Is Any Form Of Atheism Rationally Justifiable?

Definition of God:   First cause, prime mover, objective source of human purpose (final cause) and resulting morality, source of free will; omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent inasmuch as principles of logic allow. I am not talking in particular about any specifically defined religious interpretation of god, such as the christian or islamic god.

Definition: Intellectual dishonesty occurs when (1)one deliberately mischaracterizes their position or view in order to avoid having to logically defend their actual views; and/or (2) when someone is arguing, or making statements against a position while remaining willfully ignorant about that position, and/or (3) when someone categorically and/or pejoratively dismisses all existent and/or potential evidence in favor of a conclusion they claim to be neutral about, whether they are familiar with that evidence or not.

The argument against weak atheism:

Weak, or negative atheism is the lack of any belief that a god exists, and the lack of belief that god probably exists, and is not the positive belief that gods do not exist.

The following is a brief summary of the evidence for a general finding that a god of some kind exists, even if variantly interpreted or culturally contextualized (one can generally look up these arguments and evidences using google or bing):

1) Anecdotal evidence for the apparently intelligently ordered anomalous, miraculous (defying expected natural processes and probabilities) events attributed to god, such as signs or answers to prayers to god, or the ability to manifest or positively affirm such events through free will intention;

2) Testimonial evidence (first-hand accounts) of experience of such phenomena

3) The various Cosmological Arguments for the existence of god

4) The Strong Anthropic (or Fine Tuning) argument

5) The empirical, scientific evidence assembled in the strong anthropic argument in #4;

6) The Moral Arguments for the existence of god.

7) Empirical and testimonial evidence of phenomena closely correlated to the existence of a god of some sort, such as the survival of consciousness after death, and the existence of an afterlife realm, and the apparent agreement of afterlife entities that a god and human purpose exist; the evidence for interactions with correlated entities such as angels and demons (which seem to act to influence our free will towards or away from our human purpose), etc.

While the various arguments listed (all of which, to some degree, begin with empirical evidence) have been subject to counter-arguments and rebuttals of varying strengths and weaknesses, one must not lose sight that while there is much evidence (as listed above) in favor of the existence of god; there is zero evidence (to my knowledge) or rational argument (to my knowledge) that no such god (as defined above) exists.

[Note: One may argue that the Christian god doesn’t exist because of certain contradictions contained in the expressed nature and actions of that entity (or of the Islamic god); and there are such arguments – but this thread is not about such gods, so please adhere to the stated premise.]

The rebuttals to these argument are simply attempting to show weaknesses or alternatives to the arguments themselves so that such arguments cannot be taken as convincing (that god exists); such counter-arguments do not make the case that god (as described above) in fact does not exist.

Also, the testimony of religious adherents of various specific gods can be counted as evidence of the god premised in this argument in the manner that various various cultures can vary widely in their description of certain phenomena or experiences, and come up with widely variant “explanations”; what is interesting as evidence here, though, is the widespread crediting of similar kinds of phenomena and experience to a “god” of some sort (which might be the case of blind or ignorant people touching different parts of an elephant and thus describing “what the elephant is” in various ways). Such testimonial evidence can be counted in favor of the premise here, but cannot be held against it where it varies, because it is not testimony that such a god doesn’t exist.

If a “weak atheist” claims to “lack of belief” because there is “no” evidence for god, they are necessarily being intellectually dishonest, because they certainly aren’t privy to all potential or available evidence. They cannot claim to not know of the evidence for god after having perused the above evidence.

If the “weak atheist” is not aware of any compelling evidence, then any categorical claim they make about the available evidence they are not privy to – that it is not credible or convincing – is again intellectually dishonest because they are making a categorical claim about something they have no knowledge of.

If we have a weak atheist who is aware of the existence of the above evidence and agrees that there might be more evidence they are not privy to; and who does not categorically assert problems with the evidence they have not yet seen; and who does not categorically dismiss the available evidence as “non-evidence” (such as: hypocritically accepting testimonial evidence as evidence when it supports what they already believe, but dismissing it when it supports the existence of god) but rather states that the available evidence they have seen is not compelling towards a conclusion that god exists; then one must ask the following:

In the face of such huge amounts of evidence – thousands of years of testimony and anecdotal stories; many sound arguments based on empirical evidence and apparently necessary logical premises and inferences; and the complete lack of any attempt to make a sound argument that god (as described above) in fact does not exist – one must ask: how can any intellectually honest person come to any conclusion other than that god probably exists, even if god is poorly and diversely defined, and even if the experience of god is open to interpretation and misunderstanding?

As an analogy: even if one has never personally experienced “love”; in the face of thousands of years of testimony and anecdotal stories that love exists, and empirical evidence supporting that certain physical states correspond to assertions of experiences of love, would it be intellectually honest to “lack belief” that love exists, or would it be intellectually honest to hold the view that even though one doesn’t experience love (or using the same argument, color, joy, dreams, etc.), that love probably exists – even if people are widely disparate in their explanation, description, or presentation of what love is?

That I am aware of, there is zero evidence, no argument, and no anecdotal or testimonial evidence that god does not exist (because lack of experience of a thing isn’t evidence the thing doesn’t exist), and there is a vast array of logical, anecdotal, testimonial and empirical evidence that god does exist.

Even if one doesn’t find that evidence compelling for for a final conclusion that god exists, it is at least, if one is intellectually honest, compelling to the point that when one weighs the balance of the evidence for and against, that one must admit that it is more probable that god exists that that god does not exist, which cannot be said to be an atheistic point of view at all.

The argument against strong atheism:

Strong atheism is defined as the assertion that no god or gods exist whatsoever.

First, it is obvious that strong atheism cannot be logically supported, simply because it is impossible to prove (not in the absolute sense, but in the “sufficient evidence” sense). There may be evidence that certain gods, or kinds of gods, do not exist; but there is certainly no evidence or argument (that I’m aware of, anyway) that no significant, meaningful god or gods whatsoever exist.

Instead, strong atheists usually attempt to shift the burden onto theist by essentially asking the theists to prove the atheist position wrong. However, that is not the theists’ burden.

Strong atheism is a sweeping, categorical, negative assertion that something does not exist at all, anywhere. However unlikely one fineds it, it might be true that a god of some sort exists, so the strong atheist position would be excluding a potentially true explanation from consideration unnecessarily.

What is the useful point of a metaphysical position that excludes a potentially true explanation from consideration? What does strong atheism bring to the table of debate other than the potential for intractable error and denial of potential truth for the sake of a sweeping, unsupportable, universally negative assertion?

Conclusion: atheism of any sort is an untenable position for any intellectually honest, rational, and informed person. The belief that god does not exist, or that it isn’t more likely that god exists than not, can only be a valid position based on ignorance of the available evidence and argument for god, or a pseudoskeptical, a priori dismissal of all of the evidence for god based on ideological bias.

 

(Reposted here from a post I previously made under another name, in another forum, with a few minor edits and additions.)

501 thoughts on “Is Any Form Of Atheism Rationally Justifiable?

  1. “If A can exist, but had no beginning, then why can’t B, which also exists, require a beginning?

     

    Do you understand the question?”

     

    I think I understand.

     

    What I am saying is that A existing without a beginning contradicts the assertion that nothing can exist without a beginning. In fact it supports the assertion that it is possible to exist without a beginning.

    Having conceded that things can exist without a beginning, one does not get to put one’s pet sky fairy on a pedestal as unique in that regard. 

    It is just as rational to accept the possibility that all things exist without beginning or cause as the converse. 

    Obviously the universe within our purview changes and has not always looked as it does now, but our universe is embedded in some more encompassing order of existence.

  2. Uh, I don’t follow that. The universe as we know it had a beginning. What preciptated our universe isn’t known, but nonetheless there was a beginning. Everything in it started at some point.

    The problem here is, there is no comfortable origin for gods. They can’t have been caused (by what?), they can’t have had beginnings. They are imaginary. So the assertion must be made that they have no causes (except in the imagination), and have always existed (at least since childhood indoctrination).

    So the claim that if WJM’s god had no beginning this rules out the necessity of beginnings, is a silly argument. WJM’s god BEGAN when he first started believing in it. It will end when he either wises up, or dies.

    As soon as you start treating WJM’s imaginary god as worth arguing about, you’re barking up the wrong tree and all meaning is lost. If we wish to examine the history of our universe, that’s an entirely different thread and has nothing to do with William’s difficulties with sanity.     

  3. I’m not arguing about William’s god. I’m arguing the point that the cosmological argument is self contradictory. It’s not just WJM’s argument. It’s been around for centuries and has an entirely undeserved following.

    It basically says that I get to break the infinite regress of causation simply by asserting there is a sky fairy that is uncaused. 

    Perhaps the depth of dumbth slips under your radar. 

    My point is that such and uncaused cause is the black swan. One black swan and you can’t say all swans are white.

    One uncaused cause and you can’t say all things except my special friend are caused. It’s so effing stupid and dishonest I can’t believe anyone would defend it on the internet.

  4. I like this summation by Alvin Plantinga. Convinced as he is of God, still he respects the necessary limitations of the argument, either for or against.

    Theism, Atheism, and Rationality

    Obviously enough, the dispute here is ultimately ontological, or theological, or metaphysical; here we see the ontological and ultimately religious roots of epistemological discussions of rationality. What you take to be rational, at least in the sense in question, depends upon your metaphysical and religious stance. It depends upon your philosophical anthropology. Your view as to what sort of creature a human being is will determine, in whole or in part, your views as to what is rational or irrational for human beings to believe; this view will determine what you take to be natural, or normal, or healthy, with respect to belief. So the dispute as to who is rational and who is irrational here can’t be settled just by attending to epistemological considerations; it is fundamentally not an epistemological dispute, but an ontological or theological dispute. How can we tell what it is healthy for human beings to believe unless we know or have some idea about what sort of creature a human being is? If you think he is created by God in the image of God, and created with a natural tendency to see God’s hand in the world about us, a natural tendency to recognize that he has been created and is beholden to his creator, owing his worship and allegiance, then of course you will not think of belief in God as a manifestation of wishful thinking or as any kind of defect at all. It is then much more like sense perception or memory, though in some ways much more important. On the other hand, if you think of a human being as the product of blind evolutionary forces, if you think there is no God and that human beings are part of a godless universe, then you will be inclined to accept a view according to which belief in God is a sort of disease or dysfunction, due perhaps, to a sort of softening of the brain.

    So the dispute as to who is healthy and who diseased has ontological or theological roots, and is finally to be settled, if at all at that level.

  5. Translated, that means that theists assume their conclusions, and people who don’t see the emperor’s clothes  assume theirs.

  6. I confess, I don’t see much difference between invoking magical sky-fairies to stop infinite regress, and invoking them for any other reason. It’s still childish, dishonest, and stupid.

    But that sort of “argument” underlies the entire ID position – you get to Make Shit Up, to ASSERT whatever you need, and anyone who protests you simply badmouth. What you make up need not be sensible, consistent, even sane. It only needs to be swallowed by those as deluded as you are. And there seems to be no shortage of them, and no limit to the dumbth.  

  7. And since the theists have no alternative but to assume their conclusions (there being no other basis for them), it’s understandable that they think everyone else must be doing the same thing. Just like they think atheism is a belief, because that’s all they know. Just like they think OOL and the Big Bang are both evolution, since in their model these are all the same atomic event.

  8. To make a positive claim for something, one must be specific and precise in those claims.  What is it that you’re actually claiming?  If your statements are fuzzy, lack specificity, and can’t be pinned down to any tangible facts, then you are really making no claim at all.

    William starts right off the bat making his claims impossible to pin down, with his initial caveat:  I am not talking in particular about any specifically defined religious interpretation of god, such as the christian or islamic god.

    You’re actually talking about nothing, William, since you refuse to specify anything.  But this seems to be par for the course among religious apologists.  The more ambiguous you can make your arguments, the less likely you are to have them falsified. 

    And you call atheists intellectually dishonest!  :[

  9. The very concept of believing in gods remains somehow just beyond my grasp. Are these people serious? What ARE they thinking? The only explanation I’ve ever found that makes sense, involves the sheer plasticity of the infant brain. Religious belief seems like a sort of addiction, something physiologically wired into permanent pathology.

    I generally think of people like William as being permanent victims of demented parents, and living illustrations of the learning-resistance age lends to the human brain. I started trying to learn a new musical instrument (guitar, and jazz no less) at age 62, and it sure is different from learning at age 10.  Imagine the difficulties I’d face if I were convinced that NOT learning was the only sane view. No wonder William can’t learn.

  10. petrushka,

    My apologies as that whole comment about “exist without a beginning”, was really meant for WJM.

    I just quoted you because I think we are in total agreement on this point and I wanted WJM to see that.

    Again, my apologies for the confusion.

     

     

  11. WJM 15 minutes ago:

    “Evidence has little to nothing to do with whether or not most people are theists or atheists, nor should it have much to do with it.”  (My emphasis.)

    WJM now:

    “In the face of such huge amounts of evidence – thousands of years of testimony and anecdotal stories; many sound arguments based on empirical evidence and apparently necessary logical premises and inferences…one must ask: how can any intellectually honest person come to any conclusion other than that god probably exists, even if god is poorly and diversely defined, and even if the experience of god is open to interpretation and misunderstanding?” 

    Consistency, apparently, has little to do with it either.  

  12. I understand you are ploughing a lonely furrow here, William, but if you get chance to respond to my question:

    For the sake of argument, presume they are not [being intellectually dishonest]. Would you grant to anyone else the same rights of intellectual freedom that you enjoy, had you the power to decide?

    I’d appreciate it.

    I’d also like to know why it would depend whether you thought someone honest before you were prepared to extend them the same freedom of expression you enjoy?

     

  13. First, I don’t hold that all of my beliefs are rationally supportable; therefore, when asked, I am intellectually honest when I respond that I hold such beliefs as conveniences or in a proactive sense, not because I actually consider what the belief is about to be factual, true, or real; nor can I rationally support them.  For example, I believe (which means, in this context, to act as if true) that everything which occurs, occurs in my best interest, but I certainly cannot support such a belief via argument or evidence. It is a proactive, creative belief.

    I hold those beliefs in more of a proactive sense, not in a reactive sense. In many cases, I believe what I want to be true, not what available evidence supports, because I want to create my existence, not exist as the victim of it.

    In that sense, everyone is entirely free to believe whatever they want.  They are entirely free to believe that “there is no god” if they wish, but when challenged by the evidence, to claim as if true, or as if fact, that “there is no evidence”, they are being intellectually dishonest.

    For example, if I am presented with evidence that everything does not happen in my best interests, I readily admit that I hold my beliefs in spite of such evidence – I don’t try to claim that such evidence is invalid, or doesn’t exist.  That would be intellectually dishonest of me.

    If one holds beliefs that run contradictory to the prevailing evidence, they should simply admit their beliefs are not evidence-based, instead of dishonestly and hypocritically sorting evidence in a convenient and self-serving manner.

  14. I fail to see how one statement is not consistent with the other.  That evidence exists for god in quantity and quality sufficient to make denial of that probability based on evidence intellectually dishonest, has nothing to do with why one should believe in god.

    IOW, that there is sufficient evidence to warrant a rational belief in god doesn’t mean that is the reason one should believe in god.

    One should believe in god because of the ultimate ramifications of atheism, not because there is sufficient evidence.

  15. WJM is an atheist with respect to all but one of those gods.

    Not really. I believe there are many existent entities that humans can and have reasonably referred to as “gods”, but the god I refer to is that which is ontologically, epistemologically, logically, and ethically necessary to a consistent and coherent existential framework and worldview.

  16. William, two things:

    1) Several posts have demonstrated why your so-called evidence is questionable at best and why it isn’t all that valid for evaluating, never mind accepting, that your version of god (let alone any other version) exists. That you keep insisting that all evidence needs to be evaluated in a vacuum and that the evidence is still evidence regardless of whether it’s been refuted doesn’t make it so.

    2) You keep repeating the claim that atheism has horrid ramifications, yet you have yet to explain a) what they are and b) how you arrived at this conclusion or how it’s substantiated.

  17. Why is causeless cause better than ‘infinite regress’? They BOTH require infinite time.

    Not to produce any effect, which is the important aspect under consideration – sufficient cause.  Infinite regress never produces sufficient cause, because there is a neverending sequence of prior causes going back infinitely.  Although a causeless cause exists in infinite time, it produces local, sufficient cause that doesn’t require an endless sequence of causes.

  18. Not really. I believe there are many existent entities that humans can and have reasonably referred to as “gods”, but the god I refer to is that which is a similar extent entity that I believe is ontologically, epistemologically, logically, and ethically necessary to a what I consider to be a consistent and coherent existential framework and worldview.

    There…FTFY William. YW! HAND!

  19. IOW, it isn’t infinite time that is an incoherent concept, but rather infinite regress of causation that is logically incoherent.

  20. WJM: Infinite regress never produces sufficient cause, because there is a neverending sequence of prior causes going back infinitely.

    William, this is just an assertion without substantiation. Do you have some evidence that a never-ending sequence of prior causes can not produce sufficient cause or is this just your belief?

  21. One should believe in god because of the ultimate ramifications of atheism, not because there is sufficient evidence.

    William, you can find out about the ramifications of atheism by studying the societies with the highest rates of it (invariably “first world”) and comparing them to the societies with the lowest rates of it (invariably “third world”). You could also look up studies of non-believers in your own country, and find out interesting things about them.

    What, in your mind, is wrong with having a higher I.Q. than average, better educational achievements than average, earning more than average, and having a lower crime rate than average? Why are you frightened of America’s inevitable non-religious future?

    But of course, it’s your philosophy to believe what you desire to believe, so atheism must have some sinister ramifications in the WJM world, mustn’t it?

    Have you attempted to falsify the theory that life is a prerequisite for all intelligence yet? Without doing this, your claim that there’s no positive evidence to support atheism remains entirely unsupported.

  22. IOW, it isn’t infinite time that is an incoherent concept, but rather infinite regress of causation that is logically incoherent.

    So is claiming that somethings require a cause and others don’t, or that some things have a beginning and others don’t. The claim that god is exempt from logic is incoherent, or ad hoc, or insane.

    If you want to assert that god and existence are the same thing, that’s unarguable, and also vacuous.

  23. If, as physicists tell us, time is coexistent with space, how can it be possible to speak of a time-dependent phenomenon such as “cause” separately from the existence of the Universe? (It is, after all, essential that the cause precede the effect.)

    The ‘first cause’ argument seems to be extending an assumption – namely that all effects, including the Universe itself, must have a cause – beyond its breaking point.

  24. I don’t know about breaking points, but the ad hoc assertion that one’s pet entity is exempt from the rules established for every one else’s entities is just plain old intellectual dishonesty.

    It’s much more honest and consistent with physics to abandon the billiard ball metaphor for causation and admit we don’t know about “final” causes.

     

    We could say that some events do not require causes, and we have experimental results to support this, but we really don’t know.

  25. Well, I know a great deal about “final causes”. For example, I’m confident that my final cause will be whatever kills me…

  26. the ad hoc assertion that one’s pet entity is exempt from the rules established for every one else’s entities is just plain old intellectual dishonesty.

    Yes of course, but it is absolutely essential dishonesty if the entire convoluted theological structure is to be propped up. WJM’s god not only has to have no beginning and no cause, but it has to be able to lift a rock it created to be so heavy it can’t lift it! Making Stuff Up is fun! It’s like playing tennis without the net, the rackets, the balls, or any fixed rules. You can’t lose. And some people can’t even get out of the game.

  27. One should believe in god because of the ultimate ramifications of atheism

    WJM,
    I couldn’t disagree more. Truth is said to be true because its nature is logically consistent by means of coherence, correspondence, recursive satisfaction, etc. The consequences of what Truth asserts are not germane to the claim’s validity.

    Yet if I were to accept your justification of Truth, I could just as easily corrupt it. Using your logic, one should believe the Christian God because the ultimate ramifications apply equally to atheists and non-Christian theists. Simultaneously, one should also believe any and every religion wherein the ramifications pose some ultimate threat and/or reward.

    Worse yet, one could argue that the very nature of theism will logically, ultimately lead to one inescapable conclusion — suicide (why prolong the inevitable end?) — with the same unfair and unrealistic pessimism that you used in your caricature of atheism.

    Finally, for all the lamenting over Darwinism, Materialism, and Scientism, ID proponents seem to value Truth more than Faith — meaning the theological/metaphysical core of ID is the same as philosophies it opposes.

  28. I couldn’t disagree more. Truth is said to be true because its nature is logically consistent by means of coherence, correspondence, recursive satisfaction, etc. The consequences of what Truth asserts are not germane to the claim’s validity.

    There are some things that cannot be “said to be true” because of those means, but rather must be accepted as true because they are necessary to provide such means by which everything else can be determined to be true or not. The axioms of logic are examples of such necessarily-accepted fundamental premises, because without them, there is no means by which to determine the truth of other things.

    What most atheists do not realize is that theism is just such a necessary premise. Like logical axioms, whether theism is true or not is irrelevant; it must be accepted as true in order to form a basis for all other truth-determinations.  Unless mind is real, formal, and uncaused by the material world, it cannot logically be a truth-discerner; it is just a biological computer/processor.  In that case, truth has nothing to do with what it produces; truth is just a term it produces in relation to output that may or may not be “true” in the formal sense.

    Not only must mind be uncaused by the material world; the material world must be caused by the mind, or else there is no reason to expect the material world to conform to logic, or for the mind and the world to be correlational.

    Because atheists intellectually dispense with necessary theism doesn’t mean they aren’t operating off of principles that require a god to be valid; they just don’t admit, or don’t realize, that theism is a necessary premise for those principles.  They expect the physical world to conform to logic and formal principles; they utilize formal concepts as if they are real; they live and argue and think by formal ideas as if they are real; the apply them to science as if they are real; but hold onto a philosophy that denies their necessary reality and necessary independence of physical causation.

    Such evidence is displayed in every post where they hold others responsible for what they think and post, and do and do not understand, as if such individuals are something other than collections of molecules reacting as they must (or as chance allows), as if formal concepts like truth and responsibility and logic are not just happenstance computational outputs generated by biological computers cannot “mean” anything more than whatever each computational output says.

    Atheism/materialism destroys the validity of formal logic and thus formal truth-discernment, replacing it with happenstance semantic output by biological computers, and provides no grounds by which anyone can reasonably expect to be able to discern true statements about the world.

    That doesn’t mean that atheists/materialists are not successful at discerning many true statements about the world; it just means they’re bad philosophers and don’t realize they are relying on theistic/dualistic formalisms to do so.

  29. That’s an interesting post, William.

    I think it is utterly wrong, but I’ll say why later :)

  30. I think it is utterly wrong, but I’ll say why later.

    Unless you accept the real, formal nature of mind as independent of physical causation, the best you can do is say:

    “Later the physical computational system that is referred to as “I” will produce some output that will semantically contradict your output above, but since formal concepts (like truth, validity, right and wrong) are nothing more than what interacting molecules in any system happen to produce, both your output and my output are necessarily equally valid.”

    And even that wouldn’t be a coherent statement without accepting formal concepts as necessarily real.

  31. Even if the material world is caused by some “mind” it does not follow that the “mind” is God’s.

  32. Since we cannot assume solipsism or a competing-minds theory about how the material world is structured (because such assumptions lapse into incoherency), we must assume that the physical existence we all share was generated and is maintained by one real, formal mind. Since we must assume our minds are free of causation (did not begin, cannot be caused), then we must also assume so-called “individual” minds are aspects of that one mind, like waves on the ocean.

    Also, this would follow with many spiritual philosophies about how humans are children of god, or made in the likeness of god, and some that even position humans as aspects of god, willingly lost in the world of maya (illusion).

  33. we must assume that the physical existence we all share was generated and is maintained by one real, formal mind

    And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind. And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind. And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind. And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind. And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind. And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind. And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind. And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind. And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind. And presumably that one, real formal mind is also but an aspect of a greater mind of which that individual mind is but an aspect of that other greater mind.

  34. William,

    I agree but what I am saying is we do not have to assume that one mind is God. That one mind may not have anything to do with eternal salvation nor redemption. 

  35. “We are to admit no more causes of natural things than such as are both true and sufficient to explain their appearances.”- Sir Isaac Newton

  36. Joe G,

    William,

    I agree but what I am saying is we do not have to assume that one mind is God. That one mind may not have anything to do with eternal salvation nor redemption.

    You are right Joe, that there need not be any connection between a “cause” of the universe and what William feels is the “mind” that gave humans “a common purpose”.

    Your problem, like ours, is to convince a person like William who “chooses” what to believe regardless of evidence.

    Many have tried and failed and so I hope you can come up with an argument he’ll actually listen to.

     

     

  37. I think that one can reasonably call a transcendent mind that created the universe and maintains the lawful (rational) order thereof “god”, whether it meets any other criteria or not (or if there is spirit or soul above that). My definition of god in the O.P. was to strip the concept down to the bare logical necessities.

    IOW, however one feels about salvation and redemption, theism is necessary (and god a reasonable term to apply) in the case of mind (as per formal concepts and the need to employ them).  Atheism/materialism simply will not justify the use of formal concepts like truth, validity, right and wrong, etc., and ultimately self-destructs philosophically.

  38. William J Murray,

    William J Murray:  “I think that one can reasonably call a transcendent mind that created the universe and maintains the lawful (rational) order thereof “god”, whether it meets any other criteria or not (or if there is spirit or soul above that).”

    The point is that if the universe needed to be created, there is absolutely nothing that prevents those creation tasks from being carried out by more than one entity.

    As soon as you allow for an entity to “exist”, (not necessarily to also begin), without a cause, you have made a claim that it could actually happen.

    Any number of entities could thus also “exist”, provided they never “began”, under the exact same set of conditions as your single entity.

    Not all of them have to even be involved with creation events.

    While creation may be attributed to them, there is no indication that anything else, like “purpose”, can also attributed to them.

     

  39. William
     

    Atheism/materialism simply will not justify the use of formal concepts like truth, validity, right and wrong, etc., and ultimately self-destructs philosophically.

    Except that’s simply not true, as can be demonstrated with actual data!

    “According to Gallup data for 2010, the happiest nations were Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and the Netherlands. These are among the least religious countries in the world. Also according to Gallup data, Sweden, Denmark and Norway were the second, third, and fourth least religious states, being exceeded only by Estonia in their atheism.”

    http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201102/does-religion-make-people-happier
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xOSIY0xhfeE&feature=related

    Could you let me know when you expect Denmark to self destruct philosophically? As they seem to be going exactly the opposite way that you think they should. How do you explain this? I’m quite sure they have right and wrong in Denmark!

    So your claim has been shown to be wrong. Move on.  

  40. Except that’s simply not true, as can be demonstrated with actual data!

    Whether or not someone is happy has nothing to do with whether or not their belief system is rationally coherent and sound.  By “self-destruct philosophically”, I didn’t mean that the people who believe such things will be unhappy or unproductive in the world.  I mean that upon rational examination, their philosophy is logically incoherent and unsupportable.

    Also, as I’ve already pointed out, because someone identifies him- or herself as an atheist and/or a materialist doesn’t mean they live their lives as if those concepts are true; in fact, they cannot. Everyone lives as if free will as an ultimate (not proximate) cause exists, and as if formal concepts are existentially real (and not just materially caused thoughts/feelings).

     

     

  41. Whether or not someone is happy has nothing to do with whether or not their belief system is rationally coherent and sound.

    And yet that seems to be disproved by the evidence at hand. Those atheists have rejected religion and are happier for it. They have rejected one system, religion, in favour of another that is rationally coherent and sound as people don’t typically exchange one system for a worse one, do they?

    By “self-destruct philosophically”, I didn’t mean that the people who believe such things will be unhappy or unproductive in the world.

    That’s right, because even you can’t begin to make that case can you?

    I mean that upon rational examination, their philosophy is logically incoherent and unsupportable.

    Then why do you suppose they rejected religion in favour of something that is logically incoherent and unsupportable? As that’s exactly what they did!

    Also, as I’ve already pointed out, because someone identifies him- or herself as an atheist and/or a materialist doesn’t mean they live their lives as if those concepts are true; in fact, they cannot.

    You state that like it’s a fact, but it’s just a claim.

    Everyone lives as if free will as an ultimate (not proximate) cause exists, and as if formal concepts are existentially real (and not just materially caused thoughts/feelings).

    So? Please explain why if religion is rational people are replacing it with irrationality? Where is the benefit for them?

  42. WJM: There are some things that cannot be “said to be true” because of those means, but rather must be accepted as true because they are necessary to provide such means by which everything else can be determined to be true or not.

    You are confusing statements of method with statements about reality.

    What most atheists do not realize is that theism is just such a necessary premise.

    That’s absurd.  Theism is not a method.  It claims to be statements about reality, though perhaps an unobserved and unobservable reality.

    Like logical axioms, whether theism is true or not is irrelevant;

    What is important for logic, is whether it works (as a method).

    Unless mind is real, formal, and uncaused by the material world, it cannot logically be a truth-discerner; it is just a biological computer/processor.

    That’s absurd.  “Mind” is a metaphor that we use in some of our discussions.  It is neither real nor formal, because it is merely an abstraction, a useful fiction.

    Not only must mind be uncaused by the material world; the material world must be caused by the mind, or else there is no reason to expect the material world to conform to logic, or for the mind and the world to be correlational.

    That sounds a bit like Berkeley’s idealism or even solipsism.

    I guess I will take WJM to be living in an imaginary world that has been invented by the useful fiction that he calls his mind.

    Of course there is no reason to expect the material world to conform to logic.  It doesn’t.  Logic doesn’t say anything about the real world.  Logic is about statements (such as descriptions), not about reality.  And our statements about the real world conform to logic just as long as we construct those statements so that they conform to logic.  No magic is required and no theism is required.

    Because atheists intellectually dispense with necessary theism doesn’t mean they aren’t operating off of principles that require a god to be valid; they just don’t admit, or don’t realize, that theism is a necessary premise for those principles.

    I suggest that you climb out of that imaginary solipsistic world that you have created in your imaginary mind, and look around to see how things actually work.

    They expect the physical world to conform to logic and formal principles;

    No, I have no such expectation.  I have no doubt whatsoever that the world manages to do whatever it does without any respect to logic or formal principles.

    they utilize formal concepts as if they are real; they live and argue and think by formal ideas as if they are real;

    Perhaps a casual observer might think that I do mathematics as if the mathematical concepts were real.  However, I am well aware that they are not.  Most mathematicians will readily tell you that mathematics is not about reality.

    the apply them to science as if they are real;

    Perhaps it is not obvious to a causal observer.  However, when mathematicians and scientists apply mathematics, they first create a mathematical model of the aspect of reality that they are studying.  Then they apply the mathematics to that mathematical model.  Then they attempt to apply conclusions in their model back to reality.  They are usually aware that this is not certain to work.  Zeno’s paradoxes are cases where that fails spectacularly.

    That doesn’t mean that atheists/materialists are not successful at discerning many true statements about the world; it just means they’re bad philosophers and don’t realize they are relying on theistic/dualistic formalisms to do so.

    If philosophy depends on the assumptions that you are making, then I am proud to be a bad philosopher.  In fact, I would say that all of science depends on that kind of bad philosophy.  Down with good (i.e. nonsensical) philosophy.  Viva bad philosophy.

  43. That doesn’t mean that atheists/materialists are not successful at discerning many true statements about the world; it just means they’re bad philosophers and don’t realize they are relying on theistic/dualistic formalisms to do so.

    If that’s the case you’d think William would have no problem producing just *one* novel insight that his worldview uniquely can provide that silly atheists or Darwinisms can’t. Yet he can’t. So he’s claims of holding the worldview he does because it is more productive then alternatives is just that, a claim.

  44. And yet that seems to be disproved by the evidence at hand.

    It’s not evidence for or against anything I’ve said or claimed.

  45. You are confusing statements of method with statements about reality.

    No, I’m pointing out that “statements about method” are either assumed to be built upon statements about reality (even if unspoken), or they can be and should be summarily dismissed as the meaningless chance noise generated by the happenstance bumping of material molecules.

  46. William J Murray,

    As soon as you allow for an entity to “exist”, (not necessarily to also begin), without a cause, you have made a claim that this could actually happen.

    Any number of entities could thus also “exist”, provided they never “began”, under the exact same set of conditions as your single entity.

    How do you allow for multiple gods in your scenario, since according to the rules of “existence” for gods, nothing can exist before them to prohibit the existence of any other?

     

  47. William J Murray,

    William J Murray: “Atheism/materialism simply will not justify the use of formal concepts like truth, validity, right and wrong, etc., and ultimately self-destructs philosophically.”

    Who cares if it “self-destructs philosophically” provided it doesn’t “self-destruct practically”?

    If an “atheistic philosophy” allows me to function better in this world than a “theistic philosophy”, why would I choose a theistic one?

     

  48. WJM: Whether or not someone is happy has nothing to do with whether or not their belief system is rationally coherent and sound.  By “self-destruct philosophically”, I didn’t mean that the people who believe such things will be unhappy or unproductive in the world.  I mean that upon rational examination, their philosophy is logically incoherent and unsupportable.

    It’s funny then that after all this time and so many posts you still have yet to…you know…actually apply said “rational examination” and demonstrate this claim of logical incoherence and philosophical collapse. Even more odd is the fact that throughout all of these unsubstantiated claims and protestations, you’ve yet to tackle even one positive claim for atheism and attempt to rebut it. I mean…if such views are supposed to collapse under their own weight – philosophically speaking of course – it should be a minor exercise to push it over the edge by example. Ahh…but empty, unsupported claims are just so  much easier to make I suppose… (rolls eyes)

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