Jesse, George, Stathis, list,

A relevant variable here seems to be the degree to which one is aware of or 
cares about the question of whether there is a God (or gods). The kind and 
depth and commitment of the belief-attitude are a variable which makes terms 
belief, suspicion, disbelief, and doubt, whose collective structure is 
otherwise like that of logical quantification, take on sufficient variation of 
shades of connotation in order to generate disputes as to whether, for 
instance, somebody devoid of belief in God is a disbeliever in God. 

If we assume that all the persons in question have reasonably large and equal 
amounts of awareness and concern about the question, then the structure is like 
that of Aristotelian quantification. Non-belief (in the sense of non-100% 
belief, will be equivalent to doubt. Non-disbelief (in the sense of non-100% 
disbelief) will be equivalent to suspicion. A complete lack of belief, the lack 
of any significant suspicion, that God exists, will be equivalent to disbelief 
that God exists.

If we assume that each person either (a) has that same degree or (b) has no 
awareness at all of the question, then the structure will be like that of 
Boolean quantification. For instance, the belief that God exists will appear as 
a compound of suspicion that God exists and non-suspicion that God doesn't 
exist. Also, we won't need to restrict the range of the terms of belief, 
suspicion, etc., to persons, beings capable of belief-attitudes about God's 
existence. But having to regard belief as such a compound rather than as a 
simpler kind of tranformation ("~suspect that ~...") is, in terms of logical 
structure, perhaps somewhat inconvenient, and I suppose that that's the reason 
for the use of a structure more similar to that of Aristotelian logical 
quantification and for a restriction of range to persons aware of the question 
of whether God exists.

If we make no assumptions about degrees, motivations, justifications, etc., of 
the belief-attitudes, then the words terms belief, suspicion, disbelief, and 
doubt come into relief as a rather coarse-grained way to characterize 
belief-atttitudes toward God's existence. Clearly, in the absence of clarity 
and consensus about logical assumptions about the relevant terms, they occasion 
equivocation and ambiguity about the difference between disbelief and complete 
lack of belief. But, coarse-grained as they may be, they're still quite 
convenient. 

The word "religious" will certainly compound the ambiguities and vaguenesses. 
If questions of corroboration/discorrobration by evidence are relevant for 
characterizing belief, disbelief, etc., as religious, then, depending on how 
the evidence stands, and depending on how narrowly or widely one construes 
"religious," the theist, atheist, and agnostic might, each of them, be called 
religious or be called non-religious. 

Some theists like to lump agnostics in with atheists. I guess some atheists 
like to do so too. For my part, at least, as an agnostic, both suspecting and 
doubting God's existence, and venturing such suspicion and doubt in any case 
with only vague notions of what God would be or do, I prefer to be 
characterized neither as atheist nor as theist, but as agnostic.

Best, Ben Udell

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jesse Mazer" <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
To: <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>; <everything-list@eskimo.com>
Sent: Monday, January 09, 2006 2:29 AM
Subject: Re: Paper+Exercises+Naming Issue
George Levy  wrote:

>Stathis Papaioannou wrote:
>
>>George Levy writes:
>>
>>>One more point for Stathis: If atheism is not a religion, then zero is 
>>>not a number.
>>
>>There is a clear difference between, on the one hand, believing x despite 
>>the lack of any supporting evidence and, on the other hand, not believing 
>>x because of the lack of any supporting evidence
>
>
>As far as I know atheists believe in  no god ( B~G  or equivalently B( G=f 
>)  ) and agnostics do not commit themselves to believing in god. (~BG) . In 
>that sense atheists are true believers. You are confusing the instance with 
>the class. The fact that zero represents a null value does not mean that 
>its status as a number is nil. The fact that atheists believe in zero god 
>does not mean they do not believe in anything.
>
>George
>

Atheists do not always define the term "atheism" as believing there is no 
God, they often define it simply as lacking any belief in God--see the 
quotes from various atheist writers at 
http://www.infidels.org/news/atheism/sn-definitions.html




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