Are atheists really atheists as they claim?

I’m pretty sure that most knowledgeable people know that someone who claims to be an atheist is just making an overstatement about his/her own beliefs. As most knowledgeable people who claim to be atheist probably know that even the most recognizable  faces  of atheistic propaganda, such as Richard Dawkins, admitted publicly that they are less than 100% certain that God/gods don’t exist.

My question is: Why would anyone who calls himself an atheist make a statement like that?

220 thoughts on “Are atheists really atheists as they claim?”

  1. keithskeiths

    That’s pitiful, colewd.

    You told us:

    Estimation of probabilities are used to eliminate causes that are unlikely or establish causes that are likely.

    When your bluff was called, you couldn’t provide a single probability estimate or even an upper bound.

    It turns out my summary was pretty accurate:

    To summarize your argument:

    1. I, colewd, (really want to) doubt the ability of evolutionary theory to explain the origin of humans.

    2. Therefore evolution has a problem explaining the origin of humans.

    3. Therefore, Jesus the supernatural.

  2. Allan Miller

    colewd,

    My current opinion is that all unique DNA sequences that have new gene sequences and new regulatory sequences require “outside” resources. This thing we call life was a big project

    So vague as to be meaningless.

    Basically the Designer couldn’t design an evolving system, yet fiddled with it almost continually so that it looks like one.

  3. Allan Miller

    colewd,

    Two possibilities on the table are a shared ancestor with Apes if you believe in common descent or a supernatural cause. So one of the possibilities tells us that Keiths is supernatural.

    All of the evidence, meanwhile, points to the former. Realising, of course, that Common Descent on genetic grounds is not about the differences, but about the vast sea of sequence identity in which they sit.

  4. Allan Miller

    Allan Miller,

    not about the differences

    Although, of course, they too can be informative. Is there evidence of transition-transversion bias, for example? Variable rate at synonymous vs nonsynonymous sites? etc etc. None of these ‘evidences’ could be expected in genomes that were not commonly descended.

  5. waltowalto

    colewd: the possible supernatural origin of keiths was at the big bang where the beginning of some of keiths atoms were formed.

    “Possibilities” aren’t generally thought to be anywhere. But if they were there, so also may have been the non-actuality of keiths’s supernatural origin.

    Think of it! One one side the possibilities–on another the non-actualities. Battling it out! Both sides striving with all their might!

  6. Erik

    walto: Think of it! One one side the possibilities–on another the non-actualities. Battling it out! Both sides striving with all their might!

    There’s that actuality vs potentiality divide in Aristotelianism. I always thought of potentiality as possibility. In other words, non-actualities and possibilities would be the same thing, not different things battling it out.

  7. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    Erik: There’s that actuality vs potentiality divide in Aristotelianism. I always thought of potentiality as possibility. In other words, non-actualities and possibilities would be the same thing, not different things battling it out.

    I’ve long been wondering about this. A problem I often pose to my students: “Is a caterpillar a potential butterfly or potential bird-food?” The correct answer is that it’s both, but in different senses. We’re gonna need some distinctions here!

    My conjecture is that potencies or potentiality (dunamis) is real, not a mere logical possibility. And if possibility here means “logical possibility,” then non-actualized potencies are not possibilities after all.

    Whether we think of potencies as dispositions (for non-living systems) or as developmental trajectories (for living systems), they’re going to have some ontological status somehow more rich or more robust than just “what can be tracked by conceivability”. If logical possibility is just “whatever is tracked by conceivability,” then I think that potencies can’t be possibilities strictly speaking, but rather are real non-occurrent dispositions.

    Be that it is may, colewd has given us only mere conjectures without even assigning any prior probabilities to any of the options. It’s almost funny that creationists can’t even distinguish between arguments and explanations, yet whine about “censorship” when they are routinely mocked.

  8. waltowalto

    Erik,

    Kantian Naturalist,

    Boys, boys, I was just making a joke! I will say this about your responses, though: Erik, non-actualities can’t be ‘the same thing’ as possibilities because some ‘non-actualities’ are IMpossibile. And KN, rather than further populate the modal world with an additional county, I’d recommend trying out physical possibilities for the role of your ‘potentialities.’

  9. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    walto: And KN, rather than further populate the modal world with an additional county, I’d recommend trying out physical possibilities for the role of your ‘potentialities.’

    Oh, sure. It’s understanding the difference between physical possibilities and logical possibilities that’s really difficult! Do we need to be metaphysical realists about laws of physics in order to understand what physical possibilities are? Good thing I don’t work in the metaphysics of science!

  10. waltowalto

    Kantian Naturalist: It’s understanding the difference between physical possibilities and logical possibilities that’s really difficult!

    Yes. That’s largely what this thread is about, I think.

  11. colewd

    keiths,

    To summarize your argument:

    1. I, colewd, (really want to) doubt the ability of evolutionary theory to explain the origin of humans.

    2. Therefore evolution has a problem explaining the origin of humans.

    3. Therefore, Jesus the supernatural.

    Small modification.

    1. I believe it is unlikely that there is a fully natural explanation for the origin of keiths.
    2.It may have required resources outside our universe to fully account for his origin.(supernatural)
    3. Therefor a full explanation of keiths origin most likely requires supernatural resources.

  12. dazzdazz

    colewd: 1. I believe it is unlikely that there is a fully natural explanation for the origin of keiths.
    2.It required resources outside our universe to fully account for his origin.(supernatural)
    3. Therefor a full explanation of keiths origin most likely requires supernatural resources.

    What you believe has no bearing on what requires “supernatural resources”. This is a big fat logic fail. Not particularly surprised though

  13. GlenDavidson

    colewd:
    keiths,

    Small modification.

    1. I believe it is unlikely that there is a fully natural explanation for the origin of keiths.
    2.It may have required resources outside our universe to fully account for his origin.(supernatural)
    3. Therefor a full explanation of keiths origin most likely requires supernatural resources.

    At least it’s all about your belief.

    What’s the use of evidence to an IDist anyhow?

    Glen Davidson

  14. waltowalto

    walto: Yes. That’s largely what this thread is about, I think.

    I’m sorry. This is wrong–I was talking about Origenes thread on natural laws, not this one. Not sure at all what this one is about. Everything/nothing, I guess.

  15. keithskeiths

    colewd,

    Why not practice what you preach? You told us:

    Estimation of probabilities are used to eliminate causes that are unlikely or establish causes that are likely.

    Where are your probability estimates?

  16. colewd

    keiths,

    Where are your probability estimates?

    This is a reasonable request that could lead to an interesting discussion but I don’t have time right now to take a worth while shot at this.

  17. PatrickPatrick

    Erik:

    I question your assertion that “Home indoctrination was out of the question”.

    Do you question it or do you dispute it? The latter, I guess. You need more than an assertion for that. You need rigorous definitions, first of all.

    The available evidence documented in the Wikipedia article is that children were still being indoctrinated in to their parents’ religion despite the oppression by the USSR.

    Jews continued to practice in secret even during the Holocaust. I see no reason to think that Christians in the Soviet Union would have behaved differently. The Wikipedia article notes that “Religious beliefs and practices persisted among the majority of the population”.

    So? Religious practices that persist, are they indoctrination? Specifically, are they indoctrination when they are sporadic whereas counter-indoctrination is overwhelming?

    When they are taught to children by authority figures they love before those children are capable of critical thought, it is indoctrination.

    You are nowhere near disputing the fact that religious indoctrination is out of the question in the circumstances of direct persecution. Particularly when the persecution targets sweepingly anything that remotely resembles an instance of religious indoctrination.

    I have no idea what you’re trying to say here.

    That doesn’t follow. Continuing in one’s parents’ religion is the easy and safe choice…

    Yes, easy and safe. But also insufficient according to religious doctrine. Religious doctrine is not a matter of majority layman opinion, but of theological expertise.

    The high rate of people following their parents’ religion strongly suggests that childhood indoctrination is the more likely explanation. It may feel like a conscious choice, but being fed dogma with one’s mother’s milk makes the notion of such a choice being voluntary more than questionable. “Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.”

  18. PatrickPatrick

    Kantian Naturalist:
    . . .
    The first premise, to be correct, would have to be that we only observe human intelligence to be used in creation of codes. That is, if observation is really doing all the work here, then it cannot just be “intelligence” in the abstract. It has to be what human beings actually do when they invent codes. It has to be what Samuel Morse did when he invented Morse code, for example.
    . . .
    To reiterate: we don’t observe “intelligence”. We observe patterns of intelligent behavior, under specific conditions, being carried by specific kinds of beings, to solve certain kinds of problems. Under some conditions, the problem to be solved requires creating a code.

    In the absence of a detailed explanation of how exactly people create codes, the IDist has nothing of scientific significance to offer. This is why all of ID thus far rests on estimated probabilities. An estimation of probabilities is (1) only an expression of the assumptions that go into the estimates, as per Bayes’ Theorem and (2) not a scientific theory in any sense at all.

    That’s a well articulated summary of one of intelligent design creationism’s many flaws.

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