It has been a long time since I last touched on this topic. In fact, I had intended to not ever touch on it again. I have grown bored of delving into irrelevant topics. A category that entails pretty much anything that has no impact on my (or anyone else’s) day to day life. The logic being, why concern yourself with altogether irrelevant topics and informationl when one can use their brain power for something more stimulating. I could say something more important, but who would I be kidding.
Having said that however, it seems that there is more that can be done with this term. First, because I had a person write a rebuttal to my piece (to which a friend of mine wrote a rebuttal to them. Both will be shared later). And also because there is chatter on this topic in different places online (mainly Reddit) that is worth exploring.
I’ll start with the rebuttal. Starting with a few comments on my previous posts, it was done in a publicly shared note on Facebook. The link to the note is below, and i’ll quote what is necessary.
I Am An Apistevist
In other words, I do not make decisions based on “Faith” (religious or any other version of blind faith).
However, some do present twisted arguments pointing to my alleged use of faith nonetheless.
Here is one argument from the site “The Thought Zone”:
“When it comes to a testing of the Apistevist philosophy, I don’t think there is any better an example to use then Air Travel (…). When you get on board a plane, the moment that airplane starts taxiing out to the runway, you have put your life in the hands of the pilots. For better or for worse, you’re largely out of control of your fate. (…) unless the plane is also being flown by a familiar pilot, your still basing the your accretion* on faith. Even if unknowingly.”
How misleading is that?
Not at all. I also don’t see myself “twisting” anything, but I will hear you out first.
Faith = Absolute certainty not needing empirical evidence—as opposed to “doubt” which is the contrary of Faith. In fact, most fundamentalist religions present the lack of Faith as punishable. Faith is not open to being corrected nor criticized. One does not have Faith with a healthy dose of skepticism! That’s absurd.
I would say that bringing up the rules and regulations of fundamentalist religion in a context that has nothing to do with fundamentalist religion is absurd, but again, I will hear you out.
So, when I go on a plane, although I have reasonable expectations that the flight will end well (relative trust), I still have enough doubt in me to know it could go wrong. In no way does that fit the usage of the word “Faith”.
The reason why I argue that EVERYONE comes across moments of faithfulness in life, is because few of us give any of these questions a second thought.
The food at the restaurant arrives, you eat it. You run a cup full of water (or crack open a water bottle), you drink it. You grab a can of recently purchased tuna from your pantry, and make lunch. You board the plane and do whatever people do on planes between point A and point B.
Most do not weigh the risks of consuming from the plate in front of them, the water in their hand, or that can of tuna. And most people do not ask “Am I on the next Air France 447?!” whilst they sit at the gate. And for good reason. Such a life would be crippling. Nevermind just being limited by a fear of air travel . . . try getting something to sustain yourself at the supermarket.
Unless there is a reason to make us give this normally invisible dynamic of life any thought (for example, drinking water in a place like Flint MI, or a knowing of a recent recall on canned tuna as you open one), we do not give it a second thought. In this sense, faith does not really strike me as a bad thing, or a negative. It’s just like any other unavoidable constant in life . . . It just is.
What is absurd to me, is this aversion (often seen in many non-theists) to ANY concept that can even be distantly connected to religiosity in any way. In this context, it is the concept of faith. Another that comes to mind is Atheism as a religion .
When understood in context, there is no reason for either concept to be incompatible with an Atheist or other Non-theist stance. Despite this however, I often see such individuals use copious amounts of mental gymnastics to keep from in any way touching something they perceive as being purely irrational.
When I fly I am an apistevist. I do not use Faith in any way—I still mainly use doubt and skepticism with a healthy dose of reasonable expectation—enough to know the odds are in favor of the trip ending well, while not being 100% sure it will. —That is not even close to ressembling faith. It’s called “Reasonable Expectation”, supported by track records and empirical evidence. —Simply said, it’s Reason.
All I see is another performance of mental gymnastics caused by me forcing you to think about the concept. Capped off with an intellectual buzzword. Such buzzwords are often utilized by those that apparently fail to deduct that a true embodiment of the words would never have to use them. It would be obvious.
I do appreciate the reply, however. Even if it all ends up being pointless in the end. And yes, accretion (assertion) was a typo.
I will now present my friends rebuttal to you. If it seems like he is talking down to you from a point of intellectual superiority . . . Your hunch is correct.
Regard this bumbling fool who bears no faith – not in God, not in anything at all – who makes no motions for he doubts that his legs might break his fall. This Adonis is not moved by any vision, for he doubts his eyes; he is not moved by any calls, for he doubts his ears; he is not moved by any pains, for he doubts his skin. What can we make of this lord? He can make nothing: he cannot think for he doubts even his doubt! Is this our lesson, that we must bear some faith, that we need only dig so far to bury our foundations?
The faithless contend this absurdity. “We must keep digging!” they call out, as if they are under threat from the sun itself. Soon they shall suffocate, for they have taken a risk to alleviate another. For all choice involves risk. All belief or matter of fact is uncertain and our faithful commitment to the proposition puts us too at risk. Yet to fail to commit, to fail to bear some faith, is too a risk. While those who are not so intellectual that we might build with our hands a system of knowledge begin to scrap together bricks and mortar, the truly faithless lose themselves in tunnels where they seek to pour their concrete if only they can find an end to their digging.
Do not take this lightly. Faith is easily subverted. Motivated digging – the kind involving map and compass – might rightly undermine any great system of faith. No castle is so mighty that it cannot be defeated without firing a single arrow or heaving a battering ram. Even so, the deeper the foundation, the less likely subversion becomes. Faith in the Adonai is blown away as if by the wind, but faith in one’s own legs takes an army of shovels to subvert, and each small chunk broken forcefully from the earth takes effort.
This is where those “intellectual” atheists demonstrate their rashness, parading their apistevist peacock tails and beating their chests. They claim to never stop digging, to truly doubt all that can be doubted. They demonstrate how intellectual they become when they claim to have spotted Earth’s molten underbelly after having heaved only two spades. Yet these apistevists are no fools. They do not in fact doubt their legs, their skin, their ears, or their eyes. They only rest their rhetorical hyperboles on such notions proclaiming to fawning women and envious men that they are so virtuous, so strong and determined that if they were to want, they could dig and dig and never stop. But what is more compelling is that in their ignorance, they believe that they already have! They stand upon loose clay and declare that they have hit bedrock!
So, you self-proclaimed faithless, I doubt that you only doubt. You walk upon the face of the Earth as does anyone else. You are the evidence that faith and doubt are partners, that you can only build upon a dug foundation. Cease your rhetoric; no longer pit partner against partner with fanciful falsehoods that faith commits to certitude or that doubt is all-encompassing. You yourself undermine your claim and betray your paralysed Adonis.
Anyone with the inclination to respond to the author of this rebuttal can reach him on Twitter HERE .
And now, will move on to Reddit.
Some might say the core of the massive digital universe that is online intellectual conversation. But to the platform’s credit, the other voices tend to be far more visible on its services than anywhere else. On this topic (Apistevism), and any other.
This first post, I’ll admit, is such low hanging fruit that it is almost cheating. However, it highlights the quite ubiquitous problem within the secular debate community that is a lack of respect for how some choose to identify and align. The following excerpts are sourced HERE.
you are seriously citing a man who probably would have qualified as an apistevist, as an authority on why apistevism is incoherant?
you might as well cite carl sagan to show that atheism in incoherant.
This was also quoted in the comment area of the OP’s rebuttal (by the OP) along with the following quote from Bertrand Russell (for context).
Either the thing is true, or it isn’t. If it is true, you should believe it, and if it isn’t, you shouldn’t. And if you can’t find out whether it’s true or whether it isn’t, you should suspend judgment.
But you can’t… it seems to me a fundamental dishonesty and a fundamental treachery to intellectual integrity to hold a belief because you think it’s useful, and not because you think it’s true.
Somewhat amusingly, this phenomenon is even present in OPs comment area, directed at himself (though he seems to not care). Someone telling him that he is just as much of an Atheist as NDT. NDT being Neil Degrasse Tyson, self identified agnostic but forcibly labeled atheist (wherever they have a hand in the information flow, anyway).
The OP’s response doesn’t really surprise me however, being that the OP engages in the very same behavior towards Bertrand Russell.
Rather than rebuttaling people individually, I will try to craft responses towards arguments generally. It’s easier this way, since many of these things are embraced by so many.
1.) When it comes to identifying Apistevism as being incoherent, I personally do not need to point to any authority. I’ve written about the term 3 different times (4 now), and only discovered Russell now. As such, I would be careful before assuming that the quotes usage was as appeal to authority.
It’s possible to come to your own conclusions, but adapt your technique to the environment you are in. Though the secular community at large tends to think themselves freethinkers, I have found them far more authority and ideology driven than they often care to admit.
As such, the quote may be less of an appeal to authority and more of a tool to try and connect to the audience at hand.
2.) I have said it before, and I will say it again . . . this disrespect of how people choose to identify is both unnecessary and utterly ridiculous. I have even argued it as intolerant.
I understand the root of this train of thought. At least in the United States, the atheist cohort tends to be looked upon even less favorably than the scummiest of the scum within society (think pedophiles, rapists, and the like). Indeed, Atheism has an image problem. But the answer to that is not, and has never been, even secular segregation.
A lacking of even a basic teaching of philosophy in education systems world wide has resulted in millions of atheists viewing said philosophy as being the only logical conclusion. When combined with various mental behaviors unknowingly left behind by previous religious beliefs, the results can be . . . Interesting. Altering that paradigm is close to impossible. Which is why I don’t even try to do it anymore. Having said that however, the problems facing us as a species are very real. Something that many Atheists recognize, as there is a movement to build an Atheist voting block.
Which is where I come in and say, why does it have to be an explicitly Atheist voting block? Why not a Secular, Rational, Humanist, WHATEVER, voting block? Does the macro label REALLY matter that much?! I get that Atheism has an image problem. But that is small potatoes to the much larger problem that is LIFE ON EARTH! Like the rest of the left, the Atheist cohort quibbles over labels, whilst the religious right teams up and elects crooked Donald.
We know that there exists an untapped potential of MILLIONS of voters that self acknowledge outside the boundaries of religious belief, but that also do not self identify explicitly as Atheist. Rather than condescending to (and thus annoying!) these people by referring to them as “Atheists in denial” (and other forms of Intolerant behavior), why not put self interest aside and unite as one.
I say self interest, because the Atheist community does have a lot of resources tied into it. Indeed, there are millions that just identicy under the label. They are not who I am talking about.
What I am referencingl, are the many different types of Atheism specific (or oriented) organizations. Everything from political activism organizations, to online businesses like monetized YouTube channels, podcasts and merchandise distributers. I would not go as far as to saying that such economic reliance automatically eliminates impartiality. That said however, it’s hard not to take it into consideration.
3.) When it comes to the Russell quote, there may be more nuance than meets the eye.
From what I understand (as a layman talking to a philosophy scholar by trade), Russell had started off on a mission of sorts to categorize the world in rational terms. Which explains the very black and white quote perfectly (and also why it’s so appealing to both Atheists and Apistevists). However, it would seem that Russell ran into the obvious roadblock that is, you can’t necessarily so easily compartmentalize the world. So like any good scholar, he acknowledged this and moved on.
If this is an extreme oversimplification, feel free to let me know below.
I think I have about picked that bone clean. Thus I will move on to another, sourced from the same reddit thread.
This one amuses me in its convenient usage of definitions. Dare I say, another common technique of the type of intellectual opposition were dealing with.
This habit of playing fast and lose with definitions isn’t new. Many within the Nu-Atheism movement define Atheism as “A lack of belief in a God or God’s”. This is not only a new twist to the former “Denial of the existence of a God or God’s” definition, but also a definition that does not stand up to even basic scrutiny. I have explored this myself HERE , and im sure I’m not the only one.
Then there is the Atheism as a religion thing. Many Atheists (when fighting this notion) exclude a part of that definition out of convenience. Or maybe, inconvenience.
And here, we have fast and lose usage of the definition of faith. Though the paper “The Problems Of Philosophy” is supposed to entail all forms of unjustified belief, the Apistevist argues that such a critique is invalid due to their selective interpretation of the definition of faith. One would think it to be transparent that misuse of a term does not legitimize a philosophy. But apparently not.
One person in the thread (just after this exchange) argues that my method of argumentation is not really effective, due to the 2 sides having at least 2 working definitions of the same word. I can’t grant this however, because even if side B argues on the basis of this alternative definition of a word, that definition is still incorrect. It’s not a problem of ambiguity in translation. It’s a problem of “That is inconvenient to my argument . . .Drop that part!”.
Such semantics (if not flat out sophistry) would not be tolerated coming from a theist in favor of their stance of choice. I like to think that I am just holding EVERYONE to the same standard.
Moving on, we come to this excerpt, again from the same reddit thread. In response to the inquiry “How is this different than Agnostic Atheist?”
an agnostic atheist can believe in homeopathy, ghosts, crystal healing, and all other kinds of magical woo, just not a god.
an apistevist couldn’t
My critique of this is solely based on my annoyance of useless labels.
In this regard, I am certainly more militant than most. I do not affix to myself, really any labels anymore. They (to me) represent the ultimate form of conformity, and the single biggest hurdle to our very civilization. Yes, this is why I take atheist intolerance so seriously. Because it is, in a sense, literally a life or death struggle. These days, in seeing the terror of the left (and in all honesty, almost everyone) after the recent election, one could almost be prone to concluding that it’s to late. But whether or not that is an overstatement, by and large, lesson NOT learned.
A lesson that has come to me with the passage of time, is that people love boxes. Preformed and prefabricated, little assembly (or in this case, critical examination) necessary. Labels make life easier.
Some may feel that I am assuming that all whom embrace labels are purely ideologically driven atomotons. Indeed, that is a generalization worth calling out. But I make the claim on solid ground. I do not just passively observe the many different movements and interactions of group’s online, but also in the real world. It interests me. Looking for patterns and trying to figure out what makes groups tick.
Rather than a contrarian, I prefer to be a fly on the wall. From an intellectual perspective, the “fly on the wall” approach is helpful for approaching any number of topics. First off, because emotion is out of the question. And 2ed, because I feel no ties, loyalty, or really any connection to any entity or ideology.
I used to have various flair that I wore with pride (so want to see that movie now!).
Agnostic Atheist, Liberal (or these days, Classical Liberal), progressive, pro choice, Metis and who knows how many more. I used to carry them around like the rest of the commons, mostly for the same reason as them (a feeling of obligated nesessity). But the more I begun to grow intellectually (one could say that I was a late bloomer), the more tight fitting that these labels became. Until the time came when I realized that growth would not be found in fighting to conform, it would be found in throwing out the moulds. It’s this vantage point that also enlightened me to the risk of these labels. Though regarded as a necessity for ease of discussion, in ALL areas of discussion, these labels are more often than not just barriers. Chatter happens, but everyone has a side. Those that don’t, are typically assigned one.
But though I caution against the practice of over-flairing, I don’t bother people just about where they visibly align themselves. It’s a choice.
Having said all of THAT however, is it REALLY necessary to add flair that tells people that your not prone to pseudo science?
Though many questions come to mind when I hear or see “I am an atheist”, one of them has never been “I wonder if *Atheist* believes in karma, or acupuncture, or Feng Shui?”. This seems more something to be taken care of on a whack-a-mole basis. Not to mention that I’m sure that even Apistevists have some leftovers that are embedded deep enough to be as of yet, undiscovered. An example from myself, was using the term “touch wood” without thinking in conversation (sometime ago). Practically as soon as it was out, my rational self said “Wait a minute!”.
And thus concludes my 4th (and presumably, final) installment on the term and philosophy that is Apistevism (along witn a few other things).