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3/01/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Why I say there is no god

By DagoodS

The concept of god is a solution to a then-current perceived problem that did not have an apparent resolution.

Let’s look at the course and development of the concept of god(s) from what we know as humanity travels through history.

Every day the sun would rise. It did not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the sun provided light to see by, warmth to live by and regularity by which to monitor time. Useful thing—the sun. But where did the sun come from? Why was it so regular? How is it that it provided light? It was that “why” question that started to trouble humans.

Worse, without the knowledge of the “why” we lose some sense of control. How do we know the sun will continue to rise day after day? Sure, we could put a blanket over us to avoid the light. Or go to shade to avoid the heat. But what accounted for it? Without that knowledge, we are powerless to either stop the sun if we desired, nor fix the sun if it was required. We were helpless.

And so, the concept of a god regarding the sun was born. For the Aztecs, it was a god that sacrificed himself, becoming the sun. In order to continue to cross the sky, however, the sun/god needed human sacrifice. For the Aztec belief in god, while the sun was necessary to survive, it was also a method of practicing belief through the observation of death. Unfortunately, this included human sacrifice.

For the Greeks, the sun was a chariot-drawn god, who oversaw all. It was a reminder that secrets may not stay hidden forever.

The concept of a god became a convenient tool. Humans watched the seasons turn from winter to spring to summer and back to winter. Why? A story of a god, mourning for a period of time is created. This provides a few benefits. First of all it answers that pesky question of “why”? Secondly it can return a measure of control back to the humans. If humans could be bribed by beads and food—why not a god? Allowing nature to run its course seems so…well…fatalistic.

By coming up with the concept of giving offerings to gods for a better harvest, a rainy spring, a warm summer, or a short winter, the human was able to re-gain authority over a situation they did not have before. If summer just happens—what could a human do about it? But if a god controlled summer, and could be persuaded by a human—bingo! Possibly the human could direct his or her destiny.

Unfortunately, this also gave rise to humans exerting control over other humans. We have always seen a variety of personalities in humans. Some are leaders; some follow. Some are bullies; some are encouragers. In every endeavor, from as minimal as a group choosing a restaurant, to as complicated as a government running a country, the various personalities come forth.

God-belief is no different. It does not take long for the leader personality to start informing others that they are not sacrificing correctly. Not that this is done out of meanness, or even necessarily a sense of domination. The leader could be quite a loving, kind person. They just want to make sure that others “get it right.” And, by virtue of their personality, they begin to lead others in “correct” god-belief.

Of course, there are also personalities that are selfish, or dominating. The selfish quickly realize that giving away such knowledge shouldn’t be free—giving it away is a full-time job! Is it not fair that they are provided for by a portion of the sacrifice? The dominating soon learn that humans are motivated by fear. By intoning that it is possible to sacrifice “incorrectly” and hinting they have the “correct” way of doing it, people became afraid of the wrong god-belief.

People started following different god-beliefs. And in competing groups.

And what is the surprise in that? We emulate our parents and our immediate society, in our mannerism, in our goals, in our actions, and equally we emulate them in our beliefs. If your parents were Native Americans, it is only natural that you, too, would believe in animal spirits. Encountering new people that believed differently than you would introduce new god-beliefs they received from their heritage. Those beliefs would compete.

We congregate with those that tend to believe the same as we do. When moving, a person looks for a new group with a similar religious belief. We look for those who hold to the god-belief most like our own.

Churches and formal religions are born.

A distinct advantage of a god, is that it is perpetually out of reach. Unobservable. Unverifiable. Undeterminable. This allows it to exist with qualities that do not make sense. How, exactly, does a supernatural being impact on a natural being? The “how” becomes unimportant, because it is covered by the broad concept of a god. Within the definition itself is the essential characteristic of the unknown. What was the chariot traveling on when crossing the sky? Only a god would know. How does a god impregnate a human? Only a god would know. Why is one sacrifice “better” than another? Only a god knows.

A solution to a problem shouldn’t provide more questions, while leaving the problem intact. That isn’t a solution at all! If you told me your car wouldn’t start, and I gave you the solution of “Gremlins invaded your engine” while technically qualifying as a “solution” (in the loosest terms) it doesn’t solve the problem. How are gremlins invading? What are the doing? How do we go about removing these terrible creatures?

Introducing a god as a solution to a problem, while initially may be satisfying, with a little unpacking, it becomes hopelessly tangled, and no real solution in sight.

Probably the most common solution for which god is utilized is creation. The “why” of the fact the universe exists. But simply saying “God made it” is one step on a long, long journey of troubling questions. What method did this god use? (i.e. out of nothing, theistic evolution, abiogenesis, etc.) Did god create evil? Is god bound by laws or logic or space or time within creation? How does supernatural cross over to natural? Do humans have souls?

And we hear a plethora of theists, each giving their own particular philosophical stance on the who, what, where, when and why of this god proposed to make creation. And what we see—what we KNOW—is that this god is completely unverifiable. Frankly, the theist hasn’t a clue as to what god is like.

Rather than discussing the vast, book-length treatise on the nature of god, I ask a simple question: “Can god lie?” By placing this god beyond our observation, or ability to verify, we are unable to answer even this most basic, three-word question: “Can god lie?” A theist can discuss with me the immutable moral character of a triune being for pages on length, yet I realize they do not even have the ability to know what boundaries the god is working within when it comes to imparting truth. That kinda makes their dissertation on some vast property of god not very persuasive.

I don’t mind: “I don’t know.” Use it myself. There are plenty of things I do not have the knowledge of, either due to my lack of study of what other humans know, or my human limitation of observation. I don’t know if there are other habitable planets in the entire universe. Neither does any other human, due to our current technological limitations.

And, I can appreciate that a theist may also say, “I don’t know” when it comes to a god. But upon inspection, they don’t really know anything about a god. What I can’t fathom is how some minute characteristic of god is described and explained, yet when I ask about something more troubling, “god is mysterious” comes out. Well, if god is so mysterious, how did the theist know about the previous minute characteristic of god? Apparently god is not entirely mysterious—there are some things that can be known.

I am uncertain what method a theist can use to claim what can be “known” about god and what cannot. (Oh, and if I am told that we “know” things about god because of what this god told me, I go back to my three word question: “Can god lie?”)

This propensity to make positive assertions, with no ability to verify the same reminds me of my father and watermelons. As a parent is inclined to do, my father played a trick on us when we were young in order to entertain our insatiable curiosities.

He informed us that the insides of a watermelon are actually green.

“But all the watermelons we have ever seen are red!”
“Ahh. That is because when oxygen hits the inside part, it turns it red.”

He now had three boys focusing their normal destructive tendencies on resolving how to see the inside of a watermelon without oxygen touching it. No matter how fast we cut it, air reached it first. Drilling, x-rays, flashlights—everything we dreamed up we were stymied by the fact that in order to observe it, air must strike it first.

I get the same feeling. God, like the “green” inside of a watermelon, is placed out of our ability to observe. Yet the theist, like my father, makes a positive assertion as to the property of this god—“it is green.” Everything I try comes up with a red watermelon, so I finally begin to question how it is that oxygen causes something I can’t observe to become something I can. At which point the theist says, “I don’t know. God is mysterious.” And I suspect that they don’t know what color the inside of their watermelon is, either.

[A troubling side note. Many proponents of god recognize this inability to observe and introduce a concept of “faith.” A notion that one must believe despite the capability to confirm. In and of itself, faith is not bothersome. But by presenting it, the idea of “lack of faith” is also born. The idea that if you dare question the god, or question the person presenting the god, or question the idea behind god, you have “lack of faith” and therefore are barred by god.

Because people fear “lack of faith” they avoid even treading on any questions at all about their god. As if somehow their god could be offended and take away any reward by a mere human pausing to reflect on the reality presented by another human. It is then claimed that looking for god without the proper motivation will result in failure. A built-in safety switch to explain why God cannot be found by a skeptic. Clever.]

We watch gods change as humans gain knowledge and technology. Native Americans often believed the Great Spirit only made land newly discovered in the recent past. There was no reason for the Great Spirit to make more land than that—who was there to discover it? Humans thought god were responsible for earthquakes. Until plate tectonics was discovered. Humans thought god(s) revolved around the earth in the form of planets/stars and sun. Until we learned that the earth was not the center of the universe.

The printing press provided the opportunity for the god of Protestantism to break fully free from the god of Catholicism. 200 years ago, the Christian God supported slavery. Now, that would be aghast. 3000 years ago the Jewish God support polygamy.

We have watched creationism change from young-earth to old-earth to “intelligent design.” Why? Did the god provide new information? Nope—humans discovered it. Over the grand course of history, we watch as gods rise and then fall, as humans learn and advance and discover.

Because a god is a solution to a perceived problem. If that problem, such as how seasons form, or how the sun travels across the sky, or how sicknesses occur, or diseases are cured, or places are discovered or study produces interesting results, if that problem is resolved through other means—god becomes no longer necessary. It is discarded, or withdraw from consideration.

Now up until this point, any theist in the world would be standing next to me and nodding their head. “Yep, you got it right. Yep, there are plenty of other god beliefs that history has proven wrong. Yep, those other humans sure got god wrong.” Any theist in the world would agree I would be quite properly correct to vociferously say, “There is no such god” when reviewing these various other historical beliefs. They say it themselves!

Every theist in the world would be telling me that simply because some human says they have it right when it comes to god, it does not mean they are correct. The theist would concur with me that most human claims about god do not have it correct.

But wait. It is a human telling me to not trust humans as to what they say about god. It is a human telling me that other humans will be wrong about god. What makes the human standing next to me immune from the same concerns it is claiming about others? What gives this particular human the “inside scoop” as it were, to god?

And even this human will inform me that much of their information they received about god came from another human. Oh, they may claim some internal revelation, but again, that is out of reach of observation. The fact of the matter is that they heard it from another human. Or read something written by another human. Which another human informed them was from god.

To the theist—imagine standing on a stage. In your hands is a rope. Looking up, that rope is held by another person. The person who provided you your immediate information about god. On the rope is the word “legacy.” It is where you get your particular theistic belief from. And above that person is where s/he got their information from, with yet another rope. Looking back from person to person, you can trace the steps through various people, along pieces of rope, back to the very first recorded instance of your god.

If you are a Protestant that rope would travel through the likes of Martin Luther, Eusebius, Paul, Jesus, David, Moses—right back to the person who wrote Genesis. You have a long legacy leading directly from god to your belief.

But standing next to your right, on this stage, is a female with very, very similar beliefs about god such as yours. Perhaps the two of you only disagree about a minor point on predestination, or a small passage of scripture. And she is also holding a rope. Because the two of you have such similar beliefs, her rope would fairly quickly be joined by some person in your line and then travel together.

Standing next to her is another female with slightly different beliefs than hers, and a little greater difference than yours. She too, holds a rope. Hers, as well, goes to a person and so on, eventually merging with your line.

If you are within the Christian god worldview, as you look down the line, there are 15,000 people to your right. Look the other way, there are 15,000 more. All with lines. All looking at you and pointing straight up as to how their legacy also has a direct line to god. Sure, the farther away they are, the higher up until those lines converge.

It gets worse. The development of the god belief is not a straight line. As you look up, there are places people holding 100’s of ropes for where the beliefs differed off after them. Some are only holding one rope. Some people are taking 3 or 4 ropes from people above them, and holding 3 or 4 ropes for people below them. It is not 30,000 sets of straight ropes, but a tangled, interwoven weave of ropes criss-crossing as beliefs develop over time.

Further, it is not a clean, straight line. As you look now, you are in the middle of a crowd. There are people who believe slightly different on one point with you, but agree on everything else. Others that disagree on another point, but everything else is in agreement. All holding ropes. Some holding a number of ropes, having received the legacy from a variety of beliefs.

And that is just Christianity. Add Muslims, Mormons, Jews and we see more and more entangled ropes and beliefs.

As you look, you see where ropes end, as a belief ends. Or a large segment that trails off into nothingness over the course of history.

Add in the other 100,000 varieties of gods, and their various nuances, some “borrowing” from others. Even Judaism borrowed from Babylonian beliefs. Christianity borrowed from cynic philosophers.

As I step back, I see a huge clump of people and ropes, with long legacies, and intertwined connections, and see, frankly, a mess.

As history continues, you will pass your legacy on. So will others. The ropes will continue, some will end, and some will blossom into whole new sections. You, your ropes and your line are a miniscule portion of the entire picture.

And every theist on there is telling me two things:

1) They are right
2) The people not in their direct line of ropes are wrong.

It is a cacophony of voices clamoring, “I am right. They are wrong. I am right. They are wrong.”

And so I am left asking another simple question; “By what method do I determine which ropes among that mess have the divine thread of truth? How do I tell which ropes are human, and which are divine? What system do I develop by which I can say, ‘This rope is correct and that is not?’ Is there something more than cries of ‘Believe me. Believe me.’?”

I have yet to see such a consistent method. A method that is more than just a person pointing to their own rope and claiming it is correct. A method that makes a person’s legacy stand out on its own.

Why do I say there is no god? Standing next to me are numerous people. While they believe in a god, they point to your god and say, “That is not correct.” And, for 99% of the time, you stand next to me, and in agreement with all those others, you point to another person’s god and say “That is not correct.”

Think of all the people that say your god is not correct. No matter what you believe, over the course of the entire human history, your god-belief is in the vast, vast minority. If there have been only 100,000 god-beliefs, 99.999% of the beliefs have said your particular version was wrong.

It does not mean you are wrong, of course, but it does mean for your position to be persuasive as to its reality, you need to really, REALLY show some evidence. If we filled a college football stadium, you would be the sole person claiming the reality of your god, whereas the other 99,999 occupants would shout out a resounding, “NO!” Best have something outstandingly convincing!

After watching all the theists pointing their fingers at each other, proclaiming, “There is no god such as yours” I step out of the ring, see the tangled ropes and the pointing fingers and say, “There is no god.”

It makes sense.

24 comments:

Telmi said...

DagoodS, an excellent expose.

The God-delusion, unfortunately, is found in the majority of people.

But there is evidence that some people are gradually getting wise to how deluded they have been, and are stripping themselves of their delusion. This is encouraging.

The danger, of course, is to have people with the God-delusion messing up politics with their deluded beliefs.

tigg13 said...

Excellent, excellent post Dagoods. This was the very issue that finally snapped me out of the christian brain fog that I grew up in.

What I can't figure out now, as I look at this issue from a more objective view point, is why this isn't a bigger concern for christians?

If, as christianity asserts, there is only one path (rope) to salvation and the only alternative to salvation is damnation, then who's actually at the other end of those other 29,999 ropes?

There has got to be an auful lot of people who are absolutely convinsed that they are on the express flight to heaven and are going to be terribly surprised by where they find themselves when they get there.

And yet, most christians that I have met seem to think that doctrinal differences of more cosmetic than anything else. I've seen some that will change churches like they are changing gyms.

They go to one church on Friday, a different one on Sunday and spend Wednesday nights studing in a third.

I guess it's the lack of thought that counts.

jim earl said...

Thanks, Dagoods, for an easy to read, down to earth post. I really enjoy all your writings. They make good sense and are easy to understand. Keep them coming

Tigg 13 said:
What I can't figure out now, as I look at this issue from a more objective view point, is why this isn't a bigger concern for christians?

My take:

Christians are not concerned with the down side of Christianity. They believe because they want and need to believe.


Tigg 13 again:
"There has got to be an auful lot of people who are absolutely convinsed that they are on the express flight to heaven and are going to be terribly surprised by where they find themselves when they get there."

My take:
The sad thing is, they will never know the joy or disappointment of their pipedreams or mind games. They may live their entire lives believing in the afterlife but the only ones to enjoy any type of beliefs are the living. When one dies, the dreams die with them. The dead have no part in life, that is a fact. Otherwise, we would have to say that people like Sylvia Brown or John Edwards are being truthful when they claim to talk to the dead. Like Michael Shermer says, "talking to the dead is easy, the trick is, to get them to talk back."

Now Tigg13, don't take this the wrong way. I am on your side and often find myself saying the very same things about people whose beliefs rule their lives. But I don't believe the dead can be surprised about anything because, well, they're dead. Life is full of surprises, death has none.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Where did the idea of god come from? The worship of the sun as explained. As for the holy babble, did god dictate it? Were there any eyewitnesses? How the fuck can you worship god without evidence? Again, about how many different gods are there? One fuckin prayer for each please!

tigg13 said...

Hey Jim.

I'm not worried about what dead people think either. I'm just trying to look at this from the christian point of view. I don't understand why they are so concerned about unbelievers when there would appear to be a much bigger threat to them coming from all of the "false" christian churches.

If, by their reasoning, these false churches aren't leading people towards salvation, then they must be doing the devil's work (again, their view, not mine).

Of course they all know that they, themselves aren't in danger (because they each know the one, true truth). But shouldn't they be worried about all of the other poor, dumb shmucks who "think" that they are doing the lord's work but are really leading innocent victems down the path to damnation?

I guess it just all boils down to that selfish, "me first" attitude that christianity reinforces. "To hell with the rest of the planet - so long as I get to live happily ever after."

Anonymous said...

Amazing post! I love the imagery. I could just imagine this being narrated over an animation.

It seems we atheists also have a tangled network of ropes, but nobody is claiming that they are connected to a deity.

Anonymous said...

DagoodS writes, “I am uncertain what method a theist can use to claim what can be “known” about god and what cannot. (Oh, and if I am told that we “know” things about god because of what this god told me, I go back to my three word question: “Can god lie?”).”

We can know certain attributes that all possible gods would need in order to be able to lie. The attributes follow from our understanding of what it means to lie. We know that all gods that can lie must exist. We know that gremlins cannot lie, if they do not exist. We know that all gods that can lie must be capable of possessing knowledge. We know that rocks cannot lie because rocks can not think. We know that all gods that can lie must be self-aware. We know that bacteria cannot lie because bacteria lack sufficient self-awareness. We know that self-awareness is an attribute of persons, so all gods who can lie must be persons. We know that all gods who can lie must be able to discern truth from untruth. We know that all gods who can lie must chose to deceive - they must be moral beings. We know that all gods who can lie must not be perfectly good, for we understand that lying is not good, at least, when others lie to us.

DagoodS does seem to know some things about all gods. 1. He claims to know how all gods came into being. All gods came into being as a result of human fears born of human desires to control an uncontrollable world. 2. He claims to know that nothing can be known about all gods, his conclusion following the premise that only things that can be observed can be known and the premise that no gods can be observed.

If knowledge is limited to seen things, many things we know can not be known. We can not see love, truth, justice, the laws of nature, gravity. We cannot put them into a jar to observe them at our leisure with the tools of science. Put a jar filled with love, truth, justice, a law, gravity, and etc. on a scale. The scale will weigh only the jar. Nonetheless we have reasons to believe we have knowledge about many things that cannot be empirically observed.

Of course, all people believe in empirically unverifiable things. Positivists believe that only things that can be verified should count as knowledge. The principle that knowledge must be verifiable is not open to empirical verification. How can we be certain that the verification requirement is not merely born of a fear that arose out of a need to obtain a feeling of control over a capricious world? Maybe some people simply want and need to believe that all knowledge is must be verifiable. How can we prove that our knowledge corresponds to reality? If our minds are epiphenomenon of chemical reactions in our brains, why think we can obtain truth? What physical evidence could we use to really, really show that we know anything at all?

Knowledge is justified true belief. Some knowledge can be justified by appeal to a reliable authority. Some knowledge can be justified by direct observation. Some knowledge can be justified by indirect observation. Some knowledge can be justified by the laws of reason. Some knowledge can not be denied without self refutation. For example, we cannot deny that we can know without refuting our denial.

There are consistent methods that can be used to determine if someone is just pointing to his own belief and claiming it is true. Not all truth claims are arbitrary assertions. Conflicting truth claims do not prove that everyone is wrong. The law of excluded middle requires that either one belief is true or its opposite is true, but not both are true. Atheists can think theists wrong about the existence of god. Atheists cannot think theists are correct. Either atheists are right or theist are right, but both are neither right nor wrong. In making a truth claim, everyone must think that he is right and those who disagree are wrong. It can not be otherwise.

It makes little sense to accept a belief other than on its own merits. DegoodS entitled his post correctly. He explained why he says that there is no god. However, he does not justify his belief. He only says why he rejects his understanding of theistic belief. Nonetheless, I found his post worth thinking about. I enjoyed reading it. Maybe I will read a few other posts.

tigg13 said...

Anonymous, you said, "he [Dagoods] does not justify his belief. He only says why he rejects his understanding of theistic belief."

Dagoods stated a logical conclusion based on the observation that theists cannot justify their beliefs.

Your insinuation that this is due to his "understanding" (or, proposed, lack there of) is nothing more than a smoke screen to try and shift the burden of proof.

Sorry pal. It's still firmly nestled on the theists' shoulders.

.:webmaster:. said...

"If knowledge is limited to seen things, many things we know can not be known. We can not see love, truth, justice, the laws of nature, gravity. We cannot put them into a jar to observe them at our leisure with the tools of science. Put a jar filled with love, truth, justice, a law, gravity, and etc. on a scale. The scale will weigh only the jar. Nonetheless we have reasons to believe we have knowledge about many things that cannot be empirically observed."

So your god is a human emotion, a human concept, or just a law of physics? I thought your god was a living being, with backparts that could be seen, at least by Moses.

Your comparison doesn't make sense, anonymous. Love and justice are concepts that only exist in the minds of human beings. Take humans out of the picture, and see if you still have either love or justice anywhere in nature. If you are saying that god only exists in the minds of human beings, well, OK then.

Gravity is just a word to encapuslate matter's physical law of attraction. If your god is just a word to describe some laws of nature, well, OK to that too.

Really though, Tigg is right. All you are trying to do is shift the burden of proof. It is a bad apologetic to say, "Hey, some things are invisible, therefore my invisible GOD exists!"

Anonymous said...

I did not write an apologetic for the existence of god. DagoodS stated that nothing could be known about all gods. I argued that some things could be known about all gods. I argued that empirical verifiability is not a sufficient framework to support all knowledge claims. I raised the question of what should count as sufficient support of a belief. Does a critique of an antithetic belief count as sufficient support of a belief? It seems to me that fairness requires that neither belief in the existence of god nor disbelief in the existence of god should be granted fallback privilege. A theist ought not believe in the existence of god simply because he rejects atheist arguments against the existence of god and an atheist ought not believe that god does not exist simply because he rejects theist arguments for the existence of god. One should have both negative and positive reasons to hold a belief; otherwise, one would better remain on the swaying tightrope between belief and disbelief. Whether or not any gods exist was not my subject of concern.

I am amused by webmasters granting permission to believe in god, as long as god exists only in the mind. Being magnanimous, I grant webmaster permission to disbelieve in any gods that exist only in his mind.

boomSLANG said...

Anony-non: I argued that some things could be known about all gods.

Even so---presuppositional/faulty conclusion. Just as if we applied this same "logic" to the following:

"Some things can be known about all leprechauns."

Firstly, leprechauns would first have to exist, beyond concept, in order to make any objective determinations as to which attributes would, and would not, apply to them. Secondly, even if you had empirical evidence for one leprechaun, you still couldn't draw absolute conclusions for "all" leprechauns.

Thus, the only "knowledge" we have to date about "all leprechans", is the same as what we know about "all gods"---that is, that there's no evidence for any such beings, beyond concept.

And furthermore, even as a concept---we can't even say that "all" leprechauns are "green", because there "might" be some that are blue.

Anony-non: I argued that empirical verifiability is not a sufficient framework to support all knowledge claims.

Again, like leprechauns, yes... evidence FOR "gods" might exist, and we just don't "know" about it yet. This seems to be your underlying premise. By this framework, all gods "might" exist; all leprechauns "might" exist. Poseiden "might" be sitting with his handy trident in the middle of the undiscovered depths of the Pacific ocean; Lucky the leprechaun "might be" doing cartwheels somewhere on a grassy knoll in Ireland. Now, shall we run with what is more likely?

Anon: It seems to me that fairness requires that neither belief in the existence of god nor disbelief in the existence of god should be granted fallback privilege. A theist ought not believe in the existence of god simply because he rejects atheist arguments against the existence of god and an atheist ought not believe that god does not exist simply because he rejects theist arguments for the existence of god.

Again---the Atheist isn't saying that "gods" are disproven. They are saying that "gods" are UNproven. Please learn the difference, and stop trying to level the "playing field". Mind you, many Theists reject the need for evidence in order to emphatically state that "God exists". For them, it's "heads, I win"..."tails, I win". And you're talking about "fairness"? Please. If you take something on "Faith", you are claiming nothing more than a form of agnosticism....i.e.."I don't know".

Anony: One should have both negative and positive reasons to hold a belief

Lack of belief isn't a "belief". A position of neutrality isn't a conviction. Skepticism isn't a worldview. It's obvious you have zero clue as to what it means to be an Atheist.

God 'less.

.:webmaster:. said...

I'm not sure where you got the idea I was granting anyone "permission," but whatever.

There is no neutral ground between belief and non-belief in your god. Either one believes in your god or one does not believe in your god.

To paraphrase what your Bible attributes to Jesus, you are either with him or against him. You don't have an option there.

Regardless, you are the one making a positive claim, so you are the one with the burden of proof.

For instance, I don't believe in UFOs, Big Foot, Leprechauns, Flying Spaghetti Monsters, or tiny pink unicorns said to be hovering about Uranus. (Think phonetics here.)

I don't believe in these things no matter the fact that many people have believed in at least some of these things. Does that mean I am expressing faith that these things don't exist? I don't believe Hitler was a time traveler from the 21st and 1/2 Century who escaped back to his own time. Should I remain neutral on this belief of mine? Perhaps, Hitler is a time traveler! Perhaps I should keep an open mind!

Ridiculous to think Hitler was a time traveler? Why? You suggest that it is reasonable to simply believe in a magical, invisible, flying, un-dead, god-man, who was once a talking bush. Surely my proposition of a time-traveling despot is no less unreasonable than yours.

The point, anonymous, is that when people make fantastic claims, it is up to the person making the claim to provide some good solid evidence supporting the claim. Until then, the default, and wisest position, is "I don't think so."

Anonymous said...

This will be my last post. I thank those who responded to my two other posts. I do have a degree of agreement with atheists. I think it unproven that a god who can lie does exist. I believe that most gods do not exist, except in the minds of their worshipers. A god who can lie would not be good, so such a being would not be worthy of being worshiped as a god. If powerful beings that can lie do exist then they should be feared as devils rather than worshiped as gods. I respect the skepticism of atheists. A bit of skepticism is wise because we do live in a world where lies are told.

Whether or not a god, who does not lie, exists I cannot attempt to prove others. I am just an old farmer, who knows that, like grain, truth does not grow without effort. Thinking is hard work for both atheist and theist.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Have to give props to 'Nony this time. He/she definitely put some thought into this. But I still think that DagoodS nearly knocked the ball out of the park with his post, though.

"We know that all gods that can lie must exist. We know that gremlins cannot lie, if they do not exist."

This is a given. In order for anything to think or act it must first exist. Therefore, if we discuss something such as a god or a gremlin and what such things might think or do there must be an a priori assumption concerning their basic existence. But assumptions are not knowledge any more than a rock is a mountain.

"If knowledge is limited to seen things, many things we know can not be known. We can not see love, truth, justice, the laws of nature, gravity. We cannot put them into a jar to observe them at our leisure with the tools of science...Nonetheless we have reasons to believe we have knowledge about many things that cannot be empirically observed."

While we can't observe these concepts directly, we can observe their consequences. We can also make fairly reliable predictions about them. Each of the concepts you've listed have consequences, and are observable to the extent that they influence us in predictable ways. The consequences of the laws of nature are certainly observable and validating. Love is similar in that it has physiological as well as emotional consequences. Truth and justice, though more enigmatic, are discernible by the presence of their opposites.

Gods are categorically different. They are concepts consisting of concepts. As described above, we may be able to indirectly validate some of the concepts (many of them contradictory) ascribed to the concept of a god, but cannot validate gods themselves. We can only predict the consequences of the "God effect" to the extent that we can predict the consequences of say, benevolence. Benevolence might thereby be deemed a consequence of a god, but problems arise when malevolence is also deemed a consequence of of a god. Furthermore, how do we determine if benevolence (or malevolence) are consequences of gods themselves, or of belief in them? It gets even worse, because concepts such as omnipotence and omniscience are not subject to validation even indirectly, because consequence itself must be the consequence of such all-encompassing ideas.

Yikes!

Bottom line: Our knowledge of love, truth, justice, and the laws of nature is not based on mere assumption(s), whereas knowledge of the allegedly divine is.

"How can we be certain that the verification requirement is not merely born of a fear that arose out of a need to obtain a feeling of control over a capricious world?"

At its core, the drive to explain the world (in any terms at all) is the result of our fear of the unknown; of being out of control.

"How can we prove that our knowledge corresponds to reality?"

We can't. Not with absolute certainty, anyway. Reality is judged to be reality based on a protocol (i.e., a set of agreed-upon rules or standards). I personally think most arguments between believers and skeptics stem from a fundamental disagreement over those standards.

Both groups usually include assumptions, intuition, logic, experience, perception, empirical observation, and evidence in this protocol. With most topics, people tend to apply the same protocol in the same way. But in the case of religious belief, those who favor credulity tend to evaluate logic, observation, and evidence in light of their assumptions, experiences, and intuition. Skeptics, on the other hand, tend to evaluate their assumptions, experiences, and intuition in light of logic, observation, and evidence. Almost a complete reversal.

That's an oversimplification, of course. Most people fall on a continuum between skepticism and belief, and wander toward one or the other from time to time. The complex interplay of various components that make up the protocol we apply to our world doesn't lend itself to a neat description either.

We're all credulous by nature. We're born to believe. Skepticism has to be learned, and is usually applied imperfectly. Just the same, healthy skepticism moves us closer to objectivity than credulity does. Why? Skeptics are comfortable with the unknown, with uncertainty, with the search for more information. In fact, it's this uncertainty that drives exploration; allows us to learn. As a result, the skeptic's demand for clear, unambiguous evidence enables us to transcend our essential credulity and find useful and nominally objective information.

But belief is useful for decision-making. A pure skeptic would forever wallow in doubt, immobilized by the demand for more information before a conclusion is reached. So we resolve our doubts by settling on those ideas which have been validated by evidence, and reject those that haven't.

Believers are usually ucomfortable with uncertainty, and need the security of knowing in order to cope. But a pure believer would never learn anything, hobbled by the very certainty he clings to. The problem is alleviated slightly when the believer allows for a bit of skepticism. Unfortunately, it's usually applied to everything but his own deeply-held convictions.

Returning to the question, we can't know with absolute certainty that our knowledge corresponds to reality. But skepticism allows us a closer approach to objective reality than belief does, because belief inherently doesn't allow objectivity to interfere with deep-seated subjective ideals.

"I think it unproven that a god who can lie does exist. I believe that most gods do not exist, except in the minds of their worshipers. A god who can lie would not be good, so such a being would not be worthy of being worshiped as a god."

I think it also unproven that a god who can't (or doesn't) lie exists. I seems reasonable for me to say that if gods were to exist, there would be reliable evidence to that effect. So far none has been forthcoming so I conclude that gods are highly improbable. Nearly impossible, in fact. However, I reserve the right to be proven wrong.

As a final note, worthiness (in the sense of something good or bad) isn't indicative of truth or reality. Desirability perhaps, but never the latter. To refer back to your first few statements, even a god who doesn't lie must first exist.

Anonymous said...

In rereading my posts and the replies to my posts, I have decided to write one last post to explain why I think it futile to attempt to prove the existence of God in this forum. Before I begin my explanation, let me answer a few points raised by my responders.


boomSLANG wrote, “Lack of belief isn't a "belief". A position of neutrality isn't a conviction. Skepticism isn't a worldview. It's obvious you have zero clue as to what it means to be an Atheist.”

When you claim that a lack of belief is not a belief you deny the word, belief, two of its primary meanings (#1 and #3 below)(Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation).

belief

1. acceptance of truth of something: acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty
2. trust: confidence that somebody or something is good or will be effective
3. something that somebody believes in: a statement, principle, or doctrine that a person or group accepts as true
4. opinion: an opinion, especially a firm and considered one
5. RELIGION religious faith: religious faith



By boomSlang’s claim that an atheist only believes that God is unproven, I doubt that he has a clue as to what it means to be an atheist.

atheist

unbeliever in God or deities: somebody who does not believe in God or deities (Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation)



One who claims that he only believes that the existence of God is unproven has stepped across the boundary line between atheism and agnosticism, unless he hold that the existence of God is unproven and un-provable. DaGoodS claimed that nothing could be known about God. If nothing can be known about God, clearly, the existence of God is not provable. By his claim, DaGoodS proved that he is an atheist.



Webmaster invented a number of nonsense ideas. To compare nonsense ideas with ideas about God assumes the comparison is not nonsense. Although we are capable of imagining nonsense, we know it is nonsense. We easily identify nonsense ideas, such as the idea that Hitler was a time traveler. I am aware of no one who tries to prove the existence of leprechauns.

We know that other ideas, such as justice, become nonsense ideas if we hold that they exist only in our minds. If justice is only a reification, the human desire to make the world more just is evidence of self-gullibility. We know that the concept of justice does not exist only in our minds. The concept of justice is not nonsense. Since it is not nonsense, it must have a cause other than reification.

I agree with J. C. Samuelson that reality is judged to be reality based on a set of rules or standards, however, I go further than he. Although theists and atheists use many of the same standards to judge reality, they also differ on the standards to use to judge their beliefs. Neither theist nor atheist hold the intellectual high ground that enables them to declare what standards should be used by everyone.

That difference in standards is apparent from my refusal to accept the definitional antithesis of believer and skeptic implied by J.C. Samuelson when he writes, “Most people fall on a continuum between skepticism and belief…” I refuse to accept his limited definition of belief that is being used so as to force skepticism and belief onto a continuum.

For me, the opposite of a skeptic is a dogmatist. An extreme skeptic denies that he knows truth. A dogmatist is not open to any evidence that might go against his certitude that he knows truth. Someone might claim to be a skeptic yet in fact be a dogmatist. J. C. Samuelson writes, “Believers are usually uncomfortable with uncertainty, and need the security of knowing in order to cope.” He conflates believers with dogmatists. Dogmatists, not believers, need certitude.

I have four reasons to refuse to attempt to prove the existence of God to atheists.

1. If no knowledge about God is possible, no amount of evidence could convince an atheist to believe in the existence of God. It makes no sense to try to prove what an atheist thinks cannot be proven.

2. Refusal of someone who claims that God is unproven but will not say what he might accept as proof of God’s existence is a functional atheist. Unless an a person will give some indication of what might satisfy as a proof of God’s existence, thereby admitting that knowledge about God is possible, then providing evidence for the existence of God is as futile as finding a needle in a haystack when one does not know what a needle or a haystack looks like.

3. The atheist has a right to his belief. I have no interest in trying to prove something true that another person does not want to believe is true.

4. The existence and the nonexistence of God are presuppositions of different world views. Theist world views accept as a given that God exists. It would be nonsense for someone to claim that he is both a Christian and an atheist. Atheist world views accept as a given that God does not exist. It is nonsense for someone to claim that he is both a theist and a Secular Humanist. Within science, small bits of evidence are not sufficient to cause a paradigm shift. It is the same within world views. Evidence that seems to conflict with the presuppositions of a scientific paradigm are put aside as anomalies. Once again, it is the same with world views. Unless the anomalies rise to a level sufficient to call in question the truth of the world view as a whole, a believer of a world view will not question the truth of the presuppositions of his world view. From within their world view, atheists think theists foolish for believing that God exists. The existence of God makes no sense from within an atheist world view. It is foolish to attempt to prove the existence of God to anyone who holds to an atheist world view, unless some common ground is found on which to begin fruitful discussion.

My refusal to attempt to prove the existence of God in this forum is not a retreat into the ignorance of blind faith. The dichotomy between faith and reason is false. The separation depends on defining faith and reason so as to seem in conflict. Faith is defined as belief without evidence, thus the word, faith can be used as a pejorative by atheists who by definition have made faith unreasonable.

Old Farmer

boomSLANG said...

Old farmer wrote: I have decided to write one last post to explain why I think it futile to attempt to prove the existence of God in this forum.

Um, it's "futile" because you have zero objective evidence for the existance of any supernatural "being"..i.e.."god".

One of two things is true: Either things can be objectively/universally known about a supernatural/meta-physical being..i.e.."God"; or things cannot be objectively/universally known about a supernatural being. So which is it, Mr. Farmer?

Hypothetically---if things can be objectively/universally known about said "being", then shit, someone would obviously HAVE to have testable and falsifiable evidence to "know" that things can be objectively/universally "known" about a supernatural being. And in this case, ***I ask that this evidence be put forward at this time.

On the other hand, if we can agree that things cannot be objectively/universally known about a supernatural being, then obviously, we default to an "agnostic" position..i.e..NO knowledge; CAN'T know; I DON'T know; we DO NOT f%cking know; NO ONE knows; it CANNOT be known; withOUT knowledge......ya follow, Mr Farmer? lol

Now, just so there's no more silly "semantics" diversions---one can be "agnostic" and STILL lack belief. I can admit that I DON'T "KNOW" if a meta-physical being exists: 1) because it CAN'T be known, because I'm not omniscient and I live in a physical world(remember, if it CAN be known..see here***), and 2) regardless of "1"... I just don't believe such a being or realm exists...just like you don't likely believe "Poseiden" exists.

Mind you, Mr. Farmer.... just because I lack absolute knowledge that said supernatural being exists(you do too, until you put forth evidence), doesn't mean I MUST "hope"..i.e.."have Faith" that such a being DOES exist. And additionally, just because it cannot be known, doesn't mean that said being DOES exist, by default.

In other words, Mr Farmer--"Agnosticism" is about "knowledge"; "Atheism" is about "belief". 'Glad thAT's cleared up.

boomSLANG wrote, “Lack of belief isn't a "belief". A position of neutrality isn't a conviction. Skepticism isn't a worldview. It's obvious you have zero clue as to what it means to be an Atheist.”

Old Farmer came back with:
When you claim that a lack of belief is not a belief you deny the word, belief, two of its primary meanings (#1 and #3 below)(Encarta® World English Dictionary © & (P) 1999 Microsoft Corporation).

belief

1. acceptance of truth of something: acceptance by the mind that something is true or real, often underpinned by an emotional or spiritual sense of certainty
2. trust: confidence that somebody or something is good or will be effective
3. something that somebody believes in: a statement, principle, or doctrine that a person or group accepts as true
4. opinion: an opinion, especially a firm and considered one
5. RELIGION religious faith: religious faith
[bold added]

Regarding # "1": I never said that I was "certain" of the non-existance of gods. I said I was neutral...i.e..waiting on and open to objective evidence---however, until said evidence is put forth, I don't HAVE a "belief" in gods, thanks.

Regarding the charge that I "deny" the word "belief"...um, Bzzzzzzt!...wrong, agAIN. I believe the word "belief" exists. That's certainly not to "deny" it in that sense. However, I don't HAVE a "belief" in supernatural beings or realms. Again, THAT is what I'm stating. So, while I don't deny the word "belief", itself, I do deny A "belief" in gods, leprechauns, unicorns, bigfoot, etc, etc.

Once more---lack of belief, is NOT "belief". I hope this penetrates your skullcap this time. If not, put it this way, Mr. Farmer---if "Atheism" is a "belief", then NOT collecting butterflies is a "hobbie". M'kay?

Regarding # 3: Show me the "doctrine" for people who do NOT believe in gods. Show me the "doctrine" for people who do NOT believe in elves. Show me how either of those non-beliefs is to posit a "belief".

If I ask you, Mr Farmer, if you believe in Aliens, you wouldn't likely answer, "Why YES, boomSLANG....I DO BELIEVE that Aliens don't exist".

Your weasle-wording and attempts at shifting the burden of proof has accomplished nothing. You're spinning your wheels. Evidence please.

Waiting.

dano said...

If there were an intelligent force, or cause out there that put everything into motion, it is the same force that prepared me, in its omniscient, omnipotent way to control the firing of every neuron in my brain and every keystroke of this post.

So, case closed. What I am thinking and typing is exactly what it wants me to think and type. This is "It's" message: "GO FORTH AND MULTIPLY, until I decide to wipe you all out AGAIN!!!!!. GOT IT?"
DAN

dano said...

........or I could just be part of one of natures most recent experiments.

I have children and my children have children, and I am not a death worshiping religious cultist, so it must be working!
Dan

.:webmaster:. said...

Anonymous farmer:

People have strongly believed in thousands of deities throughout history. I personally do not know a single living person who currently believes in RA or Zeus. Everyone today knows those gods are inventions of the imagination. Yet, for thousands of years, people were completely convinced these gods lived.

Your god is no different.

The voyages of Odysseus are quite obviously (to us) fabrications. Yet, for thousands of years, those adventures were considered gospel truth by millions.

The comparison is obvious.

The reality is, is that there is NO evidence for any gods. If there were evidence, then it would not require FAITH to believe in a god.

Gods are as real as all the nonsense examples anyone could ever give. They are all products of imagination.

A quote from M. Tullius Cicero: "In the question now before us, the greater part of mankind have united to acknowledge that which is most probable, and which we are all by nature led to suppose, namely, that there are Gods. Protagoras doubted whether there were any. Diagoras the Melian and Theodorus of Cyrene entirely believed there were no such beings. But they who have affirmed that there are Gods, have expressed such a variety of sentiments on the subject, and the disagreement between them is so great, that it would be tiresome to enumerate their opinions; for they give us many statements respecting the forms of the Gods, and their places of abode, and the employment of their lives."

Naturally, Cicero is referring to Greek Gods here, not your Yahweh and his son. Regardless, topic just shows that some things haven't changed much in thousands of years.

alanh said...

Old Farmer wrote:

I have four reasons to refuse to attempt to prove the existence of God to atheists.

If you could prove the existence of God to atheists, then we would be getting somewhere.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Old Farmer,

"[it's] futile to attempt to prove the existence of God in this forum."

Frankly, I think it's futile to attempt to prove or disprove the existence of God in any forum. It can make for interesting and thought-provoking conversations, but proof is a matter of opinion.

"By boomSlang’s claim that an atheist only believes that God is unproven, I doubt that he has a clue as to what it means to be an atheist...One who claims that he only believes that the existence of God is unproven has stepped across the boundary line between atheism and agnosticism, unless he hold that the existence of God is unproven and un-provable."

Semantics. Originally, yes, the term atheist implied a positive belief against god(s). Over the years things have changed somewhat.

Though there are some atheists who still state unequivocally that there are (or can be) no gods, many others (such as boomSLANG or myself) are closer to classic agnosticism. That, however, does not imply that we don't know what it means to be an atheist.

The Wikipedia article on the topic encapsulates this nicely.

"To compare nonsense ideas with ideas about God assumes the comparison is not nonsense. Although we are capable of imagining nonsense, we know it is nonsense."

Many of us still do not recognize nonsense as nonsense. There are people who still believe the earth is flat, or that it is hollow. They can even cite boatloads of evidence to support their claims. However, the quality of their evidence is extremely flimsy and is contradicted by boatloads of quality evidence.

To relate this to a discussion of deity, most of us will readily admit that there is no quality evidence that gods do not exist. However, there is also no quality evidence that gods do exist. Furthermore, there is quality evidence that the universe is ruled by natural processes without the need of a deity to intervene. There is also quality evidence that humanity imagines many different gods, and that the books or stories about them are deeply flawed.

WM's comparisons are valid because the examples he used fall into the category of extraordinary claims. The fundamental mantra of the skeptic is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. A claim that gods exist is extraordinary when compared to the claim that only the natural world exists. We have quality evidence for the latter, and flimsy evidence for the former. Thus, it is incumbent upon those who advance such extraordinary claims to provide quality evidence.

You might ask who determines what is "quality" evidence. For that we have to look deeper into what kinds of evidence are considered reliable. As an example, anecdotal evidence - personal testimony - is among the most common types of evidence used to support extraordinary claims, yet it has been consistently been shown to be unreliable. This does not mean that it is guaranteed false, but it does mean that additional (and more concrete) support is needed. By contrast, evidence that results from rigorous and controlled testing is considered reliable because it has withstood carefully constructed attempts to discredit it.

On a cautionary note, I should add that the above applies to the evidence, not the hypothesis it's used to support. That the god hypothesis has withstood many carefully constructed attempts to discredit it (from the believer's perspective) should not be construed as evidence in favor of its validity. The evidence for deity can be determined to be flimsy at best. That there are those who cling to that evidence doesn't mean it meets quality control standards.

Going back to the WM's examples, each claim can be supported by evidence. What evidence exists, however, doesn't meet the standard of quality that's necessary to show their validity.

"Neither theist nor atheist hold the intellectual high ground that enables them to declare what standards should be used by everyone."

It's true enough that neither theist nor atheist can dictate to the other what standard is acceptable for all. Nor does accepting a flexible standard imply lower intelligence. However, this does not mean that all standards are equal, or that they produce equally valid results.

Rigorous standards allow us to transcend human fallibility, at least to an extent. As such they will inherently produce results that more closely describe an objective reality. Flexible standards allow imagination and flawed perception to twist objective reality according to our assumptions.

To some degree, we all have flexible standards. Yet the difference between the skeptic and the believer is that the skeptic strives to adhere to a rigorous standard for describing existence.

"I refuse to accept his limited definition of belief that is being used so as to force skepticism and belief onto a continuum...For me, the opposite of a skeptic is a dogmatist."

More semantics. Change the terms to whatever you like and we all still fall on a continuum between one extreme and the other; from strong belief to strong disbelief. Apparently we've also failed to communicate that disbelief is not itself a belief.

According to the American Heritage® Dictionary, disbelief is a "refusal or reluctance to believe."

Let's say I believe myself to have had an NDE (Near Death Experience). You disbelieve me and say that to become a believer you'll need to see some strong evidence. Suppose further that I present some evidence in the form of my personal testimony and those of others as proof. Holding to a more rigorous standard of evidence, you respond that you're still not a believer. Does your refusal or reluctance to believe qualify as a belief?

Certainly it's more complex than that (e.g., categories of belief), but hopefully you get the idea.

"He conflates believers with dogmatists. Dogmatists, not believers, need certitude."

Is the distinction necessary? Maybe I was generalizing but perhaps that can be forgiven. After all, many believers are dogmatists with regard to the reality of their chosen deity. To be sure, some view their god(s) as simply personifying this concept or that, but take a look around you; a majority of believers in the world today still consider their god(s) to be actual, physical and/or spiritual entities that exist either in the world or in some supernatural realm beyond our reach.

When was the last time you heard a believer confess to not knowing if their god is real?

"1. If no knowledge about God is possible, no amount of evidence could convince an atheist to believe in the existence of God."

If no knowledge about God is possible, then there can be no evidence to consider in any amount. But that's not reality. We can know that the god hypothesis is unproven and improbable.

We know humanity has an affinity for belief and that to a one, believers will tell you that a person must have faith before God will present himself for examination. We know that god(s) have been described in many different ways, and that most of them are contradictory. We know that books cannot be witnesses of themselves, and that this applies to books about god(s) as well. We know that people can present evidence (albeit flimsy) justifying their belief in deity.

Put another way, we know quite a bit about beliefs in god(s), and that these beliefs and their trappings are themselves the only source of "evidence" about god(s) ever presented or subject to examination. Unfortunately, under scrutiny most of it fails to live up to the rigorous standards already discussed.

In short, we do know something about god; it's an unproven concept of dubious merit.

"2. ...Unless an a person will give some indication of what might satisfy as a proof of God’s existence, thereby admitting that knowledge about God is possible, then providing evidence for the existence of God is as futile as finding a needle in a haystack when one does not know what a needle or a haystack looks like."

I agree it's futile given the circumstances. As for What would satisfy as proof of God's existence, we have to begin with the hypothesis.

The hypothesis must be complete, consistent, and workable. It must describe God's characteristics, make predictions concerning what results we can expect to find, and be subject to revision should evidence be found that contradicts it (or portions of it). Any tests that are performed must be repeatable and consistently support the hypothesis. Evidence that appears to contradict all or portions of the hypothesis cannot be summarily dismissed. If further testing continues to produce contradictory results, all or portions of the hypothesis should be rewritten or discarded. Ultimately then, the hypothesis must be falsifiable.

Related hyptheses meeting the same standards will probably have to be developed, of course. A spirit hypothesis, for example, would be necessary to help us identify spirit when and if it's encountered during our tests for God. Using our imagination, I'm sure we can come up with dozens of others based on the characteristics and results we expect per the God hypothesis.

If consistent rigorous testing demonstrates the validity of the evidence for the existence of God and supporting hypotheses, then perhaps we will have a workable Theory of God worth considering. Indeed, it might even cause the paradigm shift you mention. Until then, I remain an atheist (but I suppose technically agnostic).

"3. ...I have no interest in trying to prove something true that another person does not want to believe is true."

Good for you! Hold on to your belief if it gives you comfort, but recognize that our disbelief is not a positive assertion about yours.

"4. ...Theist world views accept as a given that God exists....Atheist world views accept as a given that God does not exist...Evidence that seems to conflict with the presuppositions of a scientific paradigm are put aside as anomalies."

A minor correction: Atheists accept that the natural world exists, and demand evidence for claims of supernatural influence (i.e., gods). Theists accept the natural world but further suppose the supernatural exists and has influence or control over it.

Evidence that conflicts with a scientific paradigm is not anomalous. In fact, it abounds because We're all predisposed to belief. At issue is whether that evidence is equal to that produced by the scientific paradigm, which it is not. You seem to be accusing atheists (or skeptics in general) of simply not being open to allegedly valid evidence.

One final example: An assertion that the Appalachian mountains are really a number of ancient pyramids erected by Andromedan Space Mutants is not equal to an assertion that they are the result of geologic processes, regardless of how much anecdotal, photographic, or pseudoscientific evidence might be presented for the former. Indeed, the amount of evidence for the former might even exceed what's available for the latter. Yet the evidence for geologic processes is of much higher quality.

All truths are not equally valid, nor are the methods for learning it. Were that the case, truth would nullify itself. It's worthwhile to ascertain whether a method for finding truth produces reliable results. If not, then let's be honest enough to admit it to ourselves.

boomSLANG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
boomSLANG said...

Ah, another day comes to a close. Praise "Ra", the Sun-god, for shining "His" warm light on us today. Amen(Amon-Ra)

Continuing---

Old Farmer: I have four reasons to refuse to attempt to prove the existence of God to atheists.

1. If no knowledge about God is possible, no amount of evidence could convince an atheist to believe in the existence of God. It makes no sense to try to prove what an atheist thinks cannot be proven.


Very clever---looking for ways to not have to give evidence. That's an new one.

Look---if, as you say, an "Atheist" only "thinks" that God's existance can't be proven---well then, for the umpteenth time, NOW is your chance to convince us that the atheist's "thinking" is erroneous. 'Tis YOU, the theist, who is assigning "meaning" and/or "attributes" to the word "God". YOU are the one claiming you've somehow aquired "knowledge" about a "being" whom you call "God". Therefore, the burden is ON you to provide evidence.

Furthermore, that the theist is always rambling on about what their God "is", and what their God "does", the atheist indirectly gets to "learn" what the theist attaches to their "God". The theist sets the "standard", so to speak.

Let's take some attributes given to "God" by theists throughout history.

Okay, MILLIONS claim the Holy Bible is "evidence" for God's existance. Let's start there. In other words:

1) when the atheist sees "God"(an actual being) swoop down from "heaven"(the sky?) in a "fiery Chariot"(a space ship?) and "pick up" another human being, and then disappear back into the clouds?..THAT would be pretty convincing, IMO.

2) If the atheist happens to be at a petting zoo and stumbles upon a domestic ass, and then all of the sudden this donkey starts speaking the human language?.... THAT would be pretty convincing, IMO.

3) If the atheist happened to be working in their garden one day, and along came a talking snake "who" offered up some refreshing fruit, or maybe a cold beverage?... THAT would be pretty convincing, IMO.

4) Prayer. If an atheist were to witness a lower extremity/upper extremity amputee praying to God to have his or her arms and legs restored?... and then they grew back overnight? THAT would be pretty convincing, IMO. (Nope, 'sorry...healing the "flu" isn't convincing evidence for the existance of "God")

In other words---and to give the benefit of doubt by assuming God exists---when "God" get's off his lazy ass and actually DOES some of the fantastic things he was alleged to have done back in biblical times?.....THAT could be the very evidence the atheist would need.

2. Refusal of someone who claims that God is unproven but will not say what he might accept as proof of God’s existence is a functional atheist. Unless an a person will give some indication of what might satisfy as a proof of God’s existence, thereby admitting that knowledge about God is possible, then providing evidence for the existence of God is as futile as finding a needle in a haystack when one does not know what a needle or a haystack looks like.

I just listed several things that an atheist "might" accept as evidence. Mind you, if, as you say, the atheist posits that nothing can be known about "God", it is by the conceptual premise that "God" is a meta-physical "being"..i.e.. BEYOND physical comprehension/detection. In other words, just like a "married bachelor" is a contradiction, detecting the meta-physical from a physical platform would be a contradiction. The theist claims that "God" defies such conceptual limitations, however. I'm asking: How?...SHOW me.

3. The atheist has a right to his belief. I have no interest in trying to prove something true that another person does not want to believe is true.[bold added]

Wrong. Again, lack of belief IS NOT BELIEF. Just like lacking belief in the Great Pumpkin IS NOT "belief".

Now let's talk about the word "want". Objectively searching for "truth" isn't about "want". The objective search for truth means accepting what you find, EVEN IF YOU HATE the conclusion. Now, Mr. Farmer----show me some god-damned evidence for your god, and I promise, I will reconsider my atheism.

You're essentially implying that you can provide evidence for the existance of your god, but that you won't. THAT is a cop-out, and I'll consider it an admission that you don't have evidence that your "God" exists anywhere outside your head.

4. The existence and the nonexistence of God are presuppositions of different world views.

I repeat--skepticism is NOT a "worldview". And not by any stretch is neutrality/agnosticism regarding the absoulute knowledge of whether gods exist, or not, a "presupposition". At this time, I just don't have a belief in such a being.

eel_shepherd said...

DagoodS recounted:
"...As a parent is inclined to do, my father played a trick on us when we were young in order to entertain our insatiable curiosities.
He informed us that the insides of a watermelon are actually green.
'But all the watermelons we have ever seen are red!'
'Ahh. That is because when oxygen hits the inside part, it turns it red.'..."

Call me an old sentimentalist, but I always love a good watermelon story. Would the mischievous parent of the story have recanted if you had built a vacuum chamber with a watermelon guillotine powered by remote control, and then have it sacrifice the watermelon before the dispassionate eye of a camera loaded with colour film?