You are either not logged in or not registered with our community. Click here to register.
 
December 04, 2016, 10:37:56 AM

Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
Did you miss your activation email?

Login with username, password and session length

Click here if you are having problems.
Default Wide Screen Beige Lilac Rainbow Black & Blue October Send us your theme!

Hark!  The Herald!
Holiday Issue 2016

Wiki Blogs Dicebot

Author Topic: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism  (Read 4595 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Serephino

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #50 on: July 27, 2014, 08:34:23 PM »
Personally, I'm atheist, but not necessarily anti-theist.  I'm fine with other religions existing, but not with them getting special privileges or extra pull with state bodies (such as the somewhat-recent kerfuffle at a few schools involving changing how evolution is taught and muddying the subject with trying to teach students creationism).  Believing in a deity is fine, but trying to force that belief onto others when they don't want it is not, and it seems religious groups get a lot more leeway with that forcing than non-religious groups.

I definitely agree with you about the extra pull thing.  I'm against Creationism being taught in schools, and the Supreme Court Hobby Lobby decision really irked me.  I absolutely hate it when anyone tries to shove their beliefs down the throat of another.

Offline Sethala

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #51 on: July 27, 2014, 08:37:25 PM »
I always hear that there is no scientific proof God exists, and if he's so powerful, why doesn't he just prove himself.  The God I know won't do that because that would interfere with free will.  He has a thing about that.  So no, there will never be any scientific proof God exists.  I'm okay with that.  I'm secure enough in my faith that I'm not afraid of death.  My faith is strong enough that even when I felt I couldn't take any more, I didn't take my own life because I knew what would happen on the other side. 


You know, I've heard this argument before, and also heard a decent rebuttal to it...

Does Lucifer have free will?
Does Lucifer know, with 100% certainty, that God exists?

I assume the answer to both of these will be yes (and if not, I'd love to hear your reasoning).  However, unless you're going to surprise me with a "no" answer, that right there is enough for me to say "Therefore, we can say that knowledge of whether God exists or not does not prevent one from having free will."

Offline Sabby

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #52 on: July 27, 2014, 08:41:22 PM »
I always hear that there is no scientific proof God exists, and if he's so powerful, why doesn't he just prove himself.  The God I know won't do that because that would interfere with free will.

How exactly would revealing himself be interfering with free will? I always hear this but it's never been explained to my satisfaction.
« Last Edit: July 27, 2014, 08:42:28 PM by Sabby »

Offline consortium11

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #53 on: July 27, 2014, 09:38:38 PM »
Let me clarify what I mean. I am not saying that every instance of secular morality is better than every instance of non-secular morality. I agree that claim is fatuous, and thus I am not making it. My claim is that secular morality is systemically better, in that secular morality has everything that non-secular morality has, except for many limitations, like the outside imposed moral standard. Here is a link to a lecture that I think people should watch all the way through, but the good stuff starts in part 2/6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKdDFCJKBrs&index=2&list=PL4119AEC250E7777E

I watched the lecture although I'm afraid I didn't find it particularly helpful. Perhaps it's because I was missing context... from some of the remarks within it it appeared that it was part of a series of events and as such may have been following up from earlier discussions but there was an infuriating habit of the lecturer either seemingly being about to or at times starting to delve into a point but then not doing so in any real depth. That may be a product of only have a limited time to speak but it left multiple points unexplored or unanswered... and several that appeared to contradict each other. To go with the ones that leapt out at me:

  • The first question he was asked by the audience touched on this point; he starts by taking a seemingly intention based point of view (if one child doesn't misbehave because he understands it is wrong to do so and another simply because he fears the punishment for doing so then the first is morally superior) but then follows up in a later remark by noting that it is the action, not the intention, to which he attaches moral value. I don't think he ever really answered that point in his response to the audience question.
  • While he never really discussed the point, it appears that his view of what is ethical is that what helps create a "healthy and productive society". But he never goes into any detail of what a healthy and productive society is or why it is ethical. Likewise while he mentioned that morals should and would be evaluated with regard to whether they did lead to a healthy and productive society he made little mention of how one is supposed to do so.
  • There's little to no discussion of what he actually means by "system". I went in assuming that by "system" he meant a system to examine, consider, define and determine points relating to morality/ethics but it appears by system he means something that is not individual but instead collective and appears to be less about determining ones own positions relating to morality and instead working out what other people's views on morality are and finding a middle ground. Linked to the above point there is little throughout the lecture about how one would determine what is moral in his non-secular ethical system.
  • His view that non-secular ethics would be decided by reasoned debate and conclusions seems to fly in the face of hundreds of years of ethical debate; Kant and JS Mill's ethical theories are both completely secular and yet they are no closer to agreeing now or finding a middle ground then they were when Mill first went about criticising Kant's approach to ethics in 1863 (in regards to both metaethics and normative ethics). In a society or system where a third of the people followed deontological ethics, a third consequentialist ethics and a third virtue ethics it is hard to see how there could be a middle ground all would agree to... there certainly hasn't been in philosophical discourse. Likewise how do a cognitivist and a non-cognitivist find a middle ground when they can't agree whether sentences about morality relate to something that is true or not?
  • Because he doesn't got into any detail about what it actually means to be ethical or what a "healthy and productive society" actually means there's some ambiguity here but from the context it appears that he views secular ethical systems as being consequentialist where outcome of an action is what matters. But that would exclude Kant, a Kantian or any other non-consequentialist theories, be the deontology or virtue based from being non-secular even if they make no mention of deities, supernatural phenomenon or outside sources (or in Kant's case even a posteriori knowledge which I struggle to accept. Surely any ethical theory that doesn't rely on God (or god or gods or any other transcendental being or religion) is non-secular? I know I bang on about Kant a lot but he's one of, if not the, most important ethical philosophers who put forward one of the most important and influential ethical theories and did so in what I'd see as an entirely secular manner.
  • Pet bug of mine but he repeated the "thou shall not kill" mistake as opposed to "though shall not murder". The original term used translates to "murder" and when looked at in context it becomes even clearer. It's not a huge issue in and of itself but because it's used to demonstrate the supposed lack of nuance or flexibility in non-secular morality it produces a rather bum note
  • Related to both the above points and to go back to our old friend Kant again, his system was distinctly (and intentionally) lacking in nuance or flexibility. Kant infamously defended the idea that if a known murderer asked someone the location of his next prey one must tell them the truth even if one was virtually certain this would lead to the prey's death. That's about as inflexible and un-nuanced as an ethical system can be... but also entirely secular


I addressed this with my clarification of my claim. And ‘according to some’ is the way we set a standard. If people don’t agree on it, we can’t have a standard for anything. That means the ‘some’ have to agree, usually a majority.

This is a fair point. I wasn't terribly clear. 'According to some' doesn't explain how societies use majority opinion as a means by which to make collective decisions. Generally, the majority opinion is expedited with some sort of representative legislature. When we construct definitions, it is understood that not 100% of humans agree on every entry. And thus, 'according to some' is a shorthand way of saying, "People use this definition". Thank you for your input.

Thank you for the further clarification; I'd assumed that it was being used (innocently or not) in the weasel word manner that such phrases normally arise.

That said, I'm not sure the clarification actually escapes that point. Which people use this definition? Secular ethicists? All secular ethicists? Some secular ethicists? The majority of secular ethicists? Do non-secular ethecits use it as well? Some of them? All of them?

Any view that claims to get its morals from a deity or revered mortal (in the case of Buddhism) is not secular. That clears it up. If those moral theorists have a holy outside standard, they can’t be viewed as secular.

The point here is that there seems to be a two pronged definition of secular ethics applied... that it doesn't make reference to God, religion and transcendent beings etc etc and that it follows a specific form of consequentialism. I don't see why the second aspect is necessary; while a system of ethics that excludes God, religion and transcendent beings etc etc is self-evidently and intrinsically secular there is nothing self-evident or intrinsic about a theory that includes consequentialism or utilitarianism being secular (which is why I mentioned the Christian utilitarianism school of thought). The second part of this definition of secular ethics seems to me to do nothing but exclude deontological and value theorists and theories which make no reference to God, religion and transcendent beings etc etc (to use him yet again, Kant for example) which on the face of it are seemingly clearly secular.
   
How about you state those criticisms in this thread. I’m not arguing with Wikipedia.

My apologies; the three points are regular and well known criticisms of consequentialist and utilitarian theory so I assumed they'd be common knowledge for someone versed in the topic. To set them out fairly briefly:

Utility Monster: In a system based around the reduction to the greatest reasonable degree of suffering and/or the increase in good (used in a general sense), rather than get bogged down in what exactly constitutes suffering and good let us use a catch all term "utility" to describe everything that is "good". The more utility a person has the better, the less the worse; someone who is rich, healthy, not discriminated against, happy etc etc has a lot of utility, someone who is poor, ill, discriminated against, unhappy etc etc has very little. The goal of utilitarian or consequentialist systems is to increase utility.

Now, assume we have perfect knowledge of utility; we can see exactly how much utility a person has and will know exactly how much utility they derive from something. Let us also assume we live in a world where resources, however bountiful, are limited; there is only so much out there. The logical (and most efficient) way to distribute resources and utility is to use them most efficiently; if someone would derive less utility from something than someone else it is logical to give it to the other person; to use a real world example giving a billionaire £10,000 is unlikely to have as much utility as giving it to a starving person with serious debts and thus the utilitarian or consequentialist approach would be to give it to the starving person. I don't think this is controversial or particularly disputed; it's the basis for most normative utilitarian or consequentialist theories.

But assume there is someone who always derives more utility from what is given to them then anyone else? If we are to be logical and efficient with our allocation of resources surely this "utility monster" should be given all of the resources as it will derive the most utility? What if the monster gains more utility from being given something then others do from not only not having it but actively having it taken away? In such a position the logical and reasonable thing to do is to feed the monster for the fact it derives more utility means it is the most efficient way to use resources.

Then consider the "negative" utility monster, one who derives a virtually miniscule amount of utility from anything given to him and thus will always require exponentially more resources to see the same gain in utility as a "normal" person. It's hard to formulate a consequentialist or utilitarian theory that doesn't fall victim to one of the monster or have serious flaws on its own; a system based around maximising mathematical mean utility would struggle with the exponential gains the "happy" utility monster who gets more utility than anyone else from resources being the logical way to bring the mean up, a system based around minimising the range between those with the most and least utility would fall victim to the "unhappy" utility monster inevitably ending up at the one with the least utility and needing to have vast amounts of resources poured into him. A system which tried to increase the mode may avoid the monsters but has its own issue as the logical way to do it would be to give all but two individuals the lowest utility possible (while all being slightly different) and then splitting the remaining utility so the last two had an equal amount as high as possible. A median system struggles for similar reasons; the logical approach is to keep <50% of the group on as low utility as possible and then give the remaining utility to the 50%< so the middle number is as high as possible.

Is-Ought: Similar to the is-ought fallacy in general parlance ("he is tall, he ought to play basketball", "crime is rife so punishments must be made harsher"), no set of claims about plain matters of fact (‘is’ claims) seem to entail any evaluative claims (‘ought’ claims); one cannot move logically from saying a fact about something to a moral principle for there is no connection. For example:

a) X is in pain

Therefore
b) I ought to prevent X being in pain

There is no logical way to move from a) to b) due to what is known as conservation in logic. X being in pain alone is not enough to logically move to what someone ought to do without further points... but however many points you add you cannot move from the "is" statements to the "ought" statements relying to logic and observation. One may try for example to go:

A) X is in pain
B) If someone is in pain, we should alleviate that pain

Therefore
C) I ought to prevent X being in pain.

But now "B" is the evaluative claim (using "should" instead of "ought") and how do we get from A) to B)? B) is not deducible from A) and logically can never be. You cannot move from an "is" stating facts to a "ought" stating evaluations merely through logic and observation, however many points you put in.

Open-Question: That moral statements about what is good confuse the property goodness with some other property that good things might happen to have. To illustrate this (and from where the objection gets its name), let us use the example from below of goodness and that things that benefit people and society are good.

a) If "benefiting people and society" means the same as "good", then the question "Is it true that benefiting people and society is good?" is meaningless.

b) The question "Is it true that benefiting people and society is good?" is not meaningless (i.e. it is an open question).

Therefore
c) "Benefiting people and society" is not the same as "good".

If "benefiting people and society" meant the same as "good" then the question would be unintelligible; it would be asking "is it true that good is good?" There must be something beyond "benefiting people and society" that means "good" otherwise the question wouldn't make sense. I should note this isn't a specific with with "benefiting people and society"; it was originally raised as a counter to the philosophical hedonism approach which viewed pleasure as being the good.

Again, post those arguments here.

They're not really relevant to this discussion but regardless:

1) Darkness doesn't exist; it is merely an absence of light. Likewise evil doesn't really exist, it is merely an absence of good. One cannot be said to have "created" something that doesn't exist, therefore God cannot be said to have created evil.

2) Similar to above, there is no such things as "evil" but merely different levels of good. When we describe something as evil it is merely a short hand form of saying something has very little good.

3) God gave agents free will but there must be meaningful choices for free will to be meaningful. There is no way for God to make all actions and event "good" without trampling free will.

Those are very brief breakdowns of approaches that are rather beyond the realms of this discussion.

And as far as your arguments about divine command theory: You first have to demonstrate the existence of God and his intrinsic nature to forward this view.

I'm not really putting forward an argument in favour of divine command theory, merely contrasting it with other non-secular theories of ethics, even within the Christian ethical condition. In addition I'd refer you back to the video you linked us to, notably 5:15 of part two where the speaker explicitly notes that for the purposes of these types of reviews it doesn't matter if God exists.

Even if this were all true, there is no practical difference between God literally saying what is moral and God’s very nature denoting what is moral. The followers of this god would still be taking their morals from an outside force instead of working them out on their own.

Well, it depends exactly what you mean by "work them out on your own". Any moral realist, secular or non-secular, holds that there are mind-independent moral facts out there and thus wouldn't "work them out on their own" in the sense of creating the moral facts themselves but there are many moral realist positions... from Kant to Aquinas to GE Moore to Richard Boyd... which hold that one has to work out what those moral facts are, normally through the use of reason. In essence they view ethics as one would a physical science

Of course, evidence shows that men, and not God, wrote all of the religious texts in the world, so these systems you speak of simply take their moral guidance from a group of bronze and iron age mortals.

If these approaches followed divine command theory and stuck exactly to what was within a religious text then this argument has merit but we're not discussing divine command theory or those who stick exactly to what is within a religious text. There is nothing that ties a theory that there is a God, that morals/ethics are part of his nature and character, that God is the ultimate expression of moral values (kindness, love etc etc) and the universe is a expression of himself, those moral values thus apply to the world and it is/was up to humans to discover them through applied reason to Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any other religion with a historic source or holy books... I could apply the same argument to the just invented "Consortium11'ism" which has no holy books at all (or history beyond about 30 seconds ago). Yet it would remain a firmly non-secular theory as it includes a God.

Your claim that there are secular ethics approaches that even consider the ‘intrinsic nature of God’ is definitionally false.

I may not have been clear here; I'm was saying there are secular moral realists who argue there are mind-independent moral facts and that humans have to discover them (generally through reason), which is virtually an identical approach to those taken by non-secular moral realists who follow the approach I outlined above. The process both go through to determine what is moral is basically the same.
   
All of those things are germane to the subject and are intertwined with the subject matter. They all matter to moral systems and thus cannot be excluded from the discussion. I don’t understand how you can claim to separate them or that I am jumping around. Please elaborate.

One cannot answer a metaethical question with a normative answer. To give an example, I asked what we mean when we say "wrong", "right", "good" and "bad"... which is a metaethical question about the nature of moral claims but your answer was a normative one about determining a choice of action. Likewise the question about the nature of moral judgements is a metaethical question about whether the nature of a moral judgement is universal, relative or possibly even nihilist but your answer was again normative. When I first raised the point of "best outcomes" and disagreement it was essentially a normative point but your answer related to applied ethics where it seemed agents had already agreed the norms. A Kantian for example wouldn't have cared about a cost/benefit analysis of moral actions or decisions... he'd care about how they related to his duties such as a categorical imperative. If something can be universalised using a priori knowledge to a perfect duty then it doesn't matter what the consequences of it are beyond that; it is always morally good to do it and always morally bad not to regardless of the circumstances, costs or benefits of doing or not doing it.

Likewise one can look at a point I'll expand below about how I mentioned that a natural law/moral realism theorist has to rely on an element of "because I say so" to explain the existence of moral facts to begin with which is again largely a metaethical point but your answer related to "legislative and judicial discourse" and essentially ended up as a jurisprudential point relating to legal positivism.

Can you explain where I claimed that ethics and the law aren’t separate? We base some of our laws on ethical standards, but they aren’t intrinsically tied to one another. And I wasn’t discussing laws as they pertain to ethics, but to society. I’m sorry if that was unclear.

As mentioned above I made the point that a secular natural law or moral realist approach still needs to rely on an element of "because I say so" about the very existence of natural law or moral facts to begin with. Your answer to that was somewhere between jurisprudential and sociological, seemingly leaning towards legal positivism which seems a strange way to take a discussion relating to ethics. Likewise with the clarification; how laws and society interact and from where law gains its authority is an interesting topic but seems a strange addition to any debate focused around ethics, let alone secular vs non-secular ethics.

1) Things that are ‘right’ and ‘good’ are things that benefit people and society. ‘Wrong’ or ‘bad’ things harm people and society.

2) We decide individually and in societal groups, based on the effects of various action. If an action generally beneficial, we decide that it is good. If an action is generally harmful, be decide that it is bad.

3) A moral judgement is when an individual or a group decides whether an action or group of actions is good or bad, beneficial or harmful.

4) We can move from what is to what ought to be by deciding ourselves what ought to be. There is no other way to decide what we ought to do than to figure it out ourselves.

5) Because being moral benefits everyone around you. If everyone is moral, you will receive approximately the amount of moral behavior that you put out. That means, that if society is generally moral, people will be constantly taking actions that benefit the group.

Of course, as I qualified before, you and I might be able to have structured back-and-forth, but that won’t translate to the entire discussion.

Listen, I’ve just been responding to arguments. I am not creating the structure of the arguments being posed to me, so I can’t easily impose order on the conversation. So claiming that I am ‘leaping all over the shop’ is disingenuous. I’d be glad have a more structured debate, but the purpose of this thread was to get peoples opinions and start a discussion. Naturally, people aren’t going to get together and spontaneously have a 18-way structured debate with a moderator. I’m happy to respond to your numbered list, but you can’t expect the discussion to stay numbered and you can’t accuse me of switching subjects, because the nature of this discussion will cause the subject to change often.

I've reversed the order of these quotes as the first quote is a good illustration of my point in response to the second.

As mentioned previously I don't think it helps the discussion to attempt to answer metaethical questions with normative answers; whether intentionally or not it comes across as avoiding the question and even at best it means that no relevant answer has been given. I asked a number of metaethical questions and expressly noted that with those answered we could move on to normative issues... but your answers are pretty much all normative. That's what I mean by saying you're jumping all over the shop; for whatever reason (and I certainly don't allege a negative one) you've avoided the metaethical discussion and moved to a normative one. It leaves me in the awkward position of having to decide whether to respond to the normative points and thus leave the metaethics untouched or come across as rude by demanding answers to the metaethical ones and ignoring your normative points.

To make some specific points;

1) Things that are ‘right’ and ‘good’ are things that benefit people and society. ‘Wrong’ or ‘bad’ things harm people and society.

How does this avoid the open question argument mentioned above? And where does this leave normative theories which don't rely on a God figure, religion, transcendental being etc etc and so on the face of it are clearly secular but don't have a similar view on what "good" is?

4) We can move from what is to what ought to be by deciding ourselves what ought to be. There is no other way to decide what we ought to do than to figure it out ourselves.

This faces the is-ought problem. As you mentioned previously secular theories are based on logic and I'm unaware of any way to logically move from an "is" statement to an "ought" statement (due to conservation).

Offline BeeJayTopic starter

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #54 on: July 28, 2014, 01:47:47 AM »
This is why I don't like to participate in conversations like these, and was tentative about doing so this time.  Do I have doubts I'm right?  I'll admit, on occasion, I do.  But it's not often, and it's very fleeting.  I think it's human to not be 100% certain 100% of the time.  It's more like 99.9999% of the time.  But am I afraid to be proven wrong?  No, I'm not.  Let me make that part clear.  I just don't like anyone attacking my dearly held belief system, especially if they're going to call me delusional or stupid because I don't subscribe to their logic. 

I always hear that there is no scientific proof God exists, and if he's so powerful, why doesn't he just prove himself.  The God I know won't do that because that would interfere with free will.  He has a thing about that.  So no, there will never be any scientific proof God exists.  I'm okay with that.  I'm secure enough in my faith that I'm not afraid of death.  My faith is strong enough that even when I felt I couldn't take any more, I didn't take my own life because I knew what would happen on the other side. 

Comments like that are also why Atheists get labeled as fuckwads.  Accusing me of being afraid is an attack, or at least it feels like one.  You just couldn't accept that I didn't want to get into a discussion that even the poster himself admitted would probably be offensive to me.  I've heard it before, and it didn't end well.  I'd rather just agree to disagree.  The only way to know for sure who is right is to die.  I'm 99.9999% sure I am, and I can live with you not agreeing.  You'll find out when the time comes.  I don't feel the need to 'save your soul', or anything like that.  I know it'll just be a waste of breath.  I have about as much chance convincing you you're wrong than you do of convincing me I'm wrong.  All that lies down that path is anger and hurt feelings.

Now, if a person wishes to share why they believe as they do, but they can accept and respect the fact that I have a much different world view, I am willing to have a civil discussion and compare notes.   


Let me just ask this: Do you or don't you want to have the discussion? I know Sabby challenged you, but I have said that I won't pursue arguments that people don't want to have. Let me say one thing, though. Asking if you are afraid of being proven wrong, or implying that you might be same, isn't an attack. It is a question that you answered. It's a challenge, and you met it. I don't see the problem. I think the 'fuckwads' is an attack, and an unfounded one in the case of Sabby and myself. Challenging beliefs is part of discussion like this. If someone challenges you and you don’t want to be, bow out of the discussion or refuse to answer. I respect that you don’t want to be challenged, so I will reiterate: Do you or don’t you want to talk about it (If you say you do, I will challenge your beliefs)?

Consortium11: I am going to have to go to bed, and spend some time concocting my rebuttals tomorrow. Matane. Until then.

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #55 on: July 28, 2014, 10:23:48 AM »
Accusing someone of being 'stupid' or 'delusional' is also an ad hominem attack.  It would be best to stop that.

Offline Chaosfox

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #56 on: July 28, 2014, 10:25:58 AM »
Personally, I'm atheist, but not necessarily anti-theist.  I'm fine with other religions existing, but not with them getting special privileges or extra pull with state bodies (such as the somewhat-recent kerfuffle at a few schools involving changing how evolution is taught and muddying the subject with trying to teach students creationism).  Believing in a deity is fine, but trying to force that belief onto others when they don't want it is not, and it seems religious groups get a lot more leeway with that forcing than non-religious groups.

Just to play devil advocate on this point because Its something I wanted to see what  someone would say. On the same token isn't Forcing someone with religious beliefs to learn only about Evolution the same thing?  I mean isn't trying to keep religion out of your kids life in a way doing the same thing that your afraid a christian might do if they teach your kid about the bible?   
(Of course this is assuming that someone on here has a kid and I am sure someone on here does and its something I just  wanted to get an answer to for a while)

As to the main point of this thread yes I'm a christian. I have GOOD Friends that were Pagan, Atheist and all sorts of other religious or moral thoughts. So what do I think about Atheism to be honest I will say sometimes the arguments make sense but my beliefs stem from the fact that I like to think that there is something more to death then just dying and I like to think that I will be able to get the better part of that. Not to mention than it was definitely not my faith in humanity that got me through my depression when I was in college. In the  end an Atheist can no more prove  God does not exist to a Christian than a Christian can really prove that he does exist to an Atheist.  In the end I am just happy when someone can stick to their beliefs no matter what they are because if you cant stick to what you believe in no matter what it is whats the point of holding those beliefs?
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 10:31:13 AM by Chaosfox »

Offline Sabby

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #57 on: July 28, 2014, 11:00:38 AM »
Accusing someone of being 'stupid' or 'delusional' is also an ad hominem attack.  It would be best to stop that.

No it's not. "You're stupid" is not an ad hominem attack. An ad hominem attack would be "You're stupid, so your argument is invalid".

Offline Sethala

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #58 on: July 28, 2014, 12:02:38 PM »
Just to play devil advocate on this point because Its something I wanted to see what  someone would say. On the same token isn't Forcing someone with religious beliefs to learn only about Evolution the same thing?  I mean isn't trying to keep religion out of your kids life in a way doing the same thing that your afraid a christian might do if they teach your kid about the bible?   
(Of course this is assuming that someone on here has a kid and I am sure someone on here does and its something I just  wanted to get an answer to for a while)

No kids, but I do care about the overall knowledge and ability of our country's youth, so even though I don't have any descendants to be affected by it, I still care about other people's kids.

The difference is that evolution does not make any religious claims, it only clashes with claims made by religions (specifically, it clashes with a creationist worldview).  There are, after all, plenty of religious biologists studying evolution, and they have no problem reconciling their faith with the knowledge that we evolved.  So no, me saying that evolution should be taught in schools is not the same as someone saying religion should be taught in schools.  (As an aside, I'm only against religion being taught as something true; religious studies classes that look at various religions through history - including Christianity - from a historian's perspective instead of a theist's is perfectly fine.)

However, the main reason I want evolution to be taught and not creationism is simply that evolution is backed up by evidence, creationism isn't.  Now I fully admit that I'm not a scientist and that what I know could be wrong, but I have not seen anything credible suggesting that creationism would be valid science.  If that changes, if there is some new discovery that makes its likelihood of being true even a fraction of what evolution's is, then I would have no problem with them both being taught.  So far, to the best of my knowledge, that hasn't happened.

Quote
In the  end an Atheist can no more prove  God does not exist to a Christian than a Christian can really prove that he does exist to an Atheist.  In the end I am just happy when someone can stick to their beliefs no matter what they are because if you cant stick to what you believe in no matter what it is whats the point of holding those beliefs?

Two things I'd like to correct here.  First, the onus isn't on the atheist to prove god doesn't exist, it's on the Christian to prove he does exist.  Similarly, I could never provide proof that dragons or unicorns don't exist, but because there's no proof that they do exist, there's no reason to believe that "they must be real until you prove that they aren't real".  Granted, our standards of proof may be different from each other, and your own personal faith may be enough for you; I won't fault you for that, but it won't keep me from thinking that you're simply wrong in your beliefs.

However, I am perfectly willing to listen to proof that a god does exist; I just haven't found anything that could be considered evidence for his existence.  I am perfectly willing to reexamine and reshape my beliefs based on new evidence being presented, so long as the evidence is convincing enough.  I also believe that holding beliefs just to hold a belief is self delusion, that if you can't critically examine why you believe what you believe and change your beliefs accordingly, you're only lying to yourself.  So yes, you could easily convert me to being a Christian, if you have evidence.  I just haven't seen any.

Offline Oniya

  • StoreHouse of Useless Trivia
  • Oracle
  • Carnite
  • *
  • Join Date: Sep 2008
  • Location: Just bouncing through. Hi! City of Roses, Pennsylvania
  • Gender: Female
  • One bad Motokifuka. Also cute and FLUFFY!
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 3
Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #59 on: July 28, 2014, 12:22:04 PM »
If you want to engage in casuistry, 'You're stupid' or 'You're delusional' is also uncivil.

Offline Chaosfox

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #60 on: July 28, 2014, 12:50:34 PM »

Two things I'd like to correct here.  First, the onus isn't on the atheist to prove god doesn't exist, it's on the Christian to prove he does exist.  Similarly, I could never provide proof that dragons or unicorns don't exist, but because there's no proof that they do exist, there's no reason to believe that "they must be real until you prove that they aren't real".  Granted, our standards of proof may be different from each other, and your own personal faith may be enough for you; I won't fault you for that, but it won't keep me from thinking that you're simply wrong in your beliefs.


I did not say you cold not think I was wrong but if you want to prove that i am wrong you would still have to prove that God does not exist.  I did not say you could not think I was wrong you just cant flat out tell me I am wrong with out proof and I can not say that you are wrong with out proof that was the whole point of my statement.

But thank you for your answer I have always wanted to see what someone would say to that and you make a very valid point.

Offline Sethala

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #61 on: July 28, 2014, 02:42:26 PM »
I did not say you cold not think I was wrong but if you want to prove that i am wrong you would still have to prove that God does not exist.  I did not say you could not think I was wrong you just cant flat out tell me I am wrong with out proof and I can not say that you are wrong with out proof that was the whole point of my statement.

But thank you for your answer I have always wanted to see what someone would say to that and you make a very valid point.

No, I can't prove that you're wrong and that I'm right, since I'm taking the null hypothesis - in other words, I'm not saying that there is no god, but rather that there is no reason to believe there is a god.  This is the default position, and in absence of any evidence, it's the correct one by definition.  The null hypothesis is impossible to prove, since you can't prove a negative, only show that it is the most likely explanation by discrediting any evidence brought forth to explain alternate explanations.

Take unicorns, for example.  I can say "There is no such thing as a unicorn".  But I can't prove it, because it's possible that there's an underground cave no one's ever found that has a tribe of unicorns in it.  There's no way for me to prove that this cave doesn't exist.  However, the possibility of such a cave existing is not anywhere close to sufficient evidence to believe that they do exist, without proof - hence, the null hypothesis (which, technically, is "there is no proof of unicorns", not "unicorns don't exist", but for the sake of berevity and using layman's terms I'll often use the latter).  If someone provided evidence of unicorns, then one of two things would happen - the null hypothesis would no longer be correct, or the evidence would somehow be discredited as either insufficient or incorrect, placing the null hypothesis back as the correct answer.

Again however, what is sufficient proof varies from person to person, and each person has their own experiences.  If you have a personal experience with your deity, then that may be enough evidence for you, but simply telling me of that experience is nothing more than hearsay to me, and not enough for my standards.  That doesn't mean I'm correct on a universal scale, but it does still mean that based on the evidence I have available, the null hypothesis is still the most likely explanation.

Offline Chaosfox

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #62 on: July 28, 2014, 03:26:17 PM »


No, I can't prove that you're wrong and that I'm right, since I'm taking the null hypothesis - in other words, I'm not saying that there is no god, but rather that there is no reason to believe there is a god.  This is the default position, and in absence of any evidence, it's the correct one by definition.  The null hypothesis is impossible to prove, since you can't prove a negative, only show that it is the most likely explanation by discrediting any evidence brought forth to explain alternate explanations.

Take unicorns, for example.  I can say "There is no such thing as a unicorn".  But I can't prove it, because it's possible that there's an underground cave no one's ever found that has a tribe of unicorns in it.  There's no way for me to prove that this cave doesn't exist.  However, the possibility of such a cave existing is not anywhere close to sufficient evidence to believe that they do exist, without proof - hence, the null hypothesis (which, technically, is "there is no proof of unicorns", not "unicorns don't exist", but for the sake of berevity and using layman's terms I'll often use the latter).  If someone provided evidence of unicorns, then one of two things would happen - the null hypothesis would no longer be correct, or the evidence would somehow be discredited as either insufficient or incorrect, placing the null hypothesis back as the correct answer.

Again however, what is sufficient proof varies from person to person, and each person has their own experiences.  If you have a personal experience with your deity, then that may be enough evidence for you, but simply telling me of that experience is nothing more than hearsay to me, and not enough for my standards.  That doesn't mean I'm correct on a universal scale, but it does still mean that based on the evidence I have available, the null hypothesis is still the most likely explanation.


You finally got what I was trying to point out (Hindsight tells me I should have just worded it differently)  I can not say I am right and your wrong and vice versa. That is the whole point about believing in something that can not be factually proven or disprove you either believe in it or you do not. The null hypothesis may be the most likely explanation to you and that is great but for me I chose to have faith in God. And you are right that it is based on my own personnel experiences. Yes part of it is how I was raised but I did my own questioning  of things several years ago and have since have come to believe there is a God.  As I stated in my first post I have no problem with people who believe other wise  but that does not mean that I have to agree with them on it or admit to them that they are right. (Which that last statement I am not saying that is what you are trying to do just throwing that out there because I have had people of different idles try to get me to do that till they were blue in the face.)

Offline Sethala

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #63 on: July 28, 2014, 03:40:44 PM »


You finally got what I was trying to point out (Hindsight tells me I should have just worded it differently)  I can not say I am right and your wrong and vice versa. That is the whole point about believing in something that can not be factually proven or disprove you either believe in it or you do not. The null hypothesis may be the most likely explanation to you and that is great but for me I chose to have faith in God. And you are right that it is based on my own personnel experiences. Yes part of it is how I was raised but I did my own questioning  of things several years ago and have since have come to believe there is a God.  As I stated in my first post I have no problem with people who believe other wise  but that does not mean that I have to agree with them on it or admit to them that they are right. (Which that last statement I am not saying that is what you are trying to do just throwing that out there because I have had people of different idles try to get me to do that till they were blue in the face.)

Well, sort of.  Let me try to explain the last thing I said better: when I say that for me, based on my evidence, the null hypothesis is the most likely correct explanation, I'm only taking into account what I can consider evidence, which unfortunately would not include any of your personal experiences.  Those experiences change the available evidence between the two of us, so a different explanation my be correct for you.

Where I have to correct you, however, is your first few sentences.  Yes, it is conceivable for a deity to be factually proven (for instance, look at the role that deities play in many fantasy worlds, particularly the D&D worlds - trying to be an atheist there and claim they don't exist would be rather silly!), it just hasn't been done yet.  You can't simply say "I'm right" and convince me, but if you say something like "My deity has given me the winning numbers for the next three lotteries", and proceed to win them all, I would be far more convinced.  I may think that you having psychic future-seeing powers would be more likely than a deity, and I'd insist on other testing before fully converting my beliefs, but that would be a significant step towards it.  Similarly, if I were able to disprove whatever evidence you have for your faith, so that the only evidence left is faith itself, then I would expect that someone being fully rational and taking an honest look at their beliefs would realize that there's no reason to believe in a god.

Offline BeeJayTopic starter

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #64 on: July 28, 2014, 05:24:39 PM »
No, I can't prove that you're wrong and that I'm right, since I'm taking the null hypothesis - in other words, I'm not saying that there is no god, but rather that there is no reason to believe there is a god.  This is the default position, and in absence of any evidence, it's the correct one by definition.  The null hypothesis is impossible to prove, since you can't prove a negative, only show that it is the most likely explanation by discrediting any evidence brought forth to explain alternate explanations.

Take unicorns, for example.  I can say "There is no such thing as a unicorn".  But I can't prove it, because it's possible that there's an underground cave no one's ever found that has a tribe of unicorns in it.  There's no way for me to prove that this cave doesn't exist.  However, the possibility of such a cave existing is not anywhere close to sufficient evidence to believe that they do exist, without proof - hence, the null hypothesis (which, technically, is "there is no proof of unicorns", not "unicorns don't exist", but for the sake of berevity and using layman's terms I'll often use the latter).  If someone provided evidence of unicorns, then one of two things would happen - the null hypothesis would no longer be correct, or the evidence would somehow be discredited as either insufficient or incorrect, placing the null hypothesis back as the correct answer.

Again however, what is sufficient proof varies from person to person, and each person has their own experiences.  If you have a personal experience with your deity, then that may be enough evidence for you, but simply telling me of that experience is nothing more than hearsay to me, and not enough for my standards.  That doesn't mean I'm correct on a universal scale, but it does still mean that based on the evidence I have available, the null hypothesis is still the most likely explanation.

This point is often very hard to get across to theists. You have stated it clearly and concisely. Thank you for your input.

If you want to engage in casuistry, 'You're stupid' or 'You're delusional' is also uncivil.

If said that way, sure. I can see how someone could be offended by that kind of statement, and in order to be nice, you shouldn稚 hurl insults around. I don't think that anyone, myself included, has said something like that. It isn't conducive to real discussion to point fingers and lay labels on people, because they just shut down. However, it might be necessary to the discussion to say that someone is delusional, if they are claiming not to be as a part of their argument. Now, if someone comes in here and says, like Saidi did, that she just doesn稚 like being called delusional and doesn稚 make any kind of argument, calling that person delusional is uncivil. I have apologized for that and I hope it doesn稚 happen in this thread. In conclusion, someone claiming to be offended by my rebuttal to their argument doesn稚 get a free pass because I hurt their feelings. If you have an argument based around your non-delusional-ness, I will not hesitate to tell you that the fact that you池e offended is completely irrelevant. Though social strictures demand civility sometimes, one does not have the right to not be offended.

I watched the lecture although I'm afraid I didn't find it particularly helpful. Perhaps it's because I was missing context... from some of the remarks within it it appeared that it was part of a series of events and as such may have been following up from earlier discussions but there was an infuriating habit of the lecturer either seemingly being about to or at times starting to delve into a point but then not doing so in any real depth. That may be a product of only have a limited time to speak but it left multiple points unexplored or unanswered... and several that appeared to contradict each other. To go with the ones that leapt out at me:

  • The first question he was asked by the audience touched on this point; he starts by taking a seemingly intention based point of view (if one child doesn't misbehave because he understands it is wrong to do so and another simply because he fears the punishment for doing so then the first is morally superior) but then follows up in a later remark by noting that it is the action, not the intention, to which he attaches moral value. I don't think he ever really answered that point in his response to the audience question.
  • While he never really discussed the point, it appears that his view of what is ethical is that what helps create a "healthy and productive society". But he never goes into any detail of what a healthy and productive society is or why it is ethical. Likewise while he mentioned that morals should and would be evaluated with regard to whether they did lead to a healthy and productive society he made little mention of how one is supposed to do so.
  • There's little to no discussion of what he actually means by "system". I went in assuming that by "system" he meant a system to examine, consider, define and determine points relating to morality/ethics but it appears by system he means something that is not individual but instead collective and appears to be less about determining ones own positions relating to morality and instead working out what other people's views on morality are and finding a middle ground. Linked to the above point there is little throughout the lecture about how one would determine what is moral in his non-secular ethical system.
  • His view that non-secular ethics would be decided by reasoned debate and conclusions seems to fly in the face of hundreds of years of ethical debate; Kant and JS Mill's ethical theories are both completely secular and yet they are no closer to agreeing now or finding a middle ground then they were when Mill first went about criticising Kant's approach to ethics in 1863 (in regards to both metaethics and normative ethics). In a society or system where a third of the people followed deontological ethics, a third consequentialist ethics and a third virtue ethics it is hard to see how there could be a middle ground all would agree to... there certainly hasn't been in philosophical discourse. Likewise how do a cognitivist and a non-cognitivist find a middle ground when they can't agree whether sentences about morality relate to something that is true or not?
  • Because he doesn't got into any detail about what it actually means to be ethical or what a "healthy and productive society" actually means there's some ambiguity here but from the context it appears that he views secular ethical systems as being consequentialist where outcome of an action is what matters. But that would exclude Kant, a Kantian or any other non-consequentialist theories, be the deontology or virtue based from being non-secular even if they make no mention of deities, supernatural phenomenon or outside sources (or in Kant's case even a posteriori knowledge which I struggle to accept. Surely any ethical theory that doesn't rely on God (or god or gods or any other transcendental being or religion) is non-secular? I know I bang on about Kant a lot but he's one of, if not the, most important ethical philosophers who put forward one of the most important and influential ethical theories and did so in what I'd see as an entirely secular manner.
  • Pet bug of mine but he repeated the "thou shall not kill" mistake as opposed to "though shall not murder". The original term used translates to "murder" and when looked at in context it becomes even clearer. It's not a huge issue in and of itself but because it's used to demonstrate the supposed lack of nuance or flexibility in non-secular morality it produces a rather bum note
  • Related to both the above points and to go back to our old friend Kant again, his system was distinctly (and intentionally) lacking in nuance or flexibility. Kant infamously defended the idea that if a known murderer asked someone the location of his next prey one must tell them the truth even if one was virtually certain this would lead to the prey's death. That's about as inflexible and un-nuanced as an ethical system can be... but also entirely secular

I’m just not going to respond to these points. Sorry for ducking this stuff, but my only intention with that video was to make my point a bit more clear. I知 just not interested in defending Matt痴 lecture as its own piece, because I didn稚 write it. Part 2/6 contained the very basics of the argument, which lays the groundwork for my points. Most of your criticisms seem to be about the definitions of words and presentation, which of course it would take hours to go into all of the definitions of each concept mentioned in the lecture. I think you池e right, that time constraints got in the way of a fuller exposition of points. If you池e interested, email Matt Dillahunty at tv@atheist-community.org. I知 sure he would be better at rebutting your points.

Thank you for the further clarification; I'd assumed that it was being used (innocently or not) in the weasel word manner that such phrases normally arise.

That said, I'm not sure the clarification actually escapes that point. Which people use this definition? Secular ethicists? All secular ethicists? Some secular ethicists? The majority of secular ethicists? Do non-secular ethecits use it as well? Some of them? All of them?

This point is a little unnecessary. I haven稚 crunched the numbers on who uses what definition, but I can assume that enough people use it to be useful to this discussion. If you disagree, feel free to explain why, but the semantics don稚 really further the discussion in this case.

The point here is that there seems to be a two pronged definition of secular ethics applied... that it doesn't make reference to God, religion and transcendent beings etc etc and that it follows a specific form of consequentialism. I don't see why the second aspect is necessary; while a system of ethics that excludes God, religion and transcendent beings etc etc is self-evidently and intrinsically secular there is nothing self-evident or intrinsic about a theory that includes consequentialism or utilitarianism being secular (which is why I mentioned the Christian utilitarianism school of thought). The second part of this definition of secular ethics seems to me to do nothing but exclude deontological and value theorists and theories which make no reference to God, religion and transcendent beings etc etc (to use him yet again, Kant for example) which on the face of it are seemingly clearly secular.

I never claimed that secular morality is defined by consequentialism. Consequentialism is just the most obvious way to apply morality when there are not outside mandates. I am aware that there is potential for secular societies to have inside mandates, and thus consequentialism isn稚 always practiced, but non-secular systems are required to have them. That means, by simple deduction, that secular societies will less often have mandates and more often follow consequentialism. This makes it easy for the connection between secular systems and consequentialism to be made.

   
My apologies; the three points are regular and well known criticisms of consequentialist and utilitarian theory so I assumed they'd be common knowledge for someone versed in the topic. To set them out fairly briefly:

Utility Monster: In a system based around the reduction to the greatest reasonable degree of suffering and/or the increase in good (used in a general sense), rather than get bogged down in what exactly constitutes suffering and good let us use a catch all term "utility" to describe everything that is "good". The more utility a person has the better, the less the worse; someone who is rich, healthy, not discriminated against, happy etc etc has a lot of utility, someone who is poor, ill, discriminated against, unhappy etc etc has very little. The goal of utilitarian or consequentialist systems is to increase utility.

Now, assume we have perfect knowledge of utility; we can see exactly how much utility a person has and will know exactly how much utility they derive from something. Let us also assume we live in a world where resources, however bountiful, are limited; there is only so much out there. The logical (and most efficient) way to distribute resources and utility is to use them most efficiently; if someone would derive less utility from something than someone else it is logical to give it to the other person; to use a real world example giving a billionaire ?10,000 is unlikely to have as much utility as giving it to a starving person with serious debts and thus the utilitarian or consequentialist approach would be to give it to the starving person. I don't think this is controversial or particularly disputed; it's the basis for most normative utilitarian or consequentialist theories.

But assume there is someone who always derives more utility from what is given to them then anyone else? If we are to be logical and efficient with our allocation of resources surely this "utility monster" should be given all of the resources as it will derive the most utility? What if the monster gains more utility from being given something then others do from not only not having it but actively having it taken away? In such a position the logical and reasonable thing to do is to feed the monster for the fact it derives more utility means it is the most efficient way to use resources.

Then consider the "negative" utility monster, one who derives a virtually miniscule amount of utility from anything given to him and thus will always require exponentially more resources to see the same gain in utility as a "normal" person. It's hard to formulate a consequentialist or utilitarian theory that doesn't fall victim to one of the monster or have serious flaws on its own; a system based around maximising mathematical mean utility would struggle with the exponential gains the "happy" utility monster who gets more utility than anyone else from resources being the logical way to bring the mean up, a system based around minimising the range between those with the most and least utility would fall victim to the "unhappy" utility monster inevitably ending up at the one with the least utility and needing to have vast amounts of resources poured into him. A system which tried to increase the mode may avoid the monsters but has its own issue as the logical way to do it would be to give all but two individuals the lowest utility possible (while all being slightly different) and then splitting the remaining utility so the last two had an equal amount as high as possible. A median system struggles for similar reasons; the logical approach is to keep <50% of the group on as low utility as possible and then give the remaining utility to the 50%< so the middle number is as high as possible.

I want to make it clear that I am not an advocate for consequentialism. I think it is useful in real life, but I don稚 claim it to be any kind of perfect system. This point is a bit of a defeater for consequentialism as you have laid it down. The simple answer is that in the real world, that is to say outside of theoretical ethics, this sort of problem wouldn稚 happen as stated. If a system fails in society, it is modified so that it won稚 fail. If you threw out the whole system when one part failed, we wouldn稚 have any kind of system. Just tweak the system until this error doesn稚 happen, so put in an 訴f-then clause to specifically halt the issue. 的f we are presented with a utility monster, a limit of X will be placed on them. This argument seems to ignore common sense. If something doesn稚 work properly, you don稚 always just throw it away. Sometimes you just fix it.

Is-Ought: Similar to the is-ought fallacy in general parlance ("he is tall, he ought to play basketball", "crime is rife so punishments must be made harsher"), no set of claims about plain matters of fact (?s claims) seem to entail any evaluative claims (?ught claims); one cannot move logically from saying a fact about something to a moral principle for there is no connection. For example:

a) X is in pain

Therefore
b) I ought to prevent X being in pain

There is no logical way to move from a) to b) due to what is known as conservation in logic. X being in pain alone is not enough to logically move to what someone ought to do without further points... but however many points you add you cannot move from the "is" statements to the "ought" statements relying to logic and observation. One may try for example to go:

A) X is in pain
B) If someone is in pain, we should alleviate that pain

Therefore
C) I ought to prevent X being in pain.

But now "B" is the evaluative claim (using "should" instead of "ought") and how do we get from A) to B)? B) is not deducible from A) and logically can never be. You cannot move from an "is" stating facts to a "ought" stating evaluations merely through logic and observation, however many points you put in.

I致e never seen the point of this argument. Maybe I知 just ignorant, but here痴 my rebuttal. We decide what we ought to do. That痴 it. If I decide that a) the best way to keep someone from being on fire is to douse them with water, b) that being on fire is painful, and c) people should not be on fire as often as possible with some exceptions, I can then make the claim that if someone is on fire, I ought to douse them with water until they aren稚 on fire anymore. If most people agree with me for long enough, we have a standard of morality as it pertains to people being on fire. That is how we get from is to ought. Just because there isn稚 a rigid system for doing so, doesn稚 mean it can稚 be done, evidenced by the fact that it is done every day. And before you claim that I am a moral relativist, I would like to say that what a culture decides is a good standard of ethics doesn稚 make them right. If we combine our abilities to create a moral standard and modified consequentialism, we don稚 have to think female circumcision is 創either right nor wrong

Open-Question: That moral statements about what is good confuse the property goodness with some other property that good things might happen to have. To illustrate this (and from where the objection gets its name), let us use the example from below of goodness and that things that benefit people and society are good.

a) If "benefiting people and society" means the same as "good", then the question "Is it true that benefiting people and society is good?" is meaningless.

b) The question "Is it true that benefiting people and society is good?" is not meaningless (i.e. it is an open question).

Therefore
c) "Benefiting people and society" is not the same as "good".

If "benefiting people and society" meant the same as "good" then the question would be unintelligible; it would be asking "is it true that good is good?" There must be something beyond "benefiting people and society" that means "good" otherwise the question wouldn't make sense. I should note this isn't a specific with with "benefiting people and society"; it was originally raised as a counter to the philosophical hedonism approach which viewed pleasure as being the good.

Let痴 assume that this argument is true. So what? Maybe good does mean something other than 礎eneficial  Nothing follows.  However, if this argument is supporting the idea that 澱ecause good can稚 = its own definition, then good must equal God then I can just respond plugging in 礎enefiting people and society with 賎od  thus:

Premise 1: If God is (analytically equivalent to) good, then the question "Is it true that God is good?" is meaningless.
Premise 2: The question "Is it true that God is good?" is not meaningless (i.e. it is an open question).
Conclusion: God is not (analytically equivalent to) good.

Does that argument satisfy any kind of claim? No, of course it doesn稚. It just argues fallaciously that if you define a word, it cannot equal its own definition. Please let me know if I am missing something here.

They're not really relevant to this discussion but regardless:

1) Darkness doesn't exist; it is merely an absence of light. Likewise evil doesn't really exist, it is merely an absence of good. One cannot be said to have "created" something that doesn't exist, therefore God cannot be said to have created evil.

2) Similar to above, there is no such things as "evil" but merely different levels of good. When we describe something as evil it is merely a short hand form of saying something has very little good.

3) God gave agents free will but there must be meaningful choices for free will to be meaningful. There is no way for God to make all actions and event "good" without trampling free will.

Those are very brief breakdowns of approaches that are rather beyond the realms of this discussion.

If they aren稚 relevant to the discussion, why bring them up in the first place?

I'm not really putting forward an argument in favour of divine command theory, merely contrasting it with other non-secular theories of ethics, even within the Christian ethical condition. In addition I'd refer you back to the video you linked us to, notably 5:15 of part two where the speaker explicitly notes that for the purposes of these types of reviews it doesn't matter if God exists.

I never said that you forwarded the view, but that those who do need to prove these truths before they can make the argument for them. You was used in the general sense. I should have used 双ne  My apologies. And on your second point here: I don稚 see your point. Dillahunty is claiming that the existence of a god痴 views don稚 matter. He doesn稚 address the claimed 訴nherent nature of God that imposes-but-somehow-doesn稚-impose morality on the universe point you made. I did. We don稚 know what Matt would say to that. But one does need to prove those inherent values of the universe before one can make a case for them.

Well, it depends exactly what you mean by "work them out on your own". Any moral realist, secular or non-secular, holds that there are mind-independent moral facts out there and thus wouldn't "work them out on their own" in the sense of creating the moral facts themselves but there are many moral realist positions... from Kant to Aquinas to GE Moore to Richard Boyd... which hold that one has to work out what those moral facts are, normally through the use of reason. In essence they view ethics as one would a physical science

You didn稚 make a counter-claim here. What痴 the use of this paragraph?

If these approaches followed divine command theory and stuck exactly to what was within a religious text then this argument has merit but we're not discussing divine command theory or those who stick exactly to what is within a religious text. There is nothing that ties a theory that there is a God, that morals/ethics are part of his nature and character, that God is the ultimate expression of moral values (kindness, love etc etc) and the universe is a expression of himself, those moral values thus apply to the world and it is/was up to humans to discover them through applied reason to Christianity, Judaism, Islam or any other religion with a historic source or holy books... I could apply the same argument to the just invented "Consortium11'ism" which has no holy books at all (or history beyond about 30 seconds ago). Yet it would remain a firmly non-secular theory as it includes a God.

What痴 your point here? I can’t seem to find it, sincerely.

I may not have been clear here; I'm was saying there are secular moral realists who argue there are mind-independent moral facts and that humans have to discover them (generally through reason), which is virtually an identical approach to those taken by non-secular moral realists who follow the approach I outlined above. The process both go through to determine what is moral is basically the same.

I知 sure there are the kind of secular moral realists you claim there are. I think those guys are wrong. Morals don稚 exist without minds.

   
One cannot answer a metaethical question with a normative answer. To give an example, I asked what we mean when we say "wrong", "right", "good" and "bad"... which is a metaethical question about the nature of moral claims but your answer was a normative one about determining a choice of action. Likewise the question about the nature of moral judgements is a metaethical question about whether the nature of a moral judgement is universal, relative or possibly even nihilist but your answer was again normative. When I first raised the point of "best outcomes" and disagreement it was essentially a normative point but your answer related to applied ethics where it seemed agents had already agreed the norms. A Kantian for example wouldn't have cared about a cost/benefit analysis of moral actions or decisions... he'd care about how they related to his duties such as a categorical imperative. If something can be universalised using a priori knowledge to a perfect duty then it doesn't matter what the consequences of it are beyond that; it is always morally good to do it and always morally bad not to regardless of the circumstances, costs or benefits of doing or not doing it.

I don稚 agree that you can稚 answer with a normative answer. What else is there? We use ethics in the world because there isn稚 anywhere else to use them. Theories don稚 matter except as tools for arriving at normative answers. They aren稚 useful for anything else, because as far as we know, nothing functions outside of the physical world. All the ethical theories I have read try to nail ethics down to complete right and wrong, and that isn稚 possible in the real world, so why care about it? Use the information in a metaethical quandry, but don稚 let it rule your ethical systems without heavy modifications in order to make it fit to reality. There are not categorical imperatives, because ethics aren稚 set in stone. There aren稚 definitive right and wrong outcomes, only general consensus to what the standard should be, and then application of the standard.

Likewise one can look at a point I'll expand below about how I mentioned that a natural law/moral realism theorist has to rely on an element of "because I say so" to explain the existence of moral facts to begin with which is again largely a metaethical point but your answer related to "legislative and judicial discourse" and essentially ended up as a jurisprudential point relating to legal positivism.

There aren稚 moral facts to apply 澱ecause I say so to. I used a practical example of something that does rely on 澱ecause I said so  which is law, after claiming that, generally, secular moral systems don稚 rely on 澱ecause I said so  I never claimed that jurisprudence and ethics are the same. It wasn稚 a comparison of those two ideas, just an exposition of a place that our society uses 澱ecause I said so 

As mentioned above I made the point that a secular natural law or moral realist approach still needs to rely on an element of "because I say so" about the very existence of natural law or moral facts to begin with. Your answer to that was somewhere between jurisprudential and sociological, seemingly leaning towards legal positivism which seems a strange way to take a discussion relating to ethics. Likewise with the clarification; how laws and society interact and from where law gains its authority is an interesting topic but seems a strange addition to any debate focused around ethics, let alone secular vs non-secular ethics.

I simply gave an example in society of 澱ecause I said so  I never equivicated law and ethics, only used law as an example of a place society uses 澱ecause I said so that wasn稚 moral judgments.

I've reversed the order of these quotes as the first quote is a good illustration of my point in response to the second.

As mentioned previously I don't think it helps the discussion to attempt to answer metaethical questions with normative answers; whether intentionally or not it comes across as avoiding the question and even at best it means that no relevant answer has been given. I asked a number of metaethical questions and expressly noted that with those answered we could move on to normative issues... but your answers are pretty much all normative. That's what I mean by saying you're jumping all over the shop; for whatever reason (and I certainly don't allege a negative one) you've avoided the metaethical discussion and moved to a normative one. It leaves me in the awkward position of having to decide whether to respond to the normative points and thus leave the metaethics untouched or come across as rude by demanding answers to the metaethical ones and ignoring your normative points.

To make some specific points;

How does this avoid the open question argument mentioned above? And where does this leave normative theories which don't rely on a God figure, religion, transcendental being etc etc and so on the face of it are clearly secular but don't have a similar view on what "good" is?

This faces the is-ought problem. As you mentioned previously secular theories are based on logic and I'm unaware of any way to logically move from an "is" statement to an "ought" statement (due to conservation).

I have address all of these points above. Thanks for your input.

EDIT: For some reason, all of my "n't" became Japanese characters somewhere in the copy-pasting process. Not changing it, because it is still clear what I mean. I will try to figure out the root of the problem next time I post.
« Last Edit: July 28, 2014, 06:25:25 PM by BeeJay »

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #65 on: July 28, 2014, 06:09:20 PM »
Just to play devil advocate on this point because Its something I wanted to see what  someone would say. On the same token isn't Forcing someone with religious beliefs to learn only about Evolution the same thing?  I mean isn't trying to keep religion out of your kids life in a way doing the same thing that your afraid a christian might do if they teach your kid about the bible?   
(Of course this is assuming that someone on here has a kid and I am sure someone on here does and its something I just  wanted to get an answer to for a while)
...no, because evolution is a) not a religious position, let alone one out of hundreds of equally valid ones, b) true and empirically demonstrated, and c) utterly foundational to a significant chunk of academia (basically anything with "bio-" in it). So this is a pretty obvious false equivalence.

In the end I am just happy when someone can stick to their beliefs no matter what they are because if you cant stick to what you believe in no matter what it is whats the point of holding those beliefs?
This is something I genuinely don't get: Why should sticking to an idea in the face of contradictory evidence be considered a virtue?

Offline Sethala

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #66 on: July 28, 2014, 06:13:19 PM »
Just as a quick aside, only the first quote in BeeJay's post should be attributed to me, I didn't write anything else he quoted.

Offline BeeJayTopic starter

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #67 on: July 28, 2014, 06:16:49 PM »
Sorry, I copied the wrong quote tag. Fixing it.

Offline Chaosfox

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #68 on: July 28, 2014, 07:39:38 PM »

This is something I genuinely don't get: Why should sticking to an idea in the face of contradictory evidence be considered a virtue?
[/quote]

So you are saying that there is evidence that God does not exist? Last time I checked there was not. No I cant  prove that he does but that does not  mean that I am sticking to my belief in God in the face of contradictory evidence.  And so if and Atheist  chose to be an Atheist  and sticks to that then I am all the more happy for them. I cant force people to believe in something and part of that is because I think that a person should do there own searching and decide on there own what they want to believe. That's the way I came to my own conclusions.

Offline Ephiral

  • The Firebrand Logica | Gender Ninja | Their Toy
  • Liege
  • Enchanter
  • *
  • Join Date: Feb 2013
  • Location: In between the lines, outside of the law, underneath the veil
  • Carpe diem per sol delenda.
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #69 on: July 28, 2014, 09:33:56 PM »
So you are saying that there is evidence that God does not exist? Last time I checked there was not. No I cant  prove that he does but that does not  mean that I am sticking to my belief in God in the face of contradictory evidence.  And so if and Atheist  chose to be an Atheist  and sticks to that then I am all the more happy for them. I cant force people to believe in something and part of that is because I think that a person should do there own searching and decide on there own what they want to believe. That's the way I came to my own conclusions.

I'm not going to touch that question in-thread; there is no world in which that goes well. Feel free to take it to PM.

My point of confusion: You spoke admiringly of those who stick to their beliefs - going so far as to question the value of beliefs which can change. Why? Why is a mutable belief pointless? Why is a static one good? And how do you reconcile "altering your beliefs is bad" with "I need to be able to act in the real world"?

Offline Inkidu

  • E's Resident Girlomancer, Dedicated Philogynist, The Compartive of a Superlative, SLG's Sammich Life-Giver
  • Lord
  • Addict
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2008
  • Location: In a staring contest with the Void.
  • Gender: Male
  • My Role Play Preferences
  • View My Rolls
  • Referrals: 0
Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #70 on: July 29, 2014, 10:29:04 AM »
Two - If someone sincerely wishes you a Happy or Merry or Joyous anything, and you feel anger, the anger comes from inside you.  This, I believe, is a greater problem.
Best thing said in the entirety of this thread. :)

Offline Sethala

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #71 on: July 29, 2014, 11:05:12 AM »
This is something I genuinely don't get: Why should sticking to an idea in the face of contradictory evidence be considered a virtue?


So you are saying that there is evidence that God does not exist? Last time I checked there was not. No I cant  prove that he does but that does not  mean that I am sticking to my belief in God in the face of contradictory evidence.  And so if and Atheist  chose to be an Atheist  and sticks to that then I am all the more happy for them. I cant force people to believe in something and part of that is because I think that a person should do there own searching and decide on there own what they want to believe. That's the way I came to my own conclusions.

Well for one, it would be wise to re-read my explanation of the null hypothesis to see why there is no "evidence" that a god does not exist, and anyone that asks that question either does not understand the concept, or is willfully dismissing it (and if you're doing the latter, I would like to know why).

That being said, that still doesn't answer the question of why sticking to one's beliefs in the face of contrary evidence would be a virtue.  I'm not using you as an example here, mind, since attempting to change your beliefs with this discussion would only push it off to a completely different tangent.

Offline Chaosfox

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #72 on: July 29, 2014, 11:56:21 AM »
Well for one, it would be wise to re-read my explanation of the null hypothesis to see why there is no "evidence" that a god does not exist, and anyone that asks that question either does not understand the concept, or is willfully dismissing it (and if you're doing the latter, I would like to know why).

That being said, that still doesn't answer the question of why sticking to one's beliefs in the face of contrary evidence would be a virtue.  I'm not using you as an example here, mind, since attempting to change your beliefs with this discussion would only push it off to a completely different tangent.

First I would like to say I may be misreading your first statement and I might have miss read you Null hypothesis thing as well. I can do that sometimes when I have to much going on at once.  So I will have to reared that and Read over the above statement before answering there.

As for the the latter statement and I already sent a pm to clear up what I meant to some else. But Yes you are right in the face of Contrary evidence it would be foolish to believe something IF it can be proven wrong.  But there is nothing wrong with someone that sticks to there beliefs if that is not the case.



Offline Sethala

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #73 on: July 29, 2014, 12:07:11 PM »
As for the the latter statement and I already sent a pm to clear up what I meant to some else. But Yes you are right in the face of Contrary evidence it would be foolish to believe something IF it can be proven wrong.  But there is nothing wrong with someone that sticks to there beliefs if that is not the case.

Yeah, I figured you would have sent it via PM, but it was something I was curious about too.

However, I do want you to re-read what I said on the null hypothesis.  To put it as succinctly as possible: In the absence of any evidence, disbelief is the default correct choice.  Something's nonexistence is impossible to prove, as there's always a way for anyone who wants to say it can exist to go "But wait, what if..." and such line of reasoning can be continued ad infinitum, as eventually the person claiming something exists can find a place for that something to "hide" where the person claiming it doesn't exist has no way to disprove it.

Offline Chaosfox

Re: What Are Your Impressions of Atheism
« Reply #74 on: July 29, 2014, 12:32:48 PM »
Yeah, I figured you would have sent it via PM, but it was something I was curious about too.

However, I do want you to re-read what I said on the null hypothesis.  To put it as succinctly as possible: In the absence of any evidence, disbelief is the default correct choice.  Something's nonexistence is impossible to prove, as there's always a way for anyone who wants to say it can exist to go "But wait, what if..." and such line of reasoning can be continued ad infinitum, as eventually the person claiming something exists can find a place for that something to "hide" where the person claiming it doesn't exist has no way to disprove it.

I do see your point but that does not mean that disbelief is correct choice. You might think I am being illogical but that is your choice. It was as you said earlier I have had my own experiences in my life that to me say that there is something out there I a God and you are right  I can not use that to prove that he exist to someone else.  But tie this to what the thread is about I have no problem with Atheist. In fact I usually enjoy talking with Atheist more then I do other Christians because of I see my belief in God a a spiritual thing and less a religious thing. I actually don't like most churches I have been to in my life though that is also due to the fact most churches would probably throw me out if they knew who I was (IE I am pansexule and have been in relationships with both men and women in my life).  As I did say though I do see your point and I feel a bit stupid for not seeing it earlier (I Really need to read things more thoroughly),