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Author Topic: Why I am an athiest  (Read 4894 times)

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Offline gaggedLouise

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #100 on: May 02, 2014, 08:14:41 AM »
I think the two of you mean slightly different things by "belief". Sabby seems to imply that belief in something or someone equals "X is holding it for a factual truth that (p)", or "when this priest or this sacred book says that (p) is true I believe them" - whether the statement (p) can be proved or buttressed with regular facts or not. Nothing more than the postulated statement (p), seen as factual truth, and a general idea of how far it can be used. Kythia is thinking more in terms of: belief equals personal conviction and personal trust (edit: a conviction interacting with (p) ), whether you commit to a given set of physical assumed facts relying on your faith or not.

Most people who have a faith in a God or gods, and are serious about it, don't see their faith as resting squarely on observable facts and nothing more.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 10:17:36 AM by gaggedLouise »

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #101 on: May 02, 2014, 08:23:04 AM »
ETA:  Having looked through, Ephiral, I stand by my belief you're mistaken.  For example, in the final IO quote you later specifically accept that evangelise was the wrong word to use in this context.  You presumably stand by yours that you're not.  I'm not sure though, now that I come to think of it, that's there's much point in continuing this side issue - and certainly not in the public thread.  Thoughts?
"Evangelize" was unclear, yes, I admit that. But to go from "There's an apparent conflict in your statements" to "You used this word, therefore you have faith and I win" is... not cool.

I'm fine with putting this to bed if the idea that it's all been one-sided attacks by atheists against theists goes with it.



I suspect the point of rupture between you and Sabby is not in differing definitions of "belief", but in Sabby's distinction between "lack of belief" and "active disbelief". (I'm not sure that such a distinction is particularly useful or even meaningful, but it's one I've seen made in numerous places.)

Offline Sabby

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #102 on: May 02, 2014, 08:24:06 AM »
Kythia, I don't know how ive been unclear. I've explained miltople times, so I dont appreciate you accusing me of refusing to answer.

You want me explain again, then I will, but o am stepping out after this.

Atheist. Lack of belief in God or Gods.

There. Ive done all I can. Goodnight.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #103 on: May 02, 2014, 08:27:15 AM »
"Evangelize" was unclear, yes, I admit that. But to go from "There's an apparent conflict in your statements" to "You used this word, therefore you have faith and I win" is... not cool.

I'm fine with putting this to bed if the idea that it's all been one-sided attacks by atheists against theists goes with it.

Ugh, now we run into a problem because, honestly, that's how it seems to me and I presume you're genuine in your statement that that's not how it seems to you.  Can we not waive your requirement?  Or have I misunderstood, I'm certainly happy to put the point to bed, but not to concede it.  Which were you asking for?


I suspect the point of rupture between you and Sabby is not in differing definitions of "belief", but in Sabby's distinction between "lack of belief" and "active disbelief". (I'm not sure that such a distinction is particularly useful or even meaningful, but it's one I've seen made in numerous places.)

Could you expand on this a little for me?  Its not a distinction I've heard before.

Kythia, I don't know how ive been unclear. I've explained miltople times, so I dont appreciate you accusing me of refusing to answer.

You want me explain again, then I will, but o am stepping out after this.

Atheist. Lack of belief in God or Gods.

There. Ive done all I can. Goodnight.


Lack of belief God is a belief in no God.  Ephiral made this point a while ago. 

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #104 on: May 02, 2014, 08:28:21 AM »
*draws in a deep breath*

Ok, so what I am reading now is the argument that being an atheist means you have absolutely no belief. Period. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Yes?

Then letís look at this.

Atheism originated from the Greek word atheos which means without god(s), used as a pejorative term applied to those thought to reject the gods worshipped by the larger society. So, the definition of the word that everyone agrees on is the rejection of the belief in the existence of deities. (As a side note, for simplicities sake, I am not getting into the whole implicit vs. explicit)

Now, what does that little suffix on the end of the word mean? Ď-ismí A belief, attitude, style, etc, that is referred to by a word that ends in the suffix -ism. 1. A distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory. 2 An oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief.

So what does that mean? Iíll put it the way it was taught to me in English class.

If it has Ď-ismí at the end of it, it is a Ďbelief iní.

Catholicism - a belief in the catholic doctrine and dogma.
Fascism - a belief in a dictator led governmental system
Racism - a belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
Feminism - a belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
Monotheism - a belief in the existence of one god or in the oneness of God.
Polytheism - a belief in multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals.


Seeing a pattern yet? Quite simply put, you tack -ism onto a word and it means Ďa belief inĎ. Thus, with that definition alone - unless you are willing to use the part of the definition that says Ďa doctrine, cause or theoryí, you actually have a belief system. You believe in nothing - thus, your belief system - your atheism - is defined as a belief in nothing.

Now, letís look at the word Ďbeliefí. Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true. Do we agree on this definition? Or we can say belief means an acceptance that a statement is true that something exists (his belief in the value of hard work). Or it could be that belief means trust, faith (well shit, thereís that word again), or confidence in someone or something.

What am I proving here?

You guys are splitting hairs. In your rush to pimp smack those of us who have a belief in some form of religious doctrine youíve managed to talk yourselves into a corner. You do believe in something (the lack of God(s)) and that means you have faith in your beliefs being true. And that means that atheism, by all of these definitions, is a form of religion.

Btw - religion: A set of variously organized beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality and the role of humans in this.
Yup, Iíd say atheism is a religion.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 08:29:48 AM by Iniquitous Opheliac »

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #105 on: May 02, 2014, 08:32:17 AM »
If I might perhaps offer something with potential for clarifying:

Kythia - you are claiming that Sabby's 'lack of belief in a deity' is a 'belief system regarding a deity'.  For a moment, let's replace 'belief in a deity' with 'evidence of a murder'.  If Sabby was a detective, and had a 'lack of evidence of a murder', would it necessarily follow - one way or the other - that a murder did or did not occur?  No.  Absence of anything does not constitute a 'system' or any other aggregate term.  You might just as well say that there is a colony of dodos outside with a population of zero.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #106 on: May 02, 2014, 08:35:24 AM »
If I might perhaps offer something with potential for clarifying:

Kythia - you are claiming that Sabby's 'lack of belief in a deity' is a 'belief system regarding a deity'.  For a moment, let's replace 'belief in a deity' with 'evidence of a murder'.  If Sabby was a detective, and had a 'lack of evidence of a murder', would it necessarily follow - one way or the other - that a murder did or did not occur?  No.  Absence of anything does not constitute a 'system' or any other aggregate term.  You might just as well say that there is a colony of dodos outside with a population of zero.

Well, firstly there is a colony of dodos outside with a population of zero.   

Secondly your analogy is ill-formed.  The correct one is - "Sabby is a detective who doesn't believe a murder has taken place.  Would it therefore necessarily follow that Sabby had opinions on the number of murders that had taken place".  And yes, yes it would.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #107 on: May 02, 2014, 08:59:33 AM »
Ugh, now we run into a problem because, honestly, that's how it seems to me and I presume you're genuine in your statement that that's not how it seems to you.  Can we not waive your requirement?  Or have I misunderstood, I'm certainly happy to put the point to bed, but not to concede it.  Which were you asking for?
I'm in pretty much the same position - I'm not willing to concede, as from my POV it absolutely has not been one-sided, but we can cetainly let it rest for lack of productive avenues of conversation and likelihood of hostilities.

Could you expand on this a little for me?  Its not a distinction I've heard before.
"I believe in God" is a statement about the existence of God. "I believe God does not exist." is also a statement about the existence of God. "I do not believe God exists." is a statement about the existence of belief - it is making no assertion about whether or not God exists.

Again, this isn't a distinction I hold as particularly meaningful - it only seems to work in the presence of negative probability, which is nonsense - but it appears to be where Sabby is coming from.



*draws in a deep breath*

Ok, so what I am reading now is the argument that being an atheist means you have absolutely no belief. Period. None. Nada. Zilch. Zero. Yes?
Sabby might be making that argument. I manifestly am not. Every thought about reality is a belief; the distinction I'm trying to make is between evidence-based beliefs and faith. I have the former; I have yet to see any sign that I have the latter. (I'm sure there's something interesting to be said about my needing evidence of faith, but that's another matter.)

Now, what does that little suffix on the end of the word mean? Ď-ismí A belief, attitude, style, etc, that is referred to by a word that ends in the suffix -ism. 1. A distinctive doctrine, cause, or theory. 2 An oppressive and especially discriminatory attitude or belief.

So what does that mean? Iíll put it the way it was taught to me in English class.

If it has Ď-ismí at the end of it, it is a Ďbelief iní.

Catholicism - a belief in the catholic doctrine and dogma.
Fascism - a belief in a dictator led governmental system
Racism - a belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
Feminism - a belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
Monotheism - a belief in the existence of one god or in the oneness of God.
Polytheism - a belief in multiple deities usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own religions and rituals.


Seeing a pattern yet? Quite simply put, you tack -ism onto a word and it means Ďa belief inĎ. Thus, with that definition alone - unless you are willing to use the part of the definition that says Ďa doctrine, cause or theoryí, you actually have a belief system. You believe in nothing - thus, your belief system - your atheism - is defined as a belief in nothing.
Um, no. First, you're throwing out the definition - "theory" - that most atheists would find acceptable. Second, there's a rather significant difference between "no gods" and "no thing".

Now, letís look at the word Ďbeliefí. Belief is the psychological state in which an individual holds a conjecture or premise to be true. Do we agree on this definition? Or we can say belief means an acceptance that a statement is true that something exists (his belief in the value of hard work). Or it could be that belief means trust, faith (well shit, thereís that word again), or confidence in someone or something.
I'm wary of absolutes here, but your first definition seems reasonable barring semantic games.

You guys are splitting hairs. In your rush to pimp smack those of us who have a belief in some form of religious doctrine youíve managed to talk yourselves into a corner. You do believe in something (the lack of God(s)) and that means you have faith in your beliefs being true. And that means that atheism, by all of these definitions, is a form of religion.
First, can we please stop assuming malice? Second, this is true iff you extend the meaning of "faith" far beyond what has actually been used in this thread. You'll note that when I said I do not have faith in altruism or doctors, because I look to evidence, the objection was "Your evidence is faulty!", not "Evidence is irrelevant - it's still a belief!". Inasmuch as there is a distinction between the common uses of the words "faith" and "belief", that difference lies in faith requiring a lack of evidence.

Btw - religion: A set of variously organized beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality and the role of humans in this.
Yup, Iíd say atheism is a religion.
One problem with this: My answer to the question "What are your beliefs about the relationship between natural and supernatural aspects of reality?" is "Mu."

Conflating "faith", "belief", and "religion" stretches all three words to the point of uselessness. By this standard, "Things exist." becomes a religious statement, and it is essentially impossible to make a meaningful statement involving those terms. And do you think "Hey guys, you have ideas about reality!" is more or less condescending a position than "Regardless of what you say, you still have faith!"?
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 09:01:27 AM by Ephiral »

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #108 on: May 02, 2014, 09:06:33 AM »
I'm in pretty much the same position - I'm not willing to concede, as from my POV it absolutely has not been one-sided, but we can cetainly let it rest for lack of productive avenues of conversation and likelihood of hostilities.

Works for me.

Quote
"I believe in God" is a statement about the existence of God. "I believe God does not exist." is also a statement about the existence of God. "I do not believe God exists." is a statement about the existence of belief - it is making no assertion about whether or not God exists.

Again, this isn't a distinction I hold as particularly meaningful - it only seems to work in the presence of negative probability, which is nonsense - but it appears to be where Sabby is coming from.

Yeah, that's nonsense.  Interestingly, it also seems to be inexpressible in several languages.  Obviously I'm not claiming that "cannot be stated in every language under the sun"=untrue.  Hence "Interestingly" rather than "in any way relevantly".

Thanks for the explanation though.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #109 on: May 02, 2014, 09:26:22 AM »
So, correct me if I am wrong here, but theory means (at it's core level) an idea.

Now, that said, you are saying that you (not going to generalize and make a broad sweep of all atheists) have an idea that you are right and everyone else is wrong.

An idea can be changed - thus, you really have nothing since as soon as undeniable evidence is provided you will change your mind to follow the evidence.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #110 on: May 02, 2014, 09:42:17 AM »
Faith: Strong belief or trust in someone or something. Belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs. A system of religious beliefs.
1 a: allegiance to duty or a person : loyalty
b: fidelity to oneís promises. Sincerity of intentions.
2 a: belief and trust in and loyalty to God. Belief in the traditional doctrines of a religion.
b: Firm belief in something for which there is no proof. Complete trust.
3. Something that is believed especially with strong conviction; especially a system of religious beliefs.


There. With that said - I feel that anyone who says they are atheist also fall under this definition. Why? Because they believe with strong conviction that their beliefs are right.

So where does that leave this whole discussion? Back to that old Ďyou believe what fits you best, Iíll believe what fits me best.í Thereís no reason to hate on someone else because of their beliefs. Donít believe in God? Great! Donít hate on those who do, call them delusional and act an ass about it. Believe in God? Great! Donít hate on those who donít, donít tell them they are going to hell and act an ass about it.

Seriously, I swear this world has become so damned thin skinned it is ridiculous. I work a job where I have customers who will start talking about christianity with me on the phone while Iím fixing their problems. Theyíll witness to me till I am done. Know how I handle it?

Politely. ďThank you for sharing your beliefs/saying youíll pray for me/saying God bless me.Ē It isnít hurting me so why in the world should I get upset about it? It isnít affecting what my personal belief system is. So what if someone tells me Iím going to burn in hell because I choose to live by the Nine Noble Virtues. I donít believe in the christian hell so how can this be offensive or damaging to me? So what if someone accuses me of worshipping the devil. I donít believe in the christian devil. I know itís not the truth.

I do not understand all this angst towards something that, in my opinion, isnít that big of a deal. You know what you believe in/donít believe in. No one can force you to change your beliefs and being polite to those that try and share (because it is part of their religion) tends to cause less stress than deliberately poking at them.

It's been mentioned before, but I feel I have to dig into it some more detail: Is there no qualitative difference between religious faith, and what you are here describing as 'faith' in other types of beliefs? Because the words you use actually matter.

"Something that is believed especially with strong conviction" is not a definition I would accept when discussing religious faith, because it does not cover what I think is the essential difference between religious faith and we might think of as 'other types' of faith. Which is that there is a clear difference between having a 'strong conviction' in something that is demonstrably true, and something for which there is no evidence. The word you use to describe it doesn't change this fact. This is why the preferred definition of 'faith' at least among internet atheists, is 'belief that is not based on evidence'.

There clearly is a difference between a belief based on evidence, and one that is not. To find a dictionary definition of faith and declare that there is no difference, is not helpful. It happens a lot. And I think this problem goes both ways. It leads to people talking past each other, which isn't helpful in the least.

Personally, I don't much care what you call it. I mean, I started by saying I wouldn't accept the "strongly held conviction" definition of faith. But that's not entirely accurate. I'd be happy to accept that as a definition of the word 'faith', but then I wouldn't use the word 'faith' to describe what I think is the important distinction.

I've heard enough people of the believing class make the claim that atheism takes as much faith as religion, that I think I understand the tactic: If you can change the meaning of the word, you don't have to prove that your idea is valid. But it's not really helpful, because it doesn't say anything about the views expressed. Words are, I think, simultaneously full of and devoid of meaning. If you can say that atheism takes faith, and get people to agree with you, you've invalidated the atheist argument against religious faith. At the same time, you haven't really. Because all you've done is changed the words they've used, without saying anything about the content of those words.

So, correct me if I am wrong here, but theory means (at it's core level) an idea.

You are wrong. A theory is a hypothesis backed by facts. I have to admit I couldn't quite find the context for this question, but I felt I had to correct it.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #111 on: May 02, 2014, 09:49:03 AM »
So, correct me if I am wrong here, but theory means (at it's core level) an idea.

Now, that said, you are saying that you (not going to generalize and make a broad sweep of all atheists) have an idea that you are right and everyone else is wrong.
Gonna have to point to Hemingway here. "Theory" as in "Hypothesis which fits all evidence available". The idea is not "I'm right and you're wrong", it's "The evidence for gods is weak and often contradictory; the evidence for gods being unnecessary is strong and consistent; Solomonoff says that, in this situation, you place your money on no-gods".

An idea can be changed - thus, you really have nothing since as soon as undeniable evidence is provided you will change your mind to follow the evidence.
I don't think I understand what you're saying here - what I get from this is that any belief which actually requires or updates on evidence is valueless, which is not a tenable position if one wishes to survive.

Further, I'm not really sure how "I may not hold this position for my entire life, should sufficient counterevidence come to light" translates to "this position does not exist".

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #112 on: May 02, 2014, 09:49:08 AM »
And now I will correct you.

A theory is a group of ideas meant to explain a certain topic, such as a single or collection of fact(s), event(s), or phenomen(a)(on). Typically, a theory is developed through the use of contemplative and rational forms of abstract and generalized thinking. Furthermore, a theory is often based on general principles that are independent of the thing being explained.

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation.

There is a difference. And since there is no scientific proof to back the belief that there is no God(s), you cannot claim that atheism is backed by facts.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #113 on: May 02, 2014, 09:55:46 AM »
There is no scientific evidence to support that there is a God or gods either. 

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #114 on: May 02, 2014, 10:00:01 AM »
This is true. I've never argued that there was. But it certainly doesn't give atheist a right to use the word "theory" with the definition of evidence backed by facts as a description of their beliefs. They have no facts either. Just their beliefs.

The point is, there is no way for this to end with one side being right and the other wrong. We are now to the point of nitpicking over the definition of words - which I mentioned way earlier as being a sign that the topic should be dropped.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #115 on: May 02, 2014, 10:01:24 AM »
And now I will correct you.

A theory is a group of ideas meant to explain a certain topic, such as a single or collection of fact(s), event(s), or phenomen(a)(on). Typically, a theory is developed through the use of contemplative and rational forms of abstract and generalized thinking. Furthermore, a theory is often based on general principles that are independent of the thing being explained.

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation.

There is a difference. And since there is no scientific proof to back the belief that there is no God(s), you cannot claim that atheism is backed by facts.

That's what's called an unfalsifiable hypothesis.

You can't prove there's no god, because any gap in the god hypothesis can be explained away. However, there's no evidence supporting the god hypothesis. And in science, the burden of proof is firmly on the person making a claim.

Honestly, this is such an old and tired argument that it's almost pointless to try to explain it again. I'll simply say that making a claim, and then saying it might be true because the other person can't prove that it's not, is not how science works. It's up to you, the person claiming the existence of something, to prove that it is so. If you don't like it, that's tough, but that's how it works. If you think it's unfair, then maybe so, but that's how it works, and has worked well for centuries. It's how we advance our knowledge of how the world actually works.

It's entirely possible that, because of this, there are things we don't know that we would've known otherwise. But we have also weeded out countless ideas that might otherwise have flourished, to our detriment.

I will say, though, that contrary to popular opinion, it's actually possible to prove a negative. The god hypothesis is largely immune to this, by its very definition, because any and all gaps can be explained away. I mean, that recent film, God's not Dead, tries to solve the problem of Evil by saying god will get around to fixing evil ... some day. It's a complete cop-out, but it can make sense. Because we're dealing with god, and anything can make sense.

And that's why you don't start with your assumptions and make them fit with reality.

Here's a thought experiment I'm quite fond of. Imagine we lived in a world with no church, no bible, nothing of the sort. Is it even remotely possible that people would end up with a belief even vaguely similar to any of our major religions? I mean, sure, it's possible, purely by chance. But considering how many religions exist, and how different they are, what are the odds? Sure, they'd end up believing in something, as people are wont to do when they have no better explanation. But Christianity? Islam? There's not a snowball's chance in hell they would.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #116 on: May 02, 2014, 10:03:03 AM »
It's been mentioned before, but I feel I have to dig into it some more detail: Is there no qualitative difference between religious faith, and what you are here describing as 'faith' in other types of beliefs? Because the words you use actually matter.

"Something that is believed especially with strong conviction" is not a definition I would accept when discussing religious faith, because it does not cover what I think is the essential difference between religious faith and we might think of as 'other types' of faith. Which is that there is a clear difference between having a 'strong conviction' in something that is demonstrably true, and something for which there is no evidence. The word you use to describe it doesn't change this fact. This is why the preferred definition of 'faith' at least among internet atheists, is 'belief that is not based on evidence'.

There clearly is a difference between a belief based on evidence, and one that is not. To find a dictionary definition of faith and declare that there is no difference, is not helpful. It happens a lot. And I think this problem goes both ways. It leads to people talking past each other, which isn't helpful in the least.

Personally, I don't much care what you call it. I mean, I started by saying I wouldn't accept the "strongly held conviction" definition of faith. But that's not entirely accurate. I'd be happy to accept that as a definition of the word 'faith', but then I wouldn't use the word 'faith' to describe what I think is the important distinction.

I've heard enough people of the believing class make the claim that atheism takes as much faith as religion, that I think I understand the tactic: If you can change the meaning of the word, you don't have to prove that your idea is valid. But it's not really helpful, because it doesn't say anything about the views expressed. Words are, I think, simultaneously full of and devoid of meaning. If you can say that atheism takes faith, and get people to agree with you, you've invalidated the atheist argument against religious faith. At the same time, you haven't really. Because all you've done is changed the words they've used, without saying anything about the content of those words.

As a potentially interesting aside (and also a drive by post as I have to go to work then am going drinking), my impression has always been of that same problem but in the opposite direction.  That this definition of (roughly) "based on no evidence" has been "forced" on the discussion.

I personally don't use faith in this context (or try not to at least) for almost precisely these reasons.  But if I were to break my self-imposed rule, I certainly don't think my faith is based on no evidence.  Take Sabby's comment, much earlier in this thread:

For instance, mum says don't touch the stove. I don't just simply accept that on faith, I deduce that she's probably giving me good info based on the fact I don't enjoy being burned.

Now, I wasn't actually raised in a religious family.  But how does that logic not follow with religious belief? 

Mum says go to church every week.  I don't just simply accept that on faith, I deduce that she's probably giving me good info based on the fact that I don't enjoy roasting for an eternity in Hell

Now, you can and all but certainly will claim that there is a fundamental difference given by the second part of Sabby's comment:

Or, maybe I decide to test her word myself. Ow! That burnt me! Well I certainly won't be doing that again, now that I've confirmed my mums words myself.

Two issues there.  First, at the age we seem to be discussing I'm not certain "capable of being independently verified and then being reported upon" is an overly important consideration.  Second, and more important, switch that to a positive.  Mum says I should go to church because I like basking in God's love.  It's a sunny day, I'm in a good mood, etc. I enjoy going to church. Even assuming for the sake of this conversation that there is no God and it is solely environmental factors, I still have evidence that supports the initial assertion.  It will make you feel good going to church.  I went to church.  I felt good.  QED.  Without going in to personal details, my life is objectively and demonstrably better on practically any scale you choose to measure on since I converted.  Evidence exists.  Focusing on your proposed definition of "belief without evidence" is a value judgement not an objective truth (in my case at least).  There are important, useful and interesting discussions that can be held on the value of that evidence, certainly.  Whether its proof of God or confirmation of various mental biases and whatnot.  Sure.

But claiming that religious faith is based on no evidence is poisoning the well.  I have evidence.  Your dispute is with its validity, not its existence.

Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #117 on: May 02, 2014, 10:05:56 AM »
And now I will correct you.

A theory is a group of ideas meant to explain a certain topic, such as a single or collection of fact(s), event(s), or phenomen(a)(on). Typically, a theory is developed through the use of contemplative and rational forms of abstract and generalized thinking. Furthermore, a theory is often based on general principles that are independent of the thing being explained.

A scientific theory is a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that is acquired through the scientific method, and repeatedly confirmed through observation and experimentation.

There is a difference. And since there is no scientific proof to back the belief that there is no God(s), you cannot claim that atheism is backed by facts.
And here's where I correct you. I get to atheism via a theorem, a theory (formal definition), and every bit of evidence I am able to integrate. And I think that you'll find that, in actual use, the unqualified term "theory" is strongly preferred in the STEM fields over "scientific theory" to refer to the formal definition. We don't speak of "the scientific theory of gravity" or "the scientific theory of evolution".

Further, you're conflating "scientific proof" with "fact". These are two separate concepts; there are lots of things that are demonstrably true that have not been proven via blind tests with a control in a strictly controlled environment to p < 0.05.

This is true. I've never argued that there was. But it certainly doesn't give atheist a right to use the word "theory" with the definition of evidence backed by facts as a description of their beliefs. They have no facts either. Just their beliefs.
This is only true if you dilute the definition of "fact" to uselessness, such as by saying "you only believe 1+1=2".



But claiming that religious faith is based on no evidence is poisoning the well.  I have evidence.  Your dispute is with its validity, not its existence.
Semi-valid point; I'll revise to "weak evidence" and apologize for the absolute. (I say "semi-valid" because I accept its validity; I just don't think it's anywhere near strong enough to counterbalance the other side.)

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #118 on: May 02, 2014, 10:10:02 AM »
Thank you Kythia - you said it better than I ever could.

And Ephiral. Prove me wrong.

Point blank, end of discussion. You cannot prove me wrong because you do not have any proof that would undeniably prove me wrong. And in the same damn breath, I cannot prove you wrong because I am in the same damn boat with you.

We have an IDEA - which is, for some, as ever changing as the wind - that we choose to BELIEVE as FACT. Mutate the definitions of those words all you want, but it boils down to what I just said. Neither is right, neither is wrong.

Any argument beyond that is nitpicking and done solely because some people cannot live and let live. It has to be their way or no way.

Offline Hemingway

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #119 on: May 02, 2014, 10:20:19 AM »
As a potentially interesting aside (and also a drive by post as I have to go to work then am going drinking), my impression has always been of that same problem but in the opposite direction.  That this definition of (roughly) "based on no evidence" has been "forced" on the discussion.

It probably was, because it's essential to understanding religious faith.

But claiming that religious faith is based on no evidence is poisoning the well.  I have evidence.  Your dispute is with its validity, not its existence.

You have evidence, but of what?

Maybe I should've been clearer on this, but when I say religious faith isn't based on evidence, I don't mean to suggest that I don't think going to church is good. I don't really care much what people do with their Sundays. The essential questions is whether or not the central claims made by the relevant religion are true. Which is not "going to church is good", but "god is real, and god created everything, and cares about what you do".

There can't be evidence for the god hypothesis, because it's utterly unfalsifiable. A hypothesis must be falsifiable. It's not the evidence that's not valid, it's the hypothesis.

And there are very good reasons for this. I suspect the religiously savvy are very well aware that if they did make their hypothesis somehow falsifiable, they would quickly be proven false. When you leave it obscure, it becomes impossible to prove one way or the other. For many people, that's quite enough. For the scientifically minded, it isn't.

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #120 on: May 02, 2014, 10:20:59 AM »
Thank you Kythia - you said it better than I ever could.

And Ephiral. Prove me wrong.
I cannot do so, not because of a lack of evidence, not even because of the extreme difficulty in proving a negative, but because the only standard of "proof" you appear to be willing to accept is one that is literally impossible to ever achieve about anything. (This is mathematically proven; if you ever look at evidence in the first place, 100% certainty is not possible.)

Point blank, end of discussion. You cannot prove me wrong because you do not have any proof that would undeniably prove me wrong. And in the same damn breath, I cannot prove you wrong because I am in the same damn boat with you.
I don't need undeniable; I need "outweighs most of the modern understanding of physics" or "proves Solomonoff wrong" or "proves Bayes wrong", and "elevates this hypothesis above the general noise of every competing hypothesis". Any one of the first three, plus the second, will do. This is a non-impossible, but non-trivial task. Given that you're the one making the assertion, it is your place to defend it, and the task is possible if the world does, in fact, have supernatural elements.

We have an IDEA - which is, for some, as ever changing as the wind - that we choose to BELIEVE as FACT. Mutate the definitions of those words all you want, but it boils down to what I just said. Neither is right, neither is wrong.

Any argument beyond that is nitpicking and done solely because some people cannot live and let live. It has to be their way or no way.
No. I explicitly do not believe that no-gods and no-supernatural are facts. I place probabilities on them. Probabilitiy is a measure of uncertainty by its nature.

But, of course, pointing out that my stance is weaker than you claim is proof that it has to be my way or no way. Right.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #121 on: May 02, 2014, 10:35:15 AM »
The essential questions is whether or not the central claims made by the relevant religion are true. Which is not "going to church is good", but "god is real, and god created everything, and cares about what you do".

Which religion are you a specialist in?  Why are you in a better position to explain the central claims of my religion (any religion) than I am?  Why, for that matter, is anyone in the privileged position of knowing more about another's faith than they do themselves. 

Quote
There can't be evidence for the god hypothesis, because it's utterly unfalsifiable. A hypothesis must be falsifiable. It's not the evidence that's not valid, it's the hypothesis.

I'm glad you think so.  However, there are vast swathes of my life I - quite correctly - don't demand scientific rigor in.  Why do you insist this can't be one of them?

Quote
And there are very good reasons for this. I suspect the religiously savvy are very well aware that if they did make their hypothesis somehow falsifiable, they would quickly be proven false. When you leave it obscure, it becomes impossible to prove one way or the other. For many people, that's quite enough. For the scientifically minded, it isn't.

That's nonsense.  Is your claim seriously that four thousand years ago Jews came up with their religion and, after much debate, phrased it in a way that would be immune to a scientific method that hadn't yet been developed?  That two thousand years ago Christians did the same?  Fifteen hundred years ago Muslims did the same?  Your claim that this was done deliberately and maliciously - even if we assume it was done at all - makes no sense.

Offline Iniquitous

Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #122 on: May 02, 2014, 10:38:25 AM »
Let me throw this one bit out.

If you are saying that you are uncertain of whether there is a God(s) then that is NOT atheism. That is called being an agnostic (definition below).

Agnostic: ag∑nos∑tic  [ag-nos-tik]  Show IPA
noun
1.
a person who holds that the existence of the ultimate cause, as God, and the essential nature of things are unknown and unknowable, or that human knowledge is limited to experience. Synonyms: disbeliever, nonbeliever, unbeliever; doubter, skeptic, secularist, empiricist; heathen, heretic, infidel, pagan.
2.
a person who denies or doubts the possibility of ultimate knowledge in some area of study.
3.
a person who holds neither of two opposing positions on a topic: Socrates was an agnostic on the subject of immortality.
adjective
4.
of or pertaining to agnostics or their doctrines, attitudes, or beliefs.
5.
asserting the uncertainty of all claims to knowledge.
6.
holding neither of two opposing positions: If you take an agnostic view of technology, then it becomes clear that your decisions to implement one solution or another should be driven by need.

As for your stance that I need to prove my belief with facts because I am defending - who's the one defending here? I've never once said my beliefs are the right and only way. Matter of fact, I have continually said that everyone should drop it and let each person live as they want. I do not need to prove anything to anyone because... guess what... each person makes up their own mind what is true and best for them. My issue is when people - of any belief system - start trying to say their way is right and the only right way. This includes agnostics and atheists.


Offline Ephiral

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #123 on: May 02, 2014, 10:39:41 AM »
That's nonsense.  Is your claim seriously that four thousand years ago Jews came up with their religion and, after much debate, phrased it in a way that would be immune to a scientific method that hadn't yet been developed?  That two thousand years ago Christians did the same?  Fifteen hundred years ago Muslims did the same?  Your claim that this was done deliberately and maliciously - even if we assume it was done at all - makes no sense.

Worth noting: Four thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, fifteen hundred years ago, people made falsifiable claims about God all the time. The Bible, for instance, is chock full of 'em. Constraining him to unfalsifiable arenas is an extremely recent phenomenon - one that appears, at a quick glance, to coincide roughly with when we began testing these claims in earnest.

Offline Kythia

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Re: Why I am an athiest
« Reply #124 on: May 02, 2014, 10:44:30 AM »
Worth noting: Four thousand years ago, two thousand years ago, fifteen hundred years ago, people made falsifiable claims about God all the time. The Bible, for instance, is chock full of 'em. Constraining him to unfalsifiable arenas is an extremely recent phenomenon - one that appears, at a quick glance, to coincide roughly with when we began testing these claims in earnest.

The falsifiable claims were the reason behind my "even if we assume it were done at all".

And I suspect you're putting the cart before the horse to some extent.  "Since we started checking, the only claims about God that haven't been falsified are unfalsifiable" has two potential reasons.  I'm not for one second arguing that there haven't been a lot of lazy and intellectually bankrupt statements made, and I like to think I call them when I see them.  But it was St Aquinas fifteen hundred years ago who claimed that God exists outside of time.

EDIT:  Augustine, obviously.  Not sure what came over me
« Last Edit: May 02, 2014, 10:46:01 AM by Kythia »