Our server costs ~$56 per month to run. Please consider donating or becoming a Patron to help keep the site running. Help us gain new members by following us on Twitter and liking our page on Facebook!
Current time: July 18, 2019, 1:03 am

Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
#1
Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
I sent an e-mail to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's webmaster concerning their definitions of Atheism and Agnosticism which can be seen here:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheis...sticism/#1

I get this website thrown at me a lot by theists who want to define atheism as the claim that god does not exist. Well, Stanford replied. Below is the email I sent to them, followed by their response.

(Please excuse the rudeness and crudeness of my email, I was writing out of frustration and was not expecting a reply)


----------------------------------------------------

Dear Stanford,

I am constantly having your definitions of atheism and agnosticism regurgitated to me by people who don't seem to understand what they mean and your authoritative definition completely muddies the waters.

Your definition which can be seen at the the following link states:
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/atheis...sticism/#1

"‘Agnostic’ is more contextual than is ‘atheist’, as it can be used in a non-theological way, as when a cosmologist might say that she is agnostic about string theory, neither believing nor disbelieving it."

I am forced to point out to you that agnosticism deals with knowledge claims, not claims of belief. Why are you conflating the two? A belief necessarily deals with a single claim; God exists is one claim; God does not exist is another claim- or String theory is true is one claim; string theory is not true is another claim.

A cosmologist who does not know if either position about string theory is true would be considered an agnostic. The cosmologist then disbelieves claim 1; string theory is true, therefore, for lack of a better term, is an atheist with respect to string theory. They do not necessarily believe that claim 2; string theory is false, is true.

Similarly, with respect to god claims, a person who does not know if either claim (god exists / god does not exist) is true would be an agnostic. The person who disbelieves claim 1; God exists is an atheist and this does not say anything about their acceptance that claim 2; god does not exist, is true.

I will use an analogy:

If I made the claim that there are an odd number of blades of grass in my front yard, would you believe me?

No, you wouldn't unless I could substantiate that claim (if you are rational). Does that then mean you believe the opposite of that claim? That there are an even number of blades of grass in my front yard? No, you wouldn't accept that claim either. With respect to your belief in the true dichotomy of the nature of the grass then, you are an atheist; you disbelieve claim 1; there are an odd number of blades of grass. If you don't know which claim is true, you are an agnostic. The terms are not mutually exclusive.

With respect to god claims, I identify as an agnostic atheist; I do not know if a god exists or not, and I disbelieve the claim that a god does exist.

Gnostic: Of or relating to knowledge, especially esoteric mystical knowledge. --> Therefore it's opposite, agnostic, relates to a lack of knowledge.

Theist: Belief in the existence of a god or gods, especially belief in one god as creator of the universe, intervening in it and sustaining a personal relation to his creatures --> Therefore it's opposite, atheist, relates to a lack of belief in the existence of gods and not necessarily the belief in the opposite claim, that no gods exist.

Belief: an acceptance that a statement is true or that something exists

Source [for definitions]: Oxford English Dictionary

Kindly update your definitions to reflect this.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
[theresidentskeptic]



----------------------------------REPLY FROM STANFORD BELOW----------------------------------

Dear [theresidentskeptic]

Thank you for writing to us about the entry on atheism and
agnosticism. We have received messages about this issue before and
are continuing to consider whether and how the entry might be adjusted.

That said, the matter is not as clear cut as you suggest. While the
term "atheism" is used in a variety of ways in general discourse, our
entry is on its meaning in the philosophical literature.
Traditionally speaking, the definition in our entry--that 'atheism'
means the denial of the existence of God--is correct in the
philosophical literature. Some now refer to this standard meaning as
"positive atheism" and contrast it with the broader notion of
"negative atheism" which has the meaning you suggest--that 'atheism'
simply means not-theist.

In our understanding, the argument for this broader notion was
introduced into the philosophical literature by Antony Flew in "The
Presumption of Atheism" (1972). In that work, he noted that he was
using an etymological argument to try to convince people *not* to
follow the *standard meaning* of the term. His goal was to reframe
the debate about the existence of God and to re-brand "atheism" as a
default position.

Not everyone has been convinced to use the term in Flew's way simply
on the force of his argument. For some, who consider themselves
atheists in the traditional sense, Flew's efforts seemed to be an
attempt to water down a perfectly good concept. For others, who
consider themselves agnostics in the traditional sense, Flew's efforts
seemed to be an attempt to re-label them "atheists" -- a term they
rejected.

All that said, we are continuing to examine the situation regarding
the definitions as presented in this entry.

All the best,
Yours,
Uri

-------------------------------------------------------
Uri Nodelman Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Senior Editor
CSLI/Cordura Hall [email protected]
Stanford University ph. 650-723-0488
Stanford, CA 94305-4115 fx. 650-725-2166
-------------------------------------------------------
Reply
#2
RE: Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy

Uri Nodelman?

[Image: rabbi.gif]
Reply
#3
RE: Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
(December 2, 2011 at 10:07 pm)Minimalist Wrote: Uri Nodelman?

[Image: rabbi.gif]

I don't know, he only signed with his first name.

EDIT: Oops, didn't see the bottom of the email with his full name... Fail.
Reply
#4
RE: Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Fucking fantastic little smiley.
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for a battle to commence then KPLOW, I hit em with the illness of my quill, Im endowed..with certain unalienable skills....  

-ERB


Reply
#5
RE: Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
It's amazing what you can find with Google Images.

Combine that tool with a shitty outlook on life and its dangerous.
Reply
#6
RE: Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Quote:Traditionally speaking, the definition in our entry--that 'atheism'
means the denial of the existence of God--is correct in the
philosophical literature.
Nice. He makes appeals to tradition, then an appeal to authority by quoting Antony Flew (as if that should have any bearing on the label) and concludes by conflating philosophical aesthetics with the definition of any given word.

Given his insightful response and window into his, peculiar psyche, we honestly shouldn't be surprised the man cannot distinguish atheism from agnosticism.

Little wonder he doesn't then assert another man's lack of money makes him an anti-capitalist.


(December 2, 2011 at 10:07 pm)Minimalist Wrote: Uri Nodelman?
[Image: rabbi.gif]
That's Uri Nodelman PhD to mere uneducated mortals like you and me! Tongue
Reply
#7
RE: Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FMHQSNCex2Q
Reply
#8
RE: Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Atheism is the lack of belief in gods based for me on he comlete and total lack of any evidence for them.

would you lucent think that your, (presumed) lack of belief in purple fairies was a 'positive' belief.

You are an afaireist, does this lack of belief in impossible non-exstant things impact your life at all? does it colour your judgement.
Now imagine that you lived in a world wher lots of people believed in purple fairies and they tried to introduce purple fairy friendly laws that intruded in your life.
When huge tracts of TV is taken over with people extolling the purple fairies.
When the fairy believers try to hold back science because they know how everything works, the fairies did it.
It would get fucking annoying quite quickly.

Fortunately I live in a country where religion is of a much milder form than the american or iranian brands but I fear that this world might be dragged into a conflation over who has the best imaginary friend.



You can fix ignorance, you can't fix stupid.

Tinkety Tonk and down with the Nazis.




 








Reply
#9
RE: Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Theists have got to stop trying to redefine atheism.
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Atheist
Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence - Carl Sagan

Mankind's intelligence walks hand in hand with it's stupidity.

Being an atheist says nothing about your overall intelligence, it just means you don't believe in god. Atheists can be as bright as any scientist and as stupid as any creationist.

You never really know just how stupid someone is, until you've argued with them.
Reply
#10
RE: Atheism's Definition - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Quote:Atheism is the lack of belief in gods based for me on he comlete and total lack of any evidence for them.

Which is why you take the negative position of atheism, that God does not exist. If you don't know either way, you would be an agnostic. There isn't any middle ground between not knowing and not believing. Either you don't know (agnostic) or you don't believe (atheist). If, to the proposition of God, you think it is less likely than not, you have a belief about it. If you have no belief, you don't know.

Quote:would you lucent think that your, (presumed) lack of belief in purple fairies was a 'positive' belief.

Yes, it would be a positive belief. I am reasonably sure there are no purple fairies, therefore I have a belief about it. Whether I can know that for sure is not relevent to the fact that I do have a belief about the existence of fairies.

Quote:You are an afaireist, does this lack of belief in impossible non-exstant things impact your life at all? does it colour your judgement.
Now imagine that you lived in a world wher lots of people believed in purple fairies and they tried to introduce purple fairy friendly laws that intruded in your life.
When huge tracts of TV is taken over with people extolling the purple fairies.
When the fairy believers try to hold back science because they know how everything works, the fairies did it.
It would get fucking annoying quite quickly.

You're conflating the issue. There is no equivilence between the question of God, which has explanatory power, and the question of fairies, which explains absolutely nothing.

Quote:Fortunately I live in a country where religion is of a much milder form than the american or iranian brands but I fear that this world might be dragged into a conflation over who has the best imaginary friend.

It is the number one question on peoples minds, because over 90 percent of the world believes in a higher power. You have to think they're all crazy, but have you ever thought that you're the one who has the abnormal belief?

(December 3, 2011 at 9:00 am)downbeatplumb Wrote: Atheism is the lack of belief in gods based for me on he comlete and total lack of any evidence for them.

would you lucent think that your, (presumed) lack of belief in purple fairies was a 'positive' belief.

You are an afaireist, does this lack of belief in impossible non-exstant things impact your life at all? does it colour your judgement.
Now imagine that you lived in a world wher lots of people believed in purple fairies and they tried to introduce purple fairy friendly laws that intruded in your life.
When huge tracts of TV is taken over with people extolling the purple fairies.
When the fairy believers try to hold back science because they know how everything works, the fairies did it.
It would get fucking annoying quite quickly.

Fortunately I live in a country where religion is of a much milder form than the american or iranian brands but I fear that this world might be dragged into a conflation over who has the best imaginary friend.


(December 3, 2011 at 9:15 am)Ace Otana Wrote: Theists have got to stop trying to redefine atheism.
http://rationalwiki.org/wiki/Atheist

Atheists need to stop trying to redefine the definition of atheism. To say you lack a belief in something is a meaningless statement. It is simply an attempt by the atheist to redefine the parameters of the debate and escape any burden of proof for their position.

Reply



Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Atheism VS Christian Atheism? IanHulett 80 18160 June 13, 2017 at 11:09 am
Last Post: vorlon13
  What is the right definition of agnostic? Red_Wind 27 3101 November 7, 2016 at 11:43 pm
Last Post: Edwardo Piet
  Definition of "atheism" Pyrrho 23 5896 November 19, 2015 at 3:37 pm
Last Post: Ludwig
  A practical definition for "God" robvalue 48 8026 September 26, 2015 at 9:23 am
Last Post: ignoramus
  Atheism, Scientific Atheism and Antitheism tantric 33 7539 January 18, 2015 at 1:05 pm
Last Post: helyott
  Strong/Gnostic Atheism and Weak/Agnostic Atheism Dystopia 26 8218 August 30, 2014 at 1:34 pm
Last Post: Dawsonite
  Definition of Atheism MindForgedManacle 55 8534 July 7, 2014 at 12:28 pm
Last Post: Mister Agenda
  Poetry, Philosophy, or Science? Mudhammam 0 558 March 22, 2014 at 4:37 pm
Last Post: Mudhammam
  Debate share, young earth? atheism coverup? atheism gain? xr34p3rx 13 7224 March 16, 2014 at 11:30 am
Last Post: fr0d0
  My definition of being an atheist. Vegamo 14 3532 January 21, 2014 at 4:59 pm
Last Post: truthBtold



Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)