpersuded that God exists). He actually takes it up a notch – he advocates for the “there is no God” position, and presents what he considers persuasive evidence to warrant his atheism.

    This active stance – this assertion of Truth – distinguishes the atheist from the agnostic.

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  36. 36. Cramer 11:47 pm 02/11/2013

    The inability to edit comments is annoying (a simple preveiw would help). Sorry for the typos.

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  37. 37. Cramer 12:44 pm 02/12/2013

    Chryses,

    Is there any such thing as a passive belief or disbelief? To believe or disbelieve is to think; and thinking is active. Or are you referring to the lack of belief, such as in the case of an infant?

    Where did Ronald or anyone else “assert the truth?” Could you provide the quote?

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  38. 38. Cramer 1:01 pm 02/12/2013

    Chryses,

    I am having a difficult time understanding what you mean by active vs passive. Each time I believe I know what you mean, you write another comment defining “active stance” as the “assertion of the truth.” I do not believe an active stance means the assertion of truth.

    Could you please reword what you mean using terms like implicit vs explicit, positive vs negative, or agnostic vs gnostic.

    A review of Richard Dawson’s Spectrum of Theistic Probability may provide some insight on the “assertion of truth.”

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  39. 39. Chryses 7:15 pm 02/12/2013

    Cramer (37),

    “Where did Ronald or anyone else “assert the truth?” Could you provide the quote?”
    Sure.
    “I am an Atheist and advocate for it.” (Ronald @33) The author, Ronald, asserted as true in a simple, declarative sentence, that he is an Atheist. Now, perhaps he is, actually not an Atheist, and the claim he is an Atheist is false, but that does not change the fact he did assert it to be true.

    Cramer (38),

    “I do not believe an active stance means the assertion of truth.”
    I’m surprised you are unable to distinguish between “not believing that God exists”, and “believing that God does not exist”.
    The former identifies an absence of belief and is passive (for example, an argument presented to warrant some proposition has failed, for one reason or another, to persuade an audience that some proposition is true), while the latter identifies a belief and is active (for example, an argument presented to warrant some proposition was successful, and now the audience believes that the proposition is true).
    These two positions are unambiguously different, as evidenced by the distinctions made above, and customary use of English, but I thank you for the suggested reading material.

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  40. 40. Cramer 1:38 am 02/13/2013

    Chryses,

    I can distinguish between “not believing that God exists” and “believing that God does not exist.”

    Most atheists, including Richard Dawkins, do “not believe that God exists.” Few atheists “believe that God does not exist.”

    Asserting a TRUTH would be “KNOWING that a god does not exist.” Ronald did not say that.

    The topic is not whether or not Ronald is lying about being an atheist. If that is what you are claiming, I would only guess that you are trying to play games with me and I have no time for that.

    The proper terminology for what you are describing is positive vs negative, strong vs weak, or hard vs soft; not active vs passive. Can you provide any reference where you have seen this referred to as active vs passive by a notable scholar on this subject. I can only guess that the terms passive has been avoided because it connotes the absence of thought. And active could connote someone who is actively promoting their belief.

    See:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_atheism

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  41. 41. TonyTrenton 3:39 am 02/13/2013

    The term ‘believe’ is an absolute term. Fallible humans should not use.

    If you are an honest and sincere person ? You cannot say I ‘believe’ this or that today and tomorrow,change your mind.

    ‘Belief’ Is an obsolete term. And virtually never used appropriately !!

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  42. 42. jayjacobus 11:19 am 02/13/2013

    In a debate the “winner” is not a leader nor a teacher. He / she is simply good at debating.

    The “loser” is not a follower nor a student. He / she is simply a poorer debater.

    The issue is not being settled and is off the track.

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  43. 43. greenhome123 12:26 pm 02/13/2013

    Viva La Evolucion

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  44. 44. MissionHelper 5:00 pm 02/13/2013

    @43. jayjacobus

    “In a debate the “winner” is not a leader nor a teacher.”

    Wouldn’t that depend on what you learned during the debate?

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  45. 45. centromere 5:05 pm 02/13/2013

    I notice the politically incorrect posts are being deleted.

    :)

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  46. 46. Bremsstrahlung 5:23 pm 02/13/2013

    @40. Cramer – “Most atheists, including Richard Dawkins, do “not believe that God exists.” Few atheists “believe that God does not exist.””

    Ah! So you speak for all atheists? “Curiouser and curiouser!” as Alice might say.

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  47. 47. FractalNumber 5:45 pm 02/13/2013

    @Cramer – “I can distinguish between “not believing that God exists” and “believing that God does not exist.” “

    If you can, then why are you having such a difficult time distinguishing between agnostics, who don’t believe God exists, and atheists, who believe that God does not exist? Agnostics lack belief. Atheists have belief. They’re different, don’t you see?

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  48. 48. QuietQuest 5:54 pm 02/13/2013

    centromere – Might makes right in some circles.

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  49. 49. HarmlessQuestion 7:07 pm 02/13/2013

    @centromere

    Pity bout those deleted posts. I suppose that refuting an atheist is not permitted.

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  50. 50. abolitionist 7:33 pm 02/13/2013

    HarmlessQuestion,

    It’s not at all unusual for people who feel their belief systems are being threatened to lash out. When you believe that something is true, and can’t provide a convincing argument it is, you often change tactics to attacking the people you feel re threatening your faith.

    Think about some historical events. When Protestants challenged assumptions of the Catholic Church, Europeans had a grand time for long time slaughtering each other. While that’s no longer fashionable in Christianity, Islam has stepped up to the plate with their Shia/Sunni fratricide.

    Now look back at the posts to this thread, and think who is attacking who, and why.

    Atheism is just another Faith build on another assumption that cannot be proved true.

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  51. 51. abolitionist 7:41 pm 02/13/2013

    Sorry, that should read
    “Atheism is just another Faith built on another assumption”
    Not
    “Atheism is just another Faith build on another assumption”

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  52. 52. BookSpine 8:57 pm 02/13/2013

    I’m glad that Drs Dawkins & Krauss included interviews with Ricky Gervais, Woody Allen, Cameron Diaz, Sarah Silverman, et al. Whenever I have philosophical questions, ethical questions, and questions about the nature of Science, I usually turn to high profile Hollywood stars to find answers.

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  53. 53. Cramer 12:50 am 02/14/2013

    abolitionist,

    Could you provide us your definition of faith? Do you believe it to be synonymous with belief? Why did do capitalize the word faith?

    What attacks are you seeing in the posts to this thread?

    In this thread I have mostly read posts of people attempting to define what they believe atheism is; and others disagreeing with those definitons.

    Here are some examples:

    * Atheism is a religion.
    * Atheism is just another Faith built on another assumption.
    * Atheism places no value on the virtues of the family.
    * Atheists support ideologies that actively seek to destroy the family.
    * An Atheist is one who asserts that there is no God.
    * Atheists believe that God does not exist. Agnostics lack belief.

    Atheism is simply the rejection of the belief in the existence of a god. There is no requirement for the assertion that a god does not exist.

    Agnosticism is a belief that the existence of a god is unknowable. It is based on knowledge, not belief. Therefore, both theists and atheists can be agnostic. Can anyone name someone who claims to “know” there is no god? Richard Dawkins does not claim to have this knowledge.

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  54. 54. abolitionist 7:04 am 02/14/2013

    Cramer @53

    Faith? It is confidence, trust, or belief in the reality of something that cannot be proved. Examples of this are provided throughout this thread, #33 being the most vivid example.

    You are the principle antagonist here, as you attempt to defend your position by redefining the meaning of words to suit your purpose. The meaning of ‘Atheism’ was posted for all to read at #29, but you have chosen to ignore that fact and redefine ‘Atheism’ as “simply the rejection of the belief in the existence of a god.” at #53.

    This type of behavior is not only anti-theist, but it also undermines the basis of rational discourse, and is therefore anti-science, which relies on common or shared understanding among its participants to advance human understanding of the natural world.

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  55. 55. christinaak 9:58 am 02/14/2013

    I look forward to seeing this film. I agree with Dawkins and Krauss that religion is harmful and the world would be better off without it. I am an atheist because there is no evidence that such a thing exists, and no reason to believe that it does. The burden of proof lies entirely with the theist, and as the history of the debate shows theists have failed miserably. There is not a single argument for the existence of a deity that stands up to critical scrutiny. In my opinion, agnosticism is an intellectual cop out.

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  56. 56. Cramer 11:30 am 02/14/2013

    abolitionist,

    As I understand from what you are saying, you are defining an atheist as someone who knows there is no god.

    Please provide references to a theologist or any other expert who defines atheist in this way. I do not know who Chryses is.

    I suggested that you read wikipedia which contains citations to many scholars. There are many references on the wiki article:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atheist

    It is also interesting what you define as antagonist. I have never attack anyones beliefs in a god, I have only defended my own.

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  57. 57. jayjacobus 1:59 pm 02/14/2013

    Many explanations are possible and to the proponents of a particular explanation they are unquestionable. Some explanations start from a premise. The premise may not be disproved but in the case of God / no god the premise is never proven.

    The proponents may say “Prove me wrong.”

    I cannot.

    Does that mean that both proponents are right?

    If so, then there is a God and there isn’t a God both at the same time.

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  58. 58. Bremsstrahlung 4:36 pm 02/14/2013

    @55. abolitionist

    In re Cramer’s redefining words to suit his convenience, I’m minded of a character from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass , who said “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

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  59. 59. abolitionist 4:44 pm 02/14/2013

    Cramer @57

    “As I understand from what you are saying, you are defining an atheist as someone who knows there is no god.”

    No, you do not understand what I’m saying.

    I have used the dictionary use of the term ‘atheist’. The meaning of ‘Atheism’ was posted at #29. You have read it, and have chosen to ignore it.

    You have chosen to redefine the term to suit your purposes, to defend your position.

    Nice try, but you have failed.

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  60. 60. christinaak 5:58 pm 02/14/2013

    Cramer is correct about the basic definition of atheist. The word atheist comes from the greek a which means without and theism which means belief in a deity. Atheism literally means without belief in a deity (an atheist is one without a belief in a deity). Of course an internet search would have revealed that to anyone who was really interested. There are atheists like myself who do assert that ‘god’ does not exist (but the notion that it is an article of faith is absurd), however one does not have to assert that ‘god’ does not exist to be an atheist. You’re welcome.

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  61. 61. SilverTusk 7:20 pm 02/14/2013

    @60 abolitionist – You don’t seriously expect to get someone who is in denial to admit his mistakes, do you? Really now! When they sink to the level of trying to redefine the meaning of words to suit their preconceived notions, they’re no longer arguing rationally. If they’re unwilling to argue rationally, they’ve lost the argument. You’re just wasting your time.

    @61 christinaak – If this argument were being expressed in Attic Greek, your point would be valid. As it is not, your point is not valid.

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  62. 62. Chryses 7:34 pm 02/14/2013

    Cramer (40),

    “The proper terminology for what you are describing is …”

    Coming, as that does, from someone who redefines the meanings of words (theist, agnostic, atheist) to suit his purpose du jour, I can but smile and bid you “Bon Voyage!” as you redefine reality to your satisfaction.

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  63. 63. christinaak 7:38 pm 02/14/2013

    @silver tusk- facts are stubborn things-and you are quite definitely wrong.

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  64. 64. centromere 7:55 pm 02/14/2013

    @54. Cramer – “Can anyone name someone who claims to “know” there is no god? Richard Dawkins does not claim to have this knowledge.”

    Although Mr. Dawkins wrote an article titled “Why there is no God”, I suppose you’ll say “that doesn’t count”. :)

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  65. 65. SilverTusk 8:02 pm 02/14/2013

    @63 christinaak – Were you able to express your opinion in Attic Greek, where the redefinition might have some meaning, I might have paid some attention to it. As you cannot (just as neither you nor Cramer cannot redefine atheist to mean whatever you find convenient), it warrants and receives none.

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  66. 66. BookSpine 8:20 pm 02/14/2013

    christinaak

    Is is fair to say that you believe there is no God?

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  67. 67. centromere 8:24 pm 02/14/2013

    @62.Chryses – what do you want to bet your post gets deleted? :D

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  68. 68. christinaak 8:27 pm 02/14/2013

    @silvertusk- are you denying that the greek prefix “a” means without? If you want to behave like an idiot I do not see why I should waste my time.

    @bookspine- read post 60

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  69. 69. centromere 8:30 pm 02/14/2013

    centromere (67),

    Well, if it does, then yours and this one will have to go too. But RHIP.

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  70. 70. SilverTusk 8:37 pm 02/14/2013

    @68 christinaak – “@silvertusk- are you denying that the greek prefix “a” means without?”

    Are you still unwilling to admit that this discussion is being expressed in English?
    Are you still unwilling to admit that the English definition of atheist was posted @29?

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  71. 71. BookSpine 8:45 pm 02/14/2013

    christinaak “@bookspine- read post 60”

    I did, but you do not say there if you believe there is no God. It’s OK if you are unwilling to come out about your beliefs; I just thought that you had the candor to do so.

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  72. 72. christinaak 8:49 pm 02/14/2013

    @silvertusk- intellectual dishonesty is unbecoming. The definition in @ 29 is not complete because it does not include the definition atheists use-that is the point. If you want to understand what atheists believe read a work written by atheists. This is my last reply to you because you are unable to discuss this issue intelligently.

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  73. 73. christinaak 8:55 pm 02/14/2013

    @bookspine- from post 60 “There are atheists like myself who do assert that ‘god’ does not exist (but the notion that it is an article of faith is absurd), however one does not have to assert that ‘god’ does not exist to be an atheist.” I hope that is clear enough. Have a nice day.

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  74. 74. SilverTusk 9:06 pm 02/14/2013

    @72 christinaak – “The definition in @ 29 is not complete because it does not include the definition atheists use …”

    Ah! First Cramer speaks for all atheists, and now you claim that title! Give it a rest, will you, and come back when you’re ready to play by the rules of the game. We use English on these forums, in case you hadn’t noticed. I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that Dr. Dawkins would be appalled to see the mockery you and Cramer have made of his intellectual positions, hiding behind artificial, synthetic, contrived meanings of English words.

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  75. 75. BookSpine 9:17 pm 02/14/2013

    christinaak I asked the question so you could answer with a simple “Yes” or “No”, but alas, you seem to be not up to the task.

    Oh well.

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  76. 76. christinaak 9:37 pm 02/14/2013

    @bookspine- I expected @silvertusk to be an idiot, I had higher hopes for you. Alas I guess I was wrong.

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  77. 77. BookSpine 9:39 pm 02/14/2013

    christinaak, Still no answer, eh?

    Oh well.

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  78. 78. SilverTusk 9:45 pm 02/14/2013

    @77 BookSpine – You didn’t really expect an honest answer, did you?

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  79. 79. christinaak 9:49 pm 02/14/2013

    @bookspine- I guess English must not be your first language. That is too bad. I guess I can not discuss anything with you rationally either.

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  80. 80. BookSpine 10:04 pm 02/14/2013

    @ 78.SilverTusk, Perhaps not, but remember, Hope still remains from Pandora’s box.

    @ 79.christinaak, “I guess I can not discuss anything with you rationally either.”
    On this point I think you are correct. You have persuaded me that you are unable to discuss anything rationally.

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  81. 81. Cramer 1:28 am 02/15/2013

    Let’s review what has been said in this thread.

    Chryses (#29) provided the following defintion:

    “Atheism:
    1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
    2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.”

    I never disagreed with this definition. In #37, I questioned Chryses’ use of active vs passive (see note below) and his “assertion of Truth” statement.

    Chryses (#35) said, “Note that his position is active (yes there is no God), and not passive (he is unpersuded that God exists).” and “This active stance – this assertion of Truth – distinguishes the atheist from the agnostic.”

    FractalNumber (#47) said, “If you can, then why are you having such a difficult time distinguishing between agnostics, who don’t believe God exists, and atheists, who believe that God does not exist?”

    My view is definition #1 is “hard atheism” and definition #2 is “soft atheism” as presented here:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_and_positive_atheism

    From the statements made by Chryses and FractalNumber, they are suggesting a clear distinction between agnostics and atheist by stating that definition #1 is atheism and definition #2 is agnosticism. They clearly made the distinction that definition #2 was not atheism.

    —–
    Note:
    Chryses (#29) said “no belief” and “absence of belief” was passive; and “disbelief” was active. My view was “no belief” and “absence of belief” applies to someone who had not thought about the belief, such as an infant. I am fine with those defintions (no thought is passive). However, in comment #35 Chryses then said that “unpersuaded that God exists” is also passive. This would be a disbelief that he early defined as active. In #37 I asked him about passive disbelief.

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  82. 82. centromere 6:12 am 02/15/2013

    @81. Cramer – “Chryses (#29) provided the following defintion …”

    Chryses @29 provided the Random house dictionary definition of the word ‘Atheism’, which he warranted by a link to the source.

    Why are you to starting your summary with misdirection, alluding to the definition Chryses linked to as anything other than the common use of the English word?

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  83. 83. SilverTusk 7:10 am 02/15/2013

    @82 centromere

    It is, I think, less an effort of misdirection than it is Cramer’s latest attempt to redefine ‘Atheism’ to mean what he wants it to mean, as Bremsstrahlung saw @58.

    Note how Cramer failed to include the link from #29, but rather chose to let the reader infer that the Random House dictionary definition of the word ‘Atheism’ was, instead, only Chryses’ personal opinion.

    However, while Cramer does not present his definition of the word, he again lets the reader assume that it is the same as what might be found at the link Cramer presents to warrant what he has not actually posted.

    The net effect is to leave the reader with the impression that “definition #1” is a personal and subjective, while Cramer’s is the general and objective – but without stating so. Remember that he’s trying to redefine the meaning of a generally accepted (Random House dictionary) word.

    Not a bad effort, considering. I’ll give Cramer a B ~ B+.

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  84. 84. christinaak 8:21 am 02/15/2013

    Why are you guys (@silvertusk and @bookspine, etal.) trolling a science web site? Was it a slow night at Fox News? No reruns of ‘Swamp People’ on the History Channel?

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  85. 85. christinaak 12:32 pm 02/15/2013

    @silvertusk, @bookspine, etal. I apologize for the ad hominen statement in post @84 and elsewhere (I was frustrated with what I perceived to be irrational stubborness on the part of all of you). If we can not agree on basic definitions then it is not possible to discuss this topic rationally. I was hoping to discuss more substantive issues on this subject matter, but I do not see any point in proceeding given the level of the discourse thus far. For those who are sincere in wanting to know what atheists actually believe there are a number of excellent books and web sites that do an admirable job of explaining atheism.

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  86. 86. Cramer 2:17 pm 02/15/2013

    I am baffled by the breakdown in communication. Should I assume that some commenters are not sincere in this dialogue?

    I have agreed with every definition from a 3rd party provided in this thread. That is, I have agreed with the Random House definition and I have agreed with the wikipedia definition.

    I agree both Random House definitions #1 and #2 define atheism. It is Chryses and FractalNumber that stated that definition #2 was agnostism and NOT atheism.

    How am I redefining the Random House definition if I agree with it??? Bremsstrahlung (#58) never stated HOW I redefined any words, he simply stated that I did and then made an insult. If you provide a more specific explanation, maybe I could understand your point of how I might be misunderstanding the Random House definion. What words am I misunderstanding? Is it the word “disbelief?” To do this you have to (1) provide the word; (2) give what you believe my incorrect definition of that word is; and (3) provide an alternative definition which you believe is correct.

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  87. 87. SilverTusk 4:33 pm 02/15/2013

    @85 christinaak – I accept your apology.

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  88. 88. Bremsstrahlung 8:26 pm 02/15/2013

    @86. Cramer

    Insulting? Not a bit of it. I refer you to your post #56 (currently)

    “…As I understand from what you are saying, you are defining an atheist as someone who knows there is no god …”

    It is obvious you challenged the dictionary definition of atheist @29 that abolitionist accepted @54. abolitionist does as normal people; he understands that Atheism means 1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God. 2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    Nowhere does that definition state “defining an atheist as someone who knows there is no god.” By willfully misrepresenting the definition of the word, you evoked in my mind a certain character from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass , who said “When I use a word, it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”

    The comparison is quite plausible, reasonable, and not insulting at all. Enjoy it. You have earned it.

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  89. 89. FractalNumber 10:02 pm 02/15/2013

    @Cramer – I don’t know who you think you’re fooling with your word games, but abolitionist is right about you trying to redefine atheism to mean something other than another belief system based on an unproven assumption.

    If you aren’t satisfied with Random House, you can also read Webster’s definition;
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atheism
    1 archaic: ungodliness, wickedness
    2 a: a disbelief in the existence of deity b: the doctrine that there is no deity

    … or can you prove either that God does not exist, or alternately that God does exist?.

    Good luck with that.

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  90. 90. FractalNumber 10:14 pm 02/15/2013

    @Cramer – On the off chance that you actually are interested in what I think is the correct definition of Agnostic (in contrast to putting words in my mouth @86), here it is, courtesy again of Webster’s
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/agnostic
    1: a person who holds the view that any ultimate reality (as God) is unknown and probably unknowable; broadly: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistence of God or a god
    2: a person who is unwilling to commit to an opinion about something

    You should, by now, have come to grips with the differences between the two words. An atheist Believes, but an agnostic does not.

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  91. 91. centromere 10:31 pm 02/15/2013

    @86.Cramer – “… Should I assume that some commenters are not sincere in this dialogue? …”

    Yes, you should. That commenter would be you.

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  92. 92. Cramer 11:40 pm 02/15/2013

    Bremsstrahlung,

    I can no longer continue with this thread. You compared me to Humpty Dumpty and you say it is not an insult. There no place for that behavior in a productive discussion.

    To All,

    There have been many comments deleted by the moderator. I have had four of my own comments deleted. I don’t know why since I used no ad hominems. There is one major problem with these deletions. SciAm has created a blog commenting application where the deleted comments still appear to the person who posted the comment. This would have to be deliberate by the SciAm website programmers/staff and it is deceitful. It could very well be the cause of many of the misunderstandings.

    [Note: I believe this only happens in the comments section of SciAm blog site (blogs.scientificamerican.com) and not in comment section of the SciAm New & Features articles.]

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  93. 93. Chryses 7:05 am 02/16/2013

    Cramer (92),

    If you take anything useful away from this conversation, and I hope you do, I hope one of the items will be that words have meaning, and are important. Or if not that, then at least a heightened sensitivity that other (I daresay most) people think that words have meaning and are important.

    When, as I think did happen here, an individual rejects the common meaning of the words that support the tool people use to assess ideas – language – the tool they share is compromised and their ability to critically judge is diminished. This was particularly true in this instance, as the subject, the film, was based on the word, atheism.

    Essentially, no conversation of substance could occur about the film until after we achieved consensus about what atheism meant. You repeatedly questioned what others meant (ref here your post currently at #53) about the word atheism, rather than the film about atheism.

    I think that was a poor decision.

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  94. 94. Cramer 1:08 pm 02/16/2013

    Chryses,

    It was not my “poor decision” to discuss atheism rather than the film. The chronology of comments is here for all to see. I responded to comments that “Atheism is a religion” and your comment about the “assertion of truth.” Why did you not not mention the film? The only comment mentioning the film was by Christianaak #55 that I’m aware.

    I MADE ERRORS. I also posted the corrections to those errors almost immediately. I had four comments deleted.

    In #53 I stated, “Atheism is simply the rejection of the belief in the existence of a god. There is no requirement for the assertion that a god does not exist.”

    I should have written, “Atheism can be simply the rejection…”

    You said in comment #35, “Note that his position is active (yes there is no God), and not passive (he is unpersuded that God exists).” and “This active stance – this assertion of Truth – distinguishes the atheist from the agnostic.”

    Let me repeat, YOU said, “THIS ASSERTION OF TRUTH DISTINGUISHES THE ATHEIST FROM THE AGNOSTIC.”

    My primary position was you don’t have to “ASSERT TRUTH” to be an atheist. The Random House defintion #2 is NOT an assertion of the truth.

    when I asked you about it, you could have clarified your statement or change it. Instead in comment #39 you claimed your statement was about whether Ronald was telling the TRUTH about whether or not he was an atheist. Give me a break. Is that really your best answer???

    I MADE ERRORS, but in my later comments I clarified my position.

    It is interesting to note what commenters have offered apologies or admitted errors and those that haven’t (and also worse behavior). Can you clarify your position?

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  95. 95. Cramer 1:13 pm 02/16/2013

    FractalNumber,

    Let me repeat: I believe the Random House (RH) definition is correct:

    Atheism (RH):
    1. the doctrine or belief that there is no God.
    2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

    You said (#89), “An atheist Believes, but an agnostic does not.”

    If an atheist believes, how is definition #2 an atheist. Sounds like to me you are claiming:
    RH definition #1 = atheism
    RH definition #2 = agnosticism

    There is such a thing as an agnostic atheist. And I think that is what people are having a difficult time reconciling.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic_atheism

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  96. 96. Chryses 4:07 pm 02/16/2013

    Cramer (95),

    It was not my “poor decision” to discuss atheism rather than the film …
    You are entitled to your opinion, as am I. I have explained to you why I think you made a poor decision to invest your time and energy in challenging the customary definition of ‘atheist’. You disagree with me.

    … The chronology of comments is here for all to see …
    Interestingly, that seems to be inconsistent, as posts disappear and reappear.

    I responded to comments that “Atheism is a religion” and your comment about the “assertion of truth.”
    Your first post (currently #17), of 200+ words was a response to neither “Atheism is a religion”, nor the “assertion of truth”, but rather an attack on the atheism of Ayn Rand, and Republican politics.

    Why did you not not mention the film? The only comment mentioning the film was by Christianaak #55 that I’m aware.
    You miss the point of my criticism @94. Why should I bother attempting to discuss a film the subject of which is itself being challenged?

    I MADE ERRORS. I also posted the corrections to those errors almost immediately.
    I agree with you – on both items, but point out that you only made corrections to what you considered to be errors, not the overarching opinion of most of the other commenters to this thread – that you steadfastly elected to use a definition of atheist that was shared only by christianaak.

    I had four comments deleted.
    I experienced the same, as (I think) have others.

    My primary position was you don’t have to “ASSERT TRUTH” to be an atheist. The Random House defintion #2 is NOT an assertion of the truth.
    Actually, yes, it is. Yes, it is an assertion of the truth of the proposition “God does not exist”. I shall assume, for the sake of the argument, that disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings is what you refer to as the Random House definition #2. The word in that definition which could be assertive is the noun disbelief. Using the dictionary again, disbelief provides “the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true.” Now, I think you’ll agree that ‘refusal’ is an active process. This, in turn produces, even in your definition #2 an active, not passive, position on the proposition that ‘X’ (here ‘X’ = God does not exist) is true. So, yes, in English, to be an atheist is to be active, not passive. The passive position is an agnostic one, which describes the lack or absence of belief.

    It is interesting to note what commenters have offered apologies or admitted errors and those that haven’t (and also worse behavior).
    Yes, noting those who have acknowledged making errors, and who have acknowledged posting ad hominem comments is revealing.

    Can you clarify your position?
    I think your preferred interpretation of atheism is inconsistent with the common use of the term as used in Standard English, and as documented in popular contemporary dictionaries.

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  97. 97. Cramer 4:49 pm 02/16/2013

    These diagrams are very common (google agnostic atheist diagram):

    http://i.stack.imgur.com/yX0vu.png

    from wiki:
    Agnostic atheism: The view of those who do not believe in the existence of any deity, but do not claim to know if a deity does or does not exist.

    Agnostic theism: The view of those who do not claim to know of the existence of any deity, but still believe in such an existence.

    Gnostic atheism: The view of those who claim to know of a deity does not exist.

    Gnostic theism: The view of those who claim to know of the existence of any deity.

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  98. 98. FractalNumber 5:01 pm 02/16/2013

    @96.Cramer – “… You said (#89), ‘An atheist Believes, but an agnostic does not.’ … “

    I posted @48, “Agnostics lack belief. Atheists have belief.”
    I posted @91, “An atheist Believes, but an agnostic does not.”

    Don’t blame me for the magically changing post numbers, blame the Mods.

    “…If an atheist believes, how is definition #2 an atheist. Sounds like to me you are claiming:
    RH definition #1 = atheism
    RH definition #2 = agnosticism …”

    You are mistaken. Disbelief is an active process, not a passive one.
    A lack of belief that God exists =/= belief that God does not exist. The former is passive (agnostic) and the latter is active (atheistic).

    If you wish to indulge you penchant for philosophical distinctions, you’ll probably have better luck making your sales pitch on a site which caters to such refinements. This thread was intended to be about a movie, not about where on some “Theistic credibility line” you feel most comfortable.

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  99. 99. centromere 5:09 pm 02/16/2013

    @97. Cramer – “These diagrams are very common (google agnostic atheist diagram):”

    They’re also irrelevancies bordering on SPAM.

    What do they have to do with the movie thread you’ve hijacked with your self-indulgent “all about my interpretation of a word” posturing?

    Nothing, that’s what – which is the net contribution you’ve made to this thread.

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  100. 100. Bremsstrahlung 5:15 pm 02/16/2013

    @92. Cramer

    “Bremsstrahlung,
    I can no longer continue with this thread.”

    I wonder what character is evoked when someone intentionally posts something that is blatantly false. Wait! I know!

    Batman’s foe – The Joker!

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  101. 101. Cramer 5:19 pm 02/16/2013

    Chryses said, “The passive position is an agnostic one, which describes the lack or absence of belief.” and “‘refusal’ is an active process.”

    So only infants and others who have NOT REFUSED to believe in God can be agnostic???

    And oops I made another error again, let me be even more verbose in my one of my statements. My statement about “truth” left too many loopholes. I forgot to include the object of the truth (i.e. the truth about what). (My error was in assuming that everyone knows that we are discussing the existence of god.)

    WRONG (my error):
    My primary position was you don’t have to “ASSERT TRUTH” to be an atheist. The Random House defintion #2 is NOT an assertion of the truth.

    CORRECTED VERSION:
    My primary position was you don’t have to “ASSERT THE TRUTH (I.E. IT IS A FACT) THAT GOD DOES NOT EXIST” to be an atheist. The Random House defintion #2 is NOT an assertion of the truth that god does not exist.

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  102. 102. Chryses 5:40 pm 02/16/2013

    Cramer (101),

    The Random House defintion #2 is NOT an assertion of the truth that god does not exist.
    I posted at #96 the refutation of that claim. You seem to have overlooked it, so here, for your reading pleasure, it is again.

    Actually, yes, it is. Yes, it is an assertion of the truth of the proposition “God does not exist”. I shall assume, for the sake of the argument, that disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings is what you refer to as the Random House definition #2. The word in that definition which could be assertive is the noun disbelief. Using the dictionary again, disbelief provides “the inability or refusal to believe or to accept something as true.” Now, I think you’ll agree that ‘refusal’ is an active process. This, in turn produces, even in your definition #2 an active, not passive, position on the proposition that ‘X’ (here ‘X’ = God does not exist) is true. So, yes, in English, to be an atheist is to be active, not passive. The passive position is an agnostic one, which describes the lack or absence of belief.

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  103. 103. abolitionist 5:56 pm 02/16/2013

    I don’t know if anyone else has noticed, but don’t Cramer’s posts sound more and more like those of a religious zealot?

    It matters not what evidence you guys provide, nor how carefully, nor how often you explain what his errors are, he repeats his chant “The Random House defintion #2 is NOT an assertion of the truth that god does not exist.”! Of course, that this is def #2, the less commonly used definition, and that he implicitly accepts that the more commonly used definition, #1 is an assertion of the truth that god does not exist (but he pretends that doesn’t matter).

    There you have it, ladies and gentlemen! Cramer, an atheist, is displaying blind faith in what he believes in his heart of hearts is so very, very true.

    Atheism is just another Faith built on another assumption that cannot be proved true.

    Q.E.D.

    Link to this
  104. 104. Cramer 6:02 pm 02/16/2013

    Chryses,

    Agnostic is not passive (lack of belief). Gnostic/Agnostic is about knowledge.

    Agnosticism is the BELIEF that the existence or non-existence of any deity is unknown and possibly unknowable.

    Didn’t just say belief and disbelief were active?

    Also you did not answer my question:

    Is it only infants and others who have not considered the belief in the existence in God that can be agnostic???

    Link to this
  105. 105. Cramer 6:17 pm 02/16/2013

    Chryses,

    I posted a refutation of your claim and you seemed to have overlooked reading any of my references:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnosticism

    Learning from others is a good thing. Thoughts from the gut are not always correct.

    Link to this
  106. 106. abolitionist 7:07 pm 02/16/2013

    Cramer @105 & 106

    Thanks for providing additional examples of your religious fervor!

    It is always amusing to watch another religious zealot preach to the unconverted.

    Not exactly what I would expect in a SciAm blog, but it takes all kinds.

    Link to this
  107. 107. centromere 7:19 pm 02/16/2013

    @107. abolitionist – You know, that’s right! Cramer IS a religious zealot! I hadn’t noticed before, but I’ve just browsed the thread again, and that’s exactly what he’s doing – attempting to bring The Truth to the Unbelievers!

    Atheism is his religion!

    Link to this
  108. 108. Chryses 8:01 pm 02/16/2013

    Cramer (104),

    Agnostic is not passive (lack of belief). Gnostic/Agnostic is about knowledge.
    Now you’re mixing up your theologies. LOL!

    Link to this
  109. 109. Cramer 8:18 pm 02/16/2013

    According to the definitions of atheism by Chryses and the tribe cheering him on, I am not an atheist.

    I believe that the existence or non-existence of any deity is unknown and possibly unknowable.

    I also attend Catholic mass on a weekly basis. My parish priest is well aware of my doubts of the existence of God –I have discussed it with him. I attended mass on Ash Wednesday. The Gospel on Ash Wednesday was about religious hypocrites. Gospels like that are what keep going to church (I believe in the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth — I just don’t believe he was God). Seems many believe the opposite.

    I do not choose to doubt (or disbelieve). I would prefer to believe in God. I would also prefer to be able to call myself agnostic rather than an atheist. I would like to believe that somehow I have been duped by some atheists (including George Smith, Antony Flew, etc) into believing that I am an atheist when am really not.

    I was actually hoping for someone here to provide a logical argument (with references) that I am merely agnostic. Unfortunately, feelings from the gut are not always logical and were not sufficient here. Nobody here was able to show that George Smith, Antony Flew, and others are wrong about their definition of atheism.

    It is interesting nobody here provided a single reference from a theologian, but only short definitions from dictionaries. The circular and contradictory logic used to twist the Random House definitions was also interesting.

    Link to this
  110. 110. Cramer 8:23 pm 02/16/2013

    Chryses (#108),

    Are you saying that one can not be both agnostic and an atheist??? I bet that is another question you will refuse to answer.

    Here’s the definition of gnostic:
    “Of, relating to, or possessing intellectual or spiritual knowledge.”
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/gnostic

    Are you confusing this with 2nd century Gnosticism (capital G)?

    I did accidently capitalize agnostic, but gnostic was the first word in the sentence. The error of capitalizing truth and faith have also been made by many here, including yourself.

    Link to this
  111. 111. Chryses 8:33 pm 02/16/2013

    Cramer (111),

    I did accidently capitalize agnostic
    Yes, you did make another mistake, carried away in your religious passion!

    Go tell it on the mountain! Bring others to the light!
    Assuming you get it right this time!
    LOL!

    Link to this
  112. 112. Cramer 8:46 pm 02/16/2013

    Chryses,

    Are you ever going to answer the questions I asked you or are you only going to continue to play games and throw insults. I only continued with this thread because you came back to the discussion. I thought you were more serious than abolitionist, et. al. That gang is beyond hope; not worth my time.

    If you think calling me religious bothers me, you’re wrong. Insults do not bother me. But if that’s all you have, there’s no reason to continue here.

    Link to this
  113. 113. centromere 10:16 pm 02/16/2013

    @110. Cramer – “According to the definitions of atheism by Chryses and the tribe cheering him on, I am not an atheist.”

    Nope! abolitionist has convinced me that you’re a True believer! a Real Religious Zealot!

    Link to this
  114. 114. Bremsstrahlung 10:28 pm 02/16/2013

    @112.Cramer

    “Insults do not bother me. But if that’s all you have, there’s no reason to continue here.”

    Now WHERE have we heard THAT before? Oh wait! I remember it was @92! “Bremsstrahlung,
    I can no longer continue with this thread.”

    Will you break your promise AGAIN?

    … stay tuned to the next episode of “True Believer”!

    Link to this
  115. 115. Chryses 10:40 pm 02/16/2013

    Cramer (112),

    “… are you only going to continue to play games and throw insults …”

    Insults? What insults? abolitionist has exposed your religious proselytizing for what it is. Stand tall! Man up, and embrace your religion – Atheism! Admit to yourself what you have shown in this thread to everyone else; you are one who has Seen the Light, and you’ll preach your Good News until you’ve converted all those who are not as enlightened as you.

    Be proud of your religion.

    Link to this
  116. 116. jayjacobus 6:35 pm 02/26/2013

    There are some arguments that believers give for the existence of God:

    1. The universe has a cause. An eternal, powerful God is the cause. Accidental causes are not believable.

    2. The universe is complex and self sustaining. An intelligent being (God) created a plan rather than the universe evolved helter skelter.

    A watch suggest a watchmaker. The universe suggests a universe maker.

    3. There are moral laws that come from the law maker (God). Without moral laws the survival of the fittest overrules justice, truth, fairness, liberty, etc.

    4. Mankind’s purpose depends on God’s plans. Without God’s plans people would be without purpose.

    5. The resurrection of Christ is historically undeniable and proves the existence of God.

    6. Many, many people have had callings to serve God and mankind. A calling is a strong unplanned intent to follow.

    7. In the development of human thinking many people are self centered. Universal thinking comes with prayer and self analysis. Most highly developed people claim a benefit from belief in God.

    Link to this

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