Finally, a good argument.

Fiend
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Finally, a good argument.

I was reformatting my friend's brain the other day over the internet by throwing all sorts of evidence at him, trying to make him join the freethinking side. Even though in every dispute I pretty much pwned him, he still made sort of a legit point that may sound illogical but made me think for a moment and first time in a while of debating I didn't quite know what to say.

Here's how it went: I demanded evidence and said that unlike him, my mind was open, and if Jesus descended and cured some guys' blindness in front of me I probably would start "beliveing". So he said, "If all evidence was lost and years later you'd want to teach your child the "ultimate truth", wouldn't they be behaving exactly like you, saying "yeah I need evidence, buddy!" ?". In other words, even if the evidence existed you still refuse to believe it nowdays because so much time has passed. You're the "disobedient" child that the "father", witness of the miracles, (in our case that would be religion in general) is trying to teach.

So anyways for me that seemed like a logical argument and so I'd like to hear some thoughts on this. I'm not ready to give up on atheism yet Eye-wink


Yiab
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Here's the problem I

Here's the problem I see:

If you had a hallucination about seeing Jesus raising the dead and curing lepers so vivid and complete that you were convinced it was real, but years later you tried to teach your child the "ultimate truth" and your child looked for contradicting evidence but it had been so many years later that all the evidence that this was a hallucination had been lost.

 

Here's another:

If you decided that the world would be a better place if everyone believed in this one miracle-worker whose existence and works you've fabricated out of whole cloth and started teaching everyone about his life and works and fabricating "relics" of his, then years later you were teaching your child about it and the inconsistencies in the "relics" you fabricated (like that it was made thousands of miles away from where you said it was found) have been forgotten in the intervening decades, they might be tempted to believe you.

 

How about this one:

God, who desires that people believe in and love him, feels that providing a great healer who is obviously supernatural to one particular generation will not damage their faith. Unfortunately, God later changes his mind and later thinks that maybe providing people with convincing evidence of his existence wasn't such a good idea, so he stops providing evidence. Thousands of years later, peoples' faith is waning, but instead of providing the miracles he found so appropriate before, he decides to induce hallucinations in a few people who already believe in him so that they can try to convince people and get rich in the process. A lot of people do follow these few chosen, but a lot don't, too. When the people who don't believe start doing things he doesn't like, he doesn't speak to them directly or provide another obvious miracle to convince them to stop their sinful ways, instead he kills thousands of children in a natural disaster. God is very careful through all this to only do things which could be attributed to nature, though, because unlike in previous generations he doesn't want people to actually have any evidence.

 

What do you think? 


MisterDax
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Nice argument, but it is no excuse

There are two reasons why the argument doesn't quite work. The first reason is the possibility of dishonesty and the second reason is that the evidence is still missing.

The first reason about possible dishonesty is quite obvious. Any one could always claim that they had evidence, but not anymore. Because the evidence is gone, it becomes very difficult or impossible to find out wheter the evidence existed in the first place.

The second reason is quite obvious: The evidence is still lacking. By the way, your friend made quite unfair scenario. The "disobidient child" is asking for evidence, while the "wise father" knows the truth. Thefore the scenario is already labeling the participant. However, to the evidence (or lack there of). If any evidence have existed, but not anymore, one cannot insist others to believe the claim without evidence. Atleast one should be able to prove that evidence have actually existed and that the evidence was valid.

I know that the situation of disappeared evidence is quite unsettling, because it prevents us to find out the truth. We are not all-knowing and therefore any evidence should be atleast documented for further and future review.


todangst
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Fiend wrote:   Here's how

Fiend wrote:

 
Here's how it went: I demanded evidence and said that unlike him, my mind was open, and if Jesus descended and cured some guys' blindness in front of me I probably would start "beliveing". So he said, "If all evidence was lost and years later you'd want to teach your child the "ultimate truth", wouldn't they be behaving exactly like you, saying "yeah I need evidence, buddy!" ?".

And why is their behavior wrong?

Why is a 'god' working in such a way that it can be honestly doubted that he existed, when said god wants people to know he existed?

You see, the problem is this: This 'god' creates his people with rational minds, and then works in such a way that their rational minds honestly doubt him.

So the problem  here is that this god is responsible for the outcomes.

If the theist responds by saying "But god wants faith" then you have to ask 1) How you can KNOW this if this god only wants you to believe on faith and 2) why then are we blaming rational people for not believing?

The real problem here is that a 'god' that wants people to know of his existence would simply make his existence known.

Here's a question to ask your friend: Do you have any problems proving you exist? If not, then why do your god have such a problem? 

Quote:
 

In other words, even if the evidence existed you still refuse to believe it nowdays because so much time has passed.


Refuse to believe? That makes it seem that belief is just a choice. It is not. You can't believe what you don't believe, you're not free to believe whatever you want.

The fact is, the children would have good reason not to believe an incredible claim without any evidence.

 

Quote:
 

You're the "disobedient" child that the "father", witness of the miracles, (in our case that would be religion in general) is trying to teach.

The child is not disobedient. The child is rational.

I find it fascinating that disobedience comes up, because this is precisely Dawkins' hypothesis: that irrational belief is born of the drive in children to trust in their parents. 

 

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


Hambydammit
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Todangst, Have you done a

Todangst,

Have you done a book page dealing with the definition and nature of belief?

If not, I think it would be a worthwhile project, and another really wonderful post for all the theists to ignore.

 

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

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todangst
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Hambydammit

Hambydammit wrote:

Todangst,

Have you done a book page dealing with the definition and nature of belief?

If not, I think it would be a worthwhile project, and another really wonderful post for all the theists to ignore.

 

That's a good idea. Look at all the common myths theistic arguments rely on:

Beliefs are volitional. You can believe whatever you want.

Certain beliefs or disbeliefs are a sin.

In particular, disagreeing with parents is disobedience/sinful. 

Believing without any justification is not only moral, but praiseworthy. (I'll quote the NT here)

 

 

 

"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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Can't wait to read it,

Can't wait to read it, Todangst!

 

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

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The points brought up by

The points brought up by Yiab, MisterDax and todangst are good ones. After thinking about it I realize that the problem is that whatever I say in retaliation, no matter how legitimate, can be turned against me; it's the wording thats the enemy here, sort of.

 If I was to tell him that it wasn't a very legit point because the evidence is still missing he would respond by saying "See, you can't know for sure". But I do know for sure. Or as sure as I will ever get that his belief is rediculous.

So unless I come up with a way to prove that the miracles were never performed, it is as if I "lose".


todangst
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Fiend wrote:   If I was

Fiend wrote:

 

If I was to tell him that it wasn't a very legit point because the evidence is still missing he would respond by saying "See, you can't know for sure".

If he says this, tell him he's committing the fallacy of arguing to uncertainty. The mere fact that we can't know for sure, is not a reason to hold to the belief! By his own logic, he must believe in Santa, the easter bunny, and any other claim ever made that cannot be completely disproven.

And he obviously does not think this way anywhere else. 

 So,  you have to have a reason to hold to a claim. If you don't have one, then you're justified in not believing it.

 

"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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I'm working on a theory to

I'm working on a theory to simplify atheist responses to theist arguments.  It seems to me that EVERY theist argument I've heard recently relies on one of two, or maybe three faulty cornerstones:

1) Defense by redefinition: The theist explains away contradictions by claiming that a word is not properly defined, and then not defining it.  

Ex: Theist: God does not experience emotions the way man does.

Atheist: Ok, how does he experience them?

Theist: Not like man.

This is not a definition, or a redefinition.  It is simply avoiding the contradiction by claiming that it doesn't exist.

Note: this encompasses the argument that knowledge can come from sources other than logic, since logic is, by definition, the description of the thought processes that lead to deductive knowledge.  One must redefine knowledge to accept this theist argument!

 2) Defense by Burden of Proof:  This is where the theist claims that he must be proven wrong.  The problem with this becomes self evident when one considers the possibility that the theist is correct.

a) A thing must be proven false before it can be disbelieved.

b) There is no possibility of completely disproving a thing without omniscience.

c) Since humans are not omniscient, nothing can be disproven.

d) Therefore, everything must be believed.

e) Some things are contradictory.

f) Therefore, anything that has a possible contradiction is both true and false.

g) Therefore, knowledge is meaningless.

It gets really nasty when you realize that if a theist is correct, you can also posit that:

Some things are both contradictory and not contradictory.

It gets really nasty from there.

Anyway, I can't think of any theist arguments I've heard that don't eventually reduce to one of those two faulty premises.  Maybe you know of more?

 

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

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Fiend wrote: So unless I

Fiend wrote:

So unless I come up with a way to prove that the miracles were never performed, it is as if I "lose".

This goes back to "you can't prove a negative" and "the proof of the positive rests on the claimant."

If your friend says miracles happened, it is up to him/her to prove it.  It is not up to you to disprove it. 

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Fiend wrote: I was

Fiend wrote:

I was reformatting my friend's brain the other day over the internet by throwing all sorts of evidence at him, trying to make him join the freethinking side. Even though in every dispute I pretty much pwned him, he still made sort of a legit point that may sound illogical but made me think for a moment and first time in a while of debating I didn't quite know what to say.

Here's how it went: I demanded evidence and said that unlike him, my mind was open, and if Jesus descended and cured some guys' blindness in front of me I probably would start "beliveing". So he said, "If all evidence was lost and years later you'd want to teach your child the "ultimate truth", wouldn't they be behaving exactly like you, saying "yeah I need evidence, buddy!" ?". In other words, even if the evidence existed you still refuse to believe it nowdays because so much time has passed. You're the "disobedient" child that the "father", witness of the miracles, (in our case that would be religion in general) is trying to teach.

So anyways for me that seemed like a logical argument and so I'd like to hear some thoughts on this. I'm not ready to give up on atheism yet Eye-wink

The fatal flaw here is that evidence of super naturalism would be super natural by definition. And so, could not be affected naturally, if at all. Therefore unequivocal evidence of a god would be indestructable to our perceptions and capabilities. If such evidence existed, it would still exist. Even worse, just because the father saw floating pink elephants blowing bubbles, it doesn't mean it actually happened.

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Turn the example around: If

Turn the example around: If a little kid runs up to you and says he saw the flying spaghetti monster buying a Lotto ticket at Kroger's, would you take his word for it? That it's difficult to make a claim based on a single witness account doesn't make such a claim stronger.


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Thanks to everyone for

Thanks to everyone for advice. He lost. (Or as close as saying "Well what you say make sense but I still BELIEVE..." comes to a loss)


zarathustra
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And think about that. You

And think about that. You actually gave his "argument" a fair shake. His argument gets refuted (or at least he concedes the counter-argument "makes sense&quotEye-wink, but he still believes. If he still believes, he must not have relied on this argument himself in the first place -- and therefore, he shouldn't have presented it to you.

There are no theists on operating tables.

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