On Logic and the Empirical Method

A thread at UD that was just beginning to get interesting was unfortunately cut short when Elizabeth departed.

As is oh so typical over at UD, those silly IDiots were appealing to obvious truths and the primacy of logical reasoning. Elizabeth, in contrast, was championing her empirical methodology.

During the exchange, Elizabeth made the following statements:

Elizabeth Liddle:

My method is the standard empirical method.

Elizabeth Liddle:

If you can’t establish the truth of the premises how can you know your conclusion is correct, however impeccable the logic?

My question to Elizabeth was simple. How did you arrive at the truth of that statement [assuming it’s a rhetorical question] using the standard empirical method?

I’d really like to give Elizabeth an opportunity to answer.

For reference:

A deductive argument is said to be valid if and only if it takes a form that makes it impossible for the premises to be true and the conclusion nevertheless to be false. Otherwise, a deductive argument is said to be invalid.

A deductive argument is sound if and only if it is both valid, and all of its premises are actually true. Otherwise, a deductive argument is unsound.

http://www.iep.utm.edu/val-snd/

Given the above explication of valid and invalid arguments and sound and unsound arguments, does Elizabeth’s question even make sense? IOW, logic does not and cannot tell us whether the conclusion is “correct.” Logic can only tell us whether an argument is valid. Logic cannot and does not tell us whether an argument is sound.

How do we discover these facts/truths of logic using Elizabeth’s standard empirical method? If they cannot be established as facts/truths using the standard empirical method, should logic be abandoned? If so, why?

344 thoughts on “On Logic and the Empirical Method

  1. Mung:

    [Elizabeth said:]
    Absolutely agree, hotshoe.I haven’t really taken to the “atheist” label, much although I don’t reject it – but it implies that my non-belief in god or gods is something categorically different from my non-belief in unicorns or toothfairies, or in the proverbial orbiting teapot.

    How is that your non-belief in god or gods is something categorically different from your non-belief in unicorns or toothfairies, or in the proverbial orbiting teapot?

    Elizabeth says that she hasn’t taken to the atheist label because it (the atheist label) implies there is something different (categorical, and worth getting a separate label for) between not believing in gods and not believing in fairies. But when you don’t perceive any actual difference between not believing in gods / fairies, then — like Elizabeth — you will be reluctant to adopt that separate label of “atheist” because of its implication of gods being a special category. Not because you’d be ashamed or afraid to be an “atheist” but just because it seems pointless to emphasize that one kind of disbelief as if it were more significant than others.

    So, yeah, no, non-belief in gods is NOT something categorically different from non-belief in unicorns or toothfairies, not for Elizabeth nor for me.

  2. So, yeah, no, non-belief in gods is NOT something categorically different from non-belief in unicorns or toothfairies, not for Elizabeth nor for me.

    Keep telling yourselves that. You live in a world where the vast majority of adults believe in some sort of god; unicorns and tooth fairies – not so much. There are no long-standing logical arguments that point to the logical necessity of the existence of unicorns or tooth-fairies. There are not countless testimonial accounts going back from the dawn of recorded history to today from adults about experience of unicorns and tooth fairies. Highly intelligent people don’t convert to belief in unicorns and tooth fairies upon examination of the evidence and argument, like Antony Flew and others.

    Even if god didn’t exist, positioning “belief in god” with a belief in unicorns and tooth fairies is a blatant, obvious categorical error. Good grief, EL even said that belief in a thing can be considered rational if it is a cultural norm; that in itself categorically distinguishes non-belief in god from non-belief in tooth fairies and unicorns. Non-belief in tooth fairies and unicorns is in agreement with about 99.9% of all other adult humans on the planet. Non-belief in a god of some sort is in contrast to most of the rest of the world.

    You’d have to be raised in a community of atheists and be terribly ignorant of the rest of the world, its history and philosophy to think that “non-belief in god’ is the categorical equivalent of “non-belief in tooth fairies and unicorns.”

  3. William J. Murray:

    [quoting hotshoe] So, yeah, no, non-belief in gods is NOT something categorically different from non-belief in unicorns or toothfairies, not for Elizabeth nor for me.

    Keep telling yourselves that.

    Try working with the premise that other people are giving an honest account of themselves.

    You live in a world where the vast majority of adults believe in some sort of god; unicorns and tooth fairies – not so much.

    Don’t know about hotshoe, and I don’t know about you, though I’m aware you are in the US, an outlier among “developed” countries regarding level of belief in the “supernatural”. Almost no-one I know well enough as a friend for this to come up has any kind of formal religious belief and almost no-one I know is a strident atheist. Religious dogma doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and when religious authority is no longer supported by legal or economic force, but has to stand on merit, it really seems not to satisfy those who give it a moment’s thought.

    There are no long-standing logical arguments that point to the logical necessity of the existence of unicorns or tooth-fairies. There are not countless testimonial accounts going back from the dawn of recorded history to today from adults about experience of unicorns and tooth fairies. Highly intelligent people don’t convert to belief in unicorns and tooth fairies upon examination of the evidence and argument, like Antony Flew and others.

    People tend to leave childish beliefs behind when they can measure them against reality. There are reasons that edifices like the Catholic Church persist. Those reasons do not include any demonstration of truth in the doctrine. Politics and religion make very convenient bedfellows, as we see with Republicans and fundamentalists.

  4. Alan Fox: PS who is Anthony Flew?

    He’s a supposedly famous “atheist” whom no one had ever heard of, until he became senile and had a book ghost-written for him about his decrepit conversion to god-belief.

    Yeah, mentioning Flew is really really really convincing that atheists should see the error of their ways and adopt a theistic belief before they die. 🙂

  5. Alan Fox: Don’t know about hotshoe, and I don’t know about you, though I’m aware you are in the US, an outlier among “developed” countries regarding level of belief in the “supernatural”. Almost no-one I know well enough as a friend for this to come up has any kind of formal religious belief and almost no-one I know is a strident atheist. Religious dogma doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and when religious authority is no longer supported by legal or economic force, but has to stand on merit, it really seems not to satisfy those who give it a moment’s thought.

    I’m USAian, and was raised in church, and for essentially my whole adult life have lived in a typically-religious (christian, of course!) small town. I don’t ask folks if they actually believe in god but pretty much everyone I know mentions they’re going to church or they’re “praying for guidance” (that’s different from “I’ll pray for you” which is – usually – a religion-less phrase merely signifying empathy and concern, not actual belief).

    So unlike people who are lucky enough to live in a civilized nation of Europe, I am confronted almost daily by the bizarre fact that people I know, people I interact with, people who seem normal and sane and decent, are somehow still stuck on the same level as children who believe in Santa Claus.

    But it’s not as if it takes me any mental effort to resist going along with their bizarre majority. They simply have nothing to tempt me with. I fell out of theism at a very young age, quite painlessly, and in fact I was sad about losing my belief in the tooth fairy more than losing a possible belief in god which I had never experienced with certainty. After all, there is at least evidence for the tooth fairy: brand new money under your pillow in the morning! Much more reliable than prayer …

  6. William J. Murray: Good grief, EL even said that belief in a thing can be considered rational if it is a cultural norm; that in itself categorically distinguishes non-belief in god from non-belief in tooth fairies and unicorns.

    No, it doesn’t, William. Tooth-fairies, perhaps, but certainly not unicorns. Or dragons. Or tree spirits. Or homeopathic remedies, for that matter.

    Plenty of cultural norms there, yet I do not call myself an adragonist, or an ahomeopathist for instance.

    And you misquote me: I said that a belief is not a delusion if it is supported by cultural norms. You seem to have missed the entire point of that conversation. Plenty of beliefs are neither rationally held nor delusional.

  7. William J. Murray: You live in a world where the vast majority of adults believe in some sort of god; unicorns and tooth fairies – not so much. There are no long-standing logical arguments that point to the logical necessity of the existence of unicorns or tooth-fairies.

    There are long standing arguments as to the nature of the Jewish race. Therefore they must be true, and the Nazi’s were justified in their behaviour.

    Correct?

  8. OMagain said:

    There are long standing arguments as to the nature of the Jewish race. Therefore they must be true, and the Nazi’s were justified in their behaviour.

    Correct?

    Of course not. Because there are long standing arguments doesn’t make the argument true. Because most people believe a thing doesn’t make it true. The question about whether or not non-belief in god is in the same category as non-belief in unicorns and tooth fairies has nothing to do with whether or not any of those three things actually exist, but about whether or not there is any sound reasons/good eviendence to believe that any of the three exist which would distinguish it from the other two.

    There is a ton of evidence supporting the proposition that god exists, which I outlined here: http://www.uncommondescent.com/philosophy/is-atheism-rationally-justifiable/

    Drawing an equivalence between “lack of belief in god” and “lack of belief in tooth fairies and unicorns” is absurd. Many of the greatest minds in history believed in a god of some sort. Most of the world’s population believes in god or gods of some sort. There are many good arguments for the existence of a god of some sort; there is an immense amount of testimonial evidence of experience of a god of some sort.

    Whether or not god exists, non-belief in god is not anything at all like non-belief in tooth fairies and unicorns.

  9. Alan Fox said:

    Don’t know about hotshoe, and I don’t know about you, though I’m aware you are in the US, an outlier among “developed” countries regarding level of belief in the “supernatural”. Almost no-one I know well enough as a friend for this to come up has any kind of formal religious belief and almost no-one I know is a strident atheist. Religious dogma doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and when religious authority is no longer supported by legal or economic force, but has to stand on merit, it really seems not to satisfy those who give it a moment’s thought.

    Nobody said anything about religion. Try at least staying on topic. An increasing number of people classify themselves as not religious and as believing in a god of some sort.

  10. William J. Murray: Whether or not god exists, non-belief in god is not anything at all like non-belief in tooth fairies and unicorns.

    Children will often grow up believing in all of those. Then, over time, they lose those beliefs.

    Therefore it is *exactly* the same. Except that some children never grow all the way up 😛

  11. William J. Murray: Many of the greatest minds in history believed in a god of some sort.

    Many of those same minds believed that slavery was justified and that women should obey men unquestionably. Should we listen to them on those things too? Why not?

  12. William J. Murray: but about whether or not there is any sound reasons/good eviendence to believe that any of the three exist which would distinguish it from the other two.

    Demonstrate that god exists via evidence then. The first item on your list of “evidence” is presumably the strongest then. And that is Anecdotal evidence!

    Let me ask you a question about that sort of evidence then. Do you, WJM, personally believe that Saint Joseph of Cupertino actually flew in the air and that this was witnessed by 100’s of people?

  13. OMagain asks:

    Do you, WJM, personally believe that Saint Joseph of Cupertino actually flew in the air and that this was witnessed by 100’s of people?

    1. In my system, belief means “to act as if a conceptual model is true”; it is not, however, an assertion that the conceptual model is in fact true, nor do I hold it to be factually true.

    2. I only hold those beliefs which are needed to serve my interests (1. Being a good person, and 2. enjoying life)

    3. My beliefs never directly contradict my experience.

    4. My beliefs should be as logically coherent as possible while still serving my interests.

    4. I don’t fill my head with unnecessary, non-useful beliefs.

    So, given all of that, my answer: I have no beliefs one way or another about Saint Joseph of Cupertino. I don’t even have an opinion about it. It’s utterly irrelevant to my interests. As far as whether or not I believe a fair die exists, I act as if the die I use in games are fair under the conceptual model that they have roughly the same chance of landing on any side from generally normal rolls.

    The reason I generally refrain from entering arguments about what I “believe” (like whether or not a fair die exists) is because how I believe is definitionally different from how other people believe and it generally causes nothing but confusion because other people think I mean things I do not. Then they start saying, “well, you said you believe .. But, that doesn’t mean for me what it means for them, generally speaking.

  14. Omagain said:

    Demonstrate that god exists via evidence then.

    I can’t demonstrate to others that god exists via any amount of evidence or any quality of argument. The human mind can deny any and all evidence and argument if it so chooses.

  15. William J. Murray: Nobody said anything about religion.

    I see quite a few references to religious belief in comments prior to mine.

    Try at least staying on topic.

    *chuckles* TSZ is quite relaxed about “off-topic” comments. There’s no specific rule, even.

    An increasing number of people classify themselves as not religious and as believing in a god of some sort.

    You say this because you have read research or is it just anecdotal?

  16. William J. Murray: I have no beliefs one way or another about Saint Joseph of Cupertino. I don’t even have an opinion about it.

    On the balance of probability, given your entire life experience up till now, is it more likely that

    A) He was able to fly
    or
    B) He did not fly

  17. William J. Murray: I act as if the die I use in games are fair under the conceptual model that they have roughly the same chance of landing on any side from generally normal rolls.

    Why?

  18. hotshoe_,

    Thanks, hotshoe. I did Google Flew and I see his father was a Methodist minister and prominent theologian. Flew was educated at Kingswood school, the Worlds’ first Methodist school, founded by John Wesley. I wonder if there is an element of “making his own way” there.

    For all he is described as a famous atheist, I can’t recall seeing his name come up until the last few years at Uncommon Descent. He was certainly not widely known (in the sense of appearing in or being reported on in the media) when I lived in the UK.

  19. William J. Murray: OMagain asks:

    Do you, WJM, personally believe that Saint Joseph of Cupertino actually flew in the air and that this was witnessed by 100’s of people?

    1. In my system, belief means “to act as if a conceptual model is true”; it is not, however, an assertion that the conceptual model is in fact true, nor do I hold it to be factually true.

    But the model has to have some congruence with reality. Otherwise you might, for example, drown if you believed you could walk on water.

    2. I only hold those beliefs which are needed to serve my interests (1. Being a good person, and 2. enjoying life)

    I don’t see “being a good person” as a belief. How does that work? You could believe that because you behave in a certain way, that makes you a good person (depending on who “good” is for), I guess. Enjoying life?

    My beliefs never directly contradict my experience.

    Well, I would hope they didn’t. I think it is more rewarding to experience reality as it is rather than as you wish it to be.

    4. My beliefs should be as logically coherent as possible while still serving my interests.

    I have to accept that you think you do this. That you are able to change your beliefs as regularly as you do suggests either your logic has been less than perfect in the past [or that it’s less than perfect now.*]

    4. I don’t fill my head with unnecessary, non-useful beliefs.

    I’m just not convinced. I’m grateful for the information on yogurt, however. Unpasteurized sheep’s milk yogurt is a regular treat chez Fox, now.

    So, given all of that, my answer: I have no beliefs one way or another about Saint Joseph of Cupertino. I don’t even have an opinion about it. It’s utterly irrelevant to my interests.

    I find this amazing. If I thought there was the remotest chance this was true, it would be Earth-shattering, overturning all we believe about physics and reality. Who wouldn’t want to know more? Your lack of curiosity is stunning.

    [* added in edit]

  20. William J. Murray: There are many good arguments for the existence of a god of some sort; there is an immense amount of testimonial evidence of experience of a god of some sort.

    Can you give me some arguments for the existence for a god of some sort?

  21. William J. Murray: 1. In my system, belief means “to act as if a conceptual model is true”; it is not, however, an assertion that the conceptual model is in fact true, nor do I hold it to be factually true.

    2. I only hold those beliefs which are needed to serve my interests (1. Being a good person, and 2. enjoying life)

    3. My beliefs never directly contradict my experience.

    4. My beliefs should be as logically coherent as possible while still serving my interests.

    4. I don’t fill my head with unnecessary, non-useful beliefs.

    OK, ,I will buy your specific definition of belief. Under that definition, I believe that there are no god or gods, However, I will also point out that the definition is non-standard, and under more usual definitions, my statement does not hold true.

    I will go further, and stipulate that under that specific definition of belief, I find that the belief that there is no god, and no afterlife, is more useful than the belief that there are both. I find, for instance, that compared to the time when I acted as though it were true that an omipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent God existed, I am no longer faced with the problem as to why bad things happen, nor how a person could possibly think, feel or act or experience after their brain had ceased to function. So I now have a more parsimonious model, which means that not only do I not have to fill my head with unnecessary non-useful beliefs, I no longer have to solve the problems that those earlier assumptions presented.

    Further more, my beliefs now no longer directly contradict my experience (I do not have to ask why an earthquake that surely an omni-god could have timed before people were at work, or while they were in transit, happened at a time calculated to kill the greatest number, for instance, or why some terrible congenital defects arise).

    And I am left with beliefs that serve my interests, which include “being a good person and enjoying life” but also include “making sure things that make my life better don’t make someone else’s worse”.

    And they are more logically coherent than they were, while still serving my interests.

    So, over to you, William.

  22. Alan Fox: For all he is described as a famous atheist, I can’t recall seeing his name come up until the last few years at Uncommon Descent.

    I first heard of Flew when I borrowed his book on epistemology from the campus library. It wasn’t very good. I’d be inclined to consider him a mediocre philosopher.

    And then, suddenly, he was a famous athiest, except that atheists didn’t know much about him. It seems that he was appointed famous by Christian apologists. This tells us far more about Christian apologetics than it tells us about Anthony Flew or about atheism.

  23. Neil Rickert: And then, suddenly, he was a famous athiest, except that atheists didn’t know much about him.

    I don’t know about you, but I was never on the look out for atheist role models. Non-belief has been a non-issue for most of my adult life and it always seemed rude to confront the occasional assertive believer that I encountered. There’s a late flowering in me of curiosity regarding the mechanics of belief. 🙂

  24. Elizabeth,

    What do you mean, over to me? I was contextualizing my answers before I answered OMagain’s “Cupertino” and “Fair Die” questions.

    You’re free to believe whatever you want for whatever reasons you consider appropriate. I don’t really know what you’re expecting here in terms of a response.

  25. OMagain: On the balance of probability, given your entire life experience up till now, is it more likely that

    A) He was able to fly
    or
    B) He did not fly

    I have no idea what the probability is.

  26. Alan Fox: An honest and enlightening exchange of ideas, perhaps?

    Well, it seems to me that EL and I share some things in common in our past – the particular concepts of god that she and I had before our transitions to non-theism were terribly troublesome. I think a lot of theistic beliefs are like this – they are comfortable as long as you don’t dig too deep or question too much, but once you do the problems become unbearable.

    However, it’s my opinion that EL and many other non-theists and atheists and anti-theists simply traded one unexamined comfort zone for another, and the reason their current non-theistic comfort zone is still comfortable is because they either will not or cannot examine it as carefully nor as deeply as they did their problematic theism.

    Many theists-turned-atheists, IMO, have an emotional and a political investment against theism that makes it very difficult for them to even give theism a fair shot. For the most part, they insist upon arguing against the same concept of theism they turned away from, as if it is the only form of theism that exists.

    I agree some forms of theism should be rejected. However, theism shouldn’t be categorically rejected because, categorically speaking, materialism/atheism has serious logical and practical issues once you dig deep into the consequences of such a worldview.

  27. Elizabeth: Can you give me some arguments for the existence for a god of some sort?

    Google: Arguments for the existence of god.

  28. Alan Fox: I don’t know about you, but I was never on the look out for atheist role models.

    The same here. I first heard of Flew as a “famous atheist” on the talk origins usenet group. And I probably only noticed because I had read that philosophy book by Flew so the name was familiar.

  29. William J. Murray: To enjoy the game.

    No, rather why have you chosen that particular conceptual model? Have you examined dice to see if they are fair before you use them? On what basis are you choosing that particular model over the many others?

  30. No, rather why have you chosen that particular conceptual model?

    So that I can enjoy the game.

  31. Kantian Naturalist: Actually, I am not sure about that. We learn from the history of philosophy that there’s an irreducible difference between empirical reasoning and formal reasoning, because every attempt to reduce empirical reasoning to formal reasoning has failed (as has every attempt to reduce formal reasoning to empirical reasoning). Isn’t historical knowledge a kind of empirical knowledge?

    Are you saying anything else here than “The historical debate between empiricists and rationalists is ongoing.”? I guess not. But notice what the debate is about. Is it about some empirical facts or is it about logical categories of epistemology? The latter of course.

    Kantian Naturalist: Yes, at this point I’m much less confident than you are that the supernatural, immaterial, and noumenal actually mean anything.An intellectualized or rationalized myth is still a myth.

    Only a reductionist physicalist can say this. And we both know you are not that. So I’ll be looking forward to your rephrasing of this statement.

    For example what are entities of math and mental concepts, if not immaterial? And math and mental concepts obviously mean a lot. On the other hand, elementary particles of matter by themselves, without observation and categorisation, mean absolutely nothing, even though one might insist they are the least mythical things in the universe.

    Kantian Naturalist: By “norms” I mean shared tendencies of behavior that made explicit in prescriptive claims, and where the making of prescriptive claims plays a role in producing the relevant behavioral tendencies. Granted, it’s a pragmatist thesis.

    So “norms” are like “discourse” in postmodernism? This can be (as it must be) transcended. Normally, as soon as we realise that we are trapped in a mode of thinking, the realisation itself opens a door to a review of the mode of thinking, an opportunity to transcend it.

    So, realisation is the mechanism of transcending norms. Does this mean I am explaining norms in terms of logic? Isn’t realisation a real-life mental event that leads us to comprehend that there are norms, what norms are and what can be done about them?

    Kantian Naturalist: Those are among the desiderata of any theory, whether empirical or formal. The question here is how far we can go in using those criteria in formal domains, and whether those kinds of theories can tell us anything beyond how reality might be or must be.

    Formal analysis is the only method that tells us what reality might be or must be. Just try to propose an alternative method. What would it be? Does empirical inquiry tell you what reality might be or must be? Empirical method cannot help you even see around the nearest street corner. Rational expectation does.

    Kantian Naturalist: The problem, though, is this: whether or not the phenomena theism purports to explain are genuine phenomena is internal to the metaphysical doctrines themselves. To see them as real phenomena is already to have adopted a theistic view; to see them as unreal is already to have adopted an atheistic view.

    And nobody is able to contemplate the two views in turns to compare their respective virtues and shortcomings? Come on.

    Kantian Naturalist: In short, I don’t think that empirical evidence or formal reasoning can furnish us with reasons for preferring one over the other.A strictly epistemological approach — however much it conjoins the insights of empiricism and of rationalism — can’t take us beyond agnosticism. Whether one opts for atheism or for theism, it’s a leap of faith in either direction.

    And leaps of faith are to be avoided? What is a leap of faith, in your opinion? Try to be about as specific as I was about realisation.

  32. William J. Murray: Google: Arguments for the existence of god.

    Well, an example of one you find persuasive, William, was what I meant obvs.

    grrrr

    I know there are such arguments. I find none of them persuasive.

  33. William J. Murray: Well, it seems to me that EL and I share some things in common in our past – the particular concepts of god that she and I had before our transitions to non-theism were terribly troublesome. I think a lot of theistic beliefs are like this – they are comfortable as long as you don’t dig too deep or question too much, but once you do the problems become unbearable.

    I’m not sure you are right, there William. I wouldn’t have described the particular concept I had of god before my transition as “terribly troublesome”. In fact I found it coherent and a great comfort. Sure, in the end, I found a fundamental incoherence in there, but it was quite sudden, and rather disconcerting. It didn’t create “unbearable problems” – it simply removed the underpinnings of my prior conception of God.

    So it went.

    But unlike many here, my prior theology was a very benign one, and, notably, did not include a belief in substitutionary atonement, nor the inerrancy of scriptures, nor the damnation of unbelievers, nor in the benefits of petitionary prayer. I believed that God was Love (and vice versa) and that the point of the Incarnation was to reveal to humanity precisely that – that God was Love without limit.

    So it was a sad loss really. Although I still believe, in your specific definition of belief, William, in the value of Love without limit. Whether true or not, it’s an assumption I find to be useful.

  34. Elizabeth: Well, an example of one you find persuasive, William, was what I meant obvs.

    grrrr

    I know there are such arguments.I find none of them persuasive.

    Where did I say you, or anyone else here, would find them persuasive?

  35. Elizabeth:

    So it was a sad loss really.Although I still believe, in your specific definition of belief, William, in the value of Love without limit.Whether true or not, it’s an assumption I find to be useful.

    Why then you think the Pascal wager is irrational?

  36. William J. Murray: Well, it seems to me that EL and I share some things in common in our past – the particular concepts of god that she and I had before our transitions to non-theism were terribly troublesome.I think a lot of theistic beliefs are like this – they are comfortable as long as you don’t dig too deep or question too much, but once you do the problems become unbearable.

    I wouldn’t know about that (and I see Lizzie disagrees with you) as I never found the religious ideas I was expected (in the culture I grew up in) to adopt without question persuasive, even as a young child. They simply did not equate with my personal experience. In particular, the exponents did not appear to live up to the values they espoused.

    However, it’s my opinion that EL and many other non-theists and atheists and anti-theists simply traded one unexamined comfort zone for another,

    How do you form these impressions? You seem remarkably uninterested when people here tell you what they think and believe.

    …and the reason their current non-theistic comfort zone is still comfortable is because they either will not or cannot examine it as carefully nor as deeply as they did their problematic theism.

    This reads as if you were making things up. How do you come up with this stuff?

    Many theists-turned-atheists, IMO, have an emotional and a political investment against theism that makes it very difficult for them to even give theism a fair shot.

    I don’t mind admitting I’m viscerally anti-Catholic. I could give you a long list of reasons. I admit I find it difficult to give even Pope Francis a fair shot. At least the authoritarian grip of the Catholic church has loosened a little in Ireland.

    For the most part, they insist upon arguing against the same concept of theism they turned away from, as if it is the only form of theism that exists.

    Well, the mainstay of religion is cultural inertia. I grew up in the culture of the Church of England so there wasn’t much to turn away from, though the music is still good.

    I agree some forms of theism should be rejected.

    That’s a choice everyone should be free to make. Sadly, in many cultures, it isn’t.

    However, theism shouldn’t be categorically rejected because, categorically speaking, materialism/atheism has serious logical and practical issues once you dig deep into the consequences of such a worldview

    That’s a bit vague and, in my view, incorrect. I’ve lived my whole life quite happily without religion. I never got the concept and find it difficult to understand the intellectual appeal of religious arguments. I fully understand the emotional appeal and don’t mind at all joining in as a cultural Christian at weddings and funerals though I would prefer that this or something similar caught on.

  37. Blas: Why then you think the Pascal wager is irrational?

    Blas, this is a silly question.

    Pascal’s wager is based on the (possible) existence of the christian deity and a heaven which (maybe) awaits believers in that specific deity.

    Pascal’s wager has nothing to do with what you just quoted from Elizabeth.

    How do you imagine they are connected? What prompted you to suddenly ask about Pascal’s Wager?

  38. Alan Fox
    Try working with the premise that other people are giving an honest account of themselves.

    I was working under that premise until Elizabeth claimed there was no evidence for a designer. So now I know the premise is false.

    So what now Alan? Do you likewise deny there is no evidence for a designer?

  39. Alan Fox
    But the model has to have some congruence with reality.

    Why?

    Otherwise you might, for example, drown if you believed you could walk on water.

    So?

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