Do Atheists Exist?

This post is to move a discussion from Sandbox(4) at Entropy’s request.

Over on the Sandbox(4) thread, fifthmonarchyman made two statements that I disagree with:

“I’ve argued repeatedly that humans are hardwired to believe in God.”

“Everyone knows that God exists….”

As my handle indicates, I prefer to lurk.  The novelty of being told that I don’t exist overcame my good sense, so I joined the conversation.

For the record, I am what is called a weak atheist or negative atheist.  The Wikipedia page describes my position reasonably well:

Negative atheism, also called weak atheism and soft atheism, is any type of atheism where a person does not believe in the existence of any deities but does not explicitly assert that there are none. Positive atheism, also called strong atheism and hard atheism, is the form of atheism that additionally asserts that no deities exist.”

I do exist, so fifthmonarchyman’s claims are disproved.  For some reason he doesn’t agree, hence this thread.

Added In Edit by Alan Fox 16.48 CET 11th January, 2018

This thread is designated as an extension of Noyau. This means only basic rules apply. The “good faith” rule, the “accusations of dishonesty” rule do not apply in this thread.

1,409 Replies to “Do Atheists Exist?”

  1. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: Yea, well, the problem is, coming to grips with the other aspects.You know, the ones where atheists like to cover their eyes and say, “You can’t see me, I can’t hear you…”

    Sorry, but after that insightful part of your comment, I won’t buy into you been too stupid to understand my point. So, what about instead of pretending to miss it you read that for comprehension? Specially the part where I say that evolution is not supposed to explain everything? For example, you cannot fault Darwinism for not explaining gravitation. It’s not supposed to be about that. You cannot fault Darwinism for not explaining the french revolution. It’s not supposed to be about that. You cannot fault Darwinism for not explaining quantum mechanics, it’s not supposed to be about that. You cannot fault Darwinism for not explaining complex learned behaviours, it’s not supposed to be about that. For the latter, you need to understand cultural development. So, please go back and read, this time for comprehension. You can do that. You’re clearly not an idiot. Of course, if you prefer to pass for an idiot, that’s your choice.

    phoodoo: Materialist have no case without Darwin.

    You’ve got this very wrong. It’s physicalism, not materialism. Physicalists do not need to make any case. The physical world is the one we habit. It’s right here. No case is necessary. Non-physicalism, on the other hand, needs evidence. Imagining that there’s non-physical stuff is not enough. It’s those who think there’s something other than the physical who need to make their case.

    Then, well, if you mean that physicalists would not know how life diversifies. Well. Yes, Darwin is needed for that (well, the ideas and evidence that were so well presented by Darwin, but maybe others could have done it later). However, if the question was open, the physicalist could explain to you that lack of knowledge in some area doesn’t mean that there’s non-physical stuff. That you still need to make your case, and that “you don’t know X!” is not evidence for the non-physical.

    After all, there’s abundance of open questions today, and that doesn’t make me think, “oh shit, there must be non-physical stuff!” That just makes me think, “oh! interesting!”

  2. petrushka
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    says:

    Instincts are the product of a dynamic system. The brain wiring that we call instinct is not physically different from the refinements that are the result of learning. If you can’t cite a reference to the contrary, I suggest you spend some time thinking about what a brain is and does.

    There is nothing in the laws of physics that prevents evolution from producing a person born speaking French and believing with certainty that Moloch is the one true god. It isn’t likely, from what we know, but it doesn’t violate any laws.

  3. Entropy Entropy
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    says:

    petrushka:
    Instincts are the product of a dynamic system.

    But not as dynamic as cognitive systems. It’s not the same to operate in terms of mutations/drift/natural-selection, as operating on day-to-day circumstances.

    petrushka:
    The brain wiring that we call instinct is not physically different from the refinements that are the result of learning.

    I doubt it. Instincts may last for little, or for longer, but they seem rather “programmed.” Learning seems subject to different rules. If they were of the same nature, cross-talking could be quite a problem. Imagine an instinct “untimely” erased because it was “mistaken” for a minimally important, never reinforced, learned thing?

    So there must be something different that makes instinct “timely,” and learning, ahem, dynamic. What’s learned can be changed almost any time if there’s no reinforcement.

    There was some work performed on slugs about the physical changes before and after learning in its super-simple neuronal system. I don’t remember much (read very long ago, and my knowledge about it wasn’t instinctive), and I don’t think they’d find a way to compare that to instinctive “instructions,” but some steps towards understanding learning, physically, was been done back them. Maybe there’s a lot more progress today.

    petrushka:
    If you can’t cite a reference to the contrary, I suggest you spend some time thinking about what a brain is and does.

    I’ve done that thinking, and I had learned a bit about it (citations and all, although quite outdated), but it’s no longer in my mind. Sorry.

    petrushka:
    There is nothing in the laws of physics that prevents evolution from producing a person born speaking French and believing with certainty that Moloch is the one true god. It isn’t likely, from what we know, but it doesn’t violate any laws.

    I suspect there is. Unless we had the space to save the necessary genetic “instructions” for such a feat, and we didn’t have to deal with mutation loads, and we didn’t have population size limitations, you’d be right. Since we have at least those three problems, I’d say that it goes against the laws of physics.

    This is one reason why I think very lowly about evolutionary psychology. Too many things to blame on “having an obscure evolutionary advantage.”

    I might be wrong, but I doubt it.

    Either way, maybe the real question should be: why model cognitive faculties as if they were instincts when we know that they’re not identical in measure and plasticity? When we know that instincts are more about basic stuff, and cognitive faculties about pretty variable stuff? Tigers will not always approach you from the left, milk will “always” be produced in your mother’s mammary glands. Etc.

  4. Entropy Entropy
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    says:

    I suspect that I’m not very good at explaining myself. After all, now there’s two of you thinking that it’s all right to mistake cognitive faculties for instincts-attached-to-beliefs-for-no-reason. So I’ll leave you guys to it.

  5. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
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    says:

    There’s actually an interesting question here about the evolution of learning, right? I mean, under what environmental conditions will it be adaptive to evolve enough plasticity for the system to learn from whatever situations it encounters over the course of its life-span?

  6. Entropy Entropy
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    says:

    Kantian Naturalist:

    I think that’s the real question. The one aiming at the evolution of what cognitive faculties are supposed to mean.

  7. petrushka
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    says:

    Obviously learning is faster than evolution, and it is Lamarkian. But it is still neurons and connections. I’m not a big fan of Chomsky, but I don’t deny that humans are wired to learn language. That implies that some aspects of language are supported by connections inherited via DNA. It’s not a completely blank slate.

    I see nothing wrong with asking, as a thought experiment, whether more detailed wiring could be determined by evolution. Other than time and probability, what is the barrier?

  8. Entropy Entropy
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    says:

    petrushka:
    Obviously learning is faster than evolution, and it is Lamarkian.

    It’s not Lamarkian. What we learn is not inherited by our children genetically.

    petrushka:
    But it is still neurons and connections.I’m not a big fan of Chomsky, but I don’t deny that humans are wired to learn language.

    But that’s not the same as having the language pre-loaded.

    petrushka:
    That implies that some aspects of language are supported by connections inherited via DNA. It’s not a completely blank slate.

    Sure. Otherwise learning language would not be possible.

    petrushka:
    I see nothing wrong with asking, as a thought experiment, whether more detailed wiring could be determined by evolution.

    Me neither. But I see it as a problem to just assume that such is the case for every aspect of cognition.

    petrushka:
    Other than time and probability, what is the barrier?

    I already offered a few possible problems: genetic space, mutational load, population size limitations.

    Now I’m off. Otherwise I’ll be here not convincing anybody anyway, and not learning anything myself either.

  9. petrushka
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    says:

    Culture is often described as lamarkian, because acquired learning can be inherited.

  10. phoodoo
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    says:

    Entropy,

    “Darwinism is but one aspect of evolution phoodoo’

    Evolution, Entropy, evolution! Not the French Revolution!

    How about you read your own words for comprehension, huh?

  11. phoodoo
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    says:

    Entropy: It’s not Lamarkian. What we learn is not inherited by our children genetically.

    There is evidence exactly to the contrary of that. You have no justification for your statement. You don’t know that.

  12. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Thought experiments take the place of experiments that cannot actually be done.

    Acquiring a specific language through biological evolution is not likely to happen, but arguments from probability are not arguments against possibility.

    The general problem being posed is whether we can trust knowledge to be true. I am wondering whether it is possible to be born believing something. Not whether this has happened or whether it is likely to happen, but whether such a possibility violates any laws of physics, is there any chemistry or physics that allows us to decide whether a neural configuration occurs because of some sequence of events in one’s life, or whether it is inherited as a result of evolution.

    Suppose we develop AI. Could an android have beliefs manudactured?

  13. walto walto
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    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: quote:
    Assert: to state or declare positively and often forcefully or aggressively
    end quote:

    from here https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assert

    You are going to have to elaborate on what you mean by assert.

    Is it an assertion to say “it’s difficult for me to read in this light.”?

    Or “My wife makes me happy”

    I would call that sort of thing sharing an observation

    I certainly would not consider then to be assertions and in the real world no one would be expected to support statements like that.

    No, it’s like pointing out that a vest is not a shirt and being told “forcefully” that anything you wear on your torso is course a shirt.

    peace

    As keiths said, those are all claims as pretty much everybody understands that term. surely you get that that’s how we use it, anyhow, and so when you say ‘I make no claims’ you’re uttering a falsehood as those words are generally understood and certainly understood here.

    I can’t believe you insist on fighting about this point. As I said it just makes you seem really ridiculous.

  14. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Kantian Naturalist:
    There’s actually an interesting question here about the evolution of learning, right? I mean, under what environmental conditions will it be adaptive to evolve enough plasticity for the system to learn from whatever situations it encounters over the course of its life-span?

    Yes.

  15. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    phoodoo: There is evidence exactly to the contrary of that.You have no justification for your statement.You don’t know that.

    What is the evidence contrary to that?

  16. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy:

    I suspect that I’m not very good at explaining myself. After all, now there’s two of you thinking that it’s all right to mistake cognitive faculties for instincts-attached-to-beliefs-for-no-reason.

    The problem isn’t with your explanatory abilities; it’s with the idea you’re trying to peddle. Plantinga isn’t making the error you ascribe to him.

    You can jump up and down, ask “Really really really?”, repeat “Beliefs are not eye colors!” 21 times, and you’ll still be wrong about what Plantinga is claiming.

    Plantinga believes what Plantinga believes, not what Entropy desperately wants Plantinga to believe.

  17. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth,

    Is it an assertion to say “it’s difficult for me to read in this light.”?

    Yes, of course. You’re asserting — claiming — that it is difficult for you to read in that light. If it’s not difficult for you to read in that light, then your assertion — your claim — is false. If it is difficult for you to read in that light, then your assertion — your claim — is true.

    Or “My wife makes me happy”

    Ditto. It’s an assertion and a claim. It’s true if your wife makes you happy, and false if she doesn’t.

    This is not difficult at all, fifth.

  18. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    There’s actually an interesting question here about the evolution of learning, right? I mean, under what environmental conditions will it be adaptive to evolve enough plasticity for the system to learn from whatever situations it encounters over the course of its life-span?

    I think the key is the variability of the environment. If the environment is stable enough that a species can get away with a static repertoire of responses, then the cost of plasticity isn’t worth it.

    If the environment is highly variable and full of surprises, then plasticity can be worthwhile, despite its cost.

  19. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    fifth,

    Yes, of course.You’re asserting — claiming — that it is difficult for you to read in that light.If it’s not difficult for you to read in that light, then your assertion — your claim — is false.If it is difficult for you to read in that light, then your assertion — your claim — is true.

    Ditto.It’s an assertion and a claim.It’s true if your wife makes you happy, and false if she doesn’t.

    This is not difficult at all, fifth.

    Yes. I honestly have no idea what the hell he’s talking about wrt ‘claiming. If we can’t even agree on this completely non-controversial item, it’s pretty clear that communication of any kind is impossible.

  20. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    So, now it seems you want to say that there are two kinds of belief: there are beliefs that would be expressed as asserting a proposition if the creature had acquired a language, and there are beliefs that aren’t expressed that way because the creature has not acquired a language.

    No, I’m saying pretty much the opposite: that beliefs are beliefs, and that some creatures can express them while others cannot. We can believe, as the cat does, that the mouse is on the other side of the door. But we can express that belief as a proposition, while the cat cannot. The belief is similar; the difference is in the ability, or inability, to recast the belief as a proposition.

    That’s helpful. But it defines beliefs in this weird counterfactual way — “a mental state that would be expressed as assent to a proposition if the animal had language.”

    No. Remember, I’m not trying to define “belief” here. I’m simply trying to show you how “propositional attitude” can be construed in a way that doesn’t deny beliefs to non-discursive animals. Denying beliefs to animals is a serious problem with your position, as you’ve acknowledged:

    I’m actually quite troubled at the idea that non-human animals don’t have beliefs or desires. That seems odd and maybe almost crazy.

  21. keiths keiths
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    says:

    walto:

    Yes. I honestly have no idea what the hell he’s [fifth is] talking about wrt ‘claiming.

    I think his confusion stems from a bogus distinction he’s trying to draw between first-person reports and claims.

    His recent examples all seem to involve first-person reports: the cotton feels soft to him, it’s difficult for him to read, his wife makes him happy.

    He wrote to Entropy:

    It’s not a claim, It’s an observation. I’m simply sharing my own personal experience. Just like when I say that it’s cold outside or that tomato is red.

    He doesn’t realize that first-person reports are also claims that can be true or false. “It feels cold to me” is true if it feels cold to him, and false if it doesn’t.

  22. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    What’s funny is that even if fifth were right about first-person reports — and he isn’t — he’d still be wrong about the claim that started this discussion:

    fifth:

    I’m not making any claims

    Entropy:

    Yes you are. “God loves me and reassures me” is a claim.

    fifth:

    It’s not a claim, It’s an observation.

    keiths:

    It’s a claim. You’re claiming that God, in reality, loves you and reassures you, in reality.

  23. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: I can’t believe you insist on fighting about this point. As I said it just makes you seem really ridiculous.

    I’m not fighting about the point. I just don’t think that personal experiences and observations are exactly the same thing as propositions.

    You apparently disagree it’s a free country.

    If in the real world I say “I have a stomach ache” no one would treat it as a claim and demand I support it with evidence of the sort that would be admissible in court.

    If you want to consider very innocuous observations like that to be claims equivalent to a debating thesis then I’m not stopping you I just think it’s a big waste of time.

    In the real world we don’t expect folks to give detailed arguments to support basic common sense personal experiences like “I feel cold”. If we did we would never be able to get to discussing anything interesting.

    walto: and certainly understood here.

    This might be a good exercise.

    Suppose I stopped you there and demanded you support that “claim” with evidence that would be acceptable in court.

    How would you do it?

    How would you go about proving that all the folks here have the same understanding of what a particular word means. I’m not even sure how you would go about proving who the people “here” are let alone how they actually understand a particular words meaning.

    More importantly why would you go to that trouble

    That is the sort of demand that I get for similar statements here all the time. It’s just silly

    I just don’t think that there is a lot to be gained from that sort of hyper-argumentative stance.

    If I disagree with your observation I’ll probably just tell you I disagree and move on to something more interesting.

    peace

  24. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: If we can’t even agree on this completely non-controversial item, it’s pretty clear that communication of any kind is impossible.

    The point is we do agree that common sense observations are not the same as propositions in the real world.

    You don’t find folks engaged in long debates about what cotton feels like or demanding that evidence be provided that you are cold.

    At Walmart you just don’t see people asserting that the burden of proof is on the one claiming that “it’s some weather we are having today”

    It’s only here that things like that are treated the same as claims about the explanatory power of a theory of truth.

    peace

  25. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth,

    If you want to consider very innocuous observations like that to be claims equivalent to a debating thesis…

    Who said anything about “claims equivalent to a debating thesis”?

    “I feel cold” is a claim. It’s true if you feel cold, and it’s false if you don’t. What could be simpler?

    If you want to appear stupid, and to fail for Jesus (rather spectacularly, I might add), then you’re welcome to keep denying that obvious truth. As you say, it’s a free country.

  26. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    fifth,

    Yes, of course.You’re asserting — claiming — that it is difficult for you to read in that light.If it’s not difficult for you to read in that light, then your assertion — your claim — is false.If it is difficult for you to read in that light, then your assertion — your claim — is true.

    Ditto.It’s an assertion and a claim.It’s true if your wife makes you happy, and false if she doesn’t.

    This is not difficult at all, fifth.

    Yes. I honestly have no idea what the hell he’s talking about wrt ‘claiming. If we can’t even agree on this completely non-controversial item, it’s pretty clear that communication of any kind is impossible.

    fifthmonarchyman: The point is we do agree that common sense observations are not the same as propositions in the real world.

    You don’t find folks engaged in long debates about what cotton feels like or demanding that evidence be provided that you are cold.

    At Walmart you just don’t see people asserting that the burden of proof is on the one claiming that “it’s some weather we are having today”

    It’s only here that things like that are treated the same as claims about the explanatory power of a theory of truth.

    peace

    As keiths said, your positon that something is or is not a claim depending on what evidence, if any, is likely to be required to support it, is something I don’t believe anybody in the world holds except you.

    This is just so silly in any case. If we tell you that we don’t require the same sort of evidence for first person reports but consider them claims nonetheless–just as every English dictionary does, can’t you simply adopt this common usage, instead of fighting about every fucking thing that anybody else posts? I’m telling you that (1) it’s you with the weird usage here; and (2) nothing whatever hangs on this. If we take your usage we have to say that some assertions are not claims, which makes no sense at all.

  27. fifthmonarchyman
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    says:

    walto: (2) nothing whatever hangs on this.

    Here is what hangs on this.

    If we consider “I’m sleepy” to require the same standard of evidence as “There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet” then we will never be able to discuss any thing of value

    walto: If we take your usage we have to say that some assertions are not claims, which makes no sense at all.

    Here is the deal

    I’m definitely not asserting that “I’m sleepy” I’m merely sharing my own personal observation.

    If I was to assert that “I’m sleepy” as if it’s some sort of objective conclusion that requires your accent then I would be ready to provide evidence.

    walto: instead of fighting about every fucking thing that anybody else posts?

    Again I’m not fighting anything if you choose to call “I need a hair cut” a claim fine that is your prerogative.

    I simply don’t feel that I need to provide you with detailed argumentation for stuff like that.

    You can disagree if you wish it’s really no skin off my nose.

    peace

  28. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: your positon that something is or is not a claim depending on what evidence, if any, is likely to be required to support it

    That is not my position. My position is that something is a claim if it’s asserted.

    It’s not a claim if it’s only an observation casually shared for informal informational purposes and not meant to be a thesis or proposal to be accepted by you on the basis of the evidence I provide.

    I good rule of thumb is that it’s not a claim if I don’t care whether or not you accept it as true.

    peace

  29. keiths keiths
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    says:

    fifth, to walto:

    It’s not a claim if it’s only an observation casually shared for informal informational purposes and not meant to be a thesis or proposal to be accepted by you on the basis of the evidence I provide.

    It’s still a claim. Jesus, fifth.

    claim
    klām
    verb
    verb: claim; 3rd person present: claims; past tense: claimed; past participle: claimed; gerund or present participle: claiming
    1.
    state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.

    When you say “I’m sleepy”, you are stating that something is the case: namely, that you are sleepy. If you are in fact sleepy, then your claim is true. If you aren’t sleepy, then your claim is false.

    This is frikkin’ obvious. “I’m sleepy” is a claim. Deal with it, fifth.

  30. newton
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: I good rule of thumb is that it’s not a claim if I don’t care whether or not you accept it as true.

    I have been trying to stay out of this, but this is irresistible.Is that statement a claim?

  31. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    Perhaps it will help if we review the context.

    You started out claiming that beliefs were “endorsed claims”. I showed why that can’t be correct. You then amended your claim, asserting that the content of a belief was an endorsed claim. I showed, by similar reasoning, that your amended claim could not be correct, either.

    I asked why you were so enamored of the idea:

    Why are you so attached to this “endorsed claim” business? It’s causing you nothing but trouble. Why keep trying to shoehorn it, somehow, into the concept of belief?

    You replied:

    It’s because of this well-worn idea that beliefs are propositional attitudes, or an attitude taken towards a proposition.

    You hew to that idea despite the trouble you acknowledge it causes you:

    I’m actually quite troubled at the idea that non-human animals don’t have beliefs or desires. That seems odd and maybe almost crazy.

    I am trying to show that you are putting way too much weight on the phrase “propositional attitude”.

    First, as I pointed out upthread, “propositional attitude” need not be construed as “an attitude towards a proposition”:

    There’s another construal that will do the job just fine. Take it to mean something like “an attitude that would, in a creature capable of producing and understanding propositions, result in that creature’s assent or disagreement with certain propositions”.

    Second, I think the prevalence of the term “propositional attitude” is a historical accident. Philosophers have done most of their thinking about human beliefs, not animal beliefs. When you are thinking about human beliefs, it’s natural to think in terms of propositions, since we are a linguistic species.

    I argue that what makes a belief a belief is that its possessor takes it to represent a truth. The cat believes that the mouse is on the other side of the door; that is, she mentally represents the mouse as being on the other side and responds to that representation as if it were true, by pawing frantically underneath the door.

    A human observing the scene might say “There’s a mouse on the other side of the door”, but doing so is just another example of a response to a mental representation.

    The cat responds to her representation by pawing under the door. The human responds to his representation by saying “There’s a mouse on the other side of the door”. In both cases we have a representation that is taken to be true and can dispose its possessor to certain actions.

  32. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    newton: I have been trying to stay out of this, but this is irresistible.Is that statement a claim?

    LOL

    It’s just a handy way to distinguish between an argument and chitchat for those who wish to be difficult.

    It’s that sort of thing that I’m talking about. Some folks here adopt a hyper-argumentative attitude demanding that every little throw away line be supported with iron clad court worthy evidence. In the real world they would never act like that.

    It’s certainly your business whether you wish to agree with me that I was just trying to explain my position. I’m just not going waste the time to stop and offer a syllogism or list of court worthy evidence for every single statement that’s made.

    To do so would make communication impossible. Interactions would never get past the “how is it going?” question.

    If I say my God loves me and offers me assurance I’m not laying out an argument of any kind. I’m simply sharing my personal experience.

    Of course I know that my statement is true but I don’t care if you believe it. I’m not even sure that you are capable of believing it with out God’s regenerative grace.

    There is no practical benefit to anyone to demand that I defend or support a statement like that.

    You could if you are truly interested ask how it is that I know that my God loves me.

    If you did I would probably share something like this

    quote:
    but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
    (Rom 5:8)
    end quote:

    peace

  33. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    It doesn’t matter if it requires evidence or if you care about or want to bother defending it. A claim is an assertion. Any assertion. If you say x, believing it to be true. You are claiming x. That’s English, the language we speak here. You are recommending a change to English–a kind of pigeon English–because you note that there are claims of different types. That change, however, is entirely unnecessary, since everybody already knows there are various kinds of claims. Some are important to us, some not. Some require a ton of evidence, some don’t. Some are trivial, some deep. Etc.

    But they all count as claims in ordinary English. If you won’t concede this obvious, point, one that’s entirely harmless to your position, there’s obviously no sense in trying to communicate with you, and I, for one, will not continue. If I want to argue with a toddler, there are pre-schools I can visit near my house.

  34. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth:

    If I say my God loves me and offers me assurance I’m not laying out an argument of any kind. I’m simply sharing my personal experience.

    You’re making a claim. A claim that in reality, God loves you, and that in reality God offers you reassurance.

    Like any claim, it can be true or false. This one gives every indication of being false, so it’s only natural that people challenge it, particularly at a blog called The Skeptical Zone.

    Stop whining about being challenged, and stop trying to redefine the word “claim” to suit your personal preferences.

  35. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    walto,

    Quite so. However, it is worth noting that assertions are a special kind of speech act. Assertions or claims are third-personal: they are not addressed to any particular person and need not be made by any particular person. That does make them different from second-personal speech acts (requests, questions, orders, other vocatives).

    And there are also of course first-personal speech acts. The paradigm of that is “looks talk”. After all, there are very different truth-conditions for “that is a bird-nest” and “it looks like a bird-nest to me.” The first refers to what is the case in the world, and the second refers to my embodied/embedded perspective on the world. The first is false if there is in fact no bird-nest, but the second is false if I am lying.

    We spend so much time in philosophy focusing on third-personal speech acts that we tend to overlook the importance of second-personal speech acts, even though second-person speech acts are indispensable for ethics. And presumably first-person speech acts are crucial for aesthetics, as well as for the observation reports that are crucial for empirical knowledge.

  36. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    No doubt there are many different sorts of claims.

  37. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    However, it is worth noting that assertions are a special kind of speech act. Assertions or claims are third-personal: they are not addressed to any particular person and need not be made by any particular person.

    Not so. “You are behind on your rent” is an assertion and a claim, as is “I flew to Florida yesterday.”

  38. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths: Not so. “You are behind on your rent” is an assertion and a claim, as is “I flew to Florida yesterday.”

    Sure, but notice that “hello!” is not an assertion, and neither is “ouch!” Yet both are speech acts. That’s why our understanding of speech acts has to go beyond assertions.

  39. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    KN,

    Sure, but notice that “hello!” is not an assertion, and neither is “ouch!” Yet both are speech acts. That’s why our understanding of speech acts has to go beyond assertions.

    No one here has claimed that assertions are the only possible speech acts.

    I am pointing out that your categorical statement…

    Assertions or claims are third-personal:

    …is wrong.

  40. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: A claim is an assertion. Any assertion.

    quote:
    Assert: to state or declare positively and often forcefully or aggressively
    end quote:

    from here
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assert

    Once again I’m not asserting anything here. I’m only sharing personal experience there is no aggression or force in my intent.

    walto: If you say x, believing it to be true. You are claiming x. That’s English, the language we speak here.

    I find nothing that broad in the dictionary definitions of “claim” that I’m aware of.

    here is the verb form
    quote:
    Claim: to assert in the face of possible contradiction
    end quote:

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/claim

    From what I can gather a claim is a much stronger thing that just causally sharing something that you also happen to believe.

    walto: You are recommending a change to English–a kind of pigeon English

    Not at all. If you want to consider any statement whatsoever no matter how innocuous and unobtrusive to be a claim then I’m fine with that it’s a free country.

    I just disagree and I’m not going to waste time any of my time offering arguments for things that I am not “asserting positively and often forcefully or aggressively”. Especially things that you don’t have any way of ever verifying and that I don’t expect you to ever believe.

    If you are going to consider statements like “I like Reeses cups” to be “claim”s I suppose you will need to come up with another term to cover the sorts of statements that are normally in the real world are considered claims to be supported with evidence.

    statements like

    “The number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit will double approximately every two years.”

    and

    “Women generally have higher IQs than their male counterparts”

    Maybe you call those things uber-claims to distinguish them from “claims” like “apple pie tastes good” that are not meant as positive pronouncements to be subjected to public scrutiny.

    Again that is your problem not mine. I think this whole digression is just silly.

    Peace

  41. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: 1) Do you demand that all “claims” be supported with evidence of the kind that is admissible in court?
    2) Do you require that all claims be supported with evidence that is….

    For about the 8th time, no and no. There’s nothing about the term ‘claim’ that entails any of that stuff.

    Again, I really don’t have the patience for this silliness. You can just go on without me. Using any variant of English you enjoy.

    . If you want to consider any statement whatsoever no matter how innocuous and unobtrusive to be a claim then I’m fine with that it’s a free country.

    I do–just like everybody in the English-speaking world except you. Your position on this subject is identical to somebody who says, ‘it’s not breathing if it’s silent. It’s only real breathing if it can be heard from a couple of feet away.’

  42. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    walto,to fifth:

    Your position on this subject is identical to somebody who says, ‘it’s not breathing if it’s silent. It’s only real breathing if it can be heard from a couple of feet away.’

    Nice analogy.

    Predicted FMM response: “If you want to refer to silent respiration as ‘breathing’, then go right ahead. It’s a free country.”

  43. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    walto: For about the 8th time, no and no. There’s nothing about the term ‘claim’ that entails any of that stuff.

    We are more than good then.
    If only your compatriots here were as accommodating.

    Remember this thread started because Alurker demanded I retract a statement I offered in response to a direct question from him unless I offered supporting evidence that he would find convincing.

    And he claimed to refute my “claim” just by existing

    walto: You can just go on without me. Using any variant of English you enjoy.

    You can sleep well

    You won’t find me using the term “claim” very often. I think it’s mostly used to establish who has the burden of proof in a formal debate. I try to choose my debates very carefully
    😉

    peace

  44. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman: quote:
    Assert: to state or declare positively and often forcefully or aggressively
    end quote:

    from here
    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/assert

    Once again I’m not asserting anything here. I’m only sharing personal experience there is no aggression or force in my intent.

    I find nothing that broad in the dictionary definitions of “claim” that I’m aware of.

    here is the verb form
    quote:
    Claim: to assert in the face of possible contradiction
    end quote:

    https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/claim

    From what I can gather a claim is a much stronger thing that just causally sharing something that you also happen to believe.

    Not at all. If you want to consider any statement whatsoever no matter how innocuous and unobtrusive to be a claim then I’m fine with that it’s a free country.

    I just disagree and I’m not going to waste time any of my time offering arguments for things that I am not “asserting positively and often forcefully or aggressively”. Especially things that you don’t have any way of ever verifying and that I don’t expect you to ever believe.

    If you are going to consider statements like“I like Reeses cups”to be “claim”s

    I suppose you will need to come up with another term to cover the sorts of statements that are normally in the real world are considered claims to be supported with evidence.

    statements like

    “The number of transistors in a dense integrated circuit will double approximately every two years.”

    and

    “Women generally have higher IQs than their male counterparts”

    Again that is your problem not mine. I think this whole digression is just silly.

    Peace

    Now you are being pedantic. I’m not trying to change English

    1) Do you demand that all “claims” be supported with evidence of the kind that is admissible in court?
    2) Do you require that all claims be supported with evidence that is

    You’re so far into your denial that you’re losing track of what “claim” even means to normal people. Here’s a better definition than yours of the verb “claim,” from the online OED:

    [reporting verb] State or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof. [italics added, but look subtracted here]

    [with clause] ‘the Prime Minister claimed that he was concerned about Third World debt’
    [with direct speech] ‘‘I’m entitled to be conceited,’ he claimed’
    [with object] ‘not every employee is eligible to claim unfair dismissal’
    More example sentences
    ‘How many times has Ian claimed that he’s moved past their time together?’
    ‘They also claimed that additional information, other than the video evidence, had come to their attention.’
    ‘They claim the cost to victims of accidents with uninsured drivers is £500 million each year.’
    ‘Supporters claimed privatisation would bring an end to underfunding.’
    ‘The prosecution claims they attacked him on December 30 when he tried to stop them stealing the Toyota.’
    ‘Mrs May claimed that evidence from the blonde-haired victim, who had had a baby since her ordeal, was unreliable.’
    ‘Hospital representatives have claimed that the shutdowns are temporary and have attempted to minimise their impact.’
    ‘Mr Wallace claimed that the move would have a huge impact on local companies and could result in job losses.’
    ‘At the same time, he claimed that professionally qualified caterers were on hand to monitor and inspect the cooking.’
    ‘They also claimed that moves to protect her new identity were useless as she was so instantly recognisable.’
    ‘In Central Tibet dialect, a language unknown to the district he lived in, the child demanded the rosary, claiming it belonged to him.’
    ‘The new rules, if passed, will also cut down the cost of processing asylum requests, claims the right-wing party.’
    ‘The government claims this would potentially cost hundreds of millions of dollars it cannot afford.’
    ‘Mitsuki looked back at Akira and scowled at her for claiming such a ridiculous notion.’
    ‘The professor claimed that he should not have to appear before the commission on grounds of his age and ill health.’
    ‘The plaintiff claimed that there is evidence to show what her current needs are.’
    ‘The developers and some anthropologists claimed that the evidence on which protection had been granted was fabricated.’
    ‘One protestor claimed that the company was recruiting contractors to replace the permanent workforce.’
    ‘It has been claimed the chartered jet cost £75,000 to take her back to west Africa last Thursday afternoon.’
    ‘She also claimed that the profession does not attract enough new recruits for financial reasons, painting a worrying picture for the future of nursing.’
    Synonyms

    1.1[with object] Assert that one has gained or achieved (something) [italics added, but appear subtracted here]
    ‘his supporters claimed victory in the presidential elections’

    More example sentences
    ‘His supporters have now claimed victory.’
    ‘Artists began to claim the right to suggest their own subject matter, unshackled by scholars or patrons.’
    ‘It set out do something, only to achieve nothing and then claim a victory.’
    ‘His supporters, having claimed victory, were celebrating in the streets Thursday night.’
    ‘Both opponents and supporters of affirmative action claimed victory in the days following the ruling.’
    ‘The UK government is claiming some kind of victory out of a Common Fisheries Policy negotiations which everyone, in the cold light of dawn, admits is the management of extinction by committee.’
    ‘His supporters claimed a significant reduction in agrarian crime.’
    ‘Frankness demands that any scientist claiming an advance in knowledge must set bounds on that claim by pointing out remaining uncertainties and areas of ignorance.’
    ‘The bitterest military conflict in late twentieth-century Latin American history came to an end with all sides claiming a measure of victory.’

    https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/claim

    That’s definition one, state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof. Which you do constantly, while denying same. Then with a huge number of examples that show what a farce your claims about claims is.

    As far as KN’s distinction between third and first or second person statements, it makes no sense to claim that in normal speech that is a distinction that makes a legitimate difference. If I say “that is a bird’s nest” I mean about the same thing as “that looks like a bird’s nest,” just not as tentatively. How could it be different? In most cases, I can only say that it is a bird’s nest because it looks like a bird’s nest to me. And I might say “It looks like a bird’s nest” because that is what I at least tentatively think that it is. If I say “it looks like a bird’s nest to me” it’s typically more tentative (maybe I’m wrong, and if the angle or lighting changes it won’t look that way any more). But in essence it’s a claim even if I say “looks like,” it’s just more tentative, usually.

    I know that formally it can be quite different to say “it’s a bird’s nest,” because you’ve all agreed that it is, or because it fits some sort of definition. But that wasn’t the issue, from what I gather, the discussion seemed to be about what a single person claims or asserts, and while that shifts in usage (I might get into a dictionary definition about “claim,” so into formal definition), usually there’s very little difference between a person saying “that’s a bird’s nest” and “that looks like a bird’s nest” except that the latter is generally more tentative, with “that looks like a bird’s nest to me” normally being even more tentative.

    Glen Davidson

  45. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    fifthmonarchyman,

    I don’t understand your first graph; what would you like me to retract?

  46. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    walto, to fifth:

    I don’t understand your first graph; what would you like me to retract?

    He has since deleted it. I think he was quoting ALurker, and then thought better of it.

  47. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    fifth,

    English is your native tongue, correct? Why must we teach you how to speak it?

  48. walto walto
    Ignored
    says:

    Aha. Thanks.

  49. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    fifth,

    English is your native tongue, correct?Why must we teach you how to speak it?

    He learned it from pigeons.

    (it’s really “pidgin English”–minor matter, I know).

    Glen Davidson

  50. fifthmonarchyman
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson: That’s definition one, state or assert that something is the case, typically without providing evidence or proof.

    I’m not asserting anything and your understanding of what is “the case” will most certainly be different than mine. We do after all have different worldviews

    GlenDavidson: If I say “that is a bird’s nest” I mean about the same thing as “that looks like a bird’s nest,” just in different form.

    Most of the time all you are really doing is just sharing your personal impressions when you say “that is a birds nest”

    In order to establish positively that “that is a bird’s nest” you would need to establish that there is a universe out side your mind and that your reasoning and sensory faculties are reliable to make that sort of determination.

    Instead of going to all that trouble with every single statement we make most of us are content to say “that is a bird’s nest” with the “It looks like to me” being implicit.

    peace

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