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I am an atheist, by the way. Technically, I should be calling myself an agnostic, but, as Richard Dawkins rightly notes, in the strictest sense we should be calling ourselves agnostics about a lot of things we find extremely unlikely but can't know for sure. Tooth fairy agnostic, there-is-an-invisible-magic-cat-in-this-room agnostic... We don't do that; we simply say we don't believe there is an invisible magic cat in the room. Thus, atheist.

Don't you get me wrong now. I am fascinated by religion as I am by a lot of other things, including biology, neurophysiology, marketing, feminism, and the history of railroads - all to varying extents.

Too many other things, in fact.

As an atheist, I am bound to be racing against the clock.

In the end, I will lose.



( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 12th, 2008 08:06 am (UTC)
Two things. First, atheist and agnostic are two inherently different terms - the first refers to a lack of belief in a deity, and the second to a lack of knowledge about the existence of a deity. So one could be either atheist and agnostic, atheist and gnostic, theist and agnostic, or theist and gnostic.

Second - about the racing against the clock. I think there, it depends on what goals you set for yourself - by setting the right goals, in the end, you could win.
Nov. 12th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC)
From the wiki: Atheism is often contrasted with agnosticism, when atheism is characterized as asserting that deities do not exist. However, when atheism is defined as being the absence of belief in deities or as declining to believe in them, the two positions are quite compatible, with many nontheists today considering themselves to be agnostic atheists
Nov. 14th, 2008 05:00 am (UTC)
I apologize for the long silence, but now that I actually have time to reply, here is a proper reply :)

Basically - this is what I wanted the Wikipedia link to illustrate - definitions differ. If I were to pick a definition of atheism such that it would not conflict with agnosticism, there would be no point in mentioning both/contrasting them in this post. I am rather picking a definition that says that "atheism is active disbelief that a deity exists". This is in conflict with agnosticism. Then I, however, tweak the definition to say, "atheism is the belief that the probability of a deity existing is infinitesimally small and can, for all practical purposes, be considered equal to zero". This is the definition I then apply to myself. What it is needed for is being able to make a stronger statement - not simply "I don't believe God exists", but "I believe God does not exist", where the "believe" part is an expression of probability.
Nov. 12th, 2008 01:57 pm (UTC)
Re: racing the clock
I've always considered life to be very similar to Tetris: the point isn't to go on forever, it's to get a high score.
Dec. 7th, 2008 05:38 am (UTC)
Re: racing the clock
lolwut? I mean, what do you get scores for?
Dec. 7th, 2008 07:39 am (UTC)
Re: racing the clock
That depends on what you want to accomplish in life. For some people it's being able to ensure the happiness of themselves and those around them. For others it's making the world a better place. For others, it's something else entirely. The general idea is to do as much of it as you can before you (inevitably) die.
Nov. 12th, 2008 02:21 pm (UTC)
You know who spoiled it for me? Hume! And the whole 'the sun will not necessarily rise tomorrow' argument.
Nov. 12th, 2008 02:33 pm (UTC)
we are nihilists. we believe in nothing
Nov. 12th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
why I believe
... I could never not believe. I fail to see any meaning to life in the absence of God. In 1000 years my life will have meant exactly nothing. Everything would be permitted, because no action would have long term consequences.
It is true that I don't understand things in the world religions - but I have nothing better, so I'll stick to the one I was given.
Nov. 14th, 2008 05:12 am (UTC)
Re: why I believe
> In 1000 years my life will have meant exactly nothing.
Well, this is what I think :). I also think that trying to define "meaning" in any global - universal - sense is... so very human. But I am not actually bothered by that. It's a wonder we are here, and able to have this conversation.
Nov. 24th, 2008 11:40 pm (UTC)
One of my co-workers visited me in my office today. He noticed a nice figure of copper ladybug plugged into a stone of quartz. I explained to him that this was a gift from my wife, and it's a very fine gift, because I love both stones and insects. He told me he loves stones too, and showed me a stone out of his pocket, that he carries with him. I showed him two stones. One of them with the word "dream" inscribed. I told him it serves a good reminder for me to do that activity occasionally. Then I told that the other stone is an energy stone that I've bought for a friend. "What's energy stone?" - he asked. I expained it's a stone which energizes you when you look at it. I also told that I carefully picked this stone (and colors) to match my friend's character, and I also carry it in a pocket for a while, to make sure it works. He said: "but then it will be *your* energy stone isn't it?". I said "not really, I am actually thinking good thoughts when I pull this stone out of pocket, and these thoughts are being crystallized in a stone in form of reusable energy".

Then there was a pause.
I don't remember what exactly he said afterwards, but I remember he was some kind of respect. I think he thinks he doesn't believe it, but he admires my belief, which leads me to the conclusion that deep inside he actually believes in it! ;)

I would call myself 'agnostic' if I asked straight about it, but after all, who cares what I call myself? Our beliefs scream very loud in our actions, and labels don't mean a lot, really.
Dec. 6th, 2008 05:38 pm (UTC)
> but he admires my belief, which leads me to the conclusion that deep inside he actually believes in it!
Eh. I would've politely said, 'is that so?' and smile, and not say out loud what I actually think: 'gosh, if you really believe that, and you just might, with all the new age stuff around, you're messed up'.
Because people are weird, and, at work especially, you don't really want to deal with their own private weirdness =)

> Our beliefs scream very loud in our actions, and labels don't mean a lot, really.
Sooo, if Obama labelled himself an atheist, would he still have been chosen?
Nov. 25th, 2008 02:01 am (UTC)
By the way, I would never say "I don't believe there is an invisible magic cat in this room", instead I would say "I don't see any invisible magic cat in this room", which apparently should be true in every case: if a cat is invisible, then I shouldn't see it. Also, if a cat is magic, it may mean that modern physics isn't able to detect its presense, hence, I can't believe it doesn't exist even if I am a firm believer in laws of modern physics (I said "may mean" instead of "means", because it, in fact, depends on type of magic in that cat: some invisible magic cats may potentially be detected, and some may not)... ;)
Dec. 6th, 2008 05:40 pm (UTC)
There are times when I cut through all the conditionals to make a statement :)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )