Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Healthy skepticism of ALL worldviews is good. Skeptical of non-belief like found in Atheism? Post your challenging questions. Responses are encouraged.
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Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Kurieuo » Mon Apr 15, 2013 6:13 pm

I'm all for questioning, digging, probing and trying to understand things as best as we reasonably can.

Christians are said to be ignorant by a growing secular majority. And yet, a stumbling block for me with Atheism--besides its pretense that it actually inspires enquiry--is that it wants to accept ignorance as a valid response to the underpinnings of reality. Oh, the irony. Atheists don't want to explore questions about the nature of reality at all, but just accept the world around us without questions. As someone who likes philosophising I find this extremely boring. And it literally sets up a worldview of reality that is based upon thin air. Just like "magic".

Consider the following questions:

    Q: What caused the "big bang" that brought our universe (time, space, energy, matter) into existence?
    A: "The universe just is" or retort "who made God?"

    Q: How do you know what you experience is true?
    A: Because its obvious.

    Q: How do the physical laws hold together?
    A: Huh?

    Q: How is it possible for someone to come back from the dead?
    A: Dead people don't come back to life.

Ok, so I improvised on the responses and likely setup some strawmen. But, my experience in discussions with Atheists is that the typical response is to ignore questions about reality and just accept everything at face value. They don't like to dig and probe into questions, or consider how something might be possible. They hate metaphysical questions -- asking why questions about reality and thinking about possible answers.

For example, consider the movie The Matrix. Everyone in the "normal" world is hooked up to a machine and experiencing a type of virtual reality. The experiences are just as real as ours in life. And yet, people "could" potentially come back from the dead in this world, as long as the software is tweaked. People can perform what appears to be "magic" by zipping through the air -- suspending the "natural laws" which are really being largely maintained by a software program that runs the virtual world. Heck, Jesus Chris could actually even rise from the dead in such a world!

Yes, it's just a movie. But here is the thing. Who's to say that the life we experience isn't in some way similar--some form of Idealism. Perhaps the machine and software on which we're running is just God. And yet, the Atheist confidently asserts that it is impossible for someone to rise from the dead -- because dead people don't come back to life -- because they ignore any questions to do with the nature of reality while assuming to know how reality works!

Atheism presumes to know reality without giving it any foundation. The world just is. It just runs. It is stable. It is predictable. It's finely tuned for life? "Well, duh--we wouldn't be here otherwise!" We just are. What we hear, see, feel, taste and smell is a true representation of the world. It is just NATURAL. Dead people don't rise from the dead.

An Atheistic reality precludes any questions about how reality might be. There is no "more than meets the eye". Is this not a shallow worldview? A kind of "putting on the blinders" or "burying one's head in the sand"? Some deep-seated faith in ignorance? Let's not ask questions about how reality works and just accept what seems apparent, because to ponder such questions is what? Scarey? Would it burst your bubble?

Atheists are boring. They're predictable. They don't like to be wrong. And yet, their trust to only accept what can be known beyond a doubt as complete truth via our physical senses which would never lie to us except in someone delusional (nevermind the question that all of the reality we experience might be delusional) --- to the Atheist reading --- Come on! At least change and put some ideas on the table that discuss the nature of reality.

I'm all for at least trying, and getting things wrong and then learning and growing. Metaphysical questions are not pointless. They provide logical possibilities for why things are the way they are and how reality might function. At least with Christianity, Christians back a view of reality that is placed on the table to be scrutinised and picked apart. As a Christian I might be wrong, but at least I had the guts to back something.

An Atheist thinks its absurd to be skeptical of Atheism, and this just shows they don't like putting anything on the table. They refuse to answer any questions about the underpinnings of reality, and yet love taking the micky out of anyone elses beliefs. No wonder so many Atheists in online discussions seem so arrogant and confident -- they don't place anything on the table and criticise anyone who does whether Christian, Muslim, Jew, Buddhism or the like. How easy is that!?

If you're an Atheist reading this and have been offended, then please, break out of your mould and ponder questions regarding the nature of reality. Put something on the table and stop criticising everyone else.
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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Jac3510 » Wed Apr 17, 2013 8:59 am

Good post, K. There is a reason I've long been bored with the atheist discussion. They're just so juvenile and so far beyond wrong that it's impossible for me to take them seriously anymore. They are neophytes at best (to put it charitably) when it comes to discussing real philosophical issues, and their entire argument is really a defense of the indefensible. I don't mean that in the cliche sense, but I mean that in the sense you just described. Nothingness and arationality cannot be defended, because there is nothing to defend and reason cannot produce arationality. So their arguments consist of nothing more than a denial of all other arguments. It's just skepticism at its worst, tinged with an arrogance that I once found infuriating and now simply find dull.

But in their defense, as you know, they're hardly the first people to try this line of thought. What they fail to realize is that their arguments are centuries old and were first promoted by early theists. I don't want to distract from your argument, but I do want to quote at length from Etienne Gilson's The Unity of Philosophical Experience (pp. 32-35), as I think it well illustrates the same principles at work in some early theists:

    Maimonides, who with St. Thomas Aquinas is perhaps the most balanced of all medieval theologians, has described in a masterly manner the sort of game which these men [theologists; not to be confused with theologians] were playing. "It is not out object," Maimonides says, "to criticize things which are peculiar to either creed, or books which were written exclusively in the interest of the one community or the other. We merely maintain that the earlier theologians, both of the Greek Christians and of the Mohammedans, when the laid down their propositions, did not investigate the real properties of things; first of all they considered what must be the properties of things which should yield proof for or against a certain creed; and when this was found they asserted that the thing must be endowed with those properties; then they employed the same assertion, and by which they either supported or refuted a certain opinion." In short, Maimonides concluded, these men were doing the very reverse of what Themistius rightly invites us to do, which is to adapt our opinions to things, instead of adapting things to our opinions; for this indeed cannot be done and it is a waste of time to try it.

    It is to be noted that Maimonides did not stop there. Pushing his analysis further, he reached the very core of these doctrines and succeeded in isolating their germ, the primitive nucleus of all their later developments. Accusing their authors of not being interested in the real nature of things would have been a cheap criticism, though a true one. What Maimonides has clearly perceived, with remarkable insight, is that even those men themselves were aware of the fact, and that, in a sense, their whole doctrine was but a toilsome justification of their attitude. Knowing, as they did, that heir statements were open to that criticism, they assumed that it was quite useless to worry about the real nature and order of things, because things have indeed neither nature nor order. Even though its existence be convincingly established, that which actually is proves nothing at all, "because it is merely one of the various phases of things, the opposite of which is equally admissible to our minds." That Maimonides' diagnosis was accurate is best proved by a brief survey of a few at least of their propositions.

    The first proposition was that all things are composed of atoms. By the word atom, these men understood, as did every one else, particles of matter that are small to the point of being indivisible; but they added to that classical meaning a new connotation. Not only are their atoms indivisible, but they hae no magnitude; magnitude arises only when two atoms or more combine together and thus form a body. such atoms are, therefore, very different from those of Democritus and Epicurus; having no magnitude, they have neither size nor shape of their own, and thus they cannot be used as the foundations of a mechanical interpretation of the world. Moreover they are not eternal, but created by God when it pleases Him; nor are they numerically constant, since God is always free to create new ones or to annihilate those which He has already created. In order to account for the possibility of motion, these theologians admitted that there is a vacuum, that is, an empty space wherein the atoms may combine, separate and move--that was their second proposition. Now let us join together the first two propositions: God is constantly creating anew a certain number of atoms which are separated from each other by empty space; it becomes immediately apparent from this that their existence is as discontinuous in time as it is in space. In other words, "time is compos of time atoms," each time-element being as indivisible in itself as the atoms themselves. The consequence of that twofold position was very remarkable indeed, since it implied that just as space is made up of elements that are deprived of extension, so time is made up of elements that are deprived of duration. In such a doctrine, Maimonides says, "time would be an object of position and order," to which remark he scornfully adds, "what can be expected of those who do not regard the nature of things?" And yet, starting from similar principles seven centuries later, no less a man than Descartes was to reach similar conclusions. If longer times are not made up of shorter times, if time elements do not last, the obvious implication is that motion itself has nothing to do with duration. Locomotion is the mere "translation of each atom of a body from one point to the next one"; in other words, it is much less a change in time than a transfer of space. As Descartes himself will write in his Principles of Philosophy (bk. II, chap. 25), motion is neither the force nor the action which transports, it is the transportation.

Now, I could continue, for the ensuing discussion on the comparison between Descartes and the theologians Gilson has in mind like Al Ashari is fascinating, but I think this is more than sufficient to illustrate the point. Those theologians started with a particular doctrine, and in order to justify it, they found the propositions that must be true to support it. It was, however, well known that a metaphysical analysis of those very propositions would prove their claims absurd, so rather than dealing with the metaphysical problem, they just denied metaphysics all the way around, arguing that metaphysics doesn't prove anything (anticipating Kant here, I would add). Their conclusions absurd (in this case, that the building blocks of matter have no extension and the building blocks of time have no duration), they simply ignored them, because they must be true given their starting creed. That thinking was not only true of the theologists, but later of Descartes, and after him it would be true of men like Kant, Compte, and a slew of others, all the way up to modern philosophical methods.

So what you have rightly done, it seems to me, is to ask the atheist fundamental questions about what undergirds their worldview. There is, however, nothing there. And there is nothing there because they did not start with reality and so adapt their opinions; rather, they started with an opinion and chose to so look at reality. When your analysis shows it to be empty, rather than argue,they just deny the entire enterprise of nature itself--things have no nature. They just are what they are, and that for no reason. That makes the entire universe arational, which is why the more consistent among the atheists have admitted that, philosophically speaking, we can't know anything because knowledge doesn't really exist. Of course, they can't really live in that that world, so they pretend to have a pragmatic argument for pretending that things like knowledge and nature exist. But it's all just a giant game, and the more I see it--the more time I see the magician do the trick--the more unimpressed I am with it. The only thing that impresses me anymore is how impressed atheists tend to be with themselves. If it weren't so heartbreaking, it would be entertaining in the same way all other forms of slapstick humor are.
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue

And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby domokunrox » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:30 am

I think you guys might be a bit too jaded or cynical if its gone that far.

I concur with a bunch of things that you both have said, but I think you guys are letting them off the hook a bit too easily in letting them simply accept their ways with their terms.

Its not difficult at all to make it absolutely clear that their views don't meet their own standards, and if they can accept that then they necessarily need to literally shutup about absolutely everything in order to maintain their view. Thats a VERY difficult position for the atheist to be in, and its a very difficult position to live your life that way. You guys need to recognize that while there is that intellectual wrestling match going on, you need to be aware that the reason why they are so vain is because they literally think that they are better then God even if he does exist (just like Lucifer). You need to remember that the bible does not say that God's image has been erased from mankind. Man's image is defaced. They lack the clarity of what they really are, but you let them take a hard look at and tell you that theres nothing there or that its actually them.

Theres no need to get frustrated with them. Call a spade a spade and let the wisdom of God do the rest.


There are several terms that I believe we need to be aware of and need to be very well versed in
Spatial Extension
Non-Spatial Extension
Constant conjunction
Necessary connection
Monism (in BOTH realms of Spatial extension and non-Spatial extension)
Pluralism (in BOTH realms of Spatial extension and non-Spatial extension)
Matter in motion
Force

I'm stating my opinion on this matter that if you don't know the ins-and-outs of these things, then forget even making an argument because its unlikely you'll get traction going. But once you do, I assure you that you can bring any atheist into reducing him/her to the absurd and if they at least cared even a tiny bit of how ridiculous they are then it just cascades all from there.

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Alpha~Omega » Fri Apr 26, 2013 2:06 pm

Domo,

Could you expand on the topics you listed and how they relate to what Kurieuo said, or provide a resource for them?
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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Kurieuo » Fri Apr 26, 2013 4:10 pm

I'm a bit lost too. I don't know whether you understood what was said, but... a friend of mine gave me a simple visual that might help.

Atheists dog any beliefs that attempt to explain the basis of reality, but when it comes to their own beliefs they pick themselves up by their bootstraps.
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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby domokunrox » Fri Apr 26, 2013 5:16 pm

ok, certainly. i'll clarify.

We're talking about the atheists who are skeptical to the point where they deny everything you use to explain "ultimate" reality, but then they go ahead and claim their interpretation of "ultimate reality" is more reasonable or "obvious".

The terms I mentioned I'll explain.

Ask yourself what exists? Now it may seem obvious that your list is going to be different and vary from person to person.
Now ask the atheist what exists? Now, there is only 2 ways he can go. If he starts to list off a bunch of physical things, then you're totally fine and we can easily reduce them down to the absurd and get them to acknowledge the merits of OUR METHOD for learning what reality is like.

The other thing they can do is DOUBT everything, correct?
This is where employing a Descartes philosophy will do wonders. Now, I'm not going to do the long explanation, but what Descartes did was prove a short list of foundational knowledge that cannot be doubted.
1. You must exist at least as a imperfect mental substance.
2. Trivial statements are true (The "A" is the same as an "A")
3. God exists

It then follows that we can believe in the rest of reality. I recommend Mediations on first philosophy by Descartes if you want to know how to setup your argument.

As far as the terminology goes,

Spatial extension: Something that takes up space (a rock, for example)
Non-spatial: Something that does not take up space (numbers, ideas, etc)
Constant conjunction: When A occured, B occured
Necessary connection: Whenever A occurs, B MUST OCCUR. A has the POWER or the WILL to make B occur.
Monism: The view that all existence can be reduced to 1 category and there is no 2nd category.
Pluralism: The view that existence or truth is essentially pragmatic.
Matter in motion: Exactly like what it sounds like. (A ball moving)
Force: I am going to purposely leave this one out to spark discussion.

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Alpha~Omega » Sat Apr 27, 2013 5:01 pm

domokunrox wrote:1. You must exist at least as a imperfect mental substance.
2. Trivial statements are true (The "A" is the same as an "A")
3. God exists


I don't see how 1 relates with 2, and how they both come to the conclusion in 3.

Why is it important that trivial statements be true? What would be the purpose in stating something 2 slightly different ways?
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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby domokunrox » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:32 am

Alpha~Omega wrote:
domokunrox wrote:1. You must exist at least as a imperfect mental substance.
2. Trivial statements are true (The "A" is the same as an "A")
3. God exists


I don't see how 1 relates with 2, and how they both come to the conclusion in 3.

Why is it important that trivial statements be true? What would be the purpose in stating something 2 slightly different ways?


Its actually quite simple. What I am essentially doing is exploiting intuitive knowledge. So, there is knowledge that cannot be doubted rationally. Also, we are not capable of being completely irrational. The statements and things we do are irrational because we choose to do so.

By our own admittance, having doubt shows that we are dubitable. Claiming that we don't have knowledge of some things proves exactly what we want. It is at this point that, the fool even agrees with us. The fool understands these things, and because the fool does, he understands perfection. (indubitable, all knowledge, etc)

As far as why its important that trivial statements are true, thats actually quite simple, too. If you deny that trivial statements are true, then you necessarily are affirming that statements are pragmatic. However, thats impossible. Just read the previous statment again and you'll see why.

As far as what the purpose is for stating something in slightly different ways is, again, easy to understand. We do so in order to understand what the differences are because are different by our own admission.

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Kurieuo » Tue Apr 30, 2013 5:44 pm

domokunrox wrote:ok, certainly. i'll clarify.

We're talking about the atheists who are skeptical to the point where they deny everything you use to explain "ultimate" reality, but then they go ahead and claim their interpretation of "ultimate reality" is more reasonable or "obvious".

Well, yes and no...

They don't know what ultimate reality is other than it just is. Why does the universe exist? Is just does. Why is it fine-tuned? It just appears so. Why did life happen rather than not? We exist don't we. Why do we exist? We just evolved to exist. Why are the physical laws as they are? Because they are. Their basic answer is to just assume everything is so without any real reason.

If an Atheist stops there, then fine. But rather they like to criticise and take the micky out of everyone else, believing that they do know infact reality and how it works. "Dead people don't rise from the dead", they say. Or, "this life is all we have." Or "Santa Claus doesn't exist", or the "Spaghetti monster doesn't exist."

Well guess what? The last two exist at least in conceptual form, even being instantiated whether it be people dressing up as Santa, Santa/Spaghetti monster portrayals in drawings or movies. Some Idealists would even posit that such conceptual forms are more real than actually seeing them. Heck, some even believe we "influence reality" rather than "experience reality". Think positive, and positive things will happen for example -- but taken to its extreme and even Santa Claus and Spaghetti monster could be actualised.

Now, I place my cards on the table. I say God exists and holds reality together. What I see and experience can be trusted as being true in some form because God is the author. What is most obvious to me via sense experience is therefore likely true unless there is some good reason to believe otherwise. But, reality just is for the Atheist, the universe just is and it just so happens our sense experience tells us the "truth about the world". There is no justification for believing such other than "that's just the way it works!".

Atheists can't make any real claims about how it works other than assuming what they experience just is so without any justification why. In fact, evolution would say what we experience should be more oriented towards survival than truth. Certainly, believing something false such as a shark will eat us the moment we enter the water would result in higher survival than someone who believed their chances of being eaten are quite slim.

Meh. Atheism thinks it can explain everything, but doesn't explain anything. It is weak in explanatory power and boring.
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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby domokunrox » Tue May 07, 2013 12:56 am

Kurieno,

I am going to be incredibly helpful here in telling you that your recent reply shows thats you are very inexperienced. I think you're jaded and you don't know how to counter their argument.

I mean, look at the very first statement and examine it carefully.

"I dont know what ultimate reality is other then it just is"

BIG CONTRADICTION there, Kurieno. This is pretty much the short & agnostic version of the blind Hindus & elephant story. You are thinking INSIDE THE BRACKETS.

(Here is where I am telling you that I don't know what reality is) and here is where I am telling you what is the reality that I am denying that I know.

I am going to help you Kurieno. Write up a list of their arguments without any of your commentary, and I will go ahead and make an entire thread showing you how to counter them. Don't be so jaded or cynical about it, and let your brothers in Christ help you out.

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Kurieuo » Tue May 07, 2013 1:19 am

Thanks domokunrox.

I think we're actually talking in different worlds so I'll leave my posts above to those that get what I'm saying, to provide what I think is a valuable insight to Atheism.
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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby neo-x » Tue May 07, 2013 1:30 am

Don't be so jaded or cynical about it

FWIW ...K, I don't think you are being jaded(I don't even know if one can be called that) or cynical. :)

Dom, you could have been incredibly helpful by expanding already...instead of just saying that you are incredibly helpful, which I fail to see.
People treat facts as relevant more when the facts tend to support their opinions. When the facts are against their opinions, they don't necessarily deny the facts, but they say the facts are less relevant or insignificant. This is ofcourse because believing things that make you feel comfortable, takes a priority. And I think that should not be the case if one is after truth.

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby domokunrox » Tue May 07, 2013 1:52 am

Kurieno, I don't see the insight here. This thread looks like you're just venting about a Rubik's cube you say cannot be solved. Really.

Neo, if you haven't already noticed, I have sort of expanded on solutions for counter arguments.
Now, I want to put stuff under the philosophical microscope, but you guys need to take out the additional commentary.
I am doing this via mobile phone, and editing walls of texts isn't very good.

Just leave me the quotes, I will tell you what's wrong in detail.

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Jac3510 » Tue May 07, 2013 12:50 pm

domokunrox wrote:Kurieno, I don't see the insight here.

I'm going to be incredibly helpful here and tell you that it's just because you're very inexperienced. ;)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue

And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby RickD » Tue May 07, 2013 1:31 pm

Jac3510 wrote:
domokunrox wrote:Kurieno, I don't see the insight here.

I'm going to be incredibly helpful here and tell you that it's just because you're very inexperienced. ;)

:pound: :pound:
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