Thanks, Occam! I'm still catching up on stuff, so I will be on light posting duty today.
I just wanted to put up a couple of points from my reading for everyone's consideration.
There is no God there are only gods.
There is no Church there are only churches.
There is no Theism there are only theisms.
Why? Because there is no proof that any god belief is the right one. Or even if there is a right one.
Religious claims of god/spirit/afterlife must carry the burden of proof which CANNOT be shifted to the one stating that they do not believe the claim
of existence. The burden of proof must be at least as high as if the claim were on trial. If the claim of god/spirit/afterlife does not have enough
real evidence to meet the burden of proof that would be required in a trial in a court, then it is not sufficient to use in debate. Circumstantial
evidence is not enough; hearsay (arguments from authority) is not enough. Without clear and convincing evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, then the
burden has not been met and the claim is invalid.
It is not true that you cannot prove a negative. In debate (or trial) it is unnecessary to do so. However, if you can do so, the case against the
claim becomes more compelling and stronger, and perhaps even conclusive. Example: If you are accused of a crime, and you can provide a solid alibi,
you have effectively proved the negative of the claim being made. This applies also to religious debate.
An argument from authority is not an argument at all. It is a logical fallacy to accept something is true just because an authority says it is true.
Why? The authority could be wrong. The authorities often disagree. Theists like to claim names of scientists who believe in gods. Atheists can come up
with lists of scientists who do not. Neither mean anything. This argument fails before it begins.
Further, if a YEC produces a Nobel-winning physicist who is a Christian, the right point to make is, He is an authority on physics, but what makes him
an authority on religion? When an authority speaks, the process of reason begins, rather than concludes.
Last point from David Eller's book for today deals with the statistical argument (theists who like to say X number of people believe in god, so it
must be true).
For the sake of argument, let us assume there are 1000 religions in the world. This makes the odds of someone in any of these religions of being wrong
99.9%. If we state for the sake of the argument that there is only a 50/50 chance AT BEST of there being a god at all, then the chance of being wrong
rises to 99.95%.
At the time of the publishing of the edition of Natural Atheism
that I am using (2004) a survey had shown there were at least 33,000 sects of
Christianity alone, which gives each sect a 99.993% chance of being wrong.
In the end, no matter what religion one chooses, it is almost certain that that person is wrong.