Sunday, August 17, 2014

ADDLED ATHEIST #2: Austin Cline

"The presence of a belief in a god and the absence of a belief in a god exhaust all of the possibilities."
I'm going to address this statement first, because this is just an outright lie. Almost all a-theists admit to the existence of athe-ists, or strong a-theists. Austin himself freely admits that strong a-theists exist and that their position carries its own burden of proof. He also admits that many a-theists can be strong a-theists regarding certain definitions of "God". This means that athe-ists, or strong a-theists, are putting forth their own proposition, which is the opposing proposition put forth by theists. The opposing propositions are "god(s) do exist" and "god(s) do not exist". If you believe "god(s) do exist" is true, then you believe "god(s) do not exist" is false, and vice versa. So, in actuality, I can believe one of those two positions are true...2 possibilities...or, I can not believe either is true...a 3rd possibility. 

If the broad definition of agnosticism is used, then agnostics lack belief, because not enough evidence (knowledge) has forced them to form a belief. They are the 3rd possibility. We then only need definitions for the other two possibilities, which are covered by the labels the-ist and athe-ist.
"Once it is understood that atheism is merely the absence of belief in any gods, it becomes evident that agnosticism is not, as many assume, a “third way” between atheism and theism."
So...if you believe my false premise then, obviously, this false argument is true. This is circular reasoning. This is what George H Smith did in ATHEISM: The Case Against God. So, what happens if I don't agree that your false premise is true?
"Agnosticism is not about belief in god but about knowledge — it was coined originally to describe the position of a person who could not claim to know for sure if any gods exist or not."
Oh, then I'm supposed to believe your false "original" definition of agnosticism is true. I've already shown that Huxley was addressing the evidence gathering phase of forming a belief, and that his position was that agnostics did not have enough evidence (knowledge), to form a belief. I don't think many self proclaimed a-theists have even read anything of Huxley's, before claiming to know the "original" definition.
"Thus, it is clear that agnosticism is compatible with both theism and atheism."
Again, if you believe my false definition, then, clearly, my false argument is true. Huxley clearly states that agnosticism is most definitely not compatible with theism or atheism.
"It is also worth noting that there is a vicious double standard involved when theists claim that agnosticism is “better” than atheism because it is less dogmatic."
This is because the majority of theists still use the definition, athe-ist, that they invented and defined. Agnostics, not believing their religions are true are perceived as less dogmatic than athe-ists believing their religions are false. No double standard, just the majority usage of the term "athe-ist".
"In the end, the fact of the matter is a person isn’t faced with the necessity of only being either an atheist or an agnostic."
Austin is definitely using the wrong definition of "fact", along with his other definitions.

Austin has problems with a number of definitions. Like many a-theists, he can't keep straight the convoluted mess they have created. 
"Weak atheism, also sometimes referred to as implicit atheism, is simply another name for the broadest and most general conception of atheism: the absence of belief in any gods."
 No, that's not implicit atheism, Austin. George H Smith came up with the terms implicit and explicit atheism. An implicit atheist is someone who has never even heard the claim, and can't possibly form a belief. This would be babies, and any adults who have never heard of gods.

Weak atheism comes from George's two forms of explicit atheists, those who have heard the claim, but don't believe gods exist. In it's weaker form, that's the extent of it. In it's stronger form, explicit atheism denies the existence of gods. Austin seems to be under the false impression that all explicit atheism is strong atheism.
"Strong atheism, also sometimes referred to as explicit atheism, goes one step further and involves denying the existence of at least one god, usually multiple gods, and sometimes the possible existence of any gods at all."
He also has the strange notion that strong atheism can be called gnostic atheism. While strong atheists are sometimes gnostic atheists, strong atheism should not be equated to gnostic atheism.
"Strong atheism is sometimes called “gnostic atheism” because people who take this position often incorporate knowledge claims into it — that is to say, they claim to know in some fashion that certain gods or indeed all gods do not or cannot exist."
Yes, the gnostic atheist incorporates knowledge claims. Yes, a gnostic atheist is a strong atheist. No, not all strong atheists are gnostic atheists, and the terms aren't interchangeable.
"This narrower conception of atheism is often thought by many (erroneously) to represent the entirety of atheism itself."
It is not erroneous to use a different definition of atheism. It's still valid. What is erroneous is pretending there is one, and only one, definition.
"What this means is that all atheists are weak atheists. The difference, then, between weak and strong atheism is not that some people belong to one instead of the other, but rather that some people belong to one in addition to the other. All atheists are weak atheists because all atheists, by definition, lack belief in the existence of gods. Some atheists, however, are also strong atheists because they take the extra step of denying the existence of at least some gods."
That's a whole lot of nonsense. If we're to use the broad a-theism definition then, yes, both are a-theists, but the qualifying labels are added to describe their final position. Strong a-theists are not also weak a-theists. That would defeat the purpose of the qualifying words. Now we'll have to say this person is a weak weak a-theist, and this person is a strong weak a-theist.
"Thus, while all atheists are weak atheists, pretty much all atheists are also strong atheists with respect to at least some gods."
Which is a silly way to label yourself. As I state in "GODS", "ALIENS", and "MULTI-VERSES", I would never label myself an anti-alienist because I believe Superman is fictional. I would only label myself regarding the bare bones "alien" concept.

Austin seems to have no clue what he's talking about, half the time.