Atheism IS Irrational Belief

jeffreyalex
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Atheism IS Irrational Belief

Many of you hold that it is irrational to believe in God because there is no evidence. The premise clearly underlying that position is that it is irrational to take a position that is unsupported by evidence. The popular atheist books abound with this precise claim: there is no evidence; we shouldn’t believe it.

 

 

Here is a proposition: “God exists”.

 

Here is a position on that proposition: “The proposition ‘God exists’ is false”.

That position can be paraphrased—for example, as “God does not exist”.

 

There is no evidence for that position. So, if it is irrational to hold a position without evidence, it is irrational to hold that “God does not exist”.

 

P1) it is irrational to believe that a proposition is true without evidence.

P2) there is no evidence for the proposition “God does not exist”.

C)  it is irrational to believe that God does not exist.

 

 

Whatever response you may have, do not claim that atheism is really just a “lack of belief”. That is semantics, in the bad way.

 

I do not believe there is a God means I lack the belief that there is a God means I believe there is no God. Those are the same in the way that 3+5 is the same as 4 + 4. Those are beliefs in the same way as I do not believe there is a pomegranate on my desk is a belief—lack of belief would be if I never even thought about God or pomegranates to begin with. 

 

Let P be the proposition “God exists”. An atheist holds that ~P. That is a position with regard to P. It is a position unsupported by evidence. It is irrational.

 

 


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Just as an aside

jeffreyalex wrote:

Many of you hold that it is irrational to believe in God because there is no evidence. The premise clearly underlying that position is that it is irrational to take a position that is unsupported by evidence. The popular atheist books abound with this precise claim: there is no evidence; we shouldn’t believe it.

 

 

Here is a proposition: “God exists”.

 

Here is a position on that proposition: “The proposition ‘God exists’ is false”.

That position can be paraphrased—for example, as “God does not exist”.

 

There is no evidence for that position. So, if it is irrational to hold a position without evidence, it is irrational to hold that “God does not exist”.

 

P1) it is irrational to believe that a proposition is true without evidence.

P2) there is no evidence for the proposition “God does not exist”.

C)  it is irrational to believe that God does not exist.

 

 

Whatever response you may have, do not claim that atheism is really just a “lack of belief”. That is semantics, in the bad way.

 

I do not believe there is a God means I lack the belief that there is a God means I believe there is no God. Those are the same in the way that 3+5 is the same as 4 + 4. Those are beliefs in the same way as I do not believe there is a pomegranate on my desk is a belief—lack of belief would be if I never even thought about God or pomegranates to begin with. 

 

Let P be the proposition “God exists”. An atheist holds that ~P. That is a position with regard to P. It is a position unsupported by evidence. It is irrational.

 

 

 

I think the central premise you attempt is a strawman - "I do not believe there is a God means I lack the belief that there is a God means I believe there is no God."

I'd be surprised if too many of us would say "God does not exist". The only non-agnostic atheist we've had here was RedNef, if memory serves. Instead we would say there is insufficient reasonable evidence that a still undefined god exists. 

To say there is insufficient proof god does not exist is a similarly viable alternative to an agnostic atheist's position is an attempt to shift the proof burden as well as a flirt with a fallacious appeal to ignorance defined thus:

"fallacy based on the assumption that a statement must be true if it cannot be proved false." 

 

Further:

Definition of irrationality:

 

"Irrationality is cognition, thinking, talking or acting without inclusion of rationality. It is more specifically described as an action or opinion given through inadequate using reason , emotional distress, or cognitive deficiency. The term is used, usually pejoratively, to describe thinking and actions that are, or appear to be, less useful or more illogical than other more rational alternatives. [1][2]

Irrational behaviors of individuals include taking offense or becoming angry about a situation that has not yet occurred, expressing emotions exaggeratedly (such as crying hysterically), maintaining unrealistic expectations, engaging in irresponsible conduct such as problem intoxication, disorganization, or extravagance, and falling victim to confidence tricks. People with a mental illness like schizophrenia may exhibit irrational paranoia."

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irrationality

 

I would argue both theists and atheists can make perfectly rational cases for their positions. I think also the blur between less rational and irrational needs to be carefully considered in the context of this deliberately polarized debate. 

My older brother for instance, has a prodigious intellect and would argue with great application of logic, that I was less rational than he in saying I saw insufficient evidence for the existence of a creator god. 

Conversely, he believes jesus existed, miracled, died and was reborn in the manner proscribed in the NT yet refuses to accept the theory of evolution by environmental selection of procreative advantage, the most well-supported scientific theory of all time. 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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What

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

Many of you hold that it is irrational to believe in God because there is no evidence. 

 

is a god? If we are going to consider this in any logical way we need to establish a definition for the first premise. 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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You seem unwilling to understand . .

jeffreyalex wrote:

Many of you hold that it is irrational to believe in God because there is no evidence. n on that proposition:

That position can be paraphrased—for example, as “God does not exist”

 

  Please take a moment to reflect on something .. Apart from the debate by the way of a general understanding, (if you will)

   Because you seem to be unwilling to understand , isnt there some guilt in that ?

 

 

harleysportster wrote:

 Harleysportster once said, 'Christians and muslims do not believe in Sumerian gods, Phoenician gods, Mesopotamian gods, Stone Age gods, Hellenistic gods, or Incan , Mayan and Aztec gods, the only difference is, we take it one god further. Everyone is partially atheist to some degree. 

They usually look confused when you tell them that. 

These are of course, simple one liner comebacks"

 

  Brian37 made a comment :

Brian37 wrote:
For someone who claims to teach critical thought they totally missed the intent of the Blasphemy Challenge... I am sure this "teacher" has no problem questioning the myths of others. We merely reject one more myth than you do. Try understanding why you reject all other myths besides the one you hold and then you will understand why we do the "Blasphemy Challenge". It is basically telling people to stare at the shadows that frighten them until they realize they are just shadows. Myths are just myths and nothing to be frightened of.


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jeffreyalex wrote: Many of

jeffreyalex wrote:

Many of you hold that it is irrational to believe in God because there is no evidence. The premise clearly underlying that position is that it is irrational to take a position that is unsupported by evidence. The popular atheist books abound with this precise claim: there is no evidence; we shouldn’t believe it.

 

 

Here is a proposition: “God exists”.

 

Here is a position on that proposition: “The proposition ‘God exists’ is false”.

That position can be paraphrased—for example, as “God does not exist”.

 

There is no evidence for that position. So, if it is irrational to hold a position without evidence, it is irrational to hold that “God does not exist”.

 

P1) it is irrational to believe that a proposition is true without evidence.

P2) there is no evidence for the proposition “God does not exist”.

C)  it is irrational to believe that God does not exist.

 

 

Whatever response you may have, do not claim that atheism is really just a “lack of belief”. That is semantics, in the bad way.

 

I do not believe there is a God means I lack the belief that there is a God means I believe there is no God. Those are the same in the way that 3+5 is the same as 4 + 4. Those are beliefs in the same way as I do not believe there is a pomegranate on my desk is a belief—lack of belief would be if I never even thought about God or pomegranates to begin with. 

 

Let P be the proposition “God exists”. An atheist holds that ~P. That is a position with regard to P. It is a position unsupported by evidence. It is irrational.

While what you say may be true, I have to point out several things. 

1. I can say the same thing about the flying spaghetti monster, Russell's teapot (although with enough money one could potentially put in the homework on that one, I just doubt it would ever happen) or underpants gnomes. It does not make it any more likely that they exist if I were to posit that same argument. 

2. The only reasons people use such a stupid argument to support a belief in god, are their own (justified) insecurity in their own beliefs, the world-wide popularity of mono-theism (this many people can't be wrong) and, for members of the clergy, to help perpetuate said belief to further their agendas. 

The default position is, and always will be, non-belief. Children have imaginary friends that they grow out of, or fantasy characters (such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny), that they're eventually told are not real. God is the same thing, but it's the one that people hold on to for life. 

Theists - If your god is omnipotent, remember the following: He (or she) has the cure for cancer, but won't tell us what it is.


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As far as the OP goes

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

Let P be the proposition “God exists”. An atheist holds that ~P. That is a position with regard to P. It is a position unsupported by evidence. It is irrational.

 

 

I would say that there is no reliable evidence to assert that something with no definition or quality but human concept of mind, exists in a place with no definition and is asserted on the basis of no proof and without explanation of method, to have created a universe 13.6 billion years ago, then reappeared to create life 3.5 billion years ago, then returned to create multicellular life 1 billion years ago, & c using unknown conveyance and mechanism. 

However, I think I would be prepared to say that some unknown process existed before the expansion of the universe and led by unknown means to the expansion of the universe. I would not reify or anthropomorphise the nature of this process in any way. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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  Atheism is defined by

 

Atheism is defined by the OED as the disbelief or denial of the existence of God. It is defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as the denial of the existence of God. And that is the common meaning, as well—if someone says 'I'm an atheist', we understand that he does not believe there is a God. So to take the meaning of atheism as the claim that God does not exist is to respect the definition of the term 'atheism'. It is not a straw man.  

 

The word "irrational" is defined by the OED as unreasonable, contrary to reason, utterly illogical, or absurd.

I have seen, in my five days on this forum, numerous posts that amount to "belief in something without evidence is stupid" or "dumb" or "ignorant" or "idiotic".

 

(On the burden of proof: this is another strategy invoked endlessly by the new atheism, and one that fails to do its job. The “burden of proof” is not a matter of logic—it’s a technicality, a procedural thing, a historical thing (originating in classical Rome). In an argument, both sides present evidence for their positions on a proposition. In many debates—for example, Oxford-style debates—a proposition is given (say, “the internet is closing people’s minds&rdquoEye-wink, and a coin is tossed to determine who goes first. But this is all irrelevant, in a way. The claim is presented by many members on the forum, and in the popular books, as: the problem with belief is that there is no evidence, so it is irrational to believe. That’s setting up an evidentialist standard. The atheist side holds a position, a position which does not even necessarily have to be negatively phrased. For example, “there is no supernatural being” is easily rephrased as “the world and the whole universe and everything is wholly natural”. That is a claim, period. According to the evidentialist standard set up, it must be supported by evidence in order to be considered rational, period).

 


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danatemporary

danatemporary wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

Many of you hold that it is irrational to believe in God because there is no evidence. n on that proposition:

That position can be paraphrased—for example, as “God does not exist”

 

  Please take a moment to reflect on something .. Apart from the debate by the way of a general understanding, (if you will)

   Because you seem to be unwilling to understand , isnt there some guilt in that ?

 

 

harleysportster wrote:

 Harleysportster once said, 'Christians and muslims do not believe in Sumerian gods, Phoenician gods, Mesopotamian gods, Stone Age gods, Hellenistic gods, or Incan , Mayan and Aztec gods, the only difference is, we take it one god further. Everyone is partially atheist to some degree. 

They usually look confused when you tell them that. 

These are of course, simple one liner comebacks"

 

  Brian37 made a comment :

Brian37 wrote:
For someone who claims to teach critical thought they totally missed the intent of the Blasphemy Challenge... I am sure this "teacher" has no problem questioning the myths of others. We merely reject one more myth than you do. Try understanding why you reject all other myths besides the one you hold and then you will understand why we do the "Blasphemy Challenge". It is basically telling people to stare at the shadows that frighten them until they realize they are just shadows. Myths are just myths and nothing to be frightened of.

 

 

Those comments are exactly what Richard Dawkins has said in his book and in every single debate I've ever heard him participate in. Despite the fact that they have no bearing on this thread, as far as I can see, I will point out that there is a massive difference between a God, and a God with 12,000 ad hoc characteristics randomly assigned to it. Let me use an analogy: if I come back to find my watermelon was eaten, it is one thing for me to say "someone might've eaten my watermelon" and a totally different thing for me to say "someone ate my watermelon and his name was zeus and he threw bolts and he wore a tunic and lived on a mountain and etc..


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Jabberwocky

Jabberwocky wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

Many of you hold that it is irrational to believe in God because there is no evidence. The premise clearly underlying that position is that it is irrational to take a position that is unsupported by evidence. The popular atheist books abound with this precise claim: there is no evidence; we shouldn’t believe it.

 

 

Here is a proposition: “God exists”.

 

Here is a position on that proposition: “The proposition ‘God exists’ is false”.

That position can be paraphrased—for example, as “God does not exist”.

 

There is no evidence for that position. So, if it is irrational to hold a position without evidence, it is irrational to hold that “God does not exist”.

 

P1) it is irrational to believe that a proposition is true without evidence.

P2) there is no evidence for the proposition “God does not exist”.

C)  it is irrational to believe that God does not exist.

 

 

Whatever response you may have, do not claim that atheism is really just a “lack of belief”. That is semantics, in the bad way.

 

I do not believe there is a God means I lack the belief that there is a God means I believe there is no God. Those are the same in the way that 3+5 is the same as 4 + 4. Those are beliefs in the same way as I do not believe there is a pomegranate on my desk is a belief—lack of belief would be if I never even thought about God or pomegranates to begin with. 

 

Let P be the proposition “God exists”. An atheist holds that ~P. That is a position with regard to P. It is a position unsupported by evidence. It is irrational.

While what you say may be true, I have to point out several things. 

1. I can say the same thing about the flying spaghetti monster, Russell's teapot (although with enough money one could potentially put in the homework on that one, I just doubt it would ever happen) or underpants gnomes. It does not make it any more likely that they exist if I were to posit that same argument. 

2. The only reasons people use such a stupid argument to support a belief in god, are their own (justified) insecurity in their own beliefs, the world-wide popularity of mono-theism (this many people can't be wrong) and, for members of the clergy, to help perpetuate said belief to further their agendas. 

The default position is, and always will be, non-belief. Children have imaginary friends that they grow out of, or fantasy characters (such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny), that they're eventually told are not real. God is the same thing, but it's the one that people hold on to for life. 

I will respond to (1). (2) is a psychological observation and you're entitled to make those all you like. I will respond to the last part, though.

To respond to (1) I'd like to quote a part of an article from Philosophy Now. The article is titled Where's the Evidence, it's by Michael Antony:

To retain evidentialism in the absence of positive evidence for atheism, the New Atheists appear to need a principle which states that, in the absence of good evidence for theism, atheism is thereby evidentially supported. This may seem like magic, but a major theme of Norwood Hanson’s 1967 essay ‘What I Don’t Believe’, is, “When there is no good reason for thinking a [positive existence] claim to be true, that in itself is good reason for thinking the claim to be false.” Michael Scriven proposed a similar principle. So following Thomas Morris, I’ll call this the Hanson-Scriven Thesis, or ‘HST’. HST is a version of the idea that absence of evidence is evidence of absence.

Hanson defends HST in some of the ways we’ve already rejected. However, his rhetorically most effective defense involves pointing to things for which we have no good evidence – the Abominable Snowman, the Loch Ness Monster, Shangri-La, goblins – and which we also believe do not exist. His idea is that we believe these things don’t exist because we have no good evidence for them. However, he offers no argument for this latter claim. Presumably the examples are meant to just show that we reason in accordance with HST.

More recently the New Atheists have employed Hanson-like examples to defend atheism. We now hear of Zeus, the Tooth Fairy and the Flying Spaghetti Monster; then there is Bertrand Russell’s example of a china teapot orbiting the sun between Earth and Mars, too small to be detected by our telescopes. In spite of our being unable to disprove the existence of such a teapot, this doesn’t mean we must take its existence seriously. On the contrary, the rational attitude to adopt is that the teapot doesn’t exist. Russell’s point, according to Dawkins, “is that the burden of proof rests with the believers, not the non-believers” (The God Delusion).

To evaluate this example-based defense of HST, I want to distinguish two broad types of evidence. Let us call evidence for a proposition P which is usually insufficient on its own to persuade a disbeliever that P is true, weak evidence. Weak evidence, however, can accumulate to make a compelling case, and it can also support different or even incompatible propositions (think of facts in a criminal case which are cited in arguments for incompatible conclusions). By contrast, strong evidence comprises sufficient or compelling grounds for rational belief, or at least, powerful considerations which competing theories cannot account for. It’s strong evidence we’re after when we ask, “What is your evidence for that?”

This distinction is important because the “good reason” in HST must be understood as strong evidence if HST is to apply to the case of divine reality. That is because there is weak evidence for a divine reality – religious experience, the fine-tuning of physical laws and constants, the apparent contingency of the universe, etc. These and other points, although far from decisive, and although explicable in other ways, could conceivably be mentioned in a compelling argument for the existence of a divine being. Therefore, if HST is about the absence of weak evidence, one cannot infer from HST that no divine being exists. So for HST to stand a chance of applying in the atheist case, ‘good reason’ must be understood as something closer to strong evidence.

We can now see why HST is false. Consider the claim that earthworms have a primitive form of consciousness. There is little evidence for this, certainly no strong evidence. Nevertheless, many consciousness researchers believe it (with varying degrees of confidence). Or take the proposition that physical reality is much richer and more mysterious than our current physical theories represent. There is no strong evidence for this either, but it is believed by many (the astrophysicist Martin Rees, for one). Or consider string theory. Again, there is nothing that could properly be called strong evidence for it, yet many physicists believe it. Such examples could be multiplied. Yet if we were to take HST seriously, given that there’s no strong evidence for any of the above propositions, we would rationally have to conclude that the negations of the propositions are true: that earthworms are not conscious, that physics is not far from completion, and that string theory is false. But that is absurd! These negative conclusions can be believed – indeed, many people do believe them – but there is no reason to suppose that they must be believed.

It gets worse. For whenever the negations of propositions like those above can be rephrased as positive existence statements lacking strong evidence, HST will counsel us to believe contradictions. For example, the statement ‘earthworms are not conscious’ can be substituted with ‘the boundary between conscious and non-conscious creatures is above the level of earthworms’. Since there is no strong evidence for that, according to HST we should believe there is no such boundary – which means believing that earthworms are conscious! So, according to HST, to be rational we should believe that earthworms are both conscious and not. This is a reductio ad absurdum of HST.

It is now easy to see where Hanson and the New Atheists go wrong with their example-based defense of HST: they select examples that conform with HST and ignore cases of the sort just offered that conflict with it. Not only does this generate the false impression that HST is true, it suggests that religious belief, because it lacks strong evidence, must be judged to be just as ridiculous as the Tooth Fairy or goblins. But given that there are numerous non-ridiculous beliefs that lack strong evidence, it remains open that belief in a divine reality is more like those than like the ridiculous beliefs. Certainly neither Hanson nor the New Atheists have said anything to argue otherwise. Moreover, it is clear that they have no argument that religious belief is ‘ridiculous’: If they did, they would have no need to justify atheism without evidence – the argument would itself be the evidence. Here it may be objected that believers have no argument that religious belief is serious rather than silly either. That may be true, but it is irrelevant. My point is just that, in presenting ridiculous examples and ignoring non-ridiculous ones, Hanson and the New Atheists create the misleading impression that the silliness of religious belief is a result of their reasoning rather than an unsupported presupposition.

 

 

As I said, I'm skipping (2). But to reply to your claim that non-belief is the default position:

What do you even intend to say by that? That a position is a 'default' position does not mean neither that it's a true position nor a rational position. Furthermore, if I see a pineapple on a tree, what sense does it make to say that my default position is disbelief that there is a pineapple in the tree? Clearly, I see evidence for a pineapple in the tree (namely, the pineapple in the tree). Similarly, someone who sees evidence for a God in the experience of everyday life would have a default position of believing in God.


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In addition to the above

In addition to the above long post, this threads original argument is NOT in support of God's existence. That question can be tabled, here, to a large extent. This thread is to say that by the evidentiary standard the new atheism sets for rational belief, new atheism itself must be called irrational.


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

Let P be the proposition “God exists”. An atheist holds that ~P. That is a position with regard to P. It is a position unsupported by evidence. It is irrational.

 

 

I would say that there is no reliable evidence to assert that something with no definition or quality but human concept of mind, exists in a place with no definition and is asserted on the basis of no proof and without explanation of method, to have created a universe 13.6 billion years ago, then reappeared to create life 3.5 billion years ago, then returned to create multicellular life 1 billion years ago, & c using unknown conveyance and mechanism. 

However, I think I would be prepared to say that some unknown process existed before the expansion of the universe and led by unknown means to the expansion of the universe. I would not reify or anthropomorphise the nature of this process in any way. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We need to start a new thread to discuss the coherence of the concept of God, and what questions are legitimate to ask versus which simply beg the question. For the purposes of this thread, however, I would only suggest that when most of us deny the existence of God in a discussion, we are not thinking in terms of "the concept presents challenges with regard to coherence and conceptualization, etc". We simply understand by God a supreme intelligence which ordered and created the universe as we see it.


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We are not atheists

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

Atheism is defined by the OED as the disbelief or denial of the existence of God. It is defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as the denial of the existence of God. And that is the common meaning, as well—if someone says 'I'm an atheist', we understand that he does not believe there is a God. So to take the meaning of atheism as the claim that God does not exist is to respect the definition of the term 'atheism'. It is not a straw man.  

 

 

 

we are almost all agnostic atheists here, Jeff. 

Agnostic atheism, also called atheistic agnosticism, is a philosophical position that encompasses both atheism and agnosticism. Agnostic atheists are atheistic because they do not hold a belief in the existence of any deity and agnostic because they claim that the existence of a deity is either unknowable in principle or currently unknown in fact.

Bertrand Russell uses the example of the celestial teapot. He argues that although it is impossible to know that the teapot does not exist, most people would not believe in it. Therefore, one's view with respect to the teapot would be an agnostic "ateapotist", because while they don't believe in the existence of the teapot, they don't claim to know for certain.

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agnostic_atheism

 

If you showed me some proof, using the scientific method, that there was a god, then I would lean towards that possible truth until/unless further proof modified/replaced the hypothesis. 

This is the position I hold for all truth claims. It extends to truth claims about the existence of gods. 

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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This is another of those assertion bundles

 

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

We simply understand by God a supreme intelligence which ordered and created the universe as we see it.

 

that when unraveled don't contain any meaning. What is a 'supreme' intelligence? How can we understand this concept in any small way? How could this immaterial intelligence order or create anything material? So - our best definition is 'supreme' (an unmeasurable and subjective quality that if real human intellect could not fathom it).  And 'intelligence' - another word for which no general consensus has ever been reached, a label for a suite of human mental qualities which remain generally undefined and unmeasurable. And these and every other label applied to god are anthropomorphic. Father, lord, saviour, ruler, creator, intelligence. 

None of these words could accurately describe the nature of an immaterial 'being' paradoxically existing outside space/time yet having supreme anthropomorphic mental qualities and in-universe qualities of force. God is a one-word 'solution' to a problem the nature of which is irredeemably incomprehensible to us. That word has no meaning at all. As far as the OP goes, the nature, the character, the definition of god, cannot be proved using the scientific method that most of us would generally employ to establish what we could accept as being the most knowable truth.  

 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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Well, with regard to a

Well, with regard to a teapot, let me quote myself:

"Let me use an analogy: if I come back to find my watermelon was eaten, it is one thing for me to say "someone might've eaten my watermelon" and a totally different thing for me to say "someone ate my watermelon and his name was zeus and he threw bolts and he wore a tunic and lived on a mountain and etc.."

 

I've already made my view clear about the possibility of scientific evidence. Science observes matter and its relation to other matter. It often codifies those relations mathematically. Science proposes laws in terms of substances and their powers and liabilities. By definition, science cannot point directly to the existence of a thingy called God.

As far as evidence, do you think any of the arguments for God, carry even an iota of support for the idea that there exists a God?

If you feel there is even a shred of evidence, it could be argued that by the evidentialist standard you have at least more evidence for the existence of God than you have for the strong atheist claim that there is no God.


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Atheistextremist

Atheistextremist wrote:

 

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

We simply understand by God a supreme intelligence which ordered and created the universe as we see it.

 

that when unraveled don't contain any meaning. What is a 'supreme' intelligence? How can we understand this concept in any small way? How could this immaterial intelligence order or create anything material? So - our best definition is 'supreme' (an unmeasurable and subjective quality that if real human intellect could not fathom it).  And 'intelligence' - another word for which no general consensus has ever been reached, a label for a suite of human mental qualities which remain generally undefined and unmeasurable. And these and every other label applied to god are anthropomorphic. Father, lord, saviour, ruler, creator, intelligence. 

None of these words could accurately describe the nature of an immaterial 'being' paradoxically existing outside space/time yet having supreme anthropomorphic mental qualities and in-universe qualities of force. God is a one-word 'solution' to a problem the nature of which is irredeemably incomprehensible to us. That word has no meaning at all. As far as the OP goes, the nature, the character, the definition of god, cannot be proved using the scientific method that most of us would generally employ to establish what we could accept as being the most knowable truth.  

 

 

 

 

 

Like I said, let's start a new thread on what "God" could mean. I suppose I should start it since I definitely don't suspect that you want to go searching for a maximally coherent definition for "God". I'll read up on the literature available on JSTOR and hit up the library, and then I will write up what I've found in a new thread, and we can go from there.


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Jeff, I agree

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

I've already made my view clear about the possibility of scientific evidence. Science observes matter and its relation to other matter. It often codifies those relations mathematically. Science proposes laws in terms of substances and their powers and liabilities. By definition, science cannot point directly to the existence of a thingy called God.

 

As I've mentioned elsewhere, this is the point skeptical empiricists and their theist brethren simply talk past each other. We doubt everything, even when scientifically proven, the thing is not entirely cast in stone but waiting to be overturned by new evidence. There are no underlying truths we know of that are not conjectures of supersymmetry or singularity - hypotheses as yet unproven by multiple layers of data. This skepticism is our default. For the theist, the underlying truth is god. But given god concepts can't be defined or proved empirically, agnostic atheists are generally going to refuse to accept the possibility they exist in any meaningful way.   

 

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

As far as evidence, do you think any of the arguments for God, carry even an iota of support for the idea that there exists a God?

If you feel there is even a shred of evidence, it could be argued that by the evidentialist standard you have at least more evidence for the existence of God than you have for the strong atheist claim that there is no God.

 

No Jeff, I don't believe there is a shred of evidence for any of the human conceptions of a personal, mindful supreme intelligence existing immaterially outside space time. Such a creature is an anthropomorphic projection, it's wishful thinking.

There is evidence that this universe had an ignition or was subject to an oscillation, but beyond this ignition we cannot reliably say. 

 

 

 

"Experiments are the only means of knowledge at our disposal. The rest is poetry, imagination." Max Planck


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So we agree that it cannot

So we agree that it cannot be known whether or not a God exists, and that there can be no scientific evidence either way. In this, we're both agnostic.

Your answer to Is there a God? would be something along the lines of "I don't know and don't think it's possible to know, but I think that it happens to be the case that there is no God." Conversely, I would respond "Maybe there is maybe there isn't, but I don't think we could know".

Many people don't seem to like a "maybe, maybe not" answer, but honestly, my feelings regarding this are similar to if I were asked if there are 1 or 2 crumbs in a box (without being able to check, of course)—no flippin' idea.

 

 


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Jabberwocky wrote:The

Jabberwocky wrote:

The default position is, and always will be, non-belief. Children have imaginary friends that they grow out of, or fantasy characters (such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny), that they're eventually told are not real. God is the same thing, but it's the one that people hold on to for life. 

 

SANTA CLAUS ISN'T REAL?!??!?!?!?! (Just kidding!)

No, I think if a being manifested itself in public and demonstrated all the quality we assign God, all knowledge, all power, the ability to alter the laws of physics and such most rational people would, eventually, accept real proof that there was a God. I have never seen Atheism as the opposition to the idea that God exists but rather the opposition of people acting and thinking irrationally. If God put forth even the most minimal effort and revealed itself in some logical, indisputable form like, say showing up and actually miraculously healing people directly like it says a loving God would in every religious text ever written, or just explain to scientists how they started the universe, then I'm sure most Atheists would jump on the bandwagon with joyful abandonment. We just won't do so without reasonable proof.

I think deep down inside most humans -want- there to be more to life than biological function which ends when we die but not all of us are willing to embrace a desperate and irrational delusion to fulfill that core emotional need.   

Think of how stupid the average person is, and realize half of them are stupider than that. ~George Carlin.


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An absence of evidence is

An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

And the point of the original post was to say that if evidence is the criteria for rational belief, atheism itself is not a rational belief.

 

To people who believe in God, that belief is not irrational. For those people, they see evidence of God in their experience of the world and they face a choice:

either a) believe atheism is true (with 0 evidence), or believe b) there is a god (given whatever the evidence they have might be).


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Jeffrey

This, as I'm sure you know, is a very old argument and it rides on double-negatives and semantics. It's one of the last reaches of theism to hang on by a thread.

You said " they see evidence of God".  Imagination is not one of our senses that one can claim to have detected evidence with. That is irrational.  I personally have not detected a god with any of my senses. If I ever do I will be caught in a struggle between my new belief in god and the bars in a mental ward

"...but truth is a point of view, and so it is changeable. And to rule by fettering the mind through fear of punishment in another world is just as base as to use force." -Hypatia


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tonyjeffers wrote:This, as

tonyjeffers wrote:

This, as I'm sure you know, is a very old argument and it rides on double-negatives and semantics. It's one of the last reaches of theism to hang on by a thread.

You said " they see evidence of God".  Imagination is not one of our senses that one can claim to have detected evidence with. That is irrational.  I personally have not detected a god with any of my senses. If I ever do I will be caught in a struggle between my new belief in god and the bars in a mental ward

 

Tony, I'm not sure what you're referring to as an old argument. Are you here talking about my initial argument or my last post in which I suggest that believers find evidence for God in their experience of life?

I will assume you're talking about my last post because you quote it in your second line. Below are some examples of what could be taken as evidence.

 

1) A person observes that the physical universe exists and wonders how it began. He doesn't believe that something could come from nothing, and without a cause. So he reasons that the universe had a cause, and a cause is outside of what it causes. So he reasons that the cause was not itself physical.

 

2) A person observes his own mind, which appears to be something of a profoundly different sort than matter. He does not see how a mind like his could simply begin to exist and reasons that it has an underwriter, so to speak, a source beyond physical matter.

 

3) He observes that the universe is governed by mathematical laws. He can see no answer as to where such laws could come from or why they should exist as a brute fact whatsoever—the universe is rational. Further, he can note that the mathematical truths themselves are not physical objects at all, yet existence itself runs by them. On top of that, he has a mind which can perceive these truths which at once seem to be the most concrete and the most abstract truths conceivable.

 

4) He perceives a universe which is perfectly tuned in a way which allows for life and rational minds to exist. The universe's laws are such that the physical matter of the universe can come to life and then understand its own order. He concludes those conditions arose either by chance or design. Chance seems an incredibly improbable explanation, so he remains open to the possibility of design.

 

These four reasons taken together are sufficient evidence to suspect that the universe (and existence) may not be merely physical.


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jeffreyalex

jeffreyalex wrote:

tonyjeffers wrote:

This, as I'm sure you know, is a very old argument and it rides on double-negatives and semantics. It's one of the last reaches of theism to hang on by a thread.

You said " they see evidence of God".  Imagination is not one of our senses that one can claim to have detected evidence with. That is irrational.  I personally have not detected a god with any of my senses. If I ever do I will be caught in a struggle between my new belief in god and the bars in a mental ward

 

Tony, I'm not sure what you're referring to as an old argument. Are you here talking about my initial argument or my last post in which I suggest that believers find evidence for God in their experience of life?

I will assume you're talking about my last post because you quote it in your second line. Below are some examples of what could be taken as evidence.

 

1) A person observes that the physical universe exists and wonders how it began. He doesn't believe that something could come from nothing, and without a cause. So he reasons that the universe had a cause, and a cause is outside of what it causes. So he reasons that the cause was not itself physical.

 

2) A person observes his own mind, which appears to be something of a profoundly different sort than matter. He does not see how a mind like his could simply begin to exist and reasons that it has an underwriter, so to speak, a source beyond physical matter.

 

3) He observes that the universe is governed by mathematical laws. He can see no answer as to where such laws could come from or why they should exist as a brute fact whatsoever—the universe is rational. Further, he can note that the mathematical truths themselves are not physical objects at all, yet existence itself runs by them. On top of that, he has a mind which can perceive these truths which at once seem to be the most concrete and the most abstract truths conceivable.

 

4) He perceives a universe which is perfectly tuned in a way which allows for life and rational minds to exist. The universe's laws are such that the physical matter of the universe can come to life and then understand its own order. He concludes those conditions arose either by chance or design. Chance seems an incredibly improbable explanation, so he remains open to the possibility of design.

 

These four reasons taken together are sufficient evidence to suspect that the universe (and existence) may not be merely physical.

 

I was referring to both since your last post also referred to your original argument.

"An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."  I believe this would be called a paradox.  As I said before you are coming dangerously close to circular reasoning. 

I used to think somewhat close to you at one time.  My transition from christianity to atheism wasn't cut and dry.  I couldn't just let go that easily.

I thought if i can imagine something then it is possible. That's reasonable enough on it's own, but to take it a step further and say 'anyone claiming otherwise must prove the impossibility' is not reasonable. Do you see the circle here? Some would call this nonsense psycho-babble.

You do not need evidence of absence. It stands alone.

"...but truth is a point of view, and so it is changeable. And to rule by fettering the mind through fear of punishment in another world is just as base as to use force." -Hypatia


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It's far from a paradox.

It's far from a paradox. Just because I can't find evidence for something doesn't mean it's not there. Take an example from math, Fermat's Last Theorem—it turned out to be true, but we searched for the proof for 300 years.

 

There is no circle here.

I'm saying that atheism doesn't meet it's own evidentiary standard. That's absolutely true. Your argument is that atheism somehow escapes from having to meet that standard. If you want to clearly explain to me why the claim that 'the universe is wholly naturalistic' escapes the requirement for evidence, please do.


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jeffreyalex wrote:

I do not believe there is a God

means

I lack the belief that there is a God

means

I believe there is no God.

Those are the same in the way that 3+5 is the same as 4 + 4. Those are beliefs in the same way as

I do not believe there is a pomegranate on my desk

is a belief—lack of belief would be if I never even thought about God or pomegranates to begin with. 

 

The error is in calling the absence of physical evidence a belief.

One accepts an assertion based upon physical evidence. Physical evidence being that which has measurable properties. This is regardless of being clever enough to come up with a universal definition of those terms.

One does not accept an assertion for which there is no physical evidence. There is no physical evidence of any gods or god.

Therefore A theism as opposed to theism. It is not a belief it is not accepting as assertion without evidence.

Calling that a belief is a word game some believers indulge in. These believers are inevitably not only monotheists but have a specific god in mind.

These believers reject multiple gods for the same lack of physical evidence.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

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jeffreyalex wrote:
Atheism is defined by the OED as the disbelief or denial of the existence of God. It is defined by the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy as the denial of the existence of God. And that is the common meaning, as well—if someone says 'I'm an atheist', we understand that he does not believe there is a God. So to take the meaning of atheism as the claim that God does not exist is to respect the definition of the term 'atheism'. It is not a straw man.

The definitions are wrong. So what?

Here you have a reasonable sampling of atheists. You can ask them what they are. You cannot get out of the slip by informing us we are what dictionaries say we are whether we know it or not.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

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Polytheism must be justified. Monotheism is irrelevant.

jeffreyalex wrote:
We need to start a new thread to discuss the coherence of the concept of God, and what questions are legitimate to ask versus which simply beg the question.
 

Not correct. The first requirement is to established gods plural. All the reduction to a particular one is an entirely separate discussion unrelated to whether or not there are gods ruling every aspect of this reality. How many gods are involved in this effort is immaterial to the discussion.

The entire gods premise requires physical evidence, in god terms, manifestation. The postulate of gods involves all moving (in the old days moving=living) processes in the physical world. Thus gods for wind, seas, earthquakes and such.

If you wish to leap to gods without manifestations then you stipulate no physical evidence for their existence and ALL of your presentation must flow from zero evidence.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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jeffreyalex wrote:
As far as evidence, do you think any of the arguments for God, carry even an iota of support for the idea that there exists a God?

If you feel there is even a shred of evidence, it could be argued that by the evidentialist standard you have at least more evidence for the existence of God than you have for the strong atheist claim that there is no God.

Arguement over speculation is mental masturbation. There is productive debate over the interpretation of physical evidence.

The existence of a single god is derivative of many gods. The gods are attribution of human characteristics to the physical world. In the original form rain was physical evidence.

Retreating to zero physical evidence but some unknowable supreme godS leaves you with worthless argumentation as regardless of the argumentation nothing changes. In the form you are proposing gods or ants or rubber balls makes no difference whether or not they are the intelligences and creators.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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I'm calling a belief a

I'm calling a belief a belief. A belief is the acceptance that a proposition (statement) is true. This is a belief: "There are no pineapples". Similarly, this is a belief: "There is no God".

If you do not understand that those are both beliefs, just don't reply. If this isn't exceedingly clear to you, we are at a serious impasse, so let's call it a day.

 

The standard for rational belief which has been set is that there must be evidence. There is no evidence for the belief "There is no God".

 

You are begging the question by insisting that there be physical evidence. That is assuming that the claim "There is a God" is a claim for empirical science, it is not. It is a metaphysical claim. Similarly, note, that the truths of higher mathematics (which are not about physical things) are not supported by physical evidence.


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jeffreyalex wrote:
An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

No rational person accepts anything without evidence.

Perception is not evidence as certain mushrooms and drugs will demonstrate.

Belief is not evidence as so many mutually exclusive belief systems demonstrate.

However your statement is a well known refuge of believers trying to salvage their beliefs. It is a very old ruse not really worthy of the time I have given it.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

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I'm calling a belief a

I'm calling a belief a belief. A belief is the acceptance that a proposition (statement) is true. This is a belief: "There are no pineapples". Similarly, this is a belief: "There is no God".

If you do not understand that those are both beliefs, just don't reply. If this isn't exceedingly clear to you, we are at a serious impasse, so let's call it a day.

 

The standard for rational belief which has been set is that there must be evidence. There is no evidence for the belief "There is no God".

 

You are begging the question by insisting that there be physical evidence. That is assuming that the claim "There is a God" is a claim for empirical science, it is not. It is a metaphysical claim. Similarly, note, that the truths of higher mathematics (which are not about physical things) are not supported by physical evidence.

 

 

Also, I've met atheists, I've been an atheist. What nearly every single, almost with absolutely no exception, atheist has very loudly and proudly proclaimed is that he does not believe there is a God.

So instead of making points about how you don't fit the very common and universally accepted definition of the word you choose to describe yourself, why don't you just spell out your position. Sorry this sounds snappy, but really, c'mon. Do you believe there is a God? Do you believe there is no God? Do you admit you have no idea?


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We are not on the same page,

We are not on the same page, anymore.

You accept that there is no god without evidence, therefore, by your own understanding you are irrational. Further, I claim there is evidence for God.

 

Lastly, perception is not evidence? What are you even talking about now. Pray tell how you as an empiricist get ANY knowledge of the world if not through your senses of perception?

 

What you're doing is not philosophy or debate or reasoned dialogue. Also, I forgot that I was making a point to avoid you altogether for the profoundly moronic claim you feel the need to make about Israel, Jews, and Palestine. So I think this is where I'm done responding to you.


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jeffreyalex wrote:

1) A person observes that the physical universe exists and wonders how it began.

assumes it began

Quote:
He doesn't believe that something could come from nothing, and without a cause.

makes another baseless assumption

Quote:
So he reasons that the universe had a cause, and a cause is outside of what it causes. So he reasons that the cause was not itself physical.

another baseless assumption

So your "case" is a string of baseless assumptions. What do you imagine you are posting? Is there a humorous punchline coming?

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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Whether it began or not, its

Whether it began or not, its existence is a brute unexplained fact.

Something doesn't come from nothing is far from irrational drivel. Do you want to claim things do in fact come from nothing, and that that makes perfect sense to you?

No, an explanation can not be in the set of what is being explained. That is circular.

 

Good bye.


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jeffreyalex wrote:
The standard for rational belief which has been set is that there must be evidence. There is no evidence for the belief "There is no God".
Falsely stating atheism is a belief in a negative won't get you points with anyone but theists and the idiots who edited those dictionaries.


 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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jeffreyalex wrote:
I'm calling a belief a belief. A belief is the acceptance that a proposition (statement) is true. This is a belief: "There are no pineapples". Similarly, this is a belief: "There is no God".
As no one replying to you holds that as a belief who do you think your are replying to? If you want to beat a non-existent horse or god that is your business but here it is nothing but a waste of bandwidth.

 

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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jeffreyalex wrote:
We are not on the same page, anymore.

You accept that there is no god without evidence, therefore, by your own understanding you are irrational. Further, I claim there is evidence for God.

You are either not posting to my or you are lying about what I have posted.


Why do you continue?

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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"No rational person accepts

"No rational person accepts anything without evidence.

Perception is not evidence as certain mushrooms and drugs will demonstrate."

That was you.

 

You had the chance to clarify your view, I asked for you to do so. You didn't.

 

 


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jeffreyalex wrote:

"No rational person accepts anything without evidence.

Perception is not evidence as certain mushrooms and drugs will demonstrate."

That was you.

You had the chance to clarify your view, I asked for you to do so. You didn't.

Without quoting me I can only guess who are you posting to. It is not that hard to quote.

However I am at a loss as to what needs clarification.

Physical evidence must be repeatable and independently varifiable. That is what the term means. Non repeatable perception that cannot be independently verified is worthless.

For most of human history and for most humans today they claim to perceive many gods. You appear to reject that.

And my "perception" that you are saying you are not promoting belief in your chosen god is a ruse to promote that god is of course not evidence.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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jeffreyalex wrote:Whether it

jeffreyalex wrote:
Whether it began or not, its existence is a brute unexplained fact.

Assumptions beyond observations are nothing but assumptions. Most facts of reality are still unexplained. Inventing gods to fill the unexplained gaps is called the gods of the gaps.

Quote:
Something doesn't come from nothing is far from irrational drivel.

It is an unwarranted and voluntary assumption. What is assumed does not need an explanation. In this case making an assumption that admits only your one chosen god is called begging the question.

Quote:
Do you want to claim things do in fact come from nothing, and that that makes perfect sense to you?

What conceivably would making sense to me have to do with the nature of the universe? Who but an idiot would have the conceit to assume the universe must make sense to his perception of it?

Quote:
No, an explanation can not be in the set of what is being explained. That is circular.

Good bye.

You are phrasing your questions to deny the gods in favor of your particular chosen god without going through the steps to eliminate them. Argumentation is worthless. You are arguing from reasonableness and perception and that is nonsense.

You can't just jump into a discussion today with your god who is hiding. You have to start with that same god who has been in constant retreat in the face of scientific progress. You must deal with your god who has been driven from causing everything day to day like the weather to one that just sort of hides behind things in the deist sense only much, much more so as it did not even get things started in the deist sense.

Jumping in at this late date is just a god of the gaps argument, a long discredited approach as your god is in constant retreat and your faith is that there will never be a gap small enough into which it cannot fit. Experience is entire gaps disappear. The lightning rod was a powerful tool for atheism. It eliminated an entire area of god activity. It didn't leave even a little gap for your god to hide in.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

www.giwersworld.org/made-in-alexandria/index.html

www.giwersworld.org/00_files/zion-hit-points.phtml


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Lol, okay.

Lol, okay.


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I think that's not so much a

I think that's not so much a problem for atheism as it is for disbelief in general. People tend to reason in these ways and if you see no evidence for what has been proposed it's easy to accept the negation even though the lack of evidence doesn't remove the demand of evidentialism for evidence of the opposite.

When people say they believe something or not I think what they're expressing more is a degree of confidence that's proportional to the amount of evidence they think they have. In those terms I think less belief is more rational.

There's also the fact that our behavior and the way we conduct our lives must be informed by our beliefs and I wouldn't waste my life looking for evidence of no god.

There are twists of time and space, of vision and reality, which only a dreamer can divine
H.P. Lovecraft


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Gauche wrote:

I think that's not so much a problem for atheism as it is for disbelief in general. People tend to reason in these ways and if you see no evidence for what has been proposed it's easy to accept the negation even though the lack of evidence doesn't remove the demand of evidentialism for evidence of the opposite.

When people say they believe something or not I think what they're expressing more is a degree of confidence that's proportional to the amount of evidence they think they have. In those terms I think less belief is more rational.

There's also the fact that our behavior and the way we conduct our lives must be informed by our beliefs and I wouldn't waste my life looking for evidence of no god.

 

You really should not be playing with the common use of belief and the religious usage meaning faith. That is one of the games this theist mole is playing.

What is interesting is that one of him knows how to quote and the other does not and both of him have nothing better to do but spend their entire waking time online here.

 

Jews stole the land. The owners want it back. That is all anyone needs to know about Israel. That is all there is to know about Israel.

www.ussliberty.org

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It's an important

It's an important distinction obviously.


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jeffreyalex wrote:It's far

jeffreyalex wrote:

It's far from a paradox. Just because I can't find evidence for something doesn't mean it's not there. Take an example from math, Fermat's Last Theorem—it turned out to be true, but we searched for the proof for 300 years.

 

There is no circle here.

I'm saying that atheism doesn't meet it's own evidentiary standard. That's absolutely true. Your argument is that atheism somehow escapes from having to meet that standard. If you want to clearly explain to me why the claim that 'the universe is wholly naturalistic' escapes the requirement for evidence, please do.

Agnostic atheism does not escape from having to meet an evidentiary standard.  What it asks for is for the theist to abide by it. "You just need to have faith" is not part of that standard.

To borrow from AronRa, "If God sticks his hand in the physical world when he pulls it out it should be dripping with physics."

Now, if you believe in a God that doesn't intervene, you have no problem. If you have an interventionist God, you have an insurmountable problem when you exempt him from providing evidence.

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


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Gauche wrote:I think that's

Gauche wrote:

I think that's not so much a problem for atheism as it is for disbelief in general. People tend to reason in these ways and if you see no evidence for what has been proposed it's easy to accept the negation even though the lack of evidence doesn't remove the demand of evidentialism for evidence of the opposite.

When people say they believe something or not I think what they're expressing more is a degree of confidence that's proportional to the amount of evidence they think they have. In those terms I think less belief is more rational.

There's also the fact that our behavior and the way we conduct our lives must be informed by our beliefs and I wouldn't waste my life looking for evidence of no god.

Let me respond by copying something I posted in another thread. It contains an example of evidence for God, and also responds to the common point that if a positive position such as "God exists" provides no strong evidence, then the right thing to do, in all cases, is to hold the negation of that position.

For context, Ktulu mentioned worms and suggested that rationality was to some extent subjective. Here goes:

 

And I'm glad you brought up earthworms. I have a feeling that you might say, in response to my claim that atheism is irrational, that atheism escapes the requirement for evidence because the lack of strong evidence for deism makes atheism the default position.

First of all, let me digress an little bit. Like you said, it may well be subjective what constitutes "strong evidence". As an example, let me ask a rhetorical question to illustrate the subjectivity of evidence: is the fine-tuning of the universe evidence for God? Roger Penrose calculated that of the probability of the constants (I think he noted that there were 50 or so) of the universe being set in a manner that would allow for the chemistry of life were something like 1 out of 10^129. That was already within the similarly minute range of possible values that would enable a universe with low-entropy, one that didn't just instantly collapse on itself.

Let me do three things now. Let me put that in perspective. Let me address the Anthropic Principle that I foresee being thrown at me. And finally I'll come back to earthworms.

1) 10^129 is a colossal number. For comparison, note that the total number of elementary particles held to exist in the universe is only 10^80.

2) You may say, "Well, of course, we shouldn't be surprised though, because we should expect to find values conducive to life, since obviously we're living. If the values were different, we wouldn't be here to ask the question!".

    But imagine you are walked in front of a firing squad of a hundred men, and stood up against the wall. They are all pointing their guns at you. You hear the bangs go off, but you're still alive—they all missed. Of course, you should not be surprised to observe that you aren't dead. If you WERE dead, you wouldn't be observing anything, at all. Nonetheless, it seems you should, in fact, be very surprised that you're still alive.

You can disagree, but I detect that there is probably some kind of subjective analysis of the above argument for fine-tuning.

Finally 3) back to earthworms. It is true that many researchers hold that they are minimally conscious, but there is only very weak evidence for that belief. Given only weak evidence, we should ostensibly hold the negative position, that they are not conscious. We should not affirm the claim, given weak evidence, that they are conscious. So then take the claim "earthworms are not conscious". It can be paraphrased as 'the boundary between conscious and non-conscious creatures is above the level of earthworms’. However, there is no strong evidence for that claim, either. Facing a lack of strong evidence we should not affirm the positive, but instead take the default position: there is no such boundary, and earthworms are conscious. Clearly that is an absurd conclusion, not to mention a paradoxical one to the one that the principle of default positions gave us earlier. (This example is from Michael Antony's article in Philosophy Now, I don't want to take credit for it!).

 

 

So, Gauche (and Gadfly and the_brainless_mouse), I'd say that life is overwhelmed with evidence. I just think that often the atheist side blows off evidence that isn't of the rigor of a mathematical proof, as if it weren't evidence, at all—demanding that we twirl our wand, make diamonds fall from the sky, turn the oceans into cheese dip, and take them to the burning bush.

 


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jcgadfly wrote:jeffreyalex

jcgadfly wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

It's far from a paradox. Just because I can't find evidence for something doesn't mean it's not there. Take an example from math, Fermat's Last Theorem—it turned out to be true, but we searched for the proof for 300 years.

 

There is no circle here.

I'm saying that atheism doesn't meet it's own evidentiary standard. That's absolutely true. Your argument is that atheism somehow escapes from having to meet that standard. If you want to clearly explain to me why the claim that 'the universe is wholly naturalistic' escapes the requirement for evidence, please do.

Agnostic atheism does not escape from having to meet an evidentiary standard.  What it asks for is for the theist to abide by it. "You just need to have faith" is not part of that standard.

To borrow from AronRa, "If God sticks his hand in the physical world when he pulls it out it should be dripping with physics."

Now, if you believe in a God that doesn't intervene, you have no problem. If you have an interventionist God, you have an insurmountable problem when you exempt him from providing evidence.

 

I agree with you. Please read my above above post re evidence.

Now, I'm defending reasonable belief in a non-interventionist God, like you say. But I would not simply grant that God's hand should be dripping with physics if it were an interventionist God.


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jeffreyalex wrote:jcgadfly

jeffreyalex wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

It's far from a paradox. Just because I can't find evidence for something doesn't mean it's not there. Take an example from math, Fermat's Last Theorem—it turned out to be true, but we searched for the proof for 300 years.

 

There is no circle here.

I'm saying that atheism doesn't meet it's own evidentiary standard. That's absolutely true. Your argument is that atheism somehow escapes from having to meet that standard. If you want to clearly explain to me why the claim that 'the universe is wholly naturalistic' escapes the requirement for evidence, please do.

Agnostic atheism does not escape from having to meet an evidentiary standard.  What it asks for is for the theist to abide by it. "You just need to have faith" is not part of that standard.

To borrow from AronRa, "If God sticks his hand in the physical world when he pulls it out it should be dripping with physics."

Now, if you believe in a God that doesn't intervene, you have no problem. If you have an interventionist God, you have an insurmountable problem when you exempt him from providing evidence.

 

I agree with you. Please read my above above post re evidence.

Now, I'm defending reasonable belief in a non-interventionist God, like you say. But I would not simply grant that God's hand should be dripping with physics if it were an interventionist God.

OK, you have a non-interventionist God. Do you worship it because it doesn't do anything? 

"O God, thank you for leaving me alone"?

Are you saying that God can manipulate things in the physical word and intentionally leave no physical effects? Wouldn't that make him a deceit ful prat?

"I do this real moron thing, and it's called thinking. And apparently I'm not a very good American because I like to form my own opinions."
— George Carlin


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jcgadfly wrote:jeffreyalex

jcgadfly wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

jcgadfly wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

It's far from a paradox. Just because I can't find evidence for something doesn't mean it's not there. Take an example from math, Fermat's Last Theorem—it turned out to be true, but we searched for the proof for 300 years.

 

There is no circle here.

I'm saying that atheism doesn't meet it's own evidentiary standard. That's absolutely true. Your argument is that atheism somehow escapes from having to meet that standard. If you want to clearly explain to me why the claim that 'the universe is wholly naturalistic' escapes the requirement for evidence, please do.

Agnostic atheism does not escape from having to meet an evidentiary standard.  What it asks for is for the theist to abide by it. "You just need to have faith" is not part of that standard.

To borrow from AronRa, "If God sticks his hand in the physical world when he pulls it out it should be dripping with physics."

Now, if you believe in a God that doesn't intervene, you have no problem. If you have an interventionist God, you have an insurmountable problem when you exempt him from providing evidence.

 

I agree with you. Please read my above above post re evidence.

Now, I'm defending reasonable belief in a non-interventionist God, like you say. But I would not simply grant that God's hand should be dripping with physics if it were an interventionist God.

OK, you have a non-interventionist God. Do you worship it because it doesn't do anything? 

"O God, thank you for leaving me alone"?

Are you saying that God can manipulate things in the physical word and intentionally leave no physical effects? Wouldn't that make him a deceit ful prat?

Regarding your first question, I'll respond with a silly but, I hope, close analogy. Imagine someone gives you a home and provides food for you, but doesn't intervene in, say, your furniture arrangement, etc. This person has the ability to intervene, or to take it all away at any moment, but does not do so. Should I worship this person? I don't know and I suppose it depends on what you mean by "worship", but I would say it's at least appropriate to feel a deep gratitude and to offer thanks.

In response to your second question, imagine that God made a tree fall down. The physical evidence would be a fallen tree.

So, perhaps that's not answering your question. But then I just don't understand what you're asking, so perhaps you could clarify?

 


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jeffreyalex wrote:In

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

In response to your second question, imagine that God made a tree fall down. The physical evidence would be a fallen tree.

 

 

  Yet in forests around the world trees continually fall all the time for purely natural reasons.  So how would an observer go about distinguishing which particular tree fell because of divine intervention as opposed to purely natural explanations ?  Why would your hypothetical god lower the bar to such a degree as to make his intervening presence indistinguishable from every day phenomena ?  A divine intervention such as you suggest would be utterly useless as physical evidence of god's presence.  

Anyone for ambiguity  ?

 Perhaps something along the lines of evaporating all the world's oceans or having the Earth rotate in the opposite direction for day or two would go a lot further in providing evidence of its "god like" qualities instead of simply mimicking everyday occurrences.   Why do you let your hypothetical god off so easy ?   

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.

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ProzacDeathWish

ProzacDeathWish wrote:

jeffreyalex wrote:

 

In response to your second question, imagine that God made a tree fall down. The physical evidence would be a fallen tree.

 

 

  Yet in forests around the world trees continually fall all the time for purely natural reasons.  So how would an observer go about distinguishing which particular tree fell because of divine intervention as opposed to purely natural explanations ?  Why would your hypothetical god lower the bar to such a degree as to make his intervening presence indistinguishable from every day phenomena ?  A divine intervention such as you suggest would be utterly useless as physical evidence of god's presence.  

Anyone for ambiguity  ?

 Perhaps something along the lines of evaporating all the world's oceans or having the Earth rotate in the opposite direction for day or two would go a lot further in providing evidence of its "god like" qualities instead of simply mimicking everyday occurrences.   Why do you let your hypothetical god off so easy ?   

 

I'm not seeing the point you're trying to make. Are you asking me why God doesn't go about breaking physical laws?


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  It seems that your

  It seems that your hypothetical god is reluctant to intervene / participate / manifest itself in the physical world in any way that sets itself apart or distinguishes itself from more mundane scenarios. 

I'm a right wing atheist because I enjoy being hated by everyone.

"When a man loves cats, I am his friend and comrade, without further introduction." Mark Twain.