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Penn is a little confused.

September 24 2011 at 7:35 AM
Resident Atheist  (Login ResidentAtheist)

I listened to Penn on a Youtube video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q0N6bh_qB58

He tries to explain how someone can be an atheist and an agnostic. This simply isn't true or even possible. He claims that the theist and atheist are beliefs.

Belief should never be used in the same sentence when describing a theist or atheist.

Theist and atheist positions are not beliefs. They are not based on beliefs. In fact, nothing is based on a belief. A belief is no better than an opinion. A belief says I dont know. Belief is not a reason, it is the possible result of some knowledge. Theist and atheist positions are based on knowledge. A belief may or may not result from that knowledge. A person gets their theistic knowledge from the bible or other religious source. Many get their theistic knowledge by just living in a theistic society. You can not go thru life without being exposed to theistic concepts. After he gets the information he may accept it (theist), he may choose to not accept it (atheist) or he may reserve judgment until he acquires more knowledge (agnostic). All three positions are mutually exclusive.

One of the positions is actually true. God either does or does not exist. Calling something that is true a belief is absurd. Truth and belief are mutually exclusive. Not knowing what position is true does not make it less true. The theist doesnt claim he believes in god. The theist claims god exists. So positive are some of these theists that they will fly airplanes into buildings. One does not act this way over a mere belief.

I am atheist. I reject the theist claim. I also reject the belief that someone can be an atheist/agnostic.

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(Login zCarl)

Re: Penn is a little confused.

October 9 2011, 11:35 AM 

A belief is what someone thinks to be true. It can actually be true, or they could be wrong. You are working with some kind of sarcastic connotation of "belief", in which is it used as mockery, rather than a standard and useful definition.

Agnosticism is used by many to mean the assertion that the "god" question is inherently unprovable in either direction. In that case, a person could still believe that god does not exist by inference based on probabilities and other evaluations less than absolute knowledge.

Your seem absolutely certain that "god" does not exist. I agree that it is so unlikely as to be roundable to that, but you are expressing that specifically in the context of a rather extreme insistence that hardcore knowledge can't overlap with mere belief.

I think you might be a nut.

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Resident Atheist
(Login ResidentAtheist)

Re: Penn is a little confused.

October 20 2011, 7:47 AM 

I am absolutely certain that god does not exist. As certain as I am that the world in not flat and that pigs cant fly. It works like this. The supernatural doesnt exist. God is supernatural so god doesnt exist. If it is a god it is supernatural. If it is not supernatural it is not a god. It really is that simple to know god does not exist.

You said: "A belief is what someone thinks to be true. It can actually be true, or they could be wrong."

You are absolutely correct. It might be true and it might not but if you believe it, you don't know if it is true or not. The theist doesnt say: I dont know if god exists, they say God does exist. This is what they claim. The atheist rejects that claim. The atheist knows there is no god just as surely as the theist knows there is a god. No belief is involved here.

The agnostic doesnt know. Not because the agnostic has a belief one way or the other but because the agnostic doesnt have enough knowledge/information or because they believe that the existence or nonexistence of god is unknowable. If you dont know if god exist or not why would you belief it one way or the other? Dont know simply means: dont know

Beliefs are like opinions and dont mean squat. A person can believe anything. There are no limits. Theist do not fly planes into building over something they believe in (dont know). They are 100% certain to take such extreme measures.

There is a much longer explanation on this guys website:

He also explains why it is not necessary to be omniscient to know god doesnt exist here:

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(no login)

Re: Penn is a little confused.

July 14 2012, 6:39 AM 

To say that because you think god is supernatural and the supernatural doesn't exist is very illogical. To think you know everything about how the universe works is quite arrogant. I highly doubt anyone's concept of "god" is correct. But whos to say there isn't a logical and scientific way for "god" to exist?

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(Login wantonsoup)

Re: Penn is a little confused.

November 14 2011, 8:32 AM 

I think you're missing the gist of it.

If you don't shout "I BELIEVE IN GOD", then you're an atheist.

Agnostic is the reason WHY you're an atheist - it just means that you believe the information to be lacking to really make a decision. (A Gnostic = No Knowledge/Information/Data)

So you could actually technically be an agnostic theist. You believe the information doesn't exist to logically decide, but you have enough faith to power through and believe anyway for illogical reasons.

So, agnostics ARE atheists. Up to and until the point when you say you firmly believe in god, you're an atheist. If you are an atheist BECAUSE there's no data, you're also an agnostic.

Most people have no idea about these definitions, though, so don't feel ignorant or belittled. There's just no vast atheist machine advertising this stuff.

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(Login ResidentAtheist)

Re: Penn is a little confused.

January 22 2012, 6:03 AM 

I think it is you who are missing the gist of it.

Belief isnt separate or different from knowledge. Belief is a statement or position "of" knowledge. Belief means: I dont know. Belief means: I dont have enough knowledge to be certain of truth but I have reason to believe it is true.

If you know the truth of something you have no use for belief. Belief and truth are mutually exclusive.

The theist claim is: god exists. The atheist claim is: god doesnt exist. The agnostic claim is: I dont know. All three are mutually exclusive.

Penn Jillette doesnt know if god exists or not so he is agnostic. Richard Dawkins is agnostic. They both believe that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

ag·nos·tic (g-nstk)
a. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.

The theist and atheist claim have nothing to do with belief. On Richards scale from 1 to 7, a theist is 1 and an atheist is 7. Everything else is an agnostic.

If you are asked if god exists and your answer is yes, you are a theist. If you answer with no, you are an atheist. If you answer with I dont know, you are agnostic. As soon as you bring belief into the equation you are stating a position of knowledge saying I dont know. According to Penn and Richards line of thinking there are no atheists or theists. Everyone is agnostic.

I am a number 6. Im an agnostic but with the same lever of belief in god as I have belief in fairies or unicorns. ........Richard Dawkins

Penn Jillette and Richard Dawkins believe that it is impossible to know whether there is a God. They are mistaken. I am atheist. I know there is no god just as assuredly as I know there is no Flying Spaghetti Monster or Invisible Pink Unicorn.

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(no login)

Re: Penn is a little confused.

March 4 2012, 3:11 AM 

The part you don't get is that there is no magical way to be sure that you "know" something. It is all a matter of probability, belief, certainty, etc. We use the word "knowledge" for when we have good enough reasons to assume that we possess the truth, but it is a term of convenience. It is your belief, to whatever degree of certainty, that you "know" there is no god.

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(no login)

Re: Penn is a little confused.

April 16 2012, 12:33 PM 

I know I'm a bit late coming to this one, but I am puzzled about how a unicorn can be both pink and invisible.

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(no login)

Re: Penn is a little confused.

February 28 2012, 8:47 PM 

I've had this argument so many times, I don't intend to do more than dip my toe into it this time. You seem to have a very strange idea that belief and faith are the same thing, and I'm not sure it's the same definition most people have for belief.

If you believe something, you act as if it is true. I believe fire is hot, so I don't touch it. In this case, of course, the belief is as close to absolute fact as anything ever can be. If I met someone who did not believe fire was hot, I would deem them a fool, and possibly attempt to educate them, to save them from the concequences of their false belief. In so trivial a case, of course, I could easily prove them wrong by setting them on fire and taking their temperature before and after.

Belief or disbelief in god is a whole different ball of wax. The logic is simple and fairly self-explanatory. If any omnipotent beings created the universe, then they are not part of the universe; to have created the universe, they must have existed before the universe, independently of the universe, and by definition, the laws of physics that operate within the universe do not apply to them, and can not be used to either prove or disprove their existance. The best you can do is prove that the universe as we observe it could exist without a god; you can never prove it actually did, any more than you could absolutely prove whether a rock you find in the woods got there naturally or was placed there by someone in the past.

I consider myself an athiest; I do not believe in god, and behave as if he doesn't exist. But I am not a fool, and I recognize that it is possible - however unlikely - that I am wrong. Thus I am also, in a sense, agnostic - though myself, I would prefer to classify agnostics as those who cannot decide between whether to believe in the existance or nonexistance of god. An agnostic would thus be someone who acts in a conflicted way - sometimes acting as if there is a god, other times as if there is not - someone who hedges their bets, as it were. This seems, to me, a more useful definition. Sadly, the dictionary writers of the world do not consult me on such matters.

What most athiests refuse to acknowledge is the role of faith in their own lives. To publicly declare your disbelief in god is every bit as much an act of faith as believing in god is.

The absolute certainty that your beliefs are correct and make you superior to those who believe anything else, is a fountian from which all manner of atrocities can flow. It makes no difference what that belief is, whether it's that god exists, or doesn't, or that lime jello is the only true jello. The minute you start thinking that your belief makes you superior to others, you've taken a step down a road that, if followed long enough, eventually leads to dehumanizing everyone who believes differently than you do.

ok, that was more than a toe, I guess.

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Kevin Quail
(Login rudolfo1)

A bit off the subject, but...Louis CK learns about the Catholic Church

June 2 2012, 12:04 PM 


"Neither in my private life nor in my writings, have I ever made a secret of being an out-and-out unbeliever. "

"Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis."

"The whole thing is so patently infantile, so foreign to reality, that to anyone with a friendly attitude to humanity it is painful to think that the great majority of mortals will never be able to rise above this view of life."

Freud certainly regarded belief in God as an illusion that mature men and women should lay aside. The idea of God was not a lie but a device of the unconscious which needed to be decoded by psychology. A personal god was nothing more than an exalted father-figure: desire for such a deity sprang from infantile yearnings for a powerful, protective father, for justice and fairness and for life to go on forever. God is simply a projection of these desires, feared and worshipped by human beings out of an abiding sense of helplessness. Religion belonged to the infancy of the human race; it had been a necessary stage in the transition from childhood to maturity. It had promoted ethical values which were essential to society. Now that humanity had come of age, however, it should be left behind. [A History of God]

-Sigmund Freud, Austrian physician and pioneer psychoanalyst (1856-1939).

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(Login LindseyOConnor)

Silly Argument

August 20 2012, 5:14 PM 

Of COURSE it's a belief either way. There's no credible evidence that any supreme being exists - but some BELIEVE anyway. There's no way of ever proving that some supreme being doesn't and can't exist - but some BELIEVE that he/she/it/they are just fables.

I'm atheist. And the best I can say about it personally is that since I've neither seen nor heard of any reasonable evidence in favor of the supernatural, I'll continue to believe it's just many people's way of dealing with the terrors of the unknown. And if scientific evidence ever comes to light that shows otherwise, then the supernatural just becomes part of the natural world and I'll accept the (always provisional) findings of science.

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