Thanks for the reply, I was a bit surprised to have had to go back a couple of pages to read it. You are right, these posts are getting long, but it's a good discussion, I feel.
you go on to interchange point 3 (the untenability of Christianity) with knowledge of god's non-existence (e.g. you say What you seem to say in quote (3.) above, is that you have knowledge that God does not exist, because of the reasons you quoted) which is not what I intended.
my dismissal of Christianity is based on reasoning about its internal [in]coherency, not empircism and evidence (e.g. the Christian god is said to be all-just and all-merciful yet this renders him incoherent because an all-just being matches punishment to crime and an all-merciful being always totally forgives without punishment). Therefore I am unclear as to why you say of my dismissal of Christianity as tenable "I want to know what value system you are using to compare the sets of evidence." I'm not sure what sets of evidence you mean.
I'm confused now. First you say that you don't intend to claim that you have made a knowledge claim about the existence of God based on empiricism, but then you make such a claim. "Internal incoherency" about "all-just and all-merciful" do make knowledge claims. You need to know what coherence is, and you also need knowledge about what all-just and all-merciful means in the Christian God context. In addition, if you are asserting that God is not all-just if He is all-merciful, and vice versa, you need to be able to judge God against another concept of all-merciful and all-just, defined by someone or something that holds a higher moral authority than God. I want to know what that standard is. I would also like to know how you logically came to understand the concepts of all-just and all-merciful, from an atheist perspective.
Furthermore, if your intention is to keep evidence for God's non-existence seperate from your belief that God does not exist, that is merely an argument from ignorance, and as such, not logically valid.
Similarly I need no premises to lack belief in god. I only need hear your hypothesis and respond as to whether I believe you.
So what is it, precisely, that you wish me to believe?
How can you arrive at a conclusion if there is no premise? Above you mention "internal coherence", "all-just" and all-merciful", and a perceived inconsistency in the Christian faith. Is that not a premise: "Christianity is inconsistent", or is that a conclusion based on the premises of coherence, all-just and all-merciful? My premise for not believing the Pluto story was that I don't believe in monsters. I pointed out that it was possibly ill-defined so as to remove any points of confusion.
I don't wish you to believe anything, I'm trying to understand the underlying logic to your conclusion that there is no Christian God.
But what is meant by these three letters on the screen "g-o-d"? If the term "green monster living" was too vague for you why should I accept this ill-defined word as having a clear real world referent?
If you don't understand the defintion of what God means, how can you then assert that you are an atheist? For you to not believe in God, you have to know what it is that you are not believing in, otherwise on what basis are you disbelieving?
I dismiss your hypothesis as you did my green monster living on Pluto and , like you, require no world-view nor premise to do so.
You are putting words in my mouth here, you never established my premises nor my world-view related to that question.
For me, belief is a qualitative phenomenon, not a quantitative one. I have no idea how to make sense of your proposed percentages - that I believe it 70% of the time perhaps? I don't know. ("0%" and "100%" make sense - but not as numbers, merely because they are agreed synonyms for certainty). You do seem to realise this yourself when you say "But at least in the case of Christianity, that would be self-defeating, now wouldn't it? You cannot be half a Christian." and "Surely there cannot be 30% of a god?". Then why bring such numbers up? - I didn't for this very reason.
The reason I brought it up is because you make an absolute statement, "God does not exist", followed by the insertion of an element of uncertainty, i.e. "I may be wrong". I am trying to find out how much uncertainty you intend in the qualifying statement. If you intend no uncertainty, like when I said you cannot be half a Christian, why do you add the statement of uncertainty? Can you be half an atheist?
I think the problem is that you favour a black and white, quantifiable assessment of beliefs, whereas I favour shades of grey and a qualitative assessment.
I think I already responded to this, can you define the shades of grey in the statements "I don't believe that God exists", and "I may be wrong"? If they cannot be defined, how do you confirm that you hold a shades of grey position? My confusion arises because you make a black and white statement followed by a shades of grey qualification.
The key to the issue of my belief, and acknowledged possibility of being wrong, is as follows:
assertions without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. (But the asssertion may still be correct.)
Ok, so here, to be consistent, you are saying there is no evidence for God? (the assertion being that there is a God, and there is no evidence for God.) That would imply that you have looked at all the evidence for God, and ascertained that it is all invalid. It also seems to be contadictory to what you wrote above:"my dismissal of Christianity is based on reasoning about its internal [in]coherency, not empircism and evidence".
As such I chose not to believe unsubstantiated hypothesis and need no grounds to disregard them - if you appoach me empty-handed with a claim of this or that you cannot then demand I scurry around fretting how to prove you wrong. I can have no belief in what you claim, yet what you claim may still be true. It is for you to ensure your claim is coherent and to bring evidence to substantiate your claim if you wish to convince me.
Now I am really confused. You want to see evidence now, yet you don't have to provide any for your position? Why is that?
This also proved the point that I made in my previous post. You claim atheism to be the default position, true by definition, so therefore there is no need to provide proof for atheism. You shift the burden of proof 100% to Christianity, which is pretty convenient if you are atheist. Your position can be stated as absence of evidence is evidence of absence. If you want to argue this way though, you still cannot avoid the burden of proof for atheists. You have to show that the assumption as true that God, if He exists, would leave more evidence than what we presently possess, and that the areas of expected evidence have been suffiently examined.
I also mentioned above already that your position seems then to degenerate into an argument from ignorance, i.e. the assumption that something is not true on the basis of lack of evidence to the contrary.
The burden of proof is on both positions, or otherwise I can just as well take the equally negative position that my case for the existence of God is the lack of evidence for His non-existence, and we are no further than when we started.
atheism must still account for the universe, us being here etc.
Why must it?
If not, on what basis do you propose to reject God? You said it was by the power of your reasoning, but if you cannot account for how your reasoning power came to be, what basis do we have to accept it as valid?
Atheism is a curious word, a mere lack of belief for a common and peculiar claim of higher beings called gods. Yet assertions of gods with no evidence can be dismissed without evidence. I need not account for the universe to dismiss god claims, merely point to the lack of evidence or the internal incoherence of the proposal.
I already addressed this above. If that is your standard, then mine can be the same.
No more than you shifted the burden of proof for your lack of belief in a green monster living on Pluto. I made the monster assertion without evidence, without even clear premises, and you correctly dismissed it without evidence.
The same holds for your god. There is no burden of proof for me to shift - it remains squarely where it belongs, on the shoulders of the proposer.
I will no sooner scurry around to disprove the existence of your god than I will to disprove the existence of alien abductions than I will to disprove that I have been reincarnated many times than I will to disprove that thunder storms are gods warring in the sky that I will to disprove that we are living in The Matrix and than you will to disprove the green monster living on Pluto... ad infinitum (for one can suppose endless unsubstantiated hypotheses)
Assertions without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. Incoherent theories for mysteries can be dismissed without resolving the mystery. An absolutist worldview can be dismissed without adopting an absolutist worldview.
OK, pretty repetitive. I think I have addressed all of these. If not, let me know.
There is a couple of things that you did not address. One was why you hold atheism to a lower standard of proof than God? You also did not answer:
He might exist is not a statement of belief but of the possibility my belief is in error.
But you believe God might exist?