Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

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Bharrata
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby Bharrata » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:52 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Bharrata wrote:Well I doubt there are arguments that support the existence of a God in context, but limiting the scope of the debate to the mainstream, popular understanding of rabid evangelicals v libertine atheists just seems sad to me, the conversation is much wider and deeper than that. Sure it may not be practically useful to quibble about the esoteric...but that's kind of what I think qubital has tried to point out...that it's practically useless. But if we're going to then the conversation shouldn't be limited to, for lack of a better term, the masses' understanding.
When someone says 'I'm an atheist', do you think they mean 'I don't believe in God, or Gods, as most people define them', or 'I don't believe in God, or Gods, even when those terms are redefined in ways you need a degree in Philosophy to understand'?

We don't have to limit the debate to rabid evangelicals versus libertine atheists, but let's (at least) limit it to reasonable, agreeable values for 'God'.


The former, I'm under no illusions about that and I generally don't get into long conversations about this with strangers, but this is the internet which is conducive to long form debate.

But I also don't think that something like Spinoza's theology should be disregarded because most people aren't familiar with it. (Panentheism)


Now, if you don't care because you've made your mind up that you're an atheist, that's not a problem to me, but as it stands I haven't made my mind up on the matter and I may never, so I enjoy talking and thinking about it.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby krogoth » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:54 am UTC

Bharrata wrote:They also argued, simplistically, that life (active) is better than non-life (passive). Since nothing is better than the universe in total, it must be living and if it is living it must be conscious and that consciousness is God.


So plants are conscious?
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby Bharrata » Tue Mar 27, 2012 6:56 am UTC

krogoth wrote:
Bharrata wrote:They also argued, simplistically, that life (active) is better than non-life (passive). Since nothing is better than the universe in total, it must be living and if it is living it must be conscious and that consciousness is God.


So plants are conscious?


They termed it as animal/non-animal, I should have been more specific.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:14 am UTC

Bharrata wrote:The former, I'm under no illusions about that and I generally don't get into long conversations about this with strangers, but this is the internet which is conducive to long form debate.

But I also don't think that something like Spinoza's theology should be disregarded because most people aren't familiar with it. (Panentheism)


Now, if you don't care because you've made your mind up that you're an atheist, that's not a problem to me, but as it stands I haven't made my mind up on the matter and I may never, so I enjoy talking and thinking about it.
It isn't relevant to the topic. The thread asks the question: "Is Atheism a rational stance?" -- The answer is, for most values of atheism, 'probably'. Discussing how various philosophical models of highly academic and specialized theism could also satisfy the requirements for a rational stance doesn't add or subtract anything from this conclusion.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:26 am UTC

qetzal wrote:
zmic wrote:Is atheism a rational stance? I guess it depends on what you do with your atheism.


No at all. If you hold that (1) beliefs should be based on adequate empirical evidence, and (2) there is inadequate empirical evidence for god(s),


Except that through the ages and in all cultures people have stood up to bear witness of god. Some of those testimonies are found back in scripture. I see no good reason to assume that ALL of those people where wrong or deluded. So theism is a rational stance.

then atheism is a rational stance. What you do with your atheism could be wildly irrational, but that wouldn't change the rationality of your atheism itself.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:41 am UTC

I see no good reason to assume that any of those people were correct. Your conclusion does not follow.
The Stoics divided material as either passive or active, human beings in the latter camp. This is parsed down quite a bit, but they (notably Chrysippus) argued that God/the cosmic intelligence was the active principle in the universe which acted upon passive, inert nature. When we observe how bodies interact we are observing the active principle directing that action.

Behaviour within the system is governed by the rules of the system. It is specious to claim the rules are active, fallacious to call the system itself conscious, and unnecessary to posit the existence of a rule-maker.
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby Copper Bezel » Tue Mar 27, 2012 8:26 am UTC

zmic wrote:Except that through the ages and in all cultures people have stood up to bear witness of god. Some of those testimonies are found back in scripture. I see no good reason to assume that ALL of those people where wrong or deluded. So theism is a rational stance.

They also saw daily evidence that the sun circled the Earth, but we don't take that interpretation at face value. That they experienced either of these things is not in question. Their accounts are valid. The truth claims of what those experiences represent (in the case of religious experience, either a supernatural reality or a subjective artifact of human experience) is what is in question. Their individual inferences are meaningless, because the data is not novel, and the interpretation is based on less a less nuanced understanding of the world than we have now.

qubital wrote:The decline of religion is not due to atheism but rather improvements in reasoning.

I just don't see people preaching atheism from the pulpit. Dawkins is emblematic of the "new" atheists, and he mostly argues for two things: skeptical thinking on the one hand, taking on everything from mainstream religion to dowsing, and the reality of biological evolution on the other, which is tangential at best to anything related to atheism. He identifies God as a particularly dangerous myth. That's really all there is to it. I'm reading Carl Sagan's The Demon Haunted World right now, which is an argument for skeptical thinking that tries very hard not to talk about God from a person not associated with atheism activism, and I occasionally forget which of the two I'm reading. The arguments are the same. "Skeptics" and "New Atheists" use slightly different labels for the same product. (And that product is skepticism, with varying particular affinity for the conclusion that it leads to about the existence of a God.)

Your argument assumes that atheism is a belief system on the one hand and something else on the other. It's definitely something else, a single characteristic that can occur for all kinds of independent reasons (as The Great Hippo explained regarding mushrooms,) but, moreover, you really can't treat it as both in the same argument and expect it to make sense.

The questions "Is there a God?" and "Is that guy an atheist?" both have the same problem - as a yes-or-no question, they imply that there are two equally-weighted possibilities.
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby Bharrata » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:14 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
Bharrata wrote:The former, I'm under no illusions about that and I generally don't get into long conversations about this with strangers, but this is the internet which is conducive to long form debate.

But I also don't think that something like Spinoza's theology should be disregarded because most people aren't familiar with it. (Panentheism)


Now, if you don't care because you've made your mind up that you're an atheist, that's not a problem to me, but as it stands I haven't made my mind up on the matter and I may never, so I enjoy talking and thinking about it.
It isn't relevant to the topic. The thread asks the question: "Is Atheism a rational stance?" -- The answer is, for most values of atheism, 'probably'. Discussing how various philosophical models of highly academic and specialized theism could also satisfy the requirements for a rational stance doesn't add or subtract anything from this conclusion.


You're right, it doesn't alter the conclusion, I was trying to spark a more interesting debate and in the future I'll create a new thread if I get that urge.


However, I think the term "rational" can be deconstructed a bit more to help shine a light on what qubital was trying to say, and perhaps say more. Pedantry trigger: if we take the stance that atheism is rational than it is obvious that stance is being taken for a reason. That reason can be very different than the reason other atheists term themselves as such, or it can be compound. The type of reason determines whether or not we can classify it as rational and brings with it a result. Typically reason is a technique for solving a problem, if we take a reason as an attempt to solve a problem then we can evaluate whether it is rational, depending on how well it solves that problem. It seems to me that qubital is arguing for technological and scientific progress as the best reason for atheism:

If so-called "atheists" had any sort of merit then their focus would be solely on advocating the scientific method, logic, and ethics.


So then, is the reason for atheism that it promotes productivity and with it human leisure and happiness - more so than spending Sunday in church and donating a tithe? It's possible and I think it could probably be shown that a society that does not speculate about a divinity would be more productive. Turning away from strictly economic measures, on the other end of the spectrum, the humanist could argue that theism reinforces authoritarian power structures and thereby limits individual freedom to fulfill potential as well as stultifies human expression. That could be shown to be another good reason. An atheist could also give the reason that theists persecute them violently based on dogma and they in turn resist changing their identity as a response against coercion. An atheist can make the argument that their disbelief in an afterlife is what propels them to live each day as fully as possible because they know that is all they have and it can be gone in a heartbeat. That is also a good reason. But is wanting to shock your parents, wanting to be superior to believers or, as you've pointed out, the FBI microwaving your brain with AM radio frequencies sufficiently rational? I'd argue that those are not rational stances in that they do not solve a problem, or at the very least do not do so efficiently, or they create a problem which was not there at the start.

I would advise anyone who thinks any sort of faith is irrational to look into the economic approach to the sociology of religion, specifically Rodney Stark's work. The economic approach generally treats religion not as an aberration to be overcome but as a natural want or need of individuals. It's interesting to note that economics and religion have been intertwined since Adam Smith who made observations about the effect government regulations of religion had on the quality of churches. (the more contemporary work shows that pure competition models with the ability for small niche faiths are optimal, and that a lot of the atheism in Europe may be due to the centuries of state-sponsored religion.) Bear in mind that it is possible to have atheist religions and that as one moves up a religion's or society's hierarchy there is a tendency to find more atheists who still find a "spiritual economic benefit" from ritual.


I don't think we come into this world as explicitly theist or atheist or pantheist or whatever, but I do think there is a human need to connect with our surroundings in a deep way. If we never introduced the concept of God to the next generation, could we say with any certainty that they wouldn't begin to create metaphors for the things around them which developed into anthropomorphic conceptions with which they were able to more intimately connect?


I agree that atheism can be rational.


The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:I see no good reason to assume that any of those people were correct.


Neither do I, it was an example of an attempt to create a rational argument for the existence of God.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:43 am UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:
zmic wrote:Except that through the ages and in all cultures people have stood up to bear witness of god. Some of those testimonies are found back in scripture. I see no good reason to assume that ALL of those people where wrong or deluded. So theism is a rational stance.

They also saw daily evidence that the sun circled the Earth, but we don't take that interpretation at face value. That they experienced either of these things is not in question. Their accounts are valid. The truth claims of what those experiences represent (in the case of religious experience, either a supernatural reality or a subjective artifact of human experience) is what is in question.


As long as it this question is not settled by science, you may just as well believe it.

Their individual inferences are meaningless, because the data is not novel, and the interpretation is based on less a less nuanced understanding of the world than we have now.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:46 am UTC

That is not how logic works.
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:47 am UTC

zmic wrote:As long as it this question is not settled by science, you may just as well believe it.
It sounds to me like you're playing word games. Theism gets a free pass as a rational belief because lots of people in antiquity believed it; the sun revolving around the earth doesn't, because lots of people in antiquity might have believed it, but science proves otherwise? Science tells us a lot of things people in antiquity believed are flat out wrong--do you not see how this might extend to the things they believed about God and his place in the cosmos?

What constitutes a 'rational stance'? Is it an empirically verifiable one? If so, no, theism is not a rational stance. Is it a reasonable one? If so, theism may be a rational stance, dependent on how much information you have available (in this case, it's certainly rational for a peasant in the medieval age to believe in a God; it's much less rational for me to believe in one).

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:51 am UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:That is not how logic works.


logic concludes that it is not irrational to believe in god.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:04 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
zmic wrote:As long as it this question is not settled by science, you may just as well believe it.
It sounds to me like you're playing word games. Theism gets a free pass as a rational belief because lots of people in antiquity believed it; the sun revolving around the earth doesn't, because lots of people in antiquity might have believed it, but science proves otherwise? Science tells us a lot of things people in antiquity believed are flat out wrong--do you not see how this might extend to the things they believed about God and his place in the cosmos?


Who said anything about antiquity? People who bear witness of some divine experience turn up in every age, right to this day. And yes, throughout the ages science has been at different levels of sophistication. I don't understand what that has to do with anything.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby Bharrata » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:12 am UTC

zmic wrote:
The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:That is not how logic works.


logic concludes that it is not irrational to believe in god.


That is not how rhetorical argumentation works. (I'm referring to you, not logic. But yeah, kind of logic as well.)

The Great Hippo wrote:What constitutes a 'rational stance'? Is it an empirically verifiable one? If so, no, theism is not a rational stance. Is it a reasonable one? If so, theism may be a rational stance, dependent on how much information you have available (in this case, it's certainly rational for a peasant in the medieval age to believe in a God; it's much less rational for me to believe in one).


I take that as you saying that while theism may not be rational, by your definition, it may be reasonable?

While I see where you're coming from, I'm more in agreement with rationality having different subsets with different aims that inform the reasonableness of a reasoned decision or belief than rationality being an absolute measure with reasonableness placed beneath it.

Hume wrote:'Tis not contrary to reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of my finger. 'Tis not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of... [a] person unknown to me.'


A rational stance, for me, is formed by reasoned deliberation to solve a problem as opposed to an act of instinct. There is no difference between a rational stance or a reasonable stance, they are both created with reason.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby The Great Hippo » Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:20 am UTC

zmic wrote:Who said anything about antiquity? People who bear witness of some divine experience turn up in every age, right to this day. And yes, throughout the ages science has been at different levels of sophistication. I don't understand what that has to do with anything.
People who bear witness to magical talking animals turn up in every age, right to this day. My point is to ask what you're defining as a 'rational stance', and why 'because a lot of other people subscribe to it' is somehow qualifier enough. A lot of people in the US think evolution is a lie; does this constitute a rational stance?
Bharrata wrote:I take that as you saying that while theism may not be rational, by your definition, it may be reasonable?
What? No. I was asking zmic to be specific about what constitutes a 'rational stance' and giving examples of what their response might be.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:12 am UTC

The Great Hippo wrote:
zmic wrote:Who said anything about antiquity? People who bear witness of some divine experience turn up in every age, right to this day. And yes, throughout the ages science has been at different levels of sophistication. I don't understand what that has to do with anything.
People who bear witness to magical talking animals turn up in every age, right to this day. My point is to ask what you're defining as a 'rational stance'


I would define any stance as rational as long as it is not irrational, i.e. disproved by logic or evidence.

and why 'because a lot of other people subscribe to it' is somehow qualifier enough. A lot of people in the US think evolution is a lie; does this constitute a rational stance?


no, because there seems to be good evidence that evolution is a fact. There is however no good evidence that there is no god.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby yurell » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:26 am UTC

zmic wrote:no, because there seems to be good evidence that evolution is a fact. There is however no good evidence that there is no god.


There's no evidence I don't have an intangible, invisible dragon, either. Or that Santa doesn't exist. Or that the invisible pink unicorn isn't the force-carrier for gravity. Or that there is a god. Is it rational to believe something simply because you've no evidence against it? What if it contradicts other beliefs that there is no evidence against?
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:34 am UTC

yurell wrote:
zmic wrote:no, because there seems to be good evidence that evolution is a fact. There is however no good evidence that there is no god.


There's no evidence I don't have an intangible, invisible dragon, either. Or that Santa doesn't exist. Or that the invisible pink unicorn isn't the force-carrier for gravity. Or that there is a god.


If it's all the same, if there is really no difference in quality between those beliefs, then how come you only see long discussions about the existence of god, but you never see a long discussions about the existence of invisible pink unicorns?

Is it rational to believe something simply because you've no evidence against it? What if it contradicts other beliefs that there is no evidence against?

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby krogoth » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:44 am UTC

zmic, I feel you've not met my bronies before then...

As people have said, large numbers of people having a belief does not make it any more rational.
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby PeteP » Tue Mar 27, 2012 11:46 am UTC

zmic wrote:
If it's all the same, if there is really no difference in quality between those beliefs, then how come you only see long discussions about the existence of god, but you never see a long discussions about the existence of invisible pink unicorns?

Because nobody really believes in it? If many people believed in the invisible pink unicorn there would be discussion about it, like there is discussion about homeopathy or young earth creationism.(Note: If you mean to imply that the numbers suggest quality, you will have to argue that point.)

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:10 pm UTC

PeteP wrote:
zmic wrote:
If it's all the same, if there is really no difference in quality between those beliefs, then how come you only see long discussions about the existence of god, but you never see a long discussions about the existence of invisible pink unicorns?

Because nobody really believes in it?


Well yes, exactly. From observation we conclude that an invisible pink unicorn is less believable than god, because less people believe it.

If many people believed in the invisible pink unicorn there would be discussion about it, like there is discussion about homeopathy or young earth creationism.(Note: If you mean to imply that the numbers suggest quality, you will have to argue that point.)


Homeopathy or young earth creationism make scientific claims, so they can be refuted easily.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby Trebla » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:14 pm UTC

zmic wrote:There is however no good evidence that there is no god.


God, being an intangible concept, tends to get redefined to fit the evidence. This is why new religions break off from mainstream ones, either they define him some new way, or the mainstream branch changes their definition (maybe "understanding" would be a more PC term than "defining") and some subset doesn't want to change so breaks off keeping the old ways.

Much like the invisible pink unicorn, we can claim an incomplete understanding. Let's assume that we can make the definitive claim "The IPU can't exist because the concept of the the spiral horn has been found to be incompatible with the laws of thermodynamics". The response is easily "The IPU doesn't actually have a horn, he's a unicorn in the sense that his horn is a metaphor" or any number of others. When nobody knows how to define the object in question (whether because it's beyond understanding, or because it's made up) there can be no evidence against it.

Define "god", be specific... then I imagine someone will offer you some evidence.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:22 pm UTC

zmic: A stance predicated on a fallacious argument (e.g. appeal to popularity) is inherently irrational.
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:38 pm UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:zmic: A stance predicated on a fallacious argument (e.g. appeal to popularity) is inherently irrational.


I'm not appealing to popularity. I'm only saying that throughout human history, a number of people have testified of their experience of god. Such people are rare, not populous.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby PeteP » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:40 pm UTC

zmic wrote:
PeteP wrote:
zmic wrote:
If it's all the same, if there is really no difference in quality between those beliefs, then how come you only see long discussions about the existence of god, but you never see a long discussions about the existence of invisible pink unicorns?

Because nobody really believes in it?


Well yes, exactly. From observation we conclude that an invisible pink unicorn is less believable than god, because less people believe it.

If many people believed in the invisible pink unicorn there would be discussion about it, like there is discussion about homeopathy or young earth creationism.(Note: If you mean to imply that the numbers suggest quality, you will have to argue that point.)


Homeopathy or young earth creationism make scientific claims, so they can be refuted easily.

And from observing these two cases we conclude, that things can have many believers while being wrong, thus making popularity insufficient to support somethings truth.
And more believable: Yes when you tell people that you just made this belief up, less people will believe it. But Scientology and similar organizations do get members. If you had founded the unicorn belief a few thousand years ago (after adding more content), and presented it in a serious light, instead of declaring it a parody maybe it would be a successful religion now. After all some religions believe in quite weird gods. I think comparing the number of believers between a religion which had two thousand years to spread, and something which was openly created as a joke is insufficient to prove that it inherently is less believable. (Though I suspect people have an easier time believing in gods, which are at least partly human locking.)

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby The Mighty Thesaurus » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:46 pm UTC

zmic wrote:
The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:zmic: A stance predicated on a fallacious argument (e.g. appeal to popularity) is inherently irrational.


I'm not appealing to popularity. I'm only saying that throughout human history, a number of people have testified of their experience of god. Such people are rare, not populous.

So? You are unfairly and irrationally weighting various claims purely to support whatever conclusions you have already made. And in any case, what you said is quite simply not true: viewtopic.php?p=2920271#p2920271
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby qetzal » Tue Mar 27, 2012 1:03 pm UTC

@The Great Hippo and zmic

The point I was trying to make is not that atheism is necessarily a rational or irrational stance. It depends on how you justify your lack of belief. If you justify it rationally, as in my example, it's a rational stance. If you justify irrationally, as in The Great Hippo's example, it's an irrational stance.

Either way, what you do with your atheism is a separate issue. zmic's statement to the contrary was a continuation of the pervasive conflation of issues that goes back to the OP.

Take Dawkins as a real-world example. He justifies his atheism essentially as I described in my previous post. His atheism is therefor a rational stance. But Dawkins also argues things like 'religious indoctrination of children is tantamount to child abuse.' Many people think such arguments are irrational. Then they conflate things and insist atheism itself is irrational. As best I can tell, that's where the OP is coming from.

But Dawkins' arguments against religion are not atheism! Just because he or anyone else makes irrational antireligious claims, that doesn't imply that atheism itself is irrational. Atheism and 'anti-religionism' (antitheism) are different things. It would be great if we could stop conflating them.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby Soralin » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:03 pm UTC

Bharrata wrote:They also argued, simplistically, that life (active) is better than non-life (passive). Since nothing is better than the universe in total, it must be living and if it is living it must be conscious and that consciousness is God.

That seems to be a huge is/ought fallacy, or naturalistic fallacy, assuming that just because something is good, that it's true, or vice-versa.

Bharrata wrote:If reasoning is a process of thought that a being within the universe participates in, how is it that the universe is not doing that reasoning itself?

Fallacy of composition
The fallacy of composition arises when one infers that something is true of the whole from the fact that it is true of some part of the whole (or even of every proper part). For example: "This fragment of metal cannot be broken with a hammer, therefore the machine of which it is a part cannot be broken with a hammer." This is clearly fallacious, because many machines can be broken into their constituent parts without any of those parts being breakable.

1. Human cells are invisible to the naked eye.
2. Humans are made up of human cells.
3. Therefore, humans are invisible to the naked eye.[1]

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby TheGrammarBolshevik » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:05 pm UTC

Bharrata wrote:I'll shoot out one argument for faith that I've been chewing over for a bit (which I may be completely overreaching with and am quite ok with being told I'm an idiot for even thinking of it): Godel's first incompleteness theorem of mathematical logic, summarized from wiki:

An all-encompassing axiomatic system can never be found that is able to prove all mathematical truths, but no falsehoods.


If reality is an axiomatic system, then there are truths in it which cannot be proven and thus have to be taken on faith. If you dig deeper into the theorem it's shown that some true statements will also be false if proved...because they prove their negation, which kind of comes back to the Feuerbach point in my previous post, it may be that faith is both false and true, or for Feuerbach false but useful/necessary.

Bold part is wrong: Reality isn't an axiom system. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formal_system#Overview

Even if it were, this argument would give no grounds for faith in any particular claim. Goedel's theorem tells you that there's a sentence F for which you can prove neither F nor not-F. Adapting a stance of "faith" still isn't going help you make up your mind about which seat you should take.

And please don't pass this off as just "an example of an attempt to create a rational argument for the existence of God." Nobody is interested in the possibility of trying, with a complete lack of success to come up with a rational argument. What makes a stance rational is that it rest on grounds that actually are rational.
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:09 pm UTC

The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:
zmic wrote:
The Mighty Thesaurus wrote:zmic: A stance predicated on a fallacious argument (e.g. appeal to popularity) is inherently irrational.


I'm not appealing to popularity. I'm only saying that throughout human history, a number of people have testified of their experience of god. Such people are rare, not populous.

So? You are unfairly and irrationally


I'm not quite sure what I'm exactly being accused of here. All I'm saying is that believing in god cannot be considered an irrational act, given the facts that:
1. there is no evidence against the existence of god
2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed experiences of god.

weighting various claims purely to support whatever conclusions you have already made.


is this a claim that mind-reading exists?

And in any case, what you said is quite simply not true: viewtopic.php?p=2920271#p2920271

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby yurell » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:12 pm UTC

zmic wrote:2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed experiences of god.


I think you meant "2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed contradictory experiences of at least a god."
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby SecondTalon » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:22 pm UTC

yurell wrote:
zmic wrote:2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed experiences of god.


I think you meant "2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed contradictory experiences of at least a god."

And even then it's not true.
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby mike-l » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:22 pm UTC

yurell wrote:
zmic wrote:2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed experiences of god.


I think you meant "2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed contradictory experiences of at least a god."


Even more, 2. in all ages people have claimed contradictory experiences which future ages regard as irrational.

People have believed in thousands of gods over the ages, and the vast majority of people alive today think that the vast majority of them were wrong.
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby Azrael » Tue Mar 27, 2012 2:53 pm UTC

zmic wrote:I'm not quite sure what I'm exactly being accused of here.

You're being called out on this:

zmic wrote:I would define any stance as rational as long as it is not irrational, i.e. disproved by logic or evidence.
Which is false, and has dragged the thread into the mire again because someone insists on using some alternate definition. "Rational" has a specific meaning. Wikipedia, if you must. It doesn't matter one tiny iota how you would define rationality.

Rationality is not a state that can be taken as the default; It is the exact opposite. You have to demonstrate that something is rational.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:06 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
zmic wrote:I'm not quite sure what I'm exactly being accused of here.

You're being called out on this:

zmic wrote:I would define any stance as rational as long as it is not irrational, i.e. disproved by logic or evidence.
Which is false, and has dragged the thread into the mire again because someone insists on using some alternate definition. "Rational" has a specific meaning. Wikipedia, if you must. It doesn't matter one tiny iota how you would define rationality.

Rationality is not a state that can be taken as the default; It is the exact opposite. You have to demonstrate that something is rational.


Are there any beliefs that are neither rational or irrational? Because if there aren't, I can prove that a belief is rational by proving that it is not irrational.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby Azrael » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:08 pm UTC

zmic wrote:Are there any beliefs that are neither rational or irrational? Because if there aren't, I can prove that a belief is rational by proving that it is not irrational.

I'd encourage you to try, but you've spent several posts completely fucking up what "rational" means.

If you want to believe in something that is not conclusively disproven, feel free. You have every right to do so. This is sometimes called faith. It's one of the major tenets of religion.

But do not, for a fraction of a second, try to fuck with the definitions of important concepts like rationality to attempt to bolster your belief with a veneer of credibility.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:09 pm UTC

yurell wrote:
zmic wrote:2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed experiences of god.


I think you meant "2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed contradictory experiences of at least a god."


apparently god reveals himself in many different forms, which is not surprising considering his creative tendencies.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby ahammel » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:19 pm UTC

zmic wrote:
yurell wrote:
zmic wrote:2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed experiences of god.


I think you meant "2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed contradictory experiences of at least a god."


apparently god reveals himself in many different forms, which is not surprising considering his creative tendencies.

I call invisible dragon on that one.
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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby zmic » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:20 pm UTC

Azrael wrote:
zmic wrote:Are there any beliefs that are neither rational or irrational? Because if there aren't, I can prove that a belief is rational by proving that it is not irrational.

I'd encourage you to try, but you've spent several posts completely fucking up what "rational" means.

If you want to believe in something that is not conclusively disproven, feel free. You have every right to do so. This is sometimes called faith. It's one of the major tenets of religion.

But do not, for a fraction of a second, try to fuck with the definitions of important concepts like rationality to attempt to bolster your belief with a veneer of credibility.


if you're going to define rational as "I only believe what has been proven by science", then indeed belief in god is not rational. But I think this is a rather narrow definition of rational.

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Re: Is Atheism a Rational Stance?

Postby PAstrychef » Tue Mar 27, 2012 3:31 pm UTC

zmic wrote:I'm not quite sure what I'm exactly being accused of here. All I'm saying is that believing in god cannot be considered an irrational act, given the facts that:
1. there is no evidence against the existence of god
2. in all ages and in all cultures people have claimed experiences of god

In response to 1) the inefficacy of prayer is pretty good evidence.
As for 2), Schizoid disorders are also common and involve behaviors and beliefs that would account for most of these.
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