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Thread: Atheists

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    Default Atheists

    While I'm not particularly religious, I've been born and raised in a very staunch religious community and would like to know more about atheism. The only atheist I've personally met was a coworker a few years back who "lost" his faith during his four year tour in Iraq. He told me, "Praying to God is like sending a wish list to Santa when you're 30. You can hope it comes true all you want, but really, no one is going to do shit about it."

    Now I don't want to get into some existential debate on whether God exists or not, I was just curious to personal philosophies about atheism. I suppose my biggest question for any atheists out there would be whether or not you'd like there to be some divine being out there? Even if you are certain there isn't a God, would you prefer that there was one? Or are you happy and comfortable without being boxed in by dogma and all the pretentious bullshit of church?

    Anyway, I was just curious and would like any input or comments on this subject to kind of see life from a different point of view.
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    Ok, well some simple observations

    If they're Empirically inclined (e.g. Richard Dawkins) then they are more likely to refer to the "comfort" obtained by being religious and perhaps to imagine they might like to think God existed (i.e. their atheism stems primarily from a denial of there being means of confirming God's existence; insofar as they are empirical, they can make no value judgements on the concept of God but can observe that it might serve any number of personal functions)

    If they're more Rationalist in bent (e.g. Christopher Hitchens) then they are more in the business of worldview and values, in which case more likely to say something to the effect of "God doesn't exist, and thank goodness" (i.e. their atheism stems primarily from a rejection for one reason or the other of the ethical, social or worldview aspects of a religion and so, naturally, they dislike the God of that religion)

    Dawkins is not the best example of the former, as he's more equivocal about religion and does often lambast and decry both the abuses of and the beliefs of particular religions from a position which implies personal values; however, he does this less than Hitchens because this is Hitchens' M.O.)

    So there's a neat distinction from observation for you
    the more sciencey, empirical etc. the more likely they'll say "Gee Golly I wish there was a God"
    the more artsy or philosophical they are, the more likely they'll say "what a bastard God would be if he did exist"

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    I've never had any reason to believe in any sort of God. Even as a kid I didn't think just because it said so in a really old book meant it was true that there was a God. As I grew up I learnt more about evolution and looked down on kids who seriously believed in the garden of eden.

    Throughout school I was basically an agnostic, taking the view that "if there is a judgemental God I'm far more likely to be judged on my merits as a person instead of how often I visited a relatively old building with some statues in"

    Eventually I came to the conclusion that I'm an atheist because, while it may be impossible to prove that any sort of God exists, I personally do not believe one does.

    On the issue of Pascal's Wager (the idea that the pros of being religious - mostly the concept of Heaven - outweigh the cons of not being religious - mostly the possibility of Hell) I think believing in God just so you might end up in Heaven isn't really true faith so that's all bullshit to me.

    Would I like there to be a God? No. I have no reason to. There isn't anything especially trivial that is unexplained in our universe that needs a God theory to back it up. Evolution is, to me at least, a far more beautiful and coherent explanation for creation. There's a wonderful quote by Douglas Adams that sums it up: "Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"
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    Sorry, another question just sprung to mind. What about afterlife? Would you prefer there to be a heaven (or hell, why not?) or is it only oblivion or eternal sleep?
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonj View Post
    I've never had any reason to believe in any sort of God. Even as a kid I didn't think just because it said so in a really old book meant it was true that there was a God. As I grew up I learnt more about evolution and looked down on kids who seriously believed in the garden of eden.

    Throughout school I was basically an agnostic, taking the view that "if there is a judgemental God I'm far more likely to be judged on my merits as a person instead of how often I visited a relatively old building with some statues in"

    Eventually I came to the conclusion that I'm an atheist because, while it may be impossible to prove that any sort of God exists, I personally do not believe one does.

    On the issue of Pascal's Wager (the idea that the pros of being religious - mostly the concept of Heaven - outweigh the cons of not being religious - mostly the possibility of Hell) I think believing in God just so you might end up in Heaven isn't really true faith so that's all bullshit to me.

    Would I like there to be a God? No. I have no reason to. There isn't anything especially trivial that is unexplained in our universe that needs a God theory to back it up. Evolution is, to me at least, a far more beautiful and coherent explanation for creation. There's a wonderful quote by Douglas Adams that sums it up: "Isnít it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?"
    broadly rationalist

    Quote Originally Posted by sycld View Post
    God I hate Dawkins and Hitchens.

    I think that there is something within our psychological makeup that naturally develops some concept of the divine, and the interaction of this with post-agrarian structured civilization leads to what we think of as religion.

    One idea for the origin of the divine may be that the divine may act as something ever-present which ensures that each of us complies with the rules of our community. Obviously this would have an evolutionary advantage for a group of people, since it would encourage cooperation and that each individual, even when unobserved adheres to a system of rules that ensures the survival of the entire group.

    As an example of a study that seems to suggest this, some girls were tasked with playing a game against each other. They were told that a "princess" was watching them to make sure they didn't cheat. In one scenario, someone was sitting in the room with them as the princess. In another, they were told that the princess could see them though she wasn't visibly present in the room. The second group of girls cheated less in their game than the first who had a minder physically present.

    I'm not sure what I need to add to that. Is religion "good" or "bad"? I don't know; I think it just is, even if I don't believe there's actually a "God" out there.
    broadly empiricist

    et voila
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    of course it's acknowledged by the Catholic Church, since it's true
    For paradise among this world
    Is finding love in boy and girl

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    I wish fairy-orgies existed.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Think View Post
    broadly rationalist


    broadly empiricist

    et voila
    What's your point?
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    Being Atheist isn't like having a religion. There is no philosophical bent. You either believe in some sort of spirituality, or you don't. If you don't, you're an Atheist. If you do, you're not. If you're wishy-washy, you're Agnostic.

    People like Dawkins and Hitchens are bad for Atheism. Atheism is not a religion. Atheism is the opposite of religion. These guys act more like preachers defending their faith than they do rational human beings.

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    Being Atheist isn't like having a religion. There is no philosophical bent. You either believe in some sort of spirituality, or you don't. If you don't, you're an Atheist. If you do, you're not. If you're wishy-washy, you're Agnostic.

    People like Dawkins and Hitchens are bad for Atheism. Atheism is not a religion. Atheism is the opposite of religion. These guys act more like preachers defending their faith than they do rational human beings.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaiTengu View Post
    Atheism is the opposite of religion.
    Agnosticism is more the "opposite" of religion than atheism. Here's why:

    Quote Originally Posted by DaiTengu View Post
    People like Dawkins and Hitchens... act more like preachers defending their faith...

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    Quote Originally Posted by sycld View Post
    I think that there is something within our psychological makeup that naturally develops some concept of the divine, and the interaction of this with post-agrarian structured civilization leads to what we think of as religion.
    I think that "something" is fairly easy to identify: we have evolved to assume agency in randomness. When proto-man (or many, many ancestry species prior to proto-man) saw tall grass rustling and decided "it might be a tiger, so I'll fuck off", he was more likely to live than the moron who sat around going "what a lovely breeze" and was subsequently mauled to death. Perceiving agency kept us alive. Unfortunately, it also led to us needing to assign resopnsibility for the sun's rising and setting, and our creation, and the universe, and so on. Fundamentally, all religions are out to answer "What is responsible for this?"

    Me? I'm an atheist, and pretty damned passionate about it. I'm passionate about skepticism and science, (even though I flunked chem in year twelve). Think's breakdown is very useful, but I straddle both categories -- I don't think there's any reason to believe in any gods, and moreover, I'm incredibly thankful of that, because if any existed, they'd be assholes.

    I don't have a "losing my faith" story, although I was raised with a Jewish education and Jewish religious faith. I just always never understood the faithful answer to the question "why is there suffering?" (ie. "because of free will). It never sat right with me that God would create a bunch of people a certain way, and then punish them for acting according with their nature. And the Christian idea of sin and the devil was always entirely repulsive and illogical to me -- God's supremely powerful, but he is constantly thwarted by some douchebag on a lake of fire?

    As a child, I used to think that, somehow, everyone understood this and I couldn't grasp it. They all GOT how "free will" makes it fair that children die of AIDS and most of Africa is fucked in the ass and Hitler gassed millions of people. I thought I was stupid, or there was something I just hadn't been taught -- as it turned out, I was pretty much the only one at that age to really get it. When I was about 15, I didn't abandon faith, I just came to realise that I never had it... despite my parents' and teachers' efforts.

    Quote Originally Posted by everyone
    I hate Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens
    I don't hate Dawkins or Hitchens, and I don't think they're "bad for atheism". The wave of "new atheism" -- a detestable phrase, but better than "militant atheism" -- owes a lot to people like them. Atheists are still a tiny minority and the age of religion's decline is in its infancy, so one has to expect bickering and name-calling and lambasting. Dawkins and Hitch have given voice to a lot of people who weren't willing to speak out before, and have also given people who were unsure a few things to think about. I know that The God Delusion helped convince two of my friends (not on my urging) to reexamine their faith and eventually discard it.

    The only reason people say they are "bad for atheism" is because their brashness and assholey demeanor "makes us look bad", or some shit. They get a lot of criticism from the religious community for being disrespectful -- but, let's face it, any person who publicly speaks out in favour atheism, whether they're being an asshole or just a nice person who believes a certain thing, is going to be a lightning rod for mostly Christian morons with a persecuted majority complex.

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    As for the afterlife: sure, it'd be nice if, after we died, we could all enjoy eternal bliss. But not only do I think that's a laughable idea, I think it's very, very important that people NOT believe it.

    To believe that this world is a test or a precursor to eternal life means that one can slack off and not worry about learning, or making this world better -- after all, it's a blip compared to eternity. No, everyone has the responsibility to improve THIS world. The one and only world we KNOW to exist. We MUST think and act as if this is all we've got, even if we're wrong. After all, if we're wrong, we'll get to Heaven having tried to make our and others' pre-Heaven existence as good as possible.

    I believe the same about the existence of God. We must not believe that we owe something to an eternal Father, and we must not believe that there is a Higher Authority dictating arbitrarily what is right and wrong: we must strive to find out what is right and wrong ourselves, and we must accept the responsibility to actively make a better world, rather than just asking for one to be given to us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by simonj View Post
    What's your point?
    Think's point was to illustrate the different forms atheism takes.

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    By that, I just mean "the age when religion is no longer the one and only superpower of the world". If it's the age of religion's decline, it's going to be a fucking long age.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    As for the afterlife: sure, it'd be nice if, after we died, we could all enjoy eternal bliss. But not only do I think that's a laughable idea, I think it's very, very important that people NOT believe it.

    To believe that this world is a test or a precursor to eternal life means that one can slack off and not worry about learning, or making this world better -- after all, it's a blip compared to eternity. No, everyone has the responsibility to improve THIS world. The one and only world we KNOW to exist. We MUST think and act as if this is all we've got, even if we're wrong. After all, if we're wrong, we'll get to Heaven having tried to make our and others' pre-Heaven existence as good as possible.
    I've meet plenty of people who have the "Heaven exists, so fuck the earth" attitude, but they are few and far between. Most people I know strive to make a world a better place, even if they do use religion or something similar as a banner to rally behind. Here in Utah, serving a two year mission for the church is as important as graduating high school, but I know plenty of people who instead of going to serve as bible thumpers, join church sponsored habitat for humanity programs for two years. It's been an increasing trend and I like to think even though it's still tied in with all the bible thumping bullshit, I like to think it has made a difference in this world.

    Personally, I am hoping heaven exists because the thought of oblivion and lack of consciousness straight up terrifies me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by no_brains_no_worries View Post
    I've meet plenty of people who have the "Heaven exists, so fuck the earth" attitude, but they are few and far between. Most people I know strive to make a world a better place, even if they do use religion or something similar as a banner to rally behind. Here in Utah, serving a two year mission for the church is as important as graduating high school, but I know plenty of people who instead of going to serve as bible thumpers, join church sponsored habitat for humanity programs for two years. It's been an increasing trend and I like to think even though it's still tied in with all the bible thumping bullshit, I like to think it has made a difference in this world.
    I'm not saying it hasn't, and I'm not QUITE silly enough to suggest that every religious person is going to waste their lives preparing for a nonexistent heaven. (Although it sounded like I was saying that in my previous post, I do admit.) But I do think that life can be wasted hugely by religious matters, and moreover, the attitude that this is all we have before oblivion comes is a compelling reason to fill your life with as much good and fun and wonder and knowledge (etc etc) as possible. That's why I think one should live with the attitude that this is all we have.

    Quote Originally Posted by no_brains_no_worries View Post
    Personally, I am hoping heaven exists because the thought of oblivion and lack of consciousness straight up terrifies me.
    As long as you realise it's a completely nonsensical fear -- I mean, as Mark Twain said, you were in oblivion for millions of years until you were born -- all death is is a return to that state.

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    Quote Originally Posted by no_brains_no_worries View Post
    I've meet plenty of people who have the "Heaven exists, so fuck the earth" attitude, but they are few and far between. Most people I know strive to make a world a better place, even if they do use religion or something similar as a banner to rally behind. Here in Utah, serving a two year mission for the church is as important as graduating high school, but I know plenty of people who instead of going to serve as bible thumpers, join church sponsored habitat for humanity programs for two years. It's been an increasing trend and I like to think even though it's still tied in with all the bible thumping bullshit, I like to think it has made a difference in this world.
    I once read a quote that went something like "Religious people do nice things because they expect to be rewarded by god. Atheist do nice things because they're nice." I was trying to look up that quote when I found a better one.

    "If people are good only because they fear punishment, and hope for a reward, then we are a sorry lot indeed."
    -Albert Einstein

    That's pretty much my viewpoint when it comes to religion.

    I usually find people who are strongly religious or strongly atheistic presumptuous and annoying when they talk about their beliefs. I'm agnostic and I believe it is impossible to truly know whether or not there is a deity (or for that matter, deities). Actually I'm an apatheist because I do not care whether there is a god or not. I find the discussion pointless. An interesting thought exercise maybe, but ultimately pointless.

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    I would also like to point out that Atheism is no more scientific than believing in a deity. You can't prove god doesn't exist in the same way you can't prove that god does exist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KT. View Post
    I would also like to point out that Atheism is no more scientific than believing in a deity. You can't prove god doesn't exist in the same way you can't prove that god does exist.
    depends on your understanding of the scientific method
    i.e. opinion of hypothetico-deductive model, falsifiability etc.

    If science is a purely inductive exercise, then invisible pink unicorns and God are both outside of its province and it would be "unscientific" to make an assertion on the existence of invisible pink unicorns. Note that even on this (totally castrated) model, particular hypotheses concerning miraculous interventions ascribed to God(s) can be tested for.

    Broadly, when people say there is no evidence for the existence of God (i.e. taking an empiricist position on the issue), in longhand what they are saying is
    a) God is an unfalisfiable concept
    b)there are an infinity of unfalsifiable concepts
    c1)I do not accept the existence of a valid metaphysics, nor do I presume before argument the existence of a deity/a holy book/a church which can infallibly issue true statements
    c2)therefore the scientific method is the only objective criterion for verifying a particular thing's existence
    c3)it therefore follows that all unfalsifiable concepts are equally objectively likely/unlikely
    d)I don't make it part of my daily business to consider the infinity of unfalisfiable, possibly existent concepts and make supplication to them
    e)it is not scientific to reject scientific models on the basis of unfalsifiable, possible existent concepts

    it follows that it is not in my daily business to worship God, nor is it scientific to postulate Him

    Atheists are quite right, all of this does follow and b) d) and e) ought surely to be accepted by any thinking human being ( a) oughtn't to be too much trouble to anyone either, because no given number of miracles or incarnations can constitute the existence of God; just as no given number of fake miracles or false incarnations can constitute His nonexistence); having said that, doing the things in d) and e) might be a nice way to unwind
    A better challenge would be the (implicit) propositions c1 and c2, because c3 is the statement on which the argument stands or falls
    Last edited by Think; 01-16-2011 at 03:15 AM. Reason: allow me to spell out the trouble with c
    Quote Originally Posted by sycld View Post
    of course it's acknowledged by the Catholic Church, since it's true
    For paradise among this world
    Is finding love in boy and girl

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    I'm not sure if I follow all your thinkspeak (no offense) but yes, "it is not in my daily business to worship God, nor is it scientific to postulate Him".

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    Quote Originally Posted by Think View Post
    Atheists are quite right
    Sig'd


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    If you don't like them, then get the fuck out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Think View Post
    Atheists are quite right

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    Quote Originally Posted by KT. View Post
    I would also like to point out that Atheism is no more scientific than believing in a deity. You can't prove god doesn't exist in the same way you can't prove that god does exist.
    I'll rebut this in simpler terms: you also can't prove that Zeus does not exist, nor fairies and genies, nor a teapot floating around in the rings of saturn, nor Think's unicorn, etc. Your point is what every armchair agnostic says to feel cleverer than the atheists.

    Atheism is, in fact, a good deal more scientific than believing in a deity, because it does not involve believing in something completely unfounded by evidence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    Atheism is, in fact, a good deal more scientific than believing in a deity, because it does not involve believing in something completely unfounded by evidence.
    I accept this. Yes I agree with this statement now that I think about it. However I would phrase it as "less unscientific", but I suppose that's just semantics.

    From my experiences there are two types of Atheists: those who don't believe in a god and those who absolutely know there isn't a god. (Granted, I haven't studied Atheism or for that matter any other major belief system besides Catholicism in grade school and some Taoism.)

    I guess I'm referring more to the Atheists who seem to unequivocally know that a god does not exist. I find that unscientific. As much as I don't believe that invisible pink unicorns roam the earth and I find it extremely unlikely that they do, I'm still open to the possibility. However, I don't waste my time postulating over the existence of invisible pink unicorns because I find it unscientific, therefore futile to do so.
    Last edited by KT.; 01-16-2011 at 07:47 PM.

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    You're not really "open to the possibility", though. You're theoretically open to the possibility, just like we're all theoretically open to the possibility that satan's playing a trick on us with fossils, or that the planet is actually flat and our data is wrong.

    You'll find very few atheists who think that the existence of god is less likely than the existence of pink unicorns. Most of the people you're referring to are just honest about what they think. I'm not going to shrug and say "Yeah, I guess there could be a teapot floating around in Saturn's rings...", I"m going to say, "No, such an idea is idiotic, and will remain idiotic unless you find something that successfully indicates that there is a teapot there."

    When you criticise atheists who categorically say that there is no god, because they should be as open to the possibility of god as they are genies and unicorns, you're just splitting hairs for an intellectually dishonest reason. But, as the xkcd comic says, I'm glad you've found some way to feel superior to them, too.

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    I'm sorry if I offended you and it certainly wasn't my intent to try to appear superior to you or Atheists in general.

    This is my argument:

    1) God is an unfalisfiable concept.
    2) Therefore god is unscientific.
    3) Therefore belief systems that involve god are unscientific.

    However, science isn't everything. Art for the most part is unscientific, yet it still has merit. Theism and Atheism both have their merits, however neither are for me. I like science. I like to think that I am a logic oriented person. For me, the most logical and scientific answer as to whether a god exists or not is "I don't know now and I may never know ever". I personally find believing in god and not believing in god both illogical to different degrees.
    Last edited by KT.; 01-16-2011 at 09:31 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    You're not really "open to the possibility", though. You're theoretically open to the possibility, just like we're all theoretically open to the possibility that satan's playing a trick on us with fossils, or that the planet is actually flat and our data is wrong.

    You'll find very few atheists who think that the existence of god is less likely than the existence of pink unicorns. Most of the people you're referring to are just honest about what they think. I'm not going to shrug and say "Yeah, I guess there could be a teapot floating around in Saturn's rings...", I"m going to say, "No, such an idea is idiotic, and will remain idiotic unless you find something that successfully indicates that there is a teapot there."

    When you criticise atheists who categorically say that there is no god, because they should be as open to the possibility of god as they are genies and unicorns, you're just splitting hairs for an intellectually dishonest reason. But, as the xkcd comic says, I'm glad you've found some way to feel superior to them, too.
    I think my biggest issue with this argument is that the comparison made is inherently linked to the presence of something as a physical entity (invisible unicorns and teapots), but God, as described in pretty much every holy book, is not a physical entity, per se, although there are physical manifestations from time to time. Because of this, it's a false analogy.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KT. View Post
    I'm sorry if I offended you and it certainly wasn't my intent to try to appear superior to you or Atheists in general.

    This is my argument:

    1) God is an unfalisfiable concept.
    2) Therefore god is unscientific.
    3) Therefore belief systems that involve god are unscientific.

    However, science isn't everything. Art for the most part is unscientific, yet it still has merit. Theism and Atheism both have their merits, however neither are for me. I like science. I like to think that I am a logic oriented person. For me, the most logical and scientific answer as to whether a god exists or not is "I don't know now and I may never know ever". I personally find believing in god and not believing in god both illogical to different degrees.
    You didn't offend me, I've just heard the "my problem with atheists who are sure there's no god..." line a looooooooooooooot of times. It's based on a fundamental misunderstanding of science and statistics -- the very fact THAT you can't be sure there's a god (ie. the fact of unfalsifiability) renders the proposition unscientific and, since there's no convincing evidence whatsoever that there is a god, it's intellectually dishonest to say that rejecting the idea of god is illogical or unscientific.

    (Yes, it's technically correct. Just as it's technically correct to say that there is a possibility that the Earth is flat. But scientists can't go around saying "yeah, the Earth is PROBABLY round, but it'd be unscientific and illogical to say that for sure.")

    The thing about people who say they're "sure there is no god" -- show them some real evidence and they'll change their mind. I'm sure there are no unicorns, but show me a peer-reviewed paper on the finding of a unicorn skeleton and I might reconsider.

    I've heard the art line, too. I used to use it all the time. Art may not be scientific, but there's some pretty airtight scientific evidence that it exists, so I believe in art. There is also a lot of scientific evidence that art has positive effects on people (even if all it does is make them happier), so I believe art has merit. Not everything falls within the realm of science, but this one question does.

    Quote Originally Posted by coqauvin View Post
    I think my biggest issue with this argument is that the comparison made is inherently linked to the presence of something as a physical entity (invisible unicorns and teapots), but God, as described in pretty much every holy book, is not a physical entity, per se, although there are physical manifestations from time to time. Because of this, it's a false analogy.
    Well, it's not a false analogy, because I also said genies and stuff. And Thor, and Zeus. There's no more evidence for "God" (ie. the big J) than there is Zeus, yet almost everyone alive today would dismiss the belief in Zeus as silly. Certainly all would call it unscientific.

    You and I have discussed God before, so unless your beliefs have changed, I think I basically know what they are. And I know you have deep and (to you, but not to me, obviously) convincing reasons for believing what you believe, and very strong arguments to support yourself. But this objection isn't one of them. We're talking about evidence -- there's no more reason to believe in unicorns than a god, whether physical or not.

    You are saying, essentially, that the god proposition is exempt from needing evidence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    (Yes, it's technically correct. Just as it's technically correct to say that there is a possibility that the Earth is flat.
    Uhmm no. It's pretty definite that the Earth isn't flat. There isn't any possibility there at all.
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    Quote Originally Posted by simonj View Post
    Uhmm no. It's pretty definite that the Earth isn't flat. There isn't any possibility there at all.
    Of course there is, scientifically speaking.

    (All our instruments could be wrong. Our inferences can be wrong. Our senses could be lying to us. Etc. I know it's astronomically unlikely, but that is, after all, what we're talking about here.)

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    And thanks for the negrep, unnamed person (not simonj). Would you like to explain what, exactly, you disagree with? To clarify my point: if you have to be "open" to the existence of unicorns and teapots and genies and gods -- because that's more logical and scientific -- you also have to be open to the possibility that the Earth is flat. Simple.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    And thanks for the negrep, unnamed person (not simonj). Would you like to explain what, exactly, you disagree with? To clarify my point: if you have to be "open" to the existence of unicorns and teapots and genies and gods -- because that's more logical and scientific -- you also have to be open to the possibility that the Earth is flat. Simple.
    I didn't want to derail the thread but since you called me out, whatever.

    The reason why humans know the Earth is not flat are multitudinous.

    • Many people have flown around the world.
    • Images from space
    • GPS
    • Currents and weather systems
    • Migration patterns
    • Observations of other planets
    • etc


    Whether or not Earth is spherical in nature is a scientific question. One can prove that the Earth is round. Whether or not God exists is not a scientific question. You can neither prove nor disprove God exists. Being open to multiple possibilities is not in itself scientific.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KT. View Post
    However, science isn't everything. Art for the most part is unscientific, yet it still has merit.
    Basically, "I know that c1 and c2 exclude too much, but I wouldn't like to say precisely why"
    again, this is not a matter of science, it's a matter of philosophy: What constitutes valid evidence for something, and what constitutes reason? Whether that's only science or whether there are more hermeneutics for grasping the world is a strictly philosophical concern.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KT. View Post
    I didn't want to derail the thread but since you called me out, whatever.

    The reason why humans know the Earth is not flat are multitudinous.

    • Many people have flown around the world.
    • Images from space
    • GPS
    • Currents and weather systems
    • Migration patterns
    • Observations of other planets
    • etc


    Whether or not Earth is spherical in nature is a scientific question. One can prove that the Earth is round. Whether or not God exists is not a scientific question. You can neither prove nor disprove God exists. Being open to multiple possibilities is not in itself scientific.
    If your only criterion for objective knowledge is science, then gwahir is broadly correct: there are thinkable unfalsifiable concepts for explaining science to be wrong on the matter of the earth being flat e.g. our perceptions are all edited by some higher being.
    so the question is: is there a distinction between the concept of the existence of God and other unfalsifiable concepts? i.e. are there alternative sources of knowledge which point to God? Hence c1 and c2.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Think View Post
    If your only criterion for objective knowledge is science, then gwahir is broadly correct: there are thinkable unfalsifiable concepts for explaining science to be wrong on the matter of the earth being flat e.g. our perceptions are all edited by some higher being.
    so the question is: is there a distinction between the concept of the existence of God and other unfalsifiable concepts? i.e. are there alternative sources of knowledge which point to God? Hence c1 and c2.
    All I have to say to that is Occam's razor.

    Truthfully, as an apatheist, I do not care enough about this subject matter to continue discussing it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gwahir View Post
    Well, it's not a false analogy, because I also said genies and stuff. And Thor, and Zeus. There's no more evidence for "God" (ie. the big J) than there is Zeus, yet almost everyone alive today would dismiss the belief in Zeus as silly. Certainly all would call it unscientific.

    You and I have discussed God before, so unless your beliefs have changed, I think I basically know what they are. And I know you have deep and (to you, but not to me, obviously) convincing reasons for believing what you believe, and very strong arguments to support yourself. But this objection isn't one of them. We're talking about evidence -- there's no more reason to believe in unicorns than a god, whether physical or not.

    You are saying, essentially, that the god proposition is exempt from needing evidence.
    Not really. I'm saying the examples given (invisible pink unicorn, teapot around saturn's ring) aren't valid comparisons to an incorporeal being because they are concrete examples. God, from what we're arguing about, isn't necessarily a physical being. Teapots and unicorns would be. In what way does this imply that the god proposition is exempt from needing evidence? And how does this point not fit into my belief structure of which you are well-versed?

    If you're talking about Jesus that is a whole other bag of worms my friend.
    Last edited by coqauvin; 01-17-2011 at 03:00 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KT. View Post
    All I have to say to that is Occam's razor.

    Truthfully, as an apatheist, I do not care enough about this subject matter to continue discussing it.
    KT. what they're saying is: if you take the unfalsifiable perspective, then you need to accept the flat earth perspective as well because we're not using Occam's Razor on the problem at that point. If you are, then the logical conclusion is that God is dead and we have killed him.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nermy2k View Post
    yeah obviously we'd all suck our alternate universe dicks there was never any question about that
    Quote Originally Posted by Atmosfear
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    Quote Originally Posted by coqauvin View Post
    Not really. I'm saying the examples given (invisible pink unicorn, teapot around saturn's ring) aren't valid comparisons to an incorporeal being because they are concrete examples. God, from what we're arguing about, isn't necessarily a physical being. Teapots and unicorns would be. In what way does this imply that the god proposition is exempt from needing evidence? And how does this point not fit into my belief structure of which you are well-versed?
    Sorry, I didn't mean to sound condescending, but I recognise that I did.

    If you're saying that the philosophically relevant difference between god and pink unicorns is physical-being-ness, in response to the point that there's no evidence for either and therefore both are as likely as each other (to put it all simply), you're saying that, because god isn't a physical being, it doesn't require evidence to be a convincing proposition.

    I'm not saying it "doesn't fit into your belief structure", I just meant to say that while I find your beliefs and arguments interesting and compelling, I don't think this is a sound objection. Unless there's some reason that physical-being-ness is a philosophically relevant difference that I have just missed and can't see, which is also entirely possible. But then you'll have to explain that.

    KT.: occam's (/ockham's/however you spell it) razor is kind of my point. If there's no reason to believe X exists, and you have a system that can coherently (logically) and feasibly (physically) function without it, the reasonable position to take is to say X does not exist. If you, as I say, insist on splitting hairs and feel it's necessary to say "X MIGHT exist, because technically we can't prove it doesn't", you also need to say that about everything for which there is no evidence. If you need to remain "open" to the idea of a god, you also, logically, must remain just as "open" to the idea that Satan is messing with our GPSes and instruments and even our consciousnesses to trick us into thinking the Earth is flat. Or the idea that, though our inference may seem strong, our conclusions about "round Earth theory" are simply incorrect.

    THAT is why I have so little patience for people who say "you can't disprove god any more than you can prove it, so both positions are illogical".

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    I am open to the possibility that life as we know it is a computer simulation by an advanced race. Thus, to us, these beings would be considered gods.

    I know how retarded that sounds to the average person, but we are quickly advancing to that position ourselves (think if the Sims had true AI). That's why I believe that a god/gods may possibly exist. I don't believe in the possibility that some magical man lives in the sky and sent down Jesus to party with us. I believe that there is a distinct possibility that advanced beings created a simulation program and we were inadvertently or perhaps purposely born from that. There. Now you can make fun of me all you want.
    Last edited by KT.; 01-17-2011 at 12:20 PM.

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    Well then you're more of a millitant atheist than most people.
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    Not millitant in the way of propogating your beliefs
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