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← What on Earth is a Possibilian?

What on Earth is a Possibilian? - Comments

helena!'s Avatar Comment 1 by helena!

Oh brother!

It's really just atheism but he's trying to create an identity separate that he can call his own. Now he is unique and special ha. Atheists are indeed open to possibilities but evidence is a requirement. It appears that to this guy atheism is too certain in their positions (it's called facts and evidence) but he is another who misunderstands. What else is new!

Eagleman has emphasized that possibilianism reflects the scientific temperament of creativity and tolerance for multiple ideas.

No different from what Richard explains all the time in his books. Science already is the poetry of reality.

I think I will start my own new belief too based on my profound artistic and creative mind - must copyright it asap - Imaginaritism

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:30:57 UTC | #526866

Sciros's Avatar Comment 2 by Sciros

Calling yourself a 'Possibilian" is a convenient way of broadcasting to people that even though you aren't religious, you're still a fucking idiot. So I have no problem with the term.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:36:11 UTC | #526868

Stevehill's Avatar Comment 3 by Stevehill

Sounds like some species from one of the Startrek movies. Make ready the photon torpedoes Mr Scott!

Eagleman of the New Scientist piece is the only name in the Wikipedia piece, so he probably wrote that too. I guess he's really, really pleased with himself for coming up with a synonym for agnosticism which makes him look really clever and different, and wants us all to think so too.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:43:48 UTC | #526869

helena!'s Avatar Comment 4 by helena!

@Comment 2 by Sciros

Haha i agree with you.

More honest names for this would be fuckingidiotism or wishywashyism

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:46:04 UTC | #526872

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 5 by AtheistEgbert

Damn agnostics and their fence-sitting ways.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:52:31 UTC | #526874

DamianIcely's Avatar Comment 6 by DamianIcely

You're right Egleman made it up. When I posted this I didn't really look at the wiki page and so hadn't noticed that. I just made sure there was one and this guy hadn't just made it up.

I also searched for the term on richarddawkins.net and got hit in the comments section. Just checked that hit:

[There is a] burgeoning movement of "possibilians"-- nonbelievers who

allow for the possibility of an immortal soul. Possibilianism sprouted unbidden when author and neuroscientist David Eagleman mentioned his views about the possibility of an afterlife in an NPR radio interview earlier this year. "I was stunned after that NPR talk. By the time I got back home to my desk, I had all these e-mails from people saying, 'I think that's what I am, too!'," Eagleman told The Dallas Morning News.

Eagleman coining a word doesn’t make for a movement, however many people notice it describes themselves. RD is a 6, not a 7, on the Dawkins scale re:god. He is presumably the same with an afterlife too, which would qualify him as a possibilian. He even acknowledges there could be fairies; it is part of his criticism of such vague words as possibility, which cover any probably from 0 to 1 exclusive (or even inclusive, since some infinitely improbable events are technically possible). More straw men.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 20:59:38 UTC | #526879

DamianIcely's Avatar Comment 7 by DamianIcely

Why is it all these fence sitters are always so keen to self publicise? I guess they have to because they have nothing real to bring to the table.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 21:00:43 UTC | #526880

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 8 by strangebrew

More like a theist with no self confidence.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 21:18:48 UTC | #526888

locutus7's Avatar Comment 9 by locutus7

I'm a probabilian: I see reality in terms of probabilities. And there is most probably no god.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 21:30:19 UTC | #526890

Anaximander's Avatar Comment 10 by Anaximander

Does it really have any meaning at all?

Possibly.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 22:12:06 UTC | #526899

DamianIcely's Avatar Comment 11 by DamianIcely

lolololololololololololol. lol. no seriously lol

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 22:23:35 UTC | #526903

Neodarwinian's Avatar Comment 12 by Neodarwinian

Yawn.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 22:59:14 UTC | #526913

bage.hot's Avatar Comment 13 by bage.hot

Pretty weak tea. Since I can't obtain falsifiable data that refutes the existence of inter-dimensional gnomes in my oatmeal, I have to accept the possibility of their existence. The notion that since humans will likely never complete their knowledge of the natural world, we must concede a 'possibility space' where all manner of absurd, infantile ideas keep a place next to secularism is ludicrous.The scientific revolution has taken up maybe four of the thousand or so centuries that modern man has existed. Eagleman has simply gone to water.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:05:26 UTC | #526915

AtheistEgbert's Avatar Comment 14 by AtheistEgbert

God means nothing to me.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:25:43 UTC | #526918

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 15 by Rob Schneider

I think this is wrongly "tagged" with accommodationism, as this guy takes a position identical to Richard Dawkins: 6.9 on the scale of 7, refusing to say a falsity: I can prove God doesn't exist.

I think what you've got here is another person trying to get over the baggage of the word "atheist." This guy is "trying" to break through one of the earliest and easiest "conversation enders" we encounter when talking with believers.

I mean, really... when even the non-believers write sentences like this...

When it comes to the big questions,why should we have to either deny God or believe?

or

So it seems we know too little to commit to strict atheism

...it is clear that there is little chance of dislodging the FALLACY that Strict Atheism = the ability to prove the negative; to deny God. People misuse the word, to our detriment.

I've tried reframing, coming up with "sanstheist" and still think re-framing away from the term "atheist" is a worthy goal. The term "atheist" is a millstone carved by the religious which was hung around the neck of non-believers since the Greeks. Every time we use it, the VAST majority of people in the world thinks it means we are making a faith statement of absolute certainty. We start by having to defend why we aren't that strawman.

So we either own "Atheist" and actively work to undo the incorrect interpretations every time someone utters the word or imputes a wrong meaning, or we find something else that works. "Possibilian" is not the worst I've heard. (that would be "Brights") ;-)

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:44:55 UTC | #526925

MillerHouse's Avatar Comment 16 by MillerHouse

I think that it's a great way of saying "I'm an atheist who have family members who would kill me for saying so." Admit it, once you entertain the idea of having no God or god not existing, you use your reason to get to the conclusion that he just doesn't exist. Maybe a possibilian is somebody who is on his or her way to becoming an atheist.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:47:13 UTC | #526926

Rob Schneider's Avatar Comment 17 by Rob Schneider

Note to those who call agnostics "fence sitters."

  1. Note how debating the terms divides what we know is a group with a common belief: There is no reason to approach any facet of life with the presumption of a God.

  2. "Strong Agnostics" (and I'm not making any technical definition here, in case that term has already been used) are effectively atheists that refuse to take on the fallacy mentioned in my previous post.

This is not fence sitting. This is being logically rigorous and NEVER claiming to be able to prove the negative... But still being 99.999999999% sure there is no God, and absolutely certain that nothing in life on this earth demands the hypothesis. (thank you LaPlace.)

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:51:37 UTC | #526927

AtheistArchaeologist's Avatar Comment 18 by AtheistArchaeologist

I understand why some people choose not to describe themselves as atheist despite actually being atheists. The label unfortunately invites argument which can be annoying if you are just trying to get on with your life without people constantly trying to debate with you. Not all of us are quite so willing to fight religion on the 'front lines' as it were.

Saying I am an atheist seems to get even barely religious people argumentative; and sometimes I just want to talk to people without getting into a debate on the subject. Unfortunately being an atheist apparently makes me an "arrogant and patronising know-it-all" to some people; whereas being agnostic apparently makes me "tolerant and open-minded".

Agnostics come in two forms: 'Lazy atheists' (don't follow a religion but can't be bothered to give reasons why they don't.) and 'conflict avoiders' (have resigned themselves to the back benches of secular society so that they can just get on with their lives).

Neither poses any real threat to society, but it would be nice if they would come out and help fight against the scourge of religion a bit more actively.

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:51:48 UTC | #526928

DamianIcely's Avatar Comment 19 by DamianIcely

Comment 15 by Robert Schneider aka BeyondBelief

I think this is wrongly "tagged" with accommodationism, as this guy takes a position identical to Richard Dawkins: 6.9 on the scale of 7, refusing to say a falsity: I KNOW there is no God.

Sorry. I was looking for agnostic. To be honest I was rather surprised that agnostic isn't available as a tag.

anyone know why?

Wed, 29 Sep 2010 23:53:59 UTC | #526930

Enlightenme..'s Avatar Comment 20 by Enlightenme..

Comment 9 by locutus7 :

I'm a probabilian: I see reality in terms of probabilities. And there is most probably no god.

Not good enough! I'm gonna have to be an Almostcertainlian now.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 05:11:21 UTC | #526976

Balance_Maintained's Avatar Comment 21 by Balance_Maintained

Comment 18 by AtheistArchaeologist :

Agnostics come in two forms: 'Lazy atheists' (don't follow a religion but can't be bothered to give reasons why they don't.) and 'conflict avoiders' (have resigned themselves to the back benches of secular society so that they can just get on with their lives).

Or maybe a third group that doesn't assume that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, and are thus rightly open to the possibility that a god in some form may in fact exist, but as there is no evidence in either direction, choose to remain neutral instead of pretending that they are certain about something which there can be no certainty of.

And, as I have mentioned before, if you do not want the negative association that come with being an atheist, try refraining from the pejoratives. In the end, it only reflects poorly on those using them, not their intended targets.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 05:27:23 UTC | #526977

AtheistArchaeologist's Avatar Comment 22 by AtheistArchaeologist

Comment 21 by Balance_Maintained :

Or maybe a third group that doesn't assume that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, and are thus rightly open to the possibility that a god in some form may in fact exist, but as there is no evidence in either direction, choose to remain neutral instead of pretending that they are certain about something which there can be no certainty of.

Atheists ARE open to the 'idea' of god. We don't claim to prove a negative. We just won't accept anything without evidence.

That is the exact misconception that seems to lead people to declaring themselves agnostic.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 06:06:35 UTC | #526983

Zelig's Avatar Comment 23 by Zelig

I bet Peter Andre's a 'possibilian' too!

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 06:13:39 UTC | #526984

NickD's Avatar Comment 24 by NickD

Comment 15 by Robert Schneider aka BeyondBelief :

I think this is wrongly "tagged" with accommodationism, as this guy takes a position identical to Richard Dawkins: 6.9 on the scale of 7

I never could get my head around why RD chose 6.9 and not 6.99999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999999 (and then some) - seems to make a god rather too probable IMHO.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 06:16:00 UTC | #526986

Balance_Maintained's Avatar Comment 25 by Balance_Maintained

S: (n) atheist (someone who denies the existence of god)

Umm.. so yeah..I wonder where people could get the idea that atheist deny the existence of god without having evidence either way. I think that pretty much sums it up there..

Comment 22 by AtheistArchaeologist :

Comment 21 by Balance_Maintained :

Or maybe a third group that doesn't assume that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, and are thus rightly open to the possibility that a god in some form may in fact exist, but as there is no evidence in either direction, choose to remain neutral instead of pretending that they are certain about something which there can be no certainty of.

Atheists ARE open to the 'idea' of god. We don't claim to prove a negative. We just won't accept anything without evidence.

That is the exact misconception that seems to lead people to declaring themselves agnostic.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 06:25:50 UTC | #526988

GPWC's Avatar Comment 26 by GPWC

Comment 22 by AtheistArchaeologist :

Comment 21 by Balance_Maintained :

Or maybe a third group that doesn't assume that absence of evidence is evidence of absence, and are thus rightly open to the possibility that a god in some form may in fact exist, but as there is no evidence in either direction, choose to remain neutral instead of pretending that they are certain about something which there can be no certainty of.

Atheists ARE open to the 'idea' of god. We don't claim to prove a negative. We just won't accept anything without evidence.

That is the exact misconception that seems to lead people to declaring themselves agnostic.

Exactly, I describe myself as an atheist, but I accept evidence may appear to change my mind. Unfortunately the god-fearing apparantly believe with 100% certainty in the existance of god(s) so assume we must be 100% certain of their non-existance. Sigh. Maybe (as one of our posters here always does) we will have to add the handle - "I'm an atheist, but I could be wrong".

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 06:29:14 UTC | #526989

AtheistArchaeologist's Avatar Comment 27 by AtheistArchaeologist

Indeed. I deny the existence of invisible triple headed flying smurf unicorns from mars living in my eyeballs; but if someone makes a claim that there are such beings in my eyeballs, it is up to them to provide evidence before I change my stance.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 06:34:37 UTC | #526991

strangebrew's Avatar Comment 28 by strangebrew

Just a consideration of what agnostics are actually being agnostic about...

'A fucking genocidal, schizophrenic sky fairy with unresolved social issues'

Says it all..pity being the premise is lost in all the hand wringing 'all things to all men' let us not upset the religiotards, human rights, respect agenda apologetics for a juvenile fantasy with less evidence then the tooth fairy or 'Rudolph' on crack. Just how can you be an agnostic on that? At least the religio fans have severely stunted moralistic traits and imploded logic circuits! They cannot be expected to be coherent but as for the fence sitters... WTF?

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 08:40:41 UTC | #527014

TheRationalizer's Avatar Comment 29 by TheRationalizer

This article REALLY annoyed me, so much in fact that I have just written to the magazine to complain...

Your article about being a "possibillion" really annoyed me.

A two page article devoted to someone telling us that we shouldn't NOT believe in a creator God, that we should consider everything a possibility, utter rubbish.

Scientists do consider many things as a possibility. Importantly though they also assign a probability based on evidence. The author of this article is asking us not only to entertain the possibility of a creator god, but appealing to us to accept the probability of it.

Dawkins for example classifies himself as a 5 on an atheist scale of 1..6, because to say that you know there is no god is illogical, there is just no evidence suggesting that it is probable.

I find it bad enough that there are people willing to knock on my front door and try to convince me that Adam & Eve really existed. I do not want to see such rubbish in a science magazine, and certainly not in one I pay for.

Please, don't do it again.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 08:58:35 UTC | #527019

lilalindy's Avatar Comment 30 by lilalindy

"Our ignorance of the cosmos is too vast to commit to atheism ..."

Fence sitter.

BTW, have you seen the graphic of the Invisible Pink Unicorn on Wikipedia? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Invisible_Pink_Unicorn That is as far as faith should go in my view (you can download it into the Gimp and you can test how far your faith goes by: leaving it and believing it to be so; or, turning up the alpha channel to make sure). It is pink.

Thu, 30 Sep 2010 09:03:51 UTC | #527020