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Does "I don't believe there is" equal " I do believe there isn't"?


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Initial post: 6 Mar 2013 12:56:45 GMT
Dr HotFXMan says:
Since this question seems to at the heart of a number of points made in various discussions, it seems reasonable to create one specifically to discuss it.

For me it is very simple: "I believe" establishes a faith position - while "I don't believe" gainsays another's faith position but does not establish one's own.

Thus, the two are NOT equivalent.

Posted on 6 Mar 2013 13:09:15 GMT
I assume this relates to the various discussions regarding are agnostics atheists? I still hold that they are, atheism isn't defined by what it is but by what it isn't, namely theism. Atheism basically means not theism so in terms of the question do you believe in god there are only 2 positions, yes (theism) or not yes (atheism), by definition anyone who isn't a theist is an atheist.

In regards to the question in the thread title I agree with you, the 2 statements are not equal although if in reference to a deity both statements would describe atheists.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 13:20:11 GMT
C. A. Small says:
Yes you are correct- it is that simple. What is astonishing the number of theists who cannot grasp this.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 14:04:47 GMT
Why is 'No (atheism) and not no (theism) an equally valid way at looking at things?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 14:11:42 GMT
While I agree that the two statements are not equal, they are equivalent - they are both expressing a negative view. (maybe that is a bit picky).

One can argue that theists use the two terms interchangeably (they/I do), but so do atheists.

A number of comments by atheists over the years here show that the distinction is lost on them until they are challenged about it at which point they retreat behind the the 'I don't believe in God' defence.

Non-belief in itself is a worldview ('my world has no need for a deity') and as a worldview that is opposed to another person's it needs defending properly not opinioning that the other's worldview needs to be justified first.

If atheism as a worldview existed without the need for justification everyone would subscribe to it, the fact that they don't ought to give pause for thought.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 14:23:27 GMT
First of all who said they were equally valid?

Secondly theism is not "not no", atheism is "not yes", there is a sutble difference between the two.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 14:29:26 GMT
"Non-belief in itself is a worldview ('my world has no need for a deity') and as a worldview that is opposed to another person's it needs defending properly not opinioning that the other's worldview needs to be justified first."

Ah this old chestnut. Theism makes a claim so needs to justify that claim, atheism in it's simplest form is scepticism of that claim. Do you need to properly defend your scepticism of any claim put to you or do you expect the person making the claim to justify it?

Posted on 6 Mar 2013 14:32:18 GMT
Last edited by the author on 6 Mar 2013 14:35:56 GMT
Spin says:
"I do not believe X" simply means "I believe not-X"".

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 14:45:41 GMT
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In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 14:51:27 GMT
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In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 15:43:28 GMT
K. Hoyles says:
WD - ' Many atheists here are not content with simply being sceptical of theism, they insist that theism is wrong but the response to questioning why they think it so wrong invariably turns to the 'because you can't prove it right'. The point is that the atheism worldview cannot be proved right either.'

It's fairly simple really. There is no evidence of a deity, an atheist subscribes to this not as a belief but as a certainty. The agnostic, however, believes in the possibility of the existence of a deity because theism exists. Therefore I cannot be agnostic, because although I know theism exists, I do not subscribe to their beliefs.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 15:47:43 GMT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 15:53:14 GMT
K. Hoyles says:
Spin - so do you or don't you believe in the possibility of the existence of a deity?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 15:59:37 GMT
Spin says:
K; The possibility of deity is something I consider. But possibility is not reality. It is possible that I will win the lottery...Possibility is not the same as probability. Is it probable that a deity exists? I do not know. I do not have enough information to place a bet.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 16:09:54 GMT
Dr HotFXMan says:
This post from Mr. W. D. Burchill illustrates my point exactly. Every one of his five paragraphs is wrong - and the basis of the wrongness is the mis-understanding of what is set out in the OP.

I learned through long experience that with WD Burchill there is no hope that he will see this. His belief compulsion is too powerful.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 16:17:35 GMT
"so one is not not no (doesn't that that mean it is no)"

What I meant is theism isn't "not no" but is "yes", as in Q. do you believe in god, A. Yes (or any other positive). There's a subtle difference between "not no" and "yes" covered below from the opposite point of view.

"and the other is not yes (which is also no)"

Not always. No would be covered in not yes but this also covers many other responses including I don't know.

"Or is there a middle ground that is neither yes nor no, but is undecided (agnostic?) "

The undecided middle ground would be covered in "not yes".

"but I am not asking for a defence of that kind of atheism, but the kind that is far from simple - that requires that everyone else acknowledge that the 'atheism worldview' is superior or requires no evidence or is the intelligent choice, etc."

You'll have to ask someone else for that then, I can't speak for other atheists but my personal view is I have seen nothing to convince me of a supreme being so I don't believe in one, if new evidence arrives I will re-evaluate my position. In terms of which is the superior world view etc then I think a atheism vs theism argument is to simplistic and aspects of each need to be investigated on their own merit.

"Many atheists here are not content with simply being sceptical of theism, they insist that theism is wrong"

I'm not sure I've seen anyone make the blanket claim that god(s) don't exist with absolute certainty (it is possible I missed it), however where theism, or rather theists, make specific claims these can be investigated and proven either wrong or right.

"The point is that the atheism worldview cannot be proved right either."

We have 2 conflicting world views, theism and atheism, theism can never be total disproven so conversly atheism can never be proven. The only logical avenue this leaves open to determine what is the truth is to prove theism. Which leaves us in a bit of a pickle as the only things we can show for certain are what is false.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 16:18:21 GMT
Spin says:
Ian: If a vehement belief is so wrong, then how do you justify your own beliefs?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 19:10:27 GMT
K. Hoyles says:
'Possibility is not reality.' - yet you consider the possibility. Then you say you don't know if it is probable that a deity exists. Do you know what you think? Would a visitation from god help make your mind up?

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 19:28:01 GMT
Spin says:
K; No. Not even a visitation by the man himself could convince me of Gods existence, After all, I may be hallucinating. Only objective evidential proof can convince me of the existence or non-exisatence of a deity.

Posted on 6 Mar 2013 19:46:30 GMT
The problem here is not so much the use of the phrases 'I don't believe there is' and 'I do believe there isn't.' (A negative belief as opposed to a belief in a negative).

My point was that there is the possibility that someone does not believe that there is a God for the same reason that they do not believe that there are supernovae, because they have never heard of them or Him, or simply never given it any thought. Perhaps if they gave it any thought they would believe.

When one believes that there is no God then one must have come down on one side of the question.

The word 'belief' has a curious relation to negation which is similar to that of 'think.' 'I don't think' is invariably taken to mean 'I think not.' But if you look too close 'I don't think it is right,' might be read as 'it is right' is simply something that I don't think and not something that I think is not

Posted on 6 Mar 2013 19:55:04 GMT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 19:58:02 GMT
You are correct. This is nonsense. What is your point?

One cannot hold the belief in the theory of energy if one does not know the theory, but nor can one believe it is false.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 20:03:40 GMT
Spin says:
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In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 20:08:27 GMT
AJ Murray says:
-"Both theists and atheists are two cheeks on the same arse."

And you claim to be right in the crease between the two, you stinky sphincter you..

In reply to an earlier post on 6 Mar 2013 20:18:19 GMT
Pendragon says:
... the clinker in the ointment, the skid mark on the underwear, the shart in the lift ...
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Discussion in:  religion discussion forum
Participants:  25
Total posts:  224
Initial post:  6 Mar 2013
Latest post:  25 Mar 2013

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