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Author Topic: Elliquian Atheists  (Read 35527 times)

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Offline Samnell

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #75 on: May 20, 2012, 06:33:25 PM »
At any rate, thank you for expressing yourself at some length and going into more detail about your views; I found it helpful and insightful.

Ok, but just one more thing to clarify:

There are people who consider belief in any religion to be proof of such ignorance that it basically amounts to a fundamental character flaw.  I can't quite tell if you feel that way or not; I hope not.

It depends on the religion, the particular type of that religion, and so forth. I would class some as serious character flaws ("Oh how awesome it will be to watch from Heaven as the unsaved burn in agony!" and "Genocide is a-ok if my god tells me to do it!"), others as bad but correctable values, and others are cultural stuff people just don't give enough thought to to realize the issues with it. I think the second and third are somewhat inherent in religion itself, but the first isn't necessarily. Only the third is something I'm comfortable calling ignorance.
« Last Edit: May 20, 2012, 06:39:01 PM by Samnell »

Offline Samnell

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #76 on: May 20, 2012, 06:48:06 PM »
If that's true, and since this is a thread about atheism, I'd be curious to know which particular philosophical or religious argument(s) you (or anyone else here) find most persuasive or compelling, even if you ultimately reject them.  If you'd care to mention your reasons for liking or for rejecting the argument, that would be gravy.

Good question.

I can't say I've ever found any of them very good, but of the lot the argument from design at least makes a go of actually being an argument instead of a weird linguistic trick to hide a bare assertion (Ontological arguments) or self-refuting unless one resorts to special pleading (first cause, prime mover, etc). Like first cause or prime mover, design attempts to be empirical and has consequences we could predict and test in the real world. That's not an accident, since it was intended as a science argument. But the universe doesn't work out that way. We observe instead lifeforms that no sane or competent designer with even basic human capabilities, let alone an omnipotent, omniscient creator of the universe, would have made that way. They don't just waste parts or end up really weird; many are actually major health hazards. The birth canal built for four-legged creatures has probably killed more human women than all of history's genocides put together is a great example of the latter. That's like designing a bridge to collapse when a person walks over it.

Offline vtboy

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #77 on: May 21, 2012, 05:36:48 PM »
I don't think that claim even makes sense and I don't think its representative of what a majority of believers actually believe.
I can't comment on your experiences with believers, but I've yet to meet one who has claimed to perceive the spiritual through mortal sense. The rare few among them these days who think they've seen, heard, smelled, tasted or touched god are likely to be disabused of the notion with psychotropic medication.

Quote
 
If phenomena is not a part of the real world how can it be said to exist? Being a part of reality is what existence means, just as correspondence to reality is what truth means. (If you're going to contest that one, I have a famous landmark for you to buy.)  Furthermore even if that statement did make sense, our having knowledge of such a thing would be an impossibility. We couldn't observe it, since that requires materiality. We can't see it indirectly by how it interacts with things that we can observe, because that too requires materiality.

Once again, I think there is mischief in your equation of "reality" with the material world. Though yours is the definition of reality I live by, religion posits one which transcends the temporal and the material. If we are debating whether the religious actually believe their professions about the transcendant, which is what I understood to be the subject of your previous post, there is little profit in pointing out that their beliefs are not empirically compelling, since their notions of existence and reality are not confined by materiality. In other words, they are willing to believe without sensory proof.

Quote
But just to take the big, obvious example, Christians do not generally believe in a deity that's absolutely unknowable. Rather they believe in one that they know personally, that listens when they speak, that cares about them, that resurrects the dead, and all kinds of obvious things just as material as living on top of Mount Olympus would be.

Yes, Christians (and members of at least some other faiths) believe in a knowable deity, but not in one knowable through their five senses. The devout Christians I've known not only believe without empirical evidence, but will tell you that belief without sensible proof is the only kind that counts (Rick957 can articulate this much better than I). And, though I'm sure there are many who talk to god, I've yet to meet any who claims to have heard god speak back.

To be clear, many of the faithful do, of course, attribute sensible events -- such as earthquakes, the birth of children, and other calamities -- to the will of god, but I've known none to claim the mechanism by which god brings his will to bear on temporal agents to be perceptible.

But, what has any of this to do with the genuineness of their beliefs?     

Quote
I'm not suggesting that. What I am saying is that when believers say they believe one thing but act in every way as if they know for a fact that experience will not confirm their beliefs, they are acknowledging that they do not actually believe it. Rather they believe it's something they ought to believe or it is good to believe for some reason unrelated to its truth status. Pointing out that someone's conduct does not match their words is perfectly ordinary and uncontroversial in any other subject of human interest, secular ideologies included. It must also be so when it comes to religion.

I don't know what a true believer is in regards to religion unless it's a person who actually thinks the religion is true. The less one actually believes that, the less religious one is. I don't think there's anything wrong with pointing that out just as we'd point out that a vegan chowing down on a bacon cheeseburger isn't a very good vegan. (Using "very good" in a value-neutral sense here.)

Well, sure, religion has its share of hypocrites and charlatans (actually, probably much more than its share). I don't dispute they don't believe what they profess. But, I don't see how expending effort to navigate the temporal world casts doubt on the genuineness of one's belief in an eternal one.

Consider for a moment the genetics researcher who attends Sunday mass. I gather you think his choice of profession must impeach the genuineness of his belief that his Sunday wine and crackers are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. But, then, why isn't the converse equally true -- that by taking the sacrament our scientist casts doubt on the sincerity of his belief in what he learns in the lab? Or, can both beliefs exist side by side without making the man mendacious, delusional, or stupid?

Quote
I'm sure we both know how people compartmentalize, so I don't see the relevance of LeMaitre to the subject at hand.

Yes. Compartmentalization. Precisely my point. Taking penicillin to cure the clap is not a repudiation of belief in the power of prayer. And, the genuineness of one's belief in an afterlife is not called into question by the practice of crossing streets only when the light is green.

Quote
I don't think any orthodoxy deserves a preferred position. All religions are equally false so far as I can tell. Their internal disputes don't much interest me, except in a historical sense. I observe and develop positions about their beliefs and practice the same way I would those of anybody in any field. I do not because of these judgments condemn them, want them punished, given house arrest, tours of the torture chambers, or anything of the sort.

What am I saying, in the face of varying degrees of religiosity? Some people have great big balls of stuff that falls under a magic religion category where what is good epistemic practice in every other field is suddenly inadmissible. Call them dogmas, sacred magisterium, epileptic rabbits skiing on rainbows, whatever you like. Others have comparatively smaller balls of such stuff. Whatever the size of this ball of stuff, they are all alike in the tacit admission that the stuff inside the ball isn't really true. If it was, why hide it away from the same tools we use in every other judgment? The same tools that have given us every human advance, every improvement in our lives, since the origin of the species? If their beliefs are really true, they can have no objection to their being scrutinized, tested, and so forth.

But they do have that objection because they know how the tests are going to work out. So they invent excuses, often blatantly contradictory or incoherent ones like something existing but not being part of reality or being perfectly impossible to observe but still known.

I don't think this makes them crazy. I don't think it makes them bad people. I don't think it even necessarily makes them dangerous. We are all irrational sometimes. We are all very good at fooling ourselves. That's not a trait of religious people, but a trait of human brains. Knowing that, we ought to be vigilant against signs that we are fooling ourselves and ready on the spot with ways we could be wrong, and the rest of the machinery of human rationality.

Once again, I think we're scrambling the questions of whether believers are true in their beliefs with whether their beliefs are true.

How is having a "ball of stuff" a tacit admission that its contents are false? And, who exactly is "they"? Certainly there are plenty among the faithful who will tell you to keep your nose out of god's cookbook (among them, the troglodytes who insist on excluding Darwin from biology classes). And, I'm sure you are correct that this prohibition is born of the fear of what rational scrutiny will reveal. But, do you really think it is impossible for the religious to make peace with science and yet not suffer the cognitive dissonance you insist they must? To the extent you are certain the dissonance and insincerity are there but concealed, are you not positing an unobservable reality?
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 05:44:10 PM by vtboy »

Offline Samnell

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #78 on: May 21, 2012, 07:34:21 PM »
Once again, I think there is mischief in your equation of "reality" with the material world. Though yours is the definition of reality I live by, religion posits one which transcends the temporal and the material. If we are debating whether the religious actually believe their professions about the transcendant, which is what I understood to be the subject of your previous post, there is little profit in pointing out that their beliefs are not empirically compelling, since their notions of existence and reality are not confined by materiality. In other words, they are willing to believe without sensory proof.

I don't think that the concept of transcending the temporal and material actually means anything, so I'm afraid you're not going to get very far there. The most I can wring out of the words is that they describe things that do not exist, period.

But this is just the excuse-making behavior that I'm talking about. There's no mischief in my definition of reality. It's what everyone means by the word. If I tell you I've got a bundle of grapes and you don't believe me, we can resolve the matter easily enough. Religious stories are full of disputes about the divine being solved on just those grounds, right down to Jesus letting guys poke their fingers through the holes in his hands.

Yes, Christians (and members of at least some other faiths) believe in a knowable deity, but not in one knowable through their five senses. The devout Christians I've known not only believe without empirical evidence, but will tell you that belief without sensible proof is the only kind that counts (Rick957 can articulate this much better than I). And, though I'm sure there are many who talk to god, I've yet to meet any who claims to have heard god speak back.

I'm aware that religions all ultimately embrace fanaticism, but only because they don't have anything else to run on. The mania the religious will get themselves into over some kind of visible sign of the divine (burn patterns on toast, whatever) demonstrates that they're quite happy to actually have empirical evidence. So happy they'll fake it. But once more even their own stories don't bear this out. No one had to have faith in Zeus or Yahweh in their own stories. They gave you empirical evidence all the time. The invocation of faith is just another excuse used to hide belief in belief.
To be clear, many of the faithful do, of course, attribute sensible events -- such as earthquakes, the birth of children, and other calamities -- to the will of god, but I've known none to claim the mechanism by which god brings his will to bear on temporal agents to be perceptible.

Then they aren't actually making any claim worth talking about. But I suspect if you told them they were making a bunch of senseless noise they wouldn't be happy to hear it, let alone swift to agree.

But, what has any of this to do with the genuineness of their beliefs?     

If you really believe something is so, you have a vested interest in not hiding it from scrutiny but in exposing it to that scrutiny. You would not make any excuses about how the dragon is invisible and so we can't see it and permeable to flour so we can't hurl it into the air see it settle on the dragon's scales. There's no reason you'd make those excuses except that you already know there's no dragon there.

Consider for a moment the genetics researcher who attends Sunday mass. I gather you think his choice of profession must impeach the genuineness of his belief that his Sunday wine and crackers are transformed into the body and blood of Christ. But, then, why isn't the converse equally true -- that by taking the sacrament our scientist casts doubt on the sincerity of his belief in what he learns in the lab? Or, can both beliefs exist side by side without making the man mendacious, delusional, or stupid?

I consider compartmentalization inherently at least one of the three, depending on the circumstance.

How is having a "ball of stuff" a tacit admission that its contents are false?

You've misread me here. Having a ball of stuff that you exclude from the standards you'd expect to meet in all the rest of reality is a tacit admission that its contents are false. If they were all the same truth status in your mind, you'd have no conceivable reason to want anything but identical standards for everything.

Certainly there are plenty among the faithful who will tell you to keep your nose out of god's cookbook (among them, the troglodytes who insist on excluding Darwin from biology classes). And, I'm sure you are correct that this prohibition is born of the fear of what rational scrutiny will reveal. But, do you really think it is impossible for the religious to make peace with science and yet not suffer the cognitive dissonance you insist they must? To the extent you are certain the dissonance and insincerity are there but concealed, are you not positing an unobservable reality?

If by "plenty" you mean all the faithful, or near enough that it makes no real difference, I'll agree that they're eager to tell us to keep our noses out of their gods' cookbooks. I see no difference of substance between a creationist and someone who believes in an immortal soul but not creationism. The same problem exists in both behaviors, only to differing degrees.

But do I think it's impossible for the religious to make peace with science and not suffer cognitive dissonance? Yes, actually. (Barring situations where they are just ignorant and give the subject no thought.) We see evidence of it all the time. Specifically in things like an emphasis on faith, a declaration that religions are beyond rational scrutiny, that their subjects transcend or exist outside time and space, that they exist yet are somehow made of nothing... I can keep going. I'm sure you can guess much of the list. The very fact that we're talking about religion as a distinct thing instead of just a bunch of discredited and/or unsubstantiated scientific theories is evidence of the point.

I cannot peer into their minds and tell you the exact details of all their consciousnesses, but they behave in every way indistinguishable from a person selling you medicine he knows does not work, or worse still doesn't even care if it works or not.

If it's helpful, these essays explain where I'm coming from pretty well on this:
http://lesswrong.com/lw/i3/making_beliefs_pay_rent_in_anticipated_experiences/
http://lesswrong.com/lw/i4/belief_in_belief/
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 07:42:20 PM by Samnell »

Offline rick957

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #79 on: May 21, 2012, 08:37:28 PM »
Quote
Yes, Christians (and members of at least some other faiths) believe in a knowable deity, but not in one knowable through their five senses. The devout Christians I've known not only believe without empirical evidence, but will tell you that belief without sensible proof is the only kind that counts (Rick957 can articulate this much better than I). And, though I'm sure there are many who talk to god, I've yet to meet any who claims to have heard god speak back.

Was that a compliment of sorts?  I'm taking it that way, regardless.  ;)

Actually this is a bit of a side point, and I don't mean to distract from other things being debated or discussed.  I just thought I would point out that in my experience, at least, most Christians attempt to reconcile their sense of logic and their understanding of science with their beliefs, and many point to all sorts of evidence in an attempt to demonstrate (especially to non-Christians) that their beliefs are more reasonable than any alternatives.  The discipline of Christian "apologetics" is largely concerned with that effort, as many here probably know.

The way in which I personally understand and describe Christianity diverges sharply from most or all formulations I've heard from other Christians ... My views may in fact be considered heretical, I'm not sure.  On the rare occasions when I talk about my views, I always hope that someone else will present a more conventional description of Christianity, for contrast, but that hope doesn't get realized much around here ... maybe 'cause there aren't too many Christians who frequent these threads ... or perhaps because other Christians think my views are too strange or too full of shit to bother with.  Heh.  Oh well.

EDIT

@ Samnell --

Quote
I cannot peer into their minds and tell you the exact details of all their consciousnesses, but they behave in every way indistinguishable from a person selling you medicine he knows does not work, or worse still doesn't even care if it works or not.

Is this your impression of me, based on the things I've said about my religion?  I'd be curious to know.  Also, I am quite stubborn about not hiding my beliefs from any sort of scrutiny, scientific or otherwise, and I'm happy to go into detail about that, but doing so here in this thread is probably not appropriate, I imagine.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2012, 08:49:52 PM by rick957 »

Offline Samnell

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #80 on: May 21, 2012, 09:43:43 PM »
@ Samnell --

Is this your impression of me, based on the things I've said about my religion?  I'd be curious to know.  Also, I am quite stubborn about not hiding my beliefs from any sort of scrutiny, scientific or otherwise, and I'm happy to go into detail about that, but doing so here in this thread is probably not appropriate, I imagine.

Based on what you said in this very thread:

I believe that both feelings and rational evidence -- proof -- point any sensible person away from Christianity, not towards it.  I also believe Christianity is true, in spite of those things.

I have to say yes. You say you believe Christianity is true regardless of admitting that rationality and sensibility drive people away from it. To return to the guy selling medicine metaphor, so far as I am able to tell this is the statement of a man who doesn't care if the medicine works or not. It's not a perfect metaphor since to my knowledge you're not trying to promote Christianity, but I trust you get the gist of it.

That doesn't mean that I think you're a terrible human being that goes out and kills people or something like that, but at the very least the statement expresses a rather extreme disregard for the value of truth. That's pretty scary in the best of times because if you don't care if your beliefs are true or not (assuming you're not just believing in belief for the moment) then how could you ever be persuaded you're mistaken?

From my perspective, this is Russian roulette. We can only hope that tomorrow for some random reason (say a religious experience) you don't decide that you've got to go out and start committing horrific atrocities. If you genuinely believe that killing people below the age of accountability will send them straight to everlasting bliss and eliminate all risk of eternal torment, how can we stop you if we can't convince you otherwise? The options left available to us in those circumstances are generally pretty violent, so I hope you can understand my aversion to leaving it all to those and hoping for the best.

Offline rick957

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #81 on: May 22, 2012, 01:13:02 AM »
Okay then.  I just want to point out that I haven't explained here what it is that I actually believe or the reasons for those beliefs.  For the purposes of this discussion, I think the word Christianity covered it well enough.  Anyone wanting to talk further about that or any related subject is invited to contact me privately, so that our discussion wouldn't derail this thread.

Offline Braioch

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #82 on: May 25, 2012, 11:38:12 PM »
-Strolls in-

Ohhh, it's like Atheists Anonymous, sweet digs Sabs.

-laughs-

Which leads me to want to pretend like I'm standing up and go 'hiiii, my name is Braioch and I'm an Atheist.'

Ahh, but seriously with that out of the way and it seems that the ermmm...debate, is out of the way, I'll go with what Sabs asked for in his first post.

-nods-

Anyways, yes, I'm an atheist and on the scale presented I believe by Dawkins (source?) I'm at a comfortable 6. Which the little quip that's thrown up after that pretty much sums up my viewpoint, "I do not know if god (s) exist or not, but I live my life as if he/they do not exist.'

As for the effect on my life?

Simple really, I was never raised in a very religious or even spiritual manner, much to my poor grandmother's chagrin later in life. My mother is agnostic for all intents and purposes, the rest of my family is some form of Christian. (Lutheran, Methodist, or something like that...) Hell I didn't even know they had actual faith until I was around 14 or so, which was surprising to me. I'd gone through only a couple of religions, having given Christianity a try for a couple of months and then Wicca for about three years. Out of those two, I look more favorably upon Wicca for different reasons.

After that I spent my life as I had before that, comfortably at about a 4 or 5 depending on the point and time in my life. Though I did also swing into deism as well, as looking around the world and its lack of miracles kinda pointed to an absent god to me.

Anyways my slide into what is referred to as the 'De Facto Atheist' actually came about (ironically to some) around the time I spent time in the hospital and had nearly died. Eschewing the full details, it was just kidney and liver failure that nearly ended me. It left me time to lay around and recover and think, and over a few weeks I realized that while I always considered myself agnostic, my mind always veered closer to the atheistic side of things.

This made me evaluate my life as I have had to do for different reasons and in different ways throughout my life. I realized that I didn't really trust those 'feelings' and the 'faith' that I tried to hold too and so many people find comfort in. They found comfort and I found discontent, it was logic and science that had really always been the guiding light. I realized that no, nothing in prayer or deed had ever given proof of something of a god or something akin to it. There was no proof of god, angels, the devil and demons, afterlife, ghosts and what not.

I remember years ago saying that it was terrifying to think that there was no afterlife, and at the time months back that I reviewed that statement it felt...almost arrogant. Arrogant to me because it was like saying, "I'm too damn important to just die, no no no, that won't do at all. I must continue on." That and reason stood to say otherwise to me and I realized that I wasn't scared anymore. I spent years, even as an agnostic, questioning if what I was doing was going to give me peace after I died, questioning and wondering over such silly and inane things.

I kinda felt and still do, that I was wasting my life away from something that felt so inane and silly to me.

So Atheism for me is liberating, it let me shake off the things I spent my time diving into that only caused me to fret and worry, burn away my time and energy on things that sent me in a never ending circle. It's appreciating this life completely because of the knowledge that it is the only one I have.

It's peace, it's hope and it's freedom.

...and that's my rant for the night folks!

-Flips on a top hat, hops on a Harley and speeds off, cigar jutting from mouth-

Offline SabbyTopic starter

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #83 on: May 25, 2012, 11:54:49 PM »
^ This. So hard.

Offline Braioch

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #84 on: May 25, 2012, 11:57:25 PM »
So hard huh?

I've had that effect on people before ^-^

Offline Niferbelle

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #85 on: May 26, 2012, 12:41:48 AM »
I just saw this thread and immediately wanted to dip my toe in as where I live it's pretty religious and there aren't many places I can chill and be out except with friends. I am an atheist, probably because I was very lucky to have had a crappy Sunday school teacher who botched my indoctrination. I would send her a thank you card if I remembered her name. Anyway, my doubt started fairly young, I was seven or eight I guess, and right from Genesis. The whole Adam and Eve thing. I didn't get it and there were no adults who were capable enough apologists to get the wool back over my eyes. Why was it bad to know the difference between good and evil? Why wouldn't god want that for us? Why did Eve get in trouble for eating the apple when she didn't know the difference between good and evil yet so she could't know disobeying god was so wrong?  Plus, I was a little female person and even that young, something about the whole ruination of mankind being blamed on women was kind of disturbing. That's where it started...bigger, smarter questions started piling up and by my late teens the cognitive dissonance was too much and I had to stop and look around and say enough.

How has it affected me is a broader question. There are some negatives, the sense of isolation sometimes, but the positive is far greater. I know to appreciate the people in my life, every day, now, because I don't think there's some mystical ever after. I know it's on me, to be ethical for the sake of being ethical and not because it's going to get me a golden ticket and I know if I screw up and do wrong, nobody's going to write me a blank check, I have to live with it. Because I'm an atheist, I find wonder in things that many religious people dismiss, I know it's on me to find meaning in my own life because believe or not, even without a god, life is not meaningless but you can't rely on something else to give it to you. And because I'm atheist, I make up my own mind on things and do not let someone or something else tell me what to think -- and I believe as a result I am more accepting and tolerant as a person and have a clearer version of reality.

If evidence of god was presented to me, yes, I would reconsider, I would have to. But I would also have to reconsider the existence of leprechauns if presented evidence and I'm not going to live as if they exist either.

Offline gzhukov

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #86 on: May 26, 2012, 01:22:02 PM »
I thought I would just pop in an say hi! I am an atheist too (6 on Dawkins scale too). I do not know if I would class myself militant atheist or not, I suppose I kind of am. You see I grew up in Ireland and although it might not be bad as other countries on terms of die-hard religious belief, we have had our fair share of "controversies" when it comes to the catholic church.

Also I consider myself an activist when it comes to gay rights, pro-choice, feminism and all that malarchy but I am going to stop talking now before I alienate myself before I even get approved ^_^

Offline Niferbelle

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #87 on: May 26, 2012, 02:24:45 PM »
You won't alienate yourself here, gzhukov. Welcome!

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #88 on: June 03, 2012, 12:42:47 PM »
I just want to point out that, as everyone knows, just because a view seems more likely or more appealing does not necessarily make it a correct view.

Absolutely.  Just because a view seems less likely or less appealing does not necessarily make it a correct view either, which seems your entire argument.

So where is your proof of the Christian god?  I would be happy to weigh it against what I consider a mountain of circumstantial evidence and see how it stacks up.

I also think it is important to point out that 'likely' and 'appealing' are not the same thing.  Believing there is an all powerful, all loving father figure in the sky who has my back is certainly more appealing than believing we are all alone.  I think that was the last thing I did not want to let go of when I stopped believing.  But I did let go of it for exactly the reason you state.

Offline rick957

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #89 on: June 03, 2012, 03:45:07 PM »
Quote
Absolutely.  Just because a view seems less likely or less appealing does not necessarily make it a correct view either, which seems your entire argument.

Actually that's not an argument I would make, and I didn't mean to give that impression; I was making a few small points that I considered important, without trying to present an entire argument for Christianity.  Doing that would take a little time and would seem a topic too far afield to belong in this thread, I would guess.  But since you raised these points, I'll go ahead and give you the beginning part of the argument that I personally find credible, because it also answers this question:

Quote
So where is your proof of the Christian god?  I would be happy to weigh it against what I consider a mountain of circumstantial evidence and see how it stacks up.

click for the beginning part of an argument for Christianity
I think that if one studies the widely-available scientific proof closely enough, and if one develops one's critical thinking skills well enough, anyone must conclude that the Christian god does not exist, as many in this thread appear to have done.  There is no conclusive proof of any god's existence, and as you mentioned, there are more than enough strong reasons to doubt the existence of a god.  (The fact that science also lacks conclusive proof that god does not exist is still not a good reason to think that one does.)

So, one has a mountain of solid intellectual reasons to reject Christianity's claims.  I would add to that a mountain of important emotional reasons to reject those claims; chiefly, how does one look honestly at all the unfair suffering in the world, or even in one's own life, and reconcile all that suffering with the existence of an all-powerful and just god?  Other people try to do so in various ways, but I find those ways not only unpersuasive but personally offensive, angering.

My point is that if one accepts the view (as I do) that the human animal is born with two broad sets of faculties -- the intellectual and the emotional (each of which go by a variety of synonymous names) -- then one comes to see that both those sets of in-born faculties point away, not toward the existence of the Christian god; they point away and not toward the truth of Christianity.

It turns out that Christianity includes an explanation for why all the faculties that humans are born with point them away from the truth of its claims.  That explanation is somewhat logical ... but remember, ultimately, it cannot be strictly logical; because again, human logic points in the opposite direction.  The explanation is also somewhat emotionally appealing, at least for some people, but again, not in every way, because our emotions ultimately point us in the opposite direction.

What one is left with in Christianity is a set of claims about reality that any reasonable person must view as ultimately anti-intellectual, unscientific, illogical, emotionally unsatisfying, and even personally offensive, at the end of the day.  (Two major examples of that offensiveness:  claiming that all other religions are false; claiming that the horrors of the worst human suffering can somehow be reconciled with the existence of an all-powerful, just God.)

I think Christianity itself makes it clear that to believe in it is something that each person must simply choose to do, not something that any person should be or can be convinced to do (intellectually) or compelled to do (emotionally).  Some people make the choice while claiming to have intellectual or emotional reasons for doing so ... but both science and Christianity ultimately make a mockery of any such supposed reasons. 

The choice remains for each person to make:  believe Christianity or not?  (As I stated before -- I believe, and I do so without closing my eyes to all the scientific information I've learned, and without ignoring the ongoing and very real emotional difficulties involved.)

There's the beginning of the argument.  There's not a whole lot more, but there's some, and I'm eager and happy to present it to anyone, but it's best done privately, if only because this thread is not the best place for such a presentation, and because I've already gone on too long about this topic for many people's tastes, I'm sure.  (Sorry peoples!  I'm stopping now!)

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I also think it is important to point out that 'likely' and 'appealing' are not the same thing.  Believing there is an all powerful, all loving father figure in the sky who has my back is certainly more appealing than believing we are all alone.  I think that was the last thing I did not want to let go of when I stopped believing.  But I did let go of it for exactly the reason you state.

I brought up the dual distinction of "likelihood" and "appeal" to correspond roughly to those two major categories of human faculties that point everyone away from the truth of Christianity:  likeliness corresponds with reason, rationality, the scientific, logical, intellectual faculties; while appeal corresponds to the emotional faculties, something more personal and heart-felt.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 04:07:42 PM by rick957 »

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #90 on: June 03, 2012, 04:38:08 PM »
My point is that if one accepts the view (as I do) that the human animal is born with two broad sets of faculties -- the intellectual and the emotional (each of which go by a variety of synonymous names) -- then one comes to see that both those sets of in-born faculties point away, not toward the existence of the Christian god; they point away and not toward the truth of Christianity.

I disagree.  We would need to further define 'intellectual' and 'emotional' to demonstrate a difference between the two.  However, the way I take you to mean, I would argue that the 'emotional' faculties are what over-ride the 'intellectual' and point people toward Christianity.

It turns out that Christianity includes an explanation...

Of course it does.  One that is as old as man.  One that every snake oil salesman and con artist and even children with imaginary friends use to great effect.

"Are you going to believe me or your own eyes?"  It is an appeal to emotion.  And that is why I argue that emotional faculties do not point away from Christianity, but towards it.  Priests are not accountants.  They do not simply point out facts.  They are charismatic.  They make you feel something very visceral and that is what takes over your mind and makes you reject 'evidence'.  You feel it so you know it to be true.

What one is left with in Christianity is a set of claims about reality that any reasonable person must view as ultimately anti-intellectual, unscientific, illogical, emotionally unsatisfying, and even personally offensive, at the end of the day.  (Two major examples of that offensiveness:  claiming that all other religions are false; claiming that the horrors of the worst human suffering can somehow be reconciled with the existence of an all-powerful, just God.)

Christianity claims other religions are false because it is bad for business, not because it is offensive and therefore somehow, according to your logic, proves it is true.  Religion is all too often a power grab.  You don't want to share that power with others so you make the claim that your particular god is the right god.

I think Christianity itself makes it clear that to believe in it is something that each person must simply choose to do, not something that any person should be or can be convinced to do (intellectually) or compelled to do (emotionally).

And you still have not provided any sort of evidence beyond 'Believe it because it is so unbelievable'.  By that line of thinking I should believe in Unicorns as well.  I can easily take up the flag that no one can definitively prove that Unicorns do not exists and we are right back to the same circular arguments I see time and again for religion.

The choice remains for each person to make:  believe Christianity or not?  (As I stated before -- I believe, and I do so without closing my eyes to all the scientific information I've learned, and without ignoring the ongoing and very real emotional difficulties involved.)

So why do you choose Christianity and not Unicorns?  You have presented nothing that would distinguish the two.

There's the beginning of the argument.  There's not a whole lot more, but there's some, and I'm eager and happy to present it to anyone, but it's best done privately, if only because this thread is not the best place for such a presentation, and because I've already gone on too long about this topic for many people's tastes, I'm sure.  (Sorry peoples!  I'm stopping now!)

rick, you have not put forth anything new.  Your argument is exactly the same.  'Believe because it is so unbelievable'.  And, once again, I ask you to show me the difference between picking your religion over the thousands of others that could make the same argument.  An argument you, yourself, have said is weak.

It is my belief that you believe in Christianity because somewhere along the way, it made a strong emotional imprint upon you.  Further, I believe, that if any other given religion, including say, Pastafarianism, had made that strong emotional imprint, you would be making the same exact argument just swapping the name of your particular belief.  And that is what makes me so suspicious of all religions.  I also think this is what many people see as dangerous.

If someone claims they are the re-incarnation of Napoleon, we lock them away in an institute and medicate them.  Can we  prove they are not the re-incarnation of Napoleon?  Of course not.  But for some reason, this same sort of skepticism is not allowed to be directed at religion.

I brought up the dual distinction of "likelihood" and "appeal" to correspond roughly to those two major categories of human faculties that point everyone away from the truth of Christianity:  likeliness corresponds with reason, rationality, the scientific, logical, intellectual faculties; while appeal corresponds to the emotional faculties, something more personal and heart-felt.

I think you grossly underestimate the power of emotion.  Humans are not as rational as we would like to think we are.

Offline rick957

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #91 on: June 03, 2012, 06:26:00 PM »
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I disagree.  We would need to further define 'intellectual' and 'emotional' to demonstrate a difference between the two. 

I find the distinction (dividing human faculties into two categories) useful in terms of understanding myself and explaining my beliefs, but that particular distinction isn't so important to me that I'm motivated to present an argument in support of it.  I hope my intended meaning comes across even if one questions that detail of the presentation.

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However, the way I take you to mean, I would argue that the 'emotional' faculties are what over-ride the 'intellectual' and point people toward Christianity.

I agree that emotional appeals are at the basis of most Christian proselytizing or "evangelism" throughout history.  Personally I find there are much stronger emotional reasons to reject rather than believe Christianity, especially if one is at all well-educated.

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"Are you going to believe me or your own eyes?  It is an appeal to emotion.  And that is why I argue that emotional faculties do not point away from Christianity, but towards it.  "

I think that using your own eyes is another way of saying that you're using your senses or faculties (biological, emotional, intellectual, or what-have-you).  Telling any reasonable and well-educated person to do that would lead that person to reject Christianity, in my view.

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Priests are not accountants.  They do not simply point out facts.  They are charismatic.  They make you feel something very visceral and that is what takes over your mind and makes you reject 'evidence'.  You feel it so you know it to be true.

I try to avoid doing these things myself when talking about Christianity because I find such tactics as potentially deceptive and manipulative as you do, I think.

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Christianity claims other religions are false because it is bad for business, not because it is offensive and therefore somehow, according to your logic, proves it is true. 

I didn't say or mean to say that offensiveness proves that Christianity is true, but I did mention a certain sort of offensiveness as being in support of Christianity's truth, as I understand it.  Do you see the important difference there?  I assume you know that supporting points do not always add up to conclusive proof of an argument, and in this case, I tried to make it clear up front that the preponderance of proof goes against Christianity.

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And you still have not provided any sort of evidence beyond ...

This is correct, MM.  I'm saying that the evidence goes against it, and still Christianity is true.  The best rational arguments that I've heard go against it, and in spite of that, it's true.  I am not saying that it's true because of those things, although I do make the case that those things can be seen as support for its truth, if one chooses first to believe Christianity's claims about reality. 

I don't expect anyone to necessarily buy my argument, or to believe Christianity is true.

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By that line of thinking I should believe in Unicorns as well.  I can easily take up the flag that no one can definitively prove that Unicorns do not exists and we are right back to the same circular arguments I see time and again for religion.

Yes, I don't disagree.  All I want to point out is that the apparent and admitted limitations of the arguments do not add up to conclusive proof that Christianity is false.

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So why do you choose Christianity and not Unicorns?

At the end of the day, I just do; it's a free and personal choice, just like the free choices of others to reject Christianity.

BTW, if I sound like a broken record, repeating myself a lot, partly that's because not everyone reading along has seen so many of my posts elsewhere (as you probably have, MM); and partly it's because I think my understanding of Christianity is too unusual to be widely understood without careful explanation.  I don't mean for that to sound impressive ... Do you know any other Christians who will freely admit to believing Christianity while simultaneously conceding that rational evidence points conclusively away from it?  I don't, although I would like to find some, because that is my view.  I also don't know any Christians who consider it to be offensive and upsetting in the specific ways that I do (and I desperately want to find at least one such person).  (Do you know such people?  It's not a facetious question, nor is it a good reason for you to accept my claims as true -- I would think that it would be just the opposite, in fact.)

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    The choice remains for each person to make:  believe Christianity or not?

  You have presented nothing that would distinguish the two.

... And, once again, I ask you to show me the difference between picking your religion over the thousands of others that could make the same argument.  An argument you, yourself, have said is weak.

I'm afraid that people who reject Christianity expect Christians to rationally argue with them, or to try to woo them with emotional appeals, because that is what many Christians do.  What I do instead is try to explain how I have personally been able to reconcile my belief in Christianity with the rational arguments against it, and with certain strong emotional reasons to reject it.  My goal is not so much to change your mind as to express my views and get you to understand them clearly, whether or not you accept them or adopt them yourself. 

It's the same goal I assume everyone has here -- to express their views and help others to understand them, etc..

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Further, I believe, that if any other given religion, including say, Pastafarianism, had made that strong emotional imprint, you would be making the same exact argument just swapping the name of your particular belief. 

I can make a very strong emotional appeal to reject Christianity, but I don't do so, because I assume most people here already reject Christianity.  Alternatively, I could make a strong emotional appeal to accept Christianity as true, but I don't do so, because I see such appeals as manipulative, undignified, and inappropriate in most contexts, including here.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 06:40:39 PM by rick957 »

Offline Hemingway

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #92 on: June 03, 2012, 06:32:25 PM »
I'm not being facetious here, but how is that an argument at all? Where is all of that going? Could you, perhaps, provide a simple, concise outline of the actual argument?

Offline rick957

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #93 on: June 03, 2012, 07:17:22 PM »
I'm not being facetious here, but how is that an argument at all? Where is all of that going? Could you, perhaps, provide a simple, concise outline of the actual argument?

I don't think the stuff I said anywhere in this thread or any others adds up to a complete presentation of Christian beliefs, but I can gladly make such a presentation ... in private.  Just PM me (anyone can).  Part of the reason for that is because I am not gifted enough with communication that I can condense my understanding of Christianity into less than one short paragraph, which seems to be the expected norm on these boards (not that I'm complaining about that).  It would take me several detailed paragraphs, maybe 5 or so. 

Also it's very important to me not to give the impression that I'm pushing anyone to believe anything or agree with me, necessarily.  I think I can make that clear in a one-on-one PM conversation, but in a public forum, I'm afraid it would sound like proselytizing to someone or other.

Finally, although my way of talking about Christianity is very specific and differs sharply from certain versions of it, my core beliefs are identical to the ones commonly known as Protestant Christianity.  Many people have heard those beliefs described ad nauseam and have no desire to hear them over again from me, and I want to respect that.

(Oh, and also, even though I would present it in the form of a logical argument, I shouldn't call my explanation of Christianity an "argument," strictly speaking, for the reasons I mentioned above (in the "beginning of the argument" thingie).)
« Last Edit: June 03, 2012, 07:31:15 PM by rick957 »

Offline Hemingway

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #94 on: June 03, 2012, 08:06:22 PM »
If it's not an argument, then it becomes far less interesting to me. I'm familiar with most of the stock arguments ( and their very obvious flaws ), such as the cosmological argument, teleological argument ( of which the fine-tuned universe is a particularly weak variant ), and so on. None of these, obviously, manage to convince me, so I'm always interested in hearing other arguments. It gets a bit boring listening to the same arguments repeated over and over.

I may have mentioned this earlier, but there's a debate between Christopher Hitchens and Dinesh D'Souza on Youtube, where the latter is just going through the stock arguments. To someone who's actually familiar with them, his entire ten ( or however many ) minute speech could've been summed up as something like "cosmological argument, teleological argument, fine-tuned universe". Now that was boring, and not very rewarding.

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #95 on: June 03, 2012, 08:10:06 PM »
Quote from: rick957
I'm saying that the evidence goes against it, and still Christianity is true.

Here is one of the issues I think divides people.  I think you will agree that this is a pretty presuming statement.  People that do not agree with you expect something to back up this statement and you essentially say there is nothing to back it up.

Then we apply this very same method of argument to anything but religion, say for examples, I claim the sky is pink.  Someone points out it appears blue (or even black if we get outside of the atmosphere).  If I further say, I know it appears blue and that millions of observations lead to the conclusion that is is blue, but I say it is pink because that is the truth.  We all know I would be laughed at and ridiculed.  However, this very same method of argument is somehow valid for religion.

One side calls the other willfully ignorant.  The other calls its opposition disrespectful and arrogant.

You choose to believe in Christianity.  Honestly, I am completely o.k. with that.  It is when you tell me it is true that I take issue with it.  Pastafarianism is the real truth.  Until you choose to believe in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, praise be to his noodly goodness,  your intellect only deceives you.  But I am not telling you what to believe or trying to convince anyone of the absolute truth of Pastafarianism since you will not be able to see it until you open your heart to his marinara sauce.  I am sorry if that comes off arrogant for me to point out how ignorant you are of the truth while I bask in the glory of reality.  It is not my intent to tell you how wrong you are, even though you really, really are.  I am not trying to convince you to go here and pray long and hard until you eventually will come to the same conclusion that I have because, after all, it is the truth.  I know I can not prove it, but you can not prove that it is not, so it is...just believe me.

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Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #96 on: June 03, 2012, 10:10:16 PM »
^Dat^

That is a very good summation of what people whom are outside of the belief of Christianity get, only replace the various Pasta terms with Christian ones. Which for the record, I do freely admit that Christianity is not the only one that likes to claim itself to be the holder of the one and only truth (it's a pretty well known bit of it) but do bear in mind that it is the one most likely to be run into in many countries.

It goes right along with people whom automatically assume you are of their religion, who assume that since you aren't of their religion, you know nothing about their religion (because you know, it's not widely known or anything) or my favorite, the backhanded pity.

>,>

Offline rick957

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #97 on: June 03, 2012, 10:39:49 PM »
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... None of these, obviously, manage to convince me, so I'm always interested in hearing other arguments. It gets a bit boring listening to the same arguments repeated over and over.

That's understandable, and it's very likely that you've heard Christianity explained many times before, especially if you live anywhere in the West and got a decent education.  The only novelty in my "argument" is that it isn't really an argument.  :)  I can tell anyone what I believe and why I believe it, but I don't think I would be able to "convince" anyone to share my beliefs, nor would I want to try ... because, strictly speaking, "convincing" suggests grasping the truth of something using one's logic or reason.  Christianity's truth eludes the best, highest human logic and will continue to do so, I think.  Trusting one's sense of reason or logic is still putting trust in a part of oneself, but Christianity requires that one put one's trust in something specific that is completely outside of oneself.

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Here is one of the issues I think divides people.  I think you will agree that this is a pretty presuming statement.  People that do not agree with you expect something to back up this statement and you essentially say there is nothing to back it up.

More or less, yes.  I wouldn't say there's nothing, but I would say that there's not enough to defeat certain important counter-arguments.  Yes, it is presuming or presumptuous, I think, so much so that it's potentially or even actually offensive.

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Then we apply this very same method of argument to anything but religion, say for examples, I claim the sky is pink.  Someone points out it appears blue (or even black if we get outside of the atmosphere).  If I further say, I know it appears blue and that millions of observations lead to the conclusion that is is blue, but I say it is pink because that is the truth.  We all know I would be laughed at and ridiculed.  However, this very same method of argument is somehow valid for religion.

Yes, I would only add that Christians aren't really making an argument at all, because that would fall under the realm of depending on human reason.  They are, however, making a claim about what is true, and it's a very divisive claim, as you said.  There's a famous Bible quotation (in Matthew 10) in which Jesus basically said that he came not to bring peace to humanity, but to cut people apart from their closest loved ones.  It's not a pretty thought no matter how you try to spin it, IMO.

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One side calls the other willfully ignorant.  The other calls its opposition disrespectful and arrogant.

I get your point here.  I would just say that I wouldn't call anyone ignorant for rejecting Christianity, nor do I think of anyone in that way; I try my best to respect others and not look down on anyone because they believe things that are different from what I believe.  I've learned a hell of a lot from talking about these subjects with many people at Elliquiy who apparently don't share my beliefs, just as one example.

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You choose to believe in Christianity.  Honestly, I am completely o.k. with that. 

I'm glad; I'm okay with it if you don't believe in Christianity, or don't believe in it in the particular ways that I do.

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It is when you tell me it is true that I take issue with it. 

There's no way of getting around this, I don't think.  It's an extremely normal and reasonable response for any person to have towards Christianity; I greatly respect and sympathize with this response, although as a Christian, I don't share it.

The Pastafarianism bit is cute, though, if I do say so myself.  :)

Offline MasterMischief

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #98 on: June 04, 2012, 06:57:16 AM »
Actually, I believe I may have been out of line there. Or at least a bit too indulgent of my own ego. I appologize.

Offline rick957

Re: Elliquian Atheists
« Reply #99 on: June 04, 2012, 01:36:39 PM »
Thanks, MM, for the apology, and especially for the dialog, although the apology part wasn't really necessary -- I wasn't offended.  I try to keep a sense of humor, even a somewhat-irreverent one, when it comes to everything, including religion ... And on the whole, I'm really glad that more people around here haven't tried to skewer me for being so open about having beliefs that might offend people.  People are incredibly tolerant and nice about it, I think -- yourself included.  :)
« Last Edit: June 04, 2012, 01:38:06 PM by rick957 »