4/15/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Tenets of your unbelief

By John Fraysse

It really bothers me when I run into Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t have a clue why they believe what they do. I feel the same way about Atheists, Ex-Christians, Ex-Jews or Ex-Muslims. In my opinion, whether a believer or not, we all should be able to “give a succinct account” of why we think or believe as we do. Crafting a brief “Tenets of Your Belief /UnBelief” might be a useful exercise, especially if it can be stated in a minute or two. Now, I know a statement like, “All Religion is BS”, is very brief and has good summary impact but it’s a bit shallow, even if true, and there must be a few good reasons to support this point of view, so why not delineate them.

The following is a notional ex-Christian statement of unbelief. I encourage you to try your hand at it. Believers are welcome to comment, too.

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The Nature of the Biblical god appears very "Man-Like", that is, capable of both Good and Evil but worse yet, “He” does not demonstrate the qualities of an Immutable, All-Powerful, All-Good, Loving Heavenly Father and Creator-God.

God’s actions demonstrate that he is blood-thirsty, bigoted, jealous, capricious and unjust and from time to time god "plays" or “tempts” his best subjects (ex: Adam, Eve, Cain, Abraham, Job, Jesus, Peter, Paul). The Biblical god appears very insecure as he DEMANDS appeasement, sacrifice, worship and praise. “Original Sin” and curses are passed on by this god to all generations of humans and god commands and supports Slavery and the Subjugation of Women. The Biblical god also commands and/or allows child abuse, rape, incest and genocide. He takes credit for human birth defects but hates homosexuals although he created them. In fact, anything that god does, commands or allows, is "defined" as good regardless of whether or not it violates god's own precepts.

Due to human “SIN”, we mortals are declared to be the enemies of god and equated to “filthy rags”, so god can righteously cause and/or allow untold human suffering while commanding us to LOVE OUR ENEMIES! Even the slightest, momentary, infraction or improper thought will condemn us to an ETERNAL HELL of continuous and unbearable torment.

Finally, as in the past millennia, the Christian Church remains openly hostile toward scientific discoveries that are not consistent with its “Grand Traditions” and the “Interpreted Truths” allegedly found in the Bible.

Therefore, the simplest explanation for the behavior of the Biblical god is that “He” is the creation of the ancient, ignorant, bigoted, power-hungry and unjust men who wrote the Bible. Trying to understand such a “god” is a waste of time and is a potentially disastrous example to evil men who would use this god’s morality to enslave and oppress the gullible, ignorant and defenseless. Paying homage to such a god would also be an abomination to the “True Creator-God”, if he/she/it exists.

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Ok, the above is a straw man ex-Christian statement of unbelief. Have a go at it, but please try to keep it short and to the point. Cheers!

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45 comments:

MichelleDesslerFan said...

I'm going to memorize this and throw this spiel at the first Catholic nun or priest I see who confronts me and asks whether or not I believe in God.

LadySidhe said...

Wow...I read this and felt like I was looking in a mirror (so to speak). These are the very same questions I asked myself as I was "losing my religion." The fact that there were no satisfactory answers led me in the direction I eventually took.

Carl Kaun said...

Telling Christians or any other class of believer how their God is bad is OK, maybe, although I doubt it's going to do much beyond evoking a response about how an unbeliever can't understand. I think positive reasons for unbelief are more convincing. I an am unbeliever because I simply can find no evidence of a God or indeed anything supernatural, and have no reason to believe in one any more than I believe in Santa Claus. To believe in a God is to engage in a deception about the world I live in, and I feel liberated from the prison of beleif.

Anonymous said...

I agree that all positions should be thought through (and continually examined, I might add). I myself call atheists who are atheists just because it's rebellious and hip as "rebels without a clue," but on the other hand, the onus is upon any believer in something supernatural to defend their belief. It's really not required of the atheist to say why he or she fails to believe in something supernatural. However, in this society, I think it's a good idea to be familiar with the theist's arguments and the atheists refutations of those arguments.

Anonymous said...

I agree that it's good to know why you believe or don't believe but I think its OK for atheists and agnostics to believe that way without constantly evaluating the situation. After all, there would be nothing to evaluate without the religious folks telling us this or that is true. And since it's all dependent on supernatural revelations anyway it the starting point for everyone. Just because some never move from that point doesn't make it any less valid. I guess what I'm trying to say is being and "ex" something doesn't mean you are more knowledgable about your current non belief than someone who never gives it a thought. All you really know more about are the things you are rejecting anyway.

Susan (Ayame) said...

My tenants of unbelief rest on the fact that the Bible is a work of fiction. Even in a very small way, a person can say that translating the Bible after all the years it was handwritten and translated by people shows that errors must exist.

The Bible was not written by eyewitnesses. Therefore, the truth is going to be skewed.

People who say the Bible is the Word of God and inspired by God cannot prove that this is so. They believe it "just because." This is not a logical position to take.

The Bible is of course, contradictory and factually wrong about many natural things, such as bats and insects.

This is the sort of thing that I usually use to "defend" by unbelief. I also think that bringing up the problem of evil and god's non-revelation are good ways to discuss non-belief.

tigg13 said...

Hmmm.

This is sort of a trick question, you know.

I mean, how can a belief in something that is supposedly beyond normal human experience be well defined?

Dave8 said...

In less than two minutes? :-)

I am a "rationalist"! A literal interpretation of the bible is full of rational conflict. Thus, I choose to not accept the bible as a proof text for the existence of a Christian God. Further, if I accept the bible as non-literal and interpretive, then the Christian God is what I choose to interpret him/her/it to be… and I choose the Christian God to not exist beyond the bounds of personal imagination.

How's that?

Lorena said...
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Lorena said...

John Fraysee,

I like the fact that you never wrote that God or a Higher Power doesn't exist, even though you may feel that way. It gives them fewer weapons to refute your reasoning and narrows it down to Bible-god, allowing you to point out specific reasons.

In short, I like your non-confrontational rhetoric. I think it works really well in conveying the reasons why most of us left Christianity.

Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

The Bible says that after Adam & Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil they became like God in knowing good and evil. (Gen 3) He knows good and evil, but it's apart from God's nature to do evil. Since God is all good (Mat 19:17), to do evil is contradictory to his good nature.

The God of the Bible claims to be the only God, "The Lord is one" (Deu 6:4). When Moses asked him his name he said "I AM WHO I AM" (Ex 3:14). He is outside of the time and space domain that he created. He has existed for eternity past and that's how he identifies himself. This is why he should be worshiped. He is the creator and sustainer of life (Col 1:16-17)

God tests, not tempts, his subjects that there their faith (i.e. trust in him) might be strengthened. God doesn't promise blessings in our lives through material posessions, as some might wish, but shows us he's working in our lives by putting us through trials!: "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience" (Jam 1:2-3).

Please references where God commands child abuse and rape. Mating within the family seems to have been the only option for Adam & Eve's children. God said it's wrong in Lev 18.

Your statement about our condition of sin and being enemies of God is true. And our righteousness is like filthy rags. That's where God's grace comes in. Even though we deserve eternal separation from God because of our sin condition, He made a way for us to be counted righteous - Jesus' death. Jesus, the sinless God-man, paid a substitutionary penalty for the sins of every man, so we could to be counted righteous and that's the only way we will be able to stand before God - our advocate is Jesus. God gives us a choice to receive or reject that gift.

I have nothing wrong with science. The scientific method involves generating a hypothesis, finding a wait to test it to validate or invalidate it, and the results must be consistently reproducible. When science and God seemingly contradict I examine the evidence. Test what the Bible says, don't take it for truth.

You aren't forced to believe anything. You may not believe in the God of the Bible, but know that God made up his mind about you. He sent his only Son to die so you don't have to. He loves you.

Anonymous said...

Don't you mean "tenets"?

ryan said...

I wish to respond to anonymous at April 16.

Anonymous, my contempt for you and your statements go beyond the limits of human imagination. I have never heard a defense of xristianity. I have heard preaching; I have heard mindless raving; I have heard racial and national bigotry; I have heard childish nonsense; I have heard sentimental weeping and hand-wringing, but I have yet to hear a defense of xristianity.

I have been in the presence of learned men and women; I have heard speakers who read Aquinas in Latin; I have heard speakers who could quote Suarez in seven languanges; I have heard speakers who could recite hundreds of pages of Paradise Lost by memory; I have heared speakers whose IQ's went off the fucking gauge, and I have never heard a defense of xristianity.

Because there is none.

You advise us to test what the bible says. Do you think we need this advise?

And then you assert that we are not forced to believe in anything. That is fer damn sure.

And speaking of testing..........why don't you test what you just said about god making up his mind about me? If your god exists--which I fucking doubt--he aint made up his mind about nothing. If he created me--a notion I laid aside with my sugar creek gang stories--then he is pleased with me and watching to see what great things I can do.

And I do not need his son to die for me. Fuck jesus. Let the little bastard bleed. And I do not need his love; I need the love of my wife, my sisters, and my friends, the students and faculty here at St Joe, which by the gods, I have earned.

Now sign off, asshole. Get lost.

boomSLANG said...
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Hellbound Alleee said...

My "tenants" always pay their rent on time. LOL. ;)

I don't have any tenets of nonbelief. I do have virtues and values I follow that have nothing to do with belief and religion.

boomSLANG said...

In regards to John Fraysse's article, Lorena stated: I like the fact that you never wrote that God or a Higher Power doesn't exist, even though you may feel that way. It gives them fewer weapons to refute your reasoning and narrows it down to Bible-god, allowing you to point out specific reasons.

In short, I like your non-confrontational rhetoric. I think it works really well in conveying the reasons why most of us left Christianity.


First, as a disclaimer, I readily concede that once one becomes an ex-Christian, they needn't be an Atheist/Agnostic. 'Good? Cool.

That said, and to satisfy my own sense of intrigue, I enter question "A":

I would like to ask any former Christian who remains a supernaturalist/mystic/deist if they can agree that in order for a "higher power" to be relevant to human beings, would not said "higher power" have to be a *"personal being", itself?

* When I say "personal being", I mean a conscious, free-willed, sentimental 'being', with a vested interest in the affairs of the human race.

If "no" to question "A", then we come to question "B":

If said "entity" is not a "personal being", can we reasonably conclude/agree that said "higher power", or "entity", would be a non-personal, impartial "entity"? If not, please explain, but if so---if we can agree---then I'd be curious to know how the existance of such a non-personal, impartial "higher power", or "entity", would be relevant to a single thing concerning our existance as human beings.

For instance/example, maybe describe how "belief" in such a non-personal entity would be advantageous or more beneficial than the non-belief in such an entity, or "power". Additionally--and if it's applicable---please explain, hypothetically, how the existance of a non-personal unbiased "entity" constitutes there existing a "transcendent reality"..i.e.."after-life".

Now, on the other hand, if "yes" to question "A", then I'd like to know why it's viewed as a 'bad thing' to "confront" any person who posits that a personal "god" exists. In other words, when dealing with Christians(specifically on this site), sometimes it's helpful, and even necessary, to show incohesion/contradiction in the concept of ANY "personal god"....namely, one who is both omniscient AND omnipotent; one who is both "all-loving" AND who allows human suffering. These are blatant contradictions, regardless if the "god" is Jesus, Zeus, Mithra, or some generic un-named "god".

My over-riding point is---if it can be argued that "some" personal "gods" CAN exist, and not others....then firstly, I want to know how and why..and on what grounds..and secondly, if a deist can argue for the existance of their "higher power", then surely the Christian will use this to their advantage, thus, I disagree with the "fewer weapons" analogy, especially since the "deist" has no more evidence than the Christian.

Comments?(comments from Atheists welcomed too)

Thanks in advance.

jfraysse said...

Don't you mean "tenets"?

Yes, I do, mean "tenets"! I don’t know why I spelled “Tenets” as “Tenents” in this post and I don’t know why my spell checker let me do it twice - Once in the Title and once in the first paragraph. However, I was consistent! Anyway, the word is supposed to be “Tenets”. Dave (the WM) was kind enough to re-post the rant. Sorry 'bout that (blush). I guess the Devil made me do it!

jfraysse said...

Hello Anon April 16: You asked:

Please reference where God commands child abuse and rape. Mating within the family seems to have been the only option for Adam & Eve's children. God said it's wrong in Lev 18.

Ok, here we go…..

Incest

Mating with your family was not required for Cain. If so, there would have been no one for him to “fear” or “kill him” after God “marked him” for killing Able. Clearly, Cain deserved punishment, but it is noteworthy that God never explained to Cain why his sacrifice was not acceptable even though God obviously knew Cain was angry. Wouldn’t a loving and kind Father-God, simply tell Cain what was wrong so Cain could fix it? Nope! God seems to not want Cain to “do well”.

Rape (forced sex)

Well, “God” apparently “forgot about” a lot of things he said including Lev 18, because He (God) “inspired” the “Godly Elders of Israel” in Judges 21:10- 24 to instruct their men to lie in wait for the young virgins of the “daughters of Shiloh” and kidnap them and force them to be “their wives”. These virgins were the only people the Israelites had not slaughtered. They were captives having had their mothers and fathers and all non-virgin relatives utterly destroyed by the sword. The commanded “lie in wait” tactic was a terrorizing way to force sex against their will which is the definition of Rape. But, not a word of rebuke from God is uttered and since all scripture is inspired by God it must have been all-rightly with the almighty.

Then in 2 Samuel 12: 11-14, as part of David’s punishment in the Bathsheba incident, the Lord says, “I will bring evil upon you out of your own house. I will take your wives while you live to see it, and will give them to your neighbor. He shall lie with your wives in broad daylight.”

But lying with your neighbor’s wife is prohibited by God in Le:18:20 - Guess God forgot about that one too. Also, since David’s wives would not think of violating God’s prohibition on adultery, this punishment takes the form of forced sex or Rape, but no worries, it was God-Induced and God-Sanctioned Rape. God did it – it’s ok.

Child Abuse (a few examples and there are more)

Ge:22:2:Abraham’s God-directed Sacrifice of Isaac. Child mental abuse for sure since the unchangeable, non-tempting God, TEMPTED Abraham and CHANGED his mind (thankfully) about killing little Isaac.

Ex:21:7: Selling ones young daughters into (sex) slavery. Again, must be God-breathed inspiration.

Joshua 7:18-25 - The Stoning and Burning of Achan (the repentant but still guilty party), and ALSO his innocent sons, daughters and animals, heck, even his tent. No worries, the kids must have been like dear ole Dad and there was no Dr. Doolittle to talk to the animals about God’s Laws.

Judges 11 - The story of the burnt offering, human sacrifice of Jephthah’s Daughter - His innocent, obedient, virgin daughter and his only child. God didn’t stop the sacrifice, as he did with Abraham and Isaac, nor did he offer a word of disapproval! This really makes me sick, especially if I really believe it happened – which I don’t.

2Ki:2:23-24: Elisha and the Little Children: 42 little kids are torn to shreds by bears because Elisha cursed them for making fun of his bald head. Childish “fun” is “No Joke” to God or his Prophet!

Rom 9:13 God Hates Esau - “As it is written, Jacob have I loved but Esau have I hated”.

No reason given why God hates Esau and in the very next verse Paul “Calls God Out” when he asks the question in Rom 9:14, “What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God?”

Well, yeah, Paul, it looks that way since God seems to love the dishonest and conniving Jacob, but then Paul says, “God forbid.” Ok, but why – why isn’t God unrighteous when he appears to be? Well, no answer to THAT HUGE QUESTION, except that God did it – It’s ok! This is exactly what Paul writes in the very next verse (Rom 9:15) “For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom, I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom, I will have compassion.”

Try that brand of totalitarianism mixed with an uneven sense of fairness and mercy on your kids and see what you get when they become adults!
----------------------------------------------------
I rest my case, again.

The Bible proves that “God can and will do ANYTHING he wants” and that he is capable of Evil acts that are contrary to his purported nature.

So, here’s my question to you, Anon April 16, why are the “Godly Deeds” above ok?

If you think that they are, then I would like for you to give me a scenario where God does something that would OFFEND YOU.

If you can’t think of any, what does THAT tell you? At a minimum, I hope it scares you!

tigg13 said...

Hey Boomslang.

You're right in that if we allow for the existance of other higher beings, then we cannot say that the christian god cannot exist.

But isn't atheism the lack of belief in the supernatural - not a statement that such things cannot exist but that there is no verifiable evidence for such things?

To refute christianity (and all other belief systems with it) by pointing out how irrational and illogical they appear to be, is to put all your eggs into one basket and ultimately leads to a stalemate of conflicting world views.

Us non-christian idealists add an entirely new front to this battle by changing the discussion from "Does god exist?" to "Does the god of the bible exist?"

We serve as living proof that you can have faith, enlightenment, and be blessed without any of their trappings or dogma. We also widen the gap between a generic all powerful designer and the father of jesus.

Their best defense against us is their claim that they have more evidence supporting their beliefs than we do. But once they play the 'rationality card', then they've pitted themselves against you atheists again. They either have to admit that their beliefs are no better than ours or come up with some real, verifiable evidence.

Game, set, match.

As far as your questions concerning the nature and characteristics of possible 'all powerful, supreme beings' goes, I don't see how I can give you any answers without preaching to you - and I don't preach. (Its against my religion :))

Lorena said...

boomSLANG said...

In regards to John Fraysse's article, Lorena stated: I like the fact that you never wrote that God or a Higher Power doesn't exist, even though you may feel that way. It gives them fewer weapons to refute your reasoning and narrows it down to Bible-god, allowing you to point out specific reasons.

Lorena responds

Always ready to jump the gun huh? What makes you think that I believe in supernatural stuff. You obviously don't know me very well or you have grossly misunderstood me.

My comment wasn't about THERE BEING A GOD OR A HIGHER POWER.

What I meant was that WE DON'T NEED TO RAISE THE ISSUE WITH CHRISTIANS.

We already have enough material against the Bible and Christianity, so much that in order to destroy their arguments we don't even have to discuss the existence of God.

What I wanted to say is that if we keep it simple and stay on issues such as those raised by John, we have better chances of sending our point across.

If you still can't understand what I wrote, ask again and i will try to explain myself better.

Dave8 said...

Tigg13: "You're right in that if we allow for the existance of other higher beings, then we cannot say that the christian god cannot exist."

Ah, it appears we are talking rationally about this subject. While we are being "rationalists", might I suggest the most effective way to "not" arm another person... is to not give them anything to work with. Obviously, that means, not providing them with something to contradict or debate over. But, if one must direct their argument towards another person, by attacking their belief tenet, with a controversial counter unbelief tenet, then so be it.

A rationalist, is a manner of thinking, it's "how" one thinks, its not a direct attack to a "particular" tenet of religion, or belief system. When one suggests they have "unbelief", they are specifically directing their point of view towards a person or a person's statement. Thus, creating the battlefield.

Tigg13: "But isn't atheism the lack of belief in the supernatural..."

No, that's an exclusive statement, outside the bounds of the basic definition, here...

Atheism: "1. The doctrine or belief that there is no God. 2. Disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings."
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/atheism

The definition for "unbelief"...

Unbelief: "The state or quality of not believing; incredulity or skepticism, esp. in matters of doctrine or religious faith."
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/unbelief

An Atheist is one of disbelief or "Unbelief". Atheism as a "disbelief" in gods can be founded on incredulity and skepticism just as unbelief. Unbelief, is directed, especially towards "doctrine", and "faith", but can extend to "gods" as well.

Therefore, when I hear someone suggest they have "unbelief" towards a "god", which is a Christian tenet of belief, because of incredulity or skepticism, they are implicitly an atheist.

Tigg13: "- not a statement that such things cannot exist but that there is no verifiable evidence for such things?

An Atheist, can explicitly make a statement of belief against any presupposed god(s), or they can hold a belief system, whereby they end up as implicit atheists.

Tigg13: "To refute christianity (and all other belief systems with it) by pointing out how irrational and illogical they appear to be, is to put all your eggs into one basket and ultimately leads to a stalemate of conflicting world views."

Oh, wasn't aware this thread was a 'build bridges' thread. In that case, use "rationalism" more often than "unbelief"... Rationalism, is an epistemological "how" one comes to truth... Unbelief is a direct statement "against" an oppositional "tenet" of belief.

Rationalist: "Reliance on reason as the best guide for belief and action. Philosophy The theory that the exercise of reason, rather than experience, authority, or spiritual revelation, provides the primary basis for knowledge."
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/rationalist

To suggest one places "reason" above all else, doesn't directly (like Unbelief) attack a believer's tenet(s). As stated earlier, if one wants to not give "arms" to another person, then it would be prudent "not" to directly engage their belief "tenet(s)", through any verbal discourse, etc...

If one must, because of professional/social reasons, then it's best to suggest "how" one builds 'truth', as that is a neutral stance from a proponent... if one "attacks" another believer with "Unbelief", then... forgive the simplicity of the view, but... it appears that isn't building bridges, and is adding fuel, arms, conflict, and chaos to the fire.

Most people that I know, "come" to Unbelief, Atheism (implicitly), via "rationalism".

Tigg13: "Us non-christian idealists add an entirely new front to this battle by changing the discussion from "Does god exist?" to "Does the god of the bible exist?"

And, of course, that is not a new front; much debate has occurred on this very site on "Does the god of the bible exist?" All that is being conveyed in that paragraph, is instead of challenging "all" gods in "general", that it's less offensive to challenge a "particular" god.

If you are challenging that "particular" god, with reason (rationalism), then in order to "not" be conflicted, that exact same "rational" thought/reason could be applied in "general" to "all" other god, or god types.

Wouldn't want to be a hypocrite, right.

Tigg13: "We serve as living proof that you can have faith, enlightenment, and be blessed without any of their trappings or dogma. We also widen the gap between a generic all powerful designer and the father of jesus."

Sounds "rational" to me. Of course, if you approach an irrational believer, your words are meaningless.

Tigg13: "Their best defense against us is their claim that they have more evidence supporting their beliefs than we do."

Uh, right. Well, once again, if one is irrational, they can use Santa Clause as a support to suggest that the Catholic Religion is the true moral paradigm, because he rewards little children when naughty or nice. The "irratinoalists" best defense, is to dupe a "rationalist" (reason minded), into playing the "what if" game, or the "imagination" game.

And, just to get started, my imagination is better than the idealists... so... prove me wrong... Gee, will we then have to resort to rational reasoning, because there is no difference in validity between two people's imaginations...

Tigg13: "But once they play the 'rationality card', then they've pitted themselves against you atheists again."

Right, once a believer attacks using the "rationality card", we should get on board with them, and be as irrational as them... we'll just not accept some pieces of their imaginative creation, like the father of jesus, etc. No, we'll pick better imaginative pieces, that are just as irrational. Somehow, I fail to understand the strength of this strategy.

Tigg13: "They either have to admit that their beliefs are no better than ours or come up with some real, verifiable evidence."

If two people are drooling and playing the great imagination game via irrational discourse, there will never "be" some real, verifiable evidence... well, of course... until someone crosses the line, and suggests something "rationally", but then, they are being a rationalist, and that appears to be a big no-no, in the bridge building contest.

Tigg13: "Game, set, match."

Perhaps, a book is on the horizon on this great new strategy :-)

Tigg13: "As far as your questions concerning the nature and characteristics of possible 'all powerful, supreme beings' goes, I don't see how I can give you any answers without preaching to you - and I don't preach. (Its against my religion :))"

Sounds rational to me. When someone picks and chooses to be rational at some points and irrational in others… well, the overall effect is chaos, and an irrational belief “system”.

Dave8 said...

To not engage a christian at all, is the best option, to prevent conflict. Especially, when a rationalist is pitted against an irrationalist, one is talking with reason/logic and the other with their imagination, or many times with a mixture between the two, which amounts to a chaotic discussion anyway.

Regarding, which "unbelief" tenets are more useful than others... One is in a state of "unbelief", based on what a "believer" suggests are valid belief "tenet(s)... and... why would someone "imagine", that a believer would not whip out "god", as their "Prime" tenet of belief first.

Is this great new strategy, to create a list of rebuttals, but "only" to the one's an unbeliever is willing to engage? So, what happens when the christian whips out the great 'god' card... if the unbeliever suggests they refuse to talk about it, then it supports the theists claim based on forfeit... if the unbeliever chooses to engage the discussion, and asserts their unbelief in the "god" tenet, they are in fact an atheist.

Am I missing something? Oh, all comments are welcome, this is tremendously entertaining.

Brian said...

We don't know the blood relation between Cain and his wife. We do know they lived before the flood when the average life was several hundred years and God told people to multiply. It is interesting that God doesn't make it obvious why Cain's offering was not respected. But it is contrasted with Abel's offering of the firstborn of the flock. He gave God the very best he had to offer. The NT sheds some light on why Abel's sacrifice was more excellent that Cain's. He offered it to God by faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11:4-5). I find it interesting that God asked Cain where Abel was. God knows where he was. One reason God may have asked Cain this question was to give him a chance to confess what he did, ask for forgiveness, and turn from his sin. Instead Cain lies to God. I think Cain knew his offering was inferior because it was not of his first fruits. I also think he knew killing his brother was wrong even though it doesn't say that God told him that.

Good question about the daughters of Shiloh. I don't know if God was in favor of the Benjamites catching the women. From the last verse of the chapter it appears they may not have consider God's law, but did what they thought was right in their own eyes.

The Bathsheba incident. David sinned against God and he, unlike Cain, confessed it, although God still had to deal with his sins because God is just. God prohibits murder, but institutes capital punishment for the crime of murder (Gen 9:6). Similarly God prohibits adultery, but as a punishment for David's adultery he takes his give his wives to another. As punishment for killing Uriah, God takes David's son.

God's command to Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. God tested Abraham's faith. It was a huge test. Event hough Abraham did not know what God was doing, and it was seemingly against God's nature to have him kill his son, he trusted God. Although man could not see the reason he trusted God anyway. God spared his son and provided a goat instead. Mount Moriah was the same place Jesus would be crucified thousands of years later. Although the next time God would not spare his only Son, but provide Himself a sacrifice.

Male and Female slaves. Ex 21:7 states that women servants were treated differently than male servants, yet still treated fairly (Ex 21:8-11).

Achan. God is very serious about sin and dealt with in the camp. To repent means to turn from your sins we don't know that he would have, although he did confess. Nevertheless, the children of Israal were right to remove Achan from the camp. Stoning the sons and daughters does seem harsh, although it appears to have been necessary for eradicating the sin. The question of God visiting sins upon the family is a good one, and I don't know the answer.

Paul's question about God being unrighteous. Jesus said "All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out" (John 6:37). The Bible teaches election, but how do we know who the elect are? God died for the sins of the world and if you believe (i.e. trust) in Jesus' atoning sacrifice for our sins and power over death you will be saved. That is God's promise. He promises that there is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:1).

What could God do that would offend me? Good question. If a prophecy in the Bible were proved false. I have given God my life trusting that the Bible is true. I want to give God glory in all that I do. If the God of the universe is not the God of the Bible than you could say I'm missing out on life, but I don't think so. God promises us life more abundantly when we walk with him rather than as slaves to sin. God's system is based on faith and I think he has provided sufficient evidence for us to trust in Him. The bottom line is God is omniscient and I am not. His ways are high above mine, but what he has revealed of Himself and the truth in His word (the Bible) is what we must trust in. It is possible that I am wrong, but I'm staking my life and eternity on His Word.

By the way my name is Brian :)

Dave8 said...

Brian, you have a great sense of timing, good to see you as part of this discussion.

Brian: "The bottom line is God is omniscient and I am not. His ways are high above mine, but what he has revealed of Himself and the truth in His word (the Bible) is what we must trust in."

Let’s see... how would one come to a position on Brian's statement above. I'll just stick to unbelief & atheism.

Brian uses the word God as his subject, and qualifies his subject with specific traits; omniscience, some form of omnipotence over Brian (one could thus assume over humanity), some form of revelation (supernatural/natural), male gender, and the bible as the ultimate source of truth, based on Brian's plea that "all" people should follow the single "Word".

Now, one could go about creating unbelief tenets for "every" trait they don't agree with, that Brian presented.

To ensure it isn't missed; Brian is also part of this belief system. So, one has to be able to assume a few things about his traits (which can further be researched rationally). One trait that jumps out is that Brian claims to "not" be omniscient, else he would be God's equal, and that is not the case according to Brian.

Obviously, we still have a lot that isn't known, about Brian, or his subject God. God isn't defined as supernatural or natural, but there is enough known to "rationally" inspect in order to determine one's position.

So, let's suggest one talks to Brian ad nauseam, and finds out that Brian isn't omniscient. It's contradictory then, for Brian to identify omniscience, he has no way to validate an omniscient person, as he himself can not be that standard.

One could build an unbelief tenet about Brian specifically, and attack his belief system by engaging him on this single trait alone.

However, one could just as easily use Brian's conflicted statement, and previous research and knowledge to suggest that there is "no known" omniscient person that has ever existed, because it would be impossible to validate, from a non-omniscient point of view.

To engage Brian, either based on his inability to be omniscient, or based on humanity in general's ability to be omniscient, is to directly engage Brian, thus, arming him, and setting the battlefield.

If one holds a tenet of unbelief towards humanity's or Brian's ability to be omniscient; then of course, when someone uses that "trait" to qualify their "God", then not only that "trait" is unbelieved... but, the God as well.

Thus, a person could be of unbelief in the tenet of human omniscience (specifically Brian's), and "consequently"... an atheist. Of course, the honest way to look at this, is to suggest that this same person became atheistic based on a single tenet... that does not "discount" all the other God's that could be qualified with many different traits from different people.

The easy route when dealing with an infinite number of "traits" that a person can come up with is to set the standard of measurement first, without attacking another persons' belief, specifically the tenets of another persons' belief. I use rationalism, reason above all else.

Brian, do you believe “reason” should be the sole source to find Truth? If no, then we should likely not engage the topic, unless you are going to try and persuade me towards irrationalism, in which, your belief tenets don’t ever have to be mentioned, you can argue based on philosophy alone.

boomSLANG said...

Lorena: Always ready to jump the gun huh? What makes you think that I believe in supernatural stuff. You obviously don't know me very well or you have grossly misunderstood me.

Lorena, chillax....obviously, no, I don't "know" you....nor you me, for that matter. Nonetheless, I didn't think it condescending or confrontational, or anything remotely accusatory, that I referenced your post....so I don't quite understand the seemingly defensive nature of your response..e.g.."jump the gun"... well, other than the on-going implication that you don't care for "hard Atheism"(which, the term is redundant).

Look, apparently, yes, I misunderstood your "words"---which is all I have to go on, BTW---to mean that since you, Lorena, "like the fact" that the author of the original article "never wrote that a God or a Higher power doesn't exist", that gee, that 'maybe she was saying, implicitly, that such things do exist'. If that makes me a hair-trigger? Okay, fine. Nonetheless, I asked an open question based on said post. Again, if I've misunderstood you to be a deist and/or propontent of the meta-physical("super-natural"), then my sincere apologies. Fair enough? Cool.

Okay, now...on to the actual subject, and back to what I've obviously failed to convey.

When someone types the letters "G-O-D", and/or, when they make the sound "g-a-w-d" with their mouth, they obviously have a "concept" in mind, whether their own idea, or a collective idea, of what "God" is. Agreed?(Stop me here if I'm out in left field somewhere)

Now, since to the best of my knowledge, "God" has yet to be objectively defined, then there is no objective definition, or "concept", of "God" to reference. It can literally mean ANY damn thing someone wants it to mean..i.e..a "subjective" belief.

Example: Joe Blow says "God is NATURE!"

Viola!....a "Pantheist". So?...you can't very well say that "nature" doesn't exist, can you? No, so Joe Blow's "God" exists, and he has the evidence to back it up. 'Good? Okay, but notwithstanding, we can say certain objective things about Joe Blow's subjective "God" concept. We can certainly say that "nature" isn't personal, and/or, partial to our existance as human beings. So, while Joe's "God" exists...."it" is NOT a "personal being".(again, stop me here if this is unreasonable)

Now---if Joe Blow's cousin, Joe Schmoe, comes along... and he enters a discussion by saying "God is ALL-loving!...just accept Her into your heart, or She'll pull your fingernails out, rub you in lamp-oil, and toss a match at cha!!!"

Then what? Is it "taboo" to tell Joe Schmoe that the "concept" of his personal "God" is a blatant contradiction?. No, I don't think so....after all, it happens on a daily basis on this very site, and thousands more like it.

All that said---I ask: Is it to be an over-bearing non-theist to say that we can make objective statements about people's subjective "God" concepts? IMO, I don't think so.

For one, we can say that "if" someone's personal "God concept" is true, then that "God" is either personal(subjective/partial), or it is impersonal/impartial). It can't be both, lest it become "personal" right on the spot, since "it" would decide when to be "objective", or play "favorites".

Secondly, we can say that "if" someone's personal "God concept" is true, then it CANNOT have internal contradicting characteristics...e.g..a "square circle". If it does, then it CANNOT exist conceptually, and thus, certainly not empirically.

Back to my original point:

If one is a "Deist", then we can say that one's "God" either takes an interest in the personal affairs of humans--thus, it has human-like characteristics/attributes, etc---or it does not. It is either a personal "being", or it is not.(again, stop me here if I'm jumping the gun or taking too many liberties)

Now, if said "God" is not a personal "being", here again, is my original statement:

boomSLANG: If said "entity" is not a "personal being", can we reasonably conclude/agree that said "higher power", or "entity", would be a non-personal, impartial "entity"? If not, please explain, but if so---if we can agree---then I'd be curious to know how the existance of such a non-personal, impartial "higher power", or "entity", would be relevant to a single thing concerning our existance as human beings.[bold added]

To which no deist chimed in with an explanation.

Then on to this:

boomSLANG: "My over-riding point is---if it can be argued that "some" personal "gods" CAN exist, and not others....then firstly, I want to know how and why..and on what grounds..and secondly, if a deist can argue for the existance of their "higher power", then surely the Christian will use this to their advantage, thus, I disagree with the "fewer weapons" analogy, especially since the "deist" has no more evidence than the Christian."[bold added to emphasize point(s)]


Tigg 13: But isn't atheism the lack of belief in the supernatural - not a statement that such things cannot exist but that there is no verifiable evidence for such things?

I addressed most of this above. To recap/elaborate---"supernatural" deities who "have" natural attributes/characteristics..i.e.."human-like" attributes/characteristics/desires cannot exist---not even conceptually---if those characteristics CONTRADICT. Yes, it is conceptually impossible for any "being" to exist who can be both "all-knowing" AND "all-powerful", while being a "personal being". To futher show my point by analogy---it would have nothing to do with whether one has the belief that married bachelors "exist", or not. We "know" that they do not; we know that they cannot. Furthermore, I don't think it makes one pompous, or arrogant, or any other unflattering adjective, to say that certain things cannot exist.

Now, on to these "tenets". The "tenets of my unbelief" are two-fold: 1) If I see no credible evidence for the existance of a "God"?... then there's no credible reason for me to believe a "God" "exists". 2) Some "things" simply CAN'T exist, whether we/I believe they do, or do not exist. And I don't think of either statement as a "strawman", BTW.

Questions?....comments?

tigg13 said...

Wow, this is getting interesting.

First, Boomslang.

So long as you are the one defining 'god's' characteristics and you choose to include characteristics that are contradictory then you won't find a 'god' that can possibly exist.

But who said that a higher being had to be all-knowing or all-powerful or be a personal being. (Asside from the christians, of course.)

And I'm not sure what you mean by relevant. A thunder storm would be relevant to a garden but it does not possess consciousness or partiality.

If, by relevant you mean 'what do I get out of my beliefs that I wouldn't get if I didn't believe', I'm sorry dude, I'm not going there.

You see, I don't believe in absolute, universal truths. I have nothing to offer you but my opinions, my personal point of view, and I have no right to impose those opinions upon you or anyone else.

boomSLANG: "My over-riding point is---if it can be argued that "some" personal "gods" CAN exist, and not others....then firstly, I want to know how and why..and on what grounds.

Beats me. I don't make the rules, I just work here.

'..and secondly, if a deist can argue for the existance of their "higher power", then surely the Christian will use this to their advantage, thus, I disagree with the "fewer weapons" analogy, especially since the "deist" has no more evidence than the Christian."'

I'll get back to this in a moment..

Dave8, Hi, nice to finally meet you.

I see nothing I can disagree with in your critique of my earlier reply, with the possible exception of your original assumption that I was trying to be rationalistic. Its hard to tell with me - heck I don't even know myself sometimes.

Forgive me for not knowing what an atheist actually is. Definitions flit back and forth so often around here its hard to tell what's what without a playbook.

And I must applaud you for your masterful defense of Boomslang's "fewer weapons" approach to dealing with believers. Your use of Brian's post left me wondering why I even bothered to question it in the first place.

So, now what?

Should I abandon my beliefs and submit totally to your mighty logic?

Should I now censor myself whenever a christian posts on this site?

Should I just pack my bags and go find some other blog where my unrealistic ideals won't get in the way?

Or maybe...

Maybe I should switch teams and go pitch for the christians?

Then I could point out that your beliefs are no more valid than mine or anybody elses - no matter how rational YOU THINK they might be.

Boy, the bible-thumpers would sure get a kick out of that, wouldn't they?

Seriously though, is there no middle ground between us - no way we can reach a compromise here. Or is your intellectual integrity so important to you that you would alienate anybody who didn't see things the way that you do?

boomSLANG said...

Tigg 13: Wow, this is getting interesting.

Yup. I'm sure the theists--especially the Xians--are diggin' the sh*t out of it, too = )

Tigg 13: First, Boomslang.

So long as you are the one defining 'god's' characteristics....


Huh? Whaaa?!?!?....so long as I define God's characteristics? 'Wait, y'mean... so long as ANY person who is doing the defining, right? You mUST mean the latter, because I've already stated over and over and over again that I don't have a belief in god(s). Thus, "God" HAS no "characteristics". I use the Xian "personal god" model for the sake of argument, only.

Tigg 13 (contin): ...and you choose to include characteristics that are contradictory then you won't find a 'god' that can possibly exist.

Again, nope, I haven't set up a criterion that makes a supernatural "thing" absolutely "impossible", as you've suggested. Here's why(again):

There very well MAY BE an objective universal "meta-physical" force, or "entity". However, if we can detect such a "thing"---from a physical universe---then two things: 1) said "entity" isn't beyond physical, or "meta-physical", at all, and 2) said "thing" should be testable and falsifiable. If I'm wrong on either one, or both, let's talk about it.

Until then, and unless someone is withholding the evidence to be tested, there isn't any objective evidence for such a "thing". You can't have it both ways.(although, I know it doesn't stop the theists from trying)

Tigg 13: But who said that a higher being had to be all-knowing or all-powerful or be a personal being.

I give up. WhO ?

I said it's the Christian who says that their biblegod is ALL three at once. I said that claim is a "contradiction". Nonetheless, Tigg, let me ask you a direct "yes", or "no", question. Do you believe "square circles" exist? Depending on your answer, this could save me/you a lot of time and possible aggrevation.

Now, to address what you said---if said "higher being" isn't at least ONE of the three..i.e... personal, all-powerful, or all-knowing,....then I ask---what, exactly, makes it "higher", and/or, worthy of making it the focus of one's life?

*Notice, I'm not saying that "God" HAS to be anything...I'm trying to figure out from the person who believes in such a "being", what makes it "higher", and how they "know" about the attributes that make it "higher". Listening.

Tigg 13: And I'm not sure what you mean by relevant. A thunder storm would be relevant to a garden but it does not possess consciousness or partiality.

Right. Maybe "relevant" was too broad.

If, hypothetically, we found "God", and we determined that "God" was a mindless impartial "force"..i.e. a "law", like "gravity"....how would that discovery "impact" our existance as conscious human beings?

Tigg 13: If, by relevant you mean 'what do I get out of my beliefs that I wouldn't get if I didn't believe', I'm sorry dude, I'm not going there.

I think it goes without sayin'...but just because one "get's something" out of their belief, has no baring on if the belief is a "Truth". So in that sense, I don't blame you for not "going there".

Thanks for the exchange.

.:webmaster:. said...

Everyone,

With sincere humility I would like to ask all posters to please keep in mind the central reason for this site: to encourage ex-Christians.

Complete agreement beyond the fact that Christianity is bogus is neither required, expected, nor for that matter, wanted. Christianity has placed many of us in bondage for years, demanding absolute compliance and agreement until we became virtual clones of one another. Now that we are free from that ridiculous nonsense, we are able to rejoice in our differences.

Discussion, as always, is encouraged, but preferably with the ultimate goal of being encouraging to ex-Christians.

Thanks.

Dave8 said...

Well, encouragement is a great thing :-)

Tigg13: "...with the possible exception of your original assumption that I was trying to be rationalistic. Its hard to tell with me - heck I don't even know myself sometimes."

Rationalism: "1. the principle or habit of accepting reason as the supreme authority in matters of opinion, belief, or conduct."

Well, if reason isn't possible, as you suggest you can't understand your own position from time to time - sometimes, then apparently no one will be capable of really understanding your position. That's not a bad thing; we all see our reality differently.

Tigg13: "Forgive me for not knowing what an atheist actually is. Definitions flit back and forth so often around here its hard to tell what's what without a playbook."

Rationally speaking, if I may... I agree. The atheist, who takes the position, can do so irrationally or rationally. For instance; a person who has a belief/tenets, and ends up being an atheist implicitly is rational.. A person who claims atheism explicitly "prior" to creating or having a belief system, is irrational.

Obviously, it's irrational to sit around creating god(s), by creating qualifications and then denying the very fact that they exist.

An implicit atheist is akin to saying... "I don't believe in your god(s)", based on my tenets. An explicit atheist is akin to saying... "I don't believe in my own god(s)"... Hope you see the point. And as already stated, most of the atheists I have met on this site, are atheists based on the rational tenets of their belief.

As well, an irrational atheist, can start out irrationally, and end up becoming a rational atheist over time, as they develop the tenets of their belief system.

Tigg13: "And I must applaud you for your masterful defense of Boomslang's "fewer weapons" approach to dealing with believers. Your use of Brian's post left me wondering why I even bothered to question it in the first place."

Good thing I responded without knowing what you were thinking... for me to have created that post based on what I assumed you thought.... would be irrational :-) I don't claim omniscience.

Tigg13: "So, now what? Should I abandon my beliefs and submit totally to your mighty logic?"

I don't believe anyone should bow to an external object, we take from each other what we can use intellectually... if you find nothing of use, then you are free to discard the comments or take them upon further consideration. But, you can do that with my comments, I'm rational, and thus consistent in my responses. If I learn something new, I progress forward.

Thanks for the compliment on my mighty logic :-) And, no... just because my ability to reason based on fact, doesn't establish a system of belief for you, I would never suggest it should. I believe everyone gets choices in life, to take what they need as they need. Why would I suggest you deserved any less that would be domineering.

Tigg13: "Should I now censor myself whenever a christian posts on this site?"

That's for you to decide. We each post to reach a specific effect. My effect is to ensure people aren't asserting an irrational statement as an absolute "Truth", because that has negative psychological affect on the person making the statement based on reinforcement, and those reading such a statement who have no idea what is being conveyed need to be given the alternative view, even if its rational. Hence, again, why there should be many views on this site per the WM.

I can only speak for the effect I choose to bring, and based on my research. I can not speak for the "effect" you attempt, to bring. I can however, choose to make observations of your statements, just as you can make observations of my statements. Isn't that the point of a blog?

If a christian tells a lie, out of ignorance or deliberately, I feel I have a responsibility to challenge the view... not because they don't have the right to believe what they want, but because I want to ensure they receive knowledge if they are ignorant, or to challenge them if they are deliberately attempting to lie to people in order to bring them to an irrational belief system that has the potential for negative psychological effects.

At the end of the day, if the Christian understands that their belief system is based on faith, and that they don't hold an "absolute" Truth with certainty, then the world is a better place for those who like freedom of belief and tolerance - don't you like freedom to believe as you want?

I don't know how you should approach a Christian on this site... I have no idea at all... All I can say based on my experience is that I try to be as honest as possible in my responses... and hope that I connect with people who are sincere and value honesty as well...

Tigg13: "Should I just pack my bags and go find some other blog where my unrealistic ideals won't get in the way?"

Honestly speaking, I find nothing wrong with "ideals". However, I understand what an ideal is not based on the reality of the extrinsic environment. It is based on a synthesis of information, and how someone "desires" something/someplace, etc., "to be(come)".

A person has all the right in the world to hold "ideals" as subjective truth... for many it gives them purpose in life. It's okay for an entire nation to hold onto ideals; life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness... for a nation, it may give them purpose.

But, it's much more rational to suggest that an "ideal" is based on those elements found in our natural reality, than to suggest an irrational ideal, based on "supernatural" elements, etc. I don't know any of your "ideals", only you know them.

Even if a Christian were to pop up on this site, and suggest they have an unrealistic (supernatural) ideal, called everlasting paradise, with pearly gates, that would be honest. And if they caveat that statement with, "I hope" (faith), with uncertainty as Brian did, then... they are educated in their belief, and that is all one can hope to do. Again, the effect I strive for is to provide honest feedback to a person who makes a statement... so they get an honest second opinion.

Now, if a person doesn't want to engage in an honest discussion... then honesty is not their goal, and they can't be taken seriously.

If you have a question, I can provide honest feedback... I don't encourage only "special" extians; I try and be honest with everyone, based on my level of knowledge... even under ridicule of being "master logic" dude.

Tigg13: "Or maybe... Maybe I should switch teams and go pitch for the christians?"

I'd still be honest with you.

Tigg13: "Then I could point out that your beliefs are no more valid than mine or anybody elses - no matter how rational YOU THINK they might be."

There is personal "truth", and that is equal to all people, I would not disagree. Someone could jump around and sing in tongues and say that their belief is absolutely true, and it would be, "in their mind".

However, if that same person suggested that their mental "truth", is reflective of the external "environment", a medium that is common for everyone to rationally test, then the "truth" of their statement can easily be shown to be valid or not.

My personal mental "beliefs", are no more or less valid than anyone elses. However, in the realm of my personal "truth" aligning with the external "reality"... I would welcome your analysis of my comments, there is nothing more than I enjoy that learning something... it means, I can align my mental picture even closer to that of the external reality that surrounds me, if I am shown something that I didn't realize or understand.

Tigg13: "Boy, the bible-thumpers would sure get a kick out of that, wouldn't they?'

To be honest, I don't know...

Tigg13: "Seriously though, is there no middle ground between us - no way we can reach a compromise here."

There need not be a compromise of position, I respect your views. You have a valid personal belief, just as everyone else. Again, I am honest as possible though, when speaking of Universal truth though, because "all" people and each persons' subjective belief and actions, are included in a universal belief/ideal.

Tigg13: "Or is your intellectual integrity so important to you that you would alienate anybody who didn't see things the way that you do?"

Intellectual honesty is indeed extremely important to me, because it's me being honest with me. If I am honest with others, and it alienates them, then I don't know what the alternative would be. What do you suggest? And, that isn't sarcastic; I'd like to hear your reasoned response.

And, if there is anything you would like to ask, or discuss, you can count on my honesty and sincerity, as a friend.

jfraysse said...

Tigg13: Please don’t go! I enjoy your comments and perspectives! But, I admit, I have no intellectual integrity! I'm just here for the Bud Light! (grin).

jfraysse said...

Lorena: Thanks for the kind words. Reading and studying the Bible made me a “yes-but” Christian. I’m not saying that there are no valuable lessons or wisdom to be learned either. But I can’t believe folks who claim the Biblical god is the “absolute moral authority” when he can easily be shown to be “not absolutely moral”. The mindset that “God did it, so it MUST be ok” is so very dangerous!

ScareTactic said...

Reading the main topic of this thread might lead a mind to wander in a direction that is completely crazy and off-beat.

What if this” blood-thirsty, bigoted, jealous, capricious and unjust” God does exist!

The Bible would make perfect sense then, because this vile monsters’ actions would go a long way in explaining the all the nasty stuff on planet Earth.

Quote:
“The Biblical god also commands and/or allows child abuse, rape, incest and genocide. He takes credit for human birth defects but hates homosexuals although he created them. In fact, anything that god does, commands or allows, is "defined" as good regardless of whether or not it violates god's own precepts.”

Juxtaposed, it could explain some of the good things as well.


A logical mind would say that, of course, “the Biblical god is the creation of the ancient, ignorant, bigoted, power-hungry and unjust men who wrote the Bible.”

But a mind with a fertile imagination could also conjure up a scenario where possibly far greater and better gods exist, that regulate with extreme care and heed, bigger and more superior universes, and here we sit with a second rate, sicko-pshyco god that has us by the short & curlies, in what would be known as the “ghetto” of the universe, relegated to the proverbial arse-end of all existence. A christain who doesn’t cherry-pick could barge in here at any moment and say, “See, that’s exactly right! suck it up folks, live with it. Either you choose to brown-nose gods’ butt for all eternity or you deep-fry to a crisp.

Just a scary thought to be used as a horror movie-script !!!!:0

eel_shepherd said...

Think I'll split this into two posts; one for the main topic and one for some of the interesting byplay that has developed. Starting with the latter.

If a person's concept of god is one in which the god is of the non-"personal" sort, it would be true to say that somewhere along the line, the god's motives and modus operandi will shear away from a "person's" ability to understand them. i.e. there will come a point at which they will be indistinguishable from randomness or chaos, at least to the "person."

(I forget whether it was Joe Blow or Joe Schmoe who took Nature as his god. Let's say it was Joe Blow.)

It's a recognised principle of cryptology that Chaos + Order = Chaos. (i.e. the addition of sensible plaintext to a stream of random characters gives a stream of random characters.) This is a true statement.

From boomSLANG's second reply to Lorena, we read: "...For one, we can say that "if" someone's personal "God concept" is true, then that "God" is either personal(subjective/partial), or it is impersonal/impartial). It can't be both, lest it become "personal" right on the spot,.."

This is also a true statement. And either I'm missing something, or it says the opposite of my first proposition, in that it implies that _any_ personal is _all_ personal (i.e. that the god is a personal one).

But if you add `em both up and divide by two, they work out to "Nature is not random". From this I conclude that Joe Blow has a better handle on his god concept. But that's not to say that he wouldn't be better off by simply dumping the god part, and saying that the natural world is all there is.

I'm reminded of a page in "Godel, Escher and Bach" entirely devoted to a graphic by the clever text-artist Scott Kim, entitled "Figure/Figure", in which the letters of the repeated word "Figure" are carefully tweaked so that the "ground" they stand out against _also_ forms a repetition of the word "Figure." Between them, the "two" words completely tile the plane. Seen from that angle, as an analogy, any personal being could simultaneously be able to seen as standing in relief against (i.e. "cut off from god") _and_ completely representative-of/consistent-with/integral-to the infinite.

Dave8 said...

Eel Shepherd: "It's a recognised principle of cryptology that Chaos + Order = Chaos. (i.e. the addition of sensible plaintext to a stream of random characters gives a stream of random characters.) This is a true statement."

The addition of sensible plaintext to a stream of random characters gives a stream of random characters, based on a logical algorithm. Therefore, the placement of characters is surely not random, but may present a deceptive/false chaos to the unwitting reader... remove the deception of a false chaos, and only order remains, whereby a cipher key can be used reliably to extract the original plaintext message.

Logical Deception + Order = Order

If one leaves the bounds of cryptology, and enters the game of deception, then it's planned deception based on an orderly technique.

I agree that Nature is not random :-)

I spend much time piecing together reality, one glyph/symbol at a time. Such, is my hobby in life. In regards to Joe Schmoe, Christianity and tenet(s) of belief, it seems only one tenet is really required to pretty much do away with Joe and Christianity, at least from my perspective.

Tenet of Belief: “All is Nature”

Christians believe in a supernatural God, and Deists believe (in general), that a God exists outside the bounds of Nature. Christians believe in an interactive God, who is partial (when it's convenient), Deists hold that God is impartial, and impervious to the plight of humanity. Christians believe divine revelation to be the source of their belief system; Deists believe Nature and reason, to be the source for their belief system.

There are a lot of values that I share between some Christians and Deists, but that one tenet implicitly makes me an atheist to each of their Gods’, and consequently their God centric (theistic) beliefs.

Well, it’s late here, or early depending on how one views their days ;-) Take care.

eel_shepherd said...

jfraysse, you could have tried to brazen it out, concerning the title of your topic post, and its thematic content. Until you confessed, I thought you were making a high level play on words, one which slipped past at least two people. Give ya full marks for honesty, though. ;-)

I periodically return to the idea of making a short list of the cream of reasons for abandoning the Xtianity meme. Some of the items on the list depend on who the Xtian is that you're talking to. For instance, if the Xtian in question doesn't have a problem with accepting evolution, then there's no need to waste time with that whole debate. If they don't believe in evolution, then a list of the places where evolution's claims are borne out (and special creation's aren't) would be good to have handy. Jim_Arvo provided a 10-item list in the mid-April 2007 part of the "evolution-is-full-of-holes" thread that was worth a whole topic-post of its own.

Same with abiogenesis. If the Xtian doesn't rule it out, then that whole arsenal is de trop. Otherwise, it would be good to have some knowledge of self-assembling molecules, and self-regulating systems to account for why "the idiot wind" is cause enough for carbon life to bootstrap on Earth.

I once saw a sequenced list of the line of logic that proves that nothing can be simultaneously omnipotent and omniscient that was so closely-reasoned that you couldn't slide a cigarette paper between the component parts, and it would be good to have that one handy too. And it would be useful to be able to identify all the known, named and catalogued logical/rhetorical fallacies, because Xtianity leans heavily on many of them. It needs a longer runway than a goony bird to take off, and if you don't provide it, it won't fly.

If the Xtian in question is one who leans heavily on bible quoting then maybe making them face up to the sordid history and politics of the early Xtian sects, and the truth of how the books of the bible were selected for inclusion might give them enough pause for some ray of light/doubt to filter in. Complete with, "There's no point in going ostrich on me --- this really is how it happened; it's documented, look it up."

I don't know, but I think it would be a worthwhile project to assemble a collection of all the toughest evidence and arguments for a biblegod fan to explain away, given in no-wasted-words form, for non-Xtians to shop around in and pick out the ones they have some passion for, and which they know they can do justice to in a real-time, head-to-head discussion with someone still burdened down with the Xtian meme. But I guess that was the point of your post: the "tenets of YOUR unbelief" (i.e. not the tenets of someone ELSE's unbelief), wasn't it?

boomSLANG said...

Dave8: Christians believe in a supernatural God, and Deists believe (in general), that a God exists outside the bounds of Nature.

Hi Dave. In the above, it seems you made a distinction without much of a difference, with the understood exception of the contradicting Christian belief that "Yahweh" can exist both inside and outside of Nature.

Anyway, if I could pick your brain a bit---concerning "beyond" or meta, what is the difference in the comparison you made? Would not a "supernatural" deity be a deity that exists "outside the bounds of Nature"? Isn't "natural" vs supernatural the same dichotomy as "physical" vs metaphysical?

Dave8: Christians believe in an interactive God, who is partial (when it's convenient), Deists hold that God is impartial, and impervious to the plight of humanity.

And that said, this kind of lends itself to what I've been trying to get at---and that is, if a deity exists that isn't "personal"; isn't a "interactive"; isn't "partial" to human affairs, etc.....well, in that case, I was trying to determine how/why one would benefit from being a "Deist", versus an "Atheist".

Yes, I understand that you are non-theist, but feel free to give your thoughts.

Also, I don't remember where, but the well respected Jim Arvo said that there's bias, and then there's BIAS[paraphrased]. That said---and if you agree---would there not also be similar "wiggle room" concerning "irrationality". Honestly, what would make unbelief(Atheism) "irrational", excluding the current total lack of empirical, testable/falsifiable evidence? 'Just curious. If you get to this fine, if not, no biggie.

Peace.

Dave8 said...

Jfraysse: "The following is a notional ex-Christian statement of unbelief. I encourage you to try your hand at it. Believers are welcome to comment, too... Ok, the above is a straw man ex-Christian statement of unbelief. Have a go at it, but please try to keep it short and to the point. Cheers!"

Thanks for the blog thread, and the challenge to have "tried my hand at it", providing information in order to collaborate on such things as a "notional ex-christian statement" seemed to be a mature and understood concept, for all of those who are literate.

I hope, the information, that I have provided, as well as all others, has been beneficial to you in your quest to gain a diverse perspective from the ex-christian community.

I can only provide my insights, and in response to your thread, and what others may present, for intellectual dialogue. As has been stated, it is up to you, to create your system of belief, even if it's labeled "unbelief".

If this dialogue needs to change from its original direction, please let me know, Take care.

Dave8 said...

Hi BoomSLANG, no worries would be happy to try and explain my stance. I welcome and encourage all productive criticism; it means I can learn from others :-)

Dave8: Christians believe in a supernatural God, and Deists believe (in general), that a God exists outside the bounds of Nature.

BoomSLANG: Hi Dave. In the above, it seems you made a distinction without much of a difference, with the understood exception of the contradicting Christian belief that "Yahweh" can exist both inside and outside of Nature."

Restated; Christians believe in a supernatural God, and Deists believe (in general), that a God exists outside the bounds of Nature. If Nature equates to the Universe, then, both the Christian and Deist believe in something extra/meta/transcendent of the Natural Universe. The difference between the Deist and Christian, in general terms, is how they characterize the personality (impartial/partial) of their God concepts.

I agree that the contradiction of Christian tradition, regarding a God concept that is intra/extra Universe presents a situation where God is part Nature/Universe. However, in a tenet such as "All is Nature", there is no room for that "transcendent" or "meta" piece to exist.

I'll also suggest that I presented the "tenet" to illustrate; it has been the direction of this thread to present possible "tenets" that may encompass the ex-christian communities' stance. I understand, that this is truly difficult in a diverse community, but at least there is the discussion :-)

BoomSLANG: "Anyway, if I could pick your brain a bit---concerning "beyond" or meta, what is the difference in the comparison you made? Would not a "supernatural" deity be a deity that exists "outside the bounds of Nature"? Isn't "natural" vs supernatural the same dichotomy as "physical" vs metaphysical?"

Yes, at least from my perspective, there may be others who don't agree with that statement, but I do.

BoomSLANG: "And that said, this kind of lends itself to what I've been trying to get at---and that is, if a deity exists that isn't "personal"; isn't a "interactive"; isn't "partial" to human affairs, etc.....well, in that case, I was trying to determine how/why one would benefit from being a "Deist", versus an "Atheist"."

:-) As a social scientist, I am compelled to throw out there, that what is being discussed is an extra-benefit, and an intra-benefit, subjectively perceived and validated by the individual.

If one wants to focus on a belief system as being "only" extra-benefit oriented, which is a test of logic, then it would appear that the Deist and Atheist are logical equals.

However, on the intra-benefit to the individual, which is not only a logical test, but a subjective need test, one may find that it helps one sleep at night, or be more socially comfortable to suggest to others, that there is indeed a "purpose" and "reason" implicit to the Universe and its design.

The Atheist may see no distinction between the Deist or Atheist, except in regards to "logic" and rational explanation.

Since most would agree, that people see intra-self outward, the Deist and Atheist part ways early on. The Atheist may hold "logic" above their own subjective truth, drawing from other sources of research that has been tested, etc.

In short, one benefits on how they perceive their needs being met, intra-self, as either a Deist or Atheist. The use of "partial" or "beneficial", and in some form "interactive", is solely based on subjective need(s). On this level alone, it would be hard to argue universally, that one person is more valuable in their beliefs than another; because each person is receiving a benefit based on personal allowance.

In the realm of extra-benefit/external reality, where logic becomes the tool of reason... subjective truth/personal desire(s), and the external reality may conflict.

In logic terms, how does a Deist have more extra-Benefit than the Atheist, if there is no favor given by a "God"... There is none, logically speaking.

If "all" a Deist relied upon, was "logic" and rational support for their belief system, then they would have to accept that they received "no" extra-benefit.

However, there are likely a bunch of Deists running around, that don't suggest that they hold extra-benefit, based on logic alone, as the sole factor in their belief system. There is usually a mix.

I am personally partial to "logic", I direct it inward to my intra-self, as well as towards my extra-self. But again, that is a bias, I and the A.P.A. find to be mentally beneficial. But, still, I would not discount the value of a person who held that "feeling" was the truest form of finding peace in their lives.

I would suggest that it was less predictable, when interacting with the external reality though. We each choose how to live our lives, and how to measure benefit.

BoomSLANG: "Yes, I understand that you are non-theist, but feel free to give your thoughts."

:-) To the theist who defines their belief by qualifying "God", as supernatural, I am an implicit atheist - to them... To the person who uses the term "God" and qualifies it as "Nature", with no other attributes, I am an implicit theist - to them. I am an equal opportunity rationalist.

All I have, is a list/tenet of beliefs... I am partial to logic, and the goal of rational cohesion between the knowledge of the extrinsic and intrinsic realities.

I find it irrational, to make a claim to a position until the words or object of position/definition are "defined". That means, since everyone could qualify their particular god using different qualia, I find it logically beneficial to just wait until they proffer such information, and allow me cross-check it with what I know. How, their statement pans out, determines my particular position to their belief.

Atheism, Agnosticism, and Theism are general terms. To explicitly blanket all "gods" that could possibly fall under theism, would be irrational. Each person does, in my opinion, get to "define" and "qualify" their god, based on personal preference.

However... as an ex-christian... I understand my position, because Christianity by and large follows the same doctrine and qualification(s) for their God. I am implicitly an atheist to their God, until such time, a Christian shows up, and differs from mainstream Christianity, and then... I would likely suggest they reclassify themselves :-) But, that's rational... if a person is irrational, then... what's a rational person to do, but just sit and stare ;-)

BoomSLANG: "Also, I don't remember where, but the well respected Jim Arvo said that there's bias, and then there's BIAS[paraphrased]. That said---and if you agree---would there not also be similar "wiggle room" concerning "irrationality"."

Jim Arvo is the best source to qualify the statement. I would be out of line, to suggest I knew exactly what he meant.

In my "humble" opinion, there exists a gap of uncertainty between our intrinsic reality (mental reality), and extrinsic reality (Universe).

When a person speaks, in general, (like claiming a term like Theist, without qualifying the term God), they do so, with a measure or irrational/illogical assignment.

I suppose the question would be, whether or not it is useful to talk in general concepts as opposed to particular concepts. If so, a measure of uncertainty and irrationality/illogical assignment is understood.

I try as much as possible, not to speak in general terms as "fact", or "certainty", as that is illogical/irrational. Thus, why I keep a list of belief(s)/tenet(s), and take a particular stance, once I understand my mental reality (intrinsic truth(s)) in relation to someone else’s claims.

I use the term irrational at times synonymously with illogical. I don't mean to confuse the terms with irrationalism and rationalism.

The irrationalist holds that such tenets as feeling, intuition, etc., are the best source to link our mental reality to our external reality. A rationalist, holds that "reason" is the best tenet to discern truth, above all else, to include feeling, intuition, etc.

Again, I would be remiss if I didn't suggest that Jim Arvo is the best source to assign meaning to his statement.

I will reply to the last part, but I am out of time at the moment… Peace

jfraysse said...

Dave8: I very much appreciate your responses and especially the time it took to craft them. I try to read and interpret everyone’s comments - both the short and the long. The internet is great for some things, but since a good portion of communication is non-verbal and also visual, I may miss the minutia and nuances of some responses. I was not, and am not, trying to change anyone’s mind – not even the Fundy Christian’s who, from time to time, troll this site. I was simply looking for considered responses in regard to the subject Topic and a civil exchange of ideas. I have not been disappointed!

Many times my best summary thoughts on religion, seems to be: “What? You can’t take a Joke!?” Unfortunately, millions, perhaps billions, take their religion as “Deadly Serious”! Certainly no joke!

Humanity has so many IMPORTANT issues with which to deal. It sickens me to see so much energy spent on “religious pursuits”, much of it bent on creating more and more proselytes. Thanks much, Dave8 and all of you!

Grace & Peace, John

Dave8 said...

After reading my last post, I'd like to qualify a few statements. When I say "belief", I am referring to a "truth statement(s)", not "belief in a god". So, hopefully that isn't getting lost in the words.

Also, regarding my suggestion that everyone who holds a position is equal in logic. This means, everyone has the same "potential" and equal right to engage in logic to qualify their truth statement(s), which in turn they assign towards a particular stance/position on "god".

BoomSLANG: "Also, I don't remember where, but the well respected Jim Arvo said that there's bias, and then there's BIAS[paraphrased]. That said---and if you agree---would there not also be similar "wiggle room" concerning "irrationality". Honestly, what would make unbelief (Atheism) "irrational", excluding the current total lack of empirical, testable/falsifiable evidence? 'Just curious. If you get to this fine, if not, no biggie."

I thought about this for a while, and here is what logically comes to mind for me. I agree we each hold bias (we're humans with emotion, feeling, etc.), and if we apply that bias Universally to all of Nature, then we are implying a Bias, Absolutely.

Each of our truth statement(s), are based on our subjective bias, but we get to choose whether or not to apply that bias as Bias.

We can mitigate our bias, based on secondary information, testing, and application of words to the external reality.

Wiggle room, again from my perspective is based on a measure of certainty.

Each person could argue that they are more certain than someone else, regarding a personal truth statement.

Thus, at a personal level, every persons' mental conviction, holds the potential to be as equally valid, as anyone else’s'. There is ultimate wiggle room, when comparing one persons' conviction to another persons'.

In order to make a distinction however, between one persons' truth statements (which found their unbelief/atheism, etc.), and another persons', there must be a standard by which to measure certainty of conviction.

That measure, is an epistemological concern... the question; how does one "measure" knowledge, in order to ascertain its value in regard to Truth becomes the manner by which to discern one persons' truth statements as more valid than another's.

To recap, although each persons' conviction of truth statements may be equally vied for, some feel the need to compare and contrast the differences between each persons' convictions, in order to determine validity of a conviction, based on truth statements, and ultimately the belief system that results.

I feel compelled and biased towards comparing and contrasting differing convictions than my own... because I feel that a healthy mentality, is the result of finding cohesion between our mental reality, and the external reality.

It could be argued by someone, that we all should just hold convictions equally as valid, and not share or compare information. I have to admit, I have a personal bias towards influencing people to face reality, as it's beneficial to me because I must live in the same community as many of the people I talk/live with, the VT massacre is the result of someone who lost touch, between their mental reality, and the external reality - there was a dissociation.

My goal is biased; even if my goal provides a mutual benefit to me, and the individual. I provide the same method of finding cohesion between my mental reality and external reality, without conflict. However, I seek secondary advice when I make truth statement(s), at times, because I am not naive enough to believe I don't miss things.

There are a lot of people, who do "not" like being challenged, in regard to their convictions. And to those people, I do not engage them, in most circumstances.

However, on a blog, or if someone approaches me, with their personal conviction(s) and attempts to project their "influence", in the public domain, they no longer hold the protection of "personal conviction", they have engaged in influence operations.

To recap; although someone can argue that their right to hold equal value in their convictions, and not be challenged based on an epistemological standard, they give up that right (my bias), when they attempt to project their mental reality into the public domain through discourse, or some other form of communication.

There can be a civil discussion, on which epistemological standard to use; irrational based on feeling, intuition, etc., rational based on reason alone, or some hybrid of the two.

However, if someone engages in influence operations, I don't necessarily have to "agree" with their epistemological standards to measure certainty of truth. I reserve the right to measure truth based on my biased epistemological standard, as I will accept a truth statement only after it meets my standard of rigor.

On this site, I engage in both civil acceptance of standards of measurement, and then... when I feel someone is just playing the influence game, I pull out my truth statements, built using my preferred standard of measurement; logic/rationalism.

At this point, there is surely now wiggle room aplenty. There is the wiggle room, that each of us holds personal convictions that we could each suggest is equally valid, in a subjective form and based on personal bias. There is also wiggle room, for a person to suggest that they don't need to engage another person at all, if it challenges their convictions based on truth statements or just general notions of truth.

However, once information flows to the public domain, and influence ops engage, then each of us is equally valid to use our personal measurement to ascertain the validity of a persons' convictions or truth statements, which base their belief system.

I use rationalism/reasoned logic, my bias; I try and live with as little mental conflict as possible. As others have stated, not only is it likely a good thing to create one's truth statement(s), it would also be helpful if they as well, understood the means by which they epistemologically validate their truth statement(s).

Typically, people create/adopt a method to epistemologically measure their truth statement(s)/knowledge. Then they go about, creating truth statement(s), using their standard of measurement.

On this very thread, I apply logic as reason above feeling, intuition, etc., because language itself is logically structured. It just seems appropriate to use a structured protocol, in a structured environment.

If a person creates a number of truth statement(s), and don't understand "how" they came to validate them, then they have an "illogical" assignment, between their statement(s), and their epistemological method of validation.

If a person accepts that rationalism/reason above all else, is the manner to test another persons' convictions, and they have created a number of truth statements as well, based on the standard(s) or reason/logic, then one can logically proceed in examining what other people proffer as influence statements.

If one accepts logic, then a notional certainty of a statement can be ascertained. This isn't possible in the form of irrationalism/feeling, intuition, etc., are poor arbiters for measurement of certainty, when corresponding to a secondary party.

In the form of logic; what notional certainty could be assigned to a general/universal statement. I would suggest, the lowest level of certainty, one would have to be omniscient to improve the level of certainty for a finite mind to make an infinite statement.

Is there wiggle room, in a generalized statement... sure, there is the "remote" possibility that the one making the claim, may in fact be right, but after "one" person provides the "exemption" to the rule, for a given statement, the "universal" statement is no longer valid as a statement.

For instance; if a theist makes a generalized claim that god(s) do in fact exist; there need only be one occasion where that is proven false, to where the statement becomes absurd.

Obviously, the theist would be required to proffer their qualification(s) for a god concept, in order for the concept to be measured. If the theist is not capable of providing a qualification to their "god" concept, then their statement is illogical, as they are speaking about something they can't even assign meaning to.

To recap; if someone makes a generalized statement of belief, without epistemological understanding, or self-validated truth statement(s) based on such a standard, they are speaking illogically.

If one sticks to logic and reason, as a measurement of certainty. Then, it becomes apparent over some study, that atheism is logically a response to theism.

To explicitly "pre-claim" atheism is illogical, without understanding one's own epistemological standards for measurement, and truth statement(s), and then comparing them to a theists' claims. There is absolute (infinite) uncertainty in such a sequence of events. The cart is running ahead of the horse, per se.

It would be logical, for one to create/adopt an epistemological standard of measurement, derive truth statements, and then test a person who makes a claim as a theist. A logical flow occurs, one is in a neutral position, no belief claimed, and then, once a theist makes a claim, their statements can be measured. And, one can find themselves in an oppositional position - an implicit atheist, based on one's logically founded truth statements. There is much certainty in this position, as the theists' truth statements are being challenged directly. The only uncertainty resides in validity of the epistemological standard of measurement.

Moving from the general to the particular. If a person is an implicit atheist, do they have to then go back to a neutral position? Logically, No. I could easily tell everyone I know, I am implicitly an atheist towards the Christian concept of god, as they have presented their God (past tense). However, its nice to get a vector check every now and then, if I feel compelled to identify myself using such a label, so that I don't find myself in conflict to a changing Christian meme.

Once I am an implicit atheist towards the Christian concept of God, based on my epistemological measurement, and set of complimentary truth statement(s), one could suggest I am a "particular" type of atheist.

And, one could logically assert explicitly that they are a particular type atheist.

Some atheists may in fact, present themselves as explicit atheists, using the general term "atheist", without having to resolve to using the more accurate "particular" type atheism, i.e., supernatural atheism, etc. It's a matter of convenience to use a general term, but the meaning and validity of logic, gets lost in such a generalized convenience.

I haven't really thought about it much; but, here goes. If a person uses the word "atheist" to goad a response from a theist, is that logical? Is a person who uses such a strategy, logical?

I would suggest initially - no. However, with the caveat that, a person who makes such a claim, can during the course of discussion with a theist, begin to develop their epistemological standards, and truth statements, bringing them to a logically sound position of a particular type of atheism.

Of note, a person can be epistemologically sound, and able to create truth statement(s), without a label. This is a neutral position. A person can then respond to a theistic claim, by applying their truth statement(s), and become an implied atheist. At this point, the implied atheist can present themselves "explicitly" as an atheist, but it is more accurate to suggest they are of a particular type atheist, in response to a particular type theist.

My earlier post, suggested that atheism is a response to theism. To put the cart before the horse, and create theistic claims, in order to deny their validity, is illogical.

Again, from those that I know on this site that claim atheism, rationally, they do so in direct response to the personified Christian god concept, and all the attributes that go along with such a concept.

Many may do this, just based on their epistemological standard, and truth statements.

I suggested an example earlier; “All is Nature/One." That truth statement, based on logic, makes a person an implicit atheist to those who have doctrine established which suggests there is a Meta something outside the Universe. And, if one wants to promote themselves "explicitly", it would be more logical to suggest they are a particular "type" atheist.

In the great U.S.A., explicitly expressing one's implicit atheism regarding Meta god(s), would pretty much cover most all major religions.

To end; yes, everyone has a certain level of uncertainty, but in order to move closer to certainty, a standard which promises to provide reliability and validity, is the best option to measure the truth of convictions and truth statements.

If a person suggests they want to use irrationalism and make generalized statements as Truth, then they just have to logically accept that their statements hold much more uncertainty than those who are particular and have a consistent and structured manner of deducing/inferring truth.

We all get to choose, what that standard will be, how we will employ that standard, and what truth statement(s) we will keep that support such a standard... but, we, that's me included, will get inspected by others once we enter the public domain and make statements of influence. Like others have said, it's up the individual, to come to terms with how they will form their system of belief; unbelief/atheism, theism, agnosticism, Taoism, etc., etc.

Oh, and if one were to use the tenet; "All is Nature", they would have to qualify the words "All" and "Nature", and those are both general terms... once qualified, they are no longer general; they are particular, in some degree. Likely, there would need to be sub-tenets that support those general words.

Hopefully, this post hasn't offended anyone; it was not my intent. I welcome criticism, take care.

Jim Arvo said...

Dave8 said "Jim Arvo is the best source to qualify the statement.", concerning something I wrote a while ago about bias. Let me see if I can clear up whatever confusion I might have caused. The first point I was making is that all of us have biases; some stemming from our very biology, some from our culture, some from sheer laziness. To think that any one of us has a clear unfettered view of reality is, in my view, pure hubris. But my second point was that not all biases are equally pervasive or problematic, and that there are steps we can take to mitigate bias to some extent. The best tools I know of for this are science and critical thinking in general. When one's view of reality is rooted in emotion and wishful thinking, this indulges precisely the biases that we all possess. On the other hand, if we can make a habit of corroborating what we think we know with actual verifiable facts, then we are much less prone to follow the dictates of wishful thinking and the like. I think that science has been supremely successful in formulating models of reality that actually work precisely because it strives to keep everything grounded in reality, not fantasy. It throws out that which does not work and (provisionally) keeps that which does. That's a recipe for progress.

So, in a nutshell, we all make bad judgments due to (irrational) biases, but with some work, we can lessen the frequency of such errors. This is not much different than the claim made of science in the large, which invariably deals with incomplete information and provisional conclusions. It makes progress, however, by plainly acknowledging this fact and embracing scrutiny rather than avoiding it. Individuals can do the same by continually examining their assumptions (presuppositions) and being unafraid (or at least not 100% opposed) to alter them should they be found to be in error.

Now, it seems there was a suggestion that this inherent irrationality we all possess would make atheism irrational. That would only be so if atheism were synonymous with absolute certainty on the point of god's (non)existence--but, to me, that is a nonsensical definition. If, on the other hand, the position of the atheist is seen to be that of seeking warranted belief, and simply refusing to accept the claims of the theist without compelling evidence or cogent reasoning, then there is no problem at all.

I am an atheist because I have seen no compelling evidence or logically sound arguments for the existence of any gods or goddesses, judging on the basis of my admittedly imperfect reasoning and limited knowledge. But I ask: What is the alternative? The alternative would be for me to accept something as true without any foundation in what I already have reasons to believe as true, and with no support from my methods of reasoning that have been honed in other arenas, and proven successful there. Would this not be the very definition of irrationality? Is there any reason to suppose that this would be a wise move?

boomSLANG said...

Jim Arvo: Now, it seems there was a suggestion that this inherent irrationality we all possess would make atheism irrational. That would only be so if atheism were synonymous with absolute certainty on the point of god's (non)existence--but, to me, that is a nonsensical definition.

I agree, as Atheism isn't about "knowledge" in the first place, but about "belief"---or by definition, lack of belief.

Jim Arvo(continued): If, on the other hand, the position of the atheist is seen to be that of seeking warranted belief, and simply refusing to accept the claims of the theist without compelling evidence or cogent reasoning, then there is no problem at all.

What I was inquiring about regarding "irrational Atheism" and possible "bias" could now apply to the question: Who defines the terms as to what is "warranted", or not?

Moreover, since Atheism concerns itself with the non-belief in god(s), specifically, and not the whole of the supernatural, we'd have to have an objective discription/definition of "god", would we not? Now, is that an "irrational" question/statement on the side of Atheism?

Anyway, thanks Dave8 and Jim Arvo for your thoughts, particularly, on the subject of "irrational non-belief".

Dave8 said...

Jim: "That would only be so if atheism were synonymous with absolute certainty on the point of god's (non)existence--but, to me, that is a nonsensical definition."

Thanks Jim, for your insights. I agree, any statement made with absolute certainty, on any subject would likely be absurd.

If a theist makes a generalized claim about "all" gods being true, without qualifying "all" gods, then isn’t the theist illogically defining a belief, based on an unqualified term?

If a theist doesn't qualify the terms of their "theism", e.g., god, then is the label "non-belief" directed towards' the theists statement more logical in this case, or the label "a-theism" in response to an unqualified term?

Is it illogical to claim a-theism prior to a theists qualification of their statements?

If a-theism is a logical response to a theist who qualifies their terms, then there is a "belief".

It would only seem logical, that if the definition of "no belief in a god(s)", was used towards a theists' claims, that a belief in a god(s), and that belief... is non-belief. This would make sense, if non-belief in a theists' claims, slid a person into the category of particular atheist, towards a particular theists' claims. However, the term "atheism", is "all" inclusive, it is a "general" term, not a particular term, does the conflict of non-belief in particular reference to a theist, which is logical, become illogical once it is used to support a "general" claim of "all" theism"?

Are universal and general statements synonymous? Would a general statement or universal statement be illogical, if it were based on a limited number of samples provided by a select number of particular theists? Especially, based on the samples we get around here :-)

Jim: "If, on the other hand, the position of the atheist is seen to be that of seeking warranted belief, and simply refusing to accept the claims of the theist without compelling evidence or cogent reasoning, then there is no problem at all."

Does the atheist in this scenario become an atheist prior to seeking warranted belief, or after inspecting the claims of the theist, and finding the claims to be without compelling evidence?

Jim: "I am an atheist because I have seen no compelling evidence or logically sound arguments for the existence of any gods or goddesses, judging on the basis of my admittedly imperfect reasoning and limited knowledge."

Is your atheism then, a response the theists' claims, after inspecting their particular evidence or qualifications of the terms, e.g., god(s)? Would it be wrong to suggest that you are currently atheistic towards particular god(s), that have been presented to you, by a variety of theists?

I too have yet to find compelling evidence for the particular qualification(s), proferred by theists, especially on this site.

I suppose, I seem to find myself thinking about the possible theist, who pops up and suggests that their god is the sun. That they have a "belief" that the "sun" is in fact real, and brings life, thus, its the supreme life force of earth, e.g., God. Thus, this person has a "god", which is rationally proven to be real, based on science.

I by sheer fact, as a scientist, surely believe in the "sun", I also believe that the sun provides life sustaining energy. The only thing that I may not agree on... is the use of the term "god".

However, I find myself troubled, by claiming to be an implicit atheist in this context, because its the 'theist' who gets to qualify the terms of their 'god'. And if I logically find fault with their qualifications, I can be implicitly an atheist, based on my understanding of reality. But, when reality supports the theists' beliefs... it appears the most I can do is say, all their logical links make sense, and that in fact their "god" does exist.

I can't rightly suggest I have non-belief in the sun... Would I just be argumentative by suggesting I was an atheist towards that particular theists' claims, as I have nothing else to suggest their claim to be logically false, other than the dislike of the word "god"?

This is where a universal/general statement about "god", seems to give complication to me. Atheism is a response to theism, not as a blanket accusation to make towards all would be theist(s) and the god(s), they are responsible for qualifying.

Jim: "But I ask: What is the alternative?"

Force the theist to provide extraordinary evidence for extraordinary claims? And, judge them based on their merit(s)?

Jim: "The alternative would be for me to accept something as true without any foundation in what I already have reasons to believe as true, and with no support from my methods of reasoning that have been honed in other arenas, and proven successful there. Would this not be the very definition of irrationality?"

Yes, I agree wholeheartedly, if one discounts the qualification a single theist makes using "transcendence", for example, then it would be irrational/illogical to suggest that any other theist get to use "transcendence" as a support. In short, I suppose a truth statement made regarding transcendence, could be used to measure "all" theistic claims, consistently. To not do such, would be irrational, I agree.

But, do the individual truth statements in response to theistic qualifications, even if large in number, ever fully remove all of the possible ways a theist could qualify their god concept?

Am I being overly cautious, by refraining from making a universal statement of belief/non-belief/un-belief with only a handful of truth statements?

Jim: "Is there any reason to suppose that this would be a wise move?"

Regarding inconsistent application of truth statements would not be a wise move, as you stated, that would be illogical/irrational.


I'm trying to see a progression, in a humorous sense :-)

Neutral/non-belief: Hey, I have a lot of truth statements, based on my knowledge... and my knowledge, well... it’s the product of cognition, and thus is used to create my beliefs, etc. However, I haven't created any "gods" or god beliefs, lately with my knowledge.

Theist: Yeah, well I have knowledge that a god exists.

Neutral: Really? Prove empirically that the knowledge you hold, has a logical link to reality.... Show me. Perhaps, you have a god of the unreal type?

Theist: I can't, it's logically impossible. And, logic is how you empirically link knowledge from a mental belief, to the external reality.

Implicit Atheist: Thanks, but no thanks, until you meet my logical standard of measurement for truth, consider my truth statements to you, to imply that I am an atheist towards your particular qualifications of your god, e.g., your god doesn't exist, based on your lack of qualification(s).

(Implicit Atheist, at this point, and with no belief in a god(s), based on lack of empirical evidence, logically tested, can slide back to the neutral position, or move forward and transition to an explicit atheist position, based on particular truth statements)

Explicit Atheist: I can now, explicitly state that I have an atheistic view towards all people/ theists who attempt to qualify their god in conflict with my truth statement(s).

To me, this represents a logical flow of discourse. If any of these happen out of sequence, then someone is starting from an illogical position. For instance; a person who explicitly claims atheism, but has never met a theist, or read theistic doctrine. If a person takes this stance, they are doing so, illogically/irrationally… and all things being equal, in the realm of emotion, intuition, etc., such a stance would be no more cogent than the theist who asserts they “feel” god, every moment in their life as a qualifier for their god. I suppose, one can’t discount the value of one’s right to choose to hold an irrational belief as opposed to a logical belief, but… if such a person engage another irrationalist; they will be in a perpetual state of argument… unless one slides towards logic, and reason. Perhaps, I shouldn’t be biased towards my view that all discourse is to support intellectual growth, there is value in being able to vent temporarily and then slide back into logical mode, and I do this at times.

Obviously, the longer one goes through the described cycle, the larger their list of truth statements gets, based on an increase in knowledge. The larger the list of truth statement(s), the less likely it will be for a theist to qualify their god concept, as there will become fewer and fewer options.

I typically, move back to a neutral position, and become an on-call implicit atheist when sequestered by the would be individual theist... and I know this likely frustrates many who move forward, to the explicit atheist position, because they are able to project their beliefs towards theism in general.

It's a matter of approach I suppose. I have been tagged, as one who likes the "chase", because I roll back into the neutral position, and logically walk with others through their thought process more times than not. Although, when someone isn't willing to move forward mentally, I can flip into explicit mode pretty fast ;-)

Well, again, thanks for the honest response. Look forward to further insight on the topic at hand. I learn a little more, every day. Take Care.

Dave8 said...

Oops, it looks like I used the word non-belief, as a neutral position. "Non", means to have little or very little, and belief, means to have an opinion or conviction.

So, to suggest non-belief in the context of theism, is to suggest one has little opinion or conviction towards theism. I see that belief can just be opinion and conviction as well, that only requires the smallest amount of knowledge, and really, only the knowledge required to communicate and make statements.

But, the way I represented non-belief in the scenario I provided, has a non-believer with much thought involved, and that is contradictory I see. So, in the scenario I provided, I suppose its best to just leave the first term, as "Neutral", and without regard to theism. This would make the position at least an "objective" starting point.

Jim Arvo said...

BoomSLANG and Dave8,

You guys are raising some good questions, and they could lead to a really interesting (and lengthy) discussion. I find it interesting that the visiting religionists never seem to be interested in dissecting arguments to this level. It would be so much more interesting if they did.

BoomSLANG, you asked about what "warranted belief" is, and whether the religionist is obliged to define what she means by the word "god" so that we can make sense of the atheist's position of NOT believing the theistic claim. Dave8, you raised similar questions, and also hit on the distinction between non-belief due to ignorance vs. non-believe as a conscious rejection of positive claims.

These are all great questions. I don't claim to have any definitive answers, although I'll bet we can probably come to quick agreement on some things. First, let me make explicit something that we all do instinctively in virtually every discussion that we have: we jump into the "middle" of the argument, assuming certain implicit definitions. For example, when I say I don't believe in "god", I'm assuming we all have a fairly standard understanding of what that means; and, of course, that assumption will lead to problems in some discussions where finer distinctions become pertinent. That's why I often replace the word "god" with "invisible conscious entity", which is a little more concrete. But even then we are left to define what "consciousness" is, so even that isn't well-defined enough for some discussions.

But, I think we can agree that defining what "god" means is a prerequisite for understanding the position of explicitly rejecting such a god-concept. So, we're stuck in a quagmire of definitions right from the start, since I've yet to see a truly meaningful definition of "god". But there are further complications that we often trip over, such as what it means to "not believe", or to "disbelieve", or to "lack belief". Are they all synonymous? Some people use them interchangeably, others don't. Frankly, I'm always reluctant to engage in the drudgery of carefully defining all such concepts in the types of discussions that we have here for several reasons: 1) it's almost impossible to get people to agree on such fine distinctions, 2) it tends to get really nit-picky and boring, and 3) there are usually larger issues at play that can be addressed without slogging through all the low-level definitions. For example, if believer X says she believes in "god" because of a dream she had, then I needn't be too concerned about her exact definition of god to criticize her reasoning. As dreams are demonstrably poor indicators of what is real, concluding that something is real because of a dream is not a compelling argument no matter what the "thing" is that we're discussing.

But, I can't resist paraphrasing a thought experiment that I read somewhere recently (I don't recall the book at the moment). Imagine that a crime scene investigator studies the evidence left at the scene of a murder. He is asked by the police chief about the evidence, and he points out that there is some positive evidence pointing to Mr. X as the perpetrator, and some mitigating evidence for Mr. X. On balance, the investigator says that the current forensic evidence points to a 60% chance that Mr. X is the perpetrator. He is then asked a simple question: Do you *believe* Mr. X did it? How are we to understand that question? Clearly it means something more than "Is 60 a number that is greater than 50?" But what does it mean then? If that's a bit confusing, now try to make sense of various *negations* of belief. Would it be proper for the investigator to say "I don't believe Mr. X did it, because 60 < 100", or "I lack belief at this time", or "I disbelieve that Mr. X is innocent", etc. Can we even begin to tackle these without first understanding completely what it means to "believe" something?

You see, this is why I try to avoid such discussions. I instead try to focus on the support for various beliefs, which then raises the very pertinent question as to what constitutes valid evidence. Again, most discussions can proceed without tackling this issue first. In many instances the person making the positive claim (e.g. "god exists!") does not even claim to have evidence. In virtually all cases in which some evidence is claimed, we can take those claims and examine them without first deciding what evidence is in the abstract. For instance, I think we can all agree that "I saw it in a dream" is very poor evidence without even knowing what "good" evidence looks like. In general, if the form of evidence routinely fails to differentiate claims that we KNOW to be false from those that we KNOW to be true, then it's a poor form of evidence.

That's all I have time for at the moment. If you guys wish to pursue this further, I'll try to chime in, but I doubt we'll be able to completely clear up the semantic tangle. This kind of quibbling has kept philosophers busy for centuries, so we're unlikely to cover any new ground. (But then the same can be said for apologetics, and that doesn't stop us from arguing ad nauseam, does it?)