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.
Nils
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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Nils » Sat Oct 21, 2017 12:03 am

Kurieuo, thanks for your contentious answer. It will take me some time to answer.
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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Kurieuo » Sat Oct 21, 2017 4:25 am

I made a few edits to be more clear. I wanted to add on the back of my final remarks in my last post, that is, with Materialism needing be rationally justified itself and not being a default position -- what I find contemptuous, rationally so, isn't that Materialists may believe in their view of the world without rational justifications, but that they go much further and often stand over beliefs of other people as judge of what is/isn't rational given their apparently more enlightened state.

Generally, I'd say such is the hallmark of Atheists, but really, as you pointed out, by such we might say Materialism right? And indeed, such pompous attitudes are rife in the sciences, wherein materialists can be quite adament in thinking they have some cornerstone on science. Indeed, any who dissent from their materialistic philosophy, and who do science, especially if they're submitting papers, are kind of inquisitioned today to try safeguard against any opposing philosophy seeping in. Dawkins, Krauss, and many others come to mind, and they seem to vehemently try defend physical sciences against those who might introduce God (even though ironically much of modern science rests upon the shoulders of many who believed in God and were Christian). Yet, today, for the past century or so, noone scientific should dare believe in God, and if they do then they should be ashamed and remain in the closet.

It reminds me of an exchange I shared between Tolkien and CS Lewis, which is what I wanted to add in here. I refer you to the thread: Are All Myths Fiction including the Christian Myth?
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby PaulSacramento » Mon Oct 23, 2017 4:25 am

Nils wrote:
PaulSacramento wrote:
Nils wrote:
PaulSacramento wrote:If we can't trust or senses and our ability to reason it means that any statement is void, including the one that says you can't trust your senses or reasoning obviously.
BUT we also know that there is more to the universe than what can be perceived solely by our senses.
We can't see/hear/taste and touch anything immaterial or anything outside our ability to see or hear YET we know that things do exist beyond these sense, correct?

Yes, we have good reasons to say that we know some things exist beyond our senses but only if we can get evidence of these things. To do that we have to build a model (or law) from our direct sense observations using the methods of natural science.
Other things that we can not get evidence of we have good reasons not to believe in. How could it be possible to get reliable knowledge from our intuitions, feelings or introspection? There is no way to test such information.
Nils


Any yet, that is how science discovers things.
If we "settled" on only what can be observed or "touched", science would never progress and never find the "undiscoverable".

I am not certain whether you agree with me or not. Science builds on evidence, the "toched" if you want, but can build laws and models of the "undiscoverable", if you by this term mean what is not directly sensed but can be verified or falsified using scientific methods. OK?

Nils


Science is what is done.
With the scientific method we test hypothesis and formulate theories and discover laws.
Thing is, much of it comes from what is NOT observable and not "touchable".
Materialism unnecessarily curtails science and that is why some of the greatest discoveries of science were done by religious men.
There was no reason to thing we could fly, but we did, no reason to think we could travel through space, but we do.
No reason to think we can travel under water, but we do, etc, etc.
We may uses are senses to tray and confirm things but many of the things we try and confirm have nothing to do with them.
Think about it, there was no real reason for Galileo to come up with heliocentrism since geocentrism was working just fine.
But "something" just drove him to it.

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Re: Nature of Reality: A Challenge to Atheists

Postby Nils » Mon Oct 23, 2017 1:28 pm

Kurieuo wrote:We cannot directly sense in the manner a bat senses the world around them. I wonder if your views on reliable knowledge, shared experience, testing and the like isn't too simple. Further to this, the premises that your senses are reliable and you can in fact test this, is well, quite rather a circular argument in that your testing depends upon your senses being reliable.

As for my response to you, I actually spent much time generating one before noticing that you didn't really take up the challenge. Then the boredom I spoke of kind of set in, and I have better things to do. Sorry, I don't mean to offend. It's just the way I feel after 20 years of the the same 'ol stuff (really, not much has really changed in arguments). So I prefer to dedicated my time to more productive things, get annoyed when I waste time responding to something for the nnnth time (not your fault, sometimes I can't help myself). For example, I was frustrated that I ended up spending time responding to certain challenges made with multiverse and first causes (same 'ol stuff to me), before realising that you basically brush away needing to have anything underpinning your materialistic beliefs. It seems to me you think that you can just assume without offering anything for them, except to reason through some pushbacks against assuming God. Nonetheless, despite this, I'll see where I was at and try finish it off, maybe open a different thread because multiverse/first cause stuff veers off more towards debating theism as I see.

So then, I found some of your response was generally already covered in my original post (e.g., see below "Now, regarding the last part of your post..."), other parts of your post did make me tire. Why? Well it seemed to me throughout much of your response that you are simply turning the tables with this is what you believe and justifying such by pushing against what you see as theistic arguments (rather than putting something on the table via making positive arguments for your beliefs).

What is wrong with that? Well, besides being a rather typical Atheist tact, even if "no God" was a logical possibility (understand I see God as a logically necessary being) and the world around us just was as Materialists believe, such doesn't rationally justify your beliefs. So I'd be interested in you putting justifications for your beliefs on the table, giving your reasons for them, rather than simply presenting a materialistic conception of the world and then swiping theistic views of reality off.

Perhaps you see no onus to do so, for you say there is a stalemate in the discussion. We really can't know either way. So, you end with "this is metaphysics and probably we will never get any evidence about which solution is correct." y(:| Yet, you're not being entirely honest here. You don't believe there is a stalemate at all, because you quite passionately believe in your Materialism. And, for me, I don't believe there is a stalemate at all. I see God as a logically necessary being in many ways that go beyond your simplistic summary of some first cause argument.

So then, given you clearly believe in your Materialism, put something on the damn table and stop simply pushing back on theistic logic like all you need to do is remove such arguments and you're rationally justified by default. You may want to rest upon fideism with your Materialism, however so long as we're clear this doesn't make you rationally justified, I can accept this. But, I don't buy that Materialism is the default rational position at all. There are many things that are more than meets the eye, and often taking things at first glance leads us to rather primitive and simplistic conclusions that actually don't represent the truth at all.


Now, regarding the last part of your post, this gets to the heart of the matter as I see which I'm also trying to get at above. For, it seems my opening post was somewhat prophetic of what your response would be regarding dead people coming back to life. Understand though, the questions are intended to more get people thinking about the nature of reality and other possibilities, and to really justify their world ontology. I feel you left the question open as to whether someone comes back from the dead depending upon what one believes. So you seem to again want to leave it in a stalemate, yet such belies your strong Materialistic beliefs which you so laid out for us. You don't believe it is a stalemate, so then put your reasons on the table for your beliefs, rather than merely stating what they are.

Let me try explain what I'm getting at again, only more in context to what you wrote on this:
There is a last question in your OP: "Q: How is it possible for someone to come back from the dead?"
I don't understand why it is important to you but my answer is:
In my materialistic view there has never been any living thing that has come back from the dead, by definition. But if I am mistaken and there is a God that created the universe and the laws I can't see any problem for him to wake somebody up from the dead or doing any miracle he wants.

Now I wrote in my opening post the typical response is one like "dead people don't come back to life." This is pretty much how you responded. If we read what I originally wrote in total, hopefully it becomes obvious you have kind of missed the point I was making. I'll quote the relevant part here:
Kurieuo wrote: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?

So as I said, you seem to want to leave this question as a stalemate like: "Why, if God exists, then yes, Jesus can be risen; if God doesn't, then no." And yet, you very much passionately believe in your materialistic view of the world. You presume you know what the world really is and where it ends. Which is why something like Jesus' resurrection is just not on your table of beliefs you are able to choose to believe in, perhaps no more than pink unicorns flying around the sky.

In summary, clearly you don't believe there is a stalemate at all. You seem content with your Materialism and you appear to accept it as default without requiring much if any justification. Rationally, such is no better than Christians raised Christian who believe in their default position in life without justification. It doesn't mean you or they are wrong, but it "passes the buck" so-to-speak. Getting back to what I said earlier, I don't buy that Materialism is the default rational position (there are really zero neutral positions as I see) and think only someone being rationally superficial, even gullible, would take the world at face value without looking more carefully at the face they see and pondering more deeply about it.


There are lot of things to comment in your post and I'll try to cover them.

Some preliminaries:

When I was talking about "stalemate" I only referred to the specific question about what created the universe, God or a multiverse. If you put aside all other arguments pro and con God I don't find that the question about the creation of the universe supports any belief in God or no God. Hence the stalemate here. I don't argue that the question of materialism versus God is in stalemate, not at all. (You call me a "passionate" materialist, I am glad to hear that, I hear too seldom anyone calling me "passionate").

You ask me to put my arguments on the table. " put your reasons on the table for your beliefs, rather than merely stating what they are." That is fair but I thought that you primarily wanted to find out what my worldview waw, if it was consistent or not. My reasons will take time to write and my post was already long as it was. To write about even a single argument in depth requires a lot of effort, at least to me.
Besides when I in one of my first posts here on the forum mentioned my old list of 28 arguments (it is longer now) you didn't seem interested. You only joked that they were probably not new. Now I have an argument that I haven't seen discussed before but I will come back to it later.

In the OP you talk about the dullness of the materialistic view. I understand you, certainly persons that convert from some religion to atheism have a problem. Missing someone that really cares about you. Leaving some kind of community of persons that have the same worldview and rituals etc.

You write: "For example, I was frustrated that I ended up spending time responding to certain challenges made with multiverse and first causes (same 'ol stuff to me), before realising that you basically brush away needing to have anything underpinning your materialistic beliefs. It seems to me you think that you can just assume without offering anything for them, except to reason through some pushbacks against assuming God. "

Concerning the default rational position (materialism) I think there are some arguments for claiming that materialism is the default position and that the burden of proof lies on those who wants to add to the simplest worldview (mainly referring to Occam). On the other hand there are arguments in the other direction (mainly noting that the majority of mankind is religious and many of these are Christians). So I agree that it is not possible to stick to a "default" position but that is not obvious. If some persons argue for A and others don't have any arguments for not A but only think that the arguments for A are bad. Do the others really have to adopt A?

Regarding your question "Q: How is it possible for someone to come back from the dead?", I am sorry, I don't understand why you bring up this question. I read and reread and don't get anywhere. I understand your basic question, how can a materialist justify her view, but why exemplify it by the raising from the dead. If you are a materialist then of course you don't think that anyone can come back from the dead. You say " 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!" If you complain that the materialist ignores the possibility that her worldview is wrong, I can follow you. But when you complain that she concluded what follows from materialism, I can't.

Much more could be written about the issues above but I have to keep it short to be able to come to the important issue.

So finally to the topic of this thread. How can a materialist support her worldview that there is nothing more than the physical. Or as you and others state it: How can the mind of men be rational if there is no God the guarantees the rationality.

The materialistic answer is evolution. It has a high evolutionary value to have true beliefs. Now this has been questioned by Plantinga, as you certainly know. The argument is develop in the first part of Naturalism Defeated
http://www.calvin.edu/academic/philosop ... feated.pdf

Plantinga thinks that "evolution is interested (so to speak) only in adaptive behavior, not in true belief....We can [write the] claim as P(R/N&E) is low, where 'R' is the proposition that our cognitive faculties are reliable, 'N' the proposition that naturalism is true, and 'E' the proposition that we have evolved according to the suggestions of contemporary evolutionary theory [and P is a probability]....If, for example, behavior isn't caused or governed by belief, the latter would be, so to speak, invisible to natural selection; in that case it would be unlikely that most of our beliefs are true, and unlikely that our cognitive faculties are for the most part reliable." Plantinga then argues that the probability P(R/N&E) is low. As an example he takes Paul, a prehistoric hominid that meets a hungry tiger. Fleeing is then perhaps the most appropriate behaviour but this behaviour could be produced by a large number of different belief-desire pairs. Perhaps Paul very much likes the idea of being eaten, but when he sees a tiger, always runs off looking for a better prospect, because he thinks it unlikely that the tiger he sees will eat him.
With this and similar examples Plantinga thinks he has shown that P(R/N&E) is low. The rest of his treatise discusses the consequences of that and the conclusion is that naturalism and evolution both can't be true at the same time - that it would give the naturalist-evolutionist a defeater for R.

It is always interesting to read Plantinga but he is as usual, IMO, wrong. He argues forcefully and in depth that a low P(R/N&E) is a problem for the rationality of a materialist. But the argument for P(R/N&E) being low is very weak. Plantinga probably uses an example with a tiger because the tiger is one of the most dangerous animals a man can meet. But he misses that there is a far more dangerous enemy namely another man. The early hominids were hunter gathers and lived in small groups that constantly were in low intensity war with other groups. It must have been of uttermost interest to have reliable perception of the circumstances, supporting some internal map of the landscape, understanding where it is possible to move fast or to hide , and having a good idea of how the enemy thinks to be able to be cleverer than he, etc. Very complex properties indeed. I find it totally improbable that men that didn't have a mainly reliable perception could survive in competition with others that have a more reliable perception. Evolution would favour the fittest, the one that has the most reliable mind.

Plantinga also discuss the possibility that believes are epiphenomenal i.e. do not influence the actions. This seems to be improbable because evolution suppresses features that have no value for fitness. This is about economy of energy. Besides there are lot of examples where believes do influence how we act.

Nowadays we have another method to check the rationality. With the scientific method we can make predictions based on our understanding of the world. If these predictions are met they are indications of that our thinking is rational. For instance the theory of general relativity is far from intuitive but it is verified all the time.

So, I don't see any reason why my understanding of the reality would be deluded. But I am not certain whether you think that the discussion above is to " really take up the challenge." Here I only answer your challenge that my experiences are reliable. If you ask for positive arguments that atheism is true there are, as I said earlier, only one or two as far as I know but I have started to write about them and I think that I'll start a new thread about them.

In an earlier post you referred to the thread "Is being an atheist irrational" to find out your arguments against atheism. I have now read it and I think that I have a rather clear understanding of your arguments. It will probably not astonish you but I don't find any of the arguments convincing but that is a long story.

So, summing up. In the OP you mentioned four questions. My answers are in short:
Q: What caused the "big bang" that brought our universe (time, space, energy, matter) into existence?
A: No simple answer. Has to be discussed. You said you would open a new thread. God idea.

Q: How do you know what you experience is true?
A: See above.

Q: How do the physical laws hold together?
A: Same question as the first question

Q: How is it possible for someone to come back from the dead?
A: I don't see the importance, even not the relevance, see above

You end by saying that you " think only someone being rationally superficial, even gullible, would take the world at face value without looking more carefully at the face they see and pondering more deeply about it."
Agree! That's why I am here on this forum.

Nils


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