Atheism, theism and jelly beans

Discussion in 'Religion' started by James R, Aug 3, 2019.

  1. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    So, definitely a sock that's got a chip on his shoulder from past perceived injustices.
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  3. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    You continue to make excuses for your poor behaviour.
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  5. davewhite04 Valued Senior Member

    Who questions your behaviour?
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  7. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Obviously you haven't been paying attention to what goes on around here.

    There's you, for starters. What do you think you just did?
  8. davewhite04 Valued Senior Member

    Nope. I remember Prometheus or some Greek god mod who I thought owned this site, but are you the owner?
  9. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I'm not the owner. I'm an administrator.

    But you've missed two relevant points. One: people question the things I say and do here on a regular basis. You're free to do so, too, provided you abide by the site rules. Two: in the first instance, I was not commenting on foghorn's display in any official capacity, but rather as a member of this forum who is as entitled to express an opinion on such things as any other member.

    foghorn has not been moderated for his behaviour. I was simply wondering whether he'd do the decent thing. Apparently, he won't, so I guess we'll leave it there unless you have something you want to add, davewhite04.
  10. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    And that's the problem of "extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence." Even if someone were to tell you that God was as ordinary as the people you meet everyday, you'd likely believe that God should be more than that. So either way, you would not accept any tomato-like evidence for God. Either the evidence is not extraordinary enough or the description of God isn't extraordinary enough. It's a criteria that insulates itself with incredulity.

    Yes, the descriptions can be as numerous and unique as the different people who espouse it. What is being described is a belief, not a material object. Most reasonable people accept the fact that someone claims to believe something, even if they do not themselves. Whether that's their favorite food or belief in a God. There's no consensus on favorite food either, and some preferences can be almost as vexing.

    Sure there are analogies. Humanity as a whole has impacts we cannot conclusively attribute to it. A God cannot really act contrary to natural laws it originated, as it would be contradicting itself. What's more likely is that those claims express unknowns in the natural laws themselves.

    I don't either, as I said above. Much more parsimonious to accept the pretty obvious fact that we don't understand all natural laws.

    Many on either side of that debate seem incapable of seeing things from the other's viewpoint.

    The natural explanations of morality originated solely as in-group mechanisms and do not explain why such study results correlate so well with religious notions. Yes, I said anecdotal experience is a factor, and those are even less compelling, because they are personal, subjective experience. As an analogy, I'm a bit colorblind. So for example, I experience a particular color as pink but others see it as orange. Knowing I am colorblind and that many people agree that it is orange doesn't change my experience. But neither would it convince anyone else of my viewpoint on the matter.

    It's not just a "gut feeling"; it's reality, as I experience it.
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  11. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Then you labor under a false belief, which doesn't bode well when trying to argue that religion may be a false belief. Such an argument may be justification for otherwise unjustifiable subjective belief or person experience.
    Even the most devout have goals for this life, whether that's to raise their children, get promoted at work, buy a house, boat, etc.. Since happiness is strongly correlated to having achievable goals and the religious regularly rate as happier, it would seem baseless to claim that the religious have no goals for this life. Or do the religious feel that they actually achieve something, in this life, due to their beliefs? Either way, they aren't some alien species, devoid of basic needs of human psychology.

    That (bolded) is a straw man. There is only one purported unforgivable sin, so every other mistake can be made without any permanent threat to one's eternity. Personally, I think heaven or hell can exist here on earth. Both are mental states.

    But that's a detour into specific beliefs surrounding a particular God, rather than a discussion about God itself or in general. In which case, that a-theism would be more appropriately termed a-Christianity. And that would raise the question of if those who are a-Christianity merely don't agree or actually think it's false, as an analog to your argument about atheists, merely not believing rather than believing a God doesn't exist.

    That's like assuming you can just force any addict into rehab and forever cure them of their addiction. Rehab requires a desire to get clean. A desire that is not inborn and only has the potential to manifest itself once certain circumstances have obtained. Free will necessitates that God allow the individual to realize things for themselves, like the movie Inception, where a person knows the genesis of an idea. It's not a "decision God might make"; it's a decision only each individual can make. Whether God can predict the outcome is completely immaterial to the necessities of the subjective process.

    The Holy Spirit is the human conscience, and as such, the judgement is between the person and their own inner voice.
    Again, are you arguing against theism in general or Christianity specifically?

    If I really have to explain why freedom is a good thing, so much so that humans have chosen to die for it throughout history, I'm afraid no argument I could make will enlighten you. May be a blind spot of living in the most free and prosperous time in human history.

    If life seems unjust to you, your attitude is quite directly attracting more perceived injustice. That's not a result of a past life; that's the result of your current thinking and mental state. The status quo would be to deny that and continue to live as a victim. The lesson of karma is that our belief and behavior have an impact on our experience and perceptions. You seem to only view karma as a judgement on others, which is the furthest from its intent. Only when it is internalized can people use it to make positive changes in their current lives. Karma isn't some kind of inescapable curse under which you are destined to live out your days. It is always actionable.

    And that is your own unjustified belief. In my direct experience, I've never seen such a person to actually exist in the real world. Perhaps you should expose yourself to more religious people.

    Certainly. Might as well just be fantasizing if a belief has no impact on your life.

    I never said either. And how does human selfishness tell us anything about the existence of God? Again, are you arguing atheism or a-Christianity?
    The possibility for a reward is not mutually exclusive to a genuine desire to do the right thing, nor is understanding that choices have consequences selfish. But since the religious give more to charity, the outcome is an objective good, regardless of motive.

    Again, God gives people the choice to make themselves. It would be compelled if God's existence were an obvious, objective fact or God just sorted them out without any choice. Saying there are positive and negative consequences for our actions and choices is a fact of life. Just because you don't seem to like how that is expressed doesn't make it any less true.
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  12. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    How do I truly know if God has entered my life?
  13. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Like love, you just know. If it goes bad, you may later decide that it wasn't really love, but at the time you're pretty sure.
  14. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Maybe I don't know what love is, and I need help.
  15. Tiassa Let us not launch the boat ... Staff Member

    For the record, I do. Don't get me started.
  16. Beer w/Straw Transcendental Ignorance! Valued Senior Member

    Is your real name: Leonard McCoy?
    Oh wait, I didn't want to instigate!
  17. Vociferous Valued Senior Member


    Seriously, do atheists who seem to equate theism in general with Christianity, so much that they might as well be called a-Christianity, merely disagree with Christianity or actual believe it is false?
    If the latter, that would seem to undermine the claims of the OP. Either an atheist can separate theism from every specific religion (one not weighing on the other), they merely don't espouse religious beliefs just as they merely don't believe a God exists, or they believe some/all religions are false and cannot extricate that belief from an equally committed belief that a God does not exist.
  18. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    I think I commented earlier on the thing about focussing on Christianity. I think that often has to do with (a) the background of the atheist, and (b) the particular religion being espoused by the the atheist's interlocutors.

    Speaking for myself, I do not believe in any Gods. My non-belief is by no means restricted to non-belief in the Christian God. I also don't believe in Allah and Zeus and Vishnu and Shiva and Thor and Baal, or any of the other ones. As for Christianity, I think that many of its claims have been pretty much falsified at this point, which would make it false. That's a separate discussion, though, from the one that is the subject of this thread. Christianity makes many more claims than just the claim that a God exists. A lot of those claims are quite specific, and some are testable. Of course, it's also important to recognise that there's not just one Christianity; every denomination has its only specific beliefs and articles of faith that aren't necessarily shared by other Christian denominations. This is true to such an extent that it's impossible to tell much about what a person's specific beliefs are if they merely identify themselves as Christian.

    If there is no God, then it follows automatically that religions that assert the existence of a God must be false (at least in that respect). On the other hand, showing that a particular religious belief is false is not the same as proving there is no God.
  19. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Atheism is not defined as a disbelief in a particular God. So any atheist that needs to resort to particular religious claims, as opposed to just theism or it's types (mono-, poly-, pan-, etc.), is actually lending those claims some degree of credence, which would seem to belie any anti-religious stance. And why would an atheist lend religious claims credence unless they had some doubt as to the existence of God?

    Can you point me to a post detailing these falsified and testable claims? These are usually naive, literal, or mischaracterized readings of the claims erected as straw men.

    Using an anti-religious stance to bolster your atheism undermines it, making it anti-theism (the positive belief that "there is no God"). Since your OP claimed that atheists are not claiming that "there is no God", I'm not sure why you would argue against particular religious claims, as of they address your atheism.

    Seems, to me, that you're either lending those particular religious claims more credence that an anti-religious stance would allow, or that you've come to atheism by way of anti-religion and only later adopted the non-anti-theism definition of atheism as an easier argument to make. Either way, atheist and anti-religious arguments don't really mix. Only anti-theism and anti-religion are consistent with each other. An atheist (disbelief in a God) should have a consistent stance on religion in general, other than particular claims.
  20. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member


    Atheism, as the idea that there are no Gods, stands in opposition to theistic claims that one or more gods exist.

    If we accept that theists believe they have good reason to accept that their preferred god(s) exist, then it would seem to me to be incumbent on the atheist to point out the flaws in the theists' reasoning on the matter.

    It would be possible for a theist to say "I believe in God just because." and be done with it, I suppose. Maybe some theists actually do that - just believe there is a God without thinking it through at all. Similarly, I guess it would be possible for an atheist to say "I dismiss the notion that there are any gods as ridiculous on its face, just because."

    It seems to me that you're arguing for incivility among atheists, for some reason. From where I stand, if a theist gives me what he believes are good reasons for him to believe in his god, basic good manners demands that I consider his position and his claims. If I want to engage with him at all on the question, it is not good form for me to dismiss all claims that he makes out of hand. If I am to dismiss his claims to his face then in good conscience I ought to be able to give reasons for my dismissal.

    Acknowledging that an argument is being put does not equate to acceptance of the validity of that argument or to, as you put it, lending credence to the argument.

    For comparison, suppose you are talking to somebody who believes the world is flat rather than spherical. Your belief that the Earth is round is not defined as a disbelief that the Earth is flat, even though that is an obvious implication of your belief. To give reasons why the Earth is not flat is not to lend credence to flat-earth claims. At best, there is acknowledgment that to justify one's belief that the world is round, one ought to be able to address the counterclaim that the world is flat.

    I think if you really want to discuss the validity of Christianity's testable claims, that would best be done in a separate thread. There have, in fact, been numerous discussions on this forum in the past relating to specific claims. I am surprised to learn you are unaware of them. For instance, there has been some discussion about whether Jesus Christ was, in fact, a historical figure, as opposed to a fictional character. I hope you will admit that the historicity of Jesus is an in-principle testable claim that Christianity makes. Historians and religious scholars sometimes dedicate their careers to testing such claims.

    There are plenty of other testable claims. For instance, most Christians would hold that God answers prayers, at least some of the time. Yet there have some scientific tests of the efficacy of prayer in life-or-death situations, and the results have been consistent with the null hypothesis (i.e. that supernatural intervention did not occur following prayer).

    Perhaps, if you want to discuss this sort of thing further, you might like to start your own thread setting out some testable claims that your own Christian belief encompasses regarding Christ or God. Then we could discuss whether the evidence in a specific case supports your claims of supernatural involvement. This is assuming that you think that Christianity does make testable claims. Maybe you think it doesn't?

    I should also say that I get the impression you're trying to shift the burden of proof here, too. For example, as a Christian you believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, I assume. That is, you believe that really happened, more or less as described in the gospels, and that the story is not just a foundation myth of your religion, or similar. In my experience, people do not rise from the dead, so it seems to me that it is you who ought to provide some pretty convincing reasons why we ought to believe that Jesus bucked the observed trend. It is not up to me to prove that it never happened. You don't get your God by default.

    I don't really understand what you perceive as inconsistent regarding my stance on religion in general. It seems to me that my stance is that there's no good evidence that gods - of any religion - exist. One particular claim that I reject is the claim that there is good evidence that the Christian God exists, which is consistent with my general position. Another particular claim that I reject is that there is good evidence that Zeus exists, which is also consistent. And so on and so forth. Where's the inconsistency?
  21. Vociferous Valued Senior Member

    Didn't I JUST say that?
    Except that you've pointed out flaws in some Christian's claims to me, even though I never espoused them. That would make that a straw man, at best.

    Again, you're conflating theism with religion, where I have not argued the latter. Since you've said that atheism does not imply that belief in the existence of a God is false, your analogy can only apply to religion. Now if you were to then argue against someone's flat-earth claim in order to show that the Earth may not exist, as you are doing with religion and theism, then you would be lending the flat-earther some credence. You'd be admitting that his claims about superficial features of the thing has a valid bearing on the existence of the thing. IOW, his superficial claims would have to be true for your rebuttal of them to also mean his existential claim is false. Otherwise, it's only his superficial claims you are rebutting.
    Thought you'd be aware of any that addressed any of the claims you had in mind, which is why I asked.
    The historicity of Jesus is well-worn and since proving a null hypothesis isn't possible, it wouldn't likely find compelling evidence either way. So, in principle testable, but not feasibly.
    I'm not so sure what efficacy prayer should demonstrate. Certainly not the "name it and claim it" sort of "prosperity gospel".
    I'm not a Christian.
    I don't really think it's supernatural.
    Oh, I assume it does. But apologetics of beliefs I don't espouse can only go so far.
    Not Christian, and not literally.
    Of course. Only widely shared experience is the default null hypothesis.
    It's inconsistent to claim Christian beliefs are FALSE and use them to argue against the existence of a God, only to hedge about making as forceful a claim about the God's existence. IOW, you refute a Christian claim, and then seem to go "aha, so God can't exist", but when pressed on atheism you beg off and say you merely disbelieve in any God.

    It's all fine and good to disagree with Christian claims, but to infer that those have a bearing on theist claims is not. Yes, all Christians are theists, but not all theists are Christian, and some are even "Nones", with no religious affiliation at all.
  22. pluto2 Valued Senior Member

    It's very very hard for me to believe in God when children are dying every day. I simply cannot understand why God would let children die like that.

    The mere existence of so many birth defects and so many incurable diseases and other forms of innocent suffering is a very big red flag to me, certainly for a 'system' designed by an all powerful, all knowing, and all GOOD being.

    Also there are people who have worked with people with dementia who say that there is no god and that we are just a series of biochemical reactions and mixtures. If you introduce the right chemical into our bodies, it can completely change how we perceive the world and more. Also, if you have too much or too little of a chemical compound, it could completely change the way you view life.

    It is all just chemistry people.
  23. DaveC426913 Valued Senior Member

    And there would be nothing wrong with that of course.

    Generally, I think theists feel the important thing about God is faith.
    If I make a dangerous trek to see my estranged family member, without any logic as to why they should let me darken their door, I may take it on faith that they'll let me in and give me shelter - because I believe generally people are good. That is a valid and honourable way to go through life.

    The only problem comes when theists project that personal ethos onto others, by objectifying this faith into an extant God.

    But we here already know that. Carry on.
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