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Theist -> Atheist

  1. Nov 16, 2007 #1
    Theist --> Atheist

    I am a worshipper of science ie. I need evidence for everything I beleive. (I know I am not perfect at this!) I have often tried to talk to theists about my reasons for dumping the idea of God and found that theists are unaffected by any of these reasons due to the jacket of faith they wear.

    Has anyone here, successfully satisfied a theist about an atheist philosophy?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 16, 2007 #2

    Evo

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    An atheist doesn't need a philosophy or reason to simply not believe what he considers imaginary.
     
  4. Nov 16, 2007 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    You can't defeat faith with logic when the logic is based on faith.

    As you said, to you science is a religion.
     
  5. Nov 16, 2007 #4

    Ivan Seeking

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    Oh yes, not to forget that God is not a subject of science.
     
  6. Nov 16, 2007 #5

    Evo

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    Why do people think they have to give up a belief in God to believe in science and vice versa?
     
  7. Nov 16, 2007 #6

    Ivan Seeking

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    Dogma vs concept? When I listen to any number of religious leaders speak, it makes my stomach turn, but this is a separate issue from faith.

    I liked the thesis from the movie Contact: Science and religion both seek truth.
     
  8. Nov 16, 2007 #7
    That was a tricky argument, but it is generally an equivocation fallacy.

    Belief
    1. conviction (and/or)
    2. accept things as true in the absence of evidence

    conviction =/= accept things in as true in the absence of evidence

    "I believe in democracy" is a conviction, but does not require that you accept thing in the absence of evidence. Then a claim that tries to equate 'belief in democracy' (evidence-based conviction) with belief in, say, the supernatural (conviction in the absence of evidence) is not that valid. Semantics, I guess.

    Some characteristics of religion is:

    - belief in supernatural beings
    - sacred versus profane objects, places and times
    - rituals dealing with the sacred versus profane objects, places and times
    - moral code with supernatural origin
    - religious 'feeling'
    - some type of prayer / communication with the supernatural

    etc.

    I do not quite see how science (or indeed the OP:s thoughts on it; pretty sure it was metaphorical) constitutes a religion.

    Indeed. Providing alternative scientific explanations to phenomena that is claimed as supernatural, however, is.

    It is an interesting question. I do not think it is just because of a belief in a deity per se, but more with the extra luggage, for a lack of a better term, that usually comes with it (like religious doctrines). I think the problem that lead some people to that dichotomy is that science often is corrosive to religious doctrines (or any other supernatural belief for that matter) about the nature of the Universe.

    A joining of the philosophical / metaphysical underpinnings of both science and theism usually requires at least some degree of bifurcation and I guess some people cannot handle it as well as others who do.
     
  9. Nov 16, 2007 #8
    I am inclined towards that as well, but what happens when those two attempts collide?
     
  10. Nov 16, 2007 #9

    Ivan Seeking

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    We grow.
     
  11. Nov 16, 2007 #10

    Ivan Seeking

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    However, to reject the God concept is to reject 4000 years of human experience [claims]. That is an act of faith.
     
  12. Nov 16, 2007 #11
    But there is no real link between human experience (natural) and the conclusion (supernatural). The logical relationship between experience and God is too weak to be a justifiable reason to call denying the God concept an "act of faith". At best we can conclude that human beings have similar make-ups and are prone to draw similar irrational conclusions when experiencing things.

    Take hypnogogic imagery; most humans experience the same sort of imagery and sounds (ones that invoke fear) but it isn't due to the reality of hypnogogic images that the mind creates, it's the fact that humans are social creatures and tend to see (and fear) the same sort of things. I see God as just another example of this. Just like denying the reality of hypnogogic imagery (even though many people experience it), I deny the existence of God.
     
  13. Nov 16, 2007 #12
    I think that is a mischaracterization of atheism. It simple means a lack of belief in deities. That is like arguing that being a non-astrologer or a non-unicornist is an act of faith.

    In fact, a lot can be gained by the scientific study of the natural emergence and evolution of religion. Religion and so on is a lot older and dates back to ancestor worship and natural religions thousands of years earlier. It is also fascinating to see that religions started to pop up into human culture when it did compared to the biological evolution of the brain. At the time, such a vast part of the world was unknown that only an equally or more vast entity could settle the minds of the humans. What would our ancestors have responded to the sunrise, for instance?

    An interesting books on religion from an anthropological / evolutionary perspective is Religion Explained by Pascal Boyer.
     
  14. Nov 17, 2007 #13

    Garth

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    Some don't, as here.

    Garth
     
  15. Nov 17, 2007 #14

    Hurkyl

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    This appears to be an accurate summary of what you wrote:
    Some things we see are imaginary. Therefore God is imaginary.​
    That's not especially persuasive. :tongue:
     
  16. Nov 17, 2007 #15

    Ivan Seeking

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    Yes, it would seem that God concept is intrinsic, which coincidentally is what many religions tell us. But as for your specific objection:

    So I was responding within the context of the OP. However, to believe in a God or not is to reject the claims of others [and a good part of history], or not, and is still a choice that must be taken on faith.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2007
  17. Nov 17, 2007 #16
    Ivan makes a good point:
    If I am correct in saying so - to actively deny the existence of God (i.e. make a claim that God does not exist; How do you know a god doesn't exist? You don't.) is just as fallacious as believing in one. However, remaining unsure of the existence of a God isn't a logical fallacy.

    What I am saying is, you can't ever reject the experience of others - to do so would be a 'leap in faith,' as Ivan said. So, if your next door neighbor, parents, other family, random forum-goer claim to have had a religious experience, you'd be irrational to claim that what they experienced was not real (You aren't them!). You may of course be able to find 'better explanations,' but most likely it'd be a mistake to even attempt to persuade them.

    Yes, this would also mean that if you have a little girl, and she claims she saw a monster in the closet, you'd be mistaken to actively deny her experience as being "real." However, you could provide persuasive evidence against this - "See? There's nothing in here! It's probably just the shadows, or this stack of coats, etc..."
     
  18. Nov 17, 2007 #17

    Ivan Seeking

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    Religion has defined a good part of human history and we have thousands of years of testimonials of divine intervention in human affairs. I hardly consider that weak. And even when we see what some claim to be miracles, such as in cases of the spontaneous remission of incurable diseases, we either ignore or deny the evidence, or we chalk it up to unknown scientific explanations, which is yet another act of faith.

    Do you want an example of an alleged modern miracle witnessed by thousands of people? How about the vision at Fatima? Seventy thousand people gathered to witness a promised miracle in the sky, and by official accounts, the miracle occurred as promised and when promised.
    https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=149860

    I'm not saying that this was God, but the event is in the historical records. If true, it surely gave many people a concrete reason to believe.

    And you think this is the only way that history can be interpreted? That is clearly a leap of faith.

    Sure, that is the party line, but all that this says is that we can make mistakes. It doesn't invalidate every human experience that science can't explain.
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2007
  19. Nov 17, 2007 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    One last comment: Mostly because of me, this thread is dangerously close to being lockable... if its not already. Please keep this generic and not about any particular religion or beliefs.
     
  20. Nov 17, 2007 #19
    Others that attempt to do this is AnswersInGenesis and Institute for Creation Research. Some do better (more pro-science) as you linked to, others do not (less pro-science; anti-science).

    Now you are asserting that belief is a choice? Can you make yourself believe in a given proposition? Let us take an example:

    Statement: "Your daughter is being tortured in an English prison".

    You probably do not believe this; you may not have a daughter or you may know where she is or that English prisons do not torture people. I assert that you cannot make yourself believe in this proposition because of its contradictions with the facts you have and the lack of evidence?

    Atheism is simply skepticism about deities. Skepticism is certainly not a faith-based enterprise. You are probably skeptical about the existence of unicorns or witches. Does that skepticism require faith (to accept something without evidence)? No.

    Bertrand Russel had an analogy

    "If I were to suggest that between the Earth and Mars there is a china teapot revolving about the sun in an elliptical orbit, nobody would be able to disprove my assertion provided I were careful to add that the teapot is too small to be revealed even by our most powerful telescopes. But if I were to go on to say that, since my assertion cannot be disproved, it is an intolerable presumption on the part of human reason to doubt it, I should rightly be thought to be talking nonsense. If, however, the existence of such a teapot were affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school, hesitation to believe in its existence would become a mark of eccentricity and entitle the doubter to the attentions of the psychiatrist in an enlightened age or of the Inquisitor in an earlier time."

    People have believed in some forms of demons and mystical creatures as long as there have been religions. Do this very fact suggests that demon and mystical creatures exists? Not quite. In fact, it says nothing about their existence or lack thereof. At all. However, it certainly requires no faith at all to be skeptical of those.

    A scientific explanation of the abundance of belief in mystical creatures would be that the brain is hardwired to recognize patterns by evolution, even if none are there.

    Of course, this does not address the question if they, including deities, really exist in reality, but gives a scientific view of how such belief can have arisen.

    Hopefully this was generic enough.
     
  21. Nov 17, 2007 #20
    I think both you and Ivan didn't quite get my point.

    My point was not that, because some experiences are invalid that ALL are invalid — it is simply that because some experiences are invalid, other human experiences (when taken alone) cannot be concluded to be evidence for the existence of a given thing. Experiences have to be validated — and while most people don't take the experiential claims of alien existence at face value, I don't take the experiential claims of God-believers at face value either, and (on a very basic level) for the very same reason.
     
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