Atheism in Respect to a General God: Arrogance?

 
meditation
 
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meditation
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05 August 2009 05:34
 

Atheism is a lack of belief. Agnosticism is a lack of knowledge. Therefore, some people reject the idea that they belong on the same spectrum. They say it’s like comparing apples to oranges. Others reject the very idea of using labels to describe negatives. This may be good points, but let’s assume these labels and the spectrum in a practical sense for the purpose of refuting popular arguments.

Is atheism arrogant, claiming practical certainty similar to a religion? I think not because of 3 problems with the god thesis.

1)  As Sam Harris basically said, it is unfalsifiable and there are an infinite number of wild speculations that can be thought up which can’t be tested:
http://bigthink.com/ideas/re-is-there-a-possibility-of-a-creator

2)  The “the onus is on the theist” adage is encompassed by the statement, “You are never called upon to prove a negative.” Ayn Rand said:

You are never called upon to prove a negative. It is a law of logic.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8GS6vxb4H3M
(It should be noted that she says she concluded god doesn’t exist because of this. I disagree with that but I posted the video because of the “law of logic” part.)

3)  Most importantly, the god thesis can only be self-contradictory or explaining by saying designers have infinitely designed designers (the old infinite regress rebuttal). Posting a designer to answer questions about the universe raises precisely the same questions it attempts to answer. If one is consistent, will they posit yet another designer to explain the same questions it raises?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=34-1W_9BhoU

How seriously should an unfalsifiable, self-contradictory claim with no evidence be taken? Functional atheism, when an atheist admits it’s technically possible, is not arrogant, faith-based, or less logical than something like 50/50 agnosticism. Functional atheists don’t claim to know everything about the origins of the universe, contrary to a popular assumption among deists/theists.

Of course, these points could be conceded, and then people could always play the reductive pantheism word game (by defining “god” all sorts of atypical ways that run contrary to consensus). For this reason, it may help to request someone define god before mentioning these points.

 
 
 
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SkepticX
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05 August 2009 05:53
 

Nicely done!

I’d say that pretty much covers it in a nutshell. “God” is basically an incoherent concept, poorly defined, and incongruous with reality, and all of that is more or less by definition. If a god is defined as supernatural it means we could never know such a being exists, besides the fact that the “supernatural” is an inherently incoherent idea designed to remove the unknown from scrutiny (ex. gods) or to excuse our ignorance (ex. thunder before it was understood). The pseudo-monotheistic gods of the West are dramatically internally inconsistent, and the gods of pantheism and more New Age ideologies are usually just other things renamed “God” to artificially infuse them with some cheap awe and wonder (a dash of neato for those who are too busy or too intellectually lazy to delve into the truly awe inspiring and wondrous that science reveals to us, even as laymen.

 
 
 
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GAD
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05 August 2009 10:00
 
meditation - 05 August 2009 09:34 AM

You are never called upon to prove a negative. It is a law of logic.

You Can Prove a Negative
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-12-05#feature

 
 
meditation
 
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meditation
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05 August 2009 10:48
 
GAD - 05 August 2009 02:00 PM
meditation - 05 August 2009 09:34 AM

You are never called upon to prove a negative. It is a law of logic.

You Can Prove a Negative
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-12-05#feature

Thanks for posting this. Ayn Rand was wrong. Scratch #2.

I think it’s important to consider there honestly will always be some possible variant of the god thesis that cannot be disproved. Disproving the god thesis does fall into the land of negatives one cannot prove anyways. I guess this inevitably leads back to the 1st point of the 3.

 
 
 
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SkepticX
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05 August 2009 11:13
 
meditation - 05 August 2009 02:48 PM
GAD - 05 August 2009 02:00 PM
meditation - 05 August 2009 09:34 AM

You are never called upon to prove a negative. It is a law of logic.


You Can Prove a Negative
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-12-05#feature


Thanks for posting this. Ayn Rand was wrong. Scratch #2.


Not so fast.

You are never called upon to prove a negative” is a burden of proof issue, whereas You cannot prove a negative. is a question of logic. Ayn Rand said you never have the burden of proving a negative, not that it can’t be done.

Byron

 
 
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meditation
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07 August 2009 18:09
 
GAD - 05 August 2009 02:00 PM
meditation - 05 August 2009 09:34 AM

You are never called upon to prove a negative. It is a law of logic.

You Can Prove a Negative
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-12-05#feature

I’m looking at this article again and something seems suspiciously awkward about it.

Not only that, but any claim can be expressed as a negative, thanks to the rule of double negation. This rule states that any proposition P is logically equivalent to not-not-P. So pick anything you think you can prove. Think you can prove your own existence? At least to your own satisfaction? Then, using the exact same reasoning, plus the little step of double negation, you can prove that you are not nonexistent. Congratulations, you’ve just proven a negative. The beautiful part is that you can do this trick with absolutely any proposition whatsoever. Prove P is true and you can prove that P is not false.

Negative negative 5 is still ultimately positive whether it rightly contains the word “negative” in the description or not. If I don’t not have $50, I have $50 and it’s a positive existence even if you can technically label it a “double-negative.” In reality, and double-negative is not conceptually a negative, and atheism is conceptually a negative.

SkepticX, we seem to think a lot alike when it comes to our perspectives on theist word trickery.

 
 
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goodgraydrab
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11 August 2009 19:12
 
meditation - 07 August 2009 10:09 PM

In reality, and double-negative is not conceptually a negative, and atheism is conceptually a negative.

I briefly addressed this on your other OP. Atheism can just as well be conceptually a positive. I think it depends on your reference point and acknowledgement of the concept of false-positives.

1) The universe is of natural origin. (positive)

2) The universe is so complex, I believe there must have been an intelligent designer. (false-positive).

3) I am without your belief in a designer.(negative + false positive = positive).

5) Atheism is negative. (false).

How seriously should an unfalsifiable, self-contradictory claim with no evidence be taken? Functional atheism, when an atheist admits it’s technically possible, is not arrogant, faith-based, or less logical than something like 50/50 agnosticism. Functional atheists don’t claim to know everything about the origins of the universe, contrary to a popular assumption among deists/theists.

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically possible. No one human being on earth can claim they know everything about the origins of the universe, at this time. That gives no support or validity to the possibility/probability of a “Creator”. We know more than we did. The more we find out, we are directed further away from the creationist view, and closer to the naturalist view. My point is, what more does one need? To my thinking, “We don’t know, but it could be God” is no different than, “It’s so complex, it must be God.”

 
 
meditation
 
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meditation
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12 August 2009 07:27
 

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically possible.

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically impossible.

I’m curious to see if there anything you can say to that without resorting to the same negative/positive point that I make.

Thanks for the replies. They’re good stuff.

 
 
 
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SkepticX
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12 August 2009 07:45
 
meditation - 12 August 2009 11:27 AM

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically possible.

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically impossible.


Do you think it’s reasonable to believe that which the evidence doesn’t suggest is impossible, technically or otherwise?

Byron

 
 
goodgraydrab
 
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goodgraydrab
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12 August 2009 12:18
 
SkepticX - 12 August 2009 11:45 AM
meditation - 12 August 2009 11:27 AM

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically possible.

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically impossible.


Do you think it’s reasonable to believe that which the evidence doesn’t suggest is impossible, technically or otherwise?

Byron

Thanks Byron. I will only add that there’s a discussion on another thread about consciousness. I suppose your imagination can dream up all sorts of possibilities for consciousness to exist sans the construct of the human brain, but that’s my ace in the hole.

 
 
 
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T Paine
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15 March 2010 00:12
 

The guy who responded with Rand’s point being about a burden-of-proof issue was spot on. Even the two examples of Shermer and Dawkins that the guy mentioned in the article were about not being 0 certain of anything rather than the absence of negatives in philosophical laws. Everything in the article seems logically sound to me (though I only read it once) but it doesn’t contradict anything that Shermer or Dawkins were claiming.

 
 
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15 October 2010 15:20
 
GAD - 05 August 2009 02:00 PM
meditation - 05 August 2009 09:34 AM

You are never called upon to prove a negative. It is a law of logic.

You Can Prove a Negative
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-12-05#feature[/quot]

Great point ! For example if something is man made like Zeus doesnt that mean that hes power less for example god is descriped as all knowing all seing his powers are maixmized by the writrers of the bible and yet hes powerless in this world! My point is if humans make something up does it make it possible ? is their even a slight chance, I know gods are man made but its the idea thats bugs me! Are our ideas that powerfull our are beliefs that powerfull enough to rewrite the fabric of reality if so than WTf! if not than im glad hes made up.

 
 
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meditation
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21 October 2010 04:40
 
SkepticX - 12 August 2009 11:45 AM
meditation - 12 August 2009 11:27 AM

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically possible.

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically impossible.


Do you think it’s reasonable to believe that which the evidence doesn’t suggest is impossible, technically or otherwise?

Byron

Well, evidence does not absolutely prove flying, blue pigs that can live on both Earth and Mars are technically impossible. So, that is one case where I would answer “no” to your question.

 
 
 
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SkepticX
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21 October 2010 05:52
 
meditation - 21 October 2010 08:40 AM
SkepticX - 12 August 2009 11:45 AM
meditation - 12 August 2009 11:27 AM

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically possible.

There is no scientific evidence, or other observed condition, that suggests a “creator” is technically impossible.


Do you think it’s reasonable to believe that which the evidence doesn’t suggest is impossible, technically or otherwise?

Well, evidence does not absolutely prove flying, blue pigs that can live on both Earth and Mars are technically impossible. So, that is one case where I would answer “no” to your question.

Stay with that thought, and continue ...

 
 
 
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meditation
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21 October 2010 15:23
 

Looking back on this thread, I realize that the Skeptic post in insufficient to discredit the idea about negatives:
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-12-05/#feature

Check this part out.

You can easily construct a valid deductive argument with all true premises that yields the conclusion that there are no unicorns. Here’s one, using the valid inference procedure of modus tollens (Latin for “mode that affirms by denying”):

  1. If unicorns had existed, then there is evidence in the fossil record.
  2. There is no evidence of unicorns in the fossil record.
  3. Therefore, unicorns never existed.

Someone might object that that was a bit too fast — after all, I didn’t prove that the two premises were true. I just asserted that they were true. Well, that’s right. However, it would be a grievous mistake to insist that someone prove all the premises of any argument they might give. Here’s why. The only way to prove, say, that there is no evidence of unicorns in the fossil record, is by giving an argument to that conclusion. Of course one would then have to prove the premises of that argument by giving further arguments, and then prove the premises of those further arguments, ad infinitum.

What an evasion! So should I not object to his argument by appointing a problem with one of the premises, because it could go on forever? Oh my. Can you imagine if I told a prosecutor he should not require me to support the premises of my argument, because it could go on forever? This Skeptic guy has not disproved the existence of unicorns in his analogy. He has ignored the practical reality that we have not searched every portion of the Earth’s crust where a fossil could exist. There is technically a possibility that a unicorn existed and didn’t get fossilized. The unicorn could be from another part of the universe. These points I make about the unicorn are the same type of points people use to justify that we don’t know if God exists. I can’t believe this guy is a philosophy professor. Then again, there are Christian scientists and plenty of evangelicals that made their way into teaching academic philosophy. I guess I’m not too surprised.