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Rhetoric, Reason, and the Dishonesty of the Atheist Position

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posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 09:40 AM
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(Kindly note that, in spite of the inflammatory nature of the article title, I do not believe that atheists are generally dishonest, or that all atheists ascribe to the arguments presented here, though it does reflect a commonly held perspective, particularly among notable atheists.)

While working through an unrelated project, which touches on rhetoric, I started musing on the nature of arguments, and the approaches taken to persuade others. Rhetoric, the use of language to persuade, is one of the most ancient of civilized skills, and is a key component of many disciplines, including politics, religion, philosophy and business.

Another ancient skill, which works to either bolster or counter rhetoric, is reason, the ability to form judgements in the mind through a process of logic. My title, over there on the left, is "Reasonable," and I chose that a long time ago, not because I am easy to get along with (though I generally am,) but because my life is built on reason. I am able to pick apart rhetoric and apply logic to it, discerning whether the arguments are valid or not. It is a most useful skill, I would encourage anyone to take a course on logic (generally taught in philosophy departments.)

We can break apart arguments by categorizing them into three areas of differentiation:

1) Statements about things which are known facts
2) Statements about things which are facts, but are not known
3) Statements about things which are not facts

Facts, of course, are truths, and our knowledge of them has no bearing on their existence. Examples of category one would be things like "2 + 2 = 4" or "The atomic weight of a carbon atom is 12.0107" or "On Earth, the sun rises in the east and sets in the west". These are all known facts, which can be proven objectively, and for which little argument exists.

The second category is much more broad, and includes things like "The number of grains of sand on the beaches of California", "Intelligent extraterrestrial life exists" or "It will rain tomorrow in my city." Suppositional statements tend to fall into this category (though one can speculate on a subject for which the facts are known, of course, if one does not know them.)

The final category consists of things which are not facts, but merely opinions. Things like "It's too hot today" or "Milk is delicious" or "I don't like you."

As noted, category one is purely objective -- there are things that can be pointed to which prove that the fact is correct. (As an aside, what we believe to be a fact can later be shown to be false, but this is merely a reflection on us and our methods. As noted earlier, facts exist independently of our knowledge of them.)

Category three is, on the other hand, purely subjective. Opinions, after all, are subject to the whim of the opinionated. Arguments which are subjective are irrational arguments, because there is no compelling reason to agree. We might point to facts which bolster our opinion, but, unlike category one, the facts of the matter are NOT facts regarding the factual nature of our opinion.

As an example, let's take the subjective statement "Milk is delicious." The accurate statement is actually "I think that milk is delicious," because taste is subjective. Now, we can point to a survey that says "Most people think that milk is delicious," but what is the fact in that statement? It is not "milk is delicious", but, rather, "most people think that it is." The fact is an observation of opinion, not an observation of fact.

Category two is the interesting one, because it represents a bridge between the objective and the subjective. Because it is a fact, we know that there is a truth to it. But because we don't know what the truth is, anything said about it is subjective.

For example, consider the existence of extraterrestrial intelligent life. Right now, there either is, or there is not, intelligent life elsewhere in the Universe. There could be millions of advanced civilizations out there, or there could be none. But because we don't know the answer to that question, providing an answer, or even attempting to make a case for an answer, is purely subjective, because if we cite facts, we are saying that, in our opinion, this fact weighs in.

To put this in perspective, consider my earlier question of "How many grains of sand are there on the beaches of California?" Now, a fact exists about this -- there is a real number of grains of sand at this moment, but we have no hope of knowing what that answer is, so any answer is highly unlikely to be right, and impossible to prove, even if it were. Thus, as a statement of fact, saying that there are 20 billion grains of sand, or just 20 grains of sand are both equally wrong, because in matters of truth, there is no "closer". You're either right, or you're wrong.

 

So, with this in mind, let's take a look at the atheist perspective. Kindly bear with me as I drill down, and, again, recognize that what I examine is not a universal perspective, so if yours is different, think of my points with that in mind.

A typical atheist statement is "There is no God," which, expanded out, is really saying "I know that there is no God." Richard Dawkins wrote a whole book, with that as a premise -- "God doesn't exist, we just made him up." Well, what category can we put this into? The existence of God is a fact -- either he exists or he doesn't, so it's either category one or two. The question then becomes "is the existence of God a known fact or not?"

Here, we need to apply reason. The existence of anything is easily proven, but exceedingly hard to disprove. In fact, in the case of something with the attributes one normally associates with God, it is impossible to disprove. To say "God does not exist" is to draw an absolute conclusion from non-absolute observations. Until one has made absolute observations (literally, "seen it all",) one cannot make absolute conclusions as to the non-existence of something. This applies even to things that most people don't believe exist, like Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy because, as we have seen above, facts exist independent of our knowledge or opinion of them.

So, on the negative side, we can say that God's non-existence is not a known fact. Theists don't really fare much better -- though there are plenty of people who will point to this or that as being proof of God's existence, none of it is conclusive, and most people accept that religion is intentionally a matter of faith, anyway.

We can therefore conclude that statements about the existence or non-existence of God are category two statements -- discussing something that is a fact, but which is not known. And what are statements proposing a conclusion about said truth? Purely subjective statements.

Some atheists, at this point, will assume a fall back position, and restate their claim to be "I believe that there is no God" (or, alternatively, "I have no belief in God",) which we can clearly see as a category three statement, and which is an honest argument. If they let it lie there, I have no issue with it.

But here's the problem -- most do not. Sometimes it takes prodding, but they seem to feel the need to validate this subjective perspective with objective statements. And so you'll get what they see as the reasons for holding their position, and we're right back into the thick of it, with the need to evaluate their arguments by the same methods.

For example, one might say "There is no evidence for the existence of deities." What have we here? Well, there's a fact, right? Evidence exists or it doesn't. Do we know whether it does or it doesn't? No, that would be another instance of an absolute conclusion based on non-absolute observations. So, the correct restatement of that claim is "I personally have seen no evidence that I feel demonstrates the existence of deities." Not a particularly strong statement, and thus highly unlikely to persuade anyone -- why should I care whether you've seen no evidence?

So we see the inevitable tendency to "slide up the scale" with arguments -- trying to turn a category three into a one or two, or trying to turn a category two into a one. Why? Because the closer you are to a category one statement, the more conclusive and, thus, the more persuasive it is. But by applying these categories, and really digging down into what is being proposed, the illusion and dishonesty is made clear.

As to why this is done, I think that many atheists view themselves as rational, certainly more rational than those "deluded believers over there" and so they don't really like to have their arguments hanging on nothing more than their opinion. For a scientist like Dawkins, it's probably particularly troubling, because making purely subjective arguments kind of implies that you think that the facts don't really matter.

So it's a bit ironic that so many take a weak, but fairly rational statement like "I have no belief in God" and turn it into a collection of irrational statements, simply because they can't accept that, rationally, their position is no stronger than someone who says "I have belief in God."




posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 09:48 AM
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Humans have lost the concept of exact wording in their statements.
My "opinion" is that God created the Universe...
The Universe created man....
Man created the Bible....
The Bible created fanatics of all types, both selfless & selfish.

The message of Jesus, though fiction, is a great story and great role model in my opinion, but I see a lot of hypoChristians in my travels who would rather tell you how to live than tell you how Jesus lived.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 09:55 AM
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I don't understand why this was written.

Belief or non-belief in God(s) is purely opinion. Both sides may have supporting points, but it still comes down to opinion.

So what are you wanting/



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 10:23 AM
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Originally posted by WickettheRabbit
I don't understand why this was written.

Belief or non-belief in God(s) is purely opinion. Both sides may have supporting points, but it still comes down to opinion.


If you understand that, but don't understand why I wrote the article, I would suggest rereading the last two paragraphs.

When matters of opinion are presented as matters of fact, there is a problem, whether it is atheists, theists, marketers or politicians making their case.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 10:41 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


What makes the statement "I have no belief in God" a weak position? Your three points I would say are rational and spot on. Because I see no evidence of a supernatural deity is why I lack belief.

It is my opinion, of course, but it is also a fact that there is no evidence for any God. Facts can change, they aren't Law (in the scientific sense) and one day evidence may show up. Until then, any claim that God exists would fall into Category 3 in your OP.
edit on 8-8-2011 by novastrike81 because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 10:43 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 



Another ancient skill, which works to either bolster or counter rhetoric, is reason, the ability to form judgements in the mind through a process of logic. My title, over there on the left, is "Reasonable," and I chose that a long time ago, not because I am easy to get along with (though I generally am,) but because my life is built on reason. I am able to pick apart rhetoric and apply logic to it, discerning whether the arguments are valid or not. It is a most useful skill, I would encourage anyone to take a course on logic (generally taught in philosophy departments.)


A rational atheist uses logic; the atheist asserts that we don't have enough information to discern the cause (if any) of reality, because the athiest "doesn't know" (i.e. is agnostic) it would be unwise to commit to one specific theory cannot be verified.

Rational atheists do not assert positive atheism ("There is no God") - This is as irrational as saying "There is a God"

Atheism, by definition is simply a lack of belief. Atheists are in the same naive position as the Theist (or believer) BUT the rational atheist does not make the mistake of committing to a theory that has been formed without evidence.

The rational atheist would not be so irrational and dishonest to make a claim to truth regarding the unknown.

A few dillemmas/paradoxes that Theists have to answer:-

"Euthyphro Dilemma"

The Euthyphro dilemma is found in Plato's dialogue Euthyphro, in which Socrates asks Euthyphro: "Is the pious (τὸ ὅσιον) loved by the gods because it is pious, or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?" (10a)

The dilemma has had a major effect on the philosophical theism (faith) of the monotheistic religions, but in a modified form: "Is what is morally good commanded by God because it is morally good, or is it morally good because it is commanded by God?" Ever since Plato's original discussion, this question has presented a problem for some theists (believers), though others have thought it a false dilemma, and it continues to be an object of theological and philosophical discussion today.


"Epicurean Paradox" (Or "Problem of Evil")


God exists.
God is omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good.
A perfectly good being would want to prevent all evils.
An omniscient being knows every way in which evils can come into existence.
An omnipotent being, who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, has the power to prevent that evil from coming into existence.
A being who knows every way in which an evil can come into existence, who is able to prevent that evil from coming into existence, and who wants to do so, would prevent the existence of that evil.
If there exists an omnipotent, omniscient, and perfectly good being, then no evil exists.
Evil exists (logical contradiction).


Christian apologists often use weak arguments for belief in a supernatural deity (especially that of a specific religion)

"Pascal's Wager"


Pascal's Wager (or Pascal's Gambit) is a suggestion posed by the French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist Blaise Pascal that even if the existence of God could not be determined through reason, a rational person should wager as though God exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose.


Compare this Christian apologetic wager to that of the "Atheist's Wager"


You should live your life and try to make the world a better place for your being in it, whether or not you believe in god. If there is no god, you have lost nothing and will be remembered fondly by those you left behind. If there is a benevolent god, he will judge you on your merits and not just on whether or not you believed in him


I personally know which wager i find more honest, humble and courageous.

Also, consider the following image.

(right-click and "view image" for the full image, or find the URL)

It may help your on your path to enlightenment.

Hope this information is useful to someone.

Peace.
edit on 8-8-2011 by ExistentialNightmare because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 11:56 AM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Then there is experience.

If I have recurring and meaningful mystical experiences of God and hear of others who claim to have equally meaningful experiences of God, and then see that throughout all time and all cultures, these experiences are actually common-- even if individually they cannot be proved-- then reason suggests that the experiences are real.

Add to that such things as the collections of spiritual writings which give additional understanding to persons with such experiences-- whether those writings are held as divinely revealed or mere personal experience. That is to say, within the common experiences, common meaning is often assigned by each, unaware of the others.


Next:
A huge assumption made by too many atheists is based upon an unfamiliarity with apologetics-- the reasoning of a faith. To a lessor extent, many religious persons also assume that their faith cannot be and has not been reasoned by others.

Concepts such as the Prime Mover is a concrete example, life after death and near death experiences slightly more esoteric, ghost, spirit and angel stories are perhaps even more marginal, but collectively are valid arguments that religious experiences do, in fact, point to common experiences with reasonable, yet, spiritual, interpretations.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 12:11 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


The quality of the OP is no less, than what I have learned to expect from you, and it's about time that someone approached the whole controversy from an epistemological perspective.

You have outlined the optional positions clearly and rationally. No objections there.

But from there I don't go along with you in details...

Quote: ["For example, one might say "There is no evidence for the existence of deities." What have we here? Well, there's a fact, right? Evidence exists or it doesn't. Do we know whether it does or it doesn't?"]

I'm not sure how to read this. Are you implying there is POTENTIAL evidence hanging around somewhere, just waiting to be discovered, and that this immobilizes any fact vs faith debate.

I'm very well aware, that atheists sometimes use the same kind of argument: "Science will eventually find an answer", but this doesn't make the argument or argument-style any more valid.

We have present evidence to form rational positions from, and no 'jam tomorrow' answer makes sense. YOUR present direction, towards epistemology, is on the other hand valid and valuable, and it would in the context of e.g. this ATS subforum be a step forward, if the already existing competence from elsewhere could be included. A 'refinement' of methodology is an attractive way out, not paralyzing the situation to total philosophical scepticism.

Quote: [" No, that would be another instance of an absolute conclusion based on non-absolute observations."]

Completely correct, but a strict adherence to such a principle would reduce any debate to either ultimate expert-authority or complete silence.

"A cat can look at a king"; .....it's better to shoot it out along the way, demanding positions and methodologies as the various perspectives manifest. With such intellectual 'purity' principles you present here, the earth would still be considered flat in a geo-centric cosmos, because no-one initially could produce all-or-nothing answers.

Quote: ["So, the correct restatement of that claim is "I personally have seen no evidence that I feel demonstrates the existence of deities"]

True, if EVERYBODY would accept such semantic correctness. Not ONLY atheists. I know from earlier, that you share my distaste for 'quantum-religion'. Do you also share my distaste for the 'intelligent design' non-sense (as manifested, not for the concept per se), which always (on ATS) is semantic in the end?

Quote: ["Not a particularly strong statement, and thus highly unlikely to persuade anyone -- why should I care whether you've seen no evidence?"]

And here I'm in totally disagreement with you. Individual adherence to objective procedure ISN'T immediately identifiable with faith-subjectivism. You'll need to go back to the epistemologic perspective to row this one ashore.

Quote: ["So we see the inevitable tendency to "slide up the scale" with arguments -- trying to turn a category three into a one or two, or trying to turn a category two into a one."]

I for one, would like to join you in an effort of diminishing such. But honestly, how do you consider the chances of such a 'pedagogic' effort. I'm neither being negative nor 'tactical', but I can't see a majority of ATS contributors becoming paragons of 'general semantics' in any near future.

Quote: ["So it's a bit ironic that so many take a weak, but fairly rational statement like "I have no belief in God" and turn it into a collection of irrational statements, simply because they can't accept that, rationally, their position is no stronger than someone who says "I have belief in God."]

That is kind of an anti-climax to your otherwise very sensible start. You skipped the steps, I have asked for above...This 'conclusion is premature.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 12:24 PM
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reply to post by Frira
 


You wrote:

["If I have recurring and meaningful mystical experiences of God and hear of others who claim to have equally meaningful experiences of God,"]

Or alternatively 'another 'god' ' or 'no god' (e.g. Nirvana). Your category is false.

Quote: ["and then see that throughout all time and all cultures, these experiences are actually common-- even if individually they cannot be proved-- then reason suggests that the experiences are real."]

A broader perspective and broader scope of experiences are needed to give it even SLIGHTLY rational validity.

Quote: ["Add to that such things as the collections of spiritual writings which give additional understanding to persons with such experiences--"]

Are you here talking about 'doctrines' (which have NOTHING to do with the direct experience) or do you include such as e.g. Tao Teh King in your example.

Quote: ["Next: A huge assumption made by too many atheists is based upon an unfamiliarity with apologetics-- "]

And vice versa concerning theist understanding of logic, objective procedure, scientific methodology.

Quote: ["the reasoning of a faith."]

And what does that expression 'reasoning of faith' mean?

Quote: ["Concepts such as the Prime Mover is a concrete example, life after death and near death experiences slightly more esoteric, ghost, spirit and angel stories are perhaps even more marginal, but collectively are valid arguments that religious experiences do, in fact, point to common experiences with reasonable, yet, spiritual, interpretations."]

I have a metaphysical position myself, striving for such 'clarity'. But I wouldn't touch this vague category you have presented here with a ten-foot pole.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 12:32 PM
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Originally posted by novastrike81
reply to post by adjensen
 


What makes the statement "I have no belief in God" a weak position? Your three points I would say are rational and spot on. Because I see no evidence of a supernatural deity is why I lack belief.

It is my opinion, of course, but it is also a fact that there is no evidence for any God. Facts can change, they aren't Law (in the scientific sense) and one day evidence may show up. Until then, any claim that God exists would fall into Category 3 in your OP.
edit on 8-8-2011 by novastrike81 because: (no reason given)


Ahem... Excuse me, I just wanted to point out that the answer to your question of "what makes that a weak position" is: the same thing that makes the counter position to that argument weak. I guess you could say that your position is not necessarily weak, but simply no stronger than its counterpoint. As a believer who also believes in reason and logic, I am willing to admit my position, in the eyes of a nonbiased observer, is equal in viability to yours. Being humble and openminded is a part of my own personal "religion". I admit it is a unique and unknown religion, but I still think it has as much creedence as any other religion out there. Membership: me. Leadership: me.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 01:03 PM
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reply to post by ZackMorris
 


So my position is I lack belief because I see no evidence for a supernatural being. Does that mean your position has evidence since it counters mine?


Could you explain your position more in detail so there is no misunderstanding?



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 01:33 PM
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Originally posted by bogomil
reply to post by Frira
 


You wrote:

["If I have recurring and meaningful mystical experiences of God and hear of others who claim to have equally meaningful experiences of God,"]

Or alternatively 'another 'god' ' or 'no god' (e.g. Nirvana). Your category is false.

Quote: ["and then see that throughout all time and all cultures, these experiences are actually common-- even if individually they cannot be proved-- then reason suggests that the experiences are real."]

A broader perspective and broader scope of experiences are needed to give it even SLIGHTLY rational validity.

Quote: ["Add to that such things as the collections of spiritual writings which give additional understanding to persons with such experiences--"]

Are you here talking about 'doctrines' (which have NOTHING to do with the direct experience) or do you include such as e.g. Tao Teh King in your example.

Quote: ["Next: A huge assumption made by too many atheists is based upon an unfamiliarity with apologetics-- "]

And vice versa concerning theist understanding of logic, objective procedure, scientific methodology

Quote: ["the reasoning of a faith."]

And what does that expression 'reasoning of faith' mean?

Quote: ["Concepts such as the Prime Mover is a concrete example, life after death and near death experiences slightly more esoteric, ghost, spirit and angel stories are perhaps even more marginal, but collectively are valid arguments that religious experiences do, in fact, point to common experiences with reasonable, yet, spiritual, interpretations."]

I have a metaphysical position myself, striving for such 'clarity'. But I wouldn't touch this vague category you have presented here with a ten-foot pole.




Bogomil, the English language does not seem to be your primary language in that you fail to make use of context. What I wrote, I wrote as whole, removing a part from the whole removes it from context, and your arguments are ALWAYS based on part removed from their context.

"Your category false." Really? I would first have needed to have stated a category rather than an example, but you cannot reasonably claim the example to be false. Rather the OP's point, so you assign your own meaning and context so as to argue.

"A broader perspective and broader scope of experiences are needed to give it even SLIGHTLY rational validity." To what? I ask rhetorically, because you imply a context not offered by me-- again, you create your own context of meaning despite what other provide.

"And vice versa concerning theist understanding of logic, objective procedure, scientific methodology"
An assumption on your part, a necessary assumption required for you to create straw men for you to oppose.

"Are you here talking about 'doctrines' (which have NOTHING to do with the direct experience) or do you include such as e.g. Tao Teh King in your example."
I said what I said. Read the context. You said doctrines (you needed the straw man) and then "shout" NOTHING to do with..." Yawn.

"And what does that expression 'reasoning of faith' mean?"
All you had to do, was read the word before that statement! "Apologetics" See? CONTEXT! So with your not knowing what apologetics means, you are none-the-less quick to accuse a person of faith with not knowing reasoning, science, and such. How is that working out for you?

"But I wouldn't touch this vague category you have presented here with a ten-foot pole."
Your straw man in this instance, is that if I do not provide a complete list instead of example for context, you will cry "foul!" "Vague!"

Yet again, Bogomil, I find you seeking to interrupt a discussion you do not wish to take place, rather than further it. That ten foot pole might just be in your way.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 01:35 PM
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Originally posted by novastrike81
reply to post by adjensen
 


What makes the statement "I have no belief in God" a weak position? Your three points I would say are rational and spot on. Because I see no evidence of a supernatural deity is why I lack belief.


It is rhetorically weak because, as I said, purely subjective points ("I have no belief in God" and "I see no evidence") have no (well, little) value in persuasion. You can leap about all day saying that you think milk is delicious, but if I don't like it, your opinion that I should is of no consequence.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 01:44 PM
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Originally posted by ExistentialNightmare
The rational atheist would not be so irrational and dishonest to make a claim to truth regarding the unknown.


Thanks for restating my points. Can I presume that you concur that Richard Dawkins is irrational, then?


A few dillemmas/paradoxes that Theists have to answer:-


Please create your own thread for this -- this thread is not a debate on the existence or non-existence of God.
edit on 8-8-2011 by adjensen because: tag flub



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 01:53 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 



Thanks for restating my points. Can I presume that you concur that Richard Dawkins is irrational, then?


Atheism is a disbelief, not a positive claim, although there are positive atheists and negative atheists.

Declaring man's Gods don't exist is different from declaring "There is no God". It's easy to be gnostic Atheist in regards to "Thor, the God of thunder".

Again, not ALL Atheists declare "There is no God" as this is nearly as irrational as the Theist whom, first claims God exists, and then claims to understand the God's emotions and desires of one particular species on a planet (situated in the suberbs of a relatively small Gallaxy)


Please create your own thread for this -- this thread is not a debate on the existence or non-existence of God.


Don't tell me what thread i can and can't take part in; your title implies that Atheism is a position from dishonesty, I'm rebutting that postulate.
edit on 8-8-2011 by ExistentialNightmare because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 02:00 PM
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reply to post by Frira
 


You wrote:

["Bogomil, the English language does not seem to be your primary language in that you fail to make use of context. What I wrote, I wrote as whole, removing a part from the whole removes it from context, and your arguments are ALWAYS based on part removed from their context."]

The extent of language abilities is not a relevant part of this thread. Most participants here seem to understand me. If you are not amongst them, that's that.

Quote: [""Your category false." Really? I would first have needed to have stated a category rather than an example, but you cannot reasonably claim the example to be false. Rather the OP's point, so you assign your own meaning and context so as to argue."]

The option of 'direct experience' is relevant to topic, if it doesn't derail the thread. A 'direct experience' based on 'god' is a limitation, carrying the (imo) aspired 'objectivity' of OP into a selective subjectivity.

Quote: [""And vice versa concerning theist understanding of logic, objective procedure, scientific methodology"
An assumption on your part, a necessary assumption required for you to create straw men for you to oppose."]

Examples abound on ATS, but I don't want to hang any specified individuals from other threads out as 'bad examples'. Let the readers here be individual referees on that (for themselves).

Quote on "reasoning of faith": ["All you had to do, was read the word before that statement! "Apologetics" See?"]

Thanks for your clarification of your position.

Quote: ["Yet again, Bogomil, I find you seeking to interrupt a discussion you do not wish to take place, rather than further it. That ten foot pole might just be in your way."]

I relate to adjensen's OP as the perspective. And I regret to say, that any accusations to the opposite are of no interest to me.



edit on 8-8-2011 by bogomil because: spelling, syntax



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 02:02 PM
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Originally posted by bogomil
I'm not sure how to read this. Are you implying there is POTENTIAL evidence hanging around somewhere, just waiting to be discovered, and that this immobilizes any fact vs faith debate.


No, I'm saying that evidence either does or doesn't exist, but which one it is remains unknown. If I say "there is no evidence" or even "I have seen no evidence", this is not an indication of which is true, and is not a basis for forming a conclusion.


Quote: [" No, that would be another instance of an absolute conclusion based on non-absolute observations."]

Completely correct, but a strict adherence to such a principle would reduce any debate to either ultimate expert-authority or complete silence.


As it should, because drawing conclusions based on faulty data simply leads to a cascade of errors.


Quote: ["So, the correct restatement of that claim is "I personally have seen no evidence that I feel demonstrates the existence of deities"]

True, if EVERYBODY would accept such semantic correctness. Not ONLY atheists. I know from earlier, that you share my distaste for 'quantum-religion'. Do you also share my distaste for the 'intelligent design' non-sense (as manifested, not for the concept per se), which always (on ATS) is semantic in the end?


I don't know that I have any distaste for it -- it's one explanation among many. It's not one that I agree with, but I think it falls into the "fact that is not known", so my basis for disagreement isn't really strong enough to say that I would dismiss the notion outright (though I do dismiss a lot of the rational outright.)


Quote: ["Not a particularly strong statement, and thus highly unlikely to persuade anyone -- why should I care whether you've seen no evidence?"]

And here I'm in totally disagreement with you. Individual adherence to objective procedure ISN'T immediately identifiable with faith-subjectivism. You'll need to go back to the epistemologic perspective to row this one ashore.


Sorry, not quite getting what your point is here. Mine is that, if someone's "proof" is that they personally haven't seen any evidence, that "proof" is worthless, because there are any number of reasons that they could say that which have no bearing on the existence or non-existence of God. Some Calvinists go so far as to say that the LACK of evidence for some people is proof of God's existence. I wouldn't go so far as that, though if you dig through that little conundrum logically, they have a neat argument tied up in there.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 02:09 PM
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Originally posted by ExistentialNightmare
Again, not ALL Atheists declare "There is no God" as this is nearly as irrational as the Theist


Please reread my initial post -- I never implied that ALL atheists make that statement, and flat out said that many do not, and of those who do, once the irrationality of it is pointed out, most back down to restate their position as that of opinion.



Please create your own thread for this -- this thread is not a debate on the existence or non-existence of God.


Don't tell me what thread i can and can't take part in; your title implies that Atheism is a position from dishonesty, I'm rebutting that postulate.


While you're doing the re-reading, also kindly note that nothing is said about an atheist's beliefs being dishonest, rather their points of argument and methodology.

Though it is not a perspective that I share, I consider atheism to be a perfectly valid and rational set of beliefs, and I have no interest in changing your mind about what you choose to believe or not believe.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 02:27 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


You wrote:

["Sorry, not quite getting what your point is here. Mine is that, if someone's "proof" is that they personally haven't seen any evidence, that "proof" is worthless, because there are any number of reasons that they could say that which have no bearing on the existence or non-existence of God. Some Calvinists go so far as to say that the LACK of evidence for some people is proof of God's existence. I wouldn't go so far as that, though if you dig through that little conundrum logically, they have a neat argument tied up in there."]

As no-one can know everything, it's unavoidable (and in the best of all worlds regrettable), that SOME 'authority' is brought into the general situation (do we agree on, that a minimum of 'authority-arguments' is preferable?).

In science/logic (and the associated 'tools') the 'authority' is scientific procedure.

In faith the 'authority' can be e.g. doctrines or hierarchial decissions.

These two sets of 'authority' are from a pragmatic 'functionality' perspective very different. It needs an epistemological perspective to find a common evaluation reference-point.

Quote on 'quantum-religion': ["I don't know that I have any distaste for it "]

If you grant me permission, I will send you a U2U on it (but only with your consent). It's a minor point, of no general interest to this thread, and I don't want it to be a contest issue.

PS (addition): I'm definitely not a fan of Calvin.




edit on 8-8-2011 by bogomil because: addition.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 02:41 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 



While you're doing the re-reading, also kindly note that nothing is said about an atheist's beliefs being dishonest, rather their points of argument and methodology.


And the same would apply to the methodology and argument of SOME Theists. And the same would apply to fortune tellers, and astrologists. Some people present arguments poorly, this isn't just restricted to philosophical (or religious) arena.


Though it is not a perspective that I share, I consider atheism to be a perfectly valid and rational set of beliefs, and I have no interest in changing your mind about what you choose to believe or not believe.


Nice.



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