Debate and Discussion

Does Atheism "make sense" to you?
Ronson at 6:20AM, March 22, 2007
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kingofsnake
I really only wanted to hear one of the arguments, not have a tete a tete about all of them. You seem like an intelligent guy. I figured that if there was a specifically laudable argument in this book which you hold in such high esteem that you wouldn't really have any trouble providing it.

If you just don't feel like doing it that's fine.

Well, what would you like to debate:

1. That Hitler was probably not an atheist, but even if he were the actions he ordered were carried out mostly by Christians?

2. Einstein wasn't a theist, but rather a deist, and even probably an atheist?

3. The Bible is full of horrendous stories, where women are treated like possessions and killing someone who isn't a believer is all right?

4. Moderate religious folks - in creating their own loose interpretation of holy writings - open the door to fundamentalists to do the same thing?

5. Irreducible complexity is really just another way of saying you don't understand evolution?

6. Children born into families of religious persons should not be referred to by that religion when articles about them are printed in the paper?

7. Evolution is not about chance?

This is off the top of my head. I'm am certain that were I to spend a few more minutes I could double the list. I'm am equally sure that Dawkins argues at least twice that many points.

The only argument he put in the book that is somewhat weak is the one he also had trouble with and he says so. That's the problem of indocrtinating children in the religion of their parents. Though he thinks it would be better to teach children HOW to think instead of WHAT to think, he doesn't know how the problem can be tackled without draconian legislation. I think I believe a little stronger than he does that only the parents can decide how to raise their kids.

I also am not Richard Dawkins. I certainly don't have the facts at the tip of my fingers for a protracted argument about what Dawkins believes. Any debates I enter in to shouldn't be in defense of someone else, but rather my own views. Otherwise, I do a disservice to Dawkins and weaken my stance.

Your assertion was that he doesn't confront certain arguments, and I disagree. You cannot cite any, so I can't address my thoughts on whether you are correct or not. My suspicion is - based on you only reading a few pages - that he does address them and you didn't read those bits.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
kingofsnake at 7:28AM, March 22, 2007
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Ronson
1. That Hitler was probably not an atheist, but even if he were the actions he ordered were carried out mostly by Christians?

This is just an anti-christian statement, it doesn't have anything to do with theism

Ronson
2. Einstein wasn't a theist, but rather a deist, and even probably an atheist?

Why should someone else's beliefs affect my beliefs. This applies to point #1 as well.

Ronson
3. The Bible is full of horrendous stories, where women are treated like possessions and killing someone who isn't a believer is all right?

This is just an anti-christian statement, it doesn't have anything to do with theism

Ronson
4. Moderate religious folks - in creating their own loose interpretation of holy writings - open the door to fundamentalists to do the same thing?

This is anti-specific organized religion, not concepts of theology. On top of this, the fact that some people misinterpret something doesn't make the original message bad.

Ronson
5. Irreducible complexity is really just another way of saying you don't understand evolution?

I'm not sure what the point of this one is. Intelligent design theory isn't dogma, and even if it was it still wouldn't be a theistic argument. It would be an anti-christian argument. Evolutionary theory has absolutely no affects on Buddhism.

Ronson
6. Children born into families of religious persons should not be referred to by that religion when articles about them are printed in the paper?

I agree, but isn't this more of a social issue than a theological issue?

Ronson
7. Evolution is not about chance?

Same as my response to 5.

Ronson
This is off the top of my head. I'm am certain that were I to spend a few more minutes I could double the list. I'm am equally sure that Dawkins argues at least twice that many points.

The only argument he put in the book that is somewhat weak is the one he also had trouble with and he says so. That's the problem of indocrtinating children in the religion of their parents. Though he thinks it would be better to teach children HOW to think instead of WHAT to think, he doesn't know how the problem can be tackled without draconian legislation. I think I believe a little stronger than he does that only the parents can decide how to raise their kids.

I also am not Richard Dawkins. I certainly don't have the facts at the tip of my fingers for a protracted argument about what Dawkins believes. Any debates I enter in to shouldn't be in defense of someone else, but rather my own views. Otherwise, I do a disservice to Dawkins and weaken my stance.

Your assertion was that he doesn't confront certain arguments, and I disagree. You cannot cite any, so I can't address my thoughts on whether you are correct or not. My suspicion is - based on you only reading a few pages - that he does address them and you didn't read those bits.

These were the sort of arguments I saw him address. Measurable negative social rammifications of organized religion. Not theology. I know about negative social rammifications of organized religion. I also know about positive social rammifications of organized religion. Neither of these things strongly affect my decision to be religious. It's not about what other people do, it's about what you do. There are humans that make mistakes about what is right and wrong. This will happen whether everyone in the world is athiest, theist, or a mix of all of them.

It's like if I said that the reason prostitution was wrong was the negative social consequences of prostitution. If prostitution is wrong at all, it needs to be wrong regardless of how it affects society. If his book is simply meant to weigh the pros and cons of God and of religion to decide whether it is ultimately more destructive than constructive, thats one thing, and I might be willing to get into that discussion if I had enough time to gather all the nessecary social, historical, and liberal data nessecary to make an informed decision, and a reasonable argument one way or the other. I thought his object was to show that God was a delusion (hence the name of the book.) And it didn't look like he was doing that.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
reconjsh at 7:44AM, March 22, 2007
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It'd be nice if this topic turned back to something that everyone can talk about (who's interested, that is).


I've got a question for personal educationon on atheism -
If an atheist (or just you) had to choose one, what would be their (your) biggest disagreement: 1) the belief that there's a God at all (something divine instead of nothing); 2) that people have created countless religions about something they alledgedly know nothing about; 3) how religious people behave - especiailly when they think they're being religious and clearly don't know their own dogma; or 4) some singular other thing I missed?

And why is that your biggest disagreement?

(I tried to use non-bias words like ‘disagreement’, ‘alledgedly’, etc. If some bias snuck in, re-word it)
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
kingofsnake at 7:53AM, March 22, 2007
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T'were I an athiest (or agnostic) it would be because of option 2. It makes the most logical sense to me.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
Ronson at 8:13AM, March 22, 2007
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This is just an anti-christian statement, it doesn't have anything to do with theism

Not really. It is a true statement based on historical fact. It was his rebuttal for those who think atheism leads to evil acts.

But I take your point. He does explain why atheism is solidly grounded in reason and logic and religion isn't. You seem to agree, so there's nothing new there for you.

You are 100% wrong about intelligent design not having religious roots. You just don't understand where it came from or how it's being used as a wedge against secular beliefs.

You say that pointing out that the Bible is full of horrendous stories, historical inaccuracies sexism and arbitrary morality is an anti-Christian statement, and then say that there are no theological arguments posed. Well, the Bible is verifiably full of these stories, religion has it's roots on the Bible. If you are going to say that using the words of the holy book that is used in almost every major Christian religion is not the way to start a theological argument, I don't know what is.

What then, is a theological debate? Should we discuss how we “feel” about God and then decide who's “feelings” are better?

It's like if I said that the reason prostitution was wrong was the negative social consequences of prostitution. If prostitution is wrong at all, it needs to be wrong regardless of how it affects society.

Ah! There it is! Your blind spot. What is right and wrong if not applied to society? What is right and wrong? Some believe it's a list of things that a bunch of farmers, shepherds and fishermen allegedly said 2,000 years ago - but convieniently ignore the things they said that SOCIETY no longer agrees with.

Right and wrong - to an atheist - are measures of what is good or bad for society. There are historical precedents that things advocated in the Bible - sexism, homophobia, racism, slave ownership - have been proven harmful to society.

That's what I think you totally miss. Some theists will insist that they have some inner knowledge of God and that God tells them what is right and what is wrong. This is bunk, unless you believe there is a God and sometimes even if you do. To an atheist, it's the shakiest of arguments.

Let's take your case in regards to prostitution. You seem to think it is wrong. Why? Is it the idea of selling sex for money, or the fact that modern prostitution is almost always tied to drugs and disease? So, is it prostitution that is wrong, or the methods? If it's the idea that is wrong, what is wrong with it? Is it too icky?

Right and wrong are determined by society. There has never been any other measure. Religion has twisted and evolved to make way for social changes, not the other way around (though occasionally some religions shaped social change (to the detriment of other religions who then had to adapt)).

If his book is simply meant to weigh the pros and cons of God and of religion to decide whether it is ultimately more destructive than constructive, thats one thing, and I might be willing to get into that discussion if I had enough time to gather all the nessecary social, historical, and liberal data nessecary to make an informed decision, and a reasonable argument one way or the other. I thought his object was to show that God was a delusion (hence the name of the book.) And it didn't look like he was doing that.

I don't know what you're looking for. Dawkins strongest argument against religion is that he thinks the burden of proof should be upon those who want to convince us something exists. The atheist doesn't HAVE to prove nonexistence of God any more than the nonexistence of invisible teapots, Zues, or FSM.

This is not a new idea by any means. This has been said time and time again. It still has no credible refutation.

So Dawkins takes the classic and modern philosophical arguments for God - the Watchmaker, Intelligent Design … others that I forget. Then he expains why they are fallacies. Then he takes the arguments against atheism, and shows how they are flawed.

And a good chunk of the book is the harm that religion does, not so much on a societal level but on a personal one. By limiting rational thought, religion confines many people from truly understanding the world around them.

It may well be that Dawkins wrote a book that atheists can use to analize their own convictions on the matter somewhat deeper than we have on our own. It certainly struck a chord with me.

This book is also for the fence sitters, not the confirmed theists. Maybe that's why you didn't like the handful of sentences you read.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
kingofsnake at 9:04AM, March 22, 2007
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Ronson
But I take your point. He does explain why atheism is solidly grounded in reason and logic and religion isn't. You seem to agree, so there's nothing new there for you.

No, this is what I don't see him doing. I want to hear how he explains how athiesm is solidly grounded in logic more than theism (as opposed to religion). All I see him talking about is social rammifications of religion

Ronson
You are 100% wrong about intelligent design not having religious roots. You just don't understand where it came from or how it's being used as a wedge against secular beliefs.

You misunderstand. I don't mean to say intelligent design doesn't have religious roots, it pretty clearly does. I mean to say that intelligent design is not required to support any particular religion. It's just a new way to fill-in the scientific God-gaps. Proving intelligent design wrong does not quid pro quo proove all of religion wrong.

Ronson
You say that pointing out that the Bible is full of horrendous stories, historical inaccuracies sexism and arbitrary morality is an anti-Christian statement, and then say that there are no theological arguments posed. Well, the Bible is verifiably full of these stories, religion has it's roots on the Bible. If you are going to say that using the words of the holy book that is used in almost every major Christian religion is not the way to start a theological argument, I don't know what is.

Christianity has it's roots in the Bible. Buddhism doesn't. Judaism doesn't. None of the eastern religions do. I'm not interested in the Christian God. He has too many characteristics that need to be taken entirely on faith. I'm only interested in talking about the concept of a god. He's not instigating a debate on theology; he's instigating a debate on Christianity. How does any of this disprove gaia, or any of the other new age earth gods that have a bigger section in the bookstore than philosphy? Is he writing a book about athiesm or a book that's just anti-christian. Theres more to athiesm than not beliving in Jehovah.

Ronson
What then, is a theological debate? Should we discuss how we “feel” about God and then decide who's “feelings” are better?

The existence of a supernatural infinite being or force is the only thing I want to discuss.

The old guy with the beard. Jesus's ressurection. Reincarnation. The worth of the church. These are all good arguments but they do not affect the existence of a supernatural infinite being or force, because all any of them are are theories based on that existence.

Ronson
It's like if I said that the reason prostitution was wrong was the negative social consequences of prostitution. If prostitution is wrong at all, it needs to be wrong regardless of how it affects society.

Ah! There it is! Your blind spot. What is right and wrong if not applied to society? What is right and wrong? Some believe it's a list of things that a bunch of farmers, shepherds and fishermen allegedly said 2,000 years ago - but convieniently ignore the things they said that SOCIETY no longer agrees with.

Right and wrong - to an atheist - are measures of what is good or bad for society. There are historical precedents that things advocated in the Bible - sexism, homophobia, racism, slave ownership - have been proven harmful to society.

That's what I think you totally miss. Some theists will insist that they have some inner knowledge of God and that God tells them what is right and what is wrong. This is bunk, unless you believe there is a God and sometimes even if you do. To an atheist, it's the shakiest of arguments.

So if there is no society does that mean that there is no right and wrong? In Robinson Curusoe he taught Friday that cannibalism was wrong. Was he wrong to do so? Should he have just adapted to the rights and wrongs set by that society? In the wasteland a lone man happens upon a young woman in a cabin. There is no society. What's best for that man would be to rape and kill the woman and take her stuff. Theres no society to deem it wrong. You happen upon a child drowning. Is it right to let him drown in the wilderness, but not in park? I just don't see how that works, maybe if you could explain it better to me.

Ronson
Let's take your case in regards to prostitution. You seem to think it is wrong. Why? Is it the idea of selling sex for money, or the fact that modern prostitution is almost always tied to drugs and disease? So, is it prostitution that is wrong, or the methods? If it's the idea that is wrong, what is wrong with it? Is it too icky?

I think it's wrong because it treats an person as nothing more than a means, when by nature any person is more than a means. Prostitution would be equally wrong if I grew up a hermit, and then just happened upon a prostitute.

Ronson
Right and wrong are determined by society. There has never been any other measure. Religion has twisted and evolved to make way for social changes, not the other way around (though occasionally some religions shaped social change (to the detriment of other religions who then had to adapt)).

Lawful and unlawful are determined by society. Right and wrong are determined by morality. Our society could start telling us its ok to have slaves again, that doesn't make it right. Society has made mistakes about what was right and wrong in the past. 100 years from now society could deem it “right” to kill jews. That doesn't mean it's right. If society can make mistakes like that, what does it matter if religion doesn't hold the same rights that society holds? They could change soon anyway.

Ronson
If his book is simply meant to weigh the pros and cons of God and of religion to decide whether it is ultimately more destructive than constructive, thats one thing, and I might be willing to get into that discussion if I had enough time to gather all the nessecary social, historical, and liberal data nessecary to make an informed decision, and a reasonable argument one way or the other. I thought his object was to show that God was a delusion (hence the name of the book.) And it didn't look like he was doing that.

I don't know what you're looking for. Dawkins strongest argument against religion is that he thinks the burden of proof should be upon those who want to convince us something exists. The atheist doesn't HAVE to prove nonexistence of God any more than the nonexistence of invisible teapots, Zues, or FSM.

We don't have to prove he exists, we only have to prove that the possiblity he exists exists. The existence of an infinite supernatural being or force easily answers otherwise unanswerable questions like “why is there something instead of nothing?” everything in the universe is finite. over an infinite regressive timeline there is no way finite material can exist without being created, or, creating itself. Does that proove theres a god? No. But it proves there could be a god. This is the same as Neils argument. Where do you draw the line between what you believe in that has no logical proof, and what you don't believe in that has no logical proof. Truth, Good, Evil, Beauty. Do none of these things exist? We can't prove they exist. But we sure talk about them like they do.

Ronson
This is not a new idea by any means. This has been said time and time again. It still has no credible refutation.

I have heard and made refutations that I believe are perfectly logical. They don't envoke “because God says so” they only follow logic. People argue with me until they can't argue anymore, then they just stop responding. The “I don't want to talk about this anymore” response, is just as close-minded as anything a theist could throw out.

The absense of evidence is not the evidence of absense.

Ronson
So Dawkins takes the classic and modern philosophical arguments for God - the Watchmaker, Intelligent Design … others that I forget. Then he expains why they are fallacies. Then he takes the arguments against atheism, and shows how they are flawed.

And a good chunk of the book is the harm that religion does, not so much on a societal level but on a personal one. By limiting rational thought, religion confines many people from truly understanding the world around them.

Thats really their own fault for allowing themselves to be blind. Its not religion that confines them, its them who allow themselves to be confined by religion.

Ronson
It may well be that Dawkins wrote a book that atheists can use to analize their own convictions on the matter somewhat deeper than we have on our own. It certainly struck a chord with me.

This book is also for the fence sitters, not the confirmed theists. Maybe that's why you didn't like the handful of sentences you read.

I guess I don't put as much stock in what society, religion, or anyone else says as athiests do. I try to make my own educated decisions on things, especially the nature of right and wrong. Making right and wrong entirely dependant on religion or on society just seems foolhearty to me.

Does he address the various good deeds performed by any religious group? I've only seen you address the negative ones. Erecting shelters for the homeless is good in society. Is it his opinion that these good deeds are so far outweighed by the mistakes that they should be ignored?

I guess postmodernism just doesn't make logical sense to me, regardless of how it's tied to religion
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
reconjsh at 10:07AM, March 22, 2007
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Ronson made a point earlier that “the burdon of proof is on theists”. I just wanted to point out that he's right… provided that the theist is the one making the assertion. The burdon of proof is ALWAYS on the person making the assertion.

From my experience, generally speaking, it IS the theist making the assertion however. Because: a lot of normal conversation is innocently filled with your beliefs… and when one of your statements contains the presumption that there's a god - even if you don't intend on debating - you open yourself up to a past assertion that there is a god. At some point - even to yourself - you made the assertion that there's a god and you concluded that the assertion was true. Starting with bad presumptions, using fallacies, and/or the actual truth of your conclusion does not affect the relevance that you concluded the assertion is true.

You can, of course, choose not to engage in that debate, but I think it is acceptable for anyone in your conversation to challenge any presumption or assertion you directly or indirectly make - though sometimes there's a better time to do it.

And of course, sometimes the atheist does begin the debate (especially on the internet), but usually these people's assertion is “that the (usually non-specific) theists' assertion that ‘there is a god’ is false” when there was no assertion made in the first place.

It's a method of starting a debate where the other side has the burdon of proof without actually commiting the fallacy of “shifting the burdon of proof”. Like, starting a thread or debate with “Some christians have stated there's a god. That is a false assertion. Now, go ahead and prove that assertion”. And anyone who does agree with that past assertion has to come into the debate as if they made the assertion, when in fact they didn't make any. It's rarely so blatant, but you get my point.

Clever, but lame.



The whole atheist vs. theist debate seems pointless to me as I've seen it commonly expressed. I see potential value in it.. but it's very rarely more than the butting heads of blindly convicted people until one person/side deems the other hopelessly ignorant. Neither side will ever make a case that ends the debate and shows a clear truth about the existance or non-existance of god. The truth out there, but since we can't “open the box and look for ourselves”, these is no ending in sight.

Don't confuse what I'm saying with with Argumentum ad ignorantiam or the Negative Proof fallacy. I'm not making a point for one side or the other… I'm saying that this particular subject doesn't have a truth that we can use our 5 senses while we're alive… and probably therefore (in my mind at least), is a non-debate in the first place. Both sides concede that they'll only “know” when they're dead. The theist: when I'm dead and meet God I'll have conclusive proof; the atheist: I won't exist so knowing then is a paradox.

So why don't we spend our time debating things like "the value of being an atheist or theist over the other“ or ”what is right and wrong“ as it was brought up earlier or ”what is god, if not a divine being?".

I just don't get it, I suppose. I digress…


And kingofsnakes - please just read the book or stop debating it. lol
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
Ronson at 10:47AM, March 22, 2007
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kingofsnake
No, this is what I don't see him doing. I want to hear how he explains how athiesm is solidly grounded in logic more than theism (as opposed to religion). All I see him talking about is social rammifications of religion

Then you didn't read the other sections. As you've stated already.

You misunderstand. I don't mean to say intelligent design doesn't have religious roots, it pretty clearly does. I mean to say that intelligent design is not required to support any particular religion. It's just a new way to fill-in the scientific God-gaps. Proving intelligent design wrong does not quid pro quo proove all of religion wrong.

Intelligent design is being used as proof of the existence of God. It is one of many fallacious arguments that Dawkins tackles.

Christianity has it's roots in the Bible. Buddhism doesn't. Judaism doesn't. None of the eastern religions do. I'm not interested in the Christian God. He has too many characteristics that need to be taken entirely on faith. I'm only interested in talking about the concept of a god. He's not instigating a debate on theology; he's instigating a debate on Christianity. How does any of this disprove gaia, or any of the other new age earth gods that have a bigger section in the bookstore than philosphy? Is he writing a book about athiesm or a book that's just anti-christian. Theres more to athiesm than not beliving in Jehovah.

Sure, it's not believing any of the mystical stuff. Dawkins concentrates on Christianity and dabbles a bit in Islam and Judaism, but explains that the arguments are all pretty much the same. They are.

The existence of a supernatural infinite being or force is the only thing I want to discuss.

Fine. So far as any empiracle and scientific data exists, there is no God. According to the multitude of religions with different definitions of who God is, not even religions agree on the exact nature of their fictiticious God. Since nearly every religion defines God in their own way, they have already discounted hundreds if not thousands of alternate gods as not existing.

What is your proof for the existence of God?

The old guy with the beard. Jesus's ressurection. Reincarnation. The worth of the church. These are all good arguments but they do not affect the existence of a supernatural infinite being or force, because all any of them are are theories based on that existence.

Exactly. Except they aren't theories. They are stories. Theories use facts, religion doesn't.

I can't prove the truth or falsity of a story that was thought up thousands of years ago. There are verifiable inaccuracies, though.

So if there is no society does that mean that there is no right and wrong? In Robinson Curusoe he taught Friday that cannibalism was wrong. Was he wrong to do so? Should he have just adapted to the rights and wrongs set by that society? In the wasteland a lone man happens upon a young woman in a cabin. There is no society. What's best for that man would be to rape and kill the woman and take her stuff. Theres no society to deem it wrong. You happen upon a child drowning. Is it right to let him drown in the wilderness, but not in park? I just don't see how that works, maybe if you could explain it better to me.

Again, you misunderstand. It isn't what a society believes, it's what is good for the society. By altering our behavior, we improve society. Our society shapes our members, and our opinions. There is right and wrong, but only in the context of whether it is good or bad for society.

I think it's wrong because it treats an person as nothing more than a means, when by nature any person is more than a means. Prostitution would be equally wrong if I grew up a hermit, and then just happened upon a prostitute.

Do you have the same opinion of professional atheletes or construction workers who use their bodies to perform physical duties for money? Is it because of the sex? Should sex be illegal?

Lawful and unlawful are determined by society.

No, that's government. Society is a circle of friends, a family, a city, a government or a world. We are all members of a multitude of societies.

We don't have to prove he exists, we only have to prove that the possiblity he exists exists.

The absense of evidence is not the evidence of absense.

Yeah, but the absence of evidence does seem like a good reason not to create arbitrary rules for following the thing that may or may not exist. Or to follow archaic rules of behavior that are only enforced because the were created as rules for following this thing that may or may not exist.

As I've said - repeatedly - there are few atheists that will say there is absolutely no possibility that God exists. Atheists are just pretty sure it doesn't, and also believe that all organized religions are wrong.

Thats really their own fault for allowing themselves to be blind. Its not religion that confines them, its them who allow themselves to be confined by religion.

But religion confines belief. You HAVE to believe certain things to be a part of any organized religion. If you don't you are either publicly or secretly not part of it.

I guess I don't put as much stock in what society, religion, or anyone else says as athiests do. I try to make my own educated decisions on things, especially the nature of right and wrong. Making right and wrong entirely dependant on religion or on society just seems foolhearty to me.

The criteria you personally base right and wrong on is your business. His remarks (and mine) are toward what a society does to enable people to find their own path in life.

Does he address the various good deeds performed by any religious group? I've only seen you address the negative ones. Erecting shelters for the homeless is good in society. Is it his opinion that these good deeds are so far outweighed by the mistakes that they should be ignored?

He does address them, and understands that these are good things. He writes that he is not at all certain that these few things that are good outweigh the overall negatives. He also notes correctly that some of these endeavors are not done for altruistic reasons, but to convert people when they're at their lowest ebb…though I'm not certain he covers that in “The God Delusion”.

I guess postmodernism just doesn't make logical sense to me, regardless of how it's tied to religion

Whatever that means. I actually think that you probably agree with a large portion of the book, but reject the conclusions on mostly emotional grounds. Which is perfectly legitimate, as we all have emotional reactions to things or we wouldn't be human.

You also see a defense of the atheistic viewpoint as an automatic attack on religion. Though Dawkins DOES attack religion for the harm it has done and the restricted thinking it encourages, the atheistic viewpoint does not need to tear down religion to be compelling.

I just thought of an analogy. In the roadrunner cartoons, there's that scene where the roadrunner is being chased by the coyote. They approach a rock with a tunnel painted on it and the roadrunner goes right into the painting.

Religious folk are the roadrunner, exploring areas that are completely imaginary - or at least based only on personal perceptions.

But the atheist isn't the coyote. We aren't banging our heads on a painted rock. We just stopped short of jumping into your impossible painting of belief.

Now, if we lived in a cartoon world, religion might be a rational belief… :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
Ronson at 11:26AM, March 22, 2007
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It'd be nice if this topic turned back to something that everyone can talk about (who's interested, that is).


I've got a question for personal educationon on atheism -
If an atheist (or just you) had to choose one, what would be their (your) biggest disagreement: 1) the belief that there's a God at all (something divine instead of nothing); 2) that people have created countless religions about something they alledgedly know nothing about; 3) how religious people behave - especiailly when they think they're being religious and clearly don't know their own dogma; or 4) some singular other thing I missed?

And why is that your biggest disagreement?

I didn't enter this thread because of a disagreement with religion. Just as a statement that yes, atheism makes sense.

Some religions seek to impose their very arbitrary rules on the general society. That's where I disagree. I think there is no such thing as too much freedom, nor any reason to curtail the pursuit of happiness. But I'm an American, not some religious fascist. ;)
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
kingofsnake at 12:12PM, March 22, 2007
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Ronson
Fine. So far as any empiracle and scientific data exists, there is no God. According to the multitude of religions with different definitions of who God is, not even religions agree on the exact nature of their fictiticious God. Since nearly every religion defines God in their own way, they have already discounted hundreds if not thousands of alternate gods as not existing.

What is your proof for the existence of God?

Again there is no proof of the existence of God. I'm not trying to prove the existence of God. I'm trying to show that belief in God is not irrational. Proving that there was a God would undermine the nessecity in having belief, and that's something I have no desire to do. If you have a book you haven't read you can say “I believe this will be a good book.” But once you read it you can no longer have that belief, you have verifiable factual information on which you can base your opinion. Having verifiable factual information that God definately exists would make beliving in God meaningless, and thats certainly not something I want.

I want to show that belief of God is not irrational. There are logical discourses that do not prove Gods existence, but suggest that God's existence is a possiblity, and not an impossiblity. Infinite regress does this. “I can think of something of which there is no greater” does this (although I really think this is the weakest of all “proofs” of God.) Blind Watchmaker does this (and I'm interested on how Dawkins breaks up the logic of it.) The prevalent order in the universe does this. None of these things prove God. But suggest that God is no more unlikley than the evolutionary theory that single strands of RNA evolved in a lifeless environment from bonding to molecules of protien on a cellular level in one of the very specfic patterns needed to become the simplest form of life. I'm not ruling either of them out, but there's no empirical evidence for either, they're equally unlikley, what makes one more rational than the other.

Athiests try to pass off their position as the most logical one, but realistically agnosticism is the most logical position. There is enough unanswerable questions and logical arguments that suggest the existence of God is just as much of a possiblity as the non-existence of God. Suggesting that our world is a cartoon because we believe something that doesn't have any evidence but is no more unlikley than the equally unproved belief that somewhere in the vastness of space that there might be even the simplest forms of life is just close-minded. I'm open to all possibilities. Which one of us allowing themselves to be restricted here?

Ronson
Exactly. Except they aren't theories. They are stories. Theories use facts, religion doesn't.
Well they're theories insofar that they have logical, and philosophical arguments created that explain and support how they make sense and why they are valid theories in the confines of their belief structure. Fundamentally I see what you're saying though, and I don't nessecarily disagree. This particular point is just a semantics argument.

Ronson
Again, you misunderstand. It isn't what a society believes, it's what is good for the society. By altering our behavior, we improve society. Our society shapes our members, and our opinions. There is right and wrong, but only in the context of whether it is good or bad for society.

Wouldn't unions be bad for society by that logic? And wouldn't slavery be good? Unions are good for members of society, and slavery is bad for members of society, but for society iteslf would run much more smoothly if we got rid of unions and allowed for slaves.

Ronson
Do you have the same opinion of professional atheletes or construction workers who use their bodies to perform physical duties for money? Is it because of the sex? Should sex be illegal?

Thats a silly analogy. If construction workers are treated only as a means and not as men, then yes, it would be immoral as well. They're not house building machines. The nature of sexual gratifcation requires someone to either be a means or be something more. And if they're only a means, it's equally immoral if you pay them as if you just hook up in a party.

I didn't really follow your “professional athletes” example. What would they be a means to?

Ronson
Lawful and unlawful are determined by society.

No, that's government. Society is a circle of friends, a family, a city, a government or a world. We are all members of a multitude of societies.

You got me there, my bad.

Ronson
Yeah, but the absence of evidence does seem like a good reason not to create arbitrary rules for following the thing that may or may not exist. Or to follow archaic rules of behavior that are only enforced because the were created as rules for following this thing that may or may not exist.

As I've said - repeatedly - there are few atheists that will say there is absolutely no possibility that God exists. Atheists are just pretty sure it doesn't, and also believe that all organized religions are wrong.

Thats really their own fault for allowing themselves to be blind. Its not religion that confines them, its them who allow themselves to be confined by religion.

But religion confines belief. You HAVE to believe certain things to be a part of any organized religion. If you don't you are either publicly or secretly not part of it.

Which arbitrary rules are you talking about? “Thou shalt not kill?” or “Do unto others as you would like them to do unto you”? or maybe “seek inner peace”? Most arbitrary rules required to follow any particular religion are either a)Things that you ethically should do anyway, or b)obvious parts of any belief system like “Have no other God's beside me.”

The rules of behavior that you say are arbitrary, should presist regardless of religious background. The argument you're posing is the same one some theist's pose in an attempt to make atheists seem immoral. I'm not moral because I'm a theist. It just so happens that my religious beleifs conincide with my ethical beliefs.

Religions almost always require sacrifices to be made, but they are almost always nearly insignificant on the grand scheme of things, and if they're not, they're not requiste. Something like no meat of fridays, or give up something during lent. Do these things make me a person who is less alive than anyone else. Am I really sacrificing that much.

If I had to hate gays to be catholic. I wouldn't be catholic.

Ronson
His remarks (and mine) are toward what a society does to enable people to find their own path in life.

Could you expound upon this? How is society less of a constraint than religion?

Ronson
He does address them, and understands that these are good things. He writes that he is not at all certain that these few things that are good outweigh the overall negatives. He also notes correctly that some of these endeavors are not done for altruistic reasons, but to convert people when they're at their lowest ebb…though I'm not certain he covers that in “The God Delusion”.

Like missionaries in Africa? While that might be the church's goal, I'm betting that's probably not the goal of alot of the people who actually went there. I'm going to go to Africa, not for any altruistic reason, just to try to convert people. Catholicism as done alot of good, regardless of motive. It's offered some of our greatest art, literature and song. It has helped millions of people all over the world to live more comfortable lives. It has made mistakes that have killed thousands, ostricized many more peoples, and made even more people feel more uncomfortable in awkward social situations than they normally would. I wouldn't pretend to even be able to measure the amount of good to the amount of bad to find out which is greater, but I can easily recognize how amazingly biased this sentence is.
He writes that he is not at all certain that these few things that are good outweigh the overall negatives.
Ronson
Whatever that means. I actually think that you probably agree with a large portion of the book, but reject the conclusions on mostly emotional grounds. Which is perfectly legitimate, as we all have emotional reactions to things or we wouldn't be human.

You also see a defense of the atheistic viewpoint as an automatic attack on religion. Though Dawkins DOES attack religion for the harm it has done and the restricted thinking it encourages, the atheistic viewpoint does not need to tear down religion to be compelling.

I think (I'm not sure, but I think) that you think I'm far more emotionally invested in this conversation than I am. I just like debating logical arguments. I took philosophy courses for electives in college because I enjoyed them so much. I don't reject things on emotional basises (basiss? basi?) When I am presented with an argument that is flawless I am more than happy to recognize it as so. Athiesm has just never presented that argument to me. Agnosticism has a far better logical argument as athiesm. Athiesm still takes a leap of faith. A smaller leap of faith, but a leap of faith nonetheless. And for a position that rejects others due to their requirement of a leap of faith, I just don't see the logic behind that.

You didn't answer a question of mine that Neil didn't answer either. Where do you draw the line between what you choose to believe in that has no logical proof, and what you choose not to believe that has no logical proof. What is it about God that makes him so much harder for you to believe in than, for example, love?
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reconjsh at 12:21PM, March 22, 2007
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kingofsnake
Again there is no proof of the existence of God. I'm not trying to prove the existence of God. I'm trying to show that belief in God is not irrational.

You say:
1) There's no proof of the existance of God,
and 2) that belief in God is rational.

Definition for rational: consistent with or based on or using reason
Definition for reason: a statement offered in explanation or justification; the state of having good sense and sound judgment; a fact that logically justifies some premise or conclusion; think logically

So you're saying it's an explaination/justification for something based on no proof? That, at best, is a hypothesis.

And this hypothesis, by your own admission, is untestable, lacks proof… and is therefore not able to become a logical conclusion/theory.

So, if the arguement is “the hypothesis of God existing is rational”, then of course. A hypothesis is always rational. But believing beyond hypothesis, based on what you've said, can only be concluded as invalid.

Your arguement is flawed based on your reasoning; lack of logic. Find a new one to prove God or, at least, retract some of your statements like “there is not proof of the existance of God”.

Definition for reasoning: thinking that is coherent and logical.

This is flawed reasoning, as I've shown, because you jump from hypothesis to conclusion/theory without coherency and logic.

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kingofsnake at 12:52PM, March 22, 2007
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reconjsh
kingofsnake
Again there is no proof of the existence of God. I'm not trying to prove the existence of God. I'm trying to show that belief in God is not irrational.

You say:
1) There's no proof of the existance of God,
and 2) that belief in God is rational.

Definition for rational: consistent with or based on or using reason
Definition for reason: a statement offered in explanation or justification

So you're saying it's an explaination/justification for something based on no proof? That, at best, is a hypthesis.

And this hypthesis, by your own admission, is untestable, lacks proof… and is therefore not able to become a theory.

So, if the arguement is “the hypthesis of God existing is rational”, then of course. A hypothesis is always rational. But moving beyond hypothesis, based on what you've said, can only be concluded as irrational.

Your arguement is flawed based on your reasoning. Find a new one to prove God or, at least, retract some of your statements like “there is not proof of the existance of God”.

Definition for reasoning: thinking that is coherent and logical.



I had to quote this in full because this is the best counter-argument I've seen on this board by far. Even if you did spell hypothesis wrong.

Unfortunately, I didn't say that belief in God was rational, I said it was not irrational. That still leaves the third option of it being neither rational or irrational.

But lets say I'm trying to prove that belief in God is rational, because thats really ultimately what I would eventually want to get to. Physical proof is not the only way to justify something. Likelihood of the ultimate correctness of a theory also factors into how rational it is. Evolution has very little physical evidence to back it up outside of small adaptive changes. The rest is supposition. However it is still a rational theory. Much of the quantuum sciences act like this. They fit a formula. The formula is rational. So the theory is considered rational until it no longer fits the formula. The disinction between rational and factual is important here. The more a scientific study hopes to prove, the less it trusts it's theories. So very little is considered “facutal” when you get to sciences on a more complicated level. You get more of a “currently this is the best we got. Mathematically the formula has to be correct and the theory makes the forumla work, but there might be other theories that also make the formula work, so as soon as we find something that disproves this theory we'll chuck it out and find a new one that works.” I maintain the likelihood of the ultimate correctness of the existence of an infinte supernatual being. It works with all available formulas that we can prove to be otherwise correct through logic. Therefore it's rational maintain it's truth, until information comes along that disproves that theory. Just don't dismiss that information when/if it comes along because you're attached to how well it fit with the formula.
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reconjsh at 1:11PM, March 22, 2007
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I actually went back and edited my post after you quoted it but before you submitted it and corrected a few things like spelling.
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Ronson at 1:15PM, March 22, 2007
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Unfortunately, I didn't say that belief in God was rational, I said it was not irrational. That still leaves the third option of it being neither rational or irrational.

Silly statement. “irr” means “not”. Either something is rational or it is irrational. If something is somewhat rational, it is still irrational.

What I hope you mean to say is that you believe theism is no less rational than atheism, but they are both in some ways irrational. This is an argument you can have, but it inevitably leads to personal opinion (what/who do you believe?).

I could swear that I and others have already stated that there is irrational belief in everyone, atheists would just like theists to admit it.

Evolution has very little physical evidence to back it up outside of small adaptive changes.

Wrong. Read Dawkins. Things have changed in the past few decades.But in the details, there is still some debate. The overall theory of evolution is on very solid ground. But again, that comes back to what/who you believe.

I maintain the likelihood of the ultimate correctness of the existence of an infinte supernatual being. It works with all available formulas that we can prove to be otherwise correct through logic. Therefore it's rational maintain it's truth, until information comes along that disproves that theory. Just don't dismiss that information when/if it comes along because you're attached to how well it fit with the formula.

An infinite supernatural being fails against what is known about the world and the universe today. It is not impossible that there is an infinite supernatural being that breaks all natural laws that we know of, but there is no reason to assume it exists.

By your theory, it was rational to believe the sun revolved around the Earth until someone discovered it didn't. By that definition, everything is plausible so long as enough people believe it - even if it is completely and utterly false.

This is, of course, the Santa Claus argument. It is completely rational for children to believe in Santa Claus because they are told he exists by the primary authority figures of thier strongest society (parents).

When evidence crops up, they become irrational if they still insist upon the existence of Santa.

I guess that's the bit that atheists don't get. Many of us think that there is plenty of evidence that there's no God (that is, everything that has ever been studied has conformed to natural laws. No supernatural occurance has ever been discovered in any credible way). Maybe in the deist sense of God, but certainly not the theist.

I guess a sufficient authority figure hasn't convinced theists yet, and athiests have been convinced. The question is whether the problem is that theists are reluctant to give up their Santa Claus, or whether athiests were too quick to believe what science found.

But that becomes a who/what you believe argument.
___

By the way, a few posts back you said religion created rules like “don't kill” and “don't steal.” I assert that society created those rules long before any organized religion and religion adopted them as their own and eventually found ways around both rules.
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kingofsnake at 1:15PM, March 22, 2007
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your changes don't really change my response any. It's still an excellent argument. You just jump a little too quickly from reason to proof, one is able to have reason without nessecarily having phyisical proof, and I think I showed how, but of course, anything it up for debate.
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reconjsh at 1:19PM, March 22, 2007
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kingofsnake
your changes don't really change my response any. It's still an excellent argument. You just jump a little too quickly from reason to proof, one is able to have reason without nessecarily having phyisical proof, and I think I showed how, but of course, anything it up for debate.

I know. I was just quick posting that i fixed my spelling and there were a few new sentences.
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reconjsh at 1:24PM, March 22, 2007
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Someone
Likelihood of the ultimate correctness of a theory also factors into how rational it is

You have not demonstrated any likelihood. And so you're STILL at hypothesis/assertion in terms of this debate. All that other stuff about evolution and other theories is distracting from the main point these people are making.

1) You propose there's a god,
2) You have not shown any proof,
3) The burdon of proof is on you,
4) You counter with “there isn't any proof”.

So, you're stuck with a hypothesis/assertion that you have not and stated you can not prove/argue… and yet you believe in a conclusion/theory that you have not logically demonstrated is reachable.

And that is the very definition of irrational.

Someone
So the theory is considered rational until it no longer fits the formula.

You still have to prove the original theory in the first place.
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kingofsnake at 1:39PM, March 22, 2007
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Ronson
I could swear that I and others have already stated that there is irrational belief in everyone, atheists would just like theists to admit it.

I might not have said it in so many words before, but I'll say it now. The only rational ones amoung us are the agnostics.

Ronson
Wrong. Read Dawkins. Things have changed in the past few decades.But in the details, there is still some debate. The overall theory of evolution is on very solid ground. But again, that comes back to what/who you believe.
I read Dennett, who is one of the foremost experts in darwinist theory. Granted things might've changed in the five years since he wrote the book, I'm just saying that they're alot of unanswered questions, and unanswered questions does not equal wrong. I fully believe evolutionary theory is correct regardless on unanswered questions. Thats the point, thats why it applies to my statements about God.

Ronson
An infinite supernatural being fails against what is known about the world and the universe today. It is not impossible that there is an infinite supernatural being that breaks all natural laws that we know of, but there is no reason to assume it exists.

What does it fail against? There is more to suggest that there could be an infinate supernatural being than that there couldn't. I've given you arguments to support my position, what arguments do you have to support yours?

Ronson
By your theory, it was rational to believe the sun revolved around the Earth until someone discovered it didn't. By that definition, everything is plausible so long as enough people believe it - even if it is completely and utterly false.

If 75 years from now they discovered that there was no such thing as gravity. If there was a completely different force that had nothing to do with matter that was easily measurable, and better explained phenomonon on a universal and quantuum level, would you say that your position now had been irrational?

The fact of the matter is there is no absolute proof for anything, sometimes our mos basic understandings are fundamentally changed by the smallest discovery. You can't say for sure that gravity won't be disproven. 200 years ago whe had no concept of what electricity is. If someone tried to tell you that the reason you get sick is because of tiny invisible orgainsims that were EVERYWHERE, he'd be the crazy one. You and I can agree that it is very unlikely that they'll ever disprove gravity, but theres a time when we would've ageed that they'd never disprove a geocentric universe either. Our curret beliefs are rational in their own rite. You can't assume irrationality just because the possibility exists that one day they might be disproven, because then you can't beleive anything.

All this applies to your argument about Santa Claus. I don't think your irrational for not thinking theres a Santa Claus, but if theres more reason to think that there is one than that there isn't, what would make you assume that there isn't without evidence to that extent. I have provided evidence that God could exist. He fits into arguments that we know are true through logic. Present me with some, with ANY evidence that he does not fit into these forumlas. I'm glad to hear them.

Ronson
This is, of course, the Santa Claus argument. It is completely rational for children to believe in Santa Claus because they are told he exists by the primary authority figures of thier strongest society (parents).

When evidence crops up, they become irrational if they still insist upon the existence of Santa.

I guess that's the bit that atheists don't get. Many of us think that there is plenty of evidence that there's no God (that is, everything that has ever been studied has conformed to natural laws. No supernatural occurance has ever been discovered in any credible way). Maybe in the deist sense of God, but certainly not the theist.

I guess a sufficient authority figure hasn't convinced theists yet, and athiests have been convinced. The question is whether the problem is that theists are reluctant to give up their Santa Claus, or whether athiests were too quick to believe what science found.

But that becomes a who/what you believe argument.
___

By the way, a few posts back you said religion created rules like “don't kill” and “don't steal.” I assert that society created those rules long before any organized religion and religion adopted them as their own and eventually found ways around both rules.

I didn't say they created them, I said that those were the rules that religion demanded us to follow. The fact that they were social rules as well was kind of the point. Theres no evidence that society created these rules either. Ultimately the question of their origin boils down to whether you believe basic human nature is good or bad (in any definition of the term, social, religious, moral, philosophical.)
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kingofsnake at 1:44PM, March 22, 2007
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reconjsh
You still have to prove the original theory in the first place.

I have provided verifiably logical formulas within which the theory fits. I have already explained that physical evidence (ie proof) is not nessecary in order for something to be rational.

reconjsh
]Definition for reason: a statement offered in explanation or justification

Where are you getting proof? You are asking for a statment offered in explaination or justification. I have made these statements. No one has questioned their logic.
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ozoneocean at 1:52PM, March 22, 2007
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Sounds like part of Ronson's concept of Atheism isn't just that for him there are no gods, but that religions are also unsound because they have a “god” element. I don't know if this is everyone's idea of atheism…? To me it seems a bit over-reaching and, dare I say it; almost patronising.

I see religions as long-standing cultural institutions (mostly the big established ones), the mythological element is neither here nor there to me. As for the congregations of these religions, I find that despite what we like to think about the “masses”, your average person is usually reasonably smart and considers their place in the world rather carefully when thinking about belief and such matters, their personal opinions about a god or whatever are theirs alone and not really dictated to them from on high- because people synthesise their own knowledge from what they've learned and how they see the world- even if they're part of a fairly dogmatic religion, they're still intelligent, thinking, individual beings. Perhaps its a fallacious nasty thing to describe their actions and beliefs as ignorant and foolish when in actuality our own understanding and imagining of their beliefs and how we think they must relate to them probably better falls into that description?

But that's the root of it: it's probably not the best thing to justify our own beliefs by ridiculing the beliefs of others. There lies the slippery slope to battle. So sayeth a pontificating Ozone… lol!

It also reminds me of the semi serious speech Douglas Adams gave to the Atheist society (from The Salmon of Doubt). He characterises the origin of religion in such a catastrophically stupid and juvenile manner that I was surprised and shocked that this could come from the same genius who created all those brilliantly smart and entertaining books. I mean, he seemed to have no sociological, or historical knowledge about the subject, it was as if a teenager sat down to write a speech while sitting in front of the TV and thought he could make up something clever as he went along… For a start I was embarrassed for him that he must have said things as stupid as that at an atheist society, who you'd expect would consist of people who were better informed on the subject. They must have thought he was a bit of a ninny.
Such a shame. He was a brilliant guy, but not about everything, I don't like finding out that my heroes have feet of clay.
 
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kingofsnake at 2:17PM, March 22, 2007
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Is there any chance it could've been tounge-in-cheek?
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Ronson at 2:18PM, March 22, 2007
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I think that Ozone is right about everything except Douglas Adams. Everything he wrote and said publicly was brilliant for what it was.

I am part of the atheist community that dislikes theists who think that their way of believing should in some way alter my way of life. The dangerousness of people spreading patently false lies because it doesn't fit in with their religious world view only reaches my attention when they seek to change our laws or force their beliefs into public areas.

Believing in God seems more irrational to me than not believing in one. If it didn't, I would probably believe in one. But to use religion to justify morals (which predate religion) or art (God painted nothing) or government legislation seems to be a case of trying a bit too hard.

Kingofsnake is a deist, certainly not a theist. I don't think he acknowledges that, but it certainly is borne out in his writing. He doesn't believe that God is working miracles (that is, magic against the natural laws) as far as I know. I can get along with deists because they don't pretend to know God's mind.

The folks who follow GWB are theists in the worse sense of the matter. They believe GWB is honest because he's religious. They believe he's religious because he says he is, and since he's religious he must be honest. I think some folks are waking up to the illogic of that belief, but I listened to it for six years so I know it is true.

Once you allow THAT sort of illogic into society's rules - and not just tolerate and dismiss it - you run the risk of society stagnating. Abortion, Gay Marriage, contraception, taxes and crime definitions have all been affected by rampant theists who think their way is the only proper way to behave and they'll MAKE you follow their rules if they can.

But that doesn't disprove the existence of God, or gods, or FSM or anything. But it is a good warning to rigid thinking.

Kingofsnakes pointed out that if the theory of gravity were proven false, it would only be rational to alter my belief system to accept that. He's right. And when you can show any evolutionary law - or any natural law on the books today - to be false, I'll alter my beliefs. If you can show where these laws have been superceded by some infinite force, I might even believe in God.

Prove the existence of God, and atheists will become His strongest believers.

Think upon this: In the Bible, was Thomas admirable for questioning whether Jesus had really risen from the dead? So much so that he actually put his hands in the puncture wounds? I say that he was the best apostle in the bunch, but I have heard many a sermon talk about this “crisis of faith” on Thomas' part.

Is this not an example of the church teaching their members not to question faith? What is the reasoning?
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reconjsh at 3:18PM, March 22, 2007
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I personally think there's too much out there for anyone to believe one way or the other. Neither side has or will definitely prove the actual existance or non-existance of god; rather, they can only come to a logical conclusion about the topic and just start believing it. Here's why:

If you start with true premises and make your inferences properly, you can ONLY arrive at at a true conclusion. This is called a sound arguement. Valid conclusions can be wrong, however. That is because they start on false premises. (I'm sure you guys knew this already)

And that is where both sides argues now (on eachother's premises). And the reason there is no end (and therefore no revealed truth) is because for each arguement that disproves a premise and “negates” the truth of a conclusion, a new arguement is made that negates THAT arguement's premises.

And furthermore, disproving a premise doesn't actually disprove the truth of a conclusion… it only invalidates that particular arguement. But in the world of “does god exist?”, it seems to be the case. Both sides are guilty (and not guilty) of this.

Consider the brilliant people that have argued “god” on either side. Here is a link that discusses the issue and further links you to tons of people on both sides; both sides having made valid logical arguements… and tons of people who spend their time going back and forth over premises and thus the truth of an arguement.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Existence_of_God Obviously, the people reading this forum probably know plenty of people for their side (and probably for the other as well) so this link may be irrelevant.

That is a flaw of logical arguement, I think, on this issue. A valid conclusion can be made that isn't actually truth. And that's the flaw of this debate in general: for every valid arguement made, there arrises an arguement that tries to make the valid arguement untrue on the basis of premise validity…

I've read enough books and articles to make anyone sick. I just don't see it ever ending; do you guys see it ending? Show me a valid arguement… and I bet I can find you someone who made a valid arguement against the first arguement's validity.

So what does this mean for me? I'm going to live this life like it's the only one I have, but with the caution that maybe I'll have to be accountable for my actions. Thus, I shall make the most out of this life, but still try to live a moral and virtuous life… and really, even if this is the only life, being moral and virtuous is still “making the most out of this life” to me.


Like I've always said, I'm still searching for the truth that I don't currently possess… I guess that almost makes me agnostic.
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kingofsnake at 3:47PM, March 22, 2007
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Ronson
I think that Ozone is right about everything except Douglas Adams. Everything he wrote and said publicly was brilliant for what it was.

I am part of the atheist community that dislikes theists who think that their way of believing should in some way alter my way of life. The dangerousness of people spreading patently false lies because it doesn't fit in with their religious world view only reaches my attention when they seek to change our laws or force their beliefs into public areas.

I agree.

Ronson
Kingofsnake is a deist, certainly not a theist. I don't think he acknowledges that, but it certainly is borne out in his writing. He doesn't believe that God is working miracles (that is, magic against the natural laws) as far as I know. I can get along with deists because they don't pretend to know God's mind.

I've been thinking about that as well some. In some ways I agree I have a very desitic point of view, and in others a more theistic one. I do beleive that God has certain characteristics, but I recognize that there is nothing that suggests that he should have those charactersitics, it's simply a doctrine I've chosen to believe. It has no more validity in and of itself than the FSM or the IPU. But I feverishly beleive that the concept of an infinite being is logical, and while maybe not definately provable, it explains so much that otherwise we haven't even begun to be able to explain that it makes far more sense than the lack of one.

Ronson
The folks who follow GWB are theists in the worse sense of the matter. They believe GWB is honest because he's religious. They believe he's religious because he says he is, and since he's religious he must be honest. I think some folks are waking up to the illogic of that belief, but I listened to it for six years so I know it is true.

That might be a bit of an oversimplification. Plenty of people are just politically retarded. Religion isn't the only motivation people had for going along with Bush's crackpot pyrmid schemes
Ronson
Once you allow THAT sort of illogic into society's rules - and not just tolerate and dismiss it - you run the risk of society stagnating. Abortion, Gay Marriage, contraception, taxes and crime definitions have all been affected by rampant theists who think their way is the only proper way to behave and they'll MAKE you follow their rules if they can.
If it wasn't religion it'd be something else. Some people are just like that.
Ronson
But that doesn't disprove the existence of God, or gods, or FSM or anything. But it is a good warning to rigid thinking.

Kingofsnakes pointed out that if the theory of gravity were proven false, it would only be rational to alter my belief system to accept that. He's right. And when you can show any evolutionary law - or any natural law on the books today - to be false, I'll alter my beliefs. If you can show where these laws have been superceded by some infinite force, I might even believe in God.

Prove the existence of God, and atheists will become His strongest believers.
No the athiest will be equal to everyone else in knowing about him. Believing in something proven is weak. I'm not trying to say, stop believing in gravity now because one day it might be proven false. I'm saying that if gravity was proven wrong you wouldn't look back on how irrational you were to believe in gravity. Gravity is a perfectly good theory, and it works well. You have no reason to doubt it's accuracy. So it's rational to believe it's true, even if you haven't studied the nature of planetary orbits.

Ronson
Think upon this: In the Bible, was Thomas admirable for questioning whether Jesus had really risen from the dead? So much so that he actually put his hands in the puncture wounds? I say that he was the best apostle in the bunch, but I have heard many a sermon talk about this “crisis of faith” on Thomas' part.

Is this not an example of the church teaching their members not to question faith? What is the reasoning?
Jesus said to him: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet come to believe.” John 20:29
The issue was not that he questioned his faith. Its that he chose not to believe unless confronted by absolute truth. It takes no effort to believe something you know to be true. None at all. But to believe in something that has not been proved, simply because you think it is the correct think. That is truly admirable. Athiesm is admirable in this way as well. Chosing to disbelieve in something without physical evidence is still a belief. It's just not as logical as agnosticism is. Agnosticism has always struck me as the most cowardly, yet most rational religious stance there is.

The issue is not that he questioned his faith. Questioning is always good. The unquestioned faith easily falls.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
kingofsnake at 3:59PM, March 22, 2007
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reconjsh
And that is where both sides argues now (on eachother's premises). And the reason there is no end (and therefore no revealed truth) is because for each arguement that disproves a premise and “negates” the truth of a conclusion, a new arguement is made that negates THAT arguement's premises.

Thats just the nature of philosophical thought. It doesn't mean theres no end in sight. There are philosophical arguments that appear to be bulletproof. Camus, Plato, Kierkegaard, Immanuel Kant, Acquinas, are all philosophers who I could not find a flaw in their logic that they could not debuff. I couldn't find an article or a counter-argument that found flaw in thier logic that they could not answer. Some of this stuff has been around for thousands of years, and it can't be undone.

Wading through the philosophical muck on complex issues, especially one such as God, is timeconsuming and tiresome, but ultimately totally rewarding. When you feel you have an logical argument for your position that is so strong that there isn't anything that can rattle it, hell, everything you can think of you've tried already, then you can really feel confident in how you choose to live your life. I'm always looking to find something that rattles my philosophical ideology, if I find it I'll know I was living the wrong one, and if I don't then I'll have no reason to doubt it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
reconjsh at 5:19PM, March 22, 2007
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kingofsnake
reconjsh
And that is where both sides argues now (on eachother's premises). And the reason there is no end (and therefore no revealed truth) is because for each arguement that disproves a premise and “negates” the truth of a conclusion, a new arguement is made that negates THAT arguement's premises.

Thats just the nature of philosophical thought. It doesn't mean theres no end in sight. There are philosophical arguments that appear to be bulletproof. Camus, Plato, Kierkegaard, Immanuel Kant, Acquinas, are all philosophers who I could not find a flaw in their logic that they could not debuff. I couldn't find an article or a counter-argument that found flaw in thier logic that they could not answer. Some of this stuff has been around for thousands of years, and it can't be undone.

Wading through the philosophical muck on complex issues, especially one such as God, is timeconsuming and tiresome, but ultimately totally rewarding. When you feel you have an logical argument for your position that is so strong that there isn't anything that can rattle it, hell, everything you can think of you've tried already, then you can really feel confident in how you choose to live your life. I'm always looking to find something that rattles my philosophical ideology, if I find it I'll know I was living the wrong one, and if I don't then I'll have no reason to doubt it.
You must of missed my point or read what you wanted to read.

It wasn't that truth is not worth pursuing… but rather that the truth is irrelevant on how I will live my life. I'm constantly searching though.

And you've got it wrong. If there was an arguement that started with true premises regarding the truth about god, used logical and valid inferences, and ended in the true conclusion that god exists… then none of us would be here because the truth would no longer be debated. God's existance would be undeniable if such an arguement existed.

But, such an arguement does not exist.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:02PM
kingofsnake at 5:57PM, March 22, 2007
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reconjsh
And you've got it wrong. If there was an arguement that started with true premises regarding the truth about god, used logical and valid inferences, and ended in the true conclusion that god exists… then none of us would be here because the truth would no longer be debated. God's existance would be undeniable if such an arguement existed.

But, such an arguement does not exist.

It may. If it has we probably haven't found it yet. But hell we're still testing the one's we have. You wouldn't immediately recognize the premise to be true and the logic to be valid immediately, it would take time and possible counter-arguments would have to be examined and rejected.

This is why philosphy books are rarely short.


So I hit barnes today to get some magazines, all this talk about quick turn around time made me want to grab a couple issues of scientific american so I could catch up with current smarter-than-me peoples, and I flipped through the God Delusion looking, specifically for his answer the the Blind Watchmaker. Unfortunately I couldn't find it, I could only find where he refered god as the blind watchmaker in reference the the “why is there anything instead of nothing?” quesiton. Which is fine, thats a good question too. But he didn't really offer an answer to it, he went off on a tangent. The closest I could find to answers is that the answer to the origin was somesort of “self-bootsrapping crane.” Which he didn't expound upon. To me the idea that something could be its own cause is more ridiculous than the god option. Maybe thats why he didn't go into it. And he said it couldn't be the blind watchmaker, because then where did he come from. He rejected the idea that he had always existed (ie was infinite in nature) but didn't explain on what grounds he did it. Ultimately I maintain that his arguments are not objective enough, and aren't very cohesive.

I also picked up God: A Failed Hypothesis. I forget who thats by but I recommend it to athiests. It has MUCH better arguments for the lack of god, although some of them just use the limitations of language to their advantage, you know the “ something that is transcendant can't be omnipresent” type stuff, that aren't reasons but just manipulating meanings of words as we define them. like saying “there are no absolutely true statements” is a statement that must be absoluetly true. Thats not an argument, it's just manipulating words, stop wasting our time, grant the damn premise and argue whether the rammifications of it yield positive or negative results. Those aside, he had strong arguments that I would probably have to spend a great deal of my time thinking about to find flaw in. Strong recommendation.

I also looked through a book that scientifically examined creationism and intelligent design, which I felt was the most reasonable of them all, but probably because it was more interested in working with science than with theology. They had some great parts where they were like, “well this is how Intelligent Design explains this gap in evolutionary theory, we don't think it's right but we can't really rule it out completely because, well, we know that the best we got sounds equally ludicrous, but JESUS at least we're testing ours, show us how to test Intelligent Design and we'll do it right now!”

Although all books had one point that I really couldn't help but agree with, religion has no place in science. Science is all about testin nature, and god is neither nature or testable, so he shouldn't factor into the equation.

There was one more book that interested me, but I didn't have time to read. It was called The Science of God. It was a pro-God position from a scientific standpoint. I can't tell if it's good enough to recommend, but, I think it's important for every athiest who reads books on athiesm to read books with the other opinion too. You'll never learn anything if you don't study both sides of the coin. I mean, thats why I read books on atheism.
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Ronson at 4:29AM, March 23, 2007
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Dawkins goes into intricate detail on why the “blind watchmaker” theory isn't necessary because of evolution.

He does not address the infinite being who set things in motion and sat back to watch, because Dawkins does not argue with deists, because they only believe the things that are as yet (and possibly forever will be) unprovable. Deists also don't try to institute societal laws based on interpretation of holy writings, which is the area of contention that many atheists have.

His argument is solely with theism, where their views HAVE eroded over time as science has figured out more and more things.

The “self bootstrapping crane” is evolution. It is the ability for selection and mutation that allows a single cell organism to - over aeons - become more complex life.

The watchmaker theory has a few vital flaws for a theist:

1. If the watchmaker merely created the conditions for this universe to create life, there's no reason to assume any of the peripherals like souls, heaven, hell, etc. These things don't follow the natural laws that the watchmaker seems to be using.

2. Where does the watchmaker come from? You say he was always there, but that's no answer for me, personally. It is an irrational belief, but one that can't be disproven.

3. How does that prove that their particular god exists? What in any religious writing makes their God sound like a “watchmaker” and not a king or a petulant child? (depending on the passage)

Evolution precludes the necessity of a watchmaker…at least as far as the development of life. If you want to call the watchmaker the guy who started the Big Bang you can, because there are no rational explanations to the moments prior to the Big Bang. To an athiest we just don't know yet, and would prefer not to fill the gaps with a convenient diety.

I can't argue with deists, because they don't dip their toes in the water of ancient manuscripts or irrational moral values (except yours on prostitution, which are parochial. Another debate, another time…;) ). Diests believe in something, and that something lies outside of the observable world. Deists don't believe in Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese or miracles or angels … except in that they, like atheists, can't prove a negative. In short, deists take the ultimate unknowable questions and say it's God, and atheists just shrug their shoulders.

Specifically from your past posts:

But to believe in something that has not been proved, simply because you think it is the correct think. That is truly admirable.

and then this:

The issue is not that he questioned his faith. Questioning is always good. The unquestioned faith easily falls.

Don't these two thoughts contradict eachother? Are you supposed to believe something without evidence or not? Which is more admirable? Or are you admiring both?
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM
kingofsnake at 5:16AM, March 23, 2007
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Questioning is good. Denying beleif simply due to lack of evidence is not. If there is no evidence to the contrary, maintain your belief. It's not saying ignore all evidence that evolution exists because theres a creation story. It's saying, ask yourself if the creation story is nessecary to your faith.

Seeing should not have to be believing. But choosing a path that has no evidence and leaving it un questioned is blind. Thats how cults happen.



Oh. The blind watchmaker simply states that if you find a watch you'd assume it to have a maker, not randomly put together by nature. Why does one assume that something as infintely more complex such as the simplest life form could come about on it's own.

It's really more a defense for ID than religion, one I actually happen to agree with. It has no place in the scientific community, but it just seems commonsensical to me. But then I beleive in God in the first place so the leap is miniscule. The only point I want to address the the second one. God needs to be infinite becasue thats the only way to break the chain on infinite regress. If he's not infinite then theres no point in having him, he's just another link in the chain of infinite regress until there is something that is infinite. The scientific community often rallies against God because he isn't able to be tested, which I agree is the perfect reason to keep him out of science. However, science is nothing more than the study of nature. Theres alot of nature around us, so theres alot to study. God being outside of nature means he doesn't have the same rules as nature. Mathematicians have to deal with fractured infintes all the time, which is why they tend to have an easier time following the charactersitc of the infinite. It may be hard to wrap your mind around something that always was and always will be, that doesn't mean it's impossible, or even not the way it is. It just mean's its hard to grasp the concept of.

I got this book, Beyond the Limits of Thought by Graham Priest. It's all about concepts that we can not really grasp, infinity, nothingness, paradoxes.

It's excellent
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:16PM
Ronson at 6:20AM, March 23, 2007
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Why does one assume that something as infintely more complex such as the simplest life form could come about on it's own.

Why does one assume that it cannot?

Maybe it's all starting points between us. I start with the assumption there is no God and see the evidence that supports it. You start with the assumption there is a God and pretend the evidence supports it. >:) … just kidding. I think maybe it's just that I don't need to believe in God to understand the way things are.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:10PM

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