question about atheism and certainty

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question about atheism and certainty

Good evening R.R.S. I just watched a bit of that Nightline debate and I'm sad that you weren't even challenged. Pretty much, you squashed their arguments like a cockroach. Maybe one day the theist position will have a good pair of minds to do some mental sword-play with you (and actually use tenable scientific evidence and not bad analogies.)

I have a question for you that has nothing to do with pushing theism or challenging atheism. The question is whether atheists (and forgive me, I'm generalizing) believe that the non-existence of God can be proved/demonstrated/argued/scientifically verified/etc. with certainty? Often, it seems like a lot of atheists I speak with or have read articles from, tend to come off sounding rather certain that God doesn't exist. This to me seems like a breech in the scientific and philosophical skepticism for an atheist to hold with certainty the non-existence of God.

Now granted, you may reply that the evidence is highly in favor of there not being a God. You may also say: "yes, it may not be certain that God doesn't exist, but are you certain that there isn't a elephant in your apartment right now?" I understand the reply you may be getting at, and you would also force me to admit that no, I am not certain that there isn't an elephant in my apartment (assuming that I'm currently away from my apartment and unable to verify the existence or non-existence of an elephant in my apartment.) I accept this point and grant you that there are many reduction tactics an atheist may use to say that this isn't proof for God. I understand this and I believe that there cannot be any proofs for the existence of God (because I feel all proofs of God are BAD/WEAK/HORRIBLE/REFUTABLE) I mean isn't that why theistic belief rightfully rests on faith? If the existence of God could be proven, then why would we need faith? Sorry for going off on a tangent, back to certainty and atheism.

The skepticism I have towards certainty is derived from David Hume's philosophical works concerning skepticism in the Enquiry. He is as you know a great philosopher and an empiricist to the core. He also happened to remain an atheist to his death. I don't want to assert any claims concerning theism. I am merely questioning the presumed certainty element pertaining to atheistic beliefs. (Again, forgive me for generalizing atheists as holding this tenet. I would be glad to hear that most don't assert certainty.) I merely want to point out, that certainty would have no place in a scientific and/or empiricist set of judgments. Furthermore,as I do hold the theist position, I in no way claim that my belief goes anywhere scientifically beyond probability (with arguable evidence). Ultimately, I want to see if atheists would make their claim for the non-existence of God associating mere probability to go along with the abundance of evidence.

If you disagree then please attack my argument/reasoning/assertions/generalizations/stupidity, not my personal beliefs. I look forward to replies from the most formidable community of atheists on the internet.

*disclaimer: I also want to apologize for uniting all atheists into one big lump. I understand that atheists share in diversity and uniqueness. Please regard my understanding of atheism merely as using the fundamental assertion that there is no God.*

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


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jread wrote: The question

jread wrote:

The question is whether atheists (and forgive me, I'm generalizing) believe that the non-existence of God can be proved/demonstrated/argued/scientifically verified/etc. with certainty?

The expression "with certainty" makes such a proof impossible.  Even gravity has never been proven to exist.  It is just a theoretical construct to explain why an objects fall to the ground. Still the evidence for gravity is overwhelming.  Any time I have to stake my life on the proper functioning of physical forces (which I do every time I step on a plane) I would do so without hesitation.  My disbelief in god is the same.  I am comfortable with it.  I believe there is overwhelming evidence based on the errors in the bible, the historical propensity for cultures to invent deities, and the physical impossibilities of an omni-anything existing.  And if I am staking my life on that belief, I do so fearlessly. 

 

Responsibility: A detachable burden easily shifted to the shoulders of God, Fate, Fortune, Luck or one's neighbor. In the days of astrology it was customary to unload it upon a star. ~Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911


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jread wrote: Good evening

jread wrote:

Good evening R.R.S. I just watched a bit of that Nightline debate and I'm sad that you weren't even challenged. Pretty much, you squashed their arguments like a cockroach. Maybe one day the theist position will have a good pair of minds to do some mental sword-play with you (and actually use tenable scientific evidence and not bad analogies.)

I have a question for you that has nothing to do with pushing theism or challenging atheism. The question is whether atheists (and forgive me, I'm generalizing) believe that the non-existence of God can be proved/demonstrated/argued/scientifically verified/etc. with certainty? Often, it seems like a lot of atheists I speak with or have read articles from, tend to come off sounding rather certain that God doesn't exist. This to me seems like a breech in the scientific and philosophical skepticism for an atheist to hold with certainty the non-existence of God.

Now granted, you may reply that the evidence is highly in favor of there not being a God. You may also say: "yes, it may not be certain that God doesn't exist, but are you certain that there isn't a elephant in your apartment right now?" I understand the reply you may be getting at, and you would also force me to admit that no, I am not certain that there isn't an elephant in my apartment (assuming that I'm currently away from my apartment and unable to verify the existence or non-existence of an elephant in my apartment.) I accept this point and grant you that there are many reduction tactics an atheist may use to say that this isn't proof for God. I understand this and I believe that there cannot be any proofs for the existence of God (because I feel all proofs of God are BAD/WEAK/HORRIBLE/REFUTABLE) I mean isn't that why theistic belief rightfully rests on faith? If the existence of God could be proven, then why would we need faith? Sorry for going off on a tangent, back to certainty and atheism.

The skepticism I have towards certainty is derived from David Hume's philosophical works concerning skepticism in the Enquiry. He is as you know a great philosopher and an empiricist to the core. He also happened to remain an atheist to his death. I don't want to assert any claims concerning theism. I am merely questioning the presumed certainty element pertaining to atheistic beliefs. (Again, forgive me for generalizing atheists as holding this tenet. I would be glad to hear that most don't assert certainty.) I merely want to point out, that certainty would have no place in a scientific and/or empiricist set of judgments. Furthermore,as I do hold the theist position, I in no way claim that my belief goes anywhere scientifically beyond probability (with arguable evidence). Ultimately, I want to see if atheists would make their claim for the non-existence of God associating mere probability to go along with the abundance of evidence.

If you disagree then please attack my argument/reasoning/assertions/generalizations/stupidity, not my personal beliefs. I look forward to replies from the most formidable community of atheists on the internet.

*disclaimer: I also want to apologize for uniting all atheists into one big lump. I understand that atheists share in diversity and uniqueness. Please regard my understanding of atheism merely as using the fundamental assertion that there is no God.*

Sometimes it is easy to forget that most people asking these questions are doing so for the first time. We have answered this time after time after time after time. So although we are glad that you dont want o "lump" us under a blanket assumption, there is no need to apologize, just read and try to understand.

Atheism is not asserting that there is no god. It is simply a lack of belief. You lack belief in Thor because you see no evidence that thor exists.  So  you  remain at a position of not holding that belief unless someone shows you evidence for it.

Now, there is another degree to this though. Having seen all the presentations of Thor, you would be reasonably certian that Thor is a myth as apposed to a reality.

Atheists will change their position if a deity is proven to exist. But there are absurdities that are safe to throw in file 13 without fear of losing reality. Thor would be a safe deity claim to throw in the trash can.

Now, we dont say, "A god does not exist"

We do say, "Based on the evidence you have presented so far based on your particular claims, I would find it an absurdity vs a reality"

So the same logic you use to reject all other claims of deitys except yours, we use that same logic and aim it at your claims as well.

If you have evidence for claimed deity, then it is up to you to provide it. If you cant, I am under no obligation to adapt your position just as you would not adapt belief in Thor if the person claiming Thor did not provide evidence.

Everone is an atheist to some degree when it comes to others deities. We just lack belief in one more deity than you do. 

 

 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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We can treat god like any

We can treat god like any hypothesis. God today can be hypothesized, tested, and falsified. You can learn all about that in "God, the failed hypothesis." With Science today, we can, through the scientific process, find if god exists. As of today, there is virtually no evidence to suggest that God exists. Intelligent design is flawed because in all reality... nothing is really intelligently designed. With all the attributes that people today apply to God, there SHOULD be evidence for God existing, but there is none. There is actually theories on the big bang, and "before" the big bang happened and what caused it to happen, and those theories are completely natural. It's not that we are on the stance of "God does not exist." We are on the stance of, there is no plausible evidence for God, so therefor we can conclude that God probably does not exist. We merely do not believe God to exist because the evidence for his existence is virtually non-existent.

 

"Why would God send his only son to die an agonizing death to redeem an insignificant bit of carbon?"-Victor J. Stenger.


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jread wrote: I have a

jread wrote:
I have a question for you that has nothing to do with pushing theism or challenging atheism. The question is whether atheists (and forgive me, I'm generalizing) believe that the non-existence of God can be proved/demonstrated/argued/scientifically verified/etc. with certainty? Often, it seems like a lot of atheists I speak with or have read articles from, tend to come off sounding rather certain that God doesn't exist. This to me seems like a breech in the scientific and philosophical skepticism for an atheist to hold with certainty the non-existence of God.
Actually the claim that there is a god is the violation of science and logic.

People who think there is something they refer to as god don't ask enough questions.


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AiiA wrote: jread wrote: I

AiiA wrote:
jread wrote:
I have a question for you that has nothing to do with pushing theism or challenging atheism. The question is whether atheists (and forgive me, I'm generalizing) believe that the non-existence of God can be proved/demonstrated/argued/scientifically verified/etc. with certainty? Often, it seems like a lot of atheists I speak with or have read articles from, tend to come off sounding rather certain that God doesn't exist. This to me seems like a breech in the scientific and philosophical skepticism for an atheist to hold with certainty the non-existence of God.
Actually the claim that there is a god is the violation of science and logic.

 

If it is such a violation of science and logic, then why did Aristotle posit the Unmoved Mover? If Aristotle established syollogistic logic as we know it today, why would he violate his own laws? That metaphysical being could be construed as a simple type of diety. Furthermore, provide an argument for how and why posting a God is a violation of logic and science. Claiming the existence or non-existence of any object does not involve a contradiction. It would merely involve the formation of a false proposition. Is it a contradiction to say that the sun won't rise tommorow? No. Is it a contradiction to say that God exists? No. If this is the case, then please explain to me how positing God violates logic and science.

I think you may help yourself by clarifying what you mean by 'violate'.

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


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jread wrote: [...] The

jread wrote:
[...] The question is whether atheists (and forgive me, I'm generalizing) believe that the non-existence of God can be proved/demonstrated/argued/scientifically verified/etc. with certainty?

 

What do you mean by “god?” What qualities, if any, are we meant to verify?

 

jread wrote:
Often, it seems like a lot of atheists I speak with or have read articles from, tend to come off sounding rather certain that God doesn't exist.

 

Unless I'm mistaken, logic dictates that a negative cannot be proven. This isn't an argument in favor of an unsubstantiated proposition, and certainly not in favor of a particular one. Especially one that supposes to either exist outside nature or in defiance of supporting evidence: or is not really defined at all.

 

[...]

 

jread wrote:
Now granted, you may reply that the evidence is highly in favor of there not being a God.

 

That would mean proving a negative. Have specific claims about the properties of the world and supernatural ideas been refuted? In the case of definite claims like parts of Genesis, yes.

 

jread wrote:
You may also say: “yes, it may not be certain that God doesn't exist, but are you certain that there isn't a elephant in your apartment right now?“ I understand the reply you may be getting at, and you would also force me to admit that no, I am not certain that there isn't an elephant in my apartment (assuming that I'm currently away from my apartment and unable to verify the existence or non-existence of an elephant in my apartment.)

 

There's a difference between acknowledging a possibility and making an unjustified assumption. The religious proposition is more like, “Why not just assume there may be an elephant in your apartment?”

 

jread wrote:
I accept this point and grant you that there are many reduction tactics an atheist may use to say that this isn't proof for God. I understand this and I believe that there cannot be any proofs for the existence of God (because I feel all proofs of God are BAD/WEAK/HORRIBLE/REFUTABLE) I mean isn't that why theistic belief rightfully rests on faith?

 

Lack of proof doesn't work, so let's replace it with the impossibility of proof? No, science isn't meant to be dogmatic (though scientists sometimes are). The question is open, but evidence has yet to materialize.


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magilum wrote:

magilum wrote:

jread wrote:
[...] The question is whether atheists (and forgive me, I'm generalizing) believe that the non-existence of God can be proved/demonstrated/argued/scientifically verified/etc. with certainty?

 

What do you mean by “god?” What qualities, if any, are we meant to verify?

 

Reply: Plug in the most acceptable definition of God you see fit. How's Omni-everything?

jread wrote:
Often, it seems like a lot of atheists I speak with or have read articles from, tend to come off sounding rather certain that God doesn't exist.

 

Unless I'm mistaken, logic dictates that a negative cannot be proven. This isn't an argument in favor of an unsubstantiated proposition, and certainly not in favor of a particular one. Especially one that supposes to either exist outside nature or in defiance of supporting evidence: or is not really defined at all.

 

Reply: Hmm. Do you mean that negative beliefs cannot be proven? Because it seems that I can prove that I do not have three eyes. Or maybe, it's that I would prove that I do in fact have only two eyes, thereby ruling out the possibility that I have three eyes.

If you could just again explain what you mean, I may be able to understand you better and come up with a more adequate reply.

 

[...]

 

jread wrote:
Now granted, you may reply that the evidence is highly in favor of there not being a God.

 

That would mean proving a negative. Have specific claims about the properties of the world and supernatural ideas been refuted? In the case of definite claims like parts of Genesis, yes.

 

Reply: Yes in fact you are right. I was trying to argue this and found that many atheists will agree that you can not prove God does not exist.

jread wrote:
You may also say: “yes, it may not be certain that God doesn't exist, but are you certain that there isn't a elephant in your apartment right now?“ I understand the reply you may be getting at, and you would also force me to admit that no, I am not certain that there isn't an elephant in my apartment (assuming that I'm currently away from my apartment and unable to verify the existence or non-existence of an elephant in my apartment.)

 

There's a difference between acknowledging a possibility and making an unjustified assumption. The religious proposition is more like, “Why not just assume there may be an elephant in your apartment?”

Reply: Really good point. I do believe that is where a theist would invoke faith usually. I'm beginning to discover the problems many see with the positing of God within science.

My attempt at a reply would be this: If science has things that are unexplainable, shouldn't the most neutral rational position be agnosticism? Like, there might be God as a cause, there might not be God as a cause? It seems both possibilities are equally likely since there is something unexplainable attempting to be explained. And when you take the additional step of asserting, "God does not exist" seems to be complicating things.

Good point though, real tough spot to explain my way out of. Although, please continue to focus on this point so I can see all of its strengths.

 

jread wrote:
I accept this point and grant you that there are many reduction tactics an atheist may use to say that this isn't proof for God. I understand this and I believe that there cannot be any proofs for the existence of God (because I feel all proofs of God are BAD/WEAK/HORRIBLE/REFUTABLE) I mean isn't that why theistic belief rightfully rests on faith?

 

Lack of proof doesn't work, so let's replace it with the impossibility of proof? No, science isn't meant to be dogmatic (though scientists sometimes are). The question is open, but evidence has yet to materialize.

Reply: Saying the question is open, seems to be a form of agnosticism. Although, I'm beginning to understand why someone reminded me that R.R.S. has political goals. If R.R.S. admitted they were agnostics, they wouldn't accomplish as much politically. I suppose then if atheists realize this, then I'm essentially building a castle in the air. Or in other words, my argument is targeting no one.

[MOD EDIT - fixed quotes]

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


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jread wrote: Reply: Plug

jread wrote:
Reply: Plug in the most acceptable definition of God you see fit. How's Omni-everything? 

 

Reply: Hmm. Do you mean that negative beliefs cannot be proven? Because it seems that I can prove that I do not have three eyes. Or maybe, it's that I would prove that I do in fact have only two eyes, thereby ruling out the possibility that I have three eyes. 

 

I'm out of my depth in the philosophy department, but I'll rephrase it as: You can't disprove an unfalsifiable concept. How is the world different if a deity does or doesn't exist? If it's only different subjectively, how do we distinguish it from other subjective experiences? People having gone through traumatic experiences such as car crashes describe “time slowing down.” Is the reasonable answer that time really did distort itself, coincidentally in that very moment, but was perceptible to a single person? Should we imagine that this person was truly able to travel more slowly through time? Or is it safe to say their heightened state of awareness accounted for this seeming distortion of time?

 

jread wrote:
My attempt at a reply would be this: If science has things that are unexplainable, shouldn't the most neutral rational position be agnosticism? Like, there might be God as a cause, there might not be God as a cause?

 

Agnosticism must respect all unfalsifiable concepts, then. While I hold this agnostic/weak-atheist position, concepts that have been described throughout history, but are without supporting evidence (either scientifically demonstrated or subjective) are innumerable and entitled a similar position. That tradition and culture favor theism rather than phlogiston, alchemy or N-Rays doesn't elevate theism above these other concepts. I say “I've seen nothing to support it,” and I allow the concept to join other such unsupported propositions.

 

jread wrote:
It seems both possibilities are equally likely since there is something unexplainable attempting to be explained.  And when you take the additional step of asserting, “God does not exist“ seems to be complicating things.

 

I don't make that positive assertion, but it's not an argument in the deity concept's favor.

 

jread wrote:
Reply: Saying the question is open, seems to be a form of agnosticism. Although, I'm beginning to understand why someone reminded me that R.R.S. has political goals. If R.R.S. admitted they were agnostics, they wouldn't accomplish as much politically. I suppose then if atheists realize this, then I'm essentially building a castle in the air. Or in other words, my argument is targeting no one.

 

I'd been an agnostic for some time, before finally recognizing my stance as a form of atheism. I don't care about religion in itself, to be honest. It's actually the manipulation of American Christians to further deceptive political goals that forces me to bother with it at all. The misrepresentation of embryonic stem cell research, misinformation about evolution, and general fear of science and progressive ideas, are all that got me into this debate. I was perfectly happy not thinking about religion until I realized people were being emotionally tricked into voting against the common good.


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jread wrote: Good evening

jread wrote:

Good evening R.R.S. I just watched a bit of that Nightline debate and I'm sad that you weren't even challenged. Pretty much, you squashed their arguments like a cockroach. Maybe one day the theist position will have a good pair of minds to do some mental sword-play with you (and actually use tenable scientific evidence and not bad analogies.)

The theist position can never have a proponent better equippedfor debate than the position he/she/it (in case its a talking dog) is supporting. For this reason, to hope for a theist with a well supported position is beyond hope.  

Quote:
I have a question for you that has nothing to do with pushing theism or challenging atheism. The question is whether atheists (and forgive me, I'm generalizing) believe that the non-existence of God can be proved/demonstrated/argued/scientifically verified/etc. with certainty?

If someone provides enough information about a deity that we can make an honest inquest into its existence then it should be able to be proven or disproven to the same degree of certainty we can acheive when proving or disproving anything else. When deities are defined in vague, often incoherent, terms it becomes impossible to even attempt to disprove them as all we really have is a term with no supporting concept. It is no different than trying to disprove the existence of a 'Tegon' when we don't even know what a 'Tegon' is. 

I myself have never had a belief in any god or gods and therefor for me to attempt to disprove the existence of a 'whatever the hell they might be talking about' makes no sense. I wish that I did not even have to address what I consider to be such a non-issue, but due to the fact that there are people in the world who think theocracies are our destiny, people who blow themselves up, and three Republican U.S. presidential candidates who don't accept the solidly supported science of evolution, I am forced to attempt to refute a non-concept. Otherwise my atheism is not even a position, it is simply the fact that I have not, thus far in my lifetime, seen reason to form a belief in anything that might resemble someone's definition of a deity. 

Quote:
 Often, it seems like a lot of atheists I speak with or have read articles from, tend to come off sounding rather certain that God doesn't exist. This to me seems like a breech in the scientific and philosophical skepticism for an atheist to hold with certainty the non-existence of God.

Why is this a breech in skepticism? Pretend no god concept (well pretend as if their is a coherent one) was ever introduced to you. Now go about your merry way through life. Are you finding yourself contemplating the existence of a god? If you don't consider such a concept a possibility are you being dogmatic in your lacking of belief in such a thing? Or are you simply not contemplating the existence of something for which you find no reason to contemplate existence?

Now say someone walks up to you and tells you that a god exists but can not show you any evidence of its existence. In order to remain true to scientific and philosophical skepticism must you now grant their belief in this god thing equal status with you lack of belief?

Quote:
Now granted, you may reply that the evidence is highly in favor of there not being a God.

There is no evidence that there is not a god. There simply isn't any evidence that there is. There is evidence against the existence of specific gods, ones defined well enough to allow empirical or philosophical examination, but there can not be evidence against a god in general. This has nothing to do with whether or not one is supported in believing a god exists. The complete lack of evidence for the existence of any gods is the reason one should never form a belief in the first place.

 

Quote:
You may also say: "yes, it may not be certain that God doesn't exist, but are you certain that there isn't a elephant in your apartment right now?" I understand the reply you may be getting at, and you would also force me to admit that no, I am not certain that there isn't an elephant in my apartment (assuming that I'm currently away from my apartment and unable to verify the existence or non-existence of an elephant in my apartment.) I accept this point and grant you that there are many reduction tactics an atheist may use to say that this isn't proof for God. I understand this and I believe that there cannot be any proofs for the existence of God (because I feel all proofs of God are BAD/WEAK/HORRIBLE/REFUTABLE) I mean isn't that why theistic belief rightfully rests on faith?

Yes, and faith in the theistic sense is nothing more than make believe. It is the same as saying, "I like to believe there is this thing that is all powerful therefor there is". Why should anyone be expected to have to disprove this things existence?

The problem is that we live in socities and although we can call our beliefs private, they do not exist in a vacuum. The private beliefs of one inevitably find their way to affecting the lives of others. This is why believing in unsupported existences should always be discouraged. Societies that are saturated with belief in unsupported realities will have a hard time trying to exist within the laws of actual reality.   

 

Quote:
If the existence of God could be proven, then why would we need faith? Sorry for going off on a tangent, back to certainty and atheism.

No one has ever explained to me why we do need faith (meaning theistic or blind faith). It seems completely useless to me.

Quote:
The skepticism I have towards certainty is derived from David Hume's philosophical works concerning skepticism in the Enquiry. He is as you know a great philosopher and an empiricist to the core. He also happened to remain an atheist to his death. I don't want to assert any claims concerning theism. I am merely questioning the presumed certainty element pertaining to atheistic beliefs. (Again, forgive me for generalizing atheists as holding this tenet. I would be glad to hear that most don't assert certainty.) I merely want to point out, that certainty would have no place in a scientific and/or empiricist set of judgments. Furthermore,as I do hold the theist position, I in no way claim that my belief goes anywhere scientifically beyond probability (with arguable evidence). Ultimately, I want to see if atheists would make their claim for the non-existence of God associating mere probability to go along with the abundance of evidence.

Even if it is granted that nothing can be known with certainty, would this be sufficient reason to make walking around and being uncertain of the existence and non-existence of everything you think exists or doesn't exist a more productive or advantageous way to live your life? Would holding to this view provide you with any benefit?

“Philosophers have argued for centuries about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, but materialists have always known it depends on whether they are jitterbugging or dancing cheek to cheek" -- Tom Robbins


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magilum wrote: jread

magilum wrote:

jread wrote:
Reply: Plug in the most acceptable definition of God you see fit. How's Omni-everything?

 

Reply: Hmm. Do you mean that negative beliefs cannot be proven? Because it seems that I can prove that I do not have three eyes. Or maybe, it's that I would prove that I do in fact have only two eyes, thereby ruling out the possibility that I have three eyes.

 

I'm out of my depth in the philosophy department, but I'll rephrase it as: You can't disprove an unfalsifiable concept. How is the world different if a deity does or doesn't exist? If it's only different subjectively, how do we distinguish it from other subjective experiences? People having gone through traumatic experiences such as car crashes describe “time slowing down.” Is the reasonable answer that time really did distort itself, coincidentally in that very moment, but was perceptible to a single person? Should we imagine that this person was truly able to travel more slowly through time? Or is it safe to say their heightened state of awareness accounted for this seeming distortion of time?

 

jread wrote:
My attempt at a reply would be this: If science has things that are unexplainable, shouldn't the most neutral rational position be agnosticism? Like, there might be God as a cause, there might not be God as a cause?

 

Agnosticism must respect all unfalsifiable concepts, then. While I hold this agnostic/weak-atheist position, concepts that have been described throughout history, but are without supporting evidence (either scientifically demonstrated or subjective) are innumerable and entitled a similar position. That tradition and culture favor theism rather than phlogiston, alchemy or N-Rays doesn't elevate theism above these other concepts. I say “I've seen nothing to support it,” and I allow the concept to join other such unsupported propositions.

 

jread wrote:
It seems both possibilities are equally likely since there is something unexplainable attempting to be explained. And when you take the additional step of asserting, “God does not exist“ seems to be complicating things.

 

I don't make that positive assertion, but it's not an argument in the deity concept's favor.

 

jread wrote:
Reply: Saying the question is open, seems to be a form of agnosticism. Although, I'm beginning to understand why someone reminded me that R.R.S. has political goals. If R.R.S. admitted they were agnostics, they wouldn't accomplish as much politically. I suppose then if atheists realize this, then I'm essentially building a castle in the air. Or in other words, my argument is targeting no one.

 

I'd been an agnostic for some time, before finally recognizing my stance as a form of atheism. I don't care about religion in itself, to be honest. It's actually the manipulation of American Christians to further deceptive political goals that forces me to bother with it at all. The misrepresentation of embryonic stem cell research, misinformation about evolution, and general fear of science and progressive ideas, are all that got me into this debate. I was perfectly happy not thinking about religion until I realized people were being emotionally tricked into voting against the common good.

 

Thank you for your reply magilum. I read it and do understand what you are saying with higher clarity. The bit about falsifiability was very well explained and in my humble opninion spot on.

I posted a new forum topic, concerning the issues that I have been raising. I think you may find the topic a more adequate reply than this. As it officially states my resignation from arguing the points which I thought could be argued.  

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat


jread
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Vessel wrote: jread

Vessel wrote:
jread wrote:

Good evening R.R.S. I just watched a bit of that Nightline debate and I'm sad that you weren't even challenged. Pretty much, you squashed their arguments like a cockroach. Maybe one day the theist position will have a good pair of minds to do some mental sword-play with you (and actually use tenable scientific evidence and not bad analogies.)

The theist position can never have a proponent better equippedfor debate than the position he/she/it (in case its a talking dog) is supporting. For this reason, to hope for a theist with a well supported position is beyond hope.

Quote:
I have a question for you that has nothing to do with pushing theism or challenging atheism. The question is whether atheists (and forgive me, I'm generalizing) believe that the non-existence of God can be proved/demonstrated/argued/scientifically verified/etc. with certainty?

If someone provides enough information about a deity that we can make an honest inquest into its existence then it should be able to be proven or disproven to the same degree of certainty we can acheive when proving or disproving anything else. When deities are defined in vague, often incoherent, terms it becomes impossible to even attempt to disprove them as all we really have is a term with no supporting concept. It is no different than trying to disprove the existence of a 'Tegon' when we don't even know what a 'Tegon' is.

I myself have never had a belief in any god or gods and therefor for me to attempt to disprove the existence of a 'whatever the hell they might be talking about' makes no sense. I wish that I did not even have to address what I consider to be such a non-issue, but due to the fact that there are people in the world who think theocracies are our destiny, people who blow themselves up, and three Republican U.S. presidential candidates who don't accept the solidly supported science of evolution, I am forced to attempt to refute a non-concept. Otherwise my atheism is not even a position, it is simply the fact that I have not, thus far in my lifetime, seen reason to form a belief in anything that might resemble someone's definition of a deity.

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Often, it seems like a lot of atheists I speak with or have read articles from, tend to come off sounding rather certain that God doesn't exist. This to me seems like a breech in the scientific and philosophical skepticism for an atheist to hold with certainty the non-existence of God.

Why is this a breech in skepticism? Pretend no god concept (well pretend as if their is a coherent one) was ever introduced to you. Now go about your merry way through life. Are you finding yourself contemplating the existence of a god? If you don't consider such a concept a possibility are you being dogmatic in your lacking of belief in such a thing? Or are you simply not contemplating the existence of something for which you find no reason to contemplate existence?

Now say someone walks up to you and tells you that a god exists but can not show you any evidence of its existence. In order to remain true to scientific and philosophical skepticism must you now grant their belief in this god thing equal status with you lack of belief?

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Now granted, you may reply that the evidence is highly in favor of there not being a God.

There is no evidence that there is not a god. There simply isn't any evidence that there is. There is evidence against the existence of specific gods, ones defined well enough to allow empirical or philosophical examination, but there can not be evidence against a god in general. This has nothing to do with whether or not one is supported in believing a god exists. The complete lack of evidence for the existence of any gods is the reason one should never form a belief in the first place.

Quote:
You may also say: "yes, it may not be certain that God doesn't exist, but are you certain that there isn't a elephant in your apartment right now?" I understand the reply you may be getting at, and you would also force me to admit that no, I am not certain that there isn't an elephant in my apartment (assuming that I'm currently away from my apartment and unable to verify the existence or non-existence of an elephant in my apartment.) I accept this point and grant you that there are many reduction tactics an atheist may use to say that this isn't proof for God. I understand this and I believe that there cannot be any proofs for the existence of God (because I feel all proofs of God are BAD/WEAK/HORRIBLE/REFUTABLE) I mean isn't that why theistic belief rightfully rests on faith?

Yes, and faith in the theistic sense is nothing more than make believe. It is the same as saying, "I like to believe there is this thing that is all powerful therefor there is". Why should anyone be expected to have to disprove this things existence?

The problem is that we live in socities and although we can call our beliefs private, they do not exist in a vacuum. The private beliefs of one inevitably find their way to affecting the lives of others. This is why believing in unsupported existences should always be discouraged. Societies that are saturated with belief in unsupported realities will have a hard time trying to exist within the laws of actual reality.

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If the existence of God could be proven, then why would we need faith? Sorry for going off on a tangent, back to certainty and atheism.

No one has ever explained to me why we do need faith (meaning theistic or blind faith). It seems completely useless to me.

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The skepticism I have towards certainty is derived from David Hume's philosophical works concerning skepticism in the Enquiry. He is as you know a great philosopher and an empiricist to the core. He also happened to remain an atheist to his death. I don't want to assert any claims concerning theism. I am merely questioning the presumed certainty element pertaining to atheistic beliefs. (Again, forgive me for generalizing atheists as holding this tenet. I would be glad to hear that most don't assert certainty.) I merely want to point out, that certainty would have no place in a scientific and/or empiricist set of judgments. Furthermore,as I do hold the theist position, I in no way claim that my belief goes anywhere scientifically beyond probability (with arguable evidence). Ultimately, I want to see if atheists would make their claim for the non-existence of God associating mere probability to go along with the abundance of evidence.

Even if it is granted that nothing can be known with certainty, would this be sufficient reason to make walking around and being uncertain of the existence and non-existence of everything you think exists or doesn't exist a more productive or advantageous way to live your life? Would holding to this view provide you with any benefit?

 

You're quite right, it wouldn't benefit me to walk around with that view. I would be constantly bogged with down with a seeming limitless amount of beliefs concerning inconsequential things.

 

What you said here:

Now say someone walks up to you and tells you that a god exists but can not show you any evidence of its existence. In order to remain true to scientific and philosophical skepticism must you now grant their belief in this god thing equal status with you lack of belief?

I see where you are coming from and agree with you. It wouldn't seem that a belief in God would be on the same philosophical/skeptical level as a lack of belief in God.

I apologize for not giving your reply a full going over and replying point by point. But, I think you may find the new post I put up helpful in understanding my unwillingness to argue further the points I was trying to make. Thank you for your reply nonetheless, I read it and understood your points.

 

The implication that we should put Darwinism on trial overlooks the fact that Darwinism has always been on trial within the scientific community. -- From Finding Darwin's God by Kenneth R. Miller

Chaos and chance don't mean the absence of law and order, but rather the presence of order so complex that it lies beyond our abilities to grasp and describe it. -- From From Certainty to Uncertainty by F. David Peat