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Source: (consider it) Thread: Arguing for atheism by arguing against theism
Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
The practice of science or scientific rationality is held by many people as a kind of spiritual ideal. As an example, if you look back at old Doctor Who, in general when the Doctor meets a scientist that scientist will be the most reasonable person around, unless they are outright mad.

And here I'm simply going to say that you are twenty or thirty years older than I am. Note the "If you look back at old Doctor Who" - that's a lot less true than in nuWho where the scientists are more than likely to be either (a) villains trying unethical experiments, (b) messing with things they shouldn't in a "Once the rockets are up who cares where zey come down" manner or (c) deluded and trying to find mundane explanations for aliens.
I did say that there had been a change. And I thought that the change wasn't so much that the ideal had gone away as that it had been pushed out of place by anti-scientific ideals. Roughly speaking, I'd say that the ideal of scientist as hero - call it technocratic - became sufficiently establishment to be worth reacting against. Fancifully I would correlate the change with a right-wing politician with scientific training taking power.

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
None of that need be "moral" or "ethical."
Practicality takes care of most things, even local charity.

In so far as practicality is something that people ought to be and often aren't, I'd include it under ethical.
Even the ideal of practicality is questionable. Should one go for long-lasting material satisfactions: house, family, status, self-respect; or short-term intense hedonistic satisfactions, with a different kind of self-respect or self-forgetfulness. (And if you enjoy the present moment, do you let it happen or seek out intensity of experience?)
I'd say more about the underlying metaphysics and picture of human existence. But put this in a strong form. From a Buddhist perspective, the ideal of practicality is an illusion anyway, yes? It's confusion chasing after suffering. From the perspective of economic rationality, practicality is common sense and any deviation from it is a positive ideal that has to be proved (or assimilated). But from a Buddhist perspective, practicality is the thing that's an unjustifiable positive ideal.

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quetzalcoatl
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quote:
Originally posted by SvitlanaV2:
quetzalcoatl

Interesting post.

I have to say that atheism would be more interesting to me if it wasn't always being reduced to New Atheism - this Anglophone, intellectual thing that goes on about science and logic, and being utterly rationalistic about everything. Oh - then there's that constant refrain about how evil religion is, which doesn't make much sense if the argument is that religion only evolved because it was useful to mankind!

(Well, maybe something can be both evil and useful. Still, that changes the anti-religion argument a bit...)

I find the anti-theism of the Gnus marginally interesting. It's a common cry, where is the Sartre/Camus/Nietzsche of today? Today, we get Harris saying that morality can be explained scientifically! O tempora, o mores.

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Indeed. It doesn't matter how good or bad the logic is, if the presuppositions are wrong the conclusion will be wrong.

I thought I'd expand still further.

Under formal logic
If C(I) -> M and M is false then so is C(I). The -> symbol is the material conditional. Therefore when EE says that C(I) -> M and M turns out to be not true, so is C(I).

Also we're talking about C(I) -> M because we've already disproved C(I) -> A, C(I) -> B, C(I) -> C, and so on. In the words of Tim Minchin, "Every mystery ever solved has turned out to be not magic." As of the two dozen supposed direct consequences of C(I), twenty of them have been shown to be out and out wrong and none of them have shown to be right, why should we believe C(I) this time? It's a hypothesis with a 0% hit rate so far, and has been offered for just about everything.

quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I did say that there had been a change. And I thought that the change wasn't so much that the ideal had gone away as that it had been pushed out of place by anti-scientific ideals. Roughly speaking, I'd say that the ideal of scientist as hero - call it technocratic - became sufficiently establishment to be worth reacting against. Fancifully I would correlate the change with a right-wing politician with scientific training taking power.

I'd disagree for several reasons. The first is that the same change happened in the US - and their right wing politician was a B movie actor. I would, however, call it a consequence of overreach by the Logical Positivists and of promising the earth and delivering ... a lot but nothing like that which was promised. Of course the post-modernists in turn overreached (doesn't every group?)

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
Indeed. It doesn't matter how good or bad the logic is, if the presuppositions are wrong the conclusion will be wrong.

I thought I'd expand still further.

Under formal logic
If C(I) -> M and M is false then so is C(I). The -> symbol is the material conditional. Therefore when EE says that C(I) -> M and M turns out to be not true, so is C(I).

This isn't taking what Marvin said farther; this is a completely different point. You're talking about denying the consequent, which is a formal logic form; he's talking about starting with bad premises, which is outside the scope of formal logic. Validity versus soundness, in specific that part of unsoundness that comes not from invalidity but from bad premises.

quote:
Also we're talking about C(I) -> M because we've already disproved C(I) -> A, C(I) -> B, C(I) -> C, and so on. In the words of Tim Minchin, "Every mystery ever solved has turned out to be not magic." As of the two dozen supposed direct consequences of C(I), twenty of them have been shown to be out and out wrong and none of them have shown to be right, why should we believe C(I) this time? It's a hypothesis with a 0% hit rate so far, and has been offered for just about everything.
There appears to be some confusion here about "disproving" a conditional. If we have C(I) -> M and prove ¬M, that would only prove ¬C(I) if we know for a fact that C(I) -> M. On the other hand if we know that C(I) is true, then it merely disproves the conditional C(I) -> M. In short, what are you arguing for? Are you saying that disproving C(I) -> A, C(I) -> B, and so on, disproves C(I) (which is reaching)? Or just that we have been given a string of disproven conditionals, and we should be wary of any future conditionals of the form C(I) -> P for any given P (which is more reasonable)?


quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
I did say that there had been a change. And I thought that the change wasn't so much that the ideal had gone away as that it had been pushed out of place by anti-scientific ideals. Roughly speaking, I'd say that the ideal of scientist as hero - call it technocratic - became sufficiently establishment to be worth reacting against. Fancifully I would correlate the change with a right-wing politician with scientific training taking power.

I'd disagree for several reasons. The first is that the same change happened in the US - and their right wing politician was a B movie actor. I would, however, call it a consequence of overreach by the Logical Positivists and of promising the earth and delivering ... a lot but nothing like that which was promised. Of course the post-modernists in turn overreached (doesn't every group?) [/QB][/QUOTE]

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Marvin the Martian

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
he's talking about starting with bad premises, which is outside the scope of formal logic.

Don't say that to EE - he seems to think that "logic" is a valid answer to the question "how sure are you that your presuppositions are valid?".

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mousethief

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quote:
Originally posted by Marvin the Martian:
quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
he's talking about starting with bad premises, which is outside the scope of formal logic.

Don't say that to EE - he seems to think that "logic" is a valid answer to the question "how sure are you that your presuppositions are valid?".
He's just a parallel postulate away from apostasy, then.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
None of that need be "moral" or "ethical."
Practicality takes care of most things, even local charity.

In so far as practicality is something that people ought to be and often aren't, I'd include it under ethical.
Even the ideal of practicality is questionable. Should one go for long-lasting material satisfactions: house, family, status, self-respect; or short-term intense hedonistic satisfactions, with a different kind of self-respect or self-forgetfulness. (And if you enjoy the present moment, do you let it happen or seek out intensity of experience?)
I'd say more about the underlying metaphysics and picture of human existence. But put this in a strong form. From a Buddhist perspective, the ideal of practicality is an illusion anyway, yes? It's confusion chasing after suffering. From the perspective of economic rationality, practicality is common sense and any deviation from it is a positive ideal that has to be proved (or assimilated). But from a Buddhist perspective, practicality is the thing that's an unjustifiable positive ideal.

Wasn't speaking from a Buddhist perspective, as this thread is about atheism.
I was speaking mostly about laws and general societal interaction. Human social interaction can be seen as based upon practical considerations. Murder, theft, trespass, etc. Whilst there have been morality-based laws, those can be dispensed without destroying the fabric of society.*
BTW, ethical=moral. Or at least, ethical~moral.


*despite some of the current caterwauling.

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EtymologicalEvangelical
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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian
Your "reasons" are too trivial to be worth bothering with. I'm going to give an example of how silly they look.

There is an invisible pink elephant who lives in my house and steals my socks at night. Which is why I so often can only find odd socks. So you don't believe there's an invisible pink elephant - but this in no way rules out you believing in an invisible pink thing with a long trunk and flapping ears that weighs a quarter of a tonne and saying that you're a-invisiblepinkelephantist.

See how silly that argument is? It's exactly the argument you're putting forward. Well, that, and as I mentioned before and your attempt to add complexity by playing with the tools of symbolic logic, you've rediscovered Palley's Watchmaker.

No, my argument is not silly at all, and my reasons are certainly not trivial.

Your example of an invisible pink elephant is a straw man argument when applied to the argument concerning the existence of God. This is a common type of analogy offered by atheists (particularly of the 'new' variety), but it is really quite absurd. An invisible pink elephant is an entirely trivial and inconsequential idea, unlike the idea of the intelligent creator of the universe. Not believing in the theory of the existence of the invisible pink elephant has no implications whatsoever, and therefore the denial of this construct could be called a non-position, on which, of course, there can never be a burden of proof.

However, when we look at reality, and the systems and structures that make up the universe, we could say that they were ultimately the work of an intelligent agent. We may perhaps not be able to identify this agent, but we could surmise that such an agent existed. The alternative is to deny that an intelligent agent was involved, and therefore we would have to explain the cause of all phenomena in terms of natural laws alone - operating without any intelligent guidance - and also we would need to explain the origin of those laws themselves in these terms.

That was the point I was trying to make concerning my analogy of the statue in the rock. Your idea that it could be an optical illusion is completely irrelevant. I could just as easily have given the example of the very real sculptures on Mount Rushmore. We happen to know that they were, in fact, sculpted by an intelligent agent (or agents), namely the artist who created them, but suppose we did not know that? Suppose we looked at these sculptures for the very first time and asked what caused them? There are really only two theories: either an intelligent agent created them (a human sculptor), or they were the incredibly fortuitous result of natural erosion. Either the cause is intelligence or it is non-intelligence, the latter meaning natural causes alone.

So it follows logically that if someone rejects the intelligent agent theory, then, by a simple process of elimination, he has to commit himself to the only alternative theory, namely, the non-intelligent natural theory. The fact that the intelligent agent - in the case of Mount Rushmore - was human, is completely irrelevant. I am talking about the distinction between intelligence and non-intelligence.

Thus what is true of Mount Rushmore, or the fictional statue of Geoff Boycott in the Yorkshire Dales, is also true of reality as a whole. Either it's the result of intelligence or non-intelligence. If intelligence is the ultimate creator, then we are talking about an absolute intelligence, which is pretty much a definition of God. If the idea of God (absolute intelligence) is rejected, then, by a process of elimination, reality must have been 'created' by non-intelligent factors. And this last theory is a definite and positive position, which constitutes a worldview at a basic level.

Because 'God' is not a trivial concept, then it follows that the denial of 'God' is also non-trivial. Profound implications flow from both 'God' and 'not-God'. Therefore it is quite wrong to say that atheism does not imply a definite view of reality (at a basic level - root and trunk, rather than branches and twigs), and wrong to say that a lack of belief in God is in the same epistemic category as lack of belief in the invisible pink elephant.

As for William Paley's analogy: it's only wrong in the minds of those who want it to be wrong. Just loudly and persistently claiming that something is fallacious, does not necessarily make it so. It is perfectly sound to infer the intelligent causation of a complex and intricate functioning system, especially as we have no empirical knowledge of the staggeringly improbable (and more likely impossible) alternative.

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Crœsos
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quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
Because 'God' is not a trivial concept, then it follows that the denial of 'God' is also non-trivial. Profound implications flow from both 'God' and 'not-God'. Therefore it is quite wrong to say that atheism does not imply a definite view of reality (at a basic level - root and trunk, rather than branches and twigs), and wrong to say that a lack of belief in God is in the same epistemic category as lack of belief in the invisible pink elephant.

Once again, the straightforward claim that your particular pet theory is exempted from normal standards of proof because it's so gosh darn important. Self-declared importance is not the same as demonstration and is no substitute for evidence. Just as there is no royal road to geometry, there is none for logic either.

quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
As for William Paley's analogy: it's only wrong in the minds of those who want it to be wrong. Just loudly and persistently claiming that something is fallacious, does not necessarily make it so. It is perfectly sound to infer the intelligent causation of a complex and intricate functioning system, especially as we have no empirical knowledge of the staggeringly improbable (and more likely impossible) alternative.

The internal contradictions in Palley's watchmaker analogy were apparent almost as soon as it was formulated. The basic reasoning goes that if we find a watch on a beach its inherent complexity and order is in contrast to the simplicity and chaos of its natural surroundings, therefore we can classify it as the artificial creation of an intelligent agent. Palley then goes on to reason that the pattern and orderliness of the natural world means . . . wait, just a second ago nature was simple and chaotic and now it's inherently ordered? If nature is complex and ordered, then what distinguishes the watch from its natural surroundings? Palley's watchmaker analogy, essentially a much more compact form of EE's ramblings, depends on being able to switch between two contradictory understandings of the natural world. Couple this with a definition of "complex" that essentially boils down to personal ignorance and incredulity, and you've got something that's superficially convincing but crumbles at closer inspection, hence EE's insistence that the normal rules don't apply to examinations of his pet theory.

[ 01. March 2013, 17:58: Message edited by: Crœsos ]

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lilBuddha
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God is indeed a trivial concept to some atheists. The consequence of not believing is the same as believing, from an atheist's perspective. Why is your perspective (or mine) any more deserving of special consideration?
The Pink Elephant absurd? No more so than trying to prove god(s).

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Dafyd
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quote:
Originally posted by lilBuddha:
quote:
Originally posted by Dafyd:
But from a Buddhist perspective, practicality is the thing that's an unjustifiable positive ideal.

Wasn't speaking from a Buddhist perspective, as this thread is about atheism.
I was merely using Buddhism as an example. The point is that what considers itself to be common sense and an absence of a perspective, looks from somewhere else like a perspective in its own right.

quote:
I was speaking mostly about laws and general societal interaction. Human social interaction can be seen as based upon practical considerations. Murder, theft, trespass, etc. Whilst there have been morality-based laws, those can be dispensed without destroying the fabric of society.
Whereas I'd say that trespass laws are transparently there for the benefit of landowners rather than for society. The kinds of things that a society thinks it is protecting out of practical considerations tell you something about what the ideals of that society are.
(Incidentally, I'm not sure under what definition of 'moral' moral is equivalent to ethical but excludes murder.)

quote:
BTW, ethical=moral. Or at least, ethical~moral.

A number of philosophers make a distinction. Moral covers things obligations, duties and generally what things are or aren't forbidden or mandatory. Ethical covers ideals: for example,, is it better, more fulfilling, more admirable, more deserving of respect to be a yuppie or a hippie? That would be an ethical question not a moral question. (Assume both yuppie and hippie obey the laws.) Moral is the right; ethical is the good.
There have been repeated attempts to establish a general theory of political obligation as based upon moral considerations while neutral towards all ethical considerations. ('The priority of the right over the good' is how John Rawls phrased it.) On examination, they all covertly smuggle in some ideal of the good - whether noble (Rawls' autonomous deliberating agents) or less so (the rational wanting machine of most right-libertarian economic theory).

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Justinian
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quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
No, my argument is not silly at all, and my reasons are certainly not trivial.

Your example of an invisible pink elephant is a straw man argument when applied to the argument concerning the existence of God.
...
An invisible pink elephant is an entirely trivial and inconsequential idea, unlike the idea of the intelligent creator of the universe. Not believing in the theory of the existence of the invisible pink elephant has no implications whatsoever

You mean if I don't leave a saucer of milk out for the elephant he won't be likely to crush me in the night? Is that what you mean by implications?

quote:
However, when we look at reality, and the systems and structures that make up the universe, we could say that they were ultimately the work of an intelligent agent.
If they were ultimately rather than proximately the work of an intelligent agent then your claim is significantly more trivial than my invisible pink elephant. If they were proximately the work of an intelligent agent (with a twisted sense of humour) then we can check the handiwork. And whether there is evidence of the handiwork of such a being. It turns out that there isn't. And every time some evidence has been offered it has turned out to not work. To the point that the most recent time a biologist offered such an idea in a court of law, after his misapprehension of biological science was shredded. the conservative Christian judge declared his arguments to be "breathtaking inanity".

You have fiction on your side. The fiction that there is a statue that looks exactly like a cricketer. But the cold hard fact of the matter is that every time there has been a test which would show the presence of an intelligent designer the test has either been inconclusive or congruent with the result that there isn't one.

quote:
That was the point I was trying to make concerning my analogy of the statue in the rock. Your idea that it could be an optical illusion is completely irrelevant. I could just as easily have given the example of the very real sculptures on Mount Rushmore.
No. My comments about your analogy are not irrelevant. Your entire analogy about the cricketer is irrelevant because the cricketer does not exist.

You are claiming that if a cricketer exists that has to have been created by a sapient agent it's evidence that there was one. The rebuttal is simple. Literally every such artifact found has been the work of either humans or animals. That every time we've investigated claims of a supernatural agent or irreducible complexity they've turned out not to be needed is telling. Your idea has been tried many times with a 0% success rate.

quote:
There are really only two theories: either an intelligent agent created them (a human sculptor), or they were the incredibly fortuitous result of natural erosion. Either the cause is intelligence or it is non-intelligence, the latter meaning natural causes alone.
And we know humans did it. No one is denying that humans are intelligent agents. We just have not found one single such case that requires an intelligent supernatural agent.

quote:
If intelligence is the ultimate creator, then we are talking about an absolute intelligence, which is pretty much a definition of God. If the idea of God (absolute intelligence) is rejected, then, by a process of elimination, reality must have been 'created' by non-intelligent factors. And this last theory is a definite and positive position, which constitutes a worldview at a basic level.
And as there is no evidence that we have that is consistent with an intelligent agent and not with a lack of one, and plenty with a lack of one we can say that the creator is incredibly unlikely to exist. Tests for a creator have a 0% success record and a 100% failure or inconclusive record.

Now, are you going to follow the logic through and come and join the atheists? Rather than the side that has never been right and needs to create fiction to make its case?

quote:
Because 'God' is not a trivial concept,
The Creator is a trivial concept merely needed to kick off the big bang. It just creates. The non-trivialities are things you've grafted on.

quote:
Profound implications flow from both 'God' and 'not-God'.
Not really. Deism is its own thing and all it says is "There is an entity that triggered the big bang but the universe behaves consistently with there being none". The practical difference between deism and atheism isn't there. For all practical purposes God isn't there in a deistic system.

Profound implications flow from specific conceptions of God. If there was an active creator, we then need to know the nature of that creator. We need to know the nature of the creator of the Bubonic Plague and birth defects. If there is a God, profound implications flow from the nature of God.

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Dave W.
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quote:
Originally posted by Justinian:
If they were proximately the work of an intelligent agent (with a twisted sense of humour) then we can check the handiwork.

Thanks for that link, Justinian. Worth it for the desert rain frog alone.
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lilBuddha
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Dafyd,

Ethics and morals are both systems guiding behaviour, what is "right." Yes, some do apply them with variation, but the debate is far from one-sided. Tan vs taupe.

Trespass affects anyone who is not homeless, not just landowners. Still shows what we value, though. Note: I am not making a good/bad judgement on what society considers valuable enough to encode into law. Just that moral/ethical need not be the drivers. Indeed, they may just be the expression of said practicality.

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Truman White
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@Hughwillridme. You reckoned 'there is experimental evidence which suggests that thinking supernaturally doesn’t develop until age seven or so – and that prior to that it is absent – which suggests the ability to think supernaturally is learnt rather than default. It is, of course, clear that we are evolutionarily predisposed to believe whatever authority figures (including parents, preachers, priests, peers and teachers) tell us, which explains why we learn to accept silly ways of thinking and then to copy them.

Nah. Have a look at these scientific studies

Biggest problem with your view is kids of atheist parents who develop supernaturalist views that their parents can't then shake

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Palimpsest
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quote:
Originally posted by Truman White:

Biggest problem with your view is kids of atheist parents who develop supernaturalist views that their parents can't then shake [/QB]

Yes, it's like the children of parents who refuse to have toy guns in the house. Who would expect the kids to want to pretend they're shooting at things?
[Smile]

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Truman White
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quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
quote:
Originally posted by Truman White:

Biggest problem with your view is kids of atheist parents who develop supernaturalist views that their parents can't then shake

Yes, it's like the children of parents who refuse to have toy guns in the house. Who would expect the kids to want to pretend they're shooting at things?
[Smile] [/QB]

[Smile]
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quote:
Originally posted by Truman White:
quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
quote:
Originally posted by Truman White:

Biggest problem with your view is kids of atheist parents who develop supernaturalist views that their parents can't then shake

Yes, it's like the children of parents who refuse to have toy guns in the house. Who would expect the kids to want to pretend they're shooting at things?
[Smile]

[Smile] [/QB]
[Smile] indeed.

But it's not really an effective challenge to Hugh's stated view that supernatural belief is learned rather than inherent. Parents are only the primary authority figures in a child's life. Wider society soon kicks in - TV, teachers, peers, etc. A child learns all manner of things from them.

And anyway, the link-cited Mr Barrett concludes,
quote:
...children have naturally-developing receptivity to many core religious beliefs...
(My italics)
The only quibble would be over the age at which that begins to manifest.

[ 03. March 2013, 22:53: Message edited by: kankucho ]

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lilBuddha
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# 14333

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I would posit that it is the natural curiosity in humans that this is truly being observed. The search for the how and the why.
Unfortunately, the only proper tests are unconscionable.

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Palimpsest
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# 16772

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quote:
Originally posted by kankucho:
quote:
Originally posted by Truman White:
quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
quote:
Originally posted by Truman White:

Biggest problem with your view is kids of atheist parents who develop supernaturalist views that their parents can't then shake

Yes, it's like the children of parents who refuse to have toy guns in the house. Who would expect the kids to want to pretend they're shooting at things?
[Smile]

[Smile]

[Smile] indeed.

But it's not really an effective challenge to Hugh's stated view that supernatural belief is learned rather than inherent. Parents are only the primary authority figures in a child's life. Wider society soon kicks in - TV, teachers, peers, etc. A child learns all manner of things from them.

And anyway, the link-cited Mr Barrett concludes,
quote:
...children have naturally-developing receptivity to many core religious beliefs...
(My italics)
The only quibble would be over the age at which that begins to manifest. [/QB]

My point exactly. I doubt the urge to make an el shape with your fingers so they look like a gun is a genetic rather than social nurture.

There's a wonderful moment in the Ken Burns documentary about the Wright Brothers. They have some film of the evening supper after the successful flight at Kitty Hawk. The narration ponts to the children who are holding their arms up like wings and running around and points out that these are the first children ever to do this.

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Marvin the Martian

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# 4360

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quote:
Originally posted by Palimpsest:
The narration ponts to the children who are holding their arms up like wings and running around and points out that these are the first children ever to do this.

Really? I'd have thought at least a few children would have imitated birds before then...

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George Spigot

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# 253

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No before then they flapped their arms.

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mousethief

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# 953

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quote:
Originally posted by George Spigot:
No before then they flapped their arms.

Not when they were gliding.

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Karl: Liberal Backslider
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# 76

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Returning to the OP - "Arguing for the non-existence of God by arguing against the existence of God" doesn't sound that ridiculous, if a tad tautological.

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lilBuddha
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quote:
Originally posted by Karl: Liberal Backslider:
Returning to the OP - "Arguing for the non-existence of God by arguing against the existence of God" doesn't sound that ridiculous, if a tad tautological.

"Returning to the OP," how quaint.

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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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Is it actually allowed? Surely it must contradict some rule somewhere?

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lilBuddha
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Not so much a rule, methinks, as it is simple courtesy.
What comes of letting the commoners participate, I suppose.
Let's indulge him for a mo.
Karl, the idea of sentence itself might not be unreasonable, but it isn't what the opening post really argues.

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Marvin the Martian

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# 4360

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What amuses me is the number of people using the thread to argue for theism by arguing against atheism!

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Palimpsest
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# 16772

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quote:
Originally posted by mousethief:
quote:
Originally posted by George Spigot:
No before then they flapped their arms.

Not when they were gliding.
This was the first time they were pretending to be airplanes. They may have raised their rams before pretneding to be birds or angels or ornithopters.
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Socratic-enigma
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# 12074

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Too many analogies...

...

and one more



Humans, like all animals, are curious. But whereas other animals merely divide that which they encounter into pleasure/pain, food/not-food; we have developed an elaborate language which enables us to transmit complex ideas. And the corollary to curiosity is answers.

Two thousand years ago people were no more stupid than they are today (Yes, I know that's not saying much), but they were ignorant; they lacked the information we have today. For example in medicine, Illness was believed to be the result of an imbalance in the humours, a curse, evil spirits, too much blood etc.. Some-one may have suggested that it was the result of microscopic organisms, but such a view would be no more valid than any other as there were no means whereby to confirm such a diagnosis. Consequently, treatment was either largely ineffective or at worst, accelerated one's demise.


quote:
Originally posted by EtymologicalEvangelical:
What I am saying is that if the existence of something has major implications concerning the nature of reality, then it follows that the denial of the existence of that thing also has major implications. Therefore both positions necessarily involve positive claims about reality. And so if there is a burden of proof on one of those positions, there must also be a burden of proof on the other.

No,

a perfectly reasonable answer is to say that we lack sufficient information to make any plausible answer.

Ignorance

This is what distinguishes atheism - we're not afraid to simply say: "We don't know".
We do not need an answer to many of the questions raised here as much as some obviously do.


S-E

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David Hume

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quetzalcoatl
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# 16740

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That stuff about the ignorance of ancient peoples confuses knowledge with wisdom. Sure, they weren't too hot on quantum mechanics, but there is plenty of wisdom in their literature and culture. I'm not religious in order to acquire knowledge about stochastic processes, but in order to be here now.

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Raptor Eye
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# 16649

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quote:
Originally posted by Socratic-enigma:


Ignorance

This is what distinguishes atheism - we're not afraid to simply say: "We don't know".
We do not need an answer to many of the questions raised here as much as some obviously do.


S-E

'We?' Are you speaking for all atheists, including those who think they do know - as science fills in all the gaps, or soon will?

As religion raises more questions than answers, questions wrestled with in each generation by people far less ignorant than me, where is the evidence to indicate that religious people need answers any more than any other group of people?

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Be still, and know that I am God! Psalm 46.10

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