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Neil deGrasse Tyson—not an atheist, just doesn’t believe ...

 
SkepticX
 
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SkepticX
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11 April 2012 14:40
 
 
 
GAD
 
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GAD
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11 April 2012 14:54
 

It’s sad they have to play these games and claim agnosticism because, although gods are clearly human inventions, there is a 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000001% chance that there could accidentally be such entities.

 
 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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11 April 2012 15:09
 

Not surprised.

There is a lot of confusion about Agnostic vs Atheist out there.

Still have a lot of respect for him, and he’s totally an engaging and interesting speaker.

 
 
b00ger
 
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b00ger
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11 April 2012 15:11
 

Sad to see NdGT playing the agnostic game. If you don’t believe in a God or gods you are an atheist. Period. Just because the word has some negative connotations, some people feel the need to distance themselves from it. Even Dawkins admits he doesn’t know for sure (his 6.9 on a 7 point scale comment from The God Delusion). So does that make Dawkins an agnostic? No. If you deny the positive claim that there is a God, you are an atheist. Man up, NdGT!

 
 
SkepticX
 
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11 April 2012 16:52
 

Well, he wasn’t exactly unclear about explaining that he doesn’t have time for that kinda shite (i.e. he’s not interested or invested enough in the matter to devote much effort to it), and usage actually is a legitimate factor in word usages, which is what dictionary definitions really are. I disagree with Tyson’s position on the matter, but it seems it’s a purely semantic and arguably trivial disagreement. It’s also quite arguably not trivial at all (personally I think that position has more rhetorical and practical merit), but clearly to Tyson, for all his intents and purposes, it is, and that’s pretty hard to argue against ... I would argue.

 
 
EN
 
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EN
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12 April 2012 02:10
 

He is an interesting person. The whole theism/atheism thing is irrelevant to him. He’s a scientist. What’s wrong with him saying that? Why does he have to “pick a team”? He’s right about all the baggage that comes with labels. It really does prevent communication.

 
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12 April 2012 10:27
 
Ecurb Noselrub - 12 April 2012 12:10 AM

He is an interesting person. The whole theism/atheism thing is irrelevant to him. He’s a scientist. What’s wrong with him saying that? Why does he have to “pick a team”?

Absolutely ... in fact, when he’s briefly distracted by the commotion over here, we should encourage him to ignore us. He’s in a pretty unique position to make other important contributions.

 

Ecurb Noselrub - 12 April 2012 12:10 AM

He’s right about all the baggage that comes with labels. It really does prevent communication.

It doesn’t really prevent communication. There has to be communication going on, or at least the probability, to prevent it. Tyson’s take on labels is really just about the problem being openly exposed.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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07 May 2012 15:37
 

I respect that he has his views, but I wasn’t impressed. I wonder if he’s just trying not to be politically incorrect or religiously offensive. I detected an “I didn’t inhale” undertone to his declaration. Although he’d rather not identify with any labels, he did choose agnostic for which he seems to be totally familiar, thus agreeing and identifying with it. I think he mischaracterized the distinctions and certainly does not seem to be interested in the socio-political ramifications of religious belief, assuming he was speaking as a person and not strictly as a scientist although it seemed the other way around. I didn’t care for the lame and canned anecdotal reference to the unnecessity of the term [I didn’t agree with Harris either]. The question is, how much expectation does leaving the question open provide for scientific inquiry into it? Also, what does it say of the weight of accumulated scientific knowledge to date? My question is, at what lengths are we willing to go to perpetuate the foundation of religious belief despite the scientific data that piles up relegating it to the brain and no indication yet that discoveries of the universe point to a superconscious deity? As an Atheist, I’m not really interested in laying claim to him, only that theists don’t.

 
 
Allbrook
 
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07 May 2012 20:11
 

I think it makes a lot of sense that Neil wants to avoid association with the term Atheism.  I think he has a lot to offer in terms of inspiration and the public understanding of science that might not have the same impact with many people if he embraced the label.  In this sense I feel he did the right thing here, although he definitely IS an atheist as I understand the term.  In addition, some of his lines of reasoning break down when scrutinized.  For instance (and I hear this all the time) he said it is weird that we even have the term atheism, as we don’t hardly ever use terms like non-doctor, or non-astrologist.  But…we WOULD use those terms if a significant majority of those surrounding us were doctors/astrologists.  Words seem to evolve and survive based on their utility, which obviously varies and changes with culture, geography, and so on.  SO…I think it makes perfect sense that the word atheism exists, and I think Neil is in fact an atheist (although not self described), and I also think his range of impact is increased because of this.  /endrant

 
Allbrook
 
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07 May 2012 20:23
 

Also…as I understand it, Gnosticism/Agnosticism covers different intellectual ground than Theism/Atheism.  Gnosticism/Agnosticism deals with what people can/cannot know about the nature of reality innately.  While Theism/Atheism deals with whether one believes in a “God” (which for purposes of discussion I usually define as a conscious, all knowing, all powerful creator of our universe taking an interest in our every day lives).  Therefor one can be a Gnostic Theist, or a Gnostic Atheist.  On the other side you could be an Agnostic Theist, or an Agnostic Atheist.  I’m sure you all have seen the diagram no?  Is this incorrect?  Or does Neil just simply not care enough about this to draw these distinctions?

http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/atheist_chart.gif

 
eudemonia
 
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08 May 2012 12:44
 

Really it makes little difference in practicality. An Agnostic thinks we cannot prove or know, and an Atheist does not believe there is. Either way, these people live their lives the same way.

Neither are religiostupidified and that is the main point in all of this.

 
 
GAD
 
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08 May 2012 15:08
 
Allbrook - 07 May 2012 06:23 PM

Also…as I understand it, Gnosticism/Agnosticism covers different intellectual ground than Theism/Atheism.  Gnosticism/Agnosticism deals with what people can/cannot know about the nature of reality innately.  While Theism/Atheism deals with whether one believes in a “God” (which for purposes of discussion I usually define as a conscious, all knowing, all powerful creator of our universe taking an interest in our every day lives).  Therefor one can be a Gnostic Theist, or a Gnostic Atheist.  On the other side you could be an Agnostic Theist, or an Agnostic Atheist.  I’m sure you all have seen the diagram no?  Is this incorrect?  Or does Neil just simply not care enough about this to draw these distinctions?

http://scienceblogs.com/evolvingthoughts/atheist_chart.gif

Yeah, that’s pretty much crap and really more about diluting the issues as opposed to answering them.

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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08 May 2012 21:45
 
Allbrook - 07 May 2012 06:23 PM

Also…as I understand it, Gnosticism/Agnosticism covers different intellectual ground than Theism/Atheism.  Gnosticism/Agnosticism deals with what people can/cannot know about the nature of reality innately.

You made an astute assessment in your previous post, Allbrook. However, I agree with GAD on the muddying that these terms can provide. That’s a lot of twists and turns for a scientist especially to be going through, I think, anyhow. It’s the antithesis of science. It’s not godisms that provide verifiable knowledge about the nature of reality, it’s science (ie, gnostics/agnostics don’t determine nor advise what people can/cannot know, science does). If a scientist gets all wrapped-up in a pretzel over this ... I guess I’ll have to talk to them.

 
 
MrRon
 
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08 May 2012 22:26
 

Come on… his job is to ponder the Universe for crying out loud!! Of course he has time, and does, think about Gods (or lack thereof)! And the golf/skiing analogy doesn’t hold water. Humanity hasn’t rallied around, worshipped, or waged wars, for millenia in the name of any sporting activities. God belief has some very real (and potentially devastating) consequences in the world. 

That being said, NDGT is one of my favorite scientists/lecturers.


Ron

 
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09 May 2012 01:14
 
Answerer - 08 May 2012 07:45 PM

You made an astute assessment in your previous post, Allbrook. However, I agree with GAD on the muddying that these terms can provide. That’s a lot of twists and turns for a scientist especially to be going through, I think, anyhow. It’s the antithesis of science. It’s not godisms that provide verifiable knowledge about the nature of reality, it’s science (ie, gnostics/agnostics don’t determine nor advise what people can/cannot know, science does). If a scientist gets all wrapped-up in a pretzel over this ... I guess I’ll have to talk to them.


Are you suggesting NdGT is getting “all wrapped up in a pretzel” over agnosticism vs. atheism?

 
 
Jezuz_Alrighty
 
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09 May 2012 03:20
 

Tyson’s job is to lobby congress for NASA and sell books. He seems to me, to be the Newt Gingrich of science. Ohh. He runs a planetarium from time to time also. I have seen him make a good point from time to time and he actually does seem like a smart guy. Sadly, whatever intellectual prowess he may posses ,always takes a back seat to his self promotion and ego. It’s a tough job to appear awesome and be an atheist i guess. No problem calling out Pluto and saying “deal with it” and “get over it”  to people who disagree with him on that point.

With our top popular scientists being the likes of Tyson, Micheo Kaku and Brian Green, its no wonder most Americans think the Earth is 6000 years old and that the theory of evolution is just a theory. When even scientists, prefer their own bottom line over the truth, we have a grave problem. All the more reason to hold the likes of Carl Sagan and Bill Nye in high regard. Sagan held the torch of truth and reason high in his hand, ready to pass it to the next generation of leading scientific spokesmen and cutting edge educators and they have let it fall to the ground.

 
 
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