Is Atheism Unscientific?

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by th.w.heller, Oct 15, 2008.

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  1. lixluke Refined Reinvention Valued Senior Member

    Finally, somebody around here is playing with a full deck. That is correct. Just like Hegel's dialectic about thesis, antithesis, and synthesis. Whenever there is a philosophical view, there are those with the philosophical counterview. In this case, Theism and Atheism. Regardless of what the view/counterview, it is not customary to categorize those who do not take any side under either.

    In the case of theism, those who do not take any sides/uncertain, do not fall under either category. At least the adult world. Perhaps in kiddyland, we can come up with some fun terms such as weak-atheism, and strong-atheism. Let's not forget the ever beloved "atheist-agnostic". LOL.

    Articles within the last few years that have infested the internet like cancer provide completely baseless claims on the etymology and definition of atheism:
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  3. shaman_ Registered Senior Member

    The counterview or antithesis of theism would be antitheism not atheism.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2008
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  5. Zap Facts > Opinions Registered Senior Member

    Please provide evidence to support this bold claim, including proof of my alleged intent.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2008
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  7. lixluke Refined Reinvention Valued Senior Member

  8. iceaura Valued Senior Member

    You appear to be confused in reading your own sources there. Godless belief is not the same as belief there is no God.

    My beliefs are godless - that is, I have no beliefs that include a God. If some one asks me if I am "an atheist", what am I supposed to tell them ? I can see that none of the Gods extant are reasonable or likely to exist, on the other hand I probably haven't thought of everything - who knows what someone may come up with for a Deity, that may prove persuasive to me? So although I strongly doubt that certain specific Gods exist - the God of the Fundamentalist Christian Bible is almost a self parody, and completely unbelievable as a Deity, for example; the Muslim Deity likewise - too transparent an adjunct of temporal power - I have no actual belief in the matter in any significant sense. In the sense that one believes in a Deity, I don't disbelieve in all possibility of such an entity, suitably adjusted to known reality.

    I am convinced, as a matter of judgment not belief, that your God does not exist anywhere but in your mind, as a fictional entity. But I have no belief in some kind of general nonexistence of anything anyone would want to call a Deity - suppose someone believed in and worshipped a cat, wtihout giving the cat any magical powers, simply for the spiritual enlightenment the cat supplies and its profound connection with the spiritual aspects of the universe. Am I going to claim that the cat does not exist, or provides no spiritual benefits ? Hardly. There would be a God that exists. But I would not believe in it,myself - I would continue in my Godless beliefs.

    So what should I call me, in my Godless beliefs ? Atheist seems like the correct term, from Dan's etymology (and my own more thorough one) right up to standard usage by most theists.
  9. phlogistician Banned Banned

    I am godless, because I am without belief in God. Your etymological analysis is flawed, and proves nothing, therefore.

    I do not have a firm belief God does not exist of course, because I would have to have evidence for that position, and there is none.

    So stop beating this dead horse, and accept that atheists simply lack faith.

    Why is it always theists making the incorrect definition of the word? Why do you feel the need to make atheists antitheists?
  10. phlogistician Banned Banned

    Sure there is. It's someone who believes there is no God.
  11. lixluke Refined Reinvention Valued Senior Member

    Yes atheist is the correct term. You believe that there is no God. Those who do not believe there is no God are not atheists as much as they are not theists.
  12. phlogistician Banned Banned

    You talk utter rubbish.
  13. scorpius a realist Valued Senior Member

    imaginary being,right?
    or beings
  14. Roman Banned Banned

    Isn't causality a notion that's based in reality?
    Everyone everywhere has at least some notion of causality. Even a clever rat has an inkling of causality- press this lever, get a snack.

    You aren't a scientist are you?
    I bet you haven't ever done any science, either.

    A fish can't live on the land.
    Some Archaea cannot live outside of anerobic mudflats.

    Evolution & abiogenesis get conflated all the time. Evolution definitely happens. Abiogenesis is more ambiguous.
  15. river-wind Valued Senior Member

    Three points:

    Atheism is to belief as bald is to hair color.

    Atheism is a lack of belief, agnosticism is a lack of knowledge, or more apt, a lack of the ability to gain certain types of knowledge. I do not believe and I do not know, nor do I think I can know, given the evidence at hand. Two different concepts.

    Is Atheism scientific? Well, what is science?
    1. A branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.
    2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.
    3. any of the branches of natural or physical science.
    4. systematized knowledge in general.
    5. knowledge, as of facts or principles; knowledge gained by systematic study.
    6. a particular branch of knowledge.

    Given these, theism would not fit, and any anti-theistic claim would also not fit, as you could not show the operational laws of a theist belief structure or posit a proof of knowledge therein - which is why a follower relies on faith and not knowledge or proof. Per item number 2, science is the study of the natural and material world; any attempt to make claims outside of that world, as in "without evidence manifest in this universe", is unscientific by definition.

    Claims as to the existence or the non existence of supernatural forces that do not effect this material world in testable or measurable ways are not scientific claims, but theological claims. So theism and anti-theism are out of the science 'tent'.

    Lack of theism would be more appropriate, but in all truth, not all that much more. The entire topic of the supernatural doesn't fit in science; a stance on that topic in any fashion doesn't really fit either.

    The only appropriate answer to the question, IMO, is: "The question is not scientific."
  16. Bricoleur Registered Member

    I'm quite conviced their are minor deities that exert control over machines and other technological artefacts. These can only be placated by ministrations from Shaman-mechanicks. Their particular god is Araldites, the goddess of fixing things.
    Apart from that weakness, I am atheist so shan't venture further comment here

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  17. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    not unscientific
    merely beyond empirical claims

    they are metaphysical claims
    metaphysical claims, while controversial, do find their way into scientific discussions

    they do however frequently contextualize empirical claims.
    For instance an almost constant dialouge that runs parrallel to atheism is that reality is materially reducible.
    This has ethical implications (euthenasia for example)

    atheism, as a metaphysical stance, certainly influences how we discern information gathered by the senses (ie, empirical claims)
  18. river-wind Valued Senior Member

    Certainly theological and moral discussions can rely on science as a foundation for argument. But based solely on the definition, I don't think one can say that questions about theism can be qualified as scientific, no matter how heavily they might rely on empirical evidence to bolster the conclusion.

    The line, IMO, seems to sit directly between "I can measure X" and determining conscious supernatural involvement in that measurement.

    That line might move *if* one day someone statistically shows that there is a pattern in the "randomness" of the sub-atomic world, and that pattern shows apparent awareness - just as we test and define life, there would need to be a non-reactionary aspect to the behavior, something that is measurable within this universe, but not sourced from within this universe.
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2008
  19. Avon Registered Member

    Religion is by nature man-made. Is atheism a disbelief in religion or a disbelief in God. For sake of discussion lets use the name (God) as a generic and atheism as a disbelief in a Deity or Deities.

    This then brings up the question: Is God the creator, the created, or is it the sum total of all existence, or an emergence of all. The question cannot even begin to be addressed before this definition is made.

    In the first case atheism is definately valid, the existence of deity is essentially either zero or non-zero. Atheism therefore is also essentially correct or incorrect.

    In the second case atheism is correct in the sense that if God is a human idea it is a philosophical point of veiw specific to that realm but having little or no validity in a strict scientific sense.

    In the final two cases atheism could be considered invalid scientifically because it would be a refusal to recognize what is true, for example believing in creationism when evolution is a scientifically established fact.

    There is no empirical evidence for the existence of God, at least not to my limited knowledge. Indeed the universe appears to be a chance occurance, in this reality things seem to have fallen together in ways that ultimately allowed us to emerge without outside planning or influence. This does not in any way exclude the possibility of a creator, it may have created the universe to look that way.

    Ultimately there is no final answer available to us. I can't even imagine a way to test these questions.

    Critique welcome, flames cheerfully ignored.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Jung might argue that point. He defines religion as a collection of archetypes, and archetypes occur naturally in our brains. (More on that in a moment.) Therefore it could be argued that religion is natural, and not man-made.
    There are no facts in science, only theories which have been proven "true beyond a reasonable doubt," to borrow the language of the law since the language of science is not well suited for communicating with laymen. We cannot say with 100% certainty that the theory of evolution will not one day be falsified, but the probability of that happening is so slight that it is unreasonable to dwell on it. But to get back to your statement, the reason many religious people feel compelled to doubt the theory of evolution is that they have not been taught to distinguish between evolution, which is the slow changing of one species into another through genetic processes, and abiogenesis, which is the transformation of non-living matter into living matter. Evolution is a canonical scientific theory supported by a plethora of evidence of several different types. Abiogenesis is a hypothesis to explain how the very first living things arose. There is no observational evidence for it and reasoned evidence is weak since we don't understand how major parts of it might work. The best evidence for abiogenesis as the source of life is the syllogism:
    • The universe was at one time a point mass of infinite temperature.
    • Life could not have existed under those conditions.
    • Life exists now.
    • Therefore, at least once, life arose from non-life.
    This is a rational argument and therefore is automatically elevated above the scatterbrained attempts at "reasoning" offered by theists, along the lines of "Hey dude, there are freakin' butterflies! That beauty is proof that my god created the universe." Since it's the only hypothesis about the origin of life that is even vaguely scientific, we all cluster around it for lack of anywhere else to go. But it is so full of gaps that it's impossible to test, much less prove. It has not been proven true beyond a reasonable doubt, so it is only a hypothesis.

    Come back in a hundred years when we've figured out how to turn inorganic matter into organic matter using chemical reactions that could reasonably have existed on the primordial earth, and then we'll talk about "proof."

    In the meantime, many religious people back themselves into a corner by feeling compelled to deny evolution, because they don't realize it does not conflict with divine creation. No less august a religious authority than the Pope accepts the theory of evolution without shaking his faith in abiogenesis, and Catholic educational institutions teach evolution unremarkably. The same is true of most mainline Christian denominations, as well as other Abrahamist and non-Abrahamist communities. The evolution denial movement in America comes from the same Bible Belt as the fundamentalist biblical literalism about the "young earth," created in 4000BCE with all species already in existence.
    The only "evidence" for god(s) is an archetype, a pre-programmed instinctive belief hard-wired into our brains by an accident of evolution. (A one-time survival trait, or the result of a genetic bottleneck, etc.) Unfortunately a belief that a person is born with is older than all other beliefs acquired through learning and reasoning, so it "feels" more true than any of them. To many people it "feels" so true as to be accepted as intuitive and uncontroversial. Anyone who does not experience this instinctive belief, or has lost it or shed it, is regarded as mentally unbalanced, perverted, stupid, etc., just as if he lacked the also-instinctive but scientifically corroborated belief that he must eat in order to live.
    This line of reasoning violates the definition of "the universe" as everything that exists. The creator by definition is part of the universe. Saying that he created all the parts we can observe does not answer the recursive question: How did he come into existence?

    People who say "God created the universe" and then imperiously assume that they don't have to answer the obvious follow-up question "Okay then, who created the god please?" are being disingenuous. This is not scholarship so we are not obliged to treat it with respect, and we are quite justified in keeping it out of our educational systems.
  21. Zap Facts > Opinions Registered Senior Member

    Is it unscientific to disbelieve in Vishnu or the Easter Bunny?
  22. lixluke Refined Reinvention Valued Senior Member

    Wrong. Atheism is the conclusion that there is no God. Inconclusion is not atheism.
  23. lightgigantic Banned Banned

    given that Vishnu is said to be beyond the investigation of empiricism, it would be more absurd to be believe that empiricism is capable of in/validating Vishnu in the first place

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