Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#21  Postby LIFE » Oct 07, 2010 11:19 pm

Paul Almond wrote:Some ideas of God are incoherent, so they don't even get to be wrong. I am assuming, here, that we are starting with a reasonably coherent idea of God.

I mean that I view the existence of God as so unlikely, that while I am not absolutely certain that God does not exist, my degree of confidence in the non-existence of God easily matches or exceeds the degree of confidence I have about other things which, using normal, everyday semantics, I would claim to know about and would describe using the language of certainty, without probabilistic qualifications. I base this on the hyper-extreme nature of the claim and the lack of evidence needed to support such an extreme claim.


I expected you to say so but wouldn't it be more expedient to try and avoid ambiguities?
Instead of absolute certainty say fully convinced? Added equivocation obfuscates otherwise transparent communication, no? I say this because I myself often struggle to identify the intended meaning of the communicator's proposition when there's more than one definition given and more than one definition would equally apply in context.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#22  Postby Paul Almond » Oct 07, 2010 11:20 pm

Teuton wrote:
Paul Almond wrote:
Some ideas of God are incoherent, so they don't even get to be wrong. I am assuming, here, that we are starting with a reasonably coherent idea of God.


Is the idea of an immaterial spirit, especially of a transcendent (extraspatial/extraspatiotemporal) one, "reasonably coherent"?


I'm aware that most of what theists say tends to be incoherent. I don't have any problem with an extraspatial mind (in terms of coherence I mean), because I can imagine, for example, something going through state transitions, like a Turing machine, which just happen not to be describable in spatial terms: That doesn't necessarily make it plausible. I would regard the idea of an atemporal mind as a much bigger problem. If someone wants God to be "before time" in "some other time" or analog of time - or outside time "in some other time" or analog of time - if there is going to be some dimension along which the process of thinking can occur - then I would accept that it could be coherent. However, if the theist simply declares God's thinking to be atemporal, without anything put in there to replace "time as we know it", I would say this is incoherent.

Most theists probably do have an incoherent idea of God.

And of course, I am discussing a very silly idea here as if it is sensible - and I want to be very clear that I think it is not sensible.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#23  Postby Paul Almond » Oct 07, 2010 11:21 pm

LIFE wrote:I expected you to say so but wouldn't it be more expedient to try and avoid ambiguities?
Instead of absolute certainty say fully convinced? Added equivocation obfuscates otherwise transparent communication, no? I say this because I myself often struggle to identify the intended meaning of the communicator's proposition.

Well, can you prove I typed any of that stuff?
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#24  Postby LIFE » Oct 07, 2010 11:25 pm

Paul Almond wrote:
LIFE wrote:I expected you to say so but wouldn't it be more expedient to try and avoid ambiguities?
Instead of absolute certainty say fully convinced? Added equivocation obfuscates otherwise transparent communication, no? I say this because I myself often struggle to identify the intented meaning of the communicator's proposition.

Well, can you prove I typed any of that stuff?


No, since you clarified what you mean when you say "I know there is no god". Without clarification one could think that he who says "I know there is no god" is deluded if we take "to know" for "to know with absolute certainty" which prerequires the knowledge of the entire universe.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#25  Postby Teuton » Oct 07, 2010 11:35 pm

Paul Almond wrote:I don't have any problem with an extraspatial mind (in terms of coherence I mean), because I can imagine, for example, something going through state transitions, …


Extraspatiality entails immateriality, and that mental entities exist independently of any physical entities seems ontologically impossible to me.

"'Pure spirit' is a pure stupidity: when we discount the nervous system and the senses, the 'mortal shroud', we miscount—nothing more! …"

(Nietzsche, The Antichrist, §14)

Paul Almond wrote:
However, if the theist simply declares God's thinking to be atemporal, without anything put in there to replace "time as we know it", I would say this is incoherent.


So would I—and many theists.

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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#26  Postby tuco » Oct 07, 2010 11:43 pm

Who knows (a lot (more) is not ashamed to admit: I know nothing. This is said to be wise, do not know about stupid. Then again, Socrates could not be that wise considering his ends.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#27  Postby Paul Almond » Oct 08, 2010 3:38 am

LIFE wrote:No, since you clarified what you mean when you say "I know there is no god". Without clarification one could think that he who says "I know there is no god" is deluded if we take "to know" for "to know with absolute certainty" which prerequires the knowledge of the entire universe.

but I would say that when we say "I know" something we aren't usually making a claim that is that strong. If you were in a conversation with someone, and you remembered them saying something ten seconds ago, you would normally have no problem saying that you know that they said that thing. Issues of residual uncertainty (false memories, etc) wouldn't be an issue here. Normally, we don't need qualification on this because we all know what "I know" means.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#28  Postby LIFE » Oct 08, 2010 3:52 am

Paul Almond wrote:but I would say that when we say "I know" something we aren't usually making a claim that is that strong. If you were in a conversation with someone, and you remembered them saying something ten seconds ago, you would normally have no problem saying that you know that they said that thing. Issues of residual uncertainty (false memories, etc) wouldn't be an issue here. Normally, we don't need qualification on this because we all know what "I know" means.


I was playing the devil's advocate. As theists -at least according to my observation- make the claim that we cannot know with absolute certainty therefore we shouldn't make such a claim. Of course I could go on and clarify each time but it's their misrepresentation and I'm merely trying to analyse their pov and see how I can communicate in a successful way so they receive what I've been sending in their direction.

Paul Almond wrote:And of course, I am discussing a very silly idea here as if it is sensible - and I want to be very clear that I think it is not sensible.


Since you made that remark in a reply to Teuton I'm unsure whether you find my objection not sensible or if it was indeed only addressing his response? You seem to think that miscommunication between theists/atheists is a non-issue? :scratch: I don't have a problem understanding you since we seem to be on the same page, I'm rather addressing "leaks" in communication between people who hold opposing views if that makes sense.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#29  Postby Paul Almond » Oct 08, 2010 4:37 pm

LIFE wrote:
Paul Almond wrote:And of course, I am discussing a very silly idea here as if it is sensible - and I want to be very clear that I think it is not sensible.

Since you made that remark in a reply to Teuton I'm unsure whether you find my objection not sensible or if it was indeed only addressing his response? You seem to think that miscommunication between theists/atheists is a non-issue? :scratch: I don't have a problem understanding you since we seem to be on the same page, I'm rather addressing "leaks" in communication between people who hold opposing views if that makes sense.

I mean that the idea of a god existing is not sensible: I am not saying that anything said by anyone here is not sensible. I disagree with Teuton about whether non-spatial things can be coherent. As far as I am concerned, non-spatial and non-temporal things can exist in principle without causing me philosophical issues; however, that is just a disagreement and I am not saying that anyone is not being sensible.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#30  Postby LIFE » Oct 08, 2010 4:41 pm

Paul Almond wrote:I mean that the idea of a god existing is not sensible: I am not saying that anything said by anyone here is not sensible. I disagree with Teuton about whether non-spatial things can be coherent. As far as I am concerned, non-spatial and non-temporal things can exist in principle without causing me philosophical issues; however, that is just a disagreement and I am not saying that anyone is not being sensible.


Gotcha :thumbup:
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#31  Postby HughMcB » Oct 08, 2010 4:42 pm

If Sagan said this he was wrong, plain and simple.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#32  Postby Teuton » Oct 08, 2010 4:43 pm

Paul Almond wrote:I disagree with Teuton about whether non-spatial things can be coherent.


I've only been talking about concrete nonspatial things with mental properties (Cartesian souls/spirits), not about abstract nonspatial things (e.g. numbers, sets), which lack mental properties by definition.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#33  Postby Witticism » Oct 08, 2010 5:22 pm

LIFE wrote:
Sagan would be so useful today, what with all the debates about science and religion. By most definitions he would be called an atheist, but he hated the term. "An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."


Source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/co ... 870_2.html

:scratch:

I couldn't find another source where he said something similar with regard to the label atheism so I suppose the predominant contemporary definition of atheism at that time was that an atheist claims to know that there are no deities? Similar to what Dawkins describes as strong atheism then?

Unfortunately a lot of Sagan 'quotes' on the net are bogus.

I'm not sure about this one.

Its very late here, don't have time to check atm ... going to bed.

Just book marking so I can come back later ... with some input.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#34  Postby Animavore » Oct 08, 2010 6:41 pm

Well here's a list of things he said in regards to God and belief.
http://atheism.about.com/library/quotes/bl_q_CSagan.htm

The idea that God is an oversized white male with a flowing beard who sits in the sky and tallies the fall of every sparrow is ludicrous. But if by God one means the set of physical laws that govern the universe, then clearly there is such a God. This God is emotionally unsatisfying... it does not make much sense to pray to the law of gravity.


If he's an agnostic he certainly seems to be an atheist agnostic.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#35  Postby sanja » Oct 09, 2010 7:00 pm

Sityl wrote: or he was just trying to appear "moderate" so as to keep people listening,

Why do you presume him being dishonest?
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#36  Postby Nebogipfel » Oct 10, 2010 8:58 pm

HughMcB wrote:If Sagan said this he was wrong, plain and simple.


Well, he was at least considerate enough to say what he meant by the word "atheism".
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#37  Postby Nebogipfel » Oct 10, 2010 8:59 pm

Andrew4Handel wrote:It doesn't matter what you believe about gods existence.

Either he/she/it exists or doesn't etc.


Absolutely spot on. Now, how do we go about deciding which is the case?
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#38  Postby LIFE » Oct 10, 2010 11:07 pm

Andrew4Handel wrote:It doesn't matter what you believe about gods existence.

Either he/she/it exists or doesn't etc.


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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#39  Postby Andrew4Handel » Oct 11, 2010 12:34 am

Nebogipfel wrote:
Andrew4Handel wrote:It doesn't matter what you believe about gods existence.

Either he/she/it exists or doesn't etc.


Absolutely spot on. Now, how do we go about deciding which is the case?


Is it possible to decide?

A decision wouldn't be based on an exhaustive knowledge of reality, the universe, philosophy an ethics.

I don't see the need to commit ones self to a stance on the unkown or unknowable. I think behind the core of the theist-agnostic-atheist debates are ideological and psychological factors.

I don't think a deity is the only answer either. There are arguments that endow humans with powers and influence in the universe (which indeed we have through our mastery of science and nature). There are gaia type arguments, arguments about nirvana, reincarnation et al.

If people are opposed to religion and deism on moral grounds are they equally critical or behaviour that is not clearly linked to religion like communist atrocities, bad parenting, recent genocides (Rwanada) etc. this couldlead to rejecting alot of human values and institutions as failures.
If there is no God/s then that ensures that all of mankinds misdemeanours atrocities are mankinds own fault. Which makes us seem like a reprehensible sick species. There are days when I utterly support that diagnosis.
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Re: Sagan: An atheist is someone who knows there is no god.

#40  Postby MattHunX » Oct 12, 2010 10:19 am

LIFE wrote:
Andrew4Handel wrote:It doesn't matter what you believe about gods existence.

Either he/she/it exists or doesn't etc.


Image


For the majority of people it does matter. And they are willing to do many things in order to get closer to their chosen deity.

It matters greatly what people believe about a god's existence, and their beliefs can have a very negative effect on others, and even distance does not matter when psychological terror is at play.

So, do try and tell such statements to the families of the victims of the attack above.
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