Does Weak Atheism Reduce to Strong Atheism?

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Does Weak Atheism Reduce to Strong Atheism?

This topic has been bothering me recently. Doesn't "weak" atheism simply reduce to "strong" atheism? If you have George Smith's understanding (also held by our own todangst) that religious language is meaningless, and if even the probability exists that non-material creatures somehow might "exist" in whatever sense they could, and even if you're just giving the concept of gods a fair shake ... can one really say that they are a "weak" atheist?

Saying you're only 99.999999999% sure that gravity will continue to work is admirable humility, but when do we say we're "agnostic" towards gravity or have a "negative" belief in some alternative to gravity?

It's my contention that weak atheism reduces to strong atheism, but I invite any criticism on that point.

Edit:

The position should be clarified. I'm saying that when discussing gods, either:

(1) As Smith says, all talk of gods is meaningless (employs empty names)

OR

(2) Descriptions of gods are meaningful, but internally inconsistent.

Either way, you have an untestable entity.

Therefore, everyone is agnostic, and the weak atheist is waiting for evidence that can never be applied to anything at all.

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Hambydammit wrote:Weak

Hambydammit wrote:
Weak atheism is the only precisely correct philosophical position available to anyone.  I mean that even with Dennett's "vanishingly small" probabilities, and even with the array of asterisks disclaiming "actual" credibility to ideas of which we cannot conceive, there's a big, glaring infinitude of things out there (existent or not) that we don't know that we don't know.  (That is, we don't know that we don't know that there are no glarblefarbs.)

That's still providing that glarblefarbs have been defined in any meaningful way. While I agree that there is an an argument to be made for the infinite possibility of some-kind-of-whatchamahoozit, that would be referring to a belief in that particular thing. We're discussing gods. Can I make the presumption that all gods have been described in some way? Well, yes. Otherwise, they wouldn't have come up in discussion. Note also that I'm not presuming all possible descriptions of gods, because that's equally difficult to anticipate.

But I don't have to. That argument is for the infinite possibilities presented by our ignorance. That's not a position on anything, that's a necessary truth. If you don't know something, you don't know it. And there is no knowledge of gods that is not ridiculous.

That may seem like a strong statement, but it's supported: what can we say about gods? Do they have eyes? Certainly not in the sense that we do, so they must have a different kind of god-eye or something. Now we've just invented a fictional concept based on our notion of ourselves for a fictional concept based on our notion of ourselves. Try it yourself: come up with attributes for gods that make sense. None of them do, and that's falsifying evidence. The alternative hypothesis -- that we're making shit up -- has much stronger support.

It doesn't matter which way you tackle this one, you don't need "agnostic" or "weak" as a category. You also don't need to tell people that you merely lack a belief in something they've defined. To say "there are no gods" is to point out:

(1) The terms used to describe gods, and the gods resulting from such descriptions render the concepts themselves nonsensical

(2) Gods which are undefined are nothing but mouth-sounds or scribblings

Hamby wrote:
Since knowledge of God would necessarily involve induction

This is again the issue of exhaustive knowledge, but that ignores the fact that the gods that we actively disbelieve have already been described. Capital-g God has been described, and is total nonsense. Knowledge of other possible creatures is unrelated.

I'm saying we don't have to come up with a defence for an attack that hasn't yet been mounted. Are there any gods? No. Are there any creatures that I might later come up with a definition for? Maybe, but that's not the question.

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JillSwift wrote:OrdinaryClay

JillSwift wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Belief (that God does not exist) acquired through a rejection of evidence becomes knowledge.
Some day you'll have to present this "evidence" you keep claiming is being rejected.

Your confusion lies in not distinguishing the difference between evidence presented and rejected and evidence presented and accepted. Your conclusion may differ, but they are still both evidence. This site exists largely to refute the evidence for God. The very name of the site acknowledges that there is presented evidence for God. Atheists all over the Internet create sites to refute presented evidence. Atheist scholars write books rejecting the evidence for God.

 


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Eloise wrote:No !in caps! I

Eloise wrote:

No !in caps! I mean that disapproval is a function of some stuff that is entailed in a world and a god in the world that entails that function has a capacity for disapproval. In the sense that it's a way of being mostly.

Oh, okay. But I don't get that last part. Are you referring to the god's way of being?

Eloise wrote:
Speaking plainly, however, the sense in which we disapprove of some given value is otherwise meaningless to my god because what, then, does it do for existence?

Certainly nothing. I'm still not claiming that my finding terms meaningless necessitates the non-existence of the things they reference. That wouldn't be well-founded. I'm claiming that strong disbelief is justified in cases where you have a combination of meaninglessness and zero evidence, which is the case I present for gods.

Eloise wrote:
By the by, wasn't the topic of this thread somehing totally unrelated?

No! In caps! You're the only one I know of who might be able to furnish us with a god that has a meaningful definition. I'm looking for a counter-example.

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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:
You're perpetuating the baseless meme that atheism is nothing. Belief (that God does not exist) acquired through a rejection of evidence becomes knowledge. This does not define agnosticism as redundant. This term agnostic atheism is still an oxymoron as it stands.

If you want to come up with your own terms of art with regards to philosophy, that's fine, but you can't expect everyone to understand what you're talking about when you change the meanings of words.

No new "terms of art" were used or required.
 

Quote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Will wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:
You either accept the evidence for God, you reject the evidence or you decide it is inconclusive.

I'm not surprised that you've ignored the substance of my argument, but I have to point out how: it's not possible to have evidence for something you can't define. Any evidence you would have would not apply to that thing, because you can't match evidence to something undefinable.

If, however, you find yourself defining gods, attempts to match evidence to those gods have proven completely fruitless.

Defining the item to be proven and matching evidence with that definition are distinct. It is perfectly legitimate to define something prior to any evidence for it. God is defined in the Bible.

And someone would be completely justified in disbelieving the god described in the Bible. That's my point. I'm not trying to determine that the Biblical God for sure doesn't exist: I'm pointing out that there's no reason for a person to say that they're "agnostic" towards it, in the same sense that there's no reason to say you're "agnostic" towards leprechauns, Harry Potter, or any other character present only in a book.

No, your point in your response to me was regarding matching a definition with evidence not that something is only defined in a book. People are theists, agnostic or atheist based on the presented evidence not on the definition.
 

Quote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Your ejection of that definition is not because it can not be defined. It is because you reject the evidence.  Calling oneself an atheist or an agnostic admits to some definition of God. In the end your argument has nothing to do with whether agnostic and atheism are mutually exclusive.

You missed the two parts of the argument above, and again misrepresented my argument. When gods are defined, the descriptions given are ridiculous.

Implicit in your claim of "ridiculousness" is that there is evidence that you rejected. Otherwise you have nothing to base "ridiculousness" on.
 


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Hambydammit wrote:Weak

Hambydammit wrote:

Weak atheism is the only precisely correct philosophical position available to anyone.  I mean that even with Dennett's "vanishingly small" probabilities, and even with the array of asterisks disclaiming "actual" credibility to ideas of which we cannot conceive, there's a big, glaring infinitude of things out there (existent or not) that we don't know that we don't know.  (That is, we don't know that we don't know that there are no glarblefarbs.)

There are still people who claim to be "strong" atheists based on faith. The extrapolation for example that physics does not require a creator. The vanishingly small set argument is a vacuous attempt to still claim to be an atheist, but avoid the fact that claiming to be an atheist ultimately relies on faith.

 

Quote:

Having said that, I'll point out that we are far more certain that there is no god than we are of many things in science that are declared as fact and accepted by pretty much everybody with a brain. 

Your certainty is purely based  on faith.

 


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OrdinaryClay wrote:This site

OrdinaryClay wrote:
This site exists largely to refute the evidence for God.



There is no evidence for the entity you call God. Show me that I am wrong.



OrdinaryClay wrote:
The very name of the site acknowledges that there is presented evidence for God. Atheists all over the Internet create sites to refute presented evidence. Atheist scholars write books rejecting the evidence for God.



Are you suggesting that if I wrote a book refuting the existence of dragons, that would be acknowledging evidence for the existence of dragons? How does that help your case, when evidence can be crappy?

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OrdinaryClay wrote:No, your

OrdinaryClay wrote:
No, your point in your response to me was regarding matching a definition with evidence not that something is only defined in a book. People are theists, agnostic or atheist based on the presented evidence not on the definition.

How would that even be possible if they didn't know what they were believing? How do you match evidence to something undefined?

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Implicit in your claim of "ridiculousness" is that there is evidence that you rejected. Otherwise you have nothing to base "ridiculousness" on.

Not true. The ridiculousness is based purely on internal inconsistency. Take the Judeo-Christian God, for example. Even if we bypass the idea that he's male (ridiculous), he's both perfectly loving (ridiculous) and jealous (double ridiculous).

Here's where we then bounce back to talk of "oh, but you can't possibly fathom a god-like jealousy/love/hair colour" which has reduced the argument once again to meaninglessness. If we can't understand what we're talking about, that's meaninglessness.

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OrdinaryClay wrote:Your

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Your confusion lies in not distinguishing the difference between evidence presented and rejected and evidence presented and accepted. Your conclusion may differ, but they are still both evidence. This site exists largely to refute the evidence for God. The very name of the site acknowledges that there is presented evidence for God. Atheists all over the Internet create sites to refute presented evidence. Atheist scholars write books rejecting the evidence for God.


Your confusion lies in believing I care what your opinion is of what I've rejected or accepted.

If you had evidence, you'd present it. But you don't have evidence, you have faith and a vivid imagination.

 

"Anyone can repress a woman, but you need 'dictated' scriptures to feel you're really right in repressing her. In the same way, homophobes thrive everywhere. But you must feel you've got scripture on your side to come up with the tedious 'Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve' style arguments instead of just recognising that some people are different." - Douglas Murray


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OrdinaryClay wrote:There are

OrdinaryClay wrote:

There are still people who claim to be "strong" atheists based on faith. The extrapolation for example that physics does not require a creator. The vanishingly small set argument is a vacuous attempt to still claim to be an atheist, but avoid the fact that claiming to be an atheist ultimately relies on faith.

What type of faith would that be? Trust in the empirical method? That kind of faith? Because that involves a real process; something that trivially exists.

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Your certainty is purely based  on faith.

Faith in what, Clay? You're equivocating to annoy us, that much is obvious. What you're not doing is showing up with anything solid.

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Hambydammit wrote:for the

Hambydammit wrote:

for the thing she can't define or even produce a reason for looking for,

 

 

I gave my reasons for looking.

 

 

 


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Cpt_pineapple wrote:I gave

Cpt_pineapple wrote:
I gave my reasons for looking.

You mean the line about a sense of harmony and awe in the universe? You never cleared up exactly why you thought you'd find a god if you looked hard enough, though.

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HisWillness wrote:"I feel X"

HisWillness wrote:

"I feel X" is the closest one might come, and in the case of God, is often the expressed justification in and of itself. But even the feeling has no "meaning" (in the sense that two people do not necessarily communicate the same feeling). Having the object X be undefinable just makes the whole thing weirder.

Then Theism reduces down to strong Hedonism. If it feels right, believe it. That's ulitimately their justification.

It's seem the more we unwrap what Theism really is, it is quite the opposite of what they claim. Theism is really an extreme form of Hedonism and Narcissism.

 

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I think if one wants to get

I think if one wants to get serious about trying to characterize the nuances of attitude to God(s), there are arguably at least three dimensions to belief/disbelief.

1. The personal assessment of the balance of the evidence, 100% points to God, to no God, somewhere in between; 50% would signify similar weight of evidence pointing either way, etc. -> atheist vs theist.

2. Assessed strength/amount of evidence. -> agnostic vs gnostic(?).

3. How much one actual cares either way -> atheist vs apatheist(?)

EDIT: So a weak atheist would probably feel that what evidence there is points away from God (1), but there isn't enough evidence to support a strong argument against God (2), and also that they care enough to declare such a position (3).

A strong Atheist would mainly vary on point 2.

An 'agnostic' atheist might be more equivocal on 1, but still assess the balance being toward atheism, may or may not think that there is enough evidence on which to base strong arguments for or against. Maybe they think there is a significant amount of evidence, but it is conflicting, so convincing sounding arguments can be made for and against God. So 'agnosticism' does not unambiguously identify the thinking behind an unwillingness to come down on either side. IOW it is not a good or precise term.

 

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 Sally:  I feel something

 Sally:  I feel something vague and intuitively unsettling.  I'm going to look for something I can't define outside of myself and my environment, and see if it could possibly do something that might have something to do with my vague and unsettling feeling.  Or... perhaps it doesn't do anything, but just is... or... is, but isn't because of some other thing...

Bob: I feel something vague and intuitively unsettling.  I'm going to empirically study human nature to see if I can find a cause for my vague and intuitively unsettling feeling.

 

Pineapple, do you see how one of these people is pursuing a valid line of thought, and the other is just trying to invent something for the sake of inventing it?

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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BobSpence1 wrote:1. The

BobSpence1 wrote:
1. The personal assessment of the balance of the evidence, 100% points to God, to no God, somewhere in between; 50% would signify similar weight of evidence pointing either way, etc. -> atheist vs theist.

 

All you have to do is define "God", so that we can match the concept to the evidence. If that can't be done, it's not "atheist vs. theist", it's "coherent vs. incoherent" before we even begin to introduce the first stage of discussion.

BobSpence1 wrote:
2. Assessed strength/amount of evidence. -> agnostic vs gnostic(?).

This is why I instantly object to "agnosticism": what precisely is it that one would be claiming to be ignorant of?

BobSpence1 wrote:
3. How much one actual cares either way -> atheis't vs apatheist(?)

I don't know if that part can be treated seriously, though. "Atheist" and "theist" are declared beliefs. For those who don't declare their beliefs, that's just an unknown.

Bob wrote:
So a weak atheist would probably feel that what evidence there is points away from God (1), but there isn't enough evidence to support a strong argument against God (2), and also that they care enough to declare such a position (3).

But note how lame that really is: the "evidence" would have to be for something that is either undefinable or inherently ridiculous (by virtue of internal inconsistency). Of what value could such evidence be? How could you even have evidence for something like that? If something's internally inconsistent, there is no framework to determine what would constitute evidence anyway (and we see that played out time and again with evidence presented for gods).

Bob wrote:
An 'agnostic' atheist might be more equivocal on 1, but still assess the balance being toward atheism, may or may not think that there is enough evidence on which to base strong arguments for or against. Maybe they think there is a significant amount of evidence, but it is conflicting, so convincing sounding arguments can be made for and against God.

It's possible that someone would think like that, but they would be "confused", not "agnostic". Unless someone can find a way to apply evidential support to something undefined or inherently ridiculous, "agnosticism" is a pretty useless term.

Bob wrote:
So 'agnosticism' does not unambiguously identify the thinking behind an unwillingness to come down on either side. IOW it is not a good or precise term.

Agreed.

Likewise, the weak atheist position seems to be seated in an admirable humility regarding the limits of knowledge, but it misses the point. If we lack a belief in gods, it's functionally the same as believing that there are no gods, because in both cases, we'd be trying to apply belief or a lack thereof to the realm of the incoherent! It doesn't matter if we're saying "believing" or "stepping on".

Do you not step on gods, or do you simply have a lack of stepping on gods?

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hiswillness wrote:

 

This topic has been bothering me recently. Doesn't "weak" atheism simply reduce to "strong" atheism? If you have George Smith's understanding (also held by our own todangst) that religious language is meaningless, and if even the probability exists that non-material creatures somehow might "exist" in whatever sense they could, and even if you're just giving the concept of gods a fair shake ... can one really say that they are a "weak" atheist?

 I have given this very line of reasoning serious thought.

 How is it that 1) religious language is meaningless and yet 2) atheists tend to give responses to theistic claims as if they are meaningful

In other words, why is there a split between the response of atheists, from the Dawkins/Stenger group (who argue that theistic claims are meaningful, and therefore, falsifiable) and the "separate magistrata" group, (of which Stephen Gould was a member) who hold that theistic claims are non falsifiable and outside of scientific perview?


Here is the reason: theists are inconsistent with their assertions out of logical necessity.

Yes, by their definitions, supernatural terms are incoherent. However, seeing as they are incoherent, the theist cannot actually employ supernatural meaning in his discourse.  The theist must employ one of the oldest and most dishonest entrepreneurial maneuvers known: a bait and switch.

The theists' supernatural terms are incoherent, but the theist actually puts forth a materialistic/naturalistic god in his arguments.

"god" responds to prayers.

"god" rewards good people, punishes the bad.

And so on. We can forget that 'god" as defined in supernatural terms, is incoherent... the theist implicitly realizes this (without awareness). The theist switches out the incoherent term and instead puts forth a superman, who in turn, is responsible for some phenomena. 'god', as a superman, listens to your prayers. He heals believers. Etc. The actual claim is entirely naturalistic, its causal. Ergo falsifiable. Ergo our confusion.


This explains why the atheistic response is in a sense schizophrenic. We are not replying to one argument, but two in one, a bait in switch, a coherent claim (that is purely natural and therefore, not god at all) for an incoherent one (a supernatural one).

 

For this reason, it may well be necessary to say that supernatural terms are incoherent  - which justifies strong atheism, but quasi-supernatural claims are falsifiable/plausible, possibly justifying weak atheism.

 

It is interesting that the confusion is born of accepting that theist claim makes sense... the principal of generosity, which demands that we view our opponent in argument as coherent/sane was unfounded in this case.

 

 

 

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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JillSwift wrote:"God" has so

JillSwift wrote:


"God" has so many meanings that it's absurd. The definition for "god" will change even while talking to a single theist in a single conversation.

I see you've already hit upon my point.

I think there is value added to saying precisely how they move the goalposts..

 

"god" is incoherently defined,  so as to avoid refutation.... this gives us the separte magistrata argument that Gould swallowed like a fish. THis argument says "theistic claims are unexaminable, we just have to accept them."

 

god, as assumed to be coherent, is used whenever a theist thinks he has an argument that supports his cause.

 

To be fair, however, I don't think most theists are aware of the switch.

Those that are, are quite dishonest.

 

Quote:
Though we can easily discard definitions that are internally inconsistent, or directly conflict with evidence, we're still left with such a pantheon that we really can't be expected to test them all. We're forced to be agnostic about them - at least for now.

 

I think that there is no need to be agnostic about unsupported claims.

Quote:

"Strong" atheism makes a statement about reality - and let's be frank; for any specific definition of a god, we can be "strong" atheists. I'm a "strong" atheist about Zeus, for instance. That god's definition is specific, and the evidence that the definition predicts simply is not there. Thus, neither is Zeus.

 

 

Well said.

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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OrdinaryClay

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Having said that, I'll point out that we are far more certain that there is no god than we are of many things in science that are declared as fact and accepted by pretty much everybody with a brain. 

Your certainty is purely based  on faith.

 

 

Isn't that a rather hollow complaint, coming from a theist?

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Pineapple, do you see how one of these people is pursuing a valid line of thought, and the other is just trying to invent something for the sake of inventing it?

 

 

 

Yes, Hamby, I know of the innate reasons that this line of thought is from, but I can't seem to divorce it from the genetic fallacy.

 

 

 

 


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HisWillness wrote:This topic

HisWillness wrote:

This topic has been bothering me recently. Doesn't "weak" atheism simply reduce to "strong" atheism? If you have George Smith's understanding (also held by our own todangst) that religious language is meaningless, and if even the probability exists that non-material creatures somehow might "exist" in whatever sense they could, and even if you're just giving the concept of gods a fair shake ... can one really say that they are a "weak" atheist?

Saying you're only 99.999999999% sure that gravity will continue to work is admirable humility, but when do we say we're "agnostic" towards gravity or have a "negative" belief in some alternative to gravity?

It's my contention that weak atheism reduces to strong atheism, but I invite any criticism on that point.

I think you'd make your point much clearer by foregoing the use of any analogy, and refer to your personal definitions of "weak Atheism", "strong Atheism", and what you mean by "reduce" in the context you are using it in plain English.

All over the Net there are threads and posts which foster debate purely because the posters do not define their personal terminology, or use words like "reduce" in a context in which an analogy to undefined terms are used, as an example.

Give us a break, and speak clearly and plainly, huh? Tx.


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todangst wrote:How is it

todangst wrote:
How is it that 1) religious language is meaningless and yet 2) atheists tend to give responses to theistic claims as if they are meaningful

Well exactly.

todangst wrote:
This explains why the atheistic response is in a sense schizophrenic. We are not replying to one argument, but two in one, a bait in switch, a coherent claim (that is purely natural and therefore, not god at all) for an incoherent one (a supernatural one).

For this reason, it may well be necessary to say that supernatural terms are incoherent  - which justifies strong atheism, but quasi-supernatural claims are falsifiable/plausible, possibly justifying weak atheism.

I'm still having a hard time allowing that quasi-supernatural terms can be any more coherent than supernatural terms. After all, the object to which the terms are being applied has no reference with regards to the terms. For instance, even if we say "This god has arms", we have a problem. Despite our applying terms that in a natural setting would be falsifiable, simply by virtue of the fact that we've brought the conceptual black-hole that is a god into the equation, we're at a loss to figure out what kind of arms, and how they'd be attached, and all sorts of other nonsense.

todangst wrote:
It is interesting that the confusion is born of accepting that theist claim makes sense... the principal of generosity, which demands that we view our opponent in argument as coherent/sane was unfounded in this case.

Right. The principle of generosity only extends up to the point where your interlocutor stops being coherent. The trouble, of course, is that atheists have to invent a brand new type of generosity to have these arguments!

As far as I can see, agnosticism remains a type of confusion, and not a position, because theistic claims cannot be coherent, as they involve at their heart an incoherent point of reference. My argument is that atheism is the disbelief of gods, full stop. One would be justified in that disbelief on the grounds that gods can either not be defined, or their definitions are by necessity internally incoherent.

Even if one were to grant that the language used when defining "god" was somehow only somewhat referential, we'd still be attempting to assign values like "exists" to the same semi-referenced entity for which we have no other coherent attributes! It's my contention that claiming to be agnostic about something that can't be formulated is just spinning your wheels, and represents no real position whatsoever with regards to belief or even knowledge.

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treat2 wrote:I think you'd

treat2 wrote:
I think you'd make your point much clearer by foregoing the use of any analogy, and refer to your personal definitions of "weak Atheism", "strong Atheism", and what you mean by "reduce" in the context you are using it in plain English. All over the Net there are threads and posts which foster debate purely because the posters do not define their personal terminology, or use words like "reduce" in a context in which an analogy to undefined terms are used, as an example. Give us a break, and speak clearly and plainly, huh? Tx.


You're right to say the original post wasn't as clear as I wanted to be. Read the rest of the posts and see if I've made my position any clearer.



For the rest of the people wading through these, I'm repeating myself quite a bit, but it's because I want to see the argument hammered out purely out of curiosity. If you think you have an objection to my argument, fire away, because I don't think it's rock solid yet, myself.

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HisWillness wrote:I'm still

HisWillness wrote:


I'm still having a hard time allowing that quasi-supernatural terms can be any more coherent than supernatural terms. After all, the object to which the terms are being applied has no reference with regards to the terms. For instance, even if we say "This god has arms", we have a problem. Despite our applying terms that in a natural setting would be falsifiable, simply by virtue of the fact that we've brought the conceptual black-hole that is a god into the equation, we're at a loss to figure out what kind of arms, and how they'd be attached, and all sorts of other nonsense.

A falsifiable theistic claim must be a naturalistic claim, period. So by 'quasi-supernatural' all I realy mean is a completely naturalistic term, that is still, somehow, hazily imagined to be supernatural by the theist. 

You see this all the time on our boards. Theists will argue for a god that is natural and supernatural.  They admit that they can't talk about the supernatural part.


In brief: they are inconsistent.  Orwellian doublethink. Really, there's nothing more to it, which is why theists tend to stamp their feet when you press them on this issue.

 

todangst wrote:
It is interesting that the confusion is born of accepting that theist claim makes sense... the principal of generosity, which demands that we view our opponent in argument as coherent/sane was unfounded in this case.

Quote:

Right. The principle of generosity only extends up to the point where your interlocutor stops being coherent. The trouble, of course, is that atheists have to invent a brand new type of generosity to have these arguments!

Indeed, this is where my experience as a psychologist is an aid. We are dealing with internal psychological defenses, and defenses need not concern themselves with consistency or logic.

There's a famous example of how defenses work: the teakettle defense.

 

A maid is accussd of stealing her master's tea kettle. She responds by saying she doesn't know anything about the large, silver kettle, that she was given the kettle as a gift, and that it was dented anyway.

As a real defense, this fails utterly, as it is a set of internal contradictions. But as a psychological defense, it is wonderful, because our psychological defenses, just like our dreams, don't care about contradictions. A defense that offers up 3 arguments works better than a defense that offers 2, 1, or zero, even if the defenses contradict.

 

This is precisely why 'crazy' people are crazy. Because psychological defenses need not be rational.  And make no mistake, arguing with a theist over 'his god' is entering into his psyche... after, our position is that 'god' is a creation of the theist's mind.... so we are not encountering just reason, or arguments... we are attacking part of a person's mind...

 

I mean, did you ever wonder why theists take atheism so personal? Then again, I think you already knew that...

 

Quote:

As far as I can see, agnosticism remains a type of confusion, and not a position, because theistic claims cannot be coherent, as they involve at their heart an incoherent point of reference.

I agree. But then theists go on to make falsifiable claims about an old white guy with a beard. While theists define their god incoherently, and claim to believe in this incoherency, in reality, they believe in an utterly Thor-like demi god, who walks, talks, presumably even has a penis, etc.  A god that thinks just like them.. .wouldn't you know it!?

Quote:

My argument is that atheism is the disbelief of gods, full stop. One would be justified in that disbelief on the grounds that gods can either not be defined, or their definitions are by necessity internally incoherent.

I agree, but then, the theist is not wiling to follow his own defintion here, mainly because he can't.

 

Even negative theologians make positive claims.

Quote:

Even if one were to grant that the language used when defining "god" was somehow only somewhat referential, we'd still be attempting to assign values like "exists" to the same semi-referenced entity for which we have no other coherent attributes! It's my contention that claiming to be agnostic about something that can't be formulated is just spinning your wheels, and represents no real position whatsoever with regards to belief or even knowledge.

I agree with you here - but then again, one might argue that atheism and theism make no sense, and that the only position is to call the matter sheer nonsense....

 

But then this leaves the matter of billions of theists continuing to make positive, falsifialbe assertions....

 

It's no easy matter to decide.

"Hitler burned people like Anne Frank, for that we call him evil.
"God" burns Anne Frank eternally. For that, theists call him 'good.'


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HisWillness, I wasn't really

HisWillness, I wasn't really assuming there was any actual good evidence for God, I was just trying to distinguish different ways individuals may see God and the arguments for and against, from a psychological perspective rather than the actual merit of the evidence and arguments.

As for "apatheists", or people who just don't think much about the subject, I think this really would apply more commonly in mostly secular societies, where it really is possible to go through most of daily life without confronting the issue.

 

Favorite oxymorons: Gospel Truth, Rational Supernaturalist, Business Ethics, Christian Morality

"Theology is now little more than a branch of human ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings." - Sam Harris

The path to Truth lies via careful study of reality, not the dreams of our fallible minds - me

From the sublime to the ridiculous: Science -> Philosophy -> Theology


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BobSpence1

BobSpence1 wrote:

HisWillness, I wasn't really assuming there was any actual good evidence for God, I was just trying to distinguish different ways individuals may see God and the arguments for and against, from a psychological perspective rather than the actual merit of the evidence and arguments.

Oh, I know, Bob. There's certainly an amount of preaching to the choir, here, too, so it's not like I was expecting some kind of insane apologeticist rebuttal. I just get enthusiastic about arguments like this because they pique my curiosity. This particular argument (towards a non-distinction between weak and strong atheism) is one that I'd like to resolve for myself purely on principle.

BobSpence1 wrote:
As for "apatheists", or people who just don't think much about the subject, I think this really would apply more commonly in mostly secular societies, where it really is possible to go through most of daily life without confronting the issue.

I agree that there might be people who don't really care one way or another, but my concern (in this context) isn't really them. I'm more concerned with people who find themselves accidentally begging the question by saying that gods might be able to exist.

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todangst wrote:A falsifiable

todangst wrote:
A falsifiable theistic claim must be a naturalistic claim, period. So by 'quasi-supernatural' all I realy mean is a completely naturalistic term, that is still, somehow, hazily imagined to be supernatural by the theist.


And in that case, the claim itself is still naturalistic, regardless of the distance between the theist and reality.


todangst wrote:
You see this all the time on our boards. Theists will argue for a god that is natural and supernatural.  They admit that they can't talk about the supernatural part.
In brief: they are inconsistent.  Orwellian doublethink. Really, there's nothing more to it, which is why theists tend to stamp their feet when you press them on this issue.

Stamping feet really isn't an argument, it's true. But can there be something that both exists in the natural world, and somehow also "participates" in a non-natural world? Obviously we're ignorant even of the verbs we might be able to apply to such a nonsensical separate reality, but if you know of any such notion (separate from pure figments of imagination) then the theist might have an opening.

I can't conceive of it myself, but my lack of imagination or experience isn't the issue.

todangst wrote:
This is precisely why 'crazy' people are crazy. Because psychological defenses need not be rational.  And make no mistake, arguing with a theist over 'his god' is entering into his psyche... after, our position is that 'god' is a creation of the theist's mind.... so we are not encountering just reason, or arguments... we are attacking part of a person's mind...

I mean, did you ever wonder why theists take atheism so personal? Then again, I think you already knew that...

Yes. There's another clinical psychologist on the boards, and I'll ask you the same question I asked him: do you ever get tired of the mechanism of projection, or would that be like getting tired of air? It must be so ubiquitous, seeing as normal conversation is so full of projection. A therapeutic context seems like it would be even more prone.

todangst wrote:
I agree. But then theists go on to make falsifiable claims about an old white guy with a beard. While theists define their god incoherently, and claim to believe in this incoherency, in reality, they believe in an utterly Thor-like demi god, who walks, talks, presumably even has a penis, etc.  A god that thinks just like them.. .wouldn't you know it!?

It's not surprising, but it's easy to show for its foolishness. Do there exist invisible penises? Well, no. Anything we call a penis has certain other characteristics that preclude it being invisible. If it's invisible, it's not a penis. Therefore, whatever this invisible creature has, it's not a penis. That argument holds for any other physical characteristics.

It's not like you don't know these things, I'm just saying that we seem to have covered not only the lame explanation (a god), but the more easily believable explanation (projection + wishful thinking + parental-superego + ...  ). This is, quite literally, a child blaming an invisible friend for stealing the cookies in the cookie jar.

todangst wrote:
I agree, but then, the theist is not wiling to follow his own defintion here, mainly because he can't.


Exactly. The only avenue for discussion of something ill-defined or undefinable is basically raving. It's fine to read "twas brillig and the slithy toves did gyle and gimble in the wabe" as a fun play on meaninglessness, but to take it seriously is completely unreasonable.



todangst wrote:
I agree with you here - but then again, one might argue that atheism and theism make no sense, and that the only position is to call the matter sheer nonsense....



I guess my conclusion was showing: I think the argument is really coherent vs. incoherent, when it comes down to it, simply because atheism is forced to define itself by exclusion from a mad, semi-hallucinated figment of a wish.



todangst wrote:
But then this leaves the matter of billions of theists continuing to make positive, falsifialbe assertions....

I still contend that they would only be making falsifiable assertions if they refrained from including gods. By definition, then, a theist cannot be coherent in that context. Gods are necessarily and categorically incoherent, and thus application of any verb, or association with any adjective produces pure fantasy.

todangst wrote:
It's no easy matter to decide.

I disagree. Pretty sure we can call this one. I'll try and think of counter-examples in the mean time.

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todangst wrote:hiswillness

todangst wrote:

hiswillness wrote:

 

This topic has been bothering me recently. Doesn't "weak" atheism simply reduce to "strong" atheism? If you have George Smith's understanding (also held by our own todangst) that religious language is meaningless, and if even the probability exists that non-material creatures somehow might "exist" in whatever sense they could, and even if you're just giving the concept of gods a fair shake ... can one really say that they are a "weak" atheist?

 I have given this very line of reasoning serious thought.

 How is it that 1) religious language is meaningless and yet 2) atheists tend to give responses to theistic claims as if they are meaningful

In other words, why is there a split between the response of atheists, from the Dawkins/Stenger group (who argue that theistic claims are meaningful, and therefore, falsifiable) and the "separate magistrata" group, (of which Stephen Gould was a member) who hold that theistic claims are non falsifiable and outside of scientific perview?


Here is the reason: theists are inconsistent with their assertions out of logical necessity.

Yes, by their definitions, supernatural terms are incoherent. However, seeing as they are incoherent, the theist cannot actually employ supernatural meaning in his discourse.  The theist must employ one of the oldest and most dishonest entrepreneurial maneuvers known: a bait and switch.

The theists' supernatural terms are incoherent, but the theist actually puts forth a materialistic/naturalistic god in his arguments.

"god" responds to prayers.

"god" rewards good people, punishes the bad.

And so on. We can forget that 'god" as defined in supernatural terms, is incoherent... the theist implicitly realizes this (without awareness). The theist switches out the incoherent term and instead puts forth a superman, who in turn, is responsible for some phenomena. 'god', as a superman, listens to your prayers. He heals believers. Etc. The actual claim is entirely naturalistic, its causal. Ergo falsifiable. Ergo our confusion.


This explains why the atheistic response is in a sense schizophrenic. We are not replying to one argument, but two in one, a bait in switch, a coherent claim (that is purely natural and therefore, not god at all) for an incoherent one (a supernatural one).

 

For this reason, it may well be necessary to say that supernatural terms are incoherent  - which justifies strong atheism, but quasi-supernatural claims are falsifiable/plausible, possibly justifying weak atheism.

 

It is interesting that the confusion is born of accepting that theist claim makes sense... the principal of generosity, which demands that we view our opponent in argument as coherent/sane was unfounded in this case.

 

That is a good explanation Todangst. Does a negative theologian like myself choose to be irrational out of a desire to prove I have free will? Is choosing when to be irrational the only real freedom we have? Would you say that religious belief is equivalent to hypnosis? Suppose I imagine in my mind that I am serving God and doing good works out of love, and I like "tricking myself" into loving others more, does it really boil down to fear of hell as my ultimate motivation? The classic teaching is that we are given a pass so now we have a reason to pass the love onto others. Is this just a passive-aggressive kind of love at heart?


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HisWillness wrote:This topic

HisWillness wrote:

This topic has been bothering me recently. Doesn't "weak" atheism simply reduce to "strong" atheism? If you have George Smith's understanding (also held by our own todangst) that religious language is meaningless, and if even the probability exists that non-material creatures somehow might "exist" in whatever sense they could, and even if you're just giving the concept of gods a fair shake ... can one really say that they are a "weak" atheist?

Saying you're only 99.999999999% sure that gravity will continue to work is admirable humility, but when do we say we're "agnostic" towards gravity or have a "negative" belief in some alternative to gravity?

It's my contention that weak atheism reduces to strong atheism, but I invite any criticism on that point.

Ok. I read the link, and at the risk of double-posting I wrote up thr following post that I think might apply.

butterbattle wrote:
The definitions of atheism and agnosticism are debatable. 

My perspective on these terms is also widely accepted. In fact, they are the official position of this website.

http://www.rationalresponders.com/am_i_agnostic_or_atheist 

It seems that members of RRS may have bought into the following concept
excerpted from this site's "Am I agnostic or atheist?" (It doesn't matter whether or not you did read that link, the concept remains the same, regardless of that.)

"But one thing that dictionaries usually do not do is provide a rigorous philosophical justification for every definition listed. And that's just one reason why citing a dictionary in a theological or philosophical conversation is not the proper way to settle an issue: First, you're not providing a source that actually provides a philosophical justification for the definition, they are merely citing common usage."

It is erroneous to state that a "philosophical justification for the definition" of Atheism or ANY WORD
equates to understanding the meaning/definition of ANY word.

I've cited the reasons this site's "philosophy" that a dictionary is inadequate to understand the meaning of the word Atheism very clearly in detail below.

I grant you, there may be VERY slight differences as to the definition of Atheism. Open up any dictionary and you will find VERY SLIGHT differences definig ANY WORD.

It could be rightly said that the differences in the definition of Atheism are not significant for the following reasons:

1. The DEFINITION OF Atheism is not a philosophy in itself.

2. The DEFINITION OF Atheism is not a matter involving deductive reasoning or logic, beyond the (certain) disbelief in deities.

3. The DEFINITION OF Atheism is not a matter involving the whys and wherefors of the disbelief in deities.

4. As per #'s 1, 2, and 3 above, the responses involving that which the DEFINITION of Atheism does NOT involve, are totally irrelevant with regard to the DEFINITION of Atheism.

5. Atheism barely qualifies as a philosophy. The reasons for Atheism are philosophical to varying degrees, but those REASONS do NOT DEFINE "Atheism".

PERHAPS I MUSUNDERSTOOD YOUR INTENT, and you DO want to discuss philosophy, but I maintain it doesn't effecr the definition of Atheism.

The weak strong thing is an interesting juxtapose of philosophical views, but these are entirely personal views expressed in quasi-English. That's ok, but
we can't equate o philosophy with the definition of Atheism. Doing so has been explained as erronous.


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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Implicit in your claim of "ridiculousness" is that there is evidence that you rejected. Otherwise you have nothing to base "ridiculousness" on.

Not true. The ridiculousness is based purely on internal inconsistency. Take the Judeo-Christian God, for example. Even if we bypass the idea that he's male (ridiculous), he's both perfectly loving (ridiculous) and jealous (double ridiculous).

You can not make the claim of inconsistency without admitting that you had evidence presented to you. Evidence, along with a definition was presented, and you rejected it.


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todangst wrote:hiswillness

todangst wrote:

hiswillness wrote:

 

This topic has been bothering me recently. Doesn't "weak" atheism simply reduce to "strong" atheism? If you have George Smith's understanding (also held by our own todangst) that religious language is meaningless, and if even the probability exists that non-material creatures somehow might "exist" in whatever sense they could, and even if you're just giving the concept of gods a fair shake ... can one really say that they are a "weak" atheist?

 I have given this very line of reasoning serious thought.

 How is it that 1) religious language is meaningless and yet 2) atheists tend to give responses to theistic claims as if they are meaningful

In other words, why is there a split between the response of atheists, from the Dawkins/Stenger group (who argue that theistic claims are meaningful, and therefore, falsifiable) and the "separate magistrata" group, (of which Stephen Gould was a member) who hold that theistic claims are non falsifiable and outside of scientific perview?


Here is the reason: theists are inconsistent with their assertions out of logical necessity.

Yes, by their definitions, supernatural terms are incoherent. However, seeing as they are incoherent, the theist cannot actually employ supernatural meaning in his discourse.  The theist must employ one of the oldest and most dishonest entrepreneurial maneuvers known: a bait and switch.

No, the reason is much simpler then you propose. Dawkins/Stenger are part of a more militant group of atheists who are hostile to theism for personal reasons. These people feel a need to "prove" their position. It is a simple matter of their own psychological needs and has nothing to do with theists.


Considering you have given this a lot of thought it is remarkable that you borrowed your answer. The notion that God is supernatural and therefore not part of "reality" is hardly a new idea. The supposition that God exists outside of our physics and is able to intersect with our physics at will is not incoherent. It may not be believable to some, but that does not make it incoherent. Someone can create coherent and untrue thoughts.
 


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BobSpence1 wrote:I think if

BobSpence1 wrote:

I think if one wants to get serious about trying to characterize the nuances of attitude to God(s), there are arguably at least three dimensions to belief/disbelief.

1. The personal assessment of the balance of the evidence, 100% points to God, to no God, somewhere in between; 50% would signify similar weight of evidence pointing either way, etc. -> atheist vs theist.

2. Assessed strength/amount of evidence. -> agnostic vs gnostic(?).

http://www.rationalresponders.com/forum/17722?page=1#comment-247958


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todangst wrote:JillSwift

todangst wrote:

JillSwift wrote:

 

"God" has so many meanings that it's absurd. The definition for "god" will change even while talking to a single theist in a single conversation.

I see you've already hit upon my point.

I think there is value added to saying precisely how they move the goalposts..

 

"god" is incoherently defined,  so as to avoid refutation.... this gives us the separte magistrata argument that Gould swallowed like a fish. THis argument says "theistic claims are unexaminable, we just have to accept them."

Or God is arbitrarily labeled "incoherent" so as to avoid the truth.


 


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todangst wrote:OrdinaryClay

todangst wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Hambydammit wrote:

Having said that, I'll point out that we are far more certain that there is no god than we are of many things in science that are declared as fact and accepted by pretty much everybody with a brain. 

Your certainty is purely based  on faith.

Isn't that a rather hollow complaint, coming from a theist?

I'm not complaining. A fear of faith funnels people to an assumption that faith is bad.


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OrdinaryClay wrote:Or God is

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Or God is arbitrarily labeled "incoherent" so as to avoid the truth.



We've asked you quite a number of times to provide a coherent definition that could be applied to any gods, much less one specific god, and you don't have anything. I mean, neither do I, but don't imagine that we're using the label "incoherent" without reason. It's incoherent because its internally inconsistent. If you want to argue about whether it's internally inconsistent, go ahead.



Actually, maybe you can help: if you know of some way a being can exist and not exist simultaneously, that would be our "god", I imagine, but then how would we differentiate between gods and fantasy?

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OrdinaryClay

OrdinaryClay wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Implicit in your claim of "ridiculousness" is that there is evidence that you rejected. Otherwise you have nothing to base "ridiculousness" on.

Not true. The ridiculousness is based purely on internal inconsistency. Take the Judeo-Christian God, for example. Even if we bypass the idea that he's male (ridiculous), he's both perfectly loving (ridiculous) and jealous (double ridiculous).

You can not make the claim of inconsistency without admitting that you had evidence presented to you. Evidence, along with a definition was presented, and you rejected it.


Yeah. I rejected it because it's ridiculous! How would I apply evidence to something internally inconsistent? You can't. You can't have evidence for something that can't be consistently described. It's impossible.


Whether or not I was presented with evidence is irrelevant once we've determined that we don't even know what we'd be applying the evidence to.

 

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OrdinaryClay wrote:The

OrdinaryClay wrote:
The notion that God is supernatural and therefore not part of "reality" is hardly a new idea. The supposition that God exists outside of our physics and is able to intersect with our physics at will is not incoherent. It may not be believable to some, but that does not make it incoherent.



Okay, how? How does God (a term referencing an entity you cannot have any experience with) interact with the physical world? That would completely dismantle my argument, because then we'd have our being that can both exist and not exist.

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todangst wrote:HisWillness

todangst wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

 

I'm still having a hard time allowing that quasi-supernatural terms can be any more coherent than supernatural terms. After all, the object to which the terms are being applied has no reference with regards to the terms. For instance, even if we say "This god has arms", we have a problem. Despite our applying terms that in a natural setting would be falsifiable, simply by virtue of the fact that we've brought the conceptual black-hole that is a god into the equation, we're at a loss to figure out what kind of arms, and how they'd be attached, and all sorts of other nonsense.

A falsifiable theistic claim must be a naturalistic claim, period. So by 'quasi-supernatural' all I realy mean is a completely naturalistic term, that is still, somehow, hazily imagined to be supernatural by the theist. 

You see this all the time on our boards. Theists will argue for a god that is natural and supernatural.  They admit that they can't talk about the supernatural part.


In brief: they are inconsistent.

There is nothing inherently inconsistent about a belief in the supernatural. It may be incomplete, but this does not automatically imply inconsistency.

 


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It seems clear to me now

It seems clear to me now that the weak atheist position is nothing more than Sophist exploitation of good scientific training. The epistemological humility instilled by training in a scientific discipline is, in my opinion, unequaled. Unfortunately, such humility leaves the scientist open to Sophist attack.

The Sophist can argue that we haven't looked under every single stone for gods, so there's still the slightest possibility that such a thing could exist. Our well-trained scientist must concede that, since knowledge is only gained through hard-fought searching and careful determination of evidence, that the Sophist is right. "After all," the scientist reflects, "if we haven't discovered something, how can we determine whether or not it's there?"

But what's this? Our dear scientist has been tricked! All the Sophist needed to do was invoke the word "god" and the sleight-of-hand was complete. Being a well-trained scientist, only the logistics of the epistemological problem become a concern. It would never occur to the scientist that the question being asked was completely inappropriate, or, in fact, completely devoid of meaning. The scientist only acknowledges that there could exist something unknown (which is a given).

So what went wrong? It's difficult to see at first, but the Sophist doesn't actually present a hypothesis. Did you catch it? Making a hypothesis out of nonsense words discounts it immediately as untestable, and thus not a hypothesis.

The term "god" has two avenues of definition, it seems: either it is defined as supernatural (in which case it is beyond the purview of our dear scientist) or it is undefinable and is likewise out of reach.

Now you may ask yourself, "but how does that preclude the existence of such entities? Just because we can't formulate the question doesn't mean something doesn't exist!" But now you, too, have fallen for the Sophist's trick.

Gods as defined -- and they are defined as supernatural entities, make no mistake -- do not exist for the simple reason that the supernatural isn't a "place". There is, in fact, no difference between the supernatural and non-existence. Saying something is "supernatural" is in effect saying it doesn't exist.

If we were to consider gods to be natural, then the scientist would be justified in reasoning that gods were simply things that might some day be discovered. But this is not the case. Gods can never be discovered, as they are not part of the natural world by definition.

Can such entities exist? Unless there can be an entity that simultaneously exists and does not exist, no. Since there is absolutely no difference between that type of entity and pure fantasy, we're left with an easy conclusion: there is no reason to adopt a weak position on atheism.

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OrdinaryClay wrote:There is

OrdinaryClay wrote:
There is nothing inherently inconsistent about a belief in the supernatural. It may be incomplete, but this does not automatically imply inconsistency.


There is nothing inconsistent about the belief in the supernatural, no. But the supernatural is, in itself, incoherent.


Todangst was saying that the argument for the supernatural is inconsistent.

 

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HisWillness

HisWillness wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:

HisWillness wrote:

OrdinaryClay wrote:
Implicit in your claim of "ridiculousness" is that there is evidence that you rejected. Otherwise you have nothing to base "ridiculousness" on.

Not true. The ridiculousness is based purely on internal inconsistency. Take the Judeo-Christian God, for example. Even if we bypass the idea that he's male (ridiculous), he's both perfectly loving (ridiculous) and jealous (double ridiculous).

You can not make the claim of inconsistency without admitting that you had evidence presented to you. Evidence, along with a definition was presented, and you rejected it.

 

Yeah. I rejected it because it's ridiculous! How would I apply evidence to something internally inconsistent? You can't. You can't have evidence for something that can't be consistently described. It's impossible.

 

Whether or not I was presented with evidence is irrelevant once we've determined that we don't even know what we'd be applying the evidence to.

 

You just claimed claimed the evidence to be inconsistent. This is an admission that you accepted some definition of God otherwise you would not of been able to determine it was inconsistent.


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OrdinaryClay wrote:Will

OrdinaryClay wrote:

Will wrote:
Yeah. I rejected it because it's ridiculous! How would I apply evidence to something internally inconsistent? You can't. You can't have evidence for something that can't be consistently described. It's impossible.

Whether or not I was presented with evidence is irrelevant once we've determined that we don't even know what we'd be applying the evidence to.

You just claimed claimed the evidence to be inconsistent. This is an admission that you accepted some definition of God otherwise you would not of been able to determine it was inconsistent.


No, I said the definition was internally inconsistent. The definition is internally inconsistent, so evidence cannot apply. At all. Ever.

 

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Am I being too long-winded?

Am I being too long-winded? Try this: the only way for gods to exist is if gods don't exist.


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HisWillness wrote:Eloise

HisWillness wrote:

Eloise wrote:

No !in caps! I mean that disapproval is a function of some stuff that is entailed in a world and a god in the world that entails that function has a capacity for disapproval. In the sense that it's a way of being mostly.

Oh, okay. But I don't get that last part. Are you referring to the god's way of being?

er.. yes and no, mostly no. It's god's way of being only from the point of view of god and the universe being just one entity, but I wasn't really referring to that sense here.

More specifically I was referring to ways of being as a reduction of a world to the dynamic interplay of value sets. In this regard a capacity for antipodal positioning is intrinsic to there being players in the dynamic.  So to say that if, for instance,every possible thing existed in the sense that no one thing had any kind of oppositional relationship to another identity would be meaningless, you would not have worlds of individuals without a divide, right?

The law of identity entails non contradiction because any given extant necessarily entails the implication that there exists some other thing it is not. By this logic our "disapprovals" and like constructs are fundamental to everything we take for granted as human existence. Without it, how would we even 'know that we are'?

HisWillness wrote:

Eloise wrote:
Speaking plainly, however, the sense in which we disapprove of some given value is otherwise meaningless to my god because what, then, does it do for existence?

Certainly nothing. I'm still not claiming that my finding terms meaningless necessitates the non-existence of the things they reference. That wouldn't be well-founded. I'm claiming that strong disbelief is justified in cases where you have a combination of meaninglessness and zero evidence, which is the case I present for gods.

That seems prudent to me. I'd say I might call myself an atheist, too, in that regard. For example I find in the event that a theist is nakedly asserting the absolute notion of a bigoted maniac to me as their god coupled with the request that I surrender to his gentility and compassion I find the whole thing so absurd I'm inclined to rest a strong negation on the logic that it's just too ludicrous to contemplate.

HisWillness wrote:

Eloise wrote:
By the by, wasn't the topic of this thread somehing totally unrelated?

No! In caps! You're the only one I know of who might be able to furnish us with a god that has a meaningful definition. I'm looking for a counter-example.

I can only try, and hope that our agreement on most things doesn't gloss over the distinctions, as is usually the case when we get into these discussions.

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Hambydammit wrote: Quote:No

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Quote:
No !in caps! I mean that disapproval is a function of some stuff ....

Ow.

How did that hurt, Hamby?

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todangst wrote: I have

todangst wrote:
I have given this very line of reasoning serious thought.

 

How is it that 1) religious language is meaningless and yet 2) atheists tend to give responses to theistic claims as if they are meaningful

 

In other words, why is there a split between the response of atheists, from the Dawkins/Stenger group (who argue that theistic claims are meaningful, and therefore, falsifiable) and the "separate magistrata" group, (of which Stephen Gould was a member) who hold that theistic claims are non falsifiable and outside of scientific perview?

 

In all honesty, I really do not care much for either of those options.

 

The Dawkins group tends to come off to me as if they can provide an answer to any position. Yet not all positions even deserve the trouble of trying to come up with an answer. Sure, it may be true that a specific position can be refuted but that does not have to apply universally to all positions at all times.

 

Consider that a few hundred years ago, it was fairly broadly accepted that lightning was in some manner the finger of god coming down to punish the wicked. Today, nobody who advanced such a position would (or at least should) be taken seriously. However, prior to the discovery of the lightning rod, I don't see much in favor of falsification. The best that I can come up with would be that churches tend to be the tallest building around and far from the tree line, thus churches would be hit more often that other buildings. However, that is a pretty weak argument based on the assumption presented as it also applies to barns.

 

On the other hand, the separate magisterial position seems weak to me as well. It carries the assumption that there is something that is inherently apart from rational discourse and therefore off limits to inquiry. Sure, a chemist may not have a whole lot to say, within his professional context, about whether you should be nice to people. However, that issue is fully peripheral to the reason for introducing the distinction.

 

Really, it is introduced for the purpose of creating some type of “no man's land” in between those who embrace rationality and those who don't. From a scientific view, it could be seen as an refusal to cover certain ground, basically saying “we don't want to go there”. From the theistic view, it is almost like digging a moat around one's castle and filling with hungry alligators, pretty much hanging out the ultimate in “no trespassing” signs.

 

I suppose that that would be fine as it is but where should that line be drawn? For the theistically inclined, it should be drawn so large as to encompass all and it only gets pulled back when the rationalist crowd makes an incursion into claimed territory. Pretty much, it leads right to the god of the gaps. As long as there is one square inch of ground for the theists to stand upon, then there is something that can be accounted for under the idea of “god did it”.

 

 

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 Quote:How did that hurt,

 

Quote:
How did that hurt, Hamby?

Will seems to have (kind of) gotten it, but honestly, I looked at the sentence about five or six times, trying to figure out what refered to what, and what was a function of what, and I finally gave up.  Admittedly, I was trying to interpret it with the word "function" being used in its mathematical sense, so maybe that's where I went wrong.  Anyway, it hurt because I tried really hard to figure it out grammatically and sensically, and failed at both.

 

 

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I've never heard of any

I've never heard of any consistent definition of what would be required for an entity to be considered "god." Not the definition of god itself, but just a laundry list of minimum requirements for something to be qualified for the position of "god."

"Creator of the universe," is one that's often trotted out. Okay, that's fine and dandy. But what if the "creator of the universe" was a process that lacked self-awareness, rather than a sentient being? That doesn't sound like a sufficient requirement. So, "sentience" seems to be a requirement, as well.

Is that it? Is that all that's required to be god? A sentient being that created the universe? Or does a god require some direct connection to us?

I'm just askin'. There's no way to come up with a coherent description of a god without at least a standard minimum set of requirements. A "litmus test for godhood," if you will.

More on-topic, your proposed lack of distinction between "strong" and "weak" atheists is based entirely on logic and, more generally, epistemology. What about people who didn't arrive at their atheism logically? Could they not be "weak atheists," in the sense that their evidence in the nonexistence of god is the same as a theist's evidence for the existence of god -- they "feel" it?

I'm just askin'.

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 Weak atheism doesn't imply

 Weak atheism doesn't imply a weak foundation for atheism, so "intuitive atheist" might be a better term for the people you describe.  Calling them weak atheists will only muddy the waters, even if that's technically what they are.  In other words, if they just "feel like" there's no god, their feeling probably comes from the fact that the evidence doesn't add up for them, but they've never bothered to think it through and recognize their own thought process.  So, they're probably weak atheists, but consciously, they're "intuitive atheists."

Just thought I'd run that up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes.

 

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Hambydammit wrote: Weak

Hambydammit wrote:

 Weak atheism doesn't imply a weak foundation for atheism, so "intuitive atheist" might be a better term for the people you describe.  Calling them weak atheists will only muddy the waters, even if that's technically what they are.  In other words, if they just "feel like" there's no god, their feeling probably comes from the fact that the evidence doesn't add up for them, but they've never bothered to think it through and recognize their own thought process.  So, they're probably weak atheists, but consciously, they're "intuitive atheists."

Just thought I'd run that up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes.

I absolutely didn't mean "weak foundation." Mostly, I meant, "has room for doubts based on their epistemology." It seems to me that Will's argument holds for those who come to the atheist conclusion using logic, but might not apply to those who do not use logic. This assumes a weak atheist is one who personally believes there is no god, but believes others might have good reasons to be theist. An "intuitive atheist" may also be a strong atheist, if they believe god absolutely does not exist based on a feeling, and that theists are deluding themselves. Their foundation would be weak, but their belief strong.

I like the "intuitive" vs "rational" atheist distinction, too.

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Hambydammit wrote: Just

Hambydammit wrote:

 

Just thought I'd run that up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes.

 

12 angry men?

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