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Author Topic: Ask an Atheist Anything  (Read 3411 times)

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Offline Farmboy

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #25 on: March 10, 2010, 07:48:34 PM »
I don't believe there is such a thing as a burden of DISproof. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but the person who makes the assertion has the burden. The one who asks for the proof has no obligation to prove that a proof is required.
« Last Edit: March 10, 2010, 07:49:36 PM by Aislin »

Offline mannik

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #26 on: March 10, 2010, 09:21:32 PM »
I don't believe there is such a thing as a burden of DISproof. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but the person who makes the assertion has the burden. The one who asks for the proof has no obligation to prove that a proof is required.

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence....as my science teacher used to say. That goes both ways. If I walk up to the Jahova witnesses down the street and say, "There is no god!" I will be required to prove that claim, the same thing occurs when they come to my door shouting "God exists!" (Which incidently happens far more often) And then it is their responsibility to provide the proof.
 
What needs to be proven is not that something exists or does not exists, but rather the valitity of a given statement.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2010, 12:53:02 AM »
Science does not lean toward God or away from God.  Were science to take a position on the truth, then it would no longer be science.  The discipline of science is one that does not claim to know the answers to question and does not even claim to verify what we “believe” to be true.  All science does is offer a systematic way to understand the observable world around us.  Taking what we know and taking what we observe, science struggles to merge the two into a working theory.  Yet even that can fail and science does not care because it has no bias.

Also it is very presumptive to say that God is unnecessary.  Nobody knows whether God is necessary or not.  Simply stating that if science cannot prove something exists, then it does not exist is rather foolish. 

Offline WhiteyChan

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #28 on: March 11, 2010, 02:32:27 AM »
Science does not lean toward God or away from God.  Were science to take a position on the truth, then it would no longer be science.  The discipline of science is one that does not claim to know the answers to question and does not even claim to verify what we “believe” to be true.  All science does is offer a systematic way to understand the observable world around us.  Taking what we know and taking what we observe, science struggles to merge the two into a working theory.  Yet even that can fail and science does not care because it has no bias.

This.

I count myself as an Atheist, and I'm doing a physics degree. From previous arguments, one would therefore assume that I think God, in whatever form or forms S/He takes, does not exist. This is not the case, however. I do not believe in a higher being, a deity per say, but I do think that there is the possibility that one exists. I don't say that I am an Agnostic, because I am sure that I do not believe, and I am sure that there is a slim possibility (note my wording there, I'm sure there is a possibility but not a certainty) that one does exist. Science in its current form - looking at the Standard Model, and explanations for the creation of the universe, have too many holes in them. It is entirely possible that some god at some time decided to create the universe - not in the way explained by religion (eg the 7 Days of Creation), but by putting together the necessary conditions in a singularity, then causing the singularity to expand infinitely (aka the Big Bang).

The thing about me, as a scientist, and probably most other scientists as well, is that if the existence of a god is proved in a logical, scientific manner, then I will just go, "Oh, ok, we were wrong - guess there is a God". I highly doubt that if the existence of a deity is disproved in a logical, scientific manner, then Theists will just go, "Oh, ok, we were wrong - guess there isn't a God". Science always evolves, taking in new discoveries and discarding incorrect ones, always looking for ways to improve on itself. Religion doesn't - and that is one of the main reasons why I am not religious. Among many others, I hasten to add.

Offline StrungintandumTopic starter

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #29 on: March 11, 2010, 11:31:39 AM »
@ pumpkin - Science does not lead to or away from an undefined god, but it certainly provides backing for the disbelief in gods. The process of science and the discoveries it brings provide us with an experience that informs our beliefs. Certainly science provides no experience that leads to a justified belief that lightning bolts come from Thor, or that man was created 6,000 years ago in his current form. I have yet to see any specific god claim that is not either just a rebranding of existance (the God is everything argument) or logically or scientifically without sound premise. It is therefore fine to say that science and logic provide a backing for the disbelief in said god claims. I am not sure what you mean by "lean toward" or "away from", but if you mean to say that science does not provide evidence that discedits specific god claims, I disagree.

@ whiteychan - Being an agnostic only means that you do not know if a god exists or not. Since there is no proof that a being that might be deemed a god does or does not exist, I don't believe anyone can claim that knowledge with authority. I would therefore suggest that we are all of us agnostics whether we believe in a god or not or believe in the possibilty or not. Agnosticism goes to what we know, not what we believe.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #30 on: March 11, 2010, 04:04:51 PM »
That has more to do with your own personal bias than with any thing scientists have done.  Your beliefs regarding God or the belief in gods is tainting how you view science and the results attained.  For instance, your lightning example is completed covered in bias.  Simply because there is an understanding of how lightening works, does not mean there is not an entity absent in determining where the lightening strikes or that perhaps that entity takes a natural occurrence such as lightening to dole out punishment.  Science merely states a theory for how the lightening is made and behaves, but does not postulate a reason for why some people are struck or where the lightening is going to fall.

While you may indeed say that science provides the backdrop for your own arguments, I disagree entirely.  Science has lead me to a deeper feeling that there is a God and that we are struggling to understand what was given to us by that entity.  So where you view science as proof that God does not exist, I view it as proof that God does exist.

Offline StrungintandumTopic starter

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #31 on: March 11, 2010, 04:54:56 PM »
The mythology surrounding Thor in no way meshes with our understanding of how lightning works. I don't see how one can argue that on the one hand we know that lightning is a discharge of electrons from one charged body to another and simultaneously claim that we do not know that it isn't caused by a fully manifesting god from Valhalla literally throwing the electrons from one place to the other. Your suggestion about us not knowing there isn't an entity behind where it strikes does not obsolve the rest of the myth from being demonstrably untrue. I cannot prove that lightning isn't directed by an intelligent force but I can prove that it is not being tossed around by a fully manifested diety in the clouds being pulled around on a chariot by a couple of rams. I cannot prove the a diety didn't create the Earth, but science has done nothing but re-confirm through various methods that it was not created 6,000 years ago. This isn't me being biased, this is parts of the stories themselves being demonstrated as wrong using science. The moon is not actually a wolf and the sun is neither travelling around the Earth nor is it pulled by a horse-drawn chariot.

Also, I never once claimed that science proved there is no god and I do not view science as proof a god does not exist. Actually, I have claimed the opposite on several occasions. What I said was that science and logic disprove certain god claims and that the discoveries made by scientists (as far as I know) in no way contradict the atheist belief. The lack of proof is why I've said time and time again that this subject isn't about what we can and cannot prove but what we believe and why. Atheism is the lack of belief in a god or gods. Because we've found no scientific evidence to suggest such a being exists, it is reasonable to believe that there are no gods. Unlike my examples at the top, you can infact postulate a diety that is logically sound and that we have no way to disprove its existence but the unfalsifyable god has just as reasonable as the idea that the universe was created by unicorn farts. All unfalsifyable claims have equal validity so if you're going to accept one such claim you cannot have logical reason to reject any other.

So, my question to you is this, do you believe in a falsifyable diety? If so, what characteristics does this creature posess and what test can we apply to falsify it? If you believe in a god that is not falsifyable, do you also believe in invisible universe creating tyrannisaurus/unicorn cross breeds that play poker? If you do not believe the second unfalsifyable claim, why do you believe the first?

Offline Farmboy

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #32 on: March 11, 2010, 05:22:52 PM »

Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence....as my science teacher used to say. That goes both ways. If I walk up to the Jahova witnesses down the street and say, "There is no god!" I will be required to prove that claim, the same thing occurs when they come to my door shouting "God exists!" (Which incidently happens far more often) And then it is their responsibility to provide the proof.
 
What needs to be proven is not that something exists or does not exists, but rather the valitity of a given statement.

No, I'm talking about the RULE called Burden of Proof, not just seeking opinions. I think that the burden of proof falls to the one who makes an assertion. It's a Logic question. I think the rule is a matter of fact. There is no burden of proof of doubt. Doubt is the default case. If one can not prove that which is subject to doubt, but wishes to continue to believe the unprovable, that is called faith. Faith is basically the escape clause from the burden of proof. That is what separates faith from hope or expectation. In my book, faith is unacceptable. I have an expectation of the fidelity of my spouse, and I am certain she lives up to it, but I've been alive too long to call it faith.

this might help:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophic_burden_of_proof
« Last Edit: March 11, 2010, 05:31:08 PM by Aislin »

Offline Farmboy

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #33 on: March 11, 2010, 05:24:07 PM »
Further, and unrelated to what I wrote above...

I think that the universe is a whole, but I realise that this is due to the language (uni = one) I have spoken for all my life that has shaped my thought. In fact, the universe might be a multiverse, or may be infinite to the extent that it has no boundaries and is therefore undefinable. But I think of it as one, and I think of it as alive, and I think of my "self" as an illusion of separation from this universe which I am a part of. I think of all "self" as superstition.

And I don't believe in the soul, either. The soul was originally a concept used to maintain an elite. Divination was accomplished in ancestor worship societies by contacting a spirit on "the other side" who would posess your body to convey important information about crops and such. Then the priest class came about as those who had this posessing spirit. Eventually, as religion evolved to democratic levels, everyone had a soul. But back in the day of the Emperors of China or the Pharaohs of Egypt, the idea that commoners had such souls would have been ludicrous. That's why you see no such discussion of the soul until the Gnostics.

These are superstitions. People didn't even have standards of argument like logic. They asserted their personal conclusions based on guesswork and used brute force to back up the ideas. Just like monkeys trying to type a speech by Hamlet, once in a while they got a few things right. But mostly, it is debris from a time when "truth" was meted out at the end of a sword, and it must all be re-assessed, in my opinion. I do not allow myself the concept of faith. For me, that would be a cop out.

Offline Pumpkin Seeds

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #34 on: March 11, 2010, 10:58:25 PM »
I assume you refer to whether I must admit that my God and belief system could be wrong?  Of course I have to admit that I could be wrong about the entire situation.  Any time a belief is held, whether about who created the universe or which café has the best coffee, there must be acceptance that the belief can be wrong.  My views on the afterlife, on the soul and on the human condition could be entirely misplaced.  God may be nothing more than a figment of my imagination, a desire for something higher than me.  Yet I do not believe this is so and cannot postulate a definitive argument that would disprove God’s existence to me.  I would like to think that if such a day came to pass, I would accept the truth but obviously cannot say for certain.

Also I do not dispute your ability to make a reasonable claim that God does not exist.  I do not dispute anyone’s claim that many gods exist, that reincarnation is a possibility or that unicorn farts from time before time created the universe.  I do dispute science being a good partner to those claims, because science makes no claims at all.  I do not like watching science become a religion, used to back a belief system rather than understand the observable world.  As was stated before, science is a systematic method of testing a hypothesis.  People do try to force science and religion into conflict, but I do not believe them to be such vile enemies.  At one time it was thought that understanding the world around us would lead to a greater understanding of God.  Like an anthropologist studying the tools of a particular culture to better understand them, we work to unravel God’s creation in order to understand.

Online Doomsday

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #35 on: March 11, 2010, 11:01:49 PM »
Strungintandum, you seem to represent what most atheists don't want. I'm an atheist. I'm not interested in a church of Atheism, or atheists united. I don't think the lack of belief should be a belief in itself. Not all Atheists share a moral code, we're united by nothing.

Offline Farmboy

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #36 on: March 12, 2010, 10:48:00 AM »
The reason why science and religion cause conflicts within the person who wants both is simply that they use different methods. Religion, as the root (religare "to bind") implies, is about attaching one's self to a concept and holding on against all different concepts, while science is supposed to be about not attaching your self to any of the concepts, but rather leaving things open to debate. The threat of "science becoming religion" happens, therefore, when people attach themselves to concepts like the Big Bang Theory. And it is true that the pure scientist doubts the Big Bang Theory, because she must doubt everything. But the pop scientist defends theories as if they are facts, and this is how they tie themselves (religare "to bind") to concepts and thwart the real purpose of science.

Note: some say religare means a binding contract between man and God. And I also have it that Cicero gives the root as relegare, to re-read, but I don't buy that.

Anyhow, I try not to tie myself to things. I try to stay unattached, except by choice. With attachment comes a desire to control, and I struggle with that, so I have to make myself not try to control, and the only way to do that is to let things be. As you can see, then, for me, religion is an error, though spiritual thought is a great pleasure. Big different. I guess I should start a threat called "Ask an a-religio-ist anything"! LOL! :)

Offline Silk

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #37 on: March 12, 2010, 11:40:03 AM »
Well, since you volunteered. As I understand, Atheism not merely lack of belief in a God but a belief that there is no God and no analogous being exists (if I am wrong here, please correct me).

You are wrong here, Atheism is a lack of belief in gods, like how theism is a belief in gods. There are Atheistic religions such as Scientology as there is no god to speak of.

Atheism is as varied as Theism in regards to it, the only link to those is a belief or lack of in a god.

It takes as much faith or belief there is no god is the same ammount to not believe in dragons/faeries/santa/Flying spaggetti monster/Evil monkey in the closet/hobbits/A sane scientologist... None whatso ever

The main cause between scientific and religious dispute is the different methods within the two work. E.g. Creation vs evolution are two contradictory ideas.

What can be proved without evidence can be disproved with equal validity. However much of what was "gods work" in the past has now been explained within natural processes (demon possession = mental illness, gods wraith = earthquakes = Tectonic plate shifts) As mystery shrinks, so does supernatural belief.

"The universe had to be created"
"So who made god?"
"God has always been"
"So can't the universe have always been?"
My general take on the matter, gonna be keeping a eye on this one.

« Last Edit: March 12, 2010, 11:42:28 AM by Silk »

Offline Farmboy

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #38 on: March 12, 2010, 04:23:13 PM »
Hey Strung, they probably won't approve you until you interact on your welcome thread with more people. I think you've got to interact with 3 to 5 mentors before approval, though there doesn't seem to be any hard and fast rule. You should probably go there and answer the outstanding questions they gave you so you can get approved. You'll find there are a lot of different thinking people here. It sounds like you belong here, too. So take some time to answer the questions in your introduction thread. One of the mentors, the one in the long flowing gown, put her questions in light blue. It looks like you didn't see them. You might want to ask for writing prompts, too, if you like to write. That's what I did. The silly questions thing doesn't make sense to me but it seems to be fun for other people, so I asked for writing prompts instead. YMMV

I would have sent this note via PM, but you don't get PMs until you get approved. And I hope you get approved soon.

Good luck, man. :)

Aislin

Offline Vekseid

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #39 on: March 13, 2010, 08:54:24 AM »
I split the more general discussion to this thread, since this seemed to revolve more around Strung's views specifically.

Offline Kate

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #40 on: March 14, 2010, 06:45:55 AM »
pity I thought my post would help a resolution being reached here

Offline Farmboy

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #41 on: March 14, 2010, 12:44:23 PM »
Can I get two of my posts on this thread moved to the discussion on the other thread, please?
2830157
2832287

p.s. Kate, I thought your input was great, but since it's on the other thread, see you there. :)

Offline Silk

Re: Ask an Atheist Anything
« Reply #42 on: March 14, 2010, 09:55:12 PM »
WiseMonkey #3: atheism

This should help sort out the misconceptions about some parts of atheism :)