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disillusioned last won the day on March 7

disillusioned had the most liked content!

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About disillusioned

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    I'm kinda dumb, and so are you

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    Still trying to find my way, mostly making it up as I go along.
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    Chess, literature, science, philosophy, maths, entertainment, food and drink.
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    "Using words to talk of words is like using a pencil to draw a picture of itself, on itself."
    ~Patrick Rothfuss~

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?
    I have looked deep into the sauce and cheese.

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  1. I know, and that's not actually what I'm most worried about. We will be fine from a health perspective, even if we do get it. I really don't want to have to figure out a new living situation. The bigger, societal impacts that this will have are more concerning to me at the moment.
  2. Good. It took a while to get there, but I think we're in agreement now. I don't think it's possible to claim certainty regarding God's existence. If "gnostic" refers to certainty, then to claim to be a gnostic theist or atheist is a very difficult thing to do.
  3. Yes. Even if not physical abuse necessarily, certainly psychological abuse. This isn't even a question as far as I'm concerned.
  4. The short answer is yes, I still think so, so long as gnostic/agnostic is a term which refers to knowledge or lack thereof. I'll explain why below. I think this is the wrong approach to take. Knowledge should be defined independent of any specific context. To say "your definition of knowledge is good, but not in this context" is just a form of special pleading. What I've proposed is a definition of knowledge that should apply across the board, including in this context, or not at all. If you think that my general definition of knowledge is bad, that's fine. It's certainly not mainstream, and you are completely free to disagree. But whatever definition of knowledge is being used, it must be independent of a specific context if it is to be an actual definition. I don't see any need at all for a special definition of knowledge to treat claims about the existence of God. That just seems silly to me. Also, I most definitely do not define knowledge in the way that I do "in order to maintain a gnostic atheist position". That has nothing whatsoever to do with it. I define knowledge in the way that I do because that is the only definition that makes any kind of sense to me. It was long after I settled on that definition that I realized that its implications for gnostic theist/atheist positions. If the term "gnostic" refers to a knowledge claim, and if the definition of knowledge I'm using is accepted, then I am definitionally a gnostic theist. This is just a matter of analyticity. If this is uncomfortable, what we might be able to say is that knowledge is firmly held belief, but "gnostic" refers not to someone who claims knowledge, but to someone who claims certainty. If that's the definition of "gnostic" that's being used, then fine, I'm not a gnostic atheist. But this has nothing to do with a special contextual definition of knowledge. If only concerns the definition of "gnostic". Incidentally, I don't care one iota about the label that applies to me. I do care about the definition of knowledge, for purely philosophical reasons, but the labeling debate has always seemed silly to me. Call it what you will. It doesn't change what I know, what I believe, or who I am.
  5. Sorry to hear this. My wife is an RN. She's going into work tomorrow night. There aren't any confirmed cases in her unit yet, so there's that, but I'm honestly more worried about unconfirmed cases right now. We're still trying to figure out exactly what we'll do once she gets exposed. Oh, and she's pregnant, and we have a 19 month old daughter. We're in Ontario, so things are being handled a bit differently here than the States, but even so there is a lot of confusion. I'm just glad that we have income security, at least for now. Stay as safe as you can.
  6. @Joshpantera I want to move on from the kidney example, because I think it has outlived its utility. I take your point that I initially did a bad job of explaining clearly what I meant. When I say I believe something what I mean is that I think it is true. When I know something, I mean I really, really think it's true. I'm never certain of the truth, except in certain purely epistemic cases. Of course. One of my contentions is specifically that this kind of thing happens all the time. We frequently find out that what we know is actually wrong. This is how science progresses. If you're using the term "gnostic" to refer to a claim of absolute certainty of absolute truth, then I agree with this. Fair enough. I'll admit I got more focused on the "how do you define knowledge" part of the OP and less on the context of atheism/theism. This is because of my current interests, but you're right to point this out. Yes, I understand this, and that's why I don't actually go about calling myself a gnostic atheist. It does tend to give people the wrong impression. Even though, on my definition of knowledge, it makes perfect sense for me to say that I know there is no God. I make no claim to certainty. Just firm belief. I've already alluded to the fact that I took it to be axiomatic. It was a case of pure assumption. But that is perfectly fine on my framework. Not all knowledge is direct assumption, but some is. I knew that God exists then in the same way sense that I now know that the external world exists. Yes, what you describe here is the essence of scientific progress. Science progresses when we learn that our knowledge is incorrect. But we still claim scientific knowledge. We're just not certain. I don't actually think this is treating knowledge all that liberally. But that's neither here nor there. Thank you. I take your point. I thought I had been clear about this, but I guess not. I personally want to say that I know there is no God. On my definition, I'm very comfortable saying that. However, people would tend to misunderstand what I would mean were I to say that, and it isn't usually convenient for me to go into the whole story about truth, knowledge, and belief in casual conversation. So I don't claim to be a gnostic atheist to avoid confusion. But, on my definition, the label would apply. Yes, that's right. That was before I had fully developed my current views about knowledge. But also, one of the lines of reasoning I used in those discussions was that to claim to be a gnostic atheist gives people the impression that one is claiming certainty, even if one actually isn't. This still applies, and its why I don't use the label for myself. I agree with this mainly. I think we're just using terminology slightly differently. I'm using "gnostic/agnostic" to refer to knowledge, which I take as firmly held belief. You seem to be using them to refer to claims of certainty. This is fine. It's precisely because I'm aware of this kind of semantic difference that I don't actually go about calling myself a gnostic atheist. As I said before, I think it would give the wrong impression.
  7. No, this is wrong. I've seen a physician, who probed my abdomen and didn't seem at all concerned. He declared that I didn't have any abdomenal problems. But at no time was my abdomen cut open to investigate the state of my kidneys. The only part the physician had to play in this is to not be concerned. We can leave him aside entirely. I assume that humans in general have two kidneys. I've seen the kidneys of various other animals on dissection, and they seem to come in pairs. I've been told that humans are like other animals in this respect, and this seems reasonable to me. Moreover, I seem to be a normal human. Based on these things, I reason to the conclusion that I have two kidneys, and I claim knowledge. It's not a pure assumption, and it doesn't specifically rely on anything to do with my doctor. His lack of concern supports my knowledge, but it is not requisite for my knowledge. I'm very happy to grant that the existence of a God rests on much shakier assumptions than most other things. But if we're really, truly, ex-Christians, we ought to be able to consider questions of knowledge that have nothing whatsoever to do with God. What I've been asserting is specifically that there is never any guarantee that we're correct. In any realm. Nevertheless, we may claim knowledge. I'm aware that this is an audacious claim, but it is my claim. You may disagree if you like. No, I knew it. I knew what I knew. You can't tell me otherwise. Your reasoning here is dangerously close to that of those theists who say that we were never true Christians at all. Yes, my usage of the terms "know" and "knowledge" are liberal, and somewhat atypical. I'm aware of this. I'm ok with it. Who said anything about absolute knowledge? The question was "how do you define knowledge". I've answered. By my reading, you haven't yet. You're not under any obligation to do so, of course. But as far as I can see, what you're saying is basically that we can't know anything. I find this to be an unhelpful point of view, as you acknowledge below (in bold). I do see what you're saying, and I honestly don't entirely disagree. But, I think that it's counterproductive to treat "knowledge" as something special when ordinary people, in ordinary life, don't treat it that way. I'd much rather try to develop a philosophical basis for the kind of knowledge that actual people actually claim every day then spend my time aimlessly wondering whether we can actually "know" anything at all. The word only means what people use it to mean, after all. Why try to make it more than what it is? What it seems to me to be is just firmly held belief. Hence, the rest of what I've said.
  8. I honestly don't mean to get all political here, but this is where it becomes very apparent that electing someone like Donald Trump was a very bad idea. Conservative, liberal, whatever. I don't care. The person in charge should be intelligent, coherent, literate, capable of telling the truth, and aware of his or her own ignorance where it exists. Trump is none of these. It's been an issue for a while, but now it's really an issue.
  9. No, I am not conflating "knowledge" with "assumption". What I'm doing, and what I have been doing ever since I started my thread on Truth, Knowledge, and Belief, is relying on a foundationalist approach to knowledge. Go back and re read the original post of that thread of necessary. The essence is this: when you make a knowledge claim, I can ask how you know what you claim. There are ultimately three possibilities: 1) you fall into circularity, 2) you rely on an infinite regress or 3) you appeal to axioms, which are simply assumed. I take the third choice as being the most sound (as do most philosophers, by the way). It follows from this that all legitimate knowledge is based on assumptions. But this is not the same as conflating knowledge and assumption. More on this below. Yes, I have the assumptions you identified, and I have some other evidence as well. I've been to a doctor, and he seemed to think I have two kidneys. My excretory system functions in a completely normal fashion. And so on. On the basis of those assumptions and this evidence I claim to know I have two kidneys, and I am justified in doing so. If I can't claim knowledge in a case like this, then it follows in short order that we can't know anything at all about the external world. There is no way to confirm that the external world itself exists. This must be assumed. But then every knowledge claim about the external world is necessarily based on assumption. Notice something very important: I also feel perfectly happy to claim that I know that the external world exists. This is a knowledge claim which is properly axiomatic, ie, which is a direct assumption. But not all knowledge claims are such. Most of the things we claim to know are not assumptions themselves, but are nevertheless based upon assumption. No, I don't think this is right. The word "knowledge" is used all the time. There's no sense in setting it aside. What we should do is try to make sure that we are using it consistently. As outlined above, it seems to me that legitimate knowledge reduces to belief which is justified on the basis of some set of assumptions (axioms). The axioms are not justified. They are simply believed. This is why I say that knowledge reduces to firmly held belief. The theist firmly believes that God exists. They know it. In some cases, this knowledge is a direct assumption, and in some cases it isn't. One can claim to know that God exists axiomatically, just as I claim to know that the external world exists. One can also cite evidence from their own experiences which have led them to their knowledge of God. I think in either case, the theist is wrong: they have arrived at knowledge which isn't true. I don't find this troubling. I think we all know lots of things that aren't true. As it happens, I did know that God exists. I knew it with every fiber of my being. I was absolutely certain. Yes, I was wrong, and yes, it was all based on some bad assumptions. I think this is very common of knowledge. We should be a little bit careful here though. Knowledge, even by assumption, is not the same as "guessing lucky". If you flip a coin, and I call heads and I'm right, then I "guessed lucky". When I claim to know by assumption that the external world exists, I'm not guessing. I find the alternative to be utterly absurd. When we guess, we pick more or less at random between options which we find equally plausible. This is a different process from making an assumption based on what seems most reasonable to us. It seems to me that you are conflating knowledge and certainty. On this kind of view, we don't really know anything. Nothing that I know is absolutely certain, except perhaps for my own existence. Nevertheless, I do know a thing or two. This knowledge is based on assumptions, but it is not necessarily assumption in and of itself. I don't see this as being at all problematic.
  10. Not quite. I say knowledge reduces to firmly held belief. This does not imply that all knowledge in on an equal footing. You're right, flat earthers firmly believe that the earth is flat. I think it is correct to say that they know the Earth is flat. They're wrong, but that doesn't affect their knowledge. There was a time not so long ago when everyone knew that the Sun revolved around the Earth. Not so long before that, everyone knew that the best thing to do for infected wounds was to pack them with dung to bring forth the pus. Nowadays, we know that both these things are false. This is representative of scientific progress in general. Science only progresses when things that we used to know are shown to be false, or at least only partially true. If knowledge implied certainty of truth, then scientific knowledge wouldn't really be possible at all. Let's look at a couple of specific examples. Take Newton's second law. If a net force is applied to a mass, the mass will accelerate according to the equation F=ma, and if a mass accelerates, it is due to the application of a net force which can be computed via the same equation. I know this to be true. I'd hazard that you would say you do too. In fact most reasonably well educated people would claim to know this. But how do we know it? In my case, I've verified it directly myself many times, first when studying physics, and later when teaching it. But this is not true of the average person who would claim to know Newton's second law. Most people would appeal to the fact that others have verified this thousands and thousands and thousands of times. That is to say, they believe it. They may believe it firmly, but they cannot be certain. Nevertheless, they claim knowledge. For that matter, even I can't really be certain, because all these experiments that I've seen and have conducted might just coincidentally confirm the law. But I'm pretty damn sure, so I say I know. Now let's look at another example. If you were to ask me how many kidneys I have, I would say 2. I would answer immediately, with conviction. I know I have two kidneys. But how do I know it? I haven't seen them. For that matter, I haven't seen the kidneys of any human. When it comes right down to it, I've just been told by people who seem to know what they're talking about that people have two kidneys, and I believe them. But I still feel perfectly justified saying that I know I have two kidneys. Of course, it could be the case that I only have one. I could have been born with only one. But this doesn't stop me from claiming to know that I have two. Now, compare both these examples to the flat-earthers. Yes, my knowledge in both cases is firmly held belief. Theirs is also firmly held belief. The difference is that my knowledge is firmly held because it is justified by evidence. Theirs is not. The evidence I cite is direct in one case, and indirect in the other, but in either case it is sound evidence. Whatever "evidence" flat-earthers may produce is definitely not sound. Therein lies a very key difference. Essentially, what I want to say is this: knowledge is firmly held belief, but not all knowledge is equally firmly held, and not all knowledge is firmly held for good reasons. Correct. I think there is a general correspondence between knowledge and truth, but it's not a full correspondence. Some knowledge claims do not reflect truth, and some do. And of those that do reflect truth, some do it better than others. The short answer here is yes. Certainly for ontological truth. Epistemic truth is explicitly linked to what we know on a societal level, but on an individual level we can still claim knowledge of things which aren't true. I used to know that God exists. Now I want to say I know he doesn't. The only reason I don't say I know God doesn't exist is because it can give people the wrong impression. What they hear is "I'm certain that God does not exist". What I mean to say is "I firmly believe that God doesn't exist". On my vocabulary, this is to say that I know it. But convincing everyone who asks the question that knowledge reduces to firmly held belief is taxing, and usually beside the point, so I generally just say I'm a hard atheist and leave it at that.
  11. I know how hot dogs are made, and I still like them... Welcome. You'll find lots of discussions those lines going on. Jump in, or start a new one. Glad you're here.
  12. I think the real question is fairly clearly "can you be a true pagan if you fear hell?" **ducks and runs away**
  13. So did I, but I definitely didn't understand what I hated. Atheists were painted as morally horrible people. People who have denied the existence of God so that they can do whatever they want. And, as presented to me by other Christians, what the atheists wanted was to rape, murder, steal, etcetera, etcetera. Now that I'm an atheist, it turns out that all I mainly want to do is watch TV and have a beer. The horror!
  14. I don't think you need to worry too much about giving offense. Certainly not to me. This is the point about agnostics. They specifially claim that we don't know. I agree that there is no reason for an atheist to fear hell, but as I said before, many people fear the unknown, even where they have beliefs. For my own part, I have no fear of hell, and I'm a very hard atheist. If you don't think I really am an atheist, that's fine, but I'm not sure exactly what you might mean by that. For what it's worth, after my deconversion, I spent a very long time resisting the use of the term atheist for myself. Then, one day, I realized that that's what people call people like me. So that's what I am.
  15. Some good questions here. "Atheist" and "agnostic" are not mutually exclusive terms. To claim to be an agnostic is to make a claim about knowledge. The agnostic claims not to know whether there is a god or not. To claim to be an atheist is to state one's beliefs, or lack thereof. Negative atheism is simply the lack of a belief in God. Positive (or hard) atheism is the belief that there is no God. Most atheists, whether positive or negative, are agnostic atheists. That is, most of us do not claim to know whether or not there is a God, but we do claim to either believe that there is no God, or to not believe that there is one. Gnostic atheists (those who claim to know that there is no God) are few and far between. I have a thread in the colosseum about truth, knowledge, and belief, and in that thread I have maintained that I think knowledge is really just firmly held belief. So I think it may be possible to claim to know that God does not exist. I'm very close to making that claim, but I'm just not quite there. The distinction between knowledge and absolute certainty is something that I may need to explore in that thread. But that's beside the point for now. The point is this: you can be an agnostic, or an atheist, or both, or neither. And if you are an atheist, you can be a positive or a negative atheist. The only person who can't rationally have some fear of hell is someone who claims absolute certainty that there is no God. I don't know of anyone who claims this.
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