Skepticism and Atheism

Since this is the Skeptical Zone, I think it is appropriate to apply a little skepticism to atheism itself. How could anyone know if they were deceived by an evil demon into believing that God does not exist? Furthermore, if a person was trapped inside a matrix of evil lies and deception, is there anyway to escape and come to know the truth about God?

Certainly it is more likely that an atheist could be deceived by an evil spirit into not believing in God, than it is that all of us could be completely deceived about everything as Descartes proposed in his Meditations. Hence, this is an argument that the atheist should take seriously.

It should also be noted that the empirical sciences are of no help here because for the deception to be successful demons could not leave behind any testable evidence. If there was proof that demons existed, that would constitute strong evidence for the existence of God. So demons must remain hidden and work through nonphysical means.

So what would the deception look like? It would begin by asserting that all knowledge is acquired through the senses with the aid of the scientific method. Scientism, materialism, and naturalism provide the foundation for the deception. Knowledge of God is ruled out a priori.

Secondly, it would promote immorality as normal. Nothing keeps the mind from thinking about God any better than the vices of greed, lust, and pride.. A culture that promotes mindless consumerism, sexual promiscuity. and narcissism is perfect for this.

Finally it would mock religion in general and seek to place restrictions on religious speech and expression. Militant secularism and freedom from religion would be promoted as necessary for a healthy society. If a person never hears about God, then it is much less likely that they will think about God or believe in God.

Since all the elements of the deception are already in place, only a fool or a willing participant in the deception would refuse to investigate the unthinkable alternative. Maybe God actually exists.

Escape from the deception can come about in many ways. The first step is for the atheist to acknowledge the fact that he might be wrong and may have been deceived.

A second step is to consider the fact that everything that actually exists either came from something that actually exists or, is self-existent and exists eternally and immutably. The material things that science studies are all made of parts that can be put together to make something and broken apart and reformed to make something new. There is nothing in the material world that is eternal or unchangeable. The universe that we know is not eternal, it came from something else. That eternal something else that produced our universe cannot itself be composed of material parts for then it would not be self-existent or eternal. It must be immaterial. The immaterial, eternal, and immutable something else is what philosophers call God.

But what sort of being is immaterial and eternal? The one thing that we know of that is like that is our own minds or souls. Our minds are not bound by time. We can think of the past, the future, and the timeless. Our minds are not bound by space. Our bodies and our brains are in one place and our experience is limited to that place at that time. Our minds however, can be anywhere and we can think about anything that we choose to think about including abstract immaterial things that are not in any particular place or time. Most importantly we can choose to think about God.

Religion is the result of our thinking about God, and even though most of our thoughts about God may be wrong, it is possible that God is also thinking about us and wants us to know him. That is a possibility that is worth investigating. I believe that everyone who seriously seeks to undertake this investigation will eventually know the truth about God and be freed from all deception, but first you have to want the truth and nothing but the truth,

0

43 thoughts on “Skepticism and Atheism

  1. I feel extremely skeptical about the existence of “demons” anyway, so unless someone has some evidence of their existence, I’ll not be wasting any time on the thought that one such may be deceiving me.

    Of course, it’s possible that such deceit is in force, but since anything operating it would have powers much greater than mine, AND would be careful to ensure that he/she/it could not be detected by my feeble human powers; so again, I’m not going to worry about it.

    Same goes for gods. If any such want the time of day from me, then they should make themselves known in some incontrovertible manner. If they can’t be arsed to do something as simple as writing a message of introduction in letters of fire across the sky, then I can’t be arsed bending the knee in churches/synagogues/mosques/temples.

    I’m going out now. If I don’t return, I may have been struck by divine lightning for being an infidel. That would be quite something. There’s a clear blue sky out there, and therefore such a demo of divine displeasure would be quite convincing. 

    Then again, Donald the Demon would probably arrange matters so that I didn’t KNOW I’d been struck by lightning. 

    What a conundrum! 

    0
  2. Since everyone’s responses are (apparently) going into moderation because TSZ is currently broken, typing this response is (probably) going to be an exercise in frustration.  I’ll be brief:

    Escape from the deception can come about in many ways. The first step is for the atheist to acknowledge the fact that he might be wrong and may have been deceived.

    That bit is stupid and dishonestly implies that most atheists have not already taken that “first step” of considering that oneself may have been wrong/deceived.  Every atheist I have ever spoken to has already considered that.  

    Lamont, you should NOT be dishonest in your claims when you are supposedly trying to demonstrate the positive virtues of your christianity. You’re a horrible example.  Show some morals yourself! 

    Your claim that it’s a fact that

    everything that actually exists either came from something that actually exists or, is self-existent and exists eternally and immutably

    stinks like a a hog wallow.  You made it up out of thin air (well, some other smarmy christian made it up out of thin air, not you personally, but you share the blame of stinking up the place by repeating it) and now you’re pretending it’s a “fact’.  You fail.  Try again with real evidence and real facts next time, or don’t bother trying at all.  Your choice.  

    0
  3. I identify as an atheist because I lack belief in a god or gods.  I lack this belief because I have never been presented with a definition of a god or gods that is internally consistent or consistent with observed reality.  I have also never seen any objective, empirical evidence for any such entities.

    There is also no evidence for your “evil spirit.”  If and when you have some, please present it.  Until then, skepticism is the only rational response.
     

    0
  4. Just out of curiousity, which god are you referring to, and why did you choose that one over all of the many hundreds of other candidates?

    These are serious questions, and deserve a thoughtful answer. If you do not (or can not) explain why one god is better than another, or why one is better than many, your choice of gods appears capricious and even baseless. 

    0
  5. Since this is the Skeptical Zone, I think it is appropriate to apply a little skepticism to theism itself. How could anyone know if they were deceived by an evil demon into believing that God exists? Furthermore, if a person was trapped inside a matrix of evil lies and deception, is there anyway to escape and come to know the truth about God?

    Certainly it is more likely that a theist could be deceived by an evil spirit into believing in God, than it is that all of us could be completely deceived about everything as Descartes proposed in his Meditations. Hence, this is an argument that the theist should take seriously.

    So what would the deception look like? It would begin by asserting that all knowledge is acquired through a combination of faith in God and study of scripture, regardless of how that knowledge contradicts what we directly observe. The superiority of knowledge of God through faith and scripture is accepted a priori.

    Secondly, it would promote a local, arbitrary and self-contradictory morality as objective and universal. Nothing keeps one thinking about God more than the proscriptions that flow from a punitive God. Moreover, a culture that construes doubt as evidence of lost salvation and a path to eternal damnation wields a powerful weapon against independent thinking, and specifically against conscious consideration of the possibility that God does not exist at all.  

    Finally it would valorize religion in general and seek to place moralistic restrictions on secular speech and behavior. Militant religiosity would be promoted as necessary for a healthy society. If one hears about nothing but God and the proscriptions and punishements associated with an angry God, then it is much less likely that they will think about the world with the objectivity required to doubt the existence of God.

    Since all the elements of the deception are already in place, only a fool or a willing participant in the deception would refuse to investigate the unthinkable alternative. Maybe God does not exist.

    Escape from the deception can come about in many ways. The first step is for the theist to acknowledge the fact that he might be wrong and may have been deceived.

    A second step is to consider the fact that scholastic arguments that purport to prove the existence of God from an armchair fail to establish anything that is not tautological or assumes its conclusions. Such arguments are only convincing to those who are already lost in the deception, and are contrived to further that deception.

    But what sort of being is immaterial and eternal? The only things that we know of are representations generated by our minds. By means of the flexibility of language we can represent the past, the future, and the timeless. Those representations are not bound by time, space or reality. Our bodies and our brains are in one place and our experience is limited to that place at that time. Our minds however, can represent any place and we can think about anything that we choose to think about, including abstract immaterial things that are not in any particular place or time. Unbound by time, space and empirical reality, those representations may have as their objects entities and phenomena that don’t exist at all. The most important among those is invoked when we choose to think about God.

    Religion is the result of our thinking about God, and though even though most of our thoughts about God may be wrong, it is possible that God is also thinking about us and wants us to know him. That is a possibility that is worth investigating. I believe that everyone who seriously seeks to undertake this investigation will eventually know the truth about God and be freed from all deception, but first you have to want the truth and nothing but the truth,

    0
  6. Since this is the Skeptical Zone, I think it is appropriate to apply a little skepticism to Christianity itself. How could anyone know if they were deceived by Loki into believing that Odin does not exist? Furthermore, if a person was trapped inside a matrix of evil lies and deception, is there any way to escape and come to know the truth about Odin?

    Certainly it is more likely that a Christian could be deceived by Loki into not believing in Odin, than it is that all of us could be completely deceived about everything as Descartes proposed in his Meditations. Hence, this is an argument that the Christian should take seriously.
     
     I think that’s enough to make my point, but we’ll see how it goes…

    0
  7. Thanks for the comments. Sorry about the delays due to moderation. I did not realize that I had to approve each of your comments before they would appear. I would turn off the moderation for all the regulars here if I could.

    Three points in reply.

    1. This is a thought experiment much like Descartes’ original. I am not claiming that any of of you are deceived. It is just something to consider if you are so inclined.

    2. The view of God presented here is that held by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. It is not a Christian invention, although most Christians would agree with it.

    3. Any view of God that imagines that God is a material being composed of parts fails to be even a possible candidate for a self-existent being. Hence, Socrates was accused of being an atheist because he did not believe in the gods and goddesses that were a part of Greek culture at that time.

    0
  8. Lamont, I’m sure that your trivia about “not a christian invention” and “Socrates/atheist” is all very interesting – but how do you think it helps support your OP?  Did you forget what you’re trying to prove here?  Hint: you’re trying to prove that we need to apply skepticism to atheism.  

    You’ve name-dropped a few dead people.  Not impressed.  You’ve still got all your work cut out to prove that Socrates’ god-concept could possibly exist as any kind of real entity, much less that such god-concept could possibly be your christian Heavenly-Rapist-of-Mary-Father-of-Himself-as-Corporeal-Jesus.  Pre-christian inventions of god-concepts aren’t going to help you here.  Socrates isn’t going to help you here.

    Get cracking! 

    0
  9. I think blog-haunting atheists are probably more likely than most to have considered the possibilities of God. Many are former theists, others (like myself) have never believed, but are curious about the grip of this belief on the human mind. But anyone who gives sufficient thought over a reasonable period of time to composing blog posts or comments on sites such as this is pretty well-versed in the basic arguments of theists, and understands their reasons for believing. But that is insufficient grounds for making those reasons one’s own.

    The possibility that a demon is at work calls to mind a doorstepping Baptist who concluded that my failure to accept her evangelism was due to Satan. But of course, if one does not believe in any supernatural entities, one is unlikely to take seriously the possibility that there is a multiplicity of them, vying through elaborate strategies for the rather dubious prize of one’s eternal soul.

    Certainly it is more likely that an atheist could be deceived by an evil spirit into not believing in God, than it is that all of us could be completely deceived about everything

    I don’t think ‘likelihood’ is a matter of popular vote. If choosing between

    1) an enormously elaborate strategy of deception for arranging matters such that the same evidence is perceived by one group as evidence for God and by another as consistent with natural causes

    and

    2) the possibility that the first group is mistaken

    Then I would have to go with 2. 

    Since all the elements of the deception are already in place, only a fool or a willing participant in the deception would refuse to investigate the unthinkable alternative.

    Well, it’s not that unthinkable. Just implausible. But investigation of the deception is ruled out by the very nature of it. It’s all a bit ‘brain-in-a-jar’. So we are left with another class of people, neither fools nor liars but sincere people who do not find the evidence for deities convincing.

    If one is prepared to countenance the possibility that demons deceive, there is also the possibility that God himself deceives. That there is only one supernatural entity whose essence is neither good nor evil, but arbitrarily dispenses good and ill on a whim. Or one that makes fluffy bunnies as part of the deception, but considers the parasitoid wasp the true fruit of his designing labours, with a maniacal cackle as soundtrack. It’s possible.

    0
  10. The view of God presented here is that held by Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. It is not a Christian invention, although most Christians would agree with.

    Invention is exactly the right word!

    I just wonder how we can be sure what Socrates, Plato and Aristotle thought or believed as we can only rely on what is left of their writings which, on googling, I find open to several different interpretations, atheism, monotheism, polytheism?

    0
  11. And I STILL can’t determine which of hundreds of candidate gods Lamont is referring to, or why he feels that particular candidate deserves the definite article. His words obviously take the “existence” of his own chosen god for granted, a perfect example of assuming his conclusions – probably without even wondering about it. Leaving one dubious about whether he understands skepticism at all.

    0
  12. sez lamont: ” I am not claiming that any of of you are deceived. It is just something to consider if you are so inclined.”

    Remarkably enough, I have considered the proposition that evil spirits might be indetectably fucking with my sensory impressions so that what’s really out there doesn’t match what I think I perceive.
    I’ve considered that proposition… and I’ve concluded that it’s bullshit.
    Specifically:  The proposition ‘evil spirits are undetectably fucking with my sensory impressions’ is a thinly veiled disguise for extreme intellectual nihilism, the position that nothing whatsoever even can be known. As best I can tell, ‘evil spirits are undetectably fucking with my sensory impressions’ does, indeed, destroy atheism—but only because it also, equally, destroys any and all religions/worldviews/philosophies whatsoever. If John Doe wants to present ‘evil spirits are undetectably fucking with my sensory impressions’ as if it were a sure-fire atheism-killer, fine: I want Doe to tell me what religion/worldview/philosophy he subscribes to, and more importantly, I want Doe to explain why ‘evil spirits are undetectably fucking with my sensory impressions’ fails to destroy Doe’s religion/worldview/philosophy. Absent that explanation, I conclude that Doe himself is just bullshitting.

    0
  13. ‘Struth, those elders believed whatever today’s theologizer needs them to have believed.  Interpreting the scraps of ancient Greek authorities for modern theology is even more of a creative fiction than interpreting the ancient Testament. At least we have a complete text of the Torah/Pentateuch (after the rabbinical authorities finished editing it circa 400BCE).  We have zero written by Socrates.  Poor old dear, he’s at best second-hand news and at worst completely invented. 

    The funny thing to me is that it’s so foolish to look for validation of today’s ideas in ancient “wisdom” anyways.  Why under god’s blue dome do christians think anyone – not just an avowed atheist, but anyone – would be impressed by some thousand-years-dead philosopher ? Why are they so easily impressed themselves?  

    We don’t namedrop Avicenna to give people confidence in our modern medical research.  We don’t even namedrop nearly-modern Ben Franklin to lend authority to the city inspector who is signing off on the electric wiring in your new house.   

    I think Lamont namedrops because religion is bankrupt.  WIthout evidence, they have literally nothing better than their interpretation of the scraps.  

    If Lamont believes that xe does indeed have evidence, I challenge hir to produce it here.   Let us examine the evidence skeptically, as the OP suggests we should.  

    0
  14. Cubist, when you produce a profanity laced rant like you just did it is enough to make any sane person think that you may be possessed by a demon. If you cannot control your own speech, maybe you should seek out a good exorcist.

    Flint, if you cannot tell the difference between a material being and a immaterial being then I cannot help you.

    Hotshoe, it is unfortunate that you have never read Plato or Aristotle. We have several volumes of their writings and they provide a pretty clear picture of who they and Socrates were and what they believed. Also, Mary was not raped by God, She gave her consent. It is in the gospel of Luke. You should check it out.

    0
  15. Lamont,

    Produce a coherent, internally consistent definition of “god” and provide some objective, empirical evidence for the existence of such an entity and we can have a conversation.  Until you do so, you are literally talking nonsense.
     

    0
  16.  Also, Mary was not raped by God, She gave her consent. It is in the gospel of Luke.

    So intercourse took place! Presumably, then, Jesus had a full set of chromosomes. A cynic might suggest it was a good cover story that Mary came up with!

    0
  17. How could anyone know if they were deceived by an evil demon into believing that God does not exist?

    That might be a good question.  However, an atheist is not required to believe that God does not exist.  So I don’t see it as a basis for skepticism about atheism.  It perhaps leads to skepticism about anti-theism, but that’s not the same thing.

    For myself, I do not find any credible evidence of a god that is relevant to me.  Whether there are unevidenced gods or non-relevant gods, I leave to others to argue about.

     

     

    0
  18. Thank you for confirming my suspicion that you have no intention of engaging in substantial discussion. Have a great life, lamont!

    0
  19. Lamont,

    I don’t understand how your response is even remotely relevant to my question. I asked how you decided which of many candidate gods to believe in. What criteria did you use? If you cannot answer this, I’m not particularly surprised. 

    0
  20. Lamont: Certainly it is more likely that an atheist could be deceived by an evil spirit into not believing in God, than it is that all of us could be completely deceived about everything as Descartes proposed in his Meditations. Hence, this is an argument that the atheist should take seriously.

    Is it more likely? The problem is, the existence of “demons” assumes the existence of an inexplicable realm from which they were created and exist. And that has implications which I think you haven’t quite considered. 

    Specifically, if we do exist in a finite bubble of explicably, which is an island in a sea of of inexplicability, the inside of this bubble cannot be explicable either. This is because the inside is supposedly dependent what occurs in this inexplicable realm. 

    Any assumption that any part of the world is inexplicable leads to bad explanations. That is, no theory about what exists beyond this bubble can be any better than “Zeus rules” there. And, given the dependency above, this also means there can be no better explanation that “Zeus rules” inside this bubble as well. 

    In other words, what’s inside this bubble would only appear to explicable if one carefully avoids asking specific questions.

    Lamont: So what would the deception look like? It would begin by asserting that all knowledge is acquired through the senses with the aid of the scientific method. Scientism, materialism, and naturalism provide the foundation for the deception. Knowledge of God is ruled out a priori.

    The idea that all knowledge comes thought the senses is inductivism. However, as Popper pointed out, induction does not withstand rational criticism, as no one has actually formulated a “principle of induction” that actually works in practice. Nor does one doesn’t need to be an inductivist to be a non-theist. See Critical Rationalism.

    0
  21. Lamont: Flint, if you cannot tell the difference between a material being and a immaterial being then I cannot help you.

    Lamont, just a bit of perspective on your logic here, but how exactly would one tell the difference between a material being and an immaterial one? I mean, assuming one could detect an “immaterial being” in the first place – which I currently find to be quite beyond possibility – what would be the key indicator that said entity was indeed “immaterial”?

    Let’s start with stimuli. Would an immaterial being be able to make sound? How? Would an immaterial being reflect light? How? Would an immaterial being have any essence we could feel? How would that essence be manifested? Would it have an odor? How? A taste? How?

    Do you see the problem Lamont? The very definition of “immaterial” means that your entity would not be detectable within the material realm by those entities with senses for material stimuli. You might imagine that an immaterial object would have some indirect effect upon matter, but then I’ll just ask why you presume that.

    Without some kind of material substrate, there can be no interaction with other matter. Unless you can demonstrate otherwise, I see no reason to accept that any “immaterial entity” could even exist.

     

     

    0
  22. I still don’t get it. Is Lamont trying to say his god is the only immaterial god? Or the only material god? I’m guessing he decided to believe in his god because it was the only one that was, well, whichever, I can’t tell. I don’t know how he can tell either.

    And what I asked was why he selected the god he did, out of all the available candidates (plus any new candidate he might wish to “discover”). I can’t tell how the difference between material beings (people) and immaterial beings (gods) helped him make his selection at all. Or what his question might mean in that case.

    I think Lamont realized he was utterly unable even to address the question honestly, and decided to evade it by changing the subject. A time-honored religious technique, to be sure.   

    0
  23. Nonsense, Robin.

    We need not detect causes to know they exist.  What causes neutrons and protons to stick together?  The strong nuclear force.  But what is the strong nuclear force?

    Right, you have no f!@#$%^ idea, like the rest of us.  But does the strong nuclear force exist then?  Remember we haven’t detected it.  We have only detected its effects.  

    You cannot see, smell, touch, hear or taste the strong nuclear force.  

    Yet it exists in that most unfathomable of ideas, the immaterial.

    Hmmm.

     

    0
  24. Steve,

    The underlying problem is, we are great at seeing patterns whether they exist or not – faces in clouds, etc. We can assign names to the causes of these patterns, but naming a cause doesn’t create a cause, and it can create confusion.

    Gods have been invented by nearly all peoples, primarily as a means of assigning a cause to phenomena otherwise not understood. Why did it rain? Why did Joe have to die? Why is my opinion always the best one? There must be a REASON, so let’s make up reasons. Gods are just dandy for this.

    But still, why does Lamont think his god is a better “explanation” of what he can’t understand, than anyone else’s god? 

    0
  25. Flint,

    God is defined as the Supreme Being. There are other beings, idols, demons, and myths that some people worship, so we call them gods because people treat them as if they were the supreme being but they are not.

    Now one of the most important characteristics of the Supreme Being is self-existence. Any being that depends on some other being for its existence is a contingent being and not the supreme being. All material beings are contingent finite and limited by the very fact that they are material beings. Hence a material being cannot be God. 

    The Supreme Being must be immaterial for it to be self-existent, but there could be other immaterial beings that were created by the Supreme Being. However, every created being is still a contingent being that depends upon the Supreme Being for its existence. Thus, no created being can be the supreme being.

    If there is a being that is self-existent and uncreated, then that Being and only that Being is the Supreme Being, and only that Being is God.

     

    0
  26. Lamont: “If there is a being that is self-existent and uncreated, then that Being and only that Being is the Supreme Being, and only that Being is God. “

    The fact that it is possible for any being to be self-existent and uncreated means that it is not impossible for any other being to be self-existent and uncreated.

    You have simply asserted a limit of one uncreated being for no other reason than you require that limit for your worldview.

    If you do have a reason why your limit of one being should be accepted, please state it.

     

    0
  27. Lamont,

    God is defined as the Supreme Being. There are other beings, idols, demons, and myths that some people worship, so we call them gods because people treat them as if they were the supreme being but they are not. 

    This reply is evasive. Those who believe in deities you do not, are just as convinced yours is a myth. Are these people all stupid?  You are engaged in what lawyers call a swearing contest – you swear YOUR god is supreme, they swear THEIR god is supreme, and there simply is no basis on which to decide which of you, if either, is correct. 

    Now one of the most important characteristics of the Supreme Being is self-existence. Any being that depends on some other being for its existence is a contingent being and not the supreme being. All material beings are contingent finite and limited by the very fact that they are material beings. Hence a material being cannot be God.

    Uh, really? You have confected a supreme being, you have arbitrarily assigned it characteristics, you have simply ASSERTED these without any further basis. Then you construct a meaning for “material” in such a way as to assume your definitions. But this buys you nothing. Others SAY their god is just as immaterial as your own. Others SAY you are deluded. How can you show otherwise?   

    The Supreme Being must be immaterial for it to be self-existent, but there could be other immaterial beings that were created by the Supreme Being. However, every created being is still a contingent being that depends upon the Supreme Being for its existence. Thus, no created being can be the supreme being.  

    This is entirely circular, and I don’t follow it. Gods (ALL of them) are “immaterial” but they all “exist” anyway. I suppose if we wish to exercise our imaginations (and suspend our brains) we can ASSERT that no more than one immaterial imaginary supreme being can “exist”, which could not have been created, except that it “exists” which means it must have come into existence somehow. But we won’t worry about that, because we started with our assumptions, we assume them true, and then we point to our assumptions as proof that our assumptions are true!

    If there is a being that is self-existent and uncreated, then that Being and only that Being is the Supreme Being, and only that Being is God. 

    But of course, all gods are created by people, and live ONLY in the human imagination. They are ALL just as immaterial as we choose to SAY they are, they are all just as supreme as we SAY they are, they are all the One True God because we SAY so.

    Super. Now why is what you say better than what others say about their gods? What if I were to insist that Vishnu is the only REAL god, and yours and everyone else’s is fake. What if I sincerely believed that? I confess I would not know how to SHOW that you are deluded, I can only SAY that you are. Just as I think you would SAY that I am. We’re back to the swearing contest again because there simply is NO BASIS for SAYING any of this, other than sheer perverse ego.

    (And indeed, your own god evolved from prior gods, and has continued to evolve ever since, in the imaginations where it lives. Imaginary gods thrived for millennia before yours was dreamed up. So your god holds no pride of place for any reason I can see, except in your own fantasies. But if you can’t see that, I guess I can’t help you either. Dream on, go for it. I can see it makes you happy, and that’s what counts.)    
        

     

    0
  28. God is defined as the Supreme Being. There are other beings, idols, demons, and myths that some people worship, so we call them gods because people treat them as if they were the supreme being but they are not.

    How do you know those “other beings” are not really god? Seriously, how do you know? Did your god personally tell you that? Did your god visit you one night and whisper in your ear, “Lamont, you know I’m the bestest most awesomest and only truly really god there is, right? But you’ve got to watch out: that other-religion friend of yours is going to try to trick you with his other-being imposter god. Your friend is going to try to get you to worship the wrong one of us. I’m telling you, Lamont, don’t fall for his tricks!”

    You didn’t happen to have your taperecorder running when your god had this little convo with you, did you?

    Since you didn’t tape it, why should we believe you? You can’t possibly expect me to believe something that you (being merely some random stranger on the internet) claim with no evidence.

    Evidence. Bring it.

    0
  29. Flint,

    Lamont has not claimed that his God is a better explanation than another’s God.  This is a theme that you seem to want to play on.

    Could it be that you are simply frustrated about how fantastic believers’ explanations of God’s characteristics are?  Be that as it may, the fact that believers can’t seem to get a handle on God’s characteristics doesn’t follow that God is imaginary.  

    Anyhow, to be sure, if there are more than one God, then there are no Gods.  

    0
  30. Thats like saying you can have several foundations for a building. The east face has a metal foundation, the north face has a recycled coke can foundation, the west face has a bamboo foundation, and the south face foundation is laid with compressed cigarette butts.

    does that work? 

    0
  31. Again, whether one’s characterization of God is closer to the truth than another’s still leaves the aroma of the plausibility of God lingering in our nostrils.

    You are simply bothered by confused minds.  

    But then who isn’t confused about life?

    0
  32. ” Evidence. Bring it.” I like this one.  Crisp and clear.

    But er, could you do us a tiny favor and define evidence?

    Yes, this is a sting operation.  So answer slowwwwwwly. 

    0
  33. Steve: “Thats like saying you can have several foundations for a building. “

    No, it means that one being might care about making a universe and the other million watch him do it.

    The key point is there is nothing limiting the amount of uncreated beings.

    If you know of a reason why only one being could exist, then that limiting factor would have to exist before the first uncreated being, which means time must have existed before both of them, which creates the problem of time existing before your creator being.

    If time did NOT exist before your creator being, then your  creator always existed and there was no point in time where he could stop another uncreated being.

    So if “your” uncreated being existed, so could others.

    0
  34. Lamont:

    So what would the deception look like? It would begin by asserting that all knowledge is acquired through the senses with the aid of the scientific method. Scientism, materialism, and naturalism provide the foundation for the deception. Knowledge of God is ruled out a priori.

    Why? What in your knowledge of demons tells you that they would be constrained to deceive in that particular way?

    Secondly, it would promote immorality as normal. Nothing keeps the mind from thinking about God any better than the vices of greed, lust, and pride.. A culture that promotes mindless consumerism, sexual promiscuity. and narcissism is perfect for this.

    Surely the high level of theism in the United States contradicts that point.

    And why? What in your knowledge of demons tells you that they would be constrained to deceive in that particular way?

    Finally it would mock religion in general and seek to place restrictions on religious speech and expression. Militant secularism and freedom from religion would be promoted as necessary for a healthy society. If a person never hears about God, then it is much less likely that they will think about God or believe in God.

    Presumably impossible, rather than “much less likely”. So, why has the demon allowed all the world’s adult atheists to have heard about the concept of “God”?

    And why? What in your knowledge of demons tells you that they would be constrained to deceive in that particular way?

    Your “demon” hypothesis is completely unsupported if you can’t properly answer my questions, and without demonstrable knowledge of demons and how they operate, you won’t be able to.

    Welcome to The Skeptical Zone.

    0
  35. Steve: Nonsense, Robin.

    We need not detect causes to know they exist.  What causes neutrons and protons to stick together?  The strong nuclear force.  But what is the strong nuclear force?

    I didn’t note anything about “causes”; I noted that “immaterial things” don’t reflect material stimuli. I can’t fathom how anything could be considered “immaterial” when there’s no way to even recognize something that is “immaterial”.

     

    Steve: Right, you have no f!@#$%^ idea, like the rest of us.  But does the strong nuclear force exist then?  Remember we haven’t detected it.  We have only detected its effects. 

    I see you’re missing the point Steve. I don’t have to know how the SNF works to know that it is material. How do I know the SNF is material? Because I can see it. I can actually see the force attracting nucleons and I can see the result of breaking that force in nuclear weapons. 

    Steve: You cannot see, smell, touch, hear or taste the strong nuclear force.  

     

    Yet it exists in that most unfathomable of ideas, the immaterial.

     

    Hmmm.

    Nonsense. I can see and feel (and taste and touch and hear) the strong nuclear force. It is quite material.

    0
  36. Lamont: The Supreme Being must be immaterial for it to be self-existent, but there could be other immaterial beings that were created by the Supreme Being. However, every created being is still a contingent being that depends upon the Supreme Being for its existence. Thus, no created being can be the supreme being.

    If there is any being that is immaterial, be it “supreme” or not, there is no way for any material component to act on said immaterial item or, by association, be acted on. Thus, anything immaterial is as relevant to those entities of the material world as things that don’t exist.

     

    0
  37. BTW, I have no idea how either Lamont or Steve defines “immaterial”, but I’m using Merriam-Webster:

    Immaterial
    : not consisting of matter : incorporeal

    So, per Einstein, if something does not consist of matter, it has no mass, volume, or energy. Without energy, mass, or volume, it can have no effect within a material realm. In other words, there could not even be any indirect evidence or effect for such an entity. For all intents and purposes, such an entity would be non-existent to anything existing in a material realm and vice versa.

    I suppose in some theoretical sense, an immaterial object could still exist, but it would have no way of interacting with the material or effecting anything within said material world. So, I’m at a loss as to the significance of this supposed “supreme being”  of which Lamont writes and I cannot find any justification to care about such an entity, let alone believe in it.

     

    0
  38. Lamont: God is defined as the Supreme Being. 

    I don’t think people are disagreeing this is the claim being made. Rather, the issue is, it represents an idea that would be subject to criticism.

    For example, you haven’t given a reason to prefer one supreme being over a Supreme Being and his equally powerful twin brother. As such, what you have is a logical possibility that appears to be arbitrary. That we should accept this possibility over another because the Bible is an authority source dictated by a supreme being is both circular and authoritative in nature. 

    Lamont: Now one of the most important characteristics of the Supreme Being is self-existence

    *The* Supreme Being? If one being can exhibit “self-existence” then why can’t others? Because it’s not “defined” that way? 

    Lamont: However, every created being is still a contingent being that depends upon the Supreme Being for its existence. Thus, no created being can be the supreme being. 

    I’m confused. On one hand, you are appealing to a being who’s existence is incomprehensible because it is “uncaused” and exists in an incomprehensible realm. On the other hand, you are assuming that casualty should apply there in the case of other beings that are also incomprehensible. 

    Again, it is unclear why some things in this incomprehensible realm should behave in a comprehensible way while others should not. 

    And since our realm is supposedly effected by what happens in
    this realm, it’s unclear why anything *here* should behave in a comprehensible way either. IOW, any assumption that the any part of the world is incomprehensible leads to bad explanations.

    Lamont: If there is a being that is self-existent and uncreated, then that Being and only that Being is the Supreme Being, and only that Being is God.

    Which, again, is parochial, as it’s unclear why there couldn’t be more than one uncaused being.

    For example, if we set aside the problem of an inexplicable realm, why is only one uncaused being the best explanation for what we observe? What problem does a single uncaused being solve that multiple uncaused beings would not?

    0
  39. Again, whether one’s characterization of God is closer to the truth than another’s still leaves the aroma of the plausibility of God lingering in our nostrils.

    The characterization of any god IS that god, there being nothing more involved than a characterization. So no two people can believe in exactly the same god, because no two people have identicial imaginations.

    What we’re talking about here isn’t really gods at all, but rather whole complex detailed mythological systems. This is why (for example) Jason Rosenhouse can be a lifelong atheist, and STILL be proud of his Jewish heritage and continue in those traditions.

    So anyway, ALL characterizations of all of the various gods are equally truthful, equally faithful at describing at least part of an imaginary landscape. Lamont makes two errors here – he reifies his personal landscape, trying to make it “objective”, and he assumes that HIS imagination is the only “right” one.

    THEN he demands that everyone else accept HIS landscape as the playing field of discussion, and if others don’t accept it, he takes his ball and bat and goes home.     

    0

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.