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BGoodForGoodSake
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#61

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:33 pm

August wrote:As for your two examples, I would argue that your statement about the atheist is internally inconsistent. By which criteria do you differentiate between "I lack belief in God" vs "He might exist"? Your first statement is a statement of non-belief which you follow with a statement of belief.
It's not too difficult to have reached a conclusion but not be absolutely certain of it. I don't understand why you have a problem with this?
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#62

Post by August » Fri Oct 28, 2005 6:02 pm

BGoodForGoodSake wrote:
August wrote:As for your two examples, I would argue that your statement about the atheist is internally inconsistent. By which criteria do you differentiate between "I lack belief in God" vs "He might exist"? Your first statement is a statement of non-belief which you follow with a statement of belief.
It's not too difficult to have reached a conclusion but not be absolutely certain of it. I don't understand why you have a problem with this?
If you say that you have no belief in a god, that does not indicate uncertainty. "No" is an absolute statement, i.e. 100% sure that such a thing does not exist. That 100% uncertainty is followed by a qualifying statement, which does not follow. The way it was stated, it leaves no room for doubt. If he then proceeds to say that he is almost sure, or a little sure or something like that, then the statement becomes irreconcilable with atheism, which literally means non-theist, also pretty absolute. I know that many atheists argue this point, but I am unconvinced that they can logically hold atheism to be true, but also hold that there may be a god. If I were to state the opposite, I am a theist but there may be no God, would that pass as a rational statement? If I describe myself as a theist, by definition I accept the existence of a god, and my follow-up statement makes my assertion refute itself.
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#63

Post by Byblos » Fri Oct 28, 2005 8:09 pm

Blob wrote:
Byblos wrote:You're probably closer to being Christian than many Christians.
Thanks, though to clarify I'm not a tee-totaler. I have a glass of wine or a beer 2 or 3 times a week.
Me too. I have a sip of wine almost every Sunday.

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#64

Post by Blob » Fri Oct 28, 2005 11:47 pm

BGoodForGoodSake wrote:But back to the subject, Blob do you think that personality is a manisfestation of the physical body?
I think it is a manifestation of a physical person acting within an environment.
In other words if I removed part of your brain, is it conceiveable that your beleif's might change?
Yes it is. But change the environment and beliefs change too. I know this from having lived in several very different cultures around the world myself.
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#65

Post by Blob » Sat Oct 29, 2005 12:30 am

August wrote:and then I am aware of the ontological argument for the existence of God, but this is not what we are talking about. There can be absolute epistemological claims too.
I don't know what the ontological argument is. (Actually I'm probably familiar with it but didn't realise it had a name).
Can you maybe explain a bit more how you reconcile your statement with the definition of ontology?
Ontology deals with what exists - and I don't belief god does. Epsitemology deals with what can be known - I acknowledge I know very very little in the scheme of things so god could exist and my belief might be in error.

I consider the god-claim to be a hypothesis which is unsubstatianted (and therefore not to be believed) but not necessarily untrue.
Also, if you are making an epistemological statement about your belief, you must know the underlying premise before you can make the statement. Or do you believe it is possible to believe something without knowing the premise?
I think the premises must be known to believe something. Above you (quite correctly) pointed out the flaws in my "green monster living on pluto" hypothesis as being vague and ill-defined. As such you did not believe it. The same goes for me with god - the hypothesis is not just unsubstantiated (and so not to be believed as with my "cube of gold on pluto") but is also vague and ill-defined so (as with the green monster) there really is no substance to believe in the first place.
As I read it, your premise is that there is no God.
The premises of the god claim are too vague and ill-defined to justify belief, in addition to the hypothesis being unsubstantied.
I'm probably missing something in here, but I cannot for the life of me think of any other premise that would make sense in this context, except maybe the premise that we cannot know know if there is a God.
In fact the premise "we cannot know if there is a god" is agnosticism. I am not agnostic because I think that if there is a god he would be knowable.
As for the statement of absolutes, I have argued that your statement:"I have no belief in God." already includes the absolute of your non-belief i.e. is your unbelief 100% or not?
I have zero belief in the Christian god, nor any other god for that matter. But it is based on not suspending disbelief towards an unsubstatntiated, vague and ill-defined hypothesis, rather than absolute knowledge or 100% certainty.
I don't see how you can claim that it does not make a knowledge claim, except if you are irrational, which I don't think you are.
It really is a simple case of acknowledging the distinction between what one believes and what one knows; between what one suspects to be the case and what one can prove to be the case.
You also have an implied belief in the law of probability, which is also an absolute.
I consider mathematical principles to absolutely knowable. If you throw a fair dice once I cannot predict the outcome; if you throw a fair dice a million times I know with certainty the distribution to great accuracy.
Do you believe that there is an absolute true reality?
I believe in an absolute reality that exists out there independent of us. To ask if reality is "true" is a category error - like asking if a peice of pie or the rules of chess are true.
That reminds me, I'm all out of lipgloss!
:shock:
Joke, for the record.
I already asked above, but can you maybe explain how you conclude that ontological=absolutist?
Ontology relates to that which objectively exists irrespective of perception. In this sense it might be said to be absolute, although when I say "absolutism" I refer to a human condition of considering one's self to be absolutely correct in one's beliefs.
The ontological claim for God is the claim that He exists by proof from something other than observation. Is it your position that we can only know the truth through observation?
Not at all. I know for certain (i.e. in an absolutist manner) that a million cubes of length 1cm would have a total volume of 1 million cm cubed. But I have never literally checked it out - I don't need to, it can be inferred through reason.
Ok, I understood a long time ago that you hold the so-called "weak" position on atheism, which you have defined several times on the forum already. Once again we argue about definitions. I have already expressed that I believe that you are making an absolute statement when you profess no belief, so I wil leave it at that.
Okay, let's agree to disagree.
As far as ideology is concerned, there are several definitions, and I would agee that atheism does not fit all of them, it is not a political or economic system, but for that matter, neither is Christianity. If we assume a really weak definition, i.e. manner of thinking, then it applies to both atheism and Christianity.
The problem with such arguments is you seem to be arguing "atheism is just as idealogical and therefore untenable as Christianity". By that reasoning would you consider agnosticism to be superior to both?

I don't see how a mere lack of belief in a proposed hypothesis can be an ideaology, however. Is my lack of conviction by alien abduction stories an "absolutist ideaology" too?
As for your two examples, I would argue that your statement about the atheist is internally inconsistent. By which criteria do you differentiate between "I lack belief in God" vs "He might exist"? Your first statement is a statement of non-belief which you follow with a statement of belief.
He might exist is not a statement of belief but of the possibility my belief is in error.

I'm going to the dentist for a check up in a couple of hours. I don't believe for a second I need any treatment. But I could be wrong - I do not actually know. Is that internally inconsistent too?
Almost all of those are value judgements, by what standard of value do you measure?
By using my reasoning skills. It doesn't add up. A dice thrown a million times that deviates from the expected distribution is most certainly not fair.
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#66

Post by Blob » Sat Oct 29, 2005 12:37 am

August wrote:I know that many atheists argue this point, but I am unconvinced that they can logically hold atheism to be true, but also hold that there may be a god.
You are welcome to consider atheism illogical. But if you know atheists do not claim to know for sure there is no god why maintain the position that "atheists claim there is no god?"
If I were to state the opposite, I am a theist but there may be no God, would that pass as a rational statement?
To entertain the possibility of being wrong is not to refute one's self. If theists did say this I would consider it refreshing and, sorry to say, much more intellectually honest.

Also, despite me knowing that theists do claim to be absolutely right, wouldn't it be strange for me to go around declaring "theists claim they do not know for sure"? I consider theism to be illogical, as you do atheism, yet, irrespective of this, I do not go around denying what theists actually claim theism to be.
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#67

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:36 am

August wrote:
BGoodForGoodSake wrote:
August wrote:As for your two examples, I would argue that your statement about the atheist is internally inconsistent. By which criteria do you differentiate between "I lack belief in God" vs "He might exist"? Your first statement is a statement of non-belief which you follow with a statement of belief.
It's not too difficult to have reached a conclusion but not be absolutely certain of it. I don't understand why you have a problem with this?
If you say that you have no belief in a god, that does not indicate uncertainty. "No" is an absolute statement, i.e. 100% sure that such a thing does not exist. That 100% uncertainty is followed by a qualifying statement, which does not follow. The way it was stated, it leaves no room for doubt. If he then proceeds to say that he is almost sure, or a little sure or something like that, then the statement becomes irreconcilable with atheism, which literally means non-theist, also pretty absolute. I know that many atheists argue this point, but I am unconvinced that they can logically hold atheism to be true, but also hold that there may be a god. If I were to state the opposite, I am a theist but there may be no God, would that pass as a rational statement? If I describe myself as a theist, by definition I accept the existence of a god, and my follow-up statement makes my assertion refute itself.
The difference August is that one cannot prove a negative. A smart individual will realize this and concede that their position is not absolute.

So many lack a beleif in something, as so far there is no contrary evidence.

The lack of beleif and a beleif in something are not opposite in this sense.

You may try to argue this semantically but that is futile. People are not computers and operate purely on logic. There must be a reason to beleive.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#68

Post by August » Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:12 pm

Hi Blob,

I want to try and summarize your position, so that I know if understand what you are saying:
1. You are an atheist, i.e. have no belief in God.
2. But you are not sure that there is no God, because you see no evidence for Him.
3. You also stated that you know enough to see "Christianity crumble", and assert that you know that and the following by using your reason:
"The contradictory and illogical nature of the Christian god; the problem of suffering; the gruesome and incoherent content of the bible; the horrors of Christian nations past; the lack of correlation between "goodness" and "christianity" in practice in the world; Jesus' failure to show up again after 2000 years and counting; the historically specific nature of events and ideas in the bible; the similarity of Jesus and other biblical ideas to prior religions; the vagueness of claimed prophecies; the similarity of Christianity to all other religions many of which claim to be the only true one. And so on."

Is that an accurate summary?
Ontology deals with what exists - and I don't belief god does. Epsitemology deals with what can be known - I acknowledge I know very very little in the scheme of things so god could exist and my belief might be in error.
Ok, but that does not quite tie up with the definitions I quoted. Nonetheless, it was a point of interest to me and not pertinent to our discussion.

The point I want to make again is this, and I think you said as much in the quote, knowledge goes beyond belief. Knowledge is justification or good reason to support what it is that you believe. 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.
I think the premises must be known to believe something.
Ok, but you still have not shown what your premise is then, you have just denied my premise that God exists. Is your premise that there is no God? If you answered this by implication, my apologies.
In fact the premise "we cannot know if there is a god" is agnosticism. I am not agnostic because I think that if there is a god he would be knowable.
Thanks for the discussion so far, and it's only fair to you that I offer some counterarguments from Christianity here, since you have been doing all the answering so far. God has revealed Himself in two ways to us, His general revelation, His creation, the universe and everything in it, and His special revelation, the Bible, which is among other things a summary of Gods nature, thoughts and intentions, and the history of His presence on earth. Christians believe that God is knowable, but not fully so, for it is impossible for an imperfect and finite being to fully know an infinite and perfect being. We accept that we can never understand and comprehend all tha God does, but the basic premise is that everything that happens, happens for Gods glory. I know there will be some objections to that, from your previous writing, and we can address those one at a time.
I have zero belief in the Christian god, nor any other god for that matter. But it is based on not suspending disbelief towards an unsubstatntiated, vague and ill-defined hypothesis, rather than absolute knowledge or 100% certainty.
I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but I cannot follow that logic. If you have zero belief in something, how can that be based on something other than 100% certainty? Is it based on 70% certainty, 50%, 30%? At what point is there sufficient certainty, or uncertainty towards your current position? From your previous writings, your criteria for believing in a god was 100% probability, i.e. see Him with your own eyes etc, i.e. no uncertainty. Your position in atheism seem a lot less stringent.
Yet elsewhere you have said that through your reason you have made a value and knowledge judgement, without having certainty, that God does not exist. Does that not seem a little hypocritical? For God you demand 100% certainty, yet for atheism you are happy with less than 100%?
The problem with such arguments is you seem to be arguing "atheism is just as idealogical and therefore untenable as Christianity". By that reasoning would you consider agnosticism to be superior to both?
No, not at all, I am just saying that equal criteria should be applied. Atheism is also a belief system, based on what knowledge atheists claim to have. One way or the other, atheism must still account for the universe, us being here etc.
I don't see how a mere lack of belief in a proposed hypothesis can be an ideaology, however. Is my lack of conviction by alien abduction stories an "absolutist ideaology" too?
But it isn't just a "mere lack of belief", is it? You claim to have knowledge about the tenability of Christianity, as well as knowledge about how we came to be here.
He might exist is not a statement of belief but of the possibility my belief is in error.
But you believe God might exist?
I'm going to the dentist for a check up in a couple of hours. I don't believe for a second I need any treatment. But I could be wrong - I do not actually know. Is that internally inconsistent too?
I don't see how this relevant. You will know when you have the evidence, but you are trying to know something that will happen in the future, so you don't have the evidence right now. Our debate is about what is known or not know right now. not at some hypothetical point in future. The evidence for both views is available today.
By using my reasoning skills. It doesn't add up.
You did not answer my question. Your reasoning skills, however well developed they are, is a tool that still has to use a value system to compare two sets of evidence. I want to know what value system you are using to compare the sets of evidence.
You are welcome to consider atheism illogical. But if you know atheists do not claim to know for sure there is no god why maintain the position that "atheists claim there is no god?"
Thanks, I will :) Well, there are three reasons for holding my position. One, the claim seems to be self-defeating, if atheists do not know for sure there is no God, why claim there is no God? Surely there cannot be 30% of a god? Secondly, although this qualifying statement is thrown about, atheists still claim to have knowledge about the non-existence of God, i.e. justifying atheism by naturalism or whatever the case may be, and holding a standard of certainty for the evidence. And you yourself have said numerous times that you have absolutely no belief in a god, so the claim is not mine, it is yours. Thirdly, it assumes that all existence questions are matters of fact, and are answered in the same way.
To entertain the possibility of being wrong is not to refute one's self.
No, it is not, but in the case of making absolute claims it is.
If theists did say this I would consider it refreshing and, sorry to say, much more intellectually honest.
But at least in the case of Christianity, that would be self-defeating, now wouldn't it? You cannot be half a Christian. And it also assumes that the human intellect is the standard for objectivity, a dangerous proposition, I would wager.
Also, despite me knowing that theists do claim to be absolutely right, wouldn't it be strange for me to go around declaring "theists claim they do not know for sure"? I consider theism to be illogical, as you do atheism, yet, irrespective of this, I do not go around denying what theists actually claim theism to be.
Ok, I guess we have been through this, and there is enough arguments for now around the topic. But if we were to accept that specific definition of atheism, it says that your position is true at the outset, and therefore it must be true because it's true by definition. That definition shifts the burden of proof, it relieves atheists from the obligation to prove that atheism is true.
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#69

Post by August » Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:27 pm

BGoodForGoodSake wrote: The difference August is that one cannot prove a negative. A smart individual will realize this and concede that their position is not absolute.
I'm not sure that I appreciate the ad-hominem. But since you are smart, and I'm not, why don't you prove as true that you cannot prove a negative?
So many lack a beleif in something, as so far there is no contrary evidence.
But then the argument changes, then we are arguing about two sets of evidence compared against a value system, and we are not trying to prove negatives.
The lack of beleif and a beleif in something are not opposite in this sense.
How are they not opposite? No belief=belief??
You may try to argue this semantically but that is futile.
Ooo, another insult. So what you are saying is that I am assigning meanings to words that are ambiguous, and therefore my argument is invalid? Why don't you address the argument instead, and show the logical inconsistencies to prove that my argument is mere linguistic revision?
People are not computers and operate purely on logic. There must be a reason to beleive.
Sheesh. Now you have lost me. First you tell me it is futile to try and tell atheists this, that they need a reason to disbelieve, and cannot just not believe, but now you assert the same? Anyhow, yours is not the position Blob holds, he clearly wrote that he discounted Christianity through "his reasoning skills.", i.e. logic.
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

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#70

Post by sandy_mcd » Sat Oct 29, 2005 7:55 pm

Blob wrote: I consider the god-claim to be a hypothesis which is unsubstatianted (and therefore not to be believed) but not necessarily untrue.

In fact the premise "we cannot know if there is a god" is agnosticism. I am not agnostic because I think that if there is a god he would be knowable.
It seems to me there are only three possibilities:

1) You believe there is a God (except perhaps for momentary crises) - then you are a theist.
2) You believe there is no God (except perhaps for momentary crises) - then you are an atheist. (hard definition of atheism not including agnosticism)
3) You are not sure if God exists are not - then you are an agnostic.

From Blob's statements, I would classify him as an agnostic. He appears to think that God does not exist but acknowledges the possibility that he might be wrong (as in dentist analogy), so he just isn't sure. That sounds like agnosticism to me.
Faith in God is different from a scientific belief and perhaps this may be contributing to some of the confusion in this thread. Scientific beliefs should be based on the best available evidence but subject to revision if new data are uncovered. Faith does not work that way. In this manner, atheists and theists are more similar to each other than to agnostics just as love and hate are relative to indifference.

Forgive me if my butting in hasn't helped, but it seems to me that two different languages are being used here.

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#71

Post by AttentionKMartShoppers » Sat Oct 29, 2005 7:59 pm

No faith in science? Darn, never heard of a word called assumption have you? Science is full of them. They can't be proven, you just believe they are true.

You know, like the assumption that the universe is intelligible (which an atheist has no reason to believe, as well as a large number of other groups of people). Or, an assumption nowadays, the Copernicum Principle-which has been contradicted and proven false (in the areas which it can be falsified)...I wonder, shall we remove this principle from science on grounds of infalsibiability? It's a word in my dictionary, no questions. Semi-off topic..
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#72

Post by August » Sat Oct 29, 2005 8:11 pm

sandy_mcd wrote:
Blob wrote: I consider the god-claim to be a hypothesis which is unsubstatianted (and therefore not to be believed) but not necessarily untrue.

In fact the premise "we cannot know if there is a god" is agnosticism. I am not agnostic because I think that if there is a god he would be knowable.
It seems to me there are only three possibilities:

1) You believe there is a God (except perhaps for momentary crises) - then you are a theist.
2) You believe there is no God (except perhaps for momentary crises) - then you are an atheist. (hard definition of atheism not including agnosticism)
3) You are not sure if God exists are not - then you are an agnostic.

From Blob's statements, I would classify him as an agnostic. He appears to think that God does not exist but acknowledges the possibility that he might be wrong (as in dentist analogy), so he just isn't sure. That sounds like agnosticism to me.
Faith in God is different from a scientific belief and perhaps this may be contributing to some of the confusion in this thread. Scientific beliefs should be based on the best available evidence but subject to revision if new data are uncovered. Faith does not work that way. In this manner, atheists and theists are more similar to each other than to agnostics just as love and hate are relative to indifference.

Forgive me if my butting in hasn't helped, but it seems to me that two different languages are being used here.
Hi Sandy,

You are welcome to the discussion, so no worries about "butting in". I understand what you are saying, but I respectfully disagree with your statement about faith vs science.

The Christian faith is not just an irrational belief, it is also built on logic and reason, and, anyhow, eventually everything we believe comes back to faith. For example, for you to believe in the scientific method, you have to have faith in the fact that the laws of nature are consistent. You have to have faith that your senses are not deceiving you and so on.

There cannot really be two different languages when we speak about faith or the lack thereof, both require presuppositions necessary for holding a specific worldview, regardless of the position regarding evidences we take.
Acts 17:24-25 (NIV)
"The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by hands. [25] And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else."

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//christianskepticism.blogspot.com

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#73

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Sun Oct 30, 2005 1:35 am

August wrote:
BGoodForGoodSake wrote: The difference August is that one cannot prove a negative. A smart individual will realize this and concede that their position is not absolute.
I'm not sure that I appreciate the ad-hominem. But since you are smart, and I'm not, why don't you prove as true that you cannot prove a negative?
Can you tell me absolutely that there is no life elsewhere in the Universe?
So many lack a beleif in something, as so far there is no contrary evidence.
But then the argument changes, then we are arguing about two sets of evidence compared against a value system, and we are not trying to prove negatives.
The lack of beleif and a beleif in something are not opposite in this sense.
How are they not opposite? No belief=belief??
You may try to argue this semantically but that is futile.
Ooo, another insult. So what you are saying is that I am assigning meanings to words that are ambiguous, and therefore my argument is invalid? Why don't you address the argument instead, and show the logical inconsistencies to prove that my argument is mere linguistic revision?
People are not computers and operate purely on logic. There must be a reason to beleive.
Sheesh. Now you have lost me. First you tell me it is futile to try and tell atheists this, that they need a reason to disbelieve, and cannot just not believe, but now you assert the same? Anyhow, yours is not the position Blob holds, he clearly wrote that he discounted Christianity through "his reasoning skills.", i.e. logic.
Sorry August my post was badly written.
=(

I was only trying to point out that it was possible to be an athiest yet at the same time acknowledge the possibility that one might be wrong.
Regardless of the fact that you find this illogical.
It is not length of life, but depth of life. -- Ralph Waldo Emerson

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#74

Post by Fortigurn » Sun Oct 30, 2005 1:52 am

Blob wrote:
Fortigurn wrote:Blob, what do you make of Bible prophecy?
I'm afraid my answer is rather predictable, Fortigurn.

I find it vague and general and therefore unconvincing.
Good, I'm glad you said that. What criteria would you declare as necessary for verification of Bible prophecy?

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#75

Post by Jbuza » Sun Oct 30, 2005 6:51 am

August wrote:
BGoodForGoodSake wrote: The difference August is that one cannot prove a negative. A smart individual will realize this and concede that their position is not absolute.
I'm not sure that I appreciate the ad-hominem. But since you are smart, and I'm not, why don't you prove as true that you cannot prove a negative?
IT seems to me there is a misunderstanding here. From my reading Bgood was saying that Blob is a smart individual, and wasn't commenting on your intellect.

So from this Theism has a stronger scientific standing than Atheism. Scientifically speaking there could be God, but there is no scientific basis to claim there is no God.

So I guess than atheism really means I beleive there could be a God, but I shoose not to believe in him, which really makes it agnosticism.

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