Theist -> Atheist

  • #26
Hurkyl
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I suppose my wording should have been a bit clearer. I am just inductively reasoning (myself) that God is another invalid experience, just like hypnogogic imagery. However, my point was not that everyone should follow my lead, and reject the existence of God for that one reason.

My point was that experience alone is not enough to even give credence to the idea that God exists, and that other lines of evidence would be necessary. I reject the existence of God for a lot more reasons than this one.
The form of argument is invalid1 -- the possibility of mass delusion is not a sufficient reason to deny any anything. The argument is only reasonable when you already have a very strong a priori belief that the masses did not see what they claim to have seen.


1: unless, of course, you're in the habit of assuming everything is a figment of the imagination.
 
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  • #27
Hurkyl
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Indeed, the strong religious forces during the last two millenniums has made their very best effort to polarize the situation, even when no such exist. Still, it is all about basic Greek prefixes.
Greek prefixes aren't the ultimate authority on the meaning of words. :tongue:


Also, rejecting something does not mean embracing its antithesis. Rejecting the claims of the existence of unicorns does not make you a unicorn denier.
But rejecting something does mean embracing its negation. Rejecting the existence of unicorns makes you a unicorn denier.


No, since it is a logical fallacy (argumentum ad populum).
Anecdotal evidence is neither deductive proof nor scientific evidence. But it is evidence nonetheless. (Hrm, didn't I already say that? :uhh:)



It actually has scientific evidence, believe it or not.
I'm quite familiar with experiments that suggest people seek patterns where there are none. But that's a very long way from being able to assert that this is the cause of belief in mystical creatures.
 
  • #28
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But rejecting something does mean embracing its negation. Rejecting the existence of unicorns makes you a unicorn denier.
Rejecting the claims of the existence of unicorns does not make you a unicorn denier (only in a world of (false) dichotomies). There are plenty of positions that reject claims of unicorns, but do not assert the nonexistence of unicorns, such as agnosticism, unicornal noncognitivism, ignosticism, skepticism etc.

Anecdotal evidence is neither deductive proof nor scientific evidence. But it is evidence nonetheless. (Hrm, didn't I already say that? )
How can it be evidence if it is a logical fallacy (unless you are a postmodernist)?
 
  • #29
Hurkyl
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Rejecting the claims of the existence of unicorns does not make you a unicorn denier
Yes, but rejecting the existence of unicorns does. Lots of people really do reject the existence of God -- we have at least one in this very thread. :tongue: (Lucretius)

How can it be evidence if it is a logical fallacy (unless you are a postmodernist)?
Since I presume that you are not insisting upon strict rationalism, I cannot make sense of this question.
 
  • #30
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The form of argument is invalid1 -- the possibility of mass delusion is not a sufficient reason to deny any anything. The argument is only reasonable when you already have a very strong a priori belief that the masses did not see what they claim to have seen.


1: unless, of course, you're in the habit of assuming everything is a figment of the imagination.
If you want to get into strict logical statements, population-based arguments are invalid as well. As I stated earlier, reasoning from natural experience to supernatural existence is invalid because there is no logical correlation between natural and supernatural. These are two entirely different "realms" of being (if supernatural can be called a state of being). Your premise does not support your conclusion.

Besides, it appears as if you are altering my statement. I again, am not saying because the populus can be deluded, that anything I don't agree with is a product of mass delusion. I am saying that experience alone is not enough evidence to conclude that a God exists because, similarly, experience alone can verify the existence of alien encounters and other absurd things. I am only saying that it must be verified by other means, experience alone cannot validate the existence of God.
 
  • #31
Hurkyl
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I am only saying that it must be verified by other means, experience alone cannot validate the existence of God.
You have said more than just that.

I deny the existence of God.
I am just inductively reasoning (myself) that God is another invalid experience
 
  • #32
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You have said more than just that.
Hurkyl,

I as a person deny that God exists — the two statements you quoted me on are true. However, they are not part of my argument that I am making here. The argument I am making here is simple, and I've stated it time and time again: experience alone is not enough of a justification to demonstrate the existence of God.

I do believe things that I have not chosen to lay out entirely here in argument form. There are many arguments that I base my nonbelief on. This is just one of them. I didn't tell you all of them — but still told you my personal conclusion — that I don't believe in a God.

The entire point of my post, and subsequent posts, have been to show the flaw in Ivan's reasoning: that because lots of people claim to experience God, that he is somehow more reasonable to believe in than before. I sought to show the lack of a link between the supernatural and the natural, and I believe that lack is present by definition. Thus my point was demonstrated. That is all.
 
  • #33
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What's this? Save us from teh religious thread, zz!
 
  • #34
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depends on how you define God. There are some definition that are not theist, but deist.

Personally, I'm an atheist when it comes to theist gods and an agnostic when it comes to deist gods. The general principal is that theists give their god form and desires and (inevitably) human characteristics; they also have scriptures, prophecies, divinity, etc. A deist doesn't particularly see a god as an entity with a thinking process or a pension for people's moral behavior. Einstein seemed to see god as order and determinism.

I tend to think that if there is such a deist god, it would be the the universe itself, or some fundamental aspect of it. With the lack of 'theory of everything' it's doubtful.

None of this, however, should affect my ability to do science. When I actually do science, it's a more technical process. The discussion of deism seems to have little to do with it, especially the more hands-on type of science I do.
 
  • #35
Ivan Seeking
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But rejecting something does mean embracing its negation. Rejecting the existence of unicorns makes you a unicorn denier.
Yes, many people seem to argue that there is a choice in addition to A and not-A.

Anecdotal evidence is neither deductive proof nor scientific evidence. But it is evidence nonetheless. (Hrm, didn't I already say that? :uhh:)
So it really becomes a choice as to how we weight the evidence.

There is another option not discussed here. There are many people [including many scientists] who believe that they have direct personal experience with... well, God in the classic Judeo-Christian sense, or however they may think of God, at any rate, they have had some sort of intense spiritual experience. So these people are operating from a different frame of reference. In this sense, not everyone who believes in some concept of God is operating on faith alone. However, what they actually experienced is obviously subject to interpretation - another leap of faith.
 
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  • #36
Hurkyl
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What's this? Save us from teh religious thread, zz!
Actually, very little of this thread is religion specific. I know I, for example, am giving essentially the same arguments I would be giving if the topic was alien abductions, rogue waves, or the Mpemba effect. (For the latter two, I mean if this discussion was happing before they got scientific proof)

There are other philosophical issues that religion tends to spawn, but they haven't come up yet.
 
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  • #37
Ivan Seeking
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There is another concept that I think applies to this discussion. When we talk about faith, what we really mean in most cases is choosing to accept certain things as true even though we may not actually "believe" them to be true. That is to say that there is no such thing as faith without doubt. We learned recently that even Mother Theresa acted as if she "believed" in God, when in fact she spent most of her life plagued with doubts about the presence of God in her life and feelings of guilt because of this. But, in spite of this, she continued to do her life's work. That is fantastic example of faith in the classic Christian tradition. To continue the work today, or not, was a choice that she probably had to make thousands of times.
 
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  • #38
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In this sense, not everyone who believes in some concept of God is operating on faith alone. However, what they actually experienced is obviously subject to interpretation - another leap of faith.
Searching for God in the Brain

I am quite fascinated by the relationship (and/or conflict) between science and religion, both presently and historically. I think it requires at least some degree of compartmentalizing (as with any supernaturalistic concept) at least on a methodological plane?
 
  • #39
Ivan Seeking
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Searching for God in the Brain

I am quite fascinated by the relationship (and/or conflict) between science and religion, both presently and historically. I think it requires at least some degree of compartmentalizing (as with any supernaturalistic concept) at least on a methodological plane?
The thing is that there can never be certainty either way. So to approach the question for scientific purposes requires accepted methodologies, but as for personal beliefs, ultimately it is a choice. Consider this: If we could say that there is near absolute certainty that all spiritual experiences result from certain types of brain activity, then we must conclude that there is some non-zero chance that our actions in life have some sort of divine signficance. What is the risk to benefit ratio of living as if God exists? Pascal's Wager.

So there is logic in choosing options rejected for conderation by science...esp depending on what possibilities one is willing to accept - a leap of faith no matter what the choice. It does not take an act of faith to recognize the logic.

Very interesting though... and I was not aware of this:
Although a 2005 attempt by Swedish scientists to replicate Persinger’s God helmet findings failed...
 
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  • #40
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When it comes to methodologies, I meant that some compartmentalizing would be necessary because it would be hard to (1) apply faith instead of evidence to science and (2) evidence instead of faith in religion (or any other type of supernaturalism)? Surely, a sort of NOMA-thinking would be necessary?

So there is logic in choosing options rejected for conderation by science...esp depending on what possibilities one is willing to accept - a leap of faith no matter what the choice. It does not take an act of faith to recognize the logic.
I still do not understand how skepticism requires a leap of faith (accepting things without evidence)?

What is the risk to benefit ratio of living as if God exists?
Which one of them?

Pascal was a good scientist, but not such a good philosopher of religion. Pascal's Wager is quite flawed, but, naturally, the validity or invalidity of Pascal's Wager says nothing about the existence or lack thereof of the supernatural or deities. Objection #2 shows that the situation is more complex than simply P and ~P as you seems to have expressed?
 
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  • #41
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So according to Hurkyl, not believing and lack of belief are the same?

Pascal's Wager? Why assume that such a god would require you to believe in it? Why wouldn't a such a god value being skeptical or value one's need for evidence to even start to believe that something exists?
 
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  • #42
Hurkyl
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So according to Hurkyl, not believing and lack of belief are the same?
Well, according to Englush; "to believe in" and "to have a belief in" are synonyms, aren't they? ...
 
  • #43
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Well, according to Englush; "to believe in" and "to have a belief in" are synonyms, aren't they? ...
So say I have never heard of this thing that you believe in. Do I not believe in it or do I simply lack (belief or disbelief) in it?
 
  • #44
Hurkyl
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So say I have never heard of this thing that you believe in. Do I not believe in it or do I simply lack (belief or disbelief) in it?
What does my belief have to do with anything?

Anyways, if you don't know about X (even under a different guise), then obviously you cannot have a belief in X. Just as obviously, you cannot reject X if you don't know what it is.
 
  • #45
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What does my belief have to do with anything?

Anyways, if you don't know about X (even under a different guise), then obviously you cannot have a belief in X. Just as obviously, you cannot reject X if you don't know what it is.
But you can certainly say that you do not have an active belief in X.
 
  • #46
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What does my belief have to do with anything?

Anyways, if you don't know about X (even under a different guise), then obviously you cannot have a belief in X. Just as obviously, you cannot reject X if you don't know what it is.
I only meant to use it as an example. All I'm saying is that there is a neutral area, where you don't deny or belief in, but rather lean in either direction as a result of evidence, or lack there of. It can change though.
 
  • #47
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Seems like we're straying a bit into ontological statements.

I believe that there is an area inbetween 100% denial and 100% belief (and this is not necessarily 50/50. When I deny the existence of, say Pegasus, it's because I have an idea of what someone has in mind when they say it, and I know that something with those properties is not realized in reality based on my current observations. However, as my observations are subject to change as my life progresses, I cannot say, with 100% certainty, that Pegasus does not exist. Just that it is highly likely that such a being does not exist because I have never observed it or anything like it.

Similarly, God (or any being for that matter) cannot be denied absolutely. The only things that can be denied absolutely are things like triangles with four sides, or square circles — things that by definition make no sense and therefore cannot be known. However, as I have never observed anything like God, nor do I really think it is possible, I can say that God probably does not exist from inductive reasoning.
 
  • #48
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But wait, doesn't it require faith to be skeptical about Pegasus as your path to salvation? :biggrin:
 
  • #49
Astronuc
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Why do people think they have to give up a belief in God to believe in science and vice versa?
Garth gave a good example showing the theism and science are not mutually exclusive.

My father, a minister, encouraged me in my interest and pursuits in science. He accepts evolution are being a rather natural way of things, and cannot see any contradiction. Besides, Charles Darwin, a strong proponent of evolution, was a theist.

This is interesting:
At his father's direction, Charles Darwin started university at 16 in Edinburgh, Scotland as a medical student. He showed little academic interest in medicine and was revolted by the brutality of surgery. He dropped out after two years of study in 1827. His father then sent him to Cambridge University to study theology. It was there that his life's direction took a radical change. He became very interested in the scientific ideas of the geologist Adam Sedgwick and especially the naturalist John Henslow with whom he spent considerable time collecting specimens from the countryside around the university. At this time in his life, Darwin apparently rejected the concept of biological evolution, just as his mentors Sedgwick and Henslow did. However, Darwin had been exposed to the ideas of Lamarck about evolution earlier while he was a student in Edinburgh. . . .
http://anthro.palomar.edu/evolve/evolve_2.htm
 
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  • #50
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Science and the notion of God are not mutually exclusive. However, if the only point of your God is to explain natural phenomena, he becomes more and more unnecessary with more and more discoveries.
 

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