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Rhetoric, Reason, and the Dishonesty of the Atheist Position

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posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 02:50 PM
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Originally posted by ExistentialNightmare
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.


Well, of course. The landscape is littered with them -- marketing and politics are a couple of other major offenders. And don't get me wrong, I am well aware of theistic irrationality as well, and point it out when appropriate. If one peels away the veneer of doctrine and politics, theism is a fairly reasonable and logical perspective, though it does require faith, espoused as simply that. Faith.




posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 02:55 PM
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Originally posted by bogomil
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.


No need for permission, always happy to hear from you :-)


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


Calvinism is, perhaps, the most logical of all major Christian theologies, but I believe that it is either an example of a "cascade of errors" or it is indicative of the unknowable nature of God, because even though it makes a very deep sense, it does so in the light of something that seems incredibly unjust. Though, as the saying goes, "My castle, my rules", so who am I to say what is just or unjust, eh?



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 03:18 PM
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The problem with the grains of sand analogy is that it is not a black and white problem. You have to dig DEEP into the Scientific method and use as much Science as you can to determine an answer to this problem.

At precisely WHAT TIME are you going to perform this measurement? If you perform it at different times then you will realize that the tide is at different locations during the day.

How far away from the water is the sand still considered part of our California beach sand measurement? 50 feet from the water line at our exact time? 100 feet from the water? 200 feet?

What size are we willing to use to measure our California beach sand? How small does a rock or piece of material have to be to be included in our calculations? Some California beaches have large pebbles, what is the largest size rock/stone/pebble being included in our calculations?

Do we include shell fragments in our beach sand calculations? What about fragments of animal and fish bones that have been ground into sand like particles? Pieces of crystal like quartz?

LETS TALK DEPTH! How far DOWN do we include in our calculations of the number of grains of sand on California beaches?

Do we also calculate any amount of distance INTO THE WATER in our calculations? How far?

If you do not use Science then you will never even BEGIN to be able to START this calculation.

The answer to bad science is not religion...it is better science.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 04:02 PM
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Originally posted by idonotcollectstamps
The problem with the grains of sand analogy is that it is not a black and white problem. You have to dig DEEP into the Scientific method and use as much Science as you can to determine an answer to this problem.

.. snip ..

The answer to bad science is not religion...it is better science.


Don't know where you fell off the track here, because the article is not about science, but yes, there is an answer to the sand problem, and no, science cannot answer it. Changing the parameters, or even defining them, as you have, does not get you any closer to finding an answer, and unless science can stop time and count every single grain, your answer does not lie there, either. Scientific method would suggest digging a sample size, counting the grains in the sample, and then statistically inferring a total count from that.

Which would result in an answer just as wrong as someone claiming that there are twenty, or twenty billion grains. Define your sandbox however you like, but there is only one right count, and a near infinite number of wrong ones. Representing your wrong answer as a right one is inherently dishonest.

There are some matters which are facts, but which are unknowable.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 04:14 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


You wrote:

["Calvinism is, perhaps, the most logical of all major Christian theologies, but I believe that it is either an example of a "cascade of errors" or it is indicative of the unknowable nature of God, because even though it makes a very deep sense, it does so in the light of something that seems incredibly unjust. Though, as the saying goes, "My castle, my rules", so who am I to say what is just or unjust, eh?"]

If nothing else, it accentuates some very basic positions clearly. A subject which would justify a thread of its own.

And now I'm a little daring: These positions actually have at least a small potential meeting-place between facts - faith, where 'divine motives' can be hypothesed on from 'inner-cosmic' observations (i.e. science/philosophy etc).

But please notice my guarded language, I'm not committing myself to more than speculations, presented as only speculations.

I hope this digression won't disturb the general flow of the thread, but it's so fascinating, that I couldn't resist.

PS European time-zone here, so hopefully around again tomorrow.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 04:21 PM
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reply to post by adjensen
 


Bleep it, I'll be here for another short post, being tempted again.

You wrote:

["Define your sandbox however you like, but there is only one right count, and a near infinite number of wrong ones."]

There's the option of seeing 'truth' as approximative probabilties. It solves no end of ivory-tower epistemology-speculations.



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 06:47 PM
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Originally posted by bogomil
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.

Two things:
1) I am trying to understand your communication style, and suggested an explanation, which f true, would help me do that.
2) You did it again-- instead of sticking to context, you changed to your own context-- you did not address what I wrote.

At what point did you share your metaphysical theories? You mentioned you had them.

At what point did you address the context of my post concerning experience as a component of reasoning?



posted on Aug, 8 2011 @ 10:03 PM
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glad to see you back, here's a celebratory toast



the only question I would bring up is what would you say is the reasoning behind these men giving up so much?


Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
Revelation1

And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel's
Mark10

But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none
1Corinthians7
biblos.com...



posted on Aug, 9 2011 @ 07:22 AM
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reply to post by Frira
 


You wrote:

["1) I am trying to understand your communication style, and suggested an explanation, which f true, would help me do that."]

While a specific analysis of my writing, alternatively your reading abilities MAY have some interest (but for whom?), it's completely outside the scope of this thread, and on my part that direction is finished here.

Quote: ["2) You did it again-- instead of sticking to context, you changed to your own context-- you did not address what I wrote."]

You brought in the tangent subject of 'direct experience'. If it is to be topic-relevant, i.e. including theism AND atheism, 'direct experience'-approaches should encompass the whole range of such 'direct experiences'. Not only the 'god'-related ones.

A chinese-box unravelling of 'context', as seen from the perspective of 'general semantics', I would like to have adjensen's 'go-ahead' signal for. I have a great deal of respect for adjensen and the way the present OP is formulated, and I'm not sure, that semantic gymnastics on the subject of semantics is what is intended here.

Quote: [" At what point did you share your metaphysical theories? You mentioned you had them."]

I have not presented the specifics of my metaphysical position here. Sofar it's not been relevant. Whereas I believe mentioning such a general position may be of interest, as it places me neither as a theist, nor an atheist. Sometimes knowing where people 'come from' saves a lot of time.

Considering the 'depth' of the OP, I'm waiting for adjensen's next move (if any), rather than getting off in my own perhaps insufficient interpretations of direction etc. I'm trying, as politely as I can, to say that I'm not going your present way, but for a starter look at adjensen's 'finger pointing at the moon'.

As for fingers pointing anywhere it's not a bad one.



posted on Aug, 9 2011 @ 11:06 AM
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Originally posted by bogomil
reply to post by Frira
 


You wrote:

["1) I am trying to understand your communication style, and suggested an explanation, which f true, would help me do that."]

While a specific analysis of my writing, alternatively your reading abilities MAY have some interest (but for whom?), it's completely outside the scope of this thread, and on my part that direction is finished here.

Quote: ["2) You did it again-- instead of sticking to context, you changed to your own context-- you did not address what I wrote."]

You brought in the tangent subject of 'direct experience'. If it is to be topic-relevant, i.e. including theism AND atheism, 'direct experience'-approaches should encompass the whole range of such 'direct experiences'. Not only the 'god'-related ones.

A chinese-box unravelling of 'context', as seen from the perspective of 'general semantics', I would like to have adjensen's 'go-ahead' signal for. I have a great deal of respect for adjensen and the way the present OP is formulated, and I'm not sure, that semantic gymnastics on the subject of semantics is what is intended here.

Quote: [" At what point did you share your metaphysical theories? You mentioned you had them."]

I have not presented the specifics of my metaphysical position here. Sofar it's not been relevant. Whereas I believe mentioning such a general position may be of interest, as it places me neither as a theist, nor an atheist. Sometimes knowing where people 'come from' saves a lot of time.

Considering the 'depth' of the OP, I'm waiting for adjensen's next move (if any), rather than getting off in my own perhaps insufficient interpretations of direction etc. I'm trying, as politely as I can, to say that I'm not going your present way, but for a starter look at adjensen's 'finger pointing at the moon'.

As for fingers pointing anywhere it's not a bad one.


That seems reasonable. So, I think is my position.

If we are discussing the form of dialogue concerning faith and atheism, using the logic of an argument, adjensen has presented that well in terms of what is "fact" that which can be known, proven, or for the most part, what cannot be proven.

That seems to beg the question of the what evidence is used in discussion in which nothing can be proven to the satisfaction of either position-- be it a assertion of God or spiritual Realty, for example, or be it a position of denying that. An agnostic position, being neutral, is unlikely to be swayed by opinion. So the evidence must be, as the OP hinted, one of experience or one of lack of experience.

* If have no experience which evidences for me the existence of God, or gods, or spiritual realms, etc. then Agnostic is a reasonable self-identifier.
* If I have experiences which evidence for me that there is something beyond the commonly perceived, then there is a wide spectrum from which one may be led to interpret what evidence is perceived-- from religiously Theistic to non-specific personal enlightenment.

It is for that reason that I bring in what evidence it is which under-girds any position and that evidence is primarily (perhaps even entirely) based upon experience.

Some may claim Scripture to be evidence, but that is indirect experience, and easily dismissed. Of course for someone whose experience does lead them to agree with a spiritual writing or canonized (formally or by general acceptance) collection of writings, then the doctrines, teachings, hopes, and other expressions may be supported by them for that person, but is not evidence, itself.

You asked a question of me which may valuable here-- While I am a Christian, I find much wisdom and understanding, personally, in every spiritual and religious teachings I have encountered. So, Yes, I do find my own experiences supported in the teachings of non-Christian spiritual and religious writings. A fundamental speculation of mine is that there is something about humans which includes a propensity to to.... suspect or sense or perhaps merely hope for something beyond that which is seen-- something beyond the mundane.

That is very close the ancient Gnostic (and I am thinking Zoroastrian) approach of finding truth in nearly all religions they encountered but confident that their own teachings can accommodate and perfect all others. A generalization, but sufficient to make the point. The common denominator, it seems to me, is the commonality, not the differences, in the human experience when it includes the mystic.

I accepted everything that the OP stated, and everything which he has elaborated upon since as reasonable and acceptable. The place of experience, then, seems to be the focus of where all differences of our passions lie. Why else, are we discussing the matter?

Perhaps there are persons who are adamant in faith but have no experience of anything to support a belief or a non-belief, but I would think such persons would have no interest, no passion, and no motivation for speculation other than idle sort. But in participating in this thread, experience, and experience alone, seems to be the pivot for what follows an "I believe" or a "I do not believe" or a "I do not know" statement.



posted on Aug, 9 2011 @ 11:42 AM
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If we are discussing the form of dialogue concerning faith and atheism, using the logic of an argument, adjensen has presented that well in terms of what is "fact" that which can be known, proven, or for the most part, what cannot be proven.


But Christianity, Islam and Judaism (for example) are positive claims regarding the unknown, the burden of proof is not on the atheist. Someone decides to make a theory up? Back it up.

I can make any positive claim and declare it as truth, If i'm careful to add that it's unprovable; and i can gain a massive following, if i make it a profound claim and include supernatural threats or warnings.

Russell's Teapots highlights this opportunistic rthetoric that is based on an argument from ignorance:-


Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. SOURCE

edit on 9-8-2011 by ExistentialNightmare because: (no reason given)



posted on Aug, 9 2011 @ 11:43 AM
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reply to post by Frira
 


Fair enough and well presented.

Only one comment....

Quote: ["But in participating in this thread, experience, and experience alone, seems to be the pivot for what follows an "I believe" or a "I do not believe" or a "I do not know" statement."]

Personally I'm very enthusiatic about 'direct experience', with the addition that if it's used as an 'argument', the category must be inclusive, not exclusive, concerning 'direct experiences'.

Apart from that, I do not agree on 'direct experience' formally is THE ('only' as you wrote) perspective on this thread. adjensen has quite the philosophical mind and talent, which is another 'way'. But better let himself clarify the implications of OP on this.



posted on Aug, 9 2011 @ 12:29 PM
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Originally posted by ExistentialNightmare

If we are discussing the form of dialogue concerning faith and atheism, using the logic of an argument, adjensen has presented that well in terms of what is "fact" that which can be known, proven, or for the most part, what cannot be proven.


But Christianity, Islam and Judaism (for example) are positive claims regarding the unknown, the burden of proof is not on the atheist. Someone decides to make a theory up? Back it up.

Yes. And my point was that it is backed up by personal experience, and that personal experiencing cannot be proof to anyone else.

But when viewing the collective experiences of many across time and culture, then, in this case, it at least points to something unexplained is going on. The explanations of those who find commonality in the experience has some weight-- insufficient to convince anyone not sharing that experience, but weighty among those who do share commonality.



I can make any positive claim and declare it as truth, If i'm careful to add that it's unprovable; and i can gain a massive following, if i make it a profound claim and include supernatural threats or warnings.


Yes and No.

Following tends to come only from appeal to common experience or from providing a reasonable and acceptable solution to a problem [in the case of spiritual supposition-- an answer (partial) to a mystery].

Countless examples exist on ATS. Conspiracy theories can be attractive if they explain or solve a problem important to understanding the world. They may be right or wrong, but will develop a following based upon how well they resolve an issue for the follower.



Russell's Teapots highlights this opportunistic rthetoric that is based on an argument from ignorance:-


Many orthodox people speak as though it were the business of sceptics to disprove received dogmas rather than of dogmatists to prove them. This is, of course, a mistake. If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time. SOURCE

edit on 9-8-2011 by ExistentialNightmare because: (no reason given)


Sure. I had never read that illustration, and was wondering where I left that teapot.

The unreasonableness of being tasked with proving a negative was part of the OP. I think we all agree.

The OP stated a position with which agree and so well, that other than saying "I agree" I have nothing to offer except that I believe it logically leads to and opens to what then we do.

Bogomil already brought in the mention of "authority" as I brought the mention of "evidence" -- the two are very much related. I maintain that evidence must be assumed to begin with personal experience. I may be wrong, but I do know I would be agnostic if it had not been for my personal experiences. Only then, does a reasonable person come to consider what may or may not be an authority. Or am I wrong?



posted on Aug, 9 2011 @ 12:56 PM
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Originally posted by bogomil
reply to post by Frira
 


Fair enough and well presented.

Only one comment....

Quote: ["But in participating in this thread, experience, and experience alone, seems to be the pivot for what follows an "I believe" or a "I do not believe" or a "I do not know" statement."]

Personally I'm very enthusiatic about 'direct experience', with the addition that if it's used as an 'argument', the category must be inclusive, not exclusive, concerning 'direct experiences'.

Apart from that, I do not agree on 'direct experience' formally is THE ('only' as you wrote) perspective on this thread. adjensen has quite the philosophical mind and talent, which is another 'way'. But better let himself clarify the implications of OP on this.


I think I see what you mean.

My question for clarification is this: If a person does not have any experience which supports a declaration of faith-- say, a person who adamantly believes that Hell awaits them unless they proclaim Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior, but has experienced nothing of a spiritual nature-- is that even reasonable?

I say it is not a reasonable position, although I know persons who are adamant about their Christian faith and claim no personal experience or even reason to support what they avow.

Does not the OP assume that reason/logic MUST BE a component when addressing the self-declarations made by atheist, agnostics and all others?

Therefore my bias is that, lacking objective proof, it is only subjective experience which drives what we avow, upon what we speculate, and what we reject. The only other option, it seems to me, is that we do not speculate at all and thus neither reasonably avow nor reasonably reject.



posted on Aug, 9 2011 @ 02:37 PM
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reply to post by Frira
 


You wrote:

["My question for clarification is this: If a person does not have any experience which supports a declaration of faith-- say, a person who adamantly believes that Hell awaits them unless they proclaim Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Savior, but has experienced nothing of a spiritual nature-- is that even reasonable?"]

To some extent I would agree with you. But it depends on the degree of the promotional intensity.

For the nominal or average, somewhat passive religionist, second-hand knowledge is enough to carry him/her through life. As it is for the scientifically ignoramus, who can use science, without understanding a word of it.

And then there's the faith position, completely legitimate, if it respects other faiths, competing truth/reality-seeking systems and societal rules.

It's when some kinds of 'fact' (with a broad definiton of the word 'fact' outside the standard science/logic one) are necessary, the direct experience can be valuable.

Personally I would e.g. accept science/logic facts as a valid support of theism, IF it's REAL science/logic and if such science/logic facts existed. Maybe they will some day. Maybe not. In the meantime the direct experience will have to do the 'fact'-thingy alone.

But the whole methodology around it will have to be straightened out, before it will gain general acceptance. And that's slow going.




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