Disputatio:Atheismus

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I thought that Richard Dawkins would be a more appropriate example than Marx, since he is famous because of his atheistic views (not to mention avoiding the implicit argumentum ad communismum created by the use of a "Godless Commie"). LeighvsOptimvsMaximvs 01:28, 14 Ianuarii 2007 (UTC)

Is ...non...nullum a double negative? Alexanderr 16:45, 5 Februarii 2007 (UTC)
Yes. And double negatives are preferred in latin...one of the few grammatical concepts that english hasnt stolen.--Ioshus (disp) 17:08, 5 Februarii 2007 (UTC)
Josh, I think you may have Greek in mind. Greek does prefer double negatives, ut Latin does not. In Latin the normally expression would be in nullum deum credere or in ullum deum non credere. In nullum deum non credere would mean "to believe in every god", and non in nullum deum credere would be "to believe in several gods." Either way, not a good definition of atheism! --Iustinus 19:09, 5 Februarii 2007 (UTC)
I'm extremely confused, I confess... I'm at school (work, not university) so I don't have my books. But this goes against what I have read and been taught...maybe I needed to qualify that with a "sometimes" prefers double negatives? :
1) "Natavisti?"
2) "Nunc non natavi."
This is not correct?--Ioshus (disp) 19:24, 5 Februarii 2007 (UTC)
Erm... it is correct, but it's not a double negative. Are you thinking of Spanish nunca? Numquam non natavi would still mean "I have always swam," litotes not double-negative. Too many late nights on Wikipedia, I'm thinkinig ;) --Iustinus 19:28, 5 Februarii 2007 (UTC)
"I have always swum." Swim, swam, swum. ;) IacobusAmor 12:42, 24 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)
Of course I'm thinking of nunca...I have never been able to deal with that false cognate... I retire to finish up my day and then go home and scour grammar books. Will report later...--Ioshus (disp) 19:54, 5 Februarii 2007 (UTC)

Atheus aut Atheista[fontem recensere]

De setentia:"Qui deos nec bonos nec malos dicit esse appellatur atheus, sectator autem atheismi atheista vocatur." vere dubito quia sic dixit Words:

atheus, athei  N (2nd) M   [XEXES]    uncommon
atheist, one who does not believe in God; (as nickname);
         
atheista, atheistae  N (1st) M   [GEXEK]    NeoLatin  uncommon
atheistic;

et vide Hofmann http://www.uni-mannheim.de/mateo/camenaref/hofmann/a/books/a_9496.html --Rafaelgarcia 23:11, 23 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

Quomodo igitur dicere velis sententiam de quo loquimur? "Atheista", etiam secundum Word, nomen substantivum esse videtur. Unde igitur glossa "atheistic", etsi "atheist" dici debeat? Scio apud antiquos Christianos "atheum/atheon" nomen fuisse invectivum uni praesertim homini datum. Equidem hoc vocabulo repudiato malim dicere: "Qui deos nec bonos nec malos docet esse appellatur "atheista". --Neander 00:33, 24 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)
Apparuit mihi quod athiesta et atheus idem dicunt.--Rafaelgarcia 00:47, 24 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

Versio recens: "Quisquis deos nec bonos nec malos docet esse appellatur "atheista"." ->"Whoever teaches that the gods are neither good or bad ar called atheista."? Quid? Nonne melius fuerat: "Quisquis nullum deum exstare credunt dicitur atheus vel atheista."--Rafaelgarcia 12:38, 24 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

Fortasse legendum est "Whoever teaches that neither good nor bad gods exist, is called 'atheista'." ...sed hoc non multo melius est. —Mucius Tever 01:17, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)
Cur interest si dei sunt boni aut mali? atheimus solumodo dixit deos non exsistere nonne?(Why does it matter if the gods are good or bad. Atheism only says that they don't exist, doesn't it?)--Rafaelgarcia 01:22, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)
Maybe it does now. I understand, for example, that early Christians were called atheists, not because they believed in no gods, but because of the particular gods they didn't believe in. But really, the sentence doesn't seem to make much sense either way. —01:52, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

Please, everybody, by all means, write a better praefatio. This is not my monopoly.   :–)   --Neander 03:43, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

Praefationem nuper aliquot mutationibus affeci. Siquidem ea, quae aliter concepta scripseram, animorum confusioni fuisse videntur, praefationem statui in formam ante-Neanderthalensem esse redintegrandam, ne mut(il)ationes a me coeptae cogitandi tenorem obstruant. --Neander 02:14, 26 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

Credere[fontem recensere]

Concedo me hanc sententiam parum intellegere:

Alii appellant eos qui in nullum deum credunt atheos, 
alii solum appellant eos qui deum non esse credunt atheos, 
affirmantque eos qui sole in nullum deum credant esse agnosticos. 
Id est "non credere deum esse"; non est "credere deum non esse."

Mihi quidem videtur Non credo deum esse idem valere ac Credo deum non esse. Si pro verbo credendi verbo utamur sciendi, differentiam certe habeamus: Nescio deum esse non valet idem ac Scio deum non esse. In logica epistemica plurimum interest inter habitum sciendi et habitum credendi. An fallor? --Neander 22:05, 24 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

Apologies for replying in English; I was trying to get across the idea of a broader sense of the word "atheism" (which includes agnostics: essentially anyone who is not a theist or deist would be atheist by this definition) and a narrower one (which only includes people who would say "I believe that there is no god"). Perhaps there was a little L1 interference here: in English there is certainly a difference between "do not believe that" and "believe that not", and I hoped to get this across by my use of bold in Latin. If one can not do this in Latin, then another way has to be found. However, I would try to avoid using "scio", as that would create an even narrower definition, by which Bertrand Russell would not be an a-teapotist since he says that it can not be known (according to an everyday definition of "know") that there is no teapot. Leigh (disp) 23:37, 24 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

Leigh, I think I'm with Russell here (perhaps more than the Master himself), but let me try to relate myself to his teapot. It seems to me that Russell is constructing an existential claim which, according to his belief, is nonsensical enough to prove his atheistic point. R's teapot involves an existential (ontological) claim that can't be disproved, and whoever concludes, from our (present) inability to disprove it, that R's teapot exists, commits the fallacy of argumentum ad ignorantiam. So far so good. But it seems to me that existential claims in general can't be disproved; they can only be proved. Is there any philosophical reason for ruling out the possibility of such a teapot as that described by Russell? There may be serious epistemological (methodological) and commonsense ontological reasons for disbelieving the possibility of R's teapot. But do we really know what the universe is like?   :–)   Perhaps we can infer nothing about the existence of R's teapot.

Re difference between "do not believe that" and "believe that not": Perhaps it is my L1 that prevents me from capturing the difference. But on the other hand I'm not a supporter of strong linguistic relativism. I can understand the difference between the broader and the narrower sense of atheism. If one doesn't believe that p, one thereby doubts that p but doesn't rule out the possibility that p. One just refuses to endorse the argumentum ad ignorantiam. But if one believes that not p and is thereby denying even the possibility of p, one is liable to give an account of where such a certainty comes from. I can't dispel the thought that, in this case, "believing" is virtually the same as knowing. Martinus Neander 03:38, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

It is (probably) impossible to disprove existential claims except when they are logical impossibilities and when the claims are specific about time and place. In the case of Russell's teapot, ateapotism is a practical and common sense position; we can not know for certain (can we know anything for certain? That is an argument for the scepticism page) that the teapot does not exist, but there is no reason to say it does and the chances of it existing (how would it get there?) are so slim that we can live our lives as if we were certain; we "know" that it does not exist in the same way that we "know" that elves do not exist. Of course, the teapot is not a perfect analogy here, as it was designed to make another point: that is up to theists, not atheists, to support their claims.
I agree that there is no obvious (commonsensical or non-religious) reason to hold that Russell's teapot exists. It doesn't affect our lives or impinge on our theories so as to make itself "felt" in any empirical way. So, ateapotism is indeed a practical and common sense position -- which can also be construed as meaning that the teapot doesn't exist to us, from which it doesn't follow that it couldn't exist as a Kantian noumenon. In any case, I think we agree that R's teapot doesn't exist as an object of experience. --Neander 21:58, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)
As for "not believe that" and "believe that not", the first is a negative claim about existence and the second a positive one about non-existence. "Not believe that" is often used to mean "believe that not" in English, but when they are contrasted like this there is a definite difference. Someone who is a pure agnostic does not believe that god exists but does not believe that god does not exist; for him/her the two propositions are equally likely and s/he does not believe either. My dog does not believe that and does not believe that not. "Not believe that" would be a 4, 5, 6, 7 or possibly 3 on Dawkins' spectrum of probability (which is very useful for making these distinctions) whilst "believe that not" would only be a 6 or 7. And knowing is different from believing here; someone who knows is a 7 and probably believes that there is a logical impossibility in the idea of god. I would put myself between 6 and 6.5; I believe that the probability of the statement "god does not exist" is significantly greater that 50%: I believe the statement in the common English sense of the word "believe". Since I do not believe that the probability of the statement being true is 100%, I do not claim to know (for me the word "know" implies certainty, for some it does not).
Believing and knowing don't necessarily involve "claims". I'm pressing this because it looks like "not believe"/"non credere" sometimes tend to be taken to mean "negare". "Credere" is an epistemic attitude, whilst "negare" is a speech act: one may deny X and at the same time know (and hence also believe) that non-X. When re-writing the praefatio, I expressly tried to avoid using the verb "credere" in order to pave the way for a more inclusive presentation which would contain a characterisation of those varieties of atheism as well the supporters of which have other reasons for dissing religious beliefs than metaphysical or epistemological. Another reason was that, by using speech act verbs such as "negare" and "docere", I was trying to avoid giving the impression that atheism is just another system of belief. But insofar as I understand Dawkins (without having read his Delusion book, I'm sorry to say), he proposes to construe a continuum of certainty-of-belief. While its preference-theoretic logic is clear enough, I feel this is not exactly how my mind works. BTW, knowing implies certainty for me as well; those for who it does not, may be misusing the concept of knowing. --Neander 23:12, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)
I am not sure whether I am making the differences here clear. Well, problems with the meanings of words are quite commonplace in philosophy at the best of times, what with different people disagreeing about the different nuances in different words even when they both speak the same language natively. Perhaps a conversation between an Englishman and a Finn about epistemology as it relates to an article in Latin about atheism is bound to suffer a few mistranslations ;-) Leigh (disp) 10:32, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)
I have no problem distinguishing between a pattern of the form "I deny X" (e.g., "non credere deum esse") and a pattern of the form "I affirm non-X" (e.g., "credere deum non esse"). Is that really just because I speak English?! IacobusAmor 12:02, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)
There's a contrast between non credere and negare, but it's kind of small (unless the discussion hinges on it). But does the original sentence under disputation actually hold? Do people actually say that about the words athei and agnostici, or just about the related words that happen to look like them in other languages? —Mucius Tever 17:04, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)
What you say about the words "athei" and "agnostici" is important; it is easy (for me at least) to fall into the trap of assuming that words that are listed in the dictionary as being the equivalents of our language's words in another language contain all of the same nuances: unfortunately, such translations are often inexact.
Now I feel compelled to ask another two questions: how are these words used in Latin, and what are our sources? I am going to make an assumption that comparatively little has been written about either atheism or agnosticism as serious positions in Latin, owing to the fact that they have only become common positions in recent times, in which most works have been written in the vernacular. I have looked in some rather large/special Latin dictionaries and have not found much of use for these words. And, as someone has said already, atheist has been used in the past (I presume in something written in Latin) to describe something that is very different from the English word that derives from it. Leigh (disp) 21:24, 25 Aprilis 2008 (UTC)

As I understand it, credere in + accusative is a post-classical Christian innovation, intended to convey something stronger than merely "belief that X exists"; credere in Deum implies not only that you believe there is a God, but that you place your hope, your trust, your faith in God and serve His will. You can credere Deum without credere in Deum—Satan, for example, obviously believes there is a God, but can't be said to have "faith in God" in the same way as Christians. Credere Deum and credere Deo are both valid classical formations, but it seems Augustine distinguished the two by saying that the accusative signifies belief (in the existence of), while the dative signifies trust. For example, by that logic, credere Cartesio would mean "I believe Descartes (about a claim)," whereas credere Cartesium would mean "I believe Descartes exists." A useful distinction, I'd say, but I'm not sure how much basis it has in classical Latin, nor do I know how faithfully it's followed by later writers. Still, it seems fair to say that atheists need merely refrain from credere Deo in order to be atheists; demons don't credere in Deum, yet demons do credere Deum and are therefore not atheists. (Also, I would assume that demons tend to credere Deo). -Adamas 17:22, 25 Iunii 2008 (UTC)

I believe you're quite right in your conclusions about credere. So this is something to pay heed to in the article text. BTW, a question concerning the extension of atheism crossed my mind when reading your example "Satan, for example, obviously believes there is a God": Obviously, atheists believe there is no God. But do they also believe there is no Satan? It would be logical to deny both but I'm not quite sure, because the focus seems to be on God. --Neander 01:25, 26 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
It depends on one's concept of Satan. For most people Satan is defined in terms of God; Satan would not be Satan if he did not rebel or oppose God in the first place. Thus, for most people, the concept Satan genetically depends on the concept God. Thus to deny the idea of God is to deny that of Satan as well.--Rafaelgarcia 01:30, 26 Iunii 2008 (UTC)

re atheism[fontem recensere]

Some atheists do believe in Satan, but their Satan is not the same Satan as that of the Christians; they believe in another being which has the same name and some things in common, just as Spinoza believed in God without believing in the God of the Bible. Atheists should deny the existence of the Satan of Christianiy, but they are free to believe in any other entity going by the name of Satan. Leigh (disp) 20:02, 26 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
Then what's so bad about the Satan of Christianity? Am I to draw the conclusion that the purpose of quite a few atheists is to eradicate Cristianity from the world, while other types of irrational thinking are more of less OK? --Neander 20:46, 26 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
That was me going into my weird, pedantic "logic mode" ;-) The Satan of Christianity, or any other Satan who can only exist if a deity exists, is (since his existence requires the existence of God) incompatible with atheism; a concept of Satan which does not require a belief in God is compatible with it. I may be wrong, but I think that Anton Lavey's church says that there is an entity on can call Satan but that there is no God, so there have been a (very) small number of atheists who actually have believed in something they call Satan.
In theory, one can be an atheist and believe that the earth is flat and rests on the back of a giant turtle without believing any logical contradictions; to be an atheist one only needs to disbelieve anything that requires a belief in God. That does not mean that many atheists think it is more sensible to believe that the earth is flat than that God exists, only that the former is logically compatible with the proposition "God does not exist" whilst the latter is not, even though (in practice) nearly everyone who disbelieves the latter also disbelieves the former. Leigh (disp) 23:18, 26 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
As I understand Lavey, there is not even a personal Satan to believe in. Lavey's thought is certainly atheistic not unlike Nietzsche's Übermensch, a person of achevement who needs no god – with the addition of rituals and whistles, presumably for the (unconscious?) purpose of some LARPing, an activity so dear to quite a few people. ;-) ## Not being an Englishman, I am not sure whether I get right the meaning of the big G in God. So, when you say "to be an atheist one only needs to disbelieve anything that requires a belief in God", are you referring to the Christian God only, or to the God of monotheistic religions (incl. Allah) in general, or to any god with divine powers? --Neander 19:17, 27 Iunii 2008 (UTC)

I guess what I conclude from this is that their are many kinds of atheism,

Atheists that define themselves by rejecting all supernatural entities as illogical or arbitrary
Atheists that define themselves by a particular disbelief in the existence of the Christian God
Wouldn't this define Muslims as atheists, then? --Neander 19:58, 27 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
Except isn't the Christian God the same as the Jewish and Muslim one? Different religion doesn't necessarily mean different God.--Rafaelgarcia 20:31, 27 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
Obviously not. The Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem has a long inscription written in Arabic, which states among other things: "God has no Son." Which doesn't mesh too well with, say, Matth.17.5: "This is my Son." --Neander 21:22, 27 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
I appreciate your point that Muslims and Christians so vehemently disagree about the nature of God, so that we may consider them to have different concepts of God; but from a certain perspective, however, aren't they referring to the same entity in reality? Isn't it valid to consider this a dissagreement about whether the "God" had a son? --Rafaelgarcia 21:51, 27 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
"... aren't they referring to the same entity in reality?" What reality, or whose? I have no dog (or god :-) in this fight. But I surmise both Christian believers and Muslims would deny the identity. If A's god is a father, and B's god not, isn't this a difference that makes a difference? --Neander 22:33, 27 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
Being an athiest of the "all supernatural entities are illogical and/or arbitrary" sort, I cannot speak for muslims' or christians' point of view, but for myself, there is only the one reality, i.e. the reality which is all that actually exists, and my view is that all disagreements concerning fact are disagreements over what exists and actually is. The fact that there is only one reality, is the given and the basis of deciding what is right and wong. --Rafaelgarcia 00:22, 28 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
For confessing Christians, God with his son is the one reality; for confessing Muslims, Allah is the one reality; for atheists, both are obviously arbitrary entities, whose identity of non-identity is presumably not worth pondering. I'm afraid a super-god is needed to tell who is right. :-) --Neander 01:03, 28 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
Atheists that define themselves by a particular disbelief in the existence of all gods and supernatural beings
Atheists that define themselves by an active opposition to the existence of the Christian God
Atheists that define themselves by an active opposition to Christianity?

And I suppose there are many other types that go by the same name.--Rafaelgarcia 19:44, 27 Iunii 2008 (UTC)

Surely 2 and 3 are merely reflect the default argument positions of many atheists, at least those in Europe and America? Having been raised in a (traditionally) Christian society, I am most familiar with the God (with a big G) of Abraham; I also deny the existence of the gods (with a small g) of other religions, but tend to focus on God out of habit. If most atheists one meets talk mainly about Christianity and its God, it is probably because that is the only god whose existence they are expected to consider and the god with whom the people in that persons society are most familiar. Leigh (disp) 13:07, 28 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
Yes, I can understand the default argument for local or political atheism. Still, I cannot help finding only 1 and 3 (global atheism) intellectually coherent positions. --Neander 17:45, 28 Iunii 2008 (UTC)
I agree with you there.--Rafaelgarcia 18:53, 28 Iunii 2008 (UTC)