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Does Ath*ism have a future? NO!


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you omit a group of atheists that claim to "know" there is/are no god(s).

 

 

Thank you, these are the guys i have been talking about that CC seems to omit when constructing his arguments...

 

What I'm saying is that there appear to be very few category 7 atheists. The majority of us know that there is no proof or evidence that could, even in principle, falsify the concept of deity. As a minority (within a group which you might call atheists), these strong atheists influence not in the least other less extreme supernatural-free worldview holders.

 

 

The misunderstandings expressed above

 

 

You state that there are misunderstandings expressed, as in multiple, and yet fail to point out what they are, even one...

 

Let me point out, in bold type, what I think are your misunderstandings.

 

Atheists that were actively atheistic, proving religion wrong and not really accepting here-say as proof. With the gradual development of this group of atheists, a different kind of an atheist face was shown, ones that actively denied any existence of god, with total denial of any possibility of thereof.

 

But the absence of proof, is still a heavily burden on both sides of the argument, the fact that there is no evidence that there is god, is in itself not evidence against god, its part of scientific methodology, but because that kind of active atheism was firstly and i would think mostly influenced by philosophers as opposed to actual scientists, who mostly fall into the passive, or the more traditional kind of atheism, a notion that active atheists should actively deny god is itself based on an opinion, or faith, that god does not exist, and thus, like religion, is based on an assumption, rather then actual scientific argument.

 

There is no unified doctrine as to what atheist is to think or how they are to act, but an active atheist actively believes in nonexistence of god, by which they follow a rule, not a truth, but an assumption of others.

 

Also, theoric atheism is not the same as active atheism, and vise-versa, theoric atheism is any form of atheism that follows a theory that god does not exist, which is a rule/guideline for atheistic form of a belief.

 

This form, as i have described above, limit's it's followers to think a certain way, in a similar matter to religion, but in no way to the same extent.

 

The strong form of active atheism takes on a face that is even more similar to religion, infact the stronger, the form, the more it resembles a religious-type following, though maybe closer to a cult or a sect, usually with a stronger leader in charge. When you start looking into activism and active atheism, you start seeing forms of preaching, meetings, books, etc...

 

 

 

 

 

Certainly, when viewed in light of the type of scale described above, where 0% is no faith or non-belief in the existence of god, the supernatural, miracles, tooth fairies, or what have you, that the idea that there exists some type of correlation between religious beliefs and atheistic worldviews is almost laughable.

 

 

 

In sum:

 

The opposite of belief in god is no belief in god.

That requires no leap of faith, at all.

 

 

____________________

 

 

 

“I believe in God... just in case. It's like there's some list somewhere and you don't want to be on it. I don't want to say THERE'S NO GOD! and then die and say, Oh, Hi... Is there some kind of community service I can do?”

(Mark Maron)

 

 

“If there were no God, it would have been necessary to invent him.”

(Voltaire)

 

 

“God is a thought who makes crooked all that is straight.”

(Friedrich Nietzsche)

 

 

“I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.”

(Frank Lloyd Wright)

 

 

 

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The opposite of belief in god is no belief in god.

That requires no leap of faith, at all.

So where on that scale does the belief in no god go? And do you think that that too requires no leap of faith? While there are not a lot of people who believe in no god, as opposed to not believing in god, they are still atheists, and they still basically follow an ideology that they believe they don't follow...

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So where on that scale does the belief in no god go? And do you think that that too requires no leap of faith? While there are not a lot of people who believe in no god, as opposed to not believing in god, they are still atheists, and they still basically follow an ideology that they believe they don't follow...

 

This is just a variation on the "atheism is just another religion" theme.

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Ok Alexander. We're finally getting somewhere.

 

I'm glad to see you've dropped the "resembles a religious-type following" attitude. Atheists have no dogmatic-like "rules" to follow.

 

So where on that scale does the belief in no god go? And do you think that that too requires no leap of faith? While there are not a lot of people who believe in no god, as opposed to not believing in god, they are still atheists, and they still basically follow an ideology that they believe they don't follow...

 

The question is not where belief in no god goes on the scale. It is where on the scale are those who do not believe in god?

 

Some one who does NOT believe in god is at 0% (or damn close to zero).

 

Notice, this isn't a claim of the type "I know He doesn't exist."

 

It is of the type "I believe not at all in god" or "I have no belief in god."

 

 

So, do atheists follow an ideology? Atheist probably all have world-views, ideologies that differ to some extent, but they are likely all free of the supernatural, deities or omniscient forces, entities or phenomena.

 

Hardly, again, a leap of faith.

 

 

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The question is not where belief in no god goes on the scale. It is where on the scale are those who do not believe in god?

 

Both of these groups exist though. There are those that have a belief that there is no god, gnostic-atheists for the most part, and those that simply lack belief in god, agnostic-atheists for the most part. Both positions lack belief in deities but the first has an affirmative belief that there are no deities. Both are atheists. IMO, anyone that merely doubts the existence of a deity is atheist to some extent.

 

For the sake of complicating the matter further I am also ignostic in that I believe the whole debate is basically meaningless until someone comes up with a definition of god that everyone agrees on. How can you talk about "what" does or does not exist if you don't define the "what" to begin with. Over in India they think cows are gods and if that's the definition one wants to use then you could label me a gnostic-theist because I don't just believe cows exist, I know they exist ;)

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Both of these groups exist though. There are those that have a belief that there is no god, gnostic-atheists for the most part, and those that simply lack belief in god, agnostic-atheists for the most part. Both positions lack belief in deities but the first has an affirmative belief that there are no deities. Both are atheists. IMO, anyone that merely doubts the existence of a deity is atheist to some extent.

 

For the sake of complicating the matter further I am also ignostic in that I believe the whole debate is basically meaningless until someone comes up with a definition of god that everyone agrees on. How can you talk about "what" does or does not exist if you don't define the "what" to begin with. Over in India they think cows are gods and if that's the definition one wants to use then you could label me a gnostic-theist because I don't just believe cows exist, I know they exist :eek2:

 

 

Here's the way I see it:

 

 

There are very few (if any) persons that claim "I know god does not exist." That is, obviously, because there is no evidence or proof to make such an assertion, at least not from an epistemological standpoint. Those few people who make this claim are not rooted in any belief system, as those that do believe in god. Quite the contrary. They do not believe, and therefore there is no god for them, and they "know" there is no god for them. "Knowing" in this case is, again, not epistemological.

 

Let's not forget upon whom lies the burden of proof. In this case, regarding the possible existence of god (whatever that is), the burden of proof is on the person making the positive claim: that god exists. The need is to provide evidence to demonstrate the truth of the assertion. That may include circumstantial evidence or direct evidence, or evidence that suggests the existence of god as opposed to evidence that directly proves its existence. Good luck!

 

The atheist does not carry the burden of proof. Whoever does not carry the burden of proof carries the benefit of assumption. That holds for strong atheists. Many atheists (though not all) claim that scientific evidence is sufficient for explaining the structure, things, events, happenings and phenomena observed in the physical universe. God is NOT viewed as part of the explanatory structure needed to support such scientific conclusions.

 

 

God is seen as an object of the mind (a human invention).

 

 

Eye-witness claims to have 'seen' or 'felt' the presence of god appear to be utter nonsense, since there simply is no tangible evidence to substantiate such claims. That is a strong reason for not accepting eye-witness testimony. So the concept of god has not been shown to be tenable by those that claim it to be real. Certainly the concept is neither proven beyond the shadow of a doubt, nor by reasonable doubt.

 

This failure to fulfill the burden of proof (from evidence) has resulted in the disbelief of such contentions. There simply is no evidence, nor is there any hope of forthcoming evidence presenting itself. The concept is not testable, even in principle. The concept itself denies the possibility of direct evidence (circumstantial or anecdotal evidence even).

 

 

However, there is certainly a lot of evidence that corroborates with a naturalistic world-view (one where there is no such thing as deity, whatever that is), in all fields of science. All the relevant empirical evidence is contradictory to predicted expectations of those who would have god tinkering with nature. Thus the god hypothesis is rejected. This evidence accumulated over the years, centuries (that supports, just for example, say, Darwin's evolution theory) can be collectively referred to as refutation of the god hypothesis. But it should not be viewed as evidence to support such a claim as "I know god does not exist" in the epistemological sense.

 

 

____________________

 

 

Finally, everyone is free to believe in whatever he or she wishes to believe in.

 

 

But also, everyone is free NOT to believe in whatever he or she 'wishes' NOT to believe in.

 

 

And if there is empirical evidence (and there is plenty) that supports what this latter group claims (e.g., that science is capable of building an accurate representation of the physical world, without the ad hoc notion of deity), in an epistemological sense, then all the more reason to reject the god idea, and to accept, objectively, a naturalistic world-view, free of the supernatural.

 

 

I rest my case.

 

;)

 

 

 

 

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There are very few (if any) persons that claim "I know god does not exist." That is, obviously, because there is no evidence or proof to make such an assertion, at least not from an epistemological standpoint. Those few people who make this claim are not rooted in any belief system, as those that do believe in god. Quite the contrary. They do not believe, and therefore there is no god for them, and they "know" there is no god for them. "Knowing" in this case is, again, not epistemological...

 

The atheist does not carry the burden of proof. Whoever does not carry the burden of proof carries the benefit of assumption. That holds for strong atheists. Many atheists (though not all) claim that scientific evidence is sufficient for explaining the structure, things, events, happenings and phenomena observed in the physical universe. God is NOT viewed as part of the explanatory structure needed to support such scientific conclusions.

 

You seem to have forgotten the point that started this tangent. I've not said they have a belief system or that they are anything but atheist BUT that those that hold an affirmative belief that there is no god do so on "faith" and nothing else. That there are people which have faith that there is/are no god(s).

 

IMO, anyone that makes an affirmative claim that anything does or does not exist carries a burden of proof with that claim. Believe what you want but if you're going to tell me you "know" then be prepared to back up your claim.

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You seem to have forgotten the point that started this tangent. I've not said they have a belief system or that they are anything but atheist BUT that those that hold an affirmative belief that there is no god do so on "faith" and nothing else. That there are people which have faith that there is/are no god(s).

 

IMO, anyone that makes an affirmative claim that anything does or does not exist carries a burden of proof with that claim. Believe what you want but if you're going to tell me you "know" then be prepared to back up your claim.

 

I'm saying two things: no one "knows" god doesn't exist, and if someone claims that she "knows" god does not exist it is not based on faith.

 

 

No one "knows" god exists or does not exist; not even the Pope. There is no evidence either way.

 

Someone who does not believe in god, even strongly, denies the validity of any beliefs held by faith. To turn the argument around and claim strong atheists have "faith" that god does not exist is ludicrous. They simply do not believe in god. Nothing to do with faith.

 

Also, there are many definitions of faith. The problem is when you use the word faith for non-believers (that "know" god doesn't exist) and faith for believers, we're talking about two different definitions, respectively e.g., (1) a strong or unshakeable belief in nothing without proof or evidence, (2) a strong or unshakeable belief in something without proof or evidence. Clearly there is no comparison.

 

Let's take the first sentence of the Wiki article about Faith: Faith is the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing.

 

Now let's adapt that definition to both groups.

 

For strong atheists:

 

(1a) Faith is the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of the nonexistence of god.

 

Or, in another way, and more accurately:

 

(1b) Faith is the confident disbelief, or trust in the falsehood or untrustworthiness of a person, concept or thing [god].

 

 

For strong theists:

 

(2) Faith is the confident belief or trust in the truth or trustworthiness of a person, concept or thing [God].

 

Only the latter requires a giant leap. Faith 1a and 1b require no such leap.

 

Faith (see number 2) is employed in a religious or theological context to refer to a confident belief in a Supreme Being.

 

Atheists consider the term 'faith' to be a euphemism for religious superstition. In the absence of such, faith is vacated entirely. Thus faith is not relevant in the context of 1a. And in 1b faith is irrelevant and can be done away with since it suffices to say:

 

(1c) Strong atheists disbelieve, or trust in the falsehood or untrustworthiness of a concept or thing called god.

 

Faith is not involved, since faith implies a trusting reliance upon things that are not known and do not rest on logical proof or material evidence, or persuasion of the mind that a certain statement is true.

 

The naturalistic world-view that atheists (even strong atheists) build does rest on logical proof and empirical evidence (usually associated with mainstream science).

 

So the comparison between these different kinds of "faith" is more that grossly exaggerated, prejudiced and dishonest.

 

Faith is the trust in something. Not the distrust in something (or nothing).

 

If anything, the words that should be used are antonyms of "faith": disbelief, distrust, doubt, skepticism, suspicion.

 

 

 

I hope that clarifies the issue at hand. If not, I will be more than happy to clarify further. :)

 

 

 

I have a strong or unshakeable belief in nothing.

 

 

 

 

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I'm saying two things: no one "knows" god doesn't exist, and if someone claims that she "knows" god does not exist it is not based on faith.

 

Main Entry: 1 faith

Pronunciation: ˈfāth

Function: noun

Inflected Form(s): plural faiths ˈfāths, sometimes ˈfāthz

Etymology: Middle English feith, from Anglo-French feid, fei, from Latin fides; akin to Latin fidere to trust — more at bide

Date: 13th century

 

1 a : allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty b (1) : fidelity to one's promises (2) : sincerity of intentions

2 a (1) : belief and trust in and loyalty to God (2) : belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion b (1) : firm belief in something for which there is no proof (2) : complete trust

3 : something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially : a system of religious beliefs <the Protestant faith>

 

There you have it. When you have a firm belief for which there is no proof that is defined as faith, a word, like many others, that happens to have more than one meaning. A firm belief that there are no god(s) is one of faith, a belief for which there is no proof. That doesn't mean it's religious faith but it is faith by definition. No one here has claimed that the faith strong atheists have that no god(s) exist is religious, just that it is a faith based belief, as are all beliefs for which there is no proof. Actually, an agnostic belief, that man could never know the absolute truth, would fit the same definition of faith, a belief for which there is no proof. That doesn't make it religious, just another use of the word faith. What other word would you use to describe a belief for which no proof exists?

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[Faith:] firm belief in something for which there is no proof

 

In the case of atheism: a firm disbelief in something for which there is no evidence.

 

That is not faith.

 

In the case of atheism: a firm belief in nothing for which there is no evidence.

 

That is not faith.

 

 

Do you see the difference with the Webster definition?

 

 

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This is just a variation on the "atheism is just another religion" theme.

hmm... lets define 4 terms to make it easier to discuss:

theism - belief in a or any number of dieties

atheism - from a - not - theism - or disbelief in the existence of a or a number of dieties

antitheism - from anti - against - theism, or belief in no possibility of dieties

agnosticism - a- not - gnosis - spiritual knowledge (mystical enlightenment)- one who just does not know, and does not have a position on dieties

 

i stand that antitheism is and has views not unlike religious... and antitheists do fall in the group that is atheist (all of the last 3 definitions fit into that group)

 

IMO, anyone that makes an affirmative claim that anything does or does not exist carries a burden of proof with that claim. Believe what you want but if you're going to tell me you "know" then be prepared to back up your claim.

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In the case of atheism: a firm disbelief in something for which there is no evidence.

 

That is not faith.

 

In the case of atheism: a firm belief in nothing for which there is no evidence.

 

That is not faith.

 

 

Do you see the difference with the Webster definition?

 

 

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A FIRM belief that something does not exist when there is no proof to support that belief is faith. Take leprechauns for example, I do not simply lack belief in leprechauns, I affirmatively believe that they do not exist and I freely admit that the only support I have for that belief is faith. So what?

 

You seem unable to comprehend the fact that there are people which have an affirmative belief that god(s) do not exist or you yourself have an affirmative belief that such people do not exist. What is it you base that belief on?

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A FIRM belief that something does not exist when there is no proof to support that belief is faith. Take leprechauns for example, I do not simply lack belief in leprechauns, I affirmatively believe that they do not exist and I freely admit that the only support I have for that belief is faith. So what?

 

You seem unable to comprehend the fact that there are people which have an affirmative belief that god(s) do not exist or you yourself have an affirmative belief that such people do not exist. What is it you base that belief on?

 

 

hmm... lets define 4 terms to make it easier to discuss:

theism - belief in a or any number of dieties

atheism - from a - not - theism - or disbelief in the existence of a or a number of dieties

antitheism - from anti - against - theism, or belief in no possibility of dieties

agnosticism - a- not - gnosis - spiritual knowledge (mystical enlightenment)- one who just does not know, and does not have a position on dieties

 

i stand that antitheism is and has views not unlike religious... and antitheists do fall in the group that is atheist (all of the last 3 definitions fit into that group)

 

 

+1

 

 

Gentlemen, and for those of you joining us at this time, our discussion evolves around the concept defined in Richard Dawkins' theist scale that stretches between two extremes of opposite certainty: Spectrum of theistic probability. Particularly number 7, Strong atheist:

 

 

'I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one.'

 

 

The real issue at hand here is whether it can be agreed upon that Jung's identification and limitation of the way psychology "knows," in contradistinction to how religion "knows" things, can be extrapolated backwards to non-belief in the "strong atheists" sense described above. Note: This has nothing to do with how humans "know" things through the scientific method.

 

If we "know" no more than what is knowable by Jung's psychology, then Jung's psychology could just as well be considered a religion, or more than a religion even, since it is, in a sense, more subjective and apparently more presumptuous about what it knows. But that is not the whole story.

 

Christianity in Jung's view was no more than the process of 'individuation' written in the language of Christian symbols: something which left no room for an authentic Jungian-Christian dialogue.

 

Carl Gustav Jung ultimately rejected the established doctrines of Christianity for a more 'mystical religion' based upon personal experience. Jung had often stated that he does not believe, he "knows" based upon his own experience (from a life lived within the core of his own "psyche"). This core world of subjective visions and dreams was more "real" to him than the outer world of objective reality. Jung detested and rejected the Christianity of his father, whom he considered a feeble and catastrophic failure, one who preached an empty message about the grace of god. Carl's dissent impelled him to search for an entirely new belief system, one that could explain his own existence. But what Carl found was a 'religion' that represented a calamitous alteration from the so-called biblical 'truth' to one of myth, one that transgressed from Christianity to psychology, and stepped over a boundary from the conscious to the unconscious.

 

In essence, Jung's psychology reduced god to nothing more than an archetypal image, a kind of Universal Myth as opposed to the Bible's revelation of god as the Creator or the universe and ultimate arbiter of all that transpires within it.

 

The question of whether god exists or not didn't really concern Jung, since he believed that things which could not effect us might as well not exist. Jung's analytical psychology posits the existence of a quintessential god image: not god himself, per say. Insofar as the quintessential god, according to Jung, has a demonstrably palpable subconscious effect on us, god became a psychic fact: a concept that was useful in psychology. Furthermore, attuning oneself to this subjective core force (within the unconscious) became a religious experience. That is how one could accept the existence of god.

 

Certainly, Jung's god was not the traditional deity of theism, omnipotent, all-encompassing. Rather, it is was an inner god, relating to or existing in the mind or thoughts, a concern with inward reflections, a natural spirit within the universal psyche of human beings. It was arguably not a god at all.

 

 

 

So the claim that strong atheists "know there is no God" with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one, is justifiable without the concept of faith entering into the discussion. It could be argued, though I dislike doing so (because of the misunderstandings displayed throughout this thread on the terminology revolving around Jung's infamous phrase), that strong atheists "know" just as Jung 'knew' based upon subjective experience, not faith.

 

 

Clearly the word "know" in this discussion (either for theists or atheists) is not one of epistemological concern. To claim otherwise exemplifies a deep misunderstanding of the relevant literature and a gross misconception of the context within which the the word "know" is employed in number 7 of the Spectrum of theistic probability above (i.e., the context in which Jung used the term).

 

 

For these reasons I've maintained, and continue to do so, that atheism has nothing to do with "faith," no matter how that term is defined. Further more, that the comparison made throughout this thread to the effect that atheism (or strong atheism, if you prefer) is just "another religion" is pure nonsense.

 

Finally, too, that the burden of proof resides not with the strong atheist claim (if in fact number 7 is a reasonable extrapolation of Jung's psychology to atheism, to which I argue no it is not, for a variety of reasons), any more than Carl Gustav Jung had the burden of proof placed on himself for "knowing" in the sense in which it was originally meant by Jung himself.

 

 

 

"Knowledge rests not upon truth alone, but upon error also."

 

 

"Mistakes are, after all, the foundations of truth, and if a man does not know what a thing is, it is at least an increase in knowledge if he knows what it is not."

 

 

"The word "belief" is a difficult thing for me. I don't believe. I must have a reason for a certain hypothesis. Either I know a thing, and then I know it - I don't need to believe it."

 

(Carl Gustav Jung)

 

 

__________________

 

 

 

Edit:

Fortunately, Andrew Samuels has coined the term "post-Jungian". One can presumably learn from Jung's insights without necessarily sharing Jung's highly controversial theological position. (Source)

 

 

 

Enjoy

 

:)

 

 

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So the claim that strong atheists "know there is no God" with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one, is justifiable without the concept of faith entering into the discussion. It could be argued, though I dislike doing so (because of the misunderstandings displayed throughout this thread on the terminology revolving around Jung's infamous phrase), that strong atheists "know" just as Jung 'knew' based upon subjective experience, not faith....

 

For these reasons I've maintained, and continue to do so, that atheism has nothing to do with "faith," no matter how that term is defined. Further more, that the comparison made throughout this thread to the effect that atheism (or strong atheism, if you prefer) is just "another religion" is pure nonsense.

 

What's nonsense is nitpicking the clear definition of a word because it applies and you don't want it to. To have a strong conviction that something is true, to believe it to the point of claiming to know it is true, is clearly one of the very definitions of the word "faith", firm belief in something for which there is no proof. For anyone to claim as truth that they know there is no God, by any definition of the word God, is a claim of faith. It can be nothing else because there is no proof. If you don't like it I suggest you take it up with Merriam Webster and have it struck from the dictionary. Until then I will accept their definition over yours.

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What's nonsense is nitpicking the clear definition of a word because it applies and you don't want it to. To have a strong conviction that something is true, to believe it to the point of claiming to know it is true, is clearly one of the very definitions of the word "faith", firm belief in something for which there is no proof. For anyone to claim as truth that they know there is no God, by any definition of the word God, is a claim of faith. It can be nothing else because there is no proof. If you don't like it I suggest you take it up with Merriam Webster and have it struck from the dictionary. Until then I will accept their definition over yours.

 

I don't dispute the definition(s) of Faith, whatsoever.

 

You see, where you are mistaken is that atheist don't have a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. They have a firm disbelief in something for which there is no proof. They don't believe in god since there is no evidence to support the claim. Some, the strong atheists perhaps, belief in nothing without evidence. That is not faith C1ay. As mentioned before, that is the polar opposite of faith: disbelief, distrust, doubt, skepticism and suspicion of the god concept.

 

If you wish to continue arguing about the definition of faith you are missing the point entirely.

 

The question is; what is meant by the terminology expressed in sentences of the type: 'I know there is no God, with the same conviction as Jung "knows" there is one.'.

 

The questions regarding that terminology, what is meant by Jung's to "know" specifically, was answered in my post above, which I remark you failed to address. That is the key point.

 

 

The fact is, atheists do not believe in god. To claim they have faith that god does not exist is ridiculous, since no one on either side of the fence seriously claims to "know" whether god exists or not.

 

Even Jung's original comment was not something to be taken literally. If you would like a more literal version of what Jung did mean you will have to consult the relevant literature on the topic, some of which I've already included above, with references.

 

 

_____________________

 

 

This is the original BBC interview where C.G. Jung spoke those now famous words:

 

CG Jung 1/3, BBC 1959 (Oct 22) 'Face to Face' interview http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WQ8aV8YndwQ

 

At 5:15 the interviewer, BBC's John Freeman, asks Jung "Do you believe in god now?" and Jung replies, "Difficult to answer" [he pauses] "I know, I don't need to believe, I know."

 

 

Many people were astounded by Jung's answer to that question. For those who knew Jung it was paradoxical, since Jung himself acknowledged that proving the existence of God was beyond the purview of psychology.

 

It was an effort to 'popularize' his work that Jung, in his early 80s, chose to write and published his autobiography Memories, Dreams, Reflections in addition to a collaborative work titled Man and His Symbols. "Explaining his psychology in a simple way was an appeal for the public to realise the reality of the unconscious and, above all, to take their own souls seriously. To this end he needed to reach a wider public and, in 1959, he agreed to be interviewed by John Freeman for a BBC series about famous living people, called Face to Face. The interview was a success, with his much quoted remark about the existence of God - 'I don't believe, I know' - arousing a storm of comment at the time."

 

In an interview a year before his death Jung made the similar point:

 

"If you should find in yourself…an ineradicable tendency to believe in God or immortality, do not allow yourself to be disturbed by the blather of the so-called "free-thinkers," but if you find in yourself an equally resistant tendency to deny all religious ideas, do not hesitate to deny them and see how that suits you." (Source).

 

 

 

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As I think this and many similar threads demonstrate, the plethora of terms and concepts surrounding the question “what is atheism?” can be confusing.

 

Choosing a single concept on which to focus, I chose faith. The participants in this thread, and by extension, people in general, appear divided by their response to the yes/no question “does atheism require an act of faith?”

 

I’d like to first explore a definition of “faith” as distant from the domain of theology as possible, by providing several example of its occurrence and lack of occurrence, then use it to differently illuminate the idea in a theological context.

 

The definition: Faith is the phenomena of considering a hypothesis true despite repeated failures of tests of that hypothesis.

 

As defined above, faith occurs in the following ordinary, non-theological scenarios

  • A mathematician who intuitively believes a statement to be true, despite many failures to prove it, persists in trying to prove it because of faith that the statement is true.
  • A physical scientists who intuitively believes a theory to be true, despite many failures of its experimental predictions to match experimental results, persists in revising the theories predictions, and attempting further experiments.
  • A gravely ill person remains confident of her recovery, despite a very poor medical prognosis.
  • A shipwreck victim clings to hope of rescue as his provisions dwindle and he knows that reasonable searchers have given up.
  • A person continues going to agreed-upon meeting places, even though the person who agrees to meet her has never, despite many promises to do so, shown up.

Faith does not occur in the following scenarios

  • A mathematician who intuitively believes a statement to be false, after many attempts to prove it fail, although he can find no counterexample nor conceive of a proof of its negation.
  • A scientist who intuitively believes a theory to be false, because every experimental prediction it makes fails to match experimental results.
  • A gravely ill person who believe she will not recover, because her prognosis is very poor.
  • A shipwreck victim who is resigned to dying before being rescued, as his provisions dwindle and he knows that reasonable searchers have given up.
  • A person stops going to agreed-upon meeting places, because the person who agrees to meet her has never, despite many promises to do so, shown up.

Now, assume that ones religion says that, to people who swear allegiance to him, a god manifests as a bush that burns for days without being consumed, or by changing in front of witnesses a thrown down staff into a huge snake. Therefore, one declares one’s allegiance to this presumed existent god, then searches the desert for burning bushes, and goes about in public throwing down staffs after proclaiming that they will change into snakes. One finds no burning bushes, nor does any of ones staffs change into a snake, but nonetheless believes that the god of ones religion exists. This is an occurrence of faith.

 

Assume the same scenario, but that after finding no burning bushes, nor experiencing any staff-to-snake transformations, one concludes that the religiously described god does not exist. This is not an occurrence of faith.

 

Note that the absence or presence of faith is no guarantee of a given hypothesis being true or false, nor of the goodness of the experimental tests of it that have validated or failed to validate it. Faith is the quality of a considered true hypothesis being unvalidated.

 

Given that I’m writing in the domain of natural, consensus-based language, not formal symbolic systems, I’m not entitled to have done what I’ve done – defined a single definition for the term “faith” – but I hope my exercise in exploring by example this unnaturally narrow definition relieves some of the confusion attending this and related terms and meanings.

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You see, where you are mistaken is that atheist don't have a firm belief in something for which there is no proof. They have a firm disbelief in something for which there is no proof.

 

And right there is the quandary, you want to treat all atheists as the same regardless of their variation of belief or disbelief. You flat refuse to acknowledge that there is any variation from one atheist to another. There are atheists that fit into both of these categories. Those with a firm belief that the existence of god(s) is false and those that lack belief in any god(s). One is not the same as the other, they are both atheist. Linguistically the term atheist simply means not-theist and you cannot just group all non-theists together as one and the same because they are not.

 

There are those at the extreme ends of the scale, Craig referred to them as whackos and even Mr. Dawkins has said, "that "the existence of God is a scientific hypothesis like any other." He goes on to propose a continuous "spectrum of probabilities" between two extremes of opposite certainty...". At the extremes one has a belief that God does indeed exist with certainly and one a belief that God does not exist with certainty, both with the same conviction and the same lack of proof to support their position. Both believe their position to be absolutely true, to "know" they are right. How can you say that one has faith that he is right and the other does not? Does one have less belief in the certainty of his position than the other?

 

IMO, the lowest quantity of faith in one's certainty of the existence or non-existence of god(s) is in the middle of the scale, those with no particular belief that God does or does not exist. At the extremes where there is certainty claimed that god(s) do or do not exist faith is highest that one's position is true and the other is not.

 

As an aside try inserting a different hypothesis, any hypothesis but God, perhaps one like, "there is other life in the Universe". You will find people at two extremes that will believe with absolute certainty that such life does or does not exist. Now reverse the hypothesis to say, "there is no other life in the Universe" and you will still find people, the same people, at the two extremes which believe with certainty that such life does or does not exist and their position relative to the hypothesis' truth is simply reversed. Can you say that either of the groups at the extremes has faith that they are right and not the other group? That one group has faith in the belief according to how the hypothesis was stated the first time and the other where the hypothesis was simply reversed, even though their actual belief on the existence or non-existence of life is the same? How can both group believe they are right with certainty and one has "faith" they are right and the other does not?

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