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Neil deGrasse Tyson: Atheist or Agnostic?

Watch out, we got a badass over here. An apparent agnostic badass. It's a great point he makes that the word atheist shouldn't exist. He doesn't say this and probably didn't mean it this way but atheist is the default setting. If you believe in a god you changed your views (under outside influence) from the default ..... often this is at a very young age. To hijack his point: you don't get people labelled as 'non-golfers' for example, but you do get people who took golf up.
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23 comments
 
I'm an equal opportunity heretic.
 
I don't think his analogy quite works. It's not that non-golfers would sit around talking about how they don't play golf, they would be talking about how 95% of the population does play golf and not only wants everyone else to play golf, but to play it by their very specific rules, wear funky golf clothes and adhere to golf clubhouse rules wherever they are. The non-golfers would be talking about and campaigning against golfers trying to impose their brand of golf on everyone.

edit: After listening to him I should probably identify myself as an agnostic, but I think I'll stick with atheist.
 
Yes it is true. Sam Harris stresses this 'non-golfer' point too. You can't deny or prove the existence of God (in the conventional sense someone all powerful ruling you sitting somewhere else). It's better we admit that we don't know and not give credence to fairytale stories. My 2 cents.
 
+Chris Olson you may be missing the point. What he is trying to convey is he is not subscribing to the existing popular theories/ definition of God. At the same time you are not negating the existence of powers which you have not understood yet and which needs more research. Also as "non-golfers" we try to resist the "golfers" asserting their game rules on us.
I like Agnostic better as I am powerless to deny something I don't know.
 
Isn't he just a bit scared of the label, gnosticism covers knowledge and theism covers belief right? If you don't believe in any god claims you're by definition an atheist. The two aren't mutually exclusive, I'm an agnostic atheist myself.

It's not about a positive assertion of no god, it's about not buying any of the claims. Golf can be proven to exist, he's saying that no gods have been proven to exist, he believes in golf but not a God.
 
Kopimist? Hah, that's funny.

When asked the question, "Do you believe in God?", the answer is yes or no. If no, you're an atheist. Calling yourself an atheist is tantamount to social suicide for most, so not calling yourself an atheist is safer.
 
believing nothing is still being an atheist because you've made no positive assertion towards belief in a god, it means that you do not believe that a god exists, which if you believe nothing, is true.
 
Gnostic Atheist - I believe no gods exist
Agnostic Atheist - I don't believe gods exist.

Is this whole "I'm agnostic" thing like a new form of pascals wager? lol
 
I can also say, "I do not believe in +Michael Walsh " all day long. Thankfully, your existence is not dependent on my belief.
The one question I've always had for Atheists is this. Why is it so important that you "fix" those who choose to believe in a deity?
It doesn't bother me that you believe, or don't believe.
 
I could quite easily say the same thing in reverse to you +Ven Taylor. I'm sure your response would be the same as mine: we don't try and fix you. We just live our lives and when we see something we don't agree with we will comment.
 
Sure you could not believe in me, but there's a lot more evidence that I exist than a god. If you think that the act of debate or discussion of logic, evidence, or reason is a conversion attempt than I wouldn't recommend entering a discussion about theism with an atheist because we take it seriously. It doesn't matter if there are believers in god or not, what matters is that I get a chance to voice my opinions and the knowledge I've gained just as much as anyone else.

When you look at the points that atheists strongly oppose or will defend, they are important breeches of the rights of others who may not believe. Atheists aren't telling people to do anything, they are telling the religious 'no, you can not take that right from me'. The rest is just discussion and debate in order to increase our understanding. Even theologians don't agree on the bible and debate, why is it so important for them to try to 'fix' the other believers?

We would be nowhere without disagreement and debate, science works based on the principle of trying to prove ourselves wrong, testing our knowledge and seeing if it can stand up.
 
Sorry I'm sort of rambly today, but theists should understand that an atheist can be a good friend. There are some atheists out there who project that notion of 'no believers, convert the sheep etc' but that's kind of silly. What I would rather do is be a watchdog for everyone's claims, I'll go after an atheist just as quickly as a theist if I can find the fallacy!
 
Neil deGrasse Tyson is an amazing intellect. "I couldn't sit in a room and discuss how much I don't believe in something" Hehe, couldn't say it better myself.
 
Makes me wonder though, what if he's addressing a false claim, or a claim with no evidence that relates to astrophysics?

He's having his cake and eating it too, he basically says he doesn't bother with religion, hinting that he doesn't believe, then complains about talking about not believing, which is really what he's doing but in a way more roundabout way.
 
While I like the points you make Michael, I find that a lot of folks on Google tend to use it as a platform from which to launch an anti-theist agenda. Not "let's agree to disagree", but "if you're a theist, you're an idiot"
I take exception to that. Intelligent discourse is great. Snarky, backhanded commentary is terrible... No matter what your position may be.
 
and you're right, but we just have to chalk that up to bad thinking. Sadly people choose to believe or disbelieve things for bad reasons and it's often pretty apparent right from the get go.

There's also this real disconnect between severity of issues. Looking at things from an atheist perspective, many things don't matter so much that really do to a theist (the existance of god). So it's hard to get a good discussion going with regards to that because there can be tempers flared on either end. The best we can do is try to keep our discussions as good and productive as possible and hope that others of all stripes will take the lead.
 
I think that's why I liked Neil's initial comment about being associated with a certain group, and then being judged based on all the stereotypes of said group.
It's exactly why I don't like organized anything.
 
Well I've learned from people that even in the way of religion there's not much a group mentality, line up ten atheists and ten christians and ask them questions about their beliefs you'll probably get different answers. Atheism isn't a group it's a position on a matter of belief. There's my contest to his point, he's trying to bound atheists together in some form of equivocation to the religious when it's nothing more than the rejection of a claim. We have no dogma, no claims, no baggage to carry, simply "I do not believe the claims made of a god's existence"

It's folks who confuse the issue that lump people together so I'd rather try to clear up the mud than just let it sit and fester on my floor.
 
Thanks for the post! I guess I'd define agnostics as those who know they don't know if there's a higher power. Whereas, atheists are those who know there is no higher power.
 
+Ryan Brack I'm sure you meant to be snarky, but I'll still refute.
Atheists are those who believe there is no higher power. Philosophers call that a closed system.
Theists believe there is one (or more) higher power(s).
Agnostics believe they don't have enough information to make an informed decision.
+Michael Walsh You're right. Even us Christians have sweeping differences in our beliefs. Even as a licensed minister and pastor, I choose to lean toward the agnostic side of the scale because I KNOW I don't have enough information to "pin down" whom I believe to be God and put him in a box saying, "This is God and anything outside of this box is not". I'd be a fool to think such things. I'd also be a judgmental, pompous ass for thinking there is no room within my belief system for those who do not share my faith. Put simply, I love to marvel at the miracle that is life itself. The fact that, though we can genetically modify the offspring, we cannot make the seed. We cannot force life into something.
Unfortunately, there are others...
There's that loud, obnoxious, whacked-out 20% that believes hurricanes are caused by gay marriage and God hates people that disagree with their uneducated christian dogma. Those people who simply believe what they're told without asking why or how.
The real unfortunate part is that the other 80% of tolerant, mindful, and understanding "theists" are painted with the same paintbrush as those whack jobs.
As +Michael Walsh said, every christian should have a friend who is an atheist, I believe the reverse should apply.
Every atheist should have a theist friend... Even if it's just for the sparkling conversations. Just avoid the crazy ones. You'll know them within the first 10 minutes.
 
I actually love "golf". But I love science as well... But now I'm stuck with manufacturing engineering and biomechanics.
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