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Negative atheism or Positive Atheism?

joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods', while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'

What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two? Which of the two positions are wrong?
Graincruncher
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5/31/2013 5:28:27 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Neither is necessarily wrong, as they're compatible propositions. Generally speaking, I think negative atheism is broad (there is no evidence of any god, therefore I lack belief) and positive atheism is specific (a particular god does not exist, based on logical analysis of terms).

For example, I am a negative atheist in general because there is no evidence for the existence of any god. Evidence could appear, in which case I would have reason to believe in whatever that evidence pointed towards, but until then I lack belief. However, I'm also a positive atheist when it comes to (for example) the Abrahamic god, because I believe there are various logical inconsistencies to the internal framing of such a god.
joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 5:34:04 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 5:28:27 AM, Graincruncher wrote:
Neither is necessarily wrong, as they're compatible propositions. Generally speaking, I think negative atheism is broad (there is no evidence of any god, therefore I lack belief) and positive atheism is specific (a particular god does not exist, based on logical analysis of terms).


For example, I am a negative atheist in general because there is no evidence for the existence of any god. Evidence could appear, in which case I would have reason to believe in whatever that evidence pointed towards, but until then I lack belief. However, I'm also a positive atheist when it comes to (for example) the Abrahamic god, because I believe there are various logical inconsistencies to the internal framing of such a god.

What are the inconsistencies intrinsic to the concept of the Abrahamic God?
Graincruncher
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5/31/2013 5:43:11 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Far too lengthy for me to go into at the moment, as I'm at work and as soon as I finish I'm moving house. However, I shall try and get back and give a proper answer some time next week. Essentially there are some problems with terms like 'omniscient' that make them logically nonsensical, particularly when you start trying to combine them together.
drafterman
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5/31/2013 7:17:01 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods', while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'

What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two? Which of the two positions are wrong?

They're both right. And, in fact, everyone is, to some degree, a negative atheist.

I'm a positive atheist depending on some gods (like any god actually articulated by man) but negative regarding the concept in general, since that includes concepts that are currently beyond my ability to conceive. If I can't conceive it, then I can't form a positive belief against it.

But these kinds of details are best left unexplored, since most theists (and some atheists) can't even wrap their heads around the fact that there are different kinds of atheism, let alone them being applicable to the same people at the same time.
joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 8:11:59 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 7:17:01 AM, drafterman wrote:
At 5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods', while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'

What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two? Which of the two positions are wrong?

They're both right. And, in fact, everyone is, to some degree, a negative atheist.

I'm a positive atheist depending on some gods (like any god actually articulated by man) but negative regarding the concept in general, since that includes concepts that are currently beyond my ability to conceive. If I can't conceive it, then I can't form a positive belief against it.

But these kinds of details are best left unexplored, since most theists (and some atheists) can't even wrap their heads around the fact that there are different kinds of atheism, let alone them being applicable to the same people at the same time.

I think these details need to be explored so that one can analyse what somebody else's position is. Otherwise "atheism" can mean anything. Jews were called atheists by the Babylonians, Christians were called atheists by the Romans and Muslims were called atheists by the Christians.

Do you reject concepts based on your inability to fully comprehend them?
Graincruncher
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5/31/2013 8:21:34 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
Not fully understanding something =/= not having enough information to begin to understand something. As you stated you're ignostic, I'd have thought that would be an idea you're familiar with.
drafterman
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5/31/2013 8:24:50 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 8:11:59 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
At 5/31/2013 7:17:01 AM, drafterman wrote:
At 5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods', while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'

What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two? Which of the two positions are wrong?

They're both right. And, in fact, everyone is, to some degree, a negative atheist.

I'm a positive atheist depending on some gods (like any god actually articulated by man) but negative regarding the concept in general, since that includes concepts that are currently beyond my ability to conceive. If I can't conceive it, then I can't form a positive belief against it.

But these kinds of details are best left unexplored, since most theists (and some atheists) can't even wrap their heads around the fact that there are different kinds of atheism, let alone them being applicable to the same people at the same time.

I think these details need to be explored so that one can analyse what somebody else's position is. Otherwise "atheism" can mean anything. Jews were called atheists by the Babylonians, Christians were called atheists by the Romans and Muslims were called atheists by the Christians.

Do you reject concepts based on your inability to fully comprehend them?

No. That's my point. I can't reject or accept concepts I can't comprehend.
joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 8:27:32 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 8:21:34 AM, Graincruncher wrote:
Not fully understanding something =/= not having enough information to begin to understand something. As you stated you're ignostic, I'd have thought that would be an idea you're familiar with.

I'm very familiar with not affirming something because you don't understand it. But is that grounds to reject as false it for that reason?
joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 8:42:12 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 8:38:35 AM, Graincruncher wrote:
No, but it is grounds to say there's no point in even trying to think about it.

I hope this doesn't some across the wrong way but why discuss it on the internet then?
Graincruncher
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5/31/2013 8:46:27 AM
Posted: 3 years ago
You would have to ask the people who claim to have divine knowledge and spend what seems to be every waking moment calling other people stupid for not believing the same thing. From my perspective, anyone who I can help unpick themselves out of that sort of intellectual knot is a person less likely to indirectly support racists, sexists, homophobes and tyrannical control structures.

So I suppose you could say that what I discuss are the mental processes surrounding such beliefs, not the beliefs themselves. Most certainly not the object of those beliefs.
joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 4:27:03 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 8:46:27 AM, Graincruncher wrote:
You would have to ask the people who claim to have divine knowledge and spend what seems to be every waking moment calling other people stupid for not believing the same thing. From my perspective, anyone who I can help unpick themselves out of that sort of intellectual knot is a person less likely to indirectly support racists, sexists, homophobes and tyrannical control structures.

So I suppose you could say that what I discuss are the mental processes surrounding such beliefs, not the beliefs themselves. Most certainly not the object of those beliefs.

What are the mental processes? Why don't these same phenomena affect non-thests?
bladerunner060
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5/31/2013 4:31:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:27:03 PM, joel.burgers wrote:
At 5/31/2013 8:46:27 AM, Graincruncher wrote:
You would have to ask the people who claim to have divine knowledge and spend what seems to be every waking moment calling other people stupid for not believing the same thing. From my perspective, anyone who I can help unpick themselves out of that sort of intellectual knot is a person less likely to indirectly support racists, sexists, homophobes and tyrannical control structures.

So I suppose you could say that what I discuss are the mental processes surrounding such beliefs, not the beliefs themselves. Most certainly not the object of those beliefs.

What are the mental processes? Why don't these same phenomena affect non-thests?

The don't necessarily not affect non-theists. However, to the skeptical atheist, they are the modern epitome of mental processes that should be gotten rid of.
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DakotaKrafick
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5/31/2013 4:38:05 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods', while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'

What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two? Which of the two positions are wrong?

If you are an ignostic with respect to any particular deity X, then you are also a negative atheist with respect to X. You certainly lack a belief in the existence of something which you find poorly described, or not described at all.
SovereignDream
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5/31/2013 4:50:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods', while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'

"Negative atheism," as I see it, is simply not logically distinguishable from agnosticism.


What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two? Which of the two positions are wrong?
joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 4:57:19 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:38:05 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
At 5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods', while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'

What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two? Which of the two positions are wrong?

If you are an ignostic with respect to any particular deity X, then you are also a negative atheist with respect to X. You certainly lack a belief in the existence of something which you find poorly described, or not described at all.

I'm Ignostic with respect to all deities. including Thor, Odin etc. That is I don't simply 'lack a belief', but I regard both theistic and atheistic positions as a little presumptuous.

So why do some 'lack a belief' and some affirm 'God does not exist'? And if the two terms are not mutually exclusive, then aren't those who postively deny the existence of any one god (usually Yahweh/Allah/Christ) taking on a burden of proof?
joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 4:59:18 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:31:18 PM, bladerunner060 wrote:
At 5/31/2013 4:27:03 PM, joel.burgers wrote:
At 5/31/2013 8:46:27 AM, Graincruncher wrote:
You would have to ask the people who claim to have divine knowledge and spend what seems to be every waking moment calling other people stupid for not believing the same thing. From my perspective, anyone who I can help unpick themselves out of that sort of intellectual knot is a person less likely to indirectly support racists, sexists, homophobes and tyrannical control structures.

So I suppose you could say that what I discuss are the mental processes surrounding such beliefs, not the beliefs themselves. Most certainly not the object of those beliefs.

What are the mental processes? Why don't these same phenomena affect non-thests?

The don't necessarily not affect non-theists. However, to the skeptical atheist, they are the modern epitome of mental processes that should be gotten rid of.

What are they? Why are they so bad? And how can you get rid of them?
DakotaKrafick
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5/31/2013 5:42:01 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:57:19 PM, joel.burgers wrote:
At 5/31/2013 4:38:05 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:
At 5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods', while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'

What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two? Which of the two positions are wrong?

If you are an ignostic with respect to any particular deity X, then you are also a negative atheist with respect to X. You certainly lack a belief in the existence of something which you find poorly described, or not described at all.

I'm Ignostic with respect to all deities. including Thor, Odin etc.

Not really relevant to what I said, but okay.

That is I don't simply 'lack a belief', but I regard both theistic and atheistic positions as a little presumptuous.

But you do lack any belief in their existences; thus, negative atheism. Ignosticism and negative atheism are not mutually exclusive.

So why do some 'lack a belief' and some affirm 'God does not exist'?

Because some believe gods don't exist, while others don't, obviously.

And if the two terms are not mutually exclusive, then aren't those who postively deny the existence of any one god (usually Yahweh/Allah/Christ) taking on a burden of proof?

If anyone would wish to persuade another the truth of some claim "Deity X does not exist" then they would naturally assume the appropriate burden of proof, yes.
joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 5:57:41 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 5:42:01 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:




But you do lack any belief in their existences; thus, negative atheism. Ignosticism and negative atheism are not mutually exclusive.

Negative atheism is far too broad then. This can lead to confusion when discussing with a theist. Terms must be clearly defined otherwise it's a headless chicken race.


Because some believe gods don't exist, while others don't, obviously.

My question is what are the criterion used to decide between the two?


If anyone would wish to persuade another the truth of some claim "Deity X does not exist" then they would naturally assume the appropriate burden of proof, yes.

Then don't the 'negative atheists' also have to explain why they don't hold to the 'positive' position with regards to any particular deity?
DakotaKrafick
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5/31/2013 6:39:54 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 5:57:41 PM, joel.burgers wrote:
At 5/31/2013 5:42:01 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:

But you do lack any belief in their existences; thus, negative atheism. Ignosticism and negative atheism are not mutually exclusive.

Negative atheism is far too broad then. This can lead to confusion when discussing with a theist. Terms must be clearly defined otherwise it's a headless chicken race.

Too broad for what purpose? I think the definition is perfectly fine; the only problem is everyone's misconceptions. When words are misunderstood by the listener or misrepresented by the speaker, discussion can be lost with anyone, not just theists. Learn the terminology of the thing you're discussing before discussing it and this problem will be avoided.

Because some believe gods don't exist, while others don't, obviously.

My question is what are the criterion used to decide between the two?

(1) Between which two? Between (i) someone who believes gods don't exist and (ii) someone who lacks such a belief? The thing that separates those two is the belief gods don't exist. I don't understand where your confusion is coming from.

(2) Criterion is singular; criteria is plural.

If anyone would wish to persuade another the truth of some claim "Deity X does not exist" then they would naturally assume the appropriate burden of proof, yes.

Then don't the 'negative atheists' also have to explain why they don't hold to the 'positive' position with regards to any particular deity?

If they want to convince others negative atheism is more rational than positive atheism, then sure. But the usual reason is that they've heard no good arguments for theists or positive atheists, and if they refute all arguments given by both those parties, then the only position remaining would be negative atheism.
joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 7:23:09 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 6:39:54 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:


Too broad for what purpose?

If I ask someone what their theological position is, and they say 'I'm an atheist.' They haven't really explained anything. They could be anything from a lukewarm Deist to a nihilistic anti-atheist.

I think the definition is perfectly fine; the only problem is everyone's misconceptions. When words are misunderstood by the listener or misrepresented by the speaker, discussion can be lost with anyone, not just theists. Learn the terminology of the thing you're discussing before discussing it and this problem will be avoided.

True, not just theists. I understand your terminology perfectly. The thing is that negative atheism is basically non-theism which encompasses a lot of schools of thought. Agnosticism (strong and weak), Ignosticism, Apatheism, Anti-theism, Trans-theism, Post-theism plus a few others.

Positive atheism is a much clearer and well defined position.

(1) Between which two? Between (i) someone who believes gods don't exist and (ii) someone who lacks such a belief? The thing that separates those two is the belief gods don't exist. I don't understand where your confusion is coming from.

I'm not confused about the definitions at all. I know what separates their beliefs. This has been repeated several times. I wish to know what are the arguments or evidence that have persuaded them to come to those different beliefs.


(2) Criterion is singular; criteria is plural.

Thanks for the grammatical correction.




If they want to convince others negative atheism is more rational than positive atheism, then sure. But the usual reason is that they've heard no good arguments for theists or positive atheists, and if they refute all arguments given by both those parties, then the only position remaining would be negative atheism.

Which can mean a variety of different things.
DakotaKrafick
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5/31/2013 7:30:30 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 7:23:09 PM, joel.burgers wrote:
At 5/31/2013 6:39:54 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:


Too broad for what purpose?

If I ask someone what their theological position is, and they say 'I'm an atheist.' They haven't really explained anything. They could be anything from a lukewarm Deist to a nihilistic anti-atheist.

That's true. If you need clarification, ask for it. No one label will tell you everything about a person.

I think the definition is perfectly fine; the only problem is everyone's misconceptions. When words are misunderstood by the listener or misrepresented by the speaker, discussion can be lost with anyone, not just theists. Learn the terminology of the thing you're discussing before discussing it and this problem will be avoided.

True, not just theists. I understand your terminology perfectly. The thing is that negative atheism is basically non-theism which encompasses a lot of schools of thought. Agnosticism (strong and weak), Ignosticism, Apatheism, Anti-theism, Trans-theism, Post-theism plus a few others.

Atheism in general is basically non-theism, and yes, it does encompass many schools of thought.

Positive atheism is a much clearer and well defined position.

Okay.

(1) Between which two? Between (i) someone who believes gods don't exist and (ii) someone who lacks such a belief? The thing that separates those two is the belief gods don't exist. I don't understand where your confusion is coming from.

I'm not confused about the definitions at all. I know what separates their beliefs. This has been repeated several times. I wish to know what are the arguments or evidence that have persuaded them to come to those different beliefs.

Positive atheists are usually convinced by something like the problem of evil or the contradictory nature of multiple properties attributed to the same deity. Or they might think there is enough historical evidence to suggest deities are nothing but creations of the imagination.

(2) Criterion is singular; criteria is plural.

Thanks for the grammatical correction.

You're welcome.

If they want to convince others negative atheism is more rational than positive atheism, then sure. But the usual reason is that they've heard no good arguments for theists or positive atheists, and if they refute all arguments given by both those parties, then the only position remaining would be negative atheism.

Which can mean a variety of different things.

Such as...?
bladerunner060
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5/31/2013 7:31:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 7:23:09 PM, joel.burgers wrote:
At 5/31/2013 6:39:54 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:


Too broad for what purpose?

If I ask someone what their theological position is, and they say 'I'm an atheist.' They haven't really explained anything. They could be anything from a lukewarm Deist to a nihilistic anti-atheist.

I think the definition is perfectly fine; the only problem is everyone's misconceptions. When words are misunderstood by the listener or misrepresented by the speaker, discussion can be lost with anyone, not just theists. Learn the terminology of the thing you're discussing before discussing it and this problem will be avoided.

True, not just theists. I understand your terminology perfectly. The thing is that negative atheism is basically non-theism which encompasses a lot of schools of thought. Agnosticism (strong and weak), Ignosticism, Apatheism, Anti-theism, Trans-theism, Post-theism plus a few others.

Positive atheism is a much clearer and well defined position.

What you're asking for, though, is for a broad term to not be broad any more.

If someone says they're a Christian, that puts them in the subset of Theists, but it doesn't answer what demonimation Christian they are...yet it's still a true statement. That Weak atheism encompasses multiple views isn't necessarily a bad thing, I don't think.


(1) Between which two? Between (i) someone who believes gods don't exist and (ii) someone who lacks such a belief? The thing that separates those two is the belief gods don't exist. I don't understand where your confusion is coming from.

I'm not confused about the definitions at all. I know what separates their beliefs. This has been repeated several times. I wish to know what are the arguments or evidence that have persuaded them to come to those different beliefs.


(2) Criterion is singular; criteria is plural.

Thanks for the grammatical correction.




If they want to convince others negative atheism is more rational than positive atheism, then sure. But the usual reason is that they've heard no good arguments for theists or positive atheists, and if they refute all arguments given by both those parties, then the only position remaining would be negative atheism.

Which can mean a variety of different things.
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joel.burgers
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5/31/2013 7:45:53 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 7:30:30 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:

Atheism in general is basically non-theism, and yes, it does encompass many schools of thought.


Positive atheists are usually convinced by something like the problem of evil or the contradictory nature of multiple properties attributed to the same deity. Or they might think there is enough historical evidence to suggest deities are nothing but creations of the imagination.

Are you a negative or a positive atheist?

...the only position remaining would be negative atheism.

Which can mean a variety of different things.

Such as...?

Agnosticism (strong/weak), Ignosticism, Post-theism, Trans-theism, Verificationism, Apatheism, Anti-theism etc
DakotaKrafick
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5/31/2013 7:49:28 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 7:45:53 PM, joel.burgers wrote:
At 5/31/2013 7:30:30 PM, DakotaKrafick wrote:

Atheism in general is basically non-theism, and yes, it does encompass many schools of thought.


Positive atheists are usually convinced by something like the problem of evil or the contradictory nature of multiple properties attributed to the same deity. Or they might think there is enough historical evidence to suggest deities are nothing but creations of the imagination.

Are you a negative or a positive atheist?

In general, negative.
wiploc
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5/31/2013 8:00:47 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested

That seems a contradiction. You are genuinely interested in, and asking questions about, something that you ignore?

in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods',

Not believing gods exist makes you an atheist, not a weak atheist. If you also don't believe that gods don't exist, then you are a weak atheist.

while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'

Sometimes it's just a matter of what you want to focus on. Bertrand Russel said it this way: To a technical audience, he'd call himself an agnostic (what we now call a weak atheist). The technical audience would understand that he didn't think Jehovah was more likely than Thor. To a lay audience, he would call himself an atheist (what we now call a strong atheist), so they would understand that he wasn't undecided or on the fence.

What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two?

If you believe that gods don't exist, you are a strong (or positive) atheist. Otherwise, so long as you aren't a theist, you are a weak (or negative) atheist.

Which of the two positions are wrong?

Neither.
StevenDixon
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5/31/2013 8:03:35 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:50:19 PM, SovereignDream wrote:
At 5/31/2013 4:49:32 AM, joel.burgers wrote:
I am an Ignostic and I am genuinely interested in why some atheists today subscribe to "Negative atheism" which they define as a 'lack of belief in any god or gods', while others subscribe to "Positive Atheism" which affirms the proposition that 'God does not exist.'


"Negative atheism," as I see it, is simply not logically distinguishable from agnosticism.



What do you feel is the demarcation line between the two? Which of the two positions are wrong?

This is because atheism deals with belief while gnosticism/agnosticism deals with knowledge.
StevenDixon
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5/31/2013 8:05:07 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
Strong atheism is gnostic atheism, weak atheism is agnostic atheism. There are few agnostic christians but they exist, most are gnostic in the sense they believe they have knowledge because of personal experience.
wiploc
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5/31/2013 8:06:16 PM
Posted: 3 years ago
At 5/31/2013 4:57:19 PM, joel.burgers wrote:
I regard both theistic and atheistic positions as a little presumptuous.

So why do some 'lack a belief' and some affirm 'God does not exist'?

Apparently, some weak atheists think the strong atheist position is "a little presumptuous."

... aren't those who postively deny the existence of any one god (usually Yahweh/Allah/Christ) taking on a burden of proof?

As much so as those who positively claim that the god exists.