On Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 11:53 PM, chris peck <chris_peck...@hotmail.com>wrote:

> there are many words like that which we use without any fuss.
>
> The word 'game' is a famous example where different games possess a myriad
> of properties which are shared by some and not others. In fact there
> doesn't seem to be a set of properties sufficient to capture the nature of
> all games. Nevertheless, we use the word without any fuss.
>

Words with broad meanings are fine.  Where they lead to trouble is when one
asserts the non-existence of all things that belong to very wide classes.
For example "I don't believe there exists any game that I would enjoy". As
you point out, this statement applies to an immense set of possible objects
because so many possible games exist.  Without knowing or experiencing
every possible game, how can such a belief be justified?  Likewise, when
Dawkins says he believes in no Gods, how can he make rightfully make such a
statement without knowing all possible religions and conceptions of God in
those religions?

Isn't it possible, (even suggested by some of our scientific theories),
that something that is infinite, uncreated, eternal, and responsible for
your existence exists?
Isn't it possible that the simulation hypothesis could be true and that a
hyper-intelligent mind could explore (create?) reality through simulation?
Such hyper intelligent beings could even "save" other simpler beings by
copying and pasting them into a reality under its control.
Isn't it possible that universalism is the correct theory of personal
identity, and there is in truth only one experiencer, the one soul behind
all the eyes of all creatures?

Atheism, in its naivety, rejects all these possibilities without even
realizing it has done so.  Various existing religions across the world have
described God in terms essentially identical to the three examples above.
What motivation does atheism have to reject these notions of god?  It seems
the only reason is the dogma: "there is no god", and so it was proven
"anything that even has the appearance of a god is obviously false at the
start."

Isn't it better to have an unbiased, agnostic, and open mind on ontological
questions which are no where close to being settled?



>
> And in a way the fact 'God' means different things to different people
> isn't a problem. If I say someone is an atheist, you can say that this
> person has some conception of God, whatever it is, and doesn't believe that
> thing exists. You can say that much at the very least.
>

In that case everyone is an atheist, as you could cook up any definition of
some God that person will not believe in.  The word atheist is either
meaningless (if it applies to specific or certain God/gods), or it is
inconsistent/unsupported if you apply it to more general definitions of
god.  It's a word that seems to carry less than 1 bit of information.

I think a far better term (one that perhaps many people really mean when
they say they are agnostic or atheist) is that they are a "free thinker" as
in:
"The philosophical <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy> viewpoint
that holds opinions should be formed on the basis of
logic<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logic>,
reason <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reason>, and
empiricism<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empiricism>,
rather than authority <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authority>,
tradition<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tradition>,
or other dogmas <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogma>."

Free thought is also more in line with the a genuine scientific attitude,
whereas many sects of atheism are prone to authority and dogmas.


Jason



> In the unlikely event that you are really confused about what he means by
> God you can ask for clarification.
>
> What I think has happened here is that a bunch of folk like Harris,
> unfamiliar with the philosophical territory, have stumbled over the fact
> that words don't quite get defined in as strict a manner as they thought.
> They think they have stumbled upon something of import but in reality the
> 'problem', such that there is one, generalizes easily to much of language
> and yet language remains as useful as it always was.
>
> ------------------------------
> From: jasonre...@gmail.com
>
> To: everything-list@googlegroups.com
> Subject: Re: Hitch
> Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2013 19:33:43 -0500
>
>
>
>
> On Jul 9, 2013, at 5:56 PM, chris peck <chris_peck...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
> If some one says "look, cat" I don't know what kind of cat they are
> refering to. I nevertheless can be confident that they have seen something
> feline.
>
>
> True, but cats are things people can see, and this the variety of possible
> meanings for the word cat is greatly constrained.
>
> When someone says god do they mean something that is (check any or all of
> the following):
> - immanent
> - transcendant
> - uncreated
> - eternal
> - intelligent
> - benevolent
> - creator
> - infinite
> - answerer of prayers
> - judge
> - designer
> - truth
> - love
> - universal mind
> - everything
>
> ?
>
> Because there are many types of possible and very different meanings for
> the word "god", using the word atheist to describe someone who does not
> believe in some particular conception of god is much like using the word
> "acatist" to describe someone who does not believe in 6-legged bright-pink
> saber tooth tigers, but nonetheless believes in lions and house cats.
>
> Even if you reject the particular god of some particular religious sect, I
> am confident there are particular selections of the above words that you
> would admit to believing in.
>
> Jason
>
>
>
> --- Original Message ---
>
> From: "Jason Resch" <jasonre...@gmail.com>
> Sent: 10 July 2013 8:35 AM
> To: "Everything List" <everything-list@googlegroups.com>
> Subject: Re: Hitch
>
>
>
>
> On Tue, Jul 9, 2013 at 5:33 PM, chris peck < <chris_peck...@hotmail.com>
> chris_peck...@hotmail.com> wrote:
>
>  Why does that make the word less usefull? I think its a very useful
> word. If someone tells me they are an atheist I then know that they do not
> belive in God.
>
>
>  But you don't know what God the atheist doesn't believe in.
>
>  Jason
>
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