0774: "Atheists"

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Pfhorrest
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:00 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:if you meant going from "it is irrational to believe in god" to "god doesn't exist", then yes, that is a completely unjustified leap. Especially since I've already *explicitly* pointed out how it can be irrational to believe some things even when they're true, simply because you don't yet have enough evidence to rationalize a belief in them.

There is some nuance in there though that leans more toward what a_shrub seems to think we're all saying:

If it is irrational for someone to believe in something, then that someone should disbelieve that something. There might still be the epistemological possibility of that something (i.e. maybe it will turn out that we should change our minds and believe that something), but that depends on just how irrational it is to believe in the something in question. Some of us at least are saying that it is always irrational for anyone to believe in (certain concepts of) God; thus, no one ever should believe in (those sorts of) God, as we are effectively certain that (those sorts of) necessarily God do not exist.

There is some similarity here to Moore's Paradox, which for those unfamiliar is an oddity the philosopher G.E. Moore brought up: saying "X is true but I don't believe it" seems self-contradictory, but logically isn't; it's entirely logically possible for something to be true and yet disbelieved, happens all the time. The so-called "paradox" then is why does something not logically contradictory seem intuitively to be so? The common solution to the paradox is to differentiate between what someone demonstrates about their thoughts by their speech-acts, and the propositional content of that speech. So saying "X is true" demonstrates the speaker's belief in X, but the propositional content of their speech includes the assertion of their disbelief of X. I like to analogize it as something like screaming in a rage "I'M NOT ANGRY!"; your act of speaking (the manner of it at least, in this case) demonstrates the falsehood of the contents of you speech.

So back in our case, and my point: saying "it is irrational to believe in God" (presumably meaning irrational for the person saying that, and perhaps inclusive of his audience as well) demonstrates that person's disbelief in God, just the same as if that person were to say "God does not exist", even if it could in some cases be irrational for someone to believe something which is, in fact, true. And for those us saying it is always irrational to believe in (certain concepts of) God, that demonstrates the same thing about our beliefs as saying "God could not possibly exist"; even though.... now that I think about it, I'm not sure whether the two propositions' contents come apart in that universalized case. Can we really call something "possible" which is always irrational for anyone to believe?
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Cloud Walker » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:09 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Can we really call something "possible" which is always irrational for anyone to believe?


Well yeah. Santa Claus, for example. There could, on some other planet in some other galaxy in some other corner of the universe exist a being exactly like the Santa Claus as he is commonly imagined here. But we'll never know, and, therefore, in the absence of evidence, it is not rational for anyone to believe such a being exists.

Pretty much anything imaginable is possible, but pretty much all of it is not believed in rationally.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby a_shrub » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:59 am UTC

Fora wrote:Post review
At least one new post has been made to this topic. You may wish to review your post in light of this.
Thanks fora, I would.

Just wanted to apologize if it seemed like I was putting any unfair words into people's mouths. I've been trying to figure out exactly what people mean by their various statements so far. I'm definitely open to correction on them, if you'd like to clarify what you're saying.
For being "flat out wrong": I just was thinking of reasons why I might/do reject knowing god or knowing about god, or knowing he doesn't exist etc., and that's what came to mind. I thought I'd put it out there. My experience is hardly universal, so I'd like to know more about how god or god's absence fits into people's lives. Since this thread probably isn't the right place for personal stories per se, if you have a personally significant story that lead you to your current statement on god's existence/lack of/etc. I'd like to hear it if you're willing to share. Send me a PM or something. Or tell me to quit being so nosy ;) (Inquisitive sound so much nicer)

Er, if you can forgive me for my prior ignorance, here's that logic that I was thinking of earlier, assuming god's existence and two characteristics:
1) Since god is all-good, he has the will to defeat evil
2) since god is all powerful, he has the power to defeat evil
3) evil is not yet defeated
4) therefore, evil will one day be defeated

I know logic'ing doesn't make it so, but it's interesting when you throw time into the mix.
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a) ... it's just a bad day
b) ... but if I did, it would connect words.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby TheNgaiGuy » Fri Aug 13, 2010 7:08 am UTC

a_shrub wrote: so I'd like to know more about how god or god's absence fits into people's lives.

Considering how people project their own beliefs and views on what god thinks (giving them a nice way to not justify their own beliefs). I, for one, living under the assumption that a god doesn't exist, force myself to justify all my beliefs and views and to correct my beliefs and views when it's wrong rather than copping out at saying that's what god wants/hates.

a_shrub wrote:Er, if you can forgive me for my prior ignorance, here's that logic that I was thinking of earlier, assuming god's existence and two characteristics:
1) Since god is all-good, he has the will to defeat evil
2) since god is all powerful, he has the power to defeat evil
3) evil is not yet defeated
4) therefore, evil will one day be defeated

Seems like a non sequitur. if he has the will to defeat evil and the power to defeat evil you have to show that he would not defeat evil at this moment, but rather some time in the future, or else your argument makes no sense. IE why would a being that has the power and will to defeat evil wait to defeat evil.

That is to say, given your premise 1,2 the logical conclusion seems to be that evil does not exists. But that contradicts premise 3. That means god is either not all good/all powerful

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Aug 13, 2010 11:12 am UTC

Cloud Walker wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Can we really call something "possible" which is always irrational for anyone to believe?


Well yeah. Santa Claus, for example. There could, on some other planet in some other galaxy in some other corner of the universe exist a being exactly like the Santa Claus as he is commonly imagined here. But we'll never know, and, therefore, in the absence of evidence, it is not rational for anyone to believe such a being exists.

Pretty much anything imaginable is possible, but pretty much all of it is not believed in rationally.

When I say "always irrational for anyone", I mean to include things like hypothetical aliens in a distant corner of the universe where something exactly like Santa Claus can be seeing flying around delivering presents every Christmas. I would say that, since it would be rational for those people to believe in Santa Claus, it is not always irrational for anyone to believe in Santa Claus. At most I would say it is presently irrational for the vast majority of adults on Earth to believe in Santa Claus; but, even ignoring children or extremely sheltered or retarded adults, it might some day (or in some possible world) be rational for most normal adults to believe in Santa Claus; say, if we were to come across incontrovertible evidence of his existence. So I'm not making the "universalized claim" I'm speaking of here, in regards to Santa Claus.

But if you missed it, a large chunk of my posts in this thread have been along the lines of "no matter what evidence you might ever see, it is never rational to pronounce any phenomenon [a miracle, supernatural, God, whatever]". It might some day be that certain phenomena which it is not currently rational for us to consider extant or even possible might become rational for us to believe in (e.g. a super-powerful super-nice intelligent being in some way created the world and mankind and later created a superhuman son who did fancy tricks like turn water into wine and return from the dead), but it will never be rational to consider such phenomena miracles, supernatural, etc (e.g. said being is "just" a really powerful friendly alien, and his and his son's superpowers are "just" sufficiently advanced technology). To that extent, it seems justified to say that miracles and supernatural things are "impossible", because nothing that could ever occur would be rightly categorized as such.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Aug 13, 2010 1:06 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Can we really call something "possible" which is always irrational for anyone to believe?
Of course we can. For any X with sufficiently low probability, it might always be irrational to believe X. But that doesn't come anywhere close to meaning X is impossible.

Suppose I bought a lottery ticket and then lost it before learning the winning numbers, never to be found again. I think it would be quite irrational to believe I had won, and to lament the loss of millions of dollars, even though this is of course entirely possible.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby wackojacko1138 » Fri Aug 13, 2010 4:27 pm UTC

It is always irrational for someone to believe that their lottery ticket will be the winning one.
It is also always possible for that lottery ticket to be the winning one.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Cloud Walker » Fri Aug 13, 2010 6:49 pm UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:
Cloud Walker wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:Can we really call something "possible" which is always irrational for anyone to believe?


Well yeah. Santa Claus, for example. There could, on some other planet in some other galaxy in some other corner of the universe exist a being exactly like the Santa Claus as he is commonly imagined here. But we'll never know, and, therefore, in the absence of evidence, it is not rational for anyone to believe such a being exists.

Pretty much anything imaginable is possible, but pretty much all of it is not believed in rationally.

When I say "always irrational for anyone", I mean to include things like hypothetical aliens in a distant corner of the universe where something exactly like Santa Claus can be seeing flying around delivering presents every Christmas. I would say that, since it would be rational for those people to believe in Santa Claus, it is not always irrational for anyone to believe in Santa Claus. At most I would say it is presently irrational for the vast majority of adults on Earth to believe in Santa Claus; but, even ignoring children or extremely sheltered or retarded adults, it might some day (or in some possible world) be rational for most normal adults to believe in Santa Claus; say, if we were to come across incontrovertible evidence of his existence. So I'm not making the "universalized claim" I'm speaking of here, in regards to Santa Claus.


Possibility allows that Santa is witnessed by no aliens, and that we never find evidence of his existence.

Pfhorrest wrote:But if you missed it, a large chunk of my posts in this thread have been along the lines of "no matter what evidence you might ever see, it is never rational to pronounce any phenomenon [a miracle, supernatural, God, whatever]". It might some day be that certain phenomena which it is not currently rational for us to consider extant or even possible might become rational for us to believe in (e.g. a super-powerful super-nice intelligent being in some way created the world and mankind and later created a superhuman son who did fancy tricks like turn water into wine and return from the dead), but it will never be rational to consider such phenomena miracles, supernatural, etc (e.g. said being is "just" a really powerful friendly alien, and his and his son's superpowers are "just" sufficiently advanced technology). To that extent, it seems justified to say that miracles and supernatural things are "impossible", because nothing that could ever occur would be rightly categorized as such.


Nothing could ever occur that we will ever experience, could be called supernatural. But it is entirely possible for the supernatural to "exist." Wholly and completely distinct from the Universe and existence as we know it, surely, but possible. Or, at least, not logically contradictory.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby whl » Fri Aug 13, 2010 8:53 pm UTC

a_shrub wrote:so I'd like to know more about how god or god's absence fits into people's lives


For me, it's pretty simple - the lunatics are running the asylum.

I think it was Robert A. Heinlein who once wrote down his "rules for travelers" (might have been rules for time travelers - I can't remember offhand). One of the rules was something to effect of, "always profess a belief in the local gods". Excellent advice, because throughout the history of humanity, being regarded as a heretic or infidel could get you killed.

In Islam they are still sentencing people to be stoned to death. Well, first lashes with the whip, then stoned to death. Though, if you are lucky, after the inquisition tortures a confession out of you, you might get your sentence changed to hanging by the neck until dead.

You can't make this stuff up...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100812/ap_ ... an_stoning

"Under Islamic rulings, a man is usually buried up to his waist, while a woman is buried up to her chest with her hands also buried. Those carrying out the verdict then throw stones until the condemned dies. "


Basically, I look around me and I see that the vast majority of the world is mentally ill - and it really sucks. I would say that it makes me nervous, but the truth is I'm a big mean bastard and not much makes me nervous - even homicidal religious kooks. Still, you never know when these assholes will go over the edge and start killing people, so you have to watch them very carefully and whenever they are around, you have to be prepared to react to violence.

That's how "God" fits into my life...it's a belief system that makes people dangerously insane, and I'm trapped out in the middle of nowhere on SpaceShip Earth with these sick fucks - and THEY are the majority. D'oh!
Last edited by whl on Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:10 pm UTC, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:49 am UTC

whl wrote:In the Nation of Islam they are still sentencing people to be stoned to death.
Um, what?

a_shrub wrote:so I'd like to know more about how god or god's absence fits into people's lives
Sure, but first I'd like to get an idea of what kind of answer you're looking for. So could you write a post about how the absence of Enki fits into your life?
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby whl » Sat Aug 14, 2010 7:08 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
whl wrote:In the Nation of Islam they are still sentencing people to be stoned to death.
Um, what?


Yea, you're right. I transposed "Islam" and "Nation of Islam" in my mind. Corrected.

Thanks. It's difficult to proofread my own writing. I just now caught a missing word and fixed that as well.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby a_shrub » Sat Aug 14, 2010 9:55 pm UTC

TheNgaiGuy wrote:I, for one, living under the assumption that a god doesn't exist, force myself to justify all my beliefs and views and to correct my beliefs and views when it's wrong rather than copping out at saying that's what god wants/hates.
Living under the assumption that god does exist, I'll refer you back to Proverbs 2:1-5. I like to try and justify my beliefs without copping out and calling people f'n idiots. I do occasionally, but I chalk that up to PMS ;) *cough*

TheNgaiGuy wrote:Seems like a non sequitur. if he has the will to defeat evil and the power to defeat evil you have to show that he would not defeat evil at this moment, but rather some time in the future, or else your argument makes no sense. IE why would a being that has the power and will to defeat evil wait to defeat evil.
In the internally consistent god who is outside of time, evil is "already" defeated. But from our perspective, it doesn't look that way. If evil was defeated "right now" we wouldn't have a choice. So god waits to allow us free will to choose. Again, what we experience of god in time is like the derivative of the function of god: how he appears to change with respect to time.

whl wrote:That's how "God" fits into my life...it's a belief system that makes people dangerously insane, and I'm trapped out in the middle of nowhere on SpaceShip Earth with these sick fucks - and THEY are the majority. D'oh!
The does sound particularly unpleasant. I wonder though, if you'd consider all the good things attributed to God: mother Teresa, numerous charities, etc.. Have a quick Google search and see how many people are busy selflessly investing in other people's well being in the name of god. Too bad they don't make the headlines more often :(

gmalivuk wrote:Sure, but first I'd like to get an idea of what kind of answer you're looking for. So could you write a post about how the absence of Enki fits into your life?
I'm looking for honest answers. So sure, I can tell you how the absence of Enki fits into my life.
Previously I had not heard of Enki. No one has described what this phenomenon should look like or be to me before. Depending on a number of things, I might be convinced to investigate Enki if someone said there was a way. Things that might persuade me: reputation of the person talking about Enki and Enki's influence on their life. Influence of Enki phenomenon on society. Could I independently verify other people speaking of Enki? If there is no way for me personally to experience Enki or the results of Enki's existence, I might say it's not worth investigating. If there was an Enki wiki page, I'd read it if directed towards it. Etc.
Spoiler:
I don't think I'd say Enki is just what gmalivuk calls his shlong: therefore Enki doesn't exist. That might be funny for a minute, but maybe insulting/ignorent if it was what I really thought of gmalivuk and gmalivuk's body part - which, y'know. /You/ only know Enki exists because you've sucked it off... whatever, enough o' that, y'know? :P Hopefully you have a sense of humour, gmalivuk. If not, feel free to delete this and I'll never speak of it again... or I'll just replace your name with someone else cause it might be pretty funny.
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a) ... it's just a bad day
b) ... but if I did, it would connect words.
c) ... what are they doing right outside my window with the mail server?
d) ... all of the above
e) ... none of the waffles.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Pfhorrest » Sun Aug 15, 2010 12:37 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:I like to try and justify my beliefs without copping out and calling people f'n idiots. I do occasionally, but I chalk that up to PMS ;) *cough*


Ahh, now it all makes sense... your savannah ancestry is what inclines you to believe in God, leaving you secretly wanting an all-powerful patriarchal figure to dominate every aspect of your life... ;)

(OH NO I CROSSED THE STREAMS)

[edit: capitalization]
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby HighSpeedFallingObjects » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:04 am UTC

Holy crap, people are still posting on this thread? I don't think I've ever seen a 15 page thread on here before. Although considering the subject matter, I shouldn't be surprised. It's just that the majority of posters usually seem to lose interest within 6 to 12 hours of the original post.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby TheNgaiGuy » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:12 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:
TheNgaiGuy wrote:I, for one, living under the assumption that a god doesn't exist, force myself to justify all my beliefs and views and to correct my beliefs and views when it's wrong rather than copping out at saying that's what god wants/hates.
Living under the assumption that god does exist, I'll refer you back to Proverbs 2:1-5. I like to try and justify my beliefs without copping out and calling people f'n idiots. I do occasionally, but I chalk that up to PMS ;) *cough*

Quoting bible verses does nothing to me... i don't get your point... you're living under the assumption that the christian god does exist without evidence to justify it...

a_shrub wrote:
TheNgaiGuy wrote:Seems like a non sequitur. if he has the will to defeat evil and the power to defeat evil you have to show that he would not defeat evil at this moment, but rather some time in the future, or else your argument makes no sense. IE why would a being that has the power and will to defeat evil wait to defeat evil.
In the internally consistent god who is outside of time, evil is "already" defeated. But from our perspective, it doesn't look that way. If evil was defeated "right now" we wouldn't have a choice. So god waits to allow us free will to choose. Again, what we experience of god in time is like the derivative of the function of god: how he appears to change with respect to time.

... the fact that evil exists there has to be a period of time say from x to y such that evil exist. if god didn't want evil you have to show why evil would exists between the time period from x to y
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby StNowhere » Sun Aug 15, 2010 1:39 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:In the internally consistent god who is outside of time, evil is "already" defeated. But from our perspective, it doesn't look that way. If evil was defeated "right now" we wouldn't have a choice. So god waits to allow us free will to choose. Again, what we experience of god in time is like the derivative of the function of god: how he appears to change with respect to time.


This does seem incredibly convenient: Assuming god exists and does so outside of our perception of time, the belief is that he created us, and created us as the creatures locked in a specific perception of time that he must have known about when he created us. Thus, either of two things seems possible to me: either, in his infinite benevolence, he allowed evil to exist at any time (for the moment, leave aside the possibility that he actually created evil) and thus allowed it to influence us, causing evil acts which will damn us to eternal punishment (for crimes he could easily have prevented us from committing). Or, perhaps, evil never really existed, and he allowed his messengers, through works asserted to have direct influence from him, to threaten us with eternal damnation for evil acts we were never really able to perform? I may well be wrong, but judging us on a different set of rules is not my idea of benevolence.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby gmalivuk » Sun Aug 15, 2010 2:29 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:If there is no way for me personally to experience Enki or the results of Enki's existence, I might say it's not worth investigating.
Kind of like how there's no way for *me* to experience this "god" you speak of or the results of its existence?

If there was an Enki wiki page, I'd read it if directed towards it. Etc.
Um, you know Wikipedia has a search function, right? The fact that you didn't even bother using it is fairly informative, though. It shows that the gods you don't believe in fit into your life exactly the same way as the gods I don't believe in fit into mine. Which is to say, they are completely irrelevant to it.

The only difference is that I am an atheist about one more god than you.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby whl » Mon Aug 16, 2010 12:37 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:
whl wrote:That's how "God" fits into my life...it's a belief system that makes people dangerously insane, and I'm trapped out in the middle of nowhere on SpaceShip Earth with these sick fucks - and THEY are the majority. D'oh!
The does sound particularly unpleasant. I wonder though, if you'd consider all the good things attributed to God: mother Teresa, numerous charities, etc.. Have a quick Google search and see how many people are busy selflessly investing in other people's well being in the name of god. Too bad they don't make the headlines more often :(


Yes, it is unpleasant.

I have certainly considered such "good works". They are never "attributed to God" (if it were God doing it, it would be a miracle) - these good works are always attributed to people. These people say that they are doing "God's work" or, as you just said, "in the name of god". But God hasn't said that they are doing His work - those people have made that claim.

It is unfortunate that a large percentage of these good works are directly related to religious recruiting. "Hearts and Minds" tactics.

I would much prefer that they drop the religious associations and do these good works simply because they are ethical and altruistic. But they won't because it feeds their egos to associate themselves with a powerful being. I see it as sycophantic behavior.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby a_shrub » Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:35 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:Ahh, now it all makes sense... your savannah ancestry is what inclines you to believe in God, leaving you secretly wanting an all-powerful patriarchal figure to dominate every aspect of your life... ;)

Spoiler:
Oh Pfhorrest, yer so eloquent! Will you dominate me? ;) (OH NOES I X'D TEH CREEK)


TheNgaiGuy wrote:Quoting bible verses does nothing to me... i don't get your point... you're living under the assumption that the christian god does exist without evidence to justify it...
Who says I haven't got evidence? I'm just trying to figure out what counts as evidence around here. Certainly doesn't seem like "I've experienced God" is gonna cut it without explaining first that by "God" I don't mean santa clause, the easter bunny, or anything else someone else's parents might have made up for their kids (cause honest, I didn't ever get anything from santa and thought the other kids were nuts). So I'm working up to it: how I've understand the phenomena and why I think "God" is an appropriate label. You seem to like logic, so I've been doing some logical exercises.
Let me go through the proverb though, so hopefully you'll see it.
Tune your ears to the world of Wisdom;
Meaning: listen to accumulated knowledge or erudition or enlightenment.
set your heart on a life of Understanding.
Meaning: Set your heart on a psychological process related to a phenomena whereby you are able to think about it and use concepts to deal adequately with it. (Go Google define and awkward integration)
make Insight your priority
That means make a clear/deep perception of a situation a priority (rather than just accepting what's been said without investigation).
and won't take no for an answer
Don't give up on doing these things!
Searching for it like a prospector panning for gold,
like an adventurer on a treasure hunt
Be excited about this stuff, because it's rewarding.

I don't think I'll quote the last bit, since I'll prolly just get flamed for it.

TheNgaiGuy wrote:the fact that evil exists there has to be a period of time say from x to y such that evil exist. if god didn't want evil you have to show why evil would exists between the time period from x to y
Well, first define for me what you think evil is.

StNowhere wrote:Or, perhaps, evil never really existed, and he allowed his messengers, through works asserted to have direct influence from him, to threaten us with eternal damnation for evil acts we were never really able to perform? I may well be wrong, but judging us on a different set of rules is not my idea of benevolence.
I guess it depends on what you think eternal damnation could be. I had difficulty with this myself at one point, until someone mentioned that in addition to his other infinite attributes, god is infinitely just: this would mean that when you stood before him you'd know, even if you'd want to disagree, that he's judging you justly. Literal lakes of fire aside as imagery, hell (from what I understand) is an absence of god's personal presence (and whatever that would entail - since it is said God is Love, it could be the absence of love). It would make sense that a person who rejects god (love, justice, knowledge, selflessness, etc) all their life would get just that (an absence of those things) in the end. Free will and all that.
Natch I don't understand all this perfectly, so don't take what I say as the absolute gospel truth. But I do kinda think it's good news that even if I screw up in pursuit of some of these things, my existence isn't completely worthless. Sometimes I struggle with that still, though.

gmalivuk wrote:Kind of like how there's no way for *me* to experience this "god" you speak of or the results of its existence?
Well, I didn't say that. In fact I think there is a way, but I've found a lot of people don't like to take my word for it until I've shown them I've actually thought it through.
Forgive me ahead of time if I seem a little sarcastic here.
gmalivuk wrote:Um, you know Wikipedia has a search function, right?
Really? Usually I just look up the regex characters on wiki whenever I'm feeling lazy because darnit randy took that cheat skirt out of the store before I could afford to buy it! Are you out there Randall -- do you have any left? I want one! I have money now! *cry* Do you mean to say I could put "Enki" in the same little box as I usually put "regex" in? Who would have guessed!
gmalivuk wrote:The fact that you didn't even bother using it is fairly informative, though.
I didn't? GOOMHG! I guess I'll assume your ignorance if you assume mine.
gmalivuk wrote:It shows that the gods you don't believe in fit into your life exactly the same way as the gods I don't believe in fit into mine. Which is to say, they are completely irrelevant to it.
Erm - so you wouldn't even read the wiki page on them?

whl wrote:I would much prefer that they drop the religious associations and do these good works simply because they are ethical and altruistic. But they won't because it feeds their egos to associate themselves with a powerful being. I see it as sycophantic behavior.
I dunno. I find the opposite can be true of people who do it for themselves, so to speak. Sycophantic behaviour towards themselves... they start to think they can judge everyone else by their personal standard. Is there an ultimate ethic we can find?
1. Honest, I don't live under a bridge;
a) ... it's just a bad day
b) ... but if I did, it would connect words.
c) ... what are they doing right outside my window with the mail server?
d) ... all of the above
e) ... none of the waffles.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby GBart » Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:39 am UTC

Yeah, I'm an agnostic, so that makes me neither A nor ~A

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby TheNgaiGuy » Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:45 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:
TheNgaiGuy wrote:Quoting bible verses does nothing to me... i don't get your point... you're living under the assumption that the christian god does exist without evidence to justify it...
Who says I haven't got evidence? I'm just trying to figure out what counts as evidence around here. Certainly doesn't seem like "I've experienced God" is gonna cut it without explaining first that by "God" I don't mean santa clause, the easter bunny, or anything else someone else's parents might have made up for their kids (cause honest, I didn't ever get anything from santa and thought the other kids were nuts). So I'm working up to it: how I've understand the phenomena and why I think "God" is an appropriate label. You seem to like logic, so I've been doing some logical exercises.
Let me go through the proverb though, so hopefully you'll see it.

... if you have evidence... then show it on the caviet that it can't be at least as reasonably explained without a god ever being there... and not some convoluted "an advanced alien society discovered x and gave that insight to the people in the bronze age so they could lie about a jesus character being the son of a god that is outside of the universe"...

a_shrub wrote:
TheNgaiGuy wrote:the fact that evil exists there has to be a period of time say from x to y such that evil exist. if god didn't want evil you have to show why evil would exists between the time period from x to y
Well, first define for me what you think evil is.

... you and I both agree evil exists at this time period... even if we have a different definition on what evil is it's existence has to be explained... having me define evil is a red herring and unimportant to the main point. Further, why do i have to define evil... you used it also and claiming evil exists and was defeated so why don't you define it and explain why that set of evil exists from x to y.

So... lets say I'm just using your definition of evil...

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby gmalivuk » Mon Aug 16, 2010 2:13 pm UTC

a_shrub wrote:I've found a lot of people don't like to take my word for it
Does that surprise you? Are you just taking my word for it when I claim "belief in god is irrational"? Then why should anyone just take your word for any of the claims you're making?

gmalivuk wrote:The fact that you didn't even bother using it is fairly informative, though.
I didn't? GOOMHG! I guess I'll assume your ignorance if you assume mine.
I didn't assume anything. I *concluded* your ignorance, because you said, "If there was an Enki wiki page ...", suggesting that you didn't know there is in fact such a page.

gmalivuk wrote:It shows that the gods you don't believe in fit into your life exactly the same way as the gods I don't believe in fit into mine. Which is to say, they are completely irrelevant to it.
Erm - so you wouldn't even read the wiki page on them?
Reading a Wikipedia page about a fictional character does not mean that fictional character fits into my life in any way even remotely like what I took you to mean with the idea of god fitting into your life. And anyway, I strongly doubt you've read *all* those Wikipedia pages on the different gods. So if you've skipped some, why? Why don't you even think they're worth investigating or at least *discussing*? (After all, I'm doing you the honor of discussing your god, rather than completely dismissing it out of hand and leaving the conversation. Why can't you show the same respect for people who believe(d) in those other gods?)
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby a_shrub » Tue Aug 17, 2010 3:22 am UTC

TheNgaiGuy wrote:... if you have evidence... then show it
I would point to the entirety of creation as evidence of a creator, but the fact is not interpreted as evidence by all. I don't think I like the idea of sharing my personal experience with God with just anyone who wants to ridicule it without trying to understand it.
TheNgaiGuy wrote:on the caviet that it can't be at least as reasonably explained without a god ever being there...
I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to say, but if you're saying that I must state that whatever I've experienced that I count as evidence, it's fact may be reasonably explained otherwise... possibly so, but when one stops equivocating the "why" and arrives at "no reason" I find that to be... no reason at all.
TheNgaiGuy wrote:and not some convoluted "an advanced alien society discovered x and gave that insight to the people in the bronze age so they could lie about a jesus character being the son of a god that is outside of the universe"...
But it is rather convoluted. Not that I'm saying it's aliens - but it's no quick fix or magical trick. It's so ridiculously convoluted that I lose sight of it at times, if you can imagine. But at the same time it can be very simple. It's... difficult to express.

TheNgaiGuy wrote:... you and I both agree evil exists at this time period... even if we have a different definition on what evil is it's existence has to be explained... having me define evil is a red herring and unimportant to the main point. Further, why do i have to define evil... you used it also and claiming evil exists and was defeated so why don't you define it and explain why that set of evil exists from x to y.
So... lets say I'm just using your definition of evil...
Alright, I think I said somewhere that evil is not a thing in itself so much as it is a lack of good (privation of good) in something. This is not to say that evil is non-existent, just that it's not a something that would exist unless something else was there for it to describe. As the example goes, blindness is a real privation of sight. To define what is really evil, then, is a really tough thing to do since you have to say what isn't good. This requires a lot of work.
L.B.Smedes wrote:You need standards to test whether the results are really good
Standards for comparing the the value of different results, for telling which are good, better, or best, or maybe which are bad and which are worse
Standards for determining who should receive the good when there is not enough for everyone
Standards to determine when we should go for instant good and when we should choose postponed good

I don't have a perfect understanding of all the standards, but it seems to me someone with perfect reasoning would. I might not be able to explain exactly what good can come from a specific lack of good in some things from time x to time y, that is, why instant good shouldn't be chosen right now over postponed good, but I do know that instant gratification sometimes leads to worse things than slow suffering. Seems god has a thing for giving us time. On the other hand, of course: sometimes if you don't act, you miss out.

gmalivuk wrote:Does that surprise you? Are you just taking my word for it when I claim "belief in god is irrational"? Then why should anyone just take your word for any of the claims you're making?
I'm not too surprised, being fairly skeptical myself. I suppose I'm hoping they'll think about why they might take my word for it or not, just like I hope they'll think about why they're taking anyone else's word for anything else that they've not personally experienced (big-ass collider science notwithstanding due to sheer awesomeness ;)).
gmalivuk wrote:I didn't assume anything. I *concluded* your ignorance, because you said, "If there was an Enki wiki page ...", suggesting that you didn't know there is in fact such a page.
I suppose I could have been a little more clear and said "if there is a Enki wiki page" instead of assuming there wasn't. But I'm glad you picked up on that, because it wasn't entirely unintentional. I hoped that would be more clear when I immediately went on to pretend to insult your person instead of actually looking up Enki. A lot of people have been saying "if there was any evidence for god/miracles/supernatural" as if they'd exhausted all the options or didn't know how to search for them. If you think it's appalling that I possibly don't know how to use the wiki search function, mightn't I also think it's appalling that people don't know how to use the god search function, so to speak?
Spoiler:
Presently, if you must know, 27/43 browser tabs open in my 3 Firefox windows are wiki pages. This is offset by a healthy doses of real printed literature - since the combined knowledge of the interwebs is sometimes appallingly nonacademic: this is demonstrated by one of those windows being bash - and by that I don't mean the Bourne-again shell ;) If you can sift thru the masses of ignorant idiocy, there are some gems. If one were simply above it, one might miss out. I'd better not get stuck in a infinite recursion now :P

gmalivuk wrote:So if you've skipped some, why? Why don't you even think they're worth investigating or at least *discussing*
Since my above seeming dismissal of Enki was a bit of an unfair ruse, I'll just ask you to reconsider this on the grounds that I've asked other people for their personal experiences relating to god-claims (thanks TheNgaiGuy, that's a fun new term). I don't know that I have the time to consider every god-claim out there, but if someone thinks theirs is worth sharing, I'm open to hearing about it and potentially discussing it.
gmalivuk wrote:(After all, I'm doing you the honor of discussing your god, rather than completely dismissing it out of hand and leaving the conversation. Why can't you show the same respect for people who believe(d) in those other gods?)
And I am honored. gmalivuk - you make me think in ways I didn't think possible (tho the wiki search wasn't one of them ;)) and sometimes I hate you for it :P. Honest apologies if I seem frustrated at times with trying to understand what you're saying.
(Edit: spell check foibles)
1. Honest, I don't live under a bridge;
a) ... it's just a bad day
b) ... but if I did, it would connect words.
c) ... what are they doing right outside my window with the mail server?
d) ... all of the above
e) ... none of the waffles.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby TheNgaiGuy » Tue Aug 17, 2010 4:47 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:
TheNgaiGuy wrote:... if you have evidence... then show it
I would point to the entirety of creation as evidence of a creator, but the fact is not interpreted as evidence by all. I don't think I like the idea of sharing my personal experience with God with just anyone who wants to ridicule it without trying to understand it.
TheNgaiGuy wrote:on the caviet that it can't be at least as reasonably explained without a god ever being there...
I'm not exactly sure what you're trying to say, but if you're saying that I must state that whatever I've experienced that I count as evidence, it's fact may be reasonably explained otherwise... possibly so, but when one stops equivocating the "why" and arrives at "no reason" I find that to be... no reason at all.
TheNgaiGuy wrote:and not some convoluted "an advanced alien society discovered x and gave that insight to the people in the bronze age so they could lie about a jesus character being the son of a god that is outside of the universe"...
But it is rather convoluted. Not that I'm saying it's aliens - but it's no quick fix or magical trick. It's so ridiculously convoluted that I lose sight of it at times, if you can imagine. But at the same time it can be very simple. It's... difficult to express.

TheNgaiGuy wrote:... you and I both agree evil exists at this time period... even if we have a different definition on what evil is it's existence has to be explained... having me define evil is a red herring and unimportant to the main point. Further, why do i have to define evil... you used it also and claiming evil exists and was defeated so why don't you define it and explain why that set of evil exists from x to y.
So... lets say I'm just using your definition of evil...
Alright, I think I said somewhere that evil is not a thing in itself so much as it is a lack of good (privation of good) in something. This is not to say that evil is non-existent, just that it's not a something that would exist unless something else was there for it to describe. As the example goes, blindness is a real privation of sight. To define what is really evil, then, is a really tough thing to do since you have to say what isn't good. This requires a lot of work.


I almost feel like this is a waste of time because you say there is evidence... but then provide evidence that can easily and concisely be explained without a god. What I'm asking for evidence that can't be explained concisely without a god being there. A good example for this would be if praying to the christian god had statistically significant results in compared to say random chance or no god, but it doesn't so... the question is "why?" (rhetorical since the answer there is no christian god is the most concise)

Edit: another example would be if e=mc^2 was in the bible... such evidence could not be concisely explained without a god being there, but you don't agree.

And no... creation is not good evidence for god cause it's an argument from ignorance to the question "why does the universe exists instead of not existing?". If I were to accept that answer I would just ask "why does god exists instead of not existing?"

so as far as I can tell god is an unneeded assumption and the best we give to the answer "why do we exist?" is "I don't know".

Edit: one argument I hear all the time is... "if god doesn't exist what is the meaning of life?"... I like the counter "if god does exist what is the meaning of his/her life?"

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Aug 17, 2010 7:31 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:Alright, I think I said somewhere that evil is not a thing in itself so much as it is a lack of good (privation of good) in something. This is not to say that evil is non-existent, just that it's not a something that would exist unless something else was there for it to describe. As the example goes, blindness is a real privation of sight. To define what is really evil, then, is a really tough thing to do since you have to say what isn't good. This requires a lot of work.


This doesn't change the point he was making though. The point is, we take as a premise that God prefers good to evil: if evil is just the absence of goodness, then that just means God prefers the presence of goodness to the absence of goodness. No problem so far.

The question then, assuming the existence of God, is "why is there any evil, rather than no evil as God would prefer?"; which is to say, given the above definition of evil, "why is goodness sometimes absent, rather than always present as God would prefer?" If we were just talking about an ordinary person we might excuse it by saying "he can't do anything about it" or "he didn't know about it", but we take as a premise that God is all-powerful and all-knowing, so he should know that evil exists (that goodness is sometimes absent) and be able to do something about it if he wanted to, which we're assuming he does. So the question still stands, demanding some other answer to resolve the conflict.

Your proposed solution is that God exists outside of time and sees that things turn out well in the end, so the evil that exists now (the goodness that is absent now) is excusable. But the rebuttal to that is, if God is outside time, shouldn't all times matter equally to him; and thus, wouldn't God prefer that things be maximally good all along? If so, then why isn't everything perfectly good right now? Why hasn't it always been? The only possible conclusions are that either God doesn't care that things aren't all good right now; that he doesn't know that there's any lack of goodness that he needs to address; or there's some reason why he can't make things perfectly good right now.

(Usual solutions to this problem address the last part, by trying to show that there's some logical reason why making everything good right now would somehow actually make things worse, such as by destroying free will, and then excusing God for not being able to do something logically impossible, without that making him any less powerful. Compatibilists like myself are obviously unpersuaded by these kinds of free will arguments, but even incompatibilists have their own counter-arguments too).
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Noodles » Tue Aug 17, 2010 11:22 am UTC

'Je n'avais pas besoin de cette hypothèse-là.' ("I had no need of that hypothesis.") -Laplace, on being asked why he had left out any mention of God in his book on astronomy.

Regardless of whether your particular god resides outside of space or time (oh how convenient for you), you still believe that he directs and/or intervenes in every day life. And even if you regard yourself as a deist, and believe that a deity created the world and then buggered off for a quick smoke, it still stands that your deity of choice has in fact had an effect on this universe.

Therefore it should be testable.

And yet, everytime anything on this planet is studied, whether it be large or small, important or unimportant, we find no evidence of any gods.

Lose the wishing, lose the emotional baggage it comes with, and accept the world for what it is. A remarkable piece of nature.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Taure » Tue Aug 17, 2010 12:08 pm UTC

The way I see it, there are three main reasons to be an atheist:

1. Science has not"proved that God does not exist, certainly. (Science proves nothing, remember. Proof only occurs in mathematics). However, what science has done is to evidence that many of the claims various religions make about the world are false. Of course this says nothing about the existence of some deity, but it does lead to doubt regarding these religions that claim to know said deity.

2. Science, by explaining things about the universe in purely natural terms, has "pushed back" the need for God. God used to be invoked to explain all manner of things. Now it is much less so. As science progresses more, the need for a God to explain things disappears. In such a case we might invoke either "inference to best explanation" or Occam's Razor, which is to say: given a choice between a simple and elegant explanation that possesses predictive power (science) or a complicated and mysterious one that leads to no new knowledge (God), there is no longer any reason to believe in God. God is no longer necessary, or beneficial.

Of course, one can believe in both science and God (though what type of God you can believe in will be constrained by scientific knowledge). But ask yourself this: what difference is there between a belief in science and God, and just science? None. God adds nothing to the equation. And as our friends the computer scientists say: A difference that makes no difference is no difference at all.

3. As many have said, it is not up to science to disprove God. If we were to believe in everything until we had a disproof of it we would hold beliefs in many ridiculous things. In fact, if God must be proven to not exist in some complete manner akin to mathematics for us to disbelieve in him, then as this has not taken place, you must not only believe in the Christian God but also all the other Gods as well, as well as an invisible purple dragon in your back garden, leprechauns, gnomes, fairies... in fact everything ever not actively disproven, you must believe.

Clearly this is not a tenable position, nor an accurate description of how we behave. No, our natural default position is to disbelieve, and only upon convincing evidence do we change our position, tentatively.

TL;DR: We must assume God does not exist until presented with systematic, systemic, and reliable evidence to the contrary. Further, even if we are to remain agnostic on the matter of God, the advances of science suggest that none of the religions available at the current time accurately describe this God.

Disclaimer: In this post I refer, for the purpose of brevity, to "science" as if it were a systematic belief system and not a method of investigation and body of knowledge. When you read "science", what I am actually saying is "the conclusions that the scientific method has led us to via peer-reviewed systematic empirical investigation that generates results with predictive power via abstraction to a mathematical model, and can be replicated by other parties and explains the nature of the world in a manner simpler than the world as is.". Roughly.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby HalfGearHeart » Tue Aug 17, 2010 9:29 pm UTC

There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Pfhorrest » Tue Aug 17, 2010 10:04 pm UTC

Taure wrote:as our friends the computer scientists say: A difference that makes no difference is no difference at all.


Actually that was William James, one of the founders (or at least, most prominent figures) of the school of philosophy called Pragmatism. That expression is one of many ways that the pragmatic theory of meaning has been formulated, the general gist of that theory being what your point seems to be: take some proposition. What would anybody possibly have reason to do differently if that proposition were true, versus if it were false? What difference could it possibly make to anyone if it were true vs false? Your answer to that captures the meaning of the proposition. If the answer is "nothing", then the proposition is meaningless.

I'm fond of one of Pierce's formulations myself: "Consider what practical effects you conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object."

So what practical effect would there be if God existed, that would not be if he did not exist? Now, do those effects occur? If so, then God (whatever you mean by that word, as evidenced by your answer to the first question) exists; otherwise, he does not. (Whether your meaning of "God" is correct or not is another question entirely; but bear in mind that if the effects of "God" as you conceive of him are the same as the effects of something else, then others are fully justifying in saying that what you call "God" just is that something else, and calling it "God" doesn't really change anything about it).

Also:
HalfGearHeart wrote:There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is His Prophet.

There is no God but we are all his prophets.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby a_shrub » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:21 am UTC

TheNgaiGuy wrote:I almost feel like this is a waste of time because you say there is evidence... but then provide evidence that can easily and concisely be explained without a god. What I'm asking for evidence that can't be explained concisely without a god being there. A good example for this would be if praying to the christian god had statistically significant results in compared to say random chance or no god, but it doesn't so... the question is "why?" (rhetorical since the answer there is no christian god is the most concise)
I'm not convinced that statistically significant "answers" to prayer is good evidence as you claim. This would mean that god would have to be like some sort of wish vending machine. What would even count as an answer to prayer? How would you measure this? If god is personal and wills good, would you count every prayer for something bad as an unanswered prayer, since god would not be inclined to grant a bad request? How do we know which requests were sincere and which were just there to tip the scale in favor of god or to discredit him? I would be very skeptical of a person who claims god answers a statistically significant number of prayers.
As for e=mc^2: if that were in the bible, I would also be very skeptical of the person giving me that bible. Tampering is always an option and mathematical formulas in science are never written in stone. They are subject to modification as new phenomena are discovered, so it could be overall an inadequate equation given new factors to discover.
Also, since we can only guess at how some things in ancient times went down, it's entirely possible that ancient science progressed to such a level and then almost all the knowledge was lost or destroyed, except a single formula. If you don't want to believe in god, you don't have to take anything as evidence - you can always come up with some other explanation, even "no reason."
I would naturally be skeptical of anyone claiming to have any encounter with god. So what evidence do I think I have that is so overwhelming? Again, I don't think I'd like to share it with just anyone who is not willing to try and understand it in light of god (because he so obviously doesn't exist no matter what I say).

TheNgaiGuy wrote:Edit: one argument I hear all the time is... "if god doesn't exist what is the meaning of life?"... I like the counter "if god does exist what is the meaning of his/her life?"
You'd have to ask god that ;)

Pfhorrest wrote:(Usual solutions to this problem address the last part, by trying to show that there's some logical reason why making everything good right now would somehow actually make things worse, such as by destroying free will, and then excusing God for not being able to do something logically impossible, without that making him any less powerful. Compatibilists like myself are obviously unpersuaded by these kinds of free will arguments, but even incompatibilists have their own counter-arguments too).
It's not impossible for god to destroy man's free will - he could, being all powerful, destroy all of time presently... or would that have happened in the past... er the future - since god is outside of time... I suppose at the very least I tend to think it's good he doesn't. Or didn't. Or... *squint* But at any rate, by his free will he chooses to sustain our existence, regardless of if we seek or reject him, this is good and this is our free will. God created everything good from beginning to end. In the middle God maximizes goodness (his presence) within his self-imposed constraints of allowing us to reject his presence (absence of good->presence of evil). Altogether, though this world may not presently be the best possible one (thank goodness), it is the best way (given time and free will, we are) to achieve the best world, and that is good.

Taure wrote:2. Science, by explaining things about the universe in purely natural terms, has "pushed back" the need for God.
Since science only necessarily explains how (when we ask "why" of something, usually we mean "how," unless it's a person). It is, in my estimation, not at all pushing back the need for God to explain why. It seems he created an ordered universe and sustains the laws of nature. Through science we know how he has chosen to constrain himself to work with nature - now we can ask why.
God used to be invoked to explain all manner of things.
As is "no reason" and "we don't know yet" when one gets down to the last "why" and "how" in science. Is "we don't know yet" such a wrong thing for religion to say if science is allowed to say it all the time? When god was invoked to have done things that man could not at the time, I don't see how it somehow makes him not responsible for it then even if we can do it ourselves now. In fact, in the case of curing some disease, it seems precisely because some human couldn't do it then that attributing it to God and not just some human was the wise course of action. It could have been the acts of God through nature, or through his personality, or both - either way, we can investigate it. We can ask "how" of nature and "why" of God.
Now it is much less so. As science progresses more, the need for a God to explain things disappears.
Only if you want accept "no reason." If you believe god created it all and he hope's you'll enjoy it, you may still say it's his handiwork without error and then enjoy investigate the living bejeebers out of it to see how he works. I'd be sad if I was investigating for no reason (literally, all the investigation would come down to "no reason").
In such a case we might invoke either "inference to best explanation" or Occam's Razor, which is to say: given a choice between a simple and elegant explanation that possesses predictive power (science)
I'd say god is the very soul of eloquence. People still speak of how things seem to be designed. Also, religion has made many predictions. It says things like "behave in X manner and receive Y consequence" see Proverbs 2:1-5. Granted people, including myself, have misunderstood and misunderstand religion. But at the core of my science/religion is "love god and love your neighbor as yourself" Mark 12:28-34. That is in part, be good to god and be good to one another (ambassadors of the the Ultimate Good, if you will). Natch I screw it up, at times - but that's where The Good News comes in.
or a complicated and mysterious one that leads to no new knowledge (God),
I think you've missed some of the formulas and explanations if you think science is uncomplicated and not at all mysterious. How does "no reason" lead to new knowledge, I wonder? And who says you have to turn your brain off when you get to god? There's a shit-tone of literature on god, and if he is truly personal, then it's like a relationship: you don't necessarily want it to be 100% predictable. I suppose you could want that, but then they're be no new knowledge because it'd all be predictable. Having in infinite supply of knowledge in God in fact would mean god is the ultimate way to new knowledge.
there is no longer any reason to believe in God. God is no longer necessary, or beneficial.
Only if you've accepted "no reason" as a good enough reason. Otherwise he's still very necessary (for having created everything) and very beneficial (for sustaining everything).
But ask yourself this: what difference is there between a belief in science and God, and just science? None.
Unfortunately this has not been my experience as a scientist. Belief in God has brought new life to my science and to me. That there is a personal loving being behind it all makes a lot of difference.

Pfhorrest wrote:I'm fond of one of Pierce's formulations myself: "Consider what practical effects you conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object."

So what practical effect would there be if God existed, that would not be if he did not exist? Now, do those effects occur? If so, then God (whatever you mean by that word, as evidenced by your answer to the first question) exists; otherwise, he does not.
This is a very interesting way to think about things. I suppose the key practical effects of God are freewill and personality. *think* Yeah. There might be more.

Anyways, if you want to ask why this post is ending, it's not because I've master conciseness, it's because the pizza is ready... Why is the pizza ready? Well, let me tell you...
Spoiler:
In the Beginning, God made pizza, and it was good!
1. Honest, I don't live under a bridge;
a) ... it's just a bad day
b) ... but if I did, it would connect words.
c) ... what are they doing right outside my window with the mail server?
d) ... all of the above
e) ... none of the waffles.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Aug 19, 2010 12:36 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:So what practical effect would there be if God existed, that would not be if he did not exist? Now, do those effects occur? If so, then God (whatever you mean by that word, as evidenced by your answer to the first question) exists; otherwise, he does not.
This is a very interesting way to think about things. I suppose the key practical effects of God are freewill and personality.
For free will, I'll grant you that it would exist if God did, and not if God didn't. But now you have to show that it does, in fact, exist.

For personality, I'll grant you that it exists. But now you have to show that it wouldn't exist if God didn't.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby TheNgaiGuy » Thu Aug 19, 2010 4:49 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:I'm not convinced that statistically significant "answers" to prayer is good evidence as you claim. This would mean that god would have to be like some sort of wish vending machine. What would even count as an answer to prayer? How would you measure this? If god is personal and wills good, would you count every prayer for something bad as an unanswered prayer, since god would not be inclined to grant a bad request? How do we know which requests were sincere and which were just there to tip the scale in favor of god or to discredit him? I would be very skeptical of a person who claims god answers a statistically significant number of prayers.

It's not evidence that supports the existence of god. Plus that sort of argument is stupid because if there is statistically significant evidence of god one would say that is good evidence for the christian god. But for some reason finding results that are consistent with no god being there is not good evidence against? Even if I grant that... it supports my claim that no such god exists.

a_shrub wrote:As for e=mc^2: if that were in the bible, I would also be very skeptical of the person giving me that bible. Tampering is always an option and mathematical formulas in science are never written in stone. They are subject to modification as new phenomena are discovered, so it could be overall an inadequate equation given new factors to discover.
Also, since we can only guess at how some things in ancient times went down, it's entirely possible that ancient science progressed to such a level and then almost all the knowledge was lost or destroyed, except a single formula. If you don't want to believe in god, you don't have to take anything as evidence - you can always come up with some other explanation, even "no reason."

For fuck sakes... the e=mc^2 argument was to say that if there was some advanced inspiration that can't be explained just by bronze age men writing it, it would be good evidence for. I mean how the fuck do you think the bible should look like if there was no god there. I would argue exactly the same. So either demonstrate that if there is no god it would look different, or explain why.

If that's too hard, explain why the bible is written by a god, but not any other holy book.

a_shrub wrote:I would naturally be skeptical of anyone claiming to have any encounter with god. So what evidence do I think I have that is so overwhelming? Again, I don't think I'd like to share it with just anyone who is not willing to try and understand it in light of god (because he so obviously doesn't exist no matter what I say).

Basically you're saying "my evidence is pretty weak and would only be accepted if you presuppose such a god exists". I mean how stupid would it be if I said this

"I would naturally be skeptical of anyone claiming to know that the earth is round. So what evidence do I think I have that is so overwhelming? Again I don't think I'd like to share it with just anyone who is not willing to try and understand that the world is round. (because the world is obviously flat no matter what I say)."

Existence is black and white. If you can't demonstrate it's existence to someone who is claiming bullshit on your claims. Especially, especially if it's the same standard of evidence we use to determine all other existence claims, then you can't blame me for being close minded. Blame your god for providing you with such suspect evidence for his existence that such existence can't be demonstrated to those skeptical of your claims.

I think Bertrand Russell said it best "What really moves people to believe in God is not any intellectual argument at all. Most people believe in God because they have been taught from early infancy to do it, and that is the main reason. "

a_shrub wrote:
TheNgaiGuy wrote:Edit: one argument I hear all the time is... "if god doesn't exist what is the meaning of life?"... I like the counter "if god does exist what is the meaning of his/her life?"
You'd have to ask god that ;)

Same as saying I don't know... but a more annoying cop-out. At least I don't know is intellectually honest.

Also, stop writing as if a god exists... you and I both know you can't know for a fact that god exists... it's a belief... with no (or at best,suspect amount of) evidence.

It is obvious that there is either no such meaning for our lives or god's life. Which implies meaning in life is not necessary. The question "what is the meaning of life" is meaningless.

So, here's the problem... everything we see is consistent with no god being there... from prayer, supposed personal revelation, creation (which was originally the thing that could only be explained with a god), bible, etc. So why would we believe in a god, much less your god, if not believing in god is at least as valid (and according to Occam's razor more valid).

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Aug 19, 2010 6:53 am UTC

a_shrub wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:(Usual solutions to this problem address the last part, by trying to show that there's some logical reason why making everything good right now would somehow actually make things worse, such as by destroying free will, and then excusing God for not being able to do something logically impossible, without that making him any less powerful. Compatibilists like myself are obviously unpersuaded by these kinds of free will arguments, but even incompatibilists have their own counter-arguments too).
It's not impossible for god to destroy man's free will - he could, being all powerful, destroy all of time presently... or would that have happened in the past... er the future - since god is outside of time... I suppose at the very least I tend to think it's good he doesn't. Or didn't. Or... *squint*

Nobody's talking about God being unable to destroy free will (or not), logically or otherwise; they're talking about there being no way for God to do any more good than he has already done, except by ways which would destroy free will, which they say would be a greater harm than any good thereby done. So it's not, they claim, possible for God to do any more good than he has; thus supposedly resolving the Problem of Evil.

But at any rate, by his free will he chooses to sustain our existence, regardless of if we seek or reject him, this is good and this is our free will. God created everything good from beginning to end. In the middle God maximizes goodness (his presence) within his self-imposed constraints of allowing us to reject his presence (absence of good->presence of evil). Altogether, though this world may not presently be the best possible one (thank goodness), it is the best way (given time and free will, we are) to achieve the best world, and that is good.

So you're saying that God is doing the best he can, given that it's logically impossible to do any more good without doing the even greater harm of destroying free will, but that he will eventually succeed. That's better than what you were saying before, which seemed like effectively "it ends good, and that's all that matters"; there's still the question of why it isn't always good, which is what we were asking. And you choose the free will defense in answer to that.

What I was saying before is that if your notion of free will does not involve randomness, like a compatibilist, then that's a non-answer. According to a compatibilist, if God existed he could have set it up so that the only people who existed in the first place were the people who would be so inclined to freely choose the good. So the existence of people choosing bad still shows that no all powerful, all knowing, all good God exists. And that's to say nothing about so-called "natural evils" not caused by malicious choices at all but just sheer facts of the world.

(I suppose someone who denies the existence of free will at all would also reject this defense, or at least first ask that it be shown that we do in fact have free will before they'll excuse God for not curing all the evils of the world. Though I guess that gets more into evidentialist arguments than logical ones; a hard determinist might buy the free will defense against the logical problem of evil, but still demand proof that we have free will to begin with, before that argument gains any traction with them as an excuse for why there is evil in the world).

Pfhorrest wrote:I'm fond of one of Pierce's formulations myself: "Consider what practical effects you conceive the objects of your conception to have. Then, your conception of those effects is the whole of your conception of the object."

So what practical effect would there be if God existed, that would not be if he did not exist? Now, do those effects occur? If so, then God (whatever you mean by that word, as evidenced by your answer to the first question) exists; otherwise, he does not.
This is a very interesting way to think about things. I suppose the key practical effects of God are freewill and personality. *think* Yeah. There might be more.

So you would say that "God exists" means the same thing as "people have free will and personality"?

Would you say, then, that it is not logically possible (not "maybe true", just, logically possible, conceivable as a hypothetical scenario) that humans have this metaphysical nature which you construe free will as, and "personality", whatever that is, but not because of some singular metaphysical divinity (God), but rather because of some minor metaphysical power of their own? In other words, that humans are like very, very weak gods themselves, inasmuch as they have this "free will and personality" which you equate with God; but they do not derive it all from some singular God, but from many separate sources?

If you can coherently imagine a scenario like that just as a make-believe thought experiment, without coming across any internal contradictions in it, then that shows that your concept of God involves something beyond "free will and personality".
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby webheads » Thu Aug 19, 2010 8:41 pm UTC

I've heard that Agnostics are just Atheists without testes -- afraid to completely quit clinging to their metaphysical father figures. But personally, I still consider myself a Progressive Agnostic: I don't know, but I'm trying to find out. :wink:

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Aug 19, 2010 10:56 pm UTC

I know a lot of atheists without testes. I'm not sure what being women has to do with anything, honestly.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby TheNgaiGuy » Fri Aug 20, 2010 1:38 am UTC

webheads wrote:I've heard that Agnostics are just Atheists without testes -- afraid to completely quit clinging to their metaphysical father figures. But personally, I still consider myself a Progressive Agnostic: I don't know, but I'm trying to find out. :wink:

But do you believe? If you answer yes then you're a theist, if you answer anything else you're an atheist.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby webheads » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:04 am UTC

TheNgaiGuy wrote:
webheads wrote:I've heard that Agnostics are just Atheists without testes -- afraid to completely quit clinging to their metaphysical father figures. But personally, I still consider myself a Progressive Agnostic: I don't know, but I'm trying to find out. :wink:

But do you believe? If you answer yes then you're a theist, if you answer anything else you're an atheist.

I believe it's up to us to be the holy force of wisdom and goodness in the world, so no. But whether I do believe in us, that tends to fluctuate with the headlines from my RSS feeds. ;)

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby webheads » Fri Aug 20, 2010 2:10 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:I know a lot of atheists without testes. I'm not sure what being women has to do with anything, honestly.

Absolutely. Neither courage nor cowardice is genitalia-dependent.

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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Arkeal » Fri Aug 20, 2010 6:46 am UTC

What happens if you believe in a monotheistic centrist God as well as polytheistic pantheons? I think I'm technically a polytheist, but if anybodies got a clearer description I'd love to know. Seriously, my own beliefs make my head hurt trying to reason them out.

*sigh* maybe reason got a restraining order on me.... again.
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Re: "Atheists" discussion (#774)

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Aug 20, 2010 7:45 am UTC

This thread's still going?
Looks like the discussion is firmly entrenched in debate between various people who are themselves firmly entrenched in their positions. Have fun!
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