Re: The pool we're trying to paddle in

From: Brian D Williams (
Date: Fri Apr 13 2001 - 12:30:39 MDT

>From: J Corbally <>

>Not so. Most atheists I've met would not say "god doesn't exist",
>they would say they don't believe it exists. They're well aware
>of the problem of making such sweeping claims. By default,
>atheism is merely a lack of god belief. It can also be a form of
>"assertion of nonexistence", but this in my experience is much
>less common, and atheism tends to be described that way in order
>to strawman it.

Atheism is not merely a lack of God belief, it is a belief that God
does not exist.

Webster's Universal College Dictionary:

Atheism: The doctrine or belief that there is no God.

Atheist: A person who denies or disbelieves in the existance of a
supreme being or beings.

The version most "atheists" you know believe is closer to what I
thought agnostic meant. I guess we have a golden opportunity to
define a new term.

>I have problems with the "unknowable" bit too, which is why I use
>atheist, as it denotes my simple lack of belief. I've noticed
>that most agnostics I've met don't buy the "unknowable" thing
>either. Claiming that something is "unknown" or "unknowable" is
>just as much an erroneous assertion as "there are no gods", since
>they are all positive claims(requiring positive proof), even if
>"currently" is added. So I stick with atheism, as I make no
>assertion other than my own lack of belief.

We appear to believe the same thing, but neither the textbook
definitions for agnostic nor atheist seem to cover it.

>>I realize religions have pat (unacceptable) answers to these
>>questions. Of course a wise person would simply take Pascal's
>>wager (Blaise, look it up) and say they believe. Come to think of
>>it, I repent!!

>Well, I don't know whether the "wise" person would:) Then again,
>a lottery ticket is about the level of my betting.

Thats okay as someone else pointed out Pascal's wager is most
effective as satire.

>Seems to me like the death penalty is more a case of legalized
>communal revenge than anything to do with justice. The idea that
>a Govt. can actually kill someone is disturbing.

The idea is to keep individuals from acting on their own, speaking
of that, check this out:

>From the May issue of REASON.

Barbara Graham was a speaker at last year's million mom march and
a member of the group that co-sponsored that rally for gun control.
Now a District of Columbia court has convicted her of shooting the
man she thought killed her son. Her victim, who police say was not
the murderer, is now paralyzed.

Contrary to some peoples opinion I think the death penalty will
have a negative reinforcing effect (or deterrent) when it is
applied at the same level at which the crime occurs.

There are something like two murders a day in Chicago, but we do
not execute anything like that number. Everything we've learned
from psychology to cybernetics has told us we can't expect any
change at this low level of reinforcement.


Extropy Institute,
Adler Planetarium
Life Extension Foundation,
National Rifle Association,, 1.800.672.3888
Ameritech Data Center Chicago, IL, Local 134 I.B.E.W

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