10/28/2006                                                                                       View Comments

16 Common Myths About Atheists

By Atheist Mommy

1. Atheists hate Christians and Christianity. No, we don't. Personally, I do hate the atrocities that have been committed in the name of religion, the dishonesty of most religions, and the way that they encourage people not to think or question, and not to trust or use their minds. But I don't dislike someone just because of their religion.

2. Most atheists started out as Christians, and stopped believing because of some bad experience with other Christians. Or maybe we simply started to question, to wonder what happened when we applied the standards of logic, reason and burden of proof to religion, as we already did to everything in our lives. Or, perhaps, we were never believers at all. It happens, you know.

3. Atheists have no sense of morality, since morality comes from God. Ah, the old without fear of hell, there would be nothing to stop people from being bloodthirsty monsters argument. It may come as a surprise to most Christians, but there are reasons for being good other than fear of punishment - which isn't really a reason, anyway, and only shows Christians in a very bad light. Reasons like human empathy, genuine feelings for others, and, most importantly, rational principles. Behaving yourself just because daddy will spank you otherwise does not make you a nice child.

4. Atheists are a unified group, like a church. Are we? I must have missed the memo, then. :) If anything, Id say atheists are more diverse than Christians, because were less sheep-like, and dont accept things on faith, or from authority.

5. Atheists actually know, deep inside, that theres a God, as thats perfectly obvious; they are simply too proud and arrogant to admit the existence of something greater than themselves. Not exactly. You see, the existence of a god is only obvious if youve been brainwashed (either by others, or by your own irrationality) into believing it. We are truly convinced that theres no god, and are not in denial. Really. Im serious. :)

6. Atheists dont really know anything about Christianity. Again, it depends. Some certainly know more than others. However, religion is so ubiquitous that, like it or not, weve all had varying degrees of contact with it, with its teachings, and with believers. Besides, a lot of atheists are naturally curious. I, myself, have read the Christian Bible - more than once, in fact. Now, dear believer, ask yourself how many atheist books, magazines or essays you have read. Oh, I forgot, theyre all the work of Satan.

7. Atheists lives are cold and empty, as they cant feel the joy and love that comes only from God. Really? Id never call my life cold or empty - I have the joys of friendship, love, family, and doing the things I love to do. And, whats more, I'm self-sufficient, unlike anyone who says I don't know how anyone could live without God in their lives - as many Christians do.

8. Atheists are depressive and nihilistic, since they believe theres nothing after death, and therefore theres no point to anything. On the contrary, we, unlike you, know how precious life is, because were aware that its our only one. And, this may come as a shock to you, but we can love our lives, we can feel the joy of being alive, because we don't believe that this is the devils world, or that this is just a test before the real thing. Life is precious, and its our own - not any gods.

9. Atheists are cold and uncaring. No, we are not. Having delusions doesn't make anyone more caring. And, again, we treat life as precious, and do what we can to improve it, both ours and that of our loved ones. On the other hand, many Christians believe life is suffering, and that theres nothing we can do about it.

10. Atheists are arrogant. What, because we dare to use our minds instead of asking who are we to know? No, were not.

11. Atheists want to forbid religious worship. Wrong. We just don't want to be harmed by it. Want to believe in God, Jesus, Santa Claus or the Tooth Fairy? Be my guest. Want to teach your kids to do the same? I feel sorry for them, but it will still take many years until people realize how crippling ones reason in childhood is like a bird crippling its offspring's wings. (*) Want to give all your money to a guy with a Lexus and a bad haircut? Fine. But don't try to save me, don't harass me in the street or at my home, don't get politicians to enact laws to give power to you, don't try to teach your religion in science classes by dishonestly giving it a new name and disguising it as science, and don't use my tax money to write your idiocies in public places. In short, do as you want, as long as you keep it to yourself - just like I don't go to your place trying to un-convert you.

12. Atheists are incapable of feeling awe at simple things, like a beautiful sunset, as they see everything in terms of cold science, instead of miracles. Ah, unweaving the rainbow - the idea that beauty and poetry only exist if we know little to nothing about how things work. But I ask you: does the fact that you know about astronomy, physics and light make the sunset any less beautiful? Was it beautiful only because it seemed magical - or an act of god - to you?

13. Atheists live their lives in constant fear of death. Few people actually want to die - those that do are either depressed and suicidal, or are Christians who believe that the world is evil, please, Lord Jesus, take me, and all that. A reasonable fear of death is perfectly natural. Also, we may believe that this life is it, which makes us treat it as precious, but, at least, we don't think that theres a chance of going to a place where you burn and are tortured for eternity

14. Most criminals are atheists (or, alternatively, the percentage of atheists among criminals is higher than among the general populace). Oddly enough, the opposite is true.

15. Atheists are stubborn and closed-minded. Not unless you define closed-minded like this. But, as Ebon said, Ask any believer what would convince him he was mistaken and persuade him to leave his religion and become an atheist, and if you get a response, it will almost invariably be, Nothing - I have faith in my god. Although such people may well exist, I personally have yet to meet a theist who would acknowledge even the possibility that his belief was in error. Many theists, by their own admission, structure their beliefs so that no evidence could possibly disprove them. Atheists, on the other hand, are easy to convince - all it requires is for God to show himself in some unfakeable way - say, for instance, by doing any of the many things he supposedly did in the Old Testament

16. Atheists make bad parents. Again, there are good and bad atheist parents, and good and bad Christian parents. Atheist parents, however, would never do what Abraham was about to do to his son Isaac (and Christians see Abraham's behavior as laudable!), because, to most atheists, our lives are our own. In fact, even if there was a God, it would not follow that our lives are his.

63 comments:

D Laurier said...

Good post Atheist Mommy,

1) while i cannot speak for all atheists, I myself DO despise the christian cult, and am slowly coming to see violence as the only solution to the increasing infection of their disease.
2) Yes I started out as a christian, But I stopped believing because it was obviously a mess of self contradictory lies.
3)LOL, this myth always gets a good laugh from me, As a christian I was told its GOOD to throw garbage on lawns of unbelievers, That its OK to gang up on kids who dont love jesus,,,, and take their lunch money, And that if a girl refuses to give her heart to jesus, she deserves to be raped.
I had pastors activly telling me that I HAD to harrass and threaten non christians ... or I would go to hell.
(so much for christian morality)
4) atheists are utterly dissorganized, We need to do something about that, we need to GET organized.
5) UGH, if I could not admit the existance of things greater than myself, I could not admit the existance of the universe,
nor could I admit the existance of any of the great people I openly admire and emulate...
and yes ... I actualy know ,deep down inside that there are no gods.
6) I was only activly in the christian cult for 12 years, and was culturaly christian for another few on either end of that nightmare.
I grew up in a predominantly christian country (canada), Surrounded by christian myths and influences,,, How can I NOT know anything about something I have dealt with EVERY DAY OF MY LIFE????
7)This doesnt even deserve a reply.
I have an active life of working and volunteering, Of music and of freinds.
And I experience both joy and love,
But without the depraved sexual violence of the christian cult.
8)Sorry, My depression was cured when I shed the last chains of the christian cult. The fact that there is nothing after death does not make life pointless, on the contrary, It makes life SPECIAL and deeply important.
9) utter rubbish. most atheists are socialy active in volunteer and charity work, social justice activism, and every other effort to make life better for people, Atheists care about THIS life, THE REAL LIFE, and work to help everyone enjoy dignity and hope IN THIS LIFE,
Unlike the christian cult which commands people to suffer injustice and degradation in their lives, and insists they will have better luck in the next life as long as they grovel to their masters.
10) Most atheists are humbled by the sheer magnitude of the universe. As well as the vast diversity of life.
The very things most christians arrogantly ignore.
11)Forbid? no, LIMIT AND HOLD ACCOUNTABLE.
12) sorry , again you transfer your crap onto us.
I enjoy watching sunsets, sunrises, geese on the bay, little league baseball games, etc etc,,,
13) Most christians are afraid of death, and live in constant fear of dying,
I was at the deathbed of a freind, a fellow atheist and fellow musician.
Michael died peacefully surrounded by freinds , he died with dignity.
14) Atheists are generaly educated, and although the democracy does strive to criminalize social justice activists, the fact remains that it is CHRISTIANS who are raping and murdering and stealing and passing bad cheques, and defauding wellfare, and selling heroin in schoolyards,
Atheists DO get criminalized for protesting against injustice.
but the actual criminals tend to believe in a jesus.
15)the first step to becoming an atheist, is to become open minded.
16)sorry, Atheist parents dont have a god telling them to beat their children,

Anonymous said...

"11)Forbid? no, LIMIT AND HOLD ACCOUNTABLE"

And TAX, don't forget TAX! Why the hell should these sheisters get off any better than anyone else?

-----------------------------------

As for a few of the other points;
Arrogance? If i'm confronted by someone who shows blatant intellectual inferiority to me then maybe I might come accross as arrogant, but that ain't arrogance, it's only arrogance if you "think" your better than them.

Closed-minded? show unto me the works of ye god in such a fashion as cannot be disproved and ye shall have a convert on the morn. Ain't gonna happen though, is it?

Know nothing of christianity? from what i've seen on this site, most atheists have read more of the bible than most christians! Perhaps that's the awnser, get MORE peeople reading the damn thing, certainly seems to help our cause allong!

No Morality? Consult Mister Dawkins on this point, religion is a parasite on morality, not it's mother. Period.

Piprus said...

Hi, AM

Glad you posted that here on the main blog...maybe it'll make a difference. We're just average people, just no god beliefs. Sad that the christians out there have such false stereotyped beliefs about atheism and atheists.

Bentley said...

What is an Atheist?

Most people do not know, nor do they want to know!

The majority of Atheists are a loving caring rational thinking Human Being, that is concerned with the well being of his/her fellow man/woman. Every person that is born on Earth, is infact born an Atheist and non-believer.

Most Atheists do not support nor condone, lying, cheating, stealing, adultery, wars, hatred of others, nor harm to another human being and believe in upholding the laws of the land.

Atheists, do not believe that you can commit a crime and then later ask an imaginary god-man to forgive you for something you know you should have not done to begin with.

Most Atheists would agree with the teachings of the Ten Commandments, although they do not believe that they were inspired by nor written by an imaginary god, and believe that anyone living in that day, could have just as easily wrote the Ten Commandments.

An Atheist, does not claim to be an Atheist, just to be opposed to the Bible God, as Christians would have people to believe.

Atheists, do not believe in invisible beings or invisible gods, or bible gods or mythological gods, nor man made gods, nor imaginary entities.

An Atheist, does not prescribe to religious creeds nor covenants, nor the ancient teachings that was handed down from the Bronze Age way of thinking and through generation to generation.

Every person is in-fact an Atheist, if you do not believe in Thor, Orisis, Sol, Allah,, etc, then you are an Atheist to those gods.

Most Atheists, live by strict moral standards, weighed by his/her own conscious of right and wrong, in most cases Atheist's morals rise well above those that claim to be initiated into a spiritual righteousness or one that claims to be a Christian.

An Atheist, does not hate any god, because they do not believe you can hate something that is not real or does not exist.

An Atheist, does not believe in ghosts, holy spirits, souls, miracles, faith, oracles, visions, dreams, divine inspiration or divine intervention, witches, prayer, speaking in tongues, virgin births, baptism, heaven, hell, angels, gods, imaginary beings, superstitions, devils, demons, spooks, nor that the Bible is the inspired word of a God.

An Atheist, does not claim a religious title to proclaim their own righteousness and worthyness.

An Atheist, does not believe what a man wrote down in books over 2000 years ago, by mentally deranged, opium-using sheep herders to be the inspired word of a god.

An Atheist, has never crucified another human being.

An Atheist, has never started a religious war.

Adolph Hitler was not an atheist, he was a Christian, claiming to be doing the will of the Bible god, by killing Jews.

The American Indians were Atheists, before 1492, there was not one single Bible or church on American soil, and most of them were killed in the name of the Bible God and Jesus.

Why do we not kill the Indians living today, since they are all the direct descendants of those same filthy savage infidels?

Ref. go to: http://www.truthbeknown.com/victims.htm


Great Post, A.M.!

Anonymous said...

Great Post,

I really like the segment about how theists believe a life without god must be depressive and nihilistic. It is the finiteness of life that gives it meaning to me. Can you imagine having a wonderful relationship for five-trillion years in the hereafter and recognizing that in terms of infinity the relationship is meaningless? The thought of living for eternity, even in a nice place would be hell.

Emanuel Goldstein said...

Myths ABOUT atheism?

Atheism IS the myth.

Everyone knows God exists, but some suppress the knowledge because they can't stand the idea of being accountable to God.

Nietzche and Ayn Rand are examples of this.

I guess I will just say, "I lack belief in your claims."

Emanuel Goldstein said...

By the way Bently, here is something atheists have done in an effort to stamp out religion, and thus because of their atheism; they have set up Gulags, brainwashing camps, and re-education centers and tortured and killed millions.

Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, etc.

Take a number!

Minus One said...

Great post!

Anonymous said...

EG, the biggest, longest running brainwashing camp in the world has been the Church.

EG, there are churches on nearly every corner in every city, town and village in America. Since they all have the personal support of the omnipotent GOD of Heaven, I wonder why you so fear the influence of any tiny minority of atheists.

You're make a great study.

Thanks.

Bentley said...

EG, somehow I think we're talking about the USA and religious propaganda being touted as pure fact, just like you're trying to do.

D Laurier said...

Emanuel Goldstein,
Atheism is a philosophical position, and it exists,

I do not KNOW that any gods exist, do not lie to me about me.
The fantasy of being accountable to an imaginary fantasy character is utterly irrelevent to me.
I am happy to be accountable to myself and my fellow mamals. at least I know that I exist, and that other mamals exist,

PS your willfull ignorance of history is as pathetic as your willfull ignorance of philosophy

Lorena said...

Great post, AtheistMommy!

May I add one?

Christians think that atheists are bitter and angry, calling them demon possesed and affirming that they should all be exorcized.

I used to think that way, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Fantastic post. I will keep this on a wall somewhere so I can counter these silly assumptions should someone bring them up. I was raised an athiest, so all these beliefs have always struck me sideways: you think WHAT? I don't know who you're talking about - surely it isn't me. Do you really see the person in front of you as you say this or think these things??

As for Mr. EG. Why should I be so afraid of being accountable to god? Every day I feel accountable to my fellow human being: I want to be honest if I can, helpful if I can, kind if I can, generous if I have it, and always look for some way to contribute to the greater good, to somehow alleviate poverty or stop war, from my own little corner of the earth. What else have I got to account for? Oh, yes, and raise my daughter to be a happy, healthy responsible human being. If there's more accountability that this, then the god you refer to is an unforgiving taskmaster and tyrant.

Naomi

Elder Norm said...

Atheist Mommy,

Cute post. Nicely thought out. :-)

Sarge said...

Atheist Mommy,

Great post! And Emanuel? Manny, Manny, Manny... see a doctor. You bend 'way too easily at the neck, waist, and knees. Salin started out as a religeous student, most of the Nazi heirachy was catholic (they used the Cluniac model of 'give me the boy and in seven years I'll give you the man')etc.

So, how about Bernardo Gue, Tomas de Torquemada, Mathew Hopkins? Even Thomas More said that the smell of burning heretics was a perfume. Franco and what he did as a 'christian?' The Ruandan thing? Just a couple of samples of xians who are supposed to know and be better running loose.

.:webmaster:. said...

EG is a troll. He only posts to get reactions.

Sad.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Yeah, don't pay any attention to Goldie. He's the OT - Original Troll.

God said...

Atheist parents definitely make BAD parents! Says so in the Bible... somewhere in the back! Christian parents make GOOD parents because who in the right Christian mind would not cut her baby's arms off while the baby was still alive just to get Satan to leave him. I salute you Dana Schlosser! That is why Christian parents are better than Athiest parents.

Anonymous said...

1) Atheists hate christians.

Bull, my best friend is a devout christian, he even shushes me when I mouth off about the evils of religion. He's also gay, which is bizzare, y'know what with the hell thing an' all.

pitscan said...

I appreciate your list, but I beg to differ on a number of fronts, namely:

(note: my point #’s do not coincide with yours)

1. You incorrectly generalize all atheists by saying “no, we don’t” [hate Christians]. I agree with your fourth statement that atheists are not a unified group. I would say “many” atheists do not hate Christians, or even “most.” But let’s be honest – there are some who hate Christians with a hostile and intense passion.

2. Atrocities committed in the name of religion are no more the fault of religion than are the atrocities committed in the name of atheism. We could also point out the benevolent and good things springing from various worldviews, and Christianity wins this one hands down. No other organization in world history has made so many contributions to education, health care, welfare, and such. I have never seen a single atheist hospital, soup kitchen, etc. I realize this is due, in part, to the lack of a unified group, but it is precisely unified groups of Christians that have accomplished far more good than bad.

And tragedies that occur in the name of a cause are not always representative of that cause. Just because certain people are religious does not authorize them to speak and act for all religious people. For example, Applewhite (the guy who led a group to commit suicide when the Hale-Bopp comet approached) was a perversion of religion, and far from the norm.

We really need to avoid the obvious Hitler/Stalin name-calling games, but there are valid points to be made. Stalin was an atheist, and the Inquisition isn’t Christianity’s finest hour. These things are not necessarily indicators the underlying philosophy is at fault. These horrific tragedies more accurately indicate that humans (and not Christians or atheists or pagans or ???) are faulty.

3. I again see an unfair generalization in assuming Christians do not think and that they do not encourage others to think or use their minds. This is patently untrue. I have undeniable, empirically-observed evidence to the contrary: I’m a Christian, and I think, and I have often encouraged others to think as well. And I am not the only Christian to do so.

4. It won’t come as a surprise to most Christians that behavior can be motivated by things other than fear of punishment. Christianity teaches that we should love and respect each other. We try to do good because it is simply the right thing to do, even if it is unpopular.

I suppose this is a genetic fallacy of sorts … if the motivation came from fear then it must be a bad motivation. Don’t be so quick to dismiss fear. It shouldn’t be the only motivation, but one reason it is so effective is because it is often valid, especially in many non-religious settings. Healthy, rational, well-placed fear preserves lives.

5. Diversity among Christians vs. diversity among atheists? I won’t argue this one too much, but we’re a pretty wild and diverse group. Ask your Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, non-denominationalist, etc. This isn’t necessarily a good thing, but if you find diversity to be virtuous, then sign us up.

6. Sheep-like? I think a sheep in the arms of a loving Shepherd is a beautiful metaphor and consistent with Scripture. Thank you for noticing.

7. How do atheists *not* accept things on faith? Everyone has faith. Even atheists hold certain assumptions that are essentially accepted at face value without much investigation. I don’t think this is an inherently bad idea – we all do it.

Christians can’t empirically prove God does exist, but non-Christians cannot empirically prove He does not exist. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. At this level, we have to admit the role of faith. Yes, Christians are creatures of faith, but no more so than anyone else.

8. The existence of God is only obvious if you are brainwashed? This comes dangerously close to being offensive. I’m brainwashed because I disagree with you? Well, why can’t I say you’re the brainwashed one? Why can’t I say you don’t use your mind? If we’re going to bandy about this kind of rhetoric, it can be thrown in both directions.

Personal attacks have no place in an objective, logical argument. Numerous other statements in your post are cut from this same cloth. I’m not delusional, close-minded, etc. (If you say that I am, but just don’t know it, then I could say the same thing about you.)

9. There’s a general feeling of hostile superiority that runs through the whole post. For instance, you say that you’ve read the Bible, but that Christians don’t read your stuff. There are many Christians who don’t read your stuff, but there are also many atheists who don’t read our stuff. For the record, many Christians have read your stuff.

I feel like you’re painting my portrait from a photograph, but using a picture of someone else to do it. Yes, there are close-minded Christians out there, and they tend to be vocal, but let me assure you – they are not the majority, and they are not my representatives. It would be equally unfair of me to assume that all atheists are embezzling, overweight losers based on the example of Madelyn Murray O’Hare (and you’ve got to admit, she’s not the person you want on your recruiting posters).

10. You argue from a lack of experience to say that your life is not empty without God. If you’ve never experienced Christianity, then how do you know you are not empty? People have converted from atheism to Christianity and described the difference – I assume they are not lying. They appear qualified to make this kind of judgment. Personally, I cannot argue this point, but someone such as CS Lewis (who was an incredibly brilliant thinker) can. He described his conversion as a process he fought every step of the way, but could not resist the truth. If you are truly interested in reading “our” stuff, check this guy out.

11. I don’t agree with most of the meat of your points in #8. Some Christians do, but they are not consistent with historical Christianity. Famous Christians like John Calvin, Abraham Kuyper, Alvin Plantiga, and others have argued against this type of heresy. Like these great thinkers, I do believe Scripture teaches this is *not* the devil’s world. I also that this life is as real as it gets.

12. I’m an ordained minister that drives a ten year old car that I bought used for less than $3000. And I’m bald. Now, I know you’re going for the stereotypical Jim Bakker-esque picture to make a point, but it’s not really fair to paint all pastors as rich, big hair perverts. For every Bakker, there are thousands of generous, humble pastors. Anyone who thinks pastors are in it for the money is just plain wrong. About 85% of the pastors in America hold a second job just to pay the bills. We live check-to-check like most of America. If I had a nickel for every “pastors are money grubbers” comment I’ve heard …

13. Your point #15 is a prize. “All God has to do is …” How do you know that He isn’t/hasn’t? When you start with the presupposition that a miracle cannot take place, then it could happen right in front of your face, and you won’t see it.

What if I told you that I have personally experienced multiple miracles? What if I said that I am certain God exists based upon personal, observable, concrete events that can only be explained as supernatural in origin? I’m loathe to put words in your mouth, but I’m fairly certain that you (and almost every other atheist) would reject my experience as ignorant, misinterpreted, wrong, delusional, or some other such term. If we are going to throw the term “close minded” around, this might be an appropriate place to bring it up. Just because something fails to fit neatly into your assumptions does not make it acceptable or fair to reject another’s experiences out-of-hand.

I’m willing to admit that I’m wrong about Christianity – kinda. It would take an act of God (ha ha) to get me to change my mind, but I know it’s theoretically possible that I’m wrong. I don’t expect you to admit that Christianity might be right, but I would like to hear an atheist admit that perhaps some of their basic assumptions might be wrong.

15. Now it’s time for my big pet peeve: belief = reality. I cannot believe how many people confuse the two. My (and yours) beliefs do not dictate reality. The ontological nature of the universe is independent of faith. God is either real or not real. Hell is either real or not real. Heaven is either real or not real. You get the idea. If I believe in heaven, but I’m wrong about its reality, then I don’t go there when I die. The veracity of these ideas are not based upon individual belief or majority opinion.

I don’t get to set the standard for truth – I must discover what it is and align my beliefs with that objective and absolute truth. I’m afraid that many people get this backwards. “Whatever works is good for you” isn’t an adequate standard. It must be “Whatever is true is good for you.”

---

Ok, I feel better now that I’ve rattled off a few comments. It’s not a perfect reflection of my thoughts, and I’ve not spent much time proofing and editing. The opinions briefly expressed are my own, as are all errors and mistakes.

Have fun.

Bentley said...

pitscan posted on his website,

"Our spiritual health is dynamic and changes on a daily basis as we grow either weaker or stronger. God wants us to become more mature; unfortunately, there are significant obstacles to our growth, including Satan, the world, and our own sinful natures. We must carefully prepare ourselves if we are to live victorious Christian lives."

The only reason you believe this statement above is because you've heard this from a another human or read this from a book!

You were not born with that philosophy waiting and bursting at the seams to come out!

Simply put, you like all christians and ex-christains alike were indoctrinated!!

Just as you had no knowledge as to speak english until you were indoctrinated by repeating and mimicking what you heard other humans repeat.

Had you been born in Iran you would be speaking Arabic now in 2006 and bowing to Allah.

You are just repeating something that you've either heard or read from a book, this is not original knowledge springing from your brain, it is indoctrination, and not knowledge that you so boastingly and mindlessly rant!

Dave8 said...

Pitscan: "Christians can’t empirically prove God does exist, but non-Christians cannot empirically prove He does not exist."

I disagree... non-christians can prove that christians can't empirically know god.

Christianity by its own admission, states as if fact, that their god is immaterial, therefore... god can not ever be known by a corporeal/material being/human.

It's the christian who sets this standard of absurdity - not the non-christian. And, yes, a non-christian can prove the absurdity with basic logic.

The definition of "immaterial", is that it doesn't "exist" in a material universe. The christian disproves their own god, based on their own standards they assign to their god. I need do nothing more, than to accept their absurdity, as they proclaim, and diligently make note.

If you can't come to terms with the absurdity of the christian claims, then... might I suggest a more "logical" approach to existence.

Alan said...

pitscan wrote

What if I told you that I have personally experienced multiple miracles? What if I said that I am certain God exists based upon personal, observable, concrete events that can only be explained as supernatural in origin? I’m loathe to put words in your mouth, but I’m fairly certain that you (and almost every other atheist) would reject my experience as ignorant, misinterpreted, wrong, delusional, or some other such term.

pitscan, you are mistaken, many of us have an open mind and would like to see your evidence. The problem with the typical evidence presented is that it is psychological or medical in nature, and can be explained without having to invoke a "supernatural" being. If you have real evidence of God's existence than that evidence will withstand scrutiny, and it won't matter whether the observer is a believer or not. If your evidence is so fragile that you are afraid to reveal it then its not good evidence. I would add that its not up to us to prove God doesn't exist, the burden of proof is on you, since extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

pitscan said...

Wow. That was a quick response. I didn’t expect too much because this thread had been dead for a month or so. Without further ado, here I go again ...

Bentley said > You are just repeating something that you've either heard or read from a book, this is not original knowledge springing from your brain, it is indoctrination, and not knowledge that you so boastingly and mindlessly rant!”

I agree (to a degree) with what you just said. I am repeating something I read. Of course, this is not original knowledge springing from my own brain. Judeo-Christian values are thousands of years old. If I had said something truly original, I’m pretty sure I would have got shot down for proposing a new idea that greater minds than I have failed to realize earlier.

And while we’re talking about essentially plagiarizing other ideas, you need to be forthcoming as well. You didn’t exactly offer up a completely original rebuttal. I think we can all agree that nobody is going to reveal anything new in this forum. Aren’t we all just repeating arguments that have been used elsewhere?

Dave8 said > The definition of "immaterial", is that it doesn't "exist" in a material universe. The christian disproves their own god, based on their own standards they assign to their god. I need do nothing more, than to accept their absurdity, as they proclaim, and diligently make note.

This is a classic straw man fallacy built upon a thin layer of equivocation … You do not get to define terms for me, then prove my argument wrong based on your faulty definitions. If the burden of proof rests on my shoulders, then I get to define my own terms. I readily agree with you that the God you describe does not exist, but that is not God as I know Him. If we need a new forum to discuss the nature of God, then let’s do it, but so far, it looks beyond the scope of this blog entry.

Alan said > If your evidence is so fragile that you are afraid to reveal it then its not good evidence. I would add that its not up to us to prove God doesn't exist, the burden of proof is on you, since extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

This is a good, well-reasoned point. I think we (as in me and you) could talk productively on this issue.

I would argue that it’s not really relevant who proves what to who and in what order the proving must done. The burden of proof rests upon each individual. Everyone is responsible for their own beliefs and the behavior that flows from those beliefs. Presenting extensive, extraordinary evidence also seems beyond the scope of this blog entry. Is there a forum to discuss this elsewhere? To see a fair, reasoned approach from the Christian perspective, Josh McDowell has written several good books on the subject.

For the record (and I can already anticipate being flamed before I say anything), as I understand miracles, they are not designed to create faith where none is present, but to reinforce it where it is already present. Like a seed being watered grows into something larger, stronger and more fruitful. If there’s no seed in the soil, all of the water in the world won’t make something grow. You might think my answer is a cop-out, but what else can I say? I’m not afraid to admit that faith is important … and necessary.

pitscan said...

I was going to let some things go, but I'll chime again anyway. I just didn't want it to get in the way of the content in my previous post.

* You cannot compare language acquisition with religious upbringing. They are fundamentally different, and to argue otherwise demonstrates ignorance.

* Simply put, all christians were not indoctrinated. All I need is one example to refute this claim, but there are many who came to faith in God after rejecting atheism. CS Lewis and Josh McDowell (mentioned earlier) are just two such fine examples.

* "mindlessly and boastingly rant" -- That's a funny accusation coming from a guy with a severe case of "exclamation point-itis." You can call me many names, but I don't think mindless is even remotely fair. I might be thinking wrong, but I am definitely thinking about these issues.

* I'm all for appealing to logic, but Aristotle wouldn't recognize this as bona fide debate if it was taking place on his doorstep. For some reason, I feel like many atheists and Christians alike define "illogical" as "disagrees with me." It's entirely possible for both sides to present valid and sound arguments, but we are not even close to meeting those standards. Maybe after we get rid of the garbage we can address issues of cogency -- but I'm not hopeful.

Dave8 said...

Dave8: "The definition of "immaterial", is that it doesn't "exist" in a material universe. The christian disproves their own god, based on their own standards they assign to their god. I need do nothing more, than to accept their absurdity, as they proclaim, and diligently make note."

Pitscan: "This is a classic straw man fallacy built upon a thin layer of equivocation … You do not get to define terms for me,"

:-) Well, I suspected you were a christian, following basic christian doctrine. But, perhaps you aren't a basic christian :-)

Okay, I'll play. Is your god, immaterial/supernatural or natural? If you choose not to provide an answer, then you have no foundation to make further argument. Sure, you can keep your god as an individual belief, but... in order for you to pass on your knowledge, or argue your belief, it would appear you need to communicate your ideal of god, right?

Pitscan: "...then prove my argument wrong based on your faulty definitions. If the burden of proof rests on my shoulders, then I get to define my own terms."

Okay :-) I'm all ready for this one.

Pitscan: "I readily agree with you that the God you describe does not exist, but that is not God as I know Him."

Then you believe in a natural god? So... are you a pantheist, or a christian? Perhaps, you are a pantian? God has one foot in the material realm, and one foot in a heaven/immaterial realm?

Pitscan: "If we need a new forum to discuss the nature of God, then let’s do it, but so far, it looks beyond the scope of this blog entry."

Hmmmm, why don't you just provide a simple yes or no, to a material vs. an immaterial god, that will do just fine. You define the terms, by which I measure your ideal of god, fair enough? Or, is there some lengthy protocol you use, to define your god?

Dave8 said...

Pitscan: "It's entirely possible for both sides to present valid and sound arguments, but we are not even close to meeting those standards. Maybe after we get rid of the garbage we can address issues of cogency -- but I'm not hopeful."

This is a classic straw man fallacy built upon a thin layer of equivocation … You do not get to define what a valid or sound argument is for me, then prove that I am not meeting your standards.

Maybe after we get rid of the garbage we can address issues of cogency -- but I'm not hopeful.

Bentley said...

pitscan: And while we’re talking about essentially plagiarizing other ideas, you need to be forthcoming as well. You didn’t exactly offer up a completely original rebuttal. I think we can all agree that nobody is going to reveal anything new in this forum. Aren’t we all just repeating arguments that have been used elsewhere?

__________________________________

Just as you had no knowledge as to speak english until you were indoctrinated by repeating and mimicking what you heard other humans repeat.

Had you been born in Iran you would be speaking Arabic now in 2006 and bowing to Allah.

Well you glossed over the above statement and completely ignored Alan's comments, so it's plain you're not willing to go out of your religious box and admit that anything we have to say here could be a reflection of truth, because it would cut across your grain of indoctrination.

And besides anything that is discussed here needs to stay here, why do you want to go hide your comments somewhere else, because you are afraid one of your followers will perhaps see your true apostasy perhaps?

Why would you mention Aristotle? He's dead and we're alive, but yet you would prefer to put merrit upon a dead philsopher when even he had a different world view than we, the living today, well some of us that is.

Then you mention, "exclamation point-itis" is that the best you can do? Run back to mommy and get some better ideas will ya???

Your picture is that of an person that should have grown wiser with age, sorry you missed the boat of wisdom and intellectual honesty!!

Then you again,
" You cannot compare language acquisition with religious upbringing. They are fundamentally different, and to argue otherwise demonstrates ignorance.

You really insist in not getting it do you?

There is absolutely No Difference between language indoctrination and religious indoctrination.

You are what you've learned by repeating and mimicking regardless of what you insist in believing.

Your beliefs are a direct result of your up-bringing in your geographical area.

Had you been born in Boreno and Cannibalism was the norm, then you would find delite in eating human flesh, to ignore this fact is of plain ignorance on your part.

But I find you do not delite yourself in facts, when you mention faith.

Faith is not a commody, it's a word like a carrot on a stick to motivate the unsuspecting jackass down the cobblestone road.

boomSLANG said...

I'm all for appealing to logic, but Aristotle wouldn't recognize this as bona fide debate if it was taking place on his doorstep. For some reason, I feel like many atheists and Christians alike define "illogical" as "disagrees with me."

Pitscan---you classify yourself as a Christian, no? Notwithstanding, the atheist/agnostic position defines "illogical" as "not logical". You'd disagree with an Egyptian on the existance of Ra if he/she had no other evidence than a personal testimony, would you not? I'll assume "yes", for the moment, and ask---are you being "illogical" because you "disagree" with the assertion that Ra exists?

On the subject of the supernatural, or "metsphysical", the atheist/agnostic position is one of neutrality. We define "illogical" as contradictory to the scientific method; contrary to reason---again, "not logical"..i.e..a "married bachelor". Married bachelors not only don't exist...they can't exist.

I agree---it'd be a good idea for the one making the extraordinary claim to define "their" version of "God", so we can avoid further "strawman" arguments. However, based on the widely accepted theological description/definition of "God", I think we can safely say "God" is "limitless" and "perfect". Awaiting agreement, or rejection of this.

It's entirely possible for both sides to present valid and sound arguments, but we are not even close to meeting those standards.

I'm relieved to know you included yourself in not meeting the criteria for "sound arguments".

I readily agree with you that the God you describe does not exist, but that is not God as I know Him.

Fair enough. Okay, if you personally "know" God--the best thing to do next, would be to present your objective evidence for said God--remembering, of course, that you'd have to put limits on "God", to "know" said "God". Keeping this in mind when you present your evidence, we can avoid the "garbage" and get to the "issues of cogency", right?

pitscan said...

To Dave8 (don't worry, I'll get to the others too) >

First off, don’t act like I’ve been hiding behind something, when I clearly haven’t. I just stumbled across this blog today. You can see that I’m not shy ... and I’m far from afraid of saying what is on my mind. My initial post was a rebuttal to a misrepresentation of Christianity. My follow-ups have been a response to that rebuttal. I’ll go where the conversation flows...

Second, you can’t tell me what I believe. You are not even remotely attempting to objectively and realistically portray the Christian view of God. What you have done is construct a straw man – you define a caricature of God then easily refute that. I’d argue against your idea of God too. It’s not what Christians believe. If your understanding of our understanding of God is all I knew, then I’d think Christians were a bunch of absurd lunatics too.

If you want to be convincing, take on the finest definitions we have to offer (which we would preface with “it’s incomplete, but here goes ....”). Tackle Augustine or Anselm or Aquinas or any one of the many articulate proponents of Christianity. Beating up your idea of God is child’s play, but if you can dismantle those guys, then you’ve truly accomplished something.

Third, look up the definition of immaterial. In this context (and according to American Heritage Dictionary), it means “having no material body or form.” It does not mean nonexistent. We have another word for that ... it’s called “nonexistent.” There is no way in the world I would define God using your invalid definition (this is where you equivocate). Does God have a material body? No. Does that mean He cannot exist? To infer nonexistence from incorporeality is unsound reasoning.

One of the classic Christian terms for this aspect of God is transcendence. We would say God lies “beyond the ordinary range of perception” (kudos to American Heritage again). Is God playing the hokey-pokey (one foot in, one foot out of the material universe)? That’s like asking if you can smell the color nine. His nature transcends the concepts of location (ie, “in” and “out”).

Now, at this point the argument about God’s nature usually moves to territory usually reserved for people in the same philosophical neighborhood. Our basic assumptions are so incompatible that reasonable discussion is difficult.

Fourth, just what is a “simple yes or no” going to do for you? Why do so many people have the temerity to ask huge, big, difficult questions (such as those about the nature of God), yet require tiny, small, easy answers. It doesn’t really work that way. I’m not saying there’s a lengthy, drawn out process, but as far as this dialogue goes, would you really accept a single word answer? Both sides of this argument tend to shoot “fire and forget” questions at each other without really listening to the answers. Having the guts to ask tough questions is good, but the having the guts to sit still and consider the possible answers is something else entirely.

Fifth, validity and soundness are objective issues related to the structure and content of an argument. I do get to determine if something meets those standards (as do you). If your premises contain factual error or unsound reasoning, then I get to point it out. Cogency, on the other hand, is a personal, subjective issue. Using an incorrect definition is invalid. Drawing faulty inferences is unsound. First year philosophy students could spot these kinds of errors easily.

Bentley said...

Since you say this is your first visit, I had a long tirade for you, awww :-( but you're not ready to hear truth based upon reality, your truth is based upon faith, so with much disappointment. Much later my friend, sleep well!

pitscan said...

To Bentley >

Good grief. I don’t know where to begin.

I didn’t gloss over your “had you been born in Iran” comment. I’m doing my best to respond, but there’s a lot to address. Also, I didn’t ignore Alan’s comments – I asked for clarification. The ball’s in his court, and I’ll respond in due time. Give me a little break, ok?

Had I been born in Iran? What of it? I wasn’t born in Iran, so instead of talking about irrelevant hypothetical situations, let’s deal with what did happen. I was born in Alaska, and my parents are Christians. I do not agree with them about everything, and I have rejected many things I’ve been taught. Wouldn’t it be safe to say that I’m at least a little different than the typical Chrisitan?

Asking if there was someplace else to discuss this isn’t hiding. Look at the tiny little box we have to type in! This isn’t exactly the most conducive media for this type of discussion.

Mentioning Aristotle is a bad thing? I can’t win! If there ever was an authority on logic and reasoning, he would have to be a candidate. I’d like to ridicule your point here, but that would be like fishing in a barrel.

Run back to mommy? Accusing me of lacking wisdom and intellectual honesty? Aristotle would be very displeased, Mr. Ad Hominem.

Do you have any idea how language is acquired? Really, do you? Read a linguistics textbook before you embarrass yourself any further.

Why do so many of you insist on telling me where I got my beliefs and what they are? I’ll tell you if you would really like to know, but I’ve seen little evidence that you care. I can safely refute your claim that my beliefs are a function of the geographical locations in which I’ve lived. Of course, I fully expect to be called names for making that statement, but what can I do?

Cannibalism? Plain ignorance? I have nothing polite to say here.

You FINALLY make a statement that is worth arguing: “Faith is not a commody [sic].” We disagree. I think it is a commodity. Why do I fear that we might not be able to peacefully agree to disagree on this one?

pitscan said...

Boomslang >

I think we can talk. Thank you for trying to approach this rationally. It’s not an easy thing to do.

I do not define “illogical” as “disagrees with me” but that is the vibe I get from lots of folks. I also disagree with part of your definitions of “illogical.” To be sure, it is “not logical,” but now we need to define logic. Will you accept “valid and sound reasoning” as a suitable definition?

I think you carry it a little too far to equate the scientific method as *the* standard for logic. Something can be logical, yet fall outside the ken of the scientific method; however, it cannot be logical if it is contrary to valid and sound reasoning. Your married bachelor is a great example of illogical. Love, freedom, or any of the many other abstract concepts are not subject to direct scientific analysis. Knowledge can be derived from other sources.

To describe God as limitless and perfect is consistent with the widely held view of God, but it is far from complete. There’s a traditional list of other attributes or characteristics that could be mentioned here. I could supply a rudimentary list, but I would prefer to defer to Aquinas and others more learned than I. Would you accept URLs instead?

Would you fairly characterize many of the statements directed at me today as sound, valid, and objective? I can’t help but think you cringe whenever you read some of the stuff written by others on your “team.”

I suppose at this point I should present some objective evidence. I’ve got an appointment to keep (please don’t say I’m dodging anything – have you seen how much I’ve written today!?), but for now, I defer to someone smarter than I. Google “Aquinas” and “proof of the existence of God.” That may not be the best place to start, but off the top of my head it should suffice.

I’d appreciate a little clarification on your last paragraph. Can you restate this for me? I want to make sure I understand you correctly: “ ... present your objective evidence for said God --remembering, of course, that you'd have to put limits on ‘God’, to ‘know’ said ‘God’. Keeping this in mind when you present your evidence, we can avoid the ‘garbage’ and get to the ‘issues of cogency’, right?”

boomSLANG said...

Is God playing the hokey-pokey (one foot in, one foot out of the material universe)? That’s like asking if you can smell the color nine.

So then, like the number nine, "God" is an idea/concept?....and it's up to man to describe this "idea" by assigning properties to represent it, in order to have a universal functioning concept? Hell yeah...I'll buy that for nine bucks. So, who has the one true representation of "God"?...the Muslims, right? lol

His nature transcends the concepts of location (ie, “in” and “out”).

"His" nature? I don't remember the number nine having a penis. So I guess it's a good time to ask---does this transcendental "God" have male anatomy? If so, I guess "he" is playing the "hokey-pokey", after all.

This "God" transcends "yes or no" questions, but for a description/definition, please see "X, Y, and Z's" books in the Christian apologetic's section of your local book store.

There's nothin' new going on here.

Dave8 said...

Pitscan: "First off, don’t act like I’ve been hiding behind something, when I clearly haven’t."

Paranoid?

Pitscan: "I just stumbled across this blog today."

Oops, my fingers slipped, and they wouldn't quit typing...

Pitscan: "You can see that I’m not shy ... and I’m far from afraid of saying what is on my mind. My initial post was a rebuttal to a misrepresentation of Christianity. My follow-ups have been a response to that rebuttal. I’ll go where the conversation flows..."

Here we go :-)

Pitscan: "Second, you can’t tell me what I believe."

Dave8: "You define the terms, by which I measure your ideal of god, fair enough?"

I'll let that speak for iteself.

Pitscan: "You are not even remotely attempting to objectively and realistically portray the Christian view of God."

See previous comment, perhaps you should just go ahead and "objectively" and "realistically" portray the Christian view of God. I mean, I can only ask so many times.

Pitscan: "What you have done is construct a straw man – you define a caricature of God then easily refute that."

Still, waiting on "your" ideal of a god, that I have been asking for, based on "your" terms.

Pitscan: "I’d argue against your idea of God too. It’s not what Christians believe."

Uh, huh, are we getting somewhere with this? or is this some stall tactic?

Pitscan: "If your understanding of our understanding of God is all I knew, then I’d think Christians were a bunch of absurd lunatics too."

So, it's okay for me to think you absurd, if all I know, is my understanding, and your understanding of God?

Pitscan: "If you want to be convincing, take on the finest definitions we have to offer (which we would preface with “it’s incomplete, but here goes ....”)."

What does .... mean, exactly?

Pitscan: "Tackle Augustine or Anselm or Aquinas or any one of the many articulate proponents of Christianity."

Been there done that, found them lacking. However, you still have a chance to propose an argument. Well, that is... if you can articulate one, perhaps you can bring one of their arguments forward, if you lack one for yourself. That would be just fine.

Dave8: "Beating up your idea of God is child’s play, but if you can dismantle those guys, then you’ve truly accomplished something."

Again, waiting for you to either present your argument/dialogue, or pull one from them...

Here's a link for St. Anselm of Canterbury. I'll await your response.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anselm_of_Canterbury

Pitscan: "Third, look up the definition of immaterial. In this context (and according to American Heritage Dictionary), it means “having no material body or form.” It does not mean nonexistent."

Material:
–noun 1. the substance or substances of which a thing is made or composed: Stone is a durable material.

2. anything that serves as crude or raw matter to be used or developed: Wood pulp is the raw material from which paper is made.

3. any constituent element.

4. a textile fabric: material for a dress.

5. a group of ideas, facts, data, etc., that may provide the basis for or be incorporated into some integrated work: to gather material for a history of North Carolina; to write material for a comedy show.

6. materials, the articles or apparatus needed to make or do something: writing materials.

7. a person considered as having qualities suited to a particular sphere of activity: The boy's teachers did not think he was college material.

–adjective 8. formed or consisting of matter; physical; corporeal: the material world.

9. relating to, concerned with, or involving matter: material forces.

10. pertaining to the physical rather than the spiritual or intellectual aspect of things: material comforts.

11. pertaining to or characterized by an undue interest in corporeal things; unspiritual.

12. of substantial import; of much consequence; important: Your support will make a material difference in the success of our program.

13. pertinent or essential (usually fol. by to): a question not material to the subject at hand.

14. Law. likely to influence the determination of a case: material evidence.

15. Philosophy. of or pertaining to matter as distinguished from form.

[Origin: 1300–50; ME < LL materialis of, belonging to matter. See matter, -al1]

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/material

So, your god has no "matter" or "form", but yet exists?

But, you are making this claim from a "material" platform, called your brain.

So, at what point does your mind become immaterial when you think of god? Woudl you suggest then, that you must "lose" your material mind, in order to understand God?

Pitscan: "We have another word for that ... it’s called “nonexistent.”"

Well, if your material mind, is non-existent, I can understand how you could perceive a non-existent god, if you like.

Pitscan: "There is no way in the world I would define God using your invalid definition (this is where you equivocate). Does God have a material body? No. Does that mean He cannot exist? To infer nonexistence from incorporeality is unsound reasoning."

So, again, if god is made of no matter, and no form, then... what do you propose god is made out of?

Pitscan: "One of the classic Christian terms for this aspect of God is transcendence. We would say God lies “beyond the ordinary range of perception” (kudos to American Heritage again)."

Ah, transcendence, that which is beyond material "existence".

Transcendence:

adj.

1. Surpassing others; preeminent or supreme.

2. Lying beyond the ordinary range of perception: “fails to achieve a transcendent significance in suffering and squalor” (National Review).

3. Philosophy.

a. Transcending the Aristotelian categories.

b. In Kant's theory of knowledge, being beyond the limits of experience and hence unknowable.

4. Being above and independent of the material universe. Used of the Deity.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/transcendence

So, if your mind is material, and you live in a material universe, how is it your mind is able to perceive without sensory experience a transcendent form? Do you go out of your mind often?

Pitscan: "Is God playing the hokey-pokey (one foot in, one foot out of the material universe)? That’s like asking if you can smell the color nine. His nature transcends the concepts of location (ie, “in” and “out”)."

So, not in/out? Then, nonexistent with in/out? Smell and seeing are two senses, that exist in the material realm. Your god is transcendent, you don't get the privilage of using your senses. Begs the question, how you came to know of god to begin with... if god is transcendent, and immaterial.

Pitscan: "Now, at this point the argument about God’s nature usually moves to territory usually reserved for people in the same philosophical neighborhood."

I can see that. There is the group who accept they live in this material universe, and that they can not possibly talk about things which they can not honestly verify with a straight face. And, then... there is the other group, who has no problem taking the other position.

Pitscan: "Our basic assumptions are so incompatible that reasonable discussion is difficult."

I don't know, seems pretty civil so far. We haven't left material and transcendence. If you concede you have to be out of your mind, in order to know god, then, I can accept that :-)

Pitscan: "Fourth, just what is a “simple yes or no” going to do for you?"

You wanted to set the terms, why wouldn't I let you found your argument? It's your argument we are looking at.

Pitscan: "Why do so many people have the temerity to ask huge, big, difficult questions (such as those about the nature of God), yet require tiny, small, easy answers."

Well, if your definition of "god" is "incomplete", may I suggest you go back out of your mind, to get some more answers?

Pitscan: "It doesn’t really work that way."

Then, please, by all means, tell me and everyone else in the world looking at your post and picture, what you really mean.

Pitscan: "I’m not saying there’s a lengthy, drawn out process, but as far as this dialogue goes, would you really accept a single word answer?"

Yep, if your god is immaterial, transcendent, and you live in this material world... you can't possibly know that "god", unless you become immaterial yourself. In other words, you have to be an incorporeal being, to make such a statement... that would be like a ghost, right?

Pitscan: "Both sides of this argument tend to shoot “fire and forget” questions at each other without really listening to the answers."

I'm really trying to focus in on your definition of god, and how you see yourself fitting in the universe. I mean, I accept myself as being material, and any god I would want to suggest, would have to be perceived through my material senses, I'm just trying to see another point of view - if possible.

Pitscan: "Having the guts to ask tough questions is good, but the having the guts to sit still and consider the possible answers is something else entirely."

Been at it for years, and have about fifty plus years left, based on the mean age of my genetic tree - unless of course, I can continue in an incorporeal form infinitely...

Pitscan: "Fifth, validity and soundness are objective issues related to the structure and content of an argument. I do get to determine if something meets those standards (as do you)."

And, I applaud you for presenting some information, even if it's incomplete, and you had to be out of your mind to present it.

Pitscan: "If your premises contain factual error or unsound reasoning, then I get to point it out."

Surely, I would expect no less.

Pitscan: "Cogency, on the other hand, is a personal, subjective issue."

All human endeavors are subjective to some degree, the basic meaning of objective is "without human prejudice". In short, you can't talk totally objective, unless you are no longer a "subject" of humanity, but... if you are able to be out of your mind, I suppose you could also be an objective incorporeal being, making absolute objective arguments.

Pitscan: "Using an incorrect definition is invalid."

What word should we use to describe something that we can not sense or experience?

Pitscan: "Drawing faulty inferences is unsound. First year philosophy students could spot these kinds of errors easily."

I agree, my first year of philosophy was about, oh, a decade ago, got an "A", and then I graduated. How about you?

Dave8 said...

boomSLANG, you're a hoot :-)

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
boomSLANG said...

I’d appreciate a little clarification on your last paragraph. Can you restate this for me? I want to make sure I understand you correctly:

boom': “ ... present your objective evidence for said God --remembering, of course, that you'd have to put limits on ‘God’, to ‘know’ said ‘God’. Keeping this in mind when you present your evidence, we can avoid the ‘garbage’ and get to the ‘issues of cogency’, right?”

I would have to get answers to my other questions before I can make sure this still applies, considering your newest post. You alluded "no" to the answer to the question of whether God is both immaterial and material..i.e.."playing hokey-pokey". Well, I think I've shown that that's precisely what "God" is doing, until you can explain how a immaterial idea/concept has a "penis".

Again, I'm sorry, but thus far, I see nothing new in your position. And BTW, URLs..i.e.."internet authority" won't suffice anymore than if you were claiming that hermaphrodites make better lovers, and then gave me a link to "Inboard/Outboard Honeys.com", to support the claim.

You see my point, I hope.


PS: Thanks D8...that was another one for ya.

pitscan said...

To Boomslang>
Where do I begin? I had assumed that we could have a fair, reasonable conversation. I think I sorely misjudged you. Sorry about that … I won’t let that happen again.

Do I believe God is a concept? Sure. So are you and I. We’re also more than a mere concept, as is God. Who has the “one true representation” of God? I don’t think we’re at a point where this conversation can bear that level of debate. You guys have me chasing down so many ridiculous rabbit trails that we’ll never that far.

Case in point: I distinctly and plainly said that God did not have a body. Your little “He” has a penis crack, while witty, is utterly imbecilic. I’d expect an eighth grader to make a comment like that.

It’s called anthropomorphism, and it’s pretty common worldwide. Humans routinely ascribe human qualities to non-human entities. Watch Disney. Look at the USS Nimitz -- seaman call it a “her” and I don’t think you’ve got anybody looking for a giant, steel vagina on “her” keel. I think you knew you were tossing up a piece of crap on this one before you even hit the “publish” button. You should be ashamed of yourself.

And why in the world do you keep saying “nothing new going on here” as if there’s something wrong with that? I AGREE. I am completely certain that nobody participating in this “discussion” will contribute a single new idea to the grand atheism/theism debate. People much smarter than us have been wrestling with this for far longer. We’re all a bunch of armchair philosophers repeating arguments that others have already made.

You had another post, which I’ll address later. I’m going through these in chronological order.

To Dave8>
“I can only ask so many times.” You want my objective portrayal of God? I’ve agreed to only four basic words so far (immaterial, transcendent, limitless, and perfect), and I cannot get somebody to repeat my understanding back to me in a way that shows comprehension. I know … you’re still waiting for more.

Somehow, this blog entry has strayed far, far off course. I responded to an article written by AtheistMommy who tried to clear the air about ways that Christians misunderstand atheists. In doing so, she demonstrated that atheists also misrepresent Christians. I rebutted some of her statements, and now it’s been turned into a wide-open free-for-all on the nature of the Christian idea of God. I thought people posting comments should try to stick to the title on the page, and tried to limit my comments to the gap of understanding between Christians and atheists. Everything I’ve seen since that post only reinforces my conviction that you don’t understand us. I hear you say “it’s been civil,” but I feel like I’ve been insulted quite enough already.

So, instead of trying to bridge that gap, I’ve been put on the defensive. I pop in here as a guest and get treated like a birthday piñata. This isn’t a discussion or a debate. It’s a farce. You’d rather play “pin the penis on God” (or congratulate someone else for doing so) than reasonably interact.

I know, you’re still waiting for my description of God. I’ll get there, but I’ve got to respond to the rest of your post.

Ok … let me explain the straw man fallacy. If you want to decisively win an argument, go after the strongest, most articulate proponent of the opposition. For example, if you’re an evolutionist who believes in gradualism who was debating another evolutionist who believed in punctuated equilibrium, then you should try to take down Stephen Gould (the standard bearer for PE). You could more easily confuse and beat up on a lesser proponent of the view (a straw man), but then all you did was beat a man and not a message.

You can beat me with a stupid stick until I’m deaf and dumb, and all you’ve done is beat up on a pudgy bald man. Think of it in athletic terms. Good teams want to beat good teams. What kind of accomplishment is it for the Colts to pummel the Lions? Anybody can do that. But the Colts knock off the Broncos and Patriots on the road in back-to-back games? Now that’s saying something. I’m the Lions. Why don’t you try Anselm or Augustine?

And I don’t believe you’ve really “been there done that” with these guys. They’re in the class of Locke, Hume, Nietzsche, Sartre, and other great thinkers. These guys would not have agreed with Anselm’s conclusions, but they would not have summarily dismissed him as “lacking.” This bona fide genius constructed sound and valid arguments that merely failed their standard for cogency. And before you jump on me for this statement, please make sure you know what sound, valid, and cogent mean when it comes to formulating an argument.

Now, I’m finally deep enough into post to get (kinda) back on topic. I agree that God is not composed of matter and he has no physical form. So far, so good. You then take some weird leap and I cannot figure out how you got there: “you are making this claim from a ‘material’ platform …” From this point, you are on some other track that has no relevance to the Christian idea of God. It is at this layer of your argument that you commit a serious enough error that everything else that follows is worthless for argumentative purposes.

You appear to be assuming that I must be the source of my own idea of God, ie, my claims come from my material brain. It doesn’t. Knowledge is divided into two broad categories: a priori knowledge (this is the classic epistemological term used to describe things we know apart from experience) and a posteriori knowledge. Only the latter is derived from sensation, while the former is independent of it. You say that I have no empirical proof for my idea of God, and I agree.

This is where we need to introduce another term: immanence. Christians believe that God reveals His nature to His creatures. How do I know about the immaterial, transcendent God? Because He’s immanent. We know about God because He wants us to know about Him. If He was not immanent, then your original argument would not be flawed, and my position would be in deep doo-doo. So, I’m not “out of my mind,” but “on God’s mind.”

It should also be obvious to you that Christians consider God to be ontologically unique (there’s another term for you). We’re okay with the fact that we do not completely comprehend God – He’s bigger than us. We’re less capable of completely grasping God than a nine year old is of completely grasping quantum physics. We think that’s a good thing. I don’t have to be out of mind to admit that I haven’t completely mastered a topic. That’s humble and realistic – traits which should be respected rather than ridiculed.

Back to Boom>
I have no idea how you can say that my suggestion to read on online edition of Aquinas’ proofs for the existence of God (it’s short, you know) is the same thing as a claim that hermaphrodites make better lovers. Go ahead and pat yourself on the back for that one. It’s funnier than God’s penis, but no more accurate. You asked for an argument, and I “brought one forward” under the limited time that I had.

I did not cite an amorphous internet as an authority. I cited Aquinas. He wrote that over seven hundred years ago. Again, I have to believe that you know better and were just going for a laugh. How about a fair shake? That’s not too much to ask.

pitscan said...

If you’re willing to move on, let’s play a little game:

I want to start with a single premise: everything is not the same. Is this a simple enough statement upon which we can agree? Every distinct ontological entity in the universe has some value, just not the same value. Compare a man and a blade of grass. Which carries greater ontological significance? I would say man does. If we’re going to argue about this, then there’s no point going forward. If we can move forward, I’ll try to show you how to construct a valid, sound argument from this premise for the existence of God.

And yes, I’m ripping it off of somebody else (thank you Anselm). It’s not new with me. He explains this much better than I.

Back to the argument: if all things are not equally significant, it is reasonable to assume that some things are more significant than others. For the purpose of this exercise, let’s simply define God as the greatest possible being in the universe. I’m not pushing the Christian idea here … just a general theist idea. Whatever the greatest possible being in the universe is, I’ll call god. You can call it Supreme Being, the Force, Al Gore, whatever.

To play the game, imagine something … anything. Now, ask yourself what is greater than the thing you imagined. Keep asking yourself this same question for each thing you imagine. Keep going until you can’t imagine something greater. You would eventually have an idea in your mind – the greatest possible being. I’d like you to share your final picture. Tell all of us what your greatest possible being looks like.

If you’re really open-minded, and willing to humor me (trust me … if this blows up in my face, you’ll have tons of material to laugh at when you’re all gathered around the fireplace in the old atheist’s home), I’ll let you define God … the greatest possible being. Feel free to throw ideas in there that you think are contrary to the Christian idea of God. If someone posts one idea, and you can conceive of a greater one, then go for it.

Now, I’ve seen nothing so far that would indicate to me anyone on this board will take up the challenge (yes, I’m trying to goad you into doing it). Go ahead and try it. I double-dog dare you.

.:webmaster:. said...

Armchair philosophizing is an interesting exercise, but provides nothing in the form of verifiable evidence for anything.

Having an active imagination is evidence of having an active imagination, and that's about all.

From Pitscan's website: There are significant obstacles to our (spiritual) growth, including Satan, the world, and our own sinful natures. We must carefully prepare ourselves if we are to live victorious Christian lives.

Our success requires ... knowing the tactics of our enemies, and knowing the resources available to each child of God. The PITscan can help you discern this vital information.


Perhaps you're not getting enough traffic on your own site to keep you busy, but frankly, reading huge quantities of your bizarre nonsense here is becoming annoying. This site was created to encourage ex-Christians, not to provide a soapbox for crusading religious fanatics. Please honor that.

And, just an observation: You are too quick with the self-applause. Your overconfidence in your ability to effectively communicate your ideas is striking. Think about it — if you really were saying something people wanted to hear, you wouldn't be coming to us, we'd be coming to you.

Have a nice day.

boomSLANG said...

To Boomslang> Where do I begin?

You begin by understanding that you came to us, regardless of the "why", and this is an EX-christian website. Fair enough?(rhetorical)

You end by understanding that the following things: ad hominem; assumptions; apologetic soundbites; URLs to Christian philosophers; secondhand heresy; amateur evangelism; diversions; analogies; your opinion(i.e..on the original article)......and yes, even if you had proof for a non-personal, universal entity..i.e.."God"(which thus far, you have yet to provide) none of these things are evidence that Christianity is an objective universal "Truth™". BTW, you want me to understand you as an individual, right? You do the same. Speaking of...


Disclaimer: I use humor, sarcasm, irony, etc..when I communitcate with others. When I do so, it not an attempt to show that Atheism is true. Example: If I say to my opponent: "So God has weiner?"..it doesn't mean that Atheism is true. It also doesn't mean that Atheism is false, and therefore Christianity is "True". You get the point.

(more later..it's a holiday)

Jim Arvo said...

To pitscan,

I apologize for barging into this lengthy discussion so late, and for cherry-picking a few items to discuss; the volume of your posts is already far more than I can hope to respond to point-by-point. I further apologize if my comments are now somewhat out-of-date.

First, I'd like to point out that your initial objections contain some semantic nitpicking. If the phrase "No we don't [hate Christians]" is interpreted narrowly as "No, none of us hate Christians," then it is susceptible to disproof by a single counter-example, as you point out. However, in my view, this is something akin to a straw man. If interpreted more reasonably (and much more verbosely) as "No, the broad assertion that we hate Christians is false, as very many of us clearly do not", then your objection disappears. Since I think we can all agree that there exists at least one atheist who hates Christians, what would be the point of arguing the former?

Next, you tout the beneficence of Christian organization while dismissing "atheist" groups. First, it is by no means clear to me that the net effect of Christianity has been positive, given the blight of the Dark Ages, the hideous social stigmas (e.g. against homosexuals) that it fuels, and the enormous obstacles that it has thrown up to past social reforms (e.g. abolishing slavery), to mention but a few. I have no problem acknowledging that there are thousands of "faith-based" organizations that do some good; what I am not convinced of is that the "faith" part is in itself a net gain for society. Second, you claim that there are no "atheist" organizations doing good works. If you substitute the word "secular", your statement is blatantly false. You see, there is very little need to label anything as "atheist", as there is no doctrine to perpetuate.

Next, you downplay the role of fear in Christianity, saying "Christianity teaches that we should love and respect each other. We try to do good because it is simply the right thing to do, even if it is unpopular." I could just as easily substitute "secular humanism", or "Buddhism", or "Hinduism" for "Christianity" in that sentence. The question is how effectively do these work, and what else do they teach? Surely you cannot claim that Christianity does not also teach that "hate" is sometimes justified, and is even exhibited by your god.

Concerning faith you said "How do atheists *not* accept things on faith? Everyone has faith. Even atheists hold certain assumptions that are essentially accepted at face value without much investigation." Here you equivocate. Failing to examine an assumption is not the same as "faith". (If you believe it is, then that is the weakest definition of faith I have come across.) Faith usually connotes an explicit willingness to accept something more fervently than is warranted by the available evidence. I assert that this is precisely where most atheists differ with theists. I do not have "faith" in scientific theories, for example, because I am willing to toss them out if they do not comport with reality. I try to apply this principle broadly, as do many (most?) atheists.

You accuse the original poster (and, presumably, "us" in general) of attacking a straw man god. You seem to imply that your definition escapes these criticisms (this remains to be seen), which renders the arguments moot. While it's possible that your conception of god is better conceived, your notion (whatever it is) is simply one of many. Surely you acknowledge that religionists have widely varying conceptions of god. If a counterargument does not apply to you, that does not in itself make the argument a straw man unless it was specifically deployed against you (especially after you have clearly articulated your idea).

In my view, you along with all other apologists have two fundamentally different hurdles to clear if you wish to convince anybody of your theology. The first is relatively minor, and a bright apologist can clear it with a little work. The second is formidable, and I've yet to see an apologist come anywhere near clearing it. These hurdles are 1) definitional, and 2) ontological. You must first give us a consistent theology that is "meaningful" and not self-defeating (as, I believe, the better apologists can in fact do), and then you must show us credible evidence that this theology does in fact correspond to reality. Here is a brief synopsis of how this invariably plays out (based on my experience). The first hurdle is cleared by constructing an elaborate edifice that conveniently exists in "another realm", or "outside space and time", or "beyond our understanding", and asserting that "god has his reasons", or that "god's ways are not the ways of man", etc. One can thereby assert the existence of solutions to every riddle (such as the existence of "evil", or the ghastly behavior of the OT god) without fear of being directly refuted. But the second hurdle now looms large, and the chicanery used in clearing the first hurdle becomes an anchor about the apologist's foot. How does one demonstrate the existence of, or even provide some slender evidence for, this invisible realm populated by "transcendent" beings?

I believe you have only two options: personal revelation and objectively observable evidence. The former consists of events that you have personally "experienced" that are not directly available to us for examination, and the latter consists of physical artifacts/events such as archeological sites, ancient texts, and observations of nature. It is the latter that dominates most of our discussions here, as it includes exegesis, world history, evolution, cosmology, etc. Almost every field of study can come into play. If I'm not mistaken, you seem to favor the former, citing "miracles" that you have personally witnessed. If this information is impossible to transfer to us (as many attest), then all discussion of it is moot, is it not? If, on the other hand, you wish to convince us of the reality of what you experienced, then you are in effect attempting to move it into the domain of objectively observable evidence, which we can then examine and reason about. Countless apologists take this latter approach, claiming that certain events "defy logic" or "defy physical laws", or are "absurdly improbable". In my experience, all such claims disintegrate under scrutiny, but I clearly cannot claim to know that all such arguments will suffer this fate. So, let's hear your definitions, and why we should believe that they correspond to reality.

Bentley said...

WM I apologize for feeding the fundy troll, but I was responding to him once before and I would like to tell this pseudo philosopher by his own admission in his last post unbenounced to him, by his own swelled headed is that, the Christian God is only an idea and he his correct. As shown below in his own words!

pitscan: I’m not pushing the Christian idea here … just a general theist idea. Whatever the greatest possible being in the universe is, I’ll call god. You can call it Supreme Being, the Force, Al Gore, whatever.

pitscan: Keep asking yourself this same question for each thing you imagine. Keep going until you can’t imagine something greater. You would eventually have an idea in your mind – the greatest possible being.

pitscan: I’ll let you define God … the greatest possible being. Feel free to throw ideas in there that you think are contrary to the Christian idea of God. If someone posts one idea, and you can conceive of a greater one, then go for it.

_____________________________________

Any God (pick your favorite)is only an idea, a construct, a conceptual premise and passed on to others by indoctrination only!

You see pitscan, you're like the dog that forgot to poop ouside of his own yard, You stepped in your own poop!

The Bible (and all religious books)are an allegoric to man's mental constructs (idea)(s).

pitscan, you've not matured yet, you're not prepared to accept or deal with truth.

Simply put, you're not loaded for Bear, and you're no challenge for this websight. So go soak in your loathsome self.

Try thinking for yourself instead of listening to your apologetic dead man philosophers.

Alan said...

pitscan wrote:


I would argue that it’s not really relevant who proves what to who and in what order the proving must done.

Presenting extensive, extraordinary evidence also seems beyond the scope of this blog entry

...as I understand miracles, they are not designed to create faith where none is present, but to reinforce it where it is already present....

I’m not afraid to admit that faith is important … and necessary



Bottom line: you don't have any evidence.

boomSLANG said...

Bottom line: you don't have any evidence.

This isn't entirely true--he has enough "evidence" to convince himself, but not enough to convince all of mankind. This is the part that religionists fail to grasp.

Dave8 said...

Pitscan: "“I can only ask so many times.” You want my objective portrayal of God? I’ve agreed to only four basic words so far (immaterial, transcendent, limitless, and perfect), and I cannot get somebody to repeat my understanding back to me in a way that shows comprehension. I know … you’re still waiting for more."

No, I truly get what you are saying. Again, you have a material brain, which believes it can connect with an immaterial/non-existent material being - you're able to leave your mind to accomplish this in some fashion.

Then, you mentally model, this materially non-existent ideal/concept (which is really materially created in the materially based human brain, using materially stimulated senses) outside of your material universe - call it transcendence/heaven.

While you are at this mental modelling game of anthropomorphism, you assign it attributes, such as "perfect", and "limitless". Two factors that have never been known to you, or anyone in history. To be "perfect", means to be without "change". Change has been considered/understood as a "constant", in the material universe since, oh, since recorded history. Hence, the need for christianity in its early inception, to "remove" their ideal "outside" of the material and universal realm, because for "god" to be perfect and limitless, god can not "change".

Please, by all means, correct me, if I haven't captured something to this point that I may have missed with my materially based senses :-)

Since you brought up philosophy and academics, I would like to share, that I am degreed with honors in social science, and am currently heading towards a degree within the boston area, in another... but closely related field.

I say this, so that you understand I am taking what you are proposing purely (as best possible in my subjective being) from an academic point of view...

Psychosis:

1. a mental disorder characterized by symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, that indicate impaired contact with reality.

2. any severe form of mental disorder, as schizophrenia or paranoia.

[Origin: 1840–50; < LGk psy??ch?sis animation, principle of life. See psych-, -osis]

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/psychosis

Psychosis, is a diagnosis of someone breaking beyond the societal norm, in the area of reality comprehension.

Now, let me couch what I am saying, so that you don't whip out an ol' Freudian defensive mechanism.

Are all christians, insane or in the common vernacular - retarded? No. They just deviate from the norm, more so, than others, in the aspects of material comprehension and acceptance.

Ah,,, the material realm, and those that accept it, and then, those who don't. They "kinda'" like to play the... what did you call it - the... hokey-pokey? You know, they keep one foot in the material realm, while suggesting they are "really" connected to some "other" realm - fill in "other" with your particular flavor of supernatural - out of the universe being.

Perhaps, what allows some to appear really smart, without going insane... is in their cognitive ability to "balance", the hokey-pokey dance. Some call it being intellectually dishonest to promote such ideas as "fact", becuase in "fact", the immaterial "god", can be proven not to exist, in a "material" realm - it's how definitions work. It's why dear Pitscan, the ideally modelled big-dog was placed outside the material "realm" and in a state of transcendence. The early christian "god" was run out of the universe, because of the early philosophers and scholars.

So, you see... you are quite right to suggest that your god is understood by christians as perfect, limitless, transcendent, and immaterial... however, if you inspect history closely, you will see that the christian god, was first, immaterial, then material/semi-material, then immaterial once again. This morphism, was choreographed, using metaphor, allegory, and many other literary techniques, all bound in one complete set of books (special selections only by the council of members who chose the books), called a "canon", or "bible.

One has to imagine how they "first" knew a "transcendent" god existed in the first place, if all people at one time existed "only", in this natural/material realm, right? If a "god" showed up, in a material/semi-material (gnostic) form, then they are of "this" material realm, there is nothing to suggest different.

Pitscan: "Somehow, this blog entry has strayed far, far off course. I responded to an article written by AtheistMommy who tried to clear the air about ways that Christians misunderstand atheists."

However, this appears to be what we are talking about. I'm trying to see your point of view, so that there is clearly, no misunderstanding.

Pitscan: "In doing so, she demonstrated that atheists also misrepresent Christians."

Well, lets not speak in generalizations, there are shades of gray, no two people seem to be "perfect"ly, the same, don't you agree.

Pitscan: "I rebutted some of her statements, and now it’s been turned into a wide-open free-for-all on the nature of the Christian idea of God. I thought people posting comments should try to stick to the title on the page, and tried to limit my comments to the gap of understanding between Christians and atheists."

Well, perhaps, sticking to the topic is responding to statements couched in between paragraphs, such as you posted below.

Pitscan: "Christians can’t empirically prove God does exist, but non-Christians cannot empirically prove He does not exist. Absence of proof is not proof of absence. At this level, we have to admit the role of faith. Yes, Christians are creatures of faith, but no more so than anyone else."

You opened the Pandora's Box, not I. Currently, we are focusing on what "you" stated...

"non-Christians cannot empirically prove He does not exist."

If "god" as you say, is "immaterial", then, by your own admission, "god", in "fact" does not "empirically" (using matter as a means by which to measure) exist. That's been the exercise here, Mr. Pitscan. Perhaps, you should say something like...

"non-christians cannot non-empirically prove the non-empirical god exists"...

Of course, that would open you up for a follow up question, like...

"How does one leave the empirically based world, to make non-empirical statements?"

And, of course, you would refer, like most christians back to the bible, for your answer, which... by the way, stares back at you, in material/empirically based form.

Pitscan: "Everything I’ve seen since that post only reinforces my conviction that you don’t understand us."

Mr. Pitscan, I went to a christian university for four years, I took more religious survey courses, founded by the Southern Baptist Convention... I am quite aware, as to the basic doctrinal teachings, and general interpretations of the christian tradition. You know why they now call Christmas, christianity, etc,. "tradition", right? Because, a tradition doesn't make a statement of "fact", just "acceptance". Personally, I accept Christmas as a "tradition", but... I know the "reason" for the "season", if you catch my drift - solstice.

Pitscan: "So, instead of trying to bridge that gap, I’ve been put on the defensive."

Perhaps, being a little more conservative in your wording would prevent further dialogue.

Pitscan: "I pop in here as a guest and get treated like a birthday piñata."

Batter up :-) I just want the goodies that are inside, to flow, instead of holding it all in selfishly :-)

Pitscan: "This isn’t a discussion or a debate. It’s a farce. You’d rather play “pin the penis on God” (or congratulate someone else for doing so) than reasonably interact."

Ah,,, reasonable interaction.

Phallic:

1. Of, relating to, or resembling a phallus.

2. Of or relating to the cult of the phallus as an embodiment of generative power: phallic worship.

3. Of or relating to the third stage of psychosexual development in psychoanalytic theory, from about ages three to six, during which gratification is focused on sensations associated with the genital organs. The phallic stage is preceded by the anal stage and followed by the latency period.

[Greek phallikos, from phallos, phallus. See phallus.]

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/phallic

Mr. Pitscan... do you consider your religion, to be the remnant of an ancient cult(ure), who worshipped phallic images..., where the image held omni-"Potent", and "generative", power?

Pitscan: "I know, you’re still waiting for my description of God. I’ll get there, but I’ve got to respond to the rest of your post."

Okay :-)

Pitscan: "Ok … let me explain the straw man fallacy. If you want to decisively win an argument, go after the strongest, most articulate proponent of the opposition."

So, I should go after someone who can "really" represent what an "immaterial" god is? Sorry, I presumed you "knew" why you worshipped a god, mea culpa.

Pitscan: "For example, if you’re an evolutionist who believes in gradualism who was debating another evolutionist who believed in punctuated equilibrium, then you should try to take down Stephen Gould (the standard bearer for PE)."

Who's trying to take someone down? I merely asked you to support your comment/claim. I didn't seek you out, nor Stephen Gould, you planted your rhetoric on this site, making a claim. You consider my questions of you, to be founded on a "strawman" argument?

Pitscan: "You could more easily confuse and beat up on a lesser proponent of the view (a straw man), but then all you did was beat a man and not a message."

Show me a message, not of man...

Pitscan: "You can beat me with a stupid stick until I’m deaf and dumb, and all you’ve done is beat up on a pudgy bald man. Think of it in athletic terms. Good teams want to beat good teams. What kind of accomplishment is it for the Colts to pummel the Lions?"

Sounds like you are selling yourself short...

And... who is this invincible team for christ?

Pitscan: "Anybody can do that. But the Colts knock off the Broncos and Patriots on the road in back-to-back games? Now that’s saying something. I’m the Lions. Why don’t you try Anselm or Augustine?"

Again, I welcome a challenge, are you capable of representing their claims?

Pitscan: "And I don’t believe you’ve really “been there done that” with these guys. They’re in the class of Locke, Hume, Nietzsche, Sartre, and other great thinkers. These guys would not have agreed with Anselm’s conclusions, but they would not have summarily dismissed him as “lacking.” This bona fide genius constructed sound and valid arguments that merely failed their standard for cogency."

Is "reality" considered too much of a standard to ask, for "cogency"?

Pitscan: "And before you jump on me for this statement, please make sure you know what sound, valid, and cogent mean when it comes to formulating an argument."

Who's jumping, please explain your standards for what; sound, valid, and gogen, mean.

Pitscan: "Now, I’m finally deep enough into post to get (kinda) back on topic. I agree that God is not composed of matter and he has no physical form. So far, so good."

Yep, I'm tracking like an I.V. drug user.

Pitscan: "You then take some weird leap and I cannot figure out how you got there: “you are making this claim from a ‘material’ platform …” From this point, you are on some other track that has no relevance to the Christian idea of God."

If you are currently "thinking" about "god", would you not propose that your "brain" is involved in that process? Is your "brain" considered "material" or "immaterial"? Can a "material" object, be the progenitor of "immaterial" thoughts, such as "god". I would suggest "no". What do you propose?

Pitscan: "It is at this layer of your argument that you commit a serious enough error that everything else that follows is worthless for argumentative purposes."

Ah, now you have placed yourself back into the competent category, can I now, consider my comment no longer a strawman, according to your standards?

Pitscan: "You appear to be assuming that I must be the source of my own idea of God, ie, my claims come from my material brain. It doesn’t."

Yet. Your brain is material, no? No matter how you "claim" that "god" showed up on the material ball-field (brain), your brain bucket can not, "interact" with an "immaterial" object, else, it becomes more "immaterial", or at a minimum "semi-immaterial", right?

Pitscan: "Knowledge is divided into two broad categories: a priori knowledge (this is the classic epistemological term used to describe things we know apart from experience)..."

You jest...

A Priori:

1. from a general law to a particular instance; valid independently of observation. Compare a posteriori (def. 1).

2. existing in the mind prior to and independent of experience, as a faculty or character trait. Compare a posteriori (def. 2).

3. not based on prior study or examination; nonanalytic: an a priori judgment.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/a%20priori

It's a logical fallacy to suggest knowledge is anything less than naturally synthesized information, deriving its origin from this material existence. The origin of knowledge, is "totally" dependent on the "material" brain, to be processed. Once, the material brain comes into contact with any sensory input, the information becomes a "material" form.

Pitscan: "...and a posteriori knowledge. Only the latter is derived from sensation, while the former is independent of it."

Do tell. So... at what point in your existence, do you declare you weren't connected to reality, via your senses, so that you could immaterially absorb "a priori" knowledge?

Pitscan: "You say that I have no empirical proof for my idea of God, and I agree."

Actually, I go further, and suggest that all "ideals" are built with sensory inputs, called information, that are synthesized to form knowledge clusters, from this material universe, which become that what we label with our language, i.e., god, etc.

Pitscan: "This is where we need to introduce another term: immanence. Christians believe that God reveals His nature to His creatures. How do I know about the immaterial, transcendent God? Because He’s immanent."

As in, immanent in this material realm? So, your god is "Nature"?
Doesn't that put god, playing hokey-pokey, inside the material realm?

Pitscan: "We know about God because He wants us to know about Him."

Oh, I see. So, you have given character traits to this concept, anthropomorphically, cute. Sounds more like you are placing your "what a god should want", onto your materially synthesized concept of god.

Pitscan: "If He was not immanent, then your original argument would not be flawed, and my position would be in deep doo-doo. So, I’m not “out of my mind,” but “on God’s mind.”"

So, your bulwark defense/argument is to use "immanence" as the catalyst that binds/glues the "material" realm and the "immaterial" realm?

Uh, perhaps, this is getting a bit cliche, but... when you or someone a few thousand years ago, created this "term"... immanence... were they standing in the "material" realm or the "immaterial", realm?

Pitscan: "It should also be obvious to you that Christians consider God to be ontologically unique (there’s another term for you)."

Oh, goodie, new characters strung together to represent a material concept, thanks.

Ontological:

1. the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such.

2. (loosely) metaphysics.

[Origin: 1715–25; < NL ontologia. See onto-, -logy]

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ontological

So, in the immaterial realm, which is a material concept, christians have created categories and domains of immaterial objects (material concepts), i.e., hell, heaven, satan, angels, demons, etc.

And, you say they consider there materially synthesized concepts "unique". Okay, I can see that, Santa Clause should be in one of those domains of immaterial ideals as well, right.

Pitscan: "We’re okay with the fact that we do not completely comprehend God – He’s bigger than us."

Yet, you can come onto a site, and speak with authority. You have claimed that the non-christian can not "factually" disprove god empirically - a false statement.

Further, because the christian can not in theory, "know" their god, the concept of "god" could be anything, right? Additionally, since "god", could be considered anything because of the lack of "knowing", the god could be used to ridicule others and wish them suffering, i.e., hell, etc., on behalf of that which is "bigger than you", right?

Pitscan: "We’re less capable of completely grasping God than a nine year old is of completely grasping quantum physics."

The difference, is that the nine year old, probably isn't condemning entire races, nations, or other religions/non-religions, based on their lack of knowledge/ignorance.

Pitscan: "We think that’s a good thing."

And, history has shown the aftermath of allowing non-reasonable people to make decisions, in positions of power and influence.

Pitscan: "I don’t have to be out of mind to admit that I haven’t completely mastered a topic."

Then, you are probably more tolerable/educated than those who believe their "god" is a fact.

Pitscan: "That’s humble and realistic – traits which should be respected rather than ridiculed."

Respecting the individual's right to create material concepts, in order to make it through the day, can be understood, by anyone who has been placed in a position of sensed hopelessness. I liken it to nuclear energy, as long as its contained, it can be focused on either positive or negative actions. I just like to consider myself, one of the control mechanisms - a concerned citizen if you will indulge.

You must admit, that a group that has no way to verify its claims, can be easily led/misled. Its just a matter of who in in charge of the group, and what their agenda is. Its much harder to mislead those who adept at employing logic and reason to their daily lives.

pitscan said...

I don’t think I have communicated a single thing effectively. It should be obvious that I’m a little frustrated. Either I’m not clear or you’re not trying or both. I know where we’re at. Will anybody step up and say “hey, you know what? There’s probably at least 16 myths that atheists believe about Christians.”

I’m also a little confused. Are you still waiting to hear more or do you want me to shut up and go away? And it’s not like I came looking for a fight … atheistmommy misrepresented me and mine. Having a site up with her article (and it’s all over the net on similar sites) is invitation to anyone on the net. I walked through an open door at your implicit request.

And I’m trying to use terms and philosophical techniques that should be widely understood and respected. If you don’t accept Aristotelian concepts and such, then I’m screwed. I’ve intentionally avoided using the Bible or citing specific miraculous events because I know you would reject that out of hand. I don’t understand why quoting dead people draws ire. Isn’t there something to be said for recognizing somebody else is smarter than you are? I thought reading a lot of different stuff was a sign of intelligence and academic pursuit, but apparently only loathsome, brainwashed idiots do that.

And Bentley, you misconstrued me yet again. You took something I said out of context and ignored something else I said completely. I proposed a game in which you get to describe the great possible being you can think of. For the purpose of this game, we’ll call that idea God or whatever else you want to call it. I specifically said that God is an idea/concept, but much more than that. Stop beating your “he’s brainwashed” drum long enough to be intellectually honest. I’ve made enough errors that you should be able to find something else to complain about without having to make up something.

Alan, I admit that I do not have evidence you would find convincing. I’ve argued this enough to know that I’m not changing minds here. I’ll still try to offer some evidence, if I’m not run off before then. If the game I proposed goes nowhere, I’ll telegraph my next move: Anselm’s ontological argument.

pitscan said...

To Jim Arvo>
Thank you. It looks like you are listening. I think you are pretty close to understanding the Christian view – not that you accept it, but at least know what it is. I have not felt anyone else here close to that position.

I agree with your first point. My argument was a bit of straw man, and that particular fallacy drives me nuts. I hate it when I see it, then I go off and do it myself. The easiest way to refute a straw man is to point it out when you see it, and hope your opponent is honest enough to try again. I concede here.


Regarding the “net effect” of contributions and embarrassments, we will have to agree to disagree. I think it’s an overall positive. You’re not sure it’s due to the faith component. Is it safe to say you think we’ve “done good” in spite of our faith? Ok.

However, I don’t think it is fair to substitute secular for atheist in my argument. You can be a secular Christian. I would guess there are more Christian employees in secular philanthropic organizations than there are atheists – if for no other reason than that we simply outnumber you. Christians are encouraged by our Scriptures to be benevolent. Our track record is full of success and failure. When a Christian volunteers at United Way, they do so in consonance with their faith. Substituting secular for atheist would unfairly co-opt their efforts to shore up your point.

I also recognize that Christianity does not have a monopoly on being good and treating others well. A religion that doesn’t endorse this will never be more than a fringe curiosity.

And about faith? It simply denotes “believe.” I have faith in my Detroit Lions later today. I use the terms interchangeably. From a connotation standpoint, faith is used of religious conviction. It’s not without evidence, but usually requires an “ok, I can’t see all of it, but I’m willing to extrapolate.” Kant addresses this. I have a personal base of evidence that is cogent for me, and it provides a foundation for believing the rest is possible.

For example, I trust my wife. I believe her when she says she’s going to the grocery store or working late. I don’t need evidence for every circumstance because the “body of work” allows me to say, “I’ve seen enough to know that my belief is justified.” If something happens to cause me to question that belief, then I’ll either feign blindness or dig deeper. I’ll admit that I’ve done both as a Christian. That doesn’t mean I’m proud of those times I’ve pretended not to see a weakness in my faith, but I have also dug deeper and been deeply satisfied.

I could argue that your belief/confidence/trust in science is faith, but this is a semantic matter. If you don’t like the word faith being applied to you, I’ll respect that.

And yes, we do have wildly divergent pictures of God. My idea is one of many, but I think a lot of folks are in similar territory with me. The similarities are greater than the differences. I’m the only one from my camp speaking up here, but I think most theists would agree with me that atheistmommy didn’t paint the most accurate picture of us.

Kant is probably the one Christian writer that best addresses your apologetic concerns. Yes, we believe there’s an immaterial realm. We believe that God chooses to bridge these realms. The philosophical construct requires a leap of faith. Much like I know George Washington exists, I know God exists. I’ve got evidence of His activity, His words, and His adherents. You’ve been around the block – you probably know the evidence I’d offer. You don’t find it compelling, but I’m pretty sure you know what it is. (Which is one reason why I’m so flummoxed with all of the “come on and say something new” tirades. I know that I don’t have anything new to offer, but most of the people posting here can’t seem to admit that they don’t have anything new to offer either. We’re working off a very old script here, and so far, I’m the only who has admitted it).

As sources of knowledge go, we’ll agree there’s experience and reason – at least those two are the big categories. You can conceive a thought without sensory perception. Not everything is detectable by sense alone, and our senses can deceive us. Hume digs into this pretty good. We could also add history as either a separate category or as a sub-category (“past” experience) without disagreement.

I have a fourth category (and I know we’ll stop agreeing here): the supernatural – a transcendent, immanent God. What is my faith based upon? I believe I have evidence from all four categories of knowledge. (Wesley’s good for stuff on the four sources of knowledge.)

Thank you for your honesty. I feel like you respected me, and I deeply appreciate that. I hope I’m still around to discuss this further with you.

Jerry N. said...

To Jim Arvo>
Thank you. It looks like you are listening.


Shouldn't that be? It "sounds" like you are listening.

Looks can be deceptive.

If you do not say correctly what you mean and if you do not write correctly what you mean, how can anyone understand what you're trying to say?

Surely no parts of the Bible could have been misconstrued by the ancient sheep herders?

No way, since it was divinely inspired and God breathed.

Dave8 said...

Pitscan: "Tell all of us what your greatest possible being looks like."

Answer: The greatest possible ontological being, I can imagine, takes on a material form, based on the elements of information I possess. My concept, is predicated solely on "A Posteriori", knowledge. I can make mental models, and make "predictions", and call that "A Priori" knowledge, but, its a knowledge based on "material" acquisition and synthesis of information.

Pitscan: "As sources of knowledge go, we’ll agree there’s experience and reason – at least those two are the big categories. You can conceive a thought without sensory perception."

You can't reason, without experience.

Reasoning requires knowledge. Knowledge requires experience. Experience provides sensory information, by which we use to "reason".

I'm not going to get involved in neural looping, but... I have no problem if you want to go there.

You may be able to "graduate/mature" to a point that you can "model" using intellect (sensory perception free), but there are conditions.

Can the mind function (mentally process information/intellectually), if it is not capable of "sensing" the body? Want to get into the details of the ANS (autonomic nervous system), as it relates the the parasympathetic/sympathetic nervous system? We are an organic being, if you want to start discussing things on the level of Artificial Intelligence, the just let me know.

Anyway, no matter how you want to come at this topic, the bottom line... is that something has to fill the brain bucket first, for there to be something to manipulate.

The "internal" ANS (parasympathetic/sympathetic) senses are required for intellectual thought, and they are inextricably tied to sense perception which feeds it, in one continuous loop.

Intellect/Reason thus, is in "fact" dependent on sense perception, and thus... I respectively decline the below assertion...

Pitscan: "You can conceive a thought without sensory perception."

You are civil, I will give you that Pitscan. We may not agree on much in the area of what "knowledge" is, but I believe we can boil it down to the difference between, understanding the universe as a process as opposed to a product.

Information is everywhere, "knowledge" isn't. Knowledge, is an organically produced (processed) by-product. It's not sitting in pockets around the universe, or emanating all over the universe, ready to be categorized in distinct domains.

What you call "god" emanating throughout the universe, I may well call "information". How you manipulate the fragments of information, will determine your "knowledge" level, reason products, and finally, how you model a "god". Heck, Pitscan, without any information, to churn, we wouldn't be having this fine discussion on T-Giving Day :-)

Oh, and I would not want to run you away, without approaching Anselm’s ontological argument. Who knows, after I distill the "knowledge", by reverse engineering it, we will come right back to the fundamental "informational" elements, that were used to create it - or so I suspect. And then, we can look at the sky, and I'll call it black, and you can call it blue at "midnight" with no solar light :-)

boomSLANG said...

From the sidelines---

And about faith? It simply denotes “believe.” I have faith in my Detroit Lions later today. I use the terms interchangeably.

Pit',

Assuming when you say that you have "faith" in the Lions that you mean, as in them being victorious---yes, you can have "faith" that your team will win; you can "believe" that your team will win..... however, you cannot know that they will win, until after the game. I think this is kind of the point that Dave8 was making about material VS immaterial. If your "God idea" is one where this immaterial entity exists in a "transcendent" reality, then the same holds true---you can have "faith" that this immaterial entity exists; you can "believe" that this immaterial entity exists, but you cannot know that this entity exists, unless/until you "transcend" this material reality("win the game").

Furthermore, once you "know" that the Lions won, you no longer need to keep "faith" that they won. And even if you take issue with the aforementioned, I can hone in on it more by your own words: Faith denotes belief. I don't think there's an atheist here who would argue with that disclosure. "Pitscan believes". Fair enough, notwithstanding, I know that you are honest enough to plainly see that Muslims "believe" with every bit of fervor as you, in their "God idea", Allah. Scientologists "believe" with all the conviction as Christians "believe" in their Jesus, in aliens, etc., etc., etc. A belief is a belief. "Beliefs" and "faith" might be "interchangable"....but "beliefs" and "objective truth" are not mutually inclusive.

Much like I know George Washington exists, I know God exists.

Pit'... well, as I just explained above, and with your own admission, no less.....you do not/cannot "know" that "God exists". No one can. Remember?..."faith denotes belief"?..but "belief" and "objective truth" are not mutually inclusive? If you disagree, I'd like to hear on what grounds, without going back on your definitions/philosophies/ideas of your "God".

That aside, the Washington/God analogy is a poor one, IMO. We have library shelves full of biographical literature from friends and family of Washington who lived in his life time. We have portions of autobiographical literature written by the man, himself. There are no websites that I know of that deny the existance of George Washington. No one is telling you that George Washington exists, "conditionally". You are free to deny his existance with no reprecussions..i.e..* "hell". There is no doctrinal literature that delineates the method by which you "must believe" in George Washington, but yet, no one denies his existance. So why do people "believe" in "God" based on much less evidence? Is it because George didn't promise eternal life in exchange for belief? Hmm..I wonder.

*(BTW, Pit', do you believe we non-christians are going to a place called "hell"? Just curious)

Also noteworthy-- to exaggerate Washington's physical strength(he was a big dude)....people emroidered the truth by telling stories about him---stories like him tossing a silver dollar across the Potomac. The Potomac's over a mile wide. It's physically impossible. Ironic? So why not believe that fable on "faith"? I mean, would it be unreasonable to conclude that maybe people exaggerated stories of Jesus, as well? What's more likely--Jesus defied physics?...or people embroidered stories about him? I think the latter. In conclusion, I feel the Washington/"God" analogy is seriously flawed.

BTW, Pit'...I know you are "listening" to me whether you agree with me, or not. So I don't quite understand the implication that the more people agree with you or walk on egg shells around you, the more that they are "listening to you". I mean, gimme a break.

pitscan said...

Is it safe to assume if someone mocks you and twists your words then they are not listening to you? What am I supposed to think? Earlier, I said “God is a concept, but more than that.” Someone then says I said God is just a concept. Hmmm. I don’t want you to walk on eggshells. I don’t expect you to agree with me. But please don’t claim you’re listening to me while ignoring what I say.

To Dave> Thank you sharing your idea of a GPB. I’m just asking – not judging – but is it possible for your GPB to be even greater? A material GPB is limited to one geographical location at a time – wouldn’t an even greater GPB have the ability to be in multiple locations at once? Maybe not – I’m just asking. I would suggest that a greater GPB would have to include information you do not personally possess. How about expanding your definition a little to include all knowledge (whatever that may mean) as the basis?

I do think you hit a nail right on the head. By pointing out we have a fundamentally different epistemology, you’ve uncovered the central issue. Discussing ontology, axiology and even aesthetics is nigh impossible without a little epistemological common ground. I presumed we would mutually accept Plato/Aristotle on the nature of knowledge, but that doesn’t appear to be the case.

Would it be safe to assume you are essentially Lockean in this area? You’ll find many great thinkers (including non-Christian ones) disagree with your assertion that sense trumps everything and that reason can only take place after the senses have “filled the brain bucket.” Descartes would argue the exact opposite (“I think, therefore I am”). To continue down this road would no longer about religion, but about how we know.

Anselm’s ontological proof (or Descartes’ or Plantiga’s) rests upon an assumption you reject. That’s not a value judgment, but an observation. If you are interested, run through the Wikipedia on these various ontological proofs and see how they resonate with you. I doubt they will be persuasive to you at all. Your theory of knowledge acquisition is simply incompatible with them.

To Boom> OK, I agree with you that the George Washington/God thing is a poor analogy. I didn’t intend to make several points around it, but really just a single point: I have evidence of various sorts that George/God is real – none of which involve personal experience. The evidence for George rests on a portion of the epistemological landscape we share. Both of us look at the evidence and come to the same conclusion because we share compatible beliefs on evaluating knowledge of this sort. We believe in George for the same reasons.

I also have evidence that God exists; however, much of that evidence sits on a very different part of the epistemological landscape (a part which you utterly reject). My belief in God is based on evidence derived from non-sensory sources, including (but not limited to) the Bible. I’ve tried to avoid citing evidence from sources you would reject out-of-hand. There’s been quite a few requests that I show you my evidence, and I’ve struggled to find common ground. I’m not trying to anger you, but respect your convictions. It’s pretty safe to assume nobody around here wants me to start spouting Scripture. I knew we didn’t have common ground there. Dave’s most recent post was an eye-opener for me – we may just have a lot less common ground that I thought we did.

To everyone>
If the only evidence I’m allowed to present (meaning the only evidence you will consider) is something you can explore with your senses, then you’ve got me. I’ve got nothing for you. Nothing at all. If you want to gloat, then go right ahead. Pat yourself on the back. Knock back a beer or two in celebration. I said it. I’ve got nothing.

BUT if I can present non-sensory evidence, then I’ll try to walk you through the various ontological proofs for the existence of God. And if you want to hear Scripture, I’ve got a ton more to say (oh no!).

So, I’ve got evidence (granted, it’s not evidence you approve of, but I’ve got it). It’s cogent for me. In my past, I seriously considered atheism (you may not believe me, but I did). Eventually, I rejected it – I just couldn’t accept that “this” is “it.” I’m satisfied and fulfilled with what I have found (and I’m not implying that you aren’t). Like many of you, I also believe the unexamined life is not worth living.

Jim Arvo said...

pitscan, there is one comment in your last post that I think cuts to the heart of this discussion. I'm going to start by quoting that, and then explain why I think it is a source (if not the source) of our disagreement. You said

"...I seriously considered atheism (you may not believe me, but I did). Eventually, I rejected it – I just couldn’t accept that “this” is “it.”"

Now, I do not wish to put words in your mouth, but to my understanding what you are saying is you were prompted to find "something more" (i.e. supernatural) because of some deep unexplainable discontentment with the alternative--i.e. that the "physical" world is all that exists. In fact, taking your words at face value, this discontentment produced more than a mere desire to explore, it caused you to outright reject atheism, which is another way of saying that you accepted or chose to believe in a supernatural realm. I can point to that very moment and say, that is where we parted company.

You see, if I can take your words at face value, you stated that your fundamental conclusion arose from a source you cannot identify, and I would deem that source nothing more than a commonplace brain function. I have no problem at all with using intuition (for that's what we're really talking about here) to suggest directions to explore, and to create an intense desire to discover some preconceived entity or principle; indeed, that's what drives much of science. Where I differ is in elevating that intuition to the level of knowledge. Intuition can be a fine compass, but it's a lousy arbiter.

Earlier, you said "I also have evidence that God exists; however, much of that evidence sits on a very different part of the epistemological landscape (a part which you utterly reject)."

If at the root of that "evidence" there is a mysterious "black box" that pronounces some fantastic conclusion to be "true" simply because the alternative is psychologically distressing, then yes, I reject it. If that distress was merely the motivation to discover something that can withstand the test of reason and empirical evidence, then I have no problem with it.

Here is another basic divergence of our views. You said "My belief in God is based on evidence derived from non-sensory sources, including (but not limited to) the Bible." But to me, the Bible is a physical artifact that admits direct study. We can ask empirical questions about it, such as the age and source of the extant manuscripts, and whether its words correspond to reality. We can attempt to discover the path by which is came to be written, as well as the culture in which it arose. So, I think it quite wrong to view the Bible as "non-sensory". In my opinion, if one approaches its study without a prior conviction about its divine origin, then it's quite easy to see that it is simply another man-made artifact, with essentially the same status as the Koran and the Bhagavad-Gita.

I hope that helps.

Dave8 said...

Pitscan: "To Dave> Thank you sharing your idea of a GPB. I’m just asking – not judging – but is it possible for your GPB to be even greater? A material GPB is limited to one geographical location at a time – wouldn’t an even greater GPB have the ability to be in multiple locations at once? Maybe not – I’m just asking. I would suggest that a greater GPB would have to include information you do not personally possess. How about expanding your definition a little to include all knowledge (whatever that may mean) as the basis?"

We can theorize and create knowledge in great piles, its how we test that knowledge that makes it valid - at least in my understanding. For instance, I could go with you, and create a separate universe in my mind, by clustering pieces of information together artistically, but... after the master painting is done - I need to validate it, as more than a "thought/ideal".

Whereas, I would feel compelled to go further and validate the knowledge in an adventurous manner... you may well be quite comfortable not needing to.

It would appear that we may not agree on knowledge acquisition, nor on the "necessity" to validate the knowledge that is synthesized. I require validation, to call something truth, even if its a truth limited by human/organic processing.

I would also suggest though, that not one human can remove themselves from being organic, and thus, whatever impediment an ancient/medieval philosopher would want to impose on me, I could just as easily reverse it upon them, therefore, we are on equal playing fields in the acquisition and validation of knowledge.

Pitscan: "I do think you hit a nail right on the head. By pointing out we have a fundamentally different epistemology, you’ve uncovered the central issue. Discussing ontology, axiology and even aesthetics is nigh impossible without a little epistemological common ground. I presumed we would mutually accept Plato/Aristotle on the nature of knowledge, but that doesn’t appear to be the case."

I concur.

Pitscan: "Would it be safe to assume you are essentially Lockean in this area?"

Yes.

Pitscan: "You’ll find many great thinkers (including non-Christian ones) disagree with your assertion that sense trumps everything and that reason can only take place after the senses have “filled the brain bucket.” Descartes would argue the exact opposite (“I think, therefore I am”)."

Stating that sense "trumps" everything is a little more simple than I meant it to appear, mea culpa if that was what was communicated. My basic assumption, based on all research in multiple fields of biology, is that the "senses" are the "only" means by which we receive information.

Its not a matter of "trump", its a matter of "sequence".

If Descartes were alive today, we would have fundamental issues, however, if Descartes were alive today, and were exposed/allowed to be exposed without religious ridicule, he may not have continued to assert his claim - (“I think, therefore I am”)."

In my humble opinion, Descartes was missing a few fundamental characters at the beginning of his statement, allow me to push a few more keystrokes if you will indulge...

Dave8: "I am", therefore,
Descartes: (“I think, therefore I am”)."

I do not deny my biological existence, and accept that "I am", much earlier than my ability to "know" who "I am". I have no preconceived notion, that I had "knowledge", or the neurological ability to synthesize "knowledge" before I become of an age for such a capacity to exist. I enter into this understanding, with my own personal experience, and the ability to interact with children of a regular basis.

Pitscan: "To continue down this road would no longer about religion, but about how we know."

Yes, I agre.

Pitscan: "Anselm’s ontological proof (or Descartes’ or Plantiga’s) rests upon an assumption you reject. That’s not a value judgment, but an observation."

Thank you, and I respect your right to hold a differing view.

Pitscan: "If you are interested, run through the Wikipedia on these various ontological proofs and see how they resonate with you. I doubt they will be persuasive to you at all. Your theory of knowledge acquisition is simply incompatible with them."

I agree. Most of the philosophies presented are linear, and begin in mid-process... I see life as more a circle (or something akin), than a linear line with two points, that have words to describe them a beginning and end.

Jim and boomSLANG articulated much better than I what some of the other fundamental aspects of this discussion are, and I would agree with their most insightful points.

I do consider you one I could be a friend with, as you are educated enough to know the limits of your belief. We each have the potential to "will" ourselves to believe - anything... I suppose I am more comfortable letting life present itself to me, than to try and will it to be, more than it is.

In short, I would expect you to be no more than you are - as a friend. Its unfortunate that the simple expectation of "as is", isn't acceptable by millions. I have had to live a part of my life with such organizations, that provided "conditional" love/care. I didn't find it rewarding/nurturing. Hopefully, you are being cared for, and expect to be cared for by someone/some ideal, that doesn't demand payment - either today, or tomorrow. Take care.

boomSLANG said...

Side note: a few criticisms that I personally have of the ontological argument for the existance of God.

First, where it asserts that it's a "greater" thing, or result, to actually "be"(assumes necessity), than to not actually "be".[paraphrazed with my own thoughts added]

I think it's fair to say that the adjective "greater" implies "better" in this application, no?....i.e.."it's better for the greatest possible entity imagined(God) to "be"(exist), than to "not be"(exist only as an idea).

Certainly, most will agree that "better" is purely subjective, no? I mean, first of all, if I were to play along--- the "greatest" possible entity that I could conceive of(imagine), would of course exist in the greatest possible realm, and thus, while in the greatest possible realm, the necessity of the dichotomous law of "good" and "evil" would then be UNnecessary. The greatest possible entity wouldn't "need" anything, not even conceptually(i.e..conceptually, you need to conceive of "darkness", for "light" to have any meaning)

But this isn't what we see when we speak of the biblical god. The biblical god---supposedly the "greatest possible entity conceivable"---does in fact need evil, because, 1) by the pure fact that evil exists.(the "greatest possible entity" either allows evil, or cannot prevent it...either of which make God far from being "perfectly great"), and 2) without evil, there would be no frame of reference for what "non-evil" is, thus, no reason to "test" anyone's "faith".


Just some thoughts.

pitscan said...

I think we’ve taken a few serious turns in this dialogue that demonstrate the possibility of understanding each other better. Indeed, we return to the thesis of this page, and I for one am a Christian who has adjusted my perception of atheists both in general and in particular. I wish this conversation had played out in a wider forum.

If you can accept a non-empiricist’s point of view on the nature of knowledge, Anselm has something for you. As a group, you’ve pretty much hit upon the standard rebuttal to Anselm (address his argument at the layer of presupposition rather than premise).

I will close my comments with my personal story. I’ve been reluctant to do more than drop a few hints, but I figure ... why not just spill it. There have been a few questions about the how’s and why’s of my position, so ... here’s why I am not an atheist.

Like virtually everyone else out there, I’ve endured a few “dark nights of the soul” in which I just hurt all over. In one case, someone I considered a friend hurt me deeply. In another, my infant daughter died of a previously undetected heart defect. There’s more, but you get the idea. At times like these, while standing on the rim of the pit of nihilism, it looked so easy to just give up and jump in. I came close. I made the usual observations ... such as “how could a God let me hurt so bad? If he’s real, then he sucks.”

Eventually, I asked myself the question: is there a god? I saw two options: yes/no (agnosticism is not even remotely tenable in my opinion – I demand answers.). With either answer, I knew I would need to justify my choice.

a) If I said “no” and was right, then I was alone. All I had was a backstabbing friend, a dead daughter, and no hope. Sure, I had more than that (such as other loving family members), but in light of the pain, that didn’t feel like much.
b) If I said “no” and was wrong, then I might be in big trouble. Not necessarily so, but possibly so. And I was still alone.
c) If I said “yes” and was right, then I had better figure out what, if anything, He expected from me. Maybe Christianity. Maybe not. Most importantly though, I wouldn’t be alone. There would be a bigger something, whatever that might be.
d) If I said “yes” and was wrong, then what harm was there? If I respected others and lived decently, then I would be, at worst, guilty of ignorantly finding value where nothing was truly to be found. A bit pragmatic, but it’s what I thought.

To me, the safe and reasonable choice appeared to be “yes.” But there was catch – God was on probation. I needed evidence to justify my choice. I’ll start with the “leap of faith,” but he had better be there to catch me.

I approached the Bible for answers, and found a lot of what I was looking for. Through study of Scripture and personal experience, I came to believe my faith in God was a justified true belief.

Surprisingly, the deal-closer for me was what many others consider a deal-breaker: the problem of evil. It has to be accounted for – and not just by religious people. Evil is real. Even the most ardent empiricist admits it. Augustine wrestled with this one, and his Biblically-based answer deeply satisfied me. The only thing that troubled me more than a universe with an evil-permitting God was a universe with evil and no God.

I don’t have all the answers, and tension is still there, but I’ve since retreated many steps away from the abyss. I freely confess there is still some uncertainty, but I have found enough to trust God about the rest – I extrapolate.

I respect those of you who took the time to help me understand your views. Hopefully, my mini-catharsis will help you to see where I am and how I got there. I hope this doesn’t feel like a sermon. Maybe I make even less sense to you now. For what it’s worth, I thank you. I’ll check in around here every now and then to see what’s going on.

See you later.

boomSLANG said...

Okay, Pit'...thanks for your honesty on the matter.

Jim Arvo said...

Hello pitscan,

First, I am so sorry to hear of the death of your daughter. I have often contemplated what it must be like to lose a child, and to me it is the most terrifying thing imaginable. If your faith helped to pull you through that, then I all I can say is, for you it was a good thing. Someone very close to me also lost a child, many years ago, and this prompted her to become deeply religious. I do not challenge her beliefs (unless she asks my opinion directly) because I see it as a vital coping mechanism; at least for her.

In closing, let me say that you've been polite, and it seems you've actually taken something from this discussion. Sadly, that's not the usual outcome of discussions such as these. Best of luck to you.

Alan said...

pitscan-

If you're still here my sincere condolences for the losses you have suffered, and thanks for your honesty and being a gentleman.

Dave8 said...

Dear Pitscan, thanks for your candor, and openness on the issues that have guided you on your path in life.

I can understand your attraction to "faith". I have recently lost as infant as well, and it was a slow and emotional process. Your circumstances were of course, different than my family's. I wish I could offer you more than just compassion, but... it's all we seem to have in this virtual reality, but please take it if it helps you to know there are others who care for your well-being, without any preconceived expectations.

I suspect we have different expectations for our external environment. I learned at a very young age the dangers of expecting too much from humanity, and I have learned to live a life very independently. In response to your proposition (a),

"a) If I said “no” and was right, then I was alone. All I had was a backstabbing friend, a dead daughter, and no hope. Sure, I had more than that (such as other loving family members), but in light of the pain, that didn’t feel like much."

Because of my early childhood trauma, I realized I was all there was. For me, if a "god" existed, he was not one I would have wanted to extend a friendship to, let alone worship for all eternity. I learned early on, to focus on the positive things in life, because many things were truly beyond my control - I accepted that and didn't hold myself responsible for things I could in no way account for.

Therefore, my only "guilt" or feelings of "regret" are limited to those things I feel I have control over... and that is a very short list where I am the center of action.

Because I want to maintain internal peace, I hold myself responsible, to understand as much as I can about the environment and myself, so that I make the best decisions I can with the information I hold. Thus, I rely heavily on empirical observation, a realm, again, where a "god" is beyond my control. I can't make excuses for that which is beyond my understanding, or control. If I took some form of personal responsibility for all the events beyond my control, I would be living in a perpetual state of misery.

I can only hope that… you allow yourself the serenity to accept the things that you can not control, nor change, the courage to seek out those things you can control, or change, and the wisdom in knowing the difference. I will keep you in my thoughts, and hope you find peace.

Anonymous said...

To any "atheists" still reading this post. I just want to throw some ideas out. First, i'll admit that I am a christian. I have doubts about my religion and doubts about the bible, but I have faith. The universe is a mysterious and awe inspiring thing. Life itself seems such an anomaly to me that it couldn't have just sprang from mere happenstance.

Lets just say im an atheist though. I am not but for the purposes of argument lets say that i am. I say to you all, give up. Stop living life. Dont kill yourselves, i mean that would be painful perhaps and is against "human nature." Really though there is no point for you to live. Whatever joy, whatever happiness you might experience in life will have been for naught. It doesn't matter what profession you are. None of your lifes work will ever approach anything nearing immortality. Your children might have children and they might have children, and yet... at some point it will all end. This earth will meet the catastrophe that it faces every day. To exist, and flourish, to enjoy life, when its all over, it will be as if you have never existed at all. Human beings can never hope to overcome the vastness of space to leave this pebble we call earth. There are multitudes of hazards facing this planet. Our DNA itself is said to be failing (so i've read). The sun that warms this earth will grow and scorch this earth and then shrink and die. Probably much sooner than that though we will be visited by a puny pebble that will smash into earth; wiping out civilization. Or maybe life itself will end our lives (as it has since the dawn of our species). Yes viruses (oh what a magical thing viruses are) Viruses aren't life. Yet they destroy it. WHY? HOW? Its as if there were some higher power. Some conflict, creating such things. I dunno, im no theologian. Perhaps war will end humanity's existence on earth. I mean yes, war has raged since humans have existed but... never have there been so many humans on this planet and never have there been such destructive weapons.

In the atheist mindset, its all about humans. Well humans are so utterly fallible that putting any faith in humanity is a worthless expectation. I really hope you can understand that. Think of how many times your appliances, cars, your body itself has failed. A part of humanity called America created the IRS, and its tax system. What a complicated waste of time. Everything on this earth is a waste of time. Everything costs money. Which takes more of your time to get. You only have so much time before you're dead.

Life is an abberation on the uniformity of "existence" In nature, everything strives to be uniform, to achieve the simplest configuration. Life is the exception. To me, an atheist world is one devoid of life. A vast expanse of nothingness, empty, colorless. Timeless. Existence itself is not an aspect of the atheist world I imagine.

The big bang. Everyone has heard of it. When I think of it I think of God. I mean the entire vastness of the universe. THE UNIVERSE. Many billions of galaxies, each containing many billions of stars all contained in an infinitesimally small point of light. The laws of physics break down entirely in this ??? object? I mean time itself was created when the big bang exploded.

Some billions of years after this big bang a cloud of dust coallesces into the sun and its planets. Later a bunch of chemicals get mixed up and decide to breed? Into new chemicals? I dont understand it. Whats the point? Is it in the nature of the chemicals to mix and multiply and get more complicated? I understand evolution and have NO problem with it being taught. I mean evolution makes alot of sence. EXCEPT at the beginning. When the lifeless became life. And then to the atheist, those with life return to a lifeless state. Well i say to you. What are you waiting for? The universe demands that you return to a lifeless state. The godless universe that you believe in DEMANDS that you die as soon as possible. It will throw everything it has at you to dissolve you into the relative uniformity of the oxygen, hydrogen, calcium, nitrogen, etc that composes your body. Its interesting that genesis seems to have got the dirt part right. From dust to dust and all that.

Another thing. Our precious science, as wonderful as it truly is. I mean we get alot of great things from science. Anyway, physics. Physicists have been struggling for a long time now to unify Einsteins theory of relativity with the relatively (haha) new theory of quantum mechanics. They're both generally right, and they both dont fit together mathematically, as I understand it.

I think i mentioned how nature strives to be uniform, how it takes the simplest form. Electrons occupy the lowest energy level possible, wondrous mountains rise yet the weather erodes them back down, most planetary objects are a spherical shape. Life though, life is the exception to all of these things. IF I was an atheist I wouldn't see this as life being precious, i would see this as being an abberation. One that ought to be ...phased out. I propose that all atheists stop having children. You only prolong humanitys misery and the misery of the animal kingdom that humans have so decimated.

Of course this isn't what I think. I study science (chemistry actually) so I can better understand the works of God, not so I can disprove him.

I appologize for the disorder in my paragraphs and the lack of flow. I think I'll copy and paste this somewhere so I can edit it and add to it. I've had a few beers because you guys depress me so, as such, this first draft amounts only to a stream of consciousness.

ONE MORE THING. Just thought of it. If life were so adaptive. If evolution was such a great thing... why doesn't life figure out a way not to die? What is death? Your brain and the electrons in it cease to fire? Why cant we just keep living? Why can't we keep on producing more DNA, more cells, fresh cells (including those of the nervous system). How successful would be the species that didn't die? Very, I should think.

Something tells me that life cannot be allowed to live forever. Death breeds new life. Life breeds death. I know there is a creator involved in this. I do believe it is jesus christ. His sacrifice seems to be such an unexpected thing that It couldn't have been a mere historical oddity. As far as God and christ proving themselves to the unbelievers. Well, as I understand it... and i might be wrong... the next time Christ or God visit the earth will be the end times, when the world as we know it will be destroyed.

Also, (I keep thinking of new things) while this country might not have been founded on christian doctrine, and principles. It was made GREAT by people who believed in such things. America would be a piddling nation without the christian faithful.

I dunno, I grow tired of writing this. Feel free to pick apart everything without reading/understanding any of it. Or just dismiss it as uneducated drivel, I care not. I had to say my .02, and I'll be turning that .02 into much more as I edit this at my leisure.