Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

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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Kurieuo
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Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#1

Post by Kurieuo » Tue May 07, 2013 6:06 am

I decided to just spend a few minutes thinking of things Atheists often say and claim, which I don't believe Atheism can actually support.

Atheism is kind of funny. We all naturally tend to believe certain things like being able to know truth, morality--some things really are bad like perhaps the crusades, "we" exist and are responsible for our decisions--even our thinking ability, justice ought to be served and the like. Because of this, I doubt there is an Atheist alive who is not an inconsistent Atheist. For to believe in many of these things, such beliefs have a basis in Theistic foundations that an Atheist must unwittingly borrow from.

So let me get started with some. I know I'm writing to the choir here, but I'm happy for an Atheist or two to try and defend against my statements if moderators allow.
  • Atheists often say they accept what can be seen, smelt, touched, heard or tasted (i.e., accept truth about the world via physical senses). Yet, they fail to justify how that truth can be known without embracing fideism.
  • Atheists often say that God would be morally wrong to allow pain and suffering in the world if He is all-powerful and all-benevolent (or say "send people to hell"). Yet, the reality of concepts are not physically sensed--including objective moral concepts that some things really are wrong while other things really are bad regardless of what anyone thinks. Such wreaks of Theism.
  • Atheists often claim to be free thinkers, while embracing that we're the product of entirely physical processes and could not be other than what we are (Determinism).
  • Atheists often claim moral superiority in doing "good" for goodness sake rather than God's sake, yet what is the superior morality of which they speak and how is it they stand above the physical processes that constructed them to be "morally superior"?
  • Atheists often adhere to Physicalism, yet then believe what we sense of the world is true of the world. Yet Science, particularly physics, forces us to conclude that the world contains colourless particles and waves. Colour is therefore an illusion, a mental abstraction of the physical world that in fact nowhere exists in the physical world. A tinge of inconsistency here perhaps?
  • Atheism is built upon the hypocrisy of beliefs it pretends to have, but ultimately cannot sustain.
Feel free to add your own.
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#2

Post by Thadeyus » Sun Jun 23, 2013 12:10 pm

Hello! :D

So...on the sliding scale of Agnosticism I'm closer to the Atheists end. ;)

Thought I'd have a go at bouncing ideas around in reaction to these questions. :)

Your first point: Atheists often say they accept what can be seen, smelt, touched, heard or tasted (i.e., accept truth about the world via physical senses). Yet, they fail to justify how that truth can be known without embracing fideism.

I do believe that it can be said that (Realism/Reality) =/= (Truth)

I would hazard a guess and say that every one accepts reality, as well as it being the same reality. (Other wise, one wonders why Kurieuo doesn't simply just go off flaoting through walls) BUT that the use/definition of the word 'Truth' in the above statement doesn't necessarily relate back to the words of 'Reality'.

The second point: Atheists often say that God would be morally wrong to allow pain and suffering in the world if He is all-powerful and all-benevolent (or say "send people to hell"). Yet, the reality of concepts are not physically sensed--including objective moral concepts that some things really are wrong while other things really are bad regardless of what anyone thinks. Such wreaks of Theism.

I must admit I've rather always seen it as a question by Atheists as opposed to a statement. If there is a wondrous, loving omniscient, omnipotent being....Why do people fall over and graze their knees? Why isn't the ground made out of something like rubber? Pain and suffering are words used to conceptualize actual things. The word 'Thirst' or 'Starvation' in English match up with actual physical states...not the other way around.

The third point: Atheists often claim to be free thinkers, while embracing that we're the product of entirely physical processes and could not be other than what we are (Determinism).

Again 'Entirely physical thought processes' =/= 'Free thinking'.

We understand (Barely) that the brain can be likened to a computer and that one of the fundamental things about such a device is that it can actually act upon itself to effect/enact changes in said programming. To correlate. New thoughts actually need new wiring between synapses....potentially (Especially in growing brains) actual new synapses being grown.

The fourth point: Atheists often claim moral superiority in doing "good" for goodness sake rather than God's sake, yet what is the superior morality of which they speak and how is it they stand above the physical processes that constructed them to be "morally superior"?

Isn't it that Atheists claim 'Moral superiority' because they've actually worked them out for themselves...And not simply taken things by rote? They are kind of saying the hard work/thoughts/debates/thinking/reasoning is/has of more value than simply accepting what has gone on before?

The fifth point: Atheists often adhere to Physicalism, yet then believe what we sense of the world is true of the world. Yet Science, particularly physics, forces us to conclude that the world contains colourless particles and waves. Colour is therefore an illusion, a mental abstraction of the physical world that in fact nowhere exists in the physical world. A tinge of inconsistency here perhaps?

*Tilts head* Um...Again...I'd like to know if Kurieuo sometimes becomes so detached that they float off through walls. Colourless particles =/= No colour. Colour is an accepted part of the spectrum...of the different frequencies of light etc...The words we apply to said frequencies again gives us the concepts to think (Back to the computer brain adjusting its own programming) such things.

The sixth point: Atheism is built upon the hypocrisy of beliefs it pretends to have, but ultimately cannot sustain.

*Sits back and flings elastic bands @ Kurieuo until they get really annoyed.*

:D Hope that's a naffy first post and hello to folks upon the boards. :)

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#3

Post by 1over137 » Mon Jun 24, 2013 12:19 pm

Small note: color of particles has nothing to do with color as we know it from daily life. Just a naming. See http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hb ... color.html
But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#4

Post by CazPerth » Mon Jul 01, 2013 7:38 am

Hello Thadeyus, I see myself in you 8 months in the past. I was an atheist/agnostic (call it a swinging vote) I had the same questions and objection as you. The main one was that I just couldn't get past the idea of a "good" God causing so much pain in this world. Then a Christian friend inspired me to think about free will, on that day I was called by Jesus and began to study the Bible and what others, both Christian and atheist, have to say; I am absolutely certain that a change occurred in me on that day and I was lit from within with a hunger to learn His Word.

I have examined what happened to me from my former atheist position and what I know of psychology as an undergraduate student. I do recognize that my desire to make a pattern of existence and want to find a meaning in it would make me more open to a "designer" of everything. But you know what? I am happy to accept that I can never really know. I am happy to accept that I was subject to a force which I can never fully understand and I know that I am ecstatic when I experience the mystery that is God working in my life.

I really don't think I could go from being 'pretty OK' with my life as an atheist to a very mild conversation with a friend about their beliefs and get a BAM! GOT to believe in Jesus followed by an intense period of investigation into the Scriptures for no reason. But ultimately, it's a mystery and all I know is the message I received from Jesus Christ on that day. It was very clear; "I am here, if you want me"

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#5

Post by Thadeyus » Mon Jul 01, 2013 11:51 am

Hello to yourself CazPerth.

Much happiness for your life path as it takes you into the future.

Not much more to say really, other than perhaps a small misconception. I'm not really 'swinging' as it were. Perhaps I should say Atheist on the agnostic end of the bell curve?

Any who, I'm glad we're all pleased with our lives and may things continue to be rosy for all.

Much cheers.

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#6

Post by BryanH » Thu Jul 18, 2013 6:57 am

Atheism is built upon the hypocrisy of beliefs it pretends to have, but ultimately cannot sustain.
If you disregard someone's beliefs from the start, why should they listen to what you have to say about your beliefs?

Do you think atheism is so simple as you have expressed it in your summary?

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#7

Post by CazPerth » Mon Aug 05, 2013 5:34 am

And yet atheists continue to engage with Christians in places such as this. God bless them.

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#8

Post by DowTingTom » Tue Aug 06, 2013 5:53 pm

Kurieuo wrote:...

So let me get started with some. I know I'm writing to the choir here, but I'm happy for an Atheist or two to try and defend against my statements if moderators allow.
  • Atheists often say they accept what can be seen, smelt, touched, heard or tasted (i.e., accept truth about the world via physical senses). Yet, they fail to justify how that truth can be known without embracing fideism.
  • Atheists often say that God would be morally wrong to allow pain and suffering in the world if He is all-powerful and all-benevolent (or say "send people to hell"). Yet, the reality of concepts are not physically sensed--including objective moral concepts that some things really are wrong while other things really are bad regardless of what anyone thinks. Such wreaks of Theism.
  • Atheists often claim to be free thinkers, while embracing that we're the product of entirely physical processes and could not be other than what we are (Determinism).
  • Atheists often claim moral superiority in doing "good" for goodness sake rather than God's sake, yet what is the superior morality of which they speak and how is it they stand above the physical processes that constructed them to be "morally superior"?
  • Atheists often adhere to Physicalism, yet then believe what we sense of the world is true of the world. Yet Science, particularly physics, forces us to conclude that the world contains colourless particles and waves. Colour is therefore an illusion, a mental abstraction of the physical world that in fact nowhere exists in the physical world. A tinge of inconsistency here perhaps?
  • Atheism is built upon the hypocrisy of beliefs it pretends to have, but ultimately cannot sustain.
Feel free to add your own.
I don't actually understand much of this, but I can tell enough to see a straw-man argument. The clue is the repetition of the phrase 'Atheists often ...' Atheism isn't a belief-set. To be atheist means you don't believe in God. It doesn't mean you do believe x,y and z. It is defined by what you don't believe in - and that is God, so it's meaningless to try and create a list of beliefs atheists have. There is one common belief. Atheists believe there is no God.

For some reason theists have tremendous difficulty with this concept.

Your description of things that you think 'Atheists often ...' do or say is as meaningless as noting that dogs often swim and then criticising them for not meeting some criteria you have for judging fish.

What do you think "Atheism is built upon the hypocrisy of beliefs it pretends to have, but ultimately cannot sustain" actually mean, by the way? I understand all the words, but not the sentence.

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#9

Post by Icthus » Tue Aug 06, 2013 7:46 pm

I don't want to seem like I'm picking on you Dow (I'm not, I promise). I just happened to have some time to post, and you are the most recent responder to several active topics. I apologize if I seem confrontational towards a new poster.

In any case, I should think that the fact that Kurieuo speaks of what Atheists "often say or claim" is precisely why it is not a straw-man. There is no equivocating between what some Atheists say and what all of them believe, and Kurieuo has not presented us with a crude caricature of the sort of claims that many make. The point being made is that many arguments made by Atheists rest upon philosophical and metaphysical assumptions that are actually quite untenable given an Atheistic world and that what is often peddled as a rational substitute for theism is ultimately incoherent. For example, the Atheist is practically by nature a materialist, and it is difficult if not impossible for a materialist account of the world to accommodate the intentionality and content of human thoughts. This leads to a dilemma in which said Atheist must either partially or completely abandon materialism to recover intentionality or adopt an eliminativism that arguably renders their position incoherent.

Again sorry to be a bother. I know I'm an incorrigible nag (its the English professor in me), but do forgive me.
“The Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried.” -G.K. Chesterton

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#10

Post by DowTingTom » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:14 am

Icthus wrote:I don't want to seem like I'm picking on you Dow (I'm not, I promise). I just happened to have some time to post, and you are the most recent responder to several active topics. I apologize if I seem confrontational towards a new poster.

In any case, I should think that the fact that Kurieuo speaks of what Atheists "often say or claim" is precisely why it is not a straw-man. There is no equivocating between what some Atheists say and what all of them believe, and Kurieuo has not presented us with a crude caricature of the sort of claims that many make. The point being made is that many arguments made by Atheists rest upon philosophical and metaphysical assumptions that are actually quite untenable given an Atheistic world and that what is often peddled as a rational substitute for theism is ultimately incoherent. For example, the Atheist is practically by nature a materialist, and it is difficult if not impossible for a materialist account of the world to accommodate the intentionality and content of human thoughts. This leads to a dilemma in which said Atheist must either partially or completely abandon materialism to recover intentionality or adopt an eliminativism that arguably renders their position incoherent.

Again sorry to be a bother. I know I'm an incorrigible nag (its the English professor in me), but do forgive me.
No bother, Icthus. It's nice to find a forum where people reply :)

I'd question your statement "For example, the Atheist is practically by nature a materialist" - again it makes an assumption about the beliefs of atheists that it is simply not possible to make.

If you are going to allow an argument based on one person's perception of what a widely disparate group of people 'often' think then I presume you would feel it equally valid if I were to judge all Christians by a collection of the wildest beliefs I can find amongst people who proclaim themselves to be Christian?

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#11

Post by Thadeyus » Wed Aug 07, 2013 5:47 am

Icthus wrote:I don't want to seem like I'm picking on you Dow (I'm not, I promise). I just happened to have some time to post, and you are the most recent responder to several active topics. I apologize if I seem confrontational towards a new poster.

In any case, I should think that the fact that Kurieuo speaks of what Atheists "often say or claim" is precisely why it is not a straw-man. There is no equivocating between what some Atheists say and what all of them believe, and Kurieuo has not presented us with a crude caricature of the sort of claims that many make. The point being made is that many arguments made by Atheists rest upon philosophical and metaphysical assumptions that are actually quite untenable given an Atheistic world and that what is often peddled as a rational substitute for theism is ultimately incoherent. For example, the Atheist is practically by nature a materialist, and it is difficult if not impossible for a materialist account of the world to accommodate the intentionality and content of human thoughts. This leads to a dilemma in which said Atheist must either partially or completely abandon materialism to recover intentionality or adopt an eliminativism that arguably renders their position incoherent.

Again sorry to be a bother. I know I'm an incorrigible nag (its the English professor in me), but do forgive me.
*Waves* Well...to be fair, it has previously been pointed out why Kurieuo's fifth point is a little wonky.

Very much cheers to all.

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#12

Post by Icthus » Wed Aug 07, 2013 6:43 am

Thadeyus wrote: *Waves* Well...to be fair, it has previously been pointed out why Kurieuo's fifth point is a little wonky.

Very much cheers to all.
I don't see much wonkiness in the fifth point. The fact that what we term colour (to use your example) correlates physically with the spectrum of light does nothing to explain the phenomenon of experiencing colour itself. As one eminent philosopher once noted (why can't I remember which one?), if Mary is a brilliant scientist who has dedicated her life to studying the colour red and has succeeded in learning every possible physical fact about it but has never actually seen red, she will learn something new about red once she does see it thereby gaining knowledge about the colour outside of the physical facts. This means that there is either something about the colour itself or about our experience of it that cannot be accounted for in physical terms.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#13

Post by Thadeyus » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:23 pm

Icthus wrote:
Thadeyus wrote:I don't see much wonkiness in the fifth point. The fact that what we term colour (to use your example) correlates physically with the spectrum of light does nothing to explain the phenomenon of experiencing colour itself. As one eminent philosopher once noted (why can't I remember which one?), if Mary is a brilliant scientist who has dedicated her life to studying the colour red and has succeeded in learning every possible physical fact about it but has never actually seen red, she will learn something new about red once she does see it thereby gaining knowledge about the colour outside of the physical facts. This means that there is either something about the colour itself or about our experience of it that cannot be accounted for in physical terms.
Well...for a start that's not quite what's wrong with point five.

So...the 'red' aspect of that which we call said colour is an intrinsic part of said element in said spectrum, so yes said scientist will see red.

The wonky part about point five is that colour is an inherent thing, not an abstract. I can point to the ruler on my desk and through the shared information within the language we are using to communicate pass on the information that it is green.

Our shared, evolved language has a definition for said thing that we both understand as to what the word describe in reference to the light reflected by the structure of the ruler. The colour (In both instances) is not an illusion. Hence the wonky-ness of point five.

So...no inconstancy about at all.

*Gets metaphorical elastic bands ready to metaphysically flick at people...*

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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#14

Post by Icthus » Wed Aug 07, 2013 1:31 pm

Thadeyus wrote:
Icthus wrote:
Thadeyus wrote:I don't see much wonkiness in the fifth point. The fact that what we term colour (to use your example) correlates physically with the spectrum of light does nothing to explain the phenomenon of experiencing colour itself. As one eminent philosopher once noted (why can't I remember which one?), if Mary is a brilliant scientist who has dedicated her life to studying the colour red and has succeeded in learning every possible physical fact about it but has never actually seen red, she will learn something new about red once she does see it thereby gaining knowledge about the colour outside of the physical facts. This means that there is either something about the colour itself or about our experience of it that cannot be accounted for in physical terms.
Well...for a start that's not quite what's wrong with point five.

So...the 'red' aspect of that which we call said colour is an intrinsic part of said element in said spectrum, so yes said scientist will see red.

The wonky part about point five is that colour is an inherent thing, not an abstract. I can point to the ruler on my desk and through the shared information within the language we are using to communicate pass on the information that it is green.

Our shared, evolved language has a definition for said thing that we both understand as to what the word describe in reference to the light reflected by the structure of the ruler. The colour (In both instances) is not an illusion. Hence the wonky-ness of point five.

So...no inconstancy about at all.

*Gets metaphorical elastic bands ready to metaphysically flick at people...*
I don't quite get what you mean. You say that "colour is an intrinsic part of said element in said spectrum," but this is exactly the opposite of what most materialist philosophers actually argue (that color as common sense understands it exists only subjectively in the human mind and that there is nothing in the physical characteristics of the visible spectrum that is identical to what we see when we look at it. In other words, visible light has certain properties we construe as colour, but the idea that there is something a "colour" "looks like" is an illusion).

I don't exactly follow the logic between introducing a discussion of language into the issue, but it may be my fault for mentioning "what we term color." I am not referring to language per se but to colour as common sense understands it (i.e. that something "looks" red, or green, or what have you). Although no one is denying that the visible spectrum exists, most materialist philosophers would deny that colour is inherent in anything (to do so, even when it has been attempted, will almost without exception lead to a position bearing more resemblance to something like Aristotelianism), being merely a subjective projection by the human mind (which I might add, an eliminativist, who I hold to be the most consistent materialist, would consider to be an illusion itself).

The point of Kurieuo's fifth point is to highlight the way that the mechanistic conception of the world often employed by materialists inherently rejects what we perceive in the world as merely the product of our own minds, that only what can be described by physics exists. Under physicalism waves and particles exist but colours, sounds, scents, etc only exist subjectively. It is possible, for instance, for scientific equipment to detect light at the frequency corresponding with "red," but it cannot "see" red as qualia aren't actually real. This leads to a great deal of trouble as A) it is difficult if not impossible to form a cogent worldview if the reality of the world as you perceive it doesn't correspond with reality as it is and B) it requires such things as qualia, the content of language, and intentionality to be swept under the rug somewhere, which is quite problematic.
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Re: Can Atheism Stand On Its Own Two Feet?

#15

Post by Thadeyus » Wed Aug 07, 2013 2:02 pm

*Flicks metaphysical elastic band @ Icthus' head*
Icthus wrote:I don't quite get what you mean. You say that "colour is an intrinsic part of said element in said spectrum," but this is exactly the opposite of what most materialist philosophers actually argue (that color as common sense understands it exists only subjectively in the human mind and that there is nothing in the physical characteristics of the visible spectrum that is identical to what we see when we look at it. In other words, visible light has certain properties we construe as colour, but the idea that there is something a "colour" "looks like" is an illusion).
The world 'is'. We agree on this? We are transferring information through the medium of our shared language. There are inherent ideas/concepts etc literally built into said language that have meanings tied to them within our backgrounds/education/upbringing etc (The whole gamut of living/growing up/education etc). Within the shared definitions of our inherited language are words with meanings/definitions attache. hence something is 'green'...or 'red'. I type said words, you read them and there emerges a pattern within your mind from which you draw understanding.

*Flicks metaphysical elastic band @ Icthus' head*
Icthus wrote:I don't exactly follow the logic between introducing a discussion of language into the issue, but it may be my fault for mentioning "what we term color." I am not referring to language per se but to colour as common sense understands it (i.e. that something "looks" red, or green, or what have you). Although no one is denying that the visible spectrum exists, most materialist philosophers would deny that colour is inherent in anything (to do so, even when it has been attempted, will almost without exception lead to a position bearing more resemblance to something like Aristotelianism), being merely a subjective projection by the human mind (which I might add, an eliminativist, who I hold to be the most consistent materialist, would consider to be an illusion itself).
Except when I type a word (Purple) your mind automatically assigns 'something' to said word (Go on, DO NOT think about the purple elephant behind you. I dare you!) Colour is an inherent property of the way light refracts from everything. It's a break down of the whole spectrum emitted (Generally by the fusion ball about which we orbit) into what is reflected/refracted. Again getting back to 'The world is'.

(Go on, DO NOT think about the purple elephant behind you!)

*Flicks metaphysical elastic band @ Icthus' head*
Icthus wrote:The point of Kurieuo's fifth point is to highlight the way that the mechanistic conception of the world often employed by materialists inherently rejects what we perceive in the world as merely the product of our own minds, that only what can be described by physics exists. Under physicalism waves and particles exist but colours, sounds, scents, etc only exist subjectively. It is possible, for instance, for scientific equipment to detect light at the frequency corresponding with "red," but it cannot "see" red as qualia aren't actually real. This leads to a great deal of trouble as A) it is difficult if not impossible to form a cogent worldview if the reality of the world as you perceive it doesn't correspond with reality as it is and B) it requires such things as qualia, the content of language, and intentionality to be swept under the rug somewhere, which is quite problematic.
Colours, sounds etc may have 'subjective' mental constructs attached to them....but, since we are typing about/transferring shared information and have communal understanding of said information/concepts being transmitted. (As I said, the concepts/ideas/information is part of the very construct of the information we are sharing) they exist and we experience them. Our development/education.society etc give us the mental tools to do anything with them.

So...colour (which ever part of the spectrum you like) exists as inherent properties of that which is light interacting/reflecting/refracting with/from/against everything around us.

(DO NOT think about the purple elephant behind you!)

*Flicks metaphysical elastic band @ Icthus' head*

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