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My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
#1
My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
How I see it is there is a difference in meaning between "believing" and "knowing".

To know that something is true is to side with the view that this something is true because it has been substantially established in your mind that it is true, whether by personal experience ("I know I am male") or by an accepted consensus within society ("I know the earth is flat") or because science says so ("I know the earth is round") or some other means ("I know Daniel was at the party last night even though I wasn't there").

In a lot of cases, to believe that something is true is to side with the view that it is even though you may not be confident enough to say you know it to be true. For example, "I believe that Jesus did exist at one point in time". You could also say you believe something if you are expressing an opinion about something. For example, "I believe abortion is wrong" or "I believe he's an ugly mofo" or "I believe you need a shower right now".

With that in mind, and relating this to atheism, I believe that gnostic atheists are those who say that they know God doesn't exist because they are sure that he doesn't. Saying that you believe God doesn't exist does not, in my view, make you a gnostic atheist. It just means you're an atheist who has no qualms saying "I believe" with regards to God's non-existence because you consider "belief" to indicate a view that you accept as true for good reasons but are not sure of completely.

If you still feel that what I'm saying does not seem right, consider the following questions:

Do you believe you'll still be alive an hour from now? How about five minutes from now?

Do you know you'll still be alive an hour from now? How about five minutes from now?

Did you have the same answers for both sets of questions above?
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#2
RE: My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
Atheism says you do not believe there is a god. It doesn't necessarily require that you believe there isn't a god. These are not the same statement, they answer two separate claims:

(1) There is a god
(2) There is not a god

To reject claim (1) does not require that you accept claim (2). You may feel you don't have enough conviction to say you believe (2) is true. In other words, you don't see enough evidence to rule god in or out yet.

That is an additional stance to default atheism, but would still be an agnostic atheist yes, if you didn't claim to know there isn't a god.

This is subtle stuff, and I'm going to be barfing it onto my blog soon :p

Do you believe you'll still be alive an hour from now? How about five minutes from now?

Yes. Yes.

Do you know you'll still be alive an hour from now? How about five minutes from now?

No. No.
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#3
RE: My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
(February 28, 2015 at 9:07 am)robvalue Wrote: Atheism says you do not believe there is a god. It doesn't necessarily require that you believe there isn't a god. These are not the same statement, they answer two separate claims:

(1) There is a god
(2) There is not a god

To reject claim (1) does not require that you accept claim (2). You may feel you don't have enough conviction to say you believe (2) is true. In other words, you don't see enough evidence to rule god in or out yet.

That is an additional stance to default atheism, but would still be an agnostic atheist yes, if you didn't claim to know there isn't a god.

This is subtle stuff, and I'm going to be barfing it onto my blog soon :p

And I agree with that. There is a difference between passive belief and active belief as well.
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#4
RE: My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
I believe I will be alive but I cannot know that.

I'm sure there are no gods, but I'm not 100% sure, just like I'm not 100% sure about anything.
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you

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#5
RE: My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
Atheism is a lack of a belief, it's not a belief at all.

To believe there isn't a god is a belief, yes. And it doesn't automatically follow from atheism.

Glad you agree, I think Smile
Feel free to send me a private message.
Please visit my website here! It's got lots of information about atheism/theism and support for new atheists.

Index of useful threads and discussions
Index of my best videos
Quickstart guide to the forum
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#6
RE: My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
I think if you asked me if there are any unicorns the common answer is not "I don't know" but "No, there aren't". I don't see why I have to treat god differently. It's true that we haven't explored the whole universe to say with 100% certainty that there aren't any unicorns, but since no one has provided proof I assume it's a false hypothesis. If someone thinks unicorns exist they have to provide proof

I see belief as asserting with reason, not as asserting without proof. I have the odds at my side
Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster. And if you gaze long enough into an abyss, the abyss will gaze back into you

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#7
RE: My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
(February 28, 2015 at 9:13 am)robvalue Wrote: Atheism is a lack of a belief, it's not a belief at all.

To believe there isn't a god is a belief, yes. And it doesn't automatically follow from atheism.

Glad you agree, I think Smile

The meaning of atheism depends on which definition you're going for.

Consider these two distinct definitions for atheism in the same dictionary:

atheism

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

From:
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism
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#8
RE: My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
Sure, it all depends on how you define "know". That's a very complex question, and really you have to agree on what it means before you can discuss anything.

To know something as certain is only possible in an abstract sense, using logic within defined rules. And that requires the assumption that your premises are true still. Otherwise, when dealing with observations and models of reality, you cannot know anything for certain.

In any everyday less stringent sense of "knowing", as in a justified belief beyond reasonable doubt, then I "know" there is no God. I still wouldn't say I "know" I'll be alive in 5 minutes though, although I'd put a very high probability on it.

Yeah, definition 1 above is not the one generally used by atheists. It is very annoying that dictionaries can't all agree on the most commonly used definition.
Feel free to send me a private message.
Please visit my website here! It's got lots of information about atheism/theism and support for new atheists.

Index of useful threads and discussions
Index of my best videos
Quickstart guide to the forum
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#9
RE: My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
(February 28, 2015 at 9:13 am)Dystopia Wrote: I believe I will be alive but I cannot know that.

I'm sure there are no gods, but I'm not 100% sure, just like I'm not 100% sure about anything.

Would you say you don't know if you exist (for example)?
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#10
RE: My View on Belief vs. Knowledge
(February 28, 2015 at 9:24 am)robvalue Wrote: Sure, it all depends on how you define "know". That's a very complex question, and really you have to agree on what it means before you can discuss anything.

To know something as certain is only possible in an abstract sense, using logic within defined rules. And that requires the assumption that your premises are true still. Otherwise, when dealing with observations and models of reality, you cannot know anything for certain.

In any everyday less stringent sense of "knowing", as in a justified belief beyond reasonable doubt, then I "know" there is no God. I still wouldn't say I "know" I'll be alive in 5 minutes though, although I'd put a very high probability on it.

Yeah, definition 1 above is not the one generally used by atheists. It is very annoying that dictionaries can't all agree on the most commonly used definition.

Then there is "know" in the sense of knowing the way to work. Or knowing my wife or knowing myself. There are a lot of options packed into that word.

Do I know if gods exist? Hell I don't even know with certainty what the word "god" refers to let alone know if it is the same for everyone. No I don't know but I live my life without any concern regarding the status of gods. The correct answer for me is I don't care.
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