The Warrant For My Disbelief
By Alan D Griffin
The only warrant my Atheism needs is the lack of sufficient justification that a god or gods exist.
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Evidence comes from the term evident.
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Evident: obvious to the senses or the mind.
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So if evident is what is obvious to the senses or the mind then evidence is what is provided which makes X obvious to the senses or the mind.
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Justification is about providing reasons or physical artifacts which is used in an attempt to convince or persuade others to accepting X, Y, Z is the case. This is what is typically meant by the term evidence.
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I draw a line in usage between Warrant and Justification.
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Warrant is about justification for one’s individual beliefs or conclusions. ( That which allows you to accept that x,y,z is the case yourself.)
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While, Justification is about attempting to convince or persuade others that X,Y,Z is the case.
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Perceptions of personal experiences could be the only warrant one needs to accept X,Y, Z but it is not Justification for X,Y,Z.
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So it seems the request for evidence is to request justification, a request to provide that which makes X, Y, Z obvious to the senses or the mind ( of others).
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Evidence lies beyond perceptions of experiences and is available to be discussed and scrutinized.
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The lack of evidence is not evidence of absence.
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The lack of evidence is only evidence of the lack of evidence.
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It seems it is the case that words have usages not inherent meaning. With that in the forefront of our minds let’s take a look at a few terms and their various usages, and meanings, which are significant in the definitions most commonly used in association with the terms/ labels referred to in the “Great Debate” Such as Theism, Atheism, Gnosticism, Agnosticism, and Ignosticism.
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Belief: A psychology stance associated with our perceptions of our experiences and the world around us.
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Belief: A commitment to act or a commitment to act as if X is the case.
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Belief: The state of mind in which a person thinks something to be the case regardless of emperical evidence to prove that something is the case with factual certainty.
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Belief: A mental state or attitudinal disposition towards the likelyhood of something being true.
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These are several definitions of the term belief, these meanings represent the most common usage of the term belief, not that they are the only meanings.
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Beliefs are held for a myriad of reasons some are rational, others are not.
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Some beliefs are strongly held with deep psychological and emotional ties.
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Some beliefs are not, they are held as a preliminary stance or held very superficially.
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We all hold beliefs, they are binary.
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We either believe X is the case or we do not believe X is the case.
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We do not suspend judgment psychologically we have psychological stances on every proposition that has been presented to us.
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We do not psychologically leave anything in “limbo”.
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Now rationally or in intellectual judgment of a proposition we are more than capable of suspending judgment.
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It is simply the case that we are hardwired to interpret sensory data and information about the world through patterns and categorization.
Our brains are constantly seeking patterns and categorizing information.
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This need to seek patterns and categorization is why we cannot suspend judgment psychologically speaking. We will lean one way or the other on every proposition we are given psychologically.
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We are not wired to suspend judgment psychologically we will fill in the blanks it may be a preliminary or superficial categorization but we will categorize it.
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There are some people which claim to suspend judgment psychologically, they have no mental state concerning the question or proposition. It seems this is done out of pretentiousness and the need to appear rationally superior or out of fear they will appear to be irrational. So the safe thing to do is claim to not have an opinion, to claim not to hold a belief even at the most superficial level, that they are a Tabla Rasa towards the question or proposition. But, as we know from human psychology the mind abhors a vacuum and we have extreme anxiety associated with the unknown. Since this is the case we will fill in the blank, we do lean one way or the other, belief is ultimately binary.
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Some beliefs are very superficial and you can be persuaded differently quite easily with only a bare minimum amount of justification provided to alter your psychological stance.
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Other beliefs are deeply held with strong emotional attachments which could also be a foundational belief in which many other beliefs are dependent or contingent upon. These beliefs need an enormous amount of justification to alter someone’s psychological stance away from such beliefs. There are also other psychological obstacles to overcome to alter these deep seeded beliefs such as the primacy effect, confirmation bias, and cognitive dissonance. These obstacles are extremely difficult to overcome and become near impossible if the belief in question is foundational for a person’s entire set of beliefs.
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It also seems that Doxastic Involuntarism is the case. It seems quite evident that we cannot simply choose what we believe. We cannot simply Will ourselves to believe anything. We simply believe what we find most reasonable to believe based on perceptions of experiences and the world, and warranted by our deeply held foundational beliefs many of which formed very early in life normally before the age of 5.
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“Although you’re wired to solve problems, you’re not wired to accurately define them. In the fight for survival, which determines your inherent characteristics, the ability to make a quick decision was more important than making an accurate one. You’re wired for speed and not precision. Imagine your ancient ancestor observing the rustling of the grass approaching him on the prehistoric Savannah. This was either a saber-toothed tiger or the wind blowing the tall grass. The ancestor who made a quick decision to run was the one who survived, passing this trait on to you, the one who stayed to determine the source of the rustling grass was more apt to be eaten by the tiger. His genes and aptitude for problem analysis, were taken out of the gene pool long before modern times. Speed of thought is in your genetic makeup. It served your ancestors well in life threatening problems, but now causes you to misdiagnose the not-so -life threatening problems you now face”
– David Kord Murray
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The common theme in these definitions of belief is that belief is internal and perceptions of the mind.
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This does not mean our beliefs are necessarily not warranted or justified.
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Knowledge: A Justified, True, BELIEF ( JTB)
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Knowledge: A Justified, BELIEF. (JB)
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Knowledge: A Reliably- produced, True, BELIEF. (RTB)
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There are other definitions of knowledge as well as various interpretations of the terms Justified, True, and Belief.
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It seems in most epistemological definitions of Knowledge, Belief is a component.
But, not simply belief, belief is internal and a psychological stance. It seems Knowledge must also be Justified or reliably- produced. There is additional criterion which must be met for something to be considered knowledge beyond merely believing.
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We believe what we find to be most rational or what we find most likely to be the case.
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The terms atheism and theism are simply labels of beliefs, psychology stances toward the question of God’s existence.
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Agnosticism, gnosticism, and ignosticism are labels of Epistemological positions towards the proposition “God exists.” with regards to if we can determine if the proposition is True or False, if we cannot determine if the proposition is True or False, or if the proposition is even coherent enough to make any kind of assessment at all.
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Knowledge is a Belief which is justified or reliably produced.. (if you hold that truth is a requirement for knowledge the justification must also be sufficient to conclude the belief is true.)
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The proposition “God exists” is a Knowledge Claim it is a statement of fact, not a question. The proposition is the same as stating God exists ( is true.)
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Since the proposition is about knowledge not merely belief there are a few epistemological positions one can take towards the proposition “God exists is true.”
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Let’s look at the etymology of the terms gnostic or gnosticism.
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The root word is gnost or gnosis which means to know, relating to knowledge,” especially mystical or esoteric knowledge of spiritual things, 1650s, from Greek gnostikos “knowing, good at knowing, able to discern.
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So gnostic or gnosticism is to know or the ability to know.
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The prefix “a” means not.
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So agnostic or agnosticism is to not know or not having the ability to know.
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Huxley and the coining of the term agnostic:
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The English biologist, T.H. Huxley said that he originally invented the word “Agnostic” to denote people who, like [himself], confess themselves to be hopelessly ignorant concerning a variety of matters, about which metaphysicians and theologians, both orthodox and heterodox, dogmatise with the utmost confidence. (1884).

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He was disputing the fact that metaphysicians and theologians were stating their beliefs as if they were knowledge. He was not upset at their beliefs per se but how they were presenting them to other as immutable or established fact.

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They were presenting their psychological stance as if it were justified to the extent to be taken as knowledge.

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Gnostic and agnostic are more than psychological stances but declarations of knowledge or lack of knowledge.
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Merely believing a proposition is true does not meet the necessary justification to determine epistemologically if the proposition is true.
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So there are a few epistemological positions one can take:
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One can conclude that their is sufficient justification to conclude that the proposition is true. ( gnostic)
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One can conclude their is sufficient justification to conclude that the proposition Is false. (gnostic)
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One can conclude their is not sufficient justification to conclude if the proposition is true nor false. (agnostic)
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Then there is another consideration concerning propositions in which a term in the proposition is so ambiguous or polysemantic that the proposition itself can be deemed incoherent.
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Theological noncognitivism is the position that religious language, specifically, words such as “sanctified”, “spirit:”, “God” etc. – are not cognitively meaningful.
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Ignosticism is the idea that the question of the existence of God is meaningless because the term god has no coherent and unambiguous definition.
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Ignostic or ignosticism is the epistemological position that the proposition is unanswerable not due to lack of justification but because the proposition itself is incoherent and meaningless.
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So there are four basic Epistemological positions towards the Proposition “God exists is true.” :
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It is justified or justifiable to conclude the proposition is true. ( gnostic)
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It is justified or justifiable to conclude the proposition is false.( gnostic)
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There is no justification or justifiablity to conclude if the proposition is true nor false. ( agnostic)
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The proposition is incoherent therefore concluding anything about the proposition is impossible. ( ignostic)
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It is the case terms have usages not meanings and you can use these terms as you wish as long as you clarify how you are using the term and the idea you are attempting to convey with such terms. I am simply pointing out that colloquially this is the primary uses of these terms and they have the most utility if used in the way I have set forth.
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It eliminates correlating atheists with rocks since do not hold psychological stances.
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It eliminates correlating theological non-cognitivism with atheism since atheism is a psychological stance not a response to the proposition which in the case of theological non- cognitivism that it is a non- proposition or the proposition is simply incoherent and without meaning.
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It eliminates the use of agnosticism to avoid answering the question of beliefs pertaining to the existence of God. Since agnosticism is an epistemological position not a psychological stance of what one believes.
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I am sure there are other ways using the terms in this way eliminates confusion and increases clarity but these are the ones that come to mind right away.
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As an atheist, I am also an ignostic.
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Ignostic because my initial response to the question “Does a God or Gods exist ?” Must be, “What do you mean or what are you referring to with the term God? “
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The term is so ambiguous that a particular definition and related attributes must be put forth for the question itself to have any meaning whatsoever.
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The term God is very ambiguous. The uses of this term incapsulates a whole host of ideas and attributes that are not consistent nor intrinsically attached to the term God in any meaningful way.
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I also cannot claim that no God/Gods exists only that all of the concepts of God/ Gods which I have been presented with lack the sufficient justification needed for thinking they exist. I don’t KNOW if a God or Gods exist or not.
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So I am agnostic, this is my Epistemological position towards the proposition “God exists.”
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All the Gods with proper names from whichever religion or mythology all lack sufficient justification to reasonably accept that they actually exist.
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The same is true of the Gods built on similes. There is not sufficient justification why God is like a, b, c rather than x,y, or z. There does not even seem to be a basis or foundation for making such comparisons. It seems this is also the case of statements such as “God is Love” or “God is Goodness” any more than there is sufficient justification for saying God is Hate or God is Evil.
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This is what is intended when you hear atheists say atheism is not a claim but a rejection of a claim.
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Now if someone associates the term God as the neighbor’s dog then I can find sufficient justification that this God exists. Or that God is merely an abstract concept, because it seem God is minimally an abstract concept, since we are able to have a discussion about a God or Gods. If God is just a substitute term for some scientific principle or principles then I can except those concepts of God as existing. Such as saying God is the singularity from which the universe expanded, or God is the law of physics, or God is Energy, etc.
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Atheism in common usage is the disbelief in God. Since the term God can be used for virtually anything or any concept it seems to me unreasonable to hold a general disbelief in a term which can be represented by any object, living thing, or concept.
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I don’t think that is what anyone is trying to communicate with the term or label of athiest or atheism.
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Atheism to me is not actually a disbelief in the existence of a God or Gods per se because first it would have to be clear on exactly what a God is before you could determine if it is sufficiently justified as existing or not.
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It is a disbelief in what people associate with the term, what attributes, qualities, and characteristics that are described as being embodied by the term God/ Gods which lacks any credible and sufficient justification.
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So does my disbelief in the Existence of God have sufficient justification to determine if The proposition “God exists” is false?
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No. I would say no it does not.
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But, it is sufficient warrant for my disbelief.
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